ER: Figured I would do a live blog of this since I'll be watching it, at least until I get too annoyed at the Network freezing on me (I think it really runs like garbage on my PS3, likely would run better on a PS4, but fuck that support my old media!). PLUS, we gotta leave at some point to go see Chastity Belt and So Pitted in SF. Seem to remember we were also going to a concert during the last WWE PPV (that's right, Gun Outfit. Sheesh that was already a month ago!?) but I swear we usually aren't this interesting. The idea of going out on a Sunday night usually terrifies me into thinking I'll be a work zombie the rest of the week. So who knows how much of this show I'll be getting through, but I'll try.
(Apparently there was some sort of a tag team scramble even earlier than the awesome Sheamus/Cesaro match, guess I didn't rewind far enough. Probably won't be going back for that one.)
2. Sheamus vs. Cesaro
ER: Really like the hot fast start with some big Cesaro uppercuts, Cesaro flipping out of a Sheamus powerbomb, a big Sakuraba leaping double stomp by Cesaro, and Sheamus getting clotheslined to the floor. Cesaro nicely blocks the apron forearms by muscling Sheamus' arm off his chest and tossing a headbutt to the neck. Sheamus goes after the taped up arm and shoulder and Cesaro is always good at selling a limb. These two are laying it in nicely. Love Sheamus blocking a short arm lariat by just tossing out a back elbow. They do some really fun struggles around a vertical suplex and end up both tumbling over the top off the apron and to the floor. These two are really laying it in on the pre-show! Sheamus gets dropkicked off the top, and the struggle keeps happening throughout. Guys going up halfway on moves, forcing the other to lift the weight, not the type of stuff you can do with just anybody. Sheamus hits the rolling senton off the middle rope for somehow only a two. These two are getting ridiculous on the pre-show and the crowd is picking up on it. Cesaro hits a beast of a lariat, then climbs up to the RINGPOST, jumps from the post to the ropes and does a springboard crossbody. What the hell! Finishing sequence is cool too, with Cesaro dropping down to his back during a brogue kick to try and catch the leg for the sharpshooter, but Sheamus kicks him away, tosses him into the post and hits the brogue kick anyway.
PAS: These guys really killed themselves on a pre-show to get over, especially on a show filled with such BS. It had a very WCW vibe to it. Hope this best of 7 is as good as Booker v. ?, and I hope Finlay gets involved somehow too. That turnbuckle springboard was awesome looking and I can't ever remember seeing it before, I wonder if Cesaro is going to break out something new for every match. Sheamus sure isn't because he has been doing the same stuff for a decade, still it is pretty cool stuff done with some real violence. Liked the catching of the brogue kick and the thumb to the eye. Fun stuff and I imagine all seven will end up on our list somewhere.
3. Enzo & Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens
ER: Not a big fan of the two teams but I'm digging it after the first 3 minutes, especially the Owens/Cass stuff. Cass lands some great body blows in the corner and then Owens starts kicking him right in the knee cap. Jericho's douchey facial hair works for him and Owens making fun of Enzo's shitty footwork made me laugh. Enzo seems like a guy who has only been wrestling for like one month sometimes, but he makes a real effective FIP. Owens' trash talking is used nicely when he's taunting a FIP, and he makes Enzo's stuff look plausible by charging into boots. Jericho intercepting the hot tag was killer. I could see him setting it up but I love Enzo getting knocked silly in mid air, inches from a tag. Jericho also realizes Enzo landed too close to Cass, so kicks him hard back out of the corner, so Owens can fly out of nowhere with a frog splash. Cass hot tag is pretty clunky, not entirely his fault as Jericho is super sloppy in his set ups. Cass does hit a nice big boot on Owens and later takes a fantastic ring post bump. Jericho looked horrendous once the hot tag portion set in (you know, once the match start moving quickly) and nearly beheaded Enzo on the finish. Owens flapjacked him into a codebreak and Jericho was slightly late, Enzo basically had to get his head snapped back over Jericho's knee.
4. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks
ER: That is an excellent robe on Charlotte. I was really liking their fighting on the top rope, LOVED Charlotte stretching Sasha out and jamming that boot under her neck, loved Sasha kneeing her way out....but have no clue what the hell happened after that. I have no clue what move was supposed to happen, or what it was supposed to look like, but Charlotte goes for a side slam off the middle rope and looks like Sasha's legs catch and Charlotte just bails, like when I dropped a butcher knife in the kitchen and all my limbs go out as I just leap bakwards away from the dropping knife. Sasha's legs bounce off the top and send her headfirst into the mat, because I guess you can't have a big Sasha match without her dumping herself or getting dumped onto her neck at the worst angle. They have another ugly little flip over reversal segment not long after and maybe they need to slow it down a bit or something. But then they kind of shut my mouth a bit by doing a few fun quick segments in the corner, and build to a wild splash mountain rana reversal off the top. Loved Charlotte doing the Flair flip in the corner onto the apron and then kicking the hell out of Sasha's leg as she charged in, and jeez then Sasha does the double knees from the middle rope to the floor? Nuts. Kinda wish the finish would have happened when Sasha reversed natural selection in the Banks statement. I really loved the fighting over it, loved Charlotte trying to reach the ropes while also trying to break the hands over her face, loved Sasha pushing off the bottom rope. The stuff immediately following it felt a little formless. But, I did like Charlotte rolling the BS into the pin, even if I think putting the title back on Charlotte this quick is tremendously stupid.
5. The Miz vs. Apollo Crews
ER: Maryse's outfit is awesome. Not many people can pull off essentially a white swimsuit with a police hat. Damn this is an IC Title match? This feels like a pre-show opener if I've ever seen one. I don't know much about Crews, but I like how he leans into Miz's kicks and plants on that fast DDT. Ohhhhhhhhh Crews is Uhaa Nation. That makes sense. I don't know why I didn't recognize him. Stupid me. Crews' standing moonsault is really impressive and while it was kinda dodgy I liked his little cradle roll through pin. And then Miz hits the skull crushing finale for the clean pin. That move never fails to look like the weakest move of any match.
6. AJ Styles vs. John Cena
ER: Really liked the first few minutes of this, loved AJ getting cocky and outquicking Cena, loved Cena catching a bragging AJ with the soupbone right. I think they went to an apron suplex way too early but I like all the stuff immediately after that, with AJ taking a big backdrop and Cena punching him around, and I love the sloppy Cena dropkick (helped no doubt by AJ flying into it like AJ). The Pele kick was placed great and the crowd is way into this. Cena's doing that weird thing where he just starts pulling moves out of his ass, lifting AJ up for a powerslam but doing basically Big E's finisher. Loved Cena's doing a drop down to try and grab AJ into the STFU, and AJ dropping Cena across his knee looked great. Cena's so damn big that it just looks wild to see a big lug getting dumped neck first onto a knee, he really just crumbles differently. AJ misses the 450 like a champ, like a guy who was practicing it into a swimming pool instead of actually just doing it onto a hard surface. Good lord AJ.
So I'm loving this match, and we gotta be like 20 minutes in.......and I can feel them losing me. We go into some hardcore move trading sections. And it's tough because I keep going back and forth, as sometimes something looks really great, but then it's just immediately ignored because the other guy has to do his move right back. I love Styles' calf crusher, but then Cena just rolls into the STFU as if he hadn't been in the calf crusher for 30 seconds. Styles hits the big forearm, but Cena lifts him into the AA. The fans are going apeshit so they're obviously doing something right for the 15,000 paying human beings, and the pop for Styles reversing into the clash was great.....but it seemed like a switch kinda flipped and they went into the "make a bug eyed shock face after every kickout, breath hard after hitting your big move" without much of a warning. It was weird, because it was really good in a lot of ways. Both guys are stars, and the crowd was reacting to them like stars, and the moves themselves looked incredible. Styles got tossed a mile with the AA, the forearms looked awesome off the top rope, everything looked great....but it's also a style that bugs the holy hell out of me. I'm chalking it up as a win. It felt like a great version of a style that usually turns me off. But I never got completely turned off. The first half was great, and the finishing run was a big match finishing run.
