Hey everyone! Last night, I attended WWE Raw from the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. As I did with the Impact Wrestling show I attended a couple of months ago, I would like to share my thoughts from the evening:
- This was by far the most interesting show I’ve attended if for no other reason than for the unique ticket situation I found myself in. I arrived to the arena around 6:40 and the show officially began at 7:30. As I was making my way to my seat, I encountered a friend who was in a section above me. Come to find out, there had been some kind of error with our tickets. Our seats were blocked off and most of the people on our rows had to get new seats. The ushers told us to wait on the front row while they figured out a solution. Eventually, they told us to go to the box office to have our tickets replaced. On the way there, we ended up stopping to play a game of WWE ’13, which I was clobbered in. Much to our surprise, they ended up sitting us together. However, as soon as our tickets were scanned for re-entry, the attendants told us they were used. So we went back and got new tickets again. They worked that time! So basically, we got to sit together in much better seats than we originally had. The only downside is that they took away my original pink ticket (I purchased it during Breast Cancer Awareness month) that really stood out amongst my collection of wrestling memorabilia.
- As a result of our ticket situation, we missed all of WWE Superstars. From what I heard, Brodus Clay and Zack Ryder competed, so it wasn’t like we missed anything special.
- The section we were in had lots of kids, but a fair number of older men. This is where things got weird. It seemed as if the men didn’t react to anything for the entire show. I’m 27 and most of them appeared to be a good ten years older than I was and they didn’t even react to the commercials that aired plugging the recent Attitude Era and NWO DVD releases. My friend and I were making several references to old school wrestling throughout the evening and they acted as if they had no clue as to what we were talking about.
- Not sure how it came across on television, but it was a pretty hot crowd for the most part. The building also appeared to be mostly full. I’d estimate about 10,000 people were in attendance.
- Ryback was far and away the most popular guy on the show. Randy Orton was next followed by John Cena. It’s possible that I could be confusing Orton and Cena’s reactions, but Ryback was clearly positioned as the big star and the final segment with him against Punk and the Shield blew the roof off the building.
- From what I saw, the most popular merchandise was John Cena’s “Salute to the Cenation” shirt. Tons of kids and adults wore them and I saw very few people wearing his latest 10th anniversary shirt. There were lots of fans with Ryback shirts.
- The match of the night was the fatal four-way of Antonio Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston vs. R-Truth vs. Wade Barrett. It was a long and very well worked match. I’d go so far as to say it was the best live WWE match I’ve seen. Everyone worked hard and there were a ton of good false finishes near the end. It was all action and there were some points where I honestly had no idea who would win. Cesaro was super impressive and really took his game to a new level. I can’t wait to go back and watch the match on You Tube because if it came across that good live, it must’ve looked awesome on television.
- I was totally shocked to see Vince McMahon. It was my first time ever seeing him in person.
- The C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman promo got a ton of heat. They are magic together, so it was no surprise.
- Compared how she is booked most weeks, AJ was scarcely used. She was only in a brief match with Tamina and wasn’t seen for the rest of the show.
- It was really apparent that Miz is not working out well as a good guy. Punk just obliterated him on the mic in both of their segments. Miz is a natural bad guy and being good just doesn’t suit him.
- The Shield got a ton of heat for their various attacks throughout the show. The fans definitely view them as something special.
- I was surprised that the Cena & Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big Show match went on so early. The crowd went crazy for the finishing sequence of the simultaneous Attitude Adjustment and White Noise.
- As with any live show, it never ceases to amaze me how different the show is from what you watch on television. My friend was able to spot the production people and picked up on a lot of what they were doing. He even saw one of the stagehands direct the Shield to do one of their run-ins. During Sin Cara’s entrance, he had to wait on the ramp for about four minutes until the commercial break ended. We also had a great view of Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler and could see when they were getting information from the ring announcer and others. Plus it was neat to see the ring crew hustling to get things in place for the final segment.
- No matter how many shows I attend, the shock of the pyro gets me every time!
The following is just a random assortment of my thoughts from last night’s edition of Monday Night Raw. Hope you all enjoy:
Even though I wasn’t a big fan of the finish of the Punk-Ryback Hell in a Cell match, I must admit they did a superb job of following up on the Brad Maddox controversy. It was presented as if Maddox was acting on his own accord when he cost Ryback the victory. Punk and Paul Heyman played it down as if they had no idea why Maddox would do something like that, being Maddox screwed up the Punk -John Cena match from several weeks ago. I was also glad they didn’t have him appear on Raw. It will be interesting to see how they will follow up with this.
