Tag Archives: Big E.

WWE Main Event review (Sept. 16): Ziggler vs. Miz (w/stunt doubles), Big E. vs. Rollins

There’s no RAW review this week, and there probably won’t be for a while. You put together a crappy show, the fans will refuse to watch. The ratings, apparently, already prove this. I might even skip Night of Champions in protest. Hell, I skipped Battleground and survived.

There also won’t be a Midcard Report, The Champ’s most “over” offering, this week. Why? To cleanse the palate.

I didn’t watch RAW for the reasons above, but plenty of people did. As a result, WWE needs something to help these unfortunate fans try to forget. With Main Event almost always being at least halfway decent, we’re running an ME review early, with Superstars later in the week.

•••

Of course, with Main Event, we start with wrestling. And we start with the Intercontinental Champion! We also start with … multiple jobber identity crises.

Main Event 091614 Dolph Ziggler R-Truth R-Ziggler
All photos are screenshots from WWE Network programming unless otherwise noted.

Yes, a choreographed, staged athletic simulation has not one, but now two, stunt doubles. On the bright side, we have Damien Sandow Mizdow in a rivalry involving the Intercontinental title. However, not sure I can handle guys like Sandow and R-Truth, who can both do some decent work in the ring, being gimmicky copycats because they apparently can’t get over on their own.

Main Event 091614 The Miz Damien Mizdow Sandow 2 Main Event 091614 The Miz Damien Mizdow Sandow 3

If this match works, it’ll be in spite of, not because of, this whole “stunt double” bit.

Intercontinental Champion DOLPH ZIGGLER & “R-ZIGGLER” vs. THE MIZ & “DAMIEN MIZDOW”

At 3:15, I’m finally able to get the “stunt double” rant out of the system and try to “CALL THE DAMN MATCH!” Sandow hits a lariat on Dolph and tags to Miz. Miz commits gimmick infringement on Ziggler (you know, more than there already is in this match), but Dolph regroups, goes for the superkick, knowing Miz will duck, and rolls him up. Miz kicks out and tags, and the stunt double eats the dropkick. Sandow much better at this wrestling thing than his boss, and he gets the advantage heading into the break.

COMMERCIAL BREAK, tries to take this match seriously

We’re back at 5:35, and Miz locks in the vicioius Cleveland Nose Hook while riding Ziggler. Unfortunately, the CNH is illegal, so he resorts to a headlock. Dolph side suplexes out, and the stunt doubles tag in. Truth with the Stinger Splash, then a series of punches in the corner. Miz creates a distraction on the apron, and Sandow gets aggressive. Miz wails on Ziggler from the floor, and eventually tags in. Knee to the dome and a cover.  Front facelock at 8 minutes as Michael Cole reels off some of the IC lineage. I’m sure this is a high point right now. Miz releases the hold to have a go at Ziggler, which simply allows Truth to hit a back bodydrop. Tag to Sandow, and he’s back on the offensive. Chinlock time, and Truth strikes his way out. Reaches for the tag, but a drop toehold, a drag and a tag to Miz.

Meanwhile, Ziggler can’t wait to get a shot at Miz, and apparently Truth decides he’ll get some shots in. Running corner lariat, though, from Miz, then a weak axe-handle sort of thing from the top. Front facelock again, then the tag to Sandow. Vertical suplex and cover at the 11-minute mark. Series of knees to the head and chest, powerful whip into the corner, and he looks like he’s going for a slowed-down version of that running lariat, but Truth cuts him off in the middle. Hot tag to Ziggler at 12:15.

Splash/neckbreaker combo caps the initial surge. Fame Asser blocked, and Miz hits half the Reality Check. Backslide , cover and reset, and Ziggler’s second attempt is successful for a 2 count. After some angry deliberation, a front facelock from Ziggler. Skull-Crushing Finale is blocked. Figure Four blocked into a cradle, and Ziggler goes for the DDT. Miz blocks, but Truth gets the blind tag. Miz tosses Ziggler out, and Truth hits the DDT, but Sandow breaks up the cover. Damien knees Dolph off the apron. Truth appears to botch the Zig Zag on Sandow, and Miz, the legal man, hits the Finale to triumph.

Main Event 091614 The Miz

Time: 14:03

Technical Merit: Ziggler and Sandow are great wrestlers, so that part was good. Miz does enough to get by. Truth didn’t really appear to know what he was doing at the end, and he was the recipient of a lot of rest holds. He also looked pretty blown out well before the end. It won’t sound that way in the next paragraph, but this was a good match.

Artistic Impression: I like that the Intercontinental Championship has a story line. I don’t like the “double stunt double” bit. It kind of made sense for Sandow, who was imitating people anyway, and it’s funny because he’s better than Miz. But why the hell does Dolph Ziggler, the best salesman/stuntman in the company, need a stunt double? Just let R-Truth come out as himself and an insurance policy.

TOTAL SCORE: **

•••

Renee Young asks Seth Rollins whether losing to Roman Reigns on RAW is a “setback”. Rollins raises the briefcase and, namedropping Dean Ambrose‘s disappearance, etc., scoffs at this idea.

Main Event 091614 Seth Rollins

He’ll use brain over brawn to beat Big E., then his brain will tell his foot to curbstomp Reigns’s dome into any surface that suits his purpose Sunday.

Main Event 091614 Seth Rollins 2

His purpose appears to either involve not enough hygiene or too much. He’s on the Bo Dallas Hair Hydration System, and he’s a few weeks away from the Edge Is Back Beard. Seriously, that man had facial hair blessed by the Canadian gods themselves when he had time to grow it.

