April 29, 2012
The Big Show . . . makes his umpteenth goofy slip up, and ends his IC title reign at less than a month.
Daniel Bryan . . . shows what he and Sheamus could have done at WrestleMania, with more than eighteen seconds to work with.
Brock Lesnar . . . gives John Cena a beating the likes of which has never been seen before, and may never be seen again.
RANDY ORTON vs. KANE (Falls Count Anywhere Match)
God Bless the fans for being so into this, but another five minutes of this could cure insomnia. The intensity is nice to see, but they’re just punching each other. Kane attacks Orton with punches. Orton takes over by punching, and then Orton attacks Kane with punches. Kane change’s things up with a knee strike, and then it’s back to punching. This is more like watching a video game than an actual match, especially with goofy things like the dropkick on the ramp, and, the finish doesn’t work on any deeper level than Orton catching Kane with the RKO at the right time when he couldn’t counter.
BRODUS CLAY vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER
This is pretty much the definition of a one-man show. Ziggler goes out of his way to work in as much as he can, while doing his usual over-the-top bumping and selling for the few things that Brodus does. Ziggler has some smart ideas, like taking out Brodus’ knee early on, and trying to wear him down with the sleeper. But, Brodus makes the big comeback and finishes Ziggler with the splash. The match is lopsided, with how much Ziggler gets in compared to Brodus, but, Dolph’s overdone bumping makes it look plausible.
THE BIG SHOW © vs. CODY RHODES (WWE Intercontinental Title - Tables Match)
The finish is clever, but, besides that, this is pretty much what you’d expect. Show puts Cody through the ringer in the usual ways, with Cody only getting in token offense, although the table-assisted attempt at the Disaster Kick was a nice moment. Cody outsmarts Show, and Show winds up stepping through a table to give Cody the title, and also adding another tally to the list of moments that make “The Big Goof” a more fitting name for Wight.
SHEAMUS © vs. DANIEL BRYAN (World Heavyweight Title - 2/3 Falls)
Why couldn’t these two have this sort of match at WrestleMania, and let Rhodes/Show go for eighteen seconds? Bryan is allowed to do this thing, and the result is, probably, Sheamus’ best match ever. They have a few nice exchanges early on, to show that Sheamus isn’t totally overmatched (although, he is). Once Bryan takes over, this gets really good really fast. It’s always fun to watch Bryan disassemble a limb, and this is no exception. But, Sheamus isn’t always carrying his weight, especially in the selling department. A good example of this is when Sheamus makes a brief comeback, and gets a near fall from the flying shoulder tackle. Bryan puts it over great, even though it’s just a mid level move, but Sheamus had already had his arm worked over for a while, so, it deserved some sort of sell job. Bryan takes a calculated risk and gets himself disqualified when he won’t back off from kicking Sheamus’ arm. But, the opening leaves Sheamus as easy prey for the Yes Lock, and, indeed, Bryan locks him up and Sheamus passes out. The match is technically tied, but, it’s anything but even.
The final fall is a downer, compared to the other two. Bryan charging into the Brogue kick at the beginning is a good idea, and it somewhat does put them on an even level, with Bryan stunned from the kick. But, the work in the fall is pretty rushed, without much in the way of build. Bryan’s near fall from the roundhouse was nice, although it’d have been nicer to see him follow up by going back to the Yes Lock. It was disappointing to see Sheamus jump to his feet so quickly. Once Bryan misses the headbutt, Sheamus just starts doing his usual spots, leading to the Brogue kick, with a big bump from Bryan, to retain. Bryan was his usual, awesome, self, and it’s too bad that Sheamus couldn’t follow suit, otherwise this would have really been something great. ***1/4
RYBACK vs. AARON RELIC/JAY HATTON
Why is this match happening on a PPV? The promo from Hatton is longer than the match, unfortunately. Ryback kills the jobbers. Next!
