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HHH, theoretically a RAW Superstar, will be on Smackdown tonight to respond to The Undertaker, a Smackdown Superstar, made on RAW. It’s definitely Wrestlemania time. But it’s Edge, the champion, who opens the show and we get a long recap of Christian coming to Edge’s rescue last week. Edge reminds us he went through a lot to get here. A little bloody nose is not going to stop him. He wants Del Rio for a fight. Del Rio shows with Brodus Clay. Del Rio has one epic line “I’m the man who’s going to replace your legacy, with my destiny.” The two-on-one assault again draws Christian and I smell a tag match coming. But Brodus and Del Rio are too much for Christian as well. And here’s Teddy Long. Tag match, Edge and Christian reunite for the first time in ten years.

Kane is here and Wade Barrett runs him down before their one-on-one match. No other members of The Corre in sight. That lasts less than a minute before the rest of The Corre run in and blatantly attack Kane for the DQ. Ezekial Jackson is able to bring down Kane but Big Show lumbers in with a steel chair and drives them off. At least that was brief.

I spoke too soon. Kane and Big Show are now mid-match with Barrett and Heath Slater. We get some unremarkable wrestling then Jackson and Gabriel run in again for a DQ again. The Corre beat down Kane again and Show gets a steel chair again. Gabriel takes yet another chair shot but the real payoff is Show swatting the downed Kane with the chair to show they are not bosom buddies just yet. If you’re from my generation you just pictured Kane and Big Show in dresses and wigs. No mention that these two are former tag team champions.

Insanely long recap of Cole/JBL/Austin from RAW. Let me clear something up before I end this column. I hate Michael Cole the character. I think Michael Cole the performer is doing a good job doing what he’s told to do. His “why me?” routine after Austin showed up with well acted. Cody Rhodes returns to action and makes short work of JTG. He is able to Headbutt JTG with the mask, which has been cleared as legal apparel. He still hates people looking at him and no longer wants to be called “dashing.”

Michael Cole is about to interview John Cena. Cena does us all a favor and just grabs Cole’s mic. Miz should have stayed under the radar. If Miz is the face of the WWE then Cena will break the face of the WWE. Cena makes the mistake of giving Cole the microphone back before he leaves and that lets Cole go off with loaded pro-Miz questions. Cena grabs Cole by the lapel and Jack Swagger comes to his pupil’s rescue. Cena sells for a bit before the comeback. We tease an Attitude Adjustment on Cole but Swagger throws himself under the bus and he’s the one who eats it.

The Sin Cara promo is awesome. Lay-Cool are here as Layla is set for one-on-one action. And the claim is they have made up yet again. Kaitlyn is her opponent if any of you remember the NXT winner. This is a complete squash. They beat her down for good measure.

Rey Mysterio returns and faces Drew McIntyre. Rey actually makes Drew look good and this is the best match I’ve seen in a while now. Rey does get the win but Drew has nothing to be ashamed of. Cody Rhodes comes to the ramp to ask for his answer. Rey wore, wears and will wear his mask with pride when he beats Cody at Wrestlemania.

HHH has realized why HBK couldn’t beat The Undertaker. Emotion was his Achilles Heel. That won’t stop Hunter.

Christian cuts a cool little promo rhyming off things that have arrived since the last time Edge and Christian tagged together like iEverything, YouTube, Survivor and Jersey Shore. The match itself is fine. Christian gets beaten on for a while then finally tags Edge just as Del Rio tags Brodus. That avoids having Edge ever face Del Rio. They let Brodus stop a Spear with a Big Clothesline which shows they must have faith in Clay. It breaks down. Christian manages to throw Del Rio to the outside then hit a Tornado DDT on Brodus Clay. That sets up Edge for a Flying Elbow to pick up the pin. Del Rio is not pleased at this hitch in his destiny.

I don’t know if there are a lot of people in the US who watch just one of the two shows but do we need huge recaps of RAW every Smackdown. How about we trim Cole and JBL a little and give Kofi Kingston some screen time? Still I finally got to see some decent wrestling with the Mysterio match and the main event so I’ll just sign off while Im ahead.

