So it’s the final push to WrestleMania, the Rock is in the building, I have a half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out and I’m wearing sunglasses.
LIVE! from Chicago, IL (see what I did there?)
We open with Chicago-native CM Punk sitting in a darkened ring and garnering a very positive reaction. He attempts to turn those cheers into boos, with moderate success, and we recap the events of last week, with Punk torturing the third actress playing Orton’s wife. It’s a shame this character has to be sacrificed in the name of “Stone Cold” Randy Orton.
Orton attacks with his injured knee and still manages to hit the Hangman’s DDT on Punk. However, in a move that is almost Sting-level stupid, Orton attempts the PUNT OF CERTAIN DEATH and his knee gives out. Punk toys with him for a bit and hits the GTS to gain the upper hand for now.
Decent segment, but Orton didn’t need to hit that DDT.
In a legit markout moment, Edge dusts off the old trenchcoat and reunites with Christian on Raw for a tag match.
Edge & Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio & Brodus Clay
E&C should have gone full monty and entered through the crowd. Edge hammers away on Clay and the faces double team Man Boobies to the delight of the crowd. Clay ends up on the floor like a goof and we take a break…
We return with Del Rio in charge of Christian and he goes all heel against the ropes. Clay tags in but gets tired in about 30 seconds, so Del Rio comes in with an elbow off the second rope for two.
Christian gets a desperation tornado DDT and gets the hot tag to Edge, who cleans house on Clay and preps a spear. Del Rio interrupts, but Christian distracts him long enough for Edge to recover and hit the spear for the pin on Clay.
Winners: Edge & Christian
Del Rio, dastardly heel, locks the cross armbreaker on Christian outside the ring and then runs like a coward when Edge arrives. But, it’s all a SWERVE, as Del Rio sneaks up behind Edge and he also tastes the cross armbreaker. Good segment to maintain Del Rio’s heat, match was standard stuff *1/2.
...Another Scream movie? Is that really necessary?
The Anonymous GM checks in and books Jerry Lawler against Jack Swagger for later tonight…obvious booking point there. Simple,, but effective.
Another Triple H vs. Taker hype video, this one with music from The Punisher movie starring Thomas Jane that NO ONE saw, but I thought it was pretty good. Considering I just watched the new WrestleMania DVD today and HHH was quoted as saying no one should end Taker’s streak, I don’t like his chances on Sunday.
Justin Gabriel vs. Santino Marella
Kane and Big Show are at ringside just because. Santino gets distracted by the Corre and eats a spinning heel kick for two. Santino makes the babyface comeback and preps the Cobra, triggering a brawl at ringside and Gabriel goes down for the 1-2-3.
Winner: Santino Marella
Jobbing to that move has to be one of the most embarrassing moments of Gabriel’s career. Match was three moves DUD. It gets a sentimental * for Kane’s Santino celebration at the conclusion of the match.
...I don’t know who Keri Hilson is.
Undertaker makes his entrance for a showdown with Triple H, and I realize that I may have liked him more if he used Johnny Cash for his entrance music from the beginning. Taker immediately earns Triple H’s ire because he INTERRUPTS THE WATER SPIT…oh it’s on now, bitch.
Shawn Michaels makes his return to television to a big pop, sending my wife into a tizzy. You knew he couldn’t stay away during WrestleMania. In a twist, HBK demands to know why Triple H thinks he can do what Shawn could not, earning an “OHHHH” from the crowd. Triple H declares Shawn soft, and says HBK didn’t need to win every night while Hunter always does.
Triple H cuts his standard promo and says Taker will be 18-1…hey, maybe they can get the same shirts the New England Patriots got in 2008!
Taker states his response and verbally clowns Shawn Michaels, causing HBK to try for Sweet Chin Music, but Triple H breaks them up. Hunter then wants Shawn to tell everyone why he’ll win, but HBK just leaves the ring in silence….very nice.
You can always tell when you’re watching a good angle because it gets you excited for a match where you’re already 99.9% sure of the outcome.
