As a personal note, the theme song for Fatal 4 Way was Showstopper by Toby Mac. If you are familiar with the current works of Toby Mac, then you would understand just how jarring that was when watching back this footage. He is the last person I expected to be associated with 2010 WWE.
Going into the summer of 2010, WWE is clearly looking to do test some concepts and try some different things going forward. This will be the only year they do Fatal 4 Way as a pay per view. Next month, Money in the Bank will be a pay per view event instead of a match at WrestleMania. They bring in 7 of the NXT guys, Daniel Bryan unfortunately gets fired. They hope that one or two of them will stick. Vignettes for Alberto Del Rio begin running on Smackdown at the end of the month. A new crop of NXT rookies will kick off Season Two of that show. So efforts are being made to spice things up a bit and hopefully address some of the holes at the top of the roster.
Raw is pretty well dominated by the Nexus storyline. The 8 NXT Rookies show up at the 6/7 Raw during the main event between John Cena and CM Punk. They attack everyone at ringside. The footage of Daniel Bryan choking out Justin Roberts with his tie has been altered by The Network, instead going to a different camera shot. For that action, Daniel Bryan gets fired. The NXT Season One Rookies tear the ring down and wreck everything in their path. All 8 ganging up on John Cena while he struggles like a gazelle teamed up on by a pride of lions is some excellent imagery. Punk and Gallows are not spared either. The crowd was absolutely beside themselves. They hit the ball out of the park on this angle. For the entire month of June, the Nexus (not named as such until the end of the month) looms over everything that happens on the show.
Also, Bret Hart will be fired as Raw GM. He will be replaced by an anonymous General Manager who will communicate his demands through a computer set up next to Michael Cole. It will someday be revealed that Hornswoggle is the anonymous GM. It’s fun to keep that in mind when he issues his long winded decrees. Given some of the orders the anonymous GM issues, Hornswoggle should have made some very powerful enemies when he was revealed as the anonymous GM.
Ride It Straight To Hell.
The participants for the WWE Championship Fatal 4 Way are established fairly early on. John Cena will be entering as our defending champion. Randy Orton and Edge will be bringing their feud into this match, each hoping to capture the Championship and best their rival. Sheamus hasn’t been doing much lately aside from crowing about the way he put Triple H on the shelf at WrestleMania and attacking people from behind. The Nexus become a major focus of this Championship Match. They get on the bad side of John Cena when they make a statement by beating him down. On the same show, earlier in the night Edge is supposed to face Randy Orton in a arm tied behind his back challenge. Edge undoes the bindings and just beats Orton down.
Bret Hart fires the 7 remaining members or the Nexus. It is said Daniel Bryan has been run off by the group because he felt bad about attacking everyone on Raw. The Raw Roster all rally together on the 6/14 Raw, beating back the invasion by The Nexus and standing up for everyone’s favorite person, John Cena. With the Nexus gone forever, Sheamus teams with Edge to face Orton and John Cena in the night’s main event. This goes to a no contest when the Nexus kidnap Bret Hart and stick him in the back of a limo then crash it into different vehicles in the parking lot.
The cloud of the Nexus hangs heavy over the Fatal 4 Way for the WWE Championship. The Nexus attacks. In all the chaos, somehow Sheamus and the referee are spared. Sheamus sneaks into the ring and pins John Cena who was just beat down by 7 people. The Nexus are pissed they accidentally helped out Sheamus, who takes off like a theft in the night. Sheamus takes a moment to celebrate in the entrance way and they chase him into the back. Sheamus is aware he doesn’t deserve the Championship given the circumstances of the match. But he will be happy to take it. At Money In The Bank, he will face John Cena in a Steel Cage Match to prevent any outside interference.
On the 6/28 Raw, the anon GM declares that tonight The Nexus can’t touch anyone and no WWE Superstar can touch them. But the GM said nothing about WWE Legends. Ricky Steamboat has a ceremony to announce his new DVD that is coming out. He is honored by Jerry Lawler, Dean Malenko, Michael PS Hayes, Mike Rotunda, and Arn Anderson. The Nexus come down and beat down the Legends. One last despicable act to end the month.
Never Gonna Stop Now.
