With some fun doc style videos planned in the next couple months here is a look back at a set of videos I edited for the New York Times. If you enjoy running or you’re too lazy to get off the couch, this women should inspire you. Clara Horowitz Peterson is amazing! Running while pregnant 🙂
If you have read this blog during its first run it wouldn’t take long for you to figure out that I am a wrestling fan. More specifically, I’m an old school wrestling fan. That’s why this game was such a big deal to me. WWF Superstars was the first WWF Arcade game and by 1989’s standards they pretty much nailed it. Watch my climb to the top of the tag team division as I lead the Mega Powers to glory. The final match however was so epic (and honestly so long) that it had to be it’s own video. Come back next week for part 2!
With the kids asleep and some free time on my hands I take a shot a making a video by myself. Hopefully I can be as entertaining as my 5 year old son. Captain America and the Avengers was a game I played endlessly on Sega Genesis. Not because it was so good that I couldn’t put it down, but because there weren’t many games I could actually beat and this was one of them. Enjoy!
I’m lucky enough to be attending WrestleMania this year which means
two things. 1) I’m better than you; and 2) I can’t do my normal style of review since I won’t be watching on TV (I’ll let you decide if that’s good or bad).
So in place of a regular recap I’ll be giving my thoughts on wrestling’s biggest show live from my seat. It won’t have as much detail but at least it won’t be as long either!
Right off the bat I can tell I’m in for a long night. The pre show is extended to an hour starting at 6:00pm and it won’t end until 11:00pm. That’s five hours of wrasslin’ wrapped around a couple of hours traveling to and from the arena. I’m not sure I’m still going to like wrestling by the end of the night. I have the whole card divided into three categories (along with my stone cold lock predictions):
Matches I Have To Watch But Don’t Really Care About
-Rock vs. John Cena (Cena absolutely wins and crowd absolutely riots)
-Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (Triple H absolutely wins and I’d care more if my seats were close enough to see the inevitable blood)
Matches That Could Excede Expectations
-Chris Jericho vs. Fandango (Jericho wins in what has potential to steal the show)
-Ryback vs. Mark Henry (Ryback wins in what could also be the bomb of the night)
-Alberto Del Rio vs, Jack Swagger (Del Rio wins in a match I only care about because I think Ziggler will cash in and take the World Heavyweight Championship at the end) Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show vs. The Shield (Shield wins on an Orton heel turn)
Matches I Am Paying To See -Ziggler and Big E Langston vs. Team Hell No (With two of my favorite guys involved, Team Hell No wins but possibly break up at the end of it all no thanks to AJ) -Undertaker vs CM Punk (The spectacle of the night and real main event will see the streak continue as Punk takes a beating that allows him to take a break)
Matches I’d Pay NOT To See
-Tons Of Funk And the Funkadactyles vs. Team Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins (Faces win in a match that Damien Sandow can’t even save)
-Wade Barrett vs. The Miz (Miz wins and I’ll be on the beer line)
Enough previewing. On to the show!
534 my view is a lot better than I thought it would be from the upper deck
6:04 Kofi starting the pre show in a suit with JR and Dusty Rhodes. Big step down for Kingston
640 feeling raindrops first match starts (uh oh)
645 not hearing the sound of the mat makes really big difference.
646 miz wins ic belt on figure four in a solid match. Oh yeah, and its flat out raining
657 undertakers music plays by accident and the place almost erupted
7:05 hurricane sandy tribute to start to show
707 shield and team super faces lead things off
721 shield wins because of Orton but not how I planned it. Orton took tag away from show so when shield ganged up on Randy Show didn’t help. Afterwards he KO punched Sheamus and Orton before storming off. Really fun match. Seth Rollins stood out.
730 Mark Henry versus Ryback next. Over/under on rape attempts is 2.5. Good pop for Ryback and our first pyro entrance!
737 boring chants from the crowd. They’re not wrong. Really slow and not interesting.
739 mark henry wins because ryback fell forward going for shell shocked. Hood finish to a bad match. Henry went back to do more damage but Ryback got up and hit shell shock for real this time. Ryback then went the wrong way out of the arena and had to be escorted back down the ramp and out the side. Classic Ryback.
750 ten seconds in, Ziggler and Big E is already better than Ryback/Henry. Dolph almost lost after AJ kissed him and Bryan hit a roundhouse kick. Kane would chokeslam Dolph and Bryan hit a flying headbutt to win a very good match.
809 this guy just sat next to me
812 Fandango wins by rolling the walls of Jericho into a small package. Jericho dominated most of the match and looked really good. Fandango had a couple nice moves but wasn’t overwhelming.
820 P Diddy medley time. Crowd I’d into it
830 Swagger came down the ramp in a 4 wheeler during the match montage and we got hate speech instead of a regular entrance. No car for Del Rio but he did get some pyro and a swanky white robe.
840 crowd chanting for Ziggler to cash in throughout the match
845 del Rio wins a decent match on the arm breaker. No Ziggler and the crowd boos heavily when they move to the next segment. Tonight’s not the night.
850 Punk vs Undertaker next and the crowd is pumped.
900 Punk’s entrance with Living Color was great, but there really is nothing like an Undertaker entrance. Unreal vibe.
902 match wastes no time telling its story and feeling huge. Crowd is totally split and very loud
905 Punk did old school on the Undertaker! Move of the night
915 Punk just can’t break a table. Flying elbow still brought “awesome” chants
918 Punk hits gts but taker immediately responds with tombstone but only gets 2!
925 Undertaker wins with an unbelievable finish. Reversals of finishers left and right, Punk hit taker with the urn but Undertaker kept the streak alive with a tombstone. Match of the year. Punk was amazing and the Undertaker is no slouch himself. This was worth the price of admission.
932 I don’t envy Triple H and Brock Lesnar having to follow that classic. Paul Hetman gets kudos for being out for back to back main events though.
935 Shawn Michaels officials gets introduced as Mr WrestleMania. That’s equal to Joe DiMaggio being announced ad the greatest living hitter right?
938 Big pyro for Lesnar. Big set piece for Triple H. He’s like Skullator.
950 Brutal match, but anything outside the ring is totally lost with the crowd with the exception of Triple H being put through a table.
953 Lesnar botches a pedigree but Triple H recovers and hits it. Damn part timers.
955 you can hear chair shots from up here.
1003 Just had dueling kimora locks for what felt like forever. Lesnar kept
teasing tapping out but then kept slamming Triple H into the steel steps.
1005 Triple H wins! He clocks Lesnar with a sledgehammer and pedigrees him into the steps to win it. Match definitely had its moments but was only okay overall.
1015 Looks like the Rhodes Scholars got the shaft because Cena/Rock is next. They wasted no time on entrances either. Getting right to it.
1026 A guy just left his seat and headed home. No one gave him a hard time about it. Crowd is kinda gassed and match doesn’t have the tempo to bring them back. Crowd is 80% Rock but yhru are reacting like its split.
1040 I called the spot but it didn’t finish. Rock went for a five knuckle shuffle but Cena landed an AA for a two count.
1043 Spot of the night! Cena faked going for a peoples elbow and held the ropes when Rock got up. Rock hit a Rock bottom anyway for two.
1045 both guys won’t stop trying finishers and Cena finally hits an AA to win it. They hug and even though Cena wins the Rock leaves last. Rock holds Cena’s arm up at the stage and fireworks close the show. Everyone leaves feeling meh.
Overall it was a very good show. The weakest match was Ryback/Henry, and Cena/Rock suffered from the crowd being too drained to care and the hate for Cena. Still glad I can check WrestleMania off my bucket list and I’ll never forget Punk/ Undertaker. We’ll see how they follow it up tomorrow on Raw.
Until then I’ll leave you with the last image I saw.
Now that the Undertaker is officially back it really feels like WrestleMania is upon us. However, eerily just one day after the Undertaker returned, his long time manager Paul Bearer passed away at 58 years young. From everything I had read and seen he was a very normal man for leading such an abnormal life. He seemed like a guy I might enjoy having a beer and watching some hockey with. Rest in peace Bill Moody.
The question from the WWE’s perspective is now how do you handle it? More specifically, do you make it part of the story between Punk and the Undertaker? It wouldn’t be totally unexpected after Punk mocked Jerry Lawler’s heart attack in November, but that was after Lawler had returned to work. This is different. Moody isn’t with us anymore. But, it’s certainly possible that there is a feeling, like with Lawler, that Moody would want the show to go on and that he would in fact be honored to be brought into things this way. I have no idea if they will do it, and I’m pretty sure they shouldn’t (if they did it would have to be perfect), but you have to believe they have thought about it.
Tonight’s show opens with a montage and tribute to Paul Bearer. After the video the Undertaker’s music hits. Taker comes out to the ring and raises his arms, only instead of turning on all the lights it only turns a spotlight on to an urn sitting on a table in the middle of the ring. The Undertaker kneels next to it, just like he did for all those years when Moody held it, paying tribute. Just when you thought it was going to end, guess what? CM Punk’s music comes out and he spoils the party. You have to give it to him, he’s got balls. Punk says he wants to personally give the Undertaker his condolences for his loss…at WrestleMania! He says it’s a shame that to Paul Bearer he will always be perfect, but to everyone else he will be 20-1. He says that after WrestleMania everyone will ask where they were when CM Punk beat the streak. Very split crowd reaction. Before Punk can head back, fire erupts from the stage and Kane comes out. Furious over Punk spoiling a tribute to his dad (remember that?), he grabs him by the throat and looks to choke slam him off the stage. Punk escapes however and runs off, with Kane in hot pursuit. I know people will attack Punk and the WWE for mocking a man who passed away, but this is the exact emotion they want to get out of the fan base. There is a weird line that pro wrestlers walk where they have to be that character all the time. No other actor has to do that. In that way I feel like CM Punk is paying his respect the only way he can. He can’t go out there and give the Undertaker a hug, but he can go and talk smack about him. It’s kind of like being in a roast. You make fun of those you love.
The first match of the night puts the Big Show against Seth Rollins, making him the first member the Shield to compete in singles action. Big Show has been getting attacked by the Shield which now automatically makes him a face, even though he isn’t acting like it yet. Big Show dominates early, throwing Rollins out of the ring into Ambrose and attacking Reigns. Outside the ring the three Shield members attack Show, ending the match via DQ. They hold Show down but the Big Show powers his way out of it. Show was about to chokeslam Rollins when he got speared by Reigns. They beat him down and hit the big man with the triple power bomb. Wasn’t sure they would be able to pull it off but it looked pretty good.
Backstage again, CM Punk is is barking at Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox about what Kane did to him. Punk said his beef is with the Undertaker and he shouldn’t need his brother to fight his battles for him. Vickie decides to put Punk in a no DQ match with Kane.
Back in the ring, Daniel Bryan is facing Dolph Ziggler (and his entourage). This can also be referred to as the World Heavyweight Championship match that I was hoping for at WrestleMania. Instead it’s mid card on Raw. They whole reason they are fighting is because Ricardo Rodriguez threw a bucket of water at AJ and Bryan made fun of her. So now Dolph has to defend her woman. Ziggler has to win tonight right? Bryan can absorb the loss and Ziggler desperately needs a win. Ideally without help but I’ll take what I can get. He needs to get some sort of momentum going into WrestleMania. If Ryback is going to face Mark Henry, Ziggler’s opponent seems likely to be Chris Jericho. That’ll work.
They start of with some mat wrestling early, ending with Bryan applying the mexican surfboard before Dolph responds with a standing dropkick. As Bryan starts to regain momentum with a flurry of kicks, Michael Cole reminded us that Ziggler has until July to cash in his MITB briefcase. Could to know, but I’m still putting my money on WrestleMania. Bryan tossed Dolph over the top rope, but Daniel was stopped from running out to continue the attack when Big E jumped on the apron to get in his way. Ziggler then took control, applying an extending head stand chin lock before Bryan caught Ziggler attempting a drop kick, hurling him into the corner. Bryan then back flipped over Dolph in the corner, and hit a jumping clothesline. Dolph got a boot up as Bryan ran in to attack him, but Daniel applied a sunset flip. Ziggler tried to roll over and get a pin attempt of his own, but Bryan fell to the side and the spot was botched. Back in the corner, Ziggler was putting Bryan up on the turnbuckle but Daniel knocked him down. Bryan then attempted a side suplex from the top rope, but Dolph moved to his side to splash Bryan down on the mat. Dolph then landed a fame-asser to end another fast sequence but could only get a two count. This match is everything I wanted it to be. Bryan then started to apply the NO Lock but AJ distracted the ref so that Big E can pull Dolph toward the rope to break the hold. Bryan went after Big E and Dolph tried to take advantage of the distraction with a roll up pin. Bryan got out on two and went to apply the NO Lock again but Dolph wiggled out. Ziggler then ducked under a roundhouse kick, nailed the Zig Zag and finally pinned Bryan for a victory. Fantastic match. These guys needs to be on the card for a PPV soon. Afterwards, AJ had Langston attack Bryan, hitting him with the whatever you call it. Curious if this goes anywhere.
How else do you follow a great match than with Brodus Clay and Sweet T (Tensai) dancing away. Tensai is in solo action against Fandango, and Clay had Brodus pull off his tear away pants to end the entrance routine. The funny part is that Tensai was wearing regular pants under his breakaway pants. Fandango only come to the stage after Tensai called him out, and he said that Tensai didn’t get his name right, and that Tensai and Brodus are abominations to dance. Fandango says he’ll only come out if Naomi says his name. He seems to have the hots for her, saying she is the only one of them with real rhythm. She was about to try when Tensai get grabbed the mic to call him out again. Fandango then cut him off, saying Tensai cost everyone their chance to see “FAHN-DAHN-GO.” In reality, we were saved from a crappy match.
