WrestleMania Season Finale
– The fatal four-way between Jimmy Uso (w/Naomi), Fernando (w/Diego, El Torito), Cesaro (w/Tyson Kidd, Natalya) and Big E (w/Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods) was obvious hype for the Tag Team Championship match at Mania, with just a piece of the action teased to the viewing audience. It was no throwaway though. Some spots like the the four-man German double Suplex spot were cool. Cesaro put on a good performance, dominating with the Swing at one point, knocking his opponents down like bowling pins, but Jimmy Uso getting the nod was telling. Perhaps Kidd/Cesaro retain?
– Good to see WWE use the publicity nod to address Brock Lesnar choosing to retire from MMA and resign with WWE. Even better to use it as further hype to the main event match, which might reel in some casual fans just to see what will happen.
– The Intercontinental Championship hype video was essential in putting over the significance of the IC Title matches as show-stealers at Mania and ladder matches at Mania itself. No focusing on the belt stealing, just on the prize and the match. If only the booking had followed that format the whole time.
– The AJ Lee-Paige-Bellas in-ring segment gave that feud the last needed shot in the arm. All the talk of labels and stereotypes wasn’t necessary, but Pai-J are a unit now, and that’s what counts headed in. The “shots” between both teams was also a nice, believable exchange.
– The John Cena/Roman Reigns/Daniel Bryan/Mark Henry-Seth Rollins (w/J & J Security)/The Big Show/Kane/Bray Wyatt match was your general entertaining main event that saw Reigns look strong (shocked?) and Bryan pick himself back up with the pinfall for his team. That’s how we finish the WrestleMania hype and fair to say, it was straight-forward. To be fair, you could’ve missed this show and nothing would’ve changed, but nothing on the show was bad.
– Fatal Four-Way – Jimmy Uso (w/Naomi, Jey Uso) def. Cesaro (w/Tyson Kidd, Natalya), Big E (w/Xavier Woods, and Fernando (w/Diego, El Torito) via pinfall
– Eight-Man Tag Match – John Cena/Roman Reigns/Daniel Bryan/Mark Henry def. Seth Rollins (w/J & J Security)/The Big Show/Kane/Bray Wyatt via pinfall
– The opening video was decent as it highlighted the Daniel Bryan-Roman Reigns feud that culminated with the brawl at the end of Raw. For all the focus the feud received at the beginning of the show, not ending it on some kind of note was odd.
– The Bryan-Miz match kept the momentum from the opening video, as Bryan looked to be on point here, with no lost fans in the crowd. The segment with Miz/Mizdow smartly brought up Miz being Bryan’s former NXT Pro and tied it into their ongoing conflict. Only problem with this was that Michael Cole brought this up, and if we remember way back when, he was Bryan’s biggest critic and Miz’s biggest fan. Bryan’s submission victory kept him hot for Sunday. We knew at this point the same would probably be done for Reigns later on.
– The Ryback-Kane match wasn’t the best performance by both guys, but it didn’t overstay its welcome. If anything, the sudden Shellshocked finish was decent. Where is Ryback going though in all of this?
– The Bad News Barrett-R-Truth had “feud progression” written all over it as Dean Ambrose sat in on commentary. This was okay for the most part. Ambrose’s comments about Barrett not living up to the “pride and honor” of past Intercontinental Champions was a much better feud focus than him wanting his own face on the wall at WWE Headquarters. Why did they wait so late on that? This could’ve been a much different and better feud. At the same time, Barrett seemingly obsessed with getting his hands on Ambrose on Sunday was decent, but that was all lost when he lost by distraction. This may just seal the deal that Barrett will retain using dirty tactics on Sunday, though.
– The latest cryptic Bray Wyatt promo made him mention “the clock ticking” and told this person to find him or he will find him himself. Some development will likely come of this at or after FastLane.
