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OO RAW RECAP
Punk Sighting! Kind of.
May 28, 2013

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com

 

Before we begin here, let me just officially thank the Indiana Pacers for nothing.
 
I don't have much use for the NBA, unless my team has a chance of winning a championship. At that point, I will hop on the bandwagon and start to care. [This is in stark contract to my fandom of the college game, where I care about my teams(s), winning or losing, and I even watch games involving non-favorite teams.]

 

Anyway, as most of you know, I was born a Hoosier before my family moved to Dayton (and then, I chose tos tay here), so yeah: the only thing that gets me to give a damn about the NBA is the chance of an NBA Finals with the Pacers.
 
I didn't let the first round win lure me in. But I did watch 2 or 3 of the wins over the Knicks in the second round. And then: those first two games in Miami. The Pacers won one, and could easily have won the second. I believed. More to the point, I CARED.
 
Then Sunday night's game happened. Reality check; the Pacers aren't that good, and the Heat aren't that bad. I'm mean, they're BAD (in the sense of being a collection of terrible people amassing for a terrible cause in a terrible city), but they aren't bad at basketball.
 
This is going to be over in 5, isn't it? Like I said, thanks for nothing, Pacers.
 
But my appreciation for you, the Constant Reader, remains as strong as ever. Which is why I now cut the jibber-jabber, and cut to the chase....

 
Opening Theme/Videos/Etc., with an extra added Memorial Day video, honoring those veterans who died in service to our country. Remember: only the dead ones. We're only allowed to honor the ones who made it back alive on Veterans' Day. Unless you're the VA, in which case, you'll get around to honoring them about 583 days after Veterans' Day. BAZING~! [/depressingcurrenteventsjoke]
 
TWO SEGMENTS IN ONE!!!
 
And in the arena, we kick things off with John Cena hitting the ring, for a little promo time. Right off the bat, he acknowledges the WWE Title controversy, and how NObody is happy with how things ended at the Extreme Rules PPV (with a no decision).
 
The fans in Calgary voice their dissatisfaction with that whole mess by promptly firing up a "We Want Bret" chant. Cena tries to no sell it, at first, but then gives in, and says nice things about Bret and Calgary, which placates the crowd. Then, he returns to business...
 
Cena points out that Ryback's displeasure with how things ended drove him to make a knee-jerk challenge for an Ambulance Match. Cena doesn't think this goes nearly far enough when it comes to a PPV called "Payback" where he wants to get the sweetest and most satisfying of revenge. For that, we need to amp up the stakes.
 
Cena proposes the return of the "Three Stages of Hell" Match, a match so brutal, it's only been done three times in all of WWE History. But Cena's putting his own twist on the stipulationized best-of-3-falls match... the first fall will be a Lumberjack Match, the second a Tables Match, and the third will still be Ryback's Ambulance Match.
 
The logic and explanation is a little murky when Cena still goes with the Ambulance Match, after he just got done talking about how it wasn't an adequately violent match, but whatever... this still has the effect of adding more bells and whisltes to the Cena/Ryback match, which enhances their chances of having an entertaining Sports Entertainment Segment at the PPV.
 
After the challenge, Ryback's music hits, and he stands on the stage. In short, he accepts the challenge. In long, he does it with an almost Ultimate-Warrior-esque rant in which he refers to himself as the devil several times, and spins a yarn about a voyage to Hades. Presumably because this match type has "Hell" in the title. But still: absurd and surreal.
 
Ryback then storms out after a brief staredown, and just as Cena turns away to breathe a sigh of relief, suddenly Paul Heyman hits the stage to kick off a separate segment-within-a-segment.
 
You see, he has a new client, one who just beat Triple H last week, and now we won't be seeing HHH again for a long time. Enter Curtis Axel, with a snippet of his music.
 
Cena's all "so?", and Heyman explains that Cena's actions over the last month prove he's a tough. Stupid, but tough. The demanding to fight Ryback at the PPV, even with an injury. The upscaling of the stipulation for their PPV rematch. All of it points to Cena being a fighting champion.
 
Ergo, Paul has a new client who's hungry to prove himself, and Cena never turn down a challenge, so how's about we have us a match tonight? Cena vs. Axel.
 
