Yes or No 10/31/13: Orton & Cena as Champions, Sandow Gaining Nothing From MITB, More
Daniel Bryan faces Randy Orton for the vacant WWE Title as WWE presents Hell in a Cell! Plus CM Punk takes on Ryback and Paul Heyman in the Cell, John Cena faces Alberto Del Rio and more!
You are excited for Sunday’s TNA Bound for Glory PPV? NO: I wish I could say “YES” on this one but for all intents and purposes I am again in a wait and see mode with TNA. They are constantly in flux when it comes to direction and quality and I seem to be more of an optimist when it comes to TNA being an alternative to the WWE then some, but even I have my limits. In spurts and jumps do they manage to have any kind of momentum but they also tend to either shoot themselves in the foot or lean too much of vets of org. to dig them out of the mess they have gotten themselves into. And BFG, TNA’s Wrestlemania card seems like it was booked together in the last two weeks. They need some footing and fast, and maybe with the Hulkster (hopefully) bailing and the recent cuts, post BFG TNA can once again find themselves on the right path (fingers crossed). More wrestling the merrier we shall be. I will still most likely be catching the show though before reading the results, hoping I am wrong on this one.
With Shawn Michaels being introduced as the special referee at Hell in a Cell, WWE is setting up for a Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels match at WrestleMania XXX? NO: Considering until getting this question never actually thought to put this match together its an interesting idea but one to which I do not think will pan out. With Shawn losing to Taker in his loser retires bout, I just can’t see HBK going against his word like heavily medicated broke womanizing legend of Flair did after his Wrestlemania “Retirement” match. I mean at least Flair had reasons, personal demon, related reasons to keep wrestling but reasons. Shawn does not need to, he has his reality show, a family and other ventures to keep him occupied even with a tempting payday. Its a Wrestlemania fantasy bout for sure but I see his involvement leading more to a HHH VS Daniel Bryan match then anything else, HHH and HBK have had their beefs and bouts now I want the Student Vs The Game!
Due to the contract status of AJ Styles, Bully Ray retaining the TNA World Title at Bound for Glory would be the right thing to do? NO: If TNA has taught me anything its that, those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Like trying to re-live the glory of Hulk Hogan long past its merits and sense. But also TNA tends to be WAY may forgiving when it comes to crowning its champions. AJ maybe on a leash for only a little bit longer but TNA has given title wins to people in worse positions. Kurt Angle was champ during his many personal issues, Jeff Hardy is a case all by itself, heck Pacman Jones was a champion in the promotion when his contract stated he could not be touched or touch anybody while “Wrestling”, haha. Oh, TNA, you are so funny sometimes. AJ Styles on the other hand is one guy that has stuck with TNA through all its stupid decisions and dark times. He is getting older and the E has too many upstarts and upsides in NXT to really need AJ anymore. IF he gets the title for one last REAL run with the big gold belt they better make it worth his while. AJ you are to TNA as Tommy Dreamer was to ECW. Humble and loyal to a fault and at its current trajectory, TNA’s downfall. He is hoping you get the chance to right the ship.
John Cena returning to challenge for the World Title at Hell in a Cell will give a much-needed feel of importance to that title? YES: The biggest complaint that the IWC (ha!) with Alberto Del Rio’s almost year long run in and around the World title is that he is BORING! The IWC’s problem with John Cena is he cannot wrestle and is STALE as a saltine cracker. But considering ADR has been putting on pretty good to great matches with just about anybody I cannot really fault him more then I would creative. I mean, when you book the 2nd most important title in the company like the European championship it seems what else are people to do but complain I guess. So what’s the solution? Cena is still in the title picture this way, yes I will grant you that but he adds legitimacy as a real main eventer vying for the title, something most people think is lacking. Also it takes Cena out of the WWE title picture for the interim and allows the progression of the Cena Vs Bryan rematch program they got brewing with a Bella on either side. Or at least that is something I would be looking to do. Is ADR Vs Cena a match I really want to see….nah, but by a prestige POV the booking is spot on and surprising.
The ending to the WWE Battleground PPV was an insult to paying customers? NO: People need to remember this is entertainment and it is simulating a sport, not the other way around. They are trying to continue storylines on a television show. There is no specified rule that says “the main event of a PPV most have a decisive finish every time.” And honestly, we’ve seen plenty of non-finishes to end PPV’s before, so this shouldn’t surprise people. I can understand casual fans getting upset enough to ask for refunds because they suspend disbelief a lot more than the more intelligent wrestling fan. I’m not saying we need just accept what happens, but I felt the Night of Champions finish was worse because they just screwed Bryan on RAW the next night. At least with this it became obvious that WWE plans on making Hell in a Cell the definitive end for this storyline, and I for one am happy to get to the finish line already.
