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The Curious Booking Of Daniel Bryan

September 07, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

One of the biggest complaints I have with WWE booking is their lack of foresight when it comes to cultivating talent. That is why I was pleasantly surprised when that appeared to change with Daniel Bryan. Unfortunately, old habits die hard in Titan Towers.

Take a look at the last several guys that the WWE has tried to elevate over the last two years and what comes to mind? The Miz, Jack Swagger, Wade Barrett, Sheamus, and even CM Punk were given the ultimate prize in regards to booking, the WWE championship. Four of them failed, two miserably, and the jury is still out on Punk. Are the fans really that fickle or is there something more at play here?

The common denominator is the booking. For decades, pro wrestling promoters followed a simple formula when it came to developing top talent. They identified their money players six months-two years ahead of time, protected them with advantageous booking, and had challengers and champions that the fans could believe in when it became their time to shine. As simple as that process sounds, the chapter appears to have disappeared from the WWE creative team hand book.

That is why I was excited when Daniel Bryan not only won the Money in the Bank briefcase but told the world that he would cash it in at WrestleMania 28. Sure, Bryan had been booked throughout most of his tenure to look like a mid-card geek but this would give them enough time to right the ship. From the looks of things, it appeared that the WWE was ready to right the ship, and make Bryan into a credible headliner over the next nine months. Guess who got fooled again?

The WWE has already blown a month and a half with Bryan. Since winning MITB, Bryan has barely won a match on SmackDown. He hasn’t been booked in anything close to a meaningful feud, lost on the following pay per view to a guy that has been booked worse than he has, and even lost to a WWE champion on television. If the idea was to kill Daniel Bryan on television for the next nine months making sure he doesn’t draw a dime during his chase for the WWE world heavyweight championship, well then mission accomplished.

Trying to make sense out of Daniel Bryan’s booking is like trying to balance Ric Flair’s checkbook. None of it adds up. The WWE has faltering ratings on both of its major television shows and is in desperate need of “fresh meat” as the old promoters would call them on top. Apparently someone must have seen something in Bryan to give him the briefcase and storyline, so what is exactly the problem here? If there is anyone that needs to be reintroduced to fans as a title threat it is him, yet they continue to spin the wheels of insanity.

Am I one of those dreaded “Internet bloggers” who worship Daniel Bryan? No, but I am a fan who knows a great pro wrestling match when he sees it and this kid has certainly delivered plenty of those throughout his career. If this is some big inner office joke to tease Bryan’s loyal following, well then the last laugh will be on them anyway when he doesn’t draw a dime in the top spot. Quite frankly, I have no other explanation for it than that because it just doesn’t make any sense.

Why the same writers would protect Mark Henry at all costs to get him ready for a throwaway title match and not the kid who is supposed to headline WrestleMania is beyond my understanding. Regardless of the rationale, until someone has the guts to pull the trigger on these new pushes and give new stars the vote of confidence they need, the perception will continue to be that these new guys just got lucky and aren’t on the same level as other current and past champions and headliners.

Sadly, Daniel Bryan will be that next “lucky” failed champion unless something changes immediately.

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WWE Money In The Bank 2011 DVD Review

August 24, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE Money in the Bank DVDFor this recap, I will be taking a look at the recent WWE DVD release for this year’s WWE Money In The Bank 2011 PPV. Now, don’t expect a whole lot here, for the simple reason that this event has been covered to death (that, and I already watched it the day it aired), both here on Camel Clutch Blog and elsewhere. This year’s event saw what we thought was the culmination of the hottest feud of the year between CM Punk and John Cena with the WWE Championship at stake. For those of you that didn’t see it, you missed what many consider (including myself) to be the best PPV that the WWE has put on in years. And for those of you that did see it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Honestly, this was probably the best PPV since One Night Stand 2006, and that’s saying something.

From top to bottom, the card was exceptional. While there were two definite “miss break” matches-that being Kelly Kelly/Brie Bella and Big Show/Mark Henry, the rest of the card was top notch, filled with plenty of suspense and drama, as well as at least 2 endings that surprised most fans.

MATCH 1-Money in the Bank ladder match for a shot at the World Championship: Daniel Bryan vs. Sin Cara vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Wade Barrett vs. Heath Slater vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Kane vs. Sheamus
This was definitely the superior of the two MITB matches on the card. Sheamus and Wade Barrett looked especially dominant during the match, including Sheamus powerbombing Sin Cara through a ladder, completely removing him from the match. Sheamus also proceeded to Brogue Kick the hell out of everyone during the match, which actually got a lot of cheers from the Chicago crowd. Honestly, I think this is the match that began planting the seeds for Sheamus’ face turn, as he was definitely over with the crowd here. Anyway, it looked like Wade Barrett was about to win the match with a Wasteland through a propped up ladder, but Daniel Bryan shocked the world when he not only fought out of the move, but managed to snag the briefcase and practically guarantee himself a World Championship.

WINNER: Daniel Bryan. Seeing Bryan win was most definitely a shocker, but a welcome one at that. No one deserved to win this match more than Bryan, and you could see genuine emotion on his face as he held onto the briefcase. That’s something that is such a rarity in wrestling today, and I for one always welcome it. Bryan busted his ass in the match, making everyone look good including himself. Vince McMahon happens to be a big fan of Daniel Bryan’s, so don’t expect him to be the first person to cash in and fail.

MATCH 2-WWE Divas Championship: WWE Divas Champion Kelly Kelly (w/Eve Torres) vs. Brie Bella (w/Nikki Bella)
Total waste of card space. We get a few minutes of a match, and Kelly expectantly wins the match with the K2.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Kelly Kelly. Waste of time and energy. Kelly Kelly is only slightly less worthless than Brie Bella, but only very slightly. Eve and Nikki added absolutely nothing to the match, either.

MATCH 3: The Big Show vs. Mark Henry
The other piss break match of the show. Basic big man stuff throughout. The only good thing about this match is the fact that Henry actually completely dominated Show throughout the match and got a clean pin after after 2 World’s Strongest Slams and 2 running splashes.

WINNER: Mark Henry. After the match, Henry Pillmanized Big Show’s leg, putting him on the shelf. This would be the true beginning of Henry as a monster, as he would do the same thing to numerous opponents after this PPV and continue his annual pseudo-push. While I have no hopes for him winning the World title from Randy Orton, this is actually probably the best he’s ever been pushed in his entire 15-year career.

