Tuesday 31 July 2012

Woman's Hour

WWE’s obsession with hiring models for its Divas division, as opposed to women with a passion for wrestling, is finally beginning to prove ill-considered. By loading up on women who were persuaded to join the group because it could offer them fame and fortune WWE gleefully failed to think about what would happen when that fame and fortune was achieved. The likes of Kelly Kelly and the Bellas have done their best to make it as wrestlers and are now “taking time away from WWE” to pursue other ventures.

“Taking time away” can be taken as a euphemism for “leaving until they’ve exhausted all other options.”  At that point the girls will put a call in to WWE safe in the knowledge that they can get their old jobs back.

This wouldn’t have been the case years ago. WWE has always had a spot on its roster for attractive women. It’s part of the nature of the modern wrestling business. But a decade ago these women would have been limited to roles at ringside. Only women who could actually wrestle would have been booked in proper matches.

Things have changed. During John Laurinaitis’s time as Head of Talent the company hired more and more models and less and less women with actual wrestling experience. Trish Stratus, Lita, Victoria (now Tara in TNA), and Mickie James all left the group for various reasons. It’s unfair to blame that solely on Johnny Ace. However, it was his job was to either entice these performers to stay or find replacements for them. He did neither and so must be considered at least partially to blame for the current state of WWE’s female league.

There’s still hope for the Divas yet. The recent rumours of WWE signing Sara Del Ray are promising, and will be a step in the right direction if it turns out to be true. ‘Death Ray’ is one of the most accomplished grapplers in the world with years of experience and solid matches on her resume.

That Kharma has been released may be disheartening for both her fans and people hopeful of a Divas resurgence but it’s important to remember that while she may be gone there is still every chance she will return to the company at some point. I’m of the opinion that this could be a similar situation to the one Daniel Bryan went through after the Nexus formation angle and that she will be rehired by the company whenever she is ready to return to the ring full time.

Kharma would be ideal for a WWE Divas show

The forthcoming WWE Network will provide an excellent opportunity to rebuild a worthwhile women’s division. A one hour weekly show is exactly what the Divas need. Create some interesting characters, put them into logical storylines that fans want to follow, book matches that last longer than two minutes and you’d have a Divas show with every chance of success.

I’m not condoning shuffling the Divas off into a corner to be forgotten about. The top names in the division could and should still appear routinely on RAW and SmackDown. Think of the Divas show as a chance to give some of the younger names a chance to get noticed (both by fans and officials), with the women appearing on the bigger shows helping to draw in an audience.

Sort of like NXT, but for female performers only.

Character-wise WWE is already in a deceptively strong position. It may have lost the Bellas and Kelly Kelly (for now) but they still have some well-rounded female roles on our screens. Eve Torres is a shining example. She may not make an ideal regular wrestler for a Divas show but she would be perfect as a heel authority figure. Her work earlier in the year as John Laurinaitis’s Executive Assistant proves that.

AJ would be a perfect candidate to construct the show around, at least during its early stages (read more on this here). She has been involved in a top programme that has seen her rub shoulders with the WWE champion (CM Punk), an accomplished, well-respected veteran (Kane), and arguably the most over man in the company (Daniel Bryan) over the last few months.

She is a star. On top of that she is passionate about being a wrestler. Her first show as RAW GM left me feeling that the WWE writing team are unsure how to best use her in the role. Maybe it could be made a short term arrangement with her resuming active competition in a few months.

AJ is currently the RAW GM but she'd be better used as a babyface wrestler

They may have had their pushes decreased lately but both Beth Phoenix and Natalya have had solid character work done in the past. Natalya could be pushed as a babyface looking to proudly continue the Hart legacy while ‘The Glamazon’ can simply be pushed as a strong, dominant ass-kicker. While I think the focus of the show should be restoring some honour to the Divas title after six months or so a tag team championship could be introduced. The Divas of Destruction would be an excellent choice for inaugural champs.

As mentioned above Kharma has finished with WWE for now. Assuming she does return it would take very little effort to establish her as an unstoppable monster. She could be fed (not literally) a jobber each week for a few months before gradually being pitted against bigger names, gradually moving her towards a proper programme for the Divas championship. Think Ryback with ovaries.

The development system is currently home to women who would benefit greatly from a programme such as this. Raquel Diaz (daughter of Eddie Guerrero) springs immediately to mind. Her Exfoliating Ugliness Tour is an interesting gimmick that warrants more screen-time. She is unlikely to get that on NXT but she would get it on a Divas-only show.

Meanwhile the likes of Tamina, Kaitlyn, Alicia Fox and Layla would all benefit from not playing second fiddle to their male counterparts. All have had rough personas sketched out for them, a new show could help flesh them out a bit. Perhaps if this show had been around a few months ago Layla wouldn’t have flopped as Divas champion.

To create a worthwhile show WWE would need to bring in some more talent. Del Ray would be a good start. She could have excellent outings against the Phoenixes, Natalyas and Kharmas of the roster. Both Angelina Love and Velvet Sky have just finished up with TNA and Sarita is rumoured to want to leave too. They would all fit in nicely on a WWE Divas broadcast. The Beautiful People could have an excellent tag team feud with Phoenix and Natalya.

The Beautiful People could help to establish a Divas tag division by feuding with the Divas of Destruction

WWE also has the option of asking Trish Stratus and Lita to be involved. Lita has commentary experience working alongside Jonathan Coachman on Sunday Night Heat. She wasn’t the best in the role but she would be an interesting choice for a female-only in-ring product. Trish could be tried in the role too. Both women are busy but a show such as this would likely follow the NXT format of being taped at a regular venue once a month. I’m sure they could fit that in.

I’m sure both women could be persuaded to make occasional appearances in matches. A bout involving either of them (Trish in particular) could attract a ratings spike if promoted in the right way.

There are plenty of women plying their trade on the independent scene. WWE could easily afford to bring in three or four of the best to flesh out the lower portions of the roster, with an eye to rewarding those who do well with a push once the show is firmly established. The promotion could even hold some women-only try-outs to scout for new talent. Their bank account affords them plenty of options.

A Divas show could create programming with a different sort of appeal for the WWE Network and help WWE create some new, bankable female stars for the future. It wouldn’t be quick or cheap, but it would be worth it. The company can afford it and will soon have an entire channel’s worth of time to dedicate to the venture.

Monday 30 July 2012

Bryan v Sheen

If last week’s RAW is anything to go by we may be seeing a match between Daniel Bryan and Charlie Sheen at SummerSlam. Yes, that’s the actor Charlie Sheen, famed for his roles in Two and a Half Men, Hot Shots! and... erm… Spin City. These days he’s probably most well-known for going off the rails last summer.

Involving celebrities at big events is nothing new for WWE. It’s been a key aspect of the company since the very first WrestleMania and is a large part of the reason Vince McMahon’s national expansion of the 1980s succeeded. It’s part of the package with WWE. For some people it’s part of the promotion’s appeal.

