November was a really strange month in WWE. At the beginning of the month, Randy Orton was our WWE Champion, on the rise in popularity, arguably settling into the Number Two babyface spot. The Savage to John Cena’s Hogan. By the end of the month, Miz is defending the WWE Championship against Jerry Lawler. How did we get so drastically off track?
There wasn’t a lot of build for Survivor Series. Most of the matches on the show were put together the week before the show. Still, Survivor Series ended up being a fairly good show. Raw and Smackdown each had episodes in England, which prevented any meaningful build. Raw is experimenting with more 3 hour episodes , with an Old School Raw and a King of the Ring tournament. On the positive side, there is more time to put together better matches. On the negative side, these 3 hour episodes can be a real grind to get through. We feel the legacy of this decision to this very day. I think the occasional 3 hour Raw, when you have something special going on, is a fine idea. I rather liked the King of the Ring episode. But the question is whether you have 3 hours of content worth sitting through.
At Survivor Series, Wade Barrett will face Randy Orton for the WWE Championship with John Cena as special guest referee. If Wade Barrett wins, John Cena will be freed from the Nexus. If Randy Orton wins, John Cena will be fired. No Dq. No Countout. No Nexus interference. Raw is largely built around this story for the entire month. The match quality somewhat improved with the hyper focus on one storyline. With the 3 hour Old School Raw, they build everything else for Survivor Series. Ted DiBiase Jr challenges Daniel Bryan for the US Title, giving up on the Million Dollar Championship when Goldust gives it back to Ted Sr. John Morrison challenges Sheamus after weeks of standing up for Santino. Santino and Kozlov win a Number One contenders match for the WWE Tag Team Titles.
After Survivor Series, things get weird. John Cena is still on TV frequently even though he has been fired. CM Punk will bring up how little this makes sense on commentary. Miz successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. We have a King of the Ring tournament thrown together in two weeks with wrestlers from Raw and Smackdown. Then Jerry Lawler gets a WWE Title Match against the Miz in a TLC Match and is cost the championship by Michael Cole getting involved.
The question leading into the match between Randy Orton and Wade Barrett for the WWE Championship at Survivor Series is whether or not John Cena can be an impartial referee. To test Cena’s loyalty, the Raw GM makes a match where Barrett and Otunga will face Orton and R Truth with John Cena as the special guest referee. While Cena has had his issues with Randy Orton in the past, can he really bring himself to stab his good friend R Truth in the back? The answer is no. Orton and Truth get the win and Cena calls the match fair.
There is a Nexus subplot in which the group without Wade Barrett show up on Smackdown to throw their weight around. They attack Alberto Del Rio and Edge to kick off the show. Later in the night, the Nexus lose to Big Show, Edge, Del Rio, Kane, and Kofi. David Otunga is making a power play within the group and on this night he falls on his face. On the next Raw, Otunga is properly punished for going off to Smackdown and losing. So Otunga faces John Cena and Cena takes him apart without much or an issue. To save Otunga’s spot with the Nexus, he must defeat Edge on Smackdown the next week. Otunga does this with help from Kane and the Nexus.
The go home Raw leading into Survivor Series is Old School. To mark the occasion, Cena, Orton, and Barrett appear on Piper’s Pit. Roddy Piper let’s Cena know that if he doesn’t call the match right down the middle, it will be a disgrace to all former WWE Champions. That leads us to Survivor Series. John Cena shoves Barrett into an RKO. Cena is fired. The post match was actually a really cool moment. John Cena goes through the crowd, clapping hands with each and every fan. Cena works his way back to the top of the ramp, salutes the fans, then leaves. It could have all ended here. Let Cena take some time off. Let the fans have some time away from Cena. Randy Orton can have a chance to carry things while Cena is away. The company has a chance to build some heels for Cena to mow down when he returns. He can make a not so surprising entrance into the Royal Rumble. But that’s not the way it happened.
The next night on Raw, Wade Barrett allows John Cena to give a goodbye speech to the WWE Universe. It was a fun, emotional moment. We aren’t off the tracks just yet. That same night, Wade Barrett gets a rematch with Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. Nexus jumps Orton earlier in the night. Wade Barrett appears to be cruising to victory when John Cena jumps him from out of the crowd and celebrates his attack with the Cenation. Seconds later, Miz cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase but thats a story for later.
