Shane McMahon Interrupted Kevin Owens
If you mistakenly thought that Shane would take time off from WWE TV following his loss at SummerSlam, you're a fool like me. Then again, we probably should have expected him to show up on SmackDown since Owens beat him with a low blow on Sunday night, meaning their rivalry isn't over yet. Shane fining Owens $100,000 is comical, even if it is a storyline. This felt like it dragged and I fear this feud will only hurt Owens' momentum the longer it lasts.
Charlotte Flair def. Ember Moon
Moon and Flair's first-ever one-on-one encounter a few weeks ago ended within a minute, so I was happy they were given the chance to redeem themselves here. It wasn't a barn burner by any means (and the lack of televised entrances didn't help), but what we got from them in the time they were allotted was great. Flair winning was the right call coming off her victory over Trish Stratus at SummerSlam and I'm glad Moon was made to look credible in defeat.
Lacey Evans def. Dana Brooke
It's amazing how Evans went from being at the forefront of Raw's women's division in her feud with Becky Lynch and headlining Extreme Rules to now being relegated to Main Event duty. Then again, it's probably best that WWE keeps her off TV if they don't have anything for her at the moment. That said, this wasn't that good of a match at all. Brooke always impresses, but she and Evans didn't have the greatest chemistry. The match largely felt like it dragged and the crowd could not have cared less.
Cesaro and EC3 def. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins
Cesaro and EC3 may sound like an odd pairing on paper, but they've teamed up before in multi-man matches on Main Event, so they have that history. Besides, it's not like either guy is involved in anything of note these days on Raw, so a Cesaro and EC3 as a full-time tandem wouldn't be the worst thing. At any rate, this was a pretty good tag team match while it lasted with the crowd engaged in the action by the end.
The O.C. Confronted Universal Champion Seth Rollins
Rollins hasn't come across too well in his recent promos on Raw, so this was a nice step in the right direction. He talked about how it was the fans' support that helped him beat Brock Lesnar, and regardless of whether that's true or not, it was the right thing for him to say. The O.C. interrupting him led to AJ Styles vs. Rollins being set up for the night's main event. They wanted to see who was the better champion of the two, though I don't think either title feels terribly important at this point.
Samoa Joe def. Sami Zayn
Zayn crapped on the crowd despite being from Canada, which led me to think that Joe was turning face after showing compassion for Roman Reigns last week. It seemed like the fans were ready to embrace Joe too, so I'm a bit disappointed his character clearly isn't going in that direction if his post-match promo was any indication. In case anyone was wondering, this was a total squash. Zayn can't catch a break even in his own home country.
Kickoff Show: WWE Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak def. Oney lorcan
I'm positive Gulak and Lorcan could deliver a barn burner in front of the right crowd and with more time, but seeing as how the arena was half full when the bell rang, I'm not shocked that the fans in attendance didn't pay too much attention to this. It didn't help that it felt like Gulak and Lorcan were holding back a bit and went for a pretty basic bout. It was perfectly serviceable, but we all know they're capable of much more. Hopefully the feud will continue so we can get that gem out of them on 205 Live one of these days.
Kickoff Show: Buddy Murphy def. Apollo Crews by Disqualification
Although this had the potential to be a great match on paper, you had to know someone was going to interfere because of how random it was. I mean, Murphy hasn't wrestled a single matchup as a member of the SmackDown Live roster yet, and all of a sudden WWE decides to put him on the SummerSlam Kickoff show? Come on. This was fun while it lasted, but Rowan's interference cut it short. It was a logical way to follow up on Murphy accusing Rowan last Tuesday night of attacking Roman Reigns, who was nowhere to be seen on this show.
NXT Tag Team Champions Street Profits def. Undisputed Era
You can always count on NXT's tag team division (specifically Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish) to kick off these TakeOver specials on a high note. We've never seen them clash with Street Profits before, so this was a fresh match that I enjoyed quite a bit. There was a lot of fun wrestling and the crowd was pretty divided throughout. Like most people, although I'm a big fan of Street Profits, I was fully expecting Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish to take the titles here, especially since it looks like Street Profits are on their way up to the main roster full-time. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome because it keeps them in NXT for a little longer (where they belong), gives them an extended run as champions, and doesn't rush the belts back onto Undisputed Era so soon. They'll regain the gold eventually and it didn't have to be on this show.
Io Shirai def. Candice LeRae
I can't not say enough good things about Shirai's heel persona. She's firing on all cylinders right now and seeing her new entrance on the big stage was super cool. We haven't had two women's matches on a TakeOver since 2015 (if I'm not mistaken), so not only was it awesome that they had the opportunity to wrestle on this show, they knocked it out of the park. LeRae was the perfect babyface and Shirai had a stellar showing. They were given plenty of time and the crowd was with them every step of the way. I loved that Shirai won by submission and that LeRae was made to look credible in defeat. When's the rematch?!
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