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The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT–02.12.14

The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT – 02.12.14 Happy Valentine’s Day! Or as most wrestling fans know it, Friday. I have to say, I’m starting to get a real bad feeling about the direction of this show ever since the main WWE monkeys noticed that it’s a thing that exists and is airing on their new network. Nothing good ever comes from that, but hopefully it’s an aberration that ends once they get it out their system with the live show next week. Taped from Orlando, FL. Your hosts are Tom Phillips, Alex Riley & William Regal Natalya, Bayley & Emma v. Alicia Fox, Summer Rae & Sasha Banks Emma gets a sunset flip on Summer for two, and she runs away from Nat and brings in Sasha. Sasha gets a kick out of the corner, but Nattie takes her down with a suplex for two and follows with a dropkick. The announcers have a wonderfully wacky conversation about how Alex would marry Emma and take her last name, and Tom incredulously notes “She doesn’t have a last name!” That was pretty funny. Even better is Renee Young’s disgust with the whole deal, and then fawning over Regal immediately after. The characterization on the announce team is even better than most of the characters on RAW right now. The heels take over on Bayley and we go to a break. Back with Summer working Bayley over and Fox coming in with a lengthy facelock to build the heat, and Summer chokes her out while doing stretches on the ropes. Summer boots her down for two, but Summer fights back with a suplex and it’s hot tag Emma. Alicia wants no part of this action, but the BFFs walk out on her and the EmmaLock finishes at 12:05. Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling. **1/2 Aiden English v. Colin Cassady Cassady slams English out of the corner while Regal now fawns over Aiden with a man-crush. “Look at his body…it’s like he’s carved out of ONYX!” And yet we still get JBL on two of the main shows. English misses a legdrop and Cass makes the comeback with the SAWFT forearm smash, but English takes out the knee and finishes with the Director’s Cut at 2:21. Cass should really do a running forearm and call it the SAWFT Touch. So English wins this feud, and it was fine for a time-filling deal. * Sami Zayn joins us, and the Antonio Cesaro loss is EATING HIM ALIVE. So Mr. Cesaro comes out for his reply, and notes that Zayn can look forward to a great career…down here. (Crowd: “Oooooooooh!” What is this, a Chuck Lorre sitcom?) Sami reiterates how far back they go and how cool it is that Cesaro spends time in NXT when he doesn’t have to…but he’s kind of a coward for not fighting him. Cesaro is curious about the state of Sami’s knee, because he doesn’t want there to be any excuses this time. The crowd wants a pinky promise, so Sami obliges…and then Cesaro kicks him in the knee anyway and still refuses. And then HHH comes out and ruins all the fun by being deus ex machina and forcing Cesaro into the match. What a buzzkill. I watch this show to AVOID omnipotent authority figures coming out and making matches. See, this kind of thing is exactly what I mean by a bad feeling about the direction of the show, as they were having a great back-and-forth segment and then HHH came down from the mountain to just settle things for them like they were children or something. And isn’t JBL supposed to be the GM on the show? It’s bad enough we have to wade through the layers of fake authority figures on RAW as it is, now we have to add NXT to the giant convoluted flow chart that is the WWE chain of command, too. Tye Dillinger v. CJ Parker CJ gets a quick senton and airplane spin, and finishes with the Third Eye at 1:19. Just pull the plug on this guy already. Parker cuts an angry promo afterwards about how he recycles and loves the environment in his fuel-efficient car and the crowd is incapable of love. That’s a start. The angry pretentious environmentalist hipster douchebag is actually a surprisingly untapped resource for wrestling heels. I feel like a better direction would be if he started acting all passive-aggressive as well, but this is a start and at least it’s a real character. The Wyatt Family v. I Dunno, Some Guys. Harper finishes one of the geeks with a lariat at 0:50, as you’d expect. Oddly enough, the new episode of New Girl featured Jess’s sister…Abigail! COINCIDENCE? Probably. Or maybe THAT’S WHAT THE MACHINE WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE. The Pulse Man, HHH really harshed my buzz, as CJ Parker would say. OK show otherwise, although obviously they’re just going all in with the live special and basically cruising through the buildup to it.

HHH: Diabolical Genius

Not really news that HHH is the smartest guy in the room, but dig this bit of psychological evilness from the new WON:
"The general rule HHH has is that he wants to be training guys either from scratch, or getting younger guys with the right look and size, with all the money they’ve spent on developmental, and get them before they make names on the indie scene. Even though their doctrine today would mean Punk and Bryan, two of their three current most over stars, would have a hard time getting in the door. The feeling is the guys who work indies and travel and have somewhat of a name have bad habits, and if they are at the higher level, if they sign them and even if they agree to take the pay cut to WWE entry level, that they won’t be happy over the long haul, It was also said they don’t want guys who know they can get fired and go back and be successful without WWE. They want guys with the impression that their careers in wrestling depend on making it in WWE."
Emphasis on the last line from me.  That's BRILLIANT, dictator-level indoctrination brainwashing shit there.  You have to respect that a little bit, honestly.  Sucks for the indy guys with actual passion for the business who want to learn a different style, but holy crap is that some evil genius gameplaying.  That's why he's worth millions, I guess.

