Ring Posts Xtra: Episode 21
Axl Rotten returns to the show to discuss whether John Cena is a good worker and if WWE dropped the ball with the CM Punk angle. We also play a game of word association with Axl.
Axl Rotten returns to the show to discuss whether John Cena is a good worker and if WWE dropped the ball with the CM Punk angle. We also play a game of word association with Axl.
Sheamus took a giant step toward becoming Smackdown’s No. 2 babyface on Friday night’s episode.
Sheamus, who has gradually been moving toward a babyface turn, got a huge pop when he came out to confront Mark Henry, who was intimidating Smackdown general manager Teddy Long and preparing to break the ankle of a severely undersized enhancement talent.
Just as Long was telling Henry that no one in the back wanted to face him because of the rampage he has been on, Sheamus’ music hit. When he got to the ring, Sheamus told Henry that he’d be glad to fight him. The crowd loved that Sheamus was standing up to the massive bully and began chanting his name.
A physical confrontation was teased, but there was very minimal contact, which is a smart move to build anticipation for their inevitable match. Henry, Sheamus and Long – as the authority figure who was trying to control the situation but was terrified of Henry – all played their roles very well.
WWE has done a great job of getting Henry over as a monster heel, and Sheamus now has enough credibility to be seen as a guy who poses a threat to him. I’m actually really looking forward to seeing a match between these two, and it wasn’t all that long ago that I certainly wouldn’t have believed that.
As I’ve said several times recently, I think Sheamus will be a solid babyface, and now is the perfect time to pull the trigger on his turn. He is more than capable of filling the void of being the No. 2 babyface behind Randy Orton on Smackdown.
Other thoughts on Friday’s show:
New WWE COO Triple H made an appearance and announced that he re-signed CM Punk late Monday night, which explains why Punk appeared at the end of Raw. …
Having Raw’s R-Truth and John Morrison on the show continued the recent creative direction in WWE of adding a sense of unpredictability to the programs. …
The main event between Orton and R-Truth served its purpose of advancing the Orton-Christian program. With Christian set to defend the world heavyweight title against Orton in a No Holds Barred Match at SummerSlam on Aug. 14, Orton lost by disqualification here and then brutalized R-Truth after the match while a worried Christian looked on from the stage as he realized that Orton can do all of that against him and it will be legal. …
The Christian-Morrison match wasn’t bad, although there were a couple rough spots. It was good to see Christian get another clean win, and I don’t think the loss really hurts Morrison all that much because the story being told was that he may have come back too soon from his injury and his health could be in jeopardy when he eventually faces R-Truth. …
The verbal exchange between Triple H, Christian and R-Truth got the show off to a good start. …
Broskis everywhere can rejoice, as Zack Ryder now has a role on TV – as Long’s assistant. This has the potential to be entertaining, although I was a little underwhelmed with Ryder’s segments this week. …
I like Michael Cole as a heel commentator, but he was really annoying me by constantly talking over Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett during their verbal exchange. There comes a time when the announcers just need to shut up and let the focus be on the wrestlers, and that was one of those times. …
The funniest moment of the night was when an enraged Henry stormed out of the ring, approached the announce table and yelled “move!” and Cole, Booker T. and Josh Matthews all immediately got up and hurried away. …
Cole got in a funny line when Rosa Mendes took off her t-shirt prior to the six-woman tag match. “Well, she has to do something in this match. I guess that was it,” he said. …
I was glad that Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. defeated Ezekiel Jackson in a handicap match. I feared that DiBiase was going to do the job, which would have buried both him and Rhodes. …
I was disappointed that the Usos didn’t win the WWE tag team title from David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty. The belts are pretty meaningless as long as Otunga and McGillicutty have them, in my opinion. …
The video feature on Justin Gabriel wrestling in his native South Africa was well done and made him look like a star. By the way, Gabriel used the terms “wrestler” and “wrestling” in the piece, so it appears that the ban on the “w” words are over.
Hey look, there’s a picture CM Punk – the rightful WWE champion and the most talked-about wrestler in the industry today – splashed on the homepage of TNA’s website.
The top headline on the site announces that Punk is coming to TNA. Well, sort of.
It actually says that he is coming to TNAOnDemand.com.
As part of the new TNA Archives Superstar Series, Punk’s matches in TNA from 2003 and 2004 will be available for viewing online next week.
I think it’s actually a smart move by TNA to try to cash in on Punk-Mania.
Maryland Championship Wrestling presents its biggest show of the year, The Shane Shamrock Memorial Cup XI on Saturday night at The Green Room in Dundalk.
In addition to the Shamrock Cup tournament, the event also features an MCW heavyweight title match between champion Cobian and The Bruiser. The MCW Rage TV and tag team titles also will be defended.
Bell time is 7:30.
During the opening segment of Impact Wrestling Thursday night, Kurt Angle challenged Hulk Hogan to “prove that you can still go.”
Personally, I wouldn’t be upset to see Hogan go – and I’m not talking about him putting the tights and boots back on for a wrestling match.
Moments after Hogan told Angle that he was never going to wrestle again – which I was glad to hear – it sure seemed as if TNA was building to a match between Hogan and Sting at the Bound for Glory pay-per-view in October.
Fueled by the appearance of Hogan on the promotional poster for BFG, there has been speculation among wrestling fans and pundits as of late about a Hogan-Sting match taking place on the show. When the rumors began to swirl, I kept thinking – and hoping – that TNA and Hogan had to know that the negatives far outweigh the positives when it comes to him wrestling again.
First and foremost, there is the question of how risky it would be for Hogan – who is two weeks away from turning 58 and has been through multiple serious back, knee and hip surgeries – to take any bumps.
But beyond that, does TNA really believe that there is a demand for a match between Hogan and the 52-year-old Sting? Or for that matter, a match between Hogan and anybody?
To put it in perspective, remember when fans used to say that WCW stood for Wheelchair Wrestling because a number of its top stars – including Hogan – were past their prime? Well, that was about 15 years ago.
Other thoughts on Thursday’ show:
I groaned when Sting crashed a meeting of Immortal members in Eric Bischoff’s office and announced that he had been named an executive of The Network and now had more power than Hogan and Bischoff. The convoluted Immortal-Network power struggle just isn’t very interesting. Fortunately, it was revealed near the end of the show that Sting was bluffing and had just been messing with Immortal. By the way, Sting’s awesome red suit may have been the highlight of the show. …
Speaking of convoluted, the cage match between Angle and Mr. Anderson was overbooked. Hogan had made it clear earlier in the show that the main goal was to take out Angle, so what does Bully Ray do? Instead of helping Anderson, he distracted him, which allowed Angle to get the win. Is it really necessary to have Anderson feuding with Ray so soon after Anderson joined Immortal? Who are fans supposed to care about in all of this? …
I liked that Angle in his promo clarified that he has never beaten Sting “without outside interference.” A couple weeks ago he said that he had never beaten Sting, which, of course, isn’t true, since Angle defeated Sting for the TNA world title in 2007. …
An emotional Matt Morgan officially pulled out of the Bound for Glory series because of suffering a torn pectoral muscle. It’s a tough break for Morgan, but there’s an opportunity here for TNA to use the injury to add another layer to the story line of Morgan’s career-long quest to be a world champion. …
Rob Van Dam and Gunner had a good, hard-hitting match. Gunner got in a lot of offense before doing the clean job, so he wasn’t hurt by the loss. …
The Crimson-Bully Ray match was serviceable. Ray had the advantage most of the way before Crimson hit Red Sky for the victory. TNA is establishing Crimson’s finisher as something that can be hit out of nowhere, similar to Randy Orton’s RKO. …
I liked the way the Ultimate X match between TNA X Division champion Brian Kendrick and Abyss was laid out, with Abyss repeatedly gaining the advantage but being reluctant to scale the structure and grab the championship belt. The finish was clever. Abyss attempted to chokeslam Kendrick, but Kendrick was able to unhook the belt from the cable while being hoisted in the air. …
Austin Aries’ promo was very good. Not only did he nail it with his delivery, but I liked the message, which was that he has had plenty of five-star matches, but now he’s more interested in winning titles and making money, and he’ll do so by any means necessary. …
I’m not sure why Alex Shelley was so happy that his rematch for the TNA X Division title with Kendrick at the Hardcore Justice pay-per-view on Aug. 7 is a three-way match also involving Aries. Shouldn’t Shelley be upset that it’s not a one-on-one contest? …
I liked that Bully Ray in his backstage promo referenced an upcoming house show match he has with A.J. Styles. TNA should do more of that, especially with BFG series matches taking place at house shows.It reminded me of the old NWA days on TBS when Ric Flair and others would always mention the cities they were coming to in their promos. ...
The Tara-Winter match (which Winter won) wasn’t bad, but Winter had trouble executing her spinning backbreaker finisher on someone Tara’s size and it ended up looking a little sloppy. …
I’m not finding the Velvet Sky-ODB-Jackie-Traci Brooks story line all that compelling at the moment.
Entrance music in pro wrestling has become a topic of discussion this past week, thanks to an article by ESPN’s Bill Simmons and the fact that CM Punk came out to new music (well, it was actually his old music) on Raw Monday night.
Here are my top 10 favorite entrance themes in wrestling today. Only wrestling personalities who are currently active in WWE or TNA were considered. (Note: If Edge, Shawn Michaels, Batista and Chris Jericho were active, their music would certainly be on the list. So would "What's Up" if R-Truth was still using it.) The list is based entirely on my musical taste and nothing else.
I welcome your comments and your top 10 lists.
10. “DOMINATION” (EZEKIEL JACKSON): This one didn’t grab me right away, but it has really grown on me.
9. “SOME BODIES GONNA GET IT” (MARK HENRY): I’m more of a hard rock guy than a hip hop guy, but this song kicks a**.
8. “ANGEL ON MY SHOULDER” (VELVET SKY): Whenever this song begins, I know that Velvet Sky is about to enter the ring – and that’s a good thing.
7. “SAY IT TO MY FACE” (ALEX RILEY): The newest theme on the list, this one is rising fast – just like A-Ry.
6. “JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES” (CHRISTIAN): This song is just plain catchy. I liked it the very first time I heard it.
5. “VOICES” (RANDY ORTON): I was a big fan of Orton’s previous theme, but it wasn’t long before “Voices” was stuck in my head.
4. “GET ON YOUR KNEES” (JACK SWAGGER): Any song that sounds like it’s by Rage Against The Machine has to be good.
3. “SLEEPING GIANT” (MATT MORGAN): An infectious guitar riff and screaming vocals. What’s not to like?
2. “THE GAME” (TRIPLE H): One of the ballsiest wrestling entrance themes ever. It’s the perfect music for a guy who walks around pounding people with a sledgehammer.
1. “THIS FIRE BURNS” (CM PUNK): It’s only fitting that the best wrestler in the world also has the best entrance music. I hear the brain-scorching opening strains of this song several times every day – whenever my cellphone rings.
Check out my colleague Kevin Richardson's new video series for baltimoresun.com. In this episode, see what it takes to become a professional wrestler.
TNA star Matt Morgan is expected to be out of action for six weeks after suffering a torn pectoral muscle two weeks ago in the four-way ladder match that aired on last Thursday’s episode of Impact Wrestling.
Fortunately for Morgan, the tear was minor and did not require surgery.
Still, it’s a tough break for him, as he was expected to have a major story line coming out of the Bound for Glory series, according to an industry source. It will be interesting to see if Morgan’s six-week hiatus puts an end to those plans.
The Triple H Era in WWE got off to an exciting start on Monday night’s episode of Raw.
Moments after John Cena captured the WWE title from Rey Mysterio, who earlier in the show defeated The Miz in the tournament final to win the vacant championship, CM Punk made his return.
Punk, who had defeated Cena for the WWE title on July 17 at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view and then exited the company when his contract expired later that night, wore the WWE title belt that he had left with to the ring. He and Cena stood face to face, each man raising his belt in the air, but no blows were exchanged.
Also on the eventful show, WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross was brought back as an announcer, and John Morrison returned after being sidelined with an injury.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Internet sensation Zack Ryder actually wrestled on Raw. WWWYKI.
While it’s nice to have Punk back on the show, I’m surprised that WWE didn’t keep him off TV longer, having him show up on indy shows and crashing events where WWE personalities are appearing (such as last week’s Comic Con in San Diego, where he had a verbal exchange with Triple H) to build up greater anticipation for his return. This just seems like it happened too quickly, as Punk was only gone for a week.
I’m also surprised that a babyface ended this show as the company’s new WWE champion. With Punk now playing an anti-establishment babyface, I figured a heel such as The Miz or Alberto Del Rio would be champion when Punk came back claiming to be the rightful champion, which would then set up a title unification match.
Now it appears that it will be Punk versus Cena for all the marbles at next month’s SummerSlam pay-per-view, Unless Cena is turning heel – and wouldn’t that be something – this matchup is a curious choice.
