RAW Recall (28/03/2011): Final Stop!

Rocky's first in-ring encounter with Cena didn't end well for him

Surprisingly, the opening shot of the night was CM Punk sitting cross-legged in the ring in spotlight. It amazed me how Punk managed to make a warm, home-town crowd, turn on him almost instantaneously. Punk could have been describing the early build for his match with Randy Orton when he called Orton complacent after punting the New Nexus in the head. Indeed, it seemed that way last week when Punk managed to trap Orton, and again this week, Punk’s comments drew an injured Viper to the ring to face his antagonist. Orton got the upper hand initially, but when attempting  to repeat another punt on Punk, his knee gave way (sold very well) and saved Punk. Looking back at the ring, the conniving Punk realised that Orton was vulnerable and re-entered the ring, attacking the bullseye on his knee and hitting a GTS to him before leaving the ring with a new confidence and a definite swing in momentum.

I have been saying it was a mistake to not make the most of the Edge and Christian reunion since it began at Elimination Chamber, so I was pleased to see them tag again on RAW. I would have thought it obvious, however, to have them enter the ring to their old music, so I was a little disappointed. Now my stream cut out lots during this match, so I can’t really say that much about it, but it seemed suitably lively to build well for Edge-Del Rio at WrestleMania. At first I was annoyed that the Canadian duo prospered 3 times in a row over Del Rio, but given that it was Clay, and not him, that got pinned, it didn’t seem so bad. Not only that, but Del Rio got the final word, locking in his brutal arm-breaker to the recovering Christian before laying out the World champion next to him. This has been one of those tit-for-tat rivalries, and will make for a good atmosphere in Atlanta.

There isn’t much to say about the Gabriel-Santino match. Wrestling, rightly, takes something of a back-seat to heat creating angles in the weeks before WrestleMania, and this match was simply an angle to set up a four on four match at WrestleMania between Corre and Santino, Kozlov, Kane and Big Show, which will add some much needed diversity to a WM card consisting mostly of one-on-one encounters. Well, you couldn’t have a ‘Mania without Kane, Big Show and Wade Barrett!

The next segment was fantastic. I expected the face-off between Undertaker and HHH to be compelling, and i’m sure it would have been anyway, but when Shawn Michaels involved himself, it became absolute gold. After some classic supernatural flexing from ‘Taker when he interrupted The Game’s entrance with a gong, I was wondering what could possibly happen between these two; they couldn’t fight, and it seemed like they might simply stare at each other in a flacid refrain to the chilling 2 21 11 promo. Then, Shawn Michaels hit. The Showstopper is obviously one in a million, and he injected yet another emotional context in to this rivalry. Before, it was hard to see HBK as impartial, but he seemed to challenge HHH at every turn, asking what makes him think he can do what he couldn’t against The Deadman. HHH responded by repeating one of the major stories of this feud, that he is calculated and remorseless where Shawn got ‘soft’. Undertaker said Trips’s confidence would be his downfall, and Michaels seemed to agree after Taker blocked an attempted Sweet Chin Music after things started to get heated. Obviously seeing this as telling, Shawn literally, ran away from HHH’s request to tell everyone why he would win, mouthing ‘You can’t win’ back to his friend. Fantastic promo, and fantastic build. My only problem with it is that I would have liked it to have been swapped with an earlier promo. Deep down, we all are sure Taker will win, so the most pro-HHH promo the better, and one where Trips seems vulnerable in the go home show was perhaps not best advised. Nonetheless, spectacular stuff, and proof of the power and talent of all involved!

I would have liked to have seen a longer Swagger-Lawler match, as it could actually be excellent, but time constraints were obviously a problem on Monday. It was all pretty standard build, but the bit I really liked was at the very end when Cole provoked Lawler, ran to his ‘Cole Mine’ leading to Lawler clawing at Cole while being held back by security and allowing Cole to throw his drink in The King’s face, further establishing his pettiness. This was a great way to make the moment when Lawler finally does get his hands on Cole even more satisfying.

Bryan and Morrison vs Sheamus and Ziggler was in theory a great way to build both of the matches those guys are involved in, and I suppose it was somewhat successful in that, but it was too short to build anything impressive. It makes me wonder whether the final RAWs before Mania should be 3 hour affairs … There might be a post in that. Elsewhere, we had a field segment between LayCool and Trish & Snooki which was obviously cut short, causing it to lose some of it’s impact. Nonetheless, I like angles away from the arena. It adds to the ‘big deal feel’ of WrestleMania for me.