Charlie Sheen’s appearance on last week’s RAW 1000 was fairly low key. He appeared three times in total, talking to Michael Cole and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler about what he’d thought of particular segments of the show. In his second appearance Sheen made light of Daniel Bryan being stood up at the altar. This prompted the former ROH champion to blast the actor during a backstage interview. When Sheen appeared to talk to the commentary team for the third time it was clear that a SummerSlam showdown between the two was being teased.

I’d say there’s a good chance this will happen. Sheen’s not got much else going on in his career right now and WWE will always want to bring in celebrities. The logic is that Sheen’s fans who usually don’t purchase WWE events will have tuned in to RAW 1000 to see what whacky misadventures Sheen would enjoy and will do the same at SummerSlam. The hope will be that some of these people will find something to like about WWE programming and become fans.

The problem is that WWE have (as usual) left it too late to capitalise on Sheen’s popularity.

It was this time last year, when the guy was going off the rails and cutting bizarre, wrestling-esque promos about “winning” and gobbling hefty amounts of various narcotics, that his popularity was at its height. A combination of WWE management not having their finger on the pulse as they did in the 80s and the fact that outside stars will not willingly associate with the wrestling business until their popularity wanes means that WWE is once again late to the party.

This is the same expression Bryan pulled when Vince told him he was considering booking him against Charlie Sheen at SummerSlam

This isn’t to say that Sheen’s involvement in a match or angle at SummerSlam won’t garner media attention and increased viewing figures before the event. It will. It’s just that he would have been more effective had he appeared at last year’s show.

I think this match will happen. WWE wouldn’t have scripted the jibes Sheen and Bryan directed at one another if they hadn’t confirmed something with Sheen (or at least you hope they wouldn’t). The attitude towards SummerSlam this year seems to be to make it as big as possible, and that means bringing in a celebrity for a high profile appearance. That Bryan’s ex-girlfriend AJ has just been made the General Manager means there is a logical way for Bryan to be booked into a gimmick match such as this.

This could be Bryan’s toughest challenge since leaving the indies. No, I’m not being sarcastic! Bryan has travelled all over the world and produced excellent matches with everyone he’s faced. He’s the guy who has worked classic wrestling matches from everyone from Samoa Joe to Kamala (yeah, seriously, Kamala. Watch it here).

What he’s never done is wrestle a non-worker with no wrestling experience or known interest in the business. If anyone on WWE’s roster can pull it off though it’s Daniel Bryan.

Working in their favour are Sheen’s charisma and the fact that the pay-per-view is being held in his hometown, along with Bryan’s immense popularity and ability to turn crowds against him. He may be over, in large part thanks to his “Yes” catchphrase but I am convinced that if this match happens the former American Dragon will be able to ensure he hears more jeers than cheers.

Bryan v Sheen will by no means by a classic or the best match of the night at SummerSlam. But if handled correctly a match between the two could be a memorable spectacle for the show and potentially a way of attracting some new regular viewers to the product.

Saturday 28 July 2012

SmackTalk 27.07.12

It’s difficult to summarise this week’s episode of SmackDown. A large portion of the show was given over to recapping Monday Night RAW. In addition to covering the 1000th episode in its entirety before SmackDown began the entire Punk heel turn and Triple v Lesnar segments were shown in full. While that makes sense because they are going to be two of the promotion’s top storylines in the coming weeks and months it left less time for fresh developments to take place on the blue show.

That’s nothing new though. SmackDown is routinely used as a way of getting the audience up to speed on the important things they missed on RAW. If they didn’t miss it… well, too bad. They’ll have to watch it again.

What SmackDown did achieve this week was crowning a new number on contender for Sheamus’s World Heavyweight championship in a match that pitted Kane, Alberto Del Rio, Daniel Bryan and Rey Mysterio against one another. It was ‘The Essence of Excellence’ that left victorious. Yes, he will once again challenge for ‘Great White’s’ belt.

The Sheamus v Del Rio feud has been going, on and off, since early April. That they will clash at SummerSlam in August verges on ridiculous. Part of the reason the feud’s been so lengthy is because of injuries to Del Rio. That was beyond WWE’s control but they’re still the ones keeping the rivalry going. Each man would benefit from being giving something else to do for a month or two before resuming this feud.

The way the four-way ended makes me think Mysterio may be getting added to the SummerSlam title match. If that happens then at least there will be something to freshen up ADR’s latest title challenge. That said I’d rather see Mysterio face Daniel Bryan in a singles match. If they were given fifteen minutes I think the two could produce one of the best WWE matches of the year.

Elsewhere Chris Jericho continued his programme with Dolph Ziggler when he threw ‘The Show Off’ into the ring to take a Brogue Kick. He followed that up with a Codebreaker. There’s plenty of time before SummerSlam to make this feud into something very special. I hope WWE makes the most of that.

The only other noteworthy occurrence was The Miz battling Christian in a rematch from RAW. This was presumably done to tie up loose ends and free ‘The Awesome One’ up for a completely new feud. Zack Ryder would be a good choice there.

While RAW 1000 may have been a big success the fact that the following evening’s SmackDown was so bereft of direction is worrying. RAW will be three hours long every week from now on and if the company’s writing team are already struggling to make SmackDown a high quality show things look very worrying indeed.

I suspected this would happen, but I didn’t think it would affect SmackDown this quickly. Apparently I was wrong.

RAW 1000 Recap

Tweet 1: WWE Then. WWE Now. WWE Forever. Yes... I'm watching SmackDown.
Tweet 2: Starting with a RAW recap makes sense for once.
Tweet 3: What was Vince's logic when hiring AJ as GM?
Tweet 4: I think the Big Angle would have been different if WWE had had access to Randy Orton. He's due a turn and is the next natural opponent for Rock.

Miz promo

Tweet 5: Over four and half minutes in I finally get to see some fresh footage.
Tweet 6: Is Miz now the most must see Intercontinental champion in history?
Tweet 7: It's what we've all been waiting for: an IC title feud built around tweets and Facebook likes!
Tweet 8: Booker doesn't think Christian taking his rematch right now is a good idea. It can't be then. Booker's never wrong.

Miz v Christian for the Intercontinental championship

Tweet 9: Miz has starred in one film that has yet to be released. That, in Cole's world, makes him a "huge movie star."
Tweet 10: Josh, if Miz didn't know he'd be competing then why did he come out in his wrestling gear?
Tweet 11: Iffy frog splash from Christian.
Tweet 12: Another frog splash? No, an iffy cross body instead.
Tweet 13: This is a tight match. Lots of counters and reversals.
Tweet 14: The spear? C'mon Christian you know that never works for you.
Tweet 15: Thumb to the eye, rollup with a handful of tights and 'The Awesome One' retains his white belt. Very good match.
Tweet 16: Rhodes v Sheamus. Why are they burying Cody?

Jinder Mahal v Ryback

Tweet 17: Jinder Mahal! AND THERE'S HIS PERSPEX BOX!!
Tweet 18: Mahal is on job duty to Ryback this week. He didn't even get the usual pre-squash promo.
Tweet 19: "Feeding time" for 'The Human Wrecking Ball'. #thingsyoullonlyhearinwrestling
Tweet 20: “Maw-hall” – Booker T
Tweet 21: Why is Ryback being booked to sell this much to Jinder Mahal?
Tweet 22: No selling the camel clutch?! That's power right there...
Tweet 23: Mahal is taking a count out because he's scared to face Ryback. What will happen to his Perspex box if he doesn't go back to the ring?

