This Saturday marks a milestone for AJ Lee and her being the Divas Champion and that is her tying Maryse for the longest reign as Divas Champion with Sunday being the day she become the all time longest reigning Divas Champion to hold that title.
Sure records may become broken at some points in sports, but this one, I’m not really feeling at all here because during AJ’s title run, nothing really memorable has happened besides the epic promo she cut on the total divas back in the Summer of last year and also, there is a debate on twitter on who had the better run of Maryse and AJ Lee. While looking at this and looking at what fans of Maryse have been saying and fans of AJ Lee have been saying, I have come to the conclusion about both of those reigns.
My verdict: Neither of them had the better reign over each other.
Reason being of that is, I found both of those title runs to be unmemorable regarding the Divas Championship. Maryse won the title back in 2008 on a episode of SmackDown where she defeated Michelle McCool for it. She was improving in the ring, but I felt like it was not the right time to put the title on Maryse. I predicted that she was going to win the title in January of the new year, but it seemed like the focus on the Royal Rumble Pay Per View with Melina going after Beth Phoenix for the Women’s Championship. Maryse would go on to win the title, but only to become injured at a house show. It was a disappointing start to her title run as she was slidelined for a bit only until returning back in the ring. Her challengers along the way were Michelle McCool and Gail Kim before being drafted to Raw that year and defending the title against Kelly Kelly before finally dropping it to Mickie James. To me, her run is not really that memorable. The only good matches that I can recall was her against Michelle McCool for the title before Gail Kim would come in and attack both and against Gail Kim on her last match for SmackDown.
Now for AJ’s reason, it was all about having the title on their over diva back last year. We all know that AJ Lee was Diva of the year in 2012, turning heel to align with Dolph Ziggler and at the side of him when he won the World Heavyweight Championship. She would then move on to win a number one contenders battle royal to get a shot at Kaitlyn’s title. However, during the time, there was no progression with the feud for the title and the go home show before Payback was the final straw with Big E being the secret lover of Kaitlyn before AJ revealed it was a hoax. At Payback, AJ Lee would win the title from her former best friend and tag team partner. While the both of them did feud over the summer with the first ever contract signing with the both of them, their rematch at Money In the Bank and their last match at Summerslam with Kaitlyn and Dolph Ziggler getting the win over AJ and Big E. From there, AJ would have contenders left and right for the title, but her only feud right after was with Brie Bella, in which she would retain the title against her a couple of times, but from there, AJ had people challenging her for the title and not a real feud. While AJ fans are saying that AJ’s run is a good one and that it’s something to remember, to me, I feel like it was nothing, but a bust. The only time I remember when a over diva had the title and a actual feud for the title was Kelly Kelly. Remember Beth Phoenix? That was Kelly’s real feud for the title before Kelly would drop it to Beth Phoenix at Hell in a Cell in 2011. Kelly’s run was memorable in a way, but her feud with Beth Phoenix was one of them.
Unless someone defeats AJ for the title during the SmackDown tapings which will air on Friday, AJ will not reach that record as she will just miss it by four days (In SmackDown terms, 1 day), but unless something happens and they give AJ a decent feud, I don’t see her run as champion as memorable. So I’m going to ask this question for everyone that reads the Camel Clutch Blog, do you honestly think that AJ is having a good run as champion? If she passes Maryse’s record, what would you like to see? If she drops the title, did you see it as a good and memorable run?
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.
OPENING SEGMENT: VINCE MCMAHON IS NOT HAPPY
In a rather short opening segment, McMahon brought out Johnny Laryngitis, and the whole roster was backstage watching, thus giving it a special feel. In short, CM Punk is a turd, John Cena let everyone down, and there’s now a tournament to determine a new champion. Crowd doesn’t like that one. I like the idea, because you could create a new champ, and have Punk return to rub it in that he was never beaten. Of course, the internet crowd is going to view this as a screw-you to Punk, but oh well. I think it leads to Punk’s return as a superhero, in any event. SEGMENT RATING: 6/10. Short and sufficient
ROUND ONE MATCH: THE MIZ VS. ALEX RILEY
Abbreviated from their previous encounters, especially with television time constraints, but still an effective match. Riley’s showing improvement, especially in the “WWE style”, thus making him the most effective NXT rookie outside of Wade Barrett and Daniel Bryan. I do love that Alex Riley worked the leg (that Miz injuried last night), and even showed off a Texas cloverleaf. Ending seemed to come out of nowhere, as awkwardness with the referee led to the Skull Crushing Finale to allow Miz to advance. WINNER: The Miz via Skull Crushing Finale RATING: 6/10. Short and sufficient, much like the opening segment. I can deal with “sufficient” as a recurring theme.
