Winners: Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega, Cedric Alexander, The B-Team, Seth Rollins, The New Day, Braun Strowman, Charlotte Flair, Samoa Joe, The Miz, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Ronda Rousey, Roman Reigns.
Rusev and Lana took on Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega in the opening match of the kick-off show and, as others have noted, what a dramatic downhill turn for Rusev; last month, he was challenging AJ Styles for the WWE Championship but, this month, he’s not even on the main card and the arena is a quarter full. Almas and Vega got the win, and completely clear of any Aiden English shenanigans this time, so it’ll be interesting to see how they pin this on Aiden this week on SmackDown! Live.
The one and only representation of the cruiserweight division was up next; honestly, at this point, they may as well just allow the cruiserweights feature on, and their championship be defended on, NXT TakeOver events, or give the cruiserweights their own pre-pay-per-view special or something because it’s pretty pathetic to see them either get bumped off the show entirely or relegated to the kick-off show. Either way, despite a good innings from Drew Gulak, Cedric Alexander won the match and retained the belt after cradling Gulak following a series of counters.
Speaking of relegation, the Raw Tag Team Championships also end up on the kick-off show but at least the Revival finally got their one-on-one shot…I guess. Of course, it meant nothing as the B-Team lucked out once again when Dash Wilder just happened to knock Curtis Axel onto Scott Dawson and cause Bo Dallas to roll Dawson up for the win.
Dolph Ziggler, with Drew McIntyre, opens the show proper to put the Intercontinental Championship on the line against Seth Rollins, with Dean Ambrose. Drew and Dean are the only things really different about this latest match between these two, but it worked as the people are crazy for Dean and it directly contributed to the finish when Dean stopped Drew from interfering. There was a great spot where Rollins hit a Reverse Superlex into what I think looked like a variant on the Curtain Call; either way, it was pretty crazy. In the end, Rollins hit a Superkick and the Blackout Stomp and is once again the Intercontinental Champion; it would appear that the main story here was that Dolph couldn’t get the job done without Drew’s help, though I could’ve sworn that he did do something at some point without Drew at ringside.
The SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championships made it onto the main show and you know why…because the New Day sell more merchandise than either the B-Team or the Revival, because sheeple have gotta eat. Yet, even I have to admit that the New Day did everything possible to sell the Bludgeon Brothers as a dominant team here; they threw everything they had at Harper and Rowan and basically forced them to use their mallets to get the disqualification finish just when it looked like the belts were going to change hands.
Anyone who thought that the WWE were going to pull the rug out from Braun Strowman can rest easy as he pretty much destroyed Kevin Owens with no issue whatsoever. Owens hit, like, one move that barely fazed Strowman, before Braun Chokeslammed him on the metal part of the ramp, rolled him into the ring, and pinned him with the Running Powerslam. The SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship was up next in a triple threat match that saw Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch take it in turns to beat up Carmella, before getting into it themselves. They tried to sell it as a mutual respect thing but it got more and more aggressive as the match went on and, in the end, Lynch basically had the match won when she got Carmella in the Dis-Arm-Her but had her opportunity stolen away from her when Charlotte hit her with the Natural Selection and won the belt. After the match, Becky hugged Charlotte and kicked the shit out of her to a chorus of cheers!
AJ Styles and Samoa Joe went at it next like it’s Sacrifice 2007 or something (the crowd even chanted for TNA, which hasn’t happened in a long time); this was all about Joe playing mind games and taunting Styles, his wife, and daughter (who were at ringside) and pushing Styles to his limits. While Joe worked an aggressive style, AJ kept trying to chip away at the leg and go for the Calf Crusher; Joe managed to get the Coquina Clutch and, when AJ made the ropes, teased going for the Muscle Buster for the first time in years. When AJ fought him off, Joe hit an Enziguri and AJ toppled from the top rope to the floor outside, which had to suck. Joe got up on the announce table and talked shit to AJ’s wife, so AJ (sporting the Attitude Era crimson mask) leapt at him and beat the hell out of him with a steel chair for the disqualification.