Unfortunately, we have to wait for that match, because it’s Brie Mode now. Yay. Consider the clear stolen gimmick from Marshawn Lynch‘s Beast Mode to Brie Mode, this is yet another reason to hate the Seattle Seahawks. You know, besides the ones their fans give you already. 

Main Event 091614 Brie Bella

This makes me unhappy. This also means promo time with Nikki Bella. And the term “voluptuous derriere.”

Main Event 091614 Nikki Bella Renee Young

Besides that actually awesome line, can this get worse?

Oh yes. Yes. It. Can.

Main Event 091614 Cameron

BRIE BELLA vs. CAMERON

Brie works the arm at :45, showing some semblance of wrestling. A clumsy-ass drop turns into a half-crab, which is escaped pretty easily. Cameron uses the rope as an impact weapon … Brie sells it … and Cameron covers. Properly, this time.

Weak headlock, cover, painful-looking suplex, then the legdrop cover. Again, properly this time as Cameron informs us, “Yeah, I know!”

Main Event 091614 Brie Bella Cameron

Girl, you didn’t know a day before, and it’s your damn job!

cagesideseats.com
cagesideseats.com

Yeah, I’ll count that. I’ll count it as another reason to mock your stupid ass until you mericfully get future endeavored.

Brie with a semi-decent lariat and some short dropkicks at about 3:00. Then that stupid “BRIE MODE!!!” leads into a missile dropkick. Cameron appears to set up “Girl, Bye,” but Brie hits the X-Factor for the win. Considering Brie gets X-Pac heat in this house, that’s SO fitting.

Time: 3:53

Like one of the Divas matches last week, luckily the 5-minute rule applies here, because this was bad. They appear to try — well, Brie does, anyway — but it’s just not there. Cameron’s gotta go; her only benefit is pulling off the “racy schoolgirl” look … which basically EVERY WOMAN WITH A PLAID SKIRT can pull off.

Main Event 091614 Cameron 2

Brie does absolutely nothing for me from an in- or out-of-ring standpoint. At least she didn’t talk this time.

•••

JBL declared the main event would be a good one. We’ll see whether Big E. delivers; he certainly has the ability.

Main Event 091614 Big E

Rollins simply doesn’t have bad matches if he can actually do anything about it.

Main Event 091614 Seth Rollins 3

On another note, THERE’S A FREAKING STING DVD SET COMING OUT NEXT WEEK. Finally.

BIG E. vs. SETH ROLLINS

Canned “You Sold Out!” chants about a half-second after the bell. Nobody actually cares about that anymore … you know, except the marks still hung up on The Shield. Big E. doesn’t care about that; he cares about winning the match, and Rollins isn’t pleased with the early proceedings.

Main Event 091614 Seth Rollins 4

Rollins goes to the classic heel tactic of ducking through the ropes to get a break, then cheap-shotting his way to an advantage. That worked until Big E.’s shoulder and his right fist turn the tide. Shoulder charge to the midsection in the corner. Make that two. Vicious right into the corner, then Rollins hits three right elbows and goes for the suplex. Blocked twice, then Seth goes for the crossbody. Not so much. Big E. catches and hits a chain of three backbreakers before the cover. Rollins audibly calling spots … that one must’ve involved being knocked outside. Big E. bounces Seth’s head off the table, tosses him into a barricade, then presses him back in.

Seth’s springboard attempt blocked, but he does hit a face-first dive outside just before the break.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Back at 7:00, and Rollins continues his control, this time in the ring. Chop block to the back of the knee, then he slaps on the headlock. Big E. powers out, but misses the lariat and eats a kick. After a cover, Seth locks in the vicious Double Ear Lock, then pulls Langston into the ropes. Kick, kneedrop, back to the headlock. Big E. powers out and knocks Rollins back-first into the corner twice, but Rollins reverses on the third attempt and charges in. After a reminder that brains beat brawn, brawn hits a uranage. Then a lariat of sorts. Then another. Then the belly-to-belly. Rollins hits a couple more kicks. But another belly-to-belly, and the Warrior splash for 2.

Both men down around 11:30. Rollins elbows Big E., dances around a bit, kicks Big E. from the apron, then TAKES THE SPEAR ONTO THE FLOOR. Big E. rolls Rollins back in, knocks him down, and ditches the straps. Big Ending? Nope, Rollins slips onto the apron. Kick, re-entry, duck the shoulder charge, then post Langston in the other corner. That sets up the Curbstomp. Done.

Main Event 091614 Seth Rollins 5

Time: 14:08

Technical Merit: This one was raved about on Twitter, and it was … OK. The style contrast helped, but it seemed a bit slow and repetitive at times. Then again, when did we last see Big E. go 14 minutes on TV? I know it’s been a while for me. Cool spot with the spear to the floor, but otherwise pretty average.

Artistic Impression: Even as Big E. built steam, there was never the feeling he would win the match, mainly because WWE is having Rollins go over on basically the entire midcard at this point. Cool to see, though, that Rollins can go in and work well with almost anyone, which will bode well when he carries a belt, instead of a briefcase, in the future.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

•••

OK, so that wasn’t all that great either. But fear not, wrestling fans: This week’s episode of Ring of Honor (which will be reviewed Thursday) is apparently everything we’ve ever dreamed of, and there’s always WWE’s top show on Thursday. I’ll give you a hint: This guy is the top heel on the top show.

NXT Takeover2 Tyson Kidd 2You know, unless they’re slow-turning their champion. But hey, don’t you actually want to know what happens on NXT?

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WWE Midcard Report (July 29-31): Ambrose Live is interrupted again, Xavier Woods and Associates stop by, and Slatergator wins. Twice.

