Monday, November 22, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 11/22/10 from Orlando, FL.

The Big News: John Cena “made his last Raw appearance” and Miz won the WWE title.

Show Analysis:

Nexus, minus John Cena, came out to start the show. Wade Barrett said that Cena was willing to sacrifice his career to do what he thought was right. However, Barrett added that he didn’t have a chance to win the title because Cena was biased and decided in advance he wasn’t going to win. Barrett claimed in the history of WWE an official has never been allowed to place his hands on a competitor, which is just nonsense with referees kicking heels’ hands off the ropes and shoving them backwards when they get in the official’s face literally hundreds of times over the years.

Barrett said that Cena shoving him was unfair and unprofessional. Thus, he wanted another shot at Randy Orton’s title with a neutral referee. Three seconds elapsed and the GM sent back a verbose speech in response. It really would help the GM gimmick if they tried to construct e-mails that sounded like they were written on the fly as opposed to long-winded pontifications. Good dialogue needs to feel authentic and real. The anonymous GM never does. The GM announced Orton vs. Barrett for the title on Raw. Barrett then said he would let Cena appear on Raw to say his final words.

They announced that the King of the Ring tournament will take place next week on Raw. This show featured four qualifying matches and Smackdown will feature four more. Qualifying matches for a tournament are always a good idea to make it feel important. Michael Cole then introduced CM Punk as the third member of the Raw broadcast team. I thought he showed promise for the role on NXT as he is of course a great talker.

Sheamus beat R. Truth in a King of the Ring qualifier. Truth is back to his old What’s Up song. His new song was awful, but a hip hop character doing the same tired song with the same tired hook for years on end is so profoundly uncool. They should hire someone talented to ghostwrite and produce a new song for him.

There were dueling chants here and I expect Sheamus to get increasingly positive reactions in the coming months the way he has been booked. Sheamus worked over Truth’s shoulder. Truth came back with a dropkick off the top. However, Sheamus quickly cut him off with the Brogue kick and razor’s edge for the pin. This was a long match but rather dull.

Lay Cool arrived at the building but were turned away by a security guard because they aren’t Raw wrestlers. Too bad that security guard didn’t travel to four of the last five Raws when Smackdown wrestlers appeared without explanation. A lack of basic consistency in a story is a gigantic turnoff to anyone paying attention. Natalya arrived but told security she didn’t know them and they were forced to leave.

Elsewhere, Santino was upset about losing the tag title match at Survivor Series. Vladimir Kozlov tried to cheer him up but he wasn’t having it. Then Tamina came in to sing a song for Santino. They kissed and Tamina told Santino to call her. He felt better.

Then in another vignette, Orton said Cena called his match fairly and that he respects Cena. He added that it didn’t matter who refereed the match with Barrett, because he guaranteed Barrett wouldn’t leave Raw with the title. I think that was intended to be a little hint from the writers as to the end of the show.

Ezekiel Jackson beat Alex Riley in a King of the Ring qualifier. This was announced as Miz vs. Jackson but Riley said that Miz suffered an anxiety attack and Riley would take his place. I didn’t like this at the time because Miz blowing off the tournament seemingly made the tournament seem unimportant. However, the end of the show tied this together perfectly and there’s nothing wrong with the world title being prioritized over the King of the Ring. Jackson won with clotheslines and a uranage. Cena was then briefly shown backstage saying goodbyes.

Next up was John Cena’s farewell, which I found insufferable. Cena came out smiling and happy. He said that he’s fired and then became solemn. He talked about how much he respects the business and wrestlers of the past. He said his goal was always to get the older wrestlers to respect him. It always bugs me in these segments when wrestlers try to put over how much they love the wrestling business but have to abide by the ban of the term “wrestling.” It’s an odd way of showing respect for the past.

Cena said he has gotten to travel the world and live out his fantasy. He said he wouldn’t let Nexus ruin the greatest nine years of his life. He noted that WWE was a big part of his life and then it became his life. He noted he missed the birth of his brother’s child and his mother’s birthday is coming up. He said he would go home to tell his mom he loves her and see his brother’s kid. His eyes started tearing up.

Cena encouraged the women and children in the audience to say “let’s go Cena” and the men to say “Cena sucks.” He then told Barrett to stop taking shortcuts and give everything he has. He thanked the fans and left. They delayed forever to find a few fans who seemed mildly sad surrounded by smiling and unaffected people who weren’t buying a bit of this. Cena left backstage and everyone clapped for him. He hugged Orton and walked out. Barrett did the “you can’t see me” gesture.

I find it fundamentally insulting that despite the fact they’ve done a million phony retirements, Cena isn’t going to be gone for literally even a few weeks, and nobody buys the stipulation in the first place that they are still so arrogant and think so little of their audience’s intelligence that they try to really hard sell another fake retirement. Even Cena the character is a liar, selling this big departure huge and tugging on his fans’ heartstrings when he is planning to come back before the end of the show. Cena the character is essentially Brett Favre and at least there the retirements weren’t orchestrated by his team in an effort to sell tickets.

