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We've all bitched about the staleness of WWE's set design and basic presentation at length, but I'm catching Lucha Underground for the first time and just HOW bored I am with WWE's look is thrown into sharper relief.
Let's say you, Scott Keith, are immediately put in charge of freshening up WWE's presentation. What do you do? Change the TitanTron? The hard camera location? The type of venue you book? The positions of the floor cameramen? The editing style? Varying the uniformity of crappy buttrock entrance musics? Assume nothing is off limits.
For more wrestling reviews and columns, head over to WRESTLING RECAPS.
Yes this was the RAW the night after Payback, which was an excellent PPV by most accounts. The June PPV is often a good sign for how the rest of the promotion’s year is going to go. So if you add the PPV with the RAW the night after it looked like we were in for a hell of a second half of 2013.
Money in the Bank was a rousing success as was Summerslam but soon after the wheels sort of came off and we’re heading into 2014 with a lot of questions and silly rumors…(John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania?). Maybe things will get back on track.
So I wanted to look back at the 6-17-2013 RAW to see if it was as good as I remembered.
Live from Grand Rapids, Michigan
Hosted by Michael Cole, The King and JBL
** We open up the show with the new World Heavyweight Champion and freshly
turned heel Alberto Del Rio as he and Dolph Ziggler tried the double turn and
it didn’t totally go over like they hoped. However Ricardo Rodriguez’s smirk during Del
Rio’s overblown intro was terrific. Here’s the shame with Del Rio, he’s a damn good
talker, he’s a damn good heel but there is just a general disconnect with him
and the fans. Del Rio doesn’t understand why the fans are so angry with him
when Ziggler did the same thing to him the night after Wrestlemania and the
fans cheered. He’s got a point. Crowd tries feebly to get a “We Want Ziggler”
chant going but it’s not working. Del Rio calls Jack Swagger an ignorant pig
that disrespected the Mexican culture and the Mexican people but the fans, “in
support of him”, would chant U-S-A. He’s got another point. He says America is
all about pigs and cowards. Man how did this promo not get over more than it
did? Alberto is bringing the awesome! Del Rio goes on until “Cult of
Personality” cuts him off and CM Punk returns to RAW for the first time in two
months. Crowd totally eats it up, ignoring that he is with Paul Heyman. Punk
refreshes Alberto’s memory about their last encounter, Survivor Series 2011,
when he beat him for the WWE Championship and held the title for 434 days. Punk
has no problems with Del Rio though, other than Del Rio calling himself the
best. There’s only one ‘Best in the World’ and Punk is ready to fight for his
name. Heyman interrupts Punk and tries to negotiate a title shot but Punk kindly
tells him to STFU and “while this guy was stealing a title from Dolph Ziggler
last night I was stealing the show with Chris Jericho!” So after a little more
jocking, we bring Vickie and Brad out and we’ve got a match. It was about 12
minutes of promo but it was PRODUCTIVE and we got somewhere. If you’re gonna
take the time, make it count!
(Coming up: Vickie Guerrero has a BIG surprise for the McMahon-Helmsley regime
tonight; Daniel Bryan goes one-on-one with Randy Orton and up next it’s the
Barrett Barrage trying to regain the Intercontinental title from new champion
** We’re back and Punk officially tells Heyman that he’ll always be a Paul
Heyman guy but he doesn’t need him to help him win matches like Brock Lesnar or
Intercontinental Title: Wade Barrett vs. Curtis Axel
Poor Barrett just gets the in-ring intro and…Vickie is out again and says this
match won’t happen because Barrett is going to face her big surprise instead
and out comes Christian.
Plain Ol’ Match: Wade Barrett vs. Christian
Is Christian still under contract? If so he’s a good candidate for a Royal
Rumble return. Barrett jumps on Captain Charisma but Christian recovers and
dumps him over the top rope. Christian climbs to the top and hits a massive
cross body to the floor. Back in the ring Barrett rallies and gets a near fall
on Christian. 90 seconds into the match and we have a chinlock. Really? Barrett
doesn’t hold it for long and Christian hits a dropkick from the middle rope and
a big clotheslines. Barrett misses a blind charge and Christian hits a tornado
DDT for another two count but Barrett stops the momentum with a gut kick.
