We opened with the announcement of the return of the King of the Ring tournament, which is something people have been clamouring for quite a long time. It’s not a proper PPV, but the fact that they are doing it to give focus to the severely undervalued midcard is alright with me.
Seth Rollins made his way to the ring, flanked by Kane and J&J Security. Rollins took the opportunity to be a smug douche like he always does and gave a solid heel promo. There seems to be no immediate fallout from the main event of Extreme Rules. They’re still teasing a Kane turn and I’m getting a bit impatient. I love slow-burn stories, but Kane has been to the edge and has had to back down multiple times. I wish they’d just pull the trigger, but as I said in my Extreme Rules review, they are probably saving that for one of the “big” PPVs. However, taking into account the way they handed the Miz vs. Mizdow feud, it could be on an episode of Smackdown. Who knows. Randy Orton interrupted, then Roman Reigns. Both men felt they had a claim for the title. I get Orton’s point. He was screwed over. Not sure I get why Reigns is being indulged though. He lost at Wrestlemania. His title shot is done. Anyway, Kane set up a tag match for the main event- him and Rollins vs Orton and Reigns. He also got the WWE Universe to vote on Rollins’ title defence at Payback.
We had our first King of the Ring match next: Dolph Ziggler vs Bad News Barrett. I like both guys and they put on a great match. Ziggler briefly got the upper hand, but Sheamus interrupted, reminding everyone how he made the unconscious Ziggler kiss his arse. This being wrestling, another superstar coming out and talking is the most distracting thing in the world and Ziggler ate a Bull Hammer. Barrett won and moved to the next stage of the tournament.
Hooray for The New Day! I’m really liking what they’re doing with the stable, especially the decision to make them champs, We had singles action between Big E and Tyson Kidd. It was a short match with the ringside Xavier Woods holding Kidd’s feet, enabling Big E to pin him. We’re definitely being teased with a proper rematch between the teams. Unlike the Kane storyline, I’m fine with them dangling the carrot on this one.
We got the odd match of Ryback vs. Bo Dallas. Predictably, Ryback- looking like he’s entirely made of angry muscles, stomped Dallas with ease and won the match. During his victory music, everything went dark and Bray Wyatt appeared behind him. Wyatt hit the Sister Abigail and left “The Big Guy” stunned and flat on his back. It’s great to see Wyatt back. Not everyone knows that he sprained his ankle in the warm-up for his Undertaker match at Wrestlemania and strapped himself up. We’ve had to put up with vague promos until this point, but I’m glad he’s ringfit again. Not sure about a feud with Ryback though. How are you meant to play mindgames with a lunkhead like him? Wyatt seems to just pick his targets at random and after some fights, it’s all quickly forgotten about. Here’s hoping it turns out well. When Bray Wyatt’s firing on all cylinders, there’s nobody quite like him.
More John Cena Open Challenge action. We were treated to a rare Heath Slater sighting as he came out to accept the challenge, but he was soon flattened by a Rusev outta nowhere. No fighting took place in ring, just Rusev stoking the fires for their “I Quit” match at Payback. Capitalising on the heat he got for sending his manager Lana backstage at Extreme Rules, Rusev again was angered by the cheers she received and again sent her away. I’m scared what they might do with Lana. She and Rusev work incredibly well together and I’m not sure either of them can handle flying solo yet. Rumour has it that she’s been training, so she may shake up the Divas division, but not too sure about Rusev. I love the guy and I’m hoping they find a suitable angle for him should the team split.
The second King of the Ring match was R-Truth vs. Stardust. I’m a big fan of Stardust, so I was disappointed when he lost, but I can’t say that I was expecting R-Truth to pick up the win. Even in comparison to the loopy Stardust, I find his character a bit too cartoony for my liking. He’s a fantastic competitor though and disappointed as I was, it was cool to see him win.
Fandango and Adam Rose had a match. Nothing of consequence happened apart from Fandango’s ex “dancing partner” Rosa, snogged Rose’s face off in the middle of the ring. Next!
Obligatory Divas action came after the awkwardness. Brie Bella vs. Naomi. It was under 4 minutes long. They really need to do something with the Divas division. The “Divas” are just as entertaining as the big bulky lads and they need to be given storylines and motivations outside of being different flavours of crazy bitch. It bums me out.
