What a roller coaster of a night. From so much pain over the death of Dusty Rhodes, to a couple of utterly tremendous matches, the WWE gave us so much Sunday night at their MITB PPV. While much of the show really wasn't that great, the matches that were solid will live on with us through the year, and possibly decades to come. Wrestling fans are an interesting sort, we will pull up matches and facts that others haven't thought of in 20 years, and then will go back to watch and research everything and everyone involved. We can't take anything at face value, always needing to see more, understand more, and then talk about it with anyone else who might possibly appreciate it the way you do. That might end up in more fighting than anything, but that's all part of the camaraderie of being a wrestling fan.
R-Truth vs King Barrett > B-
R-Truth is an absolute workhorse in the WWE. Kane's name has been synonymous with workhorse for years, but I think R-Truth doesn't get remembered for the work he's done in the industry – not just in the WWE. R-Truth used to run with Road Dogg after DX and New Age Outlaws went their separate ways. K-Kwik bounced all over the ramp and ring, dancing and showing off, and nothing changed as Ron 'The Truth' Killings, or as R-Truth. He's able to work characters that shouldn't be able to work – being insane with an invisible friend, Little Jimmy, as both a heel, and a face – and turn it into something we will be talking about for decades to come.
R-Truth will always be a mid-card player, won't be WWE WHC before he retires, works really well to put other wrestlers over, and seems to enjoy every bit of what he does. Many top guys have said that if you're not in the WWE to be WWE WHC, then why are you there? Well, not all guys are going to be top Superstars, but R-Truth is living his dream in the WWE, in the ring and on TV most weeks, and so few wrestlers can say that.
Then there's King Barrett. Few KoTR winners have been as great as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Owen Hart, and Booker T. It really seems as though winning KoTR is the worst thing that can happen to a Superstar these days. Since William Regal's win, it's been all down hill. Sheamus was a serious mess, and Barrett is obviously the next victim in the list of tragic winners. He went from being IC Champion and winning the KoTR, to working the Pre-Show against R-Truth. Now, as I said, R-Truth is a workhorse, but then you're losing to R-Truth, and not even on the PPV, your stock has seriously dropped. Now, I know Barrett is nursing a shoulder injury, but that's just one more in a very long list of injuries that Barrett has been plagued with. With so many people expecting Barrett to be a main event player, he's barely a jobber to R-Truth. How the might ego has fallen.
Winner – R-Truth
Video > A+
This was a beautiful video, and exactly what I expected from the WWE. I have to say that the ending, with Dusty in the ring, looks like it was filmed quite recently, and possibly for a DVD collection of his work? I honestly don't know, but I have to guess that it was for something about him coming down the pipe.
Backstage Segment > A-
Kevin Owens was so great with Tom talking down Cena and answering questions that the fans tweeted. It went as expected from a heel answering questions. KO is fantastic on mic, and is someone I loved in ROH. The man is the total package, even though he physically doesn't look the part. He might not be built like a brick $h!t house, he is a big, and imposing man, and that makes up for his lack of waist. It wasn't a shock that he stormed out, cutting the segment off, but the way he answered about having a KO towel soon was so perfectly in character that I couldn't help but laugh, and even cheer a little, in my own living room.
Dusty Tribute > A+
Whenever I see the Superstars lined up on the stage, with Steph, Triple H and McMahon at the top of the ramp, Divas all around, and most everyone in tears, it brings my heart to my throat. I'm immediately brought back to that Raw, the night after Owen passed. Seeing Steph, so young, in tears, Mark Henry bawling, and everyone in shock. It hasn't been any easier, no matter who the wrestler was. Eddie Guerrero, Ultimate Warrior, Dusty Rhodes, I'm brought to shock and tears. I know how badly I'm hurting, but to see these huge, muscled men, and beautiful, talented women brought to grief by the loss of someone they knew and loved dearly, about knocks me over. Rollins in shock. Big Show with his hood up, hiding as much of his red swollen eyes. Paige wiping away the flowing tears. McMahon standing tall, but his face raw with emotion. It all cuts me to the core, but then something beautiful came from it. Dusty's iconic music played, everyone started clapping together, and it brought smiles to so many faces, in the stands, and on that stage. From sorrow, to love, to joy, all in a few minutes, and a beautiful tribute to the American Dream who brought smiles to so many faces.
