Cubed Circle Newsletter – Road to Night of Champions 2013
It’s hard to believe, but we have made it to 100 issues, two years of senseless meandering, and the newsletter is still chugging along — amazing! The newsletter started off as an obscure little blog, but now I am proud to say that it has matured…into an even more obscure newsletter. Staying strong with the spirit of the newsletter (no technical issues this week, sorry), I have unintentionally mislead you once again faithful reader, and we will not be covering the New Japan iPPVs in this issue. Time simply didn’t work out as expected, but then again it never does. Still we have a lot for you this week as we look at Daniel Bryan’s Road to Night of Champions and the role of heel authority figures in modern wrestling, a Night of Champions preview, Wrestle-1, a lackluster edition of NXT, the RAW Night of Champions go-home show, the SmackDown go-home show, ratings, a great edition of iMPACT and more!
As many of you reading this will already know, I am taking somewhat of a hiatus from the newsletter in order to concentrate on exams. When I first received my schedule I considered putting the entire newsletter on hold until November, but thanks to people like Bryan Rose and Ben Carass things should be more than fine in the interim. There will most likely be very few main news segments and ratings until early November at the earliest however. I may pitch in a bit next week, and some of the weeks in between, but most of the content is going to be coming your way courtesy of Ben — who hopefully won’t make the regular RAW and PPV reports look too thrown together in comparison. Luckily for you, you will have the fortune/misfortune of reading the intros, which will still be all mine from now and until mid November. I would also like to thank a lot of the regular readers for all of their great feedback over the last couple years — your support is very much appreciated. And it is with that that I hope you enjoy the newsletter and have a great week!
–Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor
Daniel Bryan’s Road to Night of Champions — Warm, Could be Hotter?
In the 1st edition of the newsletter back in 2011 the cover story was the second part of an on-going series that I was writing at the time, ‘CM Punk: Wrestling’s Hottest Angle Gone Cold’. Looking back on what the newsletter has grown from, and how many of my views and opinions have changed over the past couple of years, it was rather simple, but many of the points that I brought up in that 2011 series in regard to WWE booking continue to hold water I believe. That series was one covering one of the hottest angles that we had seen in quite some time and many of the creative criticisms and common issues still apply today; they apply to a rise of a similar nature to Punk’s 2011 ascension — Daniel Bryan in 2013.
The ‘Wrestling’s Hottest Angle Gone Cold’ series came at a time when the WWE had booked a near perfect three week run of hot TV, and followed it with one of the best pay-per-views in their history in the form of Money in the Bank 2011. Those three weeks of TV leading up to that show were built around Punk’s worked shoot promo from Las Vegas, which sparked the imagination of many, and in hindsight, even with the debacle that was to follow, still managed to pretty much define his career by turning him into one of the top stars in the company. While in that way the 2011 Punk angle was successful, at
the end it still petered off into obscurity when they kept Punk off of TV for the grand total of a couple of weeks. They also ended up incorporating Kevin Nash, John Laurinaitis and the McMahons into the angle, which didn’t help matters. In 2011 this was frustrating, as the product both before and after that Punk run was pretty cold and was apart of a low period creatively for the company.
The demise of that hot run that lasted all of a few weeks was the result of many a creative issue. For one, the lack of patience when building to payoffs was a killer, as Punk should have never returned as early as he did. There is no question that a lack of pacing has been a major issue for the WWE in the past, but what was a far bigger issue for the angle during the period was a warped sense of priorities that still pervades the creative environment today. In 2011 it was not the Punk angle that was the main focus of creative; no, in fact it was more of a distraction from what the company viewed as the money angles at the time — Vince relinquishing power to Triple H, Kevin Nash, Alberto Del Rio as an Hispanic star, John Laurinaitis and so on.
It is this duality between rushed storytelling and angles such as the 2011 McMahon series and Nash segments, which were set into place months ahead to the detriment of other angles that happened to catch fire, that I find so strange. What is perhaps even more peculiar is how these angles and ideas, like the McMahon angle in 2011 or the Del Rio push, were seemingly thrown out at random and forgotten about months later regardless. As an example, Punk was given the title when the main goal was to put it on Del Rio at a RAW taping in Mexico, something that wasn’t even a contributing factor by the time that the taping rolled around in October.
When looking at the current WWE direction, and how the Daniel Bryan angle will play into Night of Champions, the product for the rest of 2013 and beyond, I really do see some striking parallels to Punk and his plight in 2011. While Punk was champion in 2011, he really wasn’t the focal point of the promotion, taking a backseat to many a failed creative attempt, some of which are mentioned above. The same can be said for Bryan, as he is currently the supposed number one babyface in the company, when it feels as though Triple H and Stephanie are the main focus of the entire angle. I think it is safe to say at this point in 2013, a near two and a half years after the fact, that the Punk angle was worlds more important than anything going on with the McMahons at the time when contributing to long term business, and when we peer back at this Bryan run I am confident that we will see the same.
What many don’t seem to understand at this point, is that while the heel authority figure was one of the driving forces for business in the 1990s in both WWE and WCW, it simply doesn’t work in 2013 in the way that it was once presented in the late 1990s. There are too many logical flaws to overlook as a fan, and while those same flaws were present in the 1990s, for whatever reason, whether it is that the WWF was coming out of Montreal, the McMahon character was fresh, or that it was just a sign of the times; what was done in the 1990s, in most cases, simply won’t work in an unaltered state in 2013. So attempting to cause a shift in business or draw any significant amount of money using an authority figure of that nature, whether in 2011 or 2013, simply isn’t an effective idea.
When comparing the heel authority figures of the late 1990s with those of today there is also another thing that needs to be kept in mind. In the late 1990s the heel authority figure was far from an overused trope. In fact, when looking back at the history of top heels in the business, there were very few of the extreme, loud and flamboyant nature that we saw from the 1990s onwards; in reality there were very few if any of them…period. But, because McMahon/Austin was arguably one of the most successful feuds of the past few decades, it was something that was copied over and over again, and eventually reached the point where we find ourselves today. To place things in perspective, from 2010 to 2013 alone, there have been six or more different heel authority figures depending on how you count. At an average of two new managers, presidents, or whatever they are going by at the time, a year, it really is close to impossible for them to make any kind of major positive impact on the product.
Using the current Triple H authority figure as an example, there are a myriad of logical inconsistencies that are very difficult to overlook. One of the largest points of contention, and one that I feel most strongly about, is the matter of the title rematch at Night of Champions. If Triple H and company were so hellbound on keeping Bryan out of the main events, why place him in a rematch with Orton? And if the answer had to do with contracts and the like, surely that could have been stated somewhere along the line. Lance Storm was one person, who on twitter a few weeks ago compared Daniel Bryan to former UFC fighter Jon Fitch. I find the Fitch point a solid analogy, but an MMA analogy that is perhaps even more analogous to Bryan’s current situation is that of Roy Nelson. For one, Dana White has a problem with Roy Nelson’s aesthetic appearance, “he doesn’t look like a champion” and doesn’t think that he takes fighting seriously enough; plus there is the fact that he is actually pretty over with the UFC fan base.