Assorted April PPV Countdown: 2000

The Netcop Rant for Backlash 2000 – Live from Washington, D.C., proud home of Marion Berry, Tammy Sytch’s favorite mayor. – Your hosts are JR & The King. – And we get a bit of shock right away, as Debra comes to the ring, three months early for Fully Loaded, if you know what I mean. We’re talking Scott Hall terroritory here. And she’s the RING ANNOUNCER for the first match? Alcohol and microphones don’t mix, kids. – Opening match, WWF tag titles: Edge & Christian v. High & Dry. (Wait a sec, I’m assuming X-Pac would be “High”, but how would Road Dogg be “Dry”? That joke name doesn’t even make SENSE!) Nice to see that X-Pac has recovered enough from the death in the family to get right back on the bus and start thrusting his crotch at people again. Edge & X-Pac start. X-Pac bumps around a bit and gets leg lariated to the floor. DX regroups and Road Dogg pounds on Christian. He gets sent to the floor and eats stairs, thus going into the Ricky Morton role. Literally, in fact, as this match is a dead-on impersonation of the millions of Andersons v. Rock n Roll Express matches that happened in 85-86, and I mean that in the nicest way. (That’s quite the exaggeration there.  Somehow I don’t think this was quite up to that level, although E&C were going into their prime as a tag team as this point.)  Back in, and a false tag for the champs leads to heavy double-teaming from DX. A broncobuster leads to a chinlock to kill time. Edge sneaks in a diving headbutt on Road Dogg to give the champs a two count. Hot tag to Edge, who powerbombs X-Pac off a leg lariat for two. Christian tries the Tomikaze (aka Unprettier, aka Killswitch, aka the lamest finisher to get multiple names ever)  on Road Dogg to reverse a pumphandle slam, but Tori (Not to be confused with Torrie.) gets involved and distracts the ref. X-Pac hits her by mistake, but recovers enough to X-Factor Edge while the ref argues with Dogg and Tori on the outside. Christian sneaks in, blasts X-Pac with the ringbell, and covers for the pin to retain at 9:21. Welcome back, X-Pac, enjoy the J-O-B. *** X-Pac adds the manly bladejob to reinforce the shot. Right booking there, even if the Edge & Christian heel turn is STILL in limbo.  (Yeah, not for long.) – WWF Lightheavyweight title: Dean Malenko v. Scotty 2 Hotty. Now, is it “2”, “II” or “Too”, because I’ve seen it all three ways recently. (I believe the official designation was “2”) New belt for Deano, which is pretty cool. The black leather looks way cooler than the red. Slugfest to start. Scott hits a backdrop for two, and reverses a piledriver for two. Suplex reversal goes Scotty’s way, but he showboats and gets killed. He tries the bulldog, but Dean rips his head off. Scotty bails and Dean rams him into the post for good measure. No blood is evident, sadly. Back in, Dean dropkicks the knee and works it like the MOFO he is. Dean is the MAN. Two shots around the post follow. Scotty tries to counter with an enzuigiri, but Dean calmly ducks it and slaps on a leglock. He hits a kneebreaker, but Scott gets the enzuigiri this time. Scotty tries a comeback, but a whip to the corner kills that dead. Dean’s lining up of the shots of the knee with surgical precision is a joy to watch and pretty funny in the way he mocks him at the same time. Who said he couldn’t get over in the WWF on wrestling alone? (Many people, although it left him well-suited for a successful career as an agent and trainer later on.)  Spinning toehold is countered for two. Both guys hit the floor and Scotty mounts the comeback. Back in, Scotty goes up but gets superplexed off. Double-KO, and Scotty is up first with a backslide for two. Cloverleaf is countered with a cradle for two. Powerbomb attempt is countered with a bulldog, and the Worm follows. Match loses ½* because Scotty hops ON THE INJURED KNEE. Dean kicks out and gets the rope-assisted two-count, but the ref sees it and breaks it up. Reversal sequence leads to a Ligerbomb for two from Malenko. Blind charges misses, but Dean gets a powerslam for two. Scotty dumps Dean, who recovers and goes upstairs, but Scott tries a superplex, which is reversed, in MID-AIR, into a DDT OFF THE TOP! HOLY SHIT! Scotty is DEAD, DOA, toe-tagged, six feet under, and the pin is academic at 12:58. That finisher gets the ½* back. ****  (One of the great, underrated undercard matches they just kind of threw in around this time, which shows why the Radicalz were such a giant blow to WCW when they left.)  – Bull Buchanan & Big Bossman v. The Acolytes. Punchy kicky stuff for the first few minutes that I can’t be bothered with. The APA may be over, but keep ‘em out of the ring. Faarooq plays Seminole-in-peril as nothing of note happens. Hot tag to Bradshaw, usual brawl follows. Bradshaw goes up but gets superplexed for two. Clothesline from Hell kills Bull, but Bossman bops him with his trusty nightstick, and a scissor kick from the top finishes it for the Bossmen. Bleh. *  (Bull Buchanan was a rarity in WWE, actually, in that he was the big bodyguard paired with the smaller comedy guy later on who did not in fact end up getting the bigger push out of the deal, and in fact was fired when the act was just getting hot.  Of course, the smaller comedy guy ended up doing OK for himself as a solo act anyway.)  – Hardcore title: Crash Holly v. Hardcore Holly v. Jeff Hardy v. Matt Hardy v. Tazz v. Saturn. Everyone takes turns getting two-counts on Crash, as the only way the match ends is by pinning him. Or him pinning someone else. We go running to the back right away, where Crash and Matt climb up one of the giant meat hooks that’s swinging at the entranceway. Matt kicks Crash onto the rest of the boys, then dives off onto them himself, drawing a “holy shit” chant. Camera misses it, for some reason. Jeff swings off the hook with a rana on Saturn. Back in, the Hardyz double-team Crash, then Tazz. Hardcore smacks people at random with a 2×4, because he’s hardcore. Saturn steals it and utilizes it. More weapons get involved. A roadsign to the head gives Hardcore a two-count on Crash. Back out, Crash gets creamed. Tazz and Saturn double-team him on the outside for a bit, then back in. Match drags a bit here. Tazz goes nuts with the roadsign to liven it up again as everyone keeps beating on poor Crash. A moonsault from Jeff and one from Saturn get a two-count. We end up with the Hollies alone in the ring, and Hollycaust on a chair gets two. The Hardyz bring a ladder in, to a big pop, and clean house with it. Jeff heads up and hits the swanton from the top, but Matt breaks up the pin. They fight over the pinfall, and Tazz sneaks in and hooks the Tazzmission, and THAT looks to be it. Saturn breaks THAT up with a wicked shot to Tazz, and everyone ends up outside the ring except for Tazz and Crash, and with Tazz still out, Crash is able to roll over and get the pin to retain at 12:18. That was quite the ending. ***1/4  (This was of course the usual hardcore mess, although it’s interesting that it was moving away from the household objects and fresh fruit of the Vince Russo era and into a slightly more realistic style here.)  – The Big Show v. Kurt Angle. As if Angle’s pre-match ranking out of Marion Barry wasn’t funny enough, Big Show one-ups him to infinity by becoming…the Showster! Complete with “Real American” music, skullcap, bad yellow tights and boots, and a dyed moustache. He runs through the pre-match promo, using “dude” about 14 times, and we are LITERALLY laughing so hard TEARS are running down our faces. (Remember when impersonating Hogan used to be edgy and funny?)  Kinda puts “Oklahoma” in perspective, doesn’t it? Angle attacks, and Show hulks up right away, sending us in howls of laughter until we’re all nearly rolling on the floor laughing for real. Big boot and legdrop only get two (what a shock) and the crowd is dying. In a good way. (Wouldn’t be so funny 2 years later when the real deal came back and everyone went crazy for the same old shit until he got the belt again.)  Angle works on the leg, so the crowd chants “Hogan” to show that they’re in on the joke and Show makes the comeback, hitting the chokeslam for the pin at 2:36. Match was a DUD, but for sheer entertainment this was, seriously, the funniest thing I’ve seen in a good five years. Sure, Angle jobbed, but people will be talking about this match for YEARS. (It’s true, people still remember this match 12 years later.)  – T&A v. The Dudley Boyz. From funny to “let’s get this over with”. Brawl to start, as Buh Buh chases Trish around the ring and gets clocked by Test. Into the ring, where the Dudleys work Albert. Three elbowdrops get two. D-Von comes in and T&A takes over with some energetic double-teams for a while. False tag for Buh-Buh. If this were 1987, Gorilla would be calling for another referee right about now. D-Von gets a fluke sunset flip for two, but Albert follows with a powerbomb for two. Crowd chants “we want tables”, and honestly I prefer that to “we want puppies”, because at least the WWF can deliver the first one. Hot tag Buh Buh, and they double neckbreaker (IT’S NOT 3D, JR!) get two. T&A misses the powerbomb-elbowdrop finisher, but Trish distracts Buh Buh in the middle of 3D. Big boot from Test finishes at 11:08. Match was passable. *1/4 Trish gets caught by Buh Buh and D-Von sets up the table. Trish tries the greco-roman liplock, but Buh Buh finally acts like a MAN and shakes it off, then delivers the powerbomb through the table that everyone was waiting for. Now hopefully that ends this insipid feud.  (There was quite the oddball psychology at play with the Dudleyz during this period, with the weird table fetish that kind of sexualized putting women through them as a stand-in for rape.  It’s like Russo was all about teasing sex, whereas Vince McMahon was about teasing violence, and as I noted here, violence was the thing that they could deliver so there was no real harm in playing it up like that.  Whereas with the puppies, it was endless teases of a payoff you were never going to get.  That’s interesting to me for some reason.)  – European title match: Eddie Guerrero v. Essa Rios. Eddie, my hero, drives his ’57 Chevy to the ring and proceeds to wrestle in his tuxedo. Well, he loses the shirt and jacket, but KEEPS THE BOWTIE, which is just unspeakably hip for reasons lost on me at the moment. (This of course was the point where Eddie, who had been entirely focused on ringwork and not personality, finally broke through and connected with the fans as a character.  And once again, it was a few months after WCW let him walk away.)  Quick reversal sequence to start. Eddie drops Rios on his head with a backdrop suplex and works the arm. Essa comes back but messes up the bouncy-bouncy armdrag sequence. And this is the important part: He DOESN’T repeat the spot. THANK YOU! Finally someone listens to me. Eddy nails the plancha and sends him to the steps. Back in, and the slingshot senton follows. Essa bails and Chyna kicks his ass. Back in, Eddie controls, but Essa comes back with a monkey flip which nearly causes Eddie to land on his head. Eddie dumps him and Chyna bitchslaps him again. Eddie follows with a plancha, and takes a while setting up a powerbomb on the floor. Lita climbs the ropes to attack, but Chyna pushes her off and into the table. (Can you fathom a time when Lita was stuck with a midcard loser like Essa Rios?  She definitely fucked her way up the corporate ladder.  Rios –> Matt Hardy –> Edge proved to be the smartest series of moves she could have made.)  Essa follows with a quebrada on Guerrero, slamming into the American table on the way down. Ouch. Eddie comes in but hits the floor again on the other side, and Rios follows with the INSANE cross-corner tope con hilo. Back in, and Chyna crotches Rios on the top rope, and Eddie superplexes him. He goes up for the frog splash, but Essa pops up and armdrags him back down. Moonsault hits nothing but knees, and Eddie finishes the challenger with his modified Gory special – the spinning neckbreaker drop – at 8:41. Started sloppy but got mondo cool. ***1/2 Lita rips Chyna’s prom dress off out of spite. Growl. (Chyna was of course in that special zone at this point right before Playboy where she was hot from the surgery and not yet exposed as being the total batshit crazy trainwreck psychopath that she became after quitting in 2001.)  – WWF Intercontinental title: Chris Benoit v. Chris Jericho. Let the Canadian violence commence! (Man, that phrase has lost all meaning to me now.)   Slapfest to start. Pinfall reversal sequence and then they KILL each other with chops. That’s the #1 pastime up here, you know – chopping. (Well, that and finding more and more obscure ways to change “ck” to “que” in everyday spelling just to fuque with visiting Americans.)  Benoit gets two of the triple suplex, but Jericho bails and Benoit follows with a MANLY tope suicida that sees him missing and landing on his head. (And we wonder why he ended up with brain damage.)  Stairs get dropkicked into Jericho’s crotch, however, just so he doesn’t feel like Benoit has to shoulder all the pain and suffering. Back in, Benoit beats him up and hits a gutbuster. Jericho misses a dropkick and Benoit catapults him into the turnbuckles and drops him on the top rope. Snap suplex gets two. Into the abdominal stretch, which Lawler mocks, so Benoit starts slamming right hands into Jericho’s side to actually make it look painful. GOD BLESS CANADA! (That shit would HURT.  I wish more people would do rabbit punches to the ribs and kidneys while delivering an abdominal stretch.)  Jericho breaks and hits the Lionsault, but can’t capitalize. It eventually gets two. Benoit delivers more chops, but Jericho hits the leg lariat off a blind charge. Bulldog gets two. Rollup gets two. Jericho blocks a suplex, but misses the springboard dropkick – and this is the great part – and Benoit acts as if HE MEANT IT TO HAPPEN THAT WAY. Benoit goes upstairs and gets crotched, and Jericho hits a backdrop superplex, but takes the worst of it. Benoit backslide is reversed to the double powerbomb, which gets a two count. Benoit slickly hooks the Crossface off the pinning attempt, however, and holds on for a LONG time, nearly breaking Jericho’s head off, until Jericho makes the ropes. Second try is reversed to the Liontamer by Jericho, and now Benoit makes the ropes. Ref gets bumped on a flying forearm, and Benoit grabs the belt and blasts Jericho. It gets two. Snap suplex on the belt sets up the headbutt, but Jericho holds the belt in the air and Benoit hits that…drawing the DQ at 15:04? Fuck! (Fuque!) Crowd boos the hell out of that finish, rightfully so. Even JR admits that “the decision sucked”.  (Or “suqued” if you’re from Canada) Jericho snaps and puts the ref in the Liontamer. Great match with a bad ending. ****  (Notice the trend of re-energized WCW exiles having great matches here?  Although Jericho and Benoit of course had crazy good chemistry together, like transcendent and incapable of having a bad match together chemistry.  They actually headlined the greatest WWF house show I ever attended, which was in 2000 not coincidentally, doing a home-and-home series in Edmonton and then Calgary.  In Edmonton, Benoit played the babyface and Jericho the heel and they had an effortless **** match with Benoit going over, and then went to Calgary and had a totally different match, with Benoit now the heel and Jericho the babyface, and it was apparently great as well.) WWF title match: HHH v. The Rock. Vince comes out and notes that Steve Austin will NOT be here tonight, no sirree. Big staredown to start. Slugfest goes HHH’s way, but Rock gets a quick elbow. Pedigree reversed and Rock stomps a mudhole. Shane pulls him off. HHH hits a neckbreaker during the interference. Brawl outside and Rock eats table. Vince sends him to the ringpost and tosses him back in for two. High knee gets a fast two. High suplex and kneedrop gets two, three times. Into the chinlock. Shane ignores the feet in the ropes, thus giving it a purpose. Rock fights out and gets clotheslined down for two. HHH pummels him in the corner, but Rock drops him on the top turnbuckle. Vince KO’s him with the title for two. Rock comes back and tosses HHH. Brawl outside, where HHH hurts his shoulder. Back in, Rock gets a DDT, but Shane won’t count, so Rock decks him. Back outside, Rock hits the stairs, and HHH goes for the Pedigree on the Spanish table. Rock reverses, however, and grabs BOTH HHH and Shane and delivers a double Rock Bottom through the table! That had to be seen to be believed. Back in, Vince attacks Rock, and Rock goes after him, only to get low-blowed from behind by HHH and Pedigreed. Shane is still dead, however, so no ref. Brisco and Patterson run out in ref gear and a big beatdown follows. Vince hits a wicked chairshot on Rock, and HHH goes for the final Pedigree…and THE GLASS BREAKS. The crowd goes INSANE as Austin (beer gut and all) uses a chair to destroy anything that moves. (I am of course not doing the crowd reaction here justice.  The arena came UNGLUED as Austin kicked everyone’s ass, and even watching at home 12 years later it still sends chills down your spine to see how perfectly booked and executed this whole deal was.)  Everyone is out cold except for Rock, and Linda leads Earl Hebner out, shoving Stephanie aside on her way. Back in, and Rock hits the spinebuster and academic People’s Elbow on HHH as Hebner comes in to count the pin at 19:22, and FINALLY it’s Game Over as the Rock is the 4-time WWF champion. ****1/2 (See, this was the one time where HHH’s usual theory about “I should go over everyone so that it’ll mean more when someone beats me” actually paid off the way it was supposed to.  He just got more and more heat through the early part of 2000 and Rock got more and more sympathy from the fans and you just wanted to see Rock kick the shit out of him and give HHH what was coming to him.  Test, meanwhile, was like “Oh yeah, you stole my fiancé and drugged and raped her in Vegas, whatevs.” and that’s why he wasn’t the Rock.)   Austin celebrates by towing the DX Express remains to the ring and sharing some cold ones with the Rock. The Bottom Line: Wrestling? On a wrestling show? But…but…Vince Russo said that it doesn’t matter! How can such a contradiction exist? At any rate, if there’s been a better PPV from any company within the past year, it’s news to me, because this one blew them all away in terms of wrestling, entertainment and sheer markout value. Everyone goes home happy and only one real clunker drags it down. Now THAT’S a PPV. Big, big thumbs up.  (Agreed, this was I think inarguably the best PPV of 2000, which is pretty high praise, but this would not have felt out of place as a Wrestlemania in a lot of ways.  The Rock-HHH main event is still one of my all time favorite matches for sheer entertainment value and marking the pinnacle of their feud, not to mention the financial highpoint for the company.  This was the time when they made a SHITLOAD of money, and it was well deserved.) 

Special Referee Shawn

Hey Scott,
Two quick questions about your rating of last night’s Hell In A Cell match between Undertaker and Triple H:  (1.) Would that match have been ***** without Shawn Michaels as the special referee? and, (2.) If so, was HBK’s performance the most influential of any referee in history?  No disrespect to Taker or HHH, but it seemed like HBK was nearly as important to the match as the two combatants because of the emotion he displayed.
 

Well last year there was no Shawn and it was ****1/2, but I don’t tend to rate matches based on the referreeing job anyway.  So for question, I’d say yes.  As for the second question, I’d say Earl Hebner probably will hold the record for a while yet. 