Other thoughts on Monday’s show:
Mysterio was the star of the show, as he had a good match with Miz to open the program and an even better one with Cena to close it. Unlike the mixed reaction he has received with some crowds lately, the fans were behind Mysterio all night. …
It was nice to see a matchup of two top stars – Cena and Mysterio – that was fresh. Oh, and by the way, it was yet another good match from the guy who “can’t wrestle.” …
As soon as The Miz attacked Mysterio after their match, I knew Del Rio was coming out to cash in his MITB contract and I was certain that he was going to be successful. Of course, I also thought he was going to do it at the MITB pay-per-view. I hope WWE doesn’t keep having Del Rio swing and miss, because the more that happens, the weaker he looks. …
Punk came out to his old Ring of Honor theme, “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour, which is a great song and it suits Punk very well, but I hope Punk doesn’t stop using “This Fire Burns” by Killswitch Engage. That’s the best entrance music in the business, in my opinion. …
It was great to have J.R. back at the announce table. That was long overdue. …
Having Ryder as the mystery opponent for Michael Cole – who was put in a match by Triple H – was a good way to finally get Ryder on Raw. Cole, by the way, was pretty amusing doing Triple H’s entrance and wearing “The Game’s” gear. …
Now that Triple H is the on-air authority figure, what will become of the anonymous Raw general manager? After all this time, is there not going to be a payoff? …
I got a laugh out of the verbal exchange between Triple H and R-Truth. …
When Triple H brought out Morrison, he said that he had re-signed him. I didn’t know that Morrison was unsigned; I just thought he was out with an injury. …
The Del Rio-Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler-Evan Bourne contests were decent TV matches. I liked that Del Rio avenged last week’s loss to Kingston. Ziggler showed more intensity and personality than usual during his win over Bourne. …
With Kelly Kelly and Eve Torres – who teamed up to beat Melina and Maryse – being so chummy as of late, my guess is that Eve wins the Divas No. 1 contender battle royal next week and turns heel on KK. An Eve heel turn was hinted at a few months ago, as she snapped at some fellow babyface Divas in the locker room, but it was never followed up on. …
Melina may never win another match – in WWE, that is. …
Keith Stone. Ugh.
Due to popular demand – OK, not really, but just humor me – all 20 episodes of Ring Posts Xtra have been added to our archives.
Now it’s easier for you to watch me and occasional co-host Axl Rotten talking wrestling, having some fun with the subject matter, interviewing wrestling personalities and doing bad imitations (well, mine are bad; Axl’s are actually really good).
To access the archives, click here.
It’s becoming clearer with every passing week that WWE is really going all the way with its push of Mark Henry as a remorseless monster heel after years of stop-and-start pushes of “The World’s Strongest Man.”
Henry, coming off an appearance at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in which he scored a clean win over The Big Show and then “injured” him in a vicious post-match attack, chose Kane as his next victim.
Moments after Kane lost a grueling street fight to Randy Orton in the main event of Friday night’s episode of Smackdown, Henry came to the ring and “Pillman-ized” Kane’s ankle, just as he had done to The Big Show.
As of late, Henry has gone from a guy I really didn’t feel strongly about one way or the other, to someone I look forward to seeing on the show. With his facial expressions and no-nonsense promos, Henry has really taken his game to another level.
What I liked about the angle on Friday’s show is that prior to Henry’s attack on Kane, WWE had re-established Kane as a monster in his own right by having him cut a creepy promo and then taking Orton to the limit. So when Henry decimated Kane, it meant more than if it had happened a few months ago when Kane was marching around the ring doing trombone celebrations with Santino Marella.
Other thoughts on Friday’s show:
I couldn’t believe it when Orton and Kane came out for their match with about 30 minutes still left in the show. I thought there was no way that a match involving Kane that was going more than 20 minutes could be entertaining, but I was pleasantly surprised. Orton and Kane had a really good match. …
Orton was very lucky that he wasn’t seriously injured when his leg went through a hole in the announce table and the table tipped over. …
When Kane – accompanied by scary music and lighting – was talking about becoming more of a monster and less of a human in his promo, I groaned because I thought he was turning heel for the hundredth time. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. …
The opening segment with Orton and new world heavyweight champion Christian was good. I especially liked when Christian told Orton that “nobody likes a whiner.” I also thought it was a nice touch when Orton, in trying to manage his anger, started counting to himself before walking away. Of course, he snapped anyway and began wailing away on Christian. …
The Christian-Ezekiel Jackson match wasn’t bad. It was a good win for Christian, who needed a solid, clean victory after winning the world title from Orton in such a flukish manner at MITB last Sunday. …
I was a little surprised that the past history between Christian and Jackson wasn’t brought up. In the very last ECW title match, Jackson won the championship from Christian. …
The Sheamus-Wade Barrett match (which ended in a double countout) was a compelling heel versus heel encounter. The crowd was behind Sheamus to some extent. As I have said before, I think Sheamus is going to end up being an effective babyface in the very near future. …
Daniel Bryan did a decent job on the mic during his in-ring interview with Michael Cole. The big news is that Bryan said that he is going to cash in his MITB contract next April at WrestleMania XXVIII. I have my doubts about that. A lot can happen between now and then. …
The Bryan-Heath Slater match wasn’t bad, but I thought Slater got in too much offense for a guy at his level going against a guy walking around with a MITB briefcase. Booker T. hit the nail on the head when he said that Slater has a long way to go when it comes to charisma.
Talking about the big CM Punk and Triple H/Vince McMahon angles in WWE. Plus, Rated Eck returns in a new role: stand-up comedian.
I conducted a phone interview earlier this week with WWE star Alex Riley, who will be challenging Dolph Ziggler for the U.S. title at the WWE Raw live event Sunday night at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md.
Riley (real name Kevin Kiley, 30) grew up not far from Upper Marlboro in Fairfax Station, Va. Riley, whose father is former ESPN and TNT broadcaster Kevin Kiley Sr. and whose mother is former Miss Virginia Lauren Kiley, played college football at Boston College and was a starting linebacker during his senior season in 2003.
Riley, who graduated with a degree in communications, spent a few years unsuccessfully pursuing a career in professional football before eventually setting his sights on getting into professional wrestling.
What led you to the sports entertainment industry?
I was a fan of it my whole life. As I grew up with football I was also very into sports entertainment, watching it on TV constantly, but never really knowing how to pursue it. As soon as football had kind of runs its course, I contacted the WWE and called [head of talent relations] John Laurinaitis, waited a couple months, got a phone call back and then they invited me to Ohio Valley Wrestling for a week tryout. I didn’t really know what the process was – if I was going to get a deal, if I wasn’t – and before I got off the plane on my way back on a Friday morning, they had left me a message saying if you’re interested, we’d love to have you. That’s how it played out.
What year was it that you had that tryout?
I think it was the end of 2007, moving into 2008.
So you’ve had a pretty quick ascension from getting a tryout with no prior experience to making it to WWE TV.
Yeah, I think it was about two and a half years, which when you’re down there actually seems like a lot longer, because I was very eager to get on television. I thought I had a lot to contribute. I don’t think people really understand how hard this is and how long it takes to pick it up. It’s a craft and it’s extremely difficult to learn the art of it and to really get in touch with yourself and the performing aspect of it. When you play football your whole life – I also played basketball in high school – you’re just a number under a helmet, but here they see your face constantly, you’re completely exposed , they hand you a microphone, so you really have to know yourself in the ring and the performing aspect of it, which took some time with me and it was difficult at first to learn that. But once I got into the WWE, I’ve been extremely lucky that they’ve given me some serious opportunities to contribute and to be on Raw for about a year, so it’s been great. Once I got into the WWE it’s taken off for me.
You mentioned being handed a microphone in WWE. I think one of the things that was impressive about you when you were on NXT was your ability to talk. Did you have a background in public speaking?
I’m very close with my father and always have been growing up. He was a sports broadcaster for ESPN and TNT, and he covered a lot of the NFL and also some boxing and basketball. I always watched him and listened to him on the radio as much as I could. Toward the end of my football career and before I got into sports entertainment, I was doing sports broadcasting for a local cable television station in Washington, so that’s something that I’ve always been interested in as well. So I kind of had a little bit of a background with sports broadcasting. I did it for a couple months before I got the opportunity to come to the WWE and then left all that behind me because this is what I thought I was meant to do.
What was your parents’ reaction when you said, “I’m going to give this sports entertainment thing a try?”
My dad was in the NFL, and growing up, a lot of people were always like, “Your dad’s making you play football.” But my dad actually wouldn’t let me play football because he thought I was too thin and was going to get hurt [laughs]. And he knew how hard the game was and how dedicated you needed to be to be good at the game, and the same thing with the WWE. You need to be extremely dedicated to this and the travel and everything that makes it so hard. If this isn’t the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you think about before you go to bed, it’s going to be very hard for you to make it. So he wouldn’t let me play football or even get involved in athletics until I lifted weights for a year with him when I was 13 or 14 and he knew that I was serious about it. When I told him that I wanted to be a part of the WWE, he said, “It’s really your life. If you feel like this is what you’re meant to do, then we’re behind you and will support you in anything you do and go do it.” He’s been great. I always call him with questions and that stuff, so he’s very, very supportive of what I wanted to do.
The Miz played your mentor on NXT and then you were paired with him on WWE TV after the show ended. Was he also a mentor to you behind the scenes?
Absolutely. When I was told that I was going to be paired with him on NXT 2 – I had seen what he had done on NXT 1, and he’s obviously very talented and was a huge part of that show – I was extremely ecstatic about that. There were some similarities to our characters: I could speak, he could speak; I felt like we could play off each other very well. Miz treated me very fairly. A lot of guys are willing to help you, but he really went the extra mile with me. If I had questions before the show or the little details that I wasn’t used to coming from Florida Championship Wrestling moving into the WWE, he was always there to help and absolutely was a mentor there to me.
What’s the best piece of advice that he gave you?
If we had a great episode or they gave us an opportunity to do something that went real well, he would always say – and I believe this to be very true with the WWE – that you’re only as good as your last show, and you’ve always got to be looking for a way to stand out and looking for a way to bring a moment to TV that people are going to remember. If you’re not doing that every Monday night, you’re not doing your job. We’re all trying to create those moments for the viewers. We’re all trying to be as entertaining as possible or have those moments that are remembered. He said that when Monday rolls around, you always have to be trying to steal the show, and that’s probably the best advice that he ever gave me.
Were you surprised at how big the reaction was for you the night on Raw when Miz was berating you and you had finally had enough and fought back? The crowd went from not liking you or really even caring about you to chanting your name.
I kind of was surprised, but, you know, Miz is so hated, so anybody who beats the hell out of him, I would think that they were going to like and respect, so that was one aspect. I knew if I really let this guy have it, they should get behind me. But you’re right, I was kind of a guy that was just his sidekick, nobody really knew me, so I was dealing with that. I remember standing there [laughs], and this is God’s honest truth, in the middle of the segment – and I want them to get behind me – they started chanting, “Fire him! Fire him!” [laughs] So I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m dead.” So then when he fires me, they erupt. So then I’m thinking that I’m even more in the hole. They don’t like me, they’re not going to get behind me. That moment with Miz was so parallel to reality that a lot of stuff came out that I kind of believed and he believed. Some of those things he said, I think he really did feel, and some of the things I said, I really did feel. So I think they got behind that moment because it really was a real moment in my career and in his career, and I beat the hell out of him when it finally happened, and I think they enjoyed that. So was I surprised? Yeah, a little bit, but I think they appreciated the reality of it and me beating up on him.
I agree that what made it so good was that you and Miz really made the brawl look like a real fight.
Yeah, and it was. When somebody does start saying those things to you and you know that you’re out there for the world to see, you can’t help but get mad. From time to time you do kind of lose yourself in it, and I think he lost himself and I lost myself in the whole thing and we went for it and it was a really good piece of my career.
I’ve heard a lot of guys in the business say that it’s much easier to get the fans to hate you than it is to get them to like you. Can you talk about how it’s been for you making the transition from heel to babyface?
I try not to think about whether I’m a good guy or bad guy – heel or babyface – I just try to be myself and just try to react the way I would react. That night that I went out there with Miz and they chanted “Riley,” that just happened. I couldn’t control that. I’m going to do the best I can, and if they get behind me, great, but if they still hate me, there’s really nothing I can do. The only thing I can control is making what I do as real as possible, if not absolutely real at certain times. So that’s the way I try to approach the heel and babyface thing. When I’m out there, I’m not really trying to be a good guy or a bad guy, I’m just being me. I think the WWE Universe is hard to trick. They’ll see through you if you’re trying to be a good guy or trying to be a bad guy, but I think they appreciate a guy that’s really being himself. I think it’s worked pretty well for me so far, so I’m hoping they continue to get behind what I’m doing because they respect the fact that it is real.
What can people expect when they come out to Sunday’s show in Upper Marlboro?
I got Dolph Ziggler for the U.S. title. That’ll be a great match. I think John Cena has got Alberto Del Rio in the main event, and the Divas are there. The thing about the live events is that they’re fantastic shows for the fans because there’s so much fan interaction. I’m going after the U.S. title. I’ve been put in a lot of great positions so far in my career – had an opportunity to be part of WrestleMania in the main event – but I’ve never had a title, so you’re going to see the best out of me that night, obviously. Dolph Ziggler is a great sports entertainer and it’s going to be a fantastic match. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dolph Ziggler have a bad match, and to be paired with him is going to be great. And it’s always great to be back around where I grew up. So it’s going to be an awesome night and well worth the price of admission.
For more information on the WWE Raw live event Sunday night in Upper Marlboro, click here.
Photo courtesy of WWE
If seeing the TNA Knockouts on your TV screen is your idea of a good time, then you probably enjoyed Thursday night’s episode of Impact Wrestling.
The Knockouts were all over the show. Tara and Miss Tessmacher won the Knockouts tag team title from Sarita and Rosita, and the four women (plus Madison Rayne) also engaged in a backstage brawl. In addition, Mickie James, Angelina Love and Winter all got some time on the microphone, and a scheduled Knockouts title match between champion James and Velvet Sky never got underway thanks to a wild brawl involving James, Sky, Love, Winter, ODB, Jackie and the returning Traci Brooks.
While there were no Awesome Kong versus Gail Kim classic matches on the show, it was a nice change of pace to see the women get so much screen time. I have always liked the fact that TNA comes up with angles and programs for the women on its roster, unlike WWE, which would rather just throw 14 Divas out there with no story line and have a seven-on-seven match that lasts less than a minute.
The women’s tag team title match was a bit disjointed, but it wasn’t bad. As for the seven-woman brawl, it was fun at first, but it went on a bit too long. I was definitely glad to see that ODB’s back (I was also glad to see ODB’s front).
