Retro Express – Unforgiven 2008

Wweunforgiven2008poster

Coming off their first PG PPV in the “PG era” of WWE, the WWE came up with a new concept for a championship match type. This would be a new match that the WWE, World and ECW titles would all be defended in at Unforgiven, promoting excitement and unpredictability as five men would scramble to try and win the championship. The Championship Scramble saw CM Punk’s World title, Triple H’s WWE title and Mark Henry’s ECW title all in jeopardy. How many titles would change hands? Who would capture the gold? And finally, who would win the unsanctioned showdown between Shawn Michaels and the man that punched his wife at Summerslam? Well, let’s get to it….

 

WWE Unforgiven

Date: September 7th 2008

Brand: RAW, SmackDown! and ECW

City: Cleveland, Ohio

Attendance: 8,700

 

Mark Henry (c) vs Matt Hardy vs The Miz vs Finlay vs Chavo Guerrero in the ECW Championship Scramble match

7938564

Matt Hardy and The Miz were the first two entrants in the match. Both of them got surprisingly big reactions. I know that this pay-per-view took place in Cleveland, where The Miz is from, but it was not like Miz was extremely over at that time. This was when he was with John Morrison and was only just starting to make a name for himself. It’s still nice that he got the big reaction here though.

The first five minutes between Matt and Miz were actually pretty good with not much to report on. There were no falls in the first five minutes with Chavo Guerrero being the third entrant. Chavo immediately pinned Matt with the Frog Splash, to become the interim champion. Chavo was able to pull off a rolling heel kick which was done well. What was not well pulled off was the Miz’s double crossbody on Matt and Chavo, which barely got Chavo. I guess that one could be put on Chavo for not being in the right place but it still came off looking sloppy. Matt ran wild and pinned Chavo with the side effect to become the new champion.

The fourth entrant was Mark Henry with Tony Atlas as his manager. Matt, Miz and Chavo all ganged up on Mark Henry but he pushed them all away. He ran wild and pinned Chavo with the World’s Strongest Slam. He beat everyone up. There was one interesting thing to note as the interim champions tried to retain their titles. Matt Hardy did this earlier in the match but the interim champions wore down the other competitors with long submission holds. Mark got the pin fall on Chavo a minute after he got into the match so we had roughly three or four minutes of Mark Henry putting everyone in bearhugs before Finaly came out. It makes sense for Henry to do that but this completely drained the match of life for a long period of time.

As mentioned, Finlay was the last entrant. He kept hitting Henry with DDTs as he took it to the current champion. Hornswoggle’s distraction led to Finlay hitting Mark with the shillelagh. Finlay and Matt were able to dump Mark over the top rope and out of the equation. Finlay then quickly hit Matt with the Celtic Cross and pinned him to become the interim champion. That’s team work for you everybody!

Matt eventually became the champion again, pinning Miz after hitting the Twist of Fate. Then we got a pretty stupid couple of minutes as we were drawing to a close. Mark Henry is killing nearly everyone in the match with World’s Strongest Slams but Matt broke them up each time. It was the case where Mark hit the finisher, Matt broke it up, Mark moved Matt out of the way and then hit someone else with the finisher. As a fan, I had only one thought in my mind… why don’t you turn around and kill Matt Hardy, so he won’t be able to stop you from pinning these other guys? Mark Henry struck me as someone that was just not learning from his mistakes as Matt kept breaking up the pin! It was just amazing.

There was actually a moment where Mark hit the World’s Strongest Slam on Miz but Miz was up again after like 20-30 seconds! Thanks for the no-sell Miz!

There was a big scramble in the last few seconds of the match with everybody trying to get a pin fall on each other. Matt kept trying to break all of them until the clock expired and Matt was declared the winner. There was a big pop when Matt Hardy won the belt which really lifted the crowd after the last ten minutes of the match really took them out of the scramble. I thought this was an OK Scramble match which did not set too great a precedent for other Scramble matches to follow. It started off exciting and then Mark Henry showed up, which took me right out of the match. Then there was the Matt/Mark incident near the end of the match which made the match seem like a total mess at times. In the end, the crowd was happy so I can’t bash this too much.