Apparently, John Cena makes all of the house shows during the week under a hood as Juan Cena, John’s Mexican cousin. When word of this leaks online, any suspension of disbelief is out the window. In many ways, this is the story of Cena’s run. Why can’t this guy take some time off? Maybe half the audience wouldn’t have so viciously turned against John Cena if he had taken a little time off every now and again. All of the greats gave us a break. Hogan. Bret. Shawn. Undertaker. Cena still making house shows really reinforced the idea that this guy is being shoved down our throats whether we like it or not. Additionally, this company thinks we’re stupid. Obviously, John Cena hasn’t been fired from anything.
To further prove the point that Cena is very much not fired, the next week on Raw, Cena is seen jumping members of the Nexus in the back, cutting promos backstage, and running in on matches. CM Punk comments that for a guy who is fired, he sure is getting a lot of TV time. This doesn’t help sell the storyline but Punk is only saying what we are all thinking. This story will continue into the next month. Talk about cutting the balls off the Nexus. This gang of heels get their way and John Cena is fired. Somehow, they come out looking weaker than ever.
A Whirlwind Month.
Miz has a very interesting November. The month starts with him menacing Pee Wee Herman and having to face Big Show who was dressed as Pee Wee. The next week Raw is in England. Miz teams with his hated rival Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton to fight back against the threat of the Nexus. They are unsuccessful to say the least. The opening segment of Old School Raw is on the plain black platform they used to do interviews from. Wade Barrett comes out to threaten “The Ace Cowboy” Bob Orton, who is wearing a cast on his arm still. Miz comes out to also threaten Bob Orton but also let Wade Barrett know that the Money in the Bank briefcase is just waiting to get cashed in and Miz doesn’t care who the champion is. Miz was supposed to face John Cena that night but Alex Riley fills in his place. It is as ugly as you imagine.
The night after Survivor Series, Randy Orton survives his rematch with Wade Barrett. John Cena runs in with an assist and goes to celebrate with his fans, letting us know he will never be gone. Orton’s leg took a hell of a beating from Nexus and Wade Barrett during the match. And here comes Miz with his Money in the Bank briefcase. Orton puts up a hell of a fight. There is a fair amount of drama as to whether this will be the first failed MITB cash in. Randy Orton can hit the RKO from out of nowhere and he isn’t nearly as weak as Miz would have originally believed. Ultimately, Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale and is the new WWE Champion. His reaction is one of the most genuine reaction to winning a championship I have ever seen. The fans reaction is just as genuine. The moment is immortalized by the Angry Demon Miz Girl, picture posted up above. There are few true heels that can generate that kind of reaction. But things are about to get strange for our new Champion.
The next week, Miz has a celebration for his big title win. It boils down to ‘I told you so.’ Miz is interrupted by Jerry “The King” Lawler, of all people. Lawler points out that Miz won the title from a man who had already been beaten up by 7 people. After some banter, the Raw GM declares Miz will face Jerry Lawler in a TLC Match for the WWE Championship. The match is very competitive, which is really bad optics for our new champion. The new top heel is on the verge of losing his Championship to an elderly announcer when Michael Cole gets involved and costs Jerry Lawler the WWE Title. Years of building Miz as a truly hated heel and Main Event level talent is flushed down the toilet in less than a week. Miz really rose to the occasion to be a top heel in this company with his work in 2010. Almost immediately, he nearly loses to an announcer. The perception that Miz has no business holding that title is fairly well cemented. He will get a decent run out of it but none of these needed to happened. In next month, I will go into more depth about lousy heel title runs in 2010. This was just another example right next to Jack Swagger’s failed run as champion.
