Hi everyone! Hope you’re all enjoying the new site layout. I’m blown away by the new writing tools, so it’s going to take a while to get used to. Hell .. I can even change the font colour! Couldn’t do that before. Anyways .. on to the subject.
The goal of this two-part article is to lightly review each WWE PPV from 2016 (including NXT and other specials) to determine if the brand extension helped the quality of events, and in the first part made it up to Battleground before calling it a night. I have returned to finish the last eleven events and come to a foregone conclusion. You can read the first edition at the link; it seems the intro is missing as I made it under the old list format.
NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II (August 24th)
And while the main roster split into two brands, NXT continued its string of compelling events with a return to Brooklyn.
- Austin Aries and No Way Jose fought in the opening match, and was Jose’s best outing to date. Aries showed his experience and the two put on a solid, well-thought out contest. Aries finished him in the end with the Last Chancery submission. Hideo Itami appeared afterwards and nailed Aries with the GTS.
- Ember Moon made her on-screen WWE PPV debut with a quick victory over Billie Kay.
- Roode made his NXT wrestling debut in a match with Andrade Almas. Now donning the tagline “Glorious”, his entrance and theme music matched the gimmick perfectly. So much so, that the NXT crowd sang his theme and supported him against the babyface Almas. At the end of a decent (but not glorious) match, Roode finished him with a Pumphandle Slam.
- Going by the new name of DIY, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa challenged The Revival for the NXT Tag Team titles. As predicted, it was match of the night, and possible Match Of The Year candidate. The Revival made Gargano tap with an inverted figure-four.
- Bayley challenged Asuka for the NXT title, knowing she would need to endure everything fired at her. The story was one of Bayley trying to prove she could win, even knowing the incredible force Asuka is. It was also meant as a farewell from NXT as she was bound for the main roster. A really good match again from the girls, but we know Asuka remains undefeated to this day.
- Remember the guy with the violin during Shinsuke’s entrance? Yes, it was that long ago. As always, Shinsuke and Samoa Joe proved they are main event material with another hard-hitting, unforgiving, strong style match, and something which is unique to them. How good it was depends on who you ask, but I like to think anything involving Nakamura and Joe is great. They are not scared to take a real hit, or give a real hit. They will go further than most to give the fans what they paid to see. They can’t steal the show every night though, as that went to DIY and Revival earlier. Samoa Joe kicked out of the Kinshasa finisher near the end, but he couldn’t take a second one. Shinsuke won the title and remained undefeated, while Joe clutched his jaw (Turned out he was just selling).
NXT can’t do any wrong. It’s awesome when a promotion .. even when you know it’s not the best show they’ve ever delivered .. remains simple and pleasurable to watch.
Summerslam (August 21st)
- Sheamus went 1-0 over Cesaro on the pre-show in their first match in the Best Of Seven Series.
- Y2J and Kevin Owens teamed up and defeated SAWFT to open the main show.
- The women’s match received some praise, but was also criticized for several botches. Surprisingly, Charlotte won the title back, but it was later revealed Sasha needed time off due to injury.
- The Miz defeated Crews in five minutes to retain the IC title.
- AJ Styles and John Cena fought in what some will consider Match Of The Year. The story was one of Cena proving he hadn’t lost his place as WWE’s top guy and would find a way to win, while Styles wanted to prove he had Cena’s number and was the “face that runs the place”. The chemistry was undeniable, and proof of why Cena and AJ have been the top guys for different companies. Styles finished Cena with a second springboard elbow. This might be the only great match on the card.
- The New Day retained the tag team titles against Gallows & Anderson due to Jon Stewart’s interference getting them disqualified.
- Ambrose retained the WWE World title against Ziggler in a match which didn’t click or deliver as expected.
- The reveal of the WWE Universal title was met with a mixed reception, but it did not deter from the inaugural title match between Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. Despite Balor getting seriously injured in a fan barrier spot, they finished the match with Balor drilling Rollins with a double foot stomp. It was a really good match, and the fans were pleased with the result.
- A US title match was scheduled between Roman Reigns and champion Rusev, but due to Rusev ambushing Reigns and the two fighting on the outside, it was ruled a no contest and postponed.
- The main event was Randy Orton vs. Brock Lesnar. After 11-minutes of Lesnar hurting Orton, Brock took off his gloves and delivered some stiff strikes and elbows to Randys head. His head was busted open, and medics came to tend to the wound but Brock kept striking. The match ended with a stoppage and TKO victory to Lesnar. The end of Summerslam was labelled dangerous and unnecessary by some. Personally I could see why they did it, they were looking for shock value .. but it didn’t make sense or go anywhere.
A difficult event to judge. AJ and Cena was worthy of Summerslam, and Balor/Rollins helped near the end of the show. The show dragged on considerably, and was riddled with controversial finishes. The ending was confusing as well, so I think Summerslam failed to deliver on the hype.
Backlash (September 11th)
Smackdown Live! – The first Smackdown exclusive PPV after the brand split in July. Also, due to Raw getting the Women’s and Tag Team titles, Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon introduced the new Smackdown Women’s and Tag Team titles which would be introduced at Backlash.
- Apollo Crews continued his poor run of form with another loss to Baron Corbin.
- In a good six-pack elimination challenge, Becky Lynch emerged as the first Smackdown Women’s Champion over Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Naomi and Cameron.
- American Alpha won the right to face Heath Slater & Rhyno in the finals of the Smackdown Tag Team title tournament, but due to Chad Gable picking up an injury they needed to be replaced. The Usos beat The Hype Bros to earn a second chance in the finals.
- The Miz has improved a lot this year, and his match with Ziggler at Backlash was another indication of that. The added presence of Maryse has helped his character, and Ziggler’s had many encounters with him over the years. When the referee had his back turned, Maryse sprayed something in Zigglers face, and Miz finished him with a Skull Crushing Finale.
- Bray Wyatt was scheduled to face Randy Orton, but due to Randy having an injury they needed to limit his participation so Wyatt won by forfeit. However, he was given Kane in a No Holds Barred match as a replacement. Thanks to The Viper’s late interference, Kane won the match with a Chokeslam and pin.
- I don’t think anyone imagined Heath Slater and Rhyno would be the inaugural Smackdown tag team champions, but that’s what happened after a Gore! Gore! Gore!
- Nothing compares to the main event though, which was a singles match for the WWE World Heavyweight title. AJ Styles challenged Dean Ambrose, and they were on point. As always, AJ brought his opponent up a level and delivered a solid main event despite his heel antics in the end. He saw an opportunity to low-bow Ambrose and hit the Styles Clash to become WWE World Champion for the first time .. thus creating history as the only man to have held the WWE, NWA, IWGP and TNA World titles in their career.
An enjoyable one from the Smackdown brand. While it got a smaller roster, it pulled them together as a unit. They didn’t want to be labeled the “B-show”, so putting the strap on AJ was the right way to go.