By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon Arranged an 11-on-3 Handicap Elimination Match
What was the point of having Triple H enter to his old babyface music as opposed to "King of Kings"? Is it supposed to trick fans into thinking he isn't as bad as he is supposedly made out to be? Whatever the case may be, I'm not liking it, as it confuses fans instead of putting heat on HHH and Stephanie. Regardless, their mic work here was solid as usual, but nothing out the ordinary. The announcement of the 11-on-3 Handicap Elimination match would have felt more monumental than it did had the same match not been made for last week's SmackDown. That is in addition to the fact that we have seen what feels like a million Handicap matches over the last month or so.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio def. Kofi Kingston (Non-title)
I have honestly lost track of how many times these two have faced off in singles competition over the years, but there is simply no denying the fact that their matches are always entertaining. There was no doubt in my mind that Del Rio would be going over here, but Kingston still looked good in defeat with many suspenseful near-falls in the final few minutes. The crowd was into the action and it was a nice win for Del Rio, although defeating Kingston doesn't mean much nowadays.
Luke Harper and Erik Rowan def. The Prime Time Players
The Prime Time Players were able to score some offense over The Wyatt Family, which the crowd popped for, but it essentially a glorified squash match. The PTP'ers were gaining a significant amount of momentum after SummerSlam, so it is a shame to see them back to their losing ways now that they have already received their shot at the WWE Tag Team Championships. As for The Wyatt Family, I was hoping to hear Bray cut an awesome promo, but no such luck. They are stuck in no-man's land at the moment and need a program as soon as possible.
The Miz Hosted "Miz TV" with Big Show
As much as I enjoy Miz's charismatic character, the serious side he showed in this segment was even better. It was fitting following the beating he took at the hands of Randy Orton last week, which he addressed early in this promo. His exchange with Stephanie McMahon was great and was one of the best promos Miz has cut in a long while. It was funny to see Show show signs of hesitation of knocking out Daniel Bryan and Dusty Rhodes in recent weeks, but he appeared to have no problem of knocking out Miz here. Show's story is growing tiresome and I hope they fast forward to the end result sooner rather than later.
Randy Orton vs. Rob Van Dam Ended in a Double Count-out
These two have had better matches in the past, but this was still an enjoyable contest with plenty of back-and-forth action. RVD has consistently had well wrestled matches since returning to WWE back in July, and this bout was no exception. Having it end in a double count-out was probably the best bet since both individuals will be competing for a world title in two weeks at WWE Battleground. The post-match attack from Orton onto RVD was extremely aggressive and helped further the storyline that Orton is gradually reverting back to this psychotic persona, but I hope this wasn't WWE's way of writing RVD out of storylines for the near future.
Fandango def. Santino Marella
The match was forgettable and was over before it even started. That is not to say it should have gone longer, though. The Chicago crowd popped huge for Fandango's entrance, but I presume that reaction was for his theme song more so than it was for him. Santino defeated the likes of Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger and Damien Sandow only to lose to Fandango? That makes zero sense. Fandango won clean last week, too, so perhaps WWE has something in mind for him. Then again, maybe not.
Paul Heyman Interrupted CM Punk
Aside from June's WWE Payback pay-per-view, this was the first promo Punk cut in front of his hometown crowd of Chicago in nearly a year. It always makes for a great moment and this was no exception. Punk's promo mentioning the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup earlier this year was a clever tie-in to his current feud with Heyman. Speaking of whom, he was hilarious in his exchange with Punk and played his role to perfection. The post-promo brawl also involving Ryback and Curtis Axel started out slow, but it grew to be incredibly intense a short while later. Punk gained sympathy for not being able to overcome two Superstars at once while Ryback garnered good heat for ambushing The Voice of the Voiceless in his hometown. This was a home run of a segment on all cylinders.
Natalya, The Bella Twins and The Funkadactlys def. Divas Champion AJ Lee, Aksana, Layla, Tamina Snuka and Alicia Fox
Since when did Tamina return to the ring? Wasn't she out of action with injury and then took time off to film a movie? Anyway, the match was basically what you would expect from any multi-Diva tag team match: a typical train wreck that was over within mere minutes. Brie scoring the pin-fall makes sense, but wasn't Natalya supposed to be contending for the Divas title at Battleground? As much as I don't like The Bella Twins, putting Brie in the title picture is only logical if the plan is for Stephanie McMahon to screw her out of the belt given her relationship with Daniel Bryan.
Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, The Usos, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Rob Van Dam, The Prime Time Players, Zack Ryder and Justin Gabriel def. The Shield in an 11-on-3 Handicap Elimination Match
The early eliminations of RVD and Kingston were smart booking since they had both been "injured" earlier on in the night. RVD's elimination specifically made for an intriguing hook prior to the commercial break. The subsequent eliminations of Titus O'Neil, Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder had Roman Reigns looking like an absolute beast. When he was ultimately pinned by one of The Usos (I can't recall which one), it felt like a big deal since Michael Cole noted on commentary that he had yet to be pinned in WWE. Dolph Ziggler eliminating Dean Ambrose and brawling with him later on in the match helped hype their United States Championship match for Friday's SmackDown. Seth Rollins more than held his own against Bryan in the contest's conclusion with the finishing sequence being extremely exciting. This was a great win for Bryan and an excellently executed matchup overall that had everyone involved come out of it looking good.
The first two hours of the show were solid, but the final hour was loaded with CM Punk's promo and the entertaining main event matchup. I failed to mention this in the prior paragraph, but the surprise interference from Cody Rhodes and Goldust was very cool and foreshadowed a potential match with The Shield down the line. There were a handful of enjoyable matches on this show as well as several strong segments that made this an excellent episode as a whole. The Chicago crowd made for an electric atmosphere all night long and definitely played a factor in making the night memorable. There wasn't much build for Battleground in a few weeks outside of the Punk vs. Ryback match, but one can only hope that the go-home show next week will do a better job of promoting the pending pay-per-view.