When Bret Hart won the WWE Championship from Ric Flair at a house show in 1992, it was shocking for everyone watching at the time. We were used to larger than life characters like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, and Randy Savage in that top spot. Bret Hart was seen as an Intercontinental level guy. It probably wasn’t until WrestleMania X when the audience finally accepted that Bret had arrived as a Main Eventer. Imagine if you will, how much more difficult it would have been for Bret if he had won the title from Flair by sneaking up behind The Nature Boy with a briefcase, cracking him in the back of the head, and cashing in a Money in the Bank contract? Then, to really get Bret over they make his first televised title match against Lord Alfred Hayes. And to really solidify Bret as a champion, he damn near loses to Lord Al but only gets saved when Sean Mooney interferes on Bret’s behalf. Would Bret have ever been taken seriously after that? Because that is pretty much what they just did with The Miz. Miz has had a hell of a career. He deserves Top 40 consideration on everyone’s list, in my estimation. But idiotic booking decisions such as this is one of the reasons this company has such a hard time getting anyone over.
The High King of Ireland.
Sheamus caps off a successful 2010 in grand fashion. Last month, Sheamus lost in an upset to Santino Marella with some help from John Morrison. The next week, Sheamus gets a small measure of revenge by beating Santino’s tag team partner Vladimir Kozlov in an unspectacular match. Sheamus is about to get his hands on Santino but Morrison comes to the rescue again. On the Raw in England, Santino is yucking it up with one of his patented comedy segments. Sheamus comes out and issues a challenge. Sheamus wins by DQ when John Morrison once again gets involved. On Old School Raw, Santino and Kozlov sing the Russian National Anthem with The Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff. Santino and Kozlov then earn a Tag Team Title Match by beating The Usos who are accompanied by Jimmy Snuka. After the match, Sheamus comes to get some of Santino. John Morrison runs off Sheamus and challenges him to a match at Survivor Series. Morrison wins an excellent match but for The Celtic Warrior, there will be another day. After Survivor Series, it is announced that there will be a King of the Ring tournament to end the month. Qualifying Matches begin immediately. Sheamus defeats R Truth to qualify. The next week, Sheamus faces Kofi Kingston in the first round and wins a pretty good match. Sheamus advances to the finals with a bye when Drew McIntyre and Ezekiel Jackson go to a double countout. On the other side of the bracket, John Morrison defeats freshly minted heel Tyson Kidd in a qualifier. Kidd is a heel because they tell us he is and now he scowls all the time. John Morrison then defeats Cody Rhodes in the first round. It was not as good a match as it could have been. Then Morrison defeats Alberto Del Rio with some help from Rey Mysterio. Del Rio had cost Mysterio his qualifying match so now they are even. The King of the Ring finals is down to Sheamus and John Morrison. They have one of the better matches of the month. Sheamus stands tall in the end, getting back his win from Survivor Series. Sheamus is crowned King of the Ring, joining many luminaries from the past. We will have to see what is in store for the reign of King Sheamus next month.
Millions of Dollars.
Goldust is still carrying around the Million Dollar belt. His new wife, Aksana, reveals herself to have been using Goldust all long. Partially so she can stay in the country and partially because she loves the Million Dollar belt. On Raw, Ted DiBiase Jr has another in a long series of matches with Goldust. Ted gets the win and Maryse grabs the belt and heads for the exit. Aksana attacks Maryse and the belt remains in Goldust’s possession. On the Old School Raw, a weird segment takes place backstage with several Legends. Somewhere in the mix, Aksana appears with the Million Dollar belt. Goldust takes it from her and gives it back to it’s rightful owner, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. DiBiase offers it back to Junior but Ted Jr has his eyes on other gold. He attacks Daniel Bryan, setting up a US Title Match for Survivor Series. If this isn’t Ted Jr’s best match, it has to be pretty close. Daniel Bryan gets the win and that ,as they say, is that. For what it’s worth, Ted Jr and Maryse still have an icy relationship and seem to be on the verge of breaking up, which has been the case since they got together in May.
And The Rest.
I previously mentioned Santino and Kozlov earning a WWE Tag Team Title Match against current Champions, Heather Slater and Justin Gabriel, at Survivor Series. It’s worth mentioning that Santino and Kozlov were unable to capture the championships.
On the Old School Raw, Tony Atlas offers some long winded words of encouragement to The Hart Dynasty, who have been breaking up for a couple of months on Superstars. They have a WWE Tag Team Title Match against Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel. During the course of the match, Tyson Kidd nails DH Smith in the face and walks away, leaving Smith to the tender mercies of the Nexus.
Similar to Raw, Smackdown meanders for the first half of the month then really picks up steaming going into Survivor Series. They seem really stuck on the Rey Mysterio vs Alberto Del Rio feud for lack of any better plans with either guy. Kane has really lost any sense of purpose with The Undertaker not around. Edge is quite amusing in his angle in which he has kidnapped Paul Bearer. At the same time, are we really that excited to see our top babyface abuse a rotund, elderly manager? Paul Bearer is still Paul Bearer. I don’t know how to feel about him getting slapped around while tied to a wheel chair. The Reks Express has stalled out pulling out of the garage. One would think that after being put on the Bragging Rights team for his debut thay Tyler Reks would be getting a big push. So far, not so much. The end of the year malaise is hitting Smackdown worse than Raw and it is noticeable.
Rated R Kidnapping
The month starts innocently enough. With Edge and Alberto Del Rio getting jumped by Nexus during a match. Wade Barrett is already in England visiting family, which is where Raw and Smackdown will be next week. So this attack was all David Otunga’s idea. So later that night Nexus will face a team captained by Edge. Edge teams with Albero Del Rio, who walked out on the Smackdown Bragging Rights team, World Heavyweight Champion Kane, who Edge will face at Survivor Series, then rounding out the squad is Kofi Kingston and The Big Show. To the surprise of no one, Alberto Del Rio walks out on the team and Kane attacks Edge. Edge’s response to this attack is perfectly rational. He kidnaps Paul Bearer while Kane is having a match against Big Show on the Smackdown from England. Edge will keep Paul in his custody for the rest of the month and beyond. This begs the question as to how Edge smuggled Paul Bearer back into the United States from England. No matter. Edge spends several segments the next week tormenting Paul Bearer who is tried to a wheelchair. He pelts Paul with soccer balls. Edge dumps food on Paul’s, smothering him with it. Kane tries desperately to track down Paul Bearer but he is always a step behind.
This brings us to Survivor Series. Kane and Edge have a much better match than you’re imagining. Especially with no gimmicks involved. The problem is, Edge has kidnapped Kane’s storyline father and has been tormenting him for two weeks. Why is Kane trying to wrestle this man? Most people aren’t going for an arm bar on someone who has kidnapped their dad. As a wrestling match though, it was quite good. The finish leaves something to be desired as it ends with a double pin. This could have been the best match of the month without the wonky finish.
Edge continues to have Kane chase him through buildings in the following weeks. Edge sets up elaborate traps to trick Kane. In one example, he has a dummy of Paul Bearer in a wheelchair get hit by a car. This fools Kane for a moment until Edge drives off with the real Paul Bearer in his car. What must it have been like making towns with Paul Bearer tied up next to you the whole time? Never once did a hotel detective find it odd that Edge was rooming with a gagged man tied up in a wheelchair?
The Neverending Story.
Since Bragging Rights, there hasn’t been a lot of interaction between Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio. On the November 5th Smackdown, Rey was supposed to be teaming with Edge, Del Rio, Kane, and Big Show to take on the Nexus. But the Nexus jump Rey in the back. You really can’t blame that on Del Rio. Next week from England, Rey runs in after Del Rio has had an excellent match with Kofi Kingston. Rey and ADR duel on the mics for a bit but it’s nothing spectacular.
Two days before Survivor Series, with few other options on the table, its announced that this year’s traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Match will feature teams captained by Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio. They will face each other on the November 19th Smackdown but it ends quickly when all of their Survivor Series partners get involved. To save the nights Main Event, Teddy Long makes a 10 Man Battle Royal with all of the men who will be in the 5-on-5 Survivor Series Match. That brings us to Survivor Series. Alberto Del Rio, Cody Rhodes, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, and Tyler Reks vs Rey Mysterio, The Big Show, Kofi Kingston, MVP, and Chris Masters. It’s really nice to see Chris Masters gets on Pay Per View. Rey Mysterio and Big Show are the Survivors. Drew McIntyre ends up as the last member of Team Del Rio and I couldn’t help but feel for him. He didn’t pick this fight but here he is, left in a 2-on-1 situation. Rey has won the battle but the war will rage on.
