By Jeff Hamlin, WrestlingObserver.com
The Big Takeaway: Daniel Bryan forfeited the Intercontinetal Championship due to injury in an emotional interview where he teased that his career may be over. Dean Ambrose was the star of the show since they were in Cincinnati, his hometown. Kane continued to tease a face turn by refusing to help Seth Rollins while he was being pounded on in the final segment by the three men he will face then Sunday at Payback.
HHH came out opening with "Daddy's home." He said he wanted Kane and Seth Rollins to clear the air and called them down. Rollins reacted like HHH had been absent for this lenghty amount of time when he actually was only gone two weeks. Crowd chanted for Dean Ambrose throughout the promo since he's a Cincinnati kid. Amrbose suggested that maybe it was time to take Kane behind the barn and "put the old dog out of his misery." Kane came out and started arguing with Rollins until HHH stepped in. HHH told Kane he needs to put his ego aside. Today's word, children, is "irony."
HHH said if Rollins doesn't walk out of Payback as WWE World Heavyweight Champion, then maybe Kane should no longer be Director of Operations. Kane said it might be worth it to lose his job in order to eviscerate Rollins, who accused Kane of insubordination. HHH calmed Rollins down and offered Kane a chance to amicably part ways. Kane said nothing, so HHH ordered all four participants in Sunday's Fatal Four Way to have singles matches tonight. HHH also said Kane would face Roman Reigns and Rollins would face Randy Orton in the main event. Jamie Noble spoke up against HHH about that decree.
HHH did one of his classic burial jobs on Noble, making fun of his height, and ordered J&J Security to face Ambrose in this week's handicap match.
Handicap match: Dean Ambrose defeated J&J Security (5:17)
Ambrose rammed Joey Mecury into Noble and pinned Noble with Dirty Deeds. Good match with the crowd coming alive when Ambrose hit a tope on both men.
They brought back the "Don't try this at home" PSA, no doubt as a reponse to the story from Pennsylvania about the man killing a child after giving him the Last Ride.
King Barrett defeated Dolph Ziggler (5:53)
Sheamus was at ringside for commentary. King Barrett did a prematch promo to announce he's facing Neville Bourne at Payback. Finish was the predictable distraction finish where Sheamus got on the apron, Dolph Ziggler went after him only to walk into Barrett's Bullhammer Elbow. Sheamus slapped and put the boots to Ziggler afterwards, leaving him laying with the Brogue Kick. Sheamus' new catchphrase is screaming out "Are you not entertained?" just like Russell Crowe in Gladiator. Can you believe that movie is 15 years old?
Luke Harper and Erick Harper walked down to the ring together. They replayed the angle on SmackDown where they reunited by beating up Fandango. In other words, their breakup last fall made no sense, so why should their reunion?
Erick Harper defeated Fandango (:35)
Good lord did JBL bury Fandango. He set the over/under for how long the match would last, setting the bar at 1:35, shouting out a reference to Jimmy the Greek. Harper finished him in :35 with a full nelson slam.
John Cena came out to mostly cheers. His promo put over the U.S. Championship. His promo sounded like Austin Aries putting over the X Division in that he said the WWE Championship was one tainted by politics and backstabbing, but the U.S. title was about opportunity. Since Cena is wrestling Rusev on Sunday, he claimed that some felt that he should cancel the U.S. Open championship tonight, but he refused. Neville was the mystery opponent.
Neville and U.S. Champion John Cena went to a no contest, so Cena retains the U.S. Championship. (14:39)
Another very good match with Cena. Neville got the shine for most of the match, with the highlight coming on a twisting Asai moonsault. Neville got a near fall with a Phoenix Splash from the second rope. Neville kicked out of the AA after escaping an earlier attempt. Neville hit a Running Power Bomb and hit the Red Arrow when Rusev ran in. Rusev kicked Neville out of the ring and left Cena unconscious with the Accolade. Crowd chanted "We want Lana" as Rusev posed with the belt. This match helped elevate Neville more than anything he's done so far on the main roster.
Kane vs. Roman Reigns never made it to the ring. It was a brawl around ringside that started when Kane jumped Reigns during his entrance through the crowd. Kane teased a choke slam through the announcer's table, but Reigns broke free, hit a superman punch and speared Kane over the announcer's table. Reigns wasn't booed, but he didn't get a top guy reaction either.