-John Morrison return video hyped. Let’s hope he’s nicer to legendary divas this time around.
ROUND ONE MATCH: R-TRUTH VS. JACK SWAGGER
Kind of an oddball match, as both men are heels. Swagger took control of most of the match, which isn’t exactly conducive to getting an electric reaction from the crowd. Then again, maybe the fans are still mad at Truth for getting Green Bay and Milwaukee confused once. Swagger works some submissions, and the fans couldn’t really be bothered. In the end, Truth counters Swagger’s ankle lock with a front cradle to advance, and that has a better chance of producing. WINNER: R-Truth via front cradle RATING: 4/10. Kind of dull, and I’m getting a bad feeling for the rest of the show, pacing wise.
ROUND ONE MATCH: ALBERTO DEL RIO VS. KOFI KINGSTON
Well, at least Ricardo Rodriguez is alive. The match was spirited, in spite of a dead crowd, and both men seemingly pulled out all the stops to try and wake everyone up. Unfortunately, the fans seem resigned to the fact that there are just 8 guys wrestling tonight, and they know what the matches are pretty much in advance. Del Rio bumped his ass off, including a missed vertical seated senton in the corner. In the end, Kofi reversed a sunset pin into a modified roll-up to advance. I’m gonna bet now that ADR cashes in later, but I’m not going out of my way to wager money. WINNER: Kofi Kingston via modified roll-up RATING: 6/10. Wish it was longer, but, again, sufficient. An 8 man tournament needs more than two hours, though.
Summerslam rewind: British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart, 8/29/92. Maybe the greatest Summerslam match of all time, next to Bret/Owen, Shawn/Razor, and TLC from 2000.
ROUND ONE MATCH: REY MYSTERIO VS. DOLPH ZIGGLER
Finally, the crowd gets into this one, as the kids came alive with “619″ chants. Another short match, but they packed a lot of action into a few minutes, as Dolph and Rey have crazy chemistry (as seen 2 years ago at Summerslam). Ziggler busted out a nice alley oop powerbomb, as well as a reverse powerslam, demonstrating a crisp, in flux move set. In the end, the 619 and top rope dive finished, but it definitely woke the crowd up. Rey/Truth and Kofi/Miz both hold promise, so the show’s picking up steam at least. WINNER: Rey Mysterio via 619/top rope dive RATING: 7/10. Just because it was frenzied and creative, and woke the fans up.
DIVA SEVENS: KELLY KELLY/AJ/GAIL KIM/BETH PHOENIX/KAITLYN/EVE/NATALYA VS. BELLA TWINS/MELINA/MARYSE/ROSA MENDES/TAMINA/ALICIA FOX
It’s like George Carlin’s “Take Your Son to the Cathouse” Night. Beth pins Rosa with the Glam Slam in about 2 min, so we can hear Beth’s awesome Double Dragon/I’m Your Venus hybrid song. WINNERS: The faces via Glam Slam RATING: 2/10. Maryse, Bellas, Kaitlyn, and AJ make me happy
SEMI FINAL: KOFI KINGSTON VS. THE MIZ
Even Cole and Lawler’s energy seems off, and the crowd’s deflated from Rey and Ziggler’s herculean effort. Sure as I type that, Miz and Kofi rattle off some close nearfalls, and Kofi works Miz’s leg (from the ladder fall last night). After some more nearfalls, Kofi managed to avoid one Skull Crushing Finale, but ate a second one to give Miz the win. Those that say Miz doesn’t know how to work, watch him sell a leg injury far better than most of the indy rats you admire. WINNER: The Miz via Skull Crushing Finale RATING: 6/10. At least it was energetic. Feeling up on this show.
