What’s up, CF’ers? It’s time for the 34th straight edition of Week in Review! I couldn’t get the Payback review out in time, but I thought the event was mostly solid. There weren’t any Match of the Year contenders, but none of them were piss poor either. Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt was the best match of the night for me, and the main event also had some good moments. It continued the trend of better than average PPVs, though the weekly shows leading up to it were also solid. And guess what, we’re on the road to yet another PPV, although it’s only a Network Special this time with Elimination Chamber. We’d talk about that in this week’s column. Also, a new edition of Impact didn’t air in USA this week, as Destination America chose to replay last year’s Slammiversary XII instead. The international edition did have a few new matches, but nobody has had the decency of uploading it on the internet yet. You can read my review of Slammiversary XII HERE, and I might add my thoughts on Impact tomorrow if I’m able to catch the new show when it airs in India on Monday night. We’ve still got 4 shows to talk about, so let’s start another edition of…
(Credits to Wrestlinsight Gav!)
Week iN Review
Talking Point of the Night: The Authority returned to RAW this week and celebrated Seth Rollins’ retention of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Payback. Dean Ambrose, though, had other plans as he brought up how he defeated Rollins on RAW a few weeks ago and that he was ready to grant the champ a rematch, but only if the title was on the line. Kane let Rollins decide who his opponent will be, but after Dean made fun of the DOO, he was put in a match against Bray Wyatt.
Like their previous series of matches from end 2014/early 2015, the two had a hard hitting affair here. One thing I’ve found about their matches is that they’re constantly doing something and never have any empty periods during their matches. That was evident here as well as they showed the chemistry that was developing between them towards the end of their feud. Wyatt hasn’t lost more than a couple singles matches ever since his return in October last year and he got the win here as well, but only after the interference of J&J Security. Dean and Bray put the time that they got to good use, and added another chapter to their long running rivalry.
In the closing segment of the night, Kane presented a special montage celebrating Rollins’ career so far featuring Conniption’s “Let the Wolf Out”. It was a good video package. Ambrose crashed the party and threatened Rollins that there would be repercussions if he didn’t get the title match. Stephanie sent Seth on Dean, but the latter got the upper hand and put Rollins’ skull on stake over a stack of cinder blocks. The Authority finally relented and the match was set for Elimination Chamber, but Rollins had the last laugh as he put Ambrose down with a Pedigree.
I like how they are keeping Ambrose relevant here as he was easily the most popular guy of the 3 challengers at Payback. This might just be a temporary feud, but just like the build before Payback, it is keeping Ambrose’s momentum intact, whilst also promising a great match at the end of it. Rollins and Ambrose have unfinished business from last year, and it’s great that we’re getting another match between the two. Elimination Chamber is next Sunday, which is mind-bogglingly early, but at least we don’t have to wait much.
Honorable Mentions: Speaking of things that I can’t wait for, Kevin Owens apparently answered John Cena’s US Title Open Challenge on RAW, but ended up attacking him instead. Owens was there to make it clear to Cena that the latter shouldn’t take credit for hurting Sami Zayn, and that it was the NXT Champion who injured the Montreal native. KO then refused to take up Cena’s challenge and gave a fantastic promo about how Cena can never give him advice as he was doing this longer than Cena. Soon after, KO dropped John with a Pop-up Powerbomb and proceeded to stomp on the US Title. It doesn’t get more badass than that!
I could have waited more for this encounter, but I can’t say that I’m not excited as heel for it. This was one of the best main roster debuts we’ve seen in a while and although it might seem too fast forwarded for many; we had a great bit of cross promotion with this. It’s one of the most exciting pairings of the current roster, and something tells me that this wouldn’t be the last of it. So, yeah, I think it’d be just fine.
Another good match saw Sheamus defeat Ryback. I don’t think we’ve seen these two as opponents before, so it was largely fresh for all of us. It was another brawl and overall, this was a good week for old school fans. We had reports last year, I think, where this match was discussed for WrestleMania, so it was good to see it finally being realized and Ryback was impressive once again. I was a huge fan of his selling at Payback and he was good in that department here as well. Sheamus also had a nice bit of shine and got a win over an injured opponent with a Brogue Kick. The Elimination Chamber match for the Intercontinental Title promises to be a brilliant outing for all, though I’m a bit miffed at the exclusion of Neville. Still, Rusev, Ziggler and Ryback would get a nice platform to bounce back with, so I’m looking forward to it.
