The WWE’s second biggest Pay Per View is here and it’s looking like the last stand for a few big names. As expected, Brock Lesnar is due for some time off and might not appear again until closer to WrestleMania. That makes a Punk win even more likely (despite having the upper hand going in) and makes me wonder what Heyman will do with only Curtis Axel in his stable on the active roster. Kane is also supposed to go off tour for a while, making the ring of fire match a perfect way to write him off for a while and build up Bray Wyatt. Finally there is John Cena, who is rumored to be taking time off for the football in his elbow to properly heal. That certainly increases the chances of Daniel Bryan winning while also making a Randy Orton MITB run in more likely.
Even though I don’t want to, I should take a moment to mention Darren Young becoming the first openly gay WWE Superstar. I don’t want to mention it because it shouldn’t matter. You are who you are and it shouldn’t have any impact on anything at all. However it is a brave thing for Young to do in our society, and especially in the business he is in. I’m sure he’ll be well received in the bigger cities and TV sites, but I do wonder what the fan reaction to him will be in smaller tour sites that aren’t known to be as tolerant. I’m sure he will encounter his share of idiots, but I have to think it will mostly be positive. The only thing I really don’t want to see is the WWE making a story out of this. It’s impossible for them to ignore and featuring it on the website is fine. It’s a legit headline, I get that. But we don’t have to have a wrestler oppose him BECAUSE he’s gay or anything that forced. While I’m hopeful that the WWE will take the high road, I do fear that it will be very hard for the WWE to resist a chance to take advantage of this attention by having this story incorporated into the in-ring product.
During the pre-show, Rob Van Dam looked poised to take Dean Ambrose’s United States Championship when the rest of the Shield came out. Before they could attack RVD, Mark Henry and Big Show came out as well so that the match could continue without interference. Van Dam hit the frog splash but Roman Reigns came in after to hit a spear, ending the match via DQ after all. Show and Henry ran in as the Shield made their exit, and it’s looking like a 6 man tag match could be added to tonight’s card. Very good match.
The real show starts with a whimper, as the Miz takes the stage to do whatever he’s supposed to do as host. He goes through the two main events before getting cut off by Fandango. He dances for a while, Miz says “really?” and they move on to the intro. Ugh. JoJo then sang the national anthem. Lillian Garcia got robbed.
The first match of the night is the ring of fire match (Johnny Cash must be proud) between Kane and Bray Wyatt. Bray blowing out the light doesn’t have the same impact when nobody is in the ring when the lights come back on. The fire ignites and Kane immediately takes control. After a few minutes Bray dodges a dive in the corner, and finally administers a little offense. Kane bounces back with a sidewalk slam and the family tries to get a kendo stick in the ring (yes, a wooden stick) which of course lights on fire. The fellas then run away from the stick as a fireman extinguishes it. This is a dopey as the Wyatt’s have looked. After a couple of chokeslams, Kane calls for a tombstone when the Wyatt’s put a blanket over the flames, allowing them to enter the ring and attack Kane. They take him out and pull up Bray, who hits his finisher and wins the match in a very underwhelming matter. The crowd was mostly dead aside from the thought of maybe seeing a tombstone. After the match, the Wyatt’s put Kane’s head on half the steel steps, dropping the other half on his head, officially taking him off duty for a while. Absolutely horrible match. Crowd hated it and so do I. They turned off the lights and walked Kane out of the building. Bray showed very little offense in his first official match. From now on, I will refer to this as Fandango’ing.
Damien Sandow out next to face Cody Rhodes. Cody Rhodes shaved his mustache and I just realized how similar his hoodie vest thing was the Layla’s. The pace is fast and back and forth until Sandow takes control with a sweep kick to knock Cody off the apron. Rhodes then attempted to hit Cross Rhodes, but Sandow rolled out of it and hit the elbow of disdain to keep his momentum. Cody stole that momentum with a springboard dropkick, but missed on a disaster kick to give it right back. Rhodes then connected on the kick for a two count. After another short exchange, Cody landed Cross Rhodes and picked up the victory. Short and satisfying match. This should have opened.
World Heavyweight Championship now on the line as Alberto Del Rio defends against Christian in the least interesting match possible. Ricardo Rodriguez was the best thing about Del Rio and Alberto turned on him. Since Ricardo isn’t around, ADR made Lillian announce him in spanish. Los UGH! Christian slaps Del Rio and tosses him out of the ring, then slapping him again on the top rope. Alberto slipped away from a superback body drop, hitting an enziguri on Christian sitting on the top rope, leaving him in the tree of woe where he attacked Christian’s shoulder injury. Del Rio would continue working the shoulder and we have a major storyline to tell, specifically after ADR lands a drop kick on the shoulder. Christian fights back with a top rope dropkick and goes to the top again for a cross body splash. Del Rio, who already has a bloody nose, misses an enziguri and Christian hits the splash for two. Christian then goes for the second rope moonsalt but Del Rio catches him with a backstabber off the turnbuckle for a two count. Christian goes for a sunset flip off the top rope but ADR holds on to the top rope. Christian then falls and dropkicks Del Rio on the turnbuckle, setting up a top rope hurricarrana for a two count. Christian then went for a spear but ADR met him with a missile dropkick for two. That was a great move and the crowd is waking up. Del Rio goes for a side kick but Christian ducks out and rolls up Alberto for a two count. Christian immediately follows up with a spear but injures his shoulder, keeping him from covering. Del Rio takes advantage and applies the cross arm breaker, getting Christian to tap after he nearly rolled over to the rope. I hate to admit it, but I really enjoyed this match. Afterwards, ADR cut a promo to pander to the mexican fans in Los Angeles, and this was as close to being a face as he can get right now. Pretty good pop for him all things considered.
