WWE Summerslam 2013: random thoughts and recap

The Cena/Bryan story is an interesting one because it’s a matchup that has never been done before in a main event. It’s also a huge opportunity to create a new top star, and the fans believe in the challenger and want to see a title change. If the match is good, Daniel Bryan gets to star in more main events and Cena gets someone to help him and Punk carry the company as the top stars. The story and hype have been good but it could have better if it was hyped up without the McMahons involved at all. Vince and Triple H’s involvement in the story is still positive since it will help to provide the entertainment aspect of the fight while Cena and Bryan do the dirty work in the ring. However at this point, fans are probably tired of McMahon family drama and just want to see the play fighters do their thing without Vince and Hunter trying to interfere. Keep in mind that Hunter got a negative reaction in Los Angeles last year when he had an underwhelming and disappointing match with Brock Lesnar.

Speaking of Lesnar, Punk vs. Brock has the potential to become a good long-term story that helps to benefit both wrestlers. Brock finally gets to work with a guy who can bump around for him in a fresh matchup and Punk gets to stay in the spotlight by fighting a guy with a high-profile reputation. It definitely helps a lot with Paul Heyman involved since he can sell fights and storylines by himself while Brock is sitting out. Another note about tonight’s fight card is that there are no mid-card title defenses. There was an RVD vs. Dean Ambrose match on the preshow but it could have been on the main card instead. The US Title was also up for grabs in last year’s Summerslam pre-show when Antonio Cesaro squashed Santino for the belt. For last year’s recap, please click here.

Tonight’s episode of WWE Summerslam takes place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. Your commentators are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Bradshaw.

The Miz shows up on stage to open up the show by hyping up the two main events. Fandango and Summer Rae step out next and dance around him while the crowd sings along to his theme music. Gotta be embarrassing for the host when the guy who interrupts him gets a louder reaction from the crowd than he does. Rookie Diva Jojo sings the National Anthem and does a good job.

Ring Of Fire (inferno) match: Kane vs. Bray Wyatt (with the Wyatt Family)

Inferno matches aren’t done often and with good cause. It’s too much of a risk for the wrestlers in the ring and for the people sitting nearby. The last one was back in 2006 where Kane defeated MVP at WWE Armageddon. Kane appears first and gets a good pop. Bray and his click appear second to a chilling crowd reaction with lots of cell phone lights, camera flashes in the crowd and total silence. This is their Pay Per View debut. The commentators hype up the gimmick by saying that the flames will keep Bray’s click from interfering in the fight. There is also a firefighter outside the ring in case of emergency. One difference between this inferno match and past ones is that the referee is inside the ring this time.

Kane and Bray brawl while the Wyatt Family find out ways to get inside the ring. They use a fireman’s blanket to cover up one side of the ring and it works. They all get into the ring and assault Kane while Bray recovers to hit his finisher and then make a pinfall. Average match with a poor ending as the crowd expected someone to catch on fire to end the match, which is how a typical inferno match ends. The WWE had to water it down for the kiddies though, which is probably why it ended on a pin instead. After the match, the Wyatt Family knock out Kane with the ring steps and drag him back to the stage with them.

Josh Mathews takes the show to break by introducing the discussion panel with Booker, Vickie Guerrero and HBK who looks like a homeless veteran now.

Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow

Damien Sandow walks to the ring first and gets on the mic to clown on his opponent and his famous family. Cody appears second to a good cheer but he’s clean-shaven this time. The mustache helped get him attention but it was past due time he shaved it off since he also looked disturbing with it. And you can’t look disturbing if you want to be cheered.

Cody pins Damien after hitting his finisher. The crowd cheers for the victory while Cody does some post-match taunting to the loser. This was a good match that showcased a lot of back and forth offense between both fighters. This fight probably should have opened the show instead of the Ring Of Fire match.

Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight champion)

A great video package is played highlighting Christian’s career. Even though he is a huge underdog in this match, the video helps to showcase the fact that he still deserves one last shot. The guy is a seasoned veteran, a prolific mid-card champion, and professional enough to help put over other fighters like Alberto Del Rio. Christian appears first to a loud crowd reaction. The champ appears second to boos and gives a word to Lilian Garcia before she announces the fighters. Alberto insists that he is introduced in Spanish that ends up getting a loud mix of boos and cheers from the crowd. He is doing the best work of his career right now with this new vicious, desperate and exploitative attitude.

Alberto Del Rio makes Christian tap out to the armbar. Wow. This was a great match that featured a lot of near-pinfalls, physical action and clever counters. Christian did a great job selling the moves and Alberto did a great job showcasing his offense and playing to the crowd. The crowd loved every moment of this fight and the champion even started getting some loud cheers towards the end of the match. I thought the referee was going to count a pin for Christian since he had Alberto’s shoulders down on the mat while trying to struggle out of the armbar. Whatever goodwill Alberto made with the crowd disappears after the match when he grabs the mic and shouts out his people for another loud mix of cheers and boos.

Natalya (with Naomi and Cameron) vs. Brie Bella (with Nikki Bella and Eva Marie)

This match serves three purposes: 1. a Pay Per View check for Natalya which is actually notable news since the last time she’s appeared on PPV was last year’s Money In The Bank back in July. 2. to give the crowd a bathroom/concessions break and 3. to advertise the WWE’s new reality tv program. The crowd gets restless and starts chanting for Bradshaw, Cole and Lawler. Lawler jokes about the chants and asks Bradshaw if this means the crowd wants them to get involved in the fight.

Natalya ends the match when she makes Brie submit to the sharpshooter. Poor match with poor effort. There is a positive though, and its Natalya getting a win on a Pay Per View episode. It’s a feel good moment for a talent who is horribly unappreciated and underrated.

no DQ match: CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman)

Brock and Paul Heyman walk down the ring first while the commentators hype up the ‘no DQ’ rule and Brock’s accomplishments in the ring and in UFC. Brock is dressed in MMA shorts, gloves, skullcap and wrestling shoes. Punk appears second and the crowd goes insane. They love the guy and want to see him beat up Paul Heyman. There is a fan sign in the crowd insulting the president of TNA Wrestling (‘SMARTEN UP DIXIE’).

Brock pins Punk after he hits the F5 finisher on a folding chair. Great match that the crowd absolutely loved every minute of. There were a lot of power moves, MMA strikes, holds, counters, weapons, and even some dirty tactics. A lot of the sequences were logical. Both men also took the fight to another level with Punk using various offensive moves to try to take down the big man while Brock showed his ass off out there selling the moves and keeping up with Punk in a really long match. After the match, Punk gets a cheer and applause from the crowd while the commentators salute his effort. Even though the guy lost, it was the right call since a rematch can bring in more money if it’s scheduled at another big name Pay Per View episode such as Survivor Series, Royal Rumble or even Wrestlemania.

mixed tag team match: Big E. Langston and AJ vs. Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn

Both teams get quiet reactions. The crowd is probably burned out from the Punk and Brock brawl. The last mixed tag-team match in a Summerslam episode was in 2008 when Kofi and Mickie James teamed up to fight Santino and Beth Phoenix.

Dolph pins Big E. after he hits his finisher to end the match. Decent match that gave a crowd a good treat after a long and grueling main event brawl. It was short, straight to the point and had non-stop action. There was a funny moment after the match and in the ring when Dolph is teaching Kaitlyn to raise their arms together in a sign of victory. The discussion panel is brought up again where they all predict the winner for the Cena/Bryan fight.

John Cena (WWE champion) vs. Daniel Bryan

Triple H is introduced first and gets a better reception from the crowd than he did last year. The challenger appears second and the crowd goes insane with YES chants and loud cheers. A little kid is even shown wearing a fake beard and chanting along with the crowd. The champ appears last wearing a huge elbow pad on his left arm. The boos he is receiving right now are way louder than the boos he received in Philly just last month at Money In The Bank. The crowd starts to taunt Cena with loud ‘YOU CANT WRESTLE‘ chants so both fighters start off with some grappling and counters.

This is the most vocal crowd I’ve ever heard for a main event in a long time. Whatever D-Bryan will do, the crowd will love. Whatever Cena will do, they absolutely hate it and want him to die. There was also a very risky spot in the fight where D-Bryan tried to do a hurricanrana on Cena off the top rope. Cena hangs onto his legs and instead sends Bryan to the mat on the top of his head while he is still upside down.

Daniel Bryan becomes the new WWE champion when he pins Cena after hitting a running knee to the face. The crowd goes insane while D-Bryan celebrates the win with them. Cena tries to protest the decision to Hunter but to no avail. He shakes D-Bryan’s hand and walks away from the ring. This was a great match that helped to raise Daniel Bryan’s profile. The crowd absolutely loves him. The guy has a counter for every single move out there. He is definitely main-event material. Give credit to John Cena too for keeping up with Daniel’s moves and also bumping like mad for the guy (all while nursing an elbow injury).

Randy Orton’s theme music plays and he walks down the ramp to tease a Money In The Bank cash-in. The crowd erupts with more loud boos. Hunter attacks D-Bryan with the pedigree and Randy jumps into the ring to start the match. He pins an unconscious Daniel Bryan and wins the title as Hunter makes the pin count. As ecstatic the crowd was before, it’s now the total opposite. This crowd is silent and upset. I am confused myself since I don’t know why in the world Hunter would collaborate with Randy Orton now since they were bitter enemies before. It’s a huge inconsistency that will probably be addressed on RAW the following night.

In conclusion, this was a great episode of Summerslam and a huge improvement over last year’s episode. The two championship matches were both done well and a long-term plan is finally set in place to help propel Daniel Bryan into the main event scene. The crowd may hate the ending now but in the long run, it will help build Daniel Bryan into a sympathetic champion the people will love to root for. WWE knows that Cena’s years are winding down and he needs help carrying the load and burden of being a top star. Daniel Bryan seems more than capable enough to help out the WWE for years to come.

WWE Money In The Bank 2013: random thoughts and recap

ECW originals

Money In The Bank is one of my favorite pay-per-view episodes. Not only are the stakes high in the main events, you are also likely to see a lot of violence. The PG era of WWE still provides the viewer with violent matches but its definitely not often nowadays since they need to watch out for the tykes and sponsors watching the show.

A big problem for the WWE in recent years is the lack of hype created for their special episodes. For Money In The Bank, the hype was actually done well with the WWE mentioning Rob Van Dam’s return one month ahead and also building up a feud between John Cena and Mark Henry. The fans, including me, believe in Henry and the possibility that he can become champion one last time before he calls it a day. John Cena also has a credible opponent he can work with. It’s two legitimate main eventers fighting in one of the biggest matches of the year.

A video is shown to help hype up the top 3 matches on the fight card. They are still using the corny-ass ‘money money money’ theme song too. Tonight’s episode of WWE Money In The Bank takes place at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. The last WWE pay-per-view episode to be held here was Night Of Champions in 2009. Your commentators are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Bradshaw.

Dean Ambrose (United States champion) vs. Fandango vs. Antonio Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow

The show starts off fast with no intros for Fandango and the babyfaced Dean Ambrose, both of whom are already in the ring. Poor production as Ambrose is shown the entire time Lilian announces Fandango. It’s time for Cesaro and Swagger’s intro now. Zeb lectures the crowd with a racist promo which gets a disturbing callback from the crowd when he asks to put hands over their chests and shout their catchphrase with them. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow walk down the aisle. Sandow tries to piss off the crowd with dated Rocky references but he is inturrupted by Barrett and his Allen Iverson-esque elbow sleeve. Seems like he changes theme music every month now. Its like the WWE enjoys making it challenging for themselves when it comes to nurturing talent. The match starts off with a with a brawl between Cesaro, Swagger, Cody and Sandow.

Cesaro shows off his strength by throwing Cody Rhodes into a ladder that was propped up in the corner. Cody probably borrowed his trunks from his brother for tonight’s show. Cesaro’s slam was impressive but it was also followed up with another disturbing response from the crowd when Cesaro and Swagger do their catchphrase. Barrett starts fighting with Ambrose now while Lawler cracks jokes about Wade’s nose. When Barrett takes out Dean, he starts fighting with Fandango now. The crowd yells when Fandango crushes Barrett in the face with a springboard legdrop.

The match finally slows down when Barrett grabs a step from off a ladder outside the ring to use as a weapon. Antonio hits a huge uppercut on Barrett. Dean, Cesaro and Swagger start fighting for position now when Ambrose hits a sick DDT to counter one of Swagger’s moves. That got a huge response from the crowd. However, Cody putting Cesaro on his shoulders and slamming him into a ladder got an even louder response. The crowd even chants for Cody and his ‘stache. I also noticed something up with the WWE’s Twitter ticker, which actually displayed an incoherent and confusing message from the Bella twins. I am guessing this was a production mishap but I wouldn’t be surprised if the twins had posted that themselves.

The grown-ass men in the front row jump up and down and go crazy when Fandango hits a huge sunset flip off the ladder on Wade Barrett. I love to see crowds still go insane for play fighting.

Ambrose pays tribute to Terry Funk when he wears the ladder around his shoulders and spins it around like a helicopter to hit opponents. The Philly crowd enjoyed it and they also got a kick out of Dean showing off his athleticism by flipping himself up onto the ladder while carried by Cesaro and Swagger. It gets him dumped outside to the ring though. Damien Sandow is shown for a quick second hiding near the timekeeper outside the ring.

Very, very risky spot when Cody Rhodes hits a springboard dropkick onto Jack Swagger while he had Cesaro on his shoulders. It gets a huge response from the crowd though and they even start chanting for Cody again. He lays out both Barrett and Fandango with his finishing move. Cody takes a moment to soak in the crowd before he steps outside of the ring to get the giant ladder.

