The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT–02.05.14

The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT – 02.05.14 Christ, even Microsoft Word is nagging me about the “no double spaces after a period” thing. Why is this suddenly the cause celebre among internet nerds and grammar nazis? Where were all these people when I learned to type that way TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO? Trust me, there’s literally no way I’m going to be able to retrain my fingers not to do it now, so everyone can please leave me alone about it forever. DOUBLE SPACE. Taped from Orlando, FL Your hosts are Bryon Saxton, Tensai & Tom Phillips Sin Cara v. Alexander Rusev So with Rusev on his way to the main roster, along with Summer Rae going to Total Divas, and Emma doing whatever the fuck she’s doing now, the roster is getting a bit gutted and hopefully some quick elevations will be in order. Kind of weird that Hunico just kind of switches gimmicks now after weeks of being himself. Rusev overpowers him, but a bit of high-flying turns the tide, until Rusev dropkicks him right out of the air for one. He stomps Cara down in the corner and puts him down with a high kick for two. Sin Cara comes back with a crossbody for two and springboard elbow for two. He tries a victory roll and Rusev drops him on his face and finishes with the Accolade at 4:44, however. Usual Rusev squash, although Hunico shows more personality in the role than Mistico ever did. *1/2 Emma v. Alicia Fox This Emma title chase has been stalled for a while now with Paige injured with a mysterious ailment for months. Alicia Fox is not into the Emma Dance, and dropkicks her off a wristlock. Emma comes back with the Dilemma hold, but Alicia gets a northern lights suplex for two. Emma gets a clumsy rollup for two and splashes Alicia in the corner, then rolls into the EmmaLock to finish at 3:15. *1/2 Now logically they should put the belt on her when Paige returns, but now she’s on the big roster and thus it’s pointless. And then as Emma is celebrating, the BFFs storm in for a beatdown, until Natalya and Bayley save and then dance. Sylvester Lefort v. Mason Ryan Lefort looks like a guy who would get pushed in the system, so he must be pretty terrible if they’re keeping him as a manager. Unshockingly, Ryan destroys him and pins him with a cobra slam at 0:50. Well that was a tad pointless. DUD Meanwhile, Aiden English gives us a monologue and salutes Canada in song. *Sniff* Meanwhile, Lefort swears revenge on Mason Ryan. Now, if they’re going with the old Robert Parker angle from WCW, it’ll lead to him finding a Sid Vicious-level surprise monster and getting his payback. And given that Dusty Rhodes was booking WCW at the time, it might not be far off. Aiden English v. Tyson Kidd Thankfully English is getting over more as a heel now that the fans know how to react to him. Kidd charges and misses quickly, and English pounds him down for two. Backdrop suplex gets two. Kidd comes back with a headscissors into the corner and a dropkick for two. English catches him coming in with a suplex for two, but Big Cass joins us at ringside for the distraction, allowing Kidd to hit the Blockbuster for the pin at 2:40. Really fast-paced for the time given. **1/4 They really need to do something with Kidd; even a high flying tag team with someone to feud with the Ascension would be a good dynamic for him. Adrian Neville v. Corey Graves The skinny jeans and hair product are really killing the bad boy image that Graves is trying for. Neville gets a hiptoss and Graves bails right away, but catches him with a cheapshot coming in. Neville takes him down with a headlock and tosses him, following with a dive as we take a break. Back with Graves working the leg in the corner and dropping elbows for two. Neville gets a rollup for two, but Graves dropkicks the knee for two and dragon whips him for two. Back to the knee and he grinds on that for a while, and a backbreaker gets two. To the floor, where Neville escapes a piledriver and makes the comeback. Missile dropkick gets two, but the leg is still hurting and Graves clips him again. Neville fights him off and goes up, and the Red Arrow finishes at 16:10. Kind of a flat finish, but a really solid match. *** Neville is still hurting, so Bo Dallas comes out to finish the job, until HHH cuts them off by announcing that their match at the “PPV” is going to be a ladder match. DUN DUN DUN! The Pulse Basic, fun show, although it’s the end of the cycle so there wasn’t much going on this week. Next week, however, should be the senses-shattering debut of rock god ADAM ROSE, which is apparently 10 shades of awesome.

