Tuesday, February 28, 2012

WWE Raw - February 27, 2012

Earlier today, I took an in-depth look at the final segment of last night's Raw, these are my thoughts on the rest of the show.

It's hard to complain when a show begins with the promise of Daniel Bryan vs. CM Punk, but makes you wait while we take a detour to CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho on the microphone. I wasn't completely sold on the beef these two had since it originally amounted to:

Chris Jericho: I came back because you ripped me off.
CM Punk: I didn't rip you off, here's a list of ways I didn't rip you off, and by the way, you're too busy being a dancing star and a rock star to still call yourself 'best wrestler in the world.'
Chris Jericho: You ripped me off.

But once the intention to have the best WrestleMania match ever became clear, I got on board. I'm sure these two have been instructed to keep the shooty-shooty stuff to a minimum since that's Rock and Cena's thing and yes, I'm going to continue calling it "shooty-shooty," but I'm sure they'll continue to ramp it up on the mic in the coming weeks. They have the added benefit of being able to talk face to face every show, Rock and Cena do not.

CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan was not as fun as it was last week, but that's to be expected when run on Raw instead of Smackdown. I'm not understanding why they're shoehorning the Teddy Long/John Laurinaitis story here though, it worked last week, but felt forced last night, especially with the addition of Santino and Otunga. I don't really have a problem with Ace vs. T-Lo, it seems like something that could wait until after WrestleMania, but WWE's trying way too hard with it. I'm sure it's building to the big multi-man match at Mania, but it fell short of being an organic weaving of stories and just became a giant clusterfuck.

Liontamer on top of the stage was cool though.

I was about a half hour behind for most of Raw last night, which luckily allowed me to fast-forward through Kelly Kelly vs. Bella Twin.

John Cena vs. The Miz was annoying. I don't know who Miz pissed off or why, but like a pro, he's taking it like a champ with his head held high. At least they're giving him mic time before every match, unfortunately it's always a match where he's easily defeated. I don't mind Cena beating him or even making him tap out, but couldn't we come up with something a little more creative than "Miz dominates early, Cena goes through the Signature Move Rolodex, match over?"

I really liked Epico & Primo vs. Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger though. The match made sense, Truth and Kofi beat the champs on Raw, Ziggler & Swaggs beat Truth & Kofi on Smackdown, so everyone gets a title shot. Perfectly logical steps to take, I really like triple threat tag matches, and I thought everyone brought their A-game to the match. Epico & Primo looked impressive for the first time ever and got a decisive win, it could be their chance to breakout... if WWE cared about the tag division.

The Kane stuff after the match was stupid though. The boot to the face outside the ring was NASTY, but it's Kane, this is how it always goes - cool return, all downhill from there. I do think the inevitable showdown with Zack Ryder at WrestleMania could be a great giant killer story, so long as Ryder's momentum hasn't been completely destroyed.

Kudos to Eve for trying to salvage something from that train wreck last week, but she doesn't have the chops to pull it off. It's not her fault, WWE's never bothered to give her anything resembling a personality before and she wasn't expected to have one, so it didn't really work here. Again, I don't think there's anything wrong with Eve as a seductive Siren, but it doesn't really work when you're explaining your evil plan directly to the world, you're not a James Bond villain. I'll honestly be surprised if Eve survives the next big round of cuts, that's not a slam against her, that's just the way it goes in WWE and she's nearing her Diva Expiration Date anyway.

The over-hyped "Board of Directors announcement" turned out to be Teddy Long taking over Raw for a week and John Laurinaitis taking over Smackdown. I wish my employer tackled disputes this way, "do his job for a week and he'll do yours, problem solved!"

Cody Rhodes & Mark Henry vs. Big Show & Sheamus did give us Another Great Big Show WrestleMania Moment, but there wasn't much of a match here. I assume Henry's still working through injury, so it was really just an excuse for Cody & Show to do their thing and give Sheamus someone to hit with the Brogue Kick.

Shawn Michaels returns to Raw next week, expect a lot of snark over the word "returns," even though he was on two weeks ago... because you know, Shawn Michaels showing up is such a frequent occurrence. #RiseAboveCynicism

I covered The Rock's dismal promo last night in the promo linked to at the start of this review, but just a couple additional thoughts on the situation after wading through the commentariat thing morning.

I've seen a lot of folks saying Rock stumbling at the end was all part of the story to make it look like Cena can rattle him after all. I doubt that's the case, I don't think they would've given The Rock the last word if the point was to give Cena the win this week. Regardless, since the whole story is shooty-shooty, from here on out, I'm just going to talk about it like it's being presented. I have more fun commenting on wrestling stories like I would a movie or TV show anyway, it's only when WWE does something so ridiculous that takes me out of the story that I have to break things down from the IWC lens.

It's rare we're going to get something like this, so why not let yourself get wrapped up in it? The Rock looks like a bigger phony than Cena ever has and "Kung Pao Bitch" is one of the dumbest things ever, so I'm officially Team Cena at this point. I know the crowd won't boo The Rock and they'll boo anything Cena does because he's Cena, but everything about John Cena vs. The Rock has made The Rock completely unlikable. His "get out of my ring" at Survivor Series when he hadn't wrestled in almost eight damn years, pitting the crowd against the locker room last night, being filmed in his fancy limo... The Rock is a carpetbagger.

Rock Gingrich

Much like Gingrich, The Rock's message
can't stand up to scrutiny.
The last time Dwayne Johnson hosted Saturday Night Live, it was in early 2009 with musical guest, Ray LaMontagne. It was a solid episode, nothing as great as the first time he hosted with AC/DC and we got amazing sketches like "Nicotrel", "Papa Peepers" and The Rock as an undercover cop dressed as a prostitute on "The Lady's Man with Leon Phelps." Still, there was one sketch on Rock's 2009 appearance that really stood out, "The Rock Obama", featuring Fred Armisen as Barack Obama, trying to keep his cool as bad news and outraged commentary surrounded his first 100 days in office, and Johnson as The Rock Obama, Barack's angry, Incredible Hulk-like alter-ego. A hilarious idea, topical and something only The Rock could pull off.

Perhaps WWE should've worked on getting The Rock on SNL to hype WrestleMania rather than last night's Raw.

