Kickoff Show: Humberto Carrillo Won a United States Championship No. 1 Contender's Battle Royal
If you've seen one Battle Royal in WWE, you've practically seen them all. There wasn't anything out of the ordinary about this whatsoever and it felt like it dragged on until it came down to the final few people. Cedric Alexander and Buddy Murphy lasted a while, which I appreciated, but they were ultimately tossed out by Erick Rowan and Luke Harper. You had to know the alliance between the former Bludgeon Brothers would break down at some point (especially since they're on opposite brands now), and in predictable fashion, Carrillo outsmarted them to win the whole thing. I don't say that as a bad thing, however, as it was a huge win for Carrillo, who was just drafted to Raw earlier in the month.
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar def. Cain Velasquez
Well, this was a disappointment. If Velasquez's knee was too injured for this to last longer than a few minutes, then they shouldn't have scheduled in the first place. I wouldn't go so far as to call it "trash," just because it wasn't long enough for it to be considered bad, but I was honestly expecting much more. I almost would have understood Velasquez's loss if this was more wrestling-based, but it came across like a total shoot fight and Velasquez still lost decisively via submission. I'm not sure why anyone would take Velasquez seriously coming out of this. Rey Mysterio actually looked like a bigger badass by battering Lesnar with a chair afterward, so that feud clearly isn't over yet. I could see them facing off at Survivor Series since they're currently on opposite brands.
Piper Niven and Rhea Ripley def. Jazzy Gabert and Jinny
I had high hopes for this considering the talent involved, but it just ended up being an average tag team affair. I liked the dynamite Niven and Ripley had as former foes, but they worked as a cohesive unit long enough to beat the duo of Jinny and Gabert decisively. I was really surprised to see Gabert take the pinfall loss again, as I thought they would want to protect her. Rather, she was beaten with relative ease and now she and Jinny don't have much steam coming off their latest loss.
A-Kid def. Kassius Ohno by Count-Out
For some reason, I thought A-Kid would be facing Tyler Bate in his first match on NXT UK, but I must have misunderstood Bate when he said last week that he was looking forward to A-Kid's debut. Ohno wasn't a bad choice either as he's usually the go-to guy for when people need to be made to look strong in their debut and they had an enjoyable encounter. The count-out finish was a clever way of giving A-Kid the win but also protecting Ohno in defeat. Plus, it looks like we'll be getting an Ohno vs. Bate feud based off what happened afterward.
"Hangman" Adam Page def. Sammy Guevara
These are two of AEW's fastest rising stars (along with MJF, of course) and will be ones to watch in the coming months/years. They had terrific chemistry as expected and produced a fun bout to kick off the evening. They weren't given a ton of time, but they didn't need to be. This was important in giving Page an important singles victory and getting him back on track ahead of his rematch with Pac at Full Gear. The post-match promo was a nice touch as well seeing as how we don't hear from him nearly enough on Dynamite.
Hikaru Shida def. Shanna
I believe Shida has made a handful of appearances for AEW so far, but I'm slightly surprised she made her Dynamite debut ahead of the rest of the women's division (including Awesome Kong, Penelope Ford, Allie and Sadie Gibbs). Despite that, she had a fantastic performance and won over the audience by the end. This was way more competitive than I thought it would be and Shanna got to showcase her skills as well.
Io Shirai def. Candice LeRae
Shirai and LeRae had one of my favorite women's matches all year at TakeOver: Toronto II and they were able to recreate that magic here. That original encounter was slightly stronger, but this was still an excellent opener in its own right. They worked a great pace and it had a nice energy to it. What I love most about their rivalry is that you can feel the bad blood between the two and that was once again evident during this outing. LeRae's minor misstep ultimately cost her the win, which I liked it lot. It will mean that much more when LeRae ultimately beats her, whenever that may be.
Finn Balor Explained His Actions
It should be noted that Balor has never been the best talker, but I dug the intensity he had in his voice while speaking here. I also appreciated how he didn't drag this promo out and instead kept it short, sweet and straight to the point. He basically brought up how he's the "hottest thing in the business" right now before putting Johnny Gargano on notice. That match (assuming it's saved for TakeOver: WarGames III) is bound to be a banger. As epic of an entrance theme as Balor has, changing it might be smart so he isn't cheered as much (similar to Shinsuke Nakamura when he went heel last year).
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