This show, while not the biggest of the year, certainly didnt look bad on paper – Bryan/Punk, the four-way, and presumably lots of Cena/Ace shenanigans. Nobody can interfere, so of course we all want to know, who will interfere in their match? Lets find out.
I thought opening the show with the Battle Royal joined in progress was a nifty way to go. Using a BR to fill out a non-existent card was handy too. I was in and out of the room for this so for the first half of the match I thought Regal was Swagger. I forgot he works in a singlet. Nice that the crowd was into him too. Glad Tyson Kidd got some shine, and Titus and Young looked good as well. At first I was kind of amused that Christian had his big return match stuck in a jobbers BR, but then I realised it was his match to win and get a singles match on PPV to re-establish him. Fun finish.
Two Medium Sized Black Guys vs DolphSwag turned out to be a HELL of a tag match. I really enjoyed it a hell of a lot, commentary notwithstanding. I’m not usually someone bothered by the Vickie jokes or stuff like that, but when she came out in that dress I thought she looked pretty good, and then we’re subjected to 15 minutes of King’s baseless demeaning and HE WOULD NOT SHUT UP ABOUT IT. If it was just an aside then fine, but he said nothing else the entire match but Vickie jokes and “NAVEL!” over and over. Really pissed me off and I usually like King.
ANYWAY, the match itself was really good. Anytime Kofi and Swags lock up is a win in my book, I’ll never forget 2010. Loved how much time they got and how the match developed, Truth making the first hot tag before being taken over again, and the heels looked good on offense. I LOVED the moment where Dolph got surprisingly rolled up and he jumped up and immdiately went around by way of the babyface corner, to prevent any attempt at a tag. Really great detail. Loved the entire hot tag sequence as well – the big ass Tornado DDT to lead into it, Dolph hopping the ropes and Kofi springboarding and immediately hitting him all the way across the ring. LOVED the way he did the crossbody, and really I loved the entire stretch and the finish. Really great tag team match.
WWE makes an angle out of confiscating signs. Arent we wacky and ironic?
Women! Beth! Layla! So, so pumped. I really liked the early moments where Layla does her MOVEZ, before Beth just goes BAM, bad knee motherf*cker. I thought Beth working the knee was pretty good stuff, the work was a lot nastier than you usually see from the girls, and I noticed they also did other simple things like actually punching each other in the face that made it stand out from other girls matches. Layla sold well and I liked the idea of her instinctively going for dropkicks and stuff whenever she got an opening and then paying for it with pain. Liked the big military press and semi-DDT counter. And I SCREAMED at the finish – Layla fighting in the corner and going for the DIAMOND DUST but Beth counters it right into GLAM SLAM BITCHES but Layla ROLLS HER UP only to be rolled up herself by her tights. Awesome sequence. And then another BAM LAYOUT for the win. I’m torn between wanting her to have more robust finishes and enjoying her using the Layout as an RKO-like “hit it out of nowhere” flash finisher. Fun times, and I can only hope they have more matches.
Jericho and Orton converse. The end.
The World Title Four Way RULED. Really enjoyed the hell out of it. Liked the opening where Sheamus and Orton wanted to continue their match and kept getting interrupted by the heels. Jericho and ADR are the typical “team up until we argue” heels, beating on Orton and keeping Sheamus on the outside, which I particularly liked in shades of Drew in the 7/1/11 SD four way. I also liked the moment where Alberto gave an Almighty KICK to Sheamus’ arm and he just bangs the ground all “F*ck! Not this sh*t again!” And on that, it occurred to me later on that nobody really worked Sheamus’ arm after that point, and I really like that – a four way was too chaotic for anyone to realise there was an opening on Sheamus’ arm, they were all too busy just surviving and keeping on offense. Sheamus was kind of lucky in that regard since he got away with the injury this time. He was at a disadvantage going in as the champ in a four way, but in the end circumstances helped him avoid a potentially dangerous situation that he’d been in previously in singles matches, where its impossible to hide an injury.
Anyway, another thing I really dig is Tower of Doom spots, especially when they play off the TOD. In this case, teasing it and then swerving with Sheamus breaking it up and making his comeback instead. Loved Alberto SAVING HIMSELF FROM THE ALBERTO SPLAT only to get the Chest Wallops before Jericho SPRINGBOARDS to break it up. Great spot. Pretty much everything from then on was great – this was an awesome stretch with a billion spots and turns. I was pretty damn confident Sheamus was winning, but there were various times during the finish where I legit fell for nearfalls from Alberto, Orton and even Jericho – that rollup right at the end was amazing. Just awesome stuff. I’m glad they’re keeping on with Sheamus, I find myself digging him more and more every week since Mania and there’s more good stuff to come.
I liked the cute backstage bit to set up Christian facing Cody instead. Most of all because I GET BABYFACE CHRISTIAN BACK!
Man, poor Miz. Every time he appears now I can just C+P that phrase, along with some variation of “How far has he fallen?” They had their Miz/Brodus match and it was fine. Did enjoy the Super Brodus Suplex though.
