Welcome back to another edition of WWE Wrestler of the Week! This week’s winner may surprise you as he is not someone who receives a lot of attention. He is not someone who is on the verge of winning any championship and he is not someone who has ever held a title in WWE. At the same time, he is the only WWE superstar with a 2-0 record this week. This week’s winner is Sin Cara.
On the March 1st edition of Smackdown, Sin Cara was successful against 3MB member Heath Slater. Although the match was short, 3MB had been getting a lot more attention than Sin Cara recently. Slater, McIntyre and Mahal are usually on the losing end of matches, but then again, so is Sin Cara. Sin Cara was quietly starting a winning streak on SmackDown.
Although he was absent from WWE’s old school edition of Raw on Monday March 4th, Sin Cara did face the United States Champion Antonio Cesaro on Main Event Wednesday night. One would have thought this would be an easy match for Cesaro, but alas Sin Cara shocked the WWE Universe with a win in a non-title match. Defeating Heath Slater on Smackdown is one thing, but a win over U.S. Champion Cesaro is completely different.
The fact that Cesaro seems to be heading down a losing streak is ridiculous and should not be happening. Cesaro and Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett have been losing match after match to Randy Orton. Cesaro should be considered an up and coming superstar in WWE, but losses to Ryback and Sin Cara in the same week are not a good sign.
Could WWE be positioning Sin Cara for a United States title run?
While it seems to be a disastrous idea, it could push Cesaro to the main event. Plus, it would give Sin Cara a big push with Rey Mysterio certainly out of the picture.
Sin Cara had a rough start to his WWE career due to injuries and suspensions, but finally had a breakthrough thanks to Mysterio. When the two luchadors formed a tag team, it allowed Sin Cara to receive the mentoring he needed to be successful. Unfortunately, Rey Mysterio’s health and personal issues have caused the tag team to end.
Mysterio may be nearing the end of his wrestling career, but Sin Cara’s is just beginning. Now that he has learned some lessons from Mysterio, perhaps the future will be brighter for the luchador. With Alberto Del Rio as the top Latino babyface, WWE could have a secondary superstar to assist with that demographic.
It will always be difficult for Sin Cara to reach a high level status in WWE due to the difficulties in language and communication. A manager would be an excellent idea for Sin Cara. Someone who can be used as a mouthpiece for him. Until that happens, Sin Cara needs to continue his winning ways and let his actions speak for him.
What do you think of this week’s WWE Wrestler of the Week? Do you agree or disagree? Why? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Be sure to check out Camel Clutch Blog each and every Friday for a new WWE Wrestler of the Week!
Seth M. Guttenplan is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and host of OH YOU DIDN’T KNOW!? PWPRadio’s weekly radio show covering all wrestling news and rumors. To read more from Seth follow him on twitter (@sethgutt) and check out guttwrenchpowerblog.com. You can also like GWP on Facebook here.
The WWE Tables, Ladders, and Chairs 2012 buyrate is one of the more eagerly anticipated buyrates in recent memory. How would the event do without a true main-event? Well, that all depends upon your expectations.
The buyrate is in and I’d say it is…well okay. The show did an estimated 170,000 buys. The number is down from the previous year which featured Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk vs. The Miz for the WWE title at 179,000 buys. The show is a much larger dip from the 2010 event which featured the John Cena vs. Nexus conclusion.
One piece of this that does interest me is how the replay did. The show had very low expectations going in but turned out to be one of the better shows of the year. Both The Shield vs. Team Hell No and Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena turned out to be great matches. I would suspect that a big part of that number came from fans who wanted to catch the replay after reading all of the great reviews.
I’d say the number is a huge disappointment coming off of the number CM Punk vs. Ryback did at the Hell in a Cell which did 200,000 buys. The WWE really caught lightning in a bottle with Punk and Ryback at that particular time, thanks to a John Cena injury. The original main-event for TLC was Punk vs. Ryback in a rematch. I have to think that the number would have been higher with the original main-event.
I’d say that by looking at the card on paper that 170,000 is a fairly respectable number. I am sure having Cena beat Ziggler on RAW before the match didn’t help, but nonetheless they were able to put together a somewhat sensible storyline in a short time for the match.
As for The Shield, I didn’t think there would be that much interest from casual fans in watching these guys debut. I think they are going to have a tougher time than some think of getting over to the mass audience. Unfortunately Daniel Bryan and Kane had been booked as something of a comedy act up to that point which also didn’t help.
Welcome to the first WWE Friday Night SmackDown! of 2013. We’re in Richmond, VA, and the show is opening with the returning Randy Orton. I had forgotten he was even gone. Those were good times. Since tonight is the first SD! of ’13, and since it seems to be the “in” thing to do to declare your resolutions, he’s going to make this short and sweet: he wants to be World Heavyweight Champion. SD! was his show, but lately that doesn’t seem to be the case. He’s got a way to change that. Tonight, he officially announces his entry into the 2013 Royal Rumble. On this note, Sheamus’ music hits, and he joins Orton in the ring. He apologizes for interrupting, fella. He’s not here to steal any thunder; he’s here to do the same thing as Orton. He also wants to be champ, so he’s declaring that he will also enter the Royal Rumble. That’s not the only reason he’s out here. He thanks Orton for helping him out with The Shield on Monday. Orton didn’t do it for him; he did it for himself. At the Rumble, it will be about Orton, not Sheamus. Sheamus knows how the Rumble works, as he won it last year. Orton remembers, and that’s why it’ll be special when he eliminates Sheamus. Sheamus asks if he Brogue Kicks his head over the ropes and Orton’s body stays in the ring, does that count as an elimination?
Time for the World Champion to join the fray, as The Big Show makes his way out, only he stops on the stage. He’s been listening to these two yap about winning the Rumble and winning the title. They might get a chance at the belt by winning the Rumble, but if they somehow survive, all they’re getting a shot at is the WMD. Sheamus, your 2013 is going to end up like 2012, and end with him Show knocking him out. As for Orton, he’s happy to step on a snake and grind it into the ground. He’s the world’s largest athlete and the most dominant champion WWE’s ever seen. WWE United States Champion Antonio Cesaro comes out and says these guys are typical Americans, fighting about who will beat up who. Sheamus points out he’s from Ireland. Cesaro calls that worse. Where he comes from, Switzerland, they don’t just talk; they take action. For months, he’s been talking about obese, lazy Americans, something Show should realize when he looks in the mirror, but doesn’t. Orton threatens to RKO both Cesaro and Show.
Smackdown! GM Booker T now joins Cesaro and Show on the stage. It’s obvious to him that these four don’t like each other, but tonight, they’ll need to get along, because Show is teaming with Cesaro against Sheamus and Orton. Tonight, we’re going to kick the new year off with a bang. Now, can you dig that, sucka?
Later tonight, IC Champion defends his title against former champion Kofi Kingston.
MATCH 1: The Miz vs. Heath Slater (w/Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal)
JBL calls 3MB “The air guitar version of the Spirit Squad”. Great line. Lock-up to start, and Slater immediately goes into a waistlock. Miz breaks it with an arm wringer into a hammerlock. Slater elbows out before running into a dropkick. Miz takes Slater down with a hip throw into a side headlock. Slater breaks free, so Miz hits another one. Slater gets a corner break and fires off some rights. Miz comes back with lefts, hits a hip toss and another hip throw. Slater counters into a side headlock, so Miz yanks him down by the hair. Mahal causes a distraction, so the ref orders him to get down. Miz thumbs Slater in the eye behind the ref’s back, then hits another hip throw. Miz hits a shoulder off the ropes, and Slater goes for a hip toss off the crisscross, but Miz blocks it and hits his own. Miz drops Slater with a running knee, so McIntyre trips him up. Miz dropkicks him through the ropes, knocking him down. He also knocks Mahal off the apron with a left hand. Slater uses the distraction to land a forearm to Miz’s face. Meanwhile, the ref ejects both Mahal and McIntyre. Miz rolls Slater up in a schoolboy for 2. Slater rolls to the floor as we go to commercials.
