Your hosts are Michael Cole, Bryon Saxton & Corey Graves for RAW, and Mauro Renallo, David Otunga & JBL for Smackdown.
Enzo Amore & Big Cass v. Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho
Well, who else are you gonna open up in Brooklyn with? Cass gives us some singing while Enzo drops every New York music reference he can reel off in five minutes, and then Graves is like “Yeah, but they’re from New Jersey!” “Jeri-KO” feels a bit forced, but points for effort. The heels attack Enzo to start as usual and Jericho gives us a Jordan pose, but Enzo makes an awkward comeback and gets two. Cass throws Jericho around and launches Enzo at him in the corner, and the heels bail. So Cass tosses Enzo over the top onto them there, as well. Inevitably, Enzo gets laid out in the corner and Owens steals the show by doing the Enzo Dance on the apron before proceeding to the heat segment. Jericho with a dropkick for two and Owens with a senton for two. And then it’s CHINLOCK CITY, complete with dramatic run-up. Enzo fights out and the heels cut off the tag, allowing Owens to hit the frog splash for two. Enzo fights back out of the corner again, and dodges the cannonball, and it’s hot tag Cass. Elbow for Jericho, and he puts him down with a big boot, but Owens breaks up the Rocket Launcher and gets rid of Cass. And since Enzo is like a helpless baby on his own, he fights off the heels for a bit, but walks into a codebreaker at 12:05. I wouldn’t call it no-nonsense, but it was a very adequate amount of nonsense and lot of fun. ***1/4 No clue why Enzo & Cass are jobbing already, though.
Meanwhile, Jon Stewart gets bullied by Stephanie, until the New Day interrupts to teach him the Power of Positivity.
WWE Women’s title: Sasha Banks v. Charlotte
Sasha immediately catches her with the Banks Statement and Charlotte bails to escape, and they trade near-falls on the way back in. Sasha with the Eddie armdrag and they fight to the top, resulting in an awkward spot where Sasha gets dropped to the mat after a backbreaker in the corner. Whatever that was, it didn’t go right. I think Charlotte was trying to do a falling backbreaker from the middle rope, but just kind of dropped her instead. Charlotte works on the back a bit as the match kind of falls apart, and a backbreaker gets two. Charlotte tries the figure-four and Sasha reverses that, so they fight to the top again and Charlotte tries a Splash Mountain from the top, only to have Sasha reverse to a rana to bring her down. They slug it out and Sasha gets all fired up, but misses a blind charge before recovering with a half crab in the corner. That sets up the double knees in the corner for two. They fight to the floor, where Sasha gives her with the double knees off the apron in another nice spot. Back in, Sasha with a rollup for two. Charlotte tries the neckbreaker, but Sasha counters into the Banks Statement, but can’t hold onto it. Charlotte goes back to the back with a neckbreaker and Natural Selection for two. She tries a tilt-a-whirl slam, but Sasha turns it into the Banks Statement, which Charlotte then reverses into a cradle for the pin and title at 13:55. Really? Sasha only gets a month as champion? Did she fail a Wellness test, too? Hell of a match, though. ***1/2
Meanwhile, Doctors Anderson & Gallow reunite with AJ Styles, but get the cold shoulder from Finn Balor.
Intercontinental title: The Miz v. Apollo Crews
To be honest, I had no idea this match was even happening, which I guess speaks to how effective Miz has been as champion. Miz attacks and chokes him out in the corner, and a low kick gets two. Crews misses a dropkick and Miz DDTs him for two and goes to the chinlock. Hot take: Maryse is quite attractive and Miz is a lucky dude. How could you have this combo and NOT be insanely over? Well, Miz manages it somehow. Miz goes up and Crews catches him with a dropkick on the way down. He’s jacked and an acrobat, so Otunga calls him a “Jacrobat”. Can we switch back to the RAW team now? Crews comes back with an enzuigiri, but misses the standing splash before recovering with the powerslam for two. Miz tries the corner clothesline, but Crews counters with a suplex and the standing moonsault for two. Miz decides to take a walk, but Crew brings him back in for a cradle that gets two. Sadly, the Skull Crushing Finale ends Crews’ dream at 5:38. Total nothing match, rushed through like a TV match. *1/2 Miz has been champion since Wrestlemania and continues to be completely pointless in the role.
