Wrestling Flashback – The CM Punk/Daniel Bryan/AJ Lee Love Triangle

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Lighting up WWE television in 2012 was the “mentally unstable” AJ Lee, becoming the most popular woman on the roster since her major push began as she was the squeeze of World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan. AJ was the neglected girlfriend of the World Champion, who had started to become cocky following his World title victory at TLC 2011. Despite this, AJ still continued to stay with Daniel and even accompanied him to ringside for his big WrestleMania 28 title defense against Sheamus. Daniel requested a good luck kiss from AJ after the bell ran. After the kiss, Daniel walked into a Brogue Kick by Sheamus who pinned him after 18 seconds.

Deeming the kiss as the “kiss of death” Daniel dumped AJ, leaving her heart-broken. AJ began becoming psychologically lost in the ring, with the end of her relationship taking a major toll on her. In one particular match on SmackDown!, Natalya attempted to console AJ during their match. AJ suddenly snapped and attacked Natalya, with the match thrown out due to AJ being unable to control her emotions.

This lead to a major angle involving three men “vying” for the affection of AJ,  with one of those men happening to be the WWE Champion CM Punk. Her ex Daniel as well as the “Big Red Machine” Kane were feuding with CM Punk over the WWE title, with AJ becoming the puppet-master. These tactics included kissing Kane in order to win herself and Punk a tag team match on RAW and even dressing up like Kane. After No Way Out 2012, Kane distanced himself from the feud, even calling AJ “mentally unstable.”

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Punk and Bryan continued to fight for the WWE Championship, with AJ doing her best to gain the attention of both men. AJ’s antics included kissing Punk and pushing both men through a table and even proposing to CM Punk on RAW. AJ was the special guest referee during Punk and Bryan’s no disqualification match at Money In The Bank. AJ continued to play both men before Punk eventually picked up the victory.

I really enjoyed this program between AJ, Punk, Bryan and Kane. How none of their matches never got a pay-per-view main event is beyond me, but AJ became the first diva in years to become a major part of a main event program. The thing I really liked about AJ and this program is that everybody’s actions made sense – EVEN AJ. AJ was playing as the puppet-master all along, manipulating the situation initially to get the affections of CM Punk. Punk did console AJ as soon as Bryan dumped her, so it made sense for Punk to be of AJ’s interest. Even CM Punk’s actions make sense, doing what he thought was best for AJ. He didn’t love AJ but he liked her enough as a close friend in order to take whatever craziness AJ had in store. Punk was not really made to look like a fool, as his main intention above all was to still be the WWE Champion. This mindset actually played into Punk’s heel turn at RAW 1000, with Punk doing whatever it took to protect his title reign.

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Unfortunately for Kane, he was the bumbling boob of the entire story. Kane was initially brought into the program by Punk and Bryan, in order to play them off against each other in matches on RAW. Following this, Kane interjected himself into the WWE title picture. Then AJ started messing with him, which leads to Kane eventually stepping his foot down after No Way Out. The main focus of the feud was Punk, Bryan and AJ, but Kane played a small but necessary role in this storyline. Finally, there’s Daniel Bryan. Daniel’s character in this storyline was really well written. Bryan broke up with AJ due to his selfish desires to become champion. When AJ gets involved, Bryan still insists that he has no feelings for AJ. Despite this, he still continues to try and stir the pot with Kane and Punk. Bryan’s main concern is becoming the WWE Champion, so why not mess with the guys that AJ has feelings for?

When AJ is made the special guest referee for Money In The Bank, Bryan must change AJ’s perception of him in order to try and win her influence. He gets her roses, shows concern and even proposes to her himself. At the end, Bryan’s efforts are unsuccessful as Punk retains. Bryan’s main goal was to become WWE Champion. Punk’s goal was to become WWE Champion but also support AJ. Kane’s goal was to cause destruction, with everybody else using him as their “hired gun” if you will. AJ, on top of all of this, is messing with EVERYONE but not totally evil. She’s just… mentally unstable.

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Leading into RAW 1000, Daniel still continued to court AJ and proposed to her once again. She accepts and the wedding is set for RAW 1000. However, it is revealed that AJ has accepted a proposal from Vince McMahon to become the general manager of RAW. At the end of the day, AJ gained power and now can mess with Daniel Bryan officially as his boss.

Overall, I think this was a great program. I have more Wrestling Flashbacks planned with regards to AJ but I will state that I believe that this was the best that AJ was ever written by WWE. I’ll have a lot to say as AJ’s character is so badly messed up in the last few years of her career when thinking about it in hindsight. What her character would become is nowhere near as detailed and fleshed out as what her character was like in this storyline. This storyline gained her insane popularity and it’s not like she was playing your average crazy diva. She was a sweet but calculated master manipulator… that the fans still cheered!

Wrestling Flashback – January 4th 1999: RAW IS WAR vs Nitro

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To say that this was the day that the wrestling world turned upside down would be an understatement. The Monday Night Wars, that had been going back and forth for years, had its winner seemingly decided on this day as both the WWF and WCW put on two huge shows together in an effort to win the ratings battle.

In one corner, we had the WWF. Mankind had been feuding with the “Corporate Champion” The Rock and this lead to a no disqualification title match taking place in the main event of Monday Night RAW after Mankind threatened to break Vince’s son Shane’s arm. This was a taped show but the anticipation was building.

In the other corner, we had WCW. Kevin Nash shocked the world at Starrcade by ending the undefeated streak of Goldberg and winning the WCW World title. Eight days later, the Wolfpack leader would defend the title against Goldberg in a rematch at Goldberg’s hometown in Atlanta. These two would collide LIVE on WCW Monday Nitro. Indeed, history would be made tonight.

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January 4th 1999 would see RAW and Nitro go head to head once again as WCW looked to regain the lead as the top dogs of professional wrestling. Eric Bischoff pulled out all of the big guns. Nitro was live and up against a pre-taped RAW. He knew the results and he knew he had to counter-book. He had to bring it tonight and he thought he had the perfect main event with a huge development in the long storyline between the two nWos and Goldberg. With what he was about to put on, there was no way he could lose to something like Mick Foley fighting for the championship right?

Mick Foley actually was a former WCW wrestler but was never really the top man in the company. Why would he? He made his name as a sucker for pain. He took risks that no man should ever take, including getting launched off the top of the “Hell in a Cell.” There was no chance in hell of this guy being a ratings draw right?

He went over the plan for the night with everyone. A number of top stars were notorious for backstage politicking, and the finish to this match showed the type of pull one Hollywood Hogan had as WCW’s top star.

