Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Date: August 19, 2018
Location: Barclays Center, New York City, New York
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, Tom Phillips, Jonathan Coachman
This time for sure, Summerslam edition! Yes believe it or not the main event is once again Roman Reigns challenging Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title because that hasn’t gotten old this year. Other than that….as usual I can barely remember anything on these shows as they run together so much. Let’s get to it.
Oh and due to the recent WWE Network update, I get to watch the Kickoff Show on YouTube. Well done with that one people.
Kickoff Show: Andrade Cien Almas/Zelina Vega vs. Lana/Rusev
Rusev is on fire at this point and it’s a battle of the wrestling pairs. Andrade gets Rusev to chase him and it’s right into the double Tranquilo pose. Rusev and Lana shout at them but Andrade gets in a cheap shot to break up the chase. That’s fine with Rusev, who stomps him down in the corner until Zelina offers a distraction. Andrade posts him like a good rudo, setting up the armbreaker over the ropes. An armbar takes us to a break and we come back with Vega pulling Lana off the apron to prevent the tag.
The reverse tornado DDT gives Andrade two and the armbar goes on again. Another reverse tornado DDT is countered with a forearm (keeping it simple can work) though and it’s the hot tag to Lana. A bulldog lets Lana dance up and the neckbreaker gets two. Vega sends her face first into the buckle but Lana breaks up the running knees with a kick to the head. Andrade makes sure the Accolade doesn’t go on with a well timed distraction though and Vega grabs a rollup with her feet…..as close to the ropes as she can get them for the pin at 7:02. That was pretty adorable with Vega trying to get there and not reaching.
Rating: D+. What happened with Rusev and Lana? I know I ask that a lot but egads man. They’re married in real life, Rusev has more charisma than he knows what to do with and Lana is the walking definition of a blonde bombshell who can talk. A year later they’ve basically disappeared and I would love to know why. At least Andrade is getting a push, and with as much talent as he has, there is no reason for him not to. The fans are properly fired up now so well done on the job, even if the match wasn’t great.
Kickoff Show: Cruiserweight Title: Drew Gulak vs. Cedric Alexander
Cedric is defending in the first of NINE title matches because WWE has too many times and doesn’t get why that is such a problem. Gulak’s friends Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher are barred from ringside. Feeling out process to start with Cedric taking him into the corner but having his headscissors blocked. The Gulock is broken up in a hurry and Cedric hits a dropkick to take things outside.
Gulak gets in a big boot on the way back inside and Cedric has banged up his neck. The neck crank goes on and we take a break. Back with Gulak’s continued logical offense, including some clotheslines and a chinlock. Gulak throws him over his back and pulls on the neck some more (close to a Gory Special) but since that can’t last long, Cedric is right back with a springboard Downward Spiral. With the wrestling not working, it’s time to hammer away at the head before sending him outside.
The big running flip dive hits Gulak again but he’s fine enough to break up a springboard. The Gulak over the ropes is half and half on the logical offense theme but the regular version can’t go on. A hard elbow to the head rocks Gulak, who comes right back with the biggest right hand I’ve ever seen him throw. The Neuralizer is countered into the ankle lock but Cedric rolls into a cradle for two. Cedric’s Spanish Fly is countered into a rollup for two, which is reversed into a stacked up rollup to give Cedric the pin at 10:43.
Rating: B-. This was the well done match that I was expecting, with Gulak going after the obvious target but not being able to finish off the more well rounded Alexander. Cedric was kind of a dull character but he is more than good enough to have a fast paced match like this. Gulak winning the title here would have been a good moment, but Cedric was hardly a bad choice for champion.
Kickoff Show: Raw Tag Team Titles: B-Team vs. Revival
The B-Team is defending because WWE would rather laugh than go with a team they have invested so much in already. At least we get the B-TEAM B-TEAM GO GO GO entrance. Dallas headlocks Dawson down over but everything breaks down in a hurry with a shot to Dallas’ leg. The Shatter Machine hits the illegal Axel and a missile dropkick/spinebuster (Hart Attack variation) gets three straight twos on Dallas. More leg cranking takes us to a break and we come back with more leg cranking.
