Hello, wrestling enthusiasts, and welcome to the very latest WWE vs. TNA article, in which every week, I recap, analyse and review the main output of the top promotions and pick a winner.
It's been a busy week for both, as TNA had its Final Resolution pay-per-view and the WWE had its last build before TLC. With all this going on and the effective climax of the year, it's sure to have been an exciting week, right? Let's have a look.
I've said before that I don't like Rob Van Dam as X-Division Champion because he's too high up the card and he's not enough of a high-flyer. It's no surprise that he defeated Kenny King (nor that it was a great match), but a face won't defeat RVD for the belt. No one will go over him clean, so it'll take a heel.
Unfortunately, largely down to the lack of TV time that X-Division contenders get, they're all fairly blank faces. The exception is Zema Ion, but he's been conclusively put away by Van Dam already.
The tag team championship match was very good. I never thought I'd be saying I find Matt Morgan impressive, but he's really playing a great part at the moment. The gold cape and trunks might be making all the difference. The ending of the match was a little flawed; the referee seemed to have counted to four before Morgan even pulled him out of the ring.
Austin Aries and Bully Ray might be the two best in TNA when it comes to great wrestling ability complimenting their perfectly-inhabited characters. It was inevitable that their ongoing storyline would play a part in the match, but there was some great action and I'm happy for their feud to continue. I just don't really want either of them to lose.
Tara defeated Mickie James in a match good enough to retain my interest throughout. It had a top turnbuckle dive to the outside, an enziguri and—most unlike the Divas of all—it didn't end with a quick roll-up pin.
The focus on Wes Brisco in the promo before the next match made me wonder if he'd turn to the Aces and Eights. He saved Kurt Angle from an attack previously, but that was before getting his TNA contract—though why that should make a difference, I don't know; it's not as if the Aces and Eights have kayfabe contracts. It would tie in to my guess last week that he was behind Al Snow's disappearance.
As it happened, the match progressed with no twists or surprises, just some good wrestling and a win for Team TNA. We'll have to wait longer for any real developments with the Aces and Eights, but my metaphorical money is still on Wes Brisco turning.
Christopher Daniels defeating AJ Styles was cause for great joy for me. Quite aside from the absolutely brilliant match (one of TNA's best of the year), Daniels is my favourite in TNA. I hope this will take him all the way to the title.
TNA really tries to make Jeff Hardy interesting. They make video packages, they let him clown around with face paint and they've had those dreadful promos every week where we hear his thoughts. His nickname is the Charismatic Enigma despite being neither charismatic nor enigmatic. He's a great wrestler, and that's good enough in my view. He can have his colours and face paint, but the rest should go. Instead, they decided to let him come to the ring in the stupidest mask I've ever seen. It's all too silly.
Jeff Hardy vs. Bobby Roode got off to a workmanlike start, but by the time of the outside guardrail spot, it was really buzzing. A real shame, then, that the end was so predictably stupid.
Final Resolution didn't have a bad match and had an absolute classic in Daniels vs. Styles. It was certainly a lot better than Survivor Series and gives TLC a lot to live up to.
Raw opened with a promo in which nothing new happened or was said, until Sheamus proved he's the job's face by pushing over the ladder defenseless Dolph Ziggler was on. I take it be a star is a thing of the past now.
We were next treated to another promo in which Vince McMahon led Vickie Guerrero into creating matches she wouldn't want to, and as with last week's version, not an iota of amusement or entertainment value was generated.
R-Truth defeated Wade Barrett, marking the moment at which Barrett's credibility as a potential main eventer was lost for at least the next year.
Another bit of the show passed without much to recommend until Michael Cole stated that a TLC match being decided by pinfall or submission was the interesting thing about it, rather than that being a contradiction of the concept. It was revealed that The Shield vs. Team Hell No and Ryback would be the TLC main event, leaving the opportunity to add some prestige to the World Heavyweight Championship unexploited.
It would take an awful lot for me to summon any interest for a Sheamus vs. Ziggler match, being as we've seen it so many times. As such, it's to their credit that I found it quite engaging. I saw the final Brogue Kick into the chair coming a mile off, though. It's something that happens every time and which we just have to accept about pro wrestling, but why stop hitting someone with a weapon and give them a chance to get up and counter?
Vickie Guerrero defeated AJ Lee with the unexplained refereeing of Brad Maddox, who is good value just because of his facial expressions. AJ then started throwing things around in a manner reminiscent of Kane after losing to Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam. Maybe AJ will go into anger management and form a successful tag team with Vickie.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston was a brilliant match with a result I approve of wholeheartedly. Cesaro is not only a great wrestler, but has a very unique style with it. His gimmick may need adjusting, but he's quite ready for the move up to main event level when required.
