Monday, June 28, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 06/28/10 from Philadelphia, PA.

The Big News: The NXT group, Nexus, was without its leader but went after a group of wrestling greats.

Show Analysis:

The show started for the second straight week with Sheamus teasing a face turn and then laughing about it. This time he said he was disgusted by the attack on Vince McMahon and had a statement, but then he just said the champ is here and smiled. He said he would have defeated John Cena last week even without Nexus’ interference. He added that Cena is no longer the number one contender because he used his rematch clause and he’s done with Cena.

John Cena came to the ring and asked Sheamus for help. He said that Nexus will be after Sheamus next and suggested they band together to call out Nexus. Michael Cole then got an e-mail from the mystery GM. They have this goofy podium with a computer on it. It feels so contrived and hopefully they dump this gimmick quickly. The GM promised a ruling on Nexus next week and said that this week if the Nexus guys make contact with the WWE wrestlers they will be terminated and if the WWE wrestlers initiate contact with them the WWE wrestlers will be suspended.

John Cena responded by telling some stupid jokes and suggested a title rematch between himself and Sheamus. The GM quickly sent another e-mail. The GM made Sheamus vs. Mark Henry. Cena obnoxiously had a sarcastic fit about the internet. Cena’s reactions to all this made the whole thing a giant joke. Cena then told more idiotic jokes. The GM had a cage lowered and announced Money in the Bank will have Cena vs. Sheamus for the title in a cage.

The Hart Dynasty was going to have a match but the Usos attacked them before the match could get started. Tamina hit a top rope splash on Natalya. Backstage, R. Truth said that firing Nexus would be too easy. He suggested they be kept around so they can be taken care of. He called himself the zoo keeper. Does that mean he cleans up after the elephants?

Vladimir Kozlov beat Santino Marella. The stipulation was that if Santino won, Kozlov would become his partner. They did some comedy spots. Kozlov hit head butts and a belly to belly for two. He then hit a choke slam for the pin. William Regal came out and congratulated Kozlov. He then attacked Santino but Kozlov made the save. Kozlov helped Santino up and carried him to the back. This angle is weird but amusing.

Great Khali was interviewed backstage. He said something. Ranjin Singh translated that Khali said he is a big stupid giant, his manager is tired of protecting him, and if the Nexus group came after him he would run. I have my doubts about the veracity of that translation. Apparently Khali and Ranjin are doing a bizarro Anderson Silva and Ed Soares gimmick.

Rob Zombie was guest host and they did nothing with him. He announced the Raw Money in the Bank participants as Randy Orton, Miz, R. Truth, Chris Jericho, Evan Bourne, Ted DiBiase, John Morrison and Edge. He expressed dislike for Edge so Edge immediately appeared on the screen. They bickered about whether Edge dumped Rob Zombie’s entrance song or Rob Zombie dumped him.

Zombie left and that was it. Edge had a video ready about his MITB success for his impromptu reaction to Zombie not liking him. Edge said he will show how twisted he can be. The GM then announced the 8 MITB guys in an 8 man tag main event. They kept referring to this as a “mega match” over and over and over again.

Sheamus beat Mark Henry. Sheamus worked over Henry with kicks. Henry retaliated with a clothesline, head butt and splash. Henry covered but Sheamus got his foot on the bottom rope. They went to the outside and Henry pressed Sheamus back into the ring but was caught with the bicycle kick for the pin.

Nexus was backstage minus Wade Barrett, who apparently has visa problems. Nexus is now starting to resemble NWA if Eazy, Cube and Dre all left. They’ve pushed the angle so strong they of course should keep it going, but these six guys in a main event angle are among the ten worst on the entire Raw roster. Skip Sheffield attacked a production assistant.

Next up was a very well executed angle. It started with Jerry Lawler plugging the Ricky Steamboat DVD. Steamboat came to the ring and was joined by Arn Anderson, Mike Rotunda, Michael Hayes and Dean Malenko. I guess they just wanted to use the guys they had but that’s a strange group to honor Steamboat’s career. They basically acknowledged that none of them really had anything to do with him except Arn. They put over Steamboat and told jokes. Anderson said he has never seen or been in the ring with anyone better than Steamboat. That was a very cool little tribute for Steamboat.

The NXT guys then came out. They circled the ring and had a really well laid out fight. Basically, the legends tried to keep Nexus from getting in the ring so Nexus picked them off one-by-one until there weren’t enough left to defend. The legends fought off Nexus for a while. They then got Arn, pulled him out of the ring, and beat him up. They caught Malenko next and took him out. They then went after Rotunda and assaulted him outside the ring. That left only Lawler, Hayes and Steamboat. Nexus finally came into the ring and took out Steamboat’s final backup. That led to them destroying Steamboat six on one. I really liked this segment from beginning to end.

Maryse and Alicia Fox beat Eve Torres and Gail Kim. The heels worked over Eve. She tagged Gail. Gail hit a dropkick on Alicia but was distracted by Maryse and Alicia hit the ax kick for the pin.

R. Truth, Evan Bourne, John Morrison and Randy Orton beat Edge, Miz, Ted DiBiase and Chris Jericho. Bourne had a little success early but the heels took over on him. He eventually got the tag to Morrison, who hit a springboard kick on Miz and a corkscrew pescado on Miz and DiBiase. The heels gained the advantage on Morrison for a while but Edge missed a spear and Morrison gave him an enzuigiri.

Morrison tagged Bourne, who came in with kicks on Jericho. Bourne missed the shooting star but landed on his feet. DiBiase and Orton tagged in and Orton immediately hit the RKO on DiBiase and pinned him. The nature of the finish made DiBiase look bad. Afterwards there was a big brawl. Miz went to climb the ladder to get the worthless briefcase but was pushed off. Orton then climbed and got it. Why would you climb a ladder for a briefcase that means nothing when there are seven guys around who might push you off? Oh well. The match itself was good.

Final Thoughts:

This show was pretty good, carried by a great segment with Nexus and the legends and a good main event.

Monday, June 21, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 06/21/10 from Bridgeport, CT.

The Big News: Vince McMahon revealed himself to apparently have been behind the NXT invasion, but then the NXT guys turned on him.

Show Analysis:

Vince McMahon came out to start the show. He said that there was chaos last night and there was only one person to blame, Bret Hart. Vince said that Bret made bad decisions firing Wade Barrett and not showing up or providing additional protection at the PPV. Thus, he fired Bret as GM. Vince announced a new anonymous general manager who will send e-mail decisions to Michael Cole at ringside and Cole will read them. Cole received the first GM decision and it said that the seven members of the NXT group were hired.

Sheamus came out and said that this isn’t how he wanted o win the title. He added that he couldn’t accept the title under these circumstances and held the belt up for Vince to take. That was cheered but Sheamus then laughed and took the title back. He celebrated his win and thanked the NXT guys. He proclaimed that he didn’t need the help. Sheamus was very good here.

John Cena was next out. He was smiling and literally telling jokes, because who cares if he lost the WWE title? This was so stupid. Cena wanted his title rematch later on Raw. To my shock, the GM made the match with Vince McMahon as referee. Of course, with the finish they provided they might as well have just done the usual overt bait and switch.

Chris Jericho beat Evan Bourne in a great little match. Jericho vowed before the match to retire if he lost. Jericho worked Bourne over while Bourne kept going for rollups. Jericho went for the Walls but Bourne escaped and hit a tornado DDT for two. Bourne hit the double knees to the face but Jericho rolled through and applied the Walls. Bourne struggled for the ropes and finally got them. Bourne hit a kick to the face and went for the shooting star press but Jericho got his knees up. That looked awesome. Jericho then really quickly hit the code breaker for the pin. Jericho shoved Bourne down after the match.

Backstage, Vince McMahon was on the phone with the GM. Vince liked what the GM did but said that he doesn’t want to be surprised himself. Elsewhere, Ted DiBiase apologized to Virgil for last week. However, he added that Virgil’s services are no longer needed because he got an upgrade. Maryse came in. Virgil asked what DiBiase would do for protection. DiBiase said he would go to the drug store. That was a great line. Virgil got in DiBiase’s face but then left. I’m very glad they’re finally pairing Maryse with a singles act. I would have paired her with someone who has more upside but she’ll help DiBiase and they can always switch her to someone else later.

The Hart Dynasty was angry backstage about Bret being fired and what the NXT guys did. Of course they had to script Tyson Kidd to say that the last time Bret left WWE an argument could be made that both sides were wrong. Natalya dedicated her match to Bret, and of course didn’t even win.

