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OO RAW RECAP
Large Angry Men (or, "Don't Tickle the Dragon")
June 18, 2013

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com

 

The media is falling all over themselves, trying to decide if Edward Snowden is a Hero, or a Traitor. In the 24/7 news cycle, there can be no in between! There are only two extremes, and an endless supply of air time in which to argue about which one is right!
 
I am, of course, being sarcastic. The either/or mindset is pretty retarded, and even an intellect as scintilating as mine hasn't full hashed out all the shades of gray involved to arrive at a final, well-tempered opinion.

 

 
That said, based on what I've seen the past week, I would propose that the dumbasses of cable "news" at least entertain a third pigeonhole label for Snowden. Because I don't think he's a hero or a patriot. But he very well might be Just a Guy Doing Whatever It Takes to Ditch His Girlfriend.
 
I mean, yeah, she's a stripper and really hot. But on the other, man alive, doesn't she seem like a giant load, or what? Yikes. If going on the lam to Hong Kong is what it takes, I'd consider it.
 
But that's not why you called. You're here to find out what happened on RAW. Or, you know what happened, but you want to hear me tell the story my way. Either way, here we go...

 
Opening ADD Vignette, and we're live in Grand Rapids, MI, where Ricardo Rodriguez is already standing out on the stage, which means it's time for...
 
YEP, THAT WAS OFFICIALLY A HEEL TURN
 
Any doubts that Alberto del Rio's actions last night at Payback were designed to recast him as a heel are wiped away, as the crowd boos him (and Ricardo) vociferously.
 
Also, he's suddenly wearing a scarf again. HEEL~! I can only assume this was a short-notice move, as they didn't give him back his fancy car. Can I also request a return to his original theme song mix?
 
Once in the ring, Alberto mocks all the fans for wasting their money on "Man of Steel" this weekend, when the real Superman is right here. He has further grievences with the fans, too, including how they disrespected his herritage by chanting "USA USA USA" for him in his matches agaisnt Jack Swagger. But mostly, he's upset with them, because when he was injured, and Dolph Ziggler came down to cash in MitB against him, the fans cheered. They cheered for a coward and a cheater.
 
So really, who are they to boo him for having a game plan and executing it against Ziggler? In Alberto's mind, he spent the last 5 months fighting for the fans, and it got him nowhere. For just one night, he fought for himself, and suddenly they hate him. But Alberto doesn't care, because now he's got the World Heavyweight Title, and that means he's the best.
 
Wait, did somebody say "best?" Because last night, two men memorably fought over who deserved that very designation... and CM Punk won the rights to it. So sure enough, here comes Punk (with Heyman), to stake his claim.
 
Punk gets HUGE cheers, even though he's not in his hometown, and yep, he pretty much opens by saying "Hey, spanky, Best in the World over here." Alberto smugly holds up the belt, in the international sign for "Scoreboard," but Punk quickly counters by pointing out, "Yeah, nice. But remember the last time you had one of those, and you had to defend it against me? That was Survivor Series 2011, and I  beat you to start a 434 day reign as champion that is unequalled in the past 25 years."
 
A little more back and forth, and as you might expect, Punk issues a challenge, wanting to relive November 2011... oddly, Heyman chimes in before Alberto can respond, and says something along the lines of, "Of course, Mr. del Rio, my clients don't fight for free, so..." But Punk cuts him off and gives a little glare. Heyman tries to defend his plan to push for the match at the next PPV by pointing out Punk's lingering injuries from the night before, and how the World Title wouldn't even be on the line, and stuff, but Punk doesn't care. He just wants to teach Alberto who's really the best, and he wants to do it tonight.
 
And that's when Vickie Guerrero (w/ Brad Maddox) pops out on stage, and says Payback was great, but tonight, she's dedicated to making RAW better. So for starters, she thinks we ought to have ourselves a main event of CM PUnk vs. Alberto del Rio. Crowd approves. I approve. Punk approves. Alberto even approves. But Paul Heyman does not approve, and keeps bickering with Punk as they leave the ring to walk up the ramp.
 