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Bischoff let WCW announcer Tony Schiavone know what happened on Monday Night RAW. It’d become a new feature on Nitro for Tony to reveal the results of these pre-tapings for RAW which would theoretically make sure that the viewers wouldn’t change the channel to find out what happened on RAW.

Bischoff thought this would turn the tide. He thought that this whole night could get Nitro back on form as they went back to basics and to the one force that made wrestling fans tune in…

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On Nitro, Goldberg’s title rematch was in jeopardy as he was arrested by the Atlanta police. This was a rematch from Starrcade of all events and it looks like those plans were changing. Kevin Nash suspected that nWo Hollywood leader Hollywood Hogan was responsible.

This lead to the main event of the WCW World Title match being changed to Kevin Nash defending the WCW Title againsy Hollywood Hogan. Meanwhile on RAW, they are setting up the Mankind/Rock main event.

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Before the main events happened, Tony Schiavone was ready to reveal the results for that night’s edition for RAW IS WAR and who walked out of that WWF title match as the champion. Tony said:

“Fans, if you’re even thinking about changing the channel to our competition, fans, do not. We understand that Mick Foley, who wrestled here one time as Cactus Jack, is going to win their world title. Ha! That’s gonna put some butts in the seats.”

Don’t worry folks. We got you covered. You don’t need to watch that old taped show now. You don’t need to watch Mick Foley win the WWF title. Stick around for WCW Monday Nitro as we’ve got a WCW title match later tonight LIVE.

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Bischoff truly believed that this was HIS night. Then all of a sudden, Bischoff got very quiet on commentary. After Tony revealed what was going to happen on the other show, 600,000+ people changed the channels from the live edition of Nitro to this pre-taped edition of RAW.

The WCW fans couldn’t believe what they had heard. Is this true? Did Mick Foley really win the WWF title? I have to go watch RAW to see.

Rather than stick around for Kevin Nash’s WCW title defense, these fans tuned into RAW as the stage was set for Mankind vs The Rock.

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Mankind had in fact won the title in what will forever go down as one of the most important title changes in WWF/E history. Vince McMahon looked devasted in this segment. He watched on as Mankind had beaten his handpicked champion in this angle that was taped a few days before. Wherever Vince was watching this on the day it aired, there’s no doubt that he was watching the ratings come in with a huge smile on his face.

The same can’t be said for Eric Bischoff. He must have been dejected as he heard about what happened. However, the show must go on as the fans would no doubt come back for the WCW World title match.

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For those that did, they watched on as this Atlanta crowd was ready for a fight. It didn’t feature Goldberg but it did feature Nash and Hogan. This confrontation had been building for months. Nash pushed Hogan to hype up the Hulkster. Hogan was ready to go. He was about to throw a punch when suddenly, he stopped. The clenched fist turned into a pointing motion. He fingerpoked Kevin Nash who fell down in a comical fashion. Hogan made the cover and a new champion was crowned.

It was all a ruse! The Wolfpack and nWo Hollywood were working together! What a shocker! Goldberg got screwed! The fans were irate. The nWo, the stable which had led WCW to the top of the wrestling world, was back in full swing.

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Sadly, the ratings didn’t result in the return to status quo for WCW. Up until Tony’s announcement, WCW had managed to take the lead in that week’s battle with RAW. At the end of the night though, RAW won by 5.7 to 5.0.

Never again would Nitro beat RAW in the ratings. It was not the end of the Monday Night Wars but WCW should have prayed that it was. Not only were they only able to crack a 5.0 rating just a few times afterwards, RAW’s audience began to DOUBLE Nitro’s during the year 2000.

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When I think of WCW, I think of a company that had the potential to blitz the WWF with the backing of Ted Turner. Sadly, this night only proved the theory that the key to WCW’s failures came from within.

Wrestling Flashback – The Aces And Eights

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“When you ride with Aces and Eights, you never walk alone!”

Many groups have came and gone in TNA but none of them were as consistently utilised and pushed for than the group of motorcyclists known as the Aces And Eights.

The group first made their way to TNA when they attacked Sting on Impact following his match with Bobby Roode at Slammiversary 2012. This was their way of asserting themselves in TNA by taking out the biggest dog in the yard and putting the rest of TNA on notice.

These attacks would continue on TNA talent as the TNA World Champion Austin Aries and General Manager Hulk Hogan were also targeted in these attacks. The big question was who was behind the attacks from these thugs and the first suspect that was mentioned was James Storm. The Aces and Eights started a pattern of attacking every member of the TNA locker room with one notable exception. Storm denied his involvement with the group and the group basically confirmed Storm’s innocence by attacking him on Impact.

Aries’ arm was attacked by the group and Aries wanted revenge. After taking an Aces and Eights member hostage (Yeah, this actually happened) Aries and Hogan tortured the poor fella for answers about who was running the deal. A deal was eventually made with TNA and Aces And Eights agreeing to a fight at No Surrender between Austin Aries and the “Arm Breaker” of Aces and Eights. Aries won the fight but the group made their mark that night by taking out Jeff Hardy. This led to Hogan locking out the Aces and Eights to prevent these attacks once and for all.

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However, this didn’t stop the group of bikers. They captured Joseph Park and eventually Hogan and Sting too, bringing them to their clubhouse. The leader of the group then began negotiations with Hogan and Sting for Joseph Park. The leader proposed a two on two match at Bound For Glory with two Aces and Eights members going up against Sting and a partner of his choosing. If the Aces and Eights won, they earned access to the Impact Zone. If they lost, they’d be gone for good. After the match, Park would be let go. Hogan agreed to the stipulation and the match was set.

What’s funny about this segment is that the leader’s voice was messed with by an audio mixer to prevent his identity from being revealed to the viewers. However, someone on YouTube actually messed with the audio of the segment to work out who was actually playing the leader in that segment. In this audio clip, it appeared that Eric Bischoff was actually playing the leader in this segment. However, a segment just a few months later would “reveal” Devon as the one that was taking to Hogan and Sting. It’s funny. Were TNA considering revealing Bischoff as the leader? I believe he was still signed to the company at the plan and it would have made sense because Hulk Hogan and Sting were the reasons why Bischoff was away from TNA in the storyline. I guess we’ll never know.

