Written by: Scrooge McSuck from DaWrestlingsite.com
– Originally broadcasted on the WWE Network (and something called Pay-Per-View, whatever that is) on May 4th, 2014, from the Izod Center in Jersey. Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and John “Bradshaw” Layfield are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. Our “expert panel” of the night consists of Josh Mathews, Booker T, Alex Riley, and “Why The Hell Am I Not On The Card?” Sheamus. This will be the last time I mention them, so I hope everyone who google’ed Alex Riley and came across this recap, I’m sorry to disappoint you.
Wee-LC Match: El Torito (w/ Los Matdores) vs. Hornswoggle (w/ 3MB):
Kick-Off Match. There’s a midget ring announcer, referee, and broadcast team consisting of, and I’m not kidding, Micro Cole, Jerry Smaller, and JB-Elf. They spend the entire match using/mocking Cole’s one-liners, the constant pimping of the Network and App (Jerry Lawler: Micro Cole, tell ’em how to download th App) and just having a blast. All weapons are, of course, small versions. The giant mini-ladder is still shorter than the top rope. After the break, we see Diego taking a bump through a mini table as Matadores and 3MB get in on the fun. Hornswoggle drops an elbow through the Midget Announce Table in the greatest spot ever (in Midget Matches). Heel miscommunication sees Slater knocked off the apron through a stack of four mini-tables. Mahal next, with the Ole Bomb through a giant stack of weapons. Finishing it off, McIntyre misses a somersault senton through a table. Slater gets whacked with a chair for the hell of it, Hornswoggle takes a shot to the face, and Torito finishes with the West Coast Pop through a table for the three count at 10:52. *** Yes, I just gave a midget match THREE STARS. It was a lot of fun and the crowd was into every second of it. Everyone was obviously having fun and working hard.
Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Jack Swagger (w/ Zeb Colter):
Elimination Rules, just because. This becomes important later (but not much later). Heyman does another of his classic trolling bits, still celebrating the end of the Undertaker’s streak at the hands of his client, BRRRRRROCK Lesnar. Typical clusterfuck we’ve come to associat with triple threats, with contrived spots to eliminate one of the three at given points early on. Surprise of the night: Swagger’s early elimination, following a Cesaro Superman-Suplex and Five Star Frog Splash from RVD at 6:28. The broadcast tam plays up confusion, possibly forgetting the match stipulations, and pretty much telling everyone the wrong guy won… whoops, never mind, it’s Elimination Rules. Cesaro and RVD put on a solid effort, including an impressive rolling gutwrench suplex spot (think Eddie’s three amigo’s). A trash can comes into play and RVD busts himself open hard-way missing a Five-Star Frog Splash (a cut around the eye). Cesaro with the Neutralizer onto the can ends it at 12:32. *** Too short to really build anything, but the stuff with Cesaro and RVD was pretty good, if short. Cesaro’s super-humans strength and spots are just too awesome not to enjoy.
– I ended up missing Alexander Rusev squashing R-Truth and Xavier Woods. Lana drew cheap heat by making a Putin reference (or whatever the guy’s name is, I don’t care much for World Politics). The “match” lasted less than three minutes and talk from Cole and Company was a complete destruction. He left Woods and R-Truth laying for the 4th week in a row. Not impressive. What is impressive… Lana’s legs.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match:
Big E. © vs. “Bad News” Barrett:
No goofy stipulations for this one. Barrett won a Contender’s Tournament, defeating Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, and Rob Van Dam to earn this title shot. After being reminded that Big E. has held the strap for 6 months, I have to wonder… when are they going to pull the plug on this reign? The crowd is clearly in favor of Barrett, with occasional chants of “Bad News”, and boo’ing all of Big E’s spots. They brawl around the ring and Barrett works in the old Cactus Elbow from the apron, but Big E. kicks out at ONE. They are moving at a fairly brisk pace for what’s been a slugfest/power match. Things get sluggish as Big E. takes him down with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, then follows with a standard belly-to-belly. Crowd boos both like he’s Scott Steiner. Big E. with a spear through the ropes, but the crowd hates him, thus getting a minimal reaction. Back inside, Winds of Change gets two. Wasteland gets two. Big E. ducks the Bull Hammer and hits a Sidewalk Slam for two. Big Ending is countered, Bull Hammer misses, but a third doesn’t, and we have a NEW Intercontinental Champion at 7:55. **1/4 Big E. was working like someone who had an attitude about losing the belt. Just my opinion. The right finish to what felt like an inevitable title change.