Delayed Welcome: Cole and the Gang welcome us to the show, and hype our just-announced main event, along with a few other things that are scheduled. That includes Wade Barrett getting his IC Title rematch against Curtis Axel, which is coming up NEXT! After these....
 
[ads]
 
Backstage: Punk and Heyman are still talking, and Heyman's making his case: he's just looking out for Punk's best interests, even if Punk won't do so for himself. Punk says he appreciates it, and he'll always be a Paul Heyman guy, but he doesn't view himself as a "client" of Heyman's. They are friends and kindred spirits and all, but Punk says he's dead-set on re-establishing himself as the Best in the World, and the only way he'll feel good about it is if he does it on his own. So from now on, Punk tells Paul his ringside services are no longer needed. Punk leaves, and Heyman's gives us "stunned."
 
CURTIS AXEL vs. WADE BARRETT (IC Title Match)
 
The match never happens. Barrett gets his entrance and introduction, but then, just as Lilian is about to introduce the champ, Vickie interrupts for the second time in as many segments.
 
From the top of the stage, she declares that Wade will have to wait to get his rematch, because her plan to make RAW super-awesome includes a special surprise... and Wade will face that surprise right now.
 
It's Christian! Alright alright alright...
 
CHRISTIAN vs. WADE BARRETT
 
It's about damned time they get Captain Charisma back on TV; he's only been ready since February. But if they were just waiting for a good spot for him, I'll give credit where it's due: this is a good spot, right in the IC Title mix.
 
No real narrative flow to the match, unless you count the announcers blaming Wade's ineffectiveness on Vickie's swerve (he had gameplanned for Axel, not Christian). Just Christian rattling off a bunch of his signature moves (including a crazy-ass top turnbuckle to the floor dive where he also cleared the ringpost), and a few angry/frustrated outbursts from Barrett mixed in.
 
I think they flubbed the final spot (Christian was clearly intending to do his "dodge-a-charge-turn-it-into-a-flippy-double-kick" thing in the corner, but Barrett was out of position), but covered very smoothly, and ended things with the Killswitch.
 
Your Winner: Christian, via pinfall, in about 2 and a half minutes. Not much here, wrestling-wise, but the entertainment and story value is off the charts. Not only is Christian back, but he's back in a spot where he could be due some IC Title matches with Axel.
 
Vignette: the Wyatts. They're still coming.
 
[ads]
 
SHEAMUS vs. THE RHODES SCHOLARS (Handicap Match)
 
Apparently, the handicap stipulation was a last second thing, just announced during the commercial break by Vickie. What the planned match was is unknown (or, at least, unannounced). Furthermore, this is an old school Handicap Match, where both guys are in the ring at the same time. No tagging.
 
As you would expect, two guys get the better of one guy. JBL harps on it, clearly painting Sheamus as the underdog, because "two good fighters will always beat one great fighter." I rolled my eyes, because I thought I knew what was gonna happen, and it'd make JBL out to be a liar.
 
About 2 minutes of heel beatdown culminated in Rhodes using Sheamus as a punching bag, while Sandow held his arms behind him. And then, BAM, Sheamus escaped, and did a full-on Hulk Up of Hoganian Proportions. Instead of the modern day standard of landing one big move to break the heel's momentum, and then restarting things from an equal footing (often after a double count by the ref), Sheamus just broke free and instantly went on a tear, as if getting his ass kicked had actually re-energized him, somehow, and made him stronger.
 
I don't know whether to be amused or annoyed by this, but I also am not given a whole lot of time to decide. Sheamus tosses Sandow, and focuses his attack on Rhodes. White Noise, Ten of Clubs, and then he starts lining up the Brogue Kick...
 
But as soon as Sheamus takes his first running steps towards Rhodes, Sheamus reaches up from the mat and rolls him up. One. Two. Three? YES, THREE!!!
 
Your Winner: The Rhodes Scholars, via pinfall, in about 3 minutes. So JBL is proven right. And in my living room, I actually jumped out of my chair in surprise (and glee). Sandow pins Sheamus! Who cares how cheaply? OO's Onscreen Avatar of Intellectual Superiority is a winner!
 
