Not Kick-Off show means two dark matches for the live crowd tonight, as they were treated to Zack Ryder going over Bo Dallas, followed by Mark Henry defeating Joshua Kingsley (That's the artist formerly known as Brad Maddox to me and you)
The opening package focused on Brock Lesnar's clash with The Big Show, whilst also featuring the main event, which felt a bit weird seeing as Rollins and Cena have both moved in different directions recently on television.
Match 1 - Tag Team - "The Apex Predator" Randy Orton & Dolph Ziggler vs. "The Bulgarian Brute" Rusev & "Mr Money in the Bank" Sheamus with Summer Rae
CARD SUBJECT TO CHANGE, BITCHES! Is what I imagine Vinny Mac was saying as Eden Stiles announced the opening match as a tag team contest, despite the bouts being advertised as Orton vs. Sheamus and Ziggler vs. Rusev.
A simple tag team opener with Dolph Ziggler working the Show-Off in peril role and Sheamus and Rusev taking turns to beat down the former World Heavyweight Champion. There were elements of the contest that worked quite well, like Ziggler being unable to make the tag to Orton after body-slamming both Rusev and Sheamus because of his back giving out, even if Ziggler's selling was quite as on-point as it could have been. Beyond that though this was your bog-standard WWE tag bout, with an appreciative crowd. Orton getting the pin on Sheamus following a superkick from Ziggler and an RKO closed off a solid opener.
Winner - Orton & Ziggler via pinfall (Orton on Sheamus (RKO)) in 8 minutes, 39 seconds.
Sheamus getting his heat back after the match, by Brogue Kicking Rusev, was a strange moment and it was clear the crowd didn't quite know how to take it.
A quick recap of Kane and Seth Rollins' current storyline was played, focusing on the events of this week's RAW...for reasons. Those reasons were because Renee Young interviewed Kane straight after, in a segment that had some superb camera work, but made it a little too clear that we'd be seeing Kane interfere in the night's main event.
Match 2 - Singles - "The Man That Gravity Forgot" Neville vs. Stardust
A bonus match! The commentary team (Rich Brenan, Byron Saxton and John "Bradshaw" Layfield) quickly ran down the feud between the two as they headed down to the ring.
Another fun match, with a few added quirks from both performers that don't usually get seen on TV. Neville (bka PAC or Adrian Neville) is always fun to watch for all his flippy stuff and he provided all of that here, whilst Stardust (bka Cody Rhodes) dicked around with his cape. It's shame that the pair never seemed to get into the next level, because they are more than capable of putting on a stand out contest. This one, however, whilst entertaining to watch and being pretty slick, will be quickly forgotten. Here's hoping that both guys get more opportunities to shine soon. Also having absolutely no mention of King Barret (bka Wade Barrett or Bad News Barrett)
Winner - Neville via pinfall (Red Arrow) in 7 minutes, 25 seconds.
Neville got a bit weird with his cape after the match, what is with WWE and capes?
Paul Heyman is a machine, his backstage interview with Renee Young was pretty much perfect and got me more hyped for Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar than anything that's been broadcast over the last two weeks.
Another promo aired for the next edition of WWE 24, looking at NXT, with the news that the episode will air on Monday making me do a little wee.
Match 3 - Six Diva Tag Team - Diva's Champion Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Charlotte vs. Team Bella
Airing the recap from Monday Night RAW, in which Paige walked out on her PCB team mates, left me scratching my head when the competitors made their way out for this bonus match.
Seriously, as all the girls made their way to the ring, I couldn't understand why Natalya wasn't replacing Paige, but I guess with the WWE running another house show that night it was too late to change the plans (Natalya defeated Sasha Banks on that show....offft)
Whilst this wasn't the most inspiring bout that WWE could have put on, I thought the six women told a decent story. It worked as pretty much a reverse of their contest on Monday Night RAW, with Becky and Charlotte walking out on Paige, after Paige had tagged herself into the match. The moment when the pair jumped off the apron got a great reaction out of the crowd, even if it was pretty obvious what was going to happen as soon as Paige basically cost her team the win, tagging in when Charlotte had Nikki in the Figure 8. A special mention to Alicia Fox's Northern Lights Suplex, which is always a highlight of any bout.
