Category Archives: Main Event

Photo gallery: Paige, The Wyatt Family, Hollywood Hogan and more

Having a blog seems simple enough. Have a thought, write it down, click Publish. Trying to have a good blog involves other elements. Including watching as many WWE in-ring shows and typing as many coherent words as possible, there’s an essential visual element: Photos.

At realworldchamp.com, these photos are screenshots of WWE programming. There are a lot to sift through, and a lot to edit after that to get the right photos for the right posts. That almost leans there are a lot of leftovers. After hanging onto most of these for a month or more, here’s a quick batch of photos from WWE events I viewed in April. More from May will sprout up throughout the week.

AJ Lee confronts Paige before their WWE Divas Championship match at RAW on April 7. Paige won the match, and AJ hasn't been in the ring since.
AJ Lee confronts Paige before their impromptu WWE Divas Championship match at RAW on April 7. Paige won the match, and AJ hasn’t been in the ring since.
The Wyatt Family during RAW on April 14. Bray Wyatt accepted John Cena's challenge for a steel cage match at Extreme Rules, which Wyatt won.
The Wyatt Family during RAW on April 14. Bray Wyatt accepted John Cena’s challenge for a steel cage match at Extreme Rules, which Wyatt won.
Evolution — Randy Orton, Triple H and Batista — make their way ringside at RAW on April 28.
Evolution — Randy Orton, Triple H and Batista — make their way ringside at RAW on April 28.
Extra Main Event 042914 Goldust
Goldust walks down the ramp before a match against Alberto Del Rio at Main Event on April 29.
Paige celebrates a victory over Alicia Fox at the April 29 Main Event ...
Paige celebrates a victory over Alicia Fox at the April 29 Main Event …
... but not for long after seeing Tamina Snuka, her challenger for the WWE Divas Championship at Extreme Rules, right behind her.
… but not for long after seeing Tamina Snuka, her challenger for the WWE Divas Championship at Extreme Rules, right behind her.

Another fun part of the blog is/was World Championship Wednesday and Flashback Friday, which hopefully will make a return when The Champ gets some more spare time. One particularly entertaining WCW show was Halloween Havoc 1998, for some good and plenty of bad reasons.

The Ultimate Warrior made his final pay-per-view match appearance, beating Hollywood Hogan in a terrible semi-main event.
The Ultimate Warrior made his final pay-per-view match appearance, beating Hollywood Hogan in a terrible semi-main event.
Before his defeat, Hogan was posing and running his mouth with Eric Bischoff. Of note: The nWo Monday Nitro T-shirt on the leader of nWo Hollywood.
Before his defeat, Hogan was posing and running his mouth with Eric Bischoff. Of note: The nWo Monday Nitro T-shirt on the leader of nWo Hollywood.
Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page after their main event, which Goldberg won to improve his unbeaten streak to 155-0. But the main reason for this photo? The shoutout to the 208 right behind them. I see you, Twin Falls!
Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page after their main event, which Goldberg won to improve his unbeaten streak to 155-0. But the main reason for this photo? The shoutout to the 208 right behind them. I see you, Twin Falls!

Be sure to return Tuesday morning for a review of this week’s RAW. And give The Champ a follow on Twitter @jpetrie18.

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WWE Midcard Report (May 19-20): An impromptu Beat The Clock challenge rules, Adam Rose is boring, Summer Rae channels her inner porn star, and Paul Heyman and Cesaro need to split

If you haven’t watched any WWE programming this week, I’ll save you the headache: Just skip it. Read this and the RAW review and just move on.

I work nights at a newspaper, which means I watch shows the next day. The lone exception is NXT, which airs on one of my usual days off and is better than anything you’ll see from the main roster this week. (Get caught up on last week here.) When I get home at 1 a.m. (or 3, like last night) and wake up a few hours later to watch wrestling, I want it to be worthwhile. When it’s not, I’m cranky.

Fools better stay out of my way after the past two days.

•••

One bright spot in theory involves the Intercontinental Championship, which belongs to a man who was well-received in his home country and really should be well-received (or well booed) anywhere. He’s one of the most interesting men in wrestling right now.

Now, what makes the title even more interesting? A surprise Beat the Clock Challenge, of course! Six men, three matches, one hopefully suitable No. 1 contender. The first match? Not too bad!

BIG E. vs. RYBACK

This one’s interesting. Both men generally rely on their massive size advantage to create a boring match. When they’re both big, we might actually get to see some athleticism. The start was hot, then settles into a test of brute force. JBL drops a Barry Horowitz reference. Then a Steve Lombardi reference. Then clarifies that his loss to Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania 25 took 23 seconds, not 17. Big spinebuster from Ryback at 3:45 to respond to Big E.’s belly-to-belly, then he hits the Meathook Clothesline for 2. And 2 again. And 2 again. Looks like a powerbomb attempt, but Big E. slips out, floors Ryback and Curtis Axel, and hits the Big Ending.

RAW 051914 Big E

Time: 5:02

Technical Merit: This was better than expected. Not great, but a decent little big-man match.

Artistic Impression: Ryback sold the clock element. Big E. was just there for the impressive, brief comeback.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/2

Alberto Del Rio was bred to be a champion. The children deserve to have a role model like him as Intercontinental Champion. The future of the world depends on it. I thought that honor went to this guy.

Captain Planet

Remember, kids, the power doesn’t belong to ADR. THE POWER IS YOURS!

ALBERTO DEL RIO vs. ROB VAN DAM

Two highlights with about 3:50 remaining: A Funaki sign somewhere on the 100 level of the O2 Arena, and ADR superkicking RVD as he tries to reenter the ring. Is RVD high right now? If not, he should be because he’s wrestling like crap. Let’s throw some clotheslines a 4-year-old wouldn’t believe, hit some weak-ass kicks and botch a legdrop. He BOTCHED A FREAKING LEGDROP. Hulk Hogan really must’ve been one of the greatest technicians of our time if the move’s that hard. ADR shows how it’s done with an enziguiri with 1:15 remaining. Del Rio goes for another kick, but Van Dam ducks and rolls him up. At least he did that right.

Time: 4:15

Technical Merit: One man was trash. The other wasn’t exactly treasure, but decent.

Artistic Impression: If you can’t wrestle and have no personality, nobody will believe the story you’re telling.

TOTAL SCORE: 1/4*

“I do it quick, and I do it slick.” Dolph Ziggler‘s inset promo was awesome. Also awesome? An INSET PROMO RUN-IN! That’s how you set up a match.

RAW 051914 Dolph Ziggler Mark Henry

DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. MARK HENRY

Ziggler bumps around and rolls out, and Henry is more than content to go for the countout. Nice Fame Asser variation when Dolph returns, and he rolls out again when Henry powers out. Let’s just take ALL the momentum from this match, shall we? Dolph knows how to snap off a dropkick, but the two he utilized were about 20 seconds apart. Credit to Ziggler for not rolling all the way out on that kickout. Henry eschews the World’s Strongest Slam for a running powerslam, so needless to say, nobody’s winning this one. Ziggler counters the WSS into the Zig Zag with about 7 seconds left, but he rolls the wrong way and, sure enough, we get freaking RVD in the Intercontinental Championship match.

That means someone’s afraid he’s got some bad news …

RAW 051914 Wade Barrett Rob Van Dam

… which involves Greenwich Mean Time, since England set the time for the entire world. Hey, the man has a point!

Technical Merit: About 45 seconds of action in a 4:15 match.

Artistic Impression: Maybe the slowest Beat the Clock match I’ve ever seen. That was poor.

TOTAL SCORE: 0

•••

This is the most we’ve seen R-Truth on screen since he “ruined” Survivor Series 2011, right? Apparently it was his fault nobody wanted to see John Cena and The Rock team up. Then again, if you’re finally main-eventing a major pay-per-view, don’t get caught smoking weed to get suspended and kill your momentum. His presumed opponent? The man involved in a Twitter love triangle, which blows up in lieu of a wrestling match. To his credit, Fandango got to make out with Layla and a returning Summer Rae. The drawback? Summer made it look like she did more than kiss him.