Match Rating: **1/4

Jeff Hardy congratulated Matt on his big win and Matt wished Jeff luck in the WWE Championship Scramble match later on.

There was a quick shot of WWE Champion Triple H and World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk warming up backstage. They were the champions going into their respective Championship Scramble matches.

Cody Rhodes (c) and Ted DiBiase Jr (c) vs Shad Gaspard and JTG for the World Tag Team Championship

1280x720-GoG

The announcers mentioned that Shad was once a bodyguard for “Iron” Mike Tyson. Am I the only person in the world that questions why MIKE TYSON of all people would need a body guard? I watched something recently with him in and he still looked like a pretty mean guy. If I tried to jump Mike Tyson in the street, I highly doubt that he’d need Shad Gaspard watching his back!

This match was a nice little tag team match. Nothing too fancy but it was just your slightly-above-average tag team match which was not really messed up at all. There was a funny incident at the start of the match where JTG was pulled off from Cody by the referee and JTG yelled “What are you doing?” Cody went for the moonsault but JTG moved out of the way. Shad got the hot tag. Cody hit the DDT on Shad while the referee was distracted but Shad would kick out of DiBiase’s pin. JTG and Cody became the legal men in the match. JTG went for the small-package on Cody but Ted rolled it over so Cody had JTG covered. The referee made the pin and the champions retained the titles. The two tag teams got into a brawl. Manu, the son of Afa, made his debut by turning the tide in the favour of the champions. They left and were feeling triumphant.

Match Rating: **1/2

Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho in an unsanctioned match

20110601_past_ppvs_unforgiven08_l

Shawn Michaels was shown to be taping up his arm for his big unsanctioned fight with Chris Jericho. They showed an awesome video package to recap the feud between Michaels and Jericho. The biggest thing that I took from this feud was that Jericho was justified in nearly all of his actions during this program. He made the point when he turned on Shawn about how the fans were booing an honest man (Jericho) and cheering a lair (Michaels). He did a tremendous job in making Michaels out to be a villain in nearly every scenario, even when he was supposed to retire at Summerslam 2008. Some of the lines thrown in this angle were awesome.

The WWE were actually just starting out in the “PG era” but there was one “we want blood” sign, which was surprisingly not confiscated by security. It is possible that WWE knew that there might be blood in Jericho/HBK anyway so maybe that’s why it wasn’t taken away. HBK attacked Jericho with punches early on. He took off his belt and smacked Jericho with it. They fought in the crowd. Michaels went for a chair shot on Jericho but he missed. Jericho did a DDT to Michaels on the outside, which looked effective. Jericho pulled out a table and hit Michaels with it. Jericho tried a powerbomb but he ended up launching Michaels into the apron.

Jericho beat up Michaels with a chair. Jericho wedged the chair in the corner. They teased Irish-whipping each other into it. Jericho tried to suplex Michaels through the table on the outside but Shawn got out of it. They then showed Michaels flat-out choking Jericho in the ring with a crazed look in his face. I thought that was a nice touch as it shows just how badly Michaels wanted to hurt Jericho. Shawn went for the Superkick but stopped and then just started punching Jericho in the face! The more I think about it, the more of a good spot this became in my mind. I think it’s changed my opinion because the match itself was a totally different type of match then you were used to from Michaels and Jericho. Therefore, these moments make a lot more sense than if Michaels were to have done it at WrestleMania 19 for example.

Michaels locked on the crossface but Jericho was able to hurdle Michaels face-first into the chair. This obviously added to what happened earlier in the storyline, with Jericho injuring Michaels’ eye. Jericho targeted the eye and with the vision of Michaels impaired a little, Jericho turned it into an amateur boxing match for a while! Jericho did the Irish Whip spot to Michaels, where Shawn did a flip in the corner. It was so great because the flip actually helped Michaels out, as it was done to the same corner where the chair was still wedged in!

Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho but Michaels got the ropes. However, Jericho didn’t have to let go as it was no disqualification. Shawn was able to get under the apron and pull out a fire extinguisher. He sprayed Jericho to get out of the Walls and he hit Jericho with the extinguisher. Michaels took Jericho up the ramp and did a nasty looking suplex on it. It honestly looked like it hurt Shawn more than it hurt Chris!

