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.

The Shield Beats The Undertaker And Cena Bests Ryback On Raw

RAW_1039_Photo_165CM Punk is gone, Rock may never wrestle again, Ryback is a heel, Dolph Ziggler is jobbing in his first week as World Heavyweight Champion, Lesnar is challenging Triple H AGAIN and Raw is in jolly old England this week. All that gives me plenty to talk about but all that really matters tonight is that the Undertaker is billed to wrestle in an actual match on Raw. A match that people can watch FOR FREE! Considering he has only wrestled at WrestleMania for the last few years this is a really big deal. The Rock barely showed up on Raw over the last three years, forget about actually performing which is something I thought he desperately needed to do. Meanwhile, here is the Undertaker, about to wrestle on free TV for the first time in ages. The fact that he’s teaming up with Kane and Daniel Bryan leads me to believe he will only be used for a brief hot tag finish, but having it be against the Shield has me really excited for this. It’s possible (not likely, but possible) that the Shield could win here and set the groundwork for a Roman Reigns/Undertaker match at WrestleMania 30. This is completely speculative, but I feel like everything the Undertaker does is meant to lead in to the next WrestleMania, and I have a hard time thinking this will be any different.

The show kicks off with Paul Heyman looking for an answer from Triple H as to whether or not he will accept Brock Lesnar’s challenge to a steel cage match at Extreme Rules. Triple H is not in the building, and Heyman reads an email from Triple H saying that he is will give his answer next week. Heyman starts talking trash about how Triple H doesn’t have the guts to show up when wouldn’t ya know it, Triple H’s music hits and he shows up. He grabs Heyman by the tie, tells him to inform Lesnar that he accepts the match and gives Paul a Pedigree to end the opening segment. Quick way to get the crowd going to open the show.

Air planking

Air planking

The first match on the card puts former United States Champion Antonio Cesaro against R-Truth, who gets his full intro with rapping shown on TV. How did he not start a rap battle when he was feuding with Cena? Cesaro comes down the ramp yodeling again as a counter to Truth’s rapping. Sadly the London crowd isn’t feeling it. As for the match, Antonio starts off in control, with knees and big stomps as the crowd gets “Ole” chants going. Truth then ducks under a clothesline and hits his finisher on Cesaro to get the win. Another loss for Cesaro. I really don’t get why he’s being buried like this, and I really don’t get why Truth is getting pushed.

Cut to outside the arena where the Shield is getting dropped off via helicopter. So they don’t get to travel with the rest of the roster. Makes sense to me.

Brodus Clay and Damien Sandow face each other in singles action with Tensai and Cody Rhodes in their respective corners.  A guy in the crowd had a great Sandow costume on. The crowd seems to be taking this opportunity to try to be like the post ‘Mania crowd. They chanted “Cody’s Mustache,” “JBL,” and Fandango’s theme. All the while, Damien is controlling the match which his aggressive style of offense. I always appreciate his style in the ring. Brodus starts to come back but Sandow rolls up Clay and grabs the tights to secure the victory. It’s about as clean of a win as Sandow is going to get these days so I’ll have to take it.

Backstage, Ziggler is telling his World Heavyweight Championship that he is in love when AJ walks it acting jealous. Dolph says that she would look good with Kaitlyn’s Divas title. They start to make out when they notice Big E standing idly nearby. Dolph tells him to take a hike because its AJ and Dolph time. He leaves and now the making out is interrupted by Vickie and Brad Maddox. They inform Ziggler that if he loses to Chris Jericho tonight, Jericho will join Ziggler’s title defense against Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger, turning the triple threat match at Extreme Rules into a Fatal Four Way. Sure, why not.

On to the Shield talking smack about the Undertaker. They wonder who gave the Undertaker the right to play judge, jury and executioner. That’s their job and they promise to make the Undertaker know what justice tastes like (huh?).

Chris Jericho up next to take on your World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler with a spot in the title match on the line. Jericho starts strong with some hip tosses and pin attempts as the crowd is split down the middle. Ziggler then escapes the ring to get a kiss from AJ so Jericho hits him outside with a baseball slide. Big E attacks Jericho while the refs back was turned, giving Ziggler the opening to gain control. Dolph then ducked down as Jericho was leaping into him in the corner, causing Chris to sail over the top rope. Ziggler then started to taunt with Jericho down, eventually applying a sleeper hold. Jericho fights out of it with a side suplex and starts hitting his signature moves. Dolph avoids the Lion Tamer but gets clocked with an enziguri for a two count. Chris then landed a bulldog, but with the ref distracted by AJ, Big E hit Jericho in the middle of a lionsault. Ziggler was only able to get a two count but he applied the sleeper again in the middle of the ring. Chris breaks it by dropping Dolph on his back but Ziggler hits the jumping DDT for another two count. Jericho then drops Ziggler and starts to do the wave with the fans. He then goes for the lionsault but Ziggler gets his knees up and hits a fame-asser for a two count. Jericho then goes for the lion tamer but ends up hitting a superplex instead. Ziggler then lands a codebreaker and applies the lion tamer in the middle of the ring. Just when it seemed that Dolph was going to tap, Fandango’s music hit. The crowd goes nuts and Jericho broke the hold expecting Fandango. Ziggler took advantage of the distraction and hit the Zig Zag to win the match. Slow start to this one but it picked up and reached the high standards they set for themselves by the end. So Ziggler is still booked for a Triple Threat match while Jericho looks poised for a rematch with Fandango.

Uh, what?

Uh, what?

Backstage, Mick Foley is being interviewed by Josh Matthews. After Foley (and his Prince Valient haircut) plugs his dvd, he says that Ryback is making excuses but he won’t be able to do that at Extreme Rules (more plugging).

Roles reverse now as Tensai takes on Cody Rhodes with Brodus Clay and Damien Sandow in their partner’s corners. Cody laid some quick jabs and kept his distance for a while until Tensai finally caught him, holding Cody upside down for several seconds for a full nelson suplex. Cody then comes back with a neck breaker to regain control. A disaster kick to the back of the head brings Tensai down for a two count and Rhodes continues the pressure. Tesnsai gets going again after dodging Cody and throwing him into the ring post.  After a rolling senton, Sandow tries to distract Tensai but Clay hits him with a running headbutt. Tesnai then catches Cody attempting a disaster kick, slams him down by his neck and reverse splashes to pick up the winning, evening things up for the show.

Backstage, Kane and Daniel Bryan are arguing about how they are going to work with the Undertaker. Bryan wants to be on the same page, but Kane says the Undertaker doesn’t need advice. Daniel wants Kane to call him, but he doesn’t exactly carry a cell phone. Kane makes Bryan promise that he won’t try to show the Undertaker diagrams or hug him when the Shield attacks them, ending the segment with Team Hell No on the ground.

Next up, Josh Matthews is talking to Ryback. He says that he let the Shield beat up John Cena because Cena never helped him against the Shield. He admits he enjoyed it, and ads that he’s like to talk to Mick Foley about what he said earlier. Apparently, “Ryback Rules” is his new slogan.

Big E Langston in singles match against poor Zack Ryder. Langston now has his own music (some type of rap song) and an entrance gimmick. He slaps lifting chalk against his hands and screams like a freak. It’s better than nothing, I suppose. Ryder got a big pop from the crowd and pushed down his party hair. Big E is again booked to be a monster, hitting multiple back breakers and clotheslines before hitting the Big Ending to get the pin.

Always cool

Always cool

Here’s the match everyone wants to see. The Undertaker with Kane and Daniel Bryan against the Shield. The Undertaker comes out to his typical entrance and I still can’t believe he’s actually going to be in a match. The Shield comes out next, with no Kane or Daniel Bryan in sight. The Shield surround the ring with the Undertaker in the middle. The Shield attacks and just as the Undertaker gets overwhelmed, Kane and Daniel Bryan come running in to assist. The Shield clears the ring and the match gets started with Daniel Bryan against Dean Ambrose. I hope for these guys to have a longer history together. Ambrose gets knocked around by all three members of the faces, including the Undertaker! He goes for Old School but Ambrose pulls him down. Undertaker then fights him off and hits a semi sloppy version of it before tagging in Kane. The match stays in control of the faces as Roman Reigns comes in, with Kane sling shot-ing Bryan for a spinning heel kick. Reigns then takes down Kane and start to work him over. Kane takes bumps for a while until Daniel Bryan comes in on a hot tag, taking down Seth Rollins with a series of kicks after he backflips off the top turnbuckle. Bryan then throws Rollins out of the ring and leaps through the ropes, implanting Rollins into the outside barrier. Seth took a very impressive bump there. After a top rope dropkick, Bryan missed on a leaping kick in the corner, giving the Shield a chance to take momentum. With Bryan down, Rollins taunts the Undertaker by saying that they run the show now. Undertaker starts losing his mind on the apron, pacing back and forth like a maniac. Ambrose then props up Daniel in a modified mexican surfboard while Rollins hit him with a flying knee from the top rope. Bryan would evade Reigns running into the corner however, giving him the chance to tag in the Undertaker who would clean house. He hits Ambrose with snake eyes and the big boot. He then grabs Ambrose and Rollins for a choke slam, but Reigns hits him with a spear. Undertaker then kicks out on two, shocking Roman. Kane then gets tagged in to face Rollins, hitting the side slam and the one handed chop from the top rope. Rollins then escapes a chokeslam and hits a roundhouse kick. Ambrose then gets hit with a chokeslam instead. After initially getting pulled down, Bryan gets back to the top rope and tries to hit the top tope headbutt but Ambrose moves away, pinning Bryan while Kane and the Undertaker fought Rollins and Reigns outside the ring, earning another win for the Shield. I’m very surprised that the Undertaker didn’t win but either way it was a very entertaining match. The Shield continues being booked very well, winning clean every time. Great showing from the Undertaker and Bryan (Kane was fine too) , but the Shield again steals the show.

The beginning of the end

The beginning of the end

Backstage, John Cena is trying to talk Mick Foley out of meeting Ryback in the middle of the ring. Cena says there is a difference between being smart and being brave (code for stupid) but Foley asks Cena to respect his decision, as he won’t back down from Ryback’s request to talk. Cena tells him to at least go with a chair in hand.

Fandango out next to try killing “Fandangoing” across the globe. Not that it matters, but he has a different dancer with him tonight. England seems really into Fandango. He’s set to face William Regal who gets a huge pop. Regal starts bashing Fandango, pumping the crowd up before Fandango turned things around quickly. He dips Regal before slamming his face into the mat (new finisher I guess), getting the win with only one real offensive move. He’s now been in two matches and has not had many moves to speak of. On the way out, Chris Jericho attacks Fandango, throwing him off the stage. Jericho then extends his hand to Fandango’s dance partner, twirling and dipping her to Fandango’s music, while Fandango watches! Fandango Fandango Fandango!

Yup

Yup

Divas battle royal to determine the number one contender for the Divas Championship. It’s between AJ (who will win), Tamina, Layla (remember her?), Aksana and Naomi. Having only five people in a battle royal is really weird. Anyway AJ jumps into Tamina’s arms like she did with Kane (uh…okay), and Tamina responded by throwing AJ away and knocking her out cold with a superkick. Layla roundhouse kicks Aksana out of the ring, Naomi and Layla hit Tamina with their asses, but Tamina throws out Naomi anyway. After a brief sequence by the ropes, Layla kicks Tamina out, leaving her and AJ as the only Divas left. AJ is still knocked out so Layla tries dragging her to the ropes. Layla is just about to pull her out when AJ gets up and kicks Layla out, winning the match. Perfect heel booking in a horribly boring Divas match.

In a show that had a lot more wrestling than I ever expect to see, we can now officially put an end to it as Mick Foley (with chair) is out to talk to Ryback. He reiterates Ryback saying that if Foley has something to say about him that he should say it to his face. So Foley then calls him out to the ring. Ryback comes in, asking how a chair is going to help Mick. Mick said that he always took on the biggest and the best, and even though he didn’t always win, he always got back up. Foley says that he knows his time is behind him, and that Ryback can knock him out whenever he wants. With that said, he asks Ryback to listen and shows the clip of Ryback backing away from Cena and watching while the Shield went after John. Foley wants to know what happened to the guy who showed no fear and demanded respect. Foley says that he’s been laid out with no help countless times, and just did the best he could. He says Ryback has the physical tools to dominate the WWE, and shouldn’t need to back away from Cena. He tells Ryback to “Wake up” when Ryback snaps and tells him to shut up. He asks why Foley keeps coming back, suggesting he needs to sell merchandise (not that wrong). Ryback says he wanted to send a message to SuperCena (yeah, he said SuperCena) and get a title shot, and he did both. He says he will be the WWE Champion (which Foley already said would happen) and says that he doesn’t care if Foley, Cena or the stupid fans have a problem with it. Ryback again asks how a chair is going to help Foley, and Mick responds by holding it up. Ryback then tosses the chair from Foley’s hands out of the ring and the two get in a stare down. Cena runs in just before punches can be thrown and sends Mick out. Cena and Ryback look like they are about to fight now when the Shield comes out. This time Cena exits the ring, leaving Ryback alone to face the Shield. The Shield starts to attack Ryback when Cena comes in with a chair and drives them away. After more staring, Cena hits Ryback with an AA and stands over him to end the show.

Derp

Derp

Cena almost did something mean, and would have been totally justified. But instead he has to stay the super baby face, rescuing the heel so he can do the dirt himself. Meanwhile Ryback wasn’t as good as he was on tape last week, but he was still pretty effective here as a heel. The SuperCena thing was a nice touch. My only issue is that he’s essentially saying all of the same things Punk would say, only not as well. He’s even picking up Punk’s beef with Foley. Hard to complain with what works though, especially while Punk is away. I just wish Ryback didn’t seem so weak and cowardly immediately after going heel.

Ryback Turns Heel, Punk Leaves And Undertaker To Return On Raw

RAW_1038_Photo_157Before anything I want to offer my condolences to all of those affected by the incident at the Boston Marathon today. It is a truly sad event, made worse by the fact that people from Newtown were so close to it.

 

This week’s Raw has a whole lot to live up to. Following the epic Raw crowd from last week, it is also Dolph Ziggler’s first as World Heavyweight Champion (BOO YA!) and what will likely be the last time we see CM Punk for a while. Forget about the fact that we need to figure out whether Ryback is a heel or not as he targets WWE Champion John Cena. They could do a face versus face match but we just had that with Cena and the Rock. Just because Cena isn’t turning heel doesn’t mean we can’t have him go against one.

Looks like we’re going to get an actual match to kick off this week’s show as Randy Orton and Sheamus team up against the Big Show. The faces can’t stop feuding over who deserves revenge more and this is basically a replay of what went down on Smackdown. After last week, this crowd sounds like a ghost town. After a long discussion, Sheamus gets to start the match and gets worked over by Big Show for his trouble. Sheamus then drops Show’s throat onto the top rope and takes him down with a flying shoulder from the top rope. Show caught the Brogue Kick though and threw Sheamus out of the ring. Sheamus barely beats the ten count before Big Show continues the assault with a flurry of chops and a final cut (haven’t seen that in a while). It isn’t until Show goes to the second rope that Sheamus comes back, pulling off an impressive electric chair drop. Orton finally gets tagged in and hits Show with a dropkick and a top rope DDT (Show is too big for the second rope). Orton went for the RKO but Big Show caught him and went for a choke slam. Sheamus came in for the save with a Brogue Kick and Orton took Show down with an RKO to get the pin and win the match. They crammed pretty much everything they could have in a short period of time. Show looked dominant in defeat and you saw every move you’d expect from the faces. So I guess they have their revenge and can move on?

Too much face for one heel

Too much face for one heel

Backstage, Josh Matthews is talking to 3MB, who is steamed over getting beat up by the Shield after 3MB wanted to beat up Triple H. Everyone knows the Shield has the patent on 3 on 1 attacks so I don’t know what 3MB is thinking here. So 3MB comes out to the ring and calls out the Shield. Instead of the Shield, Brock Lesnar shows up. Why? No idea. He was supposed to take out the Rock last week to set up their match at Summerslam but Rock was hurt so they didn’t burn the appearance. So instead they are having him tear 3MB a new one. Lesnar had them all down in about 20 seconds. Slater then tried to run away but Brock slid out of the ring and clotheslined Heath into the floor. Lesnar then hit Slater with two F-5’s onto the outside barrier. Paul Heyman then grabbed the mic and informed us once again that Brock Lesnar is ready for fight, and that he wants Triple H. Heyman says that after Triple H knocked out Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania he has his respect. Lesnar however does not respect him, and all that the match did was even up the score. Heyman suggests that Lesnar and Triple H face off again at Extreme Rules in a steel cage match. Do we really have to watch these guys fight again? Is there anyone else that Lesnar can face? Ryback? Sheamus? Anybody? What’s the point of having these part timers come back and only go against each other? We need the new guys to get a rub from facing the big dogs. That’s why it made sense for Jericho to face Fandango. Triple H/Brock Lesnar 3 will be as instantly forgettable as the last two. They’ll be fine, but then what? No one has anything to lose or gain here.

Kofi Kingston gets a shot at the United States Championship next as he squares off against Antonio Cesaro. Cesaro hasn’t won in roughly a month so I’m really thinking he’s due. Cesaro cut off his music so that he can yodel all the way down the ramp and into the ring, and he did so fairly well. Did I mention that I love Antonio Cesaro? He seems to have given up the anti-America stuff in favor of yodeling and it’s probably for the best since Swagger is cornering the international heat market. Cesaro and Kingston start off fast with Cesaro gaining the edge with a swinging side slam. Kofi then gets going with a leaping chop and a boom drop but Antonio ducks under Trouble in Paradise and throws Kofi up for an upper cut on the way down. Love that move. Cesaro stays in control until Kofi hits the SOS, with Cesaro reaching the rope on 2. Kofi then hits Trouble in Paradise out of nowhere but Antonio falls out of the ring. Kingston pulls Cesaro back in but only gets a two count. Kofi goes to the top rope for a cross body splash but Cesaro catches him and hits a swinging back breaker. Antonio then ties to hit an upper cut but Kofi moves away and hits a swinging roundhouse kick. After Kofi went to the top rope again a fantastic sequence started, with Cesaro catching Kofi again and going for a power bomb, Kofi escaping and rolling up Cesaro for two, Antonio turn Kofi over for another two count, and Kingston rolling Antonio over to set up Trouble in Paradise, knocking out Cesaro and becoming the new United States Champion. Really strong match with a hell of a finish. I’m just trying to figure out what happened to Cesaro. He looks so good and had so much momentum, then all of a sudden he can’t buy a win, gets snubbed at WrestleMania and loses his championship to Kofi Kingston of all people. I assume a rematch is in order, but something has to give here. After the match Kofi said that he brought the US Championship back home. He was born in West Africa but whatevs.

Match of the night, but why can't Cesaro win?

Match of the night, but why can’t Cesaro win?

Let’s hear it for the NEEEEEEEEEW World Heavyweight Champion, Dolph Ziggler! Sadly he did not wear the belt backwards to show it off in his entrance.  He is in the ring with Big E and AJ to talk about how his cashing in to take the title from Del Rio was the greatest moment in Raw history (no argument here). He said he doesn’t care what the people think of him because showing off is just what people do when they are better than everyone else. After a quick AJ make out session he says that no one will ever take his title when Alberto Del Rio decides to show up. Hobbling to the ring, Del Rio says he wants his rematch right now. Dolph says he isn’t healthy enough but Vickie Guerrero says that if this is what Del Rio wants then this is what he’s going to get and the match starts right away. At least it would have if Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter didn’t come out first. Zeb says Ziggler wouldn’t be champion if it wasn’t for Swagger, and that neither of them deserve the title. Del Rio and Swagger go at it and Jack gets thrown out of the ring. Big E then gets in the way of Del Rio and Ziggler long enough for Swagger to grab Alberto and attack his injured ankle. Jack applies the Patriot Lock outside the ring and only lets go after a handful of refs force him to. So that match isn’t happening. Maybe Ziggler will defend against Swagger and Del Rio? He certainly has enough history with Swagger to go with. Doctors would try to treat Del Rio’s ankle backstage.

Back in the ring, the Prime Time Players are taking on Team Hell No. I love how Bryan stands next to Kane and puts his hands over his ears when Kane sets off the pyro. Meanwhile it was just announced that the Undertaker will join Kane and Bryan next week when Raw is in London to take on the Shield. It’s a really big deal to have the Undertaker wrestle on free TV just two week’s after ‘Mania. This match just seems silly now. Bryan takes his lumps early against Young and O’Neil, but finally tags in Kane after a running clothesline on Young. Kane takes out Darren from the top rope and sets up for the chokeslam but Titus comes in and Kane has to throw him over the top rope first. Bryan hits a jumping knee on O’Neil outside the ring as Kane hits a really bad looking chokeslam on Young. Bryan gets tagged in to hit the flying headbutt and get the pin, getting Kane to help him get a YES chant going. Undertaker outta work great with these two. Bryan gets the Undertaker to start a YES chant I will stop writing this blog immediately. It will never get better than that.

Ryback is in some remote location somewhere to explain his actions from last week. He’s talking a lot like the Ultimate Warrior. He says WrestleMania was the best night for Cena and the worst for him, and with Cena at the top and Ryback at the bottom, there is only one direction for each of them to go. I really like this version of Ryback. He’s not yelling and talking about being hungry. He’s just speaking. Being fairly eloquent. He remarked how Cena made him feel like he belonged and even gave Cena his title shot when he was hurt, adding that people wished he was injured more often (burn!). Ryback that said that he now realizes that being friends with John Cena is to live in the shadow of John Cena, and that he is too big to be in his shadow. Ryback is pissed about Cena not aiding him against the Shield, letting them steal all of his chances to beat Punk for the title. He suggests that Cena was off making his newest t-shirt. Meanwhile Ryback helped Cena every time he was attacked. He says Cena was only focused on winning the WWE Championship, adding that Cena wants to keep Ryback in his shadow because he is the biggest threat to Cena’s title reign. I gotta say, he sounds really good. He’s not just being a heel for heel’s sake. He’s making sense. I buy this. I’m all in on Ryback right now.

Back in the ring, R-Truth is taking on new/old Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. Truth dances around and hits a spinning kick on Barrett, taking him into the corner where Wade takes the edge as the ref tries to separate them. Wade applies a sitting abdominal stretch (a variation of my favorite wrestling move!) that Truth escapes to apply a roll up pin for a two count to get going. Barrett dodges the scissor kick and but can’t hit the pump handle slam. Truth then nails a DDT and gets the pin. What the hell is going on here! Why are my foreign champions failing me? Have to think Truth is getting an IC title shot soon. Can’t he and Kofi just become a tag team again so we can have Bryan and Kane in singles action? I love the team dynamic but Bryan is bigger than this.

Backstage Teddy Long is suggesting to Maddox and Guerrero that Swagger takes on Ziggler. With Booker T unaware of the match, Vickie agrees and the match is set. Teddy is gonna get got for this one.

Time for Bizzarro Team Ziggler to show up as Khali comes out with Natalya and Hornswaggle, joining Santino for a match against the Rhodes Scholars. Khali starts off by hitting a big chop on Sandow (does he have any other moves) before Damien tags in Cody who challenges Santino to come in. He accepts and Santino acts like an ass while Cody beats him down. The Rhodes Scholars use quick tags to keep Santino in the ring and control of the match. Eventually Santino turns the tide with the falling headbutt and pulls out the cobra, hitting Sandow with it. Cody comes in and dodges the cobra, falling out of the ring. Hornswaggle then tries to hit Cody with a cobra of his own, but Rhodes is unphased. After yelling at Hornswaggle that he isn’t doing it right, Khali goes to help his little buddy while Sandow rolls up the distracted Santino to get the win. At least one of my favorite heels will get a win today.

8 minutes left

8 minutes left

Jerry Lawler now in the ring to talk about how everyone has been “Fandango-ing” since the Raw crowd started singing his song. I think its safe to say that once the WWE acknowledges a trend it has officially jumped the shark. Anyway Lawler calls out the dancing man-diva and wouldn’t ya know it, the crowd is not Fandango-ing. The crowd finally starts to get the chant going as Fandango tries to get Lawler to move his hips, causing the King to get freaked out and leave the ring. Fandango asks the crowd who wants to go “Fandango-ing” with him. They are really trying to make this bigger than it really is. Isn’t he supposed to be a heel? He’s playing to the crowd. He then makes the crowd say his name correctly, one syllable at a time. Despite saying it correctly, Fandango says that since they can’t say it right, the crowd can go “Fandango” themselves. It seems like they have no idea what to do with him right now.

Backstage John Cena is telling Matt Striker that if Ryback has a problem with him, he will be right in the middle of the ring waiting for him later tonight.

Jack Swagger now out with Zeb Colter to face Dolph Ziggler and his entourage but OH MY GOD DOLPH ZIGGLER CAME OUT WEARING THE BELT BACKWARDS! He did his usual entrance and this title run is worth its weight in gold just for the entrance. After pushing Ziggler into the corner, Dolph responds by slapping Jack in the face. Swagger chases Dolph outside the ring, takes control of the match when back in it. This is the only issue with Dolph as champion. He gets dominated for so much of his matches and looks so good doing it. Ziggler hits a neck breaker to ger back into it but Swagger catches him and tries to apply the ankle lock before Ziggler makes it to the ropes. Swagger then drops Dolph crotch first onto the top rope and clotheslines him out of the ring. Ziggler tries to steal it with a small package but Swagger kicks out and hits a belly to belly suplex. Dolph then gets hit feet up to block the Swaggerbomb and hits a dropkick and leaping DDT for a two count. Dolph goes for it again but Swagger holds him up and drops his throat onto the top rope. Swagger immediately follows it up with a roll up pin and gets the victory over the World Heavyweight Champion. So this is how Ziggler’s title reign starts. With a friggin loss. As Swagger backs his way up the ramp Del Rio comes from behind and attacks him, applying the armbreaker while he’s leaning over the stage. The refs have to pry them apart and Jack is selling the arm injury hard. Del Rio gives Ziggler and wink and there is definitely gonna be a triple threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship.

Currently the best entrance in the business. He is, in fact, here to show the world.

Currently the best entrance in the business. He is, in fact, here to show the world.

Backstage Sheamus is about to get interviewed when Mark Henry attacks him. Why? BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT HE DOES!!! Really there is no reason.

CM Punk out to address his loss to the Undertaker. He’s in jeans and sneakers while looking fairly shaken and defeated. Will Paul Heyman at his side, Punk says that he couldn’t enjoy his championship streak because he was always looking at what was next. He found that challenge in the Rock but even as he faced him he wanted more. He figured that the only thing bigger than being champion was beating the Undertaker’s streak. The crowd started to get really loud with Undertaker/CM Punk chants, causing Punk to hug Heyman and leave the ring, defeated. Instead of exiting through the stage, he stops and leaves through the side. Heyman is left confused as are everyone else. So Punk will be gone for a while, looking much less like the heel he was going into today. Not sure how long he’ll be gone (probably a couple of months) but he will take the time off to rest his knee that thankfully didn’t need surgery.

Backstage Booker T is arguing with Teddy Long about Teddy making decisions without him. Booker confirms the triple threat match that we all saw coming and tells Teddy to “handle his business.”

Hey it’s a Divas match. Seth Rollins Kaitlyn takes on Nikki Bella the odds of seeing twin magic are pretty good. Brie distracts Kaitlyn outside the ring so Nikki attacks. Cole, JBL and Lawler spend the entire match trying to tell which one is which. Jerry decided that one is larger than the other, but they still don’t know who is who. JBL says that a twin was never Divas champion, which Cole immediately corrects him because one of the Bella’s was champion at one point. After taking bumps for way too long, Kaitlyn hits her finisher but the Bellas switch while the ref is looking toward Kaitlyn, and Brie drops Kaitlyn on the rope and rolls her up for the pin. The only twin magic I need is in a package of twix.

As the show heads toward an end, John Cena is in the ring to call out Ryback. We don’t have to waste much time as Cena immediately calls out Ryback and Ryback almost as quickly comes out. Cena talks up Ryback but says he’s not afraid of him because after Cena laid out an open challenge Ryback did not come out, instead waiting until Cena’s back was turned to attack (not really true). He also called Ryback’s montage monologue thing boring (probably truth if you’re in the arena) before saying that Ryback is not the biggest threat just because he knocked him down one. He name drops his battles against Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton. He tells Ryback that he doesn’t have the brains or the balls to be champion (ooooooh). Cena says that this week he wants to see if Ryback can earn his chance at a championship. After a brief stare down, Ryback backs away and leaves the ring. While he’s on the ramp the Shield comes out. Ryback then watches from the ramp as the Shield attacks Cena. The three men are too much for Cena, beating him down and hitting the triple power bomb to end the show. Bad day to be a champion. They all lost except for Team Hell No.

Ryback literally turning his (Ry)back on John Cena (I couldn't resist)

Ryback literally turning his (Ry)back on John Cena (I couldn’t resist)

Looks like we got a pretty straightforward answer to any questions we had going in. Ryback is a full on heel, Ziggler gets immediately thrown into a triple threat match where I can see him possibly losing his new title, Sheamus will face Henry for some reason, and CM Punk is leaving because after all these losses he probably feels silly calling himself the best in the world. Can’t believe I’m saying this, but the guy that left the biggest impression on me by the end of the night was definitely Ryback.

Ziggler Finally Cashes In And Ryback Attacks Cena On Raw

RAW_1037_Photo_64As predictable and safe as the results were WrestleMania was still pretty good. But now that its over its time to give one more day to talking about it and move on to what’s next. The part timers are basically gone and the full time crew can get back to business. Hell, Antonio Cesaro might even wrestle again (and win!). more importantly, big news always drops on the Raw after ‘Mania, and Ziggler still has the MITB Briefcase. See where I’m going here?

Of course new WWE Champion John Cena kicks off the show. He’s sporting a new “the champ is here” shirt (which was available immediately after he beat the Rock), but the thing I noticed was the belt itself. In place of the Rock’s logos on the belt, there are now John Cena logos. So the wearer of the belt will indeed have his logos on the sides of the belt instead of a nameplate like before. Not a fan. The belt should be fairly generic, fitting of whoever wears it. There doesn’t need to be a custom design for every champion (although I do see the profit potential with people wanting specific versions of the belt for their favorite superstars). Anyway Cena is bragging about winning, the crowd hates him, and he plays it off like they are just upset that WrestleMania is behind us. After some bad dancing and worse jokes he finally gets to the point in saying that he is going to be a fighting champion and wants to defend the title tonight. After saying he doesn’t know and doesn’t care who the number one contender is, Mark Henry comes out (somebody gonna get their ass kicked)!

Henry talks about how he beat Ryback (in the worst match of the night). Cena looks like he wet his pants while the crowd chants “sexual chocolate.” Cena makes a joke about how the crowd wants to have “sex with chocolate” and Henry isn’t amused. He says that after beating Ryback he deserves a title shot, while Cena hears a “feed me more” chant and says the crowd now wants to eat more chocolate. John tells Henry he has the “breath of a thousand asses” before granting him a title shot tonight. Booker T immediately comes out to say he can’t just make matches (why not? everyone else does). Booker says the Rock is the number one contender but since he injured himself last night he can’t compete, so he will give Mark Henry the chance to earn a title shot if he can beat Cena tonight. Wait what? So to get a shot against the champ, he has to beat the champ? Then he has to beat him again to win it? Come on now. Make him beat Ryback again or something. Anyway so that’s gonna happen.

The first match of the night has Big E Langston in singles action (with Dolph and AJ in his corner) against Daniel Brian (with Kane). Essentially we’re going to see prologues for all of the feuds that ended at WrestleMania. Langston must not have music yet because he came out to Dolph’s music. On the way down the ramp AJ got a little too close to Big E while he was pumping his arms and got hit square in the middle of her chest. She played it off like nothing and even kept her sexy smirk (bump of the night?) Bryan jumps on the offensive immediately with kicks but Langston powers him back and then delivers a one handed power slam before taking over the match. He does a lot of stalking around the ring, but all of his moves look very powerful. Bryan starts to fight back and goes to the top rope, but AJ distracts the ref so that Ziggler can knock Bryan down. Kane then grabs Dolph by the throat so Langston throws Daniel into Kane to make the save. Ziggler then throws Bryan back into the ring, where Big E delivers the Big Ending (hey his move has a name now!) to get the win. Better showcase of Langston’s ability than WrestleMania. I thought it was interesting how he took some bumps in his first singles match. Strong debut. Note that Ziggler does not have a match tonight (it’s gonna happen!).

Deja vu

Deja vu

Wade Barrett now gets a chance to reclaim the Intercontinental Championship he lost on Sunday to the Miz during the pre show. I’m still surprised that despite making the pre show 30 minutes longer they didn’t add a second match to it. There were certainly enough people off the card. The crowd is extremely pro Barrett. Miz is the first one to gain extended momentum with a series of punches from in the corner and a knee to the head. Barrett changes the tide quickly though with a big punch that takes down Miz. Miz then tosses Wade out of the ring, hits a baseball slide and a double axe handle on the floor. Getting back in the ring, Barrett catches Miz leaning through the ropes and hits him with a neck breaker falling onto the apron. Devastating looking move that I’ve never seen before. First big reaction in what has so far been another average match from these two. Back from break, Barrett hits the winds of change (that’s the swinging side slam apparently) and is in full control. Miz powers out of a chin lock with a back drop and the boos rain in from the crowd. Miz gets his signature moves going and attempts the backbreaker into the neckbreaker but Barrett falls before Miz get drop with the neckbreaker and we have the botch of the night. It was a lot like Lesnar dropping too early on Triple H’s pedigree at ‘Mania. Miz recovers by going for a pin and Cole makes the excuse that they banged heads. Miz goes for the figure four but Barrett fights out, only to be hits with a DDT and have blood start coming from his mouth. Wade then goes for Wasteland but Miz counters and applies the figure four. Barrett looked like he was going to tap but finally makes it to the ropes and the crowd goes nuts. Miz runs in on Barrett but when gets a boot up to drive him back. Barrett goes to the top rope but Miz goes up to get him and attempt a superplex. Barrett fights him off this time and drives Miz’s face into the ring post. Wade hits Miz with a huge Bullhammer Elbow to make the crowd explode as he wins the Intercontinental Championship again! Very long match but it was definitely entertaining. The crowd definitely helped get it over. However what was the point of Miz winning if he was just going to lose it the next night? Now where does Barrett go? I thought that losing the belt would open the window for bigger things.

Backstage, Sheamus is pissed about the Big Show turning his back on him and Orton, so he has Vickie Guerrero book him in a match against Show. After the commercial, Randy Orton is asking Booker T to do the same thing and put him in a match against Big Show to get revenge. Orton says that he’s the one that talked Sheamus into trusting show and wants to fix his mistake. Orton tells Booker that he’s an actual GM and should be able to overrule Vickie. Booker buys what Randy is selling and books the match.

Okay, so World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio is going into a handicapped match against Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter. This HAS to be good news for Ziggler right? Colter says that Swagger’s loss at ‘Mania put the country on the verge of tyranny, and asks the crowd to chant “U-S-A” in their support. Of course the crowd isn’t going to refuse a USA chant under any means, so now Lawler and Cole think the crowd is brainwashed. Colter stays in his corner for the most part so it’s basically a one on one match. Del Rio throws Swagger out of the ring and then dives into him through the ropes, driving Jack into the announce table. Alberto then hits a cross body splash for a two count. Zeb then distracts Alberto long enough to take out Del Rio’s leg and gain some momentum. Del Rio then goes for an enziguri but his ankle is too injured for him to push off and hit it (uh oh!). Swagger keeps working the ankle as he applies the Patriot Lock. Alberto is able to wiggle out but the story they’re telling is pretty clear. Alberto applies an armlock over the top rope but after he breaks the hold Swagger knocks him off the apron into the barrier. Back from break Swagger is still in control as Del Rio severely injured his ankle landing wrong. This is exactly what I thought would happen at Mania. Del Rio might be in trouble after the match if say, DOLPH ZIGGLER CAME OUT. Alberto starts to fight back but injures himself further when he lands the tilt-a-wirl back breaker. Del Rio then calls for the arm breaker but Jack reverses it into a power slam and applies the Patriot Lock. Del Rio reaches the rope and Jack let’s go after one more big twist. By the way, during the entire match the crowd is chanting “WE WANT ZIGGLER.” Swagger again applies the ankle lock but this time Del Rio reaches up and reverses it into the cross arm breaker, getting Swagger to tap out. Del Rio celebrates for about five seconds before hitting the ground and the medical staff runs in to check on him. The chants for Ziggler get louder and louder the longer Del Rio is being looked at.

It's about damn time!

It’s about damn time!

FINALLY, ZIGGLER’S MUSIC HITS AND THE CROWD EXPLODES! He gives the case to the ref, the match is announced and no one is stopping him. it’s going to happen! Ziggler immediately attacks the leg, hits a fame-asser for a two and a half count. The crowd is totally jacked up. Del Rio move away from Ziggler in the corner and hits an enzigurI, but Del Rio takes too long to get over to Dolph and cover, so he only gets a two count. Alberto then pulls a cross armbreaker out of his ass and Dolph is down until he grabs Alberto by the bad ankles and twists him into breaking the hold. Ziggler then lines Alberto up, hits the Zig Zag and wins the World Heavyweight Championship! IT FINALLY HAPPENED! DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES! ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND! I’ll always remember where I was when Dolph Ziggler won his first major championship. On the lounge chair, with my five month old son in my arms watching a master in his field achieve greatness. Yes I’m exaggerating a bit but this was awesome. It’s like the indi band you discovered at a bar winning a grammy. I just hope he doesn’t become to big for me to claim as “my guy.” I’m sure Ziggler will face Alberto for the title at Extreme Rule on May 19th. If Ziggler loses, I will burn the Stanford office to the ground.

After such an epic moment, let’s kill the crowd a little with an appearance from the Undertaker (relax, I’m kidding). After getting in the ring and absorbing some well deserved “Undertaker” chants (really was memorable), he says he dedicated that match to the memory of Paul Bearer and the Shield immediately starts to come out. This could be awesome. They surround the ring, preparing to strike, but before then can attack Kane and Bryan run into the ring to join the Undertaker. So now we have the Brothers of Destruction, and Daniel Bryan together as one group. Of course the Shield backs off and retreats (after all, Daniel Bryan is in the ring!). So this looks like a match that could happen, but when? Tonight? Undertaker wouldn’t do a tag match at WrestleMania and that seems to be the only night he wrestles. Very curious where that will go.

Watch out! It's Daniel Bryan!

Watch out! It’s Daniel Bryan!

Backstage, your new World Heavyweight Champion, Dolph Ziggler is talking to Josh Matthews. He says that he has been too damn good for too damn long and even though it’s the day after, this is his WrestleMania moment. He leaves saying that he is going to show off his new championship. Hell yeah he will.

Back in the ring 3MB is taking on team random faces, otherwise known as Santino, R-Truth and Zack Ryder. Santino comes in, gets punched once and tags in Ryder who gets kicked in the face by Drew McIntyre. Ryder avoids a suplex by landing on his feet and hitting a neckbreaker (impressive) in order to reach Santino on a hot tag. A cover on Slater is broken up by Mahal, who gets clotheslined out of the ring by Truth. Santino then goes to hit the cobra when McIntyre pulls his arm down. Santino’s arm springs off the rope however to knock out Slater and get the win for team low level faces. Now that’s how you kill a crowd.

Backstage, Orton and Sheamus are arguing about who should face Big Show. Sheamus finally tells Randy, “I got this” and storms off toward the ring. Sheamus gets in the ring, but Orton comes out next to continue the argument. So who faces the Big Show? Let’s have the fans decide! Orton wins with 77% of the vote but Vickie and Booker T come out anyway to tell them that they agreed to have Sheamus and Orton fight each other for the right to face Big Show. So what was the point of the voting? Anyway this is the feud that was predicted for these two after WrestleMania. They both seem reluctant to throw punches at each other, settling for holds instead. They eventually get into it and trade moves for a while. Neither man can keep any momentum for more than a couple of moves, and it starts to lose the crowd a little. The match is lacking any intensity. Finally Orton starts to do the stomp, and puts a little extra pressure on the ankle. Meanwhile, the crowd just can’t stop chanting for JBL. They show him on the screen and the crowd goes nuts. They then start chanting for Lawler as Sheamus goes off the top rope and Orton meets him with a drop kick. Of course this starts a Michael Cole chant. Back from break the crowd is screaming ECW. Anything is on the table for this crowd. Orton and Sheamus then start trading blows in the middle of the ring, with Sheamus hitting an Irish Curse back breaker as a wave breaks out. Sheamus goes into his signature move set, including the chest slaps. Orton escapes White Noise to hit a back breaker and a Randy Savage chant starts. Randy Orton hits his signature moves as an HBK chants erupts. Orton hits the second rope DDT but Sheamus escapes the RKO and hits White Noise. Orton ducks under the Brogue Kick and Big Show decides to come own the ramp. He throws Sheamus into the ring post and the crowd screams “THANK YOU BIG SHOW” as he hits Orton with a KO Punch. Match was kind of meh but the crowd made it totally memorable. Show pulls Orton out of the ring and throws him into the outside barricade, following it up with spear and throwing Orton over the announce table into the barrier. Big Show then tried to throw two of the chairs over the top rope, into the ring but both chairs hit the ropes and came back to the floor. Show left with the crowd chanting “one more chair.” Fantastic.

Class act

Class act

Fandango ready for his second match ever against Kofi “I wore a suit at WrestleMania” Kingston. How far he has fallen since last year when he was walking around with the Tag Titles. Crowd is pretty favorable toward Fandango humming his entrance music and cheering him as he dances away from Kingston. A minute into the match Chris Jericho runs in and attacks Fandango throwing him over the top rope and throwing him into the barricade. Chris brings him toward the announce table, making JBL wonder where the spanish announce table is right now. Jericho gives JBL his cowboy hat that fell off the table before continuing the attack in the ring. Jericho applies the Walls, and needs two refs to force him to break the hold. Chris finally hits a code breaker before exiting the ring. After everyone leaves, Fandango grabs a mic, and corrects the announcer on the pronunciation of his name. His music hits and the fans continue to hum it. This is the best.

Backstage Paul Heyman is being interviewed about both of his guys losing at ‘Mania. He says that Lesnar took a beating but is still ready to fight tonight, while Triple H can’t use his left arm and Michaels was knocked out cold. However Brock won’t fight for free so he will not appear. He then announces that CM Punk will talk about how he feels about his match next week. Bummer.

Time for the match that got scratched from the WrestleMania card, as Team Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins take on Tons of Funk (ugh) and the Funkactyles (double ugh). The crowd still seems to be humming Fandango’s music as Naomi tosses Cody Rhodes with a hurricarana and Tensai does a tumble into him in the corner, celebrating with a shovel dance before missing on a back splash. Cody then hits him with a disaster kick, the Bella’s smash their asses into his face and Sandow hits the elbow of disdain. Tensai hits a backdrop and tags Clay who head butts Damien and has his cover broken up by the Bellas. The Funkadactyles take the ladies out of the ring, Tensai clotheslines Rhodes out and Sandow is alone with the two fat heels. They sandwich Damien and do simultaneous splashes on him, with Clay picking up the victory and a dance party starting after a very short match considering it had 8 people involved. Can’t say I wish I saw this at WrestleMania.

Main event time as Mark Henry takes on John Cena for WWE Championship title shot. The crowd still has Fandango on the brain and Cena responds by dancing around Henry. He tries chopping down Cena but Mark drops John down and goes on the attack. Fandango’s theme is going to be this year’s “YES” chant. Cena finally takes Henry down with a shoulder tackle but Mark escapes the ring before John can attempt a five knuckle shuffle. Outside the ring, Henry tries to put Cena through the announce table with a WSS, but Cena escapes. He tries an AA but can’t get Henry up. With the ref counting, Henry drives Cena into the ring post, then Cena drives Henry into the steel steps and gets back in the ring just before the ten count, giving Cena the cheapie win. Henry runs back in the ring and attacks Cena out of frustration, hitting Cena with the WSS and holding the belt over his head. Ryback then comes out to attack Henry, taking him down with a meathook clotheslines, and forcing him out with a spinebuster. Ryback extends his hand and pulls Cena up, then the two of them start competing for the crowd’s attention and Ryback clotheslines Cena and hits him with Shell Shocked, now holding the WWE Championship over his head to end the show. The last thing we need is a WWE Championship with Ryback logos on it.

I hope he doesn't eat the belt

I hope he doesn’t eat the belt

This is basically how last year’s Raw after ‘Mania ended, only with Brock Lesnar laying out Cena. This entire show was just awesome. The crowd was on fire and the wrestlers seem to step up and respond more to them as the night went on. At the moment we seem to have a couple of three man feuds, with Cena Henry and Ryback as well as Big Show, Orton and Sheamus. There is the inevitable rematch between Ziggler and Del Rio, with everyone else pretty much staying put. With no CM Punk for a little while, it looks like they are going forward with Ziggler and Mark Henry as the top heels. I can go along with that.

WrestleMania 29 Live Results And Reactions

01_SET_04052013cm_0052I’m lucky enough to be attending WrestleMania this year which means
two things. 1) I’m better than you; and 2) I can’t do my normal style of review since I won’t be watching on TV (I’ll let you decide if that’s good or bad).

So in place of a regular recap I’ll be giving my thoughts on wrestling’s biggest show live from my seat. It won’t have as much detail but at least it won’t be as long either!

Right off the bat I can tell I’m in for a long night. The pre show is extended to an hour starting at 6:00pm and it won’t end until 11:00pm. That’s five hours of wrasslin’ wrapped around a couple of hours traveling to and from the arena. I’m not sure I’m still going to like wrestling by the end of the night. I have the whole card divided into three categories (along with my stone cold lock predictions):

Matches I Have To Watch But Don’t Really Care About
-Rock vs. John Cena (Cena absolutely wins and crowd absolutely riots)
-Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (Triple H absolutely wins and I’d care more if my seats were close enough to see the inevitable blood)

Matches That Could Excede Expectations
-Chris Jericho vs. Fandango (Jericho wins in what has potential to steal the show)
-Ryback vs. Mark Henry (Ryback wins in what could also be the bomb of the night)
-Alberto Del Rio vs, Jack Swagger (Del Rio wins in a match I only care about because I think Ziggler will cash in and take the World Heavyweight Championship at the end)
Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show vs. The Shield (Shield wins on an Orton heel turn)

Matches I Am Paying To See
-Ziggler and Big E Langston vs. Team Hell No (With two of my favorite guys involved, Team Hell No wins but possibly break up at the end of it all no thanks to AJ)
-Undertaker vs CM Punk (The spectacle of the night and real main event will see the streak continue as Punk takes a beating that allows him to take a break)

Matches I’d Pay NOT To See
-Tons Of Funk And the Funkadactyles vs. Team Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins (Faces win in a match that Damien Sandow can’t even save)
-Wade Barrett vs. The Miz (Miz wins and I’ll be on the beer line)

Enough previewing. On to the show!

534 my view is a lot better than I thought it would be from the upper deck
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6:04 Kofi starting the pre show in a suit with JR and Dusty Rhodes. Big step down for Kingston

640 feeling raindrops first match starts (uh oh)
645 not hearing the sound of the mat makes really big difference.
646 miz wins ic belt on figure four in a solid match. Oh yeah, and its flat out raining
657 undertakers music plays by accident and the place almost erupted
7:05 hurricane sandy tribute to start to show
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707 shield and team super faces lead things off
721 shield wins because of Orton but not how I planned it. Orton took tag away from show so when shield ganged up on Randy Show didn’t help. Afterwards he KO punched Sheamus and Orton before storming off. Really fun match. Seth Rollins stood out.
730 Mark Henry versus Ryback next. Over/under on rape attempts is 2.5. Good pop for Ryback and our first pyro entrance!
737 boring chants from the crowd. They’re not wrong. Really slow and not interesting.
739 mark henry wins because ryback fell forward going for shell shocked. Hood finish to a bad match. Henry went back to do more damage but Ryback got up and hit shell shock for real this time. Ryback then went the wrong way out of the arena and had to be escorted back down the ramp and out the side. Classic Ryback.
750 ten seconds in, Ziggler and Big E is already better than Ryback/Henry. Dolph almost lost after AJ kissed him and Bryan hit a roundhouse kick. Kane would chokeslam Dolph and Bryan hit a flying headbutt to win a very good match.
757 Fan-dan-go!
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809 this guy just sat next to me
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812 Fandango wins by rolling the walls of Jericho into a small package. Jericho dominated most of the match and looked really good. Fandango had a couple nice moves but wasn’t overwhelming.
820 P Diddy medley time. Crowd I’d into it
830 Swagger came down the ramp in a 4 wheeler during the match montage and we got hate speech instead of a regular entrance. No car for Del Rio but he did get some pyro and a swanky white robe.
840 crowd chanting for Ziggler to cash in throughout the match
845 del Rio wins a decent match on the arm breaker. No Ziggler and the crowd boos heavily when they move to the next segment. Tonight’s not the night.
850 Punk vs Undertaker next and the crowd is pumped.
900 Punk’s entrance with Living Color was great, but there really is nothing like an Undertaker entrance. Unreal vibe.
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902 match wastes no time telling its story and feeling huge. Crowd is totally split and very loud
905 Punk did old school on the Undertaker! Move of the night
915 Punk just can’t break a table. Flying elbow still brought “awesome” chants
918 Punk hits gts but taker immediately responds with tombstone but only gets 2!
925 Undertaker wins with an unbelievable finish. Reversals of finishers left and right, Punk hit taker with the urn but Undertaker kept the streak alive with a tombstone. Match of the year. Punk was amazing and the Undertaker is no slouch himself. This was worth the price of admission.
932 I don’t envy Triple H and Brock Lesnar having to follow that classic. Paul Hetman gets kudos for being out for back to back main events though.
935 Shawn Michaels officials gets introduced as Mr WrestleMania. That’s equal to Joe DiMaggio being announced ad the greatest living hitter right?
938 Big pyro for Lesnar. Big set piece for Triple H. He’s like Skullator.
950 Brutal match, but anything outside the ring is totally lost with the crowd with the exception of Triple H being put through a table.
953 Lesnar botches a pedigree but Triple H recovers and hits it. Damn part timers.
955 you can hear chair shots from up here.
1003 Just had dueling kimora locks for what felt like forever. Lesnar kept
teasing tapping out but then kept slamming Triple H into the steel steps.
1005 Triple H wins! He clocks Lesnar with a sledgehammer and pedigrees him into the steps to win it. Match definitely had its moments but was only okay overall.
1015 Looks like the Rhodes Scholars got the shaft because Cena/Rock is next. They wasted no time on entrances either. Getting right to it.
1026 A guy just left his seat and headed home. No one gave him a hard time about it. Crowd is kinda gassed and match doesn’t have the tempo to bring them back. Crowd is 80% Rock but yhru are reacting like its split.
1040 I called the spot but it didn’t finish. Rock went for a five knuckle shuffle but Cena landed an AA for a two count.
1043 Spot of the night! Cena faked going for a peoples elbow and held the ropes when Rock got up. Rock hit a Rock bottom anyway for two.
1045 both guys won’t stop trying finishers and Cena finally hits an AA to win it. They hug and even though Cena wins the Rock leaves last. Rock holds Cena’s arm up at the stage and fireworks close the show. Everyone leaves feeling meh.

Overall it was a very good show. The weakest match was Ryback/Henry, and Cena/Rock suffered from the crowd being too drained to care and the hate for Cena. Still glad I can check WrestleMania off my bucket list and I’ll never forget Punk/ Undertaker. We’ll see how they follow it up tomorrow on Raw.

Until then I’ll leave you with the last image I saw.
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CM Punk Empties The Urn’s Ashes On The Undertaker On Raw

RAW_1036_Photo_167WrestleMania is less than a week away and considering that I am attending for the first time ever I actually couldn’t be less excited. There is a staleness to the entire card right now, with the main event overshadowing the matches I actually care about. It just feels like creative has taken a lazy approach to building up all of these matches, expecting the names alone to sell the card.

That brings us to the last Raw before WrestleMania, giving the WWE one more chance to sell the world on its plans for the show of shows. We’re off to a good start as JBL is joining Cole and Lawler. Throughout the show, let’s be aware of the law of reverse momentum, as whoever gets the edge tonight will probably lost on Sunday.

John Cena opens up the Washington D.C. show with the usual chorus of boos. He lets it linger for a while saying that he’s in a house divided (the crowd reminds him it’s not, they all hate him) before saying nothing in particular in an attempt to promote his match with the Rock at WrestleMania. He keeps talking the up Rock, how much he respects him and how great he is and how important this match is (it isn’t that important). He even calls the Rock the greatest WWE Champion of all time. Cena then starts talking about how he did the impossible already by winning the Royal Rumble (which he already did), beating CM Punk (who has lost a lot over the last few months) so beating the Rock is possible too. He explains how much it sucked to watch the Rock unveil the new WWE Championship, and that Cena will make sure the Rock loses that belt in its first defence at WrestleMania. He says that the Rock’s time is up, and Cena’s time is now (Rock’s time was 10 years ago and Cena’s time has been over the last ten years). Cena says that when he win the Rock will have to live with the loss for the rest of his life because this is what people will remember of him (Rock already said he wouldn’t take a loss the same way and there is no way this match will be the one people remember him by). At this point a very loud “boring” chant comes down from the crowd, making Cena pause for a moment. He finally wraps it up by saying the Rock will have to live with the fact that the belt made for the Rock is defended by Cena and screams that the champ is HEEEEEEEERE! Cena is getting booed like a heel, and it’s going to be really bad when WrestleMania ends in a huge chorus of boos as Cena beats the Rock. This feud just has nothing to offer that it didn’t do last year. Wanna bet that Cena wins because the Rock tried to do a five knuckle shuffle and ends up getting hit with an Attitude Adjustment instead?

The first match of the night is one we’ve already seen several times before as 3MB takes on Sheamus, Big Show and Randy Orton (who turns 33 today). JBL already had the line of the night, saying 3MB looks like the mean street posse at a karaoke bar. Big Show gets top billing when the heels go to the ring as the whole story of the match is whether or not the Big Show can be trusted. I have every reason to believe that Orton might be the one to turn heel, giving Shield another win. He’s painfully overdue for a heel turn and would there be a better spot to do it? You can then start a Sheamus/Orton feud and have plenty of possibilities going forward. The match went the same way as all of the other matches between the two teams so I won’t bother describing it. After all the faces hit their finishers to win the match with Big Show getting the pin on Mahal (SPOILERS!), the Shield comes out through the crowd to cut a promo. All three men find different ways to say, “enjoy doing good now, but we will beat you on Sunday.” The crowd was pretty pro Shield. One guy in particular kept screaming that he believes in the Shield. I’ve enjoyed each of the Shield’s matches and expect this one to be good as well. I also expect a swerve to come somewhere (likely in Orton’s heel turn) but it could also play straight and still work.

We believe in the Shield

We believe in the Shield

Being in the nation’s capitol, Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger went in front of the Capital Building to talk about how the country is weak and drained from immigrants and that Swagger will change this by beating up a mexican in a wrestling match. Swagger is starting to talk more which is for the best as he’s going to have to speak at least a little more if his push is going to continue. Del Rio responded backstage, saying that Swagger has the right so say whatever he wants but Alberto is going to keep his title whether he likes it or not. Apparently he is also going to face Colter in a match that Zeb challenged him to. Del Rio called him a fat pinata. They are turning into second graders, calling each other names in the playground.

Looks like an ancient statue

Looks like an ancient statue

Match of the night time as Daniel Bryan (with Kane in his corner) goes against Dolph Ziggler (with Big E and AJ). Bryan is the first one to gain control with a series of kicks and a backflip off the top turnbuckle into a takedown. Ziggler turned things around with a swinging neckbreaker and a dropkick to the back of Bryan’s head. Bryan then moved over Dolph running into the corner and suspended Ziggler over the top rope. When Daniel released the hold he went to the outside and ended up having a stare down with Big E. Dolph recovers while Bryan is outside and hits a fame-asser back in the ring for a two count. Ziggler takes control for the middle portion of the match, applying the headstand chin lock and fighting off Bryan’s attempts at coming back. Daniel finally delivers a kick to the head, but Dolph counters with a sleeperhold. Bryan fights him off and applies a sleeper of his own. Ziggler drops Bryan back and all of a sudden AJ starts skipping around Kane. Kane stares at her like a confused puppy and gets blindsided by Big E. Bryan does a baseball slide into Langston through the ropes, giving Ziggler the opening to roll up the distracted Bryan, grab a hold of the tights and get the victory. After the match, Langston runs in and drops Bryan with the reverse powerslam thing. Kane then comes in and after taking out Dolph he grabs Langston by the throat for a chokeslam. Big E powers Kane’s arm away however and reverse powerslam thingies him too! AJ then grabs the tag titles to Dolph and Langston, who hold them up in the air. Good match, but this was all about establishing Big E as a more legit force. Until now he had only been used for run ins but this was a good showcase of what he’s capable of. There’s no way Ziggler and Big E are winning is there?

Time to promote Triple H and Brock Lesnar rematch again and what better way to do it than with Shawn Michaels. Every time he comes out he looks more and more like he was in the middle of a hunting trip when he shows up. Now he’s in a full camo vest, kind of dressed like Zeb Colter. There were rumors that since he was so involved in the Triple H/Undertaker match that he would take a back seat this year to the McMahon family. Michaels goes through the card before getting to the Triple H/Lesnar match which is the whole reason he’s here. He says that he’s concerned about his best buddy Triple H putting his career on the line which immediately brings HHH out. Hunter says that he knows what Michaels is going to say and that he knows Shawn was in the same situation against the Undertaker. Micahels then says their situations were much different, as he and the Undertaker had mutual respect for each other while Lesnar doesn’t respect anybody, and that Triple H needs the WWE much more than Michaels did. With that in mind, Triple H said that he isn’t going to get talked out of the match. Michaels again retorts, saying that he isn’t trying to stop the match. Instead, he wants Triple H to kick Lesnar’s ass and Michaels is going to be in his corner while he does it. This is a nice twist from last year where Michaels was the Adrian to Hunter’s Rocky, always saying he can’t do it. They hug and Michaels is about to tell us to suck it when Heyman and Lesnar come out. Heyman has to physically hold Lesnar back so that he can talk about how Lesnar will beat Triple H into retirement and disappoint everyone from his family to the board of directors since he won’t be able to lead them anymore. I didn’t realize that this stipulation included retiring from his office job too. Could’ve been more clear about that. The more trash Heyman talks the more Triple H and Michaels motion for Lesnar to come to the ring and fight. Heyman calls it a sucker move from men who fight from emotion which is why they will lose. Heyman continues to cut a pretty good promo (is he capable of a bad one?) about how Lesnar broke both of their arms and will be known as the man who made Triple H retire before they both head back up the ramp. Again, is there any chance in hell that Triple H loses this match?

This is followed up by Zack Ryder making another grumpy appearance against Wade Barrett while the Miz joins the broadcast booth. Before the match it is announced that Barrett will defend his Intercontinental Championship against the Miz during the WrestleMania preshow. Barrett starts strong with knees to the gut and a snap suplex. Ryder comes back with a face buster and baseball slide outside the ring, but Wade regains control by taking down Ryder when he goes to the top rope. The match continues it’s back and forth pace when Ryder gets going again, hitting the Broski Boot for a two count. Wade then gets Zack in the corner and catches Ryder’s knees when he tries to counter. Barrett then hits Ryder with the Bull Hammer Elbow and gets the win, looking at Miz the whole time while Miz talks trash. Miz versus Barrett is midcard on Raw, and it’ll mid pre-show at ‘Mania. Sounds about right. Miz is probably lined up to win here.

Backstage Santino is warning Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox that Vince McMahon is in the house and is angry at them. Just as Vickie starts to freak out Santino jumps back in to yell “April Fools!” Oh Santino, I don’t miss you at all. As payback, Vickie puts Santino in a match against Mark Henry. Santino kicks Henry a couple of times, making Mark mad. Henry hits Santino once to knock him out. One World’s Strongest Slam later and the match is over. Ryback then comes out and heads into the ring. Henry reminds Ryback of the no contact clause that they have before their WrestleMania match. Henry then starts to leave when Ryback grabs Santino and rams him into Henry, sending him out of the ring. Ryback then throws Santino into Mark, taking him down again yelling, “I didn’t touch you, STUPID!” Okay, that’s the line of the night. I have really high hopes for this match, but reports are that the crowd and WWE officials haven’t been pleased with their matches during house shows. Let’s hope they pull it together for WrestleMania.

Catch the Santino

Catch the Santino

Backstage Matt Striker is talking to CM Punk, asking if he is disrespecting the memory of Paul Bearer by taking the urn. Punk responds by saying that he doesn’t give a damn, and that he is trying to get in the Undertaker’s head so that he can end the Undertaker’s streak. He says the Undertaker is more concerned with Paul Bearer’s streak of waking up every morning (burn) while Punk is only concerned with winning the match. Punk is willing to take the victory by DQ or count out as long as he wins at the end of the day. He promises to becomes synonymous with WrestleMania as he kisses the urn and leaves.

Gimmick match time as Zeb Colter gets in the ring (with Swagger in his corner) against Alberto Del Rio. Alberto wants Ricardo to leave ringside but Rodriguez refuses despite Swagger being there. Swagger immediately goes after Ricardo who holds up a crutch in self-defense. Colter grabs the crutch and Swagger attacks Ricardo. Del Rio then jumps out to save Rodriguez and takes out Swagger. On the way back in, Zeb hits Alberto with the crutch. Eventually Del Rio grabs it from him but before he can attack Zeb, Swagger comes in and takes down Alberto. The patriotic duo then starts attacking Del Rio with the crutches until a ref finally breaks it up and the heels head back up the ramp.

Rock coming out in the middle of the show? You damn right he is. The WWE Champion kicks off the third hour by telling John Cena that this Sunday isn’t about his redemption, but about the will of the people guiding the Rock to victory. Rock agrees with me in saying that Cena is saying the same things he said last year when he lost (Rock is saying the same things too though) and that Cena will never get his time. And that’s it. Probably the shortest promo the Rock has given since he came back. The WWE is so concerned with keeping all of their talent healthy that none of them seem to have wrestled since the last pay per view. Rock only work’s PPV’s. Cena hasn’t had a match since he beat Punk. Punk hasn’t had a match since winning the match to face Undertaker (he does have a legit injury though). The rest of the card only comes out for a few shows at best so we should be lucky that they are all even in the building tonight. The whole show has been monologue after monologue, with only a couple of real matches. Aside from Michaels announcing that he’ll be in Triple H’s corner, what has actually happened tonight?

RAW_1036_Photo_132

Minutes of fame left

***UPDATE*** I don’t know how it got deleted but I swear I had a full breakdown on Jericho’s match against Antonio Cesaro. The highlight for me was Cesaro yodeling before running into the corner for an uppercut, followed closely by Fandango coming out giving scores on all of Jericho’s moves. This is the best thing that character has ever done. After Jericho got Cesaro to tap out to the Walls, Fandango ran in and attacked Chris, hitting a couple of top rope leg drops while the crowd chants ÿou can’t wrestle” at a man who they have never seen actually wrestle. This is the risk the WWE is taking. They have a man making his in ring debut against a future hall of famer at their biggest show of the year. No pressure or anything.

What’s better for the last match before WrestleMania than a Divas tag match putting the Bella Twins against the Funkadactyles? Well, plenty but this is what we’re getting as a plot device for the 8 person mixed gender match with Team Rhodes Scholars and Tensai and Brodus Clay joining the ladies at WrestleMania. Naomi, who actually does have some talent, starts strong against one Bella but loses control against the other Bella. JBL says Tensai and Brodus look like “large rythmic tomatoes” with their red jump suits as Naomi botches a roll up pin but hit an enziguri, giving her the chance to get Cameron in on a hot tag. She hits a leg drop split move followed by a big DDT. One Bella saves the other from being pinned, with Naomi coming in to pull the illegal Bella out of the ring. The men get involved outside the ring (not what you think) leaving Cameron and the legal Bella in the ring alone. Naomi hits a running cross body for a pin attempt, but the Bella rolls her over and gets the win via pinfall. Not a bad match at all, and only now do I realize that Cody and Sandow are wearing each other’s shirts. I love Team Rhodes Scholars.

Brilliant

Brilliant

Undertaker in the ring to close the show. He says the pain he will put on Punk will last much longer than his championship streak did, and that Punk is the one who made it personal so Punk will now suffer. Taker admits that the streak may come to an end due to his emotional state, but Punk will never live to talk about it. At this point the druids that normally come out to introduce the Undertaker come out. A confused Undertaker watches as Paul Heyman comes out dressed like Paul Bearer, holding the urn. The Undertaker starts to run toward him when he realized he is surrounded by the druids. Taker starts attacking them until Punk reveals himself and attacks Undertaker from behind. He then takes the urn and starts beating the Undertaker with it. Punk calls the Undertaker “Hocus Pocus,” saying that he did this to him before emptying the ashes of the urn over the Undertaker’s body. Punk holds the urn over Undertaker as the show ends and that is a hell of a way to sell this feud. I would still love to know what they would have done had Bearer not passed away, but that was great.

So that’s it. WrestleMania is in six days as with very few exceptions everything is set. I’m more drawn in by the potential of the matches than the way the stories have played out. While I may not be that interested from a creative standpoint, I do see the potential for a number of matches to be very good, if not great. Regardless of what happens though, the sight of Paul Heyman dressed as Paul Bearer almost makes the whole thing worth it.

Since I’ll be at WrestleMania I won’t be able to do the same coverage that I would if I was watching on TV. On the bright side I’ll have some distant pictures from my upper deck seats. Everyone wins!

Undertaker Throws Punches, Rock Lays Out Cena On Boring Raw

RAW_1035_Photo_206So let’s be real. Last week’s Raw sucked.

We waited the whole night to hear what the special conditions were for Triple H and Brock Lesnar, and we end up having a guy that quit on his own months ago get into a retirement match. Why is this supposed to be such a big deal?

Undertaker and Punk have all the makings of being a big deal, but it just feels like it’s missing something. Perhaps it’s because Punk is being kept out of the ring and the Undertaker isn’t allowed to do more than walk slowly until ‘Mania. It also seems to be getting third billing among the three main events, which is too bad because I’m pretty sure it’s the match people want to see most.

That brings us to the main main event. The Rock is actually going to be on Raw for the first time in weeks and I’m not even sure that’s a good thing. The WWE Champion seems to have nothing to offer the WWE outside of Pay Per View events, and it’s hurting his reputation in the locker room and the fans. Cena meanwhile has nothing to say regarding his opponent that hasn’t already been said.

CAN I HAZ URN!?

CAN I HAZ URN!?

Tonight’s show kicks off with CM Punk strolling down the ramp with Paul Heyman holding Paul Bearer’s urn. Heyman hasn’t been associated with Punk much since Lesnar came back so it’s good to see him in Punk’s corner. Of course Lesnar won’t be here tonight so it’s not like he’ll be out for two people on the same night. I’m very curious how involved he is at WrestleMania. Punk catches the urn from Heyman and talks about all the things people say about the Undertaker regarding WrestleMania and the urn. He says the perfect ending would have been for the Undertaker to retire after last year’s ‘Mania (hard to argue), but he ruined it by coming back to challenge Punk, who does no believe in all that mumbo jumbo. He says he took the urn because it means so much to the Undertaker, and says it doesn’t mean anything to him. He then throws it on the ground (ooooooooooh). Punk says that he has the psychological disadvantage because he has something the Undertaker wants. The phrase “rest in peace” means nothing to Punk, as he does not rest like the Undertaker does between WrestleMania’s (funny because he’s apparently scheduled some time off after ‘Mania) and he is never at peace. He says that he is the best in the world and that the Undertaker’s record will rest in peace. Just then the Undertaker’s music hits, the lights go out, and when they come back on ‘Taker is attacking Punk! He’s throwing punches! Punk runs out of the ring as Heyman follows with the urn. Promo was fine but it was all worth it for five seconds of actually seeing the Undertaker in action.

The first match of the night is supposed to be Fandango against somebody. After dancing around and into the ring, he says his name and Chris Jericho immediately comes down the ramp and attacks Fandango. Cole keeps saying that this is not the scheduled match and Fandango runs off. What was the scheduled match? Who got shorted? Why couldn’t they name a random guy? That should matter shouldn’t it? Anyway Jericho was supposed to face Dolph Ziggler later in the show but since Jericho was in the ring, Ziggler decided to comes out as well and they are now having their match. Who was backstage ready to come out? Does he now just go back to the locker room? Does he still get paid?

The two trade blows for a while to start, with Ziggler escaping the Walls of Jericho only to be hit with a cross body splash from the top rope for a two count. Big E pulled Jericho face first onto the apron during the break, giving Ziggler control of the match. Dolph then puts Jericho in the abdominal stretch (my favorite move of all time) until Chris escapes and goes into his series of shoulder blocks and a double axe handle from the top rope. Jericho hits Dolph with the running bulldog, then hits Big E with a springboard dropkick. Dolph hits a DDT for a two count, but Jericho escapes the sleeper and applies the Lion Tamer, winning the match via submission. Big E spoils the celebration by attacking Jericho and hitting him with the move of no name. With Jericho down, Fandango comes out and dances over Jericho before attacking him too. Fandango is now throwing punches. He then takes Fandango out with a sloppy boot to the face, getting chants of “you can’t wrestle.” After a leg drop from the top rope, Fandango said his name and left. This whole thing took forever to play out and they are definitely facing each other at WrestleMania and I haven’t seen anything out of Fandango yet to make me think it is a good idea.

I am the glitteriest dancing WWE Superstar!

I am the glitteriest dancing WWE Superstar!

Backstage Sheamus is being interviewed about the Shield when the Shield run in and attack him. Slowly, Orton and Big Show come to get his back and their stare at each other awkwardly.

Mark Henry now in the ring for a handicapped match against the Uso’s. So now Henry is being booked like Ryback used to. The Uso’s drop Henry with some kicks to the jaw but it only slows him down for a little bit. Henry head butts one of them, throws the other one out of the ring, hits a WSS and wins the match. After the match, Henry drops each Uso with another WSS. Why? Because THAT’S WHAT HE DOES!

Time for Jack Swagger to throw up in his mouth again because World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio is taking on United States Champion Antonio Cesaro. Ricardo Rodriguez comes out in crutches to announce Del Rio after having his ankle broken by Swagger last week. Del Rio starts working the arm before Antonio fights back for a bit as Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger head to the stage. Alberto then met Cesaro at the top rope to deliver a superplex. With both men down, Swagger went to attack Rodriguez again but this time Del Rio attacked Swagger, forcing him out of the arena as Cesaro celebrates the victory via count out. Del Rio then takes his frustration out on Cesaro, kicking him down and applying the cross arm breaker. Real nice Alberto. Way to be a face.

The Prime Time Players up next against Team Hell No in what should go longer than the last two matches combined. Bryan and Kane start strong with a lot of good teamwork on O’Neil before doing the same to Darren Young. Ziggler, Big E and AJ then pop up on the stage to watch as the PTP take control. Kane comes in on a hot tag and after Bryan takes out Titus with a knee off the ramp, Kane hits the chokeslam to pin Young for the win. Somehow there was no interference. I guess they were just there to remind us they had a match at WrestleMania.

IC = Injured Crotch

IC = Injured Crotch

After showing a full recap of last week’s snoozer of a contract signing, Triple H came to the ring to address the crowd. He says going against Brock Lesnar you have to think your career has a chance of ending anyway and that he always fights like his career depends on it. So basically the stipulation doesn’t matter. He finishes by saying he’s going to kick Lesnar’s ass and starts to storm off. Wade Barrett then comes down the ramp for his match and tells Triple H to get a move on. Triple H responds by kicking Barrett in the nuts and leaving. Very short promo. Not complaining.

When Barrett finally gets to the ring he has a match against the Miz. Miz immediately tries for the figure four leglock but Wade escapes the ring. When he comes back in Miz takes over again and tries for the Skull Crushing Finale so Barrett exits again. Wade finally gets going when he hits Miz with a big boot trying to climb to the top rope. After controlling the middle of the match, Miz comes back by lifting Wade over the top rope and hitting him with a double axe handle off the ramp to the outside. Back in the ring, Barrett is in control again after throwing Miz in the barrier in the corner. Miz then ducks under a clothesline, toe dragging Barrett into the corner to get going. Miz hits the leaping clothesline and follows up with a double axe handle off the top rope for a two count. Barret escapes the SCF to hit a swinging side slam for a two count. Barrett then escapes the figure four a couple of times before delivering a side kick to the head for another two count. He sets up for the bull hammer elbow but Miz ducks under it and applies the figure four to get Barrett to tap out. It’s pretty amazing how often Miz is winning with that move. Solid match.

Backstage, Kane and Bryan are arguing about AJ’s impact on them in their match against Ziggler and Big E. Kaitlyn jumps in and tells them to forget about her as they all start bitching about her while AJ is listening in the background. AJ then goes off the deep end and attacks Kaitlyn when she calls her crazy (the secret word!) and Team Hell No has to pull them apart.

Khali, Zack Ryder Justin Gabriel and (aka team jobber) goes against the Shield next. Khali starts off strong against Seth Rollins, turning things around when Zack Ryder gets tagged in. The offense continues for the Shield as Ambrose and Reigns each get their shots in on Ryder. Zack eventually tags Gabriel in but he gets attacked from behind. Ambrose  props Gabriel on his knees as Rollins hits him with a flying knee to end the match. Khali has enough and attacks the Shield, eventually getting hit with a triple power bomb. Sheamus, Orton and Big Show then come out to help the faces, surrounding and attacking the Shield in the ring. The Shield runs off licking their wounds as the three faces put their arms around each other and point at the WrestleMania sign.

Best friends

Best friends

Backstage Jericho says that Vickie Guerrero has granted him a match at WrestleMania against Fandango. Yup. It’s official. Blerg.

Team Rhodes Scholars out to the ring to back Philly Cheesesteaks and to introduce the Bella Twins. It’s pretty out of character for Sandow to be into the Bella’s isn’t it? Anyway they will be in the Rhodes Scholars’ corner as they take on Brodus Clay and Sweet-T with the Funkadactyles (that sentence made my head hurt). Brodus and Tensai start off strong against Tensai with Cody turning the tide on Tensai. Brodus comes back in to clean house and hit a splash on Rhodes, knocking him out of the ring. The Bellas go to help him when the Funkadactyles go to attack them (just because). Tensai goes to break things up as Cody runs back in to hit a disaster kick on Clay, winning the match for Team Rhodes Scholars. Very weird feud.

Since Mark Henry beat two men and Ryback doesn’t like being overshadowed, Ryback will now take on all of 3MB. Ryback plows through all three men until McIntyre knocks him down with a running boot to the face while Ryback is distracted. They keep Ryback down for about 30 seconds before Ryback powers his way back up and takes over again. He destroys everyone with spine busters and meat hook clotheslines, putting up Slater and Mahal at the same time for Shell Shocked to end the match. Vintage Ryback. After the match it was announced that Ryback and Mark Henry will compete in a weight lifting contest on Smackdown. Somebody is gonna get hit with a weight.

AJ now out for an actual match against Kaitlyn. I get the feeling this will turn into a slap fight quickly. Kaitlyn brings her down immediately, then throws her in the corner a few times before AJ slaps her. Kaitlyn responds with a big clotheslines and gut buster sending her out of the ring. Kaitlyn then goes for the spear outside the ring but AJ moves away and Kaitlyn goes right into the outside barrier. Kaitlyn can’t make it back into the ring in time and AJ wins via count out. That’s now two matches that ended by count out. Is AJ gonna get a title shot at WrestleMania? By the way, that would be the last match of the night. Some wrestling show.

So what do we get instead of a main event match? We get Jerry Lawler moderating a debate between John Cena and the Rock, featuring Booker T, Mick Foley, Dusty Rhodes and Brett Hart. I can see this segment bombing hard. I’d be pretty pissed if I paid to go to this show.

With all the Hall of Famers in suits, the Rock comes out in his track pants to a pretty mild ovation. The WWE Championship feels pretty meaningless right now, only appearing on TV once every few weeks. That can’t be good. Cena comes out to a much louder reaction, although most of it is boos. With all the furniture in the ring Cena can’t do his slide in, so instead he casually shakes some hands. I’m already done with this. Foley asks Cena if he can live with the regret if he lost to Rock again. Cena responds by saying WrestleMania will be a historic day for the WWE that will change the company forever. Why? This is the second time they are facing and Cena has won the title a million times. Ultimately Cena says if he lost he’d feel like Donavan McNabb losing the SuperBowl, getting immediate heat from the Philly fans. He remarks that he didn’t win the big one. Again, Cena has so many “big wins” that the fans boo him for it. He then says that the Rock doesn’t know what failure feels like “yet.” Rock responds by talking about how he slept in cars and got released 6 months into his WWE career after tearing up his knee, only to come back and become the Rock only to lose his title to Steve Austin. That’s all fine and good, but it all comes back to Rock saying he’s going to beat Cena, and Cena claiming the opposite. Even worse, they are both faces. All of the Hall of Famers start off by saying how much they like both of them. Where is the drama? They are facing each other just because.

 

How do you sell the biggest wrestling event of the year? With a debate of course!

How do you sell the biggest wrestling event of the year? With a debate of course!

Hart then asks what changed after last year’s WrestleMania, provoking them both to talk about how much they respect each other. WHO CARES!? Booker T asks Cena why he thinks he can beat the Rock, to which Cena replies, “because I have to.” That’s it. Rock takes issue with the answer, provoking Cena until he admits that the Rock didn’t beat him, Cena beat himself when he decided to go for the People’s Elbow. He says he had the Rock beat, but he decided to pander to the crowd by using the Rock’s own move in his home town and it cost him. Cena says it will never happen again. We’re finally getting somewhere. Cena says he thinks he can beat the Rock because he knows he is better than him, and that the Rock knows it. Rock says if Cena really had him beat he would have beaten him, and that Rock will always be the man. Dusty then asks them what they want out of this match. Cena says he wants to win the big one and dominate the Rock, handing him a devastating loss that will haunt him for the rest of his life. The Rock says he isn’t wired to be haunted by a loss, and that the match will end just like last year’s. The Rock then challenges Cena to prove him wrong right now and steps to the middle of the ring. Cena goes to him, waves his hand in his face and puts him up for an Attitude Adjustment. Rock gets out of it and delivers a Rock Bottom, ending the show with Cena on his back and the Rock walking out with the WWE Championship while Cena looks like a spoiled brat who didn’t get the present he wanted for his birthday. We finally got a physical confrontation between these two but damn it took forever to get there.

Aside from the last 30 minutes (the show ran 20 min long) of debate, Raw seemed to spend most of its time promoting Fandango versus Jericho and AJ versus Kaitlyn. Triple H was out for five minutes and Punk and Undertaker opened the show, never to be seen again. I’m all for not over exposing talent, but don’t underexpose either. A lot of what’s going on just feels so stale, and the interesting material gets pushed aside for what we’ve already seen. There is one more Raw before WrestleMania. Can we please get some surprises?

Triple H Signs Contract On Raw, Career On The Line Vs Lesnar

RAW_1034_Photo_187Anybody care that John Cena and the Rock both weren’t on Raw last week?

Good. Me either. Let’s move on.

John Cena opens this week’s show with a brand new yellow shirt (available on WWEShop.com) to talk about the match that he didn’t care enough about to promote last week. What’s his big message for his first promo in two weeks? The Rock’s time is up, Cena’s time is now. The same damn thing he said the last time he spoke. Not wrestled by the way, just spoke. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but thankfully the Prime Time Players came out, and for some reason Titus O’Neil is wearing a prison suit and an afro wig. Titus says that he is not Titus O’Neil, he is in fact Darren Young’s uncle, Rufus “Pancake” Patterson. Why do they call him Pancake? Because he FLATTENS FOOLS that’s why! Anyway he says that like Cena, they are also ready for WrestleMania. Cena responds by pandering to the crowd by mentioning all of their sports teams (except the Pirates) and then tries to blow off the Prime Time Players because he is occupied with his match with the Rock (who isn’t in the building tonight). Titus Rufus responds by saying that the crowd doesn’t want to see John Cena, they want to see the Prime Time Players. I’ll be damned if the crowd isn’t starting to dig it. Patterson ads that Darren Young looks like a black John Cena, so since Cena is on Fruity Pebbles boxes that Young should be on Cocoa Pebbles boxes. Now they are starting to get on my side. Since Rufus is too old to take on Cena himself, Darren is going to beat him instead, adding that afterwords Cena will be crying on the ramp just like at the end of last year’s WrestleMania. Cena takes that last comment seriously and accepts the challenge to a match. Cena hits a running bulldog and tries to apply the STF before “Rufus” pulls him out and our first match of the night is underway. After the commercial break, Cena hits the five knuckle shuffle and the Attitude Adjustment to win the match, declaring himself ready for the main event at WrestleMania. If beating Darren Young is all it takes, then a lot of guys are ready for the main event. Very, safe, booking.

Darren Young and Uncle Pancake

Darren Young and Uncle Pancake

On to someone who is seen almost as often as the Rock, David Otunga is in the ring to take on Ryback. It was announced on Smackdown that Ryback would join Sheamus and Randy Orton to take on the Shield, but we all know he is going to be replaced by the Big Show so that he can face Mark Henry instead. WWE.com then made it official by accident went they leaked a photo of the match featuring Big Show in Ryback’s face. Ryback absolutely destroyed Otunga, hitting all of his moves with no offense from David whatsoever. Just like the Cena match before it. So far this is playing out a lot like the old Saturday morning shows they used to have in the 80’s. After the match, Ryback cut a promo about his WrestleMania match against the Shield, mentioning that he will cross Mark Henry’s path sometime before then. Henry decided now was as good of a time as any and started to head down the ramp. Suddenly Teddy Long found his big boy pants and, along with Vicki Guerrero, informed them that Ryback has been pulled from the six man tag match and will face Mark Henry at WreslteMania. Well if it’s already leaked they might as well not waste any more time delaying it. Ryback celebrates by giving Otunga a second Shell Shocked, screaming “THIS IS YOU” at Henry. I’m really looking forward to this match.

Fandango is now actually in a wrestling ring! He’s not wrestling of course, but this is as close as he’s gotten. They are really putting a lot into this gimmick and it is just not working. He’s scheduled to face Khali, who is accompanied by Natala. They were supposed to square off on Smackdown but Khali couldn’t pronounce his name (big surprise). This time around, Fandango hits on Natalya and tries to get her to say his name instead. Natalya doesn’t bite, telling Khali to go get him. Since Khali is about as fast as dial-up internet, Fandango got away and once again we don’t get a match. Once again I don’t care.

R-Truth is net to the ring in some type of weird white overalls thing to take on Damien Sandow. Naturally, Damien is not a big fan of R-Truth, saying that the R stands for repugnant. Truth tells  Damien that he’s going to get got and the match is on. This is the first competitive match of the show as they trade blows before Sandow starts to gain control. He hits a snap suplex and applies a chin lock, followed by a flurry of knees to the gut and his fancy pants elbow. Truth starts to come back with a couple of clotheslines and a spinning kick leading into a leaping scissor kick. Sandow gets knocked out of the ring and decides he’s had enough, heading backstage and taking the count out. Truth wins as Cody Rhodes is watching backstage with the Bella Twins. Kaitlyn comes by to tell Cody that he has plans later and can’t hang out or whatever they were going to do (sex) and the Bella’s are all, “whatever.” Kaitlyn’s all “meeeeeh you can have him” and “all of you have mustaches and junk.” Then she left and Cody was all “hmmm the sex would have been fun, but these are twins.” I think that’s what happened. I wasn’t really paying attention. Is Cody gonna turn face? Not sure what I think of that.

UNDERTAKER IS GOING TO SPEAK! Showing up to Raw for the third week in a row, the Undertaker is finally going to do something besides stare at people. After he raises the house lights, ‘Taker lowers them again to talk in his creepy blue lights (because they’re spoooooooky). He says Punk sealed his fate when he made things personal by taking the urn. He’s going to hurt him, and hurt him bad. He says Punk has one chance to save his soul, and that’s by returning the urn right now. Instead, Punk shows up on the titantron doing a Paul Bearer impression while using the urn as a ventriloquist dummy. He then adds that if the Undertaker gets counted out or disqualified that it still counts as a loss. Punk says you could call the Undertaker the best in the world at WrestleMania, but Punk is the best in the world all year. While throwing the urn around to himself, he adds that the Undertaker has special powers and answers to a higher calling. Punk then says that he doesn’t have special powers or answer to a higher power, because he IS a higher power. Punk says that he is the only one willing to bare the physical and emotional burden it takes to beat the streak, doing whatever it takes to win. He then drops the urn on the ground before picking it up again as the Undertaker watches in the ring, seething as the segment ends. Pretty good promo. It’s nice how they never mention the feud they had back in 2009. Clever stuff, WWE creative.

Sin Cara lighting

Sin Cara lighting

Following up the promo is the Undertaker’s brother Kane, teaming up with Daniel Bryan against Epico and Primo. Needless to say, Kane is pissed. He opens things up by kicking Epico out of the ring. Bryan then tags himself in to try to calm him down and Kane begrudgingly exits. Bryan then takes on Primo, evading a sunset flip attempt and hitting a roundhouse kick to the head before Epico gets tagged in for more of the same. Rosa and Primo then distract Bryan, giving Epico the opening to take the momentum back. I think there would be a bigger reaction if Rosa danced in the ring while Epico and Primo wrestled on the outside instead.  Bryan takes a beating for a while before finally tagging Kane back in to steamroll over Primo. After a sidewalk slam and top rope smash, Kane sets up for the chokeslam when AJ comes out of nowhere, skipping around the ring wearing red and black. Primo uses the distraction to try to roll up Kane but Kane kicks out, Bryan kicks Primo out of the ring and Kane chokeslams Epico (now the legal man) to win the match while AJ looks on like a psycho. I missed psycho whore AJ. She skips off and Team Hell No looks confused in victory.

Backstage Chris Jericho is being interviewed by Josh Matthews about his triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship when Fandango pops in. Jericho makes fun of his name and basically his entire gimmick before Fandango  storms off saying that Jericho will learn to say his name. He storms off as Jericho says he didn’t even get his movie tickets yet (FINALLY SOMEONE SAID IT). He said he wants two tickets for Dead Man Down (sure he does). Is Fandango going to cost Jericho the IC belt? Is Fandango going to make his ring debut at WrestleMania against Jericho? This seems terrifyingly possible right now.

Cody Rhodes gets the opportunity to job to World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio came out to a brand new rendition of his theme, which is much more festive and even more Mexican than before. I’m betting he comes out to a live mariachi band at WrestleMania. Del Rio takes control early, bringing Rhodes down and working the arm, adding in some sweet mat wrestling in the process before Rhodes starting to take back momentum. Cody hits a suplex and applies a leg chin lock (chin lock with his legs) and dodges Del Rio running into the corner, forcing Alberto into the ring post. Cody tries to keep the pressure on in the corner but the ref makes him back off, giving Del Rio the space to hit a side kick to the gut (and proving that the refs are biased). Alberto hits a sweep kick to the back and then kicks Cody out of the ring. Del Rio went for it again when Cody tried to get back in the ring, but Rhodes moves away as Alberto fell through the ropes, and Cody followed up with a disaster kick off the barricade to regain control. This is easily the best match of the night so far (not saying much based on what it’s followed) as both men are putting on a good show. Back in the ring, Del Rio went for a second rope moonsault but Cody rolled away and Alberto landed on his bad knee (injured on Main Event by Jack Swagger) and Cody took control again and started working the knees. Rhodes then tries to land a suplex from the second rope (what’s with the second rope today?) but Alberto fights back and throws Cody back down face first. Del Rio then gets going, hitting the spinning back breaker and the sidekick to the face for a two count. Alberto then starts a clap going by slapping his arm (is that really a thing now?) and goes in for the cross armbreaker. Cody avoids it however and hits a moonsault for a long two count. USA chants start to get going as Del Rio hits a back stabber for another two count (take that Alberto!). Cody avoids the enziguri but Del Rio applies the cross arm breaker and gets Rhodes to tap out. The victory is short lived however as Jack Swagger runs in to attack Del Rio from behind. Ricardo runs in to help Alberto and Swagger tosses him aside, giving Alberto the chance to fight back, taking the fight outside the ring where Jack is laid out after being thrown into the barricade. Del Rio then switches his attention to Zeb Colter who is nearby. Del Rio gets his hands on Zeb but Swagger attacks Alberto before he can do any damage, throwing him into the steel steps and over the announce table as USA chants come down from the Pittsburgh crowd. So that’s two heels essentially getting cheered over the Mexican World Heavyweight Champion. On the way out, Swagger clotheslines Ricardo and applies the Patriot Act, breaking Rodriguez’s ankle. He’s left screaming in pain as the medical staff tries to work on him. Glad this feud is turning physical instead of all the Tea Party videos. Unfortunately, Cody Rhodes great performance will get lost in all this.

If you thought the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony was fully booked, think again. Booker T is now joining the rest of 2013’s class. I have no problem with Booker, but really? Did he need to be put into the hall of fame now? I know this isn’t Cooperstown but what’s the deal here? The best part of the reel they used was that it included an edited version of his infamous promo about Hulk Hogan (we comin’ for you ‘bleep’). I wonder if he’d be going if he wasn’t currently involved with WWE and provided them with tons of talent out of his wrestling school.

Randy Orton and Sheamus out next to take on Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre of 3MB. We’ll see how long it takes for Sheamus and Orton to add Big Show to their team. The faces use a lot of quick tags in getting all of their moves in. It’s not until Jinder Mahal provides a distraction that McIntyre finally establishes some offense against Sheamus. Sheamus fights back with a double axe handle on Drew coming down from the top rope, leading to a hot tag on Orton who takes care of Slater with a second rope DDT. Sheamus hits Drew and Jinder with Brogue Kicks so that Orton can hit Slater with an RKO to win the match. After the match the Shield comes down the steps to attack Orton and Sheamus. Before they can step in however, the Big Show runs down the ramp and into the ring to join the faces. Suddenly the Shield can’t get into the ring and they retreat back into the crowd. Show looks at Sheamus and Orton while pointing at the WrestleMania sign, leaving them to think about adding him to their team.

Did AJ fart?

Did AJ fart?

Time for match of the night consideration as Dolph Ziggler (and his crew) takes on Kofi Kingston. Cole brings up the fact that Ziggler has, with the help of Langston, beaten both tag team champions in singles action in the last two weeks. This adds to the rumor that Ziggler and Big E will team up to challenge Team Hell No for the Tag Team Championships (AJ’s interference earlier helps as well). It makes sense and it gives us Bryan and Ziggler with a title on the line, making me almost kinda right. It’s also a match that wouldn’t take too much out of Dolph so that he can cash in his MITB briefcase later on. Maybe he wins two titles that night? I’m getting way ahead of myself. Kingston and Ziggler get a quick pace going early, both getting moves in before Kofi is slowed down when he misses on a splash in the corner. Dolph follows with a standing dropkick and headstand chinlock but misses on his splash in the corner give Kofi the opening to hit a standing dropkick of his own (not as pretty though). Kingston wiggles out of a sleeperhold to hit a springboard splash for a two count. Kofi connects on the boom drop but Ziggler ducks under Trouble in Paradise. Kofi then backflips out of another sleeper attempt and hits a swinging kick in the corner to Ziggler’s head. Kofi goes to the top rope but AJ gets on the ramp to cause a distraction. With Ziggler now outside the ring, Kofi goes to leap into him but Langston comes out from behind Dolph and slam Kingston down to the mat. Ziggler gets Kofi back in the ring and hits him with the Zig Zag to take the match. Dolph now has some momentum going after not winning for what seemed like forever. After the match Team Hell No came out to congratulate Dolph on being the only one to get Bryan and Kane on the same page. Kane says that he’s seen enough of Big E Langston outside the ring, and wants him inside. They challenge Dolph and Big E to a tag match, which AJ accepts under the condition that they put their titles on the line and have the match at WrestleMania. Dolph doesn’t seem too thrilled about the whole thing, but Bryan agrees and the match is on. See? We don’t need a GM to book matches. The wrestlers can just do it themselves.

Stealing a win

Stealing a win

Time for Wade Barrett to put his Intercontinental Championship on the line in a triple threat match against Chris Jericho and the Miz. Barrett strarts off by attacking Jericho and Miz, with Chris singling out Wade and throwing him out of the ring to make way for Miz and Jericho to square off. Miz leaves the ring to attack Barrett, so Jericho leaps over the top rope onto both of them. Back in the ring, It’s much like the majority of triple threat matches as one competitor ends up outside the ring most of the time so that only two men are in the ring for most of the match. This one takes a much faster pace though as only one or two moves get used before the guy on the outside jumps back in and kicks another man out. The highlight early on is a “super-superplex,” with Barrett hitting a superplex while Jericho slams down Wade from the floor. Somehow Jericho sells this as well despite not being hit. The pace evens out a little as Miz gets taken out by getting thrown into the ring post. This gets Jericho going against Wade as he gets a two count on a cross body splash from the top rope. Jericho hits the running bulldog but Miz pulls the rope down as Jericho was going for the lionsault. Barrett then hit Miz with a swinging side slam, but Miz came back to apply the figure four on Barrett. The hold was only broken up by Jericho coming in with a lionsault on Miz for a two count. With Miz out of the ring, Jericho locks the Walls of Jericho in on Barrett, which is broken up by the Miz going for the Skull Crushing Finale. Chris wiggles out of it but Miz ducks under a punch and sets it up again, tosses Barrett over the top rope while still holding onto Jericho. Chris rolls it into a schoolboy however for a close two count and hits a codebreaker to take out Miz. Barret then throws out Jericho and tries for the cover, but Jericho pulls Wade out of he ring and throws him into the barricade. Chris then gets back in the ring to pin but Miz kicks out on two. Great stretch of moves. Miz comes back with a DDT for another two count but misses on the leaping clothesline in the corner. Jericho then hits a springboard dropkick on Barrett, knocking him out of the ring again as Miz lands a big boot for another two count on Jericho. Jericho then misses on an enziguri, avoids the figure four and rolls up Miz for a two count. Chris then goes for a double axe handle off the second rope (the most dangerous rope) but Miz catches him and hits the SCF to lay out  Jericho. Wade Barrett then runs in at the last moment to roll up Miz and steal the win via pinfall to retain his IC Title. Great match. Well done from beginning to end.

The show closes with Triple H coming out to decide if he is going to sign the contract for a match against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania (spoiler alert: he is). The catch is that Brock will add a stipulation to the match that Triple H won’t know until after he signs the contract. I like Triple H doing his full entrance with water spitting and screaming while a desk and office chairs are in the ring. I wonder if that’s how he walks into his office in Stanford. After all the spitting, Paul Heyman heads into the ring with the match contract and a team of security guards. Heyman recaps last week’s segment (that I summed up at the start of this paragraph) and explains that he brought the security because Triple H is frustrated and doesn’t want him to let those frustrations out on Heyman. Triple H then makes fun of the security guards for not being huge. Heyman then gets to the point, explaining the situation again. Triple H just wants to sign the contract and get on with it but Heyman wants to delay things, showing the fight Triple H and Lesnar had three weeks ago where Brock got busted open. Heyman then reveals that Brock told Heyman that he can pick the stipulation, and says that he decided that the winner of the match gets Stephanie McMahon. Trying to get Triple H to snap, Paul says that it would make more sense if the loser got Stephanie. That does the trick and Triple H starts to attack Heyman. The guards step in but they get knocked around and thrown out of the ring (the last one just runs away). Triple H lays Paul out on the desk and chops him. Heyman calls for Brock, but Triple H says that since he knows Brock won’t come out until the contract is signed, he’s going to enjoy this moment. He smacks Paul around and tears his shirt open, finally putting the contract on Heyman’s chest, signing it and throwing him out of the ring. Lesnar finally comes out swinging a chair and screaming like a maniac heading down the ring. Triple H then pulls out a sledgehammer and Heyman keeps Brock from getting in the ring. The paid head up the ramp, where Heyman says that the beating was worth it to get Heyman to sign the contract. Heyman then announces that it will be a No Holds Barred match, with Triple H’s career put on the line. Wasn’t Triple H pretty much retired anyway? This isn’t exactly a huge deal to me. I thought Heyman taking over as COO would have been better. The No Holds Barred stipulation feels a little tame to me too. I guess I was just expecting more. It could still be good, just not as god as it could have been.

Letting the hair flow

Letting the hair flow

At the end of the show the picture for WrestleMania looks a hell of a lot clearer. Here is how the card looks at the moment:

John Cena vs. The Rock for the WWE Championship

Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger for the World Heavyweight Championship

CM Punk vs. The Undertaker

Big Show, Randy Orton and Sheamus vs. The Shield

Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston vs. Team Hell No for the Tag Team Championships

Ryback vs. Mark Henry

Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H

Looking like a pretty good lineup. There are still a number of names to add, and I really hope Jericho isn’t wasted on Fandango, but there is still two more weeks to figure things out. The Rock comes back next week, so we at least now that half the show will be about him talking. Maybe Cena will speak too!

CM Punk Spoils The Undertaker’s Tribute To Paul Bearer On Raw

RAW_1033_Photo_215Now that the Undertaker is officially back it really feels like WrestleMania is upon us. However, eerily just one day after the Undertaker returned, his long time manager Paul Bearer passed away at 58 years young. From everything I had read and seen he was a very normal man for leading such an abnormal life. He seemed like a guy I might enjoy having a beer and watching some hockey with. Rest in peace Bill Moody.

The question from the WWE’s perspective is now how do you handle it? More specifically, do you make it part of the story between Punk and the Undertaker? It wouldn’t be totally unexpected after Punk mocked Jerry Lawler’s heart attack in November, but that was after Lawler had returned to work. This is different. Moody isn’t with us anymore. But, it’s certainly possible that there is a feeling, like with Lawler, that Moody would want the show to go on and that he would in fact be honored to be brought into things this way. I have no idea if they will do it, and I’m pretty sure they shouldn’t (if they did it would have to be perfect), but you have to believe they have thought about it.

William Moody: 1954 - 2013

William Moody: 1954 – 2013

Tonight’s show opens with a montage and tribute to Paul Bearer. After the video the Undertaker’s music hits. Taker comes out to the ring and raises his arms, only instead of turning on all the lights it only turns a spotlight on to an urn sitting on a table in the middle of the ring. The Undertaker kneels next to it, just like he did for all those years when Moody held it, paying tribute. Just when you thought it was going to end, guess what? CM Punk’s music comes out and he spoils the party. You have to give it to him, he’s got balls. Punk says he wants to personally give the Undertaker his condolences for his loss…at WrestleMania! He says it’s a shame that to Paul Bearer he will always be perfect, but to everyone else he will be 20-1. He says that after WrestleMania everyone will ask where they were when CM Punk beat the streak. Very split crowd reaction. Before Punk can head back, fire erupts from the stage and Kane comes out. Furious over Punk spoiling a tribute to his dad (remember that?), he grabs him by the throat and looks to choke slam him off the stage. Punk escapes however and runs off, with Kane in hot pursuit. I know people will attack Punk and the WWE for mocking a man who passed away, but this is the exact emotion they want to get out of the fan base. There is a weird line that pro wrestlers walk where they have to be that character all the time. No other actor has to do that. In that way I feel like CM Punk is paying his respect the only way he can. He can’t go out there and give the Undertaker a hug, but he can go and talk smack about him. It’s kind of like being in a roast. You make fun of those you love.

The first match of the night puts the Big Show against Seth Rollins, making him the first member the Shield to compete in singles action. Big Show has been getting attacked by the Shield which now automatically makes him a face, even though he isn’t acting like it yet. Big Show dominates early, throwing Rollins out of the ring into Ambrose and attacking Reigns. Outside the ring the three Shield members attack Show, ending the match via DQ. They hold Show down but the Big Show powers his way out of it. Show was about to chokeslam Rollins when he got speared by Reigns. They beat him down and hit the big man with the triple power bomb. Wasn’t sure they would be able to pull it off but it looked pretty good.

Backstage again, CM Punk is is barking at Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox about what Kane did to him. Punk said his beef is with the Undertaker and he shouldn’t need his brother to fight his battles for him. Vickie decides to put Punk in a no DQ match with Kane.

Back in the ring, Daniel Bryan is facing Dolph Ziggler (and his entourage). This can also be referred to as the World Heavyweight Championship match that I was hoping for at WrestleMania. Instead it’s mid card on Raw. They whole reason they are fighting is because Ricardo Rodriguez threw a bucket of water at AJ and Bryan made fun of her. So now Dolph has to defend her woman. Ziggler has to win tonight right? Bryan can absorb the loss and Ziggler desperately needs a win. Ideally without help but I’ll take what I can get. He needs to get some sort of momentum going into WrestleMania. If Ryback is going to face Mark Henry, Ziggler’s opponent seems likely to be Chris Jericho. That’ll work.

Match of the night

Match of the night (obviously)

They start of with some mat wrestling early, ending with Bryan applying the mexican surfboard before Dolph responds with a standing dropkick. As Bryan starts to regain momentum with a flurry of kicks, Michael Cole reminded us that Ziggler has until July to cash in his MITB briefcase. Could to know, but I’m still putting my money on WrestleMania. Bryan tossed Dolph over the top rope, but Daniel was stopped from running out to continue the attack when Big E jumped on the apron to get in his way. Ziggler then took control, applying an extending head stand chin lock before Bryan caught Ziggler attempting a drop kick, hurling him into the corner. Bryan then back flipped over Dolph in the corner, and hit a jumping clothesline. Dolph got a boot up as Bryan ran in to attack him, but Daniel applied a sunset flip. Ziggler tried to roll over and get a pin attempt of his own, but Bryan fell to the side and the spot was botched. Back in the corner, Ziggler was putting Bryan up on the turnbuckle but Daniel knocked him down. Bryan then attempted a side suplex from the top rope, but Dolph moved to his side to splash Bryan down on the mat. Dolph then landed a fame-asser to end another fast sequence but could only get a two count. This match is everything I wanted it to be. Bryan then started to apply the NO Lock but AJ distracted the ref so that Big E can pull Dolph toward the rope to break the hold. Bryan went after Big E and Dolph tried to take advantage of the distraction with a roll up pin. Bryan got out on two and went to apply the NO Lock again but Dolph wiggled out. Ziggler then ducked under a roundhouse kick, nailed the Zig Zag and finally pinned Bryan for a victory. Fantastic match. These guys needs to be on the card for a PPV soon. Afterwards, AJ had Langston attack Bryan, hitting him with the whatever you call it. Curious if this goes anywhere.

How else do you follow a great match than with Brodus Clay and Sweet T (Tensai) dancing away. Tensai is in solo action against Fandango, and Clay had Brodus pull off his tear away pants to end the entrance routine. The funny part is that Tensai was wearing regular pants under his breakaway pants. Fandango only come to the stage after Tensai called him out, and he said that Tensai didn’t get his name right, and that Tensai and Brodus are abominations to dance. Fandango says he’ll only come out if Naomi says his name. He seems to have the hots for her, saying she is the only one of them with real rhythm. She was about to try when Tensai get grabbed the mic to call him out again. Fandango then cut him off, saying Tensai cost everyone their chance to see “FAHN-DAHN-GO.” In reality, we were saved from a crappy match.

Now to a real match, as the Rhodes Scholars reunite once again to face the New Age Outlaws. Two matches in two weeks for them? Are they just on the roster now? Meanwhile I’m hoping that the Rhodes Scholars break up amicably every week, only to make a big deal out of reuniting the next week. If there was ever a pair of guys to pull that off, it’s Rhodes and Sandow. Sandow and Rhodes come out first and do a grammatically correct version of the NAO’s entrance. Absolutely awesome. I love Sandow. Of course Gunn and Road Dogg come out next and to it their way to a big pop, and in honor of Bearer (Mercy mercy, this one’s for you Percy), but you can’t deny how great the Rhodes Scholars version was. Road Dogg gets his dancing in to deliver a punch to Cody, but Sandow jumps in to distract him and Cody lands a distaster kick. Before the match can go any further Brock Lesnar comes out with Paul Heyman. Lesnar hits F-5’s on both members of the New Age Outlaws and Paul Heyman grabs the microphone. Heyman says that while Triple H says the game is on, Brock Lesnar doesn’t play games. Brock Lesnar hurts people. He goes through Lesnar breaking Shawn Michaels’ arm, Vince McMahon’s hip, and now dismantling the New Age Outlaws. Finally, Heyman gets to the point, proclaiming that Brock Lesnar will face Triple H at WrestleMania, but only if they can name the match stipulation. The catch is that Triple H has to sign the contract before knowing the stipulation. Good stuff. Heyman has had to hold himself back so much with CM Punk, that now that he’s doing all the talking for Lesnar he is on fire. He finishes up by mocking the New Age Outlaws, saying that “If you’re not down with that. I’ve got two words for you. BROCK LESNAR.” The smart money says Hell in a Cell, but I can see them getting creative with it here. First blood? I quit?

Using those Brock Lesnar appearances carefully

Using those Brock Lesnar appearances carefully

Potential squash match time with Kofi Kingston being fed to Mark Henry. Henry’s beef with Ryback continues to gain steam on Smackdown, although the only thing they do is stare at each other. It’s possible they just love each other. Anyway the match was basically over before it started. Henry tossed Kofi around before landing a big boot in Kofi’s face, sending Kingston out of the ring. Hold on a minute, Henry went to run over Kofi outside the ring but Kingston moved and Henry went into the post. Kingston then hit a one handed leaping chop off the steps to take Mark down. Back in the ring however, Kofi went for a cross body splash off the top rope but Henry caught him in the air and landed the World’s Strongest Slam for the win. Henry is being booked very well.

Backstage Cody Rhodes is flirting with Kaitlyn, and she’s digging it when Sandow comes by saying that he found the perfect women for the ladies division. He then reintroduced the Bella twins who were apparently reinstated. I didn’t miss them for a minute but whatever. Vickie Guerrero then came by and informed them that since their match got cut short, the Rhodes Scholars will now face Randy Orton and Sheamus. Sure, because that always happens when a match gets cut short. Meanwhile, Cody just got totally cock blocked by Sandow. That’s not what best friends do, bro.

Guess what is "THIS BIG"

Guess what is “THIS BIG”

Keeping the feud going, Mark Henry is standing on the stage as Ryback squashes Heath Slater. Gorilla press slam, meat hook clothesline and a Shell Shocked give Ryback the win. Drew McIntyre then comes in to attack Ryback for some reason, and gets a shell shock as well. Mark Henry then comes in and hits Drew with the WSS to show Ryback up. Ryback then hits Drew with Shell Shocked again, and Henry hits the WSS again. The two of them stare each other down again before Henry backs out of the ring. Just make out already and be done with it. Drew McIntyre should be happy at the end of this though. It’s the most attention he’s gotten in a while.

After a trailer for “The Call” starring Halle Berry, United States Champion Antonio Cesaro is taking on World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger have to be going nuts right now. Swagger should definitely come out and interfere here. Cesaro hits a hurricarana on Del Rio only to be countered with a cross body splash from the top rope. Alberto when to the top again but Antonio took Del Rio’s leg out from under him, bringing him back to the mat. From there Cesaro controlled the middle of the match, with chin locks and elbow drops. Eventually Del Rio came back, hitting Antonio with a super kick to the chin (while Cesaro was on his knees, I think it should be called a side kick instead). Del Rio brought Cesaro down for a back breaker and a two count. Alberto then went to the top rope again for a  double axe handle but Antonio hit him with an upper cut. Del Rio then avoided whatever move Cesaro was going for, applied the cross arm breaker and Cesaro immediately tapped out to end the match. No problems with the match except for the fact that Swagger and Colter never came out. Big missed opportunity there. Although it would have planted seeds toward a Cesaro face turn and there is no way that’s happening. It’s a very weird situation having a foreign US and World Heavyweight Champ, and a heel that hates foreigners.

Backstage, Josh Matthews is talking to Kane about his match with Punk. Kane is holding Paul Bearer’s urn. He stares at it, looks pissed, and walks away. It’s kind of easy to forget how much of a force Kane was in his prime now that he’s joking it up with Bryan. It’s good that they separated the two of them for this angle with Punk.

The Rhodes Scholars sadly do not do the New Age Outlaws intro again as they prepare to face Sheamus and Randy Orton.  What’s really weird is that Orton came out first. Then the Rhodes Scholars came out during the commercial so that Sheamus can make his entrance on TV like Randy. What kind of team comes individually out in between the other team? Orton and Sandow start off with Orton controlling things with a suplex before tagging Sheamus in to hit Damien with a battering ram. Sandow then pushes Sheamus into his corner in order to tag in Rhodes who does no better. The tide starts to turn when Sandow lowers the rope on Sheamus to get him to the outside. The Rhodes Scholars then keep Sheamus away from his corner and wear him out. Sheamus eventually gets Orton in on a hot tag and hits Rhodes with a power slam and a belly to belly suplex. Orton goes for the second rope DDT but Sandow pulls Cody down to save him. Orton comes out to attack both of them and Cody throws Orton into the steel post. Back in the ring, the Rhodes Scholars are controlling things again, essentially repeating the spot from earlier with Sheamus now waiting for the hot tag. Sure enough, Orton knocks Rhodes down from the top rope and lands a superplex, giving him the chance to tag in Sheamus on a hot tag. Sheamus now gets his signature moves in on Sandow, and by the looks of things he’s been told to hurry up because he is going through the moves really fast. Sheamus lands White Noise and teases the Brogue Kick when Cody Rhodes comes in to help. Sheamus moves away and Orton hits Cody with an RKO, giving Sheamus the chance to hit Sandow with a Brogue Kick and win the match. I can’t think of a tag match that better showcased the two individuals on one team better. During the commercial after the match, the Shield attacked Orton and Sheamus on the way up the ramp. Rollins hit Orton with a leaping knee from the stage and Reigns speared Sheamus. It’s only a matter of time before Big Show hooks up with them and this match becomes official.

Back from touring with Fozzy, Chris Jericho is out for another edition of the Highlight Reel. After asking if his lite up jacket was working and showing a clip from “The Marine 3,” Jericho called out his first guest the Miz. That’s two movie promotions so far, and we haven’t gotten to Wade Barrett yet. Jericho congratulates Miz on the sales numbers of his movie and wouldn’t ya know it, Wade Barrett comes out to talk about “Dead Man Down.” He shows a clip from his movie, a clip that he isn’t in, and Miz makes fun of how much he talks about this damn movie by doing a poor British accent. Barrett says that the accent shows how little range Miz has as an actor, while Wade has been turning down movie offers left and right because he is too busy being Intercontinental Champion. Miz believes Barrett keeps brining up his movie to distract us from the fact that he hasn’t won a match in weeks and will eventually lose his belt. Jericho must have gotten bored because for some reason he decided to jump in, mocking Miz’s “really” line by saying it like Ace Ventura. Cole can’t help but mention how bad it is. Wade tells Jericho to keep out of this before he drops him right now, prompting Jericho to remove his jacket and tell Barrett that despite helping bring him into the WWE through NXT and is a two time IC Champ, Jericho is a nine time IC champ. Jericho says that maybe he’ll make it ten (ooooooh). This brings Brad Maddox out to introduce himself and Michael Cole says this may be the worst segment in the history of Raw. Hard to argue him right now. Maddox is just stammering through his bit, and the crowd is gone. Eventually he manages to say that Miz and Jericho will fight now, with the winner facing Barrett next week for the Intercontinental Championship. Brad tells the crew to remove Jericho’s set, but Jericho casually informs him that it was removed at the beginning of the segment. Train wreck.

Jericho came back to do this?

Jericho came back to do this?

Barrett sits at the announce table for the match, which starts the two men trading blows. Jericho gets a boot up on Miz running in the corner, Miz counters the bulldog by pushing Jericho into the other corner. Jericho then avoids getting thrown out of the ring to hit a double axe handle from the top rope, only for Miz to land a big boot for a two count. Fast pace in a match that seems very improvised. Jericho finally lands the running bulldog but Miz gets his knees up to block the lionsault. Jericho then blocks the Miz’s jumping clothesline in the corner and tries to apply the Walls of Jericho. Miz wiggles out of it and tries to apply the figure four leglock but Jericho escapes and again goes for the Walls but Miz turns it into a small package for a two count, with Jericho still holding on to Miz’s legs and finally applying a Boston Crab. This is a good match to teach someone about the fundamentals of pro wrestling with. Miz eventually makes it to the rope to break the hold, and heads out of the ring to recuperate. Jericho pursues and accidentally(?) throws Miz into Barrett. Jericho then continues working on Miz when Barrett gets up and attacks him. Wade then goes after Miz but Miz knocks him into the apron as Jericho hits him with a baseball slide. Miz and Jericho then throw him back into the ring, hitting Barrett with a Skull Crushing Finale and Code Breaker respectively to end the segment. During the commercial it was revealed that since the match ended in a DQ, Barrett with now face Miz and Jericho in a triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship. Coulda seen that one coming.

Jack Swagger takes on one of the WWE’s other mexicans, Sin Cara. Sadly with rumors of Rey Mysterio retiring due to all the injuries, we aren’t far from Sin Cara being the only luchador in the WWE. Before the match Zeb Colter says he has a chip on his shoulder, specifically with Sin Cara who does not know the United States native language but was welcomed to the country. He says the people only cheer for him because they are programmed to, noting that he jumps around like a mexican jumping bean. Zeb calls Sin Cara thief because every night there is a Sin Cara sneaking across the border trying to take jobs from American’s, and it’s the people’s fault because they are afraid to say something about it. Zeb and Swagger aren’t afraid and will say it for you. Zeb then critiques Del Rio for saying he was born in Mexico and made in America. Anyway they eventually had a match and Sin Cara controlled things early, hitting a cross body splash from the top rope to the outside of the ring. This drove Swagger nuts, kicking the announce table and steps. Swagger then blocked a hurricarana but Sin Cara swung around the other way to attempt a roll up pin, only Jack blocked that as well. Swagger then tried whipping Sin Cara into the corner but Cara jumped over the top rope onto the apron and delivered a kick to Jack’s face. Sin Cara then went for another top rope splash but Swagger met him with a big boot to the mid section and started working on the ankle. He locks it in and Sin Cara quickly taps to end the match. Swagger doesn’t let go of the lock however until Del Rio comes in to save him. Eventually Del Rio locks in the arm breaker but Zeb Colter pulls Swagger away before any harm can be done. You could have sold the match on having the ankle lock versus the arm breaker. Oh well.

Meanwhile it looks like Ryback will face Mark Henry on Smackdown. I wonder if that means they won’t square off at WrestleMania.

All-time heel

All-time heel

Main event time as CM Punk takes on Kane in a no disqualification match. I wish they would just call it a hardcore match every once in a while. Kane comes to the ring holding Paul Bearer’s urn. Cole has to explain what the urn means, making me feel really old that it is necessary. Punk wastes no time, leaping through the ropes at Kane on the outside. I wonder if they will make mention of the feud they had with Daniel Bryan and AJ. Punk continues with a flurry of knees before Kane lands a few punches and throws Punk into the ringpost and dropping him on the barricade. Kane then clears the announce table but Punk strikes Kane in the stomach with the ring bell and hits a double axe handle that takes Punk toward the urn. He stares at it for a moment until Kane hits him in the head with a tv monitor. Finally the two men get in the ring and it kind of looks like a real match is taking place. Kane sets up for a superplex but Punk pushes him down and hits the flying elbow from the top rope for a two count. Punk works Kane into the corner and hits two high knees, but Kane blocks the bulldog and throws Punk out of the ring. Back from break, Punk props a chair between the turnbuckles but Kane reverses the irish whip and sends Punk into the chair head first. Kane then hits a sidewalk slam and clotheslines Punk out of the ring. Kane then starts tossing all the steel chairs he can find into the ring. He is about to chokeslam Punk into one of the chairs but Punk grabs Kane’s head and DDT’s him into the chair instead. Punk then starts attacking Kane with a chair, eventually mocking Undertaker’s hand across the throat taunt before Kane grabbed Punk by the throat. Punk landed a roundhouse kick however, maintaining control. Punk calls for the GTS when the Undertaker’s bell sounds. Punk immediately turns around, giving Kane the opportunity to deliver a chokeslam and win the match.

Afterwards the Undertaker’s music continues and the Undertaker does come to the stage, taking a knee while Kane does the same to pay respect to William Moody. Punk again interferes in the tribute, attacking Kane from behind with the urn! Punk continues to beat Kane with it until the Undertaker gets in the ring. Punk retreats with urn still in hand, stopping at the stage to take a knee and mock the Undertaker some more. Undertaker gives the slit throat sign and looks pissed as the show ends.

I’m not sure what they would have done if Moody had not died, but I doubt it would have been nearly as effective at creating instant heat between Punk and the Undertaker. After the last four years have been all about how much respect the have for the Undertaker, I really appreciate somebody stepping up and just pissing him off. Especially when it is someone as good as CM Punk. People may not agree with it, but it’s creating a whole new reason for the Undertaker to wrestle besides just keeping the streak going. Now if they can just make Punk seem like he actually has a chance against him instead of losing most of the time.