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, starting today. 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: October 6, 2018
Location: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia
Commentators: Michael Cole, Renee Young, Corey Graves
We’re at the latest big international show here and that means…well it’s hard to say actually. There’s a lot going on at the moment in WWE but they have a tendency to turn these shows into a glorified house show with almost nothing happening. Hopefully WWE has figured that out and knows that we need to actually get something important on the show. Let’s get to it.
The opening video is exactly what you would expect: a look at the big matches, mainly focusing on Undertaker vs. HHH.
The stadium looks great with a ton of people and no major gaps. We also get pyro, so you know this one is important.
Smackdown Tag Team Titles: New Day vs. The Bar
Bar is challenging after just being announced as #1 contenders. Big E. is the odd man out here as Kofi elbows Cesaro in the jaw for two and Woods comes in for a sliding clothesline. The top rope elbow gets two and everything breaks down with Kofi diving over the top onto both of them…and getting caught for a ram into the post. Woods gets rammed as well and the champs are in some trouble.
Cesaro cranks on Kofi’s leg for a few moments before it’s off to Sheamus for the ten forearms. That means a neck crank and a double backbreaker for two, followed by more shots to the back. Kofi finally kicks Cesaro away and runs over for the hot tag to Woods. A running Downward Spiral drops Sheamus for two but it’s an Irish Curse to cut him off.
Cesaro tags himself back in so Sheamus throws Woods at him for the uppercut. The Swing into the Sharpshooter draws Kofi back in for the save off a kick to the chest but falls outside with Sheamus. Woods kicks Cesaro in the chest though and it’s a Backstabber into a top rope double stomp (ala the Lucha Bros) to retain the titles at 9:40.
Rating: B-. Perfectly fine opening match here as New Day is one of the best choices to get a show started. They’re fun, they’re fast paced and they’re entertaining but more importantly they didn’t overstay their welcome here. The problem is I’m not sure who can take the titles from New Day, as there aren’t exactly many teams to challenge them. Are there even three other teams on Smackdown at the moment?
We recap Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch. Lynch was tired of not getting her title shot and Charlotte “stole” her title at Summerslam, sending Lynch over the edge. Becky won the title at Hell in a Cell and has become one of the hottest things on the roster as she’s channeled the rebel character.
Smackdown Women’s Title: Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch
Lynch is defending and we get Big Match Intros. Feeling out process to start with Charlotte being a bit tentative to go after her. That’s not the best idea in the world as Charlotte takes her into the corner and sends her post. Lynch pulls her down to the floor for a crash and two back inside, followed by some aggressive kicks in the corner. A Fujiwara armbar allows Becky to rip at Charlotte’s fingers until a heck of a belly to back suplex gets her out of trouble.
Charlotte chops away and stomps on the leg in the corner but Becky sends her face first into the buckle. That just earns her a big boot for two and Charlotte seems surprised by the kickout. We’re seven minutes into the match. Why is that surprising? The spear gets two more and again, Charlotte can’t believe it.
The moonsault misses because of course it does and Becky enziguris her down. Charlotte avoids a top rope legdrop though and goes for a Boston crab of all things. Becky makes the rope and tries to walk with the title so Charlotte throws her back inside for a second spear. The Figure Eight goes on but Becky hits her with the title for the DQ at 10:35.
Rating: C+. That’s fine as there was no way they were going to change the title here and it’s fine to have Charlotte be this close and then get cheated out of the title. Lynch is still on fire and one of the most popular members of the roster so everything is fine there. Rather nice match too, as you would expect from these two.
Post match Charlotte stays on her but gets suplexed into the barricade.
Here are Elias and Kevin Owens for a song. The fans seem to approve of Elias’ guitar playing (fair enough) and Elias knows they get what WWE stands for. Owens doesn’t like Australia though and thinks the show should have been in Canada. Elias name drops someone from Australia and then insults the local sports team because he knows how to annoy a crowd. That’s about it though as it’s time for an interruption.
Elias/Kevin Owens vs. John Cena/Bobby Lashley
Cena is looking FAR leaner and has grown his hair out longer than it’s been in the last fifteen years or so. Lashley and Owens start things off but it’s off to Elias without any contact. The guitar arm gets cranked and Lashley sends him face first into the buckle, only to charge into a boot in the corner. A powerslam sends Elias into the corner for the tag as Cole brings up Owens quitting a few weeks back. I didn’t know that was still in continuity.
Lashley rains down right hands in the corner so Elias comes in at the same time. That goes badly as well as Cole is wondering why the referee is allowing all of this. Fair question, even as Elias knocks Cena off the apron. Lashley gets stomped in the corner and Owens adds some shoulders for good measure. The chinlock goes on as the announcers go into a discussion of Cena’s ring rust.
