Cubed Circle Newsletter #97: SummerSlam 2013 In-Depth, Post-SummerSlam RAW, AWESOME NXT MATCH, Daniel Bryan + More!

Cubed Circle Newsletter — SummerSlam 2013


This week we look at the 2013 SummerSlam pay-per-view, plus all of the consequences from that show, Mark Robinson talks about fans trying to get themselves over, we review the post-SummerSlam RAW, the good ratings that it did, Ben Carass takes a look at what was apparently an amazingly great match, iMPACT being iMPACT and Ben Carass looks at SmackDown. And with all of that out of the way, I hope that you have a great week and enjoy the newsletter!


–Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor


For a full colour PDF with pictures click here. 


SummerSlam 2013 — Two Great Matches, A Controversial Finish


Last Sunday the WWE ran what will most likely land up being it’s second or third largest show, behind WrestleMania and perhaps the Royal Rumble, this year. It was a two match card, but luckily for the show as a whole those two big matches, CM Punk versus Brock Lesnar and John Cena versus Daniel Bryan, delivered on all that they had promised. Apart from a good Christian/Del Rio match the rest of the card ranged from average to in some cases very bad, but few are probably willing to contest the quality of the show. Those that are, probably did so due to the mainevent finish, which has become the largest talking point coming out of the show.


By the middle of last week, perhaps even sooner, news was out that John Cena would be having triceps surgery, and that the fluid build up in his elbow was a result of that injury. I was unaware of the exact time period that he was set to be out, either due to negligence while reading stories, or simply due to the information only being presented during RAW, but I didn’t realize how big of a deal this surgery was for the company. However, even without the ETA in mind, it was clear that Cena wouldn’t be walking out of SummerSlam as champion, or the post-SummerSlam edition of RAW if he was to hold onto the title at SummerSlam. It was for that reason that during the final stretch leading into SummerSlam there was quite a lot of intrigue when it came to how they were going to switch the title.


It clearly wasn’t a Money in the Bank 2011 kind of speculation, but it was akin to some of the special intrigue headed into the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view last year (Punk vs. Ryback I), or even a show like the Royal Rumble this year. The general consensus for quite a few weeks was that Orton would be cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase after Bryan had won the title, but that scenario was far from absolute. They were building the possibility of a cash-in so much so that many people thought that a swerve just had to be coming in some form or fashion. Some thought that Daniel Bryan would win the title and go on his merry way, others believed that he would win the title and Orton would cash-in on RAW, but regardless there were many different scenarios floating around.


I was more on the side of Orton not cashing in at the show, although I did see it as a distinct possibility. It turns out that I was incorrect from that standpoint, but I was correct when it came to the match structure for the most part. On the go-home show for SummerSlam Cena and Bryan had a great face to face promo segment, which had one huge match related take home point, and that was somewhere in the SummerSlam match, probably towards the end, Bryan would be slapping Cena. You see, they were going with a Japanese story by explaining exactly what they do in Japan. They had Bryan explain that in Japan the slap is used as a way to fire another wrestler up, but Bryan didn’t want to slap Cena as he didn’t respect him as a wrestler. Well, by the end of the match he did, and he actually won the slap battle, which was actually one of the things that I was looking forward to most on the pay-per-view. Unfortunately, it didn’t get the reaction that I had hoped. Still, it got a very good reaction, and that was the case for the entire match, which went over 25 minutes and ended with Bryan pinning Cena clean in the middle of the ring with a KENTA style running knee to the face. Putting Bryan in a very select class of performers over the last eight years or so who have been able to put Cena away clean.


Apart from the slap exchange mentioned above there were several spots, such as a tope that Cena countered with an elbow, big lariats, a spider suplex from Bryan, and a slightly botched Styles clash from John Cena that came straight out of the realm of Japanese pro-wrestling. And those unique spots coupled with the Japanese influence and hot crowd blended to form one of the best WWE matches that we have seen all year. The match was worth it for the finish of course, which saw Bryan celebrating in the ring amongst confetti, fireworks, and pretty much everything else that you would have expected them to have done in order to have made the win feel the like a big deal. However, in the end this celebration was only really used to suspend the disbelief of many, as Orton came down with the briefcase. The real key was that Triple H was incredibly inconspicuous during the match, not even participating in the usual confrontation spots that you see in most high profile special referee matches. He was just in there and counted the finish. But, when Orton made it down it was Triple H who laid a fired up Bryan out with the pedigree in order for Orton to make the cover, and therein lies the split.


In last week’s issue my big point against an Orton cash-in after Bryan won the title was that the people would want that title win less than they did before, and while I don’t know if that is the case, the way that they conducted the finish still has some very distinct positives and negatives. Firstly, I don’t have a problem with the Triple H pedigree, and the fact that Orton was not the one to land his finish on Bryan, after all it was after a long war of a match, and if they had Orton simply lay Bryan out with the RKO it wouldn’t have had the same effect. If you look at it so many people have cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase using that exact same line of thinking, in fact I would guess that the majority have done so in that way; and that means an Orton cash-in, RKO and pin wouldn’t have had the same effect. The second point is that the power hungry, ego maniac, heel authority figure is what the Triple H character has become in this role, so doing this only accentuates those qualities, and was one of the only ways to really get it over in a very strong manner right out of the gate. If I were booking the finish would I have done it that way? No, I would have probably had Bryan kick out, and then have Orton hit his finish, but the real question is whether or not I would have done that finish in the first place.


Given that we are in the first week of this heel McMahon family angle, it is very difficult to say whether this is the right move or not, and it pretty much all depends on where they go from here. However, when looking at what WWE has done in the past with angles of this sort, I think that we can make some good approximations of exactly how high they are going to go with this angle.


On Monday’s edition of RAW it was clear that they were trying to build Bryan up as a Stone Cold Steve Austin esque character fighting against Vince, or the McMahon family in this case. Or, if you want to look at it from another perspective, Mick Foley against the Corporation. Out of the two I think that I actually find the later more comparable, simply because at this point the McMahon’s are pointing out many of Bryan’s flaws and why he should not be champion, which is more indicative of the Foley angle. It’s also safe to say that they are trying to place Orton in a similar role to the Rock, or Orton during his big 2007 heel title run, which I was a big fan of. Obviously, the success of this angle is based on far more than simply how long they wait between this SummerSlam cash-in and the rematch, but I believe that it is a major factor.


It is very clear that from an angle perspective they can’t have Bryan challenge for the title straight away, as it will create many a logical inconsistency, particularly when it comes to the question of why exactly the McMahons would take the risk of giving Bryan yet another title shot. The other big note is that the idea is, and has been for months, that they are going to be doing a Vince face turn to go up against Triple H with the ownership of the company at stake at WrestleMania — something that feels like a slight rehash from 2011, but regardless. And with the current Bryan character there are some ways that they could use that angle to build a new star.


Many have said that all of the ideas that fans had proposed at the start of the Invasion angle turned out better than what the WWF actually did, and the same can be said for the Punk angle in 2011, but without going on a fantasy booking tired, here is what I would do. As I stated above it would be stupid to have Bryan go after the title so soon, and you can’t just take him off of TV, because they are short on top stars with Cena gone. So, I would have the McMahons make Bryan jump through hoop after hoop, possibly get into a program with the Shield placed in a mainevent position, and extend that out to at least October. You would continue to delay Bryan in the mainevent picture, even if you had to bring some guys in. Finally, after Bryan gets his big win for a title shot, he is “let go”. You would then have Vince turn face, exhaust all of his possibilities of everyone else against Orton, and have Orton burn through everybody. Before the Royal Rumble Vince would somehow, either by phoning Bryan backstage in a vague manner or by others means, and sign Bryan on his terms, and say that he would see Bryan at the Rumble…maybe. Finally, Bryan would show up and win the Rumble in order to set up for a big Mania match.


Now obviously none of this has any chance of happening, but the point is that you could do some interesting things with Bryan chasing the heel champion in Orton. However, I have a sinking suspicion that we are seeing a repeat of the Summer of Punk in 2011, in the way that these angles are being prioritized. Most people would agree that the 2011 Punk angle was likely the hottest that the WWE has made one single star in years, and while most remember the way in which they dropped the ball on the angle by having Punk come back too early, most don’t remember one of the exact reasons for the rush.


The Money in the Bank show took place on July 17th 2011, and the finish of that show featured Punk walking out with the WWE title in one of the best pay-per-views that the WWE has ever put on. However, what many people forget is that the next night on RAW they started an angle where Triple H relinquished power from the hands of Vince in an angle that was forgotten a few short months later. The key point here is that for the next few months it was not the Punk angle, or even CM Punk himself that were made the centerpiece of the company, but a floundering McMahon angle; and that is what I am afraid this run will become. The McMahon angle from the point of the creative, and obviously the people on top, is the main angle, so if Bryan isn’t at the top of that, then I am afraid, like the Punk angle, many people will ask the question of why they had Orton cash-in in the first place.


That isn’t to say that Bryan won’t be a star on the level of Punk, but I could see this cash in and angle being viewed as a ball that was dropped by the WWE in the same way that Punk’s post-Money in the Bank run was, because Bryan is hotter than anyone in the company right now. Of course, I could be wrong, and maybe with the absence of a top star like Cena they will make Bryan into one of their top tier level stars with this angle. I just hope that it works out.