Dawson puts on a spinning toehold but gets kicked shoulder first into the post. Since Axel is still down (well done on making the Shatter Machine look awesome) though, it’s a backbreaker/middle rope knee for two more. Dallas grabs a hanging swinging neckbreaker on Wilder and now it’s back to Axel off the hot tag. Everything breaks down with the PerfectPlex being countered into a small package. Dallas shoves Wilder into the pile though and Axel winds up on top to retain at 6:12.
Rating: D+. This was the “let’s add a Raw match to the Kickoff Show because it’s for a title and people will care” theme and, as usual, it didn’t work very well. We’re three matches in and now the four hour Summerslam gets to start. It’s just one more thing added to the card that was completely forgettable and took a little bit more out of the fans. How does this make the night better?
Terry Crews is outside the Barclays Center and talks about the measure of success. You can feel the heartbeat in your chest to drive you and then you grind to find the moments that define success for you. Tonight, this is where dreams come true because all the world’s a stage. So what defines success and greatness and how bad do you want it? Go ahead and take a bow because we’ll let you take a bow because you’re about to bear witness to another great Summerslam. The things he was saying only kind of made sense, but sweet goodness that man can get you fired up for a show.
The CGI Empire State Building is over the ring again. You can’t see it live in the arena of course and that will mess you up when you see it on a monitor and not before your eyes.
Intercontinental Title: Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler
Rollins is challenging with the freshly returned Dean Ambrose in his corner (because having him show up on Raw was far smarter than having him show up at Summerslam) to counter Drew McIntyre (because DOLPH ZIGGLER was the bigger prospect in 2018…..and kind of was in 2019 as well). As a bonus, Rollins is in Thanos inspired gear while Ziggler has a picture of the title over the front of his tights.
They go with the grappling to start with Rollins being backed up to the ropes, meaning it’s time for Ambrose to stare at McIntyre. The early superkick misses Rollins and Ziggler bails to the floor. That means a double staredown until Rollins throws him back in for some chops. Ziggler kicks at the leg to take over and we get a Flair Flip of all things. The chinlock goes on with Ziggler kicking the knee to keep Rollins down in a smart move.
Rollins’ comeback doesn’t last long as Ziggler backdrops him to the floor. Back in and Ziggler’s high crossbody is pulled out of the air but they crash to the floor again off of a suplex attempt (that’s always a scary looking spot). Back in again and Rollins gets two off a middle rope Blockbuster but Ziggler crotches him on top. Another superplex attempt is broken up and Rollins sends him outside for a suicide dive.
Rollins’ windup knee gets two but the buckle bomb is countered into a quickly broken sleeper. They fight to the apron with Ziggler kicking him into the post and nailing the DDT onto the apron for what should be a huge knockout. Since it’s this kind of a match though, it’s only good for two. Rollins hits him in the face again and gets his own two off the great looking frog splash.
Ziggler goes up top but Ziggler catches him with a reverse superplex into a reverse Falcon Arrow for a nice twist on the usual sequence. The fans give it a standing ovation so they seem to have some good taste. Hold on though as McIntyre sends Ambrose into the steps with the distraction letting Ziggler hit the Zig Zag for two. I blame the kickout on Cole declaring it over, which is the magical cure for a finisher. Rollins is busted open as he reverses a rollup into the buckle bomb. Dean gets back up and takes care of an interfering McIntyre, leaving Rollins to him the Stomp to get the title back at 22:02.
Rating: B. You don’t expect the opener to get this kind of time. The match was entertaining though it wasn’t quite the instant classic they were going for. It felt like the match was more of a collection of spots than a match that built on itself to get somewhere. That’s a great way to get an entertaining match and for what they were going for, I can certainly live with something like this. Maybe not the highest quality but very entertaining, which more or less defines Rollins.
Rollins and Ambrose celebrate a lot.
The Bellas are here to support their bestest friend ever Ronda Rousey, and to plug all their stuff of course. They might even get back in the ring at Evolution.
Smackdown Tag Team Titles: New Day vs. Bludgeon Brothers
Big E. and Xavier Woods are challenging and it’s almost weird to see Kofi around a Tag Team Title match these days. Rowan wastes no time by spin kicking Woods in the face to start. Harper hits a big boot of his own and it’s off to the Gator Roll into the chinlock. A running splash from Rowan sets up the head vice as it’s total dominance to start. Big E. gets knocked off the apron and Woods is sent outside to join him, but Rowan can’t powerbomb Woods onto the steps.
