Cubed Circle Newsletter Issue #101: Night of Champions 2013 Review, NOC Follow-Up + More!

Cubed Circle Newsletter – 101 Night of Champions 2013

We are back with a slightly smaller issue than usual this week, and what I mean by ‘We’, is close to twenty pages from Ben and around one and a half from me. In other words, Ben is steering the ship this week, and will for all intents and purposes, be the main contributor to the newsletter for the next couple of months due to my exam schedule. This is has its positives and negatives. The positives are, well…Ben’s covering all the major shows for the next couple of months. The bad news is that in doing so he has basically revealed all of the flaws in my weekly reports — and that can’t be good, right? Regardless, in this week’s issue we (Ben, mostly) cover WWE’s 2013 Night of Champions show, Monday Night RAW, a brief rundown of the ratings, SmackDown, and a few odds and ends in the ‘Bits & Pieces’ section. And with that I hope you enjoy the newsletter, and have a great week!

— Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor

 

For a Full-colour PDF CLICK HERE

 

WWE Night of Champions – September 15th 2013.

Joe Lewis Arena, Detroit: MI

 

On Sunday September 15th, WWE’s run of putting on good PPVs came to a screeching halt with the painfully mundane and disappointing, Night of Champions show. Depending on how far you wish to go back, you can easily make a case for this being the worst PPV of the year, but for me it was probably the worst show since last year’s Hell in a Cell, which was headlined by CM Punk vs. Ryback in the cell. Things got off to an inauspicious start, when Triple H came out at the top of the PPV broadcast and didn’t get much better, with two impromptu matches booked on the fly, a crowd that seemingly lost interest every second that went by, average performances virtually up and down the card and two of the dumbest finishes imaginable for the World and WWE Title matches.

 

Daniel Bryan became the WWE Champion for the second time after a blatant fast count from referee, Scott Armstrong; strangely, none of the announcers, not even JBL, said anything about it nor did Triple H come out to dispute the decision. They obviously wanted to end the show with an angle that they could pick up on Raw, however the way they had Bryan win the title only helped to further prevent him from getting over as a legit main event babyface. Referee, Armstrong took a bump and was replaced by John Cone, however Armstrong recovered to take over officiating duties again. The finish saw Bryan hit the busaiku knee and as mentioned, Armstrong made the rapid three count. In the building, which seemed to be split 65/35% for Bryan, probably due to the way Bryan has been booked on TV, the title change came off as flat; I assume most people were waiting for Triple H to come and reverse the decision. The people finally got into the title change once they realised it was for real, but WWE have rolled the dice big time by going with the Dusty finish. The number of times that people will accept the bait and switch is finite, and they may have already overstepped the line by screwing Bryan twice.

 

In the other key feature bouts, Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel went over CM Punk in probably the second best match of the night, after Punk eliminated Axel then started a merciless beat down on Heyman. Punk handcuffed Paul and whaled on him with a kendo-stick, but Ryback made a run in and speared Punk through a table then placed Paul on top for the pinfall. The match was made No DQ by Brad Maddox on the pre-show, Triple H also announced the WWE Title match would have no interference whatsoever, but we’ll get into that in a minute. As for the World Heavyweight Championship, Rob Van Dam defeated Alberto Del Rio via DQ after a clunky match; Del Rio refused to let go of the armbreaker when Van Dam was in the ropes. The rest of the card really was inconsequential and I couldn’t help but think during the show that I had paid $55 to watch a commercial free episode of Raw.

 

Match by Match:

 

The pre-show opened with Josh Matthews and the “expert” panel of, Alex Riley, Booker T and Santino Marella. Paul Heyman was in the back, looking concerned. Maddox walked up and asked what the problem was; Paul blamed Maddox for forcing a middle-aged father of two into the ring with Punk and threatened to get himself DQ’d then threatened to sue Punk for “felonious assault” if Punk touched him after the bell. Maddox added the No DQ stip and Heyman was crestfallen. – I was fine with this being on the pre-show, as it added another reason for people to buy the show and see Paul die.

 

Number One Contenders, Tag Team Turmoil Match: The Prime Time Players vs. The Usos vs. The Real Americans (w/Zeb Colter) vs. Tons of Funk vs. Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre (w/Jinder Mahal).

 

Tons of Funk and 3MB were out first. Brodus had goofy dinosaur spikes on his singlet. McIntyre did a summersault plancha onto Tensai, but Sweet T got the last laugh and rolled up Drew for the first elimination. – Tons of Funk eliminated 3MB via pinfall, at 1:35. The Real Americans ran down and they quickly took over on the fatties. Brodus made a comeback and came off the second rope with a splash, but Swagger broke up the pin. Swagger made a blind tag, as Clay power slammed Cesaro, and applied the ankle-lock to get the tap. – The Real Americans eliminated Tons of Funk via submission, at 5:45. The Usos were up next; Jey did a dive over the ringpost onto Swagger and Jimmy took out Cesaro with a springboard moonsault. Jimmy came off the top rope, however Swagger caught him in the ankle-lock and got the submission. – The Real Americans eliminated The Usos via submission, at 9:20.  The Prime Time Players were the last entrants; Titus fired up on Swagger, but Swagger delivered a chopblock and applied the ankle-lock. Young broke up the hold then got caught in the hold himself, however he rolled through and nailed Swagger with his gutbuster to get the win. – The Prime Time Players eliminated The Real Americans and won the Tag Team Turmoil match via pinfall, at 11:10. – This was a fun little match to get things rolling and the crowd even began a “this is awesome” chant when the Usos did their highspots. The Real Americans looked good here, but it only made sense to put the PTPs in the title match after they have started to gain some momentum as a face team. ** ½

 

The main PPV show opened with an awesome video, which featured black and white pictures of previous champions; why they don’t put a little effort to make this event feel special on TV is beyond me. Triple H came down to the ring; he didn’t get as much heat as you would have thought, considering how he has been portrayed on TV. The reaction of the crowd was more of a groan or “not this guy again” heat. For some reason, Hunter went into babyface mode and announced that there would be no interference from anyone in the main event, including the Shield or Big Show then did his DX, “Are you ready” bit. Paul Heyman interrupted him and hit the ring with Curtis Axel. Paul told Hunter he had a problem with what Trips thought was best for business; Trips replied that Paul looked horrible and asked when the last time he slept or showered was. Heyman raised his voice, but quickly apologised and explained that CM Punk didn’t want to wrestle or Greco with him, he wanted to hurt Paul and make sure he is never seen in the WWE again. Hunter informed Heyman he had no reason to be scared, because if he believed in Axel, then there was nothing to worry about and declared the match would go on. Axel asked what was wrong with Hunter then stated he became a Paul Heyman guy on May 20th and beat Trips in a match on Raw. Hunter buried Axel for remembering the date like a mark then said all the championships are supposed to be defended at Night of Champions and informed Axel he would put the belt on the line against the first person he came across when he got to the back. Trips told Axel the match was up next then headed up the aisle; Heyman declared he client was wrestling the match “under protest” then Kofi Kingston came out to face Axel. – This opening segment made little sense and pretty much set the tone for the dreadful night ahead. I have no clue why Triple H was playing the babyface and booking no interference in the main event; in what universe is interference legal in world title matches anyway? Also, surely that announcement should have taken place on TV, not at the start of a show people have already paid to see.

