(Obviously this one could use an actual review sometime, but life’s too short for extra HHH main events, I feel like.)
The SmarK Rant for WWE Night of Champions 2011
– I was watching this in the theater and didn’t want to be the asshole taking notes on my phone during the show, so I’ll do my best to reconstruct things from memory and Michael Bradley’s review on my blog. The theater is a GREAT way to watch these PPVs and I heartily recommend it to anyone who would rather pay $15 than $50 and basically get a live show atmosphere as a result. The HD signal looks awesome on the big screen and it really helped my perception of the show, I think. One somewhat funny story before begin. I was buying snacks in the lobby beforehand, and one of the mentally challenged fans who regularly attend these PPVs started talking trash to me. I was understandably caught off-guard, but then noticed he was decked out in full John Cena gear and was pointing to my shirt. Turns out he was mistaking my Sheldon Cooper shirt for an Alberto Del Rio one, although I don’t really see the resemblance.
– Live from Buffalo, NY.
– Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T and Jerry Lawler.
WWE tag titles: Air Boom v. The Miz & R-Truth
Somewhat surprising choice for an opener, as I thought they’d go with the US title four-way, especially given the booking decisions. Good heat for this, as they did the standard tag formula stuff with Evan Bourne getting beat up. I thought they were going for an extended tag formula to really stretch out the opener, but instead went all wacky by reversing the usual heel spots. First the champs did the tag behind the ref’s back and got away with it, then the heels got screwed by a false tag and a visual pinfall before Miz finally snapped and beat up the ref for the dumbest finish in a while. I was digging it before the weak sauce finish. **3/4
Intercontinental title: Cody Rhodes v. Ted Dibiase
I like Cody but this particular storyline ain’t working. Cody’s OK, but the Dibiase face turn is a bad idea and no one was particularly behind him in this match. Plus he’s been booked as a loser who needs Cody’s life-coaching, and the end result was a so-so match with a pretty dead crowd. Cody took most of the match, Dibiase made his lame comeback and pulled off the mask (which got a pretty good reaction from the theater, showing that the classics never die), and Rhodes rolled him up with a handful of tights to retain the title. Booker on commentary was amusing, as they showed the replay with Cody clearly grabbing the tights, and Booker was like “Well, any way you look at it, a clean win for Cody.” Dibiase needs a repackaging pronto. **
Christian came out for a fairly pointless interview about how he deserves yet another shot at the title. Crowd was actually getting behind his quest, and Sheamus interrupts to offer a deal where he helps Christian get the title back in exchange for the first shot. And then he lays Christian out with the Conan kick. Kind of a waste of time, although not as much as the endless commercials on a $55 PPV. I should note that Christian would be better served concentrating on Daniel Bryan rather than Randy Orton, if you know what I mean.
US title: Dolph Ziggler v. Jack Swagger v. Alex Riley v. John Morrison
Better than I anticipated going in, although I’m starting to really get behind Alex Riley. He’s got The Look and does really good babyface comebacks and facials. Lots of good near-falls here, including a good sequence with Swagger anklelocking Riley while Ziggler has Morrison in the sleeper. Riley escapes the anklelock and hits the leaping DDT on Swagger for a really hot near-fall, but Morrison takes the doctorbomb and Ziggler steals the fall to retain. Same finish we’ve seen a billion times, but the action was pretty good. I think it’s weird that they were playing it like Swagger is some big threat who almost won the title despite losing for weeks on end. Crowd was totally buying Riley’s challenge here, and they really should have pulled the trigger on him. ***
Smackdown World title: Randy Orton v. Mark Henry
Before the match I was thinking they should have dug into the library and watched Sting v. Vader from Bash 92, and damn if that isn’t what happened. Orton tried all his big spots and Henry fought them all off, which is good because this Chapter One of several and he shouldn’t be doing the RKO and head kick in the very first match. People were saying going in that Henry was going to lose because he was dominating Orton in the buildup, but when a heel dominates during the buildup and then kicks the shit out of someone to win the title, that’s called making a new star and it’s something they’ve been god-awful at. Orton gets beat up, finally manages to hit one move (the draping DDT), but Henry kicks the leg out from under his leg, blocks the RKO with his FIFTEEN YEARS OF ANGER, and wins clean with the World’s Strongest Slam to the shock of the theater. I was CHEERING for Mark Henry to win, that’s how good a job they’ve done with him. This was much better than it had any right to be, and I’m glad Orton did the right thing and made him look great here. ***1/4 However, as an addendum, if Orton wins the title back in two weeks at Hell in a Cell by hitting the RKO and head kick, they can fuck off and die.
Tramp Stamp title: Kelly Kelly v. Beth Phoenix
This was a really weird deal, as Kelly was booed out of the building against hometown hero Phoenix, but they went out and worked the exact same match as they always do, with Kelly the plucky babyface and Phoenix the heel. It was pretty good for a Divas match, with Kelly’s usual athletic stuff and a big superplex spot, but Kelly does the fluke rollup win to retain (as predicted by yours truly) and the crowd shits all over it. This was fine as a match, but this storyline is on a treadmill. **
RAW World title: Alberto Del Rio v. John Cena
People were pretty outraged by this judging by my inbox, but really anyone who expected something other than “John Cena chases the title held by some jerk” hasn’t been watching the show for the past 6 years or so. Best match of the show, with a really big match feel to it at least judging by the reactions of the theater. Cena steals Del Rio’s car, which is grand theft auto in my books (and Michael Cole’s) but apparently it’s OK for Cena to do it. The crowd was doing the duelling chant thing for a while before getting bored with it or something. Seemed like a standard house show main event for a while and then got really good with the near-falls and big reversals, most of which went Cena’s way. Big directorial gaffe as they nearly miss the FU during a replay spot, and Cena hits his big spots, beats up Ricardo, makes ADR tap to win the title back, then presumably goes home and fucks Del Rio’s wife, takes over his house, and kicks his puppy for good measure. But don’t worry, in two weeks Alberto will invoke his rematch clause and get his ass kicked again in the Cell. ***1/2
COOHHH v. CM Punk
They kind of booked themselves into a corner with this one, as HHH couldn’t lose for a variety of HHH-related reasons, and they had to keep both guys as babyfaces, so we got the garbagest brawl to ever garbage (in a good way) and then Vince Russo overdrive kicks in with R-Truth, the Miz, Johnny Ace, two referees and the OH MY GOD HE DOESN’T WORK HERE Kevin Nash all getting involved before HHH hits the inevitable three Pedigrees and gets the win. I have no fucking idea what is supposed to be going on in this storyline, but stuff blowed up real good so everyone seemed mostly happy. Lots of people hated it, lots of people loved it, so I’ll go somewhere in the middle and call it ***1/2 because they were shooting for ****+ before everyone started running in. Or hobbling in. And as usual, HHH comes out on top.
I certainly got my $15 worth out of it, but others might disagree and more power to them. They actually put someone new over Randy Orton, and that’s more than we usually get, so I’m taking what I can get. Besides, I counted six decent-good matches and no bad ones, so that’s an easy thumbs up from me.