Selling pay-per-views based on a stipulation you have absolutely no intention of abiding by has always been sleazy. It’s been done so often it’s stupid because it doesn’t even pop business any more. And to try to turn the whole thing into a big heartfelt deal designed to play on real emotions is not only insulting and ineffective but undermines fans’ ability to emotionally invest in anything you do as significant and real.

Daniel Bryan beat Ted DiBiase in a very brief King of the Ring qualifier. Brie Bella came out to encourage Bryan as he was entering the ring. She watched the match at ringside. Bryan got the LeBell lock quickly and DiBiase submitted.

Natalya beat Alicia Fox. Alicia pulled out Natalya’s hair extensions, which was weird. Natalya hit a delayed vertical suplex lifting Alicia up and down. That was a cool spot. She then applied the sharpshooter and Alicia tapped out. Backstage, Melina and John Morrison reunited with Melina wishing him luck and slapping his ass.

John Morrison beat Tyson Kidd in a King of the Ring qualifier. Kidd hit stomps and kicks. Morrison came back with springboard kick and starship pain for the win. The terrible booking of Hart Dynasty continues. The heel in a tag team breakup simply shouldn’t be jobbing to someone else the first week after the turn. Even if you have no plans for Kidd, at least give him a win over a jobber and then have David Hart Smith be the first to beat him cleanly in two weeks to give Smith a little bit of momentum.

Randy Orton beat Wade Barrett to retain the WWE title. Nexus jumped Orton coming to the ring, so Orton was selling his knee big. The GM announced Nexus was banned from ringside, but Punk and Lawler pointed out the damage was already done. Barrett went after Orton’s knee, worked it over, and finally hit wasteland. He had Orton covered but Cena ran out of the crowd and pulled the referee out of the ring. He gave Barrett the FU and left. Orton then hit the RKO for the win.

At that point, Miz came out and cashed in Money in the Bank. Miz went after the leg just like Barrett. Orton tried to fight him off with punches but Miz did some damage and sent the leg into the post. Orton came back with clotheslines, a European uppercut and a powerslam. He went for the RKO but Miz reversed into the skull crushing finale for the pin. So Miz is the new champion. They then cut to a girl looking infuriated at this turn of events. It was absolutely hilarious; check it out (thanks to Paul Sebert on the board)

Final Thoughts:

I thought this was a mixed bag of a show. I really liked Miz winning the title at the end and think giving him a run with the title is going to make the show feel fresher and more exciting. It was also very well set up. I really disliked the Cena stuff. And the rest of the show was mostly just there.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving. Well, those who celebrate it and celebrate it this week, anyway.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 11/15/10 from Hershey, PA.

The Big News: WWE hit upon one of the best ideas it has had for a themed three hour Raw special.

Show Analysis:

Raw started with an opening that was a blend of the original opening and the current opening. It had the original theme and graphics but the video from today’s Raw. The old fireworks display went off in the building and a siren played in the background. They cut to Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler standing at ringside like they used to do to start Raw. When Cole threw it to the ring he got in a Mel Phillips reference, which was very surprising to hear. Justin Roberts and the referee were wearing wigs, because apparently goofy wigs are old school. Roberts also had an 80s WWF suit.

Roberts sent it to Gene Okerlund, standing on the side of the stage with the ring behind him like they used to use for WWF Superstars interviews. Bob Orton Jr. was interviewed. He said Randy wasn’t there yet because he didn’t know the show started an hour early. Bob said he doesn’t care about John Cena or Wade Barrett but that Randy will win. That brought out Wade Barrett. He vowed to become champion like Bob never was. He said he wouldn’t beat up Bob so Bob can see him beat up Bob’s son at Survivor Series.

Miz interrupted the segment. He said that he could cash in Money in the Bank prior to the Survivor Series and ruin Barrett’s plans. John Cena appeared on the screen. He challenged Miz to a match and said he would take out Miz for himself, not Barrett. Miz accepted. It was at this point I noticed the letters for Raw at the entrance ala the 1995-1997 period.

Dolph Ziggler beat Mark Henry. Henry came out as Sexual Chocolate. I would have preferred the USA tights he had at the beginning but I guess they were in Hershey. I thought it strange that Henry was the only one on the show to use an old gimmick, but the roster is so young that few guys have a gimmick from a number of years back. Fans actually chanted “chocolate.” Ziggler did an inset prerecorded interview in the corner of the screen prior to the match like they used to do.

Henry pressed Ziggler from the floor into the ring. Ziggler used kicks and punches. Jerry Lawler acknowledged that Henry’s first matches were against Lawler. I was actually at either his first or second wrestling match with Lawler at a house show prior to his pay-per-view debut and it was amazingly bad. Henry came back with a powerslam but missed a splash. Ziggler hit the zig zag but Henry powered out of the pin. Ziggler hit another zig zag and Henry kicked out again. Ziggler then applied the sleeper and Henry was out for the submission.

