Cubed Circle Newsletter #46: Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Part I, New Japan Dominion, RAW, SmackDown & The Finals of the NXT Title Tournament – Huge!

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Cubed Circle Newsletter

 

We have a newsletter filled to the very brim with content for you this week, as we take a look at the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame with Part 1 of our coverage, Dominion sees the light of day, RAW with a cage match between CM Punk and Jerry Lawler, Impact with some great matches and Ben Carass covers SmackDown and NXT with the finals of the Gold Rush Title Tournament. As always you can subscribe to the newsletter by emailing subscriptions@cubedcirclewrestling.com with your name and email address or by visiting http://www.cubedcirclewrestling.com/blog/site-announcements/subscribe-via-email-now-available/

 

Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame 2012 Part I: John Cena, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Brock Lesnar

 

The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame is one of the most prestigious awards in professional wrestling and the annual Hall of Fame issue of the Observer is something that I look forward to every year as a fan of professional wrestling history. Looking at the list of men and women who have been inducted into the hall of fame since the inaugural class of 1996 through 2011 really paints a picture of the pro wrestling business, pretty much since its inception and that is the reason why serious debate and discussion is so important.

 

This is why over the next couple of weeks we are going to look over a list of major candidates from both the modern and historical categories. This week we look at some of the newly eligible modern candidates – John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and Hiroshi Tanahashi. Over the next couple of weeks we will also cover some of the newly eligible non-active candidates, as well as some people who have been on the ballet for some time, but haven’t made it in for one reason or another.

 

John Cena

 

According to the Hall of Fame criteria, John Cena is just about as close as you are going to get as a lock, so much so that I would say with 98% surety that he is getting inducted this year. He has been pretty much the face of the company for seven years and is one of the only guaranteed ratings movers left in the WWE. In a time when the company name is more of a draw than any one person in the company.

 

Cena is so trusted and the formula has proven successful for so long that there is really no room for another number one babyface in the company and that’s the way that it has been for years. And for better or for worse without Cena the company would have probably found itself in quite a bit of trouble over the past few years.

 

In a time where ratings and merchandise sales have meant so much, Cena has been a near constant mover and apart from a few brief stints no one has really overtaken him when it comes to merchandise sales.

 

There is no harder working man or women in professional wrestling than John Cena. From Make A Wish to house shows, media appearances and interviews, almost nobody else would probably be able to bare the schedule, let alone handle it for how long Cena has.

 

With that said Cena still has critics and many of their criticisms are valid. The most commonly brought up critique on Cena himself is the matter of him not being technically sound, which is true – in no shape or form is Cena the best worker in the company. However, workrate alone is not enough to get you into the Hall of Fame and nor should it be. Regardless, Cena is more than serviceable as a worker.

 

Granted Cena is relatively young and some voters have a problem with voting in younger, currently active performers, which is reasonable. After all Cena’s story and the rest of the people that we are going to talk about in this issues stories’ have not been completely told. But, no one in wrestling’s story is ever really told during their lifetime, is it?

 

There is a minimum age (which, probably should be increased, but that is a different story) and maybe he won’t get as much of a majority for some of those reasons, but he will get in this year.

 

He is not a perfect performer. He is not Ricky Steamboat. His bad comedy and antics of the sort have rubbed some people the wrong, but at the end of the day he is the face of modern day wrestling. That is not only in theUnited Statesmind you, Cena in my nativeSouth Africais a huge superstar and it is like that in many countries – maybe even more so than theUnited States.

 

At the end of the day Cena deserves his spot under the criteria presented for the Hall of Fame. If you don’t want to vote for him due to his age, fine, I can accept that. However, he has met the minimum age, he is the biggest star of this generation and he will be apart of the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Class of 2012 – that I can almost guarantee.

 

Hiroshi Tanahashi

 

Tanahashi in many ways is in the same situation as John Cena when it comes to position in a company. He is New Japan’s ace and in many ways for quite a while a more important asset to the company than Cena was to the WWE. With Tanahashi on top New Japan was able to rise back up to pretty good standings from a very bad position.

 

Tanahashi won his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship on July 17th 2006, becoming the first champion post-Brock Lesnar fiasco. He went on to lose the belt to Yuji Nagata 270 days later. He then won the title back in 2007 and had a short reign losing the championship to Nakamura. He defeated Keiji Mutoh to win the championship for a third time. He had another short reign in 2009 and finally reclaimed the belt for a fifth time in 2011 and held onto the championship for over 400 days, in arguably his best and most important reign.

 

The four hundred day championship reign, together with being an integral part of the rebuilding process of the company makes him a strong contender already. Then you factor in his phenomenal workrate and ability to have a great match with just about anyone in a big match situation and he really is one strong candidate.

 

Tanahashi was the man on top when New Japan passed their rebuilding stage of sorts and moved into an era where they actually became a successful company once again. Tanahashi was the epitome of a top babyface during the time and in some ways did a better job in his role as a top face than Cena. More over, he had great matches night in and night out and was adored by pretty much the whole of the New Japan fan base. He was the guy to close of the shows thanking the crowd and still is.

 

The only real argument I can see for not putting him into the Hall of Fame is really a similar argument to Cena’s and that is for making room for other people on the ballot. Tanahashi’s story is far from finished, he still has a good while as one of the guys on top and who knows, he might land up like a Yuji Nagata and stay with the company, having great matches for another decade.

 

Tanahashi ticks pretty much every box available as a candidate for the Hall of Fame, however I am slightly more sceptical of him getting in this year than Cena. Not because he deserves it less than Cena, because he may even deserve it more, but more because of exposure and people becoming hesitant to vote for someone of Tanahashi’s age. Sure Cena is in a similar situation, but he is the face of professional wrestling and Tanahashi is not, which makes Tanahashi’s inclusion as a 2012 Wrestling Observer Hall of Famer a little more precarious. However, even if he doesn’t make it in this year, he is bound to make it into the Hall of Fame in the next few years and for that I think you can be pretty certain.

 

Brock Lesnar

 

Although on the surface Lesnar looks like a really strong contender to some people, he is actually a very unique case. Whether Lesnar is inducted into the Hall of Fame comes down to whether you count his MMA career or not. If his UFC run is counted than he would be certain for the Hall of Fame at some point. However, if you remove his MMA tenure from the equation it becomes a much different story.

 

Brock Lesnar as a wrestling performer was strong at one point, but he hasn’t gone far enough in some of the criteria to warrant an induction. He held the WWE Championship on a total of two occasions, with both of them being pretty standard runs for the time. He had one very big match with the Rock at Summer Slam 2002, but other than that and his WrestleMania XIX match against Kurt Angle his reigns as champion were for the most part average.

 

Lesnar can have a great match when put in with the right guy, but by absolutely no means is he a masterful technician. He is also pretty average on the mic and when building to most of his big matches he either went through a mouth piece in Paul Heyman or used physical action to build to the match. These accolades make for a great career, but are not Hall of Fame calibre.

 

However, if you consider his MMA career, things change drastically. He mainevented one of the biggest if not the biggest UFC event of all time in UFC 100 and drew an absolutely colossal buyrate for the show – the biggest in company history. This also wasn’t a one time occurrence either, as he has done a very good buyrate almost every time out.

 

The special thing about the buys that he drew to each show was that a large portion of them were wrestling fans that were brought over to the UFC purely to watch Lesnar fight. Some stayed, some went, but at the end of the day for every Brock fight he was drawing professional wrestling fans to mixed martial arts.

 

There is probably one person already in the Hall of Fame that was inducted due to the to his success in mixed martial arts as a compliment to his pro wrestling career and that man is Kazushi Sakuraba. While Sakuraba probably wouldn’t have made it in with pure wrestling credentials alone, the Japanese mentality in regard to pro wrestling and MMA is so different that the two can probably not be compared with much accuracy.

 

Apart from it being a different time period inJapan, pro wrestling and MMA blend together and it was even more evident in the 90s. PRIDE was in many ways a pro wrestling company, far more than the UFC has been or ever will be. Therefore, the argument really comes down to whether or not drawing pro wrestling fans in and moving them to another product is a classification for Hall of Fame induction.

 

It’s a matter of whether you want to consider pro wrestling and MMA two sides of the same coin – brothers or cousins if you will or if you want to separate them. If you are going to view them as very much related then I could see your argument, as I tend to consider myself apart of that camp as well. But, if you do not then I can’t see how you could vote him in, because that would open the flood gates for all sorts of people from within wrestling, who have succeeded in other ventures to be brought into the Hall of Fame and that wouldn’t really be representative of the Hall of Fame’s spirit.

 

I personally wouldn’t vote him in, because I wouldn’t view it as right for a pro wrestling Hall of Fame. Even though I openly recognize the fact that both MMA and wrestling have the same origin and are based off of the same principles. But, I could possibly see the argument for people who have that point of view.

 

I could see Lesnar getting in at some point, especially as the years wear on. I don’t see him doing anything career defining on the rest of his run with the WWE, but I could be wrong. And if he does something extraordinary then I would probably say yes, but as of right now I wouldn’t personally select him as a Hall of Famer. Is this the view of the majority of the voters? Time will tell.

 

NJPW Dominion June 16th 2012

Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, Osaka, Japan

 

Overall Thoughts

 

The main thing that people are going to want to know about Dominion is whether it was worth the wait. And I am pleased to report that the answer is a resounding yes. From the great booking of the Jr. Tag Match to the outstanding mainevent, this show was in many ways a showcase of New Japan’s greatness. Greatness, that doesn’t only permeate in-ring work, but booking as well. The mainevent match was masterfully crafted and everything else on the card was at least solid. If you are looking for a reason to watch New Japan Pro Wrestling you have found it.

