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The Hounds of Conscience?
March 16, 2014

by PyroFalkon
Master of the PyroFalkon Multimedia Empire, Incorporated
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You know what's awkward? Bitching about an illness while a coworker has a worse one. It's one of those things that just has no good solution in social etiquette... that, or I don't know the social rules. Then again, social rules dictate that you eat hamburgers and pizzas with a knife and fork, so those people can go to hell.
What's my point? That I've got the worst stomach flu I've had in my entire life, and this is as sick as I've been since I had bronchitis back in 2012. I've worn a track from my bedroom to my bathroom, and my body is pretty much rejecting everything I put into it. My head is telling me to just go back to bed, but the recap calls, and it doesn't require a ton of physical effort.

Yet, at the same time, I feel like an asshole, because while I'm here self-medicating with off-brand Pepto Bismol, Rick is still in the middle of recovering from his partial Whipple. Intellectually, I know that pain, illness, tragedy, sorrow, and even happiness are all relative. Just because a kid is starving in Africa doesn't mean we don't feel hunger. And Rick isn't the type to tag an Ed Note to the precap and go, “Well, I just survived cancer, so shut the fuck up, pussy!,” mostly because he doesn't drop f-bombs so much anymore. [Ed. Note: Also, typing "Ed Notes" requires effort. Painful, excruciating effort. So I'd have to be a masochist to bother. Oh.... ummm.... waitaminute....]

It would be one thing if I colored every paragraph with details of the flu and how you all should so totally feel sorry for me, but I'm not doing that. I always want these precaps to be on current events, but the only current event that's remotely appropriate for this column is the fact that my colon has turned into a Slip 'N Slide. I immediately hate myself for that joke.

Ugh. Let's just get to the recap.

Segment 1: Triple H is out to start the show tonight to follow up on his total caving to Daniel Bryan on Monday. Trips hits the ring without Stephanie McMahon, though he has a partial smile on his face. Hm...

Trips grabs a mic and says that he's happy that we're happy that Monday happened. But now that we've had our moment, it's our fault that DB isn't here tonight. It'll also be our fault that the “Yes Movement” will be ended harshly on WrestleMania. The only reason it grew in the first place was because Trips protected DB since SummerSlam, keeping him as a “plucky underdog” rather than throwing DB into the main event, where the A+ players of the company would have beaten the crap out of him.

Trips concludes that the reason we like DB is that he is like all of us: at the end of the day, we hope the underdog can succeed, and that we will all succeed; but we are simply not good enough to do so. Ouch... that was right in my balls. That's how I actually feel about myself most of the time, that I'm simply not good enough to succeed (specifically the book I'm trying to get published and my YouTube channel that I'm trying to gain subscribers). Ugh.

Trips says that he wanted to let us keep all of our hopes and dreams alive, but now he's going to obliterate it all at WrestleMania, so there.

And in the meantime, he's got other business. He calls Damien Sandow to the ring, then tells him to “refrain from your usual verbose justifications,” then turns to the hard camera and stage whipsers, “I just told him to 'shut up.'” Ha! Even though he was insulting the fans' intelligence!

Anyway, Trips is pissy that, on Monday, he ordered Damien to the ring to start a match during the Occupy RAW thing, but Damien had backed away from the horde that DB had assembled in it. Trips says that it doesn't take a Mensa candidate to know that if you don't do your job, there will be consequences, unless you apologize. Sandow indeed looks Trips straight in the eye and does apologize, promising that such a thing won't happen again.

Trips shakes his hand and says no-harm, no-foul. Oh, and your match is next, so good luck!

...And Sandow is facing someone in The Shield. Oh boy. Even Sandow knows he's in for some problems, but he's not backing down.

Segment 2 [Singles Match]: Seth Rollins (w/ The Shield) defeats Damien Sandow by pin. Back from ads and the match is in progress. Sandow is basically doing the heel beatdown sequence, but his body language is good and subtle; he's trying to fight quickly so the other members of The Shield don't get involved.

