Cubed Circle Newsletter 163 – Survivor Series & The Final Hiatus Edition of 2014
This week Bryan Rose and Ben Carass return with the final hiatus edition of the newsletter of 2014, with Ben looking at Survivor Series, the debut of Sting, the RAW follow-up that may have driven him over the edge, NXT, and SmackDown, plus Bryan Rose covers more of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter year-end awards in his fourth and final installment of awards coverage!
– Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor
WWE Survivor Series – November 23rd 2014.
Scottrade Centre: St. Louis, MO.
Thirteen years after WCW went out of business and eight months after he finally escaped the purgatory of TNA, Steve Borden stepped foot inside a WWE ring, in full Crow Sting attire, for the first time ever. Sting appeared at the finish of the main event Survivor Series elimination match and helped Team Cena get the win by taking out HHH and placing a dead Dolph Ziggler on top of an even deader Seth Rollins for the pin. Presumably they are going with HHH/Sting at WrestleMania, which is fine I guess. If anybody can get something resembling a good match out of the 55 year old Borden, it’s HHH. As the years wear on and today’s WWE performers get more and more homogenised, there are very few moments left that truly feel special and historically important. Other than the Steve Austin comeback match, which gets more unlikely every year, WWE may have played the only real trump card they have left. I’m not saying the 2 million or-so WCW fans that never switched over to the WWF in 2001 are magically going to crawl out of the woodwork, that would be insane, but for many fans no doubt Survivor Series 2014 will go down as a memorable and historic night in the history of the business, even if it came thirteen years too late to make any real difference to the company’s bottom line.
The news of Borden’s WWE debut broke on Saturday night, after our last issue had already been published. So going into Survivor Series, to say I was down on the show would be an understatement. And in fact two hours into the free “PPV,” my scepticism appeared to be right on the money. They were stalling for time with promos, video packages and unannounced throwaway matches – the women got 14 minutes for their elimination match, which was an unmitigated disaster. Roman Reigns’ promo ability was exposed once again when they had the announcers interview him “via satellite”, even though he was backstage and, with one full hour of air-time left when the main event started, it looked for all the world that Survivor Series was going to go down as one of, if not the worst WWE show of the year. However, despite being somewhat of a cluster in some places, the main event and Sting debut saved the show from the inevitable online bashing that was coming its way. There was a lot riding on Survivor Series, what with supposedly a large number of people sampling the Network for free; WWE even claimed that some fans would be experiencing a live PPV for the first time ever. Now, think about that. What kind of “fan” would have never even purchased a single WrestleMania or Royal Rumble and why would any of these people be motivated to go to the trouble of signing up for a streaming service, which they then have to cancel to avoid being charged, to watch a show that on paper looked terrible? So let’s just imagine for arguments sake they had 200,000 people trying the Network for free and all of those people watched Survivor Series. Did the company put on a good show? No. Did they advertise anything to hook people into becoming full-time customers? No. Is TLC going stop anybody from cancelling? I seriously doubt it.
Pre-Show: I have taken to listening to Observer Live while the mind-numbing babble from the panel is going on – I love Paul Heyman, but there are only so many times I can hear Booker T say “shuckie duckie” or have to listen to Alex Riley spew out speciously scripted lines. Fandango pinned Justin Gabriel with his top rope legdrop in 3:16; nobody cared. Rosa Mendes was Fandango’s new dance partner and she was just as useless at that as she is in the ring. He had some new music, which killed the one thing people actually enjoyed about his act. Bad News Barrett returned from a five month layoff and stood atop his podium to deliver some “bad news” to whoever lost the main event. He said the Authority would make Cena’s life hell if his team lost then said if Team Authority lost, the WWE would flourish under a new era – the Bad News Barrett era. Jack Swagger w/Zeb Colter submitted Cesaro at 5:34. Match was OK for what it was, but how stupid do they have to be to have Swagger wrestle on a show that he was supposedly too injured to compete on a couple of weeks ago?
Main Show: Twelve minutes of talking opened this PPV. Vince came out with HHH and Steph then he introduced John Cena. Vince ran down the stips for the main event and Steph said that even if their team lost they would still be calling the shots from the WWE headquarters. Vince stepped in and told her that wasn’t what he had in mind then declared that HHH and Steph would still have “desk jobs”, but would have no booking power whatsoever. Steph sucked up to Vince some more and talked about spending the holidays together. Vince told HHH and Steph that he had so much confidence in them that he added a clause to the contract that the only person who would have the power to bring them back would be John Cena. Cena said there was “no chance in hell” of him ever bringing them back.
