The WWE Money in the Bank match has produced some of the most exciting moments of the last ten years. The glorified ladder match features daredevil heroics, extreme punishment, and intense action. Today I look back and celebrate the top five Money in the Bank matches in WWE history.
I don’t think anyone realized in 2005 when the WWE announced the first Money in the Bank match the significance this match would have on wrestling history. Stars were made, history was written, and memories have been cemented forever thanks to this innovative match. With two new matches around the corner I thought today would be a great time to look back and count down the top matches in MITB history. Since we aren’t quite ten years into MITB I went with a top five as opposed to a top ten. Leave a comment if you agree, disagree, or want to mention your favorite Money in the Bank match memory.
Edge defeats Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, Chris Benoit, Christian and Kane – WrestleMania 21
I can’t think of another MITB match that was more exciting than the one at WrestleMania 21. I think the big difference here was that it was the first. The match just had more intensity and crowd emotion than any other due to the fact that nobody knew what to expect. The match was full of crazy spots that fans hadn’t seen before or lumped into one match. It is hard to replicate the element of surprise that the first match had at 21. Spots like the Benoit diving headbutt and Benjamin running up the ladder had fans stunned in amazement at this new kind of match.
Not that this should be part of the criteria but it also had the biggest impact in regards to elevating a star. Edge won and once he cashed in became an established WWE elite superstar for the rest of his career. No other winner has taken as much away from this match as Edge did in 2005.
Mr. Kennedy defeated CM Punk, Edge, Finlay, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, King Booker and Randy Orton – WrestleMania 23
I liked this match a lot and even though it was one of the longer MITB matches, it kept me interested from bell to bell. Edge and Orton bumped up the star presence here while the Hardys brought a ton of excitement to the match with the anticipation alone of what these guys would do in this environment. In terms of MITB moments, the spots between Jeff and Edge were some of the best in MITB history. Jeff’s jump on Edge is arguably the greatest spot in MITB history. What those guys did alone made this match great, yet it was a great effort from all back at 23, and the surprise winner in Kennedy was a nice touch.
CM Punk defeated Shelton Benjamin, Carlito, Chris Jericho, Mr. Kennedy, John Morrison and Montel Vontavious Porter – WrestleMania 24
I was surprised at how much I liked this match when I went back and watched all of the old MITB matches. On paper it looks pretty average but these guys went far beyond anything I expected going into the match. It did get a little spot-crazy at times but that is to be expected in such a match. Shelton Benjamin really stepped it up here and John Morrison was in his element, delivering a moonsault with a ladder in his hand at one point. Matt Hardy’s spectacular 20-foot Twist of Fate remains the highlight of this match for me.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, Alex Riley, R-Truth, The Miz, Evan Bourne and Jack Swagger – Money in the Bank 2011
I debated a bit about the four spot here but in the end I went with the RAW MITB match from last year’s memorable show in Chicago. This match delivered on a lot of levels with the guys going out of their way to give fans plenty of breathtaking memories. Between Evan Bourne’s shooting star press 20 feet in the air, The Miz falling off the ladder, Mysterio and Kofi’s double leap, and Rey Mysterio getting unmasked, this was one of the more fun Money in the Bank matches. The hot Chicago crowd certainly didn’t hurt this one from entering the top five either.
CM Punk defeated Shelton Benjamin, Christian, Finlay, Mark Henry, Kane, Kofi Kingston and Montel Vontavious Porter – WrestleMania 25
I struggled quite a bit with the final spot here. I went back and forth between this one, last year’s MITB match, and the SmackDown match from the Chicago 2011 pay per view. In the end, the MITB WrestleMania 25 match was just too good to leave off the list. Shelton Benjamis was the show stealer in this one giving fans some of the best spots of the night in this match. One moment in particular saw Benjamin leap off the ladder placed in the aisle onto his MITB opponents. Watching these MITB matches reminded me how good Benjamin was and had me wondering why he isn’t the WWE today! Kofi also had his moments, one in particular had Kofi deliver a kick through the side of the ladder and climb the ladder while it was closed. Another saw Kofi run up the ladder and fall into a World’s Strongest Slam. Christian also had his moment hitting an Unprettier to Punk off the ladder. This match had a lot of great moments and is often one of the more underrated matches of the MITB series.
-We are LIVE from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ on March 28, 2010 for WrestleMania XXVI. Well, not me. I’m inside a one story house with a decently-furnished living room in South Jersey that belongs to my brother Josh, and we’re joined by friends Dave and Rob for this historic evening. Funny that our childhood heroes are all wrestling: Undertaker for Rob, Bret Hart for Dave, Shawn Michaels for me, and Vince McMahon for Josh (don’t ask).
-It should be noted that my feelings on this show may change in six months, as I’m writing this while coming off of the fumes of adrenaline from having just watched the show live. It’s like on IMDb when the users go see a hit movie, and then all run home to vote “10″ on it immediately. So tune in this September when I re-review the show and go back on everything I said.
-Fantasia Barrino does America the Beautiful, although she’s merely billed as “Fantasia” on her title card. Good to see the rules of one-name WWE divas also apply to guest singers. You could apply this logic to any diva from American Idol: Fantasia, Kelly, Katherine, Carrie, Clay….
-Missed the opening video, because our food just arrived. Mmm, buffalo chicken wrap….
-I should note the ominous Aztec-ish tower that makes up the entrance way. Very chilling, in a sense. One year, they should have a giant wicker man at the entrance way. Then they can invite Nicholas Cage and attack him with bees. That’d just be epic.
- Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Matt Striker helm the desk this year. Presumably, Striker’s there to explain to Lawler what the storylines on Smackdown are. Hey look, the Spanish Announce Table’s back! You know what THIS means.
-The show kicks off with ShowMiz defending the Unified Tag Team Titles against John Morrison and R-Truth. I would assume that if Truth wanted a surefire tag team partner, he would have just gone with Pacman Jones, since Jones was undefeated in TNA. Besides, WWE can overplay the kiddie element and dress Big Show as one of the ghosts from the Pacman game and….alright, I’m rambling.
-They’re really rushing through this, which is the perils of a 10 match show with lots of downtime being squeezed into four hours. On an up note, at least The Miz made it onto the actual show this year. I’d think after a year of stabbing a Kid Rock voodoo doll with pins, he’s earned this showcase.
-After hearing the story that John Morrison went into some online chat and called John Cena a boring champion, I was ready to lay some odds on who was getting pinned. Will Justin be right?
-Big Show pins Morrison with the KO punch. Hey, Justin was right! Match was rushed, not even four minutes long. I think that was the fastest opener in WM history to be honest. Eh well, at least Miz got a chance to shine. He came to play, you know. Good to Show win a match at WrestleMania, since that happens about as often as TNA making through a show without production gaffes.
-AXXESS footage. Seeing Bret Hart at the annual WWE fan fest just seems….wrong.
-Next is the triple threat between the members of Legacy, they being Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, and Ted Dibiase. You know you’re the jobber of the group when you’re demoted from your normal theme song to a stock theme that you haven’t used in two years. Poor Cody Rhodes. His creamsicle go-go dancer look just isn’t going to cut it.
-This reads like a handicap match, as Rhodes and Dibiase are united against Orton, who, despite playing a borderline psychotic for about two years, gets the big face pop. Then again, the fans pop whenever a female heel gets beaten up, regardless of the who the attacker is. WWE: making antisocial behavior acceptable since 1958.
-Orton does his best to fend off both men, and the crowd’s getting kinda lukewarm to this. I think it’s partially because no one’s ever taken Rhodes and Dibiase seriously as heels, despite their great matches with DX last year.
-Legacy has a miscue on a high-low on Orton. Is it just me, or could Dibiase’s father have afforded to buy him some coordination and timing training? Dibiase’s about as awkward as a Fritz Von Erich Father’s Day card.
-Dibiase and Rhodes have the inevitable rift and have a fight outside the ring that vaguely resembles the slap fight that Will Ferrell and Bruce McCulloch had in the movie Dick. They were playing Woodward and Bernstein, which means that Orton better make like Ben Bradlee and interject himself before this thing falls apart.
-Orton spikes both of his former flunkies with the double rope hang DDT, which Cole has never seen before. Damn it, Cole, what were you doing at WrestleMania 24 during the Raw matches? Have a VINTAGE FLASHBACK and let me know.
-Punt for Cody, and an RKO for Dibiase ends it for Orton. Decent match, but it was hard to take Rhodes and Dibiase seriously as threats. Orton’s got the face momentum now, so it’ll be interesting to see where they go with it.
-We get a backstage segment involving Santino Marella where Mean Gene Okerlund winds up in a dress. I knew Mean Gene’s Burgers was a money pit, but how low WILL Okerlund stoop to recoup his lost funds? Call the hotline to find out!
-Next up, the sixth annual Money in the Bank ladder match, with ten, count em, ten participants: Christian, Kane, Matt Hardy (back to regular pants due to his waistline expansion), Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston (who did…..something…..with his hair), MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Drew McIntyre (thankfully without overdone entrance), Jack Swagger (only missing “Living in America” for his song), and Dolph Ziggler.
-Is there a kayfabe reason for Kane’s black eye? Or did he get accused of breaking up Randy Savage’s marriage to Miss Elizabeth?
-Match begins with a mad scramble up the ladders, looking like a TNA X Division match. Except in the X Division rendition of such a match, you’d have to hang the briefcase, pin 3 people, and then recite the alphabet backwards to win. Oh, TNA, you wacky innovators.
-Swagger, it occurs to me, looks like Charlie Haas if Haas was Corky on Life Goes On. I apologize to all mentally challenged people. I didn’t mean to compare you guys to Jack Swagger.
-Dolph messes up a Zig Zag off the ladder, and shortly after Kane powerbombs Kofi onto a leaning ladder. This is a rather ambitious MITB match, as we’re hoping to set a new standard for collective amount of nerve damage.
-In a swank spot, Swagger gets impaled under a ladder by Christian and Hardy wielding ladders, and Christian, Hardy, and Bourne try to climb, but Swagger manages to bring the tower down. Well, innovative, if nothing else.
-Kofi Kingston decides to top everyone by using a ladder that was broken in half, and tries to use it as a pair of stilts to walk toward the briefcase, but sadly it was not meant to be. Man, how high do you have to be to come up with THAT spot? Well, it IS Kofi….
-Kane and Hardy fight on the ladder, as I wonder if the hand of Lita is once again at stake between these two brooding Romeos. Christian helps Hardy take Kane out, and then Matt goes by the wayside, and Christian goes for the goods, but Swagger belts him with the briefcase, before taking forever to unhinge it and….gets the win? If you had Swagger in your pre-show prediction list, congratulations you LIAR. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes. My guess is he’s going to try to get his ECW Title back from Ezekiel Jackson in a match that would kick off just about any decent edition of Smackdown. Great spots, but lacking connection. Still, I loved it.
-I’d like to thank Drew McIntyre for his 48 seconds of participation. No wonder the office has faith in him.
-The Hall of Famers get their due: Stu Hart, Wendy Richter, Mad Dog Vachon, Antonio Inoki, Bob Uecker, Gorgeous George, and Ted Dibiase. The viewing party is convinced that Stu’s actually still alive, and just made sure that Smith Hart went to the ceremony just to get him out of the house so he can change the locks. It’s a good theory as any.
-By the way, Howard Finkel…..#26! Go Howard!
-Triple H and Sheamus is next, and Hunter’s entrance is longer than the opening match. Take that Morrison, you entrenched midcarder, you. Lawler mentions that losing at WrestleMania to Triple H has the power to change your life for the worse. Finally, Lawler and Booker T can agree on something.
-Triple H manages to slap on a figure four, and Michael Cole even talks about how Hunter learned that from Ric Flair. He can say Flair’s name?!? I think Vince is too busy warming up, so Jim Ross is on headset feeding these things to Cole and is trying to get him fired.
-Sign in the crowd: “HHH FEARS DIVORCE”. Why, wouldn’t he want custody of Lucy, the chronically crapping dog?
-Just before Triple H hits Sheamus with a face-to-knee buster, a fan screams “FACE BUSTER!”. It’s like that TV show Early Edition, except people under 35 are actually watching this match. Crowd’s really divided too, which is a bit shocking, since they haven’t booked Sheamus right. Maybe it’s all just sympathy cheers? Maybe.
-Sheamus manages to land the pump kick, but it’s not enough, as Hunter rallies with the Pedigree to win. Decent match, even if the Great Satan did win. Maybe Hunter should put his career on the line against Taker’s streak next year. Wait, no, then Taker won’t have a streak left! Think, Justin, think. Don’t make rash suggestions like that!
-I truly think Sheamus’ next step is to form a tag team with Rikishi called Potato Salad. The kids will love it!
-Slim Jim ad, which features the two kids turning into ninjas. Were they the same ninjas who kidnapped Samoa Joe on camera? Tune into Impact and find out!
-CM Punk and Rey Mysterio is next, and Punk preaches on the way to the ring. Always a good listen. Rey’s costume du jour: Avatar. But if he was truly Avatar, wouldn’t he be engaged to Tiffany and display no sense of human emotion whatsoever? I know, I’m mean.
-Rey gets caught in a tree of woe, but Punk slides in and winds up splattering his crotch against the ring post. Punk would regain the upper hand, however, and cover Rey for what should have been a three count, if not for a timing miscue. Crowd’s starting to die off a bit, which is a growing trend for these stadium events. If you’re not a real fan and you’re not into the characters, then maybe you just shouldn’t go. Hey, if I plunk down hundreds of dollars on a ticket, I’m gonna be screaming during Zack Ryder vs. Santino Marella, ok?
-Where was I? Ah yes, Punk nails Rey with a sick roundhouse kick. Always good to hear the sound of boot on vinyl mask.
-Rey manages to springboard off the ropes and land a DDT on Punk, although it was botched as Punk’s head got flattened too much. They show it on replay twice, and Lawler comments on how “beautiful” it was. Hey, if the man thinks that botches are beautiful, then certainly I’m not one to argue.
-Despite the best efforts of the Straight Edge Society, Rey gets the 619 and falling headbutt to finish Punk off. Match was abbreviated, but still really good. At least Rey doesn’t have to pledge to a straight edge lifestyle now. BRING ON THE QUAALUDES!
-Next up, Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon in a no holds barred match. I always loved that the fans who love Bret the most bring signs for him, and then spell his name “BRETT”. Way to show your devotion and appreciation, you miscreants.
-Vince brings out the Hart siblings and the Hart Dynasty as lumberjacks, since he’s paid them all off to help screw Bret over. Legendary loser Bruce even gets to be the referee. Great, expect about 15 low blows in this one. At least Bruce finally found work in WWE after, what 20 years of campaigning?
-In a twist, Bret reveals that the Harts are all on HIS side, and that Vince has been conned. Let the beatdown begin!
-So Bret proceeds to beat the crap out of Vince, and the current generation gets their shots in on the floor. David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd land a modified doomsday device on the outside, and Kid BOUNCES Vince’s head off of the floor. Tyson Kidd, we wish you well in your future endeavors. I look forward to seeing him in TNA with his new name Holyfield Mann.
-The match is slow, but who cares? It’s Bret beating up Vince. The only way to make this more entertaining would be if the Harts pulled a Blue Blazer costume onto Vince and then threw him out of the rafters. Wait, is that wrong? Screw it, I’m enjoying myself. Perhaps too much.
-Bret gives Vince about 58 low blows and then slaps on the Sharpshooter for the win. If the match isn’t going to be any good, then it better cater to my base instincts. In this case: Bret beating Vince up. Five stars, Justin’s happy, onward we go.
-Justin “Softspeak” Roberts announces the crowd at 72,219. Nothing’s going to top the drawing power of WrestleMania III, let’s face it. Hercules and Billy Jack Haynes is just too strong from a historical standpoint, anyway.
-Edge-Jericho highlights. We even get footage of renowned sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews as he works on Edge. Do you think Dr. Andrews watches TLC and Money in the Bank and Hell in a Cell matches with glee, knowing that he’s one botched move away from some wrestler going to Birmingham and financing his next house? I’ll bet he subscribes to Botchamania on Youtube. What a sadist.
-It’s just a weird premise for this feud, basing it around Edge saying “spear” to Jericho to try and get into his head, and then getting the fans to play along. Chanting “spear” would be good right about now, since the crowd’s more reserved than my room in Hell.
-The fight spills outside and Edge slams Jericho into the table. I think our Spanish co-horts are in for a shortened evening, like always.
-Back inside, Jericho manages to apply the Walls to try and weaken Edge’s bad leg. The last time Jericho defended a World Title at WrestleMania against a muscled up blonde babyface with a bad leg with a dead crowd….well, it didn’t end well for Chris.
-After Edge won’t give in, Jericho tries a lionsault, but lands on his feet, only to eat an Edge-o-Matic for 2. Good spot.
-Jericho’s spear fails, and then Edge tries one, but flies right into a Codebreaker. Jericho goes back to the Walls, and applies a single leg version on Edge’s bad wheel. Crowd’s finally coming to life through sheer will of the performers.