Backstage, Miz interviewed Maria Menounos to bring up Total Divas and Maria’s victory with Natalya against Brie and Eva Marie. Fandango then cut in again to dance, so Miz danced with Maria to show them up. So I guess Miz and Fandango are going to have a thing.
More Divas action as Natalya face Brie one on one with the Funkadactyles, Nikki and Eva Marie all ringside. Brodus Clay has to be bitter that his dancers get on the card over him. Brie does a flip and they exchange slaps for a minute. Natty then takes control until Eva and Nikki pull the apron out from under her, taking her down so that Brie can hit her with a baseball slide. Natalya gets worked over for a while until she powers out of an arm lock to hit an Alabama Slam, following up with a Sharpshooter to win the match via submission. Hey did you know Total Divas is on E! Sunday nights at 8?
Backstage, Ryback is pissed because his soup is cold (even though its gazpacho), and pours it all over the guy running the craft service table. Be a Star guys.
CM Punk and Brock Lesnar get their match right in the middle of the show, and I am very surprised about it. Lesnar immediately powers Punk into the corner and drives his shoulder into him. Punk lands a couple of weak kicks but Brock keeps overpowering him, setting theme of the biggest being the best. Punk comes back with a running knee to knock Lesnar out of the ring, following up with a dive through the ropes to take Lesnar down. Punk tries to use the steel steps but Lesnar shoves them into Punk’s face. CM slides away from Brock however and pushes him into the steel post. He quickly follows up with an attack off the top rope and another off the announce table. Furious pace to the match, as Punk takes advantage of Brock being down to go after Heyman. Lesnar got up of course to stop Punk, throwing him over the spanish announce table into a spanish announcer. Lesnar continues the assault from there, hitting a huge belly to belly suplex and is in total control. Lesnar caught Punk going for a top rope cross body splash, hitting a fall away slam as Heyman calls for Brock to finish him. After being put in a chin lock, Punk pulls a Mike Tyson and bites Lesnar’s ear to start his comeback! Punk hits a series of kicks to stun Brock, taking him down with a knee off the top rope. CM follows with a pair of high knees in the corner. He misses with the third, but avoids an F-5 to drop Lesnar with a roundhouse kick. Punk then follows with a flying elbow for a two count and has all the momentum. He calls for the GTS but Brock slips out and goes for an F-5. Punk slips out again though to go for a GTS, only Lesnar locks in the kimura lock. Punk looks like he’s in trouble until he slides out and applies the triangle hold in the middle of the ring. Brock powers Punk up to hit a powerbomb but Punk doesn’t let go of the hold. Finally Lesnar gets Punk up for another big powerbomb and the hold is finally broken. Hell of a match and it looks like there is a lot more left.
Lesnar takes control again with a trio of suplexes, going to the outside for a chair. While he’s on the outside, Punk goes for a splash from the top rope, which Brock partially blocks by using the chair as a shield. CM starts hitting Punk with the chair on the outside until Brock manages to take the chair. Punk hits a low blow to get the chair back, going to the top rope to tag Lesnar with a flying chair shot that only gets a two count. The crowd is now yelling ECW as Punk drops some F-bombs and hits a few chair shots. Heyman pulls the chair away so Punk grabs Heyman by throat. Lesnar then goes for an F-5 but Punk avoids it by holding onto Heyman’s tie, eventually landing a GTS. Heyman runs in to stop the 3 count, and Lesnar uses the distraction to get Punk up for an F-5. Punk counters by landing a falling DDT for a two count, but immediately locks in the Anaconda Vice. It looks like Lesnar is going to tap out when Heyman runs in with a chair. Punk gets up and takes out Heyman with a punch and an Anaconda Vice that is only broken up when Lesnar attacks him with the chair. Brock then finishes off CM with an F-5 onto the chair and gets the pin to end an absolutely ridiculous match. That had everything.
Time for the mixed tag match as DOLPH ZIGGLER teams up with Kaitlyn to face AJ and Big E Langston. Dolph hits a quick drop kick but Big E answers with a power slam into an abdominal stretch and a slap from AJ before Ziggler hit another dropkick so that he can tag in Kaitlyn. AJ took control of Kaitlyn with a couple of neck breakers and applied a sleeper hold. I can’t get over Dolph being wasted in matches like this. Kaitlyn escaped and dropped AJ with a flying shoulder, leading to the boys being tagged in. Dolph takes charge with 10 elbows but Langston hits a back breaker and goes for a pin. Kaitlyn breaks it up and AJ knocked her out of the ring. AJ then grabbed Dolph’s foot coming off the ropes to distract him. Kaitlyn dropped AJ with a spear outside the ring as Langston dropped Ziggler. Langston then goes for the Big Ending, but Dolph escapes and hits the Zig Zag to win the match. Not horrible, but not good. Hopefully Ziggy can move toward another WHC title shot.
