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Daniel Bryan Wins Back WWE Title At Night Of Champions

NOC13_Photo_321Night of Champions is here but it is being completely overshadowed by the news that Jim Ross has “resigned” after 20 years with the WWE. In what might be one of the worst kept secrets in a long time, Ross was forced to resign after losing control of a panel for WWE 2K14 due to a drunk Ric Flair taking over. That would only be considered a bit extreme if it wasn’t for 2K Sports absolutely loving how the panel went down and isn’t that the whole point? The truth seems to be that the WWE was looking for any reason to get rid of JR and this was as good as they were going to get. He’s the best pure play by play man they have ever had and between the Bell’s palsy and his already sporadic schedule, retirement doesn’t seem like the worst idea anyway. It did not need to go down this way though. Ross has said that he is not “going away” so the worst nightmare is him going to TNA. I highly doubt that would happen, but either way, good luck in your future endeavors.

Enough of the drama, lets move on to the show which starts off with Triple H because he just can’t help himself. He believes that this will be one of the best nights in WWE history, and has decided that there will be no outside interference in Daniel Bryan’s match against Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. Isn’t there already supposed to be no interference? That’s like the first rule there is. Anyway, apparently Big Show and the Shield and everyone else are not allowed to interfere. Like always. He starts to wrap things up when Paul Heyman comes out looking like garbage with Curtis Axel, begging to be excused from his match with Axel against CM Punk. He kisses Trips ass before stating his one mistake was allowing a middle aged father to be put in a match against a fighter of Punk’s caliber and pleases that the match be cancelled. Since Triple H is only playing an occasional heel, Triple H tells Heyman that there is nothing to worry about since he doesn’t even have to get in the ring. He can just have Curtis Axel beat CM Punk. He then asks Paul if he thinks Curtis can beat Punk. Heyman blows off the question but Axel steps up and says that he has a vendetta against Heyman and Axel ever since Axel beat Triple H in May (due to Triple H being too injured to finish coming a match with Lesnar). Trips reminds Axel of the saying, “don’t poke the bear” and brings up how at Night of Champions all titles are supposed to be defended (something I’ve been curious about with this Punk match all month). With that in mind, Triple H decides that Curtis will defend his Intercontinental Championship against the first person he sees when he walks backstage. “Best for business” count: 4

So Axel’s solo match is first on the card, and Paul Heyman announces that Axel is competing under protest. So who does Triple H find? Who else but Kofi Kingston, who has had Axel’s number for the last couple of weeks. They trade arm holds and chin locks for a while, then exchanging shots in the corner. Kofi starts working Axel’s leg and Curtis sells it hard. It’s now a part of the match and this could play in to the Punk match. Axel hits a dropkick despite the leg injury and takes Kofi outside to hurl him into the steps. Kingston leaps up to the apron, then hits a springboard moonsault onto Axel on the floor. Back in the ring, Kofi gets pushed down from the top rope, falling into the tree of woe where Axel hits a shoulder tackle and Curtis is in full control. Curtis goes for a clothesline but Kofi grabs his arm and flips over to drop down on Axel’s arm and get some momentum going. He hits the boom drop and goes for Trouble in Paradise, but Axel ducks under it and drives Kofi into the corner. Kingston then hits a swinging kick from the apron and goes to the top for a splash, but Axel meets him with a dropkick for a two count. Kingston then goes for SOS but Curtis pushes him into the ropes. Kofi comes back to try TiP but Axel ducks under it again and goes for his hangman’s facebuster (third finisher since coming back), but Kofi counters again and hits the SOS for two and a half. Great sequence that really got the crowd going. Kofi tried to follow up by leaping over Axel in the corner, but Curtis caught him on his shoulders and dropped Kofi onto the top rope, hit the facebuster and won the match. Pretty entertaining match, I’m just not sure why Axel needed two matches on the card.

Backstage, RVD is having Ricardo Rodriguez teach him spanish words related to beating Del Rio and becoming the World Heavyweight Champion. It’s the hokiest thing I’ve ever seen. Meanwhile, Aksana, Alicia Fox and Layla are done being in AJ’s corner after AJ said they are nothing without her or something. I don’t know. I guess it happened on Smackdown. There is just too much to keep track of outside of Raw.

The Divas Championship match is next as AJ defends against Natalya, Brie Bella and Naomi in a Fatal Four Way. This is the first time Natalya has been featured in a PPV in ages and I expect her to lead the match. Meanwhile, Brie is dressed like slutty Rainbow Brite (as voted on by the fans!). The Total Divas quickly gang up on AJ and take turns tossing her into the outside wall. Back inside, Brie knees AJ out of the ring and bounces off the ropes to take out Nattie and Naomi. She then kicks out Natalya to go one on one with Naomi, who hits a dropkick and a hurricarrana. Natalya gets back in and is rolled up by AJ for two, and they then start slapping each other until Naomi hits them both with the rear view. Brie then tries to hit Naomi on the top rope but gets booted in the face instead. Naomi then tries a top rope cross body splash on Natalya, but it looked like Natty missed her spot as Naomi falls flat on the mat while Natty just drops down on her own. AJ goes after Naomi on the apron, who drops a shoulder into AJ, then hops over Brie to drop down on her head, only for AJ to pull her down to the floor after trying to slingshot back into the ring at Brie. Naomi really does have some skills. So now it’s Natalya taking over. She power slams Brie, hits a tornado clothesline on Naomi, then power slams Brie on Naomi. Cole and JBL quickly point out that the ref should be counting a pin since Naomi’s shoulders were down, but he doesn’t and Natalya managers to apply the Sharpshooter to both ladies at the same time. I’m sure most people skipped this match but it has some pretty good spots. AJ kicks Natalya to break it up and applies the Black Widow on her with Brie and Naomi still down to retain the Divas Championship. It wasn’t the cleanest match, but it was still pretty good. Natalya looked way to proud of herself for pulling off that Sharpshooter.

Spot of the night? Spot of the night
Spot of the night? Spot of the night

World Heavyweight Championship on the line next as Alberto Del Rio defends against Rob Van Dam who, with NoC in Detroit, is performing just a couple of hours from his home town in Battle Creek Michigan. Ricardo announces RVD in english while Lillian Garcia announces ADR in spanish. This just isn’t right. Van Dam starts off fast with a series of kicks followed by a monkey flip and a standing moonsault for a two count, then hitting another standing moonsault off the apron to the outside. With both men on the apron there was a cool spot with each man nearly suplexing the other either into or out of the ring. Each man was planted on each side of the ropes at one point or another before ADR dropped RVD onto the ropes to take control. He hits an enziguri to knock Rob off the apron, Van Dam moves away when Alberto drives to dive at him through the ropes, and the momentum turns again. RVD hits a slingshot leg drop onto the apron, followed by a side kick off the top rope. Del Rio dodges Rolling Thunder however, hitting the back stabber for a two count. Alberto goes for a reverse superplex, but Rob knocks him down and hits a front flip off the top rope for a two count of his own. The two trade blows until Del Rio hits a tilt-a-whirl back breaker to regain the momentum. He goes for the cross arm breaker but RVD counters with the scissor rollup for two. Alberto comes back with a kick to head. He goes to the top rope for an axe handle smash but RVD counters with a spinning kick to the face. He goes for the five star frog splash but ADR gets his knees up to block it and applies to cross arm-breaker. Van Dam inches his way to the ropes but ADR does not let go of the hold and Del Rio loses via disqualification, meaning Del Rio retains his title. Alberto continues the beat down in the ring, then grabs a chair. Ricardo grabs the chair before he can use it, and Rob hits him with a DDT. Rodriguez then urges Van Dam to hit the Van Terminator and he does! Well, technically Del Rio held the chair out like a shield to help close the distance and protect himself but he still went coast to coast. Del Rio gets medical attention as Van Dam celebrates with the World Heavyweight Championship belt that he didn’t win. Yet another high quality match from Rob Van Dam. Del Rio was pretty good too. This would have been a great time for Sandow to cash in. Oh well.

Backstage, Axel is feeling good after beating Kofi Kingston as Paul Heyman is explaining how critical it is for Axel to allow CM Punk to face Heyman alone in the ring. Axel asks Heyman if he believes in him, but Heyman says that he needs to believe in himself. Not exactly a vote of confidence. Meanwhile, Randy Orton is asking Triple H why he banned outside interference for his match against Daniel Bryan. Trips says it was because he wanted to make sure he picked the right guy to be the face of the WWE.

Fandango out next to take on the Miz. They are wrestling because the Miz beat Fandango, R-Truth and Khali in a dance contest. The crowd doesn’t care about this and neither do I. The go back and forth, doing a few moves and then dancing to mock each other. Nothing of note. It looks like Miz injured his arm or his side pretty badly at some point. He was holding his right side throughout the second half of the match. Miz dodges a top rope leg drop and hit a figure four leglock to win the match via submission. Miz was still holding his ribs after the match and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was legit. I also wouldn’t be surprised if I just got got.

and we never saw Heyman again
and we never saw him again

Time for CM Punk to take on Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel in a No DQ elimination tag team handicap match. That seems like a lot of stipulations. Heyman has the appearance of a man walking on death row. Punk adds to that sense by coming down the ramp with a kendo stick yelling “TIME TO DIE!” I’m just trying to get over why Axel needed to have two matches tonight even though the first one was pretty damn good. The match starts with Axel and Punk facing off while both wielding kendo sticks almost like light sabers while Heyman watching from the floor. Punk gets a few shots in on Curtis, then leaps through the ropes at Heyman, puts on JBL’s cowboy hat to tip it to the announcers, then drags Paul into the ring. He asks the crowd what he should do with a thumbs up and thumbs down gesture (of course the fans go with thumbs down) but Axel drops CM with a low blow before any damage can be done. Axel controls the match for about 30 seconds until Punk goes on the offensive again. Punk goes to attack Axel with a chair but Curtis meets him with a dropkick and wedges the chair into the corner. Axel then answers the fans wishes by propping up a table in the ring against the corner. They both take shots at suplexing each other through the table but Axel finally hits a snap suplex away from the table and applies a chin lock. Punk rolled away from a flying elbow, then shoved Axel into the chair in the corer to start his momentum turn. After a swinging neck breaker and a running high knee, Punk went for the flying elbow but Axel rolled out of the ring. CM tried to chase him by diving through the ropes but Curtis clocked him with a chair to stop him cold. Axel hits a running neck breaker and is in full control. Axel goes for the hangman’s facebuster but Punk escapes and tries to hit a GTS, only Curtis escapes that and grabs a kendo stick. Punk blocks it though, hits the GTS and makes Axel tap out with the Anaconda Vice to eliminate him, forcing Heyman into the match. Punk has to chase Heyman around the arena and through the crowd before finally catching him in the ring. Punk grabs a kendo stick as Heyman begs for mercy. Punk has none of it as he beats Paul with the kendo stick and calls for the GTS. He then thinks better of it and pulls handcuffs out of his boot, handcuffing Heyman’s arms behind his back. Punk hits every part of Heyman at least once with the kendo stick before telling Paul he is going to break his face and points the stick at it. Right before Punk can land the final blow, Ryback comes out of nowhere to spear Punk through the table in the corner. He then drags Heyman on top of Punk to give Paul the win via pinfall. This is the only way the match could have really ended, as it is too soon for Heyman/Punk to be over and there is no way anyone will believe Axel can beat Punk. I did not expect Ryback to step in and start a feud with Punk, but he’ll do the job. Punk was obviously furious after losing. Good match. Not great, but acceptable.

United States Championship now on the line as Dean Ambrose defends against DOLPH ZIGGLER. Ziggler earned the title shot on Smackdown after beating Ambrose via DQ. I love Ziggler way too much to want him to win the United States Championship. It will be a huge step back for him and completely take him out of the main event picture (if he isn’t already). If I ever see Jack Swagger I’m going to choke him out with Zeb Colter’s mustache. Ambrose tries to taunt Ziggler by doing his hair taunt so Dolph clocks him with a dropkick and hits him with 10 elbow drops. Ambrose comes back by catches Dolph going for a Lou Thesz press and slamming him down, slowing the pace with a chin lock. Dean keeps Dolph out of it with a superplex, but when he goes to the top rope again, Ziggler runs up to hit a big face buster. Dolph keeps the momentum going with a leaping splash and ten punches in the corner, followed by a jumping clothesline. Ziggler then spins out of a back breaker into a sleeper hold, that Dean breaks up with a back body drop. Ambrose dodges a fame-asser to roll up Dolph and hold the tights for two (show plenty of Dolph ass), but Ziggler quickly follows up by landing the fame-asser for two of his own. Ambrose ducks away from a Ziggler splash to hit his front facing DDT to beat Ziggler completely clean. Decent match.

We go right into the tag team title match, putting Rollins and Reigns against the Prime Time Players, who won the turmoil match to determine the number one contenders during the pre-show, taking out the Real Americans who had taken out the two previous teams. This match starts with Rollins dancing around Titus like Muhammad Ali before getting caught in the air and being tossed around like a rag doll. Seth turns the tide when Darren Young comes in but Young fights off both Rollins and Reigns to reclaim the momentum for the PTPs. Young chases Rollins around the ring toward Reigns, but Darren ducks under Roman, only to be dropped onto the top rope by Rollins, giving the Shield momentum. Young is unable to get to his corner until he pushes Reigns away. Rollins tags himself in and tries to take out Titus, but O’Neil dodges Seth, allowing Young to pancake him and get the hot tag on Titus, who lays out Rollins with a huge shoulder. He goes post to post attacking both members of the Shield, heaving Seth over his head. Rollins answers with a spinning enziguri but O’Neil answers with a big spine buster. O’Neil looked poised to finish the match when Reigns came out of nowhere with a spear (that’s what he does) to win the match for the Shield. Really good tag match. Prime Time Players are stepping up since their push.

Before Randy Orton defends the WWE Championship against Daniel Bryan, I should note that so far, no title has changed hands.

Very little frills before the WWE Championship match starts. Good. They don’t need it. Bryan wrestles Orton to the mat (can you imagine such a thing?) before Orton drops Daniel with a shoulder. Bryan responds with a running knee and starts working the arm. Bryan goes to the second rope but Orton comes back by dropping him down with a back breaker. Randy controls the pace from here, stomping out Bryan and dropping his mid section onto the top rope. Bryan tries to come back with some take downs by Orton keeps Daniel down with the Garvin stomp. Bryan finally starts a comeback with a back flip over Orton into a leaping clothesline, followed up by a missile dropkick and a hurricarrana. Bryan keeps the momentum with a dive through the ropes, then a missile dropkick off the top rope and another dive through the ropes. Bryan tries to go through the ropes one more time by Orton saw it coming and met him with a forearm. Randy then laid him out with a DDT off the apron, and Daniel only made it back in the ring on 9. Orton starts a YES chant and goes for the RKO, but Bryan escapes and pushes Orton into the referee (uh oh). With the ref down, Bryan tries to lock in the YES lock when a second ref gets in the ring. Randy escapes and hits a power slam for a two count. Orton goes for the second rope DDT but Bryan slides out and applies the YES Lock. Orton crawls to the rope and breaks the hold, but starts pummeling him with kicks in the corner. Orton dodges the missile dropkick this time however, and gets a two count on a lazy pin. Orton puts Bryan up for a superplex but Daniel slides away, putting Orton in the tree of woe and hitting the missile dropkick. Bryan then attempts a super german suplex but Orton fights him off. Before Randy can capitalize, Daniel gets right back on him in the corner and goes for a traditional superplex (if there is such a thing). Bryan locks his legs on the turnbuckle and pulls himself up after the move, hitting a flying headbutt for a two count. Orton managed to counter a follow up round house kick with a t-bone suplex. Orton then slid out of a mudslide pin only for Bryan to run back at him with a knee to the face. The referee then had a quick count to give Daniel Bryan the WWE Championship! I completely expected someone to come out and refute the count, but no, the show ends with Daniel Bryan holding the WWE Championship. I’m very surprised that they did this so soon (I thought they had at least another month left to drag this out). A very good match, although not quite as good as their match on Raw when they were both faces.

Bryan even defeated opposite momentum
Bryan even defeated opposite momentum

I feel like that sums up the entire show. Good, but not great. Nobody didn’t deliver, but nobody really killed it. I guess it fits this PPV and Bryan’s whole storyline to call this show a solid B+.

Goldust Steals The Show As Bryan Drops Orton On Raw

RAW_1059_Photo_158Last week, all I knew about Raw this week was that Edge was stopping by for the first time in forever to promote his new TV show. I was never a big Edge guy so whatever. But now I’m completely invested in tonight’s show because Dustin Rhodes is coming back as Goldust to face Randy Orton, with little brother Cody’s job on the line! I’m marking out already. The fact that this all went down on Twitter makes it even better!


The last time we saw GolDustin he was battling heel Cody at the Royal Rumble and I was giddy at the idea of a brother vs brother match at WrestleMania (not like these brothers). They had some legit chemistry (you’d think they were related or something). Alas, now Cody is a face and fired so we get Dustin in stepping up for a real match with all of the McMahon/Rhodes family drama added for some extra flair. There is no way this match can deliver on all the hype I built up for it in my head.



If there was ever a Raw I just wanted to fast forward through its this one. Being in Toronto, a fired up Edge takes the stage to a huge pop to kick things off. He is hosting a segment of the Cutting Edge, stating that Triple H invited him because he thought it would be “good for business” to have a reunion with his former partner, Randy Orton (not Christian, who is out with a concussion). Edge says he doesn’t want to do that because Orton is boring and is now just a corporate lackey. Instead, Edge has Daniel Bryan come out for the interview. Big chanting for Bryan (we can expect a lot of that from the Toronto crowd, the best there is in my opinion), who talks about how Triple H told him he’d get hurt if he didn’t give up his title shot. Daniel says the more he gets beaten up, the sweeter it will be when he beats Orton at Night of Champions this Sunday. Edge says he sees a lot of himself in Bryan, sharing the same passion for the business, and although he isn’t sure he can beat Orton, he does think he deserves a fair shot to try. Edge starts to pump up Bryan when Randy Orton comes out to diss Canada and make fun of Edge for having his body break down so early. Edge responds be continuing to call Orton and puppet and calling out Triple H for having no eye for talent (there is a little truth there). Soon after being mentioned, Triple H comes out asking Edge to say what he has to say to his face. Since Edge doesn’t have to worry about being fired, he has no problem telling him he has no eye for talent, thinking that Edge, Jericho and even John Cena would not make it. Triple H responds by promoting Edge’s show as he was obligated to do, and then saying that while he was wrong about people like Cena and Jericho, he was right about Edge being a failure (huh?). He adds that all of the Rated-R Superstar stuff never drew a dime (oooh). Triple H said he’d give Bryan to prove his worth by facing Dean Ambrose, and since Ambrose will have the Shield in his corner, Trips is letting Bryan have the Big Show in his corner (we know how that’ll end up). Edge then continues to make fun of Triple H for marrying into power and being more of a dick than a dictator. Since he can’t do anything to Edge, Triple H has the Shield beat up Christian and drag him out to the ramp (effectively writing him off until his concussion subsides). Edge runs out to his aid to end a pretty good opening.

Backstage, Edge is getting in Triple H’s face when the Shield gets between him. Edge says he wishes the doctors would clear him so he can do something about what he did. Triple H says the doctors will never clear him because of his neck and spine issues, then ordering Edge to get out of his arena. At the threat of having the Shield force him out, Edge agrees to leave (at least for now).

