Real American Wrestleblog

This blog predates Jack Swagger's gimmick shift by a year. I named it after Hulk Hogan's entrance theme.

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Payback Preshow Live Reactions – WWE Championship Fatal 4-Way

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The match starts off with the announcers reminding us every 30 seconds that Seth Rollins does not have to be pinned to lose the championship.  However, they also tell us repeatedly that Seth Rollins has to pin somebody to keep the title.  Reigns takes everybody down with a dive over the top rope early.  As we go on with Rollins on the short end of a 2-on-1 beatdown from Reigns and Ambrose, Kane decides to start helping Rollins out.  Kane and J & J triple team Orton out on the floor with Rollins taking advantage of Kane’s help to work over Ambrose in the ring.  Reigns is overselling Kane throwing him into the barricade out on the floor.  Rollins gets several near falls on Ambrose while Orton and Reigns rest on the floor.  Ambrose battles back and hits Dirty Deeds, but Kane Chokeslams him.  Orton and Reigns get back in the action and now Orton and Rollins carry the action in the ring while Ambrose and Reigns rest.  Orton hits a Superplex for a near fall.  Nobody ever wins with a Superplex, yet everybody acts surprised when somebody kicks out of one.  Everybody fights it out on the floor now and they set up the table to put somebody through the table.  Now the three former members of the Shield temporarily unite and Triple Team Orton and Triple Powerbomb him through the table..  Rollins then hugs Reigns and Ambrose, but they laugh and smile and then take turns pummeling Rollins.  They then set up the spanish announce table for somebody to go through it and Kane saves Rollins from being put through it.  Ambrose fights off Kane and rams him into the ring post.  Reigns puts Rollins on the table.  Ambrose and Reigns then Power Bomb Kane onto Rollins on the table, but the table doesn’t break.  The crowd chants for one more time and Ambrose and Reigns give them what they want and do the spot over and this time the table crumples in a heap.  Ambrose and Reigns say there is nothing left to do but fight it out among themselves and so they get back in the ring and start fighting it out, trading punches.  Reigns gets a near fall on a Powerslam and goes for the Superman Punch, but Ambrose counters into a Schoolboy for a near fall.  Reigns hits the Superman Punch and makes the cover, but Ambrose kicks out at the last second.  Awesome that the match continues, but it seems like the first Superman Punch never puts anybody away.  Ambrose blocks the Spear.  Reigns counters out of Dirty Deeds.  Ambrose goes for the Pendulum Clothesline off the ropes, but Reigns ducks and goes off the ropes and hits the Spear, but Rollins makes the save on the cover.  Reigns beats up J & J some more and throws Rollins back in the ring where Ambrose is back up.  Superman Punch on Rollins.  Pendulum Clothesline on Reigns.  Dirty Deeds on Rollins.  Cover, but Kane pulls Ambrose out by the boot.  Kane knocks Ambrose and Reigns down with the stairs.  Kane Chokeslams Reigns on the stairs.  Orton hits Kane from behind, knocking him into the post.  Orton goes for the Rope Hang DDT on Rollins, but J & J break it up.  RKOs to both members of J & J.  Rollins comes off the top rope, but Orton catches him with a Powerslam.  Orton hits Rollins with the Rope Hang DDT and goes on the hunt, calling for the RKO.  Rollins back up and Orton goes for the RKO, but Rollins counters and shoves Orton at Kane and Orton hits Kane with the RKO.  Rollins hits Orton with the Pedigree and covers him for the three count.

Rollins retains the championship and while I thought there was a chance he would lose it and get it back before SummerSlam, tonight didn’t really feel like the night and it wasn’t as Rollins does in fact retain the title going into the Elimination Chamber in 2 weeks.  However, he will likely have to defend the title in the Elimination Chamber and then 2 weeks after that, it’s Money in the Bank.  He’s not going to have any easier of a road storyline wise than he’s had already, but it should be interesting.  At least with the Elimination Chamber and Money in the Bank matches, we know that we won’t be getting all the false finishes like we did tonight.  Best performance of the night was from Imagine Dragons, who weren’t even in the building, but their song :Friction” and the promo packages that WWE built with it were very cool.

Payback Live Reactions – King Barrett vs. Neville

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King Bad News takes on Neville in a rematch of the King of the Ring Finals.  They put on a good showing early, but this match was nowhere near as good as the matches they put on at Extreme Rules and in the King of the Ring Tournament.  Barrett doesn’t like the way the match is going, so when he gets knocked out of the ring he lets himself get counted out.  So, Neville wins and now Barrett wants to continue the fight as he ambushes Neville.  Barrett then retrieves his royal accouterments and takes his time putting on his crown and cape, only to have Neville come up behind him and German Suplex him onto his crown, snapping the top off of Barrett’s scepter in the process.  Neville then hits the Red Arrow to at least give the fans some resolution to the match after the crappy countout finish.  Apparently, WWE thinks the fans in Baltimore paid to see a couple of 3-minute tag matches, a countout and an “I Quit” Match rigged with bad stunts and nobody actually losing by the rules of the match.  Other than Sheamus vs. Ziggler and R-Truth vs. Stardust, there hasn’t been a clean and decisive finish to a match that lasted more than a couple of minutes.  To recap match by match so far.