Backstage Fandango interrupted the Miz one more time and got punched in the face for it. Fantastic. Moving on to the main event.
All parties involved get their expected reactions and Triple H took the time to shake both men’s hand and they start off with some grappling. Cena has a big pad over his elbow to protect his gross football thing. Before long they go into the same spot they had during a match they had on WWE Velocity in 2003. Cena shows off his power but also throws in a few extra wrestling moves as well like a bridge. On the outside, Cena hits Bryan with a suplex off the steps onto the floor. That got a big reaction from the crowd but was soon followed with a “you still suck” from the crowd. Back in the ring, Cena hits a falling powerbomb and is in total control. Just as I type that, Bryan comes back with a series of kicks, but misses the roundhouse as Cena starts the five moves of doom. Bryan kicks Cena before he can hit the five knuckle shuffle and hits a missile drop kick. Cena is selling his elbow injury hard and Bryan starts to work it, getting a little more sinister in his attacks. Cena then goes for an STF but Bryan reverses to apply the YES Lock. Cena heads toward the ropes so Daniel pulls him back and hits a few german suplexes and reapplying the hold. Cena then powers out, only for Bryan to lock in another submission. John eventually powers out and rolls away. Cole makes a point to say that Cena’s face is a mess as John sneaks an AA out of nowhere for a two count. Cena then goes to the top rope and Cena hits him with a dropkick. He goes for it again but Cena pushes him back, only Bryan runs back and hits him with another dropkick. Bryan follows with a suplerplex and holds onto the turnbuckle with his legs, pulling himself up to hit a flying headbutt for a two count. With Cena on the outside, Daniel tries to dive through the ropes but Cena meets him with a leaping shoulder. He follows with the legdrop off the top rope for a two count. Cena then takes Bryan to the second rope to attempt an AA, but Daniel fights back. He attempts and hurricarrana but Cena holds on and drops Daniel on his head from the second rope! Cena drags Bryan to the middle of the ring and applies to STF. Bryan looks like he is fading when he slips out and applies the YES Lock, forcing Cena to reach the rope in order to break it. Triple H makes his presence known for the first time by asking Cena about his elbow injury. He says he’s okay just in time for Bryan to hit him with a couple of dropkicks in the corner. John prevents a third by running out with essentially a clothesline from hell. The two trade blows from here, taking each other out with leaping shoulders. As they stand up, Cena slaps Bryan, calling back to Raw where Bryan refused to slap him as they do in Japan out of tradition. This time Bryan slaps him back and they have a slap off. Bryan goes for his back flip but Cena catches him and goes for an AA. Bryan turns it into a falling DDT for a two count. Bryan then goes for a cross body splash but Cena catches him, again going for an AA. Bryan escapes again, to attempt a roll up. Cena kicks out on two but gets hit with a roundhouse kick. Bryan then runs out of the corner with a huge running knee to knock out John Cena and win the WWE Championship! That was fantastic. That was the best running knee I’ve ever seen. Cena was as good as he’s ever been and Bryan rose to the occasion. After the match, Cena got up and, along with Trips, congratulated Bryan on his win. Confetti. Explosions. It’s a Daniel Bryan love fest.
UNTIL RANDY ORTON CAME OUT! He’s walks down the ramp with the briefcase and Daniel Bryan is gesturing for him to use it. Orton starts to turn back up the ramp when Triple H turns heel and hits Bryan with the Pedrigree! Orton walks into the ring, hands Trips the case and pins Bryan for to take the WWE Championship. Awesome swerve and a great way to end the show. The crowd ate it up too. I don’t want to act like I knew it was coming, but it had crossed my mind that Vince would see Randy Orton as the ideal man to wear his WWE Championship since he was against both Bryan and Cena. The Triple H turn was a nice add-on though. He waited just long enough to make me think there would be no swerve. I can see Cena coming back at Survivor Series to join Bryan in a tag match against Trips and Orton.
Overall, the PPV could have just been the two main events and I would have been happy. The rest of the card was okay at best but was completely saved by Punk/Lesnar and Cena/Bryan. They must have known this would be the case based on the order of the card. I was curious why Punk/Lesnar was in the middle but it brought a dying crowd back to life in time for Cena and Bryan (and eventually Triple H and Orton) to close things out. I really can’t remember a PPV having bigger payoff than this one. Now we get to watch Daniel Bryan chase Randy Orton for the WWE Championship while Cena takes time to heal up and the newly reunited McMahon family stand in the way.
One last thing. Do you think we can stop telling John Cena he sucks for a while? I’m not really a fan of his but it’s pretty clear that he steps up his game to match whoever he is facing. Put him against the Rock or Ryback and you get a slow sloppy mess. Put him against Bryan, Punk or Ziggler and you get a high quality epic. He’s pretty damn good. He just needs to right people to bring it out of him.