Smackdown – March 14, 2017

Smackdown
Date: March 14, 2017
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Commentators: John Bradshaw Layfield, Tom Phillips

We’ve got three Smackdowns left before Wrestlemania and now we have a #1 contender to Bray Wyatt’s Smackdown World Title. However, that means we have issues between Commissioner Shane McMahon and AJ Styles and there’s an official confrontation scheduled for tonight. Let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – November 22, 2016

Smackdown
Date: November 22, 2016
Location: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga, Tom Phillips

It’s two days after Survivor Series and less than two weeks to Tables, Ladders and Chairs, meaning it’s time to make up a card. Thankfully Smackdown is ready for that and has already announced a tag team turmoil match to determine who will challenge Rhyno and Heath Slater. Let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – November 1, 2016

Smackdown
Date: November 1, 2016
Location: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga

Survivor Series is coming up soon and Raw has announced a lot of the participants on its teams for the promotion vs. promotion matches. As luck would have it, tonight we’ll be getting most of the announcements for the Smackdown counterparts with the help of General Manager Daniel Bryan. Let’s get to it.

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New E-Book: KB’s Complete 2014 Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Reviews Part I

raw-2014-part-i
 

A comprehensive look back at every episode of WWE Monday Night Raw and Smackdown from the first half of 2014, starting at the beginning of January and wrapping up at the end of April. This is a very interesting time in WWE history as we witnessed the rise of Daniel Bryan and the Shield as the new generation was taking the company by storm. The first part of the year culminated in the huge Wrestlemania XXX and was followed by a game changing fallout. In this book, every episode of both shows in the first half of 2014 is reviewed in full, complete with analysis, ratings and complete content included.

The book sells for $3.99 or the equivalent in other currencies. In case you don’t have a Kindle, there are plenty of FREE apps you can get from Amazon for pretty much any electronic device, all of which are available at this link.

You can pick up the book from Amazon here.

From the UK Amazon here.

From the Canadian Amazon here.

Or if you’re in another country with its own Amazon page, just search “KB Raw 2014” and it should be the first thing to come up.

I hope you like it and shoot me any questions you might have.

Thomas Hall

Smackdown – September 13, 2016

Smackdown
Date: September 13, 2016
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: John Bradshaw Layfield, Mauro Ranallo, David Otunga

Backlash has come and gone and a few things have changed. In addition to having inaugural Smackdown Tag Team Champions (Heath Slater/Rhyno) and an inaugural Smackdown Women’s Champion (Becky Lynch), AJ Styles has finally won the big one and become Smackdown World Champion. No Mercy is in less than a month and tonight we start dealing with all these new developments. Let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – September 6, 2016

Smackdown
Date: September 6, 2016
Location: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga

I’m not sure how but we’re already at the go home show for Backlash. At this point there are five announced matches (assuming you count a tournament final as an announced match) which means we’re going to get a lot more stuff announced tonight or Sunday’s matches are going to be very long. Let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – August 23, 2016

Smackdown
Date: August 23, 2016
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga

It’s an interesting time for Smackdown as we’re past Summerslam and the brand is really starting to come into its own. Tonight we’ll see the unveiling of the new Smackdown Women’s and Tag Team Titles but possibly more importantly we should get an update on Brock Lesnar attacking Shane McMahon to end Summerslam. Let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – July 26, 2016

Smackdown
Date: July 26, 2016
Location: First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York
Commentators: David Otunga, Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield

We’re into the new era of Smackdown now and it should be interesting to see where they go now that they’re all on their own. Given who they have on the roster, there’s a chance we’ll have to get some new titles or at the very least some new stars to challenge for the titles that already exist. Let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – July 19, 2016

Smackdown
Date: July 19, 2016
Location: DCU Center, Worcester, Massachusetts
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler

Now this is a big one. Tonight we’re not only going live but also splitting the shows into two rosters again for the first time in a few years. There’s only been one other draft like this in company history and it wasn’t the greatest show in the world. The interesting things here tonight are the potential returns of former stars as well as the guaranteed NXT callups. Oh and a rematch from last night’s World Title match as a bonus. Let’s get to it.

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The SmarK RAW Rant–02.10.14

The SmarK RAW Rant – 02.10.14 Live from Los Angeles, CA Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler Betty White joins us to start, showing that Vince still has his finger on the pulse of America’s youth. This quickly leads into the usual Authority interview to start, as they’re RECONSIDERING other people as the Face Of The WWE. Is that like the new replacement for the dead World title now? Stephanie is wearing white so I guess they’re the babyfaces this week. Randy Orton comes out to protest as usual as we repeat the same skit it feels like we’ve seen for months. This “Face of the WWE” storyline is so stupid. Daniel Bryan now comes out and reminds us that he beat Orton last week, and he wants a match with Kane tonight. Sadly, Kane is on leave for a week and has a strongly worded letter coming to him. And HHH gives Bryan the week off as well. Wow, that was a thrilling open to the show. The Wyatt Family v. Cody Rhodes, Goldust & Rey Mysterio Rowan pounds on Goldust, but he comes back on Harper with a rana! Harper bails and Cody tosses Rey onto him in a cool spot as we take a break. Back with Goldust getting the heat, but he powerslams Harper and makes the hot tag to Rey. He runs wild with a tornado DDT for two and the 619, but Bray trips him up. Cody hits Bray with a dive and Goldust hits Rowan with one, but Bray catches Rey with a running Sister Abagail to finish at 8:35. I feel like a LOT was cut out of this match, as they came back from the break really late into Goldust’s heat segment. Hot match, though, as Goldust continues to be ridiculously motivated. *** Let us take you back to Royal Rumble, where Roman Reigns kicks everyone’s ass and sets the new record for eliminations. The Shield has no fear of the Wyatt Family, but Roman seems to give Renee the funny feelings in her special place. Renee questions Ambrose on his lack of title defenses, and Roman tells him to get on that shit. Meanwhile, the New Age Outlaws rescue Betty White from the Divas, because there’s rumors of someone playing a prank on her. Whoever said that RAW without the matches would be the worst show on TV is so completely right. The Real Americans v. Christian & Sheamus The crowd actually starts doing the “We The People” chant as Cesaro throws Christian around. Swagger comes in and walks into the corner kick, and a missile dropkick gets two. Over to Sheamus, who puts Cesaro down with a clothesline for two. The babyfaces work on Cesaro while the crowd chants for the heels, and then Cesaro and Sheamus get into an awesome slugfest with the crowd cheering Cesaro the whole way. Sheamus actually seems pretty amused by it. Sheamus gets clobbered off the apron as we take a break. Back with Christian taking the beating and it’s a GIANT SWING to get Cesaro even more over. That gets two. Swagger with a powerslam for two. Christian is finally able to fight them off and make the hot tag to Sheamus, and the Regal Roll on Swagger gets two. Cesaro breaks up the Brogue Kick to a big pop, and Swagger puts Sheamus in the anklelock. Christian saves, and the Brogue Kick finishes poor Swagger at 13:01. Hot crowd + Good tag team wrestling = Happy Scott. ***1/2 As usual, you follow the formula and good things result. It’s the like the opposite of the Lego Movie’s lesson. Alberto Del Rio v. Dolph Ziggler What a change from a year ago. Ziggler gets a quick burst of offense and a fameasser for two, but Del Rio finishes him with the superkick at 1:30. We’re getting into Zack Ryder territory now. Stupid fans, thinking that cheering Ziggler will lead to anything. Don’t you know he works too fast and tweets the wrong things? Batista saves poor Ziggler and the crowd boos the shit out of him. Batista puts Del Rio through the table with a powerbomb to continue this feud that literally no one cares about. US title: Dean Ambrose v. Mark Henry Ambrose gets overpowered to start, as expected, and bumps around the ring for Henry. We take a break and return with Ambrose going up and getting slammed off. Powerslam and the Shield runs in for the DQ at 9:13. * The Wyatts come out for a confrontation, and wouldn’t you know that Reigns is the one to call their bluff. And the Wyatts walk away. It’s kind of amazing in that they seem to have forgotten how to make anyone a star, except for Reigns, who they are doing everything completely right with. So clearly they know how to, and just choose not to. Libertarian Kane joins us, still on TV despite getting a week off. And Daniel Bryan attacks, also on TV after getting a week off. Cole calls Kane “the so-called Big Red Corporate Sellout”. I have literally never heard anyone call him that. Bryan chases Kane off. Randy Orton v. John Cena Whereas last week the importance was the possibility of being considered the new face of the WWE, this week the importance is that both men are looking to build momentum towards the Elimination Chamber. Cena works a headlock and Orton bails. Sign in the crowd: “Batista and Orton have great tattoos”. See, the fanbase isn’t ALL negativity! Back in, Cena with a bulldog for two. Orton pounds him down and tosses him and we take a break. Back with Orton in control and they do a slugfest where, god bless them, THE CROWD BOOS BOTH GUYS. That was awesome. Orton tosses Cena again and continues having a snarky dialog with the crowd, and we hit the chinlock. Orton with a DDT for two. He stops to antagonize the crowd some more and Cena makes the comeback, but Orton gets the backbreaker for two. Cena tries the FU and Orton reverses to the powerslam for two. They fight to the top and Orton brings him down with a draping DDT and then yells about how he’s never done that before. Nice to see him having fun with it for a change. Cena blocks the RKO with an STF, but Orton makes the ropes. He POINTS TO SIGN to show he means business, but misses the punt and then comes back with the RKO for two. Cena gets the FU for two. Back to the top, and the guillotine and FU finish at 22:18. CENA HAS SUCCESSFULLY BUILT MOMENTUM! It was a match. ***1/4 The Pulse This was basically cut down to three good matches and a minimum of crap, which makes for a really good show, even if it’s not building to anything I care about. The Real Americans match was clearly the highlight and they should have been the tag champions ages ago, though.