-Both men fall to the outside off of an Edge clothesline and, after Edge accidentally hits the ref while on the apron, Jericho waffles him with the belt for 2. A Codebreaker, however, ends it and Jericho shockingly retains. Afterward, an irate Edge sets up Jericho on the American announce table, and then runs off the Spanish one to spear him into the timekeeper’s pit. What a sore loser. Match was really good, best of the night so far.
-You know you’re insane as a fan when you think Jack Swagger’s gonna run in right now and win the belt from Jericho. Sadly, the moment is lost.
-Highlights are shown of the pre show battle royal, which was won by…..Yoshi Tatsu? Man, Linda McMahon’s really aching for that Asian-American vote, isn’t she? The last time a Japanese born wrestler won ANYTHING at WrestleMania, Funaki had a 2 minute reign as Hardcore Champion. Sad, really.
-Time wasting ten diva tag is next, with Mickie James, Beth Phoenix, Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly, and Eve facing Michelle McCool, Layla, Alicia Fox, Maryse, and Vickie Guerrero. About time, we’d waited all night for this.
-After a sequence of nothing but finishers (some of which almost hit properly), Vickie lands a frog splash onto Kelly Kelly, who can’t even take a pin properly. Thankfully, Vickie does get the pin and becomes the third Guerrero to win at WrestleMania. Junk match, but who cares? In a moment of blind hysteria, Josh, Dave, and I ran around celebrating Vickie’s big moment. Because that’s what WrestleMania does to us civil, working-class folk.
-Still, thank you, WWE, for Mickie James in jeans. I won’t complain as much this coming year, I promise.
-Cena/Batista video. All it was missing was Batista’s immortal “HUGGING FAT GIRLS” line. Cena should have hugged Vickie Guerrero, just to drive the point home.
-Cena’s super special entrance: an Air Force crew performs an honor guard routine. The fans boo, and I think it’s funny that fans in Arizona boo military personnel in a city where Pat Tillman is such a hero. If you’re going to boo Cena, wait till he comes out. Show some class, please?
-Signs in the crowd: “NORWAY HATES CENA”. Things I know about Norway: it had the Olympics once, and it’s way the hell far away from my house. So there you go.
-Slow start to a match I was really looking forward to. Cena tries to Adjust Batista’s Attitude, but Batista spikes him with a sick DDT for 2.
-We get the boo-yay-boo-yay spot, and of course Cena’s on the losing end of it. Hey, it’s not Cena’s fault that Santino Holmes got both feet in the end zone last year. Deal with it.
-Batista spinebuster = one of the most underrated moves there is, especially when he does his sudden stand up after hitting it. Good stuff.
-Cena lands a Five Knuckle Shuffle off the top, which could be a tribute to Shawn Michaels and his flying fistdrop as a Rocker. I’d like to think so.
-Batista lands the Batista Bomb for 2, and makes the greatest face in the history of faces. Cena then lands the Attitude Adjustment for another 2 count. Another Batista Bomb fails, and Cena hooks the STF to make Big Dave tap and to give Cena his ninth World Title. Really good match, up to the standard of the Summerslam match. Cena cheeses next to a fan in the front row who’s wearing an anti-Cena shirt. Say what you will, but John Cena knows how to roll with the punches. It’s why I like him.
-Shawn-Taker video is next. I’ll bet the crowd’s fully awake now.
-Shawn makes his standard HBK entrance, and the fans are behind him almost 100% The question is, can they have enough guts to have Shawn end the streak? Either way, it’s going to be talked about for a very long time afterward, I can assure you.
-Undertaker rises up through the stage, wearing a hood like some giant, gothic version of AJ Styles. All Undertaker needs is Ric Flair to show him how to cut whacked out promos.
-Taker and Shawn have a staredown. If Taker’s going to win, he’d BETTER say “I’m sorry….I love you” before the final Tombstone. I repeat: he’d BETTER say it.
-Taker manages to land Old School early on, which plays into the usual theory of “get everything out of the way that’s minor, so that the slate is clear for the REALLY heavy stuff”. Brace yourself, folks, history’s about to be made.
-Shawn attempts a Crossface on Taker. I’d make a tasteless joke, but I’ll just say that it’s already been proven effective in the real world, so you know it’s just as deadly in the kayfabe planet as well.
-Taker gets a legdrop on the apron, prompting what I believe is Cole’s first “VINTAGE” of the night. Shawn does get a Figure Four though, paying homage to the man whose retirement apparently isn’t sacred. Just saying.
-Shawn lands the forearm and the kip up, but Taker drops him with a chokeslam for an early near fall. Shawn begins to work Taker’s leg, and even manages to snare him into an ankle lock. What, is Shawn going to do the finishers of everyone in TNA? If Shawn hits the Gringo Killer on The Dead Man, I’m a fan for life.
-Taker kicks off the ankle lock with two boots. The first kick straightened Shawn’s eyes, and the second one distorted them again. Shawn’s eyes are like a demented snow globe.
-To the outside, where Taker manages to spike Shawn with a Tombstone on the concrete. First one since I believe Jake Roberts ate one at WrestleMania 8. Trainers try to tend to Shawn, but Taker’s having none of it. He brings Shawn in for 2. Taker tries the Last Ride, but Shawn counters into an X-Factor for 2. It’s TNA Appreciation Night! Someone come up with some kooky stipulations!
-Taker applies the Hell’s Gate, and Shawn counters it into a pinning predicament for 2. Once up to their feet, Shawn pastes him with Sweet Chin Music for 2. Shawn tries for another one, but Taker turns it into a Last Ride for 2. I’m starting to sweat, and I’m not the only one in the room.
-To the outside for what could be Shawn’s last deadly spot ever. He lays Taker out on the table with Sweet Chin Music and then goes up top, coming off with a moonsault to put Taker through. SICKNESS. If Shawn’s going out, he’s doing it the only way he knows how: stealing the show.
-Back inside, Shawn gets another Sweet Chin Music, and can only get 2. Shawn tries for yet another superkick, but Taker clasps the throat and sends Shawn to Hell with a chokeslam. No pinfall attempt, as Taker scrapes HBK up and drops him with a Tombstone for 2, just like last year. Taker’s livid and frustrated and this place is unglued.
-Taker drops his straps, but stops, as he’s now hesitant to finish Shawn off, due to the respect involved. Taker implores Shawn to stay down, but Shawn mocks him with the throat cut gesture, and then hauls off and smacks Taker across the face. Taker goes into beast mode, lifting Shawn and hitting a deadly leaping Tombstone for the win and the end of Shawn’s career. After a slow getting-up period, Taker embraces Michaels and the crowd, of course, eats up this moment.
-Taker leaves so that Shawn can have his curtain call, and he does so mostly with a smile, as, unlike most, he has no baggage left. He’s the best at what he does (or did), and has a family at home waiting for him, with plenty of money in his savings. If this is the end of Shawn Michaels as an active wrestler, then it’ll be a long time before any single performer comes along that can top him in this line of work. When that happens, my grandkids may be in a nursing home.
-CYNIC SAYS: Again, I’m completing this review just hours after the show ended, so there’s nothing to look back on with stern 20/20 hindsight and definitive judgment. From a live perspective, a good time was had by my friends and I, which is positive. The two World Title matches featured great story telling, Shawn and Taker may have hit ‘five stars’ (ask me again in six months), Money in the Bank was exciting, Rey/Punk and Hunter/Sheamus were both good matches, and Bret beat the crap out of Vince. For the most part, as of the morning after, I feel like I’d gotten my money’s worth.
Again, time will tell on WrestleMania XXVI. But for right now, let’s call it a thumbs up show with a smile.
Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.
One of the biggest differences between WWE and TNA is that when WWE utilizes older wrestlers, it’s to their maximum.
In the fall of 2009, TNA went ahead with a considerable end-run to bolster their roster, with the target of running a monster three-hour episode of Impact, live on Monday, January 4, up against Raw.
To sweeten the pot and lure in casual fans not familiar with TNA, the company brought in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff to be major players, while negotiating with Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Ric Flair, and Jeff Hardy, as well as other familiar faces.
WWE, knowing that TNA was going to bring their best laid plans to that Monday night, countered with something that would shock fans all over the world.
On January 4, 2010, for the first time in over twelve years, Bret “The Hitman” Hart would return to Monday Night Raw.
WWE Fans didn’t know what to think. Bret Hart, really? The same man who, while he’d done a few side ventures with WWE in recent years, had a rocky relationship with the company that embarrassed him on PPV with the “screwjob”? The same Bret Hart that locked horns with the company when the two sides became embroiled over who was responsible for the death of Bret’s brother, Owen?
Indeed, Hart showed up on January 4 in Dayton, OH, where he’d won the 1993 King of the Ring tournament.
To add to the surreal nature of Hart even standing in a WWE ring, he called out longtime nemesis Shawn Michaels. Hart had Michaels removed from the 2006 Hall of Fame ceremony, not wanting him there to witness his speech.
On this night, Hart and Michaels shook hands, and then embraced with a hug, dropping the jaws of fans around the world.
Only in WWE.
Edge made a surprise comeback after a near six-month injury layoff, and won the 2010 Royal Rumble from the #29 spot. Edge waited to pick the champion he would face, and it paid off when he selected Chris Jericho, who won the World Heavyweight Championship three weeks later at Elimination Chamber.
Jericho and Edge had won the Unified Tag Team Titles in the summer, and then Edge bowed out with the mentioned injury. Jericho chose Big Show as his replacement, and then would off-handedly slag Edge for his shortcomings. Edge would taunt Jericho with threats of spearing him, getting the fans to yell, in Pavlovian fashion, “SPEEEEEEEEEAR”. Jericho’s improbable title win on February 21 meant he might have to eat his words at WrestleMania.
On the opposite brand, John Cena won the Raw Elimination Chamber match, winning Sheamus’ WWE Championship. Immediately after the grueling contest, Vince McMahon, who was on bad terms with Cena after he’d stood beside Bret Hart (explanation forthcoming), sent Batista to the ring for an immediate title match. Batista mauled Cena to win the belt within seconds.
Cena had a chance for a WrestleMania rematch if he could beat Batista in a non-title rematch the next night on Raw. Batista got himself disqualified intentionally, due to his hatred of Cena, his success, and what he stood for. In fact, Batista made it clear that when the two men had their skyrocketing career paths parallel each other just several years earlier, Cena got more love and Batista admitted that he was jealous.
Batista also made it clear that Cena had never, ever beaten him, and promised that WrestleMania, in front of the world, would be no different.
But back to Hart, Vince McMahon had assaulted him at the end of the January 4 Raw, continuing the bad blood that had existed since 1997. McMahon would spend over two months ripping Hart for hanging onto the past, claiming that he’d made “The Hitman”. Bret, however, would get a chance at revenge as he’d challenged Vince to a street fight.
McMahon accepted, but after Bret attacked him, Vince would renege. After Hart was then injured in a car accident backstage, McMahon would accept, thinking Bret was too hurt. However, after Vince signed the contract, Hart proved that his injuries were merely a ruse to get Vince to agree, and that the accident was all a set-up. Hart would have his chance to get 12 years worth of revenge after all.
Speaking of revenge, Shawn Michaels had some in mind as well.
Michaels lamented not ending The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak one year earlier, and became obsessed with doing so.
Shawn Michaels had cost The Undertaker the World Heavyweight Title at Elimination Chamber, doing whatever he could to get a rematch at WrestleMania, so that he could end the streak. After weeks of hounding “The Dead Man”, Michaels finally got Undertaker’s attention. However, Undertaker would only accept the match if Michaels agreed to put his career on the line.
Michaels implied acceptance, saying “If I can’t beat you….I have no career.”
Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Matt Striker called the action from ringside. Fantasia Barrino performed “America the Beautiful”. Entering the WWE Hall of Fame were Ted Dibiase, Antonio Inoki, Wendi Richter, Mad Dog Vachon, Gorgeous George, Stu Hart, and Bob Uecker.
Unified Tag Team Championship: The Miz/Big Show def. John Morrison/R-Truth in 3:24
(Miz and Morrison get a “make up call” from one year earlier, and get to be on the actual show. Of course, it gets 1/3 of the time as their dark match from last year. Life’s just not fair)
Triple Threat Match: Randy Orton def. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase in 9:01
(This was decent, and did what it was supposed to do in elevate Orton, but Rhodes and DiBiase’s slap fest was so horribly goofy that it became hard to take either man seriously. Some Mania debut for both)
Money in the Bank: Jack Swagger def. Kane, MVP, Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, Kofi Kingston, Drew McIntyre, and Evan Bourne in 13:44
(Swagger was an interesting choice for a winner. And by “interesting”, I mean “odd”. He’d become World Heavyweight Champion two nights later in one of the most forgettable reigns in recent memory)
Triple H def. Sheamus in 12:09
(Ever feel like Orton and Hunter were punished for their crappy main event from last year by being stuck in the first half of the show? Match was pretty good, actually. Sheamus deserves more love)
Rey Mysterio def. CM Punk in 6:30
(Damn good match, but way short. Mysterio had to go “straight edge” if he lost, as if that were a heelish thing to have to do. “How dare that villain infringe on Rey’s right to take HGH! That cad!”)
Lumberjack Match: Bret Hart def. Vince McMahon in 11:09
(All of the Hart siblings, as well as the Hart Dynasty, surrounded the ring for a match in which Bret slowly and meticulously stomped Vince and beat him with a chair for eleven minutes. Well, it’s fine by me. By the way, look at the match’s time. What date was Montreal again? 11/09! CREEPY!)
World Heavyweight Championship: Chris Jericho def. Edge in 15:48
(Like Jericho’s previous WrestleMania World Title match, this had no heat, seemed a bit awkward, and is not often remembered. It’s a shame, because it was a pretty good match, but Edge’s entire face schtick centered around him bellowing “SPEEEEEEEAR!!!” which does nothing for anyone)
Michelle McCool/Layla/Vickie Guerrero/Maryse/Alicia Fox def. Mickie James/Beth Phoenix/Kelly Kelly/Gail Kim/Eve Torres in 3:26
(The last major WWE appearance of Mickie “Lesbian Stalker” James. I’ll always have the memories)
WWE Heavyweight Championship: John Cena def. Batista in 13:31
(A bit abbreviated, but still a damn good outing. Cena and Batista have pretty good chemistry when they’re not bogged down by pointless stipulations, as they were in subsequent rematches. Batista’s face when Cena kicked out of the Batista Bomb is a sight to behold)
Career vs. Streak: The Undertaker def. Shawn Michaels in 23:59
(Not quite as “epic” as last year’s match, but epic nonetheless. Gah, I’m splitting hairs here. This was a great match, and a great way for Shawn Michaels to go out. I hope, unlike Flair, he stays retired and lets his tremendous legacy tell the story of how amazing a performer he was. I hope when Undertaker retires one day, he has the sense to do the same. Great ending to the show)
ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
I never would have guessed, in 2010, that we’d see Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels wrestle on the same show ever again. Hart and Michaels were, at one point, both retired simultaneously, until Michaels found the itch to wrestle again in 2002.
Hart’s match wasn’t really a match as it was a slow beating. Michaels’ match was an enthralling epic, considered the best match of 2010.
For Hart, it was about giving the fans “one more match”, the one he’d wished for at his Hall of Fame speech in 2006. Sure, it wasn’t anything great, but it was one more Sharpshooter in front of millions of fans, as a way of putting some of his bitterness into his past.
For Shawn Michaels, it was one last great performance. The most talented wrestler the world has known stole the show once more, from peers young and old. He could now rest his battered body forever.
A photo surfaced one day after WrestleMania with both Hart and Michaels smiling, congratulating each other after the show had ended.
If you can think of a more appropriate portrait for this show, I’d like to see it.
Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.
First, it was Thanksgiving night. Then it was Thanksgiving eve. Then it moved indiscriminately to just any old Sunday in November. When it started, it was all about the elimination matches. Now it’s about the typically-rushed storylines that are often back-burnered in favor of whatever Cena or Orton are doing, with maybe an elimination match or two shoehorned in there somewhere.
Well, forget about senile Vince McMahon and lack-of-fun Kevin Dunn for a minute. Let’s journey back to when the event MEANT SOMETHING, and let’s share some fond memories of some of the greatest elimination matches that have ever taken place at the Thanksgiving night/eve/located in proximity to the holiday tradition!
After all, it sure beats “John Cena and The Rock vs. what’re-their-names.”
25. Tatanka, Bam Bam Bigelow, King Kong Bundy, and The Heavenly Bodies (Million Dollar Team) def. Lex Luger, Adam Bomb, Mabel, and The Smoking Gunns (Guts n Glory) (11/23/94, San Antonio, TX) Survivors: Bigelow, Bundy
The main issue was between Tatanka, who sold out his honorable beliefs for Ted Dibiase’s money, and Luger, whom Tatanka had accused of selling out beforehand in a bizarre ruse. After Luger’s team was whittled down to just him against Tatanka and the two behemoths from New Jersey, it seemed that Luger would never get any type of comeuppance over the coalition that had gone after him for months. Near his end, Luger managed to pin Tatanka with a cradle before succumbing to Bundy’s splash. Luger may have lost the war, but he prevented his nemesis from surviving as well.