Barrett misses another blind charge and Christian with an inverted hangman and
the killswitch ends this sucker. Basically a squash as Barrett got nothing but
** More news as the WWE Universe will choose the stipulation for the
Bryan-Orton match. The choices are No DQ, No Count Out or 2 out of 3 falls.
** Wyatt Family promo. They aren’t here yet but they’re coming.
Handicap Match: The Rhodes Scholars vs. Sheamus
Speaking of candidates for Royal Rumble returns, Sheamus should be close to
ready. He will have to fight off both guys at once and accounts very well for
himself to start, hitting Sandow with a nasty forearm. However a disaster kick
changes the course and the scholars take control with a double suplex that gets
two. Sandow with a snapmare and Rhodes with a shining wizard that sets up the
ELBOW OF DISDAIN…all of that gets two. Cody adds a couple of slaps to the face
and I don’t think that’s a good idea. Sheamus dumps Cody and completely murders
Sandow one on one with the usual stuff. He goes back to Rhodes to hit his 10
forearm spot. A powerslam dumps Sandow
as Cody tries to catch Sandow from the ropes but he lands in Sheamus’ arms and
feels white noise instead. Sheamus preps for the brogue kick but Sandow sneaks
in and rolls him up for three. Sheamus, being the sore loser he is, gives
Rhodes the brogue kick anyway.
** DOWNLOAD THE WWE APP!
** Rob Van Dam returns at Money in the Bank. He didn’t stay for very long.
** Brad and Vickie brag about their moves to HHH but he’s not impressed.
However he wants them to take control of The Shield. He doesn’t care how strong
they need to be in order to get the Shield under control, just get it done. HHH
also says that getting 3MB in the show tonight…brilliant…yep that HHH always
putting over the talent.
** Kane and Bryan are bickering about Bryan being the weak link. Both Bryan and
Kane lost last night and Kane believes that it’s a sign that Team Hell No
another shot. Bryan says the only team he can focus on right now is “Team DB”
and Kane retorts “that makes sense because you’re acting like a DB”. Ouch. Kane
wishes DB good luck and Bryan takes that as a sign that he still considers him
the weak link.
** Randy Orton says it’s because of Daniel Bryan that Team R-K-No lost to The
Shield at Payback and he’ll prove that Bryan is the weak link tonight.
No Disqualification: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
Bryan goes after the arm and then to the leg with a couple of kicks and then a
Mexican surfboard, he works on the hamstrings some more and keeps kicking as
Orton clearly doesn’t have Chris Wiedman’s defensive skills. Orton comes back
with a couple of a stomps and a slingshot suplex. Lou Thesz press by Orton but
Bryan counters the ground and pound by grabbing the leg into a half crab. Orton
fights out but Bryan goes back to the legs kicks with the crowd starting to
feel him. Orton with the eye rake and he dumps Bryan to the floor. Orton hits a
big clothesline on the floor as some of the crowd starts to get behind him.
Back in the ring for a two count. Reverse chinlock time as the referee has to
tell Orton what comes next. Orton corners Bryan and pounds away, corner whip but
Bryan walks the ropes and hits a flying lariat. Corner dropkick from Bryan and
a second one with a head of steam gets two. Bryan sets too early off a whip but
he manages to dump Orton, however, Bryan misses the suicide dive as Orton sends
him into the barricade. Orton grabs a kendo stick and goes to work, first on
the back and then the front. Then he drives the point of the stick into Bryan’s
stomach. Back in the ring and we get a two count.