I thought for sure that Brooks – who appeared out of nowhere to join in on the melee – was going to turn on the babyfaces and align herself with ODB and Jackie, but we didn’t get the usual Vince Russo swerve this time (so the swerve was that there was no swerve).
Other thoughts on Thursday’s show:
The four-way ladder match – which was part of the Bound for Glory Series and was worth 10 points to the winner – that saw Matt Morgan defeat A.J. Styles, Gunner and Samoa Joe was good while it lasted. It’s too bad they were only given five minutes. ...
The Rob Van Dam-Scott Steiner match (which RVD won) was an interesting clash of styles and turned out to be pretty entertaining. These two guys have been around forever, but I don’t recall them being in the ring together all that often. ...
The main event, which saw Sting and Kurt Angle defeat Mr. Anderson and Bully Ray was just too short (it went about four minutes). By the way, Anderson – who just joined Immortal – already isn’t getting along with Ray. Russo shows make my head hurt. ...
Did I really hear Anderson refer to Angle as Sting’s “butt buddy?” I’m sure GLAAD would be upset it if had any idea that TNA existed. ...
James Storm cut such a tremendous promo when he and Bobby Roode confronted Mexican America that it almost makes me want to see a match between the two teams. ...
Love and, to a lesser extent, Winter also did a nice job on the mic. ...
The story line explanation for Sarita wearing a protective mask is that she suffered a broken jaw and cracked orbital bone during a parking lot brawl last week that pitted her and Rosita against Tara and Miss Tessmacher. In reality, Sarita is suffering from facial paralysis. ...
The TNA X Division title match between champion Brian Kendrick and Alex Shelley was good. I was a little disappointed with the screwjob finish (Austin Aries attacked Shelley behind the backs of Kendrick and the referee, which allowed Kendrick to score the victory), but it did establish Aries as a key figure in the X Division. ...
Mickie James looked a bit heelish walking around backstage wearing her shades. ...
Who would have ever guessed that Kelly Kelly (WWE Divas champ) and Miss Tessmacher (co-holder of the TNA Knockouts tag title) would both be wearing gold at the same time? ...
Eric Young segments equal fast-forward.
With the WWE title belt in his possession, CM Punk crashed a Q&A session with Triple H at Comic-Con in San Diego today.
Punk and Triple H – who in story line is now in charge in WWE – engaged in a brief verbal exchange in front of a roomful of fans, who immediately broke out in a “CM Punk” chant when made his surprise appearance.
Despite all the buzz and major story line implications coming off the CM Punk-John Cena match at Sunday night’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view, the ratings for Monday’s episode of Raw were nothing special.
Raw did a 3.2 rating and 4.8 million viewers. That’s a significant increase from last week’s 2.9 rating/4.3 million viewers (that show was up against ESPN’s Home Run Derby), but the numbers still have to be considered a disappointment when looking at the trend.
To this point, the much-discussed Punk angle simply has not translated into a ratings spike. The rating for the June 27 Raw – the night Punk cut his initial worked shoot promo – did a 3.1 rating and 4.9 million viewers, numbers that are very similar to what this past Monday’s show did.
The three shows prior to the start of the angle were all in the 3.1 to 3.2 range and between 4.5 and 5 million viewers.
It will be very interesting to see what the buy rate comes in at for MITB, which was one of the most-anticipated pay-per-views in some time and ended up being one of the most critically acclaimed.
There was a sense of excitement and unpredictability heading into Monday night’s episode of Raw, and WWE delivered with a compelling final segment that had a plot twist no one saw coming.
Just as Vince McMahon was about to make good on his threat to fire John Cena, McMahon’s son-in-law, Triple H, came out in a suit with a concerned look on his face.
A somber Triple H broke the news to McMahon that the Board of Directors had decided to relieve the WWE chairman of his duties because of his recent questionable decisions, and he was now in charge.
McMahon broke down (and not in a cartoonish way), and the crowd mocked him with a “goodbye” serenade. However, just seconds later, as tears streamed down McMahon’s face, the crowd broke into a “Thank you, Vince” chant. I don’t think I have ever seen a crowd go from one extreme to the other that quickly. McMahon’s reactions throughout the entire segment with Triple H were really good.
This angle is another example of what appears to be a new creative direction for WWE. Not only is there a feeling that anything can happen on a given episode, but hardcore fans are being catered to a bit more.
Just as CM Punk’s real-life contract status and feelings of being underappreciated in WWE became the basis for a story line, Triple H succeeding McMahon as head of the company also is an example of art imitating life. While McMahon has not legitimately relinquished power, it’s no secret that Triple H is being groomed to take over the day-to-day operations at some point.
It will be very interesting to see what develops with Triple H becoming an on-air authority figure, especially as it relates to Punk, who was not on this show. Even though Triple H would not allow Cena to be fired and he seemed broken-hearted about having to tell McMahon that he was being ousted, I’m guessing that he ends up being a power-hungry heel who won’t forget that Punk referred to him as McMahon’s “doofus son-in-law.”
Other thoughts on Monday’s show:
The question of what happens to the WWE title now that Punk has left the company as champion was answered in the opening segment, as McMahon announced that an eight-man tournament would take place on the show to determine a new champion. It came down to The Miz versus Rey Mysterio in the finals, but McMahon postponed the match to next week because the show was running late and he wanted to address the Cena situation. I suppose there’s money to be made in crowning a new champion and then having Punk return with his title to set up a unification match, but I don’t like the idea of destroying the lineage of the championship. ...
If a new champion is indeed crowned next week, my guess is that it will be The Miz. A feud between Miz and Punk to determine the undisputed WWE champion would undoubtedly be entertaining. Speaking of Miz, he is gradually getting more and more of a babyface reaction, and the way he was booked on this show – as a guy who overcame a painful knee injury to win two tournament matches – certainly made him likeable. ...
I was very surprised that McMahon allowed a veiled reference to TNA/Impact Wrestling to get on the air. Cena said that if McMahon fired him, he would “walk on someone else’s television show and keep doing this, brother.” ...
It seemed very out of character for Triple H when he said, “I love you, Pop,” to McMahon, but it was supposed to. ...
Miz, who was being dominated by Alex Riley during their first-round match, got a big pop when he managed to pull out a win over his former protégé. ...
Mysterio’s win over Dolph Ziggler was the best of the tournament matches. Those two work very well together. Mysterio’s victory over R-Truth also was good. ...
The biggest upset of the tournament saw Kofi Kingston defeat Alberto Del Rio in the first round. Del Rio was my pick to win the whole thing. ...
R-Truth worked a babyface style in his win over fellow heel Jack Swagger. The crowd popped when R-Truth scored the pinfall. ...
The Miz-Kingston match was OK. ...
I loved the Gene Simmons-inspired mask that Mysterio was wearing. Hopefully, Simmons doesn’t file a lawsuit for copyright infringement. ...
It was pretty funny when McMahon told Mysterio that he wouldn’t deny him the chance to be WWF champion. It was even funnier when Jerry Lawler referred to Rosa Mendes as Melina during the seven-on-seven Divas match. But the funniest statement of all came from Michael Cole. As Triple H came out at the end, Cole said: “Ladies and gentleman, that’s Triple H.” Gee, thanks for letting us know. I thought for a second that it was Terra Ryzing.
"As great as Punk was and is during the whole angle, don't discount Cena’s work in all this. Contrary to what some say Cena is a GREAT worker"
-- Former WWE star Chris Jericho, via Twitter
CM Punk seems to be everyone’s favorite wrestler these days, and I can certainly understand that. Not only is he perhaps the best all-around performer in the business right now, but he has turned the wrestling world on its ear ever since his contract status became the main angle on WWE television.
But while we’re all praising Punk for his spectacular promo skills and in-ring ability, let’s not forget that there was another guy in the ring with Punk at Sunday night’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view, and his efforts in the Match of the Year candidate and the angle as a whole should not be overlooked.
You don’t have to like the character John Cena plays or how that character is booked, but as I’ve said many times, anyone who chants “You can’t wrestle” at Cena (which some fans did Sunday night at MITB) just don’t know what they’re talking about. He may not be an elite ring technician, but Cena has had too many outstanding pay-per-view matches in his career to still be labeled a sub-par worker.
He hasn’t just had outstanding matches with the likes of Punk, Shawn Michaels, Jericho and Edge, either. I recall Cena getting a heck of a match out of The Great Khali of all people several years ago.
Sure, Cena’s character gets a little stale at times and his “funny” promos don’t always work, but he was the perfect antagonist for Punk in this story line. Punk would have gotten a tremendous reaction from the hometown crowd in Chicago Sunday regardless of who his opponent was, but the atmosphere wouldn’t have been nearly as electric with anyone else as it was with Cena, who always draws a passionate response whether you love him or hate him.
You can definitely tell that CM Punk is having fun with his status as new WWE champion/former WWE employee.
First there was the refrigerator picture on Twitter and now this: TMZ.com has posted a photo gallery of Punk celebrating his victory over John Cena at Sunday night's Money in the Bank pay-per-view with wrestling buddies Colt Cabana and Ace Steel and some unidentified girls on the streets of Chicago.
To view the TMZ photo gallery, click here.
Newly crowned WWE champion CM Punk posted this on Twitter early this morning:
“The champ is … here.”
Sin Cara has been suspended 30 days for violating WWE's Wellness Policy, the company announced on its website.
Well, that explains why there was an injury angle with Cara at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view Sunday night. During the Smackdown MITB Ladder Match, the Mexican star was taken out on a stretcher after being powerbombed onto a ladder by Sheamus.
Cara's suspension has to be a great disappointment to WWE management, which has been grooming him to be a top star.
Now that the much-anticipated CM Punk-John Cena match at WWE’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view is history, there are more questions than answers as to what’s next for Punk, but at least one thing is certain:
On Sunday night, CM Punk became a “made man.”
In what was advertised as Punk’s last appearance with WWE due to his contract expiring at midnight, he defeated Cena for the WWE title and then stuck it to WWE chairman Vince McMahon by walking out of the company with the championship.
By doing so, Punk became an anti-establishment babyface who very well could become the next big thing in pro wrestling. Only time will tell, but at least the talented Punk now has the opportunity to prove that he can be a top guy.
The Punk-Cena match – which went nearly 35 minutes and took place before a raucous pro-Punk, anti-Cena crowd in Punk’s hometown of Chicago – was a fantastic climax to the best pay-per-view I’ve seen this year.
There were any number of scenarios being tossed around by wrestling fans and pundits as to how things were going to go down with Punk at this show. With Punk expected to take some time off, combined with the fact that McMahon said he would fire Cena “if Punk walks out with the championship,” I went with what seemed the most logical – and, admittedly, the most predictable – ending: Punk defeats Cena for the title, and then the Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match winner – most likely Alberto Del Rio – cashes in the briefcase and wins the title from Punk thanks to McMahon’s interference.
As it turned out, after Punk beat Cena for the title, he was able to thwart Del Rio’s attempt to cash in the MITB contract (the bell never rang, so Del Rio did not blow his opportunity).
It will be very interesting to see if Punk goes through with his sabbatical, and if he does, just how long he’ll be gone. I’m certainly looking forward to Raw tonight to see if Punk makes a farewell speech and how McMahon addresses the WWE title situation.
As for whether Cena will be “fired,” my guess is that McMahon will say that instead of terminating Cena, he’d rather keep him around to make his life miserable. McMahon insinuated as much in an interview with Josh Matthews during the show.
Punk was not the only new world champion crowned at MITB, as Christian defeated Randy Orton for the world heavyweight championship, thanks to the stipulation that Orton would lose the title if he was disqualified.
Surprisingly, the Smackdown MITB Ladder Match – which did not have nearly the star power of its Raw counterpart – was the better of the two, and both were quite good. The result of the Smackdown match was a very pleasant surprise as well, as Daniel Bryan captured the briefcase.
It certainly was quite a night for hardcore fans, as Punk and Christian emerged as world champions, and Bryan now appears destined to become a world champion within a year.
Here is a match-by-match look at the show:
CM Punk defeated WWE champion John Cena to win the title (33:43): Not everything these two did was smooth, but their overall efforts combined with an electric atmosphere and terrific story-telling made this an instant classic and a strong Match of the Year contender. The pace was slow at the start, which was to be expected since they were going long. At about the 10-minute mark, Punk slapped hands with Colt Cabana, who was sitting in the front row but was never identified in commentary. At the 13-minute mark, Punk hit a cross-body off the top onto Cena, who looked as if he was going to roll through it, but that didn’t happen and Cena sold a knee injury, which he continued to do for the rest of the match. Punk took a big bump at 13:40 when Cena suplexed him from the apron onto the floor. Around the 20-minute mark, heel commentator Michael Cole was actually rooting for Cena.
At 21:40, Punk nailed Cena flush on the chin with a knee and followed up with a bulldog and flying elbow for a near fall. Cena caught Punk in the STF at 22:50, but Punk got to the ropes and forced a break. There was a great sequence near the 25-minute mark, as Punk went for a cross-body off the top, but Cena rolled through and set up for the Attitude Adjustment. Punk reversed it into a GTS attempt, but Cena reversed that into another STF. Punk eventually slipped out of the hold and locked on a neck vice submission. It looked as if Cena might get choked out, but he managed to get to his feet and hit the AA. Cena made the cover, but Punk kicked out. At 28:40, Cena hit a leg drop off the top for a near fall. A minute later, Cena landed another AA, but Punk again kicked out of Cena’s finisher. At that point, Cena smiled in disbelief as he questioned the referee on his count.
