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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: The Beast in the East

July 6, 2015 | Posted by TJ Hawke
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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: The Beast in the East  


July 4, 2015
Tokyo, Japan

Commentators: Michael Cole & Byron Saxton


Chris Jericho made his televised return to the WWE against Neville. This very much felt like a 2014 Chris Jericho match which was definitely one of the worst periods of his WWE career. Like a lot of fun wrestlers as they get older, Jericho seems to think that working slower is a better way of the working. That is all fine and dandy, but he just does not do it in an entertaining way. He does not work a body part. He does not get his character (whatever his character is at this point in time) over. He just works a slow pace with no substance. Things picked up a tad when Neville made his comeback. I had no investment in the match by that point though, and that is on Jericho. Neville’s comeback was ultimately a failure as Jericho blocked the Red Arrow and tapped Neville out with the Liontamer. A boring 20 (edit: I cannot believe this only went 16 minutes) minute match that ultimately sees Neville job to an aging, part-time wrestler was an ominous way to start this special. There is a way to effectively use Jericho. Put him in a heel tag team with a young guy who needs something extra. He should be left on the sidelines otherwise. This was bad. (3/4*)


Paige and Tamina then challenged Nikki Bella for the Divas Championship. They worked hard for sure, but the match suffered from being a rushed triple threat match that was not able to rely on exciting action. Nikki eventually avoided a Superfly Splash from Tamina and then finished her with a running forearm smash. This was a dull affair. (*)


In an inspired idea, Brock Lesnar returned to action to destroy Kofi Kingston. Brock gave Kofi a few strikes before mauling him with a Germans. He finished this fun squash with an F-5. This gets TWO BIG THUMBS UP from me. I want more weird matches like this one on weird shows like this one. Brock attacked Kofi. Xavier Woods, and Big E after the match. Destroying all of New Day was probably unnecessary. I guess we should just count ourselves lucky that they are not the tag champs anymore. (***)


In what I was hoping would be the main event, Kevin Owens defended the NXT Championship against Finn Balor. This was a great version of what Neville and Jericho tried to do in the opener. That should come as no surprise since Kevin Owens is probably one of the most refreshing heels on WWE programming in quite some time. With him embroiled in a major feud with John Cena, it made sense that Owens would be overlooking this title defense against Balor. Owens’ character at the moment is perfect for overlooking opponents as he gets so caught up with trolling the crowd and John Cena that he does not recognize when he has the opportunity to go in for the kill on Balor. That gives Balor just enough openings to give himself a shot at winning. This match even managed to mostly avoid the finisher-kickout-fest that Owens and Cena have been employing. There is so much more drama to be had in the long term by establishing finishers as almost always finishing a match and then having the wrestlers desperately trying to avoid said finishers in their matches. Balor escaping the pop-up powerbomb right before winning the match was so much better than having him kick out. Balor winning clean with the Coup de Grace was the perfect finish, and his post-match celebration with Tatsumi Fujinami all contributed to making this feel like a big deal. This was all quite great. (****)


We saw a video package of Tatsumi Fujinami being honored again the night before in Sumo Hall at the non-televised house show.


King Barrett and Kane took on John Cena and Dolph Ziggler for our main event. After ninety minutes of the show being made to feel special, it is like the company decided to remind everyone that this is in fact just a house show. With no issue at stake, it made no sense for this match to go so long with a DOUBLE HEAT segment. Kane and Barrett both looked terrible for the most part. Kane is an old man who has been doing this for far too long. Barrett worked like an old man who has been doing this for far too long. Cena and Dolph tried their hardest to make us care; there was just nothing they could do to salvage this main event. If this is what house show main events are like, I’m glad I have always passed on attending them. Cena and Dolph won this sinfully boring match after Kane and Barrett each ate a superkick/AA combo. (1/2*)


Watch some free matches:

Bryan Danielson vs. Prince Devitt (Finn Balor) [their only match]

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Prince Devitt vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Pentagon vs. Drago vs. Fenix

The Great Muta vs. Toshiaki Kawada

The Young Bucks vs. Christopher Daniels & Kazarian

Dusty Rhodes, Jeff Jarrett, & Road Warriors vs. Triple X & Vince Russo

Masato Tanaka vs. Homicide

Drew McIntyre vs. Roderick Strong

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Yuji Nagata

Matt Sydal vs. Will Ospreay

Chris Benoit vs. Terry Funk

Mil Muertes vs. Fenix

Biff Busick vs. Timothy Thatcher

The final score: review Average
The 411
Despite having two genuinely bad matches bookend the show (in what I would argue are the two most important card positions on a show), I actually had a good amount of fun with The Beast in the East. It felt like a different kind of show than the WWE normally runs, and that made just about everyone on the show feel fresh. Even though I was disappointed in Jericho's match, the matchup was a cool idea in theory. Getting Brock on the show was a real great idea, and the whole presentation of Balor/Owens was quite special. This two-hour format with no promos/backstage segments is an absolute winner for the WWE. The NXT brand is getting close to mastering it, and I would love for the WWE to start doing theses with the main roster on a semi-regular basis.