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The U
November 25, 2013

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com


Alright, kids...
By necessity, we're changing things up a bit here, tonight. You see, the Beloved Dayton Flyers are facing the hated (and 12th ranked) Jesuits of Gonzaga tonight at midnight. This is part of the Maui Invitational Tournament, of which UD is a former Champion (2003).
As a result, I won't have time after RAW ends to compile my thoughts. I'll be too Flyered Up. So I'll have to do that which I despise: I'll have to watch live, and type as I go.


It kind of takes away from the fun of watching, for me, since I can't just sit back and synthesize. But on the other hand, it's going to add massively to my fun as I watch a UD game, against a ranked opponent, that won't end till 2:30am or so. Seems like a reasonable enough trade-off to me.

See if you can spot the difference, as I sit down at 8pm, zero DVR timeshit, and try to tell you the Story of RAW.....


No opening video or recap of Survivor Series, or anything, just slam cut to the arena, where Randy Orton is on his way to the ring to do something that's always a significant challenge for him: talk.

As if on cue, Randall says he's owed and apology from the "WW Universe." Yep, that's our Randy! He's not exactly clear on why he's owed an apology, and just skips ahead to the part where he introduces Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, his dear friends.

HHH congratulates Orton on his big win, saying that's the sort of performance he expected when he hand-picked Orton as the future of WWE some 10 years ago. Steph twists things a few degrees, taking credit for "motivating" Orton last week on RAW, which only serves to upset Orton.

As Orton claims HHH and Steph interfered when he was on the cusp of an untainted win (note: this is demonstrably false), the crowd starts chanting "DAN YIL BRY YAN." HHH gets a little testy himself, pointing out that Orton was on the cusp of unconsciousness when he and Steph made an appearance at Survivor Series.

The crowd, showing where their interest lies, kept chanting for Bryan.

Orton gets all shouty, and re-asserts his status as giant-slayer, face of the WWE, and so forth, and he did it all by himself, and respect him, dammit!

At this point, John Cena's music hits, and he gets to the ring, and sarcastically congratulates Orton on all his accomplishments. To ensure that the fans are on his side (or moreso than usual), he references the Daniel Bryan chants, and says that the reason the fans are chanting for Bryan, the reason they're chanting "YES!" is because they're tired of all the contrived administrative BS... they want new ideas, they want fresh matches.

And Cena has an idea that fits that bill: for 11 years, there have been two champions. And the time to have one world champ is now. He challenges Orton to a match where both the WWE and World Heavyweight titles are on the line.

Orton flat out declines, and gets upset when HHH and Steph seem to be considering it as a possibility. Steph even admits that they've already talked about doing this exact thing. Orton blows his stack, and claims this is some sort of conspiracy against him.

But HHH tells him to shut up and grow up. Times, they are a changin', and as a result, HHH declares that at the upcoming TLC PPV, they will hang both titles above the ring, and the man who can climb a ladder and grab them will be both the WWE AND the World Heavyweight Champion.

Cena is happy. Orton is pouty. Play HHH's music, as he exits the ring, proud of his handiwork.

Quick Bumper: we learn that our two big matches tonight will be GOldust/Cody/Rey Mysterio vs. the Shield, and CM Punk/Daniel Bryan vs. the entire Wyatt Family (in a 2-on-3 handicap match).



During ring intros, the announcers put over Reigns over for his impressive Survivor Series performance, including the tidbit that he tied a Survivor Series record by eliminating 4 men in one match.

As soon as the bell rings, the Shield swarms, and gain the edge by causing Cody and Rey to powder out, and then isolating on Goldust. Call it an Insta-Morton~!

The Shield make one full roation through their line-up, starting with Reigns, then Ambrose, and finally Rollins. Then Reigns back for a second go-round. About three minutes in, Reigns is standing tall, and Goldust is in a heap, so we break for....


Back, and Goldust is firing up against Ambrose, culminating in a DDT. A hot tag to Rey Mysterio. Rollins also tags in, and the pace picks up, big time. Mysterio rattles of a bunch of moves, but when he sets up for the (619), Rollins stands up, they do a quick criss-cross, and then they crash and burn, when each goes for a cross body.

