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RAW: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Rock's Shiny New Toy
February 19, 2013

by PyroFalkon
Master of the PyroFalkon Multimedia Empire, Incorporated
Follow Pyro's Tweets
on Twitter --/-- View Pyro's Videos on Youtube

 
I've mentioned before that I work at Walmart. Technically I'm the bicycle and furniture assembler, but as all us employees do, I'm "trained" in helping out other departments. Due to geography, I tend to assist the sporting goods department more than any other.
 
For the most part, I enjoy chatting with customers, but being around ammunition has quickly become an exercise in my tolerance and patience. Ever since the Newtown shooting and the government's debate on what new gun laws (if any) need to be enacted, sales of ammunition have massively increased due to panic buying.

It's not limited to Walmart; most stores that sell ammunition at all are running low, especially of the .223-caliber rounds that the Newtown shooter used to blow out the glass door.

The frustration felt by many gun owners I've interacted with bleeds into their politics, which unfortunately further bleeds into their interactions with me. I recently took a call from a customer asking if we had any 9mm rounds, and I replied that we didn't. Typical exchange with a customer... until he then replied to my negative answer with a scream of "FUCK OBAMA!" before slamming the phone down.

Just for full disclosure: I'm an independent, I voted for Obama both times, and I tend to lean left when it comes to social issues. For this one issue, I'm actually leaning slightly right, so I'm not one of the crazy people who is calling for the banning of anything with a trigger (not that the President is doing that either). But it doesn't matter what side of the debate I'm on: I'm at my freaking job! Leave me alone!

Small talk with customers is part of the job but I lost my patience with idiots in the run up to the election, and I've lost my patience hearing about this issue. Certain co-workers, who I love dearly, have fueled the fires of my annoyance by openly discussing with customers whether Obama is actively fighting against the country and what steps should be taken to stopping him, including extremely idiotic ideas that, if I type them, will lead to the Secret Service knocking on my door. Meanwhile, Walmart is paying me to be as polite as possible until I can excuse myself from the uncomfortable situation and get back to, you know, earning a living.

I feel for employees of any job where they have to unnecessarily endure people blathering at them. The poor bastards at Chick-Fil-A had to deal with the homosexual debate some months ago when their CEO decided to them under the bus with his public comments. Again, this goes beyond whether or not you agree with the issue: you're at your job to work, whether that means making chicken sandwiches or trying to check people out for buying stuff. It bothers me that customers, instead of wanting to just get the transaction over with as quickly as possible so we can both move on with our day, prefer to stand on their soapboxes and prattle a political diatribe that I can do literally nothing about other than assuage their own frustration by repeating "Yes, sir" more times than a private in Basic Training.

To an extent, I suppose I'm guilty of the same thing. After all, that's what these precaps do: you're here for wrestling information, and I'm possibly wasting your time by talking about my personal life. Here's the difference though: you're well within your rights to scroll down, or click away and go do something else; some readers already have. But those employees who work with the public don't often have that choice. I certainly can't just walk to the backroom and leave a customer in mid-sentence unless I welcome complaints and official discipline. Still, by blathering about it, I've at least released some of the frustration I've had built up about it, and now I feel better. Maybe that's all my annoying customers want too... but it still gets old after an eight-hour shift, five days a week.

So, that's enough from me. Let's get to RAW, and as usual, don't complain about spoilers here. Consult Rick's recap of last night's Elimination Chamber if you're not yet up to speed.

Segment 1: It's John Cena to start off RAW tonight, because if there's one thing WWE likes to do, it's to lead with losers! Cena gets some new multicolored spotlights to accompany his entrance too, since, again, that's the kind of thing I notice.

Blathering ensues, mostly general hype for WrestleMania 29. Then comes CM Punk, since again we're leading with losers. (Michael Cole says that Punk lost to a "great match" against The Rock last night. Rick's recap begs to differ. [Ed. Note: the finish was really good, and will make a "great" highlight package. But it was 14 minutes of blah before the 4 minutes of fun.]) Punk and Paul Heyman get in the ring, and Punk opens by saying that Rock totally beat him fair and square last night... after Punk had him "pinned for an 18-count at one point" and after Rock "struck an official" which should have been a DQ.