I don't know what happened last night, but I can't think of a time when The Rock was that bad. Even when he's just popping in to spew catchphrases (which is always), it's still fun, it's The Rock! You get to do the sing-along thing, Rock will get a zinger or two in, the crowd goes bonkers, he disappears for a few months, rinse, repeat. But The Rock's first appearance (I think?) since Survivor Series was a complete bomb; oh sure, the crowd was bonkers, but I suspect that's because they got The Rock and last week's crowd got the worst WWE moment in years, but that was not a good moment for ol' Dwayne.

The biggest mistake was opening with "yeah I know said I was never leaving again, but you're smart enough to know that I was lying." Obviously no one expected The Rock to be on Raw every week and we all knew he meant he wasn't going to be taking another seven-year vacation, but it was a gaffe to say it in the first place and an even bigger one to try to spin it like he did. Considering he named-dropped Roddy Piper later in his promo, perhaps he should've tried to equate his absences to the Hot Rod's. He could say something to the effect of while he may step away from WWE TV, he's out there raising awareness of WWE in his high-profile appearances in blockbuster movies and numerous talk show appearances. It's hard to find a better brand ambassador than The Rock, Cena certainly doesn't have his mainstream appeal.

Rock only made matters worse when he attacked Cena for "fighting for the guys in the back." Rock claimed no one fought for him and while Cena fights for the guys in the back, Rock fights for the people. So basically The Rock created a situation where it's him and the WWE fans against John Cena and the WWE wrestlers? I've often worried that The Rock's return highlights how much bigger he is than the rest of the locker room, but I never thought he'd come right out and say it. That's almost as bad as when Triple H made himself the only good guy against the revolting locker room last fall.

The rest of the promo was nothing but catchphrases and nonsense (Kung Pao Bitch, really?) until John Cena showed up and saved the segment. Yes, Cena saved the day and totally threw The Rock off his game, by saying he's not even sweating their WrestleMania match because he knows he's not fighting The Rock, he's fighting Dwayne. The Rock, visibly shaken after the exchange, basically responded with "Nuh-uh, The Rock and Dwayne are TOTALLY the same guy because I say so... smell what The Dwayne is cookin!"

I felt bad for The Rock by the time it was all over. Cena showed up and killed his momentum with just a few sentences, despite The Rock whipping the crowd into a frenzy for 25 minutes with his psycho babble baby talk. Don't get me wrong, The Rock can control a crowd like no one else, but when there's no substance behind his words, we drift away from entertainer and into cult leader territory.

It reminds me very much of the Republican presidential primary race that essentially began around the time Dwayne did the Rock Obama sketch. You could probably make this point about any of the crazies that have popped up in the race, as they all share many qualities with The Rock's performance last night: Donald Trump (celebrity), Sarah Palin (psycho babble baby talk, writing notes on hand), Ron Paul (cult leader), Herman Cain (smooth talker who makes no sense), or Rick Santorum (rampant homophobia), but there's one that really stands out - Newt Gingrich.

Much like The Rock, Newt was a superstar in the 90s that rapidly rose to power when the public began to grow frustrated with the establishment. Newt ended a generation of Democratic rule in congress and is largely responsible for the modern conservative movement, The Rock helped end the "New Generation" and is largely responsible for the Attitude Era and modern professional wrestling. Gingrich vs. Clinton and The Rock vs. Austin were the defining rivalries of the 90s, they both relied on catchphrases and buzzwords to work the crowd (or media) in their favor, and though it was for wildly different reasons, they both left in the height of their popularity.

But neither really went away, Newt slinked away to write several best-selling books while The Rock went on to make blockbuster movies and when the time was right, they both returned to what made them famous. Immediately upon their returns, they threw out some red meat to their base: Newt Gingrich complained about gay people, The Rock made gay jokes about John Cena. The Rock rambles about Kung Pao chicken, Newt talks about colonizing the moon, neither really make any sense, but when it comes out of the mouths of these particular men, it warrants discussion based on their names alone.

This is the way both men operate, they know how to rile up their audience and get people talking, but once you scratch the surface, things start to fall apart. Whether it's Newt's hilarious hypocrisy on family values despite cheating on two of his ex-wives while they were both gravely ill, or The Rock twisting himself in a pretzel on "never leaving again," they're not as bulletproof as they think are.

Meanwhile, John Cena's been taking a beating from all angles. Some of it's justified, he hasn't moved the dial upward for WWE, despite being promoted as the company's #1 guy for seven years, and sometimes he can really disappoint, whether it's in the ring or something like he did to Eve last week. But on top of valid criticisms, he has to deal with an audience that largely agrees with his message, they just hate the messenger too much to see it. He also has to deal with people with crazy eyes, like Kane and a guy who uses way too much bronzer, like The Miz. Sound like a certain President you might know?

Obviously I'm not saying that Dwayne Johnson the man is as vile and disgusting as Newt Gingrich, but in terms of his performance last night, it was positively Newtonian. He threw out the red meat, he spun the negatives into positives, went on and on about Twitter, and had the crowd believing his bullshit, no matter how crazy (seriously... Kung Pao Bitch? That deserves another "Really?!"), but two minutes of scrutiny shattered the illusion. Cena did more in those two minutes than The Rock did in 25 and the only people that should surprise are the Cena haters. Those of us who have been watching the guy with a fair eye for seven years know he can work that mic like Obama works a teleprompter, he just doesn't need to show off every time like The Rock does.

If The Rock wants to hold onto this lead he has in the polls, he's going to need to do a lot more than "Arrive. Gay Joke. Leave.", otherwise, he could find himself flaming out spectacularly. He certainly has the home field advantage at WrestleMania, but so does Mitt Romney tonight in Michigan and he's trailing the guy whose name is defined as "the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is often the byproduct of anal sex."

Oh and "frothy mixture?" Now trending worldwide.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Are We Having Fun Yet?!"

Monday night during Raw, I noticed a guy in the crowd that had an "ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?!" sign and mentioned on Twitter that if it was a Party Down reference, it would be the sign of the year. Well, I just got this tweet from @jo3yHuds
@kickoutblog Thanks for seeing our Are We Having Fun Yet sign. We were actually dressed as the Party Down crew

You guys are awesome. Hope you had a good time being present at Raw even though you weren't allowed to look up at the pyro.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

WWE Smackdown - February 21, 2012

Coming off an infuriating episode of Raw, let's see if I can make it through the show that features a woman who farts.

