Rock v. Cena is SO two days ago.

Hey, Scott,
I’m a long time reader of your work, and, like you, I was thinking John Cena would likely pin the Rock at Wrestlemania, either cleanly or by shenanigans.    And (possibly like you) I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong about that.  But a lot of people posting online seem to think it was absurd for Rock to beat Cena due to the fact that Cena wrestles full-time while Rock is basically a “guest star.”  My take:  Rock is a part-time wrestler, but a full-time entertainer.  From Vince McMahon’s pov, the WWE is not just a wrestling company, but a global entertainment company involved in wrestling, movies, reality shows, etc.  To Vince, that probably makes a guy like The Rock a much more valuable entity than Cena.  Rock is successful both inside and outside of wrestling, while Cena is only really valuable within the wrestling circle.  From that standpoint, I can totally see why putting Rock over Cena makes perfect business sense.  But what do you think?  Should Rock have “passed the torch” to Cena to make him a bigger wrestling star, or does it make better sense to have Rock win and preserve his drawing power as an overall entertainment star?

John Cena has been on the top of the promotion for SEVEN YEARS STRAIGHT.  He doesn’t need to have the torch passed to him.  John Cena has already done everything one human being can possibly do in professional wrestling, and the result of the Rock match did not make him a bigger or lesser star one iota either way.  John Cena was already so far above everyone else on the roster that they had to bring BROCK LESNAR out of his cave in Minnesota in order to give him a challenge.  And another topic relating to this:

The biggest problem about Cena losing to The Rock this time is because- like Hogan/Andre and Rock/Hogan, Cena/Rock isn’t really ABOUT John Cena or The Rock- it’s about “the current era” vs. “the past era.”  During the buildup, the things Rock said about “Cena” himself were noise. The real thing Rock was saying that worked the most was “If you’re a Cena fan, you’re a little kid or a 42-year-old virgin in your mother’s basement.” THIS is where the issue comes in for why Cena should have won- the message is, and always was more than “John Cena hates The Rock, The Rock hates John Cena”- it was “Only losers still watch WWE today. If you were COOL, you’d only watch old tapes from the Attitude Era.”
THIS is the reason Rock/Cena’s result failed- it’s the same thing that made WCW fall apart. The nWo took so much power, and said “WCW sucks, if you watch WCW, you’re lame” for long enough that eventually, the fans caught on and took the message. And now, with Cena losing to Rock, the message becomes “WWE sucks, if you watch us, you’re lame”- only worse because a part-time wrestler is the one saying it, so you can’t even watch Raw or Smackdown to see The Rock do his thing if you believe it. And even if Cena wins a subsequent match at Summerslam or next year at Wrestlemania 29, the damage would still be done- compare it to this year’s Super Bowl. In 2008, the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots, and in the process stopped them from having an undefeated record. The same teams played in 2012- but everyone knew, even if the Patriots were to have defeated the Giants- it wouldn’t be anywhere near as important as the year that they had lost.

Yeah, but Rock was part of the show for weeks leading up to Wrestlemania.  Was Vince McMahon stealing valuable spots from people on previous Wrestlemanias just because he only worked one match a year, too?  And the current era sucks, that’s why WWE themselves is constantly doing their navel-gazing fond looks back at the Attitude Era and signing former guys.  Because that was the last generation of stars who knew how to DRAW MONEY.  Maybe if Vince would let anyone else but Cena or Orton actually get over, he’s find someone else to carry that mythical torch.  And WCW did suck, and it was lame.  I don’t see the issue.

The SmarK RAW Supershow Rant–04.02.12

  The SmarK RAW Supershow Rant – 04.02.2012 Johnny Ace gives a peptalk to the roster to start, but CM Punk is already standing up and lipping him off. So Johnny retaliates the best way he knows how: Making matches! Santino v. Jack Swagger v. Dolph Ziggler! CM Punk v. Mark Henry! It’s a new era…again. Live from Miami, FL Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler The Rock opens the show to a pop that blows the roof off the arena. And finally, the Rock has come back home. He notes that the match with Cena gave him a “JHC moment”, as in “Jesus H Christ get this guy off me!” Yet another funny bit as he reminisces about getting cut from the Canadian Football League and noting how much you have to suck for that to happen. Ouch. But true. The crowd pleads with him to stay, but Rock had a vision while dancing the night away in Miami. And that vision is be WWE champion again someday. I wouldn’t bet against him. US title: Santino Marella v. Jack Swagger v. Dolph Ziggler Santino tries running away and gets double-teamed, and the heels take turns humiliating him. Santino manages to backdrop Ziggler out, and we take a break. I should note we just took a break BEFORE the match started. Hopefully they’re loading up the ads early to save time for something awesome. Back with Santino coming back with the cobra, but Ziggler DDTs him. The heels hit a double-team fameasser, but disagree on who should pin him. Swagger turns on Ziggler and eats the cobra as a result at 5:18. Team Vickie go for the beatdown, but Brodus Clay makes the save to finally get a storyline. Santino and Brodus could totally work as a unit. Match was nothing and mostly occurred during the commercial. * LORD TENSAI v. Alex Riley They actually acknowledge Matt Bloom’s past and the crowd chants “Welcome back” and then “A-Train”. As expected, this is a total demolition, as Tensai headbutts him into mush in the corner and hits a butterfly powerbomb and senton. Elbows in the corner knock Riley silly and the BALDO BOMB finishes at 2:50, with the ref stopping the match. Afterwards we get an IRON CLAW, which actually works well with him. Crowd wasn’t really buying into it, but we’ll see where they go with him. *1/2 WWE title: CM Punk v. Mark Henry This is actually an interesting matchup that we haven’t seen before, which makes me wonder why they’d waste it on free TV. Henry easily overpowers Punk and stomps him on the ropes, as the crowd starts a “Yes!” chant (stemming from the Rock’s opening promo) to fire up Punk. That’s gonna get annoying. Henry pounds him in the corner (“I didn’t TELL you to move!”) , but Punk kicks at the knees and gets a DDT for two. Punk with kicks (“Yes! Yes! Yes!”) and a Shining Wizard for two. He goes up and gets caught, but fires back until Henry kicks him in the head to put him down again, thus RUINING the crowd’s climactic “Yes” chant. Vaderbomb misses, but Punk springboards right into a clothesline and we take a break. Back with Henry continuing the abuse with a nerve hold, but a blind charge misses and Punk fires back again and leads up to the high kick as this crowd is just insanely into the “Yes” thing. Punk with the flying elbow and the running knees into the corner, but Henry tosses him out of the ring on the bulldog attempt. And Punk is counted out at 14:10. That’s fine, keeps Henry strong and Punk retains the title. ***1/4 Henry destroys him with a World’s Strongest Slam on the floor afterwards, Johnny comes out and basically promises to make Punk defend the title every week to make his life miserable, and then Jericho comes out of the crowd to dump booze on him and smash a bottle over his head. So not Punk’s best week. And that is how you build sympathy for a babyface. Sheamus joins us for his victory promo, but Alberto Del Rio immediately interrupts. The crowd, in rare form tonight, chants “Si!” for him. And then they talk over ADR with “Daniel Bryan” chants. And then they boo the shit out of Sheamus when he’s talking. Uh oh, they might have shot themselves in the foot with the 18 second thing. ADR basically announces himself as the next challenger, and the crowd boos it and chants for Daniel Bryan. I hope someone was paying attention there. Sheamus lays out ADR with the Brogue Kick, and then we cut back to Bryan in the back watching, which triggers a gigantic babyface pop from the crowd. BACKFIRED. Cody Rhodes v. Kofi Kingston Cody puts Kofi down with a clothesline to start, but gets hit with a bodypress for two. Disaster kick looks to finish, but Big Show interrupts with a Cody Rhodes Wrestlemania moment. And he walks into the kick and gets pinned at 1:40. Yeah, that really makes Kofi look tough. He was beaten in 40 seconds by Cody and then got a fluke win. Meanwhile, Abraham Washington returns, attempting to solicit the services of Mark Henry. I don’t even really remember who he was. Eve comes out and brags about screwing over Zack Ryder. And uh, yeah, that’s about it. The Miz v. Zack Ryder Zack is actually fired up for once, beating on Miz outside and bringing him in for two. Miz boots him out of the corner and goes to a chinlock, but Zack blocks a charge and makes the comeback. Broski Boot gets two. Miz sends him into the post and finishes with the stroke at 2:54. Another day, another job for Ryder. You’d think, hey, both guys are fired up after Wrestlemania and have an issue, maybe do a brawl between them and set something up for a PPV, but no, Miz just puts him away and that’s it. ** John Cena gets the main event interview, once again suffering the wrath of the insanely pumped Miami crowd. He’s not making excuses, and he meant everything he said. The crowd lets him know that he’s a loser. Why don’t they have every show in Miami? He assures us that he will not turn on the fans, and he’ll work even HARDER to be Super-Cena now. So he’s not here to “call out” the Rock, and now the crowd wants Lesnar. Cena does not, he wants the Rock, and he wants to tell him that he’s the greatest superstar in the industry. The crowd still wants Lesnar, so Cena leads them in a “Yes” chant and puts over Daniel Bryan, and he’s still going on about the Rock and how he was the better man. And in other news, the sky is still blue. And instead of the Rock, we get THE BROCK. And Cena eats an F5 to end the show. So there’s that. Lemme say, I basically stopped watching RAW originally because I basically followed Brock Lesnar to UFC, and now he’s back here, so if you think I’m obnoxious with my Rock fanboyism, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The Pulse: Who cares if the show was good or bad, it was an all-time classic thanks to the smarky crowd to end all smarky crowds, and I loved it. Here’s hoping Brock Lesnar continues the exciting new trend of John Cena getting his ass handed to him at the end of major PPVs, because I would buy them all if so. Let’s close with an e-mail that I got while typing up the rant: “Hi Scott,
Blog fodder:  The Miami crowd was extremely vocal this evening, surpassing places like Toronto and Philly as smark central, bizarro world, etc.  They were chanting for Daniel Bryan throughout, including during Sheamus’ promo time, and obviously they sidetracked Cena with the chants for Lesnar.
In the past, the crowds in Toronto and Philly have been cute (Philly more so, maybe because of the legacy…I seem to recall more people than not wanting Toronto crowds just to STFU), but tonight for some reason, it was going overboard, like they crowd was determined that they WOULD be heard, dammit, whether anyone liked it or not.  Granted, the audience is always (or often) right in terms of what they want, but I’d have to say that Brock’s return was somewhat lessened b/c of the chants for him, and Sheamus’s big emergence as World champ was diluted by the crowd’s focus on Bryan. And not that anyone would give a shit about del Rio really, but he had NO chance out there.
So I’m curious as to your and other people’s thoughts regarding when the crowd is so overpowering, since tonight I think WWE almost lost control of the show with the crowd crossing from being a part of it to trying to dictate its pace.”
That’s what happens when you neuter your talent by forcing them to read lines off of scripts instead of training them to lead the crowd and improvise. If Vince can’t handle the crowd like the master showman he always hypes himself up to be, then too fucking bad for him. I hope the crowd shits all over his booking decisions every week until he takes the hint, because it’ll make for really entertaining television and hopefully wake him up. His mouthpieces are always “blah blah blah best fans in the world freedom of speech blah blah blah”, so now they can put up or shut up. Hopefully the latter since the former is unlikely. clip_image001

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 XXVIII

Wrestlemania XXVIII
Date: April 1, 2012
Location: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida
Attendance: 78,363
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler
America the Beautiful: Lillian Garcia

As I wrote out that title, I almost started shaking. Today is Wrestlemania Sunday. In less than two and a half hours, the show is going to begin. This is the day that we as fans wait for all year long. Everything ends tonight and at the same time, everything begins. You all know the card by now, but for those who might forget, the main event is John Cena vs. The Rock, Once In A Lifetime (until ratings go down and we need a rematch). Let’s get to it.

