Jeff Hardy vs. Cesaro: It’s hard for a Kickoff match to be terrible — it just needs to be something you can put on in the background while you prepare dinner or get the drinks ready for your Zoom watch party. While some Kickoff matches make me look up and stop cooking for a second to watch, this one did not. There was one solid moment as Cesaro rallied toward the back end of the match, but I looked away shortly after. Rewatching the match this morning justified my choice to do so.
The New Day vs. The Miz and John Morrison vs. Lucha House Party vs. Forgotten Sons (SmackDown Tag Team Championship): This match was extremely short and felt like it was just starting to get going when it ended. The high flyers of course were the highlight of the match. I was looking forward to seeing the Lucha House Party and they delivered. Kofi hit some solid moves and of course John Morrison is always amazing, but I couldn’t really get into the swing of things with eight people in the ring and the match only lasting 13 minutes.
With that many people in the ring, it’s hard to give any sense of a focused story in such a short time period. This should have gone on for another five or ten minutes, but instead it just felt like they told everyone they were allowed three spots and then they would finish the match. The spots themselves were great though. Everyone was on their A game and the match was more than entertaining because of this; I just wish there had been a little something more with how many people were involved.
R-Truth vs. Bobby Lashley: What was the point of this? I was confused. Did they decide that they needed to add an extra 10 minutes onto the show at the last minute? I have no idea. But I always enjoy R-Truth so I guess I’ll allow it?
Bayley vs. Tamina (SmackDown Women’s Championship): This started slow, but had some good banter which is exactly what you need to do when you go for a slow build. For what is essentially a filler match, it was pretty entertaining. There were some fun dynamics between the two as they shouted at each other and as Sasha intervened. It wasn’t amazing or particularly memorable, but it was a match that knew what it was. So while I wasn’t enthralled with it, I appreciate that they were able to add a little more zest onto this match.
Bray Wyatt vs. Braun Strowman (Universal Championship): This was my match of the night. It was able to subvert my expectations multiple times. It was able to be a solid self-contained story that someone new could get into while also playing into the larger story of Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman. If you took out all the different plot beats, the match itself, the moves and actual fighting, were pretty standard and run of the mill. But story can elevate a match so much and I was hanging on every single hit.
This was also helped along by Bray’s amazing character work. I absolutely love watching him as Bray in the ring. He does an amazing job of being in character, especially as Bray where we can see him with his friendly personality with hints of The Fiend bubbling to the surface. I also especially love the puppets popping up. I’m still hoping to see them actually get involved in a match at some point — maybe Mercy can try to eat someone.
Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre (WWE Championship): I can’t say I’m happy for what this means for Seth. I absolutely love Seth’s gimmick, but with this loss as well as at WrestleMania, I see absolutely no reason to see Seth as a threat as the Messiah. I absolutely loved his new theme but introducing a new theme and having him lose really does not convey strength. A messiah character needs to either be a comic relief hokey street preacher or someone who is a huge threat. So far Seth is just somewhere in the middle.
The match itself was solid. It had great pacing and both men can hit hard and sell well. Any match where someone can hit and sell well enough to make me think “oh god, that looks like it would hurt” has me invested. But I just cannot get over how weak Seth has looked in the past month or two.
Money in the Bank Ladder Matches: This is a hard one for me to really judge. On one hand, I absolutely loved all the comedy bits. On the other hand, I thought there were too many of them. There wasn’t enough actual fights or sequences. They could have easily put in more substantial fights, like the one between Styles and Bryan, between each joke. Judging by how short it was, they could have easily done so and I’m not sure why they didn’t honestly.
This is not to say I don’t love comedy matches but normally those still have a solid amount of actual fighting or are very clear that they are purely comedy. Most Orange Cassidy matches are half comedy, half fighting. Even most Chikara matches are mostly actual fights. Just to be clear though, this is not to say I would take out any of the jokes, simply add in some more fights.
All that being said, I still enjoyed it. I was still entertained during the match and it had me laughing throughout. I absolutely loved the AJ Styles side plot of being haunted by The Undertaker, Otis cheering on Daniel Bryan was amazing, and Asuka… well obviously everything Asuka did was absolutely amazing.
I was honestly extremely surprised by both winners. I’m very much worried how this will hurt Shayna Baszler — I think she’s a tremendous heel and I want to see her do well on the main card. However, I am happy to see Asuka get another shot. Otis was a great pick for the men’s winner. I would have liked to see Aleister Black get it, but it is going to benefit Otis more than it would benefit Black.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!
Do you love wrestling? Do you have strong opinions on AEW, WWE, NJPW, Impact, ROH, and the independent scene? Do you like to write about wrestling? Then we want you on our team. AIPT is currently recruiting wrestling writers. Apply to write for AIPT today!