Woe betide anyone who missed this show. We go in with a bare bones card and an intriguing main event angle, and what do we come out with? A seriously great undercard, some crazy main event work from both brands and, somehow, the main event angle is even more intriguing than before.
Huh, a guy from Tool, how about that. I like doing something like this which makes it seem a bit more special than the average non-Mania PPV. Then they manage to throw together ANOTHER great Cena-Punk angle video. I also really like the GIANT stage set up.
Yay, a 6-man! Considering the situation and the lack of build for any of these Raw singles matches, this is the best idea ever. They REALLY need to use 6-mans more as a tool to extend feuds and not have to have guys wrestling Even Steven matches every week. A few years ago it felt like every second Raw was headlined by some large combination of guys in a tag. Need more.
And hey, this sounds cool as hell; Miz, Truth and Alberto is one giant group of Heel, and Rey, Kofi and Morrison is one hell of a flippy babyface team. Ahah, the return of the giant WM AWESOME! Loved Truth going to an even higher level of insane rambling with this one; “you know what else starts with C? …CONSPIRACY!” had me rolling. He’s the goofiest dude in the history of the universe, and he just nails it every single time.
Anyway, this was a really great match. Kofi with the crazy DOUBLE-PUMP SPRINGBOARD CROSSBODY had me screaming. God I love that guy. Loved the segments with Morrison selling, then Kofi’s tag, into finally Rey getting the CA hot tag for the finish. Kofi doing ANOTHER crazy CROSSBODY outside on Miz ruled, how he nailed that sh*t from such a height in such a small space without somebody dying I dont know. Morrison is still completely mental. And Rey gets the feel-good babyface win going into his TV title match. Perfect as an opener, and just great stuff from everyone.
Great Backstage work here. Ace being smarmy, gravelly Ace, Punk not giving a sh*t about this douchebag, and the “Executive of-” “Executive Vice President of…” bit was awesome. I’ve changed my mind, Ace is a great douchey heel. His wwe.com video was incredible. THEN the return of STEPH had me marking out (I’m a fan, sue me), and “I know where that hand has been” was the absolute money shot, no pun.
If WWE TV was literally nothing other than Mark Henry video packages on a loop for 4 hours every week…I’d watch. Mark Henry & WWE Production is just about the second-best tag team in the company at this point. So freaking hyped for this.
And WOW did it ever deliver. What a freaking awesome big man battle. These guys just BEAT THE SH*T OUT OF EACH OTHER. So awesome. Henry TOSSING Sheamus around like a cruiser early. Henry doing his Pope through-the-ropes thing and he freaking NAILED the guy, and still following up with a massive punch for good measure. Sheamus using STRENGTH to get out of the backbreaker like a good big babyface should. I also really love Sheamus’ Ten Chest Wallops thing in the ropes. And what a great finish. Sheamus hits the Kick, they go outside but POSTED, and then BAMTHROUGHTHEBARRICADEBITCHES! Great spot, especially the way they shot it from behind. Henry looks like a total badass and Sheamus showed some babyface fire by almost beating the count. One of the best countout finishes I’ve seen in forever, neither guy lost a thing from it, there’s still an easy rematch, and hell, I want to see it. I had high hopes for this and they still exceeded them, awesome work. F*ck whoever says Mark Henry cant work. F*ck them. Greatest Man in the Entire Universe retains in style.
So, Cee Lo. He seems to be wearing a dress. A sparkly dress. Sure. I like his songs but he’s not the best live concert in a wrestling aisle guy in the world. Plus, stopping for the crowd to sing is embarrassing when they dont react at all. On the plus side, I like the songs, some heel women got a paycheck, and he was mercifully short. A Kid Rock-level disaster this was not. So I’m fine.