The SmarK RAW Rant–02.03.14

The SmarK RAW Rant – 02.03.14 WWE Network in Canada update for those who have asked me: Unblock-US is currently taking the stance of “We’re looking into it, so shut up and leave us alone.” There is a LOT of demand from Canadian fans for it, however, and it seems likely that someone will support it and thus meet the demand, whether it’s Unblock or Playmo.TV or one of the other VPNs. I heartily recommend Unblock-US anyway because of Hulu and streaming shows off the US network websites, but whoever can guarantee support for the WWE Network will get my money without reservation. Live from Omaha, NB. Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler Randy Orton starts us out, and he’s still having problems with the Authority while the fans immediately try to hijack the show with CM Punk chants. Jesus, Punk quit, why are you chanting for him? It’s not like WWE fired him or anything. So anyway, HHH and Steph interrupt, and this week they’re arguing with Orton again and are losing faith in him, because that’s how they’re written this week. Orton will face each of his Chamber opponents leading up to the PPV, and at stake is the possibility that someone else might be considered as the new face of WWE. That’s HUGE STAKES. And we start with Orton v. Bryan tonight. The Shield v. Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio & Big E Langston JBL actually brings up a good point for once, with Cole going on again about how Ambrose has been US champion for months and months and then JBL countering that it’s easy to be champion for 14 years if you never defend it. Which is true, I think he’s literally had less than a dozen title defenses since May. The Shield works Kofi over, but Rey comes in and runs wild on Rollins for a bit before he too falls victim to the Shield in the form of a Hart Attack that gets two. And we take a break. Back with Ambrose holding a chinlock, but it’s hot tag Big E, the perfect hot tag guy. Warrior splash on Reigns gets two. It’s breaking loose in Tulsa, but Big E walks into the superman punch and Ambrose finishes E with the bulldog driver at 11:09. Pretty blah stuff for the Shield. ** Why are they still beating Langston all the time? Broken down Rey was RIGHT THERE. Or more importantly, why put the title on him in the first place if they had no plans for him? Bray Wyatt pops up with a promo to creep everyone out. ALEXANDER RUSEV is coming, thankfully with Lana in tow. Christian v. Jack Swagger Christian evades a blind charge and dumps Swagger, but Swagger gets a cheapshot outside and takes over. Back in, he tosses Christian with a hiptoss for two and goes to a submission hold, but goes up and misses. Christian comes back with the missile dropkick, but runs into a knee. Unprettier gets two, however, and he goes up and lands in an anklelock. Christian escapes that and goes up again, but Swagger brings him down and also misses, allowing Christian to roll him up for the pin at 6:00. So yes, it’s the LOSING STREAK gimmick for Swagger leading to another team breaking up. Call your friends and tell them to start watching right now! *1/2 Cage Match, WWE tag titles: The New Age Outlaws v. Cody Rhodes & Goldust Thankfully they’ve dropped the escape rule for the tag team version of the cage match, because it was stupid anyway. Apparently this feud has been heated up by “interesting back and forth on social media, including one Tweet where Cody made fun of the Outlaws for their age!” TAKE ALL MY MONEY NOW! Road Dogg gets nowhere with Cody to start, and Gunn slugs it out with Goldust before Cody comes in with a small package for two. The Outlaws work Cody over in boring fashion while the crowd chants for Punk. Probably because they’re as bored as the announcers by this. Road Dogg and Goldust randomly trade armbars with absolutely nothing going on as the announcers posit that fans are so quiet because both teams are incredibly popular and thus fans don’t know who to cheer for. So are the Outlaws supposed to be faces or heels? I’m really at a loss here. Either way, this “CM Punk” guy seems to be the most over person in the match. So this drags on AND ON and finally Goldust hits a spinebuster on Dogg and makes the hot tag to Cody, allowing the faces to run wild. Disaster kick gets two on Billy, pissing off the crowd. And then Cody goes up to the top of the cage, totally whiffs on a moonsault that barely grazes Road Dogg’s arm, and Billy sneaks in with a fameasser to retain at 17:38 to kill the crowd again. -* This was AWFUL and completely exposed the Outlaws in every way, from the total lack of heat to everyone stumbling through the main portion of the match to Road Dogg being out of place completely for the big moonsault spot and nearly killing poor Cody as a result. Oh yeah, negative stars, I WENT THERE. This feud is rapidly eroding any heat that Cody and Goldust ever had and I still don’t know what the endgame is supposed to be. They break up another tag team and have a feud that no one wants to see with Cody becoming a midcard heel again? Because that seems to be where we’re ending up. Batista is out for some reason, and Alberto Del Rio is still UPSET with him. Batista laughs him off, so Del Rio attacks and they do some macho posturing as Batista is now also upset. You know, it would be nice if Del Rio would just add something like “I would also like that title shot and don’t think you should have won it” or something in order to give them an actual issue to feud over. The Wyatt Family v. Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth & XAVIER WOODS Finally, Woods debuts on the Hulu RAW after doing the intros for weeks! Not that I care about seeing him, but I just think it’s kind of funny in that I’ve literally never seen any of his RAW matches on this version of the show. The babyfaces get the advantage on Rowan, but Harper puts Truth down in the corner and the crowd chants for Ziggler. I don’t foresee that going as well for Dolph as it has for Punk and Bryan. But he gets the hot tag anyway and slugs away on Harper in the corner, with a DDT that gets two. Bray turns the tide, however, and finishes Dolph with Sister Abagail at 5:00, because OF COURSE they beat the guy getting all the chants. * The Shield responds on the Titantron afterwards, and Ambrose is also crazy and thus not afraid. BATTLE FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO POSSIBLY BE THE FACE OF WWE IN THE EYES OF THE AUTHORITY FOR SOME REASON: Daniel Bryan v. Christian Jerry Lawler really lays it on the line here: If Randy Orton loses ANY of these matches, that’s really gonna affect the opinion of him with the Authority. So that’s now their idea of a storyline. Instead of fighting for titles, guys are fighting to impress HHH and Stephanie. Michael Cole restates it even more forcefully: If Daniel Bryan wins, then the Authority may have to rethink who the face of the company really is. Riveting. RIVETING. Orton puts him down with a headbutt as the announcers are already writing off Orton’s chance of winning at the Chamber, since it’s painfully telegraphed that he will be doing just that. Bryan throws kicks in the corner and the ADD directing is getting really obvious and annoying here. Going cut-kick-cut-kick-cut-kick is headache-inducing once you start noticing it. Bryan works on the knee and dropkicks it into the post. Cole notes that Orton is questioning the authority of the Authority. But that’s their NAME! That’s the one thing you can’t question about them! Maybe that’s why I’m supposed to boo Orton. Bryan puts Orton down with a forearm with two and goes back to the leg, and a backslide gets two. Orton bails to avoid further punishment, and Bryan follows and tosses him into Cole’s lap. Back in, he stays on the knee and follows with a top rope rana for two. Into the surfboard and a half crab, but Orton puts him on the floor and drops him on the railing to take over. Back in, Orton stomps away and powerslams him, and we take a break. Back with Bryan throwing kicks while the camera zooms in and out and continues to drive me crazy. Orton catches him with a throw, however, thus injuring the shoulder. Orton works on that and they head to the top for a battle up there, won by Bryan. He follows with a missile dropkick, but hurts the shoulder on the way down. He keeps coming with kicks, but Orton wrenches the arm to put him down again. Bryan catches him in the Yes-Lock and the camera cuts FIVE TIMES between Bryan reaching for the move and actually getting it. Corner dropkicks as Bryan makes the comeback, but Orton hits his own dropkick. Bryan escapes the RKO and goes up with the flying headbutt for two. Bryan with the kicks (ZOOM, cut, ZOOM, cut) but Kane comes out and gets dropkicked off the apron as a result. Bryan hits both Kane and Orton with a dive, and back in for the running knee to finish at 28:28. ****1/4 Kane and Orton deliver the beatdown afterwards, as the announcers posit that the Authority sent Kane down in case Orton was going to lose. Wasn’t the point that they WANTED Orton to lose because they didn’t have faith in him? I am legitimately confused by what the storyline is supposed to be. HHH doesn’t want Bryan as the champion, he doesn’t want Orton as the champion, but sometimes he does…who does he even want as champion? His buddy Batista? That at least would be a storyline that makes sense. What would make even more sense is HHH coming out and admitting that he wants HIMSELF as champion, and would probably be far more true to life and easier to build off at that. Cole closes by noting that Bryan might have had a chance to be the face of WWE, but Kane got involved, so now he can’t. What? How does that even…never mind, I give up. The Pulse Terrible show, great main event, which has been noted by many already. Unfortunately it also bombed in the ratings, so you know who’s gonna get blamed for that.