 

Intercontinental Championship Match: Curtis Axel (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Kofi Kingston

 

They started out with some chain wrestling then Axel hit Kofi with a dropkick; Kofi came back to land a dive off the top to the floor, but Axel shut Kofi down and started to get the heat. Kofi made a comeback then went for trouble in paradise; Axel ducked then landed some shoulder blocks. Kofi attempted a springboard move, however Axel countered with a dropkick to get a near-fall. Axel avoided the SOS and the trouble in paradise again; Kofi came back to hit the SOS for a near-fall; for some reason Kevin “don’t call it wrestling” Dunn chose to show a shot of Heyman instead of the referee’s count. Finish saw Axel drop Kofi across the top rope and get the pin after the mind-trip facebuster. – Curtis Axel defeated Kofi Kingston via pinfall to retain the Intercontinental Title, at 13:55. – This was a longer TV match with a couple of extra highspots thrown in; we had seen this match on SmackDown and Raw a week ago and the crowd seemed to drop off a little during the heat. Sticklers for the gimmick of all titles being defended will be happy and not advertising this ahead of time isn’t really that big of an issue since it wouldn’t have added any extra buys. There is just something about booking matches the night of the PPV that comes across as minor-league and unprepared to me. ** ½

 

Chris Jericho won a poll for the greatest IC Champion of all time, beating Honky Tonk Man, Pat Patterson, Curt Hennig and Rick Rude with 63% of the vote. Rob Van Dam was with Ricardo, who had his arm in a sling, in the back. Van Dam asked Ricardo to translate some stuff into Spanish then they both did the “RVD” thumb pointing gimmick. Elsewhere, AJ approached the other heel divas and tried to rally them for her title defense. Alicia Fox and Aksana walked away from her then Layla told AJ she was going to try “talk some sense” into the others. AJ desperately said her match was next, as she realised she would be all on her own. At ringside, the announcers mentioned The Sheik… you know, because they were in Detroit. Trish Stratus won the poll for best women’s champion with 56% over, Wendi Richter, Lita, Moolah and Michelle McCool. What, no Harvey Wippleman?!

 

Diva’s Championship Fatal Four-Way Match: A.J. Lee (C) vs. Natalya vs. Naomi vs. Brie Bella

 

All three challengers ran AJ into the barricade after the champ tried to flee; Naomi went for a high-cross off the top on Nattie, but missed by a mile. One of the stupidest spots I’ve seen in a while followed; Brie took a shot and fell backwards on top of a fallen Naomi. Everybody stopped and stared apart from JBL, who rightfully was yelling that Brie should have been declared the champion, as she legitimately had Naomi’s shoulders pinned to the mat. Nattie applied a double sharpshooter to Naomi and Brie; AJ broke it up then hooked the black widow and Nattie tapped-out. – A.J. Lee defeated Natalya, Brie Bella & Naomi to retain the Diva’s Championship, at 5:35. – The girls tried hard, but the match wasn’t great and that double sharpshooter spot was literally one of the dumbest things I’ve seen all year. I imagine AJ will continue to feud with the Total Divas until filming of the season finishes then one of the reality stars will probably win the strap. * ¾

 

World Heavyweight Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio (C) vs. Rob Van Dam w/ Ricardo Rodriguez

 

Van Dam missed rolling thunder and Del Rio delivered a double-knee backbreaker for a two count. Alberto tried for his reverse superplex and Van Dam fought out to land a cannonball off the top, however Del Rio came back quickly with a backbreaker. RVD hit the split-leg moonsault for a near-fall, but the crowd was rather flat; Del Rio tried to get some heat by mocking Van Dam’s thumb pointing gimmick then got a two count off a short superkick. Van Dam started a comeback and went for the five-star; Del Rio got his knees up and slapped on the cross-armbreaker. The fans got behind RVD, who eventually got to the ropes, however Del Rio refused to break the hold and the ref called for the DQ. – Rob Van Dam defeated Alberto Del Rio via disqualification, at 13:24.

 

Del Rio worked over Van Dam after the bell and went for a chair shot; Ricardo snuck in for the save and Van Dam planted Alberto with a DDT. RVD rolled back the years with a Van Terminator, as Ricardo held the chair in front of Alberto’s face. – This was an unwieldy match that never really got out of second gear and the finish would have been lame on Raw, but here on PPV it was just the worst thing they could have done. I know they want to keep this feud going; still, they could have come up with something a little more creative than what they did. The Van Terminator spot livened the crowd up after the terrible finish, but after the lack of chemistry show between Van Dam and Del Rio I am not looking forward to the rematch.

 

Curtis Axel was laughing to himself in the back; Heyman told him he wouldn’t be around to help his client if CM Punk got his hands on him. Axel asked Paul if he believed in him and Heyman replied that he had believed in Axel since day one and tonight he needed Curtis to believe in himself. Booker T was voted the greatest World Champion over Ric Flair, Undertaker, Edge and Batista. BOOKER T?! Backstage again, and Triple H explained to Randy Orton why he made the no interference stip. Trips told Orton he wanted to make sure he make the right choice for the face of the WWE; Orton replied, “you did.”

 

Miz vs. Fandango w/ Summer Rae

 

Another unadvertised match that had absolutely no heat and probably attributed to bringing the crowd down even further. They got some “boring” chants and the “Randy Savage” treatment. Miz won with the figure-four; maybe they can blame this horrible match on Jim Ross as well. – Miz defeated Fandango via submission, at 7:52. – Nobody explained why this match was taking place and not one person in the arena cared about either guy. A complete waste of time and money. * ½ (The half star is for Summer Rae being at ringside).

 

No DQ, Handicap Elimination Match: CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman.

 

Punk came out with a kendo-stick and screamed, “Time to die!” Match started with Punk and Axel squaring off with kendo-sticks. Punk got the advantage and wore out Axel with the cane then took out Heyman with a tope; Punk put on JBL’s hat for a moment then tossed Paul inside the ring. Heyman begged for mercy and Punk gave the thumbs down signal of death; Axel saved Paul with a low blow and Paul fled back to ringside. Axel got the heat, as Paul hilariously shadowboxed on the floor; Axel pulled out a table, Punk avoided going through it, but Axel scored with a superplex. Axel rolled outside to avoid an elbow drop; Punk went for a tope, but Axel got a chair up that connected with Punk’s head. The commentators played up that the chair only grazed Punk; perhaps they were trying to get both guys out of “an undisclosed” fine. The crowd died during the heat, so Paul worked them back up; Axel landed more shots with the kendo-stick. Punk gained control of the stick and threw some shots then hit the GTS and applied the anaconda-vice to get the tap. – CM Punk eliminated Curtis Axel via submission, at 10:30. Paul’s eyes bulged right out of his head when Punk locked eyes on him; there was a brief chase then Punk trapped Heyman in the ring. Paul begged off and hugged Punk, who smiled then began to demolish Paul with the cane. Punk handcuffed Heyman’s hands behind his back then began to slam the stick into Paul’s stomach; “I’m tapping”, stated Paul, but Mike Chioda paid no attention to the verbal submission and let the beating continue. Ryback appeared and speared Punk through the table that was set up in the corner then he placed Heyman on top of Punk for the pin. – Paul Heyman & Curtis Axel defeated CM Punk via pinfall, at 15:45.