Cena tries to talk sense to the kid ("Get away from Heyman as quickly as possible. You've got promise, kid, but he's full of more crap than the stables at the Stampede."). But Axel points out that Cena never gave him the time of day before, and only now that he's with Heyman are people -- including Cena -- telling him how much potential he has. Like they're scared of him, all of a sudden. So c'mon, Cena, wanna fight, or what?
 
Cena finally gives in. Cena vs. Axel will be our main event tonight.
 
Delayed Welcome: with all that business out of the way, the trio of King, Cole, and JBL welcome us to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and promise a jim dandy of a show tonight. Including the rubber match between Alberto del Rio and Big E. Langson, coming up next. Right after these...
 
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ALBERTO DEL RIO vs. BIG E. LANGSTON (w/ AJ)
 
If you're wondering why it's a rubber match, it's because Alberto beat Big E. last week on Wednesday Night's Main Event. It's OK, I don't think that really counts, either, so I won't hold it against you.
 
Also: the announcers don't act like it counts, since all they talk about in the early moments is how Big E beat the #1 Contender last Monday, and now, he MUST be thinking about how he should be in the hunt for Dolph Ziggler's World Title. Oy. From not even broaching the subject last week, to CONSTANTLY HAMMERING ON IT AS IF THE FANS ARE RETARDED. Hey, WE were the ones who were on it last week. We appreciate you mentioning it as a possibility, but honestly, the sheer bludgeoning brute force is a bit patronizing. Either that, or just the result of genuine incompetence.
 
Anyway, fast start for del Rio goes south after his big cat-always-lands-on-its-feet plancha; he keeps brawling outside the ring, and Langston just slams him onto the steel ring steps. Ultra-time-compressed heel beat down and comeback by Alberto. Alberto's rally is upsetting to AJ, who opts to get up on the apron and remove a turnbuckle cover, exposing the steel.
 
The ref shoos her away, but doesn't have time to re-affix the padding, as Alberto has just cinched in the cross armbreaker. But Langston will not tap out. Instead, he basically stands up with Alberto still cinched to his shoulder. Alberto realizes this is not the best place to be, and worms out as Langston tries to turn it into a slam...
 
And then, after a final bit of double-reversey, del Rio shoves Langston off, causing him to fly headfirst into the exposed steel turnbuckle. Big E. stumbles back, and del Rio rolls him up for the pinfall.
 
Your Winner: Alberto del Rio, via pinfall, in 4 minutes. To short to count for much of anything, wrestling-wise. But story-wise, it conveyed the point that HEY, DO YOU THINK BIG E. LANGSTON MIGHT WANT A SHOT AT DOLPH'S TITLE? HUH, DO YA? Especially given what happened....
 
After the Match: Big E. shook out the cobwebs quite quickly, and immediately started staring, meaningfully, at the exposed turnbuckle. And then looking back at AJ. Lather, rinse, repeat a few times. AJ finally realizes that Langston is blaming her for the loss, and shrieks a few denials at him. Big E. isn't in the mood to argue, however, and just shakes his head and walks away to tentative light cheers. So, 10 out of 10 for planting the seeds for a face turn; minus several million for doing it by going zero-to-anvil in the course of a week.
 
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Backstage: Kane and Bryan are discussing their tag title rematch later tonight... and Bryan's still all over sensative and paranoid about people thinking he's the weak link. Kane tries, and fails, to talk sense into him, and that's when Bret Hart pops in. Bryan immediately steps up and asks, "Mr. Hart, sir, you were always the small man in your tag team. Did anyone ever call YOU the weak link?" And Bret was all "of course not," and launched into a pep talk about how great Kane/Bryan were as a team, and how they need to get on the same page to beat the Shield. When Bret leaves, Bryan's all smilely and happy, and Kane's confused. "He just told you the same stuff I've been telling you." Bryan responds, "Yeah, but he's the best there is, best there was, and best there ever will be. And you? You're just Kane." Cue eyeball roll from Kane. Good stuff.
 
DEAN AMBROSE vs.
 
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DEAN AMBROSE vs. KOFI KINGSTON (US Title)
 
Before the ad break, Ambrose made his entrance, with Rollins and Reigns turning back once they got to the arena floor. After the break, Kofi gets a full entrance, as we're told this is a do-over of Friday's marred-by-interference match.
 