Elias drives Lashley back into the corner and low bridges him to the floor for the big crash. Back in and Owens’ frog splash gets two, followed by the front facelock which is guaranteed to fail. Lashley throws him off and makes the hot tag to Cena as house is cleaned in a hurry. Cena hits the usual on Elias, including the AA, but adds the Sixth Move Of Doom (as Cole puts it), the back of the left hand to the face, for the pin at 10:01. Cena was in for maybe a minute.
Rating: C-. This was the house show match you would have expected and I could picture the finish before the bell even rang. Cena is far from a regular performer anymore so having him around for appearances like this is all you can ask for. The ending is fun and if Cena is just having a good time out there anymore, good for him.
Post match Cena says thank you and isn’t sure what the future holds. WWE will always be his home though and he’s focusing on the now. This felt like a retirement speech, though Cena has said things like this before.
Iiconics vs. Asuka/Naomi
Before the match the Iiconics are very proud to be home. It’s so strange to hear them as full on faces. Peyton and Naomi start things off with Naomi dancing a bit until it’s off to Billie. Asuka comes in as well so the Iiconics try some double teaming, only to have Naomi come in for a staredown. The Iiconics strike a superhero pose…and are immediately dropkicked to the floor as this is starting to get messy early on.
Back in and a cheap shot puts Asuka down for two as Peyton hammers away. Billie pulls on an armbar but a kick to the ribs is countered into a German suplex. The double tags brings in Naomi and Peyton to very little reaction as Naomi cleans house. Asuka’s missile dropkick to the shoulder puts Billie down for two but she breaks up Naomi’s springboard legdrop. Asuka is sent into the barricade and a knee to the head finishes Naomi at 5:43.
Rating: D+. Well duh. Was this one ever in any real doubt? Well of course it was because it’s WWE but they got the ending right here as the Iiconics finally win something and get to soak in some cheers. The match itself was as nothing as you would expect, but that’s not the point in something like this.
Post match the Iiconics pose and it’s a rather nice moment.
We recap the Smackdown World Title match. Samoa Joe went after AJ Styles to get the title but turned it personal by talking about Styles’ family. Joe couldn’t quite win the title so he got even more aggressive, to the point where AJ tapped in a match but the referee didn’t see it. To really cap things off, Joe went to AJ’s house to stalk his family, sending AJ completely over the edge.
Smackdown World Title: AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe
AJ is defending and anything goes, meaning there must be a winner. The fight starts in the aisle until they get inside for the opening bell. Joe hammers away but AJ sends him outside and into the table to take over. Back in and AJ kicks him in the chest, only to be taken down with one of the loudest and hardest chops in recent memory. A big boot puts AJ on the floor and the suicide elbow sends him into the barricade.
Back in and the slow beating continues with Joe slapping on a nerve hold. AJ’s comeback is cut off with a running elbow and it’s back to the hold again. Joe runs him over again and a catapult sends AJ throat first into the bottom rope. AJ fights up again and kicks Joe down, followed by the middle rope moonsault into the reverse DDT (one of the best I’ve seen him do) for his own near fall but Joe blasts him again.
The snap powerslam gives Joe two and something like Emerald Flowsion gets the same. Joe grabs a chair but AJ dropkicks it into his face, followed by some chair shots to Joe’s back. The chair is used as a launchpad but Joe catches him in a Rock Bottom through the chair to cut AJ off in a hurry. It’s time for a table as the seeds are planted for a TLC match between these two in December. Joe chairs him down but a superplex through the table is countered into an electric chair to bang Joe up even more.
Joe grabs his knee and says it popped so AJ stomps at the knee like a good crazed champion. The Calf Crusher is countered into the Koquina Clutch but AJ pulls himself under the ropes for the break. Joe’s throat is snapped across the top rope and it’s a springboard 450 onto the knee to keep Joe in major trouble.
They head outside with AJ hitting a Phenomenal Forearm off the barricade but AJ can barely throw him back in. The second Forearm is countered into the Clutch, followed by a heck of a suplex for two on the champ. The MuscleBuster is countered into a rollup which is countered into the Clutch but AJ rolls out of it again. AJ gets the Calf Crusher and Joe taps at 23:45.
Rating: B+. So what in the world is left for Joe Nakamura now? AJ has beaten him at every turn and there’s no reason for this feud to keep going. My guess is this moves on to either Daniel Bryan or Miz as the next challenger, as there’s not much left for Joe to do. He’s been pinned and tapped out, so it’s time to move on to someone fresh. That’s quite the shame, though AJ is only a month away from a full year as champion.
