KICKOFF: BIG CASS w/ ENZO AMORE VS. RUSEV w/ LANA
GOOD BOOKING: Big Cass loses by countout
If there’s any indication of who WWE wants to eventually push, it’s Big Cass. He’s serviceable on the mic and for a guy his size, he can really move. So having him take clean pinfall/submission loses early would be tough to come back from. Rusev winning by countout allows Big Cass to avoid a definitive loss and also slowly builds towards whatever storyline creative has with Enzo and Lana.
TAG TEAM TITLES: THE NEW DAY (c) VS. SHEAMUS & CESARO
GOOD BOOKING: Sheamus & Cesaro win the titles
At first it looked like a swerve heel turn for Cesaro. This quickly turned out to be the cleverest trick in the book when Cesaro sacrificed himself to allow Sheamus the opportunity to cradle Kofi Kingston for the win. It was only fitting that The New Day would finally drop the titles after setting the record for the longest reign in WWE history. Sheamus & Cesaro winning the titles also allows Sheamus to settle into a nice mid-card role and gives Cesaro some much needed gold momentum after months of being underutilized. Sheamus & Cesaro with the titles now opens a multitude of booking options, from next challengers in Gallows & Anderson to a possible heel turn for the New Day. Hell, even The Shining Stars can even get in on some possible contender status. But that’s wishful thinking.
GOOD BOOKING: Sheamus is still the heel despite Cesaro’s face status
This is a seemingly small detail but such a significant part of why Sheamus & Cesaro making a successful and intriguing pair. If Sheamus were to turn face post-match, he would have likely become boring again. Keeping Sheamus heel also allows the team to utilize dirty tactics in Sheamus to keep the titles while also having a positive reaction that Cesaro.
SAMI ZAYN VS. BRAUN STROWMAN; ZAYN MUST LAST 10 MINUTES
GOOD BOOKING: Zayn survives
If Zayn were to lose here, everything that was built up from the narrative with Mick Foley would have been a waste of time. Plain and simple. Zayn has essentially settled into the role that Daniel Bryan left; that of the underdog. With that being said, Zayn needed to survive, not win. Survive. And that he did. One could say that Zayn was conceivably on the way to an actual victory. But the 10 minute time limit keeps that a “What if?” scenario. And that’s what it should be at this point.
GOOD BOOKING: Strowman goes on a tear
Strowman needed to be booked like a monster here. And he was. The blood in Zayn’s mouth was a nice touch. As long as Strowman is not cleanly pinned or submitted, WWE can still go forward with him being the residential beast. However, though Strowman being booked strong here was a necessity, it’s clear that he still has quite a way to go in singles matches. In multi-man matches, he thrives well due to multiple men carrying the match. But in a singles match, his power-based and slow style can and will become boring.
BAD BOOKING: Mick Foley interrupts the match
Yes, I understand Foley’s appearance was to follow the narrative that has been set in this story. And I understand that one can say that Foley served as the spark to Zayn’s second wind. But if you were to really look at it, Foley’s appearance not only ate up close to two minutes of that time limit, but also implied that Zayn can’t even survive on his own. And in that context, I can’t say that this was good booking.
CHRIS JERICHO VS. SETH ROLLINS
GOOD BOOKING: Kevin Owens gets involved
It’s too early for Triple H to get involved in the feud with Seth Rollins so that option was out. And it was clear that if Jericho were to win this match, it wouldn’t be cleanly, otherwise that would’ve been bad booking. So in that regards, Kevin Owens getting involved was the only thing that would really be looked at. The manner in which he involves himself was the difference maker. And in that aspect, there was only one way this was going and that was to continue the seemingly imminent breakdown of JerichKO. Whether this allows for a swerve to happen later in the night in Kevin Owens’ match or not is up in the air. But in regards to the story’s narrative, this was the only way to go.
TRIPLE THREAT CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE: RICH SWANN (c) VS. BRIAN KENDRICK VS. TJ PERKINS
BAD BOOKING: Little to no narrative despite a story
Technically, the match was solid. A few slight missteps, especially in the beginning of the match, but on paper it good. But with the odd psychology of Kendrick and his history with Perkins and with Perkins’ growing arrogance and his claims of Swann’s luck, you’d think the storytelling would be superb. Nope. Kendrick didn’t feel like much of a dangerous factor as he had been in his past few title matches.
GOOD BOOKING: Neville turns heel; establishes foothold
Thank you Neville. If he didn’t show up, there wouldn’t have been much to say about this match. His inclusion to the cruiserweight division was only a matter of time and made the most sense. His immediate heel turn was the cherry on top. Long has Neville been underutilized. Not anymore. He will most certainly thrive in this division and in this role.
30 MINUTE IRONMAN MATCH WOMEN’S TITLE: SASHA BANKS (c) VS. CHARLOTTE
GOOD BOOKING: Sudden Death Overtime
How do you make the final encounter even more thrilling? Push it into sudden death over time. The match itself started off slow but from the point of the first fall to the end was absolutely thrilling. Going into sudden death is something that doesn’t happen often so to save it for such a huge match was the right call.
BAD BOOKING: Charlotte regains the title
What was the point of giving Sasha Banks the title again if she was going to just lose the title to Charlotte again? Why not just keep the title on Charlotte and give her another decent reign instead of playing hot potato? Shouldn’t the length of a title reign mean more than the number of times the title is held? On the other hand, it’s easy to say that they wanted to keep Charlotte’s records intact at least until the end of the year. And for story line sake, if Bayley is next in line for the title, it makes sense that the fairy tale ending would be better with the perennial babyface Bayley beating the evil Charlotte. But that leaves Sasha Banks out in the dark with no meaningful direction until Charlotte loses that title.
UNIVERSAL TITLE: KEVIN OWENS (c) VS. ROMAN REIGNS
QUESTIONABLE BOOKING: Chris Jericho remains Kevin Owens’ best friend
The outcome of this match was never really in question. Kevin Owens was not going to lose the title and Roman Reigns was not going to win or lose cleanly. What everyone was waiting for was Jericho’s actions. Was he going to turn on Owens? In another mini swerve, Jericho attacked Owens to help him not only retain the title, but win by disqualification as well. Creative must be careful with this slow burn story of Jericho and Owens’ dissolving friendship. Owens or Jericho could conceivably turn on the other, but creative must be careful not to drag it out too long.