It's not enough, as Rollins takes control by slipping a charge and throwing Sandow face-first into the middle turnbuckle. When Rollins tries a top rope something-or-other, Sandow slides out of the ring on the south side. He seems to consider leaving entirely, but Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose flank his position. As Sandow tries to decide what to do, Rollins flies through the ring with a suicide dive to take Sandow down. Rollins flings him back in, and as Sandow tries to get up, Rollins hits the opposite ropes then comes back with a jumping curb stomp. Damn. That, surprisingly, gets the three.

Post-Segment 2: The Shield celebrates Rollins's easy win, and they're all smiles and high-fives. Rollins leads the Shield fist-pose, and Reigns joins in immediately. Ambrose starts too, but then doesn't. Is The Shield breaking apart after all?

Nah. Ambrose just exits the ring to grab Sandow and throw him back in the ring, so the heels can bond by beating the piss out of a common enemy. How nice. They top it off with a triple powerbomb, then do the Shield Fist Pose over Sandow's meat-sack. And Ambrose is most into the pose, even rocking out to their theme music while doing so.

Segment 3: Replay of RAW where Hulk Hogan announced the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania. Both guys in the next match will be in it.

Segment 4 [Singles Match]: Big E defeats Fandango (w/ Summer Rae) by pin. Too short to be anything special. Fandango with early, roughneck offense that surprisingly works immediately. That's cut off presently with a belly-to-belly suplex and a splash, but Fandango gains control again with a kick to Langston's knee. He can't maintain it though, as he eats a clothesline followed by a Big Ending. The entire match lasted under 90 seconds.

Segment 5: RAW abridged replay of Paul Heyman's promo with The Undertaker. This goes right to Bad News Barrett, who tells us that The Streak is so totally going to come to an end. Because of that, our kids will cry, which will keep us up, which will make us tired the next day, which will make us fall asleep during an important business meeting, which means we're going to be fired.

Um... what?

Segment 6 [Tag Match]: The Rhodes Brothers defeat The Real Americans (w/ Zeb Colter) by pin. Standard feeling out to start, but it's not long before Cody hits his five moves of doom to clean house. Both heels get dumped outside the ring, and I figured that meant we'd have the “everyone is down so let's go to ads” spot. Cody seemed to agree and wanted a vaulting press, but Cesaro caught him in midair, then dead-lifted him up to an Alabama Press Slam, then finished the slam into the apron. Good lord. A vaulting double stomp to the face took us to the actual ads.

Back, and the heels have control. Cody gets a hope but it's cut off by Cesaro, who delivers a Giant Swing... to only eight rotations, which seemed to stun the crowd into silence, probably that it didn't last into the 20s. Cesaro then tagged out, but Swagger whiffed on his attempted Swagger Bomb. Cody's hope was instantly snuffed out again when Swagger tagged out and Cesaro stomped the piss out of him.

Swagger then tagged himself in, to Cesaro's annoyance. Cesaro then tagged himself in, and hit a delayed vertical suplex. Then Swagger tagged himself again. This time the heels just argued, giving Cody a chance to get to his corner. The heels saw this and Swagger forearmed Goldust off the apron. Cody slipped out of Swagger's follow-up attack, then went for the hot tag, but Goldust was still down at ringside.

Cody squared himself anyway, and when Swagger charged with a punch, Cody countered it into a backslide... and got him!

Post-Segment 6: The faces had zero time to celebrate as the heels beat the shit out of the faces anyway. The Usos tore ass to the ring to make the save, and the Real Americans just bailed without trying to get involved with the champs.

Segment 7: RAW recap of the Wyatt Family blathering against John Cena and Hulk Hogan. Thanks to some heavy editing, odd art filters, and piano music, the whole sequence was creepy as shit.

Segment 8 [Singles Match]: Bray Wyatt (w/ The Wyatt Family) defeats Kofi Kingston by pin. Bray opened with a couple punches. Kofi slipped one, and Bray just copped a squat in the corner for no reason. Kofi waited for him to get to his feet, then delivered a few kicks. They exchanged some punches, and Bray was sent flying through the ropes as he oversold one particular kick.

