Roman Reigns, you sly devil.
Throughout the night, Kayla Braxton was trying to get Paul Heyman to tell us whether or not Roman had actually signed the contract since, and I hadn’t realized this at all, Roman technically never signed it on SmackDown. Heyman said that the guarantee Roman made will ring true.
The Fiend made his entrance, which I always love seeing. All of a sudden Braun blindsided him, and... the bell rang. The first few minutes of the match happened without Reigns coming out, and no one even mentioned him not being there. Graves around 4 or 5 full minutes of Braun and Fiend going at each other finally mentioned him potentially not signing the contract.
Braun tossed Fiend into the LED board again, and then charged at him and they both went through tables offstage. He got Fiend back in the ring and they traded moves until Braun went up to the top rope and was stopped, Fiend took him down, and the ring broke.
And THEN, Reigns’ music hit and he came out with Heyman, who had the contract in his hand, Reigns signed it, and off he went to the ring. We’re going to talk about why I thought that was insanely smart in a moment.
Reigns had a chair and then said nah I got this, dropped it, hooked Fiend’s leg for the win… Fiend kicks out. Reigns did it again and another kick out. Alright, Braun’s out too so he went to Braun. Braun kicked out, too! And then Reigns said yeah okay, time for the chair. And he pummeled Braun with it. But Fiend got a Mandible claw for a moment and Reigns kicked him in the nuts. He speared Braun, and we have a new Universal champion.
Insanely smart. Why? How was this match going to work with three heels? It wouldn’t have been as effective as this was. Roman waited for the right time to be a smarmy jerk and let Braun and Fiend do the work for him. Roman took the easy way out. And that is how WWE has solidified him as the top heel of SmackDown.
I don’t know where we go with Braun, but one other interesting tidbit about this - Alexa Bliss was shown watching this match in the back. Are we going to get a babyface Fiend with Alexa at his side? Lastly, I would have liked new music for Roman, but screw it. This works. And I can’t wait for SmackDown this Friday.
Shocking finish we saw for this!
I don’t know what the point of using JBL to get Keith Lee to buy into some hedge fund was. JBL is good enough pre-show fodder. This was baffling.
Orton was up to his usual bullshit, sliding out of the ring and making his opponent wait for when he was ready. When he did get in, he gave Lee some vicious chops, which Lee… well, it’s Lee. It didn’t work. Lee double chopped him right to the mat! Orton got Lee out a little later and did the powerbomb onto the announce table, and then Lee slammed Orton on the announce table, too!
Vengeance for all the men Orton has done that to, and particularly the Singh Brothers.
Orton hit the draping DDT, but once again, was unable to hit the RKO because LEE HIT ONE SPIRIT BOMB AND WON!
Orton did a great job selling the power of Keith Lee. That spirit bomb looked amazing and I did not see that coming! That certainly was the biggest win of his career on his very short main roster run so far. He’s probably awoken a real viper within the legend killer. I am beaming with glee right now.
The ring gear sucks, the entrance theme sucks, but Keith Lee is a damn star.
Cero and Uno
This was a decent match, with a masterful finish.
Bayley and Sasha were working over Nia’s surgically repaired knee, and she was selling the injury pretty well. When she tagged Shayna in, Shayna was like a house afire with a gut buster and she had urgency to win, which is a nice thing to convey when you want to win a title.
But that finish - a Kirifuda clutch on Bayley, the legal woman in the match, combined with a leg lock on Sasha. Masterful. Bayley tapped out, and the golden role models era is finished.
The look of anger on Sasha’s emotional face as she stared daggers into Bayley, man. I knew that they were losing. I knew Bayley was going to be the reason why. How they did it was really cool. Sasha screamed out “NO!” when Bayley tapped because she knew what it meant.
Nia and Shayna were celebrating, well Nia much more, jumping around and shouting out her Mom. Shayna said they should go celebrate, so maybe they’ll have a decent run? She made it a point to say they’re still not best friends, but let’s see.