The other big SummerSlam match was Brock Lesnar versus CM Punk in a war of a completely different kind. Whilst the Bryan/Cena match was very much a ring based war in the way that you would view a big time New Japan match, Lesnar and Punk was on the other side of the spectrum. Brock/Punk was made a no disqualification match on the pre-show, which felt rushed, but in the end the match was better for it. As has been the case with most of Lesnar’s matches since he has returned, he simply destroyed Punk for most of the match. It built really well, and Punk who looks like he looks, attempting to slay the monster in Lesnar made for a great story that the crowd at the Staples Center really bought into. The end of the match saw a lot of interference from Heyman, almost too much so, and in the end Brock got the win with an F5 on a steel chair. This was the right finish as they should come back with a second match before they beat Lesnar. I know that many people were split on which match they liked better, but I was personally a bigger fan of the mainevent, although this match was still incredible. I know that out of the two matches this one was the one more heavily favoured in the back, as both men received standing ovations upon making it back through the curtain.


The big question when it comes to Punk, is where to from here? They can’t go straight back to a Lesnar match, nor would they want to, and while it looks like they are going with an Axel program, I don’t know how long they will be able to sustain it without having Punk finally get his hands on Heyman. They could always add another member to the Heyman group, which definitely seems to be the right direction, but it needs to be the right kind of person, and I don’t even know if Axel is that kind of guy to be honest. Still, Axel has potential, and working with Punk could be the best thing for him, so an Axel/Punk program may be the right move after all.


The other good match on the show was Christian/Del Rio for the World Heavyweight title, a match that with a few more minutes could have reached the great level. Pretty much the entire match was comprised of Del Rio working over the shoulder of Christian, with Christian finally landing a spear that he had been attempting the entire match, only to be unable to make the cover due to the shoulder work. This allowed Del Rio to grab the armbar for the submission victory. Before RAW I would have asked the same question for Del Rio that I asked for Punk. However, from what we saw on RAW it looks like Del Rio is going to be placed in a program with Rob Van Dam with Ricardo Rodriguez as his manager. You have got to think that the Van Dam/Del Rio pairing is a short term move, although they certainly have a thing or two things in common. To be honest they should have probably gone with this match before Christian, as Van Dam has returned as a very over act, and you don’t want to wait for that crowd enthusiasm to die down before you make the match between the two.


There is one other match that some people will remember this year’s SummerSlam for, although not for any good reasons, as Kane took on Bray Wyatt in a ring of fire match. While most inferno matches that I have seen weren’t the greatest in terms of ring work, at least they could build to something, in this match there really was nothing. The flames were low and only really popped up during big spots, and because the ring was surrounded by fire they couldn’t really hit the ropes all too well. Wyatt was also pretty slow and clunky, which is strange given that he is a good worker, but for whatever reason he didn’t have it on the night. The finish was even more idiotic, as they had the Wyatts throw an asbestos blanket over the fire in order to storm the ring and interfere in the match. The entire thing was a mess, which puzzles me even more, as the Shield has seemingly been pushed to the wayside to make space for the Wyatts (obviously the actual cause has been politics/bad booking more than anything else), a team that doesn’t possess half the potential as a mainevent act.


The rest of the card wasn’t noteworthy at all, but that didn’t really matter, as the top three matches made up for it in a manner that ultimately made for one of the better WWE cards of the year…a very good show.


Mark Robinson on Terrible Fans Being Terrible


Although we have a lot of great things going on in wrestling at the moment between the G-1 Climax, Summerslam being GREAT and Darren Young feeling confident and comfortable enough to be open about his sexuality; my topic for this week is still one shrouded in negativity, unfortunately.


I was reading up the results about ROH’s Manhatton Mayhem V show from this past weekend. On paper it looked like a pretty solid line-up and reports seem to say it was an enjoyable show. The thing that caught my eye though, was multiple reports discussing how parts of the audience were more interested in getting themselves over; Chris Benoit got a mention, people were shouting out stuff about Summerslam and there were other comments regarding WWE.


Sadly, none of this surprises me, as I’ve attended a whole bunch of events on different continents over the last few years, and it just seems to be impossible to attend a show these days without having to deal with the usual morons who are more intent on getting themselves over.


The worst, the absolute WORST case of this I have encountered, though, was during Wrestlemania weekend this year. ROH ran two nights at the Hammerstein Ballroom, and I was lucky enough to get a ticket, and also to watch with some very good friends. And perhaps it’s my fault for letting idiots get to me, but I had a nightmare getting into the show due to moronic chants not unlike the ones heard this past weekend (just swap Summerslam with Wrestlemania). Although this did mean I was present to Alan ‘4L’ Counihan cutting a promo reminiscent of Joey Style’s pre-Barely Legal ’97.


And call me out of my mind, but I would argue that it’s the single biggest reason that PWG is the more favorable independent company in North America today. Sure, there are the few idiots who have the same idea on getting themselves over (you have alcohol in the building, you have to deal with this) but A) by and large, a lot of the stuff is usually funny, and B) if it isn’t, you have to deal with Kevin Steen, who will end up making it funny at that persons expense.


I don’t really want to go on about it too much, because there isn’t all that much else to say. WWE are in the position that they can throw people out of the building that are ruining the show for others, ROH simply can’t afford to do the same sort of thing. And I’m not saying it’s the entire ROH audience of course, it’s the New York market that is so miserably insufferable.


It’s not all perfect on this side of the pond as well. The two main promotions in the UK that I typically attend attract two very different audiences. One has a more ‘family friendly’ atmosphere to it, while the other… doesn’t. I’ll let you figure which one is more to my liking. And no doubt some people will just tell me that I’m simply no fun (which is true I’ll admit), that doesn’t take away that spending more time trying to get yourselves over, is a slap in the face to the wrestlers in the ring trying to entertain you.


Of course I shouldn’t let it get stuck in my craw, but if my mind worked like yours, I’d have topped myself years ago.


So anyway, go to events, have fun; just don’t be complete morons, please? Ok?


Thankfully, ROH’s ambient mic set-up is rubbish, so most of the drivel is inaudible. And seeing as I’ve banged on about the audience, I should point out the show itself is a lot of fun and worth checking out. Steen and Strong have a hell of encounter; the Bucks and Forever Hooligans is the spectacle you’d expect it to be; and the tag title match between reDragon (I think that’s the spelling, I’m really not that fussed to look) and American Wolves still suffered from FAR TOO MANY MOVES IN SUCH A SMALL PERIOD OF TIME, like Davey Richards’ matches tend to do, but was still a hard-hitting, well-fought and well-executed affair. It could have used about a third less of the moves applied, and would have still been a gripping encounter, but it would be unfair to not appreciate the work that these four men brought to the table.


So please: go to wrestling shows, have a good time, just don’t be an idiot.


Thanks! Mark




WWE SummerSlam August 18th 2013

Staples Center, Los Angeles, California


Overall Thoughts:


As a whole this SummerSlam show was a lackluster event with one good match, and two outstanding ones thrown on top of it making for a good show. I know that many people were higher on WWE’s Payback show, and even Money in the Bank, but from my point of view this SummerSlam show was probably on par with those two shows for WWE show of the year. Sure, there was a lot of bad here, but the Lesnar/Punk and Daniel Bryan/Cena matches were both outstanding in their own unique ways. The Lesnar/Punk match was more of a brawling war, and the mainevent was a war of its own kind. Feelings going out of the show were mixed, because as many had predicted Orton left with the title, but in the end that is their direction, and given that they would be going in that direction no matter what, I think that they did a good job at pulling it off.




Booker T, Josh Matthews, Vickie Guerrero, and cave man Shawn Michaels were in the booth. Michaels looked so ridiculous in his camouflage. They discussed the Wyatt and Ambrose matches before cutting to Renee Young in the ‘Social Media Lounge’. They then asked for tOuts for the first time in a while. There was a fantastic Heyman/Punk promo with a lot of clips from the CM Punk DVD…if anything on this pre-show was going to earn them extra buys it would be this. Heyman appeared for an interview backstage. Matthews attempted to make a David vs. Goliath comparison. Heyman stopped Josh and said that it was nothing but a story meant to instill hope, but there was no hope in this world, and the entire story was a farce. What actually happened was that Goliath destroyed David. Heyman then announced that the match would now be no DQ, which really should have been announced on TV, and it is pretty obvious that this was a last minute decision. Tony Dawson was standing by with some people from Ireland who had traveled all the way for the show. They claimed that Total Divas was a critical success, which is a complete lie. A promo for total Divas aired. There was a recap of the Ziggler/AJ angle followed by one for the WWE Title match, they used the opening instrumental for the old WWECW theme song for the first few seconds. Michaels was asked about training Bryan. Dawson stood by with some Canadian fans. Next up was the US Title match with about 27 minutes left — Ambrose versus RVD. There were some big RVD chants early, but they soon turned mixed. Van Dam was going to hit his five star frog splash, but the Shield’s music hit and out they came, which was so hokey given that Van Dam had to freeze on the top and then drop down. Henry and Big Show came out next. Things were strange considering that the singles match continued. Van Dam landed the frog splash, but Reigns ran in with a spear setting up a six man for down the line I would expect. There were some perfectly fine tOuts. They showed the fire equipment getting set up and a Wyatt video aired. The fire was on, which led into the intro for the PPV.




Miz made it out as the host for the show. And he ran down the top matches. Fandango interrupted to some moderate Fandangoing; a trend that we would see throughout the night. It led to a cheesy Hollywood style opening video. JoJo of Total Divas fame was out to sing the national anthem.