Cody is on the ladder and almost to the briefcase. Ambrose climbs up as well and starts to fight with him. Cody hits him with a bionic elbow and uses Dean’s shirt to bounce him off the ladder. He manages to get Ambrose from off the ladder but the Shield run in and attack him. Wade Barrett might have hurt himself for real when he is bumped off the ring by Seth Rollins. It looked like the back of Wade’s head hit the ring steps when he fell to the floor. The Uso’s run in now to attack the Shield and take the brawl outside of the ring. Cesaro and Swagger join their fight while Ambrose starts climbing up the ladder inside the ring. Cody wakes up and pushes the ladder towards the brawl outside the ring, where Dean crashes onto everyone fighting below. The crowd is going nuts again for Cody and the commentators start yelling and urging him to prop up the ladder again and grab the briefcase.

Damien Sandow ends the match after he grabs the briefcase. This was preceded by Sandow coming from outside the ring, grabbing Cody’s leg and yanking him off the ladder and onto the floor. The crowd is stunned at the result but I’m sure they were entertained anyway. This was a long match but it was still great because it had non-stop action. Sandow also gets a huge win after coming in with a strong debut but only to fizzle out and constantly lose to top mid-card talent. This boosts his credibility and also helps to set up an interesting feud with Cody Rhodes. Interesting because the briefcase can be used in the feud to raise the stakes. Bradshaw tries to hype up the victory by saying that he’d do the same thing to Faarooq if he had to win a championship.

Brad Maddox appears to talk to the crowd about his new job and about Vickie Guerrero. It’s like Eric Bischoff is talking right now. He points out Vickie in the pre-show booth and asks the crowd to salute her. Some guys sitting near her actually cheer and clap for her and Vickie tries to suppress her response. She looked geniunely touched. Maddox plays a tribute video for her with some very unflattering and disgusting footage. Some of the footage included Vickie chowing down on a Carl’s Jr. sandwich and Vickie in her drawers (ugh). I actually felt sorry for her and I think a lot of the crowd did too. They cheer Vickie when Maddox asks them in a sarcastic tone to salute her.  Poor segment that went on way too long but it gives the show to catch up and the crowd also gets to take a break.

That Vickie tribute video is conflicting. I don’t know how to feel about it, because I know they are trying to make fun of her but at the same time I appreciate the talent and attitude. No one should feel sorry for her because she signed up for the job but wow, they’ve had her do some really humiliating things. At the same time, I have to give her her props because the crowd really loves to hate and boo her and she is still a good sport about all of it. I lost my voice booing her years ago at a live event. Vickie has to be one of the top 10 villains in play fighting of all time.

The Miz vs. Curtis Axel (IC champion)

Both fighters don’t get much of a reception. Lawler can make fun of Paul’s hair all he wants, but I’m sure Paul has no problem about that since he knows the crowd adores him way more than the King. They even start off the match with a loud ECW chant. I hoped they would chant ECW throughout the entire thing but the cheers quickly turn to boos when Heyman is sent backstage by the referee. The crowd starts to chant ‘WE WANT HEYMAN’ when the match resumes.

On a side note, the WWE and Axel both need Heyman’s help if they plan to build Axel as a top star. He has the talent but he really needs the guidance. The guy can fight and sell moves but he can’t sell himself on the mic, has no distinct look, no personality and no charisma. He needs to do a lot more to connect with the crowd. These are all things that can be improved over time but this is his second chance here. If the guy can’t get it all together now, then when?

Boring match so far until Miz starts to pick up his offense and call to the crowd. He was getting a mixed response at first but when he stands up to the corner to ask for a louder response, he gets louder boos and even some middle fingers.

Axel retains after hitting his a big neckbreaker on Miz. That move is a better finishing move than the Perfect-Plex but it looks more risky to pull off. Decent match that featured a lot of offense from Axel and a lot of playing to the crowd by Miz. This fight benefits both men since Axel gets a win over a credible mid-card guy and Miz finally gets attention from the audience. Even if it was a negative response, it was probably the loudest response for the Miz in years so it will be interesting if the script writers will follow up on that.

AJ (Divas champion) (with Big E.) vs. Kaitlyn (with Layla)

Not sure why Layla is with Kaitlyn but the commentators claim that she is siding with her for moral support. Layla looks so much better without the blonde hair. Kaitlyn has a good response but there are also lots of AJ fans. For some reason, Bradshaw calls AJ the ‘Kathy Bates of the WWE’. He’s lost his mind a long time ago.

One thing I also noticed is the referee for the fight. Referees usually stay in the background and this one is no exception, but it is not often you see an Asian-American referee or play fighter in the WWE. Its also not often you see or hear about a WWE personality who is from the Bay Area.

Fan sign in the front row: ‘I CAME FOR KAITLYN’. Too much information. Some grown ass man in the front row yells at Big E. to get his hands off his girl when he catches AJ in his arms after Kaitlyn knocks her off the top rope.

AJ makes Kaitlyn submit by locking her in the octopus hold to retain the belt. Good and realistic match that showcased Kaitlyn’s power moves and story-telling and AJ’s impressive counters and submission holds. All the sequences just flowed perfectly and were logical.

Chris Jericho vs. Ryback

A video recap is played to help hype up the feud and storyline. The crowd is clearly on Jericho’s side for this one with loud Y2J chants for him and ‘GOLDBERG’ chants for his opponent. I would have expected an RVD chant too since Ryback is wearing his attire.

Ryback pins Jericho with a rollup. Are you kidding me? I mean, I can understand since he the villain and its playing up how close and cheap the win is, but it just felt totally out of character. Although the ending was poor, the match itself though was good and Jericho really showed his ass off out there bumping for Ryback. He also did a great job getting the crowd involved in a match most people thought he wouldn’t win since he’s been losing often lately on pay per view episodes. There was also a lack of hype for the feud too since it felt like it was just thrown together in the last minute. Even worse, the commentators never played up the fact that this was Ryback’s first win on pay per view in almost a year.

A video is played with Triple H giving a tour of the new WWE Performance Center in Orlando, FL. This is a huge training, rehab and video production center and it’s great the WWE finally has something like this because they usually don’t think long-term solutions like this. Cole and the commentators talk about how excited they are for the new training center. I am not sure Cole has heard the news yet but I’m sure a lot of viewers cringed along with me when he talked about how this was a great weekend in Florida.

Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight champion) vs. Dolph Ziggler

Ziggler appears first without AJ and Big E. Good move since he needs to establish himself now by himself. Alberto comes down to the ramp second to a mild response. No Ricardo since he is currently suspended for violating wellness policy. The crowd loves Ziggler and they are desperate for a title change.

AJ appears mid-match to distract Ziggler and the crowd. He tries to tell her to leave the ring but she refuses. The crowd even chants at her to leave. Some grown ass man sitting nearby feels otherwise though and he yells to AJ that he loves her.

The crowd wants Ziggler to win so they chant ‘USA’. Now I want Del Rio to win because of that stupid chant. My wish is  fulfilled when AJ jumps into the ring to hit Alberto in the face with her belt to disqualify Ziggler. Good match that helped set up tension between AJ and Dolph and the rematch with Del Rio since there was never a real finish. It even helps Big E out since fans will wonder who he will side with in this feud. When Dolph walks out on AJ and heads towards the back, the crowd chants ‘YOU SCREWED ZIGGLER’ to AJ who is still standing in the ring.

John Cena (champion) vs. Mark Henry

I’m actually excited to see this match. They have to reward Mark Henry for that fake retirement segment a few weeks back. The crowd yells and cheers when Mark Henry appears first. Cole and Lawler talk about the history he’s had in Philly which included his very first WWE match against Jerry Lawler. The champ appears second to very loud boos. He cracks a joke about the city of brotherly love to the camera before he runs out to the ring.

Slow match but the crowd is enjoying every minute of it since its all been Mark Henry so far. They chant along with him too, with loud ‘CENA SUCKS’ and even ‘SEXUAL CHOCOLATE’ chants.

The crowd gasps when Cena hits his finisher on Mark Henry. They jump for joy when its only a 2 count. They jump again when Henry catches Cena in his hands and hits the World’s Strongest Slam. My heart sank when it was only a 2 count. The crowd starts chanting ‘ONE MORE TIME’ while Henry takes a breather.

Cena makes Mark Henry tap out after countering the World’s Strongest Slam with the STF hold. My heart just sank again and I think the crowd felt the same way. Even though this fight was light on the action, it featured a lot of tension and drama. This was a very good match. I am not sure if there will be a Summerslam rematch but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was. The WWE loves rematches.

Rob Van Dam vs. Christian vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. CM Punk

RVD is introduced first wearing black and red tights. The crowd celebrates his return and Rob takes a few minutes to soak up the response and even clown around with the ring announcer. The dependable veteran Christian appears second making his PPV return after a year away recovering from a serious shoulder injury. He doesn’t get much of a reaction but the guy after him does. D-Bryan isn’t wearing his custom jackets anymore but instead a new t-shirt with his face on the front with the slogan ‘Respect The Beard’. Orton shows up to the ring now with a good reaction. Sheamus follows after to mixed cheers and boos. Punk is introduced last and he is still sporting the Wolverine look with a Gracie dojo hoodie. He also looks like he hasn’t showered in weeks. The match starts off with a beatdown on RVD.

The crowd gets a treat when RVD recovers and starts to hit his trademark moves on his opponents. Sheamus even gets the crowd into it when he socks Christian in the nose while both men were fighting for the ladder. He takes a really nasty looking fall from the ladder when RVD knocks him off. You usually don’t see Sheamus in a match this like so it is very refreshing to see him take his offense and his selling up to another level tonight.

A huge spot occurs when Sheamus is pulled down off the ladder by his trunks by Punk. Before that, the crowd had a moment chanting YES and NO when Sheamus and D-Bryan were exchanging punches. Sheamus cracks RVD in the dome with a ladder shot. An odd move since the WWE claims they take head trauma seriously. Randy Orton pays tribute to ECW his own way by throwing Punk onto a ladder with a t-bone suplex reminscent of Taz. The crowd starts chanting for tables soon after.

RVD just squashed Christian with a 5-star frog splash from off the top of the ladder. Crowd predictably responds with ECW chants but since he just hit the big move of the fight, I highly doubt he is going to win now.

Even though the crowd loves RVD, D-Bryan just won them over with a sequence of offensive moves, which included a suicide dive on Punk, a big double missile dropkick, and knocking Sheamus off the top rope and through a ladder propped sideways outside the ring. Curtis Axel suddenly runs out to the ring to attack D-Bryan and quiet down the crowd. Axel is attacked by Punk which gets Paul Heyman to appear just to berate an unconscious Axel. Heyman finally interferes himself when he double-crosses Punk by bloodying him and also knocking him out with several ladder shots.

After fighting with RVD and disposing of him, Randy Orton finally ends the match when he successfully unhooks the briefcase. This was an unusually violent match that got a bit silly at the end with the Punk/Heyman/Axel nonsense. I couldn’t imagine the other fighters being out of the match for so long that no one would even notice all that was happening with Punk and Heyman. I kept thinking someone would at least wake up and use that moment to go after the briefcase. It didn’t make much sense but at least the match was good and it helps to set up a future storyline between Punk and Paul Heyman. Giving the win to Randy Orton will help him out in the long-run since he will have at least a year to compete for a world title. It’s been a long while since he was in the top card but the crowd still enjoys seeing him and he does a good job getting them hyped up for his fights.

In conclusion, this was a great PPV that featured a lot of action, drama and story-telling. New feuds were set and there seems to be some focus on rebuilding former top stars. It might not seem much but its a start that the WWE needs to keep working on on a consistent level. The commentary was unremarkable but Cole did a good job helping to hype up the fight card and the history of the play fighting industry in Philadelphia. The only issue to me was the production which seemed to have timing issues for most of the first hour. Everything just felt rushed, leaving the viewer with no time to soak up what they’ve just seen. WWE’s next pay per view episode will be one of its main showcases so hopefully they will get it a bit more organized next time around.

WWE Payback 2013: random thoughts and recap


Since the WWE canceled The Great American Bash, June is the time WWE likes to experiment with themed pay-per-view episodes. Last year, they brought back No Way Out. In 2011, it was WWE Capitol Punishment with the worst Obama impersonator ever. In 2010, it was WWE Fatal 4-way. As with most of the ppv episodes this year so far and going back to last year, WWE Payback is another episode hurt by the lack of hype and build for the fight card. Hell, I even almost forgot there was a ppv episode on tonight since I was thinking about Game 5 of the NBA Finals instead. Judging by the picture above this, its fair to wonder if Punk had almost forgot about tonight too, since it looks like he is having a ball on his vacation. I think with the lack of quality programming WWE fails to put out on a consistent level, its ok to have something more important like the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals on your minds instead of a ppv episode where you know the feuds won’t be settled. Tonight’s event takes place in the Chicago area where all eyes will be on Chris Jericho’s opponent.

Tonight’s episode of WWE Payback takes place at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL. It is one of the WWE’s most favorite arenas as last year, the venue hosted Extreme Rules. Your commentators are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Bradshaw.

triple threat match: The Miz vs. Wade Barrett (IC champion) vs. Curtis Axel (with Paul Heyman)

The champion walks down last and also wearing an Allen Iverson-esque elbow sleeve. The three fighters don’t get much of a reaction but when the match starts, the fans salute Paul Heyman with a loud ECW chant. Lawler isn’t having any of that and starts to clown on Paul’s hair, calling it a ‘skullet.’ The commentators start to talk about Axel’s link to Paul and help establish a background for his character. Hard job to do for a guy with absolutely zero charisma. A close pinfall by Axel using the Perfect-plex gets the crowd crazy though. Someone in the crowd also has a ‘I MISS LITA’ sign.