A hurricanrana sends Harper into the steps and the hot tag brings in Big E. Belly to belly suplexes on the floor abound (with Harper landing on his head and thankfully not breaking something), followed by the Warrior Splash to Harper inside. Harper is right back with a Michinoku Driver but Big E. sends Rowan into the post. Woods hits a dive onto Rowan and Big E. spears Harper through the ropes.
Rowan is back up with his own dive off the apron to Big E. and things finally settle down a notch. Woods can’t complete a springboard tornado DDT as Harper reverses into a powerbomb for two, meaning it’s time for Kofi to play cheerleader. Apparently not a fan of cheerleading, Rowan plants Kofi but walks into the Big Ending.
Big E. Rock Bottoms Harper off the apron into what was supposed to be a backstabber from Woods, though it was more like Harper just landed on Woods’ legs. Eh can’t hit them all. Woods makes up for it by dropping the big elbow off the top to the floor and Harper is actually in trouble. UpUpDownDown is loaded up but Rowan hits Woods with the hammer for the DQ at 9:27.
Rating: B-. They didn’t play around here and went with the all action match, which was the right call here. Let them do whatever they wanted and have an entertaining match as a result. New Day was throwing everything they could against the unstoppable monsters and came close to getting a win. That’s the kind of hope spot you need over a team like the Brothers as you have to have a reason to believe something could happen in the future. That being said, it didn’t mean anything in the end as Rowan tore his bicep and New Day would win the titles in two days.
Post match the Brothers destroy New Day with the hammer.
Jon Stewart is here.
We recap Kevin Owens vs. Braun Strowman. Owens said he was on a role and tried to get Strowman’s help to win Money in the Bank. Strowman didn’t like it when Owens inevitably turned on him and threw him through a bunch of tables before winning the briefcase. The Strowman destroyed Owens’ car and put him in a portable toilet, which he knocked off the stage. Owens “beat” Strowman in a cage match when Strowman threw him off a cage so now it’s a rematch for the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Money In The Bank Briefcase: Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
Strowman is defending and can lose the briefcase by losing in any way. An early pair of running splashes in the corner sends Owens outside and Strowman runs him over again. Owens’ superkick just makes Strowman angrier and it’s a chokeslam onto the ramp. The running powerslam finishes Owens at 1:55. Well that worked and makes Strowman look like the monster, but HAHA if you actually thought they would put the title on him.
Clip of a Be A Star rally.
We recap the Smackdown Women’s Title match. Carmella cashed in Money in the Bank at the Smackdown after Wrestlemania and has been put over one name after another, though she is still seen as in over her head. Becky Lynch has been trying to get back to the top and is getting the shot here. Then Charlotte saved Becky from a beatdown and got a match where she could be added to the match if she won. Since it’s Charlotte, OF COURSE she was added in, which Becky saw as someone else trying to steal her chance. Charlotte did get in a good line with Carmella “is a Diva living in a woman’s world.”
Smackdown Women’s Title: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Carmella
Carmella is defending and we get the Big Match Intros, with the hometown champ not being well received. As I continue to not understand why the title belt is shown inside what looks like the Elimination Chamber during the graphic, the bell rings and Carmella starts running her mouth. Charlotte gets sent outside so Becky can hit a running legdrop but the second misses.
Carmella isn’t happy with Charlotte breaking up the cover but it’s time to get crafty. She slaps Becky in the head and blames Charlotte, who says she’s innocent as they knock Carmella to the floor. Becky and Charlotte trade rollups and it’s a standoff for some applause. An armbar puts Charlotte down for all of two seconds but Carmella is back in because she can’t just go away.
Becky gets sent into the steps so Carmella can shout and dance a lot. Charlotte is whipped down as well and Carmella takes Becky inside for, you know it, more shouting. She does even things out a bit with a chinlock until Charlotte comes back in, only to be taken down by the hair. Now it’s Charlotte getting chinlocked as we see the wide range of Carmella’s offense. Becky makes her own save, gets dropkicked down, and Carmella shouts about being champion again. How can she be repeating stuff that many times less than six minutes into a match?
