Live from San Jose, CA
OPENING SEGMENT – TRIPLE H
Yada yada yada, change is good, change is afoot, Triple H is in charge, we will have one undisputed champion Sunday between John Cena and CM Punk. Only thing of note is that The Game will be the special referee. Oh, and we have a contract signing, since those are ratings grabbers. Cena and Punk have individual competition tonight, and Cena’s match is…..NOW
MATCH 1: JOHN CENA VS. JACK SWAGGER (NON TITLE MATCH)
There’s no handicapper that has odds on Swagger, unless it’s for how handily he taps out to the STF. The match is mostly formula, just to demonstrate Cena’s formidability, coming back after an early Swagger weardown and beating. Shockingly, Cena DOESN’T win with the STF, but dominates the entire final minute and puts Swagger away with ease with the Attitude Adjustment. That almost felt like a burial job in a way, but Swagger dominated the early portion, so there goes that.
WINNER: John Cena via Attitude Adjustment
RATING: 6/10. Felt like one of those “Summerslam Showdown” matches from the early 1990’s, and that’s not a bad thing. I’m a sucker for nostalgia.
Ahh, but there’s no match, because Miz attacks Mysterio during Rey’s intro and splatters him across the giant logo on the entrance stage. Miz is angry because he has no Summerslam match, and instead of a forfeit win, Miz must now face…..
ACTUAL MATCH 2: THE MIZ VS. KOFI KINGSTON
I miss the days when matches would be announced for a PPV weeks in advance, and you’d have time to get excited for those matches. This match is just an indicator that not letting people get booked until six days before (or perhaps not at all) is counterproductive to making a good show. Both men were very game here, indicating that not having either man on the show is a crime. Kingston’s springboard twisting cross body was an incredible spot. In the end, having Miz win is the right thing, but having it be so clean is a mistake, as some chicanery could at least make for a Summerslam rematch, but the moment is lost.
WINNER: The Miz via Skull Crushing Finale
RATING: 7/10. Good spots, and both men seemed game. I’ll take it.
MATCH 3: ALBERTO DEL RIO VS. CM PUNK (NON TITLE MATCH)
Part of me thought that Alberto Del Rio would attack Punk before the match, brutalize him, then cash in, but that might make sense. Instead, we got a nice, basic match that was pedestrian, if enjoyable. Punk won with the GTS in convincing fashion, which is good for making Punk look good, but not so good for keeping Del Rio strong for when he finally does cash in. Also, the crowd seems confused as to what Punk is in terms of his alignment. Is he a face or a heel? I’m not even sure WWE knows either.
WINNER: CM Punk via Go To Sleep
RATING: 6/10. It was alright, but nothing I’ll remember tomorrow.
MATCH 4: BETH PHOENIX VS. EVE TORRES
Eve finally got rid of that crappy Fogerty-wannabe version of her music. Since Beth has Kelly Kelly on Sunday, this is little more than a foregone conclusion for Beth. In fact, Phoenix squashes her with some classic bad ass heel offense, including a hard beel into the rail. Glam Slam finishes. Beth rips Eve afterward for her and Kelly making a mockery of the divas division, as if it was anything salvageable since Trish and Lita retired. Kelly Kelly attacks, and it limits Kelly’s airtime to 25 seconds, thus I am happy.
WINNER: Beth Phoenix via Glam Slam
RATING: 4/10. Effective, if boring at points. Crowd seemed a tad happy that Beth won.
MATCH 5: DOLPH ZIGGLER VS. ALEX RILEY (NON TITLE MATCH)
Ziggler either recovered nicely from his abdominal injury over the weekend, or this is a squash to build to a Summerslam match. Riley’s bad-breath joke is lame, as are most jokes written by WWE’s staff. Indeed, Ziggler doesn’t take much more offense than a spinebuster before Vickie slaps Riley to cause the DQ. Jim Ross opines that she just cost Ziggler some money. What, is K. Allen Frey the anonymous GM?
WINNER: Alex Riley by DQ via outside interference
RATING: 2/10. Unless it leads to a Summerslam match, this was just fodder to progress Ziggler and Vickie’s tumultuous relationship.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome NFL Films-style Punk/Cena/Vince/HHH saga video, complete with Tom Hedden’s “A New Game”.
SEGMENT RATING: 9/10, just to spice up the show a bit.
MATCH 6: JOHN MORRISON VS. R-TRUTH
Remind me why we can’t have this match at Summerslam? At least when Morrison gets backstage, he won’t have to figure out which broom closet Melina ran off to. The match, which is rushed, but Summerslam quality if it was slowed down, features Morrison going all out with the high spots, as if he’s making up for both lost time, and to ease some political tension stemming from WrestleMania. R-Truth wins it clean, which is a bit shocking, after working the neck and back. Morrison’s barrel roll over the top was nice, though.
WINNER: R-Truth via Moment of Truth
RATING: 7/10. Really spirited for the limited time. Wish they’d saved it.
MISC: CHRISTIAN PROMO
Basically, Christian (still World Heavyweight Champion via some small miracle) implores Triple H to be at Smackdown on Friday. Okay then.
Triple H and John Laurinaitis preside, and CM Punk is out, questioning the presentational need for contract signings, which makes me giggle. Punk plays Rock’s viral video from last month to explain his point of view of John Cena. I guess the WrestleMania 28 match isn’t off. Punk uses it to illustrate what a phony Cena is, and then segues into what a phony Rock is. Cena responds about how he can’t figure out Rock’s obsession with him. Cena thinks Punk’s beef has to do with him being too PG, and Cena responds with breaking the fourth wall with internet jargon (ohhh snap!) and plays up the fans who ARE devoted to him, not caring about those who don’t. Starting to think Cena will never turn heel. Cena and HHH point out that Punk isn’t the honest soul that he claims to he is. Punk points out the real releases over the weekend, and gets a MONSTER “CM PUNK” chant in response. Back to Cena, Punk says that Cena looks down from his pedestal that was built for him. Punk promises victory on Sunday, and Cena responds by saying Punk’s put a lot of pressure on himself, asking what’s going to happen if he ends up losing at Summerslam. Cena says if Punk loses, he’s a one-hit-wonder, prompting a very reserved look from Punk, who responds he’d rather be a one-hit-wonder than a phony. And now we come to the fight, but Ace comes between the two. Hunter and Ace get wiped out in the chaos, and Punk bails. Crowd chants for Punk as the show closes.
SEGMENT RATING: 10/10. Like you needed to ask.
OVERALL: Strong go-home show, even if we only have half a card for Summerslam. Punk-Cena is enough to ensure strong buys, especially for those dumb enough to miss Money in the Bank.
I don’t know about you, but I’m there.
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.