I liked that the show started out with Triple H coming out first to again mark his territory, and his appearing on Smackdown made the show at least seem in the same league to RAW for once. HHH didn’t actually say much though, other than announcing that the title situation on RAW would be addressed on RAW. Instead, he served as the epicentre of proceedings, with Christian, R-Truth and John Morrison interacting around him, being directed by his legitimate authentic character. Christian came out to try and curry favour with the boss, only for this to backfire as Trips booked Orton’s rematch for Summerslam against Christian and made it, to Christian’s chagrin, a no holds barred match. R-Truth came out threatening to take ‘action’ on RAW if HHH didn’t address the conspiracy against his, though ultimately, this seemed like a pretty contrived way to book Truth on the show.
To punish Christian for interrupting him, The Game put him in a match with John Morrison. This was a pretty good match between the two, especially seen as it was apropos of nothing. The story of this match was mostly based around Morrison’s recent neck injury and surgery. Morrison got a bit more offense in on Christian than I would like considering he was against the World Champion. I would have liked it to have been a bit more even. It made Christian seem a bit weaker than is necessary. Nonetheless, it was good that Morrison looked good, and the story and finish of the match was really well thought out. Morrison missed Starship Pain and was hot-shotted on the ropes, allowing Christian to hit the Killswitch and pick up the win.
I liked Zack Ryder as Teddy Long’s assistant. It was a good way to get him on TV. I do, however, hope that it was a one-night thing. As a character, he works better for RAW, and, while having a strong on-screen character, also needs to wrestle at the same time to get over. Without the latter, he will struggle to get over as a serious competitor.
Wasn’t too keen on Barrett banging on about paychecks. I know he’s a heel, but I don’t like it when any wrestler talks about it in those terms; if they’re not bothered about respect, it should be championships they desire, and possibly the lifestyle of ‘sports entertainment’, but if they just want the money, it seems to miss the point of even being there. This especially irritated when he was talking about the WrestleMania main event – something which should mean something to all wrestlers. I realise this is meant to bring him heat, but it didn’t just turn me off the character, but also what he might do, which is a bad kind of heat. Daniel Bryan’s music is great for babyface interruptions because, in the midst of an arrogant, bleating, self-important speech from a heel, Bryan literally appears like a deus ex machina. I liked Bryan’s promo saying that, whatever Barrett says, he is Mr. Money in the Bank, and he will make him tap. This looks like the start of a feud, and it’s one that would be fantastically organic given their shared history for over a year. Their feud could be one of the best of the year given that they (especially Bryan) are talented wrestlers and both (especially Barrett) are talented talkers.
AJ was again really good in the ring. It’s just a shame that this series of matches are treading water. Something dramatic needs to happen to make these matches, which often involve nice wrestling, feel like they mean something more.
I really liked the Justin Gabriel video. I like the idea that him going back home could precipitate a face-turn. For the first time he came across as relateable and likeable, and for the first time, I cared about him and his future. I still think he has a long way to go, but a good job. Time permitting, this sort of personal interview promo should be done more often.
Next up was the most perfect insta-face turn i’ve ever seen. Mark Henry appeared demanding competition, and no-one from the back wanted any of him. This was cool as it really got over how fearful Henry has become. Eventually, a pathetic-looking local wrestler came out to get eviscerated. This obviously didn’t satisfy Henry, who was still outspokenly demanding ‘competition’. Just as he was about to perform his leg-breaking-with-chair spot, Teddy Long ran out to stop Henry and save the unfortunate ‘opponent’. As Long was going to frustrate Henry even more by saying no-one would compete with him and he couldn’t force anybody, Sheamus’s music hit to a big pop. There was something about the way Sheamus carried himself that instantly made me like and respect him – the change was really that remarkable. Not only that, but he bested Henry in terms of intimidation, recycling Henry’s own line about bigger not being better, and fending him off with a chair. Both these guys looked great here, and a new and engaging feud has instantly been set up. Until now I didn’t think Sheamus would make a good babyface, but in the space of about five minutes, Sheamus became one of my favourite babyfaces. They could have some good matches, and this should make for a great story.I look forward to seeing where this goes.
I don’t like the New Nexus’s new post-Punk (so to speak) look/attitude – they come across as camp stage-criminals. Either go all the way with their new gimmick, or stick to the darker Nexus gimmick. They had a decent match with the Usos, who are the sole shining force in the tag division currently (the state of the division is shown by the fact that we had a completely unhyped title match this week), which culminated in a well thought-out finish where Otunga threw a downed Uso in tt the ring to confuse the referee to the point where he thought the twins may have pulled off ‘twin magic’. Otunga took advantage of this by throwing the other from the turnbuckle and allowing McGillicutty to hit his winging neckbreaker for the win. I liked the champs going over, but not against the Usos. I’d have each team go over seperately against the more pithy teams until the only competition they have is each other, leading to a match at Summerslam. Nonetheless, I love how they are getting pushed for a title shot as they are a great, old-fashioned tag team, and could mark the start of the resurgence of the tag team.
Big Zeke went down again, which can’t really be good, but at least it was to a handicap team of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Decent enough, but there is always a struggle to create a believable story in a handicap match. Not much to proceed the story here, but it made the heels and especially Rhodes look good, especially when he managed to hit a Cross Rhodes on Big Zeke.
I quite liked the fact that Jinder Mahal and Great Khali hired out a box to look over the events of the night, and understand that foreign-language promos draw heat, but it just didn’t work. When Mahal debuted, I was hoping for big things, but it’s getting to the point now that if they don’t do something drastic, the whole angle will be ruined completely.
Truth and Orton had a decent main event, but they were somewhat lacking in chemistry. It shows how far Truth has come that he can share a ring with Orton though, and he did look believable as a contemporary. I was pleased to see that, unlike last week, Christian had a part in this main event. As Truth used his water bottle spot, the furious Viper wanted took out his anger on Truth, and in doing so, showed Christian the danger he was in by using Truth as a proxy victim as he hit him with a chair and got DQd before RKOing him on the announce table, not once but twice like he did at Money in the Bank. Christian sold this well, seeming as he did in a genuine state of anxiety. I liked this as it helped build the tension between the two, but it was much the same as all their other recent interactions. Not much different here, so it probably simply wasn’t that important. What i’d have liked better would be for HHH to appear at the end of the show as well and say to Christian that he can’t allow his championships to continue in turmoil, and so he wants a decisive, clean victor at Summerslam, and so, while that Randy may have lost by DQ tonight, Christian wont be able to survive that way at Summerslam because the match will be No Holds Barred match. Nothing new has even been announced, but it just would have been done so in a more dramatic and memorable way, standing out more from previous weeks.