– The New Day act is just not going to catch on. Their new Thriller-like dance routine won’t do the trick either. The Ascension promo was just more of their trashing of past tag team legends. Yawn. The Xavier Woods/Big E-Ascension match mainly served as enhancement for The Ascension to keep their roll going. So much for Hump Day.
– The Roman Reigns-Luke Harper match was shorter than expected as Reigns more or less made quick work of Harper. The spear finish was somewhat cool, but Harper wasn’t perceived as much a threat here as opposed to earlier this week.
– The Big Show-Erick Rowan match sure did Rowan no favors as it was a completely anticlimactic Show squash. Boredom central.
– The Cameron-Paige match with The Bellas on commentary followed the same path as past weeks. Not much more they could add to this. Paige won by PTO. Do we even care about this Divas Title match coming up? It’s hard to root for Paige when she has obstacles you’d find between high schoolers and their bullies.
– The Goldust backstage interview hyped his FastLane match against Stardust and was okay as he described Stardust as a “cancer eating my brother alive.” The Stardust interruption on the titantron screen was also a cool touch that let him say what he wanted to say. This feud is really just starting, but there’s promise here. Hopefully, this leads to Cody Rhodes making his eventual return and new gimmick. What hasn’t he been these days?
– The Cesaro/Tyson Kidd/Natalya boxed promo was solid but nothing memorable. Fact. The match that followed with Kidd taking on Jimmy Uso never had a chance to get going because Rusev came out and took out everyone. We got the point, but did we need to dismantle a feud here?
– The Dolph Ziggler-Seth Rollins Match was good for what it was. Ryback and Rowan acting as Ziggler’s cheerleaders was questionable, but the main focus was to keep Rollins hot. The Authority sought extra dominance and beat down Ryback and Rowan. Not sure what it actually accomplished besides making The Authority remain strong, but it filled the time.
– Daniel Bryan def. The Miz (w/Damien Mizdow) via submission
– Ryback def. Kane via pinfall
– R-Truth def. Bad News Barrett via pinfall
– The Ascension def. Xavier Woods/Big E (w/Kofi Kingston) via pinfall
– Roman Reigns def. Luke Harper via pinfall
– The Big Show def. Erick Rowan via pinfall
– Paige def. Cameron via submission
– Jimmy Uso (w/Jey Uso, Naomi) and Tyson Kidd (w/Cesaro, Natalya) to a No-Contest
– J & J Security Barred From Ringside – Seth Rollins def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall
– Is John Cena the only person who gets his name announced when just coming out for a promo? The promo-turned-brawl with him and Rusev was similar to last week, but the added twist was Cena’s more aggressive nature. While it’s necessary and sure, Cena should seek to overcome an undefeated beast and the “fight to respect” angle is okay, but what about the United States Championship on the line here? Is that at all important? It’s definitely not the focus of this feud and that’s doing a disservice to the Belt and what Rusev has done with it.
– The bit with Dean Ambrose doing a news segment taking a shot against Bad News Barrett came across random, but this feud could be taken so much more seriously, considering it’s for the Intercontinental Championship.
– The Ambrose-Luke Harper match was treated like an evenly matched bout that had Ambrose fight to get his victory, but him on top was predictable with his obsession with getting Barrett to sign a contract before Sunday. Why would he lose here?
– The backstage segment with Big Show, Kane and Triple H put over Kane and Show’s arguments. Show Face turn #457 imminent?
– The latest Bray Wyatt cryptic promo had him explain how his fear turned into pity. Or something like that. Would Undertaker just acknowledge this already?
– The backstage segment with The Rhodes family was okay as Dusty Rhodes motivated them to stand together. A turn was so coming here. You could just smell it.
– The Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods (w/Big E)-Gold & Stardust match had most focus on Gold & Stardust trying to work together with constant cuts to Dusty Rhodes watching backstage. This paid off with New Day getting the win and Stardust inevitably hitting his finisher on Goldust – full turn? Maybe not, but leading to a match where it will be more set in stone.
