Charlotte Flair (C) def. Bayley – RAW Women’s Championship
The ending was never in question because we all know that Charlotte never loses on PPV with her title on the line. There were only four announced matches coming into the night, so I was thinking that this match would go a bit longer than usual for a women’s match on PPV, and I was right. This was the perfect match to start the night’s festivities because the two big title matches are best saved for later in the evening and Rich Swann and Neville aren’t exactly going to get the crowd excited for the rest of the night. In this match, I thought both women worked a great, physical match in a way that was able to keep the crowd engaged. Charlotte used some sly tactics and heel moves to give her the edge, such as using the ropes to make her Figure Eight stronger or using the steel padding on the outside of the ring. Bayley also played the role of being the underdog during the match, trying to mount a comeback. I also noticed a lot more physicality in Bayley here, much more than I’m accustomed to seeing from her. So much so that it caused Charlotte to bleed a little from the mouth. Charlotte’s ring awareness continues to grow and she’s getting more creative in her methods of winning matches. That Natural Selection on the edge of the ring was something else. Very good opener. Finish was kind of flat though. ***1/4
Kevin Owens (C) def. Roman Reigns – Universal Championship (No Disqualification)
Sorry, but something minor to point out before I review the bout. I HATE it when the champion comes out first in a title match. Is that a pet peeve of anyone else? Just me? Anyways, I’ve said ad nauseum about how sick I am of seeing these two face off so frequently because anyone could telegraph the spots in advance, and we just don’t see any creativity. The No Disqualification stipulation added last minute tot his match, however, allowed room for some experimentation. Boy, did they ever experiment, From stacks of chairs, to the announce table to the Stone Cold tribute, this was an astute match from a physical stand point. What I loved was the creativity of the match, and how both men tried to use the weapons around them to get an advantage. It was clear that Kevin Owens would have to get out of his comfort zone and Roman had to stick to what he did before, but just utilize weapons, because he was going to beat KO straight up. Now, the No DQ interference should have made it clear that the advantage went to KO, because not only could he use any cheap means to win the match, but it opened up the possibility of someone interfering on his behalf, due to Foley’s lack of foresight in that regard. So it appears as though we are getting Strowman and Reigns at WrestleMania, and thank goodness those rumors about Roman being a double champion were wrong. While there is technically still a chance for KO to drop the title to Roman before WrestleMania, it’d be in everyone’s best interest to move on. If this was the last time these two fight for a while, and I hope to holy Vince that it is, it was a damn good way to go out. Wonderful physical bout filled with energy, creativity, psychology and brutal bumps. Just how I like my Universal Title matches. ****1/4
Neville def. Rich Swann (C) – Cruiserweight Championship
For the sake of the future of the Cruiserweight Division and how lackluster they have been thus far, I thought that they really needed to give it their all and have a great performance here. Not only did they have steep competition with the other matches on the card, but this is the largest audience watching a Cruiserweight title match, and to give the division momentum, and lord do they ever need momentum, I was really counting on Swann and Neville to at least deliver a performance that the live crowd would enjoy, because I guarantee that they may not remember the matchup in light of the title matches and the Rumble match. Now I did pick Swann to win the match because I thought that they would give Swann a longer run and I also believed that since Neville already beat Swann there was no way they were going to have Swann lose to Neville two times in a row. But then again, that does seem to be the pattern with the Cruiserweight division. Nonetheless, as for the actual match, it certainly wasn’t anything bad, but it wasn’t going to be anything that I’ll remember. Despite Neville winning the match, and I am happy for him because he does deserve it, I can’t think that much will change with the Cruiserweights. We’ll see what the era of Neville can accomplish. Without the flippity floppity stuff that the Cruiserweights did in the summer last year, they really aren’t anything special. Just smaller versions of the main roster with less appeal and charisma. Despite that, for what I got, I can say that I least didn’t fall asleep. ***1/4
John Cena def. AJ Styles (C) – WWE Championship
This marks the second time the world champion has come out first. DAMN IT MAN! But, seriously. Can AJ Styles and John Cena do any wrong? Like seriously, every match the two engage in is something of a magic symphony of wrestling. They represent what the WWE Championship and big matches are all about. John Cena, say what you want about him, delivers the goods when he needs to in big match situations, and the two delivered yet ANOTHER classic in which I believe topped their Summerslam match. Their Summerslam match was really much about who could kick out of the most finishers and it was just big move after big move. This match had more of a story, as we saw Cena get frustrated early by the resiliency of AJ Styles. AJ, on the other hand resorted to what worked in his matches with Cena in the past and matched Cena blow for blow. Even though it was going at the pace that it was in their previous matches, the kickouts still had me shaking in my boots and it had my heart pumping very hard. Unbelievable. I also loved how they played up the finish to their match at Summerslam into the finish of the match and had Cena prevent it from happening again. Like, I’m still shaking writing about the match and it’s over.