Carmella mocks Becky’s pose and ducks a shot from Charlotte, which hits Becky instead. Some fall away slams drop Carmella and Charlotte nips up but Becky knees her in the face. A double missile dropkick puts Carmella and Charlotte down again with Charlotte being sent outside. Becky gets caught on top for a hurricanrana to give Carmella two, leaving herself open to Charlotte’s spear.
Since we can’t go that long with Carmella being on defense, she knocks Charlotte into the corner and shouts that no one cares about her anymore. Another hurricanrana out of the corner is countered into a Boston crab (with Charlotte driving her down from the corner almost like a Styles Clash) before switching to the Figure Four. That’s broken up with Becky’s top rope legdrop and they’re all down.
Becky gets up first and hammers on Carmella, who of course knocks her outside because SHE IS THE CHAMP. A rather hard suicide dive hits Becky but it’s Charlotte coming off the top with the moonsault, which goes right between them and barely makes contact, as usual. Back in and Carmella breaks up the Disarm-Her so Becky gets two off a Rock Bottom, with Carmella making ANOTHER save.
Carmella gets two off a superkick with Charlotte making the very last second save. Charlotte gets sent outside so it’s another superkick to Becky, who shrugs it off without much trouble. The Disarm-Her goes on but Charlotte dives in with Natural Selection for the pin on Becky at 14:42.
Rating: C+. The action was good but the important thing here is that Carmella can go off to do ANYTHING but be in the title picture. Her reign showed the entire problem with using Money in the Bank as a quick rise to the top: Carmella was never viewed as a serious wrestler but she won a ladder match and stole the title so now she can hang with Charlotte and Becky? It never worked and this match exposed how limited she was in the ring, with all the shouting and superkicks getting old in a hurry. She is perfectly fine as the cheerleader type character and it fits her SO much better, as time has proven.
The match itself was pretty good with a lot of saves and back and forth action, but I kept wanting Carmella to fall in a hole somewhere so the other two could have a better match. The fans wanted to see Becky and having Charlotte get the title back wasn’t the most thrilling result. Becky’s frustrations are proven right again and things could get interesting as a result.
Post match Becky hugs Charlotte but completely snaps, beating the fire out of her and throwing Charlotte over the announcers’ table to one of the biggest face reactions in forever. WWE actually tried to treat this as a heel turn for a bit before realizing that it just wasn’t working and strapped a rocket to Becky’s back, leading all the way to the main event of Wrestlemania and the biggest push in women’s history.
We recap AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe. AJ has been champion for about nine months and has beaten a bunch of challengers so he issued an open challenge for Summerslam. Joe choked AJ out and signed the contract before starting his real attack. He called out AJ for neglecting his family but promised to send AJ home by ending the title reign. Then he read a letter from AJ’s wife, saying that everything Joe said was true and how much she wanted Joe to win.
Smackdown World Title: AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe
Joe is challenging and the fans certainly seem to like him, though AJ isn’t exactly being booed. AJ’s wife and daughter are in the crowd so Joe breaks up the Big Match Intros and says hi to both of them, promising to send daddy home tonight. An early Koquina Clutch attempt doesn’t work and it’s a TNA chant for a little flashback. Joe gets in a cheap shot in the corner and then bails to the ropes as the mind games continue.
AJ takes him down with a headlock as they’re starting slowly (which is ok). Back up and a big shoulder sends AJ into the ropes as Graves explains the psychology in a rare bit of usefulness. They trade kicks to the leg so things can start picking up a bit. In what shouldn’t be a surprise, Joe wins the battle of the strikes at first but AJ keeps going with chops against the ropes.
The drop down into the dropkick has Joe in trouble and AJ knocks him outside. Since AJ isn’t that bright, he gets his leg kicked out to send him face first into the apron. Joe hits the big suicide elbow to send AJ into the announcers’ table, with Graves saying it’s like a flying school bus. Can someone explain to Graves that the Magic School Bus is fiction? Back in and a clothesline gives Joe two and the chinlock goes on.
That goes nowhere so AJ fights up and sends Joe outside for the slingshot forearm. Back in and the middle rope moonsault into the reverse DDT gets two but Joe is right back up with a middle rope leg lariat. A big boot into the backsplash is good for two more as Joe keeps using the power advantage. AJ’s fireman’s carry gutbuster hurts his own knee so Joe is right back with the snap powerslam (great one too).
