Date: April 26, 2015
Venue: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
Bad News Barrett vs. Neville (8/10)
Set-Up: This was supposed to be Barrett having his rematch with Daniel Bryan for the Intercontinental Title, but Bryan’s injuries have sadly been acting up again. Barrett was moved to the pre-show, while the tag team match was moved to the main card. Barrett still wanted to fight, so newcomer from NXT Adrian Neville was brought out to compete.
The Match: Barrett knocks down Neville with a shoulder block. Neville turns an arm drag into a pinfall attempt. Barrett takes charge before Neville handstands multiple times to back away. Neville sends Barrett outside with a leg scissors takedown and dropkick. He dives outside, but is caught and slammed onto the apron. He is then tossed into the barrier and we get a commercial break! Even the pre-show matches for PPVs are supposed to air uninterrupted. After a commercial plugging the WWE Network that I’m already using, we get back to the match to see Neville in a headlock. This is starting to look a little too much like an episode of Raw. Barrett knees Neville in the abdomen. The high-flier tries to get out of his situation with a head scissors, but gets kicked in the gut for his troubles. Barrett makes failed pin and gets Neville in the corner, where he clubs him in the back. Neville finally gets some offense again with a kick over the top rope, but he immediately runs into a boot.
Neville kicks out again and Barrett uses the top rope for extra leverage on a backbreaker. Barrett applies a headlock. Neville manages to punch his way out and delivers a few more fists once he escapes. He slides under Barrett, who turns into a kick to the head. Barrett is knocked outside and Neville dives onto him. Back inside, Neville hits a German suplex pin, which looks very impressive since he’s way shorter than Barrett. Barrett kicks out and Neville goes to the corner for the Red Arrow. Barrett stops him and hits Winds of Change. Neville manages to kick out just in time. Barrett sets him up for Wasteland. Neville escapes to the other side of the ropes and jumps at Barrett, only to be caught in another Wasteland attempt. Barrett hits his secondary finisher, but Neville kicks out in the nick of time. Barrett attacks with the Bull Hammer. Neville ducks and hits an enziguri. With Barrett on the mat, Neville climbs the turnbuckle for the Red Arrow. Barrett gets up and throws another Bull Hammer. Neville jumps over it, knocks down Barrett, and hits the Red Arrow for the win.
Thoughts: This was a fantastic match! I’m so glad Neville is on the main roster now. He’s having consistently great matches and his tiny stature really gives him an underdog quality. There was never a dull moment here. Even the long heel beatdown kept me entertained throughout. If there is one complaint, it’s that Barrett’s Wasteland should really be a finisher like it used to be. The announcers always act like it’s final when he hits it, but then everyone kicks out of it.
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper in a Street Fight
Set-Up: Basically, two of the madmen of the WWE, Lunatic Fringe Dean Ambrose and large sweaty hillbilly Luke Harper, kept getting into brawls, resulting in undecided matches. It was decided that they could get their feud over with in a street fight.
Ambrose charges Harper before he can enter the ring. After a light beating he throws him in and the match officially starts. Ambrose hits a crossbody and knocks Harper back out with a jump kick. He throws him into the steel steps. Ambrose pulls a kendo stick from under the ring and whales on his opponent in the ring. Ambrose also grabs a chair, but actually sits on it while looking over a beaten Harper. He sets the chair down and gets Harper in position for a suplex. Harper manages to reverse their positions and hits the suplex instead. He grabs the kendo stick and gets revenge for earlier. Harper sets the chair up in the corner. Ambrose goes for a DDT, but finds himself whipped into the chair. Ambrose recovers fast and suplexes Harper onto the same object. He hits a top rope DDT, followed by a series of punches and chops. Harper gets off his sidekick, but the Lunatic Fringe shrugs it off and hits him with a dropkick, followed by a flying elbow from the turnbuckle. Harper shoves Ambrose off as he goes for Dirty Deeds. Ambrose does his patented clothesline off the ropes, but is cut short with a boot. They take the fight outside the ring. Harper whips Ambrose against the ring, but he manages to pull himself onto the apron and spin around. Ambrose gets the upper hand and chases Harper backstage. After a brawl in the production area Harper knocks down Ambrose and gets into a big car. Just as he gets the engines going, Ambrose leaps the passenger seat and they drive out of the arena!