Super fast start by Kofi, and after all of 1 minute or so, Ambrose bails out of the ring to regroup. And just like that, it's time for more....
 
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Back, and Ambrose is in control with a bit of punchy-kicky type stuff for a few moments before Kofi starts to fire up. A good 2 or 3 minutes of back and forth near falls spills outside, with Kofi nominally in control. But as Kofi gets back up on the apron to get in the ring, Ambrose reaches up and trips him up. Kofi's face goes crashing into the steel ring steps. Ouch.
 
Ambrose surveys his handiwork, apparently impressing even himself with better-than-expected results on his innocent trip-up. He does the math, and decides to just toss Kofi back in the ring, and hit him with that Inverty STO Thingie. Done and done.
 
Your Winner: Dean Ambrose, via pinfall, in about 7-8 minutes. The last half was really quite good, but was only about 3-4 minutes. The first minute and 3 minute ad break added nothing. So again, not much in terms of wrestling value, but the message is received: even in a straight-up one-on-one match, Dean Ambrose can beat Kofi Kingston.
 
After the Match: Rollins and Reigns join Ambrose in the ring. But before they can celebrate, THROUGH HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE, IT'S TEAM FRIENDSHIP! Kane and Daniel Bryan sprint to the ring, and spark a 2-on-3 brawl. Somehow, they get the better of it, and the ref is able to roll Ambrose out of the ring. As soon as it's down to 2 on 2, he rings the bell, and it's on...
 
ROLLINS/REIGNS vs. KANE/DANIEL BRAYN (Tag Title Match)
 
Bryan continues rolling on Rollins (WORDPLAY~!), beating on him with ultra-intensity. He is not the weak link! It gets so bad that Kane tags himself in, and urges Bryan to just calm down for a bit, while he (Kane) takes care of business.
 
But at even the hint of the Shield regaining control, Bryan tags himself back in, and goes on another tear, including some brief Pier 4 action. During said chaos, he and Kane hit the old Hart Attack Clothesline, a nice homage to tonight's home town hero.
 
But then things settled down, with Bryan both in control and more under-control. The extended Bryan/Rollins sequence is as good as you'd expect, leading up to Rollins making a sort-of comeback, and attempting to superplex Bryan. But Bryan escapes and counters with a wicked belly-to-back superplex that just looked plain dangerous, all around. In fact, it does take the starch out of Bryan, too, and it takes him a few moments before he's finally able to make the....
 
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Seriously, WWE? One nanosecond before Bryan's about to make a convincing near fall,  you cut to ads? If this is some asshatted attempt to make us watch in real time and use "The App"? Or just a genuine mistake by an unskilled producer/director? I hope it's the latter, because if it's the former, you're doing it wrong. By you own numbers, you know only about 1% of RAW viewers do it with the App. You don't cater to the 1%.
 
Anyway, we're back, and now (predictably) Bryan is your face in peril, and there's no mention/replay of the near fall that was the match's dramatic highlight up to this point. The punishment is served up by Reigns for several minutes, before Bryan is deemed softened up enough for Rollins to tag back in.
 
Once he is, Rollins does a nice job of channeling his Inner Ambrose. By which I mean: what an asshole. Not only did he start in with the "Your the weak link!" taunting, everytime he hit a move. But he also stole Bryan's own moves and used them against him, including a surfboard that he accentuated by making the "YES!" gesture before cinching it in.
 
Reigns back in for more big-man/little-man beat down, except he gets cocky. He's a step slow making a charge at Bryan, and Bryan dodges. Reigns eats turnbuckle, then stumbles back around and eats a kick to the face. Both men down. Both men crawling towards their respective corners.
 
Both men make tags.
 
Kane goes to town on Rollins for a big heat sequence. Soon enough, Reigns tries to interfere, and Bryan intercepts him, and we have another Pier 4 Brawl on our hands. Bryan and Reigns spill outside, with Bryan in control. And that's where things get a little silly...
 
Kane, who is having his way with Rollins inside the ring, suddenly gets distracted by Bryan's antics, despite the fact that Bryan is winning, and he (Kane) could also have easily polished off Rollins in the meantime. So, for no sensible reason, Kane and Bryan are now bickering, while the Shield recovers.
 
