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If there is one consistent storyline that can best sum up this PPV it is WWE doing its best Doc Brown impersonation and attempting to go back in time. With the exception of the first couple matches, WWE seemed to work backwards, reviving storylines that we already saw over the summer, with Cena getting the US Championship back and with Kane making his return to continue his mediocre feud with Seth Rollins. In addition we were treated to one of the worst WWE PPV main events in recent memory.
Sting vs Seth Rollins: **
It's hard to figure out what went wrong in this match, whether it was if the Spanish Announce Table spot was a botch, or something more subtle happened but Sting wasn't 100% for most of this match and it showed. Rollins wasn't quite sure what to do a certain spots in this match and the result was one of the worst matches of his career since he came to WWE.
The post-match segment was pretty bad. Kane coming back and laying out Rollins is just such a step backwards for Rollins as champion. As likeable as Kane has been throughout his career, his shelf life is pretty much up and we have already seen him feud with Rollins this year. Remember on Friday when I mentioned how WWE could have chosen a new face to feud with Rollins instead of going with Sting? Well they seem to have done that again, this time with Kane. What is more marketable for Hell in a Cell, Rollins vs Kane or Rollins vs someone like Cesaro, or Ziggler? Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker is going to sell that event anyways so why not take a chance? Once again WWE shows that they have zero faith in the talent and ability of their roster beyond a handful of guys at the top.
John Cena vs Seth Rollins: ***3/4
Pretty disappointing match between Rollins and Cena. They went through the normal Cena progressions where the match goes about five minutes and then everyone starts spamming their high-impact moves and we get a bunch of near-falls. Out of all these matches that Cena has had, most of them occurring on Raw with his US Championship Open Challenges, this was probably the worst one, which is a testament to how good those matches have been.
Rollins losing after just one Attitude Adjustment was a weak finish to me. Nobody gets beat by one AA, in all of the open challenges I think Cena only beat Zack Ryder and maybe Neville were defeated after one AA, every other guy was allowed to kick out of one. In addition, Rollins would go on to beat Sting (although who knows if that was the scripted finish) so you have the United States Champion beating the WWE World Heavyweight Champion cleanly, and then the world champ goes on to successfully defend his title AFTER he already been beaten by the US Champion. WWE likes to say that Rollins is the future, but even as the world champ, even with a win over Sting, he is still playing second fiddle to John Cena, and it is being made very clear who the "real" champion is in WWE.
Cena recapturing the United States Championship is a redundant move for a character whose career is the very definition of redundancy. We already saw Cena as the United States Champion and while he had good matches and did increase the prestige of the title, we really don't need to see it again so soon. If the plan was to have Cena win back the title tonight after getting screwed out of the title due to Jon Stewart, only for that angle to go nowhere, then what was the point of Cena even losing the title in the first place? So Sting can destroy a statue? All it did was make Rollins look like a loser on what should have been a great night for him.
The match went down as expected, a wild brawl with Dean Ambrose and Reigns doing their increasingly stale spots and The Wyatt Family matching them step for step. The introduction of Jericho to the mix is an interesting one. Jericho already had a feud with Wyatt and it didn't do a whole lot for either side, so a repeat of that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. That being said, Reigns and Ambrose being upset with Jericho's penchant for trying to steal the spotlight and eventually costing them the match was a curveball and a good one. Maybe the feud doesn't have to be just Wyatts vs Shield 2.0, but instead be a new look for both Jericho and Roman Reigns. I think Jericho has been good in all his recent runs, but his character needs some work and feuding with Reigns and Ambrose as the likely heel seems like the refreshing change necessary for him to continue to have an impact when he is working with the company.
As for Reigns and to a lesser extent, Ambrose, their characters have become stale and I think having them feud directly with someone that most fans are going to like regardless of what role they are playing in a storyline could force them to adapt to a new character. Ambrose and Reigns still have a ton of potential, and WWE clearly still feels that way, but is time for them to show a different side of themselves; they'll have to if they want to reach that potential.
Charlotte vs Nikki Bella: **1/4
I said before that this was kind of a make or break moment for the Diva's Revolution. If the match was good and the crowd loved it, it would help establish the Diva's as a legit wrestling enterprise in the company. If it bombed, then The Revolution might be dead. The end result was something in-between. The match was not that good, Nikki worked the knee for what felt like forever, and then Charlotte quickly put Nikki in the Figure Eight and got the victory. In a way it wasn't that much different than any other Diva's match, just stretched out over a longer time period, with the heel dominating and the face winning out of nowhere. It wasn't a disaster and WWE still has some room to operate, but if this was the payoff, Nikki finally being dethroned by an NXT call-up, does it feel like a success right now? It's hard to say, only time will tell.
The New Day vs The Dudley Boyz: **1/4
Overall the match wasn't very good, a quiet back and forth match with a DQ finish that you could see coming from a mile away. Of course, that doesn't really matter since the feud between The Dudley's and The New Day is going to be great. The New Day have rapidly become the most consistent thing in WWE programing, and getting a tag team that can really stand toe-to-toe with them in The Dudley Boyz is a smart move by WWE. It was curious that WWE brought Bubba Ray back for the Royal Rumble and then never did anything with them, but it turns out it was the right move. They sat on The Dudley Boyz and waited for the right time to bring them back, and that time came when The New Day arrived. Well done by all the parties involved.
Rusev vs Dolph Ziggler: ***
Probably their best match together, Rusev has great, realistic offense and Ziggler is such a good seller, it's an excellent combination to work with. For a feud that is treading water, waiting for Lana to get back healthy, they came up with a pretty decent finish, with Summer Rae costing Rusev the match and giving Ziggler a victory. Rusev is very much an old-school character and it really works, with a lot of guys it wouldn't work but Rusev is a special enough performer that it comes off so well to the audience.
Kevin Owens vs Ryback: **3/4
I had a strong feeling that this was going to be a punishment match for Owens, because since his original victory over Cena, Owens has slid down the card and I guessed that this was going to be a continuation of that slide. Thankfully, WWE decided to at least keep Owens in the mix by giving him the Intercontinental Championship. I think their next step should be for Owens to take a page out of Cena's book and have him defend the title frequently, maybe not every week and maybe not in the open challenge format, but allow him to go out there and have really good matches, perhaps winning each match in heel fashion like the way he won tonight? If Owens kind of establishes himself as an ace wrestler having really good matches, but always cheating to win, I think he will connect better with the casual audience that might not be that familiar with the legend of Kevin Steen like hardcore fans are.