Reflections… WWE Over The Limit 2010

Sigh.

The normal format of this column is to go through each WWE PPV match-by-match and analyse it with an eye to the broader picture, assigning a grade based on how effective each match is to the general development of the participants and their feuds. This time it will be different. This time I am blinded by an inexplicable hatred of every single aspect of Over The Limit. Hell, even the name annoys me. The connotations to Over The Edge and the memories that event dredges up are obvious. It is also rather worrying that seemingly nobody in WWE made that connection to the 11th anniversary of Owen Hart’s death until long after the Over The Limit name had been locked in. That aside, however, the name is still horrible. Over what limit? Who is going over it? What happens when they do? What does this name have to do with anything? It may make sense if there is a time limit theme involved, yet it is hard to imagine Beat The Clock meaning a damn thing in terms of PPV buys. It might work for a submissions theme but Breaking Point was far better for such an event, which bombed at the box office nonetheless. Besides, there was only one submissions match on this card. So, in essence, the name Over The Limit meant nothing.

Now, check out the poster:

Edge. Running. Angry. Speed. What? Nothing! Oh.

Honestly, if this event was any more generic it would be a WWE action movie. At a time when all WWE PPVs are promoted around a marketable gimmick, this is the one that got left behind. No gimmick, no theme, no hook, no point, none at all. Headlined by the same damn match as the previous two PPVs (three if you include the brief Cena/Batista clash at Elimination Chamber), which was far from popular enough to help the WrestleMania buyrate live up to expectations. The other main title match involved an underwhelming and unproven World Heavyweight Champion and a fat man. The other main Raw match was somewhat fresh yet offered no motivation at all for people to pay money to see it rather than watching the product on TV for free. The other main Smackdown match suffered from the same flaw even as it tried to dangle a carrot in front of the customer, as we shall see.

In case you can’t tell, everything about this show irritated me. Given the multitude of injuries on this show, the fates evidently agreed with me. Screw trying to ascertain the bigger picture. WWE did not attempt to do that. Let’s just rip this thing apart already…


Intercontinental Title:
Drew McIntyre vs Kofi Kingston

– The heel champion is stripped of the title. The babyface challenger becomes champion. The babyface champion is stripped of the title. The heel champion is given the title back. The babyface challenger wins the title off of the heel champion. All within a two-week spell. And all while the heel is feuding with a completely different babyface. So, what was the point?

– McIntyre has the right context – a good look, a good entrance, a good gimmick – yet has none of the right content at all as he has to be the dullest young wrestler around. Kingston bases his work around being a happy-go-lucky high-flyer but he is so sloppy in what he does that it becomes far easier to ridicule him rather than to share his enthusiasm. This match served only to prove that dullness and sloppiness do not make for a good combination.

– McIntyre’s post-match demands for Teddy Long to come out and face him had me expecting Vince McMahon himself to appear and berate McIntyre for having invented these letters that were supposed to be from McMahon’s office. I still expect them to pay off this Chosen One angle that way, given that the usual suspects backstage are alleged to have lost interest in McIntyre already. As it stands, the angle does not make much sense. When Batista did a favour for McMahon he got a random world title shot at an opportune moment. When CM Punk was the favourite of McMahon’s last fall he had referees ensuring screwjob victories in his title matches. McIntyre has had some of Long’s decisions that affect him overturned, yet not all of them. None of the gaps can be explained because McMahon no longer appears on TV (for now). Worse, McIntyre lacks the personality to pull any of this off by himself. It is linked in a sense to the ‘probation’ storyline between Long and McMahon, yet that has dragged on for so long now, with so many stops and starts along the way, that it is impossible to care about it at all. Please, for crying out loud, wrap that plot thread up and move on. Get rid of Long, put somebody new in that spot (Abraham Washington?), have that person on McIntyre’s side and let this Chosen One gimmick live up to its potential rather than throwing aside another good idea because of incompetent storytelling.