The point is that if you took that Roy Nelson example and magnified it, making it larger than life, you would be able to get something that could be usable in the context of wrestling in 2013. As I mentioned earlier I highly enjoyed the way that they built to the Money in the Bank Cena/Punk match, but apart from Punk’s promo one thing that still stands out to me is the way that the heat was built. The heat for that match was not built with beatdown after beatdown (although that can be used in moderation very effectively), but with promos on a Vince McMahon who was for the most part physically absent from the build as a whole– a model that is far more believable than what we have seen with Bryan. That isn’t to say that Hunter can’t appear on TV as the great heel that he has been, but the weekly beatdowns and the overused catch phrases are components that take me out of the story as a fan; they don’t engross me in it.
With the way that Daniel Bryan has been booked leading into Night of Champions creative are going to have a difficult balancing act ahead. On one hand they need a hot program going into Hell in a Cell (the main problem with the entire concept of stipulation pay-per-views). On the other hand they have laid Bryan out six times or so in the span of a few weeks, and given that the ratings and crowd reactions have shown interest in Bryan seemingly at a peak, it would be a good time to switch the title; that won’t happen for a multitude of reasons. The first being that they still have two pay-per-views and months worth of TV to fill. The second, and perhaps even more important, being that with a top angle involving Triple H there is no chance that they are going to give the people the pay-off the first month in.
Bryan was given pretty much as valuable of a win as you can possibly get at this stage, over John Cena clean in the middle with his finish; something that should have been highly impactful. However, if you were to have Bryan close off the night, title in hand, that would have meant no Orton cash-in, and with no Orton cash-in there wouldn’t have been an opportunity for the current Triple H character, at least in its present form. Whether plans change tomorrow or not is irrelevant, because the main focus of this angle is not Daniel Bryan, but Hunter and Stephanie, which was most likely the plan from the beginning.
With hindsight being 20/20, Bryan should have probably won the RAW Money in the Bank this year and cashed-in in a way similar to Rob Van Dam in 2006; In that way you could have averted all of these timing issues. Perhaps what would have been a decision even more well suited to a main event picture absent of John Cena, would have been to have Orton cash-in during the middle of the Cena/Bryan match. In that way setting up the big fall program without giving too much away, or creating too many creative obstructions in the form of the McMahon family and its story. However, the reality is that they took the path that they are currently on, and the question really is ‘where to from here?’.
In the end while I would like to think that this angle will end on a high, chances are, simply from looking at history, that it will not. That isn’t to say that a favourable ending to this story is impossible, but it is more unlikely than its inverse. Still, even if they blunder this angle in a manner completely unforeseen, like Punk, Bryan has all of the tools of a top star — and I am confident that he will end up in that top spot regardless of how this turns out. After all, people don’t beat Cena clean everyday.
WWE Night of Champions Sunday
This Sunday WWE runs its, Night of Champions pay-per-view from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Michigan. It is pretty much a two match show, with the mainevent match, Daniel Bryan versus Randy Orton, for the WWE championship, being a match that we have already discussed at length. The other main match is a handicap match with CM Punk going up against Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman, which has been the best built match on the show.
The stipulation going into the Punk/Heyman match is that if team Heyman loses — something that they have basically promised the audience with an incredibly hard sell of how useless Curtis Axel really is (a move that hasn’t really done wonders for a performer that needs all the help that he can get at this point) — Punk will get his hands on Heyman. They also had Punk, in the manner of your typical 1980s babyface, promise to break Heyman’s face, which is a promise that I don’t see them breaking. It was a good idea to have this hard sell for Punk and Heyman throughout the past few months, because with Bryan, who is hot at the moment, going after the gold I think that they may be able to beat average B-show numbers. Before Punk promised to beat Heyman many people thought that Heyman would bring in a new member of his stable, possibly Big E. Langston, to interfere in the match, but after the fact I just don’t see it happening; and it wouldn’t be the right thing to do at this point.
Everything else on the card is rather inconsequential, with build to the Rob Van Dam/Alberto Del Rio World title match being particularly lackluster, which is a shame, because they are in Detroit, and even if Van Dam doesn’t live there anymore, I could still see him getting a big reaction. The strange thing with Van Dam is that since his return he has been one of the most over people on the roster, which really was an opportunity that was wasted, as he has already been made into just another guy on the roster. I don’t see where putting the title on Van Dam would get them, so I expect another Del Rio title win.
The Shield aren’t in fact on the pre-show this time around, as Dean Ambrose defends his US title against Dolf Ziggler in what could be a very good match, even if it has had zero constructive build. There is also a Shield tag title defense against whatever team wins a tag team turmoil match on the pre-show between the Prime Time Players, Tons of Funk, the Usos and Cesaro & Swagger. Then in what will most likely be the worst match on the show AJ defends her Divas title against Natalya, Brie Bella and Natalya, in a match that will probably play into Total Divas at some point down the line. The big thing to note here is that Mark Henry, Big E. Langston, Damien Sandow and the Big Show are not on this show, so I would expect at least one of them to show up somewhere on the card.
Night of Champions looks to be a weakest show of the last few months, but the WWE title match and the two Shield matches could be very good, but other than that it doesn’t look like a very big show.
Wrestle-1 Delivers Some Strong Surprises
Despite the fact that I have the Wrestle-1 iPPV from last week, and the Diamond Ring show that surfaced very early ready to watch, I simply haven’t had time to get around to either show (I should do before exam pressure really starts though). As we looked at last week the Wrestle-1 show was based around unknowns, and the majority of those reveals really did pay off with big names such as Shibata, Sakuraba, Fujita Jr. Hayato, Masaaki Mochizuki, Daisuke Sekimoto and Yuji Okabayashi. The names for the mainevent however were lacking with Bob Sapp teaming with Mutoh against RENE DUPREE and Zodiac (Aaron Aguilera). Suffice to say that the names revealed for the mainevent weren’t as impactful as those announced earlier in the card, but according to what I have heard the rest of the show was fun enough to support a weak mainevent.
The main moments of the show were when Sakuraba & Shibata were revealed, and in the post match of the Laughter 7/Stack of Arms match, as Stack of Arms broke up when Masayuki Kono turned on Funaki with the aid of Kohei Sato and Ryoji Sai who appeared on the undercard; I haven’t seen the angle, but I like the idea that they set up something for shows going forward, and now they at least have a good angle for the next few months.
They also announced Jeff Jarrett for the October 6th Korakuen Hall show, along with Dupree, Zodiac and Mazada for the September 15th show from Nagoya. Right now I see Wrestle-1 as more of a Zero-1 (heck, they used a large majority of their roster for this show anyway), but if Kondo and Mutoh have changed their mindset from the All Japan days then I can see things working. They also may have the BURNING crew coming in soon, as they only signed six month contracts, and Kobashi seems to be affiliated with Wrestle-1 anyway.
