WWE Survivor Series 2016 Commentary

WWE Survivor Series 2016 Commentary

‘Fantasy Warfare Just Got Real’. It’s the tag line that’s been drilled into our heads for the last month or so. In the year 2016, Goldberg and Brock Lesnar are facing each other for no other reason than to promote WWE’s new video game. But outside of that, the core of this show is about which show is better, Raw or Smackdown. To determine this, multiple elimination tag team matches have been set up for each division. A match for the the men, the women and the tag teams. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a favourite and I’ve been leaning towards Smackdown. The blue brand has been consistently producing the better show for months now, so hopefully Survivor Series finishes with my preferred brand standing tall.

5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Women’s Elimination Match:

Team Raw (Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax & Alicia Fox) vs. Team Smackdown (Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella, Alexa Bliss, Carmella & Naomi)

Before the match begins, it’s revealed that Nikki Bella has been attacked backstage and can’t compete. Smackdown General Manager Daniel Bryan names Natalya as her replacement. Carmella is first eliminated by a poorly executed axe kick from Alicia Fox, who was then quickly eliminated by Alexa Bliss. Nia Jax threw everyone around for a bit like someone tearing apart a living room to look for their keys and Naomi is counted out as a result. The first shocker of the night comes when Natayla gets a quick roll up and eliminates Sasha Banks much earlier than expected. Charlotte and Natalya’s never ending rivalry from earlier this year was renewed when Charlotte eliminated her after a big boot. Another surprise occurred when Becky Lynch made the powerful Nia Jax tap out. Charlotte takes out Alexa Bliss twenty seconds later.

Leaving us with Charlotte and Bayley on Team Raw and Becky Lynch the sole woman left on Team Smackdown. Becky fights valiantly but ultimately falls to the Bayley to Belly to give Team Raw the first win of the evening. While initially celebrating the victory with her, Charlotte attacks Bayley and leaves her laying. I’m usually so excited whenever Bayley picks up a victory, but it just didn’t feel right having someone with the character like Bayley to be beating her friend in a two on one situation. This brand fighting thing will be done after tonight, so I’ll excuse it and we can get back to the Bayley I know and love tomorrow.

Intercontinental Championship Match: Sami Zayn vs. The Miz (c) (w/Maryse)

If Sami Zayn wins, the Intercontinental Title comes to Raw

Another inter-promotional match but this time it’s in singles competition. The Miz just regained the championship from Dolph Ziggler on this past weeks Smackdown and now must immediately defend it against Raw’s Sami Zayn. The Miz has continued his rivalry with his boss Daniel Bryan, each of them getting more personal in their war of words. Miz uses various signature manoeuvres that were quintessentially Daniel Bryan just to get to him. The Miz is having the best year of his career and Sami Zayn is everyone’s ray of sunshine, so I’m super into this match. When Sami has Miz in the figure four, Maryse runs over to the timekeeper and rings the bell. This makes Sami release the hold and think he’s won the Intercontinental title. When the referee waves it off, Miz rolls up Sami and sneaks away with the victory. Smackdown gets it’s first win of the evening.

10-on-10 Traditional Survivor Series Tag Team Elimination Match:

Team Raw (The New Day, Cesaro & Sheamus, Enzo & Big Cass, The Shining Stars & The Club) vs. Team Smackdown (Heath Slater & Rhyno, Breezango, The Hype Bros, The Usos & American Alpha)

There are twenty men out there at once, that is too many people! Thankfully though, it doesn’t stay that way for very long. Fandango is immediately eliminated by The New Day to take out Breezango, which crushes my spirits. I’m vindicated twenty seconds later when The Usos knock out Kofi Kingston with a superkick to eliminate The New Day. The match is barely a minute in and two teams are already gone, one of them being the Raw Tag Team Champions. The match properly gets started now with the remaining teams and much to my delight, The Hype Bros are next eliminated by The Club after a Magic Killer. Another blessing comes my when The Shining Stars are hit with an elevated bulldog by American Alpha and they too are eliminated.

After a lot of things making me happy, it’s time to crush my spirits again as American Alpha are next to be taken out after another Magic Killer from The Club. Following this, The Club, Heath Slater & Rhyno and Enzo & Big Cass are all taken out within ninety seconds of each other which leaves us with Cesaro & Sheamus on Team Raw against The Usos for Team Smackdown. Back and forth with many near falls for the next five minutes but Cesaro locks Jey Uso in the Sharpshooter and makes him tap out. A Sharpshooter wins in Canada, Bret Hart’s miserable face may have cracked a brief smile when that happened. Cesaro & Sheamus survive and gives Raw another win.

Cruiserweight Championship Match: Kalisto vs. Brian Kendrick (c)

If Kalisto wins, the Cruiserweight Title and entire Cruiserweight division comes to Smackdown

Brian Kendrick is in the middle of a career rejuvenation, while the Cruiserweight division as a whole isn’t quite hitting the mark. Kalisto has just returned from two months off on injury and is the only Smackdown superstar to qualify in the Cruiserweight division. It’s a mystery as to why he’s just not on Raw in the first place. Anyway, the match goes roughly twelve minutes and it was quite good. Kalisto hit a moonsault side slam off the apron to the floor which woke the crowd up big time. In the end, Baron Corbin interfered and attacked Kendrick then Kalisto to cause the disqualification. But because Corbin hit Kendrick first, Kalisto is the one that loses and the Cruiserweights are staying put on Raw.

5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Men’s Elimination Match:

Team Raw (Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollin, Roman Reigns & Braun Strowman) vs. Team Smackdown (AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton & Shane McMahon)

This one was certainly a marathon and not a sprint. This match clocked in at just under an hour and the first elimination doesn’t come until we were over sixteen minutes into it. Dean Ambrose is the first to go after a brawl with fellow team mate and enemy AJ Styles, he was then hit with a running powerslam from Braun Strowman. Strowman takes an RKO on the announce table which leaves him in perfect position for Shane McMahon to hit his Leap of Faith elbow drop from the ring to the announce table. Shane makes it back in the ring, but Braun is counted out when James Ellsworth (the Team Smackdown mascot for some reason) holds his lengths to prevent him from making the ten count. Ellsworth pays for it when Strowman chases him up to the stage and then tosses him off of it and through a table, killing him instantly (I assume, I’m not a doctor).

When Chris Jericho looks to be in trouble, his best friend Kevin Owens runs in and attacks AJ Styles with ‘The List’ and because that’s technically a weapon, Kevin Owens is eliminated by disqualification. While Jericho is arguing with the referee over the decision, Randy Orton hits an RKO to eliminate Jericho. A while later, Shane McMahon attempts to go coast to coast, he gets caught mid air in a BRUTAL spear. Shane is eliminated by knock-out and Toronto chants his name in respect for his incredible effort tonight. Dean Ambrose returns despite being eliminated earlier to attack AJ Styles, in the process we get a SHIELD reunion and gets Rollins and Reigns to help him give a triple powerbomb through the announce table to Styles. Rollins gets Styles into the ring and eliminates him.

We’re down to Reigns and Rollins on Team Raw and Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt on Team Smackdown. When Rollins attempts a frog splash on Wyatt, Orton slides into the ring to hit an RKO from literally out of nowhere! That RKO was so good I was a little aroused, I’m not going to lie. Wyatt pins Rollins and Raw is down to just Roman Reigns. Just when it looks like Reigns is about to spear Wyatt, Orton pushes Bray out of the way and takes the spear, sacrificing himself for Bray. Bray Wyatt hits Sister Abigail and pins Reigns. Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton survive and Team Smackdown gets the win. Wow, that was a long match.

Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman)

It’s Goldberg’s first match since 2004 and in his last match he beat Brock Lesnar. But Brock Lesnar today is very different to the one he faced twelve years ago. Lesnar has not been beaten in almost three years. He gave John Cena the worst beating of his career. He took The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania. This match has been hyped for the last few months with video packages, appearances on ESPN’s Sportscenter and it’s one of the biggest shows of the year. They stare face to face and the bell rings. Brock picks up Goldberg and rushes him into the corner. Goldberg retaliates by shoving Brock to the ground. Brock gets back up and walks right into a spear. Goldberg then hits another spear. Goldberg picks up Lesnar and hits the Jackhammer. ONE. TWO. THREE.