Curtis Axel with Paul Heyman out for the first match of the night against Kofi Kingston. This is a rematch from Smackdown where Kofi won with an SOS (when was the last time that happened?). With “CM Punk” chants going, Kofi and Curtis swap moves, with Axel grabbing the rope to break an SOS pin attempt. Meanwhile, Paul Heyman hasn’t shaved since last week and looks like he’s ready to crack. Axel gets Kingston in the corner and starts bashing him with knees. He doesn’t back off when the ref calls for it and the ref has no choice but to disqualify Axel, giving Kofi another win. This infuriates Heyman, who knows that if the same thing happens in his and Axel’s handicapped match against Punk, that Paul would have to face CM in the ring. Axel says that won’t happen and goes to finish off Kofi, who bounces back to hit a Trouble in Paradise to knock Curtis out. Heyman is not exactly thrilled.

Backstage again, Heyman is being helped to the trainer’s room by Axel and a ref. Apparently he slipped on some water, and this looks like an attempt to back out of his match this Sunday.

Over in the locker room, Booker T is talking to Big Show about what happened last week, when Triple H forced him to knock out Daniel Bryan. Booker says he would have done the same thing if his job was on the line, and tells Big Show not to be a hero by letting his pride get in the way. Booker is acting like the biggest sell out of the whole group and it hasn’t even been turned into a story. Big Show says “pride is all I’ve got left” and walks out.

DOLPH ZIGGLER in the ring next and will likely be fed to the Wyatts. Rumor has it that Dolph rubbed some people the wrong way with some comments he made in an interview a while ago, leading to him being completely buried by every dominant heel possible. Can’t say I’m totally surprised as Ziggler talks a lot about his spot on the roster and who he thinks he’s better than (hint: everybody). Bray Wyatt immediately drops Dolph with a power slam, and after taking dropkick, Wyatt takes him down again with a diving shoulder and is dominating. Ziggler dodges Bray running at him in the corner and follows up with a splash, a neck breaker and a fame-asser for a two count. The rest of the Wyatt’s then get on the apron, and Bray uses the distraction to splash Dolph in the corner and finish him off with Sister Abigail for the win. I still love the characters, but I’m not seeing enough ring work from Bray to be overly impressed. The tools are there, they just aren’t being utilized.

Hour two starts with Paul Heyman hobbling into the ring on crutches with Axel and a “doctor.” He says he does not believe in the Canadian health care system (nice) which is why he brings his physician when he travels outside the country, who confirms that Heyman tore his ACL and can not compete on Sunday (boom). Paul says he was looking forward to teaming up with Axel and regrets not being able to beat CM Punk. Heyman says he is leaving for New York and will be back as soon as possible. Before he exits, Brad Maddox brings out Doc Sampson, the WWE’s on site doctor, to examine Paul in the ring (sure, what exam can’t be in a public arena). Brad points out that only a WWE doctor can declare someone as medically unable to compete. The crowd chants “this is awkward” and Sampson moves Heyman’s leg around while Paul winces and yells. The doctor determines that he is fine (no kidding), setting Heyman off on Maddox for bringing out the doctor. CM Punk then makes runs out with a kendo stick, causing Heyman to run for his life as CM takes out Axel, leaving him alone with Paul’s doctor. Punk acts like he is going to allow him to leave, but then beats him to a pulp with the kendo stick. That hardly seemed necessary but it was pretty funny.

This looks like something out of a sitcom
This looks like something out of a sitcom

AJ is at the announce table as Brie Bella, Natalya and Naomi take on Aksana, Alicia Fox and Layla. Naomi hits the rear view on Aksana but Layla turns the tide for the heels. AJ meanwhile is talking about how the Total Divas girls are obsessed with her after she called them out two weeks ago. Cole asks if she is jealous about the attention they get, to which AJ responded by saying she only cares about the Divas Championship which is why she had the date she won it tattooed on her neck. Lawler asks if she has any other tattoos, and AJ told him she is 26 and therefore too old for him (truth hurts). She then says she declined Total Divas because she was busy main eventing Raw, which JBLthe announcers doesn’t seem to remember (how convenient). Anyway the match ends with Natalya tapping out Alicia with the Sharpshooter (Canadian pop) and AJ holds the title up with the Total Divas staring her down from the ring. So is Brie a face now? Doesn’t matter, she didn’t have much to do in the match.

We come back from break in the middle of R-Truth rapping before his match against Alberto Del Rio. Truth starts to take control by clotheslining Del Rio over the top rope (after two attempts) and following up with a dive over the top rope to ADR on the floor. Alberto bounces back with an enziguri as Truth was coming back in. The crowd takes to chanting for the announcers as Del Rio controls the match. “RVD” chants starts Truth’s comeback with a spinning kick and a facebuster for two, but “Undertaker” chants pop in as ADR turns the tide for good with a swinging neck breaker. He hits the side kick and the cross arm breaker to secure the win the via submission in a match that was more memorable for what the crowd was chanting than anything in the ring.

The preshow match for NoC has just been announced and it looks pretty interesting. Five teams will square if in what is being called a “Tag Team Turmoil” match to determine the number one contender for the Shield’s tag team championship. Two teams will start, and after one team is eliminated a new team will enter. I think I like this. It incorporates everyone without having the ring be too crowded. The teams are Tons of Funk (there, I said the name), 3MB, The Real Americans, the Usos and the Prime Time Players (also known as the not so ambiguously gat duo).

Zeb Colter in the ring to say exactly what you think he would say about Canada, but his “We the People” chant is cut off by Santino! The Italian snake man is back from his injury/finishing off his wrestling school and is taking on Antonio Cesaro, who immediately welcomes Santino back with a dropkick. After a brief comeback attempt from Santino, Cesaro put him in a giant swing for 25 turns. Not the 100 turns he did back in Chikara but it still got a “holy s#!t” from the crowd. Santino then ducked a clothesline with a split to go into the hip toss, but Cesaro kicked the Cobra away and hit an uppercut. Antonio then just started dominating Santino (specifically with a running uppercut in the corner) but couldn’t get the pin. Finally, Santino counters a punch by pulling off a hip tos and converting it into a  crucifix-like pin to get the surprise win. The crowd was chanting “maple syrup.” Whatever. When used right, Santino can be pretty fun and even a good underdog character. We’ll see what they do with him.

Love the giant swing
Love the giant swing

Damien Sandow in the ring next to take on the Miz, who starts of in control with his leaping clothesline into a flying axe handle smash as the crowd showers him with boos. Sandow ducks under a boot to toe drag Miz onto the second rope and take charge. Damien always seems on the verge of flipping off the crowd when he hits the elbow of disdain. Miz comes back with a knee lift and a boot to the face as he starts to work the leg and the crowd chants “you can’t wrestle.” This is when Fandango decides to make his grand entrance to a big pop from the crowd. He distracts Miz with his flamboyance, allowing Sandow to roll up Miz from behind for the win. At least this match brought us the biggest Fandango pop since the day after ‘Mania.

Backstage, Renee is talking to Goldust, who is speaking out of character about his match against Randy Orton. He says he was always the screw up of the family, and for him to get so many chances in the WWE only for Cody to get fired the way he did is ridiculous. Triple H then pops up to remind Dustin of all the pressure on his shoulders, with Cody and his new wife (they aren’y actually getting married for another week or so) watching at home with Cody’s job on the line. Goldust said he is not messing around. OOOOOOOH.

Using the wrong fingers
Using the wrong fingers

Bryan versus Ambrose may be closing the show, but Goldust/Orton is the main event and is next. It’s really weird watch Dustin in the full outfit but completely out of character. It doesn’t look right. Dustin does do a little caressing to play to the crowd before trading blows with Orton in the middle of the ring. The fans are very into it as every shot landed gets a reaction one way or the other. “You still got it” chants come down as Goldust hits a clean and quick sequence of moves. Randy starts to take charge but Dustin takes it right back with a roll up into a series of chops. Orton uses a thumb to the eye to get back on the offensive, laying into him in the corner and Garvin stomping him. Goldust then evades a power slam and sets up Shattered Dreams (kick to the nuts for you youngin’s) but Randy rolled out of the ring to avoid it. Back from break, Orton is in control again until his face is planted into the steel steps. Goldust loses the momentum on the apron however as Randy drops his throat on the ropes and whips him into the steel post. Orton hits a back body drop onto the barrier outside and some more stompin’ inside. Goldust then comes out of nowhere to reverse a hip toss with a bulldog and gain momentum. He hits 10 punches in the corner and whips him toward the ref. Orton stops himself from colliding, but then allows Dustin to roll him up for two and a half. Randy comes back after the kickout to hit the second rope DDT. Randy gets a “YES” chant going to mock Bryan as he sets up for an RKO. Dustin turned the RKO into Cross Rhodes (just like Cody did) but only get two (just like Cody did). Goldust then misses with a right hand and falls into an RKO to give Orton then win and keep Cody fired. Really entertaining match that paced itself well, had the crowd hooked from the start and had a good finish. I enjoyed it a lot. Afterwards, Orton used a play on words to tell Goldust that his “dream” of getting Cody his job back has been “shattered” just like he’ll shatter Bryan’s dream of winning the WWE Championship (get it? because Goldust’s move is Shattered Dreams).

Backstage, Stephanie is talking to Goldust about how it is his fault that Cody does not have a job. She calls him a loser for letting his entire family down, and instructs him to join Cody on the unemployment line. Stephanie sends him off by telling him to say hi to his dad Dusty for her. We then basically watch Dustin walk off, presumably into a wall as I didn’t see an exit that way.

Rob Van Dam in the ring next to square off against Ryback in a battle of guys with the same singlet artist, with Alberto Del Rio walking out to call RVD a washed up loser. He says Ricardo belongs with RVD because he’s a loser, just like Del Rio belongs with the World Heavyweight Championship. Del Rio and Van Dam keep telling each other what initials everyone will be chanting. It’ll either be “RVD” or “ADR.” WTF? Rob starts off strong with some jumping kicks to take Ryback off his feet, but Ryback powers out of a monkey flip to gain control. He tosses him around for a while until RVD hits a spinning kick, landing rolling thunder for a two count. He follows up with a front flip and a side kick off the top rope. Van Dam goes up again for the frog splash but Ryback rolls out of the ring. Rob leaps to the outside but hits the barrier when Ryback moves away. Ryback then drives RVD crotch first into the ring post a couple of times, giving Van Dam a silly win via DQ. Ryback then hit RVD with Shell Shock in the ring. It’s a shame because I think this was the best Ryback has looked in a while. This match could have been really good if given the proper time.

Backstage, Stephanie McMahon is telling Big Show that, even though he is supposed to be in Daniel Bryan’s corner he is not to lay a finger on the Shield because it’s best for business. It’s a good thing that the PPV is this Sunday because it’s getting pretty forced. Everything is what’s “best for business” Why did you hit him? It’s best for business. Why did you put swiss cheese on that sandwich? It’s best for business. Why do all of these wrestlers act like the WWE is the only place in the world they can earn money? It’s best for business. It’s been spammed to death. Big Show lets his frustration out by throwing a 20 year old TV on the floor.

Main event time as Dean Ambrose (with the Shield) takes on Daniel Bryan (with Big Show glued to a chair). They start fast exchanging kicks and punches in opposite corners until Dean slides out to regroup. Back in the ring, Daniel starts to control things with running knees and kicks to the back. Bryan starts working the arm while Show cheers him on. After a sloppy mexican surfboard, Bryan hits a jumping clothesline and goes to the top rope for a flying headbutt. Seth Rollins gets on the apron to distract Daniel so that Dean can knock him onto the outside barrier. Ambrose is in control coming back from commercial and Big Show has a “YES” chant going. Bryan dodges Ambrose running at him in the corner leading to a pair of missile dropkicks and a hurricarrana off the top rope for two. Ambrose ducks under a roundhouse kick and tries to apply and Boston Crab but Bryan counters into a YES Lock that is broken up when Dean reaches the ropes. Ambrose tries to prop Bryan up on the top rope but Daniel slides out and puts Dean in the tree of woe, where he tags Ambrose in the face with a missile dropkick. Bryan then lands a german suplex from the top rope for a two count and the crown is chanting “This is awesome.” Ambrose dodges Bryan coming at him, sending Daniel out of the ring. Reigns tries to spear him but Daniel moves away, sending Roman into the steps. Daniel then dodges Rollins jumping off the apron to send him into the announce table. Ambrose then takes out Bryan from behind and delivers a DDT into the arena floor. Ambrose brings him back in the ring where he only gets a two count. A frustrated Ambrose asks why Bryan doesn’t just stay down, and Daniel uses a quick small package to pin Ambrose for the victory. Great match as always from both men.

You smell like leather
You smell like leather

After the match, Randy Orton runs out to face Bryan, who dives through the ropes at him. Bryan is quickly ambushed by the Shield and once again the Bryan beatdown is on. Eventually the Big Show has enough at takes a chair to go help Daniel but then thinks better of it and turns his back, letting the heels do their thing. The Shield then throw Bryan back in the ring where Orton joins him. Randy points at Big Show before dropping him with an RKO as Big Show walks back up the ramp. Show is then stopped by Triple H and Stephanie, who tell him to be a professional and knock him out, just like he did last week. Show grits his teeth and gets in the ring. Show refuses to do it when Orton gets in his face, telling him that whatever Triple H says, goes. Orton picks up Bryan but Show won’t pull the trigger, so again Randy gets in Big Show’s face. He tells him that as the face of the WWE he has the authority to tell Show what to do, and orders him to knock him out. Show says he’s the boss, and as Orton turns around a now revived Bryan knees him in the face. The show ends with Big Show walking up the ramp as Bryan holds the WWE Championship over Orton. Cool segment that should technically lead to Big Show being fired, and sadly puts the opposite momentum rule for PPV’s in Orton’s favor (who I figured would win anyway).

So we’re now five days from Night of Champions and we only have four matches on the card (five if you include the preshow). I imagine the winner of the tag team turmoil will face Rollins and Reigns on the show, leaving United States Champion Dean Ambrose as the only title holder without a match. Perhaps the rest of the holes will be filled on Smackdown. While there isn’t a single match that I have as a complete must see, I do appreciate having a drastically more diverse card than we’ve had in the last year, with Axel, Orton and RVD in place of Cena, Lesnar and Henry. I’m cautiously optimistic about this one.

Cody Rhodes Fired As Sobbing Big Show KO’s Daniel Bryan On Raw

RAW_1058_Photo_120-1Two weeks from Night of Champions I was expecting things to be relatively status quo. The card looked basically set and all they had to do was get to the PPV injury free.

But they couldn’t do it.

Over the weekend, Mark Henry pulled his hamstring at a house show and his status is very much up in the air. Hammys are nothing to laugh at and can take a while to fully heal. While Mark doesn’t do a whole lot of running in his matches, it only takes one bad step to really do some damage. He was set to team up with the Big Show against the Shield, but it looks like they will hae to find a replacement (anyone but Khali!).

This week’s show starts with Triple H in the ring (with the Shield protecting him) to again introduce Randy Orton as the face of the WWE. Orton says his responsibility is to protect the status of the WWE, and to disrespect him disrespects the company and yadda yadda yadda, Bryan defacing Orton’s escalade meant defacing the WWE so he pummeled him on Smackdown and spray painted “NO” on his stomach, in a scene that looked straight out of the NWO playbook. Randy then asks the crowd if he should face Daniel Bryan at NoC. Crowd says yes, he says no. Same goes for Orton asking if Bryan has a chance to beat him and will he ever be more than a B+ player. Triple H steps in to say that it is his responsibility to give the fans what they want and protect the superstars. With that in mind he worries about the health of Daniel Bryan, as he keeps getting himself into situations where he gets into trouble. Trips then compares Bryan to Doink the Clown as being very popular, but not being able to become the champion because it was bad for business. He then suggests bringing back the cruiserweight title or the European title to give Bryan something to shoot for.

This brings Daniel out himself, who says he’s proud to be compares to Doink, but doubts Doink ever got as big of a reaction as him, and that Triple H and Orton are the only clowns he sees (OOOH). Bryan then says he doesn’t blame them for wanted Bryan to give up his title shot at NoC, specifically Orton, who he calls out for being completely out of the title picture until it was handed to him and calls Stephanie more masculine than him. Orton asks how many times Bryan has to get triple power bombed and punched in the face before he realizes he can’t win. Daniel responds by saying Orton doesn’t know what it’s like to be told he wasn’t good enough, which is what Bryan has gone through his whole career. It’s reminding me a lot of CM Punk’s rise to the top, being the unconventional top guy that crawled to get his spot. Bryan says Orton doesn’t know what it’s like because he has been handed everything, and that Triple H and the Shield will always be around because they know Randy can’t beat him one on one. Triple H says Bryan shouldn’t be mad at him, but at Big Show instead, who stands idle while Bryan gets beaten to a pulp despite having an “iron clad” contract. Well I’m glad somebody finally mentioned it! Trips decides to allow Bryan to get revenge by facing Big Show in the main event tonight. Seriously, Big Show can’t be fired. So why can’t he help?

Backstage, Cody is talking to Triple H and Randy Orton about Bryan. Cody says Orton shouldn’t be afraid of Daniel Bryan and having Orton/Bryan for the title is what is “best for business.” Triple H says he’s the one making those decisions, brings up how he and Orton were not invited to Rhodes’ upcoming wedding, and puts Cody in a match against Orton tonight, all but saying that Rhodes will be fired if he loses.

The Miz takes on Fandango in the opening match of the show and they quickly go back and forth until Miz takes control on the outside. After throwing Fandango back in the ring, Miz blocks Summer Rae from slapping him, then spins her away. Summer is furious that she was forced into a dance move and it is all Miz right now ‘Dango turned the tide during the break but Miz came back shortly after returning. Miz missed on a jumping clothesline in the corner, and Fandango followed with a slingshot leg drop on a suspended Miz, but Fandango appeared to injure his knee. Miz quickly capitalized but clumsily applying the figure four leglock, giving Miz the victory via submission. I suppose that works as a false finish which give more reason for these two to continue the feud. At least if they are facing each other they can’t ruin anyone else on the roster.

Backstage, Booker T is talking to Bryan about being to good to risk his career by fighting the company. He urges Daniel to give up his title match to save his career. Bryan says this isn’t about money, but about his life. Booker says they can ruin his career, and that they extend much farther than the arenas (is this the mafia?). Booker says he’s behind him, but if I didn’t know better I’d say it felt like Triple H made Booker try to talk Bryan out of taking his rematch.

Overselling much?
Overselling much?

DOLPH ZIGGLER in the ring next to face a mystery opponent. Dolph looks toward the stage when he is ambushed by Dean Ambrose from behind. He drives Dolph into the ring post and tells him to respect the business when suddenly Ryback’s music hits. So Ryback is the mystery opponent and Ziggler is staggered. Dolph throws a quick elbow but Ryback quickly delivers a belly to belly suplex. Ziggler gets tossed around while  Ryback gets “you can’t wrestle” chants. Ryback goes for the meathook clothesline but Dolph meets him with a dropkick. After taking a splash in the corner, Ryback bounces back to hit the meathook and finish off Ziggler with Shell Shock.

