RTV Pro-Wrestling Hall of Fame, Class of 2012 – Entrant #1: Edge

I posted my ‘Core 50’ RTV Hall of Famers only yesterday, which can be found here, in the Hall of Fame section of the blog: https://rtvwrestling.wordpress.com/the-rtv-pro-wrestling-hall-of-fame/ But I also promised that I would induct a new member whenever WWE did to theirs, and during the process of writing the Core 50, WWE announced two inductees to their Hall of Fame (not including Mil Macsaras), and so I now have to announce two, and my first is also their first.

It’s only been nine months since Edge was forced to retire due to neck injuries, and most sports Halls of Fame have a sense of propriety, inducting members a couple of years after their retirement so as their retirement can sink in and their careers can be evaluated. In wrestling however, propriety is not a priority, at least not more so than nostalgia. Saying that, I do consider the speed of Edge’s entrance troublesome. But then again, look at his career. It all becomes legitimate.

Edge has an impressive list of trainers, including Dory Funk Jr. and Stu Hart, but those skills weren’t necessarily the focus of his early career as part of one of the most successful tag teams ever, Edge & Christian. After debuting as part of The Brood, but quickly outgrowing it, they became the greatest heel tag team of modern times. Completely unique and contemporary, E&C became a teen idol style smart-mouthed team who would use comic skits to mock either their opponents or the town they were in. In doing so, they created many memorable scenes, notably them dressed in huge foam cowboy hats, mocking Elvis in Memphis, and their infamous ‘5 Second Poses’ which came over as incredibly egotistical to the fans in attendance. Their tag team career had a very serious side though, as they would be part of some of the most brutal and innovative matches in wrestling history. Edge and Christian competed at a high-point for tag team wrestling, specifically working with the Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boyz. At WrestleMania 2000, they competed in a highly memorable and innovative triangle ladder match with the Hardyz and Dudleyz which saw them win their first WWF Tag Team Championship; the first of a record seven reigns. Over the next year, at Summerslam and WrestleMania X7, the three teams would be part of some of the most shocking and innovative matches of all time: TLC I and II. This match is now a staple of pro-wrestling, and Edge is known as one of the six innovators of the match, as well as ladder matches generally. E&C would eventually split, and Edge seemed destined for the top, turning face and being beloved by his ‘Edgeheads’ almost instantly. Edge’s career would really take off though in 2005 when his relationship with Lita (at Matt Hardy’s expense) would make him one of the most hated heels of the decade as he and Lita would flaunt their highly sexual activities in the face of Hardy, leading to a lengthy and memorable feud between the two. Edge had such heat that he was sure to move to the top of the card and so was a natural choice as the first ever Money in the Bank winner, which he won at WrestleMania XXI. Almost a year of garnering heat later, with Lita by his side, he cashed in the contract on top face John Cena to arguably become the top heel in wrestling. His feud with Cena was one of the most notable of our current era, pushing the envelope in quality and drama, including his outrageous ‘Live Sex Celebration with Lita’, one of the highest rated segments in WWE history, and many great matches, especially his TLC match with John Cena at Unforgiven in 2006. This was even more important as dearth of fresh new stars in the company in the middle of the decade; Edge stood up to help carry the WWE on his shoulders. Edge would continue to be a fantastic, hated heel, through periods in Rated RKO and La Familia though towards the end of his career the fans respected him so much, he worked best as a babyface, and after winning his final match at WrestleMania XXVII, his retirement came as a mournful shock to fans across the world. There are few wrestlers so important to the fans, so charismatic, and so successful. Indeed, Edge won 31 championships, including a record 7 World Heavyweight Championships, as well as being the only man to win the King of the Ring, the Money in the Bank, and the Royal Rumble. He was forced to retire early, which is a shame, though fans are pleased his life is no longer on the line.


Smack of the Week (18/09/11): Cutting-Edge Chaos

Two sheer forces, Mark Henry and Randy Orton fight to get to each other before Night of Champions

I very much enjoyed the opening segment of this week’s Smackdown. Edge was fine, and him appearing in his home town is a nice bonus. There wasn’t much to him promo though, until Cody Rhodes came out for a rub that is. Eventhough Edge called Rhodes boring, Rhodes being able to interact with a man quickly becoming a legend of revisionism (and rightly so). Rhodes seems to be thriving more and more with each appearance, and the way he is constantly putting over the Intercontinental Championship makes him (and it, by association) make look great. His talk was all about Ted DiBiase and himself (presumably why Edge lost interest and left) before he went about passionately insulting and bagging the audience at ringside, until, that is, one of the bagged men attacked Rhodes. That man was Ted DiBiase, last seen with a bag over his head, with a bag over his head, but this time defiantly taking it off and completing a nice bit of circularity. He then preceded to beat on Rhodes and hit a Dream Street for good measure – a move I can’t remember seeing in a very long time, which is a good sign for Ted. The only problem was that this was followed by DiBiase’s horrible heel-a-riffic music. It actually jarred with DiBiase as a babyface, and it needs to change by Sunday when he will take on Rhodes for the Intercontinental Championship.

Bryan vs ‘Sin Cara’ was a refreshingly aggressive and nicely played-out affair. Bryan came out fighting, brutalising Cara for some time in the early going, not allowing Cara any offense and dominating. It was good to see this as Bryan has been a step behind Cara recently with the bad guy Cara consistently getting cheap shots in on AmDrag. Luckily for Bryan, being a babyface doesn’t necessitate being invincible, as long as you can wrestle well and generally win when it’s a fair fight, it’s fine; in fact, i’d describe that as a general characteristic if a babyface. When Cara did eventually get some offense in, he wouldn’t relent on the defenseless Bryan, getting himself DQ’d in the process. These actions are the actions, on the other hand, of a heel, and this might be what the original Sin Cara had a problem with. WWE are going ahead with the potentially very interesting Cara vs Cara feud as we saw the surreal sight of the two almost identical grapplers facing-off in the ring. I would love this to turn in to something with the original ‘good’ Sin Cara fighting not just for his reputation, but for his reputation as a faceless representative of the people, and it leading eventually to Hunico being repackaged as himself.

I’m a big fan of AJ, and she looked good for a jobber, though obviously being pretty quickly dispatched by Diva of Doom, Beth Phoenix. Simple and classic build for a strong heel going in to a championship challenge. Also nice to see her getting some (admittedly brief) mic time too.