THAT’S IT! Goldberg, in his first match in twelve years has beaten Brock Lesnar in less than ninety seconds! So little has happened but there’s so much the process here. Is there a reason they didn’t go ahead with a full length match? Is Goldberg going to stick around? If the decision was made for Lesnar to lose, why was it as harsh as this? It’s only several hours removed from this match result and none of it is making any sense to me. But, wow is there a hell of a good reason to tune into Raw tomorrow!

Final Thoughts:

Survivor Series was such an odd show from top to bottom. You had oddly timed eliminations in all three matches with the likes of Sasha Banks, The New Day, Dean Ambrose and American Alpha all being eliminated way earlier than expected. They definitely gave you the shock factor, but in a few of those cases, having them stick around for a little longer probably would have been beneficial to the actual match itself. Every match in ring wise was above average, it was a four hour show with only six matches so each one of them had their time.

The tag team elimination match suffered due to the number of bodies around the ring as it made everything look too clustered. The women’s elimination match didn’t exactly do wonders for making the Smackdown women’s division look good. In the end, Smackdown came out of Survivor Series with two wins and Raw also scored two as well (they did get one by disqualification too, but that didn’t really count). So at the end of the show nobody won, but Smackdown didn’t lose which is what I’m happy about.

As for Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar, it’s still way too early to tell whether this will end up being the best decision ever made, the worst decision ever made or somewhere in the middle which is my guess. It made for an incredible jaw dropping moment and it had me yelling in surprise at my TV. In all honesty, that’s what I want from my wrestling, so I’m leaning towards being quite happy with the decision. Hopefully some of these things will make sense thanks to Raw tomorrow.

Final Rating: 8/10

WWE Hell in a Cell 2016 Commentary

WWE Hell in a Cell 2016 Commentary

Raw is back for their second brand exclusive pay per view and to be completely honest, Smackdown has been blowing Raw out of the water on a weekly basis. So to counteract that, Raw has set up three Hell in a Cell matches tonight. Personally I hate these gimmick-centric pay per views as it cheapens the importance of the respective match. WWE can go on and on about Mick Foley and The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell all they like, but now the cell is just something that happens every October, regardless of whether the rivalry in question finds it necessary. Anyway, since I’m not in charge of WWE (and I’ve been told repeatedly that I am not) this is the way things are. Let’s dive into the show and see how people fared inside the ‘Devil’s Playground’.

Kicking off the show is Roman Reigns defending the United States Championship against Rusev inside Hell in a Cell. This rivalry has been frustrating to watch, mainly because they’re miscast. Roman Reigns crashed Rusev and Lana’s wedding celebration, made crude jokes and pushed the bride into her own cake. Rusev then tries to defend his wife but keeps losing at every turn. Believe it or not, Roman Reigns is supposed to be the good guy in this scenario! The only reason Rusev isn’t is probably because he’s Bulgarian and WWE hates foreigners (which is what I’ve become accustomed to believe).

This match was super dull. I’ve been seeing praise for it online but I just don’t understand it. Going twenty four agonising minutes, you could have easily cut ten minutes out of this match and it would have been serviceable. The majority of the match was just these two big guys clumsily throwing each other into the fence. You got a little more variety when chains and stairs were brought into play but nothing terribly fascinating. Reigns speared Rusev off the stairs to retain his title and I was left wondering why I didn’t sleep in for an extra half hour.

Moving on to Bayley vs. Dana Brooke and a few weeks ago on Raw, Dana managed to score a win over Bayley. But when people called it a fluke, she took offense to it and challenged Bayley to another match, this time arm wrestling. It was a little hokey, but I guess it wasn’t terrible. Bayley has been casually treading water on Raw since her debut, with WWE aren’t wanting to rush anything because they (along with everyone who has a pair of eyes) sees money in Bayley’s journey to the top. This leads us to this match between the two women.

Despite my feelings on the previous match, the live crowd seemed really excited by it. Being there in person really does give you a different perspective on how you feel about a match or show. I know because I left WrestleMania 32 this year thinking it was fantastic, when in reality it was only okay. But the crowd in Boston was noticeably silent in this match. Going a little over six minutes, Bayley gets the clean win with the Bayley-to-Belly.

To say that Gallows & Anderson have been struggling since losing AJ Styles to Smackdown would be a major understatement. Shortly after, they became doctors and started making jokes about testicles and continuously lost to New Day over and over again. After the losses, Gallows & Anderson went back to being the serious, physical team they were when they debuted. So it’s back to square one for those two and the same can be said for Enzo & Cass but the only difference is that their characters haven’t changed, which is a good thing. Enzo & Cass have been on a losing streak in big matches too, but they are so incredibly popular that losses don’t hurt them nearly as much. This match is basically about not wanting to sink lower in the rankings.

The match that occurred was fairly plain. Nothing was particularly bad about it, it was just there. Gallows & Anderson pick up a much needed clean win with the Magic Killer.

So a little over two months ago, Triple H cost Seth Rollins the WWE Universal Championship and literally handed it to Kevin Owens. Since then… NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. No developments in that story, no extra Triple H sightings and now Stephanie McMahon has stopped actively denying her involvement. So even she is bored with that story. The main focus has now moved onto Kevin Owens and his friendship with Chris Jericho and Seth Rollins in the background struggling being a babyface for the first time in a long while. Tonight, Kevin Owens defends the WWE Universal Championship against Seth Rollins inside Hell in a Cell.

An absolute polar opposite to the first Hell in a Cell match of the night, in that this one was good. There was a lot of inventive use of the cell and it’s surroundings. Midway through the match Kevin Owens “accidentally” sprayed the referee with a fire extinguisher. This allowed the door to be opened for a new referee to be swapped over and while it was open, Jericho snuck in and it became a pseudo handicap match. Rollins powerbombed Kevin Owens through two tables on the outside which was by far the move of the match. After continued interference by Jericho, Kevin Owens powerbombed Rollins through two chairs and retained the Universal Championship.

Post match, Chris Jericho hit Seth Rollins with the Codebreaker for good measure. This match was fantastic despite all the shenanigans, but shenanigans is what makes Hell in a Cell what it is. But once again with no sign of Triple H, I’m not exactly sure what is next for Seth Rollins as he can’t exactly blame the last few months on Hunter anymore. But whatever happens, I just hope Seth improves as a babyface, because the jokes are bad and need to stop.

The Cruiserweight division has been struggling this past month. They are completely segregated from the rest of the roster, they aren’t getting a tonne of character development and their ring style has been watered down from what they were doing in the Cruiserweight Classic. The one good thing to come from this mess is Brian Kendrick, his story of this current run being his last chance is intriguing and he appears to be the only one with a purpose behind him. TJ Perkins on the other hand, his thing is gaming and in every promo he’s done he’ll squeeze in a tenuous gaming reference and make the entire world cringe. TJ Perkins defends his WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Brian Kendrick.

A solid match between these two, going a solid eleven minutes and nothing bad to say at all. People have this preconceived thought about Cruiserweight wrestlers, that they all have to be doing flippy stuff and flying everywhere when that’s not the case all the time. This was a good technical match and finally some story element came into it. Brian Kendrick pretended to tweak his knee and when TJ was checking on him, he gave TJ a head-butt, locked in the Captains Hook submission and TJ Perkins tapped out. Brian Kendrick wins the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

If you read my commentary for Clash of Champions, you would know that the way the Best of Seven series between Cesaro and Sheamus ended had me furious. It ended in a draw, despite that being what was thought to be impossible and they became a tag team once General Manager Mick Foley forced them together. But after weeks of bickering between the two of them, they became endearing. They fight about the smallest things and it just makes me think they’re going to get married soon. They get their Tag Team Championship match against The New Day tonight and New Day are currently only fifty or so days away from becoming the longest reigning Tag Team Champions of all time.

I went into this match with the expectation that New Day were obviously winning because they’re going to break the record, but WWE made me second guess myself many times. The finishing sequence was picture perfect, Cesaro has Xavier Woods in the sharpshooter and Sheamus clubbed Big E. in the back with New Day’s trombone. Kofi (who was the spectator for this match) hit Sheamus with the Trouble in Paradise in front of the referee to cause the disqualification at the same time as Xavier started tapping out.