At the 31-minute mark, Cena set up for an AA off the top, but Punk countered with a huracanrana. Punk then hit the GTS, but Cena rolled out of the ring. Suddenly, WWE chairman Vince McMahon and executive vice president of talent relations John Laurinaitis walked halfway down the aisle. Cena applied the STF again, and McMahon frantically called for the bell to be rung (a nod to the Montreal Screwjob) and sent Laurinaitis running down to the ring. Cena, however, released the hold and decked Laurinaitis. Cena yelled to McMahon that he wasn’t going to win that way. Cena then got back in the ring, but he walked right into a GTS, and Punk pinned him to win the title as the crowd went nuts. An incensed McMahon stormed down to ringside, ripped Jerry Lawler’s headset off at the announce table and demanded that Alberto Del Rio come down to cash in his Raw Money in the Bank contract. Del Rio suddenly came running down the aisle and into the ring, but Punk was ready for him and nailed him with a kick to the head. Punk then taunted McMahon by blowing him a goodbye kiss before he exited through the crowd with the WWE title belt in his possession. A stunned McMahon looked as if he was on the verge of tears.
Christian defeated world heavyweight champion Randy Orton by disqualification to win the title (12:17): The crowd was firmly behind Christian and booed Orton, although not nearly as lustily as they would boo Cena later on. During the opening minutes of the match, the fans chanted “Let’s go Christian,” and Michael Cole said they were chanting “Let’s go Randy.” That was funny. At the 9:20 mark, Orton went for the RKO, but Christian turned it into the Killswitch for a great near fall. Christian then set up for a spear, but Orton leapfrogged Christian and got a near fall after hitting a neckbreaker from an inverted body vice. Just before the 12-minute park, Christian, who was cowering in the corner as Orton went on the attack, spit directly in Orton’s face. Orton went ballistic and kicked Christian low right in front of the referee, who disqualified Orton and awarded the championship to Christian.
WWE fooled me with the result of this match, as I thought it was just too obvious for Orton to lose the title on the disqualification stipulation. After the match, Orton destroyed Christian, twice hitting the RKO on the announce table (which didn’t break either time). The crowd, which had been against Orton, suddenly got behind him during the post-match beatdown. I was waiting for Smackdown Money in the Bank Ladder Match winner Daniel Bryan to come out and cash in on the helpless Christian – and there was a mild “Daniel Bryan” chant – but it didn’t happen. It doesn’t make Bryan look to smart, but I suppose he’ll say that he doesn’t want to win the title that way, which makes sense for his character.
Alberto Del Rio won the Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match over Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, Rey Mysterio, R-Truth, Alex Riley and Jack Swagger (15:52): All eight competitors had a ladder at the start of the match, and seven of them went after Del Rio, which made sense since he had attacked most of them with a ladder six days prior on Raw. Bourne delivered the biggest spot of the night when he hit Air Bourne off a big ladder outside the ring onto a group of opponents on the floor. At the 5-minute mark, Del Rio knocked The Miz and Bourne off a ladder, and Miz sold like he had blown out his knee. He was carried out and it was unclear at that point if it was planned or if he was legitimately hurt.
Near the 13-minute mark, Kingston and Swagger knocked each other off the ladder, and Kingston appeared to land on Swagger’s head, which looked scary. Miz then made a dramatic return, hopping on one leg to the ring. As Miz scaled the ladder, Mysterio prevented him from reaching the briefcase and delivered a sunset flip into a powerbomb off the ladder. The crowd booed Mysterio. It came down to longtime rivals Del Rio and Mysterio battling on the ladder. As they fought over the briefcase, Del Rio ripped off Mysterio’s mask, and both guys tumbled to the mat. As Mysterio stayed down to hide his face, Del Rio climbed the ladder again and grabbed the briefcase for the victory.
Daniel Bryan won the Smackdown Money in the Bank Ladder Match over Wade Barrett, Sin Cara, Justin Gabriel, Kane, Cody Rhodes, Sheamus and Heath Slater (24:27): It didn’t take long for this match to get exciting, as Bryan, Gabriel, Slater and Cara all hit high-flying moves in rapid succession at the 4-minute mark. Shortly thereafter, Cara hit the C-4 off the top on Bryan, which got a huge pop. At the 7:30 mark, Cara took perhaps the biggest bump of the night when Sheamus powerbombed him off the apron onto a ladder, which broke. Cara was carried out on a stretcher, which I believe was an angle. Bryan also took a nasty-looking bump near the 14-minute mark when he was on the receiving end of the Doomsday Device – Kane came off the top with a clothesline while Bryan was perched on Sheamus’ shoulders.
Near the 21-minute mark, Sheamus took a hard bump when he was chokeslammed by Kane off a ladder onto another ladder. In one of the most impressive moves of the night, Gabriel hit the 450 Splash on Kane off a ladder that was lying across the ropes onto Kane in a very tight space. The finish saw Bryan and Barrett battling on the ladder. Barrett got Bryan in position for Wasteland, but Bryan battled out of it with repeated elbows to Barrett’s head. Bryan followed with a big kick to Barrett’s head, which knocked Barrett off the ladder. Bryan then grabbed the briefcase for the win, which the crowd popped big for. This was a really good match and I was happy to see Bryan win. Hopefully, he won’t become the first guy to cash in the briefcase and not win the title.
Mark Henry defeated The Big Show (5:58): “The World’s Strongest Man” was put over strong in this match. After Big Show kicked out of Henry’s World’s Strongest Slam, Henry hit the move a second time, and then landed two big splashes for the clean victory. After the match, Henry grabbed a chair and “Pillman-ized” Big Show’s ankle by hitting a Vader Bomb off the middle rope. It looked and sounded painful, and Big Show – who was carted out – did a great job of selling it.
WWE Divas champion Kelly Kelly defeated Brie Bella (4:48): There’s really not much to say about this one other than Kelly Kelly hit her K2 finisher to successfully defend her title. Eve Torres was in Kelly Kelly’s corner to neutralize Nikki Bella, but neither of them got involved in the match.
Photo of CM Punk blowing a farewell kiss to Vince McMahon courtesy of wwe.com
In a thrilling match that went nearly 35 minutes, CM Punk defeated John Cena to become the WWE champion in the main event of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view Sunday night.
It was advertised that Punk's WWE contract expired at midnight, so the future of the WWE title is unknown.
The atmosphere in Chicago was electric, as the crowd was fully behind hometown hero Punk.
The finish saw WWE chairman Vince McMahon try to interfere on Cena's behalf, but Cena would not allow it. The brief distraction allowed Punk to catch Cena with the GTS for the victory.
After the match, an incensed McMahon called out Alberto Del Rio -- who earlier in the evening won the Raw Money in the Bank Ladder match, which gives him the right to challenge for the WWE title any time, any place for up to a year -- but Punk quickly took him out before the referee had a chance to ring the bell.
Punk then left through the crowd with the WWE title belt.
Check back later for a full recap and analysis of the entire show.
Predictions for tonight’s pay-per-view:
WWE champion John Cena vs. CM Punk: This is the match that has the wrestling world buzzing. Punk has said that he is leaving WWE after this event, and I believe that to be true, although I don’t think he’ll be gone for very long. There’s no doubt that Punk will be heavily cheered tonight in his hometown of Chicago, and my guess is that he’ll be a babyface when he makes his inevitable return to WWE. There are a number of intriguing scenarios as to how this plays out tonight, the most shocking of which would be for Cena to turn heel and defeat Punk with the help of WWE chairman Vince McMahon. Another jaw-dropper would be Triple H (you know, Vince’s “doofus son-in-law”) screwing over Punk and costing him the title. I don’t think either of those will happen, though. From the moment McMahon said that Cena would be fired if Punk left with the championship (rather than saying Cena would be fired if he lost), I figured Punk was going to win the title and then immediately lose it to the winner of the Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match. I still think that’s what’s going to happen, although I wonder if WWE might go with something else just because so many people are expecting it. Here’s how I see it going down: Punk defeats Cena when McMahon’s interference (which Cena wanted no part of) backfires. Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match winner Alberto Del Rio then cashes in the briefcase and beats Punk for the title, thanks to an assist from McMahon. That sets up Del Rio vs. Cena at SummerSlam and for Punk to return somewhere down the line as a huge anti-establishment babyface.
World heavyweight champion Randy Orton vs. Christian: The stipulation is that Orton will lose the title if he’s disqualified or if there is “referee incompetence.” When Christian dropped the title to Orton back in May, I predicted that Christian would turn heel and eventually regain the championship. Well, I was half right. I’m no longer convinced that Christian is getting the belt back. Although the deck seems to be stacked against the champion tonight, I expect Orton to retain the title and move on to another challenger.
Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Evan Bourne, Alberto Del Rio, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, Rey Mysterio, R-Truth, Alex Riley, Jack Swagger): Tonight will be Del Rio’s night, as he'll capture the briefcase and then go on to achieve his destiny of becoming WWE champion. This match figures to blow away the Smackdown MITB contest.
Smackdown Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan, Sin Cara, Justin Gabriel, Kane, Cody Rhodes, Sheamus and Heath Slater): I’d love for Bryan to pull an upset and get the win, but I just don’t see that happening. I think it has to be either Sheamus or Barrett. Sheamus is almost too obvious, so I’ll go with Barrett.
The Big Show vs. Mark Henry: The buildup to this match has been good and Henry has played the monster heel role perfectly. It wouldn’t be a smart move to kill Henry’s momentum, so I think he’ll come out on top.
WWE Divas champion Kelly Kelly vs. Brie Bella: Kelly Kelly is WWE’s current “it girl,” so this figures to be a successful title defense for her. I wouldn’t be surprised if Eve Torres shows up in KK’s corner to combat interference from Nikki Bella.
I wrote last week that the Randy Orton-Christian program was being diluted by the involvement of Sheamus, but WWE got things back on track on Friday night’s episode of Smackdown.
The main story line for the go-home show to Sunday’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view – where Orton will defend the world heavyweight title against Christian – featured Christian taunting the anger-management-challenged Orton, who will lose the championship Sunday if he gets disqualified.
WWE did a good job of planting doubt in fans’ minds as to whether Orton can keep himself under control against Christian. The show ended with an enraged Orton taking out his frustration with Christian on Kane, whom Orton repeatedly walloped with a chair while Christian smirked at him from the stage.
As for Sheamus, it wasn’t a good night for him, as he lost to Sin Cara.
Other thoughts on Friday’s show:
The verbal exchange between Orton and Christian that opened the show was good. As for the segments in which Christian was trying to get under Orton’s skin, they ranged from entertaining (stealing Orton’s wallet and losing $1,000 of his money at the roulette table) to lame (Christian popping up in one of Orton’s scenes from “That’s What I Am” and making fun of his acting). …
The main event that pitted Orton against Kane was an interesting matchup. Despite being in the same company for nearly a decade, the two veterans haven’t been in the ring together all that often. …
One of the best parts of the show was the excellent video package on Raw’s CM Punk-John Cena feud. …
Mark Henry did a nice job on the mic during his verbal confrontation with The Big Show. Henry is coming off more like a big star now than at any time in his career. …
In regard to Henry’s match against Big Show at MITB, Smackdown general manager Teddy Long said, “We’ll let God sort it out.” What? …
Sheamus and Cara worked pretty well together. I was surprised that Sheamus took the pinfall loss. …
It was nice to see Wade Barrett get some heat back, as he laid out Sheamus after Sheamus’ match. …
The Cody Rhodes-Daniel Bryan match – which Rhodes won clean – was pretty good. …
Ted DiBiase Jr. is being booked more and more as a sympathetic figure. Michael Cole buried DiBiase in commentary during his loss to Intercontinental champion Ezekiel Jackson, and Rhodes berated him backstage after the match. …
Speaking of Cole burying people, he absolutely destroyed Booker – again – during their exchanges. It’s gotten to the point where I’m starting to get embarrassed for Booker. …
Jinder Mahal’s menacing facial expression while intimidating a photographer backstage was tremendous. …
Justin Gabriel worked as the babyface in his match against former tag-team partner Heath Slater. Gabriel – who won the match – is better-suited as a face. …
I still can’t believe that Slater is in the MITB ladder match. The promo that he cut on the way to the ring was not impressive. …
What was with that look between Kelly Kelly and Alicia Fox after KK defeated Rosa Mendes?
When Mr. Anderson defeated Sting for the TNA world title last month, I wrote that it was definitely time to get the belt off the 52-year-old “Icon,” but that Anderson getting another run as champion didn’t do much for me.
Well, Anderson ended up being just a transitional champion. Unfortunately, the man he was keeping the belt warm for turned out to be ... Sting.
Sting – who regained the title from Anderson on Thursday’s episode of Impact Wrestling – has been very entertaining since adopting his Joker persona, but putting the belt back on him at this point in his career seems like a creative misstep to me.
It had been announced earlier in the show that No. 1 contender Kurt Angle would face the winner of the Anderson-Sting match for the championship at next month’s Hardcore Justice pay-per-view. I figured it would be Angle versus Anderson, but it looks as if we’re getting an all-babyface matchup of Angle versus Sting.
Regardless of who Angle’s opponent is at Hardcore Justice, I think he’ll win the title there and still be the champion at October’s Bound for Glory, where he’ll then pass the torch to someone (Matt Morgan?) from the BFG Series.
Back to Thursday’s episode. The show-long story line featured Sting’s mysterious allies – four bat-wielding guys wearing evil clown masks and black trench coats – taking out the Immortal members one by one in backstage attacks. It was later revealed that it was Fortune’s A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian and James Storm under the masks.
During the Anderson-Sting main event, Bully Ray entered the ring to attack Sting after a ref bump. Then the lights went out, and when they came back on, another masked clown was in the ring. The clown took out Bully Ray with a bat, and then Sting hit the Scorpion Death Drop on Anderson for the victory.
After the match, the clown revealed himself to be Angle.
Other thoughts on Thursday’s show:
I have to admit that I didn’t see it coming that it was Fortune under the clown masks. I was thinking it was Matt Borne, Ray Apollo, Steve Keirn and Steve Lombardi. ...
So let me get this straight: Four guys in creepy clown masks attack one guy (Gunner), who stands his ground and tries to fight them before being beaten down, and he’s the heel and the clowns are the faces. Only in TNA. ...