Ryback laughs at camels clutches...

Tout segment

Tweet 24: WWE are really pushing these Sonic sodas. Lawler made a thing of them on RAW and all three SD commentators were just pictured with them.
Tweet 25: Now to watch some incoherent clowns on Tout.
Tweet 26: Well everyone on Tout seems to love what Punk did to Rock. Not a very successful heel turn then.

Cody Rhodes v Sheamus

Tweet 28: Time to bury the impressive, main event calibre Cody Rhodes.
Tweet 29: If WWE got rid of the World Heavyweight title and booked the IC belt this strongly instead it would mean help to restore the mid-card belt.
Tweet 30: At this point the WHC can be viewed as the promotion's seconday title, despite it's "world" tag.
Tweet 31: "That's a rag-tagging right there, baby" - Booker T on a rag-tagging
Tweet 32: Is Booker saying baby so much because Cody is Dusty's son?
Tweet 33: Here comes Dolph Ziggler. Josh asks if he's about to cash in... as they cut to a break. Clearly not cashing in right away then.
Tweet 34: Ziggler will not cash in before SummerSlam. It will happen on that show or some time afterwards.

Here we see Ziggler doing an excellent job of hiding Josh Mathews from view

Tweet 35: They may have ADR be the one to take the belt off of Sheamus and then have Ziggler beat him.
Tweet 36: That could keep the three-way feud going and allow 'The Show Off' to work as a tweener.
Tweet 37: This is a pretty good match. Cody is unlikely to win but he's being allowed to look good against the champ.
Tweet 38: "Trust me, you don't get up from a kick like that" - Booker T, as Sheamus got up from a kick like that
Tweet 39: Cody is going to eat a Brogue Kick.
Tweet 40: 'The Heel' gets some heat for not cashing in. See? People want to see him as World champ.
Tweet 41: Jericho appears. Gone are the leather trousers and electric jacket, replaced by a Ziggler T-shirt and jeans.
Tweet 42: Jeans loose enough to allow a Codebreaker to be hit. 'Y2J' is very much a face again. That's a good thing. He's been a heel for years.

Santino v Antonio Cesaro

Tweet 43: Antonio Cesaro. Heeeey!!
Tweet 44: Cole describes Antonio as 'The Swiss Superman'. I want that to catch on.
Tweet 45: #Swissdeadlift
Tweet 46: This is non-title? I want Cesaro to win and then take the US gold from Santino in a rematch.
Tweet 47: Cesaro goes over with the brilliantly named Gotch Style Neutralizer. Because I like that name they'll probably stop using it.

Will the non-title victory lead to the former King of Wrestling becoming a champion?

Yoshi Tatsu v Damien Sandow

Tweet 48: Sandow v Tatsu. I can go with this.
Tweet 49: Well that was quick. What is his neckbreaker finish called? It needs a name.

Daniel Bryan v Rey Mysterio v Kane v Alberto Del Rio

Tweet 50: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Tweet 51: Albertooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Deeeeeel Riiiiiiiiiiiooooooooooooooooooooo!!
Tweet 52: I like the way Del Rio mimes playing a piano when he walks onto the ramp.
Tweet 53: Rey's wearing a vest with a question mark on it again. There's something funny going on here.
Tweet 54: Either Rey's out of shape or he's got a new tat WWE management don't approve of. I hope it's the latter.
Tweet 55: Mysterio v Bryan. That's a singles match I'd like to see!
Tweet 56: #yeskicks
Tweet 57: Did Cole just reference something that happened in 2010?! It's rare for him to mention anything that happened more than six months ago.
Tweet 58: ADR used a back stabber. The commentary team don't acknowledge it.
Tweet 59: Del Rio goes to tap, Kane stops him. Couldn't ADR just have told the ref he quits?
Tweet 60: 619 to Bryan and ADR. Ricardo yanks Rey out of the ring and Del Rio gets the pin. I assume this will lead to Rey being added to the match.
Tweet 61: Del Rio v Mysterio v Sheamus for the WHC could be good. It's certainly a fresh match.

Friday 27 July 2012

Z 4 IC

Earlier in the week Zack Ryder made an appearance on a podcast and talked about how the storyline involving himself, Kane and Eve earlier in the year damaged his career. I can’t disagree there.

The on-screen association with Eve was designed to get Eve over, not ‘Long Island Z’. He was booked to look like a na├»ve idiot, completely smitten with the former Divas champion. That she got away with making a fool of him again and again harmed Ryder’s credibility and derailed the momentum he had built up at the end of 2011. Ryder looked stupid, and nobody wants to cheer for an idiot.

Meanwhile his jobs to Kane were numerous and utterly one-sided. Ryder was used as an extra in ‘The Big Red Monster’s’ rivalry with John Cena. The idea was that continually destroying Ryder, Cena’s friend both on- and off-screen (allegedly), would put more heat on the masked man and give Cena yet another reason to seek retribution (presumably Kane attacking Cena himself wasn’t enough).

That belt Ryder's holding is the Internet championship. He paid for it himself, it is not a recognised WWE title (sadly)...

That WWE was willing to waste a talent like Ryder in this fashion was incredibly disheartening at the time and remains so in hindsight. While Ryder is never going to be the best wrestler on the roster he achieved the impressive task of getting himself over with the WWE audience without the backing of the company’s booking squad.

That ‘The Internet Champion’ managed that says a lot about how well the man knows his own character. It’s a pretty strong indicator that he understands wrestling audiences too. To be able to get over using only a weekly YouTube show and appearances on Superstars is impressive and should have earned Ryder a continual push from the powers that be.

For a while Ryder did have a decent push going. He was pitted against then-United States champion Dolph Ziggler in the closing months of last year and was allowed to look competitive against him. That Ryder was permitted to look strong against a man higher on the pecking order than himself was a good sign. He was cleverly booked to lose to ‘The Show Off’ numerous times before finally toppling him, ensuring his eventual victory (in the opening contest at TLC) elicited a healthy pop and that Ryder was seen as the underdog throughout the battle.

Sadly once his programme with Ziggler ended Ryder rolled into the previously mentioned storyline with Kane, Cena and Eve. His US title reign failed to last as long as expected too: the former Edgehead was booked to drop the strap to Jack Swagger in a forgettable clash in February.

Since being duped by Eve at WrestleMania (as part of the Team Johnny v Team Teddy battle) Ryder has made sporadic appearances on both RAW and SmackDown, usually in losing efforts. The most memorable thing he’s done since the April 1st supershow has been hosting an episode of SmackDown. Dubbed ZackDown (for comedy reasons, presumably) it was not a good episode of the show and didn’t provide Ryder with the chance to do anything especially memorable.

Interestingly Ryder has recently begun tweeting about wanting the Intercontinental championship. Social media has worked well for him before, perhaps it will again. It was through tools such as Twitter that Ryder was able to prove to WWE management that he had enough fan support to get an on-screen feud with Ziggler and eventually win the US gold.

