Monday, December 20, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 12/20/10 from Austin, TX.

The Big News: Raw was a light hearted and wrestling heavy show Christmas week.

Show Analysis:

The show began with a Christmas Carol theme. Miz came out and gloated about retaining his title. Alex Riley joined him as the Ghost of Christmas Past. He showed video of the Jerry Lawler/Miz ending and tried to show Miz the error of his ways. Miz said he doesn’t regret that. Michael Cole was next out as the Ghost of Christmas Present. He told Miz that he needs to change and that he should be ashamed of the Randy Orton match. Miz responded that what is important is whether he retained the title.

Finally, we got the Ghost of Christmas Future, which was a picture of Miz girl with moving lips. She said Miz needs to change his ways or Morrison will beat him. Miz said he is the future. John Morrison came out and said this was stupid even for the Miz. Morrison vowed to win the title and beat up Alex Riley. Sheamus ran out and took out Morrison. Lawler punched Riley at ringside. The GM then announced Miz, Riley and Sheamus vs. Orton, Lawler and Morrison for the main event. Orton attacked Miz on the stage. This was a stupid segment.

Melina beat Alicia Fox and Eve Torres to be crowned number 1 contender for the women’s title. Natalya did commentary. Alicia hit a power bomb on Melina. Eve used a clothesline and standing moonsault on Alicia. The finish saw Melina on Alicia’s shoulders as Eve went for a crossbody off the top. However, Melina rolled through with a victory roll on Alicia for the pin.

Melina was smiling after the match but then Natalya went to shake her hand. Melina slapped Natalya in the face and left with a scowl. There is this emerging trend that turns seem booked more to be surprising in timing than to be effective in getting over the turn. It’s a terrible trend and Melina has about as much momentum coming out of this as Hart Dynasty did coming out of their split.

Daniel Bryan beat William Regal. They actually gave them time, which made me very happy. The Bellas accompanied Bryan to the ring. They acknowledged that Regal trained Regal. They started with chain wrestling. Bryan hit a series of stiff kicks. Regal retaliated with elbows and knees. They traded European uppercuts.

Regal went for the Regal stretch but Bryan escaped. Regal went for a butterfly suplex but Bryan avoided that and applied the LeBell lock for the tap. Regal applauded Bryan afterwards and the Bellas took turns kissing a confused Bryan. Regal appears to have slowed down as a wrestler but this was still a lot of fun.

Backstage, Orton told Morrison that if Morrison beats Miz, Orton will be coming for him. Morrison replied that he will be ready. Elsewhere, Tamina was standing on Santino’s back giving him a massage. Maryse came in and stood on Santino’s back to argue with Tamina. Then we saw Mark Henry and Gail Kim discussing how happy they were that Nexus wasn’t at the show. Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler walked by and they didn’t feel all that great any more.

Santino Marella and Tamina beat Ted DiBiase and Maryse. Santino was selling back pain throughout this match. Santino was running wild on DiBiase and set up for the cobra. Maryse came in, turned around the cobra, and used it on Santino. Tamina then came in and gave Maryse a superkick and the Superfly splash for the win. She carried Santino up the stage as Santino blew his trumpet and sold his back. I enjoyed this segment.

Backstage, some dude gave John Cena flowers. He immediately gave them away to a production girl. Yeah, I’m not sure either.

John Cena came out in a jovial mood. He hugged a guy in a “We hate Cena” t-shirt at ringside. He celebrated Nexus being gone. He showed a bunch of angles of chairs falling on wood at TLC. He said that now he can focus on winning the Royal Rumble and regaining the title at WrestleMania.

Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler came out to nuclear heat. The fans kept exploding in boos whenever Vickie tried to talk. She eventually said that Cena wasn’t the only one who won at TLC and that Ziggler retained his title. Vickie then demanded an apology from Lawler for his jokes about her weight. Lawler and Cena traded fat jokes about Vickie back and forth. Vickie slapped Cena. Finally, the GM made Cena vs. Ziggler. The crowd made this segment.

John Cena beat Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler worked over Cena. Cena came back with shoulder blocks, the Cena slam and the five knuckle. Ziggler avoided the FU and applied a sleeper but Cena reversed into the STF. Ziggler tapped but Vickie had the referee distracted. Ziggler then hit the famouser for two. Ziggler removed a turnbuckle and went to hit Cena with the belt as the referee attended to the turnbuckle. However, Cena avoided the belt and hit the FU for the win.

After the match, CM Punk went into the ring and hit Cena with a chair. Cena got up quickly and was angry. Backstage, Punk explained that he gave Cena a dose of his own medicine. This was a weird start to a feud with the heel making such a tame and ineffectual attack, but I’m all for a Punk-Cena feud.