The SmarK RAW Rant–01.27.2014

The SmarK RAW Rant – 01.27.2014 I figured I might as well catch up since I had the day off anyway. This will be an interesting experiment for me now, actually, because I manage the TV department at work and I’ve been booking myself on Monday nights and then putting RAW on as background noise. So basically I can half-watch the entire 3-hour show and then recap the 90 minute one on Hulu and see what the differences are. I can tell you right now that the original version of this show bored the fuck out of me, even while not paying particular attention to it. THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS ALERT: Hulu is offering a compilation of the Super Bowl ads this year, which is like the Holy Grail for Canadians because we never get to see any of them. However, the compilation of ads is, in itself, sponsored by ANOTHER AD. WHO ARE THE AD WIZARDS THAT CAME UP WITH THIS ONE? Live from Cleveland, OH Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler The Authority is here to start us out with a POINT TO SIGN. And tonight they’re heels, for those keeping scores. HHH immediately trolls the crowd by calling them whiny babies for the Daniel Bryan thing and then talks up Batista again, noting that he’s their “good friend”. So does that mean they’re babyfaces or Batista is supposed to be a heel? So their big announcement is Randy Orton defending the title in the Chamber, which brings out Daniel Bryan. OK, time out. What the fuck was the point of all the “Brock Lesnar is the #1 contender because he says so” stuff that we went through for the past month? We now know he’s not working the Chamber PPV, and definitely not getting a title shot there or at Wrestlemania, so what was that storyline even supposed to be leading towards? He destroys Big Show and then leaves again for two months? Because I know I’m just a smark that’s apparently beneath HHH’s boot, but that doesn’t seem like optimal usage of a guy you’re paying millions of dollars a year for. OK, time in again. So Daniel rightly bitches about not getting entered in the Rumble, and the Authority gives the condescending “Well, we didn’t want to make you work twice” answer. Bryan points out that they make him work twice all the time against the Shield and Wyatts, and HHH is somehow even more smarmy with “That’s a fair point, so we didn’t want to make you do it again.” See, HHH is a FANTASTIC heel when he’s doing that “smart-ass for evil” gimmick, which is why it’s so frustrating when he bounces back and forth from week to week. If he’s the asshole who’s cutting off the babyface’s demands with his corporate doublespeak and leading to someone getting revenge on him, GREAT. But the problem comes when he does the same thing to heels and kills their heat in the process. Bryan wants into the Chamber, but the Shield appears like magic and starts a beatdown. And then Sheamus makes the save, as does John Cena, which would presumably set up a six-man main event. Good enough to start. Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara v. The Real Americans The masked men double-team Cesaro to start, and Sin Cara gets a springboard elbow for two and dumps Swagger for a dive. Uncle Zeb slaps Swagger around to get him focused again, and indeed he takes over in the ring. The Canucks should hire him to coach instead of Tortorella. At least Zeb gets results. We take a break and return with Cesaro missing a charge, allowing the hot tag to Rey. Top rope senton and bulldog for Cesaro gets two. Low kick gets two. 619 into a Sin Cara senton, but it misses, and Cesaro levels Cara with a forearm and finishes with the Neutralizer at 8:23. Good to see Cesaro getting it done when Swagger couldn’t. ** Brad Maddox brings out Randy Orton, as we will continue having him shoved down our throats and WE WILL LIKE IT. Batista interrupts and the crowd immediately starts trying to trip him up with Daniel Bryan chants. He’s leaving Wrestlemania with the title, and nothing is going to change that! I love shoot comments that aren’t supposed to be shoot comments. Brock Lesnar now joins us, and Paul Heyman has two choices for Maddox: Either give Brock a title match tonight, or a match with Batista. Of course, neither would end up happening, because WWE. Kofi Kingston v. Alberto Del Rio ADR is still really upset with Batista and expressing his anger via INSET PROMOS, as only happens in wrestling. I’m more upset with Kofi’s god-awful tights recently, but whatever floats his boat. Kofi pounds away in the corner, but gets booted down by Del Rio and clotheslined for two. Del Rio bails and Kofi follows with a dive, but walks into an enzuigiri coming back in. Michael Cole, after five years, is still trying to get “controlled frenzy” over as a thing. It’s not a thing, it’s not gonna happen, give it up. Back in, Del Rio grabs a chinlock and gets an elbow off the second rope and the crowd is already bored and chanting for JBL. They slug it out on the top rope and no one cares, as we take a break. Back with Kofi getting a rollup for two, which has Cole thrilled at the prospect of building momentum. SOS gets two. You have to wonder if Michael Cole starts yelling about BUILDING MOMENTUM when he’s having sex, and then wants to create separation when he’s done. Typical man. Anyway, Del Rio tries the armbar, but gets the backstabber instead for two. To the top, but Kofi follows with a superplex attempt, which Del Rio turns into a half-assed curb stomp ala Low-Ki. Superkick finishes at 13:20. You have to love how they highlight Kofi’s big Rumble moment and then job him out right away, in order to build up the guy for Batista to squash at the Chamber PPV. And then they’re like “Duh, why doesn’t anyone ever get over, duh?” Match was fine. **1/2 WWE tag team titles: The New Age Outlaws v. Cody Rhodes & Goldust I still don’t get the point of switching the titles. And I’m guessing the Outlaws are supposed to be heels, but they still do the whole babyface spiel before the match. Further through the looking glass, as the washed up Outlaws get their spot and titles because they’re friends with HHH in real life, doing a storyline where they got their spot and titles because they’re friends with HHH. Which is kind of even funnier because their original deal was that they were the miscreants who clearly were out of their league and cheated their way to the belts by beating teams better than them, and then nostalgia somehow turned them into a good team. So it’s like “Here’s this washed up team who only got their spot because of friendship with the boss, but we’re gonna put them over the champions clean and act like they’re awesome as well.” The messages are more mixed than a Jim Ross blog update. Anyway, meta-weirdness aside, the Outlaws attack Goldust and Road Dogg controls with a chinlock, but they bail and we take a break. Geez, remember when Road Dogg and Goldust were feuding over the I-C title FIFTEEN YEARS AGO? It makes it all the more amazing how easily Goldust has slipped back into his role and how out of place the Outlaws look. Back with Goldust busting out a flip powerbomb on Dogg for two (see what I mean?) and it’s hot tag Cody, who runs wild on the very old and slow looking Outlaws, until Gunn gets a clothesline to cut him off. This brings out Brock Lesnar for the DQ at 10:00 and he destroys the Rhodes. * This of course leads to nothing, because apparently their plan for getting to Undertaker is: 1. Brock wants a title match and declares himself #1 contender. 2. ??? 3. Undertaker match and PROFIT. Jake Roberts is introduced as the newest Hall of Famer. Hopefully he locks Warrior in a room full of cobras again before the ceremony. Daniel Bryan, John Cena & Sheamus v. The Shield Apparently the winners of this match are entered into the Elimination Chamber, the announcement of which was actually deleted from the Hulu version. Cena trades headlocks with Rollins until Cena slugs him down, which brings Reigns and Sheamus in. Reigns pounds on him, but Sheamus gets a neckbreaker for two. Back to Rollins, but Sheamus dominates him until a cheapshot turns the tide. Over to Daniel Bryan to wake up the crowd again, and the faces work Rollins over. Sheamus with a legdrop for two. Double suplex gets two for Cena. Rollins comes back with a clothesline as we take a break from the HIGH STAKES, HIGH DRAMA. Yes, the chance for John Cena to get yet another title shot! High drama indeed. Back with Rollins choking Cena out, which sets up the Reigns apron dropkick for two. The superman punch follows, and that move is gonna win Best Finisher in the awards next year, mark my words. Cena RISES ABOVE SUPERMAN and dumps Reigns, but Roman puts him down again for two. Ambrose runs Cena into the corner, and Rollins cuts off the tag for more shenanigans in the heel corner. Ambrose with a suplex for two. And this just keeps going and going with Ambrose controlling Cena, until finally it’s hot tag Bryan. Dive for Ambrose and he kicks the hell out of everyone, but Reigns spears Cena. Bryan dumps him, but Rollins gets a rollup for two. They slug it out and Rollins powerbombs him into the corner for two. To the top, but the stomp misses and Bryan makes the comeback before missing a charge. Rollins with a rollup, but Bryan reverses into the Yeslock. Ambrose breaks it up and Sheamus gets rid of him, allowing Bryan to make the tag to Cena to save the day. STF on Reigns, but he powers out, and the Wyatts magically appear for the shit DQ at 21:22. Wow, what a thrilling way for the babyfaces to get their title shot. ***1/4 Hell of a match before that cop-out finish, though. The Pulse That was quite the underwhelming finish to the show, to say the least. And definitely not worth sitting through a boring, go-nowhere show to get to, either. And so, time to take a lunch break and return with this week’s RAW later in the afternoon!

The Kyle Report: Money in the Bank 2011 Review

First, I would like to wish all the American readers a safe and happy Forth of July, and I hope that everyone up in Canada had a fun and safe Canada Day. Since Money in the Bank 2013 is just around the corner, I decided to review the greatest Money in the Bank show of all time.
  


   Event: Money in the Bank 2011
When: July 17, 2011
Where: Chicago, Illinois 
Your hosts: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and incoherent Booker T.