RAW 051914 Summer Rae

Um … yeah.

•••

Since it’s London, let’s bring out the cheap Aldous Snow knockoff!

RAW 051914 Adam Rose Renee Young

Adam Rose‘s gimmick’s already stale, which could be why the Brits are giving him the post-WrestleMania 29 Fandango treatment. Or they actually like this whole bit. Either way, I’ve NEVER been so happy to see Zeb Colter.

RAW 051914 Zeb Colter Jack Swagger

On a lighter note, US rosebuds < UK rosebuds. I see you, sailor chick! On a more serious note … I think … Zeb challenges Rose! Jack Swagger intervenes, and Rose uses his entire offensive repertoire. I think Captain Comic, one of his rosebuds, showed more in-ring potential on NXT. Better looking, too!

NXT 050814 Captain Comic

•••

Life is not measured by the number of breaths that we take, but the moments that take our breath away. Life doesn’t get easier; you just get stronger. Bolieve in yourself. Sky above me, earth below me, fire within me. It’s Bo Time.

RAW 051914 Bo Dallas Bolieve

The Rotunda brothers might be doing the best mic work in WWE right now, and one of them hasn’t even started his current run yet. The question will be what Bo Dallas can do outside of a vignette, since he was so bad just two months ago, I wrote this. He does also lose points for that stupid cliché to lead off. I knew a girl who used to toast with that before like every shot in college. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of her work.

Also on SmackDown:

RAW 051914 Hulk Hogan

At this rate, that might be the only thing that saves the show.

•••

ME 052014 Paul Heyman

How do you start Main Event? Gotta be “the most prolific Main Event advocate in sports entertainment history”! He’s here to inform us of the well-kept secret: “My client, Brock Lesnar, conquered The Undertaker‘s undefeated streak of WrestleMania!” Besides that, it’s Heyman kissing Cesaro’s ass, calling him the strongest athlete in WWE, until Mark Henry comes out and declares he is, in fact, the World’s Strongest Man. Then he proves it with a weak-ass bear hug. That whole segment just fell flat.

You know what else is falling flat? The Heyman-Cesaro pairing. It’s just … off.

ME 052014 Paul Heyman Cesaro

Paul E. is clearly doing what he can while Lesnar isn’t around, but it’s clearly his B (or B+?) material. It’s more about Lesnar than Cesaro anyway, which really feels like it hinders Cesaro. Besides, it’s not like Heyman is helping Cesaro win a ton of matches … without pulling the actual win-loss record, Cesaro felt more successful in the couple months pre-Heyman. These guys don’t need each other, and it’s actually a disservice to both to keep them together.

Cesaro doesn’t need Heyman talking him up and taking all his shine. Cesaro needs to be wrestling. With Daniel Bryan on the shelf, he’s the best at it. Actually, screw that. Cesaro is the best wrestler in the company in 2014. Yeah, I said it. Let him have his feats of strength, his innovative offense and athletic skill. This is professional wrestling, after all. Somebody should be able to simply be the best pure wrestler in WWE. Doing anything else with him is absurd.

Speaking of absurd, the main event of Paul Heyman’s Main Event isn’t even a wrestling match … it’s an arm wrestling match  

ME 052014 Cesaro Mark Henry arm wrestling

… which Henry wins by DQ, I guess, when Heyman grabs his arm. That distracts Henry long enough for Cesaro to jump him and dump a table on him, presumably setting up an angle to play out over the next few weeks. But what a waste of time. This entire show was.

•••

ME 052014 Damien Sandow Sherlock Holmes

This is what Damien Sandow has become: A punchline for even R-Truth. You know, the guy who once dressed as a Confederate soldier.

ilovewrestlinggifs.tumblr.com
ilovewrestlinggifs.tumblr.com

Pot, kettle, etc. On the bright side, Sandow … I mean, Sherlock Holmes, is competing in a full suit.

“SHERLOCK HOLMES” vs. R-TRUTH

Sandow looking like “enhancement talent” for the first couple minutes, which is just a damn shame. The only active thing he’s doing is swinging and missing, and dipping out of the ring to examine his shirt and have a puff off the pipe, which Truth hilariously interrupts. Everybody has a few “so-and-so needs a push” guys … for many, one STILL appears to be Daniel Bryan. Those fans double as the ones who want all the midcard mechanics to run the company and have guys like John Cena jobbing out every week. They don’t know how wrestling works — it’s about who can gather a reaction with the masses and draw money.

Now, with that being said, Sandow is grossly misused, even though he’s one of the only people on the roster who actually could pull off the jobber-of-many-faces gimmick. He’s a talented wrestler AND an engaging personality, as he has shown basically any time they give him a microphone. He doesn’t need to be world champion by any means, but that middle to upper midcard tier would be perfect for a man of his talents. His Genius 2.0 character would’ve been This match feels about as long as a pay-per-view contest — Truth had a few minutes of control, then Sandow, then Truth again until Sandow hits You’re Welcome for a rare victory.

Time: 13:12

Technical Merit: Maybe be a little more discreet when calling spots. Otherwise? A semi-suitable contest.

Artistic Impression: Sandow as Sherlock was funny, at least, but this story could’ve been told in about half as much time.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/4

•••

As a streaming-only fan, I can’t get the Divas Champion and the most compelling female character in the company on my screen during RAW, since the Hulu Plus version decided to skip it. (It also apparently skipped the aforementioned best wrestler in the company defeating the United States Champion).

But you know what I can get? Two Total Divas plugs and a match angle revolving around the show! I seriously hate WWE sometimes. Maybe I should just get cable.

NAOMI (w/Cameron) vs. AKSANA

Nobody involved in this match does anything for me in the ring or as a personality. Naomi’s MASSIVELY overrated, Aksana can’t work, and even one person basically crushing the other’s eye a couple months ago can’t get me compelled enough to pay attention. Anyway, Naomi wins with a butt bump. Another waste of my damn time.

Time: 3:25

Come back Friday morning for insight and analysis on NXT as WWE’s best weekly show prepares for next week’s Takeover event.

WWE Midcard Report (May 12-15): Damien Sandow and Alicia Fox go off, Sheamus pulls triple duty and the 3MB-Los Matadores angle mercilessly continues

ME 051314 Damien Sandow

The booking of Damien Sandow this week has been absolutely brilliant. Well, the non-wrestling part, anyway. Losing to Cody Rhodes (RAW) and Dolph Ziggler (Main Event) won’t exactly build momentum. However, telling Jimmy Hart he’s looked like a Valentine’s Day card for 30 years, declaring teaming with Yoshi Tatsu the worst part of WWE purgatory, threatening Josh Mathews and finally denouncing this gimmick …

SD 050214 Sandow Magneto

… on the RAW preshow, no less, was one of the best performances I’ve seen from a jobber in a while. That set the tone for a fun week of midcard misfits trying to make names for themselves, and possibly succeeding.

Yes, Damien Sandow is a jobber. That’s why, in well-struck worked-shoot fashion, he’s complaining about how he’s used. He doesn’t need to be a supervillain to entertain. He can just talk and wrestle. It’s art imitating life — people lament the fact that men like Sandow and Ziggler aren’t getting pushed, or really given anything to do whatsoever. Why not run with that and make Sandow someone the WWE is trying to “hold back,” “censor” or, in Sandow’s words, “handcuff?” It’s a little too perfect. It would, however, help if Damien could be pointed toward the canvas instead of the sky the next time someone counts to 3.

DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. DAMIEN SANDOW

Sandow decides to make a subtle statement by starting the match with his T-shirt on — nobody cares about him, so he doesn’t care about this match just yet. After posting Ziggler at the 45-second mark, he doffs the entrance attire. He stays aggressive, allowing Ziggler to do what he does best — sell the hell out of everything. Dolph finally gains momentum at 2:45 and hits the typical babyface comeback medley. Misses the Fame Asser, though, and after missing a kick, Sandow turns Ziggler into a pretzel. The problem: He tries to follow up with a belly-to-back throw, but Dolph lands on his feet. Zig, Zag, out.

ME 051314 Dolph Ziggler

Time: 4:11

Technical Merit: Clean, if not overly innovative.

Artistic Impression: Decent story with Sandow. Plus, one of the jobbers won!

TOTAL SCORE: *1/2

The aggressive side of Sandow is fun to see. The man is great at dishing out punishment as well as taking it, and he’s one of the company’s best on the mic. The best way to use him just might be a gimmick where they’re “not using” him.

•••

You know who else had a hell of a week? This woman.

ME 051314 Alicia Fox

After losing (again) to Paige, she had the WWE Universe thinking she quit Monday night. On Tuesday, she chucked a mic into Emma‘s face and beat her up before the match. That may have been her sanest moment of the evening.

EMMA vs. ALICIA FOX

SICK offense from the outset: Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, then a side slam … through the ropes to the floor. “Y’all think I went cray? Oh, you don’t know cray.” I LOVE this. Hairpull toss, then an invitation to talk to the hand. The Emmamite Sandwich gets blocked by a kick. Underrated and overrated get confused. And after all that, she gets rolled up. We find out that’s because, in her words, the ref doesn’t know how to count.

Time: 2:14

After the match, girl just snaps. She slaps around Tony Chimel. She shakes down Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton. She gets booed a lot. She did the damn thing, and she did it well.

Would it be all that hard to actually give the Divas decent material? It’s really quite easy: Make the heel going against the champion just kind of fly off the handle. Instead, most of the time, we get Total Divas beef.

Case in point … “#TotalDivas” was on my screen during RAW. As is the Bella Twin who looks a bit like she signed a 3-year deal with Brazzers. #NSFW

NIKKI BELLA vs. NATALYA

The angle here: Nikki didn’t like Nattie’s painting of John Cena and her. Nattie thought she should’ve been nice and just accepted it. Also, the rest of the Total Divas cast is “judging” the match ringside. This match already sucks. A bit of wrestling arrives around the 2-minute mark, when Nattie locks in an abdominal stretch and Nikki reverses. And it goes away when they trade pushes that make Erick Rowan look like Gotch or Hackenschmidt. Also, not the last time Rowan’s pushing prowess enters the discussion. Nattie goes for the wheelbarrow victory roll, but Nikki blocks for a pin and Nattie gets sad/mad afterward.

Time: 3:29

Technical Merit: Too much silly “catfighting” crap and not enough actual athleticism.

Artistic Impression: *hastily puts together “zero” card, holds it up*

TOTAL SCORE: Zero

•••

Zeb Colter wants us to shut up, because apparently real Americans would listen to what he has to say. He’s putting his Deportation List on par with the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. Why? Because now Adam Rose is on it, of course! Meanwhile, Colter’s client has a RAW match with someone other than Rose.

JACK SWAGGER (w/Zeb Colter) vs. ROB VAN DAM

It MIGHT have taken 3 seconds for Rose to interrupt. The only cool thing to come out of it was Swagger swinging and missing as Rose does his “stage dive.” Oh, JBL dropped a Kurrgan and The Oddities reference. Once that’s over, kick, Frog Splash, done. Sometimes I hate wrestling.

Time: 2:06

•••

Curtis Axel literally won a coin flip to face the United States Champion. That started a Paul Heyman Guy past and present gauntlet of sorts, starting with the two failures of the Heyman experiment on RAW.

United States Champion SHEAMUS vs. CURTIS AXEL

Trying to find the words to describe the Nattie-Nikki match was more interesting than the opening portion of this one. Rolling senton and nice kneelift around the 2-minute mark. Then Sheamus goes up top. When he goes up top, he’s gonna have a bad time … like an effective neckbreaker from Axel. But young Curtis misses a dropkick, lands right into the Cloverleaf and taps. Cool, I guess.

Time: 3:19

Technical Merit: Nothing good or bad of note. Take that as you will.

Artistic Impression: The coin flip was the story. Take that as you will.

TOTAL SCORE: 1/2*

Ryback couldn’t attack fast enough afterward. This means the Celtic Warrior isn’t done yet.

United States Champion SHEAMUS vs. RYBACK

Lot of escapes and counters early. Sheamus hits the 10 forearms outside, then goes for some sort of shoulder block thing, but Ryback catches him and hits the chinbreaker for 2. Ryback wastes some time, then the Meathook Clothesline is countered right into White Noise for 2. Brogue Kick ducked, and Ryback hits a spinebuster. Sheamus fights back with the running powerslam. When Ryback kicks out, the big fella’s angry. Axel distracts long enough for the Meathook, and Ryback goes for Shell Shocked, but Sheamus slips out and hits the Brogue Kick. An odd match, but a good one.

Time: 5:30

Technical Merit: If you like escapes and reversals, this was your kind of wrestling match.

Artistic Impression: We saw Sheamus get a little angry, which is good. And we knew it would take some sort of escape to set up the finisher.

TOTAL SCORE: **

Big guys don’t typically have “technical” matches, but that’s what this was. Some purists will see two big, slow, stale guys in the ring and try to see how many negative stars they could possibly give it. Others would say just because the maneuvers aren’t exactly attacking moves doesn’t mean it’s not wrestling.

A day later, Main Event starts with “My client, Brock Lesnar, conquered The Undertaker‘s undefeated streak at WrestleMania!” Because Paul Heyman. The United States Champion interrupts for a mildly entertaining back-and-forth that sets up our main event of the evening.

ME 051314 Sheamus Paul Heyman

A former U.S. Champion then interrupts and provides a Neutralizer as an appetizer. Nice, brief segment to give us a reason to desire the match, even though there already was one with Cesaro being involved. This felt like a big deal, due to Sheamus’ strong billing over the past couple days and, it goes without saying, because Paul Heyman.

Near the midpoint of the show, Sheamus confirms we won’t have a match. We’ll have a fight. He’s right.

United States Champion SHEAMUS vs. CESARO (w/Paul Heyman)

That entrance attire …

ME 051314 Cesaro King of Swing

… and a European uppercut exchange in the first minute? You have my attention. At 2 minutes, Cesaro already needs to regroup, though it provides a great heelish moment when Sheamus dumps him into the ring and he rolls all the way through to the other side. This is a brawl, and it’s a good one to start. Whole lot of strikes, whole lot of Heyman. We get 10 more strikes at about 3:45, much to Heyman’s chagrin. Mike Chioda wants a clean break in the corner; Cesaro provides a couple big boots and an uppercut to the back of the head instead. A rolling senton at 5:30 wasn’t the first wrestling move in the match, but it felt like it. Sheamus goes up, but Cesaro cuts him off and hip tosses him. I think that was the third move.

Sidenote: I want the WWE 50 book. My birthday’s coming up. Just saying …

Anyway, back to another boatload of strikes, which Cesaro wins with a kick. Sheamus gets some momentum, but a clothesline stunts it. Irish Curse backbreaker follows shortly after. Goes for the Cloverleaf, but Cesaro rolls him up. Sheamus hits the powerslam to no avail. Cesaro escapes White Noise and ducks the Brogue Kick into a bridging German suplex. The Neutralizer attempt gets countered into White Noise. Strike 2 on the Brogue Kick, and a strike against Cesaro when he goes up top, but gets knocked to the floor. Sheamus follows with one of the clumsiest crossbodies I’ve ever seen. Cesaro counters a Sheamus charge by dumping him into the timekeeper’s area. A few seconds later, Sheamus clotheslines both of them into the front row. That’ll guarantee a double countout.