R-Truth beat Stardust cleanly

The Ascension beat The Faux Mega Powers in under 3 minutes

Sheamus beat Dolph Ziggler cleanly

New Day stole the 3rd Fall in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match when the illegal 3rd man (not even the illegal 2nd man) made the winning pinfall

Bray Wyatt beat Ryback after an exposed turnbuckle finish

John Cena beat Rusev in an “I Quit” Match in which Rusev didn’t really quit

Naomi & Tamina beat the Bella Twins

Neville beat King Barrett by countout

The Fatal 4-Way is coming up next.  Should be an exciting finish to a typically underperformed show with poorly booked finishes.

Payback Live Reactions – John Cena vs. Rusev and Divas Tag Match

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John Cena vs. Rusev in an “I Quit” Match was everything that we expected.  The two men destroyed various sections of the set all over the arena.  They rammed each other through a section of the barricade at one point.  Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment onto a pad behind part of the entrance set that set off some pyros making it look like it was destructive, but was really just a cheap stunt.  They tore up the steps and Cena went for the spot that he made famous in his Last Man Standing match with Umaga where he threw part of the stairs from the ring and out to the floor into his opponent’s face, but Rusev dodged it.  Rusev Suplexed Cena through a steel gate rigged to crumple in half that they set up leaning against the outside of the ring.  At the end, Rusev chokes Cena out with the Accolade and Cena passes out and thus cannot quit and the match cannot end.  Rusev splashes water on him and undoes the top turnbuckle all the way off the corner, undoing the top rope completely and goes to choke Cena with it like the finish of the Last Man Standing Match at the 2007 Royal Rumble, but Cena counters and puts Rusev in the STF, looping the loose rope over Rusev’s nose and face and using it to pull his head back.  Rusev starts yelling random stuff in either Russian or Bulgarian, which Lana gets into the ring and interprets as Rusev saying that he quits though we can’t tell what he’s really saying, so Cena wins the match because Lana says that Rusev quits.

In coming weeks, Rusev will undoubtedly say that he didn’t quit, that Lana quit because she was weak and he was saying something completely different so he can save face because apparently the point of having an “I Quit” Match is for nobody to quit and for one of those crappy finishes that doesn’t satisfy the rules of the match.  This would have been much better served to have just been a No Holds Barred match or something of that nature.  However, when the goal was to have Cena fight Rusev at 4 straight PPVs and not let either guy ever lose cleanly to the other, you get crappy finishes that don’t really finish anything.

Next up was the Divas tag team match and I wasn’t really paying attention during this one on purpose.  If it had been a title match, different story, but as it was, I did the stereotypical thing and used this match for my pee break.  Naomi and Tamina beat the Bellas decisively and nobody seemed to care, probably because they didn’t.

Payback Live Reactions – Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler, Tag Team Championship and Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt

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Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler is the first match of the Main card and I was not expecting much out of this match.  These two wrestled several times for the World Heavyweight Championship during Sheamus’ reign back in 2012, but I wasn’t impressed by their work together.  Their match at Extreme Rules certainly wasn’t impressive.  However, tonight was in my opinion the best match the two of them have worked together.  Both guys put in a max effort whereas it seemed to me like they kind of coasted at Extreme Rules.  I didn’t catch the moves that caused the wounds, but Dolph was busted open and Sheamus had a big welt forming on his right shoulder / chest area.  I feel like Ziggler put on his best performance since losing the Intercontinental Championship back in January tonight, even in defeat as Sheamus wins with a Brogue Kick.

Backstage, Kane and Seth Rollins have a standoff where they rehash what they’ve had to say on Raw and Smackdown every week since Extreme Rules and the bottom line is of course that Kane isn’t sure what he’s going to do tonight.  The storyline has itself been great, but this segment was just a rehash that WWE apparently felt they needed for the people that don’t watch Raw and Smackdown.  If Rollins does not win, Kane loses his job.

Next up is the 2-out-of-3 Falls Match for the Tag Team Championship and this match had a lot of great spots in it.  Tyson Kidd and Kofi were all over the place in this one and it was a rare quality match on Big E’s part.  Kidd and Cesaro win the first fall and Woods starts calling for the Freebird Rule and wants to replace Kofi for the second fall, but is blocked by Natalya and Kidd takes him out with a dive to the floor.  Kidd ends up hurt somehow, and a blind tag finish leads to the Big Ending as a double team and New Day takes the second fall.  Cesaro throws a ton of upper cuts.  The match ends with Xavier Woods sneaking in twin magic style to replace Kingston and covering Kidd for the win and New Day retains in a steal.  I was expecting New Day to retain in some way because I’m pretty sure that WWE wants the title to change hands in two weeks when the titles are on the line in the Elimination Chamber for the first time in history.  So, putting the titles back on Cesaro and Kidd only to take them away again in two weeks didn’t seem very productive to me when you could have New Day steal another win and get the comeuppance at the Elimination Chamber.  New Day is not leaving the Elimination Chamber as the tag team champions though.

Bray Wyatt takes on Ryback next and I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t paying much attention to this one as it was taking place in the final moments of the People’s Champion challenge on WWE Supercard.  I intend to go back and rewatch this match after the end of the show.  In the meantime, Bray beats Ryback after Ryback hits an exposed turnbuckle and Wyatt finishes him off with Sister Abigail.

Payback Preshow Live Reactions

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We started the night of action off with R-Truth taking on Stardust in an unannounced bonus match.  It wasn’t anything special, but both guys did well.  The bit with the bag of spiders on Raw either this week or the week before was hokey as all get out, so it was good to see them avoid going down a similar route tonight and kick the night off with a well executed match that wasn’t hokey at all.  Back and forth until the crowd gets to Stardust and he starts smacking R-Truth around with his glove.  R-Truth hits his finish (not sure what he calls it now that he doesn’t have the Little Jimmy gimmick and Little Jimmy was a god awful stupid name for a wrestling finishing move anyway) as a counter move when Stardust charges him and he picks up the win.