– The backstage interview with Roman Reigns was interesting in his approach of the term “public opinion.” His mic work is far better with this more “tweener” character.
– It was good to have Daniel Bryan out to scout the Reigns-Kane match from ringside on commentary as he talked about being surprised by Reign’s comments. Him playing innocent was entertaining, but the Yes! laps seemed a bit forced.
– The Stardust-Dusty Rhodes interaction put over Stardust’s animosity towards his family. Plain and simple.
– The Reigns-Kane match was okay, though more distracted by Bryan’s commentary as solid as it was. Reigns winning by countout was kind of weak.
– The backstage interview with Bryan was more of what he said on commentary. Public opinion.
– The second Wyatt promo was too brief to make anything of.
– The backstage segment with Paige and The Bellas and Rosebuds was a big bowl of WTF soup. Are we supposed to feel sorry for Paige getting her gear stolen or relief for her probably coming out as a fairy for her match later? Plus, you’re telling us she only has one ring attire outfit? Gosh – get some backups, girl!
– The Summer Rae-Paige match told the story of Paige “bouncing back” though it probably accomplished the creation of Internet memes more than anything. Paige won again by tap out. The Bella Twins coming out and exchange between Nikki and Paige was decent hype towards their FastLane match, but why can’t we just focus on athleticism rather than outfits and spray tan?
– The Seth Rollins in-ring promo was par for the course of his usual promos, not bad though. Ziggler’s interruption was good but you had to cringe at the slight sexual references considering the last week Rollins really had. You’d think WWE would want to avoid that road entirely. The match was pretty good but stopped before it could get going, as J & J Security interfered as Ziggler was about to get a three count. The save with Rowan and Ryback getting payback was okay, but keeping these three guys together so long is doing more harm than hurt.
– The announcement for MizTV featuring Paul Heyman on the FastLane pre-show should be interesting to say the least.
– The segment with Triple H addressing Sting was going the usual way until the random surprise appearance by Ric Flair. This was all good as Flair tried to praise Sting up and Triple H gained heat by claiming he was the WWE and pushed Flair to the ground in a rage. Best hype on the show.
– From the looks of The Ascension-Darren Young/Unnamed match that never took place, it was to make The Ascension look good and set up the moment of Titus O’Neil saving his old partner. A PTP reunion to feud with The Ascension sounds interesting. It would also be good to see them back together as they work best together.
– The backstage segment with The Miz and Barrett set things up for the match later. We can believe Miz “has people,” but Barrett? What does he do that’s so big?
– The Damien Mizdow (w/The Miz)-Barrett match carried on the storyline of Miz purposely costing Mizdow the match and just being a Hollywood douche. The spot with Ambrose tying Barrett’s hands to the post to get him to sign the contract was a bit corny, albeit decent way to have Ambrose outsmart Barrett, though Barrett could argue he never consented. JBL asking for Jack Tunney was hilarious.
– The third Wyatt promo was more of the same as he took a hammer to something unseen.
– The Jimmy Uso/Naomi (w/Jey Uso)-Tyson Kidd/Natalya (w/Cesaro) mixed tag was short, but furthered tension between Kidd and Natalya. Natalya and Naomi also worked pretty well together.
– Reigns being ringside for the Bryan-Show match eventually signing autographs and throwing shirts into the crowd was his way of payback. Why Bryan would be enraged at that is beyond us. The front row fans got their money’s worth with that at least. Once Reigns got speared by Show, you had to know Reigns would get revenge and likely cost Bryan the match. The post match Reigns-Bryan brawl was well-done as it just kept going and going. Where was this when we needed it before? Was this too much too late?
