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OO RAW RECAP
Sometimes You Gotta Wonder if Randy Can Even Spell "RKO"
August 6, 2013

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com

 

I've joked about it in the past, but after tonight's RAW (especially the opening segment, which called attention to it), I'm convinced there really is a Beard Renaissance happening in WWE these days. It seems like all the cool kids are wearing some facial hair these days...
 

Or they're trying to, at least. God bless you, Randy Orton: you are so very, very dumb, and you have facial hair that makes you look like you lost a bet. Except it's been a couple years now, and you're still sporting that ricockulous cheekbeard-with-no-connectors-to-the-mustache/chingbeard-part look, so it must be voluntary.
 
But other than that, think about it: Daniel Bryan. Wade Barrett. Damien Sandow. Zeb Colter. Mark Henry. Sheamus. The entire Wyatt Family. Antonio Cesaro. Christian, Ryback, and RVD all keep a super-tight stubble beard. Curtis Axel. Two out of three Shield members. Two out of 3MB. CM Punk tends to keep a full beard, even if he's celebrating a Summer Blockbuster with the Wolverine Chops. Big Show. Tensai. Khali. Triple H.
 
Cody's mustache, like Orton's beard, is classified as a comedy prop, not as facial hair.
 
I'm probably forgetting even more... but I think you get the point. Not only are there an abundance of guys wearing beards, but some of them are sporting truly heroic growths. Never before in the history of WWE have you had the likes of Bryan, Colter, Sandow, and the Wyatts all on the roster at the same time. At least, I can't remember such a time. BEARD RENAISSANCE~!
 
And I remind OO Nation that I was a man way ahead of his time: I switched from a douchey goatee to a full (but neatly trimmed) beard about 12 years ago, on the grounds that there is nothing manlier than showing off how much hair you can grown on your face to make up for what isn't on top of your head. MANLY~!
 
That's now at least one two many paragraphs ending with a "~!" so I'll quit wasting your time, and cut to the chase. Here's what happened on RAW...

 
Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live in Green Bay, WI, where Cole and the Gang assure us a great show is set to unfold for us tonight. Starting right now, because Stephanie McMahon is already in the center of the ring...
 
SHAVE AND A HAIR CUT? TWO BITS.
 
As Steph begins speaking, she gets a chyron that gives her title as "Executive VP, Creative." I hadn't noticed that before, but it amounts to saying, "Hey, everybody! You know this show you're watching that's so totally real? Well, here's the head writer." Which I'm not sure is how I'd handle it, but whatever...
 
Stephanie quickly outlines the situation: Vince hates Daniel Bryan, because he's a half-pint troll. HHH likes Daniel Bryan, because he likes whatever the fans like and will make money for WWE. So Steph came up with a compromise that she hopes will make both her husband and her dad happy: Daniel Bryan headlines SummerSlam, as planned, but only after a Corporate Makeover.
 
She introduces a video clip of Bryan at the salon, and shopping for suits, and so forth (not nearly as funny as it could have been), then introduces Bryan himself: he hits the ring, all dolled up real pretty-like, except he's still got the same beard as always.
 
Steph says she likes what she sees, and hands the mic off to Bryan, who asks the crowd what they think. The crowd does not approve ("NO! NO! NO!"). Bryan says not to worry, he's still the same old Daniel Bryan as ever. He's just playing "their" game until SummerSlam, where he will become WWE Champ.
 
He then spends a few moments outlining the primary distinctionb etween himself and John Cena: Cena is an entertainer, Bryan is a wrestler. All this leads Bryan to posit that at SummerSlam, he won't just win the WWE Title, he will make John Cena tap out. "YES! YES! YES!"
 
But then Vince McMahon's music hits, and he struts to the ring while the crowd grumbles and boos. Vince gives Bryan a visual once-over, calling his new look "a good start." He doesn't think the brown shoes go with the blue suit, but he'll give that a pass. [Dear Vince, a man wearing that ridiculous-looking tie is not qualified to comment on fashion choices. Love, Me.]
 
What will NOT get a pass, however, is that damned scruffy beard. Bryan looks like a mini-Foley, sayeth Vince. Bryan appears to take this as a compliment, as well he should. And we've been down that road once before, which is once too many for Vince. Vince re-asserts that he has no love for Cena, however, which means he really wants to give Bryan a chance.
 