The Champ hasn’t been here for six weeks. The blog had its best day ever yesterday. Maybe staying away truly was best for business?

Anyway, I’ve been gone due to my tendency toward video game addiction, a relaxing one-week vacation and a general disenchantment with RAW and pay-per-view events as a whole. If Sunday and Monday suck, it’s hard to gather the strength to watch Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Anyway, since I owe you one, and since an old RAW was on as I prepared the battle station, here’s a random jobber drop-in from 1995.

All photos are screenshots from the WWE Network unless otherwise noted.
All photos are screenshots from the WWE Network unless otherwise noted.

It’s a shame about that kid. Coulda been a contendah.

Now on to the most must-see element in Real World Champ history: The Midcard Report!

•••

Main Event 072914 Dean Ambrose

I’ll be real on two points: I don’t get the Dean Ambrose love, and I don’t enjoy the Ambrose/Seth Rollins rivalry. I haven’t seen anything about this match in three days, but I’m laying about $500 on “Rollins run-in/DQ” for Ambrose’s match.

With Ambrose, maybe it’s the bad boy thing? Maybe it’s the crazy bit? Maybe it’s the widespread wearability of his in-ring attire? Maybe it’s the fact that he promos on The Authority every time out? Maybe it’s his abuse of every single microphone he sees? I just don’t … get it. I see a dirty, off-kilter dude with painfully generic music, a painfully unimaginative look and a painfully kamikaze offense. Others see “the most over guy in the business” and “a future world champion”. People compare him to Brian Pillman; I see Pillman without wrestling ability. People obsess over him on Twitter … but are pretty quiet for his matches. He certainly has a cult following, with fans almost refusing to call him by his current name, instead referring to his independent Jon Moxley persona, or “Mox” if you’re a “real fan”. Only one man gets the “Mox” treatment from me and, well, he don’t want … your life.

Jonathan Moxon

Maybe I’m out of touch? Maybe I just see him as a better fit for a hardcore bit than actual wrestling? Maybe we should just agree to disagree? Yeah, let’s go with that. Full points for the grey leather jacket, though.

One thing Ambrose managed was to make this man interesting:

Main Event 072914 Alberto Del Rio

Alberto Del Rio is best classified as “boring” by many professional wrestling fans. His character is stale, his opponents are stale and, as a result, many people tune out the second he’s on the screen. He’s a victim of the Sheamus effect: Boring as hell when he’s facing the same old foe (in ADR’s case, that’s usually Sheamus himself), but can be entertaining with a fresh opponent just because it’s something new.

DEAN AMBROSE vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO

The expected brawling offense from Ambrose, and it only took him about 1:40 to toss Del Rio outside. First actual wrestling move at about the 3-minute mark, using a toehold variation and wrapping ADR’s arms around his neck. Del Rio shows his vicious side shortly thereafter, dodging a charge to introduce Ambrose’s injured shoulder, which he kicked to start the show, into the post; dropkicking Ambrose’s head into said post from the outside; and applying his Wrestling 101 mechanics to said shoulder. ADR’s trademark enziguiri takes Ambrose off the apron to the floor, and it’s break time.

We get a wrestling hold after the Sting WWE 2K15 plug: An ADR headlock. Back to strikes for each man after Ambrose breaks free, and back to the post for Ambrose’s left shoulder. The crowd finally makes noise with the go-to “LET’S GO (BABY-FACE!” chant, but that dissipates for a bit when ADR hits a superplex with a nice subtlety: Del Rio twists his body to brace for the impact and take away the effect that move has on the wrestler executing it. Ambrose gets the babyface brawler comeback going, completely no-selling the shoulder in the process. He did show some intelligence, suicide diving with the right shoulder to dump Del Rio into the front row. Fan to ADR: “SHOW ME YOUR TICKET!” Back in the ring, someone FINALLY counters that Ambrose spot where he falls back between the ropes and slingshot clotheslines out. Ambrose responds in kind, countering another enziguiri and hitting a tornado DDT for 2. Eleven minutes in, Ambrose finally sells the effects of the shoulder, and ADR hits the short superkick, also for 2. He calls for the armbreaker, but Ambrose hits the slingshot clothesline this time.

Almost on cue … Rollins comes down the ramp. Ambrose engages him … and gets the DQ win. Pay up, fools!

Main Event 072914 Seth Rollins

Time: 12:34

Technical Merit: Del Rio showed the usual bag of tricks well. Ambrose hid his seeming lack of tricks well.

Artistic Impression: It’s hard to take the match seriously when Ambrose arbitrarily sells and no-sells a taped-up injury, and when you know the Rollins run-in is coming. At that point, you’re wasting two segments just to get to the good stuff, which to me isn’t good when it’s nearly EVERY SINGLE TIME Rollins or Ambrose is in a ring. They could go away until their SummerSlam match, and I’d be fine with it.

TOTAL SCORE: **

I flipped the switch from Main Event to Superstars, and Del Rio is pulling double duty with a chance to … keep his Superstars win streak alive? This man was a four-time world champion! He should have another good showing here, since it’s another fresh foe.

ALBERTO DEL RIO vs. JUSTIN GABRIEL

Gabriel’s ring attire/hair combination tell me he’s going for the South African Motocross Champion gimmick. Somewhere, Grant Langston is claiming gimmick infringement, seeing as he actually is a South African motocross champion. I see you, No. 8!