Daniel Bryan is a nice way to kick off a show though. Bryan's not modest about his victory in the Elimination Chamber and brags that he's going to the main event* of WrestleMania. Of course, his celebration was cut short at the PPV thanks to Sheamus and now he's being interrupted by The Miz? Of course, The Miz takes credit for Bryan becoming the champion that he is, but then goes onto propose the two form a tag team. But before we can find out more about the Awesome Vegans, Sheamus interrupts. And seeing as how Bryan's dance card is full tonight, it looks like Sheamus vs. Miz is on the docket for Uber Smackdown.

And after commercial, we're officially official, The Miz vs. Sheamus is our opening contest. Sheamus has been plowing through people as of late and Miz (sigh) hasn't, but it's nice to see this one already getting a decent amount of time and Miz getting a chance to control the match. The Miz will not be the Jerry Flynn to Sheamus's Goldberg! Okay, he'll be the Raven to Sheamus's Goldberg, but that's progress! Sheamus wins with the Celtic Cross, but Miz really needed a match like this, it's the best he's looked since the Awesome Truth split.

Kofi Kingston & R-Truth continue their new alliance, taking on Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger, but their momentum from beating the tag champs last night is short-lived thanks to a fairly quick win for Cougar's Cubs. I still dig the prospect of Kofi and Truth teaming, but letting them win would probably be beneficial in the long run.

So The Great Khali was eliminated from the Elimination Chamber and last night's battle royal in mere seconds, so to make up for it, he gets to beat Drew McIntyre in mere seconds.

WWE, don't try to promote the Twitter war between CM Punk and Chris Brown. I know you love media attention and 1000 responses on Facebook in three minutes is mighty tempting, but just quit while you're behind. After last night's debacle, you don't need to go anywhere near a notorious woman beater. Not that I think it's a story or that Brown would ever agree to do something with WWE when the premise would be that he's a woman beater, but don't look like you're profiting off it, it's not going to end well. Do not feed the TMZ beast.

In more pleasant news, Big Show vs. Mark Henry is our 9pm main event and I've loved the work from these two in the last year, so hopefully this match will at least be fun. Big Show in control until Cody Rhodes interferes with "Another Embarrassing Big Show WrestleMania Moment," which while wordy, is an awesome way for a bad guy to get under Big Show's skin. With Show's dismal Mania record, they can definitely keep this going through the entire lead up to WrestleMania, but I did have my heart set on Cody vs. Goldust.

Ezekiel Jackson vs. David Otunga in a rematch from last night up next and Otunga's not just a lawyer, he's an athlete! Have you been injured in an accident? Call the law offices of Otunga, Otunga & Cowabunga and you too can kick Ezekiel Jackson's ass. 2 for 2, the man is on a roll!

Great backstage promo from CM Punk, hyping his match with Daniel Bryan. That's the stuff.

And finally, it's Main Event (and clobberin') time! Champion vs. Champion, CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan and there's still 20 minutes left in the show! But just as things are getting going... Sheamus interferes and Punk wins?! COME ON, there's still 13 minutes left!

Oh thank you, Executive Vice President of Talent Relations, Interim General Manager of Raw and Soon-to-Be Permanent General Manager of Raw and Smackdown, John Laurinaitis, due to outside interference, the match will continue! It's only fair! Plus we still got nine minutes!

And the shenanigans continue! Bryan wins by holding the ropes, so T-Lo comes out and restarts the match again. Okay, it's a little ridiculous, but great stuff for free TV. Awesome back and forth wrasslin' with each guy making the other look like a bajillion dollars and then we end with a double pin?! When's the last time we saw that? GM shenanigans aside, it was the perfect end for this match with these two particular stars.

Overall, a good start and a great finish with a lot of just okay stuff in between. But much like the last live Smackdown, it ended with a hell of a match so I won't complain too much... except for the fact that they re-aired the Eve/Cena bit and begged for TMZ to pay attention to them with the Chris Brown crap. You're on thin ice this week, WWE, but a strong ending like Punk and Bryan taking each other to the limit helps.

WWE's trouble with women

24 hours after one of the best women's matches in the last decade between Beth Phoenix and Tamina Snuka, WWE pissed away their goodwill by having Eve inexplicably turn heel. Further, they had her explicitly state she was using Zack Ryder for fame and intended to use John Cena to the same end, only to have it all blow up in her face and have John Cena reduce her to tears seconds later by calling her "hoeski," "bitch," and then express concern that her "skankjuice" might give him a "disease."

Naturally, it was the biggest pop Cena's got in quite awhile.

In my Elimination Chamber review, I lamented that the only thing that hurt the Phoenix/Tamina match was the dead crowd, but you couldn't blame them when they've been conditioned for years to look at the Divas as nothing more than wrestling vaginas. Same thing happened with the crowd going bonkers to Cena verbally degrading Eve, they're going to cheer for it because she's a conniving gold-digging bitch with herpes and should be shamed for it, right!?

In all honesty, I have no problem with the fame-hungry bitch character. It's a bit cliché, but wrestling certainly isn't above cliché and it's present all throughout entertainment. Without it, reality TV would evaporate and Cee-Lo Green wouldn't have anything to write about, but if you're going to do it, at least build toward it. But that's how little WWE concerns themselves with the Divas, a female character can do a complete 180 in one show and it'll be fine because who cares, it's just a Diva. They'd never be allowed to get away with that with a male character that has gotten as much TV time as Eve has in the last two months. She went from horror movie victim at the end of last week's show to Kardashian sister at the beginning of the next. That's laughably bad.

And then it went from laughable to just plain offensive thanks to Cena's rant. I understand pulling the plug on the story, it was stupid and not something Cena needed dragging him down this close to what is being hyped as the biggest match in WWE history, but come on, slut-shaming and STD jokes? Really? A teary-eyed Eve literally throwing herself at Cena was just the icing on this shit cake, basically summing up the entire segment with a "LOL, bitches and their emotions, am I right, fellas?" I was waiting for Rick Santorum to show up at any moment.

I don't mind a woman being the target of a guy's anger or snark in a story, I don't even mind a woman being called a bitch when she's acting like a bitch or a guy being called a dick when he's acting like a dick (though I'm sure MANY will disagree with that and have a valid counterpoint), but why is it that women in WWE can only be defined by their gender? WWE Divas are never anything more than girlfriend, damsel in distress, bully that makes fun of someone over their looks, conniving gold-digger, or fat old pig if you're Vickie Guerrero, and that's it.