The Shield vs. Evolution:
(Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns vs. Triple H, Batista, Randy Orton)
Wow, this isn’t closing out the show? Color me surprised. EXCELLENT hype for the past month, I might say, complete with some awesome closing segments on Monday Night Raw. Rollins and Hunter start. Surprised to see Rollins dominate the early moments in the ring with someone like Triple H, considering he’s the (alleged) weakest member of the Shield. Major heat for Batista when he tags in (possibly dreaded “go away” X-Pac heat). Evolution take turns working Rollins over. Rollins escapes an Orton chinlock with a back suplex, but Hunter and Batista prevent a tag knocking Ambrose and Reigns off the apron. Sweet spot ending with an enziguri from Rollins, and now the hot tag to Ambrose at 5:59. He has a hot few moments working over Orton, but a foolish attempt the Figure-Four opens the doors for Evolution to take control again. LOUD “Boo-Tista” chant. HOW DID THAT GET OVER?! “You Can’t Wrestle” chant follows. Ambrose surprises Hunter with a snap DDT and gets our second hot tag, this time to Reigns, at 12:33.
Reigns works over Batista, making him the #1 Babyface in the company. He gets him some of Orton and Hunter on the floor. Rollins interrupts a Batista-Bomb with a diving knee. Superman Punch connects! THE SHIELD GOES FOR THE TRIPLE POWERBOMB AND PLANT BATISTA! 1… 2… Hunter pulls Reigns off! Rollins crash and burns on a suicide dive attempt! Hunter avoids the Superman Punch, hits the Pedigree, and Batista covers… for two! Ambrose and Hunter tumble over the Spanish Announce Table! Orton sets up and hits the RKO, and Batista covers, only for Rollins to make the save! Rollins and Orton brawl around the floor, leaving Reigns and Batista as the legal men in the ring. Hunter and Orton isolate Rollins, only for Ambrose to sprint over the announcers tables and land on the duo with a pair of knees! They fight into the crowd, with Ambrose taking a nasty bump down a flight of stairs. Where’s Rollins? Simple… DIVING OFF THE BALCONY!!!!! HOLY SHIT! Meanwhile, back in the ring, Batista counters the Spear with a spinebuster! He signals for the finish, but Reigns pushes him off, hits the Superman Punch, and comes exploding out of the corner with the Spear! 1… 2… 3! It’s all over at 19:51! Holy CRAP, was that an intense second half.
**** I had this sitting in the low three-stars based on the first half, which was a fine example of old school heat and Six-Man formula, but then the wild finish, with some great brawling and amazing high spots and near falls. Wow. You might say Reigns and Batista playing dead in the ring for as long as they did was a bit of a stretch, but I don’t think many people minded. Rollins dive off the balcony onto Hunter, Orton, and Ambrose was just insane looking. I feel bad for the poor saps who have to follow this match (probably the Diva’s). It’s going to take a major effort from anyone else to top this for Match of the Night Honors!
Steel Cage Match: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt (w/ Harper & Rowan):
Woah, really? No piss-break/concession stands match? I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I’m loving this angle and the mind games being played by Wyatt. It’s making me feel sorry for the John Cena character. The Wyatt Family is supposed to be kept out of the ring with the Cage set up, so we can expect them to do a run-in. It’s a fairly smart audience, the perfect location for the storyline they’re telling. At 4:11, Rowan gets a cheap shot in, thus rendering the gimmick of the match pointless. Wyatt is definitely showing more an effort to actually win than the mind-game-filled match at Mania 30. The first ten minutes or so is the standard second-rate Cena match hampered by limitations of the Cage. Cena does a spot where he almost muscles the door open in a quasi-tug of war with the Family, only to be crushed in the door. Cena pulls Harper in after the 40th attempt to prevent Cena’s escape. Cena kicks the door into Wyatt’s face, but his exit is blocked by a chair-wielding Rowan. Cena counters Sister Abigail with the STF. Cena with the second-rope AA, but surprisingly (not) Harper breaks the count. Cena has all three men in a compromised position, goes for the door, and out of nowhere, the lights go out. The lights come back, and some young boy is standing in his way singing a distorted rendition of Everyone’s Favorite Song. Wyatt with Sister Abigail, and he casually walks out the door for the victory at 21:11. ** I really dislike Cage Matches, since they just hamper the ability of everyone involved. The crowd was mostly out of it, and it dragged. Does the kid have a purpose, as in a personal connection to Cena? Tune into Monday Night Raw to find out. At least Wyatt won.
