Recorded for Superstars:
– Jack Swagger went over Adam Rose in about an 8 minute match. Finish saw Rose put on an ankle lock which Swagger countered to an ankle lock of his own.
– Stardust went over Fandango in a 10 minute match with his finish. Lots of chants for “Cody” and “let’s go Cody”.
The Big Takeaway:
A show that was a little great, a little bad, a little weird and a little surreal. Demon Kane wrestled and defeated Seth Rollins in a lumberjack match in the main event. Corporate Kane booked the match after HHH and Stephanie McMahon, who never got to the arena or appeared on the show due to “transportation issues,” told him he was in command. Later, HHH and Stephanie ordered Corporate Kane not to wrestle Rollins. The strange moment of the night was Rusev getting jobbed out in 3:00 by Ryback, then getting totally buried by Summer Rae days after the news of his very real engagement to Lana gained mainstream publicity. John Cena had his latest great U.S. Open Challenge match with Dolph Ziggler.
Corporate Kane was backstage where the Authority was on speakerphone just leaving on a plane. Stephanie could be heard berating an airline attendant. HHH told Kane to handle the show until they arrived. Kane wished them a safe flight, and called over a stage manager. Kane told her to inform Seth Rollins that he would face Kane tonight in a lumberjack match, so they were hot shotting stuff right off the bat.
Dean Ambrose came out and said he wanted to fight someone. Randy Orton came out. Crowd reacted strong to him, but also started “Let’s Go Cubs.” Orton said Ambrose that at Hell in a Cell, Ambrose would face Braun Strowman and Luke Harper, and Orton would be his partner. Ambrose said the line to fight the Wyatt Family starts behind him and told Orton to follow his lead and they would be fine.
Orton told Amrbose that he should follow Orton’s lead. Ambrose said he wasn’t big on trusting Orton. Orton said he wasn’t big on trusting himself. As they argued off mic, the New Day came out. Xavier Woods reminded Orton and Ambrose that the New Day left Dolph Ziggler, John Cena and the Dudley Boyz laying last week. Woods taunted Ambrose that the Shield never did that, and Big E. said Legacy, the Authority or Evolution never did that. Woods asked Orton how many groups had been in, and said Orton brings new meaning to the term “groupee.” Woods said Ambrose and Orton should make like Derek Rose and go sit on the bench.
Kane appeared on the TitonTron and ordered an immediate tag team match.
The New Day defeated Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton (17:51)
Ambrose and Orton argued during the match, including when they took turns stomping Big E. Ambrose got a hot tag and did a tope on Kofi Kingston and Big E. Later, Woods held Orton’s leg, and Ambrose did a tope on him, as well. The finish was Orton gave Kingston the Draping DDT and went for the RKO, but Big E. ran in to prevent it. Ambrose tried to stopped Big E., but Kingston threw Orton into Ambrose, and Kingston pinned Orton with a schoolboy cradle.
There was a package for the Undertaker-Brock Lesnar main event. It couldn’t compare to the buildup for SummerSlam. We’re supposed to believe the history between the two started at last year’s WrestleMania, even though their original program was in 2002.
Before the Nikki Bella-Naomi match, they showed highlights from the Sasha Banks-Bailey match from NXT Takeover Respect, which included reviews from mainstream media outlets like Rolling Stone and Miami Herald. It was a good idea, but with horrible timing. Crowd chanted “We Want Sasha” during the match, and Michael Cole wondered how Naomi felt about that like Team BAD was going to going to break up. Then they chanted “You can’t wrestle” while the match was going on. it wasn’t that bad.
Nikki Bella defeated Naomi (4:56)
The gimmick is Team Bella is trying to break up Team BAD just like Team PCB fractured because of Paige. After Naomi hit a tope (3rd time already for that move in the first hour) on Nikki and Alisha Fox, Brie Bella got up on the commentator’s table and tried to lead another “We Want Sasha” chant. Sasha tripped Brie off the table. Naomi got distracted. Nikki hit the Rack Attack. Pin.
Byron Saxton asked fans who the most unconventional superstar in the WWE is. Everyone said either Paige or Ambrose. This led to Saxton doing a backstage interview with Paige, who grabbed a Payday candy bar out of his jacket and took a bite. This was a product placement bit.
John Cena came out. Crowd booed the hell out of him. Cena started dancing beside a fan singing “John Cena Sucks.” Cena said he loved the AllState Arena because his first WWE match was in that building. It came time for the open challenge and this week’s opponent was Ziggler.
During the opening minutes of the match, the crowd seemed distracted and popped. Cena grabbed the microphone and acknowledged that a fan proposed to his girlfriend in the crowd, and she said yes. Cena congratulated the new couple as the match was going on and the fans chanted “She said yes.”
John Cena (C) defeated Dolph Zigger to retain the U.S. Championship (17:32)
An excellent match that Cena won wiith the AA. Lots of kicking out of near falls. Ziggler continues to work like Shawn Michaels, this time stomping his leg to tease the Superkick. Plenty of kicking out of finishers. Ziggler hit a superkick and Zig Zag, both for near falls. Cena kicked out of the Zig Zag, the two struggled to their feet, and Cena immediately hit the AA for the pin. After one near fall by Ziggler, JBL started talking about how he felt Ziggler was going to win, which naturally gave away the finish. Vince McMahon used to do that on play-by-play and it always telegraphed the ending.
Stephanie and HHH called Kane again to say they were stil far away from the arena. Kane didn’t tell them he had booked his own match against Rollins.
The Dudley Boyz defeated the Ascension (2:42)
Devon Dudley pinned Viktor after the 3-D. Bubba Ray Dudley held up Viktor for the Doomsday Device since they were in Chicago as a tribute to the Road Warriors.