Randy Orton and Edge get lost in the shuffle going into the Fatal 4 Way. With the Nexus attacking and all of the build to that title match, there isn’t a lot of interaction between Edge and Orton. They cut some promos on each other. There is the one arm tied behind Edge’s back match and a tag match with the other Fatal 4 Way participants. After Fatal 4 Way, Miz calls out Randy Orton for seemingly no reason. It was a set up so that Edge can spear Orton. Shortly thereafter it is revealed that both Edge and Orton will be in the Raw Money in the Bank Match at the Money in the Bank Pay Per View.
On 6/28 Raw we see the weirdest guest host segment and this one has stuck with me through the years. Rob Zombie comes to the ring and Edge appears on the Tron. I get the sense that Rob Zombie wanted to guest host Raw just so he could tell Edge to piss off for using one of his songs as entrance music in 2003. Edge cuts a promo on Randy Orton and Money in the Bank but it still struck me as really weird that Rob Zombie just came here to publicly state he did not approve of Edge using his music seven years prior.
It Must Be The Shoes.
Chris Jericho is having a disappointing losing streak going back to the previous month. To start the month off, Jericho faces Big Show in a Bodyslam Challenge. Big Show wins that pretty easy. The next week, Jericho gets disqualified when Evan “Air” Bourne kicks out of the Code Breaker and Jericho puts the boots to him well past the count of 5. They have a rematch at Fatal 4 Way in which Evan Bourne wins, setting Jericho off. The next night on Raw, we get a third match and Jericho finally wins, ending his losing streak. The third is probably the best of the three matches.
On the 6/14 Raw, Mark Feurestein from the USA “hit” show Royal Pains guest hosts Raw along with The Big Show, who is a guest star on that show. Big Show is really good in these segments. One way in which Big Show has always excelled was as an ambassador for the company and a representative in situations like this. Ted DiBiase Jr barges into the room and makes some demands. The result is a tag match with Big Show and Mark Feuerstein vs Ted Jr and Virgil. Virgil eats the pin from our guest host. The next week Ted Jr fired Virgil in favor of Maryse. Virgil asks the legit question of what he is going to do for protection. Aside from me liking the pairing of Ted Jr and Virgil, I would like to ask you, the reader, this question. When it comes to someone to be at ringside with you, put the boots to your opponent when they are outside the ring, slide you a steel chair, nail your opponent with brass nucks, who would you rather have, Virgil or Maryse? And if Ted is so rich, why couldn’t he have both?
The US Title.
Last month, R Truth beat The Miz for the US Championship. As a teaser for the Fatal 4 Way concept, a Fatal 4 Way Match for the US Title takes place on Raw. The Miz beats R Truth, John Morrison, and Zack Ryder to recapture the Championship. At Fatal 4 Way, R Truth has a chance at a one on one rematch with The Miz. Miz raps his way to the ring, copying R Truth’s music. He forgets his lyrics and struggles to keep a straight face while the crowd starts riding him, getting a sense that things have gone wrong. But life is looking up for The Miz as he defeats R Truth in this rematch. To make matters better, Miz is selected to participate in the Raw Money in the Bank Match at the Money in the Bank pay per view. In a six man tag match between the six established thus far MITB entrants, Miz teams with Chris Jericho and Ted DiBiase Jr to face Randy Orton, Evan Bourne, and John Morrison. Orton and company win the match but in the aftermath a ladder gets in the ring and Miz decides to make a statement by climbing it and going for the Money in the Bank briefcase hanging above the ring for some reason. Orton cuts him off and sends Miz flying. Orton stands tall utop the ladder with the briefcase in hand, much to the joy of the capacity crowd. A possible preview of what we will see at the pay per view.
In other news in the world of The Miz, he has a new rookie for season two of NXT, Alex Riley. Riley is a more agreeable rookie than Daniel Bryan. Miz is still a harsh mentor.
Santino and Kozlov
For some reason, Santino is still insistent on recruiting Vladimir Kozlov as his tag team partner. William Regal insists on remaining Kozlov’s tag partner. Kozlov defeats Santino in a match where the stipulation is that if Santino wins Kozlov will have to be his partner. Kozlov wins. Regal comes down to the ring and puts the boots to Santino. Kozlov runs Regal off and teams with Santino anyway. The combined match time and star rating for these segments over the course of the month is well under 5.
The Divas Title.
