The first PPV following the Grandaddy of them all, and the first of a new era in WWE if you believe Shane O’Mac, gave the company chance after chance to go in a different direction as all but one title was put on the line. Unfortunately, the show itself was rather disappointing.
Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler
It seemed strange to me that this match should start the kick-off show, especially as Baron Corbin is one of the freshest faces on the show. This would have been the perfect opportunity to kick start his rise on the main roster, but this demotion to warm-up act doesn’t sit comfortably. Worse still, Dolph Ziggler won it in quick fashion with a victory roll! This can only lead me to believe this feud will continue until Extreme Rules if not beyond.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
US Title: Kalisto (c) vs Ryback
For story purposes, if nothing else, this should have been a title change. I know we’ve already had Ryback face the Lucha Dragon one too many times, but Kalisto‘s reign has become boring. The title faces the risk of falling into obscurity if it doesn’t find its way back onto RAW and a valid contender. The championship has been on a downward spiral ever since the John Cena – Kevin Owens feud of last summer. I think it’s time for WWE to either have the belt for fresh talent joining from NXT; commit to it being SmackDown exclusive and giving it more airtime; or abolish it and continue with just the two singles belts. This was another match which felt rushed and, despite being a good back-and-forth contest, the crowd didn’t seem overly interested. The champ retained with the Salida del Sol, but this should really be the last time…
Enzo and Cass vs The Vaudevillans
What a way to start the main show! This match was greeted with such excitement, who would go on to face The New Day for their Tag Team Titles? Both teams are a breath of fresh air in the tag roster, and both deserved to challenge for the belts. However, in a freak accident, this match came to an abrupt halt. Simon Gotch whipped Enzo Amore towards the ropes, after which Enzo attempted a baseball slide out of the ring. The “Smacktalker Skywalker” misjudged his slide and ended up colliding with the second rope before slamming his head against the mat. He was out cold before he hit the deck. The referee called a stop to the match and all in attendance were shocked – Big Cass even shed a tear for his best friend. The only positive to come out of this tragic event is a possible rivalry between the two teams (once the Vaudevillans win the Tag Titles).
Winners: The Vaudevillans?
Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
I was so looking forward to this match! Two of my absolute favourites going one-on-one with a watertight storyline. Add on top one of the best pre-match promos in years and we have a recipe for success! Undoubtedly this turned out to be match of the night. Both men hit their signatures in a great battle (which could have gone on for all three hours for all I cared). Of course there had to be a winner, and Kevin Owens was the right man to go over. One problem I did have, however, was when Michael Cole clearly didn’t know what a Blue Thunder Bomb is. Come on Michael, you’re just asking for Mauro Ranallo to take your job now… After the match, KO did what only he can and gloated about his win before stating he will be challenging for the Intercontinental Championship once again. The fans rightly booed this as Owens should clearly be going on to fight the next Babyface who holds the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but I feel the company may be scared the fans would rather cheer for him than Roman Reigns…
Winner: Kevin Owens
IC Title: The Miz (c) vs Cesaro
Despite the tape on his shoulder, you’d never know Cesaro had just returned from an injury. The Swiss Superman was on top form, displaying his whole repertoire of moves. However, just when it looked like he’d won (and he did, Miz tapped) the referee got distracted. Why did he get distracted? Because Sami Zayn attacked Kevin Owens at ringside. Obviously the “Underdog From The Underground” wasn’t too pleased with his own match result and decided to take action. This led to the A-Lister winning via roll-up, a result which mightily annoyed the Chicago crowd. Presumably this will lead to a Fatal 4-Way between these competitors at Extreme Rules. I feel like the IC Belt is going to become a big match title, i.e. we will continue to see ladder matches, battle royales and elimination chambers to decide the champion for the next few months.
Winner: The Miz
Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho
After so many months of trying, Dean Ambrose finally has a win at a PPV! Now, I usually like any match involving Ambrose, but this one felt a little different. I’m not sure if it is the fact I just don’t enjoy watching Chris Jericho wrestle, or that the match seemed to go on a little too long, but what should have been a good contest bored me. Firstly, the premise of the match was a bit daft – no-one really cares about the talk-show segments on a wrestling program. Secondly, (and this one annoys me the more I think of it) we haven’t seen any real character progression from Ambrose in months. He has the same set of moves, and despite being labelled the “lunatic fringe”, hasn’t done anything to really give that name any legitimacy recently. A heel turn would really do Dean a lot of good.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Women’s Title: Charlotte (c) vs Natalya
Straight off the bat, this was complete bull****! Leading up to the match, Bret Hart was brought in to level the playing field. The only thing he did during the match was look pissed off he was forced to make an appearance. The match itself was clumsy, and the fans chanted “We want Sasha” throughout. As for the ending: come on WWE, did you have no other ideas? REALLY?! How clever are they to reenact the Montreal Screw Job for absolutely no reason… Sure, referee Charles Robinson has idolized Ric Flair throughout his career, but is that all we have? All this means is that we’ll probably see another match between these two women whilst Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and the rest of the women’s locker room sit by idle.
Vince McMahon Decision on who should run RAW
Leading into the main event, we were treated to a 30 minute segment of the McMahon family. Yey. And after all that time, both Shane and Stephanie will be in charge of RAW. Wonderful. Thanks. I’m surprised the CM Punk chants actually died out, the fans were all probably so bored they fell asleep.
WWE Title: Roman Reigns (c) vs AJ Styles
So much debate coming into this match surrounded the potential Bullet Club future. Would they turn on AJ Styles, or would the “Phenomenal One” turn bad? Looks like neither. I was ready to go on a full rampage once the match ended in a count out, until Shane McMahon declared there would be no count out victory. This was a genuine curve ball which I did not see happening. The later decision for no disqualification, I did see coming. However, this left the door open for Anderson and Gallows to get themselves involved. The Usos could get involved too! They did get involved, and it all broke down, and it was wonderful. AJ hit three or four Phenomenal Forearms on Roman Reigns, it looked as though he would pick up the belt. Unfortunately for all watching (unless you’re called Vince McMahon) Roman is just too strong and beat Styles with a single Spear. Surely this means there can be no way AJ will be able to beat the champ if it takes more than three finishers to put the big Samoan down! All could have been forgiven if we had some idea whether AJ, Anderson and Gallows were colluding, but I suppose we’ll have to keep guessing about that one… The WWE writers well and truly messed this match up. Congrats.
Winner: Roman Reigns