Backstage, Tyson Kidd and David Hart Smith were talking about working things out between them. That’s trouble. Tony Atlas came in and started rambling about his team with Rocky Johnson. He went on and on until Hart Dynasty left. After a commercial break Atlas was still rambling and Yoshi Tatsu did a motion that I think was supposed to mean he stabbed himself. This was intended as comedy but didn’t work.

Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel beat Hart Dynasty. David Hart Smith hit three straight belly to belly suplexes on Gabriel and a powerslam and clotheslines on Slater. The Nexus team took over. When Smith finally went for the tag, Tyson Kidd refused and kicked Smith in the head. Nexus covered for the win. They really blew it with this Hart Dynasty breakup. By not giving fans a reason to like either man and not telegraphing who was the heel in the breakup, the turn was as flat as any you’ll ever see. Yeah, it was more surprising that Kidd turned, but nobody cared.

Backstage, R. Truth told Randy Orton that Cena knew what he was doing when he counted down Orton’s shoulders. He told Orton that Cena was going to get himself out of Nexus and that Orton needs to do something about it. This is such a terribly constructed story. They set up Truth as Cena’s friend and Cena’s supposed friend is a paranoid asshole stooging him off every week to Cena’s longtime rival. It’s like he’s turning heel, but I don’t think that’s where they’re going. Orton threatened to punt Cena.

Howard Finkel was brought in to do ring announcements. He introduced the Brooklyn Brawler, accompanied by Harvey Wippleman. Finkel even did his old routine where he sounds disgusted to even say Wippleman’s name. The Brawler was angry that he didn’t receive a standing ovation. He issued an open challenge. That brought out Ezekiel Jackson, who quickly squashed Brawler. He hit a corner avalanche and the uranage for the pin. During this match, Michael Cole oddly said the year is 2011. He corrected himself later.

Backstage, David Otunga said he stepped up and now it is time for one of the other guys to step up and take out R. Truth. Otunga referred to himself as the leader of Nexus which angered Wade Barrett. Barrett said Otunga would be the one to deal with Truth. Then the GM popped up and said Otunga wouldn’t face Truth because he had another match. Instead, the GM announced Barrett vs. Truth.

Barrett said this would prove he can beat anyone on the Raw roster on his own. Yeah, kind of like how Amir Sadollah proved he can beat anyone in the UFC by beating Peter Sobotta. Barrett told Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris to accompany John Cena to the ring later but Cena turned that down with some stupid comedy.

John Cena beat Alex Riley. Miz said that the GM didn’t sanction Cena vs. Miz, Cena did. Huh, I didn’t know Cena could sanction matches. Well, I guess if Barrett could there’s no reason Cena shouldn’t be able to. Miz thus said that he could make a substitution. So Miz can book matches too. I wonder if all the wrestlers can book whatever matches they want, or whether you have to reach a certain level to do it. Anyway, the GM didn’t object to this so Miz put Riley in the match.

Miz punched Cena behind the referee’s back to give Riley the advantage. After some brief offense, Cena came back with shoulder blocks, the Cena slam, the five knuckle, the FU and the STF for the win. This was a paint by numbers Cena match. It would be nice if Cena would at least switch the order of his five moves once every ten matches. Great wrestlers can get by doing the same moves repeatedly but Cena’s matches are so stale at this point.

After the match, Randy Orton ran in. Miz went after him so Orton got into a fight with Miz. Orton got rid of Miz and then McGillicutty and Harris hit the ring. Orton got rid of them too. Orton and Cena then squared off and started fighting. That got very little crowd reaction. The crowd in general was consistently dead throughout the show. They did an old school pull apart with WWE officials including Tony Garea wearing suits. The GM announced Cena and Orton in Piper’s Pit for later in the show.

Nikolai Volkoff and Iron Sheik came to the ring and Volkoff started to sing the Soviet national anthem. The crowd didn’t really boo. Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov interrupted. Kozlov wanted to sing with Volkoff. They started to sing again and this time the crowd chanted USA. Michael Cole made a reference to Gorbachev and Putin, with Lawler acting like he has no idea who they are. Santino cut off the song and called it crushingly terrible. He then said someone else was going to come out for a song, and it was Slick singing Jive Soul Bro. The crowd didn’t react. Iron Sheik then started cutting a promo on Hulk Hogan. The crowd didn’t seem to get this segment, but I thought it was pretty damn amusing.

Vladimir Kozlov and Santino Marella beat Usos to become the number one contenders for the tag team titles. Kozlov and Santino were successful early but the Usos worked over Kozlov. Santino got the hot tag and came in with punches. Cole compared him to Manny Pacquiao. Santino hit a diving head butt for two and then the cobra for the clean pin.

