WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Big E) w/ Xavier Woods def. The Ascension by pinfall
Terrible pre-match promo from The New Day, centred around the sole surviving Booty-O from Wrestlemania. Xavier encourages the Houston crowd to “Bow to the Booty!” (Big E: “Ooooh!”). Kofi then does a Dr. Evil impression in 2016, lamenting the fact that “unicorns with frickin’ lasers” haven’t been sourced to protect their “sacred relic”. At least Kingston’s headbanging to The Ascension’s theme (“Keep that song goin’!”) was amusing; a hint that heavily scripting talented performers is almost always a bad idea.
Very basic shine-heat-hot tag-finish formula tag match here, which massively outstayed its welcome at 12 minutes. The finish saw Kofi hit Trouble in Paradise on an interfering Konnor, causing Viktor to fall prey to the Midnight Hour.
– Paige is backstage for a botchtastic interview with Renee, in which she claims that she and Emma were “the first women to ever debut on the WWE Network……EVER……first match ever!”. I see. She references Emma’s previous failure on the main roster, before warning that “this evolution is gonna pass her by again”. What?!
Baron Corbin def. Fandango by pinfall
A two minute, twenty second squash that Corbin finished with End of Days. The recently promoted NXT alum continued his gimmick of lambasting referees, shouting “I’ll do what I want!” when the official attempted to stop him pummelling Fandango in the corner.
Paige def. Emma by pinfall
Greg Hamilton announces this contest as a “women’s division match”, which is still absolutely fantastic to hear. The announcers talk about Evil Emma’s “new attitude” (WWE code for heel turn), underlining that she’s dropped the dancing and is now ready to get serious. Rich Brennan also clarifies Paige’s earlier flub by reminding us that these two locked horns on the first ever Takeover special.
Good, solid 15 minute match here, in which both women worked hard – including Paige getting tossed over the top rope from Emma’s shoulders to begin the heat. Emma’s heel offence looked pretty good, including a touching tribute to the now defunct tramp stamp belt in the form of a butterfly suplex.
Paige made her comeback by fighting out of a full nelson bodyscissors. She then reinforced her rep for loud spot-calling by instructing Emma to throw her into the turnbuckle to cut her off. Emma duly obliged, before hitting the Emma-mite Sandwich for two. The finish arrived quickly – and abruptly – after that, with Paige hitting the Rampaige out of nowhere for the win.
The result of that Paige-Emma main event is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with WWE booking. Later in the tapings, it was made clear that Emma would be working a program with Becky Lynch leading into the next PPV. On commentary, she was put over relentlessly as a far bigger threat than she was the last time she got elevated from NXT. Yet, simply because she beat Paige on the go-home RAW (thanks to a distraction, mind you), Emma has to lose here to someone with nothing primed for Payback. Because the altar of 50/50 booking must be worshipped at. So, so lame.