Alicia Fox captures the Divas Title at Fatal 4 Way, defeating champion Eve Torres, Gail Kim, and Maryse. To build for this match, the Divas are featured in various tag matches. A storyline on Superstars spills over into one of these matches as Alicia teams with Primo against Eve and The Great Khali. If you took the total match time and star ratings for these segments in the month, I don’t know what would be higher. I don’t want to be too hard on the Divas. They went out and did what they were asked. In determining the Greatest WWE wrestler of all time, these Divas matches are useful in pointing out just how far women’s wrestling has come since. If you watch all of the Divas action in the month of June on Raw, then compare it to the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Title matches at the most recent WrestleMania. Becky Lynch vs Bianca Belair might have been the best match at Night One of WrestleMania. Charlotte Flair vs Ronda Rowsey was also excellent. The training, athletism, and focus on creating a better in ring product is so much greater now, its as good as the best stuff on the 2010 WWE Men’s roster, either show. Some food for thought when putting your list together.
Whereas Raw is capturing the imagination of the wrestling world with a realistic invasion storyline, Smackdown is going with something more supernatural. The focus on top of the card is Kane trying to find out who put The Undertaker in a vegetative state. A memorable storyline for different reasons than the Nexus invasion.
This month is a great time for heel work on both shows. Drew McIntyre really turns a corner in what he is doing. CM Punk is always excellent. Kane does his best with his promo work to really sell the story. I don’t know if anyone else could have delivered this material with a straight face. When bad guys get to be bad, few things can be better.
Kane: The Night Stalker.
We receive word from Teddy Long that over the Memorial Day weekend, The Undertaker was found in a vegetative state by his brother Kane. That means there will be an opening in the Fatal 4 Way for the World Heavyweight Championship. Kane immediately vows revenge on whoever is responsible for what happened to the Undertaker.
Rey Mysterio wins a Battle Royal to get the open spot for the Fatal 4 Way Match, last eliminating Kane. This immediately makes him a prime suspect.
Kane moves his investigation to Raw to blame Sheamus for what happened to Undertaker. Sheamus’ gimmick is attacking people from behind so it makes sense he would attack Undertaker. Sheamus points out he only attacks people from behind in public. They have a match and Sheamus runs for the hills, which must have been good enough for Kane to clear Sheamus as a suspect.
Kane’s focus turns to all four of the Fatal 4 Way participants on Smackdown. Jack Swagger continues to get over as World Heavyweight Champion by losing all the time in good matches on TV. CM Punk professes his innocence, saying “this is the face of an innocent man.” from behind his mask. Punk brings out Luke Gallows as The Undertaker to mock Kane, which was unwise. The same night, Kane attacks Punk, Swagger, Big Show, and Rey Mysterio as the go home spot for Fatal 4 Way.
Kane interrupts the Fatal 4 Way Match for the World Heavyweight Championship, focusing pretty heavy on Punk as a target. Rey Mysterio gets the win, mercifully ending the Jack Swagger title reign.
Swagger wants his belt back. So he becomes Number One contenders by losing to Big Show by DQ when he won’t let go of an Ankle Lock. The next week, he does the same thing to Rey, hurting Mysterio’s ankle going into their big match.
For Punk, he tries to pled his innocence to The Big Red Machine but Kane is having none of it. No one man could have taken out The Undertaker. Kane never suspects the Nexus, which is its own kind of curious. Punk faces Kane on the 6/25 Smackdown. The matches doesn’t amount to much as Gallows and the Masked Assailant who is a mystery member of the Straight Edge Society attack Kane. Kane beats both of them and gets Punk all to himself. Punk takes a beating and has to flee the building, into the streets to get away from Kane.
Drew McIntyre takes a huge step forward this month. Matt Hardy gets suspended for feuding with Drew McIntyre, per the orders of Mr. McMahon. Matt gets a small measure of revenge when the fans voted him to face Drew McIntyre on Raw for the Viewers Choice Night. Because Teddy Long keeps doing his job and punishing Drew McIntyre for his various crimes against Kofi Kingston and Matt Hardy. You keep his job, Teddy Long will have to face Drew McIntyre in a match on Smackdown. If Teddy doesn’t show up or anyone gets involved, there will be some firings happening. Drew completely humiliates Teddy Long, forcing him on his hands and knees, making him say embarrassing things, reducing Teddy Long to tears. This segment is absolute money. It’s great heel work from Drew. How could anyone not want to see him get his ass kicked after this? Matt Hardy jumps the guard rails and goes after Drew McIntyre. Security holds him back while Drew gets in some cheap shots. Just a cherry on this delicious heel sundae. Drew is rewarded for his crimes with an Intercontinental Title Match against Kofi Kingston at Fatal 4 Way. Mr. McMahon leaves the building in his limo before the match. When the ref gets bumped in the match, Drew gets the idea of forcing Teddy Long to put on a referee shirt and count the 3 on an unconscious Kofi Kingston. Teddy refuses to give the win to Drew. Matt Hardy rides to the rescue and Kofi makes a comeback. When Mr. McMahon gets attacked by the Nexus, Drew loses his main source or support. Teddy reinstates Matt Hardy on the 6/25 Smackdown and he will face Drew McIntyre that night. They have the best TV match of the year so far. Matt Hardy gets the win. It was an excellent match for both parties. Finally, Drew showed the talent that demonstrates why he is considered a future World Champion. Matt Hardy hasn’t done much all year aside from getting attacked. This match showed that he still has a lot left to offer this company. If there is one match you watch that I recommend, make it this match. After the match, Teddy Long informs Drew that his visa has expired and Teddy has him deported back to Scotland.
Dolph “Love” Vickie
Dolph Ziggler starts a relationship with Vickie Guerrero to advance his own career. He does her bidding, which usually involves losing to Christian. Also, he runs afoul of Chavo Guerrero, who very much wants to be Vickie’s henchmen. Dolph is using her to get into the Intercontinental Title picture. I have to say Dolph is aiming pretty low here. Shouldn’t he try using her for the World Heavyweight Championship? This is a beat for beat rehash of when Edge used Vickie Guerrero for his own means in 2007 and 2008. That wasn’t very long ago. Shouldn’t Vickie be somewhat suspicious of any worker who wants to be romantically involved with her? It never really comes up.
And The Rest.
Kelly Kelly gets wins over both of Laycool. Laycool respond by calling her Smelly Kelly. They are also using their NXT Rookie Kaval to carry their belts and wear embarrassing shirts. Curt Hawkins and Vance Archer earn themselves long term contracts on Smackdown. They get a little push here, winning matches on TV. JTG has an inexplicable winning streak even though he isn’t in a program. The chatter online was Cryme Tyme was broken up to give Shad a push but he hasn’t been seen on TV. JTG keeps winning but what is the plan for him? They also have no plan for MVP but he remains wildly over. MVP serves a role of getting plugged into wherever they need him on a show to face whoever they need him to face, whether on a singles or tag match. There is a certain Tito Santana vibe to his role on Smackdown.
To start out of the month, Wade Barrett becomes the winner of NXT Season 1. I think it’s worth while to review the members of the Nexus and my impressions of them from this show.
Wade Barrett was the obvious pick to win this show from the lens of what WWE is looking for in a talent. He has the look, the size, the personality, the promo, and a good enough workrate for what WWE wants. Wade is likely the most ready to immediately contribute to the roster on Raw or Smackdown. He really needs a different finisher.
The storyline of Daniel Bryan on the show is very much like it will play out in real life. He has all the skills to be a top star. It’s going to be a struggle to get WWE Management to see what everyone else in the world sees in this guy.
Heath Slater surprised me on this show. He is undersized but works bigger than his stature. Heath has a lot more personality than I remember him having early on. He was probably never going to be a top star but he has enough skill to be a solid mid card contributor. If he had another 4 inches and 20 lbs of muscle, I think the company would have taken him more seriously.
David Otunga has a lot of charisma and the Hollywood connections that WWE longs for. His in ring work is merely average. He likely needed more time to learn how to work and find out what he can do well in the ring before he is brought to the main roster.
Justin Gabriel is a good looking guy with a good looking 450. He would fit great into the old WCW Cruiserweight division. I don’t know where he will fit into WWE in 2010.
Skip Sheffield checks a lot of boxes for what WWE would like in a top guy on the roster. This character is going no where in a hurry. He works a fine big man style and an intensity in his promos that works for him. Skip needs a fresh coat of paint because dumb cowboy isn’t going to work for him.
