When this match was announced, my first thought was pretty simple. “Okay, cool. But what is Robert Roode doing in this thing?”
...That’s a fair critique, right Cageside? All of the other guys in this thing are booked better than Roode. Hell, Roode was left off television for the longest time before his partnership with Dolph Ziggler suddenly formed.
And as this match progressed to the final two contestants, I had a second thought – how on earth did Roode make it to the final two?!
Ricochet was the first to fall, which makes sense in retrospect. In a match with two good guys and an outcome with one of them winning, it makes sense to get the other out early so you don’t split the crowd. Ricochet was a victim of circumstance with that blindside Kinshasa, so that helps his cause as well.
We had a lengthy stint where the three heels – Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, and the aforementioned Robert Roode – took turns being in control of the match. Mysterio fought through and persisted until two eliminations happened in quick succession. Styles took Nakamura out with a Phenomenal Forearm, and Roode eliminated Styles with a Glorious DDT.
And suddenly, it made sense. We needed a heel who isn’t being heavily promoted to take the clean loss for Mysterio. And Roode delivered wonderfully.
I really liked the Glorious DDT counter to finish the match. Mysterio kicked out his legs before tucking them for momentum and slinging Roode into the second rope. And from there, it was all she wrote.
I’ve got a soft spot for Mysterio’s storyline here, too. Dominic’s parts haven’t been the greatest, but Mysterio sells it with the emotion in his voice. And to see him have a shot for the top title in 2019 is really cool.
WWE promoted this “season premiere” pretty heavily all night; let’s see if Mysterio, Rollins, and the WWE can deliver an angle that’s worth the hype.
All black everything
What’s a king to do when a usurper destroys his royal garments? Commission them in black, of course.
Baron...ahem, King Corbin fought Chad Gable in a rematch of the King of the Ring finals on this show, and he initially confirmed all the fears I had when he won. He gloated and put on the arrogance he’s always had, crown or no. I was ready to emotionally tune out of this thing, but I’ll be damned if Corbin and Gable didn’t tear it up. Again.
They’re a match made in heaven, man. Gable has needed someone to rally against for his entire time on the main roster, and Corbin’s the perfect guy for it. He’s someone who can reliably get a heel reaction, and has enough clout to put over newer faces. He’s also just so easy to hate, isn’t he?
Gable made a fantastic comeback. He neatly flipped out of an End of Days and tumbled until he was able to slap an Ankle Lock on Corbin. And when the going got tough, Corbin did what he always does: he cheated. He smacked Gable with his matte black scepter, followed up with several more for good measure...and then he got back to the gloating that made me roll my eyes.
As long as Corbin’s being used like this, I think I can stomach it. If he’s putting over the newer, talented faces who need their first quality feud, I’m cool with it.
Wyatt assaults Strowman
When Wyatt was hanging a new picture frame in his Firefly Fun House, I was fairly certain that he’d be attacking Strowman. But there’s a difference between thinking something and seeing Wyatt effortlessly take down someone who’s often portrayed on WWE television as invincible.
Seth Rollins and Strowman got into it to start the show, but even that confrontation was framed within the scope of Wyatt’s terror. Rollins admitted that he’s seen a lot in his career, but never what Wyatt’s been doing to him. The fact that he was more fearful of Wyatt than big ol’ Strowman is telling, too.
Wyatt’s Firefly Fun House segment felt a bit weird to me at times, but the message of the thing was yet again engaging and horrifying. Wyatt was lecturing Ramblin’ Rabbit and Huskus that it’s important not to get too attached to things; caring too much can lead to disappointment and loneliness.
Guess who cares too much about the Universal Championship? Rollins. Guess who’s set up for disappointment and loneliness? Rollins.
Rollins and Strowman fought in the main event, but it was essentially just setting up for Wyatt’s intervention. Rollins was yet again cowering in the corner, unable to move a muscle as Wyatt held Strowman down with the Mandible Claw until the Monster was unable to move.
It’s just wild to me how well Wyatt’s presence fits in this top title feud. Everyone’s gunning for the Universal Championship right now. Strowman made a big play at it, we just had a Fatal Five-way to determine a new contender...and yet Wyatt never even mentions the title. And it works.
Nikki Cross def. Sasha Banks via DQ – I considered putting this one in the featured section, but I’m struggling to find the words to describe it. WWE gave these two tons of time, but the match felt like it was relevant more so for Bayley directly interfering to cheat than anything else.
Cross had Banks down (presumably) for the count when Bayley jumped up on the apron to keep the referee from counting a pin. Explain that in your “I’m still a role model” logic, Bayley.
The Viking Raiders def. The OC – Amazing how much more fun the Viking Raiders and their schtick is when they’re beating up folks who matter, isn’t it? I still find some of their stuff a bit cheesy, but they are solid as hell in the ring.
Becky Lynch’s sit-down interview - I liked this. She and Cole both seem really well suited for this sort of environment. Cole brought up that “you’ve never been in this sort of match before” argument trope and Lynch shot it down brilliantly.
She’s also not too concerned with Bayley being around the cell, which fits her character. She’ll take on anyone, just as long as she gets to fight the one she wants.
Rusev def. EC3 – This was basically just a “hey here’s what Rusev does in case you forgot” sort of match.
Lacey Evans def. Ember Moon – This one hurts my heart.
Moon’s Stunner in this one was ingenious. She slid her upper body out of the ring, grasped the back of Evans’s neck, and kicked off with her feet to transition into a Stunner on the floor. Brilliant.
...and then she lost. I get that Evans and Natalya are feuding. It’s just...my heart. It hurts.
Carmella betrays R-Truth, wins 24/7 Championship – It’s about damn time, honestly. Don’t worry – they’re still buds. But how on earth did it take her so long to get a title reign?
The AoP is possibly even more terrifying than Bray Wyatt – If Wyatt’s a slasher horror villain, the AoP are the Mafia coming after you to break your kneecaps for sport. Their logic is hilarious, too:
“No one will fight us.”
Goes out into the hall to beat people up without provocation.
“See? No one will fight us.”
I enjoyed the most important segments of the show, but the lower card stuff dragged.