Written by: Scrooge McSuck
– LIVE from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO on July 19th, 2015. Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and John “Bradshaw” Layfield are at ringside to call all the action, unless otherwise noted. Forgiveness in advance if this recap doesn’t follow my typical style. I didn’t take detailed notes just out of tiredness and am going mostly by memory, so if something is a bit inaccurate, my apologies.
R-Truth vs. King Barrett:
It’s the Battle of the Crown between King Barrett and King What’s Up, complete with paper-crown and plunger for a scepter. Such an important match it needs to be featured on the Kickoff Show. The commentary laughable claims how could Barrett live with himself if he loses to R-Truth, but by my count, he’s lost to him about 3-4 times in the last month alone, so I’m sure he would handle it well. The commentary continued going off the tracks as Lawler randomly name-drops Ben E. King, B.B. King, and Stephen King, simply for having the name King. Mostly slugging and rest-holds until the closing minutes. Barrett got a near fall with the Winds of Change, and Truth a near fall off the Scissors Kick. Bull Hammer was countered with a roll-up, but the Lie Detector missed, and the second Bull Hammer connects for the three count at 9:15. At least Barrett won, right? *1/2 Crowd was popping here and there, simply for being the first match of the night, but the heat was never sustained and the action was just the bare minimum until the closing minutes.
Randy Orton vs. Sheamus:
Interesting choice for the opening of the official PPV. I’m not really sure what the point of their fighting is, but it seems like they’re just crossing paths for the sake of giving each other something to do. Orton is from St. Louis, so logic dictates he will be the one doing the job, but Sheamus being the Money In The Bank briefcase winner is guaranteed to lose every big match until he cashes that sucker in. You’d think a PPV crowd would dump all over a match that is routinely treated as an after-thought in front of smart-heavy Raw crowds, but this crowd was fairly energetic. Slow-ish start, with both men evading each other’s signature spots. Highlight for the first half was a brutal exchange of European uppercuts. No disrespect to either man, but the lack of interest coming into the show meant a lack of interest in the actual match. Sheamus with a trio of Irish Curse back-breakers to take control. Hot series of sequences to close with: Orton side-stepping the Brogue Kick, only for Sheamus to counter the RKO with White Noise. Orton rallies with a Super-Plex for a long two count. Sheamus hits the Brogue Kick out of nowhere, but it knocks Orton into the ropes. He hooks the Cloverleaf, but Orton makes it to the ropes after a long, dramatic sequence. Sheamus pulls him off the canvas, only to be hit with RKO out of nowhere, and it’s good for the three count at 16:54. That finish sure came out of nowhere (pun somewhat intended), but expected. ***1/4 Really good opener, but these two have had the same formula match forever, but with the face and heel roles reversed. If you’ve never seen them work, then props to you, you’ll enjoy the match more than I did.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
The Primetime Players (c) vs. The New Day (w/ Xavier Woods):
(Darren Young & Titus O’Neil vs. Kofi Kingston & Big E.)
Since losing the Titles at Money In The Bank, the New Day has spent the better part of five weeks doing jobs to every team (and make-shift team) on the roster, so logic dictates they win the titles from one of the least deserving Champions of recent memory seriously, Darren Young and Titus O’Neil, who couldn’t get over with an electrified heat making machine. I guess that celebrity award Titus won for being a Super Dad got WWE a shit-ton of publicity? Woods is the outside man, which makes this match so much better just for the fact he never shuts the hell up. He’s easily one of the best trolls on the roster. Mostly uninspired work here. The Champs controlled early on until Young became the face-in-peril. Big E. with a splash on the apron to knock the oomph out of Young. O’Neil gets the first hot tag, but a distraction from Woods turns the tide again. Young gets the real hot tag (and a non-reaction for it) and fairs no better. He avoids the Super-Team Big Ending, ducks Trouble in Paradise, and lays out Kofi with the Gut Check. Titus tags back in and finishes Big E. with the Clash of the Titus at 8:50 to retain. That was a shocking finish. ** The crowd was mostly silent for the PTP but reacted well to the New Day, and especially Xavier Woods trolling. Action was just OK.
Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt:
Another match in a series of them where I don’t quite understand the motivation. Honestly, I’m over all these Wyatt feuds where they just start at random and usually have very little substance to keep them interesting beyond a two week period. “Anyone But You” gives me the implication that Wyatt doesn’t want Reigns to succeed, but is that the actual direction WWE was going with or am I looking too into it? Wyatt was clearly the crowd favorite, but Reigns didn’t receive over-whelming heat, either. I guess that’s only reserved for WrestleMania Season. Solid Heavyweight action, if a little too long for my tastes. They were hitting each other with stiff clotheslines throughout. The ring apron continued to be an MVP candidate, with Wyatt planting Reigns with a sweet looking DDT. He manages to avoid the Drive By and crushes Reigns with a running senton on the floor. He unwisely tries to go for a Super-Plex, but Reigns counters with a sit-out Power-Bomb for two. They go through a series of counters until Wyatt hits a uranage for two. Sister Abigail is countered with the Superman Punch for a near fall. They continue to trade near falls until taking it to the floor. Reigns over-powers Wyatt and throws four chairs into the ring, but a hooded figure with a disgusting beard (hmm who is it?) shoves him into the post and connects with a super-kick. Back inside, Wyatt with Sister Abigail for the three count at 22:05. Wow, Wyatt WON!? I put my money on Reigns or a non-finish, to be honest. Oh, and the mysterious assailant was Luke Harper. SHOCKER! ***1/2 Really good power stuff, but just a little too long. Much better than I anticipated, to be honest.
