John Cena kicked off last night's show, as he is wont to do, only to be quickly interrupted by CM Punk, who is not ready to just hand over the chance to be in the main event of WrestleMania. Punk said Cena hadn't earned anything, basically writing off the Royal Rumble in a way that would have made Cena-haters heads explode had he been the one to say it, but Punk did have a point: he had The Rock beat last night. Just like he had a point with the controversial Rumble finish, Punk hasn't been put away and it will cast a huge shadow over the WrestleMania event if it's not addressed.
Enter John Cena's fighting spirit (he's basically puro, guys). Much like Ryu, ceremony means nothing, the fight is all and he must prove that he can defeat CM Punk in order to face The Rock. So Cena puts the title shot on the line and CM Punk agrees to fight... next week. While Cena's integrity here is admirable (and he managed to get through the promo without a gay joke, bonus), there are few things more dangerous than a man who has nothing to lose. Next week should be interesting, which was kinda the running theme of last night's show.
In-ring action began with Mark Henry vs. Sin Cara, and Cara losing his magical lighting should've been all the indication you needed that this match was ending with him as a pancake; not even Triple H bats .1000, my friend. The Great Khali came to the ring after the match for revenge from last week, but Henry just laughed him off and said, "if I wanted to dance, I'd get a date." There's a Sexual Chocolate joke in there somewhere, but I'm not that funny. I hope the Khali thing was just a bit of continuity for a future Smackdown or Main Event match and not indicative of Henry's WrestleMania plans, surely they have something better in store for him than that?
The Miz vs. Antonio Cesaro in a no-DQ match was fun, very reminiscent of an Attitude Era hardcore match, and how old does it make you feel that that's considered a throwback now? I liked Miz turning the tables on Cesaro's knee, using all the tools that Cesaro used on his shoulder to strike the champ's knee, but Miz winning clean in a non-title match obviously means this is getting dragged out further, but surely it doesn't have the legs to get to WrestleMania? We're also drifting dangerously into Dolph/Kofi, Christian/Booker T territory of just having these guys wrestle each other every week with no cohesive story surrounding it. I don't like that, they're both better than that.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler was a surprising pairing that I wasn't thrilled with, but it actually wound up turning into a fun little story. First off, the match was awesome, which wasn't shocking, but I was reeled in a bit by the Money in the Bank tease. Ricardo stealing the briefcase could've been enough to sell it, but then he drops it and Ziggler goes for it again only to get kicked in the head? Really fun and a terrific use of AJ and Ice Train. I didn't want to see these two wrestle specifically because of the MITB implications, but it worked really well.
I have no idea what the hell that segment with Wade Barrett and Sheamus was all about. I get it, Barrett has a bit part in a Colin Farrell movie and Sheamus is Irish, but goddamn, Armstrong couldn't make that stretch.
I've been letting the Brodus Clay & Tensai thing slide, but sorry, I gotta veto it. It's not because they've turned Tensai into a comedy character because that doesn't really bother me and he's quite good at it. No, my issue is that it made Brodus Clay a thing again, and that jumped the shark with that embarrassing Mama bit at last year's WrestleMania. I had non-fans at my place for that show and I literally had to apologize for making them see that.
Okay, so let's talk about Zeb Colter & Jack Swagger. It's too real and Mantell is too good in the role. That's not WWE's fault, but it is a sad commentary on the voices we lend credibility to in our current political climate. In all honesty, Zeb's probably a little too tame for our current debate, but man, he's got the character down; even while they were waiting for Daniel Bryan's music to hit, he just had this crazy, lost look in his eye and it was dead-on your average Teabagger. And their YouTube video earlier in the show? If you don't have a crazy uncle doing that shit, then you are the crazy uncle doing that shit.
The match with Bryan was really, really good too. The crowd still doesn't seem 100% sold on Teabagger Swagger and it's still unclear whether Bryan's supposed to be a face or heel, but they worked well together. I know some people are concerned that Swagger's going to get cheers in the south, but I'm not that cynical, and he can just have Zeb start calling for the criminalization of birth control for a more authentic Teabagger experience.
The Vickie Guerrero/Paul Heyman segment was weird and a waste of Heyman's considerable talents. Okay, making Brad Maddox Assistant to the Managing Supervisor and doing The Office "Assistant Managing Supervisor" joke was cute, but Mr. McMahon appearing the TitanTron and challenging Heyman to a fight next week went over like a lead balloon. Obviously this will set up Lesnar vs. Triple H (or The Undertaker, if they're feeling frisky), but does anyone really care if Vince McMahon can beat up a frumpy manager?
The Shield vs. Ryback, Sheamus & Chris Jericho seemed like the perfect set-up for some classic Jeritrolling, but Y2J played it straight here, taking up the mantle of WWE hero against the invading band of misfits, and it earned him a flying knee to the head. Again, I don't really know what the plan is for The Shield, but WWE has really stumbled onto something special here and they are kicking seven shades of ass. Another Match of the Night for these guys and I think it would be very wise to just keep letting these guys raise all kinds of hell. They're already much further along than Nexus ever was, primarily because they win and don't look like Heath Slater and Darren Young.
Damien Sandow vs. Kofi Kingston never got started since Sandow was feeling a little violent, but R-Truth returned and saved his ex-tag partner. No one wants to see Kofi/Truth vs. Rhodes Scholars, we want Rhodes Scholars vs. Booker T & Goldust, dammit.
Hey, you know what else no one ever asked for? Randy Orton vs. Kane. But man, what does it say about Orton that he's gone from WrestleMania headliner to dude that makes Barney the Dinosaur jokes? And yes, that was the premise for this match, Kane mentioned "snakes" backstage, which caught the attention of Orton (he's a viper BTW), and then Orton called Kane "Barney" because he enjoys the occasional man-hug. Considering Kane matches have also been set up by spilling coffee and accusations of necrophilia, I suppose this wasn't the worst in his unfortunate history, but still... Barney the Dinosaur references in 2013? Can't even throw in a Yo Gabba Gabba joke?
In our main event, because again, matches ending Raw is passé, The Rock unveiled a new WWE Championship. Yes, after eight years, your prayers have finally been answered, the Spinner is gone, replaced by a new title you can bitch about.
|image courtesy: WWE.com|
In all honesty, the Spinner never really bugged me, especially since it hasn't spun since 2007, but it was time for a change. Cena's title outlived the Attitude Era belt and the Undisputed Title combined, so I'm cool with something new. I'm not particularly impressed with this, I think it's the diamonds that bug me, but there's nothing particularly "WOW!" about it, as The Rock would lead us to believe. I would've been fine if they had just gone the route they did with the IC Title and update the classic 80s/90s belt, but the new one's fine and I suspect it'll grow on me. It looks a lot better in WWE's pictures and on TV than in the leaked pictures from awhile back or in screencaps.
The Rock's promo was something he could've done in his sleep and I did get excited when Cena made his way to the ring since it would be the first time they've been face-to-face since WrestleMania, but CM Punk put the kibosh on that by attacking Cena with the old belt and then throwing it on the ground. Man, when WWE moves on from something, they really move on from something.
They certainly seem to be setting up a triple threat, don't they? Punk is not a side character in a story that could easily be Rock vs. Cena II, he's essentially the linchpin right now. That could all come to a decisive end next week, and perhaps it should, but as of this moment, the WWE Title picture still centers around the man who held it for 434 days.
Good show. They didn't do much to set up anything new for WrestleMania, but there wasn't really anything bad here either. The time between Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania seems longer than usual, so they have time, but as of now, we still only have one WM match set in stone. That's a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.