The John Report: WWE Backlash 2016 Review

wwe backlash 2016 main

It’s the first brand exclusive pay-per-view of WWE’s “new era” as Smackdown presents Backlash. They only had six matches announced for the show, which is pretty low for a main roster PPV event.

I didn’t see the Kickoff Show match, which saw Baron Corbin beat Apollo Crews. I may check it out later, but I may not. Here’s the review of the pay-per-view broadcast.

WWE Backlash
Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia
September 11, 2016

The show began with text about what happened on September 11, 2001. It was a brief message about freedom.

The Backlash video package featured Shane McMahon talking about new opportunities and new champions emerging. Then it focused on rivalries like Wyatt/Orton, Miz/Ziggler and in the end one leader will rise, which set up the Ambrose/Styles main event.

There was some pyro that went off by the stage. It’s the same stage they have every week on Raw and Smackdown now.

The Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon made his entrance to a big ovation. Then the Smackdown General Manager Daniel Bryan walked out. Both guys received huge ovations with Bryan leading the “yes” chants.

The Smackdown announce team of Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield and David Otunga were shown on camera. The Spanish announce team are also at ringside and so is the German announce team.

Shane welcomed us to Backlash. He thanked everybody for making Smackdown Live a success. He spoke about Smackdown’s ratings soaring, which is a huge stretch, but that’s how WWE works. Shane said they have given the red team all they can handle.

Bryan said they’re going to keep Team Blue’s momentum going tonight. He said they have two title defenses: The IC Title and the WWE Title. They’re also going to crowd the first ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions and the Women’s Six Pack Elimination Challenge match for the Women’s Title. He said that’s how they are kicking off the match.

Analysis: The show doesn’t have a lot of advertised matches, so they sent out Shane and Daniel to basically waste about five minutes telling us stuff we already know. Not much to it.

Order of the women entrances: Becky Lynch with a lot of cheers, Natalya backed by JBL as the favorite, Naomi has the most elaborate entrance with her glow in the dark outfit, Alexa Bliss in a Harley Quinn-like outfit to barely a reaction, Carmella entered to barely no reaction and then Nikki Bella was cheered heavily.

Smackdown Women’s Champion Six Pack Elimination Match: Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Carmella vs. Nikki Bella

Lynch and Naomi cleared the ring early on and then they faced off with Lynch working on the arm. Naomi kicked Lynch to knock her down, but then Lynch hit a back body drop over the top to take down Naomi. Carmella hit Lynch with a cheap shot followed by a handspring into a hurricanrana for a two count. Nikki faced off with Carmella, but Natalya and Bliss broke it up. Natalya sent Carmella into the guardrail. Bliss with knees to the ribs of Nikki for two. Nikki with a jumping kick off the middle rope. Bliss with a Code Red into a pinfall attempt for two. Natalya with a running dropkick to Bliss gets two. Lynch clotheslines for Bliss, then one for Natalya and a jumping side kick on Bliss. Lynch with a straight fire forearm on Bliss and Natalya with a German Suplex on Lynch. Naomi with a headscissors takedown, then Naomi did a Full Nelson Bomb. Bliss broke up a submission by Naomi on Natalya. Naomi sent Bliss out of the ring, then Carmella with a superkick on Naomi. Nikki tackled Carmella, then Carmella did a flatliner and went for the Code of Silence leg submission, but Nikki came back with an Alabama Slam for two. Good nearfall. They did a Tower of Doom spot out of the corner because WWE performers do that in nearly every multi-person match. It’s a good move, but they do it all the time. Bliss threw a fit because she couldn’t get a pinfall. Bliss hit a Code Red on Lynch for a two count. Carmella knocked down Nikki. Naomi sent Carmella out of the ring, then jumped to the top and hit a springboard crossbody block to take out the five women on the floor. That was very impressive. There was a double team spot out of the corner with Natalya holding Bliss on her shoulders and Naomi hit a Blockbuster. Naomi pinned Bliss. That was great.

