Hoo boy. This was uh, definitely a wrestling show, huh?
Big E & Xavier Woods vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev – This match looked for all the world to be a throwback to the worst matches of the 80s – all kicking and punching and rest holds – before picking up just enough to justify itself towards the end there. I like all four guys, and I have the utmost respect for the physical toll wrestling takes on wrestlers, so I fully endorse their right to work as hard on a given match as they wish. However, I also endorse my own right to enjoy the results as much (or as little) as I feel. **
The Miz & Shane McMahon vs. The Usos (c), Smackdown Tag Team Championship – I never explained my methodology for determining star ratings, and while I’m not going to go into a full breakdown here or anything, I am going to take this opportunity to point out that they carry no pretense of objectivity (whatever that could possibly mean in this context). Each and every rating I provide reflects my own weird biases and tastes, and if you have a problem with that, tough shit. That said, Shane McMahon sucks an I’m sick of watching him wrestle regularly. He’s not terrible, but he is taking a spot that should go to someone else. **1/4
Mandy Rose vs. Asuka (c), Smackdown Women’s Championship – Asuka is gonna get stuck on the pre-show at Wrestlemania, isn’t she? She’s champion now, but that still doesn’t mean they know what to do with her, and that’s a colossal bummer. Don’t they realize they have motherfucking Kana on their roster? This match wasn’t much, and it was overbooked, which became almost a running gag over the course of the show. But that kick at the end though… *1/4
Kofi Kingston vs. The Bar, Handicap Match – It saddens me to see creative book two simultaneous but otherwise unconnected story lines around the McMahons screwing over another newly minted top babyface. How are they this out of ideas? There are other ways to get faces over, guys. I think WWE should put a years-long moratorium on any and all “evil authority figure” story lines. They were done to death by 2004, and again, when you’re doing two such story lines in the same PPV cycle, maybe it’s time to start trying harder to come up with something else. Anyway, this was less a match and more of a cut scene. It wasn’t a proper squash match as such, but it didn’t exist to be a satisfying wrestling match on any level. It only existed to move the plot forward. Therefore, I’m not rating it.
Aleister Black & Ricochet vs. Roode and Gable vs. The Revival (c), Raw Tag Team Championship – This match still wasn’t good, exactly, but it was at least fun, and by this point in the show I was more than willing to settle for fun. Cool spots! Flips! Some neat little double team moves here and there! All this and a clean, satisfying finish too boot! But it wasn’t given that much time, and there wasn’t a story that the match was really built around, nor was it enough of a crazy sprint to qualify as a crazy sprint. I am still bothered by the quantum state that Ricochet and Black seem to be in. Have they been called up or not? They’re still on NXT, so the answer appears to be…yes? Huh? As a categorization nerd, this bugs the crap out of me. **3/4
R-Truth vs. Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe (c), U.S. Championship – Finally, an honest-to-Bahamut good match! It had been so long since I had seen a legitimately good wrestling match that I sort of started to believe they didn’t exist. Again, this didn’t take very much time, so it was more of a sprint and all four guys are good enough that they could have doubled the length of the match and it would’ve brought the house down. But this was plenty good despite this, and one of the few instances on the show where the wrestling match was allowed to be just a wrestling match. It was refreshing as all heck. ***
Nia Jax & Tamina vs. Sasha Banks & Bayley (c), Women’s Tag Team Championship – This has been a pet peeve of mine for at least a decade, so I don’t expect this to improve ever, but will someone please tell WWE that not all tag teams need to have a name? Like for real, “Boss & Hug Connection”!? What in the actual fuck is that? It’s doesn’t rhyme, it’s not catchy, and it doesn’t even flow off the tongue. Just what the fuck is assigning such a nomenclature meant to accomplish, and what the fuck was so offensive about just calling them “Sasha Banks & Bayley” that it needed to be scrubbed from marketing materials? Seriously, I’m asking. Anyway, Sasha and Bayley are great but they aren’t miracle workers. Additional demerits for featuring the second post-match angle to set up another Mania match nobody asked for. *
Kevin Owens vs. Mustafa Ali vs. Daniel Bryan (c), Smackdown Men’s Championship – Holy shit, what a dipshit swerve that was, huh? Poor Mustafa Ali – getting a huge return pop is a layup under normal circumstances, but the crowd wanted Kofi (because of course they did) so his return was greeted with crickets, as was the match. Which is a damn shame, because it was pretty good! I mean, look at the participants again. This match, at least from a workrate perspective, had a certain floor. Are we sure they didn’t hire Vince Russo back? This had his fingerprints all over it. ***1/2
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair – This was another cut scene, really, so while I’m not gonna rate it, I am gonna rant about it. Here’s what I don’t get about this feud. The participants are the single most famous person on the roster, the most organically over babyface star in years, and actual female Ric Flair. In story, all three HATE each other. How is that not enough!?!?!?!?!? Having your three biggest stars all together in a feud where each pairing has beef and plenty of back story to build off of is literally the ideal set up for any three way feud, including, especially even, any three way feud meant to be blown off at Wrestlemania. But that apparently isn’t good enough for WWE anymore. They gotta add in some evil authority story elements as well, I guess because they’re so brain dead they figure Becky Lynch’s arc won’t scan as megastar-making otherwise. Remember when Wrestlemania was the biggest show of the year not out of sheer repetitive insistence, or because of the size of the venue it’s held in, but because it blew off the entire previous year’s worth of feuds? Me neither.
The Shield vs. Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, & Drew McIntyre – After three hours of needless overbooking made me question why I even bother with wrestling at all in the first place, this match picked me back up. It wasn’t great, but it was pretty good, and more importantly, there were no swerves and it wasn’t overbooked. It was allowed to exist as just a good wrestling match, albeit the Sam’s Choice version of the matches the Shield was having in their glory days. They did all the big Shield spots, albeit inorganically. But it was well-worked enough and plenty satisfying, and by this point, that was enough. ***1/2
In case I hadn’t made this clear already, this show sucked. It was a dispiriting waste of time, and even the good matches weren’t good enough to be worth tracking down after the fact. May the ravages of time bury this show along the muddy banks of the Cuyahoga, never to be seen again.