Real American Wrestleblog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Yes Lock

A Real American Wrestlemania 31 Overview

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Barely more than a week away from Wrestlemania 31 and let’s take a look first at what we know concerning the main event.  Brock Lesnar’s WWE contract is up very soon.  This fact has been made very public for quite some time now and all of the reports say that the two sides are at a standstill.  Rumors are flying that Brock is considering coming out of retirement as an MMA fighter and stepping back into the UFC.  The general feeling seems to be that unless Brock gets paid a lot more than what Vince McMahon has thus far been willing to shell out, he will walk.

The plan for Lesnar to drop the title to Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 31 has been widely reported since before Lesnar even won the title back at SummerSlam last year.  WWE has stuck to their guns under pressure from the fans to seemingly keep moving forward with that plan despite pressure from outspoken fans who very vocally expressed their disapproval of Roman Reigns being seemingly anointed as the next big thing.  I’m obviously not breaking any new ground here when I say that Brock Lesnar is not very likely to walk out of Levi’s Stadium on March 29 still holding the WWE Championship.  But this is where things become more up in the air – does Roman Reigns leave Wrestlemania with the title or does Seth Rollins finally cash in his Money in the Bank Briefcase after eight months of waiting?  As brilliant as Rollins has been at points over the past 8 months, I tend to think that he has been groomed to become the first person to cash in that briefcase at Wrestlemania.  With the Money in the Bank concept going as strongly as it has for the past 10 years, I find it somewhat surprising that nobody has as of yet cashed it in on the biggest stage WWE has to offer.  Dolph Ziggler came close two years ago, waiting several months and becoming the first individual to still have the briefcase in his possession at the start of Wrestlemania, but WWE didn’t pull the trigger that night – instead waiting to have Dolph cash-in the next night.  Back in 2007, Ken Kennedy promised to keep his briefcase for a full year and cash it in at Wrestlemania 24, even going so far as to launch a Money in the Bank cash-in countdown on wwe.com, counting down the number of days until Wrestlemania 24.  However, that idea got the rug pulled out from under it and Kennedy’s WWE run never really recovered after he lost the briefcase to Edge.  Ten years after the first Money in the Bank Ladder Match, it feels very fitting that Money in the Bank would finally be cashed in at a Wrestlemania for the first time.  And with the fans reaction to Reigns at the Royal Rumble in mind, a cash-in would presumably be very well received by the WWE Universe.  Brock Lesnar hasn’t lost a match since Wrestlemania 29, so Roman Reigns clearly stands to benefit from Lesnar dropping the title to him, even if Reigns doesn’t leave with the championship.  Reigns beating Lesnar only to have Seth Rollins cash-in immediately after and take the title from Reigns seems to be a scenario where everybody wins.  Reigns gets to stand up the next night and brag about beating the guy everyone said couldn’t be beaten, just like Brock did last year after beating Undertaker.  Seth gets to brag about being the new champion and having all of the Authority’s plans come to fruition with the future finally becoming reality.  Brock gets to go back to UFC and get the payday he wants.  The WWE gets it’s next marquee match-up for the next Pay Per View with Rollins defending the title against Reigns.  And the fans voicing their disapproval of Reigns get to leave happy knowing that Rollins is the champion and Reigns isn’t.  Everybody wins.

From there we move to the match that has been billed pretty much as the secondary Main Event of the night – Triple H vs. Sting.  And while this match will undoubtedly be a thing to behold, it just doesn’t feel like it carries any importance.  Sting is supposedly trying to save the WWE from Triple H, but the way things played out at Survivor Series and since, it feels like WWE hit the payoff prematurely.  This match itself would ideally be better suited as the culmination of something with the future hanging in the balance.  As is, the outcome of this match won’t mean anything unless the storytelling coming out of Wrestlemania makes it mean something.  For example, if Sting wins and HHH comes out the next night on Raw and does the same things he’s been doing for the past year and a half, then what was the point of having this big far reaching storyline that was meant to see these two icons fighting over the future on screen direction of the company?  If HHH wins, Sting just comes back at a later date and tries again.  The only foreseeable way that this match makes any kind of difference is if Sting wins and somehow makes Triple H “see the error of his ways”, which would be corny and not really believable.  As much promotion has gone into this match, from where I’m sitting it feels like a throwaway match to set up for what comes next, and on any other Pay Per View of the year, that would be expected, but at Wrestlemania we’ve come to expect conclusive outcomes and culminations to storylines that have been building for months.  But instead, despite what has already transpired, it still feels like this is still just the early rounds with the final chapter to come down the road.

Our next match brings me to a concept that I’ve mentioned several times before and if you’ve visited the “I Love the WWE” facebook group that I manage, you might have seen me talk about it before.  Monster heels exist so that they can be fed to John Cena.  Traditionally, in the wrestling business, monster heels exist to put over the conquering hero in the biggest matches.  But for the past decade, the only tried and true “conquering hero” character that the WWE has produced has been John Cena.  As a result, virtually every monster heel that has come along in that time frame has been made to look unstoppable, only for Cena to stop them.  It happened with Umaga.  It happened with The Great Khali.  It happened with Big Show a dozen different times it seems like.  It happened with Batista.  It happened with Tensai.  It happened with Ryback. It even happened with the entire Nexus faction at once.  And last year, we saw it happen again with Bray Wyatt.  So, what makes Rusev any better than all of those guys?  Nothing.  Thusly, I will be very surprised if John Cena does not beat Rusev cleanly at Wrestlemania this year.  The question is, after it happens, does Rusev find a way to rebound or does he fade into the background like so many other monster heel gimmicks have done in the past?

