Date: September 2, 2023
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Corey Graves, Michael Cole
We’re back to the big shows here but this one isn’t exactly looking like the most thrilling. There are six matches announced, plus Cody Rhodes appearing on the Grayson Waller Effect. The main event will likely be Seth Rollins defending the Raw World Title against Shinsuke Nakamura and John Cena hosting should spice things up a bit. Let’s get to it.
The opening video talks about how this was started a long time ago but now it’s time for payback. The matches all get a quick look.
We recap Trish Stratus vs. Becky Lynch in a cage. Trish claims she paved the way for everyone today and wants recognition. Becky points out that she got further than Trish ever did on her own. Trish was the best of her generation, but this is a new generation. Now it’s time to end a rather long running feud.
Trish Stratus vs. Becky Lynch
In a cage with pinfall, submission or escape to win and NXT Women’s Champion Tiffany Stratton is here watching again. Becky starts fast with the Bexploders but gets elbowed in the face for her efforts. Trish sends her into the cage and grabs a spinebuster to cut off a comeback attempt. The double fishhook keeps Becky in trouble (Trish: “CHEESE!”) but Becky manages to ram her into the cage a few times.
It’s too early for the Disarm-Her so Becky is sent into the cage two more times. Trish Matrixes her way out of a clothesline, only to have Becky drop a double legdrop onto the stomach in a clever counter. Some rapid fire rams into the cage have Trish in more trouble and Becky goes up top for the Fameasser in the ropes for two. Trish is back up and hammers away in the corner but Becky slips out and hits a powerbomb for two more.
Back up and Becky is sent into the cage again, setting up a Widow’s Peak (including the Victoria hair pulling) for two. Becky misses something off the top and gets caught with Stratusfaction for another near fall. They go up top with Trish hitting a super bulldog for two, allowing her to stare at the camera and show off a NASTY welt on her forehead. Both of them head up top with Trish knocking her down, only to have Becky climb back up for a top rope superplex and a huge crash for two more. Becky goes up as Trish goes for the door so Becky climbs down for the save.
Cue Zoey Stark to grab Trish’s arms but Becky pulls her back in….where Stark slams the door on her face. Not that it matters as the Manhandle Slam gets two, as Stark comes in for the save. Becky is back up and slams the door shut to fight both of them at once. A Manhandle Slam to Stark and a super Manhandle Slam to Trish are enough for the pin at 20:02.
Rating: B+. It was a heck of a fight and what matters is that it felt like the big blow of to the feud. That’s what it needed to be, as this feud has gone on long enough and it’s time for both of them to move on. As usual, Becky looks like a warrior who overcame the odds because very few can hang with her when she is at the top of her game. The Stark interference was a bit much but if that’s the only downside to the match, they did rather well.
Post match Stark gets up but Trish tells her to get out. That earns her a Z360, which should write Trish off TV.
Long video on Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Seth Rollins while they get rid of the cage.
Here is John Cena, who praises the opening match. He’s done a lot of things over the years but he’s never been a host. It’s his job to make the night special, so how about he guest referees LA Knight vs. the Miz! Cue the Miz to say he isn’t happy with this because Cena sucks as a host. Miz wants Cena to stay out of his match but Cena says that was his one idea. Does Miz have any other ideas? Sure: When the people making the Barbie movie call you, don’t say you’ll be a Merman! Miz suggests he take more initiative, so Cena says he’ll be the guest referee. He even has a shirt and we’re ready to go.
Miz vs. LA Knight
John Cena is guest referee. Miz stalls to start and walks up the aisle but Knight brings him back in and they slug it out on the mat. It’s Miz taking over and hitting the top rope ax handle for two. Knight is back up with a powerslam for two and Miz bails to the floor, where Knight hits a dropkick through the ropes. Knight sends him into a few things but goes inside to break the count, allowing Miz to manage a ram into the announcers’ table.
That doesn’t last long as Knight jumps onto the barricade for a clothesline to take over again. Back in and Knight hits a running clothesline before stomping away in the corner. That doesn’t work for Cena, who yells at Knight, allowing Miz to get in a cheap shot. A Codebreaker out of the corner gives Miz two and we hit the chinlock. The YES Kicks keeps Knight in trouble but he suplexes his way out of trouble.
The jumping neckbreaker and a middle rope bulldog drop Miz again and a running boot gets two. Miz’s DDT gets the same but a spinning DDT out of the corner gives Knight two more. Miz grabs a rollup with the rope for two and they both almost hit Cena. The Skull Crushing Finale gives Miz two more but Miz tries his own Five Knuckle Shuffle. The delay lets Knight come back with the powerslam and spelling elbow. Blunt Force Trauma finishes Miz at 15:41.
Rating: C+. This was a good bit longer than it needed to be but it wasn’t bad, with the important point being Knight’s win. It’s one of the bigger matches of his career and he beats a former World Champion, which is about all you could hope for here. Cena was there to pick things up a bit, but thankfully didn’t play a role in the ending. Good stuff, with the right result.