I hate when people try to look clever by complaining, "lulz, B.A. Star, the Bellas bully people every show." It's okay to have bully characters and then do anti-bullying PSAs because you're supposed to boo the bully, but when Cena, the face of the company and the face of this campaign is being the bully, that is a problem. Yes, Eve's character is suddenly bad, but Cena didn't "rise above hate," nor did he "embrace" it, he just came off like a dickish meathead. A frat boy who overcompensated after his friends gave him a hard time about the chick he hooked up with last week.

WWE, you're my team, but like seeing a Bengal get arrested every week or the rampant sexual harassment that goes on during halftime of a New York Jets game, this stuff makes me embarrassed to be a fan. I can't excuse it like I did when I was 14 and thought it was "edgy," because it's not edgy, it's stupid. And while you're certainly not alone, the video game, comic book and music industries are often just as bad and perhaps even more cynical about it, that doesn't make it okay. I don't think (or I at least don't want to think) this presentation of women is malicious, but the ignorance is staggering. It's 2012, we really shouldn't need to have this conversation.

Monday, February 20, 2012

WWE Raw thoughts - February 20, 2012

Oh what the hell, let's live blog! Can't guarantee I'll make it through the whole show since 5 a.m. comes mighty early, but let's have some fun!

So Eve is an asshole now? She admits in front of a television camera that she was using Zack Ryder to get to John Cena and she's going to use John Cena to get famous? John Cena heard it all and heads to the ring, then recaps what happened exactly twenty seconds ago. Jesus Christ, John Cena has The Rock in 40-something days and we're wasting time with this? Really? John Cena calling a woman a ho, a skank, a bitch and STD-ridden? This is what we need to be doing? Way to BAStar, Johnny.

Jesus Christ, WWE. What on earth made you think that segment was a good idea? I'm all for pulling the plug on the Eve/Cena/Ryder love triangle, but holy shit, that was the absolute worst thing you could've done. The only way that could've been even more terrible is if Cena made her bark like a dog.

Anyway, Smackdown is live tomorrow. Last time kinda sucked, but we did get that awesome Daniel Bryan/Mark Henry cage match, and we're getting Bryan vs. Punk this time, so it can't be all bad.

Sheamus vs. Mark Henry is our opening contest and hopefully Raw can dust itself off after that abomination of an opening segment. Fun match, but since it's a Raw match, it was too short. Sheamus picks up a definitive win with the Brogue Kick, good stuff to make him look like a beast in the lead up to WrestleMania.

The Rock's on Raw next week, maybe if he were on tonight, he could've saved us from that opening segmnet. Or he would've talked about Eve's pie.

Kofi Kingston & R-Trtuh vs. Primo & Epico up next in a non-title match. Another short one, but Kofi and Truth pick up the win. TrueBoom? Lil' Kofis? Spiders in Paradise? Whatever you want to call them, I'm fine with them teaming up through the Mania madness, but I'd like to see both guys get back in the title hunt in the Summer.

Ron Simmons is the next inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame. Long overdue.

David Otunga vs. Ezekiel Jackson is up next to prove whether or not David Otunga can beat anyone on Smackdown. I'm cool with this, Zeke needs more to do and Otunga's been on fire lately, so let them do their thing. But Otunga picking up a decisive and clean win? Man, tough break for Zeke these days, but it definitely looks like they're getting serious about Otunga, which I'm totally fine with. Still, I miss ECW Zeke.

And finally, THE UNDERTAKER is here to make everything better. And he's wearing the Hoodie of Death™ to hide his new look. Classic Taker promo and he's getting through it like the consummate pro he is, despite the fucking morons in the crowd chanting "WHUT?!" Taker calls out Triple H and Mr. Suit and Tie surprisingly shows his face, despite being a total coward for the last three weeks.

Oh, and Taker screaming "SHUT UP!" at Triple H? Awesome. Pure awesome extract.

Triple H whines about how beating The Undertaker would be "bad for business," but Taker calls him on his bullshit and says "is it bad for business if I'm gone, or is it bad for business if you're gone?" I just felt a quiver in my leg. Oh and "you know you can't get the job done because Shawn Michaels was better than you." Ouch.

After a lot of grandstanding, Triple H finally accepts, on one condition... HELL IN A CELL. I did NOT see that coming, but yeah, that's how you do Triple H vs. The Undertaker again and keep people interested. Undertaker's smirk for Triple H falling right into his plan was a nice touch too. We didn't get to see the new look though, bummer. But seriously, HELL IN A CELL at WrestleMania between the two guys that defined the match? Well played, WWE.

Daniel Bryan vs. Santino in a rematch of sorts from last night, but since Triple H can be a little long winded at times, this one is pretty much a LeBell Lock. Easy win for mah boy D-Bry.

Alright, that terrible Divas match and the prospect of more John Cena are my cue to tap out on the live blog. If anything interesting happens, I'll finish the review tomorrow, but spoiler: Jericho wins and Cena makes gay jokes. And nothing tops Undertaker's awesomeness all week. Thanks for playing!


And we're back. I did actually catch the rest of Raw in bed and turns out, it was more eventful than I thought it would be.

Let's start with John Cena's promo, which was so good, it pissed me off. John, you're a stand-up guy, you're the face of the company, you dropped lines in this promo that you claimed would get you fined, so clearly you're in a position to veto certain stories... so why the hell did you agree to that horribleness in the opening minutes of the show? My only guesses are A. you only get to Ruck Fules once per show, or B. you didn't have any objections to it. If the answer is B, we need to have a chat because you're better than that. That video package of you working with the FCW guys, your Make-A-Wish work, you're clearly an awesome person, so stop calling women skankapotamus, please.

The promo was Reverend Cena at his best, although a little more fire and brimstone than usual. Of course, the crowd still booed him despite the fact that he's the one that stayed and The Rock's the one that left and pops in to occasionally pander, but that's just the way it's going to be for John throughout this feud. And just for the record, I don't have an issue with Rock leaving, but if it were any other two guys in the same situation, the crowd would make this an entirely different story.