Posted on March 13th, 2011 by Lucian | Comments Off on Wrestling Recap: WWE Smackdown Week Ending 3/13/11
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Wrestlemania draws ever closer. Stone Cold Steve Austin is in the house tonight. I’ll try to be nice. A HHH promo video leads off but it’s the gong of The Undertaker that kicks us off live. Taker’s heard the word on the street. Some people think HHH will be the one to beat him. But someone else thought they could do that and we get a promo of Undertaker and HBK’s battles over the past two Wrestlemanias in case we missed it. Undertaker does have a reveal though. The Wrestlemania match will be No Holds Barred.

Backstage Randy Orton tries to fight off Nexus but ends up going to sleep. Nexus drag him to the ring. They continue a mild beat down here and now the referees finally show up to end it. Otunga wants his match now and Orton manages to get to his feet only with the ropes. Otunga isn’t even entertaining fighting a man who isn’t fighting back. But Orton does his trademark RKO out of nowhere and beats Otunga. Mason Ryan tries for a beat down but yet another RKO ends his threat. Orton is able to keep Punk out of the ring. Punk tries to run to the side so Orton punts Otunga in the head.

Lawler is not on commentary tonight. Miz is boycotting the show tonight. But Christian is here. I guess the brand split is just out the window these days, eh? Christian is set to face Alberto Del Rio, who still has Brodus Clay with him. And Del Rio is demanding Christian beat Clay before he will agree to face him personally. Clay looks powerful here but loses to Christian’s Tornado DDT. But Del Rio immediately attacks and, as usual, the Cross Armbreaker does a lot of damage.

Nice Sin Cara promo, very minimalist. Sunny is going into the Hall of Fame? Awesome. Eve faces Nikki Bella tonight. At least it’s not at Mania. Eve has Gail Kim in her corner. Nice to know the best wrestler is just watching. Even Michael Cole doesn’t want to see this match; but only because he wants to introduce his referee. The ref actually catches the twin switch this time. That lets Eve hit some kind of Spinning Neckbreaker and retain her title. There was no good outcome here.

And now we have more Michael Cole. Michael Cole is not cowbell. Cole give hints to his ref and I manage to guess before they reveal it’s… JBL. For new fans, John “Bradshaw” Layfield was a long-term champion on Smackdown at a point when the cupboard was a bit bare. He spent time on color commentary as well. He’s a real life investment advisor and, last I heard, a Fox News commentator. I do not pay attention to Fox News. He is a pretty decent speaker, he has a style that he speaks sincerely and actually espouses decency. But it’s usually BS and delivered with smug superiority. And he runs down Lawler nicely.

But… as Cole put it, whoever signs the contract is the guest referee and here comes the breaking glass. Stone Cold Steve Austin has arrived. Austin hits his finisher, the Stone Cold Stunner, on JBL and steals his hat. Then he guzzles some beers. Cole is back on the announce desk complaining that his night has been ruined. He makes a big show about it but eventually he signs the contracts and takes the ref job at Mania. Man, they are really loading Mania with retired stars, aren’t they? Austin is the ref and that’s the bottom line, cuz Stone Cold said so. To cap it off he gives Cole a beer bath and wishes him luck in his match. JBL recovers enough for Austin to fake sharing a beer with him then hits a second Stunner. The problem with Austin is, to this day, he still has to put himself over everyone else. And I don’t mind Austin going over Cole, or JBL and possibly even Lawler. But if people think Jack Swagger will benefit by being Stunnered by Austin just because he shares the ring with him, I can’t say I share that opinion. Swagger tries to pep up Cole by promising to take out Austin. Yeah, right.

Lawler shows up so we can have a two-person announce team again. Does everyone remember we have a United States Champion? I wouldn’t blame you for forgetting. He’s facing Sheamus and God forbid it be for the title. It’s a non-match. Sheamus gets thrown out of the ring and lands on his ankle badly. He can’t beat the count and this went less than a minute. Here I was hoping we’d see a good match on RAW. Sheamus challenges Bryan for the title, next week, with his career on the line. Is Sheamus about to get the title or wind up back in the minors?

