Summerslam Review, 2012: Lesnar Dominates But Triple H Is Still The Story

HHH stands humbled before the WWE Universe after being forced to tap out to Brock Lesnar

HHH stands humbled before the WWE Universe after being forced to tap out to Brock Lesnar

‘The Biggest Event of the Summer has happened, and it was a very strong PPV, though i’m less sure whether it felt like a 25th Anniversary of the second biggest PPV in wrestling. We’ll see how I feel once i’ve finished writing about it … Match 1) Chris Jericho def. Dolph Ziggler I was initially surprised that this match opened the show, but in retrospect, it seems a very good choice. The first obvious reason for this was that Jericho and Ziggler were always going to put on a great match, and get the crowd going for the rest of the show. The other good reason for (in some people’s eyes), burying it at the bottom of the card, was the result in which the next big star loses. This wasn’t a match of spectacular originality, but it was one of near flawless technical prowess. I’ve noticed that as Y2J, Jericho’s technique is at but more blunt, crossbodys, flying elbows, and his stronger style worked well with Ziggler’s selling especially and his working Jericho’s stomach. This strong story built and built towards its climax, with Jericho and Ziggler both getting good near-falls, including the best one where Ziggler got his knees up for a Lionsault before hitting his fame-asser before Jericho kicked out! Trying to follow up, Ziggler charged Jericho, but the veteran Jericho managed to dodge, sending Ziggler in to the ring post and back in to the Liontamer Walls of Jericho, making Ziggler tap! At first I was shocked (if you read my review you’ll remember I said it only makes sense for Ziggler to go over), but I realised soon how good Jericho had made Ziggler look, and how little Ziggler had lost, especially with the MITB briefcase. Even better was the fact that Ziggler beat Jericho the next night in a match that got Jericho ‘fired’ in a match way further up the card – the last match in fact. This, with the match the next night was not only fantastic, but helped Ziggler’s profile an awful lot! Match 2) Daniel Bryan def. Kane This was a match that wasn’t too well built, but nonetheless succeeded in being entertaining. The real story was about Bryan using his speed and smarts to take on the raw power of Kane. There was a lot of back and forth with Kane brutalising Bryan and Bryan hitting the monster and moving. The match twisted on Bryan slapping Kane to make him furious, trying to coax Kane to get disqualified, and that nearly happened, but I was glad when it didn’t because its been done quite a bit of late, and would be a bit of a kop out on a big 4 PPV. The finish was good as Bryan managed to down Kane with a roundhouse before going for a Benoit headbutt, only to be caught by Kane round the throat for a Chokeslam. Unsatisfied, he wanted a Tombstone Piledriver, but this was too much, and AmDrag managed to roll up Kane for the win, leaving a furious Kane storming around backstage, assaulting Josh Matthews and looking for revenge on Bryan. By the time the match was over, a nothing feud had become more tense and meaningful, while Bryan had scored a big, high-profile victory over Kane at Summerslam – so a good job by all!

Match 3) The Miz def. Rey Mysterio to Retain the Intercontinental Championship
This was a very very good match, with Miz working hard and using Rey’s size and skill to be able to look great. Miz also seems to have learned a lot from Jericho when it comes to Rey, including that surfboard style backbreaker Jericho used which is ideal for Rey. Now, a man I grudgingly respect, Luther Blissett, has been very complimentary of this match, and I do indeed remember it being good. I can’t, however, remember too much from it for the most part. Rey made Miz look great while looking great, but the real memorable moments only came at the finish (which to be fair, is the most crucial point of the match!). Indeed, the finishing sequence was great as Rey countered being shouldered in to a DDT, headed to the top, only to be stopped by Miz, who only got hurricanrana’d for his troubles in to the 619 position. After eating a 619, Rey went to ‘drop the dime’, Miz countered, looking for the Scull Crushing Finalé. Rey reversed this – again, due to his size – in to a roll up for a good near fall. But Miz was just strong enough to send him to the turnbuckle and catch him back with a SCF for the win. Rey has nothing to lose now. He’s so respected and adored, and he really helped put Miz over here in a good match. It was a clean win too, so hopefully both can move on to new opponents. I’d like to see Kofi Kingston given a chance to shine against Miz. That would be a fresh and potentially interesting feud given how over they both are, and as for Rey, its harder to determine; he’s something of a journeyman now. Both main title pictures seem sown up … so i’d put him in an attraction feud with Big Show perhaps, or even better, if Damien Sandow has finished civilising Brodus Clay soon, have him against Rey w/ mask storyline (easy I know, but with Sandow, it could be great, “savage civilisations worship masks. I am enlightened, and I will enlighten you by removing your uncivilised and cowardly visage.” IMAGINE.

Note: This is where I got up to in my review before returning to it on Monday. Because time has passed and I really want to get this done, so from here on in, this review might not be the most detailed. My apologies.

Match 4) Sheamus def. Alberto Del Rio to Retain the World Heavyweight Championship
I found this match very good. Del Rio’s classy technicality is usually the counterpoint to Sheamus’s ‘hooligan’ brutality, and at times it was, but what made this match work even more was the fact that Del Rio was fighting as brutally as Sheamus. It was a true fight, and back-and-forth encounter between the two. It built well too with near falls becoming more and more believable, especially the one Del Rio earned after dropping Sheamus on the exposed turnbuckle and following up with an enziguiri for two. This frustrated Del Rio, and Ricardo Rodriguez went to toss a shoe at Sheamus; however, Sheamus caught it and hit Del Rio with it himself before hitting the Irish Curse backbreaker. Del Rio saved himself by putting his foot on the ropes – only for Sheamus to remove it to get the three count. Now I did think that this made Sheamus a bad babyface and a bad role model; but then I thought about his character. As a friend pointed out, this is Sheamus as a better character than a bland babyface, and he is right. We know instinctively that Sheamus is a better person than Del Rio, even if he does cheeky, non-admirable things. This carried on on RAW, and Del Rio earned the #1 Contendership again in impressive fashion by tapping out Randy Orton on Smackdown. The heat in this feud has only gotten hotter, and I expect their future together to be captivating.

Match 5) R-Truth & Kofi Kingston def. The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O’Neill) to Retail the WWE Tag Team Championships
Not much to say about this match. The PTP’s are a charismatic team, but I didn’t expect much from them in the match, but to be fair, they did their part well in the match, facilitating mainly Kofi’s spectacular offense. In the end, Kofi and Truth managed to overcome the  PTP’s to retain the titles. This seemed strange boobing to me, as the PTP’s seems the hottest thing in the division, while Kofi and Truth have been vanilla champions. Nonetheless, since then, there was that multi-team backstage brawl which suggested – I hope – at a spicing up of the division!