Sheamus/Gabriel vs Barrett/Christian was fine, if a bit formulaic. Good for Gabriel (who by the way, has the worst music in the WWE today) getting to team with a former WWE Champion and one of the fastest rising babyfaces in the company, but his match consisted of being beaten up for 5-10 minutes, getting the hot tag to Sheamus, and earning the win with a 450 Splash. Didn’t seem to hurt the heels too much either. I like how Christian is getting the ‘better’, in a way, of Sheamus by consistently escaping his attacks, and I think they are still leading up to a feud between the two, which, given their respective heat at the moment, could be a show-stealer.

R-Truth and The Miz were something of a surprising inclusion on the Blue Brand this week, and their performance, which they treated as pre-meditated and rehearsed, was incredibly entertaining and dare I say, electrifying! Their self-consciousness of presentation makes them seem unique, and indeed, ‘must see’. Their appearances seem like an event in themselves, almost separate to the wrestling, and that is a very unique and desirable characteristic (just as CM Punk!) It puts me in mind of something Brandon Stroud wrote on his  http://withleather.uproxx.com/2011/09/the-best-and-worst-of-wwe-raw-913/3 blog, which I will now shamelessly quote:
“The Miz seems less like a wrestler and more like a guy pretending to be a wrestler (an observation that got me quoted by Grantland.com’s The Masked Man in a Fair to Flair podcast), and the Miz/Truth partnership takes that one step further — Miz has roped Truth into his “must see” segments, and now we get situations where they come to the ring doing Vaudeville wordplay or a backstage segment where they take the microphone away from Josh and walk to the ring, communicating and passing off the microphone without even having to look at each other. Truth wears a big jacket (for some reason, which is hilarious to me) and tries to work in a new catchphrase, “ninja please!”, complete with Miz doing a Blazing Saddles-quality “WHAT did you just say?” like any of us though he said nigga. They go to the ring and do each others’ catchphrases, and there’s just something wonderful about two guys who can’t find someone to listen finding best friends. Miz and Morrison never had that. Watch any old episode of the Dirt Sheet, Miz does his thing, Morrison say something weird about the Palace of Wisdom and Miz just rolls his eyes like Morrison is an idiot (he is) and moves on. Miz couldn’t break up with Morrison fast enough, he got crammed together with Daniel Bryan and Alex Riley, two guys he eventually drove away with hateful demands, but he seems comfortable with Truth, and the demands all seem like a group effort, and Truth could really be his Cowboy Bob Orton. Just a guy with a similar outlook on life who hangs out with him, and even when they screw up they never really come to blows, because who else are they gonna hang out with?” A very good explanation and one I can’t top.

And while i’m mentioning him, he made this hilarious observation about Alex Riley:
“The Miz seems less like a wrestler and more like a guy pretending to be a wrestler (an observation that got me quoted by Grantland.com’s The Masked Man in a Fair to Flair podcast), and the Miz/Truth partnership takes that one step further — Miz has roped Truth into his “must see” segments, and now we get situations where they come to the ring doing Vaudeville wordplay or a backstage segment where they take the microphone away from Josh and walk to the ring, communicating and passing off the microphone without even having to look at each other. Truth wears a big jacket (for some reason, which is hilarious to me) and tries to work in a new catchphrase, “ninja please!”, complete with Miz doing a Blazing Saddles-quality “WHAT did you just say?” like any of us though he said nigga. They go to the ring and do each others’ catchphrases, and there’s just something wonderful about two guys who can’t find someone to listen finding best friends. Miz and Morrison never had that. Watch any old episode of the Dirt Sheet, Miz does his thing, Morrison say something weird about the Palace of Wisdom and Miz just rolls his eyes like Morrison is an idiot (he is) and moves on. Miz couldn’t break up with Morrison fast enough, he got crammed together with Daniel Bryan and Alex Riley, two guys he eventually drove away with hateful demands, but he seems comfortable with Truth, and the demands all seem like a group effort, and Truth could really be his Cowboy Bob Orton. Just a guy with a similar outlook on life who hangs out with him, and even when they screw up they never really come to blows, because who else are they gonna hang out with? … Riley comes into the ring and does or tries to do the following moves:
1. A running attack you can’t block
2. Spinebuster
3. STO
4. Implant DDT
5. TKO And when he’s not doing moves, he’s effortlessly stopping double-team attacks and reversing everybody’s finisher. Not a headlock or an International in the bunch. All he needed to do was a goddamn Fisherman Buster and he’d be the first draft of every e-fed character I’ve ever seen. And the TKO? Seriously? “I want to do a move that’s just like the Stunner or the RKO, except I have to struggle and hold the guy up on my shoulders and spin in place first. Also, the only person who has ever been cheered for doing this ever is Sable, and that was just the once.”” You can follow Brandon @MrBrandonStroud. Anyway, to get on with my assessment! Bourne looked good in this match, including a sort of head-smashing hurricanrana (that is, if it was intended (even if it wasn’t, it’s a great move and he should use it!)), but the build required Truth to go over to complete the 2-0 over AirBoom. The champions in jeopardy, the challengers looking strong – it’s classic though unadventurous booking, but that’s what is needed to bring a sick tag division back to health.

Usually, talk show segments are nowhere near as ‘cutting’ or ‘controversial’ as the hype suggests, but this was actually an exception. When Edge said he was going to ‘ask the tough questions’, he wasn’t lying, telling Randy Orton, to his face, that he wasn’t sure he would be able to beat Mark Henry. That was such a great moment which seemed to sincerely challenge Orton. By this point, it would usually have broken down already, but here, the words continued for now at least. Orton responded with a powerful response about how Henry has always gotten to him when he’s down. Edge then turned to Henry in similarly direct fashion telling him about his wasted years in the business and got a similarly direct answer. I loved the calm response given that the only reason he didn’t attack Edge was because he was right, and that he was told to go out there and ‘smile and show his personality’. This was getting close to Punk-style Reality Era content, and I liked his sincerity a lot, especially because he wasn’t drawn as a simple psychopath, which is always less interesting artistically and in terms character. As tensions were at fever pitch, Edge seemed to take delight in goading them on before leaving them to the ring themselves. Unsurprisingly, this was followed by a physical skirmish between the two, and Teddy Long, wanting to protect his main-event, got the whole Smackdown roster out to try and seperate them – something they had only moderate success in doing, with either man breaking free to get in pot-shots at the other, including Orton spectacularly leaping over a group of guys to get to Henry. Finally, after Orton got free, he ran straight in to a World’s Strongest Slam, followed by another, and a few splashes, and a sight which has become familiar; Henry standing over Orton with the championship belt in hand. This is the view we were given going in to Night of Champions, and it is one which obviously shows Henry as the dominant favourite. At least this time, Orton was given the chance to – audibly and physically – not back down from Henry, suggesting that he might be one of few people that could give him a challenge. Nonetheless, Henry is being built as almost unstoppable and, even if he doesn’t win on Sunday, he may well be on the route to the title.