Now, the fact that it wasn't the main event, and tons of matches still have to follow the match, that's a whole different bundle of problems. If the crowd manages to stay hot through the rest of this show, more damn power to them. I'm conflicted, guys. But my gut still says thumbs up on this one.
7. Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods vs. Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson
ER: I will always love Jon Stewart, even when he goes out there knowing he's going to bomb. There's something quietly dignified about delivering material you're supposed to deliver, knowing it's going to be bad, and doing so professionally. I also skipped past any promos or build or anything so have zero clue why the Club came out with jars of urine. The tag match itself was put on in a death spot on the card. Crowd is predictably exhausted after the last match. Gallows is working like Barry Darsow which is amusing because I notice this right as Cole is talking about Demolition. Kofi's unicorn shoes are great and Woods has been on fire in the match, dug his fast dropkick to a draped-over-the-ropes Anderson and that long distance springboard elbowdrop. I really have no idea what any of the storyline stuff is going around this, not sure why Stewart is back, not sure what the pee jars are (Corey Graves called it formaldehyde?) but Gallows gets obliterated by Big E and I'd want to see a singles match. Him taking the belly to belly on the floor and then flying into the barricade was the best part of the match. Match was nothing.
8. Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose
ER: Boy this one ain't holding my attention. I am wondering if any match will be able to resurrect the post-Cena/Styles crowd. They do some things I like, both can take a ringpost bump, their missed crossbody was sloppy and good, Ambrose's punch chop combo looked nice, the way Dolph kinda spiraled into the center of the ring while taking them; but overall it's not doing a whole lot for me. Though I do like Dolph setting up a superkick with a headbutt. That's...a million times better than setting it up with his usual shitty flailing. Ziggler's 12 to 6 elbows look horrible. Rebound lariat is such a fart sound spot at this point. I hate so much that it's in every match, and I don't think I've seen anyone do a decent job of occupying themselves while they wait to get hit with it. I didn't care for most of this.
9. Naomi, Carmella & Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Bella
ER: Oh man the Eva Marie stuff is genuinely funny. I had no idea how they would acknowledge Eva Marie's suspension, but I'm very happy they kept doing what they're doing. Watching the women's matches with Rachel is always great, as she somehow knows more about what's going on with their lives than I do, and also adds fine commentary on their looks and gear choices. When I said "Man that's a big reaction for Nikki" she goes "well she's been out rehabbing a really serious injury" right as Ranallo starts explaining the same thing. Then she points out how horrible Becky's mesh body suit is, combined with the unfortunate crotch area of her pants. She's also a huge Naomi fan, and I can't blame her for that one. I love Naomi. Bliss hits a killer back handspring double kneedrop. Silly set up but love the end result. Carmella seems very much not good. At least Nikki is smart enough to switch her finisher and stop doing the rack drop. This match mostly did nothing for me. I'm getting more excited for Chastity Belt and So Pitted with every match.
10. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
ER: So as some of you know I'm currently two years behind on NXT, so I have no clue what the hell this whole Demon King thing is about. It feels about one tick removed from some of the more embarrassing Jeff Hardy entrances. And does he really wrestle any differently than just regular non-Al Jolson Finn Balor? He seems like he wrestles the same. The announce crew says it's him tapping into a dark side but....yeah, not seeing it. Same ol' Balor/Devitt, same loose elbows, same flimsy shoulder tackles. I liked a couple of Rollins' knee counters, but these two just seem like a bad match for each other. And it looks like Rollins broke out the small package driver but right after that Balor is up and running around like a dungus. All moves for everybody!! Superplex no sold! How can I be expected to buy anything when nobody is selling!? This stunk. No drama, no build, feels like all the complaints about Cena/Styles are tenfold more appropriate for this. This was just each guy tossing out every move they know and not bothering to structure them in any sort of interesting order.