– Dean Ambrose def. Luke Harper via pinfall
– Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods (w/Big E) def. Gold & Stardust via pinfall
– Roman Reigns def. Kane via countout
– Paige def. Summer Rae via submission
– Dolph Ziggler def. Seth Rollins (w/J & J Security) via DQ
– Bad News Barrett def. Damien Mizdow (w/The Miz) via pinfall
– Mixed Tag – Jimmy Uso/Naomi def. Tyson Kidd/Natalya (w/Cesaro) via pinfall
– The Big Show def. Daniel Bryan via DQ
Shaken To The Core
– The opening video that highlighted Triple H’s big announcement seemed to add cheers for Roman Reigns in the Rumble when that wasn’t the case.
– The “Announcement” segment with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon at least seemed important as all the roster watched backstage on the monitor. Are Dolph Ziggler and Ryback inseparable now? All this “controversy” talk is getting old. Trips referred to the #CancelWWENetwork hashtag by making an NFL joke. How cutting edge. WWE actually lucked out in that they could claim that The Rock helped Reigns being he interfered in the match before the finish. Reigns got a favorable reaction here, though still mixed, and he showed good intensity. Daniel Bryan coming out was also an interesting way to wake the crowd up and plead his logical rematch case. Seth Rollins coming out with an argument of another Title shot also fit his character. The proposed Bryan-Rollins match later to face Reigns at Fast Lane to face Lesnar at WrestleMania was probably the best way to take Bryan out of the Title picture and make Reigns’ Rumble victory untainted. This whole thing kind of threw out the purpose of the Royal Rumble match itself. Who needs stipulations these days?
– Oh great. Another Big Show-Reigns match. It was more of the same. Show winning with interference from Rollins and J & J Security was more Authority screw games. On a side note, why does Rollins get another free chance when he can just cash in for WrestleMania regardless of the outcome of tonight’s match? Sure you can say there is The Authority behind things, but logically, it lacks.
– Do Trips and Stephanie know there are cameras on them in their backstage “scheming” segments? The crowd can hear you. It’s like watching your friends discuss your surprise birthday plans right in front of you.
– Curtis Axel’s promo about never being eliminated in the Rumble match wanting justice, challenging Lesnar at WrestleMania made some memes come to life. Dean Ambrose coming out to fight him made no sense initially, but set up his challenge to Bad News Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship. Of course, Axel tried to get revenge and ended up laid out again. One day he’ll get justice. Expect some kind of match between Axel and Ambrose later this week.
– The Ascension-Gold & Stardust rematch from Smackdown was a way to give The Ascension another win without damaging another team, more or less. This also set up a possible tease of Gold & Stardust breaking up as we saw in the ring and backstage. Maybe not at Fast Lane, but WrestleMania?
– John Cena really needed to “welcome” the “fired trio” back to Raw? Didn’t they come back a week and a half ago on Smackdown? Cena’s argument of Triple H having an idea of the future with NXT to “take his spot” was a stretch to mention. NXT is actually better than Raw, so that makes Triple H look better in fans’ eyes. Dolph Ziggler was good to mouth off, but this set up matches “by Stephanie” with Luke Harper-Ryback, Ziggler-Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan-Rusev.
– The Harper-Ryback match was okay for what it was. Ryback came out with the win, but Harper was also no pushover by any means.
– The Jimmy Uso (w/Jey Uso, Naomi)-Cesaro (w/Tyson Kidd, Natalya) match was okay. There was more storyline furthering with Natalya and Kidd, with Kidd upset with Natalya because of double-date plans she made. The match itself was okay, but the Upper Cut finish was great as Cesaro got the pinfall, having the Usos “number.” Kidd also threw in a cheap shot for heat.
– The backstage segment with The Miz and Damien Mizdow where Miz “fired and rehired” Mizdow to make him his personal assistant kept their confrontations entertaining. It’s hard to not laugh at Mizdow now mimicking Miz out of spite. Miz deserves props for running as far as possible with his “A-List Movie Star” gimmick, which basically makes the storyline what it is. This also teased us that perhaps Mizdow would turn on Miz in his match.
– The Rowan-Cena backstage segment was an odd one. Rowan looked good for thanking, but we pretty much knew Rowan would get demolished by Rusev.
