HOUSTON - We have a problem: The WWE Universal Championship is vacant, and all four Superstars set to duke it out in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match almost didn’t wait until the bout to start throwing hands. Gathered ostensibly under the pretense of a group Corey Graves interview, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Big Cass instead started chucking thinly veiled insults at each other (Cass got a particularly good burn in on Rollins), while Roman Reigns was conspicuous by his silence. Only when Rollins attempted to goad The Big Dog into chiming in did the former WWE World Champion respond. He punched Owens in the face, kicking off a massive brawl, which he also finished when he sent Rollins tumbling from the ring.
Last week, a Chris Jericho distraction kept Neville from entering the Fatal 4-Way WWE Universal Championship. This week, he compared the highflier to Mighty Mouse. That he managed to walk away from all of that in one piece was kind of a miracle, because The Man That Gravity Forgot reaped his payback with aplomb. Neville opened his and Jericho’s singles bout with a flurry that sent “The Best in the World at What He Does” scurrying for cover behind the referee.
He was able to jab Neville in the eye from behind the shield of the zebra, but soon found himself in the sights of a Red Arrow when Neville rallied. Jericho both managed to dodge the dreaded maneuver and counter another. Then he reversed a hurricanrana into a Lion Tamer, forcing The Man That Gravity Forgot to submit.
As “Friday Night Lights” taught us, sometimes heart is all you need to overcome incredible obstacles. And maybe Coach Taylor could have rallied this local competitor to a win over Nia Jax, but alas, the overpowered Hyan went in alone against the imposing Superstar and was all but flattened in the process. Jax ran rampant over her plucky adversary, sending her into a long Texas goodnight in a matter of minutes.
Having narrowly missed out on a spot in this week’s WWE Universal Championship bout and tweaking his ankle in the process, it’s understandable that Sami Zayn would be looking for a rebound to get his momentum back on track. It’s also understandable that a hungry Jinder Mahal would be looking to capitalize on Zayn’s injury to get some steam of his own going. The Maharaja certainly knew where his bread would be buttered in this match, attempting to muscle a one-legged Zayn into the defensive. Zayn’s high threshold for pain carried him over the hump, however, leading to a devastating exploder into the corner and an adrenaline-fuelled Helluva Kick that earned him the win.
The New Day and Bayley on the same team is almost too much positivity for the human mind to comprehend. Likewise, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and Dana Brooke collectively encompass enough snark and negativity to send your average Twitter egg into hiding. And if The New Day has taught us one thing, it’s that positivity always prevails.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that New Day & Bayley ended up on top in this epic Six-Superstar Mixed Tag Team Match. Though give credit to Brooke and the good brothers for rallying from a huge deficit after Anderson took a shellacking from Kofi Kingston, Big E and even Bayley for one glorious moment. It came down to Bayley and Dana, and with Charlotte watching from commentary, the aspiring No. 1 contender to the WWE Women’s Championship kicked out of a rollup and administered a Bayley-to-Belly for the win. Cue the wacky, waving inflatable arm-flailing tube men.
Make it 0-2 for Cesaro, who had a hell of a time beating up on Sheamus before their Best of Seven Series began, but hasn’t been able to notch a “W” on The Celtic Warrior since the scorecards were brought into the equation. Granted, Sheamus won his first match off a poke in the eye (dirty!) and only managed to stay in this one through similarly unscrupulous means.
Sheamus got so underhanded that he almost himself disqualified for using the ropes to help out with a pinfall attempt, but Cesaro stormed back into action before the ref could make the call. It ended up costing him. The Irishman back body-dropped Cesaro onto the ring post when The King of Swing chased him on the outside, then he hauled the writhing Swiss Superman back into the ring for a near-instant tapout by way of a Cloverleaf. Irish eyes are smiling, and for Cesaro, that promised championship opportunity is looking farther away than ever.
Two obliterations in one night? Wow, everything really is bigger in Texas. To be fair, the poor masked man — named Americo — who volunteered to face Braun Strowman might have had an outside chance at a miracle, considering the big man has yet to battle a luchador since he started his one-man reign of terror. Unfortunately, that was where the upside ended for our boy, as Strowman kneed and slammed Americo into both corners before tossing him up and spiking him into the mat. Then, as a final disrespect to his foe, Strowman removed his mask. Hey, you don't like it? You try and fight him.
Apparently, attacking a referee and F-5ing Shane McMahon is only worth about $500 in penalties these days. So it’s understandable that Paul Heyman showed up to pay Brock Lesnar’s fine with a spring in his step over not having to shell out more. That said, “The One Behind the One in 23-1” may have overestimated how cavalier Stephanie McMahon would allow him to be following Lesnar’s attack of her brother.
When Heyman attempted to pay off The Beast’s punishment in singles and give a backhanded, roundabout apology, Stephanie got in his face. The promise of further punishment at her hand was enough to goad Heyman to cut to the chase and apologize, though the sinister smirk on his face after Stephanie left suggested Heyman might have more of a long game in mind than anyone realizes.
For all of Bob Backlund’s lessons, Darren Young has had trouble channeling the WWE Hall of Famer’s signature, rabid aggression and Titus O’Neil has been capitalizing off his old partner’s hesitation for weeks now. Well, no longer: Mr. No Days Off finally got a true, blue win over his old running mate, showcasing his heart by absorbing a significant beating from O’Neil and rolling him up for a crucifix pin. The celebration was short-lived, though, as The Big Deal ambushed Young from behind with Clash of the Titus almost immediately after the bell rang.
The WWE Universe knew it was only a matter of time before Triple H returned. That being said, it’s unlikely that anybody saw this coming, nevermind which of his onetime mentees reaped the benefits of The King of Kings’ return during the Fatal 4-Way WWE Universal Championship Elimination Match. It wasn’t Big Cass, whose Cinderella story came to an end early on after a Superman Punch from Roman Reigns, kick to the face from Seth Rollins and, finally, a Frog Splash from Kevin Owens knocked “Don Parmesan” out of the running.
It seemed, after a while, that Reigns had the bout in hand until Triple H stormed from the timekeeper’s area to throw a wrench in the whole thing. First, he Pedigreed Reigns — no surprise there — and fed him to Rollins. The Architect was all smiles, clearly believing The Game was gift-wrapping the win for his former protégé after Triple H brought a KO’d Owens into the ring to be finished off. Things quickly took a turn, however, when The Game laid Rollins out with a Pedigree of his own — big surprise there, especially to a gobsmacked Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley — and all but handed The Architect’s prone body to Owens on a platter. In other words: Seth Freaking Rollins? Out. Kevin Yanick Owens? WWE Universal Champion.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Chris Jericho defeated Neville by submission (11:00)
- Nia Jax defeated Hyan (1:20)
- Sami Zayn defeated Jinder Mahal (4:00)
- The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) & Bayley (w/ Xavier Woods) defeated Gallows, Anderson & Dana Brooke in a Mixed Tag Team Match (13:20)
- Sheamus  defeated Cesaro  by submission in a Best Of Seven Series Match #2 (11:15)
- Braun Strowman defeated Americo (0:55)
- Darren Young (w/ Bob Backlund) defeated Titus O'Neil (4:05)
- Kevin Owens defeated Seth Rollins, Big Cass & Roman Reigns in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match to win the vacant WWE Universal Championship (25:15)
- Kevin Owens eliminated Big Cass (12:45)
- Seth Rollins eliminated Roman Reigns (23:55)
- Kevin Owens eliminated Seth Rollins (25:15)
Other on-screen talent