Jack Swagger vs. Jerry Lawler
It’s not a good sign for your career when you need to get a rub from Michael Cole to get some heat. What’s up with Lawler’s new entrance theme? When did that change?
Lawler goes after Cole but gets jumped from behind and hit with a pump splash. Swagger drags Lawler around the outside of the ring but Lawler is all like “screw this” and grabs a chair. He beats the hell out of Swagger, but then sees Cole out of the corner of his eye. In a smart move, Cole retreats into his Cole mine, causing security to intervene and Lawler to take coffee to the face.
Winner by DQ: Jack Swagger
Match was a complete angle and I’m fine with that DUD. I will say this again, Michael Cole deserves to be booked to take the biggest ass-kicking in the history of wrestling on Sunday. Those fans are going to want his blood and WWE would be smart to deliver it.
Dolph Ziggler & Sheamus vs. John Morrison & Daniel Bryan
Vickie Guerrero, mocking John Morrison’s entrance, earns her typical EXCUSE ME heat while trying to cut a promo against Snooki. Can’t wait to see the bar segment where Snooki was falling down drunk and telling everyone she’s going to be a WWE Diva once Jersey Shore goes off the air.
Sheamus beats down Morrison to start and hits the Irish Curse for two, taking us to commercial.
We return with Morrison still getting his ass kicked by Sheamus, but John kicks his way out of a submission hold to make the hot tag to Daniel Bryan. Josh Matthews stops to cut a K-Mart promo during Bryan’s big spots, but Bryan still locks Ziggler in the LaBell Lock anyways.
Sheamus returns to break up the hold and all hell breaks loose until Sheamus is left Bryan. American Dragon takes a nice bump into the corner on a blind charge and Sheamus hits the Razor’s Edge to get the win.
Winners: Sheamus & Dolph Ziggler
The heat segment was cut out by commercials, so not much to see here *1/2. Still, it’s all about the build, not the workrate.
Meanwhile, Randy Orton cuts a promo with some joke announcer.
The final inductee to the Hall of Fame this year, as expected, are the Road Warriors. Well, whenever you have a pop named after you, I’d say you deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Speaking of drunks, Snooki cuts a drunken promo on LayCool from a bar in Jersey and slaps a guy. LayCool makes their presence known and a bar brawl breaks out. This looked like it was edited down to nothing thanks to Snooki being plastered.
Main Event Interview
The Rock enters to a monster pop as expected and earns a thunderous “Rocky” chant from the always hot Chicago crowd. He lets everyone know that Chicago was the site of his first WrestleMania match (WrestleMania 13 against the Sultan, aka Rikishi) and puts over Team Bring It. Let’s just say that Chicago is not the home of the John Cena Fan Club. Just another absolutely awesome promo from the Rock, helped by an AMAZING live crowd.
Cena finally answers the call, and works the crowd pretty well, really putting over the Rock in the process. Eventually though, Cena turns and plays the race card in a very polite, PG manner and says he’s proud his fanbase is full of 12 year old kids. While it sounds stupid, it’s actually a really good, emotional promo, but it fails to turn the live crowd at all.
The talking seems to be done and the two square off, but the Miz decides this is a good time to make an entrance. Miz’s promo, obviously, can’t measure up to what we just heard, but he does alright. The champ challenges the Rock to do something other than talk and the heels attack.
Rocky fends off Alex Riley and gets rid of Miz after a People’s Elbow. And, in case the crowd didn’t hate him enough, John Cena sneaks up from behind and delivers an Attitude Adjustment to lay out the Rock.
This is pretty much one night out of the year where the workrate doesn’t matter because it’s all about hyping the hell out of the biggest event of the year.
The booking made sense and the Rock-Cena segment was smoking hot with heat. Will I buy the show? Absolutely, but I buy it every year. However, I do believe that the casual wrestling fans are legitimately interested this year and the buyrate will reflect that.
See you after WrestleMania.