GWWE REVISITED: March 2010.
We are firmly on the Road to WrestleMania 26 in Phoenix, Arizona. And using the road analogy they loved to utilize so much on WWE television, let me put it to you this way. The Road to WrestleMania in 2010 was a well paved highway. A few cracks here and there but a very smooth ride. Then we get to our destination and find half of the structure is beautiful and the other half isn’t up to code. Whatever can be said about WrestleMania 26, they did an excellent job building for every match on the card. The show itself is a real mixed bag. Raw is focused heavily on promos and angles building the matches for WrestleMania. The wrestling is lacking on all but one episode. The promo work is mostly top notch, so its hard to complain. The 3/15/10 Raw was WrestleMania Rewind night, featuring rematches from previous WrestleMania’s. I loved this Raw. The Raw after WrestleMania also falls within March. Unlike most years in which this Raw sets the table for WWE going forward, the 3/29/10 Raw was a Shawn Michaels tribute show. The wrestling was lacking on this episode for sure but it’s obvious what everyone came to see was the Shawn Michaels farewell.
Smackdown on the other hand has much better variety. Again, the promo segments are some of the best stuff you’re going to see with guys like Chris Jericho, Edge, CM Punk, and Rey Mysterio. But also there is some solid wrestling and they sprinkle in some stuff to help get NXT over, having Rookies occasionally accompany their pros and sometimes get involved.
And speaking of NXT, it may be my favorite show upon rewatching. I don’t remember enjoying it this much the first time around. It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity. They are doing a good job of getting these new characters over and introducing them to the audience. Frankly, there are people on the main roster who could use this treatment. Each of the NXT rookies have short, sit down interview segments explaining who they are and what their deal is. The strongest of these may have been David Otunga. Meanwhile, for the cast offs from ECW who now find themselves on the main roster, they aren’t really being given much of a chance to get over with the audience or even properly introduced to them. The last ECW Champion, Ezekiel Jackson has a very brief promo video on Smackdown and a squash match against Jimmy Wang Yang. If you weren’t watching ECW, you wouldn’t have a clue who Zack Ryder is. He gets the Jobbers entrance coming back from commercial then loses in less than a minute to MVP in a Money in the Bank qualifying match. How is anyone supposed to get over or even noticed like that? I like what they are doing on NXT but it seems like they could use some of the techniques the company is using on NXT to help some of the main roster talent get introduced to the audience. None of what is working on NXT eats up a ton of TV time either. 30 second promo packages and two week angles can really do wonders for a talent.
I’d rather not start off on a negative so all I can do is repeat my praise for the promos and angles on Raw this month. Cena vs Batista, Bret vs Vince, Shawn vs Undertaker, all of them are being built on strong promos and little else. There are few times that I remember things from this period of time but a few things did stand out and it wasn’t good. The Raw after WrestleMania they just had to have the stars of Hot Tub Time Machine guest host. On a show that is all about Shawn Michaels saying farewell, these segments just fall flat, more so than usual. Also on that show, they have a rematch of the Eight Diva Tag Match from the night before at WrestleMania. We have Kelly Kelly, Beth Phoenix, Mickie James and Eve Torres vs Michelle McCool, Layla, Maryse, and Vickie Guerrero. The bell rings, Maryse does her shimmy by the ropes, Eve rolls her up for the three count. The entrances were longer than the match. After the match the night before only went three minutes. The only reason to have a rematch is to give it more time. And they gave the match less time and buried their Divas Champion in the process. Then everyone jiggles in celebration, just happy they were on TV. Pathetic. I feel sorry for the audience that paid to see that match, the performers involved, the agent who had to put this travesty together, the USA Network for having it on their TV, and myself for still remembering this 12 years later. I have long said this was the worst thing I have seen on a wrestling show and having rewatched it, I stand by that statement.
On the 3/1/10 Raw, Batista explains his motivation for his recent behavior, teaming with Mr. McMahon, sneaking up on Cena at Elimination Chamber to take the WWE Championship, hitting Cena in the balls. It boils down to jealousy. The torch was passed from Stone Cold to John Cena and that doesn’t sit well with Batista. He also calls back to their Summer Slam 08 match in which Cena was injured by Batista. Deep down, John Cena knows he can’t beat Batista. It may be Batista’s best promo of his career. Cena is left speechless for once and the next week he admits that Batista is right, there is a seed of self doubt planted. This wrinkle really adds a lot to the storyline.
The Cena vs Batista build shows how the brand split can work if it is done right. These two both won their first championship at WrestleMania 21. They had very little interaction in the previous 4 years. So this feels like a fresh match up for Cena, who sorely needs some new opponents outside of Edge and Randy Orton. Also, calling back to what shared history they did have was a very useful tool. An ounce of long term booking can go a long way.