Angle said during his promo that he had never beaten Sting. That’s not true. He defeated Sting for the TNA world title in October 2007. ...
Sting did a nice job on the mic during his show-opening verbal confrontation with Hulk Hogan and the rest of Immortal. Sting said that he was going to see to it that the company ends up back in the hands of its rightful owner – Dixie Carter. That’s the first time we’ve heard her name mentioned on TV in some time. ...
The three-way BFG Series match that saw Bobby Roode pin Samoa Joe (“The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero also was in the match) was decent. I wonder where TNA is going with Joe’s losing streak angle. ...
Just wondering: Why was Hogan sitting in his office for the meeting with Immortal with his shirt unbuttoned all the way? ...
Devon played his role as a protective, angry father well during his backstage confrontation with Dinero. ...
You have to be impressed with what Austin Aries brings to the table. Signing Aries – who defeated Shannon Moore on this show – was a very good move by TNA. ...
It was pretty obvious that Tara’s pet tarantula was going to be inside the present that she had for Madison Rayne, but the angle still worked. I’m surprised the tarantula didn’t end up crawling on Rayne. ...
I was shaking my head at Mexican America defeating The British Invasion in a match to determine the challengers for Beer Money’s TNA world tag team title at Hardcore Justice. Mexican America had go-away heat, while the crowd was really behind The British Invasion. Plus, Douglas Williams and Magnus are way better in the ring than Hernandez and Anarquia. Magnus, by the way, is starting to look more and more like a future star. ...
I liked the video highlights package of last Sunday’s Destination X pay-per-view. I also thought it was good that new TNA X Division champion Brian Kendrick and No. 1 contender Alex Shelley got some mic time to hype their match for next week’s Impact. Also announced for that show: A ladder match between Styles, Morgan, Gunner and Joe; TNA Knockouts champion Mickie James defending against Velvet Sky; and Rob Van Dam vs. Scott Steiner.
CM Punk pulled no punches in a fascinating interview with GQ that was conducted this past Tuesday, the day after what is expected to be the controversial WWE star’s last appearance on Raw for some time.
Here are some of the highlights of an interview I strongly recommend reading:
On how much of the current story line about him leaving WWE is real: “How much is real? That's 100 percent real. That's not to say that there are still not negotiations. It's not like I'm leaving and they're like, ‘Good. Go f*** yourself.’ I think that's why this whole thing works. I'm not doing my job if people are like, ‘What you do is fake.’ And literally people on the street are confused, generally, for the first time. That's a great thing.”
On his co-workers’ reaction to his recent promos: “Nothing but positive stuff. Everybody wants to say what I said. There's a lot of unrest. There are a lot of people who are unhappy. I don't want to say I'm their hero, but a lot of people have said that. It's not like we work for a tyrant. It's like this in every job, I think. There's certain people who are afforded privileges and maybe, maybe don't deserve them."
On the gay slur that he made to a fan at a live event in Australia: “When I saw that TMZ picked it up, because what a salacious story, I was legit embarrassed. My best friend Chez, ever since I have known her, has tried to curb anyone around her from using any gay slur. It's something that slipped out, more in reference to the guy's faux-hawk. It's not like he said anything that made me mad. It was just a back-and-forth that everybody was enjoying until I slipped and said something that could potentially damage somebody. I wasn't proud of it. I have gay friends, and sitting there in Australia, I was immediately thinking, ‘What are they going to say? Are they going to be disappointed?’ Before I even talked to anybody in the office, I went to Twitter, and I apologized. It wasn't a public relations statement. It was just that I f***ed up.”
On what his plans when his WWE contract expires Sunday: “I'm looking forward to not setting an alarm, not flying anywhere, not having a schedule. I think everyone's dream is to do nothing. I want to have time off and not be injured. I want it to be summer vacation, where I don't have anything to do for three months.”
To read the entire interview, click here.
It seems as if my entry on the Raw ratings declining despite the buzz-worthy CM Punk angle has gotten people riled up, so I want to clarify a few things regarding the subject.
Some readers took exception with the headline to Wednesday’s blog post, which read: “The shocking truth: CM Punk does not equal ratings.” Yes, I used some hyperbole to grab readers’ attention, but I never expected people to take things so literally. Saying someone does or does not equal ratings is part of the wrestling lexicon. And as far as using “the shocking truth,” the fact is that I was legitimately stunned that the rating for this past Monday’s Raw – which featured a much-talked-about angle – was just a 2.9.
Did I mean to imply that Punk is incapable of ever being a ratings draw? Absolutely not. In fact, let me be perfectly clear about something: I’m a CM Punk mark. I proudly wear my Punk t-shirt, and his entrance music is my ring tone for God’s sake.
But I cannot stick my head in the sand and ignore Monday’s rating (and I’m sure if I did, some readers would accuse me of being a WWE apologist). I also won’t try to explain it away by blaming the low number on the Home Run Derby, the summer, the post-WrestleMania doldrums, DVRs or anything else. Except for the Derby, none of those factors are unique to this past Monday.
And as far as the effect of the Derby is concerned, Raw – in going head-to-head with the annual home-run hitting contest on ESPN – did a 3.3 last year, and 3.6, 3.2 and 3.4 the previous three years (source: pwtorch.com). A 2.9, obviously, is well below the average.
That’s not to say that Sunday’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view won’t do a good buy rate, but like I said, the rating for Monday’s show is cause for concern. Ratings may not mean as much in this day and age as they used to, but they still matter to people in the television industry and advertisers. And I'm guessing that they matter to Vince McMahon, too.
Bound for Glory, TNA’s biggest pay-per-view of the year, will take place at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia on Oct. 16, the company announced.
That's not too far up the road for me, so I'll likely be there.
Here’s a trailer for the event:
While it’s obvious now that CM Punk’s recent “shoot promos” on Raw are part of an angle, his initial anti-WWE rant and use of insider references made viewers question if what they were seeing was part of the show or if Punk had gone rogue on live television.
Over the past 15 years or so, there have been a number of instances in pro wrestling in which the line between work and shoot were blurred.
Here’s my list of the top 10 moments that made you go, “Wait a minute. Was that supposed to happen?” (I did not include Punk’s promo on the list because I think it’s still too fresh in everyone’s minds to put it in perspective):
10. MATT HARDY ATTACKS EDGE (WWE Raw, 2005): The real-life breakup of Hardy and longtime girlfriend Lita – which was the result of her affair with Edge – played out on the Internet, but was not initially acknowledged in WWE story lines. Hardy, who had been fired by WWE as part of the fallout, showed up unannounced on Raw and jumped Edge backstage. He was able to escape out the backdoor before security could apprehend him. Later on the show during Edge’s match with Kane, Hardy appeared again. This time, he ran into the ring and engaged in a pull-apart brawl with Edge. Hardy grabbed the mic and cursed at Edge, called Lita a “whore” and said that “WWE can kiss my ass.” He then mentioned his upcoming appearance on a Ring of Honor show before security got him on the ground, handcuffed him and took him away.
The verdict: It was a work that was based on a real-life situation. Hardy was reinstated and he and Edge worked the program together without incident.
9. SCOTT STEINER CUTS A SHOOT PROMO ON RIC FLAIR AND WCW (WCW Nitro, 2000):
Steiner was not involved in a story line with Flair, yet he cut a profanity-laced, scathing promo on “The Nature Boy” on live TV. The highlight of the promo was Steiner saying that when Flair appeared on TV the previous week, all the viewers “changed the channel to the WWF to watch Stone Cold – a guy you and your old friends got fired from here.” He concluded by saying that Flair belongs “in WCW because WCW sucks!”
The verdict: It was a shoot. Steiner has never hidden his disdain for Flair, and this was a case of him going off script and expressing his true feelings. For his unprofessional conduct, Steiner was suspended for two weeks – with pay! Yeah, WCW management really showed him.
8. BAM BAM BIGELOW SHOVES LAWRENCE TAYLOR (WWE Royal Rumble, 1995):
After the massive Bigelow had been pinned by The 1-2-3 Kid (Sean Waltman) in a tag team match, the crowd began heckling him. Taylor, who was sitting in the front row, was shown on camera getting a chuckle out of the situation. An angry Bigelow came over to confront the NFL great, who stood up and smiled at Bigelow and extended his hand. Bigelow responded by delivering a hard shove to Taylor, who had to be restrained by his entourage from going after Bigelow.
The verdict: It was a work. That became obvious when it was played up on WWE television and ultimately led to a match between Bigelow and Taylor that headlined WrestleMania XI. When the incident first took place, however, it came out of the blue and had a realistic feel to it.
7. DANIEL PUDER SHOOTS ON KURT ANGLE IN AN EXHIBITION MATCH (WWE Smackdown, 2004): Puder was a competitor on Tough Enough, which at that time took place within episodes of Smackdown. Angle was playing a bully and had just manhandled one of the participants in a shoot match. He then issued a challenge to anyone else who wanted to try him. Puder, who had an MMA background, volunteered. Instead of Angle teaching him a lesson, however, Puder held his own and was able to catch Angle in a keylock (a submission hold). Puder was on his back at the time, and one of the referees quickly counted three and awarded the match to Angle. After it was over, an incensed Angle got in Puder’s face.
The verdict: It was a shoot. Casual viewers may not have thought twice about it, but those with knowledge of MMA fighting realized that Angle was in real trouble, and had the referee not sensed it and made the three count, Angle would have either had to tap out or risk serious injury. Obviously, that would have been a disaster for both Angle and WWE. Puder ended up winning Tough Enough, but he didn’t last long in WWE.
6. STING SQUASHES JEFF HARDY IN 88 SECONDS (TNA Victory Road, 2011): In this match for the TNA title, challenger Hardy came out looking as if he was in no shape to perform. Just before the match was set to begin, Eric Bischoff came to the ring and announced that it would be a no-disqualification match. He then said something off mic to Hardy and Sting. If you listened closely, you could hear Bischoff saying, “Just squash him,” to Sting. Shortly after the opening bell, Sting hit the Scorpion Death Drop and appeared to put all of his weight Hardy for the three count. Hardy clearly tried to kick out at two but was unsuccessful. Hardy seemed stunned that he was pinned , and he did not sell the effects of the move at all. He said something to the referee and then walked over to the corner and smacked the turnbuckle in frustration. As the crowd voiced its displeasure at the 88-second main event while Sting walked back up the ramp, Sting – who had a sour look on his face during most of this – said, “I agree, I agree.”
The verdict: It was a shoot. Bischoff and Vince Russo love doing worked shoots, so you always have to be suspicious of anything they’re involved in, but this one was legitimate. The incident happened in March and Hardy hasn’t been used in TNA since.
5. RIC FLAIR SUFFERS A HEART ATTACK ON LIVE TV (WCW Nitro,1998):
For years, fans have said facetiously that Flair was going to have a heart attack someday while he’s delivering one of his screaming, wild-eyed promos in which the veins are popping out of his head. On this episode of Nitro, that’s exactly what appeared to happen. While ranting and raving about Eric Bischoff in an interview with Gene Okerlund, an out-of-breath Flair began clutching his chest and arm and then slumped down in the corner of the ring. He was taken out on a stretcher and whisked away in an ambulance.
The verdict: It was a work.
4. VINCE RUSSO ORDERS JEFF JARRETT TO LAY DOWN FOR HULK HOGAN, THEN CUTS A SHOOT PROMO ON HOGAN (WCW Bash at the Beach, 2000): Russo came out at the start of the main event match between WCW world champion Jarrett and Hogan and ordered Jarrett to allow Hogan to pin him. After at first refusing to go along with it, Hogan reluctantly covered Jarrett to win the title. While doing so, Hogan said to Russo: “This is why this company’s in the shape it’s in – because of [BS] like this.” Russo came back later in the show and cut a vitriolic, profanity-laced promo about Hogan playing backstage politics. He then declared the belt that Hogan left with to be worthless, and said that Jarrett was still the real champion and would defend the title that night against Booker T.
The verdict: It was a work that became a shoot. The scenario was scripted, but Russo apparently went further with his derogatory remarks about Hogan during his promo than “The Hulkster” had expected. Hogan filed a lawsuit against Russo and WCW for defamation of character, which was ultimately dismissed.
To watch Russo’s promo, click here. Warning: There is a lot of profanity.
3. BRIAN PILLMAN TO KEVIN SULLIVAN: 'I RESPECT YOU, BOOKERMAN' (WCW SuperBrawl, 1996): In a strap match in which the loser had to say “I respect you” to the winner, Pillman – who was doing his “Loose Cannon” gimmick – and Sullivan engaged in a realistic-looking brawl before the opening bell and never even got the strap secured around their wrists. About a minute into the action, Pillman grabbed the microphone and said, “I respect you, bookerman,” and then walked out of the ring. Sullivan was the WCW booker at that time, which – obviously – had never been mentioned on TV. Pillman was fired by WCW shortly thereafter.
The verdict: It was a work – although the aftermath turned into a shoot. WCW executive Eric Bischoff, Pillman and Sullivan tried to work everyone – including people in the company – into believing that the incident was legitimate. To that end, Pillman convinced Bischoff to actually fire him and file the proper paperwork. As part of the story line, Pillman took his “Loose Cannon” gimmick to ECW. The plan was that he would cause a stir there and eventually return to WCW, but since he was officially a free agent, he ended up double-crossing WCW and signing with WWE.
2. SHAWN MICHAELS COLLAPSES (WWE Raw 1995): A month after Michaels was legitimately badly beaten up by several men outside a bar, he returned to TV to face Owen Hart. After several minutes of action, Michaels suddenly began to stumble, grabbed his head and collapsed in the ring. At that point, the match came to a halt. As the referee checked on Michaels, Hart broke character and seemed concerned. Announcer Vince McMahon could be heard saying softly, “Go to black,” and then he entered the ring. After an awkward cutaway to a commercial break, the show resumed with medical personnel working on a seemingly unconscious Michaels, as the camera showed some women in the crowd in tears. The show went off the air with Michaels still down.