WWE Tag Team Championship: Gold & Stardust (C) vs. The Usos vs. Los Matadores vs. Miz & Damien Sandow – Miz & Sandow won the straps in 15:30. Decent opener, but nothing spectacular. They kept it slow early on and Sandow did his usual comedy on the apron. Crowd wanted Sandow to tag in, so they milked it as long as possible. Things turned up when the Usos hit a bunch of superkicks then did a pair of dives. Stardust did his falling star onto the pile then Torito landed a springboard dive and got some boos. Finish saw a tower-of-doom spot, with Goludst trapped in the middle of a belly-to-back superplex sandwich with the Matadors; Stardust came in with a powerbomb to the Matador on the bottom and Jimmy Usos hit Goldie with a Superfly splash. Miz posted Jimmy and Sandow tagged himself in to steal the pin. Miz was annoyed at first, but when he realised they had won he celebrated with both titles; he was roundly booed, however Sandow joined in and he was cheered big time. (** ¾ )
Adam Rose and the Bunny were playing with action figures in the back. Titus O’Neil and Heath Slater showed up and made fun of them and they decided to have a tag match later on.
Natalya w/Tyson Kidd, Emma, Naomi & Alicia Fox vs. Paige, Cameron, Summer Rae & Layla – Clean sweep for Team Nattie at 14:28. You could argue trying to cram four falls into 7 minutes would have been a bad idea, but you know what is a worse idea? Having terrible workers go 14 minutes. Tons of blown spots: Summer looked out of control and Cameron appears to be getting worse. Naomi also looked pretty bad and nearly took Cameron’s head off with a high-cross. Naomi pinned Cameron with a roll-up. Fox eliminated Layla. Emma tapped-out Summer with a Muta-lock. Story was it came down to Paige vs. all 4 faces. She tried to run away, but Emma threw her back inside and Naomi pinned her with a headscissors DDT type move. Tyson Kidd celebrated afterwards like he was involved in the match and was the best thing about this mess. – Awful. ( ½ *)
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt – Wyatt via DQ at 14:00. Really good match until the finish. They had an intense brawl and threw lots of punches and forearms. At 5:23 there was a brutal looking double clothesline on the floor. Ambrose went for the jawbreaker lariat but Bray countered with a uranage for a near-fall. At 10:52 Bray landed a stiff New Japan style lariat then gave Ambrose another uranage onto the steps; Dean kicked out, so Wyatt cut a promo on him and said it didn’t have to be this way and that they could rule the world together. Wyatt grabbed a chair and handed it to Ambrose and begged him to use it just like he did to Cena at WrestleMania. Ambrose obliged and the ref called for the DQ. Post-match, Ambrose destroyed Bray with chair shots then drove him through a table with an elbow off the top. Dean pulled out a ladder and climbed it; his music played, with Cole screaming that he had “buried” Wyatt, who was under a pile of chairs. – Really enjoyable, non-WWE physical match; I know they set up a TLC match, but we get enough lazy DQ finishes on TV and this one here ruined a perfectly good match. (*** ¼ )
Triple H gave Team Authority a Brave Heart speech about going to war; it ended with everyone chanting, “fight, fight, fight.” It was totally lame.
Adam Rose & The Bunny vs. Titus O’Neil & Heath Slater – Rose & the Bunny over in 2:36. A SmackDown match here on PPV. Bunny pinned Slater with a missile dropkick. Rose got hot at the Bunny stealing his spotlight. – Way to impress all those potential Network subscribers. (*)
The announcers stood up to interview Roman Reigns, who appeared “via satellite” on the Tron. Get a load of this line. Reigns said if he were there (which he was), he would, “cock his fist and make it rain in that b***h”. JBL asked about the Authority winning the main event; Reigns buried him for asking a stupid question and said he didn’t like Rollins and had some unfinished business with him. Reigns said he would be back in a month’s time.
Divas Championship: AJ Lee (C) vs. Nikki Bella w/Brie – Nikki won the title in 0:38. Brie got on the apron with the belt and kissed AJ; Nikki smashed her with her Lex Lugar forearm then pinned her with the rack-attack. So, Brie turned heel and did the same thing AJ did to Bryan at WrestleMania 28. If this Nikki/Brie program wasn’t already the worst feud of the year then this absolutely sealed it.
