What? A top 4 on Raw? Well yes, Raw was awesome!
4. Brock Lesnar Returns
I am not a huge Brock Lesnar mark. Or smark. Or fan. His return was anticipated, it was just a matter of when. What made this appearance so darn special is he shut John Cena up. Cena was giving the most boring promo of the last year and if someone did not come out and shut him up I would have crawled through my television and done it myself. Instead, Lesnar did it, and the thousands of fans who were leftover from Wrestlemania went crazy for it.
3. Alberto Del Rio’s Return
The night of a bit more triumphant returns. Sure, we saw Del Rio a month ago, but what has he done since then? He and Sheamus agreed to a match on Smackdown during their segment together and that’s what Smackdown will need. It gets Sheamus and Bryan away from one another and perhaps a feud for Bryan that will be based on character and not on a title.
2. Santino vs. Jack Swagger vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler is a sell machine. Swagger is a beast. Santino is hilarious. This match is well put together and the three move fluidly, even when they are crashing into one another. Santino had to win this, at this point it was the only way it could go. Swagger and Ziggler give him a run for his money but inevitably turn against one another when it seems the other might win the title! Seeing Ziggler’s epic sell job of the Brodus Clay head bump and a potential evolution in character for Brodus Clay (you know, actually doing more than dancing and squashing) makes this extra worth every second.
1. Mark Henry vs. CM Punk w/ Chris Jericho
Mark Henry and CM Punk put on a match that shows both are athletes. Henry may move slow, and Punk might be a little slicker, but together these two were magic in the ring. AND this was not two minute match that Henry inexorably lost because they can’t hurt Punk. Punk loses after a brutal beating (though it’s by count out, but it still gives Henry a win) and then Jericho appears, wearing a new jacket with gold. I love how he sparkles. Yes, he slips in beer, but now is the time when it should become personal and not about the title. This seemed to impress me more than the past two weeks. I hope these two keep up the momentum and I hope that Henry continues to be booked correctly instead of thrown back into the background again.
Columbus was harder, and easier, than Cleveland for several reasons. The first hard part, no easy drop off on the block for Chris and his walker. Instead we found a parking garage that only charged $9 and knew we would be making a bit of a hike. But they weren’t ready for that yet and sat in the car a bit, air conditioning on, and were ready to wait with good music and snacks.
Not Solace. Solace had to find a bathroom. I decided I was going to take a walk. I did just that and left the parking garage and headed towards the Nationwide Arena where I knew there was a Starbucks right next door. Inside the Starbucks I had the opportunity to turn a corner and be in a corridor with a glass wall that had a view right in to the arena’s corridors and in front of me was a glass door that lead to the arena.
I went into the bathroom and as I was about to walk out Chris’s mom called me. She always seems to call when I’m in the bathroom. I swear she does it so she can tell me later I failed in answer my phone! I picked up the phone and walked out into the corridor and there, occupying a table in front of me, was Khali. Awesome. As I spoke to Sandy I gave him a slight wave and he waved back. He looked worried I was going to do something stupid like take his picture as he was laying stretched out on a table so I turned around and focused on my conversation. After finishing my phone call I closed my phone, noticed Khali was gone, and felt disappointment before I realized he was at the glass door. I walked over, shook his hand, did a quick ‘hi’ and then I hurried myself out of there.
Columbus during nice weather is a better arena to sit outside of. You can fan watch better, which is fun for me. It’s not even making fun of the fans so much as to gather a great view of the diversity of fans. I called Chris and told him I was staying at the arena and he said he and Mike would meet me out there soon. I sat down and proceeded to watch the fans. A great “Yes” sign passed me by in Daniel Bryan coloring and a group of fans wearing Christian, Santino, Sheamus, and Randy Orton shirts. These were some of my favorite shirts, but I did not see many “new” shirts on anyone while waiting. The newest shirt I saw was the “Rise Above Hate” shirt.
Three people were wearing the Drew McIntyre shirt, which was great. I had never been to an event (this was our sixth one) where I had seen a McIntyre shirt. By the way, McIntyre had two braids in his hair tonight on the left side of his face. Very nice.
We entered around 6 and went up to our seats. Unfortunately, no ground seating for us this time! However, we had an unobstructed view and the crowd around us was hilarious.
Herein lie spoilers! Beware!
The first match, the dark match of the evening, was Epico against Brodus Clay. It was a squash, just not as epically a squash as usual. The entrances between the two did get more time still, though, since they let Rosa do her dance before Brodus, Naomi, and Cameron Lynn did theirs. Epico lost, but would you have expected anything else.
Next was NXT, and I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum. However we started several chants that will likely never be heard, “Let’s go Rekkins,” by Chris, “Let’s go MidCard Mafia!” which I only shouted once but in a very nice dead spot. While NXT referred to Bateman and Kaitlyn as “Kait-man” we referred to them as “Batelyn.” I liked that better.
Superstars came next and out walked Justin Gabriel. There was a collective groan in our section and everyone wondered when Slater was going to walk out. Instead it was Hunico. The woman behind us, who rarely watches WWE, decided this was where she was going to start really getting into everything. As Hunico stepped out, in pants that were a bit tight, she kept complaining the entire match his pants were too tight and wondering how he was moving. It may sound obnoxious, but it was hilarious because she was not taking herself too seriously. During this match, as Camacho stood outside the ring with the new pimped out bike, Chris shouted, “Use the bike!” This actually elicited a, “Use the bike!” chant throughout our section. Oh yeah, that’s awesome right there.
This match was surprisingly good, and long. Since the Reks and Hawkins match on Monday for Superstars was long I was expecting them to shorten this match up quite a bit. Nope, they let it go on for a good amount of time that made this a credible match. It’s almost like they, gasp, care about Superstars again.
Before Smackdown, as the announcers are introduced, Booker T definitely had the largest and wildest screams from the crowd. Lillian had an embarrassing moment where her shoe strap snapped and she slipped right out of it. She ended up taking off both shoes to walk down and she took it lightly as she joked later, “And as you can see, anything can happen!” A little tape helped her get her shoes back on for the Smackdown taping.
During the show Daniel Bryan became a more despicable character as he degrades AJ and then steals her thunder after her win. The crowd, for the most part, was not behind him. However, there were enough still behind Daniel Bryan that a good sound of, “Daniel Bryan,” chants went up. After a good sing-song the night before with The Rock, though, Ohio was ready to keep a rhythm. The chants quickly became, “Daniel Bryan,” “Sucks!” There were more Daniel Bryan fans at this show than the last one we went to in Indiana, where he was for the most part booed.
During the main event of Chris Jericho against Sheamus was an entertaining bit. The woman behind us, who complained about Hunico’s pants being too tight, had said through the whole show she hated Sheamus. She just could not get into him. But, he was against someone she hated more. Suddenly she became a huge Sheamus fan and was screaming her head off for her to beat Sheamus. This was another sing-song chant as cheers of, “Let’s Go Sheamus!” “Y2J!” dueled with one another. Jericho left some glitter on the mat of the ring, which was hilarious. It kept catching our eye every time the lights hit it just the right way.
As is usually the case, when Raw is really good, Smackdown suffers, and vice versa. Smackdown was still an excellent show, but the matches were quicker when they could have taken more time to show some of them and cut other things, or at least shaved other things. Seeing Zack Ryder being used again, if just in a video clip, was reassuring.
We did not stay through the dark match after the show. With Chris’s ankle, and a long walk ahead of us, and some daunting stairs, we left before everyone else, but Randy Orton did win the six man tag.
After the show there was not much else to be told. We made our way home, done with our two days of excitement! Thanks for joining me for the ride and we’ll see you again April 30th and May 1st!