Supercross.com
Supercross.com

Anyway, as Renee Young (unlike the talent, Byron Saxton can’t work a double) names a bunch of extreme sports Gabriel is doing in his spare time — I think she’s making them up — Del Rio maintains control until Gabriel puts his educated feet to use, throwing some chops in for good measure. He gets a little botchy, swinging and missing, but ADR sells it anyway and stays down for 2. Del Rio’s tilt-a-whirl backbreaker isn’t botchy, and neither is his superplex variation with Gabriel’s body turned around from the typical vertical suplex to land face/chest first. Somewhere along the way, on a Gabriel elbow upon further review, his eyebrow is busted open, explaining the cut we saw on Main Event.

Anyway, cross armbreaker and out.

TIME: 4:35

Technical Merit: Gabriel’s errant kick aside, a decent match.

Artistic Impression: The finish seemed abrupt, even with the vicious superplex setting up the finisher. Could’ve gone 8 minutes and I would’ve been fine with it.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/2

•••

You see Rybaxel and The Usos? That’s one thing. You see these men, as we did on Main Event? It’s something completely different:

Main Event 072914 Kofi Kingston Big E Xavier Woods

Xavier Woods was brought in to sing and dance; he almost has a Ph.D. Kofi Kingston almost won Money in the Bank and was booed. Big E. saw the writing on the wall and didn’t want to go down the same path to irrelevance. (He arguably was already there.) They’re done asking for chances; they’re taking now. Kofi’s yet to earn a world title shot; Woods declares it’s time to get that. It’s not time to see the finished product; Woods will declare when that is.

Let’s drop Woods’ kayfabe promo for a moment: This is exactly what these three men need, but this measure shouldn’t have been necessary.

The timing is impeccable — or reactionary. The Atlantic publishes a fantastic piece on race in wrestling and points out the lack of a black WWE Champion, factoring in the premier belt only and The Rock identifying far more often as Samoan than black. Grantland’s Cheap Heat podcast holds a great discussion featuring Dion Beary, the writer of the Atlantic piece, as well as MVP and Gail Kim, on the subject. About a week and a half after Beary’s story drops, and about four days after Cheap Heat discusses how easy it would be to craft a gimmick based on Woods’ intelligence … Woods stops being funky, suits up and speaks like a man with multiple degrees — calm, clear and focused. Kofi stops Jamaican us crazy (even though he’s African and has been in storyline for years) and acts like a man with a decent amateur wrestling background who graduated from Boston College, and Big E. stops acting like a preacher and more like a 280-pound powerlifted-turned-wrestler — both strong, serious, calculated, successful.

I’m extremely interested in how this turns out, because it’s being unofficially billed as The Nation of Domination 2.0, simply because it’s three black guys trying to beat the system. From another angle, it’s three guys who were jobbing out with no direction who suddenly have a compelling one. Depending on which direction it takes, WWE can give a group of midcard guys a bit of a push, or it has a bigger opportunity to tackle a clear issue in the sport head-on within the constructs of its storytelling … here’s hoping they don’t screw it up.

Anyway, they’re here to scout the tag team champions again, because this was simulated athletic competition a great while ago.

WWE Tag Team Champions THE USOS vs. RYBAXEL

Honestly, I’m paying more attention to Woods than this match, though it’s odd to see champions wrestling in T-shirts. These aren’t the Middle Age Outlaws we’re talking about, are they? Curtis Axel tries to remedy that situation on Jey Uso about 3 1/2 minutes in. Ryback finally ropes me in at 5:15 with an attempt at the flying elbow drop. Woods said it’s not smart; he’s right, because the Big Guy swings and misses. That leads to the hot tag to Jimmy Uso, who hits a nice sitout full nelson bomb. Ryback’s distraction allows Axel to hit the Perfectplex, but that’s broken up. Typical Uso match chaos, tag to Jey, splash, we’ve seen this before.

Time: 6:58

Technical Merit: What they did was solid.

Artistic Impression: What they did was the same ol’ Uso match.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/4

•••

Main Event 072914 Heath Slater Titus O'Neil

I LOVE Slatergator. I know I’m going to smile when Heath Slater is on the screen, and his odd-couple bit with Titus O’Neil is comedic gold sprinkled in with some pro wrestling talent with room to grow.

I’m not so sure about Zack Ryder‘s “Bro-Tee”.

Main Event 072914 Zack Ryder

But hey, credit to him to shed parts of the Broski gimmick and evolve.

SLATERGATOR vs. ZACK RYDER & TYSON KIDD

Basic lowcard tag fare until Kidd shows some stuff upon his entrance: Creative rollup coming in, a nice spot where he stops himself between the ropes and pulls Slater out and a flip off the apron. A quick reminder that, yes, this guy can do things in and around the ring. Ryder hits a missile dropkick after being tagged back, but takes some abuse from O’Neil before getting the hot tag to Kidd. Tyson handles business on both Slatergator members, allowing Ryder to hit the Broski Boot along the way, but only gets 2 on Slater. O’Neil’s attempt to pull Kidd off the ropes is thwarted by Ryder, but it did distract enough for Slater to recover, climb the ropes, powerslam Kidd from there and get the win for SLATERGATOR!!!

TIME: 4:54

Technical Merit: Elementary, besides Kidd’s presence

Artistic Impression: Liked the “odd couples” bit and thought Kidd and Ryder worked well together. Also entertained by the odder couple winning.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/8

You know what’s better than one Slatergator match in a week? TWO SLATERGATOR MATCHES!!! At least the C and D shows give the people what they want. We even get promo time in the back, which only serves to further showcase the hilarity.

Also working a double: Zack Ryder. (Woo woo woo, you know it.) That means, out of five matches, four men are featured twice. This has to be a #WWEBudgetCuts thing, right?

