WWE hosted Super Show-Down Saturday night from the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia. A crowd of 70,309 made their way inside for a Wrestlemania-sized event filled with RAW and SmackDown Live superstars.
We saw the Shield take on the trio of Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman for group-supremacy on RAW. AJ Styles and Samoa Joe squared off for the WWE Championship in what was arguably the most personal chapter of their feud yet.
Buddy Murphy and the Iiconics each received homecoming ovations in their returns to Australia against Cedric Alexander for the Cruiserweight Championship and the team of Naomi and Asuka, respectively.
The New Day (C) vs. The Bar
Cesaro and Sheamus got a great opening reaction from the Australian crowd. Admittedly, they were my pick to win here since the challengers ended the New Day’s landmark tag-team title run in 2016. On top of that, this is arguably the most high-profile match of the Bar’s career since they’ve been drafted to SmackDown Live in April 2018. While the Bar was in control early on with several submission holds through several tags, Xavier Woods got the “hot tag” from Kofi Kingston to give the New Day a brief bit of momentum. Cesaro would put Woods in a Sharpshooter and Sheamus’ attempted to stop Kofi outside the ring, but the Bar’s expert wrestling abilities would be no match for the longest-reigning tag-team champions in WWE history. A good match, but something tells me this feud is far from over.
Winner: The New Day Time: 9:38 Rating: 3 Stars
Becky Lynch (C) vs. Charlotte Flair
From this match alone, you can tell how huge the Melbourne Cricket Ground really are with Charlott’s entrance being cut off for the champion in Lynch. This deeply personal feud began its second part with an Australian crowd loudly in favor of Lynch, showing Becky’s popularity is international and not just located in North America. Charlotte came out of the gate looking desperate to regain the SmackDown Women’s Championship, but that aggressiveness would lead to open opportunities for offense from Becky, throwing her out of the ring and into the post, for example. Becky tried to play up all the heel monikers of bending Charlotte fingers and trying to break her arm in multiple “Dis-Arm-Her” attempts. While Charlotte made it look like she had Becky beat at multiple points, Becky saved her title reign by hitting Charlotte with the title belt. A flat finish, but I’m sure these two “Hoursewomen” are saving their best for the Evolution pay-per-view in three weeks.
Winner (via DQ): Charlotte Flair Time: 10:50 Rating: 3 Stars
Bobby Lashley and John Cena vs. Elias and Kevin Owens
As a diehard AC/DC fan, I admittedly marked out when Elias began his guitar solo with the opening riff of “Thunderstruck.” With their Collingwood potshots and pro-Canada quips, Owens and Elias proved they could get heel heat in front of a WWE Universe audience in almost any country. Cena, in his first appearance since WrestleMania and sporting a snazzy new hair-do, received one of the largest ovations of the night. Honestly, this felt like a “one-man-versus-two-men” feud with a random addition of one of the most popular superstars in WWE history in Cena. I understand the inclusion of Elias interrupting Cena’s moment with the Undertaker at WrestleMania in April, but it felt like Cena was often taking the place of Lashley’s new manager, Lio Rush. That being said, Lashley showed that he could handle two mid-card contenders on the RAW roster all on his own at multiple points during the match. After the usual heel double-team against the dominator in Lashley, Cena got the tag and unloaded six-months of pent-up ass-whoopings on “the Drifter” and the former Universal Champion in Owens. Although I’m not a huge fan of the “lethality” of his heralded “sixth move of doom,” this match served as a “Welcome Back, Cena” moment for the 16-time world champion. Not a fantastic match, but a happy moment for the Australian fans who may have never seen Cena on this grand of a stage.
Winner: Bobby Lashley and John Cena Time: 10:05 Rating: 2.5 Stars
Asuka and Naomi vs. The Iiconics
Coming out first, the Australian duo received a large, home-country ovation from their Australian countrymen and women. Corey Graves’ comment during Naomi’s entrance that “I don’t know how this bodes for Asuka’s career, I liked when she just kicked people really hard and didn’t dance quite as much,” will be interesting to keep in mind in the next few months with Asuka’s booking for the SmackDown Women’s title. It seemed like the new face duo of Asuka and Naomi played around with the hometown “heroes” like a cat with a ball of yarn, but the former Iiconic Duo picked up a quick win much to the cheer of many in the Australia crowd. Admittedly, I picked the Iiconics to pick up the win, so the finish wasn’t that big of a surprise to me, but I hope that SmackDown’s booking team have a long-term plan for the “Empress of Tomorrow,” whose appearance on SmackDown has been one of the most underwhelming showings in 2018. An alright match, but it seemed like Asuka and Naomi were leading the eventual winners to the final moments of the match.