Tamina Snuka defeated Brie Bella (3:33)
Tamina Sunka pinned Brie Bella with a superkick. Match was all kinds of sloppy.
Macho Mandow and Curtis Axel went to a no contest (2:37)
Macho Mandow was about to give Curtis Axel the Randy Savage elbow when the Ascension cameout. Viktor claimed that nothing made him madder than two guys dressing like relics from the past trying to capatalize on the glory of the past. Connor ran in but was thrown out quickly. Axel gave Viktor the big legdrop. Mandow was about to drop the elbow, but Connor pulled Viktor to safety. Announcers buried this segment and this show has fallen off a cliff after the Cena match. Mandow and Axel did the Macho-Hogan handshake from Saturday Night's Main Event.
The latest batch of Tough Enough tryout videos included someone who appeard to inherit Ahmed Johnson's wardrobe and a guy who made Colin Delaney look like he was on the gas. Michael Cole claimed videos have come in from over 100 countries.
Daniel Bryan came out. He took a long pause before saying he's had repeated visits to the doctor over the last few weeks. He said the fans have treated him better than anyone in the back ever has. He brought up how Stephanie McMahon stripped him of the WWE Championship last year, but in the end Stephanie was right to strip him of the belt because he was injured, no one knew how long he would be out and the fans deserved a fighting champion. That led to his announcement tonight, which was he had an MRI last week and he will be out for an indefinite period of time. He said he may miss weeks, months or never wrestle again.
So, Bryan said he was going to forfeit the Intercontential Championship. Fans starting chanting "Thank you Daniel." Bryan thanked the fans and left the belt in the ring. He left the ring to a standing ovation and appeared to be very emotional walking up the aisle. He turned back to lead the "Yes" chants. There was a sad wave of reality to this segment and it's amazing how many moments like this Bryan has had to deal with over the past 14 months.
An advertisement for a house show in Raleigh aired here in Durham billing a match between Cena vs. "the undefeated Rusev."
Cesaro defeated Big E. (8:54)
Cesaro nearly dropped Big E. on his head after a belly-to-belly. Cesaro got the pin with an Inverted Chikara Special after Tyson Kidd stopped Kofi Kingston from interferring.
Cole announced there would be a 2nd Special Event for the month of May that would air exclusively on the WWE Netowrk. It's the return of the Elimination Chamber on May 31.
The Prime Time Players did a skit where they tried to impersonate the New Age Outlaws. These segments are so amusing, maybe Titus O'Neal and Darren Young can replace those Native Americans who walked off the set of that Adam Sandler film. Yep, that sarcasm.
Brey Wyatt came out and said people are being sold fear on a daily basis. He said Ryback shattered his ankle to the point where doctors told him he could never compete again. But Ryback didn't accept his fate laying down and he overcame the odds to do what he loves to do. He concluded by saying he's going after Ryback because Ryback was in his way. Wyatt said some nightmares never end and the bad guy wins. Ryback came out and gave Wyatt a spinebuster and a meat hook as Wyatt rolled out of the ring.
Randy Orton defeated WWE Champion Seth Rollins by DQ (15:15)
Orton hit a superplex from the top rope that appeared to shake him up. In fact, after Rollins did a crotch on the top rope spot, the bout really dragged for a few minutes. It picked up after Rollins nailed a springboard knee that caught Orton across the head, and he later hit a tope. Rollins came back with the high angle DDT and teased the RKO, but J&J Security did a run-in for the DQ.
As the heels beat down Orton, Kane came down and grabbed a chair. Ambrose and Reigns ran out for the save as Kane stayed at ringside. The faces surrounded Rollins while Kane just watched from ringside. Ambrose gave Rollins Dirty Deeds. Still no Kane in the ring as Reigns gave Rollins a spear. Again no Kane as J&J Security vanished. Orton delivered the RKO. Then Reigns gave Orton a spear. No pop at all. Ambrose gave Reigns Dirty Deeds. Fans roared and Kane just watched.
SUMMARY: With Bryan out for now, there's one less top face on the roster. The company would be foolish to turn Ambrose now because he's the person best suited to fill Bryan's spot. My money would be on Reigns turning on Sunday, perhaps helping Rollins win and joining the authority to replace Kane as the Authority's bodyguard figure. Crowd heat wasn't the same after Bryan's announcement, but it was another solid show.