Alexa Bliss eliminated by Naomi

Naomi sent Natalya out of the ring with a headscissors takedown. Naomi went for a springboard attack, but Nikki stopped her with a forearm smash to the face. Natalya sent Nikki into the turnbuckle. Natalya with a Sharpshooter and Naomi tapped out.

Naomi eliminated by Natalya

There are four women left. Natalya nailed Carmella with a clothesline and then Nikki hit a clothesline on Natalya. Nikki hit her fireman’s carry into a neckbreaker on Natalya for the win.

Natalya eliminated by Nikki Bella

Carmella did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Nikki with tights and of course it was good enough to get the pin.

Nikki Bella eliminated by Carmella

Carmella celebrated that elimination and then Nikki slapped her in the face. Carmella was yelling at Lynch. Lynch with three Bexploder Suplexes in a row. Carmella knocked her down with a kick. Carmella failed to capitalize, so Lynch took her down and applied the Disarmer submission. Carmella tapped out. It went 14 minutes.

Carmella eliminated by Becky Lynch

Winner by submission: Becky Lynch

Lynch celebrated with the title. The crowd was going wild for her.

Analysis: ***1/4 Great effort by the women. I thought the first part of the match before the eliminations was really well done. Then they rushed the eliminations a bit too much. It was still a very good match that was given a lot of time and told a few interesting stories. Good job by Carmella showing that she belongs in there. I was a little surprised that Nikki was pinned by something as common as the ROLLUP OF DEATH~!, but it was a bit cheap since Carmella was grabbing the tights when she did it too. I thought Nikki was going to win. When she lost, it was obvious they were going with Becky, which is fine with me. I’m glad they were given nearly 15 minutes because it makes the title mean more when it’s up for grabs in a competitive match like that.

Becky Lynch was in the ring with the Smackdown Women’s Title. She was interviewed in the ring. She said “thank you” to the crowd. She thanked them for believing in her every step of the way. She said it’s every poster, every time you chant for her, every time you sing her song and Lynch said it’s her first time holding one of these titles. “Becky Balboa, baby, we did it!” She was all smiles.

Analysis: A simple post match promo for the new Smackdown Women’s Champion. I’m not sure how coveted a championship is when there’s only six people in the “division” they are in, but at least Becky has the heart and character to make you believe in her.

A commercial aired for WWE Clash of Champions featuring the Raw brand on September 25. It’s on WWE Network, of course.

The Miz was backstage. He went up to a door backstage that said Jagger Eaton. He knocked on the door. It’s some kid. No idea who he is. Miz said this is his dressing room. The kid plugged his show on Nickelodeon saying he’d love to see Miz on the show unless they get John Cena. Miz was mad and the kid shut the door.

Analysis: I have no idea who that kid was and I don’t care either. I also can’t tell you who the better actor was. They were both bad to me.

The cameras cut to a backstage scene of Randy Orton’s right leg up against a door as Bray Wyatt was attacking him. A referee showed up to get Bray off him.

Analysis: Earlier in the day, there were reports online that Orton isn’t cleared due to a concussion from SummerSlam against Brock Lesnar. This is a way to write him out of the match.

The Usos made their entrance. They have different ring gear that’s black with white shoes instead of their usual more colorful outfits. No Usos chant for their entrance either. Clips were aired of The Usos injuring Chad Gable on Smackdown last week. Otunga said The Usos shouldn’t be rewarded for their poor sportsmanship. Fair point.

Analysis: It’s good that they changed their look. They shouldn’t look the same after a turn. I wish more wrestlers changed things after they turned.

