Richard broached a very controversial subject this week in a possible John Cena vs. Hulk Hogan match at WrestleMania 30 this year. And while I feel he addressed quite a few points rather well, as did Chris Surrancy in his counterpoint piece here on WWENews.net, I wanted to take the time to pose one thing I feel needs to be said with this. Over the last few years, WrestleMania has become more than just the epitome of the WWE PPV schedule and the “Grandest Stage of Them All”. WrestleMania has become the one place you can see a once-in-a-lifetime encounter by some of the biggest names in this industry, even if the match in question has occurred before. We all know that Mania brings out that extra gear, that special spark in each and every performer, and we fans have come to expect, nay demanded, that each year become bigger and more of a dream scenario than the previous one. Were people disappointed when the lineup was announced for last years show? Sure, but the big matches delivered on such a level that afterward, no one really cared that they were rematches. It was a fantastic show. And while few people think Hulk Hogan should be in a ring thanks to his health, especially me, I know that the fans will be drawn to it as the ultimate dream attraction.
Break it down!
Opening Video: 8.75
This was a great way to show a bit of the recent history that Punk and Bryan have had with the Wyatt Family while highlighting the excellent match between Punk, Bryan, and The Shield, as well as the excellent tease for the hoped for 6-on-6 Survivor Series match. Sadly, that failed to come to pass!
The Wyatt Family vs. The Usos: 7.75
The Wyatts got a huge pop as they came to the ring! They are definitely over with the crowd. And while most of the match was good, we did have two very sloppy counters by Rowan. The first was shortly after Jimmy was tagged in early in the match, with the backdrop. He had little control of the move. The second was right before the first break, as Rowan tossed Jimmy upside down in the corner. Jimmy landed very badly on his neck and shoulders. Luke Harper has shown he is the most well rounded of the two of them. He works the ring much better than Rowan and he is always emoting his character no matter what he is doing in the ring. I haven’t had a chance to look at his stuff before WWE, but it seems like WWE made a great choice to contract him! I love that the Usos are using the Superkick as a finisher of late. It is a simple, yet highly impactful finisher. And Harper’s Discus Clothesline makes me wince every time he does it! It looks incredibly stiff, just like JBL’s used to.
Winners: The Wyatt Family (Pin)
Post Match Promo: 8.25
Well, so much for repaying The Usos for the save on Monday night! I expected that Punk and Bryan would have at least made an attempt to save the Usos. Bray, as usual, was excellent on the mic. I can’t wait for Punk and Wyatt to have a face to face promo, as that will be incredibly interesting!
Heyman Recap: 4
Heyman’s burial of Ryback was just terrible! I may not be a fan of the Big Guy, but even I can’t believe that happened. It felt a bit excessive, especially after everything Heyman did with Ryback over the last 2 months. And I really hope that Punk’s attack symbolized the end to this feud. We have had more than enough of Punk/Heyman. The only way I could remotely see them working well against one another again is if Heyman brought in someone completely new and they actually got a victory over Punk.
Backstage Segment: 7.25
If it wasn’t for the fact that they were teaming against two of the biggest faces in the company tonight, this one segment right here could have made for an effective face turn for both Ryback and Curtis Axel. What better way to do it than with a common enemy in the sleaze of the WWE, Paul Heyman? I wonder if that isn’t what Axel needs, though. In everything he has ever done in WWE, Axel has always been a heel, and it has fallen flat. Maybe a change in alignment is the solution to his character woes.
R-Truth and the Primetime Players: 3
Tell me I didn’t just see that! R-Truth rapping wasn’t too bad, as I have heard worse on WWE programming, (Get Rowdy, anyone?) but then we had the Primetime Players just destroy any positive momentum the segment had!
WWE Shop Segment: 9/-10!
Regal was absolutely fantastic with his early bit of shilling! “When the Red Light flickers, hold on to your knickers!” I couldn’t stop laughing at that! The man has a dry comedic timing so few in this business have. But then we had to have Vickie switch out Regal for Khali! And while it may have sold a few shirts in India, I know I almost changed the channel thanks to his incomprehensible babbling!
Natalya vs. Tamina: 7.75
So we got this match thanks to Tamina interfering in the Divas Title match on Main Event? I hate to admit it, but I don’t watch it most weeks because I don’t get Ion and I don’t want to watch it on Hulu Plus. But considering that it has had some setups for future matches here lately, maybe I should start! And while this was a short match, at least it made Tamina not look as green as she has over the last month. I love how Natalya has been incorporating in her dad’s Discus Clothesline into her arsenal here lately. It suits her really well, and it is something we don’t see from the Divas very often.
Winner: Natalya (Sub)
Backstage Segment: 7
Maddox’s deadpan works very well as an authority figure. And while both Maddox and Vickie had some good points, I wonder if we aren’t due yet another shakeup in the GMs. Maddox has worked a couple of dark matches this week, and we know Vickie is starting to look at her transition to the regular world thanks to her college admission. If we do get one, hopefully this will be it for a while, as it seems like the GM spots have been a revolving door as of late.