After the match, Sheamus ran in and gave Kozlov and one of the Usos the Brogue kick. He shoved down Santino when Santino’s lover ran in. John Morrison called Sheamus a bully. What, because he wants to fight one half of the top tag team challengers in a one-on-one match after the guy beat him in a match because you interfered? Long story short, Sheamus is right, Santino is a coward and Morrison is a meddling punk. Morrison wanted to fight Sheamus but Sheamus left.

Kofi Kingston beat David Otunga. Kingston did an inset promo about the match where he said he would fly around like Koko B. Ware. I figured he was jobbing for sure after that comment. Otunga hit body slams and the two wrestlers hit a double clothesline. George Steele then randomly came out. He went after one of the turnbuckles. That was of course the cue for the three times weekly distraction finish. Steele left, Otunga turned his back on Kingston to stare at the turnbuckle for a while, and Kingston got back up. Kingston threw Otunga into the exposed turnbuckle and hit trouble in paradise for the win.

Backstage, Arn Anderson and Jerry Brisco were talking with Morrison. Anderson for some reason was proud of Morrison. Sheamus then came in and gave Morrison the Brogue kick. He said he accepted Morrison’s challenge for a match at the Survivor Series.

Elsewhere backstage, Hacksaw Jim Duggan told Aksana that her mother was there. It turned out to be Dusty Rhodes in a wig. Kelly Kelly then dropped a net on Aksana and Goldust took back the million dollar title. That’s an awful lot of trickery for Goldust to catch a 120-pound-woman, but hey, you can’t argue with success. Goldust said he would return the belt to its rightful owner and gave it to Ted DiBiase Sr. Boy, he lost interest in that belt in a hurry. IRS said he would find a tax shelter for it.

Ted Sr. went to give it back to Ted Jr. but Ted Jr. told him to keep it. Ted Jr. said he wants something else. Boy, he lost interest in that belt in a hurry. That’s apparently it for the million dollar title and they’re smart to get rid of it. It wasn’t helping DiBiase’s act and just brought up an unfavorable comparison. Cody Rhodes came in and Goldust wanted grooming tips from his brother. Rhodes declined.

They then played Dusty’s music and they all danced in a ridiculous manner. Tatanka came in to join the dance. Aksana forgot about the title and the net that was covering her and began dancing with a gigantic smile on her face. Boy she lost interest in that belt in a hurry. Ron Simmons came in and said something. I forget what it was. This was one of those WWE goofy comedy segments that they do too often. I thought it was okay.

Wade Barrett beat R. Truth. Truth hit a clothesline over the top and somersault plancha. Barrett retaliated with an elbow off the ropes and a back breaker. Truth hit clotheslines but missed a kick. Barrett finished Truth with a yakuza kick and wasteland for the pin.

Ricardo Rodriguez was going to do the introduction for Alberto Del Rio when Tito Santana came out and introduced Del Rio himself. No offense to Tito, but this sure accentuated Rodriguez’s value to the act. Santana’s introduction lacked Rodriguez’s enthusiasm, and that enthusiasm really adds a lot to Del Rio’s entrance.

Chavo Guerrero Sr. drove Del Rio’s limousine in. Del Rio made fun of Americans and said legends should fall in line and support him like Tito and Chavo did. Sgt. Slaughter came out and told Del Rio not to disrespect legends or America. He challenged Del Rio to a match. Slaughter got the cobra clutch a couple times but Del Rio got to the ropes and then hit an enzuigiri for the pin. After the match he put Slaughter in an armbar but MVP made the save.

They ran a comedy video package on Mae Young. Lay Cool then came out and made fun of Young being old. Young challenged them to a match. Gene Okerlund and Lay Cool made it clear the match was no-DQ and falls count anywhere. Lay Cool laughed but then of course all the other women came out and attacked Lay Cool. Young slapped Layla and covered her with one foot. Young had someone holding her up at every point so she was clearly in no condition to do basically anything.

Daniel Bryan beat Jack Swagger. This was quite the segment, because Jim Ross came back as an announcer for the match. God could they ever use him back. Ross tried to get over the match and the wrestlers, while Michael Cole spent the entire match burying Ross and the match. He acted like he was bored and wanted the match to end, while incessantly ridiculing Ross. Ross basically just ignored him while Lawler started insulting Cole in response. Clearly Vince was in Cole’s ear and this was one of those segments where the neuroses of the people in charge of this company are on full display.

Bryan went for an omoplata. Swagger reversed into an ankle lock attempt but Bryan got out. Bryan hit kicks but Swagger came back with punches. Bryan hit a baseball slide and knee off the apron to the floor. Bryan hit a dropkick off the top but missed a dropkick into the corner. Swagger hit a Vader bomb but his gut wrench attempt was reversed. Swagger reversed that into a back breaker and went for the gut wrench again. Bryan got out and nailed a kick to the head for the win.