MATCH 4-Money in the Bank ladder match for a shot at the WWE Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Alex Riley vs. Evan Bourne vs. The Miz vs. Jack Swagger vs. R-Truth
While this one was not as good as its RAW brethren, it was still a pretty damn good match. Miz was taken out early after a fall to the floor that led to him selling to a knee injury. In all honesty, I’m surprised he wasn’t actually hurt off the fall, as his knee looked really bad. It could have just been due to some great camera work, though. He eventually returned to the match (albeit limping) and it looked as though he was going to win MITB for the second year in a row. However, this was Del Rio’s night. After pulling off Mysterio’s mask while they fought atop a ladder, causing him to focus on hiding his face, ADR knocked Mysterio to the mat, climbed back up the ladder and grabbed the case.

WINNER: Alberto Del Rio. This match was a little predictable, as I didn’t see anyone else winning this except ADR, compared to the Smackdown match which was a total surprise. This match could have been better had it not been for the botched spots at the end with Mysterio seemingly falling to the mat from the ladder accidentally, as well as ADR falling from his ladder to do it collapsing as a result of getting beaten up. Aside from that, though, the match was great and truly began ADR’s ascent into being a full-fledged main eventer.

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MATCH 5-World Championship: World Champion Randy Orton vs. Christian
Honestly, Orton needs Christian. As it stands right now, Christian is seemingly the only guy who can continuously make Randy Orton look good. This match had a stipulation that, if Orton got himself DQ’ed, he would lose the title. Christian had this in mind and repeatedly tried to get Orton riled up and get himself in trouble. Eventually, it did work. Christian spat in Orton’s face, which got Orton pissed to the point that he blatantly low-blowed Christian right in front of the referee, leading to the disqualification win.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: Christian. Honestly, I was a little surprised by the end result of this match. I expected Christian to win due to them harping on the DQ rule prior to the match, but considering it was only DQ that was mentioned, I fully expected Christian to get a BS win via count-out. However, Christian did pick up the DQ win and became a 2-time champion. Unfortunately, this also led to him dropping the title right back to Orton the very next month. One funny thing of note: after the match, Orton tried to RKO Christian through the announce table, but the table refused to break after 2 tries. For the next two weeks, Orton proceeded to be defeated by the same table on episodes of Smackdown.

MATCH 6-WWE Championship: WWE Champion John Cena vs. CM Punk
This was THE match of the card, and basically the entire selling point for the PPV. While it’s no secrete (at least, to those who know me), I am no fan of John Cena whatsoever. However, I have to give the devil his due. Every time he and Punk square off, he delivers. Granted, a lot of the credit has to go to Punk who can make damn near anyone look good, but Cena most definitely carried his weight in the match. He and Punk went move for move for nearly an hour, trading counter after counter and reversing each other’s finishers regularly. The fact that this was in Punk’s hometown and the crowd was roughly 98 percent behind him just added to the overall feel and emotion of the match. When you also add in that Punk was expected to leave the WWE immediately after and the drama was amped up to its maximum. For promoters wondering, THIS is an example of perfect main event booking. Anyway, after a very long, well-fought match, it appeared Cena was going to take it as he locked in the STF. John Laurinaitis ran down to the ring in an attempt to recreate Montreal ’97, but was intercepted by Cena. This distraction led to Punk immediately scooping Cena up in the GTS as soon as he got back in the ring and the 3-count.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: CM Punk. Although we didn’t realize it would continue at the time, this match was the culmination of one of the hottest angles done in years, and it ended exactly the way it should have. Although Alberto Del Rio did attempt to cash in his briefcase on orders from Vince McMahon, Punk intercepted ADR with a roundhouse to the head before leaving the arena through the crowd, although not before blowing a kiss at McMahon as he held the belt up triumphantly. There are not enough good things that can be said about this match and how it was done. On top of that, I found it to be a legitimate shocker. Everyone believed that Punk was really leaving WWE, and I don’t know of too many people who would have guessed he’d walk out as champion anyway. This is one of two moments (the other being Bryan winning MITB) during this PPV where I completely marked out and yelled as I jumped off my couch. Moments like that don’t happen very often for me anymore, so when they do, you know they are truly special.

SPECIAL FEATURES
Honestly, there is barely anything here to cover. All that there is is an interview by Matt Striker with Daniel Bryan after winning the MITB match. Bryan talks about how unbelievable winning the case was and how hard he worked to get it.

While this is a pretty bare bones DVD, I can’t recommend it enough. It was just such an overall good show that it’s well worth the money to add it to your collection. Even if you’ve already seen it or read the results the day of the show, I still recommend picking it up. I still got excited reliving parts of this show as I re-watched it for this review. You probably won’t see another wrestling PPV like this for a long time (although I hope I am wrong about that), so do yourself a favor and add it to your collection, or the very least, your wish list.

As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/XDustinEFLX, and follow my personal blog at http://nerdslikeme.blogspot.com, where I have plenty of new stuff up. Oh, and if you like bodybuilding, check out my mom’s official site by clicking the banner below:

Gerri Davis Banner, NPC National Level Heavyweight and Masters Female Bodybuilder

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week.

-Dustin

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10 Not So Bold WWE Predictions For The Remainder Of 2011

July 28, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Daniel Bryan Will Cash In Money in the Bank Before WrestleMania 28Going into 2011, even the boldest prognosticators couldn’t have predicted the last few months of WWE programming. Like it or not, the WWE is at its most unpredictable time in years. That is why I thought it would be fun to take a wild stab at predicting the remainder of the year in the WWE.

I thought I would have a little fun on the first slow pro wrestling news week in awhile and look into the crystal ball of the Camel Clutch Blog and report back at what I see for the next five months in the WWE Universe. So without further adieu, here are 10 Not So Bold WWE Predictions for The Remainder of 2011.

1 – Daniel Bryan will not finish the year with his Money in the Bank contract - Yes, you heard it here first. As much as I would love to be right about Daniel Bryan challenging for the WWE championship at WrestleMania 28, I don’t think it happens this way.

Think about this. If John Cena retains the title going into 2012 and Bryan holds on to his Money in the Bank, the 2012 Royal Rumble is for nothing! I think for business, the WWE needs to enter the Royal Rumble with all Money in the Bank contracts cashed in and open slots for both WWE championships at WrestleMania.

