By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Cody Rhodes and Goldust def. Curtis Axel and Ryback (Kickoff Match)
I have never been more disappointed to hear Ryback's music. Seriously, why couldn't they play Axel's theme instead and allow him to get the hometown pop he deserves (and probably won't get anywhere else)? At least Larry "The Axe" Hennig was at ringside, so that was a nice touch. The match itself was well wrestled, but nothing you wouldn't see on Raw or SmackDown. It was a logical win for the Rhodes brothers to get them back on track after losing to The New Age Outlaws multiple times in the last month. No tension was teased between the two, so it appears we won't be seeing them face off against each other at WrestleMania this year after all.
Intercontinental Champion Big E def. Jack Swagger
Since the feud leading up to this match was basically nonexistent, no one had any incentive to care about the match. Despite that, Big E and Swagger delivered a match that exceeded expectations, so I give them props for that. It was a nicely paced, hard-hitting matchup that saw both competitors come out of looking good. The Intercontinental title also received a boost in the process. It could have gone either way, so I'm not shocked to see Langston retain, but I'm interested in if Swagger will continue to pursue the title or if Cesaro will be next to challenge for it.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws def. The Usos
The Usos managed to get a better match out of the Outlaws than the Rhodes brothers did, which genuinely surprised me. This was probably the best match the Outlaws have had since returning to the ring last month. The Usos looked very good here and the dirty finish protects them in defeat. It was too soon for them to capture the titles anyway. As I've said before, I'm completely content with the Outlaws being the champs for the time being as long it means they drop the straps to The Usos at WrestleMania 30.
Titus O'Neil def. Darren Young
O'Neil dominated most of the match like he should have, but the fans in attendance couldn't have cared less. It's a shame considering both guys are talented and deserve better, but it might have helped if people actually cared about them as a team before they were split up (and this is coming from someone who is a fan of them). They obviously have big plans for O'Neil, so him winning here was logical. My only fear is that both men will get lost in the shuffle on the road to WrestleMania.
The Wyatt Family def. The Shield
In what was the true main event of the night, The Wyatt Family and The Shield blew the roof off the Target Center in Minneapolis. I love the way they began brawling before the bell could even be rung, foreshadowing the chaotic style of the contest that soon followed. The live crowd was absolutely electric for the exciting action and all six competitors managed to shine one way or another. I also liked how The Wyatt Family strategically took out each member of The Shield, leaving Reigns to fend for himself. Reigns taking the pin was a surprise (his second ever pinfall loss in WWE), but it put Wyatt over in a big way, more so than had he pinned Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins (who almost always take the pin for their team). It will be interesting to see if the whereabouts of Ambrose at the end of the match will lead to the breakup of the group. Regardless, this was hands down one of the best matches of the year to date and obviously an early Match of the Year candidate.
Cameron def. Divas Champion AJ Lee by Disqualification
This match could be seen coming from a mile away given the recent rivalry between the two, but if that was the case, why not advertise it in advance? Sure, it may not have lead to more pay-per-view buys, but sometimes its the small things that count. Nonetheless, the match was exceptional at best by Divas standards and was relatively quick and painless. Naomi is being groomed for a Divas title run and not Cameron, so no one thought Cameron would actually win the strap here. Tamina unintentionally costing AJ the match by DQ will probably lead to a title match between them at WrestleMania 30, which I don't really care to see in all honesty. I have no desire to see Tamina work as a face, as her true calling is as a heel.
Batista def. Alberto Del Rio
Boy, was this a train wreck or what? I appreciate the effort WWE put into at least attempting putting heat on Del Rio prior to the match with his ambush on Batista, but it was far too late for that. I didn't expect the live crowd to be forgiving toward this match, but I never thought they would be as vocal as they were. How naive of me. This was Batista's first singles match in nearly four years, but it didn't feel special in the slightest. Batista's in-ring work still needs improvement and Del Rio tried to get the best match out of him that he possibly could. Batista telling the fans to "deal with it" in regards to him being in the main event of WrestleMania is telling that he should be a heel right now, not a face.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Cesaro, Christian and Sheamus in an Elimination Chamber Match
Having the match kick off with Sheamus and Cesaro was a nice touch, as both competitors work a very similar style and took each other to the limit before anyone else even entered. Christian fared far better than I thought he would and I was glad to see him not taken out of the match despite it being rumored. I was also glad to see him not be the first one eliminated and his Frog Splash off the top of the pod onto Sheamus was a cool visual. Cesaro had a strong showing as well and took a ton of abuse before finally being eliminated. The Wyatt Family interfering solidifies the fact that we are getting Cena vs. Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania, which has been in the works since the Royal Rumble. One interference spot is passable, but two? That is flat-out ridiculous. One might say that it protected Bryan from losing cleanly, but the screwy finishes to pay-per-views need to end. Despite that, the final few minutes were great and everyone involved work hard to have a memorable match, so I give it a thumbs up in terms of in-ring action.
I have mixed feelings on this show. On one hand, it was basically what everyone expected it would be with almost every match being extremely predictable. I was fine with the results of most matches because they made sense, but that doesn't mean I'm satisfied with the direction the company is currently taking. Even though this was billed as the final stop before WrestleMania, there is still plenty of time for the card to change, so nothing is set in stone. That being said, I will withhold judgement until there is confirmation of Batista vs. Randy Orton and any other matches rumored for the event. In terms of in-ring action, this was a quality show for the two top matches (and also the opener for the Intercontinental Championship), but everything else either fell flat or was mediocre. Regardless of whether you enjoyed this event or not, it made the next episode of Raw that much more interesting.
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