Marty “The Moth” Martinez made his in-ring debut this week, and though he tricked the LU champion, Prince Puma, at the start of the match, the latter picked up a quick win nonetheless. I was a bit confused at how stupid they made Puma look here, but it was fair that they didn’t let the match continue for long. Marty was actually impressive in a few of his spots, but he’ll only serve as comic relief for the promotion, or at least I hope. Puma now needs to set his sights on Hernandez who he’ll defend the title against next week.
Daivari also got to make his official debut as his match with Texano actually happened this time. I was not a fan of this as I think these two are the blandest characters LU has now and pairing them didn’t work at all. At least this ended quickly as Big Ryck attacked Texano. I like the notion of Ryck being a mercenary, but this feud doesn’t jive with me.
In the main event, Angelico, Son of Havoc and an injured Ivelisse defended the Trios Championship versus The Crew in a Ladder Match. It’s been a long while since we’ve seen the stip in LU, so it was nice to see the gimmick back. This wasn’t as good as the earlier match that these two teams had, but it was exciting regardless. Though Ivelisse didn’t participate, the 5 men had insane chemistry here, going through the spots with ease. Cisco got sent through the cardboard-ed office window of Dario Cueto, Havoc almost broke his neck on a SSP on the table and Angelico did this…
The guy’s legit!
This was 14 minutes of pure fun and while it might be a little too gimmicky for some, it was LU at its best. This didn’t reach the levels of the best LU main events till date, but was definitely worth the while. In the end, Ivelisse hopped with one leg to the top as Angelico excellently held the ladder from underneath and Havoc stopped Cisco from climbing. The latter part is proof of how psychologically strong the trios champs are. Their title win saw Ivelisse guide them to a win like a village elder, and this time, she waited until the very last moment to do the task they were out to do here. She let the 5 men rain hell on each other, and then swiftly grabbed the titles.
Next week, Fenix and Mil Muertes will meet again in Death Match, and Chavo Guerrero also showed up this week in a little segment with Black Lotus and El Dragon Azteca.
A Brief Review of NXT Takeover:
1. Finn Bálor def. Tyler Breeze to become the #1 Contender for the NXT Championship: Bálor’s entrance was great as ever, but Breeze gave him good competition with a faux cat walk. That was actually broadcasted on Periscope as it happened. This wasn’t better than their match from Axxess, but it was more than serviceable. I was expecting a Breeze win here, but Finn’s undefeated streak as the Demon had to continue. The latter kicking out of the Beauty Shot was a legit popping moment, though; as I was sure the match was over then. One thing I found irksome was the crowd chanting “Please Don’t Die” as Finn jumped from like 8 feet and only connected with a clothesline. The standards have certainly gone down. Still, this was a nice opener and served to kick the night off fluently.
2. Charlotte and Bayley def. Dana Brooke and Emma: I was concerned about Dana making her Specials debut so early, and those weren’t unfounded here. She didn’t do much here at all and I was a little agitated at not getting the one-on-one payoff to Bayley and Emma’s feud. She’s too green to be featured in a show like this and had this been kept as a simple contest, and had they let the Charlotte/Dana feud build for a few weeks, more could have come out of this. This was the weakest match of the night by default and if this was the last match that Charlotte had in NXT, it was greatly underwhelming.
3. Baron Corbin def. Rhyno: Many have gone on to say that this was Corbin’s best performance till date, and I heartily agree. It’s curious because I’ve felt that Baron has always had this in him, but somehow never got to show it versus other opponents. In fact, his previous best performance – against Neville – was also versus someone who was willing to sell his offense with panache. Bull Dempsey lacked that as I’m sure he must have been thinking about his own credibility. Rhyno doesn’t need to do that as he’s been specifically chosen for this role, and I was glad to see this work out. This borrowed traits from Ryback/Wyatt from Payback, and was a success close to that level.
4. NXT Tag Champions Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy def. The Realest Guys in the Room: This was better than I expected it to be, mostly because I was surprised at the offense that Enzo Amore got. The dynamic between him and Colin keeps on developing on a weekly basis, and if they are to become the flag bearers of the NXT, and the main roster, tag team division, it’s highly important. Mind numbing entrance aside, the tag champs also played nicely to the strengths of each other and this was a fine, standard tag match. The twist at the end with Alexa Bliss’ turn was also out of left field, and I think I might like it quite a bit. The gal surely needed something to sink her teeth into and the change in dynamic between her and Carmella might be a great story after all.
5. NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks def. Becky Lynch: Much has been said about this match so far, and I think I might be a bit more underwhelmed than most. One thing I have to say is that Becky was just awesome here. Charlotte might be leaving NXT soon, so it was excellent to see her take the mantle here and shine. She was great in the Fatal 4 Way at RIVAL and then the Triple Threat versus Bayley and Charlotte, but this was just on another level. Her work on Sasha’s arm, especially with the innovative holds like a leg lock while lying on her back, was great to see. But, ultimately, this missed a couple of key points. Like mizfan greatly pointed out in his article on the match, the psychology was a bit lost at times, mostly in the way how Banks focused on Lynch’s arm throughout the match, but got an easy tapout with her usual submission. The latter was also irksome because Becky was so close to the ropes in the end and could have easily extended her legs outside the ring. A couple of botches were also noticed, but in light of how strong the other parts were, they can be ignored. At best this was a star making performance for Lynch and the crowd response proved that, and at worst this was close to being the 3rd or 4th best women’s match in NXT so far. It was awesome, indeed, but not really a classic.
6. NXT Champion Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn ended in a No Contest: I loved, loved, loved Zayn’s intensity here; that’s exactly what was needed from this. Shoulder injury and all, Zayn took the fight to KO right from the get go and never let up. We also saw the first NXT match that went into the crowd and these guys just keep proving that their main roster futures are secure. This was the exact opposite of the RIVAL match as Zayn had Owens fully scouted, and never let the latter gain any sort of advantage… until the pop-up powerbomb. The Half and Half Slam is a thing of beauty and I can only imagine how painful it must have been on the injured shoulder. I was expecting them to go all out with this, but even the non result was well executed. And of course we got the debut of the year with Samoa Joe’s arrival to NXT. I was impressed at how WWE kept it a secret by filling the internet with the news that Joe was appearing at a few indy events in August. In fact, Joe has a deal where he can work indy date even while being employed with WWE; that’s a first and I’m sure it’ll open the door for other performers even at an advanced age.
Unstoppable wasn’t the best NXT Special yet, but it was more fluid than the rest. There wasn’t one poor match in this and it provided for some stunning moments indeed. NXT keeps getting bigger and bigger, and Owens debut on RAW was proof at how it has begun to penetrate the main roster now.
Talking Point of the Night: In a chaotic 10 minute match, The Lucha Dragons defeated The Ascension, Los Matadores and the Brass Ring Club in a Four Corners Match. Ahead of the first ever tag team Elimination Chamber match; this was a great preview of sorts where the Dragons shined greatly. Their tandem offense, like Sin Cara’s corkscrew splash on the outside or Kalisto’s reverse cover on Fernando was great and made up for their absence from TV in the past few weeks. Prime Time Players and The New Day also contributed on commentary, and PTP’s popularity on RAW must have been eye opening for many. It proves that a slowburn push can really mean something even at this age as Titus and Darren’s promos on the rest of the division really seems to have connected with the masses.
The Chamber match has me really excited as I have been wishing for a tag team match for the gimmick for a long time. It’s a great way to use the structure and also rejuvenates it a bit. Even with the lack of build, the PPV has been filled with some really enticing matches and might as well turn out to be one of the best of the year. I can’t express how happy I am that the Chamber matches are going to the midcard divisions for once and them being showcased in over 30 minute matches can never be bad at all. It’ll the time to shine for a lot of guys and I’m eagerly looking forward to see it all materialize.
Honorable Mention: Roman Reigns made his “return” on SmackDown and entered himself into this year’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Dean Ambrose came out to give a note to Reigns that he’d be the WWEWHC by then, but Kane played spoilsport here and denied Roman the MitB spot. He then booked a rematch between Bray and Dean, but the Lunatic Fringe was rather pleased about it. Indeed the match wasn’t better than the one on RAW, but again had the usual fluidity you’d expect from the duo. The end saw J&J Security interfering but Reigns evened the scales and Superman Punched Wyatt to allow Ambrose to hit Dirty Deeds for the win.
1. Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose (RAW)
2. Ryback vs. Sheamus
3. Kevin Owens Debuts on RAW
4. Trios Championship Ladder Match: Angelico, Son of Havoc and Ivelisse © vs. The Crew
5. NXT Takeover: Unstoppable – 05/20/15
6. Four Corners Tag Team Match: The Lucha Dragons def. The Ascension, The Brass Ring Club and Los Matadores
Hey, Sub, Who Impressed You the Most This Week?
Kevin Owens was brilliant both on RAW and Unstoppable this week.
Hey, Sub, Which Was The Best Show Of The Week?
NXT Takeover: Unstoppable obviously was the best of the week, but RAW continued its top form.
That’s it for this time, folks. I might add the Impact review if I can watch it tomorrow, and I will have another column in the middle of the week and the usual Week in Review in the end. Comments will be greatly appreciated. Take care!