Now to a real match, as the Rhodes Scholars reunite once again to face the New Age Outlaws. Two matches in two weeks for them? Are they just on the roster now? Meanwhile I’m hoping that the Rhodes Scholars break up amicably every week, only to make a big deal out of reuniting the next week. If there was ever a pair of guys to pull that off, it’s Rhodes and Sandow. Sandow and Rhodes come out first and do a grammatically correct version of the NAO’s entrance. Absolutely awesome. I love Sandow. Of course Gunn and Road Dogg come out next and to it their way to a big pop, and in honor of Bearer (Mercy mercy, this one’s for you Percy), but you can’t deny how great the Rhodes Scholars version was. Road Dogg gets his dancing in to deliver a punch to Cody, but Sandow jumps in to distract him and Cody lands a distaster kick. Before the match can go any further Brock Lesnar comes out with Paul Heyman. Lesnar hits F-5’s on both members of the New Age Outlaws and Paul Heyman grabs the microphone. Heyman says that while Triple H says the game is on, Brock Lesnar doesn’t play games. Brock Lesnar hurts people. He goes through Lesnar breaking Shawn Michaels’ arm, Vince McMahon’s hip, and now dismantling the New Age Outlaws. Finally, Heyman gets to the point, proclaiming that Brock Lesnar will face Triple H at WrestleMania, but only if they can name the match stipulation. The catch is that Triple H has to sign the contract before knowing the stipulation. Good stuff. Heyman has had to hold himself back so much with CM Punk, that now that he’s doing all the talking for Lesnar he is on fire. He finishes up by mocking the New Age Outlaws, saying that “If you’re not down with that. I’ve got two words for you. BROCK LESNAR.” The smart money says Hell in a Cell, but I can see them getting creative with it here. First blood? I quit?
Potential squash match time with Kofi Kingston being fed to Mark Henry. Henry’s beef with Ryback continues to gain steam on Smackdown, although the only thing they do is stare at each other. It’s possible they just love each other. Anyway the match was basically over before it started. Henry tossed Kofi around before landing a big boot in Kofi’s face, sending Kingston out of the ring. Hold on a minute, Henry went to run over Kofi outside the ring but Kingston moved and Henry went into the post. Kingston then hit a one handed leaping chop off the steps to take Mark down. Back in the ring however, Kofi went for a cross body splash off the top rope but Henry caught him in the air and landed the World’s Strongest Slam for the win. Henry is being booked very well.
Backstage Cody Rhodes is flirting with Kaitlyn, and she’s digging it when Sandow comes by saying that he found the perfect women for the ladies division. He then reintroduced the Bella twins who were apparently reinstated. I didn’t miss them for a minute but whatever. Vickie Guerrero then came by and informed them that since their match got cut short, the Rhodes Scholars will now face Randy Orton and Sheamus. Sure, because that always happens when a match gets cut short. Meanwhile, Cody just got totally cock blocked by Sandow. That’s not what best friends do, bro.
Keeping the feud going, Mark Henry is standing on the stage as Ryback squashes Heath Slater. Gorilla press slam, meat hook clothesline and a Shell Shocked give Ryback the win. Drew McIntyre then comes in to attack Ryback for some reason, and gets a shell shock as well. Mark Henry then comes in and hits Drew with the WSS to show Ryback up. Ryback then hits Drew with Shell Shocked again, and Henry hits the WSS again. The two of them stare each other down again before Henry backs out of the ring. Just make out already and be done with it. Drew McIntyre should be happy at the end of this though. It’s the most attention he’s gotten in a while.
After a trailer for “The Call” starring Halle Berry, United States Champion Antonio Cesaro is taking on World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger have to be going nuts right now. Swagger should definitely come out and interfere here. Cesaro hits a hurricarana on Del Rio only to be countered with a cross body splash from the top rope. Alberto when to the top again but Antonio took Del Rio’s leg out from under him, bringing him back to the mat. From there Cesaro controlled the middle of the match, with chin locks and elbow drops. Eventually Del Rio came back, hitting Antonio with a super kick to the chin (while Cesaro was on his knees, I think it should be called a side kick instead). Del Rio brought Cesaro down for a back breaker and a two count. Alberto then went to the top rope again for a double axe handle but Antonio hit him with an upper cut. Del Rio then avoided whatever move Cesaro was going for, applied the cross arm breaker and Cesaro immediately tapped out to end the match. No problems with the match except for the fact that Swagger and Colter never came out. Big missed opportunity there. Although it would have planted seeds toward a Cesaro face turn and there is no way that’s happening. It’s a very weird situation having a foreign US and World Heavyweight Champ, and a heel that hates foreigners.
Backstage, Josh Matthews is talking to Kane about his match with Punk. Kane is holding Paul Bearer’s urn. He stares at it, looks pissed, and walks away. It’s kind of easy to forget how much of a force Kane was in his prime now that he’s joking it up with Bryan. It’s good that they separated the two of them for this angle with Punk.
The Rhodes Scholars sadly do not do the New Age Outlaws intro again as they prepare to face Sheamus and Randy Orton. What’s really weird is that Orton came out first. Then the Rhodes Scholars came out during the commercial so that Sheamus can make his entrance on TV like Randy. What kind of team comes individually out in between the other team? Orton and Sandow start off with Orton controlling things with a suplex before tagging Sheamus in to hit Damien with a battering ram. Sandow then pushes Sheamus into his corner in order to tag in Rhodes who does no better. The tide starts to turn when Sandow lowers the rope on Sheamus to get him to the outside. The Rhodes Scholars then keep Sheamus away from his corner and wear him out. Sheamus eventually gets Orton in on a hot tag and hits Rhodes with a power slam and a belly to belly suplex. Orton goes for the second rope DDT but Sandow pulls Cody down to save him. Orton comes out to attack both of them and Cody throws Orton into the steel post. Back in the ring, the Rhodes Scholars are controlling things again, essentially repeating the spot from earlier with Sheamus now waiting for the hot tag. Sure enough, Orton knocks Rhodes down from the top rope and lands a superplex, giving him the chance to tag in Sheamus on a hot tag. Sheamus now gets his signature moves in on Sandow, and by the looks of things he’s been told to hurry up because he is going through the moves really fast. Sheamus lands White Noise and teases the Brogue Kick when Cody Rhodes comes in to help. Sheamus moves away and Orton hits Cody with an RKO, giving Sheamus the chance to hit Sandow with a Brogue Kick and win the match. I can’t think of a tag match that better showcased the two individuals on one team better. During the commercial after the match, the Shield attacked Orton and Sheamus on the way up the ramp. Rollins hit Orton with a leaping knee from the stage and Reigns speared Sheamus. It’s only a matter of time before Big Show hooks up with them and this match becomes official.
Back from touring with Fozzy, Chris Jericho is out for another edition of the Highlight Reel. After asking if his lite up jacket was working and showing a clip from “The Marine 3,” Jericho called out his first guest the Miz. That’s two movie promotions so far, and we haven’t gotten to Wade Barrett yet. Jericho congratulates Miz on the sales numbers of his movie and wouldn’t ya know it, Wade Barrett comes out to talk about “Dead Man Down.” He shows a clip from his movie, a clip that he isn’t in, and Miz makes fun of how much he talks about this damn movie by doing a poor British accent. Barrett says that the accent shows how little range Miz has as an actor, while Wade has been turning down movie offers left and right because he is too busy being Intercontinental Champion. Miz believes Barrett keeps brining up his movie to distract us from the fact that he hasn’t won a match in weeks and will eventually lose his belt. Jericho must have gotten bored because for some reason he decided to jump in, mocking Miz’s “really” line by saying it like Ace Ventura. Cole can’t help but mention how bad it is. Wade tells Jericho to keep out of this before he drops him right now, prompting Jericho to remove his jacket and tell Barrett that despite helping bring him into the WWE through NXT and is a two time IC Champ, Jericho is a nine time IC champ. Jericho says that maybe he’ll make it ten (ooooooh). This brings Brad Maddox out to introduce himself and Michael Cole says this may be the worst segment in the history of Raw. Hard to argue him right now. Maddox is just stammering through his bit, and the crowd is gone. Eventually he manages to say that Miz and Jericho will fight now, with the winner facing Barrett next week for the Intercontinental Championship. Brad tells the crew to remove Jericho’s set, but Jericho casually informs him that it was removed at the beginning of the segment. Train wreck.
Barrett sits at the announce table for the match, which starts the two men trading blows. Jericho gets a boot up on Miz running in the corner, Miz counters the bulldog by pushing Jericho into the other corner. Jericho then avoids getting thrown out of the ring to hit a double axe handle from the top rope, only for Miz to land a big boot for a two count. Fast pace in a match that seems very improvised. Jericho finally lands the running bulldog but Miz gets his knees up to block the lionsault. Jericho then blocks the Miz’s jumping clothesline in the corner and tries to apply the Walls of Jericho. Miz wiggles out of it and tries to apply the figure four leglock but Jericho escapes and again goes for the Walls but Miz turns it into a small package for a two count, with Jericho still holding on to Miz’s legs and finally applying a Boston Crab. This is a good match to teach someone about the fundamentals of pro wrestling with. Miz eventually makes it to the rope to break the hold, and heads out of the ring to recuperate. Jericho pursues and accidentally(?) throws Miz into Barrett. Jericho then continues working on Miz when Barrett gets up and attacks him. Wade then goes after Miz but Miz knocks him into the apron as Jericho hits him with a baseball slide. Miz and Jericho then throw him back into the ring, hitting Barrett with a Skull Crushing Finale and Code Breaker respectively to end the segment. During the commercial it was revealed that since the match ended in a DQ, Barrett with now face Miz and Jericho in a triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship. Coulda seen that one coming.
Jack Swagger takes on one of the WWE’s other mexicans, Sin Cara. Sadly with rumors of Rey Mysterio retiring due to all the injuries, we aren’t far from Sin Cara being the only luchador in the WWE. Before the match Zeb Colter says he has a chip on his shoulder, specifically with Sin Cara who does not know the United States native language but was welcomed to the country. He says the people only cheer for him because they are programmed to, noting that he jumps around like a mexican jumping bean. Zeb calls Sin Cara thief because every night there is a Sin Cara sneaking across the border trying to take jobs from American’s, and it’s the people’s fault because they are afraid to say something about it. Zeb and Swagger aren’t afraid and will say it for you. Zeb then critiques Del Rio for saying he was born in Mexico and made in America. Anyway they eventually had a match and Sin Cara controlled things early, hitting a cross body splash from the top rope to the outside of the ring. This drove Swagger nuts, kicking the announce table and steps. Swagger then blocked a hurricarana but Sin Cara swung around the other way to attempt a roll up pin, only Jack blocked that as well. Swagger then tried whipping Sin Cara into the corner but Cara jumped over the top rope onto the apron and delivered a kick to Jack’s face. Sin Cara then went for another top rope splash but Swagger met him with a big boot to the mid section and started working on the ankle. He locks it in and Sin Cara quickly taps to end the match. Swagger doesn’t let go of the lock however until Del Rio comes in to save him. Eventually Del Rio locks in the arm breaker but Zeb Colter pulls Swagger away before any harm can be done. You could have sold the match on having the ankle lock versus the arm breaker. Oh well.
Meanwhile it looks like Ryback will face Mark Henry on Smackdown. I wonder if that means they won’t square off at WrestleMania.
Main event time as CM Punk takes on Kane in a no disqualification match. I wish they would just call it a hardcore match every once in a while. Kane comes to the ring holding Paul Bearer’s urn. Cole has to explain what the urn means, making me feel really old that it is necessary. Punk wastes no time, leaping through the ropes at Kane on the outside. I wonder if they will make mention of the feud they had with Daniel Bryan and AJ. Punk continues with a flurry of knees before Kane lands a few punches and throws Punk into the ringpost and dropping him on the barricade. Kane then clears the announce table but Punk strikes Kane in the stomach with the ring bell and hits a double axe handle that takes Punk toward the urn. He stares at it for a moment until Kane hits him in the head with a tv monitor. Finally the two men get in the ring and it kind of looks like a real match is taking place. Kane sets up for a superplex but Punk pushes him down and hits the flying elbow from the top rope for a two count. Punk works Kane into the corner and hits two high knees, but Kane blocks the bulldog and throws Punk out of the ring. Back from break, Punk props a chair between the turnbuckles but Kane reverses the irish whip and sends Punk into the chair head first. Kane then hits a sidewalk slam and clotheslines Punk out of the ring. Kane then starts tossing all the steel chairs he can find into the ring. He is about to chokeslam Punk into one of the chairs but Punk grabs Kane’s head and DDT’s him into the chair instead. Punk then starts attacking Kane with a chair, eventually mocking Undertaker’s hand across the throat taunt before Kane grabbed Punk by the throat. Punk landed a roundhouse kick however, maintaining control. Punk calls for the GTS when the Undertaker’s bell sounds. Punk immediately turns around, giving Kane the opportunity to deliver a chokeslam and win the match.
Afterwards the Undertaker’s music continues and the Undertaker does come to the stage, taking a knee while Kane does the same to pay respect to William Moody. Punk again interferes in the tribute, attacking Kane from behind with the urn! Punk continues to beat Kane with it until the Undertaker gets in the ring. Punk retreats with urn still in hand, stopping at the stage to take a knee and mock the Undertaker some more. Undertaker gives the slit throat sign and looks pissed as the show ends.
I’m not sure what they would have done if Moody had not died, but I doubt it would have been nearly as effective at creating instant heat between Punk and the Undertaker. After the last four years have been all about how much respect the have for the Undertaker, I really appreciate somebody stepping up and just pissing him off. Especially when it is someone as good as CM Punk. People may not agree with it, but it’s creating a whole new reason for the Undertaker to wrestle besides just keeping the streak going. Now if they can just make Punk seem like he actually has a chance against him instead of losing most of the time.
I’ve talked up past Raw’s in the past only to be disappointed, but I really think this is going to be a good show. With it being an “old school” Raw we have plenty of special guests already confirmed in Ted Dibiase, Ric Flair and the New Age Outlaws to name a few. The Rock and Triple H are billed as well. Oh and the UNDERTAKER WAS SEEN IN THE AREA! Each week has been labeled as the week he officially comes back, but with the Cena/Punk stuff out of the way and making an appearance at a house show last weekend, the time really does seem perfect. Plus, its “old school” Raw, and he has a move called “old school.” Right? Right?
The show kicks off and its the old style Raw set with 90s era ropes and aprons and HOLY MOTHER OF HELL IT’S THE UNDERTAKER! They wasted no time building up the suspense on this one. His music hits, the crowd goes nuts and the dead man strolls out in full S&M attire with fire coming from the stage and a giant WrestleMania sign behind him. Then we got the opening montage, narrated by “Mean” Gene Okerlund and the original Raw music. Pretty sweet for an old timer like myself. Even the graphics and announcers are throwbacks.
CM Punk is the first to show up after the intro. With Paul Heyman by his side, the first thing Punk said was that he should be main eventing WrestleMania specifically as the WWE Champion, but he is not and blames the fans for it. He then says that if he can’t main event then he has no reason to be at WrestleMania. However the seeing the Undertaker gives him a reason. Since the fans took from him, he is going to take from the fans and end the Undertaker’s undefeated streak. He criticizes the fans for honoring the 20-0 streak but not respecting his championship streak, declares that he’ll beat the Undertaker and hand him his first WrestleMania loss. After he’s done Randy Orton comes out, brings up how he beat Punk at WrestleMania and talks about his match against the Undertaker 8 years ago. He says that he was a rookie then and almost beat him, and says he wants another shot. After he’s done the Big Show comes out to make his case. He says that when he faced the Undertaker at WrestleMania he didn’t have his KO Punch (which makes no sense) and that you need to be a giant to beat him. Then Sheamus comes out and is all “hey fella, I’ve never faced him and I love to foyte blah blah blah.” Long story short, all four guys want to face the Undertaker. Out comes Vicki Guerrero to declare that they will compete in a fatal four-way match to determine the Undertaker’s opponent. We all know Punk is going to be the guy, but having him earn it is a lot better than having him just get chosen because Undi didn’t like how he calls himself a god. I’m all for things being earned in the ring.
The first match of the night puts United States Champion, Antonio Cesaro against Ryback. I feel like Cesaro only faces four people since he first arrived. Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Miz and Ryback. Ryback’s tights say “unlimited energy.” I think he is promoting a new energy drink. In classic Ryback/Cesaro fashion, Cesaro (sporting new blue ring gear he claims to have made) starts off by attacking Ryback with a flurry of moves, only to be driven into oblivion by Ryback. The crow chanted “Goldberg” as Ryback performed a very Goldberg-y move, flipping Cesaro onto his shoulder and slamming him onto the mat. All of Antonio’s offense comes at the expense of the surroundings. Driving Ryback’s throat into the rope, head into the post, and a boot kicking his face into the outside railing finally put Cesaro in control for a little bit. Antionio called Ryback stupid however and Ryback immediately came back to beat the snot out of Cesaro. What followed was the greatest sequence of Ryback’s still early career. He set Cesaro up for the meathook clothesline, but when he ran in Antonio countered and clocked Ryback with an uppercut. Cesaro then went for the Neutralizer and almost got it up, but Ryback fought it off and lifted Cesaro into position for Shellshocked, landing it and winning the match. A very strong ending for what seemed like every other Ryback match ever until then. Step forward for Ryback. As Ryback is leaving up the ramp, Mark Henry comes out and the two stare each other down. Henry eventually moves on and makes his way toward the ring. I had thought Big Show would make a good opponent for Ryback at WrestleMania, but Mark Henry might just as good if not better. I assumed he would just take on the Shield again but I’m happy to see someone else get in his way.
Henry would go on to face Zack Ryder, and it must be new ring gear day because he has red attire tonight with a “push me” button in the rear. He also looks a little feistier, which is interesting because he has been talking about ditching the comedy relief gimmick and becoming more serious. Cole also had to mention how pissed he is about not being booked for WrestleMania, especially since it’s in his native tri-state area. Ryder gets a knee up in the corner but that’s pretty much all the offense he musters. Irish whip in the corner, clothesline and a Worlds Strongest Slam is all it takes to put Zack out for the count. Henry gets the pin, yelling “That’s what I do!” I really want that to be a t-shirt. I might even buy it.
For the first time in months, maybe years, we have three straight matches in a row as the Miz takes on everyones favorite (but mostly mine) Dolph Ziggler. It just wouldn’t be the Miz though if he didn’t grab the mic and talk some smack. He introduces Ric Flair, who will be in his corner. Flair does the same thing he’s been doing whenever he shows up lately, act like he’s high on paint fumes. He’ll spend the majority of the match dancing around and “wooing.” I’m not complaining, just stating the facts. Ziggler has enough of it, gives Miz a big chop and struts around until the Miz knocks him out of the ring with a boot to the face. Back in the ring, Ziggler landed a standing dropkick and followed it up with his head stand headlock (he’s soooo dreamy). After trading blows, Miz rolled up Dolph for a two count and followed it up with a back breaker into the neck breaker. Ziggler then countered with a small package for a near fall and kept the momentum with a jumping DDT. Miz then fought off a sleeper hold attempt but Dolph ducked under a boot to the face, this time locking in the sleeper in the middle of the ring. Miz eventually fights him off however, connects on the jumping clothesline in the corner and the top rope axe handle, setting up for the Skull Crushing Finale (remember that move?). AJ starts to enter the ring however, and with the ref distracted with her (can you blame him?), Big E takes out Miz with a clothesline. Flair then wakes up from his trance and starts slapping Langston’s chest like it owed him money. It has no affect of course and Flair starts to retreat, but Miz saves Ric with a kick through the ropes to take Big E out. Dolph rolls up the distracted Miz for a two count, then Miz deflects Ziggler’s standing drop kick, applies another fairly sloppy figure four and gets Ziggler to tap out. How many people does Dolph need in his corner to win a match these days? Unbelievable. After the match, Flair and Miz strut around like psychos, with Ric flopping and elbow dropping the air. Good match, just can’t get over how Dolph never wins anymore.
Seeing three consecutive matches makes me worry that we aren’t going to see wrestling for a while. My suspicions are confirmed when the Rock comes out. The WWE Champion will engage in an all out, no holds barred, point/counterpoint discussion with John Cena. ANYTHING GOES! Verbally. Rock spent about five minutes explaining to us that it’s cold in Buffalo (and that he had ice on his nipples) before John Cena interrupted. Is he going to counter the Rock’s point about Buffalo being cold? They agree that WrestleMania is 34 days away. Cena says that the Rock doesn’t know what it’s like to need to win and fail, like Cena does after losing to the Rock. As “Cena sucks” chants start, Cena talks about how that loss made him feel worthless and sent his life into a tailspin. He’s making it sound like he was a drug addict. He says the Rock is the reason for Cena’s collapse last year, and why he has turned it around now. Cena says that Rocked pushed him to win the Royal Rumble and beat finally CM Punk. Cena sees this match as a shot at redemption to right the biggest wrong of his life and that he won’t throw this chance away. Rock says he’s happy to see that fire from Cena because he wanted to face him at WrestleMania, and that is because he knows how important all of this is to him. Rock says that no other superstar has that fire, except himself. He adds that John Cena won’t be getting redemption, he’s going to get his ass kicked. Cena responds by quoting Mike Tyson, first by yelling “I’m going to eat his children” in his Tyson voice. Then he quotes him seriously, saying “in order to be the greatest that ever lived, you have to beat everyone living.” Cena then says that he has accomplished everything he has ever set out to do in the WWE, except defeat the Rock. He then says that the Rock’s time is up, and his time is now. Rock then says his time is just starting and quotes Lance Armstrong, saying “Winning is all about heart. You just have to have it in the right place.” He says “Lance Armstrong was full of crap and so are you.” (Rock’s best line in a while) Cena can’t help but laugh, finally pulling it together to again say that he will beat Rock. Rock responds by saying that the difference between the two of them is that Cena think he can beat the Rock, and the Rock knows he can beat Cena, and will beat him again. They gaze into each other’s eyes for a while (or had a stare down, your choice) as the went to break. I thought Cena was much better than Rock (for the same reason’s Punk was better as Rock has nothing new to offer) for the majority of the segment. Rock evened things out considerably with that last line and Cena’s reaction to it. Solid stuff.
This is followed by what looks like a wrestling match at a distance, as the real American Jack Swagger goes against Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sgt Slaughter and the American Dream Dusty Rhodes. It pro-America faces against the American heel. I dig it. Swagger slides out of the ring and grabs Duggan’s 2×4, hitting Jim with it when he went in to grab it. Swagger then knocked out Slaughter and Rhodes with it before applying the Patriot Act on Duggan. It’s a non match, which is for the best considering Duggan was wearing gym shorts and a tank top, and it was meant purely to give Swagger more heat. That’s good because right now people only care about Zeb Colter. Backstage, Josh Matthews is asking Swagger why he acted like such a bitch. He was about to say something about how this is Jack Swagger’s America, when Alberto Del Rio attacked him from behind. Security steps in between them and Swagger is prevented from speaking again.
Back in the ring the Prime Time Players, who are all about “millions of dollars” are trying to get Ted DiBiase, the million dollar man, to be their manager. So he is ringside as they take on Team Hell No. Kane takes control early against Darren Young, tagging in Bryan who keeps it going with a dropkick. Titus O’Neil evens things out with a big clothesline on Bryan, following it up by slamming Young onto Daniel. Young then tributes DiBiase by doing his trademark fist drop. A “we want Virgil” chant gets going. Somewhere Virgil is smiling in his box. Bryan gets Kane in on a hot tag and unleashes the beast on Young. After hitting a sidewalk slam, O’Neil breaks up the pin attempt. Titus then goes after Bryan on the apron, but Daniel lowers the rope and O’Neil falls out of the ring. Bryan keeps him out with a jumping knee off the apron, and Kane catches Young off a top rope axe handle to land a chokeslam and win the match. After the match, DiBiase shoves a hundred-dollar bill down Young;s throat, laughs and walks out. Awesome. As they are leaving, Bryan runs over and takes the money from Darren’s mouth. Awesomer!
The tag team action continues as Brodus Clay and Tensai now (Sweet T) are out against 3MB. Before the match starts, the Honky Tonk Man comes out! He is introduced as the greatest Intercontinental Champion in WWE history. I might go with Randy Savage but he did hold the belt longer than anyone else. Slater grabs the mic from Honky, telling him that he needs to go back to Vegas because 3MB is the biggest musical act in the WWE, and makes him leave the ring. Drew McIntyre starts against Tensai, and after Drew misses on a dive in the corner, Tensai rolls him up from behind and gets the pin. Perfect! Tensai and Clay start to dance until the Honky Tonk Man stops him, gets his music to play and they all do the Honky dance until Swagger comes out to stop them. He gets hit a guitar to the face courtesy of the Honky Tonk Man and the dance party continues. Big pop.
Have you been as excited for Fandango’s debut as I’ve been? Well then you’ll be disappointed to know that he’s making his debut tonight against Kofi Kingston. It was supposed to be on Smackdown but Matt Striker couldn’t say his name right. After a woman best described as a 6 dances, Fandango says that Justin Roberts, the ring announcer, didn’t say his name right, and won’t wrestle until his name is said correctly. He makes him repeat it over and over until he finally decides that he just isn’t going to wrestle tonight. I’m not nearly as disappointed as Jerry Lawler is. Lawler was not happy with Roberts. I’m left trying to figure out why this character is a good idea. Brodus Clay started as a beast who debut as a dancing clown. Maybe Fandango will be a dancing clown that debuts as a beast.
So even though we should have had four matches after the Rock and Cena came out, only one of them actually resembled a match. We continue the non-wrestling portion of the program with Triple H coming out to address the crowd regarding Brock Lesnar. He starts by talking about how the last time he spoke on Raw it was after losing to Lesnar at Summerslam and thinking about retirement. He says he’s been working out and training every day but with no actual reason to do it. Lesnar gave him that reason when he attacked Vince McMahon. He says that Summerslam was just the beginning between him and Lesnar, and calls him out for WrestleMania. He also calls himself the ass-kicker again among his usually list of nicknames. Weird thing to call yourself. Triple H keeps it pretty short and heads out. He made a big deal about how he made Lesar bleed. He didn’t really have anything to say about how Lesnar was smiling afterwards. Oh well.
The Shield had a video promo about what happened on Smackdown with Orton, Sheamus and Big Show. Shield came out to attack Orton during his match against Show, but Sheamus came to assist. As they fought, Show got bumped into and knocked out Reigns, causing them to retreat. Shield brings up that while the Undertaker has an undefeated WrestleMania streak, the Shield has also never been beaten. They also now have beef with Big Show, along with Sheamus and Orton. The same men who are in the Fatal Four-way match with CM Punk for the right to face the Undertaker. Hmmmmmm. Things seem to be taking shape.
World Heavyweight Champion in action next against Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. Del Rio takes control early as Swagger and Colter come out to the stage to watch. Alberto moves in on Wade but Barrett counters with a swinging side slam. Del Rio gets tossed on the outside of the ramp and applies the cross arm breaker on Barrett while hanging on the top rope. Barrett then comes back with a big boot to the face to knock him off the apron onto the floor. Barrett then suspends Del Rio’s head on the apron and nails him with boots and kicks to the head. Back in the ring Barrett goes for an elbow from the second rope but misses, giving Del Rio the opening to come back. A tiltaworld back breaker leads to a sidekick to the face, setting up an enzigui in the corner but Barrett steps aside, hitting a side kick to the gut. Wade then goes for a pump handle slam but Alberto escapes, applying the cross arm breaker and getting the win via submission. Very solid match. When there have been actual wrestling matches they have been quite good. The rest has been acceptable. Swagger and Colter never move from the stage, just looking angry the whole time.
The New Age Outlaws in the house and they do the whole entrance shtick that they did all those years ago and it still pops. I also have to give it to Billy Gunn, he may have lost some hair up top but he still looks pretty good. They go against Epico and Primo. The Road Dogg gets his shimmy moves going early with “You still got it” chants going. Epico and Primo gain control for the middle of the match, with the Road Dogg telling the crowd to get loud while he’s in a head lock. He finally gets Gunn for a hot tag and hits the swinging power slam before eventually connecting on a somewhat sloppy fame-asser to get the win. They did pretty well considering they hadn’t performed on Raw in 13 years.
On the main stage the full roster is out celebrating Mae Young’s 90th birthday. Mean Gene Okerlund calls out Mae, who is le out by the Divas. I know you were wondering and yes, Mark Henry is out there to celebrate with his former lady. In the middle of the birthday song however, CM Punk’s music hits and he walks right through the celebration on his way to the ring for the Fatal Four-way match against Sheamus, Orton and the Big Show.
When the bell rings Punk immediately slides out of the ring to let the other’s fight it out. Sheamus and Orton then do the same, cornering Punk who then slides back into the ring only to get knocked down by Big Show. Show then goes after Orton outside the ring, and Randy avoids being dropped onto the railing by pushing Show into the ring post, temporarily knocking him out. Sheamus and Orton then go at it and as soon as Orton hits Sheamus witha back breaker, Punk runs in and covers Sheamus for two count, immediately leaving the ring again after he kicks out. He tries it again after Sheamus hits Orton with an Irish Curse back breaker, but Sheamus keeps him from escaping the ring and he and Orton throw CM over the top rope. Meanwhile Big Show gets back up and takes down the two faces. During the break, Orton DDT’d Show from the top rope, taking him out of the match again. He tried the same trick on Punk but gets tossed out of the ring just as Sheamus comes up to pummel his chest from the apron. Show then hits Sheamus with a final cut, but the pin gets broken up by Punk. Show then hits Punk with a KO Punch but Sheamus attacks Show before he can cover. Sheamus lands a flurry of attacks to take him down, but Show gets back up quick and regains control. Show goes for the second rope splash but Sheamus moves away. He then lifts up the Big Show for White Noise but only gets a two count. Sheamus calls for the Brogue Kick but Orton runs in and power slams him for a two count. Show then moves in to choke slam Orton, pushing away Sheamus before throwing down Randy. Show then blocks a Brogue Kick before choke slamming Sheamus for a two count. Show calls for the KO Punch on Sheamus, but Sheamus ducks under it and lands a Brogue Kick (after Show seemed to wait forever for it) knocking him out of the ring. Orton then hit Sheamus with an RKO and Punk tagged Orton with a roundhouse kick straight into a GTS to win the match. Very entertaining and everyone played their parts well, although the result was never in question. The best thing is that it was a clean win for Punk. I don’t think that’s happened in a big match since he turned heel.
The crowd goes nuts as Punk secures the match against the Undertaker at WrestleMania. He does a great job not pointing at the WreslteMania sign as the lights go dark and the Undertaker’s music hits. Undi steps out again to the stage and the fire erupts behind him as the two stare at each other to end the show. Plenty of action in what was the best Raw with regards to promoting WrestleMania. Hard not to be pumped after all that. We also have a clearer picture on the card. Based on everything we’ve seen it looks like we can almost count on the following matches:
Rock vs John Cena for the WWE Championship
Undertaker vs CM Punk
Brock Lesnar vs Triple H
Alberto Del Rio vs Jack Swagger for the World Heavyweight Championship
Ryback vs Mark Henry
Randy Orton, Sheamus and the Big Show vs the Shield
That still leaves some people who still needs to find their roles (most notably Jericho, Ziggler, Kane and Daniel Bryan) but the main card looks set and it’s pretty good aside from Del Rio/Swagger. That could even be a good match, I just wouldn’t pay to see it. Everything else is looking pretty solid at the moment. Just under five weeks to go.
Yeah, it’s a day late. But you get what you pay for.
Since last week’s Raw left us with more questions than answers about the WrestleMania card, it became more about the new WWE Championship belt design than anything else. Since the Undertaker still hasn’t shown up we still have no idea what CM Punk will be doing on April 7th. Outside of Rock facing John Cena in some capacity, the only other match we knew for sure was happening was Alberto Del Rio defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Jack Swagger. That is of course until Jack Swagger was arrested for marijuana possession.
Under normal circumstances this probably would only be a footnote. He might miss a couple shows, perhaps a PPV and everything would be back to normal. But somehow he ended up getting arrested just days after clinching a title shot at WrestleMania. So it’s kind of a big deal. I expect him to be removed from the card, but this is the WWE we’re talking about so nothing can be counted on. They have spent a lot of effort on selling Swagger and Zeb Colter to us, so to drop it just like that would be tough.
This week’s show starts with Vince McMahon heading toward the ring in crutches, supposedly to fight Paul Heyman. He talks about how he loves to build things up with big events on Raw, which is what this “fight” is for. The quotes aren’t mine, they are McMahon’s. He calls Heyman out as the “great fighter” and Paul comes out talking trash and saying he’s been waiting years to kick Vince’s ass. Heyman aims to get payback for all the promoters Vince put out of business including himself. Paul makes it look like he is going to make a business proposal before very awkwardly diving at McMahon’s leg. Heyman takes Vince’s crutch and hits him with it a couple of times. This fight is actually happening, and it’s of the hardcore variety. With “ECW” chants from the crowd, Heyman takes another swing but Vince catches the crutch and starts attacking Heyman with it. After one good swing, Brock Lesnar comes out and makes his way toward the ring (uh oh). Heyman rolls out of the ring as Lesnar gets into it, and it’s just Brock and McMahon in the ring. Just as Lesnar was going to make his move, Triple H’s music hits. He comes out, in jeans and a leather jacket instead of a suit. Lesnar gets out of the ring and the two go at it by the apron. Triple H hits a kneelift and drives Brock’s head into the steel post, opening him up (YES THERE’S BLOOD). Lesnar mounts some offense of his own, hitting Triple H with an F-5 onto the announce table (it didn’t break, they just can’t get that right lately). Lesnar put Triple H back in the ring and went to swing a chair at him, but Triple H countered with a slow but powerful spine buster. Lesnar got hit with a chair to the back before exiting the ring and heading up the ramp. The two basically smile at each other the end the segment. Huge start to the show. We knew this was how they would get this match put together, but I didn’t expect the lengthy brawl that we got. Throw in the blood and I’m pumped.
The opening match of the night puts everyone’s favorite wrestler, Dolph Ziggler (okay maybe just mine), and his entorage against Ryback. Ziggler got Ryback to one knee and hit a dropkick but that is just about it for Dolph’s offense. Ryback just keeps throwing him down every chance he gets. He’s walking around the ring and looks pretty lethargic. Back from break Ryback is in the middle of holding Dolph up in a vertical suplex and held him up for around 30 seconds. Ryback left the ring to get Ziggler, and with the ref looking away Big E ran over Ryback with that running chest bump thingy. Dolph tried to go on the attack but really made no impact. It’s not until Dolph hit the jumping DDT that he did anything that slowed Ryback down. After a two count, Ziggler applied a sleeper but Ryback threw him down. Ryback then went back to throwing Dolph around like a rag doll. AJ distracted the ref so that Langston can help but Ryback just knocked him off the apron instead. Dolph gets laid out with Shellshocked and Ryback wins. Lackluster match from start to finish. Ryback never lost control despite all the interference. Ziggler is supposed to be a legit threat but he can’t win a match despite having the help of a monster in Big E and a hot distraction like AJ. Also, I didn’t notice the MITB briefcase at all. Isn’t he supposed to have it all the time? He has nothing going on right now! What is happening to my guy!
CM Punk out to the ring next without Paul Heyman. He’s out to talk about the match he’ll have later against John Cena with a WWE Championship title shot on the line. Punk this is not about John Cena or the Rock, or WrestleMania. It’s all about him, securing his spot in the main event of WrestleMania. He goes through all his accomplishments, adding that he pinned the Rock twice in the last two PPV’s, calling himself god before leaving the ring. He looks psycho. Dude is pumped up. They keep talking about how he called himself god. If my smart mark mindset meant anything, I’d say that the Undertaker, the dead man, does not take kindly to someone saying he is god.
Moving on from that, Donald Trump is being inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. So the 2013 class has Mick Foley, Bob Backlund, Bruno Sammartino, Trish Stratus and Donald Trump. All the greats. I’ll try to think of him more as the guy who hosted two early WrestleMania’s instead of the guy who cut Vince McMahon’s hair.
Mark Henry and Khali square off next in a match that I really hope ends this feud. Khali gets a boot up on Henry’s grill in the corner and starts chopping Mark down. Outside the ring, Henry regains control and brings Khali back in the ring where he hits the splash in the corner, and finishes him off with a World’s Strongest Slam to end the match. Perfect booking for Mark Henry, and may Khali never sniff a televised match again.
We now have our answer regarding Jack Swagger. He and Zeb are on Miz TV with Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez. Zeb disses Glenn Beck for not letting him on his show before doing what he does best. Attacking illegal immigrants. He talks about how they are taking all our jobs and resources and everything else. Miz tries to ask Del Rio how difficult it is to gain Mexican citizenship but Colter cuts him off, detailing that it takes ten years to gain citizenship and that foreigners are not allowed to own property in Mexico. He asks Zeb what he and his people are afraid of. Colter says that Del Rio represents the American dream, encouraging foreigners to come into this country. Zeb says that there is only one Del Rio success story however, and the rest of the immigrants forget to leave, and that those people are criminals. This sets Alberto off on a rant where he says that America is the greatest country in the world (take that, Mexico!) because it belongs to everyone and that anything is possible if you work hard enough for it. It’s a cheesy as it gets but it gets over with the crowd. Del Rio says they are just bullies, and if they want to make them leave they can try right now. Swagger says they’ll see them at WrestleMania and walks out. This feud is all about Colter versus Del Rio, with Swagger acting as the muscle. So Jack Swagger’s punishment for getting arrested for a DUI and possession of marijuana is appearing on Miz TV. I’d say the punishment fits the crime. After the segment, Colter had Swagger attack Miz because he didn’t like how Miz conducted the interview. I guess they’ll square off next week.
United States Champion Antonio Cesaro up next against Randy Orton. Why in the world is Zeb Colter okay with Cesaro being US Champ? It goes against everything he stands for. The two trades moves for a bit until Cesaro hits an uppercut and a back body drop to gain momentum. Antonio then hits a flurry of uppercuts to stun Randy, but Orton bounces right back with his clothesline/power slam combo. Cesaro avoided the DDT and looks to attack Orton with a clothesline from the top rope, but Orton sees it coming and hits Cesaro with a big RKO to win the match. Not too long but some big moves, especially the finish. I feel like this match got caught in a time crunch and got cut short. There is the potential for some great matches with these two.
Backstage Kane and Daniel Bryan are talking about how impressive Randy Orton is before they agree to make amends going into their match against the Prime Time Players. They each want the other to sit this one out because they can beat them on their own. Bryan says he can beat them blind folded, and Kane says he can beat them with one hand tied behind his back. Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox jump in to add a stipulation to the match. Kane will have one hand tied behind his back, and Daniel Bryan will be blindfolded. Bryan can’t get over the idea that he won’t be able to see. Maddox meanwhile can’t stop trying to talk over Vickie. Brad is gonna be GM or something soon. I can feel it.
Sheamus out to the ring in a tuxedo to go over his Oscar snubs. The whole thing is a way to make fun of Wade Barrett and his appearance in Dead Man Down. Isn’t this heel activity? Barrett hasn’t mentioned Sheamus in ages yet Sheamus is calling him out by making fun of Wade (and promoting the movie of course). They show a scene where Barrett is in the background not saying anything. Finally Barrett comes out, saying Sheamus is green with envy over Wade being in a movie (he’s green because he’s Irish, get it?) and starting an acting career. Sheamus responds by making fun of Barrett’s nose, setting Barrett off. Wade comes after him and Sheamus almost hits him with a Brogue Kick. Wade escapes the ring, saying he has his movie premier to attend tomorrow and doesn’t want anything happening to his face. Wow. Sheamus is a dick.
Damien Sandow at the announce table in support of his best friend Cody Rhodes in his match against R-Truth. Truth attacked Sandow in defense of his friend Kofi Kingston, whom Damien attacked before their match last week (I almost got lost typing that out. hope it makes sense). Truth dances around while Sandow talks about how disgusted he is with him. Cody misses a Disaster Kick but takes out Truth’s legs, taking control. When asked why they broke up, Sandow says they just parted ways. After a lengthy discussion about facial hair, Sandow gets in the ring just as Truth pins Cody to end the match (I’m not even sure how, it was pretty unremarkable). Damien tries to attack Truth but gets beaten himself and leaves the ring. R-Truth beat Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes essentially by himself. Just weird.
Gimmick match time as Team Hell No take on the Prime Time Players (remember them?). Bryan feels around and finds Kane, ordering him to leave the ring. He starts off against Titus O’Neil and rolls around the ring. He then tries to put the NO Lock on the ref before feeling the patch and hair, confirming that it’s the ref. Titus then leads Bryan around with his whistle before taking him down. O’Neil goes to hit an elbow drop but Kane yells at Bryan to move, which he does, and Titus misses. Outside the ring, Kane tries to help Daniel but Bryan hits him instead thinking he’s one of the PTP. Back in the ring Bryan finally tags in Kane who cleans house with one arm tied behind his back. Kane choke slams Young to win the match while Bryan jumps around, still tripping over things with the blindfold on. Only word to describe it is “interesting.”
Shield out to cut a promo. They talk about how dangerous they are and how things are going to get worse until justice is served or something. They call out the locker room, saying they can keep putting together super teams and they will keep beating them. Rollins asks who else there is to fight them when Sheamus comes out to challenge them from the stage. Ambrose and Reigns head toward him as Orton sneaks up from behind on Rollins and hits him with an RKO. He then leaves through the crowd as Seth and Roman tend to their fallen friend. The picture for the Shield at WrestleMania is starting to take shape. Will they end up in another three on three match? So far Sheamus and Orton seem to be paired up. Will Ryback join them?
