This show is an emotional roller coaster. Moments of fun and hope are immediately countered with moments that make me want to hide my head. For every “Humberto Carrillo vs. AJ Styles,” there was a “Street Profits shoving their catchphrase so far down my throat that I’m having Fandangoing flashbacks.”
Here’s an example.
This show started with Paige introducing the Kabuki Warriors, much like she did months ago when they didn’t gain any traction. It was odd that she was suddenly back, but it made enough sense once she started talking; she listed their individual accolades before expressing her delight that they’d meshed so well to become the Tag Team Champions.
...But that’s exactly the thing, isn’t it? Sane and Asuka have meshed. They don’t need Paige. In fact, they’re doing exponentially better without her. So with that in mind, it makes perfect sense that they’d turn on Paige. Asuka hit her with the Green Mist, and Paige’s reaction was so delightfully over the top.
That brought out Becky Lynch to defend Paige, which led to an awesome singles match between Sane and Lynch to start the show. The crowd was into it, the heels were fully established, and the good guy won in the end. Perfect start to the show...which was countered, of course, by the end of the show.
So...that Lana/Rusev confrontation, huh?
Let me start with this: I laughed during parts of this segment. It was so alarmingly bad that it entertained to some degree. Rusev is so witty and charismatic; the fact that his response to being accused of wanting sex too often was to have that happy-go-lucky smile on his face was hysterical. Lana was...very sincere in her role of seeming vapid and narcissistic as well.
But once you analyze the story here, it’s got massive red flags all over the place. So Lana, you ditched Rusev because he wanted too much sex...and went into a hyper-sexualized relationship with Bobby Lashley. Sure. They threw in like 4 other reasons for their falling out to go with the “he plays video games and sends too much money to Bulgaria.” He wanted too many kids. He didn’t support her career enough. And comically enough, he cheated on her according to Lashley.
There’s also the massive problem with Lana assuming this character in the first place. It feeds into stereotypes too much for my taste. I can see an avenue where something like this could work with proper attention to detail, but this feud has had absolutely none of it. Lana has very little agency in this storyline, which is probably the most glaring flaw of them all.
Rusev’s response to being accused of cheating was very good, though. So I guess that’s something. This feud makes my head hurt.
Drew McIntyre finally won me over
I’ve always been a little bit...skeptical of Drew McIntyre.
I was around for his first run in the WWE, and he never really stood out to me. I remember hearing people giving glowing reviews of his work once he left the company, and I decided to give him another shot once he debuted in NXT. Still wasn’t my cup of tea.
But on this show, McIntyre finally won me over. He was constantly mocking Hulk Hogan during his rematch with Ricochet and I’m 100% here for it. From the leg drop to the absurd flexing, he was doing his best to annoy Hogan and I was grinning by the end of it.
Now, the story here wasn’t too great. They were putting over Ricochet’s superheroes can be real slogan big on commentary, including an awesome My Hero Academia reference from Dio Maddin. (Y’all all caught the start of Season 4, right? How dope is Overhaul?) They also had a microphone near Hogan for much of this where you could audibly hear him encouraging Ricochet. Hogan’s an old superhero-like character, so it seemed like we were going to see Ricochet rally to overcome the villain and avenge his loss from last week.
...Or Randy Orton can come in to hit an RKO on Ricochet, pop the crowd in a huge way, and make you want to cheer for the heel team. Either way.
AJ Styles has an inferiority complex
Let’s go back to another good moment on the show. Styles didn’t like Humberto Carrillo picking a fight with Seth Rollins over him, and he had no qualms letting the rookie know about it.
Fairly early in the night, The OC cornered Carrillo backstage where they insincerely congratulated Carrillo on his match with Rollins. But things got serious when Styles said he should have challenged the “real champ,” and essentially booked the two of them in a match together.
The match was solid, and Carrillo was able to hang with Styles for a decent bit of it before getting caught in a Calf Killer. The interesting thing was that Styles offered his hand to the rook after the match, just like Rollins did. But where Rollins earnestly shook Carrillo’s hand, Styles left him hanging and laughed in his face.
Carrillo wasn’t about to take that laying down. He punched Styles in the face, which probably wasn’t the smartest idea considering the rest of the OC was on the ring apron. He ate a Styles Clash, and the Street Profits ran in before Gallows and Anderson could add to the beating.
I like that Carrillo’s showing a bit of attitude. He’s going to need to keep that when he finally gets a real storyline to sink his teeth into. As for Styles, this inferiority thing is something to keep an eye on. Could that be Rollins’ next feud if he loses to Bray Wyatt?
Seth Rollins def. Erick Rowan – I kind of like that Rollins defeated one of Bray Wyatt’s old disciples in the lead up to their next meeting, but I wasn’t a huge fan of this Falls-Count-Anywhere match. It just didn’t resonate well with me. It spilled over in the concourse for a bit which made me smirk a bit. Didn’t we see a concourse brawl oh, 5 days ago?
But with that said...I see you with that finish, WWE. Rowan was the guy behind the Roman Reigns forklift incident and Rollins, ever the brother to Reigns, put the big guy down by pinning him with a forklift. Wyatt didn’t make any sort of appearance, so the final image before their Saudi Arabia match was Rollins standing on the commentary table holding his championship high.
Buddy Murphy def. R-Truth – I get that Buddy Murphy can’t always be in the ring with the likes of Roman Reigns in a main event every week. But with that said, Murphy gave us the litmus test for this segment by claiming that R-Truth would never forget him by the time the match was over.
Considering this was a very short match with 24/7 Championship shenanigans giving Murphy a distraction to win, I’d say he failed in his claim.
Aleister Black promo – I love Black, but this promo made no sense at all to me. He said that madness is doing the same thing expecting different results, but what do you call a person who does the same thing liking the same results?
I call that normal, Black.
AOP promo – They are basically trained in every facet of war. They speak in their native language because they know it frightens people. These promos are getting old; I want to see them crush someone.
The Viking Raiders def. The “Chicago Cubs” - I found it mildly amusing that the two dudes were named after Cubs players, but this was just your usual squash match dressed up in baseball pants.
Andrade def. Sin Cara – Woah! Sin Cara actually brought help to an Andrade match – smart! The only problem? Andrade can cheat on his own, thank you very much. Zelina Vega was neutralized by Carolina, but Andrade rolled up Sin Cara with his feet on the ropes to win anyway.
Charlotte and Natalya def. The IIconics – This was a pretty standard match, but it’s good to see the IIconics again. Charlotte was giving the IIconics some sass at times, too, which was pretty fun.
Street Profits want the smoke – Remember how I said they were going to be really, really good last week? Not if they’re gonna be on the microphones pushing their catchphrase this hard.
This show had a lot going on — some surprisingly good, some woefully bad. With that said, it was just kind of what WWE is these days. A mixture of hope and disappointment.
Your turn, Cageside.