Ryder should stick to what he knows. That means a continuation of his YouTube show, utilising the support of his internet fanbase, and keeping his character work strong. That The Miz, a solid heel who is underrated as an in-ring performer, has just become the IC champ is a promising sign for the Long Island native. A feud between the two men would be fresh and could potentially provide some entertaining segments, especially with RAW now running for three hours.

Hopefully WWE had always planned for his US title reign to be on the short side. Perhaps it was a tester to see how Ryder worked in the role of babyface champ. If and when he captures the white belt he deserves a longer reign with a few more televised defences. It would do the title and Ryder a lot of good.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Aces, Eights and Chavo Guerrero

Things were going pretty well in TNA.

Late last year Bobby Roode and James Storm were promoted to the main event and presented as genuine singles stars. Austin Aries recently joined them and captured the company’s world championship, a positive sign as it showed TNA had noticed the man’s talent and rise in popularity. Zema Ion is now leading the X Division into what is hopefully going to become a renaissance for the league and for the most part talent such as Samoa Joe, Magnus and Chris Daniels are being generally well used.

Most notably the various former WWE employees under contract (Mr Anderson, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Devon, and the rest of the gang) have had their pushes decreased in order to allow those mentioned above to rise to the top. Hulk Hogan and Sting are now being booked more as special attractions than regulars and Eric Bischoff has been written off television all together.

The positivity I felt about the TNA product was undone by one thing: the announcement that Chavo Guerrero had been signed by the promotion.

Chavo is a competent worker who can produce good to great matches if he has the right opponent. He is not someone renowned for being able to carry far less experienced men to excellent matches. His verbal work is merely average. In short he excels at no one aspect of professional wrestling over any other and has not shown at any point during his career that he has what it takes to make it as a headline attraction.

I am less than enthused about Chavo Guerrero's addition to the TNA roster

At 41-years-old and with younger, better men plying their trade on the US independent scene I can see no reason for TNA to have hired Chavo. He would make a very good addition to their group of trainers and road agents (which currently includes D’Lo Brown, Al Snow and Simon Diamond) but that’s not what he’s been hired for. He is being brought in as an on-screen performer. Considering the fact that his first appearance on this evening’s live IMPACT is being pushed heavily by TNA it seems as though he’s going to be a featured performer.

Perhaps I’m being unnecessarily negative. Maybe Chavo will be brought in for a short run to help grant the X Division some credibility. A three or four month stint topped off by a babyface Chavo unsuccessfully challenging a heel Zema Ion for the X belt could do the league some good.

I don’t think we’ll get that though. I think Chavo is going to be around for a while and TNA are going to do all they can to get him over as a big star when they should be giving more time to men like Ion and Kenny King.

On a related note we have the mysterious Aces and Eights faction attacking members of the TNA roster, seemingly at random. The crew has featured a revolving roster of men, always working under hoods and masks to obscure their identities.

At this point the Aces and Eights faction looks like it's going to be another excuse for TNA to hire a load of ex-WWE talent

This being wrestling it’s been easy enough to identify some of the assailants so far. Drew ‘Luke Gallows’ Hankinson is currently the only man to have been involved in every Aces segment. He’s expected to be a member of the faction when the masks are dropped. Wes Briscoe was on run-in duty and is similarly expected to wind up on the faction’s roster. D’Lo Brown was also involved in the beatdown of Aries on last week’s IMPACT, but he will likely end up just being an uncredited extra.

The reason TNA are revolving the men working under hoods is so that the eventual line-up, whenever it’s revealed, comes as a surprise to viewers. That’s a nice approach but based on the men involved in the angle so far it seems as though TNA is planning to stock the faction with former WWE names.

As I stated above an increase in ex-WWE performers is not what TNA needs. Find some new talent and let them connect with the audience. It’s worked for Aries, Roode and Storm. It would work for others, but it can’t if the Aces and Eights faction begins gobbling up air time once they’re unmasked. Sadly that seems like the likeliest route at this point.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

That 1000th RAW Recap 23.07.12

There was a lot of hype to meet with the thousandth episode of Monday Night RAW. Did WWE’s booking team manage to meet expectations or was the first regular three hour show a washout? I’m pleased to say that for the most part RAW 1000 was a very enjoyable episode.

Vince McMahon hit the ring to kick things off. It was nice to see him. Unusually he didn’t take up much time. He thanked the audience for their support, dusted off his trademark RAW intro and then brought out D-Generation X.

The DX reunion was a perfect example of how to book a nostalgia act well. The gang ran through all their old catchphrases, made people laugh and then interacted with a current star. That star was Damien Sandow. ‘The Self Proclaimed Intellectual Saviour of the Masses’ appeared to attempt to save DX from themselves (or something). He took Sweet Chin Music and a Pedigree for his trouble.

Triple H doesn't look happy being at the back does he?

As a big fan of the New Age Outlaws it was great to see both ‘Bad Ass’ Billy Gunn and Road Dogg again. Road Dogg is still great with a microphone and Gunn looked to be in great shape. A gimmick match between them and a heel combo sometime in the not too distant future would be very welcome.

X Pac was also present.

The reunion was followed by a six man tag team match, for which Jim Ross joined Michael Cole and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler at the commentary desk. Sheamus, Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio beat Chris Jericho, Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler when ‘The Show Off’ lamped ‘Y2J’, allowing ‘Great White’ to hit a Brogue Kick for the victory.

As six man tags go it was a decent affair. More importantly it advanced the Ziggler v Jericho rivalry that was started on show 999. A match between the two is expected at SummerSlam. It has the potential to be a highlight of the event.

Next up was a backstage segment that existed to get some faces in front of the cameras. Divas champion Layla (who didn’t have her belt and wasn’t acknowledged as the champ) was hanging out with bride to be AJ and discussing the upcoming wedding. As they did this Jim Duggan, R-Truth, Roddy Piper, Little Jimmy, Mae Young and a man in a hand suit (a gag for long-time fans) appeared in a corridor.

Young’s son aside it was not a good vignette.

JR had vanished from commentary for the next match, a squash battle pitting ‘The Funkasaurus’ against Jack Swagger. Dude Love was introduced to stand in Clay’s corner, and danced in the ring after ‘The All American American’ had been defeated. Foley looked appalling and his dancing was embarrassing. That he was given more air time than Swagger is not a good sign for the former World Heavyweight champion’s future prospects (or should that be future endeavours…?).

A brief shot of Daniel Bryan backstage was shown, talking to several men in white coats. This was a swerve designed to make viewers think that Bryan was going to have AJ committed during the ceremony. Instead we got a fairly standard exchange of vows (presided over by Slick) that ended with AJ yelling “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

She interrupted Slick just before he could proclaim the two man and wife, telling him that she hadn’t been saying yes to Bryan but to another man who’d made her an offer earlier in the day. Vinnie Mac then put in his second appearance of the evening and revealed that he had hired AJ as the new General Manager.

This should ensure AJ’s push continues, which is a good thing for her and viewers. It will be interesting to see how she’s booked in the role. I’m also keen to find out why accepting the role of GM meant she was unable to marry Bryan. Surely the two aren’t mutually exclusive? I bet we never find out.

