If you ask any film buff what their favorite movie is, chances are they’ll tense up and think hard about their answer before saying, “I dunno, man, I like a lot.” I can identify with these people -- for a long time I had a hard time answering this question with less than five titles. It wasn’t until recently that I actually thought about all of my favorites and decided which one is my numero uno: Goodfellas.
True Blood Recap: Episode 1 "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
Last night, HBO premiered season 5 of True Blood, a premiere that had been much anticipated since the finale last summer. Well the finale was not at all what I expected it to be, and that's not a good thing...
What Next: Avengers 2?
“AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!” A battle cry familiar with any self-respecting Marvel fan and a line many fans like myself were anxiously awaiting the “star-spangled man with a plan” to cry during this summer’s blockbuster. I think at least most of us can agree that Avengers provided many of us with great joy and satisfaction in its execution.
Completely Random Episode 2: Coffee and Idle Banter
In this episode of Completely Random, Jon, Drew, and Chad discuss the effect of dating on video game play time, The Walking Dead Game, The Avengers, guns, the idea of a Justice League movie, and much more. Take a seat and absorb your sermon for the week.
Max Payne 3: Pain as art
Rockstar Games has accomplished what few games in the industry have: they have made gaming an art form. After playing Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption, and now Max Payne 3, I can say with honesty and a straight face that these three games delivered in ways many Hollywood movies can't.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
After a successful Summerslam showing, Monday Night Raw opens with the triumphant Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. Was last night Triple H's last match? Only time and promos will tell.
Heyman grabs the mic first and addresses the WWE Universe, expressing how "uncomfortable" last night's match was to watch. Heyman reminds us of his time as an announcer, seeing HHH's quad tear apart and finish a match. A torn quad couldn't stop The Game, but Brock Lesnar and a broken arm could. Heyman says that HHH quit on his family, his company, friends, fans and everyone when he tapped out. Heyman says nobody should feel sorry for Trips because he picked the fight. Heyman calls Scott Armstrong, last night's referee, down to the ring so that Brock Lesnar can "address him". Armstrong heads to the ring in a less than eager fashion, but finally makes his way up the stairs and into the ring. Lesnar has two words for Armstrong: "Good job." Heyman claims that Lesnar ended the career of HHH and has endangered the future of WWE. Heyman declares him the new "King of Kings", the master of the Brocktogon and the conqueror of the WWE Universe. Apparently all of the WWE Universe's members are Brock Lesnar's subjects now.
Interesting take on things from last night. Lesnar isn't expected to be around much, as he only has so many dates that he can be used for, so curious to see if this is a reign from afar or if they progress things right away.
CM Punk Touted that he feels after defending his title twice in one night, he should get to pick his opponent on Raw. AJ Lee is "taking it under consideration".
Match 1: Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (Tag Team Champions) and Sin Cara vs Cody Rhodes and Primetime Players
Winners: Kingston, R-Truth and Sin Cara via pinfall
Kofi and Truth show up with toys to give the kids. Can't really criticize giving toys to children, but it's kind of a cheap ploy when you take a step back. Young and Kofi start out and Kofi's speed helps him take early control. Young shoulders Kofi down and Kingston answers with a double leapfrog and back elbow. Truth is tagged in and they land a double hip toss. O'Neal comes in and takes a double dropkick, followed by Sin Cara dragging Rhodes outside and climbing to the top rope, but Rhodes distances himself. The Champs and Cara are in the ring and the PTP and Rhodes gather themselves into a commercial.
Kofi escapes a cravat and tags Truth in to run wild on Darren Young with an axe kick for two. Young fights back into it and Rhodes blind tags in, sneaking up on Truth with a Russian leg sweep for two. Cody hits a gourdbuster and stomps at the head of Truth. Titus tags in and keeps the pressure on Truth with strikes and a neck wrench. Truth fights up to his feet and punches his way out but runs into a boot for a near fall. Titus's turn for a gourdbuster, dropping Young on Truth. Young right into a bodyscissors and chinlock. Truth continues trying to fight out, but O'Neal gets tagged back in to attack Truth in the corner. Truth kicks his way out but gets leveled by a Titus clothesline for another two count and chinlock. The crowd rallies and Truth stands up, which leads to Titus punching Kofi of the apron; Truth surprises him with a heel kick from behind. Rhodes and Cara tag in and Cara opens up with a handspring elbow, hurricanrana and an enzuigiri from the apron. A springboard cross body gets a two count and the Tag Champs clear the PTP from the ring with stereo dropkicks. Truth backdrops Kofi onto the PTP and Rhodes tries to remove the mask of Sin Cara. Cara trips Rhodes and wins with a jackknife pin.
Expected double rivalry six man tag with the expected happy ending. Nothing fundamentally wrong, just nothing new.
An anger management tag team match will take place tonight - Kane teams with Zack Ryder and Daniel Bryan with The Miz. Angry guys teaming with people they have problems with? At least it's a bit different.
AJ Lee is to be interviewed and David Otunga shows up, offering his legal counsel. Otunga lets the "c" word slip and AJ says Otunga can offer his services in the ring, against an opponent to be chosen by AJ. AJ now addresses Punk's earlier Tout - She likes the idea, and Punk can choose any opponent, pending her approval.
Match 2: Ryback vs Mike Spinner and Andy Tabarez?
Winner: Ryback via disqualification
Ryback disposes of blue tights goof and knocks down black tights goof. Black tights takes a club to the back and gets tossed to the mat. The over the shoulder powerbomb is next, then he gets dead lifted into two more. Blue tights punches him from the apron and takes a reverse suplex over the rope for his trouble. Ryback readies for the double Shellshocked when Jinder Mahal attacks from behind and puts Ryback in the Camel Clutch. Ryback plants a hand and stands up, delivering the backpack chinbreaker, sending Mahal running. Blue tights makes the mistake of standing up behind Ryback and takes a lariat. As a show of strength and a message to Mahal, Ryback secures both guys on his shoulders and delivers the double Shellshocked.
Nice to see a Ryback match with some kind of change to it. Mahal and Ryback in a feud is still a bit odd, but progress is progress.
Dolph Ziggler finds Chris Jericho in the back and Ziggler wants a rematch. Jericho drops catchphrases and says it's Ziggler who doesn't know how to win the big one. AJ skips in and around both men and says as the GM, it's her job to make things interesting. A rematch will take place - If Jericho loses, his contract terminates. If Ziggler loses? Chris Jericho takes the MITB briefcase. Ziggler chases after AJ to protest.
Alberto del Rio heads toward the ring and slaps some agua out of the hands of Ricardo Rodriguez. ADR has filed a protest with Booker T concerning Sheamus' win last night. ADR thinks he should be the World Heavyweight Champion by now, since he got robbed by the referee and Sheamus. Alberto demands another title shot, right now. AJ's music cues up and she skips out to the stage. She doesn't have jurisdiction over the World Heavyweight Championship, but she can book Alberto in a match tonight.
Match 3: Alberto del Rio vs Randy Orton
Winner: Randy Orton via pinfall
Sheamus comes out as the match starts to observe from the commentary table. Orton opens with rights and a dropkick. Off the ropes, Orton shoulders Alberto to the floor. Back in, Orton bounces ADR off the top rope for an assisted suplex, getting a two count. Orton stomps the limbs of Alberto and drops a knee across the face for another two count. Orton stays aggressive in the corner and mounts for ten punches, but at five he gets dumped on his face. Alberto with a snapmare, kick to the back and a jumping stomp, followed by a chinlock. Orton dodges in the corner for his elevated school boy. Alberto kicks out and lands a dropkick to the face of a kneeling Orton. Back to the chinlock, then a snap suplex from ADR. Michael Cole is in full heel-asshole mode with Sheamus. There's grilling the man on the mic and there's obnoxiousness. Guess what side Cole is erring on?