To be continued…
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus (7/10)
Set-Up: The night after Wrestlemania, Sheamus made his big return from injury with a new look: a mohawk and braided beard. Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler, who had just had a grueling Intercontinental Title match, were being laid out by Bad News Barrett. Sheamus rushed in to drive off Barrett, and then Brogue kicked Bryan and Ziggler, turning heel. Over the next several weeks he talked about how everybody had forgotten about him and now he was going to take out the fancy high-flyers. He set his sights on Dolph Ziggler and got a Kiss Me Arse Match. The loser would have to kiss the ass of the winner.
The Match: Sheamus slaps Ziggler. Ziggler flies off the handle and tears into him. After a dropkick he charges the Irishman and they fall to the outside. Sheamus throws Ziggler into the steel steps. Ziggler comes back with his leaping DDT. They go back inside, where Sheamus hits what looks like the knee version of the Brogue kick. He knees Ziggler in the head again and hits him with a series of clubs. “Kiss my arse!” exclaims Sheamus. Ziggler escapes a headlock, only to be hit with a sit-out powerbomb and almost pinned. Sheamus hits a short-arm clothesline. “Little fellas don’t belong my ring!” Ziggler escapes another headlock and makes his comeback with punches, forearms, and then two splashes to the corner. Sheamus knocks him down on another splash and starts applying the Cloverleaf. Ziggler reverses it into a pin. Sheamus kicks out and gets superkicked. Ziggler covers him again and Sheamus kicks out. Sheamus catches him mid-charge and hits the Irish Curse Backbreaker. He throws hi shoulder first into the ring post. Sheamus charges with the Brogue Kick. Ziggler counters this into a roll-up. Sheamus escapes and goes for a basic suplex. Ziggler reverses this and actually gets a three-count!
After the match, Sheamus spends three minutes whining, aghast that he has to kiss Ziggler on the butt cheek. He is finally made by the ref to get on his knees. Ziggler pulls up his tights. Sheamus low blows him and hits a Brogue Kick. He pulls up his own tights and rubs Ziggler’s face against it. WWE officials make no attempt to have him honor the rules the next night on Raw.
Thoughts: This match could have been great. In fact, it was going great. Sheamus really looked dominant and Ziggler only beat him by turning on the speed and countering at the right moments. The match could have gone on for at least another two to three minutes. There were also several big signature moves that they never even attempted, such as Ziggler’s Zig Zag. The post-match stuff went on a little long and it’s ridiculous that you can just decide to ignore the match stipulation if you don’t want to do it.
The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (c) for the Tag Team Title (9/10)
Set-Up: WWE Creative saw a bunch of black wrestlers with no storylines, so they decided to throw three of them (Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods) into a faction called the New Day. Instead of doing something awesome they, like most black wrestlers in the WWE, were turned into smiling, dancing characters. Their gimmick seems to be that of over-positive people that like to clap. The fans quickly turned on them, chanting “New Day Sucks” in rhythm with their claps. By contrast, the heel team of Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, the latter treating his wife Natalya Neidhart crap, were being cheered because they were both excellent in-ring wrestlers who guaranteed exciting matches. Cesaro and Kidd won the tag title at Fastlane and retained at Wrestlemania. The New Day started to acknowledge the fan hatred and tried to stay positive, but slowly found themselves turning villainous as Xavier Woods started cheating to get them major victories. One such victory earned them a title match at Extreme Rules.
The Match: Kofi Kingston and Tyson Kidd start off. Kidd gets a lock on Kingston’s arm, twisting it around the middle rope. After a backslide pin attempt, they tag in Cesaro and Big E. Cesaro catches Big E and slams him. He and Kidd double team him in the corner. Kingston and Kidd are tagged back in. Kingston throws out Kidd and goes for an outside dive. Kidd catches him with a kick and Kingston is thrown to the floor. Kidd flies onto him and then gets clothesline by Big E. Back in the ring, Kingston dropkicks Kidd a couple times and makes a failed pin. Big E is tagged in. Kidd avoids a body splash. Big E charge him and he pulls down the top rope, sending the big guy flying outside. Cesaro is tagged in and slams Kingston. He then whips him back and forth between two of the corners, delivering running uppercuts each time. Cesaro hits a clothesline and catapults Kingston into a turnbuckle. Kingston counters into a crossbody, but is caught and slammed. Cesaro hits a superplex.