After the Match: Sandow left the ring, looking quite proud of himself. He glared back at the ring, with a smug look on his face, which apparently upset Sheamus, because Sheamus then turned around and delivered the Brogue Kick to Rhodes, anyway. At no point did Sandow shown even a shred of desire to go help his best friend. Keep this in mind in coming weeks.
 
Vignette: Rob Van Dam is returning at Money in the Bank. Is it just me, or did it seem like 80% of the clips in themontage were from ECW? REAL ECW, pre-2001. That doesn't seem fair. The vast majority of fans are gonna be in for a bit of a surprise, since this isn't the same RVD they last saw in 2007... why make it worse by reminding us of what RVD was like in 1997?
 
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Backstage: Vickie and Brad are congratulating themselves on a great night so far, when Triple H walks in. He manages to poo-poo the job they've done, assigning credit elsewhere (including taking credit for RVD all by himself), before changing topics to the Shield. He says the Shield have been running around like they own the place for the last 6 months, and he's had enough. [Hey, HHH fielding a superteam against the Shield is only something I've been advocating since February!] But in this case, he's not ready to do anything about it, so he (in a threatening tone) says Vickie and Brad had better keep the Shield on a short leash, and punish them if they act up again. Otherwise, it'll be a mark against them the next time there's a performance review.
 
Elsewhere Backsstage: Daniel Bryan is getting ready for a match against Randy Orton, and Kane walks in. Bryan immediately goes defensive, thinking Kane's gonna mock him for not winning the tag titles at Payback. But Kane cools him down by pointing out that Bryan's not the only one who lost. So did Kane. So maybe they should just admit that they're not more successful apart, and go back to being a team? Bryan immediately shoots this down, saying as long as he's a part of a team, ANY team, people will think of him as a weak link. The only way to disprove them is to go it alone. And so that's what he's doing, and his plan is to win the WWE Title. Kane says he understands, and hey, come to think of it, he'd like to hold the WWE Title again, too. "So, does that mean we're done?" "Yeah, I think so." Awkward pause. Then Kane tries to exit gracefully by saying "Good luck tonight against Orton." And of course, this just sets Bryan off: "Luck? LUCK?!? What, you don't think I can beat him? I'm the weak link?"... so Kane just sighs and leaves, as Bryan seethes.
 
The little skit was kind of hidden away and kept short, but I think this serves as a nice final break-up of Team Friendship, and also indicates that Bryan and Kane (and probably Orton, too) will be the backbone of the WWE Title MitB Match. I'll take it! [Sheamus and Big Show are leading candidates to anchor the SD one.]
 
Flash Poll: You get to decide the stipulation for the Bryan/Orton match... choices are No DQ, No Count Out, and 2 of 3 Falls. I'd dig option 3, but I figure No DQ wins. Partly because today's fans are trained to love foriegn objects, and partly because if WWE's rigging these votes, they don't want a 25 minute match taking up valuable TV time.
 
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Poll Results: Whadya know? No Disqualification wins comfortably over 2 of 3 falls. Who the hell are the 10% of dipshits who actually voted for No Countout?
 
DANIEL BRYAN vs. RANDY ORTON (No Disqualification Match)
 
Out of the gate, Bryan confounded Orton with speed and mat wrestling. All Orton had was stompy-punchy, which Bryan largely managed to avoid. Bryan also targets Orton's legs, starting with a modification to the Surfboard (instead of hoisting Orton up, he just stomped Orton's knees into the mat from the set-up position), moving on to a half-crab, and finally just peppering in a ton of stiff kicks to the thighs.
 
But backed into a corner, Orton fought out with a rake of the eyes and a headbutt, regaining control, and doing so in a semi-heelish fashion. Outside of a nice slingshot suplex, Orton's offense is pretty methodical (yes, there were chinlocks). And this is why I'd rather keep Orton a face, if possible; he actually does stuff when wrestling as a babyface, but has had very few matches rise above "mediocre" when wrestling as a heel...
 