And from there we move on to the return of the Undertaker.  I will admit that when the streak ended last year, I thought that signaled the end of the Undertaker’s career.  For the past 5 years now, he’s been wrestling a one match a year schedule and it’s been great, but eventually even that has to come to an end.  Not even the Undertaker can continue coming back for Wrestlemania every year forever.  And once the streak ended, it felt like he’d passed the torch for the final time and was riding off into the sunset.  And if he had done so, it would have been very fitting.  Undertaker has been very widely regarded as one of the most old school mentality driven guys in the business for the past two decades and the school of thought that goes along with that is that it’s always better to go out on your back, to be carried out on your shield so to speak, and in so doing give back to the business the same way the guys that came before did when they put you over on their way out.  So, to see him seemingly pass the torch and then come back for another ride is surprising.  Obviously, I don’t think either guy loses anything from taking the loss, but when you examine this match, what does either man have to gain from winning it?  If Bray Wyatt beats Undertaker and this time Undertaker really does ride off into the sunset for the final time, then it obviously boosts Bray Wyatt because while Brock Lesnar ended the streak, Bray Wyatt would have ended the Undertaker altogether.  However, if it’s just Bray Wyatt going over the Undertaker, how much does being the second guy to beat Undertaker at Wrestlemania even mean?  Especially at this stage of the Undertaker’s career.  If Undertaker wins, it essentially resurrects the character, but to what end?  With no more streak to defend, does going 22-1 really mean anything?  I don’t really feel like it does.  And I don’t think based on his old-school reputation Undertaker is the type of guy to come back for one last ride to walk over top of a very bright up and comer just so that he can go out with a win in his final match.  Taking all of that into consideration, it now feels like there is something more planned for Undertaker beyond this year.  We haven’t seen Undertaker win a match since Wrestlemania 29, so just maybe Undertaker gets one more win, shows us what he’s still got in the tank, and plants the seeds for whatever his end game is – Undertaker vs. Sting in 2016 maybe?

This is the 3rd Wrestlemania that Wade Barrett has carried the Intercontinental Championship into in the past five years.  At Wrestlemania 27, as the champion, he led the Corre in a losing effort against the thrown together team of Big Show, Kane, Kofi Kingston and Santino Marella.  At Wrestlemania 29, he defended the title against The Miz on the preshow, not even making it onto the Main Card and he didn’t even win the match.  He lost the title to Miz on the Wrestlemania preshow, only to win it back the next night on Raw, so if the purpose was to keep pushing Barrett as the Intercontinental Champion, why have him lose to The Miz on the preshow in the first place?  Now, he returns to Wrestlemania 31, defending the championship against six others in a Ladder Match.  And at first glance, it seems very likely that one of the trio of Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler or Dean Ambrose would be the favorite to win this match and crown a new champion.  However, the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that this is the year that they finally stick with Barrett at Wrestlemania.  This guy has reportedly been one of the favorites of the powers that be over the past 5 years, as evidenced by him winning the Intercontinental Championship five different times now despite seemingly always being hurt.  At one point last year, I even read reports that it was a race to the WWE Championship between Barrett, Wyatt and Reigns.  And he remains pretty well over with the WWE Universe despite how WWE has let him fall by the wayside in Wrestlemanias past.  So, despite my initial reaction that one of the big three faces would very likely become the new champion in this match, I’m officially picking Bad News Barrett in this one.  Bryan, Ziggler and Ambrose are not going to lose any popularity no matter what happens in this match.  While the Intercontinental Championship would undoubtedly get a better rub if Daniel Bryan were defending it every week in classic technically sound matches, I feel like letting the ball drop on pushing Barrett on the heels of Wrestlemania yet again could be a very big mistake and signal that they’ve given up on him to a certain extent.

Then there is the Randy Orton – Seth Rollins match-up, which could very well end up being the best one-on-one match of the night in my opinion.  Rollins has had his dull moments at times this past year, just like anybody else, but when he’s shined, he’s shined brighter than pretty much anybody else on the roster.  And this is his first Wrestlemania match on his own, without having to share the spotlight with Ambrose and Reigns in a 6-Man Tag Match.  So, I really feel that he’s going to really leave his mark on this Wrestlemania in this match and try to tear down the house and I think Orton is a good opponent for him to do that with, although Ziggler or Bryan might have been better options just from a technical wrestling perspective.  However, while Rollins is probably going to have a lot of highlights in this match, I think Orton ends up getting the victory with a RKO “outta nowhere” because I think Rollins probably has his big Wrestlemania moment yet to come at the end of the night when he finally cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase (see the second paragraph).