Afterwards, Ted DiBiase Jr. attacked Daniel Bryan. He hit dream street and placed the US title on Bryan’s chest. Ross left after this match but hit Cole with his hat a few times on the way out.

My take on this match was that they were worried that Ross would do such a good job that the fans would want Ross back. Thus, they did everything they could to destroy the segment and bury Ross so that reaction wouldn’t occur. They still failed because Ross is the greatest wrestling announcer of all time and it’s such a stark difference listening to an announcer focused on getting the matches and wrestlers over as opposed to an announcer burying everyone and spending the whole time bringing attention to himself. Ross was working so hard try to get over Bryan and Swagger as opposed to the current WWE atmosphere where everyone is treated like a joke.

The show ended with Piper’s Pit, and I think this was probably the best Piper’s Pit in 20 years. Roddy Piper talked about how when he had a problem he did something about it. He brought out John Cena. Piper pointed out he was never WWE champion and it eats at him a little bit. He said that there are other great wrestlers who never held the title. He told Cena that if he gives Barrett the title he is spitting in the face of all those legends. He asked Cena not to spit in his face and told Cena to do the right thing.

Cena said that at times he doesn’t know what the right thing is. He said it’s not that easy. Cena said he has worked as hard as he can so legends will say he could have hung with them. He said he has tremendous respect for legends. He agreed that if he gives Barrett the title it will ruin everything. He vowed to call the match down the middle and whoever wins will win.

That brought out Wade Barrett. Barrett said he has proved he can beat anyone on the Raw roster without Cena’s help. He pointed out if he doesn’t win Cena is finished. Piper told him to shut up. Piper said that if he doesn’t earn the title he won’t be a champion but a joke. Barrett then told Cena to put on a Nexus shirt and Cena did. Cena said that after the match on Sunday he will go after Barrett win or lose.

Randy Orton came out. He teased going after Cena but instead attacked Barrett. He hit a powerslam and was setting up for the RKO but Cena got in the way. Orton gave Cena the RKO. He went to punt Cena but Cena got up and hit the FU. Barrett ordered Cena to raise his hand. Instead Cena gave him the FU. Umm, shouldn’t Cena be fired? I mean, okay, I guess Barrett didn’t order Cena not to attack him some time in the last two hours, but he definitely just ordered Cena to raise his hand. Oh well.

Before the end, this was a tremendous segment. Piper was excellent and Cena delivered his best promo in quite a while.

Final Thoughts:

Old school Raw is a winner of an idea. The execution of the idea wasn’t that good at all but it was still a fun, entertaining show because of the gimmick. It’s enjoyable to have things feel different, to see people you don’t always see, and to have things feel more unpredictable. The old school idea accomplished those goals.

One thing I was struck by watching the show is that it would be nice if there were some aspects of the past which were treated with respect. It feels like pretty much every old wrestler on the show was treated as a comedy figure. Now, I think doing comedy with Iron Sheik or Slick is great, but other wrestlers should be treated seriously. Vince has issues with aging and doesn’t treat older people well, but it would benefit him if he did.

I remember NWA and WCW bringing in old wrestlers, where they would be treated as big stars and it was a serious deal to get over the championship. Pat O’Connor and Lou Thesz would help to make Ric Flair a big deal. Perhaps an even better example is the MLB All Star Game where all the younger players gathered around Ted Williams. If past main events are a joke, it doesn’t do much for current main eventers.

The main event of this show was the perfect example. Roddy Piper did a serious segment where he wasn’t treated like a comedy figure (even though he has been a ton in recent years by WWE) and he delivered huge. It was such an effective segment to put over the title and make it feel important. That’s what the past can do for you, but only if you present it in a certain light. By all means, use Chavo Classic, Tony Atlas and the like for comedy. But to me, guys like Dusty Rhodes, Ted DiBiase and Jim Ross could be used much more effectively in a serious manner.

Monday, November 08, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 11/08/10 from Manchester, England.

The Big News: Santino Marella was awesome.

Show Analysis:

John Cena started the show in the ring with a hokey scroll introducing Wade Barrett. Barrett got a face reaction but it wasn’t as much as I would have expected. The crowd seemed dead for much of the show, but I’m not sure how much of that was the micing. WWE this time didn’t do anything to artificially turn the crowd on Barrett. I think that was an excellent decision. Nobody really buys a heel saying bad things about their hometown, so all it really accomplishes is making the crowd a little colder and making the character seem a little less hot.

Barrett said that they would all have a party to celebrate his upcoming title win. He reprimanded David Otunga for undermining him and taking Nexus to Smackdown. He told Otunga to make sure he is successful next time. He then criticized John Cena as referee last week. Cena started doing his weekly goofy comedy to undermine the seriousness of his angle. He then said he would take out Barrett after Survivor Series. Barrett wanted Cena to introduce him as champion, but they were interrupted by Randy Orton.