Natalya wrestled Timina to a no contest. Timina used punches and kicks. Natalya hit a body slam. Simina went for a Samoan drop but had it reversed at which point the NXT guys came out. Wade Barrett said he was there to apologize but Kidd immediately took out a couple guys with a somersault plancha. The NXT guys laid out the Hart Dynasty. I like the idea of the NXT guys coming out whenever. It adds an air of unpredictability and excitement.

The NXT guys all took turns on the microphone continuing where the last left off, which felt so contrived. David Otunga apologized. He said that they did what they did because they love WWE and that now they’ve got contracts things can go back to normal. Heath Slater was interrupted by Daniel Bryan chants. He said they have no problem with WWE wrestlers and it is nothing personal.

Justin Gabriel apologized to Bret Hart and the Hart Dynasty. Darren Young apologized to John Cena. Skip Sheffield insincerely apologized to the fans and tried to get them to do his NXT catchphrase. Michael Tarver said that anyone would have done what they did.

That led to Wade Barrett. Barrett said he had a contract and title shot but he aligned himself with the other guys out of loyalty because they decided to stick together from the beginning and make sure they all got contracts. So was the first season of NXT all a big dream then? He said they have a bond that will never be broken. Barrett said they could make Sheamus a target just as easily as Cena so he better watch it. This was a boring segment. Obviously it was all a ruse, but I don’t understand what exactly they were trying to accomplish in storyline here.

John Morrison beat Zack Ryder. Ted DiBiase was supposed to wrestle Morrison but he came out with Maryse and said he had better things to do but had a replacement. Ryder hit a drop kick and knee drop. Morrison responded with a jaw breaker, power bomb and starship pain for the pin. Backstage, John Cena didn’t accept the NXT apology and said that actions bring about reactions. Vince told Cena he would ensure the best man won.

Great Khali and Eve Torres beat Primo Colon and Alicia Fox. Primo didn’t want in with Khali so he immediately tagged Alicia. Eve had the advantage on Alicia and first and then Alicia took over for a little while. Eve hit an enzuigiri and moonsault but Primo came in and grabbed her. She slapped him and tagged Khali. Alicia left and Khali gave Primo the tree slam for the pin.

Randy Orton came to the ring to say that he will punt the NXT guys and if Barrett gets the title Orton will take it from him. Miz interrupted and said the voices in his head are sick of Orton in the main event. Miz said he will hold the US title and WWE title at the same time. Miz started to do his catchphrase but then attacked Orton. Orton gave him a powerslam but Miz slipped out when he went for the RKO. Edge then came in and speared Orton. Edge said now the real fun begins. I like the idea of a Miz-Orton feud, although obviously the goal should be to elevate Miz to the next level.

John Cena and Sheamus was the second no contest of the evening. Vince was the referee at ringside as opposed to in the ring. Sheamus hit a body slam and elbow drop. He worked over Cena with punches. Cena went for the FU but was countered with a powerslam. Cena used the Cena slam and five knuckle. He applied the STF but Sheamus got to the ropes. Sheamus sent Cena into the steps twice and hit his kick at which point the NXT guys ran out. Sheamus left.

Vince McMahon got in the ring with the NXT guys and took responsibility for all of their actions. He said that next week the GM will reveal something. He was all pleased but the NXT guys circled him and laid him out. Barrett and Gabriel hit their finishes. The crowd chanted Daniel Bryan and NXT.

Final Thoughts:

I liked most of this show. It was entertaining and I enjoyed most of the undercard programs they were setting up. But the main direction of this show is such a confusing mess.

Let’s go through the storyline “progression.” Four weeks ago, Bret Hart was named GM. The NXT guys were feuding with each other. Three weeks ago, Vince McMahon came on Raw to point out he hired Bret as GM and implied he had some sort of plan for Bret.

Two weeks ago, the NXT guys joined together to attack WWE personnel. Last week, Wade Barrett explained they were angry about their treatment by WWE management and wanted WWE contracts and better treatment. Bret refused and fired Barrett, so they attacked Bret in a car and demanded his response on Sunday.

Sunday Bret doesn’t show up and the NXT guys attack again. Monday Vince fires Bret for firing Barrett and letting the NXT guys mess with the show again. The NXT guys are hired by Vince’s anonymous new GM. Vince later announces he was behind the NXT actions and then the NXT guys turn on him.

Maybe WWE has some really good explanation for all these events. But if they do, it’s well over my head. This all makes no sense to me.