Axel pins Wade while he was tangled in Miz’s figure four leglock. He wins the IC title and gets a good reception from the crowd. This was a solid opener with fast-paced action and lots of close pinfalls. The crowd loved the creative ending and they also loved seeing Axel celebrate with his new belt. He has worked with the WWE for about 6 years and this is his very first singles title. The villains head to the backstage area where Vince congratulates them and tries to set up a match between Hunter and Axel for tomorrow night’s episode of RAW.

AJ (with Big E.) vs. Kaitlyn (Divas champion)

Kaitlyn gets a quiet reception from the crowd while the pint-sized challenger gets a huge cheer. The girls start off with a brawl outside the ring where Kaitlyn throws AJ over a table. The diminutive diva recovers from that and hits a big dropkick off the apron onto the champ. Cole tries to put over the background of the feud and even laughs at the King claiming he knows what women think. Lawler cracks another joke about being married three times but having no anniversaries. He also puts the action in the ring over the best way he only can, saying that AJ deserves a spanking after Kaitlyn rips off AJ’s belt.

The grown-ass men in the crowd applause and cheer and when AJ makes Kaitlyn submit to an octopus hold. Good match that showcased Kaitlyn’s power moves and AJ’s selling and unique counters. Kaitlyn looked like a huge idiot during this match which probably did more bad than good because it turned the crowd against her. Bradshaw has no sympathy for the loser. The crowd chants ‘YOU TAPPED OUT’ at the former champ and boos her when she starts sobbing on her way back to the ramp. To make things more weird, someone sends out Layla to help console her which gets louder boos and a sarcastic ‘AWWW’ from the crowd. Ouch.

Kane vs. Dean Ambrose (US champion)

The challenger appears first to a good reception. The champ gets an even louder cheer when he walks through the Chicago crowd. Ambrose walks by a fan in a yellow Punk shirt dancing like a robot. Reminded me of the guy who used to do the robot in the background of Chappelle’s Show sketches.

Boring match so far but Dean tries to keep the crowd awake by playing to their cheers. There is some asshole in the crowd wearing a ‘I’M A CHRIS BENOIT GUY’ t-shirt trying to get on camera. Ambrose tries to do a ‘old school’ shoulder chop off the top rope but Kane counters it by throwing him off the corner. Someone else in the crowd has a ‘SIGNS ARE STUPID’ sign.

Dean wins the match by countout. Average match that went on a bit too long. Dean’s offense was realistic but also slow-paced. Luckily he had the crowd on his side and he also did his best to keep their attention. Hopefully this ends the feud but the countout ending sets up a rematch. At this point though, if the WWE wants to build up his title reign, they need to give him new challengers to beat.

The crowd goes nuts for a video highlighting RVD’s career and eventual return to the WWE after 6 years away at Money In The Bank 2013 next month. RVD’s return should help the WWE in the short-term, as the fans would like to see fresh matchups and feuds (RVD vs. Punk, RVD vs. Daniel Bryan, RVD vs. Ziggler, RVD vs. Sheamus, etc).

Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Dolph Ziggler (World Heavyweight champion) (with AJ & Big E.)

The challenger is introduced first to a lukewarm response while the Zig Zag man gets huge cheers for his return to pay-per-view. Ricardo is dressed as a nightclub owner. Some back and forth action helps to start off the match but the tone is set when Alberto gives Dolph a headbutt and starts to aggressively hit his moves on Ziggler. He even ignores the referee’s commands and even celebrates when the referee tells Big E. to leave the ring area.

Alberto kicks Dolph in the head outside the ring drawing huge boos from the crowd. When the trainer goes in to check on Ziggler, Alberto kicks him in the head again for more boos. He also kicks AJ’s Divas belt into the path of a stagehand. It is fair to say that the title has been treated a lot worse than that.

The commentators start talking about how tough Dolph is after Alberto hits a running enziguiri to successfully pin the guy and end the match. Great match with a lot of drama, great storytelling and great acting. Everyone played their roles perfectly in this fight. The trainer and referee checks on Dolph while the crowd chants for him. AJ looks on in disappointment and concern. After the match, Alberto addresses the crowd in a solid speech that gets loud boos. That was probably the loudest crowd reaction he’s received in months.

CM Punk (with Paul Heyman) vs. Chris Jericho

Jericho is introduced first to a mix of both loud cheers and boos. A kid is also shown in the crowd wearing his own lite-brite jacket. Punk shows up second looking like Wolverine and ends his vacation by soaking in the long and loud crowd reaction. He is wearing Chicago Blackhawks colors with the logo printed on the tights.

Slow start so far with both fighters exchanging punches, chops and kicks. They even have some trouble trying to execute a submission spot together. The crowd is still paying attention to the match only because Punk is getting a chance to showcase his offense. It takes a toll on the former champion and he ends up getting winded.

I thought the fight ended when Punk hits his finisher on Jericho for the first time. Seems like nowadays, finishers don’t really mean anything since everyone ends up kicking out of them at least one time anyway.

Punk finally ends the match when he pins Jericho after hitting his finisher on him again and again. Ridiculous ending but this was a great fight and effort from both men. Paul Heyman’s acting and the crowd’s reactions helped to add to the drama of the match. Punk’s selling and effort helped to tell the story of a fighter having trouble at work coming back after a long vacation. Jericho was also the perfect opponent to help match up with Punk for his first fight back. Great fight and I’d say it was a lot better than their Wrestlemania 28 match.

Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns (Tag Team champions) vs. Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton

The champs get a good reception but the challengers get a louder reception, especially for D-Bryan who has the entire place chanting for him. He doesn’t walk out to the ring wearing his custom-made jackets. Bryan’s fast-paced action helps get the crowd into the match but the Shield takes over on offense to slow down the fight. The commentators explain the challengers’ new partnership and history with their opponents. Randy Orton has some limited experience as a tag team fighter, but he hasn’t been a contender in the division since 2007.

Seth pins Bryan after hitting a flying stomp to the head. The bad guys retain the titles but the ending helps to set up a possible feud between Orton and D-Bryan. This was a good match that gave a crowd a huge treat. They wanted to see a lot of Daniel Bryan and the WWE gave him a lot of time to perform. His loss didn’t even really matter to them since they were still entertained anyway. A new push for the guy would be the best in the long-term since it would help build his credibility as a top star and also help lighten the workload off from John Cena and CM Punk.

3 Stages Of Hell match: Ryback vs. John Cena (WWE champion)

The ring announcer does a good job explaining the rules of the match. The 3 Stages Of Hell format never made much sense to me since the 2 out of 3 pinfall rule is never made clear or emphasized during a storyline or fight. The first match is a lumberjack match and the job squad all walk out to the ring. Ryback hasn’t won on a pay per view episode in months but the commentators try to hype his chances by saying that Cena has never pinned him. The challenger appears first to no reaction. The champ gets a mixed reaction with loud boos and cheers.

Ryback pins Cena after hitting his finisher to get his first successful pin on pay per view in months. The pinfall was preceded by a big spot where Cena dives off the top rope and lands on a bunch of guys fighting outside the ring. Sin Cara clearly misses his cue and falls down way too late after Cena had landed. Boring match and with lazy effort from both fighters. Hopefully the tables match will bring more action to the fight.

Cena hits his finisher on Ryback through a table after a countering sequence. This was a good match with some creative spots, but it also made Ryback look like a moron. If he couldn’t beat Cena using the ring steps and also a using a bunch of tables, there was no way he was going to win the 3rd match. He finally gets some crowd reaction in the match, at least. “GOLDBERG” chants are a crowd reaction right?

Ryback attacks Cena before the officials can ring the bell to start the ambulance match. The assault included a powerbomb through the commentator’s table but Cena wakes up after being carried from the ring to the ambulance parked near the entrance stage. Cole makes a joke about drive-bys after Cena slams Ryback into the ambulance so hard that the door pops off. Not really a good time to bring up any gun crime after an extremely violent weekend in the Windy City.

Cena wins the match and ends the fight after stuffing Ryback through the roof of the ambulance with his finisher. This was an average brawl with poor crowd reaction. The ambulance being stripped to use as weapons was comical. As a whole, this main event was also an average effort except for the tables match. The brawling and action definitely stepped up in that segment of the fight but when the ambulance match started, the drama was gone and the crowd ended up checking out.

In conclusion, this was a very good ppv episode that actually helped to set up hype for their next episode in July. The WWE needs all the hype they can get for Summerslam, so building it up early for Money In The Bank can only help. Tonight’s action was well-done, there was a lot of drama and logical storytelling, and the crowd was active and loud for most of the evening. WWE Payback could end up being one of their most underrated pay per view episodes of the year.

WWE Extreme Rules 2013: random thoughts and recap

Today is May 19, 2013. It’s not Kane’s special day anymore, but its been more than a year since Brock Lesnar’s reappearance in the WWE. His return to the WWE hyped up many of the fans who were looking forward to seeing an edgier product and fresh matchups with newer play fighters. It’s been a year and fans haven’t seen any of this. A lot of this is due to Brock’s limited dates but I see no reason why the WWE can still pair him up with a new and fresh opponent while also accommodating his schedule. Brock vs. John Cena at last year’s Extreme Rules episode was a great match that had a lot of potential for an interesting follow-up. If Brock had won that match instead of Cena, it could have been a great redemption story for Cena if the WWE had shown him training and getting ready for a rematch down the line. Cena picks up the big win in the rematch and everyone moves on to other stories. Instead, the fans get about 3 months of Cena goofing around with Big Show and Big Johnny.

Fans like me expected Brock to help put over full-time guys like Sheamus or CM Punk or even Ryback, but instead the WWE has him feud with Triple H. Nothing wrong with that of course because this was actually a fresh matchup never done before in the WWE when both men were in their prime. The problem here though, was that the anticipation for the fight was never really there since fans know that Hunter is a part of the front office now and doesn’t have the time to properly hype up a big money fight. The fans never really believed Brock was a real threat to Hunter, and although Brock could have proved them wrong by showing up to work more often to hype up the fight, his limited schedule tied him up to the point where no one really cared because they couldn’t buy into the thought of Brock beating his boss in an important match. When the match happened, it turned the entire feud off to those who were actually interested. The fight itself was slow, repetitive, boring and both men had no chemistry with each other. Hunter looked tired and old, and neither fighter played up to the crowd during the match. The only crowd reaction that match received were the mocking ‘YOU TAPPED OUT‘ chants directed at Hunter at the end of the fight.

This year’s Extreme Rules lacks any of the anticipation and build the fans had for Brock vs. John Cena last year. This time, it’s a hobbled Cena facing off against a guy who has a lot of potential to be a main event star but hasn’t won on pay-per-view since July of last year. That is unacceptable for a company desperate to create new stars. The match itself sounds unappealing (to me at least) because its going to be Last Man Standing rules. I understand putting together a slow match to take liberties regarding Cena’s bum ankle, but it’s could make for a painful viewing experience. The cage match with Brock and Hunter could also be just as painful to watch. Even though their Wrestlemania rematch was more physical and less boring than their first match, I highly doubt the fans are looking forward to this one since it was assumed that the feud ended when Hunter got the win last month. It just feels like there will be no real payoff for the fans here. Speaking of payoffs, I’m sure Brock is thrilled to be working with the boss. For more than $5 million a year, I’d be thrilled to lose to Triple H whenever and wherever.

Today’s episode of WWE Extreme Rules takes place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO. The same venue was used for the Royal Rumble last year. Your commentators are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Bradshaw.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango (with Summer Rae)

This is a rematch from last month’s Wrestlemania. Jericho is introduced first to a delighted crowd. A video recap of the storyline is played to hype up the fight. Fandango is introduced second and Lawler starts drooling all over his mic over the dancer. His entrance is entirely played out to the crowd while Jericho waits in his corner. WWE really missed the ball on the Fandango chanting. By recognizing the fan chants immediately, they took the fun out of the thing because it was the fans who made it look cool, and not the WWE. It felt like if your parents started getting into an interest you thought was cool. Jericho starts off the fight with some fast-paced offense which drives Fandango out of the ring. He leaps onto Fandango off the top rope to the outside of the ring and poses to the crowd for a loud cheer.

Jericho pins Fandango when he hits a Codebreaker to counter his opponent’s top rope leap. This was a great opener which featured a lot of brawling, playing to the crowd, and even some counters thrown into the mix. Jericho already got a great response from the fans, but they also loved to boo Fandango whenever he’d taunt the crowd before doing a move.

Kofi Kingston (United States champion) vs. Dean Ambrose

The champion is introduced first to a mild crowd reaction. The challenger walks towards the ring through the crowd to a huge cheer. The commentators play up the Dean’s background, or lack of it thereof. Cole also takes a moment to remind the audience that this match will not be called under Extreme Rules. Both men start off with some fast-paced offense with Kofi leading the way. The crowd isn’t really receptive to it though, and they are clearly calling for an Ambrose win.

Dean Ambrose pins Kofi after hitting an impressive finisher. It was a headlock turned into a face-first slam. The crowd goes crazy for the win and Dean’s crimeys turn up to celebrate the victory with him. Solid match which combined Kofi’s fast-paced moves and counters with Dean’s realistic offense. The WWE continues to push the Shield but they must do more to establish their background and philosophy. All three members play the roles perfectly though, with Dean explaining the group’s motivation, Seth making the threats, and Roman letting everyone else know that they are not playing around.

strap match: Mark Henry vs. Sheamus

Mark Henry is introduced first to a good crowd pop. The camera even pans in close for a fan with a ‘THATS WHAT I DO‘ sign. Sheamus is second with a mixed crowd reaction. After Sheamus tags the first corner, he is countered with a clothesline from the ‘worlds strongest man.’ Cole takes a moment to explain the rules for this gimmick match.