24. The Holly Cousins and Too Cool def. Edge, Christian, and The Hardy Boyz (11/14/99, Detroit, MI) Survivor: Hardcore Holly
Gotta admit; that face team would be pretty cool in any era, despite the real life problems of the brothers Hardy. For what it is, it’s a fast paced match between WWE’s “X Division” of 1999; a match in which the second oldest person (Crash) was only 28 years old. When does that EVER happen? Edge being the first one gone was a surprise, as was the heels going over. Then again, since Edge and company were made men after their spectacular ladder match the previous month, why not give some rub to the then-relevant “Big Shot”? Christian’s near-comeback from a three-on-one was fun to watch.
23. Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe & Lioness Asuka def. Alundra Blayze, Sakie Hasegawa, Kyoko Inoue & Chapparita Asari (11/19/95, Landover, MD) Survivor: Kong
This was probably the first time since 1988 that WWE had more than three women involved in the same match, and boy, what a comeback for women’s wrestling. Of course, the entire division was scrapped a month later, when Blayze rechristened herself as Madusa and threw the WWE Women’s Title in the trash on WCW Nitro. Alas. The match was a ten minute infomercial for Aja Kong to show how scary-dominant she could be, dropping her fellow Joshi performers on their heads and necks before waylaying Blayze with a spinning back fist to become the sole survivor. Now we get Kelly Kelly rubbing her bony ass in Natalya’s face. Alas.
22. Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, John Cena, Bradshaw, and Hardcore Holly def. Brock Lesnar, Big Show, A-Train, Matt Morgan, and Nathan Jones (11/16/03, Dallas, TX) Survivors: Benoit, Cena
Lesnar built a team of brawny monsters to take on GM Paul Heyman’s “most wanted” list. It was notable because, unlike today with Cena and Randy Orton, the two men getting the biggest rub (Angle and Lesnar) were eliminated before the finish, thus making whoever survived look pretty damn special. Indeed, the soon-to-be-megapushed Benoit and the being-molded Cena upended Big Show in the end, after Benoit had made Lesnar tap out. Of course, this is essentially the match that kicked off Cena’s interminable face run, so maybe some of you will want to curse this outing.
21. Shawn Michaels, Triple H, CM Punk, and The Hardy Boyz def. Edge, Randy Orton, Johnny Nitro, Gregory Helms, and Mike Knox (11/26/06, Philadelphia, PA) Survivors: the entire team
One sided as it was, this match provided some decent crowd-pleasing action, as well as a number of comedy spots. Mike Knox being eliminated by Shawn Michaels in under a minute, and then Shawn asking his team, “Who was he?” is never not funny. “I think he’s on ECW.” “Oh, so we’re doing GOOD then?” Too hilarious. Also of note was Punk outpopping the entire team during the pre-match DX intro, despite having only been in WWE for three months. It’s stuff like that that drives Vince McMahon even more insane.
20. Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, and Hunico def. Randy Orton, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, Sin Cara, and Mason Ryan (11/20/11, New York, NY) Survivors: Barrett, Rhodes
It was a pretty good way of putting over Intercontinental Champion Rhodes and soon-to-be pushed heel Barrett (before his arm injury in February). Orton dispatched a drained Ziggler early before Barrett’s team rattled off 4 straight eliminations, leaving Orton alone against 4 men. Swagger went quietly, then Hunico was RKOed out before the Viper was outsmarted, losing to Barrett’s Wasteland.
19. The Miz, Sheamus, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre def. John Morrison, Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Shelton Benjamin, and Finlay (11/22/09, Washington, DC) Survivors: Miz, Sheamus, McIntyre
Other than McIntyre’s push stalling in 2010, that heel side is like “Team Groom for Greatness”, as the other four men would all go on to hold a World Title. Whereas the face team features three men no longer in WWE, one suspended for ingesting synthetic ganja, and a captain who is a kitty-whipped laughingstock. Regardless, the match was a tremendous showcase of midcarders soon-to-be big deals, which gives Survivor Series (as well as the Royal Rumble) its ochre of flavor. The highlights were McIntyre nearly breaking Bourne in half at the neck with his Future Shock DDT, and Sheamus definitively crushing Finlay in the “Battle of the Brogue.”
18. Davey Boy Smith, Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas, and Phil Lafon (Team Canada) def. Vader, Steve Blackman, Marc Mero, and Goldust (Team USA) (11/9/97, Montreal, PQ) Survivor: Smith
Team Canada, it should be noted, featured only one actual Canadian in Lafon. On the night where Bret Hart would be excommunicated from WWE canon, it seemed appropriate that a hastily-assembled team of America haters would be on display. The match was merely a backdrop to begin a feud with Vader and the increasingly-erratic Goldust, who walked out without ever tagging in, but the match was an exciting wrestling exhibition when Vader, Mero, Smith, Furnas and Lafon were involved. Having a pro-Canuck team in an enthusiastic Canadian setting provided a hot crowd as well, even if the match was overshadowed at night’s end by…..well, you know.
17. Ted Dibiase, Rhythm & Blues, and a Mystery Partner (The Million Dollar Team) def. Dusty Rhodes, Koko B Ware, and The Hart Foundation (The Dream Team) (11/22/90, Hartford, CT) Survivor: Dibiase
Assuming that Honky and Neidhart are future Hall of Famers, as well as the mystery partner, you have eight Hall of Famers in one match. Impressive, no? Anyway, you probably know by now that said mystery partner is The Undertaker, making his WWE debut in grand fashion by obliterating Ware and Rhodes before taking a countout loss to save his mystique. Hart lost his brother Dean the day before to kidney failure, and Roddy Piper (on commentary) declared “The Hitman” had dedicated the match to him. Foreshadowing his eventual singles push, Hart came back from three on one to tussle with Dibiase at the end, losing when the Million Dollar Man rolled through his cross body.
16. Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake, Ricky Steamboat, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan def. Honky Tonk Man, Ron Bass, Harley Race, Hercules, and Danny Davis (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Savage, Roberts, Steamboat
The first Survivor Series match ever had one of the more intriguing stories ever seen at the event. Honky, Intercontinental Champion for six months running and an unlikely champion at that, was versed by five challengers, all of whom capable of beating him for the gold, if not for Honky’s perpetual luck and knack for cheating. Honky’s teammates weren’t able to go the distance, as Honky found himself stuck with the three men he had feuded with through 1987, and they all still held a grudge. After trying his best to hang with Savage and his cohorts, Honky took a walk for the countout loss. By the way, wouldn’t YOU have loved to see Savage and Steamboat as a semi-regular team? Me too.
15. Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Koko B Ware, Hercules, and Hillbilly Jim def. Big Bossman, Akeem, Ted Dibiase, Haku, and The Red Rooster (11/24/88, Richfield, OH) Survivors: Savage, Hogan
Koko and Rooster main evented a WWE PPV not called “Royal Rumble” or “Irony-Mania”. The Towers were positioned as holdover threats to Savage and Hogan before the “Mega Powers Exploding” months later. Hogan being handcuffed late in the match while Savage had to try and fend off Bossman and Akeem provided some tension to a well-worked, albeit predictable, affair. The sad part was Dibiase, the hottest heel when the year started, reduced to working a nothing angle with former “slave” Hercules, and then floating around with nothing to do for months until he was handed the Jake Roberts feud. Other than such quibbles, it was a fine main event to the Series’ second incarnation.
14. The Ultimate Warrior, Jim Neidhart, and The Rockers (The Ultimate Warriors) def. Andre the Giant, Haku, Arn Anderson, and Bobby Heenan (The Heenan Family) (11/23/89, Chicago, IL) Survivor: Warrior
I love when you look back at old matches like this and realize that WWE and Vince McMahon were giving experimental runs to those deemed to have “future prospects.” This particular match was the closer for the 1989 Survivor Series, and Warrior was given a chance to shine as the final act, foreshadowing his World Title run the following year. In addition, Shawn Michaels lasted quite a while in the match for a 24-year-old tag team wrestler, getting to pin Haku before succumbing to Anderson’s spinebuster. Surely with Marty Jannetty eliminated, the match became something of a singles audition for the future Heartbreak Kid. For those wondering why Heenan was in the match, check Tully Blanchard’s drug test results for an explanation.
13. Kofi Kingston, Christian, Mark Henry, MVP, and R-Truth def. Randy Orton, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Ted Dibiase, and William Regal (11/22/09, Washington, DC) Survivor: Kingston
Quite the anachronism in 2011, Orton pinned Henry within the first minute, Orton and Punk worked in tandem, eventual main eventer R-Truth bit the dust early, and Orton Punk were both reviled villains to Christian’s virtuous good guy routine. But rather than expose the fallacies of WWE’s breakneck booking change, let’s look at the upside: Kingston was made with this one, withstanding seven minutes of Punk and Orton breaking him down, to score what should have been a career-boosting victory. Instead, he blew the finish weeks later in a triple threat involving Orton, and Orton had an on-camera freakout that got Kofi punished, but not Randino. Weird.
12. Razor Ramon, 123 Kid, Davey Boy Smith, and The Headshrinkers (The Bad Guys) def. Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, and Jeff Jarrett (The Teamsters) (11/23/94, San Antonio, TX) Survivor: Ramon
You can be made in a loss, and Diesel was a made man after this performance. After lots of early action in which everyone but Michaels got involved, Diesel said “enough of this” and went on a rampage. Fatu bit the dust with a Jackknife, followed by Kid, then Sionne, and then the Bulldog took a count out loss. With Razor remaining, against 5 on 1 odds, a loss seemed inevitable when Michaels FINALLY tagged in and accidentally superkicked Diesel. In a silly finish, all five heels were counted out when Diesel angrily stalked Michaels. Razor became the only sole survivor in history to never eliminate anyone and, three days later, Diesel beat Bob Backlund to become WWE Champion.
11. Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, Rick Rude, One Man Gang, and Butch Reed def. Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigelow, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, and Ken Patera (11/26/87, Richfield, OH) Survivor: Andre
Sorry, Jim Crockett Promotions. When cable providers had to choose between airing Starrcade ’87 and the inaugural Survivor Series, with the lure of Hulk and Andre in the main event, facing off eight months after WrestleMania III, WWE won out in spades. After the sides whittled down to a three on two, Hogan and Andre finally locked horns, but the Hulkster was counted out after Bundy and Gang kept him from re-entering the ring. Bigelow managed to eliminate Bundy and Gang and would have defied the odds Cena-style but, well, it was Andre. The Frenchman flattened Bammer for the final fall, giving himself a just cause to petition a rematch against Hogan for the WWE title. And that’s a fascinating story in itself.
10. Doug Furnas, Phil Lafon, and The Godwinns def. Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and The New Rockers (11/17/96, New York, NY) Survivors: Furnas, Lafon
After a cup of coffee in ECW in the fall of 1996, Furnas and Lafon debuted in the opening match of Survivor Series 1996, and what a debut it was. Once Marty Jannetty busted his ankle prior to being eliminated, and then both Godwinns went, WWE was in store for action that they’d never seen before. Leif Cassidy (known better as Al Snow) took a header with modified reverse superplex from Lafon, and the well-traveled veterans were made to hold off Hart and Smith, then WWE Tag Team Champions. Bulldog was cradled for elimination, and Furnas planted Owen with an absolutely vicious release German suplex to give Furnas and Lafon the win with a crazy standing ovation from the Garden crowd.
9. The Rock, The Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho, and Big Show vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, and Shane McMahon (11/19/01, Greensboro, NC) Survivor: Rock
It was an abrupt end to what should have been a money-maker for WWE. The WCW/ECW Invasion had sputtered to a poorly-booked finish, but at least we got a great finale out of it. With the future of the company at stake, and the losing side being forced to disband for good, drama built over the forty-five minute coda. Once down to just Rock and Austin, after Jericho attempted to selfishly maim his own partner, the two icons of the Attitude era put on a dramatic finish, ending with Angle proving to be a mole, as he clocked Austin with a title belt. One Rock Bottom later, and the Alliance was dead, leaving Stephanie to scream like a banshee in tears backstage.
8. The Powers of Pain, Hart Foundation, The Rockers, The British Bulldogs, and The Young Stallions def. Demolition, The Brainbusters, Los Conquistadors, The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, and The Bolsheviks (11/24/88, Richfield, OH) Survivors: Powers of Pain
When was the last time WWE had ten teams, REAL teams, under lock and key like this? This would be the second time a match with ten teams would take place (I do believe this spoils a later entry), and it was full of great action and well-told stories. The climax was an inexplicable story turn in which Mr. Fuji intentionally caused Demolition, the World Tag Team Champions, mind you, to be counted out, just so he could manage the Powers of Pain for some reason. In other fascinating notes, the Conquistadors, perennial jobbers, lasted over forty minutes, and the Rougeaus were eliminated early due to a very tense real-life feud with Dynamite Kid.
7. Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Maven def. Triple H, Batista, Edge, and Gene Snitsky (11/14/04, Cleveland, OH) Survivor: Orton
Kicking off one of the greatest five-month story arcs ever seen in WWE history (I’m serious), Orton led his team to victory in a match where the winning side got to run Raw for one month while Eric Bischoff took a long vacation. In the end, it would lead to Batista realizing he could beat Triple H and thus slowly turned on him before brutalizing him for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania 21. Sadly, though, this match didn’t make Orton the top babyface star that Vince McMahon was hoping for, but lord knows they’d try again year after year. Highlight of the match is Maven busting Snitsky open with a stiff right hand, and Gene getting his revenge with a chair shot that just about killed the Shop-At-Home star.
6. Ric Flair, Ted Dibiase, The Warlord, and The Mountie def. Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and Virgil (11/27/91, Detroit, MI) Survivor: Flair
What a great beginning, what a lousy finish. Talk about your impressive lists of talent for one match, with the exception of Warlord, who at least provided a musclehead to throw people around and create “ooooh” moments with. Even Virgil in 1991 had hit a nice stride. Smith and Warlord are both eliminated after a Flair cheapshot causes Bulldog to go, and then Hart duplicates the act on Warlord, allowing Piper to pin the big man. The match then ends in a bizarre multi-man count out, with Flair being the only man to beat the count back inside, thus cheaply becoming the sole survivor. It was a shame, because the match was turning into something AWESOME, aided by a white-hot crowd. What a pity.
5. Skip, Rad Radford, Tom Pritchard, and 123 Kid (The Bodydonnas) def. Marty Jannetty, Barry Horowitz, Hakushi, and Bob Holly (The Underdogs) (11/19/95, Landover, MD) Survivor: Kid
Imagine in 2011 if they put the likes of Daniel Bryan and other barely-seen, improperly-used talents in one twenty minute match and told them “go nuts.” In this opening match to the 1995 show, fast-paced athletes like Hakushi, Jannetty, and Kid wowed the crowd in spectacular fashion with action that Vince McMahon wasn’t exactly used to putting on. Let’s just say Vince bellowed “WHATAMANEUVER” a lot. After Jannetty finished Skip off with a top rope powerbomb (unheard of in WWE at the time), Kid used help from new stablemate Psycho Sid to finish Jannetty, continuing his remolding into one of Ted Dibiase’s corporate players.
4. Batista, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley, and JBL (Team Smackdown) def. Shawn Michaels, Kane, Big Show, Carlito, and Chris Masters (Team Raw) (11/27/05, Detroit, MI) Survivor: Orton
The in-ring action for this one was superb, as you had wrestlers who didn’t even LIKE each other railing off creative double teams for the greater good of brand supremacy (you know, when the brand extension WASN’T a bastardized concept meant to make people care about a draft from year to year….). But as fun and different as the in-ring action was, the action at the commentary desks was even better, as Michael Cole and Tazz sniped with Joey Styles (remember him?), Jerry Lawler, and Jonathan Coachman for the entire match in between calling moves. For once, it seemed like Vince McMahon stepped away from the headset and just let their barbs come naturally, and it was FUN. In the end, Michaels took out Mysterio and JBL, but the RKO got him moments later. Then The Undertaker returned. Great stuff.
3. Razor Ramon, Macho Man Randy Savage, Marty Jannetty, and 123 Kid def. IRS, Diesel, Rick Martel, and Adam Bomb (11/24/93, Boston, MA) Survivors: Jannetty, Kid
A major substitution took place before the card, as Savage was called in to pinch hit for Mr. Perfect, who either bowed out due to recurring back problems or alcoholic issues, depending on which source you believe. Regardless, the action was raucous for the first fifteen to twenty minutes, with Diesel, Savage, IRS, and Razor, the four bigger players involved, being eliminated. Once down to the monstrous Bomb and wily Martel against two smaller competitors, it seemed that Kid and Jannetty had little chance. This was especially true after Bomb gave Kid a sickening slam on the concrete after a plancha gone bad. However, after a half hour of action, Kid and Jannetty ended the contest with matching sunset flips on both men to become unlikely survivors.