ADR hits a double stomp then heads to the top rope, but Orton cuts him off. Orton meets him up top and hits a superplex. Rights back and forth as the men get to their feet, but Orton opens up with a pair of clotheslines and a powerslam. ADR rolls to the apron and Orton wants the elevated DDT. Alberto escapes and lands a step up enzuigiri for a near fall. Orton sneaks around as ADR approaches and hits the backbreaker. Alberto answers with kicks to the arm and wants the Cross Armbreaker, but Orton answers with a swinging neckbreaker. Alberto hops to the middle rope and Orton catches him for the elevated DDT out of the corner, which seems to be becoming a standard alternative. Orton coils and Ricardo Rodriguez hops on the apron, then gets scared off. Sheamus chases him off. ADR hits a Backstabber and pins Orton who gets his foot on the bottom rope. Sheamus points it out to the ref who stops the count. ADR turns around into an RKO in the confusion for the loss.
The Sheamus/ADR feud continues and Orton pins the number one contender (or at least the last one) which by wrestling logic immediately puts him in the title race. There needs to be some kind of change, as we've been very overexposed to this group.
Match 4: Brodus Clay vs Damien Sandow
Winner: Damien Sandow via pinfall
Apparently Brodus' leg is all healed up from Damien Sandow's recent attack, since he has no problem dancing. At least he has it taped up heavily. Tonight, Brodus gets his chance at revenge. Sandow, via a cut-in promo, says he will return the Funkasaurus to extinction.
Sandow wants a single leg takedown but the power of Brodus lets him take over early. Brodus misses a haymaker and Sandow wraps his leg in the ropes. Brodus fights off and hits a clothesline then delivers a back body drop. Brodus rams Sandow head first into the top turnbuckle then hits a belly to belly suplex. Clay continues with a big elbow drop, but Sandow fights up with strikes. Clay roars at his opponent and squashes him in the corner and hits a running headbutt to the chest. Clay wants another corner splash, but Sandow dodges and school boys him (with a handful of tights) for the quick win.
Clay is less than thrilled and lands a t-bone siplex and big splash. That might be a visual victory, but Sandow got the pinfall. Clay gets to celebrate with dancers, kids and music. Way to make winning not mean anything.
HBK is getting mic'd up ahead of his live via satellite interview.
Cole poses the question of whether HHH is done to Shawn Michaels. HBK says he knows what's going through the head of HHH right now. Shawn says you can't quite prepare for the day that shows it might time to hang up the boots. HHH is a man of integrity, unlike Heyman and Lesnar. Shawn speaks in the past tense about Triple H, to push the idea of him being completely done. HBK calls himself a burden to HHH in recent weeks, as he was a distraction. HBK didn't have the heart to tell his best friend that he didn't think he could beat Lesnar. Michaels says HHH has nothing to be ashamed of and is one of the greatest.
A very memorial-like setting, with still shots of HHH injured and beaten interspersed. This is all a build for HHH to say he's got one more in him. Whether that serves to be a rematch with Lesnar or something else, only time will tell.
Match 5: David Otunga vs Big Show
Winner: Big Show via pinfall
Big Show doesn't hesitate heading to the ring; he's still in a bad mood from Summerslam. Show explodes on Otunga and hits a big scoop slam then continues to pound on him. Show continues with a headbutt to Otunga who tries to fight back but pays for it. Big Show picks Otunga up then puts him down with the Final Cut and cocks the WMD. Otunga walks right into it for the end.
The crowd cheers the big mean monster, mostly because he just beat up David Otunga. Big Show had to let off some steam and Otunga had to be punished for using the word "crazy" around AJ, so everybody wins.
Match 6: Kane and Zack Ryder vs Daniel Bryan and The Miz (Intercontinental Champion)
Winners: No contest
Ryder bounces out half way down the ramp but gets serious once he lays eyes on his partner. Miz and Bryan are slightly less apprehensive. Bryan and Kane start out, but Bryan immediately tags Miz in. Kane goes right to work and then bring Miz to his corner, tagging in Zack Ryder forcefully. Miz rushes Ryder but gets knees to the face and a missile dropkick. Ryder tries to capitalize but takes a boot to the face. Miz with a boot to the head and a two count, then a tag to Bryan. The crowd goes ballistic with YES chants and Bryan drops NO knee drops to the ribs of Ryder. Bryan kicks at the chest of Ryder then drops a knee to the face fore two. Bryan jaws at Kane while Ryder crawls for a tag; Ryder gets a European uppercut instead. Miz back in and another boot to the face of Ryder. Ryder takes a backbreaker/neckbreaker combo from Miz who keeps control and tags Bryan back in. Kicks to the chest of Ryder from Bryan in the corner. Bryan rushes with an elbow and tags Miz by mistake. Ryder kicks off and makes a hot tag to Kane and Miz drops off the apron - No escape from Bryan. Bryan elects to slap Kane then runs into the crowd. Miz is gone too and Kane takes his frustrations out on Ryder with a Chokeslam. A worker at ringside is next, but Kane notices Ryder stirring in the ring so he disposes of the other guy and pounces on Ryder, delivering a Tombstone Piledriver.
Nothing short of chaos, which was kind of expected with this set up. Seems that the Kane/Bryan rivalry isn't quite settled. Ryder gets the brunt of the beatdown as usual.
CM Punk is interviewed by Matt Striker. Punk thanks AJ for respecting the champion enough to allow him to choose his next opponent. Punk says Cena is next, on one condition, to be presented later tonight.
Match 7: Divas Battle Royale, winner is #1 Contender to Divas Championship
Beth Phoenix is conspicuous by her absence. Kaitlyn takes a double suplex from Natalya and Tamina, who proceed to double team Alicia Fox. Alicia dropkicks both of them, but neither is eliminated. Tamina turns on Natalya, who ends up taking a tumble out. Kaitlyn and Eve are the last two left and Kaitlyn escapes an attempt from Eve to eliminate her, then answers by clotheslining her over the top.
Sloppiness all over, even on the finish. Layla sells a bit of concern, seeing the powerful Kaitlyn knock Eve over the top. The two of them should have a good match - Kaitlyn is a hell of an athlete and when Layla is at the top of her game, she's solid in the ring. Still curious when Sara del Rey will be mentioned or used or something. If she's strictly behind the scenes/training, they should call attention to it, as she is hugely respected.
Brock Lesnar Touts that he has accomplished everything in WWE and he's leaving, never to return. After being declared the new King of Kings. So that's how you write him away for a while, but it's incredibly lazy.
Vickie is in the back raging because of AJ's earlier decision. Vickie says Dolph needs to win for her tonight. Ziggler says he needs to win it for himself, hyping this up as the biggest match of his career. Ziggler says tonight, he'll win.
Match 8: Chris Jericho vs Dolph Ziggler, loser loses their contract (WWE or MITB, respectively)
Winner: Dolph Ziggler via pinfall
Vickie introduces Dolph as per the normal and Jericho enters with his ribs still taped. Jericho opens by running Ziggler over and a quick school boy, showing that the win is the key here. Ziggler bails to the floor to regroup. Ziggler runs into a small package then gets chopped down to the mat. Ziggler fights back and grounds Jericho then lands a jumping elbow drop. Ziggler runs into a boot in the corner and Jericho follows with a missile dropkick for two. Ziggler gets elevated to the floor and quickly hops back to the apron, only to take a corner springboard dropkick from Jericho, sending him careening to the floor...and us to a commercial.
Ziggler is in charge with a chinlock as we return. Jericho fights to his feet but ends up back on the mat so that Ziggler can do his headstand chinlock. Ziggler hits another jumping elbow drop for two. Jericho counters another chinlock attempt with a belly to back suplex, then kicks Ziggler out of the corner. Jericho with shoulder blocks followed by a double axe handle from the top. Ziggler avoids the bulldog but ends up sat on the top rope where Jericho follows. Jericho hits ten punches and a frankensteiner, almost landing right on his own head, good for a two count. Ziggler answers with his jumping DDT for another near fall. Ziggler wants a Fameasser, but Jericho counters into a Walls of Jericho attempt which Ziggler spins out of. More back and forth action sees Jericho hit the bulldog and try a Lionsault, but lands on Ziggler's knees. Ziggler hits the Zigzag for the win.
