The Andre battle royal was pretty jobber-riffic this year. Felt more like the throwaway battle royals they used to have as dark matches before rebranding it for Andre. Matt Hardy winning was fine, having some angle advancement with Bray Wyatt salvaged it. Not much else to it.
Cedric Alexander over Mustafa Ali was pretty good. It got about as much time and fanfare as I was expecting, both guys seemed really pleased to be in that spot, and it was a good *** or so showing.
The women's battle royal was more fun than the men's, but that finish was really tone deaf. Bayley seemingly wins (to a big pop) but then it turns out Naomi was not really eliminated and is put in the awkward position of being a babyface winning in a heel-like fashion with no thought or reason behind it.
Seth Rollins over Miz and Finn Balor was a great opening match for the main show. Great energy and flow and set an optimistic tone for the show. It was knocking on four stars, hovering in the ***3/4 range for me.
Charlotte over Asuka from video package to finish was fantastic. I appreciate the touch of Charlotte imitating the Triple H entrance that she participated in years ago, this time with her as the queen with male eye-candy around her. The match itself was just what it needed to be and I was genuinely caught off-guard when Asuka tapped. Tremendous professional wrestling, ****1/4.
Jinder winning the U.S. title in the most boring fashion possible was disappointing. This is what they should have done with him last year, but after his dismal WWE title reign, this feels like a rerun. This was something in the ** range.
I think most people are getting carried away with the praise of Rousey/Angle vs. Triple H/Steph. That spot where Steph countered an armbar was ludicrous. That is up there in the hall of fame for self-indulgent booking. Also, Rousey was as green as I expected her to be, almost to the point where it seemed really awkward. The second half of the match kept a great pace and turned into a really fun match before it ended, but I am in no way in agreement with the ****+ reviews I'm seeing across the web. I'd say ***1/2, but in a nice way.
At this point, I was feeling like this was turning into an all-time classic 'Mania.
Then the Smackdown tag match turned into a *1/2 popcorn match. That's okay.
Then the John Cena/Undertaker stuff happened, and I'm actually okay with how it played out. I can see why they didn't want to officially advertise it in advance as it seems Undertaker can only handle a quick squash. If the other option was a painful, embarrassing 25 minute attempt like last year, I'm glad they went with a surreal squash. I'd call this a "good" * match.
Then the Shane/Bryan vs. Steenerico match happened, and like the Rousey tag, started off pretty dismal. I did not enjoy watching Shane suffer through having to sell (and still attempt coast to coast) one bit. Once Bryan got back, things turned around, and was cathartic to see him back in the ring. I'd probably go with **1/2.
Nia Jax over Alexa Bliss worked for me. Enjoyable semi-squash, perhaps too long (given length of the show) but in a vacuum, there was a lot to like here. I'd go **3/4.
I'm a little torn on AJ vs. Nakamura, as the assumption going into this was that they would have a balls-to-the-wall classic, get all those smarky chants, and turn into a New Japan main event. Instead, it was a deliberately paced, just really solidly worked wrestling match. I actually appreciate AJ winning with a single Styles Clash and the post-match heel turn was excellent. This was hovering around ***3/4.
I was initially annoyed with Braun and the kid winning the tag titles, but with some reflection, it was pretty funny. Also, you can imagine every child in the audience connected to this in a big way. Also enjoyed Cesaro and Sheamus coming out with the Mardi Gras parade and then watching Braun chase them all away. Not a good match or anything, probably should have been on the kick-off show too, *.
Brock over Roman wasn't all that bad, just felt like more of the same sort of match that Lesnar is willing to do, and external factors to the fanbase continuing to reject Roman hurt it too. Still, if you're putting together this match, and you know the most vocal fans in attendance are resisting Roman, why book a match that is geared to making Roman look so sympathetic? By the time Roman was kicking out of 3-4 F-5's, I felt myself turning on the match too. Reigns getting busted open was a bit shocking in this day and age, as was the complete surprise of Lesnar retaining. I'd call this ** and hope for something more interesting next year.