First up we’ve got a pre-show match as a bonus.

Tag Titles: Justin Gabriel/Tyson Kidd vs. Primo/Epico vs. Usos

Primo/Epico have the titles and have beaten the Usos about five times already. Kidd and Gabriel are teaming for the first time after Kidd asked Gabriel if he wanted to be a team. Gabriel said yes, and apparently that qualifies you as deserving a title match. New tights for the Usos here. Josh and Striker are doing commentary for this match. This is under WCW rules as in three in the ring at once, but in a twist you can only tag your own partner.

Jey, Tyson and Primo start things off. Primo is sent to the floor and Tyson gets two off a sunset flip. Primo comes back in with a missile dropkick as Jey gets beaten down. Kidd makes the save but gets DDTed for two. Primo loads up a superplex on Jey but Tyson springboards up to make it a Tower of Doom in a cool twist on the traditional spot there. Tags bring in Epico and Jimmy but I think Kidd is still legal for his team.

Jimmy comes out of the corner with a spinning cross body and a Bubba Bomb for two. Tag to Gabriel who jumps over Jimmy but walks into a Samoan attack. Back to Jey who hits an assisted Samoan Drop. Jimmy tags in quickly for a double Rikishi attack to Epico and Gabriel. Epico gets dropped onto Primo so Jey can hit a HUGE dive onto both of them.

Kidd pops up on the apron but Jimmy launches him to Jey for a Samoan Drop. Gabriel sets for a top rope Asai Moonsault and hits it on his second attempt. Better safe than sorry on that spot. He tries the springboard 450 but (mostly) hits knees. Backstabber by Epico pins Jey at 5:05.

Rating: B-. Really fun opener here with the six smaller guys being thrown out there to fire up the crowd. That’s what cruiserweights and hot Latin women that can shake their hips were made for so you can’t ask for much more than that. I’m a big Uso fan so seeing them on Wrestlemania was a cool thing to see. Very good start to the night.

Lillian opens us with America the Beautiful. She even sings the second verse.

The opening video is about how this is the beginning, which includes a set of clips of the beginning of a lot of guys’ careers, including some shots of Cena in OVW. We also get some shots of the main guys’ careers. It’s the four in the main events only, which makes sense.

Smackdown World Title: Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan

Makes sense. Might as well make this the most worthless world title match in company history given the build for it so far. Cole and Lawler are calling this alone. Bryan has his robe here and AJ is looking GREAT. We get the kiss to start and Brogue Kick and it’s over in 8 seconds. I kid you not it was that fast.

We have 7 matches left and almost four hours to go. Each match could conceivably get 20 minutes each.

Miz fires up Team Johnny in the back. They don’t seem to care until Otunga comes in to introduce Johnny in a white suit. He says this is going to be a night in the ranks of Hogan slamming Andre and Austin refusing to submit to Bret.

Win a trip to Wrestlemania 29.

Kane vs. Randy Orton

This is over Kane shaking Randy’s hand last year and hating himself for it. I can’t imagine this feud isn’t going to continue after this. Seeing Kane in daylight in the welder’s mask makes him look pretty ridiculous. Kane takes him into the corner to start as I think the fans are chanting for Orton. Well it’s longer than the previous match at least. Orton escapes a chokeslam and stomps on the foot/ankle.

Elevated DDT (called a bulldog by that idiot Cole) is countered and Kane drapes him over the top rope for a big boot. This is Kane’s 14th Mania which has to be up there on the all time list. Kane takes him down and it’s off to a chinlock. Orton fights up with punches but runs into the uppercut for two. Side slam gets two. Kane again stops Orton’s comeback and hits a vertical suplex for two.

A headbutt slows Kane down and Orton spins out of another side slam via a backflip. Orton’s backbreaker puts Kane down but his clotheslines don’t do much. There’s the powerslam and Kane’s shoulder goes into the post. Kane comes back and goes up but his clothesline is countered by a dropkick in a cool spot. Orton loads up the Punt but runs into the chokeslam for two. Kane is frustrated so he does an Undertaker situp.

He pounds Orton down in the corner but Randy comes back with a right of his own. RKO is countered but Orton kicks the knee out again. Randy charges into an elbow and Kane goes up but there’s Orton again. Orton pounds him down on the ropes and goes up with him. He loads up something but Kane grabs him by the throat and gets the pin with a super chokeslam at 10:55.

Rating: B-. This was my upset pick and I wasn’t disappointed. That ending was pretty cool too as it looked great. Orton usually brings it at Wrestlemania and this was no exception as he got a decent match out of Kane. I’m likely overrating it but this is a match I’ve wanted to see for years.

Santino is with a captain from the show Deadliest Catch. They’re having I think king crabs and Mick Foley is with them. He puts on a yellow hat and talks like a pirate but the captain tells him no one talks like that. There are Socko and The Cobra and they attack the crabs. Ron Simmons comes in and you know the rest.

The National Guard is awesome.

Intercontinental Title: Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes

The idea here is that Big Show can’t win at Wrestlemania and Cody has made fun of him for it. Cody immediately bails to the floor and Show goes after him. Cody has red trunks tonight. He dives onto Show on the floor and is tossed back in via a SCARY show of strength. Show destroys Cody with chops and gives him a Stink Face. Cody goes after the knee to get Big Show down which is smart.

Show is down on the mat now as Cody shouts about how this is his moment. He hooks a standing leg lock and Show is in some trouble. He starts to get up but Cody drapes the arm across the top rope to slow him down. Disaster Kick (I guess it’s no longer Beautiful) staggers Show but a second attempt results in a spear. WMD gives Show the title at 5:23.

Rating: D+. I wasn’t wild on this but it’s a good way to get the title off Rhodes. That being said, I don’t buy the whole “Show gets his moment” deal at all. He was in the main event before, so how exactly is winning the IC Title in about 5 minutes a bigger deal? Doesn’t work for me at all, but this should be enough for Cody to move up the ladder.

Show cries post match and kisses I’m assuming his wife.

Video on what it means to be a Diva. This would be better used with the sound off.

Maria Menounos/Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix/Eve Torres

This is a REALLY risky move as the other four matches are Punk vs. Jericho, the Cell, the main event and the Battle of the GM’s. That’s a stacked final four matches and I’d be worried about them overcrowding the second half of the show. We get the video of the evil ones invading Extra. Maria arguing back at them is still horribly bad. She has a legit case of bad ribs due to Dancing With The Stars, plus stress fractures in her feet.

The sun has gone down now and the stadium looks awesome. Eve and Kelly start things off. Kelly charges into a boot in the corner but the moonsault results in her getting crotched. Here’s Maria and it’s a double Stink Face. Beth kicks her in the bad ribs and Eve goes with a bodyscissors. Maria fires off some decent elbows as the fans chant for her to tap. Beth comes in with a modified bearhug but Maria fights out and tags Kelly.

The annoying screaming blonde does her usual stuff but adds a Molly Go Round for two as Eve saves. Glam Slam is countered into a bulldog and there’s the tag to Maria. She….goes up and this isn’t going to end well. Beth drills her and sets for a gorilla press, but Kelly gets her down and shoves Beth into Eve so Maria can get the rollup pin at 6:54.

Rating: C+. You know, given the amount of injuries to Maria, this was really impressive. That girl legit tries out there every time and you can’t ask for more than anything than that. Decent match and the Kelly flip dive wasn’t bad. When Kelly is the worst worker in a match that involves a celebrity, you know there’s a problem.

Shawn says this match is the end of an era. If HHH loses, it’s the end of the Game. Shawn thinks it’s ironic that he can end an era.

New attendance record: 78,363.

JR is here to call the rest of the show. Is that a beard on him?

The Undertaker vs. HHH

Well this is quite the first hour main event. It’s 8:03 and we’ve got four matches left, which means this and Rock vs. Cena are going to need to be about 35 minutes each. They can do it but that would be a lot. This is billed as The End of an Era, but I don’t know what HHH is exactly putting up. If he loses, it’s the same thing as last year. This is inside Hell in a Cell and Shawn Michaels is guest referee.

No buildup package so I’ll help you out here. Taker beat HHH last year but had to be carried out, so he asked for a rematch. HHH didn’t want to do it so Taker played the “Shawn is better than you” card to get him to say yes. The rest of it was a lot of ego stroking and here we are. HHH’s big entrance this year is him coming out of something that looks like Vader’s old helmet with spikes on it.

Shawn’s shirt isn’t tucked in. It’s Wrestlemania and he’s that sloppy? I think we need a new icon. Taker’s robe looks like it has muscles painted onto it. Or does it look Japanese? These entrances still give me chills, even if he’s bald under there. We get lightning, thunder and smoke as always. His head isn’t completely bald but it’s close enough. It’s almost a mowhawk with hair on the side of it if that makes sense. That look kind of works on him actually.

The Cell is lowered to Memory Remains by Metallica. Slugout to start and JR calls Taker’s punches carcinogenic. HHH comes back so Taker throws him into the corner. The haircut is attributed to HHH not giving him a rematch immediately. Ok then. Out to the floor and Taker goes into the Cell. Now HHH goes into it and is backdropped. This appears to be the taller model with the very little space between the cage and the ring.

Taker pounds on him and chokes on the floor. Shawn tries to break up the choking but Taker knocks him away. Into the cage again as Taker has controlled so far. HHH goes into the steps and we go back inside. The Facebuster is no sold and Taker clotheslines him down. Old School connects and HHH is down. Back to the floor and Taker rams the steps into the Game’s face.

The steps are placed in the ring and Taker this the legdrop (loathsome according to JR) on the apron. Back in HHH grabs a DDT from out of nowhere to put both guys down. HHH rams Taker’s head into the steps three times and tries a Pedigree on the steps which is countered into a backdrop. Taker charges into a spinebuster onto the steps but he manages to grab the Hell’s Gate which won the match last year. In a REALLY impressive counter, HHH picks him up into a powerbomb for two.

We’re ten minutes into this and it feels like we’re only in the beginning. Here are two chairs from HHH and one goes into Taker’s ribs and back. The steps are set up in the corner and Taker gets whipped into them. HHH throws them out of the ring and there’s another chair to the back of Undertaker. The Game goes Stone Cold with the chair and Shawn tries to stop him but can’t.

Shawn finally throws the chair out and HHH says if Shawn wants it to end, then end it. HHH grabs the other chair and shoves Shawn down to beat on Taker some more. That must be about 20 shots with it so far. Taker specifically says not to stop it when Shawn asks. Taker gets up and a shot to the ribs and back puts him right back down, getting two. HHH heads to the floor and there’s the sledgehammer.

HHH says he doesn’t care as he’s basically turning heel mid match. He keeps telling Shawn to end it but Taker keeps saying no when Shawn asks to end it. Sledgehammer to the face gets two. There appears to be some blood over HHH’s eye and oh yes there is. It’s not bad but it’s certainly there. HHH sets for a BIG shot to Taker’s prone head but Shawn stops it and throws the hammer to the floor.

HHH keeps shouting at Shawn to end it because Taker is done. Shawn pulls his finger up to end it but can’t do it. He looks at Taker and thinks about doing it again but still can’t do it. Now he looks at Taker again…and Taker puts Shawn in the Hell’s Gate! HHH hits Taker in the head with the hammer but Shawn is down now. HHH sets for a big hammer shot but Taker kicks him low and puts the Hell’s Gate on again.

