WWE’s first PPV of the year is behind us now, which means the main event for WrestleMania is set barring a big change of plan from the WWE and given the feeling for the end of this show worldwide that could very be on the cards. But lets breakdown what was a good PPV, with a difficult and unfathomable end.
This is the first time I have watched a kickoff show for any WWE PPV, but having signed up to the network it made sense to check it out. I was really happy with the build they gave the show here, as Booker T and Byran Saxton were great in giving each of the matches and competitors their dues prior to any action and Renee Young is brilliant in her hosting role and really does add something to the product- maybe its because the WWE is finally pushing a woman who knows the business in a powerful role but she really does have a bright future based on her credentials and ability so far.
Tyson Kidd & Cesaro vs New Day
Going in this kickoff show match I fully expected the WWE to give New Day the win here as they seem to be building them for something, despite their gimmick not having caught on at all. However what we got was a really good showing from Cesaro & Kidd, and this should surprise no-one as they are two of the most under utilised wrestlers on the card. They looked grat as team, and have some very unique double team moves- swing into a dropkick comes to mind, and these only help the crowd to get massively behind them which was the case here today. The win for Cesaro & Kidd was big, not only because the fans wanted it but also because it may hopefully mean they can move up from feuding and losing to New Day and move towards the titles now. This was easily the right call from a talent standpoint.
New Age Outlaws vs Ascension
This was the right choice to open the live show, as the fans were instantly behind the NAO and really devoured every moment of nostalgia in the entrance and promo that they cut before the arrival of the Ascension. Billy Gunn and Road Dogg looked good in the match too, taking the early advantage and getting a “you’ve still got it” chant from the crowd before everything started to change and the Ascension seemed to find their foot hold within the match and begin to take over. The Ascension made very short work of the NAO once they began on offense and managed to hit the ‘fall of man’ from almost nowhere for the win and to hopefully end the burying that the WWE has done of this team so far. My only complaint with this match was the commentary as all through the match their was little talk of the Ascensions talent and being the longest reigning NXT champions of all time meaning that everything being said felt like they were continuing to bury them right off the bat. Yet once the match ended JBL did a great job of making this win seem important and stating that maybe they could be the next big thing in time- this is what we need to be hearing more of as the Ascension move forward and hopefully grab themselves a few more important wins over real teams and not local jobbers.
WWE Tag Team Championships- Uso’s vs Miz & Mizdow
This wasnt the best match between this pairing, however the crowds love for Mizdow managed to keep the match alive and exciting as every time that Miz looked set to tag him in the crowd became instantly hot for this moment only to have it denied by the heelish nature of Miz. It was this relationship between Mi and Mizdow that would take the centre stage for this match, it’s not because the action was poor as there were some exchanges of moves between Miz and Jimmy/Jey that led to several exciting near falls. Mizdows finally got into the match to save Miz and delivered a great 30seconds of offense that looked set to allow his team to win, unfortunately that wasnt the case and Miz ended up taking the pin for the Uso’s to retain. This was the right result, as its clear that Miz and Mizdow are due to split but the action here was backseat to the story and could have easily been told on a televised show rather than a PPV. I’m also hoping that the botched suicide dive hasn’t caused any injury as it did look nasty at the time, but Jimmy seemed ok afterwards so lets hope this is the case and the Uso’s get themselves a new team to feud with.
Bella Twins vs Paige & Natalya
This was the oddest match on the card (excluding the Rumble) in terms of the booking and the final decision as it made no sense from a storyline perspective or from an actual booking sense in terms of exciting action. We got a 10minute match here that featured the Bellas taking it turns to beat on Natalya, while the crowd was eager for the hot tag to Paige and for the tide to turn. Despite this we didn’t actual get to see Paige in action after the first 3minute sof the match- as the match ended with Brie pulling her off the apron so Nikki could hit Natalya with the forearm shot for the pin- if it sounds odd that’s because it was! Before this occurs we did get to see Natalya tag in Paige, however she claimed it had never happened and the match continued as so- even Natalya and Brie continued to wrestle as though it hadn’t occurred which was a really odd moment to witness. Check it out for yourselves below:
I feel that this may be used to set-u a Paige and Natalya feud and am hoping it isn’t just an odd moment of wrong timing and forgotten plans that will cause some punishment to one individual. This match was the poorest on the card, and the poor work of Brie didn’t help at all or the odd Heel team winning scenario. This left the end of the match feeling flat, but im still hopeful we get Charlotte stroll up and take the Championship sooner rather than later.
WWE World Heacyweight Championship- Brock Lesnar (C) vs John Cena vs Seth Rollins
Lets get this sorted from the very beginning- this is a match that in 11months time we will all be discussing as a possible match of they year it was that damn good! Everyone knew coming into this that the match had a ton of potential and that the talent involved could really step-up here and deliver a true main event, and that’s exactly what happened as this match had everything you want from everyone involved. The match started with Lesnar showing just how powerful and dominant he can be as he easily threw both men around the ring with German suplexes and snap suplexes (actually threw Cena from one side to the other with a snap suplex) and looked like he could end the match in the first 10minutes at the rate he was decimating his opponents. However we then got a small team up from Cena and Rollins to quell the beast temporarily and allow these two men to battle each other. Lesnar then suffered 3AA’s, was speared through the barricade, thrown into the steps, curb stomped and finally elbow dropped through the announce table before he could be put out of the match for a decent amount of time. We then got a good section of back and forth between Cena and Rollins that showed the best of both men- Cena in his I can win at any moment and Rollins athleticism and heelish nature. We then got an amazing 450inverted splash from Rollins that looked set to end the match before Lesnar reappeared to break up the pin and show just how dominant he can be in retaining the title.