New Day retain their championships by disqualification which keeps their record intact and Cesaro & Sheamus have a reason to stay together as they were so close to winning. Sheamus & Cesaro are probably the next Tag Team Champions, but that isn’t happening until New Day break the record.

This is the big one. The women of WWE make history twice in one night as Sasha Banks and Charlotte (who they’re now officially calling Charlotte Flair) are the first women to main event a WWE pay per view and also the first women to compete inside Hell in a Cell. As a long time fan of women’s wrestling, to see this happening is surreal and even fifteen minutes into the match it didn’t feel like it was actually real. Charlotte enters first, being carried in like a queen and Sasha enters her hometown in style with a Cadillac Escalade, reminiscent of her entrance at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. They do official introductions and the cell starts lowering.

Charlotte blind sides Sasha before the cell is fully lowered and they brawl in the crowd and around ringside. They start climbing the cell and I start to get extremely nervous. Charlotte drops down and she catches Sasha and powerbombs her through the announce table which looked sick…

sasha-table

See? See how sick that looked? After a solid five minutes of pretending to have her stretchered out, Sasha kicks the crap out of some EMT’s and demands to start the match. What followed was twenty minutes of brutality, something that you can’t compare to any women’s match in WWE history. These two absolutely beat the hell out of each other and left it all in the ring. Sadly, a few spots planned with the table didn’t go as planned as it broke early and in the case at the end, didn’t break at all. But outside of that, the match was epic. Charlotte slammed Sasha’s already injured back into a table numerous times before connecting with Natural Selection to become a three time WWE Women’s Champion. Charlotte holds the title up to close the show.

Final Thoughts:

Well, that was an absolutely baffling decision. For the second reign in a row, Sasha Banks’ reign as Women’s Champion ends at just twenty seven days. I’m at a loss as to why they’ve taken the title off of Sasha once again so soon. It’s just a little frustrating because we’ve had Charlotte as champion for the better part of fourteen months and a victory for Sasha would have opened the door for new challengers. But now we’re back to square one again, with Sasha being owed another rematch and despite how good this rivalry is, it’s just not ending.

Outside of the match result which ended things on a bummer, the match itself was stellar. To think how far women’s wrestling has come in two years is incredible. The Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins Hell in a Cell match was also fantastic, but having Sasha and Charlotte close the show was the right call. The rest of the show was pretty good overall with the Cruiserweight and Tag Team title matches being fun affairs.

Only downers were the opening Hell in a Cell match which dragged on for far too long and fairly uninteresting matches from Bayley/Dana and Enzo & Cass/Gallows & Anderson. Outside of those, Hell in a Cell was a success and certainly beats their first pay per view efforts with Clash of Champions.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

WWE No Mercy 2016 Commentary

WWE No Mercy 2016 Commentary

We’re back again! Two weeks removed from Clash of Champions, it’s time to focus our attention on the Smackdown brand as they give us No Mercy. Smackdown continues to bring back names of former pay per views with No Mercy making its return for the first time since 2008, let’s hope that Smackdown doesn’t bring back Taboo Tuesday any time soon. Smackdown continuously nails its shows every week while over at Raw, they’re stalling for time while they think of a way to carry on a simple story. The blue brand is on an absolute roll and hopefully they capitalise on it with this latest pay per view offering.

The main event is kicking us off because everyone will start watching the presidential debate halfway through the show. It’s a Triple Threat for the WWE Championship, AJ Styles defending against John Cena and Dean Ambrose. Something weird has been happening on Smackdown. It’s just providing further proof that the blue brand is a magical place, but John Cena is starting to be cheered again. Meanwhile, Dean Ambrose, who was the internet’s golden boy for the last few years, has been getting a mixed reaction from the crowd. But when you think hard about it, it sort of makes sense. Ambrose has been an utter dick for a few months and is still only okay in his matches. John Cena on the other hand has been putting people over, taking extended breaks which allows us to miss him and so forth. Also, everyone loves AJ Styles. Who’s walking away with the gold?

I think having this start the show sort of helped it. The crowd was hot and ready to go and to have something that they were super invested in really made the atmosphere even better. The match was as good as I had hoped it would be, bell to bell it went a solid twenty plus minutes. Things got unnecessarily complicated when AJ Styles tapped out while Cena and Ambrose both had submissions on him. The match was restarted but it was an unneeded addition to the match. Styles whacked Cena with a chair to retain the WWE World Title.

It was an odd feeling starting a pay per view with the advertised main event, but it gave the show a sense of originality to it. I don’t think I would do it again unless absolutely necessary, but it changed up the usual format and that was fun for just one time. When Styles tapped, I was terrified that they were going to do something stupid and vacate the title. Thankfully it just proved to be an unnecessary spot in an otherwise flawless start to the show. AJ winning with a foreign objective is exactly what his character would do and it was executed perfectly.

Ever since her surprise return at SummerSlam, Nikki Bella has been attacked by Carmella on quite a regular basis. Carmella believes Nikki stole her thunder at SummerSlam as they were in Carmella’s hometown of New York that night. That’s pretty much this entire feud over the last two months. Every week it’s either another attack or someone is on commentary talking about it and they bring up the same points each and every time. The only form of progression this rivalry has had is that Carmella has pinned Nikki in a tag match a few weeks ago.

There’s not much to say about this match other than there was a lot of hair pulling and Carmella yelling for no reason. Carmella is not a polished in ring competitor and Nikki has only been back for a relatively short amount of time. Nikki pinned Carmella in about eight minutes with a TKO which she is now referring to as the ‘Rack Attack 2.0’ as her original move by the same name is what caused her neck injury. By no means technical classic, but enough to probably continue the story for a little longer.

Rhyno & Heath Slater’s pairing has been an unexpected joy to watch for the last few months. Heath is trying to provide for his kids while Rhyno appears to be doing this to fund his canned cheese and cracker habit. The pair became the first ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions at Backlash by defeating the newly turned Usos. The Usos (who had been frustratingly dull as good guys) have become this bad-ass duo who will hurt you just to get what they want, it’s simple and effective. Will The Usos become three time champions or will Rhyno & Heath Slater continue their run of luck?

It’s so weird that Heath Slater has been in two pay per view title matches in a row, this has never happened. Smackdown is a weird and wonderful place. Another match that can be simply referred to as fine. Rhyno & Heath Slater retain in ten minutes and I’m not sure what The Usos do now. The tag division is lacking in a number of areas, The Vaudevillians are being treated like crap for some reason, The Ascension still exist despite my objections, The Hype Bros are just the worst (seriously, I will personally fund the research necessary in order to have Mojo Rawley shot into the sun), Breezango are nowhere to be seen, so all you’ve got left is American Alpha. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Rhyno & Heath Slater probably don’t have much time left in their reign.

Baron Corbin vs. Jack Swagger. Lord almighty do I not care for either of these guys. Baron Corbin has been floating around on Smackdown, not doing a hell of a lot. Jack Swagger recently left Raw to come to Smackdown. Below is an artist’s impression of Jack Swagger and his career arriving on Smackdown.

The_Simpsons_Shortcut

So I’m going to be honest, I watched the presidential debate during this time. Corbin won and I don’t think anyone else cared either.

If you had told me six months ago that another Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz feud for the Intercontinental Title would be one of the best things on WWE television today I would have called you a liar and demanded that you apologise for lying. Following yet another loss at Backlash and then again on Smackdown a week later, Dolph asked for another match with The Miz, who was well within his right to be all “Dude… No. You lost again.” So Dolph had to put something on the line too, his career. The Miz accepts and now we’ve got a Career vs. Title match. The build up to this has been excellent, we’ve seen documentaries, both sets of parents get involved and even The Spirit Squad made a cameo. Does Dolph finally get the big win or are saying goodbye to ‘The Show-off’?

Wow. This match was phenomenal. It had everything you could want from a professional wrestling match. Drama, shenanigans, emotion and quality in ring action. You had interference from the likes of Maryse and some of the guys from The Spirit Squad and each near fall you thought could plausibly be the end of the match. Clocking in at almost twenty minutes, Dolph Ziggler lands a super kick on The Miz and wins the Intercontinental Championship for the fifth time in his career. I don’t have anything else to say other than this should have closed the show. Outstanding.

