Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN – Sunday, September 21, 2014
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler, and JBL are on commentary.
Goldust & Stardust defeat WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) at 12:47 to win the titles. Jimmy and Jey have been the Champions since 3.3.14, and this is their ninth defense. When was the last time two teams of brothers faced each other for the WWE Tag Team Titles? Ever? This follows the pretty standard formula back and forth between the two teams. The challengers control the match for a bit, cutting off every comeback attempt. When the hot tag is made, all hell breaks loose and the crowd is along for the ride. After a flurry of action and a couple of dives to the floor, Jimmy has Stardust back in the ring and goes for the Superfly Splash. Stardust gets his knees up and then quickly traps Jimmy in a schoolboy rollup to win the titles! Man, were the Usos on a roll in 2014 or what? This was another hot opening tag bout, following the formula to a T and doing it with flair and style.
United States Champion Sheamus defeats Cesaro at 13:21 to retain the title. Sheamus has been the Champion since 5.5.14, and this is his fifth defense. These two never have a problem getting aggressive with each other, and this match is no different. The battle rages both inside and outside the ring, with lots of heavy strikes raining down from both sides. Cesaro uses plenty of European Uppercuts, but Sheamus fights one off and hits two straight Irish Curse backbreakers for a near-fall. Sheamus tries the Beats of the Bodhrán but Cesaro counters out. The crowd is pretty juiced here as both men counter back and forth, trying to put the other away. Cesaro traps Sheamus in the corner and unloads on him, so the referee backs him up. Sheamus takes that one second to pop out with the Brogue Kick to get the pin. This was an absolute war, with hard strikes and awesome counters that built on each other up to the finish that in no way hurts Cesaro, which I like. Cesaro and Sheamus are just so well matched, they’re a real joy to watch face each other.
The Miz (w/ Damien Mizdow) defeats Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler (w/ R-Truth) at 9:18 to retain the title. Ziggler has been the Champion since 8.17.14, and this is his second defense. These two have faced each other about a billion times, so thank goodness the guys from Florida-Georgia Line are on commentary to freshen things up! Miz and Ziggler do their usual back and forth, and then Mizdow and R-Truth get involved on the floor. Mizdow gets in FGL’s face, so they shove him to the floor! Truth then chases Mizdow to the back. Moments later Mizdow comes back out to distract Ziggler long enough for Miz to roll him up with a handful of tights to steal the pin and win the IC title for a fourth time. This was a fine but not exciting back and forth match, just like it always is with these two. Not sure why they bothered to switch the title here, since they switched it back the next night, but who remembers anyway?
Seth Rollins defeats Roman Reigns by countout at 0:31. Reigns is at the hospital due to an emergency hernia surgery, but Rollins makes his way out to the arena in his gear anyway. Rollins mocks Reigns and gives him 10 seconds to come out and face him or forfeit the match. Referee Charles Robinson rings the bell and starts the count. Obviously Reigns does not answer the count, so Rollins is declared the winner via forfeit. Obviously not a match there, but it was a good promo by Rollins.
Ever the gracious competitor, Rollins feels guilty about everyone being deprived of the opportunity to see him wrestle, so he makes an open challenge. That challenge is answered by his former Shield-mate Dean Ambrose! Rollins and Ambrose brawl all over the building, and Ambrose has to be dragged out by security. Some people may feel cheated by not getting a real match, but I thought that was a hot segment that got Ambrose over like crazy.
Rusev (w/ Lana) defeats Mark Henry at 8:26. They play the patriotism card pretty hard from the get-go, as Lilian Garcia delivers a stirring rendition of the National Anthem while Henry cries big crocodile tears. Henry dominates the early going, but Rusev is able to withstand the early onslaught and drive Henry back-first into the steel steps. That gives Rusev the advantage and he focuses on Henry’s back, which should neutralize the power advantage. Henry is able to power up long enough to hit the World’s Strongest Slam, and Rusev wisely rolls to the floor to avoid getting pinned. Rusev drills Henry with a superkick to the face, and back in the ring hits one more. He then locks on The Accolade in the center of the ring and Henry taps out. That was a pretty solid power matchup, with the monster heel going over clean. Nothing wrong with any of that.
Randy Orton defeats Chris Jericho at 16:15. These two have been a mixed bag in terms of quality matches together, so this one could go either way. Jericho is fired up in the early going, but Orton hangs back and strikes when he gets his opportunity and begins to wear Jericho down. Orton beats on Jericho inside the ring as well as outside, even dropping him back-first across the announce table at one point. Every time Jericho appears to be building toward something Orton is able to cut him off. Both men use their signature moves. Jericho locks on the Walls of Jericho for quite a while, but Orton is able to escape and hit the Rope-hung DDT. Orton sets up for the RKO but Jericho surprises him with a Codebreaker! That only gets two. Jericho goes up top and jumps right into a swank RKO and Orton gets the pin. This was presented as two wily and respected veterans going toe-to-toe, and it worked. Both men worked in their big spots in order to keep the crowd simmering and then bubbled them over at the right times. Orton going over clean was the right call here too.
AJ Lee defeats Divas Champion Paige and Nikki Bella in a Triple Threat Match at 8:45 to win the title. Paige has been the Champion since 8.17.14, and this is her first defense. All three women are aggressive in the early going, but the major conflict in the match is between AJ and Paige. That makes Nikki somewhat of a wild card here, as AJ and Paige spend most of the match fighting each other and trying to keep Nikki out of the fray entirely. AJ is able to take Paige out momentarily and almost puts Nikki away with the Black Widow but Paige breaks it up. They work in a Tower of Doom spot, which I’m not sure if I’ve seen in a WWE Divas match before. AJ is able to slam Nikki off the apron and to the floor, and then goes back in to lock Paige in the Black Widow to get the tap-out win and earn her third Divas Championship. They kept this going to a brisk pace and packed in a lot of action. I know people rag on Nikki, but I think she helped liven up what had been a dying feud here, since AJ and Paige wrestled each other about a thousand times.
John Cena defeats WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) by disqualification at 14:15. Lesnar has been the Champion since 8.17.14, and this is his first defense. Cena comes right out swinging and hits an early Attitude Adjustment! Lesnar kicks out at one and puts on the Kimura Lock, forcing Cena to the ropes. Now Lesnar starts dominating, working Cena’s arm and dishing out strikes aplenty. Cena gets a little more offense in this match than he did at SummerSlam, but this is still pretty one-sided. When Cena goes for a desperation AA, Lesnar counters into the first release German Suplex of the match. Moments later Cena is able to hit the AA but Lesnar kicks out at two. Lesnar tries an F-5 but Cena counters into the STF, which Lesnar counters to the Kimura Lock. Cena powers out and hits another AA, and then locks on the STF. He picks Lesnar up and hits the fourth AA of the match, but that brings Seth Rollins out to draw the DQ. They did a great job of building off the SummerSlam match, with Cena looking suitably desperate and throwing huge strikes and finishers every chance he got. The finish was lame, but I guess they thought it was a good way to segue into Rollins v Cena while Lesnar was going to be away. Still, that takes away points from the overall match.
Lesnar looks prone, and Rollins looks like he’s going to cash in! Rollins hits Lesnar with a Curb Stomp and then says he’s going to cash in, but Cena breaks that up before the referee can make the match official. Rollins runs away and Lesnar hits Cena with an F-5.
The main event was really good but lacked the perverse entertainment factor of the SummerSlam bout. As for the rest of the show, it opens with two excellent matches, and we get another one later on with Jericho v Orton. Nothing on the card is bad and they actually did a good job making the titles feel important on this night.