WWE Monday Night RAW September 9th 2013
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
While this week’s edition of RAW was not a blow away show by any means, it did do enough to get by for Night of Champions, whether that is good or bad really depends on your point of view. The main segments on the show were good, namely the Goldust segments, which were pulled off very well, and the Bryan come back at the end of the show, which was good too, although could have been done better when thinking of what they had and what they wanted to bring across with the angle. I liked Edge on the show, although I wasn’t as high on his opening performance as some people, even if it was entertaining. He was very good with Hunter and Stephanie backstage, and Triple H and Stephanie continued to play very good heels for what it’s worth. The Toronto crowd was very much a scaled down version of the New Jersey crowd from Mania weekend, and they helped the show as they were into all of the main segments, and even when they weren’t were relatively entertaining. I would have liked them to have built other matches on the show stronger, but when they have a show like Night of Champions, with purchases basically depending on two matches, they tend to forget everything else. Overall this was a decent show that still managed to drag, mostly due to the amount of repetition used.
Once again there were no credits this week, but instead of opening up with Triple H in the ring the show kicked off with Edge coming out to an enormous home town reaction. Lawler was in a WWE t-shirt as his luggage was lost at the airport. Everything was set up in the ring for the Cutting Edge. Edge said that Hunter didn’t want him out there with Christian, he wanted him out there for a Rated RKO reunion. He called Orton boring, and said that he wouldn’t have him as the guest, which led to enormous “yes” chants. Daniel Bryan was brought down while a recap of last week’s Big Show angle aired. Huge “Daniel Bryan” chants! Bryan claimed that there was “satisfaction in the struggle”, because he would beat Orton and become the WWE champion. Edge said that he didn’t know if Bryan could beat Orton, which led to a series of questions all answerable with “yes”, which cued Orton. Orton got some heat bashing Canada and brought up Edge’s injury. Edge responded by saying that he may have spine problems, but at least he had one. Edge also went after Triple H’s choices in talent, which brought Triple H out. Edge didn’t have to bite his tongue because he wasn’t a member of the roster. Edge brought up names like himself, Jericho and Cena and claimed that they were names that Triple H never thought would make it; playing very much into reality here. Triple H said that the only reason that Edge was on the show was to plug Haven, and that was good for business. He was wrong about Jericho and Cena, he didn’t know about Bryan yet (not a very good way to build the heel authority role if you ask me), but he was right about Edge; he was a failure. He never drew a dime, I believe he said. I doubt the fan in the street cares about drawing power. He booked a match between Bryan and Ambrose for later on, with Big Show in his corner. Big “assh***” chants for Triple H. Edge called him a “d***”, which made its way onto TV uncensored. Hunter admitted that he couldn’t hurt Edge, but he could get to him in other ways, and the Shield dragged Christian’s corpse down the ramp before the break.
After the break Edge stormed into Hunter’s office, Edge wanted himself cleared, but Triple H stated that it would never happen. Hunter was insulted by Edge’s insolence and he wanted him gone, which led to Edge walking off. Both men were tremendous here. Axel made it down for a SmackDown rematch against Kofi Kingston with some loud “CM Punk” chants. They had Axel finish Kingston with knees in the corner for the DQ, further selling the certainty that Axel would lose to Punk. I understand the philosophy behind it, but in the long run it is a rather damaging approach to building this match. Heyman was incredibly upset, and to further enhance Axel’s status as a midcard act he was laid out with a trouble in paradise. A graphic aired for the Goldust/Randy Orton match later on. Originally the Match was advertised as Dustin Rhodes versus Orton, but I guess they just decided to bringing him in as Goldust. Originally there was also a stipulation in there that Cody would have to apologize too, but I guess they decided to drop it. They cut to some trainers kneeling over Heyman in the back who had slipped on some water. This was presented as a Paul Heyman work. A recap aired of last week’s Big Show angle. Big Show was sitting in the back when Booker T of all people came by, and like last week with Bryan, he said that the people would want him to be a hero; he didn’t want Show to make a mistake that he couldn’t take back. So I guess Booker is intended to be a part of the McMahon corporation. Ziggler, who was the most over that he has been in the last few months, was out for a match with Bray Wyatt. Much good that did him as he was beaten with Wyatt’s neckbreaker after a distraction. They are calling the move ‘Sister Abigail’ saying that it is named after Wyatt’s dead sister — great journalism that was. The Wyatts have an entrance that is far more over than the act itself, unfortunately.
There was a Goldust and Booker T retrospective. Heyman made it out on crutches with Axel and a doctor by his side. He wasn’t a big fan of the Canadian health system and it was for that reason that he had his own doctor. However, he had to withdraw from the match at Night of Champions due an ankle injury, declaring how upset he was and prepared to walk off. This brought Maddox and Dr. Sampson, saviour of Jerry Lawler, out. This led to a live knee evaluation; “this is awkward” chants. Heyman threatened to sue, and did some great intentionally terrible selling. It was declared that Heyman was perfectly fine, Heyman took this very personally, before Punk ran down with a kendo stick killing Axel and Heyman’s doctor. Heyman literally sprinted off in the most fantastic manner; big CM Punk chants. He went to let the doctor out and caned him right in the head before laying in with another shot to the head. AJ was on on commentary for a trios match; Funcadactyles & Natalya versus Aksana, Layla & Alicia Fox. AJ was cutting a fiery promo on commentary and used some moderate language, saying how she was too young for Lawler and had the date that she won the title tattooed on the back of her neck; JBL and Lawler ragged on her big time, but she performed very well. This match was bad, but short. There was a retrospective of Goldust title wins.
Alberto Del Rio was out for a match against R-Truth. Chants for JBL, Michael Cole, RVD, Undertaker, and Randy Savage (apparently there was a person in the crowd dressed as Savage yet again, which is rather peculiar)– no one cared about this match at all. Truth submitted to the cross armbreaker. Zeb Colter made it out and went off on Canada of course. However, the “We the People” schtick was interrupted by Santino Marella’s triumphant return. Cesaro landed an outrageous giant swing that went on for a good 30 seconds. Cesaro yelled something explicit and was then pinned clean with a rollup in a very unfortunate turn of events. I am all for Santino, but Cesaro is so good that he really shouldn’t be pinned by the Santinos of the world. Sandow made it down claiming to be the uncrowned world champion before the Miz made it down. There were more Randy Savage chants here. The crowd was dead until Fandango’s music hit for a light pop and Fandango’ing for the Sandow rollup. Summer Rae was standing by with Goldust, both got good reactions. He talked like a normal human being, as Dustin Rhodes in Goldust get-up basically. Triple H came by to interrupt, and he laid out the odds. Goldust made it out in a pretty serious manner and went straight after Orton, this Toronto Crowd was super into Goldust — “You still got it” chants, the bane of many. Goldust got quite a bit of offense in before the break. Orton worked a headlock for what felt like a very long time, which was smart, as Goldust had no wind issues here. Goldust finally fought out and landed a bulldog. Goldust got a rollup for two. Orton did the yes chant, Orton went for the RKO, but Goldust landed the cross Rhodes for two! Huge pop and great nearfall here. Orton grabbed a rollup, Rhodes kicked out, but was caught with an RKO in a match that exceeded any and all expectations. Orton grabbed a mic and proclaimed that Goldust’s dreams had been shattered just like Bryan’s would on Sunday. Apparently this got a standing ovation in the back and in the arena during the break, and given the expectations going in, I have no qualms with that.