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Bully Ray volunteered himself to be Sting’s partner at Bound for Glory but Hogan was very sceptical. He didn’t trust Bully but Sting was all for Bully taking part. Hogan agreed to have Bully team with Sting, telling him that he was fighting for TNA. The tag team match saw Park break free and fight the Aces and Eights alongside Bully and Sting. Another member of the group put Bully through a table, giving the group the important win. An angry Hogan helped Sting and Bully take down and unmask the member that took out Bully. However, it was quite the shocker. The man was revealed to be Bully’s long time former tag team partner Devon.

It was a genuine shocker as Devon “revealed” on Twitter that he had left the company and he even vacated the TNA Television title. To see Devon was quite a stunner but it was a interesting plot twist considering Bully’s involvement in the fight against the group.

With full access, the group fought with the Impact roster more frequently and more members would soon be unmasked. D.O.C. (a.k.a. Luke Gallows) was the second man unmasked from Aces and Eights and took out Sting with a hammer to save his position within the club. Knux (a.k.a. Knux) was also revealed when Sting returned following the attack from D.O.C. Mr Anderson was also recruited to the club after they pointed out TNA’s negligence towards Anderson when the group took him out. Tazz was revealed as a member of the group during Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan’s wedding. Wes Brisco and Garrett Bischoff, two men that had been mentored by Kurt Angle, were also revealed to be associated with the group when they took out Kurt in a steel cage. The vice president of the Aces and Eights was revealed to be D-Lo Brown after he kicked Kurt Angle in the nuts. This left one member of the Aces and Eights still unmasked and one question left unanswered… just who was the leader? At Lockdown 2013, we got an answer.

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During Bully Ray’s TNA World title match against the champion Jeff Hardy, Aces and Eights found their way into the steel cage. Devon was armed with a hammer which he simply tossed to Bully. When Jeff’s back was turned, Bully smacked Jeff in the head with it. Bully pinned Jeff to become the TNA World Heavyweight Champion and he revealed himself as the president of Aces and Eights.

This was the culmination of a nine-month plan by Bully to become the TNA World Champion and it was actually one of the rare instances where TNA followed through with their long term planning. The reveals of each member was clearly well thought of by the writers with the big end game being Bully Ray winning the TNA World title. They had a plan and they stuck with it. A lot of the Aces and Eights stuff leading up to Lockdown was hard to deal with, I must admit. However, there weren’t a lot of plot holes with the story. Bully Ray addressed a lot of the plot holes fans might have pointed out over the course of the storyline in a great segment on Impact a few weeks later, when Bully revealed the whole plan.

One of the biggest plot holes I can remember up until Lockdown was Kurt unmasking the vice president in a backstage segment (in a camera angle where the viewers couldn’t see who Kurt unmasked) and not saying a word about it until the next week when he did his segment with D-Lo. Right, because Kurt just kept this important information to himself for a week? It could have possibly been covered up with Kurt giving D-Lo a chance to reveal himself but this was never mentioned by any of the commentators.

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The Aces and Eights were riding high with Bully being the TNA World champion, Devon being the TV champion again and the rest of the group working their way through the roster. Bully ended up retaining against Jeff in a Full Metal Mayhem match and a No Holds Barred match with Sting, with the latter never getting another TNA title shot if he lost. D-Lo was also kicked out of the group during this time for losing a I Quit match to Kurt and a number of other botches which cost the group as well.

There was more dissension within the group as D.O.C. and Mr Anderson argued over who should replace D-Lo as the Vice President. This led to an all Aces and Eights battle royal which saw D.O.C. refuse to go over the top rope and let Mr Anderson win. Anderson was also elected Vice President but the storyline was never really followed up on, as D.O.C. was eventually released from the company.

Bully feuded with Chris Sabin, who had cashed in his X-Division title for a shot at the TNA World title. Sabin beat Bully for the TNA World title at Destination X but would drop the belt back to Bully in a cage match due to interference from the newest member of the group… Tito Ortiz.

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Yes, the MMA legend Tito Ortiz became a member of the group as part of TNA’s working relationship with Bellator MMA. It was really a cheap version of Mike Tyson joining DX which really put a sour taste in a lot of TNA fans’ mouths. Miss Tessmacher also became a member of the group as Bully’s new squeeze. These two new additions to the group was questioned by Anderson, but Bully just told Anderson off for doing so. In order to cause further dissension in the group, Hulk Hogan claimed that one of the members of Aces and Eights would get the title shot. Anderson was revealed as the number one contender and effectively left the group by costing Bully a match with Sting. However, Anderson was unable to capture the gold and Bully rolled onto Bound For Glory and a title defence against AJ Styles.

In case you were wondering, the whole Tito Ortiz/Aces and Eights deal came to close in just a few weeks when Bellator told TNA that they didn’t want MMA fighters appearing in TNA segments any more. Wes was also kicked out of the group by Bully Ray for losing a match and Devon was exiled from TNA after getting pinned in a five on five tag team match against the Main Event Mafia. It seemed that with a lot of the members leaving, the group was going to be finished real soon.

After Bully lost the title, Anderson returned for revenge on Bully for taking him out. Anderson also tried to cause further dissension from within the group but the group stayed united. In the end, Anderson beat Bully on November 21st 2013 to officially put an end to the group and this storyline.

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Overall, the Aces and Eights storyline was not a bad storyline. It was at least a storyline that the TNA writers stuck with and some of the long term planning paid off after Bully Ray was revealed as the president of the club. It seemed that it all the months of planning and swerves eventually came together. Like a lot of past stables in wrestling history, the biggest issue was the last few months for the group. It just seemed that there wasn’t any particular long term plans for the finish of the program, which really hurt it in the end. The suggestion that this was one of the worst stables in wrestling history is just absurd. There were far worse stables like the Corre and the New Blood that were treat far worse than these group of bikers. In the end it made Bully Ray a main event star, featured as much of the TNA roster as possible and did put TNA on the right track in terms of its storylines after the whole deal with Immortal. Here’s to you Aces and Eights. May you ride your mopeds to the shores of Valhalla…

Wrestling Flashback – The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels & Triple H Wrestlemania Feud

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The Undertaker’s streak. Many tried to beat it. Monsters like Mark Henry, King Kong Bundy and Giant Gonzalez have tried to crush the Dead Man. They failed. Some have put up championships against the Undertaker, hoping to be known as the great champion that ended the Undertaker’s streak. Batista, Edge and Psycho Sid all put their titles on the line against Undertaker, only to lose those belts they hold dear and become part of the streak. Men like CM Punk had tried to use head games as a means to break the streak, but could not get the job done. Many tried. One succeeded. However, none of the matches came close to the excitement and story-telling than Undertaker’s streak of matches against Shawn Michaels and Triple H.