Backstage, Brad Maddox has informed Triple H and Stephanie that the Big Show is refusing to fight Daniel Bryan. Steph decides to take matters into her own hands and heads to the ring. There, she calls out the Big Show as someone who helped her out when she was traveling with the WWE as a kid. She gives him a big hug and tell him he knows he is broke due to all of his investments went belly up, and that if he doesn’t perform he is in breach of his “iron clad” contract (well that explains it). Steph says that he can’t have much more left in the tank and doesn’t have much of a future, even dropping the bomb that large people don’t live as long as other people and he needs to think of his family (DAMN!). So now Big Show is crying as Steph says the only person he’s hurting more than himself is her. Steph leaves the ring and the crowd chants “You’ll be okay” at Show. That may be my favorite chant ever.

During the break a commercial broke the news that Edge will be back on Raw next week. I imagine this has to do with Christian somehow but either way it’s pretty cool.

We come back to Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal of 3MB facing the Prime Time Players. I’m glad that they aren’t making a big deal out of it, but it is getting weird how they haven’t said anything about Darren Young coming out. I mean this is a company that brings up every bit of personal information they can discover. We know AJ didn’t have a boyfriend until she was 20, Daniel Bryan was a vegan, John Cena is dating Nikki Bella after getting a divorce and Kane is a huge republican. Why can’t Michael Cole at some point say “Darren Young, the first openly gay superstar”? It’s not taking advantage of a story, it’s just stating a fact. Anyway, Titus starts off in charge, stomping Slater while blowing the whistle. 3MB comes back with Young in the ring, Darren gets O’Neil back in on a hot tag and drops Mahal with a side kick. The pin was supposed to be broken up by Slater but Heath was a beat too late and the ref had to just slow the count. Titus then hit an exaggerated spinebuster to win a strictly midcard match. This should have been on Superstars.

Backstage, Paul Heyman is pissed at Brad Maddox for constantly putting Heyman in danger at the hands of CM Punk. First by allowing the fans to vote Punk to be able to get his hands on Heyman by beating Axel, then by putting Heyman and Axel in a match against Punk that essentially guarantees Heyman being physically engaged by Punk. Triple H suddenly pops up to mention how he approved the match because he has watched Heyman weasel his way out of being beaten up and wants to see if he can find a way out of this too. If he doesn’t, then Heyman will get beat up by Punk so either way Triple H wins. Very face-like promo by Trips. I guess he is a situational face now.

Time for Cody Rhodes to fight for his job against WWE Champion Randy Orton. Orton controls things early, dropping Cody on the top rope and tossing him out of the ring, but Rhodes fights back by throwing Orton into the steep steps and working the arm in the ring.  From here, Cody plays the aggressor as Randy fights back only to have his momentum stopped by a relentless Rhodes. Orton slows Cody down with a shot to the eye with Cody coming back with punches in the corner. Randy slides out however and hits a back breaker on Cody coming down from the second rope. The match is very much over with the crowd, as the career of Cody being on the line is making it all about him. Orton finally takes charge as the rest of the roster watches in the back, showing support for Rhodes. Cody comes back again with a springboard dropkick that a gets a big reaction from a guy dressed like Dusty Rhodes in the front row. Rhodes then goes for a Disaster Kick that Randy ducks under, only to be caught with it when Cody goes for it a second time. That gets a two count and Rhodes goes for a backflip splash that Orton sidesteps from. Randy hits the second rope DDT but Cody counters the RKO with Cross Rhodes for two and a half. Rhodes goes for Cross Rhodes again but Randy moves away and Cody tweaks his knee. Orton takes advantage of the injury and hits an RKO to finish off Rhodes in a very good match that, most importantly, had no interference. I was originally thinking there would be a plan for Triple H and Orton to face John Cena and Daniel Bryan at Survivor Series (meaning Cena would come back early). But I think the steps are being taken to develop a match with Randy Orton and the Shield taking on Bryan, Big Show, Ziggler and Cody. After the match, Triple H comes out to congratulate Cody on showing so much heart, then firing him on the spot because he needs winners. Just days before his wedding too! I imagine he’ll be gone just long enough to have a wedding and a honeymoon. If played properly, this match could be the one that really pushes Cody up the card.

Eventually, all of Randy Orton's moves will come off the second rope
Eventually, all of Randy Orton’s moves will come off the second rope

CM Punk walks out to the ring next with a kendo stick, like the one Paul Heyman beat him with last week. Punk promises that he is done making empty threats and even talking as he is having a hard time figuring out what he is supposed to say next after taking the beating he took last week. He says everything that needs to be said by all parties involved has been said. Punk says he doesn’t want to wrestle, he wants to fight, specifically fighting Paul Heyman and he’ll go through Curtis Axel to do it. Instead of talking about Heyman and Axel, Punk has a message for all of the fans of his in the arena and watching on TV. In thirteen days at Night of Champions, he guarantees that he will eliminate Axel and get his hands on Heyman. He promises that anyone buying the PPV will see a side of him they have never seen before. He wraps it up by stating that while Heyman said Punk broke his heart, in two weeks he is going to break his face. Like I said before, there is nothing else to do here but have the match.

Backstage, Big Show is telling Bryan that he didn’t want this fight but he is just doing what he has to do. Daniel says he doesn’t care what Big Show has to do and is just worried about himself. Big Show is worried about being fired like Cody, and doesn’t want his friendship with Bryan to be affected (since when are they friends?). Bryan says Show should be worried, because Bryan is going to beat him just like he did to win the World Heavyweight Championship (exactly!).

Divas title match preview
Divas title match preview

Triple Threat Divas match next between Natalya, Naomi and Brie for the right to face AJ for the Divas title. AJ is even at the announce table for this. AJ talks trash about all the Total Divas women while the ladies all switch places in quick one on one bursts. It looks like Naomi might be getting the win on Natalya when AJ runs in the ring and attacks Naomi, ending the match with a DQ (even though that technically shouldn’t happen in a triple threat match). All of the Divas then decide to beat up AJ for what she said about them last week, and AJ is left flat in the ring while the other ladies leave together. So now AJ still doesn’t have an opponent, and I feel like there could be a fatal four way for the belt. If only that was as hot as it sounds. Stephanie would make that official during a commercial.

Damien Sandow, who I could have sworn would face Cody again at Night of Champions, is in the ring to face Rob Van Dam in a rematch from Smackdown. Sandow attacks first but RVD comes back with a spinning kick out of the corner. Rob tries a hurricaranna next but Damien catches him and drops RVD with a power bomb. Sandow maintains control with a chinlock. Van Dam fights back with a springboard side kick and is about to go for rolling thunder when Alberto Del Rio comes out to distract RVD. Sandow takes advantage by attack from behind and he regains control. Sandow yells things like “not so fast, Rob” which is exactly why I love him. He’s like an old school villain. He might as well put on a black coat and tie RVD’s wife to train tracks. With Alberto still watching from the stage, RVD slips into a small package which only gets a two count, but starts his turn around. Van Dam hits rolling thunder and goes for the frog splash, but Sandow pulls him from behind to roll him up for two. Van Dam then drops Damien’s throat on the top rope, hits the frog splash and wins the match. The roll up near fall gave just enough potential for a surprise finish to make me really enjoy the it. Del Rio just standing idle on the stage really speaks to how little story there is left to tell in the feuds.

Backstage, Cody Rhdoes, now fired, is free to speak his mind and bitches about how for 20 years the McMahons have been dumping on the Rhdoes (semi true). He mentions how Dusty dominated in Florida only to be buried and turned into a joke in the WWF, how Dustin was turned into Goldust which ruined his career in the long run, and finally how he is getting married and has to find a way to support his family. After being asked whether or not he told his wife, Cody just walks away. See ya in a few weeks, Cody.

Main event time as the Big Show is set to face Daniel Bryan with the entire roster forced to watch from the stage. I really don’t see what the big deal is here. They are supposed to have a match. Was there protocol I didn’t know about where people only wrestled people they hated? This is bogus. Big Show is afraid to fight Bryan while all Daniel wants to do is fight. Bryan jumps at Show and Show just keeps throwing Bryan aside, trying to calm him down. This only gets Daniel angrier, as he attacks Show’s legs and starts drilling him with missile dropkicks. Big Show finally starts fighting back, saying that he warned him before hitting a few chops and a body slam. This would really be a great time for Big Show to turn heel and really go after Bryan. Instead, Show keeps dropping Bryan and trying to tell him that he doesn’t want to hurt him, while Bryan can’t stop attacking. Daniel gets him down and goes for a roundhouse kick but Show catches it and sets up for a chokeslam. Daniel gets out of the way and hits a DDT. Bryan then goes for a dive off the top rope, but Show catches him with a spear in mid air. Big Show sets up for a KO Punch but he can’t pull the trigger and leaves the ring. Triple H and the Shield come out to make him finish the match but Show refuses and goes up the ramp. Trips then has the Shield run in and finish off Bryan themselves. Big Show runs in but Triple H stops him, warning him that he’ll be fired if he interferes. After a triple power bomb on Daniel leaves Big Show in agony, Triple H orders him to give Bryan a KO Punch. Show refuses and tries to leave, when Stephanie comes out again, telling Show to do it for his family. Show gets back in the ring and looks like he is going to go after Triple H when Steph gets in his way with one last warning. Big Show finally delivers the KO Punch on Bryan and heads up the ramp as Steph and Trips tell him he did the right thing (and the crowd chants “you sold out”). Randy Orton then comes out to stand over Bryan as the show comes to an end.

I feel like I spent the entire three hours staring at this face
I feel like I spent the entire three hours staring at this face

The whole finish to the show was just painful to watch, and I can’t decide if it’s from good storytelling or just things dragging out too much. This is yet another show that ends with Daniel Bryan on his back and each time they spend more and more time doing it. I was thinking that Show hitting Triple H could lead to the rumored match between the two down the road, especially since Show likely can’t have the tag match with Mark Henry since he is injured, but I guess that will have to wait. For now we just have to see how Ziggler/Ambrose and Reigns and Reigns versus anybody will get put together with just one Raw before Night of Champions.

Punk To Face Axel/Heyman As Bryan Is Attacked Again On Raw

RAW_1057_Photo_078There is plenty going on as the WWE heads toward Night of Champions. It’s the start of life without John Cena (at least for a few months), Daniel Bryan is taking on the McMahon family in a PG version of the Austin/McMahon feud, and a bunch of other plot lines that have nothing to do with Total Divas. Before getting into Raw though, let’s get into this:

Ted DiBiase Jr. leaving the WWE is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. He is not a regular on TV and has been essentially buried on the roster. However, for him to choose not to resign with the WWE and not the WWE choosing not to resign him is interesting to me. He didn’t get a big TV exit. He posted this video from his personal account. He also didn’t seem bitter toward the WWE about his stock falling since his 2008 debut with Cody Rhodes. I get the impression that his reasons for leaving are completely genuine, and that he is just a guy who wanted to get out while he was ahead so that he can live a “normal” life with his family before his body started to betray him. So long Ted. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

Raw opens up with Triple H in the ring with the Shield ringside acting as security. He repeats how Triple H screwing Bryan out of the WWE Championship at Summerslam was business, but that the attack on Bryan last week on Raw was personal. He said Bryan made it personal when he insulted Triple H and Stephanie. Trips says he is willing to set his personal feelings aside for business is Bryan can do the same. He then talks about how ratings are up lately, giving credit to Orton being the new face of the company and calls Randy out to the ring. Trips is so happy with him that he bought Randy a brand new Escalade (in stores now!). Orton thanks Triple H for the gift and recognizing that he is the only one suited to be the face of the WWE. He is about to check out the car when Daniel Bryan takes the stage. He thanks the fans for supporting him despite not being a conventional “superstar.” He also thanks Cena for the opportunity for giving him the match when someone like Triple H never would have, and Triple H for finally proving that his view on what a champion should be is just as misguided as Vince. He calls out Trips for going from the leather jacket wearing rebel to the suit wearing sell out. Bryan then says he’s going to be the WWE Champion at Night of Champions. Triple H mocks him by singing “When You Wish Upon A Star” and calls Bryan a “B” at best. He decides to let Daniel prove his worth (like he hasn’t had to do that before) by putting him against the Shield in a gauntlet match. First he’ll take on Rollins, then Ambrose and finally Reigns. Triple H says he is putting Bryan in this match because he believes in him, and it is best for business. Pretty good open.

The first match of the night puts Cody Rhodes against Fandango with Damien Sandow at the announce table. They go back and forth for a bit until the Miz comes out to ‘Dango’s music while dressed like Fandango, dancing around with Rosa Mendez. This distracts Fandango of course, so Cody sneaks up behind him and rolls him up for a quick win. Fandango gets pissed and goes after Rhodes, who is then also attacked by Sandow. Miz runs in to help Cody and the faces toss the heels out of the ring. Brad Maddox then steps out to stop the ruckus and make a tag match putting Sandow and Fandango against Miz and Cody, which starts right now!


I cringe whenever someone gets involved with the Miz. He’s like reverse Midas for wrestling. Everything he touches turns to crap. Sandow and Fandango work Rhodes over for a while. After a double clothesline, Cody tags in Miz (still wearing Fandango’s gear) who hits Damien with a double axe handle smash of the top rope while Rosa jumps around like it’s the first time she’s ever been a face. I miss sexy hip turning Rosa. Anyway, Miz hits the leaping clothesline in the corner and starts to work Sandow’s leg. In the process, Miz kicks Fandango off the apron and ‘Dango decides to head back up the ramp. Left alone, Sandow walks into a Skull Crushing Finale and Miz gets the win. Fandango correctly says his name to end the segment a pretty bleh match.

Backstage, Josh Matthews is talking to Christian about Triple H’s actions since Summerslam. Christian says he knows that the Shield gets put on anyone who criticizes Triple H. Orton then steps in to talk trash going into their match later tonight. Christian replies that he knows Triple H likes to use sledgehammers, but it appears that he has found a new tool. That means Randy Orton is a tool! Oh man Christian has so much charisma. Wait, I get it now!

CM Punk takes on Curtis Axel next, with a stipulation involving Paul Heyman to be added on by the WWE Universe. 81% vote to have Heyman face Punk one on one if Punk wins, beating out Paul being banned or being guest referee of the match. So now Punk is giddy as he takes charge with some mat wrestling. Backstage before the match, Axel told Heyman not to worry because Punk can’t out wrestle him. Heyman looked around like he knew CM was the better man. As for the match, Punk took things outside when for some reason, he took off toward the stage to attack Heyman. Axel went after him of course, taking control of the match. Honestly, where is the logic there? Punk knows that if he wins the match he gets Heyman in the ring, so why go after him mid-match? Anyway Punk hits a running high knee and goes for the flying elbow when Curtis rolls out of the ring. Punk then keeps the pressure on by diving through the ropes into him. Curtis takes control again with a lariat and a dropkick, then mocking Punk as Heyman makes his way ringside. Axel then misses with the swinging neck breaker and Punk hits a neck breaker of his own, followed by a flying elbow for two. Axel then slips out of the GTS, hitting the swinging neck breaker for a two count of his own. Axel then looks like he’s going to go for the Perfectplex when Punk pops up to hit a GTS out of nowhere, winning the match and the chance to face Heyman one on one. Paul tries to run away when security forces him into the ring. Punk finally has his hands on Heyman when Curtis hits Punk from behind with a low blow. Axel then handcuffs Punk’s hands behind his back so that Heyman can smack him around. Punk fights back by hitting Axel with a roundhouse kick and sweeping Heyman to the ground. Punk only gets a few more kicks in however before Curtis attacks him again from behind, this time with a chair. Axel then handed Heyman a kendo stick, and after Punk said to “make it count,” Heyman beat him with it while telling Punk that he loved him and fathered him. Curtis Axel just happens to be the guy Punk is facing in the ring, but the real feud of course is Punk versus Heyman. Heyman looks legitimately upset and betrayed every time he attacks Punk, making this so much more interesting to watch that any similar storyline before it. Heyman was practically crying by the end of this match. The in ring stuff was fine, but the storytelling was fantastic. Punk left the ring with a bloody and bruise back. Still looks better than Sheamus’ leg.

So much emotion
So much emotion

Total Divas plug match as Jojo announces Natalya (with the Funkadactyles) facing Brie (with Nikki and Eva Marie). Brie has control early and drops a sloppy stomp. Natalya then counters with a swinging power slam and applies the Sharpshooter. Eva Marie distracts the ref so that Nikki can pull Brie out of the ring. Brie gets back in, hits a face buster and wins the match. Whatever. AJ then comes out (thank god) to make fun of the show (while also promoting it). She calls them all cheap and expendable useless women who turned to reality because they aren’t good enough actresses. The Bellas keep telling her to say it to their face, which is weird because AJ is right in front of them. AJ says she worked her entire life to break down doors while the other Divas took the cheap way into 15 minutes of fame. AJ says the reality is that they will never be able to touch her, drops the mic and walks off. It was a pretty fantastic promo but sadly, Eva Marie and the Bellas don’t seem to give a damn as they start skipping around immediately after AJ leaves. But hey, Total Divas is on E! every Sunday night at 8:00 PM ET!

Not working for me
Not working for me

Ricardo Rodriguez comes out to announce Rob Van Dam (all these guest ring announcers) for his match against Alberto Del Rio. If RVD wins this match he gets a title shot at Night of Champions. Ricardo’s announcing just doesn’t feel right when it’s in english. That was the whole point of his existing after all. RVD starts strong with a monkey flip and knocks him out of the ring with a springboard kick that only kinda made contact. Del Rio turned the tide with an irish whip into the barricade and takes it back into the ring. After a double stomp he starts an “A-D-R” chant to mock the RVD chants. Del Rio tries a double ace handle off the top rope but Van Dam meets him with a spinning kick. Rob follows with rolling thunder for two, then hits a split-leg moonsault for another two count. Van Dam goes to the top rop for a frog splash but Alberto knocks him down with an enziguri for two. Del Rio is about to go for the arm breaker when Ricardo starts an RVD chant from the announce table. This distracts Alberto long enough for Van Dam to sneak a leg scissors roll up to pin Del Rio and earned his title shot. Solid match. Too bad they just gave away the PPV match.

Backstage, Josh Matthews is interviewing Ryback about bullying everybody. Ryback responds in a very Ryback way, by bullying Matthews and pushing him to the floor.

In the parking lot, Renee Young is talking to Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel about what happened to Punk. Axel says he experienced a beating he’ll never forget, while Heyman describes Punk as a child who just needs to keep being punished over and over again. Paul explains that he feels like a man right now, as he proved that he is someone Punk should never come up against. His eyes were totally red during the segment.

Hour three begins with Christian in the ring for his match against WWE Champion Randy Orton. Randy controls the pace early until Christian tosses him over the top rope, following up with a baseball slide. Apparently, Brodus Clay says that Christian lands the most authentic punches (aka real punches) on the roster. Of course a canadien doesn’t know how to pull punches. Orton bounces back with a dropkick and regains control with a knee lift to send him off the apron. Christian tries to come back with a swinging DDT off the top rope, but Orton slips away and pushes him off the top rope back to the outside. Christian is still pandering to the crowd as he gets a boot up on Orton and goes to the top rope. Randy then meets him up there to deliver a suplerplex. Christian plays possum and sneaks a small package but Orton kicks out, only for Christian to avoid an RKO and hit a flying cross body for two. Orton then escapes a Kill Switch but ends up getting hit with a sloppy tornado DDT for a two count. Christian tries to attack Orton from the apron but Randy pops up to lands a second rope DDT. Christian avoids an RKO however and lands a spear that only gets a two count. Christian again avoids an RKO and goes for a Kill Switch, but Orton pushes Christian into the ref, then pokes him in the eye and hits an RKO to take a pretty good match. Afterwards, Daniel Bryan shows up on the big screen. He talks about how pretty Orton’s escalade is, saying he deserves it as the face of the company. Bryan then asks if he would become the face of the company if he defeated Orton. Bryan then moves to the side, revealing that the escalade has “YES” spray painted all over it. Michael Cole dubbed it, a “YES-calade.” Yikes.