– The Ziggler-Wyatt match was very good down the stretch, with both guys looking good. The finish probably caught most people off-guard as Wyatt pretty much no-sold the Fameasser to turn into Sister Abigail. Very good though. Wyatt’s on a clear push again, but does WWE see plans for him past WrestleMania?
– The backstage segment with Triple H, Stephanie and Rollins was mainly more about the “crowd manipulation” and taking shots at Randy Orton, who never even showed up. This teased that maybe Orton would have a role in the main event, but that never materialized.
– The Bella Twins on commentary added fuel to the fire with Paige-Nikki Bella for the Divas Title announced at Fast Lane. The Paige-Alicia Fox match was meh. The Bellas were more distracting on commentary, even though they hyped the Fast Lane match pretty well. Fox got some heat and the Bellas sprayed tanning spray on Paige, which also furthered things. Not outrageous heat, but just enough.
– The Miz (w/Damien Mizdow)-Sin Cara match was entertaining with Mizdow standing outside yet still playing to the crowd and Sin Cara even looked decent in the ring. Mizdow cost Miz the match, which furthered things with them. The cryptic Wyatt promo interrupted the moment, which was likely aimed at The Undertaker again. It will be exciting to see how things break down in the coming weeks with that.
– Rusev’s beatdown on Rowan was pretty much what we expected. On a side note, if Rowan was comfortable with a “new outlook on life,” why would he still wear a sheep mask to the ring, the sign of a follower? Probably because the mask is the only thing fans could associate him with. A change in music would also really help him. This was at least a way to keep Rowan off the record books with a loss and keep Rusev undefeated. The Lana promo set up the Rusev “cinematic” hype video, which wasn’t anything we haven’t seen in the ring. The Russian flag getting caught in the ceiling seemed like a botch, but the broadcast team covered it well and Rusev/Lana ran with it by acting pissed.
– The Reigns and Bryan segment backstage was intense, but that was needed. It’s good to see the two clash. Reigns came off like a heel against Bryan and looking back at this with the end of the show, it kind of made no sense for Reigns to want to help Bryan, though Reigns could brag to Bryan that he helped him win. This would’ve been the perfect spot for Orton to return.
– The Rollins (w/J & J Security)-Bryan main event was good in-ring action and dramatic as it went on. Reigns coming down to the ring to spear Show made some sense in the perspective of Reigns getting back at the Authority and Bryan getting the win keeps his momentum going and makes the Reigns-Bryan match at Fastlane official. Once again, Bryan may work himself into WrestleMania plans. Interesting outcome. Either way, still bank on Reigns-Lesnar at WrestleMania, but it might not just be them there.
– The Big Show (w/Seth Rollins, J & J Security) def. Roman Reigns via pinfall
– The Ascension def. Gold & Stardust via pinfall
– Ryback def. Luke Harper via pinfall
– Cesaro (w/Natalya, Tyson Kidd) def. Jimmy Uso (w/Jey Uso, Naomi)
– Bray Wyatt def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall
– Page def. Alicia Fox via pinfall
– Sin Cara def. The Miz (w/Damien Mizdow) via pinfall
– Winner Faces Roman Reigns At Fast Lane For WWE World Heavyweight Championship WrestleMania Title Shot – Daniel Bryan def. Seth Rollins (w/J & J Security) via pinfall
Bury The Hatchet (In A Casket)
– Having Triple H lead off the show by gloating about a live Smackdown and WWE Network reaching 1 million subscribers was expected. His comparison of the Royal Rumble “controversy” to the Super Bowl controversy didn’t quite make sense and was more set up for testicular-related humor we’d expect of DX-era Triple H. Him addressing Sting was also good and their eventual confrontation is bound to be newsworthy. WWE also definitely hasn’t shied away from the Philly crowd reaction. It actually seemed they were using the “controversy” to their advantage by drawing so much attention to it and using it to push Roman Reigns in a way. The announcement Trips will make on next week’s Raw more than likely has to do with The Authority making Reigns’ life a living hell, but it could also be directed towards Sting. Something to keep an eye out for.
