Daniel Bryan Wins Back WWE Title At Night Of Champions

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

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

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

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

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

Spot of the night? Spot of the night

Spot of the night? Spot of the night

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

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

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

and we never saw Heyman again

and we never saw him again

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

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

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

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

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

Bryan even defeated opposite momentum

Bryan even defeated opposite momentum

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

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Goldust Steals The Show As Bryan Drops Orton On Raw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This looks like something out of a sitcom

This looks like something out of a sitcom

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

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

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

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

Love the giant swing

Love the giant swing

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

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

Using the wrong fingers

Using the wrong fingers

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

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

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

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

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

You smell like leather

You smell like leather

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

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