AJ skipped backstage and left Bryan to destroy the wedding set. This he did with surprising speed and efficiency. If ever he gets bored of wrestling he’d make a great stagehand.

After a break CM Punk came out to taunt Bryan. ‘The Voice of the Voiceless’ basically said Bryan had gotten everything he deserved for treating AJ so poorly over the last several months. Bryan responded by screaming that he was the greatest WWE superstar of all time, which brought The Rock out to the ring.

Rock disagreed with Bryan’s lofty opinion of himself. He told Bryan that the people get to decide who the greatest ever is, then told him he looks like the offspring of an oompa loompa and a homeless lumberjack. ‘The Great One’ then revealed that he will challenge for the WWE championship on January 27th at the Royal Rumble, no matter who holds the gold. The scene ended with Bryan taking a Rock Bottom.

The announcement that ‘The People’s Champion’ will face the WWE champion at the Royal Rumble is big news. It will become more relevant as the event draws near but it’s clear from this that WWE will be making use of The Rock throughout WrestleMania season next year. He was present on several shows this year but I’d expect his presence to be greater for the build to ‘Mania XXIX. The Rock appearing at the Rumble should ensure a high buy rate and will allow his match for the extravaganza in New Jersey to be setup with a large audience watching.

The third match of the night finally rolled around after another break. Introduced by Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart it saw Christian defend his Intercontinental strap against The Miz. I’d predicted a title change based on the fact that WWE would want to switch a belt on the landmark episode. I wasn’t wrong. ‘The Awesome One’ dropped ‘Captain Charisma’ clean with a Skull Crushing Finale.

An awesome new Intercontinental champion

I could go off on a tangent and talk about how disappointing it is that yet another former world champion has been given a mid-card belt. But I won’t. At this point I’m just happy Miz has been given something to do and has the chance to reinvigorate the IC gold (something which nobody on the roster seems capable of doing).

Triple H opted not to change into his usual business attire for his showdown with Brock Lesnar. Instead he went to the ring in his DX camouflage gear. He could not have looked less like a COO.

Paul Heyman came out in place of ‘The Pain’. After teasing that he would be accepting ‘The Game’s’ challenge he announced that the SummerSlam match would not take place. The two men started insulting one another’s kids, which brought out Stephanie McMahon, who coerced Heyman into agreeing to the match in an exchange that didn’t quite work. She didn’t say anything that her husband hadn’t said but for some reason hearing it from her pushed Heyman’s buttons.

Wanting to get in a final shot Heyman once again targeted the McMahon-Helmsley kids, prompting a slap from Steph. As the two rolled around on the mat (prompting memories of Beulah McGillicutty’s battle with Bill Alfonso) Lesnar’s music played and the former UFC champion marched down to the ring. He and Triple H slugged it out before ‘The Game’ clotheslined him to the outside. The heels retreated backstage as Triple H ripped his shirt off and posed in the ring.

The Triple H v Brock Lesnar match is official for SummerSlam. If the company keeps doing a good job with the storyline it should help the show draw a high number.

Heath Slater’s legends storyline did not get the satisfying ending it deserved. Lita answered ‘The One Man Rock Band’s’ challenge for a legend to battle him in a no disqualification, anything goes encounter. She revealed that she’d hired some protection for the evening and brought out the APA. She didn’t say why she’d felt the need to hire them. Perhaps she was expected some trouble from Matt Hardy.

Slater tried to make an escape but was cut off by all the legends that he’s faced over the last month. He was sent back into the ring to eat a Clothesline From Hell from JBL and a moonsault from Lita.

While this may seem an anti-climax at least we know that Slater can shine when allowed to play a comedic loser. As I’ve written before WWE should keep him in a similar role now that the legends angle has played out. It’s how he can be of most value to the promotion.

John Cena, Zack Ryder and Gene Okerlund got some airtime backstage. ‘Long Island Iced Z’ was sharing his theory that ‘Mean’ Gene was behind GTV back in the late 90s. Gene denied it. Thankfully The Rock showed up to put an end to the nonsense. He wished Cena luck in his title match against Punk (as he had done with the champion earlier) and said he’d like the two to have a rematch at the Royal Rumble. I am indifferent to the suggestion.

Kane came to the ring, presumably for a match. I say presumably as his opponent was never officially introduced thanks to Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre, Hunico, Camacho and the MidCard Mafia coming to the ring to complain about their lack of opportunities. The Undertaker came out to join his storyline sibling and the two hit their signature moves on the job squad. It was nothing more than an excuse to include the Brothers of Destruction on the show.

Finally it was time for the main event: John Cena cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase for a shot at the WWE championship held by CM Punk. I was surprised to hear that it was only the 57th defence of the belt on Monday Night RAW. I would have guessed far higher than that.

The match itself was decent, though not a patch on their encounter at last year’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view. At around the halfway mark the ref took a bump and Cena caught Punk with an AA. With the official still unconscious Big Show lumbered out to the ring and hit Cena with a spear. Punk sat watching skittishly from the corner as the challenger pulled himself back to his feet. Cena was then KO’d by a WMD punch.

‘The World’s Largest Athlete’ vacated the ring, leaving Punk to look torn between waking John Cena and the unconscious official. Wake Cena and he would be giving his opponent the fair chance he himself had been extended the week before. Wake the referee and he would be that much likelier to retain the championship.

Punk opted to revive the ref. Having dragged him back into the ring the champ went for a cover only for the challenger to kick out at two. Punk then went for a GTS but Cena countered into the STF. Show then waddled back out and broke the hold, causing a DQ victory for Cena.

Yes, Cena became the first man to ash in the Money in the Bank briefcase and lose.

The giant stomped away at ‘The Leader of the CeNation’ as Punk turned his back and hung his head. Previously he had looked torn. At this point he looked dejected. He exited the ring, title belt in hand, just as The Rock’s music hit and ‘The Great One’ flew to the ring to make the save. Rock gave Show a number of punches then planted him in the centre of the ring with a spinebuster. After the traditional pose ‘The Brahama Bull’ went sailing off the ropes for a People’s Elbow.

That People’s Elbow never connected because CM Punk slid back into the ring and nailed Rocky with a perfectly timed clothesline. As ‘The Great One’ sold on the mat the champion mocked him by emulating the moves he makes before going for a Rock Bottom. When Rock finally made it back to his feet he turned around into a GTS. The show went off the air with Punk slowly heading backstage clutching his precious WWE championship.

Looks like The Rock has a new feud

So… thoughts on the show closing angle? A CM Punk heel turn is not what I‘d expected but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. He works better as a bad guy and has faced most of the top heels on the roster during his seven month title reign. After a year spent as one of the promotion’s top babyfaces Punk will be refreshed by the chance to portray a villainous character again.

It seems a safe bet that CM Punk’s reasoning for attacking The Rock will be jealousy. Rock turns up every few months and gets the biggest cheers of the night, while Punk is at every show with the gold and is seen as second best to the Rocks and Cenas of the world.

RAW 1000 seemed to indicate that The Rock v CM Punk is going to be the match we get at the Royal Rumble. If Punk keeps winning and is allowed to give credible reasons for his actions then I think he could be a massive heel by then. With the right hype that match could attract some monster numbers.