I was wrong about Miz and Swagger. They won’t meet next week because they are facing each other right now. Miz tosses Swagger out of the ring and dropkicks him back out when he tries to enter. Jack catches Miz attempting a double axe handle and slams him onto the outside floor. Back in the ring, Swagger is just about dominating. He his moving fast and showing lots of power on running knees in the corner. Miz tries to come back but Swagger answers with a big clothesline to drop him again. Swaggerbomb gets a two count and starts working on Miz’s arm. Miz hits a neck breaker to fight back but again gets caught moving in, getting slammed down by Swagger. It’s a lot like the Ryback/Ziggler match without the outside interference. Miz finally gains some momentum, hitting the running clothesline in the corner and the top rope double axe handle for a two count. After nearly rolling Swagger up, Miz gets his leg caught in the second rope (the most dangerous rope) and Jack takes advantage. He injures Miz’s ankle before securing the ankle lock and getting the win via submission. Very good performance from Swagger. He looked as formidable as he ever has. I wonder if he’s sober now.
Between segments Triple H showed up on TOUT, saying “the asskicker’s back.” Is that a new nickname?
Backstage Josh Matthews is interviewing John Cena who promotes his match against CM Punk. That’s all he’s doing. He’s recapping last week’s Raw. He says he challenged Punk to prove that he is back and his time is now and blah blah blah. In more important news the Undertaker made an appearance over the weekend at a house show. That has to mean something right? It was TOUTed so it must be important! By the way, did you know the WWE put five million dollars into TOUT?
Main event time as John Cena puts his WWE Championship title shot on the line against CM Punk. Punk comes out first looking like a psycho. Crowd is very much pro Cena early on. They start off slow with some back and forth mat wrestling, setting the tone. Like his matches against Rock, Punk starts gaining control with a slow and steady offense. Elbows to the neck and holds keeping him on the ground. Punk locks his legs around Cena but John power Punk up into an electric chair drop and lands a bulldog to take the momentum. He then slows the pace again, holding Punk down until Punk sends Cena into the ropes and hits him with a leaping kick. More clenching. Just as I’m about to get bored, Cena starts to go into the five moves of doom but Punk ducks down on the second shoulder tackle, sending him out of the ring. Nice counter. Punk dives through the ropes to hit Cena outside of the ring. Back inside, Cena went for the Attitude Adjustment but Punk turned it into a DDT. Cena then went for the five moves of doom again, but Punk turned the side slam into the anaconda vice in the middle of the ring. Cena pushed Punk onto his shoulders in a pin attempt to get Punk to break the hold, only for Punk to hit a swinging neck breaker for a two count. Punk calls for the GTS but Cena grabs his leg to go for an STF. Punk quickly scrambles to the rope however, avoiding the hold. This match has definitely picked up from the opening sequences. Punk hits a springboard clothesline for another two count. He tries it again but Cena moves away and locks in the STF in the middle of the ring. Punk escapes it however and applies the anaconda vice again. The crowd is getting more behind Punk as Cena counters into what looks like the cross face chicken wing. Punk leverages Cena over in a pin attempt to break the hold. Fantastic spot. They start trading blows in the middle of the ring and Cena starts to get the edge but Punk slows him down with a kick to the stomach. John ducks under a roundhouse kick through and hits the side slam, but Punk kicks him in the head when he tries to tell Punk that he can not see him. Punk goes for a GTS but Cena wiggled out. It looked like he was supposed to roll Punk up but he messed up in the middle of it and Punk had to cover instead, getting a two count. A little awkward but it worked in the end. Punk hits a running knee in the corner but Cena blocks the bulldog, hits the side slam and finally hits the five knuckle shuffle (it’s really bad that he has to keep trying to hit the same damn move). Cena goes for the AA but Punk wiggles put and goes for a GTS only for Cena to escape and hit a power bomb (don’t see that very often) for a very close two count. It’s was actually more like a Batista Bomb. Cena goes to the top rope but Punk gets up and knocks John onto the turnbuckle. Punk looked for a superplex but Cena fought him back down, hitting the top rope leg drop to the back of the head for another two count. This is a PPV level match here. Punk knocks Cena into the corner with a roundhouse kick and hits the high knee but Cena comes back with an AA but Punk kicks out on two. Cena is now shaking his head in disbelief. Outside the ring Cena goes to get Punk but Punk hurls him into the ring post, and John needs an eight count to get back in. Punk then hits a GTS but now it’s Cena kicking out at two. Punk tries to hit it again but Cena counters it and applies the STF. After a while Punk makes his move and crawls to the rope to break the hold. Now you know how piledrivers are outlawed now in WWE (except the Undertaker of course)? Well forget it. Punk just pulled a perfect one out of nowhere for a huge pop but only a two count. In disbelief, Punk keeps trying to cover Cena but he keeps kicking out on two. Punk goes to the top rope but Cena rolls away from the flying elbow. Cena then hits a weird hurricarana and an AA, pinning Punk and winning the match. Excellent match but I have to ask why Cena had to use a hurricarana? It also gave me a similar vibe to Cena’s matches against Ziggler, where Ziggler looked so much better and hit Cena with everything he had, with John Cena winning only because he is John Cena. This match was much better though but still.
So now Rock and John Cena for the WWE Championship is officially official again and will headline WrestleMania. More interesting is the fact that Jack Swagger is not facing any repercussions after his arrest and will still face Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship match nobody asked for. Even more interesting than that is the Undertaker popping up on a house show over the weekend, which now makes it almost a guarantee that he will face CM “I am god” Punk. Lesnar versus Triple H is also going to happen but we knew that already.
The only other question I have right now is who will join Sheamus and Orton against the Shield? Does Ryback get a fourth shot? Does a legend step up to take a stand? Whoever it is, I think it would be best if Orton ends up behind the Shield, screwing his teammates out of a victory. He can cry “injustice” after the way he has been mid-carded over the last year or so, it makes the Shield seem that much more unstoppable and it can start a program with Sheamus. I still think Ryback would do best against Big Show, but he’s still obsessed with the Shield so it’s not out of the question. The rumored match against Jericho could work too. More to go down next week as we go further down the road to WrestleMania.
Somehow we made it through Elimination Chamber and we are now 7 weeks away from WrestleMania. The one thing Sunday night did do is confirm some matches for wrestling’s show of shows. The Rock versus Cena is set, as is Jack Swagger versus Alberto Del Rio by some weird shift in the space/time continuum. Lesnar versus Triple H seems like a forgone conclusion but from there, everyone else is in flux.
CM Punk was locked in to face the Undertaker but what if the Dead Man doesn’t show? Is it as simple as just putting Punk in the WWE Championship match and making it a triple threat? Sheamus, Ryback, Orton and the Big Show don’t really have anything going on right now. Jericho and Ziggler have heat, as do Barrett and Bo Dallas. Kane and Bryan keep heading down splitsville but they are also still the tag team champs. What does the Shield do now? I can speculate on a card (and I just might if we don’t get answers tonight) but there are too many variables to be too sure about anything. Considering the matches we are currently confirming we have two rematches and Jack Swagger. Undertaker better be able to go.
Tonight’s Raw is promoting a championship celebration by the Rock. He had one of these last month when he won it. What is he celebrating? Not losing it? If he’s going to be around I think he needs to actually perform more. Even if they are squash matches. First off, he needs to get in ring shape. He wasn’t that great in the two matches against Punk. The burst of energy just wasn’t there. The Cena match was good but that was a year ago. He essentially hasn’t had a great match in nine years. Second, young viewers are only seeing the Rock for the first time now. They are basing their opinions of him not on the Attitude Era, but on the four matches he was in over the last two years. He still needs to show the young audience that he belongs. None of that will happen though, so let’s move on.
John Cena greets the crowd to open the show and doesn’t look like he could care less about losing to the Shield last night. He promotes WresteMania and talks about how Swags will face Rio and he will challenge the Rock for the WWE Championship. Punk’s music hits and he comes out with Paul Heyman interrupt. He tells Cena that facing the Rock is taking the easy way out. Punk tells the crowd that the Rock beat him fair and square if you don’t count the fact that Punk had Rock pinned in the middle of the ring with no ref and technically hit a ref. Punk then throws out the fact that Cena never beat him. Punk says that Cena winning the Rumble is a case of luck helping him win a gimmick match and he already faced Rock at WrestleMania last year. Punk says he deserves to be in the main event instead and tells Cena to walk away. Naturally, Cena says no, he will not hand over his title shot. Cena admits that he hasn’t beaten Punk or the Rock, and decides to challenge Punk to match right now, with Cena’s title shot on the line. Punk and Heyman huddle up and Punk accepts the challenge but decides he wants to do it next week instead. Cena promotes the match that just got promoted in front of our face and next week’s Raw already sounds better than this week’s.
Backstage Josh Matthews is interviewing Sheamus while Ryback paces around like a dope. Sheamus stops him and tries to get him to keep his composure. In doing so he calls Ryback a mindless neanderthal (not good advice) and they are about to fight. Chris Jericho jumps in and breaks it up, saying they need to stay together if they are going to beat them. He says they are more dangerous than the NWO and Nexus and all those guys. He says that tonight is the night to start fight back, and that he is going to talk to Vickie about putting them in a match against the Shield tonight. Again, it’s very interesting how John Cena just doesn’t care about losing to the Shield after he made such a big deal about it over the last couple weeks.
The first match of the night has Sin Cara fed to Mark Henry. Cara kicks him in the leg a few times and it looks like a kick trying to get his dad’s attention. Henry then tosses him around the ring. Sin Cara hits a spinning kick by the ropes, but when he tries it again Mark catches him and throws him down. World’s Strongest Slam and Sin Cara is done. After the match, Henry is about to hit Sin Cara with another WSS but Khali comes out to assist. Henry doesn’t even put Sin Cara down until the Khali was about to get in the ring. When he does, Henry leaves the ring saying he’s had enough of Khali already (so have we). He then mocks Khali’s dancing, saying that if he wants to dance he’ll “get a date.” Pretty good line. That’s the point Sin Cara is at right now. He gets beat up and Khali comes to help. Not a good situation.
Vickie confirmed the Shield match against Sheamus, Jericho and Ryback before the Miz goes against United States Champion Antonio Cesaro in a non-title, no-DQ match. I guess Guerrero really is a face now. In other news, I don’t care. Cesaro won via DQ last night because he got Miz to accidentally hit him in the crotch. That’s a man who wants to keep his title an any cost. Why didn’t Punk think of that? As long as I’m rambling, are we supposed to take Fandango seriously? The match starts off fast and strong with Miz jumping Antonio and clotheslining him out of the ring. Miz then lands a double axe handle from the top rope outside the ring but Cesaro hurls Miz into the barrier by his bad shoulder, then driving the shoulder into the ring post. Cesaro then gets out the weaponry, including chairs and a kendo stick (best weapon in the business). Cesaro starts using all the weapons on Miz’s shoulder but can’t get a cover. It’s an extreme version of last night’s match. Miz almost botch a spot coming out of his back breaker, but recovered and Cesaro sent him into a steel chair. He moves as Antonio comes running in, and Cesaro injured his knee. Miz toe dragged Cesaro’s jaw into another chair, applied the figure four (correctly this time) and won the match via submission. Kinda surprised by the result but a solid match overall. Right now it looks like these two will meet yet again at WrestleMania.
Meanwhile Zeb Coulter has internet hate videos on YouTube with Jack Swagger standing behind him with a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. It’s all about sending immigrants out of the country and all the stuff he has been yapping about the last couple weeks. Not sure how much more of this gimmick I can tolerate. It’s going to get weird as people will be asked to go against America. Some people won’t, and other people will just flat out think Zeb is right. I just don’t think it’s a good idea.
Backstage, Kane and Bryan are arguing about what how they fought at Elimination Chamber. Bryan requested a singles match and will face Swagger. He also doesn’t want Kane coming out with him. Kane says he’ll ask for the same, and says that he hates snakes. Randy Orton popped in with snakes being mentioned, and after Kane got in his face, Orton said he was a lot more intimidating before he started doing group therapy sessions, and he’s more like Barney the Dinosaur (who he definitely doesn’t hate). I guess they’ll face each other tonight.
Meanwhile Vickie Guerrero is rubbing in Punk’s loss in Heyman’s face. Vickie says she has a surprise for Heyman and will announce it in the ring later. Paul is in a pissy mood about the whole thing.
Dolph Ziggler next in the ring to take on World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. To say the crowd didn’t pop for Del Rio is a massive understatement. In a perfect world, Ziggler gets DQ’d by hitting Alberto with a foreign object, then immediately cashes in the briefcase to take the title. At least that’s what I’d do. Instead we get a real match. Dolph hits a standing dropkick early but Del Rio comes back with a side kick. Alberto tosses Ziggler over the top rope onto the apron, hitting an enziguri to send him down to the arena floor. Great start. Back in the ring Dolph is in control as he hits another dropkick. He then distracts the ref so that Langston can sneak in a blow to the head. Dolph then hits the fame-asser but still can’t finish him off. Ziggler then goes to the top rope when Del Rio knocks him down, catching his cojones on the turnbuckle. Alberto then hits an enziguri into Ziggler’s ass, and follows it up with a side suplex from the top rope. From there Del Rio gets his momentum going, hitting a swinging back breaker and a sidekick to the face for a two count. It’s funny how guys like him and Barrett use the side kick but can’t reach high enough so they just do it while the opponent is on his knees. Del Rio went for the cross armbreaker but Dolph wiggled out and hit a neck breaker. Time to wrap it up. With the ref distracted, Big E went to the apron but Del Rio took his legs out and dropped him to the mat. Ziggler moved in to hit a DDT but Del Rio countered with a cross armbreaker and won the match. After the bell, Big E came in and beat the crap out of Del Rio. Ziggler realizes that he’s down and gets the MITB briefcase (it’s going to happen!) but Ricardo grabs it and runs off (ah crap!). Langston runs after him and gets it back to Ziggler, but Alberto got up and lands another enziguri to knock Dolph out before he can cash in. Very good match but COME ON MAN!
Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett in the ring next to promote his appearance in the upcoming movie “Dead Man Down.” They even show the trailer. So this is what he was doing when he wasn’t appearing in last night’s PPV. I’m not sure I actually saw him in the clip. Sheamus jumps on the titantron to inform us that his good friend Colin Ferrell (they are friends because they are Irish) is the star of the movie. Barrett is pissed because his moment is ruined.