1. Ring of Fire Match

Kane vs. Bray Wyatt w/ Luke Harper & Eric Rowan


Wyatt was wrestling in a tank top. Not only was the ring surrounded by fire, but like in the inferno match, the flames peaked for all of the big spots. However, when nothing was going on, which was for most of the match, the flames looked outlandishly tame. Cole claimed that we had never seen a match in this environment…except for the half a dozen or so inferno matches right? Harper attempted to throw a kendo stick in, but the flames raised and lit the stick on fire. The Wyatts laid a fireman out on the floor and tried to extinguish the flames, but they came back up. Kane landed a chokeslam. Then things just broke down. Harper and Rowan grabbed an asbestos blanket lying on the outside, and with the aid of the steps marched into the ring to Undertaker chants. Wyatt then landed his neckbreaker for the win. You really have to ask yourself what the point of any of this was, given that they had interference in a match contested in a ring surrounded by FIRE. If they really wanted to have the Wyatts run in, couldn’t they have done some Hollywood gimmicks and had them walk through the flames? On top of that Wyatt was slow, and the match was clunky. After the match they draped Kane over the steps and then dropped the other half on Kane like a guillotine. The problem with this spot was that you could clearly see the gap in the steps, so it really seemed like a nothing spot. The lights went off after Wyatt lit his lantern and made it out with Kane’s corpse, which was interesting. I assume that Kane will return as a member of the Wyatts after filming ‘See No Evil 2’. A very bad match.



There was an Undertaker commercial for the WWE 2K14 releasing in October. They aired the Heyman David & Goliath promo.


2. Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow


Sandow made it down making comparisons to duos such as Sherlock Holmes and Watson or, for the plebs out there, Batman and Robin. Rhodes was his Robin, his Watson, his lacky. Rhodes no longer has a mustache, it was simply shaved off on the JBL & Cole show, his wife must be happy. Sandow took Rhodes out with a big leg sweep on the apron. Rhodes took some punishment, but was able to land a muscle buster for two. Rhodes built up some momentum with a flurry, but was dropped with a neckbreaker. Rhodes caught Sandow with a disaster kick for two. Rhodes was thrown into the post and let out an expletive that was bleeped out. Rhodes then landed the cross Rhodes for the win.

** ¼


They aired the awesome Christian video package from RAW.


3. World Heavyweight Championship Match

Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian


Del Rio had a black eye and bruised nose due to a fight that he and McIntyre got into a couple of days prior. Del Rio interrupted Lilian Garcia’s introduction and insisted that he be introduced in Spanish. Christian was hung in the tree of woe and caught with a big kick to the arm, followed by tons of work on the shoulder. Del Rio’s nose started bleeding, as a result of the fight I guess. Christian ducked a leaping enzuigiri very elegantly for two. Del Rio landed a cheap shot for two off of a plea for a time out. Del Rio landed a big step up enzuigiri out of the corner. Christian went for a sunset flip, but Del Rio hung on. Christian landed a dropkick, and frankensteiner for two again. Christian went for the spear, but Del Rio landed a big dropkick right to the face for two. Del Rio went for the arm breaker, but Christian moved out of the way for his punch through the ropes. Del Rio landed a superkick for another nearfall. There were “this is awesome” chants. Del Rio went for the superkick again, this time with an exposed knee (I don’t know how that is supposed to aid in a superkick, a move that utilizes the sole of the foot, but regardless). Christian landed the spear, but sold the arm really well. Del Rio then grabbed the arm breaker, Christian held on for a while, but was forced to tap in a great closing sequence to a very good match. Still, if this match was given all of the time that it needed, why did they give it away on SmackDown?

*** ½


Renee Young was in the ring to get Del Rio’s thoughts. He said that he was the one representing the Latinos, and he said some stuff in Spanish. They had a hero in him. Clips were shown from the Divas six women from Axxess. Miz was standing by with Maria Menounos, she was in the middle of talking when she was Fandango bombed. Maria and Miz danced in response and Curtis and Summer were very upset.


4. Natalya w/ The Funkadactyles vs. Brie Bella w/Nikki Bella & Eva Marie


The two exchanged slaps, which made me quite pessimistic, which I am surprised an agent didn’t pick up given how important the same spot was in the closing sequence of the mainevent. The fans cared very little about this match chanting the names of the commentators, for tables etc. Brie made it out of a sharpshooter and a brawl broke down on the outside. Next the fans chanted for Ryder. Natalya locked in the sharpshooter again for the win. Nobody cared, I didn’t either.

* ½


Ryback was shown complaining about his gazpacho being cold to the caterer, bullying him around and pouring soup down his shirt. He then poured the entire bucket over his head. Lawler said that he wasn’t a very good ambassador for B.A. Star.


5. No Disqualification Match

CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman


Lesnar looked absolutely humongous. Cole claimed that Lesnar outweighed Punk by fifty pounds; I am sure that number is far higher. Someone got a “smarten up Dixie” sign on air. Lesnar broke out mauling Punk in the corner. Heyman had the most sinister evil smirk on his face, it was great. Punk rushed after Lesnar repeatedly, but couldn’t do a thing. Punk shot out with two high knees and kneed Lesnar out to the floor before landing a tope. Punk ran at Lesnar with the steps, but Lesnar simply ran at Punk shoulder blocking the steps out of his hand! Lesnar was thrown into the post and taken down with an axe handle. Punk came off of the table with a flying clothesline and grabbed Heyman, but was taken down from behind by Lesnar. Punk took a crazy bump over the announce table. Lesnar just threw him around the perimeter of the ring and yelled “best in the world”! Punk kicked the legs, but Lesnar cut him off. Punk landed some forearms, but was taken back down again. Lesnar grabbed a bear hug, Punk made it out, but when he went for a splash he was caught in a fall away slam. Lesnar went for cover after cover, but Punk kicked out each time. The crowd got behind Punk as he bit the head of Lesnar. Punk was able to land some strikes and came off with a flying knee from the top. He landed a series of high knees in the corner, but was caught in the F5. Punk made it up and landed a high kick and elbow for two. Punk called for the GTS, Lesnar countered, but Punk landed a highkick. Both men were staggered. Punk went for a GTS again, but Lesnar grabbed a kimura taking Punk down to the mat. Punk transitioned into the armbar, which the crowd exploded for. Punk then grabbed a guillotine, Lesnar powered out with a Rampage style powerbomb, but Punk held on. Lesnar teased a tapping, but got Punk back up again, this time Punk landed 12-6 elbows, but was caught with a running powerbomb for two! Great sequence, it’s too bad that the announcers didn’t call it as such. Loud CM Punk chants! Lesnar put his own spin on the three amigos to loud “Eddie” chants. Lesnar grabbed a chair, Punk came off the top, but Lesnar got the chair up. Punk unloaded with the chair. He swung at Lesnar’s head, Lesnar tried to catch it, but it made hard direct contact. Punk landed a low blow. He went up top for an elbow with the chair, and came down right on Lesnar’s face for two. Punk yelled some expletives and they were cut; seems to be a trend. Heyman ripped a chair from the hands of Lesnar allowing for Punk to get out of the F5. But, Punk held on by Heyman’s tie, and landed the GTS. Heyman ran in to break to up pounding on Punk. Tremendous nearfall! Punk went after Heyman, was caught in the F5, but Punk came down with the DDT for two! Lesnar locked in the anaconda vice. Heyman looked to slide in again, and slapped the leg of Punk, which was quite funny. Punk laid in with a punch to the face and grabbed an anaconda vice on Heyman, which I thought was too much at that point. Lesnar came in with some chair shots on Punk. Lesnar then grabbed an F5 on the chair for the win. Fantastic match, and by far Lesnar’s best since Extreme Rules last year.

**** ½


The fans were on their feet chanting Punk’s name. There was a commercial for Night of Champions. There was a rather baffling video of a fan trading in his tickets at a WWE house show in order to get tickets for SummerSlam if he could take a splash from Henry at Axxess. Henry made it out and said he was only giving it on 10%, but the guy just sprung back up, which really made the whole gimmick stupid.


6. Dolf Ziggler & Kaitlyn vs. Big E. Langston & AJ


Well, somebody had to follow that Lesnar/Punk match. They cut numerous times to the winner of the splash context sitting at ringside. Ziggler landed his rolling elbows, which of course led to Jerry Lawler death jokes. Kaitlyn shot in to break up a pin on Ziggler, but was taken out by an AJ shining wizard. AJ grabbed Ziggler’s leg, she was taken down with a spear to the floor, Langston landed a shoulder block for two. However, Ziggler countered the big ending into the zig zag for the win.

** ¼


There was a a WWE 2K14 trailer with the Rock. Miz appeared in the back, and was Fandango bombed once again, but this time laid him out with a left hand. The fans were chanting for Bryan while they were discussing the match in the booth.


