Joe Louis Arena – Detroit, Michigan – Sunday, September 15, 2013
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler, and JBL are on commentary.
KICKOFF MATCH: Tag Team Turmoil – The Usos vs. Prime Time Players vs. Tons of Funk vs. Real Americans vs. 3MB
It’s Brodus Clay of Tons of Fun starting the match with Heath Slater, who is joined by his partner for the evening, Drew McIntyre. The 3MB sends Tensai to the floor and McIntyre follows him out with a dive. Back in the ring McIntyre keeps up the pressure but falls victim to a schoolboy rollup and the 3MB team is gone at 1:32. Next up is the Real Americans, and the DVD is clipped to a later point closer to when Swagger puts Clay in the Ankle Lock and gets him to tap out at 2:48 (shown). Jimmy and Jey, The Usos, are the third team out. They charge into battle and send the Real Americans to the floor, and then wipe them out with dives. Back in the ring the Usos continue to keep the momentum on their side, but the Americans are able to cut them off. We clip ahead to one of the Usos jumping off the top rope and getting caught in the Patriot Lock, tapping out at 4:27 (shown). The Prime Time Players come out next and they’re the last team. Titus O’Neil is all fired up, throwing Swagger around the ring. Swagger goes low with a clip and then puts on the Patriot Lock. Darren Young saves his partner and then dumps Cesaro to the floor. O’Neil makes the hot tag and Young charges right into the Patriot Lock! Young escapes and hits the Gut Check to get the pin at 6:18 (shown). The full version is just over 10 minutes I’m not sure why they had to clip down those four minutes for the DVD, but everyone was going all out the entire time and it was certainly fun while it lasted.
MATCH #1: Intercontinental Championship Match – Curtis Axel vs. Kofi Kingston
This match wasn’t scheduled ahead of time, but since Axel and Paul Heyman annoyed Triple H by trying to get their match against CM Punk cancelled, HHH said Axel would have to defend the title against the first person he ran into backstage. Way to make that Intercontinental Title seem important. Axel has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is his fourth defense. Kingston is a former four-time IC Champion.
They start off slowly, chain wrestling back and forth. Despite the way he has been booked for years, the crowd is vocally behind Kofi Kingston. Axel is struggling to get going in the opening minutes, which makes sense given that he didn’t know this match was going to happen. Kingston keeps Axel reeling, but the IC Champ is able to make a comeback with a dropkick. Axel then clotheslines Kingston to the floor to grain a short breather. He goes outside and tries to whip Kingston into the steps, but Kingston jumps up onto the apron and to the top rope to wipe Axel out with a cross body block. Back in the ring Kingston tries going up top again but Axel knocks him down. Axel is able to ground Kingston and work him over, all while the crowd tries to will the challenger back into control. Kingston gives them their wish by hitting a DDT. Both men are down. Back on their feet Kingston starts BUILDING MOMENTUM, flying all around the ring. Kingston hits the Boom Drop and signals for Trouble in Paradise. Axel ducks it and rams Kingston into the corner. Kingston catches a charging Axel with boots to the face. He goes up top for another cross body block but Axel cuts him out of the air with a dropkick for two. A series of reversals ends with Kingston hitting the SOS for a very close near-fall. Kingston gets on Axel’s shoulders for a victory roll but Axel drops him right on the top rope. Axel then hits the Axehole to get the pin at 13:53. That was perfectly solid and the crowd was into it, so imagine how much they would have cared if WWE had spent any of the ridiculous amount of TV hours they have in building up an actual feud between these two and making the belt seem important. A boy can dream can’t he?
MATCH #2: Fatal Four Way Match for the Divas Championship – AJ Lee vs. Natalya vs. Naomi vs. Brie Bella
AJ has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is her third defense. The Total Divas all chase after the Champion at the start, and they take turns throwing her into the barricade at ringside. Brie is the first one to turn, taking Naomi and Natalya down with clotheslines. She sends Natalya to the floor, and then turns her attention to Naomi. A nice back and forth exchange ends with Naomi and Brie bonking heads and knocking each other down. AJ and Natalya get back in the ring and go at it until Naomi takes both of them down with the Rear View. The action stays fast and furious, with AJ trying to clear the ring long enough to put one of her challengers away. The opposite of that ends up happening, as the three Total Divas are in the ring with AJ recovering on the floor. Natalya gets Brie and Naomi in the double Sharpshooter, and AJ breaks it up with a kick to the head. AJ locks Natalya in the Black Widow and forces her to tap out at 5:35. That actually had plenty more juice in it and could have gone longer. AJ looks like a world-beater, but the other Divas got (brief) moments to shine as well.