Winner: The Iiconics Time: 5:45 Rating: 2 Stars
AJ Styles (C) vs. Samoa Joe
AJ Styles is the certified man on SmackDown Live. Hearing the ovation of the Melbourne audience shows that AJ has worldwide appeal as a nearly year-long WWE Champion, even in comparison to the cheers given to the challenger Joe. I loved the opening of the match with both men staring each other down before immediately running towards each other for the opening lock-up outside the squared circle. This deeply personal match felt like an ultimate showdown between the former TNA superstars with Joe wanting to show he is the most dominant SmackDown superstar and AJ wanting to defend his families honor. This featured all the highlights of their previous match-ups at SummerSlam and Hell in a Cell. Joe laid out a number of viscous strikes with his fists and with the environment around the ring. AJ used Joe’s introduced weapons as equalizers in order to gain momentum against the challenger and focused on Joe’s weakened appendages.
Joe almost seemed to be playing with his opponent in an effort to debilitate him in order to reach the three-count and win his coveted prize. But in the end, although Joe seemed to have beaten Styles to his physical limits, AJ locked in his “Calf-Crusher” and defeated Joe with a clean-as-a-sheet tap-out victory. This match made me feel like there’s only three men who could possibly knock off the Phenomenal One for the WWE Championship: The Miz, Daniel Bryan or Randy Orton. But regardless of who is the next in line for the championship, the last 11 months have proven AJ Styles have shown what it takes to be a legitimate WWE Champion.
Winner: AJ Styles Time: 23:45 Rating: 3.5 Stars
Ronda Rousey and the Bella Twins vs. The Riott Squad
While the Bellas received a noticeable reaction, Ronda Rousey once again proved she is the undisputed, most-popular woman on the roster. I’d even put her above Becky in terms of her reaction in front of the live crowds. It was also good to see Liv Morgan back in the ring and healthy after Brie knocking her out on RAW two weeks ago. Their interaction with each other was a perfect in-match mention and close of their “mini-feud” which has been mentioned ad nauseam on the Internet in the last two weeks.
This match reminded me a lot of the Lasley/Cena-Elias/Owens match in the sense that there was a goal to put over a certain team (in this case being the faces of the Bellas and Rousey). While nothing exceptional, this match served a purpose of showing how lethal Rousey is in the ring with her tap-out victory of both Morgan and Sarah Logan.
Winner: Ronda Rousey and the Bellas Time: 10:05 Rating: 2 Stars
Cedric Alexander (C) vs. Buddy Murphy
If you couldn’t tell from the crowd, WWE’s cameras made it well-known that the Melbourne Cricket Ground might as well be Buddy Murphy’s backyard. This was the first “pay-per-view” Cruiserweight title match since the Greatest Royal Rumble in April, so the two competitors were doing everything they could to wow the crowd in their primetime slot. Murphy held control of this match for a good portion of the beginning, but Alexander regained some semblance of control after delivering a Michinoku Driver from the top rope.
All in all, this was a high-energy match with quick spot sequences to wake up any members of the crowd who weren’t paying attention. But in the end, Murphy picked up the victory with a pump-handle driver, putting an end to Cedric Alexander’s championship winning streak on 205 Live. This was one of the highlights of the night for the Melbourne faithful seeing their countryman reach the mountaintop in their homeland. If it’s anything like this match, their rematch will be nothing short of “must-see.”
Winner: Buddy Murphy Time: 10:35 Rating: 3 Stars
The Shield vs. Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler
Having these six just absolutely waylay each other in the opening minutes of this match was the best way to showcase how much these two teams absolutely despise each other. Once the match got started, the heels just picked apart the Hounds of Justice in two-on-one and three-on-one assaults while the Shield brothers looked on in rising anger. After an all-eyes-on-me crash-and-burn by Strowman from the top rope, Rollins was able to tag in Ambrose and give the Shield a bit of momentum. Reigns’ inadvertent Superman Punch to Ambrose was a well-placed spot in order to sew more doubt in the relationship between Ambrose with Reigns and Rollins. The overtly-obvious teasing of an Ambrose turn will be a fun storyline to milk over the next few months, with my guess that we will see an Ambrose turn sometime between Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble. Reigns’ spear to Strowman on the outside was an expertly timed moment near the end of the match before Ambrose hit the Dirty Deeds on Ziggler to get the victory. A match filled with chaos and planted seeds for the next few months of storylines, but a highlight of the night.