RAW Recall (13/06/2011): Truth Pours Cold Water Over An Allstar RAW

Truth adds insult to injury with his customary bottle of water

First out was The Miz to cut on Stone Cold and Alex Riley in what was a convincing and engaging promo, demanding an apology (with some justification) from Austin for his assault on him last week when he was an official, saying that he was indeed calling the Rattlesnake out. Austin didn’t have to be asked twice. Now I don’t know whether i’ve said this publicly before, but i’ve always thought Austin was always an overrated talker, but this time, I was very entertained by his words and delivery, telling Miz in his own foul-mouthed way that though he respected Miz’s achievements, it was his time to talk, and if Miz knew what was good for him, he would let him and leave the ring – which Miz (a great coward heel, remember) did. Austin wasn’t given peace though, as Alberto Del Rio came out next to interrupt Stone Cold, where he too managed to flourish, but it was a move which only landed him a match with the tag team partner of the man he injured (accidentally or not) with his car, Kane.

That match was next and was ok, but it was really meant as an angle to further his feud with Big Show and,o a lesser extent, Kane. Del Rio managed eventually to contain the rage of the Big Red Machine, getting him in to his cross arm-breaker. Kane reached the ropes, but Del Rio showed no mercy, not relinquishing the hold after 5 and earning himself a DQ but a statement to him and Show of his power. This was a message Show apparently heard as he ran as fast as i’ve ever seen him to the ring – surely he should have been selling his knee injury more! Nonetheless, the intensity of their coming together was believable and compelling, especially when Show turned his attentions to Ricardo Rodriguez, repeatedly pounding him in the head until he was completely unconscious. This therefore had multiple levels of build for the PPV match which was made immediately afterward, with Del Rio showing some brutally evil traits with his armbar attack on Kane, while the emotion of Big Show came across well to set up the classic money-maker of wanting to see the bastard heel punished by the unstoppable face of justice.

Following this was another nice match featuring Sin Cara and Daniel Bryan against Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, but this time with Ezekiel Jackson and Wade Barrett joining each team respectively. It wasn’t as long a match as their other outings and the inclusion of Big Zeke in a match with such otherwise refined talents didn’t help all that much. Nonetheless another eminently watchable match with these players, this time ending with a Sin Cara springboard-crossbody. One of the many things i’ve liked about Sin Cara has been that he’s won matches with many movessaving his match finishes from ever being predictable. What he needs now is to continue the current programme he’s in with AmDrag, Rhodes and DiBiase, but with some more of a personal issue injected therein. As for Zeke and Barrett, this was just more of them in the ring together (though not one-on-one) Not great build, but I guess it keeps them associated in memory.

Sheamus-Santino was ok for what it was. The real interest here came from the pushing of Sheamus’s power in the ring. Though Santino looked good at points, Sheamus was booked to overshadow him, even kicking out of the Cobra (the first ever person to – yes, kicking out of the Cobra is impressive given how it’s been booked!) before making Santino submit with the addition of a Cloverleaf – a welcome addition to Sheamus’s arsenal going forward as it adds a new dimension to his move-set, maturing it somewhat and equipping him to only become more impressive as he already is.

Out next was Randy Orton returning to RAW where he called out Christian under the guise of just wanting to talk. Christian didn’t bite and appeared on the tron, which Randy admitted was wise. Christian followed up with his best promo for a long time, saying he would only do something if he wanted to from now on, and asking the WWE Universe to poll whether he should come out, before refusing to do what they requested – a nice play on how he lost the World Title to begin with. Orton however managed to coax Christian out by taunting him with the charge of being carried by Edge. Before Orton could get his hands on Christian though, the RAW GM chimed in, claiming that Orton had a concussion and that he would be stripped of his title if he got physical with Christian. This was great build because it really amped up the tension while holding back the actual fighting for the PPV. These two really are great together. Christian didn’t escape action though, as he was made to take on Rey Mysterio immediately. This was fine, but apparently another angle-based match as after not too long Christian was DQ’d for not breaking a foot choke by 5 (though it looked very close – a mistake?) This was followed by the approach of the New Nexus with Mason Ryan eventually managing to get to Rey, despite some admirable fighting, and thrust him in to the ring-post before a predatory Christian would hit the Killswitch for added insult.

Earlier on, GM-Austin had punished R-Truth for an attack on Hornswoggle by booking him against someone his own size, John Morrison, something which surprised me given Morrison has just undergone surgery and would have recovered almost instantly. When Morrison was introduced, no one came out, and when R Truth, who got over as incredibly threatening, went to find Morrison, he eventually found him in a heap, seemingly beat up by Truth, and he added extra pain to Morrison’s experience, by absolutely crushing him with a storage crate. This was great because it makes Truth seem crazy and legitimately dangerous, keeps Morrison on-screen during his recovery, and provides us with a readymade feud when Morrison returns.

There was some nice play from Austin backstage as he made Ziggler admit he would drop Vickie Guerrero for a US title shot. On the plus side for Ziggler, he doesn’t have to drop Guerrero, but on the other hand, Vickie now knows she is a low priority for Ziggler. He and Jack Swagger then tagged against Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne. Another short one, but one I was glad to see Bourne shine in as he hit a shooting-star press for the victory.