Opening Match, Smackdown Money in the Bank: Daniel Bryan vs. Kane vs. Wade Barrett vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Heath Slater vs. vs. Sheamus vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Sin Cara.
Daniel Bryan receives a big pop from the Chicago crowd. The big wrestlers fight each other, which allows Justin Gabriel to jump his way to the middle of the ring by using the ladder, but Bryan dropkicks him off.  Rhodes goes up the ladder, but both Kane and Barrett push him off. Gabriel and Bryan fly out onto Kane and Barrett. Slater slingshots onto Rhodes, and Sin Cara executes a plancha onto Sheamus. Barrett sets up a ladder but misses a clothesline onto Bryan and runs into the post. Sheamus Brogue kicks Sin Cara and then powerbombs him through a table. As God as my witness, he is broken in half. I wonder why Sin Cara didn’t sue Sheamus for him becoming addicted to painkillers. Sheamus and Kane fight over the ladder, but Bryan and Rhodes knock both of them out. Sin Cara is stretchered out of the arena. The Core put a stop to Bryan and Rhodes dominance. Wade tells Slater and Gabriel that they should allow him to win. Both Slater and Gabriel let him go up, but then drag him down and go up themselves. Cody pushes the ladder over and hits Slater with Cross Rhodes, and then another one for Barrett. Sheamus then nails Rhodes with a backbreaker. Sheamus and Kane join forces to do a ‘Doomsday Device’ on Daniel Bryan. This leads to a “L.O.D.” chant from the fans. That was a cool spot. Kane goes up the ladder, but Daniel Bryan stops Kane. Sheamus and Barrett spear Slater with a ladder and sling him across the ring. Wow, that was a ridiculous spot. Sheamus goes up, but Kane chokeslams him right onto another ladder. Everyone attacks Kane, and then Justin Gabriel hits a 450 splash onto Kane. Rhodes clotheslines Barrett over, but Bryan locks in a guillotine on Rhodes. Bryan fights off Barrett and then goes up to recover the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Winner: Daniel Bryan in 24:25 minutes
Thoughts: Daniel Bryan winning was a pleasant surprise, but many people believed he would end up being the first person to not win the championship. That did not end up being the case, as Bryan won the World Heavyweight Championship….although he did lose it to Sheamus in 18 seconds at WM 28.
Anyways, that was a terrific opener. There were so many highlight reel moments in it—Sin Cara’s insane spot, the Road Warrior spot, and the tease of reunion of the Core. This was well booked, well performed, and instead of it being a bunch of random high spots, the spots were laced together, and the match told a number of attention-grabbing stories. ****
 WWE Divas Title: Kelly Kelly (w/Eve) vs. Brie Bella (w/Nikki Bella).
Kelly has some early offense before Brie cuts her off and goes to work. Brie scores some close near falls, but Kelly eventually hits her finisher for the win.
Winner: Kelly Kelly in 4 minutes
Thoughts: Crowd did not care, I did not care, and WWE did not care about this match. ½*
The Big Show vs. Mark Henry.
This might have been the least anticipated match ten years ago, but I was looking forward to this match. The build-up was very good. Show attacks Henry with chops and then flattens him. Henry slows Show down by attacking his knee and then puts in a Boston crab. Show battles out, though. Show executes a flying shoulder block, but Henry goes after the knee to counter a chokeslam. Henry hits the World’s Strongest Slam but only gets two. He hits two splashes and that is enough to pick up the win. After the match, Henry puts Show’s ankle in a chair and then murders it. Show really sells the ankle well, as the EMTS come running out. The fans were quite rude during well-executed by chanting CM Punk’s name.
Winner: Mark Henry in 5:02 minutes
Thoughts: This was just two gigantic dudes throwing everything they got at each other, and it totally worked. The match had sound selling and psychology to boot. Sometimes a match does not need to be a classic to serve its purpose — something wrestling companies have a hard time understanding, even WWE at times. This accomplished everything they wanted it to. It established that Henry was a force to be reckon with, planting the seeds for his memorable WHW reign, and it allowed Big Show to look credible, even in defeat.** ½
Raw Money in the Bank: Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz vs. Alex Riley vs. R-Truth vs. Jack Swagger vs. Evan Bourne vs.  Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio.
Both Miz and Truth fight with the small ladders, but Swagger blindsides them both. Rey jumps off a ladder that is being fought over by Kofi and Bourne and then hurricanrans Swagger to the outside. Riley performs an over-the-top suicidal maneuver and then Bourne delivers the Shooting Star Press onto a flock of people outside. Miz halts Bourne from winning, and then Del Rio tips the ladder over.  Bourne and Mysterio scale the ladder over the top of Truth and Del Rio. Later on, Del Rio tries a spear on Kofi, but Kofi pulls himself up with the ladder, which sends Del Rio to the floor. Rey executes the 619 on Kofi by using the ladder. Amazing spot. Truth kicks the ladder, sending it into Swagger’s face. Eventually, everyone goes after the briefcase, but nobody can grab it. People start dropping, leaving Kofi the only one on top. Swagger goes up the ladder, leading to a spot where both ladders fall over and both land awkwardly.  Miz enters the ring, but Rey stops him. Del Rio halts Mysterio from winning and then unmasks him. He throws Rey and goes up to take the case down.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio in 15:34 minutes
Thoughts: This was just a car-wreck on route 44, but it was so entertaining that I could not look away. There really was not a coherent story being told, just a ton of insane spots, one right after the other. I also liked the finish. Mysterio is more concerned about protecting his identity and the Lucha Libre tradition than winning the future title shot. A character’s flaws, not its strengths, create an interesting persona. *** ¾
World Heavyweight Title: Randy Orton vs. Christian.
If Randy Orton is DQed, he loses the title. Christian tries to manipulate Orton early on to get DQed, but he does not fall for it and beats the shit out of him. The two of them trade punches back and forth, leading to a Killswitch from Christian. Orton, back on his feet, clotheslines them both over. Back in the ring, Orton Thesz Presses Christian and punches him. Christian counters a superplex and nails a diving headbutt for two. Orton misses an uppercut, and they both look at each other for a while in what seems to be a messed up spot. Orton just hits an uppercut. Orton dodges a spear and then executes the body vice into a backbreaker move for two. Christian spits right into Ortons face, which makes Orton go crazy. Orton keeps punching Christian and then proceeds to kick Christian in the nuts for the DQ. After the match, Orton keeps trying to break the table by RKOing Christian but to no prevail. The crowd ate it up, though.