There’s no Shawn and HHH drops the hammer. HHH tries the powerbomb counter but can’t do it. He grabs the hammer again but passes out. No wait he’s back up. Taker’s face is a meme in waiting. Shawn is still down and Taker has to let the hold go due to exhaustion. Both guys are out. Here’s Charles Robinson who unlocks the cage to a ton of booing. Chokeslam to HHH gets two. Robinson gets a chokeslam for the count. Eh you knew it was going to be Shawn to count the fall so that’s no shock.

The fans think this is awesome and they would be correct. Shawn kicks Taker into the Pedigree but it gets a VERY close two. I really thought that was it. That didn’t happen at all last year which makes this even better than last year. Shawn is distraught that he almost counted the fall after interfering. HHH has the hammer again and he throws Shawn to the floor. The Game goes after Taker with the hammer but Taker sits up, making HHH fall down in fear.

Here’s the Big Dead Comeback with all of his old favorites. Snake Eyes into the big boot is followed by a legdrop. Tombstone plants HHH but only gets two. Not even a close two either. Shawn looks like he’s about to cry in the corner. They slug it out from their knees to their feet and HHH Pedigrees him out of nowhere for two. It wasn’t a great one so it’s a bit more believable. Taker sits up again and grabs a chair. HHH has the hammer but Taker steps on it. Now HHH takes the beating with the chair and the chair is bent. All of the shots only get two though.

Shawn yells at both of them to let it end already. HHH tries to grab Shawn to pull himself up and gets the hammer. Taker can’t follow up and HHH is in agony. He tries a hammer shot but Taker blocks it due to HHH’s exhaustion. Now Taker has the hammer and HHH shoves him away. There’s a crotch chop so Taker hits him in the face with the hammer. Shawn turns his back on the match and the hammer is thrown to the floor. There go the straps and the throat slit sets up the tombstone for the pin at 30:53.

Rating: A+. I liked this a lot better than last year’s. Of the four matches these three have combined for, I’d put this at second best after HBK vs. Taker I, which is pretty high praise. Great match with some great drama and there were actual moments here where I thought the Streak was over, namely the DX Special finisher. Shawn added something here, but I don’t think it was as epic as they were shooting for. The Cell wasn’t a huge factor but it did add something to it as far as a visual goes. Great match and I loved it.

Shawn pulls Taker to his feet post match. Both of them help HHH to the back in a cool visual.

Hall of Fame video. It’s cool to see Flair up there.

Here are the Hall of Fame inductees. The Fink does the intros which is good. That man belongs at Wrestlemania. Tyson does a crotch chop of course. Edge is on the stage and gets his theme music played. No one says anything but it’s cool to see Flair there. Note that I said there and not in the ring.

Win a trip to Wrestlemania 29!

Josh is about to talk to Flo Rida when Heath freaking Slater says interview him instead. Flo Rida comes out and Slater asks about a duet. That gets a no so Slater wants to be a DJ or backup dancer. Those both get a no. Flo Rida says Slater can hold his mic. Slater gets in his face and Flo Rida shoves him into a wall. Hawkins and Reks come in to laugh at Slater. Ok then.

Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy

Johnny: The Miz, Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, David Otunga (captain)
Teddy: Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Booker T, Great Khali, Zack Ryder, Santino Marella (captain)

Otunga has his coffee cup with him too which is awesome. Vickie and Horny are flagbearers. The winning GM controls both shows. Eve is with Ryder. Aksana looks good in the Teddy shirt. Dolph and Kofi start things off and Dolph takes over. Kofi comes back with a top rope cross body for two and here’s Truth. Spinning legdrop gets two but Ziggler dropkicks him down.

Off to Drew who gets caught by the Lie Detector. Khali comes in and chops a bit before Booker gets the tag. Side slam gets two. JR is gone now. Otunga gets in a shot to Booker and Drew’s big boot allows him to tag Swagger. Why is swagger in aquamarine? He’s an ALL AMERICAN AMERICAN. Swagger takes him down and it’s time for Henry. He does absolutely nothing so it’s time for Miz.

Running knee lift gets two and it’s off to a chinlock. Back to Ziggy for a knee drop and then back to Miz. Booker finally gets some breathing room but Henry comes in for the World’s Strongest Slam. Khali chops Henry down and everything breaks down. Kofi/Truth hit double dropkicks to send the heels to the floor. For some reason they throw Horny onto Henry and then along with Ryder hit stereo dives to the floor. Aksana spears Vickie as the match is a mess.

Booker and Miz are down in the ring at the moment but there’s the tag to Santino. Santino does his usual stuff and the saluting headbutt from the top. Cobra is loaded up but he stops to go after Johnny. Cobra to Miz gets two as Dolph makes a VERY close save. Tag to Ryder who monkey flips Dolph and a neckbreaker takes down Miz. He loads up the Rough Ryder but Miz throws him onto Ziggler. He loads up the Broski Boot but Eve comes in for no apparent reason. The distraction lets Miz hit the Finale on Ryder for the pin at 10:42.

Rating: C. Was Otunga ever in the match? This was pretty much exactly what was expected with Eve screwing over the team “by mistake” and Johnny’s team winning. I don’t think anyone ever thought Team Teddy had a chance and even further ends the Brand Split, which is more or less dead already. No issues here for the most part.

Eve kicks Ryder in the balls post match and walks off with her hand on her hip.

Extreme Rules is in four weeks.

Alex Rodriguez and Torrie Wilson are here.

Video on what WWE has done for Miami.

Ace brags to Punk a bit about the win. If Punk gets disqualified, he loses the title. That sounds like the perfect setup for a rematch where Punk can’t get disqualified at Extreme Rules.

Raw World Title: Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk

If Punk, the champion, gets DQ’ed, he loses the title. We get a quick video recapping Punk’s rise up the roster and Jericho saying that Punk has addiction in his blood. They go to the mat quickly and Punk stomps away on him in the corner. Jericho slaps him as he’s trying to get disqualified. Punk stomps to four and then stops each time which is a nice touch. Jericho slaps him two more times and then hides. Punk dropkicks him in the corner and pounds on him to four again.

Jericho shouts about Punk’s father, earning him more elbows to the head. Punk loads up the Macho Elbow but Jericho rolls to the floor. Punk is cool with that and hits a top rope clothesline for two. Jericho asks about Punk’s sister which draws a chair from Punk but he won’t swing. A line about Punk’s sister being a drug addict doesn’t do it so Punk kicks him in the ribs instead. Punk throws the chair away and walks into a bottom rope dropkick (yes a bottom rope dropkick) to take the champion down.

Back elbow puts Punk on the outside. They go to the apron and Punk tries a GTS but the Canadian escapes and clotheslines Punk back in. Jericho suplexes him to the floor and it almost looked like a Jackhammer. Back inside that gets two. Butterfly backbreaker gets the same. Jericho is working on the back to set up the Walls. Off to a chinlock and then a kick to the back. Surfboard submission goes on so Punk jumps up into a dropkick to the gut in a nice counter.

Punk counters the bulldog by sending Jericho into the corner crotch first. CM makes his comeback with kicks and chops, plus a neckbreaker for two. Punk hits the knee in the corner but the bulldog is countered. Lionsault gets knees but Jericho counters into the Walls but that gets countered. Sweet sequence. High kick gets two and Chris is down. The Macho Elbow looks awkward as it looked like it hit but I think Jericho put his knees up, which doesn’t do much good for an elbow. That looked weird.

Codebreaker hits but Punk rolls out. Jericho throws him back in but walks into the GTS. Punk can’t cover immediately though and Jericho gets his foot on the rope. Another high kick misses but a powerslam gets two. We get a series of standing switches resulting in Jericho draping him over the top and hitting the Lionsault for two. Chris goes up and Punk tries a rana, but Jericho counters into the Walls in a sweet counter that I’ve seen him use before. Punk of course gets the rope but getting there was cool.

Jericho charges at him but Punk backdrops him to the floor. Punk is holding his back and Jericho stands in perfect position for the suicide dive from Punk. The fans are a little dead for some reason. I don’t get why as this has been a good match. In a SICK spot, Punk hits the running knee to the head of Jericho while it’s against the post.

Punk tries the springboard clothesline but jumps into the Codebreaker for two. That would have been back to back losses at Mania due to the springboard for Punk. Two GTS’s are countered and Jericho is getting frustrated. He goes up but Punk kicks him in the back. GTS is countered AGAIN, this time into the Liontamer and then the Walls. Punk crawls for the rope but Jericho drags him back into the middle.

The champ crawls through the legs into a small package and they reverse it a few times but Punk counters into the Vice which Jericho counters into a rollup for two but he can’t break the hold. Now Jericho knees him in the back of the head and FINALLY breaks the hold, countering into a Walls attempt. Punk counters THAT into the Vice and this time he leans his head forward so Jericho can’t knee him. Jericho is forced to tap at 22:23.

Rating: A. ANOTHER awesome match here. That finishing sequence was absolutely awesome with some SICK counters. I’m not sure if I’d call it a masterpiece or anything, but these two nailed it and it looked like Punk outsmarted Jericho using psychology he gained throughout the match, which is great stuff. Loved this and it’s another great match on a GREAT show so far.

Mania 29 will be in New Jersey.

FUNKASAURUS!!! AND HE’S TALKING!!! I don’t think most people care about him. He asks people to pull out their phones because they’re going to call their mamas. Brodus calls his mama and says he wishes she was there. His mama is here with the bridge club apparently. She was in the back….and he didn’t know it? She’s a woman with really weird hair and what has to be……oh my goodness the bridge club is all here to dance with her. There must be 20 old women out there dancing. I think I need a minute.

Go see G.I. Joe 2.

Clips of the Once in a Lifetime special to hype up the main event. If you don’t get the story here, go look it up.

Diddy introduces some rapper to sing one of the theme songs. The rapper defines an underdog who apparently is Cena in this. Uh….not quite but ok.

John Cena vs. The Rock

Writing that gave me a chill. Cena is booed but it’s not horrible. We get his traditional shot from the back as he runs to the ring. There’s a new green shirt too. Ok now he’s getting booed. There’s nothing really special to Cena’s entrance this year. Once Cena is in the ring Flo Rida does the other theme song to the show with a full set of backup dancers. Now some chick comes out to sing another song with him. Could the timing on this be worse?

Rock’s entrance really could have done without the dance troupe behind him and it made things look a bit less epic than they were going for. He looked like he was going in for a big fight though and that’s the important thing. We get a shot from above the stadium and it looks AWESOME. We get big match intros. This is really happening. Oh THERE are the boos for Cena. There are some cheers and it’s nowhere near MITB but it’s up there. Big pop for Rock as expected.

The bell rings at 10:24:42 after about a minute of staring. My heart is beating out of my chest as I can’t believe it’s finally here. They lock up and Cena shoves him off. He looks like he lost five pounds of air with the exhale after that. The dueling chants begin and it’s certainly not a one sided crowd. Rock shoves Cena off. That’s so Hogan (in a good way). They lock up again and Rock grabs a headlock.

They fight over a wristlock and Rock does Owen’s counter into a pair of armdrags and La Majistral for two. He did that at Survivor Series and Cena still looks stunned. Cena whips him in and gets perhaps the highest leapfrog I’ve ever seen into a headlock takeover. No one has an advantage of note after about four minutes. Rock lowers his head for Cena to kick him and Rock pops him with a right.

Cena charges and Rock tries a Sharpshooter, but John rolls to the floor. Rock catches Cena coming in but Cena sends him into the corner and hits some shoulders. Clothesline gets one and Rock gets to the rope. You know it occurs to me: Cena has an experience advantage here and a big one at that. He’s been in WWE going on ten years, whereas Rock was around less than seven in total, and that’s stretching A LOT.