Piper’s Pit with Miz and Alex Riley followed. Riley needs to stop wearing suits – HE LOOKS LIKE A HEEL … AND THE MIZ (just a niggling point there). Piper was another highlight for the show, really showing why he is considered arguably the best talker ever, giving A-Ry a rub and bamboozling Miz with his classic line “Just when you think you know all the answers, I change the questions.” This led to Miz berating Piper in retaliation, challenging him to a match with $5000 on the line from each man, which he would wrestle in his suit. Of course, that sort of stipulation meant that the resulting match would only go one way, especially once Austin made A-Ry the special guest ref. It was limited due to Piper’s age, but he can definitely still go and after Riley became a very physical referee, Miz retaliated, which allowed Riley to attack Miz who was knocked backwards, rolled up by Piper and pinned quickly for the loss. Cool segment, and did an ok job of building Miz-Riley, even if Riley wasovershadowed by the other two.

Before the main event there was a fantastic backstage segment between Stone Cold and CM Punk, a meeting which was highly anticpated by many wrestling fans following their twitter (kayfabe one must think) war of words. Indeed, Punk and Austin were excellent together, playing off each other’s completely opposite lifestyles. Punk using Austin’s ‘What?’ chant against him while Austin offered Punk a beer comically before calling him Punk in a more serious, Eastwood-esque ‘Punk’ and leaving.

The main event was the only match of the night given decent time, and it certainly delivered in terms of quality and PPV build. The crowd were seriously wild for this match, which always helps; the main chant being ‘Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks’. Punk and Cena always have decent chemistry, and that was the case again this week, but Punk was given an awful lot of offense, and performed it as sinisterly as he could – one point standing out where he had Cena in an abdominal stretch while twisting Cena’s ears and headbutting him. Punk followed this up with some nice dive attacks from the apron to the floor and then to top rope to the floor. Just as Cena started to recover towards the end of the match, however, R-Truth reappeared on the scene, approaching a ‘little Jimmy’ and offering him a trade of a Cena hat for a trade of water. This was brilliantly sinister, not only because the child seemed in danger generally, but also because of the violent associations Truth has with water (it’s both hilarious and brilliant that that works without being stupid!). This distracted Cena, and rightfully so, and so he tried to warn the kid off Truth, but this only let Punk recover to the point where he could hit a GTS to Cena for the win, a good sign for Punk. Following this, Truth entered the ring, telling Cena how he’d take his title on Sunday before using his water against him, hitting his Cool Shot finisher, and holding the WWE title above him.

Now, while I liked RAW, there were two omissions I didn’t like. The first one is Drew McIntyre. How is that he can’t get on a 3 hour RAW? Well it’s because 3 hours isn’t enough for showing the mid-lower card of both brands. Indeed, I will be writing on the subject of 3 hour specials for the Bleacher Report soon. Keep an eye on my twitter @RTVWOW for that. Hopefully his absence can be explained by him simply working on his new ‘American Nightmare’ character before returning to TV, but its a shame that he didn’t get a spot.

Even worse though was the baffling choice not to book Zack Ryder on the show, not even backstage! RAW came from Long Island, and so it would seem that featuring him, after he’s gotten himself over and after he was featured last week, not in Long Island. A lot of WWE talents and even more fans have spoken out against this mistake (that’s what it is unless they plan to make a weird storyline out of it). I don’t really have much more to say about this: Ryder is over, and got a huge pop for his Superstars match as he’s in his home town and has been seen on TV recently; and yet he was forgotten about. It’s easier to get it right than wrong and WWE somehow got it wrong.

Raw Recall (02/05/2011): Star-Spangled Birthday, #IWantChristian

Rocky is toasted by Vince and the fans

There is a fine line between national pride and the sense of closure/relief that comes with the perpetrator of an act of mass-international-terrorism, and sickly aggressive nationalistic grandstanding, especially when the the death of Osama Bin Laden will change nothing, and will bring a further sense of civilisational war and threat. For that reason, I will not give any more time to the anthem and pledge of allegiance which displeased me so.

In an interesting note, however, Shawn Daivari (one-time side-kick of Muhammad Hassan) made his WWE return at this weeks Smackdown tapings, losing to a babyface Ted DiBiase (good to hear in itself!) in a dark match. One of the few storylines i’m upset I missed when I wasn’t watching wrestling between roughly 2002/3-2008 was the Muhammad Hassan story. I thought it had the potential to be very progressive in terms of characterisation, and would welcome some sort of reprise of it with Shawn Daivari in light of the current American self-celebration.

R-Truth’s attack on John Morrison showed a RAW, furious aggression that it is rare to see. In this character, Truth has found the best that he is. He looked like a man absolutely beside himself with a sort of indignant fury, and his jumping cool shots continue to look devastating, especially the one on the top of the ramp. With Truth arguably costing Morrison the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules, this feud is progressing nicely.

Next up was Kelly Kelly vs Maryse, and very soon in to the match, we heard the cackle and music of KHARMA! I like how the divas she approaches are glued to the spot. It gives Kharma something of a supernatural presence, though not one that is too-other-worldly to be believable. With Maryse out (she really sold that bulldog from Kelly Kelly!) Kharma entered the ring with Kelly cowering in the corner. But instead of going after Kelly, she picked up Maryse and hit her Implant Buster on her, which Maryse received brilliantly btw. She then looked to Kelly and left the ring. It seems then that Kharma will be working in some way, primarily with Kelly, and Kelly really is the perfect choice. Her real name is Barbie (yeah …) and she epitomises everything of the barbie-doll contingent of the divas division. Kharmas entrance has been one of the best introductions in years, and major kudos should go to HHH for being a huge driving force behind this initiative. It seems the divas division will be shaken up!

The WWE Championship match, which aired at the top of the hour, instead of as the main event (!) This was a very good match, and helped by the hot Miami crowd, which were also very in to this match – a testiment to the Storytelling of Miz and Cena. There weren’t many unique spots or anything, but it was just great back and forth which built at a good pace, to a zenith. One nice progression came though when Miz was hitting boots to Cena’s head. The second time he went for it though, Cena avoided it and reversed in to an STF. the tension grew when Cena hit an AA, and Miz, again, kicked out of it. He really is the real deal. Following that, Riley managed to distract the referee long enough to allow a belt shot from Miz, who then hid the belt behind Cena’s body to get the three count! I couldn’t believe it, I thought it was going to be a flawed but exciting continuation of Miz/Rock/Cena (as it also would have affected Cena’s cause of keeping the title until WrestleMania. Before I could really get my head around what had happened though, the referee had worked out what had happened and reversed the decision. Well, why? My instinct right now makes me think that this will just be a justification for a re-match, by why use a re-match as justification for a statutory re-match!? What these two need is a clean finish. Make this a non-title match with the exact same booking and it works better. Also, this, despite the finish, was a great match, and it is ridiculous that it wasn’t the main event.