Darren Young has a great look. He also looks so uncomfortable, both in ring and on camera. He probably needs to be somewhere on the indies where he can learn how to work and get comfortable in his own skin before he is WWE material. Darren Young could have used a program like OVW, where he is asked to draw money and be on local TV than FCW where those things weren’t really considerations.
Michael Tarver looks like a great athlete. I don’t know what he does well in terms of professional wrestling. He is just not ready for prime time.
Now going into Season 2, we get a whole new crop of rookies. The pros beat them all down after their first episode. MVP explains that they did this beat down to prevent them from doing what the Season 1 Rookies did when they took over Raw. It’s a strong promo. MVP is a stand out on this show.
There isn’t really a stand out this season. Whereas it became clear early on that Wade Barrett is what this company is looking for, no one from this group immediately jumps out at you.
Kaval will eventually win this thing. Ironically, he more represents what WWE dislikes about indie guys than Daniel Bryan ever did but Kaval gets more respect on this show. Other than being paired with LayCool. He has the indie street cred and high workrate. He is also not very charismatic and undersized.
Husky Harris is a third generation superstar and resembles Barry Windham more than he does Mike Rotunda. He’s more athletic than he looks. He has more personality with his expressions but hasn’t quite mastered promos yet. Harris needs to drop a little bit of weight and get a new name. The name is likely the biggest anchor around him in this competition.
Michael McGillicutty is just ok at everything. He looks ok. More like Larry the Ax than Mr Perfect. His in ring work is ok. There is a lot of room for improvement but he’s good enough for the opening match on Raw. His promos are ok. Nothing to write home about but better than most of his NXT competition. He names himself Michael McGillicutty to separate himself from his father and grandfather but at the same time always brings them up as do the announcers. It’s hard to not feel like he is riding on coat tails here.
Percy Watson has so much energy and such an over the top character, it’s hard to notice anything else about him. If he can focus that energy and tone down the character, Percy Watson definitely has something to be a contributing member of the main roster.
Eli Cottonwood is a fairly athletic 7 footer. Considering they have people like Great Khali and Big Show lumbering around, I’m surprised Eli Cottonwood didn’t go further in WWE.
Titus O’Neil doesn’t get much of a chance on this show. It seems his fate to be best known for tripping, maybe even more so than The Shockmaster. Titus O’Neil trips over the ring side mat during the keg carry challenge, very similar to how he tripped on his way to the ring at the Greatest Royal Rumble. He gets voted off NXT after like 3 weeks. I don’t know what the hurry was.
Lucky Cannon has an interesting backstory of getting beaten nearly to death in ring life and recovering to be on NXT. He looks as uncomfortable on this show as Darren Young was.
Alex Riley seems to be a natural heel. He has a long way to go in ring. But he has a ton of personality and is a great second for The Miz.
Not a lot happens on this show. The in ring work is merely OK. Lucky Cannon gets on the wrong side of Cody Rhodes and loses to Rhodes in a 5 minute beat the clock challenge. Cody Rhodes also attacks Matt Stryker and knocks him off the stage. Husky Harris also attacks Matt Stryker. The best match of the month on the show is probably MVP vs Husky Harris on 6/29 and it wasn’t good enough to make the monthly recommendations.
- Drew McIntyre vs Matt Hardy. Smackdown. 6/25.
- Drew McIntyre vs Kofi Kingston. Intercontinental Title Match. Fatal 4 Way.
- Teddy Long vs Drew McIntyre. Smackdown. 6/18. This match isn’t so much a match as an angle but it’s totally worth watching.
- Rey Mysterio vs Jack Swagger. Smackdown. 6/11.
- Drew McIntyre vs Kofi Kingston. Smackdown. 6/4.
- John Cena vs CM Punk. Raw. 6/7. Nexus Debuts.
- The Miz vs R Truth vs John Morrison vs Zack Ryder. US Title Fatal 4 Way Match. Raw. 6/14.
- Jack Swagger vs Big Show vs Rey Mysterio vs CM Punk. World Heavyweight Title Fatal 4 Way Match. Fatal 4 Way.
- Evan Bourne vs Chris Jericho. Raw. 6/21.
- Big Show vs Jack Swagger. Smackdown. 6/25.
- Jack Swagger vs MVP. Smackdown. 6/4.
- Edge and Sheamus vs John Cena and Randy Orton. Raw. 6/14.
- The Miz vs R Truth. US Title Match. Fatal 4 Way.