I went into this pay-per-view excited, and had been eagerly anticipating it for a while. The Eye for an Eye match, Swamp Fight, Sasha and Bayley’s plot…there were so many things here to look forward to. So just how extreme was this PPV? Well…
Kevin Owens vs. Murphy: For a Kickoff Show match, this was really solid. This opening of the match was fast and hard hitting; the pace slowed down after the first pin attempt, but honestly, not by much. KO and Murphy did an absolutely excellent job with the big hits, especially Murphy’s selling. Owens surprised me with that jump from the second rope to the top into his moonsault. It was extremely impressive from Owens.
This match was great, and it allowed Murphy to show off especially since he’s been kind of on the back burner. It reminded me of Murphy’s feud with Aleister Black, and I honestly miss that.
New Day (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro (SmackDown Tag Team Championship): Yes, there were others in this match but Kofi was the star here, by far. Kofi is routinely one of the few wrestlers WWE seems to let him do the flippy stuff, but this match seemed to really limit how much Kofi actually was able to do. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it did rob the match of the high flying vs heavy hitting showcase that matches involving Kofi usually have. Not to say it was totally absent of that, but the reduction was noticeable.
However, and perhaps the lack of flips helped this, what was also noticeable was Kofi’s anger and frustration. It added a lot to the “horror show” aspect of the match with Kofi dropping his happy-go-lucky persona. It was honestly kind of jarring in that sense and it really stood out. I sincerely hope that this is leading somewhere. If not a heel turn, at least a bit of variation in New Day’s gimmick.
Bayley (c) vs. Nikki Cross (SmackDown Women’s Championship): This was a decent match, but nothing extremely notable. There were one or two moments of pretty solid offense by Nikki in the middle of the match, but at the same time there were a couple sells that just felt off to me. The last minute or two started picking up, but then the match suddenly just ended. It felt like it could have gone on for another three or four minutes with that accelerated pace.
I do like that Nikki is starting to show more of her old crazy side more. Hopefully we’ll see her go into a Hulk mode more and more in the future.
Seth Rollins vs. Rey Mysterio (Eye For an Eye): Hardcore matches are like pizza and sex: even when it’s bad, its still good. This was one such match. I don’t think this was good, per se, but it was still fun. Just the absurdity of the whole thing — Seth having pliers, trying to take out someone’s eye with the end of a kendo stick, announcers simply yelling the phrase “he’s going for the eye!” for the 20th time. It was cheesy, but the weight and seriousness they treated it with it made the whole thing…. extremely odd.
The end felt like such a cop out. It just resulted in literally no change from where we started. No story really progressed. We found out Rey’s eye was healed moments before it was reinjured. It would have been bold to just completely blind Mysterio, but they went with the easy way out.
Asuka (c) vs. Sasha Banks (Raw Women’s Championship): All the matches so far started with a big flurry of hits and excitement. This one started with a nice build going from hold to hold. Usually I tend to dislike this sort of grappling and submissions — it’s not even chain wrestling, but just a series of more theatrical submissions such as bending people’s fingers back. While it’s a good way to build tension it just usually doesn’t do much for me.
However, I did appreciate the slower pace after all the more frantic matches. And while I would have kicked up the pace of the match earlier, once Asuka hit that second suplex it really started to pick up and get intense. The pace never got too fast but with how good Asuka and Banks are at in-ring character work, it never needed to. By the end of this match I was on the edge of my seat. It was by far match of the night.
The ending to this match is absolutely not something I would have seen coming at all. I was hoping to see Sasha lose, thus creating more jealousy between the two friends, but this is extremely interesting, so my interest is piqued. The general consensus on this ending is a lot more pessimistic than I am, but I’m honestly interested to see where WWE takes this. So I’m on board with this, at least for now.
Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE Championship): I don’t know what to make of this match. It wasn’t bad at all — in fact, it was above average. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I would go back and rewatch it. I honestly don’t know why either. Dolph did an amazing job with his in-character ring work, there were some extremely impressive spots and both men did a great job.
Perhaps it’s because I felt like the stipulation didn’t make that much of a difference. I never felt like Drew was ever on the back foot. I never felt like there was ever any tension. I never felt invested. Which is fine; not every match needs to be a a huge giant culmination to a huge plot. But like many Dolph matches, while technically proficient, it just lacked tension.
Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt (Wyatt Swamp Fight): I’ve said this before and I will continue saying it: we need more things like this in wrestling. I absolutely love this, as it allows us to explore other plot beats, other interesting dynamics outside of just the ring.
This particular cinematic match was fun, perhaps a bit expected, no major twists but it was still extremely good. It did what it needed to do, and unlike the Eye For an Eye match, seemingly advanced this plot. It seems Bray has won and defeated Braun. What does this mean for Braun? How will he return? Will he return a broken shell of a man? Will he return as Bray’s follower like before? I still like the idea that maybe The Fiend can inhabit other people’s bodies and other people can actually become The Fiend, so perhaps that was Braun as The Fiend coming out? Whatever happens, I am actually looking forward to Friday for once in a long time.
In summary, I felt like my description of the McIntyre match is a perfect one for this PPV as a whole. It wasn’t bad, in fact better than average. But in reality, for me, the PPV just kind of fell flat. The cinematic match was good. Auska and Sasha was great and most of the other matches were fine. But the PPV as a whole was just kinda… there. Not bad, not terrible. It was decent, but in the end, destined to be lost to the waters of Bray’s swamp.
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