Next up was a tag match between four guys who had just arrived to RAW from Smackdown, which was a good idea. I don’t have that much to say about the match itself. It was pretty nice, but what really stood out was the continuing growth as Drew McIntyre. He and Swagger had really nice tag team chemistry (making me think pairing them for a while might be a good idea) while he really kept to grow as a heel persona. He’s always had a good air to him, but he’s been carrying it even better recently and he achieved this again with some really snide looks to the audience. Its such a simple thing, but it will help make him even more of a star.

The main event was weird in that it was Kane vs Mason Ryan. This was basically a Nexus angle, with CM Punk attacking Kane eventually to help Ryan. On his own though, he took down Big Show as well, shockingly (well, sort of), with a Spear before leaving the ring without the rest of Nexus. Still, despite this definite surge forward, i’m still struggling to get interested in this story. There seems to be a parallel here with the break-up of the Corre (who this week ‘excommunicated’ Ezekiel Jackson) which i’m finding more interesting. Perhaps the storylines will link? It’s hard to think how this could happen, but the Nexus really needs something inject some life in to this previously red-hot faction.

The final segment was the Rock’s segment. Now, while I love The Rock, and while he can make great TV, I just think that this is the sort of thing that should not be the main event segment. The end of the show should leave a cliffhanger if you want to draw people to the next show. The Rock’s moment with Vince was touching, but next week, when The Rock isn’t around, who will be drawn to watch the rest of the guys by that segment. At the least, that segment should have been swapped with the WWE Championship match, and even more, though the back-stage face off between Cena and Rock was great, that should have happened in the ring during the birthday segment and really made something of it for their WrestleMania match. Still, the fans seemed to love it, so there’s only so much I can criticise it.

Finally, I was planning to talk about the hugely controversial Christian/Orton situation. Now, not being able to finish this until Friday, this isn’t even a spoiler, but only five days after (in TV time) winning the World Heavyweight Championship, he dropped the title to Randy Orton. Now I was, like many others, absolutely furious when I heard about this on twitter (btw, follow me at @RTVWOW for more thoughts on the World of Wrasslin!). Like everyone else, my knee-jerk reaction was that Christian (as well as Edge and the fans ) were being totally disrespected by Vince specifically. And there is reason to think this: it is widely ‘known’ that Vince isn’t high on Christian as a top guy, and secondly, it has been reported that whether Christian or Del Rio won at Extreme Rules, the title would go to Orton soon anyway; the conclusion being that all of the emotional investment from the fans in Christian was essentially disingenuous. Now, i’m not saying this is the case, but while I was waiting to write this, Chris Jericho tweeted about the situation, rightly saying that we should all calm down as it might all be a storyline. This is obviously wise, especially now that the #IWantChristian campaign has come to the attention of WWE. The touching and spectacular outpouring for Christian will doubtlessly encourage WWE to invest more in him. Their match on Smackdown, despite the hurt of Christian’s loss, was an excellent match and a possible MOTY candidate. If it was just a way of getting the title off Christian as soon as possible, I will be upset because, while Orton is obviously now the guy on Smackdown, i’m sure he could wait a PPV or two before getting the title. If it is, then there is only one way it can really go. Orton is hugely popular and is getting monster pops. Indeed, the whole reason he is on Smackdown is to replace Edge as top face, so turning him heel here would be a mistake. So either this is made in to a feud of honour between Orton and Christian with Orton showing respect to Christian in respect. The other option is that Christian turns heel with the obvious reasoning of being ‘screwed’ out of his title and his dream while Edge was no where to be seen and his ‘peeps’ were no help to him. Hopefully, what initially seemed like a sickening show of disrespect towards Captain Charisma will be used to make a great storyline and a series of matches just as good as the one on this week’s Smackdown.

Extreme Rules, 2011: Christian Reaches the Summit

Christian wins his first ever World Title, following on from his best friend Edge

Ok, i’ll be up-front about this; this write-up isn’t going to be the most detailed of write-ups, just because I don’t have the time to put that much detail in. It’s a shame too because I really enjoyed last night’s PPV. Every match (the Cole match aside, which ‘was what it was’) really delivered in my eyes, even if some of the results in themselves weren’t to my liking.

Match 1) Randy Orton def. CM Punk in a Last Man Standing Match
It didn’t seem to me that the crowd wasn’t that in to this match, which is a shame because this match was predictably really good. One of the most frequent criticisms of Extreme Rules is that it isn’t that ‘extreme’. Well I don’t think that could be said about this match at least. There were a lot of enthralling hard-to-watch spots in this match, from an RKO on the announce table, the onslaught of kendo shots to Punk while he was in the corner, and the sickening shot to the ring-post to Randy Orton with his head in a chair, amongst much more. This was a well thought out brawl, and despite losing, CM Punk didn’t look weak, often out-wrestling Orton and kicking out of some of his strongest moves. The finish was pretty good though not that original with a super RKO to Punk ending it. I understand why Punk lost: Orton is now top dog on Smackdown and has to carry that, while Punk’s future at the company seems uncertain. Nonetheless, I would have liked to see Punk go over as he deserves one big win in this feud.

Match 2) Kofi Kingston def. Sheamus in a Tables Match to Win the United States Championship
This was an impromptu match, and so, the competitors may be forgiven for putting on a so-so match, and indeed, it seemed like that might be the case initially. The match started off slowly, but really built around Kofi surviving against the seemingly unstoppable Celtic Warrior, jumping over the table following a brogue kick for instance. Eventually, Kofi managed to turn the tide, showing a resilience and a fighting spirit he may not have been able to show at times in the past. The spot which finished the match was spectacular. Initially, though Sheamus was stood next to the table, he didn’t seem vulnerable to going through the table. But then, Kofi leaped from the turnbuckle, landing on Sheamus and dropping him through the table with a devastating boom-drop. A nice match, especially given that the match didn’t receive much build and wasn’t even listed.