The Rhodes Scholars were on Miz TV. The segment was a lot of fun with three great talkers, and it's great to see Cody Rhodes back—though his moustache looks very silly. Though they were clearly outmatched, The Rhodes Scholars did win their previous title match by disqualification, so you'd think they were due another shot without having to compete for it.
John Cena vs. The Big Show contained some very egregious superCena heroics—the worst we've seen for quite a long time. I really hoped he'd stay down just to maintain some semblance of realism. The final descent into a brawl was the best of its kind that the WWE (or TNA, for that matter) has done for a very long time, and Ryback throwing a ladder to take out three men was very unique.
Raw was on, and the time passed and it ended—and aside from the Vince and Vickie promo, none of it bothered me. There were some matches and segments I didn't mention because they were so devoid of any interest, but on the whole, Raw was a surprisingly good show. I wouldn't have thought it possible to get me hyped for The Shield at TLC, but I am.
Impact's opening promo revealed someone had paid Aces and Eights more than Bobby Roode had at Final Resolution. The potential intrigue of that didn't stay with me for very long, as I was then struck by how ridiculous it was that about six men were chased away by two—one of whom was Jeff Hardy.
During Jeff Hardy and James Storm vs. Doc and another Aces and Eight (it'd be much easier if they all had names), commentary once again name-checked WWE, mentioning Hardy's World Heavyweight Championship reign there. It must be a deliberate policy, to go from never mentioning the other lot to mentioning them almost every show. I suppose they don't have much to lose by doing it.
Kenny King defeated Rob Van Dam with his feet on the ropes and then exhibited more personality than every other X-Division undercarder combined (excluding Zema Ion) by smiling and doing a little dance.
Bully Ray gave a fantastic performance acting-wise in a backstage promo with Hulk Hogan. I completely bought into his angry exasperation. It was fantastic. Bully Ray then defeated Jesse with no trouble. Jesse did throw a very nice dropkick, though, to his credit.
The show ended with the possibility of a championship match next week between Hardy and Austin Aries. And surely they wouldn't just tease it if it won't happen?
Impact was fairly enjoyable and pacy. King vs. RVD was good, though one more high-quality match would have made the show much more memorable.
SmackDown opened with The Big Show vs. R-Truth, the biggest surprise of which was that it went on for longer than a minute.
The Usos were given a strong showing against The Rhodes Scholars, who needed to grab the tights to win. I'd be saying "Wow, I'm glad they're getting a push, but why now?" had it not practically been said outright on Raw that they were being pushed because they won a poll on wwe.com.
The Big Show wanted the Chairs Match at TLC called off because Sheamus was pushed into him earlier, thus violating the no-contact rule despite not actually violating it as such (and not in the sense that it's all pretend either). The best thing to come out of this was David Otunga pointing out that Booker T was an ex-convict.
Team Hell No guested on Miz TV and were interrupted by a shaky cam promo from The Shield. My favourite one so far is Roman Reigns because he looks the part. Going by the same criterion, my least favourite is Dean Ambrose. Maybe he's like AJ Styles in that he looks like a very average guy (with much worse hair), but is actually an amazing wrestler.
The reason The Shield have failed to be interesting for much of this time is because we've never seen them wrestle, so to me, it's just three guys in black—one cool-looking, one OK and one with bad hair—displaying no distinct personalities and talking to a shaky camera about their own nebulous and ill-defined concept of justice. I very much hope TLC will move things along.
Kofi Kingston's defeat of Alberto Del Rio marked the conclusive decline of the Mexican Aristocrat, much as Wade Barrett's loss on Raw categorically set him away from the main event. Del Rio's not had much to do recently since losing his feud to Randy Orton, and now it seems they've definitely decided his new place on the card.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Sheamus closed the show. Cesaro won, though in the least surprising way possible: via countout, as Big Show distracted Sheamus by beating up William Regal. To give the WWE credit, while I thought it was pointless when introduced last week, they've convinced me in the no-contact angle.
SmackDown was a fairly quiet and perfunctory show. You wouldn't expect too much wrestling given away before the PPV, though you might expect more hype. Nevertheless, it mostly wasn't bad at least.
Show of the Week: WWE Raw
This excludes the TNA pay-per-view, as there's no competitive comparison, though I'd say it was the best PPV since Hell in a Cell. All three TV shows felt quite unspecial this week, though not bad. Sadly, though, there was a shortage of really good matches, perhaps allowable due to being either immediately before or immediately after the promotions' respective PPVs.
Match of the Week: Antonio Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston
Again excluding the PPV, there's no other choice for TV match of the week. I'm very happy to see Cesaro being seriously pushed, and he's one of the most exciting things around at the moment. I think his gimmick could use some work, though they've already stopped his "How to say I'm going to win in 12 languages" antics, so even that's less of an issue.
Thanks for reading and all comments, thoughts and opinions are appreciated.