MITBLM > B+&D
Those men are beasts! I thought Kofi was done when powerbombed onto that ladder, but then Neville powerbombed onto Kofi and I was in awe! But then an RKO on Kofi? That man took a beating! Speaking of the RKOs, Orton was on fire! Neville diving off the ropes and over Orton onto the ladder was a lovely move. Knowing that Neville was in this match, I wondered of Kofi would be losing his 'spots' to the man gravity forgot. Neville really seemed to be in pain after the red arrow, but like RVD, it's what he chances each time he hits those moves.
Reigns flew like a swan, taking everyone out. That was a spot I honestly expected from either Kofi or Neville. That it was Reigns who hit it was a lovely swerve. But then powerbombing Kofi out of the ring onto the other Superstars was kind of epic!
A lot of people were shocked that Bray Wyatt wasn't in this match, and while it was a great way to have him appear unexpectedly, I have a huge problem with this. Wyatt has started all of his recent feuds by showing up unexpectedly in a PPV match and attacking someone. First Ambrose, then Ryback – even though that didn't amount to anything – and now Reigns. While Wyatt looked great walking through all the prone bodies outside the ring after taking Reigns out, the last thing any of us want to see is Reigns and Wyatt in a feud. It's more than time Wyatt evolves in some way, and while I hate to say this, feuding with Wyatt is a HUGE step back for Reigns who had been surging forward and more than proving that he is a main event player.
There were so many great possibilities for Superstars to win this match, beyond Reigns, but I cannot even think of why Sheamus would be one of them. Ziggler is a man who needs the push, and deserves a push without some sort of screwing. Orton might be boring, but he's a strong Superstar. Kane could have made waves with the case. I even heard wonderful reasons for Neville to walk out of this match as the winner. And then there's Kofi, the Susan Lucci of the MITBLM. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride!
If you look at Sheamus' numbers, he looks good. It took Edge ten years to win KoTR (2001), MITB (2005), and RR (2010), where it only took Sheamus five years to achieve the same. KoTR (2010) and RR (2012). So, on paper, Sheamus looks great. He's one who was handed so much from the start, they really believed in him, but he never lived up to it. He's not as bad as Miz, but he really needs to find a character, be something more than the angry Irish ghost. If he had something more, and sold it well, he could be great, but as it is, he's little more than milquetoast with a mohawk.
Winner – Sheamus (20:42)
Backstage Segment > B
Paige is getting stronger and stronger on mic. She's really stepping up into AJ's shoes, and selling her character quite well. She's not AJ, not trying to be AJ, but she's a tiny brunette stepping up to make a change. I'm impressed with her look, character, attitude, ring work, and style. With more Divas backing her, as she pointed out, they aren't doing, she could really run roughshod over the Bellas and make the Divas Division something worthy of NXT.
Divas Championship Match – Nikki Bella (c) vs Paige > B-
Divas backstage watching this match? Making it into more than it really is? Well, if they follow it up with storyline from here, it will be worthwhile, otherwise it will end up being an absolute joke. It's time the Divas Division take that next step. They've been harder hitting in the ring, working better than we've seen in a long time, as long as they're in singles competition. I'm shocked that the Bellas are looking as strong as they are against someone like Paige, but that just shows how hard they've been working to improve.
Paige hit things hard out there, but so did Nikki. Hitting solid moves and holds on each other. Nikki's body scissors on Paige looked a bit weak, though Paige over-sold the hold. Beyond that, I was quite impressed with much of their actual ring work. They put on a solid show. It wasn't NXT level work, but it wasn't like seeing Kelly Kelly try to do anything in the ring.
And then there was the ending. If it wasn't a Dusty Finish, I think I'd be much madder. The Bellas have returned to their roots recently, which wouldn't be bad if the identical twins actually looked alike. Brie hiding her face, trying to hide her hair, and stuffing a half of a paper towel rack in her top, still doesn't make her look enough like Nikki to make anyone other than the botch-ref scream foul. Jesse even said, "This is crappy booking that even exceeds Russo and Cornette's combined awfulness!" While I agree, I also see the homage to Dusty, so I'm torn.
Winner – Nikki (11:29)
IC Championship Match – Ryback (c) vs Big Show > C
With Miz ringside, of course he was going to get involved, but the short time he wasn't, gave us some beautiful moments. Ryback dominated from the start of the match. Ryback was all over Big Show with that spinebuster, then clothesline from the ring. The suplex on Big Show looked almost effortless. Ryback is strong, Big Show helped, and it looked like it was nothing for both of them. I know I used the word already, but when moves look effortless like that, you cannot help but appreciate them. It was a thing of beauty.
