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Daniel Bryan, Odds-On Favorite?
July 9, 2013

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com


I hate to be predictable, but I wouldn't be me if I didn't use this little patch of PreRamble real estate to say, "How about Homer f'n Bailey and his second no-hitter in 9 months?!?"
And I mean "f'n" in the literal sense, as Homer put the "F" in "f'n" during his live postgame TV interview.


The f-bomb, combined with Homer refusing to do a postgame radio interview, apparently soured some Reds' fans opinion of the guy. Making matters worse, the Reds' flagship station fanned the flames by running congratulatory commercials. But not congratulating Homer... congratulating his catcher, Ryan Hannigan, for HIS 2nd No Hitter. So stupid.
Dear Idiots: nobody cares what you think. As a Reds fan, I care only about winning and accumulating as much glory as possible for the franchise. You only care about your personal sensibilities. Ergo, you are not a Reds fan. Love, Me.
Dear Homer: please ignore the idiots, and re-sign with the Reds, long term. I like winning, and you are good at baseball. It's a perfect match. Love, Me.
And with that, I believe I've fulfilled my contractual obligation to talk about exactly what you'd have guessed I'd talk about here in the PreRamble. Which means it's time for my other obligation: telling you the story of tonight's RAW....

Picking up Where We Left Off: the first thing we see is Bray Wyatt's empty rocking chair. Which is also the last thing we saw last week. One can only assume this means the Wyatts are done plotting their arrival, and are prepared to execute it.
Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live in Baltimore, MD, where Vickie Guerrero and her valet, the Lovely Miss Maddox are already in the ring (along with a ladder and the Red MitB Briefcase hanging above the ring). So let's not dawdle, let's immediately begin...
Vickie starts off by bragging about what a great MitB Ladder Match she's set up, loaded with All Stars, and so forth... but this isn't just a sell-job for the PPV, this is also her way of pointing out what a great job she's done as interim GM of RAW (or Managing Supervisor, or whatever stupid title it was). She says she's proud to have redefined the level of success a woman can have in a male dominated industry, and to drive home the point, she climbs the ladder (of success) that's in the ring, and eventually perches on top (while two refs magically appear to hold the ladder steady).
From the top of the ladder, Vickie changes tone, from proud to scolding. Because none of the fans appreciate her and yadda yadda yadda. It is at this point that Jerry Lawler grabs a house mic and (in a fully self-aware manner) says, "Excuse me."
He's interrupting to announce that he's just been handed a note that says the McMahons will be considering ALL factors tonight when conducting Vickie's Performance Review. And that includes the opinion of the WWE Universe. They'll get to vote Pass/Fail on Vickie's work, on the WWE App. So, what say you now, Vickie?
What Vickie says is "Oh, I didn't mean it, WWE fans. We have our ups and downs, but everything I do, I do it for you, and I know -- deep down -- you appreciate that." The crowd isn't really buying it, so Vickie continues by announcing a bunch of big stuff that she's scheduled for tonight: a Cena/Henry face-to-face and three MitB Preview matches (Kane vs. Christian, Bryan vs. Sheamus, and Punk vs. Orton). The crowd grumbles its approval, but I don't think it's gonna end up helping her case in the end...

In fact, Vickie's so fired up for the fans to enjoy her handiwork that she suggests we start RIGHT NOW, with Bryan vs. Sheamus... and by "right now," we (as always) mean, after these...
Vignette: Rob Van Dam won the 2006 MitB Match. And he's returning to WWE in six days for MitB 2013.
Standard feeling out process to start, with Bryan trying a combo of grapplingsmanship and strikes, while Sheamus stuck with short circuiting Bryan's offense with outbursts of sheer power. Neither man can get a true foothold for several minutes, until Sheamus gets a series of near falls at the 5 minute mark.
But Bryan manages to muster up a big head scissors takedown, and Sheamus decides to roll out of the ring to recoup. Bryan wants to keep the pressure on, and dives off the apron at Sheamus. Sheamus catches him and slings him, head and neck first, into the ringside barricade. Ouch. Seriously, Bryan must have some sort of secret relationship with the barricade in which he takes the most painful looking bumps ever, and somehow, the barricade spares him serious injury.