Both men tag out, and it's Cody and Ambrose as the legal men, but it quickly breaks down into a Pier Sixer. Reigns is the difference maker, taking out both Rey and Goldust with massive spears. Cody gets distracted by Rollins, allowing Ambrose to sneak up from behind and hit his STO Takedown thingy.

Your Winners: the Shield, via pinfall, in 10 minutes. I sort of thought the "Insta-Morton" thing at the start was merely the first layer of a few escalating Face in Peril sequences, but it turns out, they really were just looking to time compress things. Oh well. A little short, but still damned good. Anyone looking for friction among the Shield will have to look again next week: this week, Reigns was perfectly happy to dominate, and let Ambrose pick up the pinfall in the end.

Fan Vote: Sandow and Ziggler are fighting again this week, and again are going to be saddled with a gimmick that doesn't exactly suit either of them... Street Fight, Hardcore Rules, or Lumberjack Match.



Miz introduces his guest, Michael Strahan. Except not. It's TItus O'Neil, with some tooth-black. The crowd catches on and boos, mostly.

Those who don't catch on quickly enough when "Strahan" sucks up to Miz, and then declares that he's a huge fan of TItus O'Neil.

So the real Strahan shows up. He does compliment Titus on his suit and his overall physical skills, but then craps all over Miz's skills as a comedian/host.

Before Miz can stage a comeback, Strahan says he's got a big announcement... tonight's main event will be Randy Orton/Alberto del Rio vs. John Cena/Big Show.

With that business out of the way, Miz speaks up again, and says that Strahan is in HIS world, now, and if he wants to stay in his ring, he'd better get ready to fight.

Somehow, this turns into a Hip Toss Challenge. I didn't exactly follow the narrative, but I guess it doesn't matter. It's a celebrity "wrestling!"

Miz tries to hip toss Strahan, and fails, when Strahan blocks it. Titus mocks Miz, and offers to show how it's down. TItus fails, too. Miz asks for another chance, but Strahan counters it, and hip tosses Miz. Titus mocks Miz, and wants to do the "millions of dollars" dance with Strahan. Strahan plays along at first, but then hip tosses Titus. Now Miz mocks Titus, and apparently everybody's event, because Miz puts Strahan over, and all 3 hug to close out the segment.

So yeah, that happened. I don't know why, it didn't make a lick of narrative sense, and when a hip toss is the only move performed, it's also not remotely exciting. Lawrence Taylor, Strahan ain't.



Langston and Axel kick things off. For all Axel's indignant fury at losing his title, he's still no match for Langston's power. Big E. dominates until Ryback blind-tags himself into the match, and clubbers Langston from behind while he's still focused on Axel.

The two former Heyman Guys cut the ring in half, and make frequent tags for a mini-mid-match beatdown. Langston gets separation after a wicked belly-to-belly on Ryback. Double tags, and Henry goes to town on Axel, including another JYD THUMP~!

Ryback makes a token effort at interference, Langston dispatches him with the Engulfening, and Henry hits the World's Strongest Slam.

Your Winners: Henry and Langston, via pinfall, in about 4 minutes flat. Not much of a match, but effective in terms of re-intro'ing Henry to the TV audience that didn't buy the PPV, and planting the seeds for a possible recurring "World's Strongest Team."


REALITY DIVAS vs. DIVA DIVAS (7-on-7 Survivor Series Rematch)

Recapping this one last night was enough of a chore, so I'm not gonna do it a second time. I'll just sit back and wait until we get to something resembling End Game, and pick it up there...

So stuff, stuff, stuff, and they manage to do 10 eliminations in 6 minutes, and it's down to both Bellas and The One against Summer Rae. The fans actually seem to rally behind Summer a bit, until she instigates a Dance Off, and proceeds to do the worst "Worm" ever, which turns the fans against her.

Then Nikki sneaks up and hits the Drop Down Torture Rack on Summer.

Your Survivors: Nikki, Brie, and The One, in 8 minutes. Even more compressed than last night, and even more pointless, since the finish had nothing to do with the actual balance of power in the divas division (at least Nattie beating AJ at the PPV had title implications).


In Two Weeks: it's the Slammy Awards. Too bad the Slammys haven't really been worth getting fired up about since the 90s.

Vote Results: before Jerry Lawler can reveal the results of the fan vote, Damien Sandow interrupts, and objects to being forced to compete under Circus Rules. He is, afterall, a refined athlete, and should not be subject to the whims of half-wit cretins. "Boo," says Long Island. "I concur," says The Rick. Then Lawler reveals it'll be a Hardcore Rules match.

DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. DAMIEN SANDOW ("Hamptons Hardcore" Match)

In keeping with the "localized hardcore" rules -- as they did last week in Nashville -- the ring is quickly filled with golf clubs, tennis rackets, yachting oars, and other stuff of that ilk.

As the two swing clubs at each other, the crowd fires up a "We Want Ryder, woo woo woowoowoo" chant. Sorry 'bout yer damned luck, Long Island.

When the match spills outside, Dolph finds a decided non-Hamptons item: a trashcan. He uses it against Sandow, and then dumps Sandow into the timekeeper's pod. Sandow debilitated, Ziggler celebrating, so we break for....


Back, and Sandow has turned the tables, somehow. His big move, shortly after the break, is an Elbow of Disdain after draping a hated Islanders jersey on top of Ziggler's carcass. But that's about it for Sandow, as Ziggler rolls out of the ring, and when Sandow follows, Dolph catches him with a fire extinguisher.

Back in the ring, Dolph dumps out a garbage can (full of suspiciously sanitary-looking garbage), and hits a neckbreaker, with Sandow landing on the garbage. Sandow powders out, and when Ziggler follows, Sandow catches him with a steel chair.

Sandow chucks both Ziggler and the chair into the ring. Sandow starts lining up for a tennis racket shot, but Ziggler catches him and DDTs him onto the chair. Convincing 2 count on that one.

Ziggler whiffs on a Stinger Splash, and Sandow whacks him with the oar. Then, he immediately follows up by hitting the You're Welcome Slam onto a garbage can.

Your Winner: Damien Sandow, via pinfall, in about 8 minutes. I still vote that this sort of match isn't really the best use of either of these guys... I mean, they're fun and all, but you usually bust out the stips to hide the limitations of less talented guys (or as a ramp-up to a long-standing feud). Plus, adding the comedy elements sort of undermines the idea of presenting the new Super Intense Sandow.

Backstage: Strahan and Santino are talking about.... something.... maybe dance moves? Then Erick Rowan (in sheep mask) shows up, and Santino freaks out and leaves. Rowan offers Strahan a sheep mask, and Strahan takes it and puts it on. Then Rowan leaves, and Santino returns, suggesting that Strahan take an extra mask for Kelly.

The hell? Even more confoundingly pointless than the Hip Toss Challenge. Maybe Strahan just offering to do a skit with another former NFL'er? [Rowan went to a couple different training camps, but I don't think he ever played regular season games.]



For the second night in a row, Renee Young gets a shot at live, in-ring duty. I believe this is a dandy trend.

She introduces CM Punk first, then Daniel Bryan. Then asks a basic "So, what's up?" question.

Punk launches into a spirited tirade of yes/no questions. Spoiler: all the answers are "YES!" and supplied by Bryan. "Did we survive Harper and Roawn last night?" And "Is the deck stacked even more against us tonight?" Even "Isn't it weird that all three of us have mics and Renee's not asking us any questions?"

Then he caps it with a no-fun-and-games rant about how it doesn't matter how much you stack the deck, how many bodies you put in the other corner (he even name drops Colt Cabana), because he and Bryan will still find a way to win. Because they are the Beard and the Best, and the Greatest of All Teams.

Bryan takes a quick turn to reinforce that message, and closes with the not-quite rhetorical question "What time is it?" Punk answers "Clobberin' time."

Crowd erupts, but then go silent with the lights go out. The lamp flickers on. They're here. Lamp blown out, and the Wyatts begin their entrance. Looks like the handicap match is happening now. Except, it's never "now." It's after these....


CM PUNK vs. THE WYATT FAMILY (2-on-3 Handicap Match)

Punk and Rowan start. Major OO Gold Stars, as Punk and Bryan start by IMMEDIATELY going after Rowan's hamstring/thigh, the same as they did the night before. I loves the continuity.