Sheamus and King Barrett defeated Cesaro and Neville (3:48)
Crowd was hot while it lasted, particularly for Cesaro. Finish came out of nowhere. Neville tried to pin Sheamus with a cradle. Sheamus kicked out so hard, his legs pushed Neville to the ropes, where Cesaro gave him the Bullhammer Elbow, and Sheamus pinned him.
Roman Reigns came out for an interview. He basically explained his program with Bray Wyatt from the beginning. Crowd gave him the “what” treatment, and he appeared really annoyed by it. He snapped at them “Can you not hear me?” Then the fans chanted boring. He looked preturbed but stuck to the script. Wyatt came out and said Reigns had a massacre waiting for him at Hell in a Cell. Reigns said he agreed, but when they lock the cell, Wyatt was going to wish he was trapped with anyone but him. The fans booed. And this man is supposed to be the chosen one in six months? As if things couldn’t get any worse, after this interview died he had to wrestle Strowman. They might as well have put a piano on his back and told him to run wind sprints trying to carry Strowman to something decent.
Roman Reigns defeated Braun Strowman by countout (7:50)
It was a struggle. Laregly a punch-and-kick match until it spilled out to the floor. Reigns hit Harper and Wyatt, then ran off the ring steps to deliver the Superman Punch to Strowman, which knocked him down into the announcer’s table. Strowman got counted out. Two hours into the show and this was the first match all night where the crowd was completely dead.
Wyatt looked in Reigns’ face and said “Follow the Buzzards.” Reigns punched him and walked to the back.
HHH called Kane to tell them they were getting close to the building. HHH’s cell phone recepton was poor. He repeatedly asked Kane what the main event was. Kane told him Seth Rolllins was in a lumberjack match against Kane. HHH only heard that Rollins was in a lumberjack match, but didn’t hear who he would be facing before his line went dead.
Ryback defeated Rusev (3:05)
Ths was one of those weird segments where fantasy and reality collide. Only in wrestling could a segment like this happen. It was six minutes of Rusev being punished on live national television for getting engaged to his longtime girlfriend. First, Ryabck pinned him clean with a Shellshock, without question the cleanest job Rusev has ever done.
If that wasn’t enough, Summer Rae came into the ring and cut Vince McMahon’s promo for him. She showed the TMZ headline where it was announced that Rusev and Lana had been engaged for over a month, then totally castrated him as a selfish user who manipulated her for months. All Rusev could do was stand there and take it, and then Summer slapped him and walked off. In this age where Kayfabe has been dead and buried, that was surreal television. How they get Rusev back on track as a killer after this segment is beyond me, which may have been the intent. Ziggler was never mentioned by Summer, though Michael Cole mentioned Lana in passing during his match with Cena earlier. I guess that angle where Summer snuck into his shower will have to stand as his storyline breakup.
Kevin Owens defeated Kalisto (3:54)
Crowd sure liked Kevin Owens, who won with the Pop Up Power Bomb. Kalisto bumped all over the palce, including going for a somersault huracanrana outside the ring, only to have Owens dump him on the floor. Kalisto made a good comebck and it was a good match considering the style difference. Of course, Owens has had very good matches with guys of all sizes for years.
Brie Bella and Alicia Fox defeated Charlotte and Becky Lynch (3:05)
Paige was at ringside on commentary. Natalya is now with Charlotte and Becky Lynch, and they’re called Team NBC. Paige, however, says she never left Team PCB. Natalya started arguing with Nikki Bella outside the ring. Paige shoved Natalya. Charlotte got distracted, and Brie pinned her with a dropkick off the second rope. Two distraction finishes in both the Divas matches. And Charlotte does her second job in two weeks. These people have no idea how to get the Divas over.
HHH and Stephanie got in touch with Kane again. This time, they were able to hear him explain how he would be wrestling Rollins in the main event. Stephanie hit the ceiling she was so mad. HHH ordered Kane not to wrestle.
Rollins, in his first appearance on the show, apparently didn’t see the preceding segmet. He talked with the Big Show about how he could count on Show to have his back against Kane tonight. Show just laughed at him and walked off. Then Kane walked in and told Rollins he’s been ordered not to wrestle him tonight, but he would find a suitable replacement to face Rollins. We were supposed to believe it would be the Demon Kane.
It was announced that Michaels and Ric Flair would appear on next week’s Raw in Dallas. Rollins was plugged for an apperance on SportsCenter with Jonathan Coachmen tomorrow night.
The Demon Kane defeated Seth Rollins in a nontitle lumberjack match (8:19)
The Demon Kane won with a tombstone after lots of interference. The New Day were front and center among the lumberjacks, so it’s clear the company is striking that iron while it’s hot. At one point, the lumberjacks brawled at ringside. The heel lumberjacks left the babyface lumberjacks laying at ringside. So all the heels, including the New Day, Sheamus, Rusev, Stardust and Owens, started putting the boots to Kane. Big E. tried to give Kane a splash, but Kane rose up and cleared the ring by himself. He choke slammed Woods and Stardust before the finish. Earlier, Rollins tried to escape, but Cesaro chased him down and put him back in.
SUMMARY: On a night where the Pittsburgh Steelers won on the final play of the game, the Chicago Cubs movd within one win of eliminating the St. Louis Cardinals, Steve Spurrier retired and Steve Sarkisian got fired, the WWE had to work extra hard to produce compelling television. But they did it. The crowd stayed largely interested throughout the show. The most telling segment was Reigns. For all the scorn that Cena receives, people still see him as a top guy. I just don’t sense the fans feel that way about Reigns. That was a problem seven months ago. The time between last WrestleMania and this one was supposed to be his period of being groomed for the top spot. The company sees him as a top guy. The fans still don’t, particularly those in big cities.