 

1.KotaIbushi, Kenny Omega & Daisuke Sasaki vs. Prince Devitt, KUSHIDA & BUSHI

 

Devitt and Ibushi started off with the fans heavily behind Devitt. Devitt locked in a hold on the arm, Ibushi transitioned into a top wrist lock, which was followed by an athletic exchange. KUSHIDA and Sasaki were tagged in. Both men had a great athletic exchange full of counters. BUSHI and Omega were brought in next. BUSHI caught Omega with a kick and missile dropkick followed by a springboard hurricanrana to the outside. BUSHI removed his mask to reveal another and threw it into the crowd in celebration. BUSHI went for a flying head scissors, but Omega landed a back suplex. This led to Omega’s team landing their respective dives onto Devitt’s team on the outside. Ibushi and Omega double teamed BUSHI and Sasaki was tagged in, landing a dropkick for the count of two. Omega went for a kick in the corner, BUSHI moved and landed a missile dropkick. BUSHI then landed an enzuigiri on Omega and made the tag to Devitt. He landed a chop on Omega who slipped and slid, he then caught him with a dropkick, he went for his topé, but Sasaki pulled his leg. This led to brief chaos, before Devitt and KUSHIDA landed stereo topé con giros onto Sasaki and Omega. Devitt landed the double foot stomp on Devitt for the count of two, but he was caught with a kick to the side of the head. KUSHIDA intervened, he was caught by Sasaki, but Devitt caught him with a lariat. Devitt went after Omega, but his leg was clipped by Sasaki. BUSHI and Ibushi went at it, with Ibushi landing the standing phoenix splash for two. He went to the top rope, but BUSHI caught him with some strikes and landed the Spanish Fly for the count of two. Ibushi landed a kick to the head of BUSHI, he went for the powerbomb, but BUSHI got a rollup. Ibushi caught him with a lariat for two and caught him with the last ride powerbomb for the win in 10:48. This was a very fun Junior’s match even though we have seen this match countless times.

***

 

2. Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Rocky Romero vs. Yuji Nagata, Wataru Inoue & Captain NewJapan

 

Ishii and Nagata started off by immediately entering into a thunderous forearm exchange. Nagata got the upper hand with a kick to the chest, Ishii made it to his feet no sold the kicks and landed some slaps. However, Nagata responded with a slap of his own which led to an even more heated slap battle. Ishii landed a headbutt, but was caught with a release belly to belly suplex. Nagata and Ishii made their respective tags to HASHI and Inoue. Which, suffice to say was a less thunderous battle then the one that came before it. Romero interfered, but Inoue was able to force him out of the ring. However, the distraction served its role and Inoue was taken to the outside by HASHI. NewJapanwas shouting at a referee, everyone brawled on the outside and the heel team garnered the upper hand. Romero landed flying double knees to a grounded Inoue and tagged in Ishii. Romero got in his lariat spot, but was eventually halted by HASHI to land duelling lariats on Inoue. HASHI and Romero shook hands like gentlemen after their work was done. HASHI and Inoue exchanged some chops, but Inoue was able to land a backbreaker and tagged in Nagata. Nagata landed some kicks, a big boot and an exploder on HASHI. Romero tried to halt Nagata, but was only thrown to the outside. Nagata landed some elbows and knees on HASHI followed by a big neckbreaker. Ishii was tagged in for round two. Nagata caught him with a big boot, he was caught a lariat, but Nagata responded with a big exploder. He tagged in New Japan who knocked the heel team off of the apron and took Ishii down with a body press. He went to the top rope, but Ishii moved out of the way of the headbutt and the face team was knocked off of the apron. However, New Japan was able to land a big slam on Ishii. He taunted for his finished, but Romero ran in. He was taken out by Inoue. NewJapanheld Ishii for Nagata’s kick, but Ishii moved and Nagata landed a boot on New Japan. Ishii then caught New Japan with a brainbuster for the win in 09:26. Nagata and Ishii went back to the forearm exchange after the match, but were sadly pulled apart. I would recommend this match if only for the interaction between Ishii and Nagata.

***

 

3. Match For The Vacant IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles

Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask vs. TAKA Michinoku & Taichi

 

Michinoku was pulled into the ring from the outside by Tiger Mask who landed some kicks and made the tag to Liger. Liger landed a big lariat in the corner and perched Michinoku up on the top rope, but he was ambushed by Taichi who attempted to unmask Liger. Liger landed some slaps on Michinoku who landed an eye poke and went after the mask. Liger slapped the chest of Taichi who mocked Liger and brought him back down to the ground. Michinoku landed a knee in the corner following a lariat from Taichi. Taichi followed this with a knee to the groin. Taichi ripped off the tights, but Liger landed a low kick and made the tag to Tiger Mask. Tiger Mask landed some kicks and a tilt-o-whirl backbreaker followed by a powerbomb for two. Michinoku ran in with a knee and caught Tiger Mask with one on the ground. Tiger Mask landed a kick to the gut and a slap, he went for the Tiger Suplex, but it was blocked. Tiger Mask was pushed into the referee and Michinoku and Taichi took full control of the match. Taichi landed a shot to the back of Liger with the chair and then took a rookie out at ringside. Then came the spectacular finish (which, was actually up on the front page of cubedcirclewrestling.com for weeks) Taichi began to unmask Liger piece by piece mocking Liger like he had been doing as of late. He began to tear Liger’s mask open, but underneath Liger had the Kishin face paint on and spat red mist in the eyes of Michinoku and Taichi. He then grabbed a table and placed it in the corner. He threw Taichi into it and pulled out a spike, he attempted to kill Taichi who moved and the spike went through the table. Taichi cowered and Liger set the table up in the middle of the ring, he then powerbombed Taichi through the table and threw the table at Michinoku who was taken down with a missile dropkick. Tiger Mask landed the standing moonsault double knees and a Tiger Suplex on Michinoku for the win in 09:20. After the match Liger donned his old mask.

 

Even though Tiger Mask and Liger went on to have the shortest reign in the history of the titles, the story telling of this angle was just masterful on New Japan’s part. Taichi and been trying to damask Liger for months, so Liger got the better of him by preparing for it, spitting in the heels face and winning the championships. It couldn’t have gone any better and it didn’t need long convoluted angles or promos either. It was just a simple story, with a great payoff and it worked.

*** ½

 

4. Karl Anderson & TamaTongavs. MVP & Shelton Benjamin

 

This was deemed a match for “Gaijin pride!” MVP and Anderson had an athletic exchange and the tags were made to Benjamin andTongarespectively.Tongalocked in a head scissors, Benjamin grabbed a headlock, butTongafought out and landed some shots to the arm of Benjamin. Benjamin fought out of an arm hold with an armdrag andTongalanded a hurricanrana. Benjamin responded with a belly to belly suplex. MVP was tagged in, he landed a boot in the corner and Benjamin landed a splash. MVP attempted to make a pin, but it was broken up byAnderson.Tongacame off of the top with a crossbody and the tag was made to Anderson who landed a big back senton.Tongawas tagged back in and he landed some headbutts to the back of MVP.Tongalanded an elbow drop for two and tagged inAndersononce again. MVP landed a backbreaker superkick combination with Benjamin and the tag was made. Benjamin landed a suplex for the count of two, landed some shots in the corner and tagged MVP back in.Andersonlanded an uppercut, but MVP responded with a knee and the “ballin” elbow drop for two.Andersonmoved out of the way of a boot from MVP and landed a big sit-out powerbomb for two. He went back up to the top rope and landed a diving neckbreaker for two. MVP and Anderson exchanged strikes and collided in the centre of the ring with a double clothesline. The tags were made to Benjamin andTonga.Tongagot a rollup for the count of two and Benjamin was caught with a big chop fromTonga.Tongagot his splash in the corner and landed a flying crossbody, MVP broke it up and he landed a plancha ontoAndersonon the outside.Tongawent back to the top, but Benjamin got the straight vertical leap into the belly to belly suplex and landed Pay Dirt for the win in 10:19.

** ¾

 

5. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship Match

Low Ki vs. Ryusuke Taguchi

 

Ki went straight after Taguchi like in their previous matches, but Taguchi moved and a strike battle ensued. Taguchi landed a monkey flip and dropkick from the top knocking Ki to the outside. This allowed Taguchi to land his topé con giro. Taguchi landed some shots in the corner, but Ki slipped under Taguchi and landed a kick to his knee. Taguchi rolled to the outside, where Ki landed another kick to the leg. Ki dropped Taguchi on his leg on the outside and Taguchi made it in at nineteen. Ki kicked the leg of Taguchi and locked in a single legBostoncrab. Taguchi slapped the chest of Ki. Ki responded with a kick to the chest of Taguchi and an Indian deathlock. Taguchi landed some fiery elbows, but his leg was kicked once again forcing him to the mat. He landed a couple more shots, but Ki placed Taguchi in the tree of woe and went after the knee. After being reprimanded Ki gave an evil smirk. Taguchi landed some shots and forced Ki into the turnbuckle. However, he was caught with the knee from the top rope position from Ki. Ki ran into the turnbuckle and he was thrown from post to post by Taguchi. Taguchi landed a dropkick, but Ki blocked a suplex and landed a kick. Taguchi grabbed a dropkick off of a sunset flip and landed two of the three amigos. Ki grabbed the leg. Taguchi landed an enzuigiri and a front suplex for two. Taguchi came out of the corner with a lariat for the count of two and went for the chickenwing facebuster, but Ki rolled Taguchi up and landed a standing double foot stomp. Ki wet for the Ki Krush, but only got a small package. He landed the Liger kick, which allowed him to land the Ki Krush, but Taguchi kicked out in a great nearfall. Ki missed the rolling kick and was caught with the chickenwing facebuster for two. Taguchi went for it again, Ki countered, he missed a springboard bodypress, Taguchi went for the facebuster, but Ki reversed it in midair and landed the double footstomp. Ki locked in the cloverleaf. Taguchi made it to the ropes. Ki was infuriated and untaped Taguchi’s knee went for the double foot stomp, but he was caught with a slap from Taguchi. Taguchi went for the chickenwing facebuster from the top. However, he was dropped down into the tree of woe and caught with the double foot stomp for the win 12:32. After the match Ibushi challenged Ki saying “I want challenged you”, “this belt is mine” and “next champion is me”. Ki responded in Japanese – he should become an anime voice actor.

