WWE Smackdown and Raw - May 11th and May 14th, 2012
We'll try something a bit different for this week - a bit of a roundup for the shows surrounding the weekend. This means we start with Smackdown, which itself starts with a recap of how we've come to have a Fatal Fourway for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Sheamus comes out; once again, we have the Champ opening a show.
Match 1 - Sheamus and Randy Orton vs Chris Jericho and Alberto del Rio
Winners: No contest
The match runs as a standard tag, but eventually ends up with all four men in the ring and the ref throws the match out. What we saw was ok; the norm, but nothing special. What this does, however is set up two matches for later tonight: Sheamus vs Jericho and Orton vs ADR. Eve brings this decree to us because...well...they put her in this position, so might as well use her. Highlight of this one for me was Cole telling us that Sheamus has a 25% chance of winning at Over the Limit and that it's mathematically impossible for him to win. Nothing about that sentence was correct.
Match 2 - AJ vs Kaitlyn
Winner: AJ via pinfall
I'm so happy to get to type that - AJ hasn't seen proper action for at least a month at this point. There was no back and forth here: AJ dropkicked Kaitlyn low then landed something that rests between a Shining Wizard and Shining Apprentice for the three (Which coincidentally was her finish from FCW). AJ continues to be aggressive after the match and continues to wail on Kaitlyn. Daniel Bryan comes out and says that he's impressed; this was the passion he felt AJ was missing. He continues to be the emotionally abusive ex and tells AJ that he's ready to move on...to Kaitlyn. AJ makes a face that would make Psycho Sid go "this bitch crazy" and storms out.
Still holding out on her lashing out at Bryan; if they continue in this direction and eventually have her explode on Bryan and be a heelish little devil, I'm all for it. If they drop it and forget about it like WWE are so apt to do, I'll be disappointed; AJ is one of the best female talents they have.
Match 3 - Daniel Bryan vs Big Show
Winner: Daniel Bryan via "submission"
"Submission" because Big Johnny gave Big Show the ol' Montreal Screwjob on this one. Bryan slaps on the Yes!lock and Johnny immediately rings the bell from out of nowhere; there was no indication to the TV audience that he was even at ringside. Ace is holding Big Show mocking his voice against him and wants a "damn good" apology on Monday. I'd much rather see Bryan look strong leading into the PPV rather than a cheap heel win thanks to the heel boss, but we still have Raw for that to happen...
Match 4 - Heath Slater vs Ryback
Winner: Ryback via pinfall
Slater is in the ring before Ryback enters, jawing about Ryback having beaten nobodies so far. Then Ryback comes out and does the same old shtick: Decapitating lariat and the hanging Fisherman's Buster Samoan Drop. Nothing else of note here. Ryback can continue this style for a while, as squashes are a cornerstone of pro wrestling, but people will eventually get tired of it, so I hope something is planned for him moving forward.
Match 5 - Alex Riley vs Antonio Cesaro
Winner: Antonio Cesaro via pinfall
Cesaro still has the ludicrously generic music and Titantron he had in his 'tryout'; here's hoping he gets something a bit more character-specific in the near future. Cesaro comes out with Aksana. Quick back and forth action until Cesaro catches Riley in the Gotch Style Neutralizer (still not sure where this name came from aside from the Internet) and wins it.
Aksana tells Long that she and Cesaro are lovers. That was unnecessary. The implication was there; a bit of subtlety goes a long way. More from Cesaro moving forward, I hope; he has the potential to be a great WWE talent. Possibly the best chance of the 'indy' guys that went through FCW.
Match 6 - Randy Orton vs Alberto del Rio
Winner: Randy Orton via DQ
Normally I'd piss and moan here that the entrances were not shown; we already saw them tonight, so it's ok to skip them to save time here. Ricardo attack's Orton's arm without getting caught then eventually climbs the top turnbuckle to stop Orton coiling for the RKO. He flies at Orton, who catches him with the RKO, but gets wrapped in the Cross Armbreaker from ADR. At this rate, everyone in WWE is going to have a busted arm. This is the second time recently that Ricardo has interfered this way; he's wrestled in FCW, perhaps they're going to let him stretch his wrestling muscles in WWE sometime soon. Or at the very least, touch on the fact that he's not JUST an announcer. Either way, he's one of the best on screen personalities we have right now.
Match 7 - R-Truth vs Jack Swagger
Winner: R-Truth via pinfall
The usual Little Jimmy nonsense goes down, with Kofi confused by Truth. The match ends with both partners (Ziggler and Kofi) with shenanigans on the outside and Swagger taking a Trouble in Paradise from the floor and stumbling into the Little Jimmy jumping reverse STO. Now the teams are 1-1 in wins going into Over the Limit. WWE, please let that record stand and have both teams do something else until the PPV; maybe have the heels interfere on the faces in another match, but no more direct matches between the four men.