There was a Los Matadores vignette. Dustin was weeping backstage when Stephanie came by saying how he had let everyone down and sent him off walking into the sunset. RVD made it down for a match against Ryback. Del Rio interrupted and stated that there would be ADR chants after NOC. This was the second DQ finish of the night as Ryback rammed RVD repeatedly into the post groin first before landing a shell shock. I don’t know if there was a trust issue here of some sort here, but Van Dam really was blocking these groin shots for whatever reason. Stephanie approached Big Show backstage and said that he would be fired if he touched the Shield, which led to him destroying a CRT monitor in the back — have we seen this before? Ambrose and Bryan were out for the mainevent. Bryan had control until he was thrown to the outside off of a distraction from Rollins before the break. Show was strictly limited to sitting at ringside, which is an act that is so old at this point, an only got older later on. Bryan unloaded with yes kicks and landed a superkick for two. Instead of landing a top rope German suplex like last week, Bryan landed a top rope back suplex to “this is awesome” chants. Reigns went for the spear on the floor, but was side stepped and took a great bump into the steps, Bryan also avoided Rollins, who was sent into the announce table. However, This allowed Ambrose to grab the advantage from a shot from behind. There were Big Show chants. Bryan finally grabbed an unbreakable small package for the win. I would point out the fact that Ambrose is US champion and all, but it doesn’t really matter at this point. Ambrose was then sent into the Shield as the whole crowd chanted “yes”. Randy looked to be running down to the ring, but was caught with a topé. A Shield beatdown ensued however. Big Show came by chair in hand, but wasn’t able to do a thing as Bryan was RKO’d. Big Show was walking back up the ramp, when Stephanie and Hunter made it back down. They sent Show back to the ring. Exactly like last week Show was having second thoughts when Orton began to yell at the Big Show. Before lifting Bryan’s limp body up, Show refused. Orton wanted Show to turn around and ordered him to knock Bryan out. This provided Bryan with enough time to run in with his knee leaving Big Show to walk off smirking as Bryan chanted yes title in hand to close off the RAW go-home show for Night of Champions.
RAW Ratings for September 9th 2013
Last week’s show was up from last year’s Labour Day show drawing a 2.85 rating and 3.94 million viewers. When it came to overall viewership they were simply lagging behind the college football game, but they were lower ranked when it came to the 18-49 demo.
The Miz/Fandango match, which was the first match on the show, lost 275,000 viewers to a 2.6 quarter, which is very low for that segment. Ryback and Ziggler then gained 140,000 viewers. The Stephanie and Big Show in-ring segment gained 415,000 viewers at 21:00, which is strong for that segment, although not as good as most segments that involve Big Show weeping do.
The 20:00 to 21:00 hour drew 3.69 million viewers (1,784 million viewers and a 1.41 rating in the 18-49 demo, fifth for the night on cable behind the final hour).
In the post 21:00 segment the Prime Time Players versus 3MB lost 140,000 viewers. Then in what was probably the most impressive gain of the entire show, Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton with Cody’s job on the line, gained 553,000 viewers, impressive considering that it wasn’t placed in a key segment by any means. Then at 22:00 the CM Punk interview lost 280,000 viewers, something that you pretty much never see at 22:00 — although they were coming off of an unusually high gain from the previous segment.
The 21:00 to 22:00 hour drew 4.146 million viewers (1,973 million viewers and a 1.55 rating in the 18-49 demo, third for the night behind the College Football game, which drew a 1.7).
In the post-22:00 the Natalya versus Brie Bella versus Naomi three way lost 400,000 viewers, which would have been bad if they weren’t coming off of that terrible loss already. RVD and Sandow stayed even. And finally the Big Show versus Daniel Bryan match gained 550,000 viewers to a 3.3, which is around the average for an overrun, although coming off of all of those losses you would have expected more.
RAW Ratings for September 9th
Last week’s ratings were delayed due to Labour Day, and so unfortunately this week’s segment by segment and quarter hours were also delayed — so we only have some rough details on this week’s ratings. When will this, sad, sad cycle of rating delays end? I don’t know.
“Despite the fears of many when it came to the RAW ratings for this week, as a result of the show going head to head with two consecutive football games, the show actually fared rather well. In fact, it was slightly up from the Labor Day edition of the show last week, and not only that, they also showed a positive growth pattern over the three hours growing hour after hour. However, not all of that growth can be viewed as organic, as the first hour didn’t perform well at all going against the stronger game, and since competition lessened as the night went along, it was only natural for the RAW ratings to go up as the night progressed. Apart from Monday Night Football, RAW was first for the night on cable in the 18-49 demo. The first hour drew 3.801 million viewers (a 1.3 in the 18-49 and fifth for the night on cable behind the second hour). The second hour drew 3.903 million viewers (a 1.3 in the 18-49 demo, fourth for the night behind the final hour). The final hour drew 3.953 million viewers (a 1.4 in the 18-49 demo, third for the night behind the two football games). Overall, I would consider this week’s RAW ratings pretty decent for what was expected going in, and what we experienced last year.”
WWE – NXT
September 11th 2013 – Full Sail University, Florida.
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady got us started this week. The duo came out for a tag match and Enzo said they were jumped from behind by two “goons” that were “S.A.W.F.T – Soft”. Sylvester LeFort appeared on the stage and introduced his “fighting legionnaire”: “Captain Roughneck” Scott Dawson and “the Bulgarian Brute”, Alexander Rusev. Rusev snapped his board with Enzo’s name on it.
Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs. Scott Dawson & Alexander Rusev w/ Sylvester LeFort
The Jersey boys took it to Dawson early; Dawson delivered a big short-arm clothesline to Enzo and the heels got the heat. Resuv did some power spots, Dawson dropped Cassady off the apron with a cheap-shot. The finish was absolutely dumbfounding; Dawson had Enzo in a bearhug then Rusev delivered a spinning-heel kick and made the cover. The ref called for a DQ, because as Regal claimed, “there was a five count”, only there clearly was not.
Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady defeated Scott Dawson & Alexander Rusev via disqualification, at 3:36.
LeFort and his goons stood tall, but Enzo and Big Cass were announced the winners, which woke up the crowd after the finish killed them, dead.
The finish defied belief and the crowd were literally silenced by what happened. There was no five count, at first I thought the referee didn’t make a count at all and just called for the bell. However after watching it back, the ref appeared to count to three then refused to make the count for the pinfall and called for the DQ. The spot for the finish was just a standard double-team move we have seen hundreds of times, off the top of my head I can’t think of another match being waved off because both guys were in the ring for too long when they hit their big finish. I don’t recall the Road Warriors or the Hart Foundation being DQ’d for hitting the Doomsday or Hart-Attack. Here’s a fun game for everyone: when Rusev gets the tag and they go to the finish, start a deliberate pro wrestling referee count and see if you can get to five before the DQ is called, because I tried and it seems that everybody’s timing was way off, which made the whole thing even stupider.
The pretty blonde ring announcer, who they haven’t bothered to identify after she took over from Summer Rae, introduced Bo Dallas; after a quick Google search, it appears the ring announcer is called, Kendall Skye. Bo thanked all his “Bo-lievers” for their support and said he could be a “mentor” to Sami Zayn then offered Sami a non-title match once he is cleared to compete. Bo finished by urging all his fans to keep the tweets and emails coming then declared, “don’t stop Bo-lieving”.