Punk concludes that Rock beat him last night, just as he beat Cena at WrestleMania 28. But if we talk about straight win/loss records, Cena has never beaten Punk, and so Cena is taking the easy way out at WrestleMania by facing The Rock. Cena responds in agreement that he'll be facing Rock, and that Punk needs to just let it go since WrestleMania isn't about him.

Well, Punk says, that's the problem. He beat absolutely everyone in the industry with his 434-day title defense streak. But how did Cena "earn the right" to main event WrestleMania? He won Royal Rumble by entering about #25, tossed out a couple C-listers, and called it a day. Ultimately, Punk isn't interested in Rock/Cena II because the same thing will just happen again: Rock will win because Cena can't win the big one.

Cena laughs that off; what does he want him to do? Punk tells him to just walk away... Walk away from the ring, the company, and the profession, and to just get out of Punk's life. Cena just says "No." Heh.

Cena admires Punk's balls and honesty, and says that if sift through all the douchebaggery, Punk's probably an okay dude. But Punk should know Cena better than that, and that he's not going to just walk away from WrestleMania, especially not the main event. But Punk is right: Cena hasn't beaten Punk or Rock, and he knows he's got his critics who say he can't get it done. So fine, he's going to shut up the critics: he challenges Punk to a match. If Cena wins, Punk has to shut up, "crawl into the hole you came from, and go away." But Punk wins, Cena will concede that he doesn't deserve the shot, and will give it to Punk instead. Cena declares that unlike him, Punk just talks business, while Cena handles business, so let's do this!

Heyman and Punk quickly confer, and Punk agrees to the match... but not "here" in whatever city they're in. Punk wants it on his terms, especially given that he was screwed last night. So the match will happen next week instead, and Punk leaves with that declaration to tons of boos. Cena gets in a final rant, which concludes with his punch line that the champ is HERE... Or at least will be after he beats Punk, then Rock.

Hm... double-finish so we turn the main event at 'Mania into a triple threat match? We'll have to wait until next week to see.

Segment 2: Cole kicks it to Josh Mathews, except it's actually Matt Striker, who interviews Sheamus backstage. Before Sheamus can speak, Some Guy -- I think it was Ryback -- quickly walks through the shot and momentarily confuses everyone.

Oh, wait, it wasn't accidental. It was Ryback, who is just pacing back and forth. Sheamus stops him and tells him to chill, since they all lost the match last night, and they need to adapt their style to deal with The Shield. Ryback just glares at Sheamus, so Sheamus doubles down and wonders if Ryback is just an unthinking meathead after all. Ryback doesn't like to be insulted, so he grabs Sheamus's collar and starts to make generic threats while they both ready their fists.

Then Chris Jericho arrives to seperate them and shove them both, which seems pretty stupid. But Jericho rallies them, then proceeds to imply that The Shield is a better and stronger force than nWo and Nexus. I buy the latter argument, but the former? I dunno, buddy.

Jericho interjects himself into this "team" and says they all need to ally and "save the company" from The Shield. He loves WWE and never wanted to go anywhere else since he joined up however many years ago, so they must stop Shield and that must start tonight. So he thinks they should have another 6-man tag match, and Jericho is sure that Vickie Guerrero will be down for that match since it'll totally sell tickets (even though everyone has already bought them). Sheamus and Ryback tell him to make it happen, so he runs off, but Sheamus and Ryback continue glaring at each other anyway.

Segment 3 [Singles Match]: Mark Henry extend-squashes Sin Cara by pin. Credible, but not worth recapping.

Post-Segment 3: After the match, Herny started messing with Sin Cara's face, which is about as much of an oxymoron as I could possibly type, as he implied he was going to tear off the mask. Then he teased a second World's Strongest Slam, just to be a jerk.

And... it's Khali to make the save? Huh. Khali lumbers his way down to the ring after entirely too long, and Henry... bails. That was stupid. How is that supposed to help his credibility? Hell, didn't Henry just beat Khali pretty handily a week or two ago? [Ed. Note: Twice.]

Outside the ring, Henry mocks Khali's dance, so I guess we're supposed to assume that Henry backed down because he didn't find Khali to be worth his time. Except this goes against everything in Henry's character, so... what the hell?