Back from the break, Slater is in control with rights in the corner. He boots Miz down before Miz comes back with a double-leg takedown and mounted punches. Slater avoids a punch off the ropes and rolls to the floor. Miz goes out and shoves him into the post. He drops Slater across the barricade before the match returns to the ring. Slater kicks Miz in the leg, then sends him shoulder-first into the post. Slater begins dropping elbows on the left arm, then forces Miz into the mat with a hammerlock. Miz fights out, but Slater snaps him to the mat with an arm wringer for 2. Slater applies a keylock, but Miz escapes and rolls Slater up with a sunset flip for 2. Slater pops up and hits a nice jumping side kick for 2. Miz rolls to the apron, where Slater hotshots his arm across the middle rope. Miz slides under the legs and pulls Slater down into another sunset flip for 2, but Slater is up quickly and lands a clothesline for 2. Miz comes back with a kitchen sink and follows up with a low running boot for 2. Slater sends Miz back to the corner, shoulder-first, then knee-chokes him. Slater goes to the outside and wraps Miz’s arm against the ring post before going back to the keylock in the ring. Miz breaks the hold with a back suplex. They trade punches from the knees, but Miz gets the best of it. He lands a back elbow and a clothesline, followed by a back body drop. Slater counters the Reality Check and hits a neckbreaker out of the corner for 2. Miz sidesteps a charge and hits the hanging clothesline. Up top, double axe handle connects. Miz calls for the SKF, hits it, and gets the 3.
WINNER: The Miz. Considering the two in this match, it was actually pretty good.
Matt Striker is standing by with new IC Champion Wade Barrett. Barrett cuts Striker off and says it’s simple: Wade Barrett is the new IC Champion. That’s not good enough for media-types, because they need a scandal to tear him down, just like everyone else. If Striker wants a scandal, look at Main Event when Kofi attacked him from behind after he defeated 3 superstars. Tonight, he beats Kofi again, and after that, he’s out of chances. Do what you want, because after tonight, Barrett walks away IC Champion.
MATCH 2-6-Person Tag Team Match: The Great Khali, Hornswoggle and Natalya vs. Epico, Rosa Mendes and Primo
Sorry, Eric, but I’m standing by my refusal to recap Hornswoggle matches. Khali is starting to develop a nice spare tire, BTW. Khali pins Epico following a brain chop.
WINNERS: The Great Khali, Hornswoggle and Natalya.
Striker is in the back with Kofi Kingston. He reminds Kofi of his title loss and pinning Barrett in a gauntlet match on Main Event. He asks about Kofi’s momentum. Kofi says it has nothing to do with that. This might be his last shot at the IC title, but this isn’t anything new. He always comes up fighting, and tonight will be no different as he becomes champion once again. Barrett can say he’s running out of option, but Barrett will be running into Trouble in Paradise.
Kofi Kingston video package.
MATCH 3-Intercontinental Championship: Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett (Champion)
Lock-up, and Kofi backs Barrett into the corner. Clean break is given, and Kofi goes into a waste lock. Barrett rolls him off, and Kofi counters into a headscissors. Back up, Barrett boots Kofi in the gut, then begin punching him. Kofi comes back with some kicks, then turns an armbar into a pin for 1. Kofi holds on, so Barrett shoves him off and shoulders him off the ropes. Crisscross ends in a Kofi spinning back elbow. Kofi sends Barrett to the floor, then follows out and attacks from behind, slamming Barrett into the steps. Back in, Kofi hits a springboard clothesline for 2. Kofi applies an inverted chinlock, then turns it into an armbar. Barrett fights him off before sending Kofi hard into the corner. Barrett hits some punches to the ribs, then drops Kofi with a short-arm clothesline for 1. Barrett applies a rear chinlock, but Kofi fights out and rolls Barrett up with a backslide for 2. Sunset flip by Kofi for 2, followed by an inside cradle for 2. Barrett boots him in the gut and goes for a clothesline to the floor, but Kofi low bridges him. Kofi levels him with a slingshot plancha. Barrett fires back and throws Kofi into the ring. Barrett starts to get back in the ring, but decides to take the count-out. Kofi interrupts the count and kicks Barrett in the gut. Kofi throws Barrett in at 9 while simultaneously rolling himself in. He ducks a clothesline and gets a nice roll-up on Barrett for 2. Commercials.
We’re back, and Barrett drops Kofi before applying a rear chinlock. Kofi fights out, but Barrett kitchen sinks him, then hits a middle rope elbow for 2. Barrett ties Kofi up in the ropes for some knee strikes, then drops him to the floor with a running boot. Kofi makes it back in at 9, and Barrett cuts him off with a boot and some punches. He drops Kofi across the top buckle, setting up for a superplex. Kofi blocks and knocks him down with a headbutt. Pumping cross-body by Kofi gets 2. Barrett is up first, and he fires off some punches. They trade blows until Barrett throws Kofi to the corner. Kofi hits the Pendulum, but misses a springboard clothesline. He blocks the mule kick and ducks a clothesline, hitting the SOS for 2. Kofi with a running boot, and the Boom Drop connects. Kofi calls for TIP, but Barrett ducks and goes for the Winds of Change. Kofi counters into a sunset flip, getting 2. Barrett immediately stacks Kofi up, getting 2 himself. He hits the Winds of Change on the second try, getting another 2. Kofi ducks a clothesline and hits TIP, but Barrett falls out to the floor before Kofi can make the pin. Kofi rolls him back in for the pin, but Barrett gets a rope break on 2. Kofi props him in the counter, where Barrett boots him off a charge. He calls for the Bull Hammer, but Kofi ducks and goes to the second rope. He dives off, right into the Bull Hammer for 3.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Wade Barrett. Awesome match. I love it when these two wrestle. And damn, did Barrett nail Kofi in the face. Doesn’t hurt that Kofi sold the living piss out of it, either. I like the Bull Hammer as a finisher more than I thought I would.
MATCH 4: Layla vs. Tamina Snuka
Glad to see Tamina finally getting somewhat of a push. Lock-up ends in a clean break on the ropes. Tamina stares Layla down before shoving her to the floor through the ropes. Outside, Tamina rams Layla into the barricade before throwing her back in the ring. Layla rolls her up for 2, but Tamina is back up and hits a clothesline for 2. Tamina applies a rear chinlock as Layla needlessly does the splits. Tamina hits some forearms to the chest for 2. Layla gets up and hits some kicks, and hits a horrible dropkick to the side. Roundhouse connects before Layla goes for the LOL (Lots of Layla. Yes, that is really the move, and yes, that’s what it really stands for. Ugh.), but Tamina catches her, throws her on her shoulders and hits a Samoan drop. Up top, Tamina connects with the Superfly Splash for 3.
WINNER: Tamina Snuka.
We find out that, on this past Wednesday night on Main Event, WWE Champion CM Punk was announced as being cleared to wrestle, which means he will defend his title this Monday night against Ryback in a TLC Match. Also on Monday night, The Rock makes his return to build to his match with Punk at the Royal Rumble. Yes, Punk will be retaining Monday night.
MATCH 5: World Champion The Big Show and WWE United States Champion Antonio Cesaro vs. Randy Orton and Sheamus
Funny that Show is the main champion of the show, but is the first one out. Cesaro and Sheamus start the match with a lock-up, with Cesaro turning it into a side headlock. Sheamus shoves him off, and Cesaro shoulders Sheamus down. Sheamus with a side headlock now, and he does the shoulder off the ropes this time. Orton tags in, and he hits a European uppercut and a slingshot suplex for 2. Orton punches Cesaro in the corner, but Cesaro turns things around and stomps Orton down. Orton comes back out of the opposite corner with a clothesline before tagging in Sheamus. Sheamus beats Cesaro down in the corner, but Cesaro elbows out off a corner charge, then hits a clothesline. Sheamus comes back with rights and a shoulderblock. Orton back in, and he hits some corner punches. European uppercut by Orton, and Sheamus tags back in. Cesaro blocks a suplex with some kneelifts before tagging in Show. Show headbutts Sheamus down, then fires off some body blows. He goes after Orton, but Orton jumps to the floor. Sheamus comes back with a boot to the gut and a kneelift, and the faces clothesline Show to the floor. Commercials.
We’re back, and Cesaro is now the legal man for his team. Sheamus back drops Cesaro to the floor out of the corner, but Cesaro lands on his feet on the apron. Sheamus forearms him before hitting the forearms across the chest. Suplex back in by Sheamus gets 2. Cesaro hits a jawbreaker, and Show makes the blind tag, hitting a spear on Sheamus. Show sends Sheamus hard into the corner, then stands on his chest. Show hits a bodyslam and a running elbow for 2 as Cesaro is barking orders from the apron. Back to the corner, Show fires off more body blows. Sheamus fires off some rights, backing Show into the opposite corner. Show reverses things and goes for a hip bump, but misses. Sheamus begins kicking him in the knee, but runs right into a chokeslam for 2. He calls for the WMD, but Sheamus ducks and lands the Brogue Kick. Cesaro and Orton tag in, and Orton hits the Four Moves of Boredom. Cesaro blocks #4, however, and back drops Orton to the floor. Orton lands on the apron, hot shots Cesaro, and as he’s coming back in, Sheamus tags himself back into the match. Sheamus hits two Irish Hammers, a shoulderblock in the corner and a running kneelift. White Noise connects as Orton is being pissy on the outside. Sheamus calls for the Brogue Kick, but Orton comes in and hits Cesaro with an RKO before rolling back to the floor. Sheamus gets the pin, but isn’t happy about it.