Tag Team Tournament Second Chance Match: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) vs. Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley)

The Hype Bros got some offense in early. If you had trouble telling the Usos apart in the past, Jimmy’s wearing a black shirt during the match while Jey is shirtless, so that should help people. Ryder nailed a running dropkick to send both guys down outside the ring. Then Ryder hit a missile dropkick off the apron to knock down Jimmy on the floor. Rawley did a full speed shoulder tackle to knock down both Usos outside the ring. The Usos got the advantage when they did a blind tag spot and Jimmy tossed Ryder out of the ring. They sent Ryder to the floor and took control of the match. Quick tags by The Usos as they worked on Ryder. Jimmy hit a nice spinning roundhouse kick. Jey with a running hip attack on Ryder in the corner. Ryder came back with a neckbreaker. Jimmy nailed Rawley with a kick to prevent a hot tag. Ryder fought his way out of the corner by sending both Usos out of the ring. Hot tag to Rawley, who nailed Jey with a clothesline, corner splash and he did a military press slam on Jey. Ryder tagged, but Jimmy prevented a double team move. Jey and Ryder battled on the turnbuckle with Ryder hitting a Frankensteiner for two as Jimmy made the save. Rawley missed a charge on the floor as Jimmy sent him into the barricade. Ryder with a Broski Boot on Jimmy on the floor, but then Jey hit a chop block to Ryder’s left knee. Jey did a jumping kick to the knee of Ryder. Jimmy applied a single leg crab with an arm grapevine and Ryder tapped out. The match went 10 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Usos

Analysis: ** It was a pretty basic tag match with a predictable outcome. I’m not surprised by that result. It was the most predictable result on the show in terms of advertised matches. The Usos did a great job of being heels that were crafty in terms of how they got the win. It was a pretty ruthless attack on the knee to get the fall too. I’ve written about so many Usos matches over the years where they did the same things as a top face team, yet now they changed it up and it’s so refreshing. I’m excited to see them as heels. They’re great performers that needed a change like this. As for Ryder/Rawley, they’re a solid team. There are just better teams on Smackdown at this point.

The Usos face Rhyno and Heath Slater for the Tag Team Titles later on the show.

Rhyno and Slater were interviewed by Renee Young backstage. Slater said he feels like $100,000 right now. He tapped Rhyno on the shoulder and said nothing can stop a rhino. Slater thanked her for the interview and acted like it was over. Slater shook Renee’s hand. Slater talked about some crab dip he had that made him have an upset stomach. Rhyno told him they’re still live. Slater said “you’ve been swerved” as he acted like he knew it was still live. Slater acted like he farted and ended up leaving. Renee left too so Rhyno was alone.

Analysis: It’s a comedy team in some ways, so they try to do comedy bits. This was just an average comedy bit.

A video aired about WWE’s work with Connor’s Cure for Pediatric Cancer month.

A commercial aired about the Cruiserweight Classic semifinals and finals this Wednesday 9pmET on WWE Network – a two-hour broadcast. It’s Kota Ibushi vs. TJ Perkins and Gran Metalik vs. Zack Sabre Jr. It should be awesome. I thought Ibushi or Sabre would win, but since neither man apparently has a WWE deal while the other two guys do, I think it may be Perkins that gets the win. Fine with me because he’s great too. I’ll have a review up after the show is over for that too.

There was a video package to set up The Miz and Dolph Ziggler feuding for the Intercontinental Title.

The Miz was shown backstage with wife Maryse talking to GM Daniel Bryan. Ziggler already entered the ring at this point. Miz said the IC Title is the most prestigious title that Smackdown has. He said that Smackdown Live needs the IC Championship, which means they need him and he wants to re-negotiate his contract. Miz said he wants to be paid like the A-Lister that he is. Bryan said nothing back to him. Miz told Bryan to watch Miz do what Bryan can’t do anymore. Bryan was frustrated, but just said nothing.

Analysis: They keep pushing this Miz/Bryan angle even though there isn’t likely going to be a payoff since Bryan is retired. I doubt that’s going to change. Concussion problems just don’t go away. I’m not sure where the angle is going, but I do like it in the sense that it feels more real than some of the more scripted stuff we see on WWE television.

