Daniel Bryan speaks his mind to Stephanie McMahon.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Stephanie McMahon Interrupted Daniel Bryan
Think about this for a minute: John Cena competed in one of the best matches of the year thus far last night with an injured elbow. You have to respect the guy for that and for holding off on surgery until after SummerSlam. Now the event has come and gone, it's good to finally see him take the time off he deserves. Bryan cut a great promo and it was nice to see him tone down his usual antics to take the serious route instead. I was curious as to what side Stephanie would be taking in this feud, but I'm not at all surprised that she'll also be heel going forward. This was one of her better showings on the mic since returning to television and her future confrontations with Bryan should be just as entertaining. The crowd was red hot for Bryan and it left viewers hooked as to whether he'd be appearing again later in the night.
Cody Rhodes def. Daimen Sandow
These two once again provided a nice matchup that was fun while it lasted. It didn't receive any more time than it did at SummerSlam, and I was disappointed that this rematch was given away for free without any real hype. They are obviously telling a story with Rhodes winning here, so I have no problem with Sandow taking another loss. It would make sense for Sandow and Rhodes to fight for the briefcase in their next match against one another seeing how he's earned the right at this point.
Paul Heyman Addressed CM Punk
It shouldn't come as any surprise that this was another good promo from Heyman. It wasn't amongst his best, but it provided a nice hook for Punk's response later in the show. It was short and sweet and accomplished what it set out to do.
The Funkadactlys def. Divas Champion AJ Lee and Layla
As you could probably tell from the pre-match backstage segment, the sole purpose of this match was to plug Total Divas. That also explains why The Funkadactlys went over here, but it will be interesting to see if one of them will be entered into the Divas title picture. Naomi and AJ are capable of having great matches, but Naomi would need to break away from Tons of Funk in order for that to happen.
The Shield def. Dolph Ziggler in a Handicap Match
Most Handicap matches are rather boring, but this one in particular found a way to be pretty entertaining. Ziggler was able to score a substantial amount of offense against The Shield before ultimately becoming a victim of the numbers game. Ziggler sold Roman Reigns' spear like an absolute beast and it made for a very cool visual on television.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio def. Sin Cara (Non-title)
Well, the match was pointless, as it was a mere minute long and ended in a non-finish. It didn't appear Sin Cara was injured when he jumped outside the ring, so it might have been an angle to end the bout early. It was good to see Ricardo Rodriguez back, but his pairing with Rob Van Dam was unexpected. However, I'm all for it, as it allows Rodriguez to feud with Del Rio while also putting RVD in a meaningful program for the world title.
The Prime Time Players def. The Real Americans
Zeb Colter's pre-match promo drew some good heat from the live crowd, but it was the same old shtick from him. I expected the crowd to be dead for this match, but they gave The Prime Time Players a nice reaction. The crowd popped for Darren Young's offense towards the end, so it appears they might be turning face. This is a brilliant move, as it couldn't have come at a better time with Young's "announcement" garnering as much mainstream attention as it did. They might not be put in the tag title picture right away, but wins such as this one will certainly help them build credibility as a tandem.
The Shield def. Big Show
This was essentially the same Handicap match we saw earlier in the evening, aside from the fact that all members of The Shield were allowed in the ring at the same time. Big Show was dominant throughout, only to be taken out by all three Shield members in the end, so he loses nothing in defeat. Seth Rollins appeared to fine after apparently injuring himself in the last Handicap match with Ziggler, so it's good to see that it was nothing serious. After Show announced that he and Mark Henry were now a unit, it was strange not to see Henry make an appearance here. Nonetheless, I'm happy that The Shield are getting as much attention as they are for the first time in months.
CM Punk Responded to Paul Heyman and Fought Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel
Punk's banter with the fat fan in the audience was strange and I'm not sure if that was planned or not, but everything else about his promo was spot-on. The crowd was fully behind Punk here and The Voice of the Voiceless showed excellent emotion following his loss to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. It appears his feud with Heyman is far from over and I couldn't be happier, as it has been consistently entertaining over the last two months. Punk's fight with Axel was enjoyable, but it's hard to take Axel seriously against Punk when he's been overshadowed for the entirety of this feud. I would like to see him and Punk battle for the Intercontinental Championship at Night of Champions, so maybe that explains why Punk got the better of Axel here.
Bray Wyatt def. R-Truth
The Wyatt Family viciously assaulted Truth a number of weeks ago on Raw, so it made sense for him to be Bray Wyatt's first opponent on the flagship show. The match was purely designed to showcase Wyatt's destructive move-set and give viewers (those that didn't order SummerSlam) their first glimpse at what he is capable of in the ring. Although the commentators mentioned Kane during the match, there was no sign of him, so it looks like he'll be taking time off after all.
The Usos def. 3MB
The commentators made several references to how glorious the tag team division is, so it looks like we're in for another revamping. That explains why this match was held: the enhance the importance of the tag team division. The Usos continue their winning streak with a win here, although it doesn't mean much considering it was over 3MB. As for the new "matador" tag team, Primo and Epico are from Puerto Rico, so the gimmick makes zero sense. Then again, this is WWE, so I probably should have seen that one coming.
The Miz def. Wade Barrett by Disqualification
As big of a fan as I am of Miz, I didn't care for his various segments with Fandango at SummerSlam. Neither of them mean anything at the moment, but at least WWE is finally giving both Superstars something to do for the next few weeks. The match was as basic as it gets and was nothing out of the ordinary given the fact that Miz and Barrett have faced one another a million times since the start of the year.
Daniel Bryan Crashed Randy Orton's WWE Championship Coronation
I don't at all understand how Triple H didn't receive a full entrance at the start of this segment. Normally, I wouldn't care, this is one night removed from his shocking heel turn, so they should have showed the live crowd booing Triple H. His promo accomplished very little, but I was guess that was to be expected so his heel turn didn't feel forced. The same can be said for Orton, who cut his promo like it was business as usual but also undermined Bryan. I like the idea of pairing The Shield with the new heel faction, as it puts them in another top-tier story-line for the time being. Orton's RKO on Bryan was well done and foreshadowed a future match between the two down the line. There wasn't a lot about this segment that left me on the edge of my seat, but I'm intrigued by the angle in general, and I understand that it will take time before the heel turns of Orton and HHH come full circle.
There was definitely a sense of "change" on this show, as many of the matches and feuds that occurred at SummerSlam seemingly concluded at the event. There were multiple matches on this show that rather random and out of place, but there's plenty of time between now and Night of Champions, so it's good that WWE isn't rushing into any feuds and gave us a breath of fresh air on this show. With John Cena out with an injury, it'll be interesting to see how Bryan fares in the ratings in coming weeks now that he's the top babyface for the foreseeable future.