Time: 13:21

Technical Merit: Well-executed brawling style match with plenty of counters and escapes. Solid all around.

Artistic Impression: Usually not a fan of the double countout, but it protects both men and allows the post-match fireworks to commence.

TOTAL SCORE: **3/4

Nice bit afterward to advance the rivalry — Paul E. hands Cesaro a chair, which is put to good use, and Sheamus finally connects on a Brogue Kick to even the score. It looks like if creative wanted, the option to draw this out is there. Sheamus is giving credibility to a championship that sorely needed it after being just some accessory Dean Ambrose wore for a year. Cesaro could help boost the prestige by being the perfect foil — wickedly strong, well-versed in technique and an absolute physical specimen. Cesaro can be a leaner, meaner version of Sheamus, or he could just wrestle circles around him. Or Sheamus could eke out the upper hand and continue his upward trajectory. Plenty of things are in play for a future feud, or it’s just a fun way to spend a Tuesday night.

•••

Hey, if you thought the Total Divas shilling wasn’t enough … don’t worry, you get Legends House plugs now! Also, you can be all “HOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” and “USA! USA! USA!” all you want, but I know your game, Hacksaw Jim Duggan. I didn’t forget.

Duggan FB2K

Lana interrupts and promos on the U.S. and England — once-great nations whose empires have crumbled and become the laughingstocks of the world. She’s conveniently forgetting about her own country, which only used to be the freaking Soviet Union. Anyway, this was all a ploy to get Rusev and her out here. And for Rusev to snap a 2×4 over his knee like a stick. And for Big E. to run in and get killed.

Random, relevant point on social media Monday night: Kofi. Big E. R-TruthXavier Woods. Rusev isn’t exactly an equal-opportunity midcard monster heel. Maybe by beating up only black people, WWE is going for a weird heel-in-America, face-in-Russia (and, judging by soccer, probably some other places in Europe) thing. Also, one of the four may or may not have posted an Instagram pic of The Nation of Domination and suggested this is how they’ll handle business from here on out. If someone in the group could actually assert himself as a leader, it could have legs. If not? Well prepare for next week’s episode of Rusev Squashes Another Black Talent.

•••

Speaking of WWE’s black contingent, on to Superstars, which leads off with a rubber match?

KOFI KINGSTON vs. TITUS O’NEIL

Apparently Titus won 5 weeks ago, and Kofi earned revenge 3 weeks ago. This confirms, in fact, there are Superstars rivalries. Vicious offense from Titus … well, until the bear hug. Because we need a rest hold after 90 seconds. Kofi tries to slip under Titus, but he’s caught, then clubbed in the back of the head. Kofi sells better than he attacks, which is to O’Neil’s benefit here. Titus looks impressive as the big man; it’s a shame they can’t really find anything else from him to do. Well, I guess they did from the 3-minute mark on, because he’s selling for Kofi. No selling necessary on Trouble In Paradise, which is simply caught and turned into a backbreaker. I stand corrected … he’ll have to sell it one way or another.

SS 051514 Kofi Kingston

Time: 5:10

Technical Merit: A little rough, but not bad.

Artistic Impression: I guess I’d have to watch this show more often to even know there’s a story behind it.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/4

•••

Speaking of Superstars rivalries, here’s 3MB!

SS 051514 3MB

Bright side: Hornswoggle isn’t doing the work here.

DREW MCINTYRE (w/3MB) vs. SIN CARA (con Los Matadores y El Torito)

First off, the Los Matadores gimmick SUCKS. It’s not as bad as when they marginalized Tito freaking Santana, but were Primo and Epico all that bad? Second, I officially miss Carlito. Not even sure why, but I was a total mark. His Intercontinental Championship triple threat with Shelton Benjamin and Johnny Nitro in 2006 was legendary. Third, armdrags and monkey flips all around! Give WWE credit: It took 2 whole minutes to address the Hornswoggle-El Torito rivalry. Good news: Drew gains momentum after commercial. Bad news: He might have used a move from Erick Rowan‘s repertoire — push the guy down while he’s running at you. McIntyre works well when he has a bit of a mean streak, of which you don’t get to see a whole lot when he’s in a comedic heel jobber stable. Speaking of jobber, he takes Sin Cara’s babyface comeback. Hornswoggle reprises the under-the-ring gimmick at 6:00, when El Torito chases/corners him. Everybody on the outside follows. Drew is sufficiently distracted. So are the fans when El Torito walks out with Hornswoggle’s pants.

SS 051514 Hornswoggle

Anyway, back in the ring, Sin Cara hits a kick on the apron and hits the Swanton for the victory.

SS 051514 Sin Cara

Time: 7:58

Technical Merit: It started strong. It finished with a whimper.

Artistic Impression: It’s 3MB vs. Los Matadores. You can skip this one.

TOTAL SCORE: 1/4*

WWE Midcard Report (May 5-6): John Cena responds to Bray Wyatt, Adam Rose makes a lukewarm debut, Bad News Barrett retains his new title and Dolph Ziggler wins …?

The past is a ghost. The future is a dream. All we ever have is now. Do you know what you’ll do with your here and your now? I do. Bolieve.

RAW 050514 Bolieve

I need to believe Bo Dallas is worthwhile, because Adam Rose is 0-for-2 on non-NXT programming. He made his main-roster debut on RAW, then returned on Main Event to make things worse for Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter. Not sure how this will work, because Swagger could break Rose in half in about 0.46 seconds.

Anyway, on RAW, Zeb wants to deport a decent portion of WWE for no real reason, including Paul Heyman, who’s American (and will play a role later). Apparently this means he’s a lemon, not a rosebud.

RAW 050514 Adam Rose Zeb Colter

Also, this is apparently how they decide to debut Rose, who interrupts Zeb, tugs his mustache, kicks Swagger and back bodydrops him over the top rope. Yay.

On the other hand, he helps Dolph Ziggler the next night.

DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. JACK SWAGGER (w/Zeb Colter)

This match also appears to be a vehicle for Zeb on commentary to be Zeb … and maybe be a little racist toward Byron Saxton, who apparently doesn’t look like he’s from Virginia. Meanwhile, a halfway decent match transpiring. Swagger with the ride-time advantage early, and Ziggler snaps off back-to-back dropkicks. Swagger regains the upper hand by deliberating tossing Dolph over the turnbuckles and onto the post, which results in a stair bump on the way down. That looked painful. Now Zeb’s talking about wrestling as a sport, and Dolph takes another sick bump over the ropes and straight to the floor. I’m in pain just watching it.

*COMMERCIAL BREAK*

Rest hold back from the break, which Dolph breaks with the jawbreaker. A flurry of offense from the best salesman in the business, and he escapes the ankle lock by leveraging Swagger’s momentum into the post and hitting the Fame Asser for 2. Nice throw from Jack, but Dolph blocks the Swaggerbomb and hits the DDT.

Then, well … Rose shows up. He uses his two catchphrases, which apparently are all he knows how to say. It also creates enough of a distraction for the Zig Zag and the win. Throw in a victory over Magneto Damien Sandow last week on SmackDown, and it’s a good time to be the Showoff!

ME 050614 Dolph Ziggler

TIME: 9:50

Technical Merit: Aside from the multiple distractions, there was a good match going down.

Artistic Impression: Almost too much going on, though Ziggler getting another win was welcomed.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/4

I thought Rose and his persona would fall flat, and it did. Even having Ziggler party with the group postmatch didn’t save it. Having a constant party of a dozen or so works great in an arena with a few hundred people (I see you, NXT!) — not venues with five-figure attendance. It feels like it’s trying too hard to be a big happening when it suddenly looks so small. The fact that Rose was stale before he even showed up was a bad sign, too.

•••

Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman, and in case you didn’t hear the breaking news … my client, Brock Lesnar, conquered The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania!

See? Told you Paul E. would be back! The good news is this means we get Cesaro. The bad news? He’s facing RVD. Now I know why Twitter was complaining about the Albany RAW crowd. Or maybe it was what sounded like a “CM PUNK!” chant while now-former U.S. Champ Dean Ambrose was on the apron during a perilous fight — a 20-man battle royal title defense that he lost to Sheamus. Idiots.

CESARO vs. ROB VAN DAM

Can we just discuss Rolling Thunder being one of the stupidest moves in wrestling? Let’s somersault our way to the opponent, THEN do another one on our foe when we get there. You know what’s not stupid? The uppercut we see from Cesaro coming out of the break. And the chain of three gutwrench suplexes. Then we get a spot with RVD stuck in the Tree of Woe. Cesaro decides he wants to hurt the man, and the ref exhausts his five count. Cesaro keeps going even after that.

Hulu Plus TIME: 4:56

Technical Merit: Halfway decent.

Artistic Impression: A DQ finish? An “injury” angle with RVD? WTF?

TOTAL SCORE: 1/2*

•••

We all need serious cosmetic surgery to be worthy of an Intercontinenal Champion like Bad News Barrett. This means both midcard titles are defended in the same night! That’s good news.

BAD NEWS BARRETT (c) vs. BIG E., Intercontinental Championship

JBL called Big E. a great, fighting champion. Apparently he’s been too busy thinking of the next snarky Affordable Care Act joke to actually watch the product in front of him. That’s a new one … Big E. spears Barrett into the steel steps. Big E. goes for the same into the post on the other side. Barrett follows with a lariat and an elbow drop from the apron, and he’s more than content with a countout. The challenger isn’t and makes it in at 8, which the announcers sell like it was at 9 3/4.

*COMMERCIAL BREAK*

Big E. ducks the Bullhammer and counters with a chest bump, but then spears them both out of the ring. Cole oversells Big E. after a belly-to-belly, and Barrett escapes the Big Ending attempt, rakes the eye and hits the Bullhammer. That’s how you retain a title.

RAW 050514 Bad News Barrett

Hulu Plus TIME: 5:18

Technical Merit: Nothing spectacular.

Artistic Impression: Passable story involving hit-or-miss risks and Barrett using whatever necessary to keep his belt.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Speaking of midcard titles …

ME 050614 Sheamus

This is Triple H trolling us all, right? Ambrose’s lack of title defenses becomes a running joke, so naturally, Sheamus defends his title four days after earning it. Well done, Trips. Well played.

•••

On to a Divas match, which actually is in place to advance a Total Divas storyline? I’m THIS close to skipping it.

NATALYA & THE FUNKADACTYLS vs. AKSANA, ALICIA FOX & TAMINA

Alicia Fox ever has improved quite a bit, or she’s always been decent and never really shown it. She may be the only heel on the main roster who can have a decent match with Paige, and she held her own with Nattie to start things off. The heels actually have some decent psychology, if not an abundance of skills. They’re not looking great doing it, but they’re cutting Nattie off … until Nattie uses her posterior to create enough separation for the hot tag to Naomi. Naomi uses her butt to set up the … split-legged moonsault? Not bad!

TIME: 4:57

Technical Merit: Had its moments. The middle portion was weak.

Artistic Impression: The “real” story here? Nattie and Cameron have beef. Yawn. Should’ve skipped it.

ME 050614 Natalya

TOTAL SCORE: 3/4*

•••

 ME 050614 Mr T

You expected someone else? Also, the accompanying video was one of WWE’s greatest comedic moments in a while.

•••

ME 050614 Goldust

It must be Main Event if Goldust is in action! For a non-cable man like me, this apparently is the only place to find him. His opponent also is a veteran of the minor show circuit.

GOLDUST (w/Cody Rhodes) vs. CURTIS AXEL (w/Ryback)

Apparently Ryback faced Cody last night, and Dustin screwed up, which allowed Ryback to win? And apparently it’s right for Axel to completely control the first 4 minutes? I want to go to bed. Goldie finally gets some rapid-fire offense with the usual spots, capped by a powerslam for 2. Axel equalizes by dumping Dustin, which brings Cody and Ryback into play. Goldust ducks as Cody parkours the barricade to hit the Disaster Kick on Ryback, and Goldie hits the Final Cut.

TIME: 6:06

Technical Merit: Not terrible, but the last third was leaps and bounds beyond the first two.

Artistic Impression: The story was told fine enough. The story itself just sucks.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/4

•••

The main event of Main Event? The newest member of the midcard, of course!

ME 050614 John Cena 1

And he’s perplexed after a flashback to Extreme Rules, when John Cena lost to Bray Wyatt.

Very interesting tactics from an interesting man. Bray Wyatt is an interesting man. He tried to turn me into a monster, he’s like nothing I’ve ever seen, and well, from what I’ve heard lately, he’s got the whole world in his hands. You know, for months I’ve been trying to tell all of you how dangerous Bray Wyatt really is, but I can’t make you listen. So if you want to follow the buzzards, I can’t stop you. I shouldn’t want to, because you should have the power to make up your own minds. So as much as I may not like that, if you all want to go and join the Wyatt Family, I have to let you go. But when you follow the buzzards, what do you really follow? And when you follow something, you believe in it. So I’m basically asking about the Wyatt Family, what is it that you believe in? Is it the song? *singalong time* Catchy, right? Everybody loves a singalong that’s catchy. But did anyone ever ask where that song came from, and did you ever really listen to the words? HE has got the whole world in HIS hands? Oh, wait a second. Maybe it’s this, maybe it’s this. The mask. Maybe it’s the mask. Masks are fun. We all wear costumes for Halloween. There’s a ton of different ones. Adam Rose has got a bunch of people that wear masks. It’s a party all the time with him. But of all the masks Bray Wyatt could’ve made, he said, ‘If you want to follow the Wyatts, you’ve gotta wear the face of a sheep.’ And then there’s Bray Wyatt, the man himself. He speaks with so much charisma and captivates the audience. But has any of you ever listened to what Bray Wyatt actually says? *cut to Monday’s five-star sermon* So I come here tonight with one question: What do you believe in? Because in life, if you don’t stand for something, you are sure to fall for everything. I can answer that question in a heartbeat. Each night, I wear it on my sleeve. I wear it on my chest. I wear it on my hat. I wear it on my shoes. This is what I believe. My name is John Cena. I am not a god; I am a man. And I am a man who still believes in respect, in honor and in hard work. And my message is clear as day. No matter what the fight, no matter how tough the odds, you NEVER. GIVE. UP! I’m also a man who understands I may have to fight Bray Wyatt alone. But as a man, I was raised to fight for what I believe in. And here in the WWE, the competition may change, the color of my T-shirt may change, the WWE Universe itself may change, but my resolve and message does not. You never give up, even if I’m the last man standing. You never give up. My name is John Cena. This is my message. This is what I believe in.

ME 050614 John Cena 2

CENA PROMO: **1/4

Normally this would seem like a solid babyface promo, but Wyatt is talking circles around him. So much so, in fact, that Cena looks more out of touch than ever. Normally you could expect him to bite back with passion, and there’s no doubt why he’s been the top dog for about a decade. But it just doesn’t look like it’s there. He’s trying — John Cena always does — but it’s just not clicking for him right now, in the ring or out. Does a change need to be made? Does he need some time off? Or do we simply need to sit back and watch Payback play out, and see Cena — win or lose — deliver the goods in the rubber match?

Who watches Main Event? Let me know if you do, and what you thought of the show, either below or on Twitter @jpetrie18.

WWE Midcard Report (April 28-29): Bad News Barrett wins twice, The Usos retain the tag team belts and the Extreme Rules card fills out

The Real World Champ likes to mix things up every once in a while. Sometimes you’ll get one huge RAW post. Sometimes four or five little ones.

