By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Neville, Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler def. King Barrett, Sheamus and Rusev (Kickoff Match)
The biggest problem this matchup faced was that it didn't mean anything because none of these six Superstars mean anything at the moment. Don't get me wrong, though: I thoroughly enjoyed this match from an in-ring standpoint and thought it was a lot of fun, but the ending outcome doesn't hold much value. They finally threw the babyfaces a bone by allowing them to pick up the victory, but it wouldn't shock me if they held the rematch Monday night on Raw. Again, it was one of the better Kickoff matches I've seen in some time, but no one benefited from it whatsoever.
Alberto Del Rio def. John Cena to Win the United States Championship
Well, color me surprised. Del Rio has returned! I honestly didn't believe any of the rumors that were circulating a few weeks ago about him making a potential return to the company after all the bad blood between the two sides at this time last year. I wrote in an article for Hidden Remote just recently saying I didn't care to see Del Rio back in WWE, but I must admit I "marked out" a bit when I heard his music hit. It was a genuine surprise that didn't fall flat, so props to WWE for keeping it a secret. What was even more surprising was when he beat Cena clean, with a kick of all things! I realize Cena is on his way out for a few months, but they didn't do anything to set up his departure, but it's possible they address it on Raw. Nevertheless, I'm skeptical about a Del Rio return because he was damaged goods before he left last year, but if they can book him properly this time around, he'll have a chance of getting over again.
Roman Reigns def. Bray Wyatt in a Hell in a Cell Match
It took some time for the crowd to get into the action, but they were invested in the action by the second half. Reigns and Wyatt put forth a strong performance and deserve credit for having as good of a match as they did. I was skeptical how well they would fare here considering their Battleground bout wasn't the greatest, but this blew that bout out of the water as they incorporated a handful of awesome hardcore spots that the audience was eating up. I'm not thrilled about Wyatt losing another feud, but he came out of this contest looking credible, so I'm not up in arms about it. Besides, it was fairly obvious they were preparing Reigns for another push toward the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, so I could certainly see him being Seth Rollins' next challenger at Survivor Series.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def. The Dudley Boyz
I was almost positive this was going to be the night that The Dudley Boyz were going to get their big moment and win the belts given Xavier Woods was absent from ringside. The New Day have been on a roll as of late, but if this was going to be the end result, why not have the babyfaces go over the heels a few times going into the event? Thankfully, being as established as they are, The Dudleyz don't lose much from the loss, but this better be building to them winning the straps sooner rather than later otherwise fans will slowly stop rallying behind them.
Divas Champion Charlotte def. Nikki Bella
It was lazy on WWE's part to replay mostly the same package from Night of Champions for this match, and they left out Charlotte getting beat by Brie Bella with a dropkick on Raw recently! In all seriousness, they contested a very good women's match in what was easily the best of their series. They took a few more risks than they probably needed to considering their in-ring chemistry wasn't amazing, but I commend them for it. Charlotte isn't clicking for me yet and Nikki is stale in the title picture, so I have hope both of things change come the next pay-per-view where Sasha Banks will be in contention for the championship, or at least she should be.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins def. Kane (Corporate Kane is No Longer Director of Operations)
This was a dead feud coming into this show and the live crowd couldn't have cared less, which is a shame since it was a world title match. It didn't even feel like anything major was on the line and the stipulation of Corporate Kane getting fired if he lost was just plain stupid. Virtually no one saw him as a threat to the title and worse yet, Kane and Rollins didn't click at all as opponents. It was a decent effort, but it was ultimately a massive flop. If nothing else, Rollins finally won clean, so it wasn't a total lost cause.
Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens def. Ryback
I'm a Ryback fan. I'm an Owens fan. I'm not a fan of their matches. Unlike others, I didn't mind their Night of Champions match as I thought it was passable, but this was barely mediocre. Ryback can have a quality match with the right guy, and even though Owens shouldn't be blamed, they aren't a good pairing. Owens winning decisively should put this rivalry to rest and allow him to move on to a fresh set of challengers.
Brock Lesnar def. The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell Match
I was afraid this match wouldn't live up to the grand hype it's been given, especially after their last Hell in a Cell match from 2002 was such a classic, but this was tremendous. They told a stellar story with both men taking the fight to each other and refusing to give up by kicking out of several finishers. Typically, I'm not a fan of that approach, but when done sparingly, it can create great suspense like it did here. Of course, I'd be lying if I said the blood didn't add to it. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not (it likely wasn't), but it undoubtedly added to the atmosphere and made it feel like a true blood feud (literally). Lesnar winning clean was the right move after Undertaker technically beat him at SummerSlam and I really liked how they closed out the show on a cliffhanger with The Wyatt Family abducting The Deadman. It left me looking forward to what will happen on Raw and what it might mean for 'Taker at Survivor Series, where he will celebrate 25 years in WWE.
The opening and closing matches on this show were strong super. They kicked off the night on a high note with the shocking return of Alberto Del Rio and a title change followed by a better-than-expected Cell match. Undertaker and Lesnar delivered a fantastic match that met my expectations, but WWE has to keep in mind that they can't always rely on the part-timers to carry their shows for them. The middle of the show was decent yet unspectacular as nothing too much of note happened and the matches were average at best. On the whole, however, the event was enjoyable and I was very satisfied with it. Now, Survivor Series could shape up to be a major happening for the first time in years if Undertaker will be appearing, so here's hoping they can take this momentum and roll with it over the next month instead of returning to the stagnant programming they were producing prior to this pay-per-view.
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