-I’ve heard that the WWE Creative Team worked overtime on this episode, so three hours will only feel like three hours this week!
-We are LIVE from Albany, N.Y. (“Hey guys, we’re not New York City, but we’re at least in the same state!”)
-The show opens with CM Punk and Paul Heyman staging a sit-in to protest last week’s terrible referee work. My God, it’s like they are parodying some sort of league with replacement referees! So referee Brad Maddox makes his way to the ring and apologizes but that’s not good enough for Heyman because he wants a resignation. Since when do live crowds care about referees?
Maddox hesitates on that so Punk flips out until Brad admits that AJ Lee hired him as a replacement referee (see?). Heyman presents Maddox with a blindfold emblazoned with a WWE and NFL logo. Wow, if I were Vince McMahon, I’d be really careful about that NFL logo…I’m sure they didn’t get permission to use it.
So GMAJ skips out to excuse the referee and refuses to apologize or reverse the decision from last week. Punk rightly assumes that AJ has it out for him because he refused to marry her, causing AJ to get upset and the crowd to start chanting “CM Punk” (I’m sure that’s EXACTLY what Vince McMahon wants to hear).
Heyman pulls Punk away to save him from the Board’s wrath and…proposes marriage to AJ? What the hell? Predictably, Heyman earns a smack to the face for his proposal and AJ storms off.
I have a question for all of my super intelligent readers: How in God’s name is this supposed to make CM Punk more of a heel? HE’S RIGHT! Punk claims John Cena doesn’t respect him and then Cena admits on TV that he doesn’t even though Punk beat him twice. Last week, Punk gets screwed in a match and the “babyface” GM simply laughs at him and refuses to do anything about it. No wonder the crowd is chanting for Punk, his character is 100 percent right.
-After a break, AJ gets all crazy and threatens Brad Maddox (Crowd: “WOOOOOO!”) AJ actually manages to work up some tears, too…easy there, girl.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston
This match was set up via TWITTER WAR! I think there was a Gotch-Hackenschmidt match in 1911 set up that way. Vickie Guerrero gets into an argument with Little Jimmy because Vince McMahon hates me and wants me to have an aneurysm.
It ends with R-Truth throwing a drink on Vickie and both of them get tossed backstage by the referee. After all that gaga, Kofi hits a bad dropkick and sends Ziggler to the floor where he follows with a somersault senton, taking us to a commercial break.
We return with Ziggler hitting a reverse exploder suplex for two…that would be a nice finisher for someone. Dolph catches Kofi with a neckbreaker for a near fall and scores with a standing dropkick for another two-count.
Kingston fights out of a chinlock and Ziggler whiffs on a corner charge, triggering the babyface comeback for Kofi. The Boom Drop connects and Kingston looks to finish but Ziggler counters and they exchanged finisher attempts. The sequence ends with Kofi on the top rope, where he connects with a clothesline for two.
Springboard cross body gets a near fall for Kingston but Dolph hits a Rocker Dropper out of nowhere for his own two count. Ziggler tries for the Zig Zag but gets caught and Kofi hits the SOS for a close two count.
The crowd was totally buying that one as a finish. In a really awesome sequence, both guys counter the other one’s top-rope maneuver and it ends with Kofi hitting a high cross body for yet another very close two-count.
Kofi misses on a Trouble in Paradise attempt and that’s the opening Ziggler needed as he sends Kingston into the corner and connects with the Zig Zag for the win.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
-A really good TV match as both guys worked solid and had the crowd in their hands for the entire finishing sequence ***1/4.
-Michael Cole and JR discuss John Cena’s elbow surgery and promise an appearance for later on.
-Recap of Kane and Daniel Bryan’s continuing soap opera from Smackdown. By the way, I’m totally stealing the name Hell No for their team from one of the readers last week.
-Meanwhile, Dr. Shelby forces Kane to wait on Bryan at a diner and, of course, Daniel abuses him. Kane threatens to dunk Bryan’s head in the fryer in return. I tell you what, I hated them at first but these skits are hilarious.
-NOOOOOOOOOO, as soon as I legally steal a name to use for Bryan and Kane, WWE holds a contest to name their tag team. See, I told you Vince McMahon hates me.
-Criss Angel is apparently the “social media ambassador” for tonight…he’s still alive?
The Prime Time Players vs. Santino Marella and Zack Ryder
Both babyfaces are former US champions and now they are glorified jobbers…coincidence? Ryder flapjacks Young to start but misses a cross body attempt and Young works a chinlock. Black John Cena fails on a back suplex attempt and Ryder gets the hot tag to Santino, who hits his headbutt for two and triggers a brawl. Titus tags himself in behind Santino’s back and quickly hits a sitout spinebuster for the pin.
