Tonight’s WWE Live From MSG event in New York City serves as the kick off for Brock Lesnar’s Go to Hell tour. Tonight he’ll face Big Show in tonight’s marquee match and the semi-main event.
Dolph Ziggler & Randy Orton vs. Sheamus & Rusev
Aaron Bentley: It was immediately clear that this production would have none of the charms of the Network-exclusive house show from Japan. The lighting, camera work, and commentary were slightly toned down versions of what we get on RAW. The match itself was way more fun than I expected. It was a normal tag match with Dolph taking the heat and the crowd dying for a hot tag to Randy Orton. What brought the match to another level was the MSG audience apparently being enamored with The Viper. He was the most over guy in the match and the fans awarded the hot tag with an enormous pop. Sheamus tried to mount a comeback but a Ziggler superkick and an RKO was enough to for Dolph and Randy to get the win. ***
Alex Wendland: Randy Orton was the last of the four to enter MSG and, by far, had the loudest pop. Is Orton that over right now? Is there something about MSG and him? Or maybe this is still a house show crowd. No matter the reason, it was a big pop.
This was a little plodding for an opener, but the crowd exploded the second Orton was tagged in for the closing stretch. All four of these guys (yes, even Sheamus) are better than their respective feuds at the moment and they’re all a little stale against each other. This was a quick match, though, and did it’s job well enough.
Rusev berated Sheamus, who took the fall, after the match and said he was as useless as Lana. Sheamus delivered a Brogue Kick in retaliation. ***
Winners: Dolph Ziggler & Randy Orton
Stardust vs. Neville
Bentley: I am trying to take this show for what it is, a house show, but by any standard there just wasn’t anything interesting about this match. It would make sense to use Neville’s extraordinary aerial moveset to get this crowd going. Instead, outside of a nice springboard moonsault and the Red Arrow that finished the match, it was a back and forth affair with nothing to get excited about. **
Wendland: Two technically exceptional professional wrestlers in the same damn match they’ve been having for two months now. The only thing close to original here was Stardust frolicking around the ring in Neville’s cape, which led to his downfall.
Everything was fine and nothing was interesting. Neville wins with the Red Arrow. **3/4
Let’s take a minute here to let those planning to watch on WWE Network after reading this review to make sure you know there’s a Paul Heyman promo backstage, after the match. Nothing earth shattering, but it is still Heyman, so it was riveting television.
Team Bella vs. PCB
Bentley: Oh, those jealous women! They’re always fighting with each other! Of course, this match consisted of Team Bella being able to work together while Paige, Charlotte, and Becky met their downfall by virtue of their inability to coexist. Unfortunately, even with that simple, cliched story, the internal psychology of the match was nonsense. Paige pissed off Charlotte and Becky so they refused to tag in when she needed help. They’re the good guys in the story! Anyway, the actual wrestling wasn’t very good either. Brie looked lost as usual and none of the stronger workers were given enough control to make the match work. The crowd chanted “We Want Sasha,” and that certainly would have improved this experience. **
Wendland: Why is PCB still teaming together? They know they don’t get along. They know they don’t like each other. There’s no reason why Charlotte and Becky Lynch would agree to continue teaming with Paige or vice versa. Except, of course, that the only storytelling available in the main roster women’s division is lazy storytelling.
Of course, the only reason for Charlotte and Lynch to continue teaming with Paige would be to (betray their own characters, and) give Paige a taste of her own medicine. Got to love it when the faces walk out on their partners. Makes perfect sense. Delusion and jealousy win the day, as always in the main roster’s women’s division, as Paige says she would never betray her teammates in the way they did to her – despite having done just that on Monday. Hopefully this is the full dissolving of PCB and all three exceptionally talented women can shine. **1/4
Winners: Team Bella
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Kevin Owens © vs. Chris Jericho
Bentley: There was a moment before the match where my feed paused and I quietly hoped it would just go out. It did not and luckily Owens and Jericho had a fun match that got me back into this show. This wasn’t on the level of Jericho’s bout with Neville in Tokyo but it was still very good. The layout of the match did its best to convince us there was any possibility at all that Chris Jericho could win but they never really went far enough to make anyone bite on a near fall. Just as the contest was heating up, it ended with Kevin Owens winning as a result of a pretty lame eye poke/roll up combo. The finish certainly lessened my overall enjoyment but since this was aired, I suppose it made sense to protect Jericho for his Ambrose program. ***1/4
Wendland: Tonight is Chris Jericho’s 25th anniversary in professional wrestling. Congratulations to Jericho on the longevity and high performance level over the past two-and-a-half decades. Jericho delivered a very good, heartfelt promo before the match and gave thanks to a number of friends at ringside including Lance Storm (sitting next to Jon Stewart) and Cyrus and tied in the anniversary to his match tonight which, if he won, would give him tenth Intercontinental Championship.
Jericho has reportedly been putting on great performances at house shows for awhile now, the only knock on him being that he wasn’t putting talent over. Not like that matters much at house shows, but still. Both guys looked great here in a very entertaining match. Jericho controlled the pace and aggression of the match and Owens played defense through almost the whole thing. Since this is WWE and Kevin Owens is a heel, he won with an eye poke and a roll up, but beyond that it was a really fun match. ***½
Winner: Kevin Owens
WWE Tag Team Championship
The New Day © vs. The Dudley Boyz
Bentley: This wasn’t the best match on this show but from the second The New Day stepped through the curtain until this segment was over, there is no way I could have enjoyed myself more. It’s become routine now for Big E, Kofi, and Xavier Woods to cut a fantastic, hilarious promo but they did that again here. Big E and Woods’ chorus of “Shame!” had me howling with laughter. And they continued to find a way to entertain from bell-to-bell. The Dudleys have been fine in the ring on this WWE run and they were again in this match. Big E and Kofi did most of the work, bumping all over until it looked like The Dudleys would win the tag titles. Of course, Woods made sure that didn’t happen and caused the match to end in a DQ. He went through a table again for his troubles. Fun was had by all. If you’re going to skim through this card, watch every minute of this segment. ***1/4
Wendland: God, I love The New Day. They’re the best thing on WWE since the renewed Cesaro section was snuffed out by the creative team – and they were probably the best thing on WWE TV since before that too. Their obnoxious antics and hilarious promos are sometimes the ONLY things worth watching on RAW. Tonight their “shaming” of the Dudley Boyz was one of their highlights and the in-ring work was the best I’ve seen from the Dudleyz since they returned. That said, Kofi Kingston and Big E did the heavy lifting – literally – but the match was fun!
The Dudleyz hit the 3D on Big E and looked to have their tenth WWE Tag Team championship when Xavier Woods broke up the pin, causing a disqualification. For his heinous actions, Woods received yet another 3D through a table after the match. The Jericho-Owens match was technically better, but this was the most fun I’ve had watching this show tonight. ***¾
Winners: The Dudley Boyz
Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar
Bentley: If I could erase many years of Big Show’s booking, I would have thought, if only for a second, that he was a threat to Lesnar. Despite that, Brock showed exactly why he is such a star. He bumped his ass off for Show until you almost thought the Beast was vulnerable. Then, when he took control, he pulled off every power move in his arsenal (OK, just Germans and F5s) without regard for Big Show’s weight or size. Clearly, no one was expecting an epic battle here. This was just what I wanted to see: Brock recklessly throwing someone around. Mission accomplished. This is a hard one to rate because there wasn’t anything to the match but it exceeded my expectations for the pairing. **1/2
Wendland: What an awesome opening to this match. Big Show looked like a dangerous giant for the first time since WrestleMania and the first time in years excluding that one night. Show started the match by throwing Brock Lesnar over the top rope when he went for a double leg takedown – he just picked him up and tossed him over. From there he manhandled Lesnar for five minutes in a way we haven’t seen anyone manhandle Lesnar in since his return from the UFC. If Show wasn’t in his 40s and his character wasn’t ruined four or five times over, this would’ve been a launching pad for a great run.
Lesnar, after kicking out of three consecutive chokeslams (Lesnar is still the best guy in the world at selling chokeslams, by the way), delivered a couple of quick suplexes and hit an F5 for the win. The match was probably about as long as Lesnar’s bout in Japan, but it told a very different story that had a couple of exciting elements. Lesnar came back out after the match and tossed Show around a couple more times for good measure.
Star Rating: I can’t give this a star rating. There wasn’t enough to it, but it was the best segment of the night so far.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Steel Cage – WWE United States Championship
John Cena © vs. Seth Rollins
Bentley: John Cena and Seth Rollins have had several really good matches during their recent program. Cena has chosen to adopt a more “indie” style to work in a way that really helps Rollins shine. But here, Cena went back to his WWE main event roots and worked the same cage match that all WWE main eventers do. And the match really suffered in excitement for it. For me, the intrigue became only about whether Seth Rollins would win the match to take the title from Cena before his hiatus. As usual with this style of match, it picked up toward the end and did regain some of my interest. That was ruined when Kane’s music hit, which amazingly got a huge pop. When was the last time Kane got that kind of pop? It turned out this was not the place where Cena would drop the title before he temporarily rides off into the sunset as he finished off Rollins with an AA and a three count in the middle of the ring.
Overall, I had quite a bit of fun watching this show. It was much more of your normal WWE fare instead of feeling as unique the Tokyo house show did. A better main event could have put the card over the top but it just never hit for me. **3/4
Wendland: I love cage matches. I think they’re better than Hell in a Cell matches. Lately, a cell pretty much means a match with directional limitations. A cage match though? The cage is part of the match. For that reason, this finally felt like a different match than the ones John Cena and Seth Rollins have been having recently. Rollins and Cena used the cage as if it were a third competitor in the match.
For a while there I thought there was a chance Rollins would win – especially considering Cena’s upcoming sabbatical. We did, however, see Checkhov’s Kane in the first hour of the show, so we knew Kane would be a part of the main event. Even with Kane, though, this had legitimate drama. Rollins has chemistry with everyone, really, but 2015 Indy Cena has an exceptional report with Rollins. Kane and his weird MSG fans ended the night by Tombstoning Rollins, but not before Rollins missed a splash off of the top of the cage and succumbing to a third AA attempt from Cena.
Tonight’s show was a tale of two halves and a tale of two WWEs. The first half of the show was boring in the ring and showed the worst of all WWE storytelling. It was really the dregs. The second half of the show, however, starting with the Intercontinental Championship, was really fun! The New Day kicked the show into high gear and the main event was good drama. ****
Winner: John Cena