Originally scheduled for the show was a Women’s Championship match with Becky Lynch defending the title against Alexa Bliss. Unfortunately, Becky was pulled from the show with WWE citing medical reasons for her being unable to compete. Alexa Bliss was given another opponent in Naomi, who is still raving like she’s just inhaled something very strong. A match with no stakes makes for little investment with the crowd and sadly they didn’t really react to this. Naomi rolls up Alexa and scores a win out of nowhere in a baffling decision. Alexa will be receiving her title match in November, so they make her build to that match by losing? I’m a fan of Naomi too, but this is a dumb decision.

Time for our main event for the evening and for some reason it’s Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton. This match was supposed to happen at Backlash, but Randy Orton was still healing from injuries so they had to put it off. Instead, they had Bray Wyatt wrestle Kane in which HE STILL LOST. Bray Wyatt has been the single most ineffective character in recent memory in WWE. He promises all these things, loses and doesn’t react in any way about them. The build to this match has been surprisingly entertaining though with Randy Orton going looking for Bray backstage and he even locked Erick Rowan in a cupboard (okay, he’s probably more ineffective than Bray). Randy Orton is healthy now, so it’s time to actually have this match.

Despite the build up to this match being surprisingly fun, kooky and simply bonkers, this match was anything but that. Basically wasting time for about fifteen minutes, Orton and Wyatt put on a match with an agonisingly slow pace. Knowing that the best of the show was behind us made this match even harder to sit through. In the end, the lights went out, Luke Harper returned and stared at Randy Orton, which allowed Wyatt to take advantage and hit the Sister Abigail to finally get a win. I can’t help but feel like we’ve seen this before… Oh right, because we saw this exact finish when Bray was feuding with Roman Reigns last year. Bray is triumphant as No Mercy goes off the air.

Final Thoughts:

No Mercy was not a bad show, it was not a good show, it was a show. It’s been a while since anyone has said that right? But the sentiment is true, No Mercy had a few great moments and matches but outside of two of them, there’s not a lot to see here. The Triple Threat main event opener was stellar and the Career vs. Title match with The Miz and Dolph Ziggler stole the show. Everything else was just there.

Now, not all of that is their fault. The originally scheduled Women’s Title bout with Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss and every chance of being another great match to add to the list, but sadly injury kept that from happening and WWE had to improvise. The tag match was fine, as was Nikki Bella and Carmella. Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt left a lot to be desired and Luke Harper rejoining The Wyatt Family is painfully repetitive. Baron Corbin and Jack Swagger can both go away please.

Overall, a dull show lifted up to an okay show by two great matches. Ultimately, it was probably better than Raw’s Clash of Champions by a tiny margin, but it doesn’t fare too well compared to Backlash.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

WWE Clash of Champions 2016 Commentary

WWE Clash of Champions 2016 Commentary

Every year at Clash of Champions (from 2007-2015, it was Night of Champions) we’re told that it’s a very special night because every single championship will be defended, even though this happens more often than not, at every other pay per view that year. Despite my dislike for themed pay per views (outside of the Royal Rumble) at least this is a very simple premise. The title also makes it sounds like champions are facing each other instead of defending their titles. Anyway, this is a special Raw exclusive show and it’s the first Raw only pay per view since New Years Revolution way back in 2007. If it feels like there’s another pay per view happening every two weeks, it’s because that is exactly what’s happening. Smackdown’s No Mercy is in two weeks time. Being a consistent WWE fan is a part time job in of itself. So, let’s see how many new champions we get tonight.

To start off the show, The New Day are defending their Tag Team Championships against Gallows & Anderson. The build up to this match has been so poor it’s unbelievable. Initially, Gallows & Anderson were forced to try and match New Day with various comedy skits which didn’t fit them at all. Cards on the table, I did enjoy their very first doctor segment but WWE did what they do best and beat it to death. The worst of all was when they introduced older versions of The New Day from the future and it was probably the worst segment on Raw since Mini Gator vs. El Torito a few years ago. Since then, Gallows & Anderson are back to their serious ways, thank goodness.

The match starts quite aggressively from the challengers, taking out both Big E. and Xavier on the outside before powerbombing Kofi in the ring. It was quite refreshing actually seeing the challengers trying to surprise the champions by getting it done early. Despite the surprising start, quite a good back and forth match ensues and it looks like Gallows & Anderson are going to take the titles but Xavier hits Anderson with the trombone and New Day retain the titles. I personally would like to see The New Day beat Demolition’s record of 478 days, and tomorrow The New Day hit day 400. Can they hold on for almost another three months?

The Cruiserweight Classic was simply one of the best things the WWE has produced in the last ten years, unquestionably. Because of the success of the tournament, it has given us the return of the Cruiserweight Championship and thank god because I couldn’t handle Hornswoggle being the last champion anymore. TJ Perkins won the tournament, became the new Cruiserweight Champion and will make his main roster debut tonight when he defends against the returning Brian Kendrick who won a Fatal-4-Way on Raw to earn the opportunity.

TJ Perkins now comes out to this retro gamer sort of theme, full of Nintendo related sounds, it’s kind of amazing. The crowd are initially very into this match but they do die out a bit and I’m not sure why. It could be because they may have been expecting more of a flippy affair. There are also rumours going around that WWE have asked the cruiserweights to tone it down a bit in the ring. If that’s true, that’s cutting the division off at its legs before it can get going. With that being said, the match was quite good and TJ retained with his signature knee bar. After the match Brian Kendrick hugs Perkins and then head-butts him.

After match number one on the SummerSlam kick-off show, Sheamus and Cesaro continued their Best of Seven Series in matches that have all been pretty decent. Sheamus injured Cesaro in match number two which allowed him to take advantage and get a 3-0 lead, but Cesaro has fought back and we’re sitting at 3-3. The winner of this series will be rewarded with a “championship opportunity”, they haven’t specified which championship but I hope for their case it’s the Universal Championship. Imagine going through seven gruelling matches just to find out you’re going to get a Tag Team Championship match. Who’s going to come away with the victory and take out the series?

Hot damn was this match fantastic. A couple of years ago at Night of Champions, Sheamus and Cesaro had their best and highly underrated match and this one topped it. There was a scary moment when Cesaro dived through the ropes to the outside and landed right on his head. I was convinced he had broken his neck and you would too when you check out this landing…

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Can we please stop people driving through the ropes? Big E. has nearly killed himself on many occasions, Sasha Banks landed badly a month ago and now Cesaro almost broke is neck, that was scary. The match continues with them kicking out of each others finishers and after they go over the barricade the referee decides to call off the match and the crowd in Indianapolis is NOT HAPPY. You don’t do a Best of Seven Series just for it to end in a no-contest, that’s not the purpose of them. A terrible ending to a brilliant match.

Despite beating Kevin Owens at Battleground and putting an emphatic end to their bitter rivalry (for now), Sami Zayn hasn’t really done anything. Meanwhile, Kevin Owens has gone on to become the new Universal Champion with thanks to Triple H. Also, Kevin’s new best friend Chris Jericho has been riding the coattails of his success according to Sami Zayn. On the Highlight Reel, Jericho teased Sami by asking if he had Kevin’s new number as if they’re in the middle of a petty feud in high school, it’s actually pretty great. Jericho hit Sami in the face with his phone and now we have this match.

Sadly, the terrible ending to the previous match took a bit of the wind out of the audience for this one. Sami Zayn and Chris Jericho put on a very good match, as you would expect from those two. Going a over fifteen minutes, Jericho hits a quick Codebreaker while Sami was coming to terms with a near fall and gets the win. If I know WWE like I do, my guess is that this will be the first in a series of matches between the two and they’ll only be fighting over bragging rights because that’s the only mid-card story WWE tells. Prove me wrong, WWE.

The women’s division on Raw has been a little chaotic, Sasha lost the championship to Charlotte at SummerSlam and took time off for injury. Bayley debuted and looked like she’d be the new challenger. Sasha came back early and won a Triple Threat to earn her already contractually obligated rematch, which turned out to be a double pin and now Bayley has been put in this match too. It’s Charlotte defending against Sasha Banks and Bayley in a Triple Threat. Even though all of this is happening, it feels like Sasha and Bayley are just bit parts in the Charlotte and Dana story where there is dissension all over the place. That’s a lot to take in over the last month or so, but who is walking away as Women’s Champion?