Match 6) CM Punk def. The Big Show and John Cena to Retain the WWE Championship
While, objectively, this match should have been the main event (i’m hoping it not being was to play to Punk’s ‘Respect’ angle). This was a fun match as Big Show is such a different opponent to Punk or Cena. Early on, Show used his sheer power to gain control early on, and forced Punk and Cena to put their differences aside to work on Show, both trying – unsuccessfully – to shoulder Show for their finishers. Indeed, Show was central to the success of this match, including the spot where he went for  Vader Bomb on both men, only for Punk to move out of the way, and leaving Cena to take the hit – a move which foreshadowed the finish of the match. As time went on, the ascendancy moved between the three before Cena and Punk moved back to working together against the Giant, Punk slapping on a Kuji Clutch (I believe) while Cena added an STF, making Show tap. This led to a bit of a dusty finish with Punk and Cena both claiming victory and AJ having to restart the match. I would have liked Show to be eliminated at this point and let Cena and Punk go at it (of course that would have ruined the finish but how was I to know), but it was quite a nice swerve anyway. This allowed Show time to recover enough to double Chokeslam the two, not being able to keep either man down. At this point, the finish was building nicely with Show attempting a WMD on Cena, only for Cena to duck it and hit an AA. You’da thought Cena was going to get the win here, but the wily Punk threw Cena out of the ring, outsmarting him, to cover Show for the win. Good finish in that it was shades-of-grey Punk proving he was Best in the World in terms of smarts too. Hardly noble, but still a fair and clean win, leading to him and Cena facing off again next month.

Match 7) Brock Lesnar def. Triple H
There is no doubt this was a brutal match, so respect for that. For what it was too, it was entertaining. Seeing HHH repeatedly dominate  Lesnar out of his ring made me groan for a while, but I did appreciate the sheer pain Trips must have gone through during the match, getting beat down by Lesnar. A very good brawl with not much else to say about it other than that. Finally, Lesnar started breaking Trips down and got him to tap to the Kimura Lock. My reaction was “Great! HHH does a job for the best of the company in a pretty compelling match!” But then we got 10 minutes (minutes apparently taken from other matches) of Triple H sad face. When everyone realised that this story was all about super brave HHH and not as much about Lesnar being a destroyer (though we got that story on RAW) the fans started turning on him with ‘you tapped out’ and ‘na na na na’ chants. This is because HHH hasn’t seemed vulnerable in years, He shakes off broken arms, is the only one to really take it to Lesnar (excluding a flukey Cena win), so he didn’t earn the compassion. Good match, but the wrong story at the end, and the wrong match in the main event.

Altogether, Summerslam was a good PPV. I enjoyed it, but was that good enough. This is Summerslam – the second most important PPV in wrestling, and not only that, but the 25th Anniversary of that event. It should have been special, memorable, and it just wasn’t; unlike last year, or the year before, which is ultimately, a shame.

Summerslam Preview & Predictions, 2012

Summerslam 19/08/2012, from the Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

Summerslam is one of the biggest events in wrestling, and a big attraction in itself. I must admit, however, that I haven’t been quite so taken with the line-up this year. Punk;s shift has been interesting, and a move back towards the sincerely snarling Punk of around a year ago, which is welcome, but the move has lacked the power of other Summer angles like The Nexus or The Summer of Punk itself. I’m looking forward most to the WWE title match as I expect some sort of major furtherment to that angle, as well as Jericho-Ziggler because those two are destined to have a great match just due to their abilities.

Match 1) Intercontinental Championship Match: The Miz (c) vs Rey Mysterio
This match may open the card just because it’ll be a strog opener for a prestigious championship, and a good way to get the show open with a bang. I also think the result points to it too. Rey has no problem putting guys over, and the Miz has only been champion for a month or so, so he wont be dropping it surely. However, with Mysterio being back, and seemingly totally healthy, he should be able to have a very good match with the Miz who is one of those guys who can’t really make a great match, but can be a part of one. Whether or not Miz wins clean will depend on if they have a feud going. I think there’s potential for him to go over clean here and move on, although it would probably be in Rey’s interest to lose to some sort of dastardly method and have another match at the next PPV.

Winner: The Miz

Match 2) Kane vs Daniel Bryan
This is a weird one. The match itself I have little to no interest in; although these two have ‘a history’, it just feels like they’re two guys they want on PPV who have just been thrown together. And I can’t blame them for wanting Bryan there. His ‘Yes/No’ chant has brought out the troublemaker/bully in the crowd, who love to taunt him with it, and it makes for an electric atmosphere (in fact, maybe this should be the opener for that reason!). It is also better as a heel phrase because when he was chanting yes, it was affirmative, and because of the support for him, it almost became inspiring; by rejecting that, and chanting the negative, he’s rejecting all of that good will, and ruining (though he’s really only supporting) the fun of the audience. Bryan’s a great wrestler, and Kane works his character well. It could be a good match just due to that and the atmosphere. As for the winner, its a hard decision. They may want Bryan to slide more in to an angry fervour, but I decided to plump for them wanting to give him a big win on a big stage.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Match 3) Tag Team Championship Match: Kofi Kingston & R-Truth (c) vs The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O’Neill)
This is a match besieged by backstage politics. In one hand you have the Prime Time Players; at one time the hottest commodity in the tag division though starting to level off and hindered somewhat surely by the firing of AW. And in the other, coasting champions Kofi and Truth, and in the next stage of what must be an unlucky run of partners for Kofi, Truth has seemingly been embroiled in the backstage politics and may not have endeared himself much to management. Seemingly, neither are top prospects right now, but I think the hype will carry the day here. Kofi & Truth have done nothing for the titles simply because they havenm’t been booked prominently, and with speak of the very talented JTG becoming involved with the PTP’s, I think we have a potential way for the champs to drop their titles without looking too bad. I’m afraid the match wont be much. I’ve never liked Kofi and Truth’s chemistry, and while the PTP’s are charismatic, they’re pretty stiff in the ring. Have JTG help them pick up the win and give those three a bit of a moment of the big stage. As for the champs – especially Kofi – MOVE ON!

Winners: The Prime Time Players

Match 4) World Championship Match: Sheamus (c) vs Alberto Del Rio
This match has had very good build. Apart from the fact that Sheamus if the primary prick in the tale and not ADR, the tension has been built really well between the two. Though its a bit hacky, peasant vs aristocrat is a nice model, and they play it out well. The two bits of build I remember most fondly are Del Rio brutalising Sheamus with the hood of his car, and Sheamus practically begging for the match to take place. Stripping ADR of his match and then restating it added an extra urgency to the encounter, and if that can be replicated in the match, it could be a stand-out. Sheamus is solid with anyone, and ADR is a great. They have good chemistry, and especially with Del Rio’s even newer viciousness (we’ve seen them try this before (Black Scarf!)), this should be a brutal match, with touches of technical class from ADR. Part of me still thinks they want to give Sheamus a huge run as Champion, but I think by now, he’s beaten an awful lot of people, and should be chasing the title. Plus, I think his dynamic with ADR is so good that it warrants a rematch. I would give ADR the title here, have Sheamus chase the title with a rematch, and see how they go.