MATCH #3: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam
Del Rio has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is his third defense. They start with the usual back and forth, with Del Rio scoring first but RVD scoring more in the early going. RVD sends Del Rio to the floor and takes him out with a moonsault off the apron. He drapes Del Rio across the barricade and hits the spinning leg drop. They battle on the apron and Del Rio is able to snap RVD’s neck off the top rope. Del Rio surprises with a dive of his own. Back in the ring Del Rio starts picking RVD apart, especially focusing on the neck and head area. Del Rio goes for another dive to the floor but this time he misses. That gives RVD the chance to capitalize. RVD hits the slingshot legdrop on the apron and then the top-rope thrust kick. He goes for Rolling Thunder but Del Rio gets up and hits the Backstabber for two. Del Rio brings RVD up to the top rope but it backfires. RVD knocks Del Rio back and follows him down with a somersault senton for a two-count. Del Rio catches RVD with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and then a double stomp to the back for two. He goes for the Cross Armbreaker but RVD slips out and gets a rollup for two. RVD slams Del Rio down and hits the split-legged moonsault for a near-fall. Del Rio pops up and hits an Armbreaker and then a low Superkick for two. He goes up top and jumps right into a spin kick. RVD hits a legdrop and then goes up top. He hits nothing but knees on the Five-Star Frog Splash, and Del Rio locks on the Cross Armbreaker. RVD reaches the ropes but Del Rio won’t break the hold and gets disqualified at 13:23. The match was a fine contest, but that finish on pay-per-view can blow me. RVD gets some of his heat back after the bell when Ricardo rescues him and then helps him hit the Van Terminator.
MATCH #4: The Miz vs. Fandango
This feud is based on silly shenanigans. They go back and forth and stuff, apparently in a competition to see who can bore the crowd more. I mean no disrespect, as I actually think both guys in this match are talented, but they are booked so poorly that why would anyone care about them? Fandango seizes control and keeps Miz on the ground in a variety of ways. Miz comes back and sends Fandango to the floor. He tries a dive from the apron but Fandango catches him with a kick to the midsection on the way down. Back in the ring Fandango covers for two. The back and forth continues, but Fandango controls more of the match by working Miz’s arm. Fandango goes up for the guillotine legdrop but Miz avoids it. Miz covers for two. Fandango cradles Miz for a two-count. Miz then puts Fandango in the Figure-Four Leglock to get the win at 7:48. That felt like a TV match, and not even a RAW match but like a SmackDown match. Yikes.
MATCH #5: No Disqualification Elimination Handicap Match – CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman
Punk and Axel start off swinging their respective kendo sticks, and Punk takes the first advantage. With Axel down for a minute, Punk surprises everyone by hitting a suicide dive on Heyman! Punk brings Heyman into the ring and appears ready to hit him with the kendo stick but Axel rescues his advisor with a blatant low blow. Axel beats on Punk with the stick for a bit, and when Punk comes back and tries a chair, Axel cuts him off with a dropkick for two. Heyman seems to enjoy watching Axel decimate Punk. Axel brings a table into the ring and props it up in the corner. Nothing comes of that yet, but Punk is able to fight back and throw Axel into a chair that had been previously wedged between the top and middle turnbuckles. Axel crawls back in the ring and Punk unleashes a flurry of offense. Punk goes up top and Axel rolls to the floor. When Punk goes for a dive Axel gets a chair up in his face! Back in the ring Axel covers for two. Axel beats on Punk with the kendo stick but still can’t put him away. Punk is able to power up and hit Axel with the kendo stick. He follows with Go to Sleep and then locks on the Anaconda Vise! Axel taps out at 10:30! That means Heyman is alone with Punk! Heyman is terrified and he tries to run away. Punk chases him through the arena and finally gets his hands on him inside the ring. Heyman takes a brutal beating and Punk puts him in handcuffs. Punk destroys Heyman with a kendo stick, and looks ready to give him one final kill shot. Then for some reason Ryback runs out and rams Punk through the table that had been set up by Axel earlier. Ryback puts Heyman on top of Punk and the referee makes the three-count at 15:42. No one bought Axel as a threat, so while the first 10 minutes or so weren’t bad, everyone was just waiting for Punk to get his hands on Heyman, which he did. The match then found a way to keep the feud going, but I really don’t think anyone was dying to see Punk versus Ryback again. Oh well. All in all the match was fine for what it was.
