Photo credit- WWE
Well. It’s time. The final show to be held inside the WWE Thunderdome. It’s been an absolutely hectic year and the pandemic era of wrestling finally ends tonight. Now the final question remains: Will WWE’s final show inside the thunderdome end in a bang? Let’s find out!
GOOD: First up is Xavier Woods vs the WWE champion Bobby Lashley. A really good story with Lashley absolutely manhandling Woods and constantly taunting Kofi with it. Xavier’s occasional hope spots are very well done,too. Very similar booking to their hell in a cell match a few weeks ago. The only difference is that here we had a very surprising ending to this match with Xavier actually upsetting Lashley. While I am not a fan of the champion taking a loss RIGHT before the title defense Sunday, in this sense it kind of works. They’re building the story that Lashley is going soft so a loss to Xavier makes sense. I’m not a fan of Lashley being pinned, but the overall resolution makes sense for the foreseeable story.
Result: Woods defeats Lashley via pinfall
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 3.25 stars
GOOD: MVP is interviewed backstage about Lashley’s loss. He says that Lashley is fine and that this was just a slip up. MVP says that Lashley will be on the VIP lounge later tonight. A good little segment that set up the story going forward.
AVERAGE: Up next is an edition of Alexa’s playground with Eva Marie and Doudrop as guests. Alexa hypes up the fatal four match tonight and the money in the bank ladder match and says that she’s excited at the idea of her having the contract. Eva is insulted that she hasn’t been introduced yet. Alexa likes Doudrop’s name and asks if she could sum up her time on Raw in one word, what would it be. Eva interrupts and says that it’s been “Eva-lutionary.” Alexa says that she asked Doudrop the question and says that she was the real guest and Eva was just a bonus. Eva is insulted and says that she’s the star and says this is the last time she’ll appear on the playground. She says the playground is dingy, saying that’s why Alexa invited Doudrop in the first place. Alexa childishly mocks Eva to end the segment. I’m not gonna lie both Alexa and Eva have grown on me recently. They both still need work but I’m starting to really enjoy both. As for this segment in particular, it was alright. Eva continues to be condescending towards Doudrop and Alexa as a face is much better.
GOOD: Jinder Mahal, Veer and Shanky are out next to discuss Drew McIntyre. He says he might have taken things a bit too far last week and says that he’ll give Drew back his sword if he comes to the ring and shakes his hand. Drew instead appears on the tron and is in the parking lot. He says that Jinder is a tough bastard, but he should cut the crap and show him the sword. Jinder is insulted that Drew doesn’t trust him, and says that he simply got the sword cleaned up for him. However, Jinder shows Drew a broken sword, much to Jinder’s “surprise.” Drew says that the sword Jinder has is actually a replica and shows Jinder the real sword. McIntyre then exacts revenge by destroying Jinder’s motorcycle. Compared to what most people think, I don’t think Jinder is a bad promo at all. I think it more so comes down to what he’s given in terms of script. This segment showed that. Jinder was perfectly fine in this segment and Drew destroying Jinder’s bike is a natural progression for the story they’re telling, even if the story of stealing the sword is relatively weak in the first place. Plus I’m a sucker for vehicle destruction.
AVERAGE: Up next is the fatal four way between the raw competitors in the women’s money in the bank ladder match as Alexa Bliss takes on Naomi, Asuka and Nikki A.S.H. Before the match Nikki and Riddle have a backstage segment where Riddle talks about Nikki being a superhero. He asks why Nikki doesn’t just simply fly to the top of the ladder and win the briefcase that way, but Nikki reinforces that she’s almost a superhero. Eva and Doudrop come out during the match to scout the action, most likely Alexa due to the earlier segment. Doudrop and Alexa have a staredown and they come to blows, resulting in Doudrop throwing Alexa over the barricade. However, Alexa then mysteriously disappears. From this point on the match basically becomes a triple threat and it’s honestly pretty alright for the most part. Nikki’s character is definitely growing to the point where I like it and Asuka and Naomi have a lot of great exchanges. Another surprising win for Nikki and I’m genuinely happy WWE is deciding to push her in some capacity.
Result: Nikki wins via pinfall after pinning Asuka
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 2.5 Stars
AVERAGE: The Viking Raiders are interviewed backstage about their upcoming matches. They talk about how AJ and Omos insult their way of life, but that they will prove themselves tonight and move on to Money in the Bank to win the tag team titles. The content of the promos themselves were whatever but the genuine hype that the Raiders delivered during them actually got me a bit hyped. They have a lot of genuine energy that’s honestly great.
AVERAGE: Up next is AJ Styles vs Ivar. AJ cuts an ok promo before the match saying that he shouldn’t call them barbarians, but instead they’re hairy barbarians. He says they were dumb to think they could take on the tag team champions and says he will make Ivar tap to the Calf Crusher. AJ also hypes up Omos’ singles debut. A decent little match between the two and a very shocking win by Ivar against AJ.
Result: Ivar defeats AJ via pinfall.
John Cerenzio WR Star Ratings: 3 stars.
SATISFACTORY: Immediately after is Erik vs Omos. The story of this match is basic but decently effective with Omos being put over as an absolute monster. Omos is certainly limited when it comes to in ring but in terms of booking, Omos can be a guy that gets a decent singles push one day.
Result: Omos defeats Erik via pinfall.
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 2.25 Stars
GOOD; Sheamus is back on Raw and vents to Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville. He vents about the fact that he’s forced to defend the title against Humberto Carrillo, the man that broke his nose in the first place. He questions how much WWE cares about their superstars and storms off. Sheamus always has a great intensity to his promos that makes him highly entertaining plus he brings up the good point that Humberto is being rewarded for injuring a fellow wrestler.
