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365 and Counting
November 20, 2012

by PyroFalkon
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


As Rick said last night, it’s usually my gimmick to talk about snacks and my ever-clogging arteries, so I just have to extend what he said about the Cracked Pepper Triscuits. Because they are awesome.

Rick did the right thing by applying cheese squares to them, but I graduated from Advanced Triscuit Cooking School (i.e., dicking around at 4 in the morning) and can extend the tastiness. The reason Triscuits are the Snack Cracker of Choice isn’t just because of their flavor, but their ability to survive without turning into mush in the microwave.

The tastiest way to eat Triscuits is to arrange them on a single layer on the plate, then place one (1) little jalapeño pepper slice on each cracker, and top it off with the shredded cheese of your choice. (Cheddar is classic, mozzarella or parmesan work, and American cheese or Velveeta is for losers and virgins.) Toss it in the microwave, nuke for 45 seconds. The cheese melts and mixes with the jalapeño juice, which then gets into the “divots” of the crackers, thus putting the flavor throughout every cracker, and every bite!

Obviously the details are up to your individual tastes. You could sub in a habanero pepper if your tongue is up for it, or use a variety of cheeses. You also have to balance the flavors with the Triscuit flavor if you’re not using the plain stuff… using the cracked pepper Triscuits might be too much if you’re also using spicy peppers. But regardless, it’s simple math: Triscuits + Peppers + Cheese +Microwave = the greatest snack in the universe for minimal cooking times and cost. And it’s still pretty damn healthy compared to, say, deep-fried butter sticks. [Ed. Note: I'm clearly am amateur Triscuitologist. I just sort of noticed I had some Kroger-brand pepperjack cheese slices sitting in the back of the drawer of my fridge that I couldn't remember why I bought it, and made a note to pick up something in the cracker family the next time I was at the store, and then I'd have a use-'em-up snack for the two days last week when I took the afternoons off to watch the UD Flyers play in the Charleston Classic. [Ed. Note to the Ed. Note: We went 2-1, which ain't bad.] My cracker of choice were the Triscuits. I just sort of sat on my couch, folding each cheese slicee into four pieces, and assembling each room-temperature niblit on an as-needed basis. The combination was divine; I might even have "discovered" Cracked Black Pepper Triscuits previously, and then forgotten about them -- but that won't be happening again now. Anyway, point is, compared to Pyro's fancy preparations, I'm basically stuck in the stone age, banging two rocks together.]

Of course, I’m thinking of something else to eat at the moment. Due to the timing of everything going on, I’m actually writing this precap at 1:52pm, that way the instant I’m home tonight, I can get to work on the recap proper. And I’m going to be dining at the Steak & Shake conveniently located about 2 minutes from the Nutter Center before the show, so my stomach will be incredibly happy. [Self-ed. Note: It was so good before the show that I also got a post-show burger. In other news, I think I weigh about 40 pounds more than I did this morning.]

As always, no complaints of spoilers. That first link in the first paragraph takes you to Rick’s recap of Survivor Series, so check that out if you haven’t already. Also, since I’m going to the show, I’ll mention in the recap if there were any differences between what we saw on TV and what happened in the arena. Because I wouldn’t be the clinically insane fan I am if I didn’t essentially watch the show twice back-to-back!

Let’s roll…

Superstars: Since when do they tape Superstars before RAW? It was before SmackDown both times I went before… is it because they tape Saturday Night Slam or Main Event or whatever before SmackDown now?

I wound up having to pee and grab a water before the show, so unfortunately I was up on the concourse during Superstars and missed the entrance of 3MB. Also unfortunately is that one of my awesome sign ideas, one that features Jinder Mahal, was upside down and I wasn’t the one holding it. Damnit… My sign was so awesome it totally would have made it on TV if everything had gone right. Just picture this, except surrounded by a thousand rednecks…

3MB (minus Drew McIntyre again, who just hung out at ringside) faced Santino Marella and Zack Ryder. And even though I got to my seat halfway through the match and watched the rest, I totally forgot who won. Guess you’ll have to wait until Wednesday, if you care… or read spoilers. Or something. It wasn’t much of anything, but hey, this wouldn’t a special Pyro Was In The House Recap if it wasn’t a complete one!