Afterwards, Maddox and Triple H are with Orton to look over the damage. Maddox explains how the crowd loved what happened and the locker room is laughing about it. Triple H then tells Brad to make every superstar that laughed at what happened to come out to the stage and watch what happens to Daniel Bryan. He adds that if any of them make any comment or funny look toward the ring, he will fire them on the spot.

Titus O’Neil out next with Darren Young in his corner to face Jack Swagger, who is accompanied by Cesaro and Zeb Colter. Colter accuses the PTP as being part of the countries poverty problem, which is maybe because they are black? Anyway, Swagger starts strong with a series of knees and shoulders in the corner, continuing the assault with a back body drop. O’Neil comes back with a running shoulder and tosses Swags over his head behind him. Jack bounces back quickly however, taking Titus’ leg out from under him. Jack pins Titus and puts his legs on the second rope for leverage, however Young knocks them off. Swagger yells at Darren and Titus uses the opportunity to drop him with a spine buster, winning the match. The PTP just can’t stop getting over on the Real Americans.

No live appearance from the Wyatt’s, but we do get a vignette talking about how sister Abigail (who his finisher is named after) chose him to save the world. There was a lot of other things I didn’t understand, but it what creepy whatever it was.

Backstage, Maddox is trying to get a doctor to look at Punk but he refuses. Punk says a doctor can’t help him, but Maddox can by giving him a match against Paul Heyman, regardless of what he has to do. Brad decides to book Punk in an elimination match against Heyman and Axel. Maddox says that if Heyman tries to back out you will not see him again. Punk says that if that happens we won’t see Maddox again either.

Move of the night
Move of the night

The entire roster, including Dolph Ziggler who did not have a match tonight (C’MON MAN!) is on the stage to watch Daniel Bryan in his gauntlet match against the Shield. Before the match starts, Renee Young tries to talk to Big Show, Dolph and Miz about what is happening, but they refuse to speak for fear of being fired. What happened to Big Show’s iron clad contract!? Bryan quickly gets Rollins in a Mexican surfboard to start the first match and clotheslines him out of the ring, taking himself out as well. Ambrose and Reins surround him on the outside as Seth drives Daniel into the barricade to get back in the match. Bryan bounces back with a backflip into a jumping clothesline, but misses a roundhouse kick as Seth drops his throat onto the top rope. Seth goes for his flying knee but Bryan turns it into a half crab. Seth reaches the rope to break the hold but Bryan dives through the ropes to knock him into the announce table. Back in the ring however, Rollins threw Daniel into the corner to regain control of the match. Rollins ran to the opposite corner to prepare an attack but Bryan ran right behind him to connect on a missile dropkick. A quick chain sequence of pin attempts followed, culminating in Rollins hitting a reverse suplex for a two count. Seth then went for a superplex, but Bryan slipped out and hit a german suplex off the top rope that caused Rollins to do a complete flip before landing. Bryan finished Seth off with a running knee (that the cameras somehow missed!) to get the win. Great first match.

Ambrose immediately runs in after the fall and stomps out Bryan. Daniel reverses a body slam and turns it into a YES Lock in the middle of the ring. Roman Reigns runs in to break up the hold and attack Bryan. This gives Bryan a DQ win against Dean but is now facing Reigns. Bryan pulls the same trick on Reigns and gets him in the YES Lock. It doesn’t take long before Rollins and Ambrose attack Bryan, with Roman finishing him off with a spear as the roster watches from the stage. Triple H comes out to stare down the wrestlers, daring them to do something that gets them fired. He gives the Shield the nod to hit Bryan with a triple power bomb, which is followed by Randy Orton coming out to land an RKO as Big Show specifically looks like he’s going to blow a gasket. The show ends with Triple H again daring anybody to say something to him and Daniel Bryan down in the ring. Heels are dominating lately and it’s pretty great. This is what makes the faces victory all the more satisfying. It’s why Cena’s stories fall flat so often. He never looks weak. Even when he’s injured. It’s similar to what is happening to Punk and Axel right now. Axel and Heyman get the upper hand at the end of each segment, but the matches are all Punk. We all know who the better wrestler is.

Bryan Beatdown 2: Electric Boogaloo
Bryan Beatdown 2: Electric Boogaloo

Night of Champions is in three weeks, and hopefully Bryan and Punk gets the snot kicked out of them every day until then.

Cena Officially Out, Orton Joins McMahon Family On Raw

RAW_1056_Photo_270-1Here’s where we stand after Summerslam:

Punk lost and is still pissed at Heyman, Orton is champ, Bryan is chasing him, Cena is out and Triple H is a heel.

Ready, set, GO!

Goodbye pus elbow
Goodbye pus elbow

John Cena runs out to start the show looking pretty chipper considering he just lost his WWE Championship. He has a nice black eye and somehow I think his elbow actually looks worse. He said Bryan earned the WWE Championship when Daniel beat him, even thanking him for bringing out the best that he had. He proceeded to announce that he suffered a torn tricep two weeks ago, which explains the disgusting elbow (apparently it is filled with puss EEEEEEW). He then talked about how he lost fair and square while being disgusted at how Triple H handed Orton the title moments later. Cena then made the announcement we already knew, saying that he will be out for the next four to six months to repair his arm. That puts him on track to return right around the Royal Rumble. Cena then brought out Daniel Bryan as “a man who earned the right to be called, champion.” Cena hands Daniel the microphone as if he was passing a torch and walks out, presumably only to be seen on Total Divas for the next four to six months. Bryan was just about to speak when Stephanie McMahon comes out. She is  currently the only unknown in this whole thing, seemingly not a part of Vince and Triple H’s plan. Steph sends her condolences about what happened at Summerslam, but then tries to defends Triple H by saying he only did what he thought was best for business. Bryan said he expected something like that to come from Vince or Stephanie, but not from Trips who was a rebel with DX. However now that he is wearing a suit and cut his hair, he has proven that when you lie down with trash (pointing at Stephanie OOOOH) you start to stink. Complicated burn right there. Steph says she will let that comment slide since he is so emotional over what happened, but Bryan snaps at her, asking if she is going to fire him. He says he isn’t afraid of being fired as he can just go back to wrestling is armories, but before he leaves he is going to give her a reason to fire him, whether it is against Triple H or Orton. Stephanie then says nobody wants to fire him and says he is valued in the company, but some people aren’t meant to be the face of the company. He clearly shows he alignment with Vine and Trips, saying Bryan isn’t an A but definitely a solid B+. Bryan responds by saying Stephanie is reminding him of a specific B-word right now, and says he doesn’t care what anybody thinks and can be WWE Champion. Daniel then smacks the mic out of Steph’s hand (uh oh), so Steph grabs another mic, tells him to calm down and has security remove him from the building. Daniel starts a NO chant and walks out, ending the segment. Plenty of drama but damn did it drag.

The first match of the night is a rematch between Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow. Cody is in control early, hitting a springboard missile dropkick and clotheslining Sandow over the top rope. Sandow started to turn the tide when he shoved Cody out of the ring and brought the match to a crawl. Much different from their fast and entertaining Summerslam bout. The crowd seems to agree with me. Rhodes went to the top rope but Damien arm dragged him back down to the mat, keeping the momentum. Apparently Mr Belding from Saved by the Bell is sitting behind the announcers! Cody got his comeback started with a backflip off the top rope, but Sandow avoided Cross Rhodes. Cody would hit a disaster kick but Sandow rolled to the rope to avoid being pinned. Damien dropped Cody’s throat on the top rope but Rhodes leaped over him in the corner, rolling him up to secure another win over his former partner. Fairly meh match.

Backstage, Brad Maddox revealed Dolph Ziggler reacting to last night’s finish to Summerslam by saying that he hasn’t trusted Triple H since he started working in the WWE. To keep Ziggler in check, Maddox booked him in a three on one handicap match against the Shield. Kinda looking forward to that.

Back from break, Paul Heyman is in the ring to address the crowd. He likens Punk to a rebellious child who left the nest to prove his self-worth. Paul admitted that Punk gave Lesnar all he can handle, but now it is time to end this family feud. After Brock defeated Punk, Paul says he realized this is not a time for retribution but a time for forgiveness. He forgives Punk and says that he will welcome him back into the fold if he apologizes. Heyman declares that if Punk returns to him he can bring him back to the top of the mountain. He walks out with no interruption. Good work by Heyman as always.

Divas tag action next as the Funkadactyles face Layla and AJ. I have to say one thing about Total Divas, if nothing else it is giving the ladies more ring time. Hopefully for them it translates into a better Divas division. The heels start by ambushing Cameron and Naomi before AJ officially starts the match by working over Naomi. Naomi backflips out of a back body drop but AJ hits her with a roundhouse kick and the crowd is chanting her name. There is a little more noise for a Divas match than there normally is. Layla gets tagged in and attacks Cameron so that she can’t get tagged in, but Naomi rolled her up from behind to steal a win. The good part of this match was AJ and Naomi keeping Cameron completely out of the ring. The bad part was Layla mugging the camera like a dope after losing. It made her look like she was acting in a silent film.

Time for Dolph Ziggler to try beating the Shield all by himself. I fully expect Mark Henry and the Big Show to provide support, possibly RVD too. It’s tag team rule so Ziggler has slightly more of a shot and starts off against Ambrose. The grapple a little as Dean tries to get Dolph into his corner while Dolph does everything he can to avoid it. Rollins comes in and after taking a few bumps, gets the upper hand and gets Ziggler in their corner where all three men take their shots at him. After getting beaten down for a while, Ziggler applies a sleeper on Ambrose. Dean reverses it into a sleeper of his own but Dolph gets out of it with a jawbreaker. Reigns then gets tagged in and is met with a dropkick as Ziggler gets going. He knocks Rollins off the apron and hits a Fame-Asser followed by a leaping DDT for a two count that is broken up by Seth. Ziggler then suplexes Rollins over the top rope and out of the ring, appearing to possibly injure Rollins’ knee on the landing. Dolph then tries a leaping splash on Roman in the corner, but Reigns comes out to spear Ziggler in mid-air to win the match. Really fun match to match to watch. After the bell, the Shield drop Ziggler with a triple power bomb and Reigns asked Rollins about his leg afterward. He said he was fine but I’m curious if anything more comes out of this.

World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio out next to face Sin Cara. ADR still looks like a mess with a black eye among other bruises on his face. Apparently this was the result of his being involved in a fight alongside Drew McIntyre against some random guys at a bar. Drew and Alberto both got roughed up and that can’t be good for Del Rio’s rep. He’s also now decorating the ring with tiny Mexican flags on the ring posts for his matches going forward, which looks really cheap. Alberto immediately goes on the offensive with a kick to the legs, but Cara bounces off the ropes and arm drags ADR out of the ring. Sin Cara dives out of the ring and immediately waves over to the ref. The ref takes a look at Cara and calls for the doctor on site to look at him, effectively ending the match. Del Rio tries to go forward with the attack but the referee stops him, and somebody (probably Alberto) is bleeped. So Sin Cara is escorted backstage and Del Rio cuts a promo about being a hero that latinos can root for since there are none. All of a sudden Ricardo Rodriguez comes out to the stage, telling ADR that he is no hero to the latin community. Ricardo then announces that he is now representing (no, not Rey Mysterio) Rob Van Dam! So that’s pretty weird. RVD goes to the ring and attacks Del Rio, who escapes the ring just in time to avoid a frog splash. So it looks like Rob Van Dam will challenge Alberto Del Rio at Night of Champions, but the real story here is Sin Cara. The word is that he suffered a dislocated finger, and the roster is pissed at him for being so quick to stop the match after everyone else was already so banged up coming off the PPV. Even further, Sin Cara is rumored to get in a really pissy mood when he is scheduled to lose (which is often), affecting his work in the ring and essentially making everyone else hate him.

I only need one of those fingers to show how I feel about Sin Cara
I only need one of those fingers to show how I feel about Sin Cara

The Prime Time Players make their first appearances as faces against the Real Americans. There was really no way to keep them as heels while having the first openly gay wrestler. Easily the biggest reaction PTP have ever gotten, and Darren Young gave his career a huge shot in the arm just by admitting the truth. He starts off against Cesaro, dropping him with a hip toss before doing the same to Swagger and tagging in Titus O’Neil. Cesaro throws up a big boot in the corner to stop Titus, who gets worked for a while by the Real Americans. The leapfrog stomp Cesaro does over Swagger always impresses me. Titus uses a spinebuster to slow Swagger and get Young in on a hot tag. He cleans house but has a bridge suplex broken up by Swagger. O’Neil knocks Jack out of the ring, allowing Darren Young to hit Cesaro with Gut Check to win the match. Perfectly acceptable tag team match but the more important thing was that the announcers did not address Young coming out and nor should they. Like I said yesterday, it shouldn’t matter what he does with his personal life.

Backstage, Big Show confirms that he will team up with Mark Henry to challenge Rollins and Reigns for the tag team titles. Brad Maddox then butts in to bring up how Show had some not so kind remarks about Triple H, and therefore puts him in a three on one handicap match against the Shield (so they are lackeys again?), with addition of all three Shield members to be allowed in the ring at once. So the precedent is set. Say something mean about Triple H or the McMahons, and you take on the Shield by yourself.

Over in the locker room, Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder are in the middle of a footlocker commercial. Fandango also loves sneakers.

Still backstage (are you kidding me?) Ryback is still acting like a high school bully, throwing a guy’s bag around the locker room, slapping him and making him fill the bag with water in the shower. Be a STAR everybody!

Smiling and hand shaking Big Show is back! Remember when he said he wasn’t going to do that anymore? Well neither does he I guess. The Shield come out and Show quickly throws Reigns out of the ring and beats down Ambrose and Rollins in the corner. Dean and Seth get thrown out next as Roman runs in, only to be flattened with a Big Show spear.  Show continues working over Ambrose and Rollins and has an extra jump in his step. Rollins takes out Show’s leg as he and Ambrose steal some momentum. Rollins is still selling his knee injury as he drops Show with a flying knee to the head. They try to suplex Show but Show blocks it and suplexes them both at the same time. Reigns comes back in the ring however the flatten Big Show with a spear. The Shield then finishes off the Big Show with a triple power bomb, as they all cover him at once to get the pin. That’s now two quality three on one Shield matches.

CM Punk limps out next to address the crowd coming off his loss to Brock Lesnar. He keys on one man who boos him, and says that if he got into the ring right now he would never boo again because Punk would render him a toothless crying heap of a man. He dares him to come into the ring if he has the balls, calling him fatso before telling him to be a man or be a bitch and sit down. That was awesome and Punk is jacked up right now, after hearing Paul Heyman promise Punk a title and a WrestleMania main event if he apologizes for leaving him. CM then tells Heyman to come out because he might just get what he wants. Paul come out with Curtis Axel and hears Punk explain how wrestling is all he knows and that he is sorry, sorry that he let Heyman distract him to cost Punk the win against Lesnar just for a little revenge, and that revenge wasn’t enough. Punk says he’s sorry he didn’t tear his arm off and break his face, promising that the next time he gets his hands on Heyman he will choke him out, wake him up and spit in his face. This is getting a little weird. Basically, Punk is set on getting his revenge and wants it right now. Heyman of course doesn’t take the bait, instead sending Axel to the ring for a fight. Not a match but a fight. Punk goes after Axel and quickly sends his face into a steel chair he had in the ring. The action goes outside as Axel and Punk trade blows. I’m surprised Punk is doing anything like this after the Lesnar match. CM tosses Axel over the barricade and diving over it before dropping Curtis with a ring bell to the gut. Back in the ring, Axel slips out of a GTS and attacks Punk’s injured leg, drilling it with the steel chair. Punk gets laid out with a turning face buster and Axel looks to break his leg by jumping on it from the top rope with the chair wrapped around it. Punk rolls away however, attacking Axel with the chair and knocking him out by dropping his face onto the steel steps outside. With his leg to injured to run after him, Heyman escapes up the ramp to end the segment. So Punk isn’t done with Heyman but Axel isn’t much of a challenge for him. Not sure how they book Punk for Night of Champions.

Punk versus the fat man
Punk versus the fat man

R-Truth is the lucky man to face Bray Wyatt in his first match on Raw. His debut against Kane at Summerslam was a complete dud so this has to at least be a step up. Truth holds his own at first, hitting a spinning kick on Bray before being dropped with some type of sideways spear. Bray knocks out Truth with the HO Train before finishing him off with Sister Abigail for the win. It was short but it was a hell of a lot better at selling the Wyatt’s as being dangerous than the ring of fire match did.

It appears that Epico and Primo are being retooled as Los Matadores. Yup. Two matadors who wrestle. It looks a lot like Tito Santana’s horrible El Matador gimmick.

Speaking of tag teams, 3MB is set to face the Usos. McIntyre is the odd man out this time it what is either a coincidence or directly because of the fight he allegedly got into over the weekend with Del Rio. The Usos quickly take control over Slater, but the tide changes when Drew interferes with a kick to Jimmy’s head on the outside. An enziguri to Slater allows Jay to get the hot tag, laying out Mahal with a running stink face in the corner. Jay then leaps over the top rope to take out Slater and McIntyre outside the ring, while simultaneously tagging Jimmy in mid-air, allowing Jimmy to hit a splash off the top rope to win the match. Poor 3MB.

One last midcard match as the Miz faces Wade Barrett because why not. Miz quickly hits his leaping clothesline but Barrett responds with a big boot. Remember these guys facing off at Summerslam? I care just as much about them now as I did then. Wade hits a second big boot with Miz tangled on the rope and is in full control. Miz fights through “let’s go Barrett” chants to tie Wade’s leg into the ropes and attack it. Barrett initially avoids the figure four but Miz secures it coming out of a sunset flip. It’s locked in until Fandango hits Miz with the top rope leg drop, ending the match via DQ. I imagine that’s another bout that will take place on the upcoming PPV.

Completely normal hug
Completely normal hug

A coronation ceremony for new WWE Champion Randy Orton closes out the show, as the entire roster is on the stage to watch, with the Shield acting as security at the bottom of the ramp, as Brad Maddox informed Steph that Daniel Bryan has returned to the arena. Vince, Steph and Triple H stand in the ring as Vince congratulates Trips for seeing the light. Triple H says he did what he did to preserve the future of the company (he did it in a very long winded way but that was the gist). He says that he considers him a friend and is a fan of his, even deserving to win the match against Cena. But he does not see him as the WWE Champion and face of the company, saying that the fans deserve better than that. He even says that he hated to do that do Bryan, who worked so hard for 15 years, in order to give the title to a man he has so much bad blood with in Orton. He says he buried all of his personal feelings to do what was right for the fans, and that Bryan is selfish for having problem with it. It’s interesting how his delivered and themes stayed the same as a face as it is now as a heel. Triple H then introduces the new face of the WWE, Randy Orton. Randy shakes hands with Vince and Trips and gets big hug from Stephanie (not weird at all). He thanks Triple H and tells the crowd to stand up and show him respect. It’s odd how little attention the WWE Champion is getting on his first appearance as champion. It’s all about Triple H right now, and he asks Daniel Bryan to come out and say whatever he needs to say in order to move on with his “little” career. He even has the Shield move away as they probably look too intimidating to him. He even starts a YES chant and has his music play to make him feel welcome. Daniel finally walk out from the side of the stage toward the ring when the Shield ambush him. Bryan fights back however and takes out the Shield by himself. Daniel again moves toward the ring when Reigns lays him out with a spear. They were about to powerbomb him when Triple H stops them, again inviting him into the ring to talk. The moment he gets in the ring Randy Orton hits his with an RKO and Orton holds his hands up with the McMahons over Bryan to end the show.