While I loved seeing Ryback attacking Miz outside the ring, I ended up cussing Miz out for ending this match short. I want to see Ryback face Big Show in a clean one on one match. I don't want to see a Triple Threat Match with Miz involved, because it will take a lot of the power from the strong men involved, and give the rat an edge. I guess I should have expected a DQ here, especially how the PPV had been going thus far.
Winner via DQ – Big Show (5:32)
John Cena vs Kevin Owens > A+
I thought their Elimination Chamber Match was a Match of the Year contender, and then I watched this match. We had troubles getting the WWE Network playing on the laptop attached to the TV, so I watched the entire show on my phone, which is how I watch the WWE Network on a daily basis. The only problem with this is that Stacy was upset to hear me raving about this match as it happened. We will have to sit down so he can watch this match from start to finish, because it shows how great Cena can be when pushed in the ring with the right opponent. There was so much greatness in this match that I hope I hit on all the best points. I was so in awe watching the match, and talking to WNW readers in the Open Discussion that I didn't get all the moves that blew me away down the way I'd want to.
5 knuckle shuffle from Owens? I thought the WNW Open Discussion about MITB was going to crumble at that moment. After all the crappy endings the WWE had been feeding us through the night, this was the moment that brought us all back to the show, and a match that was more than worth watching the rest of the show. It brought us back to believing that the WWE hadn't completely lost their mind with these WWE Network PPVs we have been choking down every two weeks.
Owens off the corner onto Cena's knees was one of the best blocked moves I've seen between these two, and that's saying a lot! And another huge move off the corner by Owens that didn't hit its mark. Owens trying to hit these big moves without luck brought a lovely balance to the match that otherwise wouldn't have been there.
Questioning the ref's call after the AA was quite interesting. Better is that they called the ref's call in the Divas' match dubious – but his calls are usually bad, even when not scripted to be! Cena questioning such a reputable ref was so unexpected, and I honestly wondered if the eternal boy scout was going to do something naughty.
Last time these two faced off we heard, "This is awesome!" many times. I know I heard it more this time around. They gave all they had, and more. I mean, what the heck was that move from Cena? That was very AJ Styles, but not. It took them a bit to get the move lined up, and their body weights balanced, but when Cena hit the move, it looked beautiful. I was shocked, because his slingshot stunner was so horrible, but this new move made me that much more interested in seeing what Cena might pull out. These new young wrestlers are bringing out so much more than his 50,000 matches with Orton ever did, and making Cena a much more rounded wrestler in the process. It feels as though Cena is never going to go away, will always be the face of the WWE, but if he continues to give us matches like this, I don't think I care!
Now, about Cena winning this one. Yes, it sets up for the rubber match, but as WNW reader Lewis mentioned, wouldn't it have been amazing if Owens won? Then, who else could say they beat Cena twice and remain undefeated on WWE TV? That would have been a feather in Owens' cap.
Owens looked very strong, even through his loss, but it was the end of the match that really brought the fans to a crescendo. Cena being the epitome of the good guy tried to make friends with Owens. When Owens shook Cena's hand there was more heat than we ever hear for Cena alone. But then, when Owens attacked Cena and beat him down, the fans erupted! They loved Owens for not changing, not being the type of guy who would ever shake Cena's hand in any sort of solidarity. That adds so much to the story, and so much more fuel to the fire.
Winner – Cena (19:24)
Tag Team Championship Match – New Day (c) vs Prime Time Players > B
This match barely had a chance coming off the match before it, but they hit all the high notes they could to keep the fans interested. Between the chanting with New Day, and Prime Time Players winning this match, they did all they could to be remembered. Honestly, after a such highly electric match, that fans even remember this match is a good thing. These four worked the ring hard, and did all they could in the short time they had. I think New Day will be better chasing the Tag Team Championship than carrying them, and it's well past time Prime Time Players have a chance to prove themselves with the straps. The Tag Division has been growing, changing, shrinking, and then growing again recently. Things have finally been interesting and exciting, much bigger and better than it's been for years, giving more meaning to the straps than they've had since their heyday. Only time will tell how long this will continue, but I'm really enjoying it while it lasts.
Winners – Prime Time Players (5:42)
MITB Panel > B+
Byron is so blah! Corey Graves is so on point, and has such a great look. It's sad that he's no longer in the ring, but it's obvious that he'd being groomed for a long career on announce in the WWE. I love that the panel is led by a woman, and a most beautiful and intelligent woman at that. Then there's Booker T. He knows the industry, and has worked it longer than so many, through such a huge time, and within both companies, so he really gets it. Further, his time in TNA really showed him another side of the industry, one that couldn't have been good by the way he acted on camera there, and how quickly he fled back to the WWE when he could.