So, Daniel Bryan, will you shave off that beard? For Vince? Just to prove to him you're willing to play ball? The crowd fires up a mighty "NO! NO! NO!" but Vince keeps haranguing Bryan about how this is his only chance to become champion at SummerSlam, because otherwise, Vince will do everything in his power to make sure he loses. Bryan eventually caves, after what felt like 10 minutes.
 
Vince calls for the barber chair, which arrives promptly, and then calls for a barber... but there's no Brutus Beefcake to be found, so Vince settles for a guy with a nicely trimmed beard, who is therefore qualified to fix Bryan's facial hair situation. Apparently. It's Wade Barrett.
 
Bryan, reluctantly, sits in the chair. Barrett selects a trimmer, and leans in. And as soon as Barrett's in range, Bryan headbutts him, and the brawl is on.
 
Bryan wins, and eventually gets Wade pinned down in the barber chair... and then he grabs the trimmer, and goes to town on Wade's nicely-tended beard, shaving the left half off, while leaving the right side. Wade now looks rather silly.
 
Also: Vince looks rather miffed. But Bryan looks rather proud, as he YES!es his way up the ramp, and grabs a mic. He declares he's not changing for anyone, and he'll become WWE Champ as the same Daniel Bryan he ever was. Then he rips off his dress shirt to reveal a "The Beard is Here" t-shirt, in the style of Cena's "The Champ is Here" tee, and YES!es some more to end the segment.
 
At over 20 minutes long, this was a bit windy in spots (mostly Vince's blabbery), and sort of awkward/bizzare in others (Random, they name is Wade "the Barber" Barrett)... but in the end, it was a fun showcase for Bryan: a little comedy, a little "shoot-y-ness" (all the talk of "wrestling"), and a little insubordination is a good recipe for an "alternative superstar."
 
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ROB VAN DAM vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO (w/ Ricardo)
 
Full entrance for RVD, then a special introduction for the returning Ricardo Rodriguez. Hey, on the same day A-Rod got smacked with his deserving 211-game suspension, R-Rod returns from his 30-day one! Feel the karma! Or something.
 
Ricardo gives Alberto the finest of introductionings. Then the bell rings. And all of 30 seconds later, they throw to a commercial. I told you that opening segment was probably a little over-long...
 
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Back, Alberto's in control. RVD tries a comeback, but del Rio avoids Rolling Thunder. Very time compressed, here, as they start going back and forth as if it's End Game. Then, all of a sudden, Ricardo lodges the spit bucket in between two turnbuckles, meaning for Alberto to use it as a weapon (while Ricardo distracts the ref)
 
But RVD spots it, and reverses the Irish Whip, causing del Rio to crash into the bucket, head-first. A quick roll-up from behind, and it's all over.
 
YOUR WINNER: Rob Van Dam, via pinfall, in about 6 minutes. But 3 of those minutes were the commercial, and it was only a little over 2 minutes once we returned from the break. For the second time in 3 weeks, a promising RVD/ADR match turns out to be an abbreviated disappointment. Huh. On the other hand, a pinfall win by RVD is a bit of a surprise. Are we turning SummerSLam into a Triple Threat? I could dig that.
 
After the Match: Alberto gave Ricardo the skunk eye for the backfired interference... Ricardo begged forgiveness, but Alberto just kicked him in the head. Then del Rio just went berzerk on poor Ricardo, culminating in a sick looking spot where Ricardo's head was stuck between the steel ring steps and the ring post, and Alberto dropkicked the steps. Ricardo's head should have popped like a ripe melon; luckily, it didn't.
 
Alberto walks away from the ring, showing off his World Title, and showered in very, very loud boos. Odd that Ricardo would return from suspension, only to get (seemingly) written out, but perhaps the end (Alberto becoming even more hated) justifies the means? Plus, give it a few weeks, and Ricardo and his goofy charm can always return as the Special Ring Announcers for somebody else, just to annoy del Rio.
 
Oh, and I forgot to mention it (on the grounds that he added nothing to the discourse), but Miz was on guest commentary for this entire match/segment, talking about hosting SummerSlam.
 
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JAMES CAMERON'S GOT NOTHING ON CODY RHODES

We return to find Cody and a mysteriously-leaky cardboard box already in the ring. Cody says it's a gift for his old friend, Damien Sandow. But first, he wants to make sure we're all caught up on the story so far.
 