2. Strike Force, Young Stallions, Killer Bees, British Bulldogs, and the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers def. Hart Foundation, Demolition, The Islanders, The New Dream Team, and The Bolsheviks (11/26/87, Richfield, OH) Survivors: Stallions, Bees
The original twenty-man elimination contest features WWE talents at their most innovative. In a match with Bret Hart, Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, Tito Santana, and others, this should not be a surprise. Hard to say what was better: Haku nearly decapitating Dynamite with the savate kick, or Paul Roma saving Jim Powers with a top rope sunset flip on Valentine to eliminate him. This match has literally everything: crisp finishing sequences, top-notch wrestling, good swerves (Strike Force, the champs, were eliminated not fifteen minutes into the forty minute match), and a nice underdog finish, as Jim Brunzell pinned Bret Hart, allowing the Bees and Stallions to outsmart the brawnier Islanders en route to victory. If you love tag team wrestling, hunt down a copy of this event, because this match will be your Graceland.
1. Chris Jericho, Christian, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, and Scott Steiner (Team Bischoff) def. Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and The Dudley Boyz (Team Austin) (11/16/03, Dallas, TX) Survivor: Orton
If Austin’s team were to be victorious, he, as co-GM of Raw, would be allowed to use martial law to keep order on the show (i.e. beat people up). However, if Bischoff’s team won, Austin was out as co-GM. The match began innocuously enough, with Henry, Booker, Steiner, and RVD going, and then Michaels hit a gusher outside the ring, with blood spilling everywhere. Seriously, it looked like he was going to die any second. Jericho and Christian finished off the future Team 3D, and Austin’s hopes were now pinned on a crimson-soaked zombie. Oh, the drama! A fluke Sweet Chin Music took Christian out, and a cradled reversal of the Walls doomed Jericho. Michaels heroically hung in there against a fresh Orton, and the ref was soon knocked out. Austin and Bischoff interjected themselves, and Austin chased Bischoff to the entrance set and thrashed him good, but Batista then jumped the rail, pancaked Michaels with the Batista Bomb, and the ref came around to count Orton’s pinfall, leaving a stunned Austin in the aisleway. Had Austin been gone for more than four months after this, and not returned as the “Sheriff”, it’d have meant a lot more. Instead, it was just a great match, one in which the drama and story meant more than any chain-wrestling sequence could ever mean.
The WWE is about to welcome back Evan Bourne to its family after a long layoff from injury.
Bourne had what can only be described as a cryptic message on his Twitter account the other day for his fans.
“Soon the caterpillar will will emerge from his cocoon as a shark with a gun for a mouth #airbourneiscoming.”
The message, which was taken from wrestlinginc.com could be taken many ways, but the fact is Bourne will be back and could inject some life into the tag team division. The former tag team champion with Kofi Kingston has been out of action since March 2012 because he was involved in a car accident which broke his foot in four places and dislocated it in five.
While I am not a fan of Bourne’s (no specific reason), his return undoubtedly will add some spice to a stale division of larger wrestlers. Bourne could be teamed R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Sin Cara or even a Justin Gabriel. I also like him with Heath Slater, should the WWE finally decide to rid themselves of 3MB.
Like I have stressed before, the WWE needs to make sure it has five or six strong tag teams and stick to a continuity that allows for steady competition. The Shield currently holds the tag team titles and the feud with the Usos looked solid.
Now, the Usos have been wrestling with Mark Henry, which actually makes them look weaker and the prospects of a return match for the tag titles at SummerSlam looks bleak. Effectively, the WWE hurt both the Usos and Henry’s career in the process. If Henry were to find a tag partner (Big Show), then there could be another team to add to the division.
Also, because The Real American’s are a heel team that looks to be a solid contributor, the WWE must find a solid combination to even the division. Tons of Funk will not be the equalizer in my opinion.
It’s easy to say this, but I blame the creative team, Vince McMahon and even John Cena (he isn’t responsible, but let’s throw him under the bus) for the lack of concentration on a staple of the WWE. Vince wants solid champions, one-on-one competition and the larger wrestler (muscle-bound) who can draw and sell. Tag teams other than The Shield or maybe The Wyatts cannot do that right now. Cena is the example because no matter how stale his shtick is, he can sell to the masses.
Back in the day, tag teams were a major part of the WWF machine. The Hart Foundation, Demolition, LOD, The Samoans and even the KIller Bees. They all had personalities, they all had a gimmick and they all could rake in money. Maybe Vince should be more worried about the tag teams being able to sell rather than whether or not he sees money in someone like a Daniel Bryan (that’s my commentary on that subject).
By the way, this is not just an issue in the WWE. It has become an issue in TNA as well where tag teams were part of its program with the Knockouts. While the Knockouts still remain a viable part of their show, the tag teams have become a four team race and the numbers are dwindling.
Bourne will come back, earn some cheers from the WWE crowds, hopefully find Sin Cara and give the fans in the seats a great time or two, but he is not a solution to the issues with the tag team division. If anything, he exacerbates them because Bourne and a smaller wrestler cannot make a title run look legit because other larger wrestlers have already failed.
Hopefully the WWE will reorganize its tag team division, add some bulk (Sheamus and Wade Barrett or The Miz and Christian) and make it a priority, not a minority in the company.
-My first running diary for pro wrestling since TNA Sacrifice 2010 nearly scarred me for life. However, much like Jake Roberts’ demons, I refuse to relent and I don’t go away that easily. No, I am here. And for the seven of you that read my work and get enjoyment out of it, I WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN!
-Unlike last year, instead of a four man crew, it’s been halved. Dave hasn’t had the temerity to watch wrestling since his hero, Bret Hart, staggered like a zombie at WrestleMania; whereas Rob has a case of the flu so bad, he’s been hacking up chunks of green. And we all thought he’d been watching TNA’s best of 2010. So it’s just brother Josh and I at his shack, and that means less questions from Rob (“When did Kane shave his head?!?” “….the first Bush administration….”)
-So we’re live in Boston for the 2011 WWE Royal Rumble, and we’re in HD! That never happens! Is this a first for WWE? Michael Cole rips off Brent Musberger with “You’re looking LIVE…..” No word if he’s going to cameo in The Waterboy just to hang out with Dan Fouts’ beard.
-Oh wow, Edge is jerking the curtain, defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Dolph Ziggler, accompanied by Vickie Guerrero and her surprisingly attractive ass. Seriously, if they didn’t give her the evil “Wicked Queen” make-up job, she’d be the third or fourth hottest woman in WWE behind Maryse, Kaitlyn, and Heath Slater.
-Vickie gets on the crowd’s nerves by coming out and reiterating the entire “NO SPEAR” angle for the crowd. How low must Smackdown’s ratings be that they have to recap the stories so arcanely? Actually, don’t answer that.
-Crowd sign: “WHAT A MANEUVER!” And they say Vince McMahon wields no influence on the youth of America.
-Dolph gets a rope-hung neck breaker, which looks pretty sweet. Then he locks on the Randy Orton Memorial Chin lock to keep the crowd from getting too excited. It’s why some schools ban colored chalk; can’t have the kids getting overstimulated.
-Speaking of overstimulated, any more shots of Vickie’s ass and I’m going to have to have Josh take over my note-taking. If he gets mad over the condition I leave his bathroom in, I’ll remind him who bought the Tostitos. Well played, Justin.
-Ziggler tries for a rocker dropper, and Edge counters with a powerbomb. Wow, what a spot! It’s like a TNA style spotfest, except they’re actually precise in their execution.
-Edge can’t use his spear, so he settles for his Edgecution DDT that gets two when Vickie stops the ref from counting. The ref seems annoyed; either by her disruption, or the fact that she stole Linda McMahon’s “COUGAR” necklace. Or both.
-Kelly Kelly comes out here to display little talent, er, have a catfight with Vickie. I should note that Vickie’s playing dead after a slap that came careening in at 2 MPH. I’d hide my face too if I was being made legally obligated to have to sell for Kelly Kelly.
-Edge kicks out of the Zig Zag, mostly because there’s a rule that main eventers like Edge don’t lose to moves called the Zig Zag. Then the referee gets knocked out. So there’s interference, a rule that bans a certain move, a catfight with two women who can’t work, and a ref bump, all in the opening match. Somewhere, Vince Russo’s ears are burning.
-With the ref possibly dead, Edge hits the spear anyway, and then plants Ziggler with the Killswitch (lifted from his fake brother Christian) and retains the title. Hey, despite my jokes, that was a damn good match. Ziggler’s the ideal over-selling heel, and Edge is enough of a pro to hold it all together. Despite the overbooking, I’m pleased.
-Sidenote: Dolph’s “I am Perfection” theme may be the song I come out to at my eventual wedding, possibly edging out my perennial pick of Rob Conway’s “Just Look at Me”. And THAT is hard to do.
-Ad for Wrestlemania 27, featuring various highlights from last year. Where’s Vickie’s Hog Splash?
-Michael Cole was none too pleased about Edge’s chicanery, but he IS pleased that his hero, The Miz, is up next. I think Cole’s blind devotion to Miz is as enjoyable as Bobby Heenan’s outright impartiality toward Ric Flair twenty years ago. Excuse me while the internet collectively gives me an electroshock.
-Yes indeed, we open with two World Title matches, as The Miz defends the WWE Championship against Randy Orton. Cole gushes about Miz, talking about how even the little kids he talked to earlier are thrilled with Miz as champion. Matt Striker: “Who let you talk to little kids?” Was that line directed toward Cole or Jerry Lawler?
-Please fire Justin Roberts. You can buy Miz a second jacket with the surplus.
-Crowd seems a bit dead for Miz/Orton. It’s not like they exhausted the crowd with sheer overbooking in the opening match, right? Oh wait, they did. My bad.
-Orton and Miz are doing their basic offenses, so I’ll take a moment to note that Jack Doan, the referee, is still employed by WWE after twenty years. This is the kind of information you don’t get on other sites. All you get is “CENA IS GAY!” You might get that here as well, but you get this too.
-Miz with a chinlock on Orton. That’s like hitting Undertaker with a Tombstone. Or spending Ric Flair’s life savings on booze. You just don’t steal another man’s move like that.
-Matt Striker: “Randy Orton’s arms are so long; you’re in jeopardy if Randy can grab you!” Not true, Matt. He’s got that Darth Vader choke in his arsenal somewhere, I’m sure. Also, if Miz can grab you, you’re probably in jeopardy as well. Not as much as when Randy and his longer arms grab you, but still….
-Randy Orton busts out the superplex in honor of his dad, Cowboy Bob. I hope that’s the only thing of his dad’s that he busts out. No sense in bleeding on Miz and giving the champ Hepatitis C.
-Orton busts out the Christy Canyon flying mount-and-thrust, or the Lou Thesz Press to the rest of us. Then he adds the Garvin Stomp for good measure. When you absolutely, positively need to push someone as a top good guy that will only shoot himself in the foot with outdated and/or sexually awkward looking moves, call Randy Orton. I’m waiting for him to add the Killer Bees ear-clap to his moveset.
-Orton hits Miz with a mediocre Angle Slam. HE’S UP TO 1999! Next week, we might see a Twist of Fate! Well, we might see one on Impact, but who in the Hell watches Impact?
-Orton goes into the setup for the RKO, and the crowd’s happy because that means we might see the match end, bringing us one step closer to the real main event. Ahh, but wait, Nexus is on their way to the ring, probably to protest that crappy Angle Slam that Orton did. Orton responds by throwing Miz’s toady, Alex Riley, approximately 75 feet across the arena into them. But CM Punk screws Orton with the Go to Sleep, allowing Miz to sneak out with the win. Decent match, made better by Michael Cole’s insanely biased commentary. Nothing’s sucked tonight, which is a winning proposition.
-Note on Michael Cole: those of you who hate the man with passion and won’t shut up about it, congratulations: you’re keeping him on the air. NO ONE gets thrown off of WWE TV if they get this kind of hate. Wanna see Cole vanish? STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM! Being ignored erases you faster than a Chris Benoit match. But for my sake, keep the hate flowing. Cole’s just fine by me in this role.
-Elimination Chamber hype video. Did the voiceover guy call it the “Chamber of Horrors”? THE REFER-EYE CAM IS COMING BACK! AND SO IS THE CHAIR OF TORTURE! WWE GOT MY LETTERS!
-Cody Rhodes, meanwhile, can’t compete tonight because he’s ugly. Oddly enough that never stopped his dad.
-A handful of fans are asked to pick a winner, and one guy picks Big Show to win because he’s the biggest guy in there. He was also the biggest guy in there…well…every other year he was in it. It’s fans like that that keep Vince McMahon rich. As well as the one fan who picked John Cena for representing West Newbury, and bugged his eyes out for full effect. Even Abyss thought that guy’s acting was way over the top.
-To waste time before the Rumble, we have to have the women wrestle, and the Mystery Raw GM (my money’s on Bushwhacker Butch) changes it to a four way with Eve now involved. The crowd is confused. I’m just happy to see Eve.
-So Eve joins Divas Champion Natalya, Michelle McCool, and Layla in a hastily assembled match. The highlight is Natalya locking Eve and Layla in a double decker Sharpshooter. WWE may be PG, but they’ll bust out the contortionist porn when needed.
-Matt Striker properly calls a Michinoku Driver, and Jerry Lawler’s never heard of it before. In addition to the Wellness Policy, does WWE provide day care for Alzheimer’s patients?
-Eve scores the upset pin on Layla with a perfect moonsault, which makes her the “Anti-Lita”. Decent spots, not much else, crowd didn’t seem to care. You can almost smell the “Will they just get to the Rumble?” scent in Boston right now.
-Meanwhile, Gail Kim and the Bella Twins fight over Daniel Bryan. Now’s a good a time as any for Bryan to bust out Tommy Dreamer’s “I’M HARDCORE, I’LL TAKE ALL THREE!” speech, paraphrased. Hey, if you’re going to push someone, give him a REAL push.
-Thanks to Finger Eleven and their non-PG sounding name for providing tonight’s music.
-And now, after the annual statistical video package, IT’S TIME TO RUMBLE! Vince McMahon decided to up the stakes and put forty entrants in it this year, because things are always better when they’re bigger. Other examples include Mariah Carey and….well, that’s about it, really.
-#1 is CM Punk, but before we can begin, his Nexus stable and The Corre have a skirmish. Michael Cole sends everyone else back to the locker room on behalf of the mystery GM. Well, that was pointless.
-#2 is Daniel Bryan. We get a weather update on the bottom crawl, warning of a flash flood all throughout America due to the smarks wetting themselves. Not to worry; I have my waders in the truck.
-Punk and Bryan work fluid to start, though they disappoint the ROHbots by not activating some force with a pair of interlocking rings, and then burning John Cena alive. Oh well, maybe next year. Justin Gabriel of The Corre is #3, and because he never worked for ROH, the ROHbots will be happy to know that Bryan tosses him first. Linda really wants that G4 vote in 2012, doesn’t she?
-Zack Ryder is in at #4, and Striker drops a Nasty Boys reference. *checks list* Ok, they’re not currently in TNA, so no reprimand from Vince necessary. Out goes Ryder. #5 brings us William Regal, and he and Bryan exchange European uppercuts and forearms. Flood waters rising….nerd piss flowing…..
-Ted Dibiase is #6, followed by John Morrison at #7. Morrison proceeds to steal the show by getting knocked off the apron by Regal, but he catches the rail, walks the rail, jumps to the ringsteps, and walks back in. I predict 2011 is going to be Morrison’s year. YouTube is going to keep this man alive.
-#8 brings us Yoshi Tatsu, and #9 is Husky Harris, thus bringing an end to the smaller technician streak. Regal was dumped out a little while ago, but since everybody else was in awe of Morrison’s Spiderman impression, it kinda went unnoticed. #10 is a surprise, Chavo Guerrero, and he unloads some Three Amigos on the group. #11 brings us Mark Henry, who dumps Chavo and Yoshi just to clear some space. For himself, obviously.
-#12 is JTG. If anything important happens, you’ll be the first to know. *hums to himself*
-#13 gives us Junior Perfect, aka Michael McGillicutty. Can’t they just call him Joe Hennig? Or give him an easy last name, like Jones? Here’s Mike Jones! Would anyone object? Anyway, he dumps JTG. Sadly, he doesn’t swat his gum into the crowd. Dibiase is gone as well. Imagine that: the son of the Million Dollar Man is tossed by the son of IRS and the son of Mr. Perfect. It’s a shame they pulled British Bulldog’s son for being even blander than all three of them combined.
-#14 is Chris Masters, and #15 is David Otunga. The Nexus quartet teams up. Sing along everyone: bye bye Bryan, bye bye Masters, bye bye Morrison, bye bye Mizark. #16 is Tyler Reks. Bye bye Tyler. #17 is Vladimir Kozlov. Bye bye Vlad. Nexus is turning into a Jobber Momentum Prevention Task Force. I like them.
-#18 is R-Truth. Bye bye Truth. They even do charismatic midcarders as well!
-#19 is Great Khali, who chucks out Husky. Maybe his dad wouldn’t let Khali join the Varsity Club. That said, Khali should add the Rick Steiner headgear to his look. Would that be too much to ask?
-#20 is Mason Ryan, recompleting Nexus as a foursome, and he dumps Khali to make a name for himself. They’re going full gore with this Batista thing, aren’t they? All he needs is about six tricep injuries and the willpower to deflower half the Divas locker room. Also, he needs to injure his arm while jogging. Don’t give me that look, it actually happened to Big Dave!