Anyway, Bryan is in trouble, and Sheamus is slow to his feet, too, so it's a good spot for...
Back, and it's still Sheamus in command for a minute or two, until he thinks it's time for the Brogue Kick. Bryan ducks, and Sheamus crotches himself on the top rope. Bryan dumps him all the way out of the ring, to the floor, and follows up with his suicide dive, firing up the crowd, big time.
Back in the ring, Bryan's rally continues with YES! kicks, and a missile dropkick for a convincing near fall. More YES! kicks, and then the wind-up for the big finishing kick... but Sheamus rolled out of the way, and Bryan whiffed. Bryan tried to charge Sheamus (who was now standing on the apron), but ate a forearm. Then, 10 more forearms, as Sheamus cinched Bryan in for an Inverted 10 of Clubs (Sheamus outside the ring, victim inside).
Embiggened by these developments, Sheamus went to the top rope, but Bryan caught him, and crotched him on the top turnbuckle. He followed by trying to set up a top rope rana, but Sheamus flung him off and hit him with a top rope battering ram for a very convincing near fall.
Sheamus tried for White Noise, but Bryan wormed out, and rammed Sheamus into the turnbuckle. Then Bryan tried for the swandive headbutt, but Sheamus got out of the way (at least in part because Bryan paused to gaze, longingly, at the briefcase above the ring in a pretty ham-handed bit of over-production).
Both men down. Both men up. Start trading blows, while the crowd joins in with YES!/NO! chants (Bryan's getting 75% "yes"). Sheamus wins the brawl, and tries once again for White Noise, but Bryan nicely counters it into a crucifix pinning combo. Only gets a 2, but off of the cover, Bryan immediately segues into a NO! Lock... and almost as quickly, Sheamus hooks an ankle and turns that into a Cloverleaf.
Bryan seems to be in trouble, but just as the announcers mention that Bryan claims to have a counter for every submission move ever, he proves it: he props up on his elbows, and Sheamus tries to add more torque, but instead, Bryan pops all the way back through Sheamus legs, and turns it into a victory roll. I'm not describing that well, but it was a thing of beauty. And also: it was the end of the match.
Your Winner: Daniel Bryan, via pinfall, in 15 minutes. Just excellent. Great action, hot crowd, neat finish. If you like things that are great, you will want to youtube this one.
After the Match: Sheamus is frustrated, but quickly calms down and offers Bryan a Handshake of Respect. Bryan accepts. But then, both men look up at the briefcase, and release the handshake, because in six days, there will be no friends at MitB.
On Location: so we're led to believe that a WWE.com "reporter" (HA!) went to learn more about the Wyatts... the result is a series of jarringly-cheesy video clips of the "reporter's" adventures, in which he just randomly films stuff, but never says a single word. This is the first of 3 of them, and I don't know what the hell they were meant to accomplish. File under "1-800-FELLA" in the sense that these were dumb and pointless and out of place, but the basic vibe of the character(s) in question still shone through.
Backstage: AJ is talking with Big E. about how horrible Kaitlyn is, and Big E. plays it cool by reminding her "Hey, you beat her once, I know you'll beat her again on Sunday." That perks AJ right up. Then, even more perkening, as Dolph Ziggler arrives... she's so happy to see her Zigglypuff, but he seems just a little miffed that she was nowhere to be seen last week when he was taking care of Alberto business. Dolph suggests AJ's obsession with Kaitlyn is undermining their shared goal of being double champions and WWE's Power Couple. AJ swears this is not true, and even if it's not, Dolph is quickly distracted when AJ lays a big ol' smooch on him. I know that'd do the trick on me, anyway...
Rerun: Mark Henry's 17 year career. FF.
DANCING FAT MEN vs. THE SHIELD (Rollins/Reigns, Non-Title)
The Shield entered before the break, then after the break, Brodus and Tensai were already in the ring, ready to start the match. Which means no Ass Voltron. For once, I'm almost sorry I stick to the DVR time shift, rather than using the WWE App.
