When the actions of Kane are thought to be more important than the four competitors on the main event for the World Title something is badly amiss with the creative team. And that was for a first-time match, Cena vs. Rusev, Kidd and Cesaro vs. New Day, Sheamus vs. Ziggler and Neville vs. Barrett were all repeats of previous PPV clashes. Despite this level of familiarity, the talent all worked hard which along with a lively crowd made this event into something far more entertaining than it had any right to be.
In the two pre-show matches, R-Truth defeated Stardust with the Lie Detector and The Ascension beat Macho Mandow and Curtis Axel (dressed in full Hulk Hogan regalia) in a short match with the Fall of Man. The result of the latter match is somewhat of a surprise as it seemed like The Meta Powers were in line for a small push, this being current day WWE, however, expect the result to be reversed on RAW. Truth and Stardust are in a mini-feud trading wins so the result doesn’t matter which is a shame as Stardust should be in a much better position than he currently is.
In the first match of the main show, Sheamus beat Dolph Ziggler. A very good opener, Sheamus played the bully role very effectively manhandling Ziggler with power moves and brawling. Dolph was an effective plucky underdog fighting from underneath and managing to get a measure of revenge from last months ‘Kiss me Arse Match’ by giving Sheamus a stink face. For the finish a headbutt from Ziggler showed he is definitely not a member of the Anoa’i family as it legitimately busted him open leading to a quick Brogue Kick for the win for Sheamus.
The Tag Team Titles were on the line in the evenings second match with New Day retaining over Tyson Kidd and Cesaro in a best two out of three falls match. At just over 12 minutes in duration, the best of three falls stipulation could have been jettisoned but this was still a very entertaining encounter with New Day impressing. The New Day combination of Kofi Kingston and Big E have excellent chemistry as a big man/quick man pairing reminiscent of the Hart Foundation, they impressed again here. Kidd and Cesaro took the first fall with a giant swing dropkick combination. New Day leveled the match with a badly botched double Big Ending. The actual big ending occurred when manager Xavier Woods snuck into the match and pinned Cesaro with a small package, apparently in Baltimore all black people look alike. Of note in this match was how over Cesaro was compared to the other competitors if there was ever a wrestler deserving of a singles push it’s him.
Bray Wyatt pinned Ryback with Sister Abigail in a rewarding big man match. Of note was a senton off the apron to the floor by Wyatt which apparently broke one of Ryback’s ribs. Ryback kept competing however and continued his Rob Van Dam tribute act with a frog splash. The ending involving Ryback being sent into an exposed steel turnbuckle also opens this series up to possible rematches.
John Cena retained the US Title in a cartoonish I Quit match over Rusev. Lasting nearly half an hour this was by far the longest match of the evening. The selling of both Cena and Rusev reached comically bad levels here with Cena seeming mildly irritated at being asked if he wanted to quit rather than in any danger and Rusev pulling off facial expressions that a Scooby Doo villain would be envious of. Guard rails, tables, pyrotechnics, a laptop and the top ring rope all came into play in this match. The main problem with a match of this nature in the PG era is that blood and extreme violence are forbidden so the more zany and stunt based elements of the match have to be embraced. The match itself was decent and as expected Lana was involved in the finish. With Rusev locked in a ring rope assisted STF and screaming in Bulgarian Lana entered the ring and submitted for him. So not only has Rusev now lost three straight matches against Cena he also had to have his valet submit for him. Who says feuding with Cena is a boost to a career? The split between Lana and Rusev starts now, can the Bulgarian continue his ascent without the most entertaining part of his act? Also, what next for the US Title and John Cena? Although the US Title Invitational has been one of the most enjoyable parts of RAW Cena is much too large of a star to hold a secondary title. Look for someone from NXT to debut soon and pull off a shock win for the belt.
Naomi and Tamina defeated the Bella Twins in a disastrous match when Naomi pinned Nikki after throwing her from the top rope. Placed after the I Quit match the ladies were in a thankless spot but this fell apart almost as soon as it began. Recent Divas matches have been a pleasant surprise, this was not one of them. It must be said that the booking makes perfect sense with Naomi now firmly established as number one contender to the Divas Title. I never need to see Tamina wrestle again though.
Neville defeated King Barrett by count out in the biggest disappointment of the evening. A count out on free TV is an irritant but understandable, on PPV there is no excuse for such cowardly booking. While the action itself was passable the ending ruined the good work that went into it, this is what happens when creative can’t bear to have someone take a loss. The after match activities with Neville nailing Barrett with the Red Arrow suggests the feud will continue.
In the main event, Seth Rollins retained the WWE Title defeating Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton in an awesome Fatal Four Way match. Even though there was the expected interference from J&J Security and Kane it was kept to a minimum and couldn’t take away from the bout. Highlights included a brief Shield reunion with the trio triple power bombing Randy Orton through the announce table to a massive reaction and exchanges between Orton and Rollins and Reigns and Ambrose. In the end, Rollins retained the title with a Pedigree to Orton.
With attention being focused on the Elimination Chamber event and Daniel Bryan relinquishing the Intercontinental Title this event came across as an inconvenience. No titles changed hands and very little of note occurred. With a tremendous main event and several rewarding matches on the undercard, the event is well worth a watch. Just don’t expect to remember it in a months time.