Jack Swagger def. Zack Ryder to Win the United States Championship
Swagger and Ryder’s respective angles from last week converged seamlessly in to a title change on this week’s RAW. With Ryder destroyed by Kane last week, and Swagger compensated for a botched ref call with a championship match, all the stars were aligned for a title change, but of course, John Laurinaitis already knew that (but more on that later). Ryder and Eve as a budding couple worked much better away from the teen flick plot too, and was much more likeable and believable (as opposed to thinking ‘Why are they messing around with a car? Oh yeah, Kane … fine’) I liked the story of the match, with Ryder insisting on competing with his injuries, and Swagger targeting his heavily wrapped ribs right from the off. Ryder looked brave and strong through the match, even kicking out of two Gutwrench Powerbombs before finally succumbing to a third for the loss. Of course, a lot of eyebrows raised when Ryder lost his championship, him being something of an internet darling, but it is wrong to pre-judge. When Christian had his 5 day first World Title reign, the whole of the IWC (including me) sounded off about the lack of respect shown to Captain Charisma, but then he entered one of the best feuds in recent memory with the man that defeated him. I don’t see something quite of that calibre coming from Ryder and Swagger, but if we get an interesting storyline, we can’t complain. Speaking of Swagger, he’s very much the forgotten piece here, and he’s the new US Champion! Winning this championship would always be a testing ground for the Swag-man. If, given the opportunity, he can’t make something great out of being the All American American … Champion of America, he can’t make anything great ever. Even Sheamus had something cool going by wearing red white and blue and embracing being Irish-American in a heel way. Trouble is, I don’t know if he’ll get the opportunity, as John Cena would later embrace the same hate that injured Ryder, and it seems Ryder will get his rematch on Smackdown, where we could therefore have an exact reversal of fortunes for Ryder against Swagger. We can only wait and see.
John Cena Ruthlessly Aggressivizes The New United States Champion, Jack Swagger
Cena’s strange relationship with Zack Ryder continued to get horror movie weird as he took his aggression out on Jack Swagger for essentially doing nothing wrong than take advantage of a great opportunity in a match that was sanctioned and booked last week and that Ryder agreed to. Instead of a match, he basically DarkSuperCena’d Jack Swagger while making a face that was suspiciously Kane-esque:
This was pretty well done though, because Cena looked changed, like he was letting some pent up ‘hate’ out, and even if he doesn’t turn heel, it points to some sort of change in Cena, and that’s a good thing. As for Swagger, if he stays US Champ, I don’t think this hurts him too much; I mean, he’d already had a match, and this was nuclear Cena. If he does lose the title on Friday though, winning it will be forgotten, and even all the more embarrassing than if he had have failed to win the championship in the first place.
THE FUNKASAURUS ETC JTG
Ok, so the Funkasarus basically did much the same routine as last week, but it doesn’t matter because it’s amazing. Ring dance, pyro, ‘Should I git hiym!?’, suplex, ‘ma bad …’, splashes, pin, MORE DANCING. Saying that, there were some extras thrown in that only made it better: for one thing, being announced as ‘The Only Living, Breathing, Romping, Stomping Funkasaurus In Captivity.’ It’s literally nonsense, but it makes sense in this funky world! He was also doing funkasaurus claws, which is great without needing any explanation at all. At the moment, I would like to see basically the same every week, but with more funk/dinosaur stuff thrown in, even more ridiculously. Call his finisher the Funkasplashasaurus. Give him several nicknames like the ‘Funkmeister’ or ‘The Philosophunkter’ and so on … I would also like to add that I really like JTG and consider him above jobber rank. One day, hopefully.