Bella Twins/Ronda Rousey vs. Riott Squad
Nikki and Ronda have some issues over who is going to start so Ruby jumps Nikki from behind to take over. Nikki shoulders her down and gets two off a spinebuster as Rousey really wants in. It’s Brie coming in instead so Ruby Downward Spirals her for two. Liv comes in to a nice reaction and an enziguri gets two of her own. The blue tongue comes out so Brie grabs it (uh….)and hits a dropkick.
The Brie Mode knee connects for two and it’s back to Nikki for a double suplex. Logan comes in instead and a running knee to the face drops Nikki. The Squad starts taking turns on Nikki until she sends Liv into the corner for a breather. That’s not enough for the hot tag though as Ruby comes back in and drops Nikki on the back of her head for two. Logan’s chinlock doesn’t last long as Nikki fights up, only to have Logan knock both partners off the apron.
Not that it matters as Nikki takes her down and dives over for the hot tag off to Rousey. Judo throws and right hands abound, followed by the spinning Samoan drop. Everything breaks down and Liv breaks up the armbar. Rousey isn’t having it though and armbars both Morgan and Logan at the same time for the double tap at 9:59.
Rating: D+. Pretty standard formula here and that’s perfectly fine. They were teasing the issues between Rousey and Nikki, which still isn’t the best match in the world but I’ll take them having a fight instead of being treated as equals in some dream match. That double armbar was cool if nothing else.
Cruiserweight Title: Cedric Alexander vs. Buddy Murphy
Alexander is defending but Murphy is the hometown boy. The confident Murphy shoves him in the face and gets two off an early knee. Cedric has to bail to the floor so Murphy hits a huge flip dive over the top. Back in and a top rope Meteora gets two more as Alexander is writhing in pain. A kick to the arm gets two more and we hit the chinlock.
The fans are entirely behind Murphy (well duh), even as he puts Alexander on top but charges into a running Michinoku Driver for two. The springboard spinning Downward Spiral (third time in one form or another tonight) sends Murphy to the floor with Alexander hitting his own running flip dive.
Back in and Cedric puts him on top but gets caught in a sitout powerbomb for two more. A jumping knee to the face looks to set up Murphy’s Law but Alexander reverses into a rollup for two. The Lumbar Check gets two, which is one of the only times that’s ever happened (Alexander’s bugged out eyes are a great touch). The springboard clothesline is countered with another knee to the face and Murphy’s Law is enough for the pin and the title at 10:30.
Rating: B-. That was the only option they had here as there was no reason to not change the title. Alexander has held the title for months now and isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. They can switch the title back if they really want to, but this was the only choice they had and thankfully they figured that out.
Braun Strowman/Drew McIntyre/Dolph Ziggler vs. Shield
Shield does the very long entrance through the stadium crowd. It’s a brawl to start with the Shield clearing the ring and knocking the villains to the floor before the opening bell even rings. Strowman has to be saved from the TripleBomb through the announcers’ table and it’s Ziggler and Rollins heading inside for the official start.
Ziggler gets two off the DDT and it’s off to Strowman for the running charge in the corner. McIntyre comes in and pounds Rollins down in the corner, followed by Ziggler grabbing the sleeper. A belly to back suplex gets Rollins out of trouble and a Sling Blade puts Ziggler down. Strowman won’t allow the hot tag though and it’s another splash in the corner. Ziggler comes back in and talks a lot of trash until Rollins tosses him down again.
That’s still not enough for the hot tag as Strowman knocks Reigns and Ambrose off the apron to keep Rollins in trouble. Strowman misses a top rope splash (egads) though and the hot tag brings in Ambrose to clean house. A fall away slam drops Ziggler (you don’t see Ambrose using that one very often) sets up a double chickenwing faceplant for two each and Ziggler is in trouble.
Ambrose’s top rope elbow is rolled through for two and it’s a double crossbody for a double knockdown. Ambrose scores with a neckbreaker and the hot tag brings in Reigns. The corner clotheslines and a DDT get two on McIntyre but the Superman Punch hits Ambrose by mistake. Everything breaks down and Strowman goes shoulder first into the post. Reigns saves Rollins from the reverse Alabama Slam and everyone is down. Rollins and Reigns are surrounded as Ambrose gets up but doesn’t immediately pick a side.
Eventually he dropkicks Strowman to the floor for a suicide dive but the TripleBomb is broken up. A running charge knocks Reigns over and Rollins gets one as well. The Zig Zag gets two on Ambrose so Strowman wants Dean thrown outside to run him over too. Reigns spears Strowman through the barricade instead, leaving Rollins to break up the Claymore/Zig Zag combination. Dirty Deeds finishes Ziggler at 21:38.
