Smack of the Week (29/10/2010): Edge Has the Edge

Kane tried to give his brother a proper burial this week

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I’m pretty busy tonight for various reasons, so this one will have to be a quickie!

I liked the funeral segment. Though it wasn’t explicit, it had a tone of respect towards the vanquished Undertaker, though it was outwardly mocking towards the fans that believe in his ‘phenomenal’ powers. As for all the run-ins (from Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio and Edge), that was a good way to present the problem of a #1 contender.

Our first match was Dolph Ziggler again taking on Daniel Bryan. Don’t get me wrong, these guys have had some fantastic matches over the last week (this one being no different), but as i’ve said in the past, I hate these brand crossovers. It cheapens the brand extension. Saying that, I am now starting to get the feeling that this is all heading towards the unification of the IC and US championships, in which case, it would make sense. If it isn’t though, this needs to be the last time it happens. Bryan has one three in a row now, and the time has come where they can’t simply continuously face each other. Leave it as it is, and if the two cross paths again in the future ther’ll be some good foundational history between the two to rebuild a programme. As I say though, what a match! These two both work together so well and have great grappling chemistry. Ziggler can more than hold his own, and the way he lost (via innocent distraction) this week makes clear that he is on Bryan’s level, at least in kayfabe.

The next match featured another NXT stand-out (remember when they didn’t just take the piss out of that show) as Kaval took on former World Heavyweight Champion, Jack Swagger. Kaval, as ever, was all over the ring and added a nice counter-point to the more methodical Swagger. Probably more than ever before was really game in this match and looked like he really could have got the win, even hitting a reduced version of his Warrior’s Way finisher for a close near-fall. Kaval was so impressive that Swagger was forced to think outside the ring, and weakened Kaval’s ankle on the ring post and in other ways before locking in his Ankle Lock for the win. This was by no means a burial, and there are clearly plans for Kaval, for which there is a lot of leway. He’s a spirited competitor who performs on a level with whoever he’s wrestled, but has never been able to come out on top. Maybe his frustration will brew to a heel-turn, or maybe his run is being used to garner support behind him. It remains to be seen.

I was worried when the divas came out for a costume competition. After the guys have been going around wrestling without halloween costumes, it seemed a little demeaning to just have a divas costume contest. It still probably was a little, but thankfully they were there to wrestle a match. Big tag matches are always hard to pull off well, but they did a good enough job, with Kelly Kelly getting the victory. I like her finisher, but she’s still not anywhere near ready for a title shot, so I hope that’s not what is being suggested by the victory.

I admit to having no time for Big Show at the minute. I’ve seen enough of his besmiled giant dominations. There’s just very little to him at the minute. Seeing Drew and Cody remain together before the match was heartening to me and the tag division, but it turns out that wasn’t to last too long. The match was ok, but didn’t stand out. There was a nice story at the end though where Drew (after being saved from Show by Cody), didn’t return the favour and allowed Cody to receive a Chokeslam and be pinned. After the match came the innevitable confrontation and the split of the former tag champions. Another tag team down, and one that was just starting to gain in chemistry and momentum. God knows where the next pairing will come from. However, I think it was the right move for these two. They are both among the top up-and-comers in the company and need to continue to make a name for themselves as singles competitors to take them to the next level. This could maybe even occur in a programme against each other, though I don’t think either of them are ready to turn face at the minute.

Our main event was a triple threat match between Edge, Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio to become #1 contender. This one started off slow, and was good but forgettable; towards it’s end though, it picked up in pace and excitement. We had a lot of good triple-threat set pieces, like Edge hitting a Sunset-Flip on Del Rio while he was holding Rey to trigger a German Suplex, among other things. The ending was good also, as Rey had both men in 619 position, and deciding – understandably – to attack Del Rio, was caught by Alberto and swept up in to the Electric Chair position before Edge Speared Del Rio, triggering an Electric Chair Drop on Rey, making him unable to stop Edge pinning Del Rio for the victory.

Kane came out to try to intimidate Edge, hitting his ring pyro to show his power. Indeed, with ‘taker out of the way, I see Kane fronting a reign of terror on the Blue Brand.

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RAW Recall (25/10/2010): Will Cena’s Freedom Ring at the Expense of Orton?

Barrett makes Cena 'an offer he can't refuse'

 

This week’s RAW started with the newly titled Nexus in the ring. Barrett sold Bragging Rights as a success, but new Tag Team Champion David Otunga raised doubts about John Cena’s teamwork. Barrett agreed, and set up (I suppose speaking for the champions who can defend whenever they want) a WWE Tag Team Championship match against the remaining members of Nexus. Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater. He was obviously not going to let them fight though, and he said one of the champs would have to lie down. Everyone naturally presumed he’d ask Cena to do the unthinkable and lie down for Nexus, but instead he asked Otunga to do it. Now he didn’t need to do that, and in doing so denied the audience an iconic moment. I suppose management thought it might be a bit over-the-top. Also, it was a way to show Barrett’s absolute power. Otunga questioned him and was punished. Also, just seeing Cena having to watch on as he voluntarily gave up a championship is startling. I wonder now if Drew and Cody will get a rematch?

I didn’t like the crossover between brands, but after their awesome match at Bragging Rights, the prospect of seeing Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan lock horns again was mouth-watering. In comparison to Bragging Rights, this was more of a catch-as-catch-can affair, with lots of nibbling attempts at takedowns and holds, and quality-wise, it was very good. A highlight for me was when Bryan went for a Hurricanrana only for Dolph to reverse it in to a Sunset Flip! Now i’ve never seen that! I was pleased to see Bryan getting himself over again. Last night was perhaps even more impressibe (in that regard) than Bragging Rights as his entrance on RAW garnered no reaction really, but by the end of the match, the fans were really in to it. Management will be watching, and seeing that this guy can draw! As I say, I hate that a Smackdown guy appeared on RAW with no real jurisdiction, but if Ziggler was on RAW (or vise-versa), i’d love to see a programme between the two! Someone that is on Bryan’s brand though is CM Punk, and my my the possibility of a programme between him and Bryan will leave fans salivating, and indeed, I have no doubt that this is the plan. Punk applauded Bryan’s victory, and I half expected him to attack the American Dragon, but I have noticed that, as of late, Punk has been displaying face-like tendencies (humour, team-spirit), so this may be going down the road of friendly but heated competition, which I think is the right atmosphere for this sort of feud between two such gifted wrestlers.

All i’ll say about the divas match is that I don’t understand why it was booked like that. It seemed pointless, not to mention it was a travesty that Gail Kim was left to linger on the apron! There is a possibility that her appearance could be a green shoot of a title challenge, but I don’t really think so, and more’s the pity. She deserves much better!

Miz cut a recognisably good promo following this, in which he appeared to challenge Rey Mysterio to a match on RAW. Again, I am not happy about that. The brand-extension is needed, and if you have it, you can’t cheapen it by unsanctioned cross-overs! Surprisingly, Miz was then tackled by, of all people, Eve. I must say as well, Eve is a great talker. It’s just damning of the WWE’s treatment of female wrestling sometimes that we’re not more used to her on the mic. Then R-Truth came out to defend her and take on Miz in a match that was pretty good, but nothing really note-worthy. Truth’s energy gelled well with Miz’s brutish style, and in the end the MITB holder went over relatively clean (though the final Skull-Crushing Finale was quite sloppy).

Santino’s match with Sheamus was just a way to set up a deeper feud between the Celtic Warrior and John Morrison. No need to worry about Sheamus being misused. The match was an angle and nothing more. There early matches have been good, and this bodes well for both guys – obviously Morrison especially, but it also means that Sheamus wont be getting lost in the shuffle and ending up actually feuding with Santino.

It was an infinitely good move to bring in Husky Harris and Mike McGillicutty to the Nexus. They again look like a genuine, threatening swarm (they did before, but the numbers were starting to dwindle). What I was also very excited to hear was their talk of their actions against the Undertaker. I worried they would brush the incident off, saying something pithy like “we did it because we could.” Instead, now it is undeniable that they have a future with Undertaker and Smackdown, and that adds a very interesting nuance to their story. (I know I said I hated cross-overs, but it would make sense in the case of the Nexus virus, so to speak, in whose very nature it is to behave without sanction). Anyway, the winner of the main event would determine who would be special guest referee at the Barrett-Orton title match at Survivor Series. These two obviously know each other extremely well, and they have a lot of chemistry in the ring. That helped them to a good match though not a great one (I think it’s still too soon since their mega feud of last year to create a unique emotional reaction). The story of the match was Barrett trying to help Cena win dishonourably, and Cena refusing his help. Barrett, however, is one of the more calculating superstars there is, and decided to help Cena help himself, as it were. I like circularity and mirroring in wrestling, and this example of it was very blatant. Like at Bragging Rights, when Cena attacked Barrett to help him win by DQ, Barrett dished out the same treatment to Cena, partly by way of punishment, and obviously to ensure he could choose his special guest referee for Survivor Series, which he did, picking Cena himself. He also added the caveats that, should Barrett not win the WWE Championship, Cena will be fired, but even more of a carrot to Cena, should he win the title, Cena is released from his Nexus obligations. At this, Cena (who has acted this storyline superbly) fell to his knees (though not too melodramatically) in relief, that is, before he looked over to Orton, who was still in the ring, witnessing the plotting of his demise right in front of him. And therein is the story of the Survivor Series match. Will Cena again act selfishly against Orton?, and if he does, how far will he go? The result of the match seems very predictable. Cena will help Barrett win the title and deal with the fallout later. However, it seems too obvious. I’ll save the detail of this instinct for the preview of Survivor Series, but I now think that Cena will not only help Barrett win, but he will turn heel for real at Survivor Series. That’ll put some asses in the seats!