All three women put on a show tonight, I think my favourite thing about this new women’s division is the fact that they got fifteen minutes bell to bell and it’s not a big deal anymore, it’s just what is expected nowadays. Dana Brooke didn’t get involved too much which was nice, so her only being used sparingly help this match. Charlotte landed a double moonsault which I think is the first time I’ve ever seen a double aerial move landed in WWE, so that’s certainly something. Charlotte hit Bayley with a big boot to retain her title in a very hard fought match. Post WrestleMania, the women’s division was in a rough spot with Charlotte’s never ending feud with Natalya but it’s starting to pick up some steam now. I think Smackdown’s women’s division is better used as a group, but Raw has the better athletes.

Next up, Roman Reigns vs. Rusev for the United States Championship. It’s been a bit of a rough road for Roman Reigns since his Wellness Policy violation back in June, he lost his WWE Championship, he’s been losing a little more often and has been put in the mid-card. From the outset that looks like he’s been punished, but has he? Over the last few months he’s been closing Raw on a consistent basis and even beat the Universal Champion in a cage match on Raw last week. But since the brand split Reigns has been feuding with Rusev because apparently he just really doesn’t like newlyweds. Rusev is defending the honour of his wife, Lana after Reigns was responsible for ruining their wedding reception. But Rusev is the bad guy because we shouldn’t be cheering for foreigners apparently.

The match was perfectly fine for what it was, there was heightened drama with the near falls, Lana was ejected from ringside for interference. Also, Reigns winked at Lana before going on the attack at one point. What sort of scumbag winks? Not only at a married woman before continuing an assault on her husband, but just in general? Anyway, Roman and his twenty eight Superman Punch attempts and a couple of spears picked up the win to score his first ever United States Championship. Whether people want to hear it or not, Roman Reigns holding the US title does elevate it from the lows of Kalisto earlier this year. I do hope Rusev rebounds from this well and doesn’t go on the losing streak he went on when he lost the title to John Cena last year.

Main event time as Kevin Owens defends his newly won Universal Championship for the first time against Seth Rollins. Finn Balor had to relinquish the title due to an injury suffered in his match at SummerSlam. A new champion would be decided in a Fatal-4-Way elimination match and during the final three, Triple H made his first appearance since WrestleMania and took out Roman Reigns, the man who beat him for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Just when it looked like The Game was going to help his buddy of over two years, Seth Rollins, he hit him with the Pedigree and handed the Universal Title to Kevin Owens. We still don’t know why he did that as he hasn’t been seen since that night. Will Triple H make his presence felt again tonight?

The answer is bafflingly, no. The crowd didn’t really know what to do for this match and I don’t blame them, Seth Rollins is brand new into this transition of becoming a babyface after a solid two year run as the number one heel in the company and Kevin Owens is obviously a bad guy here. To put these two in a main event for almost half an hour with no bells and whistles was setting them up for failure. Thankfully, because Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens are so good they can overcome that and they still had a good match. The last ten minutes were when they definitely started to make you take notice. Chris Jericho interfered a number of times near the end and after the referee got knocked down, that allowed him to get in an attack on Rollins. Stephanie McMahon finally brought out a new referee, Seth got back into the ring and was floored with a pop-up powerbomb. Kevin Owens retains the title and the show fades to black.

Final Thoughts:

That main event was certainly lacklustre. Four weeks ago when Triple H got involved with the title match people complained like “oh look, it’s still all about Triple H…” But this main event NEEDED The Game to be involved because now we’re just stretching this already overstretched story. We’ve been sitting through four weeks worth of Stephanie McMahon saying she didn’t know anything and trying to prove herself and everyone else speculating as to why Triple H did what he did. WWE has told that portion of the story for long enough, it’s time to move on to the next part, but instead they just keep the story exactly where it was four weeks ago.

Elsewhere, it felt like the entire night was filled with quality matches. The Cruiserweight and Women’s Championship matches were both great, the Tag Team Championship contest was short and snappy and Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho was very good too. Sheamus vs. Cesaro still leaves a bad taste in my mouth over the way it ended. Such an awesome, hard hitting match to end with a referee stoppage after a simple clothesline over the barrier made little to no sense.

*Cesaro lands on head*

Ref: “Nah, he’s good.”

*Sheamus jumps off the top rope, to the outside and gets hit with an uppercut*

Ref: “Nah, he’s good.”

*Both men softly fall over the barricade*

Ref: “STOP THE MATCH!”

Overall Clash of Champions from an in-ring perspective was a fantastic show, but unfortunately many issues with a number of the finishes stops this pay per view from being a great show. If you’re to compare how the red and blue brands are going simply based off of their first major shows, Smackdown’s Backlash trumps Raw’s Clash of Champions every time.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

WWE Backlash 2016 Commentary

WWE Backlash 2016 Commentary

For the first time since 2009, the Backlash pay per view returns to our screens in a Smackdown exclusive show, which in itself is the first brand exclusive pay per view since February 2007. Since the brand extension two months ago, Smackdown has been running a steady ship while over at Raw it’s been peaks and valleys, with amazing moments and matches being followed up poorly. Smackdown definitely benefits from it’s two hour format, forcing all stories to be told in a short and snappy manner. After a poor showing at SummerSlam in comparison to Raw, Smackdown has the honour of producing the first brand exclusive event in this new era and if I’m being honest, it could go either way. Let’s press on and see if the blue brand can deliver.

With Charlotte being the owner of the original Women’s Championship over on Raw, Smackdown had to create their own Women’s Championship. The biggest compliment I can give Smackdown is their use of every single woman in the division. Over on Raw you have the likes of Summer Rae and Alicia Fox who are barely seen, while Smackdown uses every single one of theirs in an effective capacity more often than not. Tonight Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Natalya and Naomi will compete in a six person elimination match to determine the first Smackdown Women’s Champion. The only woman not included in the match is Eva Marie, who is still relaxing in the British Isles due to the hostility of WWE fans. In reality, she’s still suspended for her first violation of the Wellness Policy. Both excuses are glorious in their own way. Who is walking away with the championship?

When you have six people in a single match it’s going to look like a mess, thankfully this match was given the time to execute it correctly. Gone are the days where the women were put in a fourteen person sudden death match and given five minutes to get everyone’s stuff in. These six women had around fifteen minutes and we didn’t even get our first elimination until ten minutes in. Eventually Becky Lynch made Carmella tap out and was the last woman standing, becoming the first ever Smackdown Women’s Champion. Becky is interviewed in the ring immediately after and she’s so thankful and awkward it’s all kinds of adorable.

As expected, this match was chaotic but I would say it was organised chaos. Naomi was particularly impressive hitting so many high risk moves, it’s a shame her elimination was a little lackluster. Despite being eliminated first, Alexa Bliss still looked like a star. It took a powerbomb/super neckbreaker combo in order to take her out of the match, can you imagine any of this happening three years ago? This was the perfect match to kick off the show, well done to all involved.

In another case of the original championship being on Raw, Smackdown needed to create their own Tag Team titles and we’ve been having a tournament over the last few weeks to crown the first ever champions. American Alpha had originally won themselves the right to compete in the finals by defeating The Usos last week in around thirty seconds, but following a post-match attack and a wonderfully executed heel turn by The Usos, they’ve put American Alpha out of contention due to an injury to Chad Gable. The Usos will now face the painfully annoying Hype Bros tonight with the winner going on to face Rhyno & Heath Slater (no, seriously) in the finals.

Due to their recent turn to the dark side, The Usos have stopped doing their war dance at the start of their entrance, they wear black and no longer wear face paint, despite the screen still displaying the phrase “Play hard in the paint” which never made sense to begin with. They wore paint, they never played in it. Regardless, let’s get that seen too as quickly as possible. The only thing that doesn’t need changing is their music, I feel it works for them both as faces or heels. The Usos defeated The Hype Bros because they’re awful in every way, moving on.

The Miz is defending his Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler, for what reason I don’t know. Since Dolph Ziggler lost his WWE Championship match he said he couldn’t afford to lose at SummerSlam, he hasn’t actually won a match. So the only reason he actually has a title opportunity is because he got in The Miz’s face a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, The Miz cut the promo of his career on Daniel Bryan and because there is no way you can satisfyingly follow up on that story without Daniel Bryan wrestling, they had to steer in a different direction and it just so happened Dolph Ziggler was available. Can Dolph finally get the win that matters or will The Miz continue the best run of his career?

