Eat your heart out, Fastlane, because this glorified house show ended up being one of the most solid, entertaining, albeit predictable shows of the year. Natalya and Charlotte put on a stellar match. The New Day trudged towards babyface status. Enzo and Big Cass impressed. And Dean Ambrose showed the entire WWE Universe that he belongs at the top of every card he’s in.
The New Day vs. The League of Nations (WWE Tag Team Championship match)
The New Day kicked the night off by giving us the most entertaining advertisement for their new Booty-O’s box and shirt combo. They cheerfully insulted the League of Nation, but interestingly did not insult Canada like one would expect. Huh.
Some premature celebrating allowed Sheamus to take early control of the match before tagging in King Barrett, who fell to the Unicorn Stampede. Some double-teaming by the League, however, allowed them to regain momentum.
But a desperate dropkick by Kingston gave him the time he needed to tag in Big E, who hit a belly-to-belly suplex on Barrett, who countered into a suplex of his own. The two both tagged out, spent. Sheamus nearly took out Kingston with the Clover Leaf, but a beautiful counter gave Kingston the time to tag in Big E.
Barrett nearly covered him, but Woods distracted the ref, allowing Big E to hit the Big Ending for the victory.
The match was solid, but the most interesting thing was the lack of biting remarks from the New Day directed at the crowd. Looks like they’re being steered into babyface territory. I’m conflicted about this. I adore them as heels. They’re absolutely hilarious as heels. But at the same time, they are rarely booed because yeah, they’re that good.
I’ll see where this leads before I pass judgment…
Chris Jericho vs. Jack Swagger
Chris Jericho, in full heel mode, cut a promo in the ring about how ashamed he was to be Canadian, jeering at AJ Styles chants and insulting his home country as much as he could manage.
Jericho started his match against the real American with a slap, sliding out of the ring when Swagger hit some punches. A cheap shot by Jericho allowed him to take control of the match. The crowd taunted him with chants for AJ Styles.
Swagger seemed to be mounting a comeback, hitting a Swagger Bomb on Jericho, but the seasoned vet kicked out of it, nearly hitting the Codebreaker before Swagger countered out of it, locking in the Patriot Lock. But Jericho used the ref to make it to the ropes, locking in the Walls of Jericho for the win.
This was a showcase of heel Jericho, and it did its job. Short and sweet.
The Revival vs. Enzo & Big Cass (NXT Tag Team Championship match)
Enzo and Cass took control early on despite distraction attempts from Dash and Dawson with some fantastic double-teaming that included a thrilling aerial maneuver from Enzo Amore.
However, some clever tagging and interference allowed Dash and Dawson to regain momentum, picking Enzo apart without mercy by working his arm. Enzo tried getting back to Cass, but Dawson took him out of the ring to prevent it.
Cass eventually managed to tag in hot, clearing the ring viciously. Dawson tried hiding behind Carmella, but she had none of it, slapping him. Enzo rolled up for a near-fall, but was double-teamed out as the Revival scored a hard-fought win.
The most over tag team in all of NXT, Enzo Amore and Big Cass, along with the Revival, put on one of the best paced and most exciting matches of the night, filled with thrilling spots and excellent tag team tactics. No doubt they will be making the leap to the main roster in no time at all.
Charlotte vs. Natalya (Divas Championship match)
Dedicating her match her her uncle Bret Hart, Natalya took early control of the match before Charlotte began taking toll on her with a series of submission holds. Charlotte mocked her throughout, but Natalya locked in the Surfboard.
Charlotte got out, but the move served its purpose. However, Charlotte pulled Nattie out of the ring, weakening her. She pounded a weakened Natalya into the middle of the ring, wearing down the veteran Diva by working her legs.
Charlotte continued working Natalya’s leg at ringside, but Natalya sent her headfirst into the ring’s corner. Back in the ring, the two exchanged strikes, with Natalya nearly locking in the Sharpshooter. Charlotte looked to lock in the Figure 8, but Natalya refused to give in, even when Charlotte rolled out of the ring and hit her with the Natural Selection.