As Maryse and Miz made their entrance, they showed other announcers in the arena that commentate on the show in Russian, Portuguese and Japanese. Funaki is the number one announcer.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Dolph Ziggler

As the match begins, I have to point out Maryse looks as incredible as ever. Her return to WWE has helped Miz a lot too. Miz charged in, Ziggler did a double leg takedown, tripped him up and punched him. Ziggler went for a submission, but Miz bailed to the floor. That looked similar to CM Punk’s UFC loss on Saturday. It wouldn’t shock me if they were going for a parody of that. Miz had brief control, Ziggler came back with dropkicks and then Miz slowed him down by sending him throat first into the ropes. When Ziggler tried to come back, Miz sent Ziggler out of the ring with a slingshot. Miz with a dropkick and he sent Ziggler into the barricade, which earned a two count in the ring. Ziggler tried a comeback, but then he missed a running attack. Ziggler took the bump hard in the corner. Miz did an inverted surfboard submission as Otunga noted it was from Daniel Bryan’s playbook. He didn’t apply it as well as Bryan. Miz hit three running dropkicks in a row similar to what Bryan used to do as well. Miz mocked the “yes” chant and hit his corner clothesline. Double axehandle off the top by Miz. Ziggler came back with a surprise rollup and then a perfect dropkick to knock Miz down. Ziggler with clotheslines, a corner splash, swinging neckbreaker, a double leg takedown, elbow drop and that’s good for two. Ziggler with a sunset flip rollup for two. Miz missed a corner charge, hit the turnbuckle hard, then he caught Ziggler and turned it into a sitout Powerbomb out of the corner. Both guys were down.

Miz worked over the knee of Ziggler, but Ziggler kicked the shoulder, then Ziggler kicked the knee and Ziggler hit the Fameasser for two. That’s always one of the best nearfalls in WWE. Ziggler with a sleeper hold. The announcers trying to put this over as a legit finisher is a bit silly, but they are trying. Miz broke free by sending Ziggler into the turnbuckle. Maryse talked to her husband to get him going again. More camera shots of her would be welcome. Ziggler with a leaping DDT for two. Ziggler was favoring the left leg as he set up the superkick, but Miz blocked it and hit a snap DDT. Miz applied the Figure Four Leglock in the middle of the ring with the crowd chanting “Woo” like Ric Flair. Ziggler did a great job of selling it and he got to the ropes after about 30 seconds of being in the hold. Miz with a running boot to the face. When Miz went for another Figure Four, Ziggler kicked away, then Miz walked right into a Superkick by Ziggler. One…two…no because Miz got his left leg on the bottom rope. Awesome nearfall right there. Miz left the ring, Ziggler followed him out there as the referee counted them out, so Ziggler brought Miz back in the ring. Maryse yelled at Ziggler, then both guys got rollups in the ring. Miz kicked Ziggler back so that Ziggler had his head against the ropes while the ref was looking at Miz. That led to Maryse spraying Ziggler in the face with some sort of object. Ziggler was blinded, so Miz capitalized with the Skull Crushing Finale for the win after 19 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: The Miz

Post match, Miz celebrated with the title and his wife while Ziggler was grabbing his face as a way to sell the spray attack from Maryse. I also noted a “Punk Got Punk’d” sign in the crowd.

Analysis: ***1/2 A very good match between two guys that know eachother very well. The familiarity helped because they were able to tell an interesting story within the match without making it feel repetitive. There are times when Miz matches get boring, but this one was good. It helped that they got nearly 20 minutes to tell a story. That’s why I talk about match time so much. There are so many good performers in WWE that if they get time they are going to deliver a quality match like this. A lot of times on WWE PPVs, Miz gets one of the shorter matches and it doesn’t allow him to stand out. In this case, he made the most of the time with a very good match. Ziggler continues to be the guy that’s capable of good matches all the time, yet he seems to come up short a lot of the time. The finish was a really way cheap to end it, which is fine for a true heel like Miz. The dreaded “spray in the eye” finish is something that women managers have been doing for decades. It will always work. There were a few interesting spots in the match with Miz mocking Daniel Bryan too. Miz is on a roll at this point in his career.

The Backlash Kickoff Panel of Renee Young, Jerry Lawler, Booker T and Lita discussed things on the show.