Bo has become more confident in his promos after his bizarre heel turn, although this was not his best night. He stumbled over some lines and seemed to be more perturbed by the crowd than usual.
Renee Young was in the back with CJ Parker and she asked about the situation with Tyler Breeze. CJ talked about Tyler being in love with his outer self, while “CJP” was in touch with his inner-self. Parker claimed Tyler overreacted to his “photo loving” and should just let the issue go; Breeze jumped CJ from behind then took a selfie of himself posing on the fallen hippie. Renee yelled for some help.
Sasha Banks was all-smiles during her entrance for her match with the Women’s Champ; Paige came down, but didn’t get her usual big pop from the crowd, who had already sat through two hours’ worth of TV tapings.
Non-Title Match. Paige (NXT Women’s Champion) vs. Sasha Banks
Paige did her stupid spot of running her forward-facing opponent into the ropes; Sasha attempted to do the same, but Paige countered and did the horrible spot again. Paige beat down Sasha in the corner then screamed at her foe; Sasha delivered a school-boy and Paige’s head bounced off the bottom turnbuckle. Sasha got a little heat with some holds; Paige fought up from a chinlock to get a two count off a roll-up, but Sasha cut her off with a dropkick then worked another chinlock. Paige reversed a suplex for the double-down then landed some knee strikes; Sasha came back with an inside-cradle for a near-fall. The finish saw Paige go for a dropkick, but Sasha held onto the ropes to avoid the shot then she delivered a crossbody; Paige rolled through into a lateral-press to get the three.
Paige defeated Sasha Banks via pinfall, at 7:03 (TV Time).
Paige celebrated with her belt and Sasha was crestfallen and refused to shake the champ’s hand. Paige went to leave and Sasha jumped her from behind then delivered some slaps to Paige’s, err, chest area and laid her out with a straight-jacket neckbreaker.
The match was a bit on the boring side and was hardly a display of crisp in-ring action. Still, I liked the story they told during the thing, with Sasha pushing the champion to the limit. If she would have just shook Paige’s hand then she would have gotten over as a big babyface. I’m not sure what they do with Sasha now, maybe she can be Summer Rae’s lackey, but that hardly seems worth it.
Sasha was in the locker room, when Summer Rae walked in and asked how it felt to beat down Paige. Sasha said it felt awesome then thanked Summer for bringing out the rage that was inside her.
Leo Kruger came through the curtain and that was my cue to turn the volume up on my TV, as his music sounds great at a high volume. They showed last week’s angle which set up the main eventthen Xavier Woods proceeded to boogie on down during his entrance.
Xavier Woods vs. Leo Kruger
Leo stalled on the floor then made fun of Xavier’s dancing; Woods grabbed a handful of hair, however Leo hung the arm of Woods across the middle rope then started to get the heat. Leo worked on the arm with an epically long armbar; Xavier finally fought out to land a tilt-o-whirl headscissors, but Leo rolled to the outside and avoided a slingshot plancha. Leo had the heat again after the break and delivered a nice snap hammerlock suplex for a two count. Tony Dawson explained that “ta-ta” means “farewell”, because you know, we’re all idiots; Leo worked a hammerlock. Woods fought up to land some leg-kicks and a dropkick; Leo shut him down with a backbreaker which got a two count then landed a jackhammer for another near-fall. Xavier avoided an elbow from the second rope for the transition and started his comeback after a series of strikes. Woods went for his handspring lariat, but Leo caught him with a spinebuster for a near-fall. The finish came after another near-fall that saw Woods hit his wacky downward spiral; Xavier scored with the handspring clothesline then hit an inverted facebreaker to get the three.
Xavier Woods defeated Leo Kruger via pinfall, at 11:02 (TV Time).
Xavier celebrated with a dance as the show closed.
Decent main event, but nothing special; the crowd did not appreciate Leo’s armbar clinic and they lost interest during some of the heat. It was a little surprising that Woods got the win, but I guess they want to get some more guys in the NXT main event mix and a win over Leo is a good place to start. The feud looks to be continuing, with both guys featured in a big eight-man tag next week.
NXT was one hell of a mundane wrestling show this week. Nothing really stood out or made an impact and with no Neville or Zayn, it was down to Xavier and Leo to put on the quality TV match, which they just about managed to do. Next week should be a better show, although sadly there will be no report as this is likely to be my last full NXT report for a while. I’ll be doing a recap of the monthly tapings while I concentrate on Raw, so thanks to anybody that actually enjoys my take on the developmental scene and I’ll leave it by declaring the obvious, but no less true assertion: SAMI ZAYN FOR THE MAIN ROSTER!
TNA iMPACT September 12th 2013
Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis, Missouri
I can easily say that this week’s edition of iMPACT was the best couple of hours of TV that the company has put on this year, if not in a longer period of time. When they debuted the TV specials a few months ago with Destination X, they were good, but really nothing to write home about. However, this one show, even if it was just for one night, made the company feel important — it did in fact feel special. There was great wrestling on the show with two of the promotion’s best matches this year, one of Ken Anderson’s best career performances and a hot crowd. I usually don’t recommend that people who aren’t fans of iMPACT go out of their way for shows, but this is one that really deserves your attention — this was very good pro-wrestling TV.
The show opened with a video package that presented the Bound for Glory as more important than it has felt at any point this year. The actual show opened up in the same manner as it has for the last few months, with Ray making it out, this week with Brooke Tessmacher. Ray said that he was willing to forgive Anderson, as Hogan was the cause of all their problems anyway. This brought Hogan down to a Hogan reaction. He made these terribly annoying “cry baby” noises. Ray said that Anderson would do the right thing, Hogan assured Ray that he would be facing him later on for the title. This brought Anderson down who refused to shake Hogan’s hand. All he had to do was apologize. He said that he couldn’t wait to be out of line later on and struck Ray in the face with the microphone. It was then from out of nowhere that Hogan made the match last man standing, for what reason? I have no idea. Especially when Sting was defeated due to a no DQ stipulation just last week.
Aries and Styles were out for their Bound for Glory Series semi-final match. Right from the start there were dwelling chants. Aries went for a tope, but was caught with a forearm to the face. There was a great stiff elbow from Styles followed by a shoot style kick to the leg. Aries knocked the feet out from under Styles who Looked like he was going to be shooting in with a crossbody, but instead landed face first hard on the ropes. Styles went for the Styles clash, but Aries hooked his arms and landed a hurricanrana; what followed was a stiff exchange of boots. Aries landed the brainbuster for two and grabbed the last chancery. Styles avoided the 450, Aries rolled through, Styles avoided the dropkick, and landed a pele to Aries perched on the top rope, which led to a Styles cash from the top in a tremendous TV match — it was quite the ways from their first match, but still one of the better TV matches of the week. Sting was giving Magnus a prep talk in the back saying how he would be a future champion. Magnus didn’t want to be the future, the future was now he said. Bobby Roode made it down very fired up requesting his match with Magnus right then and there. These two also had a fun match with the big spot being a sharpshooter from Magnus, before Roode escaped and was caught with a jackknife for the pin.