But I digress. Orton's patience-trying heel offense is kept short, as Bryan stages a rally. He runs through a bunch of his hits, including a couple divebomber dropkicks, and then ducks a charge, which sends Orton flying out of the ring. Bryan lines it up, and comes running with a between the ropes suicide dive, but Orton moves, and Bryan rams into the ring barricade. Ouch.
 
The replay makes it look even ouchier, and the announcers wonder if Bryan will be able to recover. Orton isn't gonna give him a chance: he goes under the ring, and comes up with a kendo stick. A few shots to Bryan's ribs do more damage, and then Orton tosses him back into the ring, and goes for a cover. Bryan kicks out at 2, but he's in bad shape. How long will he be able to keep up? We'll find out after these...
 
[ads]
 
Back, and Orton is still in control, and the announcers walk us through another 2 replays of Bryan's crash-and-burn, suggesting that Bryan was seriously injured. But for now, he's still fighting.
 
In fact, when Orton tries to set him up for a superplex, Bryan fights back, shoves Orton off the ropes, and hits a missile dropkick. Problem: as soon as Bryan lands, he's motionless for the next 45 seconds or so. The ref checks and briefly flashes the dreaded "X" signal. Uh oh.
 
Orton just stays down, and eventually Bryan manages to awkwardly get to his feet (kind of rolling back and forth, like a upside down turtle, trying to right itself). Orton gets to his knees, and Bryan unloads with some sloppy YES! kicks (he seems to be unable or unwilling to move his neck/shoulders/arms).
 
Bryan just doesn't seem himself, and when Orton catches him with a blatant kick to the scrotum, Bryan crumbles in a heap outside the ring, and the ref is immediately joined by a trainer in checking on him. Coming after the "X" and with Bryan's immobility issues, you have to assume they aren't checking on him for sore balls.
 
Bryan tries to wave them off and resume the match, but Orton almost immediately chucks him, upper back first, into the barricade. This time, the trainer just immediately gives the "wave it off" signal, and the ref calls for the bell.
 
Your Winner: Randy Orton, via Ref Stoppage, in 15 minutes. There were enough elements woven in to make this seem like a legit injury situation, though my instinct tell me otherwise. The announcers' foreshadowing (over-selling Bryan's admittedly-convincing crash and burn before the real symptoms kicked in after the missile dropkick) is my main piece of evidence there. But even if I'm right, that doesn't take away from the fact that Bryan executed the plan so well as to make us consider believing. That's strong juju. Match effectively added another layer to Bryan's underdoggery, while nudging Orton strongly towards heeldom.
 
After the Match: Orton shook Bryan's hand, but Bryan wasn't particularly interested in being friends with the guy who just kicked him in the balls. So Bryan insisted on walking away from the ring, groggy, but under his own power.
 
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VINCE ISN'T THE ONLY McMAHON SHOEHORNING HIMSELF BACK ONTO TV THEATRE
 
AJ Lee hits the ring (with Big E.), for what is ostensibly her Victory Celebration. And it starts off well enough, with general bragging and even a little shout-out to her Zigglymuffin (who, she says, is at home because he's not medically cleared).
 
Then things get a bit more specific, addressing her win over Kaitlyn last night... and AJ admits that yeah, she played mind games. She exploited her former best friend's weaknesses. She took advantage of the situation. But no matter what you people think, this doesn't make her a bad person.
 
It makes her strong, smart, and driven. In fact, it just might make her unbeatable. She knows Kaitlyn doesn't have what it takes. She knows there's not a woman in the dressing room who has what it takes. She even knows there's not a woman out there in the audience that has what it takes. Nobody is as strong, smart, and driven as AJ.
 
And that's when Stephanie McMahon shows up. Wha?
 
Steph -- towering over AJ, it should be noted -- tries to get in the first word, but fails, as AJ welcomes Steph to her (AJ's) ring, and says she can't wait to get a "congratulations" from Steph. Steph is taken aback, but does give AJ a half-hearted "congrats" before getting to her point.
 