Mr McMahon gets his revenge on John Cena for supporting Bret Hart by facing him in a gauntlet match. Cena gets spammed with opponents while McMahon cheers them on. On the 3/15 Raw, Cena faces Big Show in a WrestleMania 20 rematch. Show wins with some help from “The Animal” Batista. The go home edition of Raw, Cena and Batista cut a long promo on each other, selling the match coming up at Mania. The build is pretty simple but I felt like it worked really well. Cena wins the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 26 from Batista. I really liked the match but it seems to get overshadowed by the Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker match that follows it. As far as I am concerned, this story and the match it lead to delivers.
Career vs Streak.
The build for this match is also largely just Shawn Michaels and Undertaker cutting promos on each other for a month on TV. And it totally works. It helps that they are building to a rematch of one of the best matches in WrestleMania history. Shawn really carries this, explaining in how many ways ending the streak means so much to him as well as his career. Shawn also has some really good matches on Raw heading towards WrestleMania. His tag match with Triple H against ShowMiz could have been better but he has a very good match with Chris Jericho on the 3/15 Raw and a pretty decent match against Kane on 3/22 at the request of Pete Rose. The match itself is excellent. I think the WrestleMania 25 match with Shawn and Undertaker was better. I would be shocked if there is a better match in 2010 than Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker at WrestleMania 26.
NO Chance in HELL.. can this be good.
The history between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon is well documented. The promos building towards this match certainly calls on that well known history. What is also well known by most fans in 2010 is how Bret’s career was ended by a severe concussion due to a sloppy Bill Goldberg Mafia Kick. Also it’s well known that Bret had suffered a stroke some years back and there was no way he could be hit or take bumps safely. Under the surface of the storyline is the drama of how they would get around Bret’s limitations. The answer to that is to have all of Bret’s family beat up Vince then have Bret mercilessly wail on Mr. McMahon until the crowd is dead and somehow they managed to get sympathy on the evil owner of the WWE. This might have been a good opportunity to get some attention on The Hart Dynasty, DH Smith (still one of the worst names in WWE history), Tyson Kidd, and Natalia. They end up being background noise in this whole matter. I’m going to resist the urge to fantasy book this feud. They could have done better and the silent crowd of 73,000 in Phoenix would likely agree.
The Irish Curse.
Generally, I don’t like Triple H. One of the reasons was the long winded promos he would do to open Raw during his heyday. So what I am about to say is high praise. This match is built on one Triple H promo on the 3/8 Raw. It may be one of The Game’s best in his career. For Sheamus’s part, he keeps attacking Triple H from behind, getting the better of the Cerebral Assassin. It’s fine, I guess. Reminds us Sheamus is still alive. Again, calling back on history is shown to be very effective. Triple H recalls his first WrestleMania, when he got run over by The Ultimate Warrior. Triple H warns if Sheamus isn’t careful, the same thing will happen to The Celtic Warrior. The match was fine. I think the goal was to keep Sheamus over without him getting over, which isn’t really what happens. It’s hard to believe Sheamus was the WWE Champion only a month ago. He quickly gets lost in the shuffle, even in a feud with Triple H.
Legacy Finally Explodes!
They tried with Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase JR, they really did. Rhodes and DiBiase spent most of the month getting the better of Randy Orton for the month of March. Beating him in matches, attacking him from behind, on almost every Raw Rhodes and DiBiase get the better of The Viper. Randy Orton takes care of them without much of a hassle in a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania. I don’t know if the goal was to turn Randy Orton face. Certainly the 73,000 in Phoenix were firmly behinds Orton. Which is odd because The Viper had been abusing his two lackeys for months. The storytelling in this feud did nothing to solidify either Orton, Rhodes, or DiBiase as babyfaces. It was an awkward feud which lead to a match that was just kind of there. It’s hard to boo a guy who is in a two on one situation. On the other hand, Randy Orton was a cold hearted bully who used Rhodes and DiBiase to meet his own needs. Rhodes and DiBiase had been portrayed as bumbling idiots who repeatedly cost Randy Orton the WWE Championship. Also they seem to be having some difficulties between each other. This is a textbook example of how not to get someone over.
Money In The Bank
With all I have already laid out, Raw is a pretty busy show. In addition to the big angles I have already recapped, they needed to make time for Cheech and Chong to eat Lucky Charms and obligatory brief Divas matches. So there wasn’t much time to give anyone some momentum going into the Money In The Bank Match. It’s a highly anticipated match that always delivers so it didn’t need a ton of build. But let’s go through our ten participants and what they do on TV going into this match.
MVP. After a hot feud with The Miz in which it felt like he was really getting over as a face, this month he has one match on Raw, his MITB Qualifier, against Zack Ryder, and it goes less than a minute. He teams with Matt Hardy on Smackdown to face MITB opponents Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. Also MVP is in a Ten Man Tag that serves as a Money in the Bank preview.
Evan “Air” Bourne wins his Money in the Bank qualifier against William Regal. There wasn’t much to it but the match was better than many of the MITB Qualifiers. He gets attacked from behind by Sheamus the next week. Evan is also in the aforementioned Ten Man Tag. That’s it.
Kofi Kingston gets run over by Batista the week before he qualifies for Money in the Bank. He wins his qualifying match against Vladimir Kozlov. It was a brief match that left little impression on me. Jack Swagger joins in on commentary for that match and it was uninspired. Then there is the Ten Man Tag on Smackdown.
The Dynamic Duo of Matt Hardy and The Great Khali comes to an end when Hardy qualifies for Money in the Bank with a win over Drew McIntyre. Matt teams with MVP in a losing effort against Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler. He is in the Ten Man Tag preview match on Smackdown. Matt serves as Justin Gabriel’s mentor on NXT and gets much respect over on that show. He teams twice with Gabriel. So lots of tag work for Matt Hardy in the month of March and 2010 thus far.
The Pencil stopped Shelton in March of 2010. He starts the month with a very good match against Dolph Ziggler. He ends the month with the Ten Man Tag. There was nothing in between.
Christian was officially listed as being on the Raw roster. He doesn’t make a single appearance on Raw before WrestleMania. The night after Mania he loses a Legends Lumberjack Match to Ted DiBiase Jr. His only main roster appearance for the month was the Ten Man Tag preview to Money in the Bank on Smackdown. On NXT, Christian is the mentor of Heath Slater. Christian never gets to have a match on NXT until after Mania. Slater has a nice month, so Christian has that going for him, which is nice.
Drew McIntyre’s new music and Titantron makes it seem like he may have killed someone. The previous month, Drew lost a MITB Qualifier to Kane. McMahon has that stricken from the record and Drew has a second chance to get into the Money in the Bank Match, which he loses to Matt Hardy. That lose is also taken off the books. Drew gets to face a local ham and egger in a Qualifier and finally punches his ticket to WrestleMania. Drew’s undefeated streak finally comes to an end when he goes one on one with The Undertaker. Drew has more TV time than his Money in the Bank opponents but it would be hard to say he has any momentum. Its hard to take a guy seriously who loses all the time and Mr. McMahon has to protect.
Dolph qualified for Money in the Bank the previous month in a Triple Threat Match against John Morrison and R Truth. He starts the month with a good match against Shelton Benjamin. Dolph wins a tag match with his partner Jack Swagger against MVP and Matt Hardy. Then get participants in the Ten Man Tag Match setting up for Money In The Bank. All in all, not bad compared to some of the others.
The Big Red Machine became the answer to a trivia question by being Shawn Michaels last opponent on Raw. The match was quite good. Kane also had the last word in his long running feud with Pete Rose. Then he was in the Ten Man Tag with the other MITB opponents.
Finally, we get to out Money In The Bank winner, “The All American American”Jack Swagger. Jack makes short work of Santino Marella to qualify for Money In The Bank. He provides some dull guest commentary for a Kofi Kingston match. Then there is that Ten Man Tag. So this win really caught everyone off guard. Jack Swagger hadn’t been on Raw for a very long period of time. His year so far as been unimpressive to say the least. For Jack Swagger to be Mr. Money In The Bank, it was a real surprise. How much this helped him in the long term is debatable.
As far as I ring quality, Smackdown has it all over Raw and it’s not even close. There are also some good promos and angles setting up for the matches at WrestleMania. Maybe because the show is tape, it comes off as more structured.
Spear Spear Spear.
Jericho invites Edge on the Highlight Reel and nails him with the World Heavyweight Championship belt right between the eyes, disrupting the spear. Jericho goes on the Cutting Edge and, with some help from Wade Barrett, attacks Edge in his injured Achilles. It’s mostly a war of words between the two. They call on their history as a tag team when Edge got injured. Edge eliminating Jericho at Royal Rumble, punching his ticket to WrestleMania. Edge is quick to remind Jericho that the Spear is coming and that will be the end of the Jericho title reign. They have good chemistry dueling in promos as well as their in ring chemistry. The match itself at WrestleMania was quite good. The crowd didn’t seem that much into it but Edge and Jericho did everything right to have a very good match. They didn’t go with the Hollywood ending of Edge winning the title after coming back early from injury. Considering where they were going to go with the World Heavyweight Championship, it seems like giving it to Edge here and telling that story would have been the way to go. Edge Spears Jericho through the barricade after the match, which finally livens up the crowd. You can’t go wrong pairing these two for a program after WrestleMania. Giving Edge the big moment here might have been predictable but sometimes we need those satisfying moments.
The Straight Edge Savior.
CM Punk makes it his personal mission to make Rey Mysterio join the Straight Edge Society. One week, Rey Mysterio comes out to the ring with his family. Dominik is already taller than Rey at this point. It’s Rey’s daughters birthday and Rey invites us all to celebrate the occasion with the Mysterio family. CM Punk crashes the party, verbally thrashing Rey in front of his family and singing a very creepy version of Happy Birthday to Rey’s daughter. It’s some excellent character work from Punk. The stipulation are WrestleMania is that if Rey loses, he will have to join the Straight Edge Society. The match is pretty good. They fit a lot into a relatively short period of time.
The Hardest Working Man in WWE.
Miz really becomes a workhorse for the company in March of 2010. I think he is featured on every show, or pretty close to it. Miz appears on Raw, Smackdown, and NXT. John Morrison and R Truth are looking for something to do at WrestleMania so they decide to team up, win a Number One Contenders Match against The Hart Dynasty, and will be going on to face ShowMiz at WrestleMania. The match is rather unspectacular. After WrestleMania, it seem Miz and Big Show will be moving on to a program with The Hart Dynasty. Miz and Show have a fun little character moment on the Raw after WrestleMania. Miz is all excited to dispatch of The Hart Dynasty right now but Big Show cautions prudence. Things don’t go well for Miz in the match and Show yells at him from the outside of the ring ” You ready to listen to me?” While Miz is caught in a submission. Miz agrees to these terms, and Show pulls him out of the ring, carrying Miz to the back and taking the countout lose. I really like this pairing. They have an interesting on screen chemistry together. Miz also has his on going feud with his NXT Rookie Daniel Bryan. He insults or attacks Bryan any chance he can get. Bryan loses every match on NXT, including a tag match with The Miz as his partner. It looms heavy over Bryan as to whether or not he will make the cut for the next round. Daniel Bryan ranks number one in the pros poll, which helps his case. Credit has to be given to The Miz got taking every opportunity he is being given by this company and making the best of it.
Less is more on NXT. With 8 Rookies and 8 Pros, there are only 16 people on the show. It’s only an hour long so there are enough combinations to keep things fresh. It really only feels like Skip Sheffield and Michael Tarver get less time than the other Rookies. Daniel Bryan is undeniably the star of the show. He is featured every week. While he has a winless record by the end of the month, he has a match every week.
As for storylines, we have The Miz riding Daniel Bryan extra hard. It seems like it’s more out of jealousy than trying to get the best out of Bryan. Michael Cole is also aggressive towards Daniel Bryan on commentary. He has snide remarks about all the Rookies but particularly dislikes Daniel Bryan. If you have ever wondered what a Daniel Bryan vs Great Khali match would have looked like, you can see it on NXT in the month of March.
Carlito walks past a line up of the NXT Rookies. He takes a bite of his apple and eventually spits at Heath Slater. I don’t know why but five years in that gimmick feels more childish than when he started doing it 6 years previously. The next week, Heath Slater gets an opportunity for revenge and beats Carlito in a pretty good match. Carlito looked motivated for a change. I like this small, self contained storyline. It helped out Heath Slater if nothing else.
David Otunga has some differences with his pro, R Truth. They brawl in the back following a lose. The video package on Otunga really sells him as a big deal with connections to Hollywood and President Obama. One week he is also featured at a red carpet event for the SyFy Channel along with The Miz. Again, he seems like a big deal until you realize he is rubbing elbows with luminaries from Farscape and Babylon 5. Love those shows but that’s not exactly the A List. Otunga wins a Battle Royal against the other Rookies to end the month, earning the chance to guest host Raw.
- Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker. Career vs Streak. WrestleMania 26.
- John Cena vs Batista. WWE Championship Match. WrestleMania 26.
- Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho. 3/15/10 Raw.
- Rey Mysterio vs CM Punk. WrestleMania 26.
- Rey Mysterio vs Luke Gallows. 3/19/10. Smackdown.
- Money In The Bank Ladder Match. WrestleMania 26.
- Rey Mysterio vs Luke Gallows. 3/5/10. Smackdown.
- Laycool vs Beth Phoenix and Tiffany. 3/19/10. Smackdown.
- The Miz vs John Morrison. 3/22/10. RAW.
- Shawn Michaels vs Kane. 3/22/10. RAW.
- Triple H vs Randy Orton. 3/15/10. Raw.
- Heath Slater vs Carlito. 3/9/10. NXT.
- John Cena vs Mr. McMahon. Gauntlet Match. 3/8/10. Raw.
Thats it for March of 2010. As always, comments and conversation is appreciated. Let me know if there was something I missed or anything you remember about March of 2010 in WWE.