Bray gathered himself outside the ring, then reentered. He took a couple quick shots but then took control with some chops. Kofi countered an Irish Whip to the corner, went to the top, and hit a jumping fist from the top rope. But then Bray shoved him over the top rope, causing Kofi to smack his shoulders into the apron then tumble to the floor.

Bray tossed him back in the ring and had control from there with roughneck offense, including his running senton hip drop. From there, Kofi had no answer as Bray flung him to the corner, followed up with a stiff running clothesline, and capped it off with the Sister Abigail. Good match for giving Bray momentum, but not exactly a paragon of workrate.

Segment 9: The Shield is in Kane's office. They exchange pleasantries, then Kane tells them that they are required to be at ringside when he faces Big Show tonight. Kane says he wants them out there to “lead by example,” but Rollins calls bullshit and knows that he just wants them out there to protect him in case Show knocks him out. Again.

Kane says nothing, but has a forced smile on his face.

Segment 10 [Singles Match]: Nikki Bella (w/ Brie Bella) defeats Tamina (w/ AJ) by pin. Good match, but nothing special. Power-versus-speed here as Nikki managed to slip most of Tamina's early attacks, delivered a drop toe hold, and kept Tamina contained with wrist locks and headlocks. I've never seen Nikki have this much fire in her, as all her moves transitioned from each other rapidly... maybe too rapidly, since not much of a “story” was being told.

The women exchanged headslams to the canvas, then Nikki went to the apron to set something up. Tamina didn't let her, giving her a low dropkick to the shins to send her to ringside. Tamina followed her out, slammed her spine into the apron, then flung her back in the ring and hit a modified power slam. She wanted the Superfly Splash to follow up, but Nikki rolled out of the way; Tamina adjusted in midair and landed more or less on her feet, but when she went to charge Nikki, she caught an elbow to the face. Nikki rallied and hit a couple jumping lariats and an awkward back body drop, capped off with a jawbreaker with the knee. Nikki went for the cover then, but only got two.

Nikki wanted something else from there by taking Tamina's back, but Tamina fought her off and countered with a superkick. AJ, who was being awesome on commentary up till now, said “That's it!” and happily skipped away from the table. Tamina made the cover... but only got a two. AJ was just as surprised as anyone, and then... uh... something happened that made no sense. Brie was standing on the apron for absolutely no reason that I could discern, so AJ ran after her... presumably to stop her from distracting Tamina? Regardless of why, Brie came flying off the apron with a clothesline, then starting rearranging AJ's face with her fists.

Tamina wasn't having that, so she exited out of the ring and threw Brie off AJ, and into a barricade. But it gave Nikki time to recover, and when Tamina tried a second superkick, Nikki ducked it. She then took Tamina's back and put her up in the Torture Rack position, then dropped to her knees, breaking Tamina's back against her shoulders. The crowd popped huge for that, to my pleasant surprise. Nikki then made the cover, and that was that.

During the commentary, they were discussing who is the #1 contender to AJ's title, and the argument was made that it was Nikki since Nikki beat her on Main Event. Taken with tonight's result, Nikki has a lot of momentum, not to mention an argument for getting a title shot. Also, when Michael Cole and JBL kept pressing AJ for comments about the return of Total Divas, AJ said nothing and tried to ignore the existence of Total Divas entirely. Which, to Online Onslaught, makes her the face in this situation.

Segment 11 [Singles Match]: Dolph Ziggler defeats Alberto Del Rio by pin. Absolutely fantastic match that was free-per-view-worthy. The “end game” lasted pretty much the entire second half of the match, and their pace was incredible.

Dolph had a little early offense that quickly devolved to ADR taking control with punchy-kicky, which also brought us to ads. Back from that and ADR is firmly in control, hitting his step-up enziguri in the corner. He only got a two from that, so he climbed the corner and went for a top rope something-or-other, but he took a fantastic midair dropkick from Dolph. Like, holy shit, that was probably the best-looking midair dropkick counter I've ever seen.