Team Cena (John Cena, Ryback, Big Show, Dolph Ziggler & Erick Rowan) vs. Team Authority (Seth Rollins, Kane, Luke Harper (IC Champion) & Rusev (US Champion) w/HHH, Stephanie, Noble, Mercury & Lana) – Team Cena won, with Dolph Ziggler being the sole survivor at 43:05. Very, very good WWE style rollercoaster main event; a little over-booked in places, but enjoyable overall. Show KO’d Henry at 0:50 and sent him packing. Faces shone for a while; Cena hit Kane with worse punches than the ones Bischoff took from Jay Leno. Harper and Rowan had a face-off but didn’t come to blows. Ryback did some power spots and went to hit Rusev with the shellshock, but a schmoz broke out. Rollins snuck in and curb-stomped Ryback then Rusev pinned him with a superkick at 8:10. Ziggler sold for a heat segment; Cena got the hot tag which led to a parade of finishers. Rowan backdropped Rollins over the top onto the pile then Rusev powerbombed Ziggler over the top onto everybody. Rusev set Ziggler up on the Spanish table and went for a running splash off the other desk, however Ziggler moved and Rusev crashed through the table. Ziggler beat the count; Noble and Mercury tried to lift Rusev back in the ring but he was too big and ended up being counted out at 21:00. Cena gave Kane an AA then took a curb-stomp from Rollins. Harper and Rowan finally got into it and Rowan landed a big spin kick. Rollins flew in with a springboard knee to Rowan and Harper nailed him with his lariat for the elimination at 24:14. So it was 3-on-3, Cena, Ziggler & Show vs. Rollins, Kane & Harper. Show and Cena faced off with the heels then Show turned and KO’d Cena; Rollins dove into the cover and Cena was gone at 25:11. Show shook HHH’s hand then walked out to be counted out at 26:30. It became the Dolph Ziggler show and he was great. He sold for a while then caught Kane with a Zig-zag for the pin at 29:35. Harper got some near-falls with a superkick and a powerbomb, but Dolph stayed alive and rolled up Harper at 31:35. It came down to Rollins and Ziggler; they did some more near-falls and got the crowd into it big time. Ziggler hit the Zig-zag, but HHH pulled the referee out. Dolph fought off Noble and Mercury, causing Stephanie to take a bump off the apron into HHH’s arms. Ziggler hit another Zig-zag and a second ref ran down; HHH dropped an elbow on him to stop the count then gave Ziggler the pedigree. Heel ref Scott Armstrong hit the ring to count Ziggler out, but the sound of a crow and the lights dimming apparently was enough to prevent the three count. The arena darkened and Sting walked out to some generic music; Cole tried his best to be Jim Ross and failed. Sting slowly walked down the aisle and punched out Armstrong then got in the ring for a stare-down with HHH that last nearly 2 minutes. Crowd went nuts. HHH swung for Sting, who moved and dropped Hunter with the Scorpion death drop. Sting placed Ziggler on top of Rollins, who by the way was still dead from the Zig-zag nearly 5 minutes earlier. The original ref recovered and counted the final fall at 43:05. (*** ¾ )
Sting walked away as the fall was counted and Cena came out to celebrated with Ziggler near the entrance way; I guess he couldn’t be bothered helping out when Dolph was being killed by HHH. Stephanie and Trips came to and realised what had happened. Crowd chanted “you got fired” and Steph pitched a great fit as HHH tried to comfort her as the show went off the air.
Raw Ramblings – November 24th 2014
Bankers Life Fieldhouse: Indianapolis, IN.
Sting was not on Raw, which is a good thing since the last thing they want to do is over expose him before we even get to Mania season. Although, they did open the show with a recap of his debut and he was referenced throughout the night. I wouldn’t even have him cut a promo until around March. You know who was on Raw though? HHH and Stephanie! Shocking, I know. The show had the façade of feeling fresh, with Cole constantly reminding us it was a “new era,” however they still fell into the same old lazy booking trappings and terrible scripting. Plus, by the end of the show, we had apparently been sucked into a wormhole and emerged in 2010.
