WWE Smackdown, Over the Limit and Raw - May 18th, 20th and 21st, 2012
Let's get right into Smackdown; there's a lot to cover this weekend and I spent most of it playing Project M (http://www.thegeekasylum.net/2012/05/project-m-super-smash-bros-melee.html) because Smash Bros is almost crack...almost.
John Lauranaitis disagrees with the Board of Directors and asks for the crowd to say a prayer for him as he readies to face John Cena. CM Punk comes out (because this is what the WWE champion needs to concern himself with, apparently) and says we've all gotten our prayers answered - John vs John at Over the Limit. Because Ace is still in charge, he puts Punk against Kane tonight, because I'm sure he hopes that the champion gets hurt heading into a PPV. THAT will put some fingers on the "buy" button, right? Johnny finishes by telling the crowd to go to hell. Alright then.
Match 1 - Kofi Kingston and R-truth (Tag Team Champions) vs Darren Young and Titus O'Neil, non title
Winners: Kofi Kingston and R-Truth via Pinfall
Standard fare, with the exception of a very ROH-style bump with Young giving Kofi a belly-to-back on the ring apron. Ouch. Tag champs look strong going into a PPV defense with a clean win and the new guys weren't made to look like goofballs. Fair enough.
Zack Ryder is recording his webshow on his iPhone when Damien Sandow walks in and casts a disgusted glance in his direction then heads to the ring. I love Ryder in WWE but to be fair, if Zack Ryder wasn't a television character, I'd react the same way.
Match 2 - Damien Sandow vs Yoshi Tatsu
Sandow comes out and does the same thing as last time; he shan't sully his good name by having a contest with an unworthy ignoramus. Tatsu calls him chicken and clucks into the mic, and apparently that's enough for Sandow - he hits the ring and gives Tatsu a full nelson into the turnbuckle then drops him with a neckbreaker with both of Tatsu's arms crossed around his own neck (A straightjacket neckbreaker?).
Sheamus and Orton are in the back and have a back and forth, pointing out how each has a flaw and such. Sheamus harnesses being a hothead, Orton used to be so overconfident he looked like an idiot. Sheamus says he's a nice guy, Orton says that will be his downfall; we know nice guys finish. Lots of words, didn't get anywhere.
Match 3 - Zack Ryder vs Daniel Bryan
Winner: Daniel Bryan via submission
Both guys get a great crowd reaction. Ryder is the eternal underdog in WWE and the kids love him and Bryan is a bonafide wrestling star - he can make a crowd love him or hate him. Bryan dodges a Broski Boot by giving Ryder a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle. He follows with kicking the rope into Ryder's face, an execution kick and then the Yes!lock. Short but sweet. I enjoy Ryder in the ring, but I'm not a huge fan of his "get knees up to block and the guy falls into another corner for the Broski Boot" spot. Little too contrived to happen all the time. If that's the biggest complain to lobby about the action, though, I'd say they're doing a great job in the ring.
Speaking of complaints, Booker T emphasized in this match the educated feet of CM Punk, leading to the match at the PPV. He makes no mention of how effective Bryan's kicks are, even after he damn near decapitated Ryder with a roundhouse. Should just hit the SAP button during these shows...
Match 4 - CM Punk (WWE Champion) vs Kane, non-title
Winner: Kane via DQ
Bryan is on commentary and points out he and Punk being similar. Punk kicks hard, I kick harder. The Anaconda Vise is devastating, the Yes!lock is moreso. Kane pulls out all the stops focusing on the midsection in this match - pendulum backbreakers, body scissors, bearhugs. Bit odd, as if they wanted to play up an injured body part, Bryan's finisher is a shoulder/neck lock. Punk lands a suicide dive on Kane and Bryan goes to hit him with a chair; Punk catches him, so Bryan whacks Kane in the back and runs like hell. Punk picks up the chair and Kane catches him red handed, enraging him. Kane attacks Punk with the chair and then chokeslams him twice. In one action, Bryan cost his opponent the match and got his ass whooped two days prior to his title shot. Brilliant psychological warfare. No commentator makes mention of this at all. They get PAID FOR THIS.
The cameras make it a point to show Punk selling his back/ribs after the attack; this will play into the PPV match.
We get the WWE rewind to the Punk/Santino vs Rhodes/Bryan match. This of course means some of these guys will be involved next.
Match 5 - Santino Marella (US Champion) vs Cody Rhodes (Intercontinental Champion)
Winner: Santino Marella via pinfall
Told ya! Santino is shown giving his belt puppy talk because he loves it so much in an inset interview. Cody whiffs a moonsault, but avoids the Cobra with a dropkick. Santino split-ducks under Rhodes on the return and lands the Cobra for three. Having Champ vs Champ means somebody has to lose, but it's a shame to see a future World Champion drop to Santino in such a short match. Santino's fun, he really is, but Cody needs to be built as a proper threat to other wrestlers and lately it just doesn't seem to be the MO.