The verdict: It was work. A lot of fans were fooled because that kind of angle just wasn’t done in WWE at the time, and also because people knew the beating Michaels suffered outside the ring was legitimate. Michaels made a triumphant return at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, where he won the Rumble match and went on to win the WWE title for the first time at WrestleMania XII.
1. THE MONTREAL SCREWJOB (WWE Survivor Series, 1997): In the most infamous match in wrestling history, WWE chairman Vince McMahon screwed WWE champion Bret Hart – who was bound for rival WCW – by ordering referee Earl Hebner to call for the bell while Hart was caught in his own Sharpshooter finisher by Shawn Michaels. An enraged Hart spat at McMahon and destroyed TV equipment in front of the crowd, and supposedly punched McMahon in the face backstage.
The verdict: The popular opinion is that it was a shoot, but there are still people who swear that it was the most elaborate work in the history of the business.
CM Punk turned the wrestling world on its ear with his brilliant worked-shoot promo on Raw two weeks ago, but while wrestling websites and social media outlets have been buzzing, viewers for Raw have been bailing.
Last week’s lowly 2.4 rating (3.7 million viewers) for Raw was explained away by the fact that it aired on July 4. However, this past Monday’s show only did a 2.9 (4.3 million viewers), which is a disappointment no matter how you look at it.
That’s a significant decline from the June 27 show (the night Punk cut his much-talked about promo), which did a 3.1 rating and 4.9 million viewers. The special three-hour episodes the previous two weeks each did 3.1 ratings and 4.5 million viewers, while the June 6 Raw did a 3.2 and 5 million viewers.
The numbers seem to indicate that the Punk angle, which is geared toward hardcore fans, is not resonating with the masses. Either that or casual wrestling fans would rather watch the sluggers on Home Run Derby than the bruisers on Raw.
I think a lot of people in the wrestling community (including me) have been thinking that Sunday’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view – which is headlined by WWE champion John Cena’s title defense against Punk in what is being billed as Punk’s last night with the company – is going to do a better-than-usual buy rate, and it still may, but the ratings dip suggests otherwise.
That would be unfortunate, because it would send a message to WWE decision-makers that “insider” angles such as this one aren’t good for business. It also would give some ammunition to the Punk detractors in the company who don’t think that he’s a draw.
The Rock answered John Cena’s recent trash talk with a fantastic promo that was – to quote Michael Cole – vintage Rock.
The promo was tremendously entertaining, although I don’t think The Rock accomplished his main goal, which was to refute Cena’s criticism of him telling fans that he’s back to stay but then disappearing.
From the moment I heard The Rock say that he was back and never leaving on Raw earlier this year, I knew it was going to come back to bite him.
In this video, Rock says that he never meant that he was going to be at every single WWE show. Well, of course not, but just showing up a couple times a year doesn’t really constitute being “back.”
Rock did say that he would see Cena in person before WrestleMania XXVIII.
Warning: There is some mild profanity in the video.
I’m surprised at the largely negative reaction from readers to John Cena’s performance on Raw Monday night. While there’s no doubt that CM Punk was the star of the show, I thought that Cena held up his end and that he and Punk played well off each other.
While Cena did get a little side-tracked with some lame comedy during the final segment, he was mostly serious and smooth on the mic. I wonder if some fans are just so anti-Cena that they have their minds made up about his performances as soon as his entrance music starts playing.
I’m also a bit surprised that some readers said they didn’t care for the final segment because it didn’t come across as “real” like Punk’s promo at the end of Raw did two weeks ago. That’s not really fair, in my opinion. Two weeks ago, none of us were prepared for Punk to “shoot” the way he did. It grabbed our attention and blurred the line between reality and fantasy.
But that can only really be done once. By the time Monday’s show took place, it was obvious to everyone – at least, it should have been – that this is an angle. WWE did try to keep some of the realistic feel to it by having Punk say things that you don’t usually hear on WWE TV. I’m not sure what more people were expecting.
My first thought when Drew McIntyre, Mark Henry and The Big Show all took bumps off the stage was that McIntyre was legitimately shaken up. According to pwinsider.com, that was indeed the case, although he was not seriously injured.
While Henry and The Big Show fell onto a gimmicked platform, McIntyre landed behind it and out of view. You could see medical personnel tending to him in the background while the camera focused on Henry and Big Show. McIntyre reportedly was not supposed to take the bump off the stage, but he slipped and fell.
I made a joke in the Raw post from earlier today about wanting to touch one of the Bellas, which was a play off of something that one of the twins said to Eve Torres. The truth is that I have actually touched both of the Bellas, and I have the photo to prove it.
The picture below is from the WWE’s reception for the media during WrestleMania XXVII weekend last April in Atlanta. The Bella twins were my dates for the evening (well, not really, but it makes for a better story).
Ring of Honor champion Davey Richards and tag team champions Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin will defend their titles at ROH’s first set of TV tapings for the Sinclair Broadcast Group.
The tapings will take place on Aug. 13 at Chicago’s Frontier Fieldhouse. The show makes it broadcast television debut on Sept. 24.
Also scheduled to appear at the tapings are: ROH television champion El Generico, The Kings of Wrestling, Eddie Edwards, Jay and Mark Briscoe and The All-Night Express.
For more information, go to rohwrestling.com.
First CM Punk tore WWE chairman Vince McMahon a new one, and then he tore up his new WWE contract.
It all took place during the highly compelling final segment of Raw Monday night, which featured “live contract negotiations” between Punk and McMahon.
Punk, who opened and closed the show with more worked-shoot comments, again was outstanding on the microphone.
John Cena, who confronted Punk in both segments, also was very good. He stepped up his game and reminded us just how talented he is on the mic when he has the right material.
The most interesting development about the Punk-Cena-McMahon confrontation is that it basically turned Punk into an anti-establishment babyface. The crowd in Boston – which is in Cena’s backyard – was extremely hot for Punk.
My guess is that the final segment convinced a significant amount of people who were on the fence about Sunday’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view – where Punk will challenge Cena for the WWE title in what is being promoted as Punk’s last night with the company – to buy it.
There are a number of possible scenarios for how things will play out at Sunday, but no matter what happens, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Punk in WWE. He may take a brief hiatus, but I just can’t imagine that he’s being given this much TV time and freedom on the mic to mock the company and McMahon if he’s leaving.
The premise of the closing segment was that McMahon was willing to meet Punk’s contract demands so that he could ensure that Punk would not leave the company with the WWE title Sunday night. Punk, however, presented McMahon with a revised contract in which he wanted all kinds of outrageous perks, including his own private jet and his face on every kind of WWE merchandise imaginable.
Punk also said that McMahon was a bully, and he demanded that McMahon apologize for suspending him and firing some of his friends, specifically Colt Cabana and Luke Gallows. Punk – who said that he’s a bad guy but he’s in touch with what the fans want – referred to himself as “the voice of the voiceless.”
Throughout most of Punk’s rant, McMahon just sat there and took it. He eventually issued an angry apology to Punk and was about to sign Punk’s contract when Cena came out to interrupt.
Cena called Punk a hypocrite and compared him to The Rock for saying that he’s in tune when the fans but he’s going to walk out on them Sunday night. Punk eventually turned things around on Cena, saying that Cena portrays himself as an underdog, but he’s become a dynasty. Punk compared Cena to the Boston professional sports teams and said that Cena has become the thing that he hates. “You’ve become the New York Yankees,” he said.
Cena responded with a punch to Punk’s face. Punk then walked up the aisle, sat on the stage and ripped up his contract, saying that after he beats Cena for the title at MITB, he’ll “go be the best in the world someplace else.”
That was a terrific piece of business, and all three men played their roles perfectly.
Other thoughts on Monday’s show:
Punk picked right up where he left off two weeks ago, saying all sorts of things that you wouldn’t normally hear on WWE programing, such as “professional wrestling” and “belt.” He also again referred to people in WWE as “ass kissers” and insulted Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, saying he’s the only guy who “has the balls” to say such stuff. The one thing Punk said that shocked me was when he brought up that WWE only gets mainstream attention for two things: when he speaks his mind or a wrestler dies. I didn’t think WWE would allow him to go there. …
Punk bringing out a megaphone during his show-opening promo just in case WWE tried to cut his mic off again was a nice touch. …
One of the funniest parts of Punk’s confrontation with McMahon was when he said that he wants his face on WWE ice cream bars, which prompted a “we want ice cream” chant from the crowd. …
Usually I hate it when one guy defeats the tag team champions in a handicap match, but I didn’t mind it at all when Cena beat Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga. Those guys are a joke as champs and Cena should be able to handle them. …
I liked the angle where Mark Henry ran full steam into Big Show just as he was about to chokeslam Drew McIntyre off the stage, and all three guys went flying off the stage and through a platform. Yes it was obvious that the object they landed on was padded, but I still thought it was a good visual, and I’d rather the guys be safe. With that being said, it appeared that McIntyre missed the mark and was legitimately shaken up. …
The video package for the MITB ladder match was very well done. …
The six-man tag match that saw Alex Riley, Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne defeat The Miz, R-Truth and Jack Swagger was entertaining. Of course it was no surprise that Swagger was the one who got pinned – again. …
There was an awkward sequence during the six-man match, as Kingston tried to clothesline R-Truth over the top rope on two occasions and both times they failed to pull it off. …
Alberto Del Rio showed a lot of intensity when he took out all six guys with a ladder after the match. He may actually have been too intense, as some of the ladder shots appeared a little stiff. It looked dangerous when Del Rio threw the ladder over the top rope onto The Miz. …
The talking segment that set up the six-man was good. R-Truth was hilarious when he talked about having a fear of heights, saying that he had arachnophobia (he intentionally mispronounced it). Then he said that he also had a fear of spiders, and there had better not be any on the ladder or in the briefcase that will be suspended above the ring. …
Just wondering: Why is U.S. champion Dolph Ziggler not in the MITB ladder match, but Kingston – the guy Ziggler beat for the title – is? …
Wow, how far has Melina’s star fallen? She was basically squashed by Kelly Kelly. I can’t say I disagree with Kelly Kelly being WWE’s “it girl,” though. …
Apparently fat jokes are passé and anorexic jokes are in, as the Bellas mocked Kelly Kelly for not eating. One of the twins messed up her lines, however, as she said that KK was “malnurtured.” She meant “malnourished.” …
After the Bellas beat down KK after the match, Eve Torres came out to make the save, but the Bellas overpowered her. One of the Bellas then got in Eve’s face and said angrily, “You wanna touch my sister?!” Well, I can’t speak for Eve, but I want to touch her sister.
I didn’t watch TNA’s Destination X pay-per-view Sunday night, but here are the results, courtesy of impactwrestling.com:
• A.J. Styles defeated Christopher Daniels
• Brian Kendrick defeated TNA X Division champion Abyss to win the title
• Rob Van Dam defeated Jerry Lynn
• Kazarian defeated Samoa Joe
• Austin Aries defeated Low-Ki, Jack Evans and Zema Ion to win a TNA contract
• Alex Shelley defeated Shannon Moore, Amazing Red and Robbie E. in the Ultimate X match to determine the No. 1 contender for the X Division title
• Douglas Williams defeated Mark Haskins
• Eric Young and Shark Boy defeated Generation Me
Quick hits: I was glad that Daniels did not turn heel on Styles. We’ve already seen Daniels turn on his real-life best friend and feud with him in the past, so it’s not like it would be fresh. ... It’s nice that the X Division title is back around the waist of an actual X Division wrestler, and Kendrick is certainly a talented performer. However, he was made to look so weak in the buildup to this match that putting the belt on him now just weakens the title, in my opinion. ... Aries is the guy I expected to win the contract and he is probably the best all-around performer of the four guys that were in the match, but I’d love to see TNA sign Low-Ki and Evans as well. I don’t know enough about Ion to have an opinion on him. ... Shelley was the right guy to go over in the Ultimate X match. He dedicated his victory to his injured tag team partner, Chris Sabin, who celebrated in the ring with Shelley after the match. ... I was shaking my head when I read that Generation Me jobbed to Young and Shark Boy, but with today’s news that Generation Me has requested and been granted their release, the result makes sense. ... Haskins, who answered Williams' open challenge, is a native of England who wrestled on TNA's European tour earlier this year.
Your turn: For those of you who watched Destination X, what did you think of it?
Generation Me – Max and Jeremy Buck – have requested and been granted their release from TNA, Max Buck (aka Matt Jackson) announced on Twitter.
“Great experience, but definitely time to move on to something new,” he wrote. “So much to say, but I'm gonna sit & let this all digest for awhile.”
On their final night with the company, Generation Me jobbed to Eric Young and Shark Boy at the Destination X pay-per-view Sunday night.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Generation Me end up back with Ring of Honor, where they worked as The Young Bucks prior to signing with TNA. They wrestled in a dark match at ROH’s Best in the World Internet pay-per-view last month.
In other news, Orlando Jordan also has been released by TNA, according to wrestlingobserver.com.
Jeff Jarrett issued the following news release today:
He's been known as Double J, the Chosen One, the King of the Mountain, or simply Jeff Jarrett. An 11-time world champion, he is the Founder of TNA and just celebrated his 25th anniversary in the great sport of professional wrestling. And now, Jeff is very excited to offer his fans the chance to purchase some classic memorabilia from his 25-year career!
He's gone into his warehouse and will be offering some unique, never-before-available collectibles from throughout his career, whether it be from his early days in USWA, to his days as Double J in WWF, as the Chosen One in WCW or now as the King of the Mountain in the company he founded, TNA.
As we sort through all of his classic wrestling gear, title belts, wrestling boots, pictures and more to prepare for the official launch, Jeff wanted to go ahead and make available a pre-launch combo pack for the fans that have been asking.
This combo pack features three (3) items from the Slap Nuts era in WCW:
Jeff Jarrett Pre-launch Slap Nuts Combo Pack
- Slap Nuts foam guitar
- Slap Nuts Blvd street sign
- Slap Nuts sunglasses
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Impact Wrestling will be venturing out of the Impact Zone studio in Orlando, Fla., in the upcoming months to shoot episodes in three cities, TNA announced in a news release.
The shows will be taped on Aug. 25 in Huntsville, Ala.; Sept. 21 in Knoxville, Tenn.; and Oct. 26 in Macon, Ga.
My take: I think this is a good decision by TNA. I have attended tapings at the Impact Zone and I think it’s a fun atmosphere, but doing some shows at arenas in various cities will make TNA come off as more of a major league promotion.
Instead of building to a climax, the Randy Orton-Christian world heavyweight title program seems to be losing steam as we move closer to their next match, which takes place at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view on July 17.
I think the reason the program is losing some of its luster is because of the involvement of Sheamus, whose presence is clouding the personal issue between Orton and Christian. It doesn’t help matters that Sheamus is coming off as more of a threat to Orton than Christian is.
After taking out both Orton and Christian at the end of last week’s Smackdown, Sheamus faced Orton in a non-title match in the main event of Friday night’s episode. Christian ended up interfering in the match, which gave Orton the win by disqualification. Sheamus then laid out Christian again before falling victim to an RKO to end the show.
Unless it is announced next week that the title match at MITB is going to be a triple threat with the addition of Sheamus, I hope the go-home show puts the emphasis back on the feud between Orton and Christian.
Other thoughts on Friday’s show:
Thanks to Sheamus and Christian, the opening segment ended up being decent. It began with all of the Smackdown MITB participants in the ring except for Sheamus. Several of the guys cut promos, and it was going nowhere until Sheamus showed up with a chair and cleared the ring. He and Christian then had a verbal confrontation. …
The new stipulations for the Orton-Christian match are that Orton will lose the title if he’s disqualified or if there is more referee incompetence. Josh Matthews asked the obvious question: Who determines what constitutes referee incompetence? …
Mark Henry scored an impressive win over Kane in a match that was better than I expected it to be. …
Booker T. was pretty funny when confronted by an angry Henry at the announce table. He nervously said that he didn’t have any problem with Henry, and that it was Michael Cole who had been saying bad things about him. …
I also loved the following exchange between Booker and Cole during the Orton-Sheamus match: As Sheamus worked over Orton, Booker pointed out that Christian – who was watching the match at ringside – must be enjoying every minute of it. Cole replied, “Why don’t you ask him, Mr. Journalist? He’s sitting right next to you.” …
Who thought it was a good idea to have The Great Khali sit in on commentary during Jinder Mahal’s squash of Trent Barreta? Was it so that for at least one match Booker could say that he wasn’t the worst commentator on the show? Then again, Khali remaining silent was preferable to Booker talking. …
Ted DiBiase Jr. pinning Intercontinental champion Ezekiel Jackson in the tag team match that also involved Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan was a surprise. It’s good to see DiBiase starting to get back on track. …
The Sin Cara-Tyson Kidd match – which Cara won – wasn’t bad, but you’d think that these two are capable of much better together. …
The Usos looked good in their win over Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater. The pre-match war dance has to go, though. …
There was tension between Gabriel and Slater after the match, which makes sense given the fact that they are both competing in the MITB match. …
There also was some tension between Tamina and Alicia Fox after Tamina lost to A.J. That one didn’t make as much sense. Tamina and Fox haven’t been established as allies well enough for anyone to care whether or not they’re getting along. What is this, TNA?
To view a collection of photos from Friday night's WWE Smackdown live event in Durban, South Africa, click here.
Randy Orton photo by Gallo Images/Getty Images
It’s hard to believe that just a little over a month ago, I thought Mr. Anderson was one of the most compelling and entertaining characters in wrestling.
Anderson was a legitimate tweener with no friends. An admitted “a**hole” who wasn’t above doing whatever it took to win, he also was an anti-hero who battled against a corrupt regime, and because of that, he had the support of the fans.
Then for some reason he began dressing up like old-school, blonde-haired Sting and suddenly became a heel. He also became a lot less interesting of a character.
After weeks of being courted by Immortal, Anderson finally joined the heel faction on Thursday night’s episode of Impact Wrestling. Of course, even thought it was obvious that Anderson was going to become a member of Immortal, TNA tried to make it suspenseful by pulling a swerve that made no sense.
In a handicap match that pitted Bully Ray, Scott Steiner, Gunner and Abyss against Kurt Angle (Sting was supposed to be Angle’s partner, but he was laid out by Hulk Hogan backstage prior to the match), Anderson joined the match in progress and acted as if he was going to help Angle.
After getting the hot tag, Anderson punched each member of Immortal and put Ray in position for the Mic Check. Then he let Ray go and instead hit the Mic Check on Angle, who was pinned by Ray. To add to the “drama” of what Anderson was going to do next, the four Immortal members surrounded him while he assumed a position as if he might have to defend himself. Then he jumped into Abyss’ arms and celebarted. Surprise!
Why Anderson punched his new allies before joining them is something that makes sense only in the mind of Vince Russo. And for those keeping track, during Anderson’s 18 months in TNA, he has gone from heel, to babyface, to tweener and back to heel.
Other thoughts on Thursday’s show:
To further tease that he might reject Immortal’s demand that he join them, Anderson said before the handicap match that he doesn’t react well to ultimatums, just ask “a certain former employer.” Really, Ken? Weren’t you fired by that “former employer?” And shouldn’t you be over it by now? ...
Once again, the best match on the show was the X Division contest between three guys not on the roster. High-flyer Jack Evans put on a “dynamite” performance (old-school fans will get that obscure reference) as he defeated Tony Nese and Jesse Sorensen in a three-way to earn the fourth and final spot in the match at Sunday’s Destination X pay-per-view in which the winner receives a TNA contract. Evans versus Low-Ki versus Austin Aries versus Zema Ion just might steal the show. ...
The four-way between Rob Van Dam, A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels and Jerry Lynn – which was won by RVD – wasn’t bad, but I was expecting a lot more. ...
Sting had me laughing out loud as he did his Joker gimmick while Hogan was assaulting him backstage. After getting punched in the mouth a few times and maniacally laughing about it, a woozy Sting suddenly realized that he was about to get clobbered with a bat. “Oh, crap,” he said matter-of-factly just before Hogan hit him with the bat. ...
The video package for the Styles-Daniels match at Destination X, which focused on their real-life friendship, was good. ...
I have no idea what Brian Kendrick was talking about in his mumbo-jumbo promo with Abyss, but his delivery was good. Having Abyss again destroy Kendrick – who is challenging for Abyss’ X Division title Sunday – sure is an odd way to try to get people excited about their match. ...
Ray did a nice job on the mic during the opening segment when Immortal issued the ultimatum to Anderson. ...
The Crimson-Bobby Roode match was OK. There is very little drama in Crimson’s matches right now because of the winning streak gimmick. ...
Velvet Sky beating ODB and Jackie in a handicap match was preposterous. ODB and Jackie had said that they would leave TNA if they lost, but I hope they don’t keep their word. Well, I at least hope that ODB is sticking around. ...
“The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero giving up an opportunity to score a pinfall victory and gain seven points in the Bound for Glory Series during a tag match that pitted him and Devon against Matt Morgan and James Storm didn’t make sense to me. I get it that Dinero is playing mind games with Devon, but it still strains credibility that Dinero wouldn’t take the points – especially when he has yet to get on the board.
I conducted a phone interview Wednesday with TNA star Christopher Daniels, who will face A.J. Styles in the main event of Sunday’s Destination X pay-per-view:
How much do you and the other X Division guys look at Sunday’s pay-per-view as an opportunity to prove that your style of wrestling not only has value but can be a focal point of the company?
I feel like that point’s already been proven – it just doesn’t always follow what the people in charge believe. I feel like the X Division, when it first started out, it was the thing that made TNA different than everything else that was on the scene. It was also the thing that brought a lot of the buzz around TNA in the very beginning. So I feel like that point’s been proven, but it doesn’t always follow suit. Sometimes things are misinterpreted and [those in charge] feel like it’s better to go in different directions. But it’s funny that they always seem to keep coming back to the X Division. When it comes down to putting marquee matches in the ring, the X Division is usually called upon, whether it’s the three-way between me, [Samoa] Joe and A.J. [Styles], or just a singles match between me and A.J., or Ultimate X, or any of those things. When they want a sure-fire way to grab people’s attention, a lot of times the X Division is called upon. Having said that, I feel like all of us that are on this show are looking forward to the opportunity to show that an all-X Division pay-per-view can certainly grab the wrestling public’s attention and make them want to shell out some cash to see it.
Why do you think it is that no matter what company we’re talking about – TNA, WWE or WCW – the X Division guys or light heavyweights or cruiserweights – whatever you want to call them – always end up getting treated as second-class citizens? And do you think that TNA has an opportunity now to change that perception?
I can’t really comment on why it seems to be sort of put in the background, other than the fact that it sort of flies in the face of what stereotypically professional wrestling has been. There’s always the argument that professional wrestlers are supposed to stand out and turn heads when they walk through an airport, but at the same time, look at someone like Georges St. Pierre, who is smaller than me, yet he is the top [MMA] fighter in the world today. His last fight drew record numbers. It’s not necessarily the size of the fighter, but for some reason, it seems like when the X Division or junior heavyweights or whatever it’s called has a resurgence, at some point there’s a lull in that movement for one reason or another.
For those who don’t know the history, can you talk a little bit about your friendship with A.J. Styles? And what’s it like to work a match with him on a big show given how close the two of you are?
A.J. and I met at the NWA 53rd Anniversary show in 2001. That was the first time we ever wrestled each other, too. That match got enough buzz around it to where independent promoters started booking the match itself all around the United States. So there was a period of time in which A.J. and I were wrestling each other almost exclusively. He and I got to become real close, traveling, hanging out and working with each other. Right around that time, TNA and Ring of Honor started up and we were both involved with both companies. Coming up in both of those companies and sort of watching ourselves grow from guys who were names on the independent scene to guys who were names with either company, sharing that experience and then the fact that in our private lives, we’re both married and have kids about the same age now, that whole experience has brought us closer together as friends. Being able to work with your best friend in the main event of a pay-per-view is a special feeling. You know that you’re both sharing the opportunity to reap the benefits of your hard work.
You mentioned being involved in both TNA and ROH during the early days of the companies. You’ve been in a unique position as of late by working simultaneously for both of them. What is your contract status and your future with each organization?
I can’t really comment on any of that right now to be honest with you. All I can really tell you is to wait and see what happens. I don’t want to give away anything or tip my hand one way or the other.
Fair enough. What are your general thoughts on ROH getting bought by Sinclair Broadcast Group and how it will affect the wrestling landscape?
I think it’s a great opportunity for Ring of Honor to widen the spotlight on them and get more eyes on them. I was actually just asked in an interview if I thought that this would help them become more competition for TNA, but I really don’t see that happening because of the fact that TNA is on cable and Ring of Honor is going to be on broadcast, the times are going to be different, the channels are going to be different. I just feel it’s an opportunity for wrestling fans to get more wrestling. I don’t feel like one’s going to take away from the other. If Ring of Honor consistently puts out the product that they’re capable of putting out, they can’t help but grow. And it’s the same thing for TNA. I feel that if we keep putting out the type of product that we’re capable of putting out, we’re going to move forward. I’m glad that Ring of Honor has that opportunity. I look forward to seeing how it prospers with [COO] Joe Koff, who is an admitted wrestling fan and has had dealings with wrestling in the past. When you get guys who are passionate about the product in charge, you can’t help but succeed. So I’m looking forward to seeing what happens for Ring of Honor in the next couple months.
When Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff first came to TNA, you quickly went from headlining pay-per-views in world title matches to jobbing to Val Venis. When you left, was it your choice or theirs, and did you think you’d ever be back?
First of all, it was not my choice at all. It sort of blindsided me, actually. I was under the impression that something was in the works for me, and found out that there wasn’t anything in the works for me. So I was disappointed at that, but at the same time, right away when I was let go, I was told that there were plans for me to come back, it was just a matter of time and circumstance. So I wasn’t sure when I would come back, but I was told that at some point I would. It took a little while longer than I thought it was going to. But I was always in discussions with them. I kept in touch with them to sort of see what the landscape was and if there was a position for me there, and it ended up coming into play in March. I was lucky that things went a certain way and the position opened up for me.
You certainly came back in a good spot – as a member of Fortune.
Yeah, I’m lucky that while I was gone, A.J. and Frankie [Kazarian] and Beer Money went from being the second of two heel factions to being the top group of good guys in the company. So I was lucky that happened and the fact that I came in affiliated with them certainly didn’t do me any harm.
What match at Destination X are you most looking forward to seeing?
I think one of them would be Samoa Joe and Kazarian. Having worked with those guys in the past as much as I have and being friends with them like I am, I know that their attitude is that they’re going to take this opportunity to steal the show. So I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what they’re going to do. I know it’s been a while since I’ve seen them together in a high-profile singles match. Being a Southern California guy, and those guys were in Southern California, there were many nights when we were all in the same locker room and those guys put on some great matches. Now here it is 2011 and they’re getting an opportunity to go at it one more time and it’s on pay-per-view.
Any final thoughts?
I’d just like to say thanks to the fans of Impact Wrestling and TNA that have stuck with us through a couple of tumultuous months since all the big sweeping changes have happened. Those are the fans who have stuck with us and made it possible for us to continue doing what we’re doing, and if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be where we are. So thanks to them, and we’re going to have a great show at Destination X.
