Venue: Staples Center (Los Angeles, CA)
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As someone who has transitioned to a “Red Zone Channel Only” viewer for watching NFL games and hasn’t watched a complete Fox Sports broadcast besides a Super Bowl, US Open or occasional Pac-12 game in many years, my first thought watching this show was commercials, commercials and then some more commercials.
The Progressive brings you this, Snickers brings you that or the Ghost Recon brings you the main event within the context of a sports show is fine and expected. But wow did this show have absolutely zero flow and consequence to it (except turning the WWE into the UFC relics tour). Maybe that’s the mistake of trying to make it a hybrid debut show/go home show on a network that cares about one thing: commercial space.
First thought of the new set was that it’s sort of a reorganized Stonehenge vibe. Someone in the graphics department probably told Vince that they have to do a three-dimensional thing to get the millennial audience and he was probably like sure, let’s give it a shot.
It’s cool and different but it’ll take some getting used to.
The Rock cut a promo using all his catchphrases and the LA crowd ate it up. Becky got a bit of heat transference off it, so I guess it worked. It turned Baron Corbin—who had been working to recover from that disastrous Seth Rollins/Becky Lynch/Lacey Evans stuff back into something legitimately imposing—back into comedic fodder, so oh well on that front. But The Rock is The Rock. He’s miles ahead charisma wise than anyone on the current roster, so let him have the mic and jazz up a crowd that adores him. That’s fine.
There was the Becky Lynch and Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks and Bayley match that was not nearly as long and not quite as good as the one we saw at the MSG Raw.
Ramblin Rabbit died again. The Fiend attacked Seth Rollins again.
Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon did some expected spots. Shane lost and was fired. It’s OK to keep him off TV for a few months. Bring him back for Mania season.
There was a quick house show-esque four-on-four battle in which Braun Strowman did his usual big moves. Everyone else in the match can at least say they were out there. Tyson Fury got some air time and pretended to be unhappy.
As soon as they announced that Roman Reigns was going to be in a Lumberjack Match, you knew that jump over the top rope was coming.
And then we get to the oh man spot: Brock Lesnar’s one F-5 on Kofi Kingston in a flash victory to become the new WWE champion. Somehow, they had even more of a nothing match than they did at Beast in the East, which almost didn’t seem possible. I was expecting a 2014 Summerslam Brock destruction of John Cena-type of match but they didn’t even give Kofi a chance to build to a brief but futile spark fire up moment.
Initially, I thought Cain Velasquez was Dominick with a shaved head when he first came out with Rey Mysterio. Does this guy have an aura? Why should any WWE fans care about him? Obviously, there is a backstory there. It will be interesting to see how far WWE decides to acknowledge the UFC side of their past on its programming.
Overall, this was clearly a very Fox-dictated show. Wanting Brock as champion is understandable. But this show felt unfulfilling and underwhelming in most respects.
There are still only three matches announced for the Hell In a Cell card on Sunday. They all should be good, and the two cell matches have the potential to be great. But right now, everything is in sort of a holding pattern until the rosters get shaken up next week. Plus, there’s the whole Crown Jewel dynamic added in as well. It’s going to be a weird month.