 

Ryback hoisted Paul over his shoulder and carried him to the back. Punk refused any help from the geek referees and doctor; the people chanted his name then Punk made his way to the back. – A decent outing here, but nothing special. I liked that they teased Punk getting to Heyman early with the tope then cut him off to build back up to it. However the elimination of Axel was pretty flat, most likely because the crowd didn’t buy for one second that Curtis had any chance of beating Punk and were virtually silent during the heat. During the TV build, I was afraid Axel would come off as an afterthought, which is exactly what happened. I was a little surprised that Ryback turned out to be the new Heyman guy, as “the big guy” had shown some potential in the charisma department recently. Still, Paul should do Ryback a world of good if he does all the talking for him; although the prospect of another Ryback vs. CM Punk feud is hardly an enthralling prospect. ** ¾ (Ryan’s Rating: ***)

 

US Championship Match: Dean Ambrose (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler

 

Ambrose planted Ziggler with a nice spinebuster early and got the heat, but the crowd didn’t care; Dolph landed a top rope X-factor for a near-fall. Ambrose avoided the Rocker-dropper and got a two count off a roll-up; Ziggler immediately came back to hit the Rocker-dropper for a near-fall, as Dean got to the bottom rope. Finish saw Dolph miss a splash in the corner then Ambrose planted Ziggler with his headlock DDT and got the clean pin. – Dean Ambrose defeated Dolph Ziggler via pinfall to retain the US Championship, at 9:45. – Match was fine, but the people couldn’t have cared less about this one. Some of them were probably regretting paying up to $200 for a ticket to this lamentable show. ** 1/2

 

Of all people, Sting was voted the best US Champion of all time over, Ricky Steamboat, Sgt Slaughter, Harley Race and Bobo Brazil; let the annual “is Sting coming to WWE” questions begin.

 

Tag Team Championship Match: Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns (C) vs. The Prime Time Players

 

Titus blew on his whistle, as the PTPS got a little shine in; the Shield isolated Young and got the heat. Titus came in off the hot tag and ran wild then got a near-fall on Rollins with the sky-high. The finish came when Reigns nailed Titus with a spear and Rollins made the cover for the three count. – The Shield defeated The Prime Time Players via pinfall, at 7:30. – Another nothing, Raw-style match here on Pay-Per-View. The PTPs seem over with a section of the audience, however the majority of the crowd appears indifferent to their act; so I guess they fit in with all the other babyfaces on the roster.

 

DX (HHH & HBK) topped the poll of greatest tag champs with 47%; the other choices were, the Road Warriors, Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs and Wild Samoans: laughable. The final voting of the night was for greatest WWE Champion and Hulk Hogan won with 55%. The Hulkster unbelievably beat Steve Austin, John Cena, CM Punk and Triple H, who hilariously came in dead last with 4%.

 

WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton (C) vs. Daniel Bryan

 

Orton got the heat early then Bryan made his first comeback with the running dropkicks in the corner and more kicks to the torso. Bryan landed a super-rana and followed up with a tope then rolled Randy back inside and came off the top with a missile dropkick. Orton went back to the outside, so Bryan delivered another tope; he tried for a third dive, but Randy cut him off with a forearm and hit the hangman’s DDT on the floor. Back inside, Bryan countered the RKO and dropkicked Orton into referee, Scott Armstrong, who took a bump to the floor. John Cone ran out; Randy went for the hangman, however Bryan fought out and applied the Yes-lock, but Orton got to the ropes. A trainer attended to Armstrong on the floor, while Bryan went for a super-belly-to-back. Orton fought out, only to be trapped in the tree-of-woe and Bryan drilled him with a running dropkick. Bryan delivered a spider-superplex then fired up and flew off the top with a diving headbutt, which got a two count. Scott Armstrong got back in the ring to take over refereeing duties and Bryan threw a series of kicks at Orton; Randy countered the big head shot with an exploder then set up for the RKO. Bryan reversed into a backslide for two then connected with the big head kick and set up for his busaiku knee. Bryan kneed Randy’s face off and Scott Armstrong made the fast count. – Daniel Bryan defeated Randy Orton via pinfall to become the new WWE Champion, at 17:35. – A good match, but nothing spectacular and not on the same level as their Raw main event. I also recall a match they had on SmackDown way back before Money in the Bank that way better than this. To be fair, with two more PPV matches ahead, the actual wrestling wasn’t too far off what it needed to be; sadly this show was in desperate need of a blow-away main event, which we didn’t get. I couldn’t get into the title-change because I’ve seen the Dusty Finish too many times over the years. In fact, if I remember correctly there was one just last year at Night of Champions with Punk & Cena. *** ½ (Ryan’s Rating: *** ½)

 

The announcers completely no-sold the fast count and Bryan celebrated with the belt; the title change didn’t get the monster pop it deserved, due to most of the crowd recognising the finish was likely to lead to an angle. When they grasped that angle wasn’t coming on this show they were happy, however even the most wide-eyed fan must have realised that something was going to happen the next night. Like I said, this PPV was a giant disappointment and was basically a commercial free episode of Raw that helped to keep moving the major angles forward.

 

RAW Ratings for September 16th 2013

 

Monday’s edition of RAW once again drew a good number in the face of a strong Monday Night Football game, drawing a 2.96 rating and 4.01 million viewers. They also performed very well in the 18-49 demo climbing throughout the night, with the final hour ending up third for the night. Whatever the case may be with the current creative direction, it seems as though, at least for the time being, the TV business is performing well.

Unfortunately, there is still a delay in the segment by segment ratings, so whilst we have the quarters for last week, the quarters this week are still lagging behind. However, we do know that the first hour drew 3.865 million viewers (1,664,000 viewers and a 1.31 rating in the 18-49 demo), the second drew 4.162 million viewers (1,842,000 viewers a 1.45 in the 18-49 demo), and the third and final hour drew 4.012 million viewers (1,956,000 viewers and a 1.54 rating in the 18-49 demo, placing it third for the night on cable behind Sports Center)

We will may have ratings for the September 9th and 23rd shows next week depending on timing issues.