Sunday 22 July 2012

RAW 1000 preview

It’s interesting to note that although this is WWE’s first regular three hour episode of RAW and there’s a fairly hefty card announced there are only two matches confirmed to be taking place. One of those is an Intercontinental championship defence by Christian against an as yet unnamed opponent. The other is a WWE title match between champion CM Punk and challenger John Cena.

A three hour wrestling show with only two matches announced? That’s a worrying sign for the future.

I’m expecting Punk to successfully retain the gold in St Louis. As I’ve said before I believe Cena will be the first man to cash in a Money in the Bank title shot and lose. He would allow a memorable name to be given that dubious accolade and wouldn’t harm his credibility at all. Can you imagine Dolph Ziggler, or the majority of other former MITB winners, cashing in, getting beaten, and not losing some of their shine? No, me neither.

CM Punk enters RAW's 1000th episode as champion. Will he leave it with the gold? 

It’s possible this match will mark the beginning of a Cena v Punk programme and lead to their rumoured match at SummerSlam. I hope it doesn’t. I’d rather see both men pitted against fresh opponents at SummerSlam. Tensai would benefit from a proper programme with ‘The CeNation Commander in Chief’ while Cody Rhodes would be a nice fit for Punk.

Speaking of Rhodes I’m expecting him to be the challenger for Christian’s Intercontinental championship. The two have been booked in a half-hearted feud for a few months now and the 1000th instalment of RAW is the sort of landmark event WWE likes to book a title change at. As I’m not expecting the WWE title to change hands and there are no announced defences of the Divas, tag team, US or World Heavyweight belts the IC belt seems the likeliest to switch holders.

Whether it’s Cody taking it from him or not I do not think ‘Captain Charisma’ will be heading into Tuesday’s SmackDown tapings with the white leather strap.

One of the biggest segments of Monday’s RAW is going to be the Brock Lesnar and Triple H segment. This match will happen at SummerSlam and so I expect ‘The Pain’ to officially accept the challenge when WWE’s biggest TV audience of the year is watching. It’s possible Lesnar will say no and then backtrack on that decision in a few weeks. But what would be the point in that? It would be wasting the chance to confirm to a larger than average audience that a first-time-ever match is going to happen at one of the company’s biggest annual events.

I will be interested to see whether or not this segment bleeds into the DX reunion that has been announced. It would make sense. There’s not really much ‘The Game’ and his old pal Shawn Michaels can do together that hasn’t been done to death already. Lesnar and Heyman putting themselves in the middle of what has been confirmed as the show-opening segment would hook people straight away and allow the show to kick off with a huge announcement regarding a pay-per-view main event.

It would also allow the commentary team to hype the SummerSlam headline bout throughout the entire show. That’s something I’m sure management will be very keen on.

It will be interesting to see whether the reunion is limited to just ‘HBK’ and ‘The Game’ or whether the faction’s other members will finally be acknowledged too. Yes, I’d like to see the New Age Outlaws make and appearance (and X Pac too, I suppose…). D-Generation X didn’t die when Michaels left the company after WrestleMania XIV. Some of the gang’s most memorable segments actually occurred after Michaels had left. The 1000th RAW is a nice time to allow the Outlaws and X Pac some time in the spotlight.

For clarity I should state that I think a Chyna appearance is pretty unlikely.

‘The One Man Rock Band’ Heath Salter’s feud with the legends of WWE will come to a head on this show. I’ve really enjoyed the storyline and think it’s made good use of nostalgia acts and a fairly limited performer in Slater. He has found his niche as a comedy jobber and I hope he is kept in a similar role from show 1001 onwards.

I’ve no idea what the payoff to this will be. The most realistic options I can think of are The Undertaker returning to Tombstone Slater (which is only realistic if WWE has no plans for ‘The Dead Man’ at SummerSlam), a surprise appearance from ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin (who has been conspicuous by his absence in the hype for this show) or a legends battle royal being held with Slater entered. If the latter happens I would expect Slater to win the thing and then take numerous finishers or punches from the stars of yesteryear afterwards.

Personally I hope WWE finishes this story with a Stunner and a beer bath to Slater.

On 9th July The Rock tweeted the following:

RAW's 1000th episode. The People's Champ returns.. As promised, my goal: THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP. #RELENTLESS

A mere three months after first announcing his goal to regain the WWE championship ‘The Great One’ is coming back to RAW. There’s a slim chance a SummerSlam match will be set up for him. WWE seems serious about trying to make this year’s August pay-per-view into something special. A bout involving ‘The People’s Champion’ would certainly help there.

We'll be seeing this sight on Monday evening

Realistically though I think The Rock’s next excursion into a wrestling ring will occur at Survivor Series at the earliest. SummerSlam seems a little bit short notice for a man juggling a Hollywood career, and if they knew they had him for the show wouldn’t WWE have made much more of it by now? I will elaborate on the possibility of Rock wrestling at SummerSlam below but it’s not that likely.

I think RAW 1000 will see the first on-screen interaction between The Rock and CM Punk. The above tweet and his comments the nights after WrestleMania make it very clear that a WWE championship match is in Rock’s future, and even if the title switches hands by the time Rock finds himself challenging for the gold (and he will) the champion right now is CM Punk. A confrontation between the two is a natural thing to book considering the goal Rock has and Punk’s character, and would make the 1000th show that much more memorable.

With Cena being Punk’s opponent for the night it’s possible he’ll be involved in a confrontation between ‘The Voiceless of the Voiceless’ and ‘The Brahma Bull’. Personally I’d prefer it if he wasn’t because his presence would overshadow Punk, but providing aid to other performers is rarely taken into consideration when Cena is concerned. Lesnar could be involved too, setting up a clash between him and The Rock at next year’s WrestleMania. They are WWE’s two biggest drawing cards at the moment so it would be natural to pit them against one another at ‘Mania XXIX.

It’s impossible to tell what exactly is going to happen during the wedding of Daniel Bryan and AJ. The Peep Show segment on SmackDown makes me think that Kane is heading into a feud with Bryan and as there’s nothing else for him to do on Monday night I wouldn’t be surprised if he made an appearance during the ceremony.

It feels like there’s a swerve turned coming in all this. Perhaps Bryan has only gotten back together with ‘The Diva Next Door’ in order to jilt and embarrass her for costing him the WWE championship. Maybe Bryan will be asked the question and instead of answering with the predictable “Yes!” he’ll say “No.” After a moment or two of Bryan ridiculing AJ ‘The Big Red Monster’ could come out to make the save and set something up for SummerSlam.

The final confirmed segment for the show is the announcement of a new General Manager. Well, I assume it’s still going to happen. WWE haven’t mentioned the new GM for a couple of weeks now, and last week’s RAW and SmackDown didn’t feature anybody in the role. I can’t see them dropping the idea completely. The promotion has become accustomed to having an on-screen authority figure to include on their shows.

Who could take the role? It’s very difficult to say. Paul Heyman is a possibility. He could be written into the role as part of an “out of court settlement” in his legal battle with storyline COO Triple H. That would just be a short term deal though: Heyman is only going to be affiliated with WWE as long as Lesnar’s around. If Heyman is written into the role on Monday, which is a longshot, I do not expect him to still be in it by the end of the year.