2 – CM Punk will be back to mid card status - Keep in mind that I am not writing this as someone who wishes to see it, I am just basing this prediction on history. Take a look at everybody that the WWE has elevated in the last two years. The Miz, R-Truth, Wade Barrett, and Sheamus come to mind immediately and where are they today? Yep, the same place CM Punk will be heading into the Royal Rumble 2012.

Heck, if WWE executed their original plans for Punk this would have happened by August.

3 – By order of King Triple H, the brand extension will be over - We are already seeing the first steps towards the end of the brand extension. Without giving away SmackDown spoilers, R-Truth and John Morrison both wind up on SmackDown without any real explanation. The brand extension is more an extension of convenience than anything else. It comes and goes but I think that in order to really shake up the landscape and jack up some ratings, the WWE powers that be abolish the brands once and for all.

4 – Ric Flair will be back in the WWE - Once again, this is nothing more than a prediction. From all accounts the relationship between Ric Flair and his current employers at TNA Wrestling is about as thin as thin ice can be. Flair makes a lot of money and from all accounts, the company is looking to make cuts. Why continue to pay for someone who is obviously not a team player? Flair has obviously been itching to get back into the WWE with his Hall of Fame appearance and with Triple H wielding a lot of power behind the scenes these days, and I would imagine that all sins will be forgotten.

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5 – Andy Leavine will not be on the main roster on December 31, 2011 - I loved WWE Tough Enough and I see a lot of old school in Andy Leavine. However, history shows that the WWE rush Tough Enough winners to the main roster and most wind up failing. I like the kid a lot but he just didn’t appear to be built for the road or the WWE locker room. He already has a ton of heat on him for not selling the Stone Cold Stunner long enough. I think the pressure is too much for him, he misses his family, the big boys eat him alive, and the big kid is either sent back down to FCW or cut entirely by the end of the year.

6 – The Miz will be a bigger babyface star than CM Punk by December 31 - I wasn’t a big fan at all of The Miz’s run as WWE champion, and quite frankly I am not a fan of his altogether. However, I do recognize that he has something that say Andy Leavine doesn’t and that is charisma! The kid is a natural babyface star in waiting and could do really big things in 2012 as a top WWE hero. I was hoping they would turn him at WrestleMania 27 but not such luck. The WWE is desperately in need of another top babyface (and top heel for that matter) and I think he is the guy to fill that slot by the end of the year whether it is due to injuries or WWE creative smarts.

7 – Jim Ross will not be announcing in the WWE on December 31 - Say it aint so Joe! Listen, I love Jim Ross. As a pro wrestling announcer myself, I can tell you that I think he is the greatest ever. He is still the best in the business, yet for whatever reason the boss doesn’t like him. Ross continues to be something of a toy to Vince McMahon who likes to dangle him in front of us for a few weeks a year and then pull back just when we think good old J.R. is here to stay. Why should this year be any different?

8 – RAW will average under a 3.0 rating by the end of the year - I don’t like where this is going but it would appear to me that the WWE are shooting their best storylines right now and getting minimal movement in the ratings for it. If the mass WWE audience isn’t interested in CM Punk leaving with the WWE championship and the Vince-Triple H saga, what can you give them in November and December to keep them around? You’ll have Monday Night Football and all of the usual fall television hits back to compete with viewers. There is way more to this current ratings pattern that meets that eyes and I think it is the start of a slow decline into the twos for RAW.

9 – Alberto Del Rio will move back to SmackDown - Yes I know, I said that the brand extensions would be over. However, I didn’t say when that would happen. Before that day comes, the WWE still has the problem of Alberto Del Rio. The man has been promised a WWE championship run on numerous occasions only to have the rug pulled out from under him every time. In order to satisfy their promises and avoid rocking the John Cena boat, Del Rio moves back to SmackDown where he beats Randy Orton for the WWE world heavyweight championship.

10 – The Kings of Wrestling will get a fair shake on the main WWE roster - Here is to hoping if I am right about one thing, it is this one. I am a big fan personally and professionally of Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli. By all indications, it would appear that the former ROH tag team champions are heading to the WWE. Rumors also seem to indicate that the two will bypass the developmental system and head straight to the top. I predict that not only will they be WWE tag team champions at some point this year, but that their unique style will reinvigorate the entire tag team division.

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WWE Friday Night SmackDown Results – Daniel Bryan Is Going To WrestleMania

July 22, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Daniel Bryan Money in the BankHello, everyone. Welcome back for the 7-22-11 edition of the WWE Friday Night SmackDown! recap. Before I get into this, there are a few things I’d like to address. First off, if you missed the Money in the Bank PPV, you missed one hell of a show.

Honestly, I haven’t been so emotionally invested in a show since “ECW One Night Stand 2005″. Aside from a throw-away Divas title match and a meaningless match between The Big Show and Mark Henry, it was an outstanding PPV. Secondly, whether this angle with CM Punk is a work, a shoot, or a work-shoot, it is the best angle I’ve seen since the original nWo, and it has truly turned “Monday Night RAW” into must-see TV. Lastly, I would like to say that there were two moments during “MITB” that I totally marked out, actually screaming as I jumped off my couch. One was the aforementioned CM Punk winning the WWE title. The second was Daniel Bryan winning the “SmackDown!” MITB match.

Now, I don’t personally know Daniel Bryan (although I’d like to), but I feel a certain kinship with the guy because we literally grew up in small towns roughly 20 minutes apart (he in Aberdeen, Washington, I in Centralia, Washington). To see a guy from such a podunk town like Aberdeen making it to the WWE is big enough; to actually see him win a Money in the Bank match (which practically guarantees him a top title run) is astronomical. Not only am I proud of Bryan for winning the Money in the Bank match because he’s a hometown boy, but honestly, I can’t think of a guy who deserves it more. And, on a side note, it was nice to see the win for another reason, and that was the true emotion Daniel Bryan showed once he had that briefcase in his hands. It’s a rarity to see a wrestler show genuine emotion after winning a match like that, and you could tell it legitimately meant the world to him.

Bryan has been busting his butt for over a decade to get to this point, and it was not a fluke. Daniel Bryan, Bryan Danielson, American Dragon, whatever you want to call him, the guy has consistently been one of the top 10-20 wrestlers in the world, he is just that good. I know some think that a lack of charisma is holding him back, but I disagree.