The main event Battle Royal, while predictable, was really good for a battle royal... with the exception of the heartbreaking injury that happened to Wade Barrett. I missed it on first viewing, I was too busy freaking out over Dolph Ziggler's neck and body being several feet apart on the announce table. I was mortified when they brought out the stretcher, but then noticed it was Barrett who wasn't moving. I suppose it's fortunate that he didn't need the stretcher after all, but his arm definitely got messed up when Ziggler landed on him and the pain, agony and anger was abundantly clear upon re-watching. It's really upsetting to see someone who knows they just lost several months of their career, that's time he'll never get back and it's incredibly unfortunate. Get well soon, Wade!

As expected, Chris Jericho won the match, but seemed more concerned with checking on Barrett, which I thought was pretty awesome. And with that, the stage is set: Punk vs. Jericho, Rock vs. Cena, Bryan vs. Sheamus and Triple H vs. Undertaker: Hell in a Cell will be our quadruple main event at WrestleMania. That's a damn solid bill on paper, but WWE's got some work to do in the build-up.

Raw could've been good in spite of the obscenely short matches, the battle royal was great and the HHH/Taker bit, while guilty of its usual grandstanding, had an excellent payoff... but that opening segment was so bad, so intelligence-insulting, so pointlessly offensive, it put a bad taste in my mouth that didn't even begin to subside until Ron Simmons was announced for the Hall of Fame. I'll have more on that in a column later today, but it really hurt the show. It's WrestleMania season, WWE, you don't need to pander to the lowest common denominator.

Time to end the brand split

I've long been a defender of the brand split and multiple World Championships. I always thought merging the belts and unifying the rosters would lead to too many guys losing their gig and their card placement, but after watching the last two WWE PPVs, I just don't see the need for it anymore.

During last night's Elimination Chamber, we saw a Raw Superstar defend the US Title against a Smackdown guy and Santino Marella challenge for the World Championship... in a match that also had to feature the Great Khali. And the Royal Rumble, while incredibly fun, struggled to fill the ring with 30 big name Superstars. When Epico, Primo and an Uso made it in, on top of the fact they had several gimmicky entries like Road Dogg, Hacksaw and Kharma, you know the roster isn't as loaded as it was ten years ago.

And that's okay! WWE's been getting back to basics and we no longer have the star overload that the remnants of the Attitude Era left us with. Right now, the only true HUGE name WWE has is John Cena; Triple H is part-time at best, Undertaker works once a year, Jericho is in Roddy Piper mode, and Rey Mysterio is shelved at least three months out of the year. The Rock could pop in and out now and then, Batista might return and who knows, we may still get one last Stone Cold match, but let's face facts: the 1998-2005 WWE is long gone.

In its place, we have CM Punk, who is on the cusp of something big and then a bunch of guys who are kinda big, but not really. And that's all they'll ever be as long as WWE oversaturates their programming with too many titles and too many brands. It worked when the Attitude Era overlapped the Cena era, but we're in the beginning of something new now and there has never been a better opportunity to get back to basics.

Yes, it may mean some guys will get shunted down the card, but what difference does it make when the World Championship match is the fourth most important match at WrestleMania? And that's assuming they don't come up with some kind of big special attraction like the rumored Big Show vs. Shaquille O'Neal match. Simply keeping the World Title around and Smackdown as a separate show doesn't make Sheamus and Bryan bigger deals, it just makes the World Title and Smackdown look lesser. Bryan and Sheamus will no doubt tear it up at Mania, but do you think the Miami crowd is going to be as into it as Rock vs. Cena, Triple H vs. Undertaker or even Punk vs. Jericho? Of course not, and that's okay, let's just stop pretending it needs to have a World Title involved to make it a great match.

So let's just get on with it and merge the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships and US and Intercontinental Championships. I don't care when they do it, Night of Champions, SummerSlam, or WrestleMania 29, let's just make it happen. It'll instantly increase the value of the WWE and IC Championships, guys in contention for them will seem like bigger deals and WWE will have to come up with new reasons and stories for guys to feud other than "it's my turn to get a shot at the title."

I can't think of a better way to shake up the program, get people talking and make wrestlers feel like Superstars again.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

WWE Elimination Chamber 2012 review

Match order is important. It can't make a bad PPV good, but it can make a good PPV bad.

When the Raw Elimination Chamber Match kicked things off, I thought for sure we were in store for a twist heavy show. It wouldn't exactly be earth-shattering, Elimination Chamber has overtaken Survivor Series as the shenanigans PPV, but I definitely thought something was up. No wonkiness in this match though as it was just a straight up fantastic Elimination Chamber.

My chief concern going in was that it had to end with Punk or Jericho winning and there would be no way to make them both look good and worthy of wrestling each other at Mania. Luckily, WWE played it to perfection, with Punk sneaking in a nasty kick on Jericho, who was busy humiliating Kofi Kingston. Jericho tossed Kofi out of the ring ala Uncle Phil throwing Jazz out of the house, but Punk's kick sent him flying out of the ring and hitting his head on debris in the aisle. Refs took Jericho out the match which allowed Punk to retain his title by defeating The Miz.

Other highlights of the match include Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, and anything else involving Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler. Yeah, these two were awesome, bouncing all around the Chamber like pinballs and Kofi's tornado DDT off the chains was, well, off the chain. Punk may have won the thing, but this was really a coming out party for Ziggler and Kofi, which is kind of a shame since these guys have had numerous star-making performances and still can't quite get there. I don't know what the hold up is, but their work tonight basically screamed "can we get a fucking push already?"

Santino's Rocky spoofs, while a bit cliché, were really funny and a great way to get the crowd excited for him being in the Chamber match.

Beth Phoenix vs. Tamina Snuka was easily one of the ten best Divas matches in the last ten years. It's amazing what happens when you let female wrestlers wrestle, they have actual wrestling matches rather than 30-second "hey, look at the women who work here" segments. I really don't have a problem with the Eves and Kelly Kellys of the world, they're obviously not as good as the Beths, Taminas and Natalyas, but if you let the women go out there and wrestle like this, everyone will get better.

This match, as good as it was, could've been so much better if the crowd were into it. That's not their fault though, after a decade of WWE conditioning them to look at this as the nacho break, what do you expect? Still, kudos to WWE for finally doing something right in the Divas division, the first since anything involving Kharma.