Segment 4: Another Fandango vignette. I'm getting really tired of those three words. Still, this one was crazy-short, so... hooray, I guess?

Segment 5 [No-DQ Singles Match]: The Miz reverse-extend-squashes Antonio Cesaro by submission. Decent match, but a little short. It was a spotfest and a pretty decent one for a free one on the weekly shows. Miz had the early offense, but then Cesaro introduced chairs and a kendo stick and took over momentum.

The final sequence saw Cesaro fling Miz into a corner, one with a chair wedged in the ropes to give some extra pain. Cesrao then talked some crap, gave him a European Uppercut, then went for a charge. Miz countered with a quick kick to Cesaro's face, sending him backwards a bit. Cesaro charged again, this time with a knee, but Miz moved, and Cesaro kneed the chair instead. As he sold it, Miz grabbed his tights and threw him chin-first onto the back of a chair that had been set up in the ring. Ouch! Miz followed that up with the Figure Four, and Cesaro tapped out after a couple seconds.

Segment 6: Zeb Colter has lost his goddamn mind and created a YouTube account called "wethepeoplezeb," wherein he shows off his ideas about how the government should be run while Jack Swagger stands threateningly in the background and stares angrily at the camera through his stupid bangs. We get a "preview video" of it here, which includes the absolutely wonderful line "This land of opportunity has become a desert of despair." It's horrible for all the right reasons. This asshole would probably spend all eight hours of my shift insulting our store's lack of ammunition.

Zeb isn't even trying to hide his racism anymore, which is also fantastic for the character. His nonsense is so redundant and ridiculous that he gives us phrases like "All these Mexicans are here with their hands out, looking for handouts," which you know is something that Glen Beck would say while waving his chalk around if this was still 2010. Zeb concludes that he'll give Mexicans a handout: "a one-way ticket back to wherever you came from." Because if the government won't do it, who will?

Jack puts his hand over his heart and declares: "We, the people!" Zeb, without looking at him: "Exactly." Ha!

Holy crap, that whole thing was hilarious, and I didn't even mention the "Don't Tread on Me" flag in the background. It also helped that the thing looks like it was shot with a handicam, rather than a professional camera, which just helps sell the insanity of the whole thing. Good, good stuff.

Segment 7: Daniel Bryan is angry. He finds Kane and takes him to task for punching him in the face rather than hugging it out during the Elimination Chamber match, and now he's not sure if he feels comfortable teaming up with him anytime soon. Ergo, tonight, DB gets to face Swagger in solo competition, and DB so totally doesn't want Kane to come out with him.

Kane's all, "Well, I'll just get a singles match tonight too, and you won't get to come out with me!" And DB's all, "Fine!" And Kane's all, "Fine!" And I'm all, "I'm easily entertained because this is making me smile!"

Then Kane supplies a line that has no business being uttered: "You better be a man of your word, because I don't deal well with snakes." What the hell is that supposed to mean? It's completely out of context and nonsensical. What was DB being a "man of" when it came to his rant?

Oh, wait... Randy Orton is standing right there, slightly off-screen to the left, and he says "Someone talking about me?" in regard to the snake comment. That makes even less sense, but I guess in egotistical Ortonland, any statement that may have even the slightest indirect thing to do with him must mean we're talking about him.

Kane goes on to cut a promo against snakes with the same passion as Stephen Colbert would against bears. Orton responds that that might have been intimidating before Kane "traded in Tombstone Piledrivers for hugs," which is the first time in years that Orton has made me legitimately laugh. Then Orton follows up with "You're not the Big Red Machine anymore, you're more like Barney. The dinosaur." Ugh. Orton's promo quality immediately goes back to normal.

DB oversells the hilarity of the line, which pisses off Kane enough to angrily stare at the both of them. Nothing else here, but I guess we know one of the matches tonight.

Segment 8: Fade to Vickie Guerrero talking to someone on the phone in her office. Heyman arrives, words are exchanged, and nothing really happens. Heyman is mad that Vickie summoned him. Vickie has some sort of news that will affect "Heyman's whole career," but she's not going to reveal it until she's in the ring, so she runs off.

