John Cena, Alberto Del Rio, The Miz, and Dolph Ziggler All Lay Claim to the WWE Championship
I’m rather partial to these ‘state of the WWE Championship’ openings when used sparingly, and it’s certainly not happened in a while. What is better is this one seemed to really freshen up the title scene, eventhough it involved Cena and Del Rio! The reason for this is it brought an air of competition back to the title, which was lost when Cena and Del Rio were feuding and regained at Survivor Series, before being built upon with a successful retention on RAW last week and now this. Its especially good because Miz and Ziggler were involved and freshen the whole scene up an awful lot! What’s even better is Dolph hung with all of them, and indeed, outshone them all, especially with the line ‘who has the most entertaining matches every week … on purpose!’ I also liked the ‘win and you’re in’ stipulation Johnny Ace gave them all in reaction to CM Punk’s accusations of being boring. Punk has made change happen! Johnny Ace made those matches because Punk challenged him to be entertaining – even if Ace is only doing it to oneup Punk.
The Miz def. Randy Orton
Randall is practically a jobber now. I’m not complaining because, essentially, Orton is the ideal jobber: a great wrestler who can make people look good and is incredibly high profile. This, however, didn’t quite work in making Miz look great. I don’t think it’s that big a problem though: Miz is already over and it gives him something to brag about in the future without revisionism. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the mindgames of Wade Barrett. His distraction cost Orton the match, and then when Orton turned his back to go after Miz, Barrett got a double-whammy by attacking him from behind with just one shot, not to beat him up, but to show him he could. The problem with this, though, was that this was the first of 3 run in finishes. Not so good.
Alberto Del Rio def. Daniel Bryan
Ok, so Bryan lost to Del Rio, and rather quickly, but for similar reasons to the previous match, I didn’t mind that – it was all part of the making the WWE Championship more prestigious excercise. Also, Bryan was selling the World’s Stronger Strongest Slam less than a week ago, and so it didn’t damage him to lose that much. Also, it plays in to the idea that Johnny Ace wants Del Rio as champion, and so gave him a match against an injured man. Del Rio looked good again following recent losses, so pretty much everything was fine here.
Kelly Kelly & Eve Torres w/ Alicia Fox def. Beth Phoenix & Natalya
This achieved nothing. I don’t know what else to say. Though the Divas of Destruction have been having better fortunes of late, they’ve not been that impressive, and this return to cheap face roll-up victories set them all the way back. I have a feeling that this match was just booked to provide a vehicle for the Y2J/Undertaker return videos – which is even worse because it came in the middle of the Divas of Doom’s own mouth-piece vignette!
John Cena def. Zack Ryder
I really liked the psychology here, originally. Both guys like each other, but fight because they are both chasing respective gold. The first problem was that they almost didn’t seem willing wrestle, despite both being pro-wrestlers who should fight whoever they are told to. The match was probably the longest of the night, and was probably the best match Zack Ryder has had – really taking it to John Cena, and even setting up for a Rough Ryder – though it was then reversed in to an Attitude Adjustment for the win. I also liked Ryder’s emotion, but to be upset at someone beating him fairly seemed a little ridiculous.
Zack Ryder def. Mark Henry
Ok, so John Cena fought his friend because he, naturally, wanted a shot at the WWE Championship, but because he cost Zack Ryder his shot and upset his broski, he went back on it, and gave up his title shot because he’s a 10 time champion. EVEN HE’S BORED OF HIM BEING CHAMPION! Way to make the title seem important. Seriously, part of the reason he gets booed is because he’s too nice – he’d never get the girls if he was that nice in real life. There has been some complaints about how Ryder won, with Cena’s interference, but it made sense to me. If you’re going to cost yourself a title match, you might as well make sure the good part of the bargain happens, especially when the deck has been unfairly stacked against the good guy. The only problem is the whole thing seems a little patronising to Ryder – and make him seem kinda weak (though it was against Henry, so not too bad).
Kevin Nash def. Santino Marella
I don’t like Kevin Nash being on TV that much, but if he must be used, this is the right way to use him; sparingly and brutally … and against Santino. I think it’s hilarious that Kevin Nash is having a mini-feud with Santino, the power-walking, hand-sock wearing jobber. Nash has been righteously mocked for his physical shape in the past, but to his credit has gotten back in shape, and looked ok moving in the ring, though it was only for a few minutes. His work withe the sledgehammer was good too, making it seem actually more dangerous than your average weapon by laying it on the announce table like a time-bomb, and by not using it on Santino, and just letting Santino look terrified by it. Nice work here with Nash keeping his mouth shut and looking psychopathic.
Sheamus def. Dolph Ziggler
Before the match, there was a nice little backstage segment with Dolph, Vickie and Swagger where Ziggler again continued to show himself off as an individual, as he chastised Vickie for not gaining him an advantage and had a nice sarcastic bromance moment as he told Swagger he didn’t need him at ringside. The Oyster’s Earrings own Luke Healey summed it up when he said “for a moment there, Dolph Ziggler resembled one of those arrogant Owen Wilson characters from a Wes Anderson movie.” True dat. As for the match, it was a highly competent affair, with all the flair that Ziggler gives, gelling very well with Sheamus. It was a very even match, and Ziggler looked Sheamus’s equal, and even his better, without cheating. But with Ziggler in control, Zack Ryder’s music hit again, for like the 80th time, as we saw the third run-in to cause a distraction-victory of the night. In a sense, this was good, because it made Ziggler look like he had to be distracted to lose to the powerful Great White. A bit more formulaic tension added between champion and contender here, which gives Ziggler something to react to; and this was all that was needed as the two of them now have a long history together.
John Laurinaitis Oversaw the Contract Signing for the TLC Main Event With The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, and CM Punk
CM Punk continued as he left off for his other contract signings, with his electric mic skills, and by not playing along with the staged rigmarole and moving the table and chairs out of the way and suggesting just getting to fighting; but consummate middle-management bureaucrat John Laurinaitis wouldn’t let that happen. Indeed, Johnny Ace has really grown in to his character, deliberately uncharismatic (well, maybe not deliberately), and the inclusion of a photograph before the contracts were signed made him (and the heels who participated) very easy to hate as they seemed to treat it all like a corporate business deal, while the bewildered, bellicose champion looked on. The heels seemed quite fearsome at first, even apparently threatening to make sure Punk didn’t leave as champion, whichever of them won (perhaps a strange idea, but it makes sense that they both dislike Punk). However, when they finally got to that ‘pier six brawl’, they were meant to look a little less fearsome as Punk managed to take both heels out and leave them piled up in the middle of the ring. Now, before I start talking about this, a caveat: this beat-down wasn’t the same as when Cena SuperCena’d The Awesome Truth going in to Survivor Series. Then, Miz and Truth were working together to take out Cena and failed. Here, Miz and Del Rio were trying to beat up Punk, but they were also working against each other at the same time. Punk didn’t beat up two people alone, he simply came out on top out of the three. Nonetheless, I have worried here before about Punk being booked like Cena of late, and there was certainly a whiff of that here. What didn’t happen, like when Cena destroyed the Awesome Truth, was the heels didn’t look a threat; I would certainly say Miz and Del Rio look a threat to Punk, while Punk is being shown as fighting passionately and well against the odds of corporate WWE that doesn’t want him as champion. After coming out on top, the way Punk treated the title was great. Just the way he displays it, clutching it to him and swinging it around his head with joy makes it look more prestigious. More of that please folks – oh, and a new title, which I think there is a ground-swell of opinion for. A nice way to set up the tension between all involved, especially given Miz wasn’t even near the title picture until this week – there is now tangible dislike between the three.