The New Day (C) def. Cesaro and Sheamus – SmackDown Tag Team Championships
This match was about everything I thought it would be. It wasn’t over the top, but it wasn’t just a filler, either. It was a very good, competitive, back and forth affair between two of the best tag teams WWE has to offer. I was interested in the dynamic of Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods without Big E in there to combat the strength of Sheamus and Cesar. Again, I knew that The New Day wasn’t losing here, but the teamwork of Cesaro and Sheamus made me start to tinker with my prediction a bit. If there’s anyone who makes a great face in peril, it’s Kofi Kingston. Predictable match to start the night, but it was well-worked, had a great energy to it, and made the SmackDown Tag Titles feel important. Solid start. ***1/4
Charlotte def. Becky Lynch (C) by DQ – SmackDown Women’s Championship
Well, I suppose if there was any match that was going to end in DQ for the purpose of continuing a feud, it would be this one. And you know what? I’m not mad at it. I suspect they are going to finish this at Evolution. Getting into the actual match, it was extremely well-worked if you ask me. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair have a great, natural chemistry with each other dating back to their NXT days. All of the submission reversals and the and the pacing of the match was what kept me in it. I would have liked to have seen more continuity throughout the match, such as Becky targeting Charlotte Flair’s arm or Charlotte Flair targeting Becky Lynch’s legs just for consistency or for the finish of the match to make sense. Instead, they made it seem like Charlotte Flair was straight up the better woman and Becky had to cheat in order to save her title. The finish makes sense, and I did suspect that there wouldn’t be any finality here. All in all, another fabulous match between these two. ***1/2
John Cena and Bobby Lashley def. Elias and Kevin Owens
I knew what this match was going to be. It was just going to be a little house level show match for John Cena’s return. The formula was pretty simple. Isolate Bobby Lashley for most of the match, have John Cena do as little as possible, introduce his new Move of Doom and not BS around. I just hate the fact that John Cena’s age is really starting to show because it makes me feel old. I mean look at that freaking hair. He looks like Mark Wahlberg didn’t get enough sleep. And that bald spot. Goodness, gracious. Anyway, this what was it was and it indeed did what it was intended to do. **
The IIconics def. Asuka and Naomi
It’s quite clear that we are in the cooldown portion of the evening before the more important matches take place. I just want to say that I want to love The IIconics so badly. But I just don’t have any reason to. I mean, what’s so unique about them? Are they not just the Australian version of The Bella Twins? Anyways, this is what you’d expect from these two tag teams. It was kind of just there, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing since half the match featured two Australians. But again, it was just sort of present and nothing much afterward. The crowd also didn’t seem to be that into the match from what I heard and basically waited until the match was over. Don’t really have much to say here except that I don’t know how many of you follow rap, but Asuka went full 69 here. *1/2
AJ Styles (C) def. Samoa Joe – WWE Championship (No DQ, No Countout)
It’s weird. I loved this match and hated it at the same time. Let’s break it down from the top. This was a well-worked match. It’s AJ Styles and Samoa Joe. You could tie them up together to a pole and blindfold them and they could make a story out of that. So the concern isn’t whether or not this was a good match. The real question is whether or not this was the match they should have worked. I’ll simply say it like this. I loved when AJ Styles and Samoa Joe cut the BS and just got straight into the kicking each other’s asses part. The problem is that for around 15 minutes they forgot they could do that. If you’re AJ Styles, you are looking at a man who’s been coming at your wife and kids for the past couple of months. Why are you concerned about wrestling a normal match? Why not just bust out the kendo sticks and chairs early to cut the monotony?
I’ve noticed that to be a problem in some of AJ Styles’ matches, and it’s the fact that there is a lot of fat that doesn’t get trimmed in the match. It’s just there to occupy the time and doesn’t advance the plot or the match. It’s just a formality. Of course, the wrestling wasn’t bad, but if they cut out half of the beginning portion, it would have been just as good. I loved AJ Styles going to a dark place and having no remorse on Samoa Joe’s knee. I did also love the consistency in that it played out in the finish. My problem is that it just took us so long to get that point, but once we did, it was awesome.
I suspected AJ Styles would retain the title, but I’m quickly becoming concerned that Samoa Joe is becoming a guy that’s all talk and no action. He said he was going to win the Universal Title from Brock Lesnar and he lost in an 8-minute match. He said he was going to defeat Roman Reigns at Backlash and he didn’t. He said he was going to win the WWE Title from AJ Styles and didn’t do it despite three opportunities. How can a guy who looks, talks and acts like Samoa Joe be a guy that consistently chokes on the big stage? I’m not mad that Samoa Joe isn’t champion. I completely get why he isn’t, and I’m about as big an AJ Styles Stan as the nest guy. But it’s not like Samoa Joe lost by another fluke. He tapped out to the better man, conceding that AJ Styles was better. I don’t know. It’s kind of a bittersweet pill. Overall, the match was very good when it got going, but I thought it was a bit long for my taste. ***3/4
Ronda Rousey and The Bella Twins def. The Riott Squad
Can we address the elephant in the room of how ridiculously overpowered Ronda Rousey is? She has an MMA background, so I completely get it, but was making two members of The Riott Squad tap out at the same time necessary? Doesn’t that make their entire trio look like a complete joke? I believe most of us were expecting The Bella Twins to turn on Ronda Rousey to build to some sort of match for WWE Evolution, but I guess they wanted to save it for now. This was a tag match featuring The Bella Twins, so there’s a very low ceiling attached to this match, and it was just another tag match that just existed. Thankfully, I didn’t hate it, Ronda Rousey looked good and Brie Bella didn’t knock someone out. **