Rock fires off some punches but misses a charge to send him to the floor. They’re starting slow but we have almost half an hour for the slow build. Rock gets dropped on the barricade and they go to the floor. Cena drops the ribs into the announce table and sits in the ring. Back in the ring and Cena is in control. Belly to belly gets two as he keeps working on the ribs. Now a bearhug which is a smart move. Cena’s power is often forgotten until the end of the match so this makes sense.

Rock fights out of it with punches and a DDT, but Cena fights back. Now Rock comes back with punches and the jumping clothesline. Spinebuster looks to set up the elbow but Cena picks the leg for an STF attempt. That gets countered so Cena comes back with the shoulders and ProtoBomb. The Shuffle hits but the AA is countered and they clothesline (kind of) each other.

They slug it out and Rock takes over with faster punches. He tries to do You Can’t See Me but Cena grabs the AA for two. NOW this is getting good, almost fifteen minutes into it. That’s not a bad thing mind you as it’s about what happens in every main event match. Cena might have a cut next to his nose but it’s not bad. Cena goes after Rock and gets caught in the Rock Bottom for two. Rock hammers him in the corner but walks into a side slam for two.

Cena goes up and takes forever, but manages to hit the top rope Fameasser for two. Out of nowhere Rock grabs the Sharpshooter and somehow it’s gotten even worse. We’re over twenty minutes into this and Rock is getting frustrated. Sharpshooter goes on again and he’s just pulling on the feet instead of wrapping his arm around them. They go to the floor as we’re over 20 minutes into this.

Cena goes into the steps and Rock is in full control so far. John goes into the steps again but as they come back in he sunset flips Rock (that boy can JUMP) but instead of covering he hooks the STF. The leg is bent in a freaky way. Rock almost gets the rope so Cena lets go and pulls back to the middle of the ring. Rock is starting to fade and he’s not very close to the rope. The referee takes forever to check the arm and it drops once. It drops twice, but on the third try Rock continues to channel Hogan (again awesome) to raise the arm. He FINALLY makes the rope and we’re not done yet.

We’re 24 minutes into this so it’s got to be running short on time. It’s 10:49 now so it can’t break forty minutes. Cena is tired but he walks into a Samoan Drop to put both guys down. They slug it out and both finishers are countered. Spinebuster puts Cena down and there goes the elbow pad. The People’s Elbow hits for two. Cena grabs a small package (easy big fella) for two. John grabs a slingshot to send Rock into the buckle and a rollup gets two.

Cena drives him to the corner and puts Rock up on the second rope. He looks like he’s setting for a superplex but Rock shoves him off. Rock looks very tired and I can’t blame him. It’s his first singles match in about 9 years and he’s going half an hour. Rock goes up top (huh?) and tries a cross body but Cena rolls throug and flips him onto his shoulders for the AA for TWO. I thought that might have been it. It’s 10:54 and they’ve gone thirty minutes now. John looks at his hand, takes off the wristband, and sets for the People’s Elbow but walks into the Rock Bottom for the pin at 30:40. WOW.

Rating: B+. I have no idea what the point of that is, but they did it. The match was never going to be able to live up to the hype and I don’t think it was going to ever be able to do so. I really don’t agree with the ending as there’s no incentive for a rematch now, Cena looks like he can’t beat a guy that’s been retired almost longer than he was active, and it does nothing for the guys sticking around. I don’t get it at all. Good match, close to great, not a masterpiece.

Rock poses to end the show.

Overall Rating: A+. This was an incredible show and one of the best Wrestlemanias I’ve ever seen. I was really worried about the pacing of the show for awhile but they pulled it off really well and it never dragged. There were multiple classics and that’s exactly what Wrestlemania is supposed to be. When the worst match is probably the Divas, that’s definitely a good sign.

As for the main event, it was indeed very good but I didn’t like the ending. Granted that’s two minutes after it so maybe that’ll change. I don’t hate it, but I don’t like it that well at the moment. Still though, it’s a very good match to end an amazing show and we’ll have to see where things go from here. Absolutely worth seeing though.

Results
Sheamus b. Daniel Bryan – Brogue Kick
Kane b. Randy Orton – Middle Rope Chokeslam
Big Show b. Cody Rhodes – WMD
Maria Menounous/Kelly Kelly b. Beth Phoenix/Eve Torres – Rollup to Beth
Undertaker b. HHH – Tombstone
Team Johnny b. Team Teddy – Skull Crushing Finale to Ryder
CM Punk b. Chris Jericho – Anaconda Vice
The Rock b. John Cena – Rock Bottom

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Yet Another Rock/Cena Question

How surprised are you that the WWE were able to pull this Cena/Rock match off? They actually were able to build a match one year out into this huge mega super event. Typical WWE don’t even think one week in advance, let alone plan something a year away and actually pull it off pretty damn successfully. I know it’s Cena/Rock and there is no way they could have screwed it up, but they deserve some credit, don’t they?

Yeah, some, but they didn’t really BUILD anything over that year.  They happened to announce it a year ago, then forgot about it completely for months, then had them teaming up at Survivor Series for no reason, and then finally starting building the actual match 6 weeks out.  Justin Shapiro had a great analogy, where the writers are high school students assigned a paper 6 weeks away and so they’re like “Well we’ve got 6 weeks to study and prep for this” and basically do nothing for the first 3 weeks before suddenly realizing that it’s due in 3 weeks and nothing has been done.  Clearly the creative team just can’t deal with stuff outside of their usual 4 week cycle (waste the first week, build for 3 weeks) and six weeks of build time was just WAY too much to deal with. 

Kyle’s News: Ric Flair has to mention TNA in his HOF speech?

According to sources, one thing TNA wanted when negotiating with WWE for Ric Flair’s Hall of Fame participation was that they wanted it to be said in some way during the show that Flair worked for TNA or was there due to TNA.

We’re not sure if WWE agreed to that particular stipulation, but it was one of the key things that was being discussed over the past few weeks.

Source: The Wrestling Observer Newsletter 

I appreciate TNA allowing Ric Flair to attend the Four Horsemen’s introduction into the Hall of Fame, even though if they said no, it might’ve caused a tirade. But, Flair should thank TNA for allowing him to attend this event on his own. TNA’s Upper Management shouldn’t be telling him he has to. 

TNA  is trying to get a cheap plug on a WWE show. Little does TNA know, president Obama could plug TNA on national TV and it wouldn’t help. Face the facts TNA: you’re more known now than 2006 and yet your shows gets almost the exact ratings it did then and  the buyrates have FALLEN a significant margin. Most people know what TNA is but decide not to watch it for a laundry list of reasons why and  I can’t blame them.  Flair saying I work for TNA isn’t going all of a sudden have a swarm of WWE fans google TNA and then become avid watchers of the product. Instead, try listening to your audience and see how that much helps than forcing 20 years out of their prime talent down their throats every second of air time you have, TNA. At the very least, you won’t have to can your TV shows anymore. 

The SmarKdown Rant–03.30.12

The SmarKdown Rant – 03.30.12 Taped from the same place as RAW. Your hosts are Josh Matthews & Matt Striker (because Michael Cole is at Axxxxess, you see) Zack Ryder v. Drew McIntyre Drew might hold the record for biggest disparity between quality of theme music and level of push, because he’s basically a jobber with an awesome entrance. Actually, Gangrel was right up there too with that ratio. Zack gets a rollup for two as even the idiot announcers are questioning if Ryder can really be such a moron that he believes Eve. They exchange leapfrogs to the delight of the canned crowd heat, and Zack pounds away in the corner before landing on Drew’s knee. Drew takes over with a suplex for two. Tilt-a-whirl slam gets two. Drew controls with an armbar and dodges a blind charge, but he goes up and lands on Zack’s boot. Zack’s all fired up for the comeback, and he gets a forearm in the corner to set up the Broski Boot for two. Drew catches him with a big boot out of nowhere for two. That’s the kind of stuff he should be doing. Zack escapes a gutwrench bomb and finishes with the Rough Rider at 5:59, however. A fine match between two guys going nowhere. **1/4 Lord Tensai is still coming, and he’s still got a badass name. Meanwhile, in Miami, Cole & Lawler talk about the Undertaker-HHH match. And then I skip through HALF AN HOUR of RAW recaps and video packages. Big Show comes out to talk about how he hates Cody Rhodes and he’s going to win the IC title and have his Wrestlemania moment. And then, another 20 minutes of video packages. Chris Jericho v. Kofi Kingston Jericho gets a cheapshot and grabs a headlock, but Kofi comes back with an elbow and corner splash that sends Jericho out of the ring. Kofi follows with a baseball slide and goes up for a springboard, but Jericho brings him down and we take a break. Back with Jericho putting Kofi on the floor with a baseball slide of his own, and sends Kofi into the railing. Back in, Kofi reverses a kneelift into a rollup for two, but Jericho puts him down with a clothesline for two. Jericho chokes him out on the ropes, but misses a charge and he’s selling a leg injury. Kofi comes back with his goofy DDT thing (the SOS I think it’s called), and the Boomdrop. Wacky kick misses and Jericho tries the Walls, but Kofi reverses out of it. Kofi with a high cross for two, but he runs into an elbow. Jericho’s Lionsault misses, but Jericho catches the kick attempt and counters into the Walls at 9:19. And it was the real one because Kofi is flexible enough to take it. Good stuff and good to see Jericho going over clean to set up the title match. *** And we finish with the Rock/Cena interview from RAW. That whole show literally took me 20 minutes to watch. Wish they were all that fast. See you on Sunday here for WRESTLEMANIA 28!

Kyle’s News: Chris Jericho talks about WWE and Wrestlemania 28

Chris Jericho was featured in an interviewed by BetweenTheRopes.com today. Here
are some of the highlights.

On how this WrestleMania feels
different than previous WrestleManias:
“I figured this out earlier;
this is my tenth WrestleMania and there’s only been two (matches) that I’ve been
involved with that I felt had the potential to be the show-stealer. One was with
Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV and this is the next one. So, you can never
say for sure what’s going to happen and there’s a lot of big matches on this
show. I just think — with the story line and the chemistry and the work style
that we have and the anticipation from the fans — that are match has the
potential to be a very special one.

“So, I’m excited about this
WrestleMania. Not that I’m not excited about every WrestleMania, but this has a
little bit of a special twist to it.”

On what fueled his
return:
“[The] time and going against C.M. Punk. I was fine. I was
doing a lot of touring with Fozzy and we were doing a lot of work. We were
getting ready to do a break and start working on a new record. So, I knew the
window of opportunity was there but for me, I have to have a mindset of
something that I think I can really make a difference with.

“When Punk
started going on the rise and calling himself the best in the world, I thought,
‘Well, there’s your natural story line right there.’ I actually flew to Stanford
last August to pitch this whole idea and story line to Vince.”

It doesn’t surprise me the best in the world idea was Jericho’s (and not the writer’s)idea, though it’s too bad Punk and him weren’t able to write their own angle because it would’ve been better than what the WWE writers did with this angle. The entire angle should’ve been about two wrestlers who proclaim themselves to be the best in the world fighting to see who the best in the world is for the richest prize in all of wrestling: the WWE championship. It also would’ve made more sense for Jericho to win the Royal Rumble or the Elimination Chamber match because it’s hard to believe someone proclaim their the best in the world even though they lost two important matches.
The family/personal stuff was unnecessary and I believe the WWE should learn how they can keep a feud hot without having both wrestlers on TV every week. I think the WWE ran out of things for them to do so decided to make this into a Raven-Punk rehash angle to try and keep the iron hot and, as a result, have overshadowed the best in the world theme of this match.  I’m not the only one who feels this way because it was reported that Jericho and Punk weren’t happy with where their angle went either.
If Jericho is staying around until at least the next PPV, they should’ve just had him do a job here and then made the feud more personal by talking about Punk’s family to set up a gimmick match (possibly no holds barred ) at Extreme Rules in Punk’s hometown. That way you kill two birds with one stone instead of one bird with two stones.