If the NXT guys were conspiring together from the beginning, why were they arguing, bickering and ridiculing each other every week on the show?

Why would the NXT guys attack Raw to get WWE contracts if Vince McMahon was behind them in the first place and could have just given them contracts from the beginning?

Why would Vince McMahon order the NXT guys to attack his own announcers and security? Does he hate Justin Roberts?

Why did Vince McMahon make Bret Hart the general manager and give him control for a few weeks rather than just having his guys just attack him in the first place?

Why would Vince fire Bret Hart for letting the NXT guys run wild if that’s what he wanted in the first place?

If Vince was the NXT benefactor and all they wanted was WWE contracts, why would they attack Vince and jeopardize those contracts?

It doesn’t come across like WWE is telling a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. It comes across like they’re just making everything up as they go, devising a “surprising” scenario each week and then trying to connect it as best as they can to what happened before. That’s not how you effectively book a wrestling show. That’s not how you effectively write television. That’s not how you effectively tell any sort of story. It’s crappy writing predicated on the audience being too stupid to notice or too accustomed to no logic in wrestling to care.

People seem to really want this NXT thing to work because it’s different and they want to like the current product. But I’m sorry, shoddy writing is shoddy writing, and drastically lowering our standards for wrestling as compared to any other form of entertainment isn’t the answer.

I’m so beaten down by this stuff.

Monday, June 14, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 06/14/10 from Charlotte, NC.

The Big News: WWE followed up on the big NXT angle from last week.

Show Analysis:

Wade Barrett was in the ring to start the show. He got a very good negative reaction. He said that Bret Hart demanded he come to the ring and apologize. He invited the other NXT guys to the ring and all except Bryan Danielson came out. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler left through the crowd, which was a nice touch.

Barrett asked each man if he wanted to apologize and they all refused. They each had these terrible little monologues they delivered before refusing that sounded completely scripted and phony. They really shouldn’t give these guys WWE scripts if they want them to sound like outsiders. Well, except for maybe Barrett, because he did a tremendous job here.

Barrett said that they were treated like animals and when you start to treat people like animals they act like animals. He complained about the dressing room they were given, the NXT challenges, and WWE management changing the rules on them. That brought out Bret Hart.

Bret Hart said that eight on one doesn’t make you tough and called the NXT guys cowards. Barrett responded by bringing up Daniel Bryan. He said that Bryan had remorse for what he did and that we will never see him again as a result. I guess they had to address Bryan whether it was a shoot or work. Basically disassociating him from the NXT guys would seem to suggest shoot but Barrett could always say he was lying later or they could bring Bryan back as a face. I guess we will see.

Bret Hart announced that John Cena will be at Fatal Four Way in spite of what happened. Barrett replied that this isn’t about Cena but about WWE management. He said that the NXT guys don’t have a problem with the WWE locker room. Barrett said that he has a WWE contract and title match but the other guys have their own demands. David Otunga said they want WWE contracts, their own dressing rooms and first class travel. Bret refused, fired Barrett, and told them all to leave. They left.

Miz won back the US title in a fatal four way over R. Truth, John Morrison and Zach Ryder. This was very spot oriented but it was fun. Ryder completely missed a pescado on two guys for comedy. Morrison hit a cool looking sunset flip power bomb on Miz from the ring to the floor. They did a tower of doom spot in the corner. For the finish, Truth hit a jaw breaker on Morrison. Ryder broke that up and hit the rough rider on Truth but Morrison broke that up. Morrison then hit the starship pain on Truth. Miz threw Morrison out of the ring and covered Truth to win.

Backstage, Randy Orton predicted a title victory on Sunday. He added that if you wonder about his health you can see how he does later in the show against Sheamus. Orton said that part of him respects what the NXT group did but that part of him thinks they’re a bunch of punks. He said that they deserved to either be fired or have their brains beaten in so Wade Barrett got off lucky.

Elsewhere, Ted DiBiase offered Mark Feuerstein a car if he made him co-guest host. Feuerstein indignantly replied no as if this was some gigantic affront to his integrity. Big Show was behind Ted DiBiase so Feuerstein started acting like an idiot standing up to DiBiase. They ended up making a tag match between Show and Feuerstein against Virgil and DiBiase. Feuerstein seemed like he’s probably a nice guy at heart but felt that on a wrestling show you have to act like an obnoxious clown.