The final seg was the long-awaited, much-anticipated, showdown between The Rock and Cena (and Miz, of course). Great choice by WWE to tape in Chicago as they go nuts for The Rock, and shouting loud that they are part of ‘the millions’. Rock cuts a classic ‘Rock’ promo, expertly mocking Cena (who looks like a homeless power ranger) while making himself seem like an irresistible force. Then we hear Cena’s music and it’s on! The two exist together in the ring in a vision that is amongst the most eagerly desired in wrestling history. The Rock paces the ring like he used to, showing just how much he wants to get at Cena. Cena’s rebuttal was strong and suitable not in the form of rap; he asked Rock what exactly his problem is with Cena, and build’s it to the highly intense question: Who the hell are you? Who is the Rock to question Cena’s lifestyle and character? This is crucial. After all of the jokes, Cena did what Rock asked, and addressed him and his issues man-to-man, and just as Cena’s invitation to a fight was about to taken up by Rocky, who said that even the good lord can’t save him from having his ass whipped all over Chicago, out came Miz (with Alex Riley) for their rub off the two. Miz largely holds his own with Rock and Cena, calling them the two O’s: Overhyped and Overrated. Crucially again, Miz says that at least Cena will ‘go down swinging’ whereas Rocky will not risk his post-wrestling acting career by actually acting physically. Then, after Cena has left the ring and Rock tells Miz that it doesn’t matter what he thinks, Riley cheap-shots Rock and a beat-down begins while Cena stands outside, unlike a hero, not intervening. Rock recovers and lays the smackdown on Riley over the top rope in classic fashion before a characteristic DDT and finally a People’s Elbow to Miz. Then, from behind, Cena picks up Rock and hits an Attitude Adjustment to the Great One. This was again crucial. After explaining how he was facing Rock face-to-face, an attack from behind is hardly an act of a hero, and was met with a huge chorus of boos as Cena gave a self-congratulatory ‘You Can’t See Me’ taunt to the fallen People’s Champ. What am I saying? That this wasn’t far from a heel-turn in itself. It’s difficult to see how we can have what would be many people’s nightmare scenario of Rock and Cena palling up at Mania. It was more physicality than I expected, but it certainly left a lot of huge questions for Sunday.

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Smack of the Week (25/03/2011): Rated Restraint

Edge intimidates Del Rio without touching him

Our first match this week was the ‘WrestleMania Rewind’ match between CM Punk and Rey Mysterio. This was a good match, as should be expected from their programme from last year. Lots of smooth progressions and unique reversals. However, like the rewind match on RAW, this was mostly for an angle, so the finish of the match and, in some ways, the match itself was immaterial. I thought Orton might make an appearance, but instead it was Cody Rhodes (as was preferable), which helped build his match with Mysterio at Mania. At first I was worried it would just be another beat-down, but Rhodes use of a symbolic knee-brace really added more visual stimulus to a build that has been dominated by aesthetics, be it to do with Rhodes’ ‘dashing’ looks or the differing masks of each competitor.

Next up was Edge against Drew McIntyre in a match where the World Champion wanted to show that he was 100%. Though Drew McIntyre held his own for a while, targeting Edge’s injured arm, the Rated R Superstar was certainly allowed to show his dominance, beating McIntyre with his version of the Sharpshooter (in order to preserve his Spearing arm). I thought this was, however, a bit too much of a burial of McIntyre, especially when Matthews said “McIntyre’s good, but not as good as Del Rio.” McIntyre is clearly going to be a main eventer some day, so why portray him as below that standard? I would have preferred this match to be given more time and really tried to pull off a stand-out match that Edge could have shown the guile to win, thus showing his quality in a less throwaway fashion and without burying McIntyre, even if that burial wont last long.

Just a quick note on the LayCool match. LayCool impressive as heels again with their characaturing of Snooki. My bigger point is that Rosa Mendes was something of a pleasant surprise in the ring. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t spectacular, but the moves she did were executed very well. Kudos. Given the lack of crossover, it looks like the Kelly-McIntyre story has finished which is a shame.