Alright, Miz in a chicken suit removing his chicken glove to slap Col. Ziggler made me laugh. And Ziggler's tearaway suit and Col. Sanders ring gear (with cuffs!!) made Ziggler so much more interesting than he's been in ages.
11. Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
ER: Well I'm sure this is what most people wanted out of this one, right? So weird to have them work a PPV main event on Raw, and then have their match thrown out on PPV. The pre match brawl was awesome, Rusev jumps him and as they tumble to the floor Reigns nails a backfist, stairs get thrown, Rusev gets dumped into the ring crew corral, then the superman punch as Rusev was getting resurrected. I was getting into it. But there must be some sort of "insider" hoo ha that I don't know about. And Lana wore her finest ice princess attire and everything. But hot shit that might have been the greatest spear in the history of spears. We have Goldberg folding Kanyon in half....but yeah this one tops it. Reigns flying down the ramp and just blasting through him.
12. Randy Orton vs. Brock Lesnar
ER: Alright, next day and I just watched this, and I liked it. I think a lot of people hated it. I don't know how I feel from a booking standpoint, but from a presentation standpoint I liked it. Lesnar gets a lot of hate now, and the barrage of Germans can be disappointing when I know he's capable of more, and he gets certain benefits that nobody else gets...but I love the differences that he brings to the table, and I'm not sure what will stop me from loving the differences. Eventually I assume we'll get a Brock opponent that is more competitive within the match structure. I have no idea who that person will be, but the moment will be enormous. I love the ways Brock has been "taken out" so far in matches where he did go down, like how he essentially got blown up during the 3 way earlier this year. I thought this match had some killer moments, including all or Orton's comeback moments. The RKO on the announce table was awesome. The draped DDT was awesome. I was really hoping to see the punt land, see how Brock reacted to it, but alas. Orton took a furious beating here. Both of those tosses into the announce table looked nasty, the clubbing looks like he will be as tenderized and bruised as a human can get the next day, and then there's the matter of those two elbows right to the side of Orton's head. I can't even explain them. Was the plan for Orton to get busted open? There's no way that elbows thrown that violently wouldn't bust a person open. Brock looked like he was treating Orton's head like a watermelon that needed to be opened without utensils. Just the biggest arm possible crashing into it, and Orton bled and bled, dripped blood. Is Orton such a crazy wrestler that he said "hey bruh, the match has to end in a stoppage, so just blast me with elbows!" That...couldn't be what happened, right? And I guess I like that kind of mystery that Lesnar brings to things. The foolish 8 year old questioning if something is real or not. But the main differences I love about him is he doesn't wrestle like the accepted WWE Performance Center style. He falls differently, he strikes differently, he moves differently. Orton hit him with a dropkick and Lesnar kind of spun out on a knee. No rapid flat back bumps. He tosses mammoth knees into the corner, and throws strikes without predictable timing. The timing of stuff just looks so much different than everybody around him, that I can't help but be entertained. There IS an ingrained disappointment, because I know the guy has a smart wrestling brain, and I know these matches COULD be better. I know he has it in them to craft a better overall match that still delivers the end, pre-decided goal. He could have taken the punt here, but been positioned to get a foot barely on the ropes, or could have been punted while one leg was already barely under the ropes. There was more they could have done, and it can be frustrating since it would have been easy to add those extra moments to the match. But I can't deny how excited I still get for the vibe Lesnar brings.
Well, Sheamus and Cesaro killed themselves on a pre-show that I'm not even sure WWE keeps available on the Network after it airs, and for their effort they easily landed on our 2016 ONGOING MOTY LIST. I really wanted Phil's opinion on Styles/Cena, but he refused to watched it :)
Labels: 2016 MOTY, AJ Styles, Best Wrestling of 2016, Cesaro, Charlotte, Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose, Finn Balor, John Cena, Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, Sasha Banks, Seth Rollins, Sheamus, WWE Summerslam