Last night, it really became apparent how great the announcing has been on Raw over the last two months since Jim Ross has been in to replace Jerry Lawler. It’s so amazing when you think about it, but Ross just enhances everything and everyone on the show. Even when it comes to relatively new talent like Antonio Cesaro and Justin Gabriel, his commentary has a way of making you believe these guys will be huge stars in the company. He also was great at emphasizing the historical nature of what Maddox did to Ryback at the PPV and really added another layer of drama to the storyline. It’s also worth noting that Michael Cole has stepped up his game considerably and is not at all out of place with Ross.
Damien Sandow/Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio/Sin Cara was an excellent PPV quality match. In fact, I’d go so far to say it was the best tag match I’ve seen in WWE this year. What really stood out to me was how far Sin Cara has come into his own as an in-ring performer. I’ve never been a big fan of his for the pure reason he seems rather clumsy in the ring and has a hard time getting the crowd behind him. Working with Mysterio has done wonders for his career as he appeared to be crisp and confident in every move he made. Most important, the crowd was behind him huge when he was being worked over for majority of the match. Mysterio was amazing as always, but the biggest part of what made this match so great was Sandow and Rhodes. These two are the very definition of what a tag team should be and Jim Ross was going out of his way to praise them on commentary. Their styles complement each other well and they bring out the very best in each other in everything they do. To put it bluntly, they have mastered the art of tag team psychology. The company really lucked into something special when combining these two.
On the flipside, it really became apparent how much Kane and Daniel Bryan are losing steam. They are huge stars and great performers, but their gimmick of constantly butting heads has rendered them as nothing more than a comedy act. Their shtick was cute for the first couple of weeks, but now it’s getting old. Hopefully, Rhodes and Sandow will win the belts from them soon so they can finally break up and go their separate ways.
I like the John Cena/AJ storyline. For those unfamiliar, it’s basically a copy of the AJ Styles/Claire Lynch angle form TNA. That angle was excellent until Lynch abruptly quit the company thus forcing the storyline to rush to an unsatisfactory conclusion. Luckily, I don’t think we have to worry about AJ leaving WWE anytime soon.
I enjoyed the Big Show and Sheamus segment. I missed the PPV, but from all accounts I read their match stole the show. For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, I’ve been a huge fan of Show since his heel turn over the summer. It seems like it breathed new life into his character and I for one think he is very deserving of his current championship run. Sheamus has really stepped up to the plate as being one of the better big man workers WWE has had in several years and I’m looking forward to future matches between these two. His execution of white noise to Show was epic!
I thoroughly enjoyed the backstage interview with the Three Man Band (3MB). These guys have chemistry and it’s great to see the company doing something with Drew McIntyre. That guy has way too much potential to be a sideline player.
The presentation John Cena did for WWE’s partnership with Susan G. Komen Fight for the Cure was as classy of a moment I’ve seen from the company. I am not ashamed to admit that it was a bit emotional. I will also admit that up until a few weeks ago, I never had much of a concern about breast cancer or any other form of cancer for that matter. My perspective has certainly changed since three people I knew (one indirectly) have died from cancer recently (including a friend’s wife from breast cancer on last week). Some people may question the timing of the presentation being it’s dead in the heat of election season (Vince McMahon’s wife Linda is running for a senate seat in Connecticut), but it was the last Raw of October, which is breast cancer awareness month, and I felt it was one of the most memorable moments in the 20 year history of the show.
It’s not exactly a secret, but Punk and Heyman are just awesome together. I’d go so far as to say they are one of the best wreslter/manager pairings I’ve seen. Punk was a great wrestler and champion long before Heyman returned to WWE, but it seems his career really turned the corner after aligning with Heyman.
The closing segment was another winner and for the first time in several years I am actually looking forward to the traditional Survivor Series tag team match. My gut tells me that the fallout will lead to a Punk-Mick Foley match at the December PPV. Foley is great at everything he does and his recent interactions with Punk have been treats for any serious student of the game. Punk and Foley are two of the most passionate people working in the wrestling business and I can guarantee we’re going to see some excellent segments from these two as they prepare their teams to do battle at Survivor Series. I like the team dynamics because everyone is currently feuding with a member of the opposing team and it makes for great storyline consistency.
Ego. It’s the one word that defines the essence of professional wrestling and is the key ingredient every wrestler needs in order to be successful. Just like anything else in life, having too much of an ego can be a bad thing.
This past Monday on Raw, wrestling fans worldwide were subjected to one of the most blatant abuses of ego ever seen in WWE. I’ll go so far as to say it was among the most self-serving and narcissistic moments I’ve seen in the two decades I’ve followed the business.
