INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP:DEAN AMBROSE vs. THE MIZ
(TITLE CHANGES HANDS ON DQ)
These two have a pretty recent, but lengthy history with each other over the Intercontinental Title. Going back to when both were on SMACKDOWN LIVE, and The Miz insulted Dean Ambrose‘s girlfriend, Rene Young, the two have been embroiled in a bitter feud ever since. Now that they are both on RAW, that feud has been rekindled, and The Miz would seemingly stop at nothing to regain the Intercontinental title, as was evidenced in this match.
The Miz surprised everyone in this match with counter after counter. Ambrose pulled out every move and every trick in his playbook, and at every turn The Miz turned it around on him. He was performing at the top of his abilities in this match. Ambrose had his fair share of momentum throughout the match as well, but The Miz was just too good for him this time.
The stipulation was that Ambrose couldn’t get disqualified or he’d lose the title. So of course The Miz tried hard to taunt him and cheat him into getting the DQ. Ambrose, hothead though he may be, was too smart to fall for The Miz‘s tricks this time, but when it came down to it, the referee was about to DQ Ambrose when The Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the win.
There was a point in the match where the crowd was alternating chants for Dean Ambrose and The Miz equally with “LET’S GO, AMBROSE, LET’S GO, MIZ!” When’s the last time you heard The Miz being cheered like that? He’s on a role and he’s doing it right.
MIXED TAG MATCH:
RICH SWAN & SASHA BANKS vs. NOAM DAR & ALICIA FOX
Then they came to RAW.
While 205 LIVE might be a good show, the Cruiserweight matches on RAW by and large have left much to be desired. Sure, Neville and Austin Aries have elevated it a little, but all the six-man tag matches and even singles matches are little more than bathroom break matches. No one knows who they are, and their matches have been too light in storylines, which is what fans of RAW want. It’s a different audience.
So recently, they’ve been pairing up the Cruiserweights with some of the Women’s division competitors. Case in point, this match. Alicia Fox was pretty much lost in the shuffle until they started tossing her in with a few of the Cruiserweights. Then Sasha Banks, who was at the top of the Women’s division, was added no doubt to give this match a much needed push.
As far as the match itself went, it was a decent match and exactly what you’d expect from a mixed tag-team match. The villain, Noam Dar, frequently tagged in Alicia Fox to get away from Rich Swan, and Fox and Banks had a nice back and forth exchange. You had your signature moves, your high-flying action, and ultimately Swan and Banks pulled out a victory. It was a fine, but honestly forgettable match. And as much as I love Sasha Banks, seeing her relegated to some cheesy dance moves with a Cruiserweight guy just seems like a waste of her talents.
ELIAS SAMSON MUSIC INTERLUDE
RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP: KENDO STICK ON A POLE
ALEXA BLISS vs. BAYLEY
For weeks, Bliss has called Bayley out, saying she doesn’t have what it takes to take it to the extreme countered by Bayley saying she would do whatever it takes. Leading up to this match, Bayley would get a hold of the kendo stick and not be able to pull the trigger. Then Bliss would light her up with it. The payoff should have been Bayley getting the stick in the match, which she did, and finally letting lose and lighting Bliss up. But no, Bayley still can’t pull the trigger and instead gets the sense beaten out of her with the stick followed by a wicked DDT for the win.
As is typical of cage matches, both teams immediately tried to climb out of the cage and battled a bit back and forth before going back to the mat where the real action began. The two teams pretty much just brawled with each other for the duration of the match, each member at multiple points trying to escape the cage only to be thwarted by the opposing team. There were many heads hitting the cage, especially with the Hardys tossing the heads of Cesaro and Sheamus on either side of the cage repeatedly before delivering dual dropkicks to their felled opponents.
After a fair amount of fighting, Jeff made it to the floor, but Matt couldn’t get out. So Jeff returned. It kind of went like that for a bit until both teams were trying to beat the other out at the same time. Cesaro and Sheamus were climbing down the outside of the cage while Matt, now on the floor, was trying to pull Jeff out the door. But he was too late, and the titles changed hands.
This was a very entertaining match, and more entertaining than any match with Sheamus should be. I have no hate for the guy, but this gimmick of his is my least favorite since his debut. I’m sad the Hardys lost, but I doubt this is over.
But the real question was would it be the Rings of Saturn or the Last Chancery to seal in the victory?
This was an awesome match that really put these two guys on the map. The two pulled out all the stops with a see-saw match that saw every high-flying, ground and pound, strike and submission these guys had in their arsenals. Counter after counter, false finish after false finish, Neville and Aries gave it their all. Each of them got the other in their aforementioned signature submissions, but both got to the ropes to break the holds. Aries even flipped the script and got Neville in his own move, the Rings of Saturn, but he escaped.
The finish came with Neville delivering a Red Arrow on a prone Aries followed by the Rings of Saturn leaving Aries with no choice but to tap. Neville is still your Cruiserweight Champion, but it really could have gone either way.
MAIN EVENT: FATAL 5-WAY: NUMBER ONE CONTENDER’S MATCH
ROMAN REIGNS vs. SETH ROLLINS vs.
FINN BALOR vs. BRAY WYATT vs. SAMOA JOE
These five individuals have all been at the top. Granted, Samoa Joe hasn’t been there in the WWE… yet… but he has been there elsewhere. The other four have either held the WWE World Title or the WWE Universal Title at some point in their careers. Two of them, Reigns and Rollins, were the top guys in the entire company at one point. So there was a lot of star power in this match, and a lot of heavy hitters.
Rollins and Joe have been at each other’s throat for weeks, and every time they see each other they tear each other apart. The other three have just been fighting each other as well as Rollins and Joe. We’ve seen several match-ups featuring them on RAW the past few weeks. And now we come to the final battle to determine who will face Lesnar.
As they all came out to the ring, staring each other down, and we heard about their journey to this point, I was a little disappointed Balor didn’t come out as the demon. I assumed, though, that if he were to win at EXTREME RULES he would summon the demon to face Lesnar. I’d have to wait and see, though.
Reigns was the last to come out, met with a resounding amount of cheers and boos (the boos were louder) from the Baltimore crowd. In fact, the boos started before Reigns‘ music even hit, and they were deafening. The mix of cheers didn’t hit until Reigns hit the stage.
But that’s no longer important. What is important is the action and the outcome of the match.
This match was everything you could hope for and more! Typical of these type of matches, there were alliances between the heels, namely Wyatt and Joe, teaming up to take out everyone else. And eventually that alliance was broken as Wyatt sacrificed Joe to save himself. Each and every competitor, though, had their time to shine. There was a point in the match that each one of them ran roughshod over everyone else. Whether it was Wyatt delivering Sister Abigail to Rollins, or Reigns counter Fin Balor with a devestating Superman Punch, this was one brutal and ever-changing match.
At one point, Joe had a choke on Balor outside and Reigns speared them both through the time keeper’s barricade, leaving Rollins to leap from the ring onto a prone Wyatt on the announcer’s table at ringside. There were so many false finishes, signature moves, finishing moves, counters and counters to counters. The action was all over the ring, outside the ring, hard-hitting, fast and furious.
In the end, Balor, who really did shine in the match over everyone else, delivered his finisher, the Coup de Grace to Reigns, but as he went for the pin, Joe grabbed him in his submission hold, the Coquina Clutch. Balor passed out from the pain and Samoa Joe is your number one contender! That means Joe will go one-on-one with Brock Lesnar next!
This outcome was probably the least expected of the five possibilities. Wyatt has history with Lesnar, even if they are both heels. Reigns and Rollins both have a long history with Lesnar, and they’re arguably the current two top faces in the company. Balor is everyone’s favorite. But Joe? A heel, one that hasn’t accomplished everything the others have in the WWE, and the one no one saw coming. This proved to me that sometimes the WWE can still surprise us, and a pleasant one this was.
And what about that main event?! Samoa Joe pulls out a hard-fought win against all expectations, and now will go one-on-one with the Beast, Brock Lesnar in five weeks at GREAT BALLS OF FIRE in Dallas, TX. for the WWE Universal Championship. (Note: I have not seen RAW this week yet, so if that has changed I’m not yet aware). I can’t wait! With Dallas less than two hours from where I currently live, I only wish I could see this dream match in person!
Check out previous installments of my In Perspective articles below:
You can also check out my Wrestlemania 2017 article here: