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The first match of the night this week was also the first qualifier for the RAW Bragging Rights team, and it saw R-Truth take on Ted DiBiase. Before talking about the match, what is this stuff with Eve doing her weird dance to Truth’s music. I think someone needs to call for Edge, let’s put it that way. At least Ted (who has been underutilised as of late) got to wrestle a good, competitive match. Indeed, this was a surprisingly good match. I suppose these two have had a fair few run-ins as of late, so their chemistry is not surprising. There were some good reversals, special move avoidance and near-falls, which made it a good, technical (for the most part) match. Usually, I would preferred to have seen DiBiase make the team, but he’s just getting started in his feud with Goldust, so it made sense to let Truth win. This did it in a way which didn’t make DiBiase look inferior to Truth either, so good job there. I would also like to add that that cool – dare I say Goldustian – dynamic between Goldust and Aksana is a really good way to bring him back to some sort of prominence too.
John Morrison vs Tyson Kidd, given their recent achievements, looked like a mouth-watering encounter. These two really are great high-flyers, and they gelled well at most points. I really liked, for instance, when Tyson reversed what was going to be some sort of Suicide Dive with a well-timed Buzzsaw Kick. The high-flying action was pretty relentless, with lots of innovation on both sides until, abruptly, Morrison hit that back-flip rock bottom move (does that have a name?!) for the win. Other than the abruptness of the end, it was a very good match. It seems like they’re going with the Hart Dynasty split – I wonder how the DH Smith ‘absence’ will relate to that. It’s hard to think of a way …
I like Santino and everything, and the stuff with Tamiina was pretty funny, but he shouldn’t be at Bragging Rights alongside people like Punk and Sheamus! A few months ago, Zack Ryder would have been just about a legitimate choice. Now Lord only knows where he’s at now … It wasn’t a terrible match, but it wasn’t much more. That’s all that needs to be said about that.
Orton-Gabriel had a lot of potential, and don’t get me wrong, it was mostly a good match. Gabriel seemed to handle the ‘smaller guy’ role pretty well, and he certainly pulled off a lot of good stuff in the ring. I did think though, that Gabriel seemed a bit slower, a bit less potent – perhaps because he was playing a ‘smaller guy’ role – but remember, he had a fantastic match with Cena a few weeks ago, who is nothing like small! Any good stuff was undermined also by that botched 450 Splash. I don’t think it was just Gabriel’s fault, but he did seem to jump an awful long way. A good enough match that slightly misfired.
Probably the best match of the night followed in Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan. I was relieved to see Bryan get a big reaction from his home-town crowd, and he seemed really stirred on by it. As soon as I heard about this match, it made last week’s one-sided beat-down seem less hurtful to the American Dragon. Indeed, he really took it to a cemented main-eventer in this match, something that can only be good for him. He was all over the ring, working as a great counter-balance to the power of Sheamus, using stealth to really hurt the Celtic Warrior at times. Sheamus, to his credit, sold Bryan’s attempted submissions really well as potential threats and showed that smaller guys can legitimately hang with bigger ones, especially when they’re Daniel Bryan. Sheamus won, which is understandable enough. It would be nice to see Bryan there instead of Santino, but there ya go …
CM Punk against Evan Bourne was yet another promising piece of booking, and this one mostly delivered. It was a very good match in technical terms, while still putting over CM Punk’s intensity, wanting to make an impact. The finish was simple, but inventive: Punk stopped Bourne from hitting his Shooting-Star Press before manipulating him in to GTS position for the win. The beat-down afterwards kept up that intensity, and Punk added a nice touch by saying ‘Nothing Personal’ while locking in the much yearned for Anaconda Vice. This was all to write Bourne off TV while he recovers from an injury, so no feud right now it seems. Then again, when Bourne returns, it would be very easy to have him go after Punk in a feud that would surely get over very easily and would produce great matches while being great for Bourne specifically.
Our main event saw Cena and Miz square off for the captaincy of team RAW. First question: why is Cena still coming out to his old music and not wearing a Nexus T-shirt? These touches (some might think them minor) would make a huge difference to the imagery and intensity of this storyline and the predicament Cena is in. Anyway. Cena has always been great for Miz and really helps him get over as a main eventer in his matches with him, and this was no different. Lots of good back-and-forth here, and even without the interference of Riley (and later Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty), Miz is getting to the point where he can fight on Cena’s level. My favourite part of the match saw both guys on the announce table. This is frequently a battleground in great fights between top stars, and seeing Miz up there with Cena really gave me that impression. A Skull-Crushing Finalé through the announce table would have really placed Miz up there as a credible champion, but while that didn’t quite work out, he still got the better of Cena up there. Later, Husky and McGillicutty charged the ring, hitting their finishers on Cena to help Miz win (or rather, Cena lose). It is clear now that these two will surely be joining the Nexus, as Wade Barrett surely wouldn’t want Cena in any other match but his own at Bragging Rights.
It was then announced that next week, Orton and Cena would face Harris and McGillicutty, to which Barrett added the caveat that should the former NXT rookies win, they would be inducted in to Nexus, and in asking Cena to do the right thing, was clearly asking Cena to help the other two – now essentially Nexus members – beat down Orton before Bragging Rights. I have no doubt that this is what Cena will do, and will be the best moment from this angle since Cena lost at Hell in a Cell. Cena beating down Orton will surely go down uniformally badly with the fans, and could be the first step to advancing this storyline (and a potential Cena heel-turn). At the minute, it seems WWE are still going down the road with Barrett abusing his power to really test Cena’s patience and honour. This is undoubtedly brilliant, as the exchange in the ring was genuinely emotionally engaging – the best moment being Barrett turning his back on Cena in a moment of complacent arrogance that is just another brilliant image from this storyline. Nontheless, I would like to see (and hope I do, though now it seems unlikely) Cena apparantly on the same page as Nexus, so to speak, and maybe enjoying the dominance they enjoy, even if it is only for a little while. Going the whole hog with a heel-tuen would be genuinely earth-shattering in terms of WWE (and wrestling as a whole). Nonetheless, this continues to germinate and engage, and Cena’s difficult role should create some very interesting moments in the weeks to come.