The only other candidate I can think of is John Laurinaitis. He remains under contract and has been working dark matches and house shows against John Cena. Since being removed as Head of Talent Relations there’s little else for him to do in the company besides play a character on TV. A return from ‘Big Johnny’ would be a lazy choice, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

The new GM announcement is a good opportunity for WWE to surprise us. Hopefully the role will go to somebody who will benefit from the increased television exposure and not overshadow the actual stars of the show. Even better would be the position being dropped altogether, but as I’ve said WWE likes having someone on-screen to make the matches and further the plots.

Finally there’s the expected Big Angle. The last two years have seen WWE launch big summer blockbuster storylines. In 2010 it was the NXT invasion and last year it was CM Punk’s shoot promo and subsequent feuds with Triple H and John Cena. The 1000th episode of RAW is a landmark show and the perfect time to do something similarly surprising.

Obviously something designed to shock and surprise the audience isn’t something that can be predicted. I have some ideas of what it could be though. I’ve already mentioned the possibility of the company choosing to tease Rock v Lensar for next year’s WrestleMania. While it wouldn’t be ground-breaking in storyline terms (no matter how much name value the two have it would still just be a feud at the end of the day) it would give WWE something to work towards and fans to anticipate.

Another option for The Rock is a SummerSlam showdown with WWE champion CM Punk. It would be a little rushed and wouldn’t really feel like a huge, game-changing angle, but it could draw ratings and attract a healthy buy rate for ‘The Hottest Event of the Summer.’ Rock v Punk would be a huge match for SummerSlam, one of the few capable of knocking ‘The Pain’s’ faceoff with ‘The King of Kings’ into the semi-final spot.

Another option for involving Punk in the Big Angle is putting him into a segment with Steve Austin and having them agree to face one another at WrestleMania XXIX. A match between Punk and ‘The Great One’ seems likelier than one between Punk and ‘The Texas Rattlesnake’ but it’s possible they’ll go with the latter. Punk v Austin is a match I would personally like to see very much. I think it’s unlikely for ‘Mania XXIX though.

These are suggestions for new feuds featuring big names. They’re not, strictly speaking, angles that would set WWE on a new path and guarantee viewers for the 1001st show. I think the biggest, most shocking and most memorable thing WWE could book for this show would be something that has been discussed for years: a John Cena heel turn.

I expect the Punk v Cena championship match to close the show. That would make it easy for WWE to end with a shot of the newly villainous Cena. ‘The Leader of the Chain Gang’ could turn gradually throughout the course of the match, slowly becoming more and more desperate in his quest to topple ‘The Straight Edge Superstar’ for the belt (see Austin v Rock at ‘Mania X7). Or he could be beaten clean by Punk and attack him afterwards in a fit of rage.

RAW 1000 would be the perfect time to turn John cena heel. That doesn't make it likely though

Is this likely? No. A Cena heel turn has not materialised for the last seven years because he is the face of the company and its biggest merchandise shifter. Even if it would produce a lasting memory and set up a wealth of new booking options I believe WWE would be reluctant to turn their number one guy.

Whatever the Big Angle is I hope it closes the show in the right way and goes better than the last two have done. After 1000 episodes it’s tough for WWE to create fresh scenarios and shock audiences. If ever they’re going to do it RAW 1000 will be the place. The company is putting everything they have into the booking of this episode. They need it to work out well.

Saturday 21 July 2012

SmackTalk 20.07.12

Compared to recent episodes this week’s SmackDown was a solid effort. We were treated to two lengthy tag team bouts, an enjoyable segment featuring over stars, and a Kane bout that was actually entertaining. You can’t say fairer than that.

There are, regrettably, a few negatives to be mentioned. The lack of Ryback after he’d handily dealt with both members of the MidCard Mafia at Money in the Bank felt like a blown opportunity. Was it really too much for WWE to book him to beat three jobbers this week? That seems the next natural step now that he’s proven he can handle combos from the main roster. Once he’s finished handling trios? Move him on to matches with mid-carders and have him squash them, then get him into a feud with a world champion.

I also thought that the Damien Sandow v Zack Ryder match was an anti-climax. A feud between those two has been teased for around a month now and while having ‘The Self-Proclaimed Intellectual Saviour of the Masses’ beat Ryder in under three minutes gets him over it doesn’t do ‘Long Island Iced Z’ any favours.

As that match began I tweeted that with a little care and attention the two could actually provide a worthwhile mid-card entry at this year’s SummerSlam. Having Ryder beaten so easily makes that a much harder prospect now. It made Sandow look good this week, but a similar outing on a pay-per-view would have done more for him long term.

It’s another case of WWE rushing a potentially enjoyable story.

Finally, it’s distressing, but not surprising, that Tyson Kidd has not had a meaningful appearance on the blue brand since qualifying for Money in the Bank. His entry into the ladder battle surprised and excited a lot of people. WWE seems uninterested in capitalising on this popularity and handing Kidd a proper push. Again, with a little work he could be involved in a credible mid-card match at SummerSlam.

Despite these criticisms I feel the goods outweighed the bads. The eight man tag match pitting Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Epico and Primo against Huncio, Camacho and the Prime Time Players was given enough time to actually mean something and everyone involved did themselves proud. More booking like that and WWE could have a tag team division worth talking about again.

The subsequent squash of everyone except the PTPs by the Big Show could be viewed as a negative but frankly the doubles scene means so little, and Show has been booked to dominate these men previously so many times, that it didn’t do any harm at all. I still perceive the men ‘The World’s Largest Athlete’ KO’d in exactly the same light as I did before.

Daniel Bryan and AJ entered enjoyable performances in a mildly confusing Peep Show. Christian, a babyface, came across as a bad guy during his grilling of the apparently happy couple. Bryan and AJ are both in tweener territory, meaning that they (or at least Bryan) should have been booked a little more heelishly. Christian was far too antagonistic and Bryan too sympathetic. At least Kane got a pop when he came out, I suppose.

The headline bout of Sheamus and Rey Mysterio v Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio was good until the finish. Disqualifications are rarely satisfying, and this was no exception. In fairness it was done for a reason: to keep the feud between ‘The Essence of Excellence’ and ‘Great White’ alive for SummerSlam. The post-match sequence in which an attempted Ziggler cash-in was thwarted by Mysterio was similarly designed to keep ‘The Show Off’ in the World title picture and create a reason for Mysterio to be involved in time for SummerSlam too.

Rey Mysterio is the reason Dolph Ziggler is not the World Heavyweight champion right now

Right now I’m expecting the four men to clash for the World Heavyweight championship on that show. It could be an enjoyable match, despite the already lengthy Sheamus v Del Rio feud and the fact that ADR and Mysterio have clashed many times previously.

An early prediction if that four-way does get booked: Sheamus will retain and ‘The Show Off’ will use his Money in the Bank contract to win the gold in an instant rematch. You heard it here first.