Backstage, Sheamus told Jerry Lawler that there is room for only one king. Lawler said they have been calling him King since 1974. Sheamus said the king is dead, long live the king. Elsewhere, Vickie Guerrero was angry at Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler challenged Cena to a rematch on Smackdown. Vickie made it a handicap match with Cena against Ziggler and Vickie.

Randy Orton, Jerry Lawler and John Morrison beat Miz, Alex Riley and Sheamus. The heels worked over Morrison, concentrating on his left leg. Morrison eventually tagged Orton. Orton hit clotheslines a powerslam, an Angle slam and a draping DDT on Miz. Sheamus broke up the pin attempt. Morrison took out Sheamus to the outside. Orton went for the RKO on Miz but Riley came in and got the RKO instead.

Lawler tagged in and hit some punches on Miz. Miz went for the skull crushing finale but Orton came in with an RKO on Miz and Lawler covered Miz for the victory. This was a good main event. The booking was a little strange with the next title challenger almost the third man in the match for the faces, but they still have plenty of time to set up Miz-Morrison at the Rumble and it’s not like that’s a money match anyway. After the match, the GM announced Miz vs. Orton for Smackdown. So they really want to pop a rating on Smackdown tomorrow for whatever reason.

Final Thoughts:

This was a good show.

Monday, December 13, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 12/13/10 from New Orleans, LA.

The Big News: WWE set a record with the longest Raw in history, 18 hours by my unofficial tally.

Show Analysis:

Michael Cole, CM Punk and Jerry Lawler were back as the commentary team.

David Arquette presented the first Slammy Award. He was introduced as former WCW champion and was playing heel. It appeared he was trying to be purposefully bad, but it was the wrong kind of bad. The debut of Nexus won Shocker of the Year. Wade Barrett said that Nexus would never have become so powerful without him. Barrett said he hadn’t made up his mind on what to do with Cena but that he would do so by the end of the show.

Big Show beat Wade Barrett via count out. The GM made this match after Barrett won his award. This was a terrible match with an abysmal finish. It was a complete waste of time that could have been better spent in just about any conceivable way. Barrett stalled for a while. He then poked Show in the eye. He punched and kicked Show for a little while. Then Show punched and kicked him a little. Finally, Barrett grabbed his Slammy and left. Just incomprehensible.

Kelly Kelly and Tyson Kidd presented the next award. They traded insults that sounded so completely scripted in delivery. Kidd introduced Jackson Andrews as his bodyguard. CM Punk won the “Despicable Me” Award. He celebrated with Michael Cole and is heel this week after siding with Lawler the past two weeks. Punk vowed revenge on someone but didn’t mention who. Watch out, Raven. Punk then left backstage rather than commentate the next match.

Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan beat Ted DiBiase and Dolph Ziggler. Bryan was accompanied to the ring by the Bellas again. The match was fine but wasn’t given much time. The heels worked over Bryan. Kingston tagged in and hit the boom drop and trouble in paradise on Ziggler for the pin. The finish seemed abrupt and DiBiase tried to break up the pin but was slightly late. I think DiBiase was supposed to break up the pin but the referee just had to count three when he didn’t get there in time.

Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov presented the next award. Santino referenced Kozlov being humiliated by the cast of MacGruber. That angered Kozlov so Marella tried to assuage his anger. Pee Wee Herman won guest star shining moment of the year. He accepted the award on video with a thank you speech that seemed to last ten minutes. They cut to the audience twice, with the audience looking completely disinterested.

Backstage, David Otunga wanted Wade Barrett to make his decision. He made fun of Barrett for not doing well against Big Show. Barrett thanked Otunga for helping him decide what to do. This seemed to be a tease for Barrett turning on Otunga later.

Cody Rhodes beat Mark Henry in a short match. Rhodes was in control early with a sleeper. Henry hit some clotheslines but missed a corner avalanche. Rhodes hit a springboard kick and knee drop to the shoulder off the second rope for the win.

Jerry Lawler and Vickie Guerrero presented the Holy Shit Award. They went out of their way to emphasize they couldn’t use that dreaded scourge of civil society: the word shit. Shit, it’s not like anyone gives a fuck about mild profanity on cable TV in 2010. Lawler and Guerrero traded insults. John Cena won the award for his FU of Batista through a gimmicked stage.

Wade Barrett took the award and said that if Cena wanted it he could come and get it. He told Cena to come down to hear his decision. Nexus then joined Cena and Barrett. Barrett rehired Cena on two conditions: Cena would wrestle Barrett Sunday in a chairs match and Cena would wrestle Otunga on Raw. I’m so glad Cena is back. I sure missed him while he was fired. And look, just in time for the very next PPV. Nexus beat up Cena and Barrett hit him with a chair twice.