So he throws it to a lengthy video package documenting the break-up of the Rhodes Scholars, and the watery demise of Sandow's MitB Briefcase.
 
Cody says that he felt bad about what he did, so he spared no expense putting together a nautical expedition to recover the MitB briefcase... and as you were expecting, that's what's in the leaky cardboard box. Cody takes it out, and it's all corroded and covered in seaweed. Cody insists that Damien can have it. As a gift.
 
So Sandow comes out, and suspiciously approaches the ring. Sensing a trap, he tells Cody to leave the ring. Cody eventually does. Sandow enters the ring, and makes a grab for the case, but Cody jumps back in, and the two have a quick brawl.
 
Cody wins, and Sandow bails. Cody goes through the trouble of emptying the case (including a sopping wet piece of paper), but then tosses the briefcase back to Damien, who reluctantly picks up the fetid piece of baggage and leaves.
 
At first, I assumed something would come of Sandow having the briefcase, and Cody keeping the paper contract (no matter how stupid that would be, seeing as how you have to assume a multi-billion dollar corporation run by adults has a duplicate copy of important contracts, and Cody's possession of another copy of it is utterly meaningless)... but the announcers never touched on that concept, and later, when they announced that Sandow vs. Rhodes was officially signed for SummerSlam, they went out of their way to note that Sandow (and Sandow alone) was still Mr. MitB.
 
So either they're sandbagging the stupid story, or they just aren't doing it at all. Here's hoping for the latter...
 
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MARK HENRY vs. RYBACK
 
We get all of 45 seconds of slobberknockering, then Henry goes for the World's Strongest Slam all of a sudden, and Ryback bails out of the ring and walks away.
 
YOUR WINNER: Mark Henry, via count-out, in less than 90 seconds. Yup Yup Yup, that was pointless. Or maybe not... if original plans for Henry and the Shield have been tabled for now (as a result of Big Show's lingering knee injury), maybe this resets his character so he can face Ryback at the PPV? Not saying I particularly want to see that match, but it might be the M.O. for what we saw tonight...
 
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Backstage: something happens, but much like last week, it must have been a figment of my imagination, because I do not acknowledge the existence of a diva-based "reality" show on the E! "network." I do not recap figments of my imagination.
 
RANDY ORTON MAKES THIS WAY TOO EASY, SOMETIMES
 
John Cena hits the ring, and spends several minutes rebuttaling Daniel Bryan's promo... nothing earth-shattering, but he does do a really nice job playing off the audience, who are less than receptive.

The gist of Cena's speech is that the very thing Bryan's most proud of (being a "wrestler") is what makes Cena the most angry. Because Bryan spent 5 minutes earlier tonight glorifying the concept of wrestling all over the world, in front of 30 people. Cena takes that as a slap in the face to him and to the entire WWE Universe (the universe disagrees), because if you want to wrestle anywhere other than WWE, then you're a traitor to the cause. Bryan said if he ever left WWE, he'd be wrestling at the nearest high school gym the next weekend; Cena responds by saying if he ever left WWE, he'd never wrestle again, because "all this" (gesturing to the lights, the titantron, and the large audience) is the only thing that matters to him.
 
The audience starts getting fed up with this jingoistic nonsense, and chants "BORING." But Cena makes a nice save by pausing, listening, and saying "Hmmm, sounds like most of you out there have had enough talking, and just want to see me and Daniel Bryan kick each other's asses." Crowd wakes back up and chants "YES! YES! YES!" so Cena closes out his comments with a quick hype of SummerSlam...
 
Then, apropos of nothing, Randy Orton decides to come on down.
 
Orton and Cena staredown for a moment, then Orton speaks. He talks about how Cena must feel like he has a target on his back, what with Daniel Bryan as #1 Contender, but "you should pay less attention to the target on your back, and more attention to the target standing right in front of you."
 
That... that... that makes no sense. "You, John Cena, are a target. And so am I. Intimidated, yet?" Of course not. Yet another classic point-and-giggle moment from everybody's favorite Mantard.
 
But wait! There's more!
 
Mere seconds after declaring that he's a target, instead of a shooter or someone else interested in taking shots at a target, he holds up the red MitB briefcase and says "it doesn't matter who walks out of SummerSlam as the WWE Title," because he's gonna be ready to cash-in.
 
Yep, you heard right. John Cena is the reigning, defending WWE Title. And Daniel Bryan's lifelong dream to become the WWE Title may come true at SummerSlam.