7. WWE Championship Match

John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan with Triple H as Special Guest Referee


Cena had his elbow heavily taped. There were “you can’t wrestle chants”, which I just find so stupid. Of course Cena then went to go on and prove that he could in fact wrestle. They had a very good exchange before Cena slid out to the floor. Bryan tried for he surfboard, but Cena stretched his arms out in a very comedic manner. Bryan was then elbowed off into the announce table hard. Bryan went for a suplex off of the steps, but Cena countered and landed a suplex of his own. “You still suck” chants. Cena landed a sit out powerbomb for two. Bryan landed some big elbows and a flurry of kicks in the corner to “yes” chants. Cena unloaded with shoulder tackles and a spinout powerbomb, but Bryan countered the five knuckle shuffle with a kicks and they went into a fast exchange. Cena went for the AA, but Bryan landed on his knees, and came off with a kick, which formed a bruise under the left eye of Cena. Bryan began to kick the injured arm, and called for Cena to get up. Cena went for the STF, but Bryan locked in an STF of his own. Bryan brought Cena into the middle and landed a German suplex to Cena from one leg, and Bryan rolled into another. Cena powered out and went for the AA! But Bryan grabbed the no lock. Bryan grabbed a guillotine, Cena held on, and finally dropped Bryan off backwards onto the top rope to break the hold. Cena then landed the AA out of nowhere for two. Cena went to the top, but Bryan flew in with an elbow, he was thrown off, but shot back up once again, they repeated the sequence, but this time Bryan landed a flying dropkick and spider superplex! Instead of expecting a king kong knee drop, Bryan landed a diving headbutt for two. Cena caught Bryan’s tope with a forearm to the face. Cena landed his legdrop to the back for two. Bryan was perched on the top rope and Cena went for a top rope AA, but Bryan landed his 12-6 elbows to the side of the head. Bryan went for the frankensteiner, but was caught. Cena attempted to jump down into the styles clash, but bumped Bryan’s head right on the mat. Regardless, Cena grabbed an STF and then a sleeper. Bryan grabbed the yes lock, but Cena made it to the ropes. Bryan shot in with two huge dropkicks, but was killed with a lariat of doom! The two traded strikes and both collided with forearms and splashes. Both men leaned on each other making it up and Cena landed the slap, and Bryan responded with a slap and they had a slap battle, lord, this was awesome…I don’t think some people got it though, as they were clearly playing off of the promo from the go-home show. Bryan bombarded Cena, and countered a powerbomb with a DDT. Bryan went to the top rope for a high cross, but was caught in the AA. Bryan grabbed the small package for two. Bryan landed a highkick to the side of the head and the whole building was chanting “yes”. Bryan killed Cena with a Baisaku knee for the win! Bryan got his moment with the title, but Cena turned him around, the music stopped and he shook Bryan’s hand. Triple H lifted his hand, shook it and the confetti reigned from the ceiling. He got a huge fireworks display and everything. It was pretty clear that there was a ton of Japanese influence in here, from the spider suplex, to the slap exchange (which they did a great job of explaining on the go-home show), to the Tanahashi styles clash, to the big lariat, there was so much in here, and it all worked.

**** ½


Orton made it out contract in hand. Bryan called him in willing to fight, Orton looked to be walking away, but waited a while before Triple H laid Bryan out with the pedigree. Orton handed Hunter the briefcase and got the bell rung. He then covered Bryan for the win, which I think most people expected, but they did convince many of the viewers that they were going to close the show off with Bryan on top for what it’s worth. We have spoken about all of the creative elements already, but this match would have been a quarter of a star higher if the show had just ended without the cash in.


WWE Monday Night RAW August 19th 2013

Honda Center, Anaheim, California


Overall Thoughts:


The post-SummerSlam edition of RAW did a good job at establishing the Bryan character in the context of this McMahon angle, even if the majority of the show was dull. The CM Punk segments were obviously not that, and I thought that the opening, closing and Punk segments were by far the highlights of the show, but everything else tended to drag quite a bit.


They showed two distinct clips before the show, for the Lesnar/Punk and Cena/Bryan matches. Cena made it down to kick the show off. There were “Cena sucks” chants. He thanked Bryan for taking him to his limit. And he said that a performer shouldn’t be judged by race, colour, creed or appearance, which was a weird line, since the first two aren’t an issue and the latter point certainly is. He brought up his injury, but stated that it played no part in Bryan’s victory the night prior. He was leaving for four to six months; the crowd popped and chanted changing “yes”. I found that move from the fans really unjust, boo Cena and his character all you want, but the man works so hard and major surgery shouldn’t be cheered in that manner. He welcomed Bryan as the rightful WWE champion; more yes chants. Bryan really sold the loss just giving the crowd a polite hand raise. There were “Daniel Bryan” chants, but right after he opened his mouth Stephanie walked down. Stephanie apologized and said that Triple H was just doing what was best for business. Bryan expected that from Vince and Stephanie, but not from the former leader of DX. When you lie down with trash you start to stink is what he said; big “yes” chants. Bryan said that he would go back to armories, selling t-shirts out of his car. He wasn’t afraid of being fired, but he would give her a reason to fire him. Stephanie said that she wasn’t going to do anything of the sort. He was great but not the face of the company, he was short, small, and didn’t have good looks. She called him a solid B+. Bryan said that Stephanie reminded him of a word that started with a letter “B” too. Bryan responded that he could be WWE champion and he didn’t care what she thought, before tearing the mic from her hand. She was given another and called for security. She wanted him removed as the crowd chanted his name, and he walked out chanting “no”. This was a good opener to establish the basis for the Bryan, Austin character, but they could have played Bryan’s pain of losing the title up a big more. Sandow and Rhodes were out for a rematch. The fans chanted for JBL, but they decided to get slightly behind Rhodes with a “let’s go mustache chant”, funny, since he no longer has one. Rhodes landed the disaster kick, but Sandow was pinned with a sunset flip on the way back in — I don’t know what the point of this was. How did it further anything? Maddox was standing by backstage and he aired a quote that Ziggler had made criticizing Triple H. Ziggler was booked in a Shield handicap match as a result. Paul Heyman was shown walking into the building.


Heyman now has the lights gimmick, as the lights went off and he was welcomed into the ring. Heyman said that Punk had proven himself the night prior, and now that Lesnar had smacked sense into Punk it was time for forgiveness. He forgave Punk; asking for an apology saying that he would take Punk back. Punk was simply better with him, he still loved Punk and they would achieve higher heights than they had before. Heyman promised him the world…together. They would be the best in the world and Heyman took a bow. The Funkadactyles were backstage. The Bellas came by and argued with them. Cameron calmed Naomi down. They aired a graphic for an Orton title coronation, which is the same title that they gave a similar segment in 2007. AJ and Layla made it out for a tag match with the Funkadactyles. There was almost another disaster as Naomi cradled Layla and let go too soon. Layla then sprung up so incredibly quickly and threw the most preposterous tantrum. Dolf Ziggler made it out ecstatic to be in a three on one handicap match. If he doesn’t care why should we? Rollins was dropped to the floor with a suplex and landed awkwardly before Reigns shot in for the win in a good handicap match. Ziggler was then laid out with the triple powerbomb. There was an Undertaker 2K14 commercial.


Del Rio made it out for a match with Sin Cara. Del Rio now places little Mexican flags on the ring posts. Del Rio landed a kick early on, which dislocated Cara’s fingers. Sin Cara then shot out with a tope, which made the situation worse. Del Rio was not happy about this and decided to kick Cara while he was down, and he swore a bit before a referee pulled him away. According to what I have heard and read there is some kind of long standing heat between Del Rio and Mistico/Sin Cara. The relatively unreliable rumour is that Mistico once threatened Del Rio with a gun while the two were in CMLL, although as far as I know that is just a rumour. Plus, it is a rumour that comes from the mouth of Konnan, so really you should make of it what you wish. However, there is some kind of heat between the two it seems. There was also the feeling that Sin Cara overreacted with dislocated fingers, but I don’t feel that I really have the right comment. Del Rio cut a very Latino centric promo, and he said that Latinos don’t have any heroes. Are they trying to do a Bret Hart gimmick here? If he is supposed to be a heel with that audience it doesn’t seem to be working very well. Ricardo made it out and said that he represented someone new and he brought Rob Van Dam out, which has to be the weirdest pairing in a very long time. Van Dam rushed the ring and a brawl broke out to huge RVD chants.


Colter quickly referenced Darren Young, but didn’t say anything specific, or bash anyone. He ran the city down. The Prime Time Players made it out for a tag match with Cesaro & Swagger. Young got the win with a gut buster, so that media coverage meant something at least for this week. Big show was standing by Renee Young backstage and he said that they would be going after the Shield. Just then Maddox came by mentioning Big Show’s negative feelings on Triple H, which we never saw and were never mentioned. Maddox placed Big Show in a tornado tag match with the Shield. Big Show blew it off, which just added to the Ziggler issue. There was a long drawn out product placement spot for some sneakers and Fandango dropped in dancing. There was a recap of the Punk/Lesnar match. Ryback was throwing around a poor fool’s bag in the back asking him to pick it up and drop it back down over and over again. He then got the guy to open his bag and turn on the water after slapping him in the face and then chased him out. Great bullying tactics here. Jolly Show was out for his match with the Shield. Show was just throwing the Shield around, and the fans chanted “let’s go Big Show”, and that was funny since he was killing everyone. Rollins clipped the knee for the advantage. They ended up hitting the triple powerbomb for the win.