Winner: Christian in 13:30 minutes
Thoughts: Good drama and intensity, and very suspenseful. They told a great story by using the stipulations. Randy Orton’s character is based upon him being short-tempered, so Christain channeled his long time buddy Edge’s “Ultimate Opportunists” gimmick to mentally defeat Orton. This feud was extremely unsung; they never had a bad match together, and their feud felt very personal. The only real reason people disliked it was because Christian’s first title reign was only two days. Both of them ended up having one of the most heated brawls of the PG era the next month. *** ½
WWE Heavyweight Title: John Cena vs. CM Punk.
Interesting fact about this: The road agents did not map out this match. Before the match, Hayes asked what they were going to do. Cena and Punk ended up just about improvised the entire thing. Perhaps that is why the entire thing felt realistic instead of choreographed. Punk counters out of the Attitude Adjustment and then goes for the GTS, but Cena avoids it. Punk counters another FU into a DDT. Outside the ring, Punk gives Colt Cabana a high-five. Punk then puts Cena over the edge of the apron and then hits a flying knee. Back in the ring, a cross body from Punk gets two. Cena suplexes Punk from the apron all  the way to the floor. This match is already avoiding every WWE wrestling cliché. Cena delivers a powerbomb Cena puts in a weird looking abdominal stretch, but Punk hip tosses out of it. They clothesline each other. Cena makes a comeback after Punk misses a knee in the corner. Cena tries the “You can’t see me” taunt, but Punk drills him in the face with a kick before tossing him to the floor. A springboard clothesline by Punk misses, and Cena hits the Five-Knuckle Shuffle. Punk counters out of the Attitude Adjustment by landing on his feet. Punk kicks the shit out of Cena and then delivers a few stiff knees. Cena avoids a kick and locks in the STF, but Punk makes the ropes, though. Punk hits a roundhouse kick. He comes off the top with a cross body, but Cena rolls through. Punk counters, but Cena counters the GTS with the STF. Punk makes the ropes, but Cena drags him into the center. Punk counters that with the VICE. Cena fights back to his feet and counters the VICE with a FU but only for two. Cena blocks the Go2Sleep and hits another FU only for two. Cena sets up for the super FU, but Punk elbows out of it. Punk delivers a GTS, but it sends Cena to the floor. Punk’s face tells the story, as he cannot believe Cena fell out of the ring.  Both Vince McMahon and Johnny Ace come out. Punk looks at them too long, which allows Cena to lock in the STF. Vince calls for the timekeeper to ring the bell and then sends Johnny Ace down to do it. Cena lets go of the hold and drills Ace. Cena tells Vince he is not winning like that. Cena goes back into the ring, only to be met by a GTS  via Punk to pick up the win. After the match, McMahon tells Del Rio to cash in. Del Rio tries cashing in, but Punk delivers a roundhouse kick before the bell rings. Punk leaves through the crowd, while Vince looks on in disbelief.
Winner: CM Punk in 33:00 minutes
Thoughts: Remember when Edge remolded his character from the weasel, chicken-shit into a deranged psychopath to give off the impression that he could defeat the Undertaker in a Hell in the Cell match, but he wrestled the same as he did before, derailing the belief that he had a chance of winning the match? Well, unlike Edge, Punk adapted his wrestling style to his snarky, ahead of the curve persona, who did not fall clichéd tactics (example being when he kept countering Cena’s hackneyed signature comeback moves). Cena’s character also made adjustments to counter Punk’s adjustments by delivering his signature moves ways that we have never seen before. Now, that is both character development and psychology at its finest. 
This had a big match feel to it that I have not experienced in WWE since possibly The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at  Wrestlemania 17. There was so much to win, and neither man could afford losing. The atmosphere made it feel as if the Chicago Cubs were facing the Boston Red Sox in the World Series
Millions of people gave their predictions of what will happen, but WWE ended up doing the most surprising one—allowing CM Punk escape with the title. We all believed that this was indeed Punk’s final match in WWE for a long time, but they kayfabed us all.
Unlike the Rock vs. Cena II that I trashed, this had genuine, not fabricated, drama, intensity, and heat. And, most of all, Punk and Cena just didn’t do things for the sake of doing them. Everything made sense and fit the context of the story they were telling. Nothing happened that was impractical like, oh let’s just say Cena hitting a DDT, flipping Punk over, and then putting in the STF. No, instead, a spot in the match went like this: Punk went a cross body, but Cena caught him and rolled through. Cena went for aFU, but CM Punk wiggled out. He set him up for the GTS,  but Cena caught Punk’s knee and locked in the STF. Sequences like that allowed everything to feel natural and flow like a harpoon.
This also had impeccable pacing and timing, and they magnificently built the match to its crescendo. The finish also enhanced the drama. Then, ultimately, Cena’s concern for his  “goodie two shoe” image wound up being a character imperfection that caused him to fail. Sometimes, you know, nice people finish last.
Initially, I had this at **** ½ because I thought Punk should have played the face-in-peril, and allowed Cena to control the match, so that the fans would come unglued for Punk’s comebacks. However, the crowd became unglued during the courses of the match enough to not really care about that, and Punk is better at dictating the pace nevertheless.
Additionally, there were some sloppy spots, but on a second viewing, it made me realize that it sold them being both fatigued and desperate better. Further, I was also able to see the subtle brilliance that took place— Cena’s body language showing his nervousness as a result of the atmosphere in the beginning, and then his intense determination toward the end; Punk transforming his wrestling style to mold his character, and the perfect blend of 80s storytelling and psychology and today’s state-of-the-art moves and characterizations.
 When I add it all up, I have to give this the full monty. *****
Final Thoughts: This card delivered top-to-bottom. Not only did the show deliver a collection of great matches, it also progressed the stories that were being told, and both defined and added fresh layers to the wrestlers’ characters. This is easily a top five WWE PPV of all time.