Sometimes we’ll look at two shows at the same time.

WWE has three well-crafted, main-event-caliber storylines that carried this Monday’s RAW. You can read about those here. This is the first-ever Midcard Report, which takes a look at everything else.

We’ll start with RAW, where the Tag Team Championship was on the line.

THE USOS (c) vs. RYBAXEL, WWE Tag Team Championship

Ryback and Curtis Axel have “suddenly turned it on as a team” or something like that. Nothing of note in the first couple minutes other than a clumsy-looking stereo dive that appears to injure Jey Uso‘s lower left leg. Of note after the commercial break, Rybaxel goes for a tandem superplex, but Jimmy Uso fights them off and front suplexes Axel onto Ryback. Hot tag to Jey, but he’s still favoring the leg. Ryback hits a spinebuster and a cover, THEN starts posing after the fact to set up for the clothesline. That’s enough time to allow Jey to get up and hit a superkick. Jey with another nice counter, turning Shell Shocked into a rollup. Tag to Jimmy, which comes in handy when Axel gets the Perfectplex on Jey. Jimmy hits the top-rope splash on Axel, and the champs retain.

Hulu Plus TIME: 5:44

TECHNICAL MERIT: Some decent spots in this one.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Typical babyfaces-in-peril tag match.

TOTAL SCORE: **

Not great, but certainly better than expected. The heels tried some things that made the match feel a little different, and actually made themselves look decent … not an easy task for this pair.

 

Magneto and motivational speaking

“If you can’t see yourself a winner, you’ll never be one. The power to envision your goals and the power to achieve them is the same thing. No one ever got rich in the passenger’s seat. Take the wheel. Take charge. And Bolieve.”

RAW 042814 Bolieve

This one’s for the ladies.

RAW 042814 Hugh Jackman

This one’s not.

RAW 042814 Sandow Magneto

This was the best bad segment of RAW in a LONG time. It would be the worst if it weren’t so damn hilarious … and if “Magneto” didn’t take a hip toss and the Zig Zag.

 

Paul Heyman’s clients (past and present) and the next Intercontinental Champion

“I’m a liar. I’m a conniver. I’m ruthless. And I’m totally uninhibited by my unethical approach to business. But I take my clients to the top.” That about covers Paul Heyman. And that’s all Cesaro wants to hear.

RAW 042814 Heyman Cesaro

Later in the show, Paul E. decides we need to hear a joke, because “my kids think I’m funny!”

Knock knock!

Who’s there?

Mike!

Mike who?

Mike … lient Brock Lesnar conquered the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania!

RAW 042814 Real Americans

Yeah, that didn’t work. But hey, Heyman’s client, Cesaro, won the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania! He’ll try to conquer Jack Swagger once more.

CESARO vs. JACK SWAGGER

Gutwrench suplex … and Cesaro hangs on for another one. Wicked strong. Swagger shouts “We the people!” into Cesaro’s ear during a weardown hold. Zeb Colter trips up Cesaro from outside, then Paul E. takes matters, and Zeb’s mustache, into his own hands. That’s enough of a distraction for a bridging German suplex pin.

TIME: 3:12

TECHNICAL MERIT: A bit clunky at times, actually, but a couple decent maneuvers.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Decent, quick story.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/4

These guys aren’t done yet. But until then …

RAW 042814 Bad News Barrett

This man has bad news for Rob Van Dam. Only the “Then” part of the WWE slogan applies to him. In fact, Wade Barrett apparently was in diapers the last time RVD was Intercontinental Championship. That’s a bit of a stretch, but that whole promo was fantastic. Barrett is over as a heel, and it’s great to see. The man can talk, he has charisma, he has a great look and he can work.

ROB VAN DAM vs. BAD NEWS BARRETT, Intercontinental Championship No. 1 contender tournament final

Rob, however, is working him early. Well, until he basically whiffs on an apron moonsault. At least Barrett sold it well. Barrett puts in work outside before the break, and he’s stretching RVD a bit upon return. RVD suddenly goes a bit away from his offense with some Ultimate Warrior clotheslines, then goes to the spinning kick until Cesaro arrives. Swagger follows, and they go at it outside. That appears to set up the Bullhammer, but it turns into a back kick and Rolling Thunder. Yawn. RVD has to fend off Cesaro will perched up top, and that gives Barrett enough time to prepare/block the frog splash. One Bullhammer later and we have our No. 1 contender.

RAW 042814 Big E Barrett

TIME: 4:48

TECHNICAL MERIT: A bit formulaic. It’s an RVD match.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Points here for advancing two stories.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/4

The aftermath is a three-way midcard scrap, which Cesaro starts but also of which he gets the brunt. Because somebody has to take the frog splash.

RAW 042814 Rob Van Dam

I think RVD’s best place is off my screen, but at least this whole bit makes sense. RVD hates Heyman, so he hates Cesaro by proxy. Swagger still hates Cesaro, and that’s mutual.

“Not sure about the end game, but could make for a fun triple threat down the road.” I wrote that Tuesday morning. Sure enough …

ExR Triple Threat

Potential direction: This feels like a star vehicle for Cesaro, but Swagger could screw him over to continue the feud.

Who should win Sunday: Cesaro

Who probably will win: Cesaro

 

On to the next one …

Moving along  … nothing says Midcard Report quite like WWE Main Event! We lead off with Goldust in action, along with a flashback to RAW, when Cody Rhodes lost to Alberto Del Rio and shoved Goldust in frustration afterward. So, for a Hulu Plus RAW viewer, this was actually quite informative! Though the brothers are on the same page for the moment.

ME 042914 Cody Rhodes Goldust

GOLDUST (w/Cody Rhodes) vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO

Both men aggressive out of the gate, and a Backstabber into the cover 30 seconds in. Slows down a bit with the rear chinlock about a minute in, and the “Let’s Go Goldust!” chant to help him out. Signature drop and slap and the powerslam at the 2-minute mark, and ADR with the enziguiri right after that. This could be a quick one. Dragon screw from Goldie to counter the kick, then the Final Cut does it. Guess I was right.

ME 042914 Goldust

TIME: 3:09

TECHNICAL MERIT: Quick, but all the major spots in.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: The story was mostly set up the night before, so not much here besides the winner.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Renee Young … sorry, “Nay Nay” … suggests this could be about the time The Brotherhood splits. Goldie squashes that. Nay Nay asks whether Cody Rhodes is impressed with Dustin’s win; Cody somewhat heelish in saying that doesn’t mean Dustin’s better. He gets back on course and says The Brotherhood is together and will stay that way. Methinks that won’t last too much longer…

On another note, this is happening Friday:

SD 050214 US Title

(No) thanks to Twitter, I know what happens. Oh well.

 

Speaking of champions …

ME 042914 Paige

WWE Divas Champion PAIGE vs. ALICIA FOX

This goes straight outside, and the champ jumps from the apron and snaps off a head-scissors. These two have pretty good chemistry, though Alicia isn’t the most crisp. She does, however, play the heel part adequately. Big kick to the face around 2:00 after Paige rips off Matt Morgan with the corner elbows. Paige gets a kick of her own 30 seconds later and starts to show her edge — hair pulling, knees to the head, etc. Simple, but effective countering from Alicia. She won’t, however, counter this DDT.

ME 042914 Paige DDT 1 ME 042914 Paige DDT 2

TIME: 3:34

TECHNICAL MERIT: Not great, but certainly not bad.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Typical Paige main-roster match, though she did get some more offense early.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/2

Afterward, the champ has company.

ME 042914 Paige Tamina

Paige vs. Tamina potential direction: Why give the belt to Paige for only a month?

Who should win Sunday: Paige retains.

Who probably will win: You know this one.