So... why the hell did she summon Heyman if she was just going to leave and announce it later? What the hell, Writer Monkeys? Can you not even keep continuity within the same damn 30-second skit?

Segment 9 [Singles Match]: Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) defeats Dolph Ziggler (w/ AJ & Big E. Langston) by submission. Decent match, but nothing special, and it was awfully one-sided. Dolph basically got in a few reverse hope spots but suffered a Cross Arm Breaker out of nowhere and tapped out.

One pretty sweet spot happened about halfway through. Dolph went up to the top rope in the corner, but he was facing away from the canvas. ADR followed, then stood on the middle rope. The move started as a belly-to-back superplex, but ADR gave Dolph some extra torque. Instead, Dolph did a 270-degree backwards spin, slamming his face into the canvas. Jerry Lawler called it a "reverse faceplanting suplex," so just change that last word to "superplex" and there we go. Pretty sick.

Post-Segment 9: Langston wasn't happy about seeing his buddy lose, so he slid in the ring and beheaded ADR with a clothesline, then followed up with his sit-down shoulder-mounted gutbuster finisher. Dolph looked like he didn't quite know where he was... then realized that ADR was unconscious, so he grabbed his Money in the Bank briefcase and wanted to cash it in! The crowd goes apeshit!

Mike Chioda asked Dolph if he was sure, then tried to take it. But then Ricardo made the "save," stealing the briefcase and hauling ass up the ramp. Langston and AJ were in pursuit as Dolph threw a tantrum in the ring. Ricardo dropped the case (and probably a duece in his pants) halfway up the ramp. AJ grabbed it and came running back, then tossed it to Dolph in the ring. Dolph turned around to look for Chioda, but ADR had recovered and hit a step-up enziguri. Dolph collapsed on his face, and ADR flung the case out of the ring.

Man, that was a thrilling little exchange, and the crowd was pretty damn hot for it.

Segment 10: Wade Barrett is in the ring as we come back from commercial, and he's got a mic. He puts himself over as being an awesome wrestler, but now he's also an awesome movie start because he's in something called Dead Man Down. Whatever, buddy... Oh, he's going to force us to watch a trailer. Alrighty then.

So, it's an action movie, and I'm not going to get into recapping a freaking movie trailer, but I will say that Barrett's character showed up for about a half-second of a cutaway of one scene. What is Barrett trying to prove?

Back to live, and Barrett again starts to put over his alleged acting chops. Sheamus then appears on the Titantron, insults him, and says that the film is "brilliant" since Barrett doesn't have any speaking lines. Sheamus wraps up by acknowledging through an off-screen stagehand that they're out of time for this stupid segment. Barrett flips out and angrily says "You're ruining my special moment!," which is just about the whiniest possible thing he could say.

And... that's it. Ugh. Why did WWE waste five minutes of my time with this?

Cut Scene: Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler pimp some action figures for another couple minutes. What the fuck, WWE?

Pre-Segment 11: I'm starting to think that I really, really like the color dark blue for women. Good lord, does it look fantastic on Naomi and Cameron. And apparently someone thought it was a good idea to have Tensai where a pith helmet-like hat on the way to the ring with Brodus. This is stupid, and I'm not entertained--

RRRRRROOOSSSAAA!!! Okay, I'm entertained again. The Funkadactyls wearing dark sparkly blue is pretty hot, but Rosa wearing basically anything (white in this case) trumps them every time. She puts a little extra pop into her hip-popping on the apron, sending her ass a good four feet away from the rest of her. What's the onomonopia for my drool hitting the keyboard?

Of serious note here, Rosa and the Colons started their entrance as the faces barely got to the bottom of the ramp. That trailer and the stupid action figure mini-commercial wasted so much time that they basically had to combine both entrances, as Brodus was doing an abbreviated dance in the northwest corner as Rosa was hip-popping on the south apron. It almost looked like they were all entering together for some reason... which really makes me want to see Rosa in dark blue with pom poms, but I digress.

Wait... why is My Rosa not getting out of the ring?