From there, we move on to the Divas tag team match.  I feel like people really want this match to be something that stands out and maybe puts the Divas division back on the map in a way that it hasn’t been since the days when Trish Stratus, Lita and Mickie James were trading the title among themselves.  However, I just don’t see this as the right way to go about that.  Nikki Bella is currently carrying around that division’s title, which means that she sets the bar for where that division stands and the momentum of that division starts and begins with her right now.  And I don’t feel like carrying that title is doing much of anything to convince people that Nikki Bella is any more worth paying attention to than she was before.  And close to 3/4 of the time she’s on TV, she’s either standing outside the ring while Brie has a one-on-one match or the both of the Bellas are on commentary while other divas wrestle.  The NXT Women’s division is becoming so well respected because when the champion shows up she wrestles and she wrestles a legitimate match that isn’t over in 2-3 minutes.  I think if it were up to certain people with authority in the WWE, they’d do away with women’s wrestling all together if they could get away with it without a fair practices lawsuit.  So, for the past several years, it’s just been this token set of girls taking up as small of chunks of air time as they can get away with and people have finally become fed up with it.  However, it seems like the #GiveDivasAChance twitter movement has become something for WWE to hold up and try to make themselves relevant while really doing nothing to give divas a chance at all.  Unfortunately, I expect more of the same from the divas as what we’ve seen in Wrestlemania divas tag matches past, even though AJ and Paige certainly bring more wrestling talent to the match than the likes of Maria Menunous, Kelly Kelly, Maria, Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler, and the Miller Lite Catfight Girls ever could.  I hope to be pleasantly surprised, but I’m not gonna hold my breath.

The Tag Team titles are almost certainly going to be relegated to the preshow again, which is fine.  Cesaro and Kidd make for a great opening act, even if they deserve a bigger stage than that.  Losing one-half of The Usos to injury hurts this match a lot, since they have undoubtedly been the bright spot of the division over the past year.  Los Matadores and New Day are lucky to even be on the preshow after how mediocre they’ve all performed over the past year.  I personally would like to see at least one of the teams to come out of NXT like The Ascension or Lucha Dragons get the opportunity to step in and take part in this match.  However, I think it’s pretty obvious that whoever ends up being in the match, the odds are heavily in the favor of Cesaro & Kidd keeping the belts because while they were thrown together as an afterthought, they are almost as awesome together as they were on their own.

And finally, I saved the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal for last.  There are a lot of different ways I see this playing out and I think a lot of it is going to depend on what is planned for the rest of the night and like last year with Cesaro, I’m half-expecting somebody to step into this match unannounced and win it.  This is made more likely, in my mind, due to the fact that last year the match had a lot more pre-announced star power than it does this year.  Let’s say that for some reason the plan is for Reigns to end the night as champion and for Rollins to not cash-in.  Lesnar is obviously leaving, so there is no Reigns vs. Lesnar II looming in the near future.  As such, this battle royal could be used to launch Reigns’ first challenger for the title, and if that were to be the case, my mind jumps away from the pre-announced field for the match to Rusev.  Let’s say that Rusev suffers his first loss against Cena and is so pissed off about it that he refuses to leave ringside, but the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is up next so the ring starts filling up and then Rusev jumps in and enters himself in the match and wins it.  Maybe that launches Rusev, no longer tied down by the United States Championship into being the first guy to challenge Reigns for the title.  That scenario obviously doesn’t work if Rollins cashes in because that makes Rollins vs. Reigns the obvious next step.  But that’s why I say I think a lot of what else is supposed to happen throughout the night is going to impact who is going to win this match.  I don’t even think anybody in the WWE has made up their mind yet on who is going to win.  The concept just worked so well and got so many faces on the main program that they brought it back as an annual event, not having planned out who they wanted to give the rub of winning it to yet.  I expect to see Cesaro and some of the losers of the Intercontinental Championship ladder match to pull double duty by also entering the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.  I’d love to see Cesaro win it twice and recapture his momentum from last spring.  Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose have neither one ever gotten a signature Wrestlemania singles victory, so perhaps after failing to win the Intercontinental Championship, one of them jumps into this match and steals the show there.  However it shakes out, as the field stands now the match would be a huge disappointment.  Something else has to happen, either this Monday on Raw or at Wrestlemania itself to add some excitement for this match because right now there is none that I’ve noticed.  At Wrestlemania XXX, I thought we saw one of the best Battle Royals in WWE history and it will undoubtedly be a tough act to follow, but we’ll have to wait and see how it shakes out because this is definitely the least predictable match of the night and I don’t expect to even know who all of the participants are until the bell rings to start the match.

That’s all I’ve got for you with this overview of the card.  I have high expectations for some of the matches that I think people have already written off or are stubbornly refusing to give a chance like Lesnar vs. Reigns, but no matter what happens, I can say this with complete confidence – it will definitely be better than Wrestlemania 27.  Thanks for reading.

Written by Arron Hustead

March 21, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Posted in AJ Lee, Bad News Barrett, Batista, Bella Twins, Big Show, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, Corre, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Diva's Championship, Dolph Ziggler, Intercontinental Championship, John Cena, Ladder Match, Los Matadores, Luke Harper, Money in the Bank, Nexus, Paige, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ryback, Seth Rollins, Stardust, Sting, The Great Khali, The Usos, Triple H, Tyson Kidd, Umaga, Undertaker, World Heavyweight Championship, Wrestlemania, Wrestlemania 31, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship

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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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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.

Over the Limit Preview – Expect the Unexpected?

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We are just over four hours away from the WWE Pay Per View Over the Limit from Raleigh, North Carolina, tonight and as things currently stand, we are only aware of what a handful of the matches are going to be.  That is just one of the reasons why we should prepare to be surprised by what transpires tonight.

In the Main Event, John Laurinaitis must fight John Cena one-on-one with No Countouts and No Disqualifications and if Laurinaitis does not beat John Cena, he will be “terminated”.  And despite there being No Disqualifications, the WWE Board of Directors has ruled that any superstar interfering on GM Johnny’s behalf will be “terminated” as well.  You would think this means certain victory for Cena, right?  Don’t be so quick to write the General Manager off.