Rowan has to tag Harper, but for the time being, Punk and Bryan retain command, by focusing on the legs. But once Harper gets some separation, and tags in Bray, the heels take control. Bray dominates Bryan (the story being that he's the freshest of the four), and the Family proceed to cut the ring in half.

The beatdown only lasts 2-3 minutes, though, and then Rowan whiffs on a big boot. Bryan was only a decoy face in peril, and makes the tag to Punk, who rattles of a bunch of moves on Rowan, capped off by a Macho Man Elbow. All of 5 minutes into the match, Punk signals for the GTS. Dum dum.

That causes Bryan and Harper to come in to distract Punk, and while the ref is dealing with them, Rowan recovers and pearl harbors Punk. Then he presses Punk over his head and tosses him to the floor. In other words, a perfect spot for....


Back, and Punk is now firmly entrenched as our for-real Face in Peril. Frequent tags and solid cuttingtheringinhalfery allow the Wyatts to stay in control for several minutes. Included is Rowan apparently taking a note from OO: when he cinches in OO's 2nd least favorite hold, the bearhug, he doesn't just cinch it in... he ragdolls Punk, and that actually looks pretty good.

But then he settles in for the standard bearhug, and Punk powers out, and gets separation, and makes the hhot tag to Bryan. Goat o' Fire, including all the YES! Kicks you can handle, and a Flying Goat Dive onto Bray.

When Harper short circuits the flurry with a Michinoku Driver, Punk has to make the save, and it turns into a Pier Fiver. In an odd and incongruous decision, the ref decides he's not putting up with any of this Pier Five happy crappy.

Your Winners: no one, via double DQ/no decision, in about 12 minutes. Another one that came up a bit too short to really cross the line into Really Good territory. The non-finish didn't help, either. Still: pretty much the opposite of bad. Solid while it lasted.

Injury update: Harper is, obviously, not hurt all that bad after his awkward knee twist last night on PPV. This is a good thing.

After the Match: the Wyatts easily won the 3-on-2 brawl, with Bryan eating the Sister Abigail, and Punk taking Harper's lariat. Then, it got interesting...

The Wyatts hoisted up Bryan and "kidnapped" him.

When Punk got his bearings, and tried to help, he got to the ramp where he was Speared out of his f'n boots by Roman Reigns. Rude. The rest of the Shield materialized, and in the end, Punk took the Triple Powerbomb.

So... Bryan's abducted by the Wyatts, and Punk's targeted by the Shield. 3-on-2 just became 6-on-2. Or two discrete instances of 3-on-1. Curious and curiouser...



Another rematch from last night, presumably to establish Miz-as-heel for the majority of WWE fans who didn't see it.

They start out both offering handshakes, and instead, they simultaneously slap each other. Cute. Then it's into some back and forthy, including Kofi hitting a hip toss, and pausing to mock Miz, because Strahan. I guess. That's what we call "a stretch," Kofi.

Kofi generally wins the early mat wrestling until Miz is able to land a borderline groin kick. Mini beatdown, 80% of which is a chinlock. Then Kofi fires up to mostly silence. Even the Boom Drop gets nothing.

Miz counters the Trouble in Paradise with a Figure Four. Kofi counters that with an SOS. Only a 2. Another TiP attempt, and Miz turns it into a crucifix pinning combo.

Your Winner: Miz, via pinfall, in 5 minutes, tops. Pretty much an EXACT do-over of last night, right down to Miz winning, but only barely, with a cheap roll-up type finish. Still, it's Miz as a heel, which we've all been begging for, so I won't cast stones. Yet.


Prelude to Something: So, R-Truth is in the ring (in street clothes), and 3MB are standing outside the ring, apparently ready to wrestle. Let's see where this goes...

Truth says he had a brainstorm, and got permission from Brodus Clay to try it. So... with no further ado, accompanied by the Funkadactyls, is Eggsavier Woods.

Gotta admit, the entrance suits Eggsavier. Except for the part where he and his giant afro got in the way of Ass Voltron. Tighten that up, Eggs.

EGGSAVIER WOODS (w/ Truth and Funkadactyls) vs. HEATH SLATER (w/ McIntyre/Mahal)

We're all adults here. Let's not pretend this is something this wasn't.