*** ¾

 

6. IWGP Tag Team Title Match

 Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima

 

Toro Yano & Iizuka vs. TenKoji for the millionth time. Once again the announcer was brutalized, but his shirt was saved thanks to Tenzan and Kojima. They brawled in the crowd for ages. Both teams were counted out. Yano called them morons (I think) and they left with the belts. However, the match was restarted and they brawled some more. Finally the match reached the ring where Kojima and Tenzan beat Iizuka down. Tenzan landed a headbutt and took Iizuka down with a lariat while Kojima killed Yano on the outside with a chair. Iizuka was thrown into the ring post and Kojima was thrown into the guardrail. Iizuka landed a shot to the back of Tenzan with a chair and Yano beat Kojima down. Iizuka wore Tenzan down in the ring as the fans got behind Tenzan. Iizuka brought Tenzan down to the ground and slapped on a choke, he would not relinquish the hold, but eventually Kojima broke it up. Iizuka tagged in Yano and he was thrown from post to post. Finally Tenzan landed a lariat in the corner and stomped Yano. He landed the bulldog from the top rope for two and landed some Mongolian chops, but he was taken back down to the ground by Yano. Yano landed some Mongolian chops of his own, but he was caught with a leg lariat from Tenzan. The tag was made to Kojima who landed the machine gun chops on Yano. Kojima went to the top and he landed an elbow for the count of two. Kojima and Yano exchanged strikes. Kojima landed a flurry of elbows and a DDT. Yano got a rollup for two and brought Kojima up for a powerbomb, but he fought out and landed an ace crusher. The fans got behind Kojima. The tag was made to Iizuka and Tenzan was taken off of the apron. Iizuka went for a lariat, Tenzan pulled the leg, which allowed TenKoji to land two 3Ds on Iizuka for two. Kojima went for the big lariat, but was caught with a shot from Yano. Iizuka brought a chair in, Kojima rustled the chair away, but Iizuka pushed the referee into the chair. Iizuka grabbed the claw, but he was caught with a shot to the back from Tenzan with the chair. Tenzan and Yano jousted with the chair, Yano got the advantage, but Kojima held him back which allowed Tenzan to land a chair shot which had it ruled a no contest! After all of that a no contest? This is the most frustrating feud in New Japan Pro Wrestling.

* ¾

 

7. Shinsuke Nakamura & Masato Tanaka vs. Tetsuya Naito & Hirooki Goto

 

Goto landed a huge chop to the chest of Nakamura, which led to a big elbow exchange. Goto was taken down with a knee, some chain wrestling followed, culminating in a lariat from Goto and a tag to Naito. Nakamura landed to boots to the gut of Naito and tagged in Tanaka. Naito landed an armdrag and a dropkick to a grounded Tanaka. The fans chanted for Naito. Naito and Tanaka exchanged elbows, Naito got the better of the exchange, but was caught with a big elbow in the corner. Nakamura knocked Goto off of the apron and Tanaka landed some knees to the gut of Naito followed by an abdominal stretch. Nakamura was tagged in, the feisty Naito attempted to fight back, but he was quickly overwhelmed with some knees to the gut. Nakamura dropped a big knee, but Goto broke the pin up. Tanaka was tagged back in. Tanaka landed some elbows, Naito landed some shots to both Nakamura and Tanaka, but Tanaka landed a suplex and dropped some elbows for the count of two. Nakamura landed some knees to the chest of Naito, but Naito cut him off with a dropkick before he could land a large running knee. Nakamura missed the running knee in the corner, Naito landed a tornado DDT off Nakamura onto Tanaka and landed a neckbreaker on Nakamura. The tag was made to Goto who unloaded on Nakamura, Tanaka broke it up, he held Goto for a kick from Nakamura, but Goto moved and Tanaka was caught with the kick. Goto then landed a lariat and back drop driver for two. Goto landed a short powerbomb and a Samoan drop, Tanaka broke the pin up, but Naito took him to the outside. Goto went for the Shouten Kai, but Nakamura landed some knees and knocked Goto the ground with a big kick. Nakamura landed some kicks that fired Goto up, Goto was enraged, but Nakamura caught him with an axe kick and modified flapjack. He went for the Boma Ye, but Nakamura was caught with a big lariat leaving both men in the middle of the ring. Both men made their respective tags. Naito landed a big dropkick and landed a leg sweep and missile dropkick on Tanaka. Tanaka landed some large lariats in the corner for the count of two. Tanaka landed another elbow, but Naito responded with one of his own, this led to Goto knocking Nakamura off the apron and both men landed some double teams. Naito landed a German suplex, but Tanaka broke it up. He and Goto brawled on the outside, while Naito landed a backbreaker. He went for the star dust splash, but he was clipped by Nakamura allowing for Tanaka to land a powerbomb. Tanaka landed a huge lariat and a brainbuster, but Goto broke it up. Tanaka hit the running elbow to a downed Naito, but he still kicked out. Naito ducked a second attempt and got a small package, but he was caught with a Boma Ye from out of nowhere! This allowed Tanaka to land the big elbow on the ground for the win in 13:28. This was a really fun match, the finish was really good and it didn’t feel like Naito was hurt all that much from it.

*** ¼

 

8. Togi Makabe vs. Minoru Suzuki

 

Eternal rivals once again. Both men landed chest slaps, with Makabe gaining a brief advantage, but Suzuki was able to land some big shots. He knocked Makabe down to the mat and landed some more shots. He and Makabe exchanged strikes once again, but Makabe took advantage this time with a shoulder block and lariat. However, Makabe was hung up leg first in the ropes, which led to Makabe landing some kicks. Makabe was hung up on the guardrail and Suzuki caught him with a boot to the leg. The announcers pointed out that Suzuki was taking away Makabe’s King Kong Knee. Suzuki continued to wear down the knee ramming it against the ring post. Makabe attempted to land some offense, but Suzuki caught a boot and locked in an ankle lock. Makabe made it to the ropes as the fans got behind Makabe. Suzuki was caught with a snap powerslam, followed by some lariats and shots in the corner. Makabe went for the northern lights suplex, but Suzuki grabbed a front facelock. However, Makabe countered it into a vertical suplex for the count of two. Suzuki landed a boot and kicks to a grounded Makabe, followed by one final kick knocking him to the mat for two. Suzuki grabbed the sleeper, but decided to go for the Gotch Style Piledriver. However, Makabe back dropped his way out of it and landed a big lariat. An elbow exchange ensued from the kneeling position, they worked to their feet, and Suzuki landed some headbutts and kicked the leg of Makabe. He locked in a leg lock, but Makabe made it to the ropes after a struggle. Suzuki went right back to it, but Makabe fought out with some boots and landed a lariat. Makabe went to the top rope for the King Kong Knee, Suzuki moved and locked a leg lock back in. Makabe was dragged to the centre of the ring; Makabe landed some strikes, but still couldn’t make his way out as Suzuki locked it in deeper. Finally Makabe made it to the ropes. He was still overpowered by Suzuki who locked in a sleeper, Makabe began to fade and dropped down to one knee. Makabe managed to land a lariat followed by a Death Valley Driver. Suzuki stomped and kicked the knee again, but Makabe didn’t go down and landed a big lariat. Makabe caught Suzuki with a lariat to the back of the head and perched him on the top rope where he landed a spider suplex after some resistance. Suzuki however climbed back up, Makabe forced him off of the top with strikes and he finally landed the King Kong Knee to the back of Makabe’s head. Then for some reason or another he landed another in 16:21 for the win, which wasn’t really necessary to the story of the match. Regardless, even though we have seen this match in some form or another a thousand times this was really good.

*** ¼

 

9. IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match

Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

 

Okada and Tanahashi engaged in a battle of strength, which Tanahashi won taking Okada down to the ground with a headlock. Tanahashi landed a shoulder block, but Okada stood his ground and locked in a headlock of his own. Okada took Tanahashi off his feet with a shoulderblock, but Tanahashi moved out of the way of the back senton. Tanahashi dragged Okada to the mat and rammed his leg into the ring post, Okada sold well. Back in the ring and Tanahashi clipped the leg of Okada landing knees to his leg. Tanahashi locked in a hold on the leg, but Okada nudged his way to the ropes. Okada landed an elbow, but Tanahashi landed kicks to the leg and a bodyslam. Tanahashi was caught at the top and knocked to the outside, but he skinned the cat and went after the leg once again. Okada then perched Tanahashi on the top rope and landed a dropkick knocking him down to the floor below. Tanahashi was whipped into the guardrail and booted over. Tanahashi was strangled in the guardrail and thrown back into the ring. Okada locked in a three quarter facelock as the fans got behind Tanahashi. Tanahashi made it to the ropes and landed some kicks to the knee of Okada. Tanahashi landed a couple of slaps to Okada, but Okada responded with a really high dropkick to the face of Tanahashi. Okada then caught Tanahashi with a big running boot to the face. Okada landed a neckbreaker for two and landed some uppercuts in the corner. Tanahashi responded with elbows, but was knocked back down with one big elbow. Tanahashi landed shots to the head and body followed by a running forearm. Tanahashi landed some more strikes and cut Okada off with a dropkick to the knee. Okada was dropkicked to the outside and was caught with a high fly flow to the floor. Back in the ring Okada landed a flapjack and a DDT proceeded a three quarter face lock. He landed elbows while holding onto the hold. Tanahashi made it to the ropes. Okada landed an elbow, he went for the rainmaker, but Tanahashi ducked. Okada brought him up, but Tanahashi reversed and was caught with a dropkick to his back. Tanahashi got a rollup and a couple of dragon screws. Tanahashi locked in the cloverleaf, Okada almost made it to the ropes, but he was pulled to the centre and Tanahashi leaned right back. Okada finally made it to the ropes and Tanahashi did the rainmaker pose. He landed the straight jacket suplex for two and Okada shook his head. Tanahashi got a fisherman’s buster, but Okada moved out of the way of the high fly flow. This led to Okada chants! Okada caught Tanahashi with the over the shoulder belly to back over the knee neckbreaker for two and caught him with another for the same result. Tanahashi ducked the rainmaker again, Okada went for the tombstone it was countered and Tanahashi landed a bridging German suplex for the count of two. The crowd was super hot at this point. Tanahashi got the high fly flow to the back, but Okada got the knees up for the second time. Okada and Tanahashi exchanged elbows and knee strikes respectively. Tanahashi was brought to the ground by Okada, brought back up and then knocked back down again with uppercuts. Okada got Tanahashi up for the tombstone, Tanahashi dropped down both men tried to get it, Okada got him up again, but Tanahashi turned Okada over and landed it. He couldn’t get the cover. Both men were back on their feet, they had an exchange of counters, Tanahashi landed the sling blade and high fly flow clean for the win 28:06. The crowd was going insane jumping up and down.

 

When the news first broke a few months ago of Tanahashi beating Okada for the championship I was originally quite disappointed. But, after watching the match and Okada winning the G1 I am really looking forward to their rematch. In many ways this will be better for Okada, simply because he won the G1 and will probably win the championship back at the Tokyo Dome Show.