Reigns tackles Bryan outside the ring, and when Kane turns around to check on Rollins, he gets a flying knee to the face. Rollins makes the cover, and that's that.
 
Your Winners: the Shield, via pinfall, in 20 minutes. Yet another really, really good match out of these guys, but that finish was kind of weak. I get that, story-wise, it's a finish that lets Bryan brag that Kane was the one who got pinned, and that's good. But somebody really lazied it up at the drawing board stage if this is the best they could come up with; there was just no reason for Kane to be distracted in that spot (unless you want Kane to look like a moron). How hard would it have been to craft a situation in which Bryan was doing something that might generate a DQ, thereby forcing Kane to deal with him? But instead, Kane gets distracted by the Standard Formulaic Powder Out that happens in 85% of competitve tag matches... oy. Still, excellent match up till that point.
 
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Recap: HHH/Axel. I do not recap recaps. I fast-forward recaps.
 
Update: Cole and the announcers speak in hushed tones about HHH's condition, but say it could be worse. They've just learned that HHH suffered no additional injury last Monday, and he'll be cleared to travel in time for next week's RAW. So much for Heyman's theory that HHH would be gone for a long, long time, eh?
 
MIZ vs. THE WWE APP
 
Miz hits the ring, not dressed to compete. That's because our next match is Wade Barrett vs. Fandango, and the fans get to vote on what role Miz plays: (1) Guest Commentator, (2) Guest Ring Announcer, or (3) Guest Referee. Start voting now, because that match is next. After these...
 
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Poll Results: 85% of voters went with Guest Ref. Who'da thunk it (besides everybody)?
 
Wade Barrett vs. Fandango (Non-Title Match)
 
Miz seems to be more annoyed at Fandango as we start, so I guess Wade's the nominal babyface? But then, about 45 seconds in, the tide changes, and Wade starts bitching at Miz. Then Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale on Wade. Then Fandango pins Wade. Fin.
 
Your Winner: Fandango, via pinfall, in 90 seconds flat. Whatever. I guess it advances the overall issue of these three guys feuding over the IC Title. But it does nothing to make fans care about the IC Title, which kinda sucks. Seriously, you ask the fans to care enough to vote on something, but then WWE doesn't care enough to deliver anything remotely compelling. Just 90 whole seconds and a seemingly random abrupt ending. Whee.
 
After the Match: Fandango dips Summer Rae, and Miz kicks him in the face. The way fall, Summer is on top of Fandango, so Miz counts to 3 for some reason, and acts like Summer's the winner of the match? Did I say the finish of the actual match was confoundingly random? I spoke too soon.
 
Backstage: Cena is getting ready for his match tonight, when in walks Shawn Michaels. HBK has officially joined the Beard Renassaince I posited last week. Wow, that's a doozy. Anyway, Michaels mirrors what Heyman said earlier, about Cena being more stupid than tough in the way he recklessly accepts challenges. Cena thinks about it and says "Hey, you're probably right. I remind myself of somebody. [pregnant pause] YOU!" Cena walks away, and HBK just stands there, sputtering, because he knows Cena's right. Pointless, but hey, if Michaels was there for Bret Hart Appreciation Night, no reason not to squeeze him in during the regular part of the show...
 
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BRODUS CLAY/TENSAI/KHALI (w/ Nattie and Hornswoggle) vs. 3MB
 

No need to recap a squash. But I will mention one spot, right at the end: when Brodus hit his Crossover Dribble Splash, the Funkadactyls celebrated with a chest bump. They are apparently aware of how much OO approves of the Ass Voltron during the ring entrance, and have figured out another excuse to touch naughty bits, in order to amuse OO. OO thanks the Funkadactyls, but suggests doing the chest bump in slo-mo.
 
Your Winners: the Dancing Fat Men and Khali, via pinfall, in 2-3 minutes. Next.
 
After the Match: not only is it Bret Appreciation Night, it's also Nattie Neidhart's birthday. So there's a quick celebration which, unfortunately, includes Khali trying to sing "Happy Birthday." On the upside, it was so terrible that there's no way in hell that WWE will have to pay royalties (yes, the real "Happy Birthday" song is copyrighted and costs money to use in movies/TV).
 
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"HEY, I DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING" THEATRE
 
Time for the Highlight Reel. The JeriTron 6000 is already in the ring, and is promptly joined by Chris Jericho and the Technicolor Dream Coat.
 
Jericho wastes no time introducing his guest, Paul Heyman. Heyman saunters out to no music, smiling and happy, seemingly unaware that no good can come of verbally sparring with Y2J.
 
And right off the bat: "Paul, you've been called a lot of things in your career, from genius to walrus." The crowd bites, and picks up the chant. ZING~! But once it peters out, Jericho continues in the backhanded compliment vein by pointing out that Heyman's always had a knack for spotting talent...
 
Heyman interrupts, and opines that it's not just spotting talent, it's DEVELOPING talent. He runs through the laundry list of guys who he managed on TV, or helped along in ECW, and at the end, includes Jericho on the list. "Yeah, OK, fair enough. You gave me a shot, Paul. Also, you still owe me money from ECW, junior!" HA!
 
Paul responds just as snappily, "Fine, I'll wave my fee for appearing on your little talk show, then. We're even." Then he proceeds to hype his talent development skills, specifically touting Curtis Axel.
 
Jericho lets this go for a moment or two before telling Paul to shut the hell up. Because Jericho didn't invite Paul on to talk about Axel. He invited Paul on to talk about another Heyman client.
 
"Oh? Fine. BROOOOOOOCCCCKKKK LESSSSSSSSSSSSNAR is another success story." NCAA this, WWE that, UFC the other... but just as Paul is really picking up steam in his rant, Jericho cuts him off again.
 
"No, your other other client." An actual little gasp from the crowd, as they (and I) are genuinely surprised at the implication. Then, a hearty "SEE EMM PUNK" chant fires up, and Heyman seems to have just the slightest bit of concern on his face.
 
Jericho says he wants to know what's up with Punk. It's been 2 months since we've seen him, and his last appearance was -- shall we say -- a bit ominous. In fact, Jericho has the monkeys in the truck play Punk's bittersweet semi-farewell moment, in case you forgot.
 
Jericho proposes that Heyman was just as surprised by Punk's departure as everybody else was. And further, Jericho wonders if Punk's still A Paul Heyman Guy at all.
 
Heyman won't let his reputation be besmirched, so he says OF COURSE Punk's still a Heyman client, and furthermore, they speak daily, and they'd already been planning on making a joint announcement in the next week or so about Punk's return.
 
Jericho: "Really?"
 
Heyman assures us that, yes, this is totally the truth. Because when you're the best in the world, the longest reigning WWE Champ in 25 years, you just can't wait to get back in the ring to prove it.
 
Jericho takes issue with the "best in the world" thing. Punk lost his WWE Title, then he lost at WrestleMania. Then, he took his ball and went home. Punk no longer has any right calling himself "best in the world."
 
Heyman angrily disputes this, and Jericho eggs him on by dragging out his own old slogan: he's "the best in the world at what I do." This only makes Heyman angrier, so Jericho proposes a solution: Punk's just sitting around his apartment in Chicago, and the next PPV is in Chicago, so why doesn't Punk come on down and face me, and we'll see who's the best in the world right now?
 
Heyman suddenly tightens up, as if he's probably bluffing about this whole "Punk and I talk all the time" thing. But he won't back down: he accepts on behalf of Punk, and promises that the match will take place at Payback.  He and Jericho shake on it, and Jericho pulls him in close to say "Pass along a message for me. Tell Punk he'll never ever be the same again." All intense and serious-like, without the funny pronounciation.
 
Paul looks suitably intimidated as he walks away. Play Jericho's music, as he celebrates the making of a potentially show-stealing match.
 
Or is it? There's at least the possibility that this is part of an over-arching story in which Punk no-shows or rejects the match on the grounds that he doesn't appreciate Paul speaking for him. But then again, WWE did suddenly change gears to re-legitimize Jericho (the win over Fandango, and then another over Big Show) after it seemed like his going-away good deed would be putting Fandango over. Now, it seems his parting gift will be something more substantial... actually going through with the match against Punk fits that bill. (Then again, so would putting over Axel, in a bait and switch. So again: I'm on my guard against a swerve, here.)
 
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Earlier Tonight: Nattie was enjoying a little birthday fun backstage, with Khali and Hornswoggle and Kaitlyn. Then the Bellas showed up and ruined it by pretending to want a look at the cake, only to shove it in Hornswoggle's face. CATTY~!
 
KAITLYN/NATALYA vs. THE BELLA TWINS
 
Dear Kaitlyn, bring back the tight pants. Pantyhose are for undersexed middle aged housewives and vintage porn lovers. Love, me.
 
Dear readers who are interested in this match, sorry. Love, me. But honestly, there wasn't much here. Less than 2 minutes, no real flow, then a final spot where Nattie got a hot tag, and it broke down into a 4 person brawl, and in the confusion, Kaitlyn went for a spear, but whichever Bella it was dodged, and Kaitlyn hit Nattie. Kaitlyn immediately was remorseful, meaning the other Bella easily threw her out of the ring, and the original Bella made the pinfall on Nattie.
 
Your Winners: the Bellas, via pinfall, in about 2 minutes. Not bad. Just not enough to sink your teeth into. I don't think anything will come of Kaitlyn's misplaced spear. This was probably more to set up "real life" drama for that stupid E! Network divas reality show (the Bellas and Nattie are on the cast, along with the Funkadactyls). Dum da dum dum dum.
 
After the Match: the Bellas seranaded Nattie with "Happy Birthday," replacing her name with "Loser." So I guess WWE has to pay royalties, afterall.
 
Backstage: Curtis Axel is getting ready for his match, and in walks Bret Hart for his second cameo of the night. It's cordial to start, as both men agree that Mr. Perfect was awesome. But then, when Bret offers the same advice that Cena did ("Get away from Heyman!"), things deteriorate, and Axel insults Hart while lauding Heyman as the only man who truly believes in him (Axel).
 
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Coming Soon: a vignette for the Wyatt Family airs. Very good stuff, introducing Bray Wyatt (the former Husky Harris) and his awesome latter-day Waylon Mercy gimmick, as well as his two newphews or cousins or other quasi-family members, who are both 6'6" with magnificent beards. BEARD RENAISSANCE~! (The one now known as Luke Harper is even quite good; the other guy is kind of a stiff, so far, but is improving slowly.) All of it is set to their FCW entrance theme, which is a pitch-perfect ditty that sounds like what would happen if CCR had sex with Darth Vader and had a kid. Expect good things from Bray and the boys.
 
SHEAMUS/RANDY ORTON vs. THE RHODES SCHOLARS
 
They used the Sheamus/Sandow incident from Friday to set up this tag match. So I guess there's no real career-elevating one-on-one feud in the works for Sandow... just a cheap excuse to give Sheamus and Orton a tag win, and in the process, elevate them to tag title contenders against the Shield. Or that's my new guess, anyway.
 
Speaking of "anyway": anyway, this was one of those 5 minutes of stuff in a 15 minute bag matches. Not bad, or anything. But just nothing to hook you or make you care. After a bit, I just turned up the sound, and went out into the kitchen to do some quick produce butchering (turning a watermelon into tasty bite-sized chunks) while listening to the match on "radio." You want to know how many times I was motivated to run back in to watch the TV?
 
Zero. Well, unless you count the one time I went back in to fast-forward a set of....
 
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Back, and I still have a minute or two of kitchen work before I head back in to watch the rest of the match. I get to see the final moments of Sheamus being the face in peril, and then the hot tag to Orton.
 
Big rally for Orton, then some more back and forth type stuff with near falls going each way. Pace definitely picked up here. In the end, Sheamus asks to be tagged in, since he wants a piece of Sandow. Rhodes obliges. Some tepid Pier 4 action leads to Orton taking out Rhodes, and Sheamus hitting the Brogue Kick on Sandow. And I guess that's your closure for Friday?
 
Your Winners: Sheamus and Randy Orton, via pinfall, in about 15 minutes. First 10 minutes or so was pure drudgery. Last 5 or so were OK. And again, now I'm convinced that the play here wasn't to do anything with Sheamus/Sandow, but just to create a pretext for this match so that Sheamus/Orton's issue with the Shield can be pursued. On the upside, the watermelon was a delicious and refreshing snack as I enjoyed the rest of the show. I loves me the watermelon.
 
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Hype: the main event on Friday's SmackDown is Randy Orton vs. Dean Ambrose. More fuel for the Orton/Sheamus vs. Shield fire.
 
Hype: Payback is happening in three weeks. They talk about the matches so far. I will not. It's their job to sell PPVs, not mine.
 
JOHN CENA vs. CURTIS AXEL (w/ Paul Heyman)
 
Still haven't fixed the issues I have with Axel's theme music...
 
Strong start for Cena, who outpowers Axel's attempts at grapplingsmanship. So after all of 90 seconds, Axel bails out to conference with Paul, and we break for....
 
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Back, and the brawl is outside the ring, and Axel is in control. As a follow up to last week's non-finish, Heyman repeatedly coaches Axel to get back in the ring and take a count-out, because the recrod book will read he beat HHH and Cena on back-to-back RAWs, which is something nobody's done before (they probably have, but let's pretend). But Cena's not going down that easy.
 
So Axel has to augment that with an in-ring beatdown, which settles in on a chinlock. Also: non-stop extreme close-ups for about 2 minutes, with a few glimpses of every one in the audience turning away from the ring. Thanks to a few emails, I can report there was a right in the crowd, just off to the side of the entrance ramp, which distracted fans and caused the director to choose angles that didn't show the crowd. Whether or not the lengthy chinlock was specifically to let the distraction pass, or was preplanned, I will not venture a guess.
 
Once that unpleasantness was over, Cena rallied, and rattled off the wacky tackle, wacky slam, and Five Knuckle Shuffle. But when he went for the FU, Axel escaped, and eventually turned it into a PerfectPlex. YES~! Sadly, it only gets a two count.
 
But Axel can taste the victory (and Heyman's egging him on), and goes to the top. Cena catches him, and slams him. Goes for the FU again...
 
And that's when we hear sirens, and an ambulance drives into the arena and parks off to the side of the stage. Cena just drops Axel, and starts heading up the aisle, so as not to be ambushed by Ryback again.... meantime, the refa ctuall DOES count this week. And he gets to 10.
 
Your Winner: Curtis Axel, via countout, in about 12 minutes. Nothing remotely special, but a good showing by Junior Hennig; he wasn't completely outclassed by Cena, and when he hit the PerfectPlex, the fans were willing to believe the match was over. That's a very important guage of crediblity and gravitas. And this time, they handled the non-finish the right way, too.
 
After the Match: Cena continued stalking the ambulance, expecting Ryback to be hiding inside, like he did last week. But nope, after Cena opens the back doors, and peeks inside, there's no Ryback.
 
That's because Ryback just came out from backstage, and is standing behind Cena. Ryback strikes, and Cena gets thrown into the ambulance a few times. Ryback wants to tackle Cena through the lightwall again, but Cena is able to stumble out of harm's way. So Ryback just shoves him off the stage, for good measure, and walks away. Cena is slumped down on the concrete floor, but they do manage to sneak a few camera shots of Axel celebrating in the ring, before fading to black on Cena's slow recovery.
 
And so ends the show. Sort of. There was still Bret Hart to deal with.
 
I actually fired up the WWE App to watch Bret Hart Appreciation Night, but there's nothing there really worth recapping. Jericho did have a nice story, and I admit I busted out laughing when Bret made an a joke about Pat Patterson's sexual preferances. Not that there's anything wrong with them! (Actually, everybody involved seemed to be laughing at it, so I don't feel so guilty.) But everything else was sort of a do-over of other Bret-heavy moments of the past 3 years, just done in his hometown, instead.
 
Good stuff, but if Bret's not your favorite wrestler, also not hugely momentous.
 
Tag title match is the gold star winner for today. The surprising twist of Jericho/Punk is a close second. Main event was quite solid, with the ending handled light years better than last week. Nothing outright sucked, just a bland Orton match and a couple other matches that were unobjectionable, but could have been longer if they were meant to impress.
 
OK, the Miz/Wade/Fandagno thing kinda sucked. But it was also the shortest match of the night. On the whole, I think that makes for a decent night of rasslin'. Right there in the meaty part of the curve: call it a C, if I'm to channel my Inner Pyro.


  
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E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.


 

 


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