It was not like none of matches before his encounters with Shawn and Triple H, that spanned from Wrestlemania 25 to Wrestlemania 28, were any good. There were some beauties that the Undertaker took part in against the likes of Randy Orton, Batista, Edge, Ric Flair and even Triple H at Wrestlemania 17. However, none of them stole the show quite like the matches in the saga between Taker, Michaels and Triple H.

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These matches were usually a thing of beauty but the story-telling of these matches were even more impressive. At Wrestlemania 25, Shawn Michaels was the first man to step up. With Shawn Michaels being almost an exclusive to the RAW brand and the Undertaker being almost exclusive to SmackDown!, these two legends never seemed to collide during the brand split of WWE. However, when the two of them would battle in the Royal Rumble, it was usually exceptional. Undertaker and Shawn Michaels produced possibly the best finish to a Royal Rumble match in 2007. While Undertaker won that particular encounter, Shawn returned the favour by eliminating Undertaker at the 2008 Royal Rumble. At Wrestlemania 25, we got to see Shawn and Undertaker go at it for the first time since 1998… in a match that put an end to Shawn’s career for four years.

Shawn was confident though, particular bragging pre-match about how the Undertaker had never beaten him. The two clashed and it was quite possibly the best Wrestlemania match we’ll ever see in our life time. These men kicked out of everything they could throw at each other. Shawn even kicked out of the Undertaker’s tombstone piledriver which caused Jim Ross to, and I quote, “have an out-of-body experience.” In the end, Undertaker prevailed in what was the match of the night by a HUGE margin. And they weren’t finished there…

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Both Undertaker and Shawn Michaels would take a hiatus from the WWE following Wrestlemania, returning in August 2009. Shawn had re-united DX and battled Legacy and Jeri-Show en route to winning the Unified WWE Tag Team titles while Undertaker dominated the SmackDown! roster en route to winning the World Heavyweight Championship. At the 2009 Slammys, Michaels and Taker won the Slammy for Match of the Year. While accepting the award, Michaels issued a challenge to the Undertaker for a rematch at Wrestlemania 26. Undertaker declined, so Michaels would try to force the issue at the 2010 Royal Rumble. If Michaels won the match, he could challenge for Undertaker’s World title and more importantly… the streak. Sadly, Shawn was not able to win the rumble match. Shawn’s life continued to deteriorate, as he was unable to accept his loss to the Undertaker the year before. Michaels’ obsession would lead to Elimination Chamber, where he cost Undertaker the World title. The next night on RAW, Michaels goaded Taker into a rematch claiming that Taker wanted revenge. Taker accepted with one condition… if Shawn lost, his career would be over. Michaels stated that if he couldn’t be Undertaker, he’d have no career and he accepted the stipulation.

While this match was not at the level of their match at Wrestlemania 25, this was still great. It was the main event of the show and rightfully so. Shawn kicked out of everything the Undertaker had and refused to go down. Michaels slapped Undertaker to get him to fight and Undertaker went into a fury. Taker gave Michaels one final tombstone and that was that…. Shawn Michaels’ career was over.

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Having beaten Shawn Michaels in two incredible Wrestlemania matches in a row, the question was this… what could WWE possibly do to follow up two of the greatest matches in Wrestlemania history? Their solution was to put Undertaker up against the “Cerebral Assassin” Triple H at Wrestlemania 27…

Undertaker and Triple H had faced each other at Wrestlemania before but this one was very special and necessary for a few reasons…

  1. Their match at Wrestlemania 27 would be a rematch from their previous Wrestlemania 17 showdown ten years before… which Undertaker won.
  2. It’d make sense for Triple H to try and avenge his best friend Shawn Michaels, who had his career ended by the Undertaker.
  3. Triple H and Undertaker, like Shawn and Taker, have both been near-exclusives to the RAW and SmackDown! brands respectively. Therefore, they’ve not really had any big programs together for almost a decade. This was unique.

The first match was made No Holds Barred match. This helped appeal to the intensity of both these characters. These men could go all out and they did. It was hard-hitting and it just helped Taker and HHH thrive. This was not like the wrestling masterpiece that the Michaels/Taker matches were. This was a straight up battle. It suited both men well.

This match was also unique in it’s layout. The story of the match was last outlaw of WWE refusing to give up as Triple H was wanting to put him away. It was not like Undertaker and Triple H just had a great back-and-forth match. It was initially, but then Triple H just simply battered Undertaker. He battered him with chairs, pedigrees and even a TOMBSTONE of his own! However, Undertaker still refused to give. Triple H wanted to end things with his trusty sledgehammer, but Undertaker locked on Hells Gate to make Triple H tap and escape with the streak intact. However, Undertaker ended up being carried out on a stretcher. Undertaker won, but it hardly seemed like a victory. This match was the brightest spark during a pretty lame Wrestlemania 27. The ending was also the perfect set-up for a rematch…

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While Undertaker had spent the year on the sidelines, Triple H had been through a fair amount of character development. Following Money In The Bank 2011, Triple H would take the reins in WWE as the COO. He had traded in his wrestling gear for a suit as he started doing more paperwork than pedigrees. On an episode of RAW in January 2012, Triple H was about to fire Interim GM John Laurinaitis. As he was doing it though, we heard that all too familiar gong. Undertaker returned, hinting towards the rematch. However, Triple H seemed to take a pass on one final match.

Despite pressure from Undertaker and even Shawn Michaels, Triple H refused to face Taker as he didn’t want to destroy the “brand” of the streak that helped made Wrestlemania such a success. It was great that the build up to this match was also able to tie-in to Triple H’s role as COO as well. Undertaker was adamant about erasing the memory of Triple H forcing Taker onto a stretcher the year before and offered Triple H one more shot at immortality. Undertaker went as far as to call HHH a coward and claim Shawn was always better than him, which pushed HHH over the edge. Triple H accepted on one condition… Hell in a Cell.

This was an appropriate finish to this four year storyline. As pointed out, Taker and HHH had a lot of history inside the cell. A standard match might have not had as much impact. The Cell made more sense from a storyline standpoint. Shawn Michaels was also added to the match as he had the streak in the palm of his hand. The stage is set. At Wrestlemania 28, Taker beat Triple H in the cell to take the streak to 20-0 and end the era which I believe was simply this four year storyline. While a lot of people might not have gotten the “End of an Era” billing of the match, I think it was just this era of Wrestlemania matches which was centred around Michaels, Taker and HHH. Jim Ross was also brought into to commentate the match and did a great job.

