Written by: Scrooge McSuck
– Originally presented on the WWE Network on October 25th, 2015, from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, the former home of SummerSlam until they decided the NY Market was a better place to hold the Mid-Summer Classic oh wait, that’s a MLB Trademark? Whoops, my error. The Kickoff Show featured a meaningless Six-Man Tag of Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, and Neville against Rusev, Wade Barrett, and Sheamus. Good guys won, so I’m sure the heels won the rematch the next night.
WWE United States Championship Match:
John Cena (c) vs. ???
It’s the official U.S. Open Championship Challenge, and it’s kicking off the PPV odd choice for an opener, John Cena. He doesn’t waste much time, quickly issuing the challenge. This brings out Zeb Colter, riding a Rascal, and declaring that the world should be about uniting and this brings out his new protege, ALBERTO DEL RIO, in a cool but head-scratching surprise. I never thought Del Rio should’ve been let go in the first place, but he’s a good hand to have back. Weird match. Del Rio mostly did strikes and rest-holds while Cena sold for the majority until his five-move-of-doom-sequence. Seriously, the lone “high spot” was a garden-variety tilt-o-whirl back-breaker that they did at least three replays for. Maybe this was a last minute thing, but it’s not like these two don’t have a track record of working together. Cena makes his comeback, because Cena Rises Above, but Del Rio escapes an AA attempt, counters with the Back Stabber, and a Super-Kick gets three at 8:26?! What the hell just happened, when did Cena turn into Dolph Ziggler, doing a clean job to a transition move that doesn’t put away Zack Ryder?! ** No matter who was challenging, it was obvious Cena wasn’t going to retain, but I expected more. Disappointing match, but still a cool return.
Hell in a Cell Match: Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt:
According to Michael Cole, Reigns and Wyatt are the 34th and 35th participants in the history of Hell in a Cell matches. Considering his claims that JBL has wrestled Undertaker more than anyone in history (cough:Kane:cough), I’m not sure I want to accept it at face value. These two have been feuding since June, including, on PPV alone, a singles match (won by Wyatt thanks to interference), a standard tag match (won by Reigns, pinning Wyatt)), and a 6-Man Tag (with Braun Strong Man choking out Jericho, because he’s just a “Will Job For Pay” kind of guy now). Slow-ish pace, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Lots of brawling in and around the ring until we get to the weapons, mostly kendo stick blows, with the occasional chair shot and some tables. Reigns went through one via a Rock Bottom from the apron, and later in the match Reigns returned the favor by Powerbombing him through one, and then spearing Wyatt off the apron through another. Reigns countered Sister Abigail with a roll-up for two, then immediately hits a Superman Punch for another near fall. Wyatt comes back with Sister Abigail, but it only gets two. He gets the bright idea of propping a pair of Kendo Sticks into the turnbuckle pads. Reigns blocks being thrown into them and throws Wyatt into the top one face-first, then finishes with the Spear at 24:56. Yeah, that long, but had the match been a bit faster paced, it probably would’ve maxed out at 15. ***1/2 Good brawl with both men obviously working hard to make this something to remember, but the confines of the PG Era really limits things, unless you’re a part-timer who gets cart blanche on all ideas regardless the company policy.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
The New Day (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz:
(Kofi Kingston & Big E. vs. Bubba Ray and D-von)
They’re really milking this program for as long as Jey Uso is recovering, aren’t they? When the Dudleys came back, it was a cool bit of nostalgia, but now they’re just another team that is putting on so-so matches. Xavier Woods is absent, selling being put through a table on Raw, so Kofi and Big E are wearing black bands on their arms in his memory, and are carrying around his trombone, which will likely be featured in the finish. What the heck is Unicorn Power? Big E. also promises to play Bubba’s belly like a Caucasian Kamala. Uh-oh, he might film another YouTube video bitching about how evil Vince McMahon is. If you’ve seen these teams once, you’ve seen it enough, as it-s the same old stuff. D-von and Bubba blow a spot in such spectacular fashion that the mostly polite crowd just boos them mercilessly for it. Bubba Ray gets the hot tag and cleans house, and then we get the obvious Trombone spot Eddie Guerrero style, as Kofi tosses it to Bubba and sells being hit by it, but the referee refuses to call for the bell. Chaos continues to erupt, Big E uses the Trombone on Bubba, and Kofi finishes him with Trouble in Paradise at 9:05. **1/4 Are we going to get yet another Network Special where these two teams are matched up? Cause Survivor Series is right around the corner and no new challengers appear to be in sight.