GREAT: The New Day and Lucha House Party talk backstage and they congratulate each other for their recent successes. New Day is then interviewed about Lashley and Kofi is hyped that Xavier beat Bobby earlier. They are informed that Lashley will return later for the VIP lounge and reinforces the point that Lashley has gone soft and thanks MVP for causing that. Kofi ends by saying that Sunday he’ll become a two time WWE champion and give the WWE universe a champion to be proud of. This was a very good promo from New Day. Kofi continues to really make people think he could have a chance to beat Lashley and I really like the story of Lashley going soft and letting his guard down.
GOOD: Before their title match, Sheamus attacks Humberto backstage, screaming for people to shut up. As producers come to check on Carrillo, Damian Priest walks past Sheamus and the two stare. I smell a potential future challenger for Sheamus very soon. Maybe even the new US champion?
AVERAGE: Up next is the United States Championship match as Sheamus defends against Humberto Carrillo. Humberto is backstage and says that he doesn’t want the match prolonged any longer and that he’s waited long enough for a title shot, so he chooses to fight injured. This was like a 10 second match so this isn’t even really worth rating as an actual match. Sheamus simply Brogue Kicks Humberto immediately and wins. Sheamus continues to beat up Humberto after the match until Priest makes the save. I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get an actual title match, but Sheamus quickly demolishing Humberto was the right move overall and I’m hyped for Priest to potentially take the belt off of Sheamus.
MUST WATCH: Up next is the falls count anywhere match between Ricochet and John Morrison. Before the match, Ricochet and Riddle have a backstage segment talking about money in the bank. Riddle says that if he wins he’ll surprise Randy by cashing in on the tag team titles. Miz and Morrison interrupt, spray them with the drip stick and run over Riddle’s injured foot with the wheelchair. Both men were incredible in this match, especially Ricochet. I’m really happy WWE finally woke up and realized that they have Ricochet on their roster and let him do these crazy spots week in and week out. A 450 splash off the barricade and a shooting star press off the turnbuckle to the outside were absolutely mental spots. Riddle eventually comes out to be the equalizer and takes out Miz. This allows Ricochet to take advantage with a midair recoil. Ricochet eventually wins with a splash on Morrison through a ladder to the outside. A fantastic and fun match between these two amazing high flying wrestlers. Also a nice little tease for what’s in store for the money in the bank ladder match. Check this match out.
Result: Ricochet defeats Morrison via pinfall.
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 4.25 stars
SATISFACTORY: Natalya and Tamina are interviewed backstage and Natalya talks about her match with Rhea Ripley tonight. Natalya also says she is going to win the women’s ladder match Sunday and win the one title she hasn’t won: the Raw Women’s championship. However, they’re then interrupted by Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke. They exchange words as Mandy doesn’t like Nattie’s chances Sunday or even tonight. The segment ends with Tamina shoving Dana. A serviceable segment but I would just like these two teams to just face and move on to something else.
AVERAGE: Drew McIntyre is interviewed about his chances at Money in the Bank. Drew talks about the story of Icarus and says that they should call him “Tricky Icky” because he’s gonna fly high and win the briefcase. A decent segment here. I’m just happy Drew didn’t go too in-depth with his history lessons this time.
GOOD: Up next is Natalya vs the Raw Women’s champion Rhea Ripley. Rhea Ripley is interviewed backstage about her match with Charlotte this Sunday and says that she exposed her as a drama queen and will actually give her a reason to use crutches. This wasn’t anything special but definitely one of Rhea’s better recent promos. Honestly this was a much better match then I had anticipated going in. Rhea definitely has more chemistry with Natalya then other people on the roster like Asuka. Pleasantly surprised with this match. Post match, Charlotte chop blocks Rhea and puts her in the figure four. A decent sendoff to the match Sunday but please let this be the end of this feud.
Result: Rhea defeats Natalya via pinfall.
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 3.25 stars
SATISFACTORY: A quick backstage interview with Charlotte discussing her attack on Rhea. She says her dirty tactics she learned from the dirtiest player in the game and that Sunday she will beat Rhea.
GREAT: To end the show we have MVP’s VIP Lounge with WWE champion Bobby Lashley. MVP hypes up Lashley saying that he’s dominated the Thunderdome era of WWE to the point that it should be renamed the Lashleydome. MVP calls out Lashley, but Bobby is nowhere to be found. Lashley eventually comes out, looking very dejected. Lashley tells the ladies to leave the ring and wants to talk to MVP alone. He says that, ultimately, Kofi was right about him and that he’s gone soft. He says that he should’ve beaten Woods earlier but he was more focused on his ladies and the glory. Bobby appreciates everything MVP did for him but says it’s time to cut the bullshit and get back to business. He finishes by destroying the VIP lounge and saying that Sunday he’s gonna do what he should’ve done weeks ago and destroy Kofi. This is exactly what needed to happen. Lashley finally admitting he’s gone soft and feels he has to get back to what brought him to the dance in the first place is great. I’m really excited for Lashley to be amazing again. This was also easily one of Lashley’s best promos he’s ever cut if not the best promo he’s ever cut.
Overall, this was an enjoyable ending to the thunderdome era of WWE. A lot of good build to Money In the Bank this Sunday and I can’t wait until the return of fans this Friday. The show was a tad weak in terms of in ring action, but the falls count anywhere match and a surprisingly good match between Rhea and Natalya certainly made up for that. The story between Lashley and Kofi is absolutely great too. Thankfully we’re getting the old Lashley back. However, now it’s time to see how WWE fairs in a new era with live crowds once again.
Show theme & presentation: 6/10
Crowd Reaction: 6/10
Storyline Progression: 8/10
Overall show rating: 6.8/10