Post match Cena offers a handshake but Knight says Cena almost cost him the match. Knight does shake his hand.
We recap Austin Theory vs. Rey Mysterio for the US Title. Theory attacked Santos Escobar before Escobar’s US Title shot so Rey took the spot and won the title. Now it’s time for a rematch.
US Title: Rey Mysterio vs. Austin Theory
Rey is defending. They start fast with Rey taking him into the corner for some right hands as Cole is still listing off Rey’s career accomplishments. A clothesline cuts Rey off and a running version in the corner makes it worse. Theory grabs a suplex but another attempt is countered into a small package for two. A swinging sleeper drop sets up a chinlock on Rey, with Theory whispering something to him. Back up and Rey is sent chest first into the buckle before Theory starts going after the mask.
With that broken up, Rey hits a top rope moonsault to drop Theory again and they’re both down for a bit. Rey sends him outside for a sliding tornado DDT. Back in and the top rope seated senton gives Rey two more but Theory grabs a torture rack powerbomb for the same. A Town Down misses so Theory goes with the rolling dropkick. Rey is right back with the basement dropkick and they’re both down. The 619 connects for Rey but the slingshot splash hits knees. Theory tries A Town Down again but this time it’s reversed into a victory roll to retain the title at 9:49.
Rating: B-. This felt like a Smackdown main event and was a good bit better match than their original version. Mysterio can still go with anyone and seems likely to be ready for a showdown with Santos Escobar down the line. For now though, they had a good enough match and now Theory can move on to anything else.
Becky Lynch is interrupted by Tiffany Stratton, who forgot that Becky was never the NXT Women’s Title. Becky suggests that Stratton focus on her title defense, but maybe she’ll see Stratton soon. Stratton doesn’t seem worried.
We recap Judgment Day coming after Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens’ Tag Team Titles. They’ve been coming for the belts for awhile now, despite bickering a lot. Therefore, let’s have a street fight.
Tag Team Titles: Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens vs. Judgment Day
Finn Balor and Damian Priest are challenging in a street fight. The weapons are pulled out fast, with Balor not being pleased at the sight of a Terrible Towel. Owens gets a kendo stick knocked out of his hands but it’s Zayn hitting a big running flip dive to take the villains down. Trashcan shots rock Priest and Balor has a trashcan put on his head. The kendo stick shots put Balor down again so the fans request, and receive, tables.
Priest is back up for the save and Zayn gets stomped down in the corner. Owens fights back on Priest and unloads on him with stomping, plus a chair shot. Balor chairs Owens down but Zayn is back up to chair Balor down as well. The fight goes into the crowd and here is Dominik Mysterio to help take the champs down. We get a Judgment Day huddle but Owens (bleeding) and Zayn come back with Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys and hockey sticks.
Cole think they’re the Pittsburgh Steelers as the champs unload on Dominik. Back in and Owens pulls Priest off the apron for a ram into the steps, leaving Zayn to Blue Thunder Bomb Balor onto a pile of chairs. A bunch of chairs are set up inside but Priest Broken Arrows Zayn onto the chairs for two, with Owens throwing a chair at the cover for the save. They head back into the crowd with Owens having to fight out of a double teaming.
Zayn comes back in for the save and dives off the Kickoff Show desk to take them both down. Owens is back up to put Dominik on a table and there’s the Swanton off of a balcony. In the ring, Sami suplexes Balor into the corner but Priest throws a trashcan at Zayn’s head for two. Zayn fights back up and suplexes Priest into the corner and knocks Balor through a table at ringside.
Owens is back in to Stun Priest into the Helluva Kick but JD McDonagh pulls Zayn out at two. That earns McDonagh a powerbomb onto the announcers’ table but cue Rhea Ripley to spear Owens through the barricade. Back in and Balor shotgun dropkicks Zayn into the corner, only to miss the Coup de Grace. Zayn suplexes him into the corner again and the Helluva Kick gets two as Dominik makes the save with the briefcase to give Balor the pin and the titles at 20:43.
Rating: A-. This was ALL about the insanity and violence and that worked incredibly well. There were multiple times where I would have believed it was over and then it kept going, without ever feeling like it was going too long. It took five people, but Zayn and Owens finally lost the titles after a huge win earlier this year. The big thing here was that they changed the titles when there was almost no realistic way for Owens and Zayn to retain. That’s how it should have gone and my goodness this was a heck of a fight.
Here is Grayson Waller for the Grayson Waller Effect. Waller says his guest is a lot like Pittsburgh, in that neither of them can ever finish a story. Cue Cody Rhodes to talk about….nothing actually, as Waller cuts him off. Cody talks about how new Waller is at this and sums up how this is going to go, with the big ending being a Cross Rhodes to Waller.
Instead, Cody talks about the stars of NXT and of Smackdown, the latter of which included a recent issue that needs to be solved. Cody gets up and introduces the newest member of the Raw roster: Main Event Jey Uso. Jey comes in to pose but Waller cuts him off, only to get superkicked for his efforts. Well that’s a big moment.
We recap Rhea Ripley defending the Women’s World Title against Raquel Rodriguez. Ripley has taken out her knee a few times, but now Rodriguez is back and healthy, meaning it’s time to fight.
Raw Women’s Title: Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Rodriguez
Ripley is defending and we get the Big Match Intros. They trade the power shoves to start with neither getting very far. Rodriguez picks her up or a trip to the floor, where Ripley gets in a quick neck snap. Back in and Rodriguez is sent into the corner, where she blocks a whip with straight power. Rodriguez gets her up for a slam but Ripley is back with a running clothesline and some right hands.
Ripley slowly stomps away before snapmaring her into a seated abdominal stretch. A front facelock keeps Rodriguez down but she manages to power Ripley off. Back up and some clotheslines rock Ripley and there’s the fall away slam. The middle rope spinning elbow is broken up though and Ripley goes up top for some headbutts. Rodriguez knocks her down again though and now the middle rope corkscrew elbow connects.
Back up and Ripley gets in a faceplant, setting up a running knee for two. Riptide is blocked though and Rodriguez drops her throat first onto the top rope. Ripley goes back to the bad knee and gets the Prism Trap, which is broken up as well. A powerslam gives Rodriguez two but Ripley is back to the knee. They head outside with Rodriguez hitting a powerbomb against the post (ouch) but cue Dominik Mysterio. That’s fine with Rodriguez, who gives him a running powerslam. Ripley kicks the knee out again though and Riptide retains the title at 17:18.
Rating: C. This was another match that went longer than it needed to and that really held it down. Rodriguez felt like one of the first people who could hang in the ring physically with Ripley but that is only going to take things so far. Rodriguez having that kind of size negates one of the biggest advantages that Ripley has but it was hard to fathom Rodriguez actually winning the title. Not an awful match, but keeping this as an eight minute hoss fight would have been WAY more entertaining.
John Cena, in a jacket that doesn’t fit and in a pink bow tie, talks to Judgment Day about their win. There is no trouble in the ranks and insist that they are stronger than ever.
We recap Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the World Heavyweight Title. Nakamura turned on him and revealed that Rollins had a bad back. Then Nakamura mentioned Rollins’ family, which was too far for Rollins to go.
Raw World Title: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Seth Rollins
Nakamura is challenging and has a special video in Japanese (with animation), talking about how he’ll remove the burden of being champion from Rollins’ back. As a bonus, the Great Muta of all people is here to watch the match. Nakamura goes after the arm to start but Rollins reverses into a hammerlock. Rollins takes him to the mat and grabs a quickly broken STF.
Back up and Nakamura tells him to COME ON so Rollins strikes away. With Nakamura knocked outside, Rollins hits the required suicide dive, followed by a springboard Swanton back inside. Another suicide dive connects but Nakamura is fine enough to drop Rollins onto the announcers’ table. Nakamura hits the running knee in the corner and then drops another to put Rollins on the floor again.
The half crab doesn’t last long as Rollins fights up and grabs a super hurricanrana. The back is too hurt to follow up though and they’re both down for a bit. A Sling Blade into a frog splash gives Rollins two so he yells about his family being brought into this. The Stomp misses and Nakamura hits the middle rope knee to the chest for another near fall. The sliding German suplex gives Nakamura two more but the Kinshasa is cut off with a superkick.
Nakamura gets the triangle choke, which is countered into a sitout powerbomb for two. They slug it out until Nakamura connects with a kick to the head. Both of them go up top with a super Landslide giving Nakamura two. Kinshasa to the back of the head connects but Rollins collapses before the regular version can connect. Rollins is knocked to the apron but comes back with a Pedigree for two. The stomp from out of nowhere finishes Nakamura at 25:56.
Rating: B. Remember how I’ve taken issue with matches going too long almost all night long? That was the case again here as the match was very good but often felt like they were trying to fill in the long run time. Nakamura did his usual good match, but it wasn’t like there was much of a reason to believe Nakamura was anything more than the challenger of the month.
Rollins kneels in the ring due to his back as Nakamura walks around ringside for a long time….and that’s it.
Overall Rating: B. From a quality standpoint, this show was quite good with only the Women’s Title match not being pretty good at worst. That being said, they really needed another match or two on here so that the already existing matches didn’t have to be dragged out so long. Six matches does not make for much of a pay per view card and that was a glaring issue all night. It also was only so eventful of a show, with Jey Uso jumping to Raw and the Tag Team Title change being the only important parts. Good show if you’re looking for quality wrestling, but not as much for big time forward movements.
Becky Lynch b. Trish Stratus – Super Manhandle Slam
LA Knight b. The Miz – BFT
Rey Mysterio b. Austin Theory – Victory roll
Judgment Day b. Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens – Briefcase shot to Zayn
Rhea Ripley b. Raquel Rodriguez – Riptide
Seth Rollins b. Shinsuke Nakamura – Stomp
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