Winner: Alberto Del Rio

Match 5) Chris Jericho vs Dolph Ziggler
This is a match i’m salivating over. Jericho is one of the best ever and my personal favourite vs a man who tries to (and often does) steal the show every night. At Summerslam, they have every reason to steal the show, and they are most likely to do so. Where Sheamus-Del Rio will be brutal, this should be beautiful and technical. There’s not much more to say than that, it’s self-evident that both guys will look a million dollars. And while I want a win for Jericho who has put EVERYONE over during this run, I want him to put Ziggler over and help make him. Not only do I like Ziggler, but its crucial for him to look good now, as and up-and-comer, and as a Mr. Money in the Bank. Jericho’s pedigree and legacy is proven and set. He can lose countless times and still be a powerful force, so while I want a win for him as he leaves the WWE (hopefully not for the last time!), it only makes sense for Ziggler to go over, move on to another high-profile guy (Randy Orton? Kane?), perhaps until/if Sheamus wins back his title, and Ziggler cashes in with a lot of momentum? Just an idea.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Match 6) Triple H vs Brock Lesnar
There is no place for this match. Only in HHH’s head is this a Summerslam attraction. Brock Lesnar is, against a lot of people, but not Trips. There were several things I was worried about here: 1) That this would Main Event and 2) That HHH would HHH his way to a win. Thankfully, i’m now convinced neither will happen. Well, I hope. The thing here, is that neither guy needs this for the good of the company/talent – both being part time guys. That’s not the only thing that matters in wrestling: if something is an exciting attraction (Rock-Cena) that it is merited; but as discussed, that isn’t the case here. The only claim to needing a victory goes to Lesnar. He is there as an attraction and to put talent in need over – and both of those jobs require him to seem as deadly as billed (something not helped by Cena beating him on his first match back), so I especially since Mr. Hall of Fame and HHH Sadness exhibit Shawn Michaels (probably wont be there), have Brock destroy Trips. Even if it takes a Ricardo Rodriguez-esque distraction to get Lesnar the upper hand, once he has it, have him destroy Trips, and lets have it not take long either for extra impact.

Match 7) WWE Championship Match: CM Punk (c) vs John Cena vs The Big Show
This match is something of an enigma, partly because the CM Punk angle is too. Its been a rollercoaster in away: my immediate reaction was that it was too soon to turn him heel, then I realised he wasn’t really heel, and was closer to the Best of CM Punk. Now, i’m still happier with him as he is, but I feel it isn’t much of an angle. Summerslam, however, is the ultimate place to make that bang. Could that involve Heyman? While it sound great initially, I doubt it – Punk is a lone wolf right now, and certainly doens’t need a mouthpiece; it could also lead to an awkward association with Lesnar. I wont try and guess or fantasy book beyond that, in case nothing comes to passi, i’m disappointed, and it isn’t there fault! As for the match, I love Cena and Punk’s chemsirty (see, their swapping of each other’s moves on RAW as well as everything between them since last summer) and I can’t wait for their interactions. Complicating the matter is The Big Show. Usually, that’s a terrible, heartbreaking sentence to write, but The Big Show has refound an aura that he is best under, using his limited skills to seem deadly. He’s playing his role well, and will be interesting as a destructive force to Punk-Cena. I think Big Show may have another role too. Many people think Cena could go over (the idea being that Cena takes on Rock at the Rumble, and Punk faces Rock at Mania), but i’m still clinging on to the notion of a year-long reign for Punk, and I don’t think both are mutually exclusive. A year long reign is so special these days, especially in WWE, so don’t ruin it now! If this was Punk-Cena, it would be a great match, but Big Show’s involvement makes a clean Punk victory more plausible. It takes the heat of both Cena and Show in losing, and makes Punk look even better in winning. This is important, because it would be really lazy to have Punk lose as soon as he stops being a smiley babyface, and while i’d like Punk to renew some of his Cena-Status Quo material, I think he needs the win to help get his tweaked character over. Could be a great match, and if the booking/storyline follows that up, could hale make a great PPV.

Winner: CM Punk


Summerslam Preview and Predictions, 2011

Summerslam, Aug 14, 2011, from the Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

First off, I can’t believe I wont be watching this live! Unfortunately, it’s just impossible for me. This is why there haven’t been regular posts, buthose observant fans will have been folowing me on twitter for some bite-sized opinions regarding the world of wrestling (@RTVWOW)

There are two matches not on the card for Summerslam that I can foresee being booked: The Miz vs Rey Mysterio almost has to happen; Miz, and to a lesser extent, Mysterio, are too important to bot make the card. Also, Big Zeke’s rematch for the Intercontinental Championship would make sense and would be of Summerslam calibre.

Match 1) The Miz vs Rey Mysterio
I see Miz ‘interrupting’ the start of the show and bitching about not being on the card. At that point he calls out Rey, saying that if he is any kind of man, letalone hero, he would face him again. Out comes Mysterio, limping or heavily taped up. It’s difficult to see how this could go though; I would usually suggest that Miz dominate until he gets too cocky and Rey turns the match for the win and to continue a feud possibly, but I think Miz could probably do with a big win at PPV, and depending on how he does it, that could also continue the feud. Expect a good match though – as you can from Rey, and to be fair, from Miz too.

Winner: The Miz

Match 2) Daniel Bryan vs Wade Barrett
I’ve said before just how rich this feud could be as these two have some of the most entrenched, natural history between each other than any other pairing in the WWE. Dating all the way back to the first series of NXT, these two have been natural adversaries, and it starts to come to the boil this Sunday. Bryan is obviously supremely gifted in the ring, but Barrett can woirk well too and will be a nice styles-clash for Bryan. This wont be the end of this feud, which i’m worried may even end up with Barrett holding the MITB briefcase. Usually, I would argue, Barrett would have to win, but I think Bryan needs the credibility, so I would have him go over, before a frustrated Barrett attacks him after the match in brutal fashion.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Match 3) Intercontinental Championship Match: Cody Rhodes (c) vs Ezekiel Jackson
I see why WWE like Zeke, but he just isn’t ready for titles yet, and I think they recognised this when they had him drop the title to Rhodes, a man who is much more qualified for that honour and is probably on his way to the main event. Rhodes is a very good wrestler, but Zeke isn’t, so i’m not expecting a classic, but i’m sure it will be fine. Rhodes needs to retain, and I think he will do so with the more explicit help of Ted DiBiase. I think this is all leading to a Rhodes-DiBiase feud over the title, and so perhaps an angry Zeke assaults DiBiase again after the match while Rhodes does nothing to help. DiBiase snaps and earns a title shot at Night of Champions in what will be a much more interesting and high-quality match!

