The biggest match of this episode was advertised all week: a Fatal 4-way between Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, Matt Hardy, and Apollo Crews. A fifth man was added in Seth Rollins – more on that later – and the match was the main event of the show.
They devoted a lot of time to this match, giving all the wrestlers a promo to make their case for entering the Elimination Chamber. And it all built up to one hell of a match.
Oftentimes, I find myself shaking my head at how talented the WWE wrestlers are right now. This match was a perfect example. Hardy’s 43 years-old with two bad legs, Crews is a lower card guy, and this match was still so stupidly good.
One of my favorite things was how Wyatt would deny the crowd a turnbuckle totem pole power bomb spot and he received comeuppance in how the match ended: by being on the receiving end of a turnbuckle totem pole power bomb spot. Hardy enthusiastically applauding Wyatt’s signature pose in the corner was great as well.
In the end, this show faded to black with no clear winner. Both Balor and Rollins pinned Wyatt and the referee had no clue what to do.
Really could have used that replay or something, eh?
I’d imagine this leads to a 1-on-1 match between the first two Universal Championship contestants next week. It’s not a bad move, dragging this last chance thing out until we’re two minutes from midnight.
But that was the most pro wrestling ending ever, wasn’t it?
Stuff it, Cena
Can we talk about some hot garbage storytelling? Good. Literally everything going on with John Cena right now is hot garbage.
Do you really mean to tell me, John, that you are concerned with your spot on WrestleMania? You’re a 15-time WWE Champion, you’re hosting the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, you’re in movies left, right, and center…
And WWE would keep you off the card they’re going out and bringing in celebrities and old dudes every year?
The garbage storytelling leaked over to the Miz on this show. The Miz claimed that he’d beat Brock Lesnar because he’s got a brain and can outsmart people…and proceeds to be outsmarted by Cena and put into the Elimination Chamber match first.
The stakes to their match were “loser enters the Elimination Chamber first.” Winning gets you nothing, so why fight at all?
If Miz was REALLY smart, he would have spent his time on this show grilling Angle for the ridiculous triple threat match last week. Not giving the most Must-See Superstar in WWE history the chance to enter the Elimination Chamber match last? Really?
If you can ignore the silliness of all that, their match was fun. Cena hitting a Yes! Lock on Miz? That’s awesome. The false finishes to this match were very good. And WWE was very smart to allow these two over a half hour of airtime.
Cena would win with another Avalanche Attitude Adjustment – the same move he used to put away Finn Balor two weeks ago. They’re making a concerted effort to get that move over as Cena’s true finisher leading up to the Elimination Chamber.
Gee, I wonder who will kick out of it?
We Know What’s True
The one true Boss returned to the surface for a brief moment.
Bayley got the upper hand early in this match between best friends. But that was enough for Sasha Banks to regain her edge; she worked Bayley over in a corner to the point that the ref had to pull her away.
There were plays to the crowd and mocking gestures to ridicule her opponent. And then she mocked Bayley and targeted her shoulder. And my goodness, she preened as the San Jose crowd rebuked her. It was like watching a flower bloom after wilting in the winter.
…But she didn’t go the entire way with it. She held back. She could have truly punished Bayley but let her off the hook. I found it intriguing that Bayley played dirty at times as well, matching Banks’ ferocity. And that change in Bayley allowed her to hit a Bayley-to-Belly off the top rope to defeat the Boss.
What was interesting was the post-match scene. With two weeks until the Elimination Chamber, Banks and Bayley had a tense face to face that was ruined by an attacking Nia Jax. We can expect more from those two in the Chamber match, that’s for sure.
As for the rest of the post-match, I went to college for journalism. What the hell was that instigating question, Charlie Caruso?! She’s lucky Jax didn’t destroy her for good measure.
Best of the Rest
The Revival are Petty - You know what? I kinda like the Nerd o’ Meter graphic. That might have potential. The ridiculous explosion on the graphic is hilarious, too.
But then the Revival had to trash the party and take some cheap shots after losing to Balor Club last week. They scampered away before the Club could retaliate, getting some heat from the crowd.
The Revival just does smart things. They rolled up Gallows’ pant leg for a better view of the limb they were targeting. They’re sneaky and seem to always find a way to outnumber their opponents. They’re still new to the main roster audience, but they’re starting to get the right response. The Club’s a great first feud for them.
Checking in on Mr. Angle’s Baby Boy – It genuinely sucks that Jordan is injured, but is there any better compliment to a heel than having the crowd cheer your injury? Angle lectured the crowd “as Jason’s father” about how it was disrespectful to act the way they did and that they should all wish Jordan a speedy recovery.
Is there anything worse than a sniveling, snot-nosed kid who cowers behind daddy for protection? I’m so happy they went this route with Jordan’s injury. I hope we get weekly updates from daddy.
Anyway, Rollins would appear to plead his cast to enter the main event of the show. It was a great twist to add some suspense and I really enjoy all these teases of tension between Balor Club and the Shield lately. Hopefully it leads somewhere once Ambrose returns.
Protective Roman is the best Roman - I mentioned this in my review last week – Roman Reigns is an exponentially more compelling character when his “Big Dog” gimmick is tossed to the side. There was a backstage promo where Reigns and Rollins were joking over how Rollins was able to procure a spot in the Elimination Chamber. Reigns came off as teasing and largely affable, especially once The Bar showed up to mock Rollins.
First, Reigns mocked Cesaro by saying, “What happened to your mouth? Oh – that’s right. You ran into the Shield.” After, he mean mugged in Sheamus’ face until the Bar backed down.
So, WWE, let me spell this out for you: PROTECTIVE, BROTHERLY ROMAN REIGNS IS FUN. THE CENA/HOGAN-STYLED UNCONQUERABLE ROMAN IS NOT.
There. Hopefully that clears things up.
So! Reigns fought Sheamus. The crowd rebelled a bit with Rusev Day chants and Sheamus got them back in line by heeling it up a bit. Great professional, that Sheamus.
But you know who won.
Someone Punch Bliss in the Face, Please – Alexa Bliss tried to butter up Mickie James for obvious reasons. She’s just the worst. James recalled how Bliss had treated her in the past – hooray for continuity! – and basically told Bliss to stuff it. They lost their match to Absolution
Two Genius Characters – By being patient and crafty, WWE built a legitimate star in Elias. He was allowed to pick up sneaky wins over fan favorites and his entire character encourages crowd participation. It’s great.
You know who else is great? Strowman. He’s a gigantic freaking teddy bear who destroys things because he can. And yet on this show, he sat on a stool with a cello and sang a song about catching these hands.
This show was peak sports entertainment. Some of the storytelling was wonky, we ended the show without a payoff…and yet we got some great wrestling, a dude brandishing a cello, and Sasha Banks embracing her true self again.
That’s a pretty great show right there, as far as entertainment is concerned.
Let’s have Strowman wield a timpani next week, shall we?