WOMEN. In other words, the actual best tag team in the company at this point. I swear, with Nattie not in pink I legit couldnt tell which NatBeth was which from far away. Thankfully they zoomed in, all the way to Beth’s retro 2007 skirt outfit! I marked, even though she looks ten times better in pants. Anyway, THIS MATCH RULED. Best women’s match in forever, and I just saw a really good one on the TNA PPV. Kelly Kelly going NUTS from the opening bell with some babyface fire was awesome. Turn heel on me and call me a bimbo and I will KICK YOUR ASS MOTHERF*CKER. Or at least, attempt to. However, Beth Phoenix. Beth going back to her monster heel best was great, throwing Kelly around like a motherf*cker. Marked aloud for the UMAGA RUNNING CORNER BUTT THING. Loved the badass backbreaker into the neckbreaker, as well as the corner spot with the head-snap. Then Kelly fires the hell up with her comeback, stomping the crap out of Beth, she goes for the big handspring thingy but WOAHGLAMSLAM until WOAHROLLUPBITCHES! What an incredible finish, I legit thought she was done for and I marked like a little girl. This totally ruled; Beth is great, and huge props to Kelly, she took some brutal bumps in this, worked her ass off, and really made the finish work with her desperate Fire and then selling the Glam Slam as the finish. Wonderful pro wrestling.
Steph out of Cena’s lockeroom. CONSPIRACY.
Speaking of the C-O-N, TRUTH. OH GOD JIMMY HART. You saw where they were going as soon as you saw him, and they made you wait and wait, and finally BAM, “LITTLE JIMMY?” Nothing but net. I think I’m still laughing. Truth is beyond human description.
Bryan vs Barrett freaking RULED. Bryan always delivers on PPV (its a shame its his first chance since Survivor Series) and these guys really work well together. Enjoyed the indy stretch-towards-pin spot, as well as the surfboard stomp. Bryan RUNNING right into the Black Hole Slam ruled. I enjoy Barrett’s expanding offense, the slingshot backbreaker and the clinched knees in the ropes were great fun. Bryan took a BRUTAL bump off the apron from the latter. Then he recovered with that wicked flying knee. The Wasteland into the guillotine into the LeBell Lock was awesome. Should have been the finish. As it was the crotched Lariat into the finish was cool too. I really hated Bryan losing, but the way they sold the win as an “upset” and put Bryan over so strongly I ended up OK. In any case, I’m a fan of clean heel wins, and this was a HELL of a match.
Now, I didnt want to dwell on commentary today, but one thing I really noticed is that another downside to Cole being Cole is that he brings everyone around him down to his bickering level. Like, even when he’s making a sober, neutral point Lawler and Booker feel the need to argue or disagree anyway, because he’s Cole and they assume he MUST be talking sh*t even though he isnt. At the start of this match Cole was relaying the Nexus/Bryan/Wade history and the fact that Bryan actually came back at last year’s Summerslam, and King was all “Who gives a f*ck?! lololol Cole u suk” when Cole was actually just being serious and explaining the history between them.
So anyway, this entire undercard has been great. Not one bad match. Nothing even close to bad, actually. This show rules so far.
And as I say that, here’s Christian to bring me down. God I am going to be Hatin’ Life if he wins. WOAH, EDGE! Was not expecting that. He was extremely over, he’s going to be useful going forward as a youngish guy to wheel out for a pop twice a year. His hair is shortish again, and he’s noticeably thinner in the face. Anywho, this is why Russo sucks. As soon as Edge came out as Christian’s best friend I knew he’d be turning babyface on him here, with an option for coming out and SWERVING Orton for the finish later on. But in this particular case, it actually makes sense (the babyface turn bit). Edge is a babyface, he helped babyface Christian realise his dream and win the WHC, and now, instead of being the honourable babyface champion/challenger Edge left him as, he’s become a douchebag, whiny, chickensh*t heel. F*ck that. I’d dump that motherf*cker too. Its not often I’m siding with Edge in an angle, but I am just so sick of Christian as the Smackdown Miz. Lose and go away already. So point is, I actually liked this development. For the moment, swerve pending.
And woah, Christian vs Orton was AMAZING. Awesome gimmick match, probably their second-best match behind OTL. They had a hell of a lot of time, they still continued their storyline of Counterz and Moar Counterz and worked them seamlessly into some brutal and creative weapons spots. I liked how Orton started the match circling around Christian, just waiting to KILL this f*cker. Loved ANOTHER counter in the ropes-slap-ddt series. Enjoyed the move into the crowd, as well as Orton going nutso on the Ten Punches. I wonder when it was exactly that kendo sticks replaced garbage cans as the standard WWE gimmick match weapon. Anyway, Christian choking Orton with the end of the stick was gruesome. The insanely close nearfall Orton got off a ROLLUP in this hardcore match RULED. I mark for that sh*t. I lost track of the amount of awesome moves and Counterz in this match. And Christian teases an RKO on the Announce Table of Revenge, and then FINALLY Orton RKOs somebody THROUGH THE TABLE! It only took about five tries. Hilarious, he must have been so relieved.