David Arquette came out again and was again really irritating in the wrong way. He presented the fan reaction of the year award, which of course went to the Miz girl. She got a big face pop when they showed her. She then showed up in person to accept the award. She started to give a speech but Miz interrupted and took the award from her. The girl gave him a dirty look and left. Miz then went to the ring to badmouth Randy Orton. The GM announced both Miz and Orton would face former champions on the show.

Miz beat Rey Mysterio. I figured they would give these guys some time, but they didn’t. Alberto Del Rio showed up. Rey hit a senton off the top and springboard crossbody on Miz but Del Rio prevented him from hitting the 619. Rey sent Miz into Del Rio and rolled up Miz for two. He went for 619 again but Alex Riley distracted the referee and Del Rio tripped Rey. Miz covered for the pin. The recent booking of this Rey/Del Rio feud is terrible, a constant stream of interference and distraction BS finishes.

The GM announced Alex Riley and David Arquette vs. Randy Orton for later in the show.

Edge and Christian (with his arm in a sling) presented the award for meltdown of the year. Edge won and then acted like he was having another meltdown about winning.

Sheamus and John Morrison were supposed to have a match, but they just brawled and were both disqualified. That’s just what the show needed at this point. Sheamus still had his goofy costume. The GM announced Sheamus vs. Morrison in a number one contender ladder match for Sunday. Sheamus then threw Morrison over the top rope onto the ladder. That was a very cool looking spot.

JTG and William Regal presented the knucklehead moment of the year. I haven’t seen poor JTG in ages and he blew the award announcement. He said Lay Cool won for beating Mae Young, when Young beat Lay Cool. Lay Cool came out to celebrate and made fun of Young.

Michelle McCool won a battle royal over Layla, Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Maryse, the Bella twins, Rosa Mendes, Alicia Fox, Melina, Kaitlyn, Tamina, Gail Kim, Beth Phoenix and Natalya to be crowned diva of the year. I don’t know about determining a yearly award on the basis of one match that everyone qualifies for, but there were bigger fish to fry on this show.

Everyone went after Lay Cool to start. Tamina dumped Kaitlyn and Rosa, but the Bellas threw out Tamina. There were then a bunch of rapid fire eliminations. At the end, Beth threw out Melina and Layla. Layla helped Michelle get rid of Beth. Natalya threw out Gail and Alicia together, but Michelle sent out Natalya to win.

The GM announced Lay Cool vs. Natalya and Beth Phoenix for Sunday in a tag team tables match. They’re perhaps going overboard with stipulations that mean nothing. And I don’t know that I want to see one tables match a year, let alone two on the same night.

Edge beat Jack Swagger in a good short match. They announced Swagger vs. Kingston vs. Ziggler in a triple threat ladder match for the Intercontinental title Sunday. Swagger worked over Edge. Swagger went for the Vader bomb but Edge got his feet up. Swagger landed on his feet and went for the ankle lock. Edge got out and hit the implant DDT. He followed with the spear for the pin.

Backstage, Alex Riley was upset about having to team up with David Arquette. Arquette was enthusiastic. Miz said that it would be nice for Riley to win but that his goal is to put Orton through a table.

Big Show presented the award for moment of the year to Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels. Michaels accepted the award on the screen. He said that he was at an undisclosed location because if WWE knew where he was they would try to get him to come back. Michaels said he misses the fans and hopes to see them some time down the road.

Randy Orton beat Alex Riley and David Arquette. Orton beat up Riley. Arquette came in but Orton went to give him an RKO so he tagged back out. Riley took over with punches on Orton and Arquette choked Orton behind the referee’s back. Orton came back with clotheslines, a powerslam, and an Angle slam on Riley. He then hit the RKO for the pin. Miz hit Orton with the briefcase after the match. Miz and Arquette went to suplex Orton through the table but Orton got out. Orton went to throw Miz through the table but Arquette made the save. So Orton gave Arquette a power bomb through the table.

Michael Cole presented the “And I Quote” line of the year award to himself. He then started to give an insincere acceptance speech. They played music to cut him off. This was amusing, although I do wish he would have kept going and going as the music played.

Teddy Long presented the Wrestler of the Year award to John Cena. “I’m back,” he said. Yes, back. He said that it was amazing he won the award given he didn’t have a job until an hour ago. Cena said that he said he would leave the company and he did. Now he’s back and he will continue to be a man of his word. Seriously, this is what they scripted him to say. He said that he has gotten to every member of Nexus but two: Barrett and Otunga. I guess pinning Otunga clean in a singles match on Raw a few weeks ago doesn’t count. He told jokes and then gave his word that he will destroy Barrett Sunday. They are booking and scripting Cena to be an obnoxious, insincere liar.