Punk made it down. Punk talked about what happened the prior night, but a fan booed and Punk just went off. He said that he would render him a weeping, toothless, crying heap of a man. He dared him to jump the rail and let off some foul language. It may have been a little wacky, but the crowd loved this, and when stuff like this happens it really helps add a feeling of spontaneity to the product. Punk brought Heyman and Axel out. He was sorry for not tearing Heyman’s arm off; he would have taken Heyman’s arm home with him after spitting in his face. Punk wanted Heyman to show more guts than the “fatso” in the front row and face him. The fans were eating this up. Heyman sent Axel to the back to tape up his fists, he was not the fat guy sitting in the front row, Heyman acknowledged. Axel would fight him after the break. Axel stormed the ring, Punk landed some chair shots, and dumped Axel on his head in the back over the barricade. He ran after him killing him with a case on the floor. He then grabbed the ring bell and landed a bell shot to the chest. Axel knocked Punk’s leg out from under him, and went after his leg with a chair. Heyman screamed that Punk was the prodigal son that broke his heart, and he wanted Axel to break his leg — I love Heyman. Punk rolled out of the way of a dive and landed a shot to Axel before throwing Axel into the steps over and over before dropping him on the steps. Wyatt was out for a match with R-Truth. Wyatt won with his neckbreaker.


There was a cheesy vignette for a team called the ‘Matadors’, Primo and Epico under some goofy masks. I guess they are going to get the crowd to chant ole. The Usos were out for a match with Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal with Del Rio’s bar brawl buddy, Drew McIntyre, at ringside. Uso made a tag in mid dive allowing for his brother to land a splash for the win. Barrett made it out for a match with the Miz. Lawler was greatly amused by the size of Barrett’s ears. They had a decent match until Fandango dropped in with a leg drop on Miz who had the figure four. So I guess we are getting a Miz/Fandango program. Maddox told Stephanie that Bryan was back in the building and she was glad about this. HHH made it out and all of the superstars were on the apron for the coronation, apart from Punk and Cena. So they were repeating the HBK return angle from 2007. The Shield were guarding the ring. Vince said that Hunter had finally done the right thing. Hunter called the fans short sighted, saying that they never saw the big picture. He did it for all of the people, their children and all of the people standing on the ramp. He did it for Vince, Jess, and Vince Sr. He did it for his family, and the fans. Triple H called Bryan a “good little technician” he deserved to win, but the fans deserved better. They deserved A+. He didn’t want to throw all of Bryan’s dreams away, but he had over achieved. There were loud chants for Bryan as Triple H brought Orton out, unfortunately not in a suit. I liked that they brought up all of the past issues between Hunter and Orton. He said that he owed it all to Hunter, and Orton called for everyone to rise to their feet and show Hunter the respect that he deserved. Triple H wanted Bryan to get everything off of his chest so he could move on with his “little career”. HHH said that Bryan was probably scared of the Shield and got them to back away. The McMahons chanted “yes” and played his music, and he came through the side of the entrance way. As Bryan looked to step in the ring the Shield attacked him. The Shield went after him and he cleaned house, but on his way in he was speared by Reigns. They went to hit the triple powerbomb, but Triple H ordered them to halt and Bryan crawled into the ring. With each step Triple H egged him on a little more in a patronizing manner, and as he stepped in Orton laid him out with an RKO leaving all of the McMahons standing tall to close the show off.


I liked this closing segment, but I still think that they should hold off on Bryan’s chase for the title now that they did the switch. They should rather have Bryan go through a few challengers and have Orton face someone else, before sending Bryan away for a while. However, with Cena out that is a bit of an issue.


RAW Ratings for August 19th 2013


Monday’s post-SummerSlam edition of RAW performed well as expected since it was a show featuring the aftermath of one of the two or three biggest shows of the year. It did go up against pre-season football, which won the night, but it still drew a 3.24 rating and 4.3 million viewers. For the second week they showed a positive viewership pattern by gaining viewers throughout the night climbing to a third hour peak.


The John Cena, Daniel Bryan and Stephanie McMahon opening segment opened strong at a 3.4. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow then dropped off most of those extra viewers losing 530,000 viewers. The Paul Heyman segment without Punk or Axel stayed even. The Divas tag match with the Funkadactyles versus Layla & AJ lost 135,000 viewers. Then at 21:00 the Ziggler/Shield handicap match gained 500,000 viewers to a 3.3 rating, which is good for that spot in the show, even with the loses.


The 20:00 to 21:00 hour drew 4.08 million viewers (a 1.35 and 1.711 million viewers in the 18-49 demo and fifth for the night on cable behind ‘Family Guy’).


What was even more impressive was that the Del Rio/Sin Cara match stayed even, when traditionally that segment is a loser. Positive trends continued with the Prime Time Players versus Cesaro & Swagger match gaining 250,000 viewers to a 3.5 quarter. Whether that was due to the upwards trend due to SummerSlam, or the fact that the average viewer was interested in Daryn Young I can’t say for sure. I would think that it was to some extent, given that a tag like that is usually a big loser. The Big Show match with the Shield lost 265,000 viewers. The second Heyman segment for the night at 22:00, this time with Punk, Axel and the brawl, gained 400,000 viewers to a 3.6; super strong


The 21:00 to 22:00 hour drew 4.49 million viewers (a 1.61 and 2.036 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, third for the night behind the third hour).


In the post 22:00 segment Wyatt versus Truth lost 550,000 viewers, which is fine considering the high that they were coming off of. The Usos versus Slater & Mahal lost a further 265,000 viewers. The Miz versus Barrett gained another 135,000 viewers. Finally the mainevent angle and culmination of the entire show with Bryan coming face to face with Orton, the McMahons and the Shield gained 670,000 viewers to a strong 3.6 overrun, tying with the 22:00 segment for the highpoint of the show.


The 22:00 to 23:12 hour drew 4.33 million viewers (a 1.69 and 2.132 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, second for the night behind pre-season football). A 1.69 is great for the third hour. We don’t have in-depth demos, but males 18-49 were the highest that they have been since Mania season.



August 21st 2013 – Full Sail University, Florida.

Ben Carass.


A video package recapped the Sami Zayn/Antonio Cesaro feud and set up the main event as the rubber match between the two. Bayley appeared for the opener and they showed her awkward segment with AJ Lee last week; AJ skipped down to defend her title.


WWE Diva’s Championship: Bayley vs. AJ Lee (C)


Bayley tried to hug the champ, however AJ had none of it and landed a couple of neckbreakers; AJ worked a cravate and told her “special” challenger, “I’m hugging your neck now”. AJ continued the heat until she missed a splash in the corner; Bayley proceeded to hug her then she went for a cover, seriously. Bayley got a pair of two counts off a bodyslam and a knee-drop then she tried for some more covers, which only resulted in one counts. The finish saw Bayley land a back elbow off the second rope, however she was too concerned by AJ’s selling to follow up; AJ delivered a kick and hit the shining wizard to get the pin.


AJ defeated Bayley via pinfall to retain the Diva’s Championship, at 4:23.


Not a great way to start off here. Bayley’s senseless character completely killed any chance of a legitimate match, which is a shame because she is one of the better female workers in the entire company.


Tyler Breeze was in the back; he asked a random girl to take a photo of him and she obliged. CJ Parker showed up again and he goofed around then gave Tyler the old two fingered deal behind his head. I wonder if anyone in WWE realises that CJ just labelled Tyler a cuckold in 17th century culture, or that he has the same name as Pamela Anderson’s character in Baywatch. Tyler inspected the picture and was horrified to learn he had been photo bombed; he whined and claimed CJ was “ruining his life”, which was quite funny.


Our token NXT geeks this week were Ron Hicks and Michael Zaki. The Ascension got their full entrance on their way to destroying the two rookies.


The Ascension vs. Ron Hicks & Michael Zaki


The Ascension made some quick tags and worked over Zaki with some shots and power moves. They hit their modified total elimination finish and Victor made the cover to get the three.


The Ascension defeated Ron Hicks & Michael Zaki via pinfall, at 1:35.


Another dull NXT squash special; at least Big E had some charisma when he was killing guys every week. The Ascension are just a big dull, lumbering team and I’m not looking forward to their upcoming Tag Title programme. Although, I’m sure Graves and especially Neville will bump around like crazy for them in order to draw a competent pro wrestling match out of them.


A graphic hyped the re-debut of CJ Parker then after a break, CJ showed up to some hallucinogenic, Grateful Dead-style music; Baron Corbin was already in the ring.


CJ Parker vs. Baron Corbin


CJ’s new gimmick is apparently a spaced-out psychedelic guy and he waved his arms in the air like those wackos you see in the old Woodstock clips then he threw up a peace sign. Corbin harshed his mellow though and landed a clothesline to start the heat, which lasted all of 30 seconds. CJ came back to land a running double-knee strike in the corner and hit a funky looking

DDT (CJ took a front-bump, instead of the traditional flat-back) for the finish.


CJ Parker defeated Baron Corbin via pinfall, at 1:40.


Renee Young got in the ring for the Joe Rogan post-fight interview; sadly, CJ didn’t “shoot” on Renee or steal any of Billy Graham’s lines like Chael Sonnen. Renee asked where CJ had been and he said he had been everywhere and found what he was looking for. CJ said he was just a guy having fun, but Renee brought up all video bombing he had been doing; CJ took offence to the word, “bomb” and told Renee to “mellow out” then explained what he did was more like, “video loving”. Tyler Breeze stormed down to the ring and in a bizarre high-pitched voice, complained about CJ ruining his picture, which appeared on the Tron. CJ told Tyler to relax and the whole thing was a joke; Tyler replied the only joke around here was the Lenny Kravitz wannabe, CJ. Tyler shoved Parker, so CJ cocked his right hand back, but Tyler jumped out of the

ring and was disgusted by CJ’s attempt to ruin his face.