Further ruining the moment, Brodus Clay and Tensai (Tensai wearing one of Brodus’ hats) come out, but their entry dance is cut off by Epico and Primo’s music. They are in a six-person mixed tag match, with Naomi and Rosa representing each team. Naomi gets the jump on Rosa, then lands a hurricarrana on Epico. Tensai hits a head butt, Brodus hits a splash and team Fat Dancers wins in a squash. I like that the tag team division keeps getting infused with new teams, but the only ones that ever get air time are the ridiculous ones. Gimme the Usos versus Kidd and Gabriel. I bet you’ll be more entertained.
Jack Swagger and Zeb Coulter to give their State of the Union while Del Rio watches backstage. Once again I will sum up the entire segment here. Coulter: “Jack Swagger is a true patriot and American. Alberto Del Rio is foreign and bad. Swagger will win and reclaim American. WE THE PEOPLE.” Imagine that going for ten minutes. Anyway after they wrap it up, Daniel Bryan comes out for his match against Swagger. With Jack starting to grow a beard and letting his hair get longer, Bryan kind of looks like a future Swagger. They went to commercial and when they came back the match already started. WTF! After going back and forth for a bit, Bryan tries to apply the Mexican surfboard (I wonder if Coulter took offense to it) but Swagger powered out. Outside the ring, Swagger drives Bryan into the barricade and takes over from there. A two handed toss over Jack’s head and a running knee in the corner tilt the match further. Swaggerbomb hits for a two count and Jack is in full control. Bryan sticks an elbow out on Swagger running into the corner and mounts some offense. After the backflip off the top rope, Daniel hits a jumping elbow and lowers the rope to get Jack out of the ring. Bryan then jumps through the ropes into Swagger and brings him back in where he hits a dropkick from the top rope for a two count. On comes the kick barrage from Bryan. Swagger catches the final kick though and hits a spine buster. With both men down Bryan applies the NO Lock but Swagger reaches the ropes. Daniel then misses on the jumping kick in the corner, injuring his leg. Jack takes immediate advantage, taking out Bryan’s leg. After Zeb is heard saying that “the knee’s gone,” Swagger applies the Patriot Act ankle lock and Bryan taps out. Strong match, but that’s usually what happens when Bryan cuts off the schtick. In ring work was never Swagger’s flaw either. Not into Coulter, but a manager is always a positive for him.
Vickie Guerrero and Paul Heyman in the ring now for the “huge announcement.” Vickie may make face decisions now, but she still yells “Excuse ME” so she gets booed. Vickie announces the assistant to the managing supervisor, and its Brad Maddox. Brad comes out and says it is a reward for exposing the truth about Heyman and the Shield. Heyman says he doesn’t care about either of them and starts to walk out. That’s when Vince McMahon gets on the screen via satellite. He says that Maddox’s promotion is not Heyman’s surprise. They go back to last week, where Heyman said he would do “anything” for the count out/DQ stipulation to be added to the Elimination Chamber match. McMahon decides that firing Paul is too good for him, and decides that next week Vince (fresh off his hip surgery) will walk into the ring with Heyman, and they will fight. The crowd immediately groans and you hear one guy say, “you gotta be kidding me.” I couldn’t agree more. Is this the only way to get Lesnar and Triple H together? Lesnar comes out for Paul and Triple H saves Vince? Very poor job here.
Hour three kicks off with Chris Jericho, Sheamus and Ryback against the Shield. The idea has popped up that Jericho is behind the Shield, which would be an interesting twist but wouldn’t really make any sense considering they spent the last few months beating on people he isn’t interested in. It would give reason for a Ryback/Jericho match at WrestleMania which was rumored at one point. Did someone have to inform the Shield that they were booked to a match? Did they have to sign up? They aren’t backstage so how would they know to even come out? They are kind of like Batman, just showing up whenever their music goes on.
Ryback starts off against Seth Rollins and spears him in the abdomen about 300 times before Jericho pulls him away. We then get the real start of the match when Jericho takes on Dean Ambrose. Jericho hits a second rope dropkick and tags in Sheamus but as soon as Sheamus gets tagged in Dean runs to his corner and tags Roman Reigns. They trade blows and both get their moves in before Sheamus gains control and hits White Noise. He calls for the Brogue Kick but Rollins pulls Reigns out of the ring. Sheamus then decides to hit Ambrose will the Brogue Kick while he’s standing idly on the apron. Back from break the Shield is controlling the match with Sheamus in the ring. They run the dual running dropkick spot which looks awesome whenever I see it. Sheamus finally makes it to his corner and gets Ryback on a hot tag. He destroys the Shield and hits Rollins with a meathook. He gets him up for Shellshocked when Jericho grabs the ref, giving Reigns the opening to spear Ryback (maybe he is in charge). Ryback is now stuck being controlled by the Shield. Cole was just talking about how the Shield hasn’t been breaking any rules in their mathes when Ryback ducks under Reigns in the corner, giving him the opening to get Jericho in on a hot tag. He brings down Ambrose in the ring, hits Rollins with a springboard dropkick and hits the lionsault for a two count. Reigns and Ryback fight outside as Jericho applies the lion tamer on Ambrose. Sheamus runs in to stop Reigns from breaking it up, but Rollins hits a springboard knee to Jericho’s head. Dean then covers the knocked out Jericho to get the pin and win another match for the Shield. A springboard knee to the head wins it on a guy who was barely in the ring? Weird finish, but regardless the Shield is really being built up as a force and had another really strong performance. Ryback is probably on the verge of snapping and Jericho has barely won since he came back. Sheamus is just being Sheamus up in here.
Kofi Kingston gets to follow that match against Damien Sandow. Sandow informs us that several members of his family advised past presidents, and had a great part in creating the new deal. Damien then proposes a “new deal” to the audience, that they stay quiet during his match. Sandow doesn’t even let the bell ring before he attacks Kofi, beating him down and throwing him into the ring post and out of the ring. He continues to beat up Kingston when R-Truth comes out for the assist. He runs in all suited up, hits a running kick, a leaping scissor kick and clotheslines Sandow out of the ring. So at the end of all that, we can officially say that R-Truth and Lil Jimmy are back in our lives. Hopefully he sticks to Saturday Morning Slam.
Because seeing them at Elimination Chamber wasn’t enough, the cast members of the GI Joe movie are at Raw as well. They have a trailer too! That’s two trailers shown during the broadcast. They are catching up with he number of matches.
Time for Kane and Randy Orton to settle their differences. Last year this exact match mid carded WrestleMania. Now it is a mid card on Raw. Kane hits a shoulder block early but sells a shoulder injury from last night. Orton starts working the shoulder. Orton brings him to the corner and pummels the shoulder while sitting on the top rope until Kane manages to knock him off the turnbuckle to the outside of the ring. Somehow Kane continues to control the action in the ring despite the shoulder injury. Oh wait, he just decided to stop selling it. Randy starts to fight back but Kane hits a DDT for a two count. Orton then dodges Kane in the corner and starts to gain momentum with a dropkick. Randy then hits a powerslam but Kane answers with a sidewalk slam. Orton then ducks away from Kane leaping from the top rope but can’t land the second rope DDT. Kane sets up for the chokeslam but Daniel Bryan comes out. Kane turns to tell him to leave and Orton hits the distracted Kane with an RKO and wins the match. The solid match ends with Bryan looking peeved as he goes back up the ramp. I’d say the plot thickens but it’s been going in the same direction for weeks now. At this point I’m just waiting for something different.
The Rock’s celebration closes the show of course, and it starts with a marching band that helps perform Rock’s theme so that he can make his grand entrance. Why am I supposed to be excited for the Rock to be on a show when he doesn’t actually do anything? It’s all window dressing. It’s one thing if you come by once in a while, but he’s the WWE Champion and he has been on too much recently for this to mean anything. Okay I might have to eat my words. He says that he’ll be going to WrestleMania as WWE Champion, but he won’t be going with the current belt. He says that the spinner belt Cena came out with 8 years ago is not good enough to represent the company, and finally unveils a brand new WWE Championship belt. To a drum roll he unveils the new belt, and I have to say, I might hate it even more. It has a Rock logo on each side and a giant WWE logo on the front. What else can I say. It sucks. Was the old style winged eagle version that bad? It just doesn’t have any shine to it. Anyway, Rock starts to talk about his WrestleMania match and how he’d rather face Cena (or at least he was alluding to it) when Cena comes out to interrupt. He looked like he was going to go down the ramp when Punk sneaks up from behind and knocks him out with the old belt. He then throws the old belt down like a piece of garbage, points at Rock and says “I want that one.” Punk then walks out to massive boos and that’s how the show ends. What a bunch of crap.
In hindsight, I can see the potential in it. If it turns into a gimmick where instead of a nameplate, the holder of the belt’s logo is printed on it then I hate it. If they just replace it with some kind of global design when Rock drops it then we’re on the right track. Also, just having the WWE logo front and center with nothing behind it makes it looks too plain. If you put a gold plate behind it instead of exposed black leather it might make a big difference. I do love that it actually says “champion” instead of champ. The letters and logo are just all too big. It’s like those large font birthday cards you give to the elderly.
So after all the talk about a new belt, I end up wishing the old one was still around. Punk is planting the seeds for a triple threat WWE Championship match and it’s looking less likely that the Undertaker will show up. It’s a very rough start to promoting WrestleMania as next week’s Raw main event looks better than anything on the current card.
Heading into Elimination Chamber there are some things I know will happen and other things I think I know will happen.
I know that the Rock is beating CM Punk. The only question is how. The count out/DQ stipulation has to play in somehow, but it also needs to blow up in Punk’s face. A split in the Punk/Heyman union is imminent after their man hug on Raw, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be now. A Punk match hasn’t finished clean in months, so we can expect something off the wall to happen here as well. A rumored triple threat match throwing Punk in the main event at WrestleMania with Rock and Cena is the only hope of him somehow reclaiming the title. That would mean the Undertaker won’t be around to face Punk and either way I don’t see it happening.
Meanwhile, I think I know that Dolph Ziggler is finally cashing in his MITB briefcase to become the World Heavyweight Champion. He’s held on to the thing forever and hasn’t even made an attempt at cashing in since the night after TLC. Throw in the fact that he is not booked for a match and it all makes perfect sense. Del Rio wins but Big Show knocks him out, giving Dolph the opening to steal the belt away. That takes us into WrestleMania with Ziggler as champion to face the winner of the lone Elimination Chamber match, which I think I know will be Chris Jericho but am still holding out hope for Daniel Bryan.
Now enough of what I know, let’s see what actually happens.
After an intro that made good use of the Rock’s screen time in the GI Joe movie, Elimination Chamber kicks off with the World Heavyweight Championship match between Alberto Del Rio and the Big Show. Del Rio comes out with red tights and a red scarf, somehow making himself more mexican in the process. You can guess the start of the match. Big Show goes on the attack, dominating Del Rio with chops and boots and such. Del Rio ducks under a big boot and brings Show to the floor to gain some momentum. He hit an enziguri for a two count and then had the cross arm breaker broken up by Big Show, who connected on a spear to regain control. Show hit a splash from the second rope, but Del Rio kicked out on two and applied the cross arm breaker. Show eventually made it to the rope (despite Ricardo trying to pull it away from him) and got Alberto in a bear hug. Big Show then looked like he was going to try a power bomb (which he never does so you know it won’t work) but Del Rio turned it into a hurricarrana. Alberto then leapt through the ropes into Show outside the ring, but Show got back in on the 8 count. Following a seated senton by Alberto, Big Show hit a chokeslam for a two count. Show teased the KO Punch but Del Rio escaped the ring. Big Show pulled Del Rio back in by his head but Alberto turned a second chokeslam attempt into a DDT and a two count. A lot is going on in this match but it isn’t quite hitting with the crowd. After an enziguri in the corner, Del Rio locked in the arm breaker again. Big Show powered out of it by picking up Del Rio and slamming him down. Show was setting up to use the KO Punch, but instead he hit Ricardo with a boot and took his spit bucket. Show held it by his head looking at Ricardo when the botch of the night happened. Del Rio went to kick the bucket into Show’s head but completely whiffed. Show then had to hold still so that Alberto can get up and do it again. With Show dazed, Del Rio hit him with a few more kicks to the head and applied the cross arm breaker, causing Big Show to finally tap out and end a match that will be remembered more for a huge botch. Bad start to the PPV, especially since Dolph Ziggler had nothing to do with it. I’m very disappointed.
United States Championship up next (after another GI Joe plug of course) putting Antonio Cesaro against the Miz. They start off trading blows, with Miz trying a couple of roll up attempts before Cesaro started working Miz’s injured shoulder. This featured a great spot where Antonio caught Miz trying to leap over him, turning it into a shoulder breaker. Miz would try to come back occasionally only for Cesaro to go back to the shoulder each time. Cesaro made sure to show off his strength some more, lifting Miz straight up with one arm out of an arm bar. He then made the most blatant botch of his WWE career so far when he tried to jump on Miz’s shoulder but completely missed (that’s 1 botch per match). Miz finally ducked under an elbow to hit a high boot and gain momentum. He went to the top rope for a double axe handle but Cesaro caught it and applied an arm lock. It looked like Miz might tap but instead he reversed the hold into another roll up pin attempt. Cesaro kicked out on two and headed out of the ring. Miz went after him and Antonio looked to throw him into the steel steps, but Miz reversed it and Cesaro injured his knee. Now the field is leveled. Miz starts working the knee and went for the figure four leglock, but Cesaro took Miz’s leg out from under him, forcing Miz’s knee into Cesaro’s crotch. Cesaro oversells and gets the ref to DQ Miz for a low blow. Crap finish to a mediocre match. That’s 0-2 on the PPV. Miz kicked Cesaro in the crotch on purpose after the match. Funny, I feel like I’ve been kicking in the groin twice so far.