The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania XXVIII

The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania XXVIII Live from Miami, FL Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler Opening match, World title: Daniel Bryan v. Sheamus Well we knew that one of the World titles would be opening the show. Kind of a heel reaction for Sheamus for some reason. And then he hits Bryan with the Brogue Kick and pins him to win the title at 0:15. What the FUCK? The crowd is not terribly pleased about that. I was looking forward to seeing that match. Why even bother having it on the show? Unless they think that this was Bryan’s Honky Tonk Man moment where the heel finally gets his comeuppance, but people LIKE Bryan. Meanwhile, Team Johnny and their dorky t-shirts rally around Johnny Ace, in his Col Robert Parker suit. Kane v. Randy Orton Orton hammers away in the corner, but Kane EMBRACES THE HATE and fires back. Orton stomps him down and tries the draping DDT, but Kane drops him on the top rope and boots him down to take over. Seated dropkick gets two. Chinlock, but Orton slugs out until Kane boots him down for two. Sideslam gets two and Kane goes back to the chinlock. Orton with a neckbreaker for two and the crowd is dead silent. Can’t blame them. Delayed suplex gets two. And it’s ANOTHER chinlock. They couldn’t have made this one the 15 second win by the babyface? Orton flips out of the chinlock and gets the backbreaker, and the powerslam. Draping DDT (which Cole calls a bulldog, faceplant and DDT in succession) sets up the RKO, but Kane counters with a boot for two. Kane to the top, but Orton catches him with a dropkick coming down. Kane dodges the punt and chokeslams him for two. Kane gets upset and pounds away in the corner, but Orton dropkicks the knee and they fight to the top. Kane brings him down with a chokeslam and pins him at 11:00. Seriously? What is the point of Kane going over here? So that we’re gonna have to watch this shitty match AGAIN, but with stipulations? I mean, I’m no Randy Orton booster, but he’s been doing WAY too many jobs. This was slow and plodding and just never got going, and Randy didn’t even get to do the RKO so you KNOW they have to have a million rematches until he does. *1/2 And Kane has been on a rampage of sucky matches since his return. EMBRACE THE CRAP! Meanwhile, Santino and Mick Foley help plug the Deadliest Catch and eat crab. Shouldn’t Santino be getting ready for his match? Intercontinental title: Cody Rhodes v. Big Show Cody runs away to start and tries a dive, but Show catches him and tosses him back in. Show pounds away and gives him a stinkface in the corner, but Cody dropkicks the knee and elbows him down for two. Cody goes to work on the knee, but Show swats him down and makes the comeback. Cody goes up to escape and Show sends him to the floor, but Cody comes back in with the disaster kick. Another one is countered with a badly timed spear, and Show knocks him out and pins him at 5:18 to win the title. Another nothing match. ** Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos v. Beth Phoenix & Eve Kelly gets a rana on Eve for two, but a handspring elbow hits knee. Eve goes up and Kelly brings her down, giving us a double stinkface from the babyfaces. Maria’s makeup actually rubs off on Maria’s white pants, which prompts my wife to exclaim “What the hell is that on her ass?” and thus I have to stop and explain the mechanics of the stinkface to someone who doesn’t watch wrestling. That whole conversation is much more interesting than the match, as Maria plays celebrity-in-peril through a series of bearhugs by the heels, but Maria kicks Eve out of the ring to block the rumpshaking moonsault. Yeah, I can’t believe what I’m forced to type some days either. Kelly gets the hot tag and does her spinning headscissors on Beth, into a somersault senton for two. Huh. Beth comes back with the Glam Slam, but Kelly reverses it into a bulldog. Maria tags in again despite her injuries, and Beth collides with Eve and gets pinned at 6:50. Best match of the show thus far. Not really a compliment to the show, but whatever. **1/4 Hell In A Cell: Undertaker v. HHH Rather subdued entrance for COOHHH tonight, although the cell gets its own entrance music. Seriously. I’m surprised Undertaker’s new Mohawk didn’t get its own entrance, too. By the way, despite the pictures circulating before the show that made it look like a big black cage or something, it’s just the standard mesh cell. JR joins us for commentary, thank god. They throw hands in the corner and head to the floor, and HHH meets the stairs as Michael Cole brings up Jimmy Snuka as the first victim of the streak. Well, since he brought it up, how can I not mention that Snuka has a daughter named Tamina Snuka? They slug it out on the floor as the announcers keep talking about how it’s the END OF AN ERA, an era that we’ll never return to. What are they talking about? Anyway, back in the ring, Taker works the arm and goes old school. Back to the floor, and the stairs get pulled apart, leading to the guillotine on the apron by UT. HHH responds with a DDT and rams Undertaker into the stairs a few times, but can’t get a Pedigree on them, as Taker backdrops him off. HHH comes back with a spinebuster onto the stairs, and THAT had to hurt. He stupidly comes in blind, though, and Taker catches him in the gogoplata again. HHH quickly counters out with a slam for two. And now the chairs get involved, as HHH pummels him with one and runs him into the stairs. HHH lays in another beating with the chair, just destroying the back until even Shawn is offended. The crowd gets pretty uncomfortable as HHH just keeps pounding him with the chair, but of course Undertaker won’t quit. Finally HHH covers and gets two. More from the chair and Undertaker still won’t stay down, so HHH retrieves his trusty sledgehammer while he tells Shawn to stop the match or else. Undertaker won’t quit, so HHH levels him with the hammer for two. He goes to BASH UNDERTAKER’S SKULL IN, but Shawn finally grabs it from Hunter to save. Shawn is once again tempted to ring the bell, but Undertaker grabs him and puts him out with the gogoplata to prevent it. Well that’s one way. HHH breaks it up with the sledgehammer, but Undertaker kicks him in the nuts and locks in the gogoplata. HHH grabs the hammer like last year, but Taker chokes him out completely with Shawn Michaels also out cold. This brings Charles Robinson running out like a madman, because Shawn is ONE OF HIS PEOPLE now, and the chokeslam gets two. It’s ingrained into referees to run down whenever another striped shirt is in jeopardy. Taker takes out his problems on Robinson, chokeslamming him, but Shawn superkicks Undertaker, and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE gets two. THE SECRET PLAN! What an awesome near fall. The crowd agrees and chants about how awesome it is. HHH gets rid of Shawn again, but Undertaker sits up and he’s FUCKING PISSED. He beats the shit out of HHH and hits Snake Eyes and the big boot and legdrop, but the tombstone only gets two. Also an awesome near-fall. Shawn is nearly rocking in the corner like an emotional wreck. You have to love that. They slug it out from the mat and just keep firing away, but HHH gets another Pedigree for two. Undertaker recovers first while HHH crawls for the hammer, but Undertaker gets the chair. And steps on the hammer. Uh oh. HHH gets MAULED by the chair until Shawn finally steps in as the voice of reason, but Undertaker gives HHH one more shot and gets two. Well the chair was broken anyway. HHH gets the hammer again but he’s not really in much condition to use it, and now Undertaker is the one telling him to stay down. HHH takes one last swing, and Undertaker shrugs him off and takes the hammer like it’s a toy. HHH crotch chops him in response, so Undertaker lays him out with the hammer, pulls him up, and the tombstone finishes at 30:45. And there’s your second ***** match for the weekend. Just an amazing performance from both, as they just beat the shit out of each other and let it all hang out. I literally don’t think they could have produced a more perfect match given the guys involved, unless there had been blood or something. Shawn and Undertaker mend their fences afterwards, and everyone goes out together, because they’re real men who settled their differences like men, and now they respect each other again. That is what wrestling is supposed to be. Just fantastic. The Hall of Fame group is introduced, and yeah, Ric Flair is there. Edge with short hair is just wrong. Meanwhile, Heath Slater bugs Flo Rida and gets beat up as a result. Team Johnny (The Miz, Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, David Otunga) v. Team Teddy (Kofi Kingston, The Great Khali, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Booker T, Santino) As feared, everyone is wearing t-shirts and they don’t even get separate entrances, as each side uses the theme song of the GM. It just makes everyone look like such nerds. Kofi with a crossbody on Dolph for two, and Truth comes in for the double-team for two. Drew is in and he gets dominated by the faces and chopped down by Khali. Booker chops him in the corner and gets a sideslam for two, and he goes after the heels on the apron and gets laid out as a result. Swagger (who has new, non-American themed tights) comes in with a chinlock, and clotheslines Booker for two. Over to Henry, who pounds Booker down as the crowd is DEAD. Miz continues the beating to dead silence and Dolph drops an elbow for two. Miz comes in with his own chinlock as it just gets deader and deader and the crowd is literally silent. Finally Khali comes in with the big chop and they start randomly doing the wacky finisher spots, leading up to the babyfaces doing a triple dive onto the heels. The chicks get into a random catfight and we’ve got Santino and Miz left in the ring. Flying headbutt sets up the Cobra for two. Over to Zack and Dolph takes a crazy bump off a monkey flip. And of course Eve comes in and screws him over, allowing Miz to hit the stroke at 10:44 to give Johnny Ace both shows. Really, eleven minutes for that finish? Ryder’s getting pinned by Miz now, he might as well hang up his tights. And Eve turns on him formally afterwards and kicks him in the junk, as I guess we’re supposed to be shocked that heel Eve would do something bad to Zack. What a boring load of shit this whole thing was. You’d think it would be a bunch of comedy spots or crazy brawling or something, but no, just a super-dull tag match with the heat on Booker the whole time. DUD So yeah, to recap, Zack gets no revenge, gets pinned by Miz to lose the match, and Eve kicks him in the nuts to dump him. Great night for him. Meanwhile, Big Johnny waives the DQ rule in the WWE title match, just to mess with CM Punk. WWE title: CM Punk v. Chris Jericho They’ve certainly got a lot of time to save this show. They take it to the mat to start and Punk hits him with crossfaces and stomps him in the corner. They’re basically wearing matching outfits tonight, which is either a fashion faux pas or Jericho trying to play mindgames. Punk keeps pounding him in the corner and flirting with a DQ, so Jericho eggs him on with a comment about his dad and Punk pounds him with elbows. To the top, but Jericho rolls out to escape, so Punk hits him with a flying clothesline to the floor instead. Jericho: “How’s your SISTER?” So Punk grabs a chair and Jericho flings insults, hoping for the DQ, but Punk just spinkicks him instead, and Jericho regroups with a dropkick to take over. They head to the apron and Jericho clotheslines him back into the ring and then suplexes him to the floor. Now there’s a spot you don’t see often, for good reason. Back in, Jericho gets two. Backbreaker gets two. We hit the chinlock, and another backbreaker gets two. Senton gets two. Punk fights back and goes up, but Jericho yanks him down hard on the back of his head and gets two. Jericho goes to the surfboard and Punk escapes with the mule kick. This thing just isn’t clicking at all and the crowd, as usual tonight, is dead silent. Punk comes back with the leg lariat and neckbreaker for two. Jericho blocks the bulldog and tries the Lionsault, but Punk gets the knees up, so Jericho goes for the Walls, and Punk escapes that. High kick gets two. Punk goes up with the flying elbow, but he takes forever and Jericho gets his knees up and then hits the Codebreaker. Punk flies out of the ring on the sell, but he waits for Jericho to throw him back in and then hits a GTS out of nowhere. That gets two. Punk comes back with a powerslam for two. They trade back elbows and Jericho suplexes Punk onto the top rope and hits the Lionsault for two. “Not often you see someone kick out of the Lionsault” notes Cole. Except for every opponent of Chris Jericho, ever. They head up and Punk tries a rana, but Jericho hangs on and gets the Walls off that. Cool spot there. Punk quickly makes the ropes, and dumps a charging Jericho. This leads to Punk hitting a high knee that rams Jericho’s head into the post, and they head back in…where Punk springboards right into a Codebreaker. That gets two. Jericho stops to talk some trash and Punk tries the GTS, but Jericho elbows out and goes to the top, so Punk brings him down with a GTS…that Jericho counters into the Walls. Or rather, the Liontamer, but Punk fights out and cradles for two. Jericho reverses for two, so Punk turns THAT into the Anaconda Vice. Jericho rolls him over for two, but Punk hangs on until Jericho knees him in the head repeatedly to break. Back to the Walls, but Punk kicks him in the face and hooks the Vice again, moves out of the way of the knees, and Jericho taps at 22:18. Man, they took their sweet time getting into gear, but it ended up a near-classic with crazy drama and submission reversals. Unfortunately that beginning just dragged it down too far to fully recover from. ***1/2 Brodus Clay comes out and calls his mama. This leads to a big group dance number with dancers dressed as Brodus Clay’s mama. And this leads to nothing, as I guess they had too much time to use up and just needed the stupidest fucking thing possible. John Cena v. The Rock And after all those weeks of trying for the 50/50 reaction, John Cena gets booed out of the building. Team Edward and Team Jacob indeed. Although Twilight is so 2 years ago; kids killing each other in dystopian arenas is what all the pre-teens are into these days. Even with MGK doing his pre-entrance musical interlude. My god, who would boo Machine Gun Kelly? No friend of mine, that’s who. The Rock is looking JACKED tonight. Cena wins the epic lockup battle to start, but Rock wins the second try. Rock with the headlock and armdrags, into the majastral cradle for two. No ring rust there. Cena gets his own headlock, but Rock slugs him down and tries the Sharpshooter, so Cena bails. Back in, Cena hits a shoulderblock in the corner and lays Rock out with a clothesline, but it only gets one. Rock slugs away, but Cena dumps him and sends him into the table. Back in, Cena gets two and starts to wrestle quite heelish, stomping the ribs to set up a belly to belly suplex for two. Cena with the bearhug, but Rock slugs out of it and gets the DDT for two. Cena pounds the ribs in the corner, but Rock comes back with a clothesline and spinebuster…but Cena breaks up the People’s Elbow with an STF attempt. Rock escapes, so Cena gets the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, with a smile on his face during the Five Knuckle Shuffle. FU is escaped and they clothesline each other, but Rock is up first and it’s the slugfest. Rock stops to talk the trash, and Cena hits the FU for two. Rock pops up with Rock Bottom for two. Rock lays the smackdown in the corner, but Cena gets a sideslam for two. He goes up and gets the guillotine for two, as Rock took forever getting into position. Another FU is blocked, and Rock takes him down with the Scorpion King Deathlock, and he still can’t do it properly. Cena makes the ropes regardless, so Rock pulls him back and applies it again, and Cena gets the ropes again and bails to the apron. They brawl on the floor and Cena meets the stairs. Back in, Cena suddenly gets the STF and pulls Rock into the center to thunderous boos. Rock is the most awesome actor in the world because he actually makes it look like the move is painful and causing him to block out. That’s Oscar-caliber right there. And we go OLD SCHOOL, as the ref checks the arm, but Rock is up on the third drop. And he makes the ropes. Cena charges and walks into a samoan drop, and it’s the double KO spot. Rock is up first and slugs away, but Cena fires back into the ribs…and it’s SPINEBUSTER AND PEOPLE’S ELBOW. For two. Cena with a small package for two. The crowd goes crazy with duelling chants and Cena catapults Rock into the corner for two. Cena puts him on the top, but Rock sends him down again and goes AERIAL with the high cross, but Cena rolls through with the FU for two. Cena’s at a loss now and does a People’s Elbow for the hell of it, and ROCK BOTTOM finishes his ass at 30:38. Thank god they changed the finish. ****1/2 Rock was a bit gassed, but he just went 30 minutes after being retired for years, can you blame him? Other than that, tremendously epic stuff that delivered exactly what was promised. The Pulse I’m pretty sure 90% of the people buying this show were doing it for Rock/Cena and HHH/Undertaker, and both matches delivered tremendously, so that’s a thumbs up show from me. I just wish that something else had turned into a show-stealing classic to really elevate this thing to the upper tier of Wrestlemanias, but sadly nothing did and in fact a couple were really horrible from a quality and booking standpoint. Still, HHH v. Undertaker is well worth your $65 and I left happy that I bought the show.

Wrestlemania XXVIII

Wrestlemania XXVIII
Date: April 1, 2012
Location: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida
Attendance: 78,363
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler
America the Beautiful: Lillian Garcia

As I wrote out that title, I almost started shaking. Today is Wrestlemania Sunday. In less than two and a half hours, the show is going to begin. This is the day that we as fans wait for all year long. Everything ends tonight and at the same time, everything begins. You all know the card by now, but for those who might forget, the main event is John Cena vs. The Rock, Once In A Lifetime (until ratings go down and we need a rematch). Let’s get to it.

First up we’ve got a pre-show match as a bonus.

Tag Titles: Justin Gabriel/Tyson Kidd vs. Primo/Epico vs. Usos

Primo/Epico have the titles and have beaten the Usos about five times already. Kidd and Gabriel are teaming for the first time after Kidd asked Gabriel if he wanted to be a team. Gabriel said yes, and apparently that qualifies you as deserving a title match. New tights for the Usos here. Josh and Striker are doing commentary for this match. This is under WCW rules as in three in the ring at once, but in a twist you can only tag your own partner.

Jey, Tyson and Primo start things off. Primo is sent to the floor and Tyson gets two off a sunset flip. Primo comes back in with a missile dropkick as Jey gets beaten down. Kidd makes the save but gets DDTed for two. Primo loads up a superplex on Jey but Tyson springboards up to make it a Tower of Doom in a cool twist on the traditional spot there. Tags bring in Epico and Jimmy but I think Kidd is still legal for his team.

Jimmy comes out of the corner with a spinning cross body and a Bubba Bomb for two. Tag to Gabriel who jumps over Jimmy but walks into a Samoan attack. Back to Jey who hits an assisted Samoan Drop. Jimmy tags in quickly for a double Rikishi attack to Epico and Gabriel. Epico gets dropped onto Primo so Jey can hit a HUGE dive onto both of them.

Kidd pops up on the apron but Jimmy launches him to Jey for a Samoan Drop. Gabriel sets for a top rope Asai Moonsault and hits it on his second attempt. Better safe than sorry on that spot. He tries the springboard 450 but (mostly) hits knees. Backstabber by Epico pins Jey at 5:05.

Rating: B-. Really fun opener here with the six smaller guys being thrown out there to fire up the crowd. That’s what cruiserweights and hot Latin women that can shake their hips were made for so you can’t ask for much more than that. I’m a big Uso fan so seeing them on Wrestlemania was a cool thing to see. Very good start to the night.

Lillian opens us with America the Beautiful. She even sings the second verse.

The opening video is about how this is the beginning, which includes a set of clips of the beginning of a lot of guys’ careers, including some shots of Cena in OVW. We also get some shots of the main guys’ careers. It’s the four in the main events only, which makes sense.

Smackdown World Title: Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan

Makes sense. Might as well make this the most worthless world title match in company history given the build for it so far. Cole and Lawler are calling this alone. Bryan has his robe here and AJ is looking GREAT. We get the kiss to start and Brogue Kick and it’s over in 8 seconds. I kid you not it was that fast.

We have 7 matches left and almost four hours to go. Each match could conceivably get 20 minutes each.

Miz fires up Team Johnny in the back. They don’t seem to care until Otunga comes in to introduce Johnny in a white suit. He says this is going to be a night in the ranks of Hogan slamming Andre and Austin refusing to submit to Bret.

Win a trip to Wrestlemania 29.

Kane vs. Randy Orton

This is over Kane shaking Randy’s hand last year and hating himself for it. I can’t imagine this feud isn’t going to continue after this. Seeing Kane in daylight in the welder’s mask makes him look pretty ridiculous. Kane takes him into the corner to start as I think the fans are chanting for Orton. Well it’s longer than the previous match at least. Orton escapes a chokeslam and stomps on the foot/ankle.

Elevated DDT (called a bulldog by that idiot Cole) is countered and Kane drapes him over the top rope for a big boot. This is Kane’s 14th Mania which has to be up there on the all time list. Kane takes him down and it’s off to a chinlock. Orton fights up with punches but runs into the uppercut for two. Side slam gets two. Kane again stops Orton’s comeback and hits a vertical suplex for two.

A headbutt slows Kane down and Orton spins out of another side slam via a backflip. Orton’s backbreaker puts Kane down but his clotheslines don’t do much. There’s the powerslam and Kane’s shoulder goes into the post. Kane comes back and goes up but his clothesline is countered by a dropkick in a cool spot. Orton loads up the Punt but runs into the chokeslam for two. Kane is frustrated so he does an Undertaker situp.

He pounds Orton down in the corner but Randy comes back with a right of his own. RKO is countered but Orton kicks the knee out again. Randy charges into an elbow and Kane goes up but there’s Orton again. Orton pounds him down on the ropes and goes up with him. He loads up something but Kane grabs him by the throat and gets the pin with a super chokeslam at 10:55.

Rating: B-. This was my upset pick and I wasn’t disappointed. That ending was pretty cool too as it looked great. Orton usually brings it at Wrestlemania and this was no exception as he got a decent match out of Kane. I’m likely overrating it but this is a match I’ve wanted to see for years.

Santino is with a captain from the show Deadliest Catch. They’re having I think king crabs and Mick Foley is with them. He puts on a yellow hat and talks like a pirate but the captain tells him no one talks like that. There are Socko and The Cobra and they attack the crabs. Ron Simmons comes in and you know the rest.

The National Guard is awesome.

Intercontinental Title: Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes

The idea here is that Big Show can’t win at Wrestlemania and Cody has made fun of him for it. Cody immediately bails to the floor and Show goes after him. Cody has red trunks tonight. He dives onto Show on the floor and is tossed back in via a SCARY show of strength. Show destroys Cody with chops and gives him a Stink Face. Cody goes after the knee to get Big Show down which is smart.

Show is down on the mat now as Cody shouts about how this is his moment. He hooks a standing leg lock and Show is in some trouble. He starts to get up but Cody drapes the arm across the top rope to slow him down. Disaster Kick (I guess it’s no longer Beautiful) staggers Show but a second attempt results in a spear. WMD gives Show the title at 5:23.

Rating: D+. I wasn’t wild on this but it’s a good way to get the title off Rhodes. That being said, I don’t buy the whole “Show gets his moment” deal at all. He was in the main event before, so how exactly is winning the IC Title in about 5 minutes a bigger deal? Doesn’t work for me at all, but this should be enough for Cody to move up the ladder.

Show cries post match and kisses I’m assuming his wife.

Video on what it means to be a Diva. This would be better used with the sound off.

Maria Menounos/Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix/Eve Torres

This is a REALLY risky move as the other four matches are Punk vs. Jericho, the Cell, the main event and the Battle of the GM’s. That’s a stacked final four matches and I’d be worried about them overcrowding the second half of the show. We get the video of the evil ones invading Extra. Maria arguing back at them is still horribly bad. She has a legit case of bad ribs due to Dancing With The Stars, plus stress fractures in her feet.

The sun has gone down now and the stadium looks awesome. Eve and Kelly start things off. Kelly charges into a boot in the corner but the moonsault results in her getting crotched. Here’s Maria and it’s a double Stink Face. Beth kicks her in the bad ribs and Eve goes with a bodyscissors. Maria fires off some decent elbows as the fans chant for her to tap. Beth comes in with a modified bearhug but Maria fights out and tags Kelly.

The annoying screaming blonde does her usual stuff but adds a Molly Go Round for two as Eve saves. Glam Slam is countered into a bulldog and there’s the tag to Maria. She….goes up and this isn’t going to end well. Beth drills her and sets for a gorilla press, but Kelly gets her down and shoves Beth into Eve so Maria can get the rollup pin at 6:54.

Rating: C+. You know, given the amount of injuries to Maria, this was really impressive. That girl legit tries out there every time and you can’t ask for more than anything than that. Decent match and the Kelly flip dive wasn’t bad. When Kelly is the worst worker in a match that involves a celebrity, you know there’s a problem.

Shawn says this match is the end of an era. If HHH loses, it’s the end of the Game. Shawn thinks it’s ironic that he can end an era.

New attendance record: 78,363.

JR is here to call the rest of the show. Is that a beard on him?

The Undertaker vs. HHH

Well this is quite the first hour main event. It’s 8:03 and we’ve got four matches left, which means this and Rock vs. Cena are going to need to be about 35 minutes each. They can do it but that would be a lot. This is billed as The End of an Era, but I don’t know what HHH is exactly putting up. If he loses, it’s the same thing as last year. This is inside Hell in a Cell and Shawn Michaels is guest referee.

No buildup package so I’ll help you out here. Taker beat HHH last year but had to be carried out, so he asked for a rematch. HHH didn’t want to do it so Taker played the “Shawn is better than you” card to get him to say yes. The rest of it was a lot of ego stroking and here we are. HHH’s big entrance this year is him coming out of something that looks like Vader’s old helmet with spikes on it.

Shawn’s shirt isn’t tucked in. It’s Wrestlemania and he’s that sloppy? I think we need a new icon. Taker’s robe looks like it has muscles painted onto it. Or does it look Japanese? These entrances still give me chills, even if he’s bald under there. We get lightning, thunder and smoke as always. His head isn’t completely bald but it’s close enough. It’s almost a mowhawk with hair on the side of it if that makes sense. That look kind of works on him actually.

The Cell is lowered to Memory Remains by Metallica. Slugout to start and JR calls Taker’s punches carcinogenic. HHH comes back so Taker throws him into the corner. The haircut is attributed to HHH not giving him a rematch immediately. Ok then. Out to the floor and Taker goes into the Cell. Now HHH goes into it and is backdropped. This appears to be the taller model with the very little space between the cage and the ring.

Taker pounds on him and chokes on the floor. Shawn tries to break up the choking but Taker knocks him away. Into the cage again as Taker has controlled so far. HHH goes into the steps and we go back inside. The Facebuster is no sold and Taker clotheslines him down. Old School connects and HHH is down. Back to the floor and Taker rams the steps into the Game’s face.

The steps are placed in the ring and Taker this the legdrop (loathsome according to JR) on the apron. Back in HHH grabs a DDT from out of nowhere to put both guys down. HHH rams Taker’s head into the steps three times and tries a Pedigree on the steps which is countered into a backdrop. Taker charges into a spinebuster onto the steps but he manages to grab the Hell’s Gate which won the match last year. In a REALLY impressive counter, HHH picks him up into a powerbomb for two.

We’re ten minutes into this and it feels like we’re only in the beginning. Here are two chairs from HHH and one goes into Taker’s ribs and back. The steps are set up in the corner and Taker gets whipped into them. HHH throws them out of the ring and there’s another chair to the back of Undertaker. The Game goes Stone Cold with the chair and Shawn tries to stop him but can’t.

Shawn finally throws the chair out and HHH says if Shawn wants it to end, then end it. HHH grabs the other chair and shoves Shawn down to beat on Taker some more. That must be about 20 shots with it so far. Taker specifically says not to stop it when Shawn asks. Taker gets up and a shot to the ribs and back puts him right back down, getting two. HHH heads to the floor and there’s the sledgehammer.

HHH says he doesn’t care as he’s basically turning heel mid match. He keeps telling Shawn to end it but Taker keeps saying no when Shawn asks to end it. Sledgehammer to the face gets two. There appears to be some blood over HHH’s eye and oh yes there is. It’s not bad but it’s certainly there. HHH sets for a BIG shot to Taker’s prone head but Shawn stops it and throws the hammer to the floor.

HHH keeps shouting at Shawn to end it because Taker is done. Shawn pulls his finger up to end it but can’t do it. He looks at Taker and thinks about doing it again but still can’t do it. Now he looks at Taker again…and Taker puts Shawn in the Hell’s Gate! HHH hits Taker in the head with the hammer but Shawn is down now. HHH sets for a big hammer shot but Taker kicks him low and puts the Hell’s Gate on again.

There’s no Shawn and HHH drops the hammer. HHH tries the powerbomb counter but can’t do it. He grabs the hammer again but passes out. No wait he’s back up. Taker’s face is a meme in waiting. Shawn is still down and Taker has to let the hold go due to exhaustion. Both guys are out. Here’s Charles Robinson who unlocks the cage to a ton of booing. Chokeslam to HHH gets two. Robinson gets a chokeslam for the count. Eh you knew it was going to be Shawn to count the fall so that’s no shock.

The fans think this is awesome and they would be correct. Shawn kicks Taker into the Pedigree but it gets a VERY close two. I really thought that was it. That didn’t happen at all last year which makes this even better than last year. Shawn is distraught that he almost counted the fall after interfering. HHH has the hammer again and he throws Shawn to the floor. The Game goes after Taker with the hammer but Taker sits up, making HHH fall down in fear.

Here’s the Big Dead Comeback with all of his old favorites. Snake Eyes into the big boot is followed by a legdrop. Tombstone plants HHH but only gets two. Not even a close two either. Shawn looks like he’s about to cry in the corner. They slug it out from their knees to their feet and HHH Pedigrees him out of nowhere for two. It wasn’t a great one so it’s a bit more believable. Taker sits up again and grabs a chair. HHH has the hammer but Taker steps on it. Now HHH takes the beating with the chair and the chair is bent. All of the shots only get two though.

Shawn yells at both of them to let it end already. HHH tries to grab Shawn to pull himself up and gets the hammer. Taker can’t follow up and HHH is in agony. He tries a hammer shot but Taker blocks it due to HHH’s exhaustion. Now Taker has the hammer and HHH shoves him away. There’s a crotch chop so Taker hits him in the face with the hammer. Shawn turns his back on the match and the hammer is thrown to the floor. There go the straps and the throat slit sets up the tombstone for the pin at 30:53.

Rating: A+. I liked this a lot better than last year’s. Of the four matches these three have combined for, I’d put this at second best after HBK vs. Taker I, which is pretty high praise. Great match with some great drama and there were actual moments here where I thought the Streak was over, namely the DX Special finisher. Shawn added something here, but I don’t think it was as epic as they were shooting for. The Cell wasn’t a huge factor but it did add something to it as far as a visual goes. Great match and I loved it.

Shawn pulls Taker to his feet post match. Both of them help HHH to the back in a cool visual.

Hall of Fame video. It’s cool to see Flair up there.

Here are the Hall of Fame inductees. The Fink does the intros which is good. That man belongs at Wrestlemania. Tyson does a crotch chop of course. Edge is on the stage and gets his theme music played. No one says anything but it’s cool to see Flair there. Note that I said there and not in the ring.

Win a trip to Wrestlemania 29!

Josh is about to talk to Flo Rida when Heath freaking Slater says interview him instead. Flo Rida comes out and Slater asks about a duet. That gets a no so Slater wants to be a DJ or backup dancer. Those both get a no. Flo Rida says Slater can hold his mic. Slater gets in his face and Flo Rida shoves him into a wall. Hawkins and Reks come in to laugh at Slater. Ok then.

Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy

Johnny: The Miz, Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, David Otunga (captain)
Teddy: Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Booker T, Great Khali, Zack Ryder, Santino Marella (captain)

Otunga has his coffee cup with him too which is awesome. Vickie and Horny are flagbearers. The winning GM controls both shows. Eve is with Ryder. Aksana looks good in the Teddy shirt. Dolph and Kofi start things off and Dolph takes over. Kofi comes back with a top rope cross body for two and here’s Truth. Spinning legdrop gets two but Ziggler dropkicks him down.

Off to Drew who gets caught by the Lie Detector. Khali comes in and chops a bit before Booker gets the tag. Side slam gets two. JR is gone now. Otunga gets in a shot to Booker and Drew’s big boot allows him to tag Swagger. Why is swagger in aquamarine? He’s an ALL AMERICAN AMERICAN. Swagger takes him down and it’s time for Henry. He does absolutely nothing so it’s time for Miz.

Running knee lift gets two and it’s off to a chinlock. Back to Ziggy for a knee drop and then back to Miz. Booker finally gets some breathing room but Henry comes in for the World’s Strongest Slam. Khali chops Henry down and everything breaks down. Kofi/Truth hit double dropkicks to send the heels to the floor. For some reason they throw Horny onto Henry and then along with Ryder hit stereo dives to the floor. Aksana spears Vickie as the match is a mess.

Booker and Miz are down in the ring at the moment but there’s the tag to Santino. Santino does his usual stuff and the saluting headbutt from the top. Cobra is loaded up but he stops to go after Johnny. Cobra to Miz gets two as Dolph makes a VERY close save. Tag to Ryder who monkey flips Dolph and a neckbreaker takes down Miz. He loads up the Rough Ryder but Miz throws him onto Ziggler. He loads up the Broski Boot but Eve comes in for no apparent reason. The distraction lets Miz hit the Finale on Ryder for the pin at 10:42.

Rating: C. Was Otunga ever in the match? This was pretty much exactly what was expected with Eve screwing over the team “by mistake” and Johnny’s team winning. I don’t think anyone ever thought Team Teddy had a chance and even further ends the Brand Split, which is more or less dead already. No issues here for the most part.

Eve kicks Ryder in the balls post match and walks off with her hand on her hip.

Extreme Rules is in four weeks.

Alex Rodriguez and Torrie Wilson are here.

Video on what WWE has done for Miami.

Ace brags to Punk a bit about the win. If Punk gets disqualified, he loses the title. That sounds like the perfect setup for a rematch where Punk can’t get disqualified at Extreme Rules.

Raw World Title: Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk

If Punk, the champion, gets DQ’ed, he loses the title. We get a quick video recapping Punk’s rise up the roster and Jericho saying that Punk has addiction in his blood. They go to the mat quickly and Punk stomps away on him in the corner. Jericho slaps him as he’s trying to get disqualified. Punk stomps to four and then stops each time which is a nice touch. Jericho slaps him two more times and then hides. Punk dropkicks him in the corner and pounds on him to four again.

Jericho shouts about Punk’s father, earning him more elbows to the head. Punk loads up the Macho Elbow but Jericho rolls to the floor. Punk is cool with that and hits a top rope clothesline for two. Jericho asks about Punk’s sister which draws a chair from Punk but he won’t swing. A line about Punk’s sister being a drug addict doesn’t do it so Punk kicks him in the ribs instead. Punk throws the chair away and walks into a bottom rope dropkick (yes a bottom rope dropkick) to take the champion down.

Back elbow puts Punk on the outside. They go to the apron and Punk tries a GTS but the Canadian escapes and clotheslines Punk back in. Jericho suplexes him to the floor and it almost looked like a Jackhammer. Back inside that gets two. Butterfly backbreaker gets the same. Jericho is working on the back to set up the Walls. Off to a chinlock and then a kick to the back. Surfboard submission goes on so Punk jumps up into a dropkick to the gut in a nice counter.

Punk counters the bulldog by sending Jericho into the corner crotch first. CM makes his comeback with kicks and chops, plus a neckbreaker for two. Punk hits the knee in the corner but the bulldog is countered. Lionsault gets knees but Jericho counters into the Walls but that gets countered. Sweet sequence. High kick gets two and Chris is down. The Macho Elbow looks awkward as it looked like it hit but I think Jericho put his knees up, which doesn’t do much good for an elbow. That looked weird.

Codebreaker hits but Punk rolls out. Jericho throws him back in but walks into the GTS. Punk can’t cover immediately though and Jericho gets his foot on the rope. Another high kick misses but a powerslam gets two. We get a series of standing switches resulting in Jericho draping him over the top and hitting the Lionsault for two. Chris goes up and Punk tries a rana, but Jericho counters into the Walls in a sweet counter that I’ve seen him use before. Punk of course gets the rope but getting there was cool.

Jericho charges at him but Punk backdrops him to the floor. Punk is holding his back and Jericho stands in perfect position for the suicide dive from Punk. The fans are a little dead for some reason. I don’t get why as this has been a good match. In a SICK spot, Punk hits the running knee to the head of Jericho while it’s against the post.

Punk tries the springboard clothesline but jumps into the Codebreaker for two. That would have been back to back losses at Mania due to the springboard for Punk. Two GTS’s are countered and Jericho is getting frustrated. He goes up but Punk kicks him in the back. GTS is countered AGAIN, this time into the Liontamer and then the Walls. Punk crawls for the rope but Jericho drags him back into the middle.

The champ crawls through the legs into a small package and they reverse it a few times but Punk counters into the Vice which Jericho counters into a rollup for two but he can’t break the hold. Now Jericho knees him in the back of the head and FINALLY breaks the hold, countering into a Walls attempt. Punk counters THAT into the Vice and this time he leans his head forward so Jericho can’t knee him. Jericho is forced to tap at 22:23.

Rating: A. ANOTHER awesome match here. That finishing sequence was absolutely awesome with some SICK counters. I’m not sure if I’d call it a masterpiece or anything, but these two nailed it and it looked like Punk outsmarted Jericho using psychology he gained throughout the match, which is great stuff. Loved this and it’s another great match on a GREAT show so far.

Mania 29 will be in New Jersey.

FUNKASAURUS!!! AND HE’S TALKING!!! I don’t think most people care about him. He asks people to pull out their phones because they’re going to call their mamas. Brodus calls his mama and says he wishes she was there. His mama is here with the bridge club apparently. She was in the back….and he didn’t know it? She’s a woman with really weird hair and what has to be……oh my goodness the bridge club is all here to dance with her. There must be 20 old women out there dancing. I think I need a minute.

Go see G.I. Joe 2.

Clips of the Once in a Lifetime special to hype up the main event. If you don’t get the story here, go look it up.

Diddy introduces some rapper to sing one of the theme songs. The rapper defines an underdog who apparently is Cena in this. Uh….not quite but ok.

John Cena vs. The Rock

Writing that gave me a chill. Cena is booed but it’s not horrible. We get his traditional shot from the back as he runs to the ring. There’s a new green shirt too. Ok now he’s getting booed. There’s nothing really special to Cena’s entrance this year. Once Cena is in the ring Flo Rida does the other theme song to the show with a full set of backup dancers. Now some chick comes out to sing another song with him. Could the timing on this be worse?

Rock’s entrance really could have done without the dance troupe behind him and it made things look a bit less epic than they were going for. He looked like he was going in for a big fight though and that’s the important thing. We get a shot from above the stadium and it looks AWESOME. We get big match intros. This is really happening. Oh THERE are the boos for Cena. There are some cheers and it’s nowhere near MITB but it’s up there. Big pop for Rock as expected.

The bell rings at 10:24:42 after about a minute of staring. My heart is beating out of my chest as I can’t believe it’s finally here. They lock up and Cena shoves him off. He looks like he lost five pounds of air with the exhale after that. The dueling chants begin and it’s certainly not a one sided crowd. Rock shoves Cena off. That’s so Hogan (in a good way). They lock up again and Rock grabs a headlock.

They fight over a wristlock and Rock does Owen’s counter into a pair of armdrags and La Majistral for two. He did that at Survivor Series and Cena still looks stunned. Cena whips him in and gets perhaps the highest leapfrog I’ve ever seen into a headlock takeover. No one has an advantage of note after about four minutes. Rock lowers his head for Cena to kick him and Rock pops him with a right.

Cena charges and Rock tries a Sharpshooter, but John rolls to the floor. Rock catches Cena coming in but Cena sends him into the corner and hits some shoulders. Clothesline gets one and Rock gets to the rope. You know it occurs to me: Cena has an experience advantage here and a big one at that. He’s been in WWE going on ten years, whereas Rock was around less than seven in total, and that’s stretching A LOT.

Rock fires off some punches but misses a charge to send him to the floor. They’re starting slow but we have almost half an hour for the slow build. Rock gets dropped on the barricade and they go to the floor. Cena drops the ribs into the announce table and sits in the ring. Back in the ring and Cena is in control. Belly to belly gets two as he keeps working on the ribs. Now a bearhug which is a smart move. Cena’s power is often forgotten until the end of the match so this makes sense.

Rock fights out of it with punches and a DDT, but Cena fights back. Now Rock comes back with punches and the jumping clothesline. Spinebuster looks to set up the elbow but Cena picks the leg for an STF attempt. That gets countered so Cena comes back with the shoulders and ProtoBomb. The Shuffle hits but the AA is countered and they clothesline (kind of) each other.

They slug it out and Rock takes over with faster punches. He tries to do You Can’t See Me but Cena grabs the AA for two. NOW this is getting good, almost fifteen minutes into it. That’s not a bad thing mind you as it’s about what happens in every main event match. Cena might have a cut next to his nose but it’s not bad. Cena goes after Rock and gets caught in the Rock Bottom for two. Rock hammers him in the corner but walks into a side slam for two.

Cena goes up and takes forever, but manages to hit the top rope Fameasser for two. Out of nowhere Rock grabs the Sharpshooter and somehow it’s gotten even worse. We’re over twenty minutes into this and Rock is getting frustrated. Sharpshooter goes on again and he’s just pulling on the feet instead of wrapping his arm around them. They go to the floor as we’re over 20 minutes into this.

Cena goes into the steps and Rock is in full control so far. John goes into the steps again but as they come back in he sunset flips Rock (that boy can JUMP) but instead of covering he hooks the STF. The leg is bent in a freaky way. Rock almost gets the rope so Cena lets go and pulls back to the middle of the ring. Rock is starting to fade and he’s not very close to the rope. The referee takes forever to check the arm and it drops once. It drops twice, but on the third try Rock continues to channel Hogan (again awesome) to raise the arm. He FINALLY makes the rope and we’re not done yet.

We’re 24 minutes into this so it’s got to be running short on time. It’s 10:49 now so it can’t break forty minutes. Cena is tired but he walks into a Samoan Drop to put both guys down. They slug it out and both finishers are countered. Spinebuster puts Cena down and there goes the elbow pad. The People’s Elbow hits for two. Cena grabs a small package (easy big fella) for two. John grabs a slingshot to send Rock into the buckle and a rollup gets two.

Cena drives him to the corner and puts Rock up on the second rope. He looks like he’s setting for a superplex but Rock shoves him off. Rock looks very tired and I can’t blame him. It’s his first singles match in about 9 years and he’s going half an hour. Rock goes up top (huh?) and tries a cross body but Cena rolls throug and flips him onto his shoulders for the AA for TWO. I thought that might have been it. It’s 10:54 and they’ve gone thirty minutes now. John looks at his hand, takes off the wristband, and sets for the People’s Elbow but walks into the Rock Bottom for the pin at 30:40. WOW.

Rating: B+. I have no idea what the point of that is, but they did it. The match was never going to be able to live up to the hype and I don’t think it was going to ever be able to do so. I really don’t agree with the ending as there’s no incentive for a rematch now, Cena looks like he can’t beat a guy that’s been retired almost longer than he was active, and it does nothing for the guys sticking around. I don’t get it at all. Good match, close to great, not a masterpiece.

Rock poses to end the show.

Overall Rating: A+. This was an incredible show and one of the best Wrestlemanias I’ve ever seen. I was really worried about the pacing of the show for awhile but they pulled it off really well and it never dragged. There were multiple classics and that’s exactly what Wrestlemania is supposed to be. When the worst match is probably the Divas, that’s definitely a good sign.

As for the main event, it was indeed very good but I didn’t like the ending. Granted that’s two minutes after it so maybe that’ll change. I don’t hate it, but I don’t like it that well at the moment. Still though, it’s a very good match to end an amazing show and we’ll have to see where things go from here. Absolutely worth seeing though.

Results
Sheamus b. Daniel Bryan – Brogue Kick
Kane b. Randy Orton – Middle Rope Chokeslam
Big Show b. Cody Rhodes – WMD
Maria Menounous/Kelly Kelly b. Beth Phoenix/Eve Torres – Rollup to Beth
Undertaker b. HHH – Tombstone
Team Johnny b. Team Teddy – Skull Crushing Finale to Ryder
CM Punk b. Chris Jericho – Anaconda Vice
The Rock b. John Cena – Rock Bottom

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Wrestlemania Predictions and Plug!

Hey Scott,
Thanks again for participating.  I just posted the feature on my blog.  Hope you enjoy it.  Thanks again!
http://acaseoftheblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/true-or-false-4-with-scott-keith.html 

No worries.  Hopefully I can destroy your blog as well.

Since we’re on the topic of the big show, let’s do some predictions!

Rock v. Cena

It’s been a year of Rock getting the upper hand on Cena, and now he’s gonna lay down.  In his hometown.  This might seem like a bad idea to anyone who doesn’t want a riot in Miami, but they just don’t understand the genius of Vince McMahon.  I think that later when cooler heads have prevailed and Steve Lombardi is doing the talking head portion of the documentary DVD featuring this match, they’ll be like “Perhaps we shouldn’t have done that finish” like they speak about putting Jericho v. HHH on last at WM18.  I don’t think it’ll be clean, I think ADR (who has said “I’m not at Wrestlemania” way too publicly) will run in and do the Rhonda Rousey gimmick and try to break Rock’s arm while Cena and the ref are out, and Rock will gut it out and hit the People’s Elbow anyway, but the pain will then be SO SEVERE from ramming his injured elbow into Cena’s superhuman pecs that the ref will stop the match and award it to Cena, perhaps throwing up the X sign.  Then Cena will be all “Yo, Del Rio, your cars suck and you ruined my match with Rock, let’s fight for the next 5 PPVs in an escalating series of stipulation matches.”  MARK THAT SHIT DOWN.

HHH v. Undertaker


Really, the major question here is will there be blood?  And yeah, they’re gonna go all Daniel Plainview.  Shawn Michaels can carry a match even when refereeing, he’ll tease screwing Undertaker over so that we get the insane near-fall where everyone thinks the streak is over, and in the end Shawn will count HHH down and out to continue the streak.

CM Punk v. Chris Jericho


I feel like the storyline possibilities of Jericho winning the title and sending Punk to rock bottom, only to regain it in Chicago, are much better than Punk winning here and Jericho being all “I’m invoking my mandatory Wrestlemania rematch lazy writer’s clause, beeyotch!” so they can fight again.  Plus Jericho has never won the World title at Wrestlemania, so that would be good for him.

Daniel Bryan v. Sheamus


You’d think Sheamus would have to win, but boy are they seemingly in love with heel champion Daniel Bryan, so the temptation might be too great for them here.  If they do, they MUST pull the trigger on Divas champion AJ so they can celebrate together.  NO WAIT.  Scratch that, Sheamus wins here, AJ wins the Divas title the week after, and Bryan starts THAT belt around like it’s his accomplishment and never lets AJ actually acknowledge her own success.  THAT’S the winner winner chicken dinner, so I’m changing my prediction to Sheamus kills him clean by powering out of  the Lebell Lock into the White Noise for the win.

Team Teddy v. Team Johnny


Team Johnny wins somehow.

Big Show v. Cody Rhodes


I don’t see why Big Show would care about the IC title or why they’d want to put it on him, but Cody really has a beating coming to him and they booked it as a title match, so the only really logical payoff is Show winning the belt.  Unless they go with “Cody gets himself DQ’d to retain so that Show wins, and then Show beats the holy hell out of him and does something really embarrassing to Cody to give Cody his own Wrestlemania Moment” type of deal, I dunno.  OR!  The match never happens.  Show gets attacked backstage by, whatever, Christian or Del Rio or whoever he’s programmed with next.  Cody is like “ha ha, you BIG SHOW’D your shot at me, so I guess there’s no title match”, bam, FUNKASAURUS, and Cody gets destroyed and humiliated so that Show can replay THAT Wrestlemania moment and mock him.

Divas Match


I don’t care.  Unless Tamina is involved somewhere, and then you know I’ll be all over it.

Kane v. Randy Orton


Hopefully he punts the stupid mask right off.  RKO and Kane EMBRACES THE JOB.

I think that’s everything.  How good will this show be?  Should be pretty damn good.  Cena-Rock will obviously be awesome, HHH-Undertaker should be good-great, Jericho and Punk are both giant wrestling nerds wrestling for the World wrestling title at Wrestlemania so you know they’re gonna try to steal the show, and Bryan is in an insane zone of greatness right now so that should be good.  I will definitely get my $65 Canadian out of this one, I’m sure.

Buyrate prediction:  Just under one million.  If they did the wrist notes angle on last week’s RAW, then 1.3 million buys, but they did a lot of harm in the two weeks leading up to the PPV because they had nothing further to say with the characters.

Volleyball and Wrestling Are About the Same, Right?

As previously reported, Triple H hired Canyon Ceman to be the new Senior Director of Talent Relations. Ceman replaces Ty Bailey and will be heading up the developmental system. Ceman is an All American volleyball player as well as a volleyball executive. Some have questioned how he can be the right guy to scout and develop talent, but WWE officials are said to be high on him and are touting his sports management knowledge.

Source: Figure4Online

I was all for Triple H taking over for Vince McMahon, but due to this decision I am starting to second guess it. The problem people have with Johhny Ace because of his lack of knowledge, but at least Ace knows something about wrestling. I’m unsure about what a guy who played volleyball and is a volleyball excessive knows about wrestling. If he’s going to have a major role in scouting the talent, I’m not saying WWE is going to go out of business, but if this guy knows nothing, they’re making the same business decisions that were detrimental to WCW. What are they going to do next hire a pizza guy to run the creative department? 

The point is: people who know little to nothing about the wrestling business shouldn’t be in it when it comes to handling with the talent, and there’s a sizable track record that makes statement have truth and merit. Maybe I’m wrong and this will work out because this guy’s been secretly a passionate wrestling fan for all his life, but most likely they hired this guy to find sex-symbols and guys who have the best looking abs and muscles. This doesn’t look very promising for the revolution of the developmental system and creating new stars. If they don’t want to hire people in the business, why don’t they hire an ex-amateur wrestler? I mean look at how many wrestlers became success that were once amateurs and they’re somewhat similar.

Wrestlemania Countdown: 26

(Someone had requested a repost of this, and since I can’t retrieve the 2012 Scott sez version from the other server at the moment, you’ll have to settle for the boring unadorned version.)  The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 26 – Live from Phoenix, AZ – Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & Matt Striker Unified tag team titles: Big Show & The Miz v. R-Truth & John Morrison Morrison dropkicks Miz to start and the faces hit legdrops for two. Truth hits Show with a leg lariat, but walks into a fallaway slam. Show pounds Truth down and goes up for a pump splash, but Morrison kicks him down and Truth gets two. Morrison comes in and runs wild on Miz, but misses Starship Pain, giving MIz two. Morrison counters the Stroke for two, but Show tags himself in with the KO punch to finish at 3:22. Really, that was it? *1/2 Ted Dibiase v. Cody Rhodes v. Randy Orton Not sure how this is a triple threat match when it seems to be more clearly a handicap match. Orton dumps Rhodes , but gets dropkicked by Dibiase to set up the Legacy beatdown. They take turns pounding away on him, but Orton tosses Dibiase for a comeback. Rhodes with an Alabama Slam for two, but Legacy erupts for some reason and brawls to the floor. They look like such geeks here. Orton comes back with clotheslines and powerslams, but Dibiase stops the RKO. Rhodes accidentally nails Dibiase with a pescado, and Orton brings both geeks back in with the DDT. Orton sets up to finish Rhodes, but then changes his mind and punts him instead. RKO kills Dibiase dead at 8:58. Holy cow did Legacy ever look like the jobbiest pair of jobbers who ever jobbed there. This didn’t work at all, but the crowd was very into Orton so there was that. ** Meanwhile, Santino Marella bites into a magic Slim Jim that turns Jillian Hall into a series of wacky people. Yeah. Money In The Bank: Kofi Kingston v. MVP v. Evan Bourne v. Jack Swagger v. Shelton Benjamin v. Matt Hardy v. Dolph Ziggler v. Kane v. Drew McIntyre v. Christian Kane is sporting an impressive shiner before we even start. Big trainwreck to start and everyone climbs the ladder until Swagger and Hardy are left. Kofi knocks them off, but Christian monkey-flips him into a ladder in the corner. Christian climbs, but gets zig-zagged to the mat. Ziggler goes up and MVP brings him down. Kane brings MVP down, but all the black guys gang up on him in the corner. Shelton clears the ring and climbs, but Swagger knocks him off, then Bourne comes off the top onto him. Bourne looks eerily like Eddie Guerrero in standard definition. Weird spot with Christian and Matt sandwiching Swagger between two ladders while he stands under the main ladder. That leads to Christian fighting it out with Bourne on a ladder ramp. Evan wins that and climbs, but Hardy takes him down, then takes a sick backdrop bump onto the horizontal ladder. Everyone gets car crashed to the floor and Kane beats on Dolph in the ring. A couple of poor ladders get murdered, so Kofi takes a broken one and uses it as stilts in the most innovative spot I’ve seen in years. Sadly, Drew comes in after doing nothing, gets rid of Kofi, and climbs. Matt Hardy thankfully gets rid of him and makes his attempt, but Christian makes the save. They fight it out and Christian brings him down with the inverted DDT. Christian and Swagger fight for it next, and that gives Swagger the case at 13:39, after he takes forever to unhook it. Well that’s a waste of a briefcase as it stands. This was the same as it always is, a bunch of cool spots and sick bumps. ***1/4 Next month: Extreme Rules! Presented by KFC! EXTREME CHICKEN! HHH v. Sheamus HHH being this far down the card worries me. They trade shots in the corner and HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Sheamus backs off quickly. Sheamus pounds away, but HHH hits him with a suplex and kneedrop for one. Sheamus bails, and HHH clips him on the way back in and follows with the figure-four. Sheamus makes the ropes quickly to break, and sends HHH into the stairs as Matt Striker tries to get “Ace of Spades” over as a new nickname for HHH. Really? Is this a thing now? He’s already the King of Kings, does he need the whole damn deck of cards? Sheamus takes over with a pair of backbreaker variations and stomps a mudhole in the corner. Axehandle gets two. Sheamus slugs away for two and goes to a chinlock, but HHH makes the comeback. He goes up and Sheamus tries to bring him down with the Razor’s Edge, but HHH slips out. Sheamus gets a pump kick for two. HHH gets the spinebuster for two. Sheamus bails to the apron and gets a pump kick there, but KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes him at 12:05. I’d say Lawler’s “70000 people just witnessed a classic!” was a bit much, but this was fine. **1/2 CM Punk v. Rey Mysterio Rey is paying tribute to the Na’vi tonight instead of his usual superhero garb. I was looking forward to an Iron Man outfit, too. Oh well. Punk attacks, but gets taken into the corner. Rey hangs himself in the Tree of Woe and gets abused by Serena, and Punk drops him onto the stairs for good measure. Back in, Rey comes back with a bodypress, but Punk turns it into a powerslam for two. Punk ducks a low kick and rolls him up for two. Punk with the high kick for two. Rey comes back with a somersault DDT off the top, which looked pretty cool. Punk blocks the 619 and Rey escapes the GTS. Rey makes it to the apron and goes up with a frog splash, but that misses and Punk gets two. High knee in the corner sets up a powerbomb attempt, but Rey reverses into the 619. Serena throws herself on Punk to stop it, but Rey hits it on the other side instead and finishes with the big splash at 6:30. Kind of surprised they’d blow it off so fast without even going down the “Rey goes straight edge” road. It was also pretty short, like everything else tonight thus far. I did enjoy the “big stadium match” feel they gave it. **3/4 No Holds Barred: Bret Hart v. Vince McMahon Really there’s only one possible finish here. So Vince decides to stack the deck beforehand, bringing out the entire Hart family as his enforcers. Well I’d expect that from Diana and Bruce and especially Smith, no doubt, but I though Natalya was made of sterner stuff. And Bruce is the special referee, still wearing his stupid sunglasses. But Bret reveals that they were already onto him and now the Harts will screw Vince over. So Bret attacks and chokes Vince down, and the Hart Dynasty immediately drags Vince out and kicks his ass. They add a Hart Attack from the top rope to the floor, and back in Bret drops elbows on him. Vince bails again and the Harts drag him back out from under the ring, but now he’s got a crowbar. Bret gets it away from him without much trouble and beats him down (“That’s an international object!” declares Striker), and he teases a Sharpshooter before going back to the crowbar for a bit. And then he stomps on Vince’s nuts a few times, which always adds an extra star to the rating. Bret grabs a chair and takes a seat while Vince recovers, then lays waste to Vince with the chair. Like, Rock-Austin from WM 17 tribute time. Never let it be said that when it comes time for Vince to get his ass kicked, he doesn’t go out and give it his all. And finally the only thing left is to make him tap to the Sharpshooter at 11:09. Everyone said all they wanted as Bret kicking Vince’s ass for 10 minutes and then making him tap, and that is what was delivered to the letter. If this was in Canada the heat would have been off the charts the whole time. But it wasn’t. Wasn’t really a match and it’s not fair to rate it as such, but it was about *1/2 given the physical conditions of both guys. Smackdown World title: Chris Jericho v. Edge Edge puts him down with a pair of shoulderblocks as Cole notes Jericho is a six-time World champion. That can’t be right, can it? Edge gets a flapjack and goes for the spear early, but Jericho bails to escape and heads back in for a baseball slide. Back in with a Jericho backdrop suplex for two. We hit the chinlock and Jericho pounds away in the corner, but misses a blind charge. He comes back with a suplex onto the top rope, but misses a dive and gets sent into the announce table. Back in, they fight on the top and Edge faceplants him for two. He goes up with a flying bodypress, rolled through for two. Jericho tries the Walls, but Edge powers out and gets a sunset flip for two. Jericho tries the Codebreaker and gets sent into the corner to block, but Edge tries a spear and Jericho turns it into the Walls. Edge reverses into a small package for two. Lionsault misses and Edge gets the Edge-O-Matic for two (am I the only one in the world who still calls it that?), but Jericho with an enzuigiri for two. Edge hits the Impaler for two. Jericho gets a forearm off the top and sets up for his own spear, but walks into Edge’s boot. Edge tries his own, but walks into the Codebreaker. Well really, he waited for the crowd to chant “spear”, what did he expect? That gets two. So now we get to the meat of the match, as Jericho starts stomping on the Achilles tendon and then gets the Walls again (wouldn’t an anklelock be more apropos?), then turns it into a half-crab on the injured ankle. Edge channels his inner Dan Hardy and makes the ropes, then rolls up Jericho for two. Cactus clothesline puts them both on the floor, and the ref is bumped. Jericho nails Edge with the “championship” and gets two. IT’S A FUCKING BELT, MICHAEL COLE! A championship is an abstract concept, that is a BELT. Codebreaker finishes clean at 15:43. Really? That was actually looking it was going to be a good 20-25 minutes once Jericho started working the ankle. Oh well, Edge is boring as a babyface anyway. They really need to have the Royal Rumble winner actually win one of these years, though. This wasn’t “close the show” great, but it was never boring and the finish totally made sense. I’m also glad to see Jericho get his first Wrestlemania win since, what, 2001? ***3/4 Edge snaps afterwards and spears Jericho off the announce table, showing that he’s a sore loser as well as a choker. Layla, Vickie Guerrero, Maryse, Michelle McCool & Alicia Fox v. Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres, Mickie James, Gail Kim & Kelly Kelly Man, Vickie is the like best sport ever. All the good girls beat on Vickie in the corner (triggering an impressive screech from Vickie) and then all the women get to do their finishers. This leaves Beth with Vickie, as Vickie has a panic attack in the corner before getting rescued by McCool. The heels actually send Vickie to the top for a “hog splash” that gets the pin on Kelly at 3:20. I’m sure Eddie was flattered to have that tribute paid to him. DUD – Quick question: Why are they using an Audioslave song from 6 years ago as an “official theme”? Did they overpay usage rights and need to burn off some airplay or something? The band doesn’t even exist anymore! RAW World title: Batista v. John Cena Cena’s ridiculous entrance this year: A military honor guard. Because he once played a former Marine in a movie. Batista looks trimmed down and it works well on him. They do the lockup battle and Batista gets a headlock, but Cena reverses to his own. Batista clotheslines him out of the corner and pounds away, then adds a boot from the floor. Cena fights back with a suplex and a bulldog for two. He goes for the FU early, but Batista reverses into a sloppy DDT for two. Big boot gets two. We hit the chinlock and they slug it out until Cena backdrops out of a facelock. Cena makes the comeback (7 minutes in?) with his usual run of stuff, but it turns out that Batista CAN see him, and hits him with a spinebuster. Cena reverses into the STF, but Batista makes the ropes without too much trouble. Batista spears him for two. They fight on the top and Batista goes down, allowing Cena to hit the five knuckle shuffle off the top. Batista comes back with the powerbomb for two. Cena tries the FU, reversed by Batista, reversed again by Cena to the FU for two. The crowd is going apeshit for this stuff. They’re really doing the big superhero v. supervillain match well. Cena goes up and tries the legdrop, but he lands in a spinebuster. Batista goes for the bomb, but Cena rolls through into the STF. Batista taps at 13:29 to give the title back to Cena. These guys have mad chemistry together, especially in a big match situation like this one. **** – The two title matches would make this a thumbs up show on their own, so anything that the main event delivers will just be gravy. Streak v. Career: Undertaker v. Shawn Michaels Shawn fires away with chops in the corner, but eats Snake Eyes and a big boot. Corner clothesline and Taker tries to go Old School, but Shawn pulls him down. A second try hits, however. Taker pounds away in the corner and sets up for the tombstone, but Shawn slips out and fights for a crossface. Taker fights that off, but nearly takes the superkick before slipping away. Shawn decides to work on the leg in the corner, but Taker slugs him down and clotheslines him to the floor. That sets up a tope attempt, but Shawn slides in and clips the knee to stop him. Taker tosses him and runs his back into the post, then drops the guillotine legdrop on the apron. Back in, Shawn takes him down with a figure-four, but that only seems to make Undertaker really, really mad. He reverses the move and Shawn releases, and they slug it out. Shawn puts him down and kips up, but it’s a chokeslam for two. Tombstone is reversed into an anklelock by Shawn, so I guess that’s why Jericho couldn’t have it. Taker kicks him in the head a few times to break, but Shawn clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a moonsault. Taker catches that and tombstones him on the floor, and you have to figure that’s not good for Shawn’s career. An EMT runs down to check on Shawn, but Taker beats him up and rolls Shawn back in for two. Last Ride, but Taker’s knee gives out and Shawn gets two. Looked bad. Shawn goes up and drops the elbow, but Taker gets his knee up to block and Shawn takes the bump on his ribs. Ouch. Taker tries Hell’s Gate and Shawn rolls it over for two. They both struggle up and Shawn superkicks him for two. Shawn cues up another one, but Taker catches it and counters to the Last Ride for two. That was a giant near-fall. A frustrated UT tosses Shawn and preps the announce table, but Shawn escapes a powerbomb and superkicks him onto it instead. And given that it’s Wrestlemania, Shawn can’t resist a moonsault from the top, which puts Taker through the table. He even hits the knee, which is either a great bit of psychology or a lucky miss. Back in, Shawn adds one more superkick…for two. This match needs Jim Ross so badly. Shawn wants another one, but Taker chokeslams him. No cover, as he opts for the tombstone instead, and that only gets two. The crowd is just going insane now. Taker’s had it and he pulls the straps down, but he stops because he doesn’t want to end Shawn’s career. Just awesome facials from Shawn, as he gives Taker’s throat-cutting gesture right back to him, and then slaps Taker. And that’s it, as Taker tombstones him extra-super-duper hard for the pin at 23:57 to end it. If this was Shawn’s last match (which it’s not), he went out with another Wrestlemania classic. However, I just don’t think it was as good as last year, because expectations were so ridiculously high. ****1/2 Now hopefully he doesn’t go to TNA and job to Hogan again. The Pulse: Everything that was supposed to deliver, delivered, and the main event was suitably epic and had the clean finish we needed. Huge thumbs up this year!

Wrestlemania Countdown: 27

The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 27
(2012 Scott sez: Oh, wait, this is 2012 Scott. Never mind.)
Live from Atlanta, GA.
Your host is THE ROCK. Plus Josh Matthews & Jerry Lawler & Michael Cole, who is trapped in a GLASS CASE OF EMOTION.
Smackdown World title: Edge v. Alberto Del Rio
Edge has Christian with him, and ADR has pre-Funkasaurus Brodus Clay, which is kind of a weird role to see him in now. They slug it out to start and Del Rio goes to the arm right away, but Edge dumps him. He charges and runs into the railing, allowing Alberto to further beat on the arm, and back in for two. Del Rio chokes away on the ropes and pounds the arm again for two. To the armbar, but he misses a blind charge and hits the floor, allowing Edge to follow with a flip dive. That had to be killing him. Back in, Del Rio brings him in with a top rope armdrag for two. Edge comes back with a leg lariat as this thing is not clicking in the least. Edge with the flapjack for two, but Del Rio goes back to the arm and tries the cross-armbreaker, but Edge counters into the Edge-O-Matic for two. They trade rollup attempts and Del Rio rolls into the armbreaker, but Edge makes the ropes. Edge to the top, but Del Rio brings him down with an enzuigiri for two. Christian brawls with Brodus to kick off a feud that went nowhere, and Edge cradles for two. Impaler sets up the spear, but it misses and Del Rio gets the armbreaker, which should have been the finish. Edge fights through and cradles for two, however, and gets his Cloverleaf thing. Spear finishes at 11:14. Pretty blah opener, especially for a World title match, although obviously we now know the circumstances behind it. **1/2 Clearly the finish should have been Del Rio tapping him out to the armbar and then going on to drop the belt to Randy Orton after Extreme Rules, because this way Del Rio never got any momentum behind his main event push. And really, Edge’s offense is much more suited to a big stadium atmosphere than Del Rio’s arm work was, which also caused the match to suffer. Edge and Christian, sore winners, get revenge for winning by wrecking ADR’s car with crowbars. What did he do to warrant that? There’s offbeat shenanigans and then there’s outright vandalism!
Cody Rhodes v. Rey Mysterio
It’s Captain America for Rey this year. And of course this is the blowoff for Cody’s Dr. Doom gimmick, which lasted a surprising amount of time and did very well for him. Rey gets a rana from the top right away, but Cody puts him down and pounds him in the corner. Disaster kick gets two back before it was a finish for him. Rey with a flying headscissor attempt, but Cody reverses into the Alabama Slam for two. He chokes Rey out and goes to a nerve pinch, and they head to the top for a rare delayed superplex from Rhodes. That’s something you don’t see every day. He goes for Crossroads to finish, but Rey dumps him to give us TWO Michael Cole-isms at once: “Building momentum” and “Creating separation”. Back in, Rey with a pinning combo for two. Rey tries the Rube Goldberg bulldog, but Cody counters into a suplex for two. Rey sets up for the 619, but Cody catches him and gets the catapult for two. He pulls Rey’s knee brace off, but that allows Rey to recover with a moonsault for two. Rey removes Cody’s mask in response, and hits the 619 to the NAKED FACE, but the flying splash hits knee. Rey puts on the evil mask himself (although judging by his past problems with masks at WM, this might be a mistake) and gets a diving headbutt for two. The Atlanta crowd now gets behind Cody, who retrieves Rey’s kneebrace in a nice tit-for-tat moment, waffles him with it, and finishes with Crossroads at 12:00. That was a clever finish that was actually explained well by the announcers for once. I heartily endorse this event or product! ***1/4
Meanwhile, Teddy Long and Snoop Dogg audition various doofuses, leading to Roddy Piper laying out Zack Ryder while singing “Friday” and Hornswoggle rapping. Well this was certainly a use of time.
Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Ezekial Jackson & Wade Barrett v. Big Show, Kane, Santino & Kofi Kingston
AKA the “Get a bunch of people a payday match”. Amazingly, Slater & Gabriel were the tag champions just a year ago, and Barrett was the IC champion. The guys trade finishers to start and Show punches out Slater for the pin at 1:33. And that’s that. That kind of goes against Cody Rhodes’ argument about Show not winning at Wrestlemania. ½*
Meanwhile, The Rock runs into Mae Young, Eve Torres and Steve Austin.
Randy Orton v. CM Punk
Punk cost Orton the WWE title at Royal Rumble, due to Orton punting Punk TWO YEARS BEFOREHAND. Now that’s a grudge! And they say chicks don’t let things go easily. They quickly brawl to the floor and Punk boots the stairs into Orton’s knee, then comes in with a flying bodypress for two. Punk works on the knee, but Orton comes back with a neckbreaker. Punk catches a high kick and does a sort of jawbreaker onto Orton’s knee, and that gets two. Orton is kinda way overselling the knee for 3 minutes into a match. Punk with the running knee for two, and he sets up for the GTS, but Orton fights out and tries the RKO. Punk manages to counter that with a high kick for two. Punk to the top again, but Orton brings him down via the crotch and sets up for a superplex, giving us a great look at a “Randy Orton Orange-O-Meter” sign. That man really is quite orange. Punk survives the superplex and rolls out, wrapping Orton’s knee around the post and getting a ringpost figure-four in the process. Back in, he goes back to the knee and here’s where the announcers should have been like “Orton is in pain with every offensive move he makes!” instead of 5 minutes ago. Punk controls with a leglock, but Orton fights out and gets the powerslam. Backdrop suplex gets two. Punk boots him down and snaps on the Anaconda Vice, but Orton rolls him into the ropes to break. From there it’s the draping DDT and he sets up for the RKO, but Punk is down for a while so he changes his mind and opts for the punt instead. The knee gives way on the run-up, however, which is an interesting twist, but he was just suckering Punk in. RKO is blocked by Punk and he slides out of the ring in a nice bit of wordless acting from both guys. Punk comes in with a flying clothesline, but that’s reversed into the RKO at 14:49. Would have worked better if he had punted Punk to end the feud, but this was a pretty great finish as is. ***1/2 I know this one didn’t get much love at the time, but I think removed a bit from the disappointment surrounding the show it was a really good match where they delivered the best they could. And really, Orton did some good goldbricking at the end there and Punk’s facials were tremendous. Of course, both guys would end up as World champions later in the year, too.
Meanwhile, Mean Gene meets with the Rock and introduces him to John Cena’s #1 fan, Pee Wee Herman. About as hilarious as it sounds, maybe even less.
Michael Cole v. Jerry Lawler
Steve Austin is of course the referee here as they cram in every overbooking trick they can. Cole hides out in the Cole Mine while Lawler beats up Jack Swagger and then runs Cole’s face into the plexiglass. Lawler kicks Cole’s ass for a while in the box and they head in to start the match for real, but Swagger attacks Lawler from behind. An anklelock allows Cole to take control right away and work on the ankle. Cole goes up for a Swaggerbomb, but then opts for one off the first rope instead, and that gets two. Cole looks ridiculous out there, but I guess that’s partly intentional. Although this is insanely long already for this kind of match. The crowd starts a “boring” chant as Cole pulls down a strap and applies an anklelock, but Lawler fights that off without breaking a sweat. Lawler stomps a mudhole, prompting Swagger to throw in the towel, but Austin wants none of that. Swagger DEMANDS that the match be stopped, and that earns him a stunner. Cole pleads with Steve for his life, but Lawler makes his comeback and beats on him as this thing just keeps GOING. Lawler busts out the dropkick in honor of his Wrestlemania debut and goes up with the fistdrop for two. And he applies his own anklelock for the submission at 13:51. They gave this FIFTEEN MINUTES?!? Should have been 3 minutes, tops, with Cole getting his offense and Lawler laughing it off and beating the crap out of him to finish. Booker T leaves his announce position and gets a stunner afterwards, just because. BUT WAIT. It’s the Dusty Finish, as the Anonymous GM chimes in and reverses the decision to really kill this thing dead. -***
HHH v. Undertaker
I was listening to the year-end awards show on the Observer site, and Dave and Bryan were talking this up as even better than the Punk-Cena ***** classic from Chicago. HHH’s extended “For Whom The Bell Tolls” intro is pretty awesome, as is the Undertaker’s Johnny Cash theme. Probably cost a ton of money just for the entrances alone, though. HHH slugs away in the corner to start, but gets tossed and they brawl outside. Taker clears a table right away, but HHH spears him into the Cole Mine (now there’s a concept that thankfully died a quick death) and heads back in. They exchange fisticuffs again and Taker gets the flying clothesline, but HHH blocks the old school ropewalk and sends him to the floor. Into the railing, as the upside of only working once a year becomes evident. Hey, if you’ve got the financial security to be able to afford only match per year, you might as well leave it all on the table so to speak. HHH is already trying a Pedigree on the table, but Undertaker backdrops him to the floor instead. JR is worried about his internal organs, so you know it’s painful. The replays show that, yeah, HHH just took a flat-back bump off the table and onto the mat. Ouch.
HHH is standing, so Undertaker hits the annual Wrestlemania tope suicida, thankfully not killing himself this year. He sets up the stairs but can’t hit anything as we get more and more teases and setups, but he charges instead and HHH counters with a spinebuster through the Spanish table! Holy shit, they’re just letting it all hang out. Back in, Taker catches him with a chokeslam for two as JR is really talking up the end of the streak. UT wants the Last Ride, but HHH slugs out of it and then pounds him in the corner. Oh, that’s not smart, Cerebral Assassin. Taker indeed tries the powerbomb, but HHH escapes and sets up for the Pedigree, which Undertaker escapes, but HHH gets another spinebuster for two. That was a great sequence of two guys knowing each other. He grabs a chair, but Taker kicks it back in his face and then just UNLOADS with it. Safely on the back, I should note. However, he pauses for dramatic effect, and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for two. HHH sets up for a superplex, but this time Taker does hit the Last Ride, and that gets two. Tombstone time, but even with the pose it only gets two. The chair is still around, so Taker picks up HHH and tries again, but this time it’s reversed into a DDT on the chair and both guys are out. They both pull themselves up on the ropes in a cool visual of two guys fighting through it to continue beating each other up, and HHH recovers first with the Pedigree for two. Kicking out of two Pedigrees? Is this guy CM Punk or something? And it’s a THIRD one for two. Holy cow.
HHH grabs the chair and goes all Steve Austin-at-WM17 on him, but Taker is old and stubborn and won’t stay down. So it’s a VICIOUS chair to the face, and UT got his hands up so fast that it looked unprotected. The crowd’s kinda freaking out a bit now because Taker is getting the BEATS put on him, and he can’t even do the zombie situp. HHH suggests, gently, that Undertaker stay down again, but Taker keeps fighting, so HHH resignedly gives him the famous tombstone…for two. If I was watching this live, I would have bet money that it was going to be the finish and the streak was over. So with all rational options exhausted, HHH gets the trusty sledgehammer to end it for good. However, HHH gets sucked into the gogoplata while trying to bash Taker’s head in. I hate it when that happens. HHH is equally stubborn and won’t tap, instead grabbing his hammer and threatening one last skull-bashing before finally dropping it and then tapping out at 28:54. It definitely wasn’t as good as Punk-Cena (one of the greatest matches of all-time), but it certainly wasn’t “two guys hitting finishers and then laying around” like others have accused. They were two guys who wanted to let it all hang out at Wrestlemania, with Undertaker stubbornly refusing to die (great choice of song to reflect that, even!) and HHH hitting everything he had and then letting his temper force himself into the one mistake that allowed the beaten Undertaker to win. I also the minimalist approach to it, as it gets portrayed as a brawl with a bunch of shortcuts, but it was really only one chair and one table and the rest was the in-ring finishers doing all the damage. Not something I’d want to watch over and over, but it was definitely something that deserved the viewing at least once. Not the Match of the Year by any means, but I’d call it a solid second place. ****1/2 The pace was slow, however, because Undertaker really is an aging and beat up old guy. So it’s obviously a very effective role for him to play during a match.
Dolph Ziggler, Layla & Michelle McCool v. John Morrison, Trish Stratus & Snooki
Man, Laycool just disappeared off the face of the earth, didn’t they? McCool, who looks about 90 pounds here, slugs it out with Trish to start and then counters the Matrix with a stomp to the gut. Trish reverses the Styles Clash into a facebuster, and tries the headstand headscissors, but ends up tumbling to the floor with Michelle instead. She keeps coming with a double clothesline onto Laycool and a rollup of McCool for two, then lays her out with the chick kick for two. Dolph brawls with JoMo, which leads to a Starship Pain on the floor, and Snooki comes in with a handspring elbow on McCool and a splash to finish at 3:48. Just time filler in a show that didn’t need any more filler, but nothing offensive. * Of course, this match ended up helping to seal Morrison’s fate, as he bitched on Twitter about how Melina should have been in Trish’s spot here and pretty much earned himself a pink slip.
WWE title: The Miz v. John Cena
You know, lost in the Miz’s fall from grace is the equally tragic plummeting of Alex Riley from main event manager of the WWE champion to modern day Superstars job guy. John Cena’s Wrestlemania entrance has now progressed to a full gospel choir. Test of strength to start and Cena goes to a headlock, but Miz stomps him down in the corner. Cena gets a gutwrench for two and MAN is this crowd dead now. Taker-HHH must have destroyed them. Miz with a DDT for two. Miz misses a charge and Cena goes up with the guillotine legdrop for two. But he misses his own charge and Miz takes over again with a boot for two. Another big boot gets two. Miz puts him on the apron and gets a kneelift for two as Cena is off on another world, which I believe turned out to be Cena knocking himself silly at some point early on. Cena comes back with the five knuckle shuffle, but Miz reverses the FU into a DDT for two. Miz undoes a turnbuckle, but Cena cradles for two and hooks the STFU. Miz quickly makes the ropes, but A-Ry runs Cena into the EXPOSED STEEL and Miz gets the Skull Crushing Finale for two. They sell it like a big near-fall, but the crowd just gives it a sarcastic “TWO!”. Another try, and now the ref is bumped, because that’s EXACTLY what this boring match needed. Riley lays out Cena with the briefcase and Miz gets two. Miz charges with the case and accidentally hits Riley, but Cena’s FU only gets two. That would have been a really flat finish anyway. They head outside and Cena clotheslines Miz into the crowd, then follows with a spear over the railing where he CRACKS his head on the floor. Oh man, that was scary. Both guys are out and it’s a double countout at 14:48. Well that’s just an awful finish. *1/2 However, The Rock is OUTRAGED at this bullshit and comes out to restart the match himself. So Cena tosses Miz back in, but Rock turns on him with a Rock Bottom and leaves, allowing Miz to get the pin and retain the title. I am just astonished at how badly this entire show was booked at times. And then Rock beats the crap out of Miz, too. And that’s Wrestlemania, ladies and gentlemen!
The Pulse
Holy crap, minus Undertaker-HHH that’s a pretty dire PPV, Wrestlemania or not. Traditionally one awesome match influences my rating upwards, but we’re in the digital age now and that awesome match is already on a “Best of 2011” DVD, so fuck this show. Strong recommendation to avoid and I’d put this one solidly in the bottom third of Wrestlemanias.

Vinceosity

“Hey Scott,
This is Matt Foster, fos4545 from the blog.  Sorry I
haven’t been at the blog for a while, I just got
married and started a new school year at a new school
and the kids are kicking my ass right now.
Anyway, I have a question/statement/musing:
With all of this McMahoning going around on RAW and
the DVD, it seems like the pinnacle of Vince being all
over TV.  Raw just doesn’t seem motivated, the
characters are bland, and the writing is at best
boring, and at worst offensive.
My question is, what if this isn’t Vince’s fault?  I
think the Attitude Era worked because Vince was
tempered by creative, extroverted personalities like
Austin, Rocky, Foley, HBK, the Undertaker, and the
rest.  Even HHH was a thousand times more entertaining
when he was getting over as the best wrestler in the
world.  It was entertaining because each guy was in to
their gimmick and running with it full force.  Now the
only people that seem to do that on Raw are Edge,
Umaga, and Vince himself.  Cena was a phenom until he
became bored and watered down.  What the hell ever
happened to having a personality on this show?
I guess in all this rambling, what I’m trying to say
is that the crapability of the WWE may not be all
Vince’s fault.  I’m sure if someone came up with a
good idea, he’d run with it.  But in the meantime,
he’ll keep fucking Katie Vick’s dead body and trying
to be Stephanie’s baby daddy.
Your thoughts?”

The problem is that pretty much everything is going to be Vince’s fault, because Vince takes the blame for what goes wrong and takes the credit for what goes right. It’s been clearly established that he’s in total control at this point, for better or worse. So no matter what, you have to lay the blame on him.