SEMI FINAL: R-TRUTH VS. REY MYSTERIO
Excellent match that really upped the tempo of the show. Started out formulaic, with Truth as the overpowering heel, but Rey did what he did best, and sprinkled in moments of hope with counters, reversals, and dazzling quickness. Truth is great in this role as the slick bad ass, and he and Rey proved to be great foils. Mysterio won in the end with the 619 and top rope dive, but kudos to Truth for making up for his lackluster performance at Capitol Punishment. In the right setting, where he can be athletic, the man can work. WINNER: Rey Mysterio via 619/top rope dive RATING: 8/10. Match of the night so far, undoubtedly.
FINAL: REY MYSTERIO VS. THE MIZ
But WAIT: Vince McMahon postpones the final match until next week (groan) and says “WWF Championship” in a senior moment. Cena comes up to plead his case, threatening to even go to TNA (yes, really), before HHH interrupts, complete with suit. Long story short, there a board meeting and Vince has been ousted for questionable decisions. Cena is not fired, HHH is now in charge, and Hunter tearfully dismisses his father-in-law from his duties. Hunter leaves in tears, and Vince gets a loud ovation as he fight backs tears as the show ends.
SEGMENT RATING: 10/10. Raw’s figured it out: end the show with hot angle continuation, and next week’s show is set up for you!
OVERALL: Like I said in the previous stanza, end the show with a hot angle, or a thread to an angle, and it will build next week’s show. I’m intrigued by Miz/Rey, as well as Hunter being in charge, and seeing where Punk fits in. Add to that Mysterio’s two good matches, and Raw’s an easy thumbs up this week.
Full WWE RAW July 18 results…
WWE Championship Tournament
Rey Mysterio defeated R-Truth
The Miz defeated Kofi Kingston
Rey Mysterio defeated Dolph Zigger
Kofi Kingston defeated Alberto Del Rio
R-Truth defeated Jack Swagger
The Miz defeated Alex Riley
Kelly Kelly, Eve, Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Gail Kim, Kaitlyn & AJ defeated against The Bella Twins, Melina, Rosa Mendes, Alicia Fox, Maryse & Tamina (non-tourny)
It’s been almost two months since Michelle McCool lost her Loser Leaves Town match against former best friend Layla at Extreme Rules, and frankly, the industry took a head shot when it lost the blonde bombshell who had finally reached the pinnacle of her career.
Not only was Michelle a great looking girl with a heartwarming accent (just ask The Undertaker), but any time I tuned into SmackDown I actually bought into her bully persona, a program she worked nicely with a decent arsenal of moves and great chemistry with her partner in crime, Layla.
Living so close to where Michelle McCool used to teach middle school classes, her domination of the WWE Divas division actually had me wondering where all the hot teachers were when I was coming up through that system, but more importantly, had me rooting for the girl. But now, the teacher turned kayfabe pro trainer turned single white Christian female turned mean girl is finished, leaving me wondering just who the most attractive ladies of the squared circle were, and who would supplant Mrs. McCool as the apple of my eye. Of course, these are all a matter of taste, so feel free to blast off on anyone I missed.
10. Rosita (TNA) – Even fair-weather viewers of TNA will recognize her as the girl that doesn’t even come up to the top rope in stature, on account of her billed height of 4’11’’. I’m not sure if she is that diminutive, but the disadvantage practically makes her useless in the ring. That said, I’m buying hard into the Mexican America faction as a legitimate heel front in TNA, which could continue to propel Rosita to the top of the Knockouts division. She’s already one half of the tag team champions, but who knows how much longer her partner Sarita will stick around? It doesn’t really matter, though; as long as they keep trotting Rosita out there in her skimpy two piece, let her throw a couple of girl punches and drop a DDT or two, I’m fine.
9. The Bella Twins (WWE) – What a find in The Bellas, huh? A wrestling set of twins who always outsmart their opponents and look pretty good? I’m pretty new to the sisters, but I’m not new to the long standing alpha male fantasy stereotype of twin magic. As far as their in ring ability, I’m not that impressed, but Nikki and Brie have killer bodies and when they come out on the ramp and do that hip shaking thing, that’s about all I need to see. Come out, knife edge chop, switch out with your sister, and finish up so The Miz can tell us how awesome he is.
