Well, let’s round off the week that the WWE managed to screw up the Royal Rumble and drive CM Punk away from the company. We replay the happenings of RAW, the upshot being that the Shield and the Wyatts are finally going to go at it. The question we ask ourselves: how will the WWE ruin it?
Ziggler’s Back…To Losing To Everyone
The show kicks off with Dolph Ziggler, competing in an Elimination Chamber qualifying match. His opponent is Antonio Cesaro, and if there’s only one championship (even if Orton insists on carrying two belts), then aren’t there more high-profile players who could earn one of the three remaining spots in the single Chamber match?
Cesaro starts out with a running dropkick, getting two right off the bat. The two trade various pins for a minute before Dolph hits the Fameasser and Cesaro kicks out of the pin before heading to the outside. Ziggler follows in hot pursuit, throwing him back into the ring, but Cesaro manages to catch him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to halt the momentum. Double-underhook suplex gets Cesaro a near-fall, but Ziggler rallies for a moment before he gets clotheslined out of the ring.
Cesaro follows Ziggler out of the ring, dropping him onto the barricade. Dolph struggles to beat the count, but just rolls back in at nine. Sleeper by Cesaro, bringing Ziggler down to the mat as a ‘We, The People’ chant starts. Stay classy, WWE Universe. Ziggler fights out of the sleeper, but misses a stinger splash to the corner. Cesaro goes to the second rope, superplexing Ziggler from the apron into the ring; that looked damned impressive.
Chinlock now applied to Ziggler, then a sleeper. Dolph hits a jawbreaker to force his way out of the sleeper, following it up with a dropkick for the two-count. A tilt-a-whirl attempt from Cesaro is beautifully countered by Ziggler into a sleeper, which in itself is countered into a gutwrench. Both men struggle to their feet, with Cesaro nearly hitting his uppercut, but Ziggler turns into a DDT for the two-count. A Zig-Zag fails as Cesaro grabs the ropes, and it’s CESARO FUCKING SWING TIME. Neutraliser hits and Mr Antonio Cesaro is going to the Elimination Chamber.
Those two guys can put on a good match, and the result took me a little by surprise. Still, if this could be part of Cesaro’s rise, then it’s about time. 2.5 Stars.
Back from break, the Shield make their way through the crowd to the ring. At least Rollins didn’t crash and burn over the barricade this time. We show some of the highlights of Roman’s Rumble run, and the guy did look like an absolute beast. Ambrose grabs the mic, not dwelling on the Rumble, but rather what went down on Monday. Tension’s teased as the Shield still don’t get why a team shouldn’t go after singles titles. Ambrose and Reigns get into each other’s faces, and Rollins breaks it up like he’s Dean and Roman’s child and sick of them arguing all the time (best sitcom ever). Rollins comes to the point, namely that the Wyatts are dickheads. He also gets in a lovely little snark about Ambrose never defending his belt. The Shield are officially feuding with the Wyatts, and that’s what we’ve always wanted.
Vickie shows up, about to Teddy Long this shit, but this brings out Triple H, because it sounded like an entertaining idea and therefore must be exterminated.
Triple H empathises with the Shield, but says it’s water under the bridge. Man, remember when Triple H would have burned down an orphanage if it meant sorta annoying someone he kind of didn’t like? Hunter plays the ‘my word is law’ card, and that makes Roman get in his face, and that makes the crowd chant Reigns’ name, so I guess he’ll be wished the best of luck in his future endeavours in few weeks. Triple H says he sees there’s no talking these guys out of it, so he makes the match. So…will the Shield be faces? Will the Authority join with the Wyatts to punish them for their upstart behaviour? Will this match be canned before we get to the PPV?