RAW Opening: No pyros. It’s probably the smart idea... as we’ve discussed before on OO, the Nutter Center has some shitty ventilation, so whenever pyros go off, you can hear (even on TV) the loud obnoxious noise of the fans reverse-vomiting the smoke out of the arena.

Pre-Segment 1: Instead, we’ve got Ryback hitting the arena to the delight of 99% of the idiots in the audience. Also, one mystery solved, now that I’ve attended it live: when Ryback’s big explosions go off, there are no pyros. Just a random boom. Weird.

Ryback hits the ring and makes several food- or hunger-related comments, all coming to the point where he wants Punk to hit the ring so he can kick his ass. Well, at least he kept it short.

Instead of getting Punk though, he gets Vickie Guerrero. She pops out onto the stage, says that she’s not going to give him Punk, and will not let him cause any chaos tonight. If he does, he’s going to so totally be suspended and fined. But if he really wants to feed on a big dude, she’ll satiate him.

And here comes Tensai. Hooray.

Segment 1 [Singles Match]: Ryback defeats Tensai by pin. Oddly competitive match, but it was all a punchy-kicky brawl. No noteworthy spots in the match, other than the ending: unlike last time, Ryback successfully hit the Shellshock on the first try, and even marched around a bit. That’s some crazy strength. [Ed. Note: Slobber. Knocker.]

Cut Scene: Sheamus is bitching out a referee for the controversial ending to his match last night. Except you can’t hear what they were talking about because the commentators were talking over it. Don’t worry: it was just Sheamus ranting.

Pre-Segment 2: We get a WWE.com exclusive video (again, how is it “exclusive” if it’s shown on TV?) that shows Wade Barrett after the team match last night. Wade has two points: first, that even though he was eliminated, his team won, so he’s a winner. And second, that makes Kofi Kingston a loser, and he’s a disgrace to the Intercontinental Title. So Wade is going to try to take it, or something, since he’s beaten Kofi n a number of occasions before.

Segment 2 [Singles Match]: Wade Barrett defeats Kofi Kingston by pin. This was a non-title match, but clearly Wade is now first in line to the belt. No noteworthy spots, but it was a solid formulaic match. Wade was in control for the majority of it, doing the Extended Heel Beatdown Sequence. Wade did face-targeted offense, but it was mostly punchy-kicky. Not exactly thrilling, but Wade knows how to mix it up so it’s not entirely boring.

Still, it was a long match, way too long. I wasn’t sure if it was just because I watched it live and had to endure the nothingness that occurs during commercials, but it didn’t really work on the repeat viewing either. Just simply too long… It took too long for Kofi to start his rally, and it was a little too slow-paced for my taste. I’m all for long matches if the wrestlers click, but… they didn’t.

After Kofi’s rally, Wade took back control, then hit his newly renamed “Bullhammer Elbow.” Kofi wasn’t getting up from that.

Segment 3: General recap of the Brad Maddox story.

Segment 4: Paul Heyman was prancing around in the back with a giant poster of CM Punk celebrating a title win. The picture will relate to his Day 365 celebration later tonight, and Heyman is so excited that he finds Punk’s locker room. Punk pops out, then he and Heyman proceed to blow sunshine up each other’s asses. It’s all very charming in a very creepy way.

And then Matt Striker arrives to ask a question. I can barely remember the question, however, as Striker is sporting a handlebar mustache and soul patch combo that looks retarded as all hell. It reminds me of Ben Stiller’s mustache as the orderly in the retirement home in Happy Gilmore. Punk and Heyman both look offended, and everyone was simply hoping and praying Punk would ignore his question and instead focus on the caterpillar glued to his upper lip.

No dice. Striker asks Punk for comments about the way his title match ended the night before. Punk ignores the question and in fact takes offense at being asked ridiculous questions. Heyman is the peacemaker as he asks why Striker is being such a wet blanket on the day of Punk’s celebration. Everyone is invited to that! Even Ryback!

Now Punk backpedals and wants to talk to Heyman in private. And… instant fade out to commercials.