Now, I’m going to say something which will not be a popular opinion… I was left disappointed by this match. This was by no means a terrible match. It was not as great as their match at Wrestlemania 27 but it was still a great match. However, there were a few things about it that really hurt the match in my opinion.

The first issue I had with it was Shawn Michaels as the special referee. The reason Shawn gets a bit of criticism is because it wasn’t really made clear what his motivation was leading into this match. It was kind of hinted on television that he was going to screw Undertaker. However, the storyline in the match became about whether Michaels would allow his friend to do what Michaels himself was unable to do or if he would help his friend end the streak of the man that had ended Michaels’ career. Therefore, everything Shawn was doing as the referee was just dead confusing to me. He teased calling for the bell, then he jumped in when Triple H was beating Undertaker with the chair and then he tried to screw Taker himself with the super kick. By the way, that Super Kick/Pedigree spot was the highlight of the night.

The point is, Michaels’ actions just came off as so confusing that it looked for all the world like he was Darth Vader struggling to decide between saving Luke or siding with the Emperor but it was done in such a complicated matter that it took way from his role as referee. There was also the use of the Hell in a Cell itself. Now let me just make clear that I did not expect HHH and Taker to do something crazy like going to the top of the cell. However, HHH said in a promo leading into the match that he and Taker should “go all the way.” To me, it didn’t look like they “went all the way.” It looked like they just did a repeat of the match from the year before, added Shawn Michaels and a Cell. They rarely ever used the cell. I would have preferred it if they just left it to being a singles match with Shawn as the referee. At least then, the cell wouldn’t have limited Triple H and Undertaker.

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With that being said though, this was still a great match. The hug at the end was great and it was a great way for this saga to end.

Wrestling Flashback – Joey Styles’ RAW Shoot Promo In 2006

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In October 2005, Jim Ross was fired (kayfabe) as play-by-play commentator of RAW in a rather embarrassing way. After Stone Cold Steve Austin had stunned every member of the McMahon family the previous week, Jim Ross was the scapegoat. Vince and Stephanie McMahon put the blame on him and picked on him until Linda McMahon came to his aid. On television, Linda and JR had a great relationship. In a big swerve though, Linda fired JR and kicked him in the nuts.

This was really just done so JR could recover from colon surgery. However, this provided an opportunity for a new RAW commentator to get a shot at covering the flagship show of WWE…

On November 7th 2005, JR’s replacement was finally introduced. It was revealed that former ECW commentator Joey Styles would be the newest play-by-play commentator for Monday Night RAW. Joey was doing commentary for ECW One Night Stand but this was his first true stint as an announcer for WWE programming.

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For Joey Styles, this was a completely new environment to ECW. Joey was mostly a solo commentator for ECW events and his world would change as he became the new voice of Monday Night RAW. However, Joey was doing a fine job adapting to this new sports entertainment environment. That was until Wrestlemania 22 came along… and Joey Styles was bumped from the show in favour of Jim Ross.

Joey was allowed to commentate on the Edge vs Mick Foley hardcore match, fulfilling his dream of one day calling a Wrestlemania match. Luckily for Joey, he was able to call probably the best match of the night. However, Joey’s dismissal from the rest of the show was very interesting as he would return to commentating on RAW the next night. He would also miss out on the opportunity to call RAW’s next PPV Backlash, with JR being selected once again.

Eventually, Joey Styles’ frustrations with the WWE dealings backstage eventually spilled out onto RAW. On the May 1st 2006 edition of RAW, the general managers of the show were the Spirit Squad. Kenny was booked to challenge John Cena for the WWE Championship. Joey was instructed by the Spirit Squad to show some spirit when Kenny wins the title, being forced to wear a cheerleader’s outfit if he didn’t do a good enough job.

Joey Styles returned to commentary as Jerry Lawler also urged Joey to show some spirit. Joey finally decided that he had enough, calling Jerry a hack and slapping him. Jerry pushed him over and Joey ran to the back. Jerry Lawler apologised and wanted Joey to come back out. Joey came back out and the speech he gave was nothing short of fantastic. Below is the full transcript of what was an incredible “worked shoot” promo cut live on WWE RAW by the voice of ECW…

  • “You want to apologize? Like nothing happened. Like you didn’t knock me on my ass in front of millions of people worldwide, and I’m gonna come down there and work with you. I’m not coming back, and now thanks to the magic of live television I’m gonna show the whole world, why for seven years in ECW I was the unscripted, uncensored, loose cannon of commentary. Six months ago, WWE called me, I didn’t call this company because I was looking for a job. I didn’t need a job. WWE called me because they had humiliated and fired…again, Jim Ross. So I get JR’s spot, and from week one, week after week I’ve got an ongoing lecture about the differences in professional wrestling and sports entertainment. I’m not allowed to say ‘pro wrestling’, I’m not allowed to say ‘wrestler’. I have to say ‘sports entertainment’ and refer to the wrestlers as ‘superstars’. I’m told to deliberately ignore the moves and the holds during the matches so I can tell stories. Well ignoring the moves and the holds is damn insulting to the athletes, the ‘wrestlers’, not the entertainers who leave their families three hundred days a year to ply their craft in that ring. Here’s the best part, because I’m not a sports entertainment storyteller I get pulled from Wrestlemania, and the reason I’m given is, is because I don’t sound like Jim Ross who’s the guy they fired in the first place. That makes sense, right? So I swallow the bitter pill, I’m a company guy. I get bumped from Wrestlemania. Then I get bumped from Backlash? I’m not good enough to call Backlash!? In ECW, I called live pay-per-views on my own, solo, no colour commentators dragging me down. Wasn’t done before me, hasn’t been done since. But I’m not good enough to call Backlash because I’m not a sports entertainment storyteller. Well you know what? I am sick of sports entertainment. I am sick of male cheerleaders. I am sick of boogers and bathroom humour and semen and I am sick of our chairman. Who likes to talk about his own semen, he mocks God… he mocks God!!!!! And makes out with the divas all to feed his own insatiable ego. I am sick of sports entertainment, and most of all I am sick of you fans who actually buy into that crap! This sports entertainment circus! I never
    needed this job, and I don’t want this job anymore.”

With this speech, he quit the WWE.

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Joey was eventually brought back as part of the ECW revival beginning at ECW One Night Stand 2006 and he actually still works in WWE backstage today. However, this promo was nothing short of fantastic. Back then, the WWE was still very protective of the kayfabe of storylines. Therefore, shoot promos in WWE were very rare.