John Laurinaitis and the parade of returning heels was nice, but as I suspected, no big announcement was made... unless you count Ace wanting to be the General Manager of Raw and Smackdown a big announcement, which I don't since Otunga was talking about it a week ago. Still, it was a fun segment, brought back Christian, Mark Henry & Alberto Del Rio and gave us this:

So I'd consider it a successful bit.

The Smackdown Elimination Chamber going on next was just bizarre though, confirming that John Cena vs. Kane in an Ambulance Match would headline the Elimination Chamber PPV. Sigh.

So the match started off really slow with Wade Barrett and Big Show not really clicking and I feared it would suffer from odd placement and lack of importance. Luckily, once Santino got involved, the match was saved. Yes, Santino Marella saved a match and the crowd was absolutely bonkers for him. Great Khali's instant elimination didn't hurt things either.

Business really picked up when Big Show became determined to get his hands on Daniel Bryan, even going so far as to break the chains (Dokken style) at the top of Bryan's pod and climb into it. Show mauling Bryan in an enclosed space was really clever and showed there's still room for innovation inside Satan's Structure. Big Show really deserves praise for working his ass off in this match, he's still underrated as a performer, whether wrasslin' purists want to admit it or not.

Everything from that point on was excellent with Bryan getting tossed around like a rag doll, Cody Rhodes & Barrett teaming up to take out Show, and Santino just being awesome. Barrett powerbombing Bryan into the chains and just barely missing them was NASTY! and then slamming his head in the pod door was NASTY².

I knew when it came down to Bryan, Barrett and Santino though that this was all leading to Bryan solidifying his status as a great bad guy by making Santino tap out. Santino made it an exciting finish at least, perhaps even the best since Mysterio vs. Edge a few years back, but this was Bryan's moment to be Top Dickhead.

Sheamus made his WrestleMania intentions clear after the match, hitting Bryan with the Celtic Cross. It's not the most exciting WrestleMania match ever, but the World Title match never will be. And it is impressive that after getting bumped off the card last year, they're main eventing* this year. And by "main eventing," I mean "probably opening the show," but the World Title is on the line, that's pretty damn cool for both guys.

After an intelligence-insulting backstage segment, Teddy Long setup an impromptu US Title match with Jack Swagger defending against Justin Gabriel. It was as exciting as it sounds. Swagger won, woopity-doo.

John Cena vs. Kane in an Ambulance Match was our main event. Oooooooookay? Well surely with this match going on last, something crazy's going to happen? Zack Ryder's going to show up and turn heel? Maybe even a Rock cameo? Nope. Nothing. Just a straight up Kane vs. John Cena match that climbed slightly abover Raw main event territory thanks to Kane chokeslamming Cena through the Spanish Announce Table and Cena doing his B-PPV Attitude Adjustment off something really high.

It wasn't a bad match, probably the best it could've been, but it had no business being the main event of the show, especially without something big afterward. Seriously, even The Rock showing up for the obligatory "let's stare at each other while the WrestleMania sign looms over us" would've justified it, but this just sucked the air out of the PPV. Had this match gone on in any other spot and a Chamber match headlined, it would've worked fine.

And that pretty much sums up the entire PPV. If the match order would've been completely reversed, it would've been a great show, but instead, it turned out to be just okay. The first three matches ranged from good to excellent, but ending with filler and then an Ambulance Match dragged us down. I assume they won't repeat this mistake in six weeks.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Black History Month - February 16

February 16 - Junkyard Dog
People loooooooooooooved JYD. Talk about charisma, few had it more than Junkyard Dog. If you can get your hands on an unedited copy of the first WrestleMania, watching the crowd EXPLODE for JYD while Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" plays is one of the coolest entrances in wrestling history. Few guys had entrance music at that event, just Hogan, Wendi Richter (who came to the ring with Cyndi Lauper) and JYD. It's odd that something so simple, that we take for granted now, would say something about his legacy, but it does.

Oh wow, I found it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Black History Month - February 10-15

Fell way behind again, apologies. Going to do something a little different to catch up:

February 10 - Ezekiel Jackson

WrestleMania 29 heading to East Rutherford, NJ

At least the logo is awesome
WWE has lost their minds.

East Rutherford, N.J.’s MetLife Stadium has played host to the NFL Playoffs, two NCAA college tournaments, five international team soccer games, and historic concerts from the likes of U2, The Eagles and Bon Jovi. And now, it’s getting its first WrestleMania.

For the first time, The Show of Shows is headed to New Jersey's MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Jets and the Super Bowl XLVI Champion New York Giants, will host WrestleMania XXIX on Sunday, April 7, 2013.

New Jersey. In April. Outdoors. Even with their Uber Tarp they've used for WrestleMania 24 and 26, this strikes me as a really bad idea. Football fans are crazy enough to be outside in the dead of winter, and I would assume wrestling fans can handle it during baseball season, but I don't think this is good for the wrestlers. What happens if it's 40 degrees outside? Are we really expecting guys in speedos to put on a WrestleMania-level performance? I've been to outdoor concerts when it's that cold and guys have trouble playing guitar, and WWE's expecting their guys to put on the most physical matches of the year?

I hope Randy Orton is ready for some serious shrinkage.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Black History Month - February 6-9

Apologies for totally falling behind on this!

February 6 - D'Lo Brown
I will never get why D'Lo wasn't a massive star. The guy was rock solid in the ring, had a unique look and was very charismatic. His last (and very brief) run with WWE was especially heartbreaking because I thought it would turn into something, but alas, it was not to be. D'Lo will go down in history as one of the biggest missed opportunities of the Attitude Era, but he could've been so much more. And the Lo Down was badass.

February 7 - "Big Cat" Ernie Ladd
Ernie Ladd was one of the first to make it big in both real sports and professional wrestling and as far as I know, is one of the very few men to be a Hall of Famer in both sports ("sports"). William Perry is in WWE's celebrity wing, but I can't think of anyone else that's a Hall of Famer for a football team (in Ladd's case, the Chargers) and WWE's wrestling-specific Hall of Fame.

February 8 - Shelton Benjamin
Speaking of missed opportunities. Shelton obviously had limitations in WWE, but there are more than a handful of people who were less talented overall that made it further than Benjamin did. In a different era, a guy like Benjamin strikes me as one of those guys that would've bounced between promotions and improved with each new journey. At age 36, I don't know if we'll ever see Shelton back in a WWE ring, but I wouldn't complain.