Segment 5 [Singles Match]: Kaitlyn reverse-squashes Aksana by pin. No entrances for either girl, but I see what Rick meant when he talked about Kaitlyn’s ass cleavage. Because the ass cleavage was in effect, and it was nice. Trish Stratus is still the Ass Cleavage Queen, though.

By the way, just in case you want to get a little pissed off, there was a girl in the row behind me who spent the entire match yammering to her boyfriend and/or brother how Kaitlyn is simply a new version of Trish Stratus (not just because of the clothes), but is better, because Trish was “the worst female wrestler in the history of WWE. She made it entertaining, but she was a horrible wrestler, and Kaitlyn is already better than she ever was.” So, yeah… that happened. [Ed. Note: it is true that Trish is often credited as being more talented in the ring than she really was, due to having very talented women to work with, and storylines people cared about. But the long-standing Wanker Counterpoint that Trish was horrible is so far detached from reality that you don't have to take those kinds of people seriously. They are, to use the technical term, fucktards. Also: Kaitlyn is much improved, is definitely working from a starting point of being naturally athletic and thus should continue to improve, and has all kinds of "it" factor, but let's be serious, now.]

Anyway… The match was decent for a diva’s match with a couple decent spots. Aksana had full control for a few minutes, capping off her offense by doing a pretty sick move. She grabbed Kaitlyn by the wrist while they were both were standing, wandered over to the ropes, then intentionally tipped backwards over the top rope. This was a Tarantula-like move, basically a standing inverted armbar using the top rope as extra leverage as Aksana’s entire weight was put into separating Kaitlyn’s shoulder. Good stuff… totally illegal, of course, but Aksana broke it by the five count.

From there, Aksana maintained control with arm-targeted offense, but things turned around when Aksana whipped Kaitlyn to the corner. Kaitlyn fell to her ample bottom from the force, and Aksana got on all-fours and sexily crawled across the ring to settle between Kaitlyn’s legs. But Kaitlyn doesn’t cheat on AJ with her lesbian undertones, so it was all Kaitlyn from there. Hair whips, kicks, and ended with a military press to gut buster. Pin, done, and a heaving chest to make us happy.

What You Didn’t See: This is a “you had to be there” moment, but indulge me. While you were watching commercials on USA, they also showed a video in the arena where Brodus Clay was doing a new (and extremely retarded) Hot Pocket Dance. One of the moves involves a two-handed belly rub, because Hot Pockets make you fat, or something.

Well, they encouraged everyone in the arena to do the Hot Pocket Dance for some damn reason, and they focused on one black dude who was getting way into it. He was so good at being fat that the entire crowd popped like The Rock had just entered the arena. It was a nice moment, the dude getting his 15 minutes of fame, and it was extremely entertaining. I sort of wish it had made it to TV.

Pre-Segment 6: R-Truth is on commentary for the next match. Apparently, Little Jimmy isn’t with him.

Also, Brodus did part of the Hot Pocket dance during his entrance, the belly rub at least, on the stage. I’m sort of torn on whether I want that to catch on.

Segment 6 [Singles Match]: Antonio Cesaro defeats Brodus Clay (w/ Naomi & Cameron) by pin. Decent match, nothing special, but another bit of a long one. It was reverse-formula, with Brodus doing most of the damage early. He whiffed on a Vader Bomb, and from there, Antonio took control. He went to the middle rope and jumped off with a corkscrew uppercut, then followed up with the freakin’ Neutralizer. Seriously, he held Brodus up in that awkward position for several seconds before landing it… crazy. [Ed. Note: Cesaro is clearly telling his opponents to deadweight him on his finisher. Even the fat ones. It's impressive, but that can't be good for his back. I can only hope once he completes the process of getting massively over, he'll let his opponents take the move in the standard pro-wrestling way, which would involve them slightly jumping to help him lift them up.]

Segment 7: John Cena has fulfilled 300 wishes for Make-A-Wish. Neat tribute to Cena’s time, especially when Cena said that “it’s not about statistics,” and that he hopes the 300 wishes simply mean there’s at least 300 more to go. The fans in the audience were unanimously cheering for the guy.

