Well that was long. A long damn show. There have been definite pros and cons since the brand split between Raw and Smackdown took effect earlier this summer and transported us to the far flung future of 2003, but this “shared” PPV, the very elephantine girth of it, was probably the biggest blunder of them all.
I’ll try to avoid being a complete IWC bitch boy stick in the mud and start with the good, and there was a good, normal length 2 1/2 hour-ish PPV lurking in the innards of this nearly 6 hour (including the pre-show) whale of a broadcast, it was just hard to find amongst all the weird pacing and odd choices on display here.
1.) Finn Balor is your new WWE Universal Champion.
As dumb as the name and concept of a Universal belt is, and as fuck ugly as said belt turned out to be, putting it on the Demon (now the Demon King for, uh… reasons) was the right way to go. The former Bullet Club head honcho has made the transition from NXT god to main roster, main event attraction damn near completely unscathed, and this excellent match with fellow five star worker Seth Rollins has cemented his place in the company for what will hopefully be years to come.
Sponsored by Twizzlers.
2.) AJ beat Cena.
Which is to say, Cena put over AJ, showing his gracious elder statesman side again, just as he did when Kevin Owens (more about him later) initially debuted on the main roster. Regardless of the finish though, AJ Styles and John Cena definitely had a match of the year candidate, far and away the match of the show (though Finn and Rollins came close), and proof that despite its’ thin ranks and lack of tag and women’s titles (for now anyway) Smackdown has nothing to be ashamed of compared to Raw.
In the middle ground, quality wise were the WWE World and Women’s Championship matches, the former a decent if unspectacular affair with Dean Ambrose retaining against Dolph Ziggler like everyone pretty much assumed he would, spotlighting the pointlessness of the entire endeavor, and the latter a great match between Sasha Banks and Charlotte, followed by a head scratcher of a finish and online news that Sasha had been removed from the coming month’s worth of live appearances. Another questionable and mysterious suspension? Time will tell.
Erring further into the land of pointlessness were the seemingly endless abundance of non-title tag matches, padding out the show’s already excruciating four hour run time into mind numbing infinity. There was a Smackdown exclusive six woman tag (I’m not typing all the goddamn names, if you’ve made it this far into the article you probably sat through the fucking thing yourself) signifying the return of Nikki Bella (Yay?) and little else, a match that happened so late in the card (after the World Championship for fuck’s sake) that I’d assumed it was bumped off the show altogether.
Also, earlier in the card, where such things belong, was a match pitting Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens against Enzo and Big Cass. This whole setup was an excuse for Enzo to cut a promo that seemed to last 3 hours where he said New York things to the New York crowd. Look, I like Enzo but this was bad. Very bad. Enzo and Cass deserve much better, and Owens definitely does. Jericho, eh, whatever.
And now onto the bad, the extremely bad. The entire last hour of the show was very bad. Sloppy, meaningless brawls that advance no storylines, further no characters and again, signify nothing. Seriously. If you’re somehow watching the show after you read this turn it off after Balor and Rollins. You’ll be glad you did.
The first question we must ask is why on earth would you book a US Title match AFTER both your World and Universal title matches. Last time I checked, the World and the Universe were bigger and more important than the US. Trump’s not in office yet, is he? Maybe they brought back the European Championship and that match is on now, as I write this, an hour after the show went off the air. These are my jokes.
That US Title confrontation between Rusev (Yay!) and Roman Reigns (Boo!) never even properly began as the two men brawled for what seemed like an eternity before a gang of referees descended to the ringside area to break up the whole thing. This type of non-match does, possibly, incrementally further their feud (based entirely on Roman douching up RuRu and Lana’s stupid in-ring wedding thing like the douchiest douche that ever douched), and would’ve been okay, maybe, in the middle of the show. But at the top of the fifth straight hour of this shit it was just insulting.
And now, the main event. Despite the pointlessness (there’s that word again) of the highly advertised (anticipated isn’t a word I’m using) match between over the hill part timers Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton, everyone knew that this would be the last match on the card despite not being the unique and interesting pair-up and that everyone really wanted to see (that would be Balor and Rollins), and this turned out to be almost as much of a mess as Roman and RuRu’s Wedding Cake Catastrophe.
Look, don’t get me wrong, I like Lesnar. I like how he’s a giant asshole that beats the shit out of everyone. And that’s basically exactly what happened to good old Randy, Brock leaving him comatose in a puddle of his own sick and then F-5-ing resident salt and pepper daddy Shane McMahon for good measure. Again, this is usually entertaining, but not 6 hours into this thing. Dump it before the Universal Championship. Everyone says “wow that’s crazy isn’t it?”. The let Balor and Rollins put on the real match, let everyone go to bed happy. It doesn’t seem like that complicated of a concept to grasp. Is it?
The only entertaining thing about it was the hilarious incongruity of Orton convulsing and bleeding seemingly to death while the network continued to hawk the post-SS premiere of Mick Foley’s new feel good family reality show “Holy Foley”, a program that features zero in the way of blood sputtering blunt force head trauma, I’d assume. Mick’s death match days are unfortunately long behind him.
I’m not going to join the chorus of “it was too violent” or ” was it a shoot”, with Brock that’s what you’re paying for, and I’m not mad at it, it just wasn’t, in my opinion, main event material. WWE’s seasonal “big four” PPVs are usually wholly entertaining, and as such I go out of my way to watch them live. But this bloated, disjointed affair spells doom for that concept, and with even more “network specials” on the way due to the brand split, I fear I’ll be “enjoying” this content just like I do the rest of WWE’s “quality” programming. After a couple of hours’ delay and with judicious fast forwarding.