I have a feeling Bryan has a very quiet, understated charisma and just hasn’t had a chance to show it yet. You know, there were other guys who were seen as not being charismatic enough to make it big in wrestling, guys like Steve Austin, Bret Hart and Triple H to name a few. They were seen as not having the “it” factor and were told a lack of charisma would probably prevent them from ever being big stars in wrestling. Funny how things worked out for all of them, eh? Mark my words, one way or another, Daniel Bryan will be either World or WWE Champion within the next 1-2 years, even if he doesn’t successfully cash in his briefcase. He is too good to NOT be champion.

Okay, enough of my ranting. Let’s move on to tonight’s broadcast. We start the show with Randy Orton in the ring, sitting on a chair. In case we don’t know who he is, he reintroduces himself to us. Orton reminds everyone of what’s going on currently on “RAW”. Orton says that tonight’s show won’t go any further until he addresses an issue with Christian. This prompts the new World Champion to come out, and he appears to have yet another new belt, even though Orton just had a new one the last couple weeks. Anyway, Christian says Orton’s unfinished business might be with the voices in his head and no one else.

Christian reminds Orton of the stipulation of the match at the PPV, and Orton is the one who chose to break those rules. Christian says he didn’t mean to spit in Orton’s face. Christian accuses Orton of being protected in the WWE, but it doesn’t matter because Christian is now the 2-time champion. Orton demands to get his rematch tonight, but Christian says it won’t happen. Orton says they can settle things on their own and begins to rush Christian. Teddy Long‘s music hits and he comes out with every single referee in the WWE. Long tells Orton that he’ll get his rematch, and that tonight he is already signed on to face Kane in a Street Fight which is why his title match can’t happen right now. Orton acts like he’s calm, but then charges Christian and punches him a few times before the refs and other officials step in.

Teddy Long gets in Christian’s face and tells him that, if Orton can face Kane tonight, Christian can face Intercontinental Champion Ezekiel Jackson next. We learn that we get a recap of Monday night’s events, which will give me at least a few minutes of the show where I won’t have to do anything. I’m not the “RAW” recapper, after all.

MATCH 1: World Champion Christian vs. Intercontinental Champion Ezekiel Jackson (non-title)
I swear Zeke’s belt is a replica. It’s noticeably smaller than when Wade Barrett owned it. Lock up to start, but Zeke throws Christian down. They trade some waist-locks, and Zeke gets in a belly-to-back throw, followed by some forearms. A knee to the gut and a gorilla press slam gets 2. Christian back on offense with some punches, but gets back dropped to the floor off an Irish whip attempt. Commercial.

We’re back, and both men are on the outside. Zeke knocks Christian to the floor, then throws him into the ring apron. He tries a clothesline on Christian, but Christian ducks and Zeke hits the steps. Back in the ring, Christian gets a diving back elbow for 2. He stands on Zeke’s back on the middle rope, followed by an uppercut from outside the ring. Zeke fires back with some punches and a big boot, but misses an elbow. Christian with some punches, but Zeke fires back. Christian gets a dropkick on Zeke’s left knee for 2 and follows it up with a chinlock. Zeke breaks out and gets a Samoan drop. With with a couple of running avalanches, followed by one in the corner. He tries again but gets a corner dropkick. Christian up top, but Zeke takes him back down. Another clothesline gets 2 for Zeke. Zeke gets 2 bodyslams off, but Christian gets out on the third attempt and gets in a chopblock. Zeke reverses out of the Killswitch. Christian goes for a sleeper, but Zeke turns it into an Oklahoma stampede attempt. Christian slides out, throws Zeke shoulder-first into the corner post, and gets the Killswitch for 3.

WINNER: Christian. Decent match, but no matter how many times Zeke tried to get fans to cheer for him tonight, they weren’t buying what he was selling.

We then get a video package of everyone’s favorite “Wonder Years” stunt-double, Cody Rhodes. How long before Cody finally takes the mask off that isn’t actually hiding his face whatsoever?

We are now treated to Michael Cole interviewing his arch nemesis, “Mr. Money in the Bank 2011″ Daniel Bryan. Bryan’s got some new, sweet-looking gear on. Cole calls Bryan’s victory a fluke. Bryan tells Cole that his opinion is meaningless. Cole says that, when push comes to shove, Daniel Bryan is going to take the easy way out and cash the contract in when the champion is already beaten up. Cole tells Bryan he will never deserve to be champion. Bryan tells Michael Cole he didn’t deserve to be in a marquee match at WrestleMania this year, either. Excellent, excellent point. Bryan says no one deserves anything in the WWE, and you have to earn everything instead. Bryan lists off injuries he’s accumulated over 12 years, but that he’s never complained about any of them because he’s dreamed of being World Champion since he was a boy. Bryan tells Cole that, no matter times he’s called a nerd, he earned that contract. He says Cole’s right about one thing, and that he doesn’t want to win the title on a fluke. Bryan says he’s going to be the first person to tell us all when and where he’s going to cash in (actually, RVD did this, but nevertheless). He tells us it will be at WrestleMania 28 on 4/1/12 in Miami, FL.

All of a sudden, Heath Slater comes out. He says Bryan picked the greatest stage to commit his greatest failure, and that he’ll lose at ‘Mania. He proceeds to call Bryan a loser, talking about NXT and Nexus in the process. Slater then says Bryan will lose to him tonight as well. Yeah, that’s it.

MATCH 2: Daniel Bryan vs. Heath Slater
Slater with a headlock and a shoulder tackle, but Bryan fires back with a dropkick and a LeBell Lock. Meanwhile, Michael Cole continues to call Daniel Bryan a nerd. Yes, he is a nerd. That’s fine. Most nerds I know of (including Bryan and CM Punk), could beat the living hell out of the average guy. Commercial.

We’re back, and after a series of misses, Bryan locks in an armdrag. Slater counters with a punch and gets a couple of near-falls. Bryan hits a monkey flip, but gets flapjacked into the corner. Hangman’s neckbreaker by Slater gets 2. Slater with a chinlock now. Bryan breaks out, but is hit with a back elbow. Slater with a corner whip, and Bryan’s on the mat now. Bryan fires back with some punches but gets kicked and punched back down into the corner. Over-the-knee facebuster by Slater gets 2. Cole said Slater is a future world champion. That’ll be the day. Bryan backflips out of a cornerwhip and gets a running forearm strike in. He telegraphs a back body drop, but is able to back drop Slater out to the floor. Bryan hits a running knee strike from the ring apron. Back in, Bryan gets the seated missile dropkick for 2. Bryan goes for the LeBell Lock again, but Slater reverses it into a spinebuster for 2. He must’ve gone through OVW at some point. Slater looks for Sweetness, but Bryan knees out of it and they trade small package pins for 2 each. Bryan goes for a tornado DDT, but instead holds on into the guillotine choke. Slater taps.

