After the Trick or Treating with the boys and getting everyone to sleep I had a craving for some Halloween themed arcade action. I scrolled through the catalog of games and stumbled onto Night Slashers. I figured it would just be a typical beat ’em up. I was dead wrong. This game was everything that I wanted and more. Enjoy!
The Ultimate Maniacs continue their push for tag team glory in WWF Wrestlefest. Watch me play the greatest wrestling game ever (I can’t say that enough) while I try to go through all of the 80’s wrestling trivia that I can remember. Is everything I say historically accurate? Probably not. But I bet you won’t Google it.
There was absolutely no way that I could play WWF Wrestlefest for one 10 minute episode and be one with it. The only possible option was to make a run at the tag team championship on Saturday Night’s Main Event. It took a quick restart but I eventually got things going with the Ultimate Maniacs. Join me as I take a walk through wrestling history in part 1 of my quest to achieve tag team glory!
As much as I enjoyed WWF Superstars, it does not hold a candle to WWF Wrestefest. It does everything the first one does times 100. The graphics, the moves, the gameplay. It is a perfect wrestling arcade game in my humble opinion. Watch me try to keep from giggling with joy as I play Royal Rumble mode with one of my favorite 80’s wrestlers, Earthquake! Enjoy!
Main Event Time! The Mega Powers are the new number 1 contenders and are set to face Ted Dibiase and Andre the Giant for the tag titles I didn’t know they had in a rematch of Summerslam ’88. Andre in this game might be the first really tough boss in a video game that I remember (I never got to Mike Tyson in Punch Out!). You definitely need a load of quarters to get through these guys. Luckily I’m home and have unlimited credits. I have a good feeling about this. Enjoy!
If you have read this blog during its first run it wouldn’t take long for you to figure out that I am a wrestling fan. More specifically, I’m an old school wrestling fan. That’s why this game was such a big deal to me. WWF Superstars was the first WWF Arcade game and by 1989’s standards they pretty much nailed it. Watch my climb to the top of the tag team division as I lead the Mega Powers to glory. The final match however was so epic (and honestly so long) that it had to be it’s own video. Come back next week for part 2!
Night 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.
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.
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.
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+.
Last 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two 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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
There 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.
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!
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.
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.
Night of Champions is in three weeks, and hopefully Bryan and Punk gets the snot kicked out of them every day until then.