The Weekly Wrestling Wrap-Up #11
WWE is heading in to Money in the Bank, and has decided to muddy the waters of just who is involved with what. Meanwhile, Total Nonstop Action has Bound for Glory on the mind, but that doesn’t mean that Destination X isn’t looming. And Ring of Honor … well, Best in the World apparently provides quite the hangover. Cue the alliteration!
This column is solely for reporting and analysis of the storylines that professional wrestling companies present via their televised product. There will be no discussion of news that arises from unaired YouTube clips, smart phone app segments, or off-screen generated reporting. Due to time constraints and the writer’s own personal limitations, this week will consist solely of what was available via free and paid online sources, although there will be mention of anything that was aired on television that didn’t make it to an online format.
WWE and World Heavyweight Championships: Vickie Guerrero opened the show to announce that Alberto Del Rio would be taking on John Cena on Monday Night RAW. RAW had vignettes about the great champions of the past, with both championships highlighted. The videos had Buddy Rodgers, Lou Thesz, Bruno Sammartino, Harley Race, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and others that weren’t mentioned or aired online (Steve Austin and Sting at least got mentions). According to reports, Dolph Ziggler had a win against Jinder Mahal and managed to counteract an attack from 3MB. Apparently, a speech from Mark Henry about how he was going to beat John Cena at Money in the Bank wasn’t worth showing online. The main event match got a true main event introduction, and Ricardo Rodriguez was not out with Del Rio. Cena and Del Rio started off almost at full throttle, but the match turned in to periods of frenzied activity interrupted with brief pauses. Del Rio quickly targeted Cena’s arm once he saw the opening. Of course, Cena managed to pull out agility that he rarely displays specifically because he was working with Del Rio. There were quite a few false finishes throughout. An Attitude Adjustment countered in to a Cross Arm Breaker countered in to an STF led to Mark Henry coming out. Del Rio almost stole the win, but Dolph Ziggler came out to distract Del Rio for an instant, leading to Del Rio eating an Attitude Adjustment. After the match, Henry took the WWE title, mimed like he was going to hit Cena with it, and tossed it to the mat. Cena and Henry had a tense stare-down, before Henry signed that he was playing Cena perfectly, and that his time was finished.
My Thoughts: They must have really wanted the announcement of the champion vs. champion match to seem huge, since the show actually got its opening video, which almost never happens. As for the videos, most of them were pretty standard fare, but HOLY CRAP, HULK HOGAN. Clearly, nobody but Chris Benoit was off limits as a subject, and that’s a good thing. It’s quite telling that the WWE felt completely comfortable airing videos of wrestlers that are in a supposedly rival televised wrestling company. Not bothering to air anything that featured the two challengers to the belts via Hulu kind of makes it clear that we probably won’t see the belts change hands at Money in the Bank. Well, either that, or other aspects of the show were more important. Considering that Henry and Ziggler came out during the match, it is understandable. The match itself was definitely something that, save for the end, could have headlined a Pay-Per-View, albeit a dual-branded Pay-Per-View back when the brand split was still something that mattered. Losing because of a moment’s hesitation was really an interesting take on a match finish, albeit one that made Cena appear to be a total idiot.
World Heavyweight Championship-specific: On SmackDown, they aired some tensions between AJ and Ziggler that were on the WWE App on RAW. Dolph Ziggler was in the ring after that, noting his history with the title belt. He said that after the exhilaration of winning the belt, things were a bit fuzzy because Alberto Del Rio exploited a concussion that he had. He noted that Del Rio somehow came back with a grin on his mouth, somehow talking about how he stood for America, and America as the land of opportunity. He also noted that Del Rio’s façade was so obvious that nobody bought it. Dolph continued on to say that he had never pretended to be something that he is not, and that no matter what, he was always the Show-Off. That resulted in a match against 3MB member Drew McIntyre. Drew managed to look competitive against Dolph, but Dolph managed to get a Zig Zag out of nowhere. He then avoided a 3MB mass attack, not once but twice.
My Thoughts: I find it refreshing that, in spite of being a fan favorite, the WWE has decided not to change who Dolph is in any way. Of course, he can’t exactly use the #HEEL bit anymore, but that was always a side note to his Show Off gimmick. Sure, the way that he said what he said was a little more matter-of-fact and a little less arrogance run amok, but Dolph is still Dolph. As for 3MB, they keep teasing that at some point, this trio is going to be relevant, only to destroy them later. Honestly, while I find their antics ridiculous, they are skilled in the ring, they are effective as people the fans like to hate, and they really should get their day in the sun at some point.
Money in the Bank – WWE Title shot: Daniel Bryan opened RAW, talking about how he wanted to win the belt. Sheamus came out and talked about Bryan’s 18-second WrestleMania loss. Bryan and Sheamus exchanged insults until Randy Orton came out. Orton said he was a threat to everybody, and said nobody was safe, which brought out Kane. Kane agreed that nobody was safe – even Daniel Bryan. Kane and Bryan got in to the, “I’m going to do this!” argument that they usually do. Christian came out and noted that he’s been in more ladder matches, and succeeded in more of them, than anybody else. He did a line about not being the biggest, strongest, scariest, or hairiest, but he was the best. That brought out CM Punk, because he begged to differ about who was the best in the match, since he’s won a Money in the Bank match twice. He started listing off his competition, and Bryan cut him off, which eventually led to Kane eating an RKO. There was a Mexican stand-off, which led to everybody but DB and Kane bailing. As for the seventh entrant, we got yet another RVD video, including a shot of his Money in the Bank victory way back in 2006.
My Thoughts: This was a good, if predictable, way to open RAW. It set up everybody as a strong personality, made it clear that everybody in the match had victories over other people in the match. The only real down side to this is that it really highlighted just how little opportunity there is to get a chance at the WWE Championship. If you haven’t at least held the World Heavyweight Championship, you aren’t getting a shot at that belt, because the brand split doesn’t exist, except as an excuse to not have to put the WWE Champion on SmackDown. The Rob Van Dam videos are getting kind of old, if only because, yes, we know he’s coming. I kind of would like to see him show up on the RAW before Money in the Bank, just as a last-minute surprise.
Bryan, Kane, and Orton Continues: Later on RAW, Daniel Bryan talked to Kane and told him he’d gotten Kane a rematch against Randy Orton. Bryan then told Kane that he was the special referee, which left Kane very unhappy. Bryan actually played a bit impartial at the start of the match, being even-handed in his treatment of both men. He counted the pin fall attempts at the same pace as most WWE referees. Bryan tried to uphold the rules, and Orton eventually put his hands on Bryan, causing a DQ. Kane demanded a restart, and Bryan allowed it. Bryan began to show some favoritism towards Kane, even stopping the RKO because Kane was “on the ropes”, then making a quick count after a big boot. Kane was furious about the result, and looked ready to choke slam Bryan, but left the ring instead. However, Bryan ate an RKO anyway. On SmackDown, Christian and Orton had a pre-match interview with Renee Young as moderator. Christian and Orton both scored talking points. The match ending eventually came when Christian countered the RKO, went up top, and ate the RKO anyway for the loss.
My Thoughts: If this isn’t the central story of the All Stars Money in the Bank ladder match, I don’t know what is. This has been such a great build that I don’t know where we’re going with this. Bryan being the jealous jerk who manipulates things so it looks like he’s being supportive when he’s anything but is a great nuance to the story, and one that I didn’t think WWE Creative could properly handle. Of course, Orton being Orton throughout this really makes him seem like an unnecessary add-on to the whole endeavor. You could have slotted in Curt Hawkins or Zack Ryder and done the exact same story. Okay, maybe not the exact same story, but Kane and Bryan are at the center of this. This is, by far, my favorite part of what WWE is doing right now.
Money in the Bank – WHC Title shot: According to reports (and the “Trending on Twitter” graphic that aired during the Miz-Ryback match on RAW), Fandango had his first match back against Sheamus on RAW. Although he managed to look competitive, after taking some heavy blows, Fandango decided to bow out and take the loss instead of continuing to take a beating. Cody Rhodes took on Antonio Cesaro on RAW in a losing affair, which also saw the return of Jack Swagger. On Main Event, Christian took on Damien Sandow, with Christian really coming off looking like the dominant wrestler while Sandow was just barely holding his own until he cheated to gain the advantage, although Christian still won after the Kill Switch. Sandow was on commentary for Rhodes’ match on RAW, and Rhodes was on commentary for Sandow’s match on Main Event. Jack Swagger took on Sin Cara on Main Event, with Zeb Colter doing a pre-match speech. Swagger really manhandled Sin Cara, although Cara did manage to get some of his aerial offense in. Eventually, the gut wrench power bomb and the Patriot Lock got Swagger the win. On SmackDown, Fandango had another match, this time against the man that caused the initial injury to Ryback, Justin Gabriel. Gabriel attempted to get in Fandango’s head, dancing during the match, but Fandango managed to rally, hitting the leg drop. “We The People” had a video criticizing the way that the US citizenry celebrates the Fourth of July, but eventually, it became clear that all of that was just a preamble to state that Cesaro or Swagger was going to have a World Heavyweight title shot.
My Thoughts: And this is where we once again emphasize just how little the World Heavyweight championship means in the scheme of things. Most contestants didn’t even compete, and three of the ones that did ate big losses. The field is really not looking important for the most part, and when a non-entrant seems more credible than somebody in the match, you have some issues.
CM Punk, The Saga Continues: According to reports, CM Punk told Heyman and Curtis Axel that he was going to win the match against the Prime Time Players on RAW on his own. However, Axel and Heyman came out anyway, with the Intercontinental title in tow. The match started with Axel letting Punk start the match, but then tagging in anyway. Axel then proceeded to keep Punk out of the match. Axel showed competence against both members of the Players, but his refusal to work with Punk let Titus O’Neil and Darren Young dominate Axel. Axel was finally forced to tag in order to save himself, and Punk began to really take the Prime Time Players to task. Punk hit a Go To Sleep on Darren Young, but Axel managed to get the blind tag to take the pin. Punk then refused to celebrate the victory with Heyman and Axel. On SmackDown, CM Punk noted that the Fourth of July was all about independence, just like him. He eventually stated that his goals were to revenge himself upon Brock Lesnar, and to win the Money in the Bank All-Star ladder match and become the WWE Champion. That brought out Alberto Del Rio, who derided the citizens of the United States for their patriotism. Punk called Del Rio on his hypocrisy. Eventually, Del Rio ordered Punk to leave, but Punk, true to form, told Del Rio that he would stay in the ring until Alberto made him leave. That brought out Teddy Long, who made a one-on-one match between CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio. Backstage on SmackDown, CM Punk asked Heyman to stay out of his confrontation with Del Rio. Teddy Long eventually convinced Paul Heyman to act as guest commentator for the Main Event. Punk and Del Rio had a fairly even match, while Heyman was both even-handed and self-absorbed in his analysis. Eventually, Alberto Del Rio attacked Paul Heyman, which made Punk snap, leading the match to end in a double count-out. After the match, Punk gave Del Rio a Go To Sleep.
My Thoughts: I’m going to start with SmackDown here. Remember what I said about the World Heavyweight Championship not mattering? I’m going to have to reiterate it here, because Del Rio’s involvement with CM Punk was basically as a footnote to whatever was happening between Punk and Heyman. The man holds a title, and yet he’s just a side dish to the main course that is the Best in the World (not to be confused with the Ring of Honor Pay-Per-View event). However, I will say that what they’re doing with this CM Punk story is quite entertaining, and the slow burn towards Brock Lesnar that just happens to involve Heyman’s other client is keeping my eyeballs directed towards the screen. I hope that Axel gets something out of this, because otherwise, what was the point of giving him the Intercontinental title?
Chris Jericho vs. Ryback: Ryback had a match against The Miz on RAW, with Chris Jericho on commentary. Ryback really began to beat down on Miz, being completely merciless against Ryback. However, Miz managed to use his superior technique to even the odds against Ryback. He targeted the hurt left leg, really aiming at the femur and knee. Miz almost got a figure four, then wailed on the leg. Ryback called off the match, telling the official he couldn’t continue, forfeiting the match. Jericho was incensed enough at Ryback’s antics to give him a Code Breaker.
My Thoughts: You’re kidding, right? This guy is supposedly a threat against Jericho? Never mind the Diva’s match – this one is going to be the bathroom break of the night for Money in the Bank. There doesn’t really seem to be a positive spin to this in any way, shape, or form. Skip Sheffield – gets injured, can’t be part of Nexus. Ryback – keeps getting hurt, and begs off or quits his matches. Not really a character evolution here.