She nearly took the title with a massive powerbomb, but Charlotte barely kicked out. Natalya then locked in the Sharpshooter, but interference by Ric Flair distracted Nattie enough to let Charlotte roll her up, using the ropes to secure the win.
This match brought Toronto to its feet, which is always thrilling to see with two women in the ring. Nattie and Charlotte absolutely delivered, masterfully telling a compelling story and showing everyone why the WWE was abuzz after their last battle in NXT.
Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper vs. Brock Lesnar
Bray Wyatt entered with Harper at his side, announcing his henchman would be fighting at his side. Bray retreated from the ring, leaving Harper to take a suplex. However, a distraction by Wyatt allowed Harper to take control of the match.
But Lesnar couldn’t be controlled for long, powering back with one German suplex after another. Throughout, Lesnar kept glancing back at Wyatt, almost daring him to come get some. But Wyatt wisely stayed away, allowing Lesnar to hit an F-5 on Harper for the pinfall.
Wyatt beat a hasty retreat, leaving a beaten Luke Harper in the middle of the ring and saving his confrontation with the Beast Incarnate for another day.
Sami Zayn vs. Stardust
Entering to a massive pop, Sami Zayn took early and swift control of the match with his unique, quick-tempo offense. Stardust, however, gained some momentum of his own with a well-timed counterstrike, working Zayn’s shoulder.
Slowly but surely, Zayn fought back, working his way back to his feet. Stardust locked in a submission hold, but Zayn made it to the ropes. The pair exchanged rollups, and Stardust hit a huge superplex from the top rope, which Zayn just barely kicked out of.
Zayn regained momentum, taking Stardust out of the ring before hitting the blue thunder bomb in the ring. He maintained the momentum this time, getting the pinfall.
This match dragged near the end, but was a decent showcase for the WWE’s newest sensation.
Triple H vs. Dean Ambrose (WWE World Heavyweight Championship match)
Ambrose and Triple H traded momentum, with Ambrose mocking Triple H recklessly early on, taking control as Triple H grew flustered. Triple H looked to be mounting a comeback with his sheer power, but outside of the ring, Ambrose hit a reversal clothesline to get things back in his lane.
He targeted Triple H’s leg, buckling it in the ring’s corner and hitting it with a punch from the top rope. However, Triple H came back, nearly hitting a Pedigree but instead sending Ambrose into the steel steps and then the barricade.
The beating continued in the ring, the Cerebral Assassin methodically tearing Ambrose apart with ice in his eyes and locking Ambrose into a submission hold. Triple H taunted him, but Ambrose refused to tap, getting out of it. Triple H hit a Spinebuster, but even that couldn’t keep Ambrose down for the count as the challenger made it to the top ropes to hit a Flying Elbow.
Ambrose went manic at this point, hitting Triple H with a series of rapid strikes and a Running Bulldog. He went for Dirty Deeds twice, but was thwarted twice, getting hit with a wicked clothesline from the Game. Triple H again went for the Pedigree, but was sent out of the ring by Ambrose.
Triple H looked to put Ambrose through the announce table, but Ambrose threw him into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Ambrose locked in the Figure 4 on Triple H, but Triple H just barely managed to get out, only to be locked into the Sharpshooter, WHICH HE ALSO GOT OUT OF. Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds for the three-count, but the official waved it off since Ambrose’s feet were under the bottom rope.
Triple H rolled up Ambrose using the ropes, but Ambrose kicked out, taking the Game out of the ring and hitting him with a savage suicide dive and then a Flying Elbow from the top rope out of the ring. Ambrose looked to send Triple H through the announce table, but Triple H dodged, hitting the Pedigree to retain.
Am I disappointed? Of course. Surprised? No, obviously not.
This match was fantastic from start to finish, a true breakout performance for Ambrose, who had the arena wrapped around his finger. Additionally, the screwy finish does have me wondering if perhaps his Championship hopes are not dashed just yet.
Even if they are, he lost while retaining his dignity and is now set for a bout even more anticipated than the main event.
Ha, good luck with Reigns, WWE.