The SmarK RAW Rant – 07.01.13
Happy Canada Day!
I finally watched the rest of the NJPW Dominion PPV this weekend, having only watched the Tanahashi-Devitt match previously, and my GOD was that a great show. Tanahashi was great as usual, but even he only had like the third-best match of the show. I found it kind of personally sad how beaten-down as fans we’ve become when I’m watching a match where it’s totally logical that up-and-coming heel Prince Devitt is in a situation where he could really use a win over Tanahashi to get to the next level, and all I can think about is the WWE model where he’ll get some offense and then lose in the end because he’s small and Tanahashi is bigger. But no, Tanahashi laid down for the BULLETCLUB~! with Devitt doing a smarmy brat heel the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1998 Chris Jericho, and it was pretty great. Only **** great because it was a bit of a style clash, but still great. But let’s talk about Goto v. Shibata, which gave me the same sense of thrills and giddiness that I last had watching Cena v. Lesnar, probably because it was the same type of match, but BETTER. You know how WWE matches have tended to become overly choreographed and safe and predictable? This was the EXACT opposite of that. These guys went out there and did everything, to use an old wrestling term we don’t get much of these days, WITH AUTHORITY. It wasn’t really MMA-style because they were doing dropkicks and sleepers and stuff, but when Shibata would dropkick Goto, he would do it HARD. But safely. But I had so many involuntary cringes and moments where I was yelling out “OOOOOH MAN!” that it felt like watching a really exciting action movie packed into a 13 minute wrestling match. It was just awesome, an easy ***** match for me and probably the match of the year so far. Even with the language barrier, I would absolutely recommend without hesitation checking out New Japan’s PPV shows, because they’ve just been blowing away everything on American TV this year.
Also this weekend, I watched The Rise and Fall of WCW on Netflix because it was 90 minutes and I couldn’t sleep. It was interesting to see them finally give Crockett some credit 10 years after destroying WCW, although I felt like they could have delved much deeper into the causes of the “fall” and less on the “rise” portion. Yeah, they talked a bit about Kiss and harped on the Outsiders’ contracts, but this was begging for a patented WWE hatchet job with snarky editing and circus music, and it was actually mostly respectful and pretty bland. Plus they totally skipped over important stuff like the Radicalz (for obvious reasons) which actually had a huge impact on the promotion’s eventual demise. It was pleasant enough and nice to hear Flair and Dusty reminiscing about the good old days, but there’s better chronicles of what went wrong out there.
On with the show…
For those who care about this sort of thing, The Score is now Sportsnet 360 in Canada due to yet another huge media conglomerate buying more channels they already have. I know it happens pretty frequently in the US too, but up here there are literally three groups that own EVERYTHING on TV. It’s pretty brutal.
Live from somewhere that Michael Cole doesn’t want to mention. Also, there’s a new intro. Have they even been doing intros lately?
Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler
Daniel Bryan joins us to start, and he wants to be WWE champion. However, so does Sheamus, and they go back and forth with some comedy before Randy Orton also interrupts. And then Kane for more comedy, and Christian wants ONE MORE MATCH, and finally CM Punk is out because he didn’t want to be predictable and come out for this sort of thing, and then does so anyway. Finally Orton just hits Kane with an RKO to end the segment. This was certainly long.
We get videos about Buddy Rogers and Lou Thesz to celebrate the histories of the WWE and World titles, although it does highlight that Thesz isn’t actually in the WWE Hall of Fame. To pay tribute to the belts tonight for some reason, we’re getting the millionth John Cena v. Alberto Del Rio match as a main event. For the purposes of this show, the World title is apparently representing the lineage of the NWA World title, even though it actually does not.
The Shield v. Christian & The Usos
Here comes the 50/50 booking. Rollins gets caught in the Uso corner for a bit, but Ambrose takes over on Christian after a cheapshot. The Shield bails, however, and the faces hit them with triple dives as we take a break. Back with an Uso getting the heat, although there’s not really much actual heat. Reigns with a backdrop suplex for two as the announcers start drifting away from the match. Ambrose eats a superkick after getting too cocky, and it’s hot tag Christian. Missile dropkick on Rollins gets two. Christian stops to stare down Ambrose, and Rollins hits him with an enzuigiri before Christian comes back with an inverted DDT on Ambrose for two. Everyone else brawls out, leaving Rollins to roll up Christian and get their win back at 10:00. This was OK. **
Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan tries to mend fences with Kane by getting him a rematch with Orton. With Bryan as guest referee.