Smackdown – March 30, 2012 (Wrestlemania Axxess Show)

Smackdown
Date: March 30, 2012
Location: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Commentators: Josh Matthews, Matt Striker

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

This is going to be a different kind of show. There were only a few matches taped on Monday and if this show is like last year’s, the majority of this show will be partially taped from Miami and Axxess. It’ll mostly be a big commercial for Wrestlemania with some wrestling thrown in on the side. That’s the same thing the shows all week have done and it’s really all they can do this week. Let’s get to it.

Do You Know Your Enemy? Mine is the Louisville Cardinals. They’re evil and need to be destroyed.

As some of you probably know, usually I watch this show online on Friday afternoon so I can save time in the reviews. Well I did that today, and the show had no new matches and was a collection of old Mania matches. Apparently that’s totally different than what the US broadcast had so this is the second Smackdown I’ve done tonight.

Zack Ryder vs. Drew McIntyre

Drew starts off with a slam but Zack comes back with some speed and a dropkick. They go to the corner where Drew gets punched in the face. He manages to throw Zack up in the air and brings up a knee to take over. Off to an armbar now and Ryder is in trouble. A gutbuster puts Ryder down and Drew hooks a combination camel clutch/armbar. Ryder escapes but charges into a boot to put him right back down.

McIntyre does the go to the middle rope and jump off with the clear intention of jumping into the other guy’s raised boot spot. Ryder makes his comeback and hits the Broski Boot but walks into ANOTHER big boot for two. Zack escapes a powerbomb and Drew chases him into the corner but runs into a pair of knees. The Rough Ryder gets the pin at 5:38.

Rating: C. This was all you needed it to be. It covered both teams and hyped up the match a little bit. Not a great match or anything but it’s good to see Ryder getting clean wins, even over someone like McIntyre. I’m thinking Eve is going to play a role in the Mania match though, which isn’t a good thing.

We go to Miami where Lawler and Cole are on a set at Axxess. We see some of the stuff there, such as Undertaker’s Graveyard and the entrance you could walk down.

Video on Taker vs. HHH for the End of an Era.

Video on the Divas tag. I have no issue with looking at Maria Menunos. We’re never going to talk about Beth and Eve’s teased feud over Ryder again are we?

We see some of the art auction which goes to a children’s cancer center. Nothing wrong with that.

Recap of Punk vs. Jericho, I believe the same one from NXT.

Cole and King get in a flag waving contest.

We go back to Raw for the segment on Teddy vs. Johnny with the end of Otunga vs. Santino (they can’t show a full 90 second match?) which resulted in Miz joining Team Ace. We also get the Christian beatdown where he was put out of the match, and finally the Henry vs. Khali bit where Booker made the save for Teddy and joined the team.

Here’s Big Show in the ring to talk about his match on Sunday. He’s had some good success in this business. He won the world title in his first match and he’s won more since, but he doesn’t have a Wrestlemania moment. Wrestling in the main event for the world title isn’t a Wrestlemania moment? He says this is a bit different than most times he’s been at Mania. He can feel it in his mind, his gut and his heart. Cody is going to lose. Cody’s career isn’t going to get made. It’s going to get broken.

Video on Bryan vs. Sheamus.

Some legends weigh in on the Cell match.

Kofi Kingston vs. Chris Jericho

Jericho grabs the arm to start and works a hammerlock. Kofi speeds things up and hits a jumping back elbow followed by a clothesline to send Jericho to the outside. Back inside Kofi tries a springboard but Jericho takes out the ropes to knock him down and we go to a break. Back with Jericho in control but Kofi grabs a rollup for two.

A knee to the head gets two for Jericho. Jericho misses the crotch to the back of Kofi’s head while Kofi is in 619 position (that really needs a name) and Kofi hits the SOS for two. Boom Drop hits but Chris avoids Trouble in Paradise. The top rope cross body gets two. Lionsault eats knees but Kofi’s kick is countered into the Liontamer for the tap at 11:12.

Rating: B. Pretty solid TV match here but the ending was never in doubt. There was no way Jericho was going to lose two days before a world title match at Wrestlemania. I wish Kofi didn’t have to do the job, especially when he’s in a big match on Sunday but when you have 12 people in one match, that’s hard to avoid. Good match though.

We get the Rock vs. Cena segment from Raw to end the show.

Overall Rating: B. This was a very good final push for Wrestlemania. I get that a lot of people aren’t going to be fans of this and that’s ok. The wrestling we got was limited but fine, as there was no way they were going to run the risk of a bunch of injuries. I’m really surprised Jericho performed at all. Good final push for the show, as this was more about getting us fired up for Mania than a regular show.

Results
Zack Ryder b. Drew McIntyre – Rough Ryder
Chris Jericho b. Kofi Kingston – Walls of Jericho

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Kyle’s News: Cena Turning Heel at Wrestlemania 28?

Bret Hart had an interview with Rob McNichol for The Sun‘s podcast One Sided Ring. He gave his predictions on the top four matches of Wrestlemania and had some interesting thoughts on Cena vs Rock, including him saying he wouldn’t be surprised if Cena turned heel.

We’ve talked about Cena turning heel since 2007.  If Cena was going to turn heel, this would be the best place to do so. The Rock being screwed in his hometown would start a possible riot. It would be nearly as crazy as when Hulk Hogan turned heel.

 The WWE has been foreshadowing his heel turn a bit with his more edgy character and him sounding like Stone Cold Steve Austin’s when he was telling the Rock “I will do ANYTHING to win” Lastly, it would explain why they’re trying to make the match 50-50 and that is so Cena has fans to turn on. 

If Cena turned heel, the product would become  more interesting. The most complained about thing about the  WWE is its by-the-book shows, and since Cena has been the top-dog of the company, he takes a good brunt of the frustration because of it. In other words, Cena as heel would make the product seem to the fans less cookie-cutter and more fresh.

On the other hand, a John Cena heel turn chances are would hurt WWE’s merchandising sales. John Cena has been the cash cow of the WWE for about 7 years. They’ve had wrestlers that came close, but nobody has surpassed him.  Plus, with the new “Cena sucks shirts”, it’s almost like he’s heel already. 

And with all due respect to CM Punk, he’s not ready to be the cash cow of the WWE because he’s not yet over enough and neither is Randy Orton. Thus, there’s nobody right now who I could think of that could become the cash cow of the WWE, but that doesn’t mean Cena cannot elevate a babyface to cash cow status After all, a great heel can always make a babyface more popular.  

Whether it will work or not, mostly comes down to how well or poorly the turn’s executed and then booked, though he’s somewhat tweener  right now so I personally don’t see them turning him because they’re getting money from the people who like him and dislike him. .

Thoughts?

Wrestlemania Predictions and Plug!

Hey Scott,
Thanks again for participating.  I just posted the feature on my blog.  Hope you enjoy it.  Thanks again!
http://acaseoftheblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/true-or-false-4-with-scott-keith.html 

No worries.  Hopefully I can destroy your blog as well.

Since we’re on the topic of the big show, let’s do some predictions!

Rock v. Cena

It’s been a year of Rock getting the upper hand on Cena, and now he’s gonna lay down.  In his hometown.  This might seem like a bad idea to anyone who doesn’t want a riot in Miami, but they just don’t understand the genius of Vince McMahon.  I think that later when cooler heads have prevailed and Steve Lombardi is doing the talking head portion of the documentary DVD featuring this match, they’ll be like “Perhaps we shouldn’t have done that finish” like they speak about putting Jericho v. HHH on last at WM18.  I don’t think it’ll be clean, I think ADR (who has said “I’m not at Wrestlemania” way too publicly) will run in and do the Rhonda Rousey gimmick and try to break Rock’s arm while Cena and the ref are out, and Rock will gut it out and hit the People’s Elbow anyway, but the pain will then be SO SEVERE from ramming his injured elbow into Cena’s superhuman pecs that the ref will stop the match and award it to Cena, perhaps throwing up the X sign.  Then Cena will be all “Yo, Del Rio, your cars suck and you ruined my match with Rock, let’s fight for the next 5 PPVs in an escalating series of stipulation matches.”  MARK THAT SHIT DOWN.

HHH v. Undertaker


Really, the major question here is will there be blood?  And yeah, they’re gonna go all Daniel Plainview.  Shawn Michaels can carry a match even when refereeing, he’ll tease screwing Undertaker over so that we get the insane near-fall where everyone thinks the streak is over, and in the end Shawn will count HHH down and out to continue the streak.

CM Punk v. Chris Jericho


I feel like the storyline possibilities of Jericho winning the title and sending Punk to rock bottom, only to regain it in Chicago, are much better than Punk winning here and Jericho being all “I’m invoking my mandatory Wrestlemania rematch lazy writer’s clause, beeyotch!” so they can fight again.  Plus Jericho has never won the World title at Wrestlemania, so that would be good for him.

Daniel Bryan v. Sheamus


You’d think Sheamus would have to win, but boy are they seemingly in love with heel champion Daniel Bryan, so the temptation might be too great for them here.  If they do, they MUST pull the trigger on Divas champion AJ so they can celebrate together.  NO WAIT.  Scratch that, Sheamus wins here, AJ wins the Divas title the week after, and Bryan starts THAT belt around like it’s his accomplishment and never lets AJ actually acknowledge her own success.  THAT’S the winner winner chicken dinner, so I’m changing my prediction to Sheamus kills him clean by powering out of  the Lebell Lock into the White Noise for the win.

Team Teddy v. Team Johnny


Team Johnny wins somehow.

Big Show v. Cody Rhodes


I don’t see why Big Show would care about the IC title or why they’d want to put it on him, but Cody really has a beating coming to him and they booked it as a title match, so the only really logical payoff is Show winning the belt.  Unless they go with “Cody gets himself DQ’d to retain so that Show wins, and then Show beats the holy hell out of him and does something really embarrassing to Cody to give Cody his own Wrestlemania Moment” type of deal, I dunno.  OR!  The match never happens.  Show gets attacked backstage by, whatever, Christian or Del Rio or whoever he’s programmed with next.  Cody is like “ha ha, you BIG SHOW’D your shot at me, so I guess there’s no title match”, bam, FUNKASAURUS, and Cody gets destroyed and humiliated so that Show can replay THAT Wrestlemania moment and mock him.

Divas Match


I don’t care.  Unless Tamina is involved somewhere, and then you know I’ll be all over it.

Kane v. Randy Orton


Hopefully he punts the stupid mask right off.  RKO and Kane EMBRACES THE JOB.

I think that’s everything.  How good will this show be?  Should be pretty damn good.  Cena-Rock will obviously be awesome, HHH-Undertaker should be good-great, Jericho and Punk are both giant wrestling nerds wrestling for the World wrestling title at Wrestlemania so you know they’re gonna try to steal the show, and Bryan is in an insane zone of greatness right now so that should be good.  I will definitely get my $65 Canadian out of this one, I’m sure.

Buyrate prediction:  Just under one million.  If they did the wrist notes angle on last week’s RAW, then 1.3 million buys, but they did a lot of harm in the two weeks leading up to the PPV because they had nothing further to say with the characters.

Volleyball and Wrestling Are About the Same, Right?

As previously reported, Triple H hired Canyon Ceman to be the new Senior Director of Talent Relations. Ceman replaces Ty Bailey and will be heading up the developmental system. Ceman is an All American volleyball player as well as a volleyball executive. Some have questioned how he can be the right guy to scout and develop talent, but WWE officials are said to be high on him and are touting his sports management knowledge.