SLATERGATOR vs. ZACK RYDER vs. SIN CARA

Ryder was part of the “Dungeon Broskis” with Kidd. He’s part of “Bro-Cara” with Hunicara two nights later. Or really one night earlier, but who’s looking at the calendar? Renee drops a Sweet Valley High reference and compares Heath Slater to Justin Timberlake post-N Sync…which is odd, since Ryder is the boy band aficionado. Ryder works better with his partner du jour once again, sliding through the ropes for a dropkick while the masked one flies over to take out both foes.

After a union-mandated break, Ryder breaks free from Titus’ grip and gets the hot tag. I keep waiting for the Sin Cara botch, but this version actually works … until Slater lays him out and tags to the muscle. Finally a bit of synergy from the odd couple, which means a loss in their future for sure. Sin Cara provides the necessary momentum shift with a kick in the corner, and the Iced Z hot tag awaits. Missile dropkick, elbow and a Broski Boot for O’Neil, and Slater breaks up the cover. Typical tag chaos leads to the Ruff Ryder on Slater, the illegal man, right into Clash of the Titus. SLATERGATOR IS ON A WINNING STREAK BAY-BAY!!!

Actually accurate commentary botch: Tom Phillips calls it Slatergator’s first win, when technically it was. It was just the second one on TV. Those pesky taped shows!

Time: 6:41

Technical Merit: Basic, but smooth.

Artistic Impression: Slatergator finding ways to win is fun. Talent apparently beats quick chemistry any day.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/2

•••

It won’t be six weeks before another post. Promise. I’ll get to SmackDown this weekend, and I might try to sprinkle in some ROH. NXT won’t happen until I’m caught up, which at this rate will be December.

The floor’s open. Feel free to continue the discussion, especially about Ambrose and the Woods/Kingston/Langston alliance, on here or drop a line on Twitter @jpetrie18.

WWE Superstars review (June 5): Paige shuts Cameron up. Quickly. And Big E. beats Titus O’Neil. Again.

All photos are screenshots from the WWE Network.
All photos are screenshots from the WWE Network.

Superstars?

… SUPERSTARS?!?!?!

Yes, this is happening. When the less-talented member of The Funkadactyls demands a spot at the table for the WWE Divas Championship, we at least see what happens. And then we instantly lament it because it’s not even close to being worthwhile. But, I guess it helps to have your champion at least try to face everyone to see who works well with her, and vice versa.

Hopefully, there’s no rematch of this one.

WWE Divas Champion PAIGE vs. CAMERON

Cameron has apparently “busted her butt for a year,” so she demands a match with the champion. Meanwhile, as was pointed out on Twitter at least once (and likely many times), Paige has busted hers since age 13, which makes her a champion at 21. Nice head-scissors bit there from Came, but the champ goes right back to beating her down. Now Cameron decides to take a day and a half to get back in the ring, and do the heel beg bit upon her return. Really? Paige falling for it was worse. Bulldog variation for 2, then Cam goes up top? Naturally, the crossbody misses. Time for the modified scorpion crosslock … I mean the PTO (Please Tap Out).

Superstars 060514 Paige Cameron

Cameron obliges.

Time: 3:05

Technical Merit: Paige is only as good as her dance partner at this point with the main roster. Not like they can do much in 3 minutes, but she (and her opponents, frankly) seem a bit one-dimensional and formulaic in the quicker matches.

Artistic Impression: Unworthy challenger takes shot at champion. Champion makes her tap out quickly. Life goes on.

TOTAL SCORE: 3/4*

Superstars 060514 Paige Cameron 2

•••

What’s better than a Superstars match? A Superstars rematch, of course! After skipping ahead through 20 minutes of Payback and RAW recaps? Even better!

Superstars 060514 Big E

BIG E. vs. TITUS O’NEIL

Semi-serious note: Where’s Rusev will to beat the black guys down? Hey, don’t blame me … blame creative for keeping the not-so-subtle racial overtones of the 1980s alive. Meanwhile, Big E. wins a chop war by disqualification when Titus kicks him in the gut. The funny thing about those: Whoever “loses” usually wins control in the long run. If it’s O’Neil, he barks a bit as well. Big E. regains the advantage by catching Titus and hitting a chain of three backbreakers and covering for 2. After a shoulder block from Big E., Titus tosses Langston out, picks him up and throws him into the barricade. Twice. I suddenly feel like I’m watching the Ring of Honor main event from last week. … Especially when Big E. returns the favor against Titus after the break. A weardown hold follows, with Titus locking in an abdominal stretch, but Langston hip tosses out. Titus catches Big E. for a powerslam after that and hits a backbreaker over his shoulder. Neither cover is successful, so Titus slaps him around a bit in the corner, then breaks out a bit of Mojo Rawley‘s offense. OK, that’s a lie … he didn’t use his butt. Big E. powers out of Titus’ next move, catches Titus over the top rope, goes clothesline-clothesline-belly-to-belly, then hits the Ultimate Warrior splash. From there, it’s tim efor the Big Ending? Nope, O’Neil’s size 17. Twice. Titus goes for a corner charge, but Big E. follows him in with a spear. NOW it’s Big Ending time.

Time: 8:27

Technical Merit: The typical, basic big-man match you’d expect here. I think this is the longest I’ve ever seen Titus in the ring at once, and it looks like he doesn’t yet have the repertoire to go any longer. Only one rest hold, though, so that’s better stamina than many bigs have.

Artistic Impression: It wasn’t a riveting match by any means, but it wasn’t terrible. Big E. won last week as well, so Titus is supposed to look good in defeat here.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/2

Superstars 060514 Big E 2

WWE NXT review (May 22): Bo Dallas bo-leaves NXT on a high note, Adrian Neville in action, Paige returns, and flawed Divas logic?