A clip aired of Baron Corbin beating Apollo Crews with the End of Days on the Kickoff Show earlier in the night.

Bray Wyatt made his entrance as they showed a clip of his attack on Randy Orton earlier in the night.

Wyatt told the referee to ring the bell. The ring announcer Greg Hamilton was handed a note. He said that Wyatt has asked the referee to count to ten to give Wyatt the victory by forfeit. Referee Charles Robinson did the ten count with the crowd chanting along. Wyatt officially beat Orton by forfeit. Wyatt was yelling: “This is what gods do.” Wyatt had his hand raised by Robinson. It was announced that Wyatt will have a No Holds Barred match against this man. It’s Kane.

There was a pretty good reaction for Kane for his entrance. He hasn’t been used much since the brand split, but it makes sense that they would pick him to replace Orton.

Analysis: I was really looking forward to Wyatt vs. Orton because it’s a fresh feud. I’m not as thrilled about a Kane match, but WWE had to do something and he is a suitable replacement just based on his history in the business. There’s also some history between Wyatt and Kane as well.

No Holds Barred: Bray Wyatt vs. Kane

They brawled early on with Kane getting the advantage. When they got out of the ring, Kane cleared off the Spanish announce table. Wyatt hit him in the face with the ring bell to slow him down a bit. Kane avoided a chair attack with punch to the jaw. Back in the ring, Wyatt hit a running cross body block. Wyatt hit Kane in the leg with a chair to give him control of the match. Wyatt hit Kane in the back with a couple of chair shots. Kane came back with a DDT that was “on the chair” sort of. It’s sad that a move like that barely gets a crowd reaction. Kane hit his usual moves including the clotheslines, a sidewalk slam and he wanted a Chokeslam, but Wyatt fought out of it by sending Kane to the floor. Kane pulled him outside the ring and Wyatt came back with a hard clothesline. Wyatt put Kane on the Spanish announce table. Then Wyatt climbed onto the English announce table, ran across it and drove Kane through it with a running senton splash. Crowd chanted “holy shit” for it. That looked pretty cool. Ranallo was freaking out on commentary for it. Back in the ring, Wyatt stalled for a long time. Kane avoided Sister Abigail and hit a Chokeslam for a two count. Wyatt with a uranage one armed slam on the chair gets two. That should be his finishing move.

Randy Orton limped out to the ring. He had his right leg taped up. Kane got back to his feet, Wyatt looked at him, Orton slipped into the ring and Orton hit a RKO on Wyatt. It’s No Holds Barred, so no disqualification for that. Kane hit Wyatt with a Chokeslam for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Kane

Analysis: **1/4 I didn’t like the finish that much, but I know why they did it because they wanted Orton to get revenge to keep the feud going. I’m sure they’ll probably do this match again (possibly on Tuesday) with Wyatt getting his win back. It was a physical match that saw them using props to tell a story because there was no storyline going into the match. The table bump looked really good. That’s a smart thing to do because it made the crowd care about this match. If they had a regular match it could have been poor. At least they were able to use the stipulation to make it more interesting. Is it smart to put the nearly 50-year-old guy over the guy that’s 20 years younger? I don’t think so, but the story was more about continuing the Wyatt/Orton feud. I assume we’ll get Wyatt vs. Orton at No Mercy next month.

AJ Styles was shown walking backstage. Two unnamed wrestlers were there. They are in their wrestling gear for some reason. Styles said he knows where those guys are at in their career because they are trying to get booked into indy shows. Styles said those guys are destined for failure. He told them that they can say they met the face that runs the place. Styles told them they can say they met the Phenomenal AJ Styles on the night he became WWE World Champion.

Analysis: It was just a way to show that AJ is cocky. It is also worth nothing that Styles said “WWE World Champion” because they don’t say “WWE World Heavyweight Champion” anymore. I’m not sure why other than WWE tends to change their mind about certain things in terms of how they name titles. Why are unnamed guys in their ring gear? We may never know.

There was a commercial for WWE Network shows including Raw’s Clash of Champions on September 25.