Match 3) Michael Cole & Jack Swagger def. Jerry “The King” Lawler & J.R. in a Country Whipping Match
The low point, the black hole if you will, of the night. This was better then their attempt at an actual wrestling match at WrestleMania, but it was still far from a good match, though obviously, that wasn’t the intention. The problem was that this wasn’t the blow-off. I know Cole is getting the most heat right now, and that the people are loving seeing J.R., but this really needed to be the blowoff. And what better match to do that in than a whipping match! I know the angle is popular, but the matches are not. There is nothing long with people wanting more if that is required.

Match 4) Rey Mysterio def. Cody Rhodes in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
This was another very good match that will probably be the blowoff of this excellent feud between Mysterio and Rhodes. This one went the right way as it left the ring pretty quickly, and was appropriately brutal given the hard feelings that have grown between the two characters. They made their way up the ramp first, and Mysterio reversed Rhodes and threw him in to the tron in an echo of Rhodes’ original beat-down of Mysterio. Then, they moved in to the crowd, and we saw a really cool spot with Rhodes putting Mysterio in a Boston Crab while he was wrapped in a hand-rail. In a different part of the arena, there was another nice storyline idea as Mysterio forced Rhodes to look at himself in the mirror, before Rhodes reacted by hitting a Beautiful Disaster from the wall. The only problem was that the finish had to finish in the ring because of Mysterio’s move-set (well, not necessarily, but more easily) which was part of my reasoning for predicting Rhodes to win. The finish was nice despite that, with Mysterio hitting Rhodes with some mist (Great Muta/Tajiri style) before hitting a 619 for the win. The match was nice, but I do always think that falls count anywhere matches that the matches should finish outside the ring, and the fact that it didn’t hurt the match. Other than that, another very well thought out match.

Match 5) Layla def. Michelle McCool in a No DQ, No Count-Out, Loser Leaves WWE Match
Very nice divas match here. As i’ve said before, the story here wrote itself, though the aspect WWE added (that Layla could hardly bare to fight Michelle) was a nice aspect as it showed how close the two were while adding an extra psychological dimension to every move she executed. Before the match, Layla apologised to all the divas for all the things she’d done as a member of LayCool in a segment which she did a good job of making it seem sincere, so it seems here babyface turn is confirmed. The match itself was really brutal, and just goes to show that at least some of the divas can really bring it physically. This started when McCool big-booted Layla right off the top rope during her entrance pose to kick things off (LITERALLY!) Lots of brawling ringside with the barricades and announce table before they made their way back to the ring. Layla hit her floatover stunner from the turnbuckle for a nice near-fall, and, speaking of psychology, when Michelle kicked out, Layla really seemed devastated as she would have to continue punishing someone she is so emotionally connected to. After some more nice progressions, McCool hit a Faithbreaker, but as she pinned Layla, Lay reversed in to a crucifix pin for the victory. A nice reversal, but maybe a slightly lacklustre finish? I think that’s a bit harsh, but I might have appreciated a bit more of a punchy end. Both girls in tears at this point and it was certainly very emotional. Great of McCool to do her duty and put Layla over, and while i’ve heard the dreaded word ‘retirement’, I really hope to see her again.

Then we heard Kharma’s music! The build for her character has been fantastic, and this was such an exciting moment. Her music and her demeanor was very affecting, especially since they gave her the ‘Andre’ shot from the ground, making her seem even bigger. She was absolutely terrifying, and for Michelle’s part, she played it fantastically,frozen to the spot like in a horror film. She then took a huge Implant Buster from Kharma who reverted to periodic, spasmodic laughter (which must be very difficult to do). Huge impact, and thanks to Michelle. Firstly for putting over 2 divas in one night, but more importantly, if she is retiring, for everything she’s done for the fans. Great worker, and one of the stand-out divas of recent years.

Match 6) Christian def. Alberto Del Rio in a Ladder Match to Become the BRAND NEW World Heavyweight Champion
At the start of this post, I said that I wouldn’t be able to go in to too much detail, and that is still the case i’m afraid. I feel bad, because this deserves all the attention it gets, but unfortunately, I really need to finish this sucker! Every second of this match delivered, so I wont even go in to too many specific spots. I will, however, mention what looked like it was meant to be a snap-ladder spot. With Christian draped across a ladder wedged between the ring apron and the announce table, Del Rio went for an elbow-drop from the turnbuckle, only for Christian to move and Del Rio to crash, sickeningly in to the ladder, which did NOT snap. If anything, I think that made it more visually affecting that the clean ladder-snap. It looked so brutal. Del Rio regained the upper hand though, and looked ‘destined’ to collect the World Title when Edge came in in a jeep for enough of a distraction (though not enough of one to reasonably claim that Del Rio was ‘screwed’) to allow Christian to push Del Rio out of the ring on to Ricardo Rodriguez and a disgustingly busted open Brodus Clay (seriously, there was a PUDDLE of blood (not to be confused with a Puddle of Mudd)) and claim the title as his friend Edge watched on approvingly. It was exactly what the WWE Universe wanted to see, and personally, for me, it was so touching, having had some of my formative wrestling viewing experiences watching Edge & Christian. Christian was incredibly moved by this, and as a fan, this is what you want to see. Someone who cares about achieving these goals and realises how blessed they are. Beautiful.

Match 7) Kane & The Big Show def. Wade Barrett & Ezekiel Jackson (Corre) in a Tag Team Lumberjack Match to Retain the WWE Tag Team Championships
I literally almost forgot that this match even happened. Its not that this was bad, but it simply served these guys by progressing the Corre fragmenting story. That is a job for TV. It didn’t last that long, but it would be time better allotted to another match (Layla/McCool?).