I expected an injury or some shenanigans, but Dolph won that one squeaky clean. As of now, Jericho is no longer under contract with WWE. Which is incredibly convenient, since Fozzy has an upcoming tour! Even better, Jericho has a built in return rivalry when/if he returns. Seriously though, Chris Jericho is the most consistent current-legend in putting over the young and deserving talent. Jericho grabs the MITB briefcase and whacks Dolph in the gut and over the back with it, then hits a Codebreaker. Dolph mimes a shotgun wound in the best possible way from it and is laid out. Jericho loses, but he lays Ziggler out as he leaves. Don't expect that to be the last you see of Chris Jericho - It may be for now, but that's absolutely not how Chris Jericho goes out. It's a shame he can't work a concurrent program with 3 or 4 guys. A Jericho/Tyson Kidd program? Just the kind of elevation Kidd could use to be taken seriously on WWE TV programming and a good built-in rivalry from the Canadian heritage and the Hart Dungeon.
CM Punk comes out, main eventing the show, although not in a match. This man really needs a new title belt. Punk hops to the floor and gets in the face of Jerry Lawler, reminding him that he said Punk turned his back on the WWE Universe. Lawler back pedals and Punk says that he should have the respect to apologize to the WWE Champion. Before Lawler can answer, John Cena's music hits. Punk returns to the ring to chat with Cena. Punk says that Cena knew Punk would be calling him out tonight, but invited himself to the ring instead of being respectful. Punk throws the WWE Title to the mat and says he's been taking a backseat to Cena, HHH, and The Rock. He took that backseat out of respect and now he wants that respect returned to him. Punk says that after defeating Cena time and time again, he should not have to take that backseat any longer. Punk says he elected Cena number one contender because he needs to beat Cena again. Punk looks over the crowd and sees the Cenation in full force and it makes him realize what the one condition will be. Punk says Cena gets his title shot if he admits that Punk is the best in the world.
Cena says that he has not been the WWE Champion for nine months. Through good times and bad times, Cena stays close with the WWE Universe because of respect. Cena demonstrates with a cheap Foley pop, getting the crowd to cheer. Cena runs a sports fan analogy - You love your team even when they lose. Cena will not call Punk the best in the world because he has to believe that he is the best. Cena says when he held the title for 380 days, he never once demanded respect. Cena won't stroke Punk's ego - Punk can choose anyone for the number one contender and Cena won't call him best in the world. Night of Champions takes place from Cena's hometown. Cena says if Punk beats him in his hometown, it "defines his existence". He's been champion for almost a year, how does he not exist? Cena says if Punk doesn't face Cena in his hometown, he has no respect for himself or the title. Cena leaves and Punk turns back to Lawler, wanting his apology. Lawler heads to the ring. Lawler apologizes and goes to leave, but Punk says he's not finished. Punk now wants Lawler to say that he's best in the world. Lawler won't say it and brushes past Punk, who delivers a kick to the back of his head. Punk squats down and stares at the knocked out Lawler then looks out into the crowd to conclude the show. He doesn't look happy with what he's done, but not especially remorseful either.
AJ was busy tonight! Chris Jericho leaves us, but not before giving the rub to Dolph Ziggler - He just beat Jericho clean in the middle of the ring and should now be seen as a legit threat to the World Heavyweight Title. Cena reminding everyone that he hasn't been WWE Champion for X amount of months is obnoxious. Cena not being champion doesn't mean that the company halts or that something is "wrong", so the verbiage comes off incredibly silly. Kaitlyn/Layla has the potential to be an interesting match as Kaitlyn brings the power of Beth Phoenix as well as the usual speed of the other divas and Layla brings the potential to be a solid opponent. Bryan/Kane continues, because I don't think WWE knows what else to do with the "crazy" Daniel Bryan they've concocted. Seems like we're still dealing with Sheamus and ADR which I think the crowds have grown tired of. Orton might be interjected after tonight and while Orton/Sheamus isn't anything new, it's at least different than what we're seeing right now.
CM Punk's quest for respect continues all the way to Night of Champions - Will he earn respect? Or will Cena earn another WWE Title? Give us your call in the comments or on Twitter @sbfantom and @thegeekasylum.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Youtube Preshow: Antonio Cesaro vs Santino Marella (c), United States Championship
Wimner: Antonio Cesaro via pinfall, new United States Champion
After a distraction from Aksana, Cesaro hits the Neutralizer to capture his first WWE gold.
I didn't get to actually watch this match, but aside from the outcome, it wasn't much to miss. As a champion, Cesaro will have to wrestle longer matches than he has since his debut.
Match 1: Chris Jericho vs Dolph Ziggler
Winner: Chris Jericho via submission
Y2J is back in full force in 2012, even down to the tights. Jericho's ribs are taped, continuing to sell the injury from Smackdown and potentially giving him an "out" should Ziggler win. Ziggler being the show opener could indicate a cash-in attempt tonight as well. Jericho kicks out of a Zigzag after Ziggler gets the knees up for the Lionsault. As Ziggler readies the next attack, Jericho hits a surprise Codebreaker, but Ziggler rolls to the floor. Back in, Vickie grabs Jericho's leg and Ziggler hits a small package from the apron, but Jericho out at a very close two, then over into the Walls of Jericho, Liontamer style for the victory.
Jericho wins the big one against Mr. Money in the Bank, who we may very well see later in the night. I expected some kind of beat down or injury to excuse Jericho for the Fozzy tour, but a top notch match, regardless.
Lesnar and Heyman are in the back, to be interviewed. The referee has been asked to use his discretion; this will be a fight to the finish, not a wrestling match. Lesnar says this is a fight HHH cannot win. Heyman says if he's not down with that, they have two words for him: Tap out.
Match 2: Daniel Bryan vs Kane
Winner: Daniel Bryan via pinfall
Bryan has a YES/NO argument with the crowd and is startled by Kane's pyro. Bryan opens with kicks to the leg of Kane, but Kane takes over with power after Bryan backflips over him in the corner. Bryan tries to vault over Kane but gets caught then booted after an okana roll attempt. Off the ropes, Bryan hits a low dropkick and goes to work on the leg of Kane. Kane responds by grabbing Bryan and launching him to the floor. Bryan quickly gets back in and kicks Kane, then lands a suicide dive back to the floor. Bryan climbs to the top as Kane gets back in and lands a missile dropkick for one. Bryan shakes his head as he becomes unhinged from the YES chants, then lays into the chest of Kane with shin kicks. Like I said last night, it's now the standard for Bryan to whiff the headshot and he does, allowing Kane to take back over, bouncing him from corner to corner and hitting a side slam for two. Kane goes to the top rope and dives, hitting a clothesline from the top, then heads to the corner, ready to call for the Chokeslam. Bryan escapes and bails to the apron, then drapes Kane across the top. Back in, Bryan takes a big right hand, but slaps Kane in response. Kane goes ballistic on Bryan in the corner and stops just shy of a DQ. Bryan drop toe holds Kane into the middle turnbuckle and then kicks the rope into his face. Bryan wants the Nolock but Kane resists. Now Bryan hits the headshot kick. Bryan ascends the top rope and wants a diving headbutt but lands in Kane's hands for a Chokeslam which Kane is slow to capitalize on. Kane calls for the Tombstone and wants Bryan to get to his feet. Bryan goes up, but slides down and gets the win with a surprise small package.
Bryan via a clean pin over Kane at Summerlam? WWE is getting concretely behind the smaller guys on the roster, finally. At least Bryan, and they'd be stupid not to. Kane makes a beeline for the back, livid. I don't think we've seen the end of this rivalry as it's Bryan's first win over Kane 1 on 1 and it was a roll up.
Kane is going ballistic in the back and is looking for Bryan. Josh Matthews makes the mistake of asking Kane a question and gets jettisoned for his efforts, after telling Kane Bryan left. Kane knocks more stuff over and leaves. Definitely not the end.