Winner - Team Bella via pinfall (Nikki on Paige (Rack Attack) in 8 minutes, 25 seconds
I didn't think much of Paige's post-match promo, as it was a little bit too knowing of the ironic nature of what she was saying and I didn't believe that the character actually felt that way.
A quick recap of Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt's bout on Monday Night RAW, as well as their segment on Thursday Night Smackdown, that was used to promote their Hell in a Cell bout, although they actually weren't on the card tonight. (They main evented the aforementioned house show, with Reigns going over in a No Disqualification match)
Match 4 - Intercontinental Championship - Kevin Owens (C) vs. "Y2J" Chris Jericho
As entertaining as Chris Jericho's pre-match promo was, I couldn't help but feeling that it was missed opportunity. A back and forth between Jericho and Kevin Owens could have been the highlight of the entire show, with Owens being more than capable of putting shitting all over Jericho's 25th anniversary celebration and adding a little extra spice to their in-ring collision. Having Lance Storm, Cyrus and various others at ringside was a nice touch however.
Man, I was expecting so much more from this match. I've a feeling that Jericho's celebration took up their allotted time for this one and ate into the amount of time they had to put on their bout, because just over eight minutes was not enough to fully delve into what the pair could do in the ring. That isn't to say that the action that we did get wasn't of a high quality, because it was, the pair put together some sweet sequences, with the closing string looking particular slick, just that when the match ended I was left feeling like there was more the performers could have given. A side note that Kevin Owens little touches throughout the bout, whether that be his facial expression or his vocalisations were brilliant and gave the contest an extra dimension, having Owens cheat to win once more was also a nice touch.
Winner - Kevin Owens via pinfall (Small package) in 8 minutes, 6 seconds. *STILL CHAMPION*
Owens shouting "Happy Anniversary Chris" as he left the ring with the Intercontiental Championship made me chuckle; Owens came across as a complete prick.
A new promo video for WWE Breaking Ground (WWE Network, 26th October) aired, I'm very much looking forward to checking out that one.
A new promo video for WWE Breaking Ground (WWE Network, 26th October) aired, I'm very much looking forward to checking out that one.
Match 5 - WWE Tag Team Championships - The Dudley Boyz vs. The New Day's Kofi Kingston & Big E with Xavier Woods
A full on hype package for this one, wasn't expecting that, but it got me thinking that we may actually see a title change...
Oh my, I do love me some New Day. Another sweet-ass promo as they head to the ring, the three are ridiculously entertaining. If you're not down with The New Day then you're a lost cause, in my opinion. Kofi Kingston taking the piss out of The Dudley Boyz various trademarks, was spot on. It was easy to believe what was being said, but because Dudley Boyz are so beloved, it worked. It was funny, but also made me want to see the Dudleys win the Tag Team titles, surely exactly what the promo should be doing. Big thumbs up.
What a bummer the match was then? Almost exactly the same as their Night of Champions contest, this would have been completely fine on a regular house show, but after receiving build up on television and even getting a hype package on the show, I was expecting something a little bit different here. Everything that I liked about the original contest was still here, but I'd seen it only two weeks ago...they could have, at least, come up with a different finish. Incidentally Bubba Ray Dudley looked a complete idiot as he had to run over to the other side of the ring to allow Xavier Woods to break up the pinfall. Not impressed at all with what was presented here.
Winner - The Dudley Boyz via disqualification (Outside inteference) in 6 minutes, 38 seconds.
Even the post-match stuff was almost identical to Night of Champions as Xavier Woods ended up going through a table.
Match 6 - Singles - Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman vs. "The World's Largest Athlete" The Big Show
Jaysus, another hype package for this one, as my excitement levels slowly dropped off for the bout.
