This one picture makes my day. All seven current titleholders in WWE, all veritable cruiserweights, with their gold. Brings a tear to my eye. Almost. http://bit.ly/tFWUNG
Cheap Plug: I recently penned a piece about Jim Ross and Howard Finkel, and their connection with the fans, despite Vince McMahon doing everything he can to marginalize them. I’m quite proud of it, and I think you will as well. http://bit.ly/um2KAJ
-Live from Philadelphia, my backyard. Hi Eric!
Editor’s note: Hello Justin!
Opening Segment: A Dramatic Intro
The lights dim and we get a timpani-roll as CM Punk voices over (dramatically) a trivia question: who won last night’s triple threat TLC match for the WWE Title? Him, of course! This brings Punk out, to a warm Philly welcome (from those not exhausted from laughing Mark Sanchez out of the Linc). Punk talks about keeping his title, despite the carnage. Then he goes to the United States title match, and plays another trivia game, bringing out new champion Zack Ryder. It’s like the IWC’s wet dream in that ring. But this leads to ANOTHER question: who won the World Heavyweight Title match? Not Mark Henry, not Big Show……but Daniel Bryan! And it’s an internet love-in in that ring. Enjoy it now, folks, because who knows how long will this last. Bryan gets a respectful ovation and chants from the crowd. Punk says Philly would appreciate this scene, because they know their wrestling history. E-C-W chant! Punk puts over their ROH history, and says who’d have ever thought they’d be here with both belts. Punk also puts over both Ryder and Bryan working their way to the top, and hands the mic over to both men to give them their spotlight. Ryder talks about reconciling the dream, and Bryan cuts a passionate promo about beating the odds. That brings The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, and Alberto Del Rio to the stage. The heels try a collective run in, but the faces stand them down. Ryder then planchas onto Dolph, the heels send Ryder into the steps, and a skirmish breaks out, which Johnny Ace separates. Sure enough, we get a six man tag main event. Give them a half hour, and I’m fine with this.
Segment Rating: 9/10. New people in the main event scene. Who’da thunk it.
I don’t know; cutting to stale Orton after that hot opening segment just seems like such a downer. Randy Orton’s lack of ovation compared to the Punk/Bryan/Ryder opening segment is just one reason Vince is a bitter, bitter man. Orton works over Barrett with strikes early. Brawl spills outside and Orton eats a back kick to the guts, followed by a layout suplex on the rail. Barrett poses in the ring with Orton down, as we hit a break. We reset with Barrett kicking Orton in the face inside, and the Brit follows by kicking Orton through the ropes, Yakuza style. Lawler: : “There’s no telling how many guys Barrett has brutalized with his bare fists.” Sounds dirty. Orton fights back, and the crowd boos the O-Zone neckbreaker of Orton. No pop AT ALL for Orton’s rope-hang DDT, so Orton milks it to get SOME noise. Barrett then gets DQed for, wait for it, thumbing Orton’s eye to prevent an RKO. Really? Barrett then brutalizes afterward with a spike slam. Barrett then retrieves a table from under the ring, and gives Orton the Wasteland straight through. Angle works fine, but the thumb gouge ending is kinda silly.
WINNER: Randy Orton by DQ
Rating: 6/10. Was a fine match with a good aftermath, but the DQ was silly.
Match 2: Beth Phoenix vs. Alicia Fox (non title)
Amazing, Alicia just MAULS Beth with a hard reverse DDT and pins her with the flipping legdrop. She actually seems more coordinated than Kelly, and I don’t hate Alicia, so cool. Alicia then cuts an awkward promo afterward
WINNER: Alicia Fox via flipping legdrop
Rating: 3/10. Are they….phasing Kelly out?
Match 3: Sheamus vs. Jinder Mahal
I think Mahal should perform the Tiger Punch from Mike Tyson’s Punchout as a finisher. Sheamus’ Irish temper goes into overdrive early, but Mahal works him over with kicks, followed by a running kneebutt for 2. Sheamus goes nuts with the sledge blows, and rolls through a missed diving shoulderblock (impressive!). Irish Curse connects, followed by the Celtic Cross for the relative squash.
WINNER: Sheamus via Celtic Cross
Rating: 4/10. A squash, but squashes are fine.