Rating: C+. Way longer than it needed to be for what felt like a house show main event. The other problem is we’ve covered these teams fighting for a long time now and most of the impact is gone. They really need to move on to something else, but I’m not sure I see that happening for a good while, as is the case all the time around here.
We recap Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz. Some brass knuckles gave Miz the win at Summerslam so Bryan went after him again, setting up the pretty lame mixed tag match at Hell in a Cell. Tonight it’s one on one again for the #1 contendership.
Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
The winner gets a title shot at Crown Jewel and Bryan is coming in with bad ribs. Miz goes right after the ribs at the bell and stomps away as Bryan can barely breathe. Some YES Kicks get Bryan out of trouble as the announcers argue about Talking Smack. The running knee misses so Miz hits one of his own for two. Miz loads up the Skull Crushing Finale but gets small packaged….for the pin at 2:27??? Cole sounds shocked and it seemed that Miz’s shoulder was up.
AJ looks on from the back and smiles.
We recap the Undertaker vs. HHH. They’ve fought for years, it was over, and now they’re fighting again because old guys fight around here. Shawn Michaels and Kane are both here as well.
Undertaker vs. HHH
Undertaker’s entrance is faster this year, clocking in at just over four minutes. During the Big Match Intros, the match is turned into No DQ, because A, there are people outside, B, so sledgehammers can be used, and C, because it’s an Undertaker match and he’s old. Feeling out process to start with HHH sticking his chin out, drawing both seconds up to the apron. HHH grabs the wrist and loads up Old School but gets punched into the corner instead.
Snake Eyes connects but the big boot is countered with a running knee. Undertaker gets sent outside where he grabs Shawn by the throat, drawing HHH out for the save, allowing Shawn to send him into the post. Shawn grabs a table but Kane chases him away. The Pedigree on the floor is broken up so they head back inside where HHH grabs a swinging neckbreaker. A THIS IS AWESOME chant is quickly cut off (thank goodness) as Undertaker knocks HHH over the corner.
The announcers’ table is loaded up but Shawn offers another distraction, only to have HHH backdropped over the barricade. They fight into the tech area where another Pedigree is broken up, followed by more brawling through the crowd. Back in and Shawn offers another distraction, earning himself a fight hand. Undertaker chairs HHH in the back and puts him on the table but Shawn interferes AGAIN (this is getting annoying), earning himself a big boot. The Taker Dive is loaded up but HHH cuts him off with a chair to the ribs.
Kane crawls out of whatever black hole he fell into and eats Sweet Chin Music onto the table, allowing HHH to dive off the apron as the tag match continues. HHH goes up top with a chair but dives into a chokeslam. The Tombstone gets two so the referee gets punched. A slow series of chair shots to the back keep HHH in trouble as the announcers try to pass this off as epic.
Undertaker wraps the chair around HHH’s neck, drawing Shawn to the apron to ask for mercy. Shawn gets in and takes a right hand to the nose, allowing HHH to hit the spinebuster. The Pedigree gets two and now HHH wraps the chair around Undertaker’s head. HHH Pillmanizes him for two as Kane makes the save, apparently because he enjoys seeing his brother destroyed. Shawn grabs the sledgehammer and HHH knocks Undertaker silly but there’s no referee.
Hell’s Gate goes on but HHH chokes him with the hammer to break it up. Shawn and Kane come in and get thrown back out a few seconds later so Undertaker picks up the hammer….and then throws it down. A chokeslam looks to set up the Tombstone but Shawn makes the save with Sweet Chin Music. Undertaker doesn’t actually go down so it’s a sledgehammer to the face into another Sweet Chin Music into the Pedigree for the pin at 27:31.
Rating: C. WAY longer than it needed to be but it was far from a bad match. They went with the only real option of smoke and mirrors here and there’s nothing wrong with that given the circumstances. It got really annoying with all of the interference as this was basically a tag match without being a tag match. The real problem though was I didn’t care about the match as it felt like a completely unnecessary sequel to an already great story. It certainly wasn’t bad and the build was good, but it’s something that came and went, which isn’t the best result.
Post match HHH and Shawn have an awkwardly long hug until they go over to help Undertaker up. Kane joins them in the ring for the big pose (Kane looks so out of place) until the monsters beat them up. A Tombstone plants HHH and Shawn gets chokeslammed through the announcers’ table to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. First of all: the show being four hours instead of five made a world of difference. I wasn’t wild at waking up at 4:45 for the show but my goodness it was nice to not have this be some bloated five hour show. Other than a few times in the main event, the show never felt like it dragged and most of the matches were either good or watchable at worst. The stadium looked great and there was some storyline advancement, making this WAY better than Greatest Royal Rumble. As a one off show, this was perfectly fine and a more than watchable 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!