-CAN YOO DIG IT…..SUH KAH!!!!! Booker T is #21 and the place goes berserk! He cleans house for a while and gets off the Spinarooni, but Ryan dumps him to further his hardcore push. Booker was all “WE NEED SOME PERSONALITY IN HERE!” and Nexus, minus Punk, was all “nah”.
-Meanwhile, Punk’s facials are a hoot. He’s got that disturbed cult leader thing down to a science. His sudden, serious glare when John Cena is #22 sells the moment perfectly. Ryan, Otunga, and Junior Perfect are gone within six seconds of each other. CENA’S GOING TO OVERCOME THE ODDS! Well, it’s about TIME they went in that direction! Then, to turn the tide, Hornswoggle meanders in at #23. Then Cena dumps Punk. Goodbye, G4 vote.
-#24 and #25 are Tyson Kidd and Heath Slater respectively. Both get embarrassed by Cena and Hornswoggle before being eliminated. The piss flood has stopped, and now I’m seeing traces of blood. God I hope Bob Orton’s not responsible; it’s up to my shins…
-#26 is Kofi Kingston, and he and Cena exchange words while Cena points at the WrestleMania logo in the rafters. I think Cena said to him “Good luck in your third straight Money in the Bank match.” And then they fought. Easy to see why; that hurt.
-#27 gives us Jack Swagger to create the illusion of starpower, and then my boy Sheamus is #28. Why’s he my boy? Because he threw out Hornswoggle. MY BOY! #29 is Rey Mysterio, who takes Swagger out of the match. Hey, remember when Swagger was World Champion for 3 months? How long ago was THAT? What do you mean it was last year? Really? Wow, things go south quickly.
-#30 is Wade Barrett. I believed I was almost done this rant, but no; Vince had to expand the match. This will be good for Barrett; for once, he gets to main event a show where the buyrate will be good. He should try and take credit for it.
-#31 is Dolph Ziggler, trying to earn another shot, and #32 is Kevin Nash’s crippled, slightly brain-damaged older brother. Oh, wait, sorry, that actually IS Kevin Nash. Good lord. Next time CM Punk wants to show the horrors of leading a life of excess, he should just show footage of Nash coming to the ring. Nash does boot Mysterio in the face for old time’s sake. Kinda wish he lawn-darted him into a trailer again as well.
-Crowd chants “LET’S GO DIESEL!” There was a time when I’d help Red Sox fans beat up Yankees fans, but now I’m not even sure about that.
-#33 is Drew McIntyre. He and Nash should have a walking race. That would be a nice three hour PPV: who can walk from their couch to the fridge in the fastest time? We may even need an overrun.
-#34 is Alex Riley, who brings Miz with him to do commentary. Wade Barrett dumps Diesel, which improves the median pace considerably. Not to worry, Big Show is out at #35 to slow things down again. He and Nash have a staredown in passing. I hope Show remembered to lock his 144 oz cooler; Nash can’t be near that thing unsupervised. #36 is Ezekiel Jackson, because somebody distinctly yelled “KEEP THE PACE SLOW!” Show tosses Ziggler, and then to make me happy, throws out McIntyre. Then Jackson dumps out Show. If I alternate between happy and annoyed any more, people are going to mistake me for Naomi Campbell.
-#37 brings us Santino Marella, who gets mauled and knocked under the bottom rope. This may become important later.
-#38 is Alberto Del Rio, whose entrance takes up the duration of the next time frame. That’s just in time for Randy Orton at #39, who attacks Del Rio on the way in, and then Kingston and Sheamus are history. Also, Alex Riley went out somewhere in there, but like you, I don’t really care how either.
-#40 is Kane. So this gives us Kane, Cena, Orton, Del Rio, Barrett, Mysterio, Zeke, and Marella who is still dead on the floor. If you had this as your final eight, you either work for WWE, or you’re the guy from the Dead Zone and you touched Vince’s clammy hand. If you’re fortelling death, please do something, man. Especially if I’m involved in any way.
-Kane dumps Ezekiel. Never woulda guessed.
-Mysterio eliminates Kane, but then Barrett dumps Mysterio to bring it down to a final four. Well, technically, final five with Marella still as a corpse. Orton and Cena have the epic staredown, which was epic in the sense of “Listen to the crowd epically not react!” I think everyone was still waiting for Triple H to come in. I love when rumors raise expectations, and then they get killed.
-Oh wow, Riley provided a distraction for Cena, and then Miz ran in to toss Cena out! Cena promises Cole that this isn’t over and then leaves. If that was Hogan, he would have dumped everyone out and posed for fifteen minutes. I’m glad it’s not 1988 anymore.
-Out of nowhere, Barrett chucks Orton, and then Del Rio throws out Barrett to win! BUT WAIT! Santino slides in, making this the most bizarre final pair since, well, probably One Man Gang and Jim Duggan in 1988. HISTORY IN THE MAKING! Santino lands the Cobra on Del Rio and over celebrates, leading to Alberto eliminating Santino to win the Rumble. Wow. Never would have guessed that, and it shows the kind of faith WWE seems to have in ADR. Rumble was slow in spots, exciting in others, and never terribly boring. Will be interesting to see where they go with Alberto as the face of a new generation.
-CYNIC SAYS: Well, that was certainly a different show. The two World Title matches were good (especially Edge-Ziggler), the Women’s match didn’t suck, and the Rumble provided some great moments and jaw-dropping surprises. I’m sure the road to Wrestlemania will have many more twists and turns, but for the time being, the Rumble stands as a welcome attraction, as it tends to do.
Every year, WWE does one of these DVDs, bringing you what they consider the best matches featured on PPV each calendar year (although they always make the DVD before December is over, leaving off the last PPV of the year in the process. I have never understood this.
This is especially true considering how good TLC reportedly was.). While WWE television was really hit-or-miss during 2011, they had a pretty strong calendar year in regards to quality PPV matches. If you don’t believe me, check this DVD out for yourself. The Best Pay-Per-View Matches of 2011 features 14 matches from this past year, spanning most of the PPV events.
While I had originally seen most of the matches on this set, there were a few that I had never seen and had only read about. I don’t order every PPV event like I used to years ago, not only because it’s usually not worth it, but generally, I can’t afford to do so anyway.
So, while this set was mostly a rerun for me, there were some good matches on here that were fresh. At the same time, there were matches on here that, in my opinion, didn’t belong.
While the best match of the year CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank-is included (as well as an awesome video package for CM Punk that led to the match), one other match from that PPV is conspicuously absent. The set does feature one of the MITB matches from the event, but the WWE chose to show the one from RAW, despite the one from Smackdown! being vastly superior.
While the RAW match was decent, it featured a mess of an ending thanks to a busted ladder, as well as a very predictable winner in Alberto Del Rio. Meanwhile, the Smackdown! match was solid from top to bottom, featured great outings from Sheamus and Wade Barrett, and an awesome ending featuring a total dark horse winning, that being current World Champion Daniel Bryan. While I’ve seen both and both were good, there really was no comparison, and the Smackdown! match should have been the one to be featured.
Aside from those, we also get the great ladder match that saw Christian win his first World title, defeating Alberto Del Rio, a good match between CM Punk and Rey Mysterio from Capitol Punishment (one of Mysterio’s better performances in years), and a surprisingly good match from Night of Champions that saw Mark Henry win his first World title from Randy Orton. I thought this match would really suck, but Henry put in one of the best performances of his career and looked like the monster he should in the process.
There are some other good to great matches on this set, but as we all know, even on a “Best of” DVD, there’s going to be some matches that suck. I know a lot of people liked the Cody Rhodes/Rey Mysterio match from Wrestlemania, but watching this one the second time around, I’m still not impressed.
At the time, Cody Rhodes wasn’t even remotely impressing me. I’m still not a fan of his now, although he has greatly improved since then. However, he was just okay in this match. Not horrible, not great. The other match on here that I really disagree with is also from Wrestlemania. The 27th installment of ‘Mania was one of the worst ones of all time, in my opinion, and the Triple H/Undertaker No Holds Barred Match from the event is one of the reasons why.
I know there are a lot of people who will disagree with me and think this is one of the greatest matches of all time, but I just don’t get it. The match was a total clusterf*ck featuring a needless amount of finisher kick-outs, botch after botch after botch, and a horribly predictable ending that saw Triple H tap out to the worst version of the Hells’ Gate submission I have ever seen.
It also didn’t help that the WWE refused to acknowledge that Triple H and ‘Taker had already faced each other at WM 17, when both guys were 10 years younger, much healthier and put on a much, much, MUCH better match. Fortunately, Triple H redeems himself later in the set with a good No Holds Barred Match with CM Punk from Night of Champions (although the ending left something to be desired thanks to interference from Awesome Truth and Kevin Nash).
Then there’s the obligatory divas match. While I am a big fan of women’s wrestling, let’s face facts-most WWE divas matches suck something awful, and Kelly Kelly should never be featured on a “Best of” DVD of any kind, save for maybe a compilation of women who look like they’re constipated 24 hours a day. Fortunately, the right woman went over here, but Beth had to carry Kelly the entire match in order to make it even remotely watchable.
Aside from these few complaints, overall, the set is pretty good, and features a pretty solid lineup. Not the best matches the WWE has ever done, but overall, definitely some of the best of the year. Plus, contributions from John Cena and Randy Orton are kept to a bare minimum, which is always a bonus. If you didn’t get a chance to watch a lot of the PPVs from last year, you could do much worse than get this DVD.
The DVD versions will feature:
World Heavyweight Championship Match
Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler
Royal Rumble – 30th January, 2011
Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Wade Barrett vs. Kane vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Big Show
Elimination Chamber – 20th February, 2011
Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes
WrestleMania XXVII – 3rd April, 2011
No Holds Barred Match
Undertaker vs. Triple H
WrestleMania XXVII – 3rd April, 2011
One Door Closes, Another Open Up
Ladder Match for the Vacant World Heavyweight Championship
Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio
Extreme Rules – 1st May, 2011
Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk
Capitol Punishment – 19th June, 2011
Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Evan Bourne vs. Jack Swagger vs. R-Truth vs. The Miz vs. Alex Riley vs. Rey Mysterio
Money in the Bank – 17th July, 2011
A Message From CM Punk
WWE Championship Match
John Cena vs. CM Punk
Money in the Bank – 17th July, 2011
One More Time
No Holds Barred Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Christian vs. Randy Orton
SummerSlam – 14th August, 2011
World Heavyweight Championship Match
Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry
Night of Champions – 18th September, 2011
No Disqualification Match
Triple H vs. CM Punk
Night of Champions – 18th September, 2011
Divas Championship Match
Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix
Hell in a Cell – 2nd October, 2011
Triple Threat Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Championship
John Cena vs. CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio
Hell in a Cell – 2nd October, 2011
World Heavyweight Championship Match
Mark Henry vs. Big Show
Vengeance – 23rd October, 2011
Blu-ray Exclusives for the set:
Randy Orton vs. CM Punk
WrestleMania XXVII – 3rd April, 2011
Rey Mysterio vs. R-Truth
Over the Limit – 22nd May, 2011
World Heavyweight Championship Match
Randy Orton vs. Christian
Capitol Punishment – 19th June, 2011
Rey Mysterio, John Morrison & Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz, R-Truth & Alberto Del Rio
SummerSlam – 14th August, 2011
Christian Discusses His Match with Alberto Del Rio at Extreme Rules
Cody Rhodes Discusses His Match with Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania
Dolph Ziggler Discusses His Match with Edge at Royal Rumble
-Live from Anaheim, home of Walt Disney’s frozen head.
Opening Segment: Mick Foley
Of course Foley attends a show in a city known for amusement parks. We’re getting CM Punk/Daniel Bryan vs. Mark Henry/Dolph Ziggler tonight, as well as Zack Ryder vs. Jack Swagger for the US Title, assuming Ryder is healthy. Foley looks to have had some botox. Foley even mentions Disneyland for the cheap pop. Foley says he’s happy being a walk-on participant for nostalgia purposes. Hey, at least he admits the “This is Your Life, Cena” segment sucked. Foley brings up WrestleMania 2000 in this building, as if the target audience remembers that show. Foley says his two younger kids have no memories of their dad wrestling. I guess we can rule out them watching TNA. Oh, and Foley is in the 2012 Royal Rumble. Foley’s moment is disrupted by Vickie and Dolph Ziggler, and Ziggler questions Foley deserving a spot in the Rumble. He claims the hard-working roster deserves it more than some has-been, which is funny, because Foley’s the last guy you’d accuse of burying the younger talents. Ziggler says Foley may make a fool of himself, and Foley says maybe, maybe not. Mick claims to have higher goals, because he wants to win it. Ziggler says he worked all year long for his chance to be champion. He’s got a point. Ziggler says he’d be pissed if he won the title and had to defend it at WrestleMania against some broken down clod like Foley. Dolph tells him it’s over, and to go away. This brings out CM Punk, to a massive pop (massive pops in Anaheim = bike horn decibel). Punk plays the cheap pop game, and then accuses Ziggler of trying to fit a WWE mold that’s expected of superstars. Oh, and Vickie’s a poor excuse for a woman, says the champ. Punk says he and Foley have earned all their achievements, unlike Dolph. Punk then hits some harsh John Laurinaitis insults. Punk guarantees victory at Royal Rumble because “he’s the best wrestler in the world”. Punk also says he’d be honored to face Foley at WrestleMania. Laurinaitis makes his way out, and he vows impartiality at the Rumble. He also says Foley will not be in the Rumble. Vickie laughs at Foley as we fade out. Segment Rating: 6/10. The younger, lazier audience just makes Foley seem like an anachronism when he should be reveling in the love of a diehard audience. Ziggler’s speech was money, though.
Match 1: Primo/Epico vs. Air Boom (WWE Tag Team Championship)
4:1 odds that Air Boom has dissension and it winds up with Evan getting endeavored. (Evandored?) Primo and Epico have some excellent music, it should be noted. Bourne gets the dead weight hurrachanrana, but the cousins Colon land a double fallaway slam. Bourne manages to rana Epico into Primo, and Kofi gets the tag. “Controlled frenzy” ensues and Kofi’s getting booed for some reason. Boom Drop connects, but Epico gets a roll up for 2. Kofi hits the TIP, but Evan gets knocked off on the Air Bourne attempt. Backstabber connects for the win. WINNERS: Primo/Epico via Backstabber RATING: 4/10. I’m gonna miss Evan.
-David Otunga gives Laurinaitis a mysterious envelope. Someone greets Laurinaitis, who is informed of a match change: Ziggler, Henry, and Otunga vs. Punk, Bryan, and….JERICHO! Jericho’s so thrilled, he turns off the lights and lets his jacket do the talking.
-Cheap plug: I take a look at why Brodus Clay has the potential to be very beneficial to WWE, and how he can open the door for many future characters. What’s not to love about the love child of Hugh Morrus and Flavor Flav? Check it out here. http://bit.ly/wV6CUi
-SIN CITY SMACKDOWN IS THIS FRIDAY! How can one company make Vegas into a PG concept? Don’t bet against WWE!
-Zack Ryder is apparently unable to wrestle tonight with the rib injuries, but Ryder (rather grittily) says he’s not vacating the belt. See, build him back up.
Match 2: Zack Ryder vs. Jack Swagger (WWE United States Championship)
Is it me, or do titles matter tonight? I legit don’t want to see Ryder lose the belt. WWE’S MADE ME CARE! And we have Eve and Vickie as valets! I’ve woken up in 1998! GET ME A FURBY! Sadly, Eve looks about as enthused to be here as Jerry Sandusky at a grand jury hearing. Swagger gets a side suplex and the onslaught is focused on the ribcage. Ryder tries to mount a comeback but eats a backbreaker. Pump splash gets only 2. Gutwrench also gets 2. Jack gets the Swagger Bomb, but Ryder kicks out of even that! Cole and Lawler big-league the call when JR would have screamed over it. Swagger is frustrated, but lands another Swagger Bomb and wins the belt. Well then. WINNER: Jack Swagger via Swagger Bomb (New United States Champion) RATING: 3/10. Ryder could have used a monster comeback there to really get himself over, but hey: I’m just the guy who watches and reviews the show.
-Ace reveals that he let Ryder compete despite not being cleared, and Eve gives him an earful. Ace tells her off, which gets a nice “oooooh” from the crowd.
-Perez Hilton is here to ring announce. Shoot me. Perez Hilton deserves the Chris Benoit treatment. We should never bring him up, and hope there’s asphyxiation in his future
Match 3: Kelly Kelly/Alicia Fox vs. The Bella Twins
Stuff happens, Perez gets involved, and Kelly pins a Bella with a roll-up. Perez, Alicia, and Kelly celebrate in the ring. That ring could be overwhelmed with locusts and the plague right now and I’d shed no tears. WINNERS: Kelly Kelly/Alicia Fox via roll-up RATING: Negative 7/10. Now I sort of feel better. Michael Cole: “I can’t wait to read all about this on http://PerezHilton.com/!” I can’t wait until Michael Cole has an aneurysm.
Talk Segment: R-Truth
Highlight of the show so far: a cutie in the crowd in a Dibiase Posse shirt. Somebody give her my contact info? Before Truth can talk, Wade Barrett makes his way out. Barrett guarantees victory in 2012 Royal Rumble, and reveals that he and Truth are both entrants. Ok, good, now we just need 28 more. Truth makes British jokes and confers with Li’l Jimmy. Truth has a slideshow of his day at Disneyland, which includes his meeting various Disney characters. Truth’s face upon meeting Pinocchio is actually funny. Apparently, Pinocchio said Barrett would win the Rumble and, well, his nose grew. Truth: “I DUNNO IF DATS’S EVEN PG!!!” I laughed. Truth hits the punchline, but The Miz jumps him. Three man brawl is enhanced with Sheamus’ presence, and FINALLY we’re establishing the Rumble roster. Teddy Long comes out, and makes a four man over the top rope challenge with those four.
Segment Rating: 7/10, only because Truth makes me laugh.
Match 4: Over the Top Rope Challenge: The Miz, Sheamus, R-Truth, and Wade Barrett
Generic brawling begins, and Barrett is dumped by the majority before long, just to demonstrate the “no allies” concept. Truth dazzles with some break dance defense and a high kick, but Miz takes him down quickly enough. Truth is tossed, but he hangs on. Sheamus gets Miz with a series of sledges, and follows with the Dublin Drubbing (the chest whacks, which is what I’m calling it until it has an official name). Sheamus is crotched on the Brogue Kick, but recovers soon enough to try and dump Miz, but Truth tosses them both to win. Sheamus gives Miz the Brogue Kick outside the ring just to wreck Miz’s “I’m a scary bad ass” schtick that began two months ago. WINNER: R-Truth RATING: 5/10. Short and harmless.
-Cena bitches at Ace for letting Ryder get hurt. Ace makes Cena and Kane for the Rumble. Cena faces Swagger next, non-title.
Match 5: Jack Swagger vs. John Cena (non title)
Part of me is hoping this was for the belt, so Cena can win and bring the original spinner back. Cena, of course, beats the crap out of Swagger before the bell. Swagger gets sent up and over the top and battered outside the ring. Cena proceeds to beat Swagger down with a ton of closed fists with a crazed look in his eye. Swags eats the ringsteps and Cena continues to emote rage. Swagger lays dead on the lower half of the steps, but Cena isn’t done. Cena goes to crown him with the upper hand, but the pyro explodes and Kane appears on the tron. Ahh, and Kane is happy that Cena is demonstrating “hate”. WINNER: No match RATING: 6/10. It was nice seeing Psycho Cena for a change, as opposed to Happy Fun Cena.
Match 6: Brodus Clay vs. JTG
Noticeable pop for the introduction of Brodus’ name. If WWE can avoid screwing this up, he’s going to be money. He plays the character with his heart, and the audience knows it. Clay dominates, and even tricks JTG into looking the other way before feeding him a punch. Fall of Humanity finishes, and Clay dances some more. Dibiase Posse fan is getting down! Contact info, give it out! WINNER: Brodus Clay via Fall of Humanity RATING: 4/10. My favorite kind of squashes: the energetic ones. By the way, can we get Naomi Knight (one of the dancers) in booty shorts? Just a suggestion.
-Replays of the Big Show/AJ collision angle. Ugh, now I feel bad. All that ogling of Naomi, and I forgot that AJ has my heart. I’m sorry, AJ! I can bring over some ATHF DVDs and we can have some curry! It’ll be okay, don’t leave me! Daniel Bryan makes his way out to a showering of boos, and proceeds to denounce Show as being a reckless freak. Bryan accuses Show of intentionally injuring AJ, and calls his tears fake. Bryan promises to hurt Show if he ever bares his face on Smackdown again. Oh, and Bryan emphatically dedicates his title defense against Mark Henry to AJ. That’s so sweet!
-So Bryan makes his way out for the main event, and it’s JERICHO JACKET TIME~!! Jericho still has the the 2008-2010 shorts as part of his look. The usual overpandering ensues.
Main Event: CM Punk/Daniel Bryan/Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler/Mark Henry/David Otunga
Jericho still panders while all the heels made their entrances during the break, and Jericho’s song is still playing. That is too funny. Punk and Ziggler begin, which is a good choice. Mat sequence begins things and Punk takes control, while Jericho claps out of place. Bryan tags in and takes over, but Dolph gets the upper hand and works the knee. Take is made to Otunga, who works the knee as well. Dolph tags back in and works a half crab as Y2J chants kick up. Bryan makes the ropes and Ziggler misses an ensuing corner splash. Tags are made to Punk and Otunga, and Punk kicks away at Ace’s toadie. Ziggler tags back in to stomp Punk, as the crowd grows restless for Jericho. I’m anticipating how he’ll screw them yet again. Dolph works a side headlock, but Punk creatively counters with a backbreaker. Otunga tags back in as Jericho dances around, rallying the crowd. Oh man, however he screws the audience, it’s going to be glorious! Punk lands a Savage Elbow on Otunga as Punk crawls to his corner. Jericho tags! And Jericho dances! And dances! And dances! And tags Bryan! And leaves! And we go to commercial! We return with Ziggler wrenching Bryan with a modified camel clutch. Ziggler can’t keep the control, and Bryan tags Punk, who goes crazy on Dolph. Knee/bulldog combo fells Dolph, as does the springboard clothesline for 2. Henry and Bryan collide and Bryan angers him with a right hand. The two end up brawling in the aisle, and the champ takes a header up the ramp. The two brawl away, and Foley jogs slowly to the ring to fill in for Jericho. Punk misses an enzuigiri, and Dolph gets a fame asser for 2. Ziggler remains unable to put Punk away, despite many attempts. Foley and Otunga get the tags and Mick goes to town on Carlton. Corner knee connects. Double arm DDT connects and hereeeeeeee’s Socko! And Otunga is done for. Ahh, but Ace comes out and says since Foley was not a legal entrant, he’s reversing the decision. WINNERS: Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry, and David Otunga by DQ RATING: 7/10. Just plain fun from start to finish.
Punk gets sour, and starts accosting Ace, saying his authority means nothing. Things get heated, and Punk tells Ace off. As a wrestler, Ace sucked, says Punk. Punk invokes LOD, saying Ace could never be Animal. Punk says Ace couldn’t cut it in the ring, so he takes it out on the talent he’s jealous of, especially Punk. Punk’s brought this crowd to life with this rabble-rousing speech. Punk promises that if Ace screws him at the Rumble, he will kick his ass. Punk even makes Ace flinch with a threat to strike as the crowd chants “CM PUNK” in unison as the champ leaves. Foley sarcastically taunts Ace, who is now stewing. Ace says he will not be intimidated, and Foley poses the hard question: admit that he’s going to screw Punk. Then Foley calls him a kiss-ass. Ace then says it: he WILL screw Punk at the Rumble. Ace finally snaps. He says he’s not appreciated for putting on Raw every week, and he’s not going to take it anymore. And with that, Ace nails Foley with the mic before leaving.
Segment Rating: 10/10. Not only did Punk cut his best promo since August, or maybe the night after TLC, but Ace NAILED his part, and I actually wanna see a match between the two now.
OVERALL: Many blasé parts, especially with Perez Hilton, but man did the Punk and Ace stuff make this show worthwhile. Call it a thumbs up on their Herculean effort.
Welcome to the 1/6/12 edition of Smackdown!, the first episode of the New Year. We start off with a video of Wade Barrett injuring Randy Orton last week in the Falls-Count-Anywhere Match.
Tonight, Daniel Bryan will defend the World Championship against the Big Show in the main event. We’re also getting an IC title match tonight, which is happening now.
MATCH 1-Intercontinental Championship: Booker T vs. Champion Cody Rhodes
Book starts with a hammerlock into a side headlock, followed by a shoulder block off the ropes, sending Rhodes into the corner. Book with some knee lifts in the corner, followed by a back elbow off the ropes for 2. Book locks in an armbar, but Rhodes backs him into the corner and breaks it with punches and kicks. More punches by Rhodes. Rhodes sends Book hard into the corner, locks in an arm wringer and begins wrenching the arm. Rhodes turns it into a hammerlock, but Book elbows out. They trade chops, with Book getting the advantage. Back body drop off the ropes for Book, followed by the arm twist into a side kick for 2. Book pulls Rhodes back up and begins with the knife edge. He throws Rhodes over the top, but Rhodes hangs on and skins the cat. Book sees it and clotheslines Rhodes to the floor just as Rhodes flips back in the ring. Book follows out, where Rhodes drops him chest-first onto the barricade and follows up with a running boot. Commercials.
Back from the break, Rhodes slams Book head-first into the turnbuckle. Book reverses a hip toss into a backslide for 2, followed by a thrust kick for another 2. He ties Rhodes up in the corner and hits a chop and some forearms. Rhodes reverses a corner whip and hits a moonsault for 2. Rhodes proceeds to stomping on Book. Rhodes hits a snapmare and a modified double chicken-wing. Rhodes pulls him back up, but Book ducks a clothesline and hits a forearm. Clothesline and a sidewalk slam score another 2 for Book. Book hits the 110th Street Slam for another 2. He kicks Rhodes in the gut and sets up for the axe kick, but Rhodes sees it coming. Book tries for the Bookend, but Rhodes fights it off. Book comes back with another boot to the gut and connects with the axe kick, but only scores 2. Rhodes reverses a corner whip, but Book comes back with a punch. He tries for the axe kick one more time, but Rhodes sees it coming. Book misses the Harlem Sidekick, which allows Rhodes to connect with the Beautiful Disaster for the 3.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Cody Rhodes. After the match, Book stands up with tears in his eyes and thanks the crowd. I’m thinking that Booker T is officially retiring at this point.
Backstage, we see Cody Rhodes walking around, smiling. Goldust stops him and congratulates him on beating one of the all-time greats. Rhodes asks if that’s flattery. He says there’s a reason they don’t speak. He’s a greater success than his brother, and might even be a greater success than their dad. If ‘Dust is considering putting the paint back on and having one last run, he needs to remember that he’s not a joke or laughing stock, but he could be if decides come after Rhodes.
Zack Ryder is in Teddy Long’s office, thanking him for getting to be the assistant to the general manager. Since he’s won the U.S. title, he no longer can do the job, but has hired a solid replacement. Drew McIntyre walks in, and Long can’t believe it. Ryder says it’s not McIntyre, and introduces the actual replacement, Santino Marella. Long says that McIntyre will face Marella tonight, and if Santino wins, he gets the assistant job. If McIntyre wins, Long may consider not firing him. Aksana and her bad-even-for-porn music make their way into Long’s office. Long says he misses her, and tonight, after the show, they could go out and have some dinner.
Backstage, we see Alicia Fox talking to AJ. AJ’s worried about Daniel Bryan’s match tonight. Fox says she hopes AJ’s boyfriend can handle the loss. AJ’s concerned for Bryan. Bryan says after he wins tonight, they can celebrate. He then kisses her on the forehead.
MATCH 2-Over-the-Top-Rope Challenge: Hornswoggle vs. Heath Slater
I don’t like Heath Slater, but even he doesn’t deserve this. No one on the roster should ever have go through with what Slater’s about to go through. Hornswoggle stomps on Slater’s foot, punches him and bites his ass. Slater misses a kick and gets a head to the gut, followed by a kick from Hornswoggle. Slater grabs Hornswoggle by the throat and throws him down. Slater follows up with a foot choke in the corner. Slater hoists him on the top rope and tries to push him over, but Hornswoggle slaps him. He tries for a cross body, but Slater catches him and tries to dump him over the top. Hornswoggle lands on the apron and pulls Slater over by the hair, sending him to the floor.
WINNER: Hornswoggle. After the match, Slater attacks Hornswoggle from behind. Justin Gabriel runs in and takes Slater down with an STO, and follows up with a 450 splash. Gabriel and Hornswoggle then celebrate. Someone put a hit out on him, please.
I wonder if the movie Man on a Ledge is about a man on a ledge. Hmmm…
Did You Know? The Road Dogg and Billy Gunn have cameos in the movie The Other Guys.
MATCH 3: Ted DiBiase vs. Hunico (w/Camacho)
Before the match, Hunico says he heard DiBiase likes to have a good time. He’s never been invited to one of DiBiase’s tailgate parties. Camacho asks if he’s got something against them. Hunico then says maybe they’ll bring the party to him. DiBiase starts with a side headlock into a hip throw, and follows up with a pair of arm drags into an armbar. They trade shoves, but DiBiase gets the better of it and hits some punches. Hunico goes for a headscissors, but DiBiase holds on and turns it into a sit-out facebuster. DiBiase goes for a back body drop, but Hunico slides out and shoves DiBiase into the corner shoulder-first. Hunico then begins working on the arm, going into an armbar. DiBiase fights back up, but Hunico whips him back down by the arm, turning the move into a fujiwara. Hunico turns it into a hammerlock, but DiBiase picks Hunico up into a Samoan drop. DiBiase sidesteps a corner charge and lands a dropkick, followed by an inverted atomic drop, a running knee strike and a misdirection clothesline for 2. DiBiase looks for Dream Street, but Hunico counters into a shoulder stunner. Hunico throws DiBiase into the corner, then locks in a strange-looking submission that he actually turns into a pinning combination, getting the 3.
WINNER: Hunico. I’m not sure what to call the move Hunico just used, as I’ve never seen it before. Looked good, though. So much for DiBiase’s push he was supposedly getting.
We see Wade Barrett talking to some WWE staff in the trainers room.
Back from commercials, Wade Barrett is making his way down to the ring. He told the doctors not to bother coming down to the ring today, because he can handle the medical update himself. He then shows us the footage from last week when Orton got injured. What happened to Orton is just a byproduct of the Falls-Count-Anywhere Match, and Orton now has a herniated disc in his back. As for his career, he’s finished. He might come back one day, but psychologically, he’ll never be the same. Ironically, in less than four weeks, the Royal Rumble match will take place in Orton’s hometown of St. Louis, MO. He says it’s ironic because, instead of Orton winning the match, he has to sit with the fans and watch Barrett win. Barrett says there isn’t a single superstar who can stop him from winning now. Sheamus’ music hits and he makes his way down. Sheamus tells a story about his uncle Wilford, and that he was exactly like Barrett. He was a big talker and loved his own voice, but was just a simple sheepherder. Sheamus says Barrett will have problems winning the Rumble, and Sheamus will be his biggest one. Uncle Wilford was kicked in the head by a mule when he was a kid, and that was his excuse for his fantasy stories. What’s Barrett’s excuse for sounding like a horse’s arse?
Because no one asked for it, Jind Mahal’s music now hits as Barrett climbs out of the ring. Mahal climbs in the ring and slaps Sheamus across the face. Sheamus boots him and begins to club him down as Barrett attacks from behind. Eventually, the heels start double-teaming Sheamus, but Sheamus fights them both off, knocking them down with Irish Hammers and hitting a pair of powerslams. He picks Barrett up for the Celtic Cross, but Mahal kicks him in the stomach. Mahal eats another Irish Hammer, but Sheamus turns right around into the Winds of Change by Barrett. Mahal climbs back in the ring after Barrett leaves, locking Sheamus in the camel clutch. You know, WWE began burying this guy because they were disappointed in how badly he sucked. Why is he now getting a push all of a sudden?
MATCH 4: Santino Marella vs. Drew McIntyre
Tie-up to start, which results in McIntyre throwing Marella down. Marella does the splits to duck a clothesline and hits some punches, but McIntyre knocks him down out of the corner for 2. McIntyre throws Marella into the corner, hits a running forearm and a snap suplex for 2. McIntyre chokes Marella over the middle rope with his leg. McIntyre sets up for the Future Shock, but Marella reverses into a roll-up for 2. McIntyre knocks Marella back down with a clothesline before throwing Marella into the corner and stomping him. He sets Marella up on the top rope and climbs up. Marella falls to the apron, somehow dragging McIntyre down with him, causing McIntyre to hit head-first onto the ring post. Marella quickly hits the Cobra and gets the 3.
WINNER: Santino Marella, who is now the assistant to the GM thanks to this win.
Michael Cole shows a video from WWE ’12, featuring him beating up Daniel Bryan and winning the World title. As thrilling as it sounds.
After the break, we see Drew McIntyre in the back. Teddy Long walks in, and McIntyre makes up excuses as to why he lost. Long says this week was strike two, and if McIntyre loses again next week, he may just get fired. Santino Marella runs up and says he and Long will make beautiful music together.
MATCH 5: Epico and Primo (w/Rosa Mendes) vs. WWE Tag Team Champions Air Boom (Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston) (non-title)
We get a cutaway promo from Rosa, but I don’t speak Spanish. Oh, well. She looks damn good. Epico starts off with Bourne. They trade a few holds, resulting in Epico hitting a kick and some punches. Bourne fires back some kicks and an arm wringer before tagging in Kingston, who hits a dropkick off the ropes for 2. Epico trips Kingston up into the ropes, and Primo kicks him in the head behind the ref’s back. Epico gets 2 and throws Kingston into the corner for some stomps before tagging in Primo. Primo continues with the stomps before tagging Epico back in, who does more stomping for another 2. Epico hits a low dropkick for another 2 before going for a rear chinlock. Kingston fights back up, but Epico corner whips him. Kingston gets his elbow up on the charge and hits a middle rope cross body. Primo tags in as Bourne tags in. Bourne hits a hurricanrana and a kick before knocking Epico to the floor. He hits a jumping roundhouse and a forearm in the corner before going up top and hitting the double knee strike for. Epico breaks up the pin, causing Kingston to knock him to the floor. Epico hides behind Rosa Mendes, allowing Epico to drag him to the floor. Primo tries for the Backstabber, but Bourne sees it coming and hits a knee strike. Bourne goes up for Airbourne, but Epico drags Primo out of the way, sending Bourne face-first to the mat.