Winners: Prime Time Players
-Remember when I called Ryder and Santino “glorified jobbers”? Forget the “glorified” part and just call them jobbers 1/2*.
-MICK FOLEY makes a surprise appearance to rail against CM Punk, which of course immediately brings out the WWE champion. Punk tells Mick to shut up and demands respect but Foley voices his concerns for Punk aligning himself with Paul Heyman.
The cheap-heat tactics from Punk come off as pretty desperate, considering he’s doing everything short of screaming “SHUT UP FATBOY!” at the front row to get heel heat.
So Foley rattles on about Paul Heyman until he comes to his point: If Punk wants respect, he has to earn it in Hell in a Cell against John Cena. Punk rightfully says he doesn’t have anything to prove considering he already beat Cena in his hometown of Boston, so he tells Foley to get lost.
Punk says he doesn’t need Hell in a Cell to gain respect because he’s already beaten Cena countless times and he’s been champion for over 300 days.
Foley goes nuts and says days are just a statistic, so Punk can either be just another statistic or be a legend. He tells Punk to make his decision about Hell in a Cell for himself and his legacy. When you absolutely need an intense promo to get an angle over…call Mick Foley. Great segment.
-Admit it, there was part of you that marked out for Jim Ross talking about “Mrs. Foley’s baby boy” again.
The Miz vs. Ryback
This is only the third match and we’re an hour and 20 minutes into the show. My spider senses are tingling and saying there’s NO WAY we are getting a clean finish here.
Miz tries a cheap shot, but that only pisses Ryback off and he floors the IC champ. Ryback launches him across the ring and powers out of Miz’s reverse DDT with a powerslam. Ryback manhandles Miz, causing him to take a powder and Ryback gives chase.
He dumps Miz back inside but Miz catches him with a kick and hits a short DDT for two. Do you know how redundant it is when you have two workers with only one name each?
Ryback recovers and hits a spinebuster to set up the CLOTHESLINE OF DEATH as some dumbass fan tries to rush the ring and gets tackled. I hate morons like that, I hope they tase him. Anyways, Ryback hits his Muscle Buster and the pin is academic.
-Well, I was wrong about the clean finish because I thought there was no way WWE would turn Miz into a jobber for Ryback. Oh well…can’t win them all. *1/4 for the squash.
-Meanwhile. Kane and Daniel Bryan weirdly recreate the diner scene from "When Harry Met Sally" and Mae Young makes a cameo. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say the under-15 target audience has NO IDEA what that was supposed to be.
-Backstage, GMAJ gives a pep talk to the referees and books Sheamus, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara against Alberto Del Rio, David Otunga and Ricardo, who gets a little to excited for his own good.
Wade Barrett vs. Tyson Kidd
Poor Tyson. Kidd kicks away at the midsection and goes to the head with a dropkick for two but Barrett hits a mule kick to take over. A big boot sends Tyson to the floor, where Barrett introduces him to the ring apron the hard way. Kidd gets a surprise rollup coming back in but Barrett quickly ends that with a spinning side slam and hits the Souvenir (his new name for the short-arm forearm) for the win.
Winner: Wade Barrett
-Total squash *1/4.
Jerry Lawler Interview
The crowd gives the King a great ovation and Jerry still has a raspy voice from having a tube down his throat for a few days. He reveals he barely remembers his own match from the show and only recalls waking up in the hotel room, thinking he was in Aruba.
Lawler makes a joke saying that sitting next to Cole for three hours caused his heart attack but he won’t be able to return until his doctors clear him. A classy interview by Cole and it’s absolutely great to see the King is such good spirits after a close call.
David Otunga, Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Sheamus, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara
We take a commercial break after introductions to waste more time and return with Sheamus taking out Otunga with a shoulder tackle off the apron. Otunga floors Sin Cara and tags in Ricardo but that doesn’t go well and Del Rio is force to use a cheap shot to get two. Ricardo is wrestling in his tuxedo tonight, which is a cute touch.
Del Rio checks in cleans up Sin Cara wit a stomp before trying to rip Cara’s mask off. Ricardo wants back in, though, and Cara uses flying headscissors for the double KO. Mysterio gets the hot tag and Rey beats Del Rio down for two. Mysterio heads up but Del Rio quickly pops up and hits an enzuigiri for two. Ricardo comes back in but doesn’t fare very well, so Del Rio delivers another enzuigiri for a near fall.