Then BAM Killswitch and BAM KICKOUT! That was great, and I especially loved how afterwards they called back to that as the moment things fell apart for Christian; he felt f*cked going in, but he survived the whole match and actually hit the Killswitch…and Orton kicked out. Now he’s really f*cked. Christian sold as much at this point, he was bewildered as to what to do, and in the end he came up with…spitting at Orton again. Bad Decision. Orton thinks “OK, officially going to KILL THIS F*CKER” and he goes completely insane; it worked for Christian last match, but now with the stip, Orton is free to insane all he wants. Perfect storyline payoff. I liked the cavalcade of furniture throwing, the powerslam through the table, getting kendo stick revenge, the garbage can DDT, and even some dreaded BLOOD to cap it all off. Also loved Christian teasing one final hope spot with the stick but he jumps and BAMRKOONTHESTAIRS! The last of a thousand creative Counterz spots worked in with the gimmicks, what a beautifully perfect way to end this feud.
I am a huge, HUGE fan of ultimate babyface revenge to end the blow off. I LOVED this finish. I suppose I was also just relieved as hell that Orton actually just won and there were no SWERVE shenanigans with Edge or anything. It was more than the right time to blow this off for good, Orton gets his rightful win, and you know what, after being destroyed before the match by Edge, Christian actually fought like a motherf*cker and came off looking as good as anyone can look after losing a blow off that decisively. Full credit to these guys, boring feud or not, they’ve now had five awesome matches out of five, with some of the most wonderfully creative counterz and in-ring storytelling-through-work since Kofi and Swagger. From RANDY ORTON. Big props to that guy’s 2011, swear to God. And now, finally, we can all move on with our lives. Hopefully move on to SOMEBODY GON’ GET THEIR ASS KICKED. Fingers crossed.
And this is all before we’ve even got to the one match of a ‘one match card’. Lordy.
Steph and Hunter: C..O..N..Spiracy! But honestly, the great thing about this whole angle is that today they’ve done all the backstage teases with Punk and Ace heat, Punk and Steph heat, Steph and Cena, Steph and Hunter…and you still have NO IDEA who is winning, if anyone is turning, who is turning, or who they turn on.
I’m still not tired of this video. Mainly because the POP when Punk wins at MITB is one of those I can watch over and over and over again. Its been said, but Punk looks like a total superstar coming out now, especially to a crowd like this which is going to love him. I cant be the only one who picked up on Booker’s “Punk is Stone Cold bad” right? I loved Cena coming out, first talking into the camera about circling the concourse of the arena when he broke in in his “gimmicks” (or whatever it was), and then WALKING down to the ring. Serious business, this is. In any case, the heat for this RULES. Its not MITB, hometown heat, but its definitely smark crowd, Cena match heat. So f*cking psyched.
I love the way they work matches, starting off slow with legit hold trading and feeling each other out. I also liked how much sense it made given there’s so much “pressure” on both men and they’re too scared of making a mistake. Great commentary work on that point, if not any other. Also enjoyed the crowd being their usual selves, bringing the heat and the “Fruity Pebbles” and the un-self-aware “You Cant Wrestle” in the middle of hold trading, which is always great value. They really built well, enjoyed Cena using STRENGTH to hit the Emerald Flowsion out of the Koji Clutch, and then Cena started with the shoulderblocks and SH*T WAS ON. The few minutes from that point where they countered EVERYTHING, going from shoulder block to kick to knee attempt to 5KS attempt to knee to bulldog attempt to spinny slam to 5KS attempt to STF to keylock to STF to Anaconda Vice to crossface (yes, I wrote it all out) was the most incredible stretch of moves and counters ever. Then Punk hits the big babyface TOPE on Cena and visibly bangs his head, we get the break and the countout tease and Hunter resets the match for Act II. See, THAT is how you do it, not that WM27 ‘pretend its an actual countout’ bullsh*t.
