-With Smackdown being live tomorrow night, I am on standby in case Dustin Nichols forgets, and commits to his usual Tuesday routine of flexing in front of the mirror naked while muttering “Dustin’s the greatest” on loop. Have no fear, CCB world: unlike Triple H, I DO work Tuesdays*
* For my standard fee….
-Quick personal plug: wrote quite the essay on Vince McMahon’s downward spiral into self-parody, which you can find here (http://bit.ly/sxBaTz) and feedback is always welcome. Especially from Vince. He’ll read it if enough people tell him that I’m trending.
-Live from Columbia, SC
Opening Segment: John Cena in Piper’s Pit
Gotta say, Piper looks pretty good tonight, in comparison to some rough outings he’s had in recent years. Piper asks how a man that has never been a World champion, nor was the biggest, strongest man there was, become a WWE icon. The answer is simple: energy. Whether the crowd cheered or booed Piper, he fed off of that energy and made a hell of a career out of it. And with that, he calls out a Cena, a man who is fed plenty of energy, positive and negative. See, writing staff, THAT’S how you use metaphors. I learned that in seventh grade English. Cena isn’t sure where Piper’s going with this, and it turns into a game of “Cheer Association”. Piper says the names Stone Cold, Bret Hart, and The Rock to mostly favorable reaction, and then says Cena’s name, to a huge chorus of boos. Cena downplays those boos, saying he respects those who boo him. Piper declares Cena the face of WWE, and says that the boos are getting louder, and Cena is ‘losing it’. Piper tells Cena that if he doesn’t start speaking his mind, he’s going to be the biggest loser in WrestleMania history. Cena brings up past instances where he was booed out of the building, and Piper is getting frustrated. Cena hands a note to Piper that expresses the apparent reason as to why he will never let the boos bother him. Piper then goes on about how Cena did run with the ball when it was given to him, but Piper continues to prod Cena to speak his mind. Cena tries to decline, but Piper smacks him. “FEEL THE ENERGY! DO YOU FEEL THE ENERGY!” bellows Piper. Cena, instead of fighting back, merely shakes Piper’s hands and leaves, albeit flustered.
SEGMENT RATING: 8/10. Better than the usual opening segments, as Piper adds a shade of something different. Cena’s heel turn looming? We shall see.
Miz attacks Morrison out of the entrance way by bashing his knee with a pipe. We just heard the last eight seconds we’ll ever hear of “Ain’t No Make Believe”. Miz goes to the ring with an uncaring glare, and Morrison, despite the referees trying to keep him back, hobbles to the ring. Bell sounds and Morrison manages to get some shots in before Miz strikes the leg. Morrison gets posted, and Miz grabs a Singapore cane. Knee, meet cane, cane, knee. Morrison tries to fight back, getting some cane shots himself in a surprisingly even match. Did Morrison re-sign? Miz crawls away and Morrison uses the cane as a cane to give chase up the ramp. Morrison goes headfirst into the WWE logo set piece (Miz’s designated weapon). Skull Crushing Finale on the stage, and Miz pauses and draws out the pin attempt. The referee simply stops the match without allowing Miz the pin, which is weird, because Miz was going for the pin anyway. As they get the stretcher for Morrison, Miz takes the mic and returns to the ring. In a nice touch, Johnny Ace comes out, looks at the body, and leaves. Miz said last week was R-Truth, this week Morrison, and next week…..we’ll see. Miz opines in a monotone his awesomeness.
WINNER: The Miz via Skull Crushing Finale (stoppage)
RATING: 7/10. Effective use of TV. Cole referring to Morrison as “dead weight” is a veiled insult that isn’t so veiled. See you in TNA, Johnny. As far as Miz’s psycho gimmick, betcha he’s back to being an obnoxious social climber in four weeks when Vince and the writers forget.
Match 2: Kelly Kelly/Alicia Fox vs. The Bella Twins
No entrances for anyone. For some reason, Beth and Natalya run out to do a jog around ringside. If Candice Michelle tried that, she’d tear both shoulders and both knees. Anyway, Alicia pins one of the Bellas with a flip legdrop.
WINNERS: The Fox and The Hound via flipping legdrop
RATING: 1/10. Yeah.
Match 3: Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler (Non Title Match)
Well, so much for Ryder’s title shot. Ryder gets depushed for a haircut, and Orton gets pushed when he gets a million hideous tattoos. I’m at a loss. Anywho, Wade Barrett is here for commentary, so the screwjob ending is a given. Gotta admit, the hooker boots and big ass on Vickie are sizzling. Quick sequence of counters to open, so there’s hope we can get fifteen minutes out of this. Orton plants Ziggler with a devastating clothesline. Ziggler needs to be careful that his good bumping doesn’t turn him into Curt Hennig Part 2.0, in terms of his spine. Orton goes into the Garvin Stomp, and follows up with a knee drop, and then a VERY nice vertical suplex. I like when wrestlers make the basics look good. Orton takes a moment to jaw at Barrett, and Ziggler takes control. Ziggler gets 2 off of a roll-up, and then Dolph dropkicks Orton off the apron in a nice spot. Barrett eyes Orton sinisterly as Ziggler continues the onslaught outside and controls for a spell, but Orton manages to eventually crotch Dolph up top. Superplex, Cowboy Bob style, follows, but it only gets 2 as we head to commercial. Back from break, and Orton gets the snap powerslam, followed by the the contorted grin. Rope-assist DDT follows, and Orton gets into Predator position, but Dolph rolls to the floor. Ziggler swears off the match, and Barrett takes to the apron. Orton dropkicks him off, but Ziggler runs back and gets the Zig Zag for the semi-clean win. Vickie makes the irritating announcement.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler via Zig Zag
RATING: 8/10. Not as good as Punk/Ziggler last week, but a very enjoyable TV match. If Punk-Dolph was ****1/4 last week, call this ***1/4-***1/2. Dolph and Orton have tremendous chemistry.
In-Ring Segment: Michael Cole Interviews Daniel Bryan
Cole starts by calling Bryan a hypocrite. Mean Gene would never do that, would he? Bryan plays to the crowd by declaring Cole the worst announcer in the history of WWE, and then says he thinks Cole should respect him. Cole calls Henry a defenseless man, and asks what happened to Bryan’s vow to cash in at WrestleMania XXVIII. Cole replays the footage of Bryan winning the belt, and then being forced to abdicate it. Cole laughs up Bryan having his moment ruined, and says if he was Teddy Long, he’d have suspended Bryan for his actions. Cole then admits he’s pulling for Mark Henry tomorrow night. Bryan says he changed his plans when Mark Henry tried to induct him into the Hall of Pain, and says that nothing is guaranteed, so he tried to make the most of an opportunity. Bryan says the title is more important than WrestleMania, and Mark Henry makes his way out. He says he’s somewhat defenseless, but that’s okay, because he’s going to beat Bryan anyway in the steel cage. Bryan makes his way up the ramp for a confrontation, and simply strikes Henry’s bad leg, before leaving Henry hobbling by his lonesome.
RATING: 7/10. It served a purpose of hyping tomorrow night’s Smackdown, and it gave Bryan and Henry some important talk time. I understand having Cole be the antagonist to allow Bryan someone to bounce off of, and believe Cole would really be better served as the new Bobby Heenan or Jimmy Hart.
Match 4: Zack Ryder vs. Jack Swagger
I hope they pull the trigger on Ryder and the US Title soon, just to see how long the ‘net stops the perpetual whining. Besides, Zack deserves it for all of his dedication. Swagger dominates in the early going, getting a Sid Vicious-style leg drop for 2. Crowd rallies behind Ryder as he’s trapped in a submission hold, but Ryder works his way into control, getting a neckbreaker for 2. Ryder escapes the Swagger Bomb, but Jack catches the cross body with a front backbreaker. Swagger muffs the running Swagger Bomb, and a second attempt lands on feet. Ruff Ryder finishes.
WINNER: Zack Ryder via Ruff Ryder
RATING: 5/10. Short and effective, blown spot aside. There does seem to be a committal toward making the most of Ryder’s popularity.
Talk Segment: Mick Foley
Foley, bedecked as Santa, provides a hard sell for tomorrow’s live holiday Smackdown, and hits the cheap pop while insulting Michael Cole. Alrighty then.
SEGMENT RATING: 5/10. Meh, it was all in good fun. Gotta have some holiday spirit, right?
At least fifteen minutes, please. I love how Alberto Del Rio steps on the driver’s side door of a $140,000 car with his dirty boots, instead of opening the door. Both men work the other’s arm early, in tune with both the Survivor Series psychology, and their respective submission finishers. Punk clotheslines Del Rio out and follows up with a suicide dive as we hit the final commercial. Back live to Del Rio in control, working the arm some more. During the break, ADR gained control by crotching Punk up top, and kicking the arm. Del Rio, however, despite all the arm-related offense, can’t put Punk away. Punk misses a cross body and lands on the arm, allowing ADR to take over with his MMA style offense. Punk tries to mount a comeback, but falls into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for 2. Match is a bit slow, so the fans chant for ice cream. Just when Punk takes over with an arm drag, Del Rio fires back with a Yakuza kick for 2. Punk catches Del Rio off the top with a high kick for 2 as the momentum starts to shift. Punk goes into comeback mode with a flurry of clotheslines and strikes, including the corner knee, but Del Rio counters the bulldog with a double knee armbreaker for 2. Del Rio gets a German suplex for 2 after an ensuing exchange. Dual finisher counters leads to a DDT by Del Rio for 2. Ricardo slides Alberto a chair, who throws it to Punk, who throws it back and feigns an attack by Del Rio. Charles Robinson considers DQing ADR, but Punk rolls Del Rio up for 2. ADR follows with a backcracker for 2. Punk manages a GTS onto a turnbuckle that Alberto exposed for the win. Will there be controversy? Ricardo claims that Punk cheated, so Punk GTS’s him as well. Looks like if there’s controversy, it’ll have to wait a week. Or maybe tomorrow.
WINNER: CM Punk via Go To Sleep (Still WWE Champion)
RATING: 9/10. A notch below Punk/Dolph from last week (say ***3/4), but still a great main event. There were several spots where it appeared Punk might get screwed over, thus making it dramatic, and the crowd pleasing ending made the drama worth it.
OVERALL: Two great matches in Punk-Alberto and Dolph-Orton, meaningful wins for Miz and Ryder, a good hard sell for Bryan/Henry, and an important “turning point” segment for Cena. If you didn’t like tonight’s show, then I have no idea what to tell you.
Let’s hope tomorrow’s Smackdown is just as good.
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.