WINNERS: Randy Orton and Sheamus.
End of show.
Great IC title match tonight, nice continued push for Tamina, and it was good seeing Cesaro in the main event, who didn’t look out of place at all. Rumor has it WWE Creative is big on Cesaro and he will be a bona fide main eventer by the end of the year, so hopefully, this was a sign of things to come.
When you get past the annoying social media trends, infatuation with past stars, and inconsistent booking, WWE produced a number of classic PPV match-ups on the 2012 calendar. Choosing 20 was hard, ranking them was harder. Here is what I came up with for the creme de la creme, the best of the best for the year 2012.
20. World Heavyweight Championship/Elimination Chamber: Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Wade Barrett vs. Santino Marella vs. Great Khali (Elimination Chamber, February 19)
You wouldn’t think this one would make the classics list, and early on in the match, it didn’t seem to be a likely addition. What made this match special was the dramatic finishing sequence, in which comedy player Marella eliminated Rhodes and Barrett, and came within believable inches of upending Bryan for the title. Despite the crowd cheering him on, the Milan Miracle succumbed to the LeBell/Yes/No Lock, and Bryan retained.
19. WWE Intercontinental: The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio (Summerslam, August 19)
One of my favorite dynamics: Mysterio’s plucky air assault against a conniving villain who will bump along with the lucha icon. Really, Miz can be hit-or-miss, and Rey, even broken down, gets the best out of just those kinds of foes. A rapid-fire build to the end, including Miz busting out a Liger Bomb of all moves, ended shockingly cleanly, with Rey eating the turnbuckle after a crash-and-burn, and Miz spiking him with the Skull Crushing Finale.
18. WWE Championship/No Disqualification: CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan (Money in the Bank, July 15)
The only detraction from this one was something I never thought I’d criticize, and that’s too much AJ. Miss Lee was the special referee for this blowoff between two honorable rivals, and it was a chaotic 28-minute affair. When you combine MMA-inspired kicks and strikes with WWE Main Event Style weaponry, it can make for a suitably brutal affair. Bryan’s current run as a main eventer came to an end via Punk hitting a back superplex through a table.
17. Ladder Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena (TLC, December 16)
The final PPV match of 2012 hit on all the notes necessary for a satisfying main event: strong booking for both the winner and loser, exciting in-ring action, a hint of controversy, and as a bonus, acknowledgement of the ascension of a young star. Ziggler’s MITB briefcase was at stake against Cena, who had the match won until AJ (she gets around) knocked him off the ladder, allowing for a Ziggler superkick, and contract-retention for the Show Off.
16. Royal Rumble Match (Royal Rumble, January 29)
Some panned this match for being a tad cartoony, what with the commentators, Jim Duggan, and other non-regulars getting involved, but the silly fun was surrounded by some great action otherwise. Miz and Cody Rhodes had great showings during their respective long durations, Kofi Kingston hand-stood his way into our hearts, and Sheamus and Chris Jericho put together a great extended finish, ending with Jericho being Brogue Kicked into the abyss.
15. World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus vs. Big Show (Hell in a Cell, October 28)
Even though the Sheamus/Show feud was eventually dragged out like a dead kitten carcass across sun-baked pavement, it at least produced this fun match. In recent years, WWE’s produced a number of epic battles between big men, and this ranks among the best. It’s not often see two devastating moves (WMD Punch, Brogue Kick) kicked out of, but it set the stage for a thrilling finish, in which Show KO’ed Sheamus once and for all to win the gold.
14. WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler (Royal Rumble, January 29)
This one took relegation to the scrap heap quickly after it happened, and that was due to two reasons. For one, it failed to match the ‘instant classic’ that Punk and Ziggler had on Raw two months prior (Dolph’s “he’s arrived” match), and two, John Laurinaitis’ involvement overshadowed some of the proceedings. Ziggler’s GTS counter into a rocker dropper was sweet, much like the match itself, which Punk won after finally hitting his knee-on-face finish.
13. Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler (Night of Champions, September 16)
The elevation of Ziggler continued, even in defeat. After Orton cost Ziggler a chance to cash in Money in the Bank on Sheamus (before Cena committed the same act), the two were linked together for a non-championship-related match at a show that’s designed to feature all title matches. Minor quibble aside, Ziggler and Orton battled in a heated 20-minute war, with many near falls, and ending when Orton countered Dolph’s sleeper into an RKO.
12. WWE Championship/Chicago Street Fight: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho (Extreme Rules, April 29)
The blowoff to the insipid “Punk’s really a vicing degenerate with a messed up family” angle was this unfettered fight to the death in Punk’s hometown of Chicago. Both men even wore street clothes for the occasion, giving old school fans some bunkhouse brawl memories. Punk pulled out all the stops, including hitting the Leap of Faith elbow through Spanish announce table. Jericho nearly won with a chair-assisted Codebreaker, but Punk’s GTS would prevail.
11. WWE Championship/Elimination Chamber: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho vs. The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth (Elimination Chamber, February 19)
This one left many of us wondering just how Jericho and/or Punk would lose, and still set up WrestleMania without either man looking weak. After one of the better Chamber matches in recent years, complete with Jericho resurrecting the Lion Tamer on Kingston, Punk knocked Jericho out with a bump to the floor, eliminating him via TKO. Left with just Miz, Punk polished him off with the GTS, leaving Jericho to have an out leading into WrestleMania.
10. Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler (Summerslam, August 19)
Shaking off the disappointment of a pointless, troll-tastic return in January, an uninspired feud with Punk (the writing, not the matches), and the controversy in Brazil, Jericho was able to have one last classic before adjourning from WWE yet again. Opening an average Summerslam, Jericho and Ziggler ping-ponged and bumped for each other to get the party started. After Y2J shook off a ton of false finishes, he tapped Ziggler to his Wal-er, Lion Tamer.
9. Money in the Bank: Dolph Ziggler vs. Christian vs. Tensai vs. Santino Marella vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Tyson Kidd vs. Damien Sandow vs. Sin Cara (Money in the Bank, July 15)
The more discriminating fan was looking forward to this over, say, the Cena/Show/Kane MITB match, since a number of rising stars and internet favorites were involved. Kidd was the unsung hero, making his name on a series of crazy spots (i.e. the mid air twisting sunset powerbomb), while Ziggler continued his subtle suicide with his usual scary landings. Christian had the match won until Ziggler surged in, threw him off the ladder, and claimed the blue briefcase.
8. World Heavyweight Championship/2 Out Of 3 Falls: Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (Extreme Rules, April 29)
After infuriating many with the 18-second fiasco at WrestleMania, WWE provided a make-good 4 weeks later by booking Bryan in a role he’s seldom played in WWE: a calculating killer who targets an injury and exploits it. Sacrificing the first fall to a DQ, Bryan forced Sheamus to pass out in the Yes Lock to even it up. Bryan couldn’t get the job done, however, and ate a Brogue Kick in the final act. But at least WWE, to their credit, apologized for Mania in their own way.
7. Hell in a Cell: The Undertaker vs. Triple H (WrestleMania XXVIII, April 1)
Though many have heralded this as the hands-down match of the year, I feel there was too much stalling (understandably) to award it the title. It was well built, but just missing that “extra push over the cliff”, to quote Nigel Tufnel. As it was, I dug much of the drama, but felt the parts with Shawn Michaels weren’t needed. Undertaker turning back Hunter’s last-ditch sledgehammer attack before obliterating him made for a fitting culmination of the 20-0 mark.
6. The Rock vs. John Cena (WrestleMania XXVIII, April 1)
Once the pointless concert beforehand came to a merciful end (which included some pretentious purple-haired diva-something or other), Rock and Cena engaged in the big money match, which was equal parts Austin-Rock and Warrior-Hogan. With a more markish crowd, it may have been even more epic, but as it was, it was a great heavyweight battle that will likely lead to a sequel this year. As for round one, The Great One drew first blood.
5. WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XXVIII, April 1)
After John Laurinaitis affixed a stipulation minutes beforehand, decreeing that Punk could lose the gold via DQ, one’s spidey sense smelled screwjob. Instead, it was a red herring meant to mislead the audience, and hope that Punk wouldn’t get gutted by injustice. An intense battle that slowly worked into third gear, Jericho’s head games only intensified Punk’s resolve, as he finished the former “Best in the World” with an unrelenting Anaconda Vice.
4. WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. John Cena (Night of Champions, September 16)
Kinda sad that this was Punk’s first “main event” of the 2012 calendar year, and he’d been champion the entire time. This made up for months of Cena navel-gazing, as the two picked up where they left off the previous summer at Money in the Bank and Summerslam, displaying their remarkable chemistry in a seesaw battle. The double-pin finish would have meant more with a one-on-one rematch, but you know WWE will revisit this soon enough.
3. Tables, Ladders, and Chairs: The Shield vs. Kane/Daniel Bryan/Ryback (TLC, December 16)
You wouldn’t think there’d be a lot of positives to come out of Punk tearing his meniscus, but a dangerous spotfest that gave instantly credibility to three newcomers would be one. The Shield has looked strong since their Survivor Series debut, and they were able to notch a huge win over 3 pushed and established players, in a match everyone was talking about for days. Seth Rollins in particular was made after nearly dying via table bump near the entrance way.
2. Extreme Rules: John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar (Extreme Rules, April 29)
With Lesnar’s return the night after WrestleMania came high expectations for the universally-renowned UFC icon. He immediately entered a feud with Cena, and their fight vignettes hyping their forthcoming brawl were great selling points. The match wasn’t even a match, it was a straight-up fight with lots of blood. After Cena took a hellacious beating for the duration of the contest, he used his chain, and an AA on the ring steps, to win, much to the surprise of many.
1. WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan (Over the Limit, May 20)
The two indy darling got to bring their blend of pure wrestling and stiff-shot-laden brawling to the big stage, for the game’s richest prize. Bryan and Punk painted a masterpiece for over 20 minutes, with both men expectedly fighting for the advantage. Bryan worked the arm in a manner similar to Bob Backlund, and ultimately hooked the Yes Lock for a sure win. Punk bridged back into a pinning combo and tapped just after the ref counted 3 on his pin.
This week’s WWE SmackDown! is the final episode of the year, and something tells me it will be mostly a throw-away show, if it’s anything like the Christmas Eve episode of RAW this past Monday.
We kick things off with Sheamus making his way out. First off, Sheamus hopes everyone had a merry Christmas. He had a great time. It’s a special time of year for him. He drank gallons of eggnog-flavored ale. He got a bunch of ugly sweaters and ties, and of course, he got a year’s supply of sunscreen from his ma. The greatest present, though, was when he defeated The Big Show in the Lumberjack Frost Match on Monday. He’s going to make a new year’s resolution right now, and that is to become the new World Champion. The new year is too far away, though, and the old saying goes there’s no time like the present. Show, he’s calling you out, fella, for tonight, in a match for the World Champion. If you thought the beating on Monday was bad, fella, wait until you see what he does to you in the ring tonight. Show heads down to the ring and has a question for Sheamus: does he look like Santa Claus? “Yes!” chants from the crowd on this note. Sheamus agrees, but says Show is way fatter. Show calls that remark cute and tells Sheamus to go into stand-up, and his likelihood of being successful at that is about the same as getting another shot at the title. Sheamus must have a pathetic case of denial. Show has beaten him twice when it counted. As for RAW, Show was in Christmas Vacation mode. The title wasn’t on the line, so that victory didn’t count. Sheamus always comes up short when it counts, and he can’t tell Show when he’ll defend his title again, or against who. Sheamus calls him a coward, and even though the title wasn’t on the line on Monday, his pride was. Show says he’s not afraid of anything. Sheamus says he came here to fight for the title tonight, and if he can’t get the title, he’s still gonna get a fight.
General Manager Booker T comes out and tells Sheamus that Show is right. Show beat him at TLC, however, Sheamus also beat Show on Monday night. Show knows where this is going, and he’s not having any part of it. He’s done with Sheamus, and Sheamus isn’t worthy of another title match. There isn’t one single athlete on Smackdown! who is worthy of a title match. Whenever he walks through that locker room, it reeks of inferiority. Book is sorry Show feels that way, but he will be in action tonight. He’s been working on this match all week. Book is going to bring out every WWE superstar that’s here tonight, and he’s going to put everyone’s name in a tumbler, including Sheamus. Whoever’s name is chosen will face Show tonight for the World title. Teddy Long and Eve Torres lead all of the superstars out onto the stage. Show calls this whole thing ridiculous. It’s not a lottery to see who gets a shot at the title; it’s a lottery to see who gets knocked out. Book says we’re going to find out the winner right now. Teddy and Eve fight over who is going to draw the name, and Eve knocks the tumbler off the table. Book decides he’ll draw the name himself, and the winner is…Santino Marella. Show immediately starts laughing, while Santino celebrates his opportunity. Show walks up the ramp and gets in Santino’s face, then laughs some more before heading to the back.
MATCH 1: Primo (w/Epico and Rosa Mendes) vs. Brodus Clay (w/The Funkadactyls-Cameron and Naomi)
Primo immediately attacks the right leg of Clay. Clay comes back with strikes, then hits a front powerslam. He drops Primo with the headbutt, and hits Aw, Funk It for the 3.
WINNER: Brodus Clay. Rosa gets in Clay’s face after the match, so the Funkadactyls hit her with a double suplex and double suicide. Some kids from the audience join in on the dancing afterwards.
Sheamus and Santino are in the locker room, and Sheamus is trying to help Santino with tonight’s match. Santino calls Sheamus the master and tells him to paint a masterpiece on him. Sheamus talks about the Brogue Kick, and Santino wants to learn it. With the Cobra and the Brogue Kick, it’s guaranteed Sheamus will never be champion again. Sheamus shows him how to do it, and Santino ends up injuring his hamstring.
MATCH 2: Wade Barrett and The Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow) vs. Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston and WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No! (Daniel Bryan and Kane)
Bryan and Rhodes start the match. Bryan applies a hammerlock, and Rhodes breaks free. Bryan hits him with a kick to the chest, followed by a slingshot into Kane’s boot. Apparently Kane tagged in, and he gets 1. He misses a clothesline in the corner, and Rhodes tags in Sandow. Sandow with punches and kicks, but he gets sent into the corner and hit with a sidewalk slam for 2. Kofi tags in, and he hits a double axe handle to the arm from the top. Sandow drops Kofi before tagging Rhodes in, and he gets a shot in before tagging in Barrett. Kofi counters a bodyslam with a side headlock. Barrett shoves him off and hits a shoulderblock, and the crisscross ends with a spinning back elbow from Kofi. Kofi hits a dropkick for 2. He applies a front chancery, but Barrett shoves him off. Kofi ducks a clothesline and goes for TIP, but Barrett sees it coming and backs off. We get a stand-off between the two teams as we go to commercials.
Video package for Wade Barrett.
We’re back, and the Rhodes Scholars hit a wishbone on Bryan. Sandow is legal, and he hits a side-Russian legsweep, followed by the Cubito Auquet for 2. Barrett back in, and he traps Bryan in the ropes for some kneelifts. Barrett sends Bryan to the apron with a running boot, then pulls him back in for 2. Barrett applies a camel clutch, and Bryan fights out with elbows. Barrett rebounds and sends Bryan hard into the corner. Rhodes in, and he stomps Bryan down. Snapmare by Rhodes, and he turns it into a rear chinlock, combined with an armbar. Bryan punches out of the hold and manages to hot shot Rhodes into the turnbuckles. Barrett and Kofi tag in, and Kofi immediately hits a springboard clothesline. He ducks a boot and takes Barrett down with some punches. Barrett sends Kofi into the buckles, but Kofi dodges the charge and hits the Pendulum. Pumping cross-body from the top gets 2 until the Scholars break it up. Kane takes them both to the floor, where they rebound and ram Kane into the barricade. Bryan quickly joins the fight and takes Sandow down, but turns around into the Beautiful Disaster from the apron by Rhodes. In the ring, Kofi counters the Bullhammer with a roll-up, but breaks it when he sees Rhodes coming in. He blasts Rhodes with Trouble in Paradise, but immediately gets nailed with the Bullhammer for 3.
WINNERS: Wade Barrett and the Rhodes Scholars.
We are informed that Santino will not be able to compete tonight due to a pulled hamstring. This segues into Booker T and Big Show in Book’s office. Show thinks he has the night off now that Santino is injured, but Book isn’t having that. He promised a title match tonight, and there will be one. He says they’re going to spin the tumbler again, and select a new name for the title match. Teddy Long pushes the tumbler in, and Show & Book continue to argue. Moments later, Teddy brings Ricardo Rodriguez in, and Book says this is his new challenger. Show laughs at him, puts the belt on Ricardo’s shoulder and begins berating him. He asks Ricardo to announce himself as champion. Ricardo starts to do the announcement, but Show knocks him out with the WMD. Guess Ricardo’s out for the evening, too.