All photos, of course, are from the WWE Network.
All photos, of course, are from the WWE Network.

I hated Bo Dallas when I started watching NXT.

People were chanting “NO MORE BO!” on a weekly basis, giving him the kind of “go away” heat reserved for a great heel the fans actively want to see fail. I wrote “No More Bo!” a couple months ago, and “The good, the bad … and the Bo Dallas” before that, giving him the kind of “go away” heat reserved for someone I actively wanted to see go away.

Bo Dallas gave the best goody-two-shoes heel performance I’ve seen in years Thursday night.

NXT 052214 Bo Dallas 2

In a stipulation match everyone knew he would lose (his main-roster return is on SmackDown tonight), the match hinged on how he would lose and how he would react. He hung with someone 60 pounds heavier in a power-style matchup, and he surpassed the expected response upon defeat. He yelled. He threw a tantrum. He kicked the steel steps and hurt himself. He even went negative in his final promo!

The NXT fans responded as expected, giving the customary “Na na na na …” goodbye chant and demanding he leave the premises … and thanking him on the way out.

It’s hard to remember Bo is only 23 (at least until Sunday) and has the Rotunda AND Windham bloodlines, and his brother is only the hottest new heel in wrestling at 27. You know, this guy:

RAW 051914 Bray Wyatt

Also, happy birthday, Bray Wyatt! Sorry I didn’t get you a gift … I figured since you have the whole world in your hands you’re set on presents.

BO DALLAS vs. BIG E., “Win or Go Home” match

On another note, Big E. — considered a bland Intercontinental Champion during his recent reign — is OVER in NXT. Leave, come back, instantly get “FIVE!” chants!

NXT 052214 Big E

In addition, Bo ducks out after four strikes … twice … and gets booed because Big E. couldn’t get to five. Dallas gets pummeled early, then gains the upper hand outside by diving for the knee at 2:15. Rest hold at 4 minutes heading into the break … and maybe get some heat. We return with Langston in control in the corner, but Bo hits a high-impact flying forearm and goes back on the attack while being taunted with his brother’s sing-along chant. Sometimes it’s hard to believe Bo is 230 pounds. When going against cruiserweight types like Adrian Neville, he doesn’t look that big. On the other hand, the man packs some POWER. He clotheslined the hell out of

Big E. gets back on track with a couple clotheslines, the belly-to-belly and a knockdown, then goes for the Big Ending but counters with an inverted DDT for 2. Nice belly-to-belly throw for 2 more. Splash blocked with Bo’s knees, then the double underhook DDT … for 2? Well, if that doesn’t work, time for some classic heel tactics! The problem is, when you take off the turnbuckle pad, you WILL be the one to feel it. Big Ending follows, and a 3 count (not a 5?) sends Bo home.

NXT 052214 Bo Dallas 3

“I CAN’T GO! I CAN’T GO! THIS IS MY HOME! NO! I CAN’T! DON’T LEAVE ME!”

Time: 8:47

Technical Merit: A little slow at times, but solid.

Artistic Impression: Great story with Bo having to resort to being bad to try to stay.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/2

I want each and every one of you to know, that spent their money to come see me here tonight, I want you all to know that I strongly dislike every one of you. I don’t usually use language like this, but you all should know that you people stink. You should’ve just bolieved! Now leave. (Leave!) YOU leave! (YOU leave!) Leave! (YOU leave!) Why are you still here? I’m gonna be the bigger man. I’m gonna leave (cheers) because I’m a bigger and better man than all of you! *leaves* (Thank you Bo! Thank you Bo! Thank you Bo!)

THAT is an exit.

•••

Tyson Kidd is back in NXT to obtain his destiny: Become a champion. Meanwhile, Sami Zayn has another promo with Devin Taylor … which is interrupted by The Gorgeous One. If you think this is just an excuse to put up a Tyler Breeze pic, well … you know how we operate here.

NXT 052214 Tyler Breeze Sami Zayn Devin Taylor

Though I didn’t really get his good side … sorry!

These two will square off at Takeover, because Breeze was busy this week. New phone case, go to a ball, maybe hop a plane to Guatemala to select only the finest alpaca fur for his boots? I don’t know. But it will be a No. 1 Contender match for the NXT Championship, and we know Zayn is due for a big win. I’m not sure Breeze is ready to be a champion or the top foil yet (give it a few months), but we’ll know a lot more once he’s given the spotlight.

•••

NXT logic is morphing into something … TNA-ish.

This woman can’t be NXT Champion anymore because, as WWE Divas Champion and, hence, a world-traveling member of the main roster, she wouldn’t be able to show up and defend said title in Orlando when necessary.

NXT 052214 Paige 1

Then they have her show up … on NXT … IN ORLANDO … for a rematch of her Divas title match at Extreme Rules that wasn’t all that great to begin with.

WWE Divas Champion PAIGE vs. TAMINA SNUKA

This match is predicated on high impact from both women. Tamina emphasizes that impact part by kicking Paige on the apron and hitting a few scoop slams. Rest hold at 2 minutes, the bear hug, then clotheslines the champion when she breaks free. Tamina slaps on the Torture Rack — far more effectively than Lex Luger ever could — until Paige strikes her way out. Matt Morgan back elbow combo in the corner, chain of clotheslines and a kneelift, but Tamina sets her on the top rope and simply pushes her over, with the apron bumping her on the way down. Terrible Superfly Splash attempt (Paige was way too close) is blocked, then Paige wins with … a rollup? Alrighty then.

NXT 052214 Tamina Snuka

NXT 052214 Paige 2

Time: 5:57

Technical Merit: Power-based match with the rollup win works … when the winner isn’t a champion.