WINNER: Daniel Bryan. Great match, and more proof that Bryan can make anyone look good. I hear Bryan’s been doing some MMA training in hopes of adding some more submission holds to his arsenal. I look forward to that.

We get a recap of the Show/Henry match from last Sunday. Not even one of WWE’s famous highlight videos can make this match look like it was good. This leads to Matt Striker interviewing. Henry. Henry says his destruction will never end, and that hurting Show gave him perverted power. Just so long as that power doesn’t cause him to impregnate another woman with a rubber hand…

We now move onto the recap from Monday night, and I take a break.

We learn that Sheamus and Wade Barrett is coming up after the commercial. I’ve actually been waiting for this feud to happen, so hopefully, tonight isn’t just a one-shot deal.

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MATCH 3: Wade Barrett vs. Sheamus
I really wish Barrett had a different finisher. I like the name “Wasteland”, but I hate the move. I hated it in Mexico, and I don’t like it any more in the U.S. Sheamus starts off with a knee and some punches and kicks. Barrett answers back with the same. Sheamus gets a nasty gut shot in, and then drops some knees. Barrett gets an elbow in and a big boot out of the corner. Barrett misses a clothesline but gets a back kick to the guy, followed by a boot to the head for 2. Barrett’s got Sheamus in the ropes, and hits a series of knees, followed by a boot that drops Sheamus to the apron. Barrett drags Sheamus into the ring for 2. Sheamus gets some kicks in, but Barrett’s right back on him. Barrett tries for the pumphandle slam, but Sheamus slides out and hits the Irish Curse for 2. Sheamus has got Barrett in the ropes now and hits some forearms to the chest, followed by a running knee strike that gets 2. BTW-Sheamus was BIG with Chicago last Sunday. Sheamus tackles Barrett on the floor, and now they’re trading some punches. Barrett whips Sheamus into the barricade, and now they’re brawling in front of the announce table as both men get counted out.

WINNER: Double Count-Out. As Sheamus is arguing with the ref, Barrett shoves Sheamus into the post and throws him back in the ring. Barrett tries for Wasteland, but Sheamus lands a big Brogue Kick right to Barrett’s face. I really like the prospect of a feud between these two. Not only do we not get many heel/heel feuds, but these guys are two of my current favorites.

Backstage somewhere, Kane is standing while background music plays. He says that he has unleashed pain and suffering on the WWE for 14 years. He says lately, he’s the one who is haunted by his own humanity. He gives the same “less like a monster…” line he gave last week, and that Randy Orton will be the vehicle that allows him to awake the monster within. That line seems a bit “festive” to me, but that’s what the man said.

MATCH 4: Street Fight: Randy Orton vs. Kane
Orton comes to the ring as we take a commercial break.

You know, I think AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” may be the most overused song in movie trailer history.

Back from the commercial, and Orton’s running the ropes as Kane comes to the ring. Question-is Kane a heel or face now, or does anyone even know? With as many turns as this guy makes, you’d think he was working for TNA Wrestling. Kane starts off with punches and knees into the corner. Kane follows a corner whip with a clothesline. He tries again, but Orton kicks him and hits just the worst Lou Thesz press you’ve ever seen. Orton tries for the RKO early, but Kane throws him off and clotheslines him to the outside. The two are now brawling on the outside, and Kane drops Orton with a right hand. Kane tries to throw Orton back into the ring, but Orton slams him into the apron. Orton grabs a kendo stick from under the ring and hits Kane about half a dozen times. Orton pulls Kane back in the ring and tries for the suspended DDT, but Kane back drops him back outside. Kane throws Orton into the barricade, and we go to commercial.

Back from break, and Kane’s punching Orton in the face on the mat. Kane gets a snapmare before landing the awful basement dropkick for 2. Orton fires back with some punches and kicks. Kane charges Orton on the ropes, but Orton low bridges him, sending Kane to the outside. Orton tries an apron dive, but Kane connects with an uppercut. Kane starts tearing the announce table apart. Kane’s looking for the chokeslam now, but Orton lands on his feet on the table, and then proceeds to get his leg caught in one of the holes on the announce table, bringing the table down on top of his leg. That should be on Botchamania.com in no time. Orton whips Kane into the steps. Orton gets some mounted punches in, then stops on Kane’s leg on the steps. He picks up the other part of the steps and slams them down onto Kane’s leg. More commercials.

Back, and Orton is still in control, but that doesn’t last long after a big boot from Kane. Kane goes up top and misses the DC-10. Orton throws Kane into the post shoulder-first, leading to the suspended DDT. Orton has that doofus smile on his face now, and drops down to his fists for the RKO. Didn’t he break his wrist doing that once? He tries for the RKO, but Kane pushes him off and catches a sidewalk slam for 2. Kane connects with the DC-10 this time around, and now he’s looking for the chokeslam. Orton snaps off an RKO out of nowhere, but surprisingly, this only gets 2. Orton looks like his eyes have permanent coffee burn around them. Orton’s looking for the punt kick now. Kane sees it coming and fires off a chokeslam for 2. Yet ANOTHER commercial break. Jeebus!

Back, and Kane’s clubbering Orton with a chair. He’s looking for the chokeslam yet again, this time on the chair. Instead, he goes for the Tombstone, but Orton slides out. Kane catches him by the throat, but Orton jumps out and catches the RKO on the chair for the 3.

WINNER: Randy Orton. REAL WINNER: The announce table. That was funny as hell.
Kane’s back up now, and offers a handshake. Orton accepts it as Kane hobbles out of the ring. Orton leaves the ring as Kane gets back up. Mark Henry comes down to the ring now. According to Booker T, Mark Henry and Kane are about to “get busy”. Not sure that means what he thinks it does. They trade some shots before Henry kicks Kane’s leg out of his leg (RIP Owen Hart), followed by a standing avalanche. Henry slams Kane’s knee into the mat before hitting the World’s Strongest Slam and the Warrior splash. All three commentators leave ringside as Henry grabs a chair and Pillmanizes Kane’s left leg with a Vader Bomb.

