Hi there, and welcome to the latest in my WWE vs. TNA series, where each week I analyse and review the output of each promotion and pick a winner.
This week the WWE had its Hell in a Cell pay-per-view and the subsequent fallout, while on TNA Impact it was Open Fight Night. Let's see how they got on.
The pre-show gave us something a little different in John Cena being interviewed by Michael Cole. Different, but not interesting. Dolph Ziggler also ran in to get thrown out again by Cena. With Ziggler being around in ring gear but not having a match, I suspected it was a clue that he might cash in.
The opening Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio was a really great match with some unique spots—much better match than I expected.
Del Rio going to the top rope to jump off without achieving anything was a real puzzle, though. I've pointed out before how, when he's gone to the top rope to do the same thing and take a dropkick counter from Orton, there's no possible move he could have been trying for. This confirmed it.
The tag team championship match was very good, and I didn't mind its ending too much because I could understand the reason. The rematch that will follow ought to mean more build between the two very entertaining teams—sometimes it's the journey and not the destination, and this is true of Team Hell No.
Kofi Kingston's defeat of The Miz perhaps suffered a little from having seen them face each other so many times recently. Well, twice, but that's quite a lot for a short space of time. The title change is conclusive at least.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Justin Gabriel was an excellent match. Their differing styles complimented each other for some great storytelling. Though the crowd was muted throughout, I loved it.
The Big Show vs. Sheamus was incredible. I could not believe these two men, both of whom I've been greatly critical of, managed to put on this absolute masterpiece.
As Sheamus kicked out of the Chokeslam and again out of the WMD, my heart sank as I foresaw a superman comeback. When Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick, my heart sank again. The storytelling was engrossing—in hindsight it's hard to believe I had such low expectation for one of the best matches of the year.
The Divas Championship Triple Threat even delivered some reasonable action. It's no great accolade, but I'd say it's the best Divas bout of the year. The Triple Threat dynamic certainly helped it.
Time and again, I say what I like to see in a match is something new. The resolution of CM Punk vs. Ryback was certainly that, but I was disappointed. The match up to that point had been all right with both men playing their parts well. That the biggest match and the only titular one ended like that is a waste.
At the same time, though, it kept me interested in what's going to happen next, but with only two PPVs left until The Rock at the Royal Rumble, this felt like the last chance for real change with the top strap.
Looking back at what I've said, maybe I seem a little Pollyanna. Maybe I was in exactly the mood for the show and that helped my enjoyment, but to my mind Hell in a Cell was the best PPV of 2012 so far for the WWE—despite the letdown of a main event.
CM Punk's opening promo was interrupted by Mick Foley. "This is a surprise!" said Michael Cole as Foley came to the ring, but we see so much of him that it isn't.
Randy Orton defeated Wade Barrett, which kills the latter's momentum stone dead. The match was OK, but considering how many matches they've had, you'd expect better than OK. I never want to see Orton vs. Barrett again for as long as I live.
Team Hell No defeated The Prime Time Players quickly and easily, despite the usual shenanigans on the part of the champions.
A pretty woeful in-ring segment featuring John Cena and Vicki Guerrero followed. Her evidence of Cena and AJ's affair featured a picture of them having dinner. It didn't even look that formal, considering Cena was in his t-shirt. After what felt like an eternity, Dolph Ziggler came out to sadly become tarnished by this debacle as well.
The excitement of a midcard Champion vs. Champion match came next, as Antonio Cesaro (whom I am interested in but the crowd isn't) faced Kofi Kingston (whom I'm not interested in but the crowd is slightly). It didn't last long as The Miz got involved and R-Truth made the save. Pretty uninteresting.
Two of the Three Man Band defeated Santino Marella and Zack Ryder. Expect world titles to follow.
AJ defeated Beth Phoenix, then Beth won when Vicki restarted it. Absolutely terrible. If Beth genuinely is fired, that's even worse again.
Sheamus and The Big Show delivered a far better promo than they'd managed before Hell in a Cell. The different dynamic now Sheamus is no longer champion has made him a little more interesting, helped greatly by the fact he's not an undefeatable superman.
The Rhodes Scholars defeated Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara in a good match with some good spots.
Paul Heyman provided possibly the best moment of the show just in the way he said "yes" in a backstage segment with Foley. Heyman is terrific value and a bit underused at the moment.
The show ended with the selections of Team Punk and Team Foley. I'm disappointed firstly that there's therefore not going to be a WWE Championship match at the next PPV (surely that kills a lot of drawing power), and secondly that it's a very predictable putting together of faces and heels. Now it seems Kane can happily team with Randy Orton and Punk with Del Rio. Very disappointing.
This was the worst Raw for some time. Nothing interesting happened, though plenty of uninteresting or outright stupid things did.
Impact's first segment started with Joseph Park calling out a member of the Aces and Eights and ended with Sting saying one would be unmasked. I hope it's someone I've heard of.
