Hello, and welcome to the latest article in my WWE vs. TNA series, where each week, I analyse and review the main output of both promotions and pick a winner.
This week, the WWE had its Survivor Series pay-per-view and a milestone in CM Punk's one-year title reign anniversary, while on TNA Impact, it was Open Fight Night. Let's take a look at what happened.
Survivor Series opened with a previously unannounced Survivor Series match in Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd and Brodus Clay vs. The Prime Time Players, Primo, Epico and Tensai. It was decent, if quite unbalanced in its result.
The Divas Championship match was surprisingly quite good. It told a story and had other qualities associated with good wrestling, but not usually associated with the Divas.
Antonio Cesaro should change his gimmick to stand-up comedian. He's very funny. He also thankfully won a very average match against R-Truth.
The despicably awful feud between Vicki Guerrero and AJ Lee sadly carried over onto the pay-per-view, where we're lucky enough to pay to see it. It was contemptuously bad, but then Tamina (who ought to have been Divas Champion by now) unexpectedly attacked AJ. It's a shame she didn't use a hammer like Doc in TNA.
The Big Show vs. Sheamus was a bit of a plodder, but it picked up after the very impressive Electric Chair spot. Disappointingly, though, it ended with silly referee-based booking, and we'll no doubt have to be subjected to another match between the two, which Sheamus will win.
Sheamus repeatedly struck Big Show with a chair afterwards, a clear indication they'll be having a Chairs Match. Around this time last year, they completely neutered Mark Henry by having him get disqualified to retain against The Big Show when he'd previously beaten him clean at Money in the Bank. If the WWE doesn't now go with Big Show as a coward (compared to Sheamus at least) rather than a monster I'll be surprised.
The main Survivor Series match was OK. It featured again Alberto Del Rio stupidly going to the top rope when there's no move he can do other than get dropkicked by Randy Orton. The spot's been done so many times, and it always takes me out of my suspension of disbelief. As soon as Orton indicated he was going for the punt kick, I knew exactly how it would end because he and Dolph Ziggler did exactly the same spot in a match on Raw last year. It was far better executed then as well.
Before the main event, we were treated to some fan Touts. I can't believe the WWE would air these and actively perpetuate the notion that wrestling fans are incredibly stupid. Shame on them.
During the Triple Threat WWE Championship match, after Ryback had gone through the table and CM Punk reversed the Attitude Adjustment into the Go-to-Sleep, not a single part of me thought John Cena wouldn't kick out. That is the problem with John Cena, and only Cena—confirmed by the fact that when Cena hit the AA on Punk, I did think there was a genuine chance he wouldn't kick out.
Predictably, with Ryback not being able to afford the loss, they came up with some other way of keeping him out of it. Oddly, it's John Cena who took the role of being pinned pretty much cleanly in the same way as The Big Show at SummerSlam.
The Rock waiting at the Royal Rumble killed all excitement for the WWE Championship over the past few months. It could only be either Punk or Cena facing him, and more likely Punk after he attacked The Rock at Raw 1000. We've got TLC to come of course, but I think we can be pretty sure Punk will hang on to the strap until the Rumble. At which point The Rock, of course, will win the title.
What let down Survivor Series was the silly endings for both title matches and an average titular match. Had any one of these things been different, it might have been more memorable. Instead, we had a PPV so pointless that it may as well have not happened at all.
Raw opened with a Ryback promo, and his first proper one beyond just uttering phrases if I recall correctly. He talks entirely in hunger metaphors. We were then treated to Ryback vs. Tensai, and the crowd of course missed its opportunity for a "Let's go Goldberg! Let's go Albert!" chant.
Wade Barrett and Kofi Kingston had a fairly good match, but with Barrett saying he wants to compete for the Intercontinental title, I suppose that means he's certainly nowhere near the world title picture now.
Antonio Cesaro got Brodus Clay up for the Neutralizer, which was impressive. Less impressive was how he got him down again.
I'm not great at judging these things, but I hope it's X-Pac heat that the Vicki Guerrero and AJ Lee segments are getting. They're absolutely agonising and probably the worst thing ever broadcast.
The Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio two out of three falls match was a bad bit of overbooking. It was engaging while it was on, but only to see if it really would be as predictable as I expected. There was nothing we hadn't seen before.
The Great Khali defeated Primo and Epico in a matter of seconds, as Hornswoggle did some slapstick comedy with Rosa Mendes on the outside. And it was even worse than it sounds.
Things didn't show much sign of improving, as we next saw David Otunga in the ring. His match with The Miz wasn't as bad as I expected, but my expectations were very low indeed.
Sheamus delivered a promo about how angry he was regarding how Big Show had ended the previous night's match. All The Big Show did was take advantage of the situation, just as Sheamus did against Alberto Del Rio at SummerSlam. It's pretty weak stuff, and it's a shame that, after their fantastic match at Hell in a Cell, the feud has become this.
Sheamus unsurprisingly defeated Damien Sandow in a good match—albeit not quite as good as the last time they met.
Has anyone noticed how silly Sin Cara's entrance video is? It looks very amateur and dated, and very similar to Dude Love's with the way he swoops in over a fixed background. Look them both up and you'll see what I mean.
Team Hell No had a reasonable match with Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara, but it was upstaged throughout by the Prime Time Players on commentary and the etymology of the word "washrag." Titus O'Neil is so good on the mic, I wonder why the WWE thought they needed AW in the first place—but I suppose Titus can't talk while he's in the ring.
CM Punk's celebration of his title reign was terrifically entertaining, especially his mime artistry. Of course, Ryback came out, and the three from NXT who'd attacked him the previous night did it again. But Punk's miming was the best bit.
Raw was poor for most of the show, but things picked up entertainment-wise from the last tag team match through to the end. The rest was all things we'd seen before or things we hadn't that turned out to be even worse.
On Impact, it was Open Fight Night, and it was even more special than usual, as it featured former Gut Check contestants—not that I could remember most of them.
The opening match was Wes Brisco's Gut Check. And he won, which is a first for a Gut Check contestant—but then, it was against Garrett Bischoff.
A couple more matches featuring the Gut Checkers followed, as Matt Morgan interfered in Joey Ryan vs. Chavo Guerrero and Sam Shaw called out and defeated Alex Silva.
The Aces and Eights ate Thanksgiving dinner together, which was sweet. They're just like The Waltons really. Of course, we didn't actually see them eat because most of them wear masks that cover their mouths.
Christian York called out Jeff Hardy and they had a close match, which was pretty good. Taylor Hendrix then lost another fairly close match to Tara.
Jesse lost a match and had to wear a turkey suit. The hilarity never started. In an abrupt change of tone, the Aces and Eights entered to some pantomime booing and attacked Eric Young with a hammer.
AJ Styles vs. Kazarian was a great little match, though a few minutes more and no Kazarian clowning around with the referee would have made it even better still.
The show ended with Austin Aries calling out Brooke Hogan and insinuating she's in a relationship with Bully Ray. Sadly, no match or real action followed, and the show seemed to end with a whimper rather than a bang.
Impact was enjoyable, but felt quite low key—especially compared to last week's episode. Of course, when the lion's share is given over to previous Gut Check contestants and a turkey suit match, that's probably unavoidable.
The show opened with the best segment yet in the AJ Lee and John Cena scandal—damning with faint praise perhaps, but it was at least watchable through the prism of Miz TV. Dolph Ziggler getting involved before Vicki Guerrero made all the difference; Vicki Guerrero is an effective heel, but when it comes to talking for any length of time, Dolph's better for this kind of thing.
It looks like we're headed for John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler, and I'm guessing Cena's knee injury may be used to give Ziggler the win so he looks strong and ready for the World Heavyweight Championship, while Cena has an excuse to lose.
Ryback defeated Darren Young and then Shell Shocked Titus O'Neil. Even in the very short time it was on, Titus was very entertaining.
Antonio Cesaro finally seems to be over as a heel, and he's very funny doing it. His momentum may be significantly dented by being so quickly defeated by R-Truth, but time will tell.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Sin Cara in a good match. It would have been even better with the lights on.
The Big Show vs. Team Hell No was interesting. I've noticed that since they're becoming a team, Kane has been far more protected than Daniel Bryan, and this continued to confirm that. The conclusion of Sheamus yelling at The Big Show, who couldn't hear him, was unintentionally funny.
Wade Barrett commentating on Kofi Kingston vs. Damien Sandow was a big clue that Sandow wouldn't be winning the Intercontinental Championship, considering how Barrett has both the title and Kingston in his sights. This was a bit of a shame, as without Barrett's presence, the match would have been genuinely unpredictable—Sandow has been strongly booked throughout his whole time so far in the WWE. In fact, Kofi went over Sandow quicker than Sheamus' first Raw encounter with him.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Randy Orton by pinning him while holding his tights. I like Ziggler, so I'll say it counts as a massive win. And he wouldn't, well, lose if he's about to feud with Cena.
SmackDown was a very good show. With the presence of John Cena, Ryback and Team Hell No in addition to its usual attractions of The Big Show, Sheamus, Ziggler and Orton, it felt more like an episode of Raw. Feeling like an episode of Raw isn't necessarily a good thing—that changes from month to month—but its shorter running time than Raw made for a succinct and entertaining show with some very good matches.
Show of the Week: WWE SmackDown
For new or non-regular readers of this series, Show of the Week excludes PPVs. Also, for those not acquainted, this is the first week in the series that SmackDown has won. It's not all down to low quality on the part of Raw and Impact either—Impact was pretty decent—but for the first time in quite a while, SmackDown was unequivocally good.
Match of the Week: Jeff Hardy vs. Christian York
Again, excluding the PPV, this is a difficult pick. There were good matches on all three shows, and as many as half a dozen were contenders, but I think Hardy vs. York was the most engaging to me.
Thank you for reading, and all thoughts and comments are appreciated.