MATCH #6: United States Championship Match – Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ambrose has been the Champion since 5.19.13, and this is his sixth defense. They go back and forth, and Ambrose is a little too cocky for his own good. Ziggler scores with a dropkick and the 10 elbow drops. If this was 1984 Ambrose would be dead. Ziggler clotheslines Ambrose to the floor and tumbles out with him. Back in the ring Ambrose is begging off but Ziggler keeps pouring it on. Ambrose comes back and tries keeping Ziggler on the mat. He hits a nice butterfly superplex but only gets two. Ambrose goes to the other side of the ring and goes up top, and Ziggler is able to bring him down with a super X-Factor for a near-fall. Ziggler keeps up the pressure and locks on the Sleeper Hold! Ambrose creates separation, making Michael Cole giddy. That gets a two-count. Ziggler hits the Fame-Ass-Er for another two-count. Ambrose rolls to the floor so Ziggler retrieves him. As Ziggler is getting back in the ring Ambrose delivers a boot to the face. Ambrose tries Dirty Deeds but Ziggler counters with a rollup for two. Ziggler tries a Stinger Splash but misses. This time Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds to get the win at 9:44. Both men brought a lot of energy to this contest, and I would have liked to see more of a feud and longer matches between these two. They worked well together.
MATCH #7: WWE Tag Team Championship Match – Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. Prime Time Players
Rollins and Reigns have been the Champions since 5.19.13, and this is their fourth defense. Titus O’Neil and Rollins start the match. Rollins gets all cocky right off the bat so O’Neil uses his power to throw “The Architect” around the ring. Darren Young tags in and he keeps up the strategy of keeping Rollins grounded. Young catches Rollins in a nice powerslam for two. Rollins is able to make the tag, and Young sends him to the floor. Reigns had made a blind tag and Rollins comes in and immediately gets caught with a hard forearm to the jaw for a near-fall. The Prime Time Players continue to roll and send both Champions to the floor. Back in the ring Rollins catches Young with a stun gun and the Shield is finally in control. Rollins and Reigns keep young away from O’Neil for a few minutes, but eventually the big man gets the hot tag. O’Neil hits Clash of the Titus on Rollins and Reigns has to break it up. The referee gets distracted with Young, allowing Reigns to hit O’Neil with a Spear and Rollins gets the pin at 7:27. That felt a bit rushed but they stuck to the formula and it was high energy all throughout the match. WWE could have done more with the Prime Time Players and I don’t know why they didn’t even try.
MATCH #8: WWE Championship Match – Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
Orton has been the Champion since 8.18.13, and this is his first defense. Cole points out that Bryan won the United States Title at Night of Champions 2010 and the WWE Tag Team Titles with Kane at Night of Champions 2012. Those are nice little details the commentators don’t often provide anymore. They start with some chain and mat wrestling, with the crowd heavily chanting “Yes!” Bryan of course targets the arm. He traps Orton in the corner and delivers mounted punches, but Orton slips out and hits a creative Inverted headlock backbreaker. Orton is in total control, wearing Bryan down and taking the crowd out of it. Bryan fires up and shifts the momentum. He hits a series of kicks in the corner and sets Orton on the top rope to bring him down with a rana. Bryan sends Orton to the floor and wipes him out with a suicide dive. Back in the ring he hits a missile dropkick, and when Orton rolls to the floor to get a break, Bryan says no chance and follows him out with another suicide dive. Bryan goes for a third suicide dive but Orton catches him with a hard forearm shot. Orton then hits and apron-hung DDT to the floor! Back in the ring Orton goes for an RKO but Bryan shoves him off. Bryan hits Orton with a dropkick, and the momentum sends referee Scott Armstrong to the floor. A second ref makes it down to the ring in time for Orton to hit the snap scoop powerslam for a two-count. Orton goes for the Rope-hung DDT but Bryan counters into the “Yes!” Lock! The Viper is able to slither over to the bottom rope to break the hold. Bryan hits a series of kicks but misses an IED and crashes hard to the mat. They battle on the top rope and Bryan is able to tie Orton up in the Tree of Woe. Bryan delivers a series of kicks, and then a superplex while hanging on with his legs. The crowd is geeked as Bryan goes back up and lands the diving headbutt! That gets a two-count. Bryan lands more kicks but Orton catches the last one and hits an exploder suplex. A series of reversals ends with Bryan landing a knockout kick and then The Knee That Beat John Cena to get the pin and win the title for a second time at 17:33. I rate the match only based on what happened in the match, not the silliness they added the following night on RAW. Even with that caveat, this wasn’t one of their stronger efforts together, as something just felt flat throughout the match. Of course with two guys this talented it wasn’t bad, it was just pretty standard.