9/17/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns def. Seth Rollins and Sheamus
Rollins opened the show predicting a great success against Sting and John Cena at Night of Champions and announcing that he would team with Sheamus against his former teammates. Sheamus joined him in the ring and warned that he does not want to make an enemy out of the Money in the Bank holder. Rollins said that he likes to keep his friends close and his enemies closer, and continued to say that the fans are right that Sheamus looks stupid. It built some animosity between the teammates that carried over into their partnership in the main event.
Ambrose did much of the work for his team early and took a thorough beating from both heels once they got on the same page. Rollins and Ambrose have worked together so much that they can work together in their sleep, and this match was another strong example. When Sheamus lifted Ambrose for a powerbomb, he countered with a hurricarana to send Sheamus to the floor. Sheamus, briefly disoriented, recovered, but Ambrose reached Reigns for the hot tag.
Reigns had an answer for everything Rollins tried and laid him out with a deadlift powerbomb. Rollins rolled to the outside when Reigns set up for a Superman Punch and managed a chop block and superkick. He tried to reach his corner and Sheamus refused to tag in his adversary. Rollins stole Sheamus’s briefcase and tagged Sheamus into the match. The distracted Sheamus ate a suicide dive from Ambrose, a Superman Punch, and Dirty Deeds to end the match. Smackdown didn’t need to sell the rivalries between Rollins and Cena or Sting. Creating some suspense regarding Money in the Bank was a clever alternative. The anticipation for the Shield mystery partner is another fun reason to look forward to Night of Champions.
Team BAD def. Team PCB
Becky Lynch and Paige face Sasha Banks and Naomi in a classic face/heel tag team match. Becky went after Sasha’s arm to start, but Sasha quickly turned the tide with kicks. The heels isolated Becky and hit her with a nice double kick to the midsection. Becky finally hit the hot tag and Paige entered with knees and kicks of her home. She tried to psyche herself up, but Naomi rolled her up into a small package for the surprise win. Paige’s frustration built after the match while the heels celebrated.
So much of the success of the Divas Division in NXT is adherence to simple, time-tested principles. The wrestlers use traditional behaviors and match styles and the fans react positively. This match went babyface fire, heel heat while face sells, a face hope spot, more heel heat, a firey babyface comeback, and the go home. While the moves and promotion have changed, the match style could have happened in Mid-South Wrestling, WCCW, or Jim Crockett Promotions.
Kevin Owens def. Ryback by DQ
Ziggler and Owens felt like an odd pair for the go-home Smackdown because both appeared to need to build momentum for tough matchups at the PPV. Owens mocked Ziggler by stomping his wrist to evoke Lana’s recent injury. Owens got a near fall off of a vicious DDT and controlled the match until he missed Ziggler and dove into the ring post. Ziggler took advantage with a perfect Famouser for a two count and a nice DDT of his own.
Ziggler followed Owens outside and suffered a rough fall-away slam into the barricade. Owens rammed Ziggler into the ring post and hurled him into the timekeeper’s area. Ziggler barely beat the count and Owens hit his weakened opponent with a superkick. He set up for a powerbomb onto the apron and Ryback hit the ring to make the save. The matchup felt awkward and the result did as well. Neither Owens nor Ziggler came out looking particularly strong.
Kofi Kingston def. Devon Dudley
Unsurprisingly, New Day’s pre-match promo was more memorable than the short match. They continued to defend tables, saying that they are terrible things to waste. They asserted that breaking tables shows a lack of respect to Mother Nature and urged the Dudleys to sign a petition to Save the Tables. Devon immediately smashed the petition’s clipboard. He went after Xavier Woods on the apron, which allowed Kingston to roll him up with a schoolboy to get the win. New Day left with the table. They continue to get far more out of the silly table gimmick than anyone else could. Their humor and entertainment value as heels continues to remind me of prime New Age Outlaws.
Nikki’s Bella-bration Flops
When the Bellas settle squarely on a heel persona, they can do some really good work. Brie and Alicia Fox helped Nikki plan the celebration of her longest Divas Title reign, including 298 bottles of fine French champagne. Nikki was so caught up in her own success that she didn’t hear Brie and Alicia explain that nobody showed up to the party. Instead, team PCB walked into the empty room and warned Nikki that she better get used to loneliness after she loses her title to Charlotte. Even Adam Rose made an appearance to make fun of Nikki’s pathetic party. She threw her cake in the air out of frustration and hit her two teammates.
Big Show def. Cesaro
Cesaro immediately flipped the script on the big man when he countered Big Show’s open-hand slaps with an arm-breaker in the ropes. He continued to target Big Show’s right arm. Rich Brennan aptly pointed out the history of the only two winners of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Big Show also picked a body part and twisted Cesaro’s left knee into a pretzel. Cesaro responded with a cross-body and a diving uppercut and got a near fall each time. Cearo blocked two chokeslams, but couldn’t capitalize and Big Show hit a big judo throw. Cesaro tweaked his knee and Big Show finished him with a KO Punch. While I’m sure many viewers will wonder why the veteran didn’t lose to make the upcoming babyface look strong, but I suspect we’ll get to that point in the long-run. Cesaro and Big Show are not on the Night of Champions card, so they have time to continue this angle before it pays off.
-Stardust and The Ascension gave a rhyming promo to warn Neville and the Lucha Dragons. It was creative and one of the best promos from Stardust or Cody Rhodes that I can remember.
-Summer Rae thanked Dolph Ziggler backstage for giving her a pair of earrings on Raw. Ziggler said that sometimes a rose is just a rose, but sometimes it means more. It seems obvious that Ziggler is turning Summer against Rusev. Unfortunately, the story has not been interesting enough for the turn to mean much.