Monday, May 7, 2018
The WWE will now be running Pay-Per-Views with both brands. I’m not a fan, as I enjoyed the split PPVs. The roster is currently too loaded to join the PPVs. For example, people like Finn Balor, Ember Moon, Asuka, The Iiconics, Becky Lynch, Elias, Rusev Day, Usos, and many others weren’t booked.
When this was announced, I was hoping for something really good. Unfortunately, this peaked at solid. Bayley looked worse than she has in a long time. Like, when Alexa Bliss embarrassed her last year in the Kendo Stick match, Bayley was bad from a character standpoint. Here, she was in botch mode and looked weak as a wrestler. She did hit a nice hurricanrana to take out Sarah Logan at ringside at one point. A Liv Morgan distraction opened the door for Ruby to hit the Riott Kick and win in 10:06. It was okay, but could’ve done with a better performance from Bayley. The Riott Squad is a united front, while Bayley and Sasha Banks continue to have issues. I’m all for Ruby being the one to dethrone Nia Jax.
The Miz looks odd with no title or anyone by his side. Coming into this match, it was clear Seth Rollins was going to win. Miz is on Smackdown, which has the United States Title, so they didn’t need the IC Title. But, these two professionals went out there and made me completely believe in a Miz win on more than one occasion. Seth’s knee became the target, especially after he missed a knee strike and drove it right into the ring post. It was a great spot. Miz worked on it with a Figure Four and really wore down Seth. The roll through into the Skull Crushing Finale spot led to a fantastic near fall. It got bested when Seth went for the Falcon Arrow/Superplex combo, only for Miz to counter into another Skull Crushing Finale. That near fall was insane. After a series of rollups, Seth found a way to hit the Curb Stomp and retain in 20:30. An excellent opener that was about on par with the WrestleMania one. My only grip was the two finisher kickouts, as it was a bit much. However, the leg work was great, they had some really well thought out sports, and this was the highlight of the show.
Their WrestleMania match didn’t work for me at all (*¾), and I feel like Nia needs to just run through Alexa. This suffered from some of the same problems that the Mania match did. Nia working from underneath as a face just doesn’t work for her. Alexa dominated her at a few too many points, and it just lessens their matches. There was some solid drama in the possibility of Alexa managing to win back the title, especially after knocking the champion during a Vader Bomb attempt. Nia caught Twisted Bliss and won via Samoan drop in 10:17. Again, it went too long and had way too much Alexa on offense. But, there was a semblance of a story and some drama that allowed it to be average.
At the start of 2017, it would’ve been insane to hear that Randy Orton would face Jinder Mahal and Jeff Hardy at back to back Backlash events. We still didn’t get motivated Orton on this show, but he was better than some of his dire performances recently. They had a decent back and forth match, where they were booked to be rather even. While the in-ring stuff was technically fine and there weren’t really any botches, it lacked something to make it feel like a Pay-Per-View match. Hardy avoided the RKO and hit a Twist of Fate, before winning with the Swanton Bomb in 11:48. It felt like a good house show match and nothing more. Basically, the best Orton gives us these days.
Next, we got one of the best segments in some time. I’m not going to fully recap it, because it needs to be seen to be believed. Elias attempted to give us a concert, but got interrupted by the New Day. Each attempt at singing was cut off by a new arrival, including Rusev Day and No Way Jose, who came out with a conga line that included Titus Worldwide and Breezango. The last guy out was Bobby Roode, who planted Elias with a DDT. This was some of the most fun I’ve had watching wrestling in years. Sometimes, you just wanna have a good time.
This was a major disappointment of a feud, even if Cass cut one good promo in the build. Coming in, I figured if anyone could get a good match out of Cass, it would be Daniel Bryan. Luckily, they seemed to tell the right story. Cass used his size to take control. I gotta note that commentary going overboard with explaining that Bryan was the underdog was a bit much. Anyway, Cass’ confidence proved to be his downfall. He wouldn’t take advantage of openings, instead taking time to gloat. That allowed Bryan to rally and put him in the Yes Lock. Cass tapped almost immediately, which killed potential drama. The match went 7:46. The story was okay, but Cass on offense was a snoozefest.
Post-match, Cass attacked Bryan so this can continue for some dreadful reason. Can Bryan just move on to working interesting people?
I loved the video package for this match. I’ve seen a lot of people are pissed that Carmella is champion. I’m in the opposite boat. I’d much rather she be champion than have to sit through another dull Charlotte run. Anyway, Carmella came in with the right strategy. They’ve built the story around her not being on Charlotte’s level, so she wasn’t trying to mix it up with her. Instead, she ran, stalled, and used those old school heel tactics to her advantage. I liked how Carmella got to apply her Code of Silence finisher, only for Charlotte to power out. It furthered that story. Surprisingly, not only did Carmella retain, but she did so cleanly. Charlotte missed a moonsault and tweaked her knee, so Carmella kicked her there and rolled her up to retain in 10:11. Parts of it were dull, but I truly dug that Carmella came in with a good strategy and won by using her brain.
Even though we now know how the match finished, this still should’ve gone on last. Anyway, I saw a lot of folks upset that this wasn’t a No DQ match featuring a lot of weapons and big spots. Why did people expect that? That wasn’t what this was about. It was built around the low blows and how Nakamura is willing to take those shortcuts when he gets in trouble. Granted, it could have used more intensity and more use of the chair that got brought in. It did lead to a rough cut on the cheek for Styles. Once they gave us the first low blow spot, things picked up big time. AJ returned the favor and the final few minutes ruled. Unfortunately, they kicked each other low and neither man could answer the ten count, leading to another no contest in 21:09. They continue to disappoint, but show flashes of what they’re capable of. Those final few minutes were grand and they ultimately told a fine story, but that finish got shit on and for good reason.
They had a fun little tag on Raw a few weeks back (***¼). This wasn’t nearly as good. Like too many other matches tonight, it felt like something you’d get on a house show. Things were technically fine, they just felt hollow. The main story was another tease of Owens and Zayn breaking up. They threw each other into their powerhouse opponents to take the beating alone. Sami slapped Kevin, leaving him alone to take Lashley’s delayed vertical suplex for the loss in 8:40. Lashley’s finish is trash. Also, he feels like just another guy already. That was fast. The match was basic and the ending was sloppy, as even commentary noted how Owens wasn’t the legal man.
I feel bad for Roman Reigns. I honestly do. He constantly goes out and gives us great efforts, but gets put in these no-win, dumb booking situations. Roman spent most of the year whining about Brock Lesnar being the company favorite, yet here he is main eventing a show with nothing on the line. Also, they laid the match out poorly. Joe attacked Roman before the match and put him through the announce table. Once the bell rang, I think everyone knew where this was going. After a hot start, we went into REST HOLD CITY, BITCH! It felt like it never ended. Fans were literally leaving in droves from what I’ve heard. The ones who remained chanted for everything but this match, including what sounded like “beat the traffic.” Yikes. Roman made his usual rally, they gave us some late near falls, he survived the Coquina Clutch, and won with the Spear in 17:54. Stop doing this. Even if you somehow blame the fans for these reactions, go with it and maybe don’t put Roman in the main event. The match was shit and nowhere near the stuff we’ve seen from Joe and Roman in their Raw matches over the past year. Predictable, boring, and felt like it took forever.
The cameras cut directly to the crowd, only to catch a WHOLE BUNCH of people leaving.
Overall: Our first look at WWE giving us monthly Pay-Per-Views with both Raw and Smackdown was a failure. So many good people were left off the show and what we got was lackluster at best. The Kickoff match was decent other than Bayley botching. I thought Carmella/Charlotte told a good story and Nakamura/AJ was headed somewhere very good until that terrible finish. Seth/Miz was hands down the match of the night and deserves to be talked about and watched multiple times. Everything else felt something I’d see on a house show and didn’t belong on PPV. The only things you need to see are Seth/Miz and the ridiculous Elias segment.