AJ is right back up and manages the Styles Clash for two and the fans bought the near fall. The Rock Bottom out of the corner gives Joe a breather but AJ is right back with the Calf Crusher (remember the leg kicks earlier). You don’t put holds on Joe though and he slams AJ’s head into the mat for the break, quickly followed by the Koquina Clutch. A foot on the rope breaks things up so Joe takes it outside….and talks to AJ’s wife, saying AJ won’t be coming home but he’ll be her new daddy. You know it’s on now as AJ tackles Joe over the barricade and hits him with a chair for the DQ at 22:45.
Rating: B. This is one where the DQ finish makes sense to keep the story going, though I’m not sure why Joe, who has been very calculating this whole time, would do something like that when he was in control. It came off more like he was admitting he couldn’t beat AJ tonight and that’s not Joe’s style. What we did get was a solid back and forth match with AJ fighting his heart out and Joe using the power and size advantage to dominate the emotional champ. I’m certainly down for a rematch and that’s where this is obviously going.
Post match AJ beats the fire out of Joe with the chair, drawing a WHO’S YOUR DADDY chant. With Joe gone, AJ checks on his wife and daughter, the latter of whom says he’s bleeding. AJ: “I’m sorry.”
Here’s Elias for a song. Believe it or not, he was a child once but then he grew up and wrote a great album. That album included a song called Elias’ Words and knowing that the entire world loves you is an incredible feeling. Tonight we’re getting a new song and it might be his greatest yet. This song is dedicated to all of the New Yorkers out there tonight, because all of the dirt in their ears and mind and the harsh reality of living in this city is all about to be washed away. And then his guitar breaks. Well so much for that.
Miz runs into the B-Team backstage (why they’re still in their gear two hours after their match isn’t clear) but he doesn’t need their luck. Tonight he’s proving that he’s better than Daniel Bryan, but if they want to fetch the limo for the post match celebration, he’s good with that. They’re leaving actually because they have their own celebrating to do. They’re not the Miztourage anymore because they’re the B-Team. The B stands for Daniel Bryan and offer him a spot on their new reality show: “Total Fellas, but with a B, so Total Bellas!” Miz looks confused.
We recap the Miz vs. Daniel Bryan, which is eight years in the making. Miz was Bryan’s NXT Pro back in the day despite Bryan being much more experienced. Bryan broke away from Miz and turned into a star but never could shake the Miz, who thought Bryan was a huge fluke. Then Bryan got hurt and had to leave for years, with Miz taunting him after he walked away and retired. Miz called him out for being a coward and started using Bryan’s offense for years.
This included Miz’s incredible Talking Smack promo where Bryan called Miz a coward, sending Miz into an all time rant about how Bryan was the coward for not getting back in the ring while Miz was here every day. Then one day Bryan was medically cleared and everyone saw this match coming. Now it’s on the big stage as everyone is ready to see Bryan kick Miz’s head off. The theme is passion vs. fame and completely different ideologies about wrestling. It’s a natural rivalry and this match has more than earned a spot on this kind of a major show.
Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
Miz’s wife and daughter are in the front row (who knew AJ was so influential). Bryan has talked for months about wanting to punch Miz in the face so he immediately balls up his fist, sending Miz into the ropes. Miz gets in the first few shots and fires off the kicks in the corner but the running dropkick is caught by the throat. Bryan gets to punch him in the face to a BIG reaction and now it’s Miz getting kicked in the corner for his efforts.
Another kick to the chest gets two but Miz takes him down for a surfboard. It turns out that Bryan knows how to escape that pretty easily and puts Miz in it to even things up. More YES Kicks (Graves: “Paying homage to the Miz.” Tom: “I swear to God.”) connect but Miz is right back with a hard clothesline to drop Bryan again. A cravate lets Miz hit some knees to the head and Bryan is back down.
The Reality Check gets two but Miz takes too long loading up the kicks, allowing Bryan to hit the moonsault out of the corner into the running clothesline. A hurricanrana out of the corner gets two and Miz is sent outside, meaning it’s the running dropkick through the ropes. The big dive to the floor drops Miz again and Bryan gets smart by tying him in the Tree of Woe for the kicks to the chest. The belly to back superplex gets two as it keeps getting worse for Miz.