Segment 11 [Six-Person Mixed Tag Match]: Brodus Clay, Tensai, & Naomi (w/ Cameron) squash Primo, Epico, & My Rosa Mendes by pin. Huh. Naomi and Rosa didn't set the world on fire in the ring, but I'm not going to complain about seeing those two hug on each other for a minute.

My Rosa had had enough of that mess, so she tagged out to Primo, and Naomi immediately hit Primo with a huracanrana. The purist in me says that's a DQ since this is a mixed tag match rather than an intergender one, while the rest of me tells the purist to shut up and enjoy the match.

Automatic tag to Tensai now that Primo is in the ring, and he just beats the hell out of Primo. Epico breaks up the pin, then runs away from Tensai's rage, and Epico finds himself standing on the mats... where, for some reason, Rosa is also standing despite the fact that she should probably be on the apron awaiting a tag. So as Epico and Rosa try to figure out what to do, Naomi slides in the ring, runs catty-corner, and does a baseball slide through Tensai's legs to kick both Epico and Rosa in the face. Rosa oversells it, but whatever.

Back in the ring, Primo gets in one dropkick, which sends Tensai to the corner. Brodus tags himself in, and they destroy Primo, finishing up with a double rebound splash, which probably liquified his bones. Naomi doesn't even bother to get back to the apron, instead picking up her pom poms as Brodus makes the academic pin. If this match lasted more than two minutes, I'll eat one of Rick's trusty bugs.

Tensai now goes ahead and dances along of his own volition, and Cole once again tries to pimp the team name "The Dancing Bears." No. Just... no.

And, yes, I just fully recapped a squash match. That breaks Online Onslaught Bylaw #3, but when My Rosa Mendes is involved, we make exceptions.

Segment 12: Montage of the press conference of the "big announcement" that WrestleMania 30 will be hosted at New Orleans. The logo includes a wide, stylized fleur-de-lis, which immediately makes me think of Saints Row.

Segment 13: This is President's Day, and there's no better way to celebrate it apparently than to have Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger give a State of the Union address. Also: they play some sort of epic, powerful music as a lead-in, and if that's Jack Swagger's new theme song that Rick was talking about last night, I'm definitely sold on it.

The two morons are in the ring, which is carpeted in red, and has a wooden podium in the center. Two "Don't Tread On Me" flags are in the background too. Swagger begins by putting himself and his success in the Elimination Chamber over, then turns the mic over to Zeb in short order. Good choice.

Zeb begins by putting over the Bill of Rights, since he can totally say whatever he wants. And what he wants to say is that the "state of the union" is pathetic, and it's all because of those jerk illegal aliens. He says they have to "fix this problem," and that's what Swagger is going to do.

See, Swagger won the right to go after the World Heavyweight Title, but now that match has bigger implications than just the title! It's for the country's heart and soul! The challenger is an uber-patriot, while the current champion is just a dumbass immigrant who reaped the rewards of this country. So at WrestleMania, Swagger is going to do two things: winning the World Heavyweight Title, and he's going to recapture America. We the people!

Swagger then starts screaming "We the people!" over and over about as many times as Daniel Bryan screams "Yes!," which is just about as annoying, but somehow funnier. I love how, in the context of what's going on, Zeb Colter thinks that Swagger winning one match will magically fix all of America's problems. I know this is me "explaining the joke," and I semi-apologize for that, but I'm all for a heel's shtick boiling down "We can fix everything that's wrong with society by accomplishing this ONE thing that has nothing to do with it!" It makes me want to punch Zeb Colter for the same reasons I punch anyone who things we can eliminate immigration by building a wall, or eliminate school shootings by banning videogames. At least Zeb is self-aware, which makes it funny, rather than pathetic.

Anyway... speaking as I did of Daniel Bryan in the last paragraph, here comes DB now. Oh wait, it's his entrance, and they're having a match now. I don't know why DB is bothering to make his full entrance when the stagehands still need to clear the ring, but we're going to commercial anyway.

Segment 14 [Singles Match]: Jack Swagger (w/ Zeb Colter) defeats Daniel Bryan by submission. Solid match, no high spots, but it's a should-watch. Swagger and DB click well together, probably because both focus so much on technical wrestling (with DB throwing in some flying too), but it's still nothing you'll talk about at the water cooler.

