It’s no secret to even a super casual wrestling fan like myself that the WWE’s product hasn’t been terribly popular with hardcore fans as of late. While everybody seems to love monstrous former UFC Champion Brock Lesnar as the top guy, they don’t necessarily love how he’s been booked, from being the one to beat Undertaker’s legendary streak at last year’s Mania to putting him up against the, as Stone Cold Steve Austin would say, “greener than goose shit” Roman Reigns this year.
There’s a lot to be desired in the mid card as well with the company line seemingly trying to re-establish the importance of the Intercontinental Title but, again, the booking telling another story. The treatment of Sting has been curious as well. The no brainer would’ve of course been to have the Stinger face the Undertaker in a match that would see them both walk off into the sunset afterwards. But no, Taker’s in a feud (if you can call it that, he hasn’t appeared on WWE TV since last Mania) with resident Deliverance reject Bray Wyatt and Sting is inexplicably facing Triple H. Something about bad blood left over from the Monday Night Wars. Riiiiiiiiight.
So it was with some trepidation that I approached last night’s show, but, to my surprise, it was actually really good. Smart booking on the big matches, all around flawless athletic performances, and, with the exception of one pointless segment involving The Rock being there to plug Fast & Furious 12 or whatever the hell it is, a startling lack of bullshit.
The 7 Man Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title was first big contest of the night. R Truth, Bad News Barrett, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, fan favorite Daniel Bryan and personal favorite Stardust descended upon a ring just absolutely covered in ladders. This match was a mess but in the best way possible, bringing to mind classic Attitude Era ladder wars involving Mick Foley and the Hardy Boys. Soon enough it was Ziggler and Bryan at the top of a ladder in the center of the ring head butting each other to death, but they don’t call Bryan “The Goat” for nothin’ and he gained gold at Mania for the second year in a row. I hope the company can put it’s money where it’s mouth is regarding elevating the IC Strap, if anybody can do it, it’s the “Yes” man.
Randy Orton then bested Seth Rollins in a fast paced and highly entertaining match with one of the coolest finishes I’ve seen in a while, involving Orton reversing Rollins’ Curb Stomp into a high flying, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it RKO. Orton gets the W but this isn’t the last we’ll see of Rollins…
I love the Terminator franchise, and I’ve never had anything against Trips, but this was pretty lame.
After a Diva’s Match (yawn) and Cena Match (snore) it was time for HHH to face Sting. We’ll call this one “Monday Night Clusterfuck” I half expected to see a “TNT” bug at the bottom of the screen. A decent match against two road warriors saw both DX and NwO run in to interfere. Black and white NwO runs in to defend Sting? Sure, why not. In the end HHH got the win, which makes sense if Sting’s sticking around for another angle or two but seems kinda pointless if this was a one and done for the Stinger.
Undertaker vs. Wyatt was similarly confusing. A great match with Taker looking a hundred times better than he did last year against Lesnar. But Taker pinning Wyatt leaves a lot of questions on the table. Is this Taker’s last match for another year? Last match ever? Where does that leave a great ring and mic worker who’s on TV every week like Wyatt?
Finally it was the main event with Brock Lesnar defending his World Title against Roman Reigns, or more like Lesnar throwing Reigns around like a little kid. It was kind of sad. No it was awesome. Reigns was able to mount a little bit of a comeback, nailing Lesnar with a trio of Superman Punches and a Spear before being put back down with a second F-5. Enter Seth Rollins. Choosing the most opportune moment possible to cash in his “Money in the Bank” briefcase and claim his title shot, Tossing Reigns out of the ring and Curb Stomping a near-unconscious Lesnar for the pin fall and win.
It was an unexpectedly great finish to an unexpectedly great PPV.
Can WWE keep up the momentum? Probably not. Brock just re-upped his contract, but Sting and Taker are probably at least gone for now if not gone for good. However, if they can keep the Intercontinental and World Title races as interesting as the matches were tonight, I might have to start DVRing Raw.