Bryan misses the big YES Kick though and Miz hits a DDT for a breather. Miz’s YES Kicks just wake Bryan up so he catches a kick and hits Miz in the face (as promised). It’s too early for the running knee as Miz counters into a failed Figure Four attempt. The Skull Crushing Finale doesn’t fail though and gives Miz his next close two. With his chest looking very banged up, Miz’s running knee is countered with another kick to the head for two and they’re both dazed.
As tends to be the case at this point in a match, they had to the apron, where Bryan’s kick hits the post to give Miz a big target. He’s smart enough to go straight to the Figure Four but Bryan eventually turns it over to reverse the pressure. Miz isn’t smart enough to just unhook his leg so it’s a long crawl to the rope for the break. Bryan is right back on him by tying up Miz’s arm for the elbows to the face and then the YES Lock.
With Miz getting close to the rope, Bryan punches him in the back of the head for some good measure. Miz gets a boot on the rope and rolls to the floor, where Bryan hits the running knee from the apron. As luck would have it though, he winds up next to Maryse, who slips him something made of metal. Bryan tries a suicide dive but gets knocked cold with a shot to the head, allowing Miz to get the pin at 23:45.
Rating: B. It wasn’t the big, epic match they were shooting for but what we got was something that got pretty close to living up to the hype. The problem is it’s nearly impossible to live up to a reality that fans had in their heads after so long, but they did very well anyway. Miz being cocky the whole time but not being able to survive against the more naturally talented Bryan made perfect sense. The cheating leaves them wide open for a rematch and since Miz’s wife got involved, Bryan’s should as well, right?
Super ShowDown is coming, including HHH vs. Undertaker for the last time ever.
Video on Undertaker vs. HHH, which is quite the story.
Baron Corbin vs. Finn Balor
Corbin has been a jerk to Balor so it’s Demon time, thankfully in a complete surprise so we didn’t have to hear THE DEMON IS FINN BALOR’S ALTER EGO for a month. The entrance shakes Corbin, possible because he’s realized that he’s Baron Corbin. Balor dropkicks him to the floor at the bell and hits the Sling Blade. The running flip dive hits Corbin and Balor sends him into the barricade. As Coach tries to figure out why Balor doesn’t use the Demon more often, it’s a top rope double stomp to Corbin’s back and the Coup de Grace finishes at 1:22. Exactly what it should have been, assuming you absolutely have to have Corbin employed.
Brie Bella checks on Bryan and they’re not happy with Miz and Maryse. Bryan says his comeback has been a bust but Brie calms him down.
United States Title: Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura is defending and this is your “it just sounds cool” match of the show, as well as a rematch after Nakamura won the title in six seconds after a low blow last month. Jeff has been dealing with Randy Orton as of late as well so you can probably pencil in the interference. There’s no major contact for the first minute or so, meaning we need a COME ON from Nakamura. Hardy charges into a knee but stops to dance like Nakamura, which doesn’t sit well with the champ. Neither does Hardy doing COME ON as things actually get going.
Nakamura knees him in the face and grabs an arm trap chinlock, which is broken with a rather quick jawbreaker. Some more kicks have Hardy right back in trouble and we hit another chinlock. Jeff fights up again and hits something close to a Sling Blade to put them both down again. Another kick drops Hardy again though as he can’t seem to figure out that he needs to avoid the feet. He finally gets the idea as a running knee hits the buckle, allowing Hardy to nail the Whisper in the Wind for two.
Since that isn’t the most high impact move, Nakamura is right back with the hard knees but the low blow misses. Jeff dropkicks him down to set up the Swanton for a delayed two. With Nakamura rolling to the apron, Hardy tries another Swanton but crashes back first onto the apron for his efforts. Kinshasa retains the title at 10:57.
Rating: D+. The chinlocks hurt this one a lot and you could feel the energy going out of the crowd. This was around the time that Nakamura was putting it in coast mode and there wasn’t much that could draw him out. His charisma is more than enough to carry him, but it would be nice to see some effort into his matches. Jeff continues to drift around, which is pretty much all he does as a singles guy these days.
Post match Orton comes out but instead of going after Jeff, he just hits himself in the head and leaves without doing anything else. He can be an odd guy.