Match 8) John Cena def. The Miz and John Morrison to Win the WWE Championship
One of my few criticisms of this PPV is that the main event should have been the previous match. I understand that this match was about the ‘A’ brand, and the WWE’s top stars and the top title changing hands, but the truly iconic moment came just before this. It is a shame that Christian’s moment had to compete with Cena’s. Having said that, this main event was great in itself, and, probably helped by the intervening tag match, didn’t suffer from following Christain’s win. This was very well booked specifically as a triple threat cage match, with jeopardy at every turn from the third wheel having chances to escape while the other competitors don’t even notice. There were some great dramatic moments from that conceit alone. Other than that, just lots of nice spots and very good drama. Miz took a couple of horrible bumps, especially that double superplex from the ropes from which he landed on his neck! They also used the cage door very well at times. There was one point when Cena and Morrison were fighting atop the cage. Miz, trying to escape from the door, was stopped by Morrison who used his leg to slam the door in his face. I know this doesn’t sound particularly great, but considering he was focused on Cena, and the nonchalance with which he did it made it seem unique and cool. This was followed by another really arresting image of Morrison being dragged back in to the cage, from the the top, through the door, by Miz before Cena hit him with a Monkey Flip (more additions to Cena’s move-set, but will no doubt people will still call him out for using ‘5 moves’). Later on, Morrison looked destined to escape the cage, when R-Truth appeared to stop him. I really liked how this was booked. Truth absolutely decimated Morrison. I loved him being in the cage, and I loved even more how he beat down Cena and climbed out to prove a point. Excellent stuff and a definite impact from Truth. JoMo was out of the match from this point, leaving just Miz and Cena. Atop the turnbuckle, Miz teased a super-Skull-Crushing Finalé, but what we got was a super-Attitude Adjustment and a three-count for Cena. It was a very good match, and Miz had had a 159 day reign (pretty long by any marker), so it’s hard to legitimately complain, but I really don’t think Cena should have won. It seems now that Cena is going to hold that title until WrestleMania (following his confrontation with Rock on the following night’s RAW). Not only is a year-long Cena champ what few want to see (though it will add nice prestige to the title I must admit, and make his eventual losing of it seem huge), I would have rather had that effect on Miz’s reign. He’s a top guy now for sure anyway, but imagine if he’d have had the title until, say, Summerslam? Not only that, but it deprives WWE and its Universe of a good face-chase story, with Cena being denied the title by various different means, again, making his eventual capturing of it seem like a dramatic peak. All this said, it’s not the worst decision ever. It does make sense. I just would have rather Miz continue his reign.

Overall, probably the best non-major PPV in a long time. The two tag matches were not very satisfying, but those aside, consistently high quality matches, and mixed in with Michelle’s emotional exit, Kharma’s impactful debut, and Christian’s title win, this PPV was a very good one. Even a rare iconic non-major PPV. Maybe. Time will tell.

One more thing! For those of you that read and enjoy, please try and show that somehow (comments, likes etc), and if you want further thoughts from me, and comments on the biz, follow me on twitter @RTVWOW Here’s a link too: http://twitter.com/#!/RTVWOW I just tweeted, for instance, on TNA’s name change. Go see what I said!

Smack of the Week (22/04/2011): Reaching for the Brass Ring

Throughout this week’s episode of Smackdown, the World Heavyweight Championship was symbolically hanging above the ring, which was a nice touch as it made the title seem really special and prestigious. The night was dubbed a ‘night of champions’, which is ridiculous seen as they have a PPV on that concept. Nonetheless, it brings a certain prestige to the episode.

Rhodes provided the first promo of the night, and in many ways, this was my favourite part of the show. At first I thought he was churning out an identikit heel promo on Mysterio and hiding behind a mask (which we’ve heard at least once), but when he started handed out the paper bags with different expressions on them was brilliant, and a lot of people at ring-side (at least for a time, some longer than others) kept them on, making for a very striking image. It was incredibly sinister to see so many people potentially showing solidarity with this violently deranged character. He’s really started to carry this well in his movement and in the sound of his voice, as well as in his match. For a guy who I suppose is best described as a technical wrestler, he has taken on more elements of a brawler. He was, at times, beating Mysterio down and it was difficult to watch in the exact way it was supposed to be. He and Mysterio went back and forth, though usually with Rhodes on top, using the light-weight Mysterio in innovative ways (his torture-rack style back-breaker being really cool, for instance). The end came when Mysterio reversed a powerbomb attempt in to a sit down pin for the win. Rhodes, who had been on top, felt aggrieved at not being vindicated in victory, attacked Mysterio post-match, and a drawn-out brawl ensued. This was good, and kept up the level of intensity between them, with the moral stances of either man turning to shades of grey as both men were aggressors in this post-match brawl. They could have used the environment better, but it was all a set-up for booking a falls-count-anywhere match between the two, so maybe some action was being saved for next week and the PPV.

Great to see Barreta on TV, but equally good to see Swagger looking strong. Fans of Barreta may not like it, but at this point, just being on TV is good for him. He could be a big deal in the future, but for now, it’s important for Swagger to look strong, and he did.

Kane and Big Show had a nice match with Gabriel and Slater of Corre, going over and winning the Tag Titles. There’s not much to say about this really, other than the fact that it seems to be part of big changes, and possibly the end of the Corre. For the record, I will again state that Corre, before WrestleMania, were looking strong and that they should be allowed to continue for longer than it seems they are going to. After the match, Slater and Gabriel criticised Jackson for not being effective at ringside before Slater pushed Gabriel over. A lot still up in the air, and it could be good, but they would do well to keep Corre together.

There was another LayCool ‘couples therapy’ segment. This was cool enough, and they went a ways to really set up the face/heel demarcations, with Layla being emotionally hurt by a cold Michelle McCool to the point where she actually cried (very hard for me to watch!) before McCool attacked Layla from behind after initially apologising. Though the attack wasn’t that brutal or lengthy, it surely has to mark the end of the very successful LayCool partnership. Layla has come such a long way in the past 1/2 years, and I think she’ll get over as a face very easily, and surely feuding with McCool, this will be one of the best addressed and closely thought out diva storylines in a long time. That, in itself, makes it very important, and I hope it’s, indeed, given good thought and time, and hopefully lasts for a good few months.

It would have been easy for Barrett to drop the Intercontinental Championship after his Corre brethren dropped the tag titles, but thankfully he didn’t. Nice stuff from both guys here, but again the story was surrounded by Corre. Ringside, Ezekiel Jackson was attempting to help Barrett, but instead ended up clotheslining Barrett brutally (though that spot wasn’t that well realised as Jackson only ever looked like hitting Barrett). It was interesting that Barrett sent Jackson to the back and went on to pin Kingston relatively clean and without any help. Could this hint at a Barrett face-turn? I’m not sure whether that’s a good idea, but again, it could be realised well.

