By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Adam Rose def. Fandango (Kickoff Match)
I didn't expect much of a match between these two going in since I figured Layla and Summer Rae being at ringside meant that shenanigans would ensue. That said, I wasn't disappointed that the match was all of a few minutes long, but it does leave me wondering why the match was even added to the pre-show to begin with. WWE Creative has obviously lost all faith in the Rose character at this point, but I presume it was better for him to win a match of his own instead of being overshadowed in the Battle Royal later in the night. My thoughts on the Fandango love triangle are pretty well-documented, so I won't repeat them here.
Cameron def. Naomi (Kickoff Match)
Cameron may not be the best worker, but I at least give her and Naomi credit for having a reason to face each other. Their split was well built and it wasn't another Kickoff match that served no purpose (see: Rose vs. Fandango). It wasn't a technical masterpiece, but Naomi carried Cameron for most of it, making it a passable contest. I didn't expect Cameron to pick up the win, bu the fact it came via disqualification gives Cameron good heat and keeps the feud alive for another few weeks.
WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos def. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
I lost track of how many matches these two teams have had with each other after a dozen, but as I've always said, their matches never get old. The stipulation was perfect and it was smart booking to keep the first two falls short and sweet so they could go all out during the final fall. I figured it'd be nearly impossible for them to outdo their Money in the Bank performance from last month, but somehow, they managed to do so. The action from start to finish was just plain awesome, especially the last five minutes or so. All the nearfalls were excellently executed and the the finishing sequence was fantastic. I was genuinely surprised to see The Usos retain once again and unless one more match will be held on Monday's Raw (but I hope not since this should have been the blow-off), then I assume this is the end of the line for this feud. Are The Ascension next to be called up from NXT to rival The Usos?
Divas Champion AJ Lee def. Paige
AJ and Paige contested a very good match that didn't receive the time it should have, but they made the most of it. I'm glad they weren't put in the proverbial "death spot" once again either since the crowd was at least into this matchup. They told a nice story with Paige not being able to put AJ away and ultimately falling victim to AJ's Shining Wizard finisher. I assume the Paige heel turn is coming on Raw or shortly afterward to set up another rematch for SummerSlam. If that match is given good time, it could very well be amazing.
Rusev def. Jack Swagger by Count-out
It's still surreal to me how over Swagger has gotten over in a babyface in such a short period of time. He went from being an afterthought at Money in the Bank to one of the most over acts in the entire company the next night on Raw upon turning face. The match itself was decent and Swagger and Rusev worked well together, but the count-out finish was brilliant. Not only did it keep Rusev's undefeated streak intact, but it protected Swagger in defeat and all but guaranteed a rematch for SummerSlam.
Seth Rollins def. Dean Ambrose by Forfeit
I'm not sure if I'm in the minority on this one or not, but I personally loved the fact that this match didn't come to fruition on this show. It's easily the best feud going in WWE right now and their first major match together should be saved for a big stage such as SummerSlam. The way they went about doing this was well done and the brawl we got from them instead was intense and fun to watch. Both Rollins and Ambrose are doing great work right now and their latest encounter made me want to see them clash in the ring that much more.
Chris Jericho def. Bray Wyatt
This wasn't exactly the matchup I hoped it would be going in, but it was pretty evident that they were holding back a bit, probably saving their money match for SummerSlam. There were a few botches here and there, of course, but they didn't ruin the bout for this viewer. The match didn't meet expectations, but I had set them so high that it was going to be difficult for them to even come close. I predicted a Jericho victory initially since he needed to win at least once in this feud in order to come across as a threat to Wyatt. This wasn't a step back for Wyatt whatsoever and he can easily get his heat back with a hot promo on Raw. Plus, I expect him to go over in the end at SummerSlam, so no harm done.
The Miz Won a Battle Royal to Become the New Intercontinental Champion
The early eliminations of guys such as Xavier Woods, Zack Ryder, Diego and others were forgettable, but I'm glad they were done quickly since viewers knew none of them had a chance of winning. All the credible stars (for the most part) were saved for the end and it made each elimination extremely exciting. Miz going back down to the ground every few minutes was a bit excessive and any surprise factor of him getting back in the ring and winning was ruined when the camera caught him on the ground multiple times. Even still, Ziggler was the most popular guy in the match by a long mile and Miz taking him out to win the belt will get him heat. The crowd was flat for the title change and while I understand not many (if any) people care much for Miz right now, a title win will hopefully make people care. His clean win over Sheamus on Raw last week was a step in the right direction and this title victory has me thinking that we'll see an Intercontinental Championship vs. United States Championship unification match at SummerSlam next month.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion John Cena def. Randy Orton, Kane and Roman Reigns in a Fatal 4-Way Match
The outcome was foreshadowed the moment this match was made three weeks ago, but that didn't at all take away from the entertaining action throughout. Sure, it was hard for fans to buy into the possibility of Orton, Kane or even Reign winning the title, but they all put forth a strong effort and had the crowd invested for most the match. Reigns was the MVP of the bout by dominating each of the combatants and was protected by not being involved in the final decision. I was shocked to not see Triple H or anyone else from The Authority show up to cost Reigns the title, but I suppose they'll find some way to get to Reigns vs. Triple H on Raw. As noted, Cena winning was anticlimactic because it was only inevitable, but at least it came after a quality main event.
I had high hopes for this show going into it and I'd certainly say that my expectations were met. This was not a stellar show by any means, but it was definitely enjoyable. I found it to be an above average event, especially compared to Money in the Bank and the inaugural installment of Battleground. A lot of the finishes were booked in a fashion that they set up the need for rematches at SummerSlam, so in that respect, this pay-per-view was successful in setting up what should be an absolutely epic card for the biggest party of the summer.
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