Winner: Cody Rhodes

Match 4) Mark Henry vs Sheamus
This is one of best attractions for the PPV. Henry is on fire and Sheamus is a great success thus far as a babyface. I really enjoyed Henry-Show from MITB, and with Sheamus being more mobile, this could be even better. This is hard to predict though; with Sheamus being such a success, can he really lose? The same goes for Henry of course. My belief though is that Sheamus has more to lose here. He will be the one to finally defeat/stop Henry, but Henry wont look weak, and in fact, this will be the start of a more sustained feud. How the booking will sustain that i’m not sure – perhaps it will be as simple as Henry beats Henry down in a post-loss rage. As a babyface, winning this sort of match will be the start, I think, of a route to the World Championship down the line.

Winner: Sheamus

Match 5) World Heavyweight Championship Match: Christian (c) vs Randy Orton
Christian and Randy have been wrestling fantastic matches for months now, and the magic of the relatively short (so far) Punk-Cena feud aside, this has been by far the best feud of the year. I think, however, that tonight, it will be quite possibly coming to an end. The textbook says that after he only won the title last month, Christian can’t lose the title; and although Christian’s first reign threw that section of the textbook out of the window, I think this time,the booking will follow the textbook. A lot of the story surrounding this match has been that the no-holds-barred stip favours Orton, but it has been (intentionally I think) forgotten that Christian thrives in the role as a wily veteran, and I think when he says he has ‘the best thing going’, he is referring, basically, to the means by which he will win the match. For obvious reasons, the first thought has to be that Christian has Edge on his side, who will interfere in some way and return to TV, perhaps as Christian’s manager (I think Edge would have to remain on TV – showing up for one night and not being seen again in this context). If it isn’t Edge, could Christian have HHH in his pocket. I’ll talk more about this in conjunction with the main event, but if indeed, ‘the fix is in’, maybe HHH will pick his Smackdown champion in a way that excludes one of his biggest rivals, Randy Orton. If it isn’t either of those things, as long as it’s eye-catching and powerful, it’ll work. It’ll be interesting to see what Christian does to win, but i’m sure he will win.

Winner: Christian

Match 6) Divas Championship Match: Kelly Kelly (c) vs Beth Phoenix
It seems to me that Beth and Nattie are a nicely tweaked version, it seems to me, of Kharma’s recent storyline before it had to be nixed. This is another difficult one to predict because Kelly only recently won the title, while Beth seems to have a lot of steam behind her. Usually, I would back Beth on this, but I really think Kelly is being positioned as the top diva babyface, and I think they’ll want her to keep the championship for longer. Also, Nattie is another member of these pinupstrong divas that could challenge Kelly down the line anyway, after the two have gotten themselves and their new gimmick over, and maybe be more of a threat to Kelly (and the rest of the model divas).

Winner: Kelly Kelly

Match 7) WWE Championship Match: CM Punk (c) vs John Cena (paper c)
There is one result that WWE seems to be screaming at us for this enigmatic, unprecedented match; the Cena heel-turn ‘fix is in’ finish. That is certainly possible, and would be shocking and iconic (Cena has been the guy for so long, and his turn has been so anticipated, that when it does happen, it’ll be a huge moment fitting of the second-biggest PPV of the year). One of the best things about this storyline though, has been that it has been unpredictable and surprising, so I don’t know what to expect. If it is the case that HHH supports Christian in his match, perhaps HHH will pick his champion for RAW too. So giving WWE the benefit of the doubt about their ability to surprise us, i’m not going to bother guessing what will happen; all I will say is that the ‘fix is in’ story could be a red herring and CM Punk would only grow further from a victory over Cena at Summerslam, so I am picking Punk for the victory. Here’s how i’d book it from this position: during the match, HHH seems to be slightly favouring Cena, and as Punk continues to kick out of pins, Cena starts getting frustrated at HHH as if they had pre-planned a Cena victory until Cena maybe pushes HHH, maybe even turning heel during the match by saying ‘count faster’. The tension grows between the two and HHH shoves Cena back in to a GTS and with Cena out, is forced to count 3 (admittedly, the most shaky part of the story). After that, it is clear that HHH doesn’t want Punk as champion and, having cost Cena the match, gives him the chance to face Punk again, this time as a proper heel. Whatever happens, at PPV, and with Punk having a say as well as WWE wanting to behave differently, I expect something that will satisfy our high expectations. The best way to watch wrestling is by giving it a fighting chance to entertain, which a lot of people don’t. Punk is a growing entity, and I foresee him winning tonight.

Winner: CM Punk

Smack of the Week (29/07/2011): Restrictions Removed

I liked that the show started out with Triple H coming out first to again mark his territory, and his appearing on Smackdown made the show at least seem in the same league to RAW for once. HHH didn’t actually say much though, other than announcing that the title situation on RAW would be addressed on RAW. Instead, he served as the epicentre of proceedings, with Christian, R-Truth and John Morrison interacting around him, being directed by his legitimate authentic character. Christian came out to try and curry favour with the boss, only for this to backfire as Trips booked Orton’s rematch for Summerslam against Christian and made it, to Christian’s chagrin, a no holds barred match. R-Truth came out threatening to take ‘action’ on RAW if HHH didn’t address the conspiracy against his, though ultimately, this seemed like a pretty contrived way to book Truth on the show.

To punish Christian for interrupting him, The Game put him in a match with John Morrison. This was a pretty good match between the two, especially seen as it was apropos of nothing. The story of this match was mostly based around Morrison’s recent neck injury and surgery. Morrison got a bit more offense in on Christian than I would like considering he was against the World Champion. I would have liked it to have been a bit more even. It made Christian seem a bit weaker than is necessary. Nonetheless, it was good that Morrison looked good, and the story and finish of the match was really well thought out. Morrison missed Starship Pain and was hot-shotted on the ropes, allowing Christian to hit the Killswitch and pick up the win.

I liked Zack Ryder as Teddy Long’s assistant. It was a good way to get him on TV. I do, however, hope that it was a one-night thing. As a character, he works better for RAW, and, while having a strong on-screen character, also needs to wrestle at the same time to get over. Without the latter, he will struggle to get over as a serious competitor.

