We are in Cincinnati, OH, and the returning Roman Reigns is kicking off the show. Reigns points out what happened on RAW and says that’s what happens when you run your mouth. Reigns believes in the big fight, which knocked Triple H into next week. Trips isn’t here, but he’s watching. Trips is the champ, but Reigns is the man in his arena and will be in every arena until they are in the same area code, and he’ll be Trips’ ass again, because he can. At Wrestlemania, the world will see him destroy Trips and win the title, holding it over Trips’ body, because he can. If Trips is as smart as he claims, he will believe that.
Short and sweet. This kind of promo from Reigns is fine. Not great, but not horrible, either.
We go to footage of the recent history between AJ Styles and Chris Jericho, ending at RAW on Monday, where Styles blasted Jericho with the Phenomenal Forearm. Back to the arena, Renee Young is standing by with Styles. Styles says Jericho is upset because the fans like Styles. The fans can chant whatever they want. Jericho has made this personal, and it felt good to drop him on RAW. Kevin Owens interrupts. He says Styles sounds just like Sami Zayn. They should have their own show on the WWE Network where they hold each other and cry. Friendship in wrestling doesn’t matter; the only thing that matters is gold. Styles says Owens is like Jericho: a smug, arrogant, jackass. Styles says they have a match, so Owens can put his money where his mouth is. Owens says Young and Styles have the same haircut.
MATCH 1: DOLPH ZIGGLER VS. THE MIZ
Again?! Dammit. They trade a bunch of holds and pins. Ziggler hits a couple of his signatures. Miz responds in kind. Standard fare from these two. Ziggler used to be one of the guys you could count on to have show-stealing matches; now he just goes through the motions. Hard to blame him, given how many start-stops he’s had in his career. Ziggler eventually gets caught in the figure-4 before getting a rope-break. Miz tries it again, gets kicked away, then walks into a superkick for 3.
WINNER: DOLPH ZIGGLER.
Later tonight, Kofi Kingston faces King Barrett. A few years ago, these two tore the house down in a handful of IC title matches. Now? I’m less hopeful. Barrett’s in the same boat as Ziggler.
We go to some video of Michael Cole interviewing Kalisto, asking if he’ll defend the US title against Ryback at Wrestlemania. Kalisto says it will be an honor.
We then go to a video of Dean Ambrose in Cincinnati, his hometown. Brock Lesnar has been training to fight his whole life, but on the streets, you train to fight for your life. Ambrose learned a lot of valuable lessons on those streets, and he plans to pass that knowledge onto Lesnar at WM. In his experience, nothing hurts like an education.
MATCH 2: BUBBA RAY DUDLEY (W/D-VON DUDLEY) VS. GOLDUST
D-Von immediately pulls out a table. The distraction allows Bubba to attack from behind. Bubba continues the assault while never shutting up. Goldust comes back with uppercuts, then avoids a sit-down splash off a sunset flip. Bubba hits a back elbow. Flip, Flop & Fly is met with a drop-down uppercut by Goldust. A bulldog by Goldust gets 2. Bubba escapes the final cut and leads Goldust outside, where Goldust nails D-Von. As he climbs back in, Bubba hits a big boot and gets 3.
WINNER: BUBBA RAY DUDLEY.
Well, we are 0 for 2 tonight.
The Dudleyz double-team Goldust until R-Truth runs down. He goes after both before Bubba wipes him out with a big boot. Now the Usos runs down and fight off the Usos before the Usos try a pair of superkicks, only to have the Dudleyz bail.
Charlotte comes out with Uncle Grandpa, which means it’s time for yet another one of her loud, halting promos. In about two weeks, she defends the Divas title against two women she’s known most of her adult life. Despite their problems, she wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for them. She calls out Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks, asking them to accept her invitation down to the ring.
Lynch responds first, and she’s got a bunch of smoke added to her entrance, which is a nice addition to her steampunk gimmick. Charlotte looks for Banks, who Lynch didn’t bring out. They start to argue until Banks comes out on her own. Banks says no one tells her when to show up. Charlotte goes back to NXT. This is what they trained and worked for. She remembers calling her dad about the amazing women she was working with. Daddy apparently said they sound like the Horsemen. Charlotte calls them the “Horsewomen”. Ronda Rousey, she isn’t. This just goes on and on until Charlotte apologizes for thinking these two should be called Horsewomen. More arguing. More. Halting. Talk. From. Charlotte. Lynch was hoping there was a shred of human decency in her, but it’s gone. Charlotte can call Lynch whatever she wants, but come WM, she’s the one ripping off Charlotte’s arm and taking the title. Banks says she beat Charlotte for the NXT Women’s title. She then tells them to “Check the record book, boo-boos”, because she’s never been pinned since being called to the main roster. Pretty sure that’s not true. She deserves to be here, but Lynch doesn’t. These two start arguing while Charlotte laughs. Lynch says it takes more than dollar-store jewelry to be a “Boss”. Banks goes all Aunt Viv on Lynch while Charlotte laughs. Then they deck Charlotte. Lynch hits her with the Becks-Plex while Banks hits her with a backcracker, sending her to the floor.
