Bill Wentz, Senior Columnist
Well, what can I say about this show?
This was by far WWE’s worst offering of 2013. This felt very “thrown together” after a well done string of events from Wrestlemania up through to SummerSlam. Where I felt WWE dropped the ball is that all of the focus has been on Triple H and his story as the “COO” and it’s smothering the rest of the card. Yes, eventually all of the face characters will get their revenge for the mistreatment to this point, but I wonder if the payoff will be enough to justify everything that we’ve seen so far.
Triple H’s promo was really confusing and for him to open the show with a long talking segment just felt “Raw Segment!” to me. And for a heel character, Hunter sure cut a babyface promo, then ended up battling with Heyman on the mic. I guess when Raw comes on tonight he’ll go back to being a dick, but no one will be shocked all that much. And why did they hold on to the “no interference” announcement until the pay per view?
I am supposed to care about Daniel Bryan winning last night. Bryan getting the title should be a huge moment and we sort of got it at SummerSlam. That didn’t happen last night even though the match was good. The live crowd sat on their hands a bit because they were waiting for the other shoe to drop (or in this case the familiar Motorhead chord to drop) so there wasn’t much live reaction to the change. I am assuming that tonight on Raw (as are many others) that Daniel Bryan will end up being stripped of the title with Triple H citing the “fast count” as the reason. Quite frankly, it’s hurting my interest going forward.
Changing gears to the other matches on the card, we got to see CM Punk get a measure of revenge on Paul Heyman, but not in full. Heyman’s antics were good and drew heat from the fans throughout the night. You have to suspend your disbelief and ignore the logic that Heyman could have just run off and lost by count-out. That aside the payoff was satisfying because they delivered the promise that Punk would get to Heyman. The jury is out on Ryback being a new “Heyman Guy” but he is someone who could really benefit from Heyman’s mic work and it might work out very well.
Rob Van Dam and Alberto Del Rio gave us a solid match that was worked well, but this finish was just lazy and weak. I hope to see something that continues this feud and makes me want to see a rematch, and this just didn’t give me that. RVD never was close to winning the title, and Del Rio holding on to the submission hold beyond the official’s count just seemed lame. Again, it doesn’t make me want to see this match another time but we’ll most likely be seeing it at “Battleground.”
From here, the undercard really felt like a “commercial free Raw” episode rather than a pay per view. The Turmoil match was decent enough to open up and the Prime Time Players got a win that felt more like they got lucky than worked hard to win. Later, the tag title match they competed in just felt very throwaway. Titus breaking out the whistle and the pick is just silly and doesn’t belong in the title match if you ask me. It screams undercard rather than championship material.
Miz and Fandango was just throwaway. The ladies exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations, but it felt like it belonged on Raw. Curtis Axel vs. Kofi Kingston was fine for an impromptu match and Axel proved how solid of a hand he is in the ring. Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler again felt like a Raw match that was solid yet unspectacular.
All in all, this was a very missable pay per view. Worst offering of the year from WWE.
Drew Koscelek, Editor in Chief
This show was a prime example of why people steal pay-per-views.
WWE did a poor job of building up the pay-per-view's undercard, and it showed. They hinged the entire card on two matches - CM Punk vs. Axel/Heyman, and Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan. If we ordered a two-match pay-per-view, then on those merits it would be a success, but certainly not worth $54.95.
CM Punk vs. Heyman ended predictably - with a run-in. I'll admit I'm disappointed it's still not Matt Morgan, but Ryback could use a mouthpiece, and he has the charisma to pull off what Axel has struggled with so far. Axel has done just fine in the ring, but he has yet to find his true character, and he's running out of time.
Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan was excellent, from top to bottom, but of course the finish was screwy. As I type this, Raw is on the air and Daniel Bryan has already been stripped of the title, but honestly, was anyone really surprised? They had to continue the story, and the ref taking the fall does the job. It's just sad that Daniel Bryan is the first champion in history to hold the WWE Title for less than 24 hours, two separate times.
The rest of the matches don't really have many points worth talking about. The Intercontinental Title match was good for something so impromptu, and there's no excuse, since it's NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS. Ambrose and Ziggler did just fine, but neither seemed to take it to the next level. I did enjoy the tag match between The Prime Time Players and The Shield. But, that was about it.
Skip the replay. Skip Battleground, too.