There was a lot to get into on the show, so let’s not waste any time in getting stuck into another terrible edition of Raw. HHH and Stephanie came out for a farewell promo; it was long and boring. Gist of it was the WWE would crumble without them. Daniel Bryan returned to TV as the acting GM for the night; he “Yes’d” in HHH and Steph’s faces then called out the entire Team Authority. Bryan was super over, however he had to rattle off what seemed like 10 pages of dialog, booking every member of Team Authority in some sort of match or angle. First he booked Seth Rollins in a 3-on-2 handicap match against John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. Bryan gave the fans the choice to vote on the app for Rollins partners: Mark Henry & Luke Haprer, Mark Henry & Kane or Noble & Mercury. Noble & Mercury would win with 93% of the vote. Bryan made Kane “director of food and beverage” and a geek brought out some hotdogs and popcorn for “Concessions Kane” to shill. He told Rusev he could either defend the US title in a company-wide battle royal or recite the Pledge of Allegiance – neither of which ended up happening. Bryan booked Luke Harper to defend the IC title against Dean Ambrose then finally booked Mark Henry against Ryback. Bryan did an impressive job at remembering all that crap and came off as his usual likeable self, but even so it went WAY too long. Combined, the two opening segments went a torturous 30 minutes. As stated, Noble & Mercury, or “J&J Security”, were voted into the main event; Cena and Ziggler both hit their finishes on them and got the win at 9:35 of a forgettable match. Rollins tried to walkout, but Bryan showed up and threw him in the ring to take a superkick and an AA. Bryan celebrated with Cena and Ziggler then, out of nowhere, the Anonymous GM email alert played and the podium magically appeared at ringside. Cole did his, “And I quote” bit and said that next week the fun was over and order would be restored. Nobody mentioned that Hornswoggle was revealed as the Anonymous GM a couple of years ago and the show closed with the email alert sound playing over and over again like the computer had been infected with a virus. Lawler must have been on those nudie sites again.
Ryback attacked Henry from behind like a true babyface, posted him, and beat him in 0:55 with the meat-hook. Harper and Ambrose were having a decent little match and by the standards of this show it was probably the best thing all night. Since they have done almost every DQ finish imaginable, Harper shoved Ambrose into the ref and Ambrose won via DQ at 14:10. It was the laziest of lazy booking. Ambrose gave Harper his DDT onto a chair afterwards then Bray Wyatt showed up and beat the hell out of Ambrose. Wyatt tossed Dean over the announce table and piled a bunch of chairs on top of him, just like Ambrose did the night before. Instead of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, Rusev and Lana refused, so Sgt Slaughter hit the ring to try and bully them into it. Sarge got Lana to join in up to the “United States of America” part then Rusev put a stop to it and backed Slaughter up into the corner. Of all people, Jack Swagger ran down to make the save – that worm hole I mentioned earlier must have taken us on a detour to three months ago. Swagger went for the ankle –lock and Rusev eventually escaped. Bryan didn’t bother sending everyone out for the battle royal he promised, I imagine creative had completely given up caring about continuity at this point. As for Kane, well he was in the concessions stand for a couple of skits. A small woman, apparently his boss for the night, yelled at him and told him if any chips went missing it was coming out of his paycheque. Later, he sold food to kids, and when I say “sold” I mean gave it away for free. Santino Marella and Larry the Cable Guy showed up and wanted a hotdog. Kane squirted Santino with mustard and Larry dipped his hotdog on Santino then ate it. Kane said he was a fan of Larry. Ugh. Finally, Ryback was hungry and told Kane he wanted some tuna, a protein shake and some beef jerky. Kane threw a hotdog at him, so Ryback shoved the concessions table back then squirted Kane with ketchup. Kane ran away and Ryback grabbed a bag of peanuts and told Kane he “forgot his nuts”. WHO WRITES THIS GARBAGE?
Away from the tomfoolery of the supposed main eventers, we were treated to such gems as: Santino and Larry the Cable Guy doing some horrendous comedy. Miz & Sandow defended the Tag titles against Gold & Stardust. Miz & Sandow won in 10 minutes; Sandow was over, that’s the only good thing there was to say about it. Because they assume nobody watches the PPV pre-shows, we got a Fandango vs. Justin Gabriel re-run, complete with the same finish and embarrassing dancing from Rosa. What is this woman actually good at? Actually, I’d rather not know the answer to that. Get this one: Big Show came out and asked fans to just “forget” about him punching out Cena last night, which Cena himself apparently did because he was nowhere to be seen. Show explained that he thought his team was going to lose and made a rash decision. It may have been the stupidest thing on the entire show. Erick Rowan came down and Show made fun of him for liking the Grumpy Cat; Rowan said he didn’t like bullies and sent Show to the outside with a couple of shots. I am thankful that we don’t have to see Cena vs. Show again, but turning Show for the 30th time just to feud with Rowan seems pretty short-sighted to me. Heel Brie Bella beat AJ Lee in 3:25 thanks to help from Nikki. AJ told them after the match that “talent is not sexual transmitted”… Err. Tyson Kidd & Natalya beat Adam Rose & the Bunny. Santino & Larry were on commentary. I hated everything about this segment. There was a New Day vignette with all three guys and they will be debuting next week, however plans changed and they debuted on SmackDown.
That’s it, I’m done. Maybe I’ll be more motivated next week to write more about the show, however these Raws are gradually chipping away at my will to live and with that damn laptop in charge, next week’s Raw Ramblings might just turn out to be one long suicide note. Although, on second thought, I would hate for my friends and family to be forced to read about the antics of a man in a bunny costume during their time of grieving, so I’ll probably stick around. After all, I would hate to miss the Tokyo Dome show.
Bryan Rose on the 2014 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards Part IV
Another week, another look into the Observer Awards!
Best Card of the Year: G1 Climax, Day 8. And that wasn’t an easy decision, because most of that tournament was simply incredible. But 6 out of the 10 matches on that show I gave **** stars or more, so it kind of has to be like the best card of all time ever. I don’t know if it is, because there’s been bigger shows with a bigger atmosphere and all that, but match quality wise this was definitely one of the best of the year, featuring Ishii/Davey Boy Smith Jr., Naito/Goto, Archer/Styles, Makabe/Suzuki, Honma/Shibata, and Nakamura/Tanahashi all having excellent matches on a show if you haven’t seen yet, need to do so quickly!
Worst Card of the Year: WWE Battleground. Just a card designed to pass time, with no matches being really all that good. Miz won a battle royal for the Intercontinental title by doing a finish designed to troll people about getting Dolph Ziggler over. AJ Lee defeated Paige in their best of 10,000 series that I think just recently concluded. Seth Rollins defeated Dean Ambrose by FORFEIT after they threw out the match on the show, which left a lot of people very angry. Chris Jericho had a middling at best match with Bray Wyatt and the main event was every fatal four way ever conceived, featuring a bunch of people no one really cared about at that point, like a heel Randy Orton and Kane. The epitome of filler WWE booking, and this wasn’t even the fall yet when everything just simply fell apart.
Best Wrestling Maneuver: Will probably have to think about this one a bit more. Adrian Neville’s red arrow is pretty cool. Ricochet does a cool move every match he’s in. This one will require more in depth thinking, but if push comes to shove I’ll probably go with Neville.
Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic: Thiago Silva being reinstated by UFC. Not a wrestling situation, but if you don’t know about it look it up. Shows a stunning ineptitude on UFC’s part. But if we want to go the wrestling route, and the two situations aren’t even comparable, but having Big Show come out and telling people to chant “YES” because Bryan Danielson needed surgery only for them to use the chants in a badly edited segment with Vince McMahon announcing the WWE Network would be free for the month of November is really slimy. I don’t even think Danielson is getting surgery at this point. Though, given the recent news on a certain podcast this week, this is something that’s hardly surprising.
Worst Television Show: WWE Raw. Now granted, Impact was really bad this year. But Impact is bad a lot of times, and it’s a case of them never learning from their mistakes. Raw this fall has just been terrible. It comes off like a show where nothing matters, people coast along having long matches (often with hideous finishes because GASP someone might get over with a pinfall) and long talking segments about stuff that doesn’t matter because more than likely, the enlarged writing crew or Vince McMahon will forget about it the next week. Even at its worst, Impact doesn’t come across like this; it just comes across like a really bad show with zero quality control. Raw is coming across like this, but with the added feeling of nothing mattering, and we’re all being purposely trolled over a bad product (this past week’s ending of the show, for example). Raw’s creative lows this fall have really hurt my interest in the product after watching it for the last 15 years. But hey, there’s New Japan. And TNA somehow found a way to exist for another year. Hooray!
Worse Worked Match of the Year: Bayley vs. Eva Marie, NXT 8/7/14. Just a terribly bad match. I know it’s developmental, so of course you’re going to have matches that sometimes aren’t that great. But this was -** terrible. Eva Marie just has zero clue. And it’s not her fault, it’s the people who brought her up on the main roster the minute she got signed despite having zero experience in the ring. I don’t want to harp on it too much, but by the end I was thinking this was worse than the Sable/Tori match from Wrestlemania XV.
Worse Feud of the Year: Bella Twins. Ok, get this. Nikki turns on Brie at SummerSlam because Brie never helped her when Stephanie sic’d the rest of the roster on her. Despite being fired. Nikki then goes on to have horrible scripted promos in which she was mad because of all this petty crap that happened during high school as well as wishing she was never born and “wished she had died in the womb”. The Bella Twins are not actors in the least bit, so every week when they went out there and did a promo; it sucked. And the people not giving a damn in the audience thought it sucked. So they end up having their big match, in which the loser would have to be their servant for a month. Brie loses in a decent match, and in a segment later can be seen having a milkshake thrown on her by Nikki. You would think this would lead to weeks of Nikki coming across like a meanie, constantly having Brie do this and do that for her. But then again that requires thinking, something WWE doesn’t really do with their storylines. Instead, it switched to Nikki vs. AJ Lee over the Diva’s championship. The servitude angle never really went anywhere, and was dropped when Brie and Nikki pretty much just made up and dropped their feud altogether at Survivor Series because WHO NEEDS TO THINK IN THIS PROMOTION. It made zero sense, but then again it made complete sense because it’s WWE. Terrible waste of my and other people’s time.
Worst Promotion of the Year: WWE. For all the reasons above and then some. I know people will vote for TNA, and that’s probably who will win, but I won’t kick them while they’re down.
I will finish this FIVE WEEK LOOK into the Wrestling Observer awards next week. A little long, yes, but I have term papers and tests to take and do. Surely you understand!
WWE NXT – November 27th 2014.
Full Sail University: Winter Park, FL.
Tyler Breeze vs. Marcus Louis – Squash for Breeze at 2:58. Louis came out with a towel over his head to no music. Breeze was disgusted at how ugly he was and cut a promo about him looking like Gollum. Breeze took the towel off Louis’ head and buried him for being a freak then claimed nobody could ever love him. Breeze hit his spin-kick and referee, Drake Younger made the count. Post-match Louis shrieked and walked out of the building into the Florida night. – A weird deal. At first the crowd liked Breeze making fun of Louis, however he went so far with his burial that it seemed like they were trying to get sympathy on Louis. Either way, he lost a complete squash like an utter geek, so I guess it doesn’t really matter either way.
Carmella w/Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Leva Bates – Carmella over in 0:55. Enzo gave Carmella his big intro spiel then she did a brief promo about being the Princes of Staten Island. Crowd chanted for “Blue Pants” and Enzo brought out Leva Bates for an epic rematch, which Carmella won in no time at all with her wacky head scissors submission.
Finn Bálor was taping up his wrists in the back and the anonymous interviewer asked him about his match with Tyson Kidd. Bálor said Kidd liked to talk about his family’s history then stated that NXT is about the future and finished by saying that Kidd should send a DVD of the match to Uncle Bret.
Non-Title Match: The Lucha Dragons (NXT Tag Team Champions) vs. Jason Jordan & Tye Dillinger – Dragons over in 3:30. Basic stuff: Sin Cara sold for the heat then Kalisto ran wild, however for the second match in a row, the Dragons made the hot tag without using the standard double-down, which always gets a thumbs up from me. Kalisto did his usual flips then pinned Jordan with a shiranui. – As usual, Kalisto looked good; Sin Cara was just there. The situation with Rey Mysterio is a shame because if Kalisto is to ever stand a chance on the main roster then it would have been nice to bring him in as Rey’s partner, as on his own he could be viewed by the fans as a Mysterio knock-off. That’s not his only problem either, as I’m sure Vince will take one look at him and say, “I’m not putting that tiny guy on TV, dammit!” On a side note, I’ve said in the past that Jason Jordan looks like a clean Alistair Overeem, well here I noticed that Dillinger looked like a slightly more charismatic Jake Shields – not that it will do either of them any good.
A new Kevin Owens (Steen) vignette aired. It was really good. He talked about fighting for 14 years to get to the WWE and it showed pictures of his wife and child. Owens look pretty much the same as his indie run, complete with a sleeveless t-shirt that said “fight” on it. He said he would fight anyone and everyone to provide for his family and declared that he would change everything.
Bayley came out for a promo and talked about being bullied at school and how her mom told her to go back and stand up for herself. She also noted that Charlotte had told her to stay home because she would not be there to help, which the crowd laughed at since they had just seen Charlotte on the previous episode that was taped on the same night. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch showed up; Bayley tried to fight them off but the mean girls laid her out and some refs ran down to break it up. Bayley sold her knee and did a pretty good job of selling the knee.
Tyson Kidd was in the back with Natalya and the interviewer asked Nattie about his match with Bálor. Kidd interrupted her and Nattie told him she was “putting him over.” Kidd claimed he had been training with Uncle Bret and said he was the “New Hitman” then stated that Bálor was all hype. Nattie told him Bret was her Uncle too then tried to hug him, however Kidd said he had to go FaceTime with the cats! – Kidd is the best thing in the entire company right now and I hope so much that he keeps the “New Hitman” gimmick.
There was a wacky old-timey silent film vignette from the Vaudevillains. They basically had to stop the mini Lucha Dragons from blowing up a bank, however not before they did their training which included Gotch fighting a bear. It ended with the ‘Villains making the mini Dragons blow themselves up instead of the bank and they posed with some toy NXT Tag belts. It was funny, but didn’t really get much heat on the heels.
Finn Bálor vs. Tyson Kidd w/Natalya. – Bálor via DQ at 8:45. Puro fans would have been pulling their hair out: Renee was dropping Tokyo Joe references and Albert said that Bálor was a former “Triple Crown Champion.” Match was decent, but both guys are capable of much more. Bálor went for a dive and Kidd hid behind Nattie. Kidd got the heat and landed a tree-of-woe dropkick. Bálor made a comeback with a Pele kick and a brainbuster. Kidd avoided a double stomp and Bálor escaped the sharpshooter. Finish saw Bálor hit a PK then go for another double stomp but the Ascension hit the ring and attacked him for the DQ. The monster heels stomped him down then Hideo Itami hit the ring to help out. Itami and Bálor brawled with the Ascension and some refs, plus some jobbers ran down to try brake it up.
Well, there were only two things worth watching on this show: the Kevin Owens vignette and the promo from Tyson Kidd. The main event was fine, but clearly both guys were holding back, which isn’t a bad thing at all, especially since the match ended in a DQ and the story was the post-match brawl with the Ascension. It was weird that Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville weren’t on the show in some form, given that the Takeover is in two weeks. Don’t bother with this episode, just come back next week for the go-home show.
WWE SmackDown – November 28th 2014.
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum: Fort Wayne, IN:
Miz TV with the Big Show was the opening segment. Miz said the only mistake Show made was joining Team Cena and Show started to go into the same promo from Raw. Daniel Bryan quickly interrupted him and announced that he was running the show. He booked Ryback vs. Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper for the IC title; Miz told Bryan to stop trying to steal his spotlight and Bryan said that Sandow was already doing that. Big Show was unhappy about being interrupted and instructed Bryan to go to the back. Instead, Bryan booked a 20 man battle royal for the US title because Rusev failed to recite the Pledge of Allegiance on Raw; Show, Miz and Sandow were all participants in the match then Bryan brought out Erick Rowan as another entrant.
20 Man Battle Royal for the US Championship – Rusev retained in 9:19 (TV Time). Entrants were: Rusev, Big Show, Rowan, Miz & Sandow, The Usos, Gold & Stardust, Los Matadores, Slater Gator, Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, Justin Gabriel, Sin Cara, Jack Swagger, Adam Rose and Curtis Axel. Typical battle royal; geeks were out first. Show and Rowan faced off and Rowan dumped Show over the top then Rusev eliminated Rowan. Stardust threw Miz out, so Sandow eliminated himself. Final 4 were: Kidd, Cesaro, Swagger & Rusev; Swagger fought off all the heels and eliminated Kidd and Cesaro. Rusev superkicked Swagger off the apron to win the thing. – Things got good when it came down to the final four guys and I guess Swagger being the last guy in with Rusev means their renewed feud must continue.
Kane was at the gimmick table giving out t-shirts to kids; he had on a Daniel Bryan hat and a Ryback shirt. Santino walked up to asked for a t-shirt but Kane took his hat off and glared at him, so Santino screamed and ran away.
Bray Wyatt came out for a promo. He talked about the pain from the chairs that Ambrose dumped on him feeling euphoric and said the demons control Ambrose, but he controlled the demons. Wyatt claimed they had reached the point of no return and that TLC would change them then he said he would send Ambrose back to the dirt with the other insects where he belonged. – Decent delivery, poorly scripted.
Non-Title Match: Nikki Bella (Divas Champion) w/Brie vs. Emma – Squash for Nikki in 1:29. Thank goodness it is not 2000 anymore, because no doubt back then this would have been some kind of Thanksgiving gravy-bowl match. Nikki won with the rack attack, it was uneventful. She cut a promo on AJ Lee afterwards, it was also not particularly interesting. AJ stormed the ring and attacked Brie, as Nikki escaped. – The word was that AJ was done after Survivor Series and she is still around, however after the Punk podcast I can’t imagine she will stick around for the inevitable burial coming her way.
We saw a shot of Kane’s gimmick table destroyed, but he was nowhere to be seen.
Ryback vs. Seth Rollins w/Noble & Mercury – Ryback via DQ 9:38 (TV Time). This went way too long, although Rollins got a decent match out of Ryback. They did the Flair/Sting chops spot, with Ryback no-selling Seth’s chops and even beating his chest like the old Stinger. Ryback took the ring post spot for the cut off and Rollins got the heat. Rollins sent Ryback into the steps; Ryback got a powerslam in for a hope spot but Rollins cut him off with an enzuigiri and a superkick. Rollins got a near-fall with the buckle-bomb then Ryback came back with the meat-hook and went for his finish. Kane hit the ring with a chair for the DQ, but Ryback gave him a spinebuster. Rollins distracted Ryback and Kane hit Ryback with a big boot; Rollins handed Kane the chair and he wore Ryback out with it. Kane finished him off with a chokeslam onto the chair. – I can’t express how sick I am of these DQ finishes. DON’T BOOK A MATCH IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BEAT EITHER GUY! The post-match deal sets up a Kane/Ryback chairs match, which no doubt will set new standards for horrible plodding big man matches.
The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. Slater Gator & Curtis Axel – New Day over in 3:22. New Day came out shuckin’ and jivin’; they didn’t have the gospel choir – maybe they’re saving that for Mania. They did a few double team spots then, inexplicably, Woods sold briefly so the super geeks could get some heat. Kofi ran wild with his usual routine then Big E elevated Kofi into a dive onto all the heels on the floor. Finish saw E and Xavier hit Slater with a powerslam/DDT off the ropes combo. – Decent enough debut, I’m sure we’ll get the exact same thing on Monday, which was their original advertised debut.
Daniel Bryan was with Renee and he booked Kane vs. Ryback in a chairs match for TLC. Renee asked if he would be back soon and he chanted, “Yes!” Gold and Stardust did a goofy pre-tape about losing their cosmic key. Goldust closed by saying, “darkness falls on the New Day”, I have no idea why as they had nothing to do with them losing the tag titles.
IC Championship: Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper (C) – Ziggler by count-out at 8:23 (TV Time). They seemed to cut a lot of the match out during the commercial, as they came back from the break mid-way through the heat, with Ziggler posting Harper and getting a high-cross in for a hope spot. Ziggler soon made his comeback and got a near-fall with a DDT. Harper used the Traylor-slam for a near-fall then Dolph came back with a fameasser for another. Harper landed a big boot and a sit-out powerbomb, but Ziggler kicked out again. For the finish, they ended up on the floor and Ziggler landed a superkick then got back in the ring to beat the count. Harper tried to give Ziggler a belt shot afterwards, but Dolph countered and hit the Zig-zag. – Ziggler and Harper seem to have good chemistry together, so a PPV match between the two should be very good. It’s a shame that after they made Ziggler look like a star at Survivor Series he’s right back to a mid-card title feud, which he will no doubt lose.
It was nice to have Daniel Bryan on another show, however his presence did little to make SmackDown any more meaningful. Raw has been a terrible, wretched, at times offensively bad show for well over a month now; luckily, creative don’t put nearly as much effort into scripting SmackDown and as a result the shows are only completely irrelevant, instead of put your foot through the TV bad.
Bits & Pieces
Misc Star Ratings:
PWG Battle of Los Angeles Night 2 August 30th 2014:
Candice Larea vs. Rich Swann ** 1/4
Johnny Gargano vs. Chuck Taylor *** 1/4
Ricochet vs. Chris Sabin ***
reDragon vs. Biff Busick & Drew Gulak *** 1/2
Matt Sydal vs. Chris Hero *** 1/2
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Adam Cole ****
Kenny Omega vs. ACH *** ¾
Bad Influence vs. Young Bucks *** ¼
KAI vs. Masakatsu Funaki 02/15 ***
Masato Tanaka vs. Daichi Hashimoto 03/15 *** 1/2
Atsushi Aoki vs. Suwama 09/15 *** 1/2
Golden Lovers vs. Endo & Takeshita 09/28 *** 1/2
WWE Survivor Series 2014 – November 13th 2014:
Dean Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt *** ¼
Team Cena vs. Team Authority *** ¾
Next Week’s Issue
Next week we return with our first non-hiatus edition of the newsletter in months, which means a return of the ratings, more features, and more! Plus, a very strong possibility of the return of our good friend the technical difficulty, as my computer is busy downloading months worth of updates, perhaps as you are reading this, which brings with it a distinct possibility of me breaking everything. Plus, Ben Carass returns with his suicide note RAW report, Bryan Rose with his FINAL LOOK at the 2014 Wrestling Observer Awards, announcements, and more in the Ben Carass memorial issue next week’s newsletter!
General Questions/Feedback/Suggestions: Ryan@cubedcirclewrestling.com
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Bryan Rose’ Twitter: @br26
Ryan Clingman’s Twitter : @RyanClingman