WINNERS: Primo easily gets the 3.
Backstage, Ken Doll Striker is interviewing the Big Show, asking him about his confidence. Show says his confidence is at an all-time high, but he can’t wait to take that belt back. He calls Daniel Bryan a good wrestler. Bryan walks in and says that he is, and he’ll soon be a great wrestler. If he had his skill and Show’s size, it wouldn’t have taken him nine years to get his championship back. Show puts his hand on Bryan’s shoulder and says not to make him hurt him. Bryan tells him to get his damn hand off his shoulder. Looks like Bryan is turning heel, despite reports that it would be Show. Who cares? Daniel Bryan rules either way.
Next week, Sheamus will face Jinder Mahal once again.
MATCH 6: Natalya vs. Tamina
Before the match, we get footage of both Nattie’s dad (Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) and Tamina’s dad (“Superfly” Jimmy Snuka), which was a nice touch. Nattie immediately spears Tamina down, then kicks her in the ribs before some mounted punches. Nattie stomps her in the gut and looks for the Sharpshooter, but Tamina kicks her off. They each bounce off the ropes and simultaneously go for a cross body, sending both to the mat. Tamina picks Nattie up in a Samoan drop, then positions her for the Superfly Splash, which connects. Tamina hits it and gets the 3.
WINNER: Tamina. While I hate to see it at Nattie’s expense, I’m glad to see Tamina finally getting pushed here.
Before the main event starts, Mark Henry makes his way out. He will be guest color commentator for the match.
MATCH 7-World Championship: The Big Show vs. Champion Daniel Bryan
So, now that Bryan’s turning heel, whatever will Michael Cole do if he goes full-bore with it? The boos in the crowd have already begun. Show keeps trying to grab Bryan, but Bryan keeps outrunning him. Show eventually gets Bryan in the corner, hits a gut shot and some open-hand chops. He drops Bryan with a tree slam, sending him to the floor. Commercials.
Back fro the break, Bryan is trying to take Show down with kicks to the leg, but Show just pushes him off, sending him to the floor. Show follow out, and Bryan gets back in the ring and hits a baseball slide on Show. He goes for a plancha, but Show catches him. Show goes to lawn dart Bryan into the post, but Bryan slips free and sends him into the steps. He then gets up on the apron and knocks show down with a running knee strike. Show makes it in at a count of 8, and takes Bryan down with a chop to the chest. Bryan comes back with a dropkick to the knee and a series of kicks to the chest for 2. Show pushes him into the corner, but runs into a pair of boots. Bryan hits a seated missile dropkick from the middle rope for another 2. Show powers out, sending Bryan to the floor. Mark Henry stands up and begins taunting Bryan. Show tries to drag Bryan back into the ring, but Bryan catches him with a kick. He goes up top, but jumps off right into a chop to the chest. Show whips Bryan into the corner and misses the charge, but comes back with a spear for 2. Show sets up for the chokeslam, but Bryan reverses into the guillotine choke. Bryan’s lip or gum is busted open, and he’s got a mouthful of blood. Show tries to break free, but Bryan reverses into the LeBell Lock. Show nearly taps out, but manages to break free. He looks for the WMD, but Bryan rolls to the floor. Henry continues to talk trash, so Bryan gets in his face. Henry shoves him to the floor, causing the disqualification.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION, AND STILL CHAMPION: Daniel Bryan. Bryan grabs the belt and begins celebrating to a chorus of boos. I don’t know about you, but I’m LOVING Bryan as a chickensh*t heel already.
Welcome to the 12/23/11 edition of SmackDown! Hope everyone’s Festivus season is still going well. I have chosen my opponent for the Festivus Feats of Strength, so I’m set.
On a serious note, I would like to congratulate not only Zack Ryder for finally winning the WWE United States title, but big congratulations to Daniel Bryan on becoming the new World Champion as well. There aren’t too many guys more deserving than Bryan, who has been busting his ass for over a decade to get to this point. And, on a personal note, it is incredibly awesome seeing a man become World Champion who literally grew up about 20-30 minutes north of where I did, at roughly the exact same time. There’s always something cool about seeing someone local succeed so greatly in life, and it’s especially cool when one of those people becomes the World Champion in the number one wrestling promotion in history. Kudos to you, Daniel Bryan. You’ve done the state of Washington proud.
Speaking of champions, the show opens up with the man Daniel Bryan beat for the World title, that being the Big Show. Show gets a mic and says he thought for sure he’d be standing here as the new World Heavyweight Champion. He’s not, and he can’t believe the new champion is Daniel Bryan. He’s going to ask Bryan to come down in a moment, but first, everyone’s been asking him how feels about what happened. He scratched and clawed for nine years to become champion again. He was finally there on Sunday, and it wasn’t easy. He was so proud to become champion, and just like that, it was gone. He’s got a lot of mixed emotions right now, including disappointment, anger, shock, rage and confusion. We then see footage of Josh Mathews interviewing Show from this past Monday night, where Mathews reminded Show he has the dubious distinction of having the shortest World title reign in history. Back to Show on SmackDown! He says he’s proud of himself because he didn’t go over the edge. He’s had several days to think about this, and wants to give his honest feelings.
Just as Show’s about to open up, Mark Henry makes his way down to the ring, complete with heavily taped left foot. Henry asks if Show said he was proud, and wants to know what he’s proud of, the shortest title reign in the history of this business? It’ll say that on Show’s tombstone. Henry says Show honestly feels embarrassed and humiliated. He’d feel that way if it was him. Show should take a week off and then leave the business for good. Henry wants his rematch with Bryan tonight. Show wants to know why he gets a rematch.
Daniel Bryan’s music and here comes my hometown boy and the new World Champion. Bryan says he knows Show and Henry can’t believe he’s the new champion. He doesn’t think anyone in the arena believes it, not even him. Let’s face it, Bryan’s not the strongest or the tallest, the fastest or strongest, doesn’t have a cool name or catchphrase, isn’t all that attractive and has nothing that screams “WWE superstar”. What he is, though, is a very good wrestler, and hopes to be one of the great ones some day. Despite all of this, he is still the World Champion. Henry calls him a pipsqueak, and he beats the hell out of Bryan every time he touches him. Henry wants the belt back and wants it tonight. Show interjects and says he deserves the rematch since he beat Henry for the belt at TLC. Henry and Show trade a few more words before Teddy Long makes his way out. Long tells them that before they go to blows, they both deserve the chance to compete against Bryan, but tonight, they’re competing against each other, with the winner becoming the new #1 contender to the World title. He then congratulates Bryan on becoming champion. Henry leaves the ring, and Show takes a moment to shake Daniel Bryan’s hand. He leaves the ring and offers to shake Henry’s hand. Henry goes for it, but Bryan pulls his hand back and keeps walking.
Up next, it’s champion vs. champion as WWE United States Champion Zack Ryder (Woo woo woo! Sorry, I had to do it.) takes on Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes.
Did You Know? Vatican City is the smallest country in the world.
MATCH 1: Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes vs. WWE United States Champion Zack Ryder (non-title)
This should be a good match. As much as I hate to admit it, Rhodes has been looking good lately. I still don’t like him, but he’s been having some excellent matches over the last few weeks. Tie-up to start. Ryder goes into a side headlock and knocks Rhodes down off the ropes with a shoulder. Rhodes trips him up and goes into an arm bar. Ryder elbows out of a corner charge and snaps off a pair of arm drags before locking in an armbar of his own. Rhodes backs Ryder into a corner and breaks the hold. Ryder leapfrogs out of another corner charge, hits another arm drag and goes into another arm bar. Rhodes hits the Goldust uppercut off the ropes then throws Ryder to the floor. Ryder immediately gets back in the ring, but Rhodes clotheslines him over the top rope. Ryder lands on his feet on the apron, but Rhodes knocks him to the floor into the steps. Rhodes charges, but Ryder gets the boot up. Rhodes throws Ryder into Booker T before throwing Ryder back in the ring as we go to commercial.
Back from the break, Rhodes whips Ryder into the ropes, but Ryder elbows off the charge once again. Ryder runs at Rhodes, possibly looking for the Rough Ryder, but Rhodes catches him with the Alabama Slam for 2. Rhodes locks in a hammerlock/rear chinlock combination, but Ryder fights out. Rhodes misses a couple clotheslines, but ducks as Ryder goes for a cross body, sending Ryder into the ropes. Rhodes gets a pair of nearfalls before going back to the submission hold. Rhodes throws Ryder into the corner, but Ryder puts on the breaks. He turns around and they simultaneously headbutt each other. Ryder comes back with a forearm and a facebuster. He hits a running forearm in the corner before nailing the Broski Boot for 2. Ryder goes to the middle rope and goes for a dropkick, but Rhodes swats him down and begins laying in some punches. All of a sudden, Booker T grabs a microphone and sings a version of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer to Rhodes using Rhodes’ name. It distracts Rhodes long enough for Ryder to hit the Rough Ryder and get the 3.
WINNER: Zack Ryder. After the match, Booker T continues to sing to Rhodes.
Backstage, we see Teddy Long watching the show on a monitor. Santino Marella comes in and surprises Long with his Cobra sleeve. Marella says that, since Ryder is now US Champion, he isn’t going to have time to be Long’s assistant. Marella offers to be the new assistant. Aksana’s dumb ass walks in. She knows many positions, and if he needs a hand, he can ask her about doing the job any time. Get it? It’s a reference to masturbation. Ha. Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero walk in. Ziggler complains about Daniel Bryan being champion. He says Bryan is a good wrestler wanting to be great, so let a great wrestler (Ziggler) show a good wrestler how it’s done. Long thinks it’s a great idea and orders the match for later tonight.
If you didn’t already see my review, the new Steve Austin DVD is fantastic, and one of the best biographical DVDs WWE has released in a long time.
MATCH 2-Winner becomes the new #1 contender for the World Championship: The Big Show vs. Mark Henry
Before the match starts, David Otunga’s music hits. He makes his way out, complete with stupid bowtie and a stupid coffee cup. He continues to destroy the coolness of the argyle sweater. He says he’s the legal counsel for John Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis is responsible for the well-being for all superstars, and although Henry is strong as a bear and has the heart of a lion, he is not medically cleared to compete. He has ankle damage, concussions and a a groin pull, so therefore, this match isn’t happening tonight. After he finishes wishing everyone Happy Holidays, Show hits him with a nasty WMD. Show seriously nailed him on that shot, and it was a thing of beauty. They show a slow motion replay of the shot, and it looks even worse.
WINNER: No contest.
Michael Cole hypes the Bryan/Ziggler match for later tonight, saying “real athletes beat real nerds”. Maybe, except when the real nerd is also a real athlete, like Bryan. In that situation, you’re f*cked.
Backstage, we see Teddy Long in the back, and he’s stopped by Miz. Miz says he was told to be here tonight, but Long knows nothing about it. He says Long is the reason SmackDown is in bad shape. Since Miz won the WWE Championship, no SmackDown! star has been in the main event of a PPV. Miz has been in five. He lists off his accomplishments, then says he’s going to go out to the ring and hold the show up. Miz then tells Long that, if he can find a wrestler worthy of facing the Miz, maybe they’ll have a match.
We then get footage from the Tribute to the Troops show.
After the video (that featured hideously bad music), the Miz makes his way down to the ring. Commercials.
After the break, Miz does his “Really?” schtick before accusing Teddy Long of not being able to find anyone willing to face him. Miz then shows us footage of him taking out both R-Truth and John Morrison in recent weeks. Miz calls the SmackDown! locker room a bunch of cowards who are afraid of the same thing happening to them. Miz says SmackDown! has no face, no major star who can be a crossover star like he is. Apparently, Sheamus has had enough of this, as his music hits and he makes his way out. Looks like we have a match.
MATCH 3: The Miz vs. Sheamus
They lock up, and Sheamus immediately backs Miz into the corner. Miz fights off with punches, but Sheamus takes him down with one punch. A bodyslam gets 2. Miz hot shots Sheamus’ arm off the top and bottom ropes after a game of cat-and-mouse on the outside. Miz gets a 2-count before going into an armbar. Sheamus whips Miz into the corner, but misses a shoulder block. Miz hits the hanging corner clothesline and a pair of running boots to the head before dropping Sheamus with a snap DDT for 2. Sheamus crawls to the corner, and Miz chokes him with his foot. He’s looking for the hanging clothesline again, but Sheamus sees him and hits him with an Irish Hammer, followed by the Irish Curse. Sheamus looks for the Celtic Cross, but Miz slides out and hits a boot to Sheamus’ chest. Miz looks for the Skull-Crushing Finale, but Sheamus fights him off. Miz runs at him but eats a Brogue Kick to the face. Sheamus gets the 3.
WINNER: Sheamus. I’m so glad to see Sheamus finally being booked as a pissed-off badass, like he should have been months and months ago.
Did You Know? The role of the Riddler in Batman Forever was originally set to go to Robin Williams.
Wade Barrett comes out and says the Barrett Barrage has been on a great role as of late. He’s been in Randy Orton’s head like no one else. Now, we’re going to look at the Titan Tron and see how Barrett went about skinning “The Viper”. We see footage from last month when Barrett initially beat Orton. This leads to a clip from Survivor Series. We see one more clip, this time from this past Monday when Orton took the Wasteland through a table. Barrett calls the last clip his personal favorite. He calls Orton one of the greatest until he encountered Wade Barrett. He thinks that entitles him to a World title match against Daniel Bryan. Barrett begins heading up the ramp, but Orton’s music hits. He runs down and they slug it out at ringside. Orton slams Barrett into the apron then throws him in the ring. He looks for the RKO, but Barrett sees it coming and leaves the ring. Orton chases after him into the back. Barrett sees him, and they trade some blows. Barrett hits a nasty mule kick to temporarily put Orton down. Orton gets back up and they continue brawling. Orton slams Barrett into a fence a few times, then sprays him with a hose for some reason. He sends Barrett over a table, then dumps a trashcan on him. Orton throws Barrett on the hood of a car, climbs up on the roof and slams Barrett’s head into it. Barrett gets back to his feet and takes an RKO on the roof. Well, so much for Orton willing to put over younger guys, huh? The few shots Barrett did get in here were completely no-sold by Orton.
We see the latest 1/2/12 video, which ends with “Prophetless.”
MATCH 4: Primo(w/Epico and Rosa Mendes) vs. WWE Tag Team Co-Champion Kofi Kingston (w/Evan Bourne)
Primo starts the match off with a kick and some punches. He stomps Kingston down and hits more punches. Primo gets in a rear chinlock, which he turns into a side-Russian legsweep. Primo holds on and turns the move into a submission hold, but lets go. Back to a vertical base, Primo hits some more kicks, a leg sweep, a legdrop and an elbow drop for 2. Kingston moves out of the way of a corner charge, hits some chops and a dropkick. Primo catches the jumping clothesline, but Kingston turns the reversal into a top rope twisting cross body for 2. Kingston hits the pendulum kick and goes up top, but gets distracted by Epico. Primo manages to hit a top rope armdrag for 2. Primo goes for a clothesline, but Kingston quickly hits Trouble in Paradise for 3.
WINNER: Kofi Kingston. Short match, but good. Lots of reversals and counter-moves.
We get a video package for CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Zack Ryder. I don’t like the music, but the video’s badass.
MATCH 5: World Champion Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero) (non-title)
The last time these guys wrestled for the US title, it was awesome. I’m expecting no less here tonight. Lock-up turns into a waistlock by Bryan. Ziggler reverses. So does Bryan. A couple more leads to a dropkick by Bryan. Test of strength time, and Bryan rolls through into a side headlock. Ziggler goes for a leap frog off the ropes, but Bryan catches his leg and locks him in a surfboard. Bryan lets go of the move after a few second, then tries to turn it into another move. Ziggler makes it to the ropes, breaking the hold. Bryan goes for a dropkick, but Ziggler holds onto the ropes. Ziggler then stomps Bryan a bunch before doing some sit-ups. Bryan quickly tries to lock in the LeBell Lock from this point, but Ziggler makes it to the ropes. Bryan lays in some European uppercuts, but Ziggler drop toe holds him into the middle turnbuckle before hitting an inverted powerslam for 2. Commercials.
Back from the break, Ziggler hits a beautiful dropkick before locking in a side headlock. I “love” how Michael Cole is trashing Daniel Bryan for being small, but could never stop verbally fellating Rey Mysterio during his title reigns, despite the fact that Mysterio is even smaller. Bryan ducks a clothesline off the ropes, and they crash mid-air when they both attempt cross body blocks. Jack Swagger makes his way down to the ring now. Both men are up and they trade some punches. Ziggler with a kick to the gut, but Bryan back drops him to the floor Bryan hits the suicide dive to the floor before throwing Ziggler back in the ring. Behind the ref’s back, Swagger shoulder blocks Bryan to the floor. The Big Show makes his way down to the ring now. Ziggler goes for the sleeper hold, but Bryan throws him off and gets a roll-up for 2 before turning it into a German suplex for another 2. Beautiful sequence there. Bryan kicks Ziggler in the shoulder twice, but misses the third one. Ziggler quickly tries for the Zig Zag, but Bryan blocks it and lands a vicious kick to the head for 2. Bryan kicks Ziggler again, then puts him on the top rope. Bryan snaps off a hurricanrana off the top, but Ziggler rolls through for 2. Ziggler follows up with a rocker dropper for another 2. Ziggler backs Bryan into the corner and props him on the top for some mounted punches. Ziggler goes to the top now, but Bryan slides underneath and crotches Ziggler on the top. Bryan climbs up and hits a perfect back superplex for another 2 as Ziggler gets his foot on the bottom rope. Swagger tries to club Big Show from behind, but to no effect. Show chases Swagger into the ring and prepares for the chokeslam, but Long puts a stop to it and makes the match into a tag team match. That match will happen after the commercials. Damn. I understand the point of all of this, but the fact is Ziggler and Bryan were having an awesome match by themselves. Show and Swagger are not needed here.
WINNER: No contest.
MATCH 6: The Big Show and World Champion Daniel Bryan vs. Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler
Back from the break, Show reverses a waistlock on Swagger and takes him down with a belly-to-back. Show follows up with a hip throw into a side headlock, which he turns into a pin attempt for 2. Show backs Swagger into the corner and lands an open-hand chop to the chest. Ziggler tags in. Show backs him into the corner and hits some gut shots before landing a big open-hand chop to the chest. Show throws Ziggler into a corner for another chop, then bodyslams Ziggler before finally tagging in Daniel Bryan. Bryan comes in with a European uppercut and a series of vicious kicks in the corner. Bryan corner whips Ziggler, but Ziggler moves as Bryan tries for the corner dropkick. Swagger tags in and hits the Swagger Bomb for 2. Swagger locks in a double chicken wing. Bryan stomps on Swagger’s feet to break the hold, but Swagger still manages to throw Bryan into his corner. Bryan fights out and goes for a body scissors on Swagger, but Swagger holds on and crotches Bryan on the top rope before Bryan falls into the tree of woe. Swagger stomps him a few times before locking in a leg grapevine. Bryan tries to kick him off, but Swagger stomps him and tags in Ziggler. Ziggler locks Bryan in a half-Boston crab. Bryan crawls for the tag, so Ziggler breaks the hold and hits a jumping elbow drop. Ziggler goes for the sleeper, but Bryan sends Ziggler shoulder-first into the corner post in a really good-looking spot. Ziggler tags Swagger in as Bryan tags in Show. Show knocks Swagger down with some clotheslines and a Pounce. Ziggler comes in and eats a big boot. Show looks for the chokeslam, but Swagger slides out and chopblocks Show. Bryan tags in and comes off the top with a dropkick, but Swagger catches him and turns it into an ankle lock. Bryan rolls through and locks in the LeBell Lock, forcing Swagger to tap out.
WINNERS: The Big Show and Daniel Bryan. After the match, Big Show walks up the ramp and looks on with an angry look on his face. Awesome sequence at the end by all four guys.
End of show.
Good episode tonight. In all honesty, not a bad match on the show.
Independent pro wrestling fans are rejoicing in the streets this morning as two of their biggest heroes are sharing WWE gold…at least for today. Daniel Bryan joined CM Punk in the WWE champions club after cashing in his Money in the Bank at WWE TLC 2011.
Bryan is the big story coming out of last night’s pay per view. Bryan cashed in his Money in the Bank to the surprise and delight of the Baltimore crowd and defeated The Big Show to win his first WWE world heavyweight championship just a few weeks after snapping a lengthy losing streak.
Bryan was not the first man to win the WWE world heavyweight title at TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. The Big Show knocked out Mark Henry with a punch to win the gold in their Chairs Match. Henry brutalized Show with chair shots following their match, including a DDT on the chair. One Daniel Bryan chant later, and the American Dragon arrived to cash in!
Bryan came into the match and immediately went for a cover. Bryan got the 1-2-3 and became the new champion. Bryan got in Michael Cole’s face following the match and thanked the fans for supporting him. SmackDown has a new champion!
I am all for Bryan getting the title but the booking for Bryan will make it extremely difficult for him to be a successful champion. For one thing, the man had been recently booked on a lengthy losing streak. I couldn’t ever imagine 30, 20, even 5 years ago a guy being booked on a losing streak a month or two before winning the world championship. As exciting as this is for Bryan die-hards, the average WWE fan wearing a John Cena t-shirt will have a tough time seeing Bryan as anything but lucky.
Speaking of fans, if he is being booked to turn heel this is great, but it appears that he will remain a babyface after watching him thank the fans. Here is a guy that not only capitalized on an injured babyface, but also broke his promise to cash in Money in the Bank at WrestleMania 28. If he is going heel this is great, if not than the WWE is going to have a tough haul in getting him over as a heroic champion. I am sure the Camel Clutch Blog will have more on this over the next couple of weeks.
WWE posted a “fan cam” version of the win on their You Tube channel. Check out the embedded video below of Bryan celebrating his victory at Tables, Ladders, & Chairs 2011.
In the headliner, CM Punk retained the WWE championship defeating former champions Alberto Del Rio and The Miz in a Triple Threat Ladder Match. Punk climbed the ladder to retrieve the title in a fun main-event. This wasn’t the open-ended loss here I expected that would result in an upcoming feud between The Miz vs. Punk. I think it was decisive and strong for the WWE champion.
In the “special attraction” match of the night, Triple H defeated Kevin Nash in a Ladder Match with a sledgehammer up for grabs. Unfortunately a decent match will likely be remembered for the botched Pedigree at the end of the match thanks to Big Lazy. The match was a bit long for my taste but in the end it was a lot better than I ever expected it to be.
Full WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs 2011 results & winners…
Daniel Bryan defeated The Big Show to win the WWE world heavyweight championship
Big Show defeated Mark Henry in a Chairs match to win the World Heavyweight Championship
CM Punk defeated The Miz vs. Alberto Del Rio in a Triple Threat Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match to retain the WWE Championship
Triple H defeated Kevin Nash in a Ladder match
Zack Ryder defeated Dolph Ziggler to win the U.S. Title
Randy Orton defeated Wade Barrett in a Tables match
Cody Rhodes defeated Booker T to retain the WWE IC title
Beth Phoenix pinned Kelly Kelly for the WWE Diva Championship
Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston defeated Primo and Epico to retain the WWE Tag Titles
Sheamus defeated Jack Swagger
-With Smackdown being live tomorrow night, I am on standby in case Dustin Nichols forgets, and commits to his usual Tuesday routine of flexing in front of the mirror naked while muttering “Dustin’s the greatest” on loop. Have no fear, CCB world: unlike Triple H, I DO work Tuesdays*
* For my standard fee….
-Quick personal plug: wrote quite the essay on Vince McMahon’s downward spiral into self-parody, which you can find here (http://bit.ly/sxBaTz) and feedback is always welcome. Especially from Vince. He’ll read it if enough people tell him that I’m trending.
-Live from Columbia, SC
Opening Segment: John Cena in Piper’s Pit
Gotta say, Piper looks pretty good tonight, in comparison to some rough outings he’s had in recent years. Piper asks how a man that has never been a World champion, nor was the biggest, strongest man there was, become a WWE icon. The answer is simple: energy. Whether the crowd cheered or booed Piper, he fed off of that energy and made a hell of a career out of it. And with that, he calls out a Cena, a man who is fed plenty of energy, positive and negative. See, writing staff, THAT’S how you use metaphors. I learned that in seventh grade English. Cena isn’t sure where Piper’s going with this, and it turns into a game of “Cheer Association”. Piper says the names Stone Cold, Bret Hart, and The Rock to mostly favorable reaction, and then says Cena’s name, to a huge chorus of boos. Cena downplays those boos, saying he respects those who boo him. Piper declares Cena the face of WWE, and says that the boos are getting louder, and Cena is ‘losing it’. Piper tells Cena that if he doesn’t start speaking his mind, he’s going to be the biggest loser in WrestleMania history. Cena brings up past instances where he was booed out of the building, and Piper is getting frustrated. Cena hands a note to Piper that expresses the apparent reason as to why he will never let the boos bother him. Piper then goes on about how Cena did run with the ball when it was given to him, but Piper continues to prod Cena to speak his mind. Cena tries to decline, but Piper smacks him. “FEEL THE ENERGY! DO YOU FEEL THE ENERGY!” bellows Piper. Cena, instead of fighting back, merely shakes Piper’s hands and leaves, albeit flustered. SEGMENT RATING: 8/10. Better than the usual opening segments, as Piper adds a shade of something different. Cena’s heel turn looming? We shall see.
Match 1: John Morrison vs. The Miz (Falls Count Anywhere)
Miz attacks Morrison out of the entrance way by bashing his knee with a pipe. We just heard the last eight seconds we’ll ever hear of “Ain’t No Make Believe”. Miz goes to the ring with an uncaring glare, and Morrison, despite the referees trying to keep him back, hobbles to the ring. Bell sounds and Morrison manages to get some shots in before Miz strikes the leg. Morrison gets posted, and Miz grabs a Singapore cane. Knee, meet cane, cane, knee. Morrison tries to fight back, getting some cane shots himself in a surprisingly even match. Did Morrison re-sign? Miz crawls away and Morrison uses the cane as a cane to give chase up the ramp. Morrison goes headfirst into the WWE logo set piece (Miz’s designated weapon). Skull Crushing Finale on the stage, and Miz pauses and draws out the pin attempt. The referee simply stops the match without allowing Miz the pin, which is weird, because Miz was going for the pin anyway. As they get the stretcher for Morrison, Miz takes the mic and returns to the ring. In a nice touch, Johnny Ace comes out, looks at the body, and leaves. Miz said last week was R-Truth, this week Morrison, and next week…..we’ll see. Miz opines in a monotone his awesomeness. WINNER: The Miz via Skull Crushing Finale (stoppage) RATING: 7/10. Effective use of TV. Cole referring to Morrison as “dead weight” is a veiled insult that isn’t so veiled. See you in TNA, Johnny. As far as Miz’s psycho gimmick, betcha he’s back to being an obnoxious social climber in four weeks when Vince and the writers forget.
Match 2: Kelly Kelly/Alicia Fox vs. The Bella Twins
No entrances for anyone. For some reason, Beth and Natalya run out to do a jog around ringside. If Candice Michelle tried that, she’d tear both shoulders and both knees. Anyway, Alicia pins one of the Bellas with a flip legdrop. WINNERS: The Fox and The Hound via flipping legdrop RATING: 1/10. Yeah.
Match 3: Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler (Non Title Match)
Well, so much for Ryder’s title shot. Ryder gets depushed for a haircut, and Orton gets pushed when he gets a million hideous tattoos. I’m at a loss. Anywho, Wade Barrett is here for commentary, so the screwjob ending is a given. Gotta admit, the hooker boots and big ass on Vickie are sizzling. Quick sequence of counters to open, so there’s hope we can get fifteen minutes out of this. Orton plants Ziggler with a devastating clothesline. Ziggler needs to be careful that his good bumping doesn’t turn him into Curt Hennig Part 2.0, in terms of his spine. Orton goes into the Garvin Stomp, and follows up with a knee drop, and then a VERY nice vertical suplex. I like when wrestlers make the basics look good. Orton takes a moment to jaw at Barrett, and Ziggler takes control. Ziggler gets 2 off of a roll-up, and then Dolph dropkicks Orton off the apron in a nice spot. Barrett eyes Orton sinisterly as Ziggler continues the onslaught outside and controls for a spell, but Orton manages to eventually crotch Dolph up top. Superplex, Cowboy Bob style, follows, but it only gets 2 as we head to commercial. Back from break, and Orton gets the snap powerslam, followed by the the contorted grin. Rope-assist DDT follows, and Orton gets into Predator position, but Dolph rolls to the floor. Ziggler swears off the match, and Barrett takes to the apron. Orton dropkicks him off, but Ziggler runs back and gets the Zig Zag for the semi-clean win. Vickie makes the irritating announcement. WINNER: Dolph Ziggler via Zig Zag RATING: 8/10. Not as good as Punk/Ziggler last week, but a very enjoyable TV match. If Punk-Dolph was ****1/4 last week, call this ***1/4-***1/2. Dolph and Orton have tremendous chemistry.
In-Ring Segment: Michael Cole Interviews Daniel Bryan
Cole starts by calling Bryan a hypocrite. Mean Gene would never do that, would he? Bryan plays to the crowd by declaring Cole the worst announcer in the history of WWE, and then says he thinks Cole should respect him. Cole calls Henry a defenseless man, and asks what happened to Bryan’s vow to cash in at WrestleMania XXVIII. Cole replays the footage of Bryan winning the belt, and then being forced to abdicate it. Cole laughs up Bryan having his moment ruined, and says if he was Teddy Long, he’d have suspended Bryan for his actions. Cole then admits he’s pulling for Mark Henry tomorrow night. Bryan says he changed his plans when Mark Henry tried to induct him into the Hall of Pain, and says that nothing is guaranteed, so he tried to make the most of an opportunity. Bryan says the title is more important than WrestleMania, and Mark Henry makes his way out. He says he’s somewhat defenseless, but that’s okay, because he’s going to beat Bryan anyway in the steel cage. Bryan makes his way up the ramp for a confrontation, and simply strikes Henry’s bad leg, before leaving Henry hobbling by his lonesome. RATING: 7/10. It served a purpose of hyping tomorrow night’s Smackdown, and it gave Bryan and Henry some important talk time. I understand having Cole be the antagonist to allow Bryan someone to bounce off of, and believe Cole would really be better served as the new Bobby Heenan or Jimmy Hart.
Match 4: Zack Ryder vs. Jack Swagger
I hope they pull the trigger on Ryder and the US Title soon, just to see how long the ‘net stops the perpetual whining. Besides, Zack deserves it for all of his dedication. Swagger dominates in the early going, getting a Sid Vicious-style leg drop for 2. Crowd rallies behind Ryder as he’s trapped in a submission hold, but Ryder works his way into control, getting a neckbreaker for 2. Ryder escapes the Swagger Bomb, but Jack catches the cross body with a front backbreaker. Swagger muffs the running Swagger Bomb, and a second attempt lands on feet. Ruff Ryder finishes. WINNER: Zack Ryder via Ruff Ryder RATING: 5/10. Short and effective, blown spot aside. There does seem to be a committal toward making the most of Ryder’s popularity.
Talk Segment: Mick Foley
Foley, bedecked as Santa, provides a hard sell for tomorrow’s live holiday Smackdown, and hits the cheap pop while insulting Michael Cole. Alrighty then. SEGMENT RATING: 5/10. Meh, it was all in good fun. Gotta have some holiday spirit, right?
Main Event: CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio (WWE Championship)
At least fifteen minutes, please. I love how Alberto Del Rio steps on the driver’s side door of a $140,000 car with his dirty boots, instead of opening the door. Both men work the other’s arm early, in tune with both the Survivor Series psychology, and their respective submission finishers. Punk clotheslines Del Rio out and follows up with a suicide dive as we hit the final commercial. Back live to Del Rio in control, working the arm some more. During the break, ADR gained control by crotching Punk up top, and kicking the arm. Del Rio, however, despite all the arm-related offense, can’t put Punk away. Punk misses a cross body and lands on the arm, allowing ADR to take over with his MMA style offense. Punk tries to mount a comeback, but falls into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for 2. Match is a bit slow, so the fans chant for ice cream. Just when Punk takes over with an arm drag, Del Rio fires back with a Yakuza kick for 2. Punk catches Del Rio off the top with a high kick for 2 as the momentum starts to shift. Punk goes into comeback mode with a flurry of clotheslines and strikes, including the corner knee, but Del Rio counters the bulldog with a double knee armbreaker for 2. Del Rio gets a German suplex for 2 after an ensuing exchange. Dual finisher counters leads to a DDT by Del Rio for 2. Ricardo slides Alberto a chair, who throws it to Punk, who throws it back and feigns an attack by Del Rio. Charles Robinson considers DQing ADR, but Punk rolls Del Rio up for 2. ADR follows with a backcracker for 2. Punk manages a GTS onto a turnbuckle that Alberto exposed for the win. Will there be controversy? Ricardo claims that Punk cheated, so Punk GTS’s him as well. Looks like if there’s controversy, it’ll have to wait a week. Or maybe tomorrow. WINNER: CM Punk via Go To Sleep (Still WWE Champion) RATING: 9/10. A notch below Punk/Dolph from last week (say ***3/4), but still a great main event. There were several spots where it appeared Punk might get screwed over, thus making it dramatic, and the crowd pleasing ending made the drama worth it.
OVERALL: Two great matches in Punk-Alberto and Dolph-Orton, meaningful wins for Miz and Ryder, a good hard sell for Bryan/Henry, and an important “turning point” segment for Cena. If you didn’t like tonight’s show, then I have no idea what to tell you.