CM Punk has a match. We’ll see how short this is. The opponent is R-Truth who won a shot at the tag titles when his rookie won NXT. It’s short, but not offensively so, and the action is decent. Punk wins with his original finisher, the Anaconda Vice submission hold. I’m sure this will be match of the night; we may not even have another.

HBK speaks more on HHH. The video that goes with us gives us an actual shot of Shelton Benjamin, who is now in Ring of Honor. Just to annoy me more, Vickie Guererro shows up. Why are both TNA and WWE courting Jersey Shore guests? Aside from the fact that Jersey Shore beats them both in the ratings. Vickie is here to announce that Dolph Ziggler figured out there were two brands and got a job on RAW. I foresee a Ziggler/Cena feud in the near future. After Mania of course. Vickie joins color and reveals she and Dolph now have a purely business relationship. John Morrison gets fed to Ziggler in his debut. Vickie herself screws up and forget they are not together any more. This is about as good as the Punk/Truth match and a little longer. The anonymous RAW GM sends the first e-mail of the night and Lawler has to field it. The GM hired Dolph, not Vickie. Vickie has to fight for a job, next week, in a match against Trish Stratus.

We’ve gone into the overrun now and John Cena still has to deliver his “knockout blow” in response to The Rock. Maybe he should drink tiger blood. Cena’s blathering fake profanity is kind of cool. Cena accuses Rock of using a teleprompter. But his ragging on Rock for not showing up is becoming one note. Cena calls Rock a disgrace and says calling Cena out is bringing a knife to a gunfight. It’s been a very vocal crowd all night and they are quite split on Cena. Remember how Miz was boycotting? Well he smashes Cena in the face with his title belt to lay him out. Then he cuts an awesome promo about how the disrespect ends here and how he keeps laying out Cena and will do the same to The Rock if he actually has the guts to show up. He has to interrupt his catchphrase to hit a Skull Crushing Finale on Cena. Then he has the audacity to steal The Rock’s People’s Elbow maneuver before he finally finishes.

A couple of barely half-decent matches does not make for a great show. Cramming in all these legends is making the promos take over the show. After all, they can’t wrestle anymore so the focus has to be on them talking. Could we at least see Taker or HHH face somebody?

Posted on March 9th, 2011 by Lucian | Comments Off on Wrestling Recap: WWE Raw Week Ending 3/12/11
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I read something today that mentioned it’s rare for a rookie to win the Royal Rumble. The last one to do it was Brock Lesnar. So Del Rio’s win is a big deal. It seems to have already paid off as WWE may have signed Mexican superstar Mistico who resisted in the past due to WWE’s treatment of any luchador not named Mysterio. So the Road to Wrestlemania hits TV with tonight’s RAW. What of Booker T, Diesel and The Great Khali, who all appeared in the Rumble? Will John Cena seek revenge on The Miz? Will Orton have words for the New Nexus?

Well, we’re promised a rematch of Edge versus The Miz and, this time, there must be a winner. Royal Rumble winner Alberto Del Rio has a better excuse to be on this show now. Del Rio told us it was his destiny to win the Royal Rumble; but we never listen. Del Rio teases announcing which title he will challenge for which draws The Miz to congratulate him. The Miz wants to face him. Of course Edge was making fun of him last night. Edge called him a second rate JBL meets Tito Santana. Del Rio smells a rat. Not surprisingly, Edge is here too. And while Edge doesn’t like him or respect him he has no problem saying it to his face. Del Rio reveals he’s going after Edge at Mania. Edge hits him. Buut Del Rio comes back with a Jarrett like guitar shot and a Cross-Armbreaker to dot the i.