We get a video package for the British Bulldogs, for some reason. I’m not complaining, as I loved the Bulldogs; however, there doesn’t seem to be any real reason for it.
MATCH 3: WWE TAG TEAM CO-CHAMPION KOFI KINGSTON (W/BIG E AND XAVIER WOODS) VS. KING BARRETT (W/ALBERTO DEL RIO, RUSEV AND SHEAMUS)
Before Barrett and his ilk come out, it’s time for more crap from the New Day about booty. E cuts a fake angry promo. Kofi accepts the challenge of the League of Nations for a match at WM. the LoN are bags of hot garbage. Kofi then kicks literal bags of garbage. What the hell do people see in this gimmick?
Kofi immediately hits a dropkick and does a one-man Unicorn Stampede. Barrett bails to the floor. Commercials already.
We’re back, and Kofi is dominating with strikes and a pendulum kick before Barrett boots him to the floor. Back in, Barrett does the spot in the corner with the forearms and the running kick for 2. Kofi comes back with strikes and a springboard cross-body for 2. He then reverses the Winds of Change into a DDT in a cool spot, as he completely flipped over Barrett’s arm. That gets 2 before Woods and ADR fight on the apron. The distraction allows Rusev to blast Kofi with a kick to the head when the ref isn’t looking. E wipes out Rusev at ringside before he and Woods are overwhelmed by the the 3/4 of the LoN. Back in the ring, Kofi avoids a Royal Bull Hammer with a nice roundhouse out of the corner. Now, the LoN have surrounded the ring. E and Woods take care of two of them before Kofi knocks Sheamus to the floor with a kick. Barrett charges in, but Kofi stacks him up with a schoolboy and a handful of tights for 3.
WINNER: KOFI KINGSTON.
Definitely not as good as anything these two have done before, but that DDT spot was impressive.
More from Ambrose in Cincinnati. He’s now in a bar. He says fame and fortune are crap. You fight for pride, who you are and where you come from. At WM, he’s bringing his city with him. Lesnar doesn’t know what pain is or what a real street fight is, but he will.
The Social Outcasts are “in the house”. No one cares. Heath Slater calls them “top-grade talent” with a straight face. Bo Dallas says they will be the first team to win the Andre battle royal together, and he completely botches it. Slater says he’s winning by himself. Curtis Axel bringing up the Royal Rumble. Adam Rose makes fun of Axel. Ambrose comes out and kills them all dead with a kendo stick. Ambrose then goes for the cheap pops before saying there’s a rumor Lesnar will be on Smackdown next week. On RAW, Lesnar walked away from a fight, so Ambrose will be here next week. Let’s see if Lesnar has the baseballs to stand up to the plate.
MATCH 4: INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION KEVIN OWENS VS. A.J. STYLES (NON-TITLE)
While this should be a great match, this show on a whole this week has felt like an episode of Sunday Night Heat from 1998-99. The matches have all been rushed, and there’s been too much talking. At least Heat had the excuse of being half as long.
Owens and Styles go into the crisscross early before Styles pops up with a beautiful dropkick. Styles takes control before going for the Phenomenal Forearm. Owens sees it coming and catches him with a gutbuster before hitting a running senton. Commercials.
Back from the break, and Owens has a chinlock in. He whips Styles down by the hair and goes for the senton again, but Styles gets his knees up. Owens crashes to the floor off a corner charge, connecting with the post on the way down. Back in, Styles hits his signature series of strikes (alliteration!), connects with a basement clothesline and calls for the Clash. Owens backdrops out of it, but then gets low-bridges to the floor. Styles wipes him out with a slingshot forearm. Back in, Styles hits the ushi-goroshi (translation: “Bull Killer”, named by Hirooki Goto after he injured “Raging Bull” Hiroyoshi Tenzan with it. Finally have the correct spelling of that move. Back to the match) for 2. Styles fights out of a waistlock before missing a moonsault. Owens goes for the package piledriver, which he turns into a blue thunder bomb for 2. Awesome spot. Styles comes back with a Ghetto Blaster before Owens turns him inside-out with a clothesline. We now have a punch-off, more strikes from Styles and a superkick from Owens. Styles avoids the pop-up powerbomb and hits the Pele’ before hitting an Argentine backbreaker into a spin-out powerbomb for 2. Styles heads up, where Owens meets him with forearms. Styles fights off a superplex while trading headbutts. Styles gets the better of it and drops to the apron when Owens gets back up. He calls for the Phenomenal Forearm when Jericho comes out. Owens uses the distraction to hit a big boot and the pop-up powerbomb for 3.
WINNER: KEVIN OWENS.
Too short for these two guys, but that was a damn fun match. Had a very puroresu feel to it, with both guys busting out some creative spots we don’t get to see much here.
Jericho comes down to the ring and plants Styles with a Codebreaker, then does a mock “AJ Styles” chant before saying…nothing. That’s all he says. He then raises his arm. Stupid way to close the show.
END OF SHOW.