Wade Keller wrote about this for PWTorch at the time in 2006, saying:

“What stands out the most is that he was allowed to rip on the WWE product. For years, announcers have been discouraged from referring to in–ring athletes as “wrestlers” and instead refer to them as “superstars” dating back to the 1980s. That policy was inspired in part in a desire to distance themselves from pro wrestling’s tawdry image, but it was also an attempt at a self–fulfilling prophesy. Referring to the athletes as superstars elevated their image through their label as being more than “just fake wrestlers.” For Styles to be allowed to point it out, though, means WWE fans will be more tuned in to WWE’s usage of language in the future.”

The fans were never TRULY able to get much detail about the backstage dealings in WWE, unless you had access to the internet. Joey gave the fans an insight into how commentators were told to behave by the WWE. Of course, JR or Michael Cole were never going to tell the audience what Vince McMahon is shouting down their ear. However, Joey was in a position where he was able to let the fans into that world WITHOUT using terminology that was too insider for the majority of fans to get. This was not like Vince Russo, who used shoot terminology a lot during his time as a writer. This was enough so that the fans could get a rare taste of what happens backstage but it wasn’t too much that the fans wouldn’t understand. As an introduction to the backstage dealings at WWE, this was great.

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I believe that this was probably one of the greatest shoot promos in wrestling history. It was not as ground-breaking as CM Punk’s infamous pipebomb and it wasn’t as scathing as Paul Heyman’s shoot on Vince McMahon was back in 2001. However, it was exactly the type of thing the revived ECW would need going forward. Joey had to make it clear that what he would eventually be apart of was nothing like RAW or SmackDown!

This was special because back then, the line between reality and fiction was never really shattered before in such a manner. Paul Heyman talked about the WWF’s presentation of sports entertainment before in his shoot promo but Joey properly exposed the lack of wrestling in the product. When Heyman cut his promo, there was still a lot of attention given to wrestling. When Styles cut his promo, RAW’s storylines at the time included a bunch of cheerleaders, Kane feuding with himself and Vince McMahon depicting himself as god. After all of these storylines, the fans realised just how much on the money Styles was. This worked… sublimely.

Wrestling Flashback – Rufus “Pancake” Patterson

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Today on the Wrestling Flashback is the Prime Time Players. This is actually due to an appearance the Prime Time Players made on Chris Jericho’s podcast. On the podcast, they talked about coming up with the idea of Rufus “Pancake” Patterson as an alter-ego for Titus O’Neil.

Why did they call him pancake?

Because he flattens fools!

This gimmick ended up being a one time thing which they did on WWE television. They did film a couple of segments for the WWE App but it only ever appeared ONCE on WWE Television. What’s interesting though is that they appeared at one of the top time slots for a WWE show… they showed up at the start of the show during a segment with John Cena.

John Cena was talking about how he was ready to face The Rock for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 29. This kicked off RAW, so they were kicking off RAW to promote the main event of Wrestlemania 29 with Cena. This was interrupted by the Prime Time Players. They start to cut this promo and Cena cuts them off. He was about to introduce them but Titus cuts him off to proclaim himself as “Titus’ nephew”. His name was actually Rufus “Pancake” Patterson.

I always thought the debut of this gimmick as part of the program including John Cena and The Rock was very interesting. On Jericho’s podcast, Titus and Darren talked about the pressure of opening the show and I don’t blame them for being nervous.

This was a gimmick that was really hit or miss experiment. For me, it was either you loved it or you hated it. For me, it was a hit. Titus always had a great sense of humour and I think if this was given a few months, this gimmick could have gotten really over. Probably not to the status of an alter-ego gimmick like Dude Love or Mankind. However, Titus and Darren just had great chemistry that I think would of worked out for the best. If Titus was the manager of Darren (like he was during Young’s match with Cena after the above segment I was talking about) it could have helped both Darren and Titus. Titus would have been able to get over just by his mannerisms and mic work. Darren could have built up a good record in the ring and could have been elevated as a singles star.

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Let’s be honest, the original split of the Prime Time Players didn’t go as planned. However, I think the opportunity to have both them stand out as individuals first while still being a tag team could have been a success. When they split up, Darren and Titus weren’t able to create a unique identity for themselves before doing so. If they were to have this gimmick run on for a while on television, Titus and Darren can get over as themselves so the split means they didn’t have to rely on each other to get over.

I really wish we saw a bit more of Rufus “Pancake” Patterson. With enough screen time, I truly believe he could have been worth Millions of Dollars…

Wrestling Flashback – WWE Hell in a Cell 2012 Review

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When I first started with blogging, I was really first experimenting with a bunch of other websites. Among these efforts, I started a Tumblr account featuring wrestling, football and music among other things. It was during this time when I started doing wrestling reviews and viewing wrestling from a critical standpoint. Anyway, I figured I’d upload this because it’s always nice to go back and look at how I did business back then.

To give a bit of background, Hell in a Cell was a PPV WWE had six weeks to build. There was an ongoing saga on RAW about who’d face CM Punk for the WWE Championship. Ryback eventually was chosen (as John Cena had gotten injured) and there was a lot of pressure on this match to perform. Also, the finish of the match was really up in the air. Would the WWE sacrifice the historic championship reign of CM Punk or the undefeated streak of Ryback?

NOTES: The paragraphs in italics are what was written at the time, back in 2012.

Anyway, so I started things off by talking about my expectations of the main event…

  • “Well, Hell In A Cell 2012 – an event which I stayed up to watch last night. In the UK, Hell In A Cell started at Midnight, and didn’t finish until 3:00am. It was a risk I was going to take, because I thought it’d be better than I expected it to be. I thought that Ryback vs CM Punk would be a hell of a main event, and I thought some of the lower card matches would have been really good.”

It’s kind of weird going back to this review and talking about watching this PPV live. I honestly stayed up to watch it live because there was a lot of anticipation about how this match was going to go. Also, Skip Sheffield had been working mostly short matches since he returned repackaged as “Ryback” in 2012. It was interesting to see if he could deliver a top main event match with someone like CM Punk. The reasons all this is funny is because I watched RAW live THIS WEEK with high expectations and being a bit let down! By the way, you can check out this week’s RAW review at this link. You can read all about what I felt about Seth Rollins, Sting and everything.