WWE Monday Night Raw – September 16th 2013

Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland: OH

 

Show opened with a recap of CM Punk vs. Heyman and Axel, plus Daniel Bryan’s championship celebration from Night of Champions. Inside the arena, Justin Roberts introduced the new WWE Champion and Bryan hit the ring; the crowd were super into the new champ. Bryan soaked up the people chanting his name then he led them in a chant of, “Yes!” Triple H showed up and said he had to address the 800lbs gorilla in the room; the fast count. Hunter called out Scott Armstrong then showed footage of the normal cadence of Scott’s count, before he showed the fast count finish. Just to get his point across, Trips showed both counts side-by-side on a split screen and asked Armstrong to explain himself. Scott said, “I don’t know, it was a fast count”. Trips stayed on Armstrong’s case and Scott claimed he made a mistake; Hunter stated he had known Scott for 20 years and never seen him make a mistake like that, because “fast counts don’t just happen” then demanded to hear the whole story, Armstrong looked sheepish and uttered, “They got us, Daniel”. Bryan looked oblivious and asked what Scott was talking about. Triple H said “this changes everything” and sent Armstrong to the back then told Bryan he was ashamed of him. Hunter accused him of entering into a conspiracy with the referee to ensure a fast count and said he had no choice but to hold the WWE Title “in abeyance”. Trips told Bryan he wasn’t going to give the title back to Orton, however as of right now there was no WWE Champion. Bryan refused to hand over the belt, so Hunter stated that he had embarrassed himself and disgraced the title then told Bryan that, “I thought Shawn would have taught you better than that”. Trips instructed Bryan to hand over the belt, or he would take it from him. Randy Orton came out, but Hunter told him to calm down and once again demanded Bryan hand over the strap. Bryan looked longingly at the title then looked at the crowd, who chanted “No!” Bryan got in Hunter’s face and yelled, “No!” Orton hit Bryan with an RKO then Triple H picked up the belt and headed to the back. – Thankfully the Cleveland crowd were red hot for Bryan and the Dusty finish hasn’t appeared to damage his credibility, at least not in Ohio. Still, I have to question if giving Bryan the big title celebration twice only to take it away is a smart move. Surely if he wins the blow-off in the cell, that is where you want the giant, monster reaction all this had been building to and since the people have already seen him win the belt twice, how are they supposed to believe that the next time will be for real? I guess the real test will come with the ratings and buyrates, but if Cleveland is anything to go by, Bryan still seems hot with the live crowds. The idea that Triple H is really the one behind the fast count was only subtly played up, but dramatic irony in wrestling is a tricky thing to pull off since the characters are actually aware of their participation in a television show. It will be interesting to see if they can find a way to slowly reveal to the viewers that Triple H is the one that made the deal with Armstrong, before Bryan and the rest of the babyfaces figure it out. Of course, they could just gloss over the whole thing and book a rematch between Orton & Bryan (See SmackDown report).

 

Hunter and Steph were in the back when Orton approached them and demanded the WWE title be handed back to him. Steph stepped in front of Triple H and yelled at the top of her husky lungs for Orton to show some respect. Steph told Orton he deserved to lose the belt then asked him what happened to the old Orton: the “sick bastard” that handcuffed Hunter and gave Steph a DDT. She said until Randy finds that guy, they may have to look for a new face of the WWE. Steph walked away then Triple H told Orton, that “that’s the guy we’re looking for”. – I loved how Steph cut in front of her own husband to show who is really in charge. Randy got in her husband’s face, so she had to prove that she is the boss and even Hunter is subservient to the all mighty Stephanie. The days of the high-pitched, whiney Steph are long gone.

 

Non-Title Match: Dean Ambrose (US Champion) vs. Dolph Ziggler

 

Ziggler shone early and worked a sleeper; the heat spot saw Ambrose whip Dolph into the corner and Ziggler flew over the top with the Harley Race bump. Ambrose went for a bow-and-arrow that didn’t quite work out, however he recovered well into a Dragon-sleeper. Dolph landed a DDT for the double-down and made his comeback. The finish was a play off from Night of Champions: Ziggler missed a splash in the corner and Ambrose went for the headlock DDT; Dolph escaped and hit the ZigZag for the win. Dolph Ziggler defeated Dean Ambrose via pinfall, at 11:10. – Match was decent and had more heat than their PPV outing. This was the third show in a row these guys have wrestled each other and with Dolph getting the win, it’s likely there’s more to come.

 

Brad Maddox and Big Show were in the GM’s office; Brad told Show Hunter and Steph would be along shortly. After the break, Triple H booked Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns and Maddox told Steph that Dusty Rhodes had arrived. Steph buried Big Show for being “broke” and told him to stay in the office until she needed him.

 

Fandango w/ Summer Rae vs. R-Truth

 

Crowd chanted for Summer. The heat spot was stupid: Truth tossed Fandango over the top then rolled him back inside; Fandango cut him off and got the heat. Way to go Truth. Finish saw Fandango land his legdrop off the top. Fandango defeated R-Truth via pinfall at, 3:25. – Nothing match; the most entertaining thing, other than Summer Rae, was JBL singing along to Truth’s out-dated rap. “What’s up?!!!”

 

Dusty Rhodes was surrounded by some geeks in the back; then after a break the Dream made his way out to the ring. The crowd started a “Dusty” chant, but Big Dust told them he wasn’t there as the American Dream, but he was there as “Virgil Runnels” – Because this one’s a shoot, bro. He did a knock-off of his “hard times” promo then put over Cody and Goldust for fighting and standing up to the regime. Dusty said the love for his children was his business and he wanted to be the best at that then he called “Stephanie McMahon, Stephanie Levesque” out. Steph showed up, condescendingly applauding Dusty. She claimed, as a parent, she could relate to what “Virgil” said then talked about Cody’s wedding and handed Dusty a gift certificate for Bed, Bath & Beyond. Dusty threw the gift-card to the floor then Steph told him he would have the chance to save his son’s job, however Dusty had to choose which one got the spot; the good son Cody, or the screw up Goldust. Dusty asked Steph if she could choose her favourite daughter, but she told him to stop making this about him and demanded he make the choice between his boys. Dusty told her to go to hell; Steph said she was sorry Big Dust felt that way and the Shield’s music hit. The Shield surrounded the ring, but Steph held them back and brought out the Big Show; Stephanie told Dusty that since he couldn’t decide which one of his sons would get the job then he would choose to be either destroyed by the Shield, or knocked out by the Big Show. Dusty didn’t reply, so Steph ordered Show to knock out the Dream. Show made his sad face and said he couldn’t do it, so Steph told the Shield to attack. Show fired up and told the Shield not to touch Dusty. Roman Reigns grabbed some chairs and the Shield surrounded the Dream. Show agonised over his decision then he began to cry like a big sap; Show finally hugged Dusty and told him he was sorry, but had no choice. Show hit Dusty with the softest KO punch you have ever seen then he caught Dusty as he was falling; Show delicately placed the unconscious Dream on his back and sobbed over his fallen corpse. Steph and the Shield left; Big Show continued to blubber and some EMTs put Dusty on a stretcher. – Boy was this segment long. I hate the use of shoot names, it is so pointless and Russo-esque. Dusty’s promo was good (obviously) and Steph came off as the biggest heel in the company, even more so than Triple H. I’m not sure if that is a good thing, because unlike Hunter, she isn’t going to be working any matches. Show looked good when he fired up and told the Shield to stay back, however he was reduced to a blubbering softy again when he gave in to Stephanie’s demands. On the night Show finally stands up for himself, he will definitely get a huge pop, however the long term damage has already been done by having him cry at every opportunity and not standing up for what is right. I have no idea what it will take; I mean if he will punch a senior citizen in the face, what won’t the guy do to save his job? Again, none of the babyfaces cared to even show their faces to try and help the 67 year old Hall of Famer.

