Monday Morning Backlash on WWE Bragging Rights Report Card with John Cena a champion, Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton, Undertaker, Raw vs. Smackdown

I ended up seeing the Pay Per View after all, and so we get the Report Card after all. Let’s get started on the WWE Bragging Rights Report Card!

Daniel Bryan – A+. He opened the show with an excellent match again and there is little question, given the structure of the finish, that he called a lot of this. What was really impressive to me, though, was how he’s changed his style to add interesting high spots like the knee off the apron as a concession to WWE style that pops the crowd without changing who he is as a worker.

Dolph Ziggler – A. I’ve been saying for years that he’s the best of the new, WWE trained guys and while Sheamus has proven that wrong, the man Mark Allen refers to as the gatekeeper of the Intercontinental title continues to show he’s better than Jack Swagger with yet another top notch match. He’s been great against Rey, Bryan and Morrison and very good with Kofi. And, thanks to Vickie, he’s over. The WWE is looking for stars and needs to not overlook Dolph.

Daniel Bryan defeats Dolph Ziggler (****). This was simply an excellent fast-paced opener based on counter-wrestling and Daniel having an answer for Ziggler’s attempted cheating through superior ability. It wasn’t fancy in story, but it was smart, fast-paced, over with the crowd, and featured good selling with interesting spots. This was the highlight of the night and, if anything, I’m underrating it.

Cody Rhodes – B. I usually rate tag teams together, but the disparity between partners in both groups makes that unfair here. Cody looked good, cutting a good promo then working well against both Cena and Otunga. He didn’t look like a star here thanks mostly to Cena being so dominant, but he still didn’t look bad.

Drew McIntyre – C-. Drew looked bad. While his promo was good, he spent the match looking lost. He’s not a bad worker, so the disconnect must be coming from somewhere. I think it’s time for him to go away and get a nice gimmick change.

David Otunga – D. He got smacked around a bit and that was it. His role was to look bad so Cena can look good, sure, but it’s just sad how little the WWE trusts him to do. We’ll tackle Cena during the main event.

John Cena and David Otunga defeat Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes to become the Unified Tag Champions (*). This match was bad. I thought we were past the days of feeding up and comers to the main event to get them over. Cena has a story and while being tag champion with Nexus is interesting, Cena as a one man demolition squad is not.

Goldust – B. Goldust is still, advanced age or not, a very good worker and showed that here, with excellent storytelling, really working well with Askana.

Ted Dibiase – C. Not terrible, but it’s clear this gimmick is not a natural fit for him. The WWE needs to stop trying to force things and let guys have the creative freedom to find their place. Besides, Ted is a pretty natural face and should be booked as such. Not everyone can get reactions as emotional as this one, regardless of the booking:

Ted Dibiase defeats Goldust (**). The distraction from the girls and their issues was expected, as was the Dibiase win with Goldust getting his heat back afterward, so the only question was how do we get where we’re going and, well, with a very basic match. These guys are good enough to keep it solid, but they mostly filled time before the finish. The feud will continue.

I honestly missed the Divas match, so we’ll just say LayCool won and move on.

Undertaker – A-. Taker looks terrible, old and slow. So, why the high grade? He lost here, which is the right thing given how poor he’s looked. That keeps the title on Kane, but allows Taker more time to heal. Also, his promo with Brock after UFC is the biggest thing to happen this weekend. Now, he can face Brock at Wrestlemania if Brock agrees or, if Brock doesn’t, then there’s Wade Barrett waiting.

Kane – F. Kane had a bad match, then he looked ridiculously weak on the finish, needing Nexus to interfere in a callback to the Taker-Yokozuna Casket Match so many years back.

Kane defeats Undertaker in a Casket Match with the help of Nexus without Cena and Barrett (Dud). A terrible, slow, plodding match with a terrible finish that makes no sense. Nexus needs a reason to have made an enemy of Undertaker or this is just ridiculous.

For the Bragging Rights match, we’ll go order of elimination.

Santino Marella (Raw) – F. He was first eliminated and he wasn’t funny, as usual. I guess Raw needs a comedy guy, I just wish their comedy guy was kept out of major matches and maybe, just maybe, funny.

Kofi Kingston (Smackdown) – N/A. He was eliminated almost immediately, which is absurd since he’s really, really good. Unless they’re hiding an injury, does anyone have any explanation for this one? I guess they wanted Sheamus to look dangerous…

Jack Swagger (Smackdown) – C. He’s an okay worker, but mini-Kurt Angle isn’t working due to his lack of skill and intensity. The title run was a mistake and WWE seems to finally be acknowledging it.

Tyler Reks (Smackdown) – F. He was in the ring quite a bit and looked as bad as I remember. I can’t believe he got an elimination.

