By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Rusev Interrupted Roman Reigns
Reigns has really improved his mic skills in recent months. Although he wasn't present for this promo, I feel Dean Ambrose brings the best out of him and allows him to be himself when he's talking, making him more likable in the process. His promo was kept short and sweet with the challenge to The Wyatt Family for a tag team match at SummerSlam before Rusev's interruption. Their back-and-forth was simple and effective in setting up the main event for the night, though I did find it interesting that this was the first time someone actually called out Rusev for what he is: a sexist. I honestly didn't think WWE would come out and say it, but I guess I was wrong.
WWE Tag Team Champions Prime Time Players and Mark Henry def. The New Day
Enough of these random multi-man tag team matches, please. Technically, there's nothing wrong with them from an in-ring standpoint and they're usually decent, but what purpose do they serve? Six-man tag matches, more often than not, are lazy ways of furthering a feud. This was no exception as viewers still have no reason to care about this rivalry over the WWE Tag Team Championship. Worse yet, why did Henry pick up the win for the team? New Day mentioned that backstage afterward, but I don't see why that was necessary since they lost and the Players didn't benefit. Plus, didn't Henry lose in decisive fashion to Rusev only days ago on Raw?
Charlotte def. Naomi by Disqualification; Naomi and NXT Women's Champion Sasha Banks def. Charlotte and Becky Lynch
Charlotte vs. Naomi was a nothing match before the disqualification finish, though I assume the intention was to not give much away before the tag team match. While the tag match was much better and I appreciated the time they were given, the crowd wasn't all that invested for some reason. Perhaps it was a dud crowd, but WWE has done right by the women in the last month by giving them more time for their matches and character development (excellent video package on Charlotte, by the way). However, I must say things did get out of hand by the end with Jerry Lawler questioning whether Naomi was the legal woman on commentary (that was never clarified) and Charlotte's first pinfall loss as part of the main roster coming in a tag match to Naomi on SmackDown.
Stardust def. Zack Ryder
I'm glad WWE is finally undoing all the bad booking they had going with Stardust before he took time off a few months ago. He was losing just about every week, so it's nice he's building momentum again with wins like this one (even though they're against enhancement talent). Ever notice how Ryder always comes close to hitting his finisher in all of his matches after connecting with the Broski Boot? Poor guy. I'm looking forward to the interaction between Stardust and Stephen Amell on Raw and that's likely where we'll find out what involvement they'll have at SummerSlam.
Roman Reigns def. Rusev
For whatever reason, I've never enjoyed the chemistry Rusev and Reigns have had together in the past. Most of their matches tend to be boring, and while that was the case early on with this encounter, they picked up the pace down the stretch and delivered a solid match. Lana's interference has become predictable at this point, but at least Rusev's loss wasn't as clean as a sheet. On an interesting side note, the announce team didn't make a major deal out of the win for Reigns as much as they did for Cesaro although he's now only the third person to pin him. Also, I loved how they were about to close out the show with the WWE logo in the corner of the screen before Bray Wyatt appeared. That was unexpected, and his promo accepting Reigns' challenge for SummerSlam was well done.
Any longtime readers of mine know how much I love the "less is more" philosophy and that definitely worked with this show. Not all the matches were given a ton of time or were blockbusters; in fact, the only match that was anything close to being notable was the main event, but at least they all served a purpose. I wouldn't say this was a must-see episode, but it was an enjoyable two hours to watch live.