RAW Recall (27/06/2011): CM God

I tweeted earlier in the week (@RTVWOW) that I wouldn’t be writing about RAW this week because I was too  busy to watch live. Well, I somehow manahed to avoid the hoo-haw surrounding Punker and eventually watched RAW last night, and afterwards, obviously, I wanted to add my own two cents. First, however, i’ll warm up by mentioning a few other things from this week’s episode.

It would be remiss to mention Shawn Michaels, whose mark on the show, like everyone else’s, has been overshadowed by Punk. I think he made a good guest host (I guess that’s what he was) and didn’t intrude too much on the action. His interaction with Punk was money, and it is a showdown I think we’d all love to see if HBK wasn’t retired. I liked him superkicking Otunga and McGillicutty but not getting to Punk so he could keep his justifiably confident air he’s carried in recent weeks. What I didn’t like was the part of Michaels’ promo where he said it was impossible to stay away from WWE, and Jerry Lawler suggesting an in-ring return, something completely unfounded, and without any apparent reason other than to confuse the audience. Another thing I didn’t like was his superkick to Drew McIntyre. I was pleased to see McIntyre debut his tweaked schtik to established veterans, Booker T and DDP which came across well, only to be undermined by a superkick by Shawn. After that first seg, Punk was booked in a match with Kane. I was annoyed at that because it’s such a needless use of a Smackdown superstar breaking the brand extension. To be fair though, it shows a problem with the RAW roster – i.e, after Cena, who else could take a dominating babyface spot? Well, nobody really. I loved how Punk sold Kane being a monster though; despite the fact he was doing his job in making Punk look good, Punk helped him out by making him seem a scary prospect again. I liked how Punk walked out of the match because it shows his own confidence and puts over the #1 contender’s status. If he has a spot at the PPV with so much on the line, why is he bothered about wrestling Kane and possibly getting hurt …

Not much needs to be said about Cara-Bourne. It could have been a let-down given all the hype, but it wasn’t. They showcased each other really nicely and Cara showed a great improvement in his in-ring consistency. I hope they give these two a feud-of-respect style thing, eventually turn Bourne heel and give him some mic-time because that’s really what he needs to get over now.

Big Show vs Del Rio in a cage wasn’t a great match in itself, but I did like most of the Mark Henry participation. I was unsure about him ripping the door off, because his botching of that is so well known it didn’t seem that fresh. I liked him busting Show through side of the cage more though. His actions came across as genuinely scary, and at this point, i’m totally sold on Mark Henry as a monster heel. After listening to the fantastic latest podcast from IWantWrestling, I now have a much greater appreciation for Henry as a heel. He’s still not a great worker, but he can be really sadistically mean. They mentioned on the podcast how he once said to Rey Mysterio that he was going to ‘tear off his mask and tear right down to the white meat’, which is a great line, as was one last night when he said to Show, ‘If I charged for air, you’d better pay your bills’. My only problem with this is that it’s another inter-brand feud. It’s saving grace is that Big Show is probably the only person (at least the only babyface) of such a stature to make this so shocking.

Miz has made it as a legitimate main eventer, but, at least with me, he seems to have lost a lot of his fire behind him. Riley seems to be getting over though, so maybe it’s just me (and perhaps Riley will go on to be #2 face). While this was my perception going in to their tag match, and while I thought this week’s booking would be more of the same, I do love tornado tags and this actually became a very good tag match towards the end, with nice storytelling, drama, and a good finish, so I feel Miz, Swaggeer (who I was glad to see was treated seriously), Rey and Riley deserve kudos for that.

The main event, a tables match between John Cena and R-Truth, was ok, but showed how they do slightly lack that explosive chemistry together to make for a great match; as was lacking at Capitol Punishment. The finish to the match was really cool though with CM Punk, wearing a Stone Cold t-shirt moving the table Truth was about to get AA’d through before brawling with Cena and escaping another AA before pushing Cena in front of the table for Truth to spear him through. With a prone Cena, Punk walked up the ramp to the top and entered his familiar sitting down position before delivering one of the most memorable promos in recent history. Indeed, this was the most exciting thing to happen in wrestling since the debut of Nexus, and in terms of the immediate post-show firestorm, it is comparable in terms of the sensation it’s made.

At the start of it, I expected a run of the mill Punk promo (which is actually much better than ‘run of the mill’ anyway), but what we got was truly special, and led to me eventually tweeting that Punk is the greatest professional wrestler in the world right now.

Sitting in a cross-legged, peaceful position, eerily distant from the prone body of John Cena, Punk began spewing righteous hate. One of the first things Punk said was that he didn’t like how Cena got to the top by kissing Vince’s ass, and it was that soon that I knew something special was going on. Still, I thought it would be a limited storyline seed nodding to the cynical fans, but as Punk himself said, he broke straight through the 4th wall, mentioning ‘wrestling’, Hulk Hogan and The Rock (‘Dwayne’) as ass-kissers, Paul Heyman as a good guy instead of a failure, Brock Lesnar, New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor (i.e. the competition), Colt Cobana, Triple H and Steph as bad for the future of the company in their official capacities, John Laurinaitis as a yes man and eventually the shortfalls in Vince’s management. By now, if you’re reading this, you’ll have seen it, so I wont go in to the words too much right now, but you should know, WWE definitely planned it – every word was carefully chosen (notice how TNA wasn’t mentioned?), so it makes it even clearer that everything Punk. It wasn’t just his calling out, out of kayfabe, of big names that made this promo, it was also the sheer truth he spoke. About how he has not gotten the right recognition for his talents, despite consistently showing how good he is as well as voicing what so many think are the problems with the company that are not being solved. I’m making this sound clinical when it wasn’t. In fact, it was the most natural promo i’ve seen in a long time. Jim Ross had some very wise words about it, and PG wrestling, on his website:

“The first thing that must be in place for a promo to be great is that it must be natural ala from the heart and not from memory plus the talent must believe in what they are saying and not simply verbally filling time. Every promo must have a reason for taking place much akin to why most matches occur especially on PPV or in TV main events … Punk’s promo was reminiscent of the Attitude Era but it was totally PG. PG can be edgy but it doesn’t need to travel an uncreative, low road to be attitudinal or cool.”

This too was what was great about Punk’s promo, as well as what is good about the best promos. This is one of those that could be shown as a tutorial promo to any young guys or guys in the back who struggle in that area.

Another reason why this has become such a firestorm is because of the sheer possibilities of it. There are spoilers for next week’s RAW out there, but I have so far managed to avoid them, thankfully! Listening to Dave Lagana’s (@Lagana) latest IWantWrestling podcast, there were a lot of interesting points made, mainly regarding the non-WWE entities Punk mentioned: ROH, New Japan, Colt Cabana, Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar, while insisting that there wasn’t ONE word of that promo that wasn’t calculated. For instance, the fact that the original ECW invasion was almost 10 years ago to the day. Now I don’t think ther’ll be a ROH or New Japan ‘invasion’, but I can imagine Punk taking the WWE title to indy shows for promotions like the two that were mentioned. Indeed, in that vein, i’d love to see Punk winning the title and ‘leaving’ the WWE, referring to himself as an ‘indpendent wrestler’ and actually going to shows while being filmed by gonzo style WWE cameras and defending the title against popular ROH or New Japan wrestlers like MVP or Eddie Kingston, to name but a few. That might seem a bit far-fetched, but so would have Punk’s shoot, especially given the fact that Punk chose his words so carefully. Then you have people like Heyman and Lesnar, who have worked with WWE and come close to doing so again. With books out to promote, could they return and side with Punk? Could Stone Cold fit in to this? Well, his interactions with Punk have been no mistake, which made me think that, possibly he could take on Stone Cold at probably WrestleMania, or rather – seen as that would book two matches of current stars against former stars – a tag match between Cena and Punk against Rock and Stone Cold. Cena’s possible allignment with Punk may seem to make no sense at this point, but based on the one thing i’ve heard about next week (which I wont share), it could make more sense.