John Cena v. AJ Styles
OK, this is more like it. The crowd is molten here, showing why they’re running this arena so much. They have a stalemate to start, and AJ gets a dropkick before stopping to gloat, allowing Cena to take over. When will these heels LEARN? Cena whips him around the ring to work on the back while the crowd boos Cena vociferously and JBL is like “It’s Cena’s home field advantage! They’re having fun!” I’d hate to see what a HOSTILE crowd would be, then. Cena with the backdrop so that AJ can take his patented bump, and we hit the chinlock. Cena actually throws a dropkick for two, then hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Styles comes back with the Pele and Styles Clash for two. Cena fires back with the FU for two. They head up and Styles brings him down with a torture rack into a powerbomb for two. Otunga earns his pay by declaring that Styles has won all these titles, but it’s always hung over his head that he’s never beaten John Cena, and then Mauro immediately chimes in with “He beat Cena at Money in the Bank.” Way to go, David! AJ reverses an FU attempt into a rollup, but Cena reverses that into an STF, which AJ then turns into a fireman’s carry neckbreaker for two. Styles misses the 450 and Cena hits the Code Red for two. Styles with a german suplex into a front facebuster for two as they’re just doing big moves for near falls now. I’m OK with that. Cena catches him on another springboard attempt and turns it into the STF, but Styles reverses into a crossface, which Cena turns into the FU, which Styles then rolls into the Calf Crusher! “You can’t coach strength!” notes JBL. Then why do sports teams have strength coaches? Anyway, Cena reverses into the STF, but Styles rolls him over for two and then hits the enzuigiri as both guys are woozy. Cena comes back with the tornado DDT for two and goes up with the guillotine legdrop for two. Back to the top, but AJ fights free and brings him down with a rana, into the Phenomenal Phorearm for two. I LOVE the visual of Mauro standing up with excitement in the background. Cena powers him up again, so AJ goes for the knee and Cena puts him down with a clothesline. Back to the top as Cena goes for the finish with a top rope FU…which gets two. That was a crazy near fall. Crowd goes NUTS for the kickout. Cena gives a great look of disbelief as Styles crawls back to his feet again, but AJ reverses the final FU into a Styles Clash, and the Forearm finishes at 23:08! And that is how you make a star. ****3/4
Jon Stewart is out to let us know that he’ll be joining the New Day tonight while Big E recovers from ringpostitis, but he’s learned his lesson and promises not to hit anyone with a chair. I think we’ve all made that promise in the past.
WWE tag titles: The New Day v. Dr. Anderson & Dr. Gallows
I have no idea who thought turning Anderson & Gallows into midcard comedians would get them over, but it didn’t work. I do feel like, at the very least, Big E needs to return tonight and smash the urine sample over someone’s head. Kofi gets a standing double stomp on Anderson for two and the New Day work him over in the corner and then stomp on Gallows as well. Kofi tosses Doc and follows with a flying butt, but he gets distracted and the Club takes over. Cole FINALLY acknowledges that in fact Demolition holds the real record with 478 days as Woods gets a hot tag and dropkicks Anderson for two. Flying elbow gets two, and Kofi comes back in for the double-team flying stomp that gets two. Gallows saves and it’s BONZO GONZO, as the heels hit the Magic Killer on Kofi. This brings Stewart in for the distraction, and this time he stops to tuck in his shirt before his beating. The Club decides to test for ringpostitis, but Big E makes his return and lays them out for the DQ at 9:07. So they can beat up on Jon Stewart without consequences but Big E returning draws the DQ? Yeah, that match went nowhere. *1/2 Everyone involved continues to be booked like a bunch of geeks.
WWE World title: Dean Ambrose v. Dolph Ziggler
Well, let’s see how much hot water Dean is in. Either way they go here, AJ should get the belt next month anyway. They quickly fight to the floor and Dean tosses him out and beats on him out there, and back in for a butterfly superplex that gets two. Dean with a half-crab while JBL and Otunga go on a bizarre tangent about homeless mannequins without arms. Ambrose with a suplex for two while Mauro reels off classic World title matches at Summerslam that this probably will not match up to. Ziggler misses a superkick and Dean faceplants him for two. Mauro notes that Ziggler can become a “three time WWE World champion”, but in fact he has never held that title, which is a rare misfire from Mauro. Dean continues to play heel by mockingly tuning up the band, but Ziggler tosses him and comes back with a DDT for two. Mauro’s enthusiasm is a bit forced here. Ziggler tries the fameasser, but Dean rolls him up for two, but misses a blind charge and hits the post. Geez, hopefully he won’t be out for a month like Big E! Fameasser gets two off that. That move would be scarier if he ever pinned anyone with it, ever. They collide and Mauro, Canadian hero, declares it a MALFUNCTION AT THE JUNCTION! Ed Whalen for the win. Now we just need some Tragically Hip references from him. Dean comes back with the flying elbow for two as this drags on. I dunno if this is a style clash or what, but it’s not clicking. It’s supposed to be a World title match and it’s two guys having a match in the midcard. Both guys tumble to the outside and Mauro declares that it’s been a struggle between them. Very true, it’s a struggle alright. Back in, Ziggler gets two after a superkick on the floor with a half-assed sell from Ambrose. Ziggler tries another superkick and Dean catches him, but the Zig Zag gets two. Crowd still isn’t buying it. Ziggler pounds away and gets a sleeper on the mat as Dean is now making the comeback despite being a heel all match for some reason. Dean gets the lariat and goes up, but Dolph brings him down with something that doesn’t work and Dean finishes with Dirty Deeds at 15:24. Extremely disappointing match, with an anticlimactic finish. **1/4 This was a huge disappointment and I’m not even sure what happened, as they would seem to match up well, but it had no heat and no real flow.
Naomi, Carmella & Becky Lynch v. Natalya, Alexa Bliss & Eva Marie
Eva Marie is unable to be here tonight due to exhaustion, so Nikki Bella returns to take her place. So I guess the suspension doesn’t exist in WWE kayfabe. Sign of the night: “This show is very long” Very true. Carmella, who looks like she’s wearing pajama pants, means nothing outside of the bubble she was in with Enzo and Cass in NXT, and same with Alexa. Not sure why they’d have Nikki return as a heel, although Smackdown does need the star power. Everyone gets their shit in early and the crowd doesn’t care, and Carmella ends up getting the heat. Somehow they’ve taken Carmella and ruined whatever attractiveness she had in NXT with this terrible gear. Alexa with a sloppy moonsault into double knees on Carmella for two while Carmella does a wholly unimpressive job of playing babyface in peril. I’d barely buy her as Robert Gibson, let alone Ricky Morton. Hot tag to Becky, who is the only one to get any kind of reaction here, setting up Naomi with her kick combo where they all miss by a foot. So then Naomi gets beat up for a bit before Carmella comes back against Nikki Bella way past the point when this thing should have ended, and everyone fights in the ring while Carmella makes her terrible comeback. Finally Nikki just lays her out and finishes with the TKO at 11:00. Sloppy and terrible, with a downright embarrassing performance from Carmella in particular. DUD
WWE Universal title: Seth Rollins v. Finn Balor
The Universal title is basically just a bigger version of the Women’s title, with a red strap for RAW. I know it’s a branding thing, but GEEZ. That’s the best they can come up with? What happened to the rumors about reviving the winged eagle design? And the crowd actually BOOS the name “Universal championship”! That’s cold. And yet awesome. That’s some really spectacularly lazy belt design and they deserve the crowd’s disdain. Finn immediately hits the corner dropkick and goes up, but Seth bails, so Finn follows with a dive. Back in, Finn goes for the knee, but they head to the floor and Rollins tosses him over the railing and Finn pops up with a flying clothesline. Back in, Finn gets two and goes to work on the leg while the crowd is singing something presumably unrelated to the match. Back to the floor, where Rollins powerbombs him into the railing and that gets two. We hit the chinlock while I believe the crowd is complaining about the