End of show.
Honestly, not a bad show tonight. Bryan/Slater was damn good, and they have planted the seeds for a Barrett/Sheamus feud. While the finish of their match was cheap, it actually made sense as no decisive winner was determined, and it leaves room for rematches. Neither guy looked weak, and instead they both looked like badass thugs who want to do nothing more than beat the hell out of each other, which is a type of feud I can get behind. It will be interesting to see who turns face. I’m going with Sheamus, but an indy wrestler friend of mine Arik (www.twitter.com/realarikangel) says Barrett. Either way, I like this feud.

Quite frankly, the main event wasn’t even bad. I hate Orton and Kane bores the hell out of me, but they put in a decent showing tonight, save for the hilarious spot where the announce table kicked the hell out of Orton.

Full WWE Friday Night SmackDown July 22 Results…
Christian beat Ezekiel Jackson in a non-title match
Daniel Bryan beat Heath Slater
Sheamus fought Wade Barrett to a double count out
Randy Orton defeated Kane in a street fight

As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/XDustinEFLX, and follow my personal blog at http://nerdslikeme.blogspot.com, where I have plenty of new stuff up, including a look at my tattoo collection, for those of you that like body art. Oh, and if you like bodybuilding, check out my mom’s official site by clicking the banner below:

Gerri Davis Banner, NPC National Level Heavyweight and Masters Female Bodybuilder

Thanks for reading, and as long as Spike TV still fronts the bill, I’ll see you next week.

-Dustin

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How “worked” was CM Punk’s “shoot” promo now? – Inside the Wheelhouse

July 21, 2011 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The CM Punk Shoot Promo VideoLets me preface this blog by saying I loved and will always love the CM Punk “shoot promo” from the June 27th, 2011 edition of Monday Night RAW. It is one of the most memorable and historical promos in the history of wrestling.

But as we approach nearly a full month later from the promo taking place, I think it’s safe to say that now, looking back at it, the promo may have been all from the mouth & mind with CM Punk but there were definitely some bullet points the creative team wanted him to hit.

A good portion of what was said in the promo has somehow come across on WWE television or via the internet. Don’t believe what I’m saying yet? Let’s go through the promo from June 27th and take a look at what we have seen happen on WWE programming or on your favorite wrestling news internet site (which should be wrestlechat.net or camelclutchblog.com mind you).

“And I’ve been vilified and hated since that day because Paul Heyman saw something in me that nobody else wanted to admit. That’s right, I’m a Paul Heyman guy. You know who else was a Paul Heyman guy? Brock Lesnar. And he split just like I’m splitting. But the biggest difference between me and Brock is I’m going to leave with the WWE Championship.”

Days after the CM Punk shoot promo aired on RAW it was revealed via the wrestling news website that Paul Heyman & Brock Lesnar were in negotiations with the WWE for some sort of deal that didn’t involve wrestling or being on television. None the less was it coincidence that CM Punk said those specific names in the promo since days later it was revealed they were in talks with the company? Also come to find out that Brock Lesnar’s current boss Dana White was at WWE Headquarters recently which could all be part of this deal the two sides are working out.

The only thing that’s real is me and the fact that day in and day out, for almost six years, I have proved to everybody in the world that I am the best on this microphone, in that ring, even in commentary! Nobody can touch me!

Don’t believe that part of the promo? Did you not watch Money in the Bank or see how excited the wrestling world has been since June 27th. While credit needs to be given out to the WWE, Vince McMahon and John Cena, it wouldn’t have been this exciting if it wasn’t for CM Punk. So by those standards alone you got to agree with the guy because I certainly do.

And yet no matter how many times I prove it, I’m not on your lovely little collector cups. I’m not on the cover of the program. I’m barely promoted. I don’t get to be in movies. I’m certainly not on any crappy show on the USA Network. I’m not on the poster of WrestleMania. I’m not on the signature that’s produced at the start of the show. I’m not on Conan O’Brian. I’m not on Jimmy Fallon. But the fact of the matter is, I should be.

He will be now.

This isn’t sour grapes. But the fact that Dwayne is in the main event at WrestleMania next year and I’m not makes me sick!

It’s been said in recent weeks and during various CM Punk interviews, he believes that the dream match all fans want to see is CM Punk vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and if you told me that during Wrestlemania season I wouldn’t believe you, but as of right now I couldn’t agree more. We have seen the playful banter back on forth between the two on television and twitter, there is definitely something there and after what we saw during Tough Enough we know Austin still has at least one left in the tank. I’m sure the “Texas Rattlesnake” would put over CM Punk that night as well as he is one of the biggest fans of the “Straight Edge Superstar.”

Another recent rumored WrestleMania match based off of what we saw last Monday on RAW (which I’ll get to in a little bit) could be CM Punk vs. Triple H. Triple H is the new WWE Chairman and CM Punk is the anti-establishment wrestler, it worked the first time with Austin vs. McMahon and we could be on the same course with Punk vs. Triple H. Despite what he may say there has to be a symbolic reason CM Punk wore that Stone Cold shirt when he cut this promo.

Maybe…I’ll go back to Ring of Honor. Hey, Colt Cabana, how you doing?

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Reports came out recently that the sources in both the WWE & ROH believe that there is some sort of working agreement between the two companies. If that is to be the case it would explain why the WWE is allowing Punk to mention his old company on WWE television and during this historic promo. It should also be noted that Ring of Honor will quick off there first television tapings under Sinclair on August 13th in Chicago Ridge, Illinois. Not to far from the home of the current “unemployed” WWE Champion and the day before the WWE Summerslam PPV, would it be far fetched that Punk shows up to the tapings with the gold?

As for Colt Cabana we have heard reports since the promo was cut that he could be on his way back to the WWE as well. He has been mentioned on WWE TV by Punk in multiple weeks and was clearly seen at the Money in the Bank PPV, as well as the post-celebration pictures that showed up on TMZ. Cabana is not currently booked for the August 13th ROH TV Tapings where he is a main event player in his hometown of Chicago Ridge (which could squash the WWE/ROH rumors) and it’s been said that he’s told other Independent companies outside of ROH that he works for that he won’t be taking bookings after July.

Because he surrounds himself with glad-handed, non-sensical, douchebag (censored) yes men, like John Laurinaitis, who’s going to tell him everything he wants to hear..