MATCH 3: Zack Ryder vs. WWE United States Champion Antonio Cesaro (non-title)
Lock-up to start the match, and Cesaro backs Ryder into the corner. Cesaro hits a suplex for 1 before applying a rear chinlock. Ryder fights out, but Cesaro drops him with a gut shot before stomping him down. Cesaro hits the deadlift gutwrench suplex for 2. He fires off some gut shots in the corner, but Ryder comes back with rights. Cesaro quickly drops him and hits a double stomp for 2. Cesaro applies a waistlock, trying to wear Ryder down. Ryder breaks free and hits a facebuster. Middle rope dropkick connects, and Ryder follows up with the forearm shot in the corner and the Broski Boot. He misses the boot, however, and Cesaro blasts him with a European uppercut to the back of the head. Neutralizer connects and gets the 3.
WINNER: Antonio Cesaro.
MATCH 4: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Big E. Langston and AJ Lee)
Miz starts with a side headlock and follows up with a hip throw. Miz shoulders Ziggler off the ropes, then hits another hip throw. Armdrag and another hip throw. Ziggler counters with a top wristlock before punching Miz down. Ziggler applies a side headlock, then shoulders Miz down off the ropes. Crisscross ends in a flapjack by Miz. Miz sends Ziggler over the top rope, but he’s caught by Langston. Back in the ring, Ziggler boots Miz in the gut, then hits a snapmare and jumping elbow for 2. Rear chinlock is applied, and he turns it into a modified abdominal stretch. Miz snaps Ziggler off, takes him down and fires off some punches. Up top, Miz goes for an axe handle, but Ziggler meets him with a dropkick. Commercials.
Back from the break, Ziggler gets 2. He goes back to the rear chinlock, and Miz elbows out. Ziggler cuts him off, but Miz quickly hits a back suplex. They trade shots until Miz drops Ziggler in mid-air off a lift. Reality Check connects, getting 2. Ziggler goes for the sleeper, but Miz fights him off and hits the snap DDT for 2. Ziggler ducks a running boot and rolls Miz up for 2. Miz sends Ziggler into the corner and connects with the hanging clothesline. Up top, Miz connects with a double axe handle. He blows a kiss at AJ and signals for the SKF, but AJ immediately sends Langston into the ring. Langston gets in Miz’s face from the steps, and Ziggler quickly hits the Zig Zag for the 3.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler. After the match, Miz tells AJ that, no matter which superstar she’s with on New Year’s Eve, they all know that night will end with a bang. Happy new year, sweetheart. Ziggler charges back to the ring, where Miz pops up and nails him with a microphone. Miz manages to knock Ziggler down to the floor, and Langston hits the ring, drops Miz with a standing avalanche with what I guess is now called Sudden Impact. Better name than the Big Ending, but the move itself still sucks.
We see a doctor checking on Ricardo Rodriguez. The doctor says he’ll be okay, but can’t compete. Booker T is trying to get some answers until Brad Maddox enters the room. He asks for one more shot, but Book isn’t listening. Maddox still bothers him, so Book agrees to it, saying this is his last chance. His match is up next, so he needs to get out of here. Alberto Del Rio enters the room to check on Ricardo, then tells Book that the moment he sees Big Show, he’ll look like a giant piñata, and ADR will open him up. Book has a better idea: ADR vs. Show for the title tonight. ADR likes that idea, then tells Ricardo the match is for him.
Brad Maddox makes his way out and says his new year’s resolution is to become a certified WWE superstar. He has never broken a resolution. He also has a resolution for everyone: always remember the name Brad Maddox. Trust him, after tonight, that will be as easy as it gets. Happy new year.
MATCH 5: Brad Maddox vs. Sheamus Maddox goes to step outside the ring after the bell rings, but Sheamus talks him back in. Maddox applies a side headlock, so Sheamus shoves him off and drops him with a shoulderblock. He goes for a waistlock, so Sheamus easily throws him off. Maddox goes for an arm wringer, and Sheamus reverses before hitting a hip throw. Maddox gets a rope break and shoves Sheamus. Sheamus chases him out of the ring, and Maddox suckers him back in, stomping him down upon entry. Maddox fires off some rights, but can’t do a corner whip. Sheamus pulls him into the corner and beats him down. Maddox tries to climb out, and gets caught in the ropes by Sheamus, where he gets nailed with some forearms to the chest. Sheamus connects with White Noise, then runs through him with a Brogue Kick for the easy 3.
MATCH 6: The Usos (Jey and Jimmy) vs. The Prime-Time Players (Titus O’Neil and Darren Young)
Jimmy and Young start the match, and Young quickly takes Jimmy down with a single-leg. Jimmy boots him off, but Young shoulders him down. Crisscross sequence, and Jimmy nails an uppercut. Jey tags in, and they hit a double back elbow and double elbow drop for 2. Young pushes Jey off as Titus makes a blind tag, and he knees Jey in the back. Titus stomps Jey down, then hits a short-arm clothesline. Young back in, and he accidentally boots Titus off a whip. Jey misses a kick and Young hits the Forever Young for 2 as Jimmy breaks up the pin. Titus beats Jimmy down in the corner, and as the referee is pulling Titus back to his corner, the Usos switch places, and Jimmy rolls Young up in an inside cradle for 3.
WINNER: The Usos.
We get a video package for The Shield. They say that 2012 will go down in history for the scar they left, and their just getting started. They warned everyone. They didn’t just talk about injustice; no, they rectified it. For them, the mission remains the same. 2013 will be the year The Shield cleanses the disease of injustice from WWE. They have no friends or allies, they answer to no one. In 2013, justice lives. Believe in The Shield.
Matt Striker is with Big Show, wanting comments on ADR tonight. Show calls this match ridiculous. He’s had two opponents tonight. One got injured, and one got knocked out. He said everyone in WWE was either a loser, a reject, a wannabe or a nobody, and that includes ADR as well. If he wants to get knocked out tonight, fine. Show will consider it a trifecta.
MATCH 7-World Championship: The Big Show (champion) vs. Alberto Del Rio
ADR actually gets a pretty sizeable pop here. I wonder if they’re really going to go forward with a face turn for him, as the plan is rumored to be. ADR immediately goes on the attack with punches and kicks. Show responds with a headbutt and goes for a chop in the corner, but ADR turns things around and fires off more punches. Show blocks a kick and drops him with a chop. Forearm to the back by Show, followed by a hip throw. ADR counters with a headscissors, then gets back to his feet for more kicks and punches. Show clubs him down again, then chops him across the chest before knocking him to the floor. Show follows and sends ADR into the steps. Back in the ring, Show applies a shoulder claw. ADR fights out, but runs right into a shoulderblock. Show walks across ADR’s stomach, then hits a bodyslam. ADR dodges an elbow off the ropes, then hits a series of running boots. He hits a mule kick to the head for 2 before attacking Show’s left arm. He calls for the rolling jujigatame, but can’t turn Show over. Show shoves him off through the ropes and to the floor. Show slides to the floor and begins walking up the ramp, apparently wanting a count-out. Sheamus attacks Show from behind, causing the DQ.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: The Big Show. He and Sheamus continue to brawl, and Show boots him down before trying to leave again. He is stopped by the rest of the locker room, and they all begin attacking him before rolling him into the ring where ADR hits him with a step-up enziguri in the corner, and Sheamus levels him with a Brogue Kick.
Tonight is a special live episode of SmackDown! and…it’s commercial-free. Wonderful.
We’re starting off the episode with another installment of MizTV. Miz might be the worst face in history. His guests shocked the world at TLC, doing more damage than Lindsay Lohan and a moving vehicle. They will explain their actions right now. Please welcome “Mr. MITB” Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee. Ziggler and AJ head out, and they are accompanied by WWE’s newest signee, Big E. Langston. While Langston doesn’t impress me thus far, at least he’s in the role of a bodyguard, which doesn’t require much at this point. Also, I’m glad WWE made the right decision and kept the briefcase with Ziggler. Miz has one question: Why? AJ asks, “Really? Really?”
Instead of asking her why, why not ask John Cena why he toyed with her heart. If he has an answer to that, this would all make more sense. She lost her job as GM because she wanted to keep Cena’s good name cleaned. She thought it was all worth it when they made out a month ago on RAW. She thought it brought them closer together, and they would create something beautiful, but she was wrong. Cena was just playing with her emotions. She even made him some gifts. We see more footage from this storyline. Cut back to AJ, and she’s crying about the bows she made for him that he thought Vickie Guerrero planted.