Match 8 - Santino Marella and Zack Ryder vs Darren Young and Titus O'Neil
Winners: Young and O'Neil via pinfall
Pretty standard tag, which is not a bad thing. The new guys continue to look strong by beating guys with pinfalls and the shenanigans kept to a minimum. The best part of this team right now is their after-match promos and songs. They're silly, they're fun and they're entertaining. Just let these guys continue to show their personality and be smug and beat opponents in the middle of the ring; that's all it takes, WWE. The team finished the match off with a sidewinder elbow drop (backbreaker -> elbow drop) combination. It's been different every week - Hart Attack from the top, Powerbomb/Clothesline combo and now the sidewinder (Which Booker T called the "Ghettoblaster"). I have a feeling they'll settle on the the sidewinder, but no idea if Booker's name will stick.
Damien Sandow has a short interview and vows to expose the false prophets of enlightenment, as well as apologize to Matt Striker for frightening the former teacher with his vernacular. The verbiage is there; we need to see him get in the ring eventually.
Match 9 - Brodus Clay vs Hunico
Winner: Brodus Clay via pinfall
Hunico and Camacho attack before the bell. Clay still wants to fight. He does. An exploder and a splash. We all know how this goes at this point. The kids still enjoy the shtick, as do quite a number of fans, which is fine. Personally, I'm entirely burnt out on it. There's only so many ways to say "I want to see something new" from the guy; as of now, there's no indication of a change pending.
Match 10 - Chris Jericho vs Sheamus (World Heavyweight Champion), non-title
Winner: No contest OR Chris Jericho via DQ
As usual, no announcement is made after bedlam breaks out, but Jericho was thrown into the stairs by del Rio, which by all rights makes him the winner via DQ. The match itself was fine; Chris Jericho always stands to have a good match. After the match's breakdown, del Rio slaps the Cross Armbreaker on Sheamus' bad arm, then Orton slides in and breaks it up. Sheamus and Orton fight over who's going to fight ADR and Jericho sneaks in to deliver a Codebreaker to ADR. Del Rio then takes an RKO and a Brough Kick. Poor guy.
Normally this would be a bit odd, but ADR slammed Jericho into the stairs to end the match, so this is why the heels are at odds here. There's tension between all the men for the match at Over the Limit, so the odds of some temporary alliances are pretty slim. Sheamus will go into the match with a hurt arm, so we'll see how that plays out. Sometimes he's unable to lift a guy; other times he can do the Irish Curse with that same bad arm.
This leads us the weekend, which leads us to Raw
HHH tells Ace that he'll head to the ring and tell the world how he feels about the current goings on. In a very long winded fashion, HHH tells us that Lesnar has offended himself, the WWE Universe and the legends of the sport. HHH takes a pot shot at Lesnar and says that Cena never quits. Lesnar's music hits and outcomes Paul Heyman. He has a lawyer with him, serves HHH with papers and readies to leave. He tells HHH that he should have expected this when he brought a "fighter" into an "entertainment company". It's not Heyman's fault, but this is the worst possible verbiage to use in professional wrestling. Way to suck that legitimacy that Lesnar was supposed to bring right back out. He delivers a message to HHH from Lesnar that on a personal level, he's disappointed in how things turned out. HHH slaps the mic out of Heyman's hand and grabs him by the face and Heyman is able to squeak out "what are you doing" over and over , which is hilarious. Now HHH has two lawsuits on his hands.
Heyman plays the part of a sneak and sleazy creep so incredibly well, on top of being solid on the mic. The more time Heyman spends in front of the crowd with a mic in his hands, the better. He will continue to keep Lesnar's name fresh in people's heads without Lesnar being physically present.
Match 1 - CM Punk and Santino Marella vs Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan
Winners: CM Punk and Santino Marella via pinfall
Two shows in a row with the respective champ jerking the curtain. An all around solid and fun tag match. Three of WWE's champions are in the ring and everyone looks solid in their roles. Santino plays the comedy man as good as anybody, and one of the visual highlights of the match is his attempt at the hot tag coming up short.
The end with Cody being scared of the Cobra and stumbling into the GTS is another great spot, but more importantly, Punk gets a win over the IC champ and never takes his eyes of Bryan who leaves Rhodes to rot. The match between Punk and Bryan at Over the Limit has all the potential in the world to be a top notch match.
Match 2 - Alicia Fox vs Beth Phoenix
Winner: Beth Phoenix via pinfall
Standard Beth squash - a press slam, a Glamslam and a solid win. Layla watches from the stage to assess her next opponent, but when Beth continues to attack Fox after the match, Layla hits the ring and protects her, sending Phoenix scampering away.
Layla's been gone for a while, but she's a solid worker and if WWE just gives them a few minutes at OtL, they should be able to put on a good showing for us.
Match 3 - Big Show vs Kane
Winner: Kane via pinfall
A video package is shown concerning Show's voice-related transgression from last week, so we know right away that will play in. Mid match, Ace demands Show's apology, causing him to walk into a Kane Chokeslam and lose. Ace demands a damn good apology from Show and eventually tells him to hit his knees and beg. Show fights it, and spills his heart to Ace, who eventually leaves and says he'll reconsider. When he reaches the stage, he gives his decision; after Show has begged on his knees to keep his job because he loves it so much, Ace wishes him his best in his future endeavors. This dragged on a bit, but it's alright; they gave Show time to express his passion for the business. He was willing to never have another title shot just to continue coming out for the kids. Very Cena-esque here. Ultimately, he's made to look like a crybaby, even if he does have a huge passion for what he does. For now, bye-bye Big Show.
Match 4 - Brodus Clay, Kofi Kingston and R-Truth vs The Miz, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger
Winners: Clay, Kingston and Truth via pinfall
What an atrocious juxtoposition. An icon of pro wrestling for nearly 20 years just cried to keep his job and we follow it with the Funkasaurus. We get standard tag fare until Ziggler runs into a headbutt from Clay on the apron, followed by a brutal looking Trouble in Paradise to Miz and the big Funkasaurus Splash.
Abraham Washington, the Colons, Rosa and Mason Ryan watch from a skybox. One more week of establishing that these people exist, but doing nothing productive with them. Mason Ryan just keeps coming back like a big bulky boomerang.
The WWE Rewind: Smackdown's main event breaking down and more reason for the Fatal Four Way at Over the Limit for Sheamus' World Heavyweight Title.
Match 5 - Chris Jericho vs Randy Orton
Winner: Chris Jericho via DQ
Sheamus is on commentary and repeatedly tells Michael Cole what a dingus he is; I'm fine with this. Orton starts his usual ending sequence, but Jericho and he wind up on the floor. Jericho whips Orton into Sheamus and rolls Orton back into the ring, but ends up in the second rope DDT. Orton coils for the RKO, but Sheamus drags Jericho out and levels him. The ref calls for the bell and Orton is none too happy about it. I like this; it gives the men all the more reason to all be at odds with one another come Sunday and it's that rare reinforcement that wins matter. Orton is mad at Sheamus specifically because he cost him what was soon to be a victory. The two want to fight, but it gets broken up, which is another good choice here.
During the commercial, Eve tweets that Orton and Sheamus will wrestle on Smackdown. There goes that good decision. And it was done via Twitter. Then announced on TV. That's so unnecessary.
We end Raw with a painfully drawn out John Lauranatis and John Cena promo. Ace tells us that Cena and all his fans are losers. Cena comes out and mocks Ace's voice; apparently this is no longer a punishable offense. Cena says Ace was a scumbag before but now he's the "king of all douchebags". Just leaving it there would have been fine, but we get 10 minutes of Cena trying to channel Jim Carrey and calling Ace a loser everytime he tries to speak. It's just WAY too much. The happy go lucky Cena is back when just a week ago, he was all intensity, all focus, all drive, all business. Now he's just altogether annoying. To top it all off, Cena goes for the cheap Pittsburgh Penguin pops from the crowd. Cena then pulls a puck out of his pocket, tosses it at Ace and tells him to "go puck himself". Ace tells Cena he's taller and better looking than Cena, then gets a memo from Eve. Cena rips it out of Ace's hands and reads aloud that the match on Sunday will be one on one and no shenanigans are to ensue: No special refs, nobody allowed at ringside, can only win by pin or submission and if any superstar interferes, they're to be immediately terminated. On top of all that, if Cena wins, Lauranaitis is fired. Ace slaps Cena and leaves.
"Superstar" is the key word here. This is a dead give away that OTL will either see a non-superstar appear or a recently departed ex-superstart interfere. How badly does Big Show want his job back? Enough to screw John Cena? I hope not; the 'captive' heel thing was done with Cena a while back and it was awful. Either a setup where Ace and Show were in cahoots all night or someone else interfering could come as well. WWE seems to like changing things at the last minute when something seems 'too' obvious. Most of the time that's a bad call. A bit of predictability isn't bad; it's just important to find that balance.