Vince Knows What We Want, And It’s This Same Match Again And Again
Man, this storied rivalry again. And with R-Truth on commentary? I guess we’re building up the WrestleMania feuds early this year. Headlock to Woods; he shoots off Fandango and gets hit with a shoulder block. Fandango runs the ropes and cartwheels out of a monkey-flip before getting hit with a dropkick. Xavier sweeps the legs of Fandango, but whatever wheelbarrow manoeuver he was going for gets turned into a German suplex. Sleeper applied, and Xavier’s tossed into a corner, managing to slam Fandango face-first off the canvas on the rebound.
Woods rallies with some strikes and a front dropkick before sentonning out of the ring onto Fandango. Summer Rae grabs and snap’s Emma’s sign, and Emma holds up a new one. 1) That sign was extremely brittle. 2) Emma is so aware of how irritating she is that she was actually prepared for someone to snap and break her sign. I still have no idea who that woman is. Xavier gets caught on the top ropes, allowing Fandango to sit-out suplex him for the win.
It’s probably the repetitive tone these matches have taken, but I was unamused. I also neither know nor care who Emma is or why I should yet. I’d simply add that by waving a hashtag sign to get attention, she is more or less the entire WWE’s marketing strategy in a single living entity. Can Xavier claim she distracted him and feud with her, thereby ending this wheelspin and giving her a reason to be around? 1.5 Stars.
Fandango goes to attack Woods after the match, because a victory and a paycheck just aren’t enough for him. R-Truth stops him and hits the suplex stunner. So…look forward to him fighting Fandango on RAW. Then four of the six dancers who were there dance. Because…
Way To Break Up That Pin, Titus
It’s the Prime Time Players vs. Goldberfect, and I have to admit that Ryback’s tweet in the wake of Punk’s departure did make me laugh. I took a shower afterwards, but still laughed. Young and Axel start off with some chain wrestling, and I’m glad Young didn’t get some sort of massive push in the face of his coming out just so the WWE could make a big thing about how awesome they are with gay people and come up with some unfortunate hashtags. Axel drives Young into the corner, tagging in Ryback. Young tries to fight him off, but Ryback chucks him right out of the ring. Darren clocks Axel on the outside, but Ryback meathooks him once he comes back into the ring. Axel’s tagged in, hits his facebuster and gets the pin.
Well, that was quick. Thought they’d at least play to Vince’s fetish of two ripped dudes grappling, but Titus didn’t even get a tag. 1.5 Stars.
Aw, Titus looks really bummed out, and that face actually made me feel a little sad. Oh, and Young’s bleeding, which is going to make this look way more dickish than it should. Darren pleads to Titus on the mic, and that blood is really gushing. Young says that they’re family, which seems like a racist assumption to make. Titus says that it wasn’t until he became a partner of Darren Young’s that he was thought of as a loser. Well, I guess during that whole Nexus thing he was still technically partnered with Darren Young… Titus then says ‘the only back that we getting rid of is the dead weight of Darren Young on my back’. He actually said that. Someone actually wrote that sentence for him to say. I’m going to think of that whenever I think of Titus. Titus then kicks the shit out of Young, probably because he asked Titus what the hell that meant. Fairly long beatdown, and there’s a new feud in the house.
Jake Roberts will be going into the Hall of Fame, which is a great place for him to arrive in after his long and often unfortunate road. DDP does some damn good work.
Promo for Alexander Rusev, and I don’t know who that blonde girl with him is, but if she comes with him, then I say welcome to SmackDown, Alexander.
We Were All Watching This To See The Latest Injury
It’s Christian against Swagger with the last spot in the Chamber at stake. We replay Coulter slapping Swagger, which along with Jack’s jobber entrance doesn’t make it seem like he’s a strong prospect here. Cole, playing the role of the guy who doesn’t know or understand anything, asks why Coulter would slap Swagger, and JBL, apparently entirely sick of Michael’s shit, goes to bring Zeb onto commentary instead.