Holy cow was this match good. Going almost twenty minutes, Dolph Ziggler put on his best match in a really long time. The Miz busted out some new moves and even mocked Daniel Bryan by doing some of his signature moves. Maryse continues to be one of the biggest assets to Miz’s character, she sprayed something in Ziggler’s eyes which allowed The Miz to take advantage and pick up the victory. Unquestionably the right decision here and it was done in a way that makes Dolph’s loss look like it wasn’t his fault.

In a match that is only happening because they need to fill out the card somehow, Randy Orton is facing Bray Wyatt. Following Orton’s bloody loss to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, Bray Wyatt confronted him and cut the standard spooky Wyatt promo that no-one remembers because it all more or less has the same message as every single one he’s done over the last three years. Can I be honest? I’ve given up on Bray Wyatt. Outside of defeating Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble in 2014, name me one important thing he’s done. It’s the same formula, Bray sets his sights on a new target, delivers spooky promos, loses the match, finds a new target and repeats. I want Bray Wyatt to be an important and effective character and if he still isn’t after over three years, he’s not going to be. So I’m sorry if I don’t give a damn about this match. Anyway, who wins between The Viper and The Eater of Worlds?

The match doesn’t actually happen because Bray attacked Orton backstage, so Wyatt wins by forfeit. Bray Wyatt still has to wrestle tonight though, he is in a No Holds Barred match against Kane. Oh, goodie. This match was so dull it’s unbelievable. In fairness there was a cool little moment where Bray Wyatt hits a senton on Kane through the announce table. But Randy Orton comes out, RKO’s Wyatt and allows Kane to hit the chokeslam for the victory. Even in BOTH scenarios, Bray Wyatt still loses. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t painfully annoying.

Moving on to the finals of the Tag Team Championship Tournament, The Usos who won earlier in the night are facing the new team of Heath Slater & Rhyno. I, like many regular Smackdown viewers, can’t really explain why Heath Slater & Rhyno are just perfect together. Heath has been clamouring for a contract since he was left out of the draft in July. Since then he’s been involved in so many ridiculous segments in the lead up to this big match, like the time we met Heath Slater’s wife, Beulah. It’s weirdly endearing and the crowd is fully behind Heath as well.

The match itself wasn’t anything that would set your world on fire but it was fine for what it was. Despite being the illegal man, Rhyno gored Jimmy Uso and Heath Slater was able to crawl over and get the three count. Heath Slater has got himself a contract with Smackdown and more importantly, himself and Rhyno are the first ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions. I can’t see this reign lasting a particularly long time, but it’s nice to see Slater finally get his due. Heath Slater & Rhyno are champions in the year 2016, this is a weird world.

Dean Ambrose has been WWE champion for about three months and its been… Okay? He retained in The Shield Triple Threat at Battleground which was impressive, he then retained against Dolph Ziggler at SummerSlam which wasn’t as good. I’m slowly getting over the fact that the character I want Dean Ambrose to be isn’t what WWE wants him to be. Meanwhile, after AJ Styles defeated John Cena in a show stealer at SummerSlam, Styles rightly earned himself a WWE Championship opportunity tonight. Ambrose has been treading water as champion and Styles is on fire, so who takes home WWE’s oldest and richest prize?

This was a really good match between these two, probably the best match Dean Ambrose has had in a ridiculously long time because the best worst kept secret is that Dean Ambrose isn’t actually that great in the ring. It goes about twenty five minutes and my favourite part about this was that it wasn’t the standard pay per view main event where both men hit their finishers numerous times, to the point where it lessens the mystique of the move. On this occasion both men were so close to hitting their finishers numerous times, but couldn’t quite do it. AJ Styles’ had to resort to a low blow when the ref was down in order to hit the Styles Clash and pin Dean Ambrose. AJ Styles is the NEW WWE Champion. No doubt that this was the right call here, something about Dean Ambrose wasn’t quite working as champion and AJ Styles is having the run of his career at the moment.

The show comes to a close with an image that many thought they would never see…

AJ Champion.png

Final Thoughts:

You’ve got to hand it to Smackdown, despite the incredibly shaky start two months ago, they have managed to pull off a really entertaining first pay per view. If you take the Bray Wyatt and Kane fiasco off the show, you would have a near perfect show and this is a show that contained a Hype Bros match, just think about that. The opening match for the Women’s Championship was an exciting way to kick off the show, Backlash maintained its momentum with an incredible match between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler and finished off with a mighty fine WWE Championship match.

The first Backlash event in over seven years had a great beginning, middle and end and despite the little missteps a times, you can chalk this event up as a major success for the blue brand.

Final Rating: 8/10

WWE SummerSlam 2016 Commentary

WWE SummerSlam 2016 Commentary

The Biggest Event of the Summer is upon us and holy crap there’s a lot of matches on this show. There weren’t even this many matches at WrestleMania this year. Not including the pre-show (and nobody does) this years edition of SummerSlam consists of ten matches. Every championship will be defended, the first ever Universal Championship will be crowned and Brock Lesnar is here to collect a paycheck and nothing else. There is so much to cover seeing as it’s a four hour show, so I’m going to jump straight into it.

We start off the show with Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens, now known collectively as ‘Jeri-KO’, taking on Enzo & Big Cass who are in their hometown of Brooklyn tonight (Well, technically Enzo is from New Jersey, but Big Cass is in his hometown so that counts). Regardless, Enzo & Cass received a massive ovation to get the crowd pumped up because they’re in for a long night. They do their usual spiel and make some New York song references, it’s all fine.

The match goes roughly ten minutes and was a perfectly adequate way to kick off the show. Enzo & Cass did their usual stuff of Cass using Enzo’s body as a weapon just by throwing him into people throughout the match. Jeri-KO get the win when Kevin Owens launched Enzo into a Codebreaker. Pretty good opener.

As you’ll see throughout the show, the scheduling of the matches is baffling and one of the main events of the show is coming on second as Sasha Banks is defending her WWE Women’s Championship against Charlotte. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written, but I just wanted another excuse to post this.

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I spotted Sasha Banks wandering around the streets of Adelaide catching Pokemon the other week during the Australian tour. We briefly spoke about Pokemon and now we’re friends and don’t you dare tell me otherwise. Anyway, I’ll get back to the match now.

Rather early on in the match a scary moment occurs when Charlotte drops Sasha along the top rope and she lands nastily on her neck, which in slow-motion makes me cringe even more. For the rest of the match I was just watching her neck and her nearly land on it multiple times. In a genuine shocker, Charlotte reverses the pressure of the Bank Statement into a pinning situation and scores the win. Charlotte has regained the WWE Women’s Championship. The match went almost fifteen minutes and was once again a great showing from them. It doesn’t quite top their encounter from Raw a few weeks ago, but very good nevertheless.

We’re moving onto the first offering from Smackdown on SummerSlam with The Miz defending the Intercontinental Championship against ‘Mr. Personality’ Apollo Crews. You have to feel sorry for Crews, he has been given no character and this match has received no build. In fact, the only build that this match received was aired during the commercial break and I’m not even joking. The match goes about five minutes and Miz retains off the Skull Crushing Finale. Apollo Crews is on thin ice, he needs something big and needs it soon.

Another main event is about to start prematurely as we finally get the return match, AJ Styles vs. John Cena. Back at Money in the Bank, AJ Styles pinned John Cena with interference from The Club but now that The Club have been separated and put on different shows, this match will be guaranteed to be one on one. The match was easily the best of the night, going almost twenty five minutes and obviously topping their encounter from Money in the Bank.

AJ Styles managed to kick out of the Attitude Adjustment off the second rope, which left Cena in a state of bewilderment. Cena wasted time staring at Styles, which allowed him to hit the Styles Clash followed by the Phenomenal Forearm to pick up the one hundred percent, squeaky clean victory. AJ Styles for the first time, manages to come out of a rivalry on top. Let’s hope that this means he will be moving towards the WWE Championship.