WWE Divas Championship Match:
Charlotte (c) vs. Nikki Bella:
Is it me, or did they just recycle the same video package they used for their match at Night of Champions? Seriously, it feels like deja vu. Everyone from PCB and Team Bella is banned from ringside, which usually means shenanigans, but SPOILERS, nobody interferes. I should note Nikki looks naked doing he ring entrance grind without the belt in hand, but I’m not complaining. I think she’s ditched the obviously fake hair extensions, too. Good match, and no, I won’t compare it to the stuff from the NXT Specials because that’s an unfair comparison based on how this match is treated as maybe 5th from the top. Nikki worked the back of Charlotte most of the way, and at times, looked like a good wrestler. Charlotte made the comeback, including an odd counter where she did a back flip to escape a top rope maneuver, but Nikki ended up landing funny. She applied the Figure-Four, but her back couldn’t hold up on the Figure-Eight, and Nikki scratched and clawed her way out of it, making it to the ropes to force a break. About 30-seconds later, Charlotte ends up applying the Figure-Eight, and Nikki taps at 11:31. **3/4 That seemed a bit out of nowhere, considering the last spot with that hold wasn’t any more than a minute prior and they seemed to be going elsewhere with it. Post-match, Paige hogs the celebration spotlight from Becky Lynch, because we’re in WCW 1999-2000 territories on making zero sense, rewinding plot-lines just to replay them a week later to drag things out.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. DEMON Kane:
Ugh. I love Rollins work, but his title reign has been a complete nightmare from the creative department. I’ll try to explain the elaborate storyline that lead to this match: Rollins doesn’t like Corporate Kane, the Authority’s Director of Operations, and attacked him following a brutal assault from Brock Lesnar. Kane came back, a bit too happy, and then suddenly it became ANOTHER edition of “how to book a Horror Movie on a PG Budget and Insult The Intelligence of Everyone Watching.” For a while, they actually tried to tease that Demon Kane and Corporate Kane were different people, but not even the clown-headed Authority would allow themselves to fall for that. If Demon Kane can’t beat Rollins, then Corporate Kane is relieved of his duties as Director of Operations. It’s honestly hard to tell if Kane is working hard or not. Considering his age, you can’t expect his body type to hold up, but he’s still doing most of his signature stuff. Rollins on the other hand, was trying his best, doing all his high flying spots more suited for a baby-face Champion. Kane with the first near fall via the Chokeslam. They take it to the floor, with Kane undressing the tables, but another Chokeslam attempt is escaped, and Rollins Powerbombs him onto the Spanish table so gently, the thing just kind of tips over doesn’t stop them from doing the teased count-out spot. Rollins with a pair of flying knees and a Frog Splash for two. Kane sits up like nothing happens, then eats a Pedigree for the three count at 14:35, ending Corporate Kane’s tenure as Director of Operations. ** It was like watching his match with Triple H at No Mercy 2002, minus the part where Kane should’ve won. Just an odd “well, that sure ended abruptly” ending. A series of them tonight, I guess.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match:
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Ryback:
I guess this is still a program? Anything is better than the Big Show, I guess, but Ryback isn’t far away from being that low of a peg on the ladder. This match is in the spot the Divas would usually be in, as the crowd is pretty much dead for it. Slugfest to start. They trade a few power moves, but this crowd is just waiting for the big match that’s about to follow it. Ryback tries going for the Shell-Shock, but Owens lands a kick to the chin to escape it. Ryback sells it like he has his eyes raked (looking dumb in the process, because why go with logic when doing a call-back to a match no one really cared for in the first place), and the (Kind of) Pop-Up Powerbomb finishes him at 6:26. I say kind of because there was so little lift on Ryback that it could easily be called the worst powerbomb Owens has performed on WWE TV. Well that was quick. * Why wasn’t this just cut entirely from the card, with most of the other, more important matches, going extra-long and add on the excessive time wasted on constant video packages and “pat ourselves on the back” videos for Breast Cancer Awareness.
Hell in a Cell Match: Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. The Undertaker:
Thankfully Michael Cole doesn’t try to remind us what number Brock Lesnar is in the history of participants (tidbit: his first was against some guy named THE UNDERTAKER), but we’re often reminded how Undertaker was in the very first Hell in a Cell Match. Between the video package and entrances, we’ve already ate up about 10-minutes of broadcast time. The norm for Undertaker, I guess. They slug it out early and take it to the floor, where Lesnar rams himself to the post and is bleeding like, well, Brock Lesnar. The guy bleeds so easily. Brock regains control, pummeling Undertaker with a chair. He tries to take him over with a suplex on the floor, but Taker counters. Back in the ring, Undertaker with the chair to the throat. IS Undertaker bleeding too? I’m willing to believe that Lesnar was an accident (even though my eyes are bad and the replay didn’t explain it), but that is clearly a blade job. Brock with a sequence of suplexes and the F5 for a near fall. The ringside medic tries to clean Undertaker up, but Brock will have none of that and delivers a second F5 for another near fall. Brock tries to pull a Count Bloodcount and crush Undertaker with the ring steps, but Abracadbra, he kicks them back in Brock’s face and slaps on the Hell’s Gate. Brock simply punches his way out instead of the predictable “lift off the canvas and slam.” Brock starts ripping apart the canvas and removes the thin piece of padding, revealing the wooden boards. Undertaker sits up and gets near falls off of a Chokeslam and Tombstone Piledriver. Brock comes back with the retaliation nut-shot of the century, and a third F5, this time on the boards, is enough to keep Undertaker down for three at 18:13. ****1/4 That was a heck of a brawl with some creative spots, and while I’m OK with the finish, I was hoping for something 100% clean, but I guess redemption spots, even if they’re shots to the nuts, are more important.
Post-match, Undertaker gets his send-off via a standing ovation, and it’s a lot better compared to the one at WrestleMania XXX where no one reacted and one voice can easily be heard screaming “You Suck.” Then the lights go out and the Wyatt Family, Bray, Stroman, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan, come out and lay a beating on Undertaker until carrying him off as the camera fades to black. Someone is working Survivor Series, isn’t he?
Final Thoughts: Undertaker and Brock delivered on the expectations set by their performance at SummerSlam, and Reigns and Wyatt worked hard to try and rival the quality of the real Main Event, but everything else was just flat. Cena losing the US Title was a big deal, but the pairing of Del Rio and Zeb Colter makes zero sense. Owens gets a meaningless win over Ryback that was a rematch no one was asking for. Ditto Charlotte over Nikki. Ditto New Day over Dudley Boyz. Then you’ve got Kane challenging for the Title in a match that is clearly designed to put Rollins over and featured zero drama. WWE’s creative department has been in a rut lately, and this show just perfectly describes it. People treading water and going to the well with the same old stuff. Mild Recommendation for the two Cell matches, but the undercard is just a big yawn