Cut Scene: Vickie is in the back and talking to Some Guy and Some Chick. We’ll see what this is all about next.

Segment 8: Vickie and her two people hit the ring. She picks up a mic… and, from there, I have to actually watch the show, because the Nutter Center fans were so fucking loud with their boos that I literally couldn’t hear her even while aided by the mic.

Vickie’s general opening is that she hasn’t been going after AJ to be a bitch, she’s just trying to tell the truth! And when one speaks the truth, it’s no reason to be humiliated! Vickie is so sure that she’s in the right that she brought along two eyewitnesses to AJ and Cena’s bad behavior. Smell the scandal!

The girl—conveniently named “Miss Smith”—is a waitress at the restaurant where they ate. Apparently, Cena and AJ were “being touchy feely and looking in each other’s eyes.” Like I said, smell the scandal.

Some Guy meanwhile said that Cena and AJ were in a car for a full hour, and apparently, someone near the parked vehicle complained to this Some Guy about what he was seeing (if that overuse of pronouns didn’t confuse you.) My question: why does Some Guy know they spent a full hour in a car together? Did he give himself a front row seat?

Well, we won’t know for sure, because here comes AJ. AJ is agitated at Vickie and her stupid efforts to create a scandal from nothingness. So if Vickie wants to fire her, then just fire her! But if not, just shut the hell up!

Vickie lets her blather, then answers that Some Guy was taking pictures of whatever was going on in the aforementioned car (again, why the fuck did he have such a good view?). And she’s going to show the picture, which so totally has nudity.

Except here’s Cena instead. Cena storms to the ring without his usual slide entrance, then gently takes the mic from AJ. Cena says all this blathering is retarded… If Vickie wants to give people something to talk about, he’ll show her how to get people talking.

Then Cena proceeds to tie his and AJ’s tonsils together.

Cena takes up the mic again and starts to give Vickie the punch line. But AJ’s not done, so she grabs Cena, whips him around, and tastes the roof of his mouth.

Well, then Dolph Ziggler hits the ring and starts punching Cena in the back of the head. Cena fights back, so Dolph quickly bails. Cena slides out of the ring to follow…

And seriously missteps, nearly hitting the ground. Rather than run after Dolph, he sort of hobbles up the ramp instead, staying as much as he can on one leg. Uh oh… looked like a pretty legit injury!

Or was it? Stayed tuned (or keep reading)…

Segment 9: Next up is a Best 2 out of 3 Falls match, featuring Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio. I still think they should have stopped at the kick-ass Falls Count Anywhere match from SmackDown, but WWE, like Hollywood, has never let good things lie without a sequel.

Segment 9.1 [Best 2 out of 3 Falls Singles Match, Fall #1]: Randy Orton defeats Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) by disqualification. Not off to a good start, as there is a lot of boring action here. It wasn’t bad, just punchy-kicky and not entertaining.

Things got slightly more interesting when ADR kicked Orton in the arm, then followed up with an arm DDT to soften up the limb. From there, Orton struggled and managed to toss ADR out of the ring, but was slow to follow up. ADR recovered quickly, jumped up on the apron, then snapped Orton’s arm down across the middle rope. Orton fell on his face, and ADR dragged him arm-first to the ring post. There, ADR just repeatedly slammed Orton’s on the post. The ref made the count… and got to five. Orton may have scored the point, but that arm is mush, and ADR knows his plan was a good one.

Then commercials.

Segment 9.2 [Fall #2]: ADR defeats Orton by submission. More arm-targeted offense by ADR, and it was his show from here. It was mainly punchy-kicky, but ADR mixed it up. Orton had a single hope spot but couldn’t do anything with it, and ADR was able to slap on the Cross Arm Breaker. Orton tapped, bell rang… but ADR rucks fules, so he went ahead and kept the hold applied anyway.

The ref called a pause to make sure Orton still had some control of his arm, so ADR went ahead and stole the Ultimate Pose of Douchebaggery. Meanwhile, one thing that the camera didn’t catch was that ADR and Ricardo swapped a plan while the Orton was trying to get to his feet.