A pair of Nexi get a shot at the tag team champions. After Harris and McGuillicutty knocked off the champs last week it’s time for an actual title match tonight. Cue E-GM has something to puppet master  through Cole first. Tonight is a Raw Rumble match. 7 superstars and the winner will face the champ at Elimination Chamber. The other six will be in the Chamber match itself. Punk, Orton, Morrison, R-Truth, Sheamus, Jerry Lawler and John Cena. I hope Lawler wins because I’d hate the old guy to have to be in an Elimination Chamber. Now the tag match. McGuillicutty and Harris come out alone. That’s probably to allow the champs to retain without it seeming too unlikely. Because that’s just what happens.

Orton shows up and RKOs both Nexi. Oddly, the others don’t come out to aid them. Orton prepares to punt Harris in the head and that is enough to draw CM Punk (and the rest) to talk him down. Punk threatens consequences and repercussions. Orton ignores him then bails before the others can take revenge. Of the seven original Nexus members, one is in the New Nexus.

Ted Dibiase is out wanting Jerry Lawler’s spot. Cole actually comes to his partner’s defence. Well, sort of. Lawler points out he has yet to have a match at Wrestlemania. While that sucks, is now really the time? Does WWE need a senior’s division? Maryse ends up slapping Ted which leaves him open to a punch from Lawler. The crowd is totally behind Lawler.

We’re treated to a promo that can only be for The Undertaker with a date: 2/21/11. Daniel Bryan faces Tyson Kidd but all the attention is on The Bella Twins on commentary. Bryan gets a submission with the LaBelle lock before the catfight breaks out. I can get behind Gail Kim and Daniel Bryan as a couple they just need to move beyond the Bellas.

Time for The Miz and Edge’s rematch. I still think they are making far too little of this. Since Edge’s left arm and shoulder were targeted by Del Rio earlier that’s what Miz goes after. Colle is running Lawler down so much you’d think he was going to win. Hmmm… Edge misses the Spear, which is legal again, and hits the ring post. Cena promo interrupts from the press box and that lets Edge hit the Spear for real and win. Miz needed the win more but he was protected.

Stone Cold will be hosting Tough Enough. Let’s see if he can keep the focus off himself for a change. Doubt it. Oh great, Vickie Guererro. On Friday Edge defends his title in what Vickie promises is a completely new way. Natalya seems awfully happy to have to tag with the woman who just took away her title. They face Lay-Cool, of course. Michelle McCool wears size 12 boots. You can see why we buy her kicks as dangerous. Layla seems awfully cowardly tonight. Hugh loves Eve now. Hugh is one of my PPV buddies for those who missed the Rumble recap. The Lucky SOB is going to Wrestlemania live. Anyway the face divas win.

The Great Khali and Mark Henry (combined weight 838 pounds) form a makeshift tag team. Josh Matthews has replaced Lawler. I don’t give the Usos much chance here. E-GM has something for Cole to quote. The GM shares my opinion exactly so he changes the match to a dance off. You know Diesel would work as the GM. Both teams are awful and we sink to NXT levels with this bit. The Usos sneak attack and do as well as you would expect. I fear this is a real tag team. Triple H has a film coming out. Film looks like it might be worth seeing if you weren’t paying anything. I’m sure it will be on USA someday.

Ok so the winner here faces Miz at Elimination Chamber while the others compete in the Elimination Chamber to face the champ at Wrestlemania. This is a Royal Rumble with seven competitors. John Morrison is #1 and we see his Spiderman like landing on the wall and jumping back to the steps to stave off elimination last night. Sheamus is #2. I bet The Miz and A-Rei cost Cena his chance. We already know these two have great chemistry so good choices to start. Sheamus hits the Irish Curse just as Cena comes out at #3. Morrison actually lands on his feet out of an Attitude Adjustment. #4 is CM Punk. R-Truth #5. He and Morrison try to do a double skin-the-cat and Truth fails miserably. King is fairly lucky at #6. Lawler looks too strong when he comes in. Lots of people hanging on the ropes. Orton is in last and CM Punk hides under the ring. Orton goes in after him and pulls him out. Orton manages to eliminate Punk but R-Truth dumps him from behind a second later. So Orton’s need for vengeance cost him his shot and the first two Elimination Chamber members are set as we go to commercial.

