8- Man Tag Match
At just about 8 minutes, this bout was a cavalcade of signatures and finishers when it got out of the brief starting phases. Bryan took a back seat to this match as Otis, Gable, Cesaro, and Zayn all took center stage in the booking. Quick and effective, but nothing too special.
Drew McIntyre (C) vs. AJ Styles for WWE Championship
This match took a while to start, but when it did, it felt like an important title bout. Styles and McIntyre went at it for a while and traded brutal beatdowns before The Miz and John Morrison interfered to unsuccessfully cash in for added drama. Very suspenseful, but not particularly unique.
Sasha Banks (c) vs. Carmella for Smackdown Women’s Championship
This might have been the lowest rated match of the night, but it isn’t because of the work rate. There was some stellar wrestling in between this continuous story of Carmella needing her manager Reginald Thomas to help. This just seems to lower her booking, and that drag to the outside from the match should have been called a DQ.
The Hurt Business vs. The New Day (c) for the Raw Tag-Team Championships
In what ended up being an historic moment in WWE history, Kofi and Xavier lost a tag-team match (along with the belts) to Cedric and Shelton. The match itself was extremely intelligent for the most part and featured much missed tag-team wrestling action. Good to see Alexander get a W, especially under the tutelage of MVP.
Asuka & Charlotte vs. Shayna Bazsler (c)and Nia Jax for the Women’s Tag-Team Championships
Admittedly, the booking for Charlotte has been on par with the Super-Cena booking of the early 2010s. However, Asuka being booked as a double-champ with her is a testament to how she has proven herself as a true star. Yes, it would’ve made more sense for Nia to eat the pin, but this was still a solid match with a surprising twist/result. Here’s hoping to a Ronda Rousey return soon!
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship
These two have a good track record in terms of chemistry and the format of the match lent itself to both competitors but it felt extremely over-booked. I don’t mind interferences in championship matches, but I do care about someone being booked as this “Tribal Chief” being forced to resort to having his cousin repeatedly attack the challenger just diminishes his stature as a big player in the WWE. It was still very entertaining.
The Fiend vs. Randy Orton in a Firefly Funhouse Inferno Match
Slow to some, plotting to others, this no-DQ match was expertly done by two veterans of the ring. While the entirety of the heel vs. face dynamic might have been overlooked in favor of pushing the more popular star, it still had The Fiend looking incredibly strong in defeat. The guy literally had to be set on fire to lose. This is a match that we will talk about for decades to come.
Overall Show Grade:
This show had no right to be this good after the slew of bad programming that the WWE has been putting out. However, it really felt like a focused show that aimed to build up the several storylines leading to the Road to Wrestlemania. This is a good sign for the future of the WWE, but it still showcases some of the glaring flaws in booking that continue to creatively stifle them.