I’m somewhere torn between thinking this episode could have done a lot more and thinking this episode was incredible. I’m usually happy with my NXT, or completely angry. This time I sort of feel like I coasted with great segments and OK matches.
4. Bo Dallas vs. Johnny Curtis
Bo Dallas can not do a spear, he needs a new finisher. He also has a hard time with a clothesline as he hooks McGillicutty during this match instead of hitting him flush across the chest. What Dallas has going for him is bumping and he does very little of it in this 4:05 match that really didn’t do much of anything for either of them. It is listed, though, because the segments didn’t last long enough to really be list worthy, even if they were great, and Curtis is amazing and does his best with what he has.
3. Leo Kruger vs. Dante Dash
Another match on NXT where they don’t even bother announcing one of the opponents. It’s up to Saxton and Regal, as usual, to explain to those who do not know that Leo Kruger’s opponent tonight is Dante Dash. Now, I’m sure Chris Russo actually did announce Dash when he came to the ring, but someone back in editing felt it didn’t need to be on television. Of course, I was able to see Scott Stanford give the World Tour Report, so I guess I can’t complain about what they slid in there this time. Decent match that was all about Kruger and his abilities and showing off that Dash can take a beat from a smaller guy and sell it well.
2. Paige & Audrey Marie vs. Kaitlyn & Alicia Fox
In this we see signs of the Hollywood Express character that Audrey Marie plays with Mike Dalton and Xavier Woods at non-televised shows, but unfortunately there is no mention of it. Paige and Audrey Marie make an awkward pairing just because it seems like they were randomly thrown together. Of course the same can be said of Kaitlyn and Fox. Doesn’t take away from the abilities shown off in the ring, and while Audrey Marie still needs the most work, this was a 6:18 match that did not feel that way. For nearly the first four and a half minutes it was all Audrey Marie defending against Kaitlyn and Fox, but then Paige came in and became, “Paige all full of rage,” as Regal would point out. She won this easily in the minute or so remaining once she entered. Now why can’t Raw or Smackdown pay this much attention to the divas in ring? Wish I had known why they were fighting, though, where at least the divas on Raw and Smackdown currently have a plot.
1. Michael McGillicutty vs. Seth Rollins
Before this match can begin CM Punk comes out and shows he’ll be at ringside, watching the champ. Punk actually looked uncomfortable with the amount of times the camera went to him during this match. This was our main event! The first time Rollins was defending his title! And already he had another title-holder breathing down his neck. That does not take away from the match, which was a good main event for NXT. We knew McGillicutty would lose but it did not take away from the effort the men put into the ring.
Thanks, as always, to @lindseyhxx and her Sunset Flip Photography for graciously allowing me to use her photos in the blog. Also thanks to Trent Barreta and Jake Carter for doing well in their promo even though it was not given a lot of time.
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.
By now everyone knows that Raw had the largest drop off from the first to second hour in ratings in over four years. That’s huge. And it happened for a good reason. Raw was too carried away with its own momentum and storylines. After last week’s episode I had to wonder if the storyline was good, or bad. I ultimately went with good because I was not sure where it was going.
This week I still, even over twenty-four hours later, can not seem to conclude that what they did with it on Monday night was actually good. None of it really surprised me, besides JR’s firing.
But it’s Raw. There had to be some good to it, right?
And here’s the list I compiled of the good things, in order of appearance.
- CM Punk
I think most of CM Punk‘s lines speak for themselves:
“You want me to do commentary?” “I want you to do commentary.” “Can I wear your blazer?” “You can even wear my blazer.” “I’m in!”
“Don’t screw it up they say, how nice of the fans. Don’t screw it up.”
“I’m like Bob Uecker.”
“Who’s gonna win?”
Now we knew it could not last long. Punk alone on commentary is entertaining, but he needs someone to play up to. Of course everyone who follows me on twitter knows my dream team would be reuniting CM Punk and Scott Stanford. However, this really is just going to focus on what was good about Raw.
- Teaming up the four heels of Swagger, Rhodes, Christian, and Ziggler.
These four work well off of one another. If I could have my way, Vickie would be taking Cody Rhodes and Christian under her wing as well just so I can see more of all of them together. It also showed something very important: bullying still exists at ringside. The exact thing some of the wrestlers were protesting happened in the very first match back. The men behaved but it still was striking a point that was actually subtle.