 

Promo time with Sheamus to set up a fight with Bray Wyatt later in the show. Something about fighting with guys in Ireland or something. I don’t listen because I don’t want to hear Sheamus talk. I want to see him kick ass and leave.

 

Random fun fact: This man is a 10-time champion in WWE.

ME 042914 Kofi Kingston

That’s the good news.

ME 042914 Bad News Barrett

This is the bad news. More bad news: Big E. is a “cardboard cutout” and a bland, boring champion.

Good news: Mr. Barrett is pulling Midcard Report double duty!

BAD NEWS BARRETT vs. KOFI KINGSTON

More bad news: Big back kick to Kofi’s gut. Kingston the speed and a flying cross-body for 2. Nice tilt-a-whirl backbreaker from Barrett. Ninety seconds in, he’s calling for the Bullhammer, but Kofi thwarts that with a rollup. Kofi slips Barrett multiple times outside, but literally leaps into the Bullhammer. All Barrett has to do is roll him back in.

TIME: 2:28

TECHNICAL MERIT: Basic.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: The mission — get Barrett over. Success.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/2

 

“… Kansas City … we’re here.”

So is the Celtic Warrior, who interrupts sing-along time with Bray Wyatt. Not cool. Also, this actually feels like it could be a substitute main-event match down the line; it’s almost overqualified for this slot. But since this is a midcard show …

SHEAMUS vs. BRAY WYATT (w/Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)

Both men opting for the slow build on this one. Sheamus using the power and striking game early, but Wyatt doing just enough to stunt the momentum before it gets excessive. When Sheamus does get something, like a second-rope kneedrop, Bray is kicking out at 1. Back from break, and Wyatt has stepped into the driver’s seat. The rest of the Wyatt Family is staying out of the way for the most part, obstructing Sheamus only enough to let him know they’re here. Forearm to the back on the apron that forces Sheamus to fall face first into said apron, then the running senton inside for 2. After that, good old-fashioned ass whipping until Sheamus blocks a second senton attempt. Charge and kneelift, and a kneelift that propels him outside around 9:00. That helps him long enough to get a uranage slam for 2 1/2. Sister Abigail expertly countered into White Noise and a cover.

On another note, Harper is creepy as hell.

ME 042914 Luke Harper

Sheamus gets the 10 forearms going outside in after landing on his feet on Wyatt’s back bodydrop attempt. At 12:00, Wyatt ducks the Brogue Kick, but runs into the Irish Curse backbreaker on the way back. Rowan distracts Sheamus from attempting the kick again, but does get a powerslam. Rowan AND Harper provide the distraction on either apron, and that allows Wyatt to bash Sheamus in the back and hit Sister Abigail. Great match.

ME 042914 Bray Wyatt Sheamus

TIME: 13:40

TECHNICAL MERIT: It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was effective.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Simple story with the mutual beatdown, and Wyatt stays strong.

TOTAL SCORE: ***1/2

When Sheamus has a decent and/or fresh dance partner, the man can get the job done in the ring. I’ve seen at least two, if not three, good matches out of him against different opponents as of late. He’s a good man to have in the upper midcard because he’s a good hand, he’s powerful and wins and losses don’t really affect him a whole lot.

As for Wyatt, he’s a MUCH better storyteller than technician. His attack is somewhat repetitive and quite simple. But here’s the thing: He’s 26 years old. The skills will continue to develop, and he’s believable as a somewhat unorthodox, powerful brawler. He reminds me of Mick Foley, to be honest: Not the greatest physique and would never be confused for the Excellence of Execution, but you know you’ll see a good fight and a damn good story.

Main Event had a great balance this week: A true main event, and you get some bulletpoints on the portions of the card RAW may not hit. Creative all around seems to have some more depth and more sense, and it makes the whole product more enjoyable to watch.

COME BACK THURSDAY NIGHT FOR A FULL REPORT ON NXT

WWE Main Event 04/08 review: The Shield and The Wyatt Family again? You have my attention.

I don’t go out of my way to watch WWE Main Event. I already have enough wrestling on my plate. But there were three good reasons to flip to the WWE Network for some on-demand action:

  • I needed something to help me forget about The Ultimate Warrior‘s unexpected death. (A post on that is coming soon.)
  • I just cracked open a tall boy of domestic ice beer and needed something to pass the time.
  • The #WWEFamily on Twitter was all over The Shield and The Wyatt Family in Round 3.

ME 040814 ShieldWyatts

If you put some of the sport’s hottest stars on your show, no matter when or what it is, you’ll have my attention.

THE SHIELD vs. THE WYATT FAMILY (7:43)

Dean Ambrose and a masked Erick Rowan start off. Well, until the U.S. Champ knocks it off his face. Hell of a submission hold from Seth Rollins at the 2-minute mark, torquing Rowan’s neck until he finally escapes about 30 seconds later. All six men in before the break.

*COMMERCIAL BREAK FOR LEGENDS HOUSE PROMO*

Rollins and Bray Wyatt back from break, and the heel with his innovative offense. Tag to Rowan, who continues to carry the bulk of the load? Nice back suplex, but he’s the least intriguing of the trio. He tags to Harper, who’s talented while being just plain nutso. Rollins flips out of the corner and finally with the hot tag to Roman Reigns just after 6:00. Tag to Ambrose, and a somewhat sloppy back suplex/neckbreaker combo ensues. Harper’s big boot was not sloppy. Quick tags from the heels, and Rowan is back in, trying to squish Ambrose’s head like a grape. Ambrose escapes, but right into a backbreaker and a cover. Ambrose playing the babyface in peril quite well! He trades slaps with Harper until Harper simply deposits him into the corner. He breaks out of a Rowan rest hold near 10:00, but Rowan dumps him outside before the next break.

*COMMERCIAL BREAK FOR THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR DVD SET … R.I.P.*

Ambrose is STILL in the ring, and the heels are passing him around. Ambrose gets away from Harper with a jawbreaker, but gets his face planted when Harper blocks a kick. Think about that one for a sec … Harper swung Ambrose’s leg so hard, he fell forward and faceplanted. Bray doing minimal work in this one. He tags to Rowan AGAIN, who slaps on a bear hug at 13:00. Ambrose counters his way into a sleeper, but Rowan just falls back and slams him into the mat. When the hell was Ambrose’s last tag? Nice clothesline, but Harper recovers enough to tag to Wyatt. Ambrose boots out of a corner charge and goes up top, but Wyatt cuts him off at the pass and tries to superplex. Ambrose blocks that and headbutts him off the top rope. Goes for the axe handle, but jumps right into an urinagi. Rollins breaks it up, and chaos in the ring. HARPER WITH A SUICIDE DIVE. Wyatt sets his sights on Ambrose, who hasn’t tagged in more than 10 minutes. Sister Abigail is countered into a rollup, then Ambrose snaps off a DDT. Hot tag to Rollins at 17:15. Dropkicks all around, then a suicide dive on one end, and a flip dive on the other. Rollins ducks Wyatt on the apron and fends him off. Gut kick and his signature move, but Harper breaks up the count. Harper goes for a powerbomb, but Ambrose starts wailing on him. Wyatt hits a running elbow, then Reigns a Superman punch. Rowan dumps Reigns, Rollins kicks Rowan and Harper, then Reigns hits the apron dropkick on Harper. Ambrose gets the tag and hits a dropkick, then Rollins hits a springboard kneelift. Ambrose with his Dirty Deeds faceplant finisher, and this match ends too soon.

TIME: 19:22

TECHNICAL MERIT: Slow start, but very sound.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Loved the back-and-forth chaos at the end.

TOTAL SCORE: ****

These six men could compete every week, and I don’t think many would mind. Hell, the replay took about a minute. This match sold me on Rowan even; ALL SIX MEN CAN WORK. Promo time with The Shield and Renee Young afterward was fantastic, especially when Reigns took the mic.