Cena doesn’t care about anyone but himself, but she cared about him, and she wanted to support him, and he blew her off (more footage, this time from last week). Supposedly, Cena was concerned about her safety, but he really wanted to keep her hidden, like a dirty little secret. Cena was supposed to be different than other guys like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. She loved both of them, and they used her before throwing her away like trash. Cena was supposed to be better than that. John Cena broke her heart, and so she helped Dolph Ziggler break John Cena. Miz calls her “America’s sweetheart” before reminding her Ziggler called her trash several weeks ago, and he’s now aboard the crazy train.
Langston steps in front of Ziggler, so Miz changes his question from “Why?” to “Who?”. AJ officially introduces Langston. He’s a friend of hers, and he doesn’t like it when people call her crazy. Ziggler steps in and mockingly calls Miz hilarious before calling him clueless. AJ isn’t crazy; she’s passionate, and he learned that last night when Langston came into the ring and crushed Cena. He also learned it earlier in the night when she gave him the hottest kiss in the near 20-year history of RAW. Cena can win the Slammy for “Superstar of the Year”; Ziggler doesn’t need Slammys. At TLC, not only did he keep the briefcase, when it comes to Cena, it’s just like Ziggler’s t-shirt says: he stole the show…and his girlfriend. Miz hopes Ziggler can satisfy all her personalities. They deserve each other, and man, can Ziggler pick women. AJ’s been with a monster, a goat face, a gimp, Marky Mark, and now she’s settled for the 6th member of One Direction. On this note, Langston drops Miz with a standing avalanche. He then picks up Miz and hits him with the Big Ending (yes, that’s the move’s actual name). AJ tells Miz, “Show…Off”, and the trio exit the ring.
Booker T gets stopped in the back by Teddy Long. Long has a kid he wants Book to look at and possibly give an opportunity. Book asks who it is, and Brad Maddox walks up, introducing himself. Book pulls Teddy aside and says that’s the kid that screwed Ryback. Teddy says he saw what happened at the Slammys. Book calls him creepy, so Long brings up his YouTube show. Book doesn’t trust Maddox. Teddy thinks Maddox has talent and is hungry, looking for a contract. Book, of all people, should know that people deserves opportunities. Book says that, if Maddox wants a match tonight, he’s got it. Since he’s Teddy’s project, Maddox will find out his opponent when he’s in the ring tonight. Book leaves, so Teddy turns back to Maddox, and Maddox thanks him for the opportunity.
MATCH 1: Damien Sandow (w/Cody Rhodes) vs. Sin Cara (w/Rey Mysterio)
Mysterio gets his own music, but does not show up, leaving Cara and the announcers confused. Cara goes for a quick armbar, but Sandow shoves him off. Cara ducks a clothesline and hits some kicks. Cara misses a backflip, but lands on his feet as Sandow slides to the floor. Back in, Sandow boots Cara, but Cara comes back with some strikes. He hits a springboard dropkick and hits a corner kick out of a Flair Flip. He goes for a springboard, but Rhodes pulls him to the floor behind the ref’s back. Back in, Sandow gets 2. Sandow drops some elbows to the chest, and a suplex gets 2. Rear chinlock is applied, and he breaks it to hit the side-Russian legsweep. The Cubito Aequet misses, and Cara gets in a sunset flip for 2. Sandow pops up and knocks Cara back down, then drops some elbows. He drags Cara to the floor, where he drops an elbow across the apron. Back in the ring, Sandow drops another elbow for 2 before going back to the rear chinlock. Cara counters with a jawbreaker, breaking the hold. Sandow misses an avalanche, and Cara fires off some kicks, followed by a handspring back elbow. Running hurricanrana connects, and a springboard cross-body gets 2. Sandow rolls to the floor, where Rhodes meets him. Cara takes them both out with a suicide dive. Cara is in the ring celebrating when he spots all three members of The Shield heading down to the ring. Roman Reigns pulls a Rey Mysterio mask out of his pocket and tosses it in the ring and the three just stand there. Sandow quickly comes back in and hits the Terminus for the 3.
WINNER: Damien Sandow. After the match, The Shield hits the ring, and they triple team Cara. Reigns hits a big headbutt, and Seth Rollins comes off the top with a Bomb’s Away kneedrop across Cara’s right knee. As Cara is being attended to, The Shield leave back through the crowd.
MATCH 2: Santino Marella vs. Tensai
It’s amazing how truly disappointing Tensai has been since returning. Santino gets shouldered down quickly, and Tensai follows up with stomps. Santino starts power-walking across the ring off an Irish whip, then ducks a clothesline before going for a bodyslam. Tensai is too big, and he clubs Santino down. Tensai drops an elbow across the back, then throws him to the corner. Tensai hits some back chops to the side of the neck before screaming at Santino that he’s nothing. Santino comes back with a single-leg dropkick, but Tensai drops him with a throat thrust. Santino pops back up and hits some rights before doing the splits and going for the hip toss. Tensai blocks it, but Santino manages to duck a clothesline and hit a bodyslam. Saluting headbutt connects, and Santino calls for the Cobra. Tensai blocks it and applies a sleeper, but Santino keeps trying to hit the Cobra from this position. Tensai shoves him into the corner and goes for an avalanche, and Santino sidesteps him before nailing the Cobra. Tensai no-sells it and drops Santino with an uppercut. Tensai misses the running senton, and Santino covers him for the 3-count.
WINNER: Santino Marella.
We see Kofi Kingston and Team Hell No! watching a clip from last night. Kane tells Kofi to grow eyes in the back of his head tonight, because they all know The Shield is here, and what the group is capable of. Kofi says he feels what Kane is saying. He then tells Kane he wants payback on Wade Barrett in their match tonight. Bryan is looking angry, so Kofi asks him what’s wrong. Bryan is mad because he didn’t win a Slammy last night, unlike Kofi. Kane tells Bryan to let it go. He still got to hang out with Ric Flair. Bryan gets mad because Kofi says Flair has a better catchphrase than Bryan. Bryan begins screaming, “No!” at Kofi
MATCH 3: Wade Barrett and The Prime-Time Players (Titus O’Neil and Darren Young) vs. Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston and WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No! (Daniel Bryan and Kane)
Kofi and Titus start the match. Kofi ducks a clothesline and baseball slides to the floor in order to tackle Barrett who was standing near the announce desk. Titus pulls Kofi off by the hair and whips him to the floor. Back in, Young tags in, and Kofi hits a dropkick. Kofi makes the tag to Bryan, and Bryan fires off some No! Kicks. Bryan applies a surfboard stretch, and Kane tags in mid-hold. Kane clubs Young for 2. Kane stomps Young in the corner before tagging in Bryan. Kane sends Bryan into the corner with a running dropkick for 2. Bryan stomps Young down before firing off some more kicks. Young catches Bryan on a charge and hits him with a Stung Gun before tagging in Barrett, who stomps Bryan down. More strikes in the corner, and Barrett closes with a running boot for 2. Rear chinlock is applied, but Bryan fights out. Barrett clubs him and goes for a back suplex, but Bryan flips out and tags in Kofi. Kofi hits the springboard clothesline, followed by a chop, another chop and a dropkick. Kofi hits a jumping clothesline before connecting with the Boom Drop.
He calls for TIP, but Young causes a distraction, and Barrett takes the opportunity to clothesline Kofi to the floor. Titus whips Kofi into the barricade before throwing him back in the ring. Titus has apparently tagged in, and he goes for the cover, but is too close to the ropes. Titus applies a modified abdominal stretch, and the camera weirdly cuts away to the crowd, supposedly looking for The Shield. Young tags in and stomps Kofi in the midsection. Nice back suplex by Young gets 2. He applies a rear chinlock, but Kofi fights out. Young rebounds and whips him into the corner. Young applies a cravat, but Kofi breaks it. Young trips him before he can make a tag, and Barrett tags back in, hitting some hard rights. Short-arm clothesline by Barrett gets 2. Young back in and clubs Kofi down. Young props Kofi on the top, but Kofi punches him off and hits a leaping tornado DDT. Kane and Titus tag in, and Kane does the hot tag offense. Kane hits a corner clothesline and a sidewalk slam for 2. Up top for the flying clothesline, but Titus ducks and hits Clash of the Titus for 2. Bryan breaks up the pin, so Barrett launches him to the floor. Kofi springboards off the top, but Barrett ducks the clothesline and hits a mule kick before sending Kofi shoulder-first into the post. Kane drops Barrett with an uppercut, sending him to the floor. Titus floors Kane with a forearm and Young tags in. They go for a double shoulderblock, but Bryan manages to pull Titus to the floor. Young gets hit with the chokeslam by Kane, and this one’s over.
