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US title: Sheamus v. Cesaro
Sheamus comes out swinging and hits a high kneelift, but Cesaro powers him over with a throw. Sheamus fires back with forearms, but misses an elbow and Cesaro throws forearms in the corner. Sheamus dumps him and hits the forearms on the apron, as this match seems to be built on the tenets of real men hitting each other really hard. About goddamn time. Back in, Sheamus tries a slingshot shoulderblock and gets forearmed to the floor as a result. Back in with the deadlift superplex for two. Cesaro with the double-stomp for two and he throws forearms, but runs into the backbreaker for two. Sheamus drops knees off the middle rope and gets two. This is some hard-hitting shit. Cesaro comes flying back with a forearm for two. Cesaro misses a blind charge and Sheamus goes up, but lands on the SWISS DEATH forearm for two. Cesaro slaps him around, but Sheamus hits a backbreaker for two. Sheamus goes for the kick, but Cesaro blocks with a german suplex for two, and Sheamus escapes into the White Noise for two. Cesaro fights off the cloverleaf and comes off the top, but Sheamus catches him with the cloverleaf on the second try. Cesaro quickly powers to the ropes and gets a backbreaker slam for two. Giant Swing has the crowd going nuts, but Sheamus recovers with a small package to retain at 11:42. What a cowardly way to win. I will fight through my disgust at the non-manly way that Sheamus retained and still award this match a good rating because people hitting each other in the face is awesome when done right. ***1/2
Rybaxel v. Cody Rhodes & Goldust
The Rhodes’ work Axel over in the corner as the crowd chants for the Hawks. Well, it’s a night of disappointments for them, I guess. Goldust comes in and gets caught in the heel corner as the announcers are now going back to the story that the Rhodes are in a slump, although that seems to change weekly. The heels take turns coming off the middle rope onto Goldust and Ryback works the arm. Really, these two goofs are trying to bring tag wrestling back? RYBAXEL? Ryback with a hammerlock slam, but Goldust cradles for two. Hot tag Cody and he hits the heels with dropkicks and a sloppy moonsault that gets two on Ryback. Ryback catches him on the disaster kick and tosses him into Goldust, and the lariat gets two. Cody cradles Ryback for two and the Crossroads gets two. Another kick is reversed into the Shellshock for the pin at 7:42. So Rybaxel is once again in the hunt for the tag team title shot! Call your friends! Everyone worked hard here. **1/2 Afterwards, Cody walks out on Goldust because he needs a better partner. Too bad Dusty doesn’t have any more sons.
Yay, Mountain Dew commercials on a PPV. Not only that, but DIET Dew, which all the announcers and panel members have to display prominently in every shot in place of water.
Rusev v. Big E
So if Rusev is supposed to be Russian now, isn’t it a bit on-the-nose to have him be named “Rusev”? Big E is now a patriotic flag-waver, which is among the cheapest of cheap heat for someone who was never defined as that before. Big E charges in and slugs away, but Rusev throws him and follows with a corner splash. The announcers bring up Rusev’s sambo background, which reminds me of the greatest MMA shirt I ever saw a fighter wear: “If sambo was easy, they’d call it jiu jitsu”. That’s the kind of shirt that would get you murdered in Brazil. Big E comes back with his crazy spear through the ropes, but it only gets two. Rusev puts him down with a superkick to block the splash, and RUSEV CRUSH at 3:35. It’s slowly getting over. *1/2 This was what it was supposed to be.
Kofi Kingston v. Bo Dallas
No match, as Kane comes out and beats up Kofi while Bo runs away. Bo gives him an inspirational peptalk after the beating. Total RAW segment.
Intercontinental title: Wade Barrett v. Rob Van Dam
I’m saddened that Barrett lost the linear World title to Sheamus last week and feel like we haven’t talked about it enough on the blog. They slug it out to start and Rob gets a spinkick for two as the crowd is torn on who to cheer for. Rob with a springboard kick for two and a leg lariat into the corner to put BNB on the floor for the brawl. Back in, Rob with a legdrop for two, but Barrett boots him out of the corner to take over. Chinlock, but Rob fights out and gets a spinkick to make the comeback, and Rolling Thunder sets up the frog splash. Sadly, it misses, but he recovers with a rollup for two. Barrett with the sideslam for two. Rob retreats to the floor and Barrett accidentally bullhammers the post, allowing Rob to hit a DDT for two. Moonsault hits knee, however, and the bullhammer finishes at 9:27. I’m starting to feel like Barrett should yell THIS IS SPARTA before hitting that move, given his beard. Match was a whole lot of nothing leading up to a good finish. **1/2
Daniel Bryan and Stephanie are out for the latest way to stall the World title angle, as Stephanie notes that the fans want Bryan to quit “just like CM Punk did”, but Bryan isn’t going for it and calls Steph a narcissistic bitch. Stephanie as the insufferable boss is just fantastic, and Brie decides to “do the right thing” and quit so that Steph doesn’t have the threat of firing her hanging over. Steph gives an obnoxious little condescending laugh and Brie slaps the shit out of her. That was a surprisingly strong booking of the babyfaces.