Segment 9.3 [Fall #3]: Orton defeats ADR by pin. Finally the match gets good! Once again there’s more arm-related offense, and once again Orton gets a hope spot. Orton looks like he’s going to line up a Punt Kick of Doom, or something, but Ricardo grabs his ankle. The ref doesn’t give the DQ, but he does toss Ricardo from ringside.

ADR takes advantage of the distraction though and hits a Backstabber, then actually humps the ring to Orton. When Orton stands up, it’s ADR who goes for the Diamond Cutter. But Orton has his own move scouted, pushes ADR away, then hits his signature backbreaker. Now it’s Orton who reestablishes his territory by humping the ring.

But Orton fails at his RKO too, and ADR turns it into the Cross Arm Breaker again. Orton deals with the pain, clamors to his feet, and reverses the move into a small package. He only gets two, and he stumbles to the corner as he gets up. ADR tries the step up enziguri, but Orton dodges, making ADR faceplant the canvas. He gets up after a second, eats an RKO out of nowhere, and the very pro-Orton crowd is happy.

Segment 10: Recap of Segment 8, including slow-mo of the “injury.” It looked legit at the time, but after watching it like six times now, you can sort of see that he intentionally slid his leg in a way to cause himself to stumble. I could just be over-thinking things at this point, but really, I’m pretty sure it’s a work. (If not, WWE made a hell of an audible, as you’ll see.)

Anyway, we cut to the trainer’s room, where Cena is getting his knee wrapped. AJ stands at his side looking on with concern, but nothing of substance is said.

What You Didn’t See: RRRRRROOOSSSAAA!!! Except: her entrance wasn’t televised. Which sucks, because if it was, you would have seen only me standing up with my Rosa sign held high above my head, pissing off everyone sitting behind me. But I don’t care, because Rosa.

And speaking of Rosa and behinds, I was able to clearly see her do her hip-popping on the apron, except since I was sitting on the north side of the ring and she faced the south side, I was able to see the hip-popping from her back. And that… that was just swell.

Segment 11 [1-on-2 Handicap Match, Tag Rules]: Khali squashes Epico & Primo (w/ My Rosa Mendes) by pin. Shitty match, but a comedy one, so… meh.

Before the bell, Hornswoggle of all people hit ringside. As the match went on—and man, was it shitty—Horny walks over to My Rosa with flowers. Apparently, even the gesture is enough to make Rosa give gift giver a little kiss on the lips, which I wish I knew beforehand. So she leans down—giving Horny a fantastic view of her cleavage—and Horny presents her with the flowers. But… they’re trick flowers, so he blasts her with water from the bouquet. Now, I like seeing My Rosa sprayed down in the face and chest with a stream of liquid as much as the next guy, but by the time stopped selling her irritation, Khali hit Epico with the Punjabi Plunge and made the pin. And no one got replays. Lame.

Segment 12: Two stagehands are chatting in the back as they’re planning CM Punk’s celebration. Heyman arrives and looks at the checklist, but flips out when he doesn’t see the balloons on the list. “BALLOONS! I WANT BALLOOONS! BALLOONS! BALLOONS!” It doesn’t take much to make Heyman happy… or really pissed off.

Segment 13 [Singles Match]: The Miz defeats David Otunga by pin. Decent match, nothing special here. Pure formula, with Miz getting his ass kicked until he gets his hope spot and turns things around. He hits the Skull Crushing Finale, gets the pin, people are happy.

Well… some people. I had taken it on faith that the fans had fully turned Miz, but now I’m not so sure. There were significant people booing him throughout the match, an especially interesting choice given that Otunga was his opponent. Miz is clearly a tweener, and is probably more face than heel, but he’s not quite been embraced by the majority of non-wankers yet.

Segment 14: Recap of Sheamus/Show last night.

Segment 15: Recap of Segment 1.

Pre-Segment 16: Here comes Sheamus for a singles match tonight against OO favorite Damien Sandow. But first, Sheamus wants to talk.

Sheamus starts by saying he has something to say “before knocking the bejayzus out of his opponent tonight,” which was such an awesome word with his accent that half my section just immediately echoed it at the top of their lungs. Heh.

