Bragging Rights thoughts
While many fans – myself included – have been saying that they’re tired of the John Cena-Randy Orton feud and want to see each man in fresh programs, the fact is that Cena and Orton put on two compelling pay-per-view matches in a row heading into Sunday night’s Bragging Rights show.
That’s where I figured their streak would end. I really didn’t care to see these two wrestle each other again, much less for a whole hour in an Iron Man Match. Quite frankly, I just didn’t think they could hold my interest for that long.
I’m happy to say that they proved me wrong. Cena and Orton took the audience on a 60-minute roller coaster ride that ended with Cena regaining the WWE title in what was billed as the rivals’ final encounter.
You’d think I would have learned by now not to doubt Cena and Orton. Yes, their program lasted longer than it should have, but there’s no denying that they have great chemistry in the ring.
In the other world title match, The Undertaker retained his championship in a fatal four-way against Batista, Rey Mysterio and CM Punk, but the bigger story is that Batista turned heel by attacking Mysterio after the match.
Overall, Bragging Rights was a decent show, but the Cena-Orton match was the only one that really stood out.
Here is a match-by-match look at the show:
John Cena defeated WWE champion Randy Orton in a 60-Minute Iron Man Match to win the title: As with all of the Cena-Orton battles, they told a good story in this match. Knowing that they couldn’t do a Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart- or Brock Lesnar/Kurt Angle-style Iron Man match, Cena and Orton took full advantage of the anything-goes stipulation. They fought on the floor and in the crowd, and used tables, chairs, steps and other objects as weapons. There was outside interference (from Legacy), a ref bump and even blood. Oh, and Orton also tried to blow up Cena with pyrotechnics. It all added up to a very entertaining match that – at least for me – never dragged. A good portion of the match consisted of Orton destroying Cena, and Cena continually coming back and finding ways to keep pace with pinfalls. Blading is forbidden in WWE, but Cena bled hard-way early on after taking stiff shots to the head from a TV monitor and a microphone. Having some of Cena’s blood smeared on Orton’s face made for a great visual. The biggest spot in the match saw Orton place a weakened Cena on the stage and then shoot off some pyro, but Cena rolled out of harm’s way at the last second.
The first fall occurred just under four minutes into the match, as Orton quickly tapped out to an STF. It was explained that Orton would rather concede a fall than stay in the STF for a prolonged period. With Orton leading five falls to four with about 20 minutes left, he went on the defensive and tried to hang on. Cena pulled even with 9 minutes, 16 seconds remaining, however, after an Attitude Adjustment off the ring steps onto the announce table. Orton hit an RKO with 2:30 left after a ref bump. About 15 seconds went by before a second referee hit the ring and counted the pin, but Cena kicked out at two. Orton’s facial expressions were tremendous throughout the match, but his look of sheer evil and madness with less than 90 seconds to go was off the charts. Orton set up for a punt to the head, but he whiffed and Cena caught him in the STF with under a minute remaining. Orton held on for as long as he could before finally tapping out with five seconds left, giving Cena a 6-5 win. After the match, Cena did a great job of selling the emotion of surviving a war and outlasting his sworn enemy. There was no hint of dissension between Orton, Ted DiBiase Jr. and Cody Rhodes, as the two young members of Legacy interfered on Orton’s behalf during the match. With this feud finally put to rest – for a while at least – it will be interesting to see what’s next for Cena and Orton. Cena-Triple H and Orton-DiBiase programs are on the horizon, but they may not happen right away.
World heavyweight champion The Undertaker defeated Batista, Rey Mysterio and CM Punk in a fatal four-way match: This was a solid match, although it marked the third consecutive pay-per-view that the world heavyweight title bout went 8-10 minutes. The Undertaker, who was involved in all of those matches, reportedly is hurting badly, so that probably explains it. The action was good while it lasted. There were a bunch of near falls that were broken up by one of the other competitors. The tension between Batista and Mysterio first surfaced when Mysterio made the save during Batista’s pin attempt on The Undertaker after a Batista Bomb. Batista pie-faced Mysterio. A few minutes later, Batista threw Mysterio over the top rope onto Punk, who was standing outside the ring. When Batista turned around, Undertaker caught him with a Tombstone Piledriver for the win. With all of the frequent title changes this year, I was glad to see the champion retain.
After the match, Josh Matthews got in the ring to get a few words with Batista and Mysterio, which gave away that the turn was coming. Batista did a nice very job of morphing into a heel. He said he was tired of always coming up just short and tired of his best friend stabbing him in the back. “You think I’m playing” he asked Mysterio. “I’m not playing. I’m going to rip your head off.” And then he delivered a vicious clothesline and beat-down. A good number of fans cheered Batista. I was surprised that Batista’s turn wasn’t held off for a little bit longer, but his character definitely needed a change, as he hasn’t been a heel since early 2005. The turn makes sense from a story line standpoint, as it can be explained that the frustration from all of Batista’s near-misses in title matches and his untimely injuries finally caused him to snap. He can also say that being the warm and fuzzy “Animal” who is BFF’s with Mysterio has made him soft and prevented him from achieving his goals. The question now is whether Batista will be The Undertaker’s next challenger or if he does a program with Mysterio first. And where does all of this leave Punk?
Team Smackdown (Chris Jericho, Kane, Finlay, Matt Hardy, The Hart Dynasty and R-Truth) defeated Team Raw (DX, The Big Show, Mark Henry, Kofi Kingston, Cody Rhodes and Jack Swagger): As I expected, The Big Show turned on his Raw teammates. He choke-slammed Kingston, which allowed Jericho to make the winning pin. As Triple H tried to make the save, Big Show knocked him out with a right hand. The action was good, but, as I have previously written, the brand vs. brand premise just didn’t excite me. It was nice, however, to see guys such as R-Truth, Swagger and The Hart Dynasty getting a chance to mix it up with the big boys and not coming off as inferior. There were a few interesting match-ups, too. At one point, Michaels was in against Hardy, and it struck me that I couldn’t recall the two veterans ever working against each other before. It also was cool seeing The Hart Dynasty deliver The Hart Attack to Michaels, Bret Hart’s archrival. Early in the match, Big Show got a near fall on Kane, which in retrospect doesn’t make sense if Big Show double-crossing his team was pre-meditated. It was weird after the match how babyfaces R-Truth, Hardy and Finlay celebrated a tainted victory. By the way, how come Michaels and Triple H were the only guys in the match not wearing their brand’s t-shirt? Michaels, at least, had his tied around his waist.
The Miz defeated John Morrison: The former tag team partners opened the show with a good match. The finish was a surprise, as Miz scored the clean pin after he knocked Morrison off the ropes as he was setting up for Starship Pain. Who did Morrison tick off? There’s no way he should be losing to Miz, especially without outside interference or some other form of chicanery.
Smackdown Divas (Michelle McCool, Natalya and Beth Phoenix) defeated Raw Divas (Kelly Kelly, Gail Kim and Melina): This wasn’t a bad match. Phoenix scored the win for her team after hitting The Glam Slam on Melina. There was no dissension among the babyfaces, but there was some tension between heels McCool and Phoenix. McCool, by the way, came out to the ring wearing a hooded jacket. So not only has she stolen A.J. Styles’ finisher, but his look as well.