 

After a break, the EMTs put Dusty in the ambulance, while the rest of the locker room, who didn’t raise one finger to help, looked on; Show got in the ambulance and left with the Dream.

 

The Funkadactyls & Brie Bella vs. Layla, Alicia Fox & Aksana

 

AJ and Nattie were on commentary; Nattie’s headset didn’t work, but she carried on talking anyway, which was pretty funny. Finish saw all the women get in the ring for a schomz and Brie pinned Aksana with the X-factor. The Funkadactyls & Brie Bella defeated Layla, Alicia Fox & Aksana via pinfall, at 3:00. Nattie and AJ had a stare down, so I guess that the match for BattleGround.

 

Miz was talking with Brad Maddox in the back then after a break the announcers recapped the death of Dusty. They showed Damien Sandow winning Money in the Bank.

 

Rob Van Dam w/ Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Damien Sandow

 

Sandow got the heat almost immediately; Van Dam landed a hurricanrana for the transition to his comeback and got the win with the five-star. Rob Van Dam defeated Damien Sandow via pinfall, at 2:35. – Not much to this one. I’m not sure how this helps RVD with his programme with Del Rio; nobody in creative even bothered to write a thirty second promo for Van Dam to say he beat Del Rio and wants a re-match.

 

Cole announced Maddox had booked Orton vs. Miz; after the break Scott Armstrong was in the office with Triple H. Trips said WWE officials needed to have integrity and told Scott he had been a loyal employee, which is why he would receive a generous severance package. Armstrong tried to speak, but Hunter cut him off and explained he had to fire him. – It was clear that Trips didn’t want Armstrong to talk, because Hunter was the one behind the fast count. I wonder if there are people out there that still didn’t get the message after this, as it is painfully obvious. Still, as long as they tell the story logically, I have no problem with it.

 

Randy Orton vs. The Miz

 

Miz got a decent hometown reaction and he went over to his parents, who were at ringside. Orton jumped him before the bell then sent him into the steps; Miz’s parents watched on and tried to look concerned, well at least his mother did. After a break, some referees tried to get Miz to leave, but he refused and demanded the match start. Miz fought back briefly, but they ended up on the floor; Orton beat him down and both guys were counted out. Randy Orton & The Miz fought to a double count-out at 1:45. Randy continued to destroy Miz at ringside and threw him over the announce table. Miz fought back in front of his parents then clotheslined Orton over the barricade. Orton fought back and planted Miz with the hangman’s DDT off the barricade. Randy rolled Miz inside the ring and placed his head inside a chair then gave him a good Pillmanizing and dropped a knee on to it; Miz’s mom looked sad and his dad showed hardly any emotion. – This was a good, typical WWE angle. The story was told very methodically in order for everything to sink in and it was a nice follow up to Steph telling Randy to find his inner evil-self. Hopefully Miz will be out for a while and he can come back as a heel. Miz’s dad looked like one hell of a character and I demand he gets his own reality show on the E! network.

 

Ryback appeared on the stage; Curtis Axel wheeled Paul Heyman out in a wheelchair then went to the back like a geek. Paul announced himself as the “best in the world” and declared he pinned CM Punk; he added that he could say it as many times as he liked, because it was true. Paul stated he didn’t have a master-plan and Punk gave him such a beating he was confined to a wheelchair and it was a miracle that he wasn’t a “vegetable” rotting away in a nursing home. Paul said one guy stepped up, when all the other Heyman guys sat down and declared the actions of the “big beautiful man, Ryback” had saved his life. Ryback got on the mic and said he couldn’t just stand by and let CM Punk bully Paul, because he hated bullies. Ryback dropped to one knee and told Paul he never had to worry about Punk getting his hands on him again; Paul leaned in and kissed Ryback on the cheek. Ryback stated that he ruled and posed with his arms in the air. – This was fabulous and the kiss on the cheek was priceless; Paul Heyman needs to go in the Hall of Fame, like tomorrow for his brilliance. I had my doubts, but I think Ryback will do just fine as a Heyman guy; sure Big E or Wade Barrett might have been better choices, but Paul is so great, he could take Yoshi Tatsu and get him over as a diabolical heel. I also predict that it won’t be too long until Punk sends Heyman for a ride off the stage in the wheelchair.

 

Los Matadores vignette.

 

Number One Contender’s Match: The Real Americans vs. The Usos vs. Tons of Funk

 

No Funkadactyls again for the fatties. Cesaro rolled up Tensai to eliminated Tons of Funk in 4:28. After a break, the fans were going nuts and they showed Cesaro’s giant swing from during the break; the crowd soon lost interest and chanted for JBL. The Usos hit a double plancha, which got the crowd back. Finish saw Jimmy fight out of the ankle-lock and land a superkick then he went up top; Jey made a blind tag and Swagger hit Jimmy with an overhead belly-to-belly superlex. Jey flew off the top with a splash and got the three count on Swagger. The Usos defeated The Real Americans & Tons of Funk, at 13:10 to become the number one contenders for the Tag Team Titles. – Good action here and things picked up when the fatties were eliminated; the finish was also nicely done. Hopefully they will give the Usos a real push this time and not burry them like geeks.

 

Cole told us that Miz’s neck was not broken, however he suffered a damaged thorax; Lawler informed us that Dusty was not dead and his vital signs were stable. They showed a shameless self-aggrandising video about reading to kids then Daniel Bryan was walking through the back stage arena. A bunch of geeks wished him luck and Brie gave him a hug. – It’s only a matter of time until Brie gets dragged into this angle with Triple H and Steph.