Anyway, Sheamus wants to chat about last night. He mentions that he had previously stated how much he loved the fight he and Show did last time around on a pay-per-view, even though it resulted in his loss. But then, Show got personal by being a jerk, mostly kicking William Regal’s ass for no reason.

And… well, and then Sheamus’s words get blander and blander, and the fans merciless “What?” and boo him. It wasn’t quite Bizarro World, but Sheamus’s promo was so dry that even I wanted to scream some “What?” chants along with the crowd (except I simply can’t lower myself to do that, even if that makes me sound like an elitist asshole).

To sum it up, he calls out Big Show. Oh… did I mention that Sheamus is holding the chair he used to beat the shit out of Show last night? Because he’s totally doing that. [Ed. Note: Yep. I think we know who's getting the Chairs Match at the upcoming TLC PPV.]

Anyway, Show does come out, but only comes out to the stage. What follows is a totally annoying argument of screaming vanilla bullshit that is admittedly intense, but not interesting at all.

Sandow then arrives. He doesn’t talk, but the Hallelujah Chorus cuts off the arguing, which is a net positive.

Segment 16 [Singles Match]: Sheamus defeats Damien Sandow by pin. There was nothing horrendous here, technically speaking… but dear god, this match went on forever. I mean For. Ev. Er. The fans were so pissed at the promo that we started up a competing “Let’s go Sandow! / Let’s go Sheamus!” pair of chants, and it was split about 50/50 (of the fans who actually gave enough of a crap to sing along).

The match was punchy-kicky-slammy, which was what you could expect. But it wasn’t mixed up well, and no one did anything especially interesting at all. Enough pro-Sheamus fans made noise that it wasn’t a total train wreck, but I dare anyone to watch it without falling asleep.

Also, we have a “What You Didn’t See” moment, as Sheamus chucks Sandow out of the ring to go to commercial. As the commercial actually happened, Sandow started overselling getting thrown out of the ring. He crawled like his legs were broken to the commentating table, then sort of climbed up Jerry Lawler’s shirt to try to get to a standing position, and he decided to hide between the commentators. It should have been funny, but the joke was too subtle, and it just looked awkward. Sandow moved himself out from behind the table before they came back from commercial, and WWE didn’t mention it on the program.

Sheamus eventually took control and hit a Brogue Kick to win the match, but it wasn’t very interesting how we got there. He hit all his signatures too—the Battering Ram and the 10 of Clubs—but it was totally unimportant. Pass.

I did bring a two-part sign for this match, inspired a fan. One sign read “It’s ‘Cubitum Aceti’ not ‘Cubito Aequet’” and “You’re welcome.,” but it never got on TV. Hell, the cameras seem to try to avoid my section… conspiracy? Or coincidence???

Coincidence. But still… I wanted that sign on TV. Sad face.

Segment 17: AJ confronts Vickie in her office. Tamina stands by as a bodyguard, but no blows come to pass. AJ wants to know what Vickie is going to do about Cena being hurt, which was obviously totally Dolph’s fault. Vickie says she won’t do anything… so AJ says she will. AJ leaves, Vickie is unconcerned, and we go to commercial.

Segment 18: Back from commercial, and AJ is walking through the halls. Layla is begging her not to do whatever she’s planning, but AJ verbally tosses her away. AJ finds herself at the men’s locker room, and she just barges in. She finds Dolph sitting on a chair, minding his own business. She marches to him, and the other men in the room just part like the Red Sea so she can do so.

She wants answers and implies that Dolph was complicit in a plan to attack Cena, but Dolph cuts her off. He then proceeds to do a complete character assassination on her, which I mean as the strongest possible compliment. Dolph’s monologue was exquisite as he says that girls like AJ are a dime a dozen: they’re so depressed and self-loathing without any self-confidence that they jump on the first dude who pays any attention to them, which is why she got hooked on Kane, then Daniel Bryan, then CM Punk, and now Cena all within this last year. He insists AJ remains completely alone… desperate… and pathetic. And when people disappoint them, they lose some pride, so much so that they become shells of their former selves. Ultimately, girls like AJ are sad… weak… pitiful… and are just ultimately trash.