Bragging Rights Results and Review, 2010: Cena Gets His Way

Cena explains to Barrett why beating up the Nexus is a good idea ...

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Right, a lot of people have come away from the PPV  a little … flat. I don’t blame them, because I did too to a certain extent, but i’ll explain that when I review the individual matches that lest that impression. After the brilliant Night of Champions and Hell in a Cell PPVs though, this was certainly something of a disappointment.

Match 1: Daniel Bryan def. Dolph Ziggler
This was the first match of the night as well as the wildcard to a certain extent, simply because of how alien Dolph and Daniel have been in their career paths to date. However, this was undoubtedly the match of the night. It’s easy to forget (given his ‘perfection’ persona) that Ziggler is an accomplished collegic amateur wrestler and certainly a match to the naturally gifted Daniel Bryan. Given how little they presumably know about each other, it is understandable that the match started out tentatively, with the two guys feeling each other out, but even this was high in quality. As the match grew, so did the performances, and the aggressiveness was also turned up. This started with Bryan’s brutal buzzsaw style kicks to Dolph (which i’m sure included one or two ‘potatoes’) and advanced to Ziggler’s death-defying reversal of Bryan’s attempted big back body drop in to a mid-air cross body, which drew ‘this is awesome’ chants, and then to that horrific mid-air collision as both attempted another cross-body. The announcers suggested they may both have broken ribs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did! Bryan’s ‘heart’ started to frustrate the hot-headed Ziggler who was caught off-guard with the LaBelle Lock and was forced to tap. I was pleased to see Bryan get such a positive reaction from a crowd that isn’t his home town. It’s that sort of fan-backing he’ll need to achieve a deserved main-event spot, and as for Ziggler, it gets harder and harder to deny that the guy could be a future world champion.

Match 2: David Otunga and John Cena (Nexus) def. Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre for the WWE Tag Team Championships
This was one match I doubt anyone was expecting to see. During their promo, incidentally, I noticed that Drew McIntyre had really been working on his mic work. It was never bad, but it’s certainly improved even more. Anyway, the prospect of Nexus going after the tag team championships was very exciting to me; given that i’d predicted a Barrett victory, I foresaw Nexus on RAW tonight holding three belts and genuinely being conquerors of WWE. The match itself was pretty good, but nothing special – though, to be fair, the quality of this match would only  be judged by the result and it’s consequences. There was a nice in-ring story with Otunga trying to take the glory from Cena who was basically doing all of the work, pepped up by his being let of the leash to wrestle heels. When the Nexus pair won, I thought Otunga was going to hog the belts (which would have been pretty good I suppose, though I didn’t want to see it). In the end it was Cena who left with both belts, representing a nice bit of self-assertion in-between all the cruelty and exploitation he’s suffered. As for Drew and Cody, I have no idea what will happen to them, but there are actually almost endless possibilities which I wont bother going in to. Needless to say they are both ‘big deals’ and will be moving on to something meaningful from this.

Match 3: Ted DiBiase w/ Maryse def. Goldust w/ Aksana
Now i’m more than happy to report that my prediction for this match was very wrong. I predicted a short intervening match between these two which probably wouldn’t be worth much, but instead, it was a serious match with some good time behind it. I was also pleased to see DiBiase get to talk seriously beforehand (something he’s rarely been able to do of late). Huge kudos to Goldie who is among the best in the ring, still. He had a very good match with DiBiase during which they both worked hard and with great fluidity and chemistry. That ultimate compliment to wrestlers can again be applied here: it just seemed completely natural and legitimate. Also, the match progressed their feud more than I expected, with the finish being down, in large part, to either man’s valets. After Maryse attacked Aksana, Goldie showed some genuine concern, only for DiBiase to attack him from behind and hit him with a low DDT for the win. After the match, Aksana seemed to be turning on Goldie, approaching DiBiase seductively with the Million Dollar Championship, but alas, it was just a rouse so Goldust could hit the Final Cut to DiBiase and keep the belt. This will probably lead to a rubber match at Survivor Series to determine the owner of the belt, or at least a match between the two, and it will be interesting to see if Maryse reacts to DiBiase being seemingly so willing to drop her in favour of Aksana and his championship.