**** ½

 

WWE Monday Night RAW August 27th 2012

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

 

Overall Thoughts

 

This week’s edition of RAW was better than last week’s in some ways. I can’t say that it flowed better or felt shorter, because it certainly did not. However the Punk match and the segment that followed at the end of the show were very good – I was a big fan of what I presume is going to be the full blown heel turn. The Kane andBryansegment were entertaining, but I really wasn’t happy withBryanlosing to Truth interference or not. Triple H was also very good in his segment for what it’s worth and Cena and Miz had a decent match. All in all this wasn’t a good show, but it wasn’t a bad show either – it seems that three hour RAWs are indeed the land of mediocrity.

 

The show opened up with a video package from last week’s closing segment. A tweet was shown from Jerry Lawler from last week, while Cole was reading it off Lawler walked into the ring.

 

Lawler had something to get off of his chest. He said that he made a comment that CM Punk viewed as derogatory and he admitted that he “misspoke”. He said he apologized out of respect for the WWE title and after he apologized he was kicked in the head. Due to the kick to the head he wanted an apology from Punk, which led to a CM Punk chant. Punk came out.

 

Punk’s mic wasn’t working all to well at first. He quoted Lawler from the 1000th episode of RAW. He said that he justifiably beat the crap out of the Rock due to his lack of respect. He said that he was not a bad guy and it was his fault that Punk kicked him in his “stupid head” because he didn’t show Punk respect. He said he was sorry – sorry that that the only thing that he had to do to get into the WWE Hall of Fame was to beat some people inMemphis and slap a celebrity. He said Lawler’s disrespect stemmed from never winning the WWE championship and when he got his Mania moment it was a loss to Michael Cole. He was sorry that the only thing that Lawler does is repeat anything that is spoken into his ear. He was sorry about the man that Lawler had become. He asked if Lawler was upset and asked if he wanted to fight – Punk said that Lawler was just a commentator and he was the best in the world. And he knew this because the crowd paid to see him humiliate Lawler.

 

Lawler said that he came for an apology not a fight and Punk said that he knew that Lawler wasn’t asking for a fight – but he could tell that he wanted one. He said that he was the best in the world and asked if he wasn’t who was. He asked if Lawler was. He said that Lawler would leave embarrassed that night by either not excepting his challenge or because Punk would beat him within an inch of his life. He then left the ring and Lawler said that he would think about it.

 

1. Ryback vs. Jack Swagger

 

Swagger landed some knees to the gut, but Ryback landed some of his own followed by a boot to the chest. Ryback shoved Swagger into the mat, but Swagger was able to land a shoulder block and body slam. Swagger went for the splash, Ryback got the legs up, Swagger went for the ankle lock, but Ryback countered and dropped Swagger on his head in what I think was supposed to be a back bodydrop. The fans chanted feed me more and Ryback landed a clothesline and the marching Samoan drop for the win. I felt really bad for Swagger who took that terrible drop on the neck.

 

A graphic aired of Triple H on the mat and it was announced that Triple H would be on later that night and Cena would face the Miz. Lawler was asked for his answer and he said that he was thinking about it.

 

2. Natalya vs. Layla

 

Clips were shown of the Diva’s Battle Royal of Death from last week. The multiple clothesline attempts were edited out. Vicky Guerrero came out and asked for the bell to ring and said that she had an important announcement, so she asked for both women to end the match quickly. Both women had a really sloppy match. Natalya caught Layla coming off of a baseball slide with some shots through the ring skirt. Natalya went for the sharpshooter, it was countered, Layla won with a kick to the back of the head.

 

Vicky got on the mic and requested that Layla vacate the ring – Layla obliged. She complained about the stipulation from last week, saying that it was an abuse of power and “blatantly unfair”. She said that no one had the guts to speak up to AJ except her, she said that it was time to put RAW back in the hands of someone like her and not “some mentally deranged child”, which was actually a pretty funny line.

 

AJ came skipping down to the ring. She smiled and then slapped Vicky. She took her to the ground and slapped her which led to Vicky fleeing the ring holding her face to “yes” chants from the crowd. They showed some clips of Triple H in DX, really trying to play up a retirement.

 

An anger management vignette was shown forBryan.Bryansaid that he didn’t have anger management issues like the rest of the losers in the group. They said that they were waiting for one more person in the group. A child wearing a goat mask walked in! This led toBryanfreaking out, but it turns out that the child was the therapist’s son who was staring as a goat in the school play. This, suffice to say was a wacky segment. A tweet was shown from Punk; he said that he would let Lawler have the first punch.

 

Lawler got up and stood on the table, he said that the nobodies that he beat up inMemphisincluded people like Jesse Ventura, Jack Briscoe, Superstar Billy Graham, Bill Dundee and more. He said that he didn’t know how long Punk would have lasted down there. He said that it was true that he acts like a fourteen year old sometimes and he never won the WWE championship. He said that he beat up one of the funniest comedians Andy Kaufman and that you don’t get in the WWE Hall of Fame unless you stand up when the time is right. Unless you stand up to a person that is younger than you, he said he wasn’t the best in the world, but neither was Punk. He said that he never backed down from a fight and said “Punk, damn right I will fight you!” and walked off.

 

3. John Cena vs. The Miz

 

Cena took Miz down to the mat with a headlock takeover. After the break Miz was getting frustrated rolling out of the ring and kicking the steps. Back in the ring and Cena landed a bulldog for the count of two. Miz kicked Cena to the mat and landed a boot to the face for the count of two. Miz landed the clothesline into the corner and a double axe fist. Miz locked in a headlock. Cena landed a belly to belly suplex, but Miz responded with a backbreaker/neckbreaker combo. Miz landed a couple of big boots on the mat for the count of two. Miz went for a third, but he was caught in the STF. Miz made it to the ropes and landed a DDT for the count of two. Cena countered the Skull Crushing Finale into the AA, it was countered into a facebuster for the count of two. Miz missed the clothesline and Cena fought back with some running clotheslines and a spinout powerbomb. Cena then landed the AA for the win. This was a fun match, but began to drag after a while.

 

AJ said through Cole that the fans could decide what kind of match the mainevent would be in. A tables, cage or No DQ matches were the options. Another Triple H video package was shown, this time of his quad injury and return. We had anotherBryananger management skit.Bryanwas staring into space while others spoke.Bryansaid to one guy that was complaining abut his boss that his is worse. He went through the whole story with AJ and it sounded just as preposterous as it really is.Bryansaid that he was stuck there with all of those people, when the therapist interrupted saying the last patient was there. It was Kane in mask and all. Everyone was freaking out whenBryanjust said nonchalantly that “this” is what he had to go through every week. It didn’t accomplish anything, but it was pretty fun.

 

4. Heath Slater vs. Santino Marella

 

A tOut was shown of Slater after his win over Sin Cara. Marella took Slater down with the wackiest double leg takedown; it was apparently a parody of MMA according to Cole. Slater and Marella danced and Slater knocked Marella down and landed some shots on the ground. This led to boring chants from the crowd. Marella got a small package for the count of two and landed some of his wacky strikes. He landed the running diving headbutt and put on the cobra, when Aksana’s music hit. The inanimate cobra was distracted, but still managed to strike Slater for the win. I cannot even fathom the stupidity of this angle. A sock puppet is in love with a woman, which causes Marella to lose matches. Preposterous.

 

5. Brodus Clay & Sin Cara vs. Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow

 

Cameron who would later be arrested for a DUI came out with Clay. Sandow and Rhodes did an elitist gimmick before the match which was pretty great. After the match Sandow and Rhodes were working on Cara. Cara landed a flying head scissors onRhodesand made the tag to Clay who ran wild. He landed a powerslam, but Sandow broke up the pin and landed some shots on Clay. However, Cara bridged the rope and landed a body press onto him on the outside. This led to Clay landing the headbutt and splash for the win.

 

 We had the final anger management segment. The therapist asked for Kane to remove his mask and there was of course another mask under it. They wanted to know something about Kane and he said that he was the Devil’s favourite demon. They wanted to know what made Kane angry and they asked for Kane to maybe share his childhood.Bryansaid that it was a bad idea. He said that he spent his childhood locked in a basement experiencing severe physiological trauma, he burnt his parents alive, shifted in and out of different mental institutions and then buried his brother alive twice. He kidnapped a variety of his co-workers and burned a few men he also electrocuted a man’s testicles. He had a girlfriend named Katie, but that didn’t work out. His father is a man called Paul Bearer who he locked in a meat locker recently. He has been married and divorced. He tombstoned a priest and for reasons that were not explained he has an unhealthy obsession with tombstoneing Pete Rose. Everyone looked on and the therapist said that he would call it a day and he wanted them to make an anger collage.Bryanfreaked out and insulted everyone. The one man said thank you for sharing and offered Kane a hug Kane grabbed him by the throat and told him “no problem”.

 

Sure the segment was hokey, but God was it funny to hear all of the insanely wacky angles that Kane has been apart of listed like that. The segment was also pulled off very well. All in all although it isn’t believable and it probably wouldn’t win Les Thatcher’s Favourite Segment of the Year Award I personally found it entertaining for the sole reason of how stupid some of the Kane angles have been over the years and the way that Kane delivered his lines. A thumbs up segment.

 

Another package was shown of Triple H’s career, this time focusing on his championship accomplishments.

 

6. Daniel Bryan vs. R-Truth

 

Bryangave Truth a fist bump. The fans chanted goat face, this led toBryangiving a fist bump to little Jimmy and kicking Truth in the corner. Truth tookBryandown with some shots and landed a clothesline for two.Bryanwas launched to the outside by Truth. Truth grabbed a mic and talked to Jimmy for the cheapMilwaukeepop. He did the yes chants,Bryangrabbed the mic and did the no chants. Truth won via count out, whileBryanscreamed “no!” with a fan at ringside. Honestly I was angered byBryan’s loss, it is just a loss via count out, but this man was “maineventing” pay-per-views a few weeks ago and now it really seems like this anger management gimmick has detracted from that – even thoughBryanis great in his role.

 

Triple H came out with tears in his eyes. After a long period of silence on his part and Triple H chants from the crowd, he said that he learned one thing from the WWE – never say never. When he started his career he wanted to create something that people would never forget and retire from “all of this” before it retired him. He said that everyone comes to a crossroads in their career and you have to ask yourself if it’s time when you get to that crossroads, because time will win. He never wanted to be the guy that hung on to long, the guy that was waiting for the “nostalgia pop” or stay in the ring because someone was going to write him a check. He didn’t want to be the guy who couldn’t even hold his own kids or live after wrestling, but for the first time in his career he found himself at the crossroad. Lesnar made him ask if he was done and the answer was that he didn’t know. He wanted to be the King of Kings he wants to be Triple H and say that he would kick Lesnar’s ass, because that’s what he does. That’s what he wanted to do, but he couldn’t because he didn’t know if he could. Lesnar forced him to ask if he was done. If he couldn’t come back and beat Lesnar, be better than before, than he had maybe answered his own questions. The fans chanted “you can do it” and Triple H said that what he could do was say thank you. He put over everyone who had ever stepped in the ring and their sacrifices, saying that it was all for the fans entertainment. He said that everyone when they walk through the curtain questions if anyone will care. This led to someone in the audience shouting “And then they will go to TNA!”, which was inappropriate, but in some ways very funny. He said that the fans and their reactions got him through all of what happened on the road. He thanked them from the bottom of his heart and he said with a sad voice “thank you for letting me play the game”. He finished by saying that he would never forget them and hopefully they would never forget him. The fans chanted “Thank you Hunter”, Triple H did his pose with one arm and walked off.

 

Obviously this wasn’t Triple H’s real retirement, but Triple H was absolutely phenomenal in this segment. In terms of suspending disbelief this was amazing. It felt like there was some essence of sincerity in the promo, especially towards the end. It was an angle, but as far as getting people to believe it was a very good one.

 

Jericho’s music hit and Ziggler came out. He asked if the fans were expecting someone else and said thatJerichowouldn’t be seen because of him. He said he cost him his WWE contract and they would never ever seeJerichoagain

 

7. Sheamus & Randy Orton vs. Dolf Ziggler & AlbertoDel Rio

 

Orton landed a ricochet vertical suplex and Sheamus landed a huge shoulder block ontoDel Rioon the outside off the steps. Orton landed a powerslam on Ziggler forcing him to the outside. After the breakDel Rioslammed Orton’s head into the steps and tagged Ziggler in who landed an elbow drop. Orton fought out of a headlock, but was cut off with a knee to the gut. The tag was made toDel Rioand he continued to work over Orton.Del Riolanded some headbutts, but missed a knee in the corner, which allowed Orton to get a cradle for two.Del Riowent for another, but he was sent to the outside. Orton crawled towards Sheamus, made the tag and Sheamus ran wild on Ziggler. Sheamus landed the over the knee backbreaker, butDel Riobroke it up with a big kick. The referee was distracted byDel Rio, which resulted in Ziggler going for a shot with the briefcase, but Orton landed the neckbreaker. Sheamus then landed the brogue kick for the win.

 

Lawler was talking to Cena backstage. He said that he always had his back, but he had to beat CM Punk on his own. He said that if Cena interfered, Punk would bring it up, he said that he wasn’t fighting Punk for Cena he was fighting him for himself. Cena wished him luck. Kane came out and this led to Josh Matthews running off. Kane then sat down at the commentary desk.

 

8. Zack Ryder vs. David Otunga

 

Otunga landed a clothesline and a shoulder block for two followed by a headlock. Otunga landed a suplex for the count of two, while Cole who was standing away from the table asked Kane about his therapy to no response. Ryder landed a chinbreaker and clothesline. He went to the top rope, but was thrown off by Otunga. Ryder then landed the Rough Ryder out of nowhere for the win. Kane ran into the ring and grabbed Ryder by the throat, but let him go and gave a chokeslam to Otunga instead.

 

Punk was shown throwing kicks backstage. The results were shown for the twitter pole the results were: Cage 48%, No DQ 32% and Tables 20%. AJ came out. AJ said that Punk would defend the title at Night of Champions against her choice (the crowd booed) – John Cena. The way that AJ said it was her choice was just so obnoxious.

 

9. Steel Cage Match

CM Punk vs. Jerry Lawler

 

Punk said that Lawler had his word and he stuck his chin out. Lawler didn’t want to take it, but then finally caught Punk with a right hand that knocked Punk to the mat. Punk kicked the legs of Lawler and landed some elbows in the corner. He followed them with a neckbreaker. Punk landed some shots to the chest of Lawler and locked in a facelock. Punk stomped Lawler to the ground shouting that he was the new King of Memphis Tennessee. Punk locked in a headlock, Lawler attempted to fight out, but he was forced to the mat. Punk began to climb the cage, but dropped down landed a clothesline in the corner followed by a snapmare and a running dropkick to the face. The fans chanted for Lawler, Punk taunted on the top rope and he was hung up. Lawler began to climb out, but he was dragged back in by Punk who dropped some elbows on Lawler. Punk began to sing, but before Punk could land a neckbreaker he was thrown into the cage. Punk bladed and Lawler began to land some shots. Punk was thrown into the cage again and was taken down by Lawler who landed some shots. Lawler pulled down the strap and landed the fist drop for two. Lawler went for the door he was pulled back in and he landed the high knee. Punk was bleeding a lot and he landed a yuranagi into the anaconda vice for the win. Punk would not let go, but finally relinquished the hold after about ten seconds.

 

After the match Punk grabbed a mic, lock and chain and sealed the cage door. He said that he wanted to hear Lawler say that he was the best in the world and Lawler replied by screaming “hell no!” Punk landed the Danielson like elbows to the shoulder and said that he was the best wrestler in the world. He screamed for Lawler to say it and landed some elbows to the head. This led to Cena coming out. He couldn’t unlock the cage and after years of people just running up the cage like it was nothing Cena needed the cage lifted. Punk landed knees to the head of Lawler and Cena just replied by saying that Punk was out of line. Finally the cage lifted and Punk said that he was the best wrestler in the world and left.

 

I really enjoyed this final segment and thought that Punk really did an amazing job as a heel. The blood added legitimacy to the match, however I don’t know what the reaction was to Punk blading backstage. I know that Punk needed stitches after the match though. It was all fine and well that Cena wanted the cage lifted, but after years of people climbing the cage it seemed odd that the cage needed to be lifted. The match itself was also perfectly fine as Lawler’s matches, even at this age often are. This segment really painted Punk as an ego-maniacal lunatic and if Punk’s reign continues in this manner for the next few months I will be perfectly fine with it.

 

WWE NXT –August 29 2012

FullSailUniversity–Florida.

Ben Carass

 

 

NXT kicked off this week with Mike Dalton and Jason Jordan heading down to the ring, while footage of the young team defeating Hunico and Camacho from last month aired. Hunico and Camacho then made their way out for a rematch.

 

Mike Dalton & Jason Jordan vs. Hunico & Camacho

 

Daltonquickly gained the advantage on Camacho and made the tag to Jordan, who came off the top rope with an axe-handle. Camacho caughtJordanwith a spinebuster, then proceeded to get some heat on his opponent and hit a belly-to-back suplex. Hunico tagged in, before landing a slingshot backsplash for a two count. Jordan fought from underneath but was cut off; Hunico then went for a roll up, however instead of a pinfall he continued to roll through, delivering a modified one-arm powerbomb for a two count.

        Camacho made the tag into the match and continued to get heat on the weakened babyface.Jordantook a front facelock suplex, however he managed to escape a second belly-to-back attempt and made the hot tag toDalton, as Camacho tagged in Hunico.

          Daltoncame in with fire, connecting with forearms, a spinning heel kick and a hurricanrana for a near fall. William Regal put over the fact thatDaltongained the victory last time the teams met with the same hold.Daltonthen scored with a missile dropkick off the top, but only got a two count as Camacho broke up the pin attempt.Jordanentered the ring to even the odds, however the referee admonished the babyface for not making a tag. This caused Camacho to hangDaltonacross the top rope, which allowed Hunico to deliver his version of the Olympic slam for the victory.

 

Hunico & Camacho defeated Mike Dalton & Jason Jordan; at: 4:02, via pinfall.

 

A simple little match designed to keep this programme running. However as NXT is only an hour show, we may have to wait another month to see where they go with it. The heels cheated to win, while the babyface team displayed hunger and fire; basic pro wrestling storytelling, which is always a good thing.

 

A graphic of Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal for the NXT Championship aired. Byron Saxton called the match: “historical”, instead of “historic”.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Back from commercial and The Uso’s music hit; the team entered the ring, then Jimmy began to cut a promo. He said last time they were in NXT, The Ascension wanted a fight and they had unfinished business; Jimmy then called out The Ascension.

         The lighting and music gave the impression that The Ascension were about to make their entrance, however Cameron and O’Brian appeared in the ring. The pair then attacked The Uso’s; Jay was sent over the top rope and Jimmy had his shoulder rammed into the ring post. The Ascension were not finished with the Samoans’; O’Brian and Cameron hit Jay with total elimination on the floor, before delivering The Eliminators’ old finish to Jimmy as well. The arena went dark and the lights turned blue as both members of The Ascension growled menacingly.

 

The Ascension using Total Elimination is a stroke of genius. Granted they won’t be allowed to kill people like Saturn and Kronus, but it adds another dimension to their act.

 

Another graphic hyping the Mahal/Rollins main event aired.

 

A video of Big E. Langston aired; it said he was wrestling next.

 

Commercial Break.

 

The Raw Rebound played after the break.

 

Inside the arena; Big E. Langston came out for his match with Chase Donovan, who was already in the ring. Regal put over Big E. by claiming: “there is not a man stronger in the world”.

 

Big E. Langston vs. Chase Donovan

 

Langston showed his power early and ran right through Donovan. Big E. then hit an inverted front powerslam to gain the victory.

 

Big E. Langston defeated Chase Donovan via pinfall.

 

Squash. 

 

The Rollins vs. Mahal graphic appeared again; Saxton said the match would take place next.

 

Commercial Break.

 

After the break, the NXT Diva’s and wrestler’s appeared on the stage in preparation for the main event.

 

Backstage Big E. Langston was approached for an interview, however the big man didn’t say a word, he simply snorted and looked intense.

 

Back in the arena and Howard Finkel introduced the interim GM Dusty Rhodes. The Dream saluted the wrestlers on the stage, then carried the NXT Championship belt down to the ring. Jim Ross joined the announce team for the title bout, he put over Dust and The Fink.