After the break Roode was throwing a fit backstage. He proclaimed that if he couldn’t make it to the finals no one could, once Daniels & Kazarian came by. TJ Perkins was sitting with Hogan in full gear apart from his mask, asking for a match with Jeff Hardy; this is so superfluously idiotic. Dixie then walked in, and said that Bellator attorneys had pulled Rampage and Tito from the show — no surprise since the two of them were clocking each other over the head with hammers! Well, Rampage and Tito are preparing for a fight after all, so they needed to take them off of TV. Ray was freaking out backstage like a madman doubting the other members of the Aces & Eights, before proclaiming his love and trust for them. A retrospective of Anderson and Ray’s relationship aired. The match started off in a brawl as Anderson went after Ray. Anderson was absolutely running wild landing chair shots, a rolling senton and even made his own call to grab the tables before finally being shut down. Hebner yelled at Ray after he got in Hebner’s face, which got him shoved into the bottom turnbuckle. However, Anderson landed the mic check on the chair, but of course there was no referee. There was a double down, which of course brought the remaining three members of the Aces & Eights down. They helped Anderson up, which set up for a Tessmacher low blow and they landed a triple powerbomb (I wonder where they got that from?) with Anderson trying to fight it off. Hebner was up and counting, but Anderson was up at 9. Anderson fought back in the most simple manner possible, but it got a good reaction. Ray then landed a chain shot to the face, Anderson was busted open, but he made it back up at 9, which was tremendous. Ray then landed a spear through the table, which Anderson wasn’t getting back up from. Anderson was then carted off, before Ray ran after it and whispered that his was the last voice that Anderson was going to hear. He then tipped Anderson off of the board whipped him with his own jacket and a piledriver on the apron. I don’t want this to come off as your standard internet hyperbole, but ignoring the great cage match that Anderson had with Angle years ago, and putting matches aside in general, I can’t think of a story that Anderson has been in, during his entire career, that was more captivating than this. This angle made Anderson into such a great babyface character in losing, and what they did was so simple.
There was a quick sit down interview with ODB talking about next week’s Knockouts title match. Gunner and Storm were out for a promo spot. Storm basically said that they didn’t care who their next opponents were, which brought out Chavo and Hernandez. Chavo called Storm and Gunner one of the best teams in TNA and Gunner one of the strongest men in the company, but they weren’t the best nor was Gunner the strongest, because they were a team and Hernandez was in the company. Gunner was then on the mic and said that they would have a match next week, and if they won they would get a shot at the title. Gunner is really stiff on promos. Magnus came out to a huge reaction for the finals — a reaction so big that you would have thought that it was piped in. The match was full of great heat and the crowd was really into it before Daniels, Kazarian and Roode ran out and laid both men out. The really weird part was that the match was not thrown out and continued after the break, which I won’t go off on until I see where they are going. They broke out some great near falls towards the end like a triangle and pele from Styles. Magnus made it to the ropes out of a calf killer and landed a backbreaker for two. Both men battled on the top rope allowing for Styles to land the spiral tap for the win in a match that was even better than Styles/Aries (*** ¾). After the match AJ thanked the fans. He wanted to speak to Dixie as he had one of the biggest things to point out next week.
WWE SmackDown – September 13th 2013.
Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa: ON
Michael Cole hyped the Cutting Edge with Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan for later on then Big Show strolled down to the ring; they showed Show cheering on Bryan on Raw and Orton berating him, however they didn’t show Bryan lay Orton out. Big Show was handed a piece of paper which he began to read in a very robotic manner; it was an apology for his actions on Raw. He said he was sorry for letting the WWE Universe down and sorry for not setting a good example as a locker room leader. Triple H hit the stage and thanked Show for his insincere apology and told him he wasn’t picking on him, he just wanted Show to be “professional”, like Booker T said. Trips explained that if an employee disobeys the C.O.O in any other company in the world they would be fired; Show pleaded like a sap for his job and Hunter said he wasn’t going to fire him. However, Triple H declared that Show would be “suspended without pay” for the night then reminded us that Show was broke and losing a night’s salary would be hard for the giant. Trips demanded that Show follow him to the back and he began to leave, when the Shield’s music hit; Show didn’t leave, but the Shield surrounded the ring then beat down the big man. Show fought back and began to hold his own, but Ambrose hit him with a dropkick that sent him to the outside. Show stood on the announce table in order to regroup then he tossed Rollins and Ambrose into the barricade, before he flew off the table with a shoulder block to Reigns. The crowd got behind Show, who continued to take it to the Shield, until Reigns drilled him with a chair from behind. Reigns worked Show over with more chair shots then the trio finished him off with the triple powerbomb.
This made a change from Triple H cutting a 15 minute promo. Show looked great when he actually fought back and the crowd got into it big time; I still don’t condone having him blubber on TV. Since Show isn’t booked on the PPV, I assume he will play into the Bryan/Orton match somehow, possibly a run in for the save after some Shield interference. Although, I don’t see Orton losing the title; perhaps all this build with Big Show has been to get him ready for a match with Triple H, or maybe everything has been building towards Show being thrown into a three-way programme with Bryan and Orton; both of which would be terrible ideas. One thing is for sure though, Show certainly is getting a lot of TV time for a guy not in major match at the PPV.
AJ skipped down to join Cole and JBL for a six-woman tag match between the Total Divas and the jealous heels that beat them up last week.
Naomi, Natalya & Brie Bella w/ Cameron, Nikki Bella, Eva Marie & JoJo vs. Aksana, Alicia Fox & Layla
AJ was fired up again and said Cole and JBL were demeaning towards the Diva’s division and claimed her and the other heels were sick of being overlooked in favour of the reality stars. All six women got in the ring for an early schmoz then Alicia got some heat on Naomi. Nattie got the hot tag and went for the sharpshooter on Aksana, but AJ got in the ring to cause the DQ.
Naomi, Natalya & Brie Bella defeated Aksana, Alicia Fox & Layla via disqualification, at 2:01.
Nattie told AJ she wasn’t a real champion then Brie hit her with an X-factor and Naomi landed a back heel kick. Nattie tried for the sharpshooter, however Layla and the other two pulled AJ to safety.
This was a waste of time and I have no idea why we needed to see this match twice in one week.
Cole told us that Vickie Guerrero had booked Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose and if Ziggler won he would get a US Title match at Night of Champions.
After a break, Vickie was in the ring and announced it was time for dancing with the WWE Superstars. R-Truth was the first contestant and he did his lame rap that he was doing when he was part of 3LK in 2005; Fandango showed up with Summer Rae. Vickie said it was time to get going, however Miz appeared in an afro wig, some flares and an ugly shirt. Miz called himself, “Mizco Inferno” and declared himself part of the contest; he also took a sparkly pink jacket from a “fan” at ringside. Vickie was upset about her segment being interrupted, but allowed Miz to stay, unfortunately for the cougar in charge, the Great Khali came down and wanted a part of the action; Cole tried to act hip and made a reference to MIA, who I have no doubt he has never even heard of. Truth went first and did his usual routine; Fandango was next and did about 10 seconds of dancing with Summer. Miz stepped up and did some twerking then gyrated like a spastic eel; Khali waved his arms in the air in his normal comical manner. Vickie polled the fans, and Miz came out the winner; I think this may have been fixed. Fandango was outraged and tried a cheap shot. Miz and Truth gave Fandango a backdrop then they started to dance like dorks again.