The third match of KOTR was Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus. It was a decent enough scrap, but it ended in Ambrose’s disqualification when Dolph Ziggler ran out (and boy, did he run- dude got some speed) and launched himself at Sheamus. An argument could be made that Ambrose was beaten anyway as he ate a Brogue Kick seconds before Ziggy interfered, but it was annoying that Ambrose didn’t go through thanks to a hot-headed attack he had nothing to do with.
Double hooray! Damien Sandow is back! If you remember, he lost the rights to the Miz brand and now he’s back to his original surname. He spoke in what seemed like a genuine and witty way about how he’s been through some rough career patches and thanked the fans for their continued support. It was really nice. The truth is that often midcard wrestlers like Sandow are saddled with awful gimmicks that drag them down and they soon get forgotten about and fired. Despite all the stupid shit they’ve made him do, Sandow has endured thanks to fans still enjoying his work. That’s not to take away from the man. Not many people could take a stunt-double gimmick and make it work as well as he did. It felt honest. Then Curtis Axel came out and the whole bit took a nosedive. It started well enough with Axel showing his huge lack of self-awareness as he criticised Sandow for pretending to be someone else. Then Sandow started repeating everything Axel said in a childish, mocking way. It was painful and tonally deaf considering the almost shoot-like nature of his previous speech. Please move on from this, Creative. Pointing out past crappy ideas is one thing and can be funny, but to then follow it with a really dumb bit is well, really dumb. I’m excited to see where Sandow goes from here though.
My favourite match of the night was the final first round match between Luke Harper and Neville. Neville actually spoke for once! Anyway, the match was fantastic. Harper is a reliable choice and Neville rocked it. I will never tire of seeing him perform the Red Arrow, his incredible flipping and twisting splash off the top rope. Neville walked away the victor and went through to the semi-finals.
It was then finally time for the main event tag match. As is often the case with main event tag matches, I found my interest waning somewhat. They go on for too long and there are no real stakes. It was a solid match, but it boiled down to The Authority vs. Anyone the crowd likes, which we’ve seen over and over and over again. Rollins seems to be incredibly unlucky as he keeps missing his opponents and hitting poor ol’ Kane. This time it was a poorly-aimed dive to the outside of the ring that caught him, leading him to rage. He threw J&J Security around like ragdolls and slugged Rollins in the face. Reigns and Orton then teamed up, giving Rollins a one-two assault of the Superman punch and the RKO. Team Randy Romans won, leaving the Authority with yet more in-fighting to sort out. The very end was awkwardly tacked on as Kane revealed that the Universe has voted for a triple threat match between Orton, Reigns and Rollins at Payback for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Just thought I’d add a little extra at the end here as the remainder of the King of the Ring tournament was shown the next night on the WWE Network. It’s a shame more people didn’t see it as there were some really great bouts. We started with Sheamus vs. Neville. Sheamus did some solid heel work, laughing at how small Neville was to him in comparison and talking at length in prematch interviews how he’s going to make everyone kiss his arse. I love the fact he seems obsessed with the idea, despite losing to Ziggler. Speaking of which, Dolph again interrupted and Neville won a place in the finals. Dolph then attacked Sheamus again, leaving the Celtic Warrior bleeding from a nasty looking gash above his eye.
Then it was R-Truth vs. Bad News Barrett. After a baffling promo about becoming king and banning spiders, R-Truth came out with confidence. Trouble is, Bad News Barrett is a mean bastard and has muscles on his muscles. R-Truth was clearly out of his depth and Barrett, scumbag that he is, put his thumb in Truth’s eye, leaving him open for the Bull Hammer elbow. Not sure about you, but I’m not the biggest fan of the Bull Hammer. I think Barrett’s Wasteland is a much more impressive move.
Then it was time for the finals, Bad News Barrett facing Neville in an all-British brawl. The match was fast and heated, with Neville taking an inordinate amount of punishment and still managing to kick out. The fat lady sang when Neville missed the Red Arrow and ate a Bull Hammer for his troubles. I was let down that this wasn’t the start of a Neville mega-push, but I was happy enough with Barrett taking the crown and throne. All hail King Barrett. He’s going to be an insufferable dick and rub this win in people’s faces for a long time. Long may he smug.