Your Winner: Eggsavier Woods, via pinfall, in 2 minutes. Woods used the same combo of moves to win as he did last week, but this week, Cole neglected to call them by name. This is a step in the right direction, as those names suck.

Also of note: if they just handed Woods Brodus' entrance AND his women, I sense a future endeavoring in the offing. I don't necessarily support it, but I sense it.


Backstage: Michael Strahan gets to flirt with a bunch of divas, making the aside comment "I should come back more often." Then Goldust appears and delivers one of his inhale-chomps, and Strahan freaks out.

That would have been a GREAT spot for Ron Simmons. Alas....



After entrances and all, the bell finally rings at 10:50pm (eastern), so here's another one that'll apparently be time-compressed past the point of really standing out...

Kinda surprised that WWE didn't bother trying to sell the "punt" (no matter how extra-dainty it actually looked), as Big Show is at full strength. In fact, he starts for his team, and immediately sets about dominating Alberto. He even makes sure Alberto gets Matching Welts (Orton's chest looks like ground beef), with a series of SHHHHH! Chops.

Then Orton tags in, and gets MORE chops. If it were anyone else, I'd almost certainly feel sorry for him.

Show dumps Orton out of the ring, and the break in the action is our excuse to watch our final...


Back, and John Cena has transformed into our Face in Peril during the commercials. Even though I am -- for once -- watching live, I did not engage the WWE App, on the grounds that I was keeping eyes on the Baylor/Chaminade Maui Game. So I have no idea how said transformation happened. Priorities~!

Cena gets some separation at the 9 minute mark with a DDT on Orton. But Alberto snuffs out that hope spot. More beatdown by Alberto, until del Rio whiffs a Bossman Straddle. NOW Cena makes the hot tag.

Del Rio can't make a tag of his own, and takes a beating until he can manage a sneaky chopblock. Show's chopped down to size, and Alberto hits his low superkick. Show's in trouble, and Orton tags in to pile on.

Orton hits a few moves, but fails to keep Show down for the count, so he tags del Rio, who is extremely agressive with the kicks, to the point that Show can't stand up. Trainers show up, and NOW the story from last night kicks in: Show took the "punt" (a dainty, dainty punt), and is now suffering the delayed consequneces.

Show refuses to quick, though. Even after a DDT by Orton, Show kicks out. Orton coils for an RKO, but Show cuts him off with a Spear. Both men down, both men make tags.

Cena and del Rio do exactly one quick exchange, and then Cena locks in the SSTF.

Your Winners: Cena and Big Show, via submission, at 15 minutes. Not bad, at all. But it sort of backed into being Match of the Night by default, since nothing else was all that outstanding.

After the Match: trainers are checking on Big Show at ringside, and Cena goes over to that side of the ring to see what's up. Meantime, Alberto recovers and sneak attacks Cena, and tries to cinch in the cross armbreaker. Cena counters with an F-U... but as soon as he lands it, Orton wallops Cena from behind with the WWE Title belt.

Then, Orton grabs Cena's World Title belt, and poses with both, as the show fades to black.

And so ends the show. Not a show that  really felt balanced and carefully-honed... but the takeaway here is that OMG, AFTER 11 YEARS OF THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM WE'RE UNIFYING THE TITLES.

Apparently, in WWE Think, this is enough of a headline that they could get away with the rest of the show just being cobbled together, at times, with a palpable sense of randomness.

None of the Strahan bits really had any purpose, nor did shoehorning in the diva rematch. The Henry and Miz matches were also essentially do-overs, but they served to emphasize points that the vast majority of WWE fans missed (since only about 20% of fans watch the PPVs), so I guess that's forgiveable, but still....

The sheer "HERE, watch this. Now this! And this!" vibe was out of control, and created a tangible sense that the in-ring action was getting short-changed. Neither the Shield nor the Wyatt matches came anywhere near meeting reasonable expectations, given what those guys have delivered int he recent past. The Show/Cena vs. Orton/del Rio match sneaking in the back door as likely match of the night tells you everything you need to know about tonight's in ring quality.
On the basis of this complete lack of flow or balance, the best I can do for a letter grade -- after consulting my Inner Pyro -- is a C+.
See you next Monday, kids.

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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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