In case anyone missed it, this week’s show was the HHH Appreciation Night. Well, not officially as in the case of Edge and Shawn Michaels (two men who had appreciation ceremonies), but you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. Throughout the evening the appearance of HHH, who was to make a big announcement, was endlessly hyped along with numerous videos featuring his career highlights. With how much he was pushed they should have just replaced the show with an airing of his 2008 DVD collection King of Kings: There is Only One.
Before I continue, I would like to say I don’t normally approve of HHH rants. Whether you love him or hate him, you cannot deny he is among the greatest superstars in the history of WWE. He works his tail off between the ropes and has a laundry list of classic matches to his credit. I will never knock the man’s performance inside the ring. Over the last few years it’s become kind of hard for me to knock his political agenda as well. I always thought he got an unfair shake from most simply because of his relationship with Stephanie McMahon. Being married to your boss’s daughter does make you an automatic lightning rod for controversy. My defense to those criticisms was always that he became a star long before he married into the ruling family. Besides, HHH came up in the business with Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash, two of the most notorious backstage politicians of the 90s (though I love Michaels now as a human being). To put it bluntly, HHH is on the short list of most powerful and smartest wrestlers in history. The fact he will one day inherit the WWE says it all.
But back to Monday. To me the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back occurred during his entrance to the ring. I figured he was going to do some sort of scripted retirement speech that would subtly hint at a potential rematch against Brock Lesnar. However, I was not expecting to see announcers Michael Cole and Josh Matthews stand solemnly at attention as though they were honoring the president of the United States. For me, that was the moment where I could no longer take it seriously.
Even in defeat to Lesnar, which he should’ve sold by taking weeks off from television, HHH returned one week later and came off as the most important person in the company. One would almost forget he actually lost his SummerSlam match. It’s no secret they are building towards a rematch later this year. While HHH losing twice to Lesnar would be surprising at best, I can’t possibly imagine HHH thinking it would be a good idea to have Lesnar lose before his tentative WrestleMania 29 match against Undertaker. I guess we’ll all know the answer in a few months.
However, I would like to spend the rest of this article comparing and contrasting HHH to another WWE legend. By coincidence, the man I’m talking about just lost a retirement match to Dolph Ziggler last week and is known for having one of the biggest egos in all of wrestling. That man is Chris Jericho.
Last September, HHH returned to action for his first PPV match following his WrestleMania 27 encounter with Undertaker. At the time C.M. Punk was the hottest guy in WWE and was finally coming into his own as a main event player. So what happened? Of course, HHH had to come back and beat him at Night of Champions. Jericho returned this past January from a year plus absence and guess what he did? He lost to Punk at two straight PPVs.
In February of 2011, HHH returned to Raw after being out of action for most of 2010. On his first night back, he cut a promo where he basically said he had beaten everyone of importance in WWE and how he looked around the locker room and noticed there wasn’t anyone left worth challenging. He even buried Sheamus and made him look like an inept fool (made even worse since Sheamus had the storyline reason for putting him on the shelf for most of the previous year). Anytime Jericho returns, he makes it his mission to put over younger talent and make them look as good as possible.
In 2004, HHH authored the book Making the Game: Triple H’s Approach to a Better Body. It was a guide to his training regime mixed with autobiographical bits on his career. Nevertheless, it flopped. Jericho’s 2007 autobiography, A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex, and its 2011 follow up, Undisputed : How to Become World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps, are considered two of the best wrestling books ever written and both achieved success on the New York Times Bestseller List.
HHH starred in Blade Trinity, which was largely panned by critics as the worse film in the Blade trilogy. HHH also starred in The Chaperone, one of the very worst WWE films ever produced (which covers a lot of ground). Jericho has competed on Dancing with the Stars and is lead singer of the heavy metal band Fozzy. He appears regularly on television as a talking head on pop culture issues and is a genuine celebrity outside of wrestling. He even appeared on the cover of a recent issue of Revolver Magazine. To the best of my knowledge the only magazine cover, outside of wrestling publications, HHH ever appeared on was Muscle & Fitness.
Jericho has often said, even on his WWE released documentary, that he doesn’t want to retire with a grand farewell celebration. He wants to quietly ride out into the sunset never to be seen again. After watching Raw on Monday, it became apparent HHH wishes to go out with an epic spectacle filled with the same level of emotion as his idol Ric Flair and WWE Hall of Famer Edge.
If you were to conduct a unanimous poll to the vast majority of the WWE locker room as to who are the most respected stars on the current roster, Jericho’s name would likely appear right after the Undertaker’s on many of the responses.