The final segment was very nice. It was Alberto Del Rio’s ‘Retirement Party’ for Edge, which is obviously an easy heat-drawer. But this was funny as well as brutal in it’s awkward honesty about Edge’s situation. He revealed several ‘presents’ for Edge, including a grandfather clock, ‘to watch the time go by’, adult diapers to compensate for the consequences of the damage to his body, a stroller, and an electric mobility scooter, driven by Ricardo Rodriguez, who still used Edge’s pyro, which was hilariously brilliant. Then out came Edge to challenge Del Rio, who set Brodus Clay after the now vulnerable Rated R Superstar, which turned out to be a trap when Christian blindsided Clay with a ladder and turned to fend off Del Rio, again using the weapon he is so associated with and symbolic of his main event at Extreme Rules. This gave him the time to set the ladder up, and again, symbolically take the World Title down from the noose to send a message of intent to Del Rio while sharing a look of approval from Edge. This was good build for the Extreme Rules match, but part of me thinks that Edge needs to stop being involved in this angle. Had Christian be the one for his music to hit and confront the heels, maybe he would have been able to steal more of the limelight for himself and make more impact than perhaps he did. Nonetheless, pretty good stuff.

Smack of the Week (15/04/2011): Edge’s Final Bow and Christian’s First?

Following the shock announcement from Edge on RAW that he was being forced to retire due to injury, it was clear that this episode of Smackdown was going to be an emotional one, and indeed, one dominated by the emotion of the situation. The opening of the show was covered by a blanket of fragile atmosphere, which made the hitting of Alberto Del Rio’s music all the more charged. I was wondering whether they would use Edge’s retirement to draw heat, and I thought they should either do it and really go for it, or not go for it at all, and what we got was quite a conservative attempt at heat-drawing. I liked how he claimed to have been responsible for Edge’s retirement, and wanted Edge to come and surrender the title, but Del Rio seemed to be holding back a little out of deference in terms of tone. If he would have been absolutely vile about it, and held a celebration and all that sort of thing, it would have been awesome.

The fall of Corre seems to be continuing, much to my disappointment. Big Zeke’s match with Kingston was ok, but the manner of his win was a big step towards a split of some sort. On the way to beating Kingston, Jackson threw him in to the other three members of the Corre in quite a nice spot and a message to the other members. The way I see it going down at the minute is Zeke turning face against Corre and Corre adding another heel member in replacement. I think Zeke being the only one without a title will alienate him from the rest of the group, and the conflict will bring the three title-holders together.

Great to see Drew McIntyre have another match against a top star in Rey Mysterio. Mysterio is great, due to his size and weight, for giving his opponents more scope to do something innovative with, and for making his opponents look great, and vice-versa. That was the case with really great guys like Chris Jericho and CM Punk, and I think McIntyre embraced this opportunity equally. He was coming up with some cool reversals for Mysterio’s offense and just really clicking with him. McIntyre was very impressive in his aggressiveness and really carried himself well throughout the match. After lots of back-and-forth, Mysterio finally got the upper-hand and went over, but this wasn’t a burial by any stretch. In fact, the announcers made a point of putting McIntyre over as an improving talent. In fact, even in defeat, McIntyre seemed to be getting a little push, perhaps as a result of Edge’s retirement. At the minute, he’s between feuds, and will need something – maybe joining Corre?

The break-up of LayCool kept accelerating this week, perhaps to complete breaking point. Right from the start, McCool seemed distant, not participating in their ‘couples therapy’ or their choreographed entrance. Layla’s match with Kelly Kelly was ok, but it was all about LayCool, with McCool, ostensibly helping Layla back in to the ring, but doing so very aggressively, so much so that Layla lost nonetheless. I understand them wanting to make sure the very ‘marketable’ Kelly on TV, but her going over Layla made Layla seem very weak. Following that was the understandable post-match argument about the lack of success which culminated in McCool pushing Layla over before exiting the ring. Layla is way more popular, so making her babyface, which it seems they are doing, is the right choice, and i’m very happy about that, because I think she can rise to being one of the very top divas. On the way to the back, McCool said ‘lets see how you do without me’. I don’t know whether we were meant to hear that, but if we were, it’s quite exciting stuff. I’ve been looking forward to this split, though I think Extreme Rules is a bit of a small stage for this story, which involves the most exposed and carefully created divas in the company.

The main-event was the Battle Royale for, I suppose, the #2 contendership to the World Heavyweight Championship. There’s never much to say about a battle royale, but what I will say is that it did a good job of making me doubt my strong instinct that Christian would win. When it got down to the final four or so, and Swagger was still there after Cole had promised to redeem himself with Swagger, I started to think that Swagger could progress, and this is even given that Swagger was already booked in a match for Extreme Rules, and is a heel. I really liked the spot where Cole came out and shielded Swagger from a 619 to save him in the match and help him make it to the final 2. Eventually, Christian did manage to get the win and the right result, but in a match which is simply an exciting, chaotic way to highlight one guy, they did a good job of inserting some nice spots into there and making it less formulaic.

This is great for Christian. He at least deserves a World Championship match in his career, if not a reign. If it was me, eventhough it’s obvious, I would like to see him be the one to take Edge’s place, though even if he doesn’t at Extreme Rules, I think he will continue to feud over the title with Del Rio, getting his deserved main event status. Earlier in the night, Edge had shown incredible dignity when relinquishing the World Title, making it seem more prestigious, and following this, down came Edge again to congratulate his long time friend, along with Big Show, Rey and Chavo, all of whom are great friends, along with the rest of the lockerroom showing Edge huge respect by standing on the stage and applauding. There was even the very special moment of one last ‘5 second pose’ from E&C which was very touching apart from being just awesome. Even HHH came down, perhaps to show some official respect from WWE to the Rated R Superstar – though i’m sure it was genuine emotion for sure. There was another incredibly touching speech from Edge, which is better seen than described. The chants of ‘Hall of Fame’ from the crowd moved everybody and Edge especially, and I think he will definitely make it, and is certainly deserving, probably the next time WrestleMania is in Toronto.

Edge’s final farewell in two parts: