I was excited to see Chase Donovan on TV for the first time, less excited when I saw Big E Langston come out. I like Big E, for a big guy he grapples well and can put on a good match, but I knew this was not going to be one of those times. Big E pinned Donovan in 42 seconds. If it doesn’t last at least over a minute, really, what’s the point? Look how strong this guy is? We already have a Ryback, and on Superstars this week he managed to show he could put on a good match (I said Superstars, I’m pretending Raw never happened, that was awful). Briley Pierce interviews Big E, who just huffs at him. I feel like I’ve seen this too many times, let Big E have personality. He’s huge in muscle, but he’s short in stature. Stop giving random guys strong, silent predator. Okay, rant over, to the Top 4!
4. Byron Saxton and William Regal
While Scott Stanford might be my favorite commentator, Byron Saxton and William Regal make for my favorite commentary team. The two of them play well off of one another, letting Regal tell his stories while Saxton calls moves. When Regal calls moves Saxton always has a quip. Sure, they have quiet spots at time, but you get the vibe it’s because they are actually paying attention to the match instead of just having nothing to say.
3. The Usos and Ascension
No match between the two tag teams this week, only a segment. A segment which I enjoyed. The Usos call out Ascension and the Ascension do come out, surprising the Usos by not walking through their long entrance but appearing in the ring to attack the Samoans. It will be nice to see Ascension have an actual feud and the Usos, of late, have really come into their talent in the ring.
2. Mike Dalton & Jason Jordan vs. Hunico & Camacho
I really wanted to make this the #1 match of the episode, but I have to give the nod to the main event this time. However, all four men once again are unbelievably springy and quick in the 4 minutes they are allotted making the time go by even faster. I love this feud, it’s good for all four men who are more about their in-ring abilities, even as the characters finally begin to shine. There was not a man I didn’t enjoy in the ring for this match, even though I’m slightly partial to one of the teams.
1. Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal
Face it, this was a good match. Probably my favorite match that Rollins’ has been in. Rollins isn’t a bad wrestler, he does tend to be in matches working a style that he doesn’t seem suited for. With Mahal Rollins takes the step back and wrestles at a different pace and it seems to fit him better. I know the internet hates Mahal, and loves Rollins, but Mahal gives it his all in this match and helps make this 13 minutes match an incredibly charged fight. Unfortunately, by the times this aired, everyone knew that Rollins had the title, taking away from a bit of the, “Could this be it?” moments.
One again, thank you tons to @hotyounglindsey who allowed me to use her photos from Sunset Flip Photography! Follow her, absolutely worth it.
This is the third book in her third trilogy set in the same universe. Because it would take me a few pages just to explain what has happened this far I’m going to skip right over that. If you haven’t read her first trilogy and enjoy romantic fantasy, read it, if just for the sub-story of the emperor and his assassin that spans all three books. Unfortunately, Jones does not carry over that complicated storytelling into trilogy two. Trilogy three is better than the predecessor but is lacking in imagination after six novels about women finding the loves of their lives.
The other problem Jones falls into is that her main characters are out and out boring at times. The women are perfect, the man have “flaws” that most women would forgive because, Hell, they are nearly perfect themselves. But women in romance novels never forgive their men for lying to them that easily and must hold unnecessarily long grudges that make storytelling repetitive. How many times can she claim to not hate him but be so angry with him she wants to leave?
As usual, her side characters are more interesting. You have the story of a bridal candidate who is being forced to lie to those around her and treat them poorly because she’s afraid of having people close and you get to see more insight into the “bad guys” of the novel. Unfortunately the side characters of Danya and Rainer are not as interesting as the ones from the two books before, and it falls flat.
Jones has a large, well thought out setting, but unfortunately she doesn’t do enough with it and 309 pages of a romance novel where the plot itself is a bit thin doesn’t work. Not to mention a gaping hole that was not addressed in the novel until towards the end to, more or less, deus ex machina a reason to not kill off a character. And after reminders of how everyone is doing or where everyone is at the end of the novel seems to be nothing more than a reminder of incompetence and what might never have been a truly terrifying threat.
Reasons to Read:
- Conclusion to this trilogy
- Interesting premise
Reasons Not to Read:
- If you read one in this trilogy, you read them all
- Makes women seem weak
- Makes the bad guy seem weak
- Too much worrying about love, not enough worrying about an empire
This was a good week for matches, just oddly none of them were on Smackdown. We also had the pay-per-view which changes the contention a bit. If it wasn’t for Summer Slam Gabriel would have been making two appearances and a Del Rio submission might have fallen onto the list, but I can’t leave out those wonderful PPV matches.
4. Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd vs. Michael McGillicutty & Johnny Curtis – NXT
Sure, we’ve seen it before, but the four of them tend to strive to change-up their matches. It doesn’t feel like the same match from the time before and that’s part of what saves it. Plus, I’m still damn impressed with Curtis jumping off the turnbuckle.
3. Dolph Ziggler vs. Chris Jericho – RAW
Well if any match this year had a more obvious ending I can’t think of it at the moment. It didn’t detract from the fact that it was an excellent display, albeit short, of their abilities and was not a carbon copy of the match they had just had the night before. It’s sad to see Jericho go, but it’s great to see him give Ziggler the rub before he does. Now hopefully they continue to boost Ziggler up instead of letting him fall.
2. Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio – Summer Slam
Despite the hate for these two men fighting in the ring “again” I highly enjoyed the match. The two men know how to work off of one another, even though they have different styles. It comes together nicely in the ring and made for the second most entertaining match of the night, and second most entertaining match of the week. Sorry to the lovers of a lot of other wrestlers on Summer Slam, but a lot of them weren’t overwhelmingly great pay-per-view matches despite the talent in the ring. However…
1. Dolph Ziggler vs. Chris Jericho – Summer Slam
And they make the list again, this time in a match that was given the proper length of time. It wasn’t a perfect match, but it was perfect for what it needed to be, which was excellent. Jericho’s not as springy as he once was, but he still handles himself with care in the ring and in this match seemed to have found the rhythm he might have missed in other matches throughout his return. It was great to see him get a win and it was great to see Ziggler grapple with the Ayatollah of Rock’N’Rolla.
What an underwhelming show for matches. There were seven matches of the night, only two of them went over three minutes. Kind of makes it hard to rank a match highly when even on other shows, that are about matches, struggle to get five minute matches and I think those are too short at times. I don’t think matches need to be ten minutes to be good, but I do think recaps need to be cut down. That’s over five minutes of show that could have gone to more wrestling, even if it had been spread out over those five matches. Anyway…
4. Ryback vs. Jinder Mahal
I have to say, even though it was interesting to see Ryback have a near storyline, I hope this was the end. Not because it was awful, I had a few chuckles out of this, but because where do they go? This is an instance of possibly writing themselves into a corner, unless they flesh it out more (ha!). If Ryback continues to win their push to make Mahal a legitimate opponent dies, if they let Mahal win their push for Ryback to be nearly unstoppable dies. Of course, since I don’t believe they have long term plans when they going into a storylines, this could continue for the next three months.
Look at Eve trying to steal Smackdown. Since she started with this “assistant” role back at the beginning of the year with John Laurinaitis the woman went form being an internet joke to someone people are beginning to look forward to. Sure, there are still those out there who hate on Eve, but she’s been a great character from kissing up to Booker T and making Long look bad to coming out and holding Layla and Kaitlyn’s arms up awkwardly. Oh, and let’s not forget a sudden appearance of the tag teams. This was a blatant reminder that, hey, WWE does have other tag teams. Now, let’s do something with them. But Vince will likely be bored in 2 weeks and forget again.
2. Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler
This is a good match all together, even if it’s better in the end when Ziggler threatens to cash in the briefcase yet again. However, it’s probably time to start watching out how often he goes for that cash-in, as he does it again at the end of the show. There is no reason to continually make Ziggler look weak and like a coward. But the match itself was entertaining and at over five minutes given a proper amount of time to be good while not being overly excellent.
1. Alberto Del Rio vs. Randy Orton
The match itself could have been better. Orton’s not been up to his usual self since his return, which is a shame. I like Orton, even if I’m still one of the last, but even I have to admit his in-ring performance is suffering. Del Rio is brilliant in the ring, even if I stand nearly alone there as well, but together there wasn’t enough sparks. What helped make this match make it to #1 this week is one thing, Orton tapped. No one believed it. Honestly, go back and look at the last year of Orton’s career. Orton is the one face most likely to lose cleanly, but to tap out to Del Rio, it still shocked everyone when they saw it (or read it in the spoilers).
All-in-all this was an underwhelming Smackdown, but it had it’s highlights. For the record, I nearly gave the segments number 1 or 2 just because at least I had no real complaints about those, but let’s give it up to the hard working wrestlers.
This week’s Top 4 is leaving off a match that could have made it, I mean, Tamina Snuka versus Sofia Cortez are great wrestlers, but I’ll admit to folding under pressure. Sofia is no longer with the company and since I do these blogs to promote the beauty of the wrestlers, the laughter, the athleticism, giving it to someone who is gone doesn’t feel right. And Tamina, on her own, doesn’t work for this.
After the Tamina and Sofia match Raquel comes out to further taunt the loser, which in this case is Tamina. She draws an “L” on Tamina’s forehead with her lipstick… sort of. She actually draws it upside down, since Tamina is knocked out and her head is sort of laid back. When Tamina stands up it’ll be more of a 7. I get why Raquel did it the way she did, but in the end it was just distracting as everyone was commenting the same thing, “It was more of a 7.” There is an interview with Briley Pierce, and I give him credit because unlike some other backstage interviewer I won’t mention the name of, Pierce shows personality. Ohno… not as much.
3. Kassius Ohno vs. Jake Carter
Well, as usual, when someone doesn’t get an entrance you know that he’s likely losing. Poor Jake Carter. It wasn’t a squash, luckily, as there were over four minutes of match, but it wasn’t spectacular. Ohno is trying to fit the character they have written him into it, and doesn’t seem like he’s comfortable with bringing it to the ring. Meanwhile no one actually worries about trying to tell a story with Carter as NXT has fallen into the same rhythm as Raw and Smackdown. You know, the “these are the guys were are pushing and that’s that” mentality. I miss NXT Redemption’s storytelling, but that’s for another day and another blog.
2. Derrick Bateman vs. Antonio Cesaro
Let’s face it, I am a huuuuuuuuuuuuuge fan of Derrick Bateman. I have been since his first incarnation on NXT. So, I really wanted to make him number one, but there is a rule out there that if Kidd fights, he’s number one. It’s actually a good rule because, well, it’s Tyson Kidd. So Derrick and Cesaro slip to number two, but do an incredible job in the short match. Cesaro’s grown on me, but he didn’t really grow on me until he started with Smackdown, and this match helped my opinion of him. Derrick… well, he’s still one of my favorite guys… ever.
1. Michael McGillicutty & Johnny Curtis vs. Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel
Kidd and McGillicutty have such chemistry in the ring that I’m surprised these two just don’t have a permanent side feud. Gabriel returns and while he’s not as fast as the commentators keep trying to lead you to believe, he never misses a step and is in no way a slow athlete. Curtis might be the weakest of the three, but that’s like saying Twilight Sparkle is the weakest of Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie. (Oh yeah, I got an My Little Pony reference in). There’s just that much greatness all in the ring. Curtis does a move that surprises me from him. I don’t think high flyer when I think Curtis, and I’m really sad Gabriel moved out of the way because this move was … awesome!
The photos are thanks to @hotyoungLindsey and her photography. Check her out on facebook and see how good she is!
The top three for this week were really easy for me. I knew them right away and never had to debate it. Number 4 was between three matches and I finally gave it to this one because it just felt right.
4. Alex Riley vs. Dolph Ziggler – RAW
This wasn’t really the week for excellent matches, but this match did a bit to tease at possible plots. One, holy crap Alex Riley got a win on Raw. Two, Ziggler and Jericho continue… epically, which is the only way these two can continue. The match was given about 4 minutes, which was a typical match length on Raw and Smackdown this week. It was fun and left a lot of people complaining yet, not as unhappy as they could have been.