When Gallows & Anderson took out Big E. by driving him groin first into the ring post, they started dressing as doctors and going ‘ball-istic’ on the testicle jokes (yes, I am very proud of that one). Kofi and Xavier will be representing The New Day while Big E. recovers as they defend their Tag Team Championships against The Club. Jon Stewart is at ringside for The New Day because f**k it, why not?

When Jon Stewart jumps into the ring and Gallows & Anderson look like they’re about to replicate what they did with Big E. to Jon Stewart, Big E. returns and attacks The Club, thus causing a disqualification and The New Day retain the Tag Team Championships. Tomorrow, The New Day will have held onto the championships for exactly one year.

If you had told me six months ago that Dean Ambrose would be defending the WWE Championship against Dolph Ziggler in one of the main events at SummerSlam, I would have called you a dirty liar and a scoundrel for lying. But in this weird world, that is exactly what’s happening. After miraculously retaining the title in the Triple Threat at Battleground, Dean Ambrose awaited a new challenger when Smackdown properly launched four weeks ago. After several years of floundering, Dolph Ziggler found new life and scored himself a fresh main event push.

Sadly, this match was quite underwhelming. The crowd in Brooklyn didn’t seem particularly interested in it, Dean and Dolph didn’t have a contest that matched the impressive build that the story deserved. Plus, Smackdown really needed this bout to make their main event scene look as big as Raw’s is and they didn’t follow through, which is disappointing.

Eva Marie has been one of the most entertaining aspects of Smackdown these last few weeks. What a sentence that is, it feels weird to type but it’s true. Eva has been doing this gimmick where she finds every excuse not to compete and ironically (and it’s unintentionally hilarious) has been legitimately suspended for violating the WWE Wellness Policy. This just works too easily into the storyline. That means Alexa Bliss and Natalya had to find a replacement in the tag match against Becky Lynch, Carmella and Naomi who has this new gimmick where she’s a literal walking rave. Nikki Bella makes her surprise return after ten months away following neck surgery and gets a hell of a reaction which you can see in the video above.

Nikki Bella needed to find a new finishing move as her previous one is actually what caused her neck issues, and she gets the win for her team with a TKO. I’m so happy to see Nikki again, she worked so hard for the women’s division to be taken seriously and she deserves to be able to be part of a division that WWE is at least attempting to take seriously.

When Dean Ambrose took the WWE Championship to Smackdown, it left Raw without a championship and required them to create a new title. It was announced four weeks ago that at SummerSlam, the first ever WWE Universal Champion would be crowned in a match between Seth Rollins and newcomer, Finn Balor. One of the main talking points is what the new championship would look like and they went with this…

wwe-universal-champion-belt-195841.jpg

What the absolute f**k is that!? Does Charlotte know that WWE have gone into her bag, taken her title and defaced it? We just got rid of the ugliest title WWE have ever seen in the Diva’s Championship, but I think we’ve got ourselves a new contender for that crown. It looks absolutely hideous. Brooklyn noticed very quickly that the title is ugly as sin, so chants of “that belt sucks” to the New Day Rocks chant and “that title sucks!” to the tune of John Cena’s music. It was quite the burial.

Sadly, the outcry over the championship design distracted from the match itself which was pretty good. It wouldn’t have set the world on fire if the crowd had it’s full attention on it, but it was a decent contest which saw Finn Balor hit the Coup De Grace to pin Rollins and become the first ever Universal Champion. Whenever the title was on screen, the crowd booed it so Finn was wise enough to not raise the title when he was in the middle of his celebration. Congratulation Finn Balor, sorry about your new belt.

Following Roman Reigns’ suspension, he was sent to the mid-card and is now in the hunt for the United States Championship. This show has been dragging for a while now, so mercifully this match doesn’t properly get started and it’s just a brawl all over ringside and Reigns bludgeoning Rusev with a chair. Rusev is trying to defend the honour of his wife and is being destroyed for it, what a good guy Roman is. Anyway, Rusev is still champion and we can finally get to the main event.

Main event time (finally) and if you include the pre-show, it’s been a six hour wait for Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton. This match is exactly what you expected it to be, physical and filled to the brim with German Suplex’s. For weeks Randy Orton has been saying “it only takes one RKO to go to Viperville” while everyone groans, but he delivered an RKO on the announce table and another one in the ring and he still didn’t win. Lesnar goes on a ground and pound attack on Orton and causes him to be busted open and it’s a bad cut. Blood is pooling on the canvas and Randy is in a bad way so the referee calls for the bell. Brock Lesnar wins by TKO.

Just because the match is over doesn’t mean Brock Lesnar stops. Brock Lesnar is a giant, walking, hairless Rottweiler and will not be contained. He keeps on Orton until Shane McMahon comes in the ring, asking him to please stop and leave the ring. Lesnar stares down Shane and hits him with the F5 to close the show. Wait, that was it? Huh.

Final Thoughts:

I’m not mad at you SummerSlam, I’m just disappointed. Going into the show with all the matches that were confirmed, the show had all the potential in the world but it for some reason or another didn’t live up to the hype in most cases. Some of the few highlights included AJ Styles getting a clean win over John Cena which is his most important win of his short WWE career thus far. Finn Balor receiving his crowning moment by becoming the first WWE Universal Champion. Sasha Banks and Charlotte putting on yet another killer match and Nikki Bella making her surprise and successful return.

The negatives far out way the positives today with Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler putting on a thoroughly underwhelming performance. The Intercontinental Championship being a complete after thought. Both the United States and Tag Team Championships ending in disqualification and of course, that absolutely atrocious Universal Championship design. But I think we can qualify the highly anticipated main event ending in a TKO and a tease for a Brock Lesnar vs. Shane McMahon match as just a ‘what the f**k!?’ ending.

I feel a little entitled when I say that I expected more from this pay per view, but I did. Matches ranged from not-so-great to pretty good, the order in which the matches appeared on the card was like WWE just hit the random button and the show ended in a whimper. It’s the second biggest show of the year and WWE have once again missed the mark.

Final Rating: 5/10

WWE Raw Commentary August 8th 2016

WWE Raw Commentary August 8th 2016

Coming off a ridiculously awesome episode, last week’s Raw certainly wasn’t as exciting or particularly noteworthy. That’s not to say it was bad, it just had little to no chance of following that up with an episode of the same level. But we’ll have a quick run-through of last week’s events which included the first forty minutes being devoted to the women, Randy Orton RKO’d Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns became Rusev’s next challenger, Titus O’Neil turned heel because of reasons, Big E’s balls were destroyed and R-Truth (like most of the world, including myself) is still playing Pokemon Go rather than working.

Which brings us to this week, what’s next for Seth Rollins and Finn Balor before they collide for the first time at SummerSlam? How many video packages will be played because Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton both probably won’t be on the show this week? What is the latest on Big E’s groin? Did R-Truth catch them all? Answers to those (maybe) and more tonight, so let’s get to it.

Kicking off the show is Enzo & Big Cass and Enzo is talking about how he’s mad at Chris Jericho for ruining his chance with Sasha Banks last week, despite Sasha looking a tiny bit repulsed at times. Imagine a walking, talking raccoon with aftershave hitting on you, it’s not pretty. This brings out Jericho, who brings out his new back-up, Kevin Owens. Enzo & Cass make a gay joke about them, which is disappointing because I like those guys and they’re better than that. Jericho challenges Enzo to a match.

On to the match itself and it was fine. It just really showed that Enzo is definitely best in his tag team role at the moment and that goes for Cass too. These two shouldn’t be split up any time in the near future. Jericho hits a Codebreaker on Enzo but Cass runs in with a big boot to cause a disqualification. Cass challenges the Canadian dad’s to a tag match at SummerSlam, which they accept. This should be a very fun match, which I would imagine will kick off the pay per view.

More delectable murder’s from Braun Strowman this week. Am I a bad person for enjoying these?

In a rematch from last week, former tag team partners collide as Titus O’Neil goes one on one with Darren Young. Last week Titus cheated by grabbing the tights to get the win. This week the exact same thing happens only Darren gets the win. Bob Backlund had his back turned during the tight pulling, so Backlund thinks Darren won fair and square. I don’t quite know what is happening and I’m not sure that I care.