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  • “It was sort of a card of two halves if you will. A really good first half, and a really bad second half. That’s not good news, because the 2nd half should really be the better half, considering them matches are supposed to be the big draws of a PPV. Considering they had six weeks to build up an Hell In A Cell Pay-Per-View, surely they could have done a better job at doing it. I understand why hyping up the WWE Title Match would have been awkward considering the circumstances, but the rest of the card should have had a lot more advertisement. A quarter of the matches showcased were unadvertised matches. For me, that’s not on.”

To be fair, WWE has improved a bit in terms of the promotion of its PPVs. Back then though, it was really lackluster. There were a few instances where a completely random match would be shot on the card to make up time. The reason this annoyed me is because these were usually matches we might have wanted to see. This PPV in particular featured the likes of Rey Mysterio and US Champion Antonio Cesaro wrestling in “bonus matches”. However, I think there’s been a lot more effort put in towards PPV promotions nowadays. With this year’s Night of Champions, the majority of the matches have been announced with weeks to spare. The only title match that hasn’t been announced so far has been the Intercontinental Championship. However, they’ve been hyping up the program on that title match to a degree anyway. They’ll probably just announce that match on RAW.

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  • “Now on the PPV itself. We kicked things off with Randy Orton defeating Alberto Del Rio after Orton countered an enziguri by Del Rio into an RKO for the win. While that was a pretty cool finish to the match, it is also the 2ND PPV in a row that saw Randy Orton defeat an up-and-coming heel. Orton should have let Del Rio beat him on the PPV, especially if they want the feud to continue. The match was a lot more quicker paced than I expected, but there were a few botches during the match that dampened it’s quality. I think this match should have been slightly longer, but it was good for the amount of time it was on. I hope this feud continues, and Del Rio wins the next round.”

This was the second time in a PPV that Randy Orton had beaten a heel clean. He beat “Mr Money In The Bank” Dolph Ziggler at Night of Champions 2012 and followed it up by defeating Del Rio. This match I think was the second best match of the night, looking back now. There’s one botch which I never mentioned which I think took away from the match itself. Del Rio tried to jump off the top rope and ended up landed in front of Orton and then just started punching him. With that botch in mind though, this was a great match. At least JBL actually mentioned the botched, calling out Del Rio’s decision to jump off the top. Great recovery by JBL.

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  • “Next on the agenda is the WWE Tag Team Championship match, which saw Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow defeat Kane and Daniel Bryan by disqualification after Kane wouldn’t stop hitting Cody Rhodes (I think it was Cody anyway). Seriously, a DQ FINISH on a PAY PER VIEW? That was definitely not necessary for this match. On RAW or SmackDown! YES, but not a Pay Per View. It devalues the tournament beforehand, considering Rhodes and Sandow, who went through 3 tag teams just to get the title shot, won the match but not the titles, because the other team got themselves DQ’d. It kinda gives you the feeling that Sandow and Rhodes got screwed. Nevertheless, the match was pretty good. I’ve been noticing improvements in tag team match qualities as of late, which is definitely a good sign. They played off Kane and Daniel Bryan not working together, with Daniel Bryan accidentally hitting Kane with the high knee, and stuff like that. I think it was a good match, other than the finish.”

I totally stand by what I said here. The thing about this match was that this was around the time where the Team Hell-No team were at their peak. They won the tag titles on the PPV before and were having great segments on RAW and SmackDown! The feud itself between the two teams was really good. I like how Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes had to win a tag team tournament in order to get this title shot. However, their title shot ended in a DQ. It wasn’t really like a legitimate DQ either. Kane was, to quote Vinny from the Bryan and Vinny show, disqualified for kicking too much ass. Considering all of the build with the Team Hell-No segments and the tag team tournament, the finish was pretty much a let down. However, I do remember it being a good match despite the finish.

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  • “Match of the night goes to the Intercontinental Championship match, where Kofi Kingston defeated The Miz to retain the title. This was really fast paced match, and the two put on a hell of a show. These two really work well together, and given more time, that match could have been one of the matches of the year (no kidding).  I thought it was good when Miz started focusing on Kofi’s leg. Miz targeting a body part and attacking it, actually brought a bit of realism into play. Miz started ripping of Kofi’s boots and did leg DDTs and really showed off the amount of pain Kofi was supposed to be in. Really good. The match has done wonders for the title’s prestige as this was a really good back-and-forth match, and this match will only benefit both guys. One minor complaint – DON’T GIVE KOFI THE MIC. He was interviewed after the match, and I swear, he can not cut a good enough promo, which is a shame because it has held him back in the past, just like it held John Morrison back in the pass. Miz could move on to bigger and better things following this loss, if utilized correctly.

I think, looking back, I gave this match a lot more credit than I should have. I think, compared to everything else on the show, it was probably decent. However, it was certainly not the best match of this show. It was above average at best. I said that given more time, this could have been a contender for match of the year. I realize now I was wrong. I don’t think this match was as good as I said it would be. Kofi’s not as bad on the mic as I made him out to be. If the New Day is any proof, Kofi can be great on the mic if given the chance.

  •  “Also, there was a funny segment with Kane and Daniel Bryan arguing. Good humor. What I think they are missing is Dr Shelby. Whatever happened to him? He need to be brought back.”

I think what happened to Dr Shelby was that WWE didn’t feel the need to use him. To be fair, Daniel and Kane were awesome by themselves. However, I just loved Dr Shelby’s role in their entire storyline. He was the peacemaker in this funny and he was just amazing every time I saw him. I wish there were something for him to do in WWE right now, because I miss him dearly!

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  • “Next, in the first non-advertised match of the night, Antonio Cesaro defeated Justin Gabriel to retain the US Championship. Essentially a squash match. The fans kept chanting “We Want Ryder” during the match (which shows how well they were into the match). For what it, was the match was OK. The spot with Gabriel diving to the outside only to fly into a shoryuken from Cesaro was pretty cool. However, the ending of the match was predictable. Cesaro needs some serious competition for the US Championship, in order to bump up it’s credibility. Maybe R-Truth, or Christian when he comes back. Cesaro and the US Championship needs to be built up better. He can’t be beating up these jobbers all time.”

This was actually a lot better of a match than I made it out to be. It was just infuriating seeing Cesaro’s competition at the time. In hindsight, it was a rare chance to see Justin Gabriel get a chance to shine on PPV. However, Cesaro’s title reign was not helped with who he was going up against. It was very difficult for Cesaro to ascend into stardom at the time.

