Sami Zayn vs Braun Strowman
Last Man Standing
Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida, United States
(reviewed 01/05/2017) Heard this was somewhere between “solid TV gimmick match” and “best goddamn thing ever”, which sounds about right. Zayn plays to his strengths early on, using his speed and a seemingly pre-placed set of kendo sticks to take it to the big man. Strowman’s strength is too much to overcome, though, and he quickly catches wise to Zayn’s tricks, being sure to stay focused and deliberate. After a commercial break, they bleed out to the backstage area, where Zayn finds a pipe. He uses it on Strowman, who puts up his dukes and eventually snatches it from the Canadian. Strowman tosses an equipment case at Zayn, who avoids it and uses a chair to even things up. They fight up into the arena and onto the entrance stage, and Zayn is able to drive Strowman all the way to the opposite edge, where he hits a crossbody that sends them both through a pair of tables set up below. Big spot there that feels great and gets the people on their feet. Dancing with what brought him, Zayn continues to go after Strowman with the chair, but the big man catches it and tosses both it and him up from the floor and onto the entrance ramp. There’s a camera cut here that is just masterful, easily the best bit of editing the WWE’s done in years, and it makes it look like Strowman tossed the man across the world as Zayn rolls down the ramp. Strowman continues his assault, hitting a clothesline and then a monstrous, groan-inducing powerslam on the floor that nearly puts Zayn away. As his opponent stirs and gets to his feet, Strowman meets him with some knees to the head and another rough powerslam on the floor that ends the match. Great stuff here. Not otherworldly good as I had been made to believe by some, but a very entertaining little gimmick match that makes both guys look good and starts the year off right.