Swagger uses his power just to press-slam Christian out of the ring, and Christian’s probably dead. Or at least injured again. Clothesline against the barricade by Swagger, then he brings Christian back into the ring, slapping on a waistlock. Christian’s tossed into the corner, but slaps Swagger to escape, before getting knocked down and Swagger Bombed. Jack stomps on Christian, and then beats him down in the corner. Superplex attempt, but Christian fights out of it, hitting a tornado DDT.
Christian trips Swagger up on the ropes before slapping him and hitting a missile dropkick. Back elbow from the second rope, but Swagger hits a gutwrench powerbomb for two, getting pissed over the count. Christian gets the boots up for the Swagger Bomb, rolling him up for two. Killswitch attempt is turned into a back suplex that Christian rolls out of, but the Patriot Lock is locked in. Christian rolls Swagger up for two, and then dodges a shoulder-charge, making Swagger blast the turnbuckle. Christian goes up, knocks Swagger down, hits the Frog Splash and gets the win.
Fair match. Seems like Christian entering the Elimination Chamber is a good way to film a suicide, but whatever. Pretty face-heavy Chamber this year. 2 Stars.
Christian’s walking around backstage, and Renee Young welcomes him back. Christian says he earned his spot in the Elimination Chamber, saying that his window of opportunity is starting to close. Yep. ‘Starting’. He says he’ll be the most dangerous Christian he’s ever been, and I’m betting right now that we’ll just not notice any difference.
Can We Give Sandow Another Chocolate Briefcase?
Looks like it’s Sandow vs. Kofi as we’re doing the ‘guy tries to get out of a rut’ story. Waistlock by Kofi, but Sandow jackknifes him and hits the Russian leg sweep. Kofi avoids a charge in the corner, but Sandow hits the knee to the stomach, keeping on him. Abdominal stretch to Kingston, but he hip-tosses his way out of it. Sunset flip from Sandow; Kofi rolls through and knees him in the face. Kingston fires up, knocking Sandow around before Damien ducks the flying crossbody.
Kofi comes back, but misses the Trouble in Paradise. Sandow attempts the Terminus, but Kingston pins him with the SOS.
Quick match, but pretty good with what was there. I guess at least Sandow’s going nowhere because he’s losing. As opposed to, you know, Kofi’s thing. 2 Stars.
Cole is interviewing Triple H, and I swear neither of them are wearing pants for this. The Rhodeses are getting steel cage match for the titles against the New Age Outlaws: I’ll watch that.
Goldust: At Ringside To Fool Road Dogg Into Thinking He’s Still In The Attitude Era
The former champs and the New Age Outlaws show up to the ring, with Road Dogg doing his spiel that no amount of heel antics will stop the audience going along with (and nor should they). Road Dogg and Cody lock up, and Cody clotheslines Road Dogg before ducking out of the ring. They lock up again, with Road Dogg kicking Cody and knocking him around the corners before hanging Rhodes’ injured arm up on the ropes. Road Dogg keeps working the arm, driving it into the turnbuckles and hitting kicks.
Armlock applied, but Cody nearly rolls Road Dogg up out of the corner before both men collide. Clotheslines to Road Dogg before Cody hits the high knee, the Rhodes Uppercut and the Hardcore Holly Dickshot (I’ve said ‘dick’ a few times in this article…) Billy Gunn tries to get himself some after Cody hits the springboard dropkick, clotheslining Goldust on the outside. Cody hits the Disaster Kick to Billy, nearly gets rolled up but hits the Disaster Kick to Road Dogg for the pin.
That was a good match, especially considering Road Dogg’s age. Obviously, he’s nothing like the resurrection machine that Goldust is, but it was pretty good. I also like it when people go down to moves other than straight finishers: element of unpredictability. 2.5 Stars.
Brawl breaks out between the four men as the Rhodeses send the New Age Outlaws packing. Looks like it could be a hot-blooded cage match this coming week.
With CM Punk Gone, The Shield Are Fighting Everyone Else They Have Problems With. So, Everyone Else.
The Shield are already in the ring, and here comes Sheamus. Man, the crowd sound happy to see him. What’s wrong with them? Mysterio’s up next, and unfortunately his heel reaction has worn off. That was the greatest moment of the whole pay-per-view for me: the audience were so pissed off they turned Rey Mysterio heel. And here’s Daniel Bryan, with the crowd reaction that only people who don’t work in Creative can hear.
The bell rings, and it’s Rollins and Sheamus to start it all off. Headlock takeover by Sheamus, followed by a hard shoulder-block. Tag into Reigns, and the two powerhouses tie-up. Harder shoulder-block to Sheamus, and Roman works him over in the corner. Hip toss attempt is blocked by Sheamus, and he clotheslines and neckbreakers Reigns. Roman regains control, tagging in Ambrose, who goes on the offence. Is that a ‘let’s go, Sheamus’ chant? The hell are we tonight? Clubbing blow to the back of Ambrose, and Sheamus hangs him on the top rope before kicking him and then hitting the forearms to the bare chest. He then knocks the other two Shield members off the apron, firmly in control.
The Shield have a powwow on the outside, and Sheamus does the ‘Yes’ chant, although thankfully does not use his middle fingers, and tags in Bryan. Ambrose wants himself some, but it’ll be Rollins getting the first helping of kicks to the face. Seth backs Bryan into the corner, but he fires up, knocking Rollins right over with a knee to the midsection. Surfboard is applied to Rollins, and then Bryan pulls his head right back before continuing the assault. Tag to Mysterio, but Rollins fights back before running into a kick and eating a hurricanrana and a headscissors. Ambrose is tagged in and counters a headscissors into a facebuster, tagging in Reigns, who just flattens Mysterio, sending him out of the ring. Roman throws Mysterio back into the ring, keeping him grounded as he tags in Rollins.
Rollins talks trash, choking Mysterio on the ropes and dropping a knee. Super back suplex attempt, but Rey fights out of it, headscissoring Rollins into the turnbuckle and tagging in Bryan. Bryan’s in strong, kicking the tagged-in Reigns around and zipping around the ring. Reigns ducks a kick, but gets low-bridged out of the ring so Bryan can dive on him, before Bryan races across the ring to dive out on Ambrose. White Noise to Rollins from Sheamus; Superman Punch to Sheamus; missile dropkick to Reigns by Bryan. Bryan locks in the Yes Lock, but Ambrose breaks it up before attacking Sheamus and eating a Brogue Kick. Mysterio gets tagged in, hitting a seated senton on Reigns and putting him in position for a 619. He stops to dropkick Rollins, however, before Bryan leaps onto him. Rey slides out of a powerbomb attempt, setting Reigns up for the 619 again, but eats a spear.
Exciting match, and a great spur for the Shield as they head towards the Wyatts. I’ll give it 3 Stars.
It’s been a fair show. Some of the matches were extremely brief, and others were repeats of things we’ve seen a few times before. I’ve also no idea why they’re giving out Elimination Chamber spots like they’re WCW tickets, but as long as I get the Wyatts and the Shield in a match with nobody screwing it up with swerves or Authority appearances ‘because it’s what the audience wants to see’, then I’ll take a certain level of really uninspired programming. Overall, the show gets a six.
Tags: alexander rusev, Antonio Cesaro, Billy Gunn, Cameron, christian, Cody Rhodes, Curtis Axel, Damien Sandow, Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, DDP, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Elimination Chamber, emma, Fandango, Funkadactyls, Goldberfect, goldust, jack swagger, Jake Roberts, Kofi Kingston, Michael Cole, naomi, New Age Outlaws, Prime Time Players, R-Truth, Real Americans, rey mysterio, road dogg, Roman Reigns, ryback, Rybaxel, seth rollins, sheamus, Smackdown, Summer Rae, The Shield, titus o'neill, triple h, WWE, xavier woods, Zeb Coulter