Match 4: Layla def. Natalya to Retain the Divas Championship
I’ve really liked LayCool on the mic of late, and last night was no different. They are great at drawing heat, and really getting the fans to support the other competitor. This match was good. It was short, but not too short, and both Layla and Natalya performed very well in the ring. Obviously Natalya is a natural and supremely talented, and probably helped Layla to look good, but there is no question that Layla held up her end too. There were lots of well executed dropkicks and other moves, accomplished holds and grappling,and a few pretty tough bumps. Natalya was too much for the last Women’s Champion eventually, overpowering her and outwrestling her, persuading Layla that she should leave and fight another day. Interestingly, McCool questioned Layla’s decision to leave before Nattie dragged her back to the ring. While they were at the ropes though, Michelle took advantage of te distracted referee to hit Natalya with her Big Boot to hand Layla the victory. It’ll be interesting to see if Natalya stays in the title picture. I have a feeling she will as this feud is clearly well over, and looking at Natalya, if she does challenge for the title at Survivor Series, she would be a very credible next Divas Champion.

Now, up until this point we were having another excellent PPV in my view, and I had been very much looking forward to the two world title matches. Things were looking up. Unfortunately, there was a lot (though not uniformly so) of disappointment to come.

Match 5: Kane w/ Paul Bearer def. The Undertaker to Retain the World Heavyweight Championship
Undertaker is clearly pretty beaten up, and all of these gimmick matches have been good, not only because they fit the storyline so well, but because they allow ‘Taker to mask his inability to wrestle properly in his current condition. Understandably, this match was a brawl, but it was little more than that. There was a very long exchange when the two were trading punches, which is fine, but without much else to build on to it with, it’s a little uninspiring. I would also have liked to have seen Bearer play more of a role; rather than just watching ‘Taker choke his son out with the Hell’s Gate, why didn’t he pick up one of those shovels and threaten to hit ‘Taker with it. That would have made the Deadman turning to him with those piercing eyes and duping him in the cold soil, a bit more compelling. Nonetheless, this story lives and dies on the quality of the storyline and the intrigue, and the involvement of the Nexus, not as simple disruptors but actively trying to help Kane win, was very interesting and tantalising.  This must be the start of a tangent storyline. Dare I suggest that Nexus’s bigger plans (which they haven’t forgotten about judging by the Survivor Series advert) may be something to do with a ‘higher power’? Whatever their reasoning is, it is enough to save this match from poor reviews. If Nexus do extend that far, it is only good for both storylines (which, let’s not forget, started around the same time) as the deeper they go, the more compelling they are. Nexus involving themself in Smackdown issues only heightens how they should be considered a genuine threat to the industry.

Match 6: Team Smackdown (Edge & Rey Mysterio) def. Team RAW
The problem with this match is that no one cares about who wins. Why would they? Most people who watch one brand, surely watch the other too, and there is little reason for brand loyalty other than personal tastes. For a big elimination match, it was good though. But that’s really all there is to say about it. Ezekiel Jackson and Tyler Reks both didn’t impress enough for my liking. Smackdown won, and no one that wasn’t being paid to be there pretended to care. If they are going to keep up this concept, they have to do something to make the fans care. Again, I suggest making it so that the captain (or at least a member) of the losing team has to join the winning brand; maybe even merge it with the draft and put it after Wrestlemania. If this isn’t done, then the buyrate of this concept will continue to be low.

Match 7: Wade Barrett w/ John Cena def. Randy Orton via DQ
After Nexus won the tag titles earlier in the night, I was even more behind Barrett to take the WWE Championship last night, and this became even more probably when Barrett told Cena that he would be fired if he didn’t win. So much so that I thought it was a spoiler. The match was only ok really. I don’t know whether Barrett’s lack of experience was a factor or not, but it never really seemed to grow. Despite this, it was quite compelling as we, the audience thought that, at some point, Cena would have to impede Orton (even tripping him at the rope would have been amazing and surreal to see). This was never forthcoming though. There was a glimpse of it at best when Cena took out the Nexus members to stop Barrett from being disqualified (which Jerry Lawler rightly said he was disappointed in), and finally, when Cena crept in to the ring behind Orton, we all thought it was going to happen; Cena was going to turn on Orton! But no, he went straight past Orton and hit an Attitude Adjustment on Barrett … After a little bit of conclusion, it became clear what Cena had done; he knew Barrett had to win, but he didn’t want to have to attack Orton, so he attacked him so Barrett would win by DQ. This is by no means a ‘good deed’, at least in the world of wrestling, as Orton was about to RKO Barrett for the victory, but Cena robbed him not only of the victory, but his ability to defend his championship properly (a pretty bad thing to do to a face). So no doubt it was a morally questionable act from Cena, and actually quite selfish, and he ate an RKO for his trouble. The problem with all this though, is that it’s the sort of booking you expect on television. It’s more build-up than turning point/milestone. The main even of a PPV should bring some sort of significant change to a storyline or end it for good, but this did none of that, and provided the fans with a DQ finish to their main event, which is pretty unfulfilling. A pretty static match and pretty static storyline leaves everyone watching it come away feeling a little cheated, and this was almost certainly the most disappointing match of the night, in stark comparison to Hell in a Cell, when it was heart-wrenching. This storyline simply needs to progress at a quicker rate.

Overall, the PPV was split almost down the middle in terms of quality. The first half was excellent; the second half was mostly disappointing, with the notable exception of Nexus’s involvement in the World Heavyweight Championship match. I think what can be learned from this is that, as I say, PPV matches need to offer more than matches on TV do, and if they don’t, they’re going to be criticised, and rightly so. It also shows that we need fewer PPVs, even if only by two or three. I think one of the problems for Bragging Rights was that it was the third PPV in a month (or close enough) and consequently, the storylines just weren’t progressing quickly enough to fulfil big PPV twists. This isn’t the fault of the writers. It is only right that storylines progress at their own pace, though I would add that the Cena-Nexus story is moving too slowly at this point.

Bragging Rights Preview and Predictions, 2010

Bragging Rights from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sunday 24th October

I’ve already posted about what I believe the shortcomings of this PPV concept is (https://rtvwrestling.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/some-notes-on-bragging-rights-and-wwes-ppv-schedule/), but i’ll just say here that this is the only PPV on the WWE schedule where most people will barely care about a main event (referring to the Bragging Rights tag team match). I reiterate, the winning team needs to win more than a trophy and an abstract idea of ‘bragging rights’ to make it relevant. So far there have only been five matches announced, and it seems innevitable that there will be another ‘Smackdown vs RAW match’ booked for the show, if not two. There will almost certainly be a divas tag match, and in that i’d like to see (as Smackdown can only spare two more divas) just a divas tag match, so Gail Kim and Melina for RAW against Kelly Kelly and Rosa Mendes (not a great fit, but all that’s available unless WWE decide to call Tiffany back to television). As for another match, no particular ‘bragging rights’ style match-up stands out, though I think MVP is always deserving of a PPV appearance. Anyway:

Match 1) Daniel Bryan vs Dolph Ziggler
This is a very difficult match to predict, simply because both superstars are at a very similar position in the company (as their parallel titles suggests), both being potential future world champions that have recently won their respective upper-mid card titles and have a lot of momentum behind them. I think a lot of this depends on the other results (i.e. how it will affect each brand’s won/loss record on the night), and this is difficult to pressume upon without knowing the other results. Tentatively then, I think WWE probably feel they have to work more at getting Bryan over with the fans, and that Ziggler can take a loss better. Also, no doubt the Vickie Guerrero/Kaitlyn story will segway into it somehow, offering more opportunity for a calamatous loss and added heat to their complicated relationship. Predictions aside, I think this match has a lot of potential. Bryan and Ziggler are something of an odd couple, but this could make for an entertaining and unique match. Bryan will go over, but Ziggler will be made to look strong nontheless, and will quite possibly lose with the distraction of Kaitlyn trying to sway his attention from Vickie.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Match 2) Divas Championship Match: Layla (c) vs Natalya
I think Natalya is a very credible candidate to be the one to finally end LayCool’s monopoly of the divas championship. However, i’m not sure they’ll be losing the championship just yet. Whenever one of LayCool lose the championship, I have no doubt that will spell the beginning of a split for the duo, and since I don’t see that hapenning just yet, I see Layla retaining. Also, the sheer dominance of Natalya in the run up to the PPV would suggest, according to the wrestling textbook (so to speak), that Natalya’s luck will turn on Sunday.

Winner: Layla

UPDATE! Match 3) Goldust vs Ted DiBiase
Goldust just heavily hinted on twitter that he’d be taking on Ted DiBiase tonight, so i’d best preview and predict it’s outcome! Well, this is sensible booking in some ways. This is a pretty prominant feud right now and deserves PPV attention, I would rather be seeing anothe bragging rights style match (though I understand four of them does not make the required odd number for Bragging Rights. Whether or not this is for the Million Dollar Championship remains to be seen, but i’m expecting a short match which ends with Goldie keeping the belt (whether it’s on the line or not), maybe cut short by Nexus.