Dolph sits back down as AJ looks one instant away from crying. So she just leaps on Dolph and starts beating the total shit out of her. Cena arrives and pulls her off, and would have left it at that, but then Dolph gets a cheap shot. So Cena starts fighting back, but then Dolph kicks his “knee” (actually his thigh) and Cena crumbles. He retreats to the toilet stalls attached to the locker room, but Dolph follows and drives him through the stalls. Dolph gets in a few more hits, including a stomp to Cena’s knee (his actual knee this time) before refs arrive to separate them.

Awesome monologue by Dolph, solid action, very good segment overall.

Segment 19: …Which of course means that WWE is going to show it to us fifteen more times before we’re done here. After the replay, Josh Mathews updates us that Cena “may have a partially torn meniscus” according to the trainers, and now it’s worse as he’s wheeled into the trainer’s room.

Pre-Segment 20: The Prime Time Players are on commentary for the next match.

Segment 20 [Tag Match]: Team Friendship defeats Sin Cara & Rey Mysterio by disqualification. Decent match, nothing special. The story here is that Team Friendship still aren’t exactly on the same page, but they’re getting closer and closer every week. Hell, by the end of the match, they were tagging each other in instead of just tagging themselves in!

The highlight of the match wasn’t even the match itself, but the commentary. Titus O’Neil should totally considering being the color man (no pun intended) in a two-man booth when he’s ready to hang them up. All four were entertaining in their own ways, even though admittedly their commentary had little in the way of actual match information.

The match ended when Rey managed to hit Kane with a 619, then went to the top rope to drop the time. Except: Kane had it scouted, and just grabbed Rey’s throat despite being flat on his back. Kane got up to his feet, and then the PTP decided for no damn reason to interfere. Young was the first in the ring, but Kane’s other hand wrapped around his throat. The ref called for the bell despite Kane being in control of the situation.

Post-Segment 20: Kane wanted to do a double chokeslam, but then Titus came in to break it up. The PTP double-teamed and beat down Kane, but then Sin Cara (who had been down) got on the apron and made the save. He did a tilt-a-whirl headscissors to put Young on the middle rope. Then, DB reentered the ring after being down as well, and with a low dropkick, set up Titus on the second rope as well. Rey recovered, hit the opposite ropes, then delivered a clean 1238. Young powdered out, but Titus woozily popped back up to his feet… and walked right into a Kane-delivered chokeslam.

The heels rolled out of the ring as Kane’s music played. Rey and Cara stayed outside the ring, giving a respectful look in Team Friendship’s direction. Nothing further, but I’d bet the feud is hardly over. [Ed. Note: I vote Tables Match at TLC.]

Cut Scene: Heyman blows more sunshine up Punk’s ass.

What You Didn’t See: I find the “behind the scenes” stuff fascinating with wrestling. The stagehands had to set up posters on easels for the next segment, and we saw one stagehand in the center of the ring just staring in the direction of the hard camera. Clearly, he was receiving orders as they were doing a camera/light test to make sure none of the posters glared or anything, so we saw him tweak this or that easel to get it perfect. Naturally, none of the fans were supposed to notice or care; they were showing some WrestleMania commercial or something. But I did notice, because I look at things like that.

Segment 21: Replay of Segment 18.

Segment 22: As we go from that, we’re in the ring. It’s got black carpeting with Punk’s stylized red X in the center of it. Three posters are in the ring on easels, two of photos and one of Punk’s ranking as eighth-longest reign of all time.

Heyman starts his introduction, but soon just goes on the offensive against the fans. He calls us hypocrites since we whine and cry for a return to the Attitude Era, but when Punk and Heyman give us a piece of attitude (in the form of mocking last week Lawler’s heart attack), we boo them. Hell, here in Dayton, we cheer “ECW!” at Heyman, but we don’t actually like it when we get a taste of extreme.

See, Heyman doesn’t think that WWE fans could ever have handle the awesomeness that is CM Punk, since Punk keeps raising the bar. Because even in this ultra-competitive era of WWE, Punk is head-and-shoulders above all others, not just in the current era, but of all time. (Yes, that sentence was a logical and structural nightmare, but it’s accurate to what Heyman said.)

