While WWE's recent TV offerings are often under fire for being too formulaic, stale and bland, some of their Pay Per View outings from this year have exceeded expectations and have boasted some really good matches. Not every card can be jam packed with amazing action and this one is a mixed bag in terms of the quality on offer.
Kevin Owens vs Ryback starts the disc in a match for the Intercontinental Championship. The match is slow and contains far too many rest holds, but the storytelling and psychology from Owens saves it from being a total snoozefest. The pace builds towards the end, which certainly helps, but the sudden ending (while it fulfills the purpose of giving Owens a traditionally heelish means of victory) ultimately lacks impact.
Dolph Ziggler and Rusev's cheesy and unneccesarily convoluted storyline in which they are competing for the affections of Lana and Summer Rae is recapped before we get to their bout. Plenty of eye-rolling moments from WWE TV are on offer here, but the two work hard to overcome this in the action which follows. They start out with a noticably faster pace than the previous bout and maintain this throughout, but it's just not captivating and falls short of what you may expect given the obvious talent possessed by both performers. I can't help but feel that these two would be able to do something more special if they were given something that they could sink their teeth into.
In both of the opening matches every move and exchange was performed well, but the substance is somewhat lost to poor presentation in both cases. No clear, decisive victories and characters being reduced to one dimensional caricatures make these passable but entirely forgettable encounters. Barring the title change in the opener, these are not going to be the reasons you will want to rewatch this in years to come.
This is followed by a highly entertaining confrontation between the Dudley Boys and New Day, blending nostalgia with energetic action and a helping of hilarity on the side. While the conclusion is somewhat lacking (again), the overall package on offer here is actually substantial and gratifying to watch, but a disqualification ending in a Dudley Boys match is always going to leave a slightly bitter aftertaste. This is then followed by the Divas Championship match between Nikki Bella and Charlotte, which gives us the first taste of genuine emotion on the disc. A strongly performed and dramatic battle concludes with a pleasing ending and gets the best reaction so far from the live audience. One of the best women's matches produced on WWE's main roster in recent memory, which will also mark the first reign for a potential future legend makes this the first major reason to own this DVD.
The Wyatt Family squaring off with Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and everyone's favourite regular surprise, Chris Jericho (The Shield Lite) is a good back and forth battle with a bit of something for everyone. It's probably wise (although a little disappointing) that they edited out the incident with the fan jumping into the ring before Jericho's entrance and being taken down by security. Braun Strowman of the Wyatt Family makes a good showing of himself as the old-school style strong big man, Reigns does his usual John-Cena-hybrid-with-Bill-Goldberg act and Harper continues his uncanny Bruiser Brody impersonation to great effect. The bout is the kind of orchestrated chaos that you would expect, with everyone hitting their signature maneuvers in between some brawling and explosive exchanges, peppered with the occasional aerials from Jericho and Ambrose. Jericho puts over newcomer Strowman in a really strong way and the right team come out with the victory, whatever arguments might be made to the contrary.
Seth Rollins defends two championships on the show, first putting up the US Title gainst John Cena before going on immediately to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship defense against Sting. The first is a war with Cena, which is genuinely dramatic and exciting and really enjoyable. If someone had told me a year ago that I would write that sentence about a John Cena match I would have laughed at them, but the truth is that the guy has really stepped up his game this year with his US title involvement and pair that with an incredible worker like Rollins and you have automatic gold on your hands. The battle with Sting which follows it elicits some warranted 'You Still Got It' chants for The Icon, who puts on a really good performance. Despite a serious neck injury from a powerbomb into the turnbuckle from Rollins, the WCW legend was able to finish the match and this is a match that both can be proud of. Much more of an actual wrestling match than his WrestleMania debut against Triple H, this is a much better representation of Sting as a performer and is definitely essential for any Sting fans and collectors out there. What stands out in both matches is that Seth is just an incredibly gifted performer who can adapt to any opponent and is absolutely deserving of his place at the top of the card.
The extras for the disc are a post match interview with the Dudley Boys the six man tag match from the PPV kickoff show, pitting The Ascension and Stardust against Neville and the Lucha Dragons. The promo is well delivered but fails to really add any value to the match itself. The six man tag match meanwhile is enjoyable and showcases the high flying talents of the babyface team very well, while the heels definitely play more of a supporting role for the most part. The spot where the Lucha Dragons hit stereo somersault planchas at the same time as Neville hits an Asai moonsault is especially good and an obvious crowd-pleaser. As far as kickoff show matches go, this is a pretty good one and a welcome addition to the disc as it adds a type of match which would have been otherwise lacking. While there are obviously aerial moves and exchanges in other bouts, there was no cruiserweight stylings on offer from the main card, so this helped to flesh out the action. The decisive, clean pinfall victory finish helps too.
When you get this many inconclusive finishes and non-committed booking decisions on a card, it ultimately feels like a transitional show rather than a must-see or must-own title. There are certainly redeeming features and generally high quality action, but there is some definite filler in there too. The women's and Wyatt Family matches are two of the reasons that this ends up being a good all-round card, but without everything else being hung on Seth Rollins' shoulders (with the added incentive that this is one of only three Sting matches in WWE so far - because there was also that forgettable tag match on Raw the week before Night Of Champions), the show is largely no better than a decent episode of Raw. Two distinct, high profile and well executed matches with two of the industry's biggest stars make this a must-own for any Rollins fan and may even convert the minority who aren't already. If you're going to buy this for the main events you will enjoy the show overall, but there will undoubtedly be some chapters that will be skipped over more than others. Maybe not a 'rush out to buy it now' purchase, but one which should go on the wish-list for the good stuff on offer.
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