Big Show heading to the ring was a shouty mess, the lad's got some problems, Lesnar had more presence when he was standing still.
The match was an extended squash, mainly consisting of German Suplexes and Chokeslams, it was completely watchable (except for Lesnar's first F5 attempt) but was more a case of the two doing the best they could, rather than being anything I enjoyed.
Winner - Brock Lesnar via pinfall (F5) in 4 minutes, 7 seconds
Lesnar is WWE's most valuable property at the moment and he did look incredible in his post-match beat down of Big Show. I'd complain that it's not really a very nice thing for a babyface to do, but fuck it, Lesnar is a beast and Big Show can fuck off, so it was all bantz. Lesnar looks great heading into his Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker and whilst I would have preferred to see Lesnar in a long bout against anyone in earlier tag team bout, this did what it needed to do, I suppose. The New York crowd loved Lesnar, as well, especially when he came back out.
Match 7 - United States Championship Steel Cage - John Cena (C) vs. Seth Rollins
A quick recap of Cena and Rollins bouts at SummerSlam and Night of Champions was chosen over a full on hype package, it worked nicely as a reminder of the pairs feud, although strangely omitted the Monday Night RAW bout where Rollins broke Cena's nose.
The encounter got the full-on in-ring announcement, which did add a little something special to the occasion. The crowd was rocking before the bout, giving Cena some stick and his usual chat to camera schtik was present. Seeing Rollins come out in a (rather tight) t-shirt was a strange sight, as opposed to his usual jackety thing that he wears, and did take a little of the shine of off thing, as it felt like we weren't get the full WWE broadcast experience.
Seeing as we hadn't had a match go longer than nine minutes on the show, this was a bloody long match. That being said, I found a lot to enjoy in this one, with Cena and Rollins continue to show a lot of in-ring chemistry, as they went back and forth with a series of big moves and close escapes. The pair made good use of the cages as a weapon, as well as using it to hit big moves off the top ropes, like a delightful bulldog from Cena and Rollins' superplex into sit-out suplex combo. The match never felt like it was dragging and the pair kept up an admirable pace for a bout that went over twenty minutes. There was some repeating of spots from recent cage matches (Cena vs. Bray Wyatt, Rollins vs. Randy Orton), but for a relatively low key bout with so much time to fill, that was to be expected.
The finish seems to be the thing that got most people talking about the clash on social media. It's a funny one, whilst I was expecting an interference from Kane, I don't think that this was done as well as it could have been. Having Kane walk down the entrance ramp felt a bit silly, as Rollins perched on top of the cage waited for Kane to get to him, rather than just jumping down and legging it through the crowd with the title (we've know Rollins has no problem legging it out the arena numerous times). The lights could have gone out, Kane could've come up through the ring, there were a number of options open that would have offered a more satisfying finish. That being said I've no problem with Cena pinning Rollins, after Rollins leap of faith from the top and an Attitude Adjustment, because Rollins had the match won if it wasn't for Kane, so in theory the World Heavyweight Champion taking the pinfall loss shouldn't affect him. It furthers his issue with Kane and continues the build to a World Heavyweight Championship match between the two at Hell in a Cell.
Winner - John Cena via pinfall (Attitude Adjustment) in 22 minutes, 44 seconds *STILL CHAMPION*
The show closed with Kane battering Rollins with a chokeslam and a Tombstone Piledriver, with the Big Red Machine looking pretty boss out there.
ATPW Rating - 5.55
Whilst it was never going to set the world a light, the majority of the wrestling on the show was perfectly acceptably with Seth Rollins and John Cena putting on a quality main event, that stood out as the match of the evening. There were a few disappointing moments, like Jericho vs. Owens and New Day vs. The Dudley Boyz, the show was completely watchable from start to finish. If I got this at a house show, then I'd be pretty happy. As things go, on the Network for the price you pay with another PPV available later in the month, it's difficult to really complain about what was presented here...even if it wasn't quite on the level of Live in Tokyo: Beast In The East.