Dolph rallied from there, even doing a classic 10 punches in the corner, followed by a twisting neckbreaker, but only made a two-count with the pin. Ziggler wanted to follow up with a Zig Zag, but ADR blocked it and countered with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Pin, still only two. Exchange of punch dodges, then Dolph hit a nice DDT. Another pin, still only two.

Both guys caught their breath, then got to their feet. ADR hit an arm breaker with his knees out of nowhere, then followed up with a stiff kick as Dolph was on his knees. Dolph's loogie from the kick was intense enough that the ref followed it with his eyes before moving in and counting ADR's pin, though it only got two.

ADR then took entirely too long screwing around, then wanted the Cross Arm Breaker. Dolph slipped out of the attempt, then ADR slipped out of whatever Dolph tried, and ADR shoved Dolph to the corner. ADR tried another step-up enziguri but missed, and Dolph countered with the shittiest-looking Famous-Er I've ever seen. But he went for the pin, and everyone in the arena thought it was a three... but nope, just a two.

Again both guys caught their breath, and Dolph hoisted himself to the top rope. But ADR recovered and smacked Dolph's leg to crotch him on the top rope. ADR climbed up as well and took his back, then hit an insane belly-to-back snap superplex. Pin, still only two.

ADR pulled Dolph up and screamed something in Spanish, then went for the Cross Arm Breaker yet again. Dolph slipped out, leapfrogged ADR, then hit the Zig Zag out of nowhere. The crowd exploded, the pin was made, and this will probably remain match of the night.

Post-Segment 11: Renee Young interviews Dolph after the match in the ring, who says that he's super excited and pumped about WrestleMania. Oh, and he's totally going to be in the battle royal. Dolph declares he's going to make his own destiny at WrestleMania, and when he wins the battle royal, he'll finally have his WrestleMania moment.

Segment 12: Carlos Colon is the next inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Segment 13: The Wyatts on the Titantron interrupt some hype for the WWE Network. Bray cuts yet another crazy promo against John Cena, where Bray may or may not be hearing the voice of Sister Abigail in his dreams. Bray prattles about that he's close to... something, and that Cena is going to be old and have a lot of regrets... eventually. Follow the buzzards. Or something. Totally nonsensical, but still awesome.

Segment 14 [Singles Match]: Big Show defeats Kane (w/ The Shield) by pin. Supbar match, and awfully time-compressed. Pretty much punchy-kicky from start to finish, with Show getting most of the offense, but Kane scoring some stiff counters. When Show had Kane on the ropes (figuratively), Show went to the top rope for something, but Kane just chokeslammed him off it.

At that point, Kane told The Shield to enter the ring and beat the shit out of Show. They got on the apron, then changed their mind and just hopped back down to ringside. The delay gave Show a chance to recover, and he hit a chokeslam on his own. Pin, three, done.

Post-Segment 14: The Shield started to leave, but Rollins was the last to go... and Kane caught him. Kane quickly went for a chokeslam, but Reigns came out of absolutely nowhere and Speared him out of his shoes. Cole then bum-rushed through a closing that he barely got through before the show closed out.

Final Thoughts: That was a weird sequence of an ending. They seemed to be trying to cram about ten minutes of Stuff into a seven-minute package. The point came across though: The Shield isn't owned by anyone and won't take orders, but they are back to beating the shit out of people as a unit. The crowd booed their assault on Damien, but cheered Reigns's spear on Kane. The Shield is collectively the ultimate tweener.

Otherwise, there was a lot of filler in there, a lot of callbacks to RAW and hype for WrestleMania. I totally get it, but the fact is that tonight's episode was a little less present-centric than usual. Sustainable episodic TV, sure; something to remember for later, not so much. Except the Dolph/ADR match, that is: YouTube that bad boy. It was freaking awesome. And you know how much I generally dislike ADR matches. The dude plays really well with Dolph, and their pace was unusual for a WWE match.

I'm done for now, folks. OO is back to its regular schedule, and you can expect my huge WrestleMania preview column in a few weeks.

Episode Grade: C+


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