 

Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns w/ Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose

 

Orton came down and took a seat at ringside. Bryan shone early with some kicks then went to work on the leg; he applied an Indian death lock and landed some ground and pounded forearms. Bryan went for a tope, but Reigns powered him up and threw him hard into the barricade for the big heat spot. Bryan fought out of a superplex, but missed the diving headbutt and Reigns got some more heat. Bryan did the Tiger-wall-flip and started his comeback with kicks; Reigns shut him down with a Samoan-drop for a near-fall. Bryan countered a powerbomb into a roll-up for two then scored with a head kick; Reigns rolled to the floor and Bryan drilled Rollins with a dropkick, which sent Seth’s head crashing into the announce table. It looked very painful. Back inside, Bryan hit Reigns with a running dropkick then caught Ambrose with one as well and applied the Yes-lock to Roman. Orton hit the ring to cause the DQ. Daniel Bryan defeated Roman Reigns via disqualification, at 18:15. The Shield and Orton put the boots to Bryan; Randy got a chair and set Bryan’s head up, like he did to Miz earlier. All the geeks that wished Bryan luck earlier, The Usos, RVD, Kofi, the PTPS, Ziggler, Zack Ryder, Justin Gabriel, R-Truth and others, ran down to make the save. A massive brawl broke out and the babyfaces eventually got the better of the Shield, who took several finishers. Seth Rollins was left alone in the ring and Bryan drilled him with the busaiku knee of doom. All the faces celebrated with Bryan then the PTPs hoisted Bryan on their shoulders, as he led the crowd in a chant of, “Yes!” Every single person in the audience lost their minds and the showed closed with the entire building chanting “Yes!” and with Bryan being championed by the rest of the babyfaces. – The match was good; the finish wasn’t the best, but the post-match angle was fantastic. Finally they gave the babyfaces some balls and had them fight back. I would have done this a little sooner and maybe even started with one guy stepping up first; that way, whoever stepped up first would have gained some momentum then he could have rallied all the other geeks. Still, this was a great way to end the show and the crowd went absolutely crazy. Although I have to question what all the guys that ran down to save Bryan were doing when Dusty got knocked out and Miz got killed.

 

All in all, I’d say this was a pretty good follow up to a lamentable PPV the night before. Of course not everything was perfect, like Van Dam not even mentioning he actually won the match over Del Rio, the seemingly backwards booking of Ambrose & Ziggler and of course the Dusty finish was explained somewhat dubiously. Nevertheless, the angle that closed the show was a real feel good moment and provided a great visual of everybody in the arena, including the rest of the babyfaces, championing Daniel Bryan. Stephanie put in a hell of a heel performance (take notes Dixie), even if the Dusty segment was melodramatic and a little too Sophie’s Choice. It will be interesting how they follow up next week; there are only two more Raws until BattleGround so I expect some sort of eight-man at some point. Maybe Orton & the Shield vs. Bryan, the Usos & Ziggler, which would be all kinds of fun. Although, I don’t have a good feeling about all the other geeks that ran down to save Bryan and I’m sure Triple H will make most of them look like utter jobbers before too long. If Night of Champions was just a piece of the puzzle, it was an indistinct corner piece that barely offered any idea of what the overall picture would be. Whereas Raw allowed for a couple more pieces to fall into place, which allowed us to get at least a glimpse of what the finished picture will be. Of course I’m not legislating for any “lost pieces” that WWE creative might “misplace” along the way.

 

WWE SmackDown – September 20th 2013.

US Bank Arena, Cincinnati: OH.

Ben Carass.

 

We got a recap of the fast count from Night of Champions and the follow up angle they shot on Raw. There was also another talking head from Triple H talking about Pete Rose being banned for life from baseball for betting on games then he said he would get to the bottom of the accusations about Bryan conspiring with an official. Next they showed the finish of Bryan/Reigns and the run-in from all the babyfaces to fight off the Shield.

 

Vickie Guerrero was in the ring and she introduced the “laughing stock of the WWE”; although first she mentioned Bob Backlund held the WWE Title for 2,135 days, CM Punk held the strap for 434 days and said her guest had won the Title at SummerSlam for 5 minutes then held it again for “21 hours 34 minutes and 32 seconds” after stealing the belt at Night of Champions. Daniel Bryan came out told Vickie he would rather have held the Title for one day than be a shrill, corporate suck up for his entire life. Vicke informed him she was his boss and said he had one more opportunity to come clean about the fast count. Bryan stated everybody knows he did nothing wrong, but Vickie claimed anyone with half a brain could see that he conspired with Scott Armstrong. Bryan emphatically stated that he kneed Orton in the face and even though the count was fast, the ref could have counted to twenty, because Randy was knocked out. He explained that he had no idea why Armstrong made the fast count and said he should still be the WWE Champion. Vickie called him a liar and told him she disagreed with Triple H’s decision to give Bryan a rematch at BattleGround then said she hoped Bryan never became the face of the WWE. Bryan replied that Vickie didn’t have any real power, so she booked an 11-on-3 elimination gauntlet match and explained that all the geeks that ran out to help Bryan on Monday would face the Shield 3-on-1 until they were eliminated. Vickie said Bryan would be the last man to enter the gauntlet and she cackled wickedly. – This was an OK opening segment, but having Vickie come out to punish Bryan felt way too contrived, as she is clearly just a lackey for Hunter & Steph. I’m usually a fan of Vickie, however her delivery wasn’t great here and she clearly had to do some overdub ADR lines, which always disrupt the flow of a promo.

 

Cole and JBL talked about the 11-on-3 match then talked about Heyman pinning Punk at Night of Champions. Naomi was in the ring after a break; Natalya was on commentary.

 

Non-Title Match: Naomi vs. AJ Lee (Divas Champion)

 

An inset promo aired from AJ; she said she would defeat all the Total Divas, starting with Naomi. Nattie claimed AJ took advantage of her in a very vulnerable situation at Night of Champions; Cole simply said, “but it was the rules of the match”. Nattie said AJ was jealous of the Total Divas for having one of the highest rated shows on cable; JBL said AJ is the Champion on the longest running show in cable history. AJ got the heat; Naomi made a comeback and got a near-fall off her butt-attack. Finish saw AJ get the win with the black widow. – AJ Lee defeated Naomi via submission, at 3:10. Nattie and AJ had another stare down. – Typical Divas outing. I know it has been happening for a while, but I really don’t understand why the commentators have to undermine and make their guests look stupid; especially when it is a babyface.

 

Zeb Colter and his Real Americans were in the ring; Zeb said Swagger’s opponent was a foreigner by the name of “Santino Marella” then wanted to know how Santino arrived in the USA and stated it was illegal to own a pet reptile without the proper paperwork. They did the, “We the people” bit and Santino came down.

 

Santino Marella vs. Jack Swagger w/ Zeb Colter & Antonio Cesaro

 

Swagger tossed around Santino and got the heat; the finish came out of nowhere, when Santino hooked a backslide and got the pin. – Santino Marella defeated Jack Swagger via pinfall, at 1:58.

– So much for my theory about heating the Real Americans up for a run with Los Matadores. At least Cesaro didn’t do the job again. Maybe Santino will get a partner to take on the Real Americans, but I hardly see the point since he has already beaten both of them.

 

Ryback came out for a match with a local geek; Curtis Axel wheeled Paul Heyman down to ringside. Paul declared himself as “the best in the world” then said he couldn’t have beaten CM Punk without the help of his “hero”, Ryback. Ryback stated that Paul didn’t deserve to be bullied then did the Steve Austin, “if there’s one thing I can’t stand…” bit and said he hated bullies. Ryback claimed his opponent had refused to give a child an autograph in the parking lot then told Paul he was going to do to the geek, what he intends to do to CM Punk.