That point: AJ needs to stop being a Mean Girl. You see, women like Steph have worked too long and too hard for gender equality and to erase stereotypes, and here's AJ being all conniving, back-stabby, and bitchy. Women should be building each other up, not tearing each other down. AJ's behavior over the past couple weeks is abhorrent to Steph, and she wants AJ to actual be strong and smart, and not resort to such lazy, unbecoming antics.
 
AJ defends herself and her scheme, saying it was utterly brilliant and months in the making. Oh, as as for that "working long and hard" for gender equality goes? AJ says "If I want to achieve what you've achieved, maybe I need to stop dating wrestlers and just marry one." ZING~!
 
Steph tries to sell it like she's heard that one a million times (she probably has), and that it's just another case of AJ recycling tired material. AJ threatens to unleash the crazy, if Steph's dying to see fresh material. But Steph counters by saying "Have you seen my family? Nobody does crazy like a McMahon." AJ is not impressed, but Steph finishes up with a final threat, "I mean it. Start acting like a champion. Or I'll see to it personally that you're not the champion much longer." Huh. So Steph's all done making babies and is in super hot shape (she's even doing magazine shoots); is she looking for another excuse to show off in spandex? Like getting back in the ring?
 
Questions for another place and time, because at that moment, Kaitlyn's music hit, and she came out flanked by the entire diva roster. It seems no one likes AJ. Kaitlyn has a mic, and heads to the ring by herself, talking about how, Fine, she admits it, AJ screwed with her head, took her title, and basically broke her. But now, she said in an angry voice, it's AJ's turn to get broken. And she doesn't mean emotionally.
 
Kaitlyn gets in the ring and bum rushes AJ. Takedown, rains down punches. And more punches. And more punches. There's a very brief flicker of black screen (even amid all the intense brawling, I was still partially distracted by Kaitlyn's bouncing boobilies, and can't help but wonder if one didn't pop out?). Then more punches. And finally, Big E. reaches in and is able to yank AJ out of the ring, and carry her away.
 
Kaitlyn still ain't quite right, but you can tell she found the experience cathartic.
 
[ads]
 
DEAN AMBROSE vs. KANE (US Title Match)
 
Kane gets about 60 seconds of steady offense, then Rollins and Reigns interfere. That's all, folks.
 
Your Winner: Kane, via DQ, in one minute flat. Nothing to see here, but one assumes this is an act for which the Shield must be punished, so it has storyline value that way.
 
Backstage: Mark Henry is here, after a weekend where he tweeted several ominous messages about retirement. And now, he's teary eyed and sharing hugs with friends like the Prime Time Players and others. Looks like this might be the real deal...
 
[ads]
 
Backstage: the Shield are walking and congratulating themselves, when they are confronted by Vickie (w/ Brad). She's furious with them, and says they're going to be punished. Ambrose is all "What? You gonna spank us?" and Reigns is all "We call the shots around her, you don't scare us." Vickie's about to unleash some sort of sanction on them when Vince McMahon suddenly arrives, and starts gushing about how much he loves the Shield. They remind him of himself: take charge kinds of guys. Vickie says she was just about to punish them for ruining the previous match, and Vince says "No, no. That's fine. I never liked that masked freak, anyway." Vickie's officially confused. HHH hatey the Shield, Vince likey the Shield. What's a girl to do?
 
Earlier Tonight: Daniel Bryan got hurt. Cole informs us that the injury was to the neck and upper back, and that it could be just a simple stinger, or possibly more serious nerve damage.
 
Vignette: Wyatts. Still coming.
 
[ads]
 
American on Purpose: Zeb Colter hits the stage, and says that he and Jack Swagger get a bum rap for being proud Americans. But after much soul-seraching, they've decided to prove they they are not "prejudicial" people. They've opened their arms to a man who was not born an American, but who desires to be one, and is goingabout it the "right" way. Ladies and gentleman, Zeb's newest hand... Antonio Cesaro.
 