Pretty standard formula, though DB's final hope spot lasted a fairly long time, and Swagger's eventual win came out of nowhere, which is difficult to do with a submission. According to Cole, Swagger's ankle lock has been renamed again, going from the "Patriot Act" to the "Patriot Lock," which makes way less sense. I hope that was just a problem with the legal department, and not someone from the Creative Team thinking the change was for the better.

As usual, OO does not recognize stupid decisions based off stupider issues. Ergo, it's still the "Patriot Act" around here.

And seriously, that theme song kicks all sorts of ass. As soon as WWE gets it up on iTunes, I'm going to buy it.

Segment 15: After a WrestleMania 29 hype video (that includes the song "I'm Coming Home" by J. Cole, which is always pleasing to my ears and fills me with nostalgia for some reason), Vickie Guerrero is already in the ring with Paul Heyman. After some blathering, she gets to the "announcement": a new assistant General Manager (or rather, a new "Assistant to the Managing Director of RAW")! And it's... Brad Maddox?

Maddox comes down the ramp without music as he says he got this position as a reward for turning rat and showing the "special relationship" between Heyman and The Shield. As Brad gets in the ring, he and Vickie argue about whether his new title is "assistant managing director" or "assistant to the managing director," which you may recognize as an argument first started by Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute in 2005. Heyman: "Excuse me, but is this my cue to vomit?," which gets him his loudest cheers since returning as a heel.

Heyman gives no shit about what either one has to say, so he starts to leave... and then Vince McMahon appears on the Titantron via satellite looking pretty good (albeit leaning on crutches). Heyman tries to suck up, but Vince shuts that shit down pretty quick. Some rambling ensues, and we get a clip of last week where Heyman stupidly said to Vince "I'll do anything if you give me the stipulation" to the Rock/Punk match last night.

Well, now Vince has come to collect. After more blathering, Vince says that next week, he's going to come down to the ring (on his crutches), and Heyman will be there too, and they're going to fight! Heyman drops his mic, and he sells it like he's just been ordered to clean all the toilets in the Empire State Building with his tongue.

His reaction is weird. As Jerry Lawler points out, Vince will be only three weeks removed from hip surgery, and Heyman is relatively able-bodied, so... what the hell? Why is Heyman acting like a pussy? I have a feeling that the answer, whatever it is, will be highly disappointing.

Whatever that's all about, that's the end of the segment.

Segment 16 [Six-Man Tag Match]: The Shield defeats Chris Jericho, Sheamus, & Ryback by pin. Absolutley fantastic match, worthy of being called free-per-view, and certainly worthy of a proper recap.

Early offense by Ryback on Seth Rollins, resulting in about a dozen shoulder blocks to the gut in the northwest (faces') corner. Jericho tagged himself in and pulled Ryback off, rather firmly reminding him that he doesn't want to get DQed.

During the lecture, Rollins ran over and tagged in Dean Ambrose. Jericho handled him pretty easily, busting out some flying and otherwise dominating him. More tags, and then it was Sheamus versus Roman Reigns, which was a heavy, sloppy brawl that featured little selling from Sheamus and overselling from Reigns. It made sense in context, and Reigns ate White Noise.

Reigns retreated to the southwest corner, as Sheamus went to the northeast and called for the Brogue Kick. As Reigns got to his feet, Rollins ran over and pulled Reigns out of the ring. Sheamus wasn't happy, so he just Brogue Kicked Dean Ambrose off the south apron, sending him head-first into the barricade, though he was probably unconscious before then. The faces looked fantastic as we go to commercial.

Back from that, and Reigns has recovered. He's not exactly dominating Sheamus, but he's in control and has cut the ring in half. From there, the heels show their usual awesome teamwork to keep Sheamus completely under control. Reigns tags out to Rollins, who maintains momentum with a reverse Dragon Sleeper and keeps Sheamus contained in the corner. But when Rollins tags back out to Reigns, Sheamus quickly fights him off and makes the tag to Ryback.