Match 3: Rey Mysterio vs The Miz (c), Intercontinental Championship
Winner: The Miz via pinfall
Mysterio comes out in a Batman styled set of ring gear, complete with cape. Rey Mysterio absolutely does not need an IC title win here tonight, whereas it would do Miz a world of good to beat Rey cleanly tonight. Here's hoping for no shenanigans. Miz gets the PPV blow up lawn ornament AWESOME and his PPV jacket. You can't lose with an inflatable entrance.
Miz, being the bigger man, takes Rey down with an early shoulder block. Rey with a go behind and flipping Miz ass over tea kettle for a quick bridging pin attempt. Miz slides to the floor and then back in. Miz answers with big strikes and a clothesline, but Rey ducks. Rey dodges another clothesline and gets slid out under the ring, but rolls through to avoid getting hurt. Miz gives chase but ends up getting dropkicked. Rey wants a lucha bulldog, but Miz catches him in the wheelbarrow position and puts him in the barricade. Miz tosses him back in the ring and covers for a one count. Miz into a chinlock to slow things down. Rey gets up to his feet and tries to fight out; Miz tries a belly to back suplex, but Rey lands on top and kicks at Miz. Rey rushes Miz, but gets caught in a modified rack and dropped across Miz's shoulders for a backbreaker. Miz jaws at Mysterio and punches him right in the face, then boots him and pins, but only gets a two.
Miz with a cravat now and Rey rights out again, but runs into a clothesline, which Miz capitalizes on for a two count. Miz plays to the crowd as Mysterio recovers in the corner, then readies for his corner clotheslines; he connects. Miz to the top, but Rey crotches him, then heads to the top himself. Rey with a diving senton from the top; Rey follows by rolling up to a hurricanrana position, but Miz hits a sitout powerbomb for two. Rey ducks another boot attempt and rolls Miz up, who kicks out but gets kicked in the head for another two. Miz takes Rey up for a powerslam, but Mysterio spins back down for a DDT, but still only gets a two count. Rey heads to the top again, but Miz meets him with a right hand. Miz follows to the top and wants a superplex, but Rey fights off and puts Miz in place for the 619. Rey up for the splash, but Miz sits up to avoid. Miz with the Skull Crushing Finale attempt, but Rey rolls him up for a very close near fall. Rey tries to follow up but this time gets caught by Skull Crushing Finale for the win.
Clean win over a future hall of famer - Good night for The Miz. He beat him by out maneuvering him and landing his finisher. More matches need to end this way, not just in WWE but around the wrestling world now a days. Miz is still your IC Champion and for good reason. He looks better than ever since returning.
Eve and Teddy Long leave a meeting with AJ and Long things she's doing a great job. Eve sarcastically agrees. CM Punk shows up in front of the GM's door and heads in. Punk questions the look on AJ's face and she ignores him. Punk protests the triple threat as he can lose his title without losing; he suspects this is because he rebuked AJ's proposal. AJ is staring into space and Punk says she's disrespecting him, just like his opponents. Punk says he'll win tonight and he'll get respect tomorrow night. AJ continues staring blankly as he leaves. Weird.
Match 4: Alberto del Rio vs Sheamus (c), World Heavweight Championship
Winner: Sheamus via pinfall
Sheamus goes into this one selling a hurt left arm, which will likely serve to be the focus of Alberto's offense. I still think ADR needs the gold rain pyro on his entrance. After showing up on Smackdown with his elbow taped up heavily, Sheamus enters tonight with no tape at all. Odd choice. Physical tie up into the corner to open but ADR makes some space. Into another corner and Sheamus swings wildly. Both men take a tumble to the floor and this one is going to be a donnybrook. Heading back into the ring, ADR lands kicks to the head of Sheamus and works him in the corner. Sheamus answers with a boot and a swinging neckbreaker then clubs away, but Alberto fights back. ADR wants an early Cross Armbreaker, but Sheamus scoops him up for a rolling fireman's carry. Sheamus wants the Celtic Cross and ADR grabs the top rope to escape, but Sheamus clubs away and puts him in the electric chair. As he's pulled away, he pulls the top turnbuckle off. Before he can get dropped, Alberto gets down and dodges a Brough Kick, leaving Sheamus on the apron. ADR follows with a low dropkick which sends Sheamus to the floor. Del Rio follows to the floor and throws the champ into the steel steps. Alberto heads to the top and hits a flying elbow/forearm to a standing Sheamus for a two count then locks in around the chin of Sheamus. Sheamus fights out and wants another neckbreaker, but ADR avoids and boots Sheamus in the face for two. Alberto with a jumping stomp to the head of Sheamus. Another chinlock keeps Sheamus on the mat, but he begins to fight to his feet again then headbutts his way out. Sheamus suffers a knee and another jumping stomp for two. ADR mocks Sheamus' call for the Brough Kick and heads to the corner - He ends up running into an axe handle, but dodges Sheamus in the corner, sending him into the ringpost. Sheamus fights off and heads to the top, but ADR puts a stop to it, then meets him at the top and hits a top rope version of his double knees to the arm for a close two.
Sheamus counters the Cross Armbreaker, but ADR lands and rolls into it in the middle of the ring on the injured arm. Sheamus rolls over and deadlifts ADR for a sideways powerbomb to break it. Back to their feet, Alberto runs into White Noise but kicks out at two. Sheamus heads to a corner and calls for the Brough Kick, but Alberto avoids; he ends up on the apron and takes forearms to the chest. Now up to the corner for punches, but ADR drops Sheamus onto the turnbuckle and hits a running enzuigiri for a very close two. ADR blames Rodriguez and drags him into the ring. Sheamus stirs as Rodriguez tosses a shoe to ADR; Sheamus intercepts and clocks ADR then delivers the Irish Curse. Sheamus gets the win as ADR reaches for the rope with his foot. He makes contact and after the three count, Sheamus knocks his foot off the rope. The good guy stole one, what a hooligan!
Alberto and Rodriguez argue with the ref, so that should continue the program, at least until Smackdown if not beyond. Good back and forth match with some interesting offense and a tainted finish to allow the program to continue in a relatively organic fashion.
Match 5: Primetime Players vs Kofi Kingston and R-truth (c), Tag Team Championship
Winners: Kingston and Truth via pinfall
The tag champs are the third champion(s) to be announced as holding their strap for over 100 days tonight; big change from a year or two ago. Truth pounces right on Young, who takes a big hip toss and Truth's dancing leg drop for an early two count. Young boots his way out and carries Truth to his corner, tagging O'Neal in who boots Truth to the mat for a one count. O'Neal with a front headlock and Truth fights out but gets clubbed for his efforts. Titus hits the ropes but runs into a leg lariat, leaving both men on the mat. Kofi tags in and springboards into Titus, then goes into his usual routine, readying for the Boomdrop and landing it. Off to a neutral corner to call for the Trouble in Paradise; Young runs interference and the fight ends up on the floor with Kofi taking a big Titus clothesline. Truth tries to help, but O'Neal is able to roll Kofi back in for a two count. Titus with a pump handle front slam and another two count. Young tags back in and Titus delivers him onto Kofi via a gourdbuster for two. Young locks in a body scissors but Kofi is able to roll over and fight out. Kofi with a quick two count, but he runs into a powerslam from Young for a pin on his side.
Titus tags back in and locks in an abdominal stretch on Kofi near the PTP corner Titus wants a swinging slam, but Kofi counters into a big DDT, causing a hot tag on both sides. Truth runs wild on Young, hitting the Lie Detector and a sit out front suplex. Titus breaks the pin and tosses Kofi out; he skins the cat and dumps Titus out, then hits a huge springboard cross body to the outside. Young with a rollup on Truth for two then he wants his gut buster; Truth slips out and hits the Little Jimmy for the pin and win.
Good match; I sincerely hope this result isn't some kind of reflection on the AW situation. PTP are primed to be the strong young up and comer champions; not sure why they didn't go that way tonight. Some interesting back and forth, but a "send the kids home happy" type of finish on this one.
