Live from Dallas, TX
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Matt Striker and Jerry Lawler
I don’t get the thinking behind the stip, given that only one guy has a submission finish. The faces wisely double-team Miz and get rid of him, then do some mat wrestling in the ring. Bryan gets a kneebar and Morrison gets to the ropes, but it’s actually the one time I’ve ever seen the ropes not being out of bounds in a falls-count-anywhere match. Generally even if it’s falls-count-anywhere, putting your feet on the ropes magically breaks the count because the ropes transcend the normal laws of physics and rules of wrestling. Witness the awesome power of momentum, forcing whomever is whipped into the ropes to continue running until stopped by a boot to the face. The guys trade some submission moves, including Bryan busting out Cattle Mutilation to the delight of wrestling nerd Striker. â€œThat’s called WHAT?!â€ declares Jerry Lawler, as apparently he’s given up on being nice to Striker at this point. Morrison breaks up a heel hook attempt by Bryan, then dumps Miz and hits him with a corkscrew plancha. They fight into the crowd, where Miz tries a wristlock (made more devastating by being on the floor), but Morrison punches him in the face to break. They fight up the stairs, with Bryan following, but Miz punts him back down to the floor again. Miz continues to fight off both faces, dropping Morrison on the railing and then whipping Bryan into a barricade. Morrison comes back with a springboard knee off the barricade onto Bryan, but Miz runs an equipment trunk into him. Bryan gets put on the rolling trunk and run into the ramp for a nice bump, and Miz hits Morrison with the Skull Crushing Finale on the floor. That would seem to end Morrison’s night, leaving Bryan and Miz to clothesline each other at the entranceway. Morrison returns from the dead and climbs the lighting wall, however, and comes off the set with a flying bodypress onto both guys. That’s quite the bump for an opening match. Morrison goes with a Texas Cloverleaf on Miz, but Alex Riley comes out to break it up. Bryan gets rid of him in turn, and finishes Miz with the LeBell lock at 13:33. Pretty great little brawl to open the show, although the submission stip ended up meaning not much to the match. ***3/4 Logically you’d go with Morrison v. Riley from there, but I don’t think that ended up happening.
Now see, this match demonstrates the main problem with these theme PPVs. OK, two main problems. First problem is that the entire concept is a total bait-and-switch in the first place, as the legacy behind the stipulation promises ZOMG BLOOD AND CRAZY BUMPS and the PG WWE isn’t willing to deliver that any longer. Second problem is these guys really don’t have any particular issue that needs to be resolved. Yeah, they did a shitty DQ finish at Summerslam, but then Orton won the title clean at Night of Champions! Sheamus can’t even bitch about losing in a multi-man match, because he was the guy who lost the final fall. The progression is just all mixed up here. You’re supposed to do the crazy multi-man match first where Sheamus steals the final pin, then Orton gets a singles match for revenge but Sheamus loses by DQ, THEN you do Orton finally challenging for the belt in the Cell. Anyway, they slug it out to start, and Orton gets a clothesline out of the corner, but Sheamus gives him the rope burn. What a cad. Orton clotheslines him out of the ring, but that goes nowhere. Back in, we get a Garvin stomp for two, but Sheamus slingshots in with a clothesline for two and pounds away. To the floor and Sheamus tosses the stairs at Orton to no avail, allowing Orton to come back and run Sheamus into the cage a few times. Stairs to the head put Sheamus down, but he fights back in the ring and stomps a mudhole in the corner. He works the ribs and gets two. Sheamus exposes a turnbuckle, but can’t go anywhere with that and puts Orton down with an axehandle instead. Back to the floor, where Sheamus suplexes him onto the stairs and pounds the ribs. Striker is on this weird run about how injuring the mid-section neutralizes the RKO somehow. The real tragedy of this PG era is that they can’t even do a good internal bleeding gimmick any more. No one could bite down on a condom full of fake blood like Ken Shamrock used to. Of course these days it’s real blood coming from his mouth because he’s getting punched in the face at will, but that’s just me rambling a bit because this match is pretty dull. Cole and Striker are having the most inane conversation about nothing, as even the announcers are running out of stuff to highlight here. Orton