As it's Open Fight Night, Magnus called out Samoa Joe for a Television Championship match, saying he should be champion because he's better looking.
Rather than going through the whole routine of yet another bout between the two, Magnus just clubbed Joe with a spanner. Joe followed up with a promo suggesting a No Disqualification match and also spat and gobbed quite a bit.
Much odder than that, though, we were treated to another Jeff Hardy promo in which we hear his thoughts. I think they ought to stop these.
The always entertaining Christopher Daniels and Kazarian called out the Spanish announcing team. It's not entirely a non sequitur because one of them is Hector Guerrero, but I don't see why the other one was involved. And do Spanish announcing teams follow the play-by-play and colour combination?
This week's Gut Check guy lost his match when he really ought to have been given the win. If he's in his mid-thirties and they won't let him go over Zema Ion, why would he be worth hiring as someone who looks weak and doesn't have much time left in his career?
Jesse defeated ODB via roll-up pin after a predictable debacle.
Considering Jeff Hardy's internal monologue early when he wondered who'd call him out, he needn't have worried as it was Robbie E.
AJ Styles referenced the WWE's AJ in a promo (the second reference to the other lot in as many weeks) as he demanded a match against Bobby Roode. I was looking forward to that, but Hogan instead came out to announce a No. 1 Contender's match for Turning Point.
That's all well and good—and the added stipulation regarding whoever's pinned adds interest—but isn't anyone called out meant to accept the challenge on Open Fight Night?
So rather than Styles vs. Roode, we got a promo from Matt "midcard" Morgan and Joey Ryan calling Rob Van Dam a venereal disease. Sleazy is right. Ryan then defeated RVD due to interference from Morgan.
The last chance to redeem the show came in the shape of Bully Ray vs. Devon. So of course, it didn't go ahead, instead ending with some locker room vs. Aces and Eights brawling and Joseph Park unmasking Luke Gallows—though commentary didn't name him.
Impact was rubbish. A single proper match would have helped, but instead everything was geared towards advancing storylines that are mostly uninteresting anyway. A real shame.
SmackDown opened with an Impact-style storyline recap. I don't like it when Impact does it, and I liked it even less here—if only because it meant SmackDown won't be exempt from the John Cena and AJ affair angle.
The Miz's greatest gift to us, and moreso since his return, is that he tells it like it is. He pointed out in no uncertain terms how and why Kofi Kingston was so poor, for example. In the opening Miz TV segment, he interrupted Sheamus, demanding he spare us the usual clichés. It's been like he's getting his scripts from my head.
Darren Young defeated Sin Cara in a singles match. Sin Cara didn't have his mysterious (or at least, meant to be mysterious) singles match lighting, so that's probably why. Titus O'Neil, however, didn't defeat Rey Mysterio. Does this mean anything for the relative directions of the individual wrestlers involved? Probably not.
David Otunga spat coffee everywhere in a backstage segment as it was revealed The Great Khali would be returning tonight. I suppose it was too much to hope that the returning superstar would be Mark Henry.
After several encounters during October, it looked like another Groundhog Month as Randy Orton was set to take on Wade Barrett. As Alberto Del Rio came to join commentary at ringside, naturally I thought he'd be interfering in the match (it doesn't take special insight). It was a nice (if minor) surprise therefore that he interfered before the match started instead.
He distracted again at the finish, though. If they've got any big plans for Barrett (which looks unlikely now for the near future), they should give Barrett a clean win. And if they don't, they should stop giving us this same match twice a week.
The following backstage brawl was awful to watch. Ricardo Rodriquez's reactions to having coffee thrown over him implied he was scalded which I found quite unpleasant, and the general food fight didn't even qualify as low slapstick.
The loveable (if objectively dreadful) Great Khali defeated Otunga quickly as Natalya watched delighted from backstage. I got a nasty feeling watching that this hinted toward a romance angle between Khali and Natalya, a feeling seemingly confirmed after.
R-Truth defeated Justin Gabriel in a rare if pointless face vs. face match.
ShowMiz defeated Sheamus and Kofi Kingston in the main event. It wasn't that great.
SmackDown wasn't a particularly good show, but this is the first week since starting this series that I'd say it was better than Raw. That's sadly more a sign of low quality from the WWE's TV output this week than of any great improvement in the blue brand, however.
Show of the Week: TNA Impact
This excepts the PPV as the main purpose is to compare the TV shows. There's very little to choose between them, sadly not because they were good but because they were all pretty awful. Impact had a little more going on, and I disliked it slightly less, but really all the shows are losers this week.
Match of the Week: The Rhodes Scholars vs. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara
As above, the PPV is excepted, and the poor week for TV wrestling goes with a concomitant dearth of good matches. This tag match from Raw was pretty enjoyable, so it gets the nod.
Thanks for reading, and all comments are appreciated.