The crowd absolutely explodes as Ryback goes house of fire on Rollins. Spinebuster, Clothesline From Hell, and he wants the Shellshock. But that's when Ambrose distracts the ref, and Reigns hits a Spear on Ryback as he did last night, producing a double-strike: the Spear itself, and then Rollins falling on top of him like a mini-splash. Rollins makes a pin, but can't close the deal.

Rollins tags in Ambrose, who quickly keeps Ryback contained. Meanwhile, the crowd fires up a ridiculous "Y2J! Y2J!" chant, and Jericho feeds off the energy by jumping around like a lunatic on the apron. Not going to happen yet: Ryback becomes the true face in peril, and The Shield uses quick tags and referee distractions to keep Ryback completely contained and abused.

Reigns again proved to be the liabilty for The Shield, however. After an exchange, he threw Ryback into the corner, then trying a running forearm that looked like it tried to be a crossbody, but couldn't quite get the elevation. Ryback dodged, and Reigns crotched himself on a rope and totally oversold it, then flopped off the ropes. Ryback crawled across the ring as the crowd started up their "Y2J!" chant again.

Jericho took the hot tag, the crowd lost its shit, and Jericho went house of fire on Ambrose and Rollins. Lionsault, pin, but kick out at 2.

We've entered the end game. Jericho tried the Walls, but Ambrose countered into a pin. No deal.

More back-and-forth in the ring as Ryback and Reigns randomly took each other out on the outside. Jericho managed to apply the Walls. Ambrose resisted, giving Reigns time to get in the ring to try to break it up. However, Sheamus had it scouted and floored Reigns with a Lou Thesz Press. The ref tried to separate them, giving time for Rollins to do a sick vaulting springboard flying forearm that propelled him literally halfway across the ring. It broke the hold, and Ambrose quickly covered Jericho. Ref turned around and... counted to three? Huh, that seemed like a pussy move to end the match on, but whatever.

If I have to be totally objective, I'll say that the match ending slightly flopped, and with nothing really at stake here, it lost a little something... but all of that was totally offset by the crowd, which was completely into it and ridiculously hot. We're talking The Rock-caliber reactions here, and that raucous atmosphere really helps sell the action. Good stuff.

After the match, The Shield celebrated for a split-second, then bailed through the crowd before the faces could get their hands on them.

Segment 17: Kofi Kingston is already in the ring as we come back from commercial. Damien Sandow makes his entrance for the match, but he wants to talk first. Sandow points out that several members of the Sandow family advised American Presidents throughout history, including his grandfather coming up with The New Deal. Ergo, he proposes a "New Deal": all of us nitwits need to remain silent and simply allow him to save us from the doldrums of our own self-imposed ignorance, we're welcome. Good lord, do I love the way he can spin a phrase.

Then, uh, he turns and hits Kofi in the jaw with the mic. Huh, that's random. They brawl around for a bit, and then Sandow flings Kofi shoulder-first into the ring post. But Sandow isn't done, so he flings Kofi sort of back in the ring, then starts kneeing him a thousand times while Kofi is prone on the apron.

And, uh, here comes R-Truth to make the save! I kinda forgot the guy existed... where's he been? [Ed. Note: Knee injury. Happened around the same time Punk, Cody, Sin Cara, and Rey all got shelved, so his plight might have gotten lost in the shuffle.] Truth is a full savior, sends Sandow packing, and helps Kofi back to his feet. I guess this tag team is reformed now?

Segment 18: Josh Mathews interviews Some Guy and Some Chick in the crowd for no apparent reason. Oh, they're two stars in a new GI Joe movie that co-stars The Rock, I get it. That leads to a trailer, making the Movie Trailer Count up to 2 for a goddamn professional wrestling show. Ugh... at least they kept this one under 30 seconds.

Segment 19: Another Fandango vignette. One of these days I'm just going to abbreviate that to "AFV" until someone decides to put Johnny Curtis on TV.

Segment 20 [Singles Match]: Randy Orton defeats Kane by pin. Ugh. Subpar match, though the crowd was hot, so that's something. Nothing to speak of here except the ending. Kane had Orton basically beaten down for the whole match, but when he was going to go for the chokeslam, Daniel Bryan came down to ringside for no reason. He didn't do anything, but Kane was distracted as he glanced at him... and Orton hit a patented RKO out of nowhere. Whatever.