Dolph Ziggler v. Jinder Mahal
Well at least this isn’t a rematch from Smackdown. Ziggler shows off for a bit, but misses a dropkick and Jinder gets two. Butterfly suplex gets two. He stomps away, but misses a charge and Ziggler gets two. The bored crowd starts chanting for the announcers. Ziggler hits the Zig Zag for the pin at 2:23. So yeah, this sucked and I still don’t know if Ziggler is supposed to be a heel or a babyface or what his deal is. ½*
More title history, with Bruno Sammartino and Harley Race featured.
Meanwhile, HHH gives Vickie advice on how to deal with the McMahons: Listen to everything they say, and then do what he says.
Randy Orton v. Kane
I’m shocked they would name Bryan the guest referee without even consulting a Twitter or WWE App poll first. They slug it out in the corner and Kane gets the low dropkick for two. Orton comes back with the Thesz Press and pounds away as the crowd is still dead and this is going nowhere. This show is gonna be BRUTAL by the third hour, I can just feel it. Kane with a suplex and he drops elbows as the crowd is just dead silent, not reacting to anything. Orton slugs away in the corner, but shoves Bryan and gets disqualified at 4:45. Kane is upset at this for some reason, and Bryan restarts the match to placate him. So Orton dropkicks him out of the ring and we take a break. Back with a Kane chinlock, and he goes up and gets caught with a dropkick. Orton comes back with a powerslam and draping DDT, but Kane escapes and goes for the chokeslam. Orton reverses to the backbreaker and gets the DDT this time, then has to basically beg the crowd to cheer for the RKO. Kane boots him down, however, and Bryan fast-counts for Kane at 13:00. Despite winning the match TWICE, Kane is still upset with Bryan and threatens a chokeslam before leaving instead. Referee shenanigans aside, this was every Orton-Kane match we’ve ever seen. **
Meanwhile, Punk lets Heyman know that he’ll handle the Primetime Players by himself, and Curtis Axel just has to stand on the apron and watch. At this point a sign in the crowd informs us that we’re in Sioux City, Iowa.
Next batch of champions: Bob Backlund and Dusty Rhodes. And do you know why these guys were special? Because they didn’t do fucking meaningless non-title champion v. champion matches on a free TV show for no reason.
Fandango v. Sheamus
We get a bit of a dance-off to start and Sheamus gets a suplex for two, but Fandango elbows him down for two. Sheamus comes back with a kneelift as the commentary drifts to JBL mocking Verne Gagne for stiffing Lawler on the SuperClash payoff. Sheamus beats on him outside, but Fandango comes back with a head kick for two and grabs a neck hold. That just goes ON and ON before Sheamus comes back with the forearms on the apron. And Fandango of course runs away at 6:10 because they just love that finish for some reason. What the point of this was, I dunno. ½*
The Miz v. Ryback
Ryback pounds Miz down with various punches and kicks, as I’m far more intrigued by what Cole has on his iPad every time they cut to the angle behind the desk. Is that the script? Have they actually upgraded to the 21st century? It would even make sense because then Vince could literally do rewrites as the show was going on and push them to the script app. Miz goes to work on the knee and Ryback wants the match stopped, so the ref does so at 5:24. What the FUCK is going on with the finishes on this show? And so the Miz beats RYBACK?
Next pairing: Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. Well that’s a natural duo. To this day I still find it funny that they’re so inexorably tied together in people’s minds even though they didn’t have their first match until nearly 20 years into their careers.
Mark Henry joins us to let us know that he’s going to beat up John Cena and win the title. We can only hope.
