By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Big Show Interrupted Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
This was a standard segment for the most part that didn't feature much out of the ordinary. We have been seeing the same thing from Show, HHH and Stephanie for weeks now, but this was a logical follow-up to the conclusion of last week's Raw. Show appearing on the Titantron despite being "fired" was strange, but Stephanie questioned that later in the show, so perhaps there is reasoning behind it after all. By the way, the "fired" Show showing up every week on Raw reminds me of when John Cena did the same thing a few weeks back, and this angle isn't any less asinine.
Daniel Bryan def. United States Champion Dean Ambrose (Non-title)
Bryan vs. Ambrose is just one of those matches that will never cease to entertain me no matter how many times it is done. I say that because we have seen these two face two several time in recent months, but it didn't matter much. This match was basically a tune-up for Bryan going into his WWE title match on Sunday, but it still featured some exciting action. They work so well together, so I am glad they received as much time as they did. I am usually not high on the mid-card champions losing non-title matches, but Ambrose looked strong enough in defeat that I will excuse it this one time.
CM Punk Addressed His Upcoming Hell in a Cell Match
This was a good promo by Punk standards, but nothing excellent. It did a nice job of building toward his Hell in a Cell match with Paul Heyman and Ryback and essentially guaranteed he will get his hands on Heyman. One would only assume that promo might lead to some pay-per-view buys with people wanting to see Heyman finally get what has been coming to him. Punk reiterated much of same content from his promos from prior to Night of Champions, with the only difference being their match this time around will be held within Satan's structure.
Santino Marella def. Heath Slater
While I didn't find Santino, The Great Khali and Hornswoggle dressing up as Elvis Presley funny, the commentators sure seemed to get a kick out of it. This kind of crap has to have grown tiresome with Memphis by now. If the point of this segment was to feature Jerry Lawler in his hometown, then couldn't they have done it in a less ridiculous way? Also, WWE does realize there is a pay-per-view on Sunday, right?
Randy Orton def. Dolph Ziggler
For the first time, Orton was the heel and Ziggler was the babyface, so that made an interesting dynamic and a refreshing change of pace. Ziggler was positioned as the underdog here, but he was never really able to score any real offense over Orton. While the match was enjoyable while it lasted, I am certain that these two are capable of much more. The finish seemed to come out of nowhere, but I understand WWE putting Orton over strong going into his upcoming WWE Championship matchup.
The Bella Twins def. Divas Champion AJ Lee and Tamina Snuka
Although I am not a fan of The Bella Twins, I have been content with their recent rivalry with AJ and Snuka, as the booking thus far in the feud has been well done. This match basically consisted of Nikki taking a beating for a majority of the time only to tag in Brie and allow her to get the pin on AJ. It made sense from a storyline standpoint to give Brie (who still isn't over as a babyface) momentum going into her title match with AJ, but I hope this mean AJ ultimately retains the strap.
Erik Rowan and Luke Harper def. Kofi Kingston and The Miz
The crowd was surprisingly dead early on, but it is hard to blame them since WWE hasn't given fans an incentive to care about Miz as of late. However, the crowd livened up a bit during the finishing sequence of the bout and Harper's clothesline never looks any less devastating. Bray Wyatt's post-match promo was good and seemed to indicate a match between himself and Miz at Hell in a Cell, but that has yet to be confirmed.
CM Punk and Big E Langston def. Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel and Ryback
This match served the same purpose as Punk and R-Truth vs. Axel and Ryback from a few weeks ago in that it furthered both of the feuds involved. The action was entertaining and Langston an impressive reaction for someone who recently turned babyface. As expected, Langston pinning Axel in the end was smart booking in that it grants him a shot at the Intercontinental title at the pending pay-per-view. If anyone can take the strap off Axel, it is Langston.
The Real Americans def. Tons of Funk
Zeb Colter arguing with the announcers on commentary distracted from the match, but I can't say that was bad thing, as the back and forth banter was comical. The match itself was much of the same from the two tandems. It was a nice win for The Real Americans going into their feud with Los Matadores. I was surprised to not see Los Matadores make an appearance, but perhaps they have some sort of segment at Hell in a Cell (assuming they don't have a match).
The Usos vs. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in a No. 1 Contender's Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships Ended in a No Contest
These two teams set the bar pretty high for themselves back at Money in the Bank, but they came pretty damn close with this great match. Anyone who thinks The Usos are an undercard tandem are sadly mistaken, as they more than hold their own in the ring against The Shield. The chemistry between the two tandems always makes for a fun bout and this was no exception. I was happy to see it end in an apparent no contest in order to set up a Triple Threat tag team title match at Hell in a Cell, which has the potential to be incredibly awesome. By the way, the new mashed-up entrance theme for the Rhodes brothers sounds terrible. I appreciate the effort WWE has made put in into making them feel like an actual pairing, but the song just didn't sound good. Jeri-Show had a few theme songs before settling on the epic one they ended up having, so perhaps that could be the case with the Rhodes brothers as well.
Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton Signed the Contract for Their WWE Championship Match at Hell in a Cell
Orton's mic work was solid and he did a superb job of making viewers believe Bryan didn't stand a chance in hell (no pun intended) of defeating him at the pay-per-view, but he definitely came across as the afterthought here, which is a shame. I enjoyed the heated exchanges between Triple H, Bryan and Shawn Michaels and it did a fine job of foreshadowing the inevitable Bryan/HHH match, but that isn't what we are getting on Sunday, so why focus on that? Viewers will pay to see where HBK's allegiance lies, but I can't help but think this segment was more about him and HHH than it was about Orton and Show. Then you throw in the random Big Show driving a massive truck in the arena (what was the point of that?) and you have yourself the competitors not involved in the WWE title match stealing the thunder. I assume Mr. McMahon will eventually be revealed as the one pulling the strings and is the one granting Show access into the arena, but the focus should have been on the title and not Show for this one night.
From an entertainment standpoint, I enjoyed this show due to several matches being worth watching and it didn't drag as much as it normally does. As a go-home show, though, it is hard to say it succeeded in getting my excited for the upcoming event. I am looking forward to Hell in a Cell slightly more than I was originally, but not by much. That being said, I will credit to WWE for putting together a solid card for Sunday considering the fact they only had three weeks to build toward it. I am anticipating the pending pay-per-view and hope it as good as it looks on paper.