No eliminations while we were gone but King and Morrison are teaming up on R-Truth while Cena and Sheamus fight it out. Cena sets up Morrison and Truth in an Attitude Adjustment position but Truth falls out of the ring while Morrison hangs on the ropes and he and Morrison end up on the apron. Soon they pull Sheamus out too. Morrison actually catches the bottom rope with his feet, and hangs by them, to avoid elimination. I think he might actually be Spiderman. Then he handstands to stay in. It finally takes a Brogue Kick while he’s on the apron to take Morrison out. Sheamus eats a Brogue Kick King manages to get Cena over the apron where Sheamus takes over trying to punch him off the apron. Lawler tries to intervene but Sheamus shoves Lawler into Cena and he’s knocked out. Sheamus tries to Brogue Kick Lawler in the back of the head but Lawler dodges and Cena pulls down the top rope and… Sheamus is eliminated.

Jerry Lawler will get a title shot at Elimination Chamber.

Let it sink in.

Elimination Chamber will feature Jerry Lawler and The Miz for the WWE Championship.

In other earthshaking news WWE has gone on to sign Sting. Vince really wanted to kill TNA’s plan to reunite the Main Event Mafia, didn’t he? That promo I assumed was for Undertaker could be for Sting. Or Awesome Kong.

Why no Diesel or Booker T? Are they both Smackdown bound? Overall I’m not keen on this show. The main event was a decent match as was the champion/champion match. But the booking is pretty wacky and we have focus on Bellas instead of matches and dance offs instead of tag team action. I’m just not liking where they are going.

It’s time to see how Smackdown can treat its main face like a heel and its main heel like a face. Yep, Kane is out first to beg for his daddy. And here’s Edge, on the TitanTron, hitting Bearer with a chair. This is not working on any level at all. The crowd is just dead. Bugs Bunny couldn’t make this work.

Damn, Cole is back, but Josh Matthews has replaced Todd Grisham. If I had to choose between the two I’d go with Matthews. At least a Jack Swagger/Kaval match promises to be less stupid. Kaval picks up a kayfabe leg injury early in the match so is fighting from a disadvantage through the whole match. He still does okay but can’t climb the turnbuckle to finish it. When Swagger locks on the Ankle Lock it’s over quickly. Not sure what the point was of making Kaval unable to do a lot of his flashier moves due to a fake injury, but Kaval wasn’t embarrassed here. Swagger is upset he lost the number one contendership after being struck while in the ropes. Did you know being struck in the ropes is illegal? I’ve been watching regularly since 2002 and I’ve never heard someone bring up that rule.

Far less importantly, we have the Soaring Eagle taking on Hornswoggle. Did the creative staff never learn that comedy matches are meant to be short? This is not good and goes on way too long. There’s a place for some comedy in professional wrestling. This was not comedy. Our real main event will pit Kane and Alberto Del Rio versus Edge and Rey Mysterio.

Teddy Long is right, I’d rather see Santino and Koslov on both shows than Nexus. But Chavo Guererro promises to find a partner and make their reign a short one. Speaking of titles there’s a nice long match for the IC title between champion Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston. Unfortunately it’s not a clean ending as Jack Swagger returns to attack Kofi Kingston and end the match without a decisive winner.

A Masterlock Challenge? Really? Cody Rhodes has to try to get out of the devastating Full Nelson. And yes, that’s sarcasm. Cody stalls and Masters slaps him in the face and squeezes his nose. This, of course, infuriates Rhodes who eventually tries to leave. Masters grabs him in the Masterlock, over the ropes, and pulls him into the ring. Rhodes actually passes out to the hold. I’ve never been a fan of Chris Masters and I am not sure why they even keep the guy employed. And Rhodes was in the ropes; didn’t we establish earlier that attacking someone in the ropes is illegal?