Jericho is a man with an ego. You have to have an ego and ruffle a few feathers to make it to the top of the WWE food chain. However, unlike HHH, Jericho has used his ego to help elevate everyone around him. Even at 43, HHH’s ego will not allow him to realize that the business does not revolve around him.
When the book is closed on HHH’s career, his legacy will always fall short of the big four of modern wrestling: Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Steve Austin and Rock. And even though the record books indicate otherwise, he will never have the universal respect of fellow peers such as Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton, Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, Edge and John Cena. No number of championships, great matches or false retirements can take away from the fact he will forever be remembered as one of the most selfish wrestlers of his generation.
Stay down for the good of everyone involved in the company you will run one day! Lol
It’s no secret that Dolph Ziggler is among the top performers in WWE. This Sunday, live on pay-per-view, the former Spirit Squad member will get a shot at the WWE World Championship when he faces Sheamus at No Way Out. Like most great things in wrestling, this match was not planned in advance.
I’ve always believed in the expression that one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. That was the exact predicament Ziggler found himself in after Alberto Del Rio, the original challenger to Sheamus, was recently diagnosed with a concussion. It was widely speculated throughout the weekend that Ziggler would likely get the shot, but WWE has a tendency to not give fans what they want for fear of being predictable. Not only did he become the #1 contender, but he did so in grand style by winning a spectacular elimination match (minus Great Khali’s brief participation). Even better, the fans were solidly behind Ziggler as the match progressed. The final minutes with him and Christian were as hot as any match on Monday Night Raw in a long time.
Ziggler and Sheamus are certain to have a great match. Ziggler has the mentality of going all out in every performance and Sheamus is no slouch in the ring either.
Do I expect Ziggler to win the belt on Sunday? I am not sure. It seems that the company is focused on giving Sheamus a lengthy run on top and I’m all for giving stability to the major championships. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of current WWE champion C.M. Punk, I do look at him in a different light since he has held the belt for nearly eight months. A reign for that long is a rarity in the current era of frequent title switches.
The company is also intent on getting Del Rio into the main event spotlight and it may very well be possible that Sheamus will move directly back into a feud with him. However, it would not totally surprise me if Ziggler were to win. If anything, he deserves it based on traditional wrestling booking. He has lost to Sheamus approximately 100 times in their matches this year on Raw and Smackdown. Okay, that is a slight exaggeration, but you get the drift. Sheamus will not gain anything in beating Ziggler once again, even in a fantastic match.
Regardless of the outcome Ziggler needs to come out of the match with a consistent push near the top of the card. With various wrestlers being suspended for an assortment of reasons along with injuries that frequently plague the roster, WWE should reward a talent like Ziggler for his consistent hard work and dedication to his craft.
This article was also featured on Wrestling Observer/ Figure Four Weekly Online at http://www.f4wonline.com/more/more-top-stories/118-daily-updates/26100-jeuron-dove-talks-ziggler-in-main-events
I just got back in from watching the WWE Extreme Rules PPV from Chicago. The following are my thoughts from the show:
I felt this was an excellent show overall. The three main matches delivered huge and everything else on the show was pretty good.
The show opened with Randy Orton beating Kane in a falls count anywhere match. It was better than I would’ve imagined going in. Both guys worked hard and had a fun little match that set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Cody Rhodes regained the Intercontinental title from Big Show in a tables match. Being they were in Chicago, the crowd was very into Rhodes. Show accidentally cost himself the match when his foot went through one of the tables on the outside. The crowd was very hot when Rhodes won. Afterwards, Show put him though two tables including throwing him through one on the outside of the ring. It was funny to see the crowd boo Show, who is one of the top fan favorites in the company. Referees and trainers came down to tend to Rhodes who refused their help and walked away on his own accord. The crowd cheered him big time as this was happening and it almost seemed this was a perfect setup to switch both guys. Rhodes could definitely be a fan favorite in the future.
Broadus Clay beat Dolph Ziggler in the exact type of match you would expect from these two. Nothing special, but Cameron and Naomi wore cool outfits and danced with more intensity than usual.
Sheamus retained the world title against Daniel Bryan in a 2 out of 3 falls match. This was excellent and was the type of match they were robbed of having at Wrestlemania. Bryan did a pre-match interview where he got easy heat on the Chicago audience, but was still cheered. AJ was shown in the background immediately following this, leading one to think she would play a role in the finish of the match. The two wrestled a very physically intense and technical contest.