Sheamus interviews with Tom Phillips and it’s the Twitter fan questions interview segment that they did with Kane at Extreme Rules only for Kane to walk out after only 1-2 questions.  Sheamus does a good job with the interview, but the questions are of course lame and pointless.

Next match up is The faux Mega Powers against the Ascension and I could care less.  Like I said all along, once they ended Miz & Mizdow, they would not know what to do with him, they’d keep using him as a joke and the fan support of the character will dwindle, he’ll stop getting pops every time he comes out and unless he turns it around with a normal gimmick, he’ll be gone from the company.  Axelmania and Macho Mandow dominate the early going, but it doesn’t last long and The Ascension beat Sandow with the Fall of Man.  Not that anybody cared about the R-Truth and Stardust match, but it’s a good thing they added it to the preshow so this stinker wasn’t the only thing filling up the second half of the preshow.

Real American Wrestleblog Live Reactions – Extreme Rules 2015 Kickoff Show

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I’m trying out something new tonight, blogging live reactions during tonight’s Extreme Rules.  Starting off with the preshow and unfortunately, we learned earlier today that Daniel Bryan has officially been pulled for the show tonight.  As a result, instead of Bryan defending the Intercontinental Championship against Bad News Barrett, Barrett will face Neville and more bad news for BNB, not only does he lose out on having a PPV Championship match tonight, but he gets bumped from the main card as well as that BNB vs. Neville match is on the preshow while the Tag Team Championship match is moved up to the main card.

I am definitely looking forward to the Seth Rollins / Randy Orton Main Event tonight.  There isn’t a lot of doubt that Rollins ends the night still the WWE Champion, but I look forward to seeing Orton pull some new moves out of his bag of tricks with the RKO banned, similar to what happened when Orton wrestled Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 2007 with Sweet Chin Music banned.  It created a great match with the challenger pulling out all the stops, trying to win with the Sharpshooter, with the Figure Four Leglock, with the Crippler Crossface, with anything he could think of to do.  As with any Steel Cage match promoted as being able to prevent outside interference, it will almost inevitably end with Rollins winning due to – you guessed it – outside interference.  Factor in Kane, who has been at his most awesome in a long time in recent weeks, as the guardian of the cage door and that’s another x factor that should provide some quality entertainment and maybe even a Holy Crap moment or two.  They’ve been teasing Kane breaking from the authority, but it’s almost guaranteed that he goes in the exact opposite action and further entrenches himself within the Authority infrastructure.

There is a backstage interview from Naomi following the promo video for tonight’s Main Event, and Naomi again displays her new attitude and works toward a heel turn, which is kinda weird being that she has a title match against a heel champion tonight, but I’m interested to see where it goes.

And then Dean Ambrose interrupts the preshow panel and cuts an eccentric promo about Luke Harper and declares that he’s going to get revenge on Luke Harper for taking him out at Wrestlemania and beating him up a couple of times in the weeks between Wrestlemania 31 and Extreme Rules.  I think a Falls Count Anywhere Match would have fit those two perfectly, but a Chicago Street Fight is a pretty decent stipulation for them as well.

Recap of Sheamus’ comments when he returned with his new look and pretty much in the same line as what Batista had to say when he came back in 2014 and asked “where have all the real men gone?” and basically says that the little guys are a joke and you aren’t a real man unless you’re at least 6’3” 260 lbs.  Boring storyline, but could make for some pretty good matches.  I actually like Sheamus’ work for the most part, so I like seeing him get a new heel push.  I don’t like him stepping on some of the other talented guys like Dolph Ziggler to do it, but that’s what being a heel is all about.

Another batch of Tough Enough audition highlights.  I still don’t care.  I won’t be watching Tough Enough.  Apart from Survivor, I’ve just never been into reality TV (or more accurately fabricated reality TV).  And the fact that past Tough Enough winners have had such a poor record of making it in the WWE makes it seem extra pointless to me to watch it and root for anybody to win because odds are they’ll never make it to the roster before they get cut, despite winning.

Roman Reigns vs. Big Show Last Man Standing promo video airs next.  This has the opportunity to be the best match Big Show has put on in a long time, but I think a lot of people are not very enthused about it.  The crowd in Chicago is likely going to be against both guys and hijack the match, but whatever.  And there are the CM Punk chants already.  Expect more of them during the Divas match and the Last Man Standing match.

Bray Wyatt promo.  He’s supposedly calling out Ryback for his next program from the rumors I’ve read.  Could be interesting.  I don’t want to see Wyatt lose momentum like he did last year in his programs with Jericho and Ambrose.  I think Wyatt vs. Ryback might be a step in the wrong direction, but I could be wrong.

Here comes Bad News Barrett for the preshow match with Neville.  He takes credit for Daniel Bryan not being there, claiming that Bryan isn’t man enough and is scared of facing him.  Solid pre-match promo, though could have done without the potshots at Michael Jordan.

I like it a lot when we get a match like this where the two guys weren’t supposed to wrestle each other that night and are filling a space that opened up at the last minute.  It’s always a bummer when somebody is hurt and unable to perform, but I really enjoy seeing things get moved around and somebody else take advantage of that opportunity like Neville gets the chance to do tonight in Daniel Bryan’s stead.

What is with having a commercial interruption during the middle of a PPV match?  Really?  You can promote Jericho’s podcast, WWE 24, Jerry Springer’s Too Hot for TV and all that other stuff in between matches or in between shows.  It doesn’t belong in the middle of a match, even one on the preshow.

Very solid showing for Neville with Barrett letting him kick out of both the Winds of Change and Wasteland, Barrett’s former finishers.  Neville ducks the Bull Hammer toward the end and kicks Barrett in the head and goes for the Red Arrow, but Barrett crotches him on the top rope.  Barrett goes for an epic Bull Hammer with Neville on the top rope, but Neville moves, kicks Barrett in the head and hits the Red Arrow on the second try and gets the upset win.  Very good kickstart to the night, despite the crappy commercial interruption early on in the match.

Tom Phillips with a brief Q & A with Kane.  Very irrelevant tweet questions.  Kane’s reaction is kinda entertaining, but a pretty dull pointless segment.

Promotional package for the Cena / Rusev match = pee break time for me.

Bladder successfully emptied, ready for the show.  Ambrose vs. Harper up first.

The Raw Review – 08/11/2014

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Start off the night with a mound of presents at the top of the rampway as tonight is Hulk Hogan’s birthday celebration – AKA just an excuse to boost ratings on what fans know full well is likely to be a crummy take home show where nothing real happens and the entire point is to plug SummerSlam and the WWE Network as much as possible.  #$9.99, in case you didn’t know.  And if you by any chance didn’t know that, then let me inform you that Paul Heyman’s client Brock Lesnar conquered the Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania.  I think HHH and Heyman must have a personal bet backstage over who can say their phrase the most without the audience rioting.

And speaking of Heyman and Lesnar, they started off the show with a very solid promo in which Paul Heyman relives the highlights of Brock Lesnar since his return to the WWE for probably the 10-billionth time in the past 4 months, lest anybody somehow forget that Lesnar is still around because he really only shows up for maybe a dozen shows a year, yet somehow he’s going to win the WWE Championship in 6 days.  First, The Rock comes back for a grand total of two matches before he gets to win the title off of Punk and now Lesnar, who has wrestled seven matches in the past two and a half years, is going to be our next World Heavyweight Champion for a near certainty.  I personally have a problem with the spotlight being taken away from the guys that are there each and every week, night in and night out.  It’s not a big problem, but it’s like that annoying itch you get right in the middle of your back that you have to really stretch to rid yourself of.  Anyways, Heyman caps the promo by announcing that the WWE ring is now Brock’s house and he and the man of the house are going out for dinner, but not to let the party (Hulk Hogan’s birthday party) get too out of hand because after he eats, the man of the house is coming back home (back to the ring).  Pretty solid foreshadowing without boring everybody at the top of the show.  I am however, a little disappointed that Lesnar didn’t destroy the “birthday packages”, but there was still another 2 hours and 40 minutes for that to happen at that point.

In the first match of the night, Roman Reigns makes his way to the ring and then Kane’s music hits, which was good news to me as I feared after last week where he once again relinquished his mask that perhaps Kane was retiring.  Kane announces that since Reigns beat Kane last week, which was almost like beating two men, the authority would like to see how Reigns fairs actually fighting against two men this week and Reigns is placed in a Handicap match against Rybaxle.  It winds up being a typical Reigns match in which he doesn’t do a whole lot other than his usual punch, kick, Spear, Superman Punch set-up (and people give Cena a hard time over his supposed Five Moves of Death).  Reigns ends up winning by DQ, apparently meant to save Rybaxle the embarrassment of losing a handicap match in their favor.  After the match, Reigns cuts one of his best promos to date in which he points out that Randy Orton thinks Reigns stole something from him, but he hasn’t taken anything from Orton yet.  However, he says that at SummerSlam, he’s going to take everything away from Orton.  He also points out that once you punch the teeth out of a Viper, it’s really just a big worm.

Next up was Seth Rollins against Rob Van Dam in the match we were promised last week on Raw before the bait and switch that led to Seth Rollins losing to Heath Slater due to easily one of the most entertaining in-match distraction segments in the history of Monday Night Raw.  But Rollins redeems himself this week after a physical match with RVD and Rollins wins with the Curb Stomp, which for the record, is a pretty crummy finisher in my book because there are so many situations in which it doesn’t make any sense for his opponent to roll over and get into position for it.  After the match, Rollins takes a close look at Hogan’s presents at the top of the rampway, as though expecting Dean Ambrose to be hiding in one.  And predictably, just when he gives up on the idea and starts to leave, Ambrose of course comes bursting out of the biggest present and attacks Seth from him behind, rolling him all the way down the rampway and back to the ring and Seth before Seth manages to escape.  Nothing to complain about with the match, but the bit with Ambrose popping out of the box could have been done better.

Next up is some B.S. segment with Stephanie and Daniel Bryan’s supposed therapist in which Stephanie coaxes the young lady into claiming to have had an affair with Daniel Bryan and it’s obviously just a crummy ploy to pump up the hype for Stephanie and Brie, which for some reason seems to be the second Main Event on SummerSlam.  Really, after TNA did that incredibly shitty AJ Styles fake affair storyline a couple of years ago, WWE decides to do the same thing?  Thankfully, at this point in the storyline, it seems like this won’t be nearly as overly drawn out as that atrocity was and it’ll be quashed by the time Brie and Stephanie have their one and only match at SummerSlam, except for perhaps an eventual mixed tag with Brie & Daniel against Stephanie & HHH sometime in the future.  I pretty much tuned out this whole segment and if you didn’t do the same thing, then I’m sorry for your loss.  Apparently, Stephanie promised that they’re going to get it done and out of the way later on tonight instead of at SummerSlam, but I somehow doubt we could get that lucky.

Jack Swagger takes on Cesaro in our next match, and obviously Swagger has to come out looking strong in this one to promote his match with Rusev at SummerSlam.  It’s a shame that Cesaro apparently isn’t working the show and if he is, it’ll be one of those matches with no build-up where he jobs to somebody that they want to push but couldn’t decide what to do with until the last minute.  Like every Cesaro match, this one delivered plenty of excitement and unique spots before Swagger ultimately made Cesaro tap out to the Ankle Lock.  WWE, you’re pushing the wrong guy here.  However, once Swagger vs. Rusev is done, that will probably be rectified.  After the match, Rusev interrupts and proceeds to kick off another round of what I like to call the worst flag waving competition ever.  Thankfully, this round of flag twirling didn’t last very long.

Next up is pretaped footage between Bray Wyatt and Chris Jericho talking face-to-face in an interview segment.  This is really not the best setting for Wyatt, whose character is better served sticking to the shadows or working a crowd from a pulpit.  It was kind of like watching Batman walking down the sidewalk in the middle of the day in plain daylight.  I think the segment took away some of Wyatt’s mojo.  Both guys were brilliant, but Wyatt’s character just seemed out of place.

AJ Lee is in action in the next match against Eve Marie.  And you know when you see Eve Marie in the ring, you are about to see a terrible match.  From what I’ve seen from Eve in the past, she has no hustle in the ring.  She lollygags along at less than half speed and does nothing exciting or entertaining.  She only has a job because she has a slim waist and a boob job.  Paige comes out and causes a very boring distracting by skipping around the ring.  As much as I like Paige, that was a snoozer and Eve Marie for some reason gets handed a win over the Diva’s Champion in a match that lasted all of about 30 seconds before the distraction and Eve rolling up AJ for the win.  Paige wraps up with a poem and that part was pretty brilliant.  Diva’s promos usually suck balls, but that one was pretty decent.  Eve for no apparent reason is then down on one knee rubbing her neck outside the ring, so AJ goes out after her and beats the crap out of her while wailing and screeching.

John Cena’s then comes out to respond to Lesnar and Heyman’s comments from the start of the night.  I really like Cena when he gets ready to go into the ring with somebody that he legitimately doesn’t like, like he was with The Rock and now with Lesnar.  The dude is very underrated as a talker.  He almost had me convinced that he was actually going to beat Lesnar at SummerSlam.  Almost, but not quite.  Very solid promo.  Cena can occasionally bring it and when he does, he’s on par with any of the internet darlings out there.

Then it’s back to Brie and Stephanie and it was obvious that this match wasn’t actually going to happen tonight instead of at SummerSlam.  Instead, Stephanie turns the tables on Brie from a few weeks ago and gets Brie arrested for slapping her husband’s physical therapist earlier in that crummy segment.  Another waste of time here.  Stephanie was at least mildly entertaining as she flopped around with her tongue hanging out of her mouth while Brie put her in a horribly executed version of the Yes Lock.  The second time for the night, she was as boring as it gets, sticking hard to her overbearing bitch boss character hardcore.

Next up is Dolph Ziggler against Heath Slater with The Miz once again joining the commentary team.  I don’t know who convinced WWE that The Miz was a good talker, but that person should be shot.  I find it hilarious that even Michael Cole, the guy that was the biggest Miz mark back in 2011, has turned on the Miz and makes fun of him all the time.  Miz is a joke and a bad one at that.  Anyway, he stands on the announce table for the entire match in yet another suit that exhibits his poor taste.  Meanwhile, Ziggler puts in a decent appearance against Slater until it looks like Ziggler is about to get the W, so Miz starts to interfere, only to have Ziggler cut him off at the pass and beat the crap out of him and throw him around outside the ring.  This causes Ziggler to get counted out.  After the match, Ziggler offers to shake Slater’s hand and Slater goes to kick him instead, so Ziggler KOs him and heads into SummerSlam looking strong.  This current edition of Ziggler vs. Miz reminds me a lot of Booker T vs. Christian from 2003 and it should ring some bells for you because it’s pretty much the exact same scenario.  A PPV battle royal for a vacant Intercontinental Championship gets won by the heel who people thought was already eliminated and then the face comes back and beats the crap out of him for a month and beats him for the title at the next PPV.  Here’s hoping that history repeats itself in this instance.

Sheamus made his return after sitting out the last two weeks due to severe flu symptoms, which I believe is the reason why we have another AJ / Paige title match at SummerSlam.  After their Battleground match was so terrible, I thought they would continue building the program between them and skip over SummerSlam to give them time to work together some more at house shows and build some better in-ring chemistry and then have their next title match at Night of Champions next month.  Instead, we are saddled with both AJ vs. Paige and Stephanie vs. Brie at SummerSlam instead of them potentially building a Sheamus US Title defense against somebody like Cesaro or Rusev.  Sheamus has turned into a really solid in-ring performer.  You can’t dispute that the guy gives a max effort every time he’s in the ring and like Cena, he blows other big musclebound wrestlers out of the water in terms of athleticism and willingness to experiment with new maneuvers that you don’t see coming from a big guy, so I support Sheamus and Cena where a lot of people don’t.  I’m not going to mark out for either of them, but I have no problem with either of them carrying championships and I give them a lot of respect.  In tonight’s final match, Sheamus takes on Randy Orton and these two put on a very solid match together as they’ve done many times in the past.  It wasn’t a classic by any means, but it was very solid and for a Main Event on a take home show that didn’t feature anybody from the Main Event of the upcoming Pay Per View, it was more than adequate and it ended with another phenomenal RKO.  Randy Orton is among the best at finding exciting ways to hit his finishing maneuver when we as a viewer aren’t expecting it.  He may be the best at hitting his finishing move as a surprise since Shawn Michaels. 

Finally, we cap the night with Hulk Hogan’s birthday celebration, which was the ratings grab they’ve been promoting all week to try to bring in viewers.  I’m kind of surprised that they saved it for the end of the show instead of leading off the second or third hour with it to reach the largest audience as the segments at the top and end of each hour easily get the best ratings of any given wrestling show.  Anyways, typical token appearances by legends and then Brock Lesnar comes back to try to spoil the party, but then Cena comes out and cuts him off and Lesnar disappointingly backs off and exits without the two having any real contact at all in the only show where they both appeared before their title match Main Event at SummerSlam.  This isn’t going to be a match on Sunday, it’s going to be two guys taking turns beating on each other and resting with numerous wear down holds and it’s probably going to suck, but because it doesn’t end with Cena winning and keeping the title, people are going to probably love it anyway.

Overall, not that great of an episode of Raw, but pretty good for a final episode of Raw before a PPV (Aka a take-home show).

 

 

Written by I Am a Real American

August 12, 2014 at 3:29 am

Posted in AJ Lee, AJ Styles, Antonio Cessaro, Battleground, Booker T, Bray Wyatt, Brie Bella, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, Chris Jericho, Christian, Curtis Axel, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Eve Marie, Heath Slater, Hulk Hogan, Intercontinental Championship, Jack Swagger, John Cena, Kane, Lesnar vs. Cena, Michael Cole, Monday Night Raw, Paige, Paul Heyman, Pro Wrestling, Randy Orton, Raw Response, RKO, Rob Van Dam, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ryback, Rybaxle, Seth Rollins, Shawn Michaels, Sheamus, Stephanie McMahon, SummerSlam, The Miz, The Rock, Triple H, Undertaker, United States Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE Championship, WWE Network, Yes Lock, Zeb Colter

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The Return of Rob Van Dam

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Everybody right now is super excited that Rob Van Dam is returning to the WWE at Money in the Bank on July 14 in Philadelphia.  It’s great news and he should put on a hell of a show, but is he going to be on the road day in and day out or is he going to wrestle a schedule similar to that of Brock Lesnar?

I think he pretty much has to be working a limited schedule based on past experience because we are all well aware of his exploits in the field of recreational marijuana.  It’s what had him moving out the door back in 2006 when an arrest along with Sabu.  RVD was the WWE and ECW dual champion at the time and the incident led to him promptly dropping the two titles on back-to-back nights almost 7 years ago to the date to Edge and Big Show respectively.

If he comes back full time, I think it’s only a matter of time until he faces and weed-induced suspension under the WWE’s Wellness Policy and maybe gets himself shuffled right back out the door.  A limited schedule, meaning limited travel and limited wear and tear on his body probably lessens that possibility.  And sure, he’s only 42, but he’s been a professional wrestler for almost a quarter of a century now (24 years, he was a 7-year veteran before debuting in ECW in 1996) and a light schedule is never a bad idea for a guy that has been wrestling that long.

And for those of you that want to point out that after Jack Swagger had his weed-related issues, he still got to compete in a title match at Wrestlemania and continue working for another couple of months afterward, I think he got very lucky on that count because the arrest was enough for him to be suspended immediately under the Wellness Policy in lieu of a positive drug test.  However, being that WWE had already started building toward the Fox News type of storyline with Swagger and World Champion Alberto Del Rio and not having anybody else that they could fit in there and have that kind of supposedly edgy storyline, it feels like they deferred letting the ax fall on Swagger until after that storyline had run it’s course.  Notice, he hasn’t been around since Extreme Rules almost 1 1/2 months ago.  Maybe it’s kind of convenient that he “got injured” now when he was probably destined for a few months on the bench anyway.  So, I wouldn’t be too inclined to think that the treatment of Swagger is a sign that RVD’s drug violations, should they come up again, wouldn’t be an issue.  However, I’m sure that all of that was discussed with him before he agreed to come back.

But where does he fit in after Money in the Bank?  I’m just going to go ahead and assume that he does not win the match that they are billing as “Money in the Bank All-Stars” against CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Kane and Christian.  Four guys are coming into that match having already won a Money in the Bank briefcase (Daniel Bryan, Kane, Rob Van Dam and CM Punk twice) and I think if anybody is going to be another repeat winner, it will either be Bryan or Punk and not a guy who has been working for another company for the past 3 years and has proven to be unreliable in the past.  My best guess for what happens to RVD is that he gets sucked into a rivalry with the Shield.  The Shield vs. Daniel Bryan, Kane, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, Ryback and John Cena stuff has pretty much been done to death and they are surely moving on and RVD might be an ideal target for the so-called “Hounds of Justice” to make even more of a name for themselves after they seemed destined to get a serious downgrade in competition and wrestle teams from the fledgling tag team division like The Usos regularly now.  I kind of expect them to select a new big-name target soon and Rob Van Dam on the night he makes his return to WWE just feels like the direction this would go next for them logically.

While I would greatly enjoy seeing RVD match up against guys that are going to give him guaranteed great matches like CM Punk, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler – I’m intrigued at the possibility of seeing him work against some new blood as well and we’ve already seen that The Shield, Seth Rollins in particular, can put on great matches against guys that fly around the ring a lot like Daniel Bryan and RVD both tend to do.  And just maybe RVD can bring along a couple of other ECW alumni, even for one night only, to take on The Shield at SummerSlam.  RVD, Sabu & Tommy Dreamer vs. The Shield?  It’s not out of the question.

Five Things to Look Forward to in June 2013

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1) Money in the Bank Ladder Match announcements.  Really, the sooner that Payback has been and gone the better and we can get to the Money in the Bank Pay Per View on July 14 in Philadelphia.  Shortly after Payback, we should start finding out what the ladder matches are going to look like.  As for Payback, I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that Ryback is just another monster heel that they built up just to feed him to John Cena.  It’s just another instance of Cena getting his ass kicked by the same guy in a month’s worth of attacks and then overcoming some injury or stipulation or both to win anyway on the Pay Per View, only this time he’s going to beat Ryback twice in the same night.  As for CM Punk and Chris Jericho, it should be one of the best matches of the year, but unless Punk turns face or they pull a switcharoo and Punk doesn’t show up and gets replaced by Brock Lesnar or Curtis Axel, I don’t see anything surprising coming from it.  They’ll put on a great show, but nothing with be gained or lost by either man.  95% chance that Punk shows up, teases being a face and cheats to beat Jericho, changing nothing and doing nothing we haven’t already seen Punk do to death all last year.  He was entertaining at times, even while beating the heel champion’s dead horse all the way up until he wasn’t the champion any more.  I’m expecting more of that, so if you are one of the sheep that thought what Punk was doing in the last half of 2012 was somehow cutting edge – well, then Payback should be all kinds of good news for you.

2) The Usos getting a push again in the tag team division.  I don’t expect them to unseat The Shield, but it’s nice to see them adding new bits and pieces to the gimmick and picking up wins because like the Prime Time Players, neither one of them is likely to ever have a shot as a singles wrestler in anything other than a job squad capacity.  I greatly enjoyed the Team Hell No storylines and still am as Daniel Bryan goes nuts on everybody trying to prove that he’s not the weak link, but I’m excited to potential see more traditional tag teams and tag team specialists getting more air time and doing something other than jobbing to pairs of singles wrestlers.

3) Dolph Ziggler coming back on TV.  I imagine if WWE knew he still wouldn’t be cleared to compete this far into the future, they would have stripped him of the title and put it on Del Rio or Swagger at Extreme Rules and allowed Ziggler to win it again when he came back.  A few days before Extreme Rules, he was still being advertised to appear in the Main Event of Monday Night Raw the night after Extreme Rules in a tag match with Ryback against Cena and Del Rio.  As we know, that didn’t happen and Ziggler has still not wrestled since Swagger screwed the pooch by kicking the champion in the head wrong and causing a concussion.  However, he will surely be back in time to defend the title against Del Rio at Payback and once he retains the belt, we can get a fresh program for him against somebody like Daniel Bryan or the Ziggler-Orton rivalry that was rumored to be happening leading into Wrestlemania 29, but never happened.  With the Daniel Bryan and AJ stuff to still draw on and still be entertaining, I’m thinking that’s the direction they end up going as soon as Ziggler finishes with Del Rio and Bryan gives up on trying to beat the Shield as a tag team.

4) This is actually something NOT to look forward to, but something that is going to happen anyway and that’s Fandango winning the Intercontinental Championship.  Brace yourselves now because the most mis-interpreted fan reaction we’ve seen in a while is going to culminate with Fandango winning the title in a Triple Threat Match against The Miz and Wade Barrett at Payback.  If you were one of the people that ragged on John Cena for only using five basic moves and you’re one of the idiots at the arenas “Fandangoing”, go ahead and pull out your hypocrite stamp and slam it into your forehead because other than his spin kick (which Kofi Kingston and Cody Rhodes both employ more exciting variations of), everything that Johnny Curtis has shown us thus far as Fandango has been incredibly basic.  And it doesn’t even take much talent since he has the ring apron to steady himself with before delivering it.  On top of that, Jericho is lucky he didn’t end up on the shelf next to Dolph Ziggler after all the times Fandango landed on the back of his head with his leg drop.

5) More Curtis Axel.  I’ve been down on the spawn of Mr. Perfect a bit because he just seems to fall flat charisma wise when you see him come up against Triple H and John Cena.  It doesn’t feel to me like he’s able to make the crowd care about him, which is probably why they put him with Paul Heyman to see if he could get over that way in the first place.  And others have agreed with me over in the I Love the WWE Facebook group (http://facebook.com/groups/ILoveDoubleDoubleE) that he just feels like he’s falling flat.  And getting wins over Cena by countout doesn’t seem to be helping and I don’t see how anybody could have thought that it would.  However, the kid can wrestle and I’ve compared him a few times stylistically to the late great “Ravashing” Rick Rude.  He just needs to find some of the Hennig family charisma that made his dad great and he really could be exciting to watch for years to come.

Five Things to Take Away from Extreme Rules 2013

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Folks, I was actually there for the show, so I have a slightly different perspective than the viewers at home, so keep that in mind.  I’m sure all of you who bought the Pay Per View or managed to watch it through other, more dubious means had a better view of most of the action, but sitting up in the stands, I might have caught some things that the cameras missed, for example, the first takeaway I got from the night.

1) Mark Henry sells harder and better than the Big Show, or at least he did last night.  What really sold me on this was the two similar spots they did where they got pulled or pushed into the ring post.  With Henry facing off against Sheamus in the Strap Match, at one point they took the fight out of the ring, but exited out different sides, leaving a ring post in between them.  Sheamus then used the strap to pull Henry into the ring post and when Henry through himself into the spot and made contact, the ring post moved violently and I almost thought they could break it off the side of the ring if they did that spot just one more time.  But they went back in the ring and completed the match.  Then, three matches later, Big Show takes on Randy Orton in an Extreme Rules Match and they too take the fight out to the floor and Big Show swats a ladder away from Orton and hoists Orton up like he’s going to use him for a battering ram and slam him into that same ring post that Henry collided with.  However, Orton counters and gets down behind Big Show and shoves him into that ring post and low and behold, nothing happens.  The ring post didn’t shake at all, which after what Henry did during his spot led me to believe that Big Show took it easy on himself while Henry went full bore.

2) Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H should not have been the closing match of the night.  I understand why they thought it had to close the show, since it was supposedly going to be the third and deciding match of their rivalry and thus should prove to be the best match between them, but it wasn’t.  On top of that, after the St. Louis crowd violently cheered on the hometown hero Randy Orton against Big Show and then going through the self-imposed obligation of showing all the kids in attendance who the boss is during the “Let’s Go Cena – CENA SUCKS,” chants, the crowd was pretty well out of it.  Coupled with the fact that the match didn’t end cleanly immediately after the only WWE / World Title match of the night didn’t have a winner and everybody leaves feeling slighted.  I don’t even think people cared who won, it just would have been nice to see a clear winner and a clear loser.  By the way, as my brother pointed out about the finish of that match was Paul Heyman was doing a sell job and then he pops up to low blow HHH and then goes right back to doing his cell job and acts like he’s unconscious up until Lesnar exits the cage and then reaches in and drags Heyman out by the leg.  What exactly was the point in that?  That was horrible planning on Heyman’s part.  Once you pop up and hit the low blow and don’t get touched again, how do you go back to being knocked out?  I thought Paul Heyman was smarter than that.

3) The Shield might not actually be a cohesive unit for much longer.  We’ve seen it before with pretty much every heel group that’s been cut from the same cloth as The Shield.  The Nexus, the Corre, Evolution, the nWo – once the members start winning titles, jealousy starts to set in and it becomes a pissing match over who is better.  That’s pretty much the way all of these things end and the beginning of the end usually comes once one or all of the members start winning titles.  As we saw with Evolution and the nWo, that can lead to a series of decent rivalries and play out for a long time, or as we saw with the Corre, it can completely break up the group in pretty much no time flat.

4) Dean Ambrose and Kofi Kingston put on a pretty sloppy match while Chris Jericho vs. Fandango seemed pretty sound.  During the United States Title Match, it seemed to me that Ambrose was having quite a bit of trouble keeping pace with Kofi, which led to Ambrose looking pretty stupid by having to hurry at the last second to get into place to take some of Kofi’s moves.  And there was also the botch where Kofi tried to jump over Ambrose, but Ambrose didn’t get out of the way quick enough and Kofi kicked him in the head accidentally, which they no sold and moved on.  Conversely, Jericho vs. Fandango didn’t seem to have any slip ups at all, but then again Jericho is amazing and Fandango doesn’t do any moves that can really be screwed up except for usually landing wrong on his opponents heads.  His move set strikes me as overly basic, which sometimes when you’re still just getting the hang of the business, it’s better to K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid).  So there really wasn’t any opportunity I saw for him to really screw up the match other than if he had taken Jericho’s flying crossbody at the start of the match wrong and dropped him on the floor kind of like The Miz did to R-Truth last year that got him in hot water.  So, Fandango can at least take other people’s high spots without screwing up, which is more than can be said for The Miz or Sim Snuka / Deuce.  However, I’d rather watch a match like what Ambrose and Kingston put on that is slightly sloppy because at least they were taking some risks to try to put together a better match even if they couldn’t get the timing right.

5) HHH’s Sharpshooter is almost as bad as The Rock’s.  Anybody that is a part of the fan group I comment in on facebook knows that I’m pretty hard on The Rock for his extremely bad version of the Sharpshooter.  Well, Triple H brought it out for the cage match against Brock Lesnar last night and it ended up being every bit as bad as the version utilized by The Rock.  However, it didn’t start out that way.  It looked like HHH actually did a semi-decent job of applying the move at the start and had a decent version locked in, but Lesnar fought to stretch himself out to lessen the pressure because he apparently couldn’t take it, but that wasn’t supposed to be the finish of the match, so the move just ended up looking really bad by the time Lesnar drug himself almost all the way down to the mat instead of letting HHH hold him up and selling the hold.  So, I put most of the blame for HHH’s version on Lesnar not cooperating, unlike when Rock just plain puts the hold on wrong from the start.  Chris Benoit is the only one who has come close to doing the move correctly since Owen and Bret Hart’s time, and Bret gives him credit for it, but always points out that it isn’t right any time I read anything where he’s asked about it.  In this day and age though, nobody cares about doing the submissions correctly and making it look good (with the exception of Daniel Bryan’s Crossface No Lock and Punk’s occasional Anaconda Vise).  Pretty much the only time Jericho gets to put in a decent looking Walls of Jericho any more is when he’s wrestling the human gumby known as Kofi Kingston.  Maybe it’s just that wrestlers are softer now than they were ten years ago or maybe they just don’t care about the technical wrestling side of things as much, but something has to be done to reverse the trend of horribly applied submission locks.