Orton pointed out that he is still champion. He said that he is fighting Barrett for the title, not Cena. He added that he doesn’t care if Cena is fired, just that Barrett never has the title. Barrett said he has men behind him and Orton doesn’t. Hey now. That brought up the annoying GM. Excuse me, anonymous.

The GM canceled Barrett’s announced celebration. So what was the point of that? The GM also announced Barrett vs. Orton must end via pinfall or submission and that the remaining members of Nexus are banned from ringside. The GM also announced Team Nexus vs. Team Orton 10 on 10 with John Cena as referee for the main event of the show. The GM said he or she would select Orton’s teammates. Cena shoved Otunga after this announcement.

WWE does mystery partners for later in the show all the time, but it is always the same regular characters. They might be able to boost ratings for mystery partner tags if every once in a while they brought in a non-regular wrestler to fill a mystery slot as a one-off surprise. Also, in a random note, Jerry Lawler was not on commentary and they announced a couple times that he had a knee injury.

Eve Torres and the Bella Twins beat Maryse, Alicia Fox and Tamina. The faces dressed in Man U attire and the heels in Liverpool attire, which meant the faces got a mixed reaction because a lot of people don’t like Man U. It feels like they’ve made this mistake over and over again when coming to the UK.

The heels worked over Eve. Eve made the tag and a brawl broke out. Maryse hit a DDT on one of the Bellas, but the Bellas did a switch and the other Bella rolled up Alicia for the pin. Backstage, Barrett said that Otunga wouldn’t be a part of Team Nexus and instead would wrestle Cena in a singles match.

Usos beat Hart Dynasty. Kidd hit a springboard plancha into a huracanrana on the floor. Kidd missed a springboard elbow and the Usos worked him over. He eventually got the tag to David Hart Smith. Smith hit clotheslines, a belly to belly and a running powerslam. Sadly it didn’t seem like the powerslam got much of a reaction despite it being a tribute to his father who was one of the UK’s top international stars. Jey then hit a kick and splash off the top for the pin.

Backstage, Orton said that he did care about his partners in the main event because he needs to get the best of Nexus. Miz came in and said that he would be one of Orton’s partners. Elsewhere, David Otunga got the cold shoulder from the other members of Nexus. He said that when he asserted he is the best member of Nexus, he was just talking about Cena and not the other guys. He wanted the other guys to help him against Cena but they weren’t receptive. When he left, the other members of Nexus made fun of him. I can’t figure out if they’re giving Otunga an identity outside the main group to get him over more or because they are going to dump him like Michael Tarver and Darren Young.

Goldust beat Ted DiBiase. Goldust hit an arm drag, clothesline over the top and inverted atomic drop. DiBiase retaliated with a clothesline and chin lock. Goldust fought back with a bulldog and powerslam. Maryse took the million dollar title from the ring announcer during the match, but Aksana then came out and took the title. Goldust rolled up DiBiase for the pin. This was well worked while it lasted.

John Cena beat David Otunga. Nexus came out with Otunga but Barrett gave the signal and the other guys immediately left. Otunga went to leave but Cena gave chase and brought him back. Otunga got a little offense and then Cena hit the five knuckle, FU and applied the STF for the tap. This was reminiscent of Cena-Darren Young, which doesn’t bode well for Otunga.

Backstage, Barrett pointed out that Otunga got pinned on Raw last week, pinned on Smackdown, and then embarrassed Barrett in his hometown this week. Barrett said he would give Otunga a chance to redeem himself. He told Otunga to take Nexus back to Smackdown and take on Edge in a match. However, Barrett told Otunga that if he doesn’t beat Edge, he will be done with Nexus.

Next up was one of the best WWE comedy segments in a very long time. It was Santino and Vladimir Kozlov coming out for tea time. I know, that doesn’t sound that good, but it worked very well. Santino said they had been studying British culture: James Bond, Austin Powers and Mr. Bean. However, Santino added that he keeps almost getting killed trying to cross the street and encouraged the Brits to drive on the other side of the road.

Santino said he wanted to make amends with Sheamus. Sheamus came out and said he thinks Santino is misunderstood. He said that he knew someone like Santino in Ireland with only one friend, a donkey. Sheamus said that everyone called him the village idiot. Santino thought he was talking about the donkey, not the person Sheamus was comparing him to. Santino kept trying to get on Sheamus’ good side but then he would make accidental references to Sheamus being pale and get really nervous.

Santino said there were only two reasons Sheamus could be angry: overexposure to gamma rays or being excluded from activities with other children because he was a ginger. The crowd was really into this whole segment. Santino said he won’t exclude Sheamus from fun. Sheamus responded that Santino is so funny he couldn’t remember why he hates Santino. Santino then said he couldn’t remember either. Kozlov pointed out it was because Santino beat Sheamus. Sheamus was mortified by this and the crowd began chanting for Kozlov.