Rough night for Daniel Bryan
Rough night for Daniel Bryan

There hasn’t been a show in while that was all about the heels being in control, and this show definitely had that. The Shield certainly found a new angle so that the Wyatt’s can take over as the group that randomly takes people out. Meanwhile Miz/Fandango, RVD/ADR, Henry and Big Show versus The Shield and Orton/Bryan make for a more unique potential PPV card than we’ve seen in a while, which was bound to happen with Cena, Lesnar, Sheamus and Kane suddenly gone. I’m still curious what Punk will do at Night of Champions, but the rest of the card looks to be set.

Triple H Helps Orton Takes WWE Title From Bryan At Summerslam

SS13_Photo_295The WWE’s second biggest Pay Per View is here and it’s looking like the last stand for a few big names. As expected, Brock Lesnar is due for some time off and might not appear again until closer to WrestleMania. That makes a Punk win even more likely (despite having the upper hand going in) and makes me wonder what Heyman will do with only Curtis Axel in his stable on the active roster. Kane is also supposed to go off tour for a while, making the ring of fire match a perfect way to write him off for a while and build up Bray Wyatt. Finally there is John Cena, who is rumored to be taking time off for the football in his elbow to properly heal. That certainly increases the chances of Daniel Bryan winning while also making a Randy Orton MITB run in more likely.

Even though I don’t want to, I should take a moment to mention Darren Young becoming the first openly gay WWE Superstar. I don’t want to mention it because it shouldn’t matter. You are who you are and it shouldn’t have any impact on anything at all. However it is a brave thing for Young to do in our society, and especially in the business he is in. I’m sure he’ll be well received in the bigger cities and TV sites, but I do wonder what the fan reaction to him will be in smaller tour sites that aren’t known to be as tolerant. I’m sure he will encounter his share of idiots, but I have to think it will mostly be positive. The only thing I really don’t want to see is the WWE making a story out of this. It’s impossible for them to ignore and featuring it on the website is fine. It’s a legit headline, I get that. But we don’t have to have a wrestler oppose him BECAUSE he’s gay or anything that forced. While I’m hopeful that the WWE will take the high road, I do fear that it will be very hard for the WWE to resist a chance to take advantage of this attention by having this story incorporated into the in-ring product.

During the pre-show, Rob Van Dam looked poised to take Dean Ambrose’s United States Championship when the rest of the Shield came out. Before they could attack RVD, Mark Henry and Big Show came out as well so that the match could continue without interference. Van Dam hit the frog splash but Roman Reigns came in after to hit a spear, ending the match via DQ after all. Show and Henry ran in as the Shield made their exit, and it’s looking like a 6 man tag match could be added to tonight’s card. Very good match.

The real show starts with a whimper, as the Miz takes the stage to do whatever he’s supposed to do as host. He goes through the two main events before getting cut off by Fandango. He dances for a while, Miz says “really?” and they move on to the intro. Ugh. JoJo then sang the national anthem. Lillian Garcia got robbed.

The first match of the night is the ring of fire match (Johnny Cash must be proud) between Kane and Bray Wyatt. Bray blowing out the light doesn’t have the same impact when nobody is in the ring when the lights come back on. The fire ignites and Kane immediately takes control. After a few minutes Bray dodges a dive in the corner, and finally administers a little offense. Kane bounces back with a sidewalk slam and the family tries to get a kendo stick in the ring (yes, a wooden stick) which of course lights on fire. The fellas then run away from the stick as a fireman extinguishes it. This is a dopey as the Wyatt’s have looked. After a couple of chokeslams, Kane calls for a tombstone when the Wyatt’s put a blanket over the flames, allowing them to enter the ring and attack Kane. They take him out and pull up Bray, who hits his finisher and wins the match in a very underwhelming matter. The crowd was mostly dead aside from the thought of maybe seeing a tombstone. After the match, the Wyatt’s put Kane’s head on half the steel steps, dropping the other half on his head, officially taking him off duty for a while. Absolutely horrible match. Crowd hated it and so do I. They turned off the lights and walked Kane out of the building. Bray showed very little offense in his first official match. From now on, I will refer to this as Fandango’ing.

What a waste of fire
What a waste of fire

Damien Sandow out next to face Cody Rhodes. Cody Rhodes shaved his mustache and I just realized how similar his hoodie vest thing was the Layla’s. The pace is fast and back and forth until Sandow takes control with a sweep kick to knock Cody off the apron. Rhodes then attempted to hit Cross Rhodes, but Sandow rolled out of it and hit the elbow of disdain to keep his momentum. Cody stole that momentum with a springboard dropkick, but missed on a disaster kick to give it right back. Rhodes then connected on the kick for a two count. After another short exchange, Cody landed Cross Rhodes and picked up the victory. Short and satisfying match. This should have opened.

World Heavyweight Championship now on the line as Alberto Del Rio defends against Christian in the least interesting match possible. Ricardo Rodriguez was the best thing about Del Rio and Alberto turned on him. Since Ricardo isn’t around, ADR made Lillian announce him in spanish. Los UGH! Christian slaps Del Rio and tosses him out of the ring, then slapping him again on the top rope. Alberto slipped away from a superback body drop, hitting an enziguri on Christian sitting on the top rope, leaving him in the tree of woe where he attacked Christian’s shoulder injury. Del Rio would continue working the shoulder and we have a major storyline to tell, specifically after ADR lands a drop kick on the shoulder. Christian fights back with a top rope dropkick and goes to the top again for a cross body splash. Del Rio, who already has a bloody nose, misses an enziguri and Christian hits the splash for two. Christian then goes for the second rope moonsalt but Del Rio catches him with a backstabber off the turnbuckle for a two count. Christian goes for a sunset flip off the top rope but ADR holds on to the top rope. Christian then falls and dropkicks Del Rio on the turnbuckle, setting up a top rope hurricarrana for a two count. Christian then went for a spear but ADR met him with a missile dropkick for two. That was a great move and the crowd is waking up. Del Rio goes for a side kick but Christian ducks out and rolls up Alberto for a two count. Christian immediately follows up with a spear but injures his shoulder, keeping him from covering. Del Rio takes advantage and applies the cross arm breaker, getting Christian to tap after he nearly rolled over to the rope. I hate to admit it, but I really enjoyed this match. Afterwards, ADR cut a promo to pander to the mexican fans in Los Angeles, and this was as close to being a face as he can get right now. Pretty good pop for him all things considered.

Backstage, Miz interviewed Maria Menounos to bring up Total Divas and Maria’s victory with Natalya against Brie and Eva Marie. Fandango then cut in again to dance, so Miz danced with Maria to show them up. So I guess Miz and Fandango are going to have a thing.

More Divas action as Natalya face Brie one on one with the Funkadactyles, Nikki and Eva Marie all ringside. Brodus Clay has to be bitter that his dancers get on the card over him. Brie does a flip and they exchange slaps for a minute. Natty then takes control until Eva and Nikki pull the apron out from under her, taking her down so that Brie can hit her with a baseball slide. Natalya gets worked over for a while until she powers out of an arm lock to hit an Alabama Slam, following up with a Sharpshooter to win the match via submission. Hey did you know Total Divas is on E! Sunday nights at 8?

Backstage, Ryback is pissed because his soup is cold (even though its gazpacho), and pours it all over the guy running the craft service table. Be a Star guys.

Flying chair shot
Flying chair shot

CM Punk and Brock Lesnar get their match right in the middle of the show, and I am very surprised about it. Lesnar immediately powers Punk into the corner and drives his shoulder into him. Punk lands a couple of weak kicks but Brock keeps overpowering him, setting theme of the biggest being the best. Punk comes back with a running knee to knock Lesnar out of the ring, following up with a dive through the ropes to take Lesnar down. Punk tries to use the steel steps but Lesnar shoves them into Punk’s face. CM slides away from Brock however and pushes him into the steel post. He quickly follows up with an attack off the top rope and another off the announce table. Furious pace to the match, as Punk takes advantage of Brock being down to go after Heyman. Lesnar got up of course to stop Punk, throwing him over the spanish announce table into a spanish announcer. Lesnar continues the assault from there, hitting a huge belly to belly suplex and is in total control. Lesnar caught Punk going for a top rope cross body splash, hitting a fall away slam as Heyman calls for Brock to finish him. After being put in a chin lock, Punk pulls a Mike Tyson and bites Lesnar’s ear to start his comeback! Punk hits a series of kicks to stun Brock, taking him down with a knee off the top rope. CM follows with a pair of high knees in the corner. He misses with the third, but avoids an F-5 to drop Lesnar with a roundhouse kick. Punk then follows with a flying elbow for a two count and has all the momentum. He calls for the GTS but Brock slips out and goes for an F-5. Punk slips out again though to go for a GTS, only Lesnar locks in the kimura lock. Punk looks like he’s in trouble until he slides out and applies the triangle hold in the middle of the ring. Brock powers Punk up to hit a powerbomb but Punk doesn’t let go of the hold. Finally Lesnar gets Punk up for another big powerbomb and the hold is finally broken. Hell of a match and it looks like there is a lot more left.

Lesnar takes control again with a trio of suplexes, going to the outside for a chair. While he’s on the outside, Punk goes for a splash from the top rope, which Brock partially blocks by using the chair as a shield. CM starts hitting Punk with the chair on the outside until Brock manages to take the chair. Punk hits a low blow to get the chair back, going to the top rope to tag Lesnar with a flying chair shot that only gets a two count. The crowd is now yelling ECW as Punk drops some F-bombs and hits a few chair shots. Heyman pulls the chair away so Punk grabs Heyman by throat. Lesnar then goes for an F-5 but Punk avoids it by holding onto Heyman’s tie, eventually landing a GTS. Heyman runs in to stop the 3 count, and Lesnar uses the distraction to get Punk up for an F-5. Punk counters by landing a falling DDT for a two count, but immediately locks in the Anaconda Vice. It looks like Lesnar is going to tap out when Heyman runs in with a chair. Punk gets up and takes out Heyman with a punch and an Anaconda Vice that is only broken up when Lesnar attacks him with the chair. Brock then finishes off CM with an F-5 onto the chair and gets the pin to end an absolutely ridiculous match. That had everything.

This photo sums up the entire match and story
This photo sums up the entire match and story

Time for the mixed tag match as DOLPH ZIGGLER teams up with Kaitlyn to face AJ and Big E Langston. Dolph hits a quick drop kick but Big E answers with a power slam into an abdominal stretch and a slap from AJ before Ziggler hit another dropkick so that he can tag in Kaitlyn. AJ took control of Kaitlyn with a couple of neck breakers and applied a sleeper hold. I can’t get over Dolph being wasted in matches like this. Kaitlyn escaped and dropped AJ with a flying shoulder, leading to the boys being tagged in. Dolph takes charge with 10 elbows but Langston hits a back breaker and goes for a pin. Kaitlyn breaks it up and AJ knocked her out of the ring. AJ then grabbed Dolph’s foot coming off the ropes to distract him. Kaitlyn dropped AJ with a spear outside the ring as Langston dropped Ziggler. Langston then goes for the Big Ending, but Dolph escapes and hits the Zig Zag to win the match. Not horrible, but not good. Hopefully Ziggy can move toward another WHC title shot.

Backstage Fandango interrupted the Miz one more time and got punched in the face for it. Fantastic. Moving on to the main event.

I've never seen this before
I’ve never seen this before

All parties involved get their expected reactions and Triple H took the time to shake both men’s hand and they start off with some grappling. Cena has a big pad over his elbow to protect his gross football thing. Before long they go into the same spot they had during a match they had on WWE Velocity in 2003. Cena shows off his power but also throws in a few extra wrestling moves as well like a bridge. On the outside, Cena hits Bryan with a suplex off the steps onto the floor. That got a big reaction from the crowd but was soon followed with a “you still suck” from the crowd. Back in the ring, Cena hits a falling powerbomb and is in total control. Just as I type that, Bryan comes back with a series of kicks, but misses the roundhouse as Cena starts the five moves of doom. Bryan kicks Cena before he can hit the five knuckle shuffle and hits a missile drop kick. Cena is selling his elbow injury hard and Bryan starts to work it, getting a little more sinister in his attacks. Cena then goes for an STF but Bryan reverses to apply the YES Lock. Cena heads toward the ropes so Daniel pulls him back and hits a few german suplexes and reapplying the hold. Cena then powers out, only for Bryan to lock in another submission. John eventually powers out and rolls away. Cole makes a point to say that Cena’s face is a mess as John sneaks an AA out of nowhere for a two count. Cena then goes to the top rope and Cena hits him with a dropkick. He goes for it again but Cena pushes him back, only Bryan runs back and hits him with another dropkick. Bryan follows with a suplerplex and holds onto the turnbuckle with his legs, pulling himself up to hit a flying headbutt for a two count. With Cena on the outside, Daniel tries to dive through the ropes but Cena meets him with a leaping shoulder. He follows with the legdrop off the top rope for a two count. Cena then takes Bryan to the second rope to attempt an AA, but Daniel fights back. He attempts and hurricarrana but Cena holds on and drops Daniel on his head from the second rope! Cena drags Bryan to the middle of the ring and applies to STF. Bryan looks like he is fading when he slips out and applies the YES Lock, forcing Cena to reach the rope in order to break it. Triple H makes his presence known for the first time by asking Cena about his elbow injury. He says he’s okay just in time for Bryan to hit him with a couple of dropkicks in the corner. John prevents a third by running out with essentially a clothesline from hell. The two trade blows from here, taking each other out with leaping shoulders. As they stand up, Cena slaps Bryan, calling back to Raw where Bryan refused to slap him as they do in Japan out of tradition. This time Bryan slaps him back and they have a slap off. Bryan goes for his back flip but Cena catches him and goes for an AA. Bryan turns it into a falling DDT for a two count. Bryan then goes for a cross body splash but Cena catches him, again going for an AA. Bryan escapes again, to attempt a roll up. Cena kicks out on two but gets hit with a roundhouse kick. Bryan then runs out of the corner with a huge running knee to knock out John Cena and win the WWE Championship! That was fantastic. That was the best running knee I’ve ever seen. Cena was as good as he’s ever been and Bryan rose to the occasion. After the match, Cena got up and, along with Trips, congratulated Bryan on his win. Confetti. Explosions. It’s a Daniel Bryan love fest.

What could have been
What could have been

UNTIL RANDY ORTON CAME OUT! He’s walks down the ramp with the briefcase and Daniel Bryan is gesturing for him to use it. Orton starts to turn back up the ramp when Triple H turns heel and hits Bryan with the Pedrigree! Orton walks into the ring, hands Trips the case and pins Bryan for to take the WWE Championship. Awesome swerve and a great way to end the show. The crowd ate it up too. I don’t want to act like I knew it was coming, but it had crossed my mind that Vince would see Randy Orton as the ideal man to wear his WWE Championship since he was against both Bryan and Cena. The Triple H turn was a nice add-on though. He waited just long enough to make me think there would be no swerve. I can see Cena coming back at Survivor Series to join Bryan in a tag match against Trips and Orton.

Overall, the PPV could have just been the two main events and I would have been happy. The rest of the card was okay at best but was completely saved by Punk/Lesnar and Cena/Bryan. They must have known this would be the case based on the order of the card. I was curious why Punk/Lesnar was in the middle but it brought a dying crowd back to life in time for Cena and Bryan (and eventually Triple H and Orton) to close things out. I really can’t remember a PPV having bigger payoff than this one. Now we get to watch Daniel Bryan chase Randy Orton for the WWE Championship while Cena takes time to heal up and the newly reunited McMahon family stand in the way.

One last thing. Do you think we can stop telling John Cena he sucks for a while? I’m not really a fan of his but it’s pretty clear that he steps up his game to match whoever he is facing. Put him against the Rock or Ryback and you get a slow sloppy mess. Put him against Bryan, Punk or Ziggler and you get a high quality epic. He’s pretty damn good. He just needs to right people to bring it out of him.

Shield Banned From Rock/Punk Match After Attack On Raw

RAW_1026_Photo_135You don’t need to be a smark to notice that last week’s 20th anniversary show was nothing special. Aside from some montages there was no big hoopla. No big guest appearances. It was average at best. The only things that did come out of it were Eve losing the Divas Championship and quitting (to get married and become a trainer or something) and CM Punk continuing to have the edge on the Rock. Punk has come out and been the aggressor on both confrontations so far. He has come out first to essentially tell everyone that the Rock is going to do the same tired schtick he has done for years, and it doesn’t matter because Punk is just going to beat him in the ring. Then the Rock comes out and does the same old schtick, proving Punk right and not hitting quite as hard as he did with Cena last year. Not only that, but Punk went after Rock last week starting a brawl. What kind of heel does that? Against Ryback, Punk was the coward. He ran away whenever possible and looked week. Classic heel form. But now he’s dropping pipe bombs and fighting back again. This is the kind of Punk that grabbed everyone’s attention over a year ago. If only the rest of the show can reach that same level. With one week before the Royal Rumble (where the Rock is expected the beat Punk and Cena wins the rumble) business needs to pick up.

Oh yeah, happy Martin Luther King Day.

Vickie Guerrero kicks off the show (not the start I was hoping for) by going to the ring while being escorted by Paul Heyman (interesting). They were the main people to be dissed by Rock during his concert last week, and are joining forces against him. Heyman even went on to describe Vickie as the best and sexiest GM in WWE history (funny since she isn’t GM). Vickie decides to ban Rock from entering the arena, and will be arrested if he does show up. Vickie is then alerted to the fact that the Rock is outside the arena, and she cuts to the Rock telling the guards that he will get in the ring no matter what. Rock then tells the police to arrest Punk for impersonating a champion, Paul Heyman for not wearing a bra, and that Guerrero has her head up her ass if she thinks she’s keeping him out of the ring. Rock says it’s a matter of when, not if he gets in the ring tonight. Guerrero finished the segment by asking if we smell what the “Vick” is cooking. Not interested.

The card for tonight features the “Beat The Clock Challenge” in which the superstar who wins his match the fastest can choose where he will enter the Royal Rumble. The first match of the challenge puts the American flag waving Antonio Cesaro against the disgruntled Randy Orton. Both men start the match by trying roll up pins, then switching to trading head locks. Cesaro wants the ref to ask Orton if he quits in the middle of a headlock. This match bites and for the most part, Orton is in charge. Seven minutes in (they are keeping a timer on screen) Cesaro puts up Orton for a superplex. Orton fights him off so Cesaro shoves him off the top rope to the outside of the ring. A gut wrench suplex gets a two count as does a swinging body slam. Orton then sets up for the second rope DDT but Cesaro turns it into a jackknife cutter for a 2 count, then hits Orton with an uppercut for another 2 count. Orton rolls out of the ring after being tossed into the ring post, and when Cesaro throws him back in he glances at the clock and Randy takes advantage of the distraction by hitting an RKO to win the match at 11:36. One of those classic Orton matches where the opponent dominates, only to get hit with an RKO out of nowhere to lose the match. Pretty sure 11:36 isn’t going to do it.

Squash of the night
Squash of the night

Zack Ryder out next to job to Big Show. Show will get a rematch at the Royal Rumble against Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship in another last man standing match. It turns out the only reason Del Rio got the title in the first place was because the Big Show’s contract had expired and it was possible that that would be his last match with the WWE. Show has now agreed to a new contract and while it doesn’t appear that Alberto will lose the title anytime soon, it will be interesting to see where they go with Big Show from here. Brad Maddox hops over the barrier to add commentary (not sure how he gets to without a contract) as Big Show hits Ryder with some punches in the corner, a head butt, a body slam, a chop and finally a KO Punch to end the match. Show then grabs a mic and starts counting to 10 with Ryder still down, showing what will happen to Del Rio. The crowds gives him the “what” chant, setting Show off. He yells back at the crowd and storms off. Maddox takes a picture of himself and Cole before taking off.

Backstage Maddox is still trying to get Paul Heyman help him get a job in the WWE. Instead of berating him like he normally doesn, Heyman says he respects Maddox’s ambition and initiative, and tells Brad he will make his dreams come true. Say what?

In the ring, Ryback is taking on Heath Slater with the rest of 3MB in his corner. Ever see a Ryback match that didn’t involve CM Punk? That’s what this was. After the meathook clothesline, McIntyre jumps in and gets knocked out by Ryback. Ryback then pulls Mahal in and throws him into McIntyre outside the ring. Slater gets hit with Shell Shocked and wins the match. He then grabs the mic and says “Damn, my job is fun.” (WTF!?) He continues to say that he was made for the Royal Rumble and that he will win it and go to WrestleMania. He needs a manager in the worst way.

Backstage, the Rock is still trying to talk his way into the arena. He tells the cops that the people want him in the arena. One cop says that he had tickets for tonight’s show but he had to work instead. Rock was going to try getting the cop’s ticket but Vickie stepped in. Vickie says she’ll lift the ban if he apologizes. Rock says he’ll get in the arena on his own terms and that Vickie still looks horrible. Vickie storms off and the Rock looks like he’s getting the police involved in a plan to get into the arena.

CM Punk in the ring to address the crowd. Yes, there are a couple of cookie puss signs but, based on how they look, the San Jose crowd doesn’t seem to know what that actually means yet. Punk says he holds the WWE Championship more dearly than most people hold their families. He worked half his life to get it and he won’t allow anyone, including the Rock, to take it from him. The Rock is here to entertain and tell jokes while he is here to hurt people and be the champion. Punk says he has made the WWE Championship too important to let the Rock have it, while what is important to the Rock is the people, which is stupid. He says the Rock is almost as proud of being the people’s champion as Punk is of being a real champion. Punk says he chose honest arrogance over hypocritical humility while the Rock foolishly chose the people instead. Punk says you can call the Rock electrifying and entertaining but you can’t call him champion but it takes blood, sweat and tears, and Punk has earned that right. Punk tells the Rock to enjoy the days leading up to the Royal Rumble, spalling hands and winking at fans, because Punk realized that the fans don’t matter. They can’t give the Rock the title and it will stay with CM Punk. Great promo. He was staring daggers through the camera the entire time. Fantastic. Too bad he’s going to lose on Sunday.

Really? This is a figure four? Really?
Really? This is a figure four? Really?

Dolph Ziggler out with AJ and Big E in another beat the clock match against the Miz. Miz starts strong with a dropkick and a roll up but can’t get the 3 count. The pace is very fast with a lot of back and forth pin sequences. The crowd is all Ziggler. No wonder they want to turn him face soon. Miz takes out Ziggler’s knee and starts wearing it down. They are really going through with Miz using the figure four. He goes for it but Ziggler pushes him out of the ring. Dolph distracts the ref while Langston shoves Miz into the ring. Ziggler maintains control but with four minutes left to beat Orton’s time, Miz pulls off a couple of surprise roll ups but can’t keep him down. Miz then hits a double axe handle off the top rope for another 2 count. Miz goes for a Skull Crushing Finale but Ziggler rolls him up. Miz then rolls Dolph over for his own pin attempt, grabbing the tight and showing Dolph’s ass in the process (to which Cole says “any means necessary!”). Ziggler kicks out and hits a jumping DDT for a two count. Miz then applies a horrible version of the figure four. I mean really bad. AJ then distracts the ref so Big E can pull Dolph toward the rope to break the hold. Langston then fakes hitting Miz to distract him long enough for Ziggler to land a Zig Zag  and take the win with 40 seconds to spare. Very good match and I can’t believe Miz gets the use the figure four. The new time to beat is 10:56.

Today, we're all tag team champions
Today, we’re all tag team champions

Back from break, Dr. Shelby is in the ring for an Anger Management graduation ceremony! I know you’re wondering if they are wearing caps and gowns and you’re damn right they are! Bryan even slicked his hair to the side for the occasion. Shelby says Bryan used to freak out if anyone said something about his goat face or how his beard looks like a hotel for rats (burn!), to which Kane calms him down. Shelby says that the top student is named valedictorian, and asks Kane and Bryan who they think it should be. They each say the other should be valedictorian and should share their feelings. They start arguing until Shelby stops them, suggesting that a hug would make them feel better. Shelby continues to say everyone, everywhere should hug, including Cole and Lawler. They then start pointing at random people in the audience making them hug, finally culminating in Kane, Bryan and Dr Shelby having a huge hug session to end the segment. What a way to end anger management. Let’s watch them lose their tag team titles on Sunday due to not getting along.

A much more glammed up Kaitlyn beat Alicia Fox with a spear after a missed high kick from Alicia. Fox actually looked pretty good in the match but she isn’t allowed to win anymore.

Backstage, Heyman sends Punk up to his personal skybox for what he is calling a “Paulbomb” aimed at the Rock. Heyman dedicates his speech at Punk, who is alone in the skybox like he snuck in somehow. He says that when Punk spoke, most of what he said went over the heads of the fans, so he will translate for them by keeping it simple. He says Vince McMahon is so desperate to have someone take the WWE Championship from Punk, that he has turned to the Rock who is just as stupid as the fans are if he thinks he is going to stop Punk’s title run. The Rock then comes out with the police officer’s ticket (which does let him in the arena) and gets in the ring (it does NOT allow him to do that). Heyman starts to make my point, but Rock calls him twinkie tits and makes him leave (I miss twinkies). With Punk still watching, Rock tells Punk this is his last Raw as champion and that despite all the entertaining he will still rip Punk’s face off. Rock promises a dozen times or so that he will beat Punk at the Royal Rumble. At the end of his speech the lights go out and the Shield starts attacking Rock. Triple power bomb and Rock is out. Punk then grabs a mic and says Rock isn’t great enough to beat the best in the world. Rock was spitting blood the entire time. Shiny candy blood. There needs to be a stipulation put in at some point where if there is any outside interference Punk loses the title. Otherwise Punk only loses because the Shield missed their flight or something.

I'd be distracted too
I’d be distracted too

The final beat the clock match puts Sheamus against Wade Barrett. This match is a lot more like the Orton/Cesaro match. I lot of clutching and sizing each other up. If time was a factor why wouldn’t Sheamus at least hint and trying a Brogue Kick right away? With five minutes remaining Barrett is in control but Sheamus hits a couple of running axe handles to take it back. Wade escapes white noise but Sheamus escapes a pump handle slam only for Barrett to duck under the Brogue Kick and hit Sheamus with a side kick to the gut and another one to the face with Sheamus on his knees. With two minutes to go Barrett hits an elbow off the second rope for a two count. Sheamus escapes Wasteland and hits White Noise with just over a minute to go. Sheamus sets Wade up for a Brogue Kick but AJ walks in the ring (with Ziggler and Langston ringside) to distract him. Barrett then hits a swinging side slam on Sheamus and the match continues. Sheamus hits a Brogue Kick with four seconds left but there isn’t enough time to pin him and Dolph Ziggler gets to pick what spots he enters the Royal Rumble at. Why can’t they just say you win the 30th spot in the rumble? Would someone pick anything else? 28? 15? Of course you want to go last. It’s a fine gimmick for the night but now we have to wait for the decision on where Dolph wants to enter? So dumb. Meanwhile I’m kind of annoyed he’ll be going in last. He’s a prime candidate to carry the rumble and be in for over an hour. Now he’ll be last and likely get thrown out last by Cena. Damn shame.

Backstage Dolph and AJ celebrate by making out in front of Vickie (my wife calls this the worst fake kissing ever, and she watches soaps). Ziggler of course goes with 30 but Vickie informs him that he only one the chance to choose between first and second at the rumble (what a twist!). See above for my thoughts on that. Punk and Heyman then run into Vince McMahon backstage and deny their involvement in the Shield incident. Vince then adds the stipulation that I suggested earlier, and if the Shield interferes in the Rock/Punk match CM Punk will be stripped of his title. Rock is soooo winning on Sunday. It would be incredibly epic if Punk retained though (leading to Rock winning at Elimination Chamber of course). Don’t be surprised if Brad Maddox ends up being the referee of the match.

Supermexican and World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio out, again without the car) to take on Tensai (which means buried in Japanese). Del Rio is Kofi Kingston happy right now. Tensai gets all his offense in early but Del Rio gets a boot up as Tensai came running in and it’s all Alberto from there. He gets the crowd chanting as he delivers the enziguri and finishes the match with a moonsalt of all things (that he just barely hits). Del Rio then says that he’ll beat Big Show on Sunday and counts to ten in spanish. Because he is spanish. Hey did you know Alberto Del Rio is from Mexico? Roberto Rodriguez gets another SI chant going and we’re done with wrestling for the night. Best match was Miz/Ziggler (no surprise) but none of them were that great.

It was announced that Bob Backlund will join Mick Foley to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. I’m surprised he wasn’t in there already. He held the title for 6 years for crying out loud!

Because why not?
Because why not?

The show finishes with John Cena addressing the crowd. Yup, that’s all he has to do today. He talks about how Sunday’s are for rest and having fun and makes a Black Ops II reference, admitting that his user name is skidmarks187. This is how the show is ending people! He always explains the Sunday of a girl who went out the night before and works out and hooks up with a fat guy and something about Brett Favre’ing (“and I don’t mean throwing a touchdown”). He then says this Sunday is different because of the Royal Rumble and how great it’s gonna be and blah blah blah. It’s not a promo about him winning. He’s just telling us to watch the event. They don’t do that enough already? Three hours of Raw each week, two hours of Smackdown, Main Event, Saturday Morning Slam. All they do is tell us to buy the next PPV and maybe a couple t-shirts. Anyway Cena wraps it up by saying he’s going to win the Rumble, followed by Sheamus, the Prime Time Players (remember them?), Randy Orton, the Miz, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro and 3MB coming out to do the same. Finally just about everyone on the roster comes out and a brawl starts in the ring. For some reason they go by Rumble rules and try throwing people over the top rope. No reason for this. Sheamus and Cena specifically throw a bunch of guys out. Then a few people are shown trying to get Khali over (again, for no reason) and Ryback completely blends in with the crowd. Very weird ending to a relatively crappy Raw.

The Royal Rumble is this Sunday, and I’ll definitely watch it. Tonight’s show has very little to do with it though.

Rock Brawls With Punk And Eve Quits On 20th Anniversary Raw

RAW_1025_Photo_182The 20th anniversary of Monday Night Raw promises to be a big night, on par with the 1000th episode. Coming off last week’s show where CM Punk returned to pipe bomb mode after beating Ryback, only to have the smack laid down on him by the Rock, the bar is set pretty high. Before we get to that though, there were two pretty significant things that happened last week that need to be mentioned.

First off, Alberto Del Rio beating Big Show in a last man standing match to win the World Heavyweight Championship. This is a big deal for a number of reasons, first off for a major title changing hands on a taped show. WWE had to spoil it themselves to get ahead of all the bloggers that would post it after taping on Tuesday. This was a smart move and probably drew more people to Smackdown that normal. Hell I almost watched it live myself. Second, this changes the whole outlook of the title scene. It has to be assumed that there will be a rematch at the Royal Rumble, and Ziggler is much more likely to take it from Del Rio than Big Show. This also creates the opportunity for Wade Barrett or (more likely) Randy Orton after a heel turn to challenge for the belt. We’ve run out of logical challenges to Big Show. Third, and most importantly, the match was really good. Show put Del Rio through a table early on. Del Rio applied the cross arm breaker while being dangled outside the ring by Show. Show got drop kicked into a table. Lots of good spots and the crowd was into it. Del Rio got hit with every move Show had and each time he got up the crowd went nuts. Then when Alberto started throwing the steel steps at Show repeatedly the crowd got louder each time (helped by Ricardo cheerleading). Del Rio pushing the announce table on top of Show was the finisher, and with Rey Mysterio out again and Sin Cara unable to get over, Del Rio is firmly established as the number one latino face of the WWE.

The other news from last week is that after 100 episodes, Zack Ryder will no longer be doing the Z! True Long Island Story. It says a lot about how Ryder feels things are going with his character and the WWE. He has not been shy about making his opinions public, and it certainly hasn’t helped him move ahead in the company. The only thing that really kept him relevant was his web show, which is what got him pushed in the first place. After the WWE took control of the show however, it became much more of a drag to produce, and Ryder began to hate doing it. So now that it’s done, how does he get attention again? He’s been the dope from Long Island for a while now. Perhaps it is time for a makeover. Maybe even a heel turn. He certainly has enough to be angry about. It was a pretty epic finale if I do say so myself.

Now that that’s out of the way, on to Raw.

Where is the real Alberto?
What did they do to you?

Things started off with a montage off all the previous show opens (except for the current one oddly enough), and Vince McMahon in the ring. He essentially kisses his own ass for being smart enough to start Monday Night Raw. Then he goes through the lineup for tonight’s show, featuring John Cena versus Dolph Ziggler (again?) in a steel cage match (okay fine) and a rock concert from the Rock. Again, Rock is repeating the same act over and over. Soon after the announcements, Big Show comes out to complain about losing his title last week. McMahon makes Show address him as Mr. McMahon and Big Show essentially is a neutered version of his former self. Vince makes fun of him by saying he looks like he lost weight (referring to the belt) and calling up the footage of him losing. For whatever reason, Big Show just takes it. What happened to his iron clad contract where he can do whatever he wants? Big Show says he was put in a match he wasn’t ready for, and that Booker T is jealous of Show, and wants to push Del Rio to the Latino community (at least that part is true). Show suggests that Del Rio is stripped of his title, which brings out the new champion. He comes out without a car, wearing the colors of the Mexican flag in place of his traditional black and gold. Kinda lame. We know he’s Mexican, we don’t need it shoved in our face. Del Rio challenges Show to a match for the title on Raw, but Big Show refuses because he is not ready for a match. Alberto tells him to show some cojones (that means balls!) for once and accept. Big Show says he is not going to waste his rematch now, and suggests the Royal Rumble instead. Del Rio calls Show a fat jackass (in spanish) and a “SI” chant gets going. Ricardo then pulls a page from the Harlem Globetrotter’s playbook, throwing a bucket of confetti that Big Show thought was water. Show then goes after Ricardo and gets kicked out of the ring by Del Rio (Alberto pulling off a hurricarrana on Show will be forgotten from this). If Show takes the title back in two weeks forget everything I said at the top of this recap.

The first match of the night puts Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett against Randy Orton. Still waiting on that Orton heel turn and now there are rumors that he will be taking time off soon for a personal matter (not wellness related). Orton has been feuding a little with Cesaro too, because it’s impossible to keep the US and IC titles from being connected somehow. It’s all Orton early, with Randy hitting a back body drop outside the ring onto the guard rail padding. Back in the ring for a moment, Barrett is then clotheslined outside again. Wade doesn’t show any offense until they come back from commercial but it’s little more than head locks. Finally he gets some real offense going, hitting the high boot with Orton tangled in the ropes. It doesn’t last long though as Randy turns the match back in his favor, hitting his signature moves including the second rope DDT. However Barrett gets out of the RKO and lands a bull hammer elbow to knock out Orton and take the match. A surprising finish for sure and a sign that Orton’s vacation is definitely coming. He just lost clean to the IC champ. Meanwhile, the Barrett push continues.

Backstage Booker T and Teddy Long informed Eve that after last week’s match, there has been a stipulation to her Divas’ Championship match against Kaitlyn. Now Eve will lose the title if she gets counted out or disqualified. Eve starts flirting with Booker to get out of it but Booker just laughs in her face and walks away. Teddy laughs at her as well and gets slapped in the face. Poor Teddy. Eve is another performer that is supposed to be leaving for a while. In all likelihood she’ll drop the title and leave the Divas division in even worse shape than it already is.

On to the anger management reevaluation with Kane, Bryan and Dr. Shelby! Kane and Bryan agree to lie in order to get it over with. When asked what they like about each other, Bryan says he likes that Kane is tall, can set things on fire somehow, and is a good dancer. Kane says Bryan is agile, has a great beard and is not afraid to admit that he wears women’s clothing (Bryan almost lost it but kept composure). Shelby then brings in the Rhodes Scholars to try to trigger their anger. The idea is to have Kane and Bryan not attack when they are provoked. Sandow and Rhodes keep critiquing Shelby’s methods, finally saying they would be better off with Dr. Phil. Shelby then loses it, telling Kane and Bryan to attack them. The three of them start screaming YES and we have a very fitting (albeit not nearly as funny) conclusion to the anger management sessions.

Back in the ring Kane and Sandow square off in one on one action. Kane rolls early, hitting the sidewalk slam and going to the top rope before Sandow leaves the ring to avoid it. Damien then takes over with his typical rapid offense. I love Sandow’s offense. He isn’t fast but he strikes hard and fast. He fights how a regular person would fight. Just keeps coming at you. Anyway Kane catches him jumping off the top rope and gets chokeslams Sandow for the win. The two teams will meet for the Tag Team Championships at the Royal Rumble and I have to think Team Rhodes Scholars will walk away with the hardware. I’m a little surprised they aren’t saving that match for another time, putting them all in the rumble instead.

Three random guys that don't need to team up for any reason
Three random guys that don’t need to team up for any reason

After the match some news we already knew was going to happen was publicly announced. Mick Foley will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. Foley is in the house to address the crowd but is quickly cut off by the Shield. Before they can attack Ryback comes down the ramp and attacks them. He throws out Ambrose and Rollins and meat hook clotheslines Reigns but the numbers are too great. Orton comes out to help and is shortly followed by Sheamus to even the odds. Ryback hits Abrose with Shell Shocked and the Shield retreats. I know it’s not going to happen, but having one of them win the rumble would be a big deal. Josh Matthews interviews Ryback in the ring. HOT DAMN DID HIS EYE GET BAD AGAIN. What does Ryback do to his face? He’s disgusting. Anyway he is sick of the Shield interfering in his matches so now he wants payback. This should have happened after the first two times Ryback was robbed. He gets a “Feed Me Shield” chant going and we can expect Ryback to team with Orton and Sheamus against the Shield in the near future. Hopefully when his eye is healed.