Next up was the match between Kofi Kingston and Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship. This was a good match with a couple of great spots. Early on, as Barrett attempted a strong Irish Whip which was met with a cartwheel from Kofi to take the sting out. After some nice back and forth and progressions, Kofi got an upper hand, setting up for the Trouble in Paradise, only to be distracted by Heath Slater. This extra time was seemingly crucial as when Kofi attempted his finisher again. Barrett, in an amazing spot, managed to catch Kofi on his shoulders in position for Wasteland and the victory. Considering a rematch may be on the card for Mania, its almost a shame they didn’t save that spot for that match, but nonetheless, awesome it was. It’s also about time Barrett got some gold, and I think he could make an excellent IC Champ. Given how close he came to the WWE title, and his position in Corre, he’s definitely believable as a dominant champ, and that’s what i’d like to see him become, the next after a long drought of big-time, long-reigning champions that helped that belt gain the reputation it had (and is arguably beginning to lose), people like Ricky Steamboat, Mr. Perfect, and more recently, even Randy Orton. This championship used to be a goal in itself, and an indicator of top top stars, which, for some, was the highest accolade they ever achieved. If it were up to me, i’d have Barrett keep the title for a very long time, to Summerslam and beyond before pushing him to the world title. Back in the here and now, the added gold to Corre’s shoulders made them look like a very big deal. Hopefully they’ll continue to exercise their dominance in new and compelling ways.

Undertaker’s address to HHH was pretty good. ‘Taker’s never been dynamite on the mic, but he can hold his own, and this exchange of (well-earned) words is certainly compelling. Saying that HHH will become only another number, the number 19, was also pretty nice rhetoric.

Another squash for Swagger (showing how good his involvement in the Cole-Lawler feud will be for him) as he beat R-Truth with the ankle lock and allowed Cole to continue his douchiness post-match. It barely bears repeating, but Cole is an awesome heel right now, behind only Miz and Punk at his best.

The main event saw Christian take on Alberto Del Rio in a match i’m considering for my MOTY section. I wont be able to convey it all here, but there was lots of drama and well-worked near-falls which was really helped by a hot crowd. Though there were lots of good progressions and back and forth, the one point that really stood out with me was when Christian reversed an attempted rolling arm breaker in to a killswitch attempt before Del Rio set up for a belly-to-back suplex, only to be reversed again by Christian, who landed on his feet before Del Rio finally nailed his awesome Enzuigiri , only for Christian to lick out. All that happened in the space of a few seconds and really summed up the pace and quality of the match. Meanwhile, outside the ring there were lots of shenanigans as Edge, who had previously been told that if he and Del Rio even touched, they would both be banned from WrestleMania, adding tension to his presence there. Eventually, Edge took out Brodus Clay with a chair, distracting Del Rio enough for Christian to hit the Killswitch for the win. This was my only problem with this match: Christain benefits just from being there, but going in to a Mania main-event, I think it is to the detriment of Del Rio to go down two weeks in a row to Christian. I would liked to have seen it the other way-round, with Clay hitting Edge with a chair, distracting Christian for a Del Rio win. It could have allowed the same ending anyway, which was an impressive bit of storytelling. Edge staled in to the ring with a chair, as if he was going to attack Del Rio right then and there, even if it meant being banned from the big dance. As he swung back though, Christian grabbed the chair from his hands to save Edge’s WrestleMania spot, though with the chair in his hands and no ramifications, he took a swing at Del Rio himself. This was telling at the deep concern Christian has for his friend which is suggestive of what it is, a long friendship, while amping up to boiling point the hate between Edge and Del Rio. More nice build for their WrestleMania match.

Smack of the Week (18/03/2011): Del Rio Uncaged

Del Rio's plentiful assets helped him make a violent statement against Edge

This will be, by necessity of my tiredness and busyness, another brief post, but there are some specific things to be said about the latest episode of Smackdown. It was a shame in some ways not to see Drew McIntyre on the show. He’s had a lot of momentum the past few weeks and it’s a shame to interrupt that. Saying that, it’s clear that in the chaotic, condensed setting of the Road to Wrestlemania, there is only a certain amount of talent that can appear on any given show, something that may need to be addressed here in a later post. There’s a lot of talking, angles, and message-sending jobbing this time of year, and McIntyre is obviously above that, while his lack of a meaningful feud with someone who isn’t Edge and is now entirely engaged with his own Wrestlemania opponent means that his appearance is more expendable. It shouldn’t be though. I just hope he’ll get a chance to feature prominently at Wrestlemania.