Santino went to pour tea for Sheamus but he couldn’t keep his hand steady because he was so nervous. Of course he spilled the tea on Sheamus and the crowd reacted big. Sheamus got angry and pushed over the table. The GM then made Santino vs. Sheamus. Santino was so great here and this seems to be planting the first seeds of an eventual Sheamus face turn.

Sheamus beat Santino via DQ. Santino ran away but the GM told Santino to get in the ring or be suspended. Santino went for the cobra but Sheamus hit an ax handle and stomped him into the ground. Santino was begging off and then hit a low blow for a DQ. He then threw a big celebration until Sheamus laid him out with a Brogue kick. John Morrison for some reason ran out again and gave Sheamus a springboard kick. I think Santino and Sheamus are being helped in this program, but Morrison’s presence doesn’t help anyone.

Backstage, Barrett told Cena to do the right thing. He said that if Cena does he can be back at WrestleMania and Nexus will become a memory. However, he noted that if Cena doesn’t do his job the right way it will be his job in WWE that becomes a distant memory.

Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel, Michael McGillicutty, Husky Harris and Heath Slater beat Randy Orton, Miz, Daniel Bryan, Mark Henry and R. Truth. David Otunga came out to watch the match. Nexus worked over Bryan including a Husky Harris head over heels clothesline. Slater missed a dive into the corner, Bryan hit a superkick, and tagged Orton.

Orton came in with clotheslines, a powerslam and a draping DDT on Barrett. Barrett retaliated with punches and went for wasteland but Orton got out and hit a back breaker. A big brawl broke out. Orton hit another back breaker and was setting up for the RKO when Alex Riley and Miz hit the ring. Riley hit Orton with the briefcase and Miz hit the skull crushing finale on Orton. Barrett then pinned Orton for the win.

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed this show. I thought the comedy was very good and the wrestling good as well.

Monday, November 01, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 11/01/10 from Long Island, NY.

The Big News: When John Cena ends his wrestling career, he might want to look into another line of work than refereeing.

Show Analysis:

Randy Orton came out to start the show. He said that he doesn’t think anyone can take the title from him. However, he can accept a legitimate loss but not a loss caused by a crooked referee. He called out John Cena to tell him if he is going to be screwed. Cena joined Orton and said that titles come and go but that he can be fired at Survivor Series. Cena said he doesn’t know what he will do. Orton thought this was Cena’s way of saying he will screw Orton. Cena said Wade Barrett may have enough skill to compete straight up with Orton but he won’t do it.

That brought out Nexus. Wade Barrett told Cena that he will do what Barrett says and raise Barrett’s hand. Cena vowed to beat the hell out of Barrett when this is over. Orton called Barrett a scared, pathetic child who stands behind others. He challenged Barrett to fight him one-on-one. Barrett started towards the ring when the anonymous GM announced Orton and a partner of his choice versus Barrett and a partner of his choice with Cena as referee for later in the show. This was a good opening segment.

Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater beat Hart Dynasty. Dynasty teased dissension on the way to the ring and throughout the match. David Hart Smith hit a delayed vertical suplex on Slater. Nexus took over on Smith until Smith hit a powerslam and tagged Tyson Kidd. A brawl broke out. Kidd accidentally hit Smith with a somersault plancha. If you’re thinking that’s a hard spot to pull off without looking contrived, well, you’re right. Gabriel hit a superkick and 450 on Kidd for the pin.

Dynasty argued afterwards with neither coming off as likeable. This breakup has been really poorly done and both guys are going to come out of it ice cold if they don’t quickly make some changes. Backstage, R. Truth met with John Cena. Truth wanted to know what Cena will do at Survivor Series. Cena couldn’t answer.

Sheamus beat Vladimir Kozlov. Sheamus before the match said Santino didn’t beat him, he beat himself. Sheamus called the win a fluke and vowed to make Santino pay. A nervous Santino came out. He said that he respects Sheamus as a human being. He said he went trick or treating as Sheamus but everyone thought he was a ghost. That was a cute line. Santino claimed to not be able to wrestle Sheamus because he ate too much candy for Halloween and would throw up during the match. He then introduced Kozlov as his replacement. Kozlov said that Sheamus talks funny and threatened to crush him.

Sheamus worked over Kozlov briefly. Kozlov hid head butts and a kick but Sheamus got his foot on the ropes. Sheamus then hit the ax handle and Brogue kick for the win. Santino came in the ring from behind after the match but Sheamus stepped on his hand. Sheamus then chased after Santino.

Santino first begged for mercy. Then he offered candy. Sheamus wasn’t having it, so he proceeded to offer money. However, he only had singles. He offered a credit card but noted there wasn’t much money on it because he is rebuilding his credit. He then offered to write Sheamus a check and asked how to spell Sheamus. Sheamus seemed legitimately amused as hell by all this. Finally Sheamus was going for the razor’s edge on the stage but John Morrison made the save. Santino then threw a huge celebration.

