In July, the WWE really surprised a lot of viewers with the WWE Network-exclusive “Beast In The East” event. Despite essentially being a house show, it was a show that was truly special. With a NXT title change and a rare appearance from Brock Lesnar, this was hardly your standard house show. However, neither was this Madison Square Garden show… according to WWE. This PPV had three title matches, a steel cage match and an appearance from Brock Lesnar as he was set to square off with the Big Show. This was another WWE Network-exclusive and this was billed as a special. The only problem with this claim was that it wasn’t actually special at all.
It was by no means a bad show, as there were no matches on the card that really disappointed. Hell, even Brock vs Big Show surpassed my expectations. However, there was no reason for me to believe that this was a special live event. Madison Square Garden is a special arena and Brock Lesnar is a special attraction. However, there was nothing else on this show noteworthy that convinced me that this was worth all the promotion that went into it. Now obviously, a Brock Lesnar appearance is newsworthy in its own right. People will pay to see Brock Lesnar because people want to see Brock Lesnar beat the crap out of whoever was in his way. Last time Brock was in a WWE Network special event, he wrestled Kofi Kingston. No disrespect to Kofi, but he’s not exactly a big name in WWE.
The point is, Brock could have been put up against anyone and it could have been a draw. However, Big Show is a WWE legend. Let’s just be real here. People can chant “Please Retire” or “boring” at him but he’s a special attraction himself. He was brought in as a special attraction way back in 1999. He was promoted because of his size. Big Show is one of the most recognisable characters in WWE and the match actually had a lot of historical background. Other than the Paul Heyman/Big Show segment on RAW, the WWE have done a decent job in promoting this match and promoting the rivalry these two monsters have. It makes a lot of sense to do a rematch at Madison Square Garden at the arena where Show and Lesnar fought for the first time. The right promotion was there. It was an awesome potential main event to put together in such an arena. However, Lesnar vs Big Show… wasn’t even the main event.
The main event was John Cena vs Seth Rollins in a steel cage match for the United States Championship. This was a great match. I’m not going to say that Seth and Cena didn’t have a main-event worthy match. Cena and Rollins always perform and have great matches together. After all, they’ve had incredible matches in the last few months including on two PPVs in a row. That’s the issue right there. Seth vs Cena is a great match whenever you put it on. It’s just going to be a good match and the showstealer of any show. Hell, it was the best match of this show. However, we’ve seen this OVER and OVER again in PPVs and on the main events of RAW too! There’s no money in a match that you can see over and over again. OK, this was not just a regular match and it was actually a cage match. However, the big main attraction of this special event… was Lesnar.
The WWE fans are not going to mind waiting until the end of the show for Lesnar to come out and beat the crap out of the Big Show, no matter how long the match goes on. The fans MIGHT pass on Cena vs Rollins, even if it’s a steel cage US title match. The reason they might pass on it is because they’ve seen this so many times in the past month. It’d be different if it’d been a few months since their last match. However, it’s only been 2 weeks since their last match. Furthermore, that match was actually a rematch from a match Rollins and Cena had the night before at Night of Champions!
What is so special about this match that means it needs to go on last? Finally, the big issue I have with this show is actually the name of it – WWE Live from Madison Square Garden: Lesnar vs Big Show. The freaking title features the names Lesnar and Big Show! The reason that it’s got their names on is because that was the promoted main event of the show! At a UFC event, the names that appears on the title are the names of the fighters competing in the main event! You never saw UFC promoting UFC 192 as UFC 192: Bader vs Evans when the main event was clearly Cormier vs Gustafsson. The names on the title for UFC events… are the stars. Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson were on the title of the PPV because they were the stars of the show. They were involved in the main event fight on the night. They were stars. Brock Lesnar is a star. Stars appear on the main event and Brock Lesnar was the main reason for this show even being broadcasted live!
Anyway, now that I’ve got that out of my system. It’s time to review the show.
Randy Orton teamed up with Dolph Ziggler to take on Sheamus and Rusev in a tag team match. This match caught me off-guard, firstly because of false advertising. The matches originally were Orton vs Sheamus and Ziggler vs Rusev, and I guess WWE decided to throw them all together in a tag team match instead. I can’t actually complain about this decision too much. I’ve just made a whole deal about doing the same matches over and over again. It’s good that they didn’t do the singles match as opposed to the tag matches. I’d seen Rusev vs Ziggler plenty of times and I’ve had MORE than enough of Sheamus vs Randy Orton. This was basically a TV tag team match on a live show. Having said that, I thought the match was decent. I like the finished of the match with the Super Kick and RKO combo to put Sheamus away. Not a bad opener.
Neville vs Stardust. I’l actually give these two credit in the fact that this was TEN times better than their match on RAW! If you recall, the match on RAW lasted about a few minutes until King Barrett caused a DQ! At least this match got a fair amount of TV. Seven minutes wasn’t a great deal of time but it was fine for a unadvertised live show match. It’s certainly a lot more than these two are used to getting on RAW. The match finished with Stardust acting as a superhero and wearing Neville’s cape. He went up to the top but messed up. Neville took advantage and hit the Red Arrow for the win. I didn’t mind the finish because it actually made sense in terms of the storyline. Stardust failed because of himself and his obsession with superheroes. I’d be annoyed that the Ascension weren’t there when they were supposed to be his lackeys. Then again, it was a house show match so I don’t expect that. However, I’m hoping that they’ll be shown on RAW actually HELPING Stardust. I know for a fact that I’ll be disappointed.
Team Bella vs PCB. Think about this for a minute. On RAW, Team Bella and PCB had a six man tag team match. The story of the match was Paige not getting along with Charlotte and Becky Lynch. It lead to a spot where Paige WALKED OUT on her team and also took out Natalya. Despite Paige now having turned on Charlotte and Becky TWICE, these teams were put in the same six diva tag team match at Madison Square Garden! OK, it’s not like the RAW incident was not acknowledged, as they played a video package about it on the show. They were basically confirming to you that you’re now paying to see the same match you can see free on television!
The six diva tag was OK. It was very difficult to care. The fans found it hard to care as they started chanting “We Want Lesnar.” Again, the storyline was Paige not being able to get along with her team. Paige tagged herself in which caused dissension. Paige was the only one that the fans really got behind… and she’s a heel! Rich Brennan, who was on commentary with JBL and Byron Saxton, mentioned how these divas were so motivated to win at Madison Square Garden. Rich was actually great tonight and a vast improvement on Michael Cole. However, Rich talked about the passion to win at a stadium like this. Minutes later, Charlotte and Becky Lynch jumped off the apron to avoid being tagged in by Paige! Obviously it was a bit of continuity from RAW. However, I just laughed at how Charlotte and Becky just completely derailed what Rich said on commentary by essentially giving the match to the Bellas! They didn’t care about winning at Madison Square Garden. They only cared about teaching Paige a lesson! Poor Rich! At least Paige’s post-match promo was well delivered.
Kevin Owens vs Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship. This was the 25th anniversary of Chris Jericho’s debut in wrestling. He cut a really nice promo before his match where he talked about his dad. He talked about Lance Storm, who was watching on from ringside. It was nice little segment before Kevin Owens came out. This was a short but very good match. I’m surprised at how well these two worked together. These two have completely different styles and they just clicked. Kevin tried the pop-up powerbomb and Jericho countered it into a hurricanrana. Kevin won with a poke to the eyes and a roll up. This might be a small thing considering how good the rest of the match was. However, I hated the roll-up finish. If you guys read my Night of Champions review, you’ll know that I didn’t like Owens winning the IC title with a roll-up. On SmackDown!, Kevin retained the title by getting himself counted out. Now in this match, he won with the roll-up AGAIN. Let the man hit his finisher for once! I can kind of understand him probably not being able to hit the powerbomb on Ryback. However, this is CHRIS JERICHO. He’s not exactly the size of Ryback. I know Kevin Owens is a heel and using dirty tactics like poking people in the eye is all part of the gig. However, Kevin Owens is not like Seth Rollins who is usually smaller than the majority of his opponents. This man is pretty big (and I’m not saying that in a mean way before anyone gets on me). Someone the size of Kevin Owens shouldn’t need to cheat! Other than that, this match was good.