Henry is doing a great job selling for Sheamus, but its taking a toll on the big guy. He already looks way winded and tired out there. The crowd is still on his side for this one though. The fight goes outside the ring for a moment where Sheamus uses the strap to drag Mark Henry towards the ring post for a cartoonish bump.

Sheamus wins the match after hitting the Brogue Kick and touching all four corners. The crowd pops big for the win but the big story is going on in the ring, where trainers are shown consulting Mark Henry. He is lying down on his side and looks to be in serious pain. The commentators ignore the situation in the ring and play up Sheamus’s victory. Poor and slow match that took the fun out of an old-school concept that isn’t done often nowadays due to its violent nature.

Backstage, AJ fights with Kaitlyn while the Bella twins laugh and point in the background. It apparently started after AJ got the last word in an argument between the two girls. As a hero, Kaitlyn should have walked away from that but attacking AJ behind her back is a villain move. Why the writers put that in the script is confusing. How are you supposed to cheer for someone who just blindsided another person half your size?

‘I Quit’ match: Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Jack Swagger (with Uncle Zebekiah)

Zeb riles up the crowd with a nonsensical promo. He goes off on the IRS, the government, the media, people in the crowd, the St. Louis Cardinals, MLB, Carribean people, Dolph Ziggler and many other things in a complaint that goes well over 5 minutes. Alberto is introduced second to a decent cheer. Instead of hyping up the match, the commentators talk about the issues raised by Zeb a moment ago. Bradshaw even agrees with some of the complaints and uses strawman arguments to defend them.

The fight starts off with Swagger using a kendo stick to control the offense. When he has Alberto down, Swagger shouts a taunt to the crowd and to his opponent. When Swagger heads to the outside of the ring, a fan in a yellow shirt sitting in the front stands up to tell Swagger that he’s not a real American. I agree with him. Fucking hilarious.

Swagger hits his trademark powerbomb on Alberto twice but doesn’t get him to quit the fight. There are audible cheers for Jack Swagger. I don’t know how to feel about that.

Zeb tries to interfere and throws in Ricardo’s towel to stop the fight when Alberto was trapped in Swagger’s ankle lock. The match is momentarily stopped to have the referee review the tape. Bradshaw asks when did the WWE start using instant replay. Cole replies that since it’s a number 1 contender’s match, they have to review tape to make sure it’s by the books. This on a WWE episode called ‘EXTREME RULES.’

Alberto makes Swagger quit with the cross armbreaker. The crowd gives him a good reaction for the victory. The commentators don’t really hype up his win. Instead, they start debating over the use of instant replay in WWE matches. Cole says it is necessary for important matches like this while Bradshaw says that instant replay sets a bad precedent that shouldn’t be brought up by inferior officiating. This match was well done but the feud has run its course. Dolph Ziggler was originally scheduled in this match to make it a triple threat fight, but he was pulled out of the show because of a concussion. The WWE treats that stuff very seriously now and even donated a gift recently towards research regarding brain injuries. More on that later.

tornado rules match: Kane & Daniel Bryan (Tag Team champions) vs. Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns

The ring announcer takes a moment to explain the rules as all four fighters will be active, which means no tags. The champs are introduced first to a loud cheer as Bradshaw mentions the relevance of today’s date for Kane. The challengers (without the new US champion) creep in through the crowd looking serious and focused to fight. They didn’t get loud cheers like Dean Ambrose had received earlier from the crowd but instead get a lot of curious stares.

The champions set the tone with a series of crowd-pleasing double team moves. The crowd loves every bit of it but the Shield hasn’t had a moment to showcase their offense yet. When they finally do, its Kane who takes much of the beating, which includes a flying knee from Seth Rollins and a roundhouse kick to the gut from Roman.

Roman pins D-Bryan after another flying knee from Rollins off the top rope. The Shield become the new tag team champions but the crowd doesn’t know how to react. They love Kane and Daniel Bryan but they also love the Shield and the title change. Dean Ambrose runs into the ring to celebrate and all three members hold up their belts. This was a great match that featured all kinds of tag team moves the audience hasn’t seen in years. Not only was it unique in that regard, it was also in a fast pace with non-stop action.

A segment is aired with Renee Young, Wade Barrett, Titus O’Neal and Mick Foley with the guys all dressed up in button-downs and church pants. It’s for a recap show after the episode. There was nothing interesting in this segment except a blooper where the production screwed up on the camerawork for a quick moment.

extreme rules match: Randy Orton vs. Big Show

Big Show appears first to silence from the crowd. The hometown hero is poorly introduced by Lilian Garcia to a very loud cheer. Orton starts off the fight with some brawling that gets the crowd hot and bothered. He even shouts at them to give him more cheers. Show slows down the pace of the match to catch a breather and to help build a comeback story for Orton. He takes a moment to set up a ladder in the corner with the use of some folding chairs.

In a really dangerous spot, Show leaps onto the ladder from the second rope when Orton dodges the splash. The referee clears the ring of the debris and Randy hits the DDT on Show while he is draped over the top rope. He starts to play with the crowd and then hits the RKO for a two count.

Orton hits the punt kick much to the crowd’s delight. He grabs Show’s kneepads to hook his legs for the successful pin. This match was entertaining but also slow and a bit of a chore to watch at times. Both fighters gave great effort though and the crowd made the match more special than it actually was. It was a treat for the crowd, as they got to see their hometown guy showcase his trademark moves, including one he hasn’t done in a long time claiming it was banned by the front office.

last man standing match: John Cena (WWE champion) vs. Ryback

The challenger walks down to the ring first to a lukewarm reaction. The champion gets a decent cheer but when the match starts, he gets more of a mix of cheers and boos. Ryback gets loud ‘GOLDBERG‘ chants that the commentators ignore yet again. I still miss Goldberg.

Ryback is taking moments to play up to the crowd but it’s not really working. His power moves are getting their attention though, as he hits a press slam, a powerbomb and even a fallaway slam through a table which gets no response from Bradshaw, despite it being one of his old trademark moves. Ryback even hits his old piggyback stunner finisher on Cena for a good cheer from the crowd. Getting slammed through a table won’t put Cena down even for 20 seconds. He takes over on offense now and gives Ryback a powerbomb of his own.

A really weird sequence of moves happens when Cena leaps onto Ryback towards the ropes and grabs and holds onto him by the neck. At one point, they both look like they can’t decide on what to do next, so they just have Ryback pick Cena back up while he is still attached and then slam him down to release the hold. Cena brings in another table into the ring.

Both men are brawling into the crowd now. Ryback grabs a piece of the arena’s penalty box and hits Cena over the head with it. Cena survives the count and takes over the brawl by putting a sleeper hold on Ryback. He sets up Ryback on a table and hops on top of him from the seats. He hits him with a fire extinguisher twice. Finally, he tries to go for his finisher on the stage. Ryback counters though with a slam through the set which causes sparks to fly. This spot was reminiscent of Rhino tackling Chris Jericho through the Smackdown set back in 2001.

The match is called off when both guys are incapacitated from going through the stage set. Ryback is out but most of the attention is on Cena, who is being treated by the meds as if he’s been shot. The commentators review the bump at various angles. Poor ending but the story has to go on because the fight wasn’t settled. The match itself was slow but also quite physical, as it was Ryback handling most of the offense while Cena sold his high-impact moves.

steel cage match: Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman)

Brock slowly walks to the ring but Hunter immediately runs in and attacks him in the aisle. He punches Paul Heyman out and throws Brock into the ring to start the match. Hunter is wearing black wrist tape this time. Brock recovers from the ambush while the commentators talk about his MMA history. Bradshaw even mentions that Matt Hughes is sitting behind them rooting for Brock. Not a fan but I still have respect for having a prolific professional fighting career. My favorite Matt Hughes moment was him getting knocked the fuck out by BJ Penn.

Slow and boring match so far. Triple H is busy selling Brock’s power moves while Brock is trying to sell a knee injury at the same time. Heyman starts to interfere in the fight by slamming the cage door onto Hunter’s head and also brings a chair into the ring. Lawler mocks Heyman’s advice to Brock about how he should finish off his opponent. Bradshaw interrupts him to tell him to show some respect to one of the greatest managers of all time (damn right). He even has a good laugh at Heyman hamming it up outside the ring when Hunter takes over and starts beating up Brock with the folding chair. The boss takes it a bit too far by having Brock beg him for mercy. Brock looks like an idiot here. This is a professional MMA fighter fighting and begging for mercy with a pretend fighter. But again, I’d be thrilled to pocket $5 million a year to ask a pretend fighter for mercy.

Hunter brings in a silver-colored sledgehammer into the fight. He locks the sharpshooter onto Brock as a counter. Bret Hart must be so upset right now. Paul Heyman has seen enough of the beating so he decides to run into the match to interfere. He gets a pedigree for his troubles. Brock gets one as well that only gets a two count. After Heyman recovers behind Hunter, he hits the guy with a low blow. Brock nails Hunter in the head with his sledgehammer.

The match ends with Brock pinning Hunter after hitting the F5 finisher. The crowd reacts with silence while the cage is raised and Brock celebrates with his manager on top of the ramp. This was actually a surprising effort from both guys. I expected a slow match and even though this was a slow match, they took the action up to another level with the props and weapons used during the match. Even though Brock fought like a moron in this match, it was a good effort that had the right outcome. I could have done without Heyman interfering for about half of the fight but I also understand that they had to do it to help hype up Brock as a villain and cheater.  However I also felt that it’s not really convincing or even productive to have an MMA guy struggle to beat up a play fighter one-on-one and then cheat to win the match with the help of his buddy. I couldn’t even suspend my disbelief for that. It’s the WWE’s money though, so whatever. The commentators close out the show by hyping up the post-show recap with Renee Young. Renee asks Wade Barrett what he thought about what just happened and you can’t even understand his answer through the really thick accent. That was more hilarious than the fan in the yellow shirt who yelled at Swagger.

In conclusion, this was a good pay-per-view episode. The mid-card really stepped it up tonight with CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler missing from the fight card. The crowd was loud and responsive tonight but calmed down once the Cena and Ryback match began, and then calmed down even more when their match got called off. The WWE really needs help right now giving the mid-card some credibility so maybe some fresh and new matchups involving the Shield can help add some variety to the show. The WWE has the talent to put on quality shows but they need to improve the booking to establish long-term priorities. I don’t mind Cena as the champion but they need to build up credible rivals to help him carry the main event workload. Ryback was treated like an afterthought before and even after the match.

Before the show ended, the commentators ask the viewers to check their website and post-show recap regarding injuries to Brock, Hunter and Cena. They did not however, mention any updates about Mark Henry who may have suffered a real injury in his match.

WWE Wrestlemania 29: random thoughts and recap

‘twice’ in a lifetime

On paper, the Wrestlemania fight card looks impressive but the lack of plot may have hurt the anticipation going into the event. This is pretty unacceptable for a show that runs every week for 3 hours. The main event is a rematch from last year’s Wrestlemania episode and although the feud has been built up well in the past month, I am not sure if fans want to watch a match that was declared ‘once in a lifetime’ just last year. The lack of anticipation for the main event might also have to do with the predicted outcome of the match, with Rocky expected to drop the title to John Cena and then leave the WWE again.

Another big match hurt because of the lack of plot, is Undertaker vs. CM Punk. If I had booked this, I would have Punk train and train going into Wrestlemania. Show the guy working out at the gym, give him tune-up matches, and have him talk about how since he wants to beat the best, he needs to be at his best. When its time for the match, Punk will do everything he can to try to beat Undertaker, but he just can’t finish him off. This will help build sympathy with the crowd, as they want to see a guy who has busted his ass off working and training the past month, beat a WWE legend and end the winning streak. By the end of the match though, Undertaker finds a way to win and keeps the streak alive, thus actually disappointing the crowd because they were rooting for Punk. The guy can even give a speech after the fight talking about how he tried his best, and that he intends to take a break to gather his thoughts. That would set up a huge crowd reaction for his return whenever that may be. Instead, they go the lazy route and have Punk exploit Paul Bearer’s death all the way to show time. Undertaker’s physical limitations might also hurt the quality of the match overall. The guy only fights once a year now.

The Triple H and Brock Lesnar rematch is another one that the fans might end up tuning out on as well. If they have another poor match, the NYC/NJ crowd could give Brock the worst crowd reaction since he fought Goldberg at Wrestlemania 20. The predicted outcome of the match might also hurt the hype, as Hunter is expected to win the rematch and get a big Wrestlemania win. Don’t rule out a Brock victory though, because if they are thinking long-term here, a win for Brock would give him more credibility to help set up his next Wrestlemania match for next year. Brock is expected to stick around past the show while Hunter continues to work in the front office. The last-minute addition of Shawn Michaels in Triple H’s corner isn’t expected to affect the outcome of the match I think, but I am guessing he is only in Hunter’s corner to prevent the guy from getting booed. I mean, who would boo HBK right?

Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger’s match could have been another interesting match and feud too. The WWE changed up their characters to help give both men fresh starts. They gave them enough airtime to help build a feud good enough to be a main event. Instead, the WWE gets scared off by Glenn Beck who thinks that Vince is portraying teabaggers unfairly (as if they don’t already do that themselves). The WWE could have played this criticism into the feud and have Swagger and Zeb rip Glenn Beck in a skit and talk about why they all have to stick together instead of fight if they are all saying the same message. The WWE could have also mentioned Swagger’s DUI arrest and have him whine in a video about how he can’t have a joint and beer without getting hassled by the cops while ‘people like Alberto Del Rio’ live illegally in the country and how the cops don’t care about that. This would have made Swagger into a great villain who is so confident in his opinions but at the same time, so out of touch with his own country that the fans just want to see someone shut him up for good. Alberto could have been that guy too but his obvious pandering is turning off the fans instead. His new character just cannot be taken seriously. The fans don’t want to hear Alberto talk about how great America is, they want to see him beat up a whiny guy who needs to stop his complaining about America. Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was just a filler match designed to help Dolph Ziggler finally cash in his title shot. That would give the fans a Wrestlemania moment to remember, but at the same time it would kill both Swagger’s and Alberto’s main event pushes for good and would probably have them both fighting each other on Saturday Morning Slam instead.