Last Man Standing: John Cena v. Bray Wyatt
Cena brings out the Usos as backup and puts Bray down with a bulldog and clothesline. Bray quickly takes over with a corner splash and leads him in a dance, but Cena puts him down for the five knuckle shuffle. Bray comes back with a gutbuster and gets a 4 count before stomping him down again. Bray escapes the STF and puts Cena down with a uranage for 7, but Cena fights off Sister Abigail. Legdrop from the top, but Wyatt catches him with Sister Abigail and that gets 8 before Cena rises above countout. Cena fights back with the FU, but everyone runs in and the Usos dump the Wyatt Family and hit them with dives. Bray puts Cena down with a chair, but he’s up at 6. He retaliates with the chair, hero to millions that he is, and pounds Bray down, but sets up a table and gets suplexed through it. He gets up from that, so Bray brings the stairs in and puts Cena down with them, then leads the crowd in a singalong for some reason. Heels shouldn’t really stop to pander to the masses. Cena fights back and dumps Bray, then HURLS the stairs at him in a crazy stupid spot. How do you even do that safely? Cena dives after him, and Bray catches him with Sister Abigail on the floor, but Cena whips him into the post as Bray is bleeding from his elbow like crazy. Cena tries a piledriver on the stairs and gets backdropped onto them in another dangerous bump, and Bray follows with a senton off them to put Cena down for 5. Geez, did Natalya v. Charlotte drawing all that praise hit a nerve with these guys or something? Well, good for the fanbase, I guess. The Wyatt Family charges in to help Bray up and beat on Cena, since it’s no-DQ anyway. The Usos also join them and it’s another trainwreck with people hurtling through tables and killing each other, and Cena goes crashing through the barricade with Bray as they brawl into the crowd for the big finale. Bray tosses Cena into the control panel and accidentally triggers some pyro, but Cena gives him the FU through a conveniently placed box before burying him under ANOTHER box to trap him for the win at 24:14. Spoiler: Cena wins again. Hell of a deal, but I’m just so sick of this feud and I’m glad it’s presumably done with. Plus I’ve never liked the Last Man Standing match in general, so while it was pretty great for the match type, it’s nothing I’d want to watch again. ****
Divas Title: Paige v. Alicia Fox
Meltzer keeps going on about how…whatever this Alicia deal is…is getting her over, but I literally don’t hear anyone else talking about her. Paige gets control and Alicia bails, so Paige runs her into the railing, but gets snapmared off the stairs. Back in, Fox throws a tantrum and pounds away. Northern Lights suplex gets two. Backbreaker gets two and Fox tosses her, but as usual Paige comes back after getting beat up all match and finishes with the crosslock. And then Alicia throws another tantrum, because that’s her deal now. *
Elimination match: Evolution v. The Shield
Batista’s new beard and bald-spot look makes him look like the swarthy owner of a disreputable donair restaurant in the downtown core. But then those are always the best places to get food at 2am when you’re on a bender. Of course, for me that went out with the Attitude era, but it’s fun to reminisce. Big brawl to start and Reigns starts the match proper in the ring by beating on Smurftista, but Rollins gets whipped into the corner for two. Evolution triple-teams him in their corner, but Orton gets worked over back in the Shield side. Batista comes in and Reigns drops an elbow on him, but he comes back with a spinebuster on Ambrose for two. Next up, we get Reigns v HHH in a preview of the rumored Summerslam match, as Reigns catches him with a backdrop and clothesline, and the Shield goes to work on him, including rolling suplexes from Rollins that get two. Ambrose with a rolling senton into the corner for two, but he goes up and lands on HHH’s foot. This has been very subdued for a no holds barred match thus far. Ambrose gets caught in the heel corner and Batista runs him into the railing and gets two back in the ring. Ambrose as face-in-peril is a really interesting dynamic, as he’s the least sympathetic character you can imagine but somehow pulls it off. HHH drops knees for two and cuts off a tag with a facecrusher, but Ambrose hits him with a drunken master clothesline and it’s hot tag Reigns. I presume it’s time for all hell to break loose now. Reigns beats the shit out of Bluetista and follows with the apron kick, and the Superman Punch gets two. It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA as everyone pairs off and brawls on the floor. Rollins dives at HHH and gets nailed with a pair of metal, leaving Reigns alone with Evolution at ringside. And that results in him going through a table via triple powerbomb. They make the fatal error of stopping to mock the Shield, and Ambrose comes FLYING out of nowhere with a dive onto them. They regroup on the other side of the ring and then Rollins also appears like magic with a dive, and everyone brawls up the entrance. Orton drops Ambrose back-first onto a chair in a sick bump, and HHH Pedigrees Rollins onto a chair as well. This leaves Reigns alone in the ring 3-on-1, although the reason why Evolution wouldn’t just pin the dead members of the Shield first eludes me. Hubris, perhaps, which never works out well for heels in wrestling in good-booked circumstances. So they put Reigns on the stairs and take turns beating him with canes, just like that other long-haired bearded guy who was all about positivity. You know, Daniel Bryan. So after viciously beating him with a chair and chasing him to the floor, they continue to where Ambrose was lying in wait with another attack. That goes badly for him and Orton hits him with a draping DDT off a prop, but again chooses not to pin him. However, now Rollins comes diving off the Titantron as part of the subset of “Seth Rollins dives off crazy places”, and this allows the Shield to make the comeback. In the ring, Rollins fighs back on Batista but gets speared. Powerbomb is reversed, and Reigns spears Batista to give Rollins the pin at 27:35. Orton hits Rollins with the RKO for two, but Ambrose waffles him with a chair and finishes him with the headlock DDT at 28:38. And that leaves HHH alone, so he goes low on Ambrose, but takes the Superman Punch before Batista sneaks back in and saves. HHH gets his trusty sledgehammer and knocks Ambrose out, but Rollins dives in again and Reigns finishes with the spear at 31:00. The Shield are turning out to be spectacular main event babyfaces. It took a while to really kick into the stipulations, but the Shield somehow successfully switching from bullying heels to plucky underdog babyfaces is a thing of beauty to watch. There was something really elegant about the finish, with HHH clutching his hammer in desperation, only to see the next generation overpower him due to his own pride. Clearly, snark aside, he gets what is best for business as of late. ****
Well this show really overachieved, probably thanks to competition from NXT, and delivered two great matches and a really good opener, and that’s an easy thumbs up, even if I had ordered it on regular PPV.