Tons of fun wrestling lower down the card but the upper card vastly over-stayed its welcome. Ah WWE, I knew you’d come.
Seth Rollins def. Baron Corbin to retain the Universal Championship
He picked Lacey Evans.
(That’s a fair review, right?)
I mean…I smiled when she was announced as the guest referee, but it wasn’t a pleasant smile. It was the sort of smile you give those in your life that you just have to put up with, do you know what I mean? Do you remember the first Universal Championship match? Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins in a first-ever bout between two of the best in the game.
Now, we have Corbin getting a second Universal Championship match – this time with a gimmicked referee. It’s just…funny. Yeah. Funny.
The crowd pretty much agreed, chanting “This is stupid!” and “AEW!” within the first few minutes of the match. They followed up with “Daniel Bryan!” and “CM Punk!” chants. And this thing dragged on as long as it could. First Rollins put Corbin through a table, so Lacey had to change the match to be No Countouts. Then, when Corbin smacked Rollins with a chair, she had to add on the fact that it would be No DQ.
And here’s why I’m just not a fan of this stuff at all – we all knew how this would end. Rollins has been beating up folks, so Corbin picks someone he can’t beat up. He’s also in a relationship with Becky Lynch, who is also in a feud with Lacey.
These dots aren’t hard to connect. And I’m sure I’ve said before that predictability is totally fine, so long as the story’s good and people care. That’s still totally true! The problem here is that I just had no interest in watching this. My attention waned. Everything was irrelevant until Lynch came out – and it took her a comically long time to appear.
But sure enough, Lynch beat up Evans, a new ref came out, and Rollins won. Butt slaps for everyone.
Becky Lynch def. Lacey Evans to retain the Raw Women’s Championship
I’d probably call this match better than their first, but it’s still not what you’d hope for from a title match in WWE, especially considering some of the stuff lower on the card.
It was helped by a simple story. Becky was selling a rib injury throughout the match. But here’s the thing, Cageside; I’m writing this portion of the review as Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler are making the entrances for their Cage Match and I can’t remember a single thing from this match. Well, okay, I remember Lacey doing an armbar at one point and I remember her immediately tapping to the Disarmher.
But that’s it. I think Lacey has tons of talent and she wasn’t horrible opening the show, either. I just don’t think lengthy title matches at this stage are going to present her in the best way. And after the main event, I’d rather not see her near the top of the card at all.
Kofi Kingston def. Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE Championship
As this match went on, I remember thinking to myself, ‘Boy, they’re really struggling at that cage door a whole bunch.’
Turns out they were setting up the ending to the match. Dolph Ziggler had thrown Kofi Kingston off of him and slowly crawled to the cage door. And juuuuust as he was gingerly lowering himself to the ground, Kofi leapt over the ropes and through the open door, falling first to the floor below.
The champ retains. Ziggler remains sad.
The match was fine, I guess, but the ending was awesome. There’s really not much else to say about this one. It sounds like this feud is finally over, so it’ll be nice to see who’s next to face Kofi.
Bayley def. Alexa Bliss to retain the SmackDown Womens Championship
The story here is mainly that Alexa Bliss threw Nikki Cross in the way to take a dive from Bayley for her. Nikki recovered and let her emotions get in the way by trying to attack Bayley just as Bliss had her set up for Twisted Bliss. The ref stopped Nikki from making contact, but it seemed to ruin the moment. Bayley rallied to pick up the win.
The twist here felt kind of odd to me, like it wasn’t pulled off in the most effective way. Still, I like this story. I wish we had gotten more from Nikki in this spot, but they can make up for that moving forward.
Ricochet def. Samoa Joe to win the United States Championship
So let’s talk about one of the lower-card matches that was really fun: Ricochet vs. Samoa Joe.
Joe and Ricochet brought a completely unique feel to this show, despite not doing anything too crazy. It was your usual David vs. Goliath stuff. The key, really, was how fantastic Ricochet was in his selling. He’d come at Joe with punches, barely move him, and then get launched by a forearm. He’d try to do a flip off of Joe, only to be flipped too far, fall on his back, and lay there in a crumpled heap with his legs in the air.
Joe hit his corner spot where he goes for a head kick and Ricochet half-collapsed, half-staggered into a faceplant. This stuff was fun.
And sure enough, Richochet got into his fast-paced offense and ran with it. He had several dives and moves that relied on Joe being a sturdy launching point. Ricochet even forwent the usual way to break Joe’s Coquina Clutch of walking up the turnbuckles; instead, he leapt over the ropes and used them to break the hold. He finally hit the 630 as well to win his first WWE title.
Fun match, and a potentially fun champion – especially when AJ’s teasing a fight for Raw!
Roman Reigns def. Drew McIntyre – This just overstayed its welcome more than anything. Shane interfered like hell, but I’ll admit it was amusing when Drew was crouched at the end for a Claymore and seemingly had to tell Shane that he was going for a finisher attempt.
Afterwards, Shane announced a 2-on-1 handicap match for Raw. The crowd audibly groaned.
Daniel Bryan and Erick Rowan def. Heavy Machinery – We Recycle! Drive a Prius! We clearly care not one whit about Heavy Machinery!
Message received, Washington. They were an awesome crowd for a show that wasn’t very special. I’ll pin the blame on WWE for this one – actually blame might be the wrong word for it. I’ll place my…bemusement upon them? They wanted to get Heavy Machinery over as a fun tag team, but put them in their big match against a crowd that was always going to be against them.
WWE? You good?
I actually enjoyed this match a decent bit. The crowd was entertaining and Heavy Machinery can be really good at times. This feud’ll keep going, though.
Drew Gulak def. Tony Nese and Akira Tozawa – The Cruiserweight match was pretty damn good. It had some palpable emotion coming from the wrestlers fighting for the title and they got the crowd invested into the bout. Best part? It felt new! I haven’t seen this match before!
…Why was it on the preshow, again?
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn def. The New Day – Piggy backing off the CW match, why was this match second on the show?
Another match that rocked. Why is it only second on the show?
KO hit a bunch of superkicks to open on Xavier Woods, and X was in trouble for much of the match. Big E eventually got the hot tag late and bodied KO and Zayn with his big ol’ power moves. He dove through the ropes to take Zayn out for good, but Big O countered Woods on the top rope, hit a Stunner, and won the match.
I just…I hate the upper card so much these days. I have so little patience for it. This show opened up with tons of fun but once that McIntyre/Reigns match hit, it became a chore.