This whole time Xavier Woods has been outside freaking out at the “New Day Sucks” chants. Tyson Kidd tags in and hits Kingston with a flying elbow. Kingston stops him from locking on the Sharpshooter. Big E knocks Kidd to the floor. Cesaro charges him, but gets caught and dropped. Big E and Kingston hit their double team finisher. Cesaro breaks the pin and goes outside with Big E. Kidd locks the sharpshooter on Kingston. Big E intervenes and just tosses Kidd across the ring. Cesaro tags in and uppercuts Big E. He and Kidd do their big swing/dropkick combo to Kingston. Cesaro goes for the pin, but Woods distracts the ref. Natalya slaps Woods, but the distraction already enables Kingston to grab Cesaro’s tights and roll him up for the win.
Thoughts: I can’t believe this match was going to be on the pre-show. It was the best of the night. There were no dull moments, Kingston and Kidd provided a lot of high-flying fun, and Cesaro and Big E are just so freakishly strong. I love the New Day as frustrated babyfaces turning heel in order to win. I think this is the first time Kofi Kingston has ever been heel. I might have been too generous with the rating, but this was the most thoroughly engrossing match of the night for me.
Backstage, Renee Young interviews a super-happy New Day. They are interrupted when a van crashes into the backstage area. It’s the same one Harper used to drive out of the arena!
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper (8/10)
Harper is thrown out of the van. Ambrose stands on top of the car and flies off. Harper gets out of the way, but Ambrose bowls over the New Day! They brawl back into the ring, where Harper hits a superkick. Ambrose bounces back off the ropes with a clothesline. They grab a bunch of chairs from under the ring and throw them onto the mat. Harper gets the upper hand and powerbombs Ambrose onto a chair. He then buries him in a pile of chairs and goes up top. As Harper does a taunt, Ambrose escapes from the pile and slams his opponent onto the chairs. Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds and wins.
Thoughts: This was a highly entertaining street fight. In the current PG Era you can’t be too brutal, so you have to go for wild antics, such as leaving the arena while fighting inside a car or burying someone under a pile of chairs. It should be noted that this is Dean Ambrose’s first PPV win in almost a year.
Rusev (w/Lana) vs. John Cena (c) in a Russian Chain Match for the United States Title (7/10)
Set-Up: Angry over his Wrestlemania loss, Rusev attacked John Cena with a chain. In the WWE, all you have to do is attack somebody with a certain kind of weapon and it becomes a gimmick match. Last year, Seth Rollins kept putting John Cena through tables, so they made a tables match. Big Show and Eric Rowan threw stairs at each other, so they got a stairs match. So here Rusev and John Cena are in a chain match for the United State Title. It’s basically a strap match with a chain, meaning that you have to touch four corners in a row to win.
The Match: Rusev and Cena play tug-of-war. Rusev gets the first hit, whipping Cena into a corner and body splashing him. He hits two corners before Cena suplexes him. Cena gets all the way to three when he is hit in the back with a double axe handle. Rusev gets two corners, but can’t get to the third, so he throws Cena over the top rope. He goes outside and uses the chain, wrapped around the top rope, to string up Cena and lay into him with kicks and headbutts. Rusev suplexes Cena back into the ring. Cena manages to set up the Attitude Adjustment, but Rusev gets out of it and beats him with the chain. They end up outside, where Cena pulls Rusev into a ringpost twice. Cena hits two corners, but is pulled back into a heel kick. Rusev whips Cena some more. He gets up to three corners, but Cena moves outside the ring, preventing the Bulgarian from moving on to the fourth.
Rusev gets onto the turnbuckle to hit Cena some more, but is pulled off by the chain, on which he lands. Cena capitalizes by wrapping the chain around his hand and hitting him. He the hits some shoulder blocks, but gets caught in a fallaway slam. Rusev kicks him in the head and notices that Lana is posing for a cheering crowd. Angry at her for stealing some of the spotlight, he yells at her to go backstage. Lana complies. Cena knocks down Rusev and hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Rusev counters the Attitude Adjustment into an Alabama Slam. He goes for the Accolade, but it is reversed into the STF using the chain. Cena gets up to three corners before Rusev recovers and pulls him back. Cena fails the Attitude Adjustment again, this time getting locked into the Accolade. Cena stands up and tries to knock off Rusev by ramming him into the corners, which proves to be stupid as he gives his enemy two corners. Rusev lets go and tries to finish up the count. But Cena recovers and they end up tied with three corners each. Cena pulls Rusev into an Attitude Adjustment attempt. This time he hits it and hits a fourth corner for the victory.