Big Show (Smackdown) – D. He’s usually death to mid-carders but was very ineffective here for the entire match, then got eliminated in a double count out. That’s not horrible if, like Sheamus, you get to be dominant first, but when you’ve done nothing and are captain, it’s weak. At least he’s probably next in line to face Kane. Oh… crap.

Sheamus (Raw) – B-. I understand he’s just being booked over everyone, and he’d be crazy to complain, but something’s got to give at some point. He got rid of Reks and Kofi, then managed to fight the dominant giant to a stalemate and got rid of him. That’s three men gone for Sheamus. Someone else, notably Ezekiel Jackson, could have used the rub for doing at least one of those things.

R-Truth (Raw) – C. He didn’t blow anything, mostly because he wasn’t in much. He was flippy and effective enough to pass before doing a fine sell in his loss to Edge.

John Morrison (Raw) – A-. I was happy with Morrison here who was a glue guy in holding the match together and managed to hit enough crowd pleasing offense to keep things interesting. Defeating a former champion, even if it’s just Swagger, makes tonight highly successful for Morrison.

Alberto Del Rio (Smackdown) – B. He wasn’t in much, but his attacks on Rey drew the best heat of the match and he’s really carrying himself like a star in the ring. I’m impressed by Del Rio.

CM Punk (Raw) – B-. The other glue guy from the Raw side, he didn’t get the pins or flashiness that Morrison did, but got a good promo earlier and a huge chant from the crowd. Still, something in ring would be nice from one of the WWE’s most consistent performers.

Ezekiel Jackson (Raw) – C. For a guy coming off a big injury, he wasn’t terrible given that he’s green as can be anyway. So, yeah, I’m grading him based off of this being his comeback and how he’s progressing. He didn’t look lost; I was satisfied.

The Miz (Raw) – D. He wasn’t in much, leading the viewer to think he’d be effective when he was, but then he wasn’t all that impressive when he came in, utilizing a lot of Alex Riley and not seeming to be in Rey Mysterio’s class.

Rey Mysterio (Smackdown) – D. Rey got the false injury and comeback here, but the issue is when he came back he looked way too dominant. He’s a tiny guy with a hurt arm! Would it kill him to sell and look more in danger than he did? As is he got to survive and got a big return pop without giving anything back, except a minor rub to Del Rio, for whom he’s done more in the past.

Edge (Smackdown) – B-. For the time being, adjust your mental perception of Edge to that of John Cena or Randy Orton because that’s who Edge is being treated like on Smackdown. WWE really wants him to be a face. I’m not buying it yet, but they may yet win me over with sheer persistence.

Team Smackdown defeats Team Raw with Edge and Rey Mysterio surviving (***). This was solid, if not great. Smackdown looks dominant, which WWE thinks they need right now, but Edge and Rey looked a bit too strong, with Punk and especially Miz a bit weak.

Wade Barrett – C+. His interview early in the night telegraphed the finish, and, during the match, he showed that he isn’t there yet as a top guy, which we knew, but he’s in the situation, so he will be judged on the test given.

Randy Orton – B-. He looks like a star and got a big pop to end the show for his RKO, but he really has to improve in carrying talent below him, or, at the very least, the WWE should stop booking him so he has to carry subpar talent. This is why it’s such a shame Jericho is gone; Chris calling Orton out for being a hypocrite, soaking in cheers when he’s a maniac, would have caused a great feud and helped Orton immensely in the ring.

John Cena – C. His tag title dismantling was terrible and lowers his score, but his role in the main was downright intriguing (if only they didn’t foreshadow it so heavily). Getting rid of Nexus so they couldn’t get Barrett disqualified, then doing the deed and causing the DQ himself is great booking, especially with the way Cena sold it.

Randy Orton defeats Wade Barrett via Disqualification from Cena interference (**). This was solid, if predictable. Wade isn’t very good yet, but he’s solid, and Orton is quite good, but couldn’t make Barrett seem in his league. I am curious to see how Cena reacts to Orton’s RKO on Raw, so the match did its job.

WWE Bragging Rights Grade: C-. This show was a great beginning and then a lot of nothing valuable. Sure, we got an interesting finish to the main event, but the resolution to that is on free-TV. This PPV had TNA syndrome where they gave us a lot of unsatisfying continuations to stories. When people pay for PPVs, they expect resolutions. The opener was great, but no matter how great, not worth the money alone for a show that took care of no actual issues. WWE wants to bill itself as entertainment, well, in entertainment, stories have a beginning, middle and end. If the WWE wants people to buy these, they might want to make the beginning and middle compelling on free TV, then charge for the end!

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