Bray Wyatt vs. Kane
As someone who's never been a fan of the 'Inferno match' I wasn't exactly looking forward to this. I expected the spectacle of it to be a bit cleaner looking and less distracting than before, and it was, but from a wrestling standpoint the match fell completely flat.
It was a match that's still left me undecided on Bray Wyatt's wrestling ability. There's no denying that he plays an engaging character, but straight off the bat he looked like more of a character wrestler than anyone else - someone who can play their character very well, but ultimately fails to deliver in the ring.
Bray Wyatt did that last night. While you could argue that such an outrageous stipulation was never going to show his strong points in his debut match, I still fell that I saw enough from him to get a grasp of his wrestling ability. It's not very good. It's slow, chunky, and last night he could seem to do anything with Kane.
His two associates weren't much good either, as they comically tried to get into the ring even though there was fire straight in front of them. Before trying the same thing over and over again in Homer-like fashion, they eventually found a way into the ring. Unfortunately they didn't seem to be able to make the match anymore exciting, and in the end the whole thing just fell flat. Maybe the stipulation was awkward for Bray, maybe Kane wasn't the best opponent for him, but so far his wrestling ability has proven to be less-than average. 2/10
Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow
While the feud between these two has been fairly hit and miss, I still had relativity high expectations for this. It was a match that was never going to get a whole lot of time, and I knew that, but it was still one I thoroughly enjoyed.
The grudge-like feel wasn't really there unfortunately, but while the match didn't have that aspect to it, it still had some solid action between two guys who were clearly eager to impress. Damien Sandow was in impressive form as he worked on the lower back of Cody Rhodes and controlled the match at a nice pace. Cody on the other hand, complimented that with a faster pace as he made his comeback multiple times, and performed some nice moves in the process. The match still could have been given more time, and could have been a really good match if given 5 more minutes, but overall both guys did a good job with what they had. 5/10
World Heavyweight Championship
Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian
Simply put, I've been loving Del Rio since winning the World title. There's not a whole lot different with him character-wise, but in terms of his wrestling his new found aggression has been a joy to watch. Last night was no exception as he put in a great performance against an on-game Christian. His work on the left arm of Christian was really good, and every one of Del Rio's kicks were vicious and with a purpose.
Christian was also quite impressive as well, as he sold the arm injury pretty well and meshed perfectly with Del Rio for the whole match. For a match that was only 12 minutes long they fit in so much good stuff without it feeling rushed. There was the focus on the injured arm of Christian, some really enjoyable back and forth sequences, and a highly entertaining final few moments of the match as well. Once again these two guys showed just how well they were together. 7/10
Natalya vs. Brie Bella
An excellent match here that had some outstanding psychology throughout and told a really engaging story regarding the hit TV show "Total Divas". Okay, only joking, I didn't watch this match. I quite literally used it as my toilet break. My friend told me it was a classic. I don't believe him. I probably shouldn't rate this match considering I didn't see it, but screw it, it just screamed 2/10. Who knows though, maybe it was a classic.
Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk
Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect from this match. Since Extreme Rules last year Lesnar changed his style a little bit. The guy that viciously assaulted John Cena at that PPV slowed things down a notch in his trilogy of matches with Triple H. And while I did enjoy those matches, things kind of felt like Lesnar was holding back compared to his match against Cena.
Thankfully though, the straight out and legit barbaric style wasn't exactly needed here, as him and Punk put on a highly engaging match. It wasn't unlike his matches with Triple H, but seemed to produce more drama and more high octane action which made it a fantastic watch.
I loved the way Lesnar toyed with Punk in the early goings of the match, before getting caught with knees and kicks to set the tone for the rest of the match. From there it became a really fun back and forth match that had some good storytelling and high drama thanks to the every consistent antics of Paul Heyman.
I wasn't a fan of Punk having Lesnar beat on one occasion, as I felt Lesnar needed to look as strong as possible in a match against someone like Punk, but overall that didn't take a whole lot away from the match. Easily one of the best matches Lesnar's ever had. 8/10
Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston & AJ Lee
A real filler type of match, but one which was still relatively enjoyable. 5 minutes was hardly a lot of time for all four involved, but they did make the most of it in the end. Big E especially was pretty impressive here, as his offensive on Ziggler was quick and explosive. This in turn complimented Ziggler when he made his fast-paced comeback in the match.
The women weren't given as much time as the men, so in that aspect everything felt a bit flat and under developed, but as a whole this was a decent filler match that could have been better given more time. 4/10
John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan
Where to start? Simply put, I loved this match. Thanks to the awesome buildup, and really hot crowd in the Staples Center, this match had truly great big match feel to it. It never stopped feeling as such either as right from the bell ring both guys put on a fantastic match which had the crowd behind every hold and strike.
I loved the way Bryan focused on every body part of Cena so that he'd open his left arm up for Bryan to later capitalize on. It wasn't the only bit of ground-based wrestling either, as Cena more than held his own on the mat. All this made for a perfectly paced bout which had some great spots and sequences laid out throughout.
The match also told a very good story of Cena keeping up with Bryan from a technical standpoint, resulting in Bryan eventually giving Cena a slap across the face, despite saying that he wouldn't heading into the match. What also felt good was that the story was just about them two, and not about Triple H or anyone else. They let both guys do their stuff in the ring before any sort of story development (which I'll get to later).
The match was't without it's slightly awkward parts though. There were a few moments that didn't come off quite as they probably intended, but any negative part was mostly overshadowed by the excellent work of both Bryan and Cena.
To have Bryan win clean and in the manner that he did was also a big plus, and the perfect way to finish off a tremendous match. 9/10
The aftermath was also extremely well played as despite all the talk of a Randy Orton cash-in, I truly thought that they were just going to given Bryan his moment of glory to close out the PPV. That wasn't the case though, as the referee that raised his hand gave him a Pedigree in a brilliant heel turn which saw Orton finally cash-in on Bryan.
People may be unhappy with the ending, but in the end we saw Daniel Bryan pin John Cena CLEAN, and also saw seeds being planted (hopefully) for the underdog Bryan chase after the corporate champion Randy Orton. And I for one, can't wait to see how it all plays out.