-Quick birthday shout outs. Happy birthday to my dad, my good friend and fellow CCBer Brett Clendaniel, and to Layne Staley, who’d be 44 today, and would be thrilled to know that Tommy Dreamer will use a “Man in the Box” variant wherever he goes.
-Live from Edmonton…………….Alberta, Canada
Opening Segment: Alberto Del Rio and John Cena
I guess we’re back to ‘WCW Rules’ where the luchador curtain jerks. John Cena gets a little “shooty” and deconstructs Del Rio’s character (“You don’t even know the name of that car”) and puts over CM Punk as being his only equal in the company. That brings Punk out, which should placate those who feel he was being shifted out of the main event with his Nash side-feud. Punk doesn’t appreciate the gladhanding from Cena, and accuses him of trying to horn on “HIS” shot. What it boils down to is the “textgate” mystery of Punk figuring that it was a company conspiracy to put the title on Del Rio at SummerSlam 2011. Both men want a shot, and Del Rio blows off both challenges. Then to drag this out more, Triple H makes his way out, and gives ADR a match tonight, but not against Cena or Punk. It’s Punk vs. Cena tonight, and the winner gets Del Rio at Night of Champions. Alrighty then.
SEGMENT RATING: 7/10. Not as strong as some of the ‘fourth-wall-breaking’ segments lately, but adds intrigue to the end of the show, as well as the PPV in four weeks, so yay.
I kinda wish Mike Chioda was refereeing so he could count rapidly fast, thanks to the performance enhancing drugs in his system. I’m fine with this match, as though it doesn’t mean much in the “rankings”, Del Rio’s been going through the ringer with great TV matches this past week to establish him. Story of the match centered around Morrison having his neck/back slammed hard into the railing, and the champ methodically working him over. There were some great near falls on ADR’s German suplex, and Morrison’s DDT and roll up, with the crowd buying each instance. ADR avoided the Starship Pain and sent Morrison into the post, snaring the cross armbreaker for the submission win (and you could hear the air come out of the crowd). Del Rio reapplies the hold after the match, because he’s a wonderful jerk, and just basks in the boos after
WINNER: Alberto Del Rio via Cross Armbreaker
RATING: 8/10. Hey, good TV match. What more can I add?
Match 2: Eve Torres vs. Nikki Bella
No intro for Nikki = this doesn’t bode well for her. I dig the insert promo from Beth Phoenix and Natalya. If HHH is behind the old school ideas (insert promos, tag team division), then I shall kneel at his altar. Match is usual diva stuff until Eve pins Nikki with the Siakalypse neckbreaker.
WINNER: Eve Torres via Siakalypse neckbreaker
RATING: 3/10. It was what it was.
Match 3: Jack Swagger vs. Alex Riley
Speaking of HHH ideas of yesteryear, managers with stables are back, as Vickie Guerrero is indeed managing Swags. Alrighty. Dolph Ziggler pops in mid-match, choosing to wait a full week before confronting Vickie for her stable expansion. Swagger gets distracted by Ziggler’s appearance, and eats a roll-up from Riley for the loss.
WINNER: Alex Riley via roll-up
RATING: 3/10. Kinda early to have dissension, I think, and this just felt shoehorned into the show.
In Ring Segment: Triple H and Kevin Nash
Gotta say, Nash is looking about as frail as corpse. Nash wants to maul Punk, Triple H tries to eject him, and Punk comes out to solve the mystery. Punk tries to kick Nash’s a#$, Hunter interjects, and Punk shoves him away in a rather intense moment. Punk accuses Hunter of having it in for him, and Triple H gets gravelly with threats. Punk gets snippy, so Nash takes him down. Hunter reprimands Nash, and Punk just smirks. Intrigue.
SEGMENT RATING: 7/10. Advanced the plot, doesn’t definitively solve anything, and makes me want to see what happens next. So it works.
Match 4: David Otunga/Michael McGillicutty vs. Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne (WWE World Tag Team Championship)
I’m actually excited for this match, given the news of HHH wanting to revitalize the tag team scene. Of course, JErry Lawler buries both men by saying how they’ve done nothing in 3 months, and that the Bushwackers have more personality. Thanks, Jerry. I dig the Manhattan Drop/Dropkick combo from the champs (with JR calling Michael’s dropkick “perfect”, *wink*). The commentary goes meta, as Lawler acknowledges that there’s belts on the line, and they’re busy discussing the Punk/HHH/Nash angle. That’s irrelevant, as Bourne polishes off Otunga with Air Bourne to change the titles.
WINNERS: Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne via Air Bourne (new WWE World Tag Team Champions)
RATING: 5/10. Formulaic and short, but I’m glad to see the belts mean something again. Hopefully, it lasts.
Match 5: Santino Marella vs. We’ll Never Know
Santino is jumped in the aisle by The Miz and R-Truth. Truth presents his new conspiracy, that Punk, Cena, HHH, Stephanie, and Nash are all in cahoots together. Miz and Truth play the crowd like a fiddle while they lament their reduced roles under Triple H’s watch. I love how these angles are all tying into each other. It makes the entire show mean something. Miz and Truth conclude by freestyling on how they hate the crowd. That was fun.
SEGMENT RATING: 8/10. Just because Miz and Truth are naturals at tweaking a hot crowd.
Alberto Del Rio and John Laurinaitis are at ringside, so tomfoolery is afoot. They’re certainly treating this match like it means something, a trend in recent WWE programming. Have I mentioned how much I love Triple H’s new direction? Did they throw Kevin Dunn into a grain thresher? Match has a splendid opening, but the commercial kinda ruins the big match feel. Phooey. Come back to a rest hold, so I assume we didn’t miss anything too invigorating. Cena does apply the Crossface in Benoit’s hometown, which is as surreal a moment as you’d expect. The near fall barrage late in the match, with the “villains” at ringside, adds some nice tension. Both the G2S and AA are unable to finish. They’re doing a hell of a job turning Punk into Cena’s equal. Then Nash appears, having not been in an accident afterall. Ahh, the old ruse. Cena gets the AA out of nowhere to win.
WINNER: John Cena via Attitude Adjustment (#1 contender)
RATING: 9/10. ****+ match until the tainted end, but at least the angle makes sense.
Del Rio attacks Cena afterward and Laurinaitis pulls him off. I’m getting the whole “1998 Corporation” vibe from this storyline, and I’m loving it.
OVERALL: An excellent show to advance the stories without giving away too much. The Punk/Cena/ADR/Nash/HHH/Steph/Ace storyline progresses, the tag team titles mean something (for now), Miz/Truth may tie into the main event, and pretty much everything made sense.
Have I mentioned how much I love HHH?
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.