Backstage Kane is ignoring Daniel Bryan because he cost him a match a couple of weeks ago. Bryan asks why Kane is being grumpy, with Kane telling Bryan he looks like one of the Seven Dwarfs (burn!). Bryan convinced Kane to work together during the match and they hugged it out. Elimination Chamber match is next to determine the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. Now that Ziggler didn’t cash in, it completely opens up who can win the match.
Jack Swagger comes out first with Zeb Coulter. I never noticed his new theme until now. They both get in the ring to “shower us with truth.” Swagger lisps his way through promoting Zeb’s words before Coulter talks about how the US is full of illegal immigrants and setting things right and all that nonsense. PPV’s are not the place for promos and this is no different. This is taking up way too much time. At the same time, they are drawing the wrong kind of heat and it’s just not working. Finally the rest of the competitors come out and we can start the match. Daniel Bryan starts off in the ring with Chris Jericho. If these two could just take care of the entire match I’ll sign up every time. They start strong with some old school wrestling. Jericho tries to applies the walls but Bryan turns it into a NO Lock, which Jericho escapes to try the Walls again before Bryan spins out. With the crowd starting to die again, Bryan does a backflip off the top rope and tries to suplex Jericho onto the chamber floor, Jericho blocks it and tries to drop Bryan on it but that gets blocked as well. Chris then flings Daniel into the cage and the crowd has no reaction. I can’t believe how bad this PPV has been so far. Finally someone else gets into the ring and it’s…Jack Swagger. Balls. Swagger, comes in immediately hits Jericho with a Swaggerbomb but only gets a two count. From there Swagger drilled Bryan against the cage, Bryan came off the top rope into Jack and Chris outside the ring. Jericho then moved away from Bryan crashing in with a splash attempt from the top rope. Kane is the next one in and he starts working together with Bryan. Bryan then turns on the distracted Kane and tries to roll him up. Kane kicks out and the two start arguing in the middle of the ring. Kane has had enough and the two go at it. They put on a pretty good show, going back and forth until Jericho steps in and we hit another lull. The destruction of Team Hell No continues. Orton is next in the ring and he starts taking everyone out. After Orton DDTs Kane from the second rope, he superplexed Swagger right before Jericho superplexed Bryan. With everyone down Mark Henry steps in at the perfect time. He just pushes everyone around before hitting Bryan with the World’s Strongest Slam and eliminating him. Henry then went over to Orton and threw him through the chamber glass. He is single handedly saving this PPV. Kane then starts trading blows with him. Henry then catches Kane going off the top rope and hits the WSS, taking out the other half of Team Hell No. Jericho and Swagger then decide to work together, combining to suplex Henry onto the chamber floor. Big pop. With Henry down, Jericho and Swagger go at it. Swagger escapes the Walls but Jericho counters with a running bulldog. Jericho then went for the lionsault but Henry got up and caught him by the throat, throwing him into the wall. Mark then threw Chris into Swagger and attempted a second rope splash on the two of them but both men turned away. Jericho then hit Henry with a codebreaker, with Orton coming out of his coma to hit him with an RKO. Orton pins Henry to eliminate him, an Henry does not leave happy. Instead, he runs back into the chamber and hits the remaining three competitors (Jericho, Orton and Swagger) with WSS’. It’s not until Booker T and Once the remaining guys get up, Orton and Jericho team up on Swagger, throwing him into the corner of the chamber. With him down, Orton and Jericho face off. Chris when for an attack off the top rope but Randy met him with dropkick. Orton then hit both Swagger and Jericho with powerslams. Orton set up Jack for the second tope DDT but Jericho hit him with a springboard dropkick. Swagger then blocked the codebreaker into a powerbomb and had Orton in an ankle lock until Chris broke the hold. Swagger then put Jericho in the ankle lock but Chris reversed it into a lion tamer. He looked like he might take out but Orton broke it up. Why these holds keep getting broken up is anyone’s guess. Randy hit both Jericho and Swagger with the second rope DDT at the same time. Jericho then escaped the RKO but Orton blocked the lionsault and finally hit the RKO to eliminate Jericho in epic fashion. The cheering was short lived however as Jack Swagger snuck up and immediately rolled up Randy Orton to get the pin and become the number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship. Slow start but a hell of a finish, regardless of what you think of the result. Orton and Jericho really stepped up at the end. So now we have Alberto Del Rio, the Mexican aristocrat, defending his title again Jack Swagger and his anti foreigner gimmick. Like it or not, the WWE always has a plan. Swagger performed fine here, but I just can’t imagine him putting on a better show than the other men in the match, and this is booked as a top match at WrestleMania. Add on the good old boy rants and I’m not a fan.
Time for the first main event as the Shield takes on the Superface team of John Cena, Sheamus and Ryback. The Shield comes out second and brawling immediately starts. In the middle of the ring the three faces simultaneously hit stand up suplexes on members of the Shield. It’s like the elephants at the circus raising their trunks. Once the match actually starts, Sheamus and Ambrose lead off. Sheamus starts hitting Dean in the chest, stopping to remove his protective vest to do some real damage. Roman Reigns gets tagged it and gets the momentum back for the Shield. Sheamus jumps out of the corner with a Brogue Kick and makes it to Cena who does all his Cena stuff. He locks in the STF but it gets broken up. With the ref distracted, Rollins hit John with a springboard knee to the head and the Shield start controlling things again. So far the match is each face getting his shots in on his own, getting hit back with the Shield teams up until the next face comes in. Cena takes the butt of the beatings, with highlight in a spot where Rollins jumped off Ambrose’s back to hit Cena in the corner, immediately throwing him into Reigns who hits him with a power clothesline. Cena finally gets out of a lengthy sleeper hold but Reigns again knocks him down before he can reach his corner. After Ambrose hit him with a big leg sweep DDT, Cena chucked him over the top rope and finally made it to Ryback who starts tearing them apart. Reigns steps in to stop Ryback from hitting the meathook and action goes outside. Roman Reigns spears Sheamus through the barrier (almost hitting Lillian Garcia!) to take him out. Cena and Ryback put up Ambrose and Rollins respectively, but after Cena hits the AA Reigns spears Ryback, with Reigns falling on him to get the pin and win the match for the Shield. Another surprise finish in what is the clear match of the night. I wasn’t sure how it would go and it surpassed all of my expectations. Ryback, who was pinned in the middle of the ring cleanly for the first time, stormed off in a hissy fit while Cena was trying to figure out what happened. Very curious what happens with Ryback going forward. Both he and Sheamus currently have very little going on going toward WrestleMania.
My boy Dolph Ziggler, fresh off not doing anything tonight, is out to complain about how he isn’t booked, and that Jack Swagger ended up winning the Elimination Chamber match. After ranting for a while, Booker T comes out to say he is wasting his time. Booker says there is someone who can do everything he can do and more, Kofi Kingston. So now they are going to have a match because why not. Kofi pulls off a monkey flip early that Ziggler does a full flip on. Ziggler hits the standing dropkick and we’re on even footing. After a strong rope sequence Dolph applies the sleeper hold. Kofi escapes by tossing him over the top rope. Kingston then tries to leap at Ziggler but hits Langston instead. Back in the ring, Ziggler almost hit AJ, giving Kofi the opening to hit the distracted Ziggler with Trouble in Paradise. Kingston takes too long to cover and Ziggler gets out of the ring. Ziggler made a big counter”by hurling Kofi into the ring post, hitting the Zig Zag to secure the win. Perfectly normal match. Afterwards, Big E jumped in (probably pissed at being touched by Kofi) and smacked Kingston around for a while. He finally landed his finisher off they went. This replaced the Diva’s Championship match and did a good job with the change.
Backstage, Brodus Clay is playing with toys when Tensai comes in asking where his toy is. Brodus says they couldn’t get the scribble on his face, which Tensai says is probably a sushi menu (rare self burn). A dance party starts and more of my life is wasted. They beat Team Rhodes Scholars in their long awaited reunion match during the YouTube show.
If the crowd wasn’t dead enough already, they are doing the Kaitlyn/Tamina Diva’s match after all. With all the other Diva’s watching, the match is basically a shoving contest. Kaitlyn occasionally attempts a roll up and Tamina pulls off a power move. Tamina missed the Snuka splash and Kaitlyn came back with a spear to retain the title.
With all the filler out of the way we’re finally ready for the main event, as the Rock defends his WWE Championship against CM Punk, who stole the belt last week. Let’s not forget the stipulation where Rock loses the belt if he is counted out or DQ’d. Punk comes out first with Paul Heyman holding the WWE Championship. He then holds it over his head and makes the announcer refer to him as the champ. It would have been a nice touch if he changed the nameplate as well but it’s still pretty damn good. They really milk the start. The circle around the mat, Punk delivers a shoulder block and repeat. Twice. Rock then hits a couple of arm drags and Punk escapes the ring before anything else can happen. I feel like they are trying to protect the Rock after his conditioning was questioned the last time. They are just stretching things out. They start jawing again in the middle of the ring when Punk slaps Rock, causing Rock to lose his tempter and start attacking Punk. Punk tries to lead him on and get Rock DQ’d. He even spits in Rock’s face. The story of the match is now established. Rock starts smacking punk around outside the ring, but once they get back inside it’s all Punk. Much like the first meeting, Punk controls the pace, keeping Rock down with holds. Again like the last time, every time Rock mounts some offense Punk knocks him back down with a leaping kick or something of the sort. I have to say, it’s getting pretty boring. Punk hits the high knee in the corner and the flying elbow for a two count. Punk takes Rock outside the ring and dismantles the spanish announce table. Rock fights back though brings them back inside. Punk escapes a Rock Bottom and lands a high kick, but again only gets a two count. Back outside the ring, Punk hits Rock with a Rock Bottom on the spanish announce table (which doesn’t break. they just can’t get that spot right!). Punk then jumps back in the ring so the ref can start a ten count. Of course Rock gets in on nine and we continue. Rock hits a samoan drop and the two start trading blows. It’s like the match took twenty minutes to start. Rock hits a DDT and preps for the Rock Bottom. Punk elbows him down and goes for a springboard clothesline, but Rock catches him and hits the Rock Bottom. Punk kicks out on two though and we continue (Heyman was very vocal in telling Punk he kicked out. With Rock coming off the ropes he hit the ref, who was arguing with Heyman, knocking out the ref. Punk then hit the GTS but there is nobody to count. Punk then calls for another ref to come in but this time Rock escapes the GTS and hits a People’s Elbow. The new ref injures his ankle as Punk knocks out Rock with a high kick. With no officials, Heyman gives Punk the title and Paul holds Rock up. Punk goes to hit Rock but hits Heyman instead. Rock then hits Punk with a Rock Bottom, the original ref comes in and the Rock wins via pinfall to retain the title. Strong second half to an incredibly slow starting match.
So the table is now set for WrestleMania. Jack Swagger will face Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship in a match nobody expected to see, and the Rock will defend the WWE Championship against John Cena in a match everyone expected to see. The only question is what CM Punk will do. Will he go against the Undertaker? Will he join Cena and Rock in a triple threat match? Something has to be announced soon.
Also, when in the holy hell is Dolph Ziggler going to cash in the stupid Money in the Bank briefcase? WrestleMania I hope.
In all the hoopla about the absence of the WWE Championship, the return of Mark Henry and the excellent Punk/Jericho match I made one huge oversight.
Where in the bleach blonde hell was Dolph Ziggler?
I didn’t even realize until after I had posted last week’s recap that the resident show off and my current man crush was a no show on Raw. That also meant no AJ and, gasp, no Big E Langston. The word was that they didn’t have any key story to push forward involving him so rather than shoehorn him into a loaded show (I use that term loosely) they just kept him off. I can respect the idea to not have people on for the sake of having them on but with Ziggler? Really? We couldn’t have cut five minutes out of the recapping and guys talking about why they should face Punk so that Ziggler can have a quick match against Ryder or Brodus or someone else to make him look like a contender again? He has nothing going on one week before a PPV. Will he end up getting booked against Jericho? Will he stay idle and finally cash in his MITB briefcase? Will he do nothing? And what will AJ be wearing during all this!?
We’ll have to wait a little longer for an answer because tonight’s show starts with Paul Heyman already in the ring. He mentioned earlier (I know how he mentioned it but I won’t say it) that he was planning on making the announcement of a lifetime at the start of the show. He reveals that “tonight is the last night you are ever going to see Paul Heyman.” He says that he is done playing the victim to this business. From spending 7 years sacrificing his life for ECW (BluRay available now) to discovering Brock Lesnar and CM Punk, he now believes that something bad will happen to Punk to pay for Heyman’s sins. Since he doesn’t want to cost Punk from winning the WWE Championship, Paul Heyman is resigning. In what should be part of his Oscar reel, Heyman emotionally describes his affection for Punk and says goodbye. This is almost immediately answered by Punk’s entrance, who tries to talk him out of leaving. Heyman says that since Vince thinks he is behind the Shield, Maddox and Lesnar, and that he won’t let Punk win. Punk says Heyman is too important to him and the fans to leave (Heyman actually got a fairly positive reaction for him). Punk, acting legitimately emotional, says that this Sunday at Elimination Chamber everything will go back to normal as he regains his WWE Championship. After pumping him up, Heyman changes his mind, saying he’ll be in Punk’s corner as he beats the Rock, and the two of them hug it out like no two bros have ever hugged it out before. So essentially nothing happened, but I sure am glad Heyman is sticking around. He’ll be the center point of a Lesnar/Punk feud if/when that eventually happens and it will/should be awesome.
The opening match of the show puts Mark Henry against the Lame Khali. Henry is officially the latest official entrant in the #1 contender Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship. Khali got hit with the World’s Strongest Slam on Smackdown, and I expect the same to happen here. On the way out of the Elimination Chamber match is Rey Mysterio, who (big surprise) was injured last week. Khali got a couple of chops in on Henry before Mark took him down with a clothesline and that’s about it. WSS took ended a match where Mark Henry needed two offensive moves to win. After the match, Hornswaggle came jumped in to tend to Khali, so Mark Henry hit him with a WSS too. Much less impressive. We get it. Henry is a heel. With Mysterio out it leaves 3 more spots for the Chamber match. Unless Kofi steps in, it looks like Bryan has to play the roll of gimmick aerial guy. I’m still holding out hope that he ends up winning it to take on Ziggler (who cashes in the same night) for a World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania. It won’t happen, but I can keep talking about it like it will right?