Thoughts: A lot of people complained about this match. I thought it was good, not great. The main problem was that the chain was a little too long, so they were getting up to three corners pretty fast. Also, the PG rating disabled them from trying any brutal stunts. Later on the show, Lana says that she has arranged an I Quit match at Payback between Rusev and Cena, which is pretty much the dumbest thing you can do. Cena never gives up, so an I Quit match also ends badly for his opponents.
Nikki Bella (c) (w/Brie Bella) vs. Naomi for the Diva’s Title (5/10)
Set-Up: Naomi won a bunch of matches, establishing herself as a No. 1 contender for the Women’s Title. However, Director of Operations Kane was bugged by a bunch of other divas into making a battle royal to determine the challengers. Naomi lost to Paige in the finale and flipped out, beating Paige so badly that she regained her contendership. This is actually a heel vs. heel match, since the Bellas are still cheating to win matches and Naomi now has a bad attitude.
The Match: Naomi comes out wearing some awful, garish gear, including neon boots which flash different colors and ridiculous 3D glasses. Naomi drives Nikki against the ropes. Nikki pushes back and locks on an armbar. Naomi breaks the hold by getting her leg in the ropes. Naomi dominates with an elbow, suplex, headlock, and a slam. She makes a couple pinfall attempts, but Nikki keeps kicking out. Nikki gets a roll-up, but Naomi kicks out and bulldogs her into a lower turnbuckle. Naomi is slammed into a corner. She responds with a kick to Nikki’s head. Naomi takes the match outside, where she kicks Brie Bella. Nikki gets in a flurry of offense with a kick, lariat, two dropkicks, a clothesline, and an Alabama slam. Naomi kicks out and hits a neck breaker drop. She goes for a moonsault, but Nikki dodges it. Nikki lifts her for the Rack Attack, but Naomi slips out of it. Nikki kicks Naomi towards the ropes, where Brie delivers her own kick. Naomi is hit with the Rack Attack and pinned.
Thoughts: This was an okay match. It’s nice to see the female wrestlers actually getting more time and winning without roll-ups. Still, WWE tends to push women based on looks rather than in-ring ability, so they aren’t the best wrestlers.
Big Show vs. Roman Reigns in a Last Man Standing Match (8/10)
Set-Up: After losing his world title match at Wrestlemania and having Orton go after Rollins, Roman Reigns found himself a little directionless. He was moved into a feud with Authority member the Big Show and fans groaned. They were even more frustrated when they learned it was going to be a Last Man Standing Match. For the past few years the Big Show has become a very slow wrestler, so a match built around people knocking each other down and waiting for the ref to count to ten sounded very unappealing. Could they make this a good, or at least entertaining match?
The Match: They trade punches and kicks before Reigns runs into a shoulder from the Big Show. Big Show knocks him down again. Reigns goes outside and grabs a table from under the ring. The Big Show hits him and actually puts the effort in putting it back! Reigns knocks him into the ring post and hits a running dropkick. Reigns gets the table again and sets it up. The Big Show throws him into the barricade. Show then uses his hand to smash the table! Since the tables thing isn’t working out, Reigns gets a Kendo stick, but Show turns the tide and slams him into a post. Reigns is down. He gets up around the count of six. The Big Show snaps the Kendo stick. He seems to be focused on removing every weapon from this match. Back in the ring, Reigns boots a charging Show in the face. He lunges at him with a punch, but is cut off. The ref gets to six before Reigns makes it back to his feet. Reigns hits Show with a guillotine drop off the ropes. He beats on the larger athlete with a chair and DDTs him onto it. The Big Show gets up at the count of seven.
Reigns grabs two tables and sets them up by each other. Before he can do anything with them he gets hit with the KO punch. Reigns gets up at eight. The Big Show finally uses a weapon, setting up a table. Reigns counters a chokeslam and Samoan drops his opponent through the table. They are almost counted out as they lay there, but get up by eight. Reigns sets up a table in the corner and then turns into a spear. He gets up at eight. Show ascends to the turnbuckle, but is hit and lands on his balls, eliciting a loud cry of pain. Reigns slams the Big Show from the turnbuckle. The Big Show gets up at eight. Reigns hits him with a series of Superman Punches, but the giant won’t go down. Reigns is caught in a chokehold on his third try and sent over the rope into the two tables he set up earlier!