Artistic Impression: The story didn’t engage anyone. The weak finish didn’t help.

TOTAL SCORE: 3/4*

During that match, NXT mentions Charlotte facing this woman at Takeover for the NXT Women’s Championship.

NXT 052214 Natalya

Natalya is a former WWE Divas Champion and longtime world-traveling member of the main roster, which means she wouldn’t be able to show up and defend said title in Orlando when necessary. Unless … actually, I have a theory on that, which I’ll get to at the end. But that’s not even the most egregious part of this.

The NXT announcer mentions Charlotte vs. Natalya in the championship tournament final about halfway through the show. Ten minutes later, this is on my screen:

NXT 052214 Natalya Sasha Banks

Put 2 and 2 together, and he TELLS YOU WHO WINS BEFORE THE MATCH EVEN HAPPENS. That takes a WCW or TNA level of incompetence. As Grandma Petrie, a longtime NWA/WCW fan before logic went out the window, would say, “Oh, whoops!”

NATALYA vs. SASHA BANKS, NXT Women’s Championship Tournament semifinal

Charlotte’s torn — she wants her BFF to beat Nattie, but doesn’t want to have to expose her weaknesses and beat her next week. That’s quality heel work right there … her father taught her well.

NXT 052214 Charlotte

Anyway, this is a Wrestling 101 lesson with Professor Neidhart, including a step on Sasha’s back that plants her head into the mat, then a short dropkick on the way back around. Sasha gets control with a rapid-fire strike combo in the corner while Natalya’s tied up, then a double kneedrop transports her from the second rope to the ground. Sasha locks in a submission hold of her own, wrapping Nattie’s arms around her own neck, then hops on Nattie’s back, which opens up the escape via turnbuckle. Nattie hits a crisp double underhook suplex that rivals Camacho‘s earlier in the show (and later in the blog), but Sasha responds with the bulldog … and rolls out of the ring with an apparent hamstring injury. Charlotte implores her to get back in the ring, then rolls her back in and demands a cover.

NXT 052214 Charlotte Sasha Banks

Bad hammy, rolled in before she’s ready … you know what’s next.

NXT 052214 Natalya Sasha Banks Sharpshooter

Time: 4:07

Technical Merit: Sasha Banks was able to keep up. That’s a good sign.

Artistic Impression: This planted the seeds for a possible BFFs split and provided plenty of aggressive wrestling. I’m in.

•••

NXT 052214 Adam Rose

I’ll be happy when Adam Rose leaves NXT for good. Or WWE, for that matter. It’s a gimmick with style, but absolutely no substance. He says the same two or three things on repeat, and the matches he’s had on NXT aren’t even close to good. He’s done a great job of embracing the character (you almost can’t tell he was Leo Kruger), but the character flat-out sucks. Yeah, I’m a lemon. Deal with it.

ADAM ROSE vs. CAMACHO

Camacho beats down Rose to start, then that stupid spot where Rose ducks between the ropes and flails his legs about. Apparently it’s called the Rose Petal. I call it crap. Running Samoan drop from Camacho, a NICE double underhook suplex and a standing legdrop for 2. Camacho just takes it to Rose, which is realistic, under Rose starts no-selling turnbuckle shots. Lame comeback offense, solid spinebuster, then a corner charge, mule kick and Bronco Buster-esque charge. Camacho blocks the Party Foul, then dips out. After some deliberation, he decides he’s finished. Can’t decide whether I hate it or love the countout here.

NXT 052214 Camacho

Time: 3:53

Technical Merit: Camacho can work. Rose can’t.

Artistic Impression: The story made sense. I just can’t buy Rose as a wrestler.

TOTAL SCORE: *

•••

This man was a tag team champion a few years ago. Now, I couldn’t tell you the last time I’ve seen him wrestle.

NXT 052214 Curt Hawkins

He’s here to get squashed by this guy.

NXT 052214 Adrian Neville

NXT Champion ADRIAN NEVILLE vs. CURT HAWKINS

Hawkins is wearing tights with a blue-and-orange theme and a 31 on the side. So he’s a huge Mike Piazza fan? Anyway, he’s handling business at the 1-minute mark, starting with a clothesline to the back of the dome and a suplex. Rear chinlock as Hawkins gets the “he looks better than he ever has!” treatment. The champion gains momentum by blocking a corner charge with his boot, then a serious of kicks and forearms set up the Red Arrow. That was quick … too quick to score.

Time: 2:23

We have company …

NXT 052214 Tyson Kidd

from someone who has been on RAW. Fact! SmackDown. Fact! WrestleMania. Fact! He’s a former WWE Tag Team Champion, and he’ll have his next championship moment at NXT Takeover. Neville would say this is fiction. In fact, “At Takeover, the only member of your family going home with the gold, as per usual, will be your wife!”

NXT 052214 Adrian Neville Tyson Kidd

That was a strong, older-style back-and-forth that focused on wrestling more than getting the best one-liner on the other guy until the very end. This WILL be a great match at Takeover …

… that Tyson Kidd will win.

The Champ’s non-insider, oddball theory: Tyson Kidd and Natalya will win their championship matches at NXT Takeover, then be used for a while to develop newer talent on and off camera. They don’t really have that opportunity on the main roster — Kidd was Superstars fodder before his calldown to Florida, and even Nattie can’t help many of the “Divas” who are lost causes. If you’re learning how to wrestle, wouldn’t you want to learn from these two? It may not help their own careers, but it could be invaluable to dozens of others.

Or maybe they’re just here to put Neville and Charlotte over and cement their formidability as champions. But you totally want to watch Takeover to find out, right?