Ahhh, Randall... you truly are the gift that keeps on giving, you magnificent dolt. Seriously: why does WWE even bother giving him a live mic, at this point?
 
Anyway, a bit more bickering about the title picture, and then, for no readily discernable reason, the Shield head to the ring, and surround it. Well, they surround three sides of it. And then Daniel Bryan runs out and enters the ring from the 4th side. Way to plan, Shield, way to plan!
 
Quick brawl breaks up on the grounds that the Shield are less interested in 3-on-3 than they were in 3-on-2. But before they can leave the arena entirely, Brad Maddox pops out and declares that he'd like to see this fight continue... so later on tonight, our main event will be a 6-man tag: Bryan/Cena/Orton vs. the Shield.
 
The crowd approves.
 
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THE DANCING FAT MEN vs. THE WYATT FAMILY (w/ Bray Wyatt)
 
We're all adults here. Let's not pretend this is something it was not.
 
YOUR WINNERS: Harper and Rowan, via pinfall, in 90 seconds. Squashalicious.
 
After the Match: Bray Wyatt gets in the ring and grabs a mic. He delivers his standard verbaige, directed at Kane. It ends with a "Follow the Buzzards." At that moment, Kane's pyro explodes, and Kane appears on the Titantron. He muses, "You know, Bray, it's really hard to follow the buzzards when you spend your spare time ripping their wings off." Heh.
 
Kane continues with a thesis about how he (Kane) does for fun what Bray does as part of his personal mission. So just imagine how sick and twisted Kane might get when he starts getting serious... to that end, Kane suggests that he'd like to see Bray Wyatt, one-on-one, at SummerSlam. Bray seems to nod agreement. Kane further says that he knows it'll be one-on-one because nobody will be able to come to Wyatt's aid inside a Ring of Fire. Oddly, Bray seems even more enthusiastic upon hearing this.
 
But then Kane shoots off his corner/ring pyro, and all 3 Wyatts seem a bit taken aback. So... for the first time ever in the PG Era, an Inferno Match? THat'll be.... interesting.
 
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KAITLYN vs. LAYLA
 
Kaitlyn comes out strong, as the story here is that Layla was her last friend, and she turned on Kaitlyn last Friday. So Kaitlyn is understandably upset.
 
Then Layla uses the powers of cheating to sustain a brief offense.

Then Kaitlyn makes a comeback.
 
Then AJ skips out to the ring to create a distraction.
 
Then Layla gets a cheap roll-up victory.
 
YOUR WINNNER: Layla, via pinfall, in about 3 minutes. Not a whole lot in terms of wrestling action, but it served its purpose as an excuse to keep the AJ/Kaitlyn issue active, I guess.
 
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CHRISTIAN vs. HEATH SLATER
 
Even with Jinder and Drew trying to help out, Slater never had a chance.
 
YOUR WINNER: Christian, via pinfall, in 3 minutes flat. Nothing to see here. Move along.
 
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CM PUNK vs. CURTIS AXEL (w/ Paul Heyman) (Non-Title)
 
Punk jumpstarted the match by attacking Axel on the entrance ramp. He flattened Axel, and sarted stalking Heyman. Heyman decided to get out of dodge.
 
Ref Mike Chioda eventually coralled Punk and Axel back towards the ring to officially start the match. Punk was on fire for a few minutes, culminating in a suicide dive on Axel at ringside. Axel is toast, and Punk heads back into the ring to wait for him, as we break for...
 
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Back, and Axel has somehow regained control. Once he decides to settle in for a chinlock, Paul Heyman starts slowly slinking towards the ring. The announcers bludgeon us over the head with the fact that Heyman waited till Punk was down before decided to come back out.
 
Once Punk spotted Heyman back at ringside, he immediately got Extra Angry, and fired up. From here on out, the basic story was Punk getting separation from Axel, and going after Heyman, only to have Axel cut him off. Sometimes, it was by diving and hooking an ankle at the last second. One time, it was laying in wait as Heyman played cat and mouse with Punk, and then unloading with a clothesline when Punk turned a corner at a full sprint.
 
This went on for several minutes, and was certainly a unique variation on the standard heel beatdown sequence. Axel was solidly in control, and Punk blew all his hope spots by going for Heyman instead of focusing on Axel.
 
Finally, Punk DID decide to focus, and started a more traditional rally, which in turn lead to a series of nice back and forth near falls. The crowd even got way into it with a "This is awesome" chant that, while slightly hyperbolic, certainly added to the atmosphere.
 
At the 10 minute mark, Punk landed a KO kick, and was gonna go up top, but Heyman got onthe apron to create a distraction. Punk suddenly remembered his previous gameplan, and just lunged at Heyman. For some reason, the ref called for the bell. The hell?
 
YOUR WINNER: I dunno, they never announced one. I think they must've flubbed something, because Punk just attacked Heyman; Heyman didn't land so much as one piddling blow to cause a DQ. And presumably, Punk wouldn't be DQ'd for attacking a manager so, like I said: I dunno. But it was a really solid 10 minute match in the same vein as Punk/Fandango from Friday (in that you got sucked in despite the fact that Punk was the heavy/inevitable favorite)...
 
After the Match: luckily, WWE didn't give us any time to ponder the screwy (non-)finish. As soon as the bell rang, Brock Lesnar's music played, and Brock came on down to the ring. Punk stood at the ready, but just as Brock got in the ring, Axel recovered enough to yank Punk out of the ring and start peppering him with blows.
 
Brock was about to join in to make it 2-on-1, but Punk hit a lightning quick GTS on Axel, and took the fight to Brock. In the one-on-one brawl, Punk held his own with punches and knees and all manner of strikes. Lesnar responded to the striking with wrestling! He hit a sick-looking overhead suplex on Punk to take control.
 
Punk had a brief moment of hope when he was able to get his hands ona chair and use it against Brock... but then he repeated the same mistake he made multiple times earlier inthe night, and went after Heyman. Paul was able to retreat and beg off long enough for Brock to come to his rescue. Brock administered an additional beatdown, ending in an F-5.
 
Real nice segment... the good match, and then the Lesnar brawl was icing on the cake. Punk was able to hang with Brock during the initial punchy-kicky, which makes him look strong; Brock still beat the piss out of him but only with a distraction from Heyman, which makes him strong but heelish. In other words, pitch perfect, and it adds to my anticipation for SummerSlam...
 
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Backstage: Renee Young is joined by Lesnar/Heyman/Axel. Lesnar starts off by saying Punk's nothing, and that he (Lesnar) is not just the Beast, but also the Best. Then, in a unexpectedly hilarious segue, he says "Paul, say something stupid." So Paul does... something seemingly REALLY stupid. He challenges CM Punk to a one on one match next week on RAW. Huh. One can only assume it's a trap. But one can only assume Punk's gonna accept, anyway.
 
KOFI KINGSTON vs. FANDANGO (w/ Summer Rae)
 
Kofi's back from an arm injury that required surgery. If you care about such things, he's got new ring gear, including the full length tights, instead of the man-panties. But he's also got all the same energy, high flying, and sizzle as ever...
 
Fandango did try to slow things down at the start, with various bits of prancing and mincing, but Kofi was able to heat it up pretty quickly, on the grounds that this was a super time-compressed match. In fact, it was sort of like Fandango's stalling was his "beatdown," and then Kofi fired up to stop that, and it was immediate End Game.
 
About 90 seconds of non-stop counters and reversals, all very fst paced and exciting, then Kofi landed the Trouble in Paradise out of nowhere.
 
YOUR WINNER: Kofi Kingston, via pinfall, in 3 mintues. They're just running match after match out there tonight... and while this one teased us with an exciting closing sequence, there's something to be said for turning two of these 3 minute matches into one 6 minute match that might actual make an impression on viewers. This is one I'd like to have seen get expanded, not only because it showed promise, but because it'd have made Kofi's return seem like a slightly bigger deal. As it is, it came off more like an afterthought.
 
Backstage: Triple H is talking on the phone, when Steph runs in, all crying and hysterical, just like all strong, intelligent, driven women executives should be. Way to set the example, honey! Why so sobby? Because she just talked to her dad, and he's more upset than ever at Daniel Bryan, and it's all her fault because the Corporate Makeover didn't work. Or something. HHH consoles her briefly before launching into a tirade about how Vince's days running the company are over. The once mighty creative genius is long gone, replaced by an out of touch old man who makes decisions based on his own silly whims. HHH promises to keep the ship afloat, including doing whatever is necessary to stop Vince from interferring with the Cena/Bryan match at SummerSlam. This seems to have a nominally soothing effect on Steph.
 