The Primetime Players and R-Truth vs. The Union Jacks (3MB): 7
I know I say this a lot, but JBL is the world’s biggest R-Truth mark! I have to mute my TV anytime Truth comes out so I don’t hear JBL screaming “What’s Up!” And if that wasn’t bad enough, we had JBL breaking some Kafabe! I’m sure the casual audience really needed to know the definition of “heat”. Although, considering it was during the R-Truth match, it could theoretically be aimed at the IWC! Well, this match was nothing special, but at least R-Truth won! He seems to be back in favor in Creative, as he beat Ryback on Raw as well!
Winners: R-Truth and The Primetime Players (Pin)
Arm Wrestling Contest: 5
So, we have to replay the attack on Cena yet again? I swear, that is the only thing ADR knows how to do as a heel. VERY piped in crowd reactions for ADR here. And considering the reaction his music got on Raw this week in the same arena, I can’t say I blame the production team for trying to cover up a loud groan! This was a very typical ADR promo. Run down his opponent, call him a perro, speak some Spanish, and conclude by repeating himself. The only difference was ADR said he’d be champion “One more time”. Could we be getting the Christian/ADR feud that WWE teased after the RVD/ADR rivalry? Quite the negative reaction for Cena! Granted, they are in England, which has a tendency to be anti-Cena. Cena poking fun at Superman helped get the fans with him a bit, but they were clearly disinterested in an Arm Wrestling Contest. And I don’t blame them, as I wouldn’t want to pay to see Cena doing something like this! Wow, ADR is a push over! That was pathetic! Of course, this ended up with yet another ADR attack. Personally, I am sick and tired of how predictable ADR’s actions are becoming. I will say one positive thing about this whole thing. That was a fantastic Spinebuster by ADR.
The Funkadactyls vs. The Bella Twins: 6.25
Wow, Cameron needs some anger management. That segment makes Total Divas look more scripted than it should be, and if that is how she really is, then it makes her look like an awful person. Well, at least Cameron’s hair looks better this week. With the way she has it colored, it is much better straight. And speaking of her looking better, she didn’t look quite as green tonight as she has been. Alabama Slam by Nicki! That was a huge surprise! I have been saying it for a while, but the Bellas are taking some huge strides in their ring work and moves like that are prime examples. Surprised the Funkadactyls won, and especially Naomi with the Rear View. Considering that has only been a setup move before now, it feels a bit cheap.
Winners: The Funkadactyls (Pin)
Punk and Bryan Interview: 8
Punk and Bryan work well off of each other! It’s a natural chemistry that I imagine they developed on the Indies. I just wish we could get some more of them working against one another. When we got their Champion vs. Champion match on Raw a couple of years ago and they started the match with the Code of Honor, I popped so loud I woke my kids up. And while Punk did the majority of the talking here, it felt right. After this tag match at Survivor Series, I hope we get some 1-on-1 promos and at least a match between Punk and Bray Wyatt.
Hunico and Camacho vs. The Great Khali: 2
So Hunico and Camacho make their return to the main roster to job in a handicap match to Khali? How crappy is that! I’m not even going to dignify this “match” with analysis, as it was a typical Khali squash.
Hunico has gained some weight in his time off. That is not a good way to make an impression! Well, I can see the next person to be released, as we know that kind of thing does not go over well in WWE.
Winner: The Great Khali (Pin)
Raw Rebound: 5
While this recap at least showed Orton’s promo from Monday night and more of the match, we already had been subjected to seeing Show’s attack on Orton once tonight. All we had here was another bit of filler that could have went to a better quality match.
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan vs. Curtis Axel and Ryback: 8.25/6
So we are getting yet another recap of Punk’s attack on Heyman! Come on WWE, this is excessive. This was the third recap that had occurred twice in a show. And this was quite a nice match, even if it was just a decent technical contest, because it painted Ryback and Axel in a positive light even if they were about to lose before the Wyatts made their appearance. The only real negative to the match itself was that Ryback botched the Dragon Screw, but at least that was the only botch in the contest. But the fact this ended in a No Contest right before Ryback was going to tap actually hurt it. We knew that Bryan and Punk were about to win, so why end it the way they did, other than to further the Wyatt storyline. Welcome to the lower card Ryback and Axel! With that one attack by the Wyatt Family, Axel's improved stock from Raw just bottomed back out, and Ryback just cemented his status. And while it was nice to see Punk and Bryan get the upper hand for the time being, it really wasn't the best attack, as they only got in a lick or two before running from the ring. All in all, it was a very underwhelming ending to the match and the show.
Overall Match Grade: 6.5
Overall Segment Grade: 5.75
Overaal Show Grade: 6
Wow, that was really rough! WWE normally puts on a superior show for Smackdown when they are in the UK, but they apparently really struggled this week. And with two matches that were squashes, it made the ringwork have to be front and back loaded. Add in the fact that it was segment heavy and an Arm Wrestling contest, I'm surprised the crowd didn't turn on the show more than they did.
In my opening, I mentioned dream attractions and matches. I'd like to hear what match, within reasonable expectations meaning that the workers are in the condition they are in right now, you'd love to see at WM 30 this year. Thanks for reading, and I will see you next week!