The Raw Recap shows Big Show's blubbering and subsequent future endeavoring. Then they show tweets about it. Great.
Match 6 - Randy Orton vs Sheamus (World Heavyweight Champion), non-title
Pretty standard stuff from both men at the open, until Sheamus tries a Brough Kick outside and kicks the ringpost. Orton goes right after Sheamus and focuses on the still-hurt arm. Orton drops Sheamus with a single arm DDT in the ring and Sheamus tries the Celtic Cross, with Orton escapes. The Cross is equivalent to the Lionsault at this point; it will always get countered or avoided. Orton lands a belly to belly, which is pretty new for him. Sheamus once again lands the Irish Curse with his bad arm and counters the RKO, leading to Orton ducking the Brough Kick and Sheamus landing a rollup for a quick pin. Orton is less than thrilled and drops the champ with the RKO.
So, heading into the PPV, Punk is more concerned with Johnny Ace than Daniel Bryan, Damien Sandow refuses to wrestle again, the Intercontinental Champion is shown to be less capable than a sock puppeteer and the World Heavyweight Champion is even with at least one of his opponents. Bit of an odd mix going into a PPV. Without a doubt, Punk/Bryan will be a show stealer, as long as WWE doesn't shoehorn some nonsense in there to make it anything more or less than a great wrestling match. AJ is still a bit of an X-factor; she didn't appear on Smackdown, but she's shown an interest in both competitors. I'd still be happy to see a full on snap in the girl, but I'd hate to see it at the cost of the impending match. Afterwards, sure, but let this match go and let the 'small' guys show what they can do and why the internet fans are so damn rabid to see them on TV.
Speaking of being rabid to watch something, this brings us to the PPV with a match of the year contender and a main event that involved shrinkage.
WWE Over the Limit, May 20th, 2012
WWE seems to be liking this 30 minute Youtube preshow, as they have a match on it for the second show in a row.
Preshow Match - Zack Ryder vs Kane
Winner: Kane via pinfall
Hard to enjoy a match that you miss half of, since the stream on Youtube was having huge issues. Kane counters a Rough Ryder into a chokeslam and pins Ryder. Extremely standard and it's a shame to see Ryder on the Youtube preshow if they don't somehow integrate his own Youtube show which is what got him noticed in the first place. We're at a month of Ryder not being on Raw; not looking good.
Match 1 - People Power Battle Royal
It's no fun to read how a battle royal goes, especially a mediocre one. Tyson Kidd did some cool stuff and Christian played the default face when Miz and Otunga double teamed him. The only important facet here is that the winner got to pick either a US title shot or an Intercontinental title shot. Christian selects the US title but changes his mind later in the night after some Rhodes trash talk. Definitely not a match you need to go out of your way to see.
Match 2 - Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (c) vs Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler, Tag Team Championship
Winners: Kofi Kingston and R-Truth via pinfall
Again, a good match with nothing in particular to stick out aside from a couple creative moves - Swagger and Ziggler teamed up for a wheelbarrow facebuster and Kofi finished the match by kicking Ziggler out of mid air with the Trouble in Paradise. Ziggler and Swagger continue to be losers and Kofi/Truth continue to be the face champs - it's the same as Kofi's run with Bourne. Ziggler desperately needs to break away for good singles matches and be allowed to shine in ways that don't involve dangerous bumps.
Eve tells Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins to go take anti-Johnny signs from the crowd. Nice to see them show up; both guys are pretty solid in the ring, and even though it might be a 'tame' version, it's always nice to see Reks drop someone with the Burning Hammer.
Match 3 - Layla (c) vs Beth Phoenix, Divas Championship
Winner: Layla via pinfall
The ladies got about 7 minutes here; 5 more than a normal Divas match. With these two, I'd expect a good solid match; the pacing was good and they had back and forth offense but there were a bunch of mistimes, missteps and mistakes. I'd like to see them get another shot to show what they can do together, but I'd still like AJ to pop up into contention for the title as she can be a solid worker. Maxine from NXT needs to show up on the main roster as well; she has a good look and a great Dragon Sleeper finisher.
Match 4 - Sheamus (c) vs Chris Jericho vs Randy Orton vs Alberto del Rio, World Heavyweight Championship
Winner: Sheamus via pinfall
Much like the battle royal, this type of match is hard to discuss without a good visual. I'd recommend you find some way to watch this - There was quite a bit of good action in the 15 minutes the match lasted. Sheamus wins on PPV with the White Noise, solidifying it as a viable alternate finish to the Brogue Kick. We haven't seen the move in a few weeks.
Everyone else fired off most of their signature offense and a lot of the action involved only two men in the ring at a given time; makes it a bit easier for the crowd to focus on the 'important' action and WWE to draw attention where it wants to.
Match 5 - Brodus Clay vs The Miz
Winner: Brodus Clay via pinfall
|This guy was the most must see superstar at some point. Now he's splash-fodder|
It was a Brodus clay match. I've typed the same twenty words about these matches for two months now. Miz danced before hand because, well...I got nothing. Miz has fallen from grace and is now a repeat victim of Brodus Clay's splash. You need a come down match, yes, so this serves that purpose.
Match 6 - Cody Rhodes (c) vs Christian, Intercontinental Championship
Winner: Christian via pinfall
Christian's back, he's your IC champ and he's apparently a face. Rhodes has been booked like a goof the last couple weeks (big waste of talent) and Christian was a whiny face before he left (big waste of a potential proper turn). Technically sound match, because both men can work like fiends, but Rhodes deserves better title runs. Christian works better as a face; the crowd loves him and always has. It just would have been nice to have an actual turn rather than "Well Cody was a jerk and Christian kicked his butt - he's a good guy!". I love the old school IC strap that Cody has had for the last few months, but on Christian's tights it looks like an odd contrast.
Match 7 - CM Punk (c) vs Daniel Bryan, WWE Championship
Winner: CM Punk via pinfall
Here's my description for this match: Go watch this match. If you're reading this, you likely know the outcome (well, I told you that part) and the 'controversy' surrounding it. Regardless, watch the damn match. The action was excellent, they gave the guys 25 minutes to tell their story and guess what? THEY TOLD THEIR STORY. Bryan didn't try to shenanigan his way to the title - He pushed the WWE champion to his limit by wrestling him.
|Yes, this match gets two images. It earned them.|
Bryan steals his own spot from his rivalry with Nigel McGuinness
Match 8 - Ryback vs Camacho
What was that I said about comedown matches before? Hunico was announced as the opponent, but Camacho wrestled. Then Ryback killed him with the usual offense. Ryback is squashing non-local talent now, but there has to be some forward thinking for him. It's the same thing Brodus does without the fat guy, the dancing and the chicks. When you type it out that way, Brodus definitely has a leg up on Ryback. Standard squash, crowd got bored.
Match 9 - John Cena vs John Lauranaitis, if Lauranaitis loses he gets terminated
This amounted to Cena abusing Big Johnny for 17 minutes. Consider this: Four of the top superstars in WWE got 15 minutes to fight over the World Heavyweight Championship. Cena got more than that to do comedy spots with Johnny Ace. I'll admit the first little poof of fire extinguisher made me laugh. Nothing else did. Cena poured water down Ace's pants and apparently that caused shrinkage. I shudder to think how Booker T knew that.
Logically, Cena is made to look like a complete boob - He could have gotten rid of Johnny by dropping him, pinning him in 30 seconds and then proceeded to abuse the old SOB. But no, he had to play with his prey and then get punched in the mush by the now-heel Big Show. Good job, John. As they say on the indies: You fucked up.
|You deserve it John. Cocky faces never prevail.|
Almost there, folks...this leads us to Raw just one night later. Mr John Cena is not a happy camper and he's eager to inform us.
Cena comes out and he is MAD. It's not the 'how' of why Ace pinned him just one night ago, but the 'why' that's bothering him. Cena defends his toying with Ace for 17 minutes by saying that Big Show would have stopped him the moment Cena tried to win. So where was Show during the two STFs? For that matter, where was he from the start? Just walk on out and ambush Cena right away. The whole thing is full of holes. Cena's mad that now we're stuck with Ace. Your fault, chief. Speaking of, Big Johnny comes out on the ramp in a rascal scooter selling the match last night. From here on out, any physicality against Johnny is an immediate termination. He tells us that he hired Big Show back on Saturday (Which Michael Cole would fix on commentary later in the night, as the internet caught WWE in its huge plot hole). Show says he received no sympathy from the crowd for being fired; the same crowd that begged him not to get on his knees and beg for his job. The same crowd that buys his merch. Another hole in all of this. Now Show has an iron clad contract. And, he'll face Cena at No Way Out. Then David Otunga enters the scene and dedicates his challenge to John Cena to John Lauranaitis. Super.
Match 1 - John Cena vs David Otunga
Winner: John Cena via submission
Cena beats the bejeezus out of Otunga, gives him an Attitude Adjustment then makes him tap via STF.
Altogether a messy way to open a Raw and follow Over the Limit. There's more holes in the story and logic than normal here. And we had to see David Otunga wrestle. Also, Jerry Lawler tries to crack a late joke about Ace's rascal scooter and asks if he got it from Wilford Brimley. Because that scooter is apparently a form of diabetes. Fuck.
Darren Young, Titus O'Neil, Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins hit the ring to attack Cena, Sheamus comes out and bumps into Ace on his way down the ramp (see the above paragraph!) and chases the heels off. Cena and Sheamus will team up in the main event.
Match 2 - Alberto del Rio vs Randy Orton
Winner: Randy Orton via DQ
Well this ought to get us back on track. Before the match starts, we get the highlight of the night: Santino telling Ricardo Rodriguez that he would be a better announcer for ADR. He then proceeds to usurp the position for the night and Ricky takes the best Cobra bump ever after trapping himself in his jacket.
Orton and ADR start out and have a pretty straight-forward match that we'd expect out of them. Orton gets a small wound on his forehead which the ref surprisingly doesn't stop the match to patch up. Chris Jericho enters the ring and hits a Codebreaker on Orton. He screams that he is the best in the world at everything he does then delivers 2 more Codebreakers. These two could have good matches, so if that's the program we're going with, so be it. Anything that gives us more Jericho TV time is fine.
Daniel Bryan is next on our screens and says it's Q&A time. Did he make Punk tap? YES. Should he be champ? YES. If he faces Punk again, will Punk tap again? YES YES YES! The crowd answers with NO to all of these. Such a simple but excellent gimmick. Punk comes out and says he beat Bryan 1, 2, 3 so he should stop whining. Punk then introduces Kane, who will face Bryan tonight. Punk also sits at the commentary table, which is always good.
Match 3 - Kane vs Daniel Bryan
Winner: Daniel Bryan via DQ
Kane is fully aware of what happened with Bryan and his clever chair trick from Smackdown. Quickly, the action spills outside and Bryan lands a suicide dive. Punk handles a chair and tricks Kane into thinking Bryan was going to pop him one. Bryan effectively craps himself and gets beat up by Kane, then put in the Anaconda Vise by Punk and taps.
Punk is in the back and AJ pops up, saying she enjoyed watching him beat up Bryan. Punk says she's sadistic, but that in all of this, she was the fool. Blunt honesty makes the little thing cry, so Punk reluctantly offers her a shoulder to cry on, then tells her to stop crying, which she does on command. Punk tells her he digs crazy chicks. Oh, someone is gonna do something to screw someone out of something, I can feel it! Please let this end in an AJ push.
Match 4 - Christian (Intercontinental Champion) vs Jinder Mahal, non-title
Winner: Christian via pinfall
No idea why the crowd was punished with a Jinder Mahal match, but this served to be a good way to get the crowd back into Christian's repertoire. Mahal gets an audible "you can't wrestle" chant from the more astute crowd members. Christian nails the Killswitch then ends things with a Frog Splash, because who doesn't love a Frog Splash, right? Cole tells us that it's great to see Christian add something new to his moveset; problem being Christian has used the Frog Splash in matches for years.
Match 5 - Kelly Kelly vs Beth Phoenix
Winner: Beth Phoenix via pinfall
Kelly stepped into a ring, so we're already at minus one star. Kelly hit her atrocious 3 rotation headscissors spot, then gets clubbed in the back of the head and goes up WAY heavy for the Glam Slam. Maybe Beth accidentally knocked her out. Whatever. I like women's wrestling; this ain't that.
Match 6 - John Cena and Sheamus vs Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler and Tensai, Handicap Lumberjack Match
Winners: No contest
Until the end, this was a decent match. The heels isolate a good guy, beat him up, he makes a hot tag, etc etc. The lumberjacks were all heels and so didn't swarm until Cena or Sheamus ended up outside the ring. Sheamus managed to take 6 or 7 of them out with one shoulder block at one point, so what the hell kind of threat are they, exactly? Also, Tensai is apparently not a lord anymore. And he lost his helmet. The match 'ends' with a dogpile on Cena in the ring and faces out to make the save. Big Show was on the stage and Cena gives chase. He finds Ace in his rascal in the back and wants to know where Big Show is. Ace reminds him that touching him is off limits and that...
Well that's the best ending to Raw in a long time. Too bad the rest of it was entirely forgettable. The only proper advancement we got is that Punk is paying attention to AJ and that might somehow figure into his rivalry with Daniel Bryan that, Ric Flair-willing*, continues. I expect at least two more matches out of the series, which guarantees us about an hour more of great wrestling action. I'd like to see all involved end up in a better place as the rivalry ends: One with the strap, one elevated due to the matches and AJ with a crazy-bitch gimmick kicking Diva's heads off. I am a dreamer.
*You see, Ric Flair calls himself a "wrestling god" and so that joke made sense. I apologize, it won't ever happen again, I promise.