Then the match starts. And it was actually more competitive than I'd have guessed. But even with the effort from these four, there's absolutely no drama regarding the outcome, and almost zero crowd interest. So let's file under "squash" and not get bogged down in me-doing-a-whole-narrative, OK?
Your Winners: Rollins and Reigns, via pinfall, in 7-8 minutes. Good showcase for the Shield guys. They kept the pace up enough that it didn't feel like a total waste of time at that length, but still... filler by any other name will make you take a pee break.
John Cena hits the ring. Tells the crowd how great they are. Then says, "So I hear Mark Henry has something he wanted to say to me, face-to-face. Let's do this."
So Henry hits the ring. He notes that Cena still has that tinge of fear in his eyes after what Henry did to him two weeks ago. And Henry believes that's all the opening he'll need to take the WWE Title from Cena on Sunday.
He talks about 17 years of pent up hunger, to which Cena responds with a Snickers joke. [Really? There's a time and a place, JonJon, and this wasn't it. The Rock - Sense of Timing = This joke.] Henry pushes on, no-selling the one-liner: basically, he's going all-in on this shot at the title, including putting his family second and his career first. The WWE Title is what Henry needs to complete his resume and be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Cena then responds by.... well, by pretty much repeating exactly what Henry just said. Henry NEEDS to win on Sunday, or else his whole career will be meaningless. He's sold out his own family in order to satiate a 17 year hunger. Uhhhh, yeah, John, that's what he just said... I guess the difference here is that Henry said it in a way that was assuming he'd win, while Cena couched it as if Henry's defeat is inevitable. Still, clunky as hell.
Henry's retort is that Cena's too much of a good guy (no matter the mixed reactions he gets) to get down and dirty. Cena immediately takes us on a tangent by playing up the mixed reaction and commenting, "Ahh, just another average Monday night." Henry did not take kindly to interruption, and said, "You do that again, and Money in the Bank is gonna happen right here tonight." Henry reiterated that Cena is too goody-two-shoes to "cross the line" and do what it takes to beat a monster like Mark.
Cena then goes a little ranty and intense, to "prove" he's capable of being a bad-ass, I guess. Then, he points his toe and draws an imaginary line in the sand, and dares MARK to cross it, if he really wants to do MitB tonight.
Henry immediately changes gear and says "Not interested. I don't fight for free." Boo. He turns to walk away, but then lunges back in Cena's direction. Cena flinches noticeably. Henry laughs, but turns away again. Boo. Cena figures he's been had once, and Henry's walking away for real, so he puts down his guard. And that's when Henry turns around and bum rushes him.
A quick brawl ends with Cena attempting an F-U, but he's unable to lift Henry, so instead, Cena gets a World's Strongest Slam. Henry stands tall with the WWE belt. Message sent and received.
On paper, this segment probably sounds pretty good/effective to you... old school simplicity ("I'm gonna whip your ass"/"No you're not"), with an ending that will tie directly into Sunday's match (the concept of Cena not being able to hit an F-U will be the story of the match, up until Cena hits it anyway, and we all marvel at his strength). And yet, in execution, man alive.... "clunky" is the word. It just did not flow or seem natural. And not just Cena's weird repeating of Henry's statements. Awkward, all around.
Backstage: Josh Mathews is interviewing Randy Orton. In short: he's hungrier than anyone else in MitB, including his opponent tonight, CM Punk. He's so hungry that he's putting everyone on notice: when he wins MitB, he may not wait, he might cash in that very same night if he spots John Cena in the same kind of vulnerable position he was just in. Awwww, that's adorable Randy, but you must be even dumber than you look if you think the All Stars match is happening before Cena vs. Henry. Well, either that, or WWE is dumber than you look for putting the All Stars match on last...
