By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE Paid Tribute to The Ultimate Warrior
Being the massive fan of The Ultimate Warrior that I am, I can honestly say I shed a tear (okay, several tears) while watching the phenomenal video package that aired honoring Warrior. Ringing the bell ten times was also very respectful, though I didn't expect anything thing less from WWE. They're a classy company (as we all know) and they always do it best. This was a fantastic way to kick off the show, and all the talent wearing Warrior merchandise (as well as all the fans) on the top of the stage was a tremendous visual.
Rob Van Dam def. Alberto Del Rio in a Quarterfinals Match of the Intercontinental Championship Tournament
I really liked how this match kicked off the tournament given the history between this two and the fact Del Rio was one who took RVD out of WWE last October. They worked better matches during their feud last year, but this was still a nice outing from both men. RVD looked winded at certain points and there were a few botches here and there, but RVD being so over with the crowd made up for it. Isn't it mind-boggling to think Del Rio has never held a midcard title? He has "midcard champion" written all over him!
Curtis Axel and Ryback def. Cody Rhodes and Goldust
It seemed like every match the Rhodes brothers were involved in a few months ago was the match of the night, but that hasn't been the case in a while. Their work has deteriorated at all, but the fans don't have any incentive to care about them given the way they've been booked since dropping the tag team titles. This wasn't a bad match by any means and while it was actually decent, it felt meaningless. What was the point in Axel and Ryback going over? Are they being set up for a title shot? Are The Rhodes brothers on the verge of splitting up? If the answer to those questions is 'no', then this was pointless.
Divas Champion Paige def. Alicia Fox (Non-title)
Just because Paige is on the main roster now and is the Divas Champion doesn't mean the Divas matches will be any longer than they were before, but this bout was given more time than most Divas matches. Actually, I believe it went longer than the Sasha Banks vs. Bayley match from last week's NXT. Fox worked over Paige the entire time, so it wasn't the most exciting contest, but Paige's submission maneuver came off really well and the crowd loved it. I would have liked to see AJ Lee make an appearance, though.
Randy Orton and Batista def. WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos by Disqualification (Non-title)
This was basically the same match we saw from these two tandems last week, only longer. It was an extended squash of The Usos, which was unfortunate. They scored some offense, but they were tossed to the side after the match ended and were treated like afterthoughts. The Shield going after Orton and Batista was logical and it gave Orton and Batista a reason to reunite with Triple H after all.
Cesaro def. Mark Henry in a Quarterfinals Match in the Intercontinental Championship Tournament
Selfishly speaking here, why can't Cesaro bring back his old entrance music? I love Paul Heyman's promos and introductions as much as the next guy, but having Cesaro enter to nothing is... strange. Anyway ,the match was pretty basic and simply a showcase for Cesaro. The uppercut and Neutralizer on Henry were very impressive, though I'm sure the fans we're hoping to see Cesaro swing him as well. Cesaro advancing made sense given Jack Swagger is in the tournament, too.
Alexander Rusev def. Xavier Woods
We've seen this match on NXT several times in the past, so this was nothing new for regular viewers of NXT. It's sad to see Woods being utilized as enhancement talent despite debuting only five months ago. Why bring him up to the main roster if that was going to be the case? Rusev completely decimated Woods and his attack on Truth afterward built toward a match between the two at some point soon.
Sheamus def. Jack Swagger in a Quarterfinals Match in the Intercontinental Championship Tournament
Sheamus and Swagger have always worked well together and had a solid match here. Swagger worked over Sheamus' leg/ankle the entire time and Sheamus sold the injury well. The finish with Sheamus hitting the Brogue Kick essentially came out of nowhere, but at least Swagger looked good in defeat. Why not further the Cesaro-Swagger feud by having Cesaro cost him the match?
Big Show Knocked Out Damien Sandow
Regardless of how much he's been buried (yes, that term applies here) in recent months, Sandow is still incredibly entertaining when given a mic. I know people will speculate that him getting attacked and beaten each week will lead to something, but I've lost all hope at this point. This has been the norm for Sandow for months and Show has been an afterthought for the same amount of time. In simpler terms, this was a complete waste of time.
John Cena Responded to Bray Wyatt
Wyatt is excellent on the mic and his latest promo was no exception. However, this segment went downhill when Cena showed up and started cracking (unfunny) jokes. I realize Cena now has the upper hand over Wyatt after beating him at WrestleMania, but there's no reason for him to underestimate Wyatt and go back to his comedy shtick now that he's won. The feud may not be completely ruined, but I am a lot less excited for it after this. Their Steel Cage match at Extreme Rules should be good, but Wyatt has to win or this entire rivalry would have only done damage to The Wyatt Family act.
Fandango and Layla def. Santino Marella and Emma
The match was fine for what it was, but Layla's goofy attire distracted me the entire time. Could she honestly wrestle in that thing? It was only mere minutes long and Emma lost in a weak way, but Fandango and Layla needed a win under their belt. Can this please mark the end of the Emma and Santino pairing? It's harming Emma more than it's helping her at this point.
Bad News Barrett def. Dolph Ziggler in a Quarterfinals Match in the Intercontinental Championship Tournament
To my knowledge, this was the first ever one-on-one encounter between these two and they put on a great matchup. It was slow paced early on and it took some time for the crowd to get behind them, but they were given a substantial amount of time and definitely delivered down the stretch. I enjoyed the near-falls in the final few minutes and it was nice to see Barrett win cleanly, though defeating Ziggler means next to nothing these days. I don't see Barrett winning the tournament, but his match against Sheamus should be one to watch.
The Shield vs. Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, Bad News Barrett, Alexander Rusev, Titus O'Neil, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Fandango and 3MB Ended in a No Contest
Admittedly, I was rather disappointed to hear Del Rio's theme hit as The Shield's opponent and later everyone else's, if only because I was expecting Kane to come out with the debuting Ascension. The match was throwaway and didn't last long, but the post-match segment was worth it. To hear Evolution's theme hit for the first time in a decade was absolutely amazing and extremely cool. They got the better of The Shield this week and one can only assume that the two best stables in the last decade will be facing off at Extreme Rules next month, a match I've been highly anticipating for well over a year now.
Last week's show was so perfect in my opinion that I didn't get my hopes up for this show, so I thankfully wasn't disappointed. It might have suffered from a lack of Daniel Bryan, but he deserved the night off for his honeymoon with Brie Bella. The Ultimate Warrior tribute and videos throughout the night were excellent and celebrated his legacy in a very respectful way. I'm happy to hear that more tributes will air for him on the WWE Network is coming week. The show wasn't bad at all. If anything, they needed a week to cool off before building toward Extreme Rules, which they've already started doing. The ending was awesome, and everything else on this episode ranged from good to decent to just plain forgettable. The three hours dragged at points, but it didn't lessen my enthusiasm for what the future holds going forward.
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