Meanwhile, Vince McMahon stops by to give his opinions to Vickie, and echoes my sentiments: They’re throwing away money by putting the champion v. champion match on TV instead of PPV. OK, but why SAY THAT on TV? Aren’t you just burying your own product again? And what’s with the huge scar on Vince’s neck? Yikes.
CM Punk & Curtis Axel v. The Primetime Players
Axel tags himself in, thus violating the entire premise of the buildup, and beats on Young. He adds a dropkick on Titus, but gets caught in the Primetime corner and double-teamed. I think I can literally see 500,000 people across the country tuning out as we speak. Titus goes to the abdominal stretch and slams Axel, but he fights out and makes the hot tag to Punk, whom the crowd is REALLY thankful to see. Flying elbow for Young sets up the GTS, but Axel tags himself in and takes the pin at 6:10. This would make you think Punk is facing Axel at the PPV, but of course they have nothing to do with each other at that show. *1/2
Next champions: Steve Austin and Sting. I would have gone with Goldberg there, but maybe we’re not allowed to acknowledge him because of Ryback? I dunno, WWE politics are so confusing sometimes.
Kaitlyn v. Alicia Fox
Kaitlyn pounds her down and gets two, but Fox gets a dropkick for two. Why is Alicia even employed at this point? She’s never on TV and serves no purpose since the division can only support up to four people at a time anyway. Kaitlyn spears her for the pin at 1:50. AJ comes out to cut another catty promo afterwards, giving us a funny visual with AJ being so small that the belt won’t fit her even on the tightest setting. AJ gives us a “hilarious” doctored photo of Kaitlyn. If you want better ones, do a Google image search for “Celeste Bonin”.
Meanwhile, it’s Stephanie’s turn to annoy Vickie, and gives us the exciting news that next week’s main event will be a JOB EVALUATION for Vickie. Thrilling! ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN ON RAW! Except a good show three weeks in a row, apparently. And Stephanie notes that Vickie might be promoted to full GM of RAW. Hasn’t she been running the show as “managing supervisor” for close to a year now? What exactly would a “promotion” to GM enable her to do…you know what, my brain is already breaking from all the McMahons, never mind.
Cody Rhodes v. Antonio Cesaro
Oh god, this is gonna be flaming ratings death. Cesaro gets a suplex, but Cody rolls him up for two. Another pinfall attempt in the corner gets two, and Cody bails, then comes back in with a backslide that Cesaro turns into the NEUTRALIZER at 2:20. Wow, Cody has fallen so far that he’s doing jobs for Cesaro. Even Sandow seems to realize that he’s hitched to the wrong train at this point. *
Of course, it wouldn’t be a celebration of legendary champions unless HHH was featured. Just ask him. Also, Booker T.
We get a lengthy backstage segment to plug the Divas show, which makes for easy FFWD material.
Alberto Del Rio v. John Cena
I’m sure this will be fine but at this point who gives a shit? They’ve wrestled hundreds of times, many of which were already on PPV, and this means nothing and builds to nothing. They trade takedowns and Del Rio takes over, and gets a double axehandle for two. We take a break and return with Del Rio holding a chinlock, but Cena mounts a brief comeback before ADR hits the backstabber for two. Cena RISES ABOVE MEXICO with the five knuckle shuffle, but ADR hits a german suplex for two. Cena with a belly to belly for two. He goes up and gets caught with the enzuigiri for two. Another one misses and they trade finisher attempts before Del Rio gets a backbreaker for two. He hangs Cena in the Tree of Woe, but Cena RISES ABOVE GRAVITY and powers himself to the top for a flying bodypress that gets two. Another finisher reversal series sees Cena gets the STF, but here comes Mark Henry. Del Rio rolls him up for two and the superkick gets two, but now Ziggler runs in, and Cena uses the distraction to hit the FU at 16:48. Of course in the one match on the show where a fuck finish would be appropriate, they have Cena get the clean win on the World champion. ***
And we close with a Wyatt Family promo video. That probably bodes well for their push.
Kind of wish I had reviewed NJPW Dominion instead.
Tags: alberto del rio, cm punk, Dolph Ziggler, john cena, Mark Henry, monday night raw, money in the bank, Raw, SmarK Rants