WILLIAM REGAL vs. ANTONIO CESARO (w/ Zeb Colter)
 
Wow, they've dusted off Regal. I wish they'd do that more often. In this case, they dusted him off, because Cesaro is one of those guys who didn't quite get the memo that wrestling is fake. He'll throw a stiff punch, and not get offended if you throw one back. Regal can dig that.

So match is basically a time-compressed slobberknocker that ends with Regal doing the clear job. Afterwards, Zeb produced a "Don't Tread on Me" flag, and Cesaro draped it over Regal's body, and gave a "We the People" salute.
 
Your Winner: Antonio Cesaro, via pinfall, in 4 minutes. Hard-hitting, but the outcome was never in question, so the drama was lacking. Effective, though, as a Cesaro "reboot," despite the Cole vs. JBL bickering contest over whether or not Zeb is a hypocrite for aligning with a foreigner.
 
[ads]
 
SORRY 'BOUT YER DAMNED LUCK, CENA
 
Cena's music fires up, and out comes the man, looking all shiny and happy after his PPV win last night. Even as the music stops, and a 50/50 mix of cheers/boos engulfs him, Cena's good mood will not be broken. He says he loves "this" (the mixed reaction), and thanks both the haters and the Cenation for caring enough to speak their minds.
 
But tonight, he doesn't want to dwell on the negativity. He wants to talk to the true believers out there, and he wants to thank them. Cena says he had the worst year of his life in 2012, both professionally and personally, and they stuck with him. And now, 2013 is shaping up to be one of the best years in his life. The Rumble. WrestleMania. And now, smiting Ryback. Just because things are going so well, he doesn't want his fans to think he takes them for granted.
 
So, sounding more confident than he has in a while, he swears he's going to keep the momentum going. He's going to fight for his fans, and he's not going to let them down, no matter what. He may not be the champ forever, but he intends to be the champ for a really long time, and make whoever takes the title from him earn it.
 
And it's at this conspicuous moment that Mark Henry's music hits, and he starts heading to the ring (in a crazy salmon colored sports coat, no less). Given Cena's last words, this might seem like the spot for someone wanting to issue a challenge, but Henry is carrying his wrestling boots, and sets them down at the foot of the ramp, as if offering a final sacrifice.
 
Then he gets in the ring, and gently puts Cena at ease, and shakes his hand, saying there's nothing to worry about, because the rumors are true, and Cena's got nothing to fear from Henry. Cena tries to leave, but Henry asks him to stay.
 
Henry says he wants Cena to be here for this moment, and calls back to 2002 when he (Henry) was already a veteran, and Cena debuted. Henry says even then, they knew the kid had potential, and Cena blew those expectations out of the water, and so Henry totally respects Cena and thinks he deserves every title he's ever won.
 
Henry, self-depricatingly, says he's had a pretty good career, too, but nothing like John's. World's Strongest Man, World Champ, ECW Champ... but, he notes wistfully, never the WWE Champ. Oh well. Wasn't meant to be. No biggie. The tears start streaming down Henry's face as he says it didn't happen for him, and it won't, because he's here tonight to officially retire.
 
The crowd -- which has already been peppering him with "HEN REE" and "SEX SHUL CHOCK LAT" chants -- does not want to hear this, and fires up a "One More Match" chant. Henry appreciates it, and has a few more tears to prove it. Cena, sensing an opening, hops in the ring, and hands Henry the WWE Title. Mark half-heartedly poses with it as the fans morph into another "HEN REE" chant.
 
Mark then gives the belt back to Cena, saying "I know you have to earn this, so here, take it back." And then he starts wrapping it up, even more tears streaming now, with talk of how it's been a long career of spending 200 nights a year on the road, so at least he's looking forward to spending more time with his wife. [Fan: "Mae Young?" Mark: "No, not Mae Young, you dummy."] And also his kids. His final line, "Baby, I'm coming home."
 
They play Henry's music, and Cena hops in the ring to raise Henry's arm and shake his hand.
 
Problem: as soon as Cena goes for the handshake, Henry yanks him in and nails him with a World's Strongest Slam!
 
WHOA~! The crowd goes apeshit! At least, the adult portion did, and they drowned out any boos from the kiddies.
 
Henry starts tearing off his jacket and dress shirt, saying Cena's such a fool, cuz Henry's got PLENTY left in the tank, and he can't believe everybody fell for his ruse. Hey, Mark: you were crying real tears, you genius thespian, OF COURSE we believed you. Because you are awesome.
 
Anyway, Henry grabs the WWE belt, and this time, he poses with it whole-heartedly before tossing it down onto Cena's carcass and leaving with a bellowing "That's what I do!" You go, big man.
 
Awesome segment, with Henry showing off range that is off the charts. From real tears to instilling fear, in one simple flip of a switch. Amazing performance, and a fun swerve that should result in a nice little mini-run for Cena vs. Henry. Beats another Cena/Ryback match, that's for sure.
 
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Backstage: Mark Henry is strutting down the hall, when Renee Young steps up to ask him what was up with pretending to retire. Mark mocks Cena and anybody else who believed his act, and says his entire focus is on winning the one title that's eluded him: the WWE Title. And this was the quickest way he could think of of getting Cena's attention. And now that he's got it, he's issuing the challenge. Oh, and by the way: "The reason I'm carrying two boots is because I'm gonna leave one of them up Cena's rear end." Which doesn't really make sense, but is sufficiently intimidating as far as nonsensical threats go.
 
CHRIS JERICHO vs. HEATH SLATER (w/ McIntrye and Mahal)
 
We're all adults here. Let's not pretend this was something it wasn't.
 
Your Winner: Chris Jericho, via 90 second squash. After the match lasts almost as long as the match, as McIntrye and Mahal try to attack, but eventually end up laid out with Codebreakers for their trouble. Total throwaway segment that I guess proves Jericho may no longer be the Best in the World, but he's still pretty good.
 
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I Don't Get It: it's a skit by Sheamus, for a fictional "1-800-FELLA" help line. It involves helping a choke victim with a Brogue Kick (instead of a Heimlich) and then stealing said choke victim's girlfriend. Not actually funny by a long stretch, but somehow, Sheamus' goofy charm still shone through. Now the question is: why does this exist, and where is it leading?
 
CURTIS AXEL (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. SIN CARA (Non-Title Match)
 
So this is the third time these two have wrestled. The first time, they had Sin Cara's stupid-ass lighting, but Axel won. So the second time, no stupid-ass lighting. Now, on the third go 'round, the stupid-ass lighting is back? Why? Sin Cara's power meter is currently so low as to not permit him to get his lighting, dammit. At least, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
 
And it's more of a story than the match was. One high flying outburst from Sin Cara, but otherwise, a basic squash, with Miz being insufferable on guest commentary talking about how he's the rightful IC Champ.
 
Your Winner: Curtis Axel, via pinfall, in 2 minutes. He used a DDT for the win, so he continues to accumulate signatures, while keeping the PerfectPlex in his back pocket as his go-to finisher in higher-leverage situations.
 
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Backstage: Vince is congratulting Vickie on a really strong show so far. But he's curious: Mark Henry really had everybody fooled, and now he's laid out the Champ. What's Vickie's plan there? Vickie says she figures she'll make Cena vs. Henry for the WWE Title at the upcoming Money in the Bank PPV. Vince likey.
 
In walks HHH, who is NOT happy with Vickie's job tonight, because she let the Shield run roughshod over Kane, and specifically told her to keep them on a short leash. Vince claims he had no idea HHH felt this way, and they start bickering. Then Steph arrives and tries to play peacemaker, only to get drawn into the bickering. They only stop when they notice Vickie looking utterly, utterly confused.
 
HHH stares daggers at Vince as he tells Vickie, "I think you know who's gonna be running things around here," implying the Old Man's days are numbered. HHH leaves. Vince suggests "Just do what I say, and everything will be fine." Vince leaves. Steph says, "Frankly, I wouldn't listen to either one. If you know what I mean," and then offers a supportive half-hug, as Vickie's still sporting a bewildered look.
 