         Jinder Mahal’s music began; Saxton again said the match was “historical” and Regal backed Jinder to go over, then mentioned Mahal had dedicated his victory to the late Dara Singh. Seth Rollins was next to appear; he did his slam dance gimmick on the ramp before heading to the ring. Howard Finkel introduced both wrestlers and the referee held up the NXT title belt. DustyRhodesshook the hand of Rollins, then offered his hand to Mahal; the heel refused to shake The Dream’s hand, which drew some heat from the crowd.

 

 

Gold Rush Tournament Final, for the NXT Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal

 

The two locked up and Rollins grabbed a waist lock on Mahal; Jinder eventually made it to his feet, reaching the ropes. The referee called for a clean break, but Mahal landed with a forearm to gain control. Rollins wasn’t under pressure for too long, as he scored with a dropkick to regain the advantage. After missing the blackout, Rollins avoided Mahal’s attack, which sent Jinder over the top rope. J.R said the match was: “one fall or television time remaining.”

 

I’ve not heard that in a long time.    

 

Rollins attempted to land a kick, however Mahal blocked the strike and swept the leg; causing Rollins to take a face bump on the apron. Jinder followed up by delivering an overhead slam, from the apron to the ramp on his opponent. Mahal then placed Rollins back in the ring for a two count.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Back in the ring; Jinder Mahal had a double-knee rear chinlock applied; Rollins fought to his feet but took a back heel trip and a knee drop; Rollins began to fight from underneath, however Mahal blocked an attempted suplex and began to work over his opponents back. J.R put over Rollins’ injury as Mahal landed a body slam, followed by a suplex. Jinder locked in an abdominal stretch; Rollins fought to his feet once again, but Mahal cut off his offense with a jumping knee strike.

        After escaping the camel clutch, Rollins scored with a desperation enzuigiri and began to make a comeback with strikes and kicks. Mahal avoided a forearm smash in the corner then tried for a knee strike, which Rollins dodged, sending Jinder over the top to the floor. Rollins went to the top rope and came off with a crossbody to the outside, taking out Mahal; the highspot received a huge pop and brought the audience to its feet. With Jinder back in the ring, Rollins went to the top again; this time Mahal cut him off and delivered a superplex.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Both men were selling as we rejoined the match; Rollins got the advantage after an exchange of strikes, only to be cut off by a modified powerslam. Mahal dumped his foe onto the apron, but ate another enzuigiri; Rollins followed up with a springboard knee strike for a very nice near fall. J.R used correct English and even applied the relevant article, describing the match as: “an historic main event”.

         Rollins caught Mahal with a downward spiral into the second turnbuckle, before connecting with a superkick for another near fall. Jinder avoided aPhoenixsplash and hit a full nelson slam to get a two count. The fans got behind the babyface as Mahal went for the camel clutch; Rollins countered with a roll up, which produced an excellent false finish. Jinder missed a clothesline, causing Rollins to land the bucklebomb and the blackout for the three count.

 

Seth Rollins defeated Jinder Mahal to become the first NXT Champion, via pinfall.

 

They did a great job of making the belt and the match feel important. JR, Fink, Dusty sat at ringside, the whole locker room on the stage; not to mention the tournament and the build last week. The Raw and SmackDown creative teams could certainly learn a thing or two about building a title match after this.

     The match itself was also very good. They had some time and told a nice story, which got the crowd into it; I would have liked a little more of Jinder working on the back, however that is a small issue. I’ve seen Rollins have plenty of matches better than this one, but I think it is safe to say Jinder Mahal has never had a better performance than he produced here; Rollins made Mahal look like he actually belonged in a wrestling ring.

 

After the bell, Rollins celebrated with the belt; Dusty Rhodes entered the ring and received a hug from the ecstatic new champion. The ring filled up with babyface wrestlers’, who lifted Rollins onto their shoulder’s and paraded him around the squared circle. Byron Saxton said: “the era of Seth Rollins has begun”, as the first NXT Champion jumped into the crowd to celebrate.

 

This show was nothing special until the main event; I may have enjoyed it more because I read the spoilers and knew who was going over. But if you like pro wrestling booked around titles and championship matches then I would defiantly check out this show; also Seth Rollins fans will want to see the former Age of the Fall member win his first championship in the WWE.

 

TNA Impact August 30th 2012

Orlando, Florida

 

Overall Thoughts

 

Thursday’s Impact was far better than last week’s. Yes, there were a few niggling problems on the show, but we got some great wrestling, production and a good final segment. The final segment was pulled off a lot better than last week and felt a little less forced. However, constantly calling the Aces & Eights out is getting a little old. The Styles/Joe and Angle/Hardy matches were both great and were by far the best TV matches of the week, if not the month. This was a good hour and a bit spent and if you want to be entertained and not have to work for every ounce of entertainment then give it a shot. Just remember, it still has some flaws – whether you want to wait and see if they get straitened out or not is up to you.

Aries opened the show, with a black taped up arm. He said people are asking him if he had to forfeit or relinquish the title. He said that the Aces & Eights made two miscalculations. One was that he wasn’t cleared to wrestle that night, but he could fight and two was that he is left handed so he can punch people with his left hand. He said the guy with an X on his forehead was standing in the ring, so he challenged the leader to fight him. He said that he would sit in the ring until his challenge was answered. Hogan’s music hit and he came out together with Sting.

 

He asked Aries to calm down and said they came in peace. He wanted everyone to know that he was back as the GM and he thanked Sting “mon” for running the show. He said that things would go the way he wanted them, because Sting was watching his back. If people messed with his family, friends, business or company if they wanted a blood bath they could have one. Hogan said that whatever Aries wanted he could have. Aries said that the number one thing on his list was to get his hands on the leader of the Aces & Eights, he wanted him one on one. The Aces & Eights appeared on screen.

 

The leader thanked Hogan and Sting for the opportunity to speak his mind. They said they were having too much fun to accept the challenge. They do things on their terms and they always keep their word. He asked the “boys” if they wanted some fun and they agreed. They said they would be on later that night.

 

ODB was waiting for a phone call from Young. It was a wacky skit. She gave him till next week and said that she loved him. A video package was shown for the James Storm and Rob Van Dam match that night.

 

1. James Storm vs. Rob Van Dam

 

The fans dual chanted. Storm took Van Dam to the mat with a headlock. There was an athletic exchange, Storm cut Van Dam off with a forearm and stomped him in the corner. Storm missed a running move into the corner allowing for Van Dam to land some strikes. Van Dam caught Storm with a kick knocking him to the outside. Van Dam followed this with a plancha. After the break Storm landed a clothesline for the count of two. Van Dam landed a spin kick to the face of Storm and landed another in the corner followed by a spring kick. Van Dam landed rolling thunder for two and Storm responded with a huge spike DDT for two. Storm landed Eye of the Storm for another nearfall. Van Dam landed a big monkey flip, but failed to get to the cover in time. He went for another, but he was caught with a superkick out of nowhere for the win in a fun TV match.

 

After the match Storm was congratulated by Hemming. He said that he would do exactly what he said he was going to do, win the series and then win back the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

 

2. Madison Rayne vs. ODB

 

Rayne said early in the week Brooke Hogan phoned her telling Rayne that she would have a match on Impact. Rayne said that she was being granted a rematch for her Knockout’s title. She asked for Tessmacher to be brought out. ODB came out instead. She said that she also got a phone call from Hogan and she was set to face Rayne. Rayne said no, but ODB “said you can kiss the honey moon good bye”. Rayne asked for a time out, but then asked Taryn Terrell to ring the bell so she could beat the “piece of trailer park trash”. While Taryn Terrell rang the bell ODB spat whisky into the eyes of Rayne.

 

ODB landed some clotheslines and a splash in the corner. She then landed a fireman’s carry slam for the win (babyface wins in 2012 ladies and gentlemen). This led to Eric Young coming out in a suit with fried chicken under his arm and beer in his hand.

 

ODB inspected his suit. She asked where he had been, he said that he had been inHollywood, but he got chicken and beer. He wanted to go, but she wanted to know where her husband was. She said he wasn’t who she married. He asked the fans if it looked right, they said no. So Young proceeded to rip off his clothes right down to hisUSunderwear. ODB then dove into his arms while munching on some fried chicken. I have no patience for this kind of thing, there was just no point.

 

There was a recap of the culmination of the Lynch angle from last week. AJ said that he was glad that it was over and he had to go through Joe to be in the final four.

 

The Gut Check segment started. They were upset that he never came in prepared and they were disappointed in him. Then why have the guy come out like that in the first place, if you knew full well that he was green and not in the best shape to work? They said they looked at some old tapes, but surely you would want to see the man before putting him on TV. Taz said he made mistakes, but he had a great back story.Prichardsaid there have been guys that the people can relate to. Snow and Taz said that they would keep an open mind for a week, but they had made up their minds.

 

Hogan and Sting were backstage. They smelt blood. They brought in Daniels and Kazarian. Kazarian called Sting Heath. They reminded everyone that they couldn’t be fired due to their contracts. They said they were all friends, but Hogan said that they hated them and they were what was wrong with the business. He said they were his “stinkin champions”, they didn’t have challengers, but they would defend the titles and he wanted to “get their brains beat out”. It was fine. There was a video package for Styles vs. Joe.

 

3.SamoaJoe vs. AJ Styles

 

Styles attempted your standard athletic exchange, but Joe turned around and attempted to stomp on Styles. However, Styles rolled out of the ring. Styles was knocked down with a shoulderblock. He went for a suplex, but Joe blocked it and cut him off with a big forearm. Styles landed a kick to the leg of Joe knocking him to the ground. Joe made it to his feet, but he was caught with a dropkick. Styles attempted a plancha, but he was caught with a huge kick to the chest in midair, which was an incredible spot. Joe landed a kick and knee drop, Styles landed some shots, but was caught with a snap powerslam. Tenay plugged K-1 a decade to late for Spike. Styles went for a head scissors from the ground, but Joe locked in an STF. He transitioned into an abdominal stretch, but Styles made it to the ropes. Joe landed an atomic drop and kick to the chest, he went for the back senton, but Styles moved. Styles landed a couple of big shots and a springboard forearm. Styles called for Joe to get up, he brought Joe up in a fireman’s carry, Joe dropped off obviosully, but Styles caught him with a pelé to the arm – which played off of the chair shot from Magnus last week in a very clever spot. Styles locked in an armbar, Joe made it to the ropes, but Styles landed a big forearm in the corner. Styles went for another, but he was caught with a big yuranagi. Styles got a rollup for two, he went for another, but Joe got the rear naked choke. Styles however transitioned into the armbar again, but Joe managed to get a rollup for the win. This was great TV match.

 

Kurt Angle said that his match that night determined whether he or Hardy made it in. He put Hardy over, but he said that he had been in situations like that before both in the Olympics and TNA. He said that he would win the BFG series and become TNA World Heavyweight champion. Angle has been great in all of his promos hyping his matches in the BFG series.

 

Chris Lewie was brought out for Gut Check. He said that he did his best and is getting better every day. Taz said that he respects everyone that attempts to be a wrestler; he put over his life and commended him. He said that TNA was above his head right now and gave him a no.Prichardhas this new gimmick where he screams Gut Check like Heyman, thumbs up.Prichardappreciated his story, but he said that the wrestling business wasn’t for him. He shook everyone’s hand and he walked out. Afterward Joey Ryan appeared in the crowd with a microphone. He called Snow a corporate stooge and threw water in his face. Snow then bolted after him.

 

Park met Hogan, he was overjoyed. He said that he could provide Hogan with help and he wanted Hogan to let him help then. Hogan said yes and Park said “Kayfab” and walked out. There were some Bellator fighters in the arena. A video package was shown for the mainevent Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Hardy.

 

4. Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Hardy

 

Angle took Hardy down to the mat as the fans dual chanted. Angle knocked Hardy down and Hardy slapped on a hold on the arm. Hardy caught Angle with a flying head scissors and a splash off of the apron that missed to a certain extent. Hardy stomped Angle in the corner and caught Angle with a splash. After the match Hardy made a comeback landing some clotheslines and an atomic drop. He landed the legdrop to the groin and a dropkick for two. He went for the twist of fate, but Angle landed the rolling German suplexes. Angle went for the Angle slam, but Hardy countered and landed the twist of fate for the count of two. Hardy landed the whisper in the win for a very close two count. Angle landed a belly to belly suplex and Angle slam for two. Angle locked in the ankle lock, but Hardy got a cradle for two. Hardy landed the twist of fate followed by the swanton for two! Angle got the ankle lock, but Hardy kicked his way out of it. He went up top again, but he was caught by Angle. He pushed Angle off and landed a second swanton for the win in an amazing TV match.

 

The final five were announced Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Samoa Joe, Bully Ray and James Storm. They were all brought into the ring. It was announced that one man would be eliminated next week. Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe were announced together with Bully Ray and Rob Van Dam. Fireworks went off.

 

Aries came out. He said that if the Aces & Eights were finished drinking their beer they could come down to the ring and get their asses kicked. Hogan’s music hit. Hogan, Sting, Storm, Van Dam, Ray, Styles, Joe and Hardy came out. Hogan said they were all in it together and he said they could have a blood bath. He wanted to see all of their faces. They came out. Hogan said they would settle the score as men, but Aries was their finest and they were to send their finest in the ring too. A man that looked like the leader entered the ring. Aries landed some shoulders in the corner, but Aries was taken down with some shots. Aries shot a double leg takedown, the Aces & Eights stormed the ring and a brawl broke out. Aries landed a big dropkick on the leader and attempted to take the mask off. The one guys mask came off but he put it back on and nailed Aries with a foreign object and left the ring. They all stood over Aries to close the show off.

 

WWE SmackDown – August 31 2012.

Resch Centre, Green Bay, Wisconsin.

                                                                    Ben Carass.

 

 

 

After a liberating two weeks, free of repellent corporate-rock; the same old, mundane Green Day song was back and attempted to galvanise us for some pro wrestling.

 

Josh Matthews welcomed everyone to the show and a graphic hyping Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler aired.

 

Another graphic: Triple H looking sad, rolled. Michael Cole asked: “is it game over?”

 

Lilian Garcia introduced Sheamus, who made his way down to the ring and Cole put over Alberto Del Rio as the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship.

        Sheamus started his promo by putting over his gym-buddy Triple H; The Great White described Hunter as: “one of the toughest men I ever had the honour of fighting”. Sheamus mentioned he lost his first WrestleMania match to The Game and said Triple H had the respect of all the people. The World Champion called Hunter the “embodiment of a champion”, then said it was “ironic” that Alberto Del Rio represented everything a champion is not.

 

There is absolutely nothing ironic about this.

 

Damien Sandow’s music interrupted the champion; “You are as ignorant, as you are enormous”, he told Sheamus. Sandow took exception to the Triple H love-fest, because The Game led a “band of degenerates in an assault” against him at Raw 1000. The Intellectual Saviour of the masses claimed Sheamus “drags the WWE Universe further into the doldrums of their own ignorance, inadequacies and ineptitude”. Sandow informed The Great White that he was a “disgrace”, “dishonour” and a negative stereotype. Sheamus cut off the pompous heel and said nobody wanted to hear him talk for twenty minutes. The Heavyweight Champion of the world then challenged Damien to get in the ring and say it to his face; Sandow told Sheamus he would be happy to “thrash” him in a “debate of philosophies”, but was “saved from an intellectual thrashing”, because Sheamus wasn’t worth the time. Sandow then headed up the ramp, after getting in his “you’re welcome” line.

       Booker T’s music began and the GM appeared at the top of the ramp; Book said he agreed with Damien and nobody wanted to see an intellectual thrashing, but they did want to see a psychical thrashing. Booker gave the horrendous line: “we may not be inIreland, but we inGreen Bay,Wisconsin”; Cole scoffed with contempt. The GM then booked Sheamus vs. Sandow for later in the show.

    

Another bizarre SmackDown opening segment; if the first thing the World Champion talks about in a promo is Triple H’s kayfabe retirement, then I shudder to think what will happen when he really hangs up the boots. Although, he will be running the place one day so I guess he could have matches into his sixties like Vince; now that is scary. Throwing Sandow out there with Sheamus felt unnecessary, the guy is great on the mic but needs a match with Sheamus like The Miz needs another coat of spray tan. Booker was right on cue to show up and book a match for the third week in a row.

 

Rey Mysterio was shown backstage, apparently walking to the ring. Josh said he was in action next.

 

Commercial Break.

 

After the break a shot of the Vince Lombardi statue outside Lambeau Field aired; inside the arena Rey Mysterio’s music hit and he came out for his match. Cole mentioned Rey sustained a concussion at SummerSlam; he of course put over The Miz as the cause of the injury.

      Cody Rhodes showed up to face Mysterio; Josh said Cody would explain why wrestlers’ like Sin Cara and Rey wear masks. An inset promo from Cody aired; he speculated that fear, panic and ugliness were behind the hoods.

 

Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio

 

Cole mentioned the angle from a couple of years ago, in which Rey causedRhodesto wear a mask after breaking his nose. The two traded holds and counters early, until Mysterio landed a dropkick that set Cody up for the 619.Rhodesavoided the move and rolled to the floor, followed by Rey; Cody sent his foe into the announce table before the break.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Back in the ring, Mysterio began to fight back, but was cut off by what appeared to be a Kanemaru style, touch out brainbuster.Rhodesproceeded to get some heat on Rey, while Cole rambled about the heritage of the mask to luchadors like he was an expert on the subject.Rhodeshit a standing gourdbuster for a two count and continued to get the heat. Cody went after the mask of Mysterio, but Rey sent him into the second turnbuckle and landed a dropkick; followed by a seated senton off the top and a tilt-o-whirl head scissors.Rhodescut off the comeback, hitting a jawbreaker then scored with a running knee strike for a two count. Mysterio escaped an attempted belly-to-back suplex and set his opponent up for the 619. Cody blocked the move by catching Rey’s legs and went after the mask once again; Mysterio managed to roll through and get the pinfall.

 

Rey Mysterio defeated Cody Rhodes; at 5:28, via pinfall.

 

A decent little match; I can’t believe they let Cody use the Touch Out, unless he intended to take Rey over into a flat-back bump. However I don’t see Cody as being reckless enough to botch like that. I’m all for Rey getting involved with Rhodes’ feud with Sin Cara; even though we’ve seen Mysterio vs.Rhodesnumerous times, Sin Cara can use all the help he can get. Any interaction between the two hoodies now will only help the inevitable future Mysterio vs. Sin Cara match.

 

Rhodesjumped the victorious babyface after the bell and focused on the mask, however Sin Cara made the run in and delivered strikes to Cody; leading Rey to finally connect with the 619. Sin Cara pulled out one of his spare masks and placed the hood overRhodes’ head; the two masked men then shook hands and hugged.

 

Cole said Cody needs to get his anger and emotions under control; Josh then brought up Daniel Bryan’s anger management therapy from Raw. Footage of the comicalBryantherapy class rolled; he yelled at a child for wearing a goat mask.

 

Eve came out and joined the announcers, then Kaitlyn was shown winning that horrendous battle royal two weeks ago on Raw.

 

A graphic hyping Kaitlyn vs. Natalya aired.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Both divas were in the ring after the break.

 

 Kaitlyn vs. Natalya

 

The Diva’s traded side headlock takedowns; Kaitlyn hit a shoulder tackle, which caused Natalya to roll out to the floor. The number one contender for the Diva’s title went after her opponent, but took a nasty bump on the outside. Natalya threw Kaitlyn in the ring and applied an abdominal stretch.

        Eve told a blatant lie, saying: “there has been a resurgence in the Diva’s division”. Kaitlyn escaped the hold and caught Natalya with an odd looking armdrag, followed by a dropkick. Josh buried Cole for no selling the match and gossiping with Eve. Natalya hit a clothesline for a two count, but Kaitlyn managed to hook an inside cradle for the three.

 

Kaitlyn defeated Natalya, via pinfall; at: 2:46.

 

A graphic informing us that Kaitlyn will challenge Layla at Night of Champions aired.

 

Nattie losing in under three minutes is becoming just pathetic, however I think the bigger issue here is the fact they have booked Layla vs. Kaitlyn on a PPV. People will pay $45 to see this match, not to mention the poor suckers who paid $400 for ringside seats. I am looking forward to what could quite possibly be the worst WWE PPV match in recent memory.

 

Matt Striker was in the back with Booker T. Striker said the SmackDown GM position is under scrutiny because of what happened on Raw.

 

I have no idea why.

 

Footage of AJ fighting with Vickie Guerrero rolled; Cole came up with the stupidest line of the show so far: “this is unprecedented; when was the last time you saw a General Manager attack one of their employees?”