The Kyle Report: Wrestlemania 29 Review

Wrestlemania 29 was the 29th annual “Grand Daddy of Them All”,
held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford New Jersey on April 7th, 2013. It
drew 80,676 fans according to WWE, becoming the second highest attended WWE
event ever, and about 1,048,000 ordered it worldwide. 

The initial video package
talked about Hurricane Sandy, and it focused on the strong people that assisted
those affected by it. Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey, narrated
the entire thing and then welcomed us to WrestleMania 29.
The wide-shot camera
angles showed the jammed-packed crowd in attendance. An enthused Michael Cole
said there were over 80,000 people there, and the event was sold out. Then, a
video package was shown of some of the classic moments in WrestleMania’s history
and slides of the wrestlers involved in this show.
Your Hosts Are Michael
Cole, Jerry Lawler, and John Bradshaw Layfield.
Opening
Match: Randy Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show vs. The Shield (Seth Rollins,  Roman Reigns, and Dean Abmrose)
As usual, the Shield arrived
through the crowd while Big Show, Sheamus and Randy Orton entered separately.
Their entrances foreshadowed the story of the match. The Shield worked
together as a cohesive team, while Big Show, Sheamus, and Randy Orton were
fragmented. The Shield went to hit the three-man powerbomb on Sheamus, but the Big
Show saved Sheamus by spearing Reigns. The problems between Team Sheamus started to happen
when Sheamus tried to tag in The Big Show, but Orton selfishly tagged himself
to be the legal man. Orton cleaned house, while the camera showed Big Show
visibly pissed off. Orton set up for the RKO on Dean Ambrose, but wound up
RKO’ing Rollins, who jumped off the turnbuckle, in mid-air. Out of nowhere,
Reigns speared Orton, allowing Ambrose to pick up the win by pinning Orton. JBL
speculated that the Shield might be the greatest team ever. After the match,
Big Show ended up punching both Sheamus and Orton in the face and then walked away in disgust.
Winners:
The Shield in 10:37
Thoughts: An adequate, inoffensive opening tag
match. The story of the match was that the Shield worked as a cohesive unit,
while team Sheamus, Big Show, and Randy Orton could not put their differences aside.
People speculated whether or not Randy Orton would finally turn heel, but WWE ended
up not pull the trigger on the turn. Like I said, it was solid, but the Shield
have had much better matches on free TV. ** 1/2
A video package was
shown hyping up the John Cena vs The Rock match
Ryback
vs. Mark Henry
Henry took control early
on by delivering a powerslam and then a clothesline. Ryback went for Shell
Shock, but Henry pushed him into the turnbuckle. Henry then applied a bear hug. The
crowd then started to chant “Sexual Chocolate”, illustrating how little the
crowd cared about this match. Henry applied another bear hug, only for Ryback to drive
Henry into the corner where he delivered a couple of clotheslines. The crowd
came alive when Ryback executed the “Feed Me More” clothesline. The crowd then popped
huge when Ryback got Henry up for Shell Shock, but Henry countered by grabbing
the ropes and landing on Ryback’s back. Henry proceeded to pick up the win by
pinning him in a very anti-climactic finish. After the match, Ryback hit Shell
Shock, which made Henry’s win rather pointless.
Winner:
Mark Henry in 8:20
Thoughts: The match was tedious, and the crowd only popped
for the big spots, but it was not as bad as it could have been. They did not try to do more than they could, so neither Henry nor Ryback were exposed
for being less than stellar workers. I still do not understand why Ryback lost
this match because he ended up becoming the number one contender the next
night. I also wonder if WWE has a long-term plan for Ryback losing every big
match on PPV in his WWE career. * 1/4
Tag
Team Championship: Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) © vs. Dolph Ziggler and
Big E Langston w/AJ Lee
AJ kissed Ziggler at the
start of the match. Ziggler turned around only to be kicked in the head by
Daniel Bryan (in what was a convincing near-fall that played off how Bryan lost
to Sheamus last year). Ziggler tagged in Langston and Bryan tagged in Kane. Boo!.
Langston delivered Kane three backbreakers in a row, and then hit a running
body attack. He’s pretty strong, to be honest. The heels made some quick tags and worked over Kane, but Kane fought
back by hitting a sick-looking DDT on Langston. Ziggler pulled Bryan off the
apron, but Kane ended up hitting a sidewalk slam on Ziggler. The pace is really picking up. Kane went for a
top-rope clothesline, but Ziggler moved
out of the way. Ziggler botched a Fameasser and got a two count out of it. Afterwards,
Kane tossed Langston outside the ring, and Bryan nailed Langston in the head
with a stiff knee. Ziggler nailed the Zig Zag and got a close near-fall out of
it. AJ Lee preoccupied the ref, as Kane dodged a briefcase shot and then gave
Ziggler a Chokelsam. Kane tagged in Bryan, and he hit the Flying Headbutt on
Ziggler. It was good enough to pick up the win.
Winners:
Team Hell No in 8:22
Analysis: The de ja vu spot was a nice play off of last
year’s Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan match, and it was actually very believable
near-fall. All four men worked hard, and thus got the rather silent crowd
engaged into it. Overall, it was a rock-solid, energetic match, with all four
men playing their specific roles well. I just wish they had more time and that Bryan
and Ziggler wrestled together longer. ** ¾
John Cena discussed Make-A-Wish and told us that we can donate $10 by texting 80088.