February 9 - Booker T
Booker T, on the other hand, is a bona fide success story. In an industry not known for being the most racially progressive, Booker shattered barriers and succeeded in spite of them. Whether it was tag team wrestling, technical showcases in the TV Title division, persevering through something as ridiculous as GI Bro, and becoming a 100% legitimate World Champion (six times, no less), Booker did it all. And since his semi-retirement, Booker has transitioned into the role of color commentator, where he's the most refreshing voice since Tazz. And no, I will not hear a bad word about Booker's commentary, ever.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

WWE Raw - February 6, 2012

Coming off a red hot Raw last week, could WWE keep the momentum going for the first Raw of February?

Triple H started things off to tell us that John Laurinaitis was totally gonna get fired, but that damn Undertaker gave him just enough time to slip out and prepare a PowerPoint presentation to the Board of Directors in order to save his job at the eleventh hour. Now that, my friend, is how you play office politics! Of course, it is a bit funny that Triple H dropped everything to appear on WWE for the first time since TLC to fire him, only to completely shrug it off and shift gears a week later, but I think that just says more about what a terrible COO he is.

The Game gave us a flimsy excuse about not wanting to fight Taker again at WrestleMania because he chooses to remember The Undertaker as a dominant, awe-inspiring force, not the guy who couldn't walk out of the arena last year. I would be inclined to go along with this if someone would ever call Triple H out on his bullshit, which I don't expect to happen, so I will.

Triple H, you lost that match last year, buddy. Sure, The Undertaker had to be carried out, but it was also a few months after he was left in a vegetative state and when he tried to return, he was literally buried alive. You come back from that, jerkface. What I'd love to see here is The Undertaker tell us that on top of looking to redeem himself for that, he knows Triple H's real reason for ducking out is that he also doesn't have it anymore. Let's see The Undertaker question if Triple H can still go, because I guaran-goddamn-tee The Undertaker is still more believable as a bad ass than Triple H ever was.

Big Show vs. Daniel Bryan was a really fun opening match. These two have an interesting bizzaro David & Goliath chemistry that works well and Bryan's smug condescending asshole shtick is perfect for it. Quitting the match because Big Show knowingly stopped himself this time from bowling over poor AJ (complete with HeelBrand™ Neckbrace) is the kind of stuff I love. He's a dick, sure, but he has a point. Even if Big Show was just more aware of AJ being around this time, who hasn't been there when the alpha male complex comes out? Bryan's playing the role obscenely well, is obviously consistently great in the ring and Big Show has been incredibly underrated over the last three years, so let's keep this going.

John Cena waving the green flag at the Daytona 500 is kind of a big deal, isn't it?

David Otunga Tebowing for boos? Brilliant. Sheamus kicking Otunga's ass for cheers? Also brilliant! I liked this little segment and I'm really starting to come around on Otunga. His mic work has dramatically improved and he showed some intensity in this match despite it being a glorified squash. Keep it up, Esquire.

Did WWE really use a "Did You Know" to brag about beating NBC in the ratings last Monday? The same NBC that's been tying with Univision? C'mon WWE, there's promotion and then there's just kicking a guy when he's down.

Chris Jericho basically admitted that his hype videos and various appearances before the Rumble were just to screw with us, "I trolled you." I was half expecting a Rick Astley video to pop up in the middle of the promo. Jericho finally told us his motivation for coming back, he's tired of guys ripping him off. The Miz took his style, Kofi Kingston took his moves, R-Truth stole his catchphrase, Dolph Ziggler stole his very progressive idea for a female business partner, and CM Punk stole "Best in the World." They're all wannabes, you're all wannabes, we're all wannabes, if you wannabe my lover, you gotta get with my friends.

Naturally, CM Punk interrupted and instead of using his pipe bomb, he merely dropped the mic and walked away, Jericho style. This part honestly fell a bit flat for me through no fault of Jericho or Punk, just because the silent response is becoming far too frequent of a crutch for WWE storytelling. It would've been powerful stuff had The Undertaker not ended Raw with it last week and Triple H not done it last year. Plus, there's the usual billion times a year two guys have a stare down and look at the WrestleMania sign. I liked Punk doing it though, it was a nice way of owning Jericho's accusations and responding with "while you've been playing rock star, I've been WWE Champion."

Randy Orton & The Great Khali vs. Wade Barrett & Cody Rhodes was quite bizarre thanks to the Orton/Khali pairing and the fact that it's rare to see a team where Khali is the better wrestler... BOOM! Harmless main event style tag match with the good guys predictably picking up the win and Orton predictably looking like the only person that matters. Cody and Wade make a great team though and I'd like to see them shake up the tag division somewhere down the line.

8-Diva Tag Match was typical throwaway nonsense. I realize the point is often to get as many Divas on screen as possible, but if they really cared about storytelling here, they would've just had Beth Phoenix come to the ring and do the promo she taped backstage with some added flare. Her inevitable battle with Kharma is the only thing this dying division has going for it, so the sooner we can dive in, the better. Everything else is just filler.

Hey, Shawn Michaels is going to be on Raw next week! He's either going to weigh in on The Undertaker/Triple H situation or pass the torch to Brodus Clay.

The Main Event was very Attitude Era inspired with CM Punk, Chris Jericho, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz and Kofi Kingston, the six participants in the Raw Elimination Chamber, all battled each other in a Six-Pack Challenge. I'm sure someone out there is bitching about them "giving away" the main event of a PPV, but this was obviously drastically different than what we'll see in two weeks.

I liked that they kept Jericho and Punk separate just enough to keep it interesting and create a great story with Jericho's victory (and mocking of Punk), but it's going to be much more difficult at the Elimination Chamber. My guess (and keep in mind, I'm pulling this right out of my ass) is Jericho wins the WWE Title in the Chamber on Punk's quest becomes winning it back at Mania and having to prove he's not a Jericho wannabe.

Oh and Kane threatened Eve backstage to close the show, officially killing any remaining slivers of coolness this story had. We've gone from awesomely bad horror movie to Lifetime original movie.

After last week's A+ show, this week was definitely disappointing. Not terrible or anything but not the show I was hoping for and that vibe killer at the end of the show really didn't help. Next week should be better with last minute Chamber hype and then we're officially-officially on the Road to WrestleMania.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Black History Month - February 3-5

Fell behind a little bit, let's catch up!

