Written by Tucker Leighty-Phillips
First and foremost, let me say that no matter my thoughts on the show – I hope that Sting was just selling his injury well and is not actually injured. The show ended roughly twelve minutes early and he was not shown on camera after taking the pin. As a fan and human being, I believe that health should always come first, and if he was seriously injured, I think the WWE should have pulled the trigger on the Sheamus/Kane interferences quicker and pulled Sting out of the match as soon as possible. This is obviously speculation, but there are a number of signs indicating that he was seriously hurt, from the atypical flow of the match to his collapse during the match.
As for the rest of the show…
I feel bad for Ryback, honestly. It seemed like he was shoehorned into the Intercontinental title picture after Daniel Bryan’s injury, and then the writers just forgot to write stories for him all summer. His feud with the Miz and Big Show was weird and contrived at best, and a lot of his segments and promos weren’t memorable (and his dialogue has always seems much more forced as a face, in my personal opinion). However, this evening’s match with Kevin Owens was solid. It didn’t tear the house down by any means, but the two played well off each other and gave the show a great first impression. Jim Ross has to be sitting somewhere right now in awe of Kevin Owens. He’s that great old school heel that has been missing from WWE for a while, and Owens capturing the title with an eye rake was a great old school heel tactic. This sets up the rematch and gives Ryback a chance to rebuild the momentum of his first less-than-thrilling title reign, and now we get to see what Owens will do with his first championship on the main roster.
Never in my quarter-century of living did I think I would spend my evenings anxiously anticipating the arrival of a tag team featuring a guy who plays the trombone a lot, but here I am. Xavier Woods and the New Day have once again hit the ball out of the park, and I’m so thrilled to see this feud continue. This is the ultimate battle of the past and the future battling here in the present. The New Day have the ability to be a long-lasting, constantly evolving stable, and their weekly antics and improvisations are only getting more and more hilarious. Big E applying a rhythmic headlock to the tune of their chant cracked me up, and it really set the tune for the rest of the match. And can I take a second to mention that we just saw the Dudleys competing in a match in 2015? They looked great, too. Bubba may be in the best shape of his career, and they’re both still incredible in-ring performers and charismatic as hell (I never thought I’d see the appeal of old dudes in camo doing the Budweiser “wazzup” thing, but I just can’t help myself). My only complaint is that I would have enjoyed seeing one of the Dudleys go through a table. The heat in that building would’ve rivaled the core of the sun.
I’ve said this before, and I’m going to say it again. I like Nikki Bella. I am honestly hard-pressed to name a wrestler who has improved more than Nikki has over the course of the last two years or so. Yes, her acting is rough around the edges and the way she has been booked is mind-boggling (she transcends face and heel, and is somehow both at all times), but her in-ring work is vastly superior than it used to be. However, I still want her to lose her title. Speaking of strange booking, let’s talk about the match. It began with some classic in-ring action, the heel injuring a limb and then continuing to attack that limb. Nikki was hammering Charlotte’s left leg the entire match and Charlotte sold well. Commentary really hammered home the injury too, suggesting that Charlotte may not be able to lock in the Figure Eight due to the leg injury. This is heel champion booking 101, folks. So naturally, after an entire match of getting absolutely zero offense in, Charlotte counters one move, locks in her finishing submission, and Nikki immediately taps out, ending her historic reign. What’s the point of the entire build with the injured leg if there’s no payoff? Regardless, the celebration after the match was nothing short of beautiful, with Charlotte hugging her father, both of them shouting “woo” and strutting with tears streaming down their cheeks. Maybe now that Charlotte is the champion, we’ll finally get some character development besides acknowledging that she is Ric Flair’s daughter. Charlotte is Ric Flair’s daughter, in case you weren’t aware.
Want to find a way to put a feud to bed in 2015? Insert Chris Jericho. I respect him for being so willing to help out younger talent, and he is one of my all-time favorites, but his work the last couple of years has just been dull and uninspired. I’ve never found the appeal of him as a face, because it pales in comparison to the slimy, rude, dirtbag Jericho that I grew up watching. So when his music hit and it was revealed that he was the third man for Ambrose and Reigns, my eyes widened and I had a revelation. “Oh, so THAT’S who’s going to take the pin.” The match itself was okay. I like everyone involved in the match (save for “Brain Strawman,” who I haven’t seen a lot of), but it seemed like they were all just doing their spots until Jericho could eventually lose the match. However, the post-match was entertaining, I like the idea of a heel Jericho against Ambrose. Just the idea of those two going at it on the microphone gives me chills.
I am well into my twenties. I have never owned a piece of memorabilia with the words “never give up” emblazoned on it. I do not adhere to the rules of hustle, loyalty, or respect, and I’ve certainly never uttered the phrase “the champ is here,” but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t rooting for John Cena tonight. That man has been a workhorse this year. He brought prestige to the United States championship and his weekly open challenges were consistently the best segments of many an episode of Raw. I love Seth Rollins, but I was rooting for Cena like the unashamed ten year old wide-eyed child that I truly must be. Cena and Rollins have a dynamic in the ring that is mesmerizing to watch, and they have the potential to have a chemistry that rivals some of the greats. Tonight’s match was no different. It was filled with great spots, moves that looked legitimately brutal, and both men brought their A-game. Hopefully this allows Cena to continue doing the open challenges and possibly move on to a new feud (although he’ll probably just end up on a survivor series team with Roman and Dean). Props to both men for a great match tonight.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, the main event had a strange and sloppy finish that may or may not have been caused by a serious injury to Sting. This is a damn shame, because Sting was really putting in work the first half of the match. How many 56 year old men can do what he did? His crossbody off the top of the turnbuckle was a thing of beauty, and his table bump was one that I would never consider taking. I really hope that he is alright, and it’s a shame that they didn’t give him the title – with the career this man has had, he is well-deserving of at least one reign with the biggest championship of them all.
And for all of those people anxiously awaiting Sheamus to cash in and become champion so they can take a couple of months away from wrestling to focus on their real life, your wait continues. You can thank the devil’s favorite demon, Kane. The big red machine sold his shares and his slacks, and is back in the tights. However, he’s staying consistent by doing what he does best – interfering in main events. It looks like this will be setting up a Seth Rollins/Kane feud, and I really hope it does well. The last time Kane had a main event feud with the champion, we got that strange b-movie horror story featuring Brie Bella whose acting was too bad for even the campiest of storylines.
But at least Brock’s coming back.