So, the feud of the wacky gimmicks is official. I haven’t been impressed with Tyler Breeze so far, however here he was far more entertaining than before; probably because I found the idea of a male model squashing actual wrestlers in under a minute quite egregious, but I doubt that will be an issue after this in-ring angle. Tyler’s goofy new voice added another layer of absurdity to his character, which made it blatantly obvious that we are not meant to take him seriously, even a little bit. While that may not sound like a great idea, at least they have started a programme with another goofy cartoon character in Parker and we can accept this thing for what it is: two guys learning how to develop and portray characters that will not be seen on the main roster in a million years. Although after seeing what they are doing with Primo & Epico, it is possible that the Tyler Breeze gimmick could fit in with all the other goofballs running around on Raw and SmackDown.


A vignette hyped Dolph Ziggler up next after the break, then Alexander Rusev came out with a piece of wood that had “Ziggler” written on it. Rusev bowed to the wood then snapped it over his knee. Dolph got a superstar reaction from the small crowd at Full Sail on his way down to the ring.


Dolph Ziggler vs. Alexander Rusev


Dolph showed his speed and got a two count off a quick roll-up; Rusev displayed his strength advantage, however Ziggler nailed him with a dropkick. Rusev caught a crossbody from Dolph and delivered some knees then dumped Ziggler over the top. Rusev worked a waist-lock for some heat; Dolph fought up to land a dropkick for some hope, but Rusev shut him down with a body-check which got a two count. Ziggler hit the rocker-dropper for his near-fall then Rusev scored with a spinning-heel kick to get another two. Finish saw Rusev miss a big splash off the top and Dolph hit the Zig-zag for the win.


Dolph Ziggler defeated Alexander Rusev via pinfall, at 6:05.


This was Rusev’s debut, so I guess the idea was to get him over by having Dolph sell the whole match and by getting a bunch of near-falls; at least they didn’t just throw him out there in another meaningless squash like everybody else. Rusev looked pretty good in there and showed more athleticism than say, Mason Ryan, who coincidentally Rusev gets a win on during an upcoming show.


A vignette hyped an “exclusive inside look” at NXT’s participation during SummerSlam Axxess

then Sami Zayn entered the arena for the main event. Antonio Cesaro showed up, but Sami took him out with a plancha over the top, before the bell.


2-out-of-3 Falls Match: Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro


With both guys in the ring, the ref separated them and called for the bell; Sami charged at Antonio and drilled him with a big boot in the corner, which was enough to earn the first fall.


Sami Zayn won the first fall via pinfall, at 0:06.


Sami dumped Cesaro over the top with a clothesline then sent him into the steps; back inside, Sami landed a cross-body off the top for a two count then Cesaro delivered a hot-shot onto the turnbuckle for the transition to the heat. Antonio delivered a powerbomb for a near-fall then worked a chinlock; Sami fought out with a jawbreaker, but Cesaro shut him down with a clothesline and delivered a double-stomp. Sami fought to his feet with strikes only to be cut off by a big overhead double-leg; Cesaro went for his gutwrench, but Sami countered into a roll-up then got another two count off a hurricanrana. Antonio delivered a bridging table-top suplex for a near-fall before the break. After some transitions and a dropkick from Zayn, Cesaro slapped on his chinlock of doom; Sami faded then finally tapped-out.


Antonio Cesaro won the second fall via submission, at 8:42 (TV Time).


Tom Phillips and Alex Riley contradicted 100 plus years of pro-wrestling psychology by trying to explain that Sami had no oxygen getting to his brain and had to tap; even though that would be an illegal air-choke, not a blood-choke, which for some reason is legal in pro-wrestling. Anyway, the chinlock is neither; I think the name is a dead give-away: chin-lock. Cesaro smashed Sami with a running European in the corner to tease the third fall ending right away then executed a deadlift superplex, with Sami stood on the apron. They teased a bunch of more quick near-falls then both men went to the floor; Sami delivered a tope from the floor, through the middle and bottom rope, into a tornado DDT onto the ramp. The people went nuts and Cesaro barely beat the count at 9. For the finish, Sami went for his lucha tornado DDT, but Cesaro countered and muscled Zayn up for a deadlift pop-up European uppercut; Antonio quickly hit the neutraliser and got the three count as the people lost their minds with the closing spot.


Antonio Cesaro defeated Sami Zayn 2 falls to 1, in 14:39 (TV Time).


Cesaro celebrated and the crowd chanted “match of the year”, as the show closed.

Cesaro is buried in a mid-card Tag Team and Zayn is not on the main roster, because… – There is no logical way to finish that sentence. I like to think I have the ability to use descriptive words and to set the scene by using evocative language, however all the superlatives, hyperbole and fancy words in the world would not do this match justice. This match was truly a fine piece of art and the last few minutes were better than 95% of the stuff we get on Raw and SmackDown each week. It would be futile for me to try and explain what went down in this thing, so I encourage all of you to go watch this match immediately. I’ll say it again and for those of you that skip the NXT reports, I’ll make it easy to see: YOU MUST WATCH THIS MATCH RIGHT NOW!!!!

Besides the truly awesome main event, there wasn’t much going on this week. We got the CJ Parker/Tyler Breeze feud up and running, plus the debut of Alexander Rusev, who certainly has the potential to go a long way in the company. But that’s enough of that; NXT was truly a one match show this week, which every pro wrestling fan needs to see.


WWE put another four episodes in the can at the tapings on the 22nd; here is what to expect on the next month of TV. Unfortunately, nothing appears to have the potential to be as spectacular as Zayn vs. Cesaro.


Taped for August 28th: An angle with The Ascension beating up Corey Graves in the back opens the show. Tyler Breeze downs CJ Parker in what is likely to be the first of many matches between the two. Emma gets a revenge win over Summer Rae. Scott Dawson beats Enzo Amore with some interference from Alexander Rusev, who appears to be aligned with Sylvester Lefort. Sami Zayn cuts a promo about wanting a shot at the NXT Title, but Jack Swagger & Zeb Colter interrupt, which leads to a beatdown from Swagger. Adrian Neville is forced to main event with Conor O’Brian; Neville gets the nod, but Rick Victor shows up for a 2-on-1 assault. Corey Graves runs in for the save, however the faces are overwhelmed by the big heel team.


Taped for September 4th: Bayley & Charlotte defeat Alicia Fox & Aksana. Corey Graves gets a little payback over Rick Victor. Alexander Rusev beats Mason Ryan; I’m interested to see how this goes, there was no detail from the live reports, but I will be ecstatic if they have finally seen the light and given up on Ryan. Bo Dallas costs Sami Zayn a match with the other Real American, Jack Swagger to close the show.


Taped for September 11th: Scott Dawson & Alexander Rusev (w/ Sylvester LeFort) get DQ’d against Enzo Amore & Colin Cassidy. Bo Dallas cuts another exaggerated babyface promo. Paige downs Sasha Banks; after the match, Sasha attacks Paige for a heel turn and probably a title match. Xavier Woods pins Leo Kruger in the main event.


Taped for September 18th: Sami Zayn needed to get a win, so they sent out Curt Hawkins to do the job. Aiden English squashes an unannounced jobber (QT Marshall); take that ROH! Graves, Neville, Woods & Parker take down the Ascension, Kruger & Breeze in an 8 man.

There you have it. No Kassius Ohno again; I guess management is still unhappy with his look, which is understandable, if not a little demoralising for Ohno and his fans. It looks like we’re in for some interesting angles, with Rusev joining Lefort and Zayn going after the NXT Title. The Ascension look to be slotted in for the next Tag Title shot, plus Parker and Breeze continue their comedy feud. I like the idea of Sami working with Bo Dallas, as he will undoubtedly help elevate Bo’s game. There isn’t really a case for Sami winning the NXT Title though, Bo needs at least another 6 months-to-a-year in developmental, whereas Zayn could be called up to the main roster tomorrow and he would fit in just fine.


TNA iMPACT August 22nd 2013 Hardore Justice Part II (Taped August 15th 2013)

Ted Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk, Virginia


Overall Thoughts:


Despite the fact that this TNA show featured many of the same problems that we see on other iMPACT shows throughout the year, it was a better show than usual. The crowd was super into most of the key segments, especially the mainevent, and there was nothing that would really stand out as terrible. Of course there was the AJ Styles babyface turn, if you would like to call it that, which seemed a bit rushed, but for a one night angle I don’t think that it could have gone much better.


Ray was in the back on the phone with “Brooky” and Tito by his side. Anderson was introduced to Tito, and Anderson was quite upset that Ray hadn’t returned his phone calls or texts. Roode, Daniels and Kazarian made it out. Roode spoke about the target that Ray had on his chest, and how they would do anything to take the title from him. Daniels called himself the best “street fighter” in the company. They wanted another member in their group, they wanted Austin Aries; he could trust them. James Storm and Gunner made it out to interrupt. Storm warned Daniels and Kazarian how Roode would turn on them. Storm wanted a fight, and began to disrobe. He struck Roode in the exact manner that he had detailed earlier. This led to a tag match in street clothes after the break with Kazarian & Roode against the world tag team champions. The Jeff Hardy app is no longer free and is now $1.99 apparently. Storm was pretty over with this small crowd, but Kazarian set up a distraction in order for Roode to get the low blow and rollup for the win. Aries cut a promo backstage saying that there was something with strength in numbers, but there was also an advantage in having partners that you could trust.