8. Kaitlyn (WWE) – I’m using that affiliation with the top dog company very loosely because Kaitlyn is nowhere to be found! The girl can wrestle, has the looks to match Natalya, and even though she was worked as a heel on her season of NXT, I could totally see her reemerge as a contender for the WWE Divas title, or start a feud with Beth Phoenix when Brie Bella eventually drops the belt. I don’t normally dig women that look like they can disarm and disable me in a street fight, but there’s a certain charm about Kaitlyn that makes me wonder why the terrible Alicia Fox still gets work and the “winner” of WWE’s reality show can’t even get a two minute match anymore. By the way, if you’re still watching NXT, props to you for actually believing that the winners won’t soon be back in FCW and working at an IKEA.
7. Christina Von Eerie (Indys) – I discovered this hidden gem earlier this year when she was escorting Jesse Neal into a Fatal 4-Way title match and all I can say is the girl has enough spunk, charisma, and athleticism to make it to the big time. Don’t let the sharply cut hair and punk rock tattoos fool you; up close, Christina is a great looking girl who commanded your live audience attention. If she ever does make it up north, she already has the look of someone who you would believe could be billed as Luna Vachon’s daughter. Someone pay this girl…those tats couldn’t have come cheap.
6. Angelina Love (TNA) – I almost left Angelina off this list but soon remembered how much I loved her as a face, battling the Beautiful People in her alternative rock groupie attire. In my opinion, Angelina Love has one of the most impressive physiques of all the TNA Knockouts and looks to treat her body like a temple. That commitment to yourself on such low pay is admirable, but Angelina’s crisp ring work and dedication to character probably makes TNA not have to think twice about showcasing her every week on Impact. If you haven’t been watching what she’s been doing lately with her subservient, zombie character, tune in because it’s one of the better story lines management has handled this year. Oh, and she’s Canadian, so I could totally imagine her kicking off her boots, grabbing a Labatt Blue and settling in on a hockey game under a Snuggie (fan fiction alert!).
5. Eve Torres (WWE) – Eve is also another Diva that I’m not too familiar with yet, but the more I see her the more I want her to moonsault everyone and everything. As for beauty, she’s probably the second prettiest girl in the company, but more on that later. I read several blogs that like to hate on Eve, but I just don’t see it. Sure, she may not be the greatest technical wrestler, but the WWE is smart. If every women’s wrestler was technically sound but had a busted face, a certain chunk of fans would tune out. Not to be sexist, but like football, I just think that the men put on a better show. So you find a drop dead gorgeous ex-dancer like Eve, teach her some gymnastics type moves, and set her free. Eve still has to co-star in That’s What I Am 2: I’m Still Me.
4. Maryse (WWE) – The Canadian gold digger is the complete package for me: the looks, the killer body, and the personality of the girl who’s going to make fun of you, steal your boyfriend, and then probably beat you up (you don’t stand a chance, Gail Kim). This is all unfortunate because her program with Ted DiBiase has seemingly vanished and it’s really hard to find any trace of Maryse these days. I hear she’s on NXT a lot now, but the day I start watching WWE programming on my computer is the day I reevaluate my love of a business tailored for adolescence. In a nutshell, I’d argue that Maryse is the prettiest girl in the industry today.
3. AJ Lee (FCW) – If one of the coolest guys in the business, Jay Lethal, was getting down with AJ, what else more can I say? When I did record the Divas season of NXT, AJ was my personal favorite. She’s cute as a button, has ridiculously great abs, is a self proclaimed nerd, and hasn’t yet brought herself to make certain augmentations to her overall package. It’s really a shame WWE didn’t choose her as the winner, but with her innocent personality she could make a great valet while in the meantime tune her in ring maneuvers and eventually become a full time Diva. I had to work when FCW came through town a couple of weeks ago, and that really bummed me out. Along with Titus O’Neal, AJ was the other reason I would have paid out to see that show.