Seth Rollins is in the ring and cuts a promo about Finn Balor, where he got his name and how Seth is going to add to his legend by becoming the first WWE Universal Champion. This promo was pretty bad actually, which is surprising from Seth but I think it comes down to it being totally scripted and not at all written by him, or at least I hope it wasn’t. Rollins sounded like he was trying out at an open mic night at a comedy club.

“Did you guys know that Finn Balor isn’t actually his real name? And while we’re at it, what’s the deal with airline food?”

Okay he didn’t actually say that, but it was certainly within the tone of his voice. Seth says that Finn means ‘Famous Warrior’ and Balor means ‘Demon King’. Seth likens that to him naming himself ‘Rambo Apocalypse’. Which sounds funny but in all seriousness, there’s probably a guy in an independent promotion somewhere in South Carolina wrestling as Rambo Apocalypse who thought it was a really cool name. Anyway, I’ve gotten so off track but this promo sort of missed the mark and I was certainly hoping for more conflict between the two men.

Another rematch from last week as Cesaro faces Sheamus. After Cesaro picked up the win, thus earning him a future title opportunity, the two men had a brawl through the commercial break. Which brings us to this week and Cesaro picks up another win over Sheamus with a roll up. Another good match between these two, probably a better encounter than last week and like I said last week, I think I only like Sheamus when he’s wrestling Cesaro as they bring out the best out of each other. Cesaro has two wins in a row over Sheamus.

Because Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman aren’t on the show this week, a video package will have to carry the story progression for us. With that being said, it’s a really good video package but it’s actually unintentionally hilarious too. Because Brock Lesnar doesn’t even pretend to give a f**k about Randy Orton or take him seriously. I am looking forward to their SummerSlam match, but I do want to hear Brock Lesnar say something about how he’s going to beat something gross out of Orton.

On the Raw Pre-show, The Dudley Boyz challenged Neville to a tag match and Neville should find any partner he wants. Neville, out of the entire roster he could have chosen from, chose Sin Cara because apparently Neville hates us for some reason. Seriously, you have Sami Zayn just sitting in the back doing nothing this week and you choose Sin Cara? Use your brain, Neville! Neville gets the win with the Red Arrow and Bubba Ray looks at D-Von angrily, so it looks like we’re getting that Dudley Boyz feud that no-one asked for.

A few weeks ago, Rusev and Lana were married (in real life) and this week they will celebrate in the ring, like a wedding reception of sorts, I guess? Raw has had a long history of weddings from Stephanie McMahon & Test to Lita & Edge to AJ Lee & Daniel Bryan and you know what they all have in common? They all ended in disaster, so Rusev and Lana were smart to have there ceremony as far away from a wrestling ring as possible.

Anyway, good lord was the segment bad. It ran so long, poor Lana was noticeably struggling, trying to remember her meticulously scripted promo. Then Roman Reigns came out to ruin the newlyweds day because he’s just that sort of guy. Roman makes some bad jokes and pushes Rusev into Lana who goes flying into the cake. Literally about fifteen minutes of build up went into that cake spot and to Lana’s credit, she went all in with the cake to the point it looked like she bladed like Ric Flair.

Lana Flair.jpg

I don’t think this segment would have been anywhere near as bad if it was cut short by five minutes. It just seemed to drag, especially when we knew that a bride with three cakes in the ring was going to lead to only one thing. Also, Roman Reigns going back to his hokey jokey stuff is literally the worst thing that they could have done with him. Right when Reigns was only being a super serious, ass-kicker he reverts back to what people hated about him in the first place. Anyway, Rusev will defend the United States Championship against Roman Reigns at SummerSlam but good lord I hated this and now I will finish up this segment with this image…

punchable face Roman.jpg

Doesn’t he just have the most punch-able face?

Earlier in the night, Sasha Banks asked Mick Foley to make her Women’s Championship match against Charlotte at SummerSlam a handicap match so she can keep her eye on Dana Brooke. So Foley says that if she can beat Dana tonight, Dana is banned from ringside at SummerSlam. Honestly, none of that makes any sense. Why wouldn’t Sasha just ask for Dana to be banned from ringside to begin with? Why are all babyfaces so stupid? Anyway, Sasha wins and gets the better deal that she for some reason didn’t ask for to begin with, oh well!

Before Luke Gallows goes one on one with Kofi Kingston, Gallows and Anderson (wearing white coats) pretend to be doctors and explain Big E’s injury from last week as ‘ringpostitis’. Karl literally holds up a jar of Big E’s testicles and proceeds to make many jokes on Big E’s groin and I will not apologise for laughing at all of them.

Luke: “We recently completed emergency surgery on Big E and the results of which were nuts.”

Karl: “It kind of makes you want to ball your eyes out, doesn’t it doctor?”

Luke: “It does make me a little bit testie.”

Now the immaturity is out of the way, Gallows hits a flapjack on Kingston to score the win. After the match, Gallows and Anderson try to do the same thing to Kofi as they did to Big E. but are chased off by Xavier who comes running with a steel chair.

Following Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton invading the other’s show to attack each other last week, Raw General Manager Mick Foley invited the Smackdown General Manager Daniel Bryan to Raw tonight to clear the air. Many backhanded compliments later, Mick Foley replays footage of Daniel Bryan making fun of Raw’s new Universal Championship. Foley says the title isn’t a joke which brings out Rusev who says that Raw doesn’t need another champion because he’s the top champion on Raw. Rusev starts sucking up to Mick Foley to try and get out of his match with Roman Reigns at SummerSlam.

Cesaro interrupts and mentions that Mick Foley told him that if he won his match against Sheamus last week, he’d get a title match. Mick Foley seems hesitant at first but Cesaro asks if Foley is indeed a man of his word. Daniel Bryan interrupts and says he thinks that Cesaro is being totally underutilised on Raw, which Cesaro agrees. So Mick Foley makes Cesaro vs. Rusev for the United States Championship right now.

This was a fun little segment, teasing tension between the two opposing authority figures plus bringing some superstars into it too. Cesaro appears to be very unhappy with his spot on Raw and with Daniel Bryan also sucking up to Cesaro, could we see our first defection of this brand split? I certainly hope so as Smackdown desperately needs more people.

I don’t know what I did to earn this, but it’s a second Cesaro match for the night and its a title match too. Cesaro was wrestling like he didn’t even compete earlier because he’s superhuman like that. As to be expected, these two put on a very entertaining match but it’s all ruined when Sheamus arrives on the scene. Distractions and ref bumps later, Sheamus lands a Brogue Kick on Cesaro, which leads to another kick from Rusev to keep Cesaro down for the three count. Following the match as Rusev is walking backwards up the ramp, Roman Reigns spears Rusev to close the show.

Instead of going into two separate singles matches at SummerSlam with Cesaro/Sheamus and Rusev/Reigns, I would prefer them to throw them all together for a Fatal-4-Way for the United States Title. Especially considering Cesaro was cheated out of his shot and Roman Reigns hasn’t actually earned his, it would make a lot more sense. But the cynical side of me believes Roman will just beat Rusev one on one for the title and do it for America. Yay America.

Final Thoughts:

Even taking the last two Raw’s out of the equation, this episode was objectively bad. There were very few positives to come out of it, the only ones I can think of are the chemistry between Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, the quality video package promoting Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton, Gallows & Anderson pretending to be doctors, more tension between the opposing authority figures and Cesaro being pretty much the MVP of the night by wrestling two quality matches and looking like a star.

Meanwhile the negatives are through the roof with Seth Rollins’ promo sort of missing the mark, Titus O’Neil and Darren Young’s story hitting a stalemate, the lacklustre surprise partner of Neville’s being Sin Cara, new stars like Nia Jax, Sami Zayn and Finn Balor were all not in action plus that horrendously long segment with Rusev, Lana and Roman Reigns. I guess this new era of Raw is only good two out of three times.

All is not lost though, WWE were obviously rushing this show because most of it’s stars are heading off to Australia and New Zealand that night and we’ve still got one more episode before SummerSlam. Using a term that’s thrown around a lot, I’m cautiously optimistic that this horrible Raw was a one off due to time and circumstance and we’ll be back to normal next week.

Final Rating: 4/10

WWE are in Adelaide on Friday night, which I will be in attendance for and I can’t wait.

I’ll be tweeting a bunch from there plus you can find my usual live tweets from Raw at @MichaelFarrer92 on Twitter.

I’ll see you soon.