Liked Cody getting a little promo here. And BABYFACE WORKER CHRISTIAN BITCHES! I enjoyed that, and enjoyed this immensely as, in my mind, a rematch of their IC Title Tournament Semi Final from May 2010. Especially with Cody busting out the MOONSAULT and all of the nifty Christian counter spots. Really liked the stuff in the corner playing off all of Christian’s corner offense, as well as them surprisingly busting out some serious punching. Also Cody sold the superplex like a motherf*cker. Finish was a bit abrupt but whatever, fun match. Already looking forward to the Smackdown rematch. I just hope this means bigger and better things for Cody going forward, and not something awful like a cooling off or a move to Raw.
Punk speaking backstage was notable only for AJ EYE F*CKING HIM. Shades of Tamina. AJ gets better by the week.
WOAH HOLY BLIPPING MOTHER OF METHUSELAH, BRYAN VS PUNK!
THAT WAS AWESOME.
First of all, its been said ad nauseum already by everyone, including both guys themselves and commentary, but straight up, how awesome is it that CM Punk is defending the WWE Title against Bryan Danielson in even the semi-main of a WWE PPV? See folks, things dont always go wrong. You could see the glee on their faces before the match that they had the opportunity to do this, and man, did they ever do some WORK here.
Too much stuff to even go into. The early leg kick off, and Punk immediately going after the leg. Bryan flipping out of the corner only to be KICKED TO DEATH. Bryan ELBOWING THE HOLY F*CK out of leg work on the ground. Bryan going crazy on Punk’s injured ribs and busting out the Abdominal Stretch. The KNEES Bryan was throwing on the ground to Punk’s back. LOVED the dueling surfboard spots – Punk does a modified one on Bryan’s knee to set up the CURBSTOMP, Bryan Style, and later Bryan comes back with his own surfboard into the wicked Dragon Sleeper variation. Punk doing the shinbreaker and TOSSING Bryan to the floor in one movement. Bryan hitting the Chest Kicks, he screams, he swings, and BAM FIGURE FOUR! The slap battle in the hold was awesome fun. Continuing the indy tribute by Punk SPRINGBOARDING INTO THE NIGEL LARIAT!
The stretch was just amazing. Going from GTS to rollup to KICK OF DEATH and the awesome nearfall. Punk hooking the leg on the ropes for another go was an awesome detail. Hitting the big Macho Man Elbow on the anniversary was cool as hell. Bryan doing the corner bump into Punk FINALLY hitting the running knee only to be countered into YES LOCK! Punk rolling him up into the pinfall and then tapping out afterwards was a genius finish, loved it. Bryan sold it fantastically as well. Everything is awesome here, they had what, 25 minutes or something and they went out there and had the best ROH/WWE hybrid match ever, AND perfectly set up more matches with a great finish. So much freaking awesome.
Its interesting watching Camacho find his feet as the world’s biggest jobber. It was actually weird seeing Ryback get knocked down, even 2-on-1. But he came back strong with that awesome DEADLIFT POWERBOMB. Keep that for sure. Fun enough buffer match.
Cena vs Ace. Honestly not sure whether I loved or hated this match. On the one hand, it was fun watching Ace take a beating like a goof, and Cena to his credit did a great job of working such an extended beating and keeping it engaging the whole way through. A fun enough light-hearted squash. And Michael Cole, honest to God, made me laugh more than he ever has in his life when Cena grabbed the water bottles and Cole deadpanned “If Johnny drinks three bottles of water he’s going to cramp up.”
But man, when they did that STF spot they totally lost me. Sitting there watching Ace, a total buffoon in a suit, getting his ass destroyed by Cena for at least 10 minutes, and then he gets put in the STF and survives the hold for ten seconds, twice? What the f*ck yo? When you compare it to the bunch of actual wrestlers who tap to it straight away – even notable cases like Orton in the I Quit match – and almost all of them would tap within 20 seconds, it makes no sense and gives Ace superhuman strength that he does not have. Ace shouldnt have lasted TWO seconds in the STF, let alone twenty. Throwing logic out the window for that cute mic segment really took me out of the entire match, if I’m honest. And its a shame because otherwise it was a fun romp considering.
Having said that, the finish was well done even though Stevie Wonder and his blind mother saw it coming. The best part about it was, of course, the Big Show himself. He sold this entire thing. He grabbed Ace by the scruff of his Under Armour and led him back to his rightful doom. In the ring Ace desperately pleads with Big Show for mercy, and you have to assume he promised to give his job back because Show’s whole face changed, and in that split second he made the decision to go for it – BAM. He wasnt laughing and glad-handing with Ace like it was their plan all along, like they were suddenly BFF, like it was Genius Heel Swerve #93. Show hasnt forgotten anything, Ace is still the motherf*cker who made him beg and cry like a girl on TV. But just like he did on Raw, he’s going to do whatever it takes to save his job. If that means helping this motherf*cker win a match and screwing Cena, so be it. If the dark side gives him his livelihood, he’s on the dark side now.
I’m really excited about where they all go on Raw from here, I’m stupidly looking forward to Cena/Show matches, and that really was a thoroughly enjoyable show.