They advertised No Mercy on October 9. That’s the next Smackdown pay-per-view.

The new Smackdown Tag Team Titles were at ringside. The Usos made their entrance first followed by Slater and Rhyno. Slater and Rhyno come out to Slater’s “one-man band” song. A weird song for a tag team. Crowd loves these guys, which shows what can happen when a character is booked well and given a chance to perform. The story is that Slater has to win the titles in order to win a Smackdown contract.

Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno

The crowd was strongly behind Slater and Rhyno. Jey nailed Slater with a headbutt to the stomach to send him out of the ring. The Usos did a double suplex into the ring post as well as Jey hitting a superkick. Jimmy got a nearfall. Quick tags by The Usos as they worked over Slater to keep him from tagging out. Slater got his feet up to stop a corner charge from Jey. Jimmy tagged in and whipped Slater into the corner. When Jey got in there again, he hit a belly to back suplex for a two count. Slater came close to making the tag, but Jey slammed him down again. As The Usos were in control, JBL put them over as the best team in WWE for several years, which is true although the team did become stale. That’s why they turned heel. Slater and Jey did a double cross body block spot, so that freed up Slater to tag in Rhyno against Jimmy. Rhyno with a leaping shoulder tackle on Jimmy followed by a belly to belly suplex. Rhyno set up for a Gore, but Jimmy avoided it and sent Rhyno into the corner. Slater tagged in and hit neckbreakers on both Usos. The crowd was fired up. Slater hit an Edgecution like DDT for a two count as Jey pulled Slater out of the ring. Slater knocked down Jey with a punch, but then Jimmy nailed a superkick on Slater. When Jimmy turned around, Rhyno nailed him with a Gore. Slater covered for the one, two and three. There’s the win after 10 minutes.

Winners by pinfall and New Smackdown Tag Team Champions: Heath Slater & Rhyno

Post match, Slater and Rhyno held the tag titles. They hugged in the ring. Then they celebrated with the titles. The crowd was really happy for them.

Analysis: **3/4 That was a cool moment to cap off a good tag team match. They followed the tag team formula well with the heels working over Slater for much of it, Rhyno getting the hot tag and going to the finish soon after. It was smart to have Slater get the pin after Rhyno hit the move because it fits this team. I picked Slater & Rhyno because I thought they need to pay off the “free agent” storyline they had going with Slater for the past two months. I realize that they could have done something where The Usos win and Shane/Daniel give Slater a deal for coming close, but I like this way better. I think The Usos will win the titles soon whether it’s one month or two months. The long term main tag team feud on Smackdown will be Usos vs. American Alpha, so that feud will likely pick up soon. For now, this was a fun moment for the face team of Slater and Rhyno.

Post match, Slater and Rhyno were interviewed in the ring. Slater let out a celebratory yell. He said when he wasn’t drafted that there had to be a mistake, so he thanked Shane and Daniel for letting him join the tournament with his buddy Rhyno. Slater said it was one of the biggest moments of his life, “besides a couple of my kids being born.” That was funny. “Yo Beulah, we’re getting a double wide baby!” That’s it.

Analysis: I’m genuinely happy for Slater not just because he won tag titles, but it’s the character development. He was booked like a joke for a few years. This brand split has helped him a lot and I’m glad things are going well for him because he’s been a consistently good worker for many years.

They aired that awful KFC commercial featuring Ziggler and Miz. At least my favorite Maryse wasn’t involved in it.

A graphic mentioned Clash of Champions on WWE Network on September 25 presented by the Raw brand. They advertised Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks, but there are rumors that the match could be changed.

The show is at the two-hour mark as they set up the main event. It’s only a six match show not counting the Kickoff match.

A video package aired to set up Ambrose vs. Styles. I thought the build for this match was pretty poor. They could have done more than what they did. It was a bit too silly. With that said, they are good performers, so all that really matters is what they do for the match.

Styles made his entrance. The crowd cheered at the sound of his theme song and his entrance. Styles wore the John Cena “Never Give Up” arm band on his head as he got into the ring.