When I saw that Sheamus was taking on Kofi Kingston in a champion vs champion match, I immediately thought about the possibility of the unification of the titles at Wrestlemania. This would of course mean giving Bryan the short shrift, which is a shame for him, but if they want to do it, this is their chance. The match was sold by the announcers as a big deal, which of course, it is, and was given the time to accommodate the billing. We saw a Sheamus regaining his confidence against a Kofi Kingston that still struggles to show that ruthless streak that, among other things, separates the astonishingly athletic (see Shelton Benjamin), from the top stars in the business. This was again the case as Kingston showed extraordinary high-flying ability to get Sheamus on the ropes, only to be met with a low-down kick of the stairs in to Kingston’s knees, weakening him enough so that he couldn’t defend from the match-winning Brogue Kick. If they do face each other to combine the titles, it will be the Celtic Warrior going over.

Nice to see Trent Barretta in the ring, even if it was only to job. He’s popular and a very talented wrestler. Given half a chance, he could do well. That aside, i’m really liking how Cody Rhodes wrestles in his suit at the minute. He might ham it up at times, but he does a good job of showing he can’t stand being looked at, only showing himself while he takes out his hurt on someone in the ring before the house lights immediately go down. The clear mask suitably distorts a face which, of course, is perfectly normal, and provides him with heel weaponry.

After escaping Kane and Show with the tag titles, Corre began the most impressive beat-down since their formation. This was partly because of who they did it to given that Kane and Big Show are two of the strongest booked wrestlers ever. The spot with the steel steps being smashed in to another set of steps on Kane employed the best of kinetic wrestle-logic while genuinely looking horrible and sounding just as bad. Show was put down with repeated shots to the head before being flapjacked (kinda) through the announce table. The resultant chaotic scene looked like the proverbial tornado-swept disaster, and certainly made a strong statement of intent that the Corre has more shocking moments planned. If that is all built in to their ‘winds of change’ motif and ties in to the story regarding their relationship to Kane, it could be great stuff. As for Big Show and Kane: no doubt they’ll take on Corre at Wrestlemania in some capacity, but hopefully they’ll continue on after that together. The tag team division needs more teams and I can’t see either doing much interesting alone for a while.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Jack Swagger booked so strongly against Chris Masters. Could we be seeing the resurgence of the All American American? I hope so. Cole waltzing out of his ‘Cole mine’ to get involved again was money, though he needs to work on his ankle lock. Excellent stuff.

I was very pleased to see Ted DiBiase booked against Rey Mysterio for several reasons. Firstly, because DiBiase being used on Smackdown shows that he’s still regarded as a drawing name, and secondly because having any competitive match with Rey Mysterio is a sign of confidence. Not only that though, but considering that Mysterio is feuding with Cody Rhodes, I thought it would be billed as DiBiase taking the side of his former Legacy partner. That in mind, I was quite annoyed that the announcers never mentioned it. I can only think they were told specifically to avoid it, but I can’t think why. It was a nice match nontheless. Not too long, but packed, and with some real points of dominance for DiBiase, not least the perfect ans spectacular dropkick to Mysterio as he jumped from the top rope. Beautiful. It’s unsurprising that Mysterio went over as he had to match Cody Rhodes, but DiBiase by no means looked bad.

