ECW on Sci-Fi #3 06/27/2006

Vengeance happened on Sunday and in relevant news: Randy Orton got his pin back on Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam retained against Edge and John Cena made Sabu tap out in an EXTREEEEEEEME Lumberjack Match. No mention is made of this on this show so you’re welcome.

Reading J.D. Dunn’s review of Vengeance, I noticed this: ”This was one of those, “God, they’re stupid” gaffs that happen from time to time. Edge won a #1 contender’s match with the Big Show for a title shot tonight. Then, they spent the next few weeks hyping that if ECW won the WWE Title, it would become the new ECW Title. Problem. If there’s no WWE Title, then what do you do with Edge? Well, Van Dam has to look like a complete idiot by hanging on to the title for no reason other than to look like a jackass. That’s akin to the Joker tying up Batman, explaining his whole scheme, and then leaving him behind with a bomb instead of just killing him.” Huh. It’s probably best I’m not reviewing Raw as well as ECW or my head would explode.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi #3 06/27/2006

ECW on Sci-Fi #2 06/20/2006

Heyman’s 99th invasion of Raw is recapped with an un-named big titted vampire reading tarot cards (so you know you’re watching the Sci-Fi Channel). RVD gave Edge a Five Star Frog Splash and Sabu put Cena through the announce table so it’s RVD & Angle vs. Orton & Edge.

We’re in Albany, NY with Joey Styles & Tazz commentating. One of these men got slapped by Rob Van Dam and the other one KO’d JBL.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi #2 06/20/2006

ECW One Night Stand 2006

ECW One Night Stand 2006

Cold open into a rabid-arse crowd, just like the good old days. The Hammerstein was perfect for One Night Stand, seeing as how 2000-era ECW would do a better job hyping house shows at this venue than their own national PPVs.

Read moreECW One Night Stand 2006

Smackdown – January 7, 2016

Smackdown
Date: January 7, 2016
Location: Laredo Energy Arena, Laredo, Texas
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler

This is a big night as Smackdown is now on the USA Network after sixteen and a half years bouncing around various other networks. Therefore tonight is going to be a major show with two title matches and an appearance from the now injured John Cena. We’re now in full build towards the Royal Rumble where Roman Reigns will be defending the WWE World Title against 29 other men. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – January 7, 2016

NXT – December 30, 2015 (Best of 2015 Part 1)

NXT
Date: December 30, 2015
Hosts: Rich Brennan, Corey Graves

This is the first half of the Best of 2015, meaning there’s no new material save for match introductions. It’s been a good year for NXT and the next two weeks are going to be a good look back at all the good things that have gone on. You can probably expect a solid mixture of Takeover and regular TV on here so let’s get to it.

Read moreNXT – December 30, 2015 (Best of 2015 Part 1)

Booking brock

Big fan love the new blog


I thought last night was horrible. instead of using lesner, who is over as a monster, to make rollins for good, rollins is made to look like a chump. In the span of a year they made all three members of the shield look weak, ruined bray, ruined Ziggler even more and are on their way to ruin Owens leaving taker brock HHH and cena as the only guys any one cares about

Is there any reason to keep watching at all?

​John Cena v. Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 32, brother!


Cena’s Legacy?

> Scott,
>
> All this talk about Drawing Power made me wonder about how Cena will be viewed when all is said and done. He’s been the top star in the company for over a decade, while the audience and ratings have been essentially cut in half since the attitude era ended. I don’t recall him really ever having a run of Sold Out live events, yet he has moved a ton of merchandise and made the company a lot of money.
> Do you think he’ll be remembered as one of the all time greats or will his title of "WWE Poster Boy" hurt his stance with fans?
>
>

I think he’s already an all-time great. He just had the misfortune to come along 5 years too late to cash in on it like Rock and Austin were able to.

Maybe they should turn him heel.

What’s the Deal With the Bellas?

Hey Scott,


So I’m not an un-fan of the Bellas, per se, but I’m kinda shocked at their longevity, not to mention their prominence in WWE. How are they still in the WWE, considering the average life of a Diva is about 2-4 years. Is this just ’cause of Cena & Bryan? I can understand that keeping them on the roster but I just don’t see Vince making them a focus point of WWE based solely on who their sleeping with. Does he actually see something in them?

Thanks

​In this case it’s pretty clearly Total Divas that keeps them in a position of prominence, and really they did leave for a pretty good chunk of time during the horrid Kelly Kelly vs. Eve Torres era, so it just feels like they’ve been around non-stop for the past 5 years. That being said, I’m pretty sure that if Cena ever dumped Boobs Bella their push would disappear as well. But really, I don’t know how "prominent" you can call their push recently, as all the Divas are pretty much one five-minute segment and done. My bigger issue is that we still have TWO MONTHS to go before Nikki beats AJ’s record so they can finish their petty burial of her and move onto something else. Like, is Paige EVER going to find someone to help her?

Pushed vs. Organically Over

Hi Scott,

The question you recently answered about what the fans perception of a wrestler’s position on the card does to their drawing power was an interesting one and got me thinking about the nuances of general fan responses and drawing power.

My primary question is, to what extent can WWE, as a well-oiled machine of a brand at this point, succeed in making a wrestler a draw by sheer will of a push? By that I mean when it comes to the conversations we’re constantly having about guys the fans want to root for vs. guys the company wants to push, how much success can be had by forcing somebody down our throats? Maybe the best recent example of this is Bryan vs. Reigns, but it’s tough to argue we’ve seen the end result of that.

Looking at older examples, it’s clear that a plainly inorganic push rarely gets over. Sheamus, for instance, didn’t become a draw no matter how hard WWE has tried with him. With guys who started getting over and then saw resistance, however, their have been big successes- Cena being the obvious one. So how much of Cena’s success in terms of drawing power can be attributed to the fact that he’s been pushed relentlessly for a decade, regardless of how crowds respond to him?

I know this is a complex one, but I suppose the heart of this issue is the question of whether or not Cena would draw the way he does if he had, say the marketing structure of 1990s WWF behind him, as opposed to the powerhouse he has behind him now… Would he be a true top draw as Austin and Rock became, or would his divisive reactions limit him to being a temporary fix kind of guy, the way Bret was? It’s worth pointing out that while Cena’s been the top draw for a decade, and while he’s been a (the?) central part of top drawing events like WrestleMania’s 29 and 23, the business as a whole has basically only declined in terms of pop cultural cache during his tenure.

Can Reigns become as successful even if he’s destined to never escape the Let’s Go Roman/Roman Sucks zone? Conversely, how seriously effected is the ceiling of the likes of organically over guys like Punk and Bryan, given that neither ever seemed particularly interesting to the WWE brass?

Thanks 

Quite the loaded question.  I think actually if this was still the 80s, Cena would have gotten over like gangbusters in the NWA, whereas Sheamus would have been the big star in the WWF in the Rick Rude/Ted Dibiase/Don Muraco top-ish heel slot.  Strange as it sounds, I think Cena would have been too small for 80s WWF, and probably wouldn’t have gotten a second chance without a Paul Heyman to fight for him.  And regardless of the marketing behind him, people pay to see Cena and react to him as a top guy, so eventually if you push a guy like that the momentum becomes a kind of perpetual motion machine, ya know? 

As for Reigns, I have no idea anymore.  It seems like they think they can have him tread water for months and then re-heat him by winning the Rumble again and then finally winning the World title at Wrestlemania, but obviously this was misguided the FIRST time they tried it and Reigns, although becoming more accepted as a babyface by the fans, has lost whatever momentum he once had earlier in the year. 

In short, who knows, man?

The SmarK RAW Rant–02.10.14

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

The Kyle Report: Money in the Bank 2011 Review

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


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

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