Rey Mysterio promo, featuring Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus

Tweet 1: SmackDown! Here we go then...
Tweet 2: Rey Mysterio opens the show. Bad booking, you say?
Tweet 3: He's wearing the outfit he wore during his return run-in on RAW. Lazy Mysterio...
Tweet 4: Mysterio v ADR at SummerSlam? Is that what we're getting? How about something fresh?!
Tweet 5: Rey's come out to say officially that he's back. Great.
Tweet 6: Del Rio, wearing a snazzy suit and scarf combo. I like the scarf gimmick and the fact that it's lasted for so long.
Tweet 7: Four-way between ADR, Sheamus, Mysterio and Ziggler would be good for SummerSlam. Or a three way without 'The Show Off'...
Tweet 8: ... with him cashing in after.
Tweet 9: Speak of the devil.
Tweet 10: Teasing a Ziggler face turn? I'm down with that.
Tweet 11: Sheamus has a lot of hip action when he walks briskly. #butch
Tweet 12: Sheamus just garbled out some words. The only thing I understood was "Pacific Ocean."
Tweet 13: Peep Show with Daniel Bryan and AJ. That should be a highlight.
Tweet 14: The predictable Sheamus and Rey v ADR and Ziggler tag match has been made. BUT WHO BY?!

Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Epico and Primo v Hunico, Camacho, and the Prime Time Players

Tweet 15: Darren Young has some moves. Hunico and Camacho don't even have an entrance...
Tweet 16: How do you tell Epico and Primo apart? They have their names written on their bibs. It's simple really.
Tweet 17: Eight man tag. When was the last time you saw one of these in WWE?
Tweet 18: So is Kofi friends with Epico and Primo now? Guess that feud they had going has been forgotten since E&P turned.
Tweet 19: The commentary team have not acknowledged Hunico's previous alliance with Epico and Primo. I'm not surprised.
Tweet 20: "The tag division getting good around here, Book" - Michael Cole on the four average or thrown together teams in the match
Tweet 21: An ad break always restores order in an unruly tag bout. Always.
Tweet 22: Camacho's getting a lot of time in this match.
Tweet 23: How do you get someone over as a powerhouse? Book them to do a spinebuster on someone smaller than them.
Tweet 24: Titus is stiffing Kofi. He looks reckless.
Tweet 25: Everyone runs into the ring. Cut to another break! That'll restore order...
Tweet 26: What was that move that Young hit as Primo (or Epico) fell off the top meant to be? Didn't connect whatever it was.

Post-match Big Show appearance

Tweet 27: Big Show's here to job out some tag teams. That's how to get your doubles division over.
Tweet 28: Show just choke slammed Hunico and Camacho together. Does that signal a face turn for them?
Tweet 29: Big Show has a microphone. He needs to cut a promo declaring himself the sole tag team champion.
Tweet 30: He said. "And? What?" My idea would have been better.

The obligatory Cena recap segment

Tweet 31: Cena's cash-in has been described by Josh as the most prestigious in history. Not doing Ziggler any favours there, is he?
Tweet 32: "What a week for John Cena!" - Josh Mathews on what happened to Cena in a 24 hour period

Damien Sandow v Zack Ryder

Tweet 33: Sandow is not a fan of Ryder.
Tweet 34: I don't understand why this segment wasn't book on last week's show when 'Long Island Iced Z' was in charge. That would've made more sense.
Tweet 35: With a bit of thought and effort this feud could be built up for SummerSlam. Both men would benefit from being on that card.
Tweet 36: It'd help WWE if they got over. Why not let them? Sandow in particular has main event potential.
Tweet 37: That SS bout won't happen now. Sandow just jobbed out Ryder in around two minutes. Good performance from Damien. Aggressive heels are good.

Peep Show, with guests AJ and Daniel Bryan

Tweet 38: Peep Show. That's right, Christian, get your meaningless belt into shot.
Tweet 39: Seeing this recap of the proposal segment has put one thought into my mind: AJ has surprisingly chubby hands.
Tweet 40: $20,000 ring? Yeah, and The Rock's shirts really used to cost $500...
Tweet 41: Bryan is hilarious in this wedding planning video! Highlight? Putting a submission hold on a teddy bear.
Tweet 42: True love? If this doesn't end with some sort of swerve turn (preferably from Bryan) I will feel cheated.
Tweet 43: Christian is coming across as a heel here.
Tweet 44: 'Captain Charisma' tells Bryan that he has a match. Bryan acts surprised yet he's wearing his wrestling gear. Hmmmm...

The Peep Show was decent, but I'd rather see Bryan and Christian in a match

Kane v Daniel Bryan

Tweet 45: Yes kicks!
Tweet 46: Have people always used that campy jump counter to the choke slam? Strikes me as something that's come up in the last few years.
Tweet 47: Kane wins via DQ after AJ chucks herself onto his back.
Tweet 48: I'm now expecting Kane to involve himself in the wedding segment on Monday. I hope we're not getting a Kane v Bryan feud.

Heath Slater v Road Warrior Animal

Tweet 49: Slater cowbell!
Tweet 50: Road Warrior Animal should team up with John Laurinaitis to form the Legion of Laurinaitis.
Tweet 51: Animal is sporting the Triple H physqiue.

What a rush? Not for Heath Slater...

Vickie Guerrero and Ricardo Rodriguez argue backstage

Tweet 52: What was the point of the bickering between Ricardo and Vickie?
Tweet 53: Wait. What? Ricardo speaks English…?

Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler v Sheamus and Rey Mysterio

Tweet 54: Albertooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Del...
Tweet 55: Vickie Guerrero ruined my tweet.
Tweet 56: Jericho looks OLD.
Tweet 57: Sheamus is out first for his team. We know who the star is here...
Tweet 58: Rey's changed his mask. Or maybe it's one to take off and give to a kid.
Tweet 59: Yeah, he gave it to a child. That's how you know someone's a babyface.
Tweet 60: "Rey Mysterio has set the standard for guys his size stepping into the business and going straight to the top" - Booker T on midgets
Tweet 61: Rey's wearing an outfit that covers his chest. Is that because he's out of shape? Shouldn't be, he's just had eleven months off.
Tweet 62: I want this match to end with either ADR or Ziggler pinning Sheamus to set something up for SummerSlam.
Tweet 63: I imagine Rey will score the pin for his team as he's just come back to TV and it's his hometown.
Tweet 64: Then again WWE don't always like booking hometown wins.
Tweet 65: "C'mon referee, watch your back" - Booker T with a meaningless piece of advice
Tweet 66: Tip for Rey and Sheamus: if you're going to do a near miss tag spot make sure you don't actually touch hands.
Tweet 67: Hot tag to Sheamus. Clean house. Win. #prediction
Tweet 68: Big bump from the apron into the announce table by Ziggler. Convincing way to write him out of the finish.
Tweet 69: Ricardo interference on Sheamus causes a disappointing disqualification finish.
Tweet 70: Officials come in to break up the post-match cross arm breaker. Where's Rey? Shouldn't he make the save to get over a triumphant hero?
Tweet 71: Ah, he saved Sheamus from a Ziggler cash-in instead. That makes him a heel in my book. Surely people would've liked to see a title change?
Tweet 72: A face against face Sheamus v Rey would be something interesting and different for SummerSlam.