THE BEAST IN THE EAST
July 4, 2015
Chris Jericho . . . shows that he’s not ready hang things up quite yet.
Finn Balor . . . celebrates his sort-of-homecoming in the best way possible!
King Barrett . . . puts on a main event performance that’s worthy of curing insomnia.
CHRIS JERICHO vs. NEVILLE
Although this isn’t the most exciting match, it’s very well done for what it is. Jericho can’t “go” the same way that Neville can anymore, but, he doesn’t need to. He’s got much more experience, and is much more well rounded, than Neville, and that’s what ultimately makes the difference. Jericho keeping Neville grounded and working holds isn’t the most interesting thing to watch, but, Jericho gets across the idea that it’s serving a purpose, beyond eating up time. For his part, Neville does a nice job in showing how Jericho’s game plan is paying off, and, he makes the most his openings to take to the sky and show exactly why Jericho is trying to keep him caged.
The other thing that makes this work so well is that Jericho doesn’t make Neville look bad by taking his best shots and still standing, instead, he pulls off blocks and counters, like the rana counter into the Walls, and the finish with the Red Arrow hitting knees and Jericho needing to dust off the Liontamer in order to put Neville away. While there’s nothing wrong with Jericho beating Neville, especially with how the match played out, between the losses to Cena, Rollins, Barrett, Owens, and now Jericho, I have to wonder how many more high-profile losses can “The New Sensation” take before the sensation wears off. ***
NIKKI BELLA © vs. PAIGE vs. TAMINA (WWE Diva’s Title)
The intensity of the Nikki/Paige exchanges was nice, although between the frequent roll-ups, and the segment with Paige bumping for Nikki’s shoulder tackles in the corner before Nikki made contact, we’re reminded of exactly why the Diva’s division is in the state that it is. As far as structure and storytelling goes, this is the same three-way match that everyone else has, right down the superplex/power bomb spot with the person left on their feet (Tamina in the this case) trying for pins on both of the others. It looks like Tamina has things in the bag, but she misses the splash and Nikki gets the pin after the running forearm, which continues Nikki’s quest to break the record, and continues the Nikki/Paige issue.
BROCK LESNAR vs. KOFI KINGSTON
At first glance, Kofi seems like an awfully random person to feed to Brock. Given the recent TV angle where Brock gets laid out (which is even recapped here), someone from The Authority would seem to make more sense. But, then Kofi escapes the first German suplex and stuns Brock with a kick to more or less justify his existence. Kofi tries for too much, and Brock catches him and then takes him to suplex city. F-5 and good night Kofi!
KEVIN OWENS © vs. FINN BALOR (NXT Heavyweight Title)
If not for so many big moves being wasted toward the finish, then this would have been match of the night by a landslide. They tell the same basic story as Jericho and Neville, with Owens trying to keep Finn grounded, but, Owens’ personality and character is able to push the story forward much better than Jericho. It’s also refreshing to see them using clever blocks and counters on one another, especially Finn’s counter to the pop-up powerbomb, and the sequence on the top rope that eventually ended with Owens doing a super Finlay roll. Owens surviving the first diving stomp isn’t a big deal, considering Finn had pinned him with it in the tag match, so it stands to reason that he’s prepared to brace himself for it. But, there’s just no reason for spots like the Bloody Sunday and sleeper suplex to be trotted out as nothing more than time-killing near falls. Both Owens and Finn have plenty of spots in their repertoires to fill those voids that aren’t dangerous head drops. Hell, the finish sees Finn get fired up and wear down Owens with dropkicks before the second diving stomp does him in, so the head drops (and risk of injury) wind up being totally unnecessary. This was the perfect time, and perfect place, to switch the title. Finn’s win is treated like a huge deal, and, Owens continues his U.S. Title feud with Cena, and, hopefully, moves to bigger and better things. ***1/2
JOHN CENA/DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. KANE/KING BARRETT
Well, here’s one more reason to appreciate the existence of NXT. NXT can be used to wash away the painful memories and images of garbage like this. Barrett and Kane work over Dolph, then they work over Cena, then they work over Dolph some more, and, Cena tags in and beats Barrett with his usual stuff. That’s nearly twenty-five minutes summed up in one sentence. In a way it’s reminiscent of Misawa, he had no problem letting the young gun du jour tee off on him at will, before quickly finishing him off with a running, or rolling, elbow. But, at least Akiyama, Kea, Shiga, Morishima, etc. managed to be interesting and/or exciting while doing their thing. Barrett and Kane aren’t interesting in the least when working over the babyfaces, and even Dolph’s bumping and selling can’t make it work. It shows how little thought even went into things when Barrett hits a wicked kick to Cena’s midsection, and then neither he nor Kane even bothers to follows up. All four of them have shown to be good, but, this is so far away from being even watchable that it makes the Diva’s match look like Balor/Owens by comparison. For, not only the main event, but, also, the longest match of the show (by a decent margin), I expected a lot better.
Conclusion: If not for an insufferable main event, then this would be quite the nice show. Everyone seemed to be putting their best foot forward. I can still recommend it, just stop watching after the semi-main.