– The Big Show-Reigns match had some boos early, which made it sound like the reaction wasn’t just Philly-exclusive, but a “mixed reaction” was a step up if anything. Reigns is almost like the new John Cena with how crowds receive him as the adult males boo and everyone else cheers. The hurricanrana spot on Show over the top rope was a little hard to believe in (no pun intended) as Show waited a few seconds too long to flip off the turnbuckle. The match ending with the multiple Superman punches and Spear was sort of lame. While it was smart for Cole to mention Reigns needing wins to win over critics, a win over the Big Show won’t do it.
– The Mr. McMahon announcement giving February free for new WWE Network subscribers wasn’t anything we didn’t know before. Some token of appreciation for people who signed up from the beginning would also be nice perhaps?
– Seth Rollins was great in his gloating promo to give an open challenge – as usual. He does give it all in the ring, so he could really say what he wants. It works. As we ended up seeing, the “Fired Trio” of Ryback, Erick Rowan and Dolph Ziggler all came down one at a time to take Rollins on and ended up coming short of getting their hands on J & J Security as all the heels backed away. A revenge angle, evidently. Some sort of six-way match will probably go down on Raw. Rowan looked good making the save, but if WWE wants him to get bigger reactions, they have to change his music to something more “crowd-grabbing.”
– Kane’s casket-related promo started out like some kind of weird how-to instruction video on caskets. Dark? Not so much. He was seemingly just rambling. More direction than Bray Wyatt, but still.
– The Jey Uso (w/Naomi, Jimmy)-Tyson Kidd (w/Cesaro, Natalya) match furthered the feud between the two teams as Kidd won with indirect interference help from Cesaro. It also seemed the problems with Natalya and Kidd have simmered down. Having Kidd/Cesaro with the momentum can only be good, as The Usos are already a strong team.
– Rusev and Lana’s promo about them being eliminated in the Royal Rumble was typical heel complaining. John Cena’s promo interruption was actually pretty good and somewhat edgy once he uttered the words “pubes and boobs,” which turned the Hartford crowd reaction more positive. Rusev backing away just makes their eventual match somewhat of a payoff. Somewhat.
– The announcement of the Divas Title match at Fastlane between Paige and Nikki Bella came as no shocker. This should’ve happened at the Rumble. We haven’t seen any follow-up with Paige and Natalya either.
– The Paige/Bellas backstage segment had Paige get the “mean girls” treatment. Paige looked tough for initially attacking Brie, but the Bellas got the better of the exchange and walked away with their heads held up high. Decent hype.
– The Gold & Stardust-Ascension match wasn’t all that exciting. The Ascension boxed promo had them make fun of the New Age Outlaws and target Gold & Stardust because of Goldust’s old age. The Ascension didn’t dominate per se, but them coming out on top was expected, given that Gold & Stardust haven’t won a match in forever.
– The backstage segment with that magician dude, Alicia Fox, Zack Ryder and R-Truth, The Miz and Damien Mizdow was about Mizdow getting preferred over Miz by the magician and Miz ending up with egg on his face all too literally. So campy.
– Bray Wyatt’s promo wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy besides mentioning smiles. What could that possibly mean?
– The Daniel Bryan-Kane casket match was lengthy as it almost had the show’s last half hour and seemed to finally bury their feud. How symbolic. The crowd was also hot for Bryan the whole time and we have to wonder just what Bryan will be doing for Fastlane. This guy is still getting money reactions. The injury return only makes him someone fans will buy into more.
– Roman Reigns def. The Big Show via pinfall
– Tyson Kidd (w/Cesaro, Natalya) def. Jey Uso (w/Jimmy Uso, Naomi) via pinfall
– The Ascension def. Gold & Stardust via pinfall
– Casket Match – Daniel Bryan def. Kane