This was even more pointless than the divas match and was one of those deals that makes you embarrassed to be a wrestling fan; just dire television. Why there is time on a go-home show to book a horrible segment like this is anybody’s guess.
A Los Matadores vignette rolled. Cole and JBL were at ringside then they threw it backstage, to their “newest broadcast colleague”, Ryback. Ryback claimed he was a multi-talented Superstar and in addition to being a concert pianist, he was also a great interviewer. R.D Evans, yes that R.D Evans, was his guest and he was wearing his goofy pink and black singlet. Ryback asked how tall and how much R.D weighed; R.D replied that he was 6’4 and 185lbs. Ryback asked if R.D wanted to become a WWE superstar and if he wanted to main event WrestleMania then asked if it was his dream to get in the ring with someone the calibre of himself; R.D replied, “Yeah” to all the questions and continued to grin moronically. Ryback said that made him happy, because everybody has dreams and he slapped R.D, who fell to the ground in a heap. Ryback stated it was his dream to beat the hell out of geeks like R.D and he gave R.D a boot for good measure. Ryback said, “back to ringside”, but we then jumped to Vickie Guerrero’s office.
This was great. R.D was brilliant at looking like a clueless goof; if you want to see more ROH guys looking like geeks, check out next week’s NXT to see R.D’s client, QT Marshall get jobbed in a squash match. Ryback was fine here; which is more than can be said about his match with Rob Van Dam on Raw.
Ricardo Rodriguez walked into Vickie’s office; she told him he was banned from ringside at Night of Champions. They argued in Spanish and Vickie said if Ricardo wanted to be in Van Dam’s corner at the PPV then RVD would be in his corner when Ricardo takes on Alberto Del Rio tonight.
Damien Sandow made his entrance and he cut his ritual pre-match promo. He declared himself the uncrowned World Champion then said he would defeat Santino Marella and free the people from their self-imposed ignorance. Santino power-walked himself to the ring.
Santino Marella vs. Damien Sandow
Sandow got the heat almost immediately and dropped his fancy elbow then worked an abdominal stretch; Santino escaped then made a comeback, however Sandow shut him down before he could hit the cobra. The finish came when Damien went for a shoulder block in the corner, Santino moved and Sandow took the ring post spot then Santino hit the cobra to get the pin.
Santino Marella defeated Damien Sandow via pinfall, at 2:05.
Unfortunately this wasn’t as great as Santino vs. Cesaro and was just another nothing segment on this go-home show that in no way helped to sell Night of Champions.
Michael Cole was in the ring; he brought out Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel for an “exclusive interview”; they showed the hype package for Night of Champions, then Cole asked what the duo’s plan were to make sure CM Punk doesn’t get his hands on Heyman. Axel said “all this speculation is tantamount to hyperbole” (who speaks like this?) then claimed he wouldn’t let Punk get to Paul. Heyman announced that he was a man of peace, not war and asked the fans to boycott the PPV in protest; he said the people should have better things to spend their money on, like a college fund for their kids or a new pair of shoes for their wives. Paul stated that if the people do buy the show, they will undoubtedly see Punk get his hands on him, not because Punk is a better wrestler than Axel, but because Paul had taught Punk how to get around the WWE system. Heyman stated again that he would receive a beating if the people don’t boycott the show and noted that it would be the last time anyone got to see him. Paul finished by telling the people that he would always love CM Punk, however he would never forgive any of the fans.
I thought the reverse psychology here was a good move. I wouldn’t normally advocate someone telling the people not to buy a PPV, but Paul found a way to cut a money promo even when his character was pleading with the fans to boycott the show. It’s a shame that Paul is going to be off our screens for a while, but all the signs are pointing to Punk destroying him on Sunday; even Paul’s appearance, with his unshaven stubble and bloodshot eyes, foreshadow death coming for Heyman. I hope I’m wrong because I love the guy, but after all the talk, Punk pretty much has to annihilate him. I still don’t know what they do with Axel after this, other than letting him languish with the IC Title in the mid-card.
Alberto Del Rio was out for his match then Ricardo was accompanied to the ring by Rob Van Dam.
Non-Title Match: Ricardo Rodriguez w/ Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight Champion)
Alberto took it to Ricardo early and landed his step-up enzuigiri then mocked Van Dam’s thumb pointing gimmick; I vote that Del Rio also tapes a DVD of himself to his belt and removes the turnbuckle padding in every match. Ricardo hit a dropkick and got a one count off a roll-up, however Del Rio fired back with a short superkick. Alberto charged into the corner and Ricardo got his feet up then delivered a tornado DDT for a near-fall. Van Dam encouraged Ricardo to go to the top; Del Rio crotched Ricardo and took out Van Dam with a dropkick through the ropes then landed an inverted superplex for the finish.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Ricardo Rodriguez via pinfall, at 2:25.
Alberto applied the cross-armbreaker to Ricardo; Van Dam saved his buddy then came off the top with the five-star to Del Rio. Rob held the World Title above his head; Cole and JBL tried their best to sell the idea that Van Dam had a chance of winning on Sunday.
That’s 6:31 seconds of wrestling and we were well into the second hour by this point. I have no idea if Ricardo is allowed in RVD’s corner at the PPV or not, because nobody bothered to let us know. This would have been a fine angle for week one or two of this programme, but here on the go-home show it was too little and way too late for Van Dam, who has been booked weaker than any World Title contender I can remember for a long time. I expect this feud to continue after Night of Champions, which makes me sad; they need to bury whatever issues they have with Rey Mysterio and bring him back immediately. I thought for sure he would be Ricardo’s new guy when he split from Alberto, but instead we have been treated to this tripe. All I can think of to keep this thing going is, Alberto destroys Ricardo and takes him out for a while then Van Dam comes back to avenge his buddy.
A video package hyped Orton vs. Bryan: it included a talking head from Triple H blathering about what was best for business, plus the issues with Big Show and Cody Rhodes, further taking the focus off Daniel Bryan.
Dolph Ziggler still managed to smile during his way out for a match we will pay to see again in two days; Dean Ambrose was already in the ring after a commercial.
Non-Title Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose (US Champion)
Ambrose controlled at the start, but Ziggler came back with a crossbody into some mounted punches and Dean took a break on the floor. Dolph fell for the old heel ringside chase and cut off spot like an idiot, however he countered a belly-to-back and landed a dropkick then dropped his heart-stopping elbows; Ambrose avoided a Stingersplash as the heat spot before the break and was still in control when we came back. Dolph got a boot up to block a fist-drop off the second rope then made a brief comeback with the ten punch deal in the corner and a clothesline, before they went into the near-falls. Ambrose countered the ZigZag and applied a sleeper; Dolph reversed with a jawbreaker then hit the Rocker-dropper, however Rollins and Reigns hit the ring to cause the DQ.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Dean Ambrose via disqualification, at 6:11 (TV Time).
Rollins and Reigns stomped away at Ziggler; the Usos ran down to make the save and the Tag Champs retreated out of the ring. Vickie Guerrero came out to the stage and told Dolph he would get a US Title shot at the PPV then booked a six-man, to take place after the break.