Evan Bourne beat Chris Jericho via DQ. They played up that Jericho was in a bad mood over his loss last week and how Bourne was in a bad position with this match. Bourne landed some kicks. Jericho took over until Bourne came back with more kicks. Bourne went for a sunset flip that was countered into a Walls attempt. Bourne avoided that and cradled Jericho for two. Jericho then abruptly hit the code breaker but Bourne kicked out of the pin. Jericho stomped Bourne repeatedly and threatened to hit the ref, for which he was disqualified. This was a horrendous finish but I suppose at least Bourne didn’t lose. Bourne fought Jericho off after the match and hit the shooting star press.

John Cena came to the ring to cut a terrible, terrible promo with this unbelievably cheesy and melodramatic delivery and lines that amazingly got more and more ridiculous over time. He said that Bret gave him the night off but that he wanted to handle the situation. He labeled the NXT guys radicals. He said that their plan was almost brilliant except their genius was blinded by their ignorance. Who says that? He said that the NXT guys made enemies of the WWE Universe. Oh no. He then said that they destroyed the WWE ring, which is considered sacred ground. Sacred ground. Cena demanded the NXT guys come out and they came out of the crowd.

The best analogy I can come up with for John Cena on the microphone is that he has gone from Star Wars Episode V to Star Wars Episode I. That’s probably being a little kind to how he was both before, but I really thought he was a terrific promo for a great many years. Now he’s a serious liability on the microphone because it’s absolutely impossible to believe anything he says. He comes across as this phony, cheesy actor delivering terrible lines that only serve to underscore the whole thing is fake.

When the NXT guys came to the ring, John Cena was joined by Jerry Lawler, Santino Marella, William Regal, Evan Bourne and R. Truth. A brawl broke out with the WWE guys all getting the best of the NXT guys. Santino of all people was laying waste to people. Edge came out and speared Wade Barrett. Sheamus and Randy Orton joined the action. And the NXT guys fled for their lives, chased into the night by Santino Marella and Mark Henry.

I don’t believe as a general rule that after a really hot angle like the one last week that faces should be getting their heat back a week later. I think you need to build to the eventual comeback if you want people to pay to see it. And with this angle in particular, the heels really need all the help they can get. Having them get beat up by Santino and Jerry Lawler even when the odds were even doesn’t help teach the fans to take these guys seriously. This wasn’t the end of the world but it was a step backwards in making this angle significant.

Sheamus backstage said that he wasn’t going to let the NXT rookies ruin his title shot at Fatal Four Way. He declared that if anyone is going to take care of Cena it will be him.

Eve Torres and Gail Kim beat Maryse and Alicia Fox. These four will wrestle in a fatal four way for the title at the PPV. The heels worked over Eve, but Alicia accidentally ran into Maryse. Eve then hit a neck breaker on Alicia for the pin. Poor Gail didn’t even get the hot tag.

Big Show and Mark Feuerstein beat Ted DiBiase and Virgil. Show beat up DiBiase for a little while. DiBiase tagged in Virgil and Show beat up Virgil for a little while too. I felt bad for poor old Virgil. Show gave him a body slam, chop and choke slam. He then tagged Feuerstein. Feuerstein did the worm and an elbow drop for the pin. DiBiase shoved a dollar bill in Virgil’s mouth afterwards but then took it back. That’s evidently the end of Virgil. He lasted longer than I would have figured. I like smiling, happy Big Show.

Santino beat William Regal in a weird match with Vladimir Kozlov as referee. Regal as dominating but Santino rolled him up and Kozlov counted three. Kozlov counted kind of fast but I’m not sure if it was intended as a fast count. Regal was angry at Kozlov after the match.

John Cena and Randy Orton fought Edge and Sheamus to a no contest. Bret Hart had all the Raw wrestlers come on the stage for this match in case the NXT guys came out. Cena was selling basically nothing from last week. The faces worked over Sheamus. The heels then gained control on Cena.

Edge missed a spear and Orton got the tag. Orton hit a power slam and draping DDT on Sheamus. He set up for the RKO but Edge interfered and got the RKO himself. Sheamus then cut off Orton with an ax handle. The heels took over on Orton, with Sheamus hitting a back breaker. Cena eventually got the hot tag. Cena hit some shoulder blocks, at which point the lights went out and the match abruptly ended.

The NXT guys showed up backstage, destroying the backstage area. They then put Bret Hart in a limousine and supposedly ran him into a bunch of cars. They told Bret that on Sunday they want an answer in regards to their status.

