The Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar: ****1/2
This wasn’t a great match in the way that Savage vs Steamboat is a great match, but there is more than one way to have a great wrestling match. I thought this was an excellent match, a fitting job for what is likely to be their final encounter.
It was billed as a Hell in a Cell match, but realistically it didn’t need to be, all of the carnage could have been done just as well in a street fight, but the Cell did add an extra sense of drama into the match. The Cell promises butchery, whether it is the Cell that actually does it is up to the performers. Both guys took some wicked bumps, and considering The Undertaker’s age and physical condition, the fact that he is still willing to get his ass absolutely kicked in a wrestling match is a Testament to how freakin’ tough the guy is.
The Undertaker and Lesnar are special performers, and they have a greater sense of timing and in-ring psychology than anybody else on the roster. There matches feel different than anything else WWE presents, and it is a welcome change from the predictability of the emblematic WWE show.
I have no idea what is next for Brock Lesnar, he has faced most of the top guys on the roster. I think we may see him go away for a while, although with both Randy Orton and John Cena absent from upcoming shows, WWE may lean on him to boost attendance and gain subscriptions.
The Undertaker getting beaten up and carried out by The Wyatt Family was ridiculous. ‘Taker already feuded with Wyatt earlier this year and it was so forgettable that WWE never acknowledged during the feud with Lesnar. In addition, Wyatt is as irrelevant as ever after getting beaten by Reigns tonight. If Reigns can beat Wyatt, than surely he is no match for ‘Taker? Wait, he is no match for The Undertaker because The Undertaker already beat him earlier this year! The only way I see this making sense is that The Undertaker is set to retire at Survivor Series and is going to go out with a win over Wyatt.
John Cena vs Alberto Del Rio: **3/4
This entire ordeal was inexplicable. And in a way it is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with the decision making behind WWE. For starters, WWE completely whiffs on an opportunity to build a new star. Rumors had been speculating for the last month or so about WWE needing a new Latin star, perhaps tied into poor ticket sales for their events in Mexico last week, although I have no direct evidence of that. First, the rumors were about WWE bringing back Carlito, then Del Rio, who showed up tonight and won the United States Championship from John Cena.
This is classic WWE problem solving. Instead of looking for a new Latin star, they brought back someone who they had already tried to make a superstar, and failed to do so. WWE pushed Del Rio to the moon, both as a babyface and as a heel, and the end result was that he never got really over as either, essentially making him a Mexican Sheamus. They tried extremely hard before giving up, ultimately deeming him expendable when he slapped a WWE employee. But when WWE apparently panicked in dire need of a Latin star, they looked back on Del Rio and convinced themselves that he was the right guy for them after all.
Don’t get me wrong, in a vacuum I think Del Rio is a fine talent. He is an excellent, versatile worker capable of brawling or working on the mat. He speaks great English and has a certain nationalistic charm. My issue is that WWE already tried this shtick with Del Rio, and it didn’t work.
The worst part about this was that WWE elected that not only was Del Rio suddenly going to be a big star, he was going to be the guy to take the US Championship from Cena. Think about all of the talent WWE sacrificed to make Cena look like a great champion, they cut momentum from Rusev, Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins (who is there freakin’ champion) all for what? So Del Rio can come in and look like Superman, dispatching Cena in about five minutes after not that much offense? This match inexplicably ended after Del Rio kicked Cena, a move he normally hits a half-dozen times during a match. Cena’s title defenses have seen him take ridiculos amounts of punishments, taking all of his opponents’ finishers and still kicking out. Not today apparently, Cena had the durability of Funaki and was beaten quickly.
During my preview of this match on Friday, I wrote that I could see Samoa Joe become Cena’s opponent and end up beating him. Another NXT call-up, such as Baron Corbin, also seemed plausible. But for one of those guys to show up and beat Cena would require WWE to commit to a new talent and try and make something out of someone. WWE is so frightened to actually throw someone into the deep end that they decided to revive a lukewarm feud from 2013 and pray for it to go somewhere. It’s farcical and it is a slap in the face to any talent that is working their ass off to try and get noticed by the company. WWE told everyone down in NXT and everyone that is drowning in the mid-card that their hard work doesn’t mean jack because when it comes time to make a decision that could actually help their careers, WWE doesn’t believe in any of them.
Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns: ****1/4
Perhaps Reigns’ best match as a singles competitor, this was as good of a match as anyone could have expected going into the event. Both Reigns and Wyatt did a solid number of spots and worked at a good pace, effectively tying their finishing moves into the high-spots to put on an entertaining match. One of the important things in this match was how it was going to differ from Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker. Obviously, the former was going to have a lot more storytelling and a lot more drama. Because of that, Wyatt and Reigns were free to go through a lot of the stereotypical spots without having to worry about stepping on the toes of the two veterans going later.
If I do have a complaint about the match it is that it had a sort of feeling about it normally reserved for John Cena matches. By that I mean that it was so obvious that Reigns was going to win this match that it was hard to take the near-falls seriously because you just know that Reigns is coming out of the match victorious, and that hurts the overall drama and uncertainty about the matches conclusion.
I don’t know what it is next for Roman Reigns, and although this feud was lengthy and full of promos and matches, I don’t really know how much it helped Reigns. He got a decent reaction tonight, but wouldn’t he have gotten the same reaction if he had a similar match before this feud began? If Reigns is going to be the next world champion he needs to be climbing up the ladder towards that goal, but it is unclear if after all that work with Wyatt he is any closer to achieving it.
Seth Rollins vs Kane: ***
Seth Rollins has been booked at times as an afterthought. Since he is WWE Champion you would believe that was possible, but WWE has shown us that indeed, it can be done. This match kind of epitomizes that. It took place in the middle of the PPV against an opponent that nobody thought could actually win and he didn’t get the normal time that is typically allotted to a world championship match. This wasn’t a terrible match and I don’t know anyone that works harder in the ring than Rollins, but he isn’t going to reach the next level as a superstar in matches like this.
The Dudley Boys vs The New Day: **1/4
This was an okay match, which saw some creativity go into the finish and it keeps the momentum firmly in the court of The New Day, who are the pillars of the tag team division. The Dudley’s have only feuded with one team, but it is pretty much a fact that it the only relevant teams in the division are The New Day and whoever The New Day is feuding with.
Charlotte vs Nikki Bella: -*
The main reason that the NXT Diva’s division has been successful is that the big matches, the ones where gold is on the line, have been very good. Yes they have gotten more time to work, yes they have an audience that is probably more receptive to women’s wrestling, but all of that would be nullified if the matches sucked. For the main roster to match the success NXT has seen, the matches have to match up to that standard. This match was not that. Not only was it not good, it was horrible. This was the worst match I have seen on a major show this year. Charlotte and Nikki just do not have good chemistry in the ring and they were way to ambitious with their spots. Charlotte had a terrible botching several moves but none worse than her spear, which is perhaps the easiest high-impact move in wrestling to deliver. Just not a good look for anybody in this match.
Kevin Owens vs Ryback: **1/4
I’m not in love with this match, and I really don’t care for what they are currently doing with Owens. The feud with Ryback never really had any juice going into it and the match had no momentum and a nothing finish. The only way I can see Owens benefiting from holding the Intercontinental Championship is if he holds it forever, the longest reign of all-time, 454 days, is doable and if he holds it that long, it wouldn’t matter if he was in some crappy feuds along the way.
On Friday, I assessed the level of change that Hell in a Cell can effect on WWE. Obviously, I don’t think we saw a lot of that today. Instead of going with a new talent WWE decided to bring back Del Rio and push him, a repeat of 2013. The Undertaker is set to feud with Bray Wyatt again, and who knows what Lesnar, Reigns and Rollins are set to do next? The show was okay, and the Cell matches were very good, but once again WWE appears to be moving backwards instead of making more progressive moves for the future.
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