Let’s not forget that this is the same guy that used Kevin Nash last summer to push Triple H’s buttons and get the Board of Directors to put him in charge of the day-to-day operations of Raw in the first place.  John Laurinaitis is most definitely a coward and a blowhard, but he is also a manipulative bastard.  Expect for somebody not currently on the roster to help GM Johnny keep his job by beating Cena tonight.  If somebody not on the roster helps Johnny beat Cena, they don’t have a job to lose and thus have nothing to fear from the Board of Directors.  Of course, GM Johnny would then undoubtedly reward his savior with a fresh contract.

There are three possible names that come to mind that we might expect to come to Johnny’s aid.

The first name is Brock Lesnar.  Lesnar “quit” the WWE a few weeks back, but nobody is buying it.  We all know that’s kayfabe.  The question is whether this is going to be the moment for us to find out for certain that Lesnar has not left the WWE.  It would certainly make sense since Cena survived Lesnar’s beating at Extreme Rules and beat Lesnar in the only match he’s had in eight years.  That’s not something I can see Lesnar letting stand.  He’ll be in the ring with Cena again at some point before his time with the WWE is once again over.

The second name is the Big Show, and I know what you’re thinking – why would Big Show help Johnny after he was fired and humiliated on Raw this week?  If it came down to it, wouldn’t you help somebody you hated beat John Cena if you had it in your power to do so and it meant the difference between whether or not you got your job back?  Big Show just might.

The last name that comes to mind is Batista.  Rumors have been swirling since Wrestlemania that Batista was ready to come back to WWE and I’m sure Batista still believes he has some unfinished business with John Cena after their brutal rivalry two years ago that ended with John Cena hitting Batista with an Attitude Adjustment off of a car at Over the Limit 2010.

Any of the three are possible and just maybe we’ll get lucky and everybody will leave GM Johnny to suffer the fate he’s made for himself by being “The Undisputed King of Douchebags”.  And just maybe something unexpected will happen and completely blindside us, but if any of the three gentlemen in the above paragraphs turns out to be Laurinaitis’ savior, I won’t be the only one to have seen it coming.  I’m predicting that Laurinaitis wins with outside help, but it goes against what I feel is best for the product, which is getting GM Johnny off the air and keeping him there.

In the two World title matches, really anything could happen, but I think at least one of the titles is going to be changing hands tonight and I think it’ll be in the Fatal 4-Way with Alberto Del Rio crowned as the new champion.  And while I could easily see Daniel Bryan getting the biggest win of his career and becoming WWE Champion, I’m predicting that CM Punk’s six-month title reign will continue – at least for the time being.

In the World Tag Team title match, it’s tough to tell what’s coming.  Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger have been in contention for the Tag Team Titles since last fall, but they were never able to wrestle the titles away from Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne.  However, Air Boom is no more and perhaps Kingston and Truth will not prove to be as strong of a union for Vickie’s boys to overcome.  I’m predicting that

And in the Diva’s title match, Layla defends against Beth Phoenix and Layla is definitely outsized and I believe Beth is certainly a better wrestler, but Layla of course has a fighting chance and she did just capture the title in her return last month at Extreme Rules.  This seems like a coin toss to me, but I’m going to pick Layla to retain.

There is also the pre-show match-up between Zack Ryder and Kane that will be broadcast on YouTube and perhaps being on YouTube will give the self-proclaimed “Internet Champion” some kind of home field advantage for an upset victory, but I wouldn’t count on it.  I’m going to give the nod to the Big Red Machine, who continues to be one of the best and most underrated performers on the roster.

Those are the six matches that we know of, but that certainly is not going to be the entire card.  I expect some possible continuation of the war of words between Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes and United States Champion Santino Marella on Smackdown this week.  Perhaps we’ll see some sort of Champion vs. Champion match with Rhodes seeking vengeance after Marella shocked Rhodes with a roll-up victory on Friday.  We’re also likely to see one or two squash matches featuring the likes of Brodus Clay, Ryback, Lord Tensai or Antonio Cessaro.  But this is the WWE and anything can happen.  There is definitely some space on the show tonight for all of us to be surprised in one way or another.

Written by I Am a Real American

May 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Alberto Del Rio, Batista, Beth Phoenix, Big Show, Brock Lesnar, Brodus Clay, Cena vs. Laurinaitis, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Extreme Rules, Fatal 4-Way, Friday Night Smackdown, Intercontinental Championship, Jack Swagger, John Cena, John Laurenaitis, Kane, Kevin Nash, Kofi Kingston, Layla El, Lord Tensai, Monday Night Raw, Over the Limit, Pro Wrestling, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Santino Marella, Sheamus, United States Championship, Vickie Guerrero, World Heavyweight Championship, Wrestlemania, WWE, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, YouTube, Zack Ryder

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Raw Response – 05/07/12

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After last week’s surprise ending with John Laurinaitis getting his own hands dirty by attacking an injured John Cena with the help of Lord Tensai and Sakamoto, a lot of buzz was created about just what the encore would be this week on Raw.  Couple that with the anticipated fallout from Brock Lesnar’s attack on the Chief Operating Officer Triple H and Monday Night Raw this week was assured to reveal much about the near future of the WWE.  However, John Cena was not in the arena and appeared via satellite.  Neither Tripe H or Lesnar would make an appearance either, but Lesnar did send his “legal representation” in the form of Paul Heyman, which was a very pleasant surprise, but we’ll get to that later.

We started the night with John Laurinaitis explaining his actions, describing how upset he was when John Cena made fun of his voice and otherwise insulted him.  The Vice President of Talent Relations and General Manager of both Raw and Smackdown then proceeded to put the rest of the locker room on notice that anybody insulting or making fun of him would receive similar treatment to what Cena got the week before.  So, of course, WWE Champion CM Punk immediately comes out to the ring and starts insulting Laurinaitis, prompting the General Manager to place him in a match against Lord Tensai for later in the night.

In the first match of the night, Big Show would get a rematch for the Intercontinental Championship after Rhodes was able to recapture the title under dubious circumstances in their Table Match at Extreme Rules on April 29.  Shortly into the match, Rhodes would decide discretion is the better part of valor as he bailed out of the ring and grabbed his title and headed to the back.  Big Show was able to block his exit once, but after he threw him back into the ring, Cody ran right back out the other side and made good on his escape, purposefully getting himself counted out.  Eve Torres would then come out and chastise Big Show after Big Show had a brief altercation with John Laurinaitis before the match and made fun of his voice.  Eve then forced Big Show to apologize and reminded him that outside of the professional wrestling business, there isn’t much use for a 40-year old giant and she called him a freak.  This segment went a long way toward establishing Eve’s authority in her position as Laurinaitis’ Executive Assistant, publicly humbling Big Show in the process.

After winning the WWE Tag Team Championships last week along with R-Truth, Kofi Kingston would take on Dolph Ziggler.  And after these two men spend the previous two summers fighting with each over the Intercontinental and United States Championships, one could easily expect these two to put on a very entertaining contest.  And although it was too short, the match was well done, ending with Ziggler getting some outside help from Vickie Guerrero and Jack Swagger to pick up the victory, taking a huge step back in the right direction after spending previous weeks giving lackluster performances while being matched up against Brodus Clay.

Throughout the match, we were shown clips of A.W. (formerly Abraham Washington) back stage with his new clients Primo, Epico and Rosa and they were also joined by Mason Ryan, hinting at a possible relationship between A.W. and the big Welshman in the future.  A.W. appears to be making a move toward being a big-name manager like Vickie.  In an era where ringside managers are now few and far between, Vickie has enjoyed a good amount of success, which seems to have opened the doors for somebody like A.W. to give it a shot, but in this era, far removed from the time when legends like Bobby Heenan, Mr. Fuji and Jimmy Hart accompanied their men to the ring, we’ll have to wait and see just how much of a chance he really gets.

John Cena appeared via satellite for an interview with Michael Cole and Cena made it abundantly clear that even against doctor’s advice to not compete for the next couple of months, he would be at Over the Limit to kick John Laurinaitis’ ass.  Surely, Laurinaitis at least thinks he has some aces hidden up his sleeve because going into a match, even against a one-armed John Cena, it’s clear that Laurinaitis wouldn’t have a chance.  Expect heavy outside  interference from Tensai or a last second change of rules for the match to put things in the General Manager’s favor.  My guess would be that this ends up being some kind of Handicap Match with Laurinaitis teamming with Tensai and probably still falling short against Cena, who almost certainly will be overcoming the odds once again.  Cena is currently 2-0 at Over the Limit with victories over Batista and The Miz in “I Quit” Matches for the WWE Championship.

The new Diva’s Champion Layla teammed with Kelly Kelly to take on Natalya and Maxine and it was a foregone conclusion that Layla and Kelly would be winning this one in short order.  And sure enough, Layla finished Maxine off with her Neckbreaker, which she calls the Lay Out, in only a matter of minutes with Kelly’s only purpose in this tag match being to knock Natalya off the apron and thus prevent her from stopping Layla from finishing off Maxine.  It was announced earlier today on wwe.com that Layla will defend the Diva’s Championship against Beth Phoenix at Over the Limit on May 20.

We started off the second hour with a tag team contest, featuring Chris Jericho teaming with Alberto Del Rio to take on Randy Orton and the World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus.  Sheamus and Orton beat on their opponents for much of the match until Jericho and Del Rio would take advantage of Sheamus’ weakened shoulder, which was injured by multiple attacks from Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio on Smackdown last week.  The momentum would swing back and forth several more times before Del Rio would taste the RKO.  Sheamus then inadvertently hit his own partner Orton with the Brogue Kick and Jericho beat Sheamus with the Codebreaker.  This was easily the biggest win Jericho has had in quite some time, pinning the World Heavyweight Champion in a tough tag team match.  In the aftermath, Sheamus helped Orton back up only to feel the Viper’s wrath as he was hit with the RKO.  This match shows how much the title picture on both Raw and Smackdown is fluctuating.  There has been no mention of a Draft to shake up the rosters as of yet, so it appears that superstars are going to just be able to jump back and forth to challenge champions from either shows at any given moment.  Daniel Bryan is already representing Smackdown to challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship at Over the Limit and now the World Heavyweight Title match at Over the Limit has been changed to a Fatal 4-Way with Sheamus defending against Randy Orton and Chris Jericho in addition to Alberto Del Rio.  This tag teammatch was also easily the best of the night, but when you’re given over 20 minutes to work with while others are fortunate if they have 5 minutes of air time for their matches, it’s easy to have the best match of the night.