This finale was another blow to this NXT angle. Vehicular attack angles in wrestling always suck, without exception. Why? Because they look fake. And what did this angle have going for it? That it felt more real than most angles. Doing a big fake-looking angle undermines the drama of the conflict. It’s like a movie with really obvious CGI. It takes you out of the story and destroys your suspension of disbelief. The lights’ going out also suggests someone in power is behind the whole thing, presumably Vince McMahon, which would quickly make this any other angle.

Oh, and this is some of the worst PPV build they have done in ages. They don’t have a single match on Sunday with any interest and this show in particular undermined one’s interest in Cena vs. Orton vs. Sheamus vs. Edge. So all in all, not a good finish.

Final Thoughts:

Well, the follow-up to last week could have been worse.

Monday, June 07, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 06/07/10 from Miami, FL.

The Big News: WWE executed possibly the biggest, most visually arresting hotshot angle in the history of Monday Night Raw….



And they saved it for the NXT geeks.

Show Analysis:

Bret Hart and Teddy Long came out to start the show. They put over the idea that viewers would be in control. Randy Orton joined them with his arm in a sling. He said he wanted Edge. Edge came out and agreed. Long suggested something to Bret and Bret announced they would compete in either a debate, sit up contest, or match with one of Edge’s arms tied behind his back. They then asked the fans in the arena, who of course cheered for the match. This was not a promising start to a supposed viewer’s choice show, with only one choice anyone would vote for being provided.

Big Show beat Chris Jericho in a body slam challenge. The other choices fans could vote on were a submission match or over the top challenge. Jericho did a good job selling being upset at the stipulation. Jericho slapped Show so Show slapped him a few times. Jericho tried a body slam but of course got nowhere. Jericho went after Show’s arm for a little bit. He went for a crossbody but was caught with a body slam for the win. Show then made Jericho tap to a camel clutch and threw him over the top rope.

Hart Dynasty beat Great Khali and Hornswoggle. The other choices for Hart Dynasty’s opponents were the Usos or the Dudebusters. That was not a good sign at all where WWE builds up a match and the fans go for the joke pick instead. Khali worked over Tyson Kidd. Hornswoggle missed a frog splash off the top and Kidd pinned him. The Usos attacked the Harts after the match but the Dynasty fought them off this time.

Jerry Lawler’s crown went missing, which set up a lame show-long story. Lawler hired the A-Team to find the crown. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson said that he thought he knew who had it. The A-Team guys were playing their roles from the movie. This was surreal.

Vladimir Kozlov beat Santino Marella in a dance off. The other choices were an arm wrestling match or a wrestling match, so they obviously wanted the dance off. Santino and Kozlov did a bunch of wacky stuff. The crowd seemed to enjoy this but it didn’t really do it for me. The highlight was Santino doing what appeared to be a variation of the Carlton dance. The crowd preferred Kozlov to Santino.

Maryse won a 12 woman battle royal over the Bellas, Rosa Mendes, Jillian Hall, Gail Kim, Alicia Fox, Kelly Kelly, Layla, Michelle McCool, Tiffany and Eve Torres. The other options for the women were a 6 on 6 tag match or a champion vs. champion match. It came down to Eve, Lay Cool, Jillian and Maryse. Eve threw out Lay Cool together. Jillian and Maryse got rid of Eve. Jillian wanted to celebrate together with Maryse but Maryse threw her out instead.

Kane beat Sheamus via count out. The other choices for Sheamus’ opponent were Mark Henry or Evan Bourne but they led you towards Kane by booking a confrontation between Kane and Sheamus prior to the match. Kane accused Sheamus of attacking his brother but Sheamus said he would acknowledge if he did. Sheamus hit a powerslam and worked over Kane. Kane finally got a choke slam and Sheamus just rolled out of the ring and took the count out.

Wade Barrett did a promo backstage. He said his winning NXT was never in question and it’s just the start of things for him. He vowed to accomplish something that has never been accomplished in WWE. Elsewhere, the A-Team confronted Ted DiBiase and Virgil. They wanted the crown and Rampage was ready to fight Virgil. IRS had the crown and said Lawler didn’t pay back taxes on it. Gas went off or something, knocking out the A-Team.

