This is for Scott’s reader who won the 20,000,000th page view contest on his blog, and it also happens to coincide with this year’s version of the show.
Live from Buffalo, NY
Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler
World Heavyweight title, Hardcore rules: Alberto Del Rio v. Rob Van Dam
I don’t even get the deal with RVD and Ricardo, as they broke up the Ricardo-Del Rio team, literally the only thing giving Del Rio any heat, and put him with someone who didn’t need a manager or extra heat. It did nothing for anyone involved and really made RVD look like kind of a goof for associating with Ricardo. Rob dumps ADR to start and drops the guillotine legdrop as I ponder the difference between a “hardcore” match and an “extreme rules” match. Probably copyright. Back in the ring, Rob DDTs him on a chair for two, but ADR gets the backstabber for two. Del Rio with some WEAK chairshots for two. I could live just fine without ever seeing anyone take a chair to the back again, but if you’re gonna do it, DO IT. ADR sets up the chair in the corner while we get a high-speed camera replay (hey, remember the month or so when they spent thousands on that thing and then used it a bunch to justify it?) but Rob spinkicks him and retrieves a ladder. Back in, RVD with a missile dropkick and ADR bumps off the ladder and out to the floor, and back in for two. Rob climbs the ladder in the corner, but Del Rio puts him down with an enzuigiri and gets two. He goes to work with the dreaded aluminum garbage can, but Rob kicks it back at him. Slow motion reveals how non-devastating that move really is. As a general rule, high speed replays of choreographed fighting kind of undermines the whole “suspension of disbelief” deal. Rob makes the comeback with a moonsault on the ladder for two. Rolling Thunder misses, however, and it’s armbreaker time. Ricardo breaks it up since it’s no-DQ, and Rob rolls Del Rio up for two. And then we get a weird sequence with Del Rio and Ricardo beating on each other to totally kill the flow of the match. Rob suddenly reappears with a frog splash off the apron, which gets two. Rob tries the Van Terminator, but misses after his ten minute setup routine. Del Rio drops him on the chair and superkicks him, then finishes with the armbreaker in the chair at 16:03. So yeah, quite the comeback for RVD, tapping to the heel’s finisher despite having all the advantages in the match. It was like a good Smackdown main event, but didn’t seem like a good fit for a PPV blowoff. ***
Meanwhile, the Real Americans rail against Mexicans and Canadians sneaking across the border.
The Great Khali & Santino v. The Real Americans
They seriously put this match on a show that people were paying for? Showing that the company totally misses the point of the hypocrisy behind the heel team, Santino and Khali are both legitimately foreigners, thus proving their point! The heel heat should have been from the “Real” Americans accusing two obviously American babyfaces of being immigrants. Santino tries a headlock on Swagger while the announcers are already losing interest in the match, and the cobra comes out early. Swagger runs away from it and Hornswoggle tries his own, but that goes nowhere and Santino is your clown-in-peril. This whole sequence was apparently supposed to be hilarious judging by the fake laughter from the announce team. Just in case you needed that clarified. See, a MIDGET had a smaller version of the cobra. And then Swagger just ignored him and stole the sock. Because he’s a midget and thus easily beat up. HILARIOUS. Mercifully we move to the hot tag and Khali pounds on Cesaro and the big chop gets two. Swagger and Santino fight on the floor, leaving Cesaro to Giant Swing the giant for the pin at 7:05. DUD
Did we mention that BREAST CANCER IS BAD? Because this is apparently news. Seriously, they’re already all wearing their stupid pink shirts and the Susan G. Komen scam has advertising all over the arena, do we really need PSAs in between the matches as well? How much was the foundation paying for this shameless self-promotion? When you’re basically sponsoring a show on the same level as Snickers or the new Modern Warfare game does, the high moral ground is kind of lost.