Remember a little while ago when Drew McIntyre turned his back on tag team wrestling? Well he joins Chavo to challenge for the tag championships. Do I have to take up Edge’s failed crusade against all things stupid? McIntyre is sullied by being brought into this. And I never thought I’d have to talk about a Cobra being badly hit, but Chavo does eat the pin and McIntyre beats him down afterward to try to rebuild his dying embers of heat.

As we continue to plug the Pay Per View we learn Mysterio and Del Rio’s match will be a Chairs Match. Natalya brings Beth Phoenix with her for her match with Layla. They are some of the most impressive Divas I have seen in a while. Natalya is being booked strong. So strong when she locks on the Sharpshooter and McCool tries to pull Layla to the ropes Natalya actually drags McCool into the ring. Phoenix takes care of McCool and Layla taps out quickly. I’m not sure if the belts are going back to LayCool or, if they don’t get them back, what creative will do with them.

The main event changes when Kane refuses to wrestle. That leaves Del Rio in a Handicap Match. A heel on the short side of a Handicap Match? Except Kane comes back and Edge runs from him. So now we just have a Mysterio/Del Rio match? Apparently. It’s not bad but you can tell they are holding back so the Chairs Match looks more impressive. We end with Kane finding two ladders set up on a catwalk with a wheelchair inside. Expecting another dummy Kane just tips it over. But now it’s the real Paul Bearer and Kane has to try to look shocked at what he just did. He looks dumb instead. This feud would be better suited to a cartoon than professional wrestling. And pushing a man over a catwalk seems less than PG.

Smackdown is turning into a show where young guys get to strut their stuff and learn at the same time but with a bunch of stupid crap thrown in. Get rid of the eagle. Don’t have Hornswoggle wrestle and come up with credible main event feud.

Some brief thoughts on TNA. At the last PPV Jeff Hardy retained, but AJ Styles lost the Television Title to Doug Williams. Hogan is off camera selling the injunction but Bischoff is here. And that’s great. See, Bischoff knows how to play a key role without putting all the focus on himself. Hogan doesn’t. Bischoff books Matt Morgan to face Ken Anderson (who is still not medically cleared) for #1 contendership. I thought it was for tonight but I guess not.

Brother Ray tries to prove he can win with anyone by having some no name student as the new “Devon.” Plan doesn’t work as they lose to Ink Inc., which is awesome, and Devon stops Ray from putting his student through a table. TNA tries to make the Women’s Tag Titles matter but, come on, the WWE Cruiserweight Title carries more prestige and it was retired when it was held by a leprechaun. I didn’t even know Daphne was even still employed.

Anderson tells Morgan he’ll get himself cleared for the match. Morgan does more of his usual pontificating on the danger of concussions. Douglas Williams defends his new title against Abyss. It’s a fluke win but it’s a win nonetheless. Jeff Jarrett actually beat Samoa Joe in a Submission Match at the PPV? Sure there was interference but that is horrible for Joe. Jeff Jarrett issues an open challenge to any fan who can make him tap out, with $100,000 on the line, and nearly causes a riot.

The main event is a Knockout Cage Match between Mickie James and Tara. They spend the whole night building to it, with Tara even lip-synching a song to show up Mickie. These two wrestle a match that would work just as well if they were both men. The problem is they are not impressive when compared to most male wrestlers. So when they wrestle like men they come across as mediocre. Even the money moment, Mickie hitting a Thesz Press off the top of the cage, isn’t as flashy as a lot of the moves I’ve seen off the top rope. Still, it gets Mickie the win.

There was nothing wrong with this episode but putting the focus back on the women at this stage isn’t helping. The booking of their matches seem boring. Like whoever is booking them is giving no thought to the fact these are women wrestling and may be able to use some different moves than the average male. Maybe if the cage had been used more viciously the main event would have stood out more. Or let one of the women bleed. You rarely see that. Do something to make it stand out. Because, overall this episode didn’t.

Posted on December 11th, 2010 by Lucian | Comments Off on Wrestling Recap: Smackdown & TNA Week Ending 12/11/10
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