By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Triple H Called Out Roman Reigns
I'm never high on The Authority kicking off the show, but this was a spectacular promo from Triple H. I don't know if it was because Stephanie McMahon wasn't with him or if Seth Rollins' injury forced him to cut a meaningful promo for once, but he was on point here in planting the seeds for a future Reigns heel turn if that's the route they end up going in. The Game offering Reigns a spot in The Authority only for Reigns to decline and put him in the tournament was brilliant. The Authority would be worth keeping around if Triple H was as consistent with his character as he was here.
Roman Reigns def. Big Show in a First Round Match in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament
Bringing back Big Show to face familiar foe Roman Reigns in the first round of the tournament wasn't the wisest decision. It made sense given Show's association with The Authority, but this is a match we've seen one too many times in the last year. They had a better-than-expected Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules, but this was a flat match the crowd couldn't have cared less about it. In fact, England had fun with it by starting the wave, so at least they made the match somewhat bearable.
Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens def. Titus O'Neil in a First Round Match in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament (Non-title)
For the first time in seemingly forever, Owens was given some meaningful mic time and he more than made the most of the opportunity. I love how despite being beloved by the England crowd, Owens turned them against him by bashing them and stating his intentions to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Meanwhile, why the hell was O'Neil involved in the tournament? They must really be desperate for star power. Don't get me wrong, I like O'Neil, but this was an obvious mismatch and didn't feel like a worthy tournament match at all.
Becky Lynch def. Paige
With this being the first time these two went one-on-one, I would have appreciated if they made this feel more special than it did, but it was still a nice outing from Paige and Lynch. Lynch was put in a tough spot considering Paige was the hometown hero, but she fared well for herself. Lynch was able to score the fluke victory and Paige got her heat back afterward by attacking her, so it was simple yet effective booking.
Dolph Ziggler def. The Miz in a First Round Match in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament
Ziggler and Miz have always worked well together, but it's a shame neither of them mean much at the moment. Regardless, they contested a solid match filled with entertaining action. The ending outcome was never in doubt, but at least the crowd was hot for Ziggler. Imagine how much bigger of a candidate he would have been to win the tournament if WWE didn't drop the ball coming out of Survivor Series last year.
United States Champion Alberto Del Rio and Zeb Colter Addressed the Audience
I'm hesitant to call Del Rio's WWE return a flop thus far because it's only been two weeks, but whatever this "MexAmerica" storyline is supposed to be simply isn't working for me. I'm glad they elicited good heel heat from the crowd with their promo, but "haters?" Really? I have no idea where this is going, which is normally a positive, but in this case I don't care. Despite a clean win over John Cena at Hell in a Cell, Del Rio is already back to where he was before he left last year.
Natalya def. Naomi
It's nice something of a story is forming in the Divas division that isn't over the Divas Championship. Natalya and Naomi could have a ten times better match with more time, but this was fine for what it was with the two minutes they were allotted. On the bright side, a Natalya vs. Sasha Banks match is inevitable and it could be great if it's given the time it deserves.
Cesaro def. Sheamus in a First Round Match in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament
This was the first match of the tournament that truly felt like there was something at stake. Say what you will about Sheamus and how bad he's been booked since he returned as a heel, but the guy is a great wrestler and can have awesome matches with the right opponents. As for Cesaro, he was beloved in England and came across like a total star. The little bit with the football (and no, not soccer) player at ringside slapping King Barrett at ringside and costing Sheamus the win was fun and gave Cesaro a well-deserved push to the next round. There's no question he loses to Roman Reigns, but it's a match we've never seen before and I'm excited to see how it plays out.
Dean Ambrose def. Tyler Breeze in a First Round Match in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament
I wonder when WWE would have had Breeze make his main roster in-ring debut if the tournament didn't come up, but I guess we'll never know. As much as I like Breeze, he hasn't done anything to be a part of the tournament, but I can't complain about him having a competitive match against Ambrose. While I wouldn't have had him lose in his Raw in-ring debut, he looked strong in defeat by getting beat with a roll-up. Plus, Ambrose is a favorite to win it all, so it would have been asinine to have him lose this early, even if his opponent was Breeze.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def. Neville and The Usos
As soon as Neville was announced as The Usos' tag team partner, you had to know The New Day was winning by pinning The Man That Creative Forgot. In all seriousness, it was a highly enjoyable six-man tag team match with all the scintillating spots you would expect from them. It gave fans a preview of what to expect in the unofficial WWE Tag Team Championship match at the pay-per-view along with giving New Day their heat back after their loss last week on Raw.
The Brothers of Destruction Attacked The Wyatt Family
I feared that The Brothers of Destruction wouldn't resurface until Survivor Series and we'd be forced to endure another two weeks of rambling Bray Wyatt promos, but thankfully they returned on this show after all. It was a cool moment for the English audience and it the mini-brawl the two teams had was well done. I don't know how smart it was for The Undertaker and Kane to overcome the odds and wipe out all four men with ease, but as long as the bearded clan wins at Survivor Series (and I don't have faith they will), all will be forgiven.
The show started out surprisingly slow with the first few tournament matchups, but it found a nice rhythm as the night progressed and the quality of the matches only improved. Additionally, it was refreshing to see so much love shown for SmackDown, but don't expect it to last beyond the tournament. Many of the first round matches didn't do anything for me, but the quarterfinals should be a real treat. The return of The Brothers of Destruction along with the announcement of the tournament made it a newsworthy night, and as always, England made for an electric atmosphere.
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