You are shocked that John Cena has been announced as returning to the ring at the Hell in a Cell PPV? NO: John Cena has proven time and again that when it comes to injuries he is super human. You might as well cut any recovery time he’s supposed to take and cut it in half. Nothing shocks me anymore when it comes to John Cena. I actually like this decision by WWE to have Cena wrestle Del Rio for the World Title and try to elevate SmackDown in the process, while WWE continues the Bryan storyline for the WWE Title. If Punk can hold his own in a bubble, I’m sure Cena can do it as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Cena vs. Bryan 2, World and WWE Title Unification match at Wrestlemania 30. Who’s with me?
Having Shawn Michaels as the referee for the Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan Hell in a Cell match has increased your interest in the match? YES: HBK is my favorite of all-time so having his name on the card is enough for me to pay the money to order this show. But having him in a referee capacity gives the main event a good feeling of unpredictability that I like. I could see things going about three different ways right now and that’s just because Shawn Michaels was added to the match. I wouldn’t feel the same way if Booker T would have been the ref.
Hulk Hogan’s departure angle on last week’s Impact Wrestling made the company look stupid? YES: What a way to kill the “heel GM” thing before it even really got started. I don’t really care who’s fault it is, this was TERRIBLE. It didn’t help anyone and made TNA look bush league. People were chanting “We Want Vince” and “We Want Vickie” I mean seriously? That tells you everything you need to know. Why in the hell would you have the PRESIDENT of your company holding onto a decrepit Hulk Hogan’s leg like a child. Hogan didn’t even act like he cared to be there at all and I hope TNA doesn’t bring him back and put themselves in a bigger hole financially. Dixie should have just said “NO Hulk you aren’t quitting on me, YOU ARE FIRED!!!” and that been it. But of course, they had to give Hogan creative control and have a stupid segment like this. The TNA talent deserve better than this crap.
Austin Aries joins us to start, and you can bet your sweet ass that he’s cashing in his newly won X title in two weeks. He brings out Hogan to hand over the belt, but Hulk accuses him of the worst crime in wrestling: GIMMICK INFRINGEMENT. So as punishment, tonight Aries defends against Chris Sabin and Suicide, who is now called Manic. That’s pretty unfair to Aries, especially when the title match last week was specifically advertised as being the match to determine who got the World title shot.
AJ Styles beat Frankie Kazarian by Submission in a Bound for Glory Series Match: Though this match was short, I found it to be entertaining the entire time. The Sigfried and Roy outfits for Daniels and Kazarian were quite amusing as well. I liked that AJ went over with the Calf Killer, as it not only establishes the move as a legitimate finisher, but also makes it appear as if AJ wants to get as many points as possible (**1/4).
Mickie James’ Promo: Mickie James cut another great promo on Thursday, this time focusing on the upcoming number one contender’s ladder match between Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell. This belongs in the right for two reasons. First off, it continued to establish Mickie as a cocky, self-admiring heel. Secondly, by having the champion thoroughly invested in the number one contender’s match, the match seems more important. Promotions tend to throw out number one contender’s matches with frequency. By having the champion devote her promo time to it, this match becomes more than just a match with a random stipulation to determine who gets a title shot.
Hernandez beat Jay Bradley by Pinfall in a Bound for Glory Series Match: I’m a fan of Chavo, but I like that they are at least building up something interesting that involves Hernandez. He seems like he’s been in a rut ever since he teamed with Chavo, and a potential split or heel turn could breathe new life into his character. As far as the match goes, it was by default the worst fight of the night (1/2).
TNA Tag Team Champions James Storm and Gunner beat The BroMANS: As hard as I have been on James Storm in this column, I’m actually enjoying his in-ring work with Gunner. However, the tag team division is pretty much non-existent outside of the champions. They knocked off the BroMANS this week, but now what? Bad Influence are tied up, Hernandez and Chavo might be splitting, and Roode and Aries are in the BFG series. TNA is either going to have to make some new teams, bring in new talent (unlikely, given the recent budget cuts), or find ways to balance the BFG Series with the tag team division. The match up was just okay for my taste (*1/2).
The Main-Event Mafia Segments: The introduction of Magnus had me intrigued, as I am a fan of Magnus, but the segment was nothing more than a bunch of guys kissing each other’s asses. I also felt that they took away from the rub Chris Sabin could have gotten from beating Aries by being ringside during the main-event. I wasn’t a fan of the original Main-Event Mafia, and to be honest, I’m not too keen on it this time either.
Jeff Hardy beat Joseph Park by DQ in a Bound for Glory Series Match: TNA needs to decide if they are going to do the Park/Abyss reveal soon, or if they are going to slow burn it, because it seems like they have been flip-flopping on that issue. One week Joseph Park is nothing more than a comedy goober. The next, he goes into “Abyss Mode,” but then it’s back to normal the next week. Hopefully by having a competitive match with Hardy (2nd best fight of the fight in my opinion) and laying out the referee, a resolution is on the horizon in the near future (**3/4).
Why Did Ryan Howe Get Through to the Second Round of the Gut Check?: While I wasn’t impressed with the Big O, in kayfabe, why would he not go through to the next round? Could we at least get a little bit of explanation as to why the loser would get the opportunity instead of the guy who beat him? It doesn’t make sense without clarification.
Chris Sabin beat Austin Aries and Manik to win the TNA X-Division Championship: So last week, TJ Perkins revealed himself as the real suicide, and appeared as himself for the rest of the episode. I thought that the final minutes of the triple threat which exclusively focused on Sabin and Aries were great, even though the killing of Sabin’s finishers was a bit much. I haven’t bought into Chris Sabin as a main-eventer, but this helped a little bit, as he picked up a huge victory over Aries. It is also nice to see the X-Division getting a good amount of attention heading into Destination X. Although the payoff to the “Austin Aries is Suicide” mess was Chris Sabin getting a big victory, I still don’t think they went about this the right way. It did not need to be as convoluted or polarizing. Instead of building up a steady stream of momentum for Sabin, they briefly set him back, then put him back where he would have been anyway. In the end, the whole thing was basically an over-the-top plot devise that got us back to exactly where we were before (****1/4).
This week is tough to give a score to, as I really liked some of it, found some of it to be okay, and couldn’t stand other parts of it. The logic behind guys befriending Sting NOW because there is a label on it, Sting’s sudden character transformation, and the Manik character are going to be bothering me going into the foreseeable future. However, TNA did create some interesting new directions this week. AJ Styles looks intent on gaining points, Destination X seems pretty important, and Hernandez is going to get out of his rut. All in all, this week’s good outweighed this week’s bad.
Show Rating 6.0 (Average)
WWE Smackdown Review 7/5/13
The Friendzone: So CM Punk is facing Alberto Del Rio in the main event, and Paul Heyman thinks this is a bad idea when Punk could be resting for the Money in the Bank match. He also offers to accompany Punk to the ring at Money in the Bank to watch his back. Punk rejects both, reminding Heyman they’re just friends. A short, entertaining segment that also inches their storyline forward, which is something that happens all too little on Smackdown these days.
The Usos d. The Rhodes Scholars: The match didn’t have much to it, but it was a good enough showcase of the Usos, who are one of the more unique and enjoyable duos to watch in the ring in recent WWE history. The Shield’s post match promo was suitably intimidating as well. There wasn’t really enough substance in this to go into the right section, but it was undeniably effective (N/R).
Alicia Fox d. Kaitlyn: Briefly, when AJ came out to ringside and Kaitlyn just started to annihilate Alicia, I thought they were going to do a clever twist on the tired trope of “Wrestler A distracts Wrestler B allowing Wrestler C to pick up the win with a roll-up.” But instead, AJ distracted Kaitlyn, allowing Fox to pick up the win with a roll-up. This feud continues to flit between unpleasant and just plain boring (DUD).
Randy Orton d. Christian: This was so good! I’ve not seen a match as good as this. If they’d gone out and done a mere re-run of their 2011 feud I would have been happy enough, but they played off their familiarity with each other with some terrific counters and counter-counters and counter-counter-counters, making it a unique bout in its own right. I really liked the sequence when Christian sprang to the top rope looking for his sunset flip, which prompted Orton to position himself for the RKO, only for him to do it too early and allow Christian to counter that in turn. So many counters. Towards the end of the match it became a bit more of a conventionally structured match with the usual big moves and near falls, but this was still a terrific match, one of if not the best on Smackdown this year (***1/2).
Dolph Ziggler d. Drew McIntyre: Ziggler continues to be an intensely dislikeable face, with his pre-match promo essentially consisting of him saying “hey guys Del Rio tried to suck up to you, I would never do that because I’m cocky and arrogant, and also you’re all waaaaaaaay too smart for that, you bunch of geniuses, have you ever considered joining MENSA? Gosh, you’re all so smart. I love smart people. But I sure hate suck-ups, and I’m going to beat-up Del Rio for being one!” But the match was a fun spirited squash, and I am fond of Ziggler humiliating the Three-Man Band or as I like to call them the Three-Man Duds without laying a finger on them (*).
Fandango d. Justin Gabriel: Fandango’s fantastic, isn’t he? There’s not a moment when he isn’t 100% in character and positively reveling in playing it. His offence is quite fun as well. There wasn’t much to this match but FAAAAAANDANNNNNNGOOOOOO (DUD).
CM Punk N/C Alberto Del Rio: At just under ten minutes this match was a little shorter than most would have hoped, but it was enjoyable while it lasted and contained honest to god storyline advancement, which is something almost extinct on Smackdown. Punk snapping on Del Rio when he belted Heyman isn’t revelatory or anything, but it re-asserts the two’s friendship in a week that had called it into question. We all know where this angle is going, but if it continues to be carried by Punk, Heyman and Lesnar, with minimal involvement from Curtis Axel, then we should have a fun journey there (**1/2).
An enjoyable episode of Smackdown, thanks to the excellent bout between Randy Orton and Christian and most of the other segments at the very least not being given enough time to wear out their welcome. Not a ground-breaking episode of TV or anything, but probably a better watch than Raw this week.
Show Rating 7.5 (Good)