Miz and Wade Barrett should have also been on the main fight card instead of having it on the pre-show. It’s hard to believe Miz headlined the entire show a couple of years ago but the guy is a professional no matter how much trouble he has getting the crowd to like him. I think at this point, I am just hoping for an entertaining show even if much of it doesn’t make much sense. I also admit that I am looking forward to the crowd reactions a lot more than the action in the ring itself. I fully expect Cena and Donald Trump to get booed worse than Mark Sanchez.

WWE Wrestlemania 29 takes place at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Your commentators are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Bradshaw.

Sheamus, Randy Orton & Big Show vs. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns

The good guys get a decent cheer but all eyes are on the Shield and their Wrestlemania debut. The villains enter through the crowd and pose for pictures. Sheamus and Roman start it off but when Big Show gets involved, the good guys have a laugh when Show starts smacking up Dean Ambrose’s chest.

They should have made this match a no-DQ. There is no point for the referee to enforce rules if its going to be a straight-up brawl. The Shield, particularly Seth Rollins, gets a chance to show off their unique offense and double-team moves. Seth gets a bit too crazy and completely overshoots a dive onto Randy Orton and misses.

Dean Ambrose pins Randy Orton after Orton gets tackled by Roman. The crowd loved the ending and cheered loudly for the villains. The good guys start arguing with each other over the result and Show ends up losing his temper and assaults both Sheamus and Randy Orton. The crowd boos Show and the commentators speculate if the guy was planning all this time to double-cross his friends during the match. This was a solid opener that gave the Shield a chance to show off their moves to a bigger and more mainstream audience.

Puffy’s ‘Victory’ is played to help hype up Rock vs. Cena. That song would have made great entrance music for someone tonight. Puffy can even perform the song with a debuting hologram Biggie.

Mark Henry vs. Ryback

After 4 years, Mark Henry finally makes his Wrestlemania return since his Money In The Bank match at Wrestlemania 25. Ryback makes his Wrestlemania debut wearing New York Jets colors. The crowd is loud for the staredown but they are clearly rooting for the ‘world’s strongest man.’ They even start mocking Ryback with ‘LETS GO GOLDBERG’ chants. Mark Henry plays to the crowd by giving them a Mutombo finger wag.

The crowd is dead for this one until Ryback hits his signature clothesline. They chant along with him and even start standing up when Ryback picks up Mark Henry for his finisher. Mark grabs the ropes which causes Ryback to lose his balance and fall backwards. He ends up squashing Ryback on the way down for the pinfall.

This was an average match with poor crowd reaction. They were bored with the action but what did they expect? It clearly wasn’t going to be a technical classic or fast-paced brawl. Ryback recovers to hit a spinebuster and his finisher on Mark Henry for a lukewarm crowd reaction. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie actually gets a louder reaction when he is introduced after the match to help raise awareness for Special Olympics.

Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston (with AJ) vs. Daniel Bryan & Kane (Tag Team champions)

No mention of the beard contest D-Bryan is having with Oakland A’s outfielder/southern gentleman Josh Reddick. Dolph gets a good luck kiss from AJ before the match starts. D-Bryan kicks him in the head for a two count but he follows it up with a dive outside the ring. He easily gets the loudest crowd reaction of the night so far. Big E gets tagged in but he doesn’t get much of a crowd reaction. Perhaps if he had paid homage to the other Biggie, he’d get something from them.

D-Bryan and Kane retain the belts after Bryan hits Ziggler with the flying headbutt. This was a great match with a lot of offense being showcased and on a consistent level. It was short but the fight never slowed down. The champs celebrate in the ring and salute the huge crowd as they all go crazy with ‘YES’ chants.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango

Fandango appears first to a very lavish entrance with some very pretty ladies shaking their tailfeathers on the ramp. The guy is like a cross between Disco Inferno and Vega from Street Fighter. Chris Jericho appears second with a fireworks show following him from behind. He is introduced from Winnepeg rather than his other hometown of Manhasset, NY. Jericho starts off the fight with his signature moves but Fandango manages to cut him open on his face after a stiff kick. Fandango even drops a leg off the top rope similar to Brian Christopher’s finisher, while Bradshaw chimes in with some politically incorrect commentary about the guy’s gimmick.

After some back and forth action, Fandango sloppily rolls up Jericho for the pin. The crowd doesn’t react and a fan in the front row is even shown holding up a score card of 2. I think that means he disapproves of the ending but I don’t know his criteria for judging. Despite the bizarre sequence of moves leading up to the pinfall, this was actually a good match with some very physical and stiff offense being thrown around. I am not sure if Jericho will stick around after the show, but the ending suggested that the feud hasn’t ended yet. This can only help Fandango out as he is working with a veteran talent willing to help put others over.

A recap of Miz winning the IC title from Wade Barrett is shown. He even wins it with a really bad-looking figure four leglock. The scorecard guy in the front row should give that one a 0.

Puffy appears on the ramp and performs his verse from ‘Victory’ as I had wished before. No hologram Biggie though. Or even Big E dressed as Biggie. He performs a medley of his most popular songs and ends it with ‘Coming Home’ which he dedicates to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight champion) (with Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Jack Swagger (with Uncle Zebekiah)

The video played to showcase the feud goes a bit longer than expected, so Swagger’s entrance to the ring is cut short. It appears he drove to the ring in a custom Jeep. No word on whether or not he got pulled over on the way though. Zeb stirs up the liberal New York crowd by getting on the mic and disrespecting any minority group that pops into his head. I am not surprised he refrained from mentioning Muslims in that group. The champion appears second while wearing a white and gold boxing robe. He gets a good crowd reaction but that is mostly due to Ricardo’s ring entrance.

The crowd is dead for this one. Jerry Lawler cracks a Vietnam war joke about Zeb that gets awkward silence until Bradshaw admits that he thought it was funny. The action goes back and forth but they still can’t get the crowd involved. They only get involved only to start ‘WE WANT ZIGGLER’ chants.

Alberto retains the championship after Swagger taps out to the armbar. Michael Strahan is shown in the crowd cheering the win while Zeb angrily stares at the winner from the outside of the ring. This match was pretty average. The action was well-done but both men really needed to do more to get the crowd involved.

CM Punk (with Paul Heyman) vs. Undertaker

Living Colour plays ‘Cult Of Personality’ on the stage for Punk’s entrance. The villains walk down the aisle bobbing their heads to the song. Punk gets a mixed reaction of boos and cheers from the crowd, despite the energetic and strong performance from Living Colour. Undertaker makes his way to the ring now with shadows grabbing at him from the ground. Punk plays with the urn as if it were a basketball while Undertaker is disrobing for the fight. The match starts outside of the ring with the Undertaker on offense. There are dueling Undertaker and CM Punk chants from the crowd.

The action goes back and forth, but Punk takes over the offense with a variety of crowd-pleasing moves including the Undertaker’s own ‘old school’ shoulder chop off the top rope. The crowd loves it but they are still split down the middle for Punk and Undertaker.

Outside the ring, Punk tries to jump onto Undertaker, who is laid out on a table. He goes for a Shane McMahon-esque elbow drop but fails to get proper distance and ends up hurting himself instead. The table also fails to break, lol.

All the grown-ass men in the crowd just went insane at Punk kicking out of the Tombstone. The referee goes down now. Undertaker picks up Punk for the Last Ride powerbomb but he hits him in the back of the head with the urn. Triple H used the same sequence back in Wrestlemania 17, only hitting Undertaker instead with his hammer. The referee wakes up after Punk tries to cover Undertaker but fails to make the pin.

After a series of counters, Undertaker positions Punk for another Tombstone and hits the move for the successful pin. Paul Heyman puts his head down on the mat and walks away with disgust after the count is made. This was a good match that combined crowd-pleasing power moves, brawling and also technical ability. Undertaker’s limitations weren’t exposed and he was still able to keep up with Punk for all of the fight. After the match, Undertaker takes back the urn with him and walks back to the stage. No word on whether he wore his pants higher than last year’s Wrestlemania episode to hide his gut.

Triple H (with Shawn Michaels) vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman)

HBK appears first for some reason. Brock appears second wearing a skullcap, MMA gloves and shorts and wrestling boots. Triple H appears last looking burnt. He doesn’t look like Aphex Twin anymore but instead looks like an elderly Jeremy Renner. The fight begins outside the ring with back and forth brawling. The crowd is quiet so far until Brock tosses Hunter through a commentator’s table.

Brock takes over on offense inside the ring but the guy already looks dead tired from throwing Hunter around. HBK tries to interfere but gets socked in the mouth by Brock instead. He tries to hit Brock with Sweet Chin Music but Brock spins him around instead and hits his finisher on him. Hunter grabs Brock for the pedigree and hits the move for a two count. He tries to grab the sledgehammer outside the ring but Brock spins him around as well and hits his finisher on Hunter for a two count. The fight goes back outside the ring where Brock smacks Hunter with the steel steps. He throws Hunter back inside along with the steel steps and does a throat slash to the crowd. A visible group of fans in the front are chanting for Brock to break Hunter’s arm.

Triple H pins Brock after he hits the pedigree on the steel steps. The crowd reacts with polite applause for Hunter’s victory. This match was a lot more physical than their first fight but it was also unrealistic and nonsensical at times. Hunter trying to lock Brock’s arm in a hold over and over was ridiculous enough, but Brock seemingly unable to counter the move was even more ridiculous.

The WWE Hall Of Fame Class of 2013 is introduced to the crowd. Bruno Sammartino, Trish Stratus, Booker T and Strong Island’s own Mick Foley get the loudest cheers while Trump is booed all over the place as if Cena was standing right next to him. An ad is also played for Wrestlemania 30 at the New Orleans Superdome. A fireworks show is displayed while the attendance figure is announced. Apparently 80,676 people are in the house tonight for Wrestlemania. A real attendance figure should be released by the end of the month.

John Cena vs. The Rock (WWE champion)

Cena appears first to massive boos. Then again, they could be booing because the Brodus Clay/Tensai/backup dancers vs. Cody Rhodes/Damien Sandow/Bella twins match got canceled. Nah, they just really hate John Cena. He gives a pound to Strahan outside of the ring and tosses his hat to the crowd. I am surprised it wasn’t thrown back with this response he is receiving right now. The champ appears next to a loud crowd reaction.

Boring start to the match so far with both guys pacing back and forth, staring each other down and engaging in tests of strength. Very slow-paced match so far with the crowd starting to get restless. Some ‘BORING’ chants could be heard for a moment. Rocky is having no trouble keeping up with Cena but I could tell its taking a toll on the guy. Even though both men haven’t really done anything for most of the match, Rock already looks tired. He is doing a great job selling Cena’s power moves though.

A series of near-falls finally brings the crowd back to life. The crowd is going insane with boos for Cena. A great sequence occurs when Cena catches himself trying to show off for the crowd and ends up getting caught in the Rockbottom slam for a two count.

Cena surprises Rock with his finisher and makes the pin to become the champion again. The match started slow and there were a lot of repetitive moments towards the end, but at least there was enough action to keep the audience’s attention. The crowd loved the effort but not the ending as they are filling up the place with boos. After the match, Rocky and Cena have a chat in the middle of the ring and shake hands. More boos ensue as Cena walks out of the ring and towards the backstage area. Rocky gets a stading ovation from the crowd and embraces his mama and his family in the front row. Another fireworks display is shown when the two men raise each others hands at the ramp. The episode comes to a close and the crowd goes crazy with boos for the last time.

In conclusion, this was a decent Wrestlemania episode. The action was well done, the fights delivered and there is also a level of anticipation set for tomorrow night’s RAW episode. Poor production has plagued the WWE since they started 3-hour RAW episodes, but the production tonight was acceptable. The crowd should have been a lot more active for most of the show but I can understand their disinterest and apathy due to the lack of hype concerning the undercard. The main attractions were hyped well but suffered from poor plotting and lazy storytelling instead. As much as the WWE hypes up their main event, they need to put in the same effort to hype up the rest of the card. As I’ve said earlier, it is unacceptable to fill up a RAW episode with nothing but filler when you have more than enough time each week to explain a storyline.

WWE Elimination Chamber 2013: random thoughts and recap

The ‘Road To Wrestlemania’ continues with WWE’s Elimination Chamber. This year, it’s only one Elimination Chamber match as opposed to two. Even though this special episode is the last one before Wrestlemania, you wouldn’t know it was even on tonight due to the lack of hype. Aside from going up against the NBA All-Star game tonight, this event has been overshadowed by other stories in the play fighting industry. Bret Hart still has some unresolved issues with Triple H. Bruno Sammartino finally gets inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame. The IOC does away with wrestling starting with 2020. All of these items arguibly deserve more attention than Elimination Chamber right now. The WWE have also booked themselves into a corner here once again with Cena, Sheamus and Ryback taking on the Shield. They will have to find a way to have the good guys win as well as making the villains look strong in defeat.

WWE Elimination Chamber 2013 takes place at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, LA. Your commentators are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Bradshaw.

Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez) (World Heavyweight champion) vs. Big Show

This is a rematch from last month’s Royal Rumble. Big Show takes over the match early and keeps the pace slow. Bradshaw and Lawler chime in with cringeworthy racist commentary. One example from Lawler suggested that Alberto got flattened like a tortilla after a Big Show splash.The crowd is really into this match so far. They are enjoying the near-falls and counters.

