(1) Zack Ryder Conor beat O’Brian. Ryder came out to a good pop as the first star out. O’Brian was billed as “The Ascension” despite no longer being part of the NXT tag team. He cut a heel promo while walking to the ring and quickly looked very powerful while beating Ryder down convincingly. Ryder fought back and hit all his usual spots including the Rough Ryder for the pin and the win. Good opening match and good to see some NXT talent on the road.
After the show, O’Brian tweeted: “The Ascension rose tonight at #WWEMontgomery. Beware, WWE. You’ve had fair warning.”
Next was Tensai vs. Alex Riley. Tensai’s lingerie dance from Raw was shown on the screen and he came out to some heel heat. A-Ry came out to a good pop, but then Vickie Guerrero came out on-stage and declared the match would be a dance-off. A-Ry said he refused to lower himself to that level, especially in Montgomery, and was roundly booed. Tensai obliged with a few dance moves before A-Ry hit him from behind. Tensai was now the face and Riley was the heel! This was a very interesting turn of events.
(2) Tensai beat Alex Riley. Riley didn’t get too much offense in and Tensai won after his powerbomb and running senton moves, and even mixed in a few dance moves along the way. After the match, Riley tried to invoke the “rock in my shoe” re-match clause (I’m not kidding). The re-match was over quickly as Riley took off his shoe, then Tensai hit one power move and a running senton to get the re-match pin. Strange dynamic here but it was entertaining.
(3) Divas champion Kaitlyn beat Tamina Snuka to retain the Divas Title. Kaitlyn received a warm welcome and Tamina did not. This was a pretty physical and actually well-wrestled Divas match. Both women got their offense in until Tamina eventually tried the Superfly Splash, but Kaitlyn rolled out of the way then hit the spear for the pin. A better-than-average Divas match.
Next was Team Hell No vs. The Shield for the Tag Team Titles. The Shield came down from their usual stairway spots in the arena. Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns were the two foes who faced Hell No while Seth Rollins slinked around the outside causing havoc every chance he got. Daniel Bryan got his usual massive “yes” and “no” crowd chants.
(4) WWE tag champions Daniel Bryan & Kane beat The Shield (Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns w/Seth Rollins) via DQ; Bryan & Kane retained the Tag Titles. Good back and forth action and excellent ring work between Bryan and Ambrose. Bryan got the hot tag late to Kane, who went on a rampage. Chaos broke out in the ring and finally Kane was about to chokeslam Ambrose, but Rollins ran in and hit Kane with a chair to force the DQ. Bryan and Kane then delivered chairshots the Shield members and cleared them out.
After the match, Bryan demanded an apology from Kane for eliminating him from the Royal Rumble. Kane shouted, “No!” and they got in a shoving match before Kane offered his out-stretched arms for a hug. Bryan reluctantly and hilariously inched closer and closer before finally embracing Kane. They celebrated and exited together in triumph.
Next was Jack Swagger vs. Justin Gabriel. Lots of the crowd including myself hadn’t returned to their seats due to the horrendously slow service at the concession stands.
(5) Jack Swagger beat Justin Gabriel via submission. It turned out to be a lifeless match with Swagger getting almost all the offense (well at least after I returned). I can’t tell if Swagger looks more muscular or just fatter after his time off. Swagger won with the anklelock submission as Gabriel tapped out pretty quickly.
Next was Antonio Cesaro vs. The Miz for the U.S. Title. Before the match, Cesaro cut his usual anti-American promo and got MASSIVE heat. He stated he would be U.S. champion for a “long” time, but repeated the word “long” about 100 times before finishing. The Miz came out to so-so cheers at first. The match was voted on throughout the night, and turned out to be a No DQ match (which beat out a 2/3 Falls).
(6) U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro beat The Miz in a No DQ match to retain the U.S. Title. This was the best match of the night. It was excellently booked with methodical offense to start, and then built up to kendo sticks, chairs, and eventually a table. Cesaro teased pulling out a table a couple of times to the crowd’s delight, but once he realized they wanted it, he slid the table back under the ring. Miz tried to get a table out and was thwarted by Cesaro, who again slid it back under the ring for big heat. Miz got several “Let’s Go Miz” chants as he became a big fan favorite as the match wore on. Both men performed well and sold well. Miz performed his best looking figure-four yet and the crowd was really into this spot. Eventually, Miz got a table in the ring and there were a few near-table-crashes, then Cesaro speared Miz into the table set up in the corner of the ring. Miraculously, Miz kicked out and both men had some tremendous nearfalls. Cesaro finally hit the Neutralizer for the pin. (How can Miz kick out of a table shot, but not the Neutralizer?) Cesaro looked strong in victory but Miz also looked strong in defeat.
Afterward, Miz got a nice crowd cheer as he sold injury getting out of the ring. Both men worked their tails off in this match, got the crowd heavily involved in the action, and the match was the highlight of the show.
Main Event time with Dolph Ziggler and C.M. Punk vs. John Cena and Ryback. Ziggler was out first with A.J. Lee and Big E Langston to some good heat. Punk was out next and actually got some cheers to start. Once he hit the ring, it was all heat as he nearly choked ring announcer Justin Roberts demanding him to announce that Punk was the true people’s champion. Roberts complied. Ryback came out next to a very large pop, then Cena came out with the night’s biggest pop although not much bigger than Ryback’s. Once all four men were in the ring, they took turns climbing the corners to show off to the crowd, except Ryback, who did the “Feed Me More” chant. Even the referee was made to climb the ropes and show off, which got laughs from the crowd. Punk and Ziggler both slowly and heelishly took off their shirts. A.J. pretended to try to take her shirt off, but Punk and Ziggler quickly ran over to stop her (no joke). Punk faked throwing his shirt to kids in the crowd and also jawed with some other young kids. Cena ran out to hug the kids after that.
(7) John Cena & Ryback beat C.M. Punk & Dolph Ziggler (w/A.J. and Big E. Langston). Once the match finally got started, Punk did most of the offensive damage to Ryback while Ziggler did most of the selling for Cena when he was in. Ryback actually did quite a bit of selling in the match, which was surprising. At one point, the ref was distracted, so Big E. ran in and delivered his big move to Ryback and the ref turned and saw him sliding out of the ring. With the crowd’s coaxing, the ref threw Langston out and back to the locker room. A.J. then ran in and pitched a fit, so the ref sent her out as well as the crowd cheered wildly. Overall, this was a very good back and forth affair that ended with Ryback hot-tagging Cena, who ran though the Five Moves of Doom on Dolph for the pin and the win.
After the main event, Ryback celebrated with the fans at ringside and stuck around a bit longer than Cena. Overall, this was a very nice show as the two-and-a-half-hours flew by.