CHRIS JERICHO vs. CURTIS AXEL (w/ Paul Heyman, Non-Title)
Miz was already at ringside for guest commentary. Then Jericho does a full entrance. Then Axel enters, and we get some pre-match promo work. First, Heyman shows off a black eye while quickly referencing the events of Friday's SmackDown (Alberto punched him in the face, Punk came to his rescue), and then talks about how great Axel is. Axel says a few words on his own behalf (mocking Jericho's "christmas light jacket" as an inferior way to get attention as compared to the shiny IC Title belt) that somehow manages to end with the word "perfection."
And then, we ring the bell. About 45 seconds later, we abruptly break for...
Back, and there's a little bit of beatdown for Axel, but after a minute or two, Jericho begins his rally, and we enter End Game after a missed top rope move by Axel.
Jericho gets a couple near falls during his rally, and also tries for a Walls (but to no avail). Then when Jericho went for a Codebreaker, Axel countered that with the running neck breaker. Followed that up with a PerfectPlex, but only for 2 count. Axel (and Heyman) were apoplectic when Jericho kicked out of the PerfectPlex, allowing Jericho to recover.
After a quick exchange, Jericho manages to lock in the Walls. Axel gets to the ropes for a break, and drags himself to his feet on the apron. Jericho promptly shoulder tackles him, and Axel flies off the apron and onto the announce table. Miz REALLY enjoyed that, and starts sporting a shit-eating grin.
Axel spots this, and starts jawing with Miz. The two seem on the brink of a brawl when Heyman finally talks some sense into Axel, and tells him to get back in the ring before he's counted out.
Problem: Jericho is standing in the ring waiting. As soon as Axel (still half-distracted by Miz) steps through the ropes, he eats a Codebraker. Fin.
Your Winner: Chris Jericho, via pinfall, in about 10 minutes. For all intents and purposes, it was really more like 6 minutes (you can't count the first mintue and ad break), and I thought they did a nice job in that time. The other 4 minutes might have been bleh, but the 6 we got were solid. The finish was intriguing, too. They harped on the fact that this is the first time Curtis Axel has lost (as "Curtis Axel," since he obviously lost a lot as Michael McGuillicutty)... and in a way, couldn't you blame Heyman for rushing him into the ring, where Jericho was waiting? We'll see if that's anything....
Vignette: RVD wins the IC Title. And he's returning this Sunday at MitB.
Backstage: Josh Mathews starts by interviewing the Rhodes Scholars about SD's MitB Match. Sandow dismisses any concerns that the match could cause a rift between himself and Cody, because if he's unable to win, then the only other outcome that would please him would be Cody winning, instead. Before Cody can reciprocate, Zeb Colter shows up with Swagger and Cesaro, and says HIS two guys are the ones who'll be battling it out in the end. Enter Wade Barrett, who says "Ladies, ladies, settle down," on the grounds that HE will win. Zeb: "What did he say? Did anyone catch that? Speak English, son" HA! Before Barrett can respond, here's Fandango (to a nice pop from the crowd), striking a pose and trying to introduce himself. But anytime he finishes saying "FAAAAAAHHHN," somebody cuts him off and threatens him. This repeats 3-4 times, and when Fandango tries again, Wade Barrett just punches him in the jaw (to an even bigger pop).
Obviously, you'd like to see the 7 guys in the SD MitB get a BIT more exposure on RAW, but if they're only gonna get 3 minutes, then that wasn't too hateful. A quick reminder of who's involved, with a cute little crowd pleasing punchline.
So, they kept Sin Cara's special lighting for this match. Is it just me, or is that just about the dumbest thing ever. I mean, I don't care for the mood lighting to begin with, but how does a midcard jobber get special treatment over the fricking WORLD CHAMPION?
Anyway, these two generally work well together (or at least, they work less-botchy than Sin Cara's usual matches), and this is no exception. Problem is, they also don't really bother getting even close to cruising speed. Quick back and forth start settles down into Alberto targeting Sin Cara's arm for his finisher. Mostly with armbars. Thrilling.
Then, mid-armbar, Dolph Ziggler comes out and starts talking. Incongruously, Alberto and Sin Cara just keep wrestling, as if nothing is happening. Ziggler accuses Alberto of "flanting, and, ummmm, flaunting" his massive wealth to make up for his unmassive penis. The word "flanting" + Penis humor = THUD. Del Rio finally gets mildly distracted long enough for Sin Cara to try a roll-up. No dice. Then, as Ziggler continues with a faux ring introduction (in honor of Ricardo), Alberto finally gets offended that Dolph announced him as the loser of Sunday's match, and charges Ziggler.
Alberto gets the better of the ringside brawl, but the moment he turns back towards the ring, Sin Cara is perched on the top rope and hits a big-ass plancha onto del Rio. At this point, Ziggler's music plays, and he backs up the ramp, "victorious" (even though Alberto kicked his ass). No decision was rendered.
Your Winner: None, in 5 minutes. Since del Rio was the aggressor in going after Ziggler, it's not a DQ. Since del Rio is the world champ, there's no way they actually give Sin Cara a count-out win, or anything. A very awkward and confusing ending to a pretty bland match. Ziggler's promo-while-the-match continued lacked any kind of real oomph (on top of his flubbed line and ill-advised cock joke), which can't help his cause in terms of babyfacedom.
Vickie is already in the ring, with the Lovely Miss Maddox. She's got a stool, and it's set up in front of a nice wooden table (not the kind for powerbombing people through) with 3 chairs. Then, Vince, Stephanie, and Triple H all enter (together, to Vince's music). Vince struts around like a buffoon and milks the audience for a few extra cheers before sitting down.
Steph takes control, saying she's called this performance review to help provide an impartial assessment of Vickie's work, in the light of wildly varying opinions of her dad and husband. She gives Vickie the chance to provide some opening remarks. Vickie starts by making entirely reasonable claims about just wanting to provide the fans with the best possible show, but then starts overstepping her bounds by claiming responsibility for returning stars like RVD, and getting the Undertaker to come back for WrestleMania.
Steph calls bullshit on all that because (a) we already know Vickie had nothing to do with RVD, (b) the Undertaker does not answer to Vickie Guerrero, and (c) one of her returning stars was Brock Lesnar, who has hospitalized both her dad and husband in the p ast year.
Vickie claims that, bad outcomes aside, signing Brock was good for business, and isn't that what Vince always preaches?
Vince chimes in that, well, yes, as a matter of fact, it is. And so he  admits that Vickie's done a decent job. Hell, he even says she's "entertaining" (insert your own joke about Vince's shitty sense of humor and general poor taste here). He talks her up, and eventually declares that he thinks Vickie should be made permanent GM of RAW.
HHH lets out a hearty laugh, and takes over the talky-stick for a bit. He grants that Vickie might be unintentionally funny sometimes, but that's a far cry from being "entertaining," and even further from being competent. He claims Vickie is terrible, citing the videogame unveiling as a case where she failed at a simple task of revealing a new cover (Dear HHH, if you think a GM's job has anything to do with shitty videogame tie-ins, you're the one who needs to be replaced. Love, Me.). HHH believes Vickie should be fired.
So, we're tied at 1-1. HHH and Vince go back and forth a couple more times, before agreeing that Steph should cast the deciding vote. Vince is all "I trust my darling daughter to the ends of the earth" and HHH is all "I trust my wife and mother of my children to do the right thing."
And then Steph is all "screw both you, I'm not voting." She declares that the vote on the WWE App will break the tie.
The vote is 75% against Vickie. So Steph declares "You're Fired."
Vickie throws a massive temper tantrum while HHH and Steph leave together. Vince tries to calm Vickie down by saying what just happened was wrong, and the fans were wrong for doing it. So he's going to give the fans what they deserve... he's going to give them a new General Manager RIGHT NOW.
That General Manger is... Brad Maddox. Vickie just bursts out in tears again at the thought of her useless boy toy getting her job, and Brad sells it perfectly with a mix of smug self-satisfaction and being clearly intimidated by the job he's unqualified for.
Backstage: Vince is still consoling Vickie. Maddox approaches, with his hand out, to thank Vince for the opportunity. Vince declines the handshake, and reiterates that he's just giving the fans "what they deserve." Maddox either fails or refuses to acknowledge that this means Vince thinks the fans deserve a heaping pile of shit, and ergo, Vince thinks Maddox is a heaping pile of shit. Instead, Brad promises to do his best, still broadcasting the perfect blend of self-importance and self-doubt. Finally, Vickie's heard enough of Brad's optimism and starts slapping away at him. Maddox finally retreats, and Vickie starts another tantrum as even Vince decides to get out of dodge.
During Christian's entrance, the video screens were showing Michael McGuillicutty's b-roll (not the main tron, but the side and bottom screens). I realize it's just a tiny mistake, and they fixed it within 3 seconds, but goddamn, why is that video even still in the WOPR to begin with? I can see keeping some old videos in the storage system for returns/nostalgia shows.... but in what alternate universe is there EVER going to be a use for Michael McGuillicutty's tron? Baffling...
Match starts with Kane in control, with power trumping speed. But the announcers counter-point that with an interesting discussion of whether or not that really proves anything with regard to a ladder match, where speed and agility are vital. Then, after all of 2 minutes or so, Christian ducked a charge, and Kane went tumbling to the outside. Christian went up to the top rope and delivered a HUGE crossbody to Kane on the floor.
Both men down, so you know what's next....
Back, and Kane's in command until he misses his top rope clothesline. Christian strings together a few moves, culminating in a Spear. Only a 2 count. Christian tries for the Killswitch, but Kane counters, and after a quick double-reversey, hits a chokeslam for the 3 count.
Your Winner: Kane, via pinfall, in 7 minutes. It was, like, 2 mintues of feeling out, then 3 minutes of commercials, then 2 minutes of lukewarm End Game. Not bad by any stretch, but that's sure as hell no way to set things up for a worthwhile wrestling match, either. It was just sort of there.... but then again, that was probably the point, given what happened after the match...
Before Kane can celebrate, the lights go out, and Bray Wyatt appears on the big screen. He says he does not have followers; he has brothers and sisters. He says those who are not with him are sheep; and sheep must be led. He says people claim to crave war, well, that's OK; he makes war. And if you think this is a beginning, you're dead wrong, because this is the End. Bray lights a lantern, revealing Harper and Rowan behind him, and says, "We're here."
The tron goes dark, too, and now the entire arena is pitch black. The Wyatts' music kicks in (I stand by my description of "Credence Clearwater Revival and Darth Vader's Theme having a lovechild" and I stand by that being a compliment), and the crowd pops.
Then, Bray pops out onto the stage, carrying his lantern, and with his goons in tow. It's a great visual, even if you can tell it's a phony lantern with a blue-ish LED bulb. To his credit, once Bray gets to his rocking chair, he still pantomimes "blowing out" the flame. [They have time to work on a better effect for coming weeks, as I can't imagine it'd be hard to do a hybrid lantern with a real flame, but with an LED "enhancement" so that it's bright enough to play on TV.]
Anyway, the second Bray "blows out" the lantern, the lights pop back on, and Kane's cornered. Harper (jeans and wife-beater, also pretty damned talented, especially for a big man) and Rowan (jumpsuit and red beard, less talented and very green, but improving) positively decimate Kane, using the ring steps in several different configurations.
Then, as Bray saunters over to examine their handiwork, a few jackwads in the audience start a "HUSS KEE HAIR ISS" chant. It only partially ruins the effect. As RAW cuts to a commercial, my spidey sense thought something was amiss. I was right. I quickly went back and frame-by-frame'd it, and for some reason, they snuck in a single frame of Rowan's sheep mask during the fade to black. Creepy.
Moments Ago: Cole oversells the Wyatts' debut. Not in the sense of making too big a deal of it (I thought it was very well handled, and did come off like a big deal), but in terms of acting like Kane's greivously wounded. The Wyatts did nothing with the ring steps that we haven't seen done a hundred times in the middle of matches, and now, you almost wonder if WWE's really so tone deaf to think that was enough to write Kane out of MitB.
Then again, if they do, I've only been saying for two weeks that turning Ryback vs. Jericho into a match where the winner enters MitB would go a long way to making it less pointless and random.
Backstage: Vickie has cleared out her office, and is walking down the hall with a box of stuff. She bumps into Ryback, who gently takes the box and sets it aside, and gives Vickie (who looks appropriately confused/worried) a big hug. Then he hands her back her box, and assures her that she's a great person, she deserves better, and everything will be OK.  Then he walks off... leaving Vickie half-perplexed and half feeling-better-about-herself. Huh. I know this is part of a sure-to-be-shortlived "Cryback" detour, but damn if Ryback getting in touch with his feminine side  couldn't be hilarious based on this little interaction...
AJ/ALICIA FOX (w/ Big E. Langston) vs. KAITLYN/LAYLA
The Bellas are on commentary, and for all intents and purposes, and presented as the "stars" of the match. They say generally awful things about both AJ and Kaitlyn, acting like they (and they alone) are the only divas worth caring about, by way of hyping the new E! Network show. Ugh. It's one thing for the Bellas to say horrible things, because that's their gimmick: they are shallow bitches. But how do you not have King or somebody put their foot down and point out that Kaitlyn's not fat, AJ's not a whore, and in fact, they're the two best wrestlers of the divas at this point, as witnessed by their champion and #1 contender status, respectively?
Oh, that's right, you don't do that because it gets in the way of hyping the E! Network show. Twins acting like total bitches equals ratings! For a different show! On another network! Except, it won't! Unless you count the target demographic of Functionally Retarded, Ages 18-49. Which I guess E! does, since it's basically their only demographic.
The match? Yeah, it happened. The basic idea was AJ didn't want any part of Kaitlyn till Kaitlyn was down. Then AJ tagged in. Then Kaitlyn got back up and AJ tried to escape. Then Kaitlyn got a 30-yard running start from one side of the ring, turned two corners and absolutely speared the shit out of AJ. Just cut her in half.
Then Big E. picked AJ up and carried her away. Uhhh, whaaaa?
Your Winner: Nobody, in 2 minutes. Like I said, it happened. But the absence of a finish was confusing and awkward. Isn't this, like, the 3rd or 4th segment I've had to explain with those words? It never rains, but it pours, eh? Anyway, the Bellas came off terrible, the match was without an ending, but at least the spear by Kaitlyn was awesome.
Backstage: Josh Mathews interviews CM Punk. In short, he's the best in the world, and just in case anyone doubts him, he'll start his quest to regain his WWE Title by winning MitB on Sunday. And for now, he's more than happy to give Randy Orton a preview of what it'll feel like to be a loser at the hands of CM Punk.
Vignette: Rob Van Dam won the WWE Title at One Night Stand (thanks to Paul Heyman running in to count the three; OMG, is RVD a Paul Heyman Guy, too?!? what if RVD wins after Lesnar destroys Punk? coincidence or conspiracy?!?). He's returning to WWE on Sunday.
Orton made his entrance before the break, Punk got his full entrance afterwards. Then they're off...
Basic back and forthy to start. Lock ups, headlocks, etc. with neither guy establishing a clear cut advantage. Another way these two are at a stalemate: they're basically tied in the category of "ill advised facial hair." Punk's Wolverine look is silly, and Orton's physical inability to grow the "connectors" makes him look like a 16 year old whose proud to have a neckbeard. Actually, you know what? Give the advantage to Orton, here. Because his giggle-inducing neckbeard becomes even funnier when you notice he's got gray on his chin. Oh, the irony.
It's still back and forthy after a few minutes, but the bombs are getting bigger. Orton busts out a picture perfect dropkick. Punk matches that with a snap suplex. Crowd's already way into it, with dueling chants (the ladies and kids with "LETS GO RAN DEE" and the males with "SEE EMM PUNK"), too.
Orton goes for the Hangman DDT, but it's WAY to earler for that, and Punk backdrops Orton out of the ring. Then, Punk gets a running start and nails Orton with a suicide dive. Both men down, which means it's time for tonight's final....
Back, and Orton's got his favorite hold locked in: the dreaded chinlock. But Punk doesn't stay down for long, and starts firing up. He gets to his feet. But Orton ends that by just dropping him with a suplex. Orton continues in control for another minute or so, until Punk catches him with a spin kick out of nowhere. This basically resets the match for End Game.
They pick up the pace and start going for bigger moves. They even throw in a bit of the awesome "I've got that scouted" element from Orton/Christian on Friday; Punk/Orton was, afterall, a feud before Christian/Orton in 2011, so they know each other well, too. Best one was Punk's avoiding Orton's powerslam. Lot's of onestepaheadery here. Fun.
Punk eventually got the better of this, and went up top for the Macho Man Elbow. He, like Bryan before him, paused extra long to ogle the MitB Briefcase, but he still landed the move. Only a two.
Punk began twitching rhythmically, to entice a "GEE TEE ESS" chant, but the fans instead gave him "SEE EMM PUNK." So Punk made the international signal for "Go To Sleep," and the fans figured it out. But in the time that took, Orton regained his senses, and was easily able to counter. Before you know it, BAM, Orton has nailed the Hangman DDT, and Punk is in trouble.
But he keeps kicking out of Orton's offense. Then, when Randall tries for the mount-and-punch in the turnbuckle, Punk sneaks out the backdoor, and immediately turns and hit Orton with his running high knee. Punk tries for the GTS again, but Orton slides behind and sets up for the RKO. But Punk has unique counter: he just kicks Orton in the face (seriously, I mean "unique" since I don't know as that I've ever seen it, and I don't know how many other guys on the roster even have the flexibility to do it). That blow is enough to stagger Orton, and he walks right into a TGS for the finish.
Your Winner: CM Punk, via pinfall, in 15 minutes. Right there on par with the opener in terms of being flat-out excellent and well worth youtubing. The match was very good, and I have to admit that decisively clean victory only enhanced my overall appreciation (plus, the unique RKO counter by Punk added even more to my surprise).
After the Match: Daniel Bryan runs out and blindsides Punk, sending him tumbling out of the ring. Then, Bryan grabs a ladder from under the ring, and uses it to steamroll Orton. And finally, Bryan sets up the ladder, climbs up, and grabs the red briefcase. We fade to black with Bryan on top of the ladder chanting "YES!" and a majority (but by no means all) fans joining him.
And so ends the show. Just outstanding "bookends" tonight, with the two MitB preview matches. The Wyatts' debut was also very effective. Then the rest was sort of meh, but outside of the Bellas/non-women's-match segment, nothing was really bad, either (not even the McMahon Drama). Awkward and unusual in a few spots, sure. But not outright stinky poo-poo. I'll take that.
The ending with Bryan is intriguing, since it almost presented him as the overwhelming favorite to win. He's had a dominant few weeks, and now, he holds the briefcase at the end of the final RAW before the PPV, after taking out Punk and Orton. If he's painted as the favorite, doesn't that mean he stands no chance to win? Or is WWE pulling some double reverse psychology on us? And what about Bryan attacking two babyface? Is that really supposed to turn him heel? About 70% of fans were still cheering him tonight, to say nothing about how he'll be treated in Philly.
I guess the mere fact that WWE found a way for me to get even more intrigued by Sunday's "all stars" match means they win. I was already fired up for it, now, I'm incrementally more so. Per usual, I invite you to come on back to OO on Sunday night around 11pm, when I'll be posting my full recap and analysis of the show. Before that, the OO Forums will have predictions/previews and real time results, too. [Note: due to technical limitations, access to the forums is still "Members Only." But you're invited to sign up for instant access. We just can't have the massive overrun of lurkers and spiders and crap clogging things up.]
Oh, and my Inner Pyro says B+ for tonight's show. I think that means it was probably mostly a straight-up "B" but with the extra bonus due to the fact that the last taste left in your mouth is the most important one, and goddamn was that main event ever outstanding...

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



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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