Winner: The Shield Time: 19:40 Rating: 3.5 Stars
The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan received a huge “YES!” chant on his behalf from the Melbourne crowd. An angry Miz started the match with a number of attacks at Bryan’s injured ribs.
Other than that, I don’t really have anything else to say about this match because of Bryan’s quick roll-up victory. My reaction matched that of the Melbourne crowd, with not a cheer of surprise, but a silence of “Oh wait, was that the win? Oh, okay, yay Daniel Bryan!” The bottom chyron at the bottom of the screen announced that the AJ-Bryan match would take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at WWE Crown Jewel event in early November. I don’t want to give this match a rating because not enough action took place, but I will say this was an interesting decision for the next chapter of the Miz-Bryan feud.
Winner: Daniel Bryan Time: 2:25
The Undertaker vs. Triple H
Fun-fact: The combined age of the four men involved in this match is 206. Part of me looks at that age and really wants these four to retire in order to give the likes of Reigns, Rollins, Ambrose, Bālor, McIntyre, Strowman and Elias the main event slot. But another part of me knows that Super Show-Down would not have sold as many tickets or have received the buzz it has gotten without their inclusion (just listen to the pop Undertaker got after that first gong-toll!) Plus, who isn’t a fan of at least one of the four men in or around the ring?
I’ll give WWE credit in that they pulled out all the stops to make this match feel as special as humanly possible. The unexpected tweak of making it a no-disqualification match added a bit of last minute intrigue, especially given the two men at ringside. A majority of ‘Taker’s offense came from quick punches, although admittedly, he was able to throw around Triple H when the moment called for it. I also really liked Triple H trying to do his best Conor McGregor impression holding his fists behind his back in front of a seething Undertaker.
There were a lot of moments where it seemed like the two were pulling tricks out of their bag of “Greatest Hits” from their numerous matches over the years. The two fighting near the tech-area was a call-back to their match at WrestleMania X-Seven. Taker tried to choke Triple H with a cable, which I believe is the first time a WWE wrestler has done a move like that since Daniel Bryan choked Justin Roberts with the announcer’s tie in 2010. Triple H kicked out of a Tombstone Piledriver and Undertaker growing a thousand-yard stare in disbelief ala Taker-Shawn at WrestleMania 25. The Hell’s Gate spot where Triple H got a hold on the sledgehammer and choked each other into exhaustion was a call-back to WrestleMania 27. Shawn super-kicking the Deadman before a final Pedigree was a bit of a throwback to the Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania 28.
This match reminded me a lot of the Sting-Triple H match from WrestleMania 31 in that while it was an okay match, there was an overabundance of interference and “gaga” to make up for any lulls in action. (Triple H elbowing Kane through a table, the introduction of chairs, tables and sledgehammers, etc.) The surprise ending of the Brothers of Destruction laying waste to HBK and HHH is a dead give-away to me that there might be a tag-team match between the four sometime in the next month, most likely in Saudi Arabia. While not the most technically sound match, it was a match that told a cohesive, interesting story.
Winner: Triple H Time: 27:35 Rating: 3 Stars
Overall Thoughts: To be honest, I didn’t have that high of hopes for this pay-per-view in the sense that I thought this match would be very ho-hum and nothing to write back to the United States about. However, I’ll fully admit that I was proven wrong with the majority of this card. Match of the night honors for me goes to Joe and AJ, with the RAW six-man tag, Undertaker-Triple H and the Cruiserweight title match rounding out the top of the order. All eyes are now on the Evolution and Crown Jewel pay-per-views which will be taking place within a week of each other in late October into early November. But based on the storyline seeds planted here tonight, alongside some of the already announced matches like the triple-threat between Roman, Braun and Brock, we may be in-store for a star-studded next few weeks of television.
Final Super Show-Down Rating: 3 Stars