Other than Byron, this panel is quite impressive.
WWE WHC Match – Seth Rollins (c) vs Dean Ambrose > A
Tyler Black and Jon Moxley in the WWE ring together, the main event, for the WWE WHC. Who would have thought that would happen before Bryan choked out Justin Roberts? But, from Bryan's mistake and his 'firing' so much greatness. If not for Bryan stepping up for the man who would become Seth Rollins. If not for Bryan having those epic matches, with the man who would become Dean Ambrose, during his time 'fired' from the WWE. Where would the WWE main event scene be right now? Cena versus Orton, for the ten-thousandth time? Even though Bryan is out of the ring right now, and doesn't have a solid time-line for return, he's done something great for the WWE, and the WWE 'Universe' by introducing us to these awe inspiring men.
While the fans might not have been as wild for this match as they were for Cena/Owens, Rollins and Ambrose gave their all. These two guys really know how to work a hardcore match the way Foley could, but they have brought it to the future, to 2015. With the Internet we know so much more about the wrestling industry, and while times have changed, we still want to see passionate wrestlers really work a hardcore style match as hard as those in ECW did, even if it's more stylized, and with less blood. If you look on YouTube for some of the work Ambrose did as Jon Moxley, you will see some shocking, and sometimes sickening, work from the Lunatic Fringe. And the work Rollins did as Tyler Black in ROH is nothing to shake a stick at. I first fell in awe of him there, and enjoyed watching his creativity and hard work both in the ring, and on the mic. He was someone I had always hoped would be brought into the WWE and would excel, though I have to admit that I didn't think he'd be the first of Shield to become WWE WHC.
Most of the work in this match was sick, though I have to admit that one bit didn't work for me. Rollins through the ropes into the ladder didn't look anywhere near as good as it should have. It looked as though they were setting up for something big, really using that ladder against the ropes, but the payout wasn't as good as it could have looked, or as good as I'd hoped. Things like that happen, and I'm not cutting them down for it, just mentioning it.
Rollins took some sick moves! The double underhook suplex onto the ladder. Elevated out onto the ladder stretched between the apron and announce. Dirty deeds on Spanish announce. I don't know how he was still standing. Then, on the other hand, dirty deeds wasn't easy on Ambrose, he really hit the monitor hard with the back of his head. All the abuse on his knee was bad, but the monitor to the side of his knee was really horrible looking, and sounding. I don't know if Ambrose was really hurt, or selling, but I believed it!
Ambrose's Dusty homage off the top of the ladder brought tears to my eyes, yet again. I honestly hadn't felt like Dusty was gone, it hadn't sunk in until that moment. My heart hurt, but I smiled seeing how much Ambrose put into that moment. As when Punk paid homage to Macho Man Randy Savage, this felt very right to me.
All through the night most everyone in the Open Discussion stated that Ambrose needed to win this match, and I agreed, up until the moment he lost. This match made both these men look so much stronger than they've ever looked. Rollins has been resting on the laurels and support of J&J Security, and The Authority for so long that he looked as though he couldn't do anything for himself, by himself. This match showed that he's not a pansy who needs to be carried, even if he's a whiny little git much of the time. Rollins is a top player, and proved it in this match, but so did Ambrose.
Yes, even after that loss, Ambrose proved that he's a top guy moving forward. Between being backed by important names backstage, and the work Ambrose does, this isn't the last of him facing off for the WWE WHC. Yes, he lost, but he will be back again, sometime very soon. I'm quite excited for the future of the WWE with these two, and so many other young wrestlers on the roster.
Winner – Rollins(35:49)
Again, I have to thank Botch, Lewis, Moose and Jesse for all the ideas and lines they contributed to this Rapid React. They keep me on my toes, and keep the wonderful ideas flowing.
There were two great matches at MITB this year, and I find it interesting that three of the four men in those matches were wrestlers, and one was a Superstar. Okay, they're all Superstars, in a most huge way, but three of them are very much wrestlers as well, and made their way to where they are now by being great wrestlers who put their bodies on the line for fans. No matter how many butts were in the seats, they gave their all. Not everyone with a dream make it to the WWE, but these three did, and they're making every week brighter for the WWE and the WWE 'Universe'.
Queen of WNW