- Cody Rhodes bagging Randy Orton.
Cody Rhodes interrupted the match between Mark Henry and Randy Orton, mostly because there was no way Henry was getting a third win over Randy Orton, cleanly. At least not at this point. When Cody Rhodes had one of his lackeys run and grab a bag I honestly had turned to my boyfriend and said, “There’s no way Rhodes bags him.” And was giddy when I was wrong. I’m a huge mark for Randy Orton and I was still cheering for Cody Rhodes and his Guccis! Cody decided to have a maniacal moment as he lost control of his laughter and the moment was exquisite.
- Rosa Mendes
She may not be the best wrestler of the diva division, but screw it, she’s the best looking. Also when Kelly Kelly had her in the corner and seemed to be trying to put her butt in Rosa’s face Rosa said no to that and pushed her away.
- The return of The Miz and R-Truth
Oh, we all knew they were coming back sooner or later. It was not even that shocking. However I love watching R-Truth and The Miz telling the audience, “You suck,” as they enter. R-Truth enunciates better as a rapper as a heel and with The Miz accompanying him the crowd can not help but boo. Especially as Michael Cole nearly jumps for joy as he sees his favorite tag team together again.
Now for what I might consider the bad part of Raw. Am I reading too much into the Morrison angle, or is this something the WWE is doing to toy with the fans because they know there is a lot of internet speculation? They’ve done it before. But Triple H did “re-sign” John Morrison. In turn John Morrison was one of the superstars to walk out on Triple H. Will Laurinaitis take that as a reason to fire Morrison? Rumors are that his contract are nearly up and they have lost interest in him. Since he returned he no longer seems to be the same Morrison that made ladies’ hearts throb.
I used to love John Morrison. The bedazzled pants, the fur jackets, the wavy salon style hair. Now he’s become Job Morrison and it’s a bit heartbreaking, if I could bring myself to be that invested. Internet rumors do not help my level of interest, but it will be interesting to see where it goes.
What was your favorite moment of Raw? What was your least?
Cole: “Way to go JR, I actually had some respect for ya.” JR: “Well that’s unnecessary.”
The biggest topics of conversation through the WWE of late have been CM Punk and Triple H. To be honest, I have a short term memory when it comes to wrestling. I do this for a reason. People’s styles change and their stories change. I want to like, or hate, a wrestler for what they are at this moment and not what they did years ago. Or else I might question my love for Dolph Ziggler more if I focus heavily on the Spirit Squad days. While at the same time Zack Ryder has only improved upon his character since he was having daydreams of Rose Mendes on ECW.
CM Punk was the villain, because we know that living your life against alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs could not be something we want to teach our children. CM Punk was the villain until he decided he deserved better than how he was being treated. He wanted to be not just A guy but THE guy.
CM Punk found his voice in July and became “The Voice of the Voiceless,” but then quickly just became “A voice”. Once CM Punk became a main eventer he began to lose focus on the change because he had what he wanted. Now instead of being the voice for those that the WWE was not listening to his real focus came into play; himself. It was always about CM Punk.
Now, I’ve said time and again I’m not an expert on wrestling. So when my friends turn and say he’s “sloppy” in the ring I will shrug and say, “If you say so,” because I don’t tend to notice. If I do notice an error in wrestling it’s probably a really bad sign (I’m looking at you Alex Riley). I can only say if I enjoy someone in the ring and if I enjoy the character I’m seeing on the screen.
I do not enjoy CM Punk any longer. In the ring or on the microphone. I’ve heard this speech before. Please move on.
In mentioning CM Punk I would be remiss if I left out Triple H. Triple H is the man the fans want to see. I do not care how many people complain about Triple H, I’ve been one of them. As I stated in an earlier blog he is the one with the most cheers. He’s the one still in the top 10 merchandise sales even without a new shirt. He never fully left the minds of the fans.
I have less thoughts on Triple H than I would like to. When he walks in I don’t feel excitement, but I don’t feel ire. I don’t scream his name but there is no desire to boo him. He does not bore me but he does not make me want to tune in for him. It’s complete apathy when it comes to Triple H. I wish I had stronger feelings about it because I would love to discuss it with a reasonable head, but I can’t. When people bring him up in anger I want to defend him, but when they bring up in some celebratory manner I want to tell them where to stick it. Never have I felt so conflicted on an entertainer within the WWE and it makes me feel I’m a horrible judge to talk about him in depth.
Which is why I turned to my favorite lot of wrestling fans and asked them their opinions on CM Punk and Triple H.
@yawsrko on CM Punk
Face turns always make me scrunch my nose, roll my eyes, and make me unable to give any fucks. After Luke Gallows was released and the Straight Edge Society seemed to disband w/o any real closure to the storyline, I sort of really didn’t care about Punk anymore.
Then what happened in July didn’t really change your mind about him?
I already didn’t care. Sure, I got a few chuckles when he’d sit in the middle of the ring cross-legged, but he wasn’t my reason for watching. Basically.. he entertained me, and it’s no fault of his own that Serena and Luke got released, but I felt Creative treated us like idiots. Not giving any closure/explanation to a storyline that was watchworthy.
On Triple H
Ever since Hunter fired off that line of “I’m not Hunter, I’m your boss,” I’ve had a hope that he chokes on a bowl of *censored*. There’s so much (awesome) truth to Miz calling HHH a hhhypocrite. I am so over Hunter it’s not funny. Why does he get new merch when he barely wrestles? Why can’t another guy who works his ass off get opportunities? I see HHH as the next Hogan. Where he doesn’t know when to knock it the hell off.
@TheSupremeForce thoughts on CM Punk
I’ve been a fan of CM Punk for years, with my favorite “era” being during the Straight Edge Society days. Sure, Punk jobbed constantly, but his character was fantastic. Also, I kind of miss Gallows and Serena.
The “New” Nexus was crap.
Punk’s “shoot” promo was highly entertaining, and I was firmly behind him during his “I’m leaving” match against Cena, but I loathe Cena, so take that for what it’s worth. Since Punk’s return, all he’s really done is spend a lot of time repeating himself on EVERY show. He’s become increasingly hypocritical, and generally started to turn into John Cena. At this point, it appears that the “change” Punk wanted was to be CM Cena. Congrats.
I keep hearing people blame everyone else for Punk’s perceived failure at becoming the #1 guy, but the reality is that he was never taking the spot, nor does he deserve it.
Thoughts on Triple H
Triple H receives a lot of hate from “internet fans.” That’s nothing new. I’ll admit that I’m a long time fan of the guy, but I’ll admit that he does tend to eat up too much television time, especially since he’s not an active competitor. If Triple H wanted to return to a (nearly) full time schedule, I’d say go for it. But I don’t like hypocritical, pander obnoxiously to the fans Triple H. Make it stop. Please.
A lot of people have accused Triple H of “burying” CM Punk during their brief feud that brought zero closure. Maybe he did. That being said, I don’t care. Once Punk started spouting off his lame ass “shoots” every week, it opened the door for people to respond in kind. If CM Punk can’t out talk Triple H in that sort of environment, screw Punk.
The fact remains that Triple H is vastly more popular than CM Punk right now. Punk was unable to do anything about it, leaving me to conclude that Punk is really a lot of bark with little actual substance behind his words. Triple H tends to sound like a knob lately, as well, so it’s not like he’d even set the bar all that high.
I certainly haven’t been watching Raw in order to see either guy. The WWE has been doing a lot of things well recently, but that wasn’t one of them.
@MarkBilly on CM Punk
If you look on the internet, the internet will gladly impart the wisdom that FacePunk is much like the man behind CM Punk, he is Straight-Edge but isn’t militant like HeelPunk. However FacePunk and HeelPunk are as close to the man behind Punk as Viscera is compared to ‘CM Punk’ of now.
The fact is CM Punk hasn’t been seen in WWE for the past few months, the man masquerading as CM Punk has been Phil Brooks. The smarter ones will know Phil Brooks IS CM Punk but until now the reverse hasn’t been true.
Starting with THAT promo CM Punk has gone and Phil Brooks stands in his place. Everything PhilPunk has said in the past few months has been from the heart of Phil Brooks (with a little added WWE glitter). PhilPunk shook wrestling and the aftershocks are still working their way through WWE, but to think that this is new for CM Punk is wrong. The highlights of his promo are nothing different to past work by CM Punk. He used the ‘in my hands this microphone is a pipebomb’ line in Ring of Honor. In his closing days of his ROH stint he threatened to walk out with the ROH belt to WWE, in fact he did leave the building with the belt when faced with a challenger (though he did return to defend, and relinquish, the belt, he didn’t (kayfabe) leave the company).
The idea of trying to change things isn’t new either, when TNA stopped its talent from wrestling with ROH Punk tried to persuade then champion and fellow ROH buddy AJ Styles to speak up and resist, he hypothesised that if the ‘ROH guys’ stuck together they would be allowed to continue wrestling for ROH.
So history tells us that nothing overly new is occurring, so why is it only now that it has any effect? Simple – scale. I don’t know the viewing figures for WWE but a live WWE mic puts you in more auditory canals than a ROH mic does or no mic at all and that is a big factor. To paraphrase Biffy Clyro, PhilPunk wants to affect a change, with voice and electrical noises. The self appointed (and universally approved) Voice Of The Voiceless now has the electrical noises and is sending billions of volts surging around WWE. He’s popular because he’s saying what a lot of people think and is doing what Styles failed to do, using his position to speak up. Ten million hands on keyboards have nothing on one live mic.
To summarise, I think Punk’s character and current angle is great, it’s been waiting to happen in WWE for a long time. Long may it continue, but just to be sure, shovels at the ready because a microphone doesn’t work if it’s buried, the faster the dig, the faster we get our Voice back.
Now I really should put my immortality potion in the fridge before it goes off…
On Triple H
Triple H needs to decide whether he wants to be a wrestler or an authority figure, and when he does he better start doing a good job at it. There’s no place for an authority figure that sucks up to the crowd and there’s no place for a face Triple H.
Triple H is still doing the things he has done throughout his career that stops him from getting the respect he would like. Triple H would sell his own children to get what he wants (before you start stalking his house Angelina Jolie, I’m joking… I think).
Triple H started from the bottom as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, few would argue that he did well and was destined to shine once he ditched the terrible gimmick he was stuck with. This was not good enough for him though and he destroyed anyone who might stop him getting to the top.
Now he’s COO he doesn’t need to be liked, Vince McMahon never needed to be, his sole job should be to put over his talent. His past glories and WWE Universe’s belief that he can bring back the hallowed Attitude era mean he’ll be honoured and respected. Unless he is going to be hypocritical he needs to use this for the company’s benefit, not his own. The sarcastic comments he makes after one of ‘his talent’ speaks makes people forget what that talent said and a lot of the time they have a very good point.
For example, Wade Barrett spoke on Raw this week, one of the best up and coming mic men in the business according to just about everybody… Who remembers what he said? I only have a vague recollection of subject and remember that he delivered a fabulous speech but Triple H took all the heat and momentum out of Barrett with the smarmy remark about the Nexus, all of which occurred whilst Triple H was injured, not on WWE TV and before the position of COO was ever imagined. It left people wondering why he brought it up, rather than basking in the wonderful words of Wade Barrett.
Many men have tried to go on too long and tarnished their legacy, Michael Schumacher (google him), Ronaldo (google him), Bret Favre (you probably won’t need to google him).
Triple H is in danger of doing this, I have never been a fan of his but that doesn’t mean I want him to ruin his legacy.
It will be interesting to see what this vote of no confidence brings about in WWE and how Triple H reacts to it.
Which group will Triple H join – Armstrong, Lauda, Favre (2nd comeback) or Leonard, Borg, Favre (1st comeback)?
Since I’ve been talking about predictability in the WWE, @TheSupremeForce, @yawsrko and I decided to test our guessing skills.
Christian vs. Sheamus
They do not seem to want to bury Christian entirely and yet they do not want to give him a shot. Sheamus is a powerhouse that is hard to contend with on any level, and did just come off a loss with Cody. Winner: Sheamus
I don’t think it’s going to be clean, which makes it tougher. It’s either going to be Sheamus wins via count out or Christian wins via… cheating. Winner: Sheamus
It’s a Sheamus Thing. Lobsterhead. Christian’s annoying and could wind up dead. OHHH. These words are true. I’ll make you believe…actually I think it’s bc Xtian’s not really in the WHC picture and Facemus needs the win more. Winner: Fa- er, Sheamus
Sin Cara vs. Sin Cara
Sin Cara and his new black mask versus Sin Cara of the old Blue Mask. I’m looking forward to this, and going to be rooting for the black masked Sin Cara, but ultimately it will be the blue masked Sin Cara that wins. If anything, there will be epic finger pointing. Winner: Sin Cara of the blue mask.
I’m going to pick the blue mask Sin Cara. Not because I think he should win but because looking through the card there is a lot of potential for heels to win and this is the one match where the face winning will make sense. Winner: Blue Mask Sin Cara
Let me adjust my lighting for my next prediction. Let me use my best Hogan voice for this prediction for the Mano y Mano match. BOTCHAMANIA RUNNIN WILD BROTHER..and I choose Blue Sin Cara. I choose blue because he’s the good guy and if he gets suspended for drugs again, they can just put the old outfit on the other guy. Winner: Blue Sin Cara
Winner: Sin Cara Azul – as Michael Cole called him
Since the tag match was a “surprise” there were no official predictions for this. However before the match began all three called that it would be Air Boom as the winners over Swagger and Ziggler.
Mark Henry vs. Randy Orton
Mark Henry won at the last one. Cleanly. Their best bet would be keeping the title on him, even if Randy had to lose by disqualification. But since Randy Orton is almost in John Cena country when it comes to needing to be feuding for the title, my prediction is: Winner: Randy Orton.
Mark Henry keeps the title. I don’t know if I see him winning cleanly again, but I see him keeping the title. Winner: Mark Henry
Somebody gonna get his scruff squished, ’cause somebody else got this Monster gimmick. Henry crushed Kane, Big Show..if RKO destroys him….now, then it’ll hurt both of them. Henry bc SuperOrton will have ended the run, and Orton because he’d be little more than Cena Jr. Winner: Mark Henry
Winner: Mark Henry
Impromptu Cody Rhodes versus Job, er, John Morrison. Again, not one on the official predictions but all three of us guessed Cody before the match finished.
Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix
I want Beth Phoenix to win. I want Beth Phoenix to win. No more roll ups from an inferior wrestler, please! Winner: Clinging to the hope of Beth Phoenix
Beth’s gotta win this one. If she doesn’t it ruins any credibility the angle had. Winner: Beth Phoenix
Has to be Beth. HAS to be. There’s only so much Kelly everybody can take. Just ask CM Punk…But seriously. Kelly looking strong has only made Beth look weaker. One more loss would make the Divas of Doom look like Doofus Divas. Winner: Beth Phoenix
Winner: Beth Phoenix. She had better win after all of that screaming. My head feels like it’s about to split.
John Cena vs. CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio
CM Punk is not getting the title back right now. He actually has an angle going on that doesn’t even need to revolve around him having the title. It’s almost foolish to have him with the title. The fight is really John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio and Del Rio deserves to have the title. But it’s Hell in a Cell. Winner: John Cena retains the title
The tour where they go to Mexico is coming up soon. They have built Del Rio up as a solid contender for the title. Winner: Alberto Del Rio
I’m guessing that the whole car rental thing for Del Rrrrrrrrrio might be finding its way to a budget cut. So he can’t win. While my gut is screaming Cena, and the summer (and Summer of Punk, apparently) is over…let me take Punk. To be, like, rebellious and shit. Or something. Winner: CM Punk
Winner: Alberto Del Rio!!
And then enters The Miz and R-Truth and laid waste to everyone, even the camera guy. However, as Joey Image pointed out on my timeline, “Not one of these guys thought to grab the bolt cutters?” True, but would that have been as fun? Just like R-Truth and The Miz allowing themselves to be arrested so that the wrestlers could not jump them on their way out. Triple H jumps them anyway, though honestly the police would have arrested him as well for assaulting someone already under arrest.
Breakdown for predictions:
TheSupremeForce at 100%
Yawsrko at 85%
Solace at 71%
The two I was wrong on actually made me happy to be wrong. I’m still, and likely always will be, a huge Randy Orton fan but he does not need the title to be popular. I ended up finding that pay-per-view far more interesting than I was assuming it would be going in. Well put together matches and Cole, JR, and Booker worked well off of one another. Cole was a bit more understated, Booker got in his few good lines, and JR stuck to what he does best which is blending with the other voices. Storylines weren’t really furthered to be honest except for the two Sin Caras.