Eight years in the making, the Miz and Daniel Bryan finally seek to settle the score in the ring. Bryan’s all about the technical prowess and Miz is all about being cocky and stealing Bryan’s moves. Bryan kicked out of the Skull-Crushing Finale so Miz locked him into the Figure Four for absolutely ages, all of which really sold Bryan’s never-say-die attitude. In the end, Maryse handed Miz some brass knuckles (or something), which he used to knock out Miz and steal the win. Obviously, this feud still has more life left in it but this was a great start to what will hopefully be a series of matches.
Finn Balor finally resurrected his Demon King persona for this match…against Baron Corbin….that basically amounted to a squash win for Balor. Hopefully this means we’re finally done with the Balor/Corbin feud. The United States Championship is on the line next (kind of strange that it’s higher up the card than the WWE Championship) as Shinsuke Nakamura defended against Jeff Hardy. Despite Jeff throwing his life and career out the window (literally, as he crashed and burned on a Swanton Bomb attempt that saw him smash off of the ring apron), the crowd was starting to space out at this point and were not too interested even when Nakamura retained following the Kinshasa. Afterwards, Ronda Rousey slathered herself in some truly God-awful make-up and made short work on Alexa Bliss to finally complete her long and arduous journey towards the Raw Women’s Championship…oh, no, wait that didn’t really happen….she just kind of got the shot after doing very little…but people like her, I guess, so this is what we have now.
Finally, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns squared off one. more. time. only, this time, to stop people walking out or getting too overzealous with the boos, Braun Strowman came out and promised to cash in on the winner. He then hung around at ringside, basically forcing people to sit through this dreg one more time. Reigns started the match with infinite finishers, apparently, and decided to cut through all the bullshit, hitting a whole mess of Superman Punches and Spears before Lesnar tried choking him out with a Guillotine Lock. Lesnar spammed the German Suplexes and then took out Strowman with an F5 and the briefcase and some chair shots (which didn’t get him disqualified). This was enough of a distraction for Reigns to hit another Spear (not even his Rope-Rebound Super Spear) and finally get the pin fall and the Universal Championship. To be fair, a lot of the crowd were cheering this and seemed happy, which just makes it all so much worse as it means the WWE’s mentality of “any reaction is a good reaction” is actually right!
Roman Reigns opens the show and vows to be a fighting champion, so much so that he finally acknowledged that Finn Balor never got his rematch so he’s granting it tonight! Baron Corbin tried to put the kibosh on that, so Kurt Angle basically told him to shut up and then stuck him in a match against Bobby Lashley. I don’t think we really needed the authority figures to be involved in that opening promo. Surprisingly, considering how handily Balor defeated Corbin at SummerSlam, Lashley went toe-for-toe with him here tonight. I guess it’s okay, because Lashley got the win, but it does send mixed messages; are we supposed to take Corbin seriously or not? Is he a competitor or an authority figure?
Since we are still building towards the historic first-ever all-woman’s pay-per-view, we got a good, old fashioned six-woman tag team match next that, thankfully, saw the Riot Squad get the win over Ember Moon, Bayley, and Sasha banks (and by having Ruby Riott pin Sasha, which is even better!) I mean, sure, it’s not great for Ember or Bayley but, if they really want to push the Riott Squad as a threat, they absolutely should win matches, especially six-woman tag team matches (I’m looking at you, SAnitY!)
Triple H popped out next to ramble on a bit and basically challenged the Undertaker to one more match at the WWE’s big Australia show. I find it interesting that we can get this match build, which is admittedly very little, but we got absolutely none of most of the matches at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Anyway, Dean Ambrose made his in-ring return in a match with Dolph Ziggler, with Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre at ringside. Ambrose seems to have switched up in in-ring style to match his new jacked-up appearance, being a bit more serious and all-business. Drew and Seth ended up brawling at ringside and, when Ziggler went for that big Jumping DDT of his, Ambrose muscled him into the Dirty Deeds and scored the win.