Match 6: Big Show vs John Cena vs CM Punk (c), WWE Championship
Winner: CM Punk via pinfall
So after all the rhetoric about Cena always being the main event and the WWE Champion being overshadowed, they both get shoved into the second hour because of HHH and Brock Lesnar? Huge opportunity missed and incredibly obnoxious. I don't care what ludicrous contact they blew on Lesnar - They've screwed up the entire overshadow/disrespect thing just to put Lesnar in the main event spot. The WWE Championship should always headline: Not because CM Punk said so, but because this title should mean more than anything else to keep that facade of realism up. They always say no one man is bigger than the WWE or the Title. Nobody but HHH, apparently. At least Cena didn't enter before the WWE Champion...
Michael Cole mentions that December of last year was the last time CM Punk main evented a PPV. I guess as long as it continues to be part of the storyline, we'll let it go. Show takes over early with tons of power offense. Punk sells like a normal wrestler and Cena looks like he's been in a car wreck already. Basics, seriously. Frying pan chops for both men. Punk and Cena unload on Show with strikes and want a double team suplex, but Show suplexes both men into the corner. Show whips Cena to a corner and hits a running ass, leaving Cena on the floor. Show gives one to Punk as well, but takes a dropkick to the knee off the ropes. Punk kicks away at Show and calls for GTS, but Show chops him away. Cena sneaks up and wants the AA, but Punk shoves Show down, leaving everyone down and winded. Punk covers Cena, but Show shoves him off. Show with body shots on Punk then stands on his back. Now whipped into the corner, the WWE Champion is in trouble; another frying pan chop to Punk's chest and Cena gets shoved off the apron into the barricade. All Big Show so far.
Show whips Punk to a corner but misses the follow up and Punk tries to springboard into him; Show catches him and delivers the Final Cut which we haven't seen in quite some time. Show wants the WMD but Cena hits the ring on fire, ending up getting speared; Cena kicks out in two. Show piles the opponents in the corner and wants a tandem Vader Bomb; Punk moves, Cena doesn't. Punk breaks up the pin with a springboard double stomp. Show drives Punk over the top by his neck, continuing to stand strong. Show chases after Cena on the floor and delivers a headbutt. Punk tries to fight back now but gets launched into the ropes from the floor, leaving him out of the picture temporarily. Cena strikes at Big Show but runs into a side slam. Show grabs Punk from the floor and ends up neck first across the rope; Cena hits a belly to back on Show and wants the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Punk clotheslines Cena as he hits the ropes and climbs to the top, hitting the Macho elbow for two on Big Show. Punk with a kick to the head and a low reverse STO into the Koji Clutch, but Show fights his way out. Cena hits a shoulder out of nowhere and puts Show in the STF. Show powers out of this as well with Cena on his back then rams him into a corner. Cena hops to the second rope and dives at Show, but gets caught and slammed. Punk with a surprise springboard clothesline to put Show down, then hits the knee in the corner. Punk hits a second running knee. Punk makes it a trio but gets shoved away before he can hit the bulldog. Cena comes off the top and hits the legdrop across the back of the Big Show. Punk locks the Koji Clutch back on and Cena locks in the STF and Big Show taps out. Cole calls the Koji Clutch the Vice, but we don't expect anything
better from him.
The ref is baffled as to what call he's made; AJ skips down to the ring to make a ruling and grabs a mic. AJ takes her time speaking then says to restart the match. Show grabs them both and lands a double Chokeslam. Cena kicks out in two, as does Punk. It makes no sense for Show to still be involved; he lost to both men! Show cocks the WMD and Cena dodges, then hits the Attitude Adjustment. Punk dumps Cena over the top and covers Show to get a singular win.
Fun match with Show being a monster and an interesting pair of finishes. For the end to work, Show had to still be involved but after tapping out to both opponents, he really had no right to still be part of the match, from a logical point of view. CM Punk remains WWE Champion at Summerslam; has he earned the respect he so desperately covets?
Kevin Rudolph performs the theme song of Summerslam - The cameramen fight to find people who are enjoying the performance, but they're few and far between. As it always goes with live music performances, the vast majority of the crowd doesn't care at all. The divas are trotted out to dance along. Know what would be a better use of Natalya, Layla and Beth Phoenix? A friggin match. No crowd reaction. No benefit to the show. No purpose. This is a waste of time and doesn't give anyone any additional reason to buy a future PPV. After Kid Rock was booed out of the arena when he performed, they should have stopped this completely. After he finishes performing, they just play the song again as Cole talks. What's the point?
Match 7: Brock Lesnar vs Triple H
Winner: Brock Lesnar via submission
A recap video! Joy oh joy! If it wasn't for the fact that the WWE production team turns garbage material into absolutely golden video packages, I'd be annoyed. Ever since Miz's "Hate me now" video package, they have gotten better and better at using footage and appropriate music to hype matches and storylines. Triple H elects to come out last on the PPV. I'd sincerely like to know how much of that is his ego and how much of it is proper discussion.
Michael Cole makes a rare mention of UFC by name, saying Lesnar won the heavyweight title there. The lights are dimmed for the ring announcement, to match a "fight" aesthetic, which just makes WWE seem like they're reaching. Triple H told the ref earlier tonight; no DQ, no countout.
Lesnar opens strong in the corner and HHH tries to back him up, but Lesnar has the strength advantage. Lesnar tries a standing Kimura but HHH fights out. Lesnar tries another Kimura and wraps his legs around HHH but he fights out. Hunter clothelsines Lesnar over the top to the floor. Lesnar is livid and hits the ring again, ramming Triple H over and over into the corner. HHH hits the high knee and clotheslines Lesnar to the floor again. Lesnar is less than pleased and Heyman calms him, trying to make him mentally regroup. Lesnar circles the ring and reenters via the steps. Lesnar pulls his gloves off and hits a double leg takedown then punches HHH right in the back of the head. Hunter bails to the floor to make some space. Lesnar gives chase and they go back and forth again. Lesnar with a hammerlock front slam on the announce table, leaving HHH in pain outside.
Lesnar waits patiently in the ring and then drags HHH in under the bottom rope. Triple H fights back with punches, but Lesnar keeps control with a hammerlock scoop slam this time. Lesnar with a standing Kimura again and now wrapping his arm around the rope and pulling. Lesnar stomps away at HHH's arm. HHH tries to fight back and ends up in the Kimura once again; would it kill Lesnar to try a fujiwara or any other arm bar or lock to 'wear him down'? HHH is thrown to the cornre and Lesnar stalks his prey. Lesnar wants the F5 but HHH drops down, only to take a release German suplex. Lesnar is bleeding from the nose. Lesnar stands on the hand of Triple H and stomps at the elbow joint. HHH out to the apron and drapes Lesnar across the top rope. HHH follows with right hands and a DDT. Both men to their feet and the Kimura is locked in once more. Another hammerlock slam to keep the arm in jeopardy. Now knees delivered to the midsection of the WWE's CCO. Back to the floor, Triple H is throw into the steel steps. Triple H is drive back first into the Spanish announce table and one of the commentators hops the barricade to escape. Lesnar up ends the table and stands atop it, then jumps off to drop a right hand across HHH's head.
Lesnar rolls HHH in and follows. Lesnar rolls HHH up with a small package for some reason, forcing him to kick out. HHH takes a big clothesline to the face off the ropes and Lesnar looks like he's enjoying himself. HHH blocks a suplex attempt and hits one of his own. Lesnar rushes him in the corner but misses. HHH wants the Pedigree, but Lesnar sends him to the corner and clear over the top rope to the floor once more. Lesnar slowly gives chase, but HHH sends him gut first into the corner of the announce table which winds him. Lesnar sells this like a gunshot wound; possibly an internal injury angle. Lesnar audibly says "Oh my stomach" repeated by Cole; definitely the route they're taking. HHH follows Lesnar into the ring and ends up in the Kimura; he's able to knee his way out. Triple H hits a running knee to the gut and continues to focus on the now injured midsection of Lesnar. Repeated knees puts Lesnar on the mat and a spinebuster keeps him there. HHH wants the Pedigree again; Lesnar counters into an F5 attempt, which HHH counters into a Pedigree for a near fall. Heyman screams at Brock from ringside and Lesnar hits a blatant low blow. Lesnar stalks HHH and hits the F5 but Triple H kicks out at the last moment.
Another Kimura but HHH tries to fight out. This time Lesnar hits the mat and scissors around the body for a full Kimura. HHH grabs the ropes, but as per himself, there are no rope breaks. HHH hammers away at the midsection of Lesnar to break out. HHH wants the Pedigree again and hits it. Lesnar wakes up quick and locks in the Kimura on the mat. Triple H taps out as Lesnar may have broken his arm again. As Triple H lays on the mat, the arm seems to be hanging limp next to him. HHH waves the doctors off and wants to leave on his own power. A "you tapped out" chant starts up as he gets to his feet. A very mixed reaction from the crowd as HHH surveys the WWE Universe and says "I'm sorry". The selling point is if this will "be the end" of Triple H - Smart money is not until he gets his win back. Even in loss and having his arm broken, he makes himself the star of the show.
All in all, a solid show. Not spectacular, but if you paid your money, not a disappointment. The right people won the right matches (with the exception of the Tag Titles, but that's just my opinion). CM Punk can continue his quest for respect, since he was slotted once again outside of the main event. In fact, Punk could point out that the boss booked himself above the WWE Champion. The Lesnar/HHH match wasn't as brutal as the Lesnar/Cena match - Far too many attempts at the Kimura makes Brock look like a goofy fighter. Why not try one of the many other arm bars you know? Brock's surprise wake up from the second Pedigree to finish up the match was a welcome surprise. As an aside, tonight's endings were bookmarked by submission finishes; bet that hasn't happened in a long time.
Playstation All Stars Battle Royale is heading our way in November of this year, but the developers have elected to release a limited beta to test their server load and give us a first taste of the action coming our way this fall. There's many a fan eager to get their hands on the software, as it's Sony's answer to Nintendo's hugely successful Super Smash Bros series. The similarities can't be ignored, but it will be up to Sony to try and capture the same charm that Nintendo did over a decade ago. The focus of this beta is expressly for network testing, so we'll be working under the assumption that changes can and will be made. I've discussed the Super Smash Bros Brawl mod Project M extensively here, so that will be a point of reference for many aspects of the gameplay I've experienced.
The bulk of the interest for the game is of course in how the gameplay feels. It follows a similar attack input system to Jump Super/Ultimate Stars, the import-only Battle Stadium D.O.N. and of course, the Super Smash series, but with the addition of a jump button. X will send your characters skyward and allow the game-type standard of an air jump. Square, Triangle and O are attack 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Each attack button can be used with the dpad/analog in a neutral state, as well as a forward, down and up variant which significantly change your attack. For instance, Sweet Tooth will plant a land mine with Down+O, but neutral O is a molotov cocktail to be tossed as a projectile and Up+O will result in him crashing two molotovs above his head for a fiery burst. For the most part, your Up+ attacks will aim either straight up or an upward angle, even occasionally giving a boost from the ground or in the air. Down+ attacks often place something on the ground or aim at a downward angle. With some exceptions, it's relatively intuitive, again like Smash Bros. Some moves naturally combo into each other, like Kratos' square attacks with the Blades of Athena, but there isn't a lot of natural comboing via switching from square to triangle. If you're coming from something like Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and expecting magic combos, you'll be in for quite the surprise.
Those attacks pale in comparison to your Supers. Supers are 100% the name of the game with PSASBR. With the version of the beta available to test, the only way to score points is to land a hit with your Super moves. As you strike with your normal moves, a meter at the bottom of your screen will build, indicating if your level 1, 2 or 3 Supers are available. Level 1s have a tendency to be short range melee attacks; Level 2s are usually controllable, whether it be Sweet Tooth's remote missile, Fat Princess' riding chicken or Parappa's skateboard; Level 3s are enormous area effects or transformations, like Kratos donning the Ares Armor, holding the Blade of Olympus and growing to god size for huge sweeping attacks. Level 3s are the endgame for a lot of characters, since with some good timing and skill, you can rack up 4-6 kills in one go, as opposed to one or two with a level 1 or level 2. There are of course exceptions, like with Sly Cooper's level 2 which should net you a few kills across the screen as you jetpack around freely.
|Land hits, build those supers and strike! Or lose.|
Movement on the ground feels solid enough. When you push a direction, you go that direction. A key facet that's lacking is the ability to dash. Your walk speed is your only speed and it feels very limiting; most games that let you move about on the ground allot some kind of dash, whether it be a quick boost forward or an all out run. A handful of moves give boosts in the air and the ground, but that's not a fitting replacement. Speaking of aerial movement, it feels a bit stunted since air recovery is moderately automatic. When you're sent flying, you'll eventually come out of the free fall state and be able to act again, but there's no way to act on this manually. If you hit a wall or are "spiked" into the floor, you're at the mercy of the game, since there's no way to tech cancel off of a wall or floor (I hate to keep going back to that "like in Smash Bros" comparison, but it does make the game feel much faster). If spiked onto the floor, you have the option to roll as you get up, but there's essentially no On The Ground (OTG) angle in this game. If your opponent hits the ground or is knocked down by your attack, you'll have to wait until they get up to continue any combo. This leads to a lot of prowling to time an attack on someone just as they get to their feet, which can be annoying. For aerial combat, keep in mind that you can't air-block. You can dodge, but blocking is a no-go. Also, you can't activate Supers in mid-air which is puzzling, as the entire crux of this game is tagging opponents with Supers. Even transformation Supers must be done from the ground. You also won't be naturally cancelling any kind of attack into Supers, so learn those hitboxes...when the more public beta comes this fall.
So come all ye Sony faithful and see the six characters that we have been given to try out. When you go into the beta, you'll be greeted by the face of Kratos, the God of War. Kratos has all the weapons you love to use on hand amongst his various attacks, including Medusa's head to stun enemies with a blinding light and a long distance, chargeable bow. Parappa the Rapper makes his return and brings with him a skateboard, a boombox and kicks and punches of fury. His level 1 Super is a flash kick style move as he recites the iconic "Kick, Punch, It's all in the mind" lyric. Fat Princess, who I admittedly know nothing about as far as her original game, is available with an army of minions who will drop bombs, use flamethrowers, as well as being a melee force to be reckoned with. Sweet Tooth shows up with brutal attacks using chainsaws, molotov cocktails and land mines, not to mention a level 3 that has him transforming (or equipping) the Mecha Tooth. If you can activate this from an isolated corner, you're guaranteed some effective killing. Radec brings a Killzone arsenal befitting any fan. His ability to disappear as he drops mines, shoot foes from clear across the stage and attach explosives from afar makes him a force to be reckoned with, but he's less than stellar up close. If you can keep your distance (and stay above) from your opponents, he can be annoying in the best way, littering the field with explosives. Last but not least is Sly Cooper, who becomes invisible when blocking. This can be a detriment with everything going on, as it's easy to lose yourself in the chaos. Sly has all the sneakiness you'd expect, leaving traps all over, throwing stun grenades and zipping around with respectable speed, leaving paralyzing electricity in his wake. I do have a sincere gripe with Sly's level 3 Super: When activated, it brings up a viewfinder that causes some players to not be able to see themselves. It's bad enough that a simple point and click means a kill, but not being able to see yourself because someone activated an attack is a terrible mechanic in any video game. If one thing needs a sincere tweak, it's this. Many more characters are in store come the official release and it stands to be seen who will be present in the fall's public beta. If you have a favorite, be sure to let us know! Personally, I'm surprised that we didn't see either Jak or Ratchet in the beta.
Only four stages are present in this beta and each is a combination of two Sony franchises. You have combos of Jak and Daxter plus Hot Shots Golf; God of War and Patapon, Little Big Planet plus Buzz; and finally Ratchet and Clank mixed with a God of War Hydra situation. There is a ton of stuff going on in these stages. I'm ok with levels giving you a bit of push back, but it is a tad annoying to have to answer quiz questions by standing on a particular platform when an angry evil ice cream man is trying to malatov cocktail you off of it. The Hades level is probably the best balanced, as you can easily tell what's coming and dodge it if you pay attention. While on the subject of game changers, let's talk items. For the beta, there were only a handful - Spear of Destiny from God of War, as well as the Hermes Boots. The rocket launcher can be aimed in directions and fired rapidly, as long as you have ammo. The Hedgehog Grenade, unfortunately, can't be directed. Up or down options on that one would have been a big help and there's no logical reason why you can't. The items are interesting enough and a kind of necessity in a game like this to keep it from being too stale. Yes, someone who wrote about Project:M's character balance is saying "items are a good thing" - I like fun too.
|Hot Shots Golf is a stretch...|
The network load was the focus of the beta on the backend, so let's touch on that. Once connected to a match, I had few troubles staying connected and keeping up with the action. Once in a while, I would get an "Opponents found, connecting" message and end up back at the character select screen, but that's to be expected at this point. Less often than the above issue, I would get matches that would see my character teleporting all over the place, getting hit by attacks that were nowhere near me. Again, this is a case of the network acting funny and not something to criticize yet, just something to be aware of. Things I do have to complain about as far as the network goes have to do with characters, namely some of the level 3 Supers. For Sly, when you activate the level 3 Super, you aim at enemies through a view finder, and if you can just "click" on the enemy, you get a kill. Once this ends, you should normally be back to fighting; sometimes the viewfinder stays up and you're stuck with a crosshair moving the focus of the screen about, leaving people out of view to hope for the best. Sweet Tooth's transformation would occasionally not work. You would see the transformation animation, but not be in the Mecha Tooth, which essentially leaves you unable to gain points via kills. Parappa's just seems to kill everyone on the screen, but I'm quite honestly not entirely sure what the mechanic behind this was.
So yes, a public beta will be coming in the fall and hopefully a huge cross section of players will have access to play this and give feedback. The game does come out in November, so I can't imagine a ton of changes will be present in any kind of day-one patch. When the public beta goes live, we'll aim to be involved and give an update of things that may have changed (or on things that should have but didn't). Join us moving forward as we celebrate Sony's character heritage. If you played the beta, please let us know what you think. If you have a question, post it here or contact me @sbfantom on Twitter and I'll answer to the best of my ability. Thoughts? Complaints? Did I miss something? Let us know here in the comment section.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Two nights until Summerslam - Will we have a World Heavyweight Title match on Sunday? That will be up to new General Manager Booker T to determine, among the other action tonight.
To open, Alberto del Rio approaches the ring in street clothes to address the WWE Universe. Del Rio demands his title match back. ADR calls out Sheamus for "whining" to the GM and says Booker T isn't doing his job by cancelling the match. On cue, Booker T heads out to address his disgruntled employee...er, independent contractor. ADR says that he made Sheamus pay for messing his property up, just like a man should. Booker T says a man wouldn't hire five guys dressed as cops to beat up one guy. Apparently that's where Booker T draws the line. Alberto says he's spoken with his lawyers...and Chris Jericho interrupts. Y2J tells ADR to please shut...the hell...up! Jericho runs down ADR's entire existence and calls him a chihuahua. Time for Spanish lessons with Jericho. Jericho says that since ADR isn't getting a title shot, maybe after he beats Dolph Ziggler, Jericho should take the World Heavyweight Title shot. Booker interjects and says Sheamus is not competing at Summerslam and sets tonight's main event as Chris Jericho vs Alberto del Rio.
Match 1: Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs Cody Rhodes and The Miz (Intercontinental Champion)
Winners: Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara via pinfall
Rhodes continues his campaign for proving that Sin Cara is ugly underneath his mask, by telling small children and those with heart conditions to avert their eyes, then shows a silly caricature. Michael Cole pipes in with "haha thats what he really looks like. I've seen it." Awful as usual. Early on, Miz and Rhodes get dumped to the floor and take a tandem senton and suicide dive, but just a one on Rhodes in the ring. Cara runs to the top and hits a spiraling arm drag, but gets distracted by Miz and takes a clothesline from Rhodes. Now the Miz tags in and punches away at Sin Cara. Rhodes back in and tearing at the mask of Cara; he delivers a gourdbuster and tags Miz back in. Cara tries to fight back with leg kicks, but Miz puts a stop to it and settles on a chin lock. Rhodes takes a tag back in and delivers a snapmare, then goes after the mask again. Cara hits an elevated snapmare and tags in Mysterio who runs in with a headscissors, then counters a sunset flip with a kick to the head and a jackknife pin. Off the ropes, Mysterio hits a kick and a lucha-style bulldog - Miz breaks up the pinfall, but takes a hurricanrana from Sin Cara. Rhodes tries to remove the mask again while he's in the ropes, but takes the 619 and a top rope splash for the loss.
Fun opening match for the kids seeing their masked heroes get the best of the bad guys, and Miz takes a 619 after trying a cheap shot, leading to some tension for the Mysterio/Miz IC Title match at Summerslam. No sloppiness from anyone, but too short a match to showcase four relatively high profile roster members.
Match 2: Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins vs Two Unnamed Goofs
Winners: Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins via pinfall
Reks and Hawkins come out in suits to no music; they're apparently now male strippers and the crowd doesn't at all approve. Hawkins with a snapmare and a kick to the spine, then tags in Reks. Reks boots the little fella in the ribs, then lands a jumping elbow drop. Reks beils the opponent across the ring and he tags in his partner. The new guy gets tossed into the corner and then takes a lariat from Hawkins. Hawkins his his swinging scoop slam and gyrates, then kicks the guy across the ring. Reks back in and they hit their tandem powerslam/neckbreaker for the win.
The crowd seems to hate the bit, but you can't trust crowd sounds on Smackdown since WWE fights so fervently to tell us how to feel about members of the roster. Regardless, Cole plays up Booker T telling Reks and Hawkins to "get themselves noticed", which is why they're doing this. Still a pointless change, at least as of now.
Recap of Punk winning the WWE Title at Survivor Series last year and why he'll be facing Cena and Big Show in a triple threat at Summerslam. Cena shows him disrespect by not shaking his hand at the end of Raw.
William Regal catches Eve in the back and wishes her luck tonight. Regal remembers being in charge of Raw, but is no longer the powerful man he was. Someone on the backstage crew hands him two bags of trash to take out. "Work is work".
Video package for Wade Barrett's return plays again. Barrett feels he fell into a civilized, easy life. He has returned to his roots...just to return back to the easy life again?
Match 3: Eve Torres vs Kaitlyn, winner is Booker T's assistant
Winner: Eve via pinfall
Teddy Long, senior adviser to the GM, is out on commentary. Shouldn't the women rather be wrestlers than a GM's assistant? Odd thing to wrestle for. Eve backs Kaitlyn into the ropes then takes her down. Eve moves from a chancery into a fujiwara armbar and lets go after putting her own foot on the rope. Kaitlyn fights back to her feet and delivers a back body drop and a Cena-style shoulder block. Kaitlyn with a roll up, but Eve out at two. Eve drops Kaitlyn across the middle rope and wants a suplex, but Kaitlyn ties her up with a small package for two. Eve kicks her way out of the corner and clubs away at Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn ends up on the apron and climbs to the top, but Eve drags her off by her arm. Eve brings Kaitlyn to her feet and delivers a spinning neckbreaker to pin Kaitlyn.
Long isn't happy with the result and Eve exits the ring to gloat. Eve is happy with herself earning the privilege of being Booker's assistant. It'd be more worth it to win a match for a title match, but to each their own, I guess. After a commercial, Eve meets her new boss and Booker congratulates her. Booker asks if Eve will be able to get along with Teddy Long and she says yes. Eve says she's at Booker's disposal, and he gets a wild look in his eye.
Match 4: Daniel Bryan vs Randy Orton
Winner: Randy Orton via pinfall
The crowd opens right up with YES chants. Orton right into a headlock and a shoulder block. Once again on both counts. Bryan comes back with a kick and strikes to the head, but gets whipped to the corner and flips over Orton, but gets a dropkick to the beard. Bryan bails to the outside and has a YES/NO war with a fan. Back to the ring, Orton hits a back body drop and a set of stomps, then stomps the midsection of Bryan. Bryan avoids the knee drop and then dropkicks Orton in the knee to take a bit of control back. Bryan goes right to work on the knee, but Orton kicks his way out of the corner, only to take a European uppercut and end up in a leg lock on the mat. Bryan releases and stomps the leg. Orton starts to fight back with rights, but Bryan back to the leg and hits a head and arm suplex, then up to the top rope. Orton with a right fist and a headbutt to stop Bryan's progress. Orton meets Bryan up top and hits a superplex, leaving both men on the mat.
Back from a commercial, Orton is fighting back as the men exchange strikes. Bryan with a trip and he runs the knee right into the mat with a variant on a dragon screw. Bryan ties Orton's leg in the ropes and kicks at it, then hits a running dropkick to it. Bryan rushes Orton in the corner but ends up shoulder first in the ringpost. Orton with a rolling schoolboy from the top rope and a pair of clotheslines, followed by a powerslam. Orton grabs Bryan and puts him on the apron. Bryan fights out of the DDT attempt and pulls him to the floor. Orton reverses a whip and sends Bryan into the barricade. Orton rolls Bryan in the ring, but he rolls all the way out to the other side; Orton gives chase but ends up getting thrown into the steel steps and back into the ring. Bryan covers and Orton is out at two. Back to his feet, Bryan kicks Orton in the chest repeatedly but misses the head kick. Orton hits his backbreaker to even the playing field. Bryan kicks out in two and Orton is first to his feet. Bryan kicks out of the corner and hops up top, but Orton punches him in the head repeatedly. Orton drags Bryan out by his head and hits the spike DDT out of the corner. Orton coils on the mat, calling for the RKO. Bryan counters and tries the Nolock, but Orton fights it. Bryan finally puts Orton down by his leg and locks in the Nolcok mid ring. Kane's pyro, lights and music hits and Bryan breaks the hold and bails from the ring, selling panic. The music and lights stop and Bryan gets back in the ring, walking directly into an RKO for the win.
At the least, this is one of those "protecting" endings - Bryan lost, but he had the man locked dead center in his finishing hold which is a visual win. This continues toward Summerslam's Bryan/Kane match and gives everyone the RKO they came to Smackdown to see. As Orton celebrates, Kane walks out on the stage smiling and nodding. No physical contact between the Summerslam combatants, which is a smart choice. Good match with Bryan in control for the vast majority of it. Bryan's repertoire continues to be WWE-ified: His chest kicks to a kneeling opponent always end with an attempted head shot which is now almost always dodged.
Match 5: Antonio Cesaro vs Zack Ryder
Winner: Antonio Cesaro via pinfall
Santino Marella is at the commentary table for this one, as he defends the US Title against Cesaro on Sunday. Cesaro still has his silly generic music; he really needs a new entrance. Aksana takes the mic to re-introduce Cesaro and says he will speak in five languages. Swiss, Italian, German, French and finally English: "Loser". Cesaro immediately delivers a knee to the gut and a deadlift gutwrench. Cesaro delivers a series of headbutts and a chinlock. Ryder fights out and hits a facebuster and a pair of clotheslines, then a forearm in the corner. Ryder delivers the Broski Boot, but Cesaro is out at two. Cesaro with an overhead snake eyes and the Neutralizer for the win.
Cesaro immediately hits the floor and smacks Santino, then tosses him over the announce table. Santino is livid. Not much to say, as the match was just another display of Cesaro's strength and basic repertoire. They should really let him use the UFO, as it's a great visual. And there's no way WWE could say it's "too silly" when NXT this week had Scotty 2 Hottie return and deliver the Worm chop, not to mention Marella's Cobra.
Recap of Lesnar/HHH and HBK's arm broken from Monday Night Raw. I still say that HBK's arm being broken would have been far more dramatic if HHH hadn't suffered the exact same fate a couple months ago and returned 100% better.
Match 6: Alberto del Rio vs Chris Jericho
Winner: Alberto del Rio via pinfall
Before Jericho can make his entrance, Dolph Ziggler beans Jericho with the MITB briefcase and rams him with a tool rack against the wall. Ziggler screams not to overlook him and Booker T hits the scene to call in a trainer. ADR is all smiles after seeing what happened and grabs a mic. ADR declares himself the winner via forfeit and demands Booker T grant him his Summerslam match. Jericho's music hits and he enters clutching his midsection. ADR mocks Jericho and takes a forearm to the face for it. ADR puts Jericho into the ropes and hits a knee to the gut, then a jumping stomp to the hurt midsection. Jericho is sent chest first into the turnbuckle, which puts him on his back. ADR with a double stomp to the midsection for two. Del Rio chokes Jericho in the ropes, but Jericho starts to fight back with chops. Off the ropes, ADR hits another knee to the gut and a sliding dropkick to keep the onslaught going. Del Rio wants the Cross Armbreaker, but Jericho hits an enzuigiri to take a bit of control back. Jericho gets sent to the apron and takes a kick to the midsection, then gets rammed off the apron rib first into the commentary table, leading to a commercial.
On the return, del Rio has a bodyscissors and chinlock cinched in. Jericho fights his way out but walks into a tilt a whirl backbreaker for two. ADR rushes Jericho in the corner for his usual step up enzuigiri, but delivers it to the ribs instead of the head for a two count. Del Rio climbs to the middle rope but whiffs a double stomp attempt. Jericho with kicks to the legs of ADR and a pair of shoulder blocks. On the third try, del Rio hits a back kick to the gut, but Jericho hits a back elbow and Lionsault. Jericho takes just as much damage on the Lionsault, which leads to a delayed cover and a two count. Alberto with a trio of headbutts and an attempt at the double knee arm breaker. Jericho counters it into the Walls of Jericho, but del Rio forces his way out. ADR kicks Jericho off and Ziggler appears out of nowhere to pull the top rop down, which forces Jericho to fall to the floor. Ziggler throws Jericho back in and ADR hits a low step up enzuigiri for the win.
Good match with a good story, showing Jericho will fight in any state to win and that del Rio will take any shortcuts necessary. ADR slaps on the Cross Armbreaker and Dolph hits the mat to talk trash. Sheamus' music hits and he rushes the ring to take out Alberto. Sheamus' arm is heavily taped, which will play up the Cross Armbreaker as a factor at Summerslam. The fight spills outside and del Rio runs into the crowd to escape. Booker T enters and asks Sheamus why he's here. Sheamus wants the match with del Rio back on, despite his injuries. Sheamus is really pulling a Cena on this one - Has to be the hero, has to be the tough guy. Realistically, he's an idiot for not waiting to heal up, but if we went by realism, pro wrestling would be all kinds of boring. Sheamus takes on Alberto del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship at Summerslam.
Much better job of leading into a PPV than normal for Smackdown. The focus of the show is obviously still on Brock/HHH and the WWE Title triple threat, but I don't think anyone expected Sheamus to not be in action at Summerslam. Bryan/Kane would best be suited to end after Summerslam, as there are better things for Bryan to do. There's always the possibility of a Ziggler cash-in attempt, as he hasn't done the "try to cash-in but get foiled" bit for a while now. Things progressed, matches had purpose - That's all we really ask for and it seems like since the move to three hour Raws, WWE is getting back to providing that. Maybe it's a result of seeing how focused TNA seems to be lately; it surely didn't require a third hour on Mondays to make things focused. On to Summerslam!