** Commercial Break
We’re back as Orton has Bryan posted. Headbutt by Orton and he’s goes for the
superplex but Bryan fights gallantly and a headbutt of his own knocks Orton off
the ropes. Bryan hits a top rope missile dropkick and both men are down. Bryan
back to his feet first and he goes to town with the kicks but misses the
roundhouse and Orton hits a wicked T-Bone suplex. Orton tries to set up the
elevated DDT but Bryan tries to counter into the No Lock, Orton fights out of
it and catapults Bryan over the top. Bryan tries to scale the ropes but Orton
casually kicks him in the mid section and Bryan goes to the floor. Ref brings
in the doctor to check on Bryan, doctor clears him so Orton suplexes Bryan on
the barricade. The referee and the doctor go back to Bryan and decide they have
seen enough. Crowd not happy with that decision.
(Orton def. Bryan, referee stoppage, ***1/2, heck of a match with both guys
showing a sample of the work they would do later in the year. Orton and Bryan
hug it out.)
** Looking back on how we got to tonight’s Main Event: CM Punk vs. Alberto Del
New Divas Champion A.J. Lee skips to the ring with Big E Langston. Rarely do
they give the women any in-ring interview time so this explains what the powers
that be thought of Lee. She says she’s the best Divas champion ever and any
bitch that disputes that can come down and take it up with her. And there’s
Stephanie McMahon…to no pop…Once they get in the ring I lose focus on what they
are talking about because Stephanie TOWERS over A.J., now she’s wearing
four-inch heels but still she’s easily close to a foot taller. Anyway they go
back and forth about feminism. A.J. suggest that instead of dating superstars
she should act like Stephanie and marry one. Ugh. Stephanie says that no one
does crazy like a McMahon. She ain’t lying. Anyway this really doesn’t go
anywhere as Kaitlyn jumps out and Stephanie gets pissed at her for
interrupting. Whatever. They could have done something a little bigger here
between A.J. and Stephanie but they bailed out. A.J. and Kaitlyn had a brawl
and Kaitlyn’s tit popped out. What happened to her anyway.
** Up next: Dean Ambrose defends the U.S. Title.
U.S. Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Kane
Kane takes the quick advantage with the power moves, misses a blind charge but
drops Ambrose with the big boot. Kane sets too early off an irish whip but
catches Ambrose with a power slam for two. Corner whip and Kane follows in with
clotheslines. Sidewalk side by Kane gets a two count. Kane up to the top and
hits the big clothesline and Roman Reigns jumps in for the quick DQ. Spear and
triple powerbomb follow.
** Mark Henry hugs it out with the Primetime Players. Apparently he’s got a big
** The Shield is beaming as they walk backstage. Vickie is pissed but the
Shield don’t care and she’s about to deliver her punishment when Vince McMahon
enters the picture and says the Shield reminds him of him. Ruthless aggression.
He then tells Kane for worth it’s worth he’s never liked Kane anyhow.
** Another Wyatt Family promo. They’re still not here yet.
** Zeb Coulter introduces the newest member of “We The People”, Antonio Cesaro
and now we have a match.
William Regal vs. Antonio Cesaro
Cesaro with a take down and Regal with a kip up and a throw. Cesaro corners
Regal and pounds away. A European uppercut drops Regal and he adds a gut wrench
suplex but Regal bridges out of the kickoff. Cesaro with a double stomp to the
chest. Regal back with uppercuts of his own and drops Cesaro with a hard left.
Regal goes for the double underhook but Cesaro straight powers out of it and
drops Regal on his back. Cesaro gives Regal a swinging chinlock and the
neutralizer to finish things. Obviously this was just a squash for Cesaro as
these two can do much much better when given time.