Renee, do I look like I’m faceless, baby? Cajundome … Do I have a name? *YES!* What’s my name? *ROMAN REIGNS!* Triple H, my name is Roman Reigns, and I’m the guy that speared you Monday night. And I’m standing right here. ****

ME 040814 Reigns

Sidenote: When did The Shield become, like, heartthrobs and stuff? The women LOVE them some Shield. Twitter showed this a bit, and this show — of which half was devoted completely to them — proved it. SO many higher-pitched chants for Ambrose and Reigns … those used to be reserved for Randy Orton. I guess the ladies like some fresh faces, too.

Hey, remember when Jack Swagger became World Heavyweight Champion like right after WrestleMania? Remember when Dolph Ziggler did the same thing? One was four years ago. The other was just one. Both feel like an eternity. I’m far more upset about the latter than the former. Anyway, they’ll go at it next.

JACK SWAGGER (w/Zeb Colter) vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (43:02)

Ziggler’s apparently up to 223. That’s dangerously close to the limit for The Champ’s theoretical cruiserweight division! This match hot out of the gate, with a nice dropkick at the bell and a Swagger Bomb in the first 30 seconds. Swagger looks clunky even when he takes a bump. Ziggler is on point in this one. Well, until Swagger takes out the left knee with a cut block. Swagger Bomb blocked. Ziggler gets a rollup, but Swagger slaps on the Patriot Lock. Fame Asser at 3:20, but a kickout. Zig Zag blocked, then a big boot from the big guy. Swagger’s credentials are played up, because they need to be. Meanwhile, he gets a DDT. Play THAT up. Ziggler counters a potential electric chair into a victory roll. Swagger tosses Ziggler into the air, then gets the Patriot Lock for … a win? Damn.

ME 040814 Swagger

TIME: 4:09

TECHNICAL MERIT: Nice pace throughout.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: No real story.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

We finish with the good Sin Cara … and Lana‘s legs. I mean Alexander Rusev!

SIN CARA vs. ALEXANDER RUSEV (52:35)

Looking at the time, this one will be quick. The luchador with the early offense, but a big kick from the Muay Thai expert. Pick up, spinning Rock Bottom variation, Accolade, done.

ME 040814 Rusev

TIME: 0:49

Quick is good, but this matchup didn’t find a way to make me care. Swagger needs a reboot … badly.

Main Event 01/15: Random thoughts

I pulled a dubious WWE viewing trifecta on my day off: NXT (read here), Main Event and Superstars (coming soon). Why? Because it was a day off and all three were in the Hulu Plus queue. NXT was simple enough to write about, because there was a theme. The last two? Well, if you’re into multiple 3MB vs. Primetime Players tag matches, you’re in luck!

The following are random, bullet-pointed notes taken during last night’s viewing:

MAIN EVENT

• So let me get this straight: The intro shows some actual main-event guys, including The Undertaker. (Superstars does the same). Then they open with a Kofi Kingston match. We’ll see how many actual main-event guys are in, well, Main Event. I’m guessing zero.

• Look, it’s Alex Riley! I saw him destroy The Miz in Portland 3 years ago, but the push basically ended right there.

Kofi Kingston vs. Curtis Axel

• Oh, and thank my lucky stars, it’s former Intercontinental and tag-team champion Curtis Axel! That’s right, Joe Hennig has only one leg of the Triple Crown to go. He’s just … boring. I don’t think the beard helps him. It would if he just sold out and received sponsorship from the Portland Timbers. Get it…Timbers? Ax? Beard? Some craft beer on his breath? … too far? OK.

• So to perpetuate this Main Event thing, A-Ry and sidekick are putting Kofi in the thick of the title hunt. You know … since that went so well last time.

BTW, that was 5 years ago. Kofi’s last sniff of the main event was with Randy Orton and The Legacy a few months to a year later, before he forgot how to stay down and take a finisher.

• Clearly, WWE is using canned crowd reaction. Because NOBODY should care that much about a running, leaping elbow. The only elbow that should get a huge pop is this (OHHHHHH YEAHHHHH! Dig it!):

randy-savage-flying-elbow-o

• Moving right along … I’m oddly hoping Kofi pulls the midweek trifecta and shows up on Superstars. (He does, but as one of three highlight replays from RAW).

• OK, cool counter from Axel. Kofi goes for the slip-the-corner-attack/kick-over-the-ropes thing, and Axel stops him and drops the elbow.

• Good thing Axel is one of A-Ry’s favorites. Is that exactly a ringing endorsement? Also, Riley’s going into distributive property mode: What if Axel beats the guy who beat the world champ? Uh-huh … right …

• My wife, unsolicited: “Curtis Axel is stupid!” Well, there you have it.

• Axel: “Look at Kofi Kingston! He’s nothing!” Comeback in 3 … 2 …

• OK, that dropkick was an actual impact move. Kofi wastes his movements SO much. We have to belief the airtime actually helps make the move devastating. He needs to sit down and watch an A.J. Styles match. Especially since shortly thereafter, he breaks out a flying crossbody in which he landed light as a feather onto Axel. More stiff as a board there, kid.

• Hold up, hold up, hold up. Kofi hits his finisher into the post, but is able to (1) roll up Axel for the win about 15 seconds later, and (2) react to throw him over the top rope? Cool story, guys. Guess Kofi’s sneak-winning his way to the strap. I’ll wait about 5 years for that.

• Oh my God, that’s Ryback‘s music!!! And he’s gone after taking a lap. That’s kind of awesome. (The first time it actually was. He did it three more times. If he actually mattered, he at least would’ve pulled this shit on SmackDown.)

“Sin Cara” vs. Damien Sandow

• ¡Hola, Hunico! Is Mistico ever coming back in all his botched glory? Are you as mad as I am he’ll never touch this level in WWE?

• (During the New Age Outlaws vs. Rhodes Brothers plug): The Outlaws are old. Also, when your main event is three-fourths made up of mid-carders from the Attitude Era and before, it looks very mid-to-late ’90s WCW. But hey, Legends!!! NOSTALGIA!!!!!1!

• Stoner lighting for this match. Also, I want Sandow’s “I > U” T-shirt. Also also, I want this lighting in my bedroom. For, you know, naps and stuff.

• Now Sandow’s apparently in the world title hunt. Who isn’t on this show?

• I want Camacho to roll out on the low-rider bike in a glittery mask and shit. THAT would make the Hunico-Camacho thing work.

• I like Sandow’s “You’re Welcome” finisher. Kind of a Full Nelson into Rock Bottom thing. Thank you indeed.

• 3MB! 3MB! 3MB! Brad Maddox said their handicap match against PTP tonight is so the people in the back can have a break from them. Too bad we can’t get a break from Maddox.

• And now my intro to Bad News Barrett. The whole yelling thing doesn’t work. He sounds like an angry old Brit instead of the authoritative Wade Barrett from The Nexus. (Remember them?) But hey, nice cheap heat by comparting the crowd to barnyard animals. Twice.

3MB vs. PTP

• 3MB is such a terrible gimmick. Heath Slater makes sense. But Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal? Give these men something to do! But hey, at least they and PTP actually were in the intro.

• What the hell happened to McIntyre? This guy has talent! And, as I jot that down, he jobs out when Darren Young gets the roll-up while he’s complaining to the ref. There was zero point to this match.

3MB vs. Los Matadores (con El Torito)

• And there’s no point to this Maddox-inspired-on-the-fly contest, either. If El Torito magically morphs into Carlito to complete the Colon family trio, I might be intrigued. Or if El Matador joined Los Matadores. I miss Tito Santana. (Obligatory “¡Arriba!” reference)

• The bull has the biggest pop of the night. Well, since Kofi’s elbow thing. Something’s wrong here. Also, it’s clear WWE gives exactly zero shits about the low and midcard. I’m done here.