Winner: Goldust

Match 4) Divas Tag Team Match
I wont go in to any more detail about the match, if it takes place you can definately expect Kelly Kelly for Smackdown, as for RAW, they have more selection. Eve, Maryse, and Melina would be favourites, but i’d prefer to see Gail Kim. As for who would win: seen as I picked a RAW victory earlier, it only makes sense that Smackdown would even the score.

Winners: Smackdown Divas

Match 5) Buried Alive Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Kane (c) vs The Undertaker
I’m starting to realise how unpredictable this PPV is. Unlike other PPVs, there are no matches with an obvious winner. The result of this match will depend a lot on whether the ‘buried alive’ aspect will necessitate the loser to take some time out. My instinct tells me that it probably will, and for that reason, i’m backing Kane to again retain his championship. Not only does ‘Taker’s recent potency suggest his momentum will be stopped, but if anyone is to make a comeback, it will be ‘Taker rather than Kane as that would be a bit contrived. I can see Kane winning and claiming that he’s ‘vanquished’ his brother and continue to dominate the blue brand for a month or two until ‘Taker makes a big return around Wrestlemania season (either against Kane, or possibly rejuvinated against another competitor). All this in mind, i’m looking forward to seeing a buired alive match again. There’s definately a great spectacle to them!

Winner: Kane

Match 6) Bragging Rights Tag Team Elimination Match: Team Raw (Miz, Sheamus, CM Punk, John Morrison, R-Truth, Ezekiel Jackson & Santino Marella) vs Team Smackdown (Big Show, Jack Swagger, Edge, Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio, Kofi Kingston & Tyler Reks)
Initially I was sure Smackdown was going to win this match for the second year in a row, simply because of their re-launch on SyFy as a way to get the brand over more, and secondly because their team is clearly a little stronger. However, i’m starting to think, for a couple of reasons that RAW will take it this year. Firstly, with Smackdown employing their bragging rights to the extreme, and the Smackdown superstars doing so well of late, the RAW superstars have more to gain while a Smackdown retention would be a little disappointing. Plus, the RAW superstars arguably need the victory more. Miz, who needs to seem prominant as a MITB holder, Sheamus who needs to recover from losing the WWE Championship, CM Punk also needs a new impetus, while John Morrison could do with a good PPV performance to keep his push momentum going. I’m expecting the inter-brand rivalries from Smackdown (Edge-Swagger, Del Rio-Mysterio) to affect their performance, possibly with the heels attacking their antagonists or simply abandoning the team. Also, look out for Tyler Reks turning on his team. What a way to make a name for yourself!

Winners: RAW

Match 7) WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton (c) vs Wade Barrett w/ John Cena
This has the potential to be another showstopping, heart-stopping match with John Cena’s involvement being the incredibly interesting ‘x-factor’ in it all. What I am really begging to see is Cena help Barrett, and willingly. However, I think at this point at least, that is out-of-the-question. I expect Cena to help, but unwillingly, which in itself will be pretty special nonetheless as he would be furthering his commitment to Nexus. Indeed, I think Cena will, eventually,  help Barrett, and help him win. This isn’t perfect. I would have liked to have seen a longer Orton reign, but I think a Barrett win would be so shocking and incredible that it would be worth it. I expect a highly moving and emotionally charged match.

Winner: Wade Barrett

I’m looking forward mostly to the world title matches. I’m not too bothered about the tag matche(s), but Bryan-Ziggler also has potential.

Smack of the Week (22/10/2010): Undertaker Buries Kane Early

Right, i’m afraid this will have to be something of an abridged review because i’m really busy this weekend, not to mention having to cover Bragging Rights! (though previewing PPV’s is my favourite thing to do here).

Some quick words on the booking. I liked it mainly as we got some great prospects (especially Edge-Punk and Orton-Kane), but I wondered what the thought process behind not booking Tyler Reks was! Well, I can actually guess: they want to keep him mysterious, which makes sense I suppose, but I think they could have done that with more involvement. After all, this guy was an also-ran until last week. I might not have booked him in a match, but I would have dome something with him, specifically, a backstage incident where he could have attacked brutally Alex Riley after he had finished talking with Miz, taking him out. R-Truth’s criminal record mean that he is not welcome in Canada, which is why Riley had so much ring-time anyway, making him RAW’s seventh man for the week. Having Reks beat the holy hell out of Riley wouldn’t have adversely affected Bragging Right’s main event, while making Reks seem like an unknown and dangerous entity, without losing any of his in-ring mystique.

