Bray Wyatt vs Seth Rollins
The WWE appeared to have big plans for Rollins, keeping him in the World Title picture for some time and sticking him on every cover of their WW2k18 video game, but injuries have left him in storyline limbo. Bray Wyatt is in a similar bind, going from Smackdown World Champion to RAW mid-carder. A feud with Finn Balor seems to have been aborted as well, so I wouldn’t want to be either Rollins or Wyatt right now.
All that to say there is very little to get excited about for Rollins/Wyatt’s non-existent story. Why not incorporate the real-life frustration they must both be feeling? Have the GM issue a challenge to them to prove themselves and get back to feuding for a title.
Not much stuck out, as it felt fairly by the numbers. Wyatt appeared a bit clunky in the heavily scripted sections and I didn’t see much chemistry between the two. They put on an average match deserving of the lackluster feud.
Wyatt kicked Rollin’s previously injured knee and thumbed the eye to setup a Sister Abigail and get the win.
I didn’t see anything that suggested either should be in the main event picture. Both had their brushes with the top, but Wyatt hasn’t delivered a great match in quite awhile and Rollins seems to fare better with smaller competitors. Also, enough with attacking his knee! Why would you hobble one of the most athletic wrestlers in the company?
Cass vs Enzo
The hilarious size difference, Enzo’s bulging eyes, and Cass’ ability to look mean and get the crowd against him resulted in a pretty entertaining beatdown. Enzo put up a small fight and looked brave as he peeled himself off the outside to barely make the ten-count, only to get leveled one more time and pinned.
Sheamus & Cesaro vs Hardy Boyz
30 min Iron-Man
I would gladly watch Cesaro and another skilled wrestler have a 1-on-1 30-min Iron Man, but Sheamus and the aging Hardy’s?
Fortunately the crowd was great, adding a lot of energy to the affair. Sheamus and Matt started in the ring but Cesaro ran in to distract Matt and allow Sheamus to nail his Brogue Kick and score the first fall. 1-0
Sheamaro controlled most of the first half, and grabbed another pin after booting Matt from the apron and double-teaming Jeff. 2-0
Matt Hardy had a splendid hot tag and set the crowd on fire when he banged Cesaro’s head against the top, middle, and lower turnbuckles. After three consecutive finishers, the Hardys scored their first fall with 16:54 remaining. 2-1
Cesaro threw Matt into the post, knocking him out for a ten-count, and another score. 3-1
Twice, Cesaro has ran in for his tag and booted the non-legal Hardy off the apron before working on the legal one. It’s a great, intelligent heel move.
The Hardy’s stormed back with innovative double-team work to grab the 2-3 pin with 7 minutes to go. We then had three minutes of exciting near falls that the crowd ate up.
Matt hit a moonsault and the crowd counted the ref’s body hitting the ground as ‘1’, incorrectly counting a 2-count as 3 and chanting ‘ref you suck!’.
A spectacular Twist of Fate off the top rope evened the score at three a piece with three minutes remaining.
The Hardy’s leapt from opposite corners to land on Sheamus but Cesaro made the save.
Final 60 seconds
Sheamus made a sneaky tag but Jeff did the Swanton on Sheamus, prompting Cesaro to sneak a pin on Jeff with :30 left. Cesaro ran away until Jeff hit a Twist of Fate with two seconds left on the clock, which wasn’t enough for a pin.
Matt was very bloody after the match and had both a trainer and his brother inspecting the damage.
This was surprisingly good. A tag-team Iron Man is actually a great idea as it allows the competitors to go harder than a 1-on-1, and rest when not involved in the main action.
The crowd and four men were spectacular, and the final few minutes were exciting as heck. A Hardy win would have went a long way for crowd satisfaction, but it’s nice to keep the belts on Shemaro a little longer.
Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss
An incredible match I wish would have gotten more time.
These two have great chemistry and gave everything in a very hard-hitting match. Sasha is fantastic at making moves look they’ve seriously hurt her, twisting her back and screaming in ways that make the entire world wince along with her.
Early on Alexa complained of a broken arm to the ref, showing it bent unnaturally, this was a clever ruse however, as she flashed back to life, belting Sasha in the face. The crowd clapped appreciatively for the unique idea.
Banks had her submission locked on Bliss, and although Bliss crawled to the ropes, Banks refused to let go until just before the 5-count, risking DQ. She then reached to Bliss on the outside of the ring, pulling her in by the hair, almost suggesting a reversal of roles.
Bliss pushed Banks back into the ring, and collapsed to the outside, taking the count-out and leaving with her title.
Banks wasn’t finished and chased after her, brawling near the announcer table. Bliss went for a DDT through the table but Banks threw her off to a lower area. Banks then shocked the crowd, diving off the table onto Bliss.
Banks hasn’t had great luck with storylines lately, but her in-ring work has never faltered. She looked like a Champion and one of the best assets the WWE has.
Bliss has always been great on the mic but tonight her wrestling skills were gloriously on display. She not only held her own with Banks, but brought plenty to the table.
These two are a reason to tune into RAW.
Miz vs Dean Ambrose
After the excellent Banks/Bliss match, this one seemed quite tame in comparison. Miz – called ‘the King of soft style’ by Daniel Bryan – lacks a visceral impact to most of his repertoire.
Ambrose brought the excitement near the end with a few high-risk moves, but also broke the illusion by acting if one leg was nearly crippled one moment, and then sprinting all over the ring the next.
Miz eventually won with help from Maryse and the Miztourage.
Another bland RAW feud, this time brought over from Smackdown (what was the point of the Superstar Shakeup then?).
Braun Strowman vs Roman Reigns
The crowd booed the hell out of Reigns’ music, but a noticeable amount cheered the first sight of him (added in post-production?). They boo/yeah’d Roman and Strowman respectively to open up the match and the usual higher pitched ‘let’s go Roman’ battled with the lower ‘Roman sucks’.
The two big men traded blows like Godzilla vs King Kong. At one point, Strowman stalked Reigns, no-selling chair shots.
Once the battle got to the ambulance it turned up several hundred notches. When Strowman raised the stretcher board to hit Reigns, there were audible screams from the audience.
The behemoths threw their weight around the entrance ramp, destroying huge portions of the set.
Reigns genius idea was to spear Strowman into the ambulance, to which Strowman obviously stepped to the side, allowing Reigns to eliminate himself.
Reigns immediately came out of the ambulance, attacking Strowman, slamming the doors on him before tossing Strowman inside and driving the ambulance away.
In the parking garage, Reigns drove the ambulance backwards into a trailer, collapsing the back of of the life-saving vehicle like an accordion.
In the meantime…
Curt Hawkins vs Heath Slater filler match
To help sell the backstage chaos, we have an impromptu match while the Dallas F.D. arrived backstage to help Strowman.
In the ring, Hawkins and Slater proved they are not the same person.
Back to backstage
The jaws of life take an extremely long time to open the door and the medics argue with Strowman about getting on a stretcher. He refuses and climbs out of the ambulance, falling to the ground every few feet. He smears blood on a tourbus, says ‘leave, me alone’ like Randy Savage, and the segment ends.
Samoa Joe vs Brock Lesnar
Joe jumped the champ during his introduction and got in a hefty beating before the bell had rang, even putting him through a table!
Lesnar struggled back to the ring, but still decided to start the match, smiling as he did it.
This was an aggressive match with a great authentic feel. The two have great chemistry, interrupting each other’s moves as they pushed and shoved around the ring.
Joe had the early upper hand due to the pre-match beating, but Lesnar would quickly regain his footing. A few Coquina Clutches got close to bringing the champ down, but the final one would be Joe’s undoing.
With Lesnar on his knees and looking ready to tap or pass out, he suddenly reversed the clutch into an F5 and got the pin.
A quick but ferocious match that suited their styles. Just like their great RAW splitscreen promo, these two have a way of dancing that feels natural, as opposed to taking turns off a script.
A surprisingly great tag match, a stellar Bliss/Banks, a great main event, and memorable post-match with Strowman and Reigns elevated this show beyond the bland feuds of Rollins/Wyatt and Miz/Ambrose.
Great matches, great moments, and a great crowd, make for a great show. Long live Great Balls of Fire.