Above is the best PPV poster ever!
Anyway, it’s time for No Way Out (tomorrow)! The main matches have had adequate build, but it seems like No Way Out as an event hasn’t been built that much. It feels like it’s just creeping up on us a little and like it’s just another show. That shouldn’t be a good thing, but in the past it has meant good shows have occurred when least expected and surprised us – it wont translate to a special buyrate though.
Match 1) World Heavyweight Championship Match: Sheamus (c) vs Dolph Ziggler
Despite the fact that this match was seemingly booked on the fly when Alberto Del Rio became concussed, but, if anything, this match is more interesting and anticipated than the original. With the stiffer style Sheamus has been adopting of late, I hope it mixes well with Ziggler’s awesome selling and both men’s ability to put on a good, dramatic match. Everyone expects a good match, and everyone expects a Sheamus win. However, a part of me wouldn’t be surprised to see the change of plans lead to a complete twist and a shocking but also therefore memorable victory for Ziggler. There are still more competitors waiting for Sheamus though, and his reign hasn’t been long enough for someone I think WWE are trying to make in to a blockbuster star. So while i’d like to see the Ziggler moment, I think this match will help build him up to that level without giving him the gold.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Match 2) United States Championship Match?: Santino Marella (c) vs Ricardo Rodriguez in a Tuxedo Match
Santino and Ricardo are gold-dust together and are providing some of the best comic wrestling i’ve seen in a long time. Genuinely fresh and genuinely entertaining, and with it being something so ridiculous as a tuxedo match, I expect great things. With Del Rio out of the picture, he’s losing some of the heat from the classic heel, and despite being a heel to Santino’s face, is becoming more and more popular. Bear in mind as well then that the prospect of Rodriguez losing isn’t going to ‘put any asses om seats’, and I start to wonder whether this match being booked on PPV might be because Ricardo will pull of the upset win, be it for the United States Championship or not. I can actually see him and Santino bonding over this and maybe even Ricardo Rodriguez turning face, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves shall we? Simply because there was no demand I can see for Santino to beat Ricardo, i’m backing the ring announcer, though obviously by complete accident!
Winner: Ricardo Rodriguez
Match 3) Intercontinental Championship Match: Christian (c) vs Cody Rhodes
Christian and Rhodes are two very good workers who are fighting over a sometimes very prestigious championship. That in itself is a good sell for this match. Their build has been solid if a bit mailed in with the best narrative being about who is better for the prestige of the title. Rhodes has said that Christian undid all his good work when he beat him for the championship at Over the Limit and that now he’s back to restore honour. Quite unique, certainly, but the stops have hardly been pulled out. Lets hope the match speaks for itself. I can’t see Christian dropping the title back to Rhodes after Rhodes only had it for a month, so I see a retention here, and perhaps – hopefully – a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship for Cody Rhodes in his future.
Match 4) WWE Championship Match: CM Punk (c) vs Daniel Bryan vs Kane
This is one of the two matches to get most of the attention for tonight’s show, and rightly so, but the attention has been some of the strangest I can remember, featuring as the protagonist WWE Diva AJ Lee. For the most part i’ve enjoyed AJ’s role in that she’s taken Punk and Kane out of their comfort zones and really upset the apple cart as classic PPV build goes. Whatever you think about the portrayal of AJ, which is at times a little troubling, it has made this match feel different, and that’s a good thing. Now the question seems to be, how will AJ pull the strings of this match and who will she help to win or retain the title? The prevailing thinking seems to be for Bryan, and I tend to agree. Punk has had a very long and strongly booked reign, beating the likes of pretty much everybody. He’s running out of challengers and maybe needs the change of pace that chasing the title allows. Not only that, but without the title, he may be able to act as a more edgy, pipebombing character – having the top title around your waist kinda undermines that. Step in Daniel Bryan. He’s been the hottest star of the past few months and could be a great WWE Champion; even better – his matches with Punk have been great, and his win would mean a continuation of that. If it does go this way, it will mean AJ helping Bryan and them becoming the power couple I always wanted them to be; either that, or it will a continuation of the original relationship between Bryan and AJ – of unconditional love and manipulation that I found so interesting originally. Of course, all this means that a spanner will be thrown in the works and Kane might win, but we’ll just have to wait and see about that! Speaking of Kane, he will disturn be natural technical flow of Bryan-Punk, but I don’t doubt that the experienced veteran will help to embelish the match somehow and make it a unique match in their feud.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Match 5) Divas Championship Match: Layla (c) vs Beth Phoenix
Despite the fact the build this has received is the less significant part of a comedy match and some very brief promos, I am looking forward to this match. At Over the Limit they did a great job, and I expect they will do again. As for the result, that still seemingly pivots on when Kharma returns, which was the same as at Over the Limit. With that in mind, I will literally copy and paste it here, and probably will every PPV until Kharma returns!: The returning Layla has some momentum and fan support behind her, while being a very underrated wrestler. Her smaller size against the also interesting story of Phoenix returning angry from losing her championship could be make for a interestingly and impressively booked match. If given time, this could be an unexpected hit for the PPV. There is a problem though. With Kharma surely to return imminently to feud with Beth, WWE seem to have booked themselves in to a corner. Before Layla returned, most expected Kharma to be first back, take the Divas championship, and call out Beth. Layla as champion obviously throws a spanner in here. If Beth beats her, she loses a lot of credibility, and could fall out of the spotlight which is a shame for a very popular and talented wrestler who has a lot of good will on her side after an injury return. On the other hand, Beth certainly can’t lose to Layla if she’s to be a credible challenge to legitimate monster, Kharma. So neither can win without causing significant damage to the other. The only option, as I see it, is to give them decent time for both to shine, but eventually have Beth seem dominant, and in an aesthetically dominant position (press slam position or similar), about to win the match, when Kharma’s music hits, she comes to the ring and attacks Beth. Beth wins by DQ and Layla keeps her title. The Beth-Kharma feud is exciting enough to not need the title, so it would protect Layla and add more depth to the division with her in championship feuds and Beth-Kharma happening separately.
Winner: Beth Phoenix
Match 6) Steel Cage Match: John Cena w/ Mr. McMahon vs The Big Show w/ John Laurinaitis
After Over The Limit, the Era of Big Show was a prospect that worried me, but, to his credit, Show has settled in to a strong narrative as the put upon freak show finally rebelling and taking charge. This would be full on antihero babyface had it not been for his abandoning of the WWE Universe along the way because they endorsed his treatment. He has a point – which is best for most heels. Saying that, Show as he is now vs John Cena just can’t interest me much. He’s the right opponent in the sense that he’s the company man, but perhaps that’s also the problem. Without fail, that has been the reasoning behind every single one of Cena’s foes for around 2 years now. Perhaps in Big Show they’ve finally found someone who just isn’t fresh or interesting in that role … That’s not to do down the job he’s been doing – as I say he’s been impressing me – its just its not quite clicked with me. The match itself will live or die on the booking. If they just have a Show-Cena match in a cage it’ll be fine, but not extraordinary. A classic match, and moment, will depend, I think on well thought-out, surprising outside interference from someone that would cause a good cliffhanger. I don’t want it jinx it, but I would suggest Mr. McMahon turn and betray Cena. Yes, it would mean wheeling out McMahon again, which isn’t very progressive, but when mixed with Johnny’s heat, could get a real buzz going. The result doesn’t seem much in doubt; once again, the stipulation has made it obvious because it’s so similar to Over the Limit’s stipulation. If Laurinaitis/Laurinaitis’s Proxy loses, Laurinaitis is fired, Laurinaitis aint getting fired, so Laurinaitis/Laurinaitis’s Proxy will win. The fact that the result is so predictable wont help the enjoyability of the match. It seemed to be suggested on Smackdown after Cena punched Laurinaitis that is Laurinaitis remained GM, then Cena’s job would be in danger. This is an admirable attempt to make the stipulation less revealing, but it isn’t enough i’m afraid because – again without jinxing it hopefully – Cena taking time off is getting more and more realistic. His involvement has become too formulaic: an new and powerful threat appears and beats him and makes him seem more vulnerable. But after Punk, Rock, Brock, and Show, who else could do this? Maybe he would enter in to further matches with Big Show after Show beats him surely with some outside help, but I don’t know how much life there is in that unless Cena has to go up against the potential heel faction of McMahon, Laurinaitis, and Big Show et al. That is all pie in the sky though. There is potential for it to be good, but on the basis of how this story is going since Over the Limit, i’d be pleasantly surprised.