Analysis: No Cena on the PPV even though he’s not hurt. They just chose to kept him out. He was working live events with the Raw crew this past weekend in London and Manila. Cena’s going to be out of action in March due to filming the TV show American Grit. I’m not sure when he might be back on Smackdown.

The WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose made his entrance. A very good reaction for him like usual.

WWE World Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles

There was a feeling out process early on with neither guy getting the advantage. Styles ended up slowing him down with a forearm shot. Ambrose came back with some offense, looked to hit a dive outside the ring, but Styles tripped him up. Otunga just said Ambrose was “unpredictable” and that he “never does the same thing twice” even though Ambrose is like every wrestler that does the same moves in every match. Ambrose is very basic as a wrestler, yet they try to get over the idea that he’s unpredictable. Styles put a headlock on, then said he’s taking the World Title home with him. Styles hit a great looking dropkick for a two count. Ambrose tried a comeback as he tossed Styles into the turnbuckle and went for a charge, but Styles moved. Ambrose hit the post shoulder first. Styles went for a corner charge, Ambrose moved and they battled on the top rope. Ambrose went for a back suplex off the top, so Ambrose countered by flipping over to his stomach. Both guys were down in the ring.

They got back to their feet, Ambrose with forearms and a running clothesline. Ambrose caught Styles in his arms and hit a spinning backbreaker for two. At least that’s a move that Ambrose doesn’t usually do. Styles bailed to the floor, so Ambrose went up top and hit his flying elbow attack to knock Styles down outside the ring. Back in the ring, Ambrose picked up Styles by the arms and slammed him face first for a two count. Ambrose went up top, Styles went after him, they each went for holds and Styles gave him suplex into the turnbuckle. Nice move there. Styles went for a springboard attack, Ambrose moved, went for Dirty Deeds, but Styles got out, grabbed his leg and drove Ambrose’s left leg into the mat. Styles worked on the leg of Ambrose, but Ambrose kicked himself free. Fans were cheering for both guys. Styles applied the Calf Crusher submission in the middle of the ring. Ambrose tried to fight it. He crawled over to the bottom rope and broke the hold after about 20 seconds. Styles applied the Calf Crusher submission again. Ambrose broke it by slamming Styles’ head into the mat repeatedly. They were both down again.

Styles with a kick to the leg. Ambrose avoided the Styles Clash, so Styles hit a jump kick to the head. They fought on the apron. Styles wanted a move, Ambrose countered it and sent Styles into the ring post with a slingshot. That was very creative. Ambrose followed up with a clothesline into the barricade. Back in the ring, forearm shot by Ambrose, then a running bulldog and a cradle gets two. Ambrose was selling the knee after that, but he didn’t sell it much while doing the moves. Styles came back with quick strikes followed by a clothesline and then the fireman’s carry into the neckbreaker for two. Ambrose fought out of the Styles Clash attempt with a back body drop. Styles put him on his shoulders and hit a spin out Powerbomb for a two count. Another great move from Styles. Styles slammed him down and said “let’s see if he gets up from this one.” Styles hit a springboard 450 splash. Ambrose kicked out at two. Styles was shocked that he kicked out. Ambrose with a neckbreaker as the announcers put over how tough it is to put away Ambrose. There was some booing as Ambrose hit some knee strikes. Not a lot, but I could hear it. Ambrose with a running dropkick. Ambrose with a suicide dive sent Styles over the announce table and Styles went crashing into JBL. Ambrose tossed Styles over the barricade at ringside. Ambrose ran across the announce tables and jumped over the barricade with a forearm attack. That was a cool spot and the crowd was fired up for Ambrose. They were chanting “this is awesome.” Back in the ring, Styles with a Pele Kick and Ambrose hit the Lunatic Lariat with Styles selling it perfectly with a flip bump. Ambrose wanted Dirty Deeds, Styles shoved him off and Ambrose bump into the ref Mike Chioda. Styles realized it immediately, so he kicked Ambrose in the groin. Styles picked up Ambrose and hit the Styles Clash. The ref was back to his feet. Pinfall by Styles gets one…two…three. Styles wins the WWE Championship! The crowd chanted along with the pinfall and many of them were cheering. The match went 25 minutes.