So long, Eve
So long, Eve

Time for Eve and Kaitlyn for the Divas Championship. Is it me or does Kaitlyn kind of look like Seth Rollins? After going back and forth for a bit, Kaitlyn goes into beast mode and starts shoulder blocking her into oblivion. She can’t get a three count however and Eve hits her finisher (Cross Rhodes?) but Kaitlyn kicks out on two and a half. Kaitlyn then hits her finisher but Eve rolls out of the ring. Kaitlyn goes out to get her but gets thrown over the barrier. Eve goes back into the ring so the ref can start the 10 count, but Kaitlyn runs back in while Eve isn’t looking. Eve looks toward the barrier waiting for the ref to count, giving Kaitlyn the opening to spear her and win the Divas Championship. Pretty good match. If I had to guess I’d say Kaitlyn and Tamina start a program next. They are the most physically gifted women on the roster and could have some good matches. They aren’t that hot though so we’ll probably see Layla and AJ instead.

Backstage, Brodus Clay is pissed that CM Punk called him out last week for being forced to shuck and jive for the fans. Clay said he does it because he wants to and that the pipe bomb is going to blow up in Punk’s face or something. Whatever he said, he was all business and it was a nice change. He’s too much of a beast to be smiling all the time. Anyway he’s in the ring to face Punk and is all smiles again. Not expecting a long match. Clay goes on the attack early with big blows, forcing Punk to exit and regroup. Clay manhandles Punk until CM gets a boot up on Clay running into the corner. A springboard clothesline gets Clay down and Punk is in control. He even does the Junkyard Dog dance in the ring to taunt him. Brodus catches Punk with a headbutt but misses again on the splash in corner. Punk then connects on the elbow from the top rope and applies the Anaconda Vice for the submission win. Better and more competitive match than I expected. After some more mock dancing, Punk says he came out to do what he does, and later the Rock will do whatever it is that he does. He says all the fans are all entitled to their opinions, but they can’t deny the fact that he has been the champion for 421 days, and that it is a fact that Rock will not leave the Royal Rumble as WWE Champion and that he is the best in the world. Much shorter than last week but still a very effective promo. There were no “Cookie Puss” chants, incase you were wondering.

Backstage the Rock is talking to Mick Foley, doing some shtick congratulating Foley into the Hall of Fame. Vickie Guerrero butts in to tell them to quiet down during her show, and adds that Foley doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Rock decides not to say anything now, and tells Foley to wait for his concert.

Up next, Sheamus is in some over the top rope challenge thing against 3MB. The object is just to throw the opponent over the top rope, which Sheamus did already last week. The crowd is pretty dead as 3MB teams up on Sheamus. Sheamus can only get momentum for so long before getting beaten down again. It’s like a poor man’s version of Shield against Ryback. Slater and McIntyre hold Sheamus up as Mahal gets on the top rope, but Sheamus pushes them into Jinder and he falls out. Drew then gets thrown out as well and it’s down to Sheamus and Heath Slater. Sheamus goes over the top rope but stays on the edge of the ring. He tries to fight his way back in but McIntyre and Mahal pull him down to eliminate Sheamus and give 3MB the win. McIntyre puts Slater on his shoulders to celebrate, but then Sheamus comes in. He kicks Drew’s leg to bring him to his knees, and then Brogue Kick’s Slater off McIntyre’s shoulders (roughly the same height as Big Show). Drew gets a Brogue Kick as well.

John Cena said some random crap about past Raws, his losing, and Threes Company before saying he’s going to win his match. That wasted roughly 60 seconds of my life.

Speaking of wasting time, here comes a Miz TV segment. His guest is Ric Flair so there is some hope here. Flair talks a little about his retirement celebration on Raw after his retirement match during WrestleMania and how he’s looking forward to Ryback beating Shield. Miz and Flair then get into a WOO off before Miz cues a montage of popular catch phrases from Raw’s history. They have been going through different montages throughout the show, showing all the moments you would normally think of along with some others you haven’t. Miz then gets Flair to go into his full “jet flying, kiss stealing” routine but gets cut off by Cesaro, who says Flair and Miz embody America as a failed reality star and a legend who blew all the money he made trying to maintain the illusion of past greatness. Cesaro has the American flag as tights which is fantastic. He says Flair is worth nothing now and says the Four Horsemen sign is only good for referring to his four ex-wives now. Miz challenges Cesaro to a fight in Flair’s defense, but Cesaro declines and starts to leave. Flair then pulls him back and delivers some chops before Miz hits the skill crushing finale. Flair then has Miz apply the figure four as Flair starts elbow dropping the suit jackets that ended up on the mat. Very strange but also pretty entertaining. Especially for Miz TV.

Uhhhhh, okay.
Uhhhhh, okay.

Daniel Bryan now out to most likely lose to Cody Rhodes since Kane beat Sandow earlier. Before the match starts, Cody looks in a mirror and brushes his mustache. Can we consider that jumping the shark? Rhodes immediately attacks Daniel’s knee that he “hurt” last week, and Bryan sells it like he is being amputated. Cody stands over Bryan to taunt to crowd but Bryan pulls him down by the arm and applies the NO Lock in the middle of the ring, getting Rhodes to submit. Once again, I’m wrong. Don’t be surprised if that knee costs Team Hell No at the Royal Rumble though.

Meanwhile Eve made her departure official, telling Matt Striker that the WWE is against her. From Zack Ryder stalking her, John Cena humiliating her and Kaitlyn accusing her of sabotaging her title shot, she doesn’t need this anymore. She says she wants her own reality show and quits the WWE. So long Eve. I don’t know how long she’ll be gone for, but she’ll be missed.

AJ hosted a segment backstage going through famous weddings in Raw history while Big E looked like he wanted to blow his brains out. The last clip was of AJ’s wedding with Daniel Bryan where she was named Raw GM. This sent her into a fit of rage toward John Cena, who she blames for ruining her career. Dolph Ziggler stepped in the console her and talk about how he is going to prove to the world and specifically Cena how good he really is.

How does this work?
How does this work?

Jim Ross takes Michael Cole’s place to call the main event steel cage match between John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler tries to run out of the cage door almost immediately after the bell rings, then tries climbing out on the other side only to be pulled back by Cena both times. Following an initial charge by Cena, Ziggler hits a dropkick and takes control, throwing John into the cage, hitting a couple of neck breakers and escaping an Attitude Adjustment to hit another one. Cena then sling shots Dolph into the cage, but Ziggler catches himself on the cage and starts climbing up. John pulls him down and tries climbing up himself, leading to both men being taken down. During the break, Cena was about to escape the cage but Langston was outside the ring pushing Cena back up so that Ziggler can pull him back in (kind of ridiculous when Cena could just let go and drop onto him but whatever). With both Cena and Ziggler standing on the top rope, Dolph hits a standing dropkick sending them both back to the mat. Dolph takes his time delivering punches and Cena takes advantage with the five moves of doom. Ziggler escapes the AA to try climbing up the cage, gets pulled down by his tights revealing his bare butt (to the audible joy of the women in attendance), only to escape the move again and hit a superkick for a two count. Ziggler crawls toward the door and gets a hand on the floor but Cena gets over the pull him back in. Langston grabs Ziggler’s arm however to try to pull Ziggler out and we have a human game of tug of war. Cena wins and applies the STF, but Ziggler quickly rolls over and locks a sleeper hold in the middle of the ring. Cena powers his way up and starts climbing up the cage with Dolph on his back. John finally falls off the top rope, taking them both down. Cena then looks like he’s going to escape through the door but Big E slams it in his face. Ziggler then goes for the door (after blatantly hearing Cena tell him to) and Cena tries climbing over the cage right near the door. Cena gets over first and kicks the door in Dolph’s face, but Langston is there again forcing Cena back up with a steel chair. When Cena gets back to the mat Dolph hits him with a Zig Zag but only gets a two count (because it takes 8 finishers to beat Cena apparently). Cena pulls Dolph down from the top of the cage again but with Cena on the top turnbuckle, Ziggler hits a jumping DDT (big pop) but again only gets a 2 count. This sends AJ off the deep end (can you blame her?) and she climbs to the top of the cage. This distracts the ref so that Big E can come in with the MITB briefcase. Cena attacks Langston and the case goes to Ziggler, who tries to hit John with it but Cena ducks under and Big E gets hit instead. Cena hits Ziggler with the AA and wins via pinfall (apparently 1 Attitude Adjustment is better than 10 finishers from anyone else). Both men deliver again in a fantastic match but this SuperCena stuff is just ridiculous. PPVs are one thing but can he at least be human on basic cable?

What a shocker
What a shocker

The big finish for the night is of course the Rock concert. It’s exactly what you think it would be like. A heartbreak hotel parody where he calls Paul Heyman a fat woman. He then called out Vickie Guerrero to sing a parody of “Wonderful Tonight” where is says “No biotch, you look horrible tonight” and dresses like a cheap hooker. Rock then calls out CM Punk, who shows up with Paul Heyman. Rocks says Heyman has “twinkie tits” (that might actually catch on for a minute), that Punk is not “god” as Punk referred to himself last week, and that Punk will lose at the Royal Rumble. This pushes Punk to run down the ramp and get into a brawl with Rock. A bunch of officials have to come out to separate them and that’s how the show ends. I was worried the concert part would be a lot longer but thankfully it was relatively brief.

The main question I have is what happened to all the surprise guests? No Michaels, no Undertaker, no Austin, no Triple H. Medusa wasn’t even there. It’s not that it was a bad show. It just didn’t have that big event feel aside from the main event. It was a quality episode of Raw. I just expected a little more than that.

Punk Beats Ryback On Raw, To Face Rock At Royal Rumble

RAW_1024_Photo_192After two weeks of previously recorded Raw the WWE wants to start 2013 with a bang, featuring Ryback finally getting his TLC match against CM Punk for the WWE Championship and the Rock scheduled to appear. This is all going into next week’s 20th anniversary show which is set to have a number of high profile guest appearances (Michaels, Austin and Undertaker all rumored), and the Royal Rumble two weeks later. It’s a key time frame as we close in on the road to WrestleMania. The fact that they are going against the college football National Championship game is not in their favor.

The opening montage is all over the Rock versus Punk hype, doing a rundown of the last few weeks of drama surrounding Punk’s knee and who Rock will face at the Royal Rumble. Yet the show opens with John Cena running down the ramp to promote the Punk/Ryback match and the Rock. Basically everything I said in the opening paragraph. Thankfully Dolph Ziggler comes out with AJ and Big E to interject. Lost in all of AJ’s bitching and calling Cena a “small man” is referring to Dolph as “Ziggy.” Cena responds by starting a wave before bringing up how he dumped crap on them and challenges Ziggler to a match right now. Dolph says no but all of a sudden Big E grabs the mic! Langston proves why he hadn’t spoken until now by sounding like a stuttering preacher and accepts the challenge for Dolph (actually he just said “it’s on!”). So now Dolph is pissed and doesn’t want to go to the ring, but his music come on and apparently that means he automatically has to go down the ramp. Good to know that’s all you need to get someone to come down the ramp.

So now Dolph versus Cena is actually happening! The one thing about the rumble event is that it takes up almost the entire roster, so big matches like this can happen without spoiling anything at the pay per view. Highlight of the match early on is Cena holding Dolph up in a standing suplex position for roughly ten seconds before dropping him. Yup, Cena is strong. Dolph does a little more showing off than he normally does (which is saying a lot) and gets burned for it both times. First the sit ups which turns into a pin attempt, then he danced around a downed Cena only to be thrown into the corner. Throughout the match Langston and AJ interfere until they finally get caught by the ref and are ejected from ringside. Ziggler then countered a 5 knuckle shuffle into a fame-asser for a 2 count, then after succumbing to the shuffle, Ziggler escaped an AA and hit a Zig Zag for another two count. Dolph then misses a superkick but escapes the STF, hitting a jumping DDT for another two count. Ziggler is essentially hitting him with every move he’s got. Ziggler goes for a cross body splash off the top rope but Cena catches him and tries for the AA, but Ziggler escapes and again and hits the super kick but still can’t get a three count. This is just ridiculous. Next Dolph applies a sleeper hold and starts to bring Cena down (just like Ricardo did on Christmas Eve) but John throws Ziggler off him and into the referee, knocking him out. Cena applies the STF on Dolph but there is no referee (Dolph doesn’t tap anyway). Langston comes out and hits Cena with the Big End and a second referee comes down the ramp but again Cena kicks out on 2. Out of nowhere Cena then hits Ziggler with an AA and gets the win. Fantastic match but the ending is just ridiculous. Ziggler had almost all of the offense but one big move finishes him. Meanwhile Cena took finishers from Ziggler and Langston but it’s not enough. There is no justice.

Ricardo drops him with a sleeper hold on Christmas Eve but 2 weeks later Ziggler can't with the same move? AW HELL NAH!
Ricardo drops Cena with a sleeper hold two weeks ago but Ziggler can’t? AW HELL NAH!

The next match puts the Divas Title on the line, as Eve defends against Kaitlyn. Eve chose Mae Young to face last week, but she gave birth to Hornswaggle instead (yup) and Kaitlyn started a cat fight instead. So now she gets a title shot. Whatever. It’s more of the same cat fight style wrestling. Back in the attitude era these matches only happened when the ring was replaced by a pool of jello or something. In the ring they actually wrestled. Kaitlyn has enough, hitting a side slam and a shoulder block to get Eve on the ropes. Eve then escapes Kaitlyn’s finisher and escapes the ring entirely, getting herself counted out to keep her championship. They’ll meet again at the Royal Rumble.

Backstage Santino is kissing up to Ricky Steamboat until Wade Barrett steps it, saying that he will make the Intercontinental Championship mean something which neither of them could do. Steamboat decides to stand in Santino’s corner. Cut to Matt Striker interviewing Randy Orton, who says he will win the rumble before being interrupted by 3MB who says that one of them will win the rumble. Orton then decides that he will face Heath Slater tonight. They have nothing for Orton to do right now besides feud with 3MB? That heel turn better happen real soon.

Kane and Daniel Bryan in the ring squaring off against the Rhodes Scholars in a non title match. We’re getting to a point with all of these fueds where everything is established and we’ve seen everyone face everyone already, so there isn’t much new to talk about. All parties are doing fine. It’s exactly as you expect. At least until Cody Rhodes and his mustache yelled “you are a goat face” and Bryan before hitting him with an elbow. After the rumble we can expect a whole new set of programs to get into gear, so this stale rivalry period is expected. Kane gets a hot tag and cleans house, but Sandow (the legal man) left the ring when Kane had him set up for the choke slam. Daniel Bryan comes back in and attempts his back flip off the top turnbuckle but tweaks his knee (in the match) and the Rhodes Scholars take advantage. Kane took Sandow down outside the ring, but Cody Rhodes hit Bryan with the Cross Rhodes to get the victory by pinfall. The stage is set for their championship match, most likely taking place at the Royal Rumble.

Finally the Randy Orton/3MB feud comes to a head as Randy takes on Heath Slater. Orton dominates early but Slater slows things down, taking control briefly and even hitting his jumping neck breaker (reverse RKO) for a two count. Heath then goes to the top rope only to be superplexed by Orton. Randy beats away the other members of 3MB before hitting the 2nd rope DDT and an RKO (that was definitely not “out of nowhere” as Cole said) to win the match. McIntyre and Mahal come in to try ambushing Orton but Randy fights them off again with a couple more RKO’s. Just Orton being Orton.

Wade Barrett set to take on Santino and I’ll be damned if Steamboat didn’t do the Santino walk down the ramp with him. It’s all Barrett until Santino escapes a pump handle slam and hits a super kick before going into his routine. He pulls out the cobra sock but Wade leaves the ring, drawing Santino near the rope where Wade pulls his throat down on the top rope, hitting the Bull Hammer to win the match. Steamboat tends to his fallen friend as Barrett set up to hit Ricky from behind. Ricky turns before he could strike and Steamboat takes off his blazer, ready to fight. Barrett exits and we have not seen the last of this story. Wade Barrett versus Ricky Steamboat next week?

(Pointless segment where Sheamus talks trash to 3MB happens that I can’t think of a single thing to write about it.)

How cool is Cesaro?
How cool is Cesaro?

Miz on commentary as United States Champion Antonio Cesaro comes out waving the American flag for his match against Khali. Khali, with both Hornswaggle and Natalya in his corner, slaps Cesaro a couple of time before Antonio takes his leg out. The Punjobber has a whole crew with him now. Anything to make him interesting. Miz calls Cesaro a weenie and calls him an old man. Face Miz just comes off as so lame. After another outburst of offense from Khali, Cesaro springboards into Khali with an uppercut and then hits the Neutralizer on Khali to get the win! Cesaro is really good. He barks at Miz and they will certainly face each other at some point in the future.

Backstage Brad Maddox is still trying to get Paul Heyman to help him get a WWE contract, suggesting that he can referee the match. Heyman chews him out, telling him not to talk to Vickie Guerrero or CM Punk and to get out of his face. That’s getting interesting.

I guess I found the point of the Sheamus 3MB segment because he is now facing Jinder Mahal. Sheamus smacks him around for a while and the only offense Mahal provides is a weird hold where he is essentially grabbing Sheamus’ arse (that’s what Sheamus said anyway). McIntyre distracts Sheamus long enough for Jinder to hit him with a high knee and get some more legitimate offense. Sheamus fights back of course, dragging Slater into the ring and then clotheslining both Slater and Mahal out of the ring. Sheamus then Brougue Kicks McIntyre and Slate, then hits Mahal with White Noise and another Brogue Kick to win the match decisively. I wonder who Drew McIntyre will lose to tonight. 3MB is getting a lot of air time to start 2013.

CM Punk defends his WWE Championship against Ryback to start the third hour of the show. Before the match, there is a montage similar to what you’d get on a PPV show. They might as well. This match has been in the making for a couple of months now. Punk kinda goes nuts on his way down the ramp, pulling a ladder out to go under and throwing a chair toward the ring. They start with Ryback overpowering Punk and kicking him out of the ring, with Punk incorporating a chair to even things out a little. Eventually Ryback then gets Punk back in the ring and asks the crowd to choose whether he slams Punk onto a chair or a ladder. He does this while holding Punk up for a suplex. Very cool. He ten tries the slam the steel steps on Punk but he rolls away and runs up them for a jumping kick. Punk then starts working on Ryback with a chair. It sucks that this match has to be interrupted by a commercial break. They come back with Ryback hitting Punk with an electric chair to take him down from the ladder. The whole match is spots. Punk puts Ryback’s foot in a chair a jumps off the top tope to try to injure it, but Ryback moves away and Punk tweaks his knee landing (uh oh). Ryback immediately takes advantage and takes him down with a meathook clothesline. Punk wiggles out of Shell Shock though and gets out of the ring. Toward a table Ryback put up earlier. Ryback goes to spear Punk but Punk moves and Ryback goes right through the table, taking him out. Punk gets back in the ring and tries to climb the ladder. Ryback meets him up there and knocks him off, Punk then pushes the ladder over but Ryback jumps off before it hits that mat, then slams Punk into the ladder. He tries to do it again but Punk wiggles out and kicks him in the head. Punk gets Ryback in the corner and tries the running bulldog, but Ryback lifts Punk over the top rope through a table outside the ring. This match has been pretty bad ass.

Now here’s is the big finish. Punk is outside the ring and not moving. Ryback gets a ladder propped up and climbs to the top. He is just about the grab the title when the lights go out. When they come back on Ambrose and Rollins are on the ladder trying to knock him down. He fights them both off but Reigns pulls him down by the legs. Ryback then throws all three members of Shield out of the ring and against goes to the top of the ladder but the Shield attacks Punk again with a ladder. The building is buzzing big time. Shield powerbombs Ryback through a table on top of the steel steps and leaves the arena. With Ryback out of commission, Punk now gets up and crawls up the ladder, grabs his WWE Championship and wins the match. Great match but yet another predictable ending.

That table can be found in Ikea's "As Is" section
That table can be found in Ikea’s “As Is” section

Backstage Striker goes to interview Punk but Punk cuts him off, again saying that he doesn’t have any affiliation with Brad Maddox or the Shield. He then says that before the Rock gets in the ring, he is going to talk to the crowd first and drop a pipe bomb (uh oh). Cut to Daniel Bryan icing his knee, blaming Kane for not having his back or something. They blame each other for losing the team Rhodes Scholars, getting into a good old fashioned “YES” “NO” argument until Vickie Guerrero comes in to inform them that they are due for their four month mental evaluation with none other than Dr. Shelby (WOOO!). They then argue over whether or not Shelby is a monster or a nerd and I can’t wait for next week’s sessions.

The last match of the night puts Kofi Kingston against Big Show in a non title match. Kofi jumps at Show and gets him in the corner trying to get an edge on him, the ref tries to separate them and in the process, Show decks Kofi with a Knock Out Punch, putting down Kingston and winning the match in about 20 seconds. Anyway…

He tastes victory
He tastes victory

Punk gets in the ring to address the crowd. He wipes blood off his hand and removes the WWE flag from the microphone. He says everyone has misunderstood the meaning of the pipe bomb which is honesty. He says the perception of him over the last year is wrong and that everything he said was true except for the part about ice cream because they are fat enough already (burn!). He says he created his rebel anti-hero persona to cash in because it doesn’t matter if you’re the best performer or best talker or anything else because no one it only matter how popular you are in the WWE. That is why John Cena keeps getting title shots and why Daniel Bryan, a fantastic wrestler, has to become a catch phrase saying goofball (now we’re getting somewhere). It’s why Brodus Clay, a leather monster, dances around with children and why Lil’ Jimmy is more well known than Tyson Kidd (really getting somewhere now). The crowd reacts and Punk says they’re playing right into his hands. The WWE is just a circus to entertain the fans and no one has maintained any success without them until CM Punk. He calls himself the greatest champion of all time, not just he modern era (he adds that that’s something they probably want to put on a t-shirt because it’s all about selling t-shirts). He says he would have been champion over Bruno Sammartino in that era because he only had to wrestle once a month at MSG. Hulk Hogan never had to wrestle in TLC matches. Punk says his year has had enough grueling matches on both free TV and PPV to equal 30 of theirs, and that he is successful in spite of the fans. That unlike every other wrestler he doesn’t lie about doing everything for the fans. He calls out Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Edge for doing just that, making them either weak or dishonest. Punk on the other hand is neither because he doesn’t care about the fans. He is just the best in the world. A member of the stage crew tells Punk they do to go to commercial, but Punk says they’ll go to break when he wants to go to break. He then says the Rock is going to come out in a minute but before he does he tells them that they do not matter, and continues talking as they go to break.

Absolutely brilliant promo. He made points that I had been thinking for a while regarding the other eras and the current schedule. He pointed out the nature of what the current talent has to do to get over and what comes with that. More importantly he attacked the fans in a way that hasn’t been done before. He made an entire case against the people, which is the very entity that the Rock says he fights for. What this also does is set the bar very high for the Rock. This isn’t John Cena just talking about how he will fight and how much he loves the WWE. CM Punk cuts a lot deeper. He can’t just say he’s going to kick his monkey ass. When they come back from break Punk is still talking about how he is the best and that regardless of who is put in front of him he will remain the champion a year from now. He says he beat the system when he won the championship because it was against what the crowd wanted.

Punk starts calling the crowd losers when the Rock finally (no pun intended) makes his entrance. He is absolutely jacked. If he was a regular member of the roster he’d definitely be a part of the wellness program. Rock says that after listening to Punk he sees that he is delusional, and that in 20 days his reign as champion is over. He says Punk didn’t reject the fans, the fans rejected him. After saying Punk failed to get ice cream for the fans Rock gets the fans to chant cookie puss at Punk, telling him that they will follow him for the rest of his career (probably not but I’m sure they’ll try). Punk tells the fans that they are following Rock the same way they followed Punk a year ago. Rock says he is back to entertain the fans, stop Punk and win the WWE Championship. Rock says Punk looks like Popeye on crack (Cole loves that) and that he has become the biggest jerk in the world.  Punk essentially says what I said earlier, in that Rock can joke about Punk’s shirts and shout his old catch phrases all he wants because Punk is just going to beat him in the ring. He says all of Rock’s words are meaningless before saying perhaps the best line of trash talk I’ve ever heard. “Your arms are just too short to box with God.” Oh man is that a great line.

It's on!
It’s on!

Rock of course retorts by telling Punk to get tattoos of candy and a size 15 boot on his butt to remind him of when the Rock kicks his candy ass, and then Rock Bottom’s Punk out of the ring. Hell of a last twenty minutes or so and I’m pumped up for the match. It’s being set up almost perfectly. Rock will always be the People’s Champion, so Punk is attacking the people. Classic stuff. What is interesting is how Punk is completely calling Rock out on being nothing more than catch phrases and schtick, with Rock immediately responding with more catch phrases and schtick. Sure Rock ended the segment with a Rock Bottom, but verbally I think Punk crushed him. It’s kind of like the interrogation scene in The Dark Knight. Rock can’t phase Punk with his words like he did everyone else. Of course it doesn’t matter too much because we all know (or at least we think we know) that Rock is winning the title and Cena is winning the Rumble so they can face off at WrestleMania, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the build up anyway.

Things pick up next week with the 20th anniversary of Raw and I can’t wait.

Barrett Wins IC Title And More From Two Weeks Of Holiday Raw

RAW_1023_Photo_147WWE really got hit with a crap sandwich to end 2012 with the last two Monday Night Raw’s falling on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve respectively. Somehow WWE found some common sense and prerecorded both shows, and with the 20th anniversary show coming up, all signs would point to both episodes carrying little to no real content storywise. Hopefully this means nothing but great matches but I’m not giving my hopes up. Since I don’t pay myself to write these recaps and do in fact have a life of my own, I saved both of them for after the holidays and will just make some notes instead. Here’s hoping to a kick ass 2013!

Christmas Eve Show

The show opens with Mick Foley, portraying Santa Claus, getting run into by Alberto Del Rio. Ricardo is in tears and Del Rio is shocked as “you killed Santa” chants come down from the crowd. Santa gets carried away in a stretcher and Alberto’s run as a face just took a very weird turn. Best open in the history of WWE. The car would be fenced off as a crime scene and perhaps the funniest part of the whole thing is Michael Cole being nearly as serious as he was when Lawler had his heart attack. Now Santa somehow put Del Rio in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight against John Cena. That just means they can use Christmas items around the ring against each other. So now Santa Claus can book matches too.

Cody Rhodes looked really good in his loss to Kane. He continues to impress me in his return. I’m a little puzzled why he tried to remove a second turnbuckle pad though.

The only thing to appreciate out of the 8 woman Diva’s tag match is Tamina Snuka looking pissed because she has to wear a slutty Christmas outfit. I feel your pain sista. Layla gets top billing but Kaitlyn is being booked as the top face Diva, getting the pin over Eve.

Ziggler and AJ snuggling on a white bear skin rug. Adorable.

Sheamus and Big Show had a lumberjack frost match (get it?). The highlight of the whole thing was Show screaming Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer while having Sheamus in an arm lock, ending with Sheamus grabbing Show’s nose. As far as actual wrestling goes, Sheamus hitting Show with an electric chair slam was pretty cool too. Sheamus ducked under a KO Punch to land a Brogue Kick and win a very good match. The lumberjacks were pretty useless.

David Otunga defended Del Rio before almost beating Zack Ryder until he realized that he’s David Otunga. Again, is Alberto Del Rio a face or a heel? (WWE is trying to figure that out themselves)

Oh so many bad holiday puns.

Even though they forgot to trigger his pyro, Kofi Kingston teamed up with Miz to face Wade Barrett and Antonio Cesaro anyway. Kofi kicked Barrett into Miz who delivered a Skull Crushing Finale to win a perfectly acceptable midcard match.

Brad Maddox lost another shot at a WWE contract by jobbing to Khali in an elf costume. The Maddox gimmick is a bit stale. He wrestles too much for a guy without an actual contract. If he’s going to stick around, it’s time to officially have him on the roster.

Punk and Heyman cut another brilliant promo for the upcoming Ryback/Punk title match on the January 7th edition of Raw. Ryback then comes out to inform Punk that it will be a TLC match. Can Ryback get a manager please? He sounds like a washing machine with sneakers in it when he talks.

Damien Sandow versus Daniel Bryan. Two of my personal favorites in the ring at the same time. It starts with Sandow asking for silence and Bryan yelling “NO!” I love it. Quick pace and a lot of nice moves. Bryan swung out of Sandow’s finisher to lock in the NO Lock and get the submission victory.

The heels and faces from the lumberjack match got together again for a 12 man 12 days of Christmas tag match. Usos got some serious play in the match, getting the pin on Heath Slater. It would be nice if they got a push in the tag team division.

Kane gives Daniel Bryan a Slammy for Christmas. Bryan gives Kane a dog. Kane is legitimately excited because he’s hungry and wants to eat it. Bryan says “NO! Animals are friends not food” (of course because Bryan is vegan). Well done guys.

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad

The main event between Del Rio and Cena started with Ricardo being too overcome with emotion to announce Del Rio. Alberto takes the mic during the match and tries to explain that it was just an accident, and Cena just yells “Santa!” in response and hits Del Rio. Classic debate skills by Cena. Ricardo gives Del Rio a gift to use on Cena. It turns out to be a pie, and Del Rio accidentally hits Ricardo with it instead. Yup, it’s that kind of match. Cena meanwhile finds a tv monitor in a box and gets the use that (why are these things wrapped up in boxes on the stage?). Del Rio then pulls out a teddy bear and throws it at Cena. That was actually pretty damn funny. Cole makes fun of Cena for selling being hit with a cardboard box (okay now THAT’S funny). Here’s where it gets weird. John Cena finds a bowling ball in a box and rolls it down the ramp into Dell Rio’s nuts. Alberto almost started corpsing out of sheer ridiculousness. Merry Christmas everyone! With Cena distracted, Ricardo puts him down with a sleeper hold (how about that!). Santa Claus (still Mick Foley) then comes out, decks Ricardo with his sack, uses a stocking like socko, gives Del Rio the mandible claw, throwing him into Cena to hit Alberto with an Attitude Adjustment for the win. An absolutely ridiculous match but what the hell, it’s Christmas and it was fun.

The only thing I didn’t get for Christmas was a Dolph Ziggler match.

New Year’s Eve Show

The New Year’s show started off with much less of a bang than Christmas Eve, with Miz TV leading off the show. Add to that that his guest is John Cena and I’m about done with 2012. I just realized that they have two couches out for this show each time but then the guests sit in director’s chairs. Miz informs us that all titles will be on the line (except for Punk of course) and that the champions will pick their opponents (Big Show versus Santino please!). John Cena says he’s going to Ziggler and AJ’s New Year’s toast in the ring later, and Team Rhodes Scholars come out to trash Miz for bringing up the AJ scandal. All Cena wants to do is reference RG3 (Raw is in DC) and talk about Cody’s stache (can’t blame him for that one).

So now Cena and Miz will team up for the first match of the night against Team Rhodes Scholars. Cody Rhodes growing a mustache is probably the best possible thing he could do for his career. The crowd chants “Cody’ mustache” whenever he’s in the ring. He never got that big of a reaction before. It could be the new “YES” chant. I find myself wondering (if wrestling was real of course) what would have happened if Cena didn’t make the challenge for a tag match. This was not scheduled for the card, so what would the original plan have been after Miz TV. Really long commercial break? Did another imaginary match get bumped? Is that where Ryback’s match was supposed to be? Miz does the jobbing for most of the match until getting Cena in on the hot tag, immediately going into the five moves of doom. Cena hits the five knuckle shuffle on Sandow (legal man) but is then struck with a disaster kick by Rhodes. Rhodes is then met with a Skull Crushing Finale by Miz and Cena hits Sandow with an Attitude Adjustment for the win. Just about as formulaic of a match as you can have.

Backstage Vickie Guerrero is having a New Year’s Eve party, and she’s all being a bitch to Ziggler by putting him in a match with Sheamus. CM Punk has Vickie put Ryback in a handicap match against Shield (I guess Ryback was not scheduled to perform until then), and Heyman gets turned down on a kiss on the cheek.

Antonio Cesaro decides to defend his United States Championship against Sgt Slaughter. So that’s kind of cool. At least until the match starts. Slaughter kind of no sells most of Cesaro’s strikes but after Antonio reaches the rope to get out of the cobra clutch, he hits the Neutralizer for the win, hitting another one after the bell to rub it in. Squash match.

Kane and Bryan and pissed because they wanted to pick Shield to defend their title against (no idea why) and then they are thinking of whom to pick, 3MB is heard on the other side of the room rehearsing. So that’s going to happen. Meanwhile, Big Show may not face Santino, but he did decide to defend against Ricardo Rodriguez instead. Somehow I get the feeling Del Rio will be involved. Eve will defend her title against Mae Young. This show is teetering on blowing.

Bryan and Slater actually had a really good start to the tag title match. Bryan hit a toe drag on Slater as Heath was just landing from a jump, and followed it with a Mexican surfboard (which I always appreciate). Kane hits McIntyre with a chokeslam to win a pretty entertaining match. Bryan plays air guitar on the tag team championship belt. Kane does not. When will these two get along!?

Punk in the ring to say that he’s the best and to have his doctor reveal that his injury is real.  The doctor shows x-rays of a healthy knee and Punk’s, and Punk goes on to say that next week he’ll be back and will beat Ryback. The doctor then informs Punk that he can not clear Punk to compete based on the current condition of his rehab. This match was rumored to be pushed off further to insure Punk’s status for the Royal Rumble so this isn’t completely unexpected. Out comes Vince McMahon though and suggests that WWE officials examine his condition next week instead of his personal physician, the result of which will determine whether or not he competes. If Punk can’t go however, McMahon stipulates that Paul Heyman will take his place and face Ryback. Ryback faces Heyman at Madison Square Garden during the holiday tour so that is definitely a possibility. I would not be surprised with either result right now.

Dolph Ziggler out to face Sheamus and it seems that making out with AJ is now part of his entrance (that’s a pretty good entrance). Big E Langston-bot is ringside too. They put on a really good match, ending with Sheamus hitting White Noise and setting up for the Brogue Kick. Langston gets Sheamus’ attention though and Dolph tries to apply and sleeper, but Sheamus throws Ziggler over the top rope, into Langston’s arms. Big E then starts to enter the ring but the Shield jumps Sheamus from behind and takes him out instead, hitting the triple power bomb. So maybe that will lead to something.

Backstage Wade Barrett is trying to get Kofi to challenge him for his Intercontinental title. Barrett asks if he’s choosing between Hornswaggle and Lil’ Jimmy (as he should) but Kofi takes the bait and agrees to face Barrett. Stupid face. Brad Maddox then went to Punk and Heyman looking for a job, and Heyman chewed him out. Perhaps Maddox will cost Punk the title at Royal Rumble? Hmmmmm. Staying backstage, Mae Young can’t compete because she is pregnant. AGAIN! If she gives birth to another hand I’m going to flip. Maybe it’ll be a foot. Kaitlyn would run out instead and just kind of cat fight in a non match. Waste of time.

Getting ready for his match against Big Show, Ricardo is greeted by Alberto Del Rio. He apologizes to Rodriguez for treating him like crap all this time, and Ricardo says he wants to win the match for him. Del Rio says he’ll be in his corner, gives Ricardo his scarf and the keys to his car, telling him to go out there in style. If there was ever any doubt as to whether or not Del Rio was continuing the face turn, this was it. It’s the sappiest face turn since Ebeneezer Scrooge. Big Show smacks him around early but Ricardo pulls and enziguri out of his ass and for a second Show is in trouble. Show recovers however and lines up for a KO Punch but Del Rio interferes and delivers a sidekick to the face. Big Show wins via DQ, and he will face Del Rio on Smackdown. Why do I get the feeling that these two will square off at the Royal Rumble?

Very well done Ricardo
Very well done Ricardo

Kofi and Barrett facing each other for what, the eighth time in two months? It’s my biggest problem with the current WWE. Of course they put on a good match but that’s not the point. The point is that after a while there isn’t much new that you can do in the ring. So why have all of these matches on regular shows? If they met once on Raw and had a couple of PPV bouts it would make those big matches feel so much bigger. It’s a waste of good efforts from both. Barrett hit Wasteland for what seems like the first time in forever but Kofi kicked out of it. Kingston then misses on a cross body splash from the top rope, leading to Wade Barrett hitting the Bull Hammer elbow and winning the Intercontinental Championship. I imagine they will both compete in the Royal Rumble, then face each other again at Elimination Chamber.

Backstage, Vickie farted and said “excuse me” as Mae Young gave birth to Hornswaggle in a diaper and a Happy New Year sash. Good grief. Jerry Lawler said he wished he was not revived from his heart attack after seeing that bit. I’m not kidding.

Shield out to face Ryback. Something kind of spoils the idea of the Shield for me when they are booked in matches. Then they have their own entrance music. They are supposed to be a rogue group that can’t be controlled. Then they sign into matches and follow the rules. At least they still enter through the crowd and not down the entrance ramp. Ryback gets jumped before he even gets in the ring and is getting beaten down until Sheamus runs in to help him. Shield takes him down as well and dominate until Randy Orton makes his return to action and levels the playing field. He leads the charge as the faces clean house and the Shield exits the arena.

Ziggler and AJ dressed to the nines while Langston is still in ring gear for the New Year’s toast. It’s all about how many times Cena lost in 2012 (which was a lot) yet was still voted superstar of the year. Dolph says Cena’s time is over and Ziggler’s time is now, and uninvites Cena to the toast. Langston stands guard outside the ring when Cena shows up on the stage. He says that Ziggler was right about 2012. Cena then shows a photoshop job of Dolph and AJ’s wedding (guess who’s in the dress?) and their first kid and Dolph finally cuts him off because Cena has nothing but jokes. Cena then attacks Dolph for taking 7 years to get to where Cena has been the last ten (got him there), announces that he will be entering the Royal Rumble and promises that he will be WWE Champion in 2013. The stage is now set for WrestleMania. Rock beats Punk at Royal Rumble, Cena wins the Rumble and beats Rock at WrestleMania to win the WWE Championship. Cena wraps things up but dumping a pile of shit on Ziggler and AJ to end the 2012 WWE program schedule. The whole segment took way too long but at least there was a payoff.

Your last image of 2012
Your last image of 2012

The New Year’s show was leaps and bounds above the Christmas show but that wasn’t saying much. At least now we can get back on track with live programming, getting the Rock back into things, Raw’s 20th anniversary and promoting the Royal Rumble.

Here is to a happy and prosperous 2013.