WWE Diva’s Championship Match:
Paige © vs. Tamina Snuka:
Paige has spent the last month or so picking up fairly easy victories over Alicia Fox and Aksana, while Tamina earned this title shot with a Battle Royal victory a few weeks back on WWE Main Event. I might have misheard, but did Cole say she’s the SON of WWE Hall of Famer, Jimmy Snuka?! Paige works a smart game of cat-and-mouse against her physically superior opponent, until a roundhouse kick knocks her from the top rope, to the floor. Tamina slows it down and plants Paige with a trio of slams, but a cover only gets two. There’s some obvious spot calling as Paige tackles Tamina to the floor. Paig tries a hurricanrana from the apron, but Tamina blocks it and swings Paige into the security wall. Tamina climbs the ropes with Paige on her shoulders, only for Paige to slip off and bring her down with a sunset flip Powerbomb for a 2.999 count. Paige with a head-scissors, slamming Tamina face-first into the canvas. Tamina comes back with a modified Rock Bottom for two. Paige blocks the Superkick, sweeps the legs, and locks on the Scorpion Crosslock for the tap out at 6:18. *3/4 The crowd only reacted to Paige’s constant howl’s. It wasn’t bad, but the lifeless crowd made it feel longer than it was. Paige is pale references: Only one. I had the over-under set at 2.5, with my bet going for over.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Daniel Bryan © vs. Kane:
I am 100% serious to say I’m surprised this is closing the show. Daniel Bryan’s personal life has made him a bit of an afterthought since WrestleMania, but between his getting married, a honeymoon, and the unfortunate passing of his father, I’m not complaining, and Kane is a decent “first challenger” for the Underdog Champion™. Didn’t they end up feeding Kane to another under-sized Champion the IWC was in love with roughly a decade ago? Man, I feel old. No special intros, as Bryan bum rushes Kane in the aisle. They spend the first 10-minutes or so trading weapon shots and brawling. Bryan squirms out of and counters most of Kane’s signature moves, but the crowd is pretty lethargic for Kane. They end up brawling backstage, and nearly kill the live feed thanks to Kane throwing a plugged in television into a tank of water. They destroy a car and Bryan takes control with a series of crowbar blows. He loads Kane up on a forklift and drives him back to the ring. Bryan comes off the top of the forklift with a swandive Headbutt, but it only gets two! The action finally picks up with some solid counters and high spots. Bryan ends up applying a Kendo-Stick assisted Yes-Lock, but Kane finds his way to the floor. Suicide dive is blocked and countered with a Chokeslam through a table! Kane sets up another table and sets it on fire! Bryan uses the ropes to slingshot Kane off through the flaming table! A WWE employee is quickly there to douse the scene with an extinguisher. Back in the ring, Kane is still in a daze, and Bryan finishes with the Knee Plus to retain at 22:29. Bryan celebrates, but Kane sits up and sets off his pyro to end the PPV/Network Special. Okay? **3/4 The crowd clearly wasn’t buying Kane as a logical option to challenge, barely reacting to anything he did for the first half of the match, but popping for everything Daniel Bryan. A hot finish really pulled this one up, but making it a “hardcore” stipulation limits the potential, and the finish tells us we’re getting a rematch at Payback, and I’m not sure I want to see it now.
– Post-Show, Daniel Bryan does a Press Conference, and to my surprise, Kane DOESN’T burst through the back drop during one of the “lighter” moments to try and give us a scare. BOO-TISTA!
Final Thoughts: I sure got my $10 worth for the monthly fee of the WWE Network, but that doesn’t mean the show wasn’t without some flaws. First, the positive: As expected, the Shield and Evolution delivered a 4-star match and ran away with Match of the Night Honors. It wasn’t great, but we opened the show with a solid Triple Threat, and we got the first ever great Midget Match in WWE History. The “Main Event” (Bryan/Kane) delivered a decent performance, but it took a while to really pick up and get the crowd involved. Cena/Wyatt was the same, but a bit worse in workrate: The finish was fine, but it was long, dull, and just a chore to sit through, waiting for the “creative” finish to screw Cena. Nothing was outright bad (I didn’t see one match, but it was a 2-minute squash), but other than the 6-Man Tag, nothing was must-see, either… except the Wee-LC Match. That was a blast. Mild Recommendation to check out Extreme Rules ’14.