finally comes back with the powerslam and a belly to belly suplex for two. Backbreaker and Orton goes for the RKO, but Sheamus hits him with a knee to the gut to break. Sheamus gets the stairs, but Orton powerslams him onto them for two. Orton necksnaps him and follows with a DDT off the apron, but now he’s choosing to sell the ribs again. Sheamus sends him into the post and they head back in, where Sheamus gives him his backbreaker on top of the stairs. How does that hurt any more than usual? He’s landing on the knee either way. Brogue kick gets two. He gets a chair and finally we get some real violence, as Sheamus pounds him down for two. Orton won’t stay down, so Sheamus winds up again, misses, and the RKO puts Sheamus on the floor. Orton apparently hears voices, but miss the punt, and Sheamus gets another Brogue kick on the floor. As a reminder, all moves hurt more on the floor. Back in, that gets two. Sheamus has some good emotions here showing his frustration like a heel would. He goes to finish on the stairs, but Orton counters out and finishes with the RKO onto the stairs, at 22:54. The cell gimmick barely factored in here at all and it was very slow and dull overall. Sheamus v. Orton is not exactly a feud for the ages that needed to be settled in the cage. **3/4 Orton as a babyface = NO BUYS. Literally, actually. It’s really the same trap they always fall into, where someone gets really over as a heel and they suddenly feel like they HAVE to turn them so as to not have people daring to cheer for the heel. Because god forbid.
Meanwhile, Nexus interrupts an interview with the NXT chicks, and Wade Barrett promises that Cena will join them.
Impromptu match: Jack Swagger v. Edge
Alberto Del Rio is my new hero. Anyone with their own personal ring announcer is OK in my books. This guy is MONEY. Anyway, he cuts a promo looking for a fight, and Edge answers, then Swagger answers THAT. And the anonymous GM makes the match official while Del Rio retreats. Everything after Del Rio’s promo is weak sauce. So Swagger beats on Edge to start and whips him into the corner, then takes him down with a gutbuster for two. A bodyscissors burns up some time, but Edge fights out, only to clothesline himself on the ropes. He fights back with a bulldog for two, and the Edge-O-Matic for two. Swagger rolls into the anklelock on the kickout, but Edge makes the ropes. Swagger bails and gets the anklelock on the floor, where it hurts more, but Edge reverses him into the stairs. Back in, Edge goes up, but Swagger hits him with a pop-up superplex. Hey, if you’re gonna rip off 90% of someone’s moveset, you could do a lot worse than Kurt Angle. Swagger is big enough to swipe a bunch of Brock Lesnar’s moveset as well, which would give the world a pretty awesome super-wrestler. Edge tries the spear, but Swagger counters into the doctor bomb for two. Edge misses an enzuigiri and Swagger moves in with the anklelock, but Edge makes the ropes. Spear finishes at 11:30. Man, winning the World title was just not a good career move for Swagger, no? Nothing going on here. **
Barrett goes with the headlock to start, but Cena powers out and gets a takedown for two. They trade wristlocks and Cena gets a hiptoss for two as the crowd finally starts to wake up. Barrett pounds him down, but Cena goes for the FU while Nexus runs out. Cena stops to gawk at them, but Barrett tosses him and yells at his team for disobeying orders. Back in, Barrett gets two. He slugs Cena down for two. Thank god Barrett can at least throw a worked punch convincingly, an artform that 99% of new hires (and many old hires) can’t grasp. Barrett goes up with a nice flying elbow for two. Cena fights back, but misses a charge, and Barrett gets a neckbreaker for two. This prompts a surreal duelling â€œLet’s go Cena/Let’s go Barrettâ€ chant. Wait, so if you give a new guy a solid push and don’t neuter him with a stupid gimmick, they might GET OVER? Lemme write this down for future reference. Barrett with a surfboard, but Cena comes back with the usual, prompting Nexus to surround the ring. Big Show and the locker room run out and get rid of Nexus (I bet they were all â€œOh shit, it’s Chris Masters, now we’re FUCKED!â€), and Cena puts Barrett in the STF. Barrett powers out and comes back with a pumphandle slam for two. He goes for the Wasteland, but Cena reverses to a gutwrench suplex for two. Barrett reverses the FU into a butterfly suplex for two. Bossman slam gets two. There’s a move that’s waiting for someone to resurrect it as a finish. Barrett goes up, but misses a second flying elbow. Why this was a good thing: Because he already hit it earlier in the match, so it doesn’t just make him look like a punk. We KNOW he can hit it, and that’s a small but important distinction. They fight to the top and Cena headbutts him back to the mat, then follows with the guillotine legdrop for two. Cena goes for the FU, but Barrett reverses to the Wasteland for two. Barrett is unsure what to do next in a nice touch, but that allows Cena to get the FU for two. Both guys are out and Cena recovers with the STF, but a â€œfanâ€ runs in to distract the ref, allowing another â€œfanâ€ to clock Cena and Barrett to get the pin at 17:50, and Cena is Nexus. The shocked crowd reaction is great stuff, the kind of legitimate drama you don’t often get out of WWE’s overplayed stips and silly comedy angles. Lots to like here, although they couldn’t follow this up with anything as good. ***1/2
Natalya tries some mat wrestling, but they head out and Nat gets caught with a clothesline. Back in, McCool gets a bodyscissors, but Natalya fights out with a clothesline for two. She stupidly goes after Layla, however, then gets a rollup on McCool while the ref deals with Layla. McCool comes back with a belly to belly suplex for two. Nat with a sharpshooter, but Michelle reverses to a heel hook. Nat reverses back again, but Layla throws in a shoe for the DQ at 4:45. Yes, shoe-throwing is actually a finish now. *
Smackdown World title, HELL IN A CELL: Kane v. Undertaker
I have to wonder how the reconciliation conversation between Undertaker and Paul Bearer would have gone. I mean, I’m a pretty easy-going guy, but I have to think that someone trying to bury me alive in concrete would be the breaking point for any relationship. Did they go out for a beer and just kind of dance around the subject of attempted murder? Is there any accepted social norms for bringing up the topic? Taker attacks to start and gets the first chairshot, and they head back in for a corner clothesline and Snake Eyes. Legdrop gets two. Kane gets the chair and puts Taker down while Striker actually makes a serious attempt at relating the backstory of this â€œfamilyâ€. Just read the novel, it’s much more entertaining. They slowly fight out of the ring and Kane sends UT into the stairs, working on the leg, then back in for more of that. Striker once again goes on his stupid thing about how working on one body part somehow eliminates every major move that someone does. By that logic, he shouldn’t be able to do even simple moves like bodyslams or clotheslines, and he should just forfeit the match right now. Taker comes back with the guillotine legdrop, but Kane dropkicks the knee (because that’s how high he can get for a dropkick) and we get the epic â€œlaying on the mat in a leg holdâ€ spot, ala Dusty Rhodes. They slug it out from their knees and then stand up for more punches, before Taker goes Old School. Kane brings him down on the top rope to counter and follows with a superplex. The aerial exhibition continues as Kane goes up with the flying clothesline, but Taker catches him with the gogoplata. Kane slides out of the ring to escape, which is good because I think we all need a break from the torrid pace here. Back in, they give each other the big boot, allowing more rest. They both sit up and Taker gets a DDT for two. Chokeslam gets two, thus disproving Striker’s hypothesis. Kane gets his own chokeslam for two. Kane pounds away in the corner, and Taker gets the Last Ride for two. They trade tombstone counters and Kane gets the move for two. Kane is upset about this and takes out the referee, so now the cell is opened for the crack medical team (and Paul Bearer) to enter. Kane goes after him, which prompts a comeback from Undertaker and a chokeslam. He goes to finish, but of course Bearer turns on him by, uh, shining a flashlight in his face. As nefarious plans go, I’ve seen better. Taker is so shocked by how shitty this match is that he just stands there while Kane hits him with the urn and pins him at 22:38 after a chokeslam. Cole declares this â€œthe ultimate act of treasonâ€, but really Kane is his son, so anything other than that would be much more treasonous. This match was of course fucking awful, and I’ve still got Bragging Rights to review next and I’m not looking forward to the finale of the trilogy of suck. 1/2*
A real mixed bag PPV, with the first few matches being quite good and then a major quality dropoff after the shockingly entertaining Barrett-Cena match. Barrett v. Cena is worth checking out, but the rest is pretty skippable and I would not recommend anyone in their right mind pay money for Kane v Undertaker in 2010, so we’ll go with a mild recommendation to avoid.