Winner by pinfall and New WWE World Champion: AJ Styles

Analysis: ****1/4 Yes! Love it. Great match to crown the new WWE World Champion AJ Styles, who is also the best performer in WWE. There are others that are great, but I think Styles is ahead of the pack by a fair bit. The match was one of the longest WWE Title matches this year, which helped them tell an interesting story. Styles dominated the first part of it, Ambrose showed babyface fire in coming back and the last ten minutes were outstanding. The crowd was really into the match too. I don’t think the ref bump was a bad thing because it played into the finish. The story was that Styles was unable to beat him with all of his moves, so then when he saw the ref was bumped, he took advantage with the low blow. It fits the heel character of Styles to cheat in that situation. This was Ambrose’s best singles match in a long time, probably since the Triple H match at Roadblock earlier in the year. As for Styles, he does it all the time. That’s why he’s the best. They’ll probably do a rematch at No Mercy next month, which his fine with me. Make it a gimmick match so that it has a different feel than this one.

They aired replays of the finish of the match.

Styles went up the ramp with the WWE Title. He held up the WWE Title while JBL put it over as a special championship match. Ambrose was in the ring still feeling the effects of the kick to the groin. Styles smiled with the WWE Title on his shoulder and that’s the end of the show.

Analysis: I’m excited about Styles’ future as WWE Champion. I really hope he gets a long reign with the title because he can have great matches with anybody. Last week I wrote a fantasy booking column about Styles carrying the WWE Title all the way to WrestleMania with ideas on how they can book the PPVs until then. Will he hold it for that long? No idea. I just think it would work well.

The run time of the show was 2 hours, 37 minutes and 54 seconds. That’s the shortest WWE main roster PPV show in a long time. Is it a bad thing? No. I don’t think so. There’s so much weekly WWE content that I welcome a show going under three hours. Plus, it’s a part of WWE Network. It’s not like we’re paying $50 for it like we used to pay for PPVs. Back in those days if a PPV was done “early” like this people would complain. In the WWE Network era, I don’t think it’s a problem at all.

Five Stars of the Show

1. AJ Styles

2. Dean Ambrose

3. The Miz

4. Dolph Ziggler

5. (tie) Becky Lynch

5. (tie) Heath Slater & Rhyno

Seven people? Sure. They deserve it.

Final Thoughts

It gets a 7.5 out of 10 from me.

It was a good show that I enjoyed for the most part. Could it have used more matches? Maybe, but if they did have more matches then perhaps it would have hurt the rest of the card. They could have moved Crews vs. Corbin onto the main three hour broadcast if they wanted to and it would have made the show run three hours. I just think they wanted to have something on the Kickoff Show.

The main event was really good for a number of reasons. The performers are great, the action was nonstop and the guy that won the WWE Title for the first time is very deserving of the most coveted prize in WWE. I’m so happy for AJ Styles. I wish he was in WWE earlier than he was, but the fact that he’s there now and is in a top sot is a great thing for the wrestling business.

Regarding the new titles, WWE chose to put over face wrestlers with Becky Lynch winning the Smackdown Women’s Title and Heath Slater/Rhyno winning the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Since heel wrestlers like Styles and Miz are holding other titles, I guess that’s why they wanted face wrestlers to win the other titles.

If you missed the show, my advice is to watch the main event for sure. Most of the other matches were pretty good. There was nothing on the show that was bad, which is why it gets a 7.5 out of 10 score and it’s one of the better PPVs this year.

WWE PPV Rankings In 2016 So Far

Money in the Bank – 8

Battleground – 8

Payback – 7.5

Backlash – 7.5

Royal Rumble – 7.5

SummerSlam – 7

Extreme Rules – 7

WrestleMania 32 – 6

Fastlane – 6


Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays. Go Los Angeles Rams.

John Canton –

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