** The Champ is Here and he’s coming up next!
** Rob Van Dam is still returning at Money in the Bank
John Cena sprints to the ring fresh off of a 3 Stages of Hell title defense
over Ryback. He panders to the crowd a bit and points out a guy wearing a CM
Punk shirt that has started a “Cena sucks” chant. Cena says he had a terrible
2012 and he had to ask his fans to hang in there. But 2013 has proven to be his
time thus far and six months into 2013 he proudly says “The Champ is Here”. And
then Mark Henry walks out holding his wrestling boots in one hand and he leaves
them at the top of the stage which should have been a sign right there as
proper decorum says to leave them in the center of the circle (or ring,
Henry tells Cena to put his guard down and shakes his hand. Henry, fighting back
tears, plays to the crowd wonderfully and talks about when he first met Cena in
2002 and how he’s turned into the star he knew he could be. Henry, wearing a
Salmon suit says “if you forget me, you’ll at least remember this suit” and
then the crowd lovingly chants “sexual chocolate”. Henry says Cena is going at
a rate of where he’ll eventually be the greatest WWE champion of all time.
Henry talks about his accomplishments and says while he hasn’t been as
successful as Cena he’s done pretty well for himself. Seriously I didn’t see this
coming the first time? What drug was I on? Henry announces his retirement and
the crowd applauds as Cena gives Henry the belt to hold up. Henry, continuing
to sell with tears, talks about traveling the world and doing more than anyone
could have expected from a kid that grew up in Silsbee, Texas. He mentions his
family, wife and children by name and says he’s coming home! Cena raises his
hand and gets him a hug so Henry returns the favor and gives him the World’s
Strongest Slam! This was just AMAZING execution and the Monday Night Mic was going nuts
if I remember correctly. Henry tells Cena “that’s what he does”. This was
pretty much the end of awesome Mark Henry as now he’s back to being a babyface
that gets pinned way too easily.
** Main Event tonight: CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio
** A look back at Mark Henry punking out John Cena.
** Henry cuts a second promo and calls everyone who believed him a bunch of
puppets. The WWE is the only thing he hasn’t held and he’s challenging Cena for
it right now. The reason Henry has two boots is because he’s going to leave one
of them in his ass.
Chris Jericho vs. Heath Slater
Jericho and Slater do a headlock sequence and then Jericho lays in the chops
but Slater rallies with a leg lariat that gets two. Slater with a charge and he
eats boot. Two shoulderblocks from Jericho and he hits an axe from the top
rope. Running bulldog but McIntyre nails Jericho as he goes for the lionsault.
Slater gets two off the interference and body slams Jericho. Slater goes to the
middle rope but misses the knee. Another running bulldog and the lionsault hits
this time. Codebreaker finishes things. He beats up McIntyre and Mahal too.
** Matt Striker talks with Heyman and Curtis Axel backstage. Striker wants to
know about the dissension between Punk and Heyman but Heyman switches the
attention to Axel and says he was “bred to be better than perfect.”
Sin Cara vs. Curtis Axel
The Miz joins the talking heads at ringside. They give Axel some weird glowing
light treatment, similar to what Kane got back in the day. Axel works on Sin
Cara but he rallies with a drop kick. Axel comes back with a shoulder and a weird back suplex that
gets two. Axel tries to get Sin Cara in a powerslam but Sin Cara counters with
a reverse DDT. He hits a couple of high kicks and a somersault senton but Axel
lifts his knees. Axel with an implant DDT and the victory. Axel and The Miz
lock eyes but nothing comes of it.
** Next up is our Main Event
** Vince McMahon talks to Brad & Vickie about the Mark Henry situation and
they make the Henry-Cena match for Money at the Bank. He applauds them on a
great show. Stephanie comes in and talks about the show being out of control.
HHH walks in and screams at Vickie for not putting the Shield in their place. HHH
tells Vickie to listen to him. Vince tells her not to work about HHH and
understand he’s the boss. Stephanie suggests she not listen to either of them.
Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk
Punk jumps on Del Rio immediately and Del Rio bails out quickly. Back in the
ring and the same sequence is repeating as Del Rio takes a powder. This time
Punk follows him and roughs him up on the barricade. Back in the ring and Del
Rio gets the first shot. Big kick to the head gets two for Del Rio. Snap Suplex
by Del Rio gets another two. Punk rallies and hits knees in succession on Del
Rio in the corner until referee Charles Robinson pulls him off. Del Rio goes
after the arm but Punk fights back with forearms. Punk goes for the GTS but Del
Rio bails on him so Punk hits a suicide dive as Cole and JBL are starting to
get annoying with their bickering. Back in the ring and Del Rio goes back to
the arm and sends Punk to the floor.
** Commercial Break
We’re back and Punk escapes an arm crucifix with a throw but Del Rio catches Punk
on a charge with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Another nasty kick to the
head and a running knee gets a two count. Del Rio goes to the top but gets
caught with a shot to the gut. Spinning low kick and a leg lariat by Punk. High
knees by Punk, the roundhouse kick misses and Del Rio with an elevated
armbreaker. Del Rio drapes Punk on the
ropes and gives him consecutive forearms to the kidneys and a backstabber for
two. Del Rio misses the superkick and Punk rolls him up for two, Del Rio hits
superkick on the second try and gets two. Del Rio looking for the cross arm
breaker but Punk counters with a high knee and the GTS that sends Del Rio to
the floor. Rodriguez helps Del Rio to his feet and they decide to take a walk
when Ziggler attacks both men from behind to…not much of a pop sadly.
(CM Punk def. Del Rio, countout, ***1/4, usual stuff from those two guys.)
And what is that music I hear….Brock Lesnar comes in with no fan fare and minimal crowd reaction probably because they were shocked. Lesnar circles the ring as
Punk looks on confusingly and asks for the mic. Brock thinks about his
statement and then decides to just give Punk the F5 because he doesn’t need to
The Bottom Line: This card set up Money in the Bank and Summerslam perfectly,
which along with Payback, gave the WWE it’s best three-month span of the year.
The Mark Henry-Cena stuff was effective and even though the program lasted just
one month it ended with a solid blowoff match at Money in the Bank. Punk and Lesnar would have a classic at Summerslam and the early seeds of the future program with Orton and Bryan were being set up. Unfortunately they couldn’t keep up this momentum after Summerslam.
1. Benoits total intensity and ass-kicking he gave to the "nWo B-Team" throughout
2. Many cage bumps and cage-spots that I am surprised didn't draw some blood
3. It felt like it went by QUICK
4. Proper booking as Mongo, Konnan & Bagwell didn't really slow the pace down, everyone who entered turned it back into a fresh brawl
5. The Heels using Heel tactics instead of the usual NWO "we are just cooler than them, they don't matter" personality
6. Horsemen's out-heeling them to pop the crowd and Benoits spit and "bite me" to the mic
And finally, I remember as a Kid i didn't seen the Henning turn coming, and was equally heartbroken. But they pulled it off well, right up until he punched Mongo, and I would totally have backed it all except…who the fuck booked the remaining crap angles after that? a fucking 5-year old knows you leave Flair off tv till Starrcade where he returns and beats the living shit out of Henning for turning not only on him, but The Horsemen. So like I said, on its own, I really friggin dug Wargames 97, and I can't be the only one. Thoughts?
Thank you and keep up the good work
> Everyone is upset with Rock/Cena, cause they're sick of Super-Cena and don't want to see him win again and it's never going to end…. but I was thinking about this:
> – During the first ten WrestleManias, the biggest stars were Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, with Hogan clearly the bigger star. But he was done after WrestleMania IX and Savage done after Mania X.
> – The next ten WrestleManias, the biggest stars were Steve Austin and The Rock with Austin clearly the bigger star, and Austin was done after IX and the Rock done after WrestleMania XX.
> – So WrestleManias 21 – 28 have featured John Cena and Randy Orton as the biggest stars at the time (maybe HHH instead of Orton, but I don't think so), with Cena the bigger star of the two. If the pattern holds, then this will be the last time we see Cena at a WrestleMania, and Orton will be done next year.
> I mean, probably not, but it's kind of comforting though if you really hate Cena.
> – Joe
http://www.cracked.com/article_19868_6-ways-japanese-wrestling-makes-wwe-look-sane.html – Check out this awesome article on Cracked.com