Promo: John Cena
Cena has the gall to say Philly’s “favorite son comes home” in his on-stage aside. Kane’s black mask and attire remind me of the Black Knight in Monty Python. I wonder if Cena will cut off his limbs? Booing commences. Cena gets all Cena-esque-cutesy as he talks about how the crowd hates him. Quick Mania 28 plug, before Cena moves on to Kane (making a quick “dentist” joke along the way). Cena calls out Kane, and waits, but we get Mark Henry (in a walking boot) instead. Mad props to Henry for working through a torn groin muscle. Loud “Sexual Chocolate” chant erupts, and Henry brushes it off well enough. As Henry tries to stare Cena down, the pyro explodes, and Kane re-emerges. Henry backs away from Kane, but the monster turns his focus to Cena. Kane removes his awesome welder’s mask, and Cena attacks, clotheslining Kane over. Kane, however, lands on his feet and goes on the offensive (including a NASTY throat thrust). Kane then attempts to asphyxiate Cena with one hand, and Cena passes out with a mouth full of blood. Kane rips off Cena’s shirt (which had a Hogan-like pre-cut earlier) and walks off with a battle trophy.
Segment Rating: 6/10. It worked for what it was. Kane looks bad ass again.
Match 4: The Usos vs. Primo/Epico
TAG TEAMS~!! Did Vince win the lottery? Jimmy and Jey go nuts early with a modified Decapitator, but Primo comes back with a dropkick for 2. The Colons do some classic heel double teaming while Rosa the Wonder Anorexic Doll yells in Spanish. Jimmy gets the hot tag and plants Epico with a full nelson bomb, followed by Uncle Umaga’s butt-a-lanche. However, Epico lands a backstabber to win.
WINNERS: Primo and Epico via backstabber
RATING: 5/10. I’m just happy to see tag teams.
Match 5: Cody Rhodes vs. Santino Marella
Rhodes is so advanced from where he was even just two years ago, that I forgot he was once the weak link of a tag team with Hardcore Holly. Rhodes methodically dominates early, and takes his time between stomps, but Santino comes back with angry hiptosses (the WORST kind), and cues up the Cobra, but Rhodes responds with the Alabama Slam and wins.
WINNER: Cody Rhodes via Alabama Slam
RATING: 4/10. Another squash, but at least the midcard’s getting time to shine. Besides, Cody’s a future main eventer, and it was a good looking win.
Merry Christmas to us all! Ryder makes his entrance through the crowd, and Bryan does the same, followed by Punk. At least WWE’s trying to acclimate their future with the crowd on a personal level. Punk and Miz open things and Punk works the arm, tagging Bryan (Miz’s former protégé). Ryder and Bryan clean house of the heels, and land dueling planchas on them outside, with Punk finishing the sequence with a dive outside as we hit the final commercial. Back to action with Bryan in control on Miz, but Miz escapes the kick sequence and lands the short DDT for 2. Del Rio and Ziggler take turns teeing off on Bryan, and Ziggler works a chinlock as Punk and Ryder work the crowd. Del Rio tags in while Cole talks about how embarrassed he is to be a part of WWE. Tonight of all nights? ADR works the arm of Bryan, and lands a tilt a whirl backbreaker for 2. Ziggler tags back in, but runs into a boot in the corner, and Bryan tags Ryder, who faceplants Ziggler hard, and hits the Broski Boot for 2. Miz tags in and takes over on Ryder. Del Rio gets the tag, and Ryder backdrops him over the post. Punk gets the hot tag and goes ape-dumpings on the heels, and lands the Savage Elbow on Miz for 2, which Punk turns into the Vice, which Ziggler breaks up. Pier Sixer develops, and Miz eats the GTS, but Del Rio nails Punk. Bryan is sent into the post, but Bryan gets the LeBell Lock on Del Rio, and Alberto taps. Wow, good finish. Cole is beside himself as the internet heroes celebrate.
WINNERS: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Zack Ryder via LeBell Lock
RATING: 8/10. Great ending, and it gives Bryan some legitimacy. A fun match to boot, too.
OVERALL: A show committed to change? A minimum of Cena and Orton? Punk, Bryan, and Ryder standing tall? Has the whole world gone mad? Who knows if we still have this direction next week, but I’ll enjoy it for now.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
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.