Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Commentators: Rich Brennan, Byron Saxton, John “Bradshaw” Layfield
This was being advertised prior to the show as a singles match between Randy Orton and Sheamus. Being completely honest, this was a more energetic version of a “RAW special” tag team match and was basically a rehashing of old feuds. That isn’t to say that it was bad though. Dolph played his role well as the face-in-peril and the match never slowed down in any major way. Of course, Randy Orton eventually got in there and the crowd reacted well as he lead his team to victory with the RKO. This won’t be particularly remembered a week from now, but it woke the crowd up to start the show, which is exactly what it was meant to do.
Result: Randy Orton & Dolph Ziggler via pinfall (RKO to Sheamus)
Rating: Above Average
This is a bonus match not advertised before the show. Admittedly, it wasn’t much of a bonus. The work on display wasn’t bad per se, but the crowd barely cared. That’s understandable too, as there was nothing new in this match that wasn’t in the seemingly dozen matches that these two have seemingly had in their feud. Personally, I find Neville to usually rely on acrobatics a litte too much. But in this instance he almost seemed lethargic. This is one time where some flashiness might’ve popped the crowd more. I’m just starting to wonder if Neville could be a one-trick pony who actually deserves to be solidly in the lower-to-midcard. As far as Stardust goes, I feel that this contest also exposed just how worn out the character is. Just to clarify, I’m not calling this match “bad”, I’m just saying that it left no impression on me whatsoever.
Result: Neville via pinfall (Red Arrow)
This makes 2 “bonus” matches in a row. I guess we’re lucky today. This is also a rematch from Monday’s RAW. They were given a decent amount of time and told a decent story. Paige continued what I suppose would be classed as a slow burn heel turn throughout this match, with her trying to be the focus of the in-ring action while disrupting the flow of her team in the process. The whole thing was just okay really, with no-one screwing up while keeping things very basic. The crowd seemed to care to some degree, though there was an awkward “we want Sasha” chant at one point. I will say however, that I liked the finish. The idea of Becky and Charlotte abandoning Paige in a reversal of Monday was an interesting twist. In the PG era, it’s rare for babyfaces to be allowed any edge beyond the puerile use of “bitch” or “ass”, so it was refreshing to see the good guys pay someone back in-kind.
Result: Team Bella via pinfall (Rack Attack to Paige)
Finally, we got something that felt a little special. It probably also helped that this was a truly fresh match-up and pretty much the first of the night so far. Jericho’s pre-match promo definitely helped to both liven up the crowd and get them behind him. For Owens’ part, he definitely showed why he’s one of the most promising prospects in years. We didn’t get a long, drawn out battle, but everything felt high energy and had a sense of urgency to it. Jericho used the Walls of Jericho to good effect and got the audience to believe. Meanwhile, Owens managed to squeak through a firey babyface comeback before using heel chicanery and a small package to retain his title. Some may feel that the champion wasn’t dominant enough for their tastes, but I felt it fit perfectly with his character and the story of overcoming a motivated Jericho. The first noteworthy segment of the night.
Result: Kevin Owens via pinfall (small package)
I’m torn on this one. The trend definitely continued into this match, with the crowd buying everything that both teams were selling. As has been the story for the night so far, this didn’t get a ton of time. However, everybody was entertaining and the action was crisp. The Dudleyz were the hometown heroes for sure and the roof exploded off of the arena as it looked like they were going to capture their 10th WWE Tag Team Championships. This is where the wheels began to fall off for me though. The ending was identical to Night of Champions. I understand that this is a glorified house show. I also understand that WWE want to save the title change for a PPV. I have no problem with any of that. But if you want to keep things going without a proper resolution, at least avoid doing a carbon copy of the last match’s ending. To make matters worse, Xavier Woods even went through a table afterwards. Again, just like the last PPV. This could’ve stood out with more originality.
Result: The Dudley Boyz via DQ (Xavier Woods interference)
Rating: Above Average
I was somewhat surprised to see this match anywhere other than the main event. However, considering how this was essentially a high-octane squash for Brock Lesnar, it was probably the right choice. Some are probably tiring of this break-neck brawling style that Lesnar has perfected and I can understand that mindset to a degree. However, I believe it works so well because it’s different from the usual style. Big Show’s burst of offense helped to add a little spice to the proceedings, but everyone in the building knew who was going to emerge victorious and they were perfectly happy to go along with it. It served the purpose of building “The Beast” in preparation for his war with The Undertaker at Hell in a Cell, while being entertaining in the process. I’d call that a mission accomplished.
Result: Brock Lesnar via pinfall (F5)
Rating: Above Average
As the main event of the evening, this easily got the most time and it definitely benefited from this fact. Cena and Rollins have developed a very impressive chemistry in the last few months and I found this to be up there with their best efforts. While most of the matches tonight felt like fun sprints that were stunted from being anything truly memorable, the main event was given time to breathe and properly build to a crescendo. They worked in a lot of interesting near falls, without relying too heavily on the spamming of finishers. I will always prefer the countering of signature moves as opposed to kicking out from them as one suggests skill and strategy, while the other just makes the move look weak.
Some may be annoyed by the appearance of Kane. While I understand why, I also thought it was a minimally intrusive way of building Rollins’ next challenger without tarnishing the match in any major way. I don’t think Rollins was made to look weak, as he was only robbed of victory due to being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Plus, the visual of the attempted frogsplash was rather special. Overall, this was a very strong match that redeemed the show from being completely pedestrian.
Result: John Cena via pinfall (Attitude Adjustment)
Rating: Very Good
If I had a scale, this would be at the low end of “good”. This event was almost entirely carried by its main event, which in itself is actually a high recommendation. However, other than Lesnar’s rampage, not much of the undercard really stood out. Yes, Jericho/Owens was enjoyable and The Dudleyz got an impressive reaction, but those two matches were akin to something from a solid episode of RAW. If you’re short for time, watch the main event, Lesnar/Show and maybe the IC Championship match, With that said, there’s nothing offensive here, just forgettable.
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Stardust facepaint reminds me of Ax from Demolition. 🙂 I hope Cody will drop the Stardust gimmick soon and return to the Dashing Cody Rhodes gimmick.
There were also 2 dark matches before the show started. The first was Bo Dallas coming out and ripping on the NYC crowd and saying NY was a terrible city. Zack Ryder came out to a good pop, but not a huge pop like he got at Survivor Series 2011. It goes to show how badly WWE dropped the ball with him. Zack won with the rough ryder.
The second match saw Mark Henry come out first. Then some guy with short black and white trunks and blonde hair came out with no entrance music. I had no idea who it was until Eden announced him as Brad Maddox. Didn’t recognize him at all. He may have gotten 1 punch in, but that’s it. Henry won with the world’s strongest slam in less than 2 minutes.
If this show gets a DVD/BR release I don’t know if these matches will be included as extras since the Ryder-Dallas match didn’t even have the commentators out there. The commentators all came out to JBL’s music right before the Henry-Maddox match. So maybe that match will be included.
I thought it was a good show, not great. Was hoping Owens vs. Jericho would get a bit more time as it really started to pick up. Still worth checking out. Rollins vs. Cena always have great chemistry and this didn’t disappoint.
Really starting to like these exclusive Network specials.