Alberto tries to throw a kick in the corner that completely misses Big Show in a hilarious botch. He tries it again and succeeds. Alberto locks in the cross armbar for the submission and retains the title. Even though this was a decent effort from both men, the crowd doesn’t react to the win at all. I think they were all looking at the ramp to see if Dolph Ziggler would appear to cash in his shot at the title. They do eventually give Alberto polite applause when they realize that Dolph doesn’t appear.

A trailer for GI Joe 2 is played. Bruce Willis has been phoning it in lately with some garbage flicks so this will be no exception. I did hear that he was actually good in ‘Looper’ though.

Antonio Cesaro (US champion) vs. The Miz

This is another rematch from Royal Rumble. The champion appears first but doesn’t get much of a reaction. Miz’s reaction is even worse. Bradshaw can kiss his ass as much he wants now, but it still isn’t going to make the fans cheer for a stale and annoying character.

The match ends in a DQ when Miz accidently gives Antonio a low blow. The crowd doesn’t care for the ending and they didn’t care for Miz’s post-match kick to Antonio’s groin. Even though this was a squash, this was also a waste of effort from both guys. It served no other purpose than to extend the storyline.

Elimination Chamber match: Jack Swagger (with Uncle Zebekiah) vs. Kane vs. Mark Henry vs. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Chris Jericho

Whoever wins this fight gets to fight the World Heavyweight champion at Wrestlemania. The first two men to start are Jericho and D-Bryan.

Jack Swagger (with new theme music, new beard, longer hair and new attitude) is the first to be released from the corner pods. This is his very first pay-per-view appearance in months. His new conservative character actually has some potential, as his pre-match promo managed to rile up the New Orleans crowd instead of sympathizing with him. The WWE managed to avoid a situation where fans from the south would cheer for him while everyone else booed the guy. Kane is the second play fighter to join in. He brawls with his tag team partner as Randy Orton is the latest to join the fight now. He manages to clear everyone out in the ring while also clearly calling out directions and moves for the other guys to do.

Mark Henry is the last to join in and takes over the match. He eliminates D-Bryan for the very first elimination. He also gets the crowd hot and bothered when he throws Randy Orton into a closed pod in the corner. Kane tries to tangle with him and ends up getting slammed instead for his elimination. The tag team champs are gone and done for the night. Swagger and Jericho cooperate with each other to give Mark Henry a suplex on the edge of the cage. They battle each other to give the big guy a breather.

Randy Orton hits the RKO on Mark Henry and pins him to get him out of the match. The crowd is stunned and also going nuts at the same time. They enjoyed the sequence of moves that led to the elimination but they were also disappointed that Mark Henry’s role was done for the night. Before he leaves the ring, Henry gives Jericho, Swagger and Orton powerslams and finally walks towards the backstage. Orton hits Jericho with the RKO after a series of counters and eliminates him from the match. Swagger quickly rolls up Orton for the pin and ends the match to earn the trip to Wrestlemania. The crowd is stunned at the ending. This was a great match that gave every fighter involved a chance to showcase their strengths. Swagger’s win might be a bit of a surprise for anyone watching but keep in mind that he was the only one who got mic time before the match. The WWE is now giving the guy a definitive role and storyline to work with and since it has some potential, they are going to push it all the way to the top of the card.

John Cena, Sheamus & Ryback vs. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns

Cena gets a mixed reaction while Sheamus and Ryback get some decent cheers. The Shield doesn’t get much of a vocal reaction from the crowd but again, they get curious stares when they head down to the ring from the arena entrances. All six guys brawl with each other to start off the match.

Boring match so far with the Shield on basic offense. No flashy moves here but rather slow and methodical brawling instead. Seth Rollins plays to the crowd when he plugs his ears during the ‘LETS GO CENA’ chants but then unplugs them when he hears the ‘CENA SUCKS’ chants.

Roman tackles Ryback as Seth falls on top of both guys and makes the pin. The crowd is absolutely stunned. I am stunned too as I thought the good guys would win heading into Wrestlemania. I am stunned that the Shield completely dominated the fight. I didn’t think the WWE would put the new guys over this early but this was a huge win for them. As a storyline it makes sense since the Shield’s victory will force the good guys to try to come up with a plan to find a way to beat them. As for Ryback, another loss just sets him back and further away from the top of the card where he belongs.

Dolph Ziggler (with AJ and Big E.) vs. Kofi Kingston

Booker T booked the match after Dolph complains about his role on the episode. After some fast-paced offense from Kofi and some failed interference from AJ, Dolph counters a Kofi superplex and hits his finisher for the quick pin. This match was shorter than AJ. This was definitely a tune-up moment for Dolph heading into Wrestlemania and it gave the crowd a moment to showcase his talent with an opponent who can easily keep up. Kofi’s momentum has gone to shit now though, and he’s definitely in danger of being left off Wrestlemania altogether. The crowd even chanted for Big E. to hit his finisher on Kofi one more time after the match.

Kaitlyn (Divas champion) vs. Tamina

Ever since the WWE reintroduced Tamina a couple of months ago, they haven’t done anything with her since. Kaitlyn is getting decent reactions from crowds but she still hasn’t improved much in the ring aside from selling beatings. Kaitlyn pins Tamina after a spear and retains the title. The crowd gives her polite applause for the win but the lack of hype and lack of direction is really holding down the entire division in general. The effort is there and can always be improved but the WWE needs to give the viewers something to care about here.

CM Punk (with Paul Heyman) vs. The Rock (WWE champion)

This is yet another rematch from Royal Rumble. Punk appears first with Rocky’s title belt and threatens the ring announcer to introduce him as the champion. Rocky appears second to a loud crowd reaction. If he gets counted out or DQed, he loses the belt to Punk. Bradshaw takes a moment to reflect on Paul’s successful managing career. Lawler agrees with him but still takes a moment to criticize ECW despite the company being dead for about 12 years now.

The match finally starts to pick up when Rocky beats the referee’s count from outside the ring. After some brawling by both men, Punk pushes Rocky into the referee to knock him unconscious outside the ring. He hits the GTS on Rocky but can’t make the pin because there is no referee. A second referee appears to take the first ref’s duties over. The second referee apparently gets his ankle stepped on by Punk and is too hurt to count pinfalls. After some failed interference from Paul Heyman, Rocky hits the Rock Bottom slam on Punk to retain the title and end the match. The first referee counts to give Rocky the pinfall victory. As the episode comes to a close, Cole hypes up the main event for Wrestlemania which is the rematch from last year’s Wrestlemania. The Rocky-Punk series has been a disappointment but at least both men are doing the best they can despite Rocky’s obvious physical limitations. The guy is definitely a lot slower and older now and it sucks to think that the match could have been way better if it was Punk vs. Rocky in his prime. Meanwhile, Punk’s Wrestlemania status is in question. There are rumors he will fight Undertaker at the big show but there are real concerns that the dead man will not be healthy enough to compete.

In conclusion, this was an interesting pay-per-view episode. Interesting because some new faces got pushed to the top of the card. Jack Swagger is a contender for a world title again after a couple of years of losing to everyone and the Shield got a huge win over 2 of the WWE’s most popular stars. The lack of hype and lack of effort regarding the match pairings really hurt the card overall. Three matches on tonight’s card were rematches from last month’s pay-per-view episode. There were some positives tonight though. The effort from the play fighters were good, the crowd was responsive for most of the night, and the commentators did a good job trying to hype up the Shield as a legitimate threat when no one else (including me) believed that they would actually win. Now I am not sure if this win will get the villains a spot on this year’s Wrestlemania card, but it’s a sign that they will be a huge part of things to come after next month’s show.

WWE Royal Rumble 2013: random thoughts and recap

the 1999 winner looks real out of place here

Earlier this month, I was working on an article about what the WWE needs to improve on in 2013. Now its still a work in progress but one glaring thing they need to work on is pushing new talent. One thing I noticed about WWE play fighter debuts is how meticulous and deliberate the booking is concerning the newer guys.

Now I understand that it’s not wise to put inexperienced talent on TV before they are ready. That is what NXT is for. But this is also play fighting and since play fighting is a performance art, what better way to get more experience in the field by performing on TV every week? With the struggles WWE has to deal with to create new stars on the road, they need to push the most talented guys on the roster right now and put them on TV as often as someone like Cena or Punk. Although planning for the long-term is good, slowing down feuds and storylines in order to hype up the next week’s episode of RAW is a waste of time if the show will just be full of filler. The WWE needs to produce progressive and meaningful TV scripts involving newer talent. 10 minutes of airtime for a talented and prepared group of new guys (Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns) is unacceptable. 5 minutes of airtime for a confident performer with a personality such as Brad Maddox is unacceptable. If the viewers want to see new guys being pushed, the WWE should stop babying them, throw them out there on TV each week with some significant time and let them work and talk. Ryback was close to being a new star for the company if they had pushed him to the top, but the WWE got cold feet, determined he wasn’t ready yet, and then had him lose on pay-per-view episodes since fall of last year. That is also unacceptable. However, a big Royal Rumble win can help him out immensely. I don’t have any predictions as to who will win the big Rumble match but the format has always made this pay-per-view episode one of my favorites of the year. The Royal Rumble is also the official start of the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’ so expect new feuds and storylines to begin. It’s great that Rocky is back to help out Punk and the WWE but again, they need to push new talent to help sustain momentum and fan interest because the guy won’t be staying after April.

Tonight’s episode of WWE Royal Rumble 2013 takes place at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, AZ. The same venue was used for WWE’s episode of Money In The Bank in 2012. Your commentators are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Bradshaw. Earlier in the evening, the US Champion Antonio Cesaro continues to squash his competition with a pre-show title defense over the Miz.

last man standing match: Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight champion) vs. Big Show

Big Show appears first to no reaction. Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo worry about the match backstage. Bret Hart meets up with them to give them a quick pep talk and also gives Ricardo his sunglasses. Ricardo appears next to introduce Alberto to the Phoenix crowd for a surprisingly decent pop. There are lots of fan signs in the crowd and they even chanted along with Ricardo’s entrance. Perhaps it’s another sign Arizona goes blue in about 15 years or so.

Alberto kicks Big Show in the groin when they are both fighting in the aisle. Now someone could ask why not just do that at the start of the match since there are apparently no rules. That would be a villanous move though, and would probably get sympathy from the crowd for Big Show. A big spot occurs when Alberto gets thrown from the stage by Show and lands through a table. Alberto makes it to his feet though and the match goes on.

Alberto retains the title after he and Ricardo tape up Big Show’s feet to the bottom rope to keep him down. This was a creative and good opener which featured the use of various weapons and props. The ending was silly with Ricardo’s interference and the crowd let the WWE know that they didn’t like that. Big Show also played a great villain during the fight.

-The Zig Zag man talks to Matt Striker about being number one in the Royal Rumble match. Striker wants to discuss Dolph’s odds of winning but AJ threatens him. Dolph cringes in the background when AJ calls him ‘Ziggy’ to Striker. Big E. sends Striker off camera and asks Dolph in a mocking white guy news reporter voice how he plans to celebrate later in the night. The Zig Zag man claims that after he wins, he will cash in his briefcase to win the World Heavyweight title and then go on to headline Wrestlemania to fight for the WWE Championship. Lofty goals for someone who’s only World title reign lasted about a couple of minutes or so.

Daniel Bryan & Kane (Tag Team champions) vs. Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow

The challengers appear first to mild reaction. The champs show up next to a good cheer. D-Bryan has new black and red trunks for this fight. He gets to show off some crowd-pleasing moves including a surfboard submission and a dive to the outside of the ring.

The effort from all four guys are on point but the lack of hype and story for this match is really killing the match. The crowd enjoys seeing the champs but they don’t really care about the challengers. The commentators even lose interest during Damien and Cody’s offense when they start cracking jokes and going off-topic.

D-Bryan and Kane retain the titles when Damien taps out to Bryan’s Yes! Lock. Solid match with good effort that needed more of a story and background behind it. This match probably should have taken place a lot sooner than it should have. Damien and Cody also should have done a lot more to play to the crowd for responses. Backstage and after the match, Vickie’s nasty ass gives Kane and D-Bryan their Royal Rumble entry numbers. The champs argue about wanting to see each other’s numbers which results in some suspect lines being said.

30-Man Royal Rumble match

I hope they don’t make Lawler fight in this match. I think everyone knows the format here. The winner gets a title shot at Wrestlemania and there will be some surprises in the match. For that one,  WWE play fighters competing in the match but not currently on the roster will be bolded in the recap. The Zig Zag man appears first to polite applause at #1. AJ and Big E. walk down to the ring with him but leave for the backstage area before the match starts. Chris Jericho is the first surprise at #2. He is back and so his is lite-brite jacket. The crowd is going absolutely insane for him. Cole recaps the history between the two rivals and the match finally starts.

Jericho hits Dolph with a superplex as its time for #3. It’s Cody Rhodes and his mustache. The bad guys beat up on Jericho in the corner. Cody even pays homage to Hardcore Holly with a kick to the gut while Jericho is draped over the ropes. Kofi comes in at #4 to even up the odds. Santino is the fifth play fighter to compete. He is thrown out by Cody Rhodes for the very first elimination after getting a round of finishers from the other play fighters. Drew McIntyre is #6 and goes right after Kofi. Jericho is almost eliminated but he pulls himself back in. Titus O’Neil appears next at #7. Big Drew is eliminated by Jericho with a dropkick.

The second surprise is here at #8 with Goldust. In the ring, Cody visibly shakes his head. The half-brothers brawl with each other and exchange signature moves. Dustin is actually getting loud cheers right now. Probably his biggest pop from the crowd in years. David Otunga appears next at #9. To my surprise, he actually outlasted Santino in the fight.