Punk hits the ring after that and is all smiles. He hits the ring after an extended entrance, then lists Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and not even Bret Hart could go a full year as champion. He sardonically points out that if the “best there is, was, and ever will be” couldn’t do it, then he must be the next “best there is, was, and ever will be.” Heh. He even calls out Taker and The Rock as guys who couldn’t do it either.

We kick it to an overdone, over-celebratory video package of Punk’s accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good video, but it’s just slightly intentionally overdone to sell Punk’s arrogance, and it totally works.

Once the video concludes, he says that this may be a celebration of the past, but it should also be a celebration of the future, because Punk can’t and won’t stop until he’s at the top of the list. And that means beating Bruno Sammartino’s record of 2,803 days as WWE Champion. Ergo, Punk is so totally going to still be champion on July 25, 2018, which will be the 355th episode of WWE Main Event on Ion Television!

Heyman thinks back to when he was a photographer back when Sammartino was active. Heyman was a fan of Sammartino, and thinks he belongs in the Hall of Fame! But, Sammartino totally could never beat Punk. And neither could Hulk Hogan... which Heyman says as Punk mocks Hogan’s famous taunt. And Steve Austin (there’s that name again!) couldn’t beat Punk either! Punk punctuates that by miming that he’s drinking Steveweisers, which is just plain wrong for all sorts of reasons. And finally, at the Royal Rumble, it will be proven that even The Rock can’t beat Punk!

Punk takes the mic again and gives his heartfelt thanks to Heyman for setting up this celebration (which notably still lacks balloons). Punk considers which of his victories was his most important, and feels that if you had asked him that before last night, he wouldn’t have known how to answer. But now he has one, because he just beat Cena and Ryback totally by himself in the same night!

Punk says he’s #1 with a bullet, and that’s because no one thought he could do it. The fans thought he would lose, probably because we’re losers too! But he knew he was going win!

And here comes Ryback to respond… except he gets jumped by Punk’s new crew as he gets to the foot of the ramp. Ryback initially fights them off, but he soon falls to the numbers as he gets in the ring. (Another “What You Didn’t See” Moment, as Punk spends his time hiding behind his easels and posters. Heh.) The fight spills out of the ring, and just like the previous night, they do a three-man super powerbomb to drive Ryback through the announcers’ table.

Punk looks on with satisfaction. He exits the ring, takes his title, and poses over Ryback’s body with a foot on his chest. And that’s our final image as we fade out.

Final Thoughts: I’m always biased when I recap a show that I’ve attended, because being there live makes the whole experience better, even when it is tepid. But trying my best to maintain objectivity, tonight wasn’t exactly thrilling. There was a lot of setup last night for a lot more setup tonight, which doesn’t really help. There were too many long stretches, too many commercials, and too many replays to really give it momentum. [Ed. Note: I absolutely second the "too many replays" thing. Ten out of ten for updating casual fans who flip past the show, already in progress. But minus several million for antagonizing the fans watching in real time. That said, I really like the show, overall, and would be way more generous about the in-ring wrestling than Pyro. None of those matches were over-long to me; I genuinely liked Kofi/Barrett, Sheamus/Sandow, and the tag match, on top of the 2-of-3 falls match that got really good at the end.]

We know there’s such a thing as a slow burn, and the ambiguity of what, exactly, the three newcomers are doing is interesting. But we need answers, not more blind assaults, and I don’t think the ending sequence was much value-add. Same with the undercard: not really much happened here, other than Cena having a good reason to feud with Dolph. Otherwise, feuds were fueled, but not with any significant advancement.

Even though I had the advantage of knowing everything that was going to happen, the recap still took me entirely too long to write. I’m tired; it’s 4:35am, and I have to get up in four hours to go to work. Not pleasant, but it was totally worth it.

Also worth it was the merchandise I picked up after the show…

…Totally worth it. Except I think it’s staring into my soul.

I won’t see you again until after Thanksgiving, so please: enjoy your holiday, be safe, and don’t be an idiot if you happen to shop on Black Friday. Take care, and I’ll see you this weekend for SmackDown!

Episode Grade: C-



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