Wasn’t too keen on Barrett banging on about paychecks. I know he’s a heel, but I don’t like it when any wrestler talks about it in those terms; if they’re not bothered about respect, it should be championships they desire, and possibly the lifestyle of ‘sports entertainment’, but if they just want the money, it seems to miss the point of even being there. This especially irritated when he was talking about the WrestleMania main event – something which should mean something to all wrestlers. I realise this is meant to bring him heat, but it didn’t just turn me off the character, but also what he might do, which is a bad kind of heat. Daniel Bryan’s music is great  for babyface interruptions because, in the midst of an arrogant, bleating, self-important speech from a heel, Bryan literally appears like a deus ex machina. I liked Bryan’s promo saying that, whatever Barrett says, he is Mr. Money in the Bank, and he will make him tap. This looks like the start of a feud, and it’s one that would be fantastically organic given their shared history for over a year. Their feud could be one of the best of the year given that they (especially Bryan) are talented wrestlers and both (especially Barrett) are talented talkers.

AJ was again really good in the ring. It’s just a shame that this series of matches are treading water. Something dramatic needs to happen to make these matches, which often involve nice wrestling, feel like they mean something more.

I really liked the Justin Gabriel video. I like the idea that him going back home could precipitate a face-turn. For the first time he came across as relateable and likeable, and for the first time, I cared about him and his future. I still think he has a long way to go, but a good job. Time permitting, this sort of personal interview promo should be done more often.

Next up was the most perfect insta-face turn i’ve ever seen. Mark Henry appeared demanding competition, and no-one from the back wanted any of him. This was cool as it really got over how fearful Henry has become. Eventually, a pathetic-looking local wrestler came out to get eviscerated. This obviously didn’t satisfy Henry, who was still outspokenly demanding ‘competition’. Just as he was about to perform his leg-breaking-with-chair spot, Teddy Long ran out to stop Henry and save the unfortunate ‘opponent’. As Long was going to frustrate Henry even more by saying no-one would compete with him and he couldn’t force anybody, Sheamus’s music hit to a big pop. There was something about the way Sheamus carried himself that instantly made me like and respect him – the change was really that remarkable. Not only that, but he bested Henry in terms of intimidation, recycling Henry’s own line about bigger not being better, and fending him off with a chair. Both these guys looked great here, and a new and engaging feud has instantly been set up. Until now I didn’t think Sheamus would make a good babyface, but in the space of about five minutes, Sheamus became one of my favourite babyfaces. They could have some good matches, and this should make for a great story.I look forward to seeing where this goes.

I don’t like the New Nexus’s new post-Punk (so to speak) look/attitude – they come across as camp stage-criminals. Either go all the way with their new gimmick, or stick to the darker Nexus gimmick. They had a decent match with the Usos, who are the sole shining force in the tag division currently (the state of the division is shown by the fact that we had a completely unhyped title match this week), which culminated in a well thought-out finish where Otunga threw a downed Uso in tt the ring to confuse the referee to the point where he thought the twins may have pulled off ‘twin magic’. Otunga took advantage of this by throwing the other from the turnbuckle and allowing McGillicutty to hit his winging neckbreaker for the win. I liked the champs going over, but not against the Usos. I’d have each team go over seperately against the more pithy teams until the only competition they have is each other, leading to a match at Summerslam. Nonetheless, I love how they are getting pushed for a title shot as they are a great, old-fashioned tag team, and could mark the start of the resurgence of the tag team.

Big Zeke went down again, which can’t really be good, but at least it was to a handicap team of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Decent enough, but there is always a struggle to create a believable story in a handicap match. Not much to proceed the story here, but it made the heels and especially Rhodes look good, especially when he managed to hit a Cross Rhodes on Big Zeke.

I quite liked the fact that Jinder Mahal and Great Khali hired out a box to look over the events of the night, and understand that foreign-language promos draw heat, but it just didn’t work. When Mahal debuted, I was hoping for big things, but it’s getting to the point now that if they don’t do something drastic, the whole angle will be ruined completely.

Truth and Orton had a decent main event, but they were somewhat lacking in chemistry. It shows how far Truth has come that he can share a ring with Orton though, and he did look believable as a contemporary. I was pleased to see that, unlike last week, Christian had a part in this main event. As Truth used his water bottle spot, the furious Viper wanted took out his anger on Truth, and in doing so, showed Christian the danger he was in by using Truth as a proxy victim as he hit him with a chair and got DQd before RKOing him on the announce table, not once but twice like he did at Money in the Bank. Christian sold this well, seeming as he did in a genuine state of anxiety. I liked this as it helped build the tension between the two, but it was much the same as all their other recent interactions. Not much different here, so it probably simply wasn’t that important. What i’d have liked better would be for HHH to appear at the end of the show as well and say to Christian that he can’t allow his championships to continue in turmoil, and so he wants a decisive, clean victor at Summerslam, and so, while that Randy may have lost by DQ tonight, Christian wont be able to survive that way at Summerslam because the match will be No Holds Barred match. Nothing new has even been announced, but it just would have been done so in a more dramatic and memorable way, standing out more from previous weeks.

RAW Precall (25/07/2011)

Last week’s RAW was a complex and loaded episode. It’s raison d’etre was to get over, again, that WWE is entering a new era, and did so by showing us the coup de grace of Mr. McMahon for Triple H. It also had to address, in some sort of clear way, the future of the now more prestigious WWE Championship, which they did with the tournament to crown a new paper champion. Finally, they had to make sure CM Punk remained, in some way, in the minds of the audience. WWE achieved these objectives with varied success. To me, Triple H and McMahon were very successful, creating an earnest moment which followed the ‘worked shoot’ philosophy of Punk. Announcing the tournament made complete sense – what else would WWE do to try and paper over the loss of the title? One problem, however, was that the tournament filled the show with wrestling and didn’t allow enough time to contemplate just what had happened the night before. I think this would have worked better if they had started the tournament, advertising the finals for Summerslam, while using the saved time for backstage encounters with the wrestlers discussing/worrying about the situation etc in a hushed/worried way; have the announcers and even the tournament competitors question whether the winner would be a legitimate champion. The bit that I think was the key reason for a lot of criticism for last week’s RAW was a subtle but problematic decision on WWE’s part not to mention Punk’s name. This, again, made sense, but it meant that Punk seemed like an afterthought and was less of a presence on TV. Punk wasn’t there two weeks before, but it was hugely successful, and it was simply because he was discussed extensively and seemed like an important figure – almost mythological.

So that’s the first change WWE needs to make; I know McMahon said Punk’s name would never be mentioned again, but HHH is in charge now, so they really need to take advantage of that to make the Punk situation the forefront of the show. I’m going to try keep out of intricate fantasy booking, but I would have HHH open the show and mark his territory, address his confrontation with CM Punk at Comic Con and show the footage before stating that he wont be able to get away with what he’s done. He calls out World Heavyweight Champion Christian and says that, until further notice, he will appear on both shows. He then says the show will end with him addressing John Cena’s status before the new WWE Championship. This would take a while, but after that, get on with the show. Have the wrestlers talking backstage mentioning Punk’s name and giving him that aura I was talking about, maybe even have some visibly supporting Punk, with HHH always in the background, disapproving

(Jeez, that staying away from fantasy booking isn’t really working out … I CAN’T HELP IT!)

