It wasn’t a show that had me bouncing off the walls, but there was a level of satisfaction, even with two days of discourse, knowing exactly how things went, etc. that was unrivaled from a PPV experience in a lot of ways. So much here stemmed from matches presented in ways to really give everyone a chance to do what they did best, and even in the situations where a match type wasn’t to your liking, you came away thinking it was done in a way that truly made basically everyone come out of it looking better. Which is tough to do when you’re cramming so many folks in there. Individual match thoughts:
-Eddie Kingston leading off the biggest PPV in years to set the tone is one of the great match placement moves I can remember. Maybe since leading off WM30 with Bryan/HHH to both get Hunter out of the way and set up Bryan’s night to shine. Miro was sensational here, and Eddie sold and fed for him better than anyone has since Miro arrived, while also putting on the classic Eddie gatekeeping performance. The inevitable rematch, most likely to close the Arthur Ashe show, will be magical, and with a match this good to build on, they have a shot to top it.
-Moxley/Kojima had a match style I really enjoyed, even if there were some disjointed parts when the match veered towards Mox in control. They both went for it, and Kojima looked great for being 50 and not having been on a big stage in quite a while. I still don’t know what to make of Mox without a title, as I think it gave him an aura that was difficult to get past, but I think he’s finding his stride and Minoru is gonna help. It’s alluded to that he’ll be checking the new adds, which should be fun.
-The women’s title match I really enjoyed, even though I agree with the first half not having a lot of snap. I wonder now if a sprint would have been a better option here, but the finishing stretch was brutal and definite, and puts Baker on a huge level above everyone else ahead of Ruby. Statlander really showed out here.
-The cage match was probably the best possible outcome here, as the lax selling off some huge spots and usual Bucks stereo nonsense were to be expected, but from a pacing and big moments standpoint? It kinda worked! Usually Bucks control segments in these plunder matches are a bit mundane, but they upped the brutality thanks to the Lucha Bros bumping their asses off, and the timing, especially from Fenix, on the comebacks were pretty fantastic. Tons of nitpicks, but they got the important stuff mostly right, and that means it ended up working. This was basically the show rolled up into one match for me: Rough in some spots, but never taking away from the enjoyment.
-The battle Royal was fine, I liked the shine moments for Thunder Rosa a ton, and liked how Tay Conti looked, too. Ruby was expected and still made everything look great, and Tony calling out a possible singles match for her and Rosa has me salivating. That should rule hard.
-MJF/Jericho was a great work carry job from MJF, who I hope does more show off stuff in his big matches going forward. Dude is kind of a freak athlete and can really be great as a bump and feed heel, but I’m not sure how much he intends to play to those strengths when his shtick is what brings him to the dance. Jericho didn’t make anything too much worse than it should have been, and I liked the Dynamite match better, but this was still fine and had some eye-popping MJF stuff that jumped out at you. Not sure where he goes from here, but he becomes an amazing wild card on the heel side after the additions to the roster.
-Punk/Darby was a fantastic work of subtleties, as Punk knew folks would have the microscope out to pick apart his match. He knew he’d be rusty, so he did what he did best, and threw in some flair when he needed to. The best things he did in this match was respond to Darby’s flurries. Especially his final one, which played right into the finish. He made all his stuff look incredible, and in a match where Darby indeed took some insane bumps, Punk was happy to let Darby throw his body into him however he wanted to, which made Darby’s work carrying even more incredible by comparison. It will take some time getting used to this version of Punk, but he by no means put on a subpar performance. If anything, it showed a blueprint of what he feels his focuses should be, and I think it’ll be great to see what he does bringing the young guys along. Especially given how amped they’ll be to do well with him.
-QT/Wight was great pro wrestling bullshit that did exactly what it set out to do. Wight doesn’t have much of anything left, but he can be used effectively as a bellwether for malcontents, and that’s fine. Just don’t know how much he should be used going forward.
-The main event was an absolutely fantastic Kenny performance, even with some of the mannerisms being too much. He was vicious, he was showing off, he knew when to turn it up, he bumped fantastic for Christian’s offense, and it was my favorite performance of his this year outside the Jungle Boy match. Christian absolutely got in his ear about how to pace and structure, and I know he’s banged up, but he needs to think of matches like this going forward. It never veered into going overboard, it had some fantastic transitions, and when a big moment came, it was hit with conviction. This is the Kenny I’m fine seeing. More of this please. Christian was his usual self, which gave the match pacing and importance, but the booking not being in doubt hurt a lot of his comebacks, even with the Killswitch near fall. Still a great performance, and a great capper.
-The postmatch stuff was wild to watch even 48 hours later, as Cole’s debut was so great, even if I fell for it being the ending of the show. I’m a huge Mount Rushmore mark, so Steen’s eventual move is going to make that group even better for me. Kenny running away from Bryan ruled, and there really isn’t a single person on that roster for a Bryan match I wouldn’t see. This run could absolutely cement his GOAT status, and it’s going to be the most insane thing to see him pick who he wants to work with over the next several months, which should lead to him in the 2022 G-1, perhaps the most anticipated month of wrestling I can remember.
And this all happened in one night. Incredible.