Chris
Jericho vs. Fandango
Fan-dan-go! started by
doing a little dancing, only to get suplexed by Jericho. Bret Hart thought his dancing was more entertaining than a HHH match. Out of
nowhere, Jericho Codebreaker. (By the way, every time I say out of nowhere, Don West screaming on top of his lungs comes to my mind. God, I miss that guy.) Fan-dan-go! fell out of the ring, though.
Jericho then followed up by giving him a dropkick. Back in the ring, Fan-dan-go! started to control the match, but Jericho came back by hitting a double
axehandle and then a Thesz Press. Bah, gawd. Jericho then nailed a cross body block to
pick up a two count. Fandango, however, threw Jericho shoulder first into the ring
post. Fan-dan-go! hit a neckbreaker, and then proceeded to hit his unique Leg Drop
off the top rope, getting a close near-fall. Jericho attempted the Walls of
Jericho, but Fan-dan-go! reversed it and then executed a clothesline. Fan-dan-go! went to the top again, but it was Jericho grabbed the top rope. Jericho went for a
superplex, but Fan-dan-go! countered by hitting a headbutt. Fan-dan-go! went for his top-leg drop, but Jericho moved out of the way. Things got messy when it appeared
Jericho was supposed to hit the Liontamer, but Fan-dan-go! was too close to the
ropes. Jericho tried to cover the botch up by going for the Walls of Jericho,
but Fan-dan-go! countered with a sloppy inside cradle to pick up the win.
Winner:
Fan….dan….go! in 9:11
Thoughts:  I forgot to breathe in the A’s, I think. Anyway, another decent match. There was a good amount of
back-and-forth action and counter-for-counter wrestling exchanges. Jericho’s
mission was to make Fandango look good, and he did a good job of doing so. Aside
from the sloppy finish, Fandango appeared to have some wrestling ability.
Jericho is so good at being able to adapt with anyone and have a watchable match
with them, though. 

The next night, Fandango received a huge babyface reaction,
but the WWE failed to capitalize on it. The thing is the character never really
pissed people off and people never took him seriously. It was just a whacky,
cheesy, goofy, but rather entertaining character. The fans told WWE this, but they did not want to listen. Now, he is receiving
little-to-no reaction at all. ** ½