Chris Jericho Returns to the Ring, and Then Leaves CM Punk and Daniel Bryan After Being Tagged In
It’s really hard to talk about Chris Jericho at the moment, not because he’s dull, or unwatchable, but for the exact opposite reason. Everything he’s doing is absolutely groundbreaking and awe-inspiring, and while I have ideas about some of what he may be doing, trying to second-guess it seems the wrong thing to do. On the other hand, that is, essentially, my job, so here goes. First off, I love how Chris Jericho has found away to actually communicate via the means of LED Jacket! It’s such a bizarre, enigmatic, and kinda douchey passive aggressive thing to do … it fits perfectly! Well, by doing that, he acquiesced to his in-ring return in the main event. Well I didn’t know what to expect. I was kinda disappointed he was going to wrestle before the Rumble, but I figured he wouldn’t just show up and wrestle as normal, and I was – of course – excited to see my favourite wrestler return to action. Before talking about the match, I should say that I thought through all the toing and froing, this was a really fun main event, awesomeness aside; and that the trio of Punk, Bryan, and Jericho may well be my genuine dream team. All through the match, Jericho was characteristically overplaying his role, begging for the hot tag, whipping the crowd in to a frenzy, and finally, after a good ten minutes of standing there in his ring gear (even tying up his boots so he’d be ready to compete), he was tagged. The crowd went wild, and so did Jericho, as he fell in to his familiar routine of playing excitedly to the crowd. We were all waiting for him to enziguiri the face off of David Otunga. We all wanted it. We all expected it. But then he just turned and laxly tagged Bryan in before leaving the ring, smiling. He stopped the pop in it’s tracks (nonsense wrestling talk). That’s what Jericho is doing to a lot of well held wrestling canon – rendering it a kind of nonsense. Until this week, he has simply addressed and undermined the usual expected relationship between wrestler and fans; this week, he extended that to the actual wrestling. There’s a belief (that i’ve heard a few people forward, and that may have some truth behind it) that a modern WWE audience is interested less in seeing wrestling, and more in seeing the wrestlers just being there. It’s a sad state of affairs, and maybe Jericho is satirising/challenging this. Every week he shows up, and does nothing else before getting overwhelmed (possibly because his character is feigning a belief that he doesn’t deserve such adulation). This week, he appeared in the ring, and participated in a staple spot (the hot tag), but then acted like he’d done his job and left. Even if my theory about him questioning the righteousness of exactly what the fans want is off, its at the very least, a great general undermining of another aspect of what helps make wrestling what it is. Whatever’s happening, at least when Jericho’s around, it’s the end of the world (universe) as we know it.
CM God Returned With Genuine Pipebombs and Made John Laurinaitis Snap on Mick Foley
I say ‘CM God’ returned because that is what I referred to him as after his shoot on RAW before Money in the Bank which saw the genesis of the great CM Punk we have today, and hopefully, a new, improved era of top stars and championship prestige. I refer to that moment because I think this was the best Punk has been since then, and that’s saying something. During the last match, with CM Punk left along against Dolph Ziggler and David Otunga, Mick Foley leapt to his side to assist, supposedly with the sanction of John Laurinaitis, and helped win the match with his double arm DDT and Mr. Socko’d Mandible Claw. Having waited for the match to end, consummate bureaucrat, Laurinaitis came down to reverse the decision. A flabbergasted Punk, exhausted by the signs that Laurinaitis (the guest referee for his title match at the Rumble) would do whatever it takes to screw him, Punk snapped in to Pipebomb mode. When he was shooting on Vince, one of my favourite moment was during his contract negotiation with Mr. McMahon. In the past, we’ve seen Austin stun him countless times, so a punch or a GTS would have no impact. Instead, Punk shoved Vince humiliatingly, and that was amazing because we’ve never seen that kind of contempt and disrespect for McMahon before. Punk behaved similarly with Johnny Ace here, picking and poking his suit, so is the disdain he has for the corporate suit who hates him for even existing, letalone being ‘the man’. Of course, this was the impression got from Laurinaitis in real life, and you can see he was drawing from that during this passionate rant, telling him exactly why he is better than him, and why Ace, with his ‘kissass’ passive aggressive that held him back was worthy of his contempt, before threatening him, in very plain unveiled words, what he would do if he was screwed out of his title. I wont go over everything he said, but we got Punk at his best – the emotion throbbing through the screen and making us interested in him, his plight, and his championship. Then, in a great aesthetic (something Punk has, again, created many of recently), Punk showed exactly what a corporate shill Laurinaitis is by pretending to engage him in violence (rather than passive aggressiveness) by offering a punch, only for Ace to cower away. His point proved, he called the outwardly proud EVP and IGM pathetic before leaving. This sold the genuine tension between the two, and to give Laurinaitis his props, he sold his sheer frustration excellently. Usually infuriatingly even-tempered behind the scenes while finding ways to stack the deck against certain superstars, Laurinaitis was pacing, grimacing and loosening his tie. Foley, in typical goofy but brilliantly pitched mode, gave Ace the thumbs up before questioning him outright whether he intended to screw Punk. In an important milestone, Ace admitted this, moving him from a man who acted reasonably, but who was clearly stacking the deck, to a man who was outwardly trying to screw a top babyface. It’ll be interesting to see if Laurinaitis remains this way, or goes back to the evil bureaucrat (though now occasionally losing his temper and showing his true colours). I like both incarnations; though I like the former better, the tension is certainly more readily apparent in the latter. As of now, it looks like a mix, as he basically let Punk get away with it, before taking his aggression out on the less suspecting victim of Foley, saying he ‘wont take it anymore’ before cheap-shotting him with a mic to close the show. This was certainly shocking to see given the unshakably calm, corporate persona of Laurinaitis to date, showing the effect Punk’s pipebombs can have on his targets. This is the best way to use Foley. Here, in the ring, and with Ziggler in an earlier promo, he embellished the talent without dominating the screen, and he worked best as the innocent victim of Johnny Ace because it showed his true colours without necessitating rushing the physicality between him and Punk.
A stunning ending to the show, and after that, the championship match at the Rumble is even more ‘must-see’ than before.