Source: Figure4Online

I was all for Triple H taking over for Vince McMahon, but due to this decision I am starting to second guess it. The problem people have with Johhny Ace because of his lack of knowledge, but at least Ace knows something about wrestling. I’m unsure about what a guy who played volleyball and is a volleyball excessive knows about wrestling. If he’s going to have a major role in scouting the talent, I’m not saying WWE is going to go out of business, but if this guy knows nothing, they’re making the same business decisions that were detrimental to WCW. What are they going to do next hire a pizza guy to run the creative department? 

The point is: people who know little to nothing about the wrestling business shouldn’t be in it when it comes to handling with the talent, and there’s a sizable track record that makes statement have truth and merit. Maybe I’m wrong and this will work out because this guy’s been secretly a passionate wrestling fan for all his life, but most likely they hired this guy to find sex-symbols and guys who have the best looking abs and muscles. This doesn’t look very promising for the revolution of the developmental system and creating new stars. If they don’t want to hire people in the business, why don’t they hire an ex-amateur wrestler? I mean look at how many wrestlers became success that were once amateurs and they’re somewhat similar.

Sympathy For Cole?

Hey Scott,     I appreciate you indulging the questions I and others pose to you.  I have a question for you, which I’m sure will cause some good debate amongst the Keithminers.  Is Michael Cole a sympathetic figure?  Hear me out: His debut was at SummerSlam ’97 when he tried to interview Stone Cold on his way to his infamous match with Owen Hart.  Austin called him a piece of trash, and threatened to make the new guy kiss his ass.  After middling around as an interview guy/merchandise stand for The Rock, he suddenly gets thrown in as lead announcer when Jim Ross is struck with Bells Palsy.  It was very clear he was not ready for the job, as you pointed out many times in your brutal but hilarious rants.  My favorites are “Michael Cole the Goatee Wearing Little Bitch”, your recap of the Rock/Mankind I quit match at the ’99 Rumble, calling him out for saying the most dangerous part of Hell in a Cell is getting your fingers caught in the cage, and my all-time favorite SK match, the Rock Bottom Buried Alive match, with your running gag based on Cole’s assertion that the tombstone above the grave  “weighs in excess of 3000 pounds.” When Ross mercifully came back, he went right back to being humiliated weekly backstage.  He finally catches a break when he is paired with Taz on Smackdown! doing a much better, if unremarkable, job as the lead commentator on the B show.  Then Vince decides, without telling them, that JR and Cole will be switching brands in the 2008 draft.  Clearly Vince wants Cole to be his new lead, since he has been groomed in the “WWE Style” commentary that Vince loves.  Naturally the fans rebel and Vince, since he knows better, just has Cole turn heel, because what better way to make someone hated by the fans popular than by making him a jerk.  His running down of Daniel Bryan wasn’t too bad, but then he is forced to repeatedly mock JR’s weight and Bells Palsy, comment on Jerry Lawler’s mom dying and bringing his son out to call his father neglectful, act like a chauvinist pig, stuff his paunchy announcer body into a skin tight unitard, “wrestle” a match that would have been ranked worst of the year if not for Jeff Hardy and basically put down every face in the company not named John Cena.  Add to that, he is now the embodiment of everything the fans hate about the WWE.  His relentless Twitter chatter, not to mention confusing trending with most talked about, ignoring the action in the ring, calling belts championships, using the term sports entertainment and calling wrestlers superstars.  There was an incident on Raw a few months back where he called CM Punk a superstar on commentary, and Punk insisted he was a wrestler. My point is, it seems like he was a guy who was treated like a joke for so long, got some credibility, was thrust into a spot the fans hated, and then became the most hated heel in the company for the wrong reasons. While I have heard he has a bit of an ego since he is friends with Cena, I can’t imagine this heel crap was all his idea.  Vince loves to make his employees due what he wants no matter how much the hate it.  Michelle McCool admitted in an interview she and Layla hated the Piggie James storyline, but Vince wouldn’t relent. Mark Henry was forced to be felt up by a cross dresser, get in a sexual relationship with an 80 year old woman AND admit to being in an incestuous relationship with his sister, all allegedly to get him to quit so Vince could reneg on that infamous contract.  While I’m sure Cole enjoys his salary, and the luxury of being considered an employee and getting benefits, he just seems like a guy who was doomed from the start and never saw the signs coming. Thoughts?

  You lost me at “Sympathy for Michael Cole.”  Although there did used to be a point where he would appear to have a mind of his own without Vince yelling in his ear all the time, but a couple of years ago he appeared to buy into the Michael Cole Character 100% and would act that way even when it was known that Vince was in another country at the time.  No, I’m afraid the Michael Cole who had potential to grow and change is long dead. 

Cole v. Lawler

Dear Scott,While reading your review of last year’s Wrestlemania, I was reminded of an idea I had that seemed like it was just RIPE for the picking to use in the Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole match. Why didn’t anyone just lift a carbon copy of Jerry Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman for that bout? It seems like it would have fit perfectly. Cole runs like a pansy for the first five minutes, Lawler finally says enough of that crap and allows him a freebie, suplex, piledriver, pinfall, everyone goes home happy. Total match time about 5-7 minutes.
Think such an idea would have gone over well with the fans? 

You misremember the original match, though.  It wasn’t suplex, piledriver, pinfall, everyone goes home happy.  It was suplex, piledriver, ref calls for the DQ, everyone goes home pissed off and they do rematches for months afterwards.  That was the irony of the whole thing, because Kaufman literally did nothing and Lawler cost himself the match.  Plus Kaufman never pretended to be a tough guy character, he fought women and played up his Hollywood softness.  Michael Cole (the character) imagines himself to be a fighter and would attempt to get some offense in.  The basic plot of the match was fine:  Lawler beats him up, Cole only gains the advantage with the help of Swagger, Lawler makes the comeback and wins but the decision is reversed by the corrupt GM due to a technicality.  The only major problem was that it was WAY too long and killed the match.  However, they should have gone with the Lawler v. Bret template from Summerslam 93, where the decision is reversed because Lawler beats Cole into a pulp after his win, and he’s so pissed off and fired up that the referee has to disqualify him.  That makes Cole look like an even bigger pussy by claiming victory that way when clearly he was beaten senseless, plus fans get the satisfaction of watching Cole getting beaten into a pulp.

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!

NXT – March 28, 2012

NXT
Date: March 28, 2012
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Commentators: Josh Matthews, William Regal

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

Who would have thought that when we started this season that it would run through Wrestlemania 28? That’s the point we’re going to reach unless there’s some divine intervention and this season ends after today. Now the good thing is they have an angle that has a mystery to it after last week with Striker disappearing. Let’s get to it.

Hunico vs. Derrick Bateman

Bateman controls to start but gets backdropped into the corner as Hunico takes over. Elbow drop gets two. Oh make that one. Regal explains why Camacho hangs out with Hunico, which is apparently due to a gang attack that Hunico bailed him out of, resulting in a stab wound which is why Hunico wears a shirt in the ring. See how easy a story that was to explain?

Bateman gets beaten down for awhile until he comes back with a cross body. Hunico hits one at the same time though and both guys are down as we take a break. Back with Hunico chopping and pounding on Bateman. His shirt is torn now too. Hunico goes up but jumps into a dropkick as Bateman gets a breather. He launches Hunico over his head and into the buckle chest first.

Hunico pounds down on him again as Regal is talking about WCW. He seems to think it was funny and I can’t say I argue. Bateman tries to suplex Hunico in from the apron but Hunico falls on top. Bateman rolls through for two but stops to go after Camacho. The distraction allows Hunico to hit his modified Angle Slam (it’s the Angle Slam but he hooks the other guy’s head, almost like a torture rack) for the pin at 7:00.

Rating: C-. I wasn’t really all that into this. I’ve been liking Hunico more lately but this was a miss for him. Granted that could be because Bateman is a waste of time and space but maybe that’s just me. Nothing that great here as they went back and forth, but there wasn’t much selling in between.

Video on Rock vs. Cena from Once In A Lifetime, which wasn’t bad.

Video on HHH vs. Taker, which I think is the same one from Raw.

Video on Punk vs. Jericho, which I don’t think has aired before. It’s about Punk’s rise to the top of WWE over the years and then shows Jericho exposing Punk’s family history.

Maxine is on a phone and wants a list next week. Curtis comes up and apparently the list is about Regal, who is into some freaky stuff. This is news? Maxine gets off the phone and Curtis says that the company has been trying to keep Striker’s whereabouts on the DL. It happened on NXT. How much more DL can you get?

Maxine yells at him because Curtis hasn’t found out anything about Striker. Watson and Riley pop up and Watson yells at her for taking the spotlight during his match by rubbing Regal’s feet. Maxine asks how mad Watson is at her in a strange bit. They go down the hall and run into Natalya and Kidd. They’re talking about the economy. Ok then. The walk continues and they run into Gabriel. I think they’re looking for who stole Striker.

Now they run into Titus and leave, but the camera stays on Titus. Young comes in with a flower pot which Young says is for Tamina. O’Neil says take her to McDonalds. Young says he lies, cheats and steals in the ring but he can’t do that with Tamina. I’m not the biggest Eddie fan ever, but NO WAY does Young deserve to be able to say that.

Curtis and Maxine pop up again and accuse Titus of the kidnapping (they haven’t actually said those words yet, but rather “it was you” every time). Titus tries to kiss her for some reason but Curtis pulls her away. Young and O’Neil leave and Maxine gets a text. The kidnappers say that after Mania, she’ll give them what they want and they’ll get Striker back. LONG backstage segment here but it covered a few things which is good.

Video on the Divas tag, I think from Extra. I have no issue looking at Maria Menunos.

Titus O’Neil vs. Jey Uso

Young and Jimmy Uso are on commentary. So I’m assuming we’re not going to talk about the Striker stuff on commentary are we? Josh points out that the Usos aren’t that successful when they’re in singles action. Jimmy says that’s true, because they’re a team. Simple yet true. This is your usual power vs. speed match with Titus controlling early but Jey taking him down. He goes up but Titus rolls to the floor before the jump and we go to a break.

Back with Titus hammering on him, using the clubbing forearms. Jey gets in a shot and comes off the top with a cross body for two. Titus runs him over with another clothesline for two. Off to a chinlock to eat up some time as Jey comes up with exactly the same kind of offense you would expect from him. The Umaga attack hits in the corner as does the Samoan Drop. The Superfly Splash hits knees though and the Clash of the Titus ends this at 6:22.

Rating: C-. I wish I could care about this feud, but it’s just not happening. The problem in modern WWE for guys like the Usos is that the tag titles are never defended and the champions are basically jobbers when you need to get bigger names over as singles guys. Titus is a heel now but he’s the same guy he’s always been, just with a sneer now. Nothing match but technically it was fine.

Tamina comes out to check on Jey and glares at Young for some reason.

Overall Rating: D. The problem here is that this show was a commercial for Mania with a backstage segment and about 15 minutes of wrestling to fill in some gaps. That’s totally understandable as well as no one is going to care about anything with four days before the biggest show of the year. Not a good show or anything, but this had zero expectations coming in so it’s fine.

Results
Hunico b. Derrick Bateman – Spinning Torture Rack Slam
Titus O’Neil b. Jey Uso – Clash of the Titus

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Nightmare Matches

Okay I’d love to hear your answer to this My friend was asking me:  Worst possible dream match of all time? My answer:  Giant Gonzales circa 1993 VS Scott Steiner 2003 Can you top that?  I have a feeling you’ll blow me away

Steiner in 2003 was at least still capable of working a match.  How about Heidenreich v. Snitsky, a dream match we damn near almost got? 

Once In A Lifetime, Except For The Rematch

Hi Scott,
In my most recent pop culture article for Collective Publishing, I look at the “once in a lifetime” main event of John Cena vs. The Rock. The hype for this match has been attracting fans that left years ago and has created some buzz for WWE.  I am sure the event will rake in tons of money.  My article looks at what the prospects are for this match kickstarting yet another “wrestling boom period.”  The article is written for people who don’t watch wrestling, and so it does a lot of explaining that your readers may find excessive.  I still think it is an article they’ll enjoy and find worth checking out.

I honestly don’t think it’s created that much buzz or brought back lapsed fans or anything.  Speaking as a lapsed fan with friends who are lapsed fans, the Summer of Punk did way more to generate interest in that group, to the point where I actually talked people into buying Money in the Bank.  This year I’m into Wrestlemania, but none of this would have made me start watching RAW again if I wasn’t already. 

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.

WWE: The TV Show

Hi Scott Long time reader. I recently saw on AV Club that another drama series about wrestling is apparently being developed, this one by Jerry Bruckheimer set in the 80’s. That may or may not happen, however, and you may well have touched on this at some point but bear with me (or not…up to you!), I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in more detail as to precisely what a hypothetical series on wrestling would ideally look like.

What era would you set it in? What specific personalities would you base the characters on? What would be the overall arc of the story? What would the opening credits look like and to what piece of music? Any actors you think would suit it? Just basically fantasy booking I know. Nevertheless, if you’re ever so inclined I’d be interested to hear.

You could do a hell of a show with characters based on Randy Savage & Elizabeth (the paranoid psycho and his hot wife), Hulk Hogan (the prima donna megastar who wants to do movies), Junkyard Dog (the fading southern black star with a huge coke problems), the Von Erichs (pampered kids accustomed to the world falling at their feet)…it doesn’t even have to be specifically about the WWF.  There’s so many ridiculous characters, ribs and stories from that period that you can mix and match whatever you want.  Foley’s book alone gives you stuff like Eric Embry booking naked and all of his crazy road stories.  I’d say I’d make the arc from the “wrestling emerging from smoky bingo halls” tropes that Vince puts forward (except you really can write a story about them being in those halls to start) and moving through Vince expanding nationally and then you can watch the 80s stars fade away or self-destruct until a fictional WCW comes along and knocks them off in the 90s.  I think the rise and fall of the coke-fuelled 80s, like Boogie Nights with wrestling stars, would be a hell of a show.  You’d need  a main character for the audience to identity with, which is where it gets tricky, though.  You’d need someone like a Howard Finkel, who is around everything and knows everything and everyone but doesn’t get caught up in it.  I’m not sure about the casting, but Treat Williams should be Vince McMahon, of that I am certain. 

WWE: The TV Show

Hi Scott Long time reader. I recently saw on AV Club that another drama series about wrestling is apparently being developed, this one by Jerry Bruckheimer set in the 80’s. That may or may not happen, however, and you may well have touched on this at some point but bear with me (or not…up to you!), I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in more detail as to precisely what a hypothetical series on wrestling would ideally look like.

What era would you set it in? What specific personalities would you base the characters on? What would be the overall arc of the story? What would the opening credits look like and to what piece of music? Any actors you think would suit it? Just basically fantasy booking I know. Nevertheless, if you’re ever so inclined I’d be interested to hear.

You could do a hell of a show with characters based on Randy Savage & Elizabeth (the paranoid psycho and his hot wife), Hulk Hogan (the prima donna megastar who wants to do movies), Junkyard Dog (the fading southern black star with a huge coke problems), the Von Erichs (pampered kids accustomed to the world falling at their feet)…it doesn’t even have to be specifically about the WWF.  There’s so many ridiculous characters, ribs and stories from that period that you can mix and match whatever you want.  Foley’s book alone gives you stuff like Eric Embry booking naked and all of his crazy road stories.  I’d say I’d make the arc from the “wrestling emerging from smoky bingo halls” tropes that Vince puts forward (except you really can write a story about them being in those halls to start) and moving through Vince expanding nationally and then you can watch the 80s stars fade away or self-destruct until a fictional WCW comes along and knocks them off in the 90s.  I think the rise and fall of the coke-fuelled 80s, like Boogie Nights with wrestling stars, would be a hell of a show.  You’d need  a main character for the audience to identity with, which is where it gets tricky, though.  You’d need someone like a Howard Finkel, who is around everything and knows everything and everyone but doesn’t get caught up in it.  I’m not sure about the casting, but Treat Williams should be Vince McMahon, of that I am certain. 

WWE: The TV Show

Hi Scott Long time reader. I recently saw on AV Club that another drama series about wrestling is apparently being developed, this one by Jerry Bruckheimer set in the 80’s. That may or may not happen, however, and you may well have touched on this at some point but bear with me (or not…up to you!), I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in more detail as to precisely what a hypothetical series on wrestling would ideally look like.

What era would you set it in? What specific personalities would you base the characters on? What would be the overall arc of the story? What would the opening credits look like and to what piece of music? Any actors you think would suit it? Just basically fantasy booking I know. Nevertheless, if you’re ever so inclined I’d be interested to hear.

You could do a hell of a show with characters based on Randy Savage & Elizabeth (the paranoid psycho and his hot wife), Hulk Hogan (the prima donna megastar who wants to do movies), Junkyard Dog (the fading southern black star with a huge coke problems), the Von Erichs (pampered kids accustomed to the world falling at their feet)…it doesn’t even have to be specifically about the WWF.  There’s so many ridiculous characters, ribs and stories from that period that you can mix and match whatever you want.  Foley’s book alone gives you stuff like Eric Embry booking naked and all of his crazy road stories.  I’d say I’d make the arc from the “wrestling emerging from smoky bingo halls” tropes that Vince puts forward (except you really can write a story about them being in those halls to start) and moving through Vince expanding nationally and then you can watch the 80s stars fade away or self-destruct until a fictional WCW comes along and knocks them off in the 90s.  I think the rise and fall of the coke-fuelled 80s, like Boogie Nights with wrestling stars, would be a hell of a show.  You’d need  a main character for the audience to identity with, which is where it gets tricky, though.  You’d need someone like a Howard Finkel, who is around everything and knows everything and everyone but doesn’t get caught up in it.  I’m not sure about the casting, but Treat Williams should be Vince McMahon, of that I am certain. 

Joe v. Kobashi, another try.

The SmarK DVD Rant for Ring of Honor: Joe v. Kobashi.

Gotta admire them for honesty in the titles.

Anyway, I previously had done a review of the main event on the blog, but I figured that I’d sit down and do the whole show because I wanted to watch the match again, just for kicks. Or in this case, chops.

– Taped from Manhattan, NY

– Your hosts are Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.


Colt Cabana v. Claudio Castagnoli.

Colt is still his fun-loving self at this point, so it looks like Homicide has not yet ruined his life. Claudio starts with a wristlock, but Colt takes him down with an armdrag and controls the arm. They dodge each other for a stalemate, but Cabana monkey-flips him and keeps on the armdrags. Claudio catches him with a European uppercut to take over, and throws a seated forearm for two. A quick try at a surfboard submission gets two, and a delayed vertical suplex is unexpectedly reversed to a small package for two when he holds it too long. Oh, nice spot. Claudio keeps coming with the inverted suplex for two, but Cabana dumps him and takes too long with a quebrada attempt, so Claudio heads back in. Cabana charges into the corner with a high knee and a butt-butt in the other corner to set up a lariat for two. Claudio comes back with a spinning neckbreaker for two, but Colt elbows out of another move and sets up to finish. He gets distracted by Homicide’s lackeys, however, and Claudio finishes with the, uh, Ricolabomb.

(Claudio Castagnoli d. Colt Cabana, powerbomb — pin, 7:48, **1/2) A good opener, nothing spectacular. Claudio’s Euro-trash gimmick is fairly interesting, however.

Matt Sydal v. Christopher Daniels v. Azrieal

Gotta say, as long as the allusion is biblical and not Smurf, Azrieal is right up there with the coolest wrestling names I’ve heard. This is elimination rules, according to the DVD packaging. Daniels gets a big-time star reaction here. Armdrags galore to start and Sydal briefly teams with Azrieal before they turn on each other. Sydal chops on Az in the corner, but gets powerbombed by Azrieal for two. Daniels gets a leg lariat on Az for two, and the crowd is clearly behind Daniels here. Az snaps off a rana on Daniels and goes back to chopping Sydal, and it leads to a nice spot where Daniels monkey-flips Sydal into an Az powerbomb attempt, but then clotheslines both guys to take over. Backbreaker on Sydal and he adds a chop in the corner, but Sydal goes up. Daniels tries to bring him down with a superplex, but Sydal fights him off and launches off Az with a tornado DDT on Daniels for two. A crowd member comments “You fucking suck, Azrieal!” Ouch. Az gets a cobra clutch slam on Daniels to set up a Sydal legdrop for two, and they double-team him. However, that goes badly and Daniels easily comes back with a simultaneous bulldog and clothesline on them. That’s awesome. He kills them with clotheslines and powerbombs Sydal for two. Azrieal takes advantage of the distraction and clotheslines Daniels off the top for two, setting up a guillotine legdrop with Daniels between the ropes. Sydal turns on Az again and gets a leg lariat for two. Daniels bails, so Sydal follows him out with a rana from the apron to the floor, and Az adds a pretty lame pescado onto them. Back in, the kids slug it out and Az gets a leg lariat for two. They head up and Sydal brings him down with a top rope belly to belly to eliminate him at 9:26.

That leaves us with Daniels v. Sydal, and he gets a couple of quick rollups for two, but Daniels PLASTERS him with a lariat. That’s a case where the Jannetty Sell works. Backdrop suplex gets two for Daniels. Death Valley Driver gets two. I like the addition of ramming his back into the turnbuckle, but he should go all Oklahoma Stampede with it and do it into all four. Sydal fights back with chops and an enzuigiri, and a standing moonsault gets two. Sydal goes up with a high cross for two. Rollup gets two. Daniels finishes with the Angel’s Wings to put him away, however.

(Daniels d. Sydal & Azrieal, Angels Wings — pin Sydal, 13:02, **3/4) Azrieal looked totally out of place with those two, and it would have been a better match one-on-one. Finish was kind of out-of-nowhere, too.

– ROH Tag titles: BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs v. Sal Rinauro & Tony Mamaluke

Mamaluke and Whitmer take it to the mat to start, as Whitmer powers out of an armbar and brings in Jacobs. Rinauro comes in as well and gets overpowered and armdragged. He catches an armbar, however, and brings Mamaluke back in for a rollup that gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two. He dropkicks the knee and goes after the leg, but then goes to a camel clutch. Sal comes in and Mamaluke dumps him on Jacobs for two. Whitmer comes in and tries a DDT on Mamaluke, but Tony blocks with a choke, so BJ suplexes him into the corner instead. How is Mamaluke not paralyzed yet? Jacobs comes in with a chop off the top and they use the CLUBBING FOREARMS in a comedy spot. Jacobs drops some elbows for two. We learn that tagging someone’s boot is legal, as the champs double-team Mamaluke into jelly and Whitmer powerbombs Jacobs onto him for two. Mamaluke fights him off with a double-knee and makes the tag to Rinauro, who comes in with a flying rana on Jacobs. Back to Whitmer, who hits Sal with a rolling suplex and misses a big boot, but catches a lariat instead. Mamaluke has apparently made a blind tag and comes in kicking, then takes BJ down with an armbar. This turns into a triangle choke, but BJ powers him into the turnbuckle to break. Back to Jacobs, who goes up into Doomsday Device position, and hits Mamaluke with a rana off Whitmer’s shoulders for two. That’s quite the finisher. Whitmer keeps going after Mamaluke, however, and goes up, but Sal dropkicks him to the floor. Jacobs also tries to bring Mamaluke down, but gets powerbombed as a result. Sal gets an enzuigiri and they hit a double-team DDT for the titles? Did not see that coming.

(Sal Rinauro & Tony Mamaluke d. BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs, Rubik’s Cube Driver — pin Jacobs, 13:48, **1/2) This was kind of a meandering match, hovering between comedy and serious, and it didn’t really feel like it had the tag formula that most good tag matches do.

ROH Pure Wrestling title: Nigel McGuinness v. Jay Lethal

Nigel’s arrogant pre-match promo is great stuff. Lethal takes him down with a headscissors to start, but Nigel powers out of it. Another headscissors by Lethal, but Nigel escapes again, and walks away from a chop attempt. Can’t blame him. Nigel takes him down with an armbar and slugs away, blocking chops at the same time, and takes him down again with a neck vice. They trade stuff out of a knucklelock and Lethal bicycle kicks him and follows with chops, before Nigel takes him down with a leglock. Lethal resists the temptation to use up a rope break and fights out, then pounds him with forearms in the corner. He whips Nigel into the corner, where he does a headstand and mulekicks Lethal after luring him into a blind charge. Lethal bails and recovers before heading back in. Nigel goes to work on the arm with a single-arm DDT and hangs him in the Tree of Woe, and then kicks him in the back when he pulls himself up. NASTY. Lethal escapes another attempt and this time avoids the headstand kick by chopping him down. Spinebuster and he blocks a blind charge, following with a leg lariat on Nigel for two. Nigel avoids a dragon suplex, but Lethal gets a backdrop suplex anyway and goes up with a diving headbutt for two. A superkick sets up a leglock submission by Lethal, forcing Nigel to use a rope break. However, Nigel uses his trusty iron behind the ref’s back for the pin.

(Nigel McGuinness d. Jay Lethal, iron — pin, 10:59, ***) Match was nothing special, but Nigel is going to be a superstar once the WWE steals him.

– Jimmy Rave v. Roderick Strong

Prince Nana’s valet-on-a-leash routine cracks me up. Rave dodges Strong to start and grabs a headlock, and they trade chops in the corner. Strong wins that one, sending Rave to the floor. Back in, Rave goes to the headlock again and stays on that, but Strong suplexes out of it and whips him into the corner. A couple of more of those and Rave bails, so Strong baseball slides him into the railing and adds another chop. Nana distracts him, however, and Rave sends him into the railing to take over. Back in, a suplex gets two. Rave adds a Brutus Beefcake stomp and a neckbreaker for two, and he goes into a neck vice. Strong comes back with a crossbody for two, but Rave hits a lariat to the back of the neck to slow him up, and gets two. Choking sets up another neckbreaker for two. Roderick fights back with forearms, but Rave takes him down with a legsweep into a submission, which gets two. Strong fights out with chops and a backdrop, and a dropkick gets two. Backbreaker sets up a Boston Crab, but Rave makes the ropes. Sunset flip is blocked by Rave, but Strong reverses for two. A uranage variation of the backbreaker puts Rave down, and a big boot gets two for Strong. Running forearm into a backbreaker gets two. Another one is reversed by Rave and he spears Strong, into a Snow Plow for two. Nana throws a chair in, but Strong gets the gutbuster into the Stronghold (ha!) to finish.

(Roderick Strong d. Jimmy Rave, Boston Crab — submission, 13:43, ***) I really like the psychology of Strong shown here, which we never see in TNA. Instead of just being the guy who does backbreakers, here he does them to soften the back and get an easy submission from a back-related submission move.

Ricky Reyes v. Pelle Primeau

This would be the standard post-intermission ROH nothing match. Seems like it’ll be a squash. Reyes kicks him down to start and gets a backdrop suplex, into a demon bomb and choke to finish.

(Ricky Reyes d. Pelle Primeau, chokehold — submission, 0:50, DUD)

James Gibson v. Jimmy Yang.

This being the debut for Yang and the swan song for Gibson would seem to telegraph the finish, but you never know with Gabe. Some of the fans prematurely shoot their streamers for this match, which is pretty Freudian, I suppose. They fight over a lockup to start and Gibson takes him down, and they reverse until it’s a stalemate. They fight over a wristlock and Yang takes him down with a headlock, and they work off that. Yang holds on to frustrate him, but Gibson reverses to a rollup for two. Gibson starts working on the arm, but Yang spinkicks him in the corner to break. Nice armdrag sequence from Gibson, however, sets up a neckbreaker for two. Legdrop gets two, and he keeps Yang on the ground with a headscissors. Yang fights out and gets a SWEET kick combination for two, and now it’s his turn to go after the arm.

Gibson fights out and dumps Yang, then follows with a suicide dive, sending both guys into the front row. Given that the railing is about a foot away from the ring, that’s not hard, but still. Back in, Gibson comes off the top, and Yang catches him with a spinkick. Superkick gets two. They trade pinfall attempts and do the Flair sequence before clotheslining each other for a double KO. Gibson recovers first with a high knee and backdrop, into a spinebuster for two. Yang comes back with a moonsault press for two and another spinkick, and he goes up again. Yang Time misses and Gibson DDTs him into an awkward attempt at the tiger bomb which he turns into a choke, but Yang rams him into the corner to escape. Another crack at Yang Time hits, but only gets two. Back up again, but Gibson brings him down and powerbombs him into the corner, and another powerbomb gets two. I would have sworn that was the finish, but the choke ends up doing it.

(James Gibson d. Jimmy Yang, guillotine choke — submission, 15:49, ***1/2) Good exit for Gibson before going on to the much more gratifying role of being one-half of The Pitbulls on the most boring wrestling show on TV.

Homicide v. Jack Evans

They trade wristlocks to start and Evans showboats on the escape, which Homicide mocks him for. Homicide takes him down with a monkey-flip, and Evans returns the favor, but neither can take advantage. Homicide dances and the crowd chants “You Got Served” in a funny moment. Evans sends him out with a headscissors and follows with a somersault tope. Back in, running knee gets two, but Homicide hits him with a backbreaker and t-bone suplex for two. Evans catches a rana for two, but Homicide clotheslines him down again and gets a half-crab. Nice bit of dickery as he yanks on Evans’ hair and makes his head touch his foot until the ref breaks it up. Into the Tree of Woe for a sliding dropkick from Homicide, which he follows with a guillotine legdrop. Blind charge hits boot and Evans tries to come back, but he walks into a swinging DDT from Homicide that gets two. Blind charge misses, however, and Evans goes up, but Homicide crotches him right away. Evans recovers with a 450 butt splash for two. That could have ended badly for someone. Homicide bails and gets dropkicked into the front row as a result, and Evans follows with a springboard senton. Back in, Evans gets caught up with the rest of Homicide’s posse, before getting a springboard dropkick on Homicide for two. They head up and Homicide gets an Implant DDT for two. Evans is pretty much dead, but he fights off the Cop Killer, so Homicide takes him down with the Ace Crusher. Homicide lets him up and finishes with the lariat, but doesn’t cover, because Colt Cabana is on the balcony cutting a funny promo against him. This gives Evans the chance to hit an inverted rana and roll him up.

(Jack Evans d. Homicide, rollup — pin, 13:39, **1/2) This was going fine until it just died when Cabana turned it into an angle.

– At this point, the announcers sign off and let us have the live atmosphere.

Samoa Joe v. Kenta Kobashi.

And now, the main event, which is truly one in every sense of the word. Although Joe gets a big reaction, the entrance of Kobashi is like Hulk Hogan coming into the building or something.

Joe throws a kick to start while they lock up, thus annoying fans right off the bat. Once they get to the ropes, he adds a slap, and thus makes it clear who the babyface will be. Another lockup and Kobashi chops him so hard that you can almost feel it through the screen, and they fight over a knucklelock. Joe suplexes out of it and tackles him down, then baseball slides him into the railing and follows with a suicide dive. Back in, that gets two. Elbowdrop gets two. Joe goes to a chinlock, which he turns into a neck vice, so Kobashi makes the ropes to break. He tries throwing some chops in the corner, but that just pisses Kobashi off and he returns fire. Joe goes with kicks instead, a smart move, and knocks him down with an enzuigiri. He adds the short kicks to really rub it in, but that pisses Kobashi off even MORE, so Joe has to knee him in the face to put him down this time. Oh, this is sick and awesome and tremendous. Joe kicks him down and drops a knee, and Kobashi bails.

On the floor, Joe throws him into the railing and follows with the Ole Kick , but he gets sloppy and Kobashi chops him on the second attempt, and then chops him into the front row. That’ll learn him! He adds a DDT on the floor and they head back in for a facelock from Kobashi, but he decides just to chop Joe instead. How does he do that shit without taking off skin? Running knees and the big chop to the chest follow, for two. Back to the facelock, which he tries to turn into a suplex, but Joe reverses to his own. Kobashi keeps throwing chops, so Joe keeps kicking, and when that doesn’t work, they get into the nastiest chopfest ever. The sweat flying off is one of those images you don’t forget. Joe loses that one and Kobashi gets two. Abdominal stretch for Kobashi, but Joe makes the ropes. Kobashi gives him another chop for two. He goes to a neck vice and chops him on the bridge of the nose for good measure.

Joe blocks the spinning chop and takes him down with a uranage, and a senton follows as he makes the comeback after all the abuse. He throws chops in the corner and goes for a powerbomb, but Kobashi fights him, so he powerbombs him into the turnbuckle instead. Facewash time! Muscle Buster gets two as the crowd freaks out a little bit. Joe throws some UFC-style knees to the head and tries the choke, but Kobashi escapes, so he powerbombs him instead for two and turns it into the STF. This leads to one of the most awesome sequences of the match, as Kobashi looks likely to tap and the crowd chants “Please don’t tap.” Then every time he makes it to the ropes, Joe cuts off another body part and makes it look like he’ll tap. Finally he stretches his foot over and forces the break. Joe thinks it over and goes with a charge, but Kobashi chops him into a half-nelson suplex for a double-KO. And now, the most awesome sequence of the match, as Joe struggles to the corner and Kobashi absolutely destroys him with chops, throwing upwards of 70 of them and turning Joe’s chest into hamburger. He keeps throwing chops to knock Joe down and out, then adds another suplex for two, as Joe grabs the ropes on instinct to break.

Joe makes one more comeback attempt, but runs into a sleeper, which Kobashi turns into a suplex that should have finished in any other universe. Joe is done and Kobashi is all fired up, but Joe fights back with chops until Kobashi schools him with his own and ends the suffering with a lariat.

(Kenta Kobashi v. Samoa Joe, lariat — pin, 22:15, *****) Even with the insane amounts of hype that it had going on and the reputation it has gained since then, I was still not disappointed. It was a great battle of manly stoicism between two guys who just let it all hang out for the fans and beat each other into hamburger as a result. The crazy stuff like Kobashi’s million chops in the corner, where you think that he’s going to stop and then he picks up the pace again, were amazing. And the crowd reaction was one of the most rabid I’ve ever heard, especially when they started freaking out with Kobashi in the STF/crossface sequence, trying to figure out how he can make the ropes. And the finish was tremendous too, with Joe throwing everything he had at Kobashi and not being able to beat him, and then Kobashi just patiently beating Joe into unconsciousness and getting the pin. Tremendous stuff, and a ***** match for sure. It was like what a great heavyweight title fight would translate to in wrestling terms, basically.

The Pulse:

While the rest of the show was largely forgettable, the DVD is worth the purchase for the main event alone, which is probably why they called it “Joe v. Kobashi.”

Highest recommendation for the main event.

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