Charlotte (w/ Paige & Becky Lynch) vs. Sasha Banks (w/ Naomi & Tamina) vs. Brie Bella (w/ Nikki Bella & Alicia Fox):
This one was added during the broadcast, to capitalize on the segment from the previous weeks episode of Raw that introduced Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch to the main roster. Way to blow your wad at once instead of pacing it out for at least a month or two. Going in, I feel like there’s going to be too much pressure too soon on this to be significantly better than most WWE Diva’s matches. Nikki teases competing, but steps aside to let Brie handle the dirty work, and thus knock the match down a few pegs as well. The majority of the match felt like Charlotte and Banks fighting to get Brie out of the way from ruining everything, and when she was in control, stuff just looked bad. Charlotte at times seemed a bit nervous, but not to an obvious level, and Banks looked very comfortable playing the arrogant bitch. The crowd wavered back and forth with interest, at times being totally into it and at others just being so-so. You can credit that to the odd pacing and the need to throw an inferior worker like Brie in. Hot finish saw Banks trap Charlotte in the Bank Statement (a modified STF), but Brie broke it up, only to be trapped in Charlotte’s Figure Eight (a Figure-Four with a high bridge) and forced to tap out at 11:32. **3/4 This felt really good at times, but pacing issues had me running hot and cold. Take Brie out of the match and it would’ve been much better.
WWE United States Championship Match:
John Cena (c) vs. Kevin Owens:
The rubber match of an epic trilogy that spanned about 7 weeks of television. Again, WWE is really having issues with their pacing of storylines. With Owens coming off two big, clean losses to Cena at Money in the Bank and to Finn Balor at Beast in the East, you’d think his reward for being promoted to the main roster, full-time, would be winning the US Title and going on his own path of destruction. My official prediction was Owen’s going over via under-handed tactics. They wasted little time going into the heavy hitting offense. Owens planted Cena with a DDT that just looked brutal on replays. He went to the top rope, but the senton bomb met nothing but knees. Owens goes through Cena’s own Five Moves of Doom, but the Attitude Adjustment is countered into the STF. Cena goes for the Springboard Stunner, but its countered with a German suplex and rolling cannonball. Cena with the Sunset-Bomb for two. Owens counters the guillotine leg drop into a Power-Bomb for two. Cena with the Attitude Adjustment for two. Cena goes for a super-plex, but Owens counters with his own twisting slam for two. Pop-Up Powerbomb is countered with the hurricanrana. Owens with the AA and STF, but Cena fights his way to the ropes. Cena with the Stunner on attempt #2, but Owens responds with a hard clothesline. Pop-Up Powerbomb finally connects, but it only gets two. They fight up to the top rope, allowing Cena to hit the Super Attitude Adjustment, but it only gets two! First time I recall anyone kicking out of that. Cena tries to lift Owens limp body off the canvas and gets cradled for two. Cena instantly slaps on the STF, but Owens is close to the ropes, so he drags him back and adds even more pressure on his neck, and Owens finally taps at 22:13. An awesome ending to an excellent trilogy. ***** I’m sure I’ll get crap for over-rating this a bit, but it accomplished the goal it set going in. These two have already had two outstanding matches. There was no point in going in slow and trying to build from there. It was heavy, hard action from about the 2-minute mark on, featuring a ton of near falls, counters, and innovative spots. Cena having to push himself to the next level to make Owens tap was icing on the cake.
– The Intercontinental Title Match featuring Ryback, Big Show, and the Miz is postponed due to Ryback suffering from a staph infection (or STAFF infection according to his twitter feed). Miz comes out to bury him for being an injury prone coward, then goes for the gusto by calling Big Show dated and saying the fans are just wondering when he will retire. AMEN, MIZ! Show makes an appearance, KO punches Miz, and walks away. So is that official face turn #29, or just another day at the office?
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman):
No Corporate Kane, no J & J Security. Rollins is all alone. WWE sure did book themselves into a corner with this one so let’s see how bad things end up being. To my surprise, Rollins doesn’t try to run away like he did for the entire build-up to this match. He does his best to evade Lesnar (only to be chased by a barrier hurdling Lesnar) and try and kick away at his previously injured leg, but all it does is make Lesnar a little more mad. Rollins takes a trip to Suplex City approximately 13 times, looking like a pile of goo about half-way through. He gets some hope spots in, like a series of suicide dives, but Lesnar just shrugs them off. Lesnar FINALLY hits the F-5, but the lights go out and HOLY CRAP, the Undertaker is back, Rollins and the referee have vanished into Bray Wyatt’s black-hole of storyline confusion, and Lesnar is a bit freaked out. After a brief skirmish, the Undertaker kicks Lesnar questionably low, plants him with a Choke-Slam, and follows with a pair of Tombstone Piledrivers to over-whelming positive response all the while, the Main Event is a Non-Finish and the Champion not only just vanished, but was made to look like the biggest chump possible. Call the match 12-minutes of Rollins destruction and an awesome schmozz finish. **1/2 Thats a soft rating, as its hard to put an official stamp on a match that was designed simply to push a different match for SummerSlam. I was enjoying the hell out of all of it, though.
Final Thoughts: I’m sure some are going to look at that Main Event as a huge reason to give the show a negative review, but looking at it from both POV’s, it was a cool moment and not a complete waste like whenever Big Show does it. The undercard features a MOTYC in Cena vs. Owens III, a really good heavyweight match between Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt, and a solid opener featuring Randy Orton and Sheamus. With the exception of the Tag Title Match, nothing on the actual PPV was hard to sit through, and delivered above and beyond the expectations the weak build-up had promised. Mild Recommendation to give this show a look.