By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Dolph Ziggler def. Baron Corbin (Kickoff Match)
I didn't agree with this match being bumped to the Kickoff show because it makes Corbin feel like less of a big deal than he did one month ago coming off his win at WrestleMania, let alone the asinine finish (which I'll discuss momentarily). The actual match didn't do anything for me and was on par with their encounter from the night after 'Mania. Corbin typically works well with Superstars smaller than him, but Ziggler means next to nothing right now. Speaking of which, who the hell thought it was a good idea to have Ziggler beat Corbin, especially in clean fashion? As noted, Ziggler hasn't had anything going for him in years, whereas they had the perfect opportunity to further Corbin's momentum with a win here. Sure, it keeps the feud alive, but Corbin was beat only twice in singles competition in NXT over the span of two years. On the main roster, he lost his first singles match in a month. So stupid.
United States Champion Kalisto def. Ryback (Kickoff Match)
How much does it say about the United States Championship that it's been defended on the Kickoff show for the last three pay-per-views? Not only that, but the feud has barely been featured on WWE TV in the weeks since WrestleMania, so I couldn't have cared less about who would win going in. That said, Kalisto and Ryback exceeded all expectations by contesting a far better match than they did at WrestleMania and going all out with a variety of fresh moves. The crowd came alive for the final few minutes and Ryback deserves credit for having an impressive outing as well. I just wish they were more consistent with Kalisto's push and didn't have him lose so many matches on television.
The Vaudevillians vs. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady in the Finals of the No. 1 Contender's WWE Tag Team Championship Tournament Ended in a No Contest
The match was just getting underway before Enzo got injured, and it looked absolutely awful. I didn't catch it the first time and hoped it was a work when the referees started attending to Enzo, but after watching the replay, you knew right away that it was real. Again, it looked super scary and I wish Enzo a speedy recovery. I feel for Big Cass, too, because I fear what the immediate future holds for him without Enzo. As for The Vaudevillians, I assume them winning was the original plan anyway, so I don't think anything was affected storyline-wise and they'll likely be crowned the new No. 1 contenders on Raw.
Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn
These two would have had an excellent match regardless, but you have to give them extra credit for being able to follow up Enzo's injury and overcome the somber mood in the arena as a result. This was the type of match I wanted to see from them in NXT (they worked a different style instead) and they definitely delivered. The crowd was engaged in the action the entire time and there never seemed to be a dull moment. And I love Owens going over clean. Zayn loses nothing in defeat and the feud can continue with him in chase mode. The post-match "interview" between Byron Saxton and Owens was a riot as well.
Intercontinental Champion The Miz def. Cesaro
Even with Cesaro involved, these two were going to have a tough time topping Owens vs. Zayn, so putting Owens on commentary was a wise move. It certainly enhanced my enjoyment of the matchup and Miz did a wonderful job of avoiding Cesaro's offense up until the end. Cesaro was protected in defeat through Owens and Zayn's interference at ringside, so the finish was effective in setting up a Fatal 4-Way for the Intercontinental title at Extreme Rules. On a side note, it's so refreshing that Owens actually gives a damn about the belt after losing it at WrestleMania and he (a.k.a. Creative) hasn't just forgotten about it.
Dean Ambrose def. Chris Jericho
While this wasn't as fast-paced as some of the previous matches, it didn't need to be. They told a solid story and I appreciated how they didn't go overboard with the constant finishers like Jericho did in his WrestleMania match with AJ Styles. Instead, they limited the big spots to when they mattered most and it benefited the bout on the whole. I was half-expecting Jericho to kick out of the Dirty Deeds, but I'm glad he didn't. Ambrose was in desperate need of a major pay-per-view win and Jericho can always get his heat back by whining or throwing a fit on Raw on Monday night. Hopefully we haven't seen the last of these two against each other.
WWE Women's Champion Charlotte def. Natalya
As expected, Charlotte and Natalya produced a quality contest and it was very well-wrestled, but it was difficult for me to buy into the possibility of Natalya winning the title (and I don't think I was the only one). What bothered me more than anything else, however, was the horrendous finish. I am so sick of seeing the Montreal Screwjob rehashed time and time again. It was cute in 1998. Almost two decades later, it's unoriginal as hell. Charlotte retained the title, so I guess it could have been worse, but the limited involvement from Bret Hart was a disappointment as well. What was the point in bringing him in again? On the bright side, maybe we see an "I Quit" match from them at Extreme Rules.
Mr. McMahon Announced Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon Will Both Run Raw
I wasn't too thrilled with the decision happening on the pay-per-view because it was bound to drag. If anything, I would have hyped it up for Raw, because I'd rather not have long talking segments on an event like this. Nevertheless, they managed to hold my interest, but there were very audible "Boring" chants at one point, and the "CM Punk" chants spoke for themselves. I'm content with Shane and Stephanie running Raw together for a few reasons. Firstly, it keeps Shane around for a while longer. Secondly, I assume it will lead to some sort of match between Shane and Triple H at SummerSlam, and since that isn't for another three months, they had to fill the time between then and now somehow.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns def. AJ Styles in a No Disqualification, No Count-out Match
The match was very good early on, but once AJ won via count-out, it was filled with unnecessary shenanigans featuring the McMahons you had to see coming. The interference from Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and The Usos was elementary at that point, and there wasn't a major storyline standpoint with who Anderson and Gallows are aligned with (I'm sure some fans were disappointed by that), but I never thought going in this would be the night they would pull the trigger. That stuff aside, Reigns and Styles have fantastic chemistry together. I look forward to the rematch at Extreme Rules and I'm curious what stipulation they'll be given.
The show wasn't as flawless as I would have hoped with Corbin losing, the Women's title match ending in such stupid fashion, and the McMahon family drama being among the low points. In my opinion, the good outweighed the bad. Outside of the overbooking, the main event was a treat, Owens and Zayn stole the show, and the rest of the card held up nicely. Additionally, the Chicago crowd made for an electric atmosphere all night long, which is always an added bonus. I expect a ton of rematches at Extreme Rules, but I'm invested in a number of the current storylines, so it should be entertaining. Plus, I'll be there with the one and only RJ Marceau, so here's hoping it's equally if not more enjoyable than this event was!