Dolph Ziggler & The Usos vs. The Shield
We joined the action just in time for the heat spot; Dolph was distracted by Ambrose on the outside and Rollins nailed him from behind. The Shield isolated Ziggler in their corner and made frequent tags during the heat; Ambrose tied Ziggler up in the ropes and hit a running dropkick then tried for a second one. Dolph low-bridged Dean over the top then avoided a shoulder block from Reigns, who took the ring post spot, and made the hot tag. Jimmy ran wild on Rollins and delivered a full-nelson bomb then a pop-up Samoan-drop. Ambrose broke up the pin, but Ziggler dumped him over the top with a clothesline. Finish saw Reigns catch Jey with a spear, however Jimmy hit Rollins and Reigns with a pair of superkicks then came off the top with a big splash. Rollins got his knees up and rolled-up Jimmy to get the pin.
The Shield defeated Dolph Ziggler & The Usos via pinfall, at 5:35 (TV Time).
The Ambrose/Ziggler match fine, but didn’t mean much in the long run and the six-man was not the classic Shield match we have been treated to in the past, although the finish was fun. I guess Dolph getting a US Title shot after winning by DQ makes a little bit of sense; after all it was Vickie that booked the title match stip. Although one of the many plot holes created by having a heel promoter, is why Triple H would allow one of his hired goons to defend his title in a fair contest. At least the Tag Title match will feature the winners of Tag Team Turmoil and they could claim that Hunter is stacking the deck in order to protect the Shield.
It was time for the main event segment and Edge hit the ring for his Cutting Edge talk-show; they dusted off Tony Chimel again for his entrance. Cole explained that Triple H told him in a “WWE.com exclusive” that it was good for business to bring Edge back after throwing him out on Raw; they showed Christian being left for dead on Monday. Edge said he had come back for the fans, not Triple H then stated Hunter had married into his job and “lost his genitals along the way”. He gave a message to Christian and told him to return and to tear the Shield apart then he brought out Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan as his guests. Edge asked Randy how it felt to be a sell-out; Orton told Edge he was just jealous that he can’t wrestle anymore and was a washed up talk-show host. Bryan told Randy to show some respect; Orton stated he was not a sell-out and did what anyone else would have done when presented the opportunity to replace John Cena as the face of the WWE. Randy told Bryan he was a good wrestler with a nice little following and was good for business, however Orton declared he was best for business. Edge claimed he and the people knew what was really best for business and asked for Bryan’s thoughts. Bryan said he knew everybody wanted him to point to the sky and chant “Yes”, but he stated he didn’t care what was best for business; Randy interrupted and said Bryan would never be champion or the face of the company and would always be a footnote. Bryan told Orton to shut up and explained that the most important things in his life were not about making money for a giant corporation or adding numbers to a balance sheet. He declared that his childhood dream was to hold the WWE Championship and he would defeat Randy on Sunday to win the belt. Orton said he would give Bryan a chance at his dream tonight then dropped him with a right hand and began to pummel his challenger. Bryan countered into the Yes-lock and Orton tapped-out; some referees ran down to break up the skirmish. Bryan stood tall in the ring and led the crowd in a chant of “Yes”, as the show went off the air.
This was another angle that fell short of go-home expectations. After everything that the McMahons and Orton have done to him, Bryan needed to come back in a big way this week; one flying knee and a Yes-lock are hardly enough to make up for all the heat the heels have gotten on him. Plus he didn’t exactly look like a world-class fighter when Orton dropped him with one punch and started whaling on him. I’ve not been as bothered by Bryan being laid out every week as some people, mainly because I assumed he would be booked to at least get the better of the regime in some angles. Also, from the minute Orton cashed in the briefcase, I assumed that Bryan would win the title at Hell in a Cell. However Bryan has spray painted car, hit one knee and applied one hold, which has hardly made him look like the defiant fighting top babyface. I just hope, if they do intend to drag this out to the cell, that Bryan is booked in one hell of a comeback angle the night after he is screwed out of the title. Look at what Steve Austin did the night after Breakdown 98 or what happened when the Rock “threw” Austin off a bridge and Austin came back to crash the eulogy. I know comparing Bryan to Austin is a stretch to say the least, and I agree that for Daniel Bryan’s character, booking him exactly like Austin wouldn’t work anyway. All I’m saying is if Bryan is indeed the top babyface for the next few months then he indisputably needs to be booked in comeback angles that are comparable in impact and excitement to how the Stone Cold character would come for his revenge.
I think somebody forgot to tell Michael Hayes and the SmackDown writers this was go-home week; the show was a giant disappointment. All the important angles were handled poorly and everything else was an enormous waste of time; that dancing with the stars thing becomes even more egregious when you consider the main event angle barely went 10 minutes. Big Show looked good before he got taken out and at least he fought back. The Del Rio/ Van Dam story has mostly been about Ricardo and Alberto, plus Rob was buried along with everybody else on the stage for two weeks, not to mention he lost clean to the WWE Champion. Then we have the Heyman/Punk stuff, which has probably been the most consistent and logical angle in the company. My one problem with the great story they are telling with Punk and Heyman, is that Axel has become almost irrelevant; all the heat is between Punk and Paul. That is fine for this angle, as Paul will actually be in the ring and the draw is seeing him get killed. However the other two major matches for Night of Champions haven’t exactly been focused on the two guys fighting over a championship and the heat has been elsewhere, other than on the people it should be. The World Title programme has been mainly booked around Ricardo finding another guy to take down Del Rio then we have the Bryan/Orton/McMahon/Shield/Triple H/Big Show saga, and I have already stated my case on that situation. I would have to give SmackDown a big blubbering giant sized thumbs down this week.
Bits & Pieces
In what was probably the largest story of the week, Jim Ross was released as a WWE employee as a result of the WWE 2K14 fiasco. For those of you who haven’t heard the story, a few weeks ago 2KSports held a panel with Ric Flair, Mick Foley and Steve Austin among others with host Jim Ross. Ross was told to stay with the script, but due to pretty much everyone else apart from himself the interview went off the rails with Ric Flair being…well…Ric Flair. The crazy thing is that the portion of the interview that the WWE were most upset about was not that Flair was telling Cena drinking stories, but rather that he was talking about his recently deceased son, Reid. Things get even stranger as the developers were apparently very happy with the way things turned out, but WWE were still adamant that the entire thing was a disaster. On a positive note Ross may be involved in some interesting projects that he wasn’t able to get involved in before due to his WWE contract. The down side is that we may have to hear more disturbing puppy killing tales — because those certainly didn’t paint JR as a sympathetic figure.
The iMPACT No Surrender special, which was a great show drew 1.39 million viewers, only up 10,000 viewers from last week.
Next Week’s Issue
Next week’s newsletter is going to be quite different when compared with the newsletters over the past few months. For one, there is going to be far less content than usual, but on the bright side Ben Carass will be covering RAW, Night of Champions and SmackDown, and to be honest he will probably do a far better job than I. There will also hopefully be a collection of star ratings for Diamond Ring and Wrestle-One, together with possible random ratings for the New Japan iPPV and Night of Champions. Apart from that everything else is pretty much up in the air. I would recommend that you go to cubedcirclewrestling.com for more, but the chances are that isn’t going to help you very much.
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