These are but a couple of possibilities, but the possibilities seem endless. Another thing is a potential move away from PG and a return of an ‘attitude era’. As JR says, we don’t need PG to end, and it should be remembered that the Attitude era was very much of its time. What it might show, however, is a shift towards being more edgy and unpredictable, giving more of a voice to the talent and really creating more diverse content, and none of that necessitates a change from PG.
All this from one promo, and it really shows the power of the promo in the hands of the right wrestler. I wont speculate much more for now, after all, it was only about six minutes of action – but the excitement it’s generated can only be a good thing!

Many are calling this Punk’s 3:16 moment, and i’m starting to think they’re right. Are the winds of change finally blowing?


RAW Recall (22/06/2011): Power to the Punk

Punk commands the ring and steals the show this week on RAW

Going in to RAW last night, I was worried about the Viewer’s Choice aspect of the episode, given the car crash that last year’s version was; but was excited because I heard that Punk was going to make a huge ‘monumental’ announcement, and I knew Punk would deliver in some way. Having just finished writing up Capitol Punishment, i’m going to try and keep this one a bit more brief. It should be noted that, despite my previous skepticism, the ‘formerly creative’ guys (i.e. people who used to be on WWE Creative) have made it clear that these votes are legit, which is interesting and worth noting.

Punk came out first and simply told he truth: that he has beaten Cena and Rey Mysterio clean, and that he is the best wrestler (yes, he said wrestler!) in the world, which may actually be true. For this reason, he demanded to be named the #1 contender right then and there, and until he did, he was holding ‘an old fashioned sit in’ which evolved in to a snow angel, until an irate GM made him wrestle for it, and in a triple threat match. Great stuff, and there was more to come.

The first match saw the WWE Universe pick Kelly Kelly to take on Brie Bella for the Divas title. Now Cole made a seemingly small but actually big mistake in referring to Kelly as a former champion; this was so bad because a lot of the drama of this match was based on Kelly having never won the title before. Anyway, despite the relatively short length of the match, it was packed with action, and the Bellas again showed me that they are underrated as wrestlers, while Kelly is always improving. The finish came after a reversal of a victory roll from Kelly which was a nice progression and was a good way for Kelly to win the title. And, despite what hardcore wrestling fans might feel, it’s clear that Kelly really cares about her role and loves the business now. In fact, here’s a tweet from former head writer of Smackdown and ECW, David Lagana: “Congrats to @realkellykelly – who started in #ECW as “the dancing girl” and this actually means something to her.” So major props to Kelly Kelly, she’s worked hard and deserves this. She’s the top diva in WWE and if she keeps working, she could be a big big player.

Evan Bourne was out next, which I was excited about because following his outing at Capitol Punishment, he could be at the beginning of a push, and I was even more excited when I saw that Sin Cara was an option. Unfortunately, the Universe picked Mason Ryan (God know’s why!), which may not bode well for Cara, but also didn’t for Evan, as with Ryan being a future major player, he couldn’t lose and couldn’t really show off that much. Evan tried his best with Ryan, and it wasn’t that bad, but just a disappointment given the prospect of Bourne-Cara which I think WWE were pushing.

I have nothing to say about Kane and Mark Henry in an arm-wrestling contest, but I was interested and impressed by Henry’s initial promo, which was competent, confident, and threatening, and secondly, his World’s Strongest Slam to Kane through the announce table, again showing off his dominance. Now Henry goes through phases of being pushed as a monster, and it’s never really worked, so i’ll take it with a pinch of salt, but I think he’d work well at a higher level as a monster.

I was pleased to see a 2 out of 3 falls match on the card because they always have unique stories, and this one was Kofi’s rematch. This was nice, but it being on TV hurt it a little. For one thing, time restraints meant that the first fall was won during the commercial break, which I didn’t like because I think a fall should be shown, especially seen it was done in a nice way with a Zig Zag to the concrete. After a nice bit of back and forth and some nice progressions, Kofi maneuvered in to an SOS for the second fall. For the third fall, Dolph played a classic chickenshit heel nicely, escaping Kofi and going for his belt and the like. I didn’t like the finish though as Ziggler continued in this escapism and eventually coaxed Kingston to a position where he could hit him with a mic and gaining a DQ. Not only don’t I like it because while a DQ usually keeps the title with the champ, it is surely more complicated in a 2×3 falls match; but also because Kofi and Ziggler, good as it is, is getting a bit old, and with this ending, it’s probable that he will have another Kofi-Ziggler title match. I would much rather have seen Dolph win clean, though with dastardly tactic from Vickie, and move on to another challenger. If not Evan (coming off a loss to Ryan), why not bring out a brash Zack Ryder talking about his popularity and that he should have a title shot. I know a lot of people wont have heard of Ryder’s show, but to them it would draw heat because of his arrogance of assuming they know him. One final thing: it is now ridiculous that King continues, as a babyface, and representing a company that supports Be a STAR, to berate Vickie Guerrero for being ‘fat’. While Vickie is on record as saying she is ok with the jokes leveled at her because she is a professional, it is patently ridiculous to stick with the fat jokes. She is now almost as slim as the other divas, and to make that seem not good enough could have bad ramifications for impressionable female viewers.

The next match a fantastic, fantastic match for the #1 contendership between Punk, Del Rio and Mysterio, which was Falls Count Anywhere. Sometimes triple threats can be formulaic, with one guy being down while the others fight, and while that was the case here, the falls count anywhere stip allowed this to be more believable. The real quality of the match was simply on the fast-paced, unpredictable nature of the action, performed by three great wrestlers. I liked the new moves performed by some of the guys: Punk using a powerbomb, and Del Rio using a beautiful German Suplex with a bridge, something i’d like to see him incorporate to his move-set. As a lucha, Mysterio really turned it on, performing lots more exciting and varied lucha spots than usual. My favourite spot though was when Punk ran in to Rey’s lifted feet in the corner and fell, which led to Rey hitting a senton on Punk right up his body from head to toe before getting right to his feet and charging to the other side of the ring before hitting a suicide dive to Del Rio outside the ring. The action was great and surprising, but the drama was really well realised as part of a triple threat match with some pins or submission attempts seeming like sure things, only for the third guy to break it up, from nowhere. The end was like this after Rey hit a 619 and a springboard splash in what seemed like leading to a shock win for Mysterio. At that point, Punk entered the ring, again from nowhere, to send Rey in to the post and steal the pin for major heat and a major victory.

After his victory, Punk went back to his sitting position (which I love!) to speak again. He said that his contract was up, coincidentally, on the 17th July, the night of the Money in the Bank PPV, in his home town of Chicago and threatening to make yet another shocking impact on the WWE Universe by beating John Cena and taking the title with him, out of the company. This was absolutely fascinating for several reasons. First of all, it toyed with the rumours surrounding his genuine contract status (as of now, it is not clear whether he has renewed his WWE contract), and so has an instant ring of truth to it, if not to the casual viewer (who may well believe it anyway given the legalistic way he talked about it: ‘On the 17th of July, my contract with World Wrestling Entertainment expires’ (there’s the W-word again!), than to those who follow his career and frequent the dirt-sheets. Now I doubt his contract does expire on that night, but it would be a good time to go if it is about to expire. It is also interesting because of what could happen if he does win and leave. Could he return with a new belt? Could it signify title unification? It’s impossible to tell right now, but it’s certainly a fascinating dynamic he (and WWE) have created, and it’s built a great deal of interest in the MITB PPV already, which can only bode well for the PPV. I hope he doesn’t go, and WWE and Punk will sure as hell not let any information about his status slip if possible, and they might even slip out some mixed red-herrings to throw us off the scent and make the whole thing even more fascinating.

Our penultimate match featured the exciting new feud of Daniel Bryan and Cody Rhodes, who, as it turns out, were very nearly the guys to wrestle the ‘bonus’ match at Capitol Punishment. Both of these two are top notch, and hopefully future champions, but for the mean time, they managed to put on a nice little match. In the ring, the two darted around, showing off great timing, innovative offense and the sort of energy which makes them great to watch. This match was made different to their recent encounters too by the people’s vote, which made it a No Count match, giving them free reign to grapple outside the ring. Though this wasn’t utilized to its entire potential, it is forgivable given the fact that they had to prepare for 2 other possible stips the Universe could have chosen. What they did do outside the ring was pretty cool, grappling up the ramp, and Bryan hitting a sick looking suplex on to the steel part of the ramp. Back in the ring, Bryan managed to out-wrestle Rhodes to a pin-fall, before countering an attempted attack from Rhodes in to the LaBelle Lock. It was at this point that DiBiase rushed the ring to help Rhodes, apparently solidifying his association with his former Legacy brethren (which had until now remained unclear). This is great because those guys worked together so well in Legacy, and also because it signals a maturation in terms of storyline. Indeed, while these guys are great performers and underrated talkers, what this really needs to explode is a compelling storyline. Rhodes has great heat and Bryan terrific potential as a big-time babyface, so with some sort of personal issue between them, I could see them being a highlight for Summerslam if built properly.

The prospect of appearances from Zack Ryder or Drew McIntyre faded quickly once it was announced that Vickie Guerrero would face off in a dance contest against Cole. This has been criticized because commentators have rightly said that people would rather see Ryder especially than this, and while I agree, I understand why it happened. 3 hour specials are meant to be exactly that: special, and so they are treated as such and feature segs that you wouldn’t usually see on regular RAWs or Smackdowns. Not only that, but comic relief is incredibly important in wrestling, and this certainly provided that. So while I missed Ryder and McIntyre, I appreciated the need for this, especially in a show which lasted 3 hours. Not only that, but I did find it very funny I have to say. So while I would never pick it as a particular thing I want from wrestling, I’m not going to blast it.

The main event was an elimination tag team match pitting Cena, Orton & Alex Riley against R-Truth, Christian & The Miz. Depending on whether you include Miz in this (him being a pretty well established main event star now), there were four ‘new’ main eventers in this match, showing just how hard WWE is working to build future stars. One thing I still hate about Riley is that they’re still dressing him as a heel, him wrestling in his old ‘Varsity Villain’ trunks. The guy’s having no trouble getting over, but don’t hamper him by making him look unlikeable! While I like elimination matches, this one was a little uninspired. Of course, they suffered from the same problem as Rhodes and Bryan, but it was a little uninspiring. I was pleased to see Miz gain the first pin-fall as he’s been getting beat a lot recently, the only problem was that whoever was to lose from the face team, it would be damaging; obviously Cena and Orton, both World Champions and top talents, would have lost out by being pinned, especially seen as neither will be battling him in the future, so it had to be Riley, who can do without any derailments to his push right now. At least it was done after Miz managed to take advantage of Riley being distracted (I suppose mostly neutralizing the derogatory effect on Riley’s rep). Miz himself was next to go, solidifying his recent slump somewhat, but then again, whoever was to go from the heels would have been damaged, and I suppose Miz is the most resilient, being as I say, firmly established at the top, while Christian and Truth are genuinely on the bubble between top and upper-mid card. As is so often the case with these matches, they accelerate incredibly at the finish, and after Truth fell to Orton, Christian capitalized with a Spear to earn a very dear pinfall against the World Champion, supporting even further his claim to another title shot at Money in the Bank. Unfortunately for him, his elated showboating allowed Cena to position himself well to beat Christian which he did soon after with an AA. This led to a ‘feel good’ ending with Cena and Orton together again on RAW, celebrating together with their respective championships. Now Christian pinning the champ was something I really approved of, as it gave Christian a really good foothold to demand another shot at Orton’s title while reinforcing that he can beat the Viper. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much for Truth, who was not even mentioned in the #1 contender’s picture and so is between feuds; as well as the close of the show not seeming very interesting, either in surprise value, or with regard to the MITB PPV. I think I would have preffered it if the match was the same up until Christian pinning Orton. Then, with Cena readying himself for the AA, I would have had the disgruntled Truth come out and hit Cena with his finisher with the ref distracted by Christian/Orton, allowing Christian to pin Cena too (making him look great and also shocking the crowd). Then, after celebrating, Truth and Christian start to beat down the champs. Riley returns to the ring and fends off the heels briefly when Miz appears and finally nullifies him (making both look strong). They beat them down for a while before the faces recover somewhat. Punk’s music hits again, and here comes Nexus. Punk watches as the faces, now completely outnumbered, are destroyed. Christian Killswitches Orton and throws him out while Miz hits another Skull Crushing Finale to Riley and throws him out. This leaves only Cena, who receives a scissors kick from Truth before the Nexus guys pick him up and hold him up in a crucifix-like pose. Punk enters the ring and Nexus place Cena on his shoulders for the GTS before Punk kicks Cena out of the ring and sits down, smirking like he does and the rest of the Nexus salute while the other heels, though visibly a little nervous remain, standing tall. Not only would that make pretty much everyone (and especially the up-and-comers) look strong, but it would create or deepen the personal issues before, which would only bode well for the MITB build, and make Punk seem like an important, dangerous man – as he deserves.

All that aside, I did like RAW, especially given my wariness about P2P. Some nice matches and decent storyline progression, even if the end was a little cookie-cutterish. But again, a 3 hour RAW that didn’t feature Zack Ryder (ridiculous given that he’s proved to be popular with ‘the people’ when given a voice) or Drew McIntyre. Now I realize there are time restraints, especially, funnily enough, for 3-hour dual branded shows, but these guys are being left to stew on their considerable talent at the minute and it must be as demoralizing to them as it is to their fans. In fact, I recently wrrote an article for the Bleacher Report about the problems with 3 Hour RAW, which can be found here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/736815-wwe-why-3-hour-raw-specials-are-usually-bad-and-the-brand-extension-is-good Looking on the bright side, I know Drew has been working on a tweaked gimmick recently while Ryder is apparently turning face – so perhaps they are just being given time to experiment with their new selves before debuting them on RAW. Luckily, RAW is back to just its own roster next week, so they should have a better chance at getting on.

As always, if you liked what i’ve written, check me out on twitter @RTVWOW for opinions on pro-wrestling and live-tweeting of RAW and PPVs.

Capitol Punishment 2011: Little Jimmy Strikes Back

Truth after receiving a soaking from a member of the CeNation

As those of you whoread my preview for Capitol Punshment will know, I was not that excited, relatively speaking, for this PPV. This was something I perceived in the live audience too, who at points, didn’t embellish with enthusiasm lots of actually very good matches. This proves my point about needing to build interest in PPVs so there’s an emotional investment too. The main events, which were built well, got decent reactions from the crowd, especially the main event, but the rest suffered from the near silence at times from the uncooperative DC crowd. I’ve seen a lot of negativity about this PPV, and it seems to me, unjust; for one thing the amazing tron that was constructed for the event as well as the accompanying establishing points about the event being held in DC actually made me invest more in the concept. This could, I imagine, appear to be shoved down our throats though as, again, the actual storylines couldn’t match up to the gimmick, and seemed to be overshadowed.

Match 1) Dolph Ziggler def. Kofi Kingston to Win the WWE United States Championship
This was another clinic from these two in natural chain wrestling. Though Kofi was probably on top for the most part in the first half of the bout, it was often going back and forth, though to Kofi for longer periods. This got over a slightly more clinical ring psychology from Kingston. However, Kingston, ultimately, couldn’t put Ziggler away, hitting him with everything but the Trouble in Paradise and still only getting 2’s. Ziggler’s resiliance made him seem strong, and as the bout continued, he started to get in more offense, with lots of nice, innovative progressions between the two increasingly surrounding their finishing spots. At the second attempt, Ziggler managed to lock in his Sleeper Hold on Kofi, and in a clever way to finish the match, used his foot to bounce away from the bottom rope and stop Kofi from earning the break and knock him out for the victory. With the top of the RAW pile now pretty crowded, I think the best thing to do with Ziggler (undoubtedly a future top champion) is let him keep the US title for a very long time (6-12 months) and build a rep as a legit top guy before moving him on successfully. As for Kingston, he could move on to be a higher face than he currently is, but I still don’t see him in the main event for the time being.

Match 2) Alex Riley def. The Miz
I for one was surprised when I saw Miz placed only second on the card (arguably the worst part of the card), thinking instead he’d be taking up more of a main event type role along with the growing star, Alex Riley. Before hand, Miz cut a nice promo using the steel briefcase as a metaphor for the difference between his career and Riley’s, in a way that made me think one of them (probably Riley) could be a nice shout for the RAW MITB title next month. When Riley came out, he received another big pop, and even more when he was announced as being from DC (which I didn’t even know – that’s set up for a pop!) The match these two had was a brawl, and rightly so. Unfortunately, this meant very few spots or moves stood out. As I say, this makes fair sense, when you hate each other as much as Riley and Miz are supposed to, you wouldn’t perform many stylized maneuvers. The tension of the match grew nicely as it approached its conclusion though, partly due to the role of Cole. After performing an awesome kick to Miz on the outside, using the ropes for leverage, Riley then turned his attentions to Cole, who was berating him as a traitor, and picked up even more pops from the crowd by assaulting Cole. When both competitors were back in the ring, Miz attempted to use the briefcase (a metaphor for the respective status of the two) against Riley, but was stopped by the ref, allowing Riley to use an Impaler DDT (a nod to Edge?) and pick up the win, to the delight of the home-town crowd. Riley winning could make this a quick blow-off, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t continue this at least to MITB, unless they want Riley in the actual MITB match.

Match 3) Alberto Del Rio def. The Big Show
This match was almost exactly as I expected from the point where Show didn’t wait for Del Rio to reach the ring before attacking him from behind and basically beating him up; that is, until Mark Henry made an appearance, and it was one of the most impressive appearances he’s ever made, with a World’s Strongest Slam through the Spanish announce table and then driving his LEFT leg into the remains of the table (though as Maffew of Botchamania rightly pointed out, Rodriguez actually ran over his right leg). Continuity aside, this was a nice and sensible way to create an surprising match that made sense, as well as making Henry seem in the least bit scary again. The rest of the match was based totally on Show selling his injury but refusing to give up, despite being unable to. Del Rio did a great job of acting scared about the potential of Show while showing the sinister chickenshit ingenuity that has made him what he is in the WWE, kicking at Show’s knees to debilitate him, culminating too in an innovative use of cross-leg-breaker. This was the final nail in Big Show’s coffin as he tried and failed several times to get up, and was eventually deemed unfit to continue. This may seem a little underwhelming, but the pity and emotion of these hard-to-watch scenes made for a good story and also made Show a purely sympathetic character for the first time since his return from the accident. It also kept Big Show seeming like an unbeatable figure (at lest in the conventional sense) while making Del Rio seem wily and dangerous again. I think these two will go one more time in a gimmick match before Del Rio gets his shot at Cena at Summerslam.

Match 4) Ezekiel Jackson def. Wade Barrett to Win the WWE Intercontinental Champion
This match started out with a great promo from Wade Barrett that also made up the best build for this match to date, and unfortunately, it came minutes before the match, when it was arguably too late to draw interest in the match. His promo was basically about the Washington setting, and drawing heat based on how the outdated British structure was better than the admittedly imperfect American system. This he did confidently and smoothly, and managed to draw heat from this difficult crowd. The match was better than I expected, and I think Zeke may have incorporated one or two more moves to his set. Barrett was also able made to look stronger than he has been of late, being able to dominate (pardon the pun) Zeke for quite some time before the power of Jackson managed to overpower Barrett with his slams and the torture rack. Nothing too inspiring, but acceptable. I hope now Barrett can move on to the main event (i’d suggest he’d be a great challenger to Orton at Summerslam), so i’d like to see him get his rematch on Smackdown and fail. As for Zeke, like Ziggler (though he has a lot more to prove than Ziggler), i’d like to see Jackson hold the title for a long time and establish himself as a serious guy, whilst adding to the prestige (if Zeke is capable of that) of the Intercontinental Championship.

Match 5) CM Punk def. Rey Mysterio
This match was arguably the show-stealer, and in some ways it’s not surprising; for one thing, Punk and Rey always have great matches, but also because WWE seem to be doing whatever they can to keep him on board, and so are happy to give him a bigger spot and more time in his matches. It’s not like they did anything that new, but they did the best of what they do do in this match and put together a well thought out match with some great chemistry. There was a noticeable change in Punk though, constantly seeming to be in control even when Rey had some offense. Towards the end of the match we saw some innovative ways to set up finishers. Firstly, Punk tried to utilise his roundhouse that he’s been using as a finisher recently, and in doing so, Rey ducked the first one, but Punk span all the way around, kept his balance, and hit the roundhouse for a nice near-fall. As for Rey, he hit his 619 to Punk while Punk was on the apron, thus knocking him out of the ring. It was a further 619 attempt that brought about the finish as Punk ducked and gathered Rey on his shoulders before hitting a huge GTS for the clean victory! This may not have done much for Mysterio’s current reputation, but it sure made Punk loo good, especially for a heel. I have no idea what’s next for Mysterio – I see him as probably entering a feud with an upper-midcard guy; maybe Ryder? As for Punk, I only see him going up the card, and am especially excited about his ‘special announcement’ tonight on RAW (we all remember what faction debuted at last year’s Viewers Choice!) as well as his claim that this summer will be ‘the summer of Punk’. I see a title shot in his near future, especially if he is enticed in to signing a new contract.

Match 6) Randy Orton def. Christian to Retain the World Heavyweight Championship
Our first main event was Orton vs Christian, and as I thought, this changed the dynamic of their matches with Christian working as a heel though Christian didn’t necessarily commit many heelish acts. I don’t think, however, that this particularly helped the match. That’s not to say I didn’t like that match, it was still very good, but I think it was a rung below their previous encounter (though comparing it to that MOTY candidate match is a little unfair). This was another match between two guys with excellent chemistry who gave us a lot of nice progressions and believable near falls. The story of this match, specifically, though was surrounding Orton’s concussion, and indeed, as the match went on, Orton started to seem more groggy, and especially after Christian hit one of his new big moves, the spinebuster and followed up with some hard shots. At that point, he genuinely looked out of it, and Orton sold so well that I actually worried if he’d re-inflamed his genuine concussion. As the match continued, Orton managed to get a foothold in the match again and the two started to dance around their respective finishers. Christian managed to hit his signatures including the Spear, which too came about after a nice progression of them trying to hit their finishers. Orton kicked out of the Spear in what was a great and convincing near-fall. This made Christian distraught, something Orton’s cool head may have taken advantage of; jumping over Orton from the top rope, Christian turned around straight in to an RKO for the victory. Interestingly, when he was being pinned, Christian’s foot was clearly under the bottom rope, and while complaining to the referee, Randy Orton got his revenge for Christian’s cheap belt shot by doing the same to Christian. In fact, I have a feeling this will justify another title match in some way for Christian, before Captain Charisma makes way for a new challenger for Summerslam, but we’ll have to wait until Smackdown to be sure.

Match 7) Evan Bourne def. Jack Swagger
Another example of lack of build hurting a match, and this one struggled particularly hard seen as it was announced minutes before it began, even if WWE did make clear that it was a ‘bonus’ match. The crowd, on the wane towards the end of the show weren’t going to react to these two who were wrestling apropos of almost nothing. I actually really liked the match too, which makes the lack of build even more of a shame because it could have really got both guys over. Nonetheless, I thought Evan looked great here, and had the time to show off the best of what he can do, and he flourished. Swagger looked good and strong too, but he was more solid when compared to Bourne’s extravagance . Towards the end, Swagger started to look insurmountable, but Bourne stayed in it, sticking and moving with his high-flying arsenal, and at the finish, there was some really nice chain wrestling that ended in a roll up for what was arguably a shock victory for Bourne.

Now throughout the night, the Obama impersonator was actually a pleasant surprise, and I think it was because he actually does that professionally. When I first saw him, I was worried that we’d have a replay of some of the shitty matches between famous impersonators (Trump-O’Donnell springs to mind!) but luckily the Obama impersonator didn’t get in the ring, and his segs were short and pretty funny, getting his secret service guys to remove Vickie Guerrero from his presence, his satire-come-WWE themed speech at the end, and most funnily, when Santino offered to show Obama his Cobra before getting tackled by the secret service guys. I thought it was really funny, didn’t step on the toes of the action, and fitted the theme of the show.

Match 8) John Cena def. R-Truth to Retain the WWE Championship
Regarding this match, the show opened with the best promo i’ve ever seen about the cult of John Cena; the fans in an indistinct sea of red, following him, imitating him, supporting his success at the expense of others. Great build for the match, the PPV and Truth himself. I would say, however, that the match didn’t quite live up to the billing, though it was a good match. There wasn’t much great action during this match, but it was solid and very natural seeming. One aspect I liked was when Truth started to dance like he did when he was face, but taking on a sinister atmosphere, as if he was doing it knowing how that sort of stuff used to hold him back. It was a nice bit of storytelling. The last section of the match was good, with Truth hitting his finishers and really making me believe that he could win. Cena kicked out, but Truth stayed on him. The actual finish, however, was more divisive I imagine. I like the idea of a ‘Little Jimmy’ getting his revenge by throwing a drink in Truth’s face. I didn’t like how that was part of the finish though. It seemed a little bit of a cheap victory for Cena and marred the victory somewhat and made it seem less decisive – something that would usually lead to a further match but apparently isn’t seen as CM Punk is the new #1 contender. Decent match, but certainly not the best of the night.

Overall, a good PPV. Not really a bad match on the card, even if things like Zeke-Barrett wasn’t particularly spectacular. A bit of a clinical, cookie cutter finish for Cena, and if people were slightly disappointed with the final shots of the show, I wouldn’t blame them, but those few minutes shouldn’t mar the entire rest of the PPV.

Capitol Punishment Preview and Predictions, 2011

WWE Capitol Punishment, Verizon Center, Washington DC, 19/06/2011

Capitol Punishment is just a name. I think, ultimately, it is doomed to failure, eventhough there are some nice stories going in to it and there are some fresh prospects (mainly R-Truth as a main player and a heel Christian). The build has all been about the fact that it takes place in DC, but what effect does this have on the action once it’s underway? Nothing. It’s empty branding, and although I found the press conference videos quite funny, I think the government-based build has affected the build for many of the matches. I’ll talk about this more with the individual matches, but I will say we might be looking at a new record low for buys, eventhough I hope it doesn’t come to that. Also, of the possible matches that may be announced on the night, I think The Usos might be thrown a tag team title match after the Smackdown announcers made the connection after their victory over Slater and Gabriel, and i’d be really in to that (especially if it led to a genuine storyline). If not, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the hot prospects of Cody Rhodes, Sin Cara, Ted DiBiase and Daniel Bryan in the ring in some combination, or a divas match as they shouldn’t really be left off the cards (God knows who would wrestle though!).

Match 1) Intercontinental Championship Match: Wade Barrett (c) vs Ezekiel Jackson
I  like Wade Barrett, but I have no time for Big Zeke for the time being, and this is a match i’m not particularly looking forward to, though I hope to be surprised. My lack of intrigue is because the build has been minimal really being centred around the split of the Corre (eventhough that was minimal anyway) and throwing each guy together in booking, and for that reason, they haven’t really been able to build up any tension. This mixed with the very limited skills of Ezekiel Jackson will make this a bit of a dull match. It is also the most predictable: after losing in various ways to Barrett, but after the Corre left Barrett’s side, I don’t see how Barrett can go over, though it is a shame the IC title, held by Steamboat, Savage, Hennig, Piper, Owen Hart, Jericho and other great wrestlers, will be held by Ezekiel Jackson. Nonethless, they’ll go out first as relatively big names where a babyface will go over to set a nice tone for the night. My hope is that after losing the IC title (if he does), Barrett will be freed to make his way to the role of a top heel on Smackdown.

Winner: Ezekiel Jackson

Match 2) CM Punk vs Rey Mysterio
When Punk and Rey work together, their is usually a good match on the way, but I don’t understand why it’s happening again. This sums up a big problem with some of the matches on the card in that it has absolutely no build other than the fact that they ‘have history’. Indeed, we’ve already seen them wrestle on TV! At least, as I say, this should be a good match, but the lack of build also makes it difficult to predict (a good thing? I guess, but for the wrong reasons). I am backing Punk though, partly because Mysterio won out when they last met, and partly because I imagine WWE will want to keep Punk sweet for the time being; trying to keep him with the company. Hopefully they can both move on after tonight, though a heel victory often complicates a blow-off.

Winner: CM Punk

Match 3: United States Championship Match: Kofi Kingston (c) vs Dolph Ziggler
Both of these guys are, most probably, going to be part of the next generation of WWEs top guys, and to me, I would think that the winner of this match could be the guy on the shortest road to the top. This match is one i’m actually looking forward to; Kofi and Dolph have worked together in the past with great chemistry. Both guys are very athletic and we will see a lot of quick, hopefully unpredictable action, and could even be one of the best matches of the night. Now I hope, though I don’t expect, that two other guys who have wrestled Kingston recently: Drew McIntyre or Zack Ryder, get involved in some way, because both deserve that spot. Unfortunately like the Punk-Rey match, there seems to be very little build here, and if there was, it was not directly with Kingston, and for this reason, like the Punk-Rey match, it is hard to predict. As I say, I think the guy that wins this will be the guy closer to the front of WWEs minds, and for that reason, I think Ziggler is the slight favourite. While Kinston’s reign has been of acceptable length, given the fact that Ziggler is (technically) a former World Champion and seems to be someone WWE have wanted to experiment with (i.e, the hair-dying disaster), means he seems to be slightly higher up the ladder.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Match 4) The Big Show vs Alberto Del Rio
This match didn’t mean much too me until this week, but this week, the build was achieved much better, especially (though they really shouldn’t have been there) on Smackdown. Big Show has become this unstable, unpredictable and incredibly violent man, and scarily so. This has manifested in his brutal assaults on both Ricardo Rodriguez and Mark Henry. Despite the fact that the initial coming together of these two now seems like a special event, and one that is anticipated, at least by me, it is hard to imagine this as a long, involved match. Big Show wrestling wouldn’t make much sense, he can only behave as he has been in the last couple of weeks; so while I am looking forward to this confrontation, I don’t see it being a long, and in a way, I don’t see it being very satisfying. What I mean by this is that I think this match will be intentionally unsatisfying for the right reasons regarding storylines. Without Rodriguez to handicap Show, I see Big Show just beating down Del Rio, not caring about the match itself as much as getting his hands on Del Rio, and will get himself DQ’d very quickly. This I think will lead to a gimmick match (anything from a simple No DQ stipulation to a possibly appropriate Parking Lot Brawl) at Money in the Bank. It may not be very satisfying, but it will be interesting and compelling. For this to work though, Del Rio will have to cut a despicable promo beforehand to make sure no sympathy comes his way (Show has had a recent habit of beating down heels in a seemingly unfair way).

Winner: Alberto Del Rio

Match 5) World Heavyweight Championship Match: Randy Orton (c) vs Christian
This is the match I am most looking forward to. Though WWE hasn’t done a great job of building for the matches lower down on the card, the two/three matches that would be considered the main events of the show have been built nicely, and this one has arguably been built the best, simply because all of the emotions involved are completely understandable. Christian has taken Orton to his limit in title matches over the last few months, and has a legitimate gripe regarding how he lost his dream title whereas Orton has only behaved as any superstar should, jumping at the chance to hold the title, while doing that in, from his perspective, a fair way, not cheating Christian out of the title, even if Teddy Long arguably did. As i’ve mentioned, the matches these two have had have been excellent and they’ve gelled perfectly, which is why i’m looking forward to this match so much, and especially so given that this will be fought with a slightly different story given that Christian is now heel. As for the winner, i’ve found it hard to predict. Christian as a heel persona will possibly make this his best chance yet to take his title back, but it is also the case that, if he loses, he will be completely out of the title picture, which possibly seems premature. I’ve based this prediction based on the booking ramifications of either result, something the relative lack of depth on the Smackdown roster makes easier. If Christian wins, Orton would get a rematch at MITB but probably lose, and then who would take on Christian at Summerslam? Daniel Bryan? Sin Cara? While I can see them main event at some point soon, I don’t see that being at Summerslam. On the other hand, if Orton wins, he goes on to defend againsty a new heel, which I can imagine more; someone like Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, or Jinder Mahal, for example. I also think they’d rather have one of their top top guys hold the title for a while longer and especially through Summerslam, so for that reason, I see Orton ending this feud tonight.

Winner: Randy Orton

Match 6) The Miz vs Alex Riley
I don’t quite understand it, but Alex Riley has gotten remarkably over since splitting with The Miz. In fact, maybe his success has come from a rub from beating up The Miz, who is undoubtedly now the top heel in the company. Both these guys are sound in the ring, and i’m sure their history will make for a good in-ring storyline, even if I must admit to not being quite so interested in it as others seem to be. I have no doubt Riley will be working his ass off to get over further and show that he can handle a big-time match with a top guy. Now when I first thought about this, I thought Riley was the favourite to go over, making him seem like a strong guy. Then I started to worry about Miz seeming weak, especially after he has been on a bit of a bad streak starting with dropping the WWE title to Cena, which would only get worse if he lost to Riley the next month. Not only that, but I think this is being considered a big feud, and that a Riley win would make it hard to continue this, so here’s how I think it will go. Riley will look very strong against Miz, being able to match him in the ring and maybe even starting to look like he could beat his former mentor. That is, until Miz realises the jeopardy he is in and does something really quite low down to beat Riley – a low blow or something equally cheap. The victory would keep Miz looking like a resourceful big-time heel, while showing the potential and strength of Alex Riley and keeping their feud running towards Summerslam.

Winner: The Miz

Match 7) WWE Championship Match: John Cena (c) vs R-Truth
This is perhaps the most intriguing prospect on the card, which is a good thing for the main event! Truth has a genuinely unpredictable edge to him now, so i’m hoping for something surprising during this match from Truth in terms of sheer sinister aggressiveness. I think, given that Truth seems to be a pet project or WWE currently means that he’ll be given the time to show what he can do. There was a part of me that thought and even wanted Truth to win (something completely unfamiliar to me, and possibly to you guys depending on what i’ve written in the past right here), simply for the fresh, shock value of the event. I am, however, now of the opinion that Cena is quite a strong candidate for the winner here. This is partly because of Cena’s claim that he hopes to keep the title going in to WrestleMania, and partly because of the rumours that Del Rio will be facing Cena for the title at Summerslam, something i’d absolutely love to see and would be a fitting Summerslam main event. This doesn’t mean that Cena has to win clean of course – there would also be the option of Truth winning by count-out or maybe Cena winning by DQ. This would be a way of keeping Truth in the title picture for Money in the Bank without him winning the title, but it would be a slightly underwhelming way for the PPV to go off-air unless it was done in a legitimately shocking way. Unfortunately, I see this being the most likely course of events: R-Truth getting frustrated and attacking Cena illegally leading to a second match and a blowoff at MITB.

Winner: John Cena

So there is a lot of potential in this PPV with most of the matches, but by the time some of the matches have spoken for themselves, it will be too late to attract buys, and just goes to show the importance of proper build for PPV matches, and possibly even further, the need for slightly fewer PPVs on the calendar. I hope you all enjoy it though! I will be live-tweeting about it tonight @RTVWOW so gimme a follow.

Smack of the Week (17/06/2011): Orton Shows His Power, But Not In a Match

Orton puts Sheamus as Smackdown closes

The first match that aired on this week’s Smackdown was a re-match from RAW pitting Sin Cara, Daniel Bryan & Ezekiel Jackson against Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase & Wade Barrett. These guys have been tearing it up of late and i’ve really enjoyedtheir matches (Zeke aside). Thiw was another quality match, though it did seem to have lost a bit of the cutting edge that has been apparent in their earlier matches, perhaps because they’ve been booked together for so long. Nonetheless,there weres some nice moments. Early on, with Sin Cara charging him, Rhodes connected with a perfectly timed Beautiful Disaster. Otherwise, Ted DiBiase had some nice progressions with Sin Cara while Daniel Bryan showed his intense aggressiveness well in the ring, darting about and making heavy contact with his opponents. It was, in fact, Bryan who scored the ‘pin’ in this match, after hitting a huge clothesline to DiBiase followed by a brutal dropkick in the corner. With DiBiase down, Bryan went for the cover and indeed got the three at a seemingly slightly unnatural time and despite the fact that DiBiase seemed to kick out just in time. At first I thought this was a botch, but I’m not so sure now given that WWE decided to highlight the incident and the announcers questioned the decision. Maybe this was just to cover their asses, and if so kudos, but I hope that indeed it is a storyline thing (or at least something that can evolve in to one), because while i’ve enjoyed this feud, it has been lacking a storyline which would make it a PPV-worthy match, something all involved (again, bar Zeke) deserve.

Next up was the exciting prospect of Jinder Mahal to take on Vladimir Kozlov. My first reaction was to Mahal’s music, which I think has been changed or tweaked and toned down somewhat. It’s not quite as sinister and has lost the chanting. Despite that, it’s still good. Mahal is on his way up, and Kozlov isn’t, and so this was something of a squash. At least Kozlov took a lot to get beaten, receiving a bit of a pithy chop from Khali before walking in to Mahal’s full nelson slam finisher. Kozlov also essentially jobbed on RAW. Without Santino, you’d have to wonder where he’d be in his career. As for Mahal, he continues to look strong, but he’s the sort of guy who needs to enter a proper feud soon, prabably after Capitol Punishment.

When Big Show came out, I was initially pretty unhappy seen as he’s a RAW guy, but I have to admit, the build that came out of his angles on Smackdown was the best his and Del Rio’s feud has received. First off, Show was interviewed in the ring, and he did a good job of coming across as still in shock from being ran down and unable to express his fury about what happened. This was followed by an impromptu match with Mark Henry, a match which didn’t actually get going because despite the fact that Show didn’t seem to want to, he seemed compelled to attack Henry as he entered the ring, beating him down brutally and eventually straight knocking him out, to the point where he had to be carried up the ramp on a stretcher. Seems like Henry’s push is over! Later on, feeling safe because Teddy Long had threatened to fire Del Rio if he used such violence again, Del Rio came out threatening Show, talking – interestingly – about how Ricardo Rodriguez is his best friend and how he would spit in Big Show’s face if he saw him. He did see him sooner than he thought as he came out to face Del Rio. Luckily for both of them, Del Rio flew to the stands and left alone, Show, after breaking the bottom rope upon entering the ring, started defacing the ringside area Nexus style, tearing the announce booth apart and picking up and throwing down the barricade (remarkably). This violence, when not happening to Del Rio, only makes up anticipate their match more. We were left with this image of violent carnage with Del Rio looking down from the stands, looking understandably worried about his immediate future, which was a great image building for the PPV.

The divas match was ok but regrettably short. I liked the finish though, with AJ going for a crucifix pin, but because of her size, only receiving a Samoan Drop for the loss to Tamina. I liked this because, despite the fact that AJ was probably the best wrestler out there, it told a story of her and Kaitlyn being green (which Kaitlyn is) and being in the process of being taught by Natalya. What is needed, however, is for these divas to stop being booked together and for them (especially AJ and Kaitlyn) to be entered in to a proper storyline.

The tag team division received a boost when The Usos were given their first serious match in a very long time against the newly Corre-less team of Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater. These two teams had a pretty nice match, but I was kinda surprised to see the Usos working as faces against the newly free Slater and Gabriel (thinking that them leaving Barrett would get them pops). This was one of the first tag matches i’ve seen in a while that was wrestled as a tag match, with specific tag spots. Both teams worked this well and really impressed me, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that The Usos went over – not because I dislike Slater and Gabriel, but because they’ve had a good spot for some time while the Usos haven’t, and they did so in style. Their throw into a Samoan Drop is amazing and following that we saw a Superfly Splash for the victory. Hopefully these guys get to keep working together and with the tag champions as well. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but suddenly there is a tag division emerging, and maybe this could be the start of something good for the division.

Our main event was Christian against Sheamus in a match which would place Sheamus in to the main event at Capitol Punishment if he won. I thought Sheamus was a lock for this – partly because Orton was not yet cleared to wrestle Sunday, and partly because it’s odd to provide the opportunity for that sort of stipulation without pursuing it. The match itself was unspectactular in terms of moves and spots, but had a very natural back and forth and some nice progressions. The real intrigue came from Randy Orton being at ringside. This manifested early when Christian was dumped out of the ring and was confronted (unphysically) by Orton; this put Christian off his game and he walked in to a kick from the Celtic Warrior. Orton also took a closer look at several other points in the match, sending a message to both, but mostly, obviously, Christian. The finish of the math was pretty good, as with Orton looking on, there was a scramble to hit finishers, which started after Christian seemed to look for the Spear (his use of the move now seeming very sinister, rather than euphoric like it was when he was a face). Neither man was successful however, in hitting their respective finisher. The finish came, instead, when Sheamus was, again, distracted by Orton’s presence while he was going for a superplex. This distraction allowed Christian to slip loose and push Sheamus on to the actual ring post which knocked him out and gained Christian the pin. The only problem I had with this was i’d have liked to see Sheamus stumble in to a Killswitch, just to make his loss seem less weak (not that he seemed that way, but this would have helped even more). Following the victory, Christian was forced to flee after Orton charged the ring. Staring Christian down, Orton familarly realised that Sheamus was still in the ring and he went to take his frustrations out on Sheamus (as well as do what he likes best: hurt people). Orton was successful at hitting the punt on Sheamus, which was another thing that sort of surprised me, simply because a punt usually means at least a month away from the ring, so it will be interesting to see whether this is an angle or whether Sheamus is injured. Anyway, like with Big Show and Del Rio, the amping up of tension as well as the rejection of the confrontation made for great build for the PPV.

Don’t forget, if you enjoyed this post, my thoughts can also be found in bite-size form on twitter, where I give my reactions to current wrestling events as well as live-tweeting RAW and PPVs. If that interests you, you can find me at @RTVWOW

RAW Recall (13/06/2011): Truth Pours Cold Water Over An Allstar RAW

Truth adds insult to injury with his customary bottle of water

First out was The Miz to cut on Stone Cold and Alex Riley in what was a convincing and engaging promo, demanding an apology (with some justification) from Austin for his assault on him last week when he was an official, saying that he was indeed calling the Rattlesnake out. Austin didn’t have to be asked twice. Now I don’t know whether i’ve said this publicly before, but i’ve always thought Austin was always an overrated talker, but this time, I was very entertained by his words and delivery, telling Miz in his own foul-mouthed way that though he respected Miz’s achievements, it was his time to talk, and if Miz knew what was good for him, he would let him and leave the ring – which Miz (a great coward heel, remember) did. Austin wasn’t given peace though, as Alberto Del Rio came out next to interrupt Stone Cold, where he too managed to flourish, but it was a move which only landed him a match with the tag team partner of the man he injured (accidentally or not) with his car, Kane.

That match was next and was ok, but it was really meant as an angle to further his feud with Big Show and,o a lesser extent, Kane. Del Rio managed eventually to contain the rage of the Big Red Machine, getting him in to his cross arm-breaker. Kane reached the ropes, but Del Rio showed no mercy, not relinquishing the hold after 5 and earning himself a DQ but a statement to him and Show of his power. This was a message Show apparently heard as he ran as fast as i’ve ever seen him to the ring – surely he should have been selling his knee injury more! Nonetheless, the intensity of their coming together was believable and compelling, especially when Show turned his attentions to Ricardo Rodriguez, repeatedly pounding him in the head until he was completely unconscious. This therefore had multiple levels of build for the PPV match which was made immediately afterward, with Del Rio showing some brutally evil traits with his armbar attack on Kane, while the emotion of Big Show came across well to set up the classic money-maker of wanting to see the bastard heel punished by the unstoppable face of justice.

Following this was another nice match featuring Sin Cara and Daniel Bryan against Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, but this time with Ezekiel Jackson and Wade Barrett joining each team respectively. It wasn’t as long a match as their other outings and the inclusion of Big Zeke in a match with such otherwise refined talents didn’t help all that much. Nonetheless another eminently watchable match with these players, this time ending with a Sin Cara springboard-crossbody. One of the many things i’ve liked about Sin Cara has been that he’s won matches with many movessaving his match finishes from ever being predictable. What he needs now is to continue the current programme he’s in with AmDrag, Rhodes and DiBiase, but with some more of a personal issue injected therein. As for Zeke and Barrett, this was just more of them in the ring together (though not one-on-one) Not great build, but I guess it keeps them associated in memory.

Sheamus-Santino was ok for what it was. The real interest here came from the pushing of Sheamus’s power in the ring. Though Santino looked good at points, Sheamus was booked to overshadow him, even kicking out of the Cobra (the first ever person to – yes, kicking out of the Cobra is impressive given how it’s been booked!) before making Santino submit with the addition of a Cloverleaf – a welcome addition to Sheamus’s arsenal going forward as it adds a new dimension to his move-set, maturing it somewhat and equipping him to only become more impressive as he already is.

Out next was Randy Orton returning to RAW where he called out Christian under the guise of just wanting to talk. Christian didn’t bite and appeared on the tron, which Randy admitted was wise. Christian followed up with his best promo for a long time, saying he would only do something if he wanted to from now on, and asking the WWE Universe to poll whether he should come out, before refusing to do what they requested – a nice play on how he lost the World Title to begin with. Orton however managed to coax Christian out by taunting him with the charge of being carried by Edge. Before Orton could get his hands on Christian though, the RAW GM chimed in, claiming that Orton had a concussion and that he would be stripped of his title if he got physical with Christian. This was great build because it really amped up the tension while holding back the actual fighting for the PPV. These two really are great together. Christian didn’t escape action though, as he was made to take on Rey Mysterio immediately. This was fine, but apparently another angle-based match as after not too long Christian was DQ’d for not breaking a foot choke by 5 (though it looked very close – a mistake?) This was followed by the approach of the New Nexus with Mason Ryan eventually managing to get to Rey, despite some admirable fighting, and thrust him in to the ring-post before a predatory Christian would hit the Killswitch for added insult.

Earlier on, GM-Austin had punished R-Truth for an attack on Hornswoggle by booking him against someone his own size, John Morrison, something which surprised me given Morrison has just undergone surgery and would have recovered almost instantly. When Morrison was introduced, no one came out, and when R Truth, who got over as incredibly threatening, went to find Morrison, he eventually found him in a heap, seemingly beat up by Truth, and he added extra pain to Morrison’s experience, by absolutely crushing him with a storage crate. This was great because it makes Truth seem crazy and legitimately dangerous, keeps Morrison on-screen during his recovery, and provides us with a readymade feud when Morrison returns.

There was some nice play from Austin backstage as he made Ziggler admit he would drop Vickie Guerrero for a US title shot. On the plus side for Ziggler, he doesn’t have to drop Guerrero, but on the other hand, Vickie now knows she is a low priority for Ziggler. He and Jack Swagger then tagged against Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne. Another short one, but one I was glad to see Bourne shine in as he hit a shooting-star press for the victory.

Piper’s Pit with Miz and Alex Riley followed. Riley needs to stop wearing suits – HE LOOKS LIKE A HEEL … AND THE MIZ (just a niggling point there). Piper was another highlight for the show, really showing why he is considered arguably the best talker ever, giving A-Ry a rub and bamboozling Miz with his classic line “Just when you think you know all the answers, I change the questions.” This led to Miz berating Piper in retaliation, challenging him to a match with $5000 on the line from each man, which he would wrestle in his suit. Of course, that sort of stipulation meant that the resulting match would only go one way, especially once Austin made A-Ry the special guest ref. It was limited due to Piper’s age, but he can definitely still go and after Riley became a very physical referee, Miz retaliated, which allowed Riley to attack Miz who was knocked backwards, rolled up by Piper and pinned quickly for the loss. Cool segment, and did an ok job of building Miz-Riley, even if Riley wasovershadowed by the other two.

Before the main event there was a fantastic backstage segment between Stone Cold and CM Punk, a meeting which was highly anticpated by many wrestling fans following their twitter (kayfabe one must think) war of words. Indeed, Punk and Austin were excellent together, playing off each other’s completely opposite lifestyles. Punk using Austin’s ‘What?’ chant against him while Austin offered Punk a beer comically before calling him Punk in a more serious, Eastwood-esque ‘Punk’ and leaving.

The main event was the only match of the night given decent time, and it certainly delivered in terms of quality and PPV build. The crowd were seriously wild for this match, which always helps; the main chant being ‘Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks’. Punk and Cena always have decent chemistry, and that was the case again this week, but Punk was given an awful lot of offense, and performed it as sinisterly as he could – one point standing out where he had Cena in an abdominal stretch while twisting Cena’s ears and headbutting him. Punk followed this up with some nice dive attacks from the apron to the floor and then to top rope to the floor. Just as Cena started to recover towards the end of the match, however, R-Truth reappeared on the scene, approaching a ‘little Jimmy’ and offering him a trade of a Cena hat for a trade of water. This was brilliantly sinister, not only because the child seemed in danger generally, but also because of the violent associations Truth has with water (it’s both hilarious and brilliant that that works without being stupid!). This distracted Cena, and rightfully so, and so he tried to warn the kid off Truth, but this only let Punk recover to the point where he could hit a GTS to Cena for the win, a good sign for Punk. Following this, Truth entered the ring, telling Cena how he’d take his title on Sunday before using his water against him, hitting his Cool Shot finisher, and holding the WWE title above him.

Now, while I liked RAW, there were two omissions I didn’t like. The first one is Drew McIntyre. How is that he can’t get on a 3 hour RAW? Well it’s because 3 hours isn’t enough for showing the mid-lower card of both brands. Indeed, I will be writing on the subject of 3 hour specials for the Bleacher Report soon. Keep an eye on my twitter @RTVWOW for that. Hopefully his absence can be explained by him simply working on his new ‘American Nightmare’ character before returning to TV, but its a shame that he didn’t get a spot.

Even worse though was the baffling choice not to book Zack Ryder on the show, not even backstage! RAW came from Long Island, and so it would seem that featuring him, after he’s gotten himself over and after he was featured last week, not in Long Island. A lot of WWE talents and even more fans have spoken out against this mistake (that’s what it is unless they plan to make a weird storyline out of it). I don’t really have much more to say about this: Ryder is over, and got a huge pop for his Superstars match as he’s in his home town and has been seen on TV recently; and yet he was forgotten about. It’s easier to get it right than wrong and WWE somehow got it wrong.

A Couple of Thoughts, Previews and a Promise

The last week or two has been chaos for me, and so i’ve had to take a little hiatus from writing. I considered writing a post about Smackdown, but i’m exhausted from traveling.

I can, however, promise to be back on my game for this week’s RAW and onwards. I WILL live-tweet RAW, and write a review etc, and continue on in that vein. That said, to whet your whistle, here’s some thoughts on Smackdown and a preview of tomorrow’s RAW.

Christian confirmed his heel-turn with his promo to start out the show. I liked it, but it didn’t seem to really have the full desired effect on the audience for the most part – there was booing, but it wasn’t huge heat. This built, perhaps with the help of the Cole serving as an intermediary between Christian and the audience. Ultimately, I think Christian will get over as a heel, but given his recent popularity, it will have to build gradually. Lets just hope WWE give him the time. The way in which he left the arena before again blindsiding Orton was some nice and classic heel work. I just wish after taking the belt backstage last week, he had kept possession of it, claiming it was rightfully his.

An interesting tid-bit regarding Teddy Long came when he seemed to be gambling while backstage. I wonder if it’s the seeds of a storyline?

Nice to see the Uso get some TV time and look good. As for the Corre, it seems over in its current form. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, to see Barrett with more associates going forward. If not, his dropping the IC title is all but confirmed.

As for RAW, I don’t like the idea of the 3-hour All Star episode. I just think 3 hour episodes should be saved for genuinely memorable or special occasions, and this doesn’t seem to be one. In fact, it seems to be a very unclear idea about featuring both brands, something I don’t like because I think they should be separate, especially so soon after the draft.

I’d like to see Booker T continue a feud with Jack Swagger. I think it’s a good idea for Swagger and could be justified by Booker being there for the All Stars episode.

I want to see CM Punk move on from Rey Mysterio, perhaps to Evan Bourne? and I want to see Del Rio more prominent than he has been. He could have a good, emotional feud with Big Show after the accident, but more has to be made of it. I will also be disappointed if I don’t see Drew McIntyre in some form. If he’d have stayed in Smackdown, he could have been a top heel, so it would be a real shame for him to go nowhere on RAW.

RAW this week is in Long Island, so i’d be surprised if we didn’t see Zack Ryder on RAW in some way. He lost to Kofi Kingston last week, but at least that associates him with the US champ. I would love to see Ryder gain a title shot for Capitol Punishment in some way.

I want to see R-Truth staying the same as he has been of late basically. He has built for a pretty decent Capitol Punishment main event and has been one of the more unique elements of the company recently. The same basically goes for Miz and Riley.