Another PPV has come and gone, and RETRIBUTION still seems to be extremely polite making sure not to disrupt WWE’s big events. But what about the actual matches? Were they any good? Let’s check it out and get into it with the Kickoff Show match, which was…
Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro (c) vs. Lucha House Party (SmackDown Tag Team Championship): As with most pre-show matches, I don’t have much to say. They always seem like they are tagged onto the event just because WWE feels the need to appease the pre-show gods. Nevertheless, it was a fun match. No real complaints for what it was.
As I have said before, I am excited to see Lucha House Party get more and more time to shine. WWE has seemed to let them do more actual lucha libre moves as of late. Perhaps this will change once WWE considers them a team worthy of titles, but I hope not. Never change, Lucha House Party.
Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Sami Zayn (c) vs. AJ Styles (Ladder Match – Intercontinental Championship): Styles and Hardy can both put on a fun match, but it was the Zayn plot that really had me invested going into this. Especially when you know why he actually took time off, which was due to Covid concerns. So despite how WWE is writing him, knowing any of the background makes Zayn the clear babyface in the match.
It was a bit slow for a ladder match at the start, until Styles missed that forearm outside the ring, falling into the “crowd”. From that moment on it was so good. One or two botches looked extremely painful, but seemed to not injure anyone and didn’t take away from the flow of the match.
That ending though was wonderful as well. Zayn handcuffing everyone was absolutely great, and Zayn’s look of childish excitement realizing he can capitalize on certain situations is always absolutely tremendous. It goes right along with his wild hair and big beard. Honestly Zayn, was 100% the star of this match.
Asuka (c) vs. Zelina Vega (Raw Women’s Championship): Going into this match I was a bit confused. Vega hasn’t really wrestled that much in the past couple of years, and to suddenly be given a title shot seems odd. I’m not saying she’s a bad wrestler — she isn’t by any means, but she hasn’t been built up as someone who deserves a title shot. So I was pretty indifferent going into this.
The match was meh, honestly. It was pretty slow with mostly holds and submissions dominating the majority of the match. There were really no intense sequences or anything that caught my attention save perhaps the last couple of seconds of the match. It was pretty bland, but inoffensive and it was fairly short. So it knew what it was, at least.
Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Apollo Crews (United States Championship): I like the Hurt Business and think they are a great faction, but this ongoing feud with them and Crews is not really offering anything new anymore. I hope that this has solidified Bobby as being the champion and we get to see Apollo move onto other things.
The match was fine. I like Apollo’s in-ring ability, and he is fun to watch. He has a good mix of strong power moves mixed with agility. Meanwhile, Lashley is, well… he’s good at what he does as a powerhouse. I wouldn’t say he is necessarily fun to watch, though. He has good matches, but they often rely on other elements such as who he is wrestling and what the plot is. Even Crews wasn’t good enough to make me enjoy Lashley this time, although he did have some really cool spots.
Also, I just can’t take the Full Nelson seriously. I know it’s an honest to god serious and dangerous wrestling move, but the visual of it just makes me laugh.
Street Profits (c) vs. Andrade and Angel Garza (Raw Tag Team Championship): Yet another match I didn’t really care about going into this PPV. This feud needs to stop. It is overdone and there’s nothing new or exciting being added to it by having it go on for longer.
That being said, the match itself was objectively fun. If they are going to feud forever, at least they work well together in the ring. The issue is the context dragged the match down; the context being that this feud has been going on for months. At a certain point, even the most entertaining things wear thin. If this match had been at the start of the feud between these two teams, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. But after months of the same thing again and again, I’m ready to move on.
I will note that the weird ending seems to have been due to Garza getting injured. His leg looked extremely out of sorts, so I’m wishing him all the best and for a speedy recovery.
Bayley (c) vs. Asuka (SmackDown Women’s Championship): For a random match, this was good! I’ll excuse the rematch since it was such short notice. It was fast paced and got right to the point. I thought a DQ was a good way to finish the match — it’s a good standard heel move and lets Asuka technically get a win over Bayley.
I do think they should have had Sasha wait a couple more weeks before appearing again. No reason to bring her back yet; the longer they wait, the more intense her injury seems. It would also help them avoid having to stall for time in the feud later on.
Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton (Ambulance Match – WWE Championship): Maybe it’s because I didn’t get into wrestling until later, but I just can’t get into Orton. He doesn’t seem like a legit threat to me. The past two and a half years I’ve been watching he is just…there. He is an upper card guy who wins a lot, but is always fed to the current champion to legitimize their title run. I’ve watched his past stuff but I just can’t feel threatened by him. So going into the match I really didn’t care.
However, this match was really well done. It was everything a gimmick match like this needs to be; this is what that Fiend match from SummerSlam should have been in terms of how the space was explored and used. How they had a good use of the environment as weapons. Not too much, not too little.
The bit with all of Orton’s past enemies coming to haunt him was extremely well done. I was a bit iffy on the need for multiple people to come out and help McIntyre, and it does kind of make him look week. However, McIntyre beat Orton once before in his title run completely clean. Also, just simply how great the story of Orton’s past coming to haunt him made it pretty easy for me to ignore this issue. So overall, great match.
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Jey Uso (Universal Championship): The build to this match has been amazing. It honestly should have had another couple of weeks to really simmer, but despite that, it had me really eager to see exactly what would happen. And boy, did things happen.
There was so much good about this match. The first half or so of the match was fine — it did what it needed to do, though I would argue could have been cut down a little bit. But after Jey got that spurt of offense, the match just got absolutely insane. This match is an amazing example of what wrestling is, what wrestling can be, and what wrestling should always strive to be.
There’s something to be said about the way wrestling can tell a story in a match without a single word spoken between the wrestlers, but this match makes a good argument for why sometimes you should turn up the mics in the ring. The back and forth at the end between Jey, Roman, Jimmy, and the ref was absolutely amazing. It was heartfelt, sad, and you just felt your heart go out to Jey. Even Paul Hayman’s usual schtick of “I can’t believe my client is going this far!” felt fresh with Reigns in this match.
Roman Reigns is such a good heel. His slow, deliberate mannerisms were great, as were his interactions with the ref. The way he briefly acknowledged the commentators with a subtle ‘what’s up’ head nod really sold the fact that he didn’t have to take this seriously (and got a chuckle out of me). Even the way was almost no-selling was excellent. He sold just enough to show he had been hit, but always held that stoic look. He looked amazing.
This absolutely cannot be the end of Reigns and Jey. It’s too intriguing of a combination to simply throw away. It would make a perfect on again off again feud between the two during Reigns’ current title run. I am desperately hoping to see more.
The Verdict: There were a couple matches I really wasn’t interested in on this card, and even then, the Street Profits match was still a good match, it was just the plot leading up to it that was the problem. The rest of the PPV ranged from fun to absolutely amazing. WWE’s last two PPVs (SummerSlam and Payback) were extremely subpar. In fact, going into this show, I was viewing this PPV as a chore in part due to those other two ones having been so bad. But this show delivered. So, so much. Best PPV since the pandemic started, hands down.
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