Along the way we also got some more great moments- Rollins spring-board Knee to Lesnar and Cena, Lesnar kicking out of the AA at a 1count and getting right up, Rollins landing on his feet from a german suplex- the list goes on. This match was the best main event the WWE has given us in a long time. Dont believe me then have a look for yourself
See?! This is easily the highlight of the show and of the last 9months in the WWE. Do I agree that Lesnar was the right call, not necessarily as I would have loved Rollins year of amazing work to be crowned with gold on Sunday- but after the performance from Lesnar its hard to argue he doesn’t deserve the gold and that you want to watch whatever he does going forward, and that the point I guess.
Royal Rumble Match
This is where the show should become exciting, and for the first half of the rumble it was with some great performances and surprise entrants. But if you really want to see how badly the WWE universe doesn’t want to be told who they should be cheering for and supporting just watch the last half of this match as the well-educated wrestling fans of Philadelphia showed their immense displeasure at the result.
I’m going to do the obvious bit first, Roman Reigns was not the right call to win the Rumble and go onto WrestleMania! And the crowd really let the WWE know this with their almost immediate negative reaction to him the moment his music played and he entered. And the reaction as he was finally announced as the winner of the Royal Rumble the crowds negativity became anger and frustration that was audible to all watching. Roman Reigns was not ready for this push, he has been out injured for most of last year and hasn’t yet been battled tested against anyone else within the WWE to prove he can main event a show against the Beast ‘Brock Lesnar,’ and boy did the fans let the WWE know that they are not willing to accept this. Do i blame Roman Reigns for this- hell no! It’s not his fault that the WWE has decided he is the man, or that they are booking him like a John Cena impersonator with his set 5moves that can finish of his opponents leading to the spear and its also not his fault that he has been pushed too fast and too soon before anyone is ready and willing to accept him. In fact i feel a little sorry for him- this should have been his break out moment, as he is headlining WrestleMania but instead everyone has made him the biggest heel on the roster to the point that even an appearance from the Rock couldn’t save him from the Boo’s. And his interview in the fallout show, was mainly conducted by the Rock while he looked somber and a little dejected at the reaction to the win.
This unfortunately was inevitable the moment the WWE announced Bryan was returning to the ring and entering the Rumble, as last year title reign was cut short due to injury everyone felt he deserved the chance to repeat that success this year. What made it worse was the way in which Bryan, Ambrose and Ziggler (All fan favourites in the match) were eliminated from the rumble in a meaningless and un-ceremonial way that received no reaction other than ‘They’ve been eliminated.’ We got no camera angles of them looking dejected or upset we just got the match moving on and them beng forgotten about as we focused on Regins power moves or Big Show and Kane knocking everyone out. Even Bray Wyatt who had been in there looking strong for around 35minutes got eliminated in a KO punch and thrown over the top moment of “What the F” that left you feeling that the whole rumble was merely a vehicle to push Roman Reigns. Wyatt was looking strong and being built well, all for it to fall apart in the end and become meaningless.
The live crowd was never buying the finish, we got “CM Punk” chants just to tell the WWE they weren’t happy, then after the chorus of Boos there was even a “We Want Rusev” chant towards the end when they realised he hadn’t been eliminated and was in the final two- this shows you had bad things had gotten as everyone has hated Rusev for months for his anti-american gimmick. So to suddenly have the live crowd chant for him tells you how little they loved Reigns guaranteed win, and the whole #canelthewwenetwork trending worldwide as #1 shows you how wrong the WWE got the booking of their first show of the year.
On a positive note however the appearances of Bubba Ray Dudley, The Boogeyman and DDP all worked well and the crowd loved it (it happened in the first half obviously) and gave the rumble some much-needed injections of brilliance before it all went wrong and fell flat on its face. But who didn’t love seeing Bubba and RTruth hitting the best of Dudley Boyz moves- absolutely brilliant few minutes of action.
Overall this was a good show that was almost completely ruined by one moment of madness in the booking and planning of the future by the higher-ups with WWE. Few people are actively singing the praises of the triple threat as the Rumble came last and left a very sour taste in the mouths of wrestling fans, and this is what everyone is talking about. Its worth seeing the show- mainly for the title match, but also to watch the rumble crowd turn massively.
What WWE does now is of massive importance as if last year showed anything it’s that the fans wont take nonsense that is booked poorly, and with other wrestling now starting to garner international coverage there are more options to watch now than every before! Do i belive the WWE can turn this around- of course they can (WrestleMania 30 managed it with Bryan) but they need to do it fast.