CM PUNK © vs. CHRIS JERICHO (WWE Heavyweight Title - Chicago Street Fight)
One thing that can almost always be said for Punk is that he tries to maintain at least a thread of logic to his matches. This isn’t any exception. Rather than just brawling and beating each other senseless with props, as would be typically found in a Chicago street fight, Punk and Jericho incorporate the props into the match to either ramp up their moves, or to make them more effective. Both of them do a good bit of damage to each other’s back area, between kendo stick shots and the hood of the announcer’s table, and, it makes the Walls seem that much more lethal. They are also able to pay more respect to their main submissions, by not being able to rope break, and needing to find other ways to escape them. This is probably Jericho’s best moment, when he seems to be fading fast in the Anaconda Vice, but manages to grab the kendo stick and clock Punk to get him to break the hold. The big table spot is another case of Punk working smart, after he does the Macho Man elbow through the table, he rolls Jericho in for a near fall, showing that he’s not blinded by revenge, and his main goal is (and should be) defending the title.
As nice as it is to see them both making a concentrated effort to have a good match, there is some silliness that creeps up. The most exposing moment is Punk’s use of the fire extinguisher to escape the Walls, because it forced Jericho to turn his head, which he’d normally not do. It’d have made more sense for Punk to clock him with it, even a glancing blow would be enough to make Jericho break the hold, and then blind him with it. Jericho’s stall between the faceplant and the attempted Lionsault is another one. His escape of the GTS to get the faceplant was clever, but Jericho should be smart enough to go right for the kill, especially having already lost to Punk at WrestleMania. But, Jericho stalls like mad, and, to no surprise, Punk recovers and counters it on him. The finish teases another goofy moment, but Punk doesn’t follow through with it. Jericho goes for the GTS on Punk, but, of course, Punk escapes. Punk takes Jericho down and it appears that Punk is going to do the Walls. Instead, he just gives Jericho a slingshot into the exposed buckle, and then hits the GTS for the win. This probably wouldn’t rank amongst either of their top ten performances, but, it was nice to see them still make a genuine effort. ***
NIKKI BELLA © vs. LAYLA (WWE Diva’s Title)
I’d forgotten about Nikki winning the Diva’s Title. That makes Nikki and Brie the first pair of sisters that have held the WWE Diva’s Championship. Nikki and Brie have truly made history, just like Terry and Dory more than thirty years before them! Oh, the match? It’s actually not bad. Layla and Nikki have a couple of nice exchanges, and it’s fun to watch Nikki work over Layla’s leg for the thirty seconds that lasts. Layla makes the comeback, twin magic backfires and Layla ends Nikki’s reign at six days.
JOHN CENA vs. BROCK LESNAR (Extreme Rules Match)
This isn’t anywhere close to Kawada/Albright or Takada/Backlund, but, it’s probably as close to those matches as you’re ever going find in the WWE. Brock uses a double leg takedown, and bloodies Cena with elbow strikes, and even Cena tries to play along with an amateur-style takedown. But, at the core, this is still a WWE match, and it features all the usual theatrics and prop shots that one would never think of seeing in a legitimate fight. The ref gets bumped, both Brock and Cena use the chain, Brock brings the stairs into play (resulting in a crazy spot where Brock tries to launch himself at Cena and goes tumbling over the top rope, because he overshot the target), and the finish is the standard WWE fare, with Cena cheating in the good way to overcome the odds and stand tall.
That’s not to say that this is bad, this is very unique for a WWE main event, because, while Cena wins, he’s more or less dominated for the entire match. The fact that Cena beat Brock is just an afterthought, yes, Cena won, but he took a beating the likes of which nobody had ever seen before. The finish is about as well done as can be, Cena had been trying to get the chain for virtually the entire match, but Brock was there to stop him. After Brock’s fall over the ropes, Cena finally got it and Brock ran himself right into a chain punch, and that sets up the AA. They do slip up once, with Cena’s goofy Hulk-Up escape of the keylock, but, Cena makes up for it by selling his arm for the rest of the match. The real travesty is that Brock was matched up against HHH after this, and their three matches proceeded to kill whatever buzz that Lesnar had created. But, for at least one night, Brock Lesnar looked like the bonafide special attraction that he was always supposed to ***½.
Conclusion: There’s some good stuff this time around. Aside from Orton/Kane, the not-so-good stuff was kept short. This is definitely worth seeking out.