Elias defeated Curt Hawkins in less than two minutes, extending Hawkins’ losing streak to 219…I guess he’s getting paid a lot to lose, though. As if that horse hadn’t been beaten enough, the Authors of Pain took on Titus Worldwide again and won. Next, Ronda Rousey comes out (with the entire women’s division surrounding the ring!) so that Stephanie McMahon can award her the Raw Women’s Championship, or whatever. Stephanie talked shit, so Rousey put her n that shitty Arm Bar of hers. I really hate how the women’s division is constantly portrayed as being united in solidarity one minute and then feuding with each other the next, and how Ronda is being put on this pedestal as the greatest thing ever.
Bo Dallas lost to Scott Dawson, and then Dash Wilder defeated Curtis Axel, in back-to-back matches, to apparently justify the Revival getting another shot at the B-Team in the future. I am happy for that to happen but, to be fair, they did lose at SummerSlam so they’re simply channelling their inner Roman Reigns here and hanging around the title scene for no justifiable reason.
Speaking of which, Finn Balor finally got his rematch for the Universal Championship in the main event. Obviously he didn’t bust out the Demon King for this match because he saves that for the big-time matches, like facing Baron Corbin. Either way, nothing has changed between these two; they work just as well together as they did all those moons ago. Braun Strowman popped out right as Balor began to build momentum, but just watched, causing no distractions, as Reigns hit the Spear and retained the belt. Braun attempted to cash in after the match but the Shield music hit and Ambrose and Rollins, decked in riot gear, came out to Triple Powerbomb Strowman through the announce table. Glad to see Balor finally back in the main event scene, if just for one match, and it’s a smart move by the WWE to reform the Shield (…again) to help get people behind Reigns. I also really liked how all four men came off very tweener/cool heel here but it’s telling how Ambrose is the only one of this mates to not be holding a belt, wouldn’t you say?
The Miz and Maryse opened the show this week to gloat and basically says that he has nothing left to prove by facing Daniel Bryan again. Bryan comes out and calls Miz a coward, but Miz doesn’t rise to the bait. Brie Bella then comes out and they both attack Miz, before announcing that they’ll have a bit of a mixed-tag team match at Hell in a Cell.
After Randy Orton teased another attack at SummerSlam, and his attacks in recent weeks, he finally gets in the ring with Jeff Hardy but his actions apparently backfired against him as Jeff ended up stomping on his balls for the disqualification. Afterwards, Jeff gets a measure of revenge by attacking Orton with chair shots and hitting a Swanton Bomb through a table!
Peyton Royce and Naomi were up next; distraction from Billie Kay was enough for Naomi to lose the match…then Becky Lynch came out to desperately try and get people to boo her for her actions but the crowd was having none of it! I love it! Charlotte Flair came out for a fight and we got what I think is probably the first-ever pull-apart brawl as the entire women’s division came out to separate them; if the WWE is smart, they will course-correct to allow Becky to officially be the face in this feud.
SummerSlam returns as Rusev and Lana fought Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega…again…this time, Aiden English did get involved and actually helped out by taking a steel chair away from Almas. Rusev then hit the Matchka Kick and got the win with the Accolade. Couldn’t this have happened at SummerSlam and then we could have gotten a one-on-one match tonight, just to mix things up a bit?
Renee Young interviewed AJ Styles in the ring, and AJ basically apologised for losing his cool at SummerSlam. Samoa Joe attacked from behind, locked Styles into the Coquina Clutch, and talked more shit about his family to no doubt set up for a Hell in a Cell match between the two at Hell in a Cell.
The rematches continue as the Bludgeon Brothers put the SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championships on the line against the New Day…again…but this time with no disqualifications! I wish someone would explain to me how losing your title shot means you get an immediate rematch against the champions; at least do a Samoa Joe and have the New Day attack the champs or something to justify this. Unfortunately, Rowan is apparently competing with an injury so that, no doubt coupled with their lacklustre run with the belts and the fact that we’ve apparently gone way too long since the last New Day title reign, apparently contributed to Xavier Woods landing a massive Elbow Drop into Harper through a table and reclaiming the belts for the New Day.