 

Ryback w/ Paul Heyman & Curtis Axel vs. Nick Nardone

 

Ryback killed Nardone with a clothesline and hit the shellshock. – Ryback defeated Nick Nardone via pinfall, at 1:19. – I’m fine with Ryback going back to killing dorks, at least then we don’t have to witness more horrible matches. Paul’s promo was basically the same thing he said on Raw. Axel again came off as an afterthought and just stood there.

 

Randy Orton hit the ring for a promo. He said Bryan and Armstrong stole the Title from him, but claimed it was his own fault for letting himself be put in that situation in the first place. Randy stated he had been suppressing who he really was for two years, because he thought that is what the WWE Universe wanted. Orton said Triple H and Steph opened his eyes to what he needed to be then explained that he had opened the locked door that the evil Viper was kept behind and made an example out of Miz in his home town. They showed the Pillmanizing of Miz and his awesome parents; Orton said that was a warning to anyone that stands in his way. Randy closed by claiming he would annihilate Bryan and end the war at Battle Ground then vowed to regain the WWE Title, for himself and not for any of the fans. – A good effort at a callous heel promo from Randy, although he lacked the intensity of his old Viper character. Perhaps it will take a while for him to get back into the swing of being a heartless heel after nearly two years of floundering as a stock babyface.

 

11-on-3 Handicap Gauntlet Match: The Shield vs. Babyfaces that helped Bryan on Raw.

 

Vickie sat at ringside. Darren Young was out first; the Shield mauled him and Reigns hit the spear for the first elimination. Titus O’Neil was next and got some licks in, but was soon overwhelmed and pinned with the triple powerbomb. Dolph Ziggler tried his luck and used his speed to evade the trio briefly; the Shield outnumbered him and began a beat down, however Ziggler managed to comeback with some shots then he low-bridged Reigns over the top, hit Rollins with the Rocker-dropper and clotheslined Ambrose to the outside. Ambrose held Dolph’s foot from the floor and Rollins nailed him with a dropkick off the apron; Reigns killed Ziggler with a spear on the floor and he was counted out. Kofi Kingston showed up and took out Rollins and Ambrose with a springboard crossbody then drilled Reigns with trouble in paradise; Ambrose broke up the pin then landed the headlock DDT to get the pinfall. Rob Van Dam appeared; he fought off Rollins and Ambrose with his signature spots then went up top for the five-star. Triple H came out and Reigns shoved Rob off the top to the floor; Hunter demanded the match end and he yelled at Vickie to go back to his office. – The Shield defeated the Prime Time Players, Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston, before the match was ruled an apparent No-Contest. – As stupid as booking 11 babyfaces to get killed by the Shield is, I was actually getting into the match when Hunter appeared. Still, making the PTPS, Kofi & Dolph look like chumps wasn’t the smartest idea; why that was even necessary when Trips just called off the match anyway is a mystery.

 

Triple H was in his office with Vickie; he claimed Vickie’s idea to book the ten guys that helped Bryan in a gauntlet match was stupid, because that would just lead to another ten guys helping out. Hunter told Vickie she had no idea what was best for business then claimed that “fair, honest competition” was best for business. Trips told Vickie to book the Shield vs. the Usos and Daniel Bryan . – I get that Hunter came out to stop the Shield from being defeated, however I have no clue what his disingenuous fairness has to do with anything. Much like him booking no interference at Night of Champions didn’t make any sense, this again simply took away from Hunter’s heel promoter character that has been established by being indisputably unfair.

 

We got a recap of the “Virgil Runnels/Stephanie Levesque” angle then Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder were in Hunter’s office. Trips glad-handed them and said they didn’t deserve to be booked in the gauntlet match; Gabriel told him he appreciated the decision and Ryder stated they were looking forward to some competition then patted Hunter on the back. Triple H sent the two of them out to the ring and he said would provide them with some “fair competition”.

 

After a break, The Wyatt Family came out to take on Ryder and Gabriel. Cole acted like Ryder and Gabriel had no chance at all against the demented rednecks: JBL said it was fair since it was two-on-two.

 

Zack Ryder & Justin Gabriel vs. The Wyatt Family w/ Bray Wyatt

 

Ryder got a few shots in on Harper, until he ate a big boot. Gabriel threw some kicks at Rowan, but was quickly dumped over the top. For the finish, Harper gave Ryder a buckle-bomb and hit his discus lariat. – The Wyatt Family defeated Justin Gabriel & Zack Ryder via pinfall, at 2:10. Bray got in the ring and finished off Ryder with his Sister Abigail finish then got on the mic. He said they would keep putting guys down for Abigail. – The Wyatt’s have not even been involved in the McMahon regime storyline and even they have suffered a major lack of attention since this whole thing started. They debuted as a hot new act, but now they are just part of the show that, at least here, came out to do Triple H’s bidding. They need to be as far away from this angle as possible and should be in their own universe, being big scary destroyers every week, not just when it suits Triple H and the company.

 

Rob Van Dam was in the trainer’s room; Triple H entered and apologised for Vickie booking him in the gauntlet then awarded him a rematch against Del Rio at BattleGround, because he “deserved it”. Del Rio blind-sided RVD and put a beating on him in the trainer’s room. Rod Zapata and Charles Robinson showed up too late to help and Del Rio dropped a luggage case on RVD for good measure. – So Triple H is now prying his way into every major feud in the company? That’s exactly what we need, Triple H in more segments on our TV shows. This disingenuous fairness gimmick is hard to comprehend, especially since Trips was the biggest heel in the company before Night of Champions.

 

R-Truth did his rap and JBL sang along again, which is always comedy; they showed the whitest guy imaginable in the crowd dancing along and Cole desperately uttered, “Oh my god!” Alberto Del Rio came out and Cole tried to lead us to the conclusion that Triple H set up RVD for the sneak attack from Alberto.

 

Non-Title Match: R-Truth vs. Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight Champion)

 

Truth got the briefest of shine then Alberto landed a double-knee backbreaker and got the heat. Truth made a comeback and delivered a gourdbuster, however Alberto hit his step-up enzuigiri ; Cole told us that Dusty Rhodes had suffered a misaligned TMJ from Big Show’s KO punch, which is about as believable as a “damaged thorax”. Truth escaped the armbreaker and hit his axe-kick for a near-fall; Del Rio scored with a short superkick then locked in the armbreaker to get the tap-out. – Alberto Del Rio defeated R-Truth via submission, at 3:23. – Not a lot to say here; Del Rio beat a jobber. Cole was trying hard to make us think that Triple H had set-up Van Dam earlier then got bored and started talking about Dusty Rhodes.

 

The Shield were out for the main event; the Usos made their entrance then Daniel Bryan joined his partners. Cole said Triple H announced that Bryan would get a rematch against Orton on an exclusive WWE.com interview. This WWE.com interview thing has got to stop. There are 3 hours on Monday to kill, so why on earth should we have to go to the website to find out about developments in the major angle in the company?

