Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Charlotte and Dana Brooke
I picked Carmella to be the mystery partner, but of course, the predictable choice was the correct one: Bayley! She came out to a storming ovation. The crowd were thoroughly into this match, thanks to Bayley and Sasha. Dana Brooke did her best to bring down the quality of this match. But the sheer talent of the other three women kept the quality high. Not a great match by any means, but a fun opener that set the tone for the rest of the night.
WINNER: Sasha Banks and Carmella
VERDICT: 7/10. A fun and exciting opener that thrived on Bayley’s “surprise” entrance.
The New Day vs The Wyatt Family
When compared to the likes of six-man tag matches like The Wyatts vs The Shield, or The Shield vs Evolution, this match will always pale in comparison. But it was still a darned good match! Brawn Strowman even looked competent throughout! I’d say this was a little better than the later six man tag match involving John Cena and The Club. That suffered from some miscommunication at the end. This, however, was built on Woods’ fear of Bray Wyatt. Woods stayed out of the match for most of it, until it was time to come face to face in Wyatt. In a great moment, Woods overcame his fear and pummelled Wyatt! Of course, it would be Bray who would defeat Woods shortly afterwards, but it showed a simple bit of storytelling that is lacking in WWE.
(Another thing: Big E needs to eliminate that through-the-rope spear before he breaks his neck. He was centimetres from landing on his head!).
WINNER: The Wyatt Family
VERDICT: 7/10. An entertaining six man tag that told a story as well!
Rusev (c) vs Zack Ryder (United States Championship Match)
A decent Raw-level match that contained some good spots, like Rusev’s crash into the barrier and Ryder’s missile dropkick of the barrier. The outcome was a foregone conclusion, but Ryder and Rusev did enough to put that in doubt (if only for a short period). For a final stretch, it was pretty gripping. Ryder hit the Rough Ryder, and went to the top rope for his signature elbow drop. Rusev got his knees up to block the move, and from then on there was only one thing in Ryder’s future: Being Rusev Crushed!
VERDICT: 6/10. Short and to the point, but Rusev and Ryder made the most of out of their allocated time to make the predictable finish a little less predictable.
Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
Match of the night, and yet another match of the year contender from Zayn and Owens. Together, they are simply in ring magic. Watch all four of their singles matches (two in NXT, two in WWE), and each one of them tells a different story. Their NXT matches were merely a taster of what they could create in the ring. At Payback, they stole the show. At Battleground, they stole the show. A slow, methodical start was turned on its head after Zayn botched his Asai Moonsault variation and landed dangerously on his shoulder/head. Whether or not it was a planned botch, it looked devastating. But Zayn and Owens incoroporated into their bout, which went from strength to strength from that point on.
It was a match of highlights, from Zayn’s brainbuster on the apron (probably the closest we will ever get to see El Generico’s finisher in WWE), to a blistering finale that told an emotional story of a man looking upon his former best friend with pity and regret. The moment when Zayn held up Owens after hitting his Pele Kick is surely one of the best storytelling moments in WWE history. Zayn’s look says so much, but there’s only one way to go after that: another Pele Kick! Stop reading this and watch this match. Now!
WINNER: Sami Zayn
VERDICT: 10/10. A definite MOTY contender. Still a notch below Zayn’s match against Nakamura, but nothing will surpass that. Zayn and Owens told a compelling in-ring story that encapsulated their entire history. The ending was the icing on the cake. Never has one moment meant so much. Simply brilliant!
Becky Lynch vs Natalya
After the pure quality of Zayn vs Owens, this match had to be short of perfect to garner any attention. Mostly, it was a dull affair. Natalya focused on Lynch’s knee and finally locked in the Sharpshooter to get Lynch to tap out. That’s all there was to it, pretty much. These are the two women who will hold prime positions in Smackdown’s Women’s Division…should we be worried?
VERDICT: 4/10. A match which held few points of interest.
The Miz (c) vs Darren Young (Intercontinental Championship Match)
The Miz is much better than this match. We all knew the outcome of this match, so why have it end in such absurdity? Maryse slaps Bob Backlund, but feigns being pushed over by Backlund. Miz slaps Backlund, and Young goes crazy and locks in the Chicken Wing Crossface outside the ring. Both competitors get counted out (I think that’s what happened, anyway). An awful end to a forgettable match. Why not just have The Miz win cleanly? It’s only Darren Young, for Pete’s sake! However, Young looking at his hands in awe after the match was something.
WINNER: Double Countout (I think?)
VERDICT: 4/10. A boring match with a baffling finish.
John Cena, Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs The Club
Let’s be honest: Amore’s pre-match promo was more entertaining than half of this match. That’s not a knock on the match, but a testament to Amore’s promo abilities! Remember, readers: never look someone in the eye whilst you are eating a banana! Amore was also the most impressive performer of the match, being hurled around by Big Cass for double team moves and playing the underdog with perfection. Cena and Styles barely had any impact until the closing minutes of the match. As an aside, I think Cena had come back from an injury too quickly this time around. He looks slower and more awkward in the ring than usual. His timing seems off, and he seems less confident.
But the match itself, built around Amore being beaten up until getting the hot tag, was pretty good. Apart from a few spots near the end where Luke Gallows (once again!) stood around, looking gormless and waiting for someone to get into position, it was full of drama and big spots. Cena getting the victory made sense, setting up Styles vs Cena II.
WINNER: Cena, Amore and Cass
VERDICT: 7/10. Amore was the centerpoint of this match, but the others did their part as well (apart from Cena…does he need more time off?). A solid match with a thrilling ending.
Dean Ambrose (c) vs Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns (WWE Championship Match)
This is a match two years in the making. That simple fact elevated it from a very good main event into a great main event. Each former member of the Shield played their part to perfection. Rollins looked better than ever, even looking faster and suppler than before his injury. Reigns, with a bit more weight, looked powerful and dominant. Ambrose is Ambrose, with all the pros and cons of being Ambrose! Together, they assembled a match that barely stopped for breath. Some fantastic three way sequences stood out, especially the closing sequence. Say what you want about Reigns, when he wrestles like a powerhouse, he looks great. It was only logical that Rollins and Ambrose would eventually team up to take Reigns out.
This match was almost the perfect main event, ending the PPV on a high note with a match that contained great wrestling and a great storyline. I could have done without Steph, Shane, Foley and Bryan at ringside, however. The constant referrals to their presence threatened to distract the viewer and listener from the match itself. I found it ironic that Cole quoted Foley as saying ‘Raw is all about the superstars.’ Why have entrances for the Commissioners and General Managers before the main event, then?!?
WINNER: Dean Ambrose
VERDICT: 9/10. A storied history between the three competitors turned this very good match into a great one. Of course, it couldn’t compete with Zayn vs Owens, but on any other PPV it would have stole the show.
OVERALL VERDICT: 7/10. Apart from The Miz vs Darren Young and Lynch vs Natalya, each match was worth watching. Most made sense in the ring and made logical storyline progressions. Both six man tag matches were compelling. Rusev and Ryder turned a short match into a heated one. The main event topped off the evening delightfully. However, there was one match that stole the show: Zayn vs Owens. The two put together a MOTY contender. Watch it. Now!
What do you think? Leave your thoughts below!