Daniel Bryan secures the No Lock on Ryback.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Strong opening segment featuring the returns of Vince and Stephanie McMahon. The McMahons are rarely ever on television nowadays, so it was a nice treat for us in attendance. The crowd absolutely adored them... until they stated Triple H wouldn't be wrestling on the broadcast, which garnered major boos. I didn't realize there was a commercial break during The Shield's entrance (since we were there live), but it was still nicely timed and an intriguing hook coming back from the break. The Shield received a nice pop upon making their entrance, which looks quite cool in person.
Excellent six-man tag team match with United States and WWE Tag Team Champions The Shield defeating Randy Orton and Team Hell No. The Shield controlled most of the matchup with both Orton and Bryan getting the hot tags. I can honestly say that Orton and Bryan were two of the most over Superstars of night, as the reactions in the arena when both individuals tagged in were deafening. I want Orton to turn heel as much as the next guy, but there's no denying that he still continues to garner strong reactions from live crowds. The contest consisted of plenty of awesome spots and received great time. The Shield scored the victory while more tension was teased between Bryan and his partners, so this was a successful segment all around.
Decent match between The Usos and Prime Time Players. Both tandems received nice reactions upon entering, although Titus O'Neil and Darren Young's entrance apparently didn't air on television. I didn't even notice the face paint until halfway through the bout. I like the design and hope it means they're in line for a push for the WWE Tag Team Championships. After being utilized as enhancement talent for years, it's crucial that WWE builds them back up as legitimate threats to the straps.
Forgettable match between Alberto Del Rio and Big E Langston. Upon hearing the announcement, the entire arena groaned and moaned. This marks the fifth time we've seen this match in the last two weeks, so I understand why people are tired of seeing it by this point. The match was fine what it was, but it was no different than their past matches against one another. Del Rio transitioning from the armbar into the roll-up was clever, but aside from that, this served no purpose. I'm not sure how it came across on television, but there were several "We Want Ziggler" chants during the course of the contest.
Good match with Sheamus defeating Cody Rhodes. Sheamus is another guy who continues to garner strong reactions, but same can't be said for Rhodes. He didn't receive much heat during his entrance, which is a shame given how over he once was about a year ago. The two worked a well wrestled match that inevitably ended with Sheamus hitting the Brogue Kick for the win. I watched Raw back on DVR earlier today and noticed that I was able to get myself (as well as my white sign) on television, which can be seen once Sandow joins commentary.
Meaningless match between Fandango and The Great Khali. The live crowd was quite excited to see Fandango and reacted accordingly when he made his entrance. It didn't come across well on television, but a majority of the audience was "Fandangoing" to his entrance music. Khali, on the other hand, received a courteous pop from the audience. He's humongous in person, but it's sad to see him in apparent pain while walking around the ring. The match was over in mere minutes and served zero purpose. Most people couldn't see The Miz getting knocked out by Wade Barrett, or at least from where I was sitting. Vickie Guerrero came out during commercial break to set up a match between Miz and Barrett, which I'm assuming aired on the WWE App.
Fine match between Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett and The Miz. We've seen better matches between these two in the past, so I was a bit disappointed by the bout. During commercial break, Barrett received a suprising amount of jeers from the crowd, but not nearly as much as he was getting back in 2010 when he was with Nexus. The crowd popped for Fandango's entrance and Miz's victory, but that was about it. Nothing out of the ordinary from this bout.
Solid segment with Paul Heyman and Chris Jericho signing the contract for Jericho's match with CM Punk at Payback. Jericho entered to a loud pop while Heyman was booed heavily, give or take a few "ECW" chants. These two had an entertaining verbal exchange that accomplished what it needed to do in setting up the match for the pending pay-per-view. Some fans were disappointed that Punk didn't make an appearance, but I think it's a smart move to keep him off television until the event.
After the contract signing, people started looking at their phones and realized there was still an hour left in the show, which didn't bode well for the Divas. Only Kaitlyn and AJ Lee received minor reactions, which was to be expected given they are the most prominently featured. The six-Diva tag team match with exceptional but no one cared at all. Believe it or not, it was probably the funniest part of the night with all the catcalls and whatnot. AJ walking out on The Bella Twins made sense since they did it to her a few weeks ago, but Kaitlyn's victory was the only thing the live crowd popped for. What a shame.
Great match between Daniel Bryan and Ryback. I'm not sure what led to Bryan wrestling two matches in one night (lack of star power, perhaps?), but whatever it was, the live crowd loved seeing him again. As noted before, he was crazy over with the audience and his brief offense on Ryback was well received. I selfishly shouted "Holler if you hear me!" when the sirens hit the arena, hoping Scot Steiner would make an appearance instead. Alas, he didn't, but Ryback was booed heavily, regardless. There were several "Goldberg" and even "Gillberg" chants during the match, which dragged at points. However, the final few minutes were solid and Bryan being put through a table was awesome to see live. John Cena, who came out to a big pop (not nearly as loud as I expected, though), made the save and the next match began.
Entertaining No Disqualification match between WWE Champion John Cena and Curtis Axel. Axel received good heat from the live crowd and scored an impressive amount of offense over Cena. They utilized the extreme stipulation to their advantage and delivered a fun back-and-forth match. Ryback's interference was pretty predictable, but it was logical booking and furthered his feud with Cena. I'm glad Axel emerged victorious once again, but what was the point of booking a No Disqualification match if it was just going to end in count-out again? After Raw went off-air, Ryback set up Cena for a Shell Shocked, only for the Cenation leader to reverse into an Attitude Adjustment through the table to send the crowd home happy.
Overall, an extremely entertaining show with hot opening and closing segments. Everything else in between was either filler or simply fell flat. Big Show, Mark Henry and World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler are all injured at the moment, so their absences were excusable. However, I was surprised to not see Jack Swagger appear on the show, who has been noticeably absent from programming in recent weeks. Connecticut doesn't usually have the best crowds, but they were certainly electric during last night's show. The sign of the night was the one that read "We Want Two Hours", with the one that read "We Want TV-14 Back" coming in a close second. I've attended a number of WWE shows (live events and tapings) over the years, but this was easily the most fun I've had at one to date. The fact I was able to take a picture with WWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund and get his autograph after the show made the night even more memorable. It was long night, but it was certainly well worth it. Anyone considering going to a WWE event in the near future should definitely attend, as it's a surreal experience and an amazing memory you'll never forget.
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