On the November 26th Smackdown, King of the Ring qualifying matches are help. Alberto Del Rio advances to the next round with a countout win over The Big Show. Rey Mysterio, however, would be cost his chance at becoming King of the Ring due to ADR’s outside interference in his match with Cody Rhodes. Rey would have his revenge though. In the semifinals, Del Rio faced John Morrison. They were putting together a decent little match. Alberto had an advantage going when the horn started honking on his luxury car by the entrance. And who should pop up from the sun roof but Rey Mysterio. This distraction was all Morrison needed to secure the victory and advance to the finals.
Last month I failed to cover LayCool’s feud with Natalya. LayCool is one of the most entertaining acts on either show during this period of time. The matches they are featured in aren’t necessarily great. But their segments are enjoyable. For all things LayCool, I refer you to two articles written by Stacey O’Loughlin 4 years ago for the original GWWE and GWWE Tag Team project. Not to punt my work off to someone else but she covered LayCool better than I ever could.
In October, LayCool were bullying Natalya, mostly in regards to her family, i.e. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Natalya stoically takes their abuse. She will let her talking be done in the ring. That approach did very little for her at Bragging Rights were she lost to Layla by less than honest means. For November, Natalya is going to have to face both Layla and Michelle McCool in a handicap match. Against these impossible odds, Natalya rises to the occasion and captures the WWE Divas Championship. Post match is going to be tough for Natalya, as she is outnumbered. Just then, Beth Phoenix comes back from injury and rides to the rescue. This will set up for a tag team match with Beth Phoenix and Natalya vs LayCool for TLC in December.
“Next Breakout Star”
We are about to close the book on Kaval’s WWE run pretty soon here. It’s been close to 3 months since Kaval won NXT Season 2. The closest thing he has to a win is lasting 5 minutes with The Big Show. That’s a far cry from what Wade Barrett has been doing since he won NXT. Things are looking up for Kaval though. He gets his first proper win against Dolph Ziggler in a non title match on the November 19th Smackdown. Since Kaval was promised a title match as part of winning NXT, he decides to challenge Dolph for the Intercontinental Championship at Survivor Series. Unfortunately, Kaval is unable to win the Intercontinental Championship. Thanks to some underhanded tactics, Dolph retains his title. By this time next month Kaval will receive his walking papers. Whether WWE did Kaval wrong or he just didn’t fit in with WWE is a matter of opinion. I will say there is a trend of people who win NXT or Tough Enough not going on to stardom. Usually one of the runners up will pan out to be a star or at least a major player. Kaval was neither in WWE.
Hornswoggle gets a burnt turkey from Rosa Mendez on Thanksgiving. Hornswoggle had really worked up an appetite. At the same time, Jack Swagger is dressing down the Soaring Eagle for not being there for Swagger or something. Hornswoggle grabs his bow and arrow then tries to eat the Soaring Eagle. I was tickled by this segment. Chavo does a good job expressing emotion in the costume and its amusing to see him get beat up. I don’t know how many people are considering Hornswoggle for their GWWE 100. He got a lot of screen time during his run which is more than most people can say.
NXT Season 3.
Kaitlyn wins NXT Season 3. It should have been Naomi. I have soured on NXT as a game show. Perhaps I will return to this when it becomes its own third brand in 2012. I just can’t take any more obstacle courses and corn ball comedy.
- Sheamus vs John Morrison. King of the Ring Finals. Raw. 11/29/10.
- Kane vs Edge. Survivor Series.
- Cody Rhodes vs Kofi Kingston. Smackdown. 11/19/10.
- MVP vs Cody Rhodes vs Drew McIntyre. Number One Contenders for Intercontinental Title Triple Threat Match. Smackdown. 11/5/10.
- Kofi Kingston vs Jack Swagger. Smackdown. 11/26/10
- Daniel Bryan vs Ted DiBiase Jr. Survivor Series.
- Sheamus vs Kofi Kingston. Raw. 11/29/10.
- Daniel Bryan vs Jack Swagger. Raw. 11/15/10.
- Sheamus vs John Morrison. Survivor Series.
- Alberto Del Rio vs Kofi Kingston. Smackdown. 11/12/10.
- Team Rey Mysterio vs Team Alberto Del Rio. Survivor Series.
- Wade Barrett vs Randy Orton. John Cena as Special Guest Referee. Survivor Series.
- The Miz vs Randy Orton. Money in the Bank Cash In. Raw. 11/29/10.