3. Antonio Cesaro vs. Christian – Smackdown
Christian’s always been a great wrestler, and while it’s sad to see that he isn’t being used in a more spectacular angle or given that run again at being close to a main event, he still manages to turn any match he’s in into magic. Cesaro found a flow now that he’s learned more about what it is WWE wants from a wrestler. This isn’t taking away from what he could do, but WWE has a different style than other companies and there is a learning curve. He’s picked it up and given a chance to fight the best match of the night. I would have loved to have seen this one given more time, but you take what you can get and enjoy the story.
2. Michael McGillicutty vs. Justin Gabriel – NXT
The match opened up NXT and honestly should have been the main event. While it started off slowly, and that slow cost is what cost this match of the week, when it really picked up the tempo it kept at that tempo until the end. I would love to see this become a feud if just to see these two keep fighting, but then if that happened I might lose out on…
1. Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd vs. Tyler Reks & Curt Hawkins – Superstars
I love it any time I can put Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins on the list. They are awesome. Did I mention I also adore Gabriel and Kidd? Heck, I like Gabriel so much lately he made 2 of the matches of the week. But, seriously, there are not two tag teams right now who work better together. There are other good tag teams, but somehow these two groups have it, and they make it work in any match. Thank you guys for being some of my favorites and entertaining me every time!
Looking at the numbers I would have thought this Smackdown couldn’t have worked. Total match length time equaled a horrible 14:53 for five matches, though the Jinder one wasn’t much of a match nor was it supposed to be. There were only 5:39 of recaps for the night, also not bad. So what was Smackdown filled with? Segments. And I’m not complaining. In fact, it made it really hard for me to get a Top 4 because I liked every segment, even the Jinder Mahal and Ryback segment. It’s putting Ryback in a feud and everyone loves to hate Mahal, so why not? I’m also pained slightly because I had to leave AJ and Kane off of the list (and Bryan, God, I still hate saying that I like Bryan segments), but it had to be done this week.
4. Chris Jericho Highlight Reel
The man has the smoothest delivery of anyone in the WWE. He makes everything flawless and manages to change with the times. I’m going to miss this man when he’s gone again, but I don’t care about that right now. Right now I have the highlight reel, and he manages to insult Vickie Guerrero without sounding like a prig. I like Vickie, and I still laughed at Jericho’s insulting her.
3. The Booker T segments
Who’d have thought that I’d be this behind Booker T being a GM? I’d be even more behind it if they added someone to that Smackdown commentator table, because I can’t keep listening to that much of Mathews. Eh-hem, anyway, my point is that Booker T works wonders with Eve and Kaitlyn in one segment, creating a match where one of them will be his assistant. I like new Eve since she became the corporate-climbing lady, but boy will I be rooting for Kaitlyn. I love the divas, and okay they aren’t wrestling much, but it proves that they make great eye candy and lead to fun segments. The other segment that deserves a nod is the hint that something is going to change for Reks and Hawkins as they try to talk to Booker T. I’m a NXT Redemption mark, so when they talked about that “other job” I so hoped it would be the security thing again. When the Del Rio thing happened I was crossing my fingers they would end up being one of the cops. But, alas, we are still in the dark, but we know anytime Reks and Hawkins are on screen I get a little happy.
2. Sin Cara vs. Cody Rhodes
The match lasted 3:45. Not great time, but Sin Cara and Cody Rhodes don’t need it. The two of them know how to wrestle an entertaining match (at least now for Sin Cara, his return has been a lot better). It also started an interesting storyline. I’m always down for unmasking storylines, and loving that Cody Rhodes is showing glimmers of Dashing again.
1. Antonio Cesaro vs. Christian
For those keeping track at home, this match lasted 4:06. Proving great matches can come from a short amount of time, but they better not be slow and plodding. Cesaro has grown on me since his FCW days where I didn’t care much about him one way or another. There is a slight botch in this match, but it works for the match. It was a good excuse for Christian to have gotten the upper hand.
4. Zack Ryder vs. Tensai
I kept flip flopping on making this 3 or 4. Both matches were good but left me going, “Huh…” At least with McGillicutty and Santino they seem to have a rivalry going… on Santino’s Foreign Exchange, which Scott does a great job of mentioning during the bout. However, Ryder vs. Tensai? I don’t get it. Good match for what it was. Tensai is good, Ryder is good, but together it’s an awkward combination that they manage to pull off in an entertaining way.
3. Michael McGillicutty vs. Santino
If anything, I have to concede that McGillicutty had fun in this match. He ran from that Cobra and made it look like it was particularly terrifying while not quite making it look serious at all. It was fun to watch the running in circles and the match wasn’t half bad.
2. Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd vs. Tyler Reks & Curt Hawkins
Well Gabriel is doing his best to have two matches on my Top 4 Matches for this week, and this one is even better than his one on NXT. Granted, he has Kidd, Reks, and Hawkins to help that along. Reks and Hawkins, as always, communicate better than tag teams typically do. They seem to be in one another’s heads and are always there to save one another. So why do they always lose?? Then you have Gabriel and Kidd, who are almost as well suited together. Two excellent tag teams that put on an excellent match worth watching. My one complaint: why was I listening to the commentators talk about AW and the Prime Time Players? I get it, these are two tag teams, those guys are tag teams, but call the match!
1. Scott Stanford
“The Czechoslovakians would give Santino a 9.9 there.”
Forgive me if my praise of Scott Stanford turns into a rant on Josh Mathews. For the Zack Ryder vs. Tensai match there was a lot that went wrong that Mathews seemed to just figure he would sit and stare at the screen for. First, Tensai spilled Josh’s water on him when he was pushed over by Ryder.
Mathews shouted to watch out, stood, and moved out of the way. Then dropped it when he sat back down. Great time to have either mentioned Ryder was clumsy with his aim, or he thought Tensai did it on purpose, or… come on, just sell the fact that you just had it spilled on you! Nope! Second, where the Hell was his commentary during the second half of this match? Scott talked. Paused. Talked. Paused. TALKED. PAUSED. Holy Hell, Mathews, do you need more cues to understand to pick up the conversation. And yes, Scott honestly paused, waiting for reactions or for Mathews to jump in. This happened in the Santino match as well, but not as badly as during the main event. Yet Mathews is somehow the one working everything while Scott gets 20 minutes on Superstars. Great job, WWE, on showing it really is all about seniority.
By the way, Scott Stanford is awesome.
As usual, let me explain the match I’m leaving off, which is Kassius Ohno vs. CJ Parker. This was a squash match that lasted about 5 minutes (I’m guessing as I didn’t actually time the NXT matches. My bad). Ohno seems to still be getting back into shape after having to change his regimen last year when trying to prove he was not taking drugs, he just has elevated testosterone, and it seems to cost him. Now he’s a small guy who wrestles methodically. Methodical works better for a bigger guy. Ohno needs to change his style a bit and just let go. He’s not bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but it makes the match a little plodding and Parker looking confused as he waits for the next move.
Also, have I mentioned liking Chris Russo? He’s the ring announcer. Good voice.
4. Bo Dallas vs. Jinder Mahal
Dallas can flop. He’s trying to go to the Ziggler school of taking a bump. I still don’t believe when he kicks or hits someone it hurts, though. So when Jinder struck Dallas, and Dallas flopped, it was fun. When Jinder put Dallas in the camel clutch, it looked like it hurt. But it wasn’t a spectacular match, but between the two they didn’t stop fighting, where Parker and Ohno had too many dead spots.
3. Tamina Snuka & Paige vs. Caylee Turner & Kaitlyn
Three of the women in this match were incredible. One, I’m not sure what they are doing with her, and I’m convinced they don’t either. Caylee Turner doesn’t have it in the ring. She didn’t have it before she was made a ring announcer. Were they training her all of this time? Kaitlyn, Tamina, and Paige are amazing athletes that for the majority of the match dominated it. Caylee refused to be tagged in by her partner, Kaitlyn, during the first part and it made it highly entertaining. Once Caylee went into the ring the quality went down. It’s hard to believe she’s overpowering any of the women in the ring. I’ll quit ranting now, still worth watch, if just because two of these women are gorgeous, three are talented, and Regal’s commentary for them is entertaining.
There were three different promos/segments on this week. As everyone knows, I enjoy plot. First one of the night is a look back at last week with a quick NXT recap of Dalton and Jordan’s win over Hunico and Camacho and they say exactly what everyone was thinking, “I don’t think anyone expected we would win.” They are interviewed by Briley Pierce and the enthusiasm from Jordan and Dalton is catching and they confirm they will be sticking together as a tag team.
Next, a new Ascension promo. I’m sorry, but ASCENSION!!! YAY!!! Just watch it, I have no words.
Last segment is a meet up between Bo Dallas and Derrick Bateman. Here Dallas tries to prove to me he has been learning something as he seems to have a good conversation with the poor jilted Bateman who somehow didn’t qualify for the tournament. He hints at anger and after walking away the camera catches Bateman watching Dallas. Is this hinting at Bateman going heel again?
1. Michael McGillicutty vs. Justin Gabriel
This match started off slow but I didn’t really fear. Somewhere along the way I became a Gabriel fan, and I’ve been a McGillicutty fan for a while (which is tough when at arenas because I’m always coming up with weird things to shout his way because, “Let’s Go Michael McGillicutty!” sounds awful). Once McGillicutty and Gabriel found their rhythm this turned into a great grappling match with a few springboard moves from Gabriel. Great match up that likely could make it onto match of the week.
What a week in WWE matches. While we were at Raw we didn’t actually expect to see matches that would be in the Top 4 of the week contenders. Then there was NXT, Superstars, and Smackdown. And great matches on all of them. If this list could have had 5 on it, for the record it would have been Hunico & Camacho vs. Mike Dalton & Jason Jordan from NXT. Great match with great tag action. It only lost out because it could have used more time to make it even more epic where, oddly enough, Raw and Smackdown gave enough time to matches this week.
4. Cody Rhodes vs. Justin Gabriel – Superstars
This is not just female hormones talking, either. This really was a superb match up where Rhodes and Gabriel got to show off, not high-flying skills as they keep attributing to Gabriel, but grappling and mat technique. The two have quick movements that make for a non-stop fight. Loses a bit of suspense because you know Rhodes is going to win, but honestly there weren’t many matches this week where you didn’t know who would win. Doesn’t mean they didn’t work their butts off for a good show.
3. Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio – Smackdown
I wasn’t sure when watching this match originally where this would place for the week, then Del Rio welcomed Randy back while having him trapped against the ring. Later, with Orton’s back turned too long, Del Rio jumps from the mat and lands a kick into Orton’s spine. Later still Del Rio works on Orton’s face with his boot. Orton appears like the weaker wrestler as Del Rio’s anger from being forced into the match wins out, but you can see where Del Rio loses momentum for Orton to come back ahead, but Ricardo won’t have Del Rio lose. Great main event.
2. Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan – Raw
Daniel Bryan is trying to kill me. How many times in the last few weeks has he made it into my Top 4 of anything? But I’ve never denied he’s a good wrestler, just as a character I have never liked him. (Though that might change…) Sheamus is out to prove that I don’t know what I really want in a match. I keep saying I prefer quick speed, then he goes out there, pummels someone, gets pummeled in return, and make it onto the top of the list. Daniel Bryan and Sheamus have a great, brutal match. Daniel Bryan doesn’t hold back and Sheamus holds back in such a slight way it’s almost unnoticeable. Almost. Daniel Bryan can’t take the same kind of strikes Tensai can, which is why…
1. Sheamus vs. Tensai – Smackdown
Dammit, Sheamus. Sheamus and Tensai try to kill one another by just striking, striking, striking, in an all out brawl. They almost appear to enjoy it as well. I enjoyed it. I just wish they would let Tensai have more of these kind of matches, then maybe people would stop complaining about his inability to wrestle. Some guys can not wrestle with everyone, and some guys have odd pushes that shouldn’t have happened the way they did, but when Sheamus and Tensai get in the ring you can expect a bloody (every pun intended) good match.