We would never see John Laurinaitis a.k.a the former Johnny Ace outside of the occasional fight break-up along with other agents on WWE television. He was never acknowledged on WWE TV as the VP of Talent Relations until Money in the Bank where he tried to interfere in the Punk/Cena match. He was also showcased on the next night of RAW where it appeared he was heading to a “2011 stooge” (credit: WWE.com) role. Obviously that may have changed (see below).

“…and I’d like to think that maybe this company will better after Vince McMahon is dead. But the fact is, it’s going to be taken over by his idiotic daughter and his doofus son-in-law and the rest of his stupid family.”

The night after the great WWE Money in the Bank 2011 Pay-Per-View we saw the return of Vince McMahon’s “doofus son-in-law” (CM Punk’s words not mine), Triple H and witnessed the “changing of the guard” as Triple H assumed the role of the on screen WWE Chairman as Vince McMahon was relieved of his duties. Isn’t it ironic that 3 weeks prior CM Punk mentioned the company may be better off without McMahon (which the “board of directors” clearly agreed with as well) and that his son-in-law would take over? Looks like the fantasy booker inside all of us could see an Austin/McMahon storyline with Punk/Triple H (as mentioned before in the blog).

It appears that as time goes on and more & more of these things become rumours or reality that the CM Punk promo, while despite being memorable, historical & brilliant, was nothing more then the “worked” shoot promo that some of us believed. That what was mentioned in the promo was nothing more then little seeds to plant inside the heads of wrestling fans to grow through time as the angle continued to build on overtime. For that I have nothing wrong with what the WWE or CM Punk did here because it’s still an amazing angle that is making people talk, watch or write blogs about. It has all fans excited and that’s a really good thing.

Join Eric Gargiulo & myself for the Thursday July 21st edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net .

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday – Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at www.blogtalkradio.com/thewheelhouse and at www.errorfm.com @ 2am ET/11pm PT

Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site..”

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Daniel Bryan Reveals His Money In The Bank Plans

July 20, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Daniel Bryan Money in the BankThe WWE already have a jump start on WrestleMania 28. The company did something unprecedented when it announced its main event a year early. Now with ten months to go, another main-event has been announced. Well, half of one anyway.

The following is a SmackDown spoiler. If you wish to avoid spoilers, stop reading now. Okay, you have been warned!

The intrigue about Money in the Bank is that the winner can cash in at anytime for a WWE title shot. Winners will stalk their champions over the course of time and pounce at the right opportunity to claim their WWE championship shot. That is why WWE Money in the Bank winners are undefeated against defending WWE champions.

Not Daniel Bryan. Daniel Bryan is doing something different. Bryan has put the WWE world heavyweight champion on notice. Bryan will not play the “MITB game” of hunting and striking at the right moment. Nope, Bryan announced his intentions at the WWE Friday Night SmackDown taping, which will air Friday, and revealed exactly when and where he will cash in his Money in the Bank contract.

WrestleMania 28.

That is right. Daniel Bryan told Michael Cole during an interview segment that he will wait and cash in his Money in the Bank contract on April 1 in Miami, FL. Although many have threatened, Bryan would be the first Money in the Bank winner to wait and cash in his opportunity at a WrestleMania. I don’t know who his opponent will be but one thing you can be guaranteed is that you are going to get one hell of a co-main event at WrestleMania 28.

Allow me for a brief second to partake in some gloating. On April 6 I had a little fun and wrote a blog entitled, “Very Early WrestleMania 28 Predictions.” I put together a list of what I thought were the most probable WrestleMania 28 matches for a variety of reasons. Here is what I wrote and predicted back on April 6.

Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan…WWE championship. Is it likely? No. Is it possible? Did you think The Miz or Alberto Del Rio would be wrestling in a WWE world title match at WrestleMania one year ago? For a guy that wasn’t even on the broadcast this year it would be a huge leap for Bryan. However, if there is anyone that I think can get himself over during the course of the next year to make this happen it is him.

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I think Randy Orton turning heel is inevitable. I also think that another WWE title run is also inevitable for the Viper. I think the disastrous main-event this year has taught the WWE a lesson and for whatever you think of Vince McMahon, he is not a dumb guy. He saw that he had two guys in his main-event that couldn’t put a good match together to save their lives. He also has to be very aware of the negative backlash coming out of the match with most fans feeling let down due to the weak WWE championship match. If there was ever a year for him to roll the dice with Bryan and guarantee a great main-event, it is next year.

This one is easy to make work. Daniel Bryan wins the Royal Rumble and boom gets the shot. Now Bryan isn’t exactly over as a top babyface right now but that is where Orton comes in. The cookie cutter babyface vs. the dastardly heel works almost every time and you have two of the best playing their respective roles in this one. I certainly wouldn’t look for a WWE title win from Bryan here, but I do expect him to get a big spot on next year’s WrestleMania. It doesn’t get much bigger than this.

Obviously my booking here is off with Bryan winning the Royal Rumble but the idea is exactly the same. Daniel Bryan earns a WWE world heavyweight title shot and blows away the WrestleMania audience with an exciting main-event. Here I thought I was going out on a big limb here because I never expected the WWE to have the guts to do it.

I think there are a couple of factors at play here. One, I stand by what I said about The Miz vs. John Cena main-event. I think that Vince McMahon and the WWE team were so upset about the match quality that they made it a personal mission next year to give fans exciting championship matches. Unless Daniel Bryan has the first bad match of his career, it is fairly a given that this kid is going to deliver in the big spot.

Two and I think even more importantly, there is a small revolution at work right now in the WWE. The elevation of CM Punk, the retooling of The Miz as a babyface, Christian getting another championship opportunity, and now Daniel Bryan being elevated into the WrestleMania spotlight aren’t all coincidences. There is obviously an attempt right now to put more of an emphasis on quality and youth over the status quo offered by World Wrestling Entertainment over the last couple of years.

I am excited. I am a big fan as most are who have watched Bryan work outside of the WWE. I think he would be a huge hit as a WWE champion. It is now up to the WWE creative team to keep him strong for ten months and get him over to the point where people believe he can beat the champion and people want to see him beat the champion.

Well, it was a nice thought.

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A Tribute For The Winner Of The Inaugural Money Of The Bank Ladder Match, EDGE

July 19, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Edge with Money in the BankBlogs, and articles galore have been written about CM Punk as WWE Money in the Bank was scheduled to be his last official day with the WWE or so it seemed.

I admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of his, but over the past couple of years, I started to appreciate his work, both in the ring, and on the mic. He definitely will be missed, and I look forward to his return. However, what I will be talking about in this blog is a little tribute and an update on the man who won the very first Money in the Bank Ladder Match, EDGE.

As most wrestling fans are aware, Chris Jericho in 2005 (storyline) came up with the idea of this Money In The Bank Ladder Bank Ladder match for WrestleMania 21, where the participants would have a ladder match, and whomever climbed up that ladder and grabbed the briefcase was the winner. The winner would have one year to “cash the briefcase” in and invoke their title shot for whatever title on whichever brand. This match became a staple at every WrestleMania thereafter up until WrestleMania 26 which was the last Mania to feature it as later that year, in 2010, there would be a PPV of the same name.

In the Los Angeles Staples Center, at WrestleMania 21, the Money In The Bank Ladder Match kicked off the show. I was in attendance at this PPV, and little did I realize, I was about to witness the birth of a top star, and the birth of an all time great. The participants of this match were Christian, Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, Chris Benoit, Kane, and Edge, It was an awesome match, with the highlight spot being provided by Shelton Benjamin going up that ladder.

Of course, the end comes with Edge hitting Benoit’s arm, knocking Benoit off the ladder, and Edge climbing up and grabbing the brief case and the win. Edge eventually goes on to cash the briefcase in on a bloodied and battered John Cena on January 8, 2006 to win his first WWE Title, and the rest is history.

Of course, most wrestling fans know that on April 11, 2011, on Monday Night Raw, Edge sadly announced that due to spinal stenosis (stemming from neck surgery in 2003), he was forced to retire from the ring. There have been a million tributes, but I just want to say that when I was sitting in the Staples Center, I admit I wasn’t sure WWE picked the right guy at first.

However, it was the infamous “love triangle” that really convinced me that “Hey. They got something in Edge here that I didn’t realize.” From then on it, I was hooked. I liked Edge since he started in 1998, don’t get me wrong, but I guess it took awhile for the light to go on I guess.

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I found Edge to be an awesome heel. I think he was one of the very best. I thought he was pretty good as a face. I felt badly about the retirement, because he was just starting to really take off as a face. I was really looking forward to a program with Christian. I read Edge’s book, and the more I found out about him, the more I really admired him. I have met him three times, and he is a great person as he was a wrestler putting on great matches with wrestlers such as the Undertaker, Jericho, HHH, Cena, Flair, etc.

The update is that according to an interview with WWE.com, he is spending lots of time enjoying the great outdoors. He spending time working on his house. He is doing stuff for himself like hiking, and playing with his dogs. He is delving into acting. He did a role for the SYFY series “Sanctuary,” and he is currently involved in a guest starring role for SYFY’s “Haven.” that just started Season 2 last Friday. The pain from his injury has subsided. When he travels though, “the pain returns,” Edge says.

Edge said that the Money in the Bank match validated his career, and he said that he liked Cody Rhodes for the Smackdown MITB win. He was asked if he still supported Christian and he said that he “totally supports him.” Edge also said that the Money in the Bank match is more difficult with eight people. He also said he may write another book.

Well, that is my update and tribute. Edge has been a great inspiration for me. I admired his determination to come back from devastating injuries. I admire his ability to carry on and go after new opportunities now that his in ring career is over.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead

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Alberto Del Rio Originally Planned To Win WWE Championship At MITB

July 19, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Alberto Del RioThe pro wrestling world continues to buzz about CM Punk leaving Money in the Bank with the WWE championship. Yet according to a new report, those excited wrestling fans were closer to being robbed of this moment than they would have thought.

According to pro wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, CM Punk leaving the WWE with the title at the pay per view was not the original plan. Meltzer said on his F4Wonline.com podcast that while the plan all along for WWE Money in the Bank 2011 was to end the show with a new WWE champion, CM Punk was not the original choice.

Meltzer said on his podcast that the predicted finish with Alberto Del Rio cashing in his Money in the Bank contract and winning the WWE title at the end of the night was the plan up until a few days ago. Something happened to change the minds of the WWE brass and an audible was called to give CM Punk the WWE championship and pro wrestling fans one of the most fun angles in recent memory.

Alberto is slowly turning into the least lucky WWE superstar in history. This marks about the third or fourth time that Del Rio was scheduled to win the WWE championship or WWE world heavyweight championship this year only to have the rug pulled out from him at the last moment. Ted DiBiase has told similar tales about promised WWE and NWA world championship runs that never happened due to a last minute change.

It is amazing if you think about how different things would be today in the WWE if Money in the Bank ended with the original finish. With all due respect to Del Rio, his win would have taken the air right out of the balloon of excitement that came out of Money in the Bank Sunday night. As a matter of a fact the fan backlash to such a predictable ending could have been fairly damaging in the short term for the WWE.

The obvious question here is what changed the minds of the WWE in the final week before the match? Did the WWE have a change of heart because they felt the finish was too predictable? Is Alberto Del Rio in the dog house? Was there a change of plans for SummerSlam? What caused the WWE brass to make such a drastic change before Sunday?

I think the obvious answer here is that CM Punk signed a new WWE contract. Whether it is an agreement just to come back for a month and drop the title at a pay per view or a full-time contract, Punk signed something. Even the biggest CM Punk fans would have to be naïve to think that the WWE would allow anyone not under contract to leave the company with their championship. Vince McMahon may be a lot of things but dumb is not one of them.

I also think that the fan reaction had a lot to do with this as well. If Punk really was at a stalemate in contract negotiations, maybe the fan reaction to Punk helped get a deal done? Punk has turned into something very rare in mainstream pro wrestling today. He has become a babyface that appeals to the teenage and young 20’s audience. I can’t think of anyone more over with that crowd than Punk. It reminds me a lot of the ECW movement from 95-97 that grasped pro wrestling fans disinterested in the directions of WCW and WWE, which at the time were some of the worst in pro wrestling history. CM Punk is ECW!

So for all of the critics who for weeks said that the WWE would screw this (the Punk angle) up, well they almost did.

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WWE RAW July 18, 2011 Results – I Hope The RAW Rating Is A 10.0

July 18, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

John Cena and Vince McMahonWWE Raw, 7/18/11, Green Bay, WI

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.

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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)

Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for WrestlingNewsSource.com and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.

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