– The match itself was nothing to write home about, of course. More bog-standard offense by McIntyre. More high-spirited and error-prone jumping antics from Kingston. A confusing finish that involved flipping around an awful lot, like some kind of deviant zero-gravity sexual assault. Kingston is now champion of a meaningless title with no apparent challengers. McIntyre now gets to continue a feud with Matt Hardy’s Girth in a program that can only be saved from the doldrums if they base it around Matt blaming Scottish junk food for his blubber. Can we get a Chip Shop Match already? How about a Deep Fried Mars Bar as a foreign object? Drew “White Pudding” McIntyre versus Matt “Whopper” Hardy. Nice. [4]


R-Truth vs Ted Dibiase

– Firstly, let’s give credit to Truth for at last managing to deliver a somewhat coherent rap. It made quite a change from his usual attempt at inadvertently imitating Arseface.

– Dibiase got a concussion from a harsh Truth slap early on, which put paid to any chances of this match becoming anything special. That said, Truth was scheduled to get a clean win here all along. This makes no sense. Dibiase is the one who is trying to get over with a new (old) gimmick. He is the one who is rumoured to be setting up his own stable in the near future, or at least a tag team with Joe Hennig. He is the one who has to establish his role in the company with the crowd, while Truth is already as established as he is likely to become. Furthermore, Dibiase is the one with a corner man there to help him get a sneaky heel victory. Virgil, however, did ab-so-lute-ly-noth-ing-at-all in this match. No doubt there were spots that were omitted because of Dibiase’s condition but if the agents in the back could not inform the referee of suitable alternatives as the match continued, or if they were just not informed about the concussion, then that does not raise my confidence in the competence of the current set-up. There was no reason why Virgil could not have helped Dibiase get a cheap win, or tried to interfere but have it backfired and thus lead to Truth getting the win. Truth simply pinning Dibiase with the Flying Fried Chicken Forearm did nobody any favours and made Virgil’s presence a complete waste of time. Furthermore, if anybody remembers Virgil at all then they are well aware that in his last appearance in WWE he had forsaken the Million Dollar Man and struck out on his own as a poorer, yet prouder independent man. Now he is simply right back where he was in 1990 with nary an explanation for this about-turn in morality. We also now have Truth as the new United States Champion. I am neither pleased nor saddened about that, simply amazed that a long-term storyline involving Daniel Bryan beating The Miz for the title was abandoned and replaced with Daniel Bryan feuding with Michael Cole while the title bounced around to a fifty-something stroke victim and then onto another random person. Strange times. [3]


Straight Edge Society Pledge vs Hair Match:
Rey Mysterio vs C.M. Punk

Sigh.

– First of all, Punk’s mirror-based promo earlier in the show was fantastic. The contrast to his reaction at seeing his shaved-head in another mirror after the match was a nice touch. That being said, this entire section of the show irked me something fierce.


No, not that irked… although, let’s face it, we’ve all been there…

– Now, the stipulations. The apparent reason behind WWE not running a Hair vs Mask match was that they thought the audience would not believe Mysterio might be unmasked, hence the outcome would be too obvious. That would not, however, be a bad thing. In running that stipulation they would in essence be telling the audience that if they bought this show they would see Punk get his head shaved. Promising people something that they want to see is a surefire way to make money. They did not do that and instead threw in an alternative stipulation that led people to believe Punk was going to win this match. Congratulations, WWE. You surprised your audience at the wrong time, in the wrong way, on a meaningless show, with most likely a limp buyrate, and cost yourself a ton of money. That’s just great.

– Mysterio’s win here is said to at least in part be due to him coming to a new arrangement with WWE and getting a few weeks of vacation due to it. In a world without long-term planning, no thought was given to the idea of Mysterio losing, going away for a while, and then returning to defeat the villain by putting his very essence on the line (his mask) in order to become triumphant in the end. They did not want to film a bunch of vignettes about Mysterio being forced to comply to the whims of the Straight Edge Society against his will and spread them out over a few weeks of TV. They did not want to have him forced to join the Straight Edge Society, refuse to unmask when Punk demanded it and then get beaten down and written out of the show for a few weeks. Not even when Mysterio being at this week’s Smackdown tapings after all. Not even when Mysterio was written out of storylines at these tapings due to a beating anyway, albeit randomly at the hands of Jack Swagger for no good reason. Instead they cut straight to the finish of the feud, without exploring the intriguing potential of Mysterio being in the Society, without even resolving the issue of the mysterious masked man who has been helping Punk battle Mysterio. This is simply bad television.