Photo courtesy of impactwrestling.com
Several readers have asked for my thoughts on the incident from a few days ago in which CM Punk used the word “homo” while jawing with a fan during a WWE live event in Australia, so here they are:
While I don’t condone what Punk said, I do think the incident needs to be kept in proper perspective. Punk plays the role of a heel, and his job is to push the fans’ buttons and get a rise out of them. That’s what he did.
In the heat of the moment, Punk said one word that I believe he wishes he could take back. After a video of Punk’s exchange with the fan was picked up by TMZ, Punk admitted that he was wrong and offered what seems to be a sincere apology. To echo the sentiments of some readers of this blog, I have no reason to believe that just because CM Punk the wrestling villain used the word “homo” that Phil Brooks – the real person behind the character – is a homophobe.
When looking at the bigger picture, this incident is a prime example of the challenge that professional wrestling faces in a politically correct climate.
Heels exchanging insults with fans at ringside has been business as usual in wrestling for decades. As a kid attending wrestling events in the ’70s and early ’80s, my young ears heard much, much worse from heels and fans alike than what Punk said.
But it’s a different world today, and what was acceptable then isn’t acceptable now. We’re in an era in which wrestling companies promote anti-bullying campaigns, so heels have to perform a balancing act. They need to be despicable enough to make fans want to pay money to see them get their comeuppance, but they also have to be careful not to be too insensitive.
It’s a slippery slope for sure, but to play devil’s advocate, why is it that that using the word “homo” is forbidden, while calling someone “fat” and ridiculing them because they are overweight is OK? Is the message that the feelings of overweight people are not as important as those of gay people?
And why is it that no one really seems to mind when a babyface mocks Jack Swagger’s lisp or makes fat jokes at the expense of a healthy-looking woman such as Vickie Guerrero? Imagine how a kid with a speech impediment or a young girl who’s insecure about her weight must feel when their heroes are the ones making those remarks.
Just some food for thought.
To the surprise of no one – especially those who read the spoilers, since this show was taped last week – CM Punk’s suspension was lifted on Monday night’s episode of Raw and his WWE title match against champion John Cena at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view on July 17 is back on.
I thought the follow-up to Punk’s much-talked about promo last week was well done. The show opened with Cena coming out to make it known that he believes Punk should have the right to speak his mind, and therefore he should be reinstated and their match at MITB should go on as originally scheduled. Cena said that he would state his case to McMahon face to face later in the show.
The verbal confrontation between Cena and McMahon in the final segment was very good. WWE continued to break the fourth wall with this story line, as Cena cited other examples of censorship in WWE, specifically the firing of Daniel Bryan for “being too aggressive” (in reference to the infamous incident when Bryan choked ring announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie during the debut of The Nexus) and the company confiscating certain signs at live events.
Cena also remarked that Punk had come a long way since riding on the side of a car during Cena’s elaborate ring entrance at WrestleMania 22. I’m guessing that one went over the heads of lots of fans (to see a clip of what Cena was talking about, click here, and keep an eye on the guy on the passenger side of the car).
After being less than forthcoming in his initial explanation for why he suspended Punk, McMahon finally admitted that he wasn’t going to risk Punk winning the title from Cena and then showing up in “another WRESTLING organization” with the belt. That, of course, was McMahon’s line of reasoning for double-crossing Bret Hart at the 1997 Survivor Series.
Cena said that McMahon was so worried about Punk making the belt meaningless that McMahon himself had, in fact, made the belt meaningless. Cena then surrendered the title. At that point, McMahon gave in and said that the Cena-Punk match would take place after all.
But there was one catch: McMahon said that if Punk walks out of MITB with the title, Cena will be fired. I think the key is in how McMahon phrased his threat, as I can certainly envision a scenario in which Punk beats Cena for the title but does not have the championship belt in his possession by the time the show is over.
Other thoughts on Monday’s show:
Before McMahon reinstated Punk, a triple threat match to determine a new challenger for Cena at MITB took place, as Alberto Del Rio defeated Rey Mysterio and R-Truth in a good match. With the Cena-Punk match back on, my guess is that Del Rio will get the first shot at whoever has the belt coming out of MITB. ...
The Miz-Alex Riley match was OK, but I thought the post-match was really good. After losing to his protégé yet again, Miz snapped and brutally assaulted Riley. Miz showed great intensity during the beat-down. ...
I liked the video package on Riley. ...
Dolph Ziggler was pretty good on the mic and continues to show improvement in that area. ...
As soon as Vickie Guerrero was shown in the ring alongside a cake, is there anybody out there who didn’t know that she was going to end up face-first in it? Well, she did say in her interview with me last month that Mondays are the days she cheats on her diet and eats something sweet. ...
Thank God Jack Swagger didn’t job to 62-year-old Sgt. Slaughter – I thought for sure he was going to. ...
It was interesting that Swagger was scripted to bring up the fact that Slaughter sided with the Iraqis during the Gulf War. That seems like something WWE would want fans to forget about a legendary patriotic character. I thought it was funny that Slaughter’s response was that everyone makes mistakes, which Jerry Lawler actually agreed with. Yeah, I mean, who hasn’t committed treason at some point in their lives? ...
Zack Ryder actually got to make a brief appearance in front of the live crowd, which, by the way, didn’t really pop for him. ...
R-Truth is always entertaining, but the “I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico” jokes jumped the shark years ago. ...
The match in which WWE tag team champions Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga defeated Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov was fine for what it was. Marella’s antics always put a smile on my face. The champions, on the other hand, aren’t doing much for me. ...
I was going to say that the Divas tag team match that saw Kelly Kelly and Eve Torres defeat the Bellas wasn’t anything special, but the truth is that any match Kelly Kelly’s in is special for me.
A week after cutting a worked shoot promo on Raw that had the wrestling world buzzing and resulted in a story line suspension, CM Punk’s mouth is once again the source of controversy – and this time it isn’t an angle.
While jawing with a fan at ringside during a WWE live event Monday in Adelaide, Australia, Punk called the fan a “homo.” The incident was caught on video, and TMZ picked up on it.
WWE, which works with GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) on its well-publicized anti-bullying campaign, issued the following statement in response to Punk’s usage of the gay slur:
"WWE does not condone this type of language or bias and we reinforce that with our talent who are independent contractors."
Punk later apologized for the remark on Twitter. He wrote:
“I'm glad TMZ posted that video because everybody needs to be held accountable for their [B.S.], me included. What I said was [B.S.]. I'm embarrassed. I own up to being a total douche in this situation and I offer a sincere apology to anybody I hurt with careless words.”
The last time we saw Sheamus on Smackdown, he lost his match against Christian and then was on the receiving end of a punt to the head from Randy Orton.
Two weeks later – on Friday night’s episode of Smackdown – Sheamus made his dramatic return. And this time it was Sheamus who was getting his kicks (to the head) at the expense of Orton and Christian.
As Christian was about to put pen to paper to make his world heavyweight title match against champion Orton at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view on July 17 official, Sheamus stormed the ring and took out both guys with Brogue Kicks. He then ripped up the contract.
I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I’m guessing that the world title match at MITB is going to end up being a triple threat, with Sheamus joining Orton and Christian in the match. Of course, I could be wrong, as last week I wrote that I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark Henry was inserted into the title bout to make it a three-way, and that doesn’t seem very likely now.
Other thoughts on Friday’s show:
Henry again played a very convincing monster. He manhandled Orton during their non-title match before being distracted and losing by countout (The Big Show’s music played in the middle of the match, and it was strongly hinted that Christian was behind it, since a Henry victory could have cost Christian his shot against Orton based on what Smackdown general manager Teddy Long said before the match), and then he destroyed a bunch of TV equipment and brutalized an audio technician. ...
The way Long keeps screwing with Christian almost makes Christian come across as a sympathetic character who is justified in claiming that he is being treated unfairly. ...
The eight participants for the Smackdown Money in the Bank match were announced: Sheamus, Kane, Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Sin Cara, Daniel Bryan, Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater. That’s a pretty weak lineup compared to the Raw MITB match. The fact that Gabriel and Slater are in the match really shows how little depth there is on the Smackdown roster right now. ...
The Bryan-Ted DiBiase Jr. match was very good. I liked that Bryan – who is being pushed as a submission specialist – used a maneuver other than the LeBell Lock to force DiBiase to tap out. ...
The way Rhodes chastised DiBiase after the match makes me wonder if DiBiase is going to end up turning babyface at some point and feuding with Rhodes. ...
Like most of Sin Cara’s matches, his bout with Christian was awkward in spots, but I still thought it was entertaining. I really had no idea how this one was going to end, because I knew Christian wasn’t going to lose, but I also didn’t think WWE would end Cara’s undefeated streak yet – but that’s what happened, as Christian got the clean win after nailing Cara with a spear. ...
It was pretty funny when a frustrated Christian blamed his troubles early in the match on the dim lighting that is always used when Cara wrestles. ...
The back story with Jinder Mahal and The Great Khali – it was revealed by Ranjin Singh in a pre-taped interview that Mahal is married to their sister – has me intrigued. On a side note, I sure hope the sister doesn’t look anything like Khali. ...
The non-title match between Intercontinental champion Ezekiel Jackson and Rhodes was OK. Rhodes’ pinfall victory (thanks to DiBiase distracting Jackson) theoretically sets up a title match between the two. ...
Kane and Barrett had a decent big man match. Of course, Barrett did the job. I’m at a loss as to why Barrett loses all the time. ...
I like Booker T., but his commentary is getting more annoying by the week.
Hulk Hogan shot a video in which he responds to questions and comments from his Twitter followers, and his ex-wife Linda Hogan's claims of domestic violence were among the subjects that he addressed.
Interestingly, the only comments he read regarding Linda are ones that support him.
The highlight of Thursday’s night’s Impact Wrestling was a match between three guys who aren’t even under contract with the company.
In a three-way match between former TNA X Division stars with a spot on the Destination X pay-per-view a week from Sunday on the line, Low-Ki (formerly known as Kaval in WWE) emerged victorious over Jimmy Yang and Matt Bentley in an exciting, fast-paced and hard-hitting contest.
It was great to see two underrated guys such as Low-Ki and Yang back on TV. They both put on outstanding performances (Bentley was a little out of his league in this one), but Low-Ki was especially impressive. WWE – which released Low-Ki/Kaval last December, just four months after he won NXT Season 2 – definitely missed the boat on him.
Low-Ki now joins Austin Aries and Zema Ion in the four-way match at Destination X, with the winner getting a TNA contract. The final participant will be determined on next week’s show.
Other thoughts on Thursday’s show:
The interaction between Sting and Hulk Hogan in the opening segment was compelling, although the segment probably did go on a bit too long. Sting continues to do a really good job with his new Joker character. ...
I hope this isn’t the case, but it sure seems as if TNA is building to a Sting versus Hogan match. ...
The Sting-Scott Steiner match was serviceable, but the fact that these two are wrestling each other in the main event on a major wrestling company’s prime time television show in 2011 is amazing (and not in a good way). ...
The Mic Check that Mr. Anderson hit on Sting in the post-match was awkward-looking. Speaking of Anderson, I wish TNA would just go ahead and have him join Immortal already. Having him stand alone at this point doesn’t make much sense, because he is clearly a heel and no longer a tweener. ...
I have always respected Eric Bischoff’s talent as a performer, but with that being said, I did not miss him at all this week. He’s definitely been overexposed. ...
Karen Jarrett – who was shown with husband Jeff on location in Mexico – sure did look healthy for someone who tumbled down a flight of stairs four weeks ago and had a severely injured ankle just prior to that. By the way, did I hear correctly that the Jarretts will be back home next week? I thought the stipulation of the parking lot brawl that Jeff lost to Kurt Angle was that he had to move to Mexico. ...
The Gunner-A.J. Styles match was good. Gunner got the win and is now the leader in the Bound for Glory Series. Well, you can’t say TNA isn’t trying to create a new star. ...
I liked the Samoa Joe-Devon match and how the BFGS points system played into Joe’s strategy (which ultimately backfired). I also liked that Devon got the win, as it showed that the results of the matches are not going to be predictable. ...
The bar fight between Joe and Kazarian would have been more effective if we hadn’t seen the exact same scene with Joe and Crimson three weeks ago. ...
It was announced that there will be a four-way X Division match next week between Styles, Rob Van Dam, Christopher Daniels and Jerry Lynn. Now that should be good. ...
The video package with the X Division competitors and Mike Tenay talking up the Ultimate X match and Destination X pay-per-view was well done. ...
What was up with Abyss not being able to find his mask? Speaking of Abyss, it’s hard to take his match with Brian Kendrick at Destination X seriously when Kendrick and Kazarian together were no match for him at Slammiversary. ...
The six-woman elimination tag match that saw Mickie James, Tara and Miss Tessmacher defeat Winter, Angelina Love and Madison Rayne wasn’t bad. I have no idea, though, why Winter and Love were both allowed to stay in the ring against James when tag team rules had applied up to that point. ...
Love is no longer a zombie and now realizes that Winter was drugging her, yet she still chooses to be with Winter. That makes about as much sense Sting suddenly going off the deep end and becoming The Joker. ...
People would pay good money to be on the receiving end of Miss Tessmacher’s “Asstastic” move. ...
Magnus did a nice job on the mic during The British Invasion’s confrontation with Mexican America. Speaking of Mexican America, it’s an act that needs to be scrapped. They have go-away heat. ...
Oh, good, Rob Terry’s back.
WWE champion John Cena – who was obviously in “work” mode – told The Chicago Tribune that he believes his scheduled title defense against the “suspended” CM Punk at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view on July 17 in Chicago will take place.
“From what I understand, he’s suspended, but I think the match will happen,” Cena said. “[Punk] reached an agreement to not talk badly about WWE. Technically, it’s two weeks before Money in the Bank, so he’s still got two weeks to screw it up for himself.”
To read the article, click here.
I have a lot of things I want to get off my chest. It's time to shoot first and ask questions later.