I loved this segment. I thought it was really funny throughout. I like the role reversal with the undercard comedy face playing the traditional role of the cowardly chickenshit making excuses not to fight and getting someone else to fight his battles. It obviously would be counterproductive with most anyone else on the roster but Santino made it work really well.

Backstage, Truth told Orton that he spoke with Cena and didn’t like what he saw. He said he thinks Cena has made up his mind and won’t let himself get fired. Orton suggested Truth be his tag team partner. Orton noted he hasn’t gotten along with Cena but that Truth is his friend so we’ll see how he treats Truth. Some friend Truth is, snitching Cena out and passing judgment on him. Let’s just say with Truth’s tendencies he’s better off collaborating with 50 Cent than Cam’Ron.

Mark Henry and Pee Wee Herman backstage were speaking to each other on cell phones despite standing next to each other. Henry was sad about losing his tag partner Evan Bourne. Henry wanted Herman to be his tag partner and they hugged. Herman then suggested a game of diva twister. For some reason he just moved the spinner where he wanted it rather than spinning. Henry didn’t seem to know his left hand from his right hand. Herman then promised surprises and Lita came in randomly. That was the last we saw of her. She acted like a face. This was a weird segment.

Ezekiel Jackson beat Zack Ryder. Jackson seems to be a face now although the crowd wasn’t sure how to react to him. Jackson hit clotheslines, a gorilla press and a uranage for the pin.

Pee Wee Herman came out to a mixed reaction. He did a bunch of spots from Pee Wee’s Playhouse. I only vaguely remember that show from when I was a kid so most of it beyond the secret word went over my head. After reading the Wiki page I figured out what they were doing. The crowd wasn’t into it at all. Miz came out and argued with Herman. Herman eventually brought out Big Show to protect him and the GM made Miz vs. Show. We’re back to random Raw vs. Smackdown matches every week.

Big Show beat Miz via DQ. Show was in control early. He missed a Vader bomb and Miz hit three double ax handles off the ropes. Show went for the choke slam but Alex Riley got on the apron. Show threw Miz into Riley. The briefcase fell and Miz hit Show with it for the DQ. I loved heel Michael Cole for a while but the novelty has worn off and it is becoming very distracting.

Backstage, Wade Barrett wanted John Cena to clean his locker room after the show and scrub his back after Barrett won. Barrett left and David Otunga came in. Otunga said Cena would be scrubbing his back not Barrett’s. Kinky. Otunga said he has more talent than anyone in Nexus and more than Cena. I’m not so sure about that one.

Daniel Bryan beat Ted DiBiase. There were pretty loud chants for Bryan, which is an encouraging sign. DiBiase used punches and kicks. Bryan went for a series of pin attempts. He followed with kicks and the LeBell lock for the submission. They kept showing Maryse throughout the match. She looked bored and then aggravated. After the match DiBiase told her to shut up and threatened to break up Goldust’s wedding tomorrow on NXT.

Natalya beat Michelle McCool. Lay Cool came out and said they need a fresh start with the people. They made fun of Natalya but said that if Natalya could beat Michelle they would give her another shot at the title at Survivor Series. Michelle used a leg scissors and northern lights suplex. Natalya sent Layla into Michelle, Michelle accidentally kicked Layla, and Natalya covered for the win.

Next up came a wacky skit. Freddie Prinze was a doctor and went to check on Vince McMahon, who was in a coma. He said that Linda had been coming in every day to check on Vince despite spending $50 million on her Senatorial campaign. Vince’s heart started beating faster and he popped up shocked and furious about the 50 million dollars. There were Linda campaign stickers all over the front of Vince’s gown.

Vince said that as long as everything is okay in WWE, he will be fine. Prinze pointed out ratings are down, PPVs are collapsing and all the stars are leaving or getting injured. Okay, he actually just said Nexus is stronger than ever, Undertaker was buried and Raw was taken over by Pee Wee Herman. He has interesting priorities. Vince responded, “The next thing you’ll tell me Daniel Bryan is US champion.”

Vince got up and said that if Linda ran for Senate, he can run for president. Run, sure. Vince then had to go to the bathroom and there was a Blumenthal campaign ad covering up his ass. Stephanie McMahon then woke up and said she had the weirdest dream. HHH’s voice confirmed that Vince is still in a coma. Usually I don’t like this type of WWE comedy skit, but I thought this was fine.

Randy Orton and R. Truth beat Wade Barrett and David Otunga. The match went back and forth early. Nexus eventually settled into beating up Truth. Orton got the tag but Cena was distracted by Otunga and wouldn’t allow the tag. Moments later, Orton distracted Cena so Cena didn’t see a tag Otunga made to Barrett. Orton then gave Otunga the RKO and Truth covered for the pin. This was a clever finish even if it did kind of make Cena look incompetent.

Final Thoughts:

This show was fine. It was certainly better than recent weeks. The wrestling wasn’t much to speak of but the booking and comedy was much improved. The way WWE is booked these days, whether the comedy hits or misses really does make a big difference.