Tag Team Championships: The Usos once against teamed up with Christian against The Shield on RAW. The match itself was somewhat formulaic. The fan favorites gained an early advantage, the bad guys used some underhanded tactics to get control, and the Usos and Christian got a quick come back. Although it looked like Christian was once again going to take down Ambrose, the Shield used the numbers game to get the win. On SmackDown, the Usos took on Team Rhodes Scholars. Sandow and Rhodes talked about the fact that they were both in a Money in the Bank match against each other, but they knew that the best man would win. Eventually, the Usos won by giving Damien Sandow a stereo Superfly Splash. The Shield eventually cut a promo, with Rollins and Reigns saying that the Usos may not be so lucky if they’re taking on The Shield. Dean Ambrose had his own say, and stated “Believe in the Shield.”
My Thoughts: You ever get the feeling that somebody was taken down a peg just so they can reassert their dominance? Methinks that as popular as The Usos are getting, and as much of a hot streak as they have, we are pretty much going to see Rollins and Reigns keep the belts at least until August. If The Usos are the ones to take the belts off of the group, I’m totally fine with that, but it would be far too soon at to pull the trigger at Money in the Bank.
The Divas: On RAW, Alicia Fox took on Kaitlyn (who had Layla at her side). Kaitlyn was pretty heavy on the offensive, using a rough-and-tumble style, while Alicia was a little more agile, albeit she did try to use a bit of Kaitlyn’s style against her. Kaitlyn eventually smashed Alicia with the spear for the win, which brought out AJ Lee and Big E Langston. AJ told Kaitlyn that committing character assassination on SmackDown was a bad call, because AJ had an image of a modeling shoot that Kaitlyn made. The picture was a clearly a picture of Kaitlyn’s head Photoshopped on to a fat woman’s body. Kaitlyn was nonchalant about the whole affair. According to reports, RAW also had a segment promoting the upcoming Total Divas on E! On Main Event, AJ joined the commentary desk when Big E Langston had a match against Curt Hawkins. Langston basically owned Hawkins and took the win. Meanwhile AJ Lee basically said she was going to be the next Fabulous Moolah. On SmackDown, Alicia Fox and Kaitlyn had a rematch. AJ Lee came out, skipping around the ring and holding the belt high, eventually getting on the apron. This caused enough of a distraction for Alicia to steal the win, leading to Kaitlyn chasing AJ backstage. AJ got to Big E Langston and told him to get the car. Big E noted that Dolph Ziggler was still in the building, but AJ said she would text him, to Langston’s bemusement. Eventually, Langston agreed to leave.
My Thoughts: Well, this is going to a really crazy place. Kaitlyn is being portrayed alternately as an emotional wreck and a crazed maniac. AJ is still her weird self, but she’s come to realize exactly what kind of can of worms she opened when she messed with Kaitlyn’s heart. As for Langston, it may just be me, but I think I see a way for AJ to remain a bad girl while Ziggler is getting cheers from the fans. As for the Total Divas, WWE didn’t put it on their Hulu Plus version of RAW, so even though they’ve been pushing it for nearly forever, I think it may be a show that E! Network watchers might enjoy, but which WWE fans might just as soon skip.
(Vickie Guerrero) and the McMahons: Vickie Guerrero was talking to Brad Maddox, complaining about how every single McMahon was giving her contradictory directions. Triple H complimented Vickie about listening to the WWE Universe. He then told Vickie to listen to Vince and Stephanie, but to listen to him. Vince McMahon came to talk to Vickie, chastising her for featuring Daniel Bryan, and therefore not listening to him. He told her that the main event was a good idea, but that giving it away on free television was a terrible idea. Stephanie McMahon took Vickie to task about not reigning in AJ, or doing her job. Vickie tried to explain that the conflicting directions were driving her crazy. Stephanie said she understands, and that she liked the unpredictability of RAW. Vickie tried to be sisterly with Stephanie, but that brought on Stepahnie’s ire when she called HHH and Vince crazy. That led to an official job evaluation, to be had on the following RAW.
My Thoughts: Well, that took forever to happen. Part of me wants to see Vickie get promoted to GM, just because it means that technically, she would have far more control over the show, and could ignore all of the McMahons if she disagreed with something. (See multiple commissioners and GMs throughout the years.) On the other hand, Vickie’s act is a little old at this point, so if they release her, especially if it’s in favor of somebody that hasn’t been in that kind of position before, would be interesting. Actually, come to that, part of me would find it amusing if former Assistants to the GM/Supervising Manager David Otunga and Brad Maddox got the job due to “past experience”, but WWE isn’t that crazy.
Other Stuff: The Wyatt Family had more vignettes, and were announced to be coming to RAW. There were a few short clips about the B.A. STAR program.