Current Watch List:
- Erick Rowan, Dolph Ziggler and Ryback vs. Seth Rollins, Kane and Big Show (WWE)
- Goldust vs. Stardust (WWE)
- Cesaro and Tyson Kidd vs. The Usos (c) for the WWE Tag Team Championship (WWE)
- Dean Ambrose vs. Bad News Barrett (c) for the WWE Intercontinental Championship (WWE)
- Rusev (c) vs. John Cena for the WWE United States Championship (WWE)
- Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns (WWE)
- Los Tortuguillos Karatekas vs. Los Tortugas Ninja
- TAKA Michinoku vs. Ayumu Honda (K-Dojo)
Erick Rowan, Dolph Ziggler and Ryback vs. Seth Rollins, Kane and Big Show
An energetic ending (starting after the hot tag to Ryback) saved this from being altogether unforgettable but it still was not any great shakes. Kane is looking really bad these days and dragged down the match whenever he was involved. The structure was all over the place. Not sure I get the point of having Big Show land the decisive move and then Kane get the win, when it is Rollins who is heading to the big WrestleMania match; Orton returns post-match and chases Rollins away to set up their match in March.
Goldust vs. Stardust
Solid first match if they are building to a bigger, more heated feud. Problem is, I am not so sure they are actually going there. Its hard to see them getting a spot on WrestleMania. Goldust is always great. Loved the (close to) lucha arm drag and the crucifix finish looked good until the referee inexplicably stopped counting before the 3-count. They didn’t have much heat but what do you expect when these guys haven’t been featured for months and the breakup angle was shot last Monday. I was impressed the crowd cared enough and knew the story enough to chant “Cody” at Stardust to get under his skin.
Cesaro and Tyson Kidd vs. The Usos (c)
WWE Tag Team Championship
Decent match and best of the night so far. Liked the leg work at the beginning and all of the quick tags. Ending fell a little flat, especially since you would expect a big time, all-out ending from these two teams. Cesaro and Kidd are a good team but there were some moments during this match where it felt like the overthought things. Dive section was okay. A better ending could have elevated the match from decent to good.
Dean Ambrose vs. Bad News Barrett (c)
WWE Intercontinental Championship
They went a mile a minute and got the quiet crowd into it (as much as they have been into anything) by the end. I thought Ambrose looked strong. The match was laid out in a way that played to his strengths. Ambrose’s strength is running around chasing and attacking his opponent, because it works with his high impact offense (punches, bounce back clothesline, dives, ect.). So him chasing Barrett was the right choice. The ending came off terribly. There was absolutely zero logical reason why a DQ was called for there. Terrible finish on an okay match.
Rusev (c) vs. John Cena
WWE United States Championship
If it was not evident already, Rusev is really good. He is a natural in many ways from the way he carries himself, to the way he executes, his selling, ect. Maybe he’s not the total package but he’s as well-rounded of a wrestler to come out NXT . . . ever. Its not that Cena was along for the ride because he wasn’t but the fact that Rusev felt in every way on the same level as Cena is a real compliment to him. I liked the intent of the start with the big blow from Cena that knocked Rusev off his feet. Nice to see a mach start in a unique way.
Solid match all the way around and they got the crowd into it which on this night was no easy task. Both guys laid their shots in through out. The finish was not terrible on a standalone basis. However, given all of the shitty finishes that proceeded this one, it wasn’t the right call at all. Rusev needed to win so that was good, but that finish on this card didn’t work.
Good match. Easily the best on the show, but good on its own merits too. Not surprising since Cena almost always delivers on PPV and Rusev is good.
Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns
The work was good, probably really good. They drew out a smart, logical structure of Bryan’s quickness & wrestling acumen versus Reigns’ power. They spent the first several minutes hammering that idea home with Bryan drawing Reigns in and generally out wrestling him, while Reigns would use his power to fight back. They kept that going nicely throughout the entire match, with Bryan getting some near submissions late and Reigns simply powering out.
Bryan’s first tope looked odd as he basically landed on his feet. The second one would have looked fine if Reigns would have taken it better. He sort of caught Bryan before slowly falling backwards against the barricade. The third that Reigns caught looked good, as did the overhead belly-to-belly that came after. That suplex and the top rope power bomb are two bumps that Bryan really shouldn’t be taking but clearly he’s going to continue going full speed.
Loved the flying arm bar from Bryan and all of the submission attempts. The kicks were spot on and down the stretch both guys laid everything in hard. Reigns strikes while on top of Bryan looked nasty. The finish was executed well. Any finish was going to feel flat since the crowd was divided at best and apathetic (as they had been all night long) at worse. To the wrestler’s credit, they did get the crowd going by the end. Still, the lack of consistent heat hurt a bit. I am hearing a lot of “Bryan is missing something”. Honestly, he isn’t as over as he was before which as at least something to do with WWE messing around with him so much. At some point, the poor booking of Bryan was going to wreck havoc with his heat. Wrestling wise, he is still really, really good though. Reigns more than held up his end. However, there was no doubt this was a Bryan-style match in terms of structure and that helped a ton. He’s still easily one of the best wrestlers in the world.
With a crowd more invested in the outcome and better booking behind it, I might have it in MOTYC territory but it just did not have that extra oomph needed to put it over the top. Very good match that under different circumstances might have been great.
Los Tortuguillos Karatekas vs. Los Tortugas Ninja
Arena Lopez Mateos
Black Terry Jr.’s highlight video of this match was filled with fun arm drags so I decided to give it a shot. Who am I kidding – the highlight video could have been all eight turtles laying on their backs (shells?) for two minutes and I still would have bought it. Eight turtles, one match was the only selling point I needed.
That’s a good thing, too since Black Terry Jr.’s highlight video more or less contained all of the highlights. The opening couple of minutes with all of the arm drags was as fun as anticipated but very little happened after that. Aside from the arm drags, the other highlights were a tandem four turtle dive sequence and an eight turtle synchronized suplex. Aside from that stuff, the match was mainly killing time before the space ninja turtles (who disappointingly looked nothing like Turtles) ran in for the no contest. I would rather watch a boring/borderline bad match with guys in turtle costumes than a bad match without guys in turtle costumes, but this still wasn’t anything good.
TAKA Michinoku vs. Ayumu Honda
There have been a dozen or so worth-your-time sub-10 minute matches this year. TAKA has had at least 2 or 3 of them. This is a very fun ground based match with truly high end junior mat work. They work a brisk pace, use lots of reversals, and put together a semi-realistic ground game. This is not exactly El Samurai/Otani in terms of potentially groundbreaking junior mat work but it might be just as fun. The match flew by and has me wanting to seek out more Honda, who didn’t necessarily stick out to me in the August Hard Hit show he worked. Taka is having a fine year and can still clearly go in the right environment. At just over 7 minutes in run time it is an incredibly easy match to squeeze in when you have a moment.