2. Kelly Kelly (WWE) – Barbie Blank from Jackonsville, what’s up?! Of all these young ladies, Kelly Kelly is the probably the personification of “hot.” Blonde hair, fake tan, pearly whites, ear to ear grin, and the Vince mandated boob job. I also don’t know what’s funnier…that her real name is actually Barbie or that she really broke into the company as a stripper with Layla and Brooke Adams (TNA’s Miss Tessmacher). I didn’t really follow what Kelly Kelly did for the next three years after the banishment of anything R-rated, but you can tell the company is still hot for her, putting her in main events with Edge and the recent angle with Kharma. One part of Kelly Kelly’s signature moves that I always enjoy is her turnbuckle pose before her matches. She looks like she’s genuinely happy to be out there and entertaining the masses. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also a sucker for light blue eyes.
1. Madison Rayne (TNA) – Right now, Madison is the most powerful heel in her company and her queen bee persona works on so many levels. She’s young, pushes older talent around, and has the build of a healthy, yet still beautiful in ring performer. Even though I only know her as a heel, it’s surprising to see that in only about six years she’s transformed herself from this to this. While I prefer the blonde skunk hair, I truly believe Rayne hits on all cylinders for me as a wrestling fan: pretty, great body, creative in ring arsenal, and the personality to get over on fans and keep us coming back for more. I’m not sure if it will ever happen, but I’m really rooting for Madison Rayne to parlay all her hard work into an eventual WWE contract. Doll her up in green and black and call her Acid Rain; she could totally be the next Kharma.
-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.
Can someone please send pro wrestling writers and management a memo that reads, “Wrestling fans hate Jersey Shore!” If you don’t believe me just take a look at how well TNA Impact has done with Jersey Shore stars. Ratings have been abysmal for TNA Impact whenever Jersey Shore stars are featured, yet the WWE is somehow convinced that they can do better.
Additionally, Pivarnick reportedly told TMZ.com that she had been drinking and popping energy pills before her match. You too can also buy that same kind of publicity and atrocious rating for a mere $7,000.
If that wasn’t bad enough, TNA reportedly paid actual Jersey Shore star J Woww $15,000 to make an appearance earlier in the year. Unlike Angelina, J Woww did not wrestle but appeared in a segment with Jersey Shore inspired TNA characters. Like her ex-roomie, J Woww’s segment was also the lowest rated segment of the TNA Impact show in which she appeared in. The ratings for J Woww dropped from a 1.53 to a 1.37 which while better than Angelina’s rating, was still the lowest rated segment of the show.
Unlike Angelina there were no reports of J Woww boozing and popping pills before her match.
Not to be outdone by TNA Wrestling’s brilliant ideas, TMZ.com reports that Snooki will appear on WWE RAW live Monday March 14. The report does not indicate whether the Snookster will wrestle or just make an appearance. Hey at least the WWE are at least smart enough to book a television star that won’t be competing with her own show.
I just don’t get it. Right now the WWE is red hot with two weeks of monster RAW ratings and a ton of momentum thanks to the returns of The Rock and Steve Austin. The increase in ratings come from a lot of fans who haven’t tuned into to RAW in awhile to check out Stone Cold and The Rock. I can’t imagine how thrilled those fans will be to watch someone from Jersey Snore invade WWE RAW.
Reports also indicate that Snooki will be a part of WrestleMania 27. I just wish one day that these wrestling creative writers and Vince McMahon would stop being marks for Hollywood. The obsession in the WWE and TNA as well with celebrities and TMZ gossip is nothing that appeals to general wrestling fans. Ratings for TNA and the celebrity guest host appearances last year prove this yet the WWE and TNA continue to obsess over getting celebrities involved with their shows.
Snooki will probably be involved with Maryse at WrestleMania 27. Maryse made entertainment blogs back in January when she wrote on her Twitter, “Snooki is a ny time bestseller. Common. She’s a fat midget…”
I get it and I don’t think this kind of a thing is necessarily a bad thing but TNA’s experiences prove pro wrestling fans don’t want to watch Jersey Shore stars and will turn the channel in protest. Additionally, now is not the time to pull something like this. Maybe in the off months like May, June, or July but the WWE is playing with fire here.