The 10th play fighter is Heath Slater. You can tell the crowd is already sick of his theme music and aren’t looking forward to hearing it for the third time. Number 11 is last year’s winner Sheamus. He gets a loud cheer from the crowd and goes to brawl with everyone in the ring. Soon after, he eliminates Titus O’Neal and Otunga. Tensai is #12. Let’s see if he will last longer than Santino and Otunga.

This disgrace now, smh. Brodus Clay appears at #13. Cody and Goldust fight along the edge of the ring to try to throw each other out. Cole misspeaks and calls Goldust by his real name when he is struck by Cody to eliminate him from the match. Rey Mysterio appears at #14 to a loud cheer from the crowd. He’s been out for a few months but the commentators act like he had never left. Darren Young aka Blackface Cena is #15. Brodus Clay is tossed out of the ring by everyone in the ring. Tensai is eliminated soon after by Kofi but Kofi ends up getting knocked outside of the ring by Dolph. Instead of crashing to the floor, he ends up landing on Tensai’s back. Tensai fights him off and leaves him on the announcer’s table.

Bo Dallas from NXT is #16. He gets no crowd reaction though. The crowd is focused instead on Kofi’s effort to try to get back inside the ring. He asks to use Bradshaw’s chair and uses it to hop back into the ring. Darren Young immediately charges at him and gets eliminated by Kofi for it. Out of nowhere, Cody hits a kick on Kofi and sends him outside for good for the elimination.

The Godfather (without a mic but with hoes) makes his one-night only appearance for #17. As soon as he enters, he gets dropkicked by Dolph for the elimination.  The IC champion Wade Barrett comes out next at #18. John Cena appears to a mix of cheers and boos at #19. All the villains are waiting for him inside the ring. He throws out Heath Slater and Cody Rhodes. Damien Sandow makes his Royal Rumble debut at #20. Wade Barrett kicks Rey out of the ring for his elimination. D-Bryan makes his way to the ring at #21. The crowd has a ball chanting along with him as he lands a bunch of kicks to Damien, Dolph and Wade Barrett. The US Champion Antonio Cesaro is next at #22. Khali appears at #23 and slowly walks to the ring to execute some awful looking chops to the head. Bradshaw welcomes him to the match on commentary with borderline racist jokes. The other half of the tag team champs is here at #24. Cole reviews Kane’s prolific Royal Rumble history.

Zack Ryder is the 25th play fighter. #26 is Randy Orton which gets a loud cheer from the crowd. Khali is eliminated by Kane. However, infighting between the champs gets them both eliminated. The 3MB music blares for the third time for Jinder Mahal who is at #27. The US Champion is thrown out by Cena. In the aisle, Antonio gets into a scrap with the 28th play fighter, the Miz. He hobbles into the ring while Sheamus eliminates the last 3MB scrub. Sin Cara is #29. Bo Dallas actually manages to throw out the IC champ but after the elimination, he goes into sore loser mode and assaults the rookie and also pulls him over the ropes for his elimination. Bo also gets an elbow to the face outside the ring for his troubles.

Ryback is the last guy at #30. He gets mild GOLDBERG chants from the crowd and immediately eliminates Damien. He follows up by eliminating Sin Cara and Miz.

The crowd goes nuts with boos after Dolph kicks Jericho out of the ring for his elimination. Randy Orton brings them back to life though by handing out RKOs to everyone in the ring. Ryback spoils the party and clotheslines Orton out of the ring. Dolph, Cena, Sheamus (who looks absolutely winded) and Ryback are the final four. Dolph is finally eliminated by Sheamus with the Brogue Kick to the outside.

Sheamus and Ryback brawl and try to hit their signature moves on each other. When Sheamus goes for his kick, Ryback catches him and tosses him out for the elimination. Cena catches Ryback in the STF which Ryback ends up overselling despite being in the hold for a few seconds. Cena is also dumb as hell for slapping a submission hold on someone in a battle royal match. When Ryback takes control of the offense and tries to bodyslam Cena, Cena slips out of the hold and pushes Ryback forward over the top rope for the final elimination.

This was a good battle royal match that featured good pacing and good effort. The crowd was able to soak in important moments such as the Cody/Goldust brawl and the last four play fighters getting ready for the final minutes of the match. Cena celebrates his second Rumble win with some fans in the front row, including the ‘We Hate Cena’ click, in which one of their members was seen shaking his head in disgust after the victory.

CM Punk (WWE champion) vs. The Rock

The match begins immediately with a brawl that goes outside the ring. When it goes back inside though, the match slows down with Punk on the offensive. Even though the pacing is slow, both men are trying to establish the story with Punk targeting Rocky’s midsection and Rocky trying to overcome the odds and go after Punk’s weakness.

Rocky starts to go on offense now and targets Punk’s bad knee. Even though Punk hits a dive on Rocky outside the ring, he recovers and gets back on offense. Rock tries to set up the sharpshooter on Punk but he counters with his own submission hold. Rock breaks out of the hold by rolling Punk over and attempting to make a pin.

The fight continues outside of the ring where Punk and Rocky are fighting on top of the commentator’s table. Rocky tries to hit the Rockbottom slam on Punk on the table but it collapses under their weight before he can even hit the move. They both recover and bring the fight back into the ring.

Rock gives Punk a spinebuster to set up the People’s Elbow. The lights suddenly go out when Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns hit the ring and assault Rocky. Since no one can see anything, Cole has to describe the attack which included a powerbomb through the other commentator’s table. Punk then drags Rock back into the ring for a pin while the crowd gives him a mixed reaction. Rocky’s mama is seen in the front row and she is not happy at all.

Vince comes out to the ring to interrupt Punk’s celebration. He reminds him that since the Shield appeared to interfere in the main event, Punk would lose the match and his title. Rocky gets on the mic and tells Vince that even though that sounds all good, he would rather prefer to pin Punk for the belt instead. He asks Vince to restart the match and Vince gives the ok. Punk gets Rock from behind and hits the Macho Man elbow drop on him while he is down. He tries to pick up Rocky for the GTS but Rock counters it and gives him another spinebuster and the People’s Elbow for the pin. The Rock becomes the new WWE champion and his mama in the front row is now happy with the new outcome. This was a great and physical match that was overshadowed by the ridiculous ending. Paul Heyman’s cheap and cowardly interference earlier in the match was hilarious. When Rocky won the title, the reaction wasn’t as loud as it could be since the crowd was still reacting to Punk’s unofficial pinfall. Maybe they just couldn’t believe that the match would end like that with only two moves when the guy was getting his ass kicked by Punk for most of the thing.

In conclusion, this was a decent pay-per-view episode. The crowd was loud and responsive and the commentary was good with Cole taking time to explain relevant facts regarding the Royal Rumble match. The effort was well done but the booking needed a lot of improvement. The crowd enjoyed Alberto Del Rio, but he needs to be built up as a serious champion who can’t rely on interference to win matches. Ryback could have used the big Royal Rumble victory to finally get the big push. Instead, he comes up short to the guy who’s already been on top for almost 10 years. In a way, a lot of what happened today was very predictable because they are trying to set up another Cena/Rocky match for Wrestlemania. Now whether or not the fans still want to see that is up for debate. But what isn’t up for debate is that it is clear the WWE is going to use their most popular, big-name, big money guys to headline their biggest event. Will this be a problem for newer talent? Possibly, but they also have to realize that without the Rock and Cena, they wouldn’t have anything to eat because those guys bring in the dough. It remains to be seen if Rocky will be fighting at WWE Elimination Chamber next month, but since the WWE needs to hype up Wrestlemania starting now, it would be wise to have him defend the title anyway to help put over other talent.

WWE Tables Ladders & Chairs 2012: random thoughts and recap

The tough times for the WWE continue, as their world champion is currently recovering from a knee surgery. Whether he will appear in this episode is up in the air, but Cena is apparently recovered from his own injury and is taking on the Zig Zag man in an interesting match. Interesting because it could be a bad move from the front office to put Cena in a ladder match after recovering from recent elbow surgery. Tonight’s card looks good on paper, but again the WWE needs to hype their pay-per-view special episodes. Tables Ladders & Chairs is a very unique episode where there will be various types of weapons and props in play. WWE has been catering to the Little Jimmies and their parents for almost a decade now, so a violent episode of WWE is certainly a unique event that needs to be hyped up. Furthurmore, this is the very first WWE event at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, so again it needs the hype.

Tonight’s episode of WWE TLC takes place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Your commentators are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Bradshaw. The episode begins with a memorial to the victims of the Newtown, CT shooting.

tables match: Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara vs. Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow

-The winner of this match gets to become the top contenders for the tag team championships. Rey gets a good reaction, but Sin Cara gets none. Cody and Damien appear next to some loud boos. Bradshaw jokes about Cody’s unflattering mustache and compares him to Clark Gable and Freddie Mercury.

-‘I think its Borat, not Brat’ says Cole after Bradshaw cracks another joke about Cody’s pornstache. The crowd is even chanting for it. Why the WWE has not taken advantage of this and sell fake mustaches to the audience is beyond me.

-Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow win after Sin Cara falls through a table placed outside the ring. Very cool ending which had Damien push Sin Cara off the top rope when he was going for a springboard move. This was a great opener that got the crowd loud and going. The winners even get a moment to celebrate to do cartwheels and pose for the crowd.

Antonio Cesaro (US champion) vs. R-Truth

-This is a rematch of their Survivor Series match. Not sure why there would be a rematch since the first match was a squash. The challenger gets more crowd reaction than the champ during the intros.

-Antonio’s slow offense is killing the crowd. The commentators even lose interest when they start cracking jokes during the match. Cole says that Bradshaw should like the Swiss because he keeps his money in their banks. Bradshaw tells him that it’s not true and then explains that it is actually in the Caymans and in Bermuda instead. The crowd finally wakes up when Truth starts no-selling Antonio’s offense and hulks up.

-Antonio retains after hitting his finisher on Truth. The crowd responds with polite applause for the champ’s effort. This wasn’t his best effort though. This was a boring match with absolutely no background and story to it. Truth even seemed to phone it in tonight. Josh Mathews interviews Antonio in the ring for post-match comments and he tells the crowd that if they can’t appreciate a champion like him, then they are the real anti-Americans.

The Miz walks down to the ring in a suit. Although he isn’t fighting tonight, he gets a good response from the crowd. He immediately kills the crowd though, when he introduces Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal for an interview. A fan in the crowd holds up an ‘HERB SQUAD’ sign which perfectly describes this disgraceful trio. They step outside the ring to bully the Spanish commentators with stereotypical and xenophobic comments. Jinder should be really ashamed of himself for being part of this. Ricardo Rodriguez runs out to confront the three idiots but ends up getting harassed for his troubles. Alberto Del Rio comes out to try to rescue him only to get beat down himself. Miz ends up stopping the assault and Heath challenges them to a 6-man tag team match later in the evening. The crowd did give a good pop for Alberto’s rescue but the stink of 3MB was too much to recover from.

Wade Barrett vs. Kofi Kingston (IC champion)

-Wade is playing the villain here but he gets chants from the crowd from the start of the match. This is for the IC championship.

-Kofi wins the match and retains his title after hitting his kick finisher. I think the crowd wanted a Barrett victory though. They wanted to see a new champion over the stale Kofi character. The crowd did react positively to Kofi’s win but it took throughout the course of the match to get them back on his side. Maybe the crowd just didn’t warm up to him because they know he is actually from Boston.

Punk addresses the crowd from his luxury skybox and gets a mixed reaction. This was a great talk that gave the crowd a treat. There were a lot of Punk fans in the crowd who were probably happy as hell they still got to hear from him even if he isn’t fighting tonight.

Kane, Daniel Bryan & Ryback vs. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns

-This match can’t end on a disqualification and can only end by pin or submission. The good guys appear first with D-Bryan getting the loudest reaction. The bad guys show up dressed as SWAT cops and walk towards the ring through the crowd. They aren’t getting loud reactions from the crowd but rather curious stares instead. The match starts off with a brawl outside the ring. When Ryback and the babyfaced Dean Ambrose square off in the ring, the crowd responds with loud ‘GOLDBERG’ chants. I still miss him.

-The crowd is hot for D-Bryan. Although he is getting beat down right now, it’s only part of the build-up to get sympathy from the crowd. Dean and Seth get to show off some unique moves including a bodyslam involving a folding chair and a two-man suplex from the top rope with the aid of a table.

-Dean takes a very painful looking chokeslam from Kane that breaks a folding chair. When Kane steps outside the ring though, he ends up getting tackled by Roman Reigns through the security barricade and also the timekeeper sitting nearby.

-Ryback wakes up and takes over the match to give the tag team champs a breather. He is involved in some brutal brawling outside the ring, as he runs into Roman Reigns and crashes through a ladder propped up in the entrance aisle. A folding chair was also thrown at the back of Ryback’s head. Meanwhile, I am also keeping an eye out on the Sunday night NFL game. CK just threw a TD pass to Delanie Walker to give the Niners a 13-3 lead over the Pats. Seth tries to climb up on a ladder to jump on Ryback but fails and ends up being thrown off the ladder and landing through a table. Roman pins D-Bryan after a powerbomb through a table. This was a great brawl and a great debut for the three newest bad guys. The crowd was hot for all of this and there were also a lot of crowd-pleasing moments. The outcome was also appropriate as they need to establish a long-term plan involving the new guys. If the WWE plans to turn them into stars, they need to stick with the plan. D-Bryan, Kane and Ryback taking the loss doesn’t hurt them as the match was competitive and the tag team titles weren’t involved. Ryback also didn’t take the pin in the match either.