In some ways I would rather not have seen a tag match, with it being obviously similar to the Bragging Rights format, but it was alright given that it was a 6-man tag match. ‘Big Zeke’ needs a new finisher, partly because it’s the same as Otunga’s (though Jackson had it first) but not executed as well, and partly because it’s pretty lame. He needed to ‘dominate’ more. Big Show and Rey Mysterio had good chemistry as partners. Smackdown, consequently, won the match with a Chokeslam/Splash combination from the two to start a trend of Smackdown victories for the night.

Swagger had a decent enough match with Santino. It was as you might expect, flavoured by Swagger’s Soaring Eagle mascot and Hornswoggle. Nonetheless, Santino showed a glimpse of his wrestling capability in the match, performing a few take downs on Swagger and genuinely challenging him at times. The Cobra, however, fell victim to the All American American’s Ankle Lock.

Alberto Del Rio had one of the better matches of the night with John Morrison. These two are actually very similar in style (though Del Rio’s is perhaps more methodical). They both have high-flying capability and use the ring and the ropes as part of their offense a lot. They’re also both incredibly athletic and agile (even for wrestlers), and this all added up to a high octane match with a good finish as moves were countered and countered again until Del Rio hit his rolling cross armbar for the victory.

LayCool had one of their funniest ever segments attempting the classic send-up style segment, approaching the ring with Layla dressed as Natalya (plus Anvil beard) and Michelle dressed as Bret Hart. Layla’s impersonation of Natalya was hilarious in it’s ridiculousness while Michelle’s was funny because she actually impersonated The Hitman very well (and funnily!). The match was actually a tag match, though Kelly Kelly never got in the match. This is fine though, because it increased the heat in this rivalry without ruining the PPV match by just having it one-on-one. Natalya is one of the best female wrestlers there is, showing this again with her incredible double-underhook suplex (something she should use as a finisher I think), but Layla more than kept up with her, showing how much she’s improved as of late. Natalya took it, with Layla perhaps tapping out too easily to make her seem like an even more credible victor on Sunday.

The main event certainly did have an essence of rarity and prestige to it, especially with it being champion vs champion. I was left a tad disappointed by it. I didn’t like how both were going for their finishers early on, fo one thing. After that early flourish, it improved with Kane mostly in the ascendency, and Orton fighting for a foothold, and at this time there was lots of very good wrestling, so good, indeed, that it was bearly noticable. This is good, but there was nothing else ‘noticable’ really added in to make it stand out. The end came when Undertaker’s dark lights distracted Kane as he was about to Chokeslam Orton, allowing the Viper to hit an RKO for the win. For various reasons, I would rather have seen Kane win, partly to rejuvinate his power going in to the PPV, and on Orton’s end to legitimise a loss at Bragging Rights, or make a victory seem even more incredible.  Taker then emerged from the ring, ticking off another classic ‘Taker move, and dragged Kane under the ring to close the show. This is of course very apt imagery going in to a buried alive match, but I would have liked to have seen more of a brawl before Kane was subdued perhaps, just to make it seem like he was, literally, subdued.

RTV-WOW Stands Up for WWE, and Wrestling in General


WWE is not officially associated with Linda McMahon’s senatorial campaign in Connecticut, but nonetheless, I want to make it know that this post in no way endorses her or her campaign; it is exactly to stand up for WWE, as well as for the wrestling industry genrally (though perhaps less so for other companies). I must also say that I genuinely believe this has little if anything to do with Linda’s campaign, it may help, but for everything Vince McMahon is, he’s also a huge fan of professional wrestling and very proud of his empire, and I believe his main motive is simply to defend that.

However, Linda McMahon’s senatorial race has drawn a surprising amount of attention to WWE and the wrestling industry, and lots of it is undoubtedly disparaging. So in response, WWE have made this video, among a few others:

Propaganda? Certainly. Biased? Obviously. Nonetheless, despite the contrivance of the video, it did move me, because I related to it. What they say is true. It’s a unique, worldwide entertainment phenomenon. Professional Wrestling is one of the hugest pop-culture sensations of recent decades, and this means for many people, seeing the stars of the industry is a matter of right-of-passage. I could go in to it more, but all that needs to be said is that wrestling fans are arguably the most passionate and emotionally attached fans of anything there is. The admiration for wrestlers and what they do has no bounds.