Backstage Booker and Terry Long are talking about the Elimination Chamber when Chris Jericho puts his name in to be considered for the match. Teddy is immediately sold but that’s not how TV works. After dismissing Teddy’s idea, Booker wants him to prove himself by beating Daniel Bryan. Jericho does a Booker T impression, says he’ll “beat the beard” and runs off. This is gonna be a kick ass match. Meanwhile, Heyman wants Vickie to add a stipulation to the WWE Championship match. Guerrero doesn’t want to change anything without Vince’s approval. Johnny on the spot, McMahon calls Vickie on her cell phone, and gets put on speaker to hear the request. Heyman says that he doesn’t want Rock to try to keep the belt by getting DQ’d or counted out, so he wants the Rock to lose the belt if either of those happen. Curious how that will play out.
Forget that for now though because the Jericho/Bryan match is next. Jericho starts off strong with a couple of roll up attempts and some arm drags. Bryan regained control by very slowly lifting Jericho over the top rope. Back in the ring, Chris went for a springboard dropkick but Daniel ducked away and Jericho went flying back out of the ring. Bryan followed up by diving through the ropes into Jericho by the barricade. By the way, Fandango is being promoted again. From there we got some strong back and forth wrestling. Jericho caught Bryan while attempting a dropkick but couldn’t hit the Walls. Bryan then gets his knees up to block the lionsault and hit a flying headbutt. Jericho then applied the Walls of Jericho, only for Bryan to push him up and reverse it into a NO Lock. Great reversal. Chris wiggled out however and Daniel connected on a kick to the head and a 2 count. Bryan went for it again but Jericho ducked underneath, leading into Bryan getting tagged with a codebreaker to give Jericho the win via pinfall. So Jericho is in after a very good match but that shouldn’t be surprising.
The next match should be squash of the year, as 3MB goes against John Cena, Sheamus and Ryback. Good grief. This is to show how they’ll work as a team leading into their 6 man tag match against the Shield at Elimination Chamber. I’m looking forward to that match just so I can see the individual members of the Shield operate in the ring. On the other hand I’m dreading watching them lose and I fear they will go the way of the Nexus. Slater leads off against Ryback. Lawler said Slater said he sang better than Elvis. Lawler told him he wished he went to the bathroom like Elvis. Assuming Elvis died on the toilet, I’m assuming Lawler told Heath Slater he wished he was dead. The most notable part of the match was Jinder Mahal slapping John Cena in the face. Cena was about to finish things off before the other members of 3MB tried to gang up on Cena. Sheamus and Ryback then jumped in to assist, as all three hit their respective power slams (White Noise, Shell Shocked and the AA) and the match ends with Cena pinning Mahal. After the match each face grabbed the mic to lay a quick one liner about how they’ll beat the Shield, and mixed it with screaming. Shield will address the crowd later in the show, and the babyface trio promises to attack them.
On a taped clip from earlier, backstage Alex Riley and Yoshi Tatsu (remember them?) were making fun of Big Show getting paint dumped on him at the end of Smackdown. Riley called him a big fat traffic cone. Big Show then showed up to hit them both with Knock Out Punches. At least they appeared on TV. Maybe next time they’ll get in the ring, on LIVE TV!
In the ring, Matt Striker is interviewing Big Show. Striker gets two words in before Show knocks him out and takes the mic. So that was cool. Big Show keeps stopping himself from saying anything as the crowd gets louder. After a few minutes he just drops the mic and walks out pissed. It’s billed as him being so angry that nothing he had to say would be allowed on TV, but I’m a little curious if he forgot what he wanted to say.
The resurgence of Jack Swagger continues as he takes on Zack Ryder. Swagger comes to the ring with Zeb Colter in his corner. Who is Zeb Colter? He’s better known as Uncle Zebekiah and he’s basically a country freak show (here‘s a sample). Ryder hit a missile dropkick and the Broski Boot early but Swagger rolled out of the ring. Ryder leaped over the top rope to attack him but Swagger caught him (kinda) and hit a powerslam on the outside mat. From there it’s all Swagger. Ryder did get a knee up in the corner, but Swagger caught Swagger in the air on a Rough Ryder attempt, throwing him into the corner. I have to admit, that was impressive. Swagger gets Ryder to tap out to the Patriot Act. After the match Swagger presents Zeb Colter to the audience as another great American. Colter says that there are no real American’s anymore, getting into Vietnam and too many foreigners in the USA. He then asks how to get rid of them (Uh oh. Better wrap it up Zeb). He’s like a Bizarro Cesaro (hey it rhymes!). Things can get very weird for Jack Swagger very soon. Apparently squashing Zack Ryder is enough to get Swagger into the Elimination Chamber match. One spot to go.
Speaking of that spot, upon hearing that Jericho is in the chamber match, Ziggler comes to Booker T demanding that he get into the match as well. This is after Dolph backed out of the match claiming that he didn’t need to title shot due to having the MITB case. He says that Jericho doesn’t deserve a spot while Ziggler is stealing the show ever night (except last Monday night). Booker says that he will put Ziggler in a match against Kane, with the winner getting a spot in the chamber match. At least he has a match this week. I don’t see Dolph winning though, as having Kane and Bryan together is damn near mandatory.
Back in the ring Cody Rhodes squares off against the Miz with Antonio Cesaro doing commentary. It’s all about Miz putting his business where it doesn’t belong. Cesaro talks about how he conquered America which is why he carries the American flag. Meanwhile Cody Rhodes is controlling the pace early until Miz gets the momentum back with some clotheslines. After tossing Rhodes over the top rope, Miz slips out and stares down Cody. Cesaro moves in to attack but Miz gets a boot up and takes Antonio out. Miz then gets Cody back in the ring and Cesaro throws Miz into the ring post. Antonio then grabs Miz by the legs and swings him into the outside barricades. So this is going to continue for a while I guess.
Epico and Primo out next in tag team action against America’s new favorite face team, Brodus Clay and Tensai. Yup, after being embarrassed by Clay a couple of weeks ago, Tensai is now Brodus’ best bud. He just paces back and forth while Brodus does his whole dance routine. Tensai almost gets hits by Clay but Brodus stops himself, Primo (I think) then tries to rams their heads together but they don’t give, and they go on the attack. No offense from Epico and Primo as Tensai gets the win after hitting the back splash thing. Tensai gets in on the dance party this time as Rosa gets in Tensai’s face. Cameron and Naomi attack Rosa, throwing her out of the ring and hitting her in the face with a baseball slide. If Ziggler didn’t get on during a show where this match happened I’d lose it.
Shield in the house to address the crowd. They have nothing to really say other than they want to fight Cena, Sheamus and Ryback. So that’s cool. Keep it simple. They call them out to the ring but they don’t show. They say that they couldn’t be taken down when the whole locker room was there to help, so they can’t be taken down in a 3 on 3 match either. They make the whole thing about John Cena being a failure sitting in his little bubble. He has been what’s wrong with the WWE for the last decade and the Shield is the solution. He is the reason Sheamus and Ryback exist, and why the current system exists within the WWE. The Shield says that this is their chance to make up for the last ten years. They then start screaming the same way the faces did. Each side just wants to fight and stand in the ring. Some how they haven’t fought more. Just when it doesn’t look like they are going to show, the lights go off! When they come back on the face team is beating down the Shiwld. Ambrose gets the worst of it, being speared out of the ring. The fight continues outside the ring and up the steps, as the Shield are again forced to retreat. Of course they are. They are facing the three biggest faces in the company. The problem is that what is a placeholder for the faces can prove to ruin the momentum the Shield spent months building. Ambrose and Rollins specifically have so much to offer, but right now they don’t have anywhere to go if they lose.
Damien Sandow out next to bash country music in Nashville Tennessee. He of course does a fantastic job doing it. He’ll go against Alberto Del Rio who has Ricardo Rodriguez back in his corner! Sandow goes on the attack early with a series of knees. Del Rio then turns the tide with a swinging back breaker and a side kick to the face for a two count. Del Rio then ducks under a clothesline and applies to cross arm breaker to get the quick pin via submission. After the match, Alberto says Big Show’s promo tonight was the best of his career because he didn’t say anything. He added that the time for talk is over, and now is the time for action (works for me). Del Rio then says he is going to WrestleMania by pointing at the sign (take a shot) and yelling “WrestleMania.” He is alluding to the opinion that he will win the match, leading to him defending the World Heavyweight Championship. Odds are that they will both be at WresteMania regardless of the result, so that argument does not necessarily hold water.
Holy smokes! Backstage Bo Dallas is beating the crap out of Wade Barrett! Is he a face or a heel? This is revenge for Wade attacking Bo on Smackdown. The locker room pulls him back and Barrett has a match next against Kofi Kingston. Wade walks out rubbing his jaw but otherwise looking more annoyed than hurt (bah Lawler just said the same thing). He shows no ill effects early, knocking Kofi around the ring. Kingston gets out of a headlock and hits a few two handed chops and a dropkick, followed up by a splash on Wade’s back while he was standing up. Kofi then hits the splash the traditional front facing way for a two count. Wade counters the next running attack with a swinging side slam. Kofi avoids the bull hammer elbow however and attempts Trouble in Paradise but Barrett rolls away out of the ring. Kofi goes after him but Barrett pulls the ring apron over him and connects with the elbow. Wade pulls him back into the ring and gets the victory. Good match, especially for Barrett. He looked specifically strong, calling out Dallas after the match.
Main event match time as Kane takes on Dolph Ziggler with the Elimination Chamber spot on the line. Kane tries some mat wrestling early but can’t get the pin. Dolph then lands a standing dropkick and takes control. After laying Ziggler out, Kane prepares for a chokeslam but Dolph sees it coming and gets out of the ring. That’s a trend I have seen a lot of lately but never really addressed. It seems now that any finisher with a big build up or wind up gets attempted very early in matches only for the opponent to quickly escape the ring once they realize what is happening. It’s particularly done on regular TV in order to give an opening for a commercial. Sure it makes sense logically, but I see it a little too often lately. The whole point of the finisher is that you wait until the right moment to use it. This is typically when the opponent is broken down, so seeing them even attempted this early is a little weird. I’m getting off topic though. Kane starts using his power game on Ziggler, throwing him into the corner and then hitting him out of the ring. Kane goes to pursue but Big E walks over to stare him down. Dolph takes advantage of the distraction to hurl him into the barricade. On the way back in the ring Ziggler hits a neck breaker and starts connecting his flurry of elbows. It’s so simple but the energy really gets the crowd into it. Kane gets out of a headlock and catches Ziggler in the air attempted a cross body splash. Kane goes for a tombstone but Dolph escapes and hits a jumping DDT (because you aren’t allowed to use pile drivers anymore). After another exchange, Ziggler applies a sleeper hold. Kane eventually gets out of it but Dolph lands a fame-asser for a two count. Kane then counters a Zig Zag attempt with a sidewalk slam. Kane then goes to the top rope where AJ distracts him long enough for Ziggler to dodge the attack. Ziggler then hits the ropes, knocking AJ off the apron into Langston’s arms. Dolph then looks back to make sure she is okay (what a guy), giving Kane the opening to hit a chokeslam, win the match and get the final spot in the Elimination Chamber. Good match, nice finish. Intersntingly, Bryan did not interfere and there was no Team Hell No banter tonight.
So now the Elimination Chamber match will include Randy Orton, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan and Kane. Much better than last year, which had Khali and Santino. Four guys can legitimately win it (sorry Swagger and Kane) and cases can be made for all of them. The result also leaves Ziggler with no booked match on Sunday, making it so friggin’ likely that he’ll cash in to take the World Heavyweight Championship that I can taste it. If the rumored match of Sheamus versus Orton at WrestleMania is going to happen then it can’t be for the title. Jericho is rumored to be going against Ziggler or Ryback. If it’s Ziggler it can be for the title and be pretty outstanding. Still crossing my fingers for Bryan though.
Naturally the Rock closes out the show. This is the first time the WWE Championship belt has appeared on TV in two weeks, ending the most annoying streak in WWE history. Cole is proclaiming him champion like he just won the damn thing. It’s been three minutes and it’s 11:00 when he actually starts talking. Rock talks about how he moved to Nashville with his family in 1987, kicked puberty’s ass, and met a crackhead at a bar who he bought a car from for 75 bucks that had another crackhead sleeping in the back seat, which he left in a Burger King parking lot after realizing it was probably stolen. Snitch hits theaters February 22nd. He turns it all into how he matured and became champion, which cued CM Punk and Paul Heyman to come out. Rock tells them they were doing a remake a Twighlight earlier, and that he’ll beat Punk’s ass if he steps into the ring. Punk and Heyman walk down the ramp, stopping just short of the ring before having a conversation. Heyman (after saying “I got your back”) starts to go back when Punk makes a run for the ring and he goes at it with the Rock. Rock hits the spinebuster and goes for the People’s Elbow but Heyman grabs his foot. Punk takes advantage of the distraction and hits Rock with the GTS. Punk takes the belt up the ramp and tells Rock, “If you’re going to keep bringing it, since it’s mine I’m just going to take it.” The show ends with Punk holding the belt yelling “BEST IN THE WORLD.”
Good ending to a pretty good Raw but the theory of opposite momentum assures us (if everything we already knew didn’t do that for us) that the Rock will once again defeat CM Punk, leading to his match against John Cena for the WWE Championship. Sadly, there is no way to swerve things into Punk winning, then taking on the Undertaker in a Streak vs. Streak match. With that, I predict that Rock will beat Punk clean, Team Cena will of course beat the Shield, Ziggler will finally cash in after Del Rio beats Big Show, and Chris Jericho will win the Elimination Chamber match.
We’ll see how right I am (probably not very) on Sunday night.