We recap Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss. Rousey had the Raw Women’s Title won at Money in the Bank but Bliss cashed in her briefcase to steal the title from Nia Jax. Bliss has been WAY too confident coming into this so Rousey has been suspended several times, yet still getting her title match here. Tonight Rousey is going to destroy Bliss and get the title for the first time.
Raw Women’s Title: Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss
Ronda is challenging and has Natalya, whose dad Jim Neidhart died a few weeks back (meaning she has her dad’s Summerslam 1990 jacket on for a great touch). Oh and the Bellas are here too because they’re stars. Bliss hides in the ropes a few times to start as she is trying to delay the inevitable for as long as she can. A cheap shot is blocked by a single right hand to send Bliss outside.
Back in and Bliss bails a second time so Rousey turns her back and sits down to let Bliss get in safely. Bliss comes in and tries a chinlock, not realizing that it leaves her arm exposed. Rousey picks her up for the yet to be named Piper’s Pit and Bliss is on the floor again. The chase lets Bliss get in a few shots….and there’s the stare. Rousey unloads in the corner and hits the judo throws (while talking trash), setting up the armbar (with Bliss popping the arm out of joint as only she can) for the easy tap and the title at 4:38.
Rating: C+. This is one where the presentation was all that mattered. Rousey was never in any danger and the match was a complete squash, which was the right call. There was no reason to pretend that Bliss could be a threat to her and they didn’t waste their time on anything stupid. Rousey is the biggest star in the division and one of the biggest in the company, so making her champion was the obvious move, especially since she’s here full time.
Post match Rousey hugs Natalya and the Bellas. Guess which two are booed. Her husband gets a big kiss as well. Rousey’s husband that is, in case it’s not clear.
We recap the Raw World Title match. Roman Reigns has been chasing the title and the win against Brock Lesnar for the better part of forever, having lost at Wrestlemania XXXI, Wrestlemania XXXIV and Greatest Royal Rumble. Now we’re doing it again because these two are joined at the hip in an eternal chase. This time around they’re presenting it as Reigns is here and Lesnar isn’t, even though the fans don’t seem to think much of Reigns so his attendance doesn’t make much difference. They teased Heyman jumping to Reigns but it was dropped in all of ten seconds so Lesnar could beat Reigns up again.
Raw World Title: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
Reigns’ CGI entrance is a big dog head over the Shield logo, which is rather terrifying when you don’t know it’s coming. Lesnar is defending and Paul Heyman handles his Big Match Intro. Hold on though as Strowman comes out to say he’s going to be cashing in on whomever wins. Reigns hits three Superman Punches and two spears in the first thirty seconds but the third is countered into a guillotine choke.
That’s broken up with a spinebuster and we’re just over a minute in. Brock grabs it again so Reigns uses the same counter. For once it makes sense to have them laying down this early as they’ve beaten each other up quite a bit so far. Brock takes the gloves off and counters another Superman Punch into the rolling German suplexes. The fans say the two of them suck and Reigns escapes the F5.
A missed charge sends Reigns through the ropes and into Strowman, who Lesnar plants with an F5 on the floor. Reigns is thrown back in and Strowman grabs Lesnar’s leg. That earns him a beating with the briefcase, which Lesnar throws up to the stage (egads that’s not normal). Lesnar unloads with a chair, walks back inside and gets speared to give Reigns the title at 6:09.
Rating: D. NOW NEVER FIGHT AGAIN! This feud went on forever and their matches were the same finisher fests over and over again. Strowman could have been anything from the Monster to a stray puppy as he only served as a distraction to cost Lesnar the title. Reigns winning here doesn’t feel like some major moment, though it’s nice to have Lesnar FINALLY lose the title. They should have done this at Wrestlemania at the latest though and by the time they got here, no one cared and there was no reason for them to. At least it was shorter this time around so there is one minor positive. Just get on to any other feud, please.
Reigns poses as Strowman is still down to end the show.
Overall Rating: A-. I had forgotten how good this show was as WWE managed to cut out a bunch of the nonsense and just roll with the awesome matches that have been well built up. It’s so frustrating to see what they’re capable of doing when they actually try because they don’t put in the effort so much of the time. This was an awesome show with nothing very bad (Reigns vs. Lesnar is more the result of everything that came before it between the two of them) and three or four matches that got time and lived up to it. Check this one out if you have the time, but completely skip the Kickoff Show.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!