WINNERS: Kofi Kingston and Team Hell No!
Sheamus is in the back with John Cena, telling him a joke about priests. Cena doesn’t get the joke, but they need to focus on tonight. He calls Big E. Langston quite possibly the strongest guy in WWE. Sheamus likes that, because it’s his kind of fight. He asks Cena what’s going on with him and AJ. Cena whispers something to Sheamus, and Sheamus get a confused look on his face. Cena whispers some more, and Sheamus starts laughing. When Cena finishes the secret, he tells Sheamus he’s joking.
WWE Champion CM Punk and Paul Heyman head out to the ring. Punk is still on crutches from his surgery, and we are informed this is Punk’s 394th day as champion. Punk reminds us of this achievement, the longest WWE Championship reign in the modern era. While in 20 years, everyone will look fondly at CM Punk as the greatest superstar of all time, the idiots in the WWE Universe couldn’t vote him “Superstar of the Year”. They shamelessly turned the Slammys into a popularity contest by voting for John Cena. It’s clear to him that winning and losing don’t mean anything to the fans. These fans enroll their kids in the teeball that doesn’t keep score so the kids don’t realize they’re losers like their parents. The only thing the fans did with their vote last night is that both men and women shouldn’t be allowed to vote. He expects that sort of behavior from losers, and that’s the way of the world. There are winners like himself and Heyman, and losers like everyone else. Honestly, he expected it more from Cena. You can read his face like a book. He knows he’s not the superstar of the year and Punk is the better man, with the trophy belonging in the hand of the best in the world. What does he do? He doesn’t show respect, because he’s a hypocrite. He laid down and sucked up to a man who he looks at as a legend, and gave Punk’s Slammy to Ric Flair.
He wants the fan to respect the relics from the past who take the spotlight when they can from the wrong lions, from the ring generals, from the best in the world. He wants us to cheer these guys that come back to pay their alimony and child support. You know what’s more impressive than winning 16 world titles in a 95-year career? Winning a title once and not losing it in damn near 400 days. CM Punk is a winner, Ric Flair is a loser. Flair has lost more title fights than he’s won. Punk, when it comes to title fights, DOES NOT LOSE. Not to John Cena, not to the knuckle-draggin Ryback, who hurt him in the first place. Punk is a real man. He is the gold standard, and he’s set the bar so high he doesn’t think anyone else will reach. Anyone else, two weeks after having their knee torn apart by a Neanderthal, wouldn’t be here. They’d be at home, popping their pain pills and sucking their thumbs. No, he drug himself to this forgotten hellhole (Pittsburgh) to entertain us and do his job. No one else here can do it, since the women they call the Pittsburgh Penguins are on strike. CM Punk doesn’t go on strike. CM Punk doesn’t have an off-season. He has been carrying this company on his back. He is the man you tune into see every Monday and Tuesday, and he is the man people paid to see tonight. He’ll be back next year, and Heyman will still be holding the title over his head. No one will beat him for it. Not John Cena, not Ryback, not Ric Flair, not The Smoke, not “Ice Cold” Billy Austin (that’s just for you, Mr. Gargiulo).
Ryback’s music hits to interrupt Punk’s rant, and he marches to the ring. Heyman reminds Ryback that Punk isn’t medically cleared to compete. Ryback says that, according to doctors, he will be. Punk doesn’t know what Ryback is talking about. Ryback has his sights set on the first RAW of 2013, when he becomes WWE Champion. Catchphrase.
MATCH 4: Ryback vs. WWE United States Champion Antonio Cesaro (non-title)
Cesaro’s new ring jacket is sweet. I’m not joking. Cesaro starts with a headlock, but Ryback breaks free and shoulders him through the ropes, to the floor. Cesaro gets up on the apron, shoulders Ryback and goes for a slingshot sunset flip. He can’t pull Ryback over, however, and Ryback grabs him by the ears and repeatedly slams his head into the mat, calling him “stupid”. Cesaro kicks him in the knee, and hits a European uppercut. Ryback comes back with a Thesz Press and a jumping splash. He calls for the Meat Hook, but Cesaro rolls to the floor. Ryback follows him out and presses him, but Cesaro slides out and shoves Ryback into the steps. Ryback makes it back into the ring by 9, so Cesaro goes for the pin, getting 1. Cesaro locks in a cobra clutch variation, but Ryback throws him off. He misses a shoulderblock in the corner, and Cesaro hits a spinning European uppercut from the middle rope for 2. Cesaro goes for another cover for another 2. He locks in a cravat, but Ryback punches out. He no-sells a kick, so Cesaro unloads on him with punches and uppercuts. Ryback rebounds off a corner whip with a standing avalanche, then hits a high back body drop. He calls for the Meat Hook again, and it connects. Cesaro is hit with Shell Shocked, and Ryback gets the 3.
WINNER: Ryback. Both guys looked good here. Mark my words, Cesaro will be a major player in the next year.
We see Kaitlyn walking around in the back. AJ approaches her and wishes her good luck. Kaitlyn gives her a dirty look and keeps walking, so AJ stops her and asks her about the look. Kaitlyn says AJ does this over and over again, and it makes it hard to be her friend. AJ starts to laugh-cry, then immediately turns it off and stares angrily at Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn says she has a title match, and AJ needs help. AJ accuses her of choosing a title match over her friend. Kaitlyn says no, she’s choosing a title match over the lunatic standing next to her. AJ decks her and rams her head into a 7-Up machine. Kaitlyn slams her on a table, and a catfight ensues for a brief moment before officials break it up as AJ is screaming.
MATCH 5-WWE Divas Championship: Eve Torres (Champion) vs. Kaitlyn
Lilian Garcia mispronounced both “Denver” and “Colorado”. How do you do that? The words are sound exactly as their spellings would indicate. Eve clotheslines Kaitlyn and slams her head into the mat repeatedly. Eve does her stupid crane kick, then actually botches a basic clothesline for 2. Eve steps on her face, then botches the holy hell out of the flipping senton for 2. Eve boots Kaitlyn to the floor, then slams her face into the apron before rolling her back into the ring for 2. Eve applies a rear chinlock, then turns it into a cross-face chicken wing. Of course, it’s not applied very well. Kaitlyn punches her way out, but runs into a complete shot for 2. Eve goes back to the hold, but Kaitlyn manages to roll her off. Kaitlyn gets Eve in a small package for 2, and Eve whips her into the corner. Kaitlyn blocks a charge with a boot, and gets a sunset flip in from the middle rope for 2. Kaitlyn hits a bodyslam, then a shoulderblock off the ropes for 2. She hits an inverted DDT for another 2. Kaitlyn goes for the gutbuster, but Eve grabs the ropes and pulls herself to the apron. Kaitlyn dropkicks her feet from underneath her, sending Eve to the floor. Kaitlyn follows outside, hitting a Thesz Press from the apron. She slams Eve’s head into the announce desk and rolls her back in the ring. Kaitlyn goes up top, but Eve grabs the ref’s leg and trips him, resulting in a DQ.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: Kaitlyn, meaning Eve keeps the title. Not sure why Eve retained here. Does anyone give a cat’s ass about her anymore?
AJ is in the back with Ziggler and Langston, upset about Kaitlyn. Ziggler says Kaitlyn is just jealous, because AJ is with a future World Champion. Big Show walks up and says his future will be in a body cast if he repeats tonight what he did last night. Ziggler tries to smooth things over by talking about their tag match later tonight, but Show tells him to cut the crap. He knows Ziggler doesn’t trust him, and he doesn’t trust Ziggler. But, trust Show-if he gets the slightest inkling Ziggler is trying to cash in tonight, Show will knock him so far into the future, by the time he wakes up, his championship contract will have expired.
Brad Maddox makes his way onto the stage, repeatedly chanting his own name. No one in this arena or watching at home will ever forget the name Brad Maddox after tonight, because he is going to win his match and claim his contract, becoming a WWE superstar in the process.
MATCH 6-If Brad Maddox wins, he gets a WWE contract: Brad Maddox vs. Brodus Clay (w/The Funkadactyls: Cameron and Naomi)
Much like Tensai, what has become of Clay’s career is truly disappointing. Maddox tries a cheapshot, so Clay just laughs and bodyslams him. He traps Maddox by the arms and begins headbutting him in the back, then hits a modified exploder suplex. Clay drops an elbow, and we see Booker T & Teddy Long watching from Book’s office. Maddox rolls to the apron, where he hotshots Clay across the middle rope. Back in, Maddox goes for a pin, getting 1. He applies a rear chinlock, then drops some elbows. Clay pops right back up and clotheslines him. Avalanche by Clay, followed by an exploder suplex. He hits a charging headbutt to the chest, and Ah, Funk It! is enough to get the 3.
