How quickly the focus of the WWE Universe changes. This time yesterday, the fallout of Survivor Series and Cena’s firing was all most people were talking about. Leave it the the Miz to get people talking …
Yesterday, I was wondering how Nexus were going to stay relevant as a force in the WWE. Well, the first segment answered that question, for this Monday night, at least. Barrett came out and employed some classic wrestle-logic by suggesting that referees have never before laid their hands on a competitor like Cena did on Sunday, and for that reason, he should get a re-match. Of course, any one who remembers Earl Hebner’s WWE tenure will remember that this is hardly true even at a cursory glance. It was wrestle-logic well employed though, because the GM granted a rematch, meaning Nexus remained central to proceedings for the night, and seemed like legitimate threats to the WWE title, and therefore, the WWE.
As CM Punk came out to rehab at the announce booth, a lot of the night’s attention then shifted to the return of the King of the Ring concept which will take place next week on RAW. The first qualifier saw Sheamus take on R-Truth; two people who would fit in the tournament, making this match more unpredictable than most ‘qualifier’ type matches are. R-Truth had a decent showing, but the match was all about showing a ‘house of fire’ opened up in Sheamus after losing to John Morrison at Survivor Series. Indeed, the spirited Truth eventually seemed to just be being dragged along the ring, and Sheamus used all of his power moves (including the rarely executed Irish Cross) to go over Truth, despite the fact he could have pinned him before that. Bad for Truth (though that doesn’t really bother me), but good for Sheamus, who needs wins elsewhere if he’s going to put Morrison over. I wont speculate on who will/should win KOTR until all eight participants are announced on Friday.
The next qualifying match was slated to be Ezekiel Jackson against the Miz. When I saw the graphic, I thought “what’s the point of Miz being in KOTR, he doesn’t need to be.” Thankfully, therefore, Alex Riley took his place in the match (cue a joke from Punk regarding Riley’s recent DUI). I haven’t been sure up until now, but it seems they’re selling ‘Big Zeke’ as a babyface, which is fine by me as he seems surprisingly over. I think we need to see him do a little more in the ring though (his match against Riley was little more than another squash victory) and have him in some really good matches, all of which can be obtained by placing him in a good feud; for the sake of argument, let me suggest his ex-associate, William Regal. Like Goldust, Regal doesn’t seem to have too much long left in the ring, and, like Goldust, WWE may provide him with one last TV rivalry. A lot of this one would write itself.
Half-way through the show we saw Cena give his ‘farewell address.’ Some people dislike Cena (myself not included, though I thought his character was stale before this whole Nexus thing), but the one thing no one can take away is his knowledge and his passion for the business. Everything he said in that ring, I believe, was straight from the heart. He was sad but upbeat, he knew he’d stayed true to the business, to the community, and was proud and thankful of it. Cena also showed he is more tuned in with the fans than his detractors suggest, pulling out a cheeky curse-word (has Mae Young single-handedly ended the PG era!) and asking the WWE Universe to use their most sincere chant: “Lets’s go Cena/Cena sucks!” He has managed to refine his character of late. He is more than just a face, and that says a lot about his talent. On his way out, the locker-room, and long-time rival, Randy Orton, all paid respect. The last one to see him out, Wade Barrett, however, wished him good riddance with a mocking ‘you can’t see me’ gesture. It is emblematic of the new stars being made, many of which Cena has helped along.
Back to KOTR qualifying, and Daniel Bryan took on new rival Ted DiBiase. To me, it seemed like a no-brainer to have DiBiase go over. Daniel Bryan, as US champ and shooting star, doesn’t need the KOTR, and a loss after a successful title defence wouldn’t hurt him too much, especially if DiBiase gained it unfairly. The other ‘strory’ from this match was the strange accompaniment of Bryan to the ring of Brie Bella. Not that I particularly disliked it, but I thought the comical ‘ladies man’ idea was over before it begun. Apparently not, and Brie seemed quite taken with the American Dragon. Unfortunately for Bryan, this distracted him for the opening part of the match, and DiBiase didn’t let up for some time. However, Bryan got back in to it and managed to beat DiBiase, again, with the LaBelle Lock. Post match, as Brie was attending to Bryan, Nikki Bella came out to contest for him. Bryan seemed stunned by it, and respectfully removed himself from the situation. At this, Cole called him a nerd, and for once, I have to agree! Another loss for DiBiase doesn’t seem great for his progression, but in a little preview to my KOTR post, I doubt Bryan will be winning, so expect DiBiase to cost Bryan his KOTR match and set up a US Championship rematch at TLC.
LayCool showed up at the arena only to be turned away. Of course Natalya has to now show up on Smackdown, but it may be a sign that there will be no LayCool rematch. Natalya had a classic sort of post-title victory match against Alicia Fox in which she dispatched her with ease to appear a dominant and deserved champion. All will be more clear for her after Smackdown.
The final KOTR qualification from RAW was determined between John Morrison and Tyson Kidd. Now, it’s good for Kidd that he got TV time, but he came out to generic music and lost, which may be a bad sign. The guy needs a good feud with DH Smith pronto, unless he wants to become a Superstars regular. The match was ok, but given the mutual high-flying skills of both, you might have expected more. I suppose the problem for Kidd is that his sort of almost lucha style isn’t that consistent with being a heel, so he might feel he needs to slow down and be more methodical, or risk not getting over. Neither is desirable. Before the match, Melina gave Morrison a flirtation slap on the ass, so to speak, and it seems rumours that MNM were getting back together may have some founding. As for the match, it was ok. None of the qualifiers were spectacular, as you might expect, but none of them were boring or bad, so there’s not much more to say. Morrison looked strong, which was just as important to him as it was to Sheamus.
Our main event saw Wade Barrett getting his championship rematch against Randy Orton. From this point, we had a rollercoaster of emotions and chaos. Initially, I couldn’t see Barrett winning. What would be the point of that after losing the night before? But then Nexus came out and Orton made a point of seeming debilitated for the title match, so at this point, a title change seems more possible. This match in itself was very good. Barrett played the calculating predator brilliantly while Orton sold his injury well while staying mobile, actually resembling a wounded animal (or viper). His eventual success, with the help of the vengeful Cena, was genuinely inspiring and uplifting. It was at this point that I realised there were seven minutes left in the broadcast. THERE ARE SEVEN MINUTES LEFT! … “AWESOME! … I CAME TO PLAY! …” No matter how many times it is done, a cashing in of MITB will always get everyone sat or stood up, as Punk mentioned the crowd in the arena were. An important aspect of the ensuing title match was that it wasn’t simply a Skull-Crushing Finalé and a three-count. Orton was stood up, and Miz had to actually work (though a lot less so than he usually would have) to overcome the Viper. He spent a fair amount of time working over a game Orton. Indeed, it seemed that the speculation (and hopes) of much of the IWC that Miz would be the first to fail to successfully cash in his MITB contract, may have been realised as Orton set-up for the RKO. However, Miz legitimately out-wrestled Orton with a great reversal in to the Skull-Crushing Finalé for the win. It wasn’t a clean victory, but it was one which suggested, as was essential, that Miz belongs on that stage. I have said recently that I thought Miz needed to wait to cash in, but this was very well executed, and made Miz look more like a credible champion. All of that, along with the almost child-like excitement of MITB made for a brilliant RAW! I imagine Orton will receive a rematch, and a simple one-on-one match would surely end in an Orton victory, so I imagine the cheated Barrett may also lay claim to a spot at TLC. Expect a triple-threat.