John Cena beat David Otunga. Nexus abandoned Otunga. Cena got the STF for the tap in a hurry. Cena hit Otunga with a chair repeatedly after the match while Otunga called for help from Barrett. Barrett stayed on the stage and watched as Cena vowed to take him out Sunday.

Final Thoughts:

This wasn’t as counterproductive as some editions of Raw are, but for entertainment this was pretty close to rock bottom. The Slammy Awards just aren’t very interesting and it feels like over the years it has become more about WWE writers congratulating themselves for “clever” and goofy ideas than actually rewarding performers for memorable performances that fans enjoyed. They also seemed particularly desperate to cover up any hint that they are a wrestling show.

Aside from the Slammy gimmick, the show itself was terrible. The wrestling was bad, the finishes were atrocious, the promos weren’t good, and the pay-per-view build was uninspiring. Besides all that, the show was flatly boring and felt like it went on forever.

Monday, December 06, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 12/06/10 from Louisville, KY.

The Big News: John Cena has discovered that being fired from WWE is actually a pretty good gig.

Show Analysis:

Jerry Lawler and CM Punk were at the announce table to start the show. Lawler was serenaded with very loud chants of “Jerry.” Obviously the angle last week got over big. Michael Cole then came out to the ring. Cole said he didn’t know why he interfered in Lawler’s match. Cole said he had a traumatic week with a bunch of hate mail but that he will not apologize for the way he feels about the Miz. That was an amusing line. Cole said he always supported Miz and Miz winning the title was like his own son winning the title. Cole claimed to have gotten caught up in the emotion of the moment and said he regrets that.

Lawler threatened to go in the ring and finish what he started last week. Cole suggested they talk like adults and said Lawler was as much to blame for last week as he was. He pointed out Lawler is supposed to be a broadcast journalist, covering the news rather than making it. Cole accused Lawler of not letting Miz have his moment. Cole concluded that he doesn’t owe Lawler an apology but rather Lawler owes him an apology. Lawler said he would go in the ring and give Cole what he owes him.

A GM e-mail came in. CM Punk went to read it and got “CM Punk” chants. Punk is acting like a face in a lot of ways as an announcer. The GM basically said that if Cole or Lawler attacks the other the offending party will be fired. The GM then told Lawler to go in the ring and shake hands with Cole. Lawler did it, but then held Cole’s hand and said someone wanted to speak with him.

Randy Orton came out. Orton said that he doesn’t blame Miz for cashing in MITB because Orton would have done the same thing. He told Cole to keep rooting for Miz because he will take back the title. Miz came out and said he won’t have to defend the title against Orton until TLC. Orton said that Miz won’t have seven guys to beat him up before the match this time. Alex Riley challenged Orton to a match and Orton accepted. Miz then said he will pick their match at TLC. Orton said even with an injured knee he can still do one thing well. He gave Michael Cole the RKO.

This was a dramatic segment and the interplay between Lawler and Cole worked very well. Lawler again carried himself great. Breaking up Lawler and Cole for at least one week was a smart move. Josh Mathews came out to commentate with Punk and Lawler for the rest of the show.

Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella beat Ted DiBiase and Maurice. Nikki Bella was jealous that Brie got to team with Bryan but came out to support them anyway. This was a very short match with the Bella switch finish. Afterwards, DiBiase yelled at Maurice until she stuck her hand in his face and walked away.

Wade Barrett was scheduled to do a satellite interview from a hotel room but he left for the arena so David Otunga was there himself. Otunga alone in his room said he doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with Barrett but that they have a strategy and just have to stick together to death with John Cena.

There was a knock on the door. It was room service, but then when room service left there was immediately another knock at the door and it was Cena. Cena attacked Otunga. Husky Harris came out of nowhere and Cena beat him up while Otunga ran away. I think the idea was that Nexus set up a trap for Cena, but the announcers didn’t really explain that.

Tyson Kidd beat David Hart Smith. Jackson Andrews came out as Kidd’s bodyguard but wasn’t identified. He’s a very tall man who looks a lot like Kurrgan. Smith dominated the quick match. He hit a really nice delayed superplex. Kidd then just rolled him up for the clean pin without involvement from Andrews. Smith attacked Kidd after the match but Andrews destroyed him.