The Miz continued his downward slide as he was matched-up with Brodus Clay.  It wasn’t all bad for Miz as he delivered a decent promo on his way to the ring, telling Clay that if he wanted to see King Hippo dance, he’d play Mike Tyson’s Punchout.  Miz even looked very impressive in the early going. beating down the Funkasaurus numerous times and staying on the attack, but it wouldn’t last as Clay was able to finally overpower Miz and drive him into the mat and then follow up with his Running Headbutt.  Miz then got caught coming off the ropes with a T-Bone Suplex and Brodus finished Miz with his Big Splash for the victory.

Paul Heyman delivered a statement from Brock Lesnar, stating that he did not regret any of his actions, that he did exactly what he promised he would do by kicking ass and hurting people and he felt betrayed by the WWE Universe and as a result of the broken agreement he made with the company on the final Raw before Extreme Rules.  He claimed that Triple H was always jealous of him and that while Triple H was able to last nearly an hour in a Cell with the Undertaker, he could not last one minute in a fight with Lesnar.  The statement culminated with the revelation that Brock Lesnar had quit.

On his way to the ring for the final match of the night, CM Punk found out that his match with Lord Tensai would be changed to a Handicap Match and his opponents would be Lord Tensai as well as his challenger for the WWE Championship at Over the Limit, Daniel Bryan.  Punk would make a valiant effort throughout the match, but Tensai and Bryan pulled many pages out of the 2-on-1 advantage playbook and Tensai was eventually able to blind punk with the Green Mist Claw Slam combination and pin him for the victory.  After the match, Bryan applied the Yes Lock on Punk, getting his own jabs in and adding fuel to the fire for their title match at Over the Limit.  Tensai continues to be put over as he has now gained victories over both John Cena and CM Punk, albeit with help in both instances.  However, this certainly is not going to be enough to put a stop to Punk’s rebellious antics.  We are supposed to take away from this that making John Laurinaitis angry is a bad idea, but Laurinaitis continues to be a joke.  His delivery is horrible, he frequently mixes up his words and the only reason anybody cares to boo him is because they know he’s bad at his job.  There is a definite difference between getting booed because you are good at your job and getting booed because you are bad at your job and after all these years, that’s a distinction that WWE still needs to learn.

Written by I Am a Real American

May 7, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Posted in A-Train, A.W., Abraham Washington, Albert, Alberto Del Rio, Batista, Beth Phoenix, Big Show, Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes, Bobby Heenan, Brock Lesnar, Brodus Clay, Chief Operating Officer, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, Diva's Championship, Dolph Ziggler, Epico, Eve Torres, Extreme Rules, Fatal 4-Way, Friday Night Smackdown, Green Mist, Handicap Match, Intercontinental Championship, Jack Swagger, Jimmy Hart, John Cena, John Laurenaitis, Kelly Kelly, King Hippo, Kofi Kingston, Layla El, Lord Tensai, Mason Ryan, Maxine, Michael Cole, Mike Tyson, Monday Night Raw, Mr. Fuji, Natalya Neidhart, Over the Limit, Paul Heyman, Paul Heyman Return, Primo, Pro Wrestling, Punchout, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Raw Response, RKO, Rosa Mendes, Sakamoto, Sheamus, Tables Match, Tag Team, The Claw, The Miz, Triple H, Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, Vickie Guerrero, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, Yes Lock

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Raw Response – 04/23/12

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Start off the night with a surprise appearance by Edge and a great promo from the new Hall of Famer about how Cena getting punked by Brock Lesnar every week is a slap to the face off all of the greats who got into the business and stayed in the business because they love it – guys like Edge, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker.  Edge’s statement that he’s not asking Cena to beat Lesnar, but he’s telling him to makes me believe that Lesnar will beat Cena on Sunday at Extreme Rules and as a result Cena is going to have to face the wrath of Edge in the near future and something big is going to change this summer for Cena.

Edge telling Cena repeatedly that he needs to “Wake up” echoes the sentiments the fans have been throwing at Cena for the past five years that something needs to change in his character and his attitude.  The general consensus among the adult male fans is that John Cena’s character is stale, that they are tired of seeing him be the same every week, but now that greats like Roddy Piper, Mick Foley and Edge have come out on the air and called him out on his attitude in regards to how the fans feel about him and Kane fought Cena leading up to Wrestlemania over Cena’s inability to “Embrace the hate” make it more plausible to me that we might actually see Cena’s character undergo some changes.  Cena could be about to suffer an Attitude Adjustment of his own.  It is still entirely possible that the only change Cena will undergo is that he will shake off the hangover of losing to Rock at Wrestlemania and Hulk Up to destroy Lesnar at Extreme Rules, like he has done against every other heel that’s come along and dominated him on Raw for weeks only to have Cena “overcome the odds” yet again and if so, I think many would join me in the opinion that for Cena to overcome Brock Lesnar in the same way he has every other opposing heel opponent from The Great Khali in 2007 to Kane earlier this year would be a complete and utter waste of the storyline that they have spun around Cena for the past 4 months.  The time is ripe for a change.  The fans have been thirsting for it.  And a significant change in Cena’s character could launch the WWE into a new direction and lead the WWE out of the doldrums that some would say it has been in for the past few years.

The opening contest of the night held no real surprises as Chris Jericho fought Kofi Kingston, the only man Jericho has beaten one-on-one on television since his return.  So, of courseJerichowas going to beat him again.  However, the two still put on a great match with a solid finish.  Then, after the matchJerichopoints to his beatingKingstonas proof that he will win the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules.  Never mind that he beatKingstona couple of times before Wrestlemania and still ended up tapping out to the Anaconda Vice.  Never mind that this match withKingstonis the only televised matchJerichohas had since Wrestlemania.  In another segment, CM Punk received a liquor basket fromJericho, that he regifted to Josh Matthews.  However, Punk kept one bottle of Jack Daniels, which he promised to hand deliver back toJerichoat Extreme Rules this Sunday in his home town ofChicagoduring their Chicago Street Fight.  Later in the night, Jericho and Alex Riley would spy on CM Punk, who was apparently drinking the Jack Daniels himself, but it felt like there was definitely a possibility that it was a ruse when Jericho went to John Laurinaitis and had the General Manager force CM Punk to undergo a field sobriety test at the risk of being stripped of the title should he fail.  Punk did a masterful job of playacting, but as he was on the verge of surrendering the title toJericho, Punk dropped the ruse and pummelsJerichoand chased him off to the back.  As always, anything can happen in the WWE, but CM Punk still has the edge in my mind and while evidence would suggest thatJerichohas to turn the tables in their rivalry at some point, I’m still predicting that Punk once again retains his title and defeatsJerichoat Extreme Rules.

Lord Tensai would go on in the second match against R-Truth and everybody expected a squash match and that’s exactly what we got.  After Tensai was barely touched in his first few matches and then went on to beat John Cena in an Extreme Rules match last week inEngland, what chance did R-Truth have?  Tensai continues to look dominant, but this time he actually pins his opponent instead of the referee having to stop the match.  I love the use of the green mist, something we haven’t seen in the WWE since Tajiri left the company several years ago and it’s unique to see the mist used in a package with the Claw.  The Claw in and of itself has been retooled by Tensai to include a Slam, which is something I’d never seen done before.  Tensai is bringing a lot of unique combinations into his new character and is much more imposing and intimidating than he ever was as Albert or A-Train.  He also brings about a sense of mystery for an imposing heel character which is something WWE is going to need in the next few years with characters like Kane and the Undertaker inching closer to retirement.

And speaking of Kane, the Big Red Machine is as good now as he ever was.  His masked character has seemed to me like it had a cult following among the fans ever since he was forced to unmask almost ten years ago.  Once again donning the mask has helped breathe new life into a character that had lost a lot of the qualities that made him so imposing during his early feuds with the Undertaker and Stone Cold and his intense and destructive rivalry with Shane McMahon shortly after he lost his mask.  And Kane made it clear tonight that he has distanced himself from things he once cared about by refusing to rescue his “father” Paul Bearer from Randy Orton.  It appears that nothing will stand in the way of Kane’s path of destruction this time around.  However, I believe Orton is going to find some way to overcome the Big Red Machine in their Falls Count Anywhere match at Extreme Rules on Sunday.

I don’t see Big Show holding the Intercontinental title for long.  This is the second straight week that Big Show has teammed with The Great Khali and I can see them becoming a regular tag team like that Big Show has formed with Kane in the past.  It wouldn’t be a lasting union by any means, but Big Show has teammed with other big men in the past to form dominant tag teams in periods when the division has been in a lull, which it is definitely still in.  I see Cody Rhodes winning the Intercontinental Title back from Big Show either at Extreme Rules or in the near future and Big Show moving into regular tag team action along with Khali.  Doing so would allow both big men to compete and remain dominant every week without having to spend too much time moving around in the ring because they would be splitting ring time.  In the meantime, Big Show continues to dominate Cody asDel Rioruns out on Cody during their tag team match against the two giants tonight andRhodesfalls victim to Big Show’s Chokeslam.

A NEW Diva’s Champion was crowned tonight in Nikki Bella, giving both of the Bella Twins one title reign apiece.  They made a point of Beth approaching the record for the longest reign in the short history of the title, which tipped me off that she was probably going to drop the title either tonight or at the Pay Per View on Sunday.  With the title back on one of the Bellas, it opens the door for Kharma to make her return to the Diva’s division and get even with the Bellas for their remarks when she left last summer for her pregnancy, which she tragically miscarried.  It appears that Beth may not see in-ring action in the near future, so we could see Kelly Kelly beat another Bella and get another run with the Diva’s title or somebody like Natalya or Alicia Fox could step back into whatever dim spotlight the Diva’s division has to offer in the current era.

From Smackdown, Sheamus faced off against Mark Henry and we were surprised when Daniel Bryan was announced as the Special Guest Referee.  Bryan attempted multiple times to get Sheamus to attack him, which would have resulted in Sheamus being fired as a result of John Laurinaitis’ declaration that Sheamus was on permanent probation after he purposefully kicked referee Chad Patton a few weeks ago on Smackdown, but Sheamus held his temper in check tonight, but a distraction from Bryan allowed Henry to steamroll Sheamus and pin him and Bryan delivered a quick count. Bryanthen taunted Sheamus and threw his referee shirt at him and once that shirt was off,Bryanwas no longer serving as a referee and Sheamus charged him like an enraged bull, beat him down and threw him back in the ring where Henry was waiting.  Sheamus then kicked his way through Henry, butBryanwas then able to put Sheamus in the Yes Lock, getting in his licks before Extreme Rules, but we don’t yet know if Bryan or Sheamus will get the final edge going into Extreme Rules until after Smackdown this Friday night.  Either way it goes, I’m predicting that Sheamus retains the title at Extreme Rules.  It had been a long time since an individual won the Royal Rumble then went on to Wrestlemania and won the title before Sheamus pulled it off and I see him having a long term reign as champion before finally losing the title, perhaps to the winner of the Smackdown Money in the Bank ladder match sometime in the fall.

Zack Ryder and Santino Marella teammed up to take on the Tag Team Champions, Primo and Epico, and the champions continued to show how weak the division is by losing to another random pairing of singles wrestlers for the second week in a row with Primo falling victim to the Cobra and going down for the three count.  It was forgivable for them to lose to two giants like Big Show and The Great Khali, but if they are going to show any promise as tag team champions, they need to win matches like this against random pairings of mid-card singles talent.  The Usos and Primo and Epico are the only seemingly legitimate tag teams right now in the company and doing jobs to Santino & Ryder isn’t going to help bring any credibility back to the division or to the titles.

In the final match of the night, Brodus Clay and Hornswoggle took on Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger and the match itself was specifically sponsored by Taco Bell and Doritos’ loco tacos.  Apparently each individual match is open for advertising sponsorships now.  It’s good for Brodus to be in the ring with individuals like Swagger and Ziggler, but their match once again ended without a legitimate finish as Vickie Guerrero got into the ring and slapped Brodus in the face, causing a disqualification.  Vickie then got surrounded by Brodus, Hornswoggle and their back-up dancers and tried to joke her way out of it, only to be bitten on the backside by Hornswoggle, providing some laughless comedy.  It feels like a shameless waste of talent for Ziggler to only be on screen for a few minutes and to not even have a legitimate match when he has become such a great performer over the past two years.

And we closed the night with the official contract signing between Brock Lesnar and John Cena for what is obviously the Main Event of Extreme Rules.  After Edge’s confrontation of Cena at the beginning of the night and Lesnar flipping out on Josh Matthews earlier in the night, it was unclear of what would happen in the contract signing, but the intensity was definitely palpable for the last time these two would come face to face before Extreme Rules.  So when Cena’s music hit and Cena didn’t show up, I was looking for him to come through the crowd and attack Brock, but that didn’t happen.  Brock and Laurenaitis start looking around in confusion and then Brock grabs the mic and starts taunting Cena, and I start think Cena’s going to show up with a new look, maybe a new gimmick or something.  Brock then starts talking about making some changes to the match and about how unhappy he is about the way things have been going and suggests Laurenaitis make some business changes before he will sign the contract for the match at Extreme Rules.  Brock then starts talking about how he’s an “enterprise” and no longer a “naive little farm boy” and how the company needs him, but he doesn’t need them.  Brock then tells Laurenaitis that all decisions regarding him and the WWE have to be run by him first and he demands the use of Vince McMahon’s private jet to chauffer him to and from Monday Night Raw every week and I’m wondering where all of this is going and why Cena isn’t out there yet and Brock just keeps talking down about the company and Laurenaitis and how he’s going to do what he wants and how he doesn’t care what any of the people think or say about him.  Laurenaitis agreed to Brock’s terms and Brock signs the contract and now Cena finally shows up, but there is no smile on his face, no words for the camera, no salute.  Cena just goes into the ring without saying a word and he’s got a steel chain in his hand, like the one he used to carry around when he was calling himself the Doctor of Thuganomics, giving us another indication that changes may be in the works for Cena.  Cena stands around and doesn’t sign the contract, so Brock pics up the mic and taunts him some more and tells Cena that he’s scared of Brock.  Cena then signs the contract and throws it at Brock, but the punches don’t start flying.  Brock then tips the table over, but still no punches are thrown.  Brock then leaves without any physical confrontation, which was unexpected.  The intensity was definitely there, but I think the contract segment wore on for too long and didn’t really add anything of value to their match at Extreme Rules.  I guess what we’re supposed to take away from tonight is a feeling that Cena might actually be scared of Brock, but I’m not buying it.  An otherwise very good episode of Raw ended with a big of a letdown in my opinion.

Written by I Am a Real American

April 23, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Posted in 2-out-of-3 Falls, A-Train, Albert, Alberto Del Rio, Alex Riley, Bella Twins, Beth Phoenix, Big Show, Brie Bella, Brock Lesnar, Brodus Clay, Cena needs to wake up, Chicago Street Fight, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Contract Signing, Daniel Bryan, Diva's Championship, Doctor of Thuganomics, Dolph Ziggler, Edge, Extreme Rules, Falls Count Anywhere, Green Mist, Guest Referee, Hall of Fame, Hornswoggle, Intercontinental Championship, Jack Swagger, John Cena, John Laurenaitis, Kane, Kane vs. Orton, Kelly Kelly, Kharma, Kofi Kingston, Lesnar vs. Cena, Lord Tensai, Mark Henry, Mick Foley, Monday Night Raw, Nikki Bella, Primo & Epico, Pro Wrestling, Punk vs. Jericho, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Raw Response, Roddy Piper, Santino Marella, Shane McMahon, Shawn Michaels, Sheamus, Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan, Special Referee, Tag Team, Tajiri, The Claw, The Great Khali, Undertaker, Vince McMahon, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, Yes Lock, Zack Ryder

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