WWE television was pretty stellar in the last month. The rivalries were captivating and built towards something that seemed natural. Any storyline changes that stemmed from injuries didn’t feel forced. Wrestlers who seemed like they would never get over with the crowd actually garnered some sort of response. In short, post-WrestleMania is, well, better than WrestleMania.
Last night tied every recent thing up in a nice, predictable package. We knew Seth Rollins was going to come back sooner or later. We knew there was no way AJ Styles was walking out with the championship. And why in the Blue Blazer would a team called the Vaudevillains take the belts off arguably the hottest act in the company?
But despite the predictable nature of the event, it was still one of the most entertaining shows of the year so far. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the results.
AJ Styles vs. Roman Reigns
Of course Roman Reigns won. If you expected anything else, you were setting yourself up for disappointment. Roman Reigns’ entire existence in the WWE will always be him overcoming insurmountable odds (in this case, a bunch of double/triple-team attacks and a million finishers) and winning. That’s his character, how he’s been built up over the last year-plus, and how the WWE will continue to portray him.
Still, he had a hell of a match last night. Sure, he was booed to hell and no-selled a bunch of moves, but his and Styles’ Extreme Rules match was brutal as all hell and — dare I say it? — a bit extreme. It was a fun exercise in telling a story in and around the ring for 30-plus minutes. The only moment I had an issue with was WWE again reminding us that the rest of The Club are not, in fact, all-powerful beings and just regular wrestlers like everyone else on the roster. (So why are they there again?). But their inclusion in the match made sense for the story, and I look forward to seeing where The Club and The Bloodline will go from here.
Also, Seth Rollins is back. Yay!
Intercontinental Championship Fatal Four-Way.
This is easily one of the best matches I’ve seen all year. It had:
-Sami Zayn Helluva Kick-ing Kevin Owens as soon as the bell rang.
-Cesaro and his crazy feats of strength.
-Miz being an asshole that you love to hate before, during, and after winning the match.
-Kevin Owens continuing his decade-long feud with Sami Zayn in a way that didn’t seem forced or tired.
Simply put, it stole the show. Stop reading this and watch the match, already!
The New Day vs. The Vaudevillains
I’m a fan of the Vaudevillains, but I’m pretty surprised they made it far enough to face The New Day at a pay-per-view. Previous NXT call-ups The Ascension barely got half as much airtime, and have an equally out-there gimmick. Regardless, they had a great match (which they lost), received genuine heat from the raucous crowd, and were able to show exactly why they’re no longer in the developmental system. One has to wonder, however, exactly where they’ll be in the coming months: in similar title programs, fighting other tag-teams on Raw and Smackdown, or idling in the locker room?
- I really liked Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho, and I enjoyed Ambrose winning for once. Sure, it was a gimmicky match and, sure, a lot of it was built around which weapon would be used and when, but it was genuinely entertaining. Just when I thought it was going on for a bit long, they pulled out thumbtacks — thumbtacks! — on a TV-PG program and used them. It was painful to watch, but not in a bad way.
- If the WWE wants their women’s division to be taken seriously, then they have to stop finishing every match with a shitty ending. Ric Flair interfering or someone who looks like Ric Flair interfering works once or twice, but over the better part of a year, stuff tends to get old really fast. I do, however, look forward to seeing more of Dana Brooke, especially since she went from being injured to being on the main roster pretty quickly. I just wish there were more than one women’s match (or storyline) at a time, but a man can only dream.
- Rusev beat Kalisto and looked like an absolute monster while doing so. I doubt he’ll go back to the anti-American program he was in a year ago when he held the U.S. title, and I hope him winning places a bit more importance on the title than just a pre-show highlight.
- Baron Corbin does a good job of playing a heel. I just wish he was on the main show instead of the pre-show, wrestling someone other than Ziggler. But hey, at least he was at least on the show — Apollo Crews hasn’t been seen for weeks.
- The Club beat the Usos, because they needed to set up some intrigue for the main event. I saw the appeal of Anderson and Gallows in NJPW. I still don’t get why they’re in the WWE.
Overall, it was a pretty good show. I really wish they treated the women’s match(es?) with the same import as the men’s. “At least they got rid of that awful butterfly belt, right?” should not be the answer to that issue.
I also genuinely look forward to see what John Cena will be up to after sitting on the sidelines for months. Should Roman Reigns take some time off and stop appearing everywhere on WWE programming, perhaps I could say the same.