Backstage, Wade Barrett met with Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater. Slater and Gabriel were concerned about Cena. Barrett said things would be okay. Otunga came in and said that Barrett’s plan didn’t work. Barrett said the problem was the execution of the plan. Otunga hinted there might be a mutiny if things don’t improve.

Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov beat Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel, Yoshi Tatsu & Mark Henry and the Usos to win the tag titles. The Usos worked over Tatsu but Slater tagged in and basically stole the pin. The Usos hit a combination back drop/Samoan drop on Slater but Gabriel broke up the pin. Kozlov hit a choke slam to eliminate the Usos. Tamina stayed to watch the end of the match.

Nexus worked over Kozlov, then worked over Santino, then worked over Kozlov some more. Finally, Santino came in with a head butt and stunner on Gabriel. At that point, Cena came out from under the ring. So apparently Cena beat up Husky Harris in a hotel, drove back to the arena and snuck under the ring in the space of 25 minutes during a live show without anyone noticing. That’s a hell of a trick. He was all smiling and happy after crying two weeks ago about the end of his career. Santino used the distraction from Cena and hit the cobra on Gabriel for the pin. Tamina and Santino kissed.

Sheamus came out in an outfit that can only be described as preposterous. He looks like a comedy goofball and cut a cheesy promo running down “peasants.” He said that he ended the career of the King of Kings HHH and that his reign will last forever. They need to tone down this thing about 30 notches before they turn Sheamus into a midcard comedy figure.

John Morrison came out to try to make fun of Sheamus. He failed in the attempt, which was amazing given the material he had to work with. Morrison couldn’t get a single good line in and nobody was laughing. Sheamus said Morrison is jealous of him. Morrison claimed he is the better man. Sheamus ordered Morrison to bow to him. Morrison attacked him instead. Morrison beat Sheamus up and threw him into the throne.

Natalya beat Melina. Lay Cool did commentary, so the one week ban on brand mixing is apparently over. They explained that Michael Cole invited them. The match was very short with Natalya winning with the sharpshooter (really, it looks more like a Texas cloverleaf many weeks). Melina held on for a bit and then tapped. Lay Cool attacked Natalya after the match. They spotlighted Melina leaving as this happened, which seemed to be the first tease of a heel turn.

Backstage, Miz said that Alex Riley would be representing him. Miz claimed that his winning the title will be a turning point for WWE. Well, hopefully, but what does that say about the recent direction of the company? Miz told Riley he needed to take out Orton. Riley said he would. Miz then said he would show Orton what type of match they’re having at TLC. I’m guessing tables; ladders; chairs; or tables, ladders and chairs.

Randy Orton beat Alex Riley via DQ in another very short match. Orton was in control when Miz ran in and gave Orton the skull crushing finale. He then brought a table into the ring, so apparently his match with Orton is a tables match. To me, just stick with the TLC main event for TLC. Tables matches are significantly less interesting both in build and in execution than a regular singles match. Orton tried to put Miz through the table but Miz left.

Wade Barrett came out for the final segment of the show. He said that he got it wrong, that he thought John Cena was a man of his word. The stipulation was free or fired and he was fired, but he just shows up at will. Barrett said that if Cena had an ounce of honor or integrity he wouldn’t show up. Barrett’s right, you know. He said he is the only one who can rehire Cena.

John Cena came to the ring. Nexus except for Michael McGillicutty appeared on stage. Barrett said he will never rehire Cena. I was wondering why Cena would even care. And Cena then said the same thing. He told a bunch of obnoxious jokes. He said being fired isn’t that bad. He just comes to all the shows and screws with Nexus. He said he is content with the current situation.

Barrett wanted to know if he rehires Cena whether Cena will keep attacking. Cena said he may stop attacking Nexus but won’t stop attacking Barrett. He vowed to get Barrett either way and make his life a nightmare. What did Barrett even do to Cena? Make him get coffee? Cena’s the one who cost Barrett the title. Cena’s the one who is attacking Barrett’s friends every week. Cena’s the one who flagrantly ignores the stipulation he was supposed to be held to. Cena’s the disingenuous prick who cries about having to abide by that stipulation one week and then laughs about not honoring his word the next. Poor Barrett really is the face here. Shame on John Cena.

Barrett ordered Nexus to come get Cena but they all left. Cena attacked Barrett and went to give him an FU through the announce table but Barrett ran away. Barrett confronted Otunga backstage. Otunga told Barrett to either hire Cena back next week or Barrett will be out of Nexus. Barrett pondered his next move as the fired man’s music played throughout the arena.

Final Thoughts:

I really liked the start of Raw. Much of the rest of the show I thought was okay, but the strong lack of wrestling was a negative. And I absolutely hate the Cena storyline.