I wanted to title this review “A Mirage” at first because shows as good as this episode don’t arise out of nowhere, do they? WWE doesn’t work like that. And after months of boring-to-downright-embarrassing television, how on earth could we expect such a sudden turnaround?
Well, it seems like WWE finally woke up. They surveyed all the negative press, the outside pressures, and finally sat up and decided to do something about it. And the funny thing? They didn’t even do anything big; they just put people in the best places to succeed.
We bitch about Baron Corbin all the time, right? He’s smug, he talks a bunch, and never gets the comeuppance he deserves. He never changes, either; he’s just a constant that we’re just forced to deal with.
Well this time, it was different…for the most part. Seth Rollins was there all night, looking badass as hell and thwarting all of Corbin’s plans with a steel chair in hand. Rollins beat up each man that Corbin named as his guest referee as the night progressed, and he was even aided by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn who walked out on Corbin after he screwed up in their 6-man tag match later in the show.
Roman Reigns is another fantastic example. I swear I can’t remember the last time this dude looked so cool – which is insane because Reigns as the ultimate I-walk-away-from-explosions vibe. Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre were talking trash backstage and hiding from him, so Reigns simply walked to the back and obliterated the duo. He chased McMahon to ringside, launched over the barricade to tackle him, and then left him with a great one-lined: “Crawl to the back and tell Drew I’ll beat his ass on Sunday.”
It goes on and on, man. AJ Styles talked some sense into the Club and gave them direction. Alexa Bliss went out of her way to further buy Nikki Cross’s loyalty. They even did an excellent job to portray all the men who lost in the Fatal 5-way for a United States Championship match in a way that made them look cool.
So yes, this show was excellent. Yes, I’m going to gush about it below. But I also want to say this: this is exactly the standard WWE should hit each and every week. WWE didn’t do anything special, here; they simply gave their talent a chance to shine.
This fire burns
Seth Rollins ain’t playing around anymore, y’all.
He’s as fed up with Corbin’s trash as we are. And he’s not going to let him pull strings anymore. Instead of reacting to everything Corbin does, however, he’s going on the offensive.
Elias opened the show to announce that he was going to be Corbin’s guest referee at Stomping Grounds. The key word there? Was. Rollins struck quickly with the chair shots and vowed to do the same to anyone who was willing to side with Corbin.
A babyface who’s proactive, badass, and fun? I’m in!
Rollins did the same to EC3 later in the show, as well as destroying a contemplative Eric Young backstage. Hell yes.
And he capped it all off with a match against Daniel Bryan. How do you make one of the best wrestlers in the world look good? Put him in the ring with another one of the best wrestlers in the world. Geez, it’s just too easy. They even went out of their way to show “hey, we’re going to make sure you get this match by restarting it.”
I could absolutely do without Corbin standing tall, but whatever. As long as that nightmare isn’t actually a thing come Sunday, who cares.
It’s all Bayley’s fault
Oh man, this is actually really fun.
I’ve mentioned in the past that I struggle with the Cross/Alexa Bliss storyline because we’ve all seen Bliss do this trash with other women, right? Well when you throw in the growing Bayley dynamic, it becomes much more realistic.
Bliss has been doing her damndest to win Nikki’s loyalty by becoming her “friend” while also giving Cross a common enemy: Bayley. Well, Bliss is playing this whole situation to perfection. After Nikki picked up a single’s win over Peyton Royce a few weeks back, Alexa gifted her new friend a Tag Team Title match for this episode. Naturally, Nikki was over the moon to have her first main roster title match.
Meanwhile, Alexa’s been spreading nasty rumors about Bayley, and Bayley’s actions have seemed pretty natural to this point. She dismissed the rumors for several weeks, allowing Bliss time to poison the well a bit, so to speak, before finally coming out to confront Bliss by being ringside this week. And while Bliss was the instigator, all Nikki will remember is Bayley distracting her tag team partner when she needed her most.
Oh, by the way? Enjoy that title defense with Nikki at ringside, Bayley.
Ricochet def. The Miz, Cesaro, Braun Strowman, and Bobby Lashley – Ricochet looked amazing because he fought through the pain to hit all his crazy stuff. Strowman looks good because he destroyed everything and everybody. Cesaro looks good because GOOD LORD MAN YOU AREN’T HUMAN WITH THAT STRENGTH. Lashley looks good by being the pettiest, meanest human being by cheating to eliminate Braun. And finally, Miz looks good because did you see him and Ricochet go toe-to-toe?
Killer first match of the night.
The Fire Fly Funhouse is creepy and awesome – Don’t even ask me to break this one down. Just watch it and bask in Wyatt’s delusional, terrifying behavior. Can’t wait for the next step for his Fiend character.
Becky Lynch and Lacey Evans delve into her military past – See what I mean?! Even stuff like this is much more interesting that what they were doing before. Becky posed a fantastic question, too! “I respect who you used to be, but how do you justify what you’re doing now?”
And Lacey had no good answer. She basically said that she cheats “because the division needs it.” What the heck is that supposed to mean? The only criticism I have is that she comes across as a shallow, low-level bad guy instead of a true danger when she says stuff like that. But even THAT is preferable to doing nothing of consequence.
The Usos def. The Club – AJ Styles gave the Good Brothers a firm talking to. He told them that they were complacent and nowhere near the top anymore because of it. The Club got pissed off and told him they’d get serious, but they still couldn’t make it happen. I really like this and would love to see how they progress. Perhaps they go to SmackDown and get talked down to by Finn Balor as well?
24/7 is still entertaining as hell –
- The potential challengers trying to pull the LED boards off the ring in a desperate attempt to find R-Truth.
- Titus O’Neil being pulled out from underneath the ring with no explanation whatsoever.
- Carmella and R-Truth being dressed AS CONSPICUOUSLY AS POSSIBLE.
- Truth running off clutching a baby doll.
Drew McIntyre doesn’t care about your kids – Another great character moment! Drew’s felt too much like a stooge for McMahon and he was front and center here. The production truck messed up the audio really badly, though which did take a bit of the immersion away.
Heath Slater asked Shane for a raise and got denied. Drew trailed him to act as if he cared about Heath’s plight before dropping some money on the ground for Heath to pick up and absolutely OBLITERATING him. The Revival ran out to hold Drew back before surreptitiously pocketing the cash – yet another great character moment!
New Day def. Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn – New Day can do no wrong. Their antics with EC3 were incredible and (sadly) got EC3 the biggest chant of his main roster run.
Viking Raiders def. Local Talent – They’re back! And their tag moves still rock!
Hulk Hogan promotes the USWNT – Oh dear. You know what? I’ll allow it. Promoting women’s sports is an awesome thing. I’ll shut my yap this one time.
I have very little bad to say about this show. The main thing is “why the hell does it take overwhelmingly bad press to make this happen?” The other is “Lil’ Baby Corb Corbs standing tall tho?” but again, whatever.
Now, one show isn’t a streak. One show won’t change ratings or fix WWE’s issues. But let’s give credit where it’s due.
Gush with me, Cageside. Positivity. Good vibes. Let them flow in the comments below.