 

This guy put over Laurinaitis for months and he can’t remember Big Johnny attacking Cena?

 

Booker said the pressure has got to AJ and that she never should have booked Jericho’s career vs. Ziggler’s Money in the Bank contract. The Booker man also said AJ’s actions on Raw were uncalled for, before saying AJ was “off her rocker”. At which point Vickie Guerrero entered, she accused all AJ’s friends of turning their backs on her and that even the SmackDown GM agreed with her. Vickie called AJ crazy, mentally deranged and said her reign of terror will end; Guerrero then claimed to have spoken with the board of directors who assured her they would take action against AJ. Vickie said if they don’t, then she would.

 

Footage of CM Punk heeling on Jerry Lawler from Raw aired.

 

Commercial Break.

 

A graphic hyping John Cena vs. CM Punk for the WWE title at Night of Champions rolled followed by the Raw Rebound.

 

Back at ringside; Josh talked about Daniel Bryan’s anger management therapy again.

 

More footage ofBryan’s anger class played; this time Kane showed up.

 

Another graphic, hyping Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow aired.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Wow, that was some wasted air time.

 

Sheamus’ music played after the break; he made his entrance and was followed by Damien Sandow.

 

Non Title Match: Sheamus (World Heavyweight Champion) vs. Damien Sandow) 

 

Sandow wanted no part of the Champion’s strength early, as he positioned himself in the ropes then yelled at Charles Robinson to do his job and get his opponent back. The arrogant heel slid out of the ring, only to be thrown back in, however Sandow manoeuvred the referee into a spot that allowed him to deliver a kick to Sheamus. The Great White hit a tackle, which caused Sandow to roll out to the floor; this time Damien managed to send the Champion into the steel steps before getting back in the ring. Sheamus beat the count at eight and Sandow got a little heat then hit a side Russian leg-sweep. The Irishman fought out, but was cut off with a neckbreaker and Sandow grabbed a rear chinlock.

              Sheamus created some space with a backdrop then proceeded to deliver axe-handle shots, which culminated in a big shoulder block and a running knee. Sandow had enough of his opponent no selling his offense and rolled to the floor again. Sheamus got his foe back in the ring and positioned him for the clubbing forearms spot, after which Sandow escaped the Irish Curse and hit the floor again. The Great White rolled the heel back in then went for White Noise, which Sandow evaded and went straight back to the outside. This occurred at least two more times before Sandow ran up the ramp to the back, causing a countout.

 

Sheamus defeated Damien Sandow at 6:48, via countout.

 

Sandow got the crowd hot with his constant attempts to avoid the Champion. I have no problem with a cowardly heel; in fact we could do with more of them. It seemed like Sheamus had been to the Road Warrior Hawk school of selling before this match, as he made the heel’s offense look totally insignificant. I have no idea what the point of this was, Sandow may have gained a little more heat but gained no credibility thanks to Road Warrior Sheamus.

 

A graphic of Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler rolled, followed by a graphic of Triple H looking glum.

 

Commercial Break.

 

In the ring the Prime Time Players were doing their gimmick in preparation to face Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel.

 

Footage of the backstage tag team schmoz from last week aired.

 

Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel vs. The Prime Time Players

 

Kidd and Titus started out the contest and immediately an inset promo from The Uso’s aired. They talked about wanting the tag belts, while in the ring Kidd and Gabriel hit a tandem springboard dropkick.

 

What a stupid time to air a promo; this was like 1995 when we’d get inset promos during almost every match.

 

Gabriel and Kidd delivered a last chancery and a kick to the face combination, which received a two count. Titus tagged in and did his seal bark before getting a little heat on Kidd. Darren Young got the tag and the heels double-teamed Kidd to get the heat. Kidd avoided an attack in the corner then made the tag to Gabriel, who came in with strikes and an STO to Young. Gabriel went up top for the 450, but was distracted by Titus; Kidd took out O’Neil with a slingshot plancha to the floor. Young cut off Gabriel on the top rope and landed a double-knee gutbuster for the win.

 

The Prime Time Players defeated Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel, via pinfall; at: 3:11.

 

I can only assume it will be Kofi & Truth vs. PTP at Night of Champions. Surely they should be at the back of the queue since the champs have beaten them twice. I still like the idea of Tag Team turmoil, however the chances of that are the same as Michael Cole taking his job seriously.

        For a three minutes match, this was fine. The promo from The Uso’s on the other hand, was just idiotic.

 

  Footage of Daniel Bryan and Kane in therapy aired. This time Kane reflected on all his evil deeds through the years, which I found hilarious.

 

A graphic hyping an exclusive interview with Alberto Del Rio aired. Josh said he would talk to the number one contender after the break.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Josh was in the ring and he introducedDel Rio; Ricardo Rodriguez came out with the official introduction for Alberto.

 

A graphic hyping Sheamus vs.Del Rioat Night of Champions aired.

 

Matthews askedDel Rioabout his victory over Randy Orton last week; the Mexican Aristocrat cut off Josh and said he didn’t just beat Orton, he made him tap out.

 

Footage of the Orton/Del Rio finish from last week aired.

 

Ricardo applauded vigorously; Alberto then said he would do the same to Sheamus at the PPV. Josh inquired about Sheamus constantly going over Del Rio in title matches; Alberto reminded Matthews about Kane “throwing him away like a piece of trash” at SummerSlam.Del Riosaid that was nothing compared to what he wanted to do right now; Josh acted scared.

           Kane’s pyro saved the announcer, as everyone emptied the ring upon The Big Red Machine’s arrival. The monster said, “hello, my name is Kane” and claimed his therapist advised him that apologising to Josh would help; he then thanked Matthews for “playing a part” in his “recovery programme”. Kane headed to the back, but for no reason Teddy Long came out and bookedDel Riovs. Kane.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Kane vs. Alberto Del Rio

 

The match was joined in progress after the commercials; Josh said he didn’t trust Kane and he didn’t feel safe at ringside.Del Riowas dumped on the apron, but hung his opponent’s arm across the second rope; Kane attempted a chokeslam, howeverDel Riocountered with a kick to the arm. The Big Red Monster avoided the cross armbreaker, delivered a big boot, a sidewalk slam and came off the top rope with a clothesline. Ricardo distracted Kane from the outside, which allowedDel Rioto score with a double-knee backbreaker for the three count.

 

Alberto Del Rio defeated Kane, via pinfall; at 2:47 (JIP)  

 

I am unaware of how much time was cut from the match, but assume it wasn’t a lot. A clean finish would have worked wonders for Del Rio here, but as Kane put Daniel Bryan over clean at SummerSlam I assume they didn’t want to hurt the monster. Either way, Del Rio has two big wins in two weeks. Let’s hope this continues to the PPV and Orton doesn’t get his win back before then.

 

After the match Cole said it was an, “upset victory”.

 

Good job of getting the scheming heel over as a threat Cole. The guy tapped Orton clean in the middle of the ring, he is the number one contender and this was an “upset”?!  Cole hurts my brain.

 

Kane was enraged about doing the job, so he headed after Josh and tossed the poor announcer to the floor. Kane yelled, “I’m sorry Josh” before delivering a chokeslam to the helpless Matthews. Cole said: “announcers should not be the target of these types of attacks.”

 

At least the ones that can’t take bumps.

 

A graphic of Triple H looking unhappy aired.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Cole was alone at the desk after the break; he put on his serious voice and pleaded with the general managers’ to stop the attacks on announcers’.

 

Footage of Triple H’s phoney retirement speech aired.

 

Vickie Guerrero came out with her trademark gimmick and introduced Dolph Ziggler. As the Money in the Bank winner made his way down the ramp; the on-screen graphic of his name said “Raw”, which was baffling.

 

Commercial Break.

 

Randy Orton’s music hit and out he came to face Ziggler.

 

Footage of Dolph taking an RKO last week aired.

 

Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler w/ Vickie Guerrero

 

The two locked up; Orton grabbed a side headlock, but Dolph hit a dropkick and proceeded to strut around the ring. The wrestlers’ circled each other then tied up again; Ziggler grabbed the headlock this time, which Orton broke by pulling Dolph’s hair. Ziggler leapfrogged his foe, only to take a dropkick from The Viper; Orton then delivered stomps and curiously raked his boot laces across Dolph’s face. After taking a slingshot suplex, Ziggler cut Orton off with a neckbreaker and began to get the heat. Orton scored with his reverse headlock backbreaker as a hope spot, but was cut off by a huge jumping clothesline from Dolph. Ziggler missed a splash in the corner and Orton began his comeback with clotheslines, followed up with a powerslam. The Show Off escaped the hangman’s DDT, however The Apex Predator nailed a superplex for a near fall. Ziggler cut off Orton with a jumping DDT and attempted to hit the Zig-Zag; Randy blocked Dolph’s finish and scored with the hangman’s DDT for a two count. Ziggler escaped to the floor, but was quickly pursued by Orton, who tossed the Money in the Bank winner onto the announce desk then rolled him back in the ring. Dolph missed the rocker-dropper and Orton scored with an RKO for the victory.

 

Randy Orton defeated Dolph Ziggler via pinfall, at: 7:11.

 

After the match, Vickie interrupted Lilian Garcia’s announcement and said Ziggler was still the Money in the Bank winner. She then yelled: “great job Dolph” and handed the briefcase to her client, as Orton posed on the top rope.

 

The match was not great for main event standards. Orton wrestled the first part of the bout as a subtle heel: pulling the hair and racking the boot across the face. Could this be a slow heel turn for The Viper, or did he just forget he is a babyface?

           This show did absolutely nothing to build to the PPV, apart from announcing the trainwreck that will be Layla vs. Kaitlyn. The World Champion had no interaction with his challenger and felt putting over Triple H was more important than his opponent at Night of Champions. While Del Rio seemed more concerned with beating up Josh Matthews than talking about Sheamus. Cole didn’t even contextualise Alberto’s win over Kane as being a threat to the title. This was a typical WWE show, three weeks before a PPV; kill time and start the build with two weeks to go. My advice is to skip this show and watch NXT instead.

 

Next Week’s Issue

 

Next week we are back with more coverage of the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, RAW with hopefully further build to Night of Champions, Impact, NXT and Ben Carass covers SmackDown!

 

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Ben Carass’s Twitter Account: @BenDosCarass

 

 

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