The SmarK RAW Rant–01.27.2014

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

The SmarKdown Rant–04.06.12

  The SmarKdown Rant – 04.06.12 Taped from Orlando, Florida. Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T & Josh Matthews Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and General Manager of Smackdown Johnny Ace joins us to start the era of People Power on the shows. He brings out Teddy Long, who cuts a goodbye promo and goes to leave. Ace cuts him off and offers him a job, but Long refuses. So Johnny goes the evil lawyer route, and threatens to cut off his grandchildren’s WWE college fund. I’m pretty sure a real lawyer would have something to say about that. So Long is forced to accept a job and kiss Johnny’s ass. R-Truth v. Mark Henry & David Otunga This would be Truth’s punishment for losing at Wrestlemania. He gets a leg lariat on Otunga for two and a spinning elbow for two, but Otunga tags out to Mark Henry. Henry pounds away while Abraham Washington looks on in the back. World’s Strongest Slam and Otunga tags in for the pin at 2:00. It was what it was. ½* Randy Orton v. Kane This is NO DISQUALIFICATION, so both guys can embrace the hate fully without fear of repercussions. Normally you’d have to break on five while embracing the hate. NOT HERE. They brawl outside and Orton gets sent into the table and introduced to the stairs, and they fight up the ramp and over to the entrance. Orton tries the RKO and gets foiled, and both guys hit the ramp as we take a break. Back with them in the ring, and Kane gets two. Seated dropkick gets two. Kane goes up and gets crotched by Orton, and he gets the dropkick and makes the comeback. Powerslam and Kane bails to the apron, which of course sets up the DDT, but Kane blocks with a necksnap and they fight on the floor again. Orton clotheslines him into the timekeeper’s cubicle , but Kane boots him down again and loads up the plunder in the ring. However, he makes the rookie mistake of tossing Orton in first, resulting in the draping DDT for two. He sets up for the RKO, but Kane EMBRACES THE HATE and beats him down with a chair for two. Orton escapes the chokeslam and it’s RKO and goodbye at 12:18. Gotta love 50/50 booking. This was much better than Wrestlemania. *** Barry Stevens v. Ryback Stevens is just cannon fodder for the repackaged Skip Sheffield. Ryback tosses him around and hits a press slam into powerslam, then finishes with a muscle buster at 1:00. I don’t know that “Ryback” is any better of a name, but the booking is more important anyway. I approve of more squash matches like this. Daniel Bryan joins us for a promo. You’d think the social media-obsessed WWE would make sure to take note of Bryan’s grassroots explosion online or the random crowds at sporting events who are unknowingly supporting a WWE Superstar with their “YES” chants and maybe play it up to make it seem like the cool thing to do, but no. As usual, they ignore it because they don’t know how to deal with it. Anyway, he’s dejected, but AJ tries to cheer him up while the fans do the “YES” chants despite the production crew’s best efforts to mute it. Bryan thinks that the fans are mocking him, and blames AJ for distracting him with the kiss at Wrestlemania. And they’re DONE. He’s gonna get his rematch and win it by himself. And she can take her cheeseburgers that she loves so much and hit the road in her SUV! Uh, I don’t think AJ has eaten many cheeseburgers lately. The fans don’t seem terribly concerned with her departure from Bryan’s life. Big Show v. Heath Slater Show pounds away and puts Slater down with a chop from his knees, then finishes with the spear and chokeslam at 1:08. He chases Cody Rhodes away afterwards, so THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE. Really? Because Show won it pretty decisively at Wrestlemania, I’d say. Meanwhile, Big Johnny pitches the concept of People Power to Sheamus. So because of Sheamus’ sneak-attacks, he’s expecting that Sheamus will be held to a higher standard as champion. Beth Phoenix v. Nikki Bella Kelly Kelly joins us, so I guess we’re going around with Beth v. Kelly AGAIN. Beth chokes away on the ropes to start and pounds Nikki in the corner, but a blind charge misses due to Kelly’s distraction, and Nikki gets a carpet muncher for the upset pin at 1:00. Wait, are we supposed to be cheering for Nikki? Damian Sandow is here to educate us and make us better people. Let us take you back to RAW, where Brock beats up John Cena and KICKS HIS HAT in a demonstration of hatred and brutality unseen on the show since many years ago. And next week, THE THREE STOOGES. God I hate this company sometimes. Next Week: OLD SCHOOL SMACKDOWN! I’m so there. Sheamus v. Alberto Del Rio Sheamus overpowers him and blocks a blind charge, then hits the Regal roll for two. ADR goes to the arm to take over, but can’t get the armbar and he bails as we take a break. Back with Sheamus pounding away with the forearms on the apron, but Del Rio puts him on the floor with the enzuigiri. Back in, ADR works on the arm for a while, until it’s the pre-approved time for Sheamus to make the comeback and ignore all the pointless working of the arm. He stops to beat up Ricardo, but grabs an errant steel chair and gets DQ’d at 10:40. What a pointless main event. Del Rio didn’t even get an attempt at the armbar, they just kind of wrestled back and forth and went nowhere and then had a random DQ finish. So now ADR is apparently the #1 contender after that awesome effort. *1/2 The Pulse This was basically the anti-RAW. No excitement from the crowd, a bunch of meaningless and forgettable matches, and nothing to build on the momentum from Monday. It was fine to watch, but absolutely nothing you need to watch. Next week’s “blast from the past” live show should be pretty awesome, though.

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 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.