 

Daniel Bryan & The Usos vs. The Shield

 

Bryan and the Usos shone early; the Shield got some shots in on the Usos, but the twins showed some fight and stayed in control. Bryan came back in to land some kicks to Reigns, but the Shield cut him off and got some false heat. After the break, Jimmy came in and tried to make a comeback, however Rollins nailed him with an enzuigiri and the heels started to get the heat again. The Shield isolated Jimmy in their corner; Reigns landed his jumping lariat then worked a chinlock and tried for a belly-to-back. Jimmy landed on his feet then dropped Rollins and Ambrose off the apron with right hands then he collided heads with Reigns for the double down; Rollins tagged in, but Jimmy delivered a full-nelson-bomb and made the hot tag. Bryan came in, dropkicked Rollins and Reigns off the apron then ran wild on Ambrose with his fiery comeback. He landed a super-rana, although Reigns broke up the pin, but the Usos low-bridged Roman over the top and Jey landed a plancha. Rollins also did a dive over the top and took out Jey then Jimmy delivered a slingshot moonsault that wiped out Seth. The finish came when Bryan locked in the Yes-lock and Ambrose got to the ropes; the Usos hit Dean with a double superkick from the floor and Bryan hit the busaiku knee to get the pin. – Daniel Bryan & the Usos defeated the Shield via pinfall, at 11:25 (TV Time). Cole put over the knee of destiny as the move that beat Cena and Orton then put over Bryan for the title match at BattleGround. Bryan and the Usos celebrated, as the crowd chanted, “Yes!” – A decent main event, but again it wasn’t on par with the previous Shield six-mans. Since Bryan got over in the first place in these matches with his great comebacks, I would have liked a little more when he got the hot tag here, but that’s nit-picking.

 

Nothing new from SmackDown this week, in that it was essentially Raw-extra; other than the main event, we didn’t even get any decent wrestling on the show. The announcements of the WWE and World Title matches were rather bizarre; I guess they did the WWE.com deal so not as many people could ask why on earth Triple H would give Bryan another title shot. If we go by Hunter’s story, then Bryan “cheated” his way to the Title, however the real story is Triple H screwed Bryan at SummerSlam and came up with a convoluted plan to ensure he could strip him of the belt after Night of Champions. Why Trips would reward a “cheater” is a good question, but a better question is, why he would book a rematch after all the trouble he went to in order to set up Bryan and made him look like a swindler? They tried to use the disingenuous fairness kick that Hunter has been on this week as an excuse for another Bryan/Orton match, but that simply is not enough to paper over the giant chasms of logic holes in this story. Triple H giving RVD another match with Del Rio was just unnecessary; Rob had every right to a rematch, Alberto didn’t pin or tap him out and Van Dam won the actual match. Why we needed Triple H to book the match is a complete mystery; I know Rob ran out at the end of Raw, but still the World Title programme should be a McMahon/Helmsley free zone – something that is becoming increasingly hard to find on WWE TV at the moment.

 

Bits & Pieces

It turns out that the SummerSlam buy-rate for this year’s show was down quite a bit from last year, only drawing 186,000 domestic buys, which could be a sign of many things. Although, judging by Daniel Bryan’s performance as a TV draw, I would guess that the problem was the build to the show, or Brock Lesnar’s star falling due to bad booking.

 

Unbeknownst to most, including myself, ROH’s Death Before Dishonor XI show, which was originally going to be available only on VOD, was put up for free as a live stream — and as expected there were technical difficulties. Clearly I didn’t watch the show for a multitude of reasons, but it is difficult to get upset with a free show, even if if the 404 errors and the like were probably a huge turnoff for most of the people interested in the show. The interesting thing was that the show was broadcast on Go Fight Live’s network, a company that ROH, as far as I could tell at the time, did not have the best of partings with.

 

The ticket prices for next year’s WrestleMania were announced this week ranging from $2500 for the first four rows, dropping to $850 for the fifth row, with the cheapest tickets costing $25.

I managed to see some of the Diamond Ring show from Korakuen Hall that we discussed a few weeks ago. I basically saw everything apart from the mainevent, which I will probably get to in the next few days. The show, from what I have seen, was fun, but the crowd wasn’t all that hot for some things that in many other promotions would have torn the house down. The semi-main, which was Kotaro Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru versus Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kota Ibushi, may have been out of this world in another building, because they did some great spots. However, the thing is that for whatever reason no one in the match could work around the lack of crowd interest, and somehow get them into the match. So, apart from a bit of work over the leg of Nakajima following a missed kick against the post, the entire match was very well put together from an athletic standpoint — not so much from a working one.

 

1. Battle Royal:

Black Tiger vs. CHANGO vs. Danshoku Dino vs. Kikutaro vs. Kyohei Wada vs. Michael Nakazawa vs. NOSAWA Rongai vs. Ryuji Hijikata vs. Yutaka Yoshie

DUD

 

2. Nanae Takahashi & Yumiko Hotta vs. Natsuki Taiyo & Sareee

** 3/4

 

3. Diamond Ring (Mitsuhiro Kitamiya & Satoshi Kajiwara) & Osamu Nishimura vs. Voodoo Murders (Kengo, TARU & YASSHI)

** 1/2

 

4. Burning (Kotaro Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kota Ibushi

*** 1/2

 

The Tanahashi/Devitt match at New Japan’s next iPPV, Destruction, has been made into a… LUMBERJACK DEATH MATCH. It makes sense given the recent interference from the Bullet Club, although I don’t know how well it is going to work within the context of Japanese pro-wrestling, if at all. The entire card is below courtesy of puroresufan.com:

 

NJPW “DESTRUCTION”, 9/29/13 (WPW/PPV/iPPV)

Kobe World Hall

0. Tiger Mask, BUSHI & Takaaki Watanabe vs. Takashi Iizuka, Yujiro Takahashi & YOSHI-HASHI

1. Special Tag Match: KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley vs. TAKA Michinoku & Taichi

2. NWA World Heavyweight Title: Rob Conway (c) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

3. Special 8 Man Tag Match: Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Captain New Japan & Mascara Dorada vs. Karl Anderson, Tama Tonga, Rey Bucanero & Bad Luck Fale

4. Special Singles Match: Toru Yano vs. Minoru Suzuki

5. Special Tag Match: Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Kazushi Sakuraba & Katsuyori Shibata

6. Lumberjack Death Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Prince Devitt

7. NEVER Openweight Title (vs. IWGP Heavyweight Title shot): Masato Tanaka (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito

8. IWGP Intercontinental Title: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Shelton Benjamin

9. IWGP Heavyweight Title: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Satoshi Kojima

 

Next Week’s Issue

Were you a fan of Ben steering the ship this week? You were? Well good, because expect more of the same next week as Ben returns with coverage of the next week’s edition of RAW leading into BattleGround, and your weekly RAW supplement, SmackDown. As far as anything else goes, I don’t have anything planned, as exam preparations are really beginning to kick into high gear, although that doesn’t rule out the possibility of a short piece or two.

 

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Ben Carass’s Twitter: @BenDosCarass

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