The idiotic X Division three-way gimmick is officially dead, and while it was announced by Hogan on Twitter this week, it was already a decision made at the tapings. Manik and Dutt were out for a singles match. Dutt missed the moonsault footstomp and was caught with the double knee gutbuster for the win in a fun little match. Anderson was talking to the rest of the Aces & Eights backstage. Daniels, Hernandez, Bradley and Park were out for a hardcore fourway worth twenty points. This adds to what I was saying last week, in that they didn’t state that every participant in the BFG has to be in a four way, they just have one every week, and it feels so thrown together as a result. Hernandez and Park took some rough bumps on the apron. The big spot was where Aries came into the ring for the Hernandez distraction, but as Kaz and Roode were walking off he landed a brainbuster on Daniels to “yes” chants and they all ran off to the back. Bradley laid Park out with brass knuckles, but Park bled, ran wild and pinned Bradley to the shock and amazement of Eric Young.


Sting was going crazy in the back, and Rampage said that he would break Tito’s face. Magnus hyped everyone up saying that they would all step up. A long Brooke/Ray video package aired, funny given that Brooke is no longer with the company. Ray made it out as TNA world champion less than two hours after winning the title in front of the live crowd. He wanted to know how it felt to be suckered again.Sabin never defeated him, he defeated himself. he then switched focus to Tito who was standing next to him. Tito spoke to very big “you sold out chants”, which I was impressed with. Ray brought Brooke down for the big swerve. Brooke Hogan’s music hit, but Brooke Tessmacher made it down. They then kissed to some more good heat. For whatever reason Brooke sucked Ray’s fingers and the segment ended. Kim made it out for a match with ODB. At one point during the match Taz attempted to mimic Gordon Solie, which was by far the highlight. Taz really heeled on ODB before Kim grabbed a tights assisted rollup for the win. There was a very good video package of Jeff Hardy’s BFG series and TNA World Title win. Aries was interviewed backstage. He could also play mind games, he was one of the smartest men in the business, and he didn’t need anyone’s help, all he needed was his own ability.


Finally it was time for the ten man tag with the person being pinned having to leave the company. The Mafia team was comprised of Joe, Sting, Magnus and Rampage and the Aces & Eights team was comprised of Anderson, Bischoff, Briscoe, Devon and Knux. There was a trailer for the No Surrender TV special. Ray was then brought out with Tito and Brooke. Anderson kindly asked one of them to lie down, but Sting said that if they were going to go down they would go down fighting. This brought AJ Styles down to his heel tune, in the middle the music stopped and his old music hit and he rushed down in his old attire. The reaction from the crowd covered a wide spectrum, from apathy to pockets of grown men jumping up and down with glee and amazement. The Aces & Eights got the heat after the break on Magnus while the crowd chanted, yes. The tag was finally made to Sting who ran wild, but when he went for the scorpion death lock things broke down with Rampage looking completely lost. Rampage ran wild on everyone, but was taken down by Knux. Sting grabbed the Scorpion on Knux, but Devon rushed in. Devon and AJ were in there for a while. Devon landed a big shoulder block, but Styles busted out the Styles Clash, which seemingly every major star in the industry apart from Styles has hit the past few months, for the elimination.

WWE SmackDown – August 21st 2013.

Rabobank Arena: Bakersfield, CA

Ben Carass.

The show opened with Vickie Guerrero in the ring; she claimed to have buried the heat with the entire McMahon family since moving to SmackDown then introduced Randy Orton. Vickie left, and on her way out, she tried to hug the new WWE Champ; Orton gave her a handshake instead. Cole and JBL talked about Randy being the McMahon’s chosen one then put over Bryan for his effort against Cena. As champion, Orton promised he would give the fans what they deserve and said the people would aspire to be him, because he is a role model that told the truth about nobody seeing the cash-in coming. Randy stated that he had no idea Triple H was going to pedigree Bryan and said he didn’t need Hunter’s help, or the Shelid’s help on Raw, however he said he appreciated the support from the McMahon family then asked all the people to support him too. The fans booed and chanted “No!” Orton reminded everyone that he wasn’t just the champion, he was the face of the WWE then Daniel Bryan showed up and was back to his “Yes” gimmick, after rightfully giving it a break on Raw. Bryan thanked Cena for putting him over and said even if he was only better than Cena for one day, he got to experience what it felt like to be the WWE Champion then told Randy the face of the WWE needed to change; the fans chanted “Yes” to this. Bryan admitted he didn’t look like the pretty-boy, Orton and said he could see why Triple H likes him so much. Bryan said Orton had been handed everything and only got opportunities because of the Big O and Cowboy Bob then informed Randy he had a “golden genetic ticket” to succeed in the WWE. Bryan asked the fans to give it up for how pretty Orton was, but added Randy was so pretty he could kick him in the face. Bryan stated he had wrestled in every dirty high school gym and on staff-infested mats all over the world, just to get an ounce of respect then declared he wasn’t tall or pretty, but the one thing he could do is wrestle. Bryan told Orton he can beat him for the title and demanded his rematch take place tonight; Randy replied that “short stuff” would have to wait until Night of Champions then the two had a stare-down. Orton tried to hit an RKO, but Bryan escaped and sent Randy over the top with a dropkick. Bryan fired up in the ring and led the crowd in a chant of, “Yes!”


This was a decent opening segment and I guess we got the announcement of Bryan vs. Orton for the PPV. The “rematch clause” has been done to death, however since the McMahon’s don’t want Bryan anywhere near the title, I’m fine with them going to that old staple. Orton echoed Triple H’s sentiment from Raw by saying he didn’t need any help, I guess to make us think that there is still some animosity after their two blood-feuds. Although, Randy hugged it out with Steph, so I don’t see any reason why Orton couldn’t play the full corporate champion, other than Randy’s fondness of his loner character. Orton did a good job of coming across as unlikeable and Bryan was also fine explaining why he has to fight to earn everything he gets, however the ridiculing of Randy for being pretty boarded on annoying. Probably because the joke got old quick, which isn’t Bryan’s fault at all; whoever is scripting his material needs to be careful, as nothing will kill Bryan’s hot-streak faster than turning him into another bad joke telling, tool of a babyface.


Vickie was on the phone in her cougar’s den, complaining about Bryan running Orton’s moment; she said somebody needed to teach the “little troll” a lesson then Wade Barrett appeared. He told Vic, if she put him in a match with Bryan nobody would ever see him again; Vickie liked the idea and booked a Barrett and Bryan in a cage match.


Cody Rhodes showed up for a non-title match with Curtis Axel. They showed Axel’s brawl with CM Punk on Raw.


Non-Title Match: Cody Rhodes vs. Curtis Axel (Intercontinental Champion) w/Paul Heyman


Axel landed a dropkick then dumped Cody on the apron; Rhodes came back to land his new babyface springboard dropkick. Axel went to the floor and swept Cody’s leg, which caused Rhodes to take a bump on the apron; Curtis drove Cody into the side of the ring again, before the break. Axel got the heat; Cody fought back and made a brief comeback with his Goldust and Bob Holly spots, but was shut down by a kick to the knee. Cody got a two count off a roll-up out of the corner then went up top for a moonsault-press; Heyman climbed the steps, which distracted Rhodes and Axel crotched him on the top. Axel hit the mind-trip and got the pin.


Curtis Axel defeated Cody Rhodes via pinfall, at 4:32 (TV Time).


Heyman cut a promo after the match; he said he was in agony thanks to CM Punk and looked at his slinged-up left arm. Paul claimed his emotional distress was far worse than his physical pain, because the man he once managed as “the best in the world” was now a “sad, pathetic loser” that had gone into a downward spiral and acted like a mad man after losing to Brock Lesnar. Heyman said Punk never had a chance without him in his corner then claimed Punk was lost without him. Paul switched gears and said Curtis Axel had found himself under his advisement then he put over Axel and declared nobody could beat him for the IC Title. Axel said Punk didn’t deserve a shot at the title and accused Punk of being jealous of his relationship with Paul. Axel stated he would finish the job that Lesnar started at SummerSlam and challenged Punk to a match on Raw.

I’m not sure what the match means for Cody’s face push; the finish defiantly made him look foolish, though. Why would he pin the Money in the Bank holder then lose a meaningless match to the mid-card champion, to set him up for a run with Punk, which nobody believes for a second he has a chance of coming out on top in? Axel was a little better on the mic here, though; Paul was his usual great self.


AJ skipped down to the ring then Big E. Langston made his entrance; Dolph Ziggler came out for a rematch with his former buddy. We saw the Shield killing Ziggler on Raw then Big E jumped Dolph before the bell.


Dolph Ziggler vs. Big E. Langston w/ AJ Lee


Dolph avoided a splash in the corner and landed a few shots, but E delivered a big flapjack then a splash to get a two count. E missed a shoulder block and took the ring post spot for the transition then Dolph started a comeback. Ziggler countered a powerbomb into an X-factor for a near-fall; E distracted the ref and AJ caught Dolph with a cheap shot. Big E scored with a body-check to get another two then the finish came when Ziggler countered the big ending into the Zig-zag.


Dolph Ziggler defeated Big E. Langston via pinfall, at 2:01.


Not sure what this achieved other than keeping this feud running. Expect some kind of rematch on Raw with some good old even-Steven booking.

Christian hit the ring for the rubber match with Alberto Del Rio, who was introduced in Spanish by Lilian Garcia.