Diddy performed, which made me hit
the fast-forward button. I like it when they use a music performer to sing
someone’s theme, but to give them their own mini-concert would be equal to
Diddy allowing wrestlers to wrestle at his concerts. I mean people order WM to see
wrestling, not an eight-minute concert. The time wasted here should have been used for the mid-carders that were short-changed.
World
Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio w/Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Jack Swagger
w/Zeb Colter
Zeb Colter cut a promo
on just about every nationality to get cheap heat. Del Rio started aggressively
at the start until Zeb Colter sidetracked him, which allowed Swagger get the
upper hand by throwing Rio into the post. Del Rio got a hope spot in by rolling
up Swagger for a two count but then got a big boot to the face from Swagger. Del
Rio made his comeback by using clotheslines, a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and
then a side kick for a two count. Swagger came back with a shoulder block to the
knee of Del Rio. Del Rio attempted an enziguiri, but Swagger ducked it. Swagger went
for the Swagger Bomb, but Del Rio countered and then hit a Backstabber for a
two. Del Rio tried to end it, but Swagger reversed it with a Gutwrench
Powerbomb for two. The work is solid but the crowd does not care. Swagger locked in the Patriot Lock, but Del Rio reversed it with
his Cross Armbreaker submission. Swagger countered back with the Patriot Lock. We Da People! Del
Rio managed to break the hold by kicking Swagger in the head. Colter put Swagger’s leg on the ropes
while Del Rio was pinning him. Rodriguez chased after Colter on his crutches, but Colter
ended kicking one of his crutches, which made Rodriguez fall to the ground. Honestly, I think Rodriguez and Cotler wrestling would have created more heat than this match. Del Rio was looking at what was going on outside the ring, which
allowed Swagger to attack him from behind. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Del Rio put in the
Cross Armbreaker, which made Swagger tap.
 Winner: Alberto Del Rio in 10:23
Analysis: Solid work, but
nothing remarkable. They had a rather decent scientific match that displayed some
quality mat-work, but the issue was that it just lacked emotion and intensity.
It  honestly felt like they were having an ordinary match, as it just lacked a sense of urgency and desperation and had no heat whatsoever. That could have been because the
feud was too complex for the fans to understand what it was all about. Or, because Del Rio and Jack Swagger’s characters are uninteresting. Or, because they
lacked a great deal of charisma in their particular roles. ** ½
 The
Undertaker vs. CM Punk w/Paul Heyman
Living Colour played Cult
of Personality” and received a big pop from the crowd. The Undertaker’s
entrance was somewhat weird. These goblins were trying to grab his feet but could not. Punk bitch slapped Undertaker in the face early on, only for Undertaker
to come back with a huge boot to the face. Outside the ring, Undertaker tossed
Punk into the security wall. He then threw Punk’s head right onto the announce
table and then into ring post. Undertaker executed a leg drop on the apron on
Punk’s throat. After, Punk took Taker down with an arm drag when Taker went for
Old School. Punk then hit the Old School Clothesline, and Punk dodged the Undertaker’s big boot, sending him knee first into the top turnbuckle. With Taker outside, Punk nailed a
double axehandle off the top to the floor and then inside the ring, he hit a
neckbreaker to get a two count. Undertaker attempted to mount a comeback via
punches, but Punk countered with a swinging neckbreaker for two. Punk went for
the top-rope Old School clothesline, but he was crotched on the top rope. Undertaker
punched Punk in the face, knocking him outside the ring. Undertaker tried
to dive outside the ring, but Heyman got on the apron, which allowed Punk to
attack with a top-rope clothesline.
Later, Punk went to the
top rope and hit the Flying Elbow, although the table did not break. Taker sneaked
into the ring before being counted out. Taker locked in the Hell’s Gate
submission, but Punk answered by rolling him up for two count. Punk locked in the
Anaconda Vice submission Undertaker, which led to a great visual when Undertaker
looked Punk sadistically into his eyes. Punk got out of the way of a Chokeslam
and hit the GTS. Undertaker bounced off the ropes and then hit a Tombstone,
only for two. Great spot. Punk hit a running knee in the corner, but  Undertaker caught him and went  for the Last Ride. Heyman gave Punk the urn,
and Punk nailed Taker in the back of the head. Punk only got a two, though.
Just an awesome exchange there. Punk went for the GTS, Undertaker countered and
hit the Tombstone Piledriver to for win. After the match, Taker walked off the urn that held Paul Bearer’s ashes.
Winner:
The Undertaker in 22:30
Thoughts:
This match was a perfect example of “it is not what you do, it is when and
why you do it”. Everything they did fit the context of the story they were
telling. Both men also had great body language, facial expressions, and
mannerisms, which helped elevate the match’s  drama and also helped transition the match to each different stage. They
also built the match off the audience’s reactions, had them in the palms of
their hands and sent them on a roller coaster ride.
Basically, CM Punk tried to defeat the Undertaker by using a
well-developed strategic plan. He did certain tactics to attempt to play mind games with the Undertaker (which is something that few little people have been able to pull off). Even though it
worked for a good portion of the match, it was not enough to defeat the
immortal Undertaker. 
Also, despite CM Punk going into the match with not a lot of momentum due to him losing four out of the five previous matches, both the Undertaker and CM Punk were able to fool a lot of people by making them believe that Punk had several chances of ending the streak. Just a terrific match. **** ½
No
Holds Barred: Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman vs. Triple H w/Shawn Michaels
They brawled right off
the bat, as HHH threw Lesnar into the security wall and then slammed him into the announce table. After, Lesnar
went after Triple H on the floor, but Hunter drilled Lesnar with a stiff
clothesline, which literally knocked Lesnar out. Lesnar had a chair in his
hands, but Triple H drilled him in the face with a knee. Outside, Lesnar drilled
a belly-to-belly suplex, and then Lesnar hit vertical suplex into a slam that
broke the Spanish announce table. After that, a lot of boring stuff happened. Brock Lesnar dominated Triple H forever. HBK tried to save his friend, but Brock Lesnar was having none of that, so he F-5’d HBK. Later
on, Lesnar drove HHH into the steps that were in the ring,but HHH applied the
Kimura Lock. He picked up HHH again and drilled him into steps. This time, Triple
H hung onto his head and drilled his head into the steps. Hunter hit Lesnar with a sledgehammer and then a Pedrigree onto the steps, picking up the win.
Winner: Triple H in 23:30 minutes
Thoughts:
They worked hard. They really did. The problem was nobody cared. The reason the fans did not care was because: (A) Not many people care about Triple H anymore. (B) They never believed he had a chance of losing. Or (C), the Undertaker and CM Punk match
burnt them out. Whatever the case may have been, the match just lacked that
“career on the line” atmosphere. The match also failed to top their brawl on
Raw, which was way more of a intense and bloody back-and-forth brawl, and most of all, I didn’t know who was going get the upper hand.
In my opinion, though, the biggest problem
with the match were the dynamics. Ass-kicker vs ass-kicker matches are
difficult to pull off, especially with WWE’s violence restrictions. I mean Lesnar is a good big man worker, but it is obvious that his
matches with bigger guys aren’t that impressive. His best matches come with
people who can bump like a fish in the water and take a beating (or at
least give off the illusion that they are taking a bad one). Triple H has been known to
take a good beating in the past, but due how fragile his body has become, he can hardly bump
anymore. So, basically, he was not the right size, character, and he could not take enough sick bumps in order to mesh with Lesnar. ** 3/4
A commercial for The
Rock’s next movie, Pain & Gain, is shown. There were clips from the Hall of
Fame ceremony too. Then Hall of Famers were on the stage.
.
WWE
Championship: The Rock vs. John Cena
Rock avoided a  Five Knuckle Shuffle and then hit a DDT. The Rock went for a Rock Bottom, but Cena countered with a Crossface. Rock countered it with a pinfall
attempt but only got two. Cena hits the spinning slam and then the Five Knuckle
Shuffle. Rock wiggled his way out of the Attitude Adjustment and then delivered a
Spinebuster. Cena locked in a the STF, but the Rock got out of it. Rock then hit a
Rock Bottom in for two. Then Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment for a count. Selling, no? Okay.
Cena went to the top
rope but missed a leg drop. The Rock connected with  Spinebuster and then the People’s
Elbow for a two count. Cena caught Rock in his arms and then went for the
Attitude Adjustment, but Rock hit the Rock Bottom for another two count. Again, really? Rock
wanted another People’s Elbow, but Cena reversed it with an Attitude Adjustment
for two. This is becoming stupid. They exchanged punches, and then Cena hit a Rock Bottom for a two
count. This is like a Davery Richards match on crack. Cena went for the People’s elbow; you
know, the same move that made him lose their previous match. Nice psychology….not. He then went
for the Attitude Adjustment, but Rock countered into Rock Bottom for two. Do they even have finishers anymore? Jesus. They
exchanged finishing move attempts again a few times, but neither guy could hit.
Rock hit a DDT. Rock went for a Rock Bottom, Cena slipped out, and hit the Attitude
Adjustment, which was enough to win the WWE Championship. It’s finally over! After the match,
they shook hands. Respect is earned! 
Winner
and new WWE Champion: John Cena in 20:23 minutes
Thoughts:
This match lacked psychology, any sort of strategy by either man, a story to follow, and rarely did either John Cena or the Rock played off their previous match at all. There
was no transitional period that elevated the match into the finisher galore stage of the match either. During the beginning, they should have worked over a body part or told some
sort of story. Instead, they used a cheap method to get the fans invested into the match. Trading finisher after finisher just devalued the credibility of their finishers, and it was a very lazy way to put together the supposed biggest match of the year. And, unlike CM Punk and Undertaker, Cena’s victory was never in doubt. I might get some heat for this rating, but I do not care. I
did not enjoy this match at all. * ½
Final
Thoughts:
The mid-carders on the show were evidently held down, so their matches would not
overshadow the main events. That would have been fine had the main events
delivered. However, a show should never rely on one or two matches, because this is what could happen. 

In addition, the crowd
was ready to go home after Undertaker’s epic match yet again. I’ve always believed that a title match should go on last, but I think the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania matches have become an exception to the rule. If Taker loses, the streak is
over, whereas wrestlers lose and then win back the title all the time.

Thumbs
in the middle, leaning down.