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  • “Non-Advertised Match Number Two – Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara defeated the Prime Time Players in a tag team match. Another good tag team match. I thought they did well considering there differences in style. The match was decently paced. Sin Cara performed really well (NO BOTCHES!) and the match was given a good amount of time to showcase all the talent available. I think both tag teams will benefit from this match. Maybe if they did a Fatal Four Way Tag Team Match, with Team Hell-No, Rhodes-Scholars, Prime Time Players and Mysterio and Sin Cara at Survivor Series, then the tag team division would be given a really good boost. However, during the match, Sin Cara attempted an Asai DDT (the move Ultimo Dragon used to do) on Titus O’Neil but he landed on his head (ouch). He’s apparently doing fine now though, so good news coming off that. It’s nice that Sin Cara’s finally getting some momentum in WWE. It’d be a shame for it to end like that.”

I can’t really remember this match too well but I do remember the spot with Sin Cara’s Asai DDT. It looked naughty at the time and thankfully, he was OK after it happened. I did like the Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara tag team they had going on. I feel that it was a shame that WWE didn’t do the Lucha dream match of Mysterio vs Sin Cara. At least AAA did it recently…

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What followed this was Big Show defeating Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship. At the time, I thought this match was boring. I loved the finish but I just was not into this program. I thought the promotion they did for this program on SmackDown! was lame and I didn’t think it lived up to the build. Looking back… I was wrong.

I was amazed by how wrong I was when I first wrote it. The reason this match was so good is because I was going into this match not expecting a great deal with regards to the in-ring action. However, these two big guys put on a clinic. The near falls for the Brogue Kicks and WMDs were amazing. I got a chance to rewatch it before this review and it was a quality match. It was probably one of, if not the, greatest matches Sheamus has ever had in WWE. It was probably one of the greatest matches Big Show has ever had in WWE.

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  • “Next, a backstage segment involving Eve Torres and Teddy Long arguing, before Zack Ryder came in, dressed as a witch, and effectively calling Eve a bitch, before she stormed off for her title match (more on that later on). Santino Marrella then showed, dressed like Lady Gaga. And then one of the most WTF moments of the year happened with Santino singing some Lady Gaga song. Ron Simmons then came in to deliver the verdict, which all of us were probably thinking… DAMN.”

I remember this! It was a REALLY whacky segment! I was however hyped that Ron Simmons was there!

  • “Divas Title match next. Eve defeated Layla and Kaitlyn to retain the title in a triple threat match. Kaitlyn stood out from the crowd. Good signs of improvement from her. But other than that, it was a pretty sloppy match. Didn’t care a lot about this match.”

Yeah, the Divas Division WAS NOT strong during this period. This was a part of the “Who Attacked Kaitlyn?” angle which was one of the worst divas angles of all time. This match was very hard to enjoy for me. I think I was probably justified with my analogy of this match.

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  • “NOW it’s time for the MAIN EVENT! Ryback vs CM Punk for the WWE Championship inside Hell In A Cell. Right, they started off the match with a little game of cat and mouse – Ryback chasing Punk inside the cell. Ryback would proceed to get some attacks in, and Punk ended up getting some digs in as well, which included CM moving out of the way to allow Ryback to run in the steps which I thought was pretty good. It was pretty evenly matched, and Ryback then got some momentum which would lead to Ryback quoting Shao Kahn, and saying “FINISH HIM”. Shell-Shocked was about to delivered, before the referee Bard Maddox, stopped Ryback in his tracks, low-blowed him, and did a fast count as Punk rolled up Ryback for the win. Wow.”
  • “Not happy with the match being as short as it was. The match was ended way to early, and not a lot happened during that match. Ryback did show us a bit more to him than usual, and he did use the cell as a weapon. However, that ending was terrible. It was an abrupt end, and it was a cheap way for Ryback to lose his streak. A roll-up? It didn’t make look CM Punk look good and it doesn’t make Ryback look good either. Neither did the post-match beatdown on CM Punk and the referee, which was slow paced, and the only noticeable incident was when Ryback threw the ref into a side of the cell. Also, the anti-climatic ending with Ryback performing Shell-Shock to CM Punk on top of the cell didn’t help things. Really? I was hoping for something really big to happen, but no. A Shell-shock on top of the cell really? A really disappointing main event, with a really disappointing finish. I don’t think that Ryback and CM Punk are done either. Urgghh.”

Yes. This really was a bad match. Considering the six week build up to this match and what was at stake for both gentlemen, WWE really dropped the ball. Ryback was white-hot in this period of his career and the WWE just threw his undefeated streak away like it was nothing. Ryback was just never able to recover after he lost that streak. I remembering arguing just before this PPV that it was more important for WWE to preserve CM Punk’s title reign than Ryback’s undefeated streak. I was wrong.

Looking back in hindsight, WWE’s plan with CM Punk was to have him hold onto the title until Royal Rumble. At the Royal Rumble, he was going to lose it to The Rock. If that was the plan anyway, then he should have just dropped the title to Ryback here. If Punk was going to drop the title anyway AND lose to the Undertaker, it was going to hurt all the momentum Punk had built. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for him to face Rock and Undertaker, since it WAS Rock and Undertaker. However, they could have made a star out of Ryback. He could have beaten Punk and then dropped the title back to him in the triple threat match at Survivor Series. Cena would have been pinned, so Ryback’s undefeated streak could still continue since he wasn’t pinned.

This match in general was just a REALLY bad main event. I think in the history of Hell in a Cell matches, this was probably one of the worst. I think that’s mostly due to all the hype they put into this and everything that was on the line. This match had a big impact on future programming and they ended match like that?

This sucked.

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  • “Like I said earlier, this was a PPV of two halves, the matches like the IC Title matches, and the tag team matches were really good, but the World Title matches and the divas match were really bad.  Really disappointed. Expected a lot more of the event. Survivor Series had better be an improvement. Because WWE are starting to get some competition from Impact Wrestling. TNA have been on fire lately, while WWE have been stinking up the place recently. WWE really has to impress, otherwise they are going to lose a lot of fans to the other show. There only a few things in WWE that are making the show tolerable these days.”

I think I was a bit TOO critical of WWE around this time! WWE was bad but it wasn’t “stinking up the place”!

I was wrong about the World title match being “really bad”. However, this really was a PPV of two halves. There was a lot of good action but there was a lot of bad action too including a horrible main event. I was right about one thing… TNA really was stepping up its game around this time. This was really a great period to be a TNA fan, as they were putting on some quality shows. They had some great storylines in place. Meanwhile, WWE were really off their game. I think as soon as The Shield debuted and they hit 2013, WWE started to gain some momentum. However, this Hell in a Cell was really not good enough.