WWE Championship Match
The Hope: A match that people don’t complain about after, mostly.
The Reality: Although their two matches have both “worked,” they certainly haven’t lived up to the hype that most of us thought was warranted for this program. Though, while your mileage may vary on how much you like dick punches, both previous matches have seemed to be victim of circumstance moreso than deficient in any real way. So, the reality — pardon the pun — is that we should expect something better than what they’ve done before but shouldn’t take it as an indictment of them if it doesn’t blow our socks off the way we always imagined it would. And that it will probably end with AJ still champion, waiting to meet Samoa Joe regardless of the results for the last match on the card.
Starting at the end, while your correspondent may have enjoyed the ending — and the fact that it gives AJ n’ Nak the opportunity to do some truly wild (hopefully *not* dick punch related) gimmick match next month — that was as “your mileage may vary” as it gets in wrestling. It also served as an instructive counterexample to the Rollins-Miz match: Knowing the match would end with dick punch-related shenanigans (thanks for that turn of phrase, wrestling) but not whose dick was getting punched or where it would go after that managed to actually work in the match’s favor.
Shin and AJ seem to finally feel comfortable “working snug,” which gave the second half of the match — once Nakamura added the chair — a sense of urgency that had lacked in their previous two encounters. It feels like one more match can be rung out of this concept and that’ll likely end up being next month at Money in the Bank. Considering that the goal of the WWE seems to be to frame Money in the Bank as a major event going forward, having the blowoff of this angle be within range of a cash-in might be a nice way to tie the room together.
That this isn’t going to be the last best match they ever have is also kind of a relief. Heel Shin is great, but he needs some time to ease into the character in the ring. It feels like he is still trying to calibrate just how much he can play to the crowd without having them like him. The kind of vibe that Shinsuke projects is preternaturally on a lot of people’s wavelengths — he’s one of the few performers who feels inherently cool and pro wrestling at the same time — and adjusting to the dissonance (in a literal sense with his new theme) necessary to make it work feels within reach but not quite there yet.
It was also definitely for the best it didn’t end the show, though it was probably the second best bout on the card behind Rollins-Miz, because the WWE not changing hands in a No-DQ match as a result of Double Dick Kicks would likely have went over about as well as the next match did with what was already a pretty punchy crowd.