WWE is a progressive company. It has moved back to a family friendly approach (which isn’t progressive in itself, but in an era of ultra extreme, blood soaked niches in wrestling, it is good that wrestling remains open to the young at a mainstream level), and I can believe how amazing it must be for a young person to witness this unbelievable, larger-than-life action with their family. There has also been a lot of criticism of McMahon for the (sometimes fatal) injuries superstars sustain. This is fair enough in a sense as any death is a tragedy, and the industry does seem to still have that poison of premature death in it. However, that’s certainly not WWE’s fault, and in fact, WWE lead the way in talent health issues with their groundbreaking (if imperfect) wellness programme. WWE does all it can to protect and help both former and current talent, and for that it must be applauded. This is something where other companies, like TNA, lag behind.

Also, WWE is wellknown for it’s community and charity work. I don’t like the war in Afghanistan, but I still think the WWE’s treatment of the troops is exemplary. Write or wrong, the troops themselves are putting their lives on the line, believing sincerely that this is helping protect their people. Not only this, but countless other charities and causes are helped with huge enthusiasm by WWE, most famously the make-a-wish foundation, but also others like the Wrestlemania reading challenge for kids, the ‘Smackdown Your Vote’ campaign, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and close to my heart, their promotion of Jenny McCarthy’s charities for Autism awareness , like at 2008’s Saturday Night’s Main Event (though she has made odd and unfounded claims about the causes of autism, her charities nontheless help families affected by the disorder). WWE doesn’t have to do this, and it gets nothing from it in business terms. It is philanthropy that again should be applauded.

The main thing is that, while the industry is by no means perfect, for fans of wrestling, it is a huge part of their lives. Indeed it is a unique lifestyle which involves large emotional involvement, be that connected to the WWE or otherwise. So to see Linda McMahon’s opponants and media outlets deriding it from a position of ignorance (as it clearly often is), with so little understanding of the WWE product, the industry and it’s conventions is incredibly disheartening to someone like me. I don’t mean to over-sentimentalise; WWE is a corporation and doesn’t necessarily need anyone to stand up for it, but especially given the hypocrisy of the criticism (politicians were more than happy to promote themselves on RAW for the 2008 election), I wanted to post this to defend a company and an industry that is dear to me.

NXT (19/10/2010): How Low Will They Take It?

The big talking point of this week was that first match between Kaitlyn and Maxine. The first half was probably just about passable, but the second half was a car crash plain and simple. I understand Kaitlyn hasn’t had the training Maxine has and Maxine has complained that she was having to carry Kaitlyn, and hence the poor quality of the match. However, it’s not as if it’s the first time one wrestler’s had to ‘carry’ another, so Maxine only gets so far off the hook. It just shows that WWE really needs to pay more than lip service to training these divas. I’m not saying they should stop hiring ‘attractive’ divas, but at least have them in FCW for a decent time before televising them. People like Eve and Layla have come on leaps and bounds under training and are now decent wrestlers, as well as ‘hot’. This put Kaitlyn way down in my estimation to be honest.

The name that body contest was irrelevant and i’d rather have seen another match.

At least the limbo challenge was somewhat athletic. I’ve said in the past, I like the challenges; I think they add an extra dimension to the show and help bring out more of the rookies’ character. This one, maybe not so much, but at least it was more relavent.

The main event was pretty good mostly. Maybe it was just in comparison to the earlier match, but Kelly Kelly and the Bellas seemed to have improved in the ring recently, using more moves and selling more believably. Naomi’s obviously a very athletic talent too, though I think her (in ring) storytelling is a little weak and her matches can be a little flat. She needs a finisher. I liked Nikki Bella going on her rampage in the match. It was well sold and made the bout more interesting. Perhaps a tentative storyline?

NXT is certainly an entertaining show in many respects, but is often, bafflingly, intentionally stupid or boring. This is something the announcers have obviously been told to sell too and I just don’t understand it! The concept was (and still could be) great, and from all accounts, WWE management love it. So why is it being treated this way? Maybe Tough Enough’s seemingly inevitably return can explain it. Maybe that show would tread on NXT’s toes, and with NXT not having a network, maybe it’s going to get cancelled after season 3, as Cole especially apparantly wants to see happen. Maybe their treatment of the concept is to make it seem like less of a loss when/if it is cancelled … But why can’t they just cancel it and send it off in style by making the competition fierce and producing a diva with lots of momentum around her, rather than surrounding it in ignominy? I give up speculating to be honest …

I think from now on, though i’ll still be watching it (despite its flaws, the diva delivered at the end of it will be very easy to get behind on the WWE roster), I’ll only post a review of it on nights when either there are particularly good matches (which there could be), something big happens (which it could do), or eliminations and the finale. This is simply because while I can critique matches and storylines, they are pretty thin this season, and I find myself repeating my confusion over the treatment of the show.