Anyway, second half. We finally got around to some YayBoo strike exchanges, and I really liked how they mixed it up with punches, kicks and chops and different angles, just for something extra. Into the WOAHDROPKICK! I laughed, even the announcers laughed, what a cool dropkick. Shades of Orton. Straight into Cena’s JACKKNIFE COVER and Punk actually BRIDGING Cena into the big Kick. This match flat out owns at this point. Loved Cena’s Stinger Splash-powerslam combo. Then Punk counters with the LEAPING KNEE and the diving bulldog to FINALLY complete his sequence. I love move completion. Then a springboard into the STF with an awesome struggle, into BAMFU! KICKOUT! Ohnoez, arguing with Referee Hunter Hemlsley, but actually I like that they did the expected “both argue with ref” spots but neither actually led to anyone getting screwed, thankfully. GTS! KICKOUT! Really loved that as a callback to Punk pinning Cena ‘clean’ with the GTS last match. MACHO MAN ELBOW! Loved everyone in the crowd marking out for it. Loved the final, desperate strike exchange, ending in Punk hitting another BRUTAL KNEE on the ropes and the GTS for the…pin.
The finish, as it happened, was awfully deflating because it was that obvious that absolutely everyone expected the decision to be reversed and the match restarted. And it just…wasnt. So there was no pop, just a gradual “..ohh…I guess he won then”, which made for disappointing viewing. Maybe a more subtle ‘foot under the ropes’ would have worked better. But whatever, its a minor complaint because the match was freaking tremendous and I loved every second of it before that point. Incredible work from both guys, just masterful.
Loved the tease when Punk went back in and Hunter stuck his hand out. Every single person had to be thinking “Pedigree”, and they teased us and teased us and in the end…Hunter walked away. But OHSH*TKEVINNASH?!?! What. The. Jesus. Great powerbomb though. If there is anything more left-field than that, I’d like to hear it.
But who cares about that because ALBERTO DEL RIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
ALBERTO! YES! WOO! FINALLY. He gets revenge for the cash-in failure of MITB by waiting until Punk is legit destroyed and FINALLY WINS THE WORLD TITLE DAMN IT. WOO! So after all these weeks of Cena vs Punk and asking on TV which one of them will be Undisputed Champion at the end of it, it turns out, its ALBERTO. This is a whole new ball game right here.
I love, love, LOVE, LOVE the way they did this. We went in not knowing what was going to happen, only a million hypothetical scenarios of who would turn on who, and we end up with even more questions than we had going in. Was the finish a genuine mistake by Hunter? Did he know about Nash? Did he organise it? Did Stephanie? Did Ace? Did Vince? Did Alberto do it himself to ensure cash-in completion and Hunter really had no idea? Or was Alberto under Hunter’s orders, like he was Vince’s the month before? Or did he just take advantage of the situation? Will Nash be aligned with Alberto going forward? Aligned with Hunter? Will Hunter remain a babyface for long? Is he really aloof or secretly in on it? What is Stephanie’s role in all this? What is Ace’s role? How pissed is Cena going to be about the call? How pissed will PUNK be? Will he see through Hunter? Or falsely accuse him when he’s innocent?
All this, and more. One of the greatest things about this feud is that they’ve managed to keep it unpredictable at every turn. Everyone wondered what would happen at MITB. Everyone wondered what would happen on Raw the next night. Everyone wondered how Punk would explain his return. Everyone wondered what would happen at Summerslam. And now everyone will be wondering what will happen on Raw. In the lightning-fast pace of weekly Raws and too-frequent PPVs, managing to constantly remain this interesting and unpredictable without resorting to Russo Swerves is a great achievement. I just love this angle, everybody is awesome, Raw has been consistently great and I’m always left with a sense of a cliffhanger and excitement to come next week, an excitement which we often lose in an age where we always seem to know where the booking is headed. Cannot thumbs up this angle enough.
Seriously, this entire show was great. No match even in the same universe as bad. Great 6-man opener, great giant battle, great women’s match, great Bryan workrate match, great Orton/Christian blowoff, and great Cena/Punk main event and great closing angle. If you havent actually watched the show, go, now, immediately, and watch it. I’ll wait.
WWE have been on the most amazing roll lately in terms of PPV quality – Mania is really the only semi-blip since Survivor Series (a “blip” with four great matches). Not to mention the run of quality of Raw of the past three months or so, and the quality of this main event angle. I really love wrestling sometimes.