Reigns stands up in the nick of time. The Big Show puts steel steps by the announcers’ table. He gets back int he ring and tries to spear Reigns through the table in the corner. He misses and goes through himself. He gets up at eight and the fight goes to the announce tables. Show is speared into the timekeeper’s area. He gets up at eight and beats down Reigns. He stands on the Spanish announcer’s table. Reigns spears him again, sending him through the table. Show barely beats the ten count. Reigns grabs the English announcer’s table and buries the Big Show with it.The ref counts to ten and Reigns wins.
Thoughts: This was a shockingly good match. I thought it was going to be a long-winded boring affair, but they managed to do a lot of awesome table spots. I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining the Big Show was. Lately his singles matches have been very boring, but here he was doing all sorts of fun little things, like smashing up a table and shouting goofy things (especially that cry of pain when he landed on his crotch). Roman Reigns has now been in three great PPV matches.
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (c) (w/Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury) for the World Heavyweight Title in a Steel Cage (6/10)
Set-Up: Randy Orton got his revenge on Rollins at Wrestlemania, but now he wanted a World Title match. He and Rollins each got to come up with a stipulation for said title match. Rollins banned the RKO, while Orton demanded a steel cage to avoid interference from the Authority. At the same time Rollins was running down Authority member Kane on the mic. Kane in turn called him out as an entitle brat who was only world champion through his efforts. Kane was made the official gatekeeper for the steel cage, much to Rollins’ chagrin.
The Match: Rollins tries to climb out of the cage right at the beginning. Orton stops him and delivers a clothesline. Rollins spends a minute beating Rollins around the cage. Orton catapults him into the cage wall. Rollins actually grabs onto the cage and starts climbing again. Orton stops him. Rollins hits a corner powerbomb. Kane opens the door and Rollins makes a break for it. Orton stops him. Rollins takes control and whips Orton into the wall. Orton comes back with an uppercut. Orton throws Rollins into the cage. After some more back and forth Rollins avoids a powerslam and starts climbing again. jumps at Orton with a knee. He connects and gets a two count. Rollins comes off the ropes and is caught in a powerslam. Rollins counters a Hangman’s DDT into a pin. Orton kicks out. Rollins superkicks him and climbs to the top of the cage. He actually gets over, but Orton catches up and drags him back in by his hair.
J&J Security start climbing up the cage from two directions. Orton knocks them off before they can get in by throwing Rollins against the cage walls. Orton catapults Rollins into the wall and goes for a pin, which fails. Orton hits his DDT off the ropes and does his pre-RKO taunt. However, since the RKO is banned, he hits the Pedigree! Rollins kicks out right before the count of three. Orton goes for a punt, but Rollins side-steps him while delivering a kick to the head. Kane opens the door again. Orton hits a backbreaker. He goes for the door, but Kane closes it on him. Rollins delivers a dropkick, but misses Orton and accidentally slams the door against Kane’s face. Furious, Kane slams the door on them both, knocking them into the middle of the ring. Kane targets Rollins. J&J Security try to stop him, but he double chokeslams them. He delivers chokeslams to Orton and Rollins. He drapes Rollins’ arm over Orton, but Orton kicks out. Kane goes after Orton, but gets RKO’d. Rollins then hits Orton with the RKO and crawls out of the doorway to retain the title.
Thoughts: This was a fun, but not great main event. With the RKO banned in the storyline and Rollins’ Curb Stomp banned in real life, they had no real finishers to build up to. The ending was also very confusing. Was the RKO only banned for Orton, or did Rollins cheat? And is the RKO illegal if it isn’t used on Rollins, meaning that Orton pretty much disqualified himself when he hit the move on Kane? They actually acknowledged this the next night on Raw, with Rollins saying he technically delivered the SKO, not the RKO, since his name is Seth, not Randy. Kane said the ending was pretty screwy, so he announced that they would face each other again, though this time with Roman Reigns added to make it a Triple Threat at Payback.
This was a great PPV. There wasn’t much in the way of classic or perfect moments, but it was consistently entertaining and produced some pretty good matches. Everything up to the Diva’s match got at least 7/10, and the Last Man Standing match was an awesome surprise. It does have one major flaw, and that is the PG rating. You can’t have the announcers shout about how everything is extreme when there’s no blood and a lot of brutal moves are banned.
Final Rating: 8/10