February 3 - Jazz
I always really liked Jazz, even during her sporadic run in ECW's later days. Anyone who can create a memorable moment with Jason (remember that guy?) has some special qualities. She had a good run in WWE as well, for an unconventional (i.e. actually a wrestler) Diva. She also had the hurdle of being a double minority and it's no surprise they let her go before her Diva shelf life expired, but I always felt she was the most underrated female wrestler in the last decade.

February 4 - Tony Atlas
Mr. USA is an example of wrestling's best and worst qualities. Winning the WWE Tag Team Titles with Rocky Johnson and becoming the first African-American tag team to win the belts was a huge feel good story. Unfortunately, Tony would later fall onto the path of wrestling tragedy, I still remember True Life: I'm a Pro Wrestler with Tony recalling the story of "waking up in a crack house with four people on top of me." Then when Tony began to turn things around, he came back to WWE under the Saba Simba gimmick, which is pretty much the most racist thing I've seen in my 25 years of watching.

Luckily, Atlas got to redeem his WWE career with his hilarious stint on ECW as the announcer for the Abraham Washington Show (remember that?) and of course, managing Mark Henry's ECW Championship run. I like to think Mark Henry wouldn't be as awesome as he is now without some help from Mr. USA.

February 5 - Maven
I'm really not sure why Maven never took off in WWE. Sure, he came in completely untrained, but that's never stopped them before. The first Tough Enough winner was a story that could write itself and what he lacked in the ring, Maven more than made up for it in charisma. I always enjoyed his work, and loved when he turned heel near the end of his run, I thought it would've been his star-making moment.

It seems Maven has done well for himself post-WWE though, still think WWE missed the boat though, especially with this:

Wrestling Revolution trailer

Jeff Katz released the trailer for Wrestling Revolution this weekend and so far it looks like a wrestling show. I don't think a one minute trailer can properly showcase the "revolution" aspect of the project, but it was a nice way to see all the characters involved.

Looking forward to more.

Programming note: I'm a little behind on my Black History Month series due to a busy weekend, so a few double posts will be coming soon.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

WWE developing cruiserweight brand?

I hesitate to talk about rumors, but since it's not a potential spoiler and doesn't ruin anyone's career, let's talk about rumors! According to the usual suspects (the dirtsheets, not Keyser Soze), WWE is developing a show based entirely around cruiserweight wrestlers for the WWE Network.

In the past, I've expressed a dislike for the Cruiserweight Championship since it puts the wrestlers in the dreaded "cruiserweight box," as Jericho described it in his first book. However, I think if WWE is willing to import some outside talent and base an entire show around people who aren't or wouldn't get a fair shake on the main roster, it could be a pretty cool show. I don't think it has to be a new or completely separate brand necessarily, just think of it like the first hour of Nitro getting its own show.

This is really where the WWE Network shines. I still don't think we should be getting our hopes up for 24 hours of pure wrasslin with new matches making up the bulk of the programming and I definitely suspect reruns of Homeboys in Outer Space will eventually find their way into the programming block, but if they move forward with this, the Network could really take off.

Black History Month - February 2

February 2 - New Jack
Paul Heyman has a reputation for hiding someone's weaknesses and highlighting their strengths and there's perhaps no greater example of it than New Jack. New Jack is not a good wrestler. Please don't tell him I said that, I don't need a Sega Saturn bashed over my head, but despite that, New Jack became one of the most beloved characters of the original ECW.

If there's one thing that made the character work the most, it's that it felt real. I really felt like New Jack was a borderline crazy person who would fuck you up just for looking at him wrong. Emerging at the height of gangsta rap, New Jack had a definite coolness about him too, it fit the era so well. The constant loop of "Natural Born Killaz" during his matches is something I hadn't seen in wrestling before or since, and perhaps for good reason, but for New Jack's constant assaults on the Dudley Boyz, it worked.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Black History Month - February 1

Happy Black History Month! After having a lot of fun with the Royal Rumble Top 30, I wanted to keep the daily feature going throughout February and celebrate the greatest, most memorable and legendary black wrestlers throughout history. This is not an "all-time" list, no one is being ranked or anything like that, just a fun collection of 29 great entertainers.

February 1 - Bobo Brazil
I can't start the list with anyone else, Bobo Brazil is often referred to as the Jackie Robinson of professional wrestling. Despite fears that booking Brazil against white wrestlers would lead to race riots in the arena, he persevered through the adversity and eventually won several titles throughout the United States. As a lifelong good guy, he even challenged Bruno Sammartino on several occasions and in some arenas, even had the crowd in his favor, which was practically unheard of for any Sammartino challenger.

Along with his manager, James Dudley, Brazil was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1994.

Oh, and he had the greatest finisher name ever, "Coco Butt," his patented headbutt.

The Complete Royal Rumble Top 30

And for those of you who just want to read the list without all those pesky words and scrolling down, here's the complete Royal Rumble Top 30:

  1. Triple H vs. Cactus Jack - 2000
  2. John Cena vs. Umaga - 2007
  3. Royal Rumble - 1992
  4. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit - 2003
  5. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz - 2000
  6. Royal Rumble - 2001
  7. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels - 2003
  8. John Cena vs. Smarks - 2008
  9. Ax vs. Smash - 1989
  10. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit - 2001
  11. Christian vs. Ezekiel Jackson - 2010
  12. Bret Hart vs. Razor Ramon - 1993
  13. Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy - 2008
  14. Mr. Kennedy vs. Batista - 2007
  15. Jumping Bomb Angels vs. Glamour Girls - 1988
  16. Royal Rumble - 2004
  17. Shawn Michaels vs. The World - 2010
  18. The Rock vs. Chris Jericho - 2002
  19. Rockers vs. Orient Express - 1991
  20. Royal Rumble - 1998
  21. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels - 2004
  22. The Undertaker vs. Rey Mysterio - 2010
  23. Dolph Ziggler vs. Edge - 2011
  24. Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty - 1993
  25. Diesel vs. Bret Hart - 1995
  26. Royal Rumble - 2011
  27. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker - 2007
  28. Bret Hart vs. Lex Luger - 1994
  29. The Rock vs. Mankind - 1999
  30. Steve Austin vs. Vader, The Undertaker, Bret Hart, referees and Gorilla Monsoon - 1997