WINNER: Brodus Clay. As Clay begins to celebrate, the members of The Shield attack him from behind. They beat him down before hitting him with the triple powerbomb. Reigns is a friggin’ beast.
MATCH 7: Dolph Ziggler and World Champion The Big Show (w/AJ Lee and Big E. Langston) vs. Sheamus and John Cena
We see footage from Langston’s debut this past Monday night, and man, does his finisher suck. Cena and Ziggler start the match, and Cena knocks Ziggler down with a punch. Ziggler immediately tags in Show, and Cena attacks him before he steps all the way into the ring. Show knocks him down with a shove, then props him in the corner for an open-hand chop. Cena ducks and hits a dropkick, sending Show into the corner. Show quickly rebounds, dropping Cena with a spear. Show hits a body blow before stepping across his stomach. Cena gets up, and Show drops him with a headbutt. Ziggler tags in and hits some elbow drops before landing the Show-Off Elbow for 2. Neckbreaker connects, and now Ziggler has a rear chinlock applied. Cena fights out and hits a back body drop off the ropes. Show tags in and drops an elbow on Cena before he can make the tag. Show whips Cena into the corner before hitting a hip bump, knocking him down. Ziggler back in, and he misses a corner dive. Sheamus tags in, and he rams Ziggler into the corner with a shoulder thrust before connecting with a knee lift, sending Ziggler to the apron, where Sheamus ties him up for the forearm shots. Sheamus connects with 10 shots before going for the rolling fireman’s carry. He drops Ziggler in order to forearm Show, who was beginning to enter the ring. He knocks Show to the floor, and turns back to Ziggler to apply the Irish Clover Leaf. Ziggler kicks him off, through the ropes and to the floor. Show clubs Sheamus from behind. Ziggler tags Show, who drops to the floor in order to roll Sheamus back in the ring. Show hits an open-hand chop to the chest, then fires off some body blows in the corner.
Sheamus tries to fight back, but Show clubs him across the back, dropping him. He tries to fight back from his knees, so Show knees him in the head and walks across his stomach. Show applies a trapezius claw, but Sheamus gets up and fires off some rights. Show takes him down quickly, and Ziggler tags in for a 1-count. Ziggler hits some strikes in the corner, and now they trade rights until Ziggler kicks him in the knee and hits the rocker dropper for 2. Show tags back in, connecting with another body blow. Nightmare on Helms Street for 2. Show goes for the chokeslam, and Sheamus counters into a DDT. Ziggler and Cena both tag in, and Cena begins hitting the Five Moves of Doom. He connects with four, but the AA is interrupted by a body blow from Show. Sheamus comes in and clotheslines Show to the floor, and they begin brawling up the ramp. Cena goes for the AA again, and Ziggler counters with the Zig-Zag (resembling the original version of the move this time) for 2. Ziggler complains to the referee, and turns around into the Attitude Adjustment. Before Cena can make the pin, Langston runs through Cena, causing the DQ.
WINNERS VIA DISQUALIFICATION: John Cena and Sheamus. Langston picks Cena up after the bell rings, hitting the Big Ending for the second time tonight. God, that move sucks. And such a horrible name, too. Langston stands over Cena as AJ and Ziggler make out over Cena’s head. AJ then skips around the ring.
WWE TLC 2012 was on December 16th, 2012 at 8pm est. live from the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York. Ring of Honor Final Battle 2012 was on December 16th, 2012 at 2pm est. live from the Manhattan Center in New York, New York. As a resident of the Big Apple, I considered it my duty to attend both events. Both events had a theme involving tables, ladders and chairs. Here I will compare the two events in terms of fan interactions, style of wrestling and overall experience. It should be noted that I grew up strictly a WWE fan and Final Battle 2012 was the first Ring of Honor live event I have attended.
The first thing noticeably different between WWE and Ring of Honor is the style of wrestling from each promotion’s superstars. WWE trains their superstars with a certain type of style, one that could be characterized as American. Ring of Honor superstars, on the other hand, are mainly independent wrestlers, some of whom were trained in Japan. ROH’s style of wrestling involves more uses with the legs. If you think about superstars such as Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio and Sin Cara, you may notice that they also wrestle in this style. Bryan and Punk are former ROH superstars, while Del Rio and Sin Cara learned the style in Mexico. It was clear throughout the day the difference in the move sets between WWE and Ring of Honor.
Continuing with style of wrestling, one must consider how the tables, ladders and chairs were used in both WWE and Ring of Honor. For Ring of Honor, they use TLC as weapons. You must win by pinfall or submission making multiple tables, ladders and chairs inevitable in their matches. On the other hand, when tables, ladders or chairs are used in WWE, many times it is a signal that the match is over. During Team Rhodes Scholars’ tables match at WWE TLC, only one table was used when Rhodes pushed Sin Cara into the table. Also, when Big Show defeated Sheamus in a chairs match, it was with a big chair. That is what WWE came up with. Were we supposed to be impressed? Big Show was unable to defeat Sheamus with multiple regular sized chairs, but he is able to defeat Sheamus with one oversized chair? At Ring of Honor Final Battle, Kevin Steen completed his signature move on El Generico on a ladder which was on top of another ladder in between two more ladders! Chairs seemed to be legal in every ROH match. Every match was a TLC match. WWE and ROH wrestling style and use of objects are different and personally, I prefer Ring of Honor in this area.
Wrestling Style Winner: Ring of Honor
When you consider fan interaction at both WWE and Ring of Honor, there are many differences. In terms of Ring of Honor, it is an independent wrestling promotion and allows more vulgarity and interaction with the wrestlers. Fans were chanting profanity at the wrestlers and believe it or not, the wrestlers were being just as vulgar back to the fans. Also, just like many other independent wrestling promotions, there were opportunities before the show to take a picture with or purchase an autograph with the wrestlers. I took a picture with Rhino this time, but I have met many wrestlers over the years, which are featured on my own blog, GuTTWrenchPowerBlog.com.
In terms of WWE, the promotion is more mainstream and lacks the level of profanity that the indy promotions allow. WWE has to answer to advertisers and corporate sponsors who seem to be more interested in a family friendly environment. The cost to meet WWE superstars is also much greater than the cost to meet the same superstars at an indy event. I recently met Goldust, Honky Tonk Man, Brutus Beefcake and Tito Santana at a Pro Wrestling Syndicate show. Each picture costs within twenty dollars. If these wrestlers were still employed by WWE, I would expect the cost to have been double. Once again, fan interaction is a lot more interesting and for a lack of a better word, interactive at Ring of Honor than WWE.
Fan Interaction Winner: Ring of Honor
The overall experience at WWE versus Ring of Honor is also different because of the venues in which you see both promotions. Ring of Honor Final Battle took place at the Manhattan Center in New York City. If you recall, this is the same place where WWE Monday Night Raw used to be when the show first began. Obviously WWE has grown and now Raw is in a different city each week. However, with a smaller venue, you can see the action much closer. When I attend Pro Wrestling Syndicate each month, I sit in the front row because it is affordable. Although I certainly enjoyed my seats at WWE TLC, I could hear and feel the bumps taken more so at Final Battle.
The one area where, in my opinion, WWE wins in this category is their ringside chairs from their pay-per-views. In addition to my pictures I have taken with wrestlers I’ve met, you can also find pictures of my collection of ringside chairs on my blog. If you sit within the first five rows of a WWE pay-per-view, you sit on a folding chair with the event’s logo on the seat cushion. By purchasing this seat (approximately $500), you can take the seat home with you. I have never purchased this seat, but I do find someone willing to sell theirs at a reasonable price after the show is over. This is obviously not an option for independent wrestling shows such as Ring of Honor.
The overall experience depends on your preference. Would you rather sit really close in a smaller venue? Or sit farther away in a larger venue with more pyrotechnics and aesthetically pleasing visuals? They both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Overall Experience Winner:????
So what do you prefer? Would you have preferred to be at WWE TLC 2012 or ROH Final Battle 2012? As I’ve said, I enjoy both for different reasons. However, since I began attending independent wrestling shows just two months ago, I am hooked. To me, it is like asking if you like wrestling or wrestling. I love wrestling.
Seth M. Guttenplan is a WWE Featured Columnist forBleacher Report, writer for CamelClutchBlog.com and host of OH YOU DIDN’T KNOW!? PWPRadio’s weekly radio show covering all wrestling news and rumors. To read more from Seth follow him on Twitter(@sethgutt) and check outguttwrenchpowerblog.com.