The Dudley Boyz were up next, challenging the New Day for the WWE Tag Team Championship. I was really worried before this tag match took place. The reason I was worried was because I thought my beloved New Day were going to lose the tag team titles in this match! It made all the sense in the world for the Dudley Boyz to win their TENTH tag team titles in WWE TEN years after their last appearance at MSG. Them coming home to New York to win the belts would have been a great moment to take away from this event. I figured if there was going to be a title change on this show, it would have been in this match. Thankfully, my beloved New Day retained the belts. The bad news was that this match had the SAME FINISH from Night of Champions! It was the same finish. Xaiver Woods ran in for the DQ, the New Day teased putting the Dudley Boyz through the table and Xaiver ended up getting put through the table himself. Maybe I should have seen this thing coming but what was the point in promoting this match on RAW if you were just going to do this finish all along? The match itself wasn’t bad but it was just a waste of everybody’s time as we saw the same finish just two weeks before. If that was supposed to be the finish, don’t hype up the match like you did if we’re just going to get the same thing from last time. This was lame.
Next up was Brock Lesnar vs Big Show. This was a short but VERY sweet match. This was not like the majority of Brock Lesnar’s matches nowadays when it’s usually one-sided. The Big Show dominated at the start of the match. He actually looked GOOD during his time on the attack. It was not like a slow and boring beatdown. Big Show looked great when he was just chokeslamming Brock over and over. I’m not going to lie, there was a small part of me that thought that Big Show was going to beat Brock after those chokeslams! Thankfully, Brock kicked out. Suplex City begun and Brock just took over from here. Brock suplexed him a few times, F5’d him, beat him, suplexed him some more, F5’d him and that was that. This was not a bad match at all. Why this wasn’t the main event will forever boggle my mind.
John Cena vs Seth Rollins in a steel cage match for the US title. Like I mentioned earlier, this was a good steel cage match. It was a good match but I thought the finish was lame. Let me explain. At Madison Square Garden in June 1982, Jimmy Snuka jumped off the top of the steel cage. It will forever go down as one of the greatest cage spots of all time, if not the greatest. When Seth Rollins jumped off the cage here, it was SO anti-climatic. What happened was that Kane came out and stopped Seth from getting out of the cage. Whenever this happens in a cage match, where someone on the outside prevents a wrestler from getting out, it always bothers me. All I keep thinking is, “Why don’t you jump outside onto this fella anyway? Then at least, you’ll get the momentum in the brawl to follow.” But no, Seth was seemingly completely stuck. He could not move. Kane was not exactly running down to the cage either! He gave Seth plenty of time to get down, grab the title and escape. However, Seth just completely froze at the top of the cage. He didn’t know what to do.
This put Seth in a dilemma. Jump out of the cage and face Kane or jump into the ring and continue the match. Rollins made the worst decision he could possibly make and JUMPED from the TOP off the cage and completely missed Cena in the process. This meant that Cena won the match and retained the title. Following the match, Kane did his beat down on Seth anyway and held up the title. All I kept thinking was, why didn’t Seth just accept the beating as Kane was outside of the cage and win the US title rather than jump OFF THE CAGE and potential end his career? This ending just made Seth seem like a complete idiot. At least when Snuka jumped off the cage or anyone else jumps off the cage, it’s because of a personal grudge against the man that he’s against so it makes sense. Seth had a grudge with the man outside of the cage but jumped off the cage anyway to completely miss Cena in the ring.
This review ended up being WAY MORE in-depth than it probably should have been but there was a lot to talk about. To conclude, the event was fine. The matches were fine and there wasn’t a single match which I thought was a bad match. There was not a match that blew my mind but all the matches were at least OK. I was impressed with Owens/Jericho. I actually liked Big Show/Brock. Cena/Rollins was a great main event apart from the awful finish. HOWEVER, my issue with this event was that it was announced as a WWE Network special. There was nothing special about this show other than Brock Lesnar appearing.
When Beast in the East aired, it was treat like a legitimate special event held in Japan. The NXT Championship match was treated like an actual championship match in Japan with the flowers and the streamers. There was a Japanese feel to it like you were watching IWGP or NJPW. Finn Balor came off as a true star following this show. John Laurinaitis, who was the head agent and booked Beast in the East, treated this event like it was special. This event at Madison Square Garden was not treated like it was special. It just felt like a normal live event that just happened to be held at Madison Square Garden and featured Brock Lesnar. It didn’t feel like WWE did enough to convince people that this was a special event worth subscribing to the WWE Network for. Maybe the feeling in the Garden itself was different. Maybe the atmosphere was so damn great that it didn’t really matter what happened in the ring as people were just having a great time. Those shows are acceptable as people are there just to enjoy themselves. Watching this though, it didn’t seem that it was the case.