What did you think of NXT? Who’s walking out of Takeover with the titles? Who’s watching Takeover live next week? Comment below, or drop a line on Twitter @jpetrie18.

 

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 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 RAW review (April 14, Part IV): The Intercontinental Championship No. 1 Contender’s Tournament. Brilliant!

Champ’s note: This is the last of four recaps of RAW this week. Click here for Part I, and here for Part II, and here for Part III.

You know how to get my attention? You do this:

RAW 041414 ICgraphic

The Intercontinental Championship actually received a bit of buzz over the weekend due to a false finish and some photos of Jack Swagger holding the belt after “beating” Big E. With plenty of discussion lately on social media about the mid-card titles, this kicked things up a notch. I declared how Cesaro would be the perfect IC Champion.

Well he certainly will be if he gets through this tournament, a great way to showcase midcard talent and make this championship mean something again. Now if Langston just squashes the tournament winner and then holds it for another few months with few defenses, we’ll just forget this all happened.

On to the show!

 

ROB VAN DAM vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO, Intercontinental Championship No. 1 Contender Tournament, first round

RVD just came back, and this match feels stale. Oh, that’s why; they fought for the World Heavyweight Championship last fall. A TON of kicks, as expected, and Van Dam hits a spinning heel kick on Del Rio as the latter is coming off the top rope as we return from Hulu break. ADR regains control with an enziguiri while RVD is on the top. Rough buckle bump where ADR goes to the second rope, but RVD sweeps the legs and suddenly feels froggy.

RAW 041414 RVD

TIME: 5:10 Hulu time

TECHNICAL MERIT: Smooth and sound

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Bit of a back story, but nothing during the match. A lot of “educated feet.”

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

I don’t really like either of these guys, but there were no real complaints. Two bland guys put on an OK match.

 

CESARO vs. MARK HENRY, Intercontinental Championship No. 1 Contender Tournament, first round

No music, and another great Paul Heyman promo heeling on The Undertaker to precede him. Henry to Heyman: “Stay out of my business … Or I’m gonna make you my business!” Paul E. is listening. Henry proving he is, in fact, stronger than someone 175 pounds lighter than him early. On to “Plan 2” apparently. That plan is a bunch of uppercuts and body punches until Henry hits a lariat out of the corner. Henry goes for the World’s Strongest Slam, but Cesaro lands on his feet behind him and hits two uppercuts: One to the back of the head, and one off the second rope. Then it’s Neutralizer time … ? In fact, it is! That’s why you NEVER skip leg day, bro.

RAW 041414 Cesaro

TIME: 3:17

TECHNICAL MERIT: Uppercuts, uppercuts, uppercuts.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Would’ve liked it longer.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

There would’ve been no problem with this going 6-8 minutes instead of 3. Besides that, basic little guy beats big guy with a feat of strength.

 

JACK SWAGGER vs. SHEAMUS, Intercontinental Championship No. 1 Contender Tournament, first round

Does anyone else want this to lead to a Swagger-Cesaro final? Doesn’t look like that’s an option at the outset. Swagger gets an advantage, thanks to Zeb Colter‘s distraction on the apron, with a nice catch and slam at about 1:30. Jack uses a couple upper-body rest holds (with a belly-to-belly in between), which makes perfect sense because his finisher is an ankle lock. Wrestling 101, people. Swagger misses in the corner, and the big fella back on the attack at 4:15. Series of running attacks, then a kneedrop for 2. FINALLY he gets his 10 forearm shots in the corner … then goes up top? OK, a big shoulder block. Sheamus goes for a dive from the apron back in, but Swagger sidesteps and puts on the Patriot Lock. Sheamus rolls out, but Swagger shoulder charges Sheamus out. NOW he attacks the knee outside. You do that the first 5 minutes, Sheamus maybe taps. And you DEFINITELY don’t get Brogue Kicked the second you get back in.

RAW 041414 Sheamus

TIME: 6:55

TECHNICAL MERIT: Average. The lack of Wrestling 101 acumen at the end bothers me.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Meh. Kind of boring.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/4

 

Now let’s put up two fan favorites who could benefit greatly from a push. Who deserves it more? Depends on who you ask.

BAD NEWS BARRETT vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER, Intercontinental Championship No. 1 Contender Tournament, first round

Wade has bad news for Ziggler early. Some strikes, a kick or two, a vertical suplex and a kneedrop. He wants two, but misses. Hammerlock into a side headlock from Dolph. Barrett backs him into the corner, but provides far from a clean break. At 2:30, he chokes Ziggler on the ropes twice. Dolph ducks a couple swings, then snaps off a dropkick and clotheslines them both out of the ring. Barrett gets the advantage outside by posting Ziggler before the break.

*Commercial break*

We return to a superplex attempt, which is blocked twice. Ziggler ragdolls off, but leaps back up for a Super X-Factor. How many DX finishers can he rip off? Ziggler goes for the Zig Zag, but Barrett blocks, turns around and hits Winds of Change for 2. Barrett goes for the Bullhammer, but gets rolled up. He gets lifted about 8 feet into the air, then hit with the Bullhammer off the bounce. JBL: “You can count to 20!”

RAW 041414 Barrett

TIME: 5:46 Hulu time

TECHNICAL MERIT: Not bad. Not great.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Made both look pretty good

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

There’s one reason Ziggler’s a jobber: He can sell ANYTHING. Unfortunately, his ability helps others more than it helps himself.

 

So here’s the bracket:

RAW 041414 ICBracket2

 

Check back next time. Maybe we’ll even preview the next round!

What do you think of the first round of the tournament? Who wins? Does he beat Big E.? Comment below or drop a line on Twitter.