Eve Torres (Divas champion) vs. Naomi

-Naomi apparently got a title shot after winning a pre-show battle royal match. If the WWE is serious about rebuilding their divas division, it’s not helping placing them in demeaning and exploitative matches in revealing costumes. The match ends when Naomi misses a sloppy flip off the top rope and pays for it with a neckbreaker and pin from Eve. Eve celebrates her win by posing with her downed opponent for a photographer. Poor match, poor effort, poor crowd reaction. The only good thing about this was that it was kept short.

chairs match: Sheamus vs. Big Show (World Heavyweight champion)

-Sheamus gets a mixed reaction while the champion gets none. I am not sure what the rules are for a chairs match, as the theme sounds very vague, but I am assuming that since chairs are legal (as explained by Lilian Garcia), the match can’t end in a disqualification but rather a pin or submission instead.

-Slow match so far but the crowd wakes up when Sheamus bodyslams Show and he brings a folding chair into the ring. The match slows down again and kills the crowd, but they pop big and wake up again when Sheamus carries Big Show on his back and slams through a couple of folding chairs propped upright.

-Big Show pins Sheamus after a chairshot to the back with a giant folding chair. This match definitely did not live up to their prior meetings. The effort was there but the ending was really silly and the brawl itself was unrealistic and nonsensical. The match also went on too long which only helped to kill the crowd. I hope this is the last time they fight but I am guessing there will be another match between them at Royal Rumble.

Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal vs. The Miz, Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez) & ‘Brooklyn Brawler’ Steve Lombardi

-I seriously thought the special guest tag team partner was going to be JTG. When Miz introduced Lombardi (who is dressed in a black t-shirt, Brooklyn Nets jersey and old jeans), he only got polite applause. I think the crowd is too young to remember him and for those in the crowd who do remember him, they were probably disappointed that it wasn’t a bigger name.

-Lombardi ends the match when he makes Jinder Mahal submit to the boston crab. A very odd choice for the last move of the fight, especially given the location of the event. Even though the in-ring action was just ok and the match was filler, the crowd responded to the win with cheers and applause anyway. Lombardi’s appearance was interesting but I think the long-term direction of Alberto Del Rio is more interesting now that he is a good guy. Perhaps being a good guy can finally add some depth to his stale character.

ladder match: Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena

-This match is for Dolph’s Money In The Bank briefcase. Both these guys are solid talents but the storyline they are involved in doesn’t make any sense. What was stopping Dolph from cashing in his title shot before this match? Why would AJ ask Vickie Guerrero what she plans to do about John Cena rolling his ankle when she and Dolph had absolutely nothing to do with that? The Zig Zag man appears first by himself to a good response and Cena appears second to the loudest boos. There are some Cena fans in the house but they are a minority tonight. The crowd clearly wants Dolph to win.

-Two big spots occur when both Dolph and Cena land through a table from off a ladder and when Cena carries the ladder on his shoulders while Dolph is lying on top of the ladder. He tries to dump Dolph and the ladder outside of the ring but fails. Thats when the dueling pro-Cena/anti-Cena chants begin again.

-So much for ‘you can’t wrestle’ lol. Cena just hit a hurricanrana on Ziggler which ends up putting the guy through a table propped up in the corner. I just seen Aldon Smith do something similarly athletic when he bounces a Tom Brady pass off his hands and off a lineman’s helmet for an interception. Easily the league’s DPOY this season.

-Ugh, Vickie. The crowd is not booing her nasty ass though. AJ runs out to the ring to assault her, hit Cena’s moves on her and skips around the ring to celebrate. The crowd doesn’t respond but as soon as Cena props up the ladder, they can all guess what was coming. And they were right.

-The crowd goes insane when AJ tips the ladder over while Cena is making his climb. She skips out of the ring and heads to the backstage. The Zig Zag man kicks Cena in the face, climbs up the ladder, and unhooks his briefcase to win the match. As the episode ends, Dolph celebrates his win on the entrance ramp while Cena sits in the ring smiling to himself and looking like he couldn’t believe what just happened. This was a good match despite the lousy storyline. The right man also won as they need to keep giving Dolph big wins if they want to make him a main event guy. AJ’s double-cross was also done well even if it wasn’t much of a surprise. She needed to become a villain because even though her character is a supposed to be a good gal, the writers have her character do villainous things as if she is bad. It makes sense to have her turn all the way into a villain.

In conclusion, this was a very good pay-per-view episode. In-ring action was well done, storylines progressed and the crowd was hot and active for most of the event. The main problem tonight (for me at least) was the poor commentary for most of the episode. There were too many corny jokes and not enough focus on what was going on in the ring or in the storylines. Tonight’s commentary even had a handful of really suspect lines. The lack of hype for tonight’s episode also didn’t help but at least now the WWE can start hyping up the Royal Rumble, which also happens to be one of the company’s biggest and most important pay-per-view events. Hopefully the newer stars can help push the WWE in the right direction but they need to stick with the long-term plan. With all the problems the WWE front office has to deal with right now, quick fixes and desperate decisions aren’t the answer.

WWE Survivor Series 2012: random thoughts and recap

WWE’s Survivor Series is one of the company’s four big special pay-per-view episodes along with Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania and Summerslam. This year’s event hasn’t felt like a big deal at all with the lack of build to the matches and the fight card still being put together up until the very last minute. Things in the WWE aren’t going as smoothly as they should, as they’ve been plagued lately with weak management, inconsistent storytelling, poor production, low TV ratings, and no long-term direction. John Cena’s injury doesn’t help either but the company’s issues go beyond his injury and the lack of hype for one of their biggest shows of the year.

Tonight’s episode of Survivor Series takes place at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. Your commentators are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Bradshaw.

How appropriate is the sponsor for this year’s Survivor Series. KMart and WWE actually have a lot in common as they are both outdated, tired and cheap.

Brodus Clay, Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd, Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio
Tensai, Primo, Epico, Darren Young and Titus O’Neal

-Before the match, Bradshaw cracks a dumb and unfunny joke about Punk and Lawler, specifically mentioning his heart attack. None of the participants in the match get a loud reaction, which I am guessing is due to the lack of hype with this match. Survivor Series elimination matches aren’t common now so if you’re going to have one on the card, you need to hype it up.

-The crowd wakes up with boos and an ‘ALBERT’ chant when Tensai is tagged in. They also bark along with Titus O’Neal soon after.

-The commentators, the crowd, the viewing audience including me just ended up dying with laughter at Brodus Clay botching a t-bone suplex on Tensai. The poor guy ends up getting slammed on his face. The crowd’s laughter turns into loud boos when Brodus is eliminated from the match soon after.

-Cole gets excited when Tyson Kidd uses the sharpshooter on Epico to eliminate him from the match. He also notes the history Bret Hart has had in Survivor Series and talks about how great it was to see Tyson Kidd use his move. Bradshaw cracks another joke about how Bret is probably going to be mad about that. Lawler asks him to explain that joke to him after an uncomfortable and hilarious silence on commentary.

-Rey Mysterio makes the final pin and eliminates Darren Young with a top rope splash. The survivors are Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel. This was a great match and great opener that showcased a lot of high-flying and fast-paced offense. It took a moment for the crowd to warm up to it, but they were totally involved once the offense started rolling.

Kaitlyn vs. Eve Torres (Divas champion)

-I think WWE took my idea about Aksana as the Baroness. Aksana, while dressed in a blonde wig and black sweater and pants, tries to assault Kaitlyn in the backstage area. She fails and runs off after Kaitlyn rips her blonde wig off. Kaitlyn runs into her opponent who feigns concern for her. She pushes Eve onto her ass and walks out to the ring for the match.

-This match is for the WWE Divas title. Due to the earlier segment, Lawler cracks a joke about how this looks like a hairy situation. Bradshaw groans at that one. Dead crowd for this one, but at least they boo when Eve sits up on the corner and does a pageant wave to the crowd.

-Eve hits her neckbreaker finisher on Kaitlyn to retain her title. This was actually a decent match that actually got a good reaction from the crowd. The crowd was behind Kaitlyn and they clearly enjoyed her unique attire which made her look more like Sonya Blade rather than the generic WWE Diva look.

Antonio Cesaro (US champion) vs. R-Truth

-The champ appears first and delivers a negative promo about Thanksgiving which gets the crowd riled up. What the commentators don’t mention is how Antonio is working with a broken hand.

-Antonio hits his finisher on Truth and pins him to retain. This was a total squash that gave Antonio a win over a popular name. The crowd gave him a good response with the boos too. The in-ring action was surprisingly good and I only say that because Antonio didn’t take any liberties while working with his injury. He didn’t screw up any moves and still kept his opponent safe from harm.

The pint-sized AJ skips to the ring to talk. She gets a good pop from the crowd despite the lousy storyline she is currently involved in at the moment. AJ’s crowd reaction is nothing compared to Vickie’s disgusting ass. The crowd and I love to hate her. She threatens to hurt AJ after AJ shows some corny photoshopped pictures to the crowd (most likely she actually edited herself) of Vickie hanging out with various play fighters. She reminds Vickie that if she intends to keep her job, she can’t assault anyone. Tamina runs into the ring and attacks AJ from behind and hits the Superfly splash on her to end the promo. Although it helped that Vickie was involved, Tamina’s surprise return actually got a reaction from the crowd. She also had a new and younger look as she slimmed herself down, wore bright new tights and also straightened out her hair.

Sheamus vs. Big Show (World Heavyweight champion)

-This is a rematch from Hell In A Cell last month. Sheamus’s friendship with William Regal is notable only because it’s probably not often when you see Irish and English guys being friends. Sheamus gets a good reaction from the crowd but he also gets some audible boos. Big Show also gets some mild cheers during the fighter introductions.

-Sheamus takes control of the offense early and Show puts in a great effort to sell his moves. Only problem though is that it easily tires out the big man, and Show is already winded 5 minutes into the match. He takes control of the offense soon after and slows down the match. The crowd gets kind of restless but at least Show is playing to the crowd while he takes a breather.

-The crowd wakes up and stand up from their seats when Sheamus carries Big Show on his shoulders and slams him to the mat. They go crazy when Sheamus hits another power move on Show with Nova’s Kryptonite Krunch finisher.

-Sheamus wins the match by DQ. Big Show still retains the title, but it was thought that he won the match after knocking out and pinning Sheamus with his stupid punch finisher. A different referee made the count after the original referee was incapacitated. Another referee reverses the decision after further review that showed Big Show dragging the original referee into the way of Sheamus’s kick. This was a decent match that was brought down by the confusing ending. The crowd didn’t like it but they did enjoy the beating Sheamus gives Show after the match is over.

Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez), Damien Sandow, David Otunga, Wade Barrett and Dolph Ziggler
Kane, Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston, The Miz and Randy Orton (with Mick Foley)

-Miz’s current run as a good guy is hard to watch, as he has had rivalries with Daniel Bryan and Kofi in the past. Also hard to watch is the replay of Cody Rhodes’s shoulder injury from last week.

-Bradshaw says that Alberto is Mexico’s greatest export. Lawler rightfully questions him and asks him if he is greater than tacos. Cole joins in and says that he was going to ask him the same exact thing. Now I am hungry for tacos. I’d like to eat one while watching this boring match.

-Dolph Ziggler wins the match after kicking Randy Orton in the face and pinning him. He is the only survivor from his team to win. The in-ring action was standard but it could have been more flashy and crowd-pleasing. The commentators even lost interest in the match and started cracking jokes with each other instead. The crowd didn’t react to most of the action but once Miz and Orton were in control, they got behind them all the way. They also looked legitimately surprised when Dolph pinned Orton.

John Cena vs. Ryback vs. CM Punk (with Paul Heyman) (WWE champion)

-Cena appears first to loud boos from the crowd. He is also wearing fishing shorts and new black sneakers. The champ shows up next to applause and cheers. Ryback is the last to appear and he gets a lukewarm reaction.

-Grown-ass men in the front row, clearly cheering for Punk, are going insane at the near-falls. So far, the in-ring action was standard, choreographed triple threat stuff, but it started to pick up once Ryback was taken out by both Cena and Punk outside the ring.

-Ryback hits his finisher on both Punk and Cena. The match ends though, when Punk pins Cena after three NXT guys run in from the crowd and into the ring to attack Ryback. This match was decent but the frustrating ending just brought it down. It was never established or even talked about before the match that it was going to be no disqualifications. Not one word about the rule from the referees, or any of the play fighters involved, or from the commentators at any time during the match before the attack happened. Therefore, the crowd did not know how to react to the attack on Ryback. This was just another sign of WWE’s weak management and inconsistent storytelling as mentioned earlier.

In conclusion, this episode of Survivor Series was ok. It was nothing special, and although feuds weren’t really settled tonight (especially the feuds involving the two top championships), it’s still enough to get by until the Royal Rumble. The crowd response was good and loud tonight, except for the ending of the main event. The in-ring action was decent but again, they need to hype up the matches. Throwing out a midcard 5-on-5 Survivor Series rules match out of nowhere on short notice and calling it a ‘bonus match’ is unacceptable. Ryback’s booking is also unacceptable as he needs a big win if they plan to work with him long-term. If they are trying to build him into a superstar for years to come, it’s not helping having him lose in embarrassing ways. Last month, he gets punched in the nuts and then fast counted on, now he gets beat down by three nobodies and left outside the ring. The grown-ass men in the front row might be happy with Punk’s cheap wins but the WWE needs to think long-term here and also take some risks if they plan on creating new stars.

Dedicated to Linda McMahon

“Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy beat former WWE executive Linda McMahon in Connecticut’s Senate race, according to the Associated Press. The Washington Post has not called this race. 

The Republican businesswoman self-funded tens of millions of dollars for her second straight Senate race in a row. This cycle, she had a fighting chance. But the fundamentals always favored Murphy in this blue state.” – 11/06/2012

$100 million down the drain and it wasn’t even close this time around. I hope she’s learned that you usually can’t buy your way into politics with absolutely zero experience. I dedicate this fitting song to her and her campaign: