So I’m going to give this a try. I don’t know if it’s a good thing yet that I’m doing just because of the unique circumstances, but heck, it’ll at least be a thread for discussing results and stuff.
In this post, you are going to see me discuss the booking of the PPV. As a special note, I have not seen this show. I have a ball hockey team that plays in a Sunday league, and in fact I just got home recently. (We won 4-0, I was in net and had a 15-save shutout. Not that you care.) But I can discuss the ideas put forward as if this were Vince McMahon’s fantasy booking made real. So, with the help of Wikipedia and WWE’s dot-com, allow me to break down the show.
0] Dolph Ziggler pinned Damien Sandow. Ziggler may be on the verge of getting re-pushed. It’s been hard not to notice that the crowd gets behind him, even chanting for him over Daniel Bryan in the 11-on-3 on Raw. The idea of a fierce Sandow disposing of his kneepad and revolving his offense around knee strikes backfired on him. It makes me wonder if Sandow is going to be taking time off so that, when he feels the need to strike on Del Rio (or whomever beats him), he will be fresher and therefore rebuildable. As it stands, this was the pre-show match, and its use as a dark match to get the crowd warm was a smart idea. Dolph has the momentum right now anyway.
1] World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio submitted Rob Van Dam. We all basically knew this was coming, didn’t we? This was basically a chance for RVD to go all-out in a no-DQ match with ladders and chairs, and since upstate New York was one of ECW’s bigger former haunts, they accepted it greatly. There was some scuttlebutt on rumor sites that Ricardo Rodriguez was going to reconcile with Del Rio, but given their interaction tonight, that seems highly unlikely. Rodriguez probably moves on to finding a new amigo or two (perhaps Mysterio and Mistico?), while Del Rio has dispatched of RVD in the most decisive way. The Cross Armbreaker with a Pillman Twist was a good use of the hardcore stips as well as a way to remind us of Del Rio’s MMA background and submission style.
2] We The People defeated Santino Marella and Great Khali when Antonio Cesaro pinned Khali. All you need to know about this match is that Cesaro swung Khali, a 350-pound awkwardly built giant of a man, for double-digit revolutions (the dotcom claims 11). There’s talk — again, these are rumor sites, so take it for what it’s worth — that Cesaro could break away and be turned face, and it’s almost exclusively due to the Swing. Right now, Khali and Marella are a comedy act, and Swagger fumbled his last great chance and therefore is basically a midcarder for life. If anyone’s coming out of this on top, it would have to be Cesaro.
3] WWE Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel pinned R-Truth. I knew this was happening, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. With all the focus on Ryback as Paul Heyman’s #1 Guy, it’s pretty clear the ship has sailed on Axel’s future. Last month was the best opportunity to make something of him, but Punk easily dispatched him instead and basically slammed him hard into the midcard. Now, throw in that R-Truth is part of the Revolution, and at the very least a title change isn’t out of the question, is it? As for the match, Truth had a good amount of the offense, but right now, does the title even mean anything? (And no, I doubt putting it on Truth would be too much of a step up, but at this point it could easily transition to someone the fans even care a little about. Axel is unable to get heat even with Paul Heyman by his side, while Truth at least can keep the crowd involved in the match with his “What’s Up” call.)
4] WWE Divas’ Champion AJ Lee pinned Brie Bella. Perhaps the most interesting part of this is that the result was hardly as decisive as it could have been. Yes, AJ dominated most of the match, but the booking leaves the question unanswered — especially since Tamina and Nikki’s fight on the outside provided a critical distraction. What worries me more about this than anything else is that AJ has gone through Natalya, has beaten Naomi, and now will likely beat Brie twice when they rematch at Hell in a Cell. The question here is: are they really setting up either JoJo or Eva Marie as the one to topple the champion? Or, will one of the more wrestling-oriented Divas get a second chance? As it stands, it’s clear someone in the back is very high on AJ, who has been allowed to mock everyone she wants on commentary with only the “you’re jealous” comeback, which carries very little weight.
5] In a non-title match, The Rhodes Brothers defeated WWE Tag Team Champions The Shield when Cody pinned Seth Rollins. I’ve said in previous Raw recaps that the Daniel Bryan vs Randy Orton storyline works best, not as an Austin/McMahon rehash, but as a Dusty/Flair rehash. Tonight, you got to see why. The booking of this feud has been very old school: the faces lose what they have, one by one, get humiliated by the heels verbally, but when the chips are down and it’s their last stand, they find an extra gear and become invincible. Teasing an early countout probably wasn’t the smartest of moves, but they ran with it. Multiple heat segments also helped, as it’s clear WWE knew this was a money feud even in the midcard. All the facepaint having been sweated off of Dustin’s face added to the feeling of a team putting forth a superhuman effort. And if the dotcom is to be believed, the crowd was amped all match and came unglued when the brothers won. Also, a wonderful touch in having the locker room congratulate the Rhodes family on getting their jobs back. The real question is this: you’ve anointed the Usos the #1 contenders, and they’ve got the long build to the gold going on Raw, but the Rhodes brothers are hotter than ever. Do you switch it off, and if so, would that hurt the Usos as potential future champions?
6] Bray Wyatt pinned Kofi Kingston. As with others, this was not a difficult result to pick out. This was, however, Wyatt’s first test as a solo act on Pay-Per-View — assuming you count the Ring of Fire as a dirty win — and he passed in kayfabe. Able to win without any help from Luke Harper and Eric Rowan establishes him as a threat in the singles division, and Kofi Kingston, despite being in the midcard-for-life mold, is no pushover. Kingston, in fact, was given a very good amount of offense on Wyatt, as this match was far from a squash. The post-match beating delivered to Kingston helped establish that the Wyatt disciples are threats on their own, and the heel trio definitely is being sent to big things.
7] CM Punk pinned Ryback. As with AJ and Brie, the real story here is how the win was far from a decisive one. Ryback got in more offense than should be expected, and indeed could have won on several occasions. Heyman’s interference using the house microphone played into the mind games he and Punk have had for a long time. But perhaps the best bit was the finish: Heyman got too preoccupied with hurting CM Punk, and it was Punk who used the opportunity to cheat right in front of Heyman and win the match. Certainly, the controversial finish all but guarantees a rematch inside the Cell — hopefully, though, this time Brad Maddox won’t be the referee.
8] The WWE Championship remains vacant as Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton went to a double KO. Okay, that statement is a little misleading. The real intrigue here — and the match is just noise compared to the finish — is how the double KO happened: by Big Show. It’s pretty clear Big Show has been under an infinite amount of stress, and everyone wants him to haul off and attack HHH, but they’re making it less and less likely it’s feasible to happen. So that leaves Show with this outlet: to take out his frustration on whomever he can. Now, the first question from Raw is: what does the Authority think of this? There’s three ways they can go here: one, they can be furious Big Show ruined the main event and humiliate him further; two, they can make the rematch be inside Hell in a Cell in an attempt to keep Show out of it; or three, they could applaud Big Show and insert him into the Cell match. Option 2 seems the most likely, although all three are on the table. Raw brings us to interesting times once again.
So, that’s the breakdown. I think the booking, overall, was made with the knowledge that Hell in a Cell is coming up in three weeks, which is frustrating. There’s no definitive closure to Punk/Ryback, Brie/AJ, and especially not Orton/Bryan — it would not surprise me if all three were rematches at Hell in a Cell, and certainly we know the last one will be (barring Show shenanigans). The kayfabe MVP tonight has to be Cody Rhodes, who got his job back and got the fall that may allow for a future title match. Whether they get it right away or not is part of the intrigue.
See you tomorrow night for Monday Night Raw in Pittsburgh, where everyone will be drunk from watching playoff baseball. If any crowd is going to top the New Jersey crowd for sheer insanity, this is it.