Now I admit to struggling to remember that many specific spots from the main event, a cage match between Christian and Alberto Del Rio, but I do remember feeling that it was an excellent, excellent match. Despite Del Rio being the rising star and Christian being (apparantly) a victim of a glass ceiling, Christian looked very strong against the Mexican aristocrat. There was lots of hearty back-and forth in the cage match, especially given the history between the two. The equal match of the two was almost manifest in the finish as they seemed to fight while they were trying to escape the cage, both ending up atop the cage, with Christian marginally coming out on top, ostensibly because Del Rio’s arm was caught. A big win for Christian without harming Del Rio’s rep too much. After the match, however, the bitter Del Rio attacked Christian with that abrupt dropkick to the head and a brutal ringside assault. At this point, Edge interrupted the attack by blowing the horn of Del Rio’s car and threatening to damage it. I was convinced that would be what we’d see as a was to amp up the rivalry in a visually appealing way, but before Edge could do anything, one of Del Rio’s assets, Brodus Clay, attacked Edge from behind, and this led to another beat-down which culminated in the iconic con-chair-to (an E&C move originally, but something the announcers described as an Edge move specifically). I’m still convinced this is leading to much demanded Edge and Christian feud. I think it is genuinely Del Rio’s destiny to win the world title at Wrestlemania, which obviously means Edge will have to lose. Christian wants to prove that he was always under-appreciated etc. That, along with Ricardo Rodriguez and Brodus Clay in the vicinity, spells danger for Edge’s reign. Up until Mania though, I think Edge and Christian will become more and more close, having to stick together to survive Del Rio and his confidants. If it was up to me, the ‘go home’ Smackdown would feature Edge and Christian tag together again, but this time with their old entrance to provide that timeless moment, for the benefit of those with flash-photography.

RAW Recall (14/03/2011): Mock Bottom!

The Miz preparing to Rock Bottom Cena

I don’t actually have that much to say about The Rock’s opening promo. It was excellent, and a throwback in style to some of Rock’s funny interviews while saying everything the ‘Cena Sucks’ portion of the WWE Universe are thinking (that Cena has no talent, and that his demographic is kids), but it was still held back by the lack of physical presence. It was still a top-notch promo, but when he appears live, it’s just that much better.

This was followed by another excellent promo from The Miz, belittling Rock and Cena in a way he hasn’t quite earned and so garnering a lot of heat. This was followed by him being booked in a match against someone he hadn’t faced before, that person being the Great Khali. At first, I wished it would have been HHH, and that is a match I would love to see, but I have since realised that it would be counter-productive to his own build up for the Undertaker to have a match in which he didn’t win with at least relative ease, and this is at odds with the rise of The Miz. Saying that, Miz didn’t look overly strong in the match, only escaping a  pinfall it seemed because Alex Riley was there. I’m ambivalent about this. There have been reports of Miz ‘re-hiring’ A-Ri, and if that’s true, i’ll be quite upset at the ignoring of the stip. If they sell it, however, as the announcers seemed to, that Riley was simply helping his mentor because he wanted to, then I suppose it’s fair enough.

Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan was a very good match which seemed to last longer than it did. Indeed, the match was packed with action with a story of the Irish powerhouse trying to quess the quickness and technical expertise of Bryan. There was some very fluid back and forth here, with Bryan surviving an onslaught and Sheamus escaping the LaBelle Lock. Finally, the match came with a Brogue Kick to Bryan as he dived from the top rope. This finish made a point of making Bryan look tough and hard to beat, so I have no problem with that. It’s also good for Sheamus as the ‘curse’ he was said to have (if backstage reports are to be believed, this curse was more like management being down on him) was broken. These two will most probably head to Wrestlemania, though i’d like to see one or two extra superstars added, just for variety to the card, and so when Sheamus retains (which I think he must), Daniel Bryan will look less weak, which will be important for him going out of WrestleMania. Add DiBiade and Bourne and you have a potentially great match.

Next up was Michael Cole’s segment with Jerry Lawler’s family. That reminds me, i’m loving the pod Cole is in from now on. It just ramps up his dislikability and pre-madonna status excellently, while being funny. Cole’s guest was none other than Grand Master Sexay, Brian Christopher, famous screw-up son of Jerry Lawler. Hearing the Too Cool music again while the camera cut from shots of Christopher and Cole dancing was one of the finniest things i’ve seen for a long time, but the interview would get much darker. I think there was probably a lot more truth to what Christopher and Lawler said to each other than might be thought. I know they’re close, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Christopher did feel neglected as he said, and if Lawler was embarrassed by his son (who wouldn’t be!). This all made for great drama, as Christopher physically harassed his father before leaving. More baiting from Cole before we hear the familiar Sooners anthem of GOOD OL’ JR! For the record, Jim was looking well, which was great to see. Also for the record, I think he needs to be called back for Wrestlemania. His voice will lend a gravitas that, for all their talent, Matthews and esp. Booker have yet to pick up. Anyway, a great speech from J.R to Cole about how ridiculous the feud has gotten (as it has, wonderfully) before Swagger appears out of nowhere and takes out Jerry Lawler before setting his sights on the Boomer Sooner himself. This was, as it should be, uncomfortable viewing, and though Jerry recovered to fight back, he was soon quelled, allowing for the excellent closing shot of Cole with the ankle Lock on JR. Great build.

This was followed by a disappointing match. Orton vs Mason Ryan, and lo and behold!, RKO out of nowhere (though it was more clever than last week, admittedly) and a punt to Ryan. It really is sickening what has happened to the Nexus. It’s just lazy too. The talent of Punk and the background of the group and it has come to this. I don’t think it can be saved now, I mean does Punk alone = Nexus. Maybe he could recruit, but it seems unlikely now, and certainly less acceptable after Ryan was punted. At least now we should have some more creative stuff between these two in the 3 weeks before Mania …

I think Snooki was pretty good on RAW. She played out a face character pretty well and got physically involved. I think her ability to beat up Layla was a bit unfortunate for the former Womens and Divas Champion, but she is a heel so it’s to be expected I suppose. It’s undoubtedly a good move for WrestleMania and WWE, and add to that Trish, LayCool and the match-up of Morrison and Ziggler, and there is an anticipated match in the making. It’s very interesting to me to see how the company’s top divas square up to Trish, and Trish letting McCool get the victory over her (by proxy) was a humble, helpful touch. I also liked their celebrations, posing for photos over her body. Great way to build heat.

Finally we have the main event of John Cena vs Alberto Del Rio. Right there is a future Mania main event if wanted. This match was an opening salvo, and I feel we may see them square off again sooner rather than later. It was a relatively short match, but with some nice stuff. I was really impressed with Cena. At one point his dropkick seemed gimmicky, but he’s really incorporated it. Seeing that Cena was getting the upper hand, Brodus Clay weighed in, stopping Cena from hitting the AA to his mentor. This caused a beat-down that was interrupted by the Rock’s music and a loud reaction from the fans, who were instead met with Miz in a bald mask (looking more like The Rock than you would ever imagine possible). Miz went on to Rock Bottom Cena before Del Rio and Clay went about beating Cena some more. At this point, Miz started talking, pointing out, correctly, that he had ‘owned’ Cena the last few weeks and that he would continue to do so. He then went on beating Cena, with the ring-post, the mic, a suplex to the ramp and finally a Skull Crushing Finalé to Cena on the spinning WWE logo on the stage. Every week, Miz makes his assault on Cena more harrowing, and steals the show doing it. My only problem here was that Miz coming out to Rock’s music, though brilliant and gaining a lot of heat, may have something of a boy crying wolf effect. Rocky is scheduled to appear once more live on RAW before Wrestlemania, so when his music hits, will the impact be lessened by this? Maybe not. I hope not. That aside though, another good finish to another good RAW before Wrestlemania.

TNA Should Have Fired Jeff Hardy On the Spot

It’s difficult to know where to start about last night’s debacle. It was obscene in so many ways it is legitimately shocking.

I think i’ll start by just going through it chronologically. Jeff Hardy’s music hits, and it must have taken him about a minute to appear. That, in itself, can happen, but right from that first appearance, he was messing up. Stumbling to the ring, fondling his t-shirt, he began acting like a face, gesturing to the crowd and high-fiving and the like. Then, seeming to barely know where he was, he stumbles up the stairs and in to the ring. Then, after Sting has come to the ring and the introductions have been made, Hardy spends another, very frustrating minute, messing about with his shirt as if he’ll throw it to them, until he just drops it. At least that was a heel-like thing to do.

Then to the match. I’m not sure exactly what happened. A lot of people seem to think Bischoff coming out to make it No-DQ was to allow the 90 second match we saw; but to me, that doesn’t make sense seen as there was no no -DQ style stuff there at all. Also, Jeff’s attempts to kick ofut of the pin makes me think that he obviously had no idea the match was going to be that short and so wasn’t told,  and, to me, it doesn’t make sense not to tell him what will happen. My feeling is Bischoff came out to make it no-DQ so the match could be more accommodating to Hardy’s condition, but Sting was having none of it after a while, and so just shoot-pinned him legitimately to get it finished ASAP.

I doubt we’ll know for sure exactly what happened, but what is clear is that the whole thing was a massive embarrassment to TNA. If there was concern for Hardy, he shouldn’t have been sent out, simple as that. They should have got anyone else to take on Sting for at least a decent if basic match. Sending Hardy out was dangerous and shameful. The real shame is obviously on Hardy’s part. He obviously cares nothing about TNA or Sting to show up at a PPV in that condition. He’s an embarrassment, and doesn’t deserve anything from the fans or the company at this point.

What is even worse is that, from what I hear, the rest of the card was decent enough, with AJ Styles vs Matt Hardy being a good match. What a world we live in where Matt is the Hardy being favourably compared! Jeff Hardy and TNA management ruined all of that effort in 90 seconds.

If TNA have any respect for their reputation and their talent, they would fire Hardy. They don’t need him, certainly not while he’s behaving this way. To keep him employed is enabling the problems he clearly has and is a spit in the face to the rest of the lockerroom, especially those who would love Hardy’s position in the company. So far, Hardy has just been ‘sent home’ from TV: a good step, but not enough. If TNA want to be taken at all seriously, he needs to be gone immediately and sent to get help.

Is Anyone Writing Around Here

After writing a full post about the last MNR, I wouldn’t be surprised if people expected a return to full WWE coverage here at RTV-WOW. Unfortunately, that still isn’t quite the case, as you can tell from the lack of a Smackdown post.

I’m still very busy, but should have more time in the coming week. I appreciate anyone who reads this blog, especially regular readers, so please, bear with me, and i’ll try and make it worth your while by posting great comments about the WWE in the future!

RAW Recall (07/03/2011): Miz May Be ‘the Only Thought’

Miz delivers The People's Elbow to John Cena in a show-stealing segment

I have to say, i’m still not out of the woods in terms of busyness, but I do have time to write this RAW review, especially given that the last two days have seen the most traffic to this blog EVER. So thanks to everyone that has visited here, eventhough i’ve been on semi-hiatus.

The cold-opening with Undertaker’s promo was another nice one from Undi. His style is a little more relaxed under his ‘last outlaw’ gimmick, and it’s made him easier to listen to. Saying that, I don’t understand why he appeared. He spoke on Smackdown, and you’d have thought it would have been better to see Triple H. Seeing that ‘taker will, again, be talking on Smackdown, I don’t understand why he couldn’t announce the no-holds-barred stipulation there and save time for another match, perhaps featuring Trips.

The Abrupt cut to the backstage assault on Orton was nice, and a return to the brutality we’ve seen in the past from Nexus, and when Punk told them to drag Orton to the ring, I thought we’d get a return to the awesome iconography of their best days. Unfortunately, that moment was acted out during the commercial break, which I think was a mistake. As for Otunga’s match withe The Viper, it looked like Otunga had improved some what in-ring, but the match, and it’s finish, was unfortunately predictable. After taking a beat-down, Orton hit an RKO out of nowhere for the win. This has been Orton’s booking for a while now, and it’s predictable and not entertaining. The RKO is so awesome because it can be hit at any time, like Stone Cold’s Stunner, but if it’s used in the way it was this week it’s really unbelievable and completely empty of impact. And then, predictably, we saw the punt. Seeing a punt every week, on the dot, completely strips it of it’s meaning. I would rather have seen Orton take the Nexus members out in more imaginative, edgy ways that fit his persona. One of them could be punted, but i’d like to see the others attacked brutally away from the ring (backstage, at home, at a media appearance, for instance). Also, if Orton’s going to take out the rest of Nexus, spread it out throughout the Wrestlemania build-up, and on the weeks where Orton doesn’t take someone out, have Nexus be on top, doing something characteristically sick for CM Punk, to Orton. Something shocking, like putting his dad through a New Nexus style sacrifice, something that will make them seem really evil. That would make it more unpredictable, and therefore, more entertaining and shocking. As of now, it looks like it’ll be CM Punk on his own to take on Orton, though i’ve heard rumours that Mason Ryan will make it to the big dance, and at Wrestlemania, Nexus will be destroyed. This is arguably the least inspiring storyline going in to Wrestlemania, and something should be done to fix it. If I was tasked with saving the story, i’d rebuild Nexus in to the scary entity it used to be. Have Punk convince previous members, such as Tarver, Young, Sheffield (if he’s healthy) to re-join the group, and maybe some new members (Alex Riley? Awesome Kong?) and have them absolutely torment Orton while Punk keeps a big distance between him and the Viper, so that Orton, by the time Wrestlemania comes around, really wants to get at Punk. Also, play more on the past; talk more about Unforgiven, 2008, have Nexus play on some of the atrocities Orton has committed in the past, perhaps including past victims of the former heel Orton, and maybe have Nexus break in to his home and attack his family, like Orton did to HHH two years ago for instance. Have Nexus behaving in their old, sinister way, with Punk just talking all the way through. All this will make Punk over-confident, and he will agree to take on Orton one-on-one at Wrestlemania and get beaten, despite the eventual attempts of Nexus to interfere, which could be scuppered perhaps by the WWE lockerroom. Their match should be great anyway, but with an interesting, emotional story like that, it could be a show-stealer.