– Remember when Kane used to be Punk’s tag partner? And then, for no reason, he was feuding with him instead? And then they had nothing to do with one another? Remember when Kane kidnapped Mysterio and tortured him because he was freaked out by the mask? And then they had nothing to do with one another until a random team-up on Smackdown for no reason a couple of weeks ago? Have any of these discrepancies been explained? No? They just do shit for the sake of it? Oh, right.

– The blood stoppages… look, there is a clear difference between deliberate blading and accidental cuts. If kids did not freak out when Hulk Hogan ‘bled’ at WrestleMania VII, for instance, then I doubt they will be scarred for life by Punk getting a cut here. It is even more ridonkulous when put into context with the rest of this show, in particular the main event. There we had one man pass out and yet the referee was powerless to stop the match, yet here this match had to be paused due to a cut. Hell, we even had one man try to kill another with a car and yet that was also seemingly not as serious as a cut on a man’s head. In situations as stupid as these, all we can do is turn to The Simpsons:

Roger Meyers: I did a little research and I discovered a startling thing… There was violence in the past, long before cartoons were invented.

Kent Brockman: I see. Fascinating.

Roger Meyers: Yeah, and know something, Kent? The Crusades, for instance. Tremendous violence, many people killed, the darned thing went on for thirty years.

Kent Brockman: And this was before cartoons were invented?

Roger Meyers: That’s right, Kent.

– That being said, credit must be given where it is due. Setting aside all of the other nonsense, this was a fine little match that reiterated just how great Punk is these days. Mysterio is enjoyable more often than not, yet at this stage in his career he does seem to depend on a quality heel opponent to get the best out of his matches. It worked with Jericho last year and almost with Punk this year, albeit with their previous PPV matches being hampered by time restrictions and odd booking. This one was the best of their feud by far, full of little touches such as Punk’s Straight Edge Pledge recital punctuated by blows to a beaten Mysterio at his feet. Punk also did a tremendous job at getting the crowd back into the swing of things right after the blood stoppage due to a vicious flurry of harsh offense. It’s something of a shame that he is now going to be in a program with Kane, of all people. I suppose Kane is meant to be defending his right to avoid the straight-edge lifestyle and continue with pyromania, torture, kidnapping, psychopathic behaviour and reading stories to small children? [6]


Unified Tag Team Titles:
Hart Dynasty vs Chris Jericho & The Miz

– I was amazed to hear Tyson Kidd’s weight being announced as 199 pounds. I thought there was an unwritten rule in WWE that, wherever possible, all male wrestlers had to be announced as at least 200 pounds. It seems a little odd that they would be so specific for Kidd’s weight rather than pushing him over that 200 pounds barrier they have constructed for so many other people over the years. Perhaps this is one of those little bouts of pettiness that McMahon still succumbs to at odd moments whenever the Harts are concerned.

– The crowd evidently did not care at all about anybody in this match not named Chris Jericho. This was not helped by Jericho getting to do the most spectacular move of the match, namely the Super Codebreaker on Kidd. It was not helped by him having Miz as his new partner either. In some ways that partnership makes sense as a sort of Big Show’s Sloppy Seconds theme, yet as Miz’s character is rather indistinguishable from Jericho’s (both being well-dressed, verbose egomaniacs) it only makes him come across as a less-established knock-off rather than as a talent in his own right. And as for the Harts… well, c’mon, Bret Hart has been around for five months and WWE has only spent about two weeks trying to give these guys some sort of a rub from him. It is a shame as they are two of the best young talents the company has right now. They certainly went out of their way to get the indifferent crowd back into the match by the end – only to sadly fail to deliver an impressive Hart Attack.

– Here is as good a place as any to talk about the announcers, since most of this match saw them running a simultaneous handicap fight between Striker and Cole & Lawler. This has to stop. Lawler may not enjoy working with Striker but he ought to suck it up and get on with things rather than being so petulant as to let his personal preferences interfere with his professional work. Workers of the world – if you had to deliver a presentation with a colleague that you disliked, would you get on with the task at hand or spend the presentation time pointing out how everything your colleague said was stupid? Striker is to blame as well, of course. His bad habits of making up ridiculous statistics, of making incorrect historical references, of taking far too long to make his points, of failing to decide if he is a heel or not and of failing to understand the value of well-time silence while on commentary have gone from bad to worse to unbearable. His good habits of old have receded from my memory. Now all that remains is an outright hatred of the very sound of his voice, to the extent that I often have to tune out the commentary altogether in order to enjoy the product. Really, how incompetent does an announcer have to be when he makes Cole seem like a decent commentator? We can make all the usual comments about Jim Ross or even Joey Styles being available, yet we ought to have come to terms with the fact that they are not returning to the announce table by now. At this point the best we can hope for is that Cole will be able to run with his effective NXT heel persona on all WWE programming, with Striker being eliminated from the equation and either Todd Grisham or Josh Matthews taking up Cole’s current spot as the bland straight man. [5]


Randy Orton vs Edge

– Speaking of the announcing, why on earth would they make mention of the fact that Orton did not get a great big babyface pop from the crowd? It was seemingly a McMahon-fed line but why on earth would he even want to acknowledge that one of his top babyface superstars was not as popular as expected? I am confident that the announcers never described the uncertain babyface reactions Steve Austin got in 1997, prior to his ‘official’ turn, as anything unspectacular. At worst, there was a blanket statement of disbelief about how the announcers ‘didn’t know why the people like him, but they do’. I suppose that there will not be all that much damage done given that no more than about 150,000 people are likely to have bought this show, yet it is a curious and dangerous precedent to set.

– The match, of course, never really was. Orton had hurt his arm a few days before this. Edge seemed to have some sort of eye injury and has not looked as sharp since his return as he was before his Achilles tore. Before the match deflated altogether and limped to a halt, there was nothing of any note whatsoever. Perhaps they had some bigger and better spots to build to, perhaps it was just always going to be a bland affair of house show standards, we shall never know. In the end, Orton had yet another shoulder incident and that was that. Speaking as someone who has had a history of shoulder problems (fourteen dislocations and one surgery, so far) I can indeed confirm that the more times it pops out, the likelier it is to pop out again. Hell, one time mine fell out of socket while I was yawning. I’m not at all surprised it happened to Orton while pounding the mat. Of course, this may all affect Orton’s confidence a lot more than it has mine considering his line of work. If it is constantly in the back of your mind that your shoulder may get injured yet again, which clearly it is in Orton’s case given his reaction to Ken Kennedy sloppily dropping him a while back, then that could wreak havoc upon his belief in doing certain moves, or even in lifting weights whilst working out. Trust me, it is a lot harder to do any major physical activity with an arm dangling out of socket than it is with a dodgy knee or a sore back. All the best, Randy. May the voices in your head steer you in the right direction. [N/A]


World Heavyweight Title:
Jack Swagger vs Big Show

As noted earlier, there appeared to be a lack of confident, sensible decision-making backstage throughout this show. Given the injury problems that had affected Truth/Dibiase and Edge/Orton, not to mention the evident downturn in crowd heat, there was no good reason why they should not have altered the finish to this match. A cheap DQ after five minutes in one of the major bouts on the PPV card was never a good idea to begin with and this folly was only reinforced in these particular circumstances. Even Swagger doing the same belt shot behind the referee’s back and getting a tainted pinfall victory after a few extra minutes would have been more effective than this. At least that would have demonstrated that the heel champion is capable of cheating his way to victory rather than just running away from defeat. Not that the cowardly heel does not have its place in the grand scheme of things. It just is not the best model to follow when trying to establish a first-time champion as a credible main event talent in a short space of time. Look at Triple H in 1999, or Brock Lesnar in 2002, or Batista in 2005. They all had clear characters, the audience knew who they were and they were presented in a powerful, consistent manner, which enabled them to become established. WWE seems to have no idea who or what they want Swagger to be and as a result it will not work. [2]


Divas Title:
Eve Torres vs Maryse

Not much to be said about this, of course, other than to point out that Maryse could be used to a much more effective extent. She is a horrible wrestler but a tremendous character. It would seem to make far more sense to not use her as an in-ring competitor but instead make her a manager for somebody else who has potential but is perhaps lacking in charisma, such as Ted Dibiase or Curt Hawkins. Then she can get into the ring every now and again just to attempt the Dildo Pin. That’s nice. By the way, this match lasted three seconds longer than the World Heavyweight Title bout. Great. [3]


WWE Championship I Quit Match:
John Cena vs Batista

– Yet another sign of a lack of long-term planning was WWE’s hurried attempt to get a submission move over for Batista. That they never even bothered to settle on a name for it speaks volumes. Hardly surprising, however, given that it took them months to figure out what to call The Undertaker’s submission hold other than ‘That Move’. This is a fundamental flaw. It might be difficult to construct a long-term storyline and see it through to completion. It should be straightforward to think of a name for a move and go ahead and use it. Besides, has Batista even defeated anybody with that move? Has it been effective whatsoever? He put it on Cena here and then two minutes later Cena was walking around without any problems at all. Then Cena put his STF on Batista and a few minutes later Batista was up and giving Cena a powerbomb. These main events are starting to feel as realistic as the WWE video games.


Too early for flapjacks?

– The sole saving grace of Matt Striker on this show was his reaction to the table spot…


Is it just me or is Jerry Lawler angry at Matt Striker even here?

– Another l’il cut, another blood stoppage. Never mind the fact that Cena made his opponent pass out and the referee was powerless to halt the match, or even call for medical help for a potentially brain-damaged Batista. Not to mention the later spot involving attempted vehicular homicide. Remember kids, it is alright to hit people with a car so long as there is no blood involved! Wouldn’t want to show the ramifications of violence so children learn a valuable lesson, right?

Guard: [laughs] There’s no need to murmur, ma’am. Here at Itchy and Scratchy Land we’re just as concerned about violence as you are. That’s why we’re always careful to show the consequences of deadly mayhem so that we may educate as well as horrify.

Marge: *When* do you show the consequences? On TV that mouse pulled out that cat’s lungs and played them like a bagpipe, but in the next scene the cat was breathing comfortably.

Guard: Just like in real life.

– Yes, the car spot was stupid. Don’t forget the balcony spot, however, which was almost as contrived. Perhaps it might have been better had the director chosen a camera angle that did not include the group of mooks standing underneath the balcony waiting to catch Dave. Likewise, perhaps the car spot might not have looked so hokey had they been able to get a better camera angle rather than the straight-on shot that made it obvious Cena had moved (in fact, you can still see him move if you look closely enough). If they could not get better shots, why even bother? The tragic irony of this show’s connotations to Owen Hart having died doing a needless stunt that had nothing to do with wrestling has been lost yet again. Hell, they have Bret Hart back now and they still decide to do superfluous car-related stunts despite his negative history with such matters. A brief flashback to 10 January 2000 courtesy of the Wrestling Observer:

“It wasn’t Bret Hart driving the monster truck nor was Sid in the car that was being run over, although both were the original plan. Hart was told what part of the car to drive over and where Sid would be in the car so as to not drive over him. Hart refused saying he wasn’t an experienced stunt driver. There was no problem with his decision and he was apologized to for being asked.”

I suppose that it is a little bit different nowadays when the star of a bunch of shitty action movies is taking on the wannabe star of future shitty action movies. Such a situation reminds me of the South Park wrestling episode, in particular given how this match began with both men having a conversation. What followed was a big, dumb, shitty action movie, the finale to the generic event, marketed on a generic poster of an angry guy running, with all the sound and fury contained within signifying absolutely nothing. [5]

All the best in your future endeavours, Dave…

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