Miz and Zack Ryder beat R. Truth and John Morrison. The other choices for Miz’s partner were William Regal and Dolph Ziggler while the other choices for Truth’s partner were MVP or Christian. The heels worked over Truth, who got the tag to Morrison. A brawl broke out. Morrison collided with the post and Miz hit the skull crushing finale for the pin. That finish would occur again later in the show. Backstage, Kane accused Bret Hart of taking out his brother.

Randy Orton beat Edge via DQ. Edge had his hand tied behind his back. Orton used stomps and went for the RKO but Edge escaped. Edge got his hand free and attacked Orton repeatedly until he was disqualified. Edge went for a spear but was caught with a kick. Edge then hit Orton with a chair twice including once to the injured shoulder. It seems stupid to be doing this physicality with Orton injured.

Backstage, Evan Bourne thanked John Cena for choosing him as a tag partner last week. John Cena then cut a promo saying he was happy that his fate was in the hands of the fans. Elsewhere, one of the A-Team guys did comedy with Gene Okerlund.

Matt Hardy beat Drew McIntyre. This was an amusing deal, as the choice for McIntyre’s opponent was Goldust, Yoshi Tatsu or a “mystery opponent” who was Matt Hardy in silhouette holding up the V1 sign. Drew hit a boot but ran into the post and was hit with the twist of fate for the pin.

Rampage woke up backstage from the gas and was told that IRS, Ted DiBiase and Virgil were taking him to the ring. DiBiase in the ring announced his plan to turn over Rampage to Roddy Piper. You know, because Piper feuded with Mr. T 25 years ago and Rampage is playing the character that Mr. T was famous for back then. Piper was going to attack Rampage when the other A-Team guy, Gene Okerlund and Dusty Rhodes made the save. Rampage gave DiBiase a spine buster and Virgil a choke slam. There was very little crowd reaction to any of this. The guest host next week is someone named Mark Feuerstein.

John Cena and CM Punk fought to a no contest. The other choices for Cena’s opponent were Rey Mysterio and Jack Swagger. Punk was a big surprise winning because they had pushed Rey as the choice and the angle at the end seemed better laid out for a face vs. face match. Cena went for the mask. Punk came back with kicks. Cena used punches and a bulldog but was cut off by Luke Gallows interference. Punk worked over Cena and Cena came back with a Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle attempt.

At that point, Wade Barrett came out and all hell broke loose. The NXT guys came in from the crowd, all wearing “N” armbands. They jumped the Straight Edge Society and laid them out. They then surrounded John Cena and jumped him. Barrett was leading the other guys. With Cena down, the NXT guys went to town. They attacked Matt Striker and Jerry Lawler. Michael Cole turned tail and ran.

The NXT guys attacked the ring announcer and the time keeper. Daniel Bryan choked out Justin Roberts. They tore out the ropes, pulled up the ring and removed the mats from the floor. They beat down John Cena forever, with all the guys taking turns hitting him with moves. They laid waste to the entire ringside area. John Cena was carried out on a stretcher.

Final Thoughts:

Most of this show was bad. It had bad finishes, bad wrestling, bad comedy and a bad atmosphere. They said WWE Universe about 18,000 times and kept promising viewer power while delivering the same old formula show, which felt completely patronizing. Quinton Jackson, who is a dynamic personality in MMA, was completely uninteresting doing WWE’s goofy scripted comedy. All this added up to a deadly boring show.

Then came the amazing final segment. That was one hell of an incredible angle. They pulled out all the stops to deliver something really memorable and that would get over the actors involved practically instantaneously. It was so different and so much more serious than anything they have done in ages, the sort of outsider angle that would have meant gigantic business if executed at a different time with different players.

Which makes it all the more baffling that they used this huge angle for guys who they have booked as complete geeks for weeks and weeks. There’s just no excuse if you were going to do this to not better present and protect these guys in the preceding weeks. And there’s the additional problem that most of these guys have no talent.

The good news is that most of the Raw audience doesn’t watch NXT, so they may not perceive them as badly. And you can hide their varying degrees of ineptitude by letting Daniel Bryan and Justin Gabriel do the wrestling and Wade Barrett do the talking. Still, this is the sort of segment that really leaves you wondering about the wrestling competence of the people booking WWE television. I’ve seen a lot of home run angles over the years, and it’s hard to recall ever seeing an angle this good where the focal players were so lacking in talent and prior presentation.

My latest MMA piece on Chuck Liddell and aging fighters is available at: