By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Dolph Ziggler def. Damien Sandow (Kickoff Match)
Given the fact this was their initial one-on-one encounter, I was a bit disappointed by this match. Granted, they didn't have much of a feud going prior to this pay-per-view and the fans have had zero incentive to care about either individual, but the action itself was nothing out of the ordinary. It was good, don't get me wrong, but it had the potential to be much better. Ziggler targeting the knee of Sandow toward the end of the match was an odd story to tell, but it was a nice way of explaining why Sandow didn't ultimately cash in in his Money in the Bank briefcase later on in the night. Both Sandow and Ziggler are in desperate need of direction at the moment.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio def. Rob Van Dam in a Battleground Hardcore Rules Match
Although their feud up to this point was rather forgettable, this match certainly wasn't. Both RVD and Del Rio put forth a strong effort in this bout and made great use of the extreme environment surrounding them. Sure, they didn't end up using a table like the live crowd wanted them to, but it was still an entertaining match. Hardcore is RVD's speciality, and Del Rio seems to strives in these kind of matches as well. The Five Star Frog Splash to the outside of the ring to Del Rio was a very cool spot and the finish with Del Rio forcing RVD to tap out clean to the Cross Armbreaker with his arm through the chair was very well done. It was refreshing to see a heel actually win a match without any shenanigans for once and it was a good way of writing RVD off television for the foreseeable future.
The Real Americans def. Santino Marella and The Great Khali
As one would expect, the match itself was throwaway and was merely filler. Santino and Khali weren't established as a team in the weeks preceding this event, so there was no need to care about them teaming up on this show. However, the sole highlight of this match was obviously when Antonio Cesaro swung Khali around multiple times, which was incredibly impressive to say the least. It was nice to see them go over here, but I am still baffled as to why these two aren't getting a bigger push. It has been rumored that Cesaro is due for a babyface run at some point soon, which wouldn't surprise me given how over the swing is right now.
Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel def. R-Truth
Similar to most of the matches on this card, this bout was confirmed for the card only a few days prior to the event, so there was no real drama involved in the action. The commentators did a fine job of trying to convey the fact that Truth hasn't had a title opportunity in quite some time, but the live crowd couldn't have cared less. I like Axel as champion and am glad he retained, but it is evident that he isn't over at all with live crowds. While he may be a great champion, his character is certainly lacking.
Divas Champion AJ Lee def. Brie Bella
Brie Bella may not be capable of having an instant classic, but AJ brought her to an exceptional match here. They received more time than usual, but not much. AJ has brought prestige to the championship for the first time in.... well, ever, so there was no need to take the title off her here. It was too soon for Brie to win the strap, so if it is going to happen, perhaps at Hell in a Cell. I like the idea of the two feuding given their past/current ties to Daniel Bryan, so hopefully that gets brought up at some point. Tamina Snuka working as AJ's heavy works for me, as it gives her a distinct advantage in all of her matches going forward.
Goldust and Cody Rhodes def. WWE Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns to Get Their Jobs Back (Non-title)
Needless to say, this was by far the highlight of the night. The build to this matchup was excellently executed, as was everything in this contest. Goldust, who looked great against Randy Orton last month, looked even better in this bout against The Shield. The near-falls down the stretch were very suspenseful and the live crowd was heavily engaged in what was going on. The finish was fantastic and the post-match celebration with The Rhodes Family made for a memorable moment. Throw in the awesome altercation between Dusty Rhodes and Dean Ambrose at ringside and you have yourself one of the best matches in a good while.
Bray Wyatt def. Kofi Kingston
As intriguing as The Wyatt Family is, I couldn't find myself invested in this match at all. It was well wrestled for the most part, but it wasn't much more than filler due to the fact that there wasn't much riding on it. They did their best to follow the hot tag team matchup, but to no avail. If nothing else, Wyatt's creepy crab walk was a nice touch and he could definitely do that on a regular basis in all of his matches going forward. It was pretty predictable that Wyatt was going over, so with Kingston not having much credibility at the moment, this contest was pretty pointless.
CM Punk def. Ryback
My hopes weren't high going into this match, but even still, this match was definitely disappointing. I expected a much better match than what we got, especially considering the great matches they had in their feud from late last year. Paul Heyman was an enjoyable addition to ringside, but not even he could save this bout from being an utter disaster. It wasn't bad per se, but it had the potential to be better. The finish is what irked me the most, as Ryback shouldn't be taking a loss this early in the rivalry. Granted, Punk hadn't won a match on pay-per-view since June, but this was a lose-lose situation. Since Punk utilized a low blow to emerge victorious, it allows the feud to continue for a few more weeks, but I'm not as excited for it resuming as I was previously.
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton For the Vacant WWE Championship Ended in a No Contest
I found this match to be better than their Night of Champions matchup, but it still felt like they were holding back a bit. Regardless, the action was entertaining and they were given a substantial amount of time to have a great contest. These two have superb chemistry together, so it was smart to give them as much time as they ended up receiving. However, none of it mattered, as it was obvious that there was going to be interference of some sort and everyone was waiting for it. Big Show knocking out both Bryan and Orton was intriguing and a smart way to work around crowning a new champion on this show, but it cheated the viewers out of seeing a new WWE Champion. It was the third straight pay-per-view with a screwjob finish and gave viewers the feeling that they wasted their money that could have been seen coming from the start.
In a nutshell, this show lived up to my expectations of being mediocre. Outside of the Rhodes/Shield match, nothing about this event felt memorable whatsoever. Most of the matches were added at the last minute, so it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the buyrate ends up being a flop. The ending once again made viewers feel like they wasted their money on something they could have seen resolved on Raw, which is why I am happy I didn't bother to watch this event live as it happened. It was a slight improvement over Night of Champions, but I am hoping that the pending Hell in a Cell event will break this streak of lackluster pay-per-views.