1. Alicia Fox vs. Nia Jax
I liked the little build we got to this one, as Alicia flipping out on Jax in the hallway seemed like it had an unexpected moment in it, with Fox seemingly accidentally smacking Jax in the face with a box. You look at the reactions of both when it happened, and I genuinely think it was an accident. But it lead to that super violent shove and I was interested in seeing a match. I really liked Fox not long ago when she was a big bumping heel, but almost right after I wrote something praising her work she got buried in 6 mans and wasn't really face or heel. She was just around. And this match went just about as it should. I love monster heels and Fox was given just enough, and I really liked how they transitioned to Jax finishing her off. Fox was smart and jumped her with kicks, but I loved when they went into Jax hitting her with bigger, more damaging kicks. Jax tossing Fox around was great, as Fox has these long limbs that make her ragdolling look even better. She's also just a good ragdoll bumper in general, so it's almost disappointing that this basically ends their feud. I could watch her get tossed around at least a couple more times. But Fox's comeback crossbody was great, loved how Jax leapt into it. Also love how they set up Jax's butt splash in the corner, with Fox slipping out of the Samoan drop and falling back into the corner, only for Jax to be on it. Fun opener.
2. New Day vs. Gallows & Anderson
Damn this was really good! It's one of those wonderfully constructed hot 8 minute tags. It's short enough that nothing stupid needs to happen, but long enough that it feels like it has some substance. Nobody has time to deal with their shortcomings, it's just a hot match that keeps the crowd up. This may have been Anderson's best performance in WWE so far. He really came off like a badass whose moves all ended with an exclamation point. That spinebuster was sick. And the match was obviously tightly constructed, but had a nice chaos to it, with interference and brawling on the floor not being the moment the match breaks down, but being integrated nicely into the match. Big E looked good as usual, both teams clicked, this was a real nice "opener".
3. Brian Kendrick vs. TJ Perkins
Well TJP clearly has a barely rejiggered version of the best parts of Mega Man 2, and I can't help but flip out for that. And WWE putting up the purple ropes for this match is an awesome attention to detail. Phil and I each compared Kendrick in the CWC to Finlay, so it's appropriate he's the one who gets to bring Finlay's great apron skirt trap back into play. I'm picturing Finlay blessing him with the spot backstage in a gruff but touching moment. Perkins is kind of awkward in this one. His double chickenwing just looked like Kendrick fell on top of him with all of his weight. And then he whiffed on that neckbreaker (but Graves had a nice cover for it saying him drug Kendrick down by his hair). TJP hits a wild rana off the apron that sends both men splatting. I think Kendrick's scrappiness is kind of a good way to cover up for any accidental sloppiness. He does some stuff that's unpolished, throws some timing off, it adds an element of uncooperation without ever coming off unprofessional. There was an moment where they abort an Irish whip and it landed in a neat moment of "guy changing his mind on a spot vs. guy just shifting his timing to keep opponent on his toes". The match overall was a step below the CWC stuff, but still plenty fun.
4. Sheamus vs. Cesaro
Cesaro comes out dressed like a badass maitre'd who is actually just a hitman disguised as a maitre'd. I will never have a moment in my life where I look that cool. I love both of these two but weirdly liked the very first match in this series more than the others, and that was buried on a pre-show. Cesaro seems weirdly light in the first half of this. His uppercuts had a little less mustard, that crossbody landed like a Petey Williams crossbody, and that 619 should never see the light of day again. AND THEN THAT HAPPENED. THAT happened. Cesaro takes one of the most grizzly bumps in wrestling history, and the look of fear on his face after his spikes himself on a dive was horrifying. And WWE make sure to show 5 angles of it and it keeps looking uglier, keeps looking more like something a man shouldn't live through. I assumed immediately they would call an audible and just end on a count out. And somehow they didn't. Somehow it kept going. I wake up some days with a kink in my neck just because I slept wrong, and here Cesaro just basically leapt into the air and landed on his head. We had a swimming pool growing up, and a diving board. And there was a sticker on the side of our diving board with a cartoon man diving into an empty pool, with a red circle and line through it. And when they showed Cesaro's dive in slow motion, he was in the exact same position as the man jumping into the empty pool. But somehow things continue and the crowd's disbelief leads to the crowd getting way into this match, and the drama seems huge afterwards because it doesn't even seem like Cesaro should be walking anymore. I had no problem with the double count out, because after that dive it's like the rule book went right out the fucking window. This wasn't either man not wanting to get pinned, this was two dudes fighting and not caring about a count. Great stuff that all built from a very, very scary moment.
5. Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho
Somehow the slight facial hair has massively improved Jericho's look. He went from looking like old lesbian Denis Leary to more of a Timothy Olyphant type. A massive improvement. And his walk to the ring is very much perfect. The ring work and execution isn't the great in this, but it feels nicely laid out. Jericho is just really bad at taking offense at this point. He essentially bails on Sami's flip dive and baaaaarely catches that through the ropes DDT. Sami wins me over by appropriately selling his genitals and groin after missing the yakuza kick in the corner. The blue thunder bomb was a big moment and Sami added an extra spin, but I thought the finish was extremely lazy with Jericho just standing up and hitting the codebreaker. We can do better than that, right?
6. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte
Not a big fan of three ways but I dug the way the early part of this was worked. I must have missed why this is No DQ though. Sasha and Charlotte match up really well, loved how Sasha bumped face first into the bottom buckle off a Charlotte kick. Bayley seems like she's been disappeared for 6 minutes. Sometimes Charlotte has a really goofy way of getting into position for the next spot. Like she's just doing a zombie sleepwalk. It's weird that it's No DQ but Dana Brooke has only interfered one time. Shouldn't she just be working this like a tornado tag if it's No DQ? Charlotte is just being booked like a beast throughout this whole thing. No move can hurt her, she's hardly needed Dana's interference despite being 2 on 1, and she gets big spots like that moonsault onto both women. You would never know the Bayley to Belly was used as a finisher, because Charlotte didn't even take a moment to act like a move had been done to her. Bayley was just a total afterthought in this whole match. Gone for much of the middle, never made to look important at any point other than the first 10 seconds. This got an insane amount of time and was just a total mess.
7. Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
This was a little deflating, as I really like Roman, but the whole thing was handled so poorly and obviously by the announcers that I just couldn't get into the match. The end felt inevitable. No matter how good Rusev looked, all you would hear about was just how brave Roman was for surviving, or how "Roman just needs to...." or "Is this Roman's moment..." It just sucked all of the drama out of everything for me. Though I was genuinely surprised by the big reaction to Roman's match winning spear. Crowd really exploded for it. I liked the Lana yanking the ref false finish, but I just didn't think this was one of Reigns' better performances. He seemed sluggish throughout, seemed tentative on offense.
8. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens
I'm really liking Owens in this, liked his shit talk as he caught Rollins' leg and kicked him, liked him dropping the elbow out of the apron and working a snug horizontal chinlock. I get a little burnt out by PPVs though. I don't think I have proper stamina for them. I don't know if it's how WWE paces their shows, or if I can only just watch 2 hours of wrestling at a time, but matches just take more to get me involved in them the longer a PPV goes. The crowd seems with me. They all seem super quiet. Owens is trying. That missed cannonball looked great, and the gutbuster off the top was wild, and Owens is so wanting to get ANY kind of reaction from the crowd that he even does crotch chops before missing his announce table senton. That feels barely one step removed from people using a stunner on 1999-2003 indy wrestling shows. And I'm so sick of that moment every PPV where one or all of the announce team goes "Not like this!" This match felt an hour long.
It seems like all of these PPVs start out exciting and just get more and more arduous the longer they go.
Labels: Alicia Fox, Brian Kendrick, Cesaro, Charlotte, Chris Jericho, Clash of the Champions, Gallows, Karl Anderson, Kevin Owens, Nia Jax, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Seth Rollins, Sheamus, TJ Perkins