Smack of the Week (28/10/2011): Punk Centre-Stage in a Muddied Title Picture

Punk post-victory against Christian. But what does this mean for the two World title pictures?

Christian Confronted Teddy Long, Was Confronted By CM Punk
Teddy Long came out with the purpose of clarifying the World Heavyweight Championship picture, but before he could make any sort of decision, out came Christian, calling for ‘one more match’. I like this catchphrase and this aspect of his character. It’s a slim thing to build a character around, but he has done so successfully; it is, however, getting a little repetitive. Clearly, Punk thought the same, as he came out to shut Christian up. Punk was, again, wonderful on the mic, and his comic routine where he wouldn’t let Captain Charisma finish his line by saying ‘… and bitching’. This was funny, and when complimented by his acknowledgement of the heel being an admirable talent (something a little lacking in babyfaces) and especially pointing out his following among the WWE Universe (‘Voice of the Voiceless’ and all that …) added to his truly unique and playfully unmoulded promo style. He should, however, be careful about criticising people for ‘bitching’, after all, the shoot heard around the world was bitching. Admittedly it was a righteous and much needed dose of truth-telling, which Christian certainly couldn’t claim, but Punk should still be careful about coming across as hypocritical.

The Awesome Truth (The Miz & R-Truth) def. Air Boom (Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne)
Air Boom are gaining a reputation for raising the roof and the general atmosphere of every show they appear on, and it is a reputation deserved. They are really validating themselves as the poster-boys of the newly revamped tag division! This match was, indeed, pretty exciting. Most of the match saw the heels in control, with R-Truth returning to his scary intensity that was prevalent at the time of Capitol Punishment, which was one of his best features at that time. Air Boom struggled to get any offense in at the start, but towards the end, they managed to match the conspiracy-theorists, which showed them off well, and really got the audience rocking, most notably when Kingston hit a springboard massive cross body to The Miz after the ‘awesome one’ had avoided Kofi’s turnbuckle attack. That was so impressive that the fans really were at fever-pitch by that time! This was, however, awkward booking with the tag champions against the seemingly unstoppable heels with invisible forces on their side (in fact, I liked Josh Matthew’s call that it was like they had no fear of repercussions, hinting of course that they were being protected by ‘the powers that be’). The Little Jimmy’s Final√© was too much for Kofi Kingston though, and over went The Awesome Truth. A good accounting for themselves by the tag champs, and Truth put them over by bragging about beating them afterwards; a necessarily evil though as it certainly showed them up a little.

Randy Orton def. Dolph Ziggler
This had ‘MOTY candidate’ written all over it, and perhaps harked back to just under a year ago when Ziggler was being tested against the big boys and lighting the ring up. This period of Ziggler’s career seems to be replicating that time, which culminated in a techniacl World Championship reign. The start of the match was impressive in it’s technicality, if it was a bit repetitive and unexplosive, with progressions of ducks, leapfrogs, and shoulder blocks. As the match built though, especially after the commercial break, we saw some wonderful progressions, back and forth, and near-falls. Orton probably had the advantage in terms of amounts of offense, but Ziggler was certainly his equal, and managed sustained offense against The Viper, especially towards the end of the match – most notably with a superkick, which I hope means Ziggler has added it to his repertoire because it kinda suits him and because, here, it made for a great near fall, especially after Ziggler’s version of the straddle pin which saw Orton only just slip out of the pinfall attempt. Ziggler tried to keep the momentum with a Zig Zag, but Orton held the ropes before hitting an RKO on the startled Ziggler for the win. After watching this I did, indeed, consider adding this to my MOTY section; and it was very good – probably just lacking at the start and in an inventive, striking finish. Good enough to show that Ziggler belongs at Orton’s level though, especially given that Swagger wasn’t allowed at ringside. In a slightly related note, Cody Rhodes was on commentary, and was excellent! He got his own character over as well as getting the match and participants over too (though, understandably, the heel primarily), constantly reminding Booker and Cole to pay attention to the match, and to the United States Champion. Excellent stuff.

Hunico Revealed Himself
A quick note here. Though I would have liked Hunico do re-debut as a heel lucha with a Hunico gimmick to try and gain retribution over Sin Cara. I was pleased to see him get some individual time as a character though. I had worried that having been brought up from developmental specifically for the Sin Cara vs Sin Cara feud, he might be forgotten about in it’s aftermath. I like his look too – a bit different for WWE. Maybe he and JTG could work together?

Daniel Bryan def. Tyson Kidd
So maybe this match was a kind of promotion for the new HBK vs Hart rivalry DVD (which by all accounts is a must-see), but I enjoyed the premise nonetheless, especially seen as it features such amazing technical wrestlers. There wasn’t too much to this match, but a sign of great wrestlers being that they can make an impact with little time, these two did just that as Kidd had the initiative at the start with a low dropkick to Bryan’s head. They then moved to some sweet chain wrestling starting and ending with the LaBelle Lock. Initially, that move saw progressions in to some amazing, innovative pin attempts, before Kidd attempted a Sharpshooter which was expertly reversed in to the Labelle Lock for the win for AmDrag. Now I noted with pleasure an interview on WWE.com with Bryan which placed him at the forefront of the title picture, and the delight taken at Bryan snapping his ‘losing streak’ seems, hopefully, to point to some renewed strength for Mr. Money in the Bank; something he really needs as we approach WrestleMania season quickly.

CM Punk def. Christian
These two are two of my favourite in-ring competitors, and so I was glad to see them booked up together. The match lived up, for the most part, to their reputations too. Given Christian’s not been on the right side of many matches recently, it was good to see him get a lot of offense on on Punk, but very quickly, he was in GTS position, in a way that perhaps seemed a little too easy. Then Alberto Del Rio’s music hit, and the man strutted down to distract the Best in the World. More back and forth here which put both men on a pretty level pegging which was great for Christian and perhaps a little detrimental to Punk, but nonetheless made for some great action. As the match moved on there were some great power moves and counters as Punk rolled through a Christian top-rope cross-body, nearly taking the match, before Christian reversed Punker’s springboard clothesline in to a powerslam for another big near fall. Punk did later hit this move though as the match drew to a close. After the clothesline, he went to the top rope for his Macho Man elbow. Before he could leap to victory though, Del Rio pushed him off the turnbuckle as Rodriguez distracted the ref. It looked like Christian would be able to pick up the scraps, but Sheamus – so far conspicuous by his absence – hit the ring to stop the injustice. He chased off Del Rio and Rodriguez before a startled Christian walked in to a GTS and the win for Punk. Not the most impressive of wins for Punk, but it’s all momentum and even better coming from a good match. It looks like Punk will get his title match, but he’ll have a hard time getting it, as it has been announced that he has to beat Mark Henry to do so; while on Smackdown, Big Show claimed he will get a rematch at ‘some point’ in the future, while Henry rejected his worthiness. Despite the definiteness of the finish of this main event, the two title pictures remain rather murky, but in an interesting way.

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