Meanwhile, I find myself still sort of annoyed that the McMahon Family Power Struggle is somehow being (unnecessarily) woven into Bryan/Cena. I tend to be unamused by most things involving Vince, anymore, but if this must exist as some kind of final kiss-off (sending his character into semi-retirement), that can be done as its own thing, can't it? Or as a thing that doesn't leech off of a story that's just fine on it's own, at least?
 
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THE USOS vs. ANTONIO CESARO/JACK SWAGGER (w/ Zeb Colter)
 
Prematch cheap heat spiel by Zeb ensures the fans are firmly behind the Usos... well, sort of. They chant "Go, Pack, Go" early on, because Packers > Usos, apparently.
 
Pure formula, here, but really well executed. When the Real Americans took control, they had a ton of tandem moves that I don't remember them using before. Then again, when was the last time they had a televised tag match of substance? Probably a month or so, which is plenty of time to learn new ways to work together. Most of the moves seemed to have Swagger as the set-up man, with Cesaro delivering the main blow (like Swagger giving Cesaro a boost to add extra oomph to his double stomach stomp, or Swagger lifting and dropping an Uso directly into an Elevation Uppercut).
 
Good stuff, but of course, it didn't last forever, as Ricky Uso finally made the tag to Robert Uso. House o' fire sequence, then it breaks down into a Pier Four Brawl. Usos seem to be getting the better of it, with Cesaro about to get Superfly Splashed... but then Zeb creates a distraction, Swagger pearl harbors an Uso, and Cesaro immediately follows up with the Neutralizer.
 
Your Winners: the Real Americans, via pinfall, in 5-6 minutes. Right here is all the evidence that you need that there's a substantive difference between what you can do in a 3 minute match vs. a 5-6 minute one. This one actually felt like something. Not anything special, mind you, but it had enough heft and substance that there was a certain flow and narrative to latch on to.
 
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DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. BIG E. LANGSTON (w/ AJ Lee)
 
Classic Speed vs. Power showdown to start. It should be noted that E. is not unspeedy... the ability to "feed" a fast-paced babyface requires a certain quickness, and Langston's got it in spades. Time will tell if he can get stretched out to the point where 20 minute matches are in his repretoire, but for now, in these shorter showcases, his athleticism is pretty amazing for a huge man.
 
Anyway, power eventually wins out over speed after a stiff-ass clothesline outside the ring. Big E. seems to focus his attention on Ziggler's lower back and ribs. Remember last time, when I chided Big E. for using the 2nd most lame move in wrestling, the bearhug, but noted "Hey, at least it's not the Abominable Stretch." Well, tonight, there was no bearhug. Instead, he tried to wear Ziggler out with.... wait for it.... wait for it...
 
The Abominable Stretch. Oy. That'll learn me to chime in about the very first submission moves that I stopped believing in while I was still in elementary school, on the grounds that only a 6-year-old would find them convincing.
 
Anyway, Big E. decided to speed things up, and went for his big double-rope-run splash (a la the Ultimate Warrior), but Ziggler moved. Before Dolph could get on a roll, Langston bailed out of the ring and consulted with AJ...
 
So Kaitlyn came out to "counter" AJ (or something), and the women wound up in the ring, getting ready to brawl. For some reason, Dolph decided to play peacemaker, and held the two apart. Bad idea. I mean, (1) it's a catfight; you do not stop catfights, and (2) you forgot to pay attention to the large angry man you're wrestling against. Big E. immediately snagged the distracted Ziggler and hit the Big Ending.
 
Your Winner: Big E. Langston, via pinfall, in 4 minutes flat. Good start, boring middle, cheap finish. But the match wasn't the point here... the point here was (I'm assuming) setting the stage for SummerSlam to be a mixed tag match with AJ&E vs. Dolph and Kaitlyn, which is just dandy by me.
 
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It Must Be My Imagination Again: it's 10:50pm, with a 6-man tag main event scheduled, and we're wasting our time talking to the "stars" of a USA Network "reality" show? I refuse to believe this really happened.
 
JOHN CENA/DANIEL BRYAN/RANDY ORTON vs.
 
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JOHN CENA/DANIEL BRYAN/RANDY ORTON vs. THE SHIELD
 
OK, so not only did we waste time with the reality show interview, then the good guys all got full individual entrances, and then we broke for ads, and then we come back and the Shield get THEIR full entrance, too?
 
It's shortly after 11pm when the bell rings to start the match. Even accounting for Cena being banged up (he showed off a nastily swollen elbow earlier), he can be "hidden" and this could have easily been a kick-ass 15-20 minute main event... but I guess that ain't happening..
 
All three good guys got one pass through the ring to dominate Rollins, but then Rollins got a tag, and the Shield took over. Bryan, naturally, took the role of Face in Peril. That lasted 3 minutes, while the Shield did their standard excellent job of cuttingtheringinhalfery.
 
Bryan eventually broke free and started crawling to his corner, but Ambrose decided to get in the ring and distract the ref. Bryan made the tag to Cena, but the ref turned around and disallowed it. While the ref is herding Cena out of the ring, the Shield swarm, and it turns into a Pier Sixer.
 
Cena powders out after Reigns tackles him out of the ring. Orton powders out when Ambrose whips Bryan into Orton at Warp 7. Now, the Shield have Bryan 3-on-1... instead of heeding the ref's 5-count, they just keep pounding away on Bryan, until the ref has no choice but to call for the bell.
 
YOUR WINNERS: Bryan/Cena/Orton, via DQ, in 5 minutes. Yep, a 5 minute main event, with a cheap non-finish to boot. Wacky. And probably not the best time management... I mean, if Curtis Axel is in the night's only match to go longer than 6 minutes, you've probably made a mistake or three in laying out the show's format sheet. Oh well... I guess it's not a huge issue, since the non-finish was superceded by what happened....
 
After the Match: Cena got in the ring and used his superpowers to save Bryan, and then the two cleared the ring. The Shield retreated, and were watching from the stage when, BAM!, Orton took out Bryan with an RKO out of nowhere. So, ummmm, is Orton really dumb enough to think that it was Bryan's fault when the two collided earlier int he match? Or is he just a complete prick?
 
Don't answer that.
 
Because Orton pretty much answers it for us when he RKOs Cena, too. Cena did not collide with Orton at any point in the match, so we are left to assume his outburst here is the result of his own innate douchebaggery.
 
Then, all of a sudden, Orton has an idea. Yes, even a dipshit of epic proportions can have one of those every now annd again... to wit: Orton has noticed that Cena is down, and there's a red briefcase sitting over at the timekeeper's station.
 
Orton goes over, grabs the case, grabs the ref, and is about to cash in.... and the crowd, it should be noted, are going apeshit... but then the Shield stop watching, and saunter back down to the ring. They get in the ring. Rollins and Ambrose lift Cena up, and Reigns cuts him in half with a Spear. Then a Triple Powerbomb for Bryan.
 
Orton, clutching his briefcase, just stands at ringside, and watches. Instead of cashing in tonight, he's determined that watching both Cena and Bryan get their asses kicked is more fun. That'll make them even more ripe for the pickin's at SummerSlam. We fade to black on both the Shield and Orton looking pretty happy about the fate of Cena and Bryan...
 
And so ends the show... nothing at all horrible about tonight's effort, but man alive... there sure wasn't a whole lot to sink your teeth into, either.
 
Well, for ME to sinnk MY teeth into, anyway. I guess the big story was what the did with Orton... interjecting him more directly into the WWE Title picture, while leaning him slightly heel. Nicely done, and to some, it adds another welcome dimension. Me, I'm not big on Orton, and sort of wanted Cena/Bryan to be left alone to play out as its own thing. Now, you've got both Orton AND the McMahons hovering, which is probably one too many added dimensions for my taste.
 
The Punk/Axel match was probably the night's best, and I'll admit that Punk/Lesnar brawl was well done. But the former is damning faint praise, and the latter only had an incremental effect on my already high interest in the Punk/Lesnar PPV match.
 
Nothing else even remotely stands out. Kofi's return got buried as an afterthought; RVD/ADR had another too-short throwaway match. I think WWE went a little too far tonight in trimming a bunch of things down in order to make them fit, instead of focusing on a smaller number of things and presenting them in a way that matters.
 
It's weird; 90% of the time, you get the impression that WWE doesn't know how to fill 5 hours a week, and the result is a ton of filler and fluff. Then, for some reason, tonight's show does a 180, and had so much stuff that you would have needed a 4th hour of RAW to pace it correctly.
 
Oh well... consulting my Inner Pyro, it looks like we're going to grade this one a C-. See you next week, kids...


  
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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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