Mysterio counters Del Rio and rolls though for a dropkick to the face, getting the hot tag to Sheamus and allowing him to beat the hell out of David Otunga. JR works in a Mr. Wrestling II reference as Sheamus misses a pump kick and Otunga desperately tags in Ricardo.
Rodriguez tries to run for his life but gets trapped in the ropes and takes the forearm shots. Mysterio hits the poor manager with the 619 and takes out Del Rio with a huracanrana outside the ring. Sin Cara adds a Swanton Bomb and that’s enough to finish Ricardo.
Winners: Sheamus, Rey Mysterio, and Sin Cara
-Did the babyface team even attempt to tag during that last sequence? Decent match but nothing we haven’t seen before **1/2. Sheamus delivers a Brogue Kick to Otunga after the match because he’s a jerk.
-Back to Kane and Bryan at the diner as Dr. Shelby tries to force Kane to eat Bryan’s salad and Daniel has to eat Kane’s spaghetti with meatballs. Kane gives a computer-aided burp and Bryan vomits in Shelby’s lap.
-The choices for the Kane-Bryan team are Team Teamwork (stupid), Team Hell No (meaning my faithful reader stole HIS idea too), and Team Friendship (also stupid)…pretty clear to me what the winner should be.
-So after a break, the Twitter poll gives Bryan and Kane the team name of Team Hell No but they are quickly attacked by Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow. Rhodes and Sandow quickly christen their tag team the Rhodes Scholars which is fairly decent. Well, at least we have a feud for Team Hell No now.
Layla and Alicia Fox vs. Eve and Beth Phoenix
Does anyone in WWE realize that Layla’s entrance music is about how she can’t get enough sex? That’s not exactly TV-PG, is it?
Layla beats on Beth and hits a cross body for two then adds a facebuster. Alicia comes in with a dropkick and she rolls up Beth for two. Phoenix stops her with a powerslam and hits a slingshot suplex. Eve comes in with a spinning neckbreaker and that’s enough to complete the squash.
Winners: Beth Phoenix and Eve
-Total squash 1/4*. Post-match, Kaitlyn limps out and using her “acting” to reveal that whoever attacked her at Night of Champions had blonde hair. This causes Eve to take out Beth with a neckbreaker because she’s…a nice person? Does anyone really care about this storyline AT ALL?
Brodus Clay vs. Tensai
Just please, let it be quick. They battle over a lockup and Tensai hammers away in the corner but he runs into a headbutt. Clay tries an overhead judo throw but it’s botched and both guys miss splashes. Thankfully, Big Show makes his return (there’s something I never thought I would type) and punches out both guys…so much for that.
-Total DUD…does this mean I have to sit through ANOTHER Big Show push? Please, I’ve suffered enough.
Main Event Interview
John Cena walks to the ring to thank everyone for their support of the Susan G. Komen cancer fund. After all that, Albany fans still boo him…isn’t that nice?
Anyways, Cena gets all emotional and looks like he might actually give a serious interview but nope, he censors his curse words like a 6-year-old. That really bugs me about him. Cena promises to be ready to wrestle at the Hell in a Cell PPV but that, again, draws out CM Punk.
Punk tells Cena he should be a politician because he’s very good at character assassination. However, the point is that Cena gets way too many title shots (AMEN!), so Punk won’t be facing him at Hell in a Cell.
Punk goes to some more cheap-heat tactics but then changes course and threatens to Cena more if he doesn’t leave the ring immediately. Punk gives Cena five seconds to leave the ring but makes the mistake of turning his back and Cena attacks him with a lead pipe…and he’s supposed to be a BABYFACE?
Backstage, Punk runs into Mick Foley and boots him in the gut. He turns around to gloat but Ryback stares him down as we fade to black.
The show was below average to average tonight, mostly because I am totally baffled how they booking this Punk-Cena feud. I don’t care that they are actually feuding again but the booking is so ass-backwards that it makes no sense.
Punk keeps getting screwed over at every turn like a babyface and Cena keeps acting like a heel, so there’s zero heel heat on Punk and Cena gets his usual reaction. It honestly makes your head hurt if you think about it too much.
I am interested to see where they go with the Punk-Ryback thing at the end though because Punk sold it like he saw the devil himself when he stared at him.
Finally, kudos to WWE for abandoning the heel Michael Cole character, it was actually refreshing to hear him as a plain old announcer again.
To summarize, it was a little below par this week. Too much backstage stuff and the booking of the main event didn’t really make sense to me. Ah well, maybe they will rebound next week.