As I said last week, I wasn’t sure that this ‘old skool’ show would work well, but I actually think the theme worked very well as a one-time thing. It was great to see the current guys being portrayed in all of the old-skool graphics and alongside stalwarts like Howard Finkel and ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund without the veterans completely hampering the progression of current storylines.
The first match of the night was Dolph Ziggler against Mark Henry who was sporting his throwback ‘Sexual Chocolate’ gimmick, something which was rapturously received by myself and the audience. Mark Henry has never been one, largely due to his size, to put on great matches – which probably explains why he never frequented the main event, but this match was pretty good, with Ziggler running rings around Henry while Henry would intercept him with slams and shoulderblocks every so often. In other words, it was a very well played out small guy vs big guy match. Ziggler won, rightly, in the end though, to continue an impressive run.
Next up was a tag match between Justin Gabriel & Heath Slater and the troubled Hart Dynasty. Before the match, however, all seemed ok with them trying to patch up their differences. This match was one where the tag champs showed they were deserving, employing the quick tags that they have made them seem such an efficient team of late. The real story though was the timely split between of the Hart Dynasty. Just as Smith was looking for a hot tag, Kidd struck with a kick to the head before leaving the ring and leaving Gabriel to hit his 450 Splash for the win. The split had been a long time coming, and I was surpried to see Kidd be the one to turn heel, as I woul have thought his size and frenzied attack would lend better to the face. Saying that, Kidd is probably the better talker and will probably make the better heel in that sense, and for Smith to get over, he’ll need to be a face. It’s important fo both that this programme is good; if it isn’t it could be the last for one of them.
Good to see the Brooklyn Brawler back, an it’s the only time anyone will be pleased to see a job. It’s also good for Ezekiel Jackson too, who was the one to benefit.
Alex Riley took part in probably the biggest match of his career against John Cena. Having followed the Brooklyn Brawler, this wasn’t that competative a match. It was more about the tenuous climate that was set up at the start of the show. Miz threatened to cash in his MITB, so Cena insisted on neutralising him to protect his Survivor Series match, so Barrett instructed the Nexus to protect Cena while Orton seemed resigned to having to neutralise Cena himself. This was why Miz nominated Riley for the match in the first place, and why the end of the match saw all these forces colliding in te ring.
I was surprised to see Santino and Kozlov beat the Usos to become #1 contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championships. Saying that, they are really popular, and a good team against which the Nexus can look strong and gain even more infamy. The match was ok, and it was cool to see Jimmy Snuka alongside theUsos, but it was quite short, something in keeping with Santino and Kozlov’s team. Afterwards, Sheamus hit the ring to further attack and intinidate Santino, only for John orrison to again make the save. Though it is the role Sheamus is playing, I think the way Morrison described Sheamus as a bully seemed a little juvenile (in the sense tha he said it like an earnest teen might have). Nonetheless, this feud has huge potential, and we’ll be seeing them square off at Survivor Series.
Kofi Kingston had a match next against David Otunga. I noticed in this match that Otunga has been working on some new moves, whichis something he definately needed to do. A simple one, but an arresting one of him charging Kingston fro the ropes and from a right angle and hitting him square on the jaw with an elbow. It’s the sort of signature move that Otunga will need to incorporate to move on. It was a good match between the two, the chemistry of which I imagine was down to Kingston rather than Otunga, but they both put on a good match, which Kingston won in the end after George ‘The Animal’ Steele distracted ‘A-List’ by reliving his trademark biting of a turnbuckle enough for Kingston to hit Trouble in Paradise. Speaking of Otunga, it seems my happiness at the end of his rebellion was premature as he was admonished by Barrett backstage for claiming he was the leader. I really hope they can hold off going down a Nexus civil war for the time being.
Wade Barrett took on R-Truth in one of the best matches of the night. The stakes were legitimately high for Barrett as he’s rarely won on the main roster without Nexus help, and if he had of gone down to Truth, it would have been quite damaging; although for that reason, it was possibly predictable that he ould go over. Nonetheless, Truth looked good, and there was a lot of back-and-forth and good near-falls for either man before, after a good progression of moves and reversals, Barrett hit the Wasteland for the victory. This was especially good as it made Barrett look like a legitimate champion even without Cena’s help, and therefore, even more threatening to Orton.
Alberto Del Rio had a surprisingly competative match with Sgt. Slaughter, though that’s not to say it was that copetative. I was surprised Slaughter could go at all, and to see him wrestling Del Rio in to a Cobra Clutch twice made the match seem more competative. Of course, Del Rio eventually won, and unsurprisingly continued to attack Slaughter after the match. This drew MVP to aide the Hall of Famer and set up a Survivor Seies match involving the two. I’m very pleased about that in itself because a Survivor Series PPV without a traditional Survivor Series match would have been a travesty. Unfortunately, it means MVP wont be competing for the Intercontinental Championship on Sunday, which was something I was hoping for.
The evergreen (or grey) Mae Young was next to make an appearance, being shown some highlights of her career before LayCool came out to confront her with some pretty savage insults. Mae was never one to hold back though, and returned her own, including the very un-PG ‘sluts’ and ‘bitches’. This evolved in to a no-disqualification, falls count anywhere match between her Mae and LayCool. Luckily for Mae, the entire diva lockerroom came out to aid her in taking the ‘flawless’ girls to the woodshed, so to speak, and beat them.
The next match probably provided the biggest and most popular ‘Old Skool’ surprise as GOOD OL’ J.R. returned to the commentary booth to call the match between Daniel Bryan and Jack Swagger. The match was obviously very good between these two highly talented wrestlers, but the real story was hearing J.R’s voice again. The problem was that,while I woul have expected some dissention from Cole, it was really overplayed. He basically wouldn’t shut up in trying to score points against J.R., to the point where it detracted quite a lot from his commentary which was, unfortunately, a little rusty anyway (though that itself must be forgiven seen as han’t announced wrestling in somtime). A huge treat nonetheless. The match was very good as these two grapple-savvy wrestlers hooked up in one of those matches that that is so technically good that you barely notice the progressions of the match. Bryan won, and surprisingly easily with stiff kick to Swagger which may have made him look weaker than needs-be.
The main-event segment was filled with tension as a Hall of Famer now questioned John Cena’s motives, something meaningful in itself as Cena is exactly the kind of guy that would actively listen to those that paved the way (as, of course, any face would). Being honest, I’ve never seen why Roddy Riper’s promos are/were so legendary, but his interaction with Cena was, I imagine, a glimpse of his former greatness. It was one of those promos where you can tell that the performer really means it. Piper spoke of contemporaries lik Mr. Perfect, Jimmy Snuka and Ricky Steamboat who never got the chance to carry the WWE Championship, eventhough they were more than worthy, and so to just give it to Barrett would be a travesty and make Cena worthless as a wrestler and role-model. This seemed to genuinely afect Cena and he promised to call th match sraight down the middle, before Barrett made his way to the ring. He said that Cena was obviously going to help him win, and made him wear the Nexus T-shirt (something he should have been doing from the start. Just as he was about to make Cena symbollically raise his hand, Randy Orton came to the ring. He said he could drop Cena, but dropping Barrett would have the same effect, and went after the Nexus leader. Setting up for an RKO, Cena stood in his way, knowing he has to protect Barrett for Sunday. A furious Viper hit the RKO on Cena instead, but after more Nexus distraction, received an Attitude Adjustment. Barrett came to congratulate Cena with a handshake, but Cena turned it in to anothr AA and left both challenger and champion layed out in the ring. The situation is suitably poised as opaque. Both outcomes seem shocking, but one must occur, an while it seems out of character even now, and as you’ll read in my Survivor Series preview, I have a feeling that Barrett and Cena may be sharing a mutual and sincere handshake this Sunday.