Segment 21: Coming back from commercial, we've got a freaking marching band on the stage and all down the sides of the ramp. Music happens, and I'm pretty damn confused.

They play a little fight song as they adjust their position so they line not just the ramp, but the entire aisle as well. However, they've parted from gorilla and the stage, and... IF YA SMELL!!!

The brass section stays quiet, but as The Rock makes his entrance, the drummers accompany Rock's usual entrance music. It actually sounds really cool, and I sort of wish I had could have heard it live. After all, sound quality differs by orders of magnitude between listening to it live in an arena versus listening to it on shitty speakers from an old Phillips Magnavox TV in low-definition composite audio cables. And one of the few things I haven't talked about publicly around here is that I love listening to drum cadences, and I can't begin to explain why.

Anyway, Rock makes his full entrance, and the commentators piss me off by talking over the drums. The point here is that Rock is doing a title celebration, and no one does that like The Rock, since he hired the University of Louisiana marching band and everything. Rock then gives some revisionist history by saying Punk did "everything he could" to beat him last night, and that the "best in the world just wasn't best enough." Cute, and grammatically painful.

Rock then spews some cheap pops, hits his opening catchphrase, and... uh, and I just noticed that there's something in the ring on a table covered with red velvet. And I think we may have a clue here: Rock says that he's going to WrestleMania, but he's not going there with "this," and the camera zooms in on the title belt. Do I smell a redesign?

Rock says he that he has great respect for the WWE Title, but when the this belt was reveiled eight years ago by "one of the greatest superstars of all time," it worked, and it was cool... then. But now, he thinks it should never look like a toy, and it sure as hell shouldn't spin. So he hands it to a stagehand and tells him to get it to the Hall of Fame, which I'm sure that stagehand will personally do.

Rock thinks the title should inspire you, and it should look pretty enough to adorn the waists of anyone in the past who has ever worn it. So... he pulls the velvet away, and the new title... is... uh... Well, it's awfully gaudy, but it's not bad. Certainly better than the spinner. I was going to describe it further, but I have this sneaking suspicion that Rick has a picture of it on the front page. [Ed. Note: Yeah, but I'm going to make fun of it, because it is still pretty much butt-ugly. Also, it's worth pointing out that WWE's had this new belt in their back pocket for over a year... there are pictures on the Forums to prove it. I wonder if the plan all along was to wait until the Rock could unveil it, or if maybe Punk had the chance and said "Uh, no. The current belt is ugly, but I'm not gonna go on TV and try to pretend this is much of an improvement."]

One thing about the title though is that it's got the Brahma Bull logos on the small plates, which makes me wonder whether they'll change upon a new champion. We'll see.

Rock shoulders the title, then makes the case that among Cena and Punk, there is one man he wants to face at WrestleMania, and that man is--

Here comes Cena, who slow-walks to the stage, before Rock can finish. Cena doesn't have a mic, but they simply glare at each other, and the fans are firmly anti-Cena here.

And then Punk sneaks up from behidn and blasts Cena in the back of the head with the spinner belt. When the hell did the stagehand get to the back? Anyway, Punk unceremoniously dumps the old title on Cena's corpse, then points at The Rock threateningly. Rock starts hopping around in the ring, but Punk doesn't want to play; they just glare at each other some more, and we end the show.

Final Thoughts: I think I've said everything I possibly could say about this episode. It was very entertainment-heavy, which for the most part wasn't good. But purists and wankers will absolutely wet themselves at The Shield's match. Holy crap, they're awesome.

With the last pay-per-view before WrestleMania now in the bag, and the players and matches are starting to shake out for the big one, that means it's now time to start working on my yearly giant "WrestleMania 29: All You Need To Know" preview column! It's one of the most fun pieces of writing I do every year, and if you're a lapsed fan, you'll want to check it out that last week before WrestleMania so you can catch up. (Why am I starting it now when only one match is set in stone? Because if I don't, I wait too long, and it turns out to be not so good when I have to rush it out the door. Hooray, foresight!)

Now I have big plans... I need to go clean my toilet. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you this weekend for SmackDown!

Episode Grade: C+

 
E-MAIL PYROFALKON

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