I was torn by the divas match. I really want to see more time, more effort (creatively), and more regard given to the divas division, but I thought the Michael Cole interruptions were really funny! It was unique and drew, rightly, tonnes of heat. It’s just a shame it had to be during a divas match, especially one that was actually taking shape quite nicely between Nikki Bella and Eve Torres.

The segment Cole was so keen to get to was his announcement of his special guest referee, and JBL’s entrance was a huge shock, even if it did turn out to be a red herring. Now I never had much time for the JBL gimmick, but I was very up for seeing him on RAW this week. Saying that, it was almost inevitable that Stone Cold would make his appearance here, with a huge Stunner to JBL before having a few un-PG beers and signing the contract to take the place of the special guest referee for the Cole-Lawler Wrestlemania match. This segment was awesome, from Cole’s obnoxious, smarmy heel characteristics, to the somewhat old-skool beer-bath Stone Cold gave Cole, humiliating him by pouring beers straight over his head while Cole whimpered like the worst kind of coward. The second Stunner after a beer-toast to JBL, was certainly reminiscent of the attitude era, and for those upset Cole didn’t get stunned – don’t worry, he’ll get his at Wrestlemania.

Daniel Bryan actually has some decent history with Sheamus, so a feud with him seems to make sense. Their match was regrettable short, but it was really a preview of next week’s title match in which is Sheamus doesn’t win, he will quit. That stipulation convinces me that Sheamus will indeed be ‘fired’ next week, Given that Dolph Ziggler is now on RAW, as we will see later, there is a spot for a heel on Smackdown (well, sort of, they need another big face really), so I think that’s where he’ll be heading, maybe to join Drew McIntyre.

CM Punk vs R-Truth was ok. The main thing I wanted to mention was how welcome a victory with the Anaconda Vice was. Could this point to the match at Wrestlemania being a submission match? Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but I think it would be a good idea for variety. Ryan’s beat-down and shoulder-breaker to Truth was also cool.

As mentioned earlier, Dolph Zigger was, as I predicted, drafted to RAW, and his first match was against John Morrison. This match was ok, but they’re obviously holding a little back. This is a really mouth-watering feud, and a real picture of the future of the company. While I liked their match this week, my point really is that this points to a potentially great feud between the two!

Our main event segment was Cena’s ‘knock-out’ blow to The Rock. Well, it was far from that. Cena’s good at making fun of people (just ask Heath Slater), so it doesn’t need to be through rap. I’ve liked the return of ‘the Doctor of Thuganomics’, but only if he can pull it off, like he did the first time. Cena’s strongest stuff is about the Rock simply not being there, and he did talk about that a lot, and his amended t-shirt was a really cool move, but that was surrounded by an un-fluent, un-clever mess. An optimist might say that the poor quality of the rap might be a sign of a heel-turn, but unfortunately, given the face characteristics (such as the comedy props), I think it was just crap. It was now though that the Miz struck. Attacking Cena with his WWE title twice, Miz went on to deliver a great promo, which culminated in the awesome spot where he started his catchphrase, “because i’m The Miz …” before hitting his Skull-Crushing Finalé to Cena and then, in an unscrupulous affront to The Rock, performing The People’s Elbow to Cena and finishing his promo, “…and i’m AWEEEESOME!” Again, this storyline continues to soar. Though Cena’s promo was poor, the heat being built between him and Rock continues to build and make their eventual encounter seen almost mythical. And though Miz is definitely getting a rub from it all anyway, he is performing at Cena and Rock’s level, if not surpassing them the past couple of weeks. He is being made to seem a real, main event player, and certainly looks like he deserves to be there in every way.