Elsewhere Backstage: Punk is getting ready for the main event when Paul Heyman approaches. Heyman apologizes for earlier, and says he knows their professional relationship is over, but he still wants Punk to know "I love you. I'll always be here for you." Then he and Punk share a manly hug, and Heyman tells him "You're the best in the world." Funny, Heyman never acts conciliatory at home...
 
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CM PUNK vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO (w/ Ricardo)

Unlike the night before, Punk's at full speed out of the gate. So, ummmm, I guess ring rust only lasts for one match?
 
Fast start for Punk, so del Rio opts to play some cat and mouse. As tends to be the case, this led to the standard Role Reversal spot where Punk chased the mouse out of the ring, but when Punk then followed back into the ring, del Rio stomped the cat.
 
A few minutes of stompy-kicky by Alberto, punctuated with a lot of prickish heel taunting/mannerisms, then a sudden flurry by Punk. Del Rio tossed out of the ring. Punk nails him with a big ol' plancha. Both men down, so let's break for our final...
 
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Back, and del Rio's in control, working the left arm, as is his wont in preparation for the cross armbreaker. During a lull in the action, Cole tells us that Bryan's final diagnosis is "stinger," and that he's now been scheduled for a match on Friday's SmackDown, against Dean Ambrose. [Note: Friday's SmackDown is actually taking place Tuesday. Right here. In Dayton, Ohio!]
 
Arm-related offense finally did lead to an attempted cross armbreaker, but Punk countered. Punk gains momentum, as they trade a few big moves, and then, BAM, Punk hits a GTS. But it's too close to the ropes. Alberto gets a rope break on the near fall, and then rolls all the way out of the ring.
 
Ricardo tends to him, and when the ref gets up to 7, Alberto's back to his feet, and could have gotten back inthe ring. Instead, he makes the international sign for "screw this noise" and backs away from the ring as the ref finishes his count.
 
Your Winner: CM Punk, via count-out, in 10 minutes. A disappointing contest, given what these two are capable of, with a pretty unsatisfying finish. Then again, it turns out we aren't finished...
 
After the Match: del Rio is still backing away from the ring, gesturing back to Punk in a mocking manner when all of a sudden, he is plastered from behind by a pink blur.
 
Hey, that blur is Dolph Ziggler! So much for AJ's claim that he's not in the building... crowd goes nuts for Ziggler unloading on Alberto. A phalanx of refs eventually show up to pull them apart and drag them backstage.
 
Nice tag ending. A surprise appearance by Ziggler really lit the crowd up, and makes it clear we'll have a Ziggler/Alberto title match at MitB. BUT WAIT! There's still more...
 
After After the Match: we head back up to the ring, where Punk is officially announced as the winner, and he starts a half-hearted celebration... which is when Brock Lesnar's music hits.
 
Brock comes out on the stage, showing no particular emotion, and strolls to the ring. Punk isn't overly concerned, but he's certain confused.
 
Brock grabs a mic, gets in the ring, raises the mic to address his fellow Heyman Guy and then, before saying a single word.... a sudden F-5. Just snapped Punk up and laid him out in a jiffy.
 
Brock finally displays some emotion: a big ol' shit eating grin. He stands over Punk as the show wraps up. No sign of Heyman, though, so we remain unclear exactly who's behind all this (although I remain convinced that Heyman's "I love you" moment with Punk was out of character, while siccing Lesnar on Punk would be entirely in character).
 
And so ends the show. A damned awesome one, if you ask me. Probably light on the actual wrestling, but off the charts in terms of entertianment value and surprises.
 
The final segment was the perfect microcosm: disappointing wrestling match, followed by one neat surprise, capped off by an even bigger one. Even then, the biggest one was Henry's performance. That was amazing.
 
Plus, you had Christian returning. The Bryan injury stuff was damned convincing, and will only help add to his underdog appeal.  And you gotta love Cesaro getting a reboot, too.
 
Pretty excellent night, all aroud. I've checked in with my Inner Pyro, and he's willing to call it an A-. Could have been higher, but honestly: the actual wrestling just wasn't there.
 
See you next week, kids...


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
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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