Dual Brand Battle Royal
How good a battle royal is, regardless of company comes down to a couple of things – how good the finish is and how much of the match they put any effort into laying out other than the finish. They did a good job on both here in that there were a few cool spots throughout and what was the presumed closing sequence between Dominick Mysterio and Chad Gable was excellent. I can do without another faux finish like we got here with the Miz not actually being eliminated and sneaking back in to pull it out; it’s been overdone over the last few years and we can really wait a while to do it again. All in all I’d give the match a B. Perfectly good match for a pre-show.
Men’s Elimination Match
If I had to rank the matches from best to worst this would probably be at the bottom. Seth Rollins getting on the ring and immediately taking a dive is going to lead to something but on this show it was also a way to get the match over with faster. There were some cool spots and sequences otherwise but it’s hard to call a clean sweep anything other than ok at best. The only other things that mattered here were setting up Jey Uso’s chewing out by Roman Reigns afterwards and whatever feuds spin off out of the Raw team’s internal bickering. Otis and Jey put up good showings in defeat but the rest was mostly forgettable.
New Day vs The Street Profits
This along with the main event were easily the two most anticipated matches of the night. This one had all the symbolism as arguably the best tag team of the last five years faced off against the team that looks to be moving into that spot in WWE. This was the biggest match of the Profits entire careers, even including the matches where they won titles, and it delivered. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods worked slightly heel-ish here, reminding us all how good they were at it before, while Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford broke out some new moves for the occasion.
The Profits winning was a clear passing of the torch moment. New Day isn’t done by far but it doesn’t take a genius to see that they’re on the career clock after one of the best five year runs in wrestling history. And nine months into their first tag team title reign the Profits look to be unstoppable for the near future. Great match and great moments for all involved.
Bobby Lashley vs Sami Zayn
The least anticipated match of the night in the rightful place on the card in a cool down spot. Zayn made things interesting with some clever heel antics and Bobby looked dominant as usual in victory. Not a bad match but nothing you just had to see. Sami remains gold in his cowardly heel role.
Sasha Banks vs Asuka
For who was involved this match got the least amount of hype other than the previous match. Under different circumstances it would have gotten more but since they already faced each other this year and there were some important storylines going on elsewhere it is what it is. But in this case no hype, no problem. These two can have a good match together any time and this was no different. Sasha winning adds to what has been her most successful (in terms of big wins and losses) year since joining WWE.
Women’s Elimination Match
There were two things at play in this one. First was the rumor mill that someone on the Raw team was going to be replaced by Charlotte or Rhea Ripley – now mind you this was made up entirely out of whole cloth and fantasy booking, and I will stick out my chest and say I didn’t believe any of it, but it was out there. The other piece was just how things were going to unfold between Lana, Nia Jax, and Shayna Baszler after nine weeks of them putting Lana through a table on Monday night. Possibilities ranged anywhere from Lana causing one or both to be eliminated to her being the sole survivor through all kinds of chicanery.
So we got the latter here, but not before Bianca Belair got to put on a show for the second time this year at a major pay per view (the first time being the Royal Rumble). While a lot of people I regularly talk to weren’t happy she didn’t win, they did protect her in that she got counted out when she was eliminated and not pinned or submitted. Likewise Shayna and Nia were disqualified and counted out, respectively. I’m fine with the ending; every match doesn’t need to be about crowning the next champion and it’s necessary to showcase people who aren’t in any particular title picture because quite frankly you need matches and feuds that have nothing to do with titles in order to have a properly balanced show and make use of everyone on your roster.
Roman Reigns vs Drew McIntyre
The words from Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns from the Friday before were the perfect setup for this match. Drew McIntyre was a titleholder but not a champion. The meaning behind that was simple – Drew is good enough to perform well in and win big matches, but he’s not a guy that has that extra something that would have you choose to place him above everyone else in your wrestling company. There’s a difference between thinking ‘Drew is in this match so it should be really good’ and thinking ‘I want to see Drew McIntyre’.
Drew’s matches since winning the World Title at WrestleMania have all been anywhere from very good to great, but this is only the second one that closed a pay per view and the first was against an icon in Randy Orton. Roman on the other hand main evented against one half of a tag team in his cousin Jey Uso and by the time that match was set to happen the anticipation was off the charts. (No shade to Jey, he more than rose to the occasion there). So in essence this was a challenge to Drew to raise his level that one more notch. And I’d say he did that.
Roman’s biggest matches feel and look like fights, more than anyone else out there right now. They feel violent and all the different moves and spots are done with purpose and not just to show that he and his opponent can do a bunch of stuff. His best matches are the ones where his opponent is able to match that sense of purpose and intensity, and together they make a perfect marriage of showing what they can do with trying to win a fight against each other.
Did this live up to those? Absolutely yes it did. Unlike their matches last year where Roman was working his way back into shape we got both guys at their peak here and were a perfect match for each other, even down to their appearance. Yes, that matters. Two big guys who look like total asskickers who could go fight Thanos right now hits differently in a big match like this. King Kong vs Godzilla will always feel, and ultimately sell, better than any other fight out there, and it’s something that we don’t get in 2020 as much as we used to. Particularly when King Kong and Godzilla can both work, too.
The elephant in the room was how to end this match in a way that protected the loser and wasn’t a total cluster either. What happened was perfect – a ref bump, a little interference from Jey Uso, and a recovery from a downed Reigns to take advantage. No attempted Miz cash in, no bizarre party crashing by the Fiend, nothing crazy. Enough to get it across the finish line and plant some seeds for the next chapter. A match of the year candidate for sure.
Great show. Two match of the year candidates in the main event and the tag match, another really good one between Sasha and Asuka, and nothing that I would call bad the rest of the way. It’s been a crazy year for all of us so hats off to everyone involved for pulling this off in the ninth month of a pandemic and all that brings with it.
And on a final note major kudos for playing everything as straight as possible. With so many rumors floating around about possible run ins and shenanigans from the matches on the card to the tribute to the Undertaker afterwards, they kept things to a minimum and didn’t overburden the show with wackiness that could have rendered it unrewatchable. Instead they trusted the process and gave us another great outing.