belt? Balor slugs back and the crowd is seemingly not giving the match any kind of chance, which is weird because they like both guys. Rollins pounds away on him and springboards in with the flying knee, followed by a nice frog splash for two. Finn comes back with the Sling Blade and escapes the Pedigree, following with a head kick as both guys are down. Finn with the Bloody Sunday DDT for two and he goes up, but misses the Coup De Grace and Rollins hooks him in a triangle choke. That’s an odd choice. Apparently this match is no DQ and there’s no rope break, which is new information. Balor escapes and the camera pans to the title belt, which the crowd boos again. That’s great. That belt is the biggest heel in the promotion. It’s more over than Roman Reigns! Back in, Rollins with a buckle bomb and superkick for two. Fisherman’s suplex gets two for a good near fall. Rollins goes up and Finn knocks him off and comes back with a double stomp to the back of the head for two. He misses the finisher again and Rollins gets the Pedigree for two. Seth goes up and misses a 450, allowing Balor to go up again and Rollins to cut him off AGAIN, this time with the superplex into Pedigree, but Balor escapes. Corner dropkick and Coup De Grace and Balor wins the first Universal title at 19:21. Then we get the unique dynamic of the crowd cheering Balor, but booing the crappy title belt. Really, anything other than Balor winning the big one here would have killed him, and now he can drop it to Rollins at their leisure later on. Match was really good, but they struggled to get the crowd into it and it really felt like another midcard title match, with the crowd distracted by the terrible belt and not really giving it a chance. ***1/2
Meanwhile, Dolph Ziggler is Col. Sanders and beats up Miz in a chicken suit, because that’s exactly what this show needed.
US title: Rusev v. Roman Reigns
For those who thought that Reigns was getting over as a babyface in this feud, fear not, for Brooklyn booed the shit out of him again. And given we’re at 3:40 at this point, they’re probably doing an overrun again. Rusev attacks before the bell and beats on Roman outside, which he SHOULD, because Roman is a dick who shoved his new wife into a wedding cake! Stand up for your woman against that bully, Rusev! Roman puts him on the railing and hits him with the superman punch and the camera is SHAKING and ZOOMING so you know it’s a hellacious brawl, or else Kevin Dunn is off his meds again and suffering from a seizure behind the camera. And indeed the match never happens as they just fight until the refs break them up and send Roman back to the dressing room.
The crowd chants “Don’t come back” at Roman, just so he knows where they stand. Whatever the intention was here, it didn’t work.
Alleged Main Event: Brock Lesnar v. Randy Orton
I understand Brock getting the spot as the biggest star on the show, but I don’t see the crowd buying into this as a bigtime main event after five hours of this show already. And indeed, Orton gets a pretty tepid reaction for his entrance. Just to really overstuff things, we have FIVE PEOPLE on commentary for this match. Hey, did you know that if you were to build a sports entertainer from the ground up, it would look like Randy Orton? Because JBL tells us that interesting fact yet again. Brock beats on him in the corner, but Orton tries the RKO early and gets tossed down. And we go to Suplex City, although Orton seems to have trouble going up for them. Orton rolls out of the ring after six of them, so Brock slams him on the announce table. Back in, we head back to the suplexes and Brock takes him to the floor again, but Orton hits the RKO on the surviving announce table. Back in with the draping DDT and another RKO for two. Brock counters the punt with an F5 for two. Brock pounds away on the mat while Orton does what I assume is a gory bladejob, pooling blood all over the mat in horrifying fashion as they bizarrely refuse to just stop the match before finally calling for the bell at 11:47.
This is the elbow that did it. pic.twitter.com/fLA7zG7Ve5
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) August 22, 2016
Brock keeps pounding on him until Shane McMahon comes out to save, and he gets F5’d. Eh, he’s taken worse. And that’s the show? OK then. Wasn’t really much of a match. So I guess that means this feud must continue? **
Final thoughts: The show was looking like an all-time classic after the Cena-Styles match, but then completely collapsed under its own weight from there with a bunch of decent matches that didn’t really amount to anything. I’d say a very mild thumbs up for the Women’s title and Cena match, but pretty much everything else disappointed here and it’s not worth sitting through the entire show past Cena v. Styles.