Intercontinental title: Curtis Axel v. R-Truth
Truth slugs away while Cole reminds us that Truth was once US champion four years ago and had a single title shot at Cena as well. Wow, what a pedigree. A clothesline puts Axel on the floor and Truth follows with a clothesline and he’s like “WHAT’S UP?” and the crowd is like “Eh, not much, just watching this shit PPV.” Axel runs him into the railing for two, which we get in SUPER EXPENSIVE HIGH FRAMERATE SLOW MOTION and they’re milk every cent out of that fucking camera system if it kills them. Did the Susan G. Komen foundation buy it for them or something? RISE ABOVE 30 FRAMES PER SECOND! So back in the ring, Axel goes to the chinlock and I’m sick of this match already as we get another fucking slow motion replay. How much more slow motion could a match be? It’s CURTIS AXEL. Are you gonna sell this camera thing on chinlocks at 1200 frames per second? Truth makes the comeback with a rollup for two and the axe kick for two. The crowd is more concerned with JBL than with Truth’s title chase. Can’t say as I blame them. God forbid this company ever figures out how to film in 3D because they’d probably shove that down our throats for a month, too. Axel finishes with the neckbreaker thingie at 7:40. Thankfully, not in SUPER SLO-MO. The match was slow motion by itself. *
Divas title: AJ Lee v. Brie Bella
Was this during the “Total Divas hate AJ” feud that everyone raved about to start but went nowhere? Brie chases AJ around and gets a dropkick for two as Cole points out the possibility of the engaged Brie and Daniel Bryan couple becoming dual champions tonight. Which is really weird because they acknowledge the real life and Total Divas continuity of Brie and Bryan, but Nikki Bella and John Cena exist in some bizarre parallel universe where they only know each other on the E! Network. Like apparently the fans are supposed to be the perfect balance of stupid to know about one relationship but not the other. AJ works on the arm a bit but she’s got nothing to work with here. Blind charge misses but AJ just keeps beating on the arm while Cole on commentary confirms that this was indeed after AJ gave the promo that was supposed to turn her into a mega-heel in the company’s eyes by insulting the Total Divas show that everyone apparently was supposed to love non-ironically. Brie makes the comeback while Tamina beats on Nikki, and this distraction allows AJ to get the rollup to retain at 6:44. So basically AJ told all the other Divas that they sucked and then proved that she was correct by beating them all and retaining her title for a record length of time. TELLING STORIES. ½*
The Shield v. Cody Rhodes & Goldust
The Rhodes family fights for their jobs as we finally get something worthwhile on this show. Cody chases the heels and they work on Reigns in the corner, so the Shield bails to regroup. Dusty UNDOES THE BELT and you know he means business but sadly no one is whipped like a dog if you will. Back in the ring, Cody gets beat up in the corner, but he comes back and stomps Rollins down in the corner. Rollins puts him down again Roman overpowers him for two, and I’m wondering why they didn’t just book it as a 3-on-2 match to really put the screws to the Rhodes family and give it real stakes. Rollins with a neckbreaker for two and Cody gets caught in the heel corner, but he comes back with a moonsault and it’s hot tag Goldust. He beats on Reigns in the corner and the crowd is totally into this one, and a flying bodypress gets two. Sadly, a bodypress misses and Goldust splats on the floor to begin his revived career as the greatest face-in-peril of the past decade. He actually manages to milk crowd sympathy out of a teased countout. Back in, the Shield goes to work and Rollins gets a senton for two as Goldust’s paint starts to come off and you can see the agony on his face start to develop. What a great touch that ended up being. Although the stupid pink gloves kind of kill the gravitas. He’s desperate to fight for his very job, but not so desperate that he can’t stop to honor the company-wide charity initiative of the month! Goldust comes back with a powerslam on Rollins and it’s hot tag Cody and he’s running wild. A spinning Alabama slam gets two on Rollins. Suplex gets two and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA, as Cody hits Reigns with the disaster kick and dumps him, but Rollins lays him out from behind in a great spot. This match also was fascinating for myself as a fan of tag team wrestling, because no matter how you try to kill off tag teams, wrestling crowds collectively get the rhythms and twists of a great tag match without being taught. They know to get mad at the false finishes, clap along with the face-in-peril to inspire him to make the tag, and know that the hot tag is setting up the climax of the match and turn up their response accordingly. On the floor, Dusty finally pays off the belt spot and lays out Ambrose to the delight of the crowd. In the ring, Crossroads finishes at 13:52 for the giant pop. Clearly the best thing on the show. ***3/4 Sadly their tag title reign later would prove to be a giant waste for all involved.
Kofi Kingston v. Bray Wyatt
Bray misses a couple of charges, but manages to lay him out in the corner and pounds him down for two. I should note that it was around this time that the Wyatt-Cena Wrestlemania rumors started and most people were like “WTF?” And then they actually managed to build him up before having him lose all the matches and drop back down the card again. So, job well done, I guess. Bray drops an elbow for two as the crowd has already given up on the match and started chanting for random people. Kofi fights out of a chinlock and gets a crucifix for two. But where’s the super slo-mo replay? The wacky kick misses and Bray lays him out for the CRABWALK OF DOOM. Kofi comes back with a dive onto all three guys and goes up with a flying bodypress for two, but Bray catches him with Sister Abagail at 8:20. This really needed to be Bray squashing the shit out of Kofi at this point and just ended up being too long for what they were trying to accomplish. **
CM Punk v. Ryback
This was so clearly a setup for their Cell match two weeks later that I don’t even know why they bothered going through the motions of actually having a match. Punk kicks Ryback’s legs out and he bails to escape, so Punk hits him with a dive and sends him into the post. Back in, a flying bodypress gets two. Ryback comes back with a press slam and runs Punk into the post to take over and we hit the chinlock. Ryback with an overhead suplex for two. Who was the ad wizard that came up with this feud? “Hey, let’s book a series of matches where Ryback has to be on offense for long stretches of time against a guy who’s already beat up and unmotivated! WE’LL MAKE MILLIONS!” Ryback suplexes him on the top rope and pounds away for two. And back to the chinlock. Punk makes a comeback, so Heyman stops to cut a promo and Punk stands like a moron while Ryback attacks from behind. Powerbomb gets two. Why not just do a rollup like everyone else in the past 10 years? Another powerbomb is reversed to a sloppy high kick, thus CREATING SEPARATION, and the Macho Elbow gets two. Punk throws knees in the corner and takes him down with a rana, but Ryback gets a powerslam for two. Heyman gets caught with a kendo stick, so Punk kicks Ryback in the nuts and pins him at 15:00 while the ref is distracted. THAT was the finish they came up with? I could have spilled a bowl of Alpha-Bits on the floor and swept up random letters that would form a better finish than that. And this somehow necessitated a Hell in the Cell rematch at the next show. Punk was clearly beat up and in need of a break, basically doing nothing here and the result was a boring match. **
Meanwhile, the panel of “experts” (The Miz, Tensai and Titus O’Neil…no really) make their picks for the main event. One thing they know for sure is that we will absolutely have a champion after tonight.
WWE title: Abeyance v. Daniel Bryan v. Randy Orton
This was the one after Bryan thought he had won the title but had it ripped away from by the establishment. Oh, and the Authority has no confidence in Randy Orton and thinks they need a new face of the company. In case you needed help narrowing down which match this one was. Orton works the headlock to start, but Bryan goes after the arm, so Orton puts him down with the neckbreaker for two. Bryan comes back with the kicks in the corner and goes to work on the knee with an indian deathlock, but Orton clotheslines from the top for two. Orton pounds away in the corner and even the announcers are like “Yeah, he’s really slowing the pace down here.” Bryan makes his comeback and puts Orton on the floor with a headscissors before following with a dive and a dropkick into the railing. Back in, he tries a flying something and gets caught with a powerbomb for two. Orton with a Boston crab, which is an oddly random choice on his part, but Bryan cradles for two. They head to the floor and Orton sends him into the post to take over again as the match just keeps meandering back and forth. Orton with a superplex for two as we finally get the super-expensive slo-mo replay that the viewing public had literally been demanding since the R-Truth match. RETURN ON INVESTMENT. If people who work with me are reading this, they’ll know why that’s funny. Bryan comes back with a backslide for two, but Orton suplexes him to the floor. They brawl by the tables and Bryan gets the better of that and follows with a dive from the top rope. Back in, flying headbutt gets two. Man, how much longer would his career (to date) have been if he had just phased that move out years ago? Bryan with dropkicks in the corner for the big comeback, but Orton suplexes him on his bad shoulder. Bryan blocks the RKO and hooks the Yes-Lock, but Big Show does the run-in and bumps the ref for some reason. This would I guess count as the finish at 22:00. This was every other Bryan v. Orton match you’ve ever seen in your life. *** And then Show knocks out both Bryan and Orton and we continue to have no champion. And that was the end of the show that people paid $60 to see in the days before the Network! See, because Bryan was considered to be the sideshow and people were supposed to get behind Big Show as the new face of the company and top babyface who avenged himself on Orton and then faced HHH at TLC to draw millions. No, really.
Not quite as infuriating a show as it was at the time, now it’s more of an incredibly boring curiosity than anything. Unfortunately the passion and greatness of the Rhodes match has also been flattened out by time and perspective for me and that basically kills the whole show for me overall now. Definitely I’d call this the worst WWE PPV of 2013, no doubt.