Bryan got himself disqualified in the first fall by repeatedly kicking (I think they were kicks instead of punches, but I can’t recall) Sheamus after the referee had made the five count. Bryan worked on his arm and won the second fall with the Yes Lock. After some great teases, Sheamus won the deciding fall with the Brouge kick. This description doesn’t do justice to how good this match was. This was one of the first instances where Bryan got a chance to showcase his technical and submission ability in a long main event caliber match. And to his credit, Sheamus kept up with him every step of the way and did a great job of selling the effects of his arm being injured throughout the match. I know the plan is for Alberto Del Rio to start a program with Sheamus, but this match was so great that I would love for the feud to continue. Besides, I seriously doubt Del Rio and Sheamus could have a match of this quality.
C.M. Punk retained the WWE title against Chris Jericho in a Chicago street fight. Super hardcore match as there were a ton of kendo stick shots in addition to other weapons used. Both wore jeans which gave it a more realistic edge. Crowd was 100 percent behind Punk since he was the hometown hero. His family was at ringside and their reactions were featured on camera constantly throughout. The big spot was Punk doing a flying elbow onto Jericho though the Spanish announcers table from the top turnbuckle. There were many awesome spots in this match and both guys took some serious punishment. Punk pinned Jericho after a GTS and celebrated in the front row with his family afterwards. Tons better than their Wrestlemania match.
Layla returned and defeated Nikki Bella for the Divas title. A few spots were off, but Layla did some great athletic stuff and was moving really quick in just about everything she did. She won with a good looking neck breaker.
John Cena beat Brock Lesnar in an Extreme Rules match. Best match on the show and one of the best matches of the year from any promotion. The heat was unbelievable. The bar I watched the show in was so loud, but I could tell that Lesanr was heavily cheered. Not sure if there were a lot of Cena chants, but there may have been from the women and children. This had an atmosphere that few matches in recent history have had. A large part of it was that this match was worked totally unlike a traditional match, even by Extreme Rules standards.
The match started with Cena getting destroyed by Lesnar on the ground. This repeatedly happened and Cena was busted open in no time. Lesnar dominated Cena in a way no other wrestler ever has. The match was so believably worked that it was one of those rare moments where it seemed like the line between reality/storyline was blurred. The key spot came when Lesnar jumped from the ring steps (inside the ring) onto Cena who was on the apron. Lesnar overshot himself and ended up flipping over the ropes into a nasty landing on the floor. They redid the spot with Cena nailing Lesnar with his chain. Cena won after an Attitude Adjustment on the steps.
Even though Lesnar lost, I don’t really think the wrong man won. Any person watching this match came away with the conclusion that Lesnar was, by far, the toughest challenge Cena has faced in his eight years as the face of the company. The story of the match was that Cena had no real chance and was basically beat at nearly every turn, yet was able to capitalize on one advantage and win. Cena emerged victorious, yet Lesnar was the better man. I have no doubt there will be a rematch somewhere down the road. Contrary to the opinion of the internet wrestling community, I don’t think this loss hurt Lesnar at all. Cena did an interview after match putting over Chicago and the brutality of the match. This was a match of the year candidate and well worth going out of your way to see.
The road to Wrestlemania 28 got a little clearer after last Sunday’s Royal Rumble. The annual January spectacular is the second biggest event of the WWE calendar and serves as a preview of what lies ahead for the next two months leading up to Wrestlemania. This year’s 30-man Royal Rumble match was won by Sheamus.
Personally, I was rooting for Chris Jericho to win, but wasn’t disappointed at all with Sheamus emerging victorious. On the surface, it does appear that Sheamus has a heck of a lot more upside than Jericho. While Jericho is one of the best performers to ever step foot in a ring, he’s largely accomplished all there is to do in wrestling and clearly has nothing to prove to anyone. Looking back, it almost made perfect sense for Sheamus to go down to the wire with him. Jericho is an unselfish headliner who always does his best to elevate new talent. And the final few minutes of the Rumble match wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable had Sheamus finished with someone other than Jericho.
Sheamus is a young buff who the company is really getting behind to carry the future. He’s been the recipient of a notable push over the last several months and is often protected as far as his wins and losses are concerned. He’s a very good big-man type of worker and his unnaturally pale skin does allow him to stand out as something unique in the current WWE landscape.
There are still two months to go until Wrestlemania and things are always subject to change, but it’s pretty safe to say that Sheamus will be challenging for the world heavyweight title in one of the main matches at the biggest stage of the year. Hopefully, he will win the title since the winners of the last four Royal Rumble matches were unsuccessful in capturing their respective brand’s title at Wrestlemania (thus rendering the Rumble as kind of useless).
Apparently, there are big plans in store for Sheamus and I’m happy for him. I’m always thrilled to see new blood rise to the top. Last year was the year that C.M. Punk finally broke through into the upper echelon and it appears that Sheamus will join him at that level in 2012.