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


There were miniature Mexican flags adorned on each ring post, which was goofy; Christian

dumped Del Rio over the top early and landed a baseball slide. After the break Del Rio had the heat; they showed us Alberto sending Christian’s arm into the announce table and steps from “during the break” then Christian spilled off the top to the outside. Del Rio worked on the arm; Christian fought up from a top-wristlock, but was cut off by a tilt-o-whirl backbreaker. Christian hung Alberto up on the top rope to turn the tide then he went into a comeback and tried for a high-cross off the top. Del Rio moved and delivered a basement dropkick for a near-fall. Christian avoided the step-up enzuigiri to land his diving roll-up out of the corner for a two count, however Del Rio dodged a dropkick from the second rope and went for the cross-armbreaker. Christian rolled through then hit a tornado DDT to get a near-fall; Del Rio cut him off on the top with an enzuigiri that earned another two. Finish saw Christian counter a superkick and Del Rio counter the killswitch; Christian took the vaunted ring post spot then Alberto rolled into the armbar from the top rope to get the tap-out.


Alberto Del Rio defeated Christian via submission, at 9:05 (TV Time).


Alberto did a promo after the match and said all the Latinos wanted to be the next ADR, but they were all peasants. He urged his people to follow his example and claimed the Latinos didn’t have to be peasants if they followed their leader to greatness. Ricardo Rodriguez appeared on the stage and said he, the fans, nor his new friend had to follow anybody. Ricardo stated his new buddy didn’t look down on people, but instead stuck up for them and he introduced Rob Van Dam. Alberto tried to flee, so Christian drilled him with a missile dropkick and Van Dam delivered rolling thunder to the champ. Ricardo and RVD held the World Title and stood tall in the ring.


Another good match from Christian & Del Rio; not on the level of their first match or the outing at SummerSlam, but still a fine effort. The story was pretty decent too, with Del Rio working on the arm of his old nemesis, the ring post spot actually worked well in context of the rest of the match and led to the finish nicely. As for the Van Dam stuff, well I can only assume the creative team got into Rob’s secret stash, I mean what other reason is there for RVD & Ricardo to be together? I know Van Dam is getting the title shot, but just throwing two random guys together for the sake of a programme seems unnecessary and highly contrived.


Big Show and Mark Henry hit the ring for a match with 3MB.


3-on-2 Handicap Match: Big Show & Mark Henry vs. 3MB


Henry took out Slater with a body-check and a big boot; Slater avoided a butt-drop from Henry then McIntyre and Mahal got some shots in. Slater threw some rights, but Henry landed a shoulder-block and made the hot tag. Show ran wild on McIntyre then drilled Mahal with a boot. Show planted Drew with a chokeslam; Slater broke up the pin, so Henry dropped him with the world’s strongest slam and Show KO’d McIntyre with his punch of death.


Big Show & Mark Henry defeated 3MB via pinfall, at 3:07.


Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns appeared on the tron; Reigns made light of the two monsters beating a bunch of geeks and Seth said he was surprised Show got up after the triple powerbomb, but added they would have some fun knocking him back down again. Reigns told Henry he would never respect him, because he had been “floating around for a decade and a half”; Seth informed the two big men that they had to go and declared a new era had begun. Reigns closed with, “believe in the Shield.”


The match was nothing, but the promo from Rollins & Reigns was good. Show and Henry’s reaction to the promo on the other hand was completely anaemic. I can’t stand the smiling, jovial babyface Big Show and instead of getting over the conflict with the Shield with some facial expressions, he just stood there with a goofy grin on his face.


After a break, the Real Americans and Zeb Colter were in the ring. Zeb didn’t get to cut an awesome promo this week and simply did his, “we the people” line; I imagine Zeb did actually do his usual promo and they just cut it for time. “Mr publicity stunt”, Darren Young came down with Titus O’Neil.


Darren Young w/ Titus O’Neil vs. Antonio Cesaro w/ Jack Swagger & Zeb Colter


Cesaro landed a dropkick immediately and started to get the heat on the apparent new babyface. Young showed some fight, but Antonio cut him off with a sleeper then scored a clothesline for a two count. Young came back with a clothesline of his own then he made a comeback and got a two count off a northern-lights. The finish came when Swagger jumped on the apron and Titus yanked him off; Cesaro hooked a school-boy, but only got two then Young delivered a hotshot and hit his gutbuster move to get the pin.


Darren Young defeated Antonio Cesaro via pinfall, at 2:30.


Not much to this one either. It’s strange that the PTPs are now babyfaces; about as strange as Darren Young coming out days before the second biggest show of the year, to a TMZ reporter who just happened to be at the same airport, who just happened to ask about homosexuality. Hey I’m all for equality, but I found the whole thing completely laughable. Not just because of how big everybody was playing up a story, which in all honesty shouldn’t have even been a story in 2013, but when other people in the company started coming out saying they had “no idea” about Young, is when I realised this whole thing was a media stunt.


Ry-bully was hanging out in the back. Some goofball approached him and asked for an autograph for his son, “Billy”. Ryback said that was a stupid name, but claimed he was only joking then signed a generic WWE multi-person picture. The guy, who was BACKSTAGE remember, couldn’t read the signature and asked Ryback what his name was, because he hadn’t seen WWE in a while, however he said his son never missed a show. Ryback ripped up the picture and told the guy, to tell his son, that he had a scrawny, pencil-necked fool for a father.

I can’t believe I am going to say this, but I thought Ryback was awesome here. Sure these skits of him bullying random nobodies are getting old faster than his old “feed me more” shtick, but I thought he played an arrogant, cocky bully perfectly. He seemed to be a more overtly conceited meathead here; to see what I mean, pay attention to his line, “a favour from the big guy!”


Cole told us CM Punk had accepted Curtis Axel’s challenge via tweet and they hyped the match for Monday. The cage lowered from the ceiling for the main event. Daniel Bryan was out first then Barrett came through the curtain. They showed Bryan shaving Wade on Raw, three weeks ago.


Steel Cage Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett.


Bryan landed some strikes, but Wade caught him with a boot to the face then ran him into the cage. Bryan low-bridged Barrett, who crashed into the cage, then threw more kicks and strikes, however Barrett shut him down with a Traylor-slam. Wade still had the heat after the break, Bryan fought back and landed a headbutt while Barrett was on the apron. Bryan repeatedly rammed Wade into the cage and did his running dropkicks up against the cage then tried to climb over the top. Wade cut him off, however Bryan scored with a missile dropkick for a near-fall then unloaded some more kicks. Barrett ducked a head-kick, threw Bryan into the cage and hit a big clothesline to get a two count. Bryan countered wasteland by grabbing onto the cage and balancing on the top rope; Wade managed to land an electric chair anyway and got a near-fall. Barrett tried to climb out; Bryan stopped him and teased a German suplex off the top, however obviously that would not be allowed, so Wade landed a back elbow which dropped Bryan to the canvas. Wade got one leg over the top of the cage, but Bryan dragged him back inside and landed some kicks while the two battled on the top rope. Bryan delivered a sunset-flip powerbomb off the top for the double-down then the finish saw Bryan unleash his huge running busaiku knee to get the three.


Daniel Bryan defeated Wade Barrett via pinfall, at 9:20 (TV Time).


Bryan celebrated with his “Yes” chant around the ringside, but Randy Orton appeared from under the ring and dropped him with an RKO.


The main event was entertaining with some pretty fun spots and I’m totally behind Bryan using the knee strike as a finish. I assume this was the “blow-off” for the little sub-feud between Bryan & Barrett, which means some other mid-card geek will have to put Bryan over on his way to another title shot. Orton coming out from under the ring was done well and with that RKO, we went right back to where we were at the end of Raw. I would just keep heaping the heat on Orton and have him lay out Bryan on every show until Night of Champions, where I imagine Bryan will be screwed again or at least come within an inch of winning.


SmackDown was pretty dull this week, but stuck to the formula of having a solid-to-good match in the middle of the show and a fun main event; the opening segment was also fine and gave us Orton vs. Bryan for the PPV. Not much else of any real importance occurred; Rollins & Reigns cut a fine promo, which Henry & Show no-sold, plus Dolph beat Big E again and Cody jobbed to the IC Champ. It is clear Van Dam will be facing Del Rio at Night of Champions, however I assume they are saving that announcement, and perhaps a wacky angle, for Raw. This is one of those weeks where I would recommend trying to find the 45 minute international edition of the show, or just wait for them to show the important bits on Raw.


Bits & Pieces


The two remaining cities bidding for WrestleMania 31 in 2015 are San Francisco and Philadelphia. In terms of enthusiasm San Francisco is a head by quite a bit, but that enthusiasm is working against them in some ways, as they are putting out information when they aren’t supposed to. When it comes to a personal trip to Mania my chances start going up at around 31, so it will be interesting to see how this develops.


New Japan has announced that its Destruction show will be taking place on September 28th from Kobe live on iPPV. The show is headlined by Kazuchika Okada defending against Satoshi Kojima, and the majority of the card is comprised of rematches. We will be running down the card in full next week.


It was announced this week that TNA had released SoCal Val due to cost cuts, but at the same time TJ Perkins was signed to a permanent deal, which shouldn’t mean much given that he has already held the X title.


Money in the Bank did a buyrate of 146,000 North American buys, which is quite the ways up from last year.


Next Week’s Issue


Next week we continue on the road to issue 100 with a preview of New Japan’s Destruction show, more SummerSlam fallout, RAW, hopefully a spotlight on Cesaro/Zayn and Okada/Ibushi, NXT, SmackDown. iMPACT and more!




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