We get to main event time and it’s HHH calling out Cena. He says he values Cena, and how good he is for business too much to allow him to be fired, for real this time, and that to apologise, he’s granting him his re-match by giving him a bye to the WWE Championship finals, which happen next! This draws McMahon as a bad guy, but one with some principles at least before business, while HHH, in full corporate mode becomes instantly dislikeable, kissing Cena’s ass and raising the ire of the fans. Cena would have to be reluctant to do this, but willing simply because he’s doing his job and wants the title, setting up a more complex face character for him, with a more complex relationship with ‘management’. Miz out first and Rey (who Punk also confronted) last. Soon in to the match, we need to feel the presence of Punk again. Punk himself can’t appear, at least in a conventional way, but the thought of him has to interrupt the match, causing it to be delayed until Summerslam. At that point a furious HHH enters the ring, losing the professional cool he had before, finally saying that he saved Cena’s job, and he can take it away, so if he loves the WWE, and if the Championship means anything to him, he’ll go and get after Punk and bring back the title. This means Cena can enter in to this viral/guerilla story as a face, just with a different valid point.

My slightly awkward fantasy aside, there are things they need to do/address, and as long as they achieve most of them , it will work really well:

Make CM Punk the central presence from the start.
Don’t dwell on on Vince apart from maybe at the very start.
Establish HHH as a heel authority.
Address the RAW GM, reveal and either keep as an auxiliary authority figure or fire – this is about HHH marking territory
Delay WWE Championship match.

Perhaps it’s wrong to speculate, and it’s almost certainly wrong to dictate to WWE who have thus far provided great TV with this angle, so I wont talk too much more. It is important that, as fans, we give this a chance to develop organically and not expect unrealistic instant results. As long as these themes are addressed, I have faith in a great RAW.

Smack of the Week (22/07/2011): Kane Beaten and Broken

I hadn’t really thought about this until approaching the write-up, but this was an odd Smackdown, and odd in a way that I didn’t actually like that much. All will be (hopefully) explained …

The show opened with Randy Orton in a position which could be described as a stock heel position – sat down in the middle of the ring, refusing to leave until he was acknowledged by Christian. Of course, when Orton does it, considering the way he lost the World Title, it is more understandable, but it’s still not very heroic. Christian was great, with classic heel hypocrisy, criticising Orton for whining. It was announced that, as is statutory, Orton will get his rematch, at Summerslam. It is fitting that this, until now the best feud of the year’ will end at Summerslam and I think we can expect a great match to round it off. Implicit in that last statement is basically an early prediction regarding the result).

Christian followed up with a match against behemoth Ezekiel Jackson which was better than you might expect from a Jackson match. Jackson showed a bit more vulnerability (as you would hope when he is taking on the World Champion) while still looking strong. The central story was simple but successful – Cristian not being able to negotioate the massive arms of Jackson to lock in the Killswitch. Eventually, however, Christian managed to throw Jackson in to the ringpost, which was enough to debilitate the IC champ enough to get him in to a Killswitch for the win. Usually, I might complain about the IC champ going down, but there’s nothing shamesul in going down to the World Champion, and I like that Christian was helped to look strong by going over clean. This was the last we saw of Christian though, something i’ll discuss when I discuss the close of the show.

I really liked Daniel Bryan getting an in-ring interview following his Money in the Bank win. Everything D. Bryan said was on point, and I think it’s clear that when he says he wants to live out his dream of wrestling the main event of WrestleMania, he means that with more vigour than most. I think it fits Bryan’s face persona very well to ‘set a date’ for his cashing in. If it’s straight-up, then we have the prospect of seeing Bryan grow in to a main-event character, which will surely include of necessity some great stories and matches. But there are other possibilities; that he loses the briefcase to someone (which I don’t like) or he cashes in early, taking advantage of a downed opponent to break his word and turn heel, which could be more interesting.

Heath Slater was brought out to face Bryan, and actually put on a nice match with AmDrag, with some nice progressions. If anything, Slater looked a bit too strong (the idea being to make Bryan look), but Bryan looked good too, and finished the match with a great application of a dragon sleeper which started looking like a tornado DDT, only for Bryan to swing and bring Slater to the middle of the ring for the submission. Unique and ingenious.

Sheamus vs Wade Barrett was a weird bit of booking. They’re both big guys but nimble and in possession of nice technical abilities. They worked together well, but this was really more of an angle – the violent double count-out surely just the beginning of a feud – a weird feud given that both are heels. Perhaps they’ll eventually start working together or perhaps one will turn heel, though I don’t yet know which one – there are up-sides to both.

Kane insisting that he wants to rediscover the demon within doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, but i’m hoping for a big payoff, possibly with a return of the mask? In the main event the ‘Big Red Machine’ took on Randy Orton in a street fight. This was a pretty run-of-the-mill match in the first half, but it really picked up in the second half, with the use of chairs and stairs and the like, including Orton accidentally falling through the announce table in quite a scary moment. Kane seemed to grow in power, even – almost unbelievably – kicking out of an RKO (the one moment when he seemed at all monstrous) and then as he got more command and Chokeslammed Orton, I actually thought he might gain a win. About to Tombstone Orton on a chair, Orton escaped and hit an RKO for the win. Kane looked good here, but certainly not close to monstrous, while it makes sense that Orton, still in the title picture, remained strong-seeming. What I didn’t like was the two shaking hands at the end; Kane is trying to be a monster and Orton, who crushed Kane’s ankle with the steel stairs, is notorious for his ‘anger issues’ – it just doesn’t make sense that the red mist would clear after the match and they’d have gained that respect for each other.

With Orton gone and Kane struggling to stay up, Mark Henry just appeared. Kane, who seemed to relish the prospect of the violence (and pain?) smiled and squared up to Henry, but after what Orton had done to him, he stood no chance and eventually was on the wrong end of a World’s Strongest Slam, some splashes, and the same sickening ankle-breaking spot to Kane that he hit on Big Show. He followed it up with one of his brutally evil lines he’s so good at: “Why don’t you try and walk on it?” Though it was shocking, other than Kane and Big Show being tag partners, I don’t really see why Kane was attacked too, so hopefully we’ll get more explanation going forward. Mark Henry attacking someone else isn’t a cliff-hanger as there’s nothing really to follow up on.

Meanwhile, though Christian opened the show and looked good doing so, it’s weird that we didn’t see him for the rest of the show. He’s the champion, yet we still see Orton as one of the closing guys and seeming more important. It’s much maligned how Eddie Guerrero won the title and wasn’t at the forefront of the show, and this is what happened this week. It was also a shame that Cody Rhodes, one of the hottest rising stars on the show, couldn’t get booked. A decent show, but with some questionable booking, and one that built very little in terms of stories or for Summerslam.

