By Graham "GSM" Matthews
El Torito def. Hornswoggle in a Mask vs. Hair Match
There was no topping their pleasantly surprising WeeLC match from Extreme Rules, but that's not to say they didn't attempt to with this bout. The action was fun while it lasted and the other members of 3MB and Los Matadores deserve credit for adding to the match. The "This is awesome" chant was a bit premature, but Torito and Hornswoggle had a better standard singles match than I expected them to (silly of me to underestimate them again). Hornswoggle losing was predictable since there's no way Torito would be unmasked and risk ruining the Los Matadores gimmick.
United States Champion Sheamus def. Cesaro
As expected, Cesaro and Sheamus had a great matchup with exciting action from bell to bell. The live crowd was heavily behind Cesaro and against Sheamus, but that's the norm with the pro-heel Chicago audiences. Cesaro had an awesome showing here and lost nothing in defeat, especially given the fact Sheamus via a roll-up. It was far too soon for Sheamus to drop the belt after winning it only a month ago and Cesaro can continue to chase the title if he pleases. I loved the move to put these two in the opening slot, as it kicked off the show on a high note and set the tone for the rest of the evening. On a side note, Paul Heyman referring to CM Punk in his pre-match promo was brilliant and a smart way to silence the Punk chants for the meantime.
Rybaxel def. Cody Rhodes and Goldust
This was the best Rhodes brothers match in months. I never thought I'd say that because they consistently had the best match on the show for months earlier this year, but they just haven't been given the time of day as of late. Credit goes to Rybaxel as well for putting on a fun final few minutes, though I don't expect their win to lead to them getting a shot at the WWE Tag Team Championships again. Personally, I've been enjoying the slow build approach this Rhodes brothers breakup storyline has taken if only because I'd like to see them face off on a big stage such as SummerSlam and not in a throwaway match on Raw. I don't expect the angle to be dragged out that long, but a guy can dream, right?
Rusev def. Big E
Rusev has competed in nothing but squash matches since debuting after WrestleMania 30 and while the length of this match was only slightly longer than the rest, it was a refreshing change of pace because it was competitive. Big E proved here with his short spurts of athleticism (especially that brutal spear to the outside) that he is an underrated worker in the eyes of many and shouldn't be overlooked. In the end, Rusev went over but I wouldn't have minded seeing this thing going another few minutes. Expect some sort of gimmicky "Flag on a Pole" match between these two at some point in the near future with Flag Day quickly approaching.
Kofi Kingston def. Bo Dallas by Disqualification
You had to know from the moment that it was announced Kingston based The Authority on Twitter that he would be "punished" in some form on this show. Kane's attack, while flat, was probably better for Dallas than having him actually wrestle the match. It allowed him to cut two good promos that firmly established him as a heel. Kingston has been marginalized for so long that the crowd couldn't have cared less about Kingston getting ambushed, but at least Dallas wasn't overshadowed here.
Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett def. Rob Van Dam
Fans haven't been given much of an incentive to care about this feud these last few weeks, but Barrett and RVD did an excellent job of getting the crowd invested in the action. It was a very nice back-and-forth match with those in attendance buying into some of the near-falls. It was definitely one of the better Intercontinental title matches in recent memory and served as a reminder of how well WWE has built the midcard back up as of late. As with Sheamus, there was no reason to take the title off Barrett here after winning it only a month ago.
Brie Bella Quit WWE
Stephanie McMahon has been absolutely amazing in her role for many months now. She comes off as so disingenuous during every one of her appearances that she's so easy to hate. Brie was the weak link in this storyline due to her poor acting skills, but she showed a great deal of improvement here. She instantly won over the crowd as soon as she slapped Stephanie and it made for a cool moment. I guess we can now rule out WWE stripping Bryan of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I don't know where this story goes form here but I'll admit that I'm slightly intrigued.
John Cena def. Bray Wyatt in a Last Man Standing Match
Last Man Standing matches had the tendency to be slow and plodding, but this was anything but. They took their brawl all around ringside and busted out some crazy spots. Cena and Wyatt made great use of the extreme environment and The Wyatt Family and The Usos deserve credit for their contributions as well. While the finish with Cena literally burying Bray was lame, the match as a whole was excellent and far better than their two prior encounters combined. Now the question is where both Cena and Wyatt go from here. As long as this feud doesn't continue past this point, I'm content.
Divas Champion Paige def. Alicia Fox
Paige and Fox are both good workers and they had a decent enough matchup, but the action never seemed to click with the audience. They put forth a strong effort, but even then the match wasn't anything special. It's a shame because Paige has potential to be a great champion but the Creative Team hasn't given her or the Divas division the light of day. The match served as a buffer and thus the fans in attendance treated it as such. Why Fox had a drawn out meltdown on Raw and then had next to nothing after she lost here is beyond me.
The Shield def. Evolution in a No Holds Barred Elimination Match
Similar to Extreme Rules, The Shield and Evolution brawled all around ringside and incorporated a number of strong spots. They told a great story throughout in that The Shield were the underdogs, suffering a grueling amount of punishment. They were given very good time and the action was entertaining and chaotic from start to finish. One had to assume the eliminations would be fast-paced given how much time they gave themselves to finish up, but each of the eliminations of Evolution were well done. I was surprised to see The Shield win and even more shocked that it was a clean sweep. Kudos to Evolution for putting over the young guns in fantastic fashion. They didn't have anything to gain really if Evolution disbands from here. I'm still starstruck Triple H lost three pay-per-view matches in a row. Wow.
Every single match on this show delivered in terms of in-ring action, making it the most consistently entertaining event in ages. Granted, it was extremely predictable, but the right Superstars went over in each bout and progressed their respective storylines nicely. Both John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt and The Shield vs. Evolution have been great feuds, but I surely hope this was the end of the line for both programs. The product feels stale at the moment, but a fresh Raw on Monday night could set up a hot summer season for WWE. This pay-per-view may not have been the most exciting or most noteworthy in recent memory, but it was definitely enjoyable and well worth the replay if you happened to miss it live.
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