One full week and Sasha went from Two Beltz Banks to No Belts Sasha. Sheesh. Friday should be very exciting for the fallout for this finish, too!
The Mysterios def. Rollins and Murphy - Man, Dominik can play hot tagger and hot tagee pretty damn well. Dom did a really smooth tornado DDT and Rey when he was in the ring, he was pummeling Seth. The finish here was also really good. Seth told Murphy to kick Rey in the head, He set up the buckle bomb, Rey countered and sent Seth right into Murphy’s foot. Dom assisted his father in doing the sunset flip powerbomb to Seth while he executed a nice frog splash to win.
Rey and Dom were really great together. They actually felt like a veteran tag team! Dominik is fast becoming a “Rey Mysterio” babyface. He should after all, since the man IS his father. There looked to be some teasing of dissension between Rollins and Murphy at the end, which I felt was going to come by Murphy doing something to cost them a match, exactly what happened here. Tomorrow we get Rey vs. Seth, and it kind of telegraphed a win for the babyfaces here so I probably wouldn’t have done that, WWE.
Big E def. Sheamus - Sheamus underestimated E and gave that “okay I need to take him seriously” look. He worked over E’s left knee to take away his offense. Smart. Sheamus is super strong and he hasn’t been in the ring with guys like E to prove it lately. Most of the first half was all Sheamus, until the overhead suplexes by E rocked him. He started doing his hip thrusts and Sheamus blindsided him, which was the callback to E not being more serious.
This match was so great to prove how great of a babyface Big E can be. Sheamus hit a nasty knee strike to E and I almost thought it was over. They have very good chemistry. Sheamus fell to the Big Ending. E got in Corey Graves’ face and told him to tell us all who he is and it’s his time. I loved it so much. I want him to win the Royal Rumble next year. He deserves it.
Bobby Lashley def. Apollo Crews - Have I mentioned how much I have enjoyed Bobby Lashley since the Lana angle was dropped? He looks like a legit badass now, and he continued to prove that here. Lashley sent Crews to the outside bouncing him off the top rope, and tried to block his airway multiple times, but Crews fought back. A great moonsault to the outside and it was great to see MVP and Shelton try to trick Crews into fighting them so he could get counted out. Crews had a nice moonsault too, which he dedicated to Chadwick Boseman.
A frog splash got a 2.9 out of Lashley, but he recovered and I swear if I was on the receiving end of the chokeslam Lashley gave Crews to win, I’d never get up. Crews did though, and attacked Lashley and slid out of the ring. I’m intrigued to see where they go with this, because there’s no way MVP is just going to be okay seeing Lashley with his title. It’s generally been about him since he paired up with Lashley, so if Apollo wins it back, I think MVP will try to get it back for himself.
Matt Riddle def. King Corbin - Corbin was downright vicious to start this match. We don’t see this very often and it’s him at his best. “Riddle riding Corbin” was said by Cole, and get your minds out of the gutter, people. Riddle repeatedly tried to put Corbin to sleep and it was the only offense he was able to get in until he scouted Corbin well and remembered he slides out of the ring and tries to take down his opponent.
This Bro stuff with Riddle is kind of getting annoying because literally every move has a Bro-something and it’s all bro bro bro all the time. Good grief. He won and I’m glad, but it won’t matter because this feud isn’t over. It’s never over when you’re feuding with Corbin. He attacked him after the match just like he did with Gable last year. Sigh.
Y’all, this was a really good pay-per-view. I liked nearly everything on this show! Riddle and Corbin was the lowest point for me. Lee’s shocking win and Reigns’ excellent booking, with smart decisions in Big E’s match and the way Bayley and Sasha lost the tag titles, this may have been one of my favorite shows this year! I totally didn’t expect it to be as great as it was.
No RETRIBUTION when Roman is around. Hmmm...
What were your thoughts, Cagesiders?