RAW Recall (22/06/2011): Power to the Punk

Punk commands the ring and steals the show this week on RAW

Going in to RAW last night, I was worried about the Viewer’s Choice aspect of the episode, given the car crash that last year’s version was; but was excited because I heard that Punk was going to make a huge ‘monumental’ announcement, and I knew Punk would deliver in some way. Having just finished writing up Capitol Punishment, i’m going to try and keep this one a bit more brief. It should be noted that, despite my previous skepticism, the ‘formerly creative’ guys (i.e. people who used to be on WWE Creative) have made it clear that these votes are legit, which is interesting and worth noting.

Punk came out first and simply told he truth: that he has beaten Cena and Rey Mysterio clean, and that he is the best wrestler (yes, he said wrestler!) in the world, which may actually be true. For this reason, he demanded to be named the #1 contender right then and there, and until he did, he was holding ‘an old fashioned sit in’ which evolved in to a snow angel, until an irate GM made him wrestle for it, and in a triple threat match. Great stuff, and there was more to come.

The first match saw the WWE Universe pick Kelly Kelly to take on Brie Bella for the Divas title. Now Cole made a seemingly small but actually big mistake in referring to Kelly as a former champion; this was so bad because a lot of the drama of this match was based on Kelly having never won the title before. Anyway, despite the relatively short length of the match, it was packed with action, and the Bellas again showed me that they are underrated as wrestlers, while Kelly is always improving. The finish came after a reversal of a victory roll from Kelly which was a nice progression and was a good way for Kelly to win the title. And, despite what hardcore wrestling fans might feel, it’s clear that Kelly really cares about her role and loves the business now. In fact, here’s a tweet from former head writer of Smackdown and ECW, David Lagana: “Congrats to @realkellykelly – who started in #ECW as “the dancing girl” and this actually means something to her.” So major props to Kelly Kelly, she’s worked hard and deserves this. She’s the top diva in WWE and if she keeps working, she could be a big big player.

Evan Bourne was out next, which I was excited about because following his outing at Capitol Punishment, he could be at the beginning of a push, and I was even more excited when I saw that Sin Cara was an option. Unfortunately, the Universe picked Mason Ryan (God know’s why!), which may not bode well for Cara, but also didn’t for Evan, as with Ryan being a future major player, he couldn’t lose and couldn’t really show off that much. Evan tried his best with Ryan, and it wasn’t that bad, but just a disappointment given the prospect of Bourne-Cara which I think WWE were pushing.

I have nothing to say about Kane and Mark Henry in an arm-wrestling contest, but I was interested and impressed by Henry’s initial promo, which was competent, confident, and threatening, and secondly, his World’s Strongest Slam to Kane through the announce table, again showing off his dominance. Now Henry goes through phases of being pushed as a monster, and it’s never really worked, so i’ll take it with a pinch of salt, but I think he’d work well at a higher level as a monster.

I was pleased to see a 2 out of 3 falls match on the card because they always have unique stories, and this one was Kofi’s rematch. This was nice, but it being on TV hurt it a little. For one thing, time restraints meant that the first fall was won during the commercial break, which I didn’t like because I think a fall should be shown, especially seen it was done in a nice way with a Zig Zag to the concrete. After a nice bit of back and forth and some nice progressions, Kofi maneuvered in to an SOS for the second fall. For the third fall, Dolph played a classic chickenshit heel nicely, escaping Kofi and going for his belt and the like. I didn’t like the finish though as Ziggler continued in this escapism and eventually coaxed Kingston to a position where he could hit him with a mic and gaining a DQ. Not only don’t I like it because while a DQ usually keeps the title with the champ, it is surely more complicated in a 2×3 falls match; but also because Kofi and Ziggler, good as it is, is getting a bit old, and with this ending, it’s probable that he will have another Kofi-Ziggler title match. I would much rather have seen Dolph win clean, though with dastardly tactic from Vickie, and move on to another challenger. If not Evan (coming off a loss to Ryan), why not bring out a brash Zack Ryder talking about his popularity and that he should have a title shot. I know a lot of people wont have heard of Ryder’s show, but to them it would draw heat because of his arrogance of assuming they know him. One final thing: it is now ridiculous that King continues, as a babyface, and representing a company that supports Be a STAR, to berate Vickie Guerrero for being ‘fat’. While Vickie is on record as saying she is ok with the jokes leveled at her because she is a professional, it is patently ridiculous to stick with the fat jokes. She is now almost as slim as the other divas, and to make that seem not good enough could have bad ramifications for impressionable female viewers.

The next match a fantastic, fantastic match for the #1 contendership between Punk, Del Rio and Mysterio, which was Falls Count Anywhere. Sometimes triple threats can be formulaic, with one guy being down while the others fight, and while that was the case here, the falls count anywhere stip allowed this to be more believable. The real quality of the match was simply on the fast-paced, unpredictable nature of the action, performed by three great wrestlers. I liked the new moves performed by some of the guys: Punk using a powerbomb, and Del Rio using a beautiful German Suplex with a bridge, something i’d like to see him incorporate to his move-set. As a lucha, Mysterio really turned it on, performing lots more exciting and varied lucha spots than usual. My favourite spot though was when Punk ran in to Rey’s lifted feet in the corner and fell, which led to Rey hitting a senton on Punk right up his body from head to toe before getting right to his feet and charging to the other side of the ring before hitting a suicide dive to Del Rio outside the ring. The action was great and surprising, but the drama was really well realised as part of a triple threat match with some pins or submission attempts seeming like sure things, only for the third guy to break it up, from nowhere. The end was like this after Rey hit a 619 and a springboard splash in what seemed like leading to a shock win for Mysterio. At that point, Punk entered the ring, again from nowhere, to send Rey in to the post and steal the pin for major heat and a major victory.

After his victory, Punk went back to his sitting position (which I love!) to speak again. He said that his contract was up, coincidentally, on the 17th July, the night of the Money in the Bank PPV, in his home town of Chicago and threatening to make yet another shocking impact on the WWE Universe by beating John Cena and taking the title with him, out of the company. This was absolutely fascinating for several reasons. First of all, it toyed with the rumours surrounding his genuine contract status (as of now, it is not clear whether he has renewed his WWE contract), and so has an instant ring of truth to it, if not to the casual viewer (who may well believe it anyway given the legalistic way he talked about it: ‘On the 17th of July, my contract with World Wrestling Entertainment expires’ (there’s the W-word again!), than to those who follow his career and frequent the dirt-sheets. Now I doubt his contract does expire on that night, but it would be a good time to go if it is about to expire. It is also interesting because of what could happen if he does win and leave. Could he return with a new belt? Could it signify title unification? It’s impossible to tell right now, but it’s certainly a fascinating dynamic he (and WWE) have created, and it’s built a great deal of interest in the MITB PPV already, which can only bode well for the PPV. I hope he doesn’t go, and WWE and Punk will sure as hell not let any information about his status slip if possible, and they might even slip out some mixed red-herrings to throw us off the scent and make the whole thing even more fascinating.

Our penultimate match featured the exciting new feud of Daniel Bryan and Cody Rhodes, who, as it turns out, were very nearly the guys to wrestle the ‘bonus’ match at Capitol Punishment. Both of these two are top notch, and hopefully future champions, but for the mean time, they managed to put on a nice little match. In the ring, the two darted around, showing off great timing, innovative offense and the sort of energy which makes them great to watch. This match was made different to their recent encounters too by the people’s vote, which made it a No Count match, giving them free reign to grapple outside the ring. Though this wasn’t utilized to its entire potential, it is forgivable given the fact that they had to prepare for 2 other possible stips the Universe could have chosen. What they did do outside the ring was pretty cool, grappling up the ramp, and Bryan hitting a sick looking suplex on to the steel part of the ramp. Back in the ring, Bryan managed to out-wrestle Rhodes to a pin-fall, before countering an attempted attack from Rhodes in to the LaBelle Lock. It was at this point that DiBiase rushed the ring to help Rhodes, apparently solidifying his association with his former Legacy brethren (which had until now remained unclear). This is great because those guys worked together so well in Legacy, and also because it signals a maturation in terms of storyline. Indeed, while these guys are great performers and underrated talkers, what this really needs to explode is a compelling storyline. Rhodes has great heat and Bryan terrific potential as a big-time babyface, so with some sort of personal issue between them, I could see them being a highlight for Summerslam if built properly.

The prospect of appearances from Zack Ryder or Drew McIntyre faded quickly once it was announced that Vickie Guerrero would face off in a dance contest against Cole. This has been criticized because commentators have rightly said that people would rather see Ryder especially than this, and while I agree, I understand why it happened. 3 hour specials are meant to be exactly that: special, and so they are treated as such and feature segs that you wouldn’t usually see on regular RAWs or Smackdowns. Not only that, but comic relief is incredibly important in wrestling, and this certainly provided that. So while I missed Ryder and McIntyre, I appreciated the need for this, especially in a show which lasted 3 hours. Not only that, but I did find it very funny I have to say. So while I would never pick it as a particular thing I want from wrestling, I’m not going to blast it.

The main event was an elimination tag team match pitting Cena, Orton & Alex Riley against R-Truth, Christian & The Miz. Depending on whether you include Miz in this (him being a pretty well established main event star now), there were four ‘new’ main eventers in this match, showing just how hard WWE is working to build future stars. One thing I still hate about Riley is that they’re still dressing him as a heel, him wrestling in his old ‘Varsity Villain’ trunks. The guy’s having no trouble getting over, but don’t hamper him by making him look unlikeable! While I like elimination matches, this one was a little uninspired. Of course, they suffered from the same problem as Rhodes and Bryan, but it was a little uninspiring. I was pleased to see Miz gain the first pin-fall as he’s been getting beat a lot recently, the only problem was that whoever was to lose from the face team, it would be damaging; obviously Cena and Orton, both World Champions and top talents, would have lost out by being pinned, especially seen as neither will be battling him in the future, so it had to be Riley, who can do without any derailments to his push right now. At least it was done after Miz managed to take advantage of Riley being distracted (I suppose mostly neutralizing the derogatory effect on Riley’s rep). Miz himself was next to go, solidifying his recent slump somewhat, but then again, whoever was to go from the heels would have been damaged, and I suppose Miz is the most resilient, being as I say, firmly established at the top, while Christian and Truth are genuinely on the bubble between top and upper-mid card. As is so often the case with these matches, they accelerate incredibly at the finish, and after Truth fell to Orton, Christian capitalized with a Spear to earn a very dear pinfall against the World Champion, supporting even further his claim to another title shot at Money in the Bank. Unfortunately for him, his elated showboating allowed Cena to position himself well to beat Christian which he did soon after with an AA. This led to a ‘feel good’ ending with Cena and Orton together again on RAW, celebrating together with their respective championships. Now Christian pinning the champ was something I really approved of, as it gave Christian a really good foothold to demand another shot at Orton’s title while reinforcing that he can beat the Viper. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much for Truth, who was not even mentioned in the #1 contender’s picture and so is between feuds; as well as the close of the show not seeming very interesting, either in surprise value, or with regard to the MITB PPV. I think I would have preffered it if the match was the same up until Christian pinning Orton. Then, with Cena readying himself for the AA, I would have had the disgruntled Truth come out and hit Cena with his finisher with the ref distracted by Christian/Orton, allowing Christian to pin Cena too (making him look great and also shocking the crowd). Then, after celebrating, Truth and Christian start to beat down the champs. Riley returns to the ring and fends off the heels briefly when Miz appears and finally nullifies him (making both look strong). They beat them down for a while before the faces recover somewhat. Punk’s music hits again, and here comes Nexus. Punk watches as the faces, now completely outnumbered, are destroyed. Christian Killswitches Orton and throws him out while Miz hits another Skull Crushing Finale to Riley and throws him out. This leaves only Cena, who receives a scissors kick from Truth before the Nexus guys pick him up and hold him up in a crucifix-like pose. Punk enters the ring and Nexus place Cena on his shoulders for the GTS before Punk kicks Cena out of the ring and sits down, smirking like he does and the rest of the Nexus salute while the other heels, though visibly a little nervous remain, standing tall. Not only would that make pretty much everyone (and especially the up-and-comers) look strong, but it would create or deepen the personal issues before, which would only bode well for the MITB build, and make Punk seem like an important, dangerous man – as he deserves.

All that aside, I did like RAW, especially given my wariness about P2P. Some nice matches and decent storyline progression, even if the end was a little cookie-cutterish. But again, a 3 hour RAW that didn’t feature Zack Ryder (ridiculous given that he’s proved to be popular with ‘the people’ when given a voice) or Drew McIntyre. Now I realize there are time restraints, especially, funnily enough, for 3-hour dual branded shows, but these guys are being left to stew on their considerable talent at the minute and it must be as demoralizing to them as it is to their fans. In fact, I recently wrrote an article for the Bleacher Report about the problems with 3 Hour RAW, which can be found here: Looking on the bright side, I know Drew has been working on a tweaked gimmick recently while Ryder is apparently turning face – so perhaps they are just being given time to experiment with their new selves before debuting them on RAW. Luckily, RAW is back to just its own roster next week, so they should have a better chance at getting on.

As always, if you liked what i’ve written, check me out on twitter @RTVWOW for opinions on pro-wrestling and live-tweeting of RAW and PPVs.