Lance Cade, who was Chris Jericho’s protege at the time, tried a run in but Michaels cut him off. Cade’s response was to TURN HIM INSIDE OUT with a clothesline! Jericho and Cade targeted Michaels’ taped up arm. Jericho slapped Michaels while Cade helped him. Cade brought in a chair and Jericho smacked Michaels in the arm with it. He planned to break Michaels’ arm by wrapping the chair around it and jumping off the top rope with some move. As he went up, Michaels got out of it and superkicked Cade. Michaels took the chair and hit Jericho with it, causing Jericho to crash into the table. I thought Cade’s involvement was really well done and it led to a great spot with Jericho falling into the table. I thought this was all great.

HBK then unleashed a barrage of one-handed chair shots to Jericho which I thought were great additions to the match. It made Michaels look so great while he was in this state-of-mind. He wanted to beat up Jericho with this chair so much that he decided to do it with one arm! Michaels put Cade and Jericho on the announce table and then hit an elbow drop off the top rope through the table.

HBK then whipped Jericho with the belt. In what was a great moment, HBK then started whipping Jericho in the eye! If you’ll recall, Michaels mentioned in a segment on RAW before this about an eye for an eye and Michaels was legitimately trying to take out Jericho’s. He then laid into Jericho with a number of bare-knuckle blows. Jericho was KO’d and the referee called for the bell. Some of the fans booed and a lot of the fans didn’t get the finish but it was still pulled off really well. In a way, they did contradict themselves with the rules by claiming that it could only end via pin fall or submission beforehand. Then again when thinking about the storyline, the referee probably thought that there was no way that Shawn was going to go for the cover and Jericho couldn’t submit as he was knocked out. When factoring all of those things, the referee calling for the bell does make sense.

HBK still continued to beat up Jericho and he even super-kicked one of the referees. More referees came out to stop Michaels and attend to Jericho. This was all splendid.

The match itself was pretty damn great. I know a lot of people didn’t get how the match was put together. To be honest, I was one of those people when I first watched this. There was parts of the matches which I never really understood until I watched it back recently. It wasn’t a match which everyone got but it was still masterfully put together. It’s unfair to compare this match to other Michaels vs Jericho matches as it was obviously not set out to be like those matches that we saw in the past. However, it was still pretty damn great. The match actually gets better and better the more I think about it. TWO HUGE THUMBS UP FOR THIS!

Match Rating: ****1/4

Legacy were backstage. Cody introduced Manu to Randy Orton and Ted asked if Orton was impressed. Orton said he wasn’t and proceeded to cut an amazing promo on Ted, Cody and Manu. He delivered a great speech about talent and ability, berating them for using tactics that people like Cryme Tyme would use on the street. He was not impressed.

Triple H (c) vs Jeff Hardy vs Shelton Benjamin vs The Brian Kendrick vs MVP in the WWE Championship Scramble match

Scramble Match_zps69lybesm
This was a championship scramble match mostly revolved around two men – Triple H and Jeff Hardy. At the end of the day, the winner of the match was going to be either one of those two. Therefore, this made everyone else in the match seem irrelevant (except for The Brian Kendrick, which we’ll get onto later). I don’t know if I were to have booked it like this, as the whole point of the match is surely to tease that anyone can win. If you were going to book it as they did, wouldn’t it make for sense for Jeff and Triple H to start off the match? That way, you can get the fans into the match early on and also give Jeff and Triple H experience in wrestling 20 minute title matches with each other, which is important as they would go on to fight each other for the title in the next few pay-per-views.

They went with Jeff Hardy  and Shelton Benjamin as the first and second entrants respectively. It was a decent first five minutes. There was one strange clothesline spot where Shelton went down and it appeared that he thought that they were going to do the double clothesline spot, where they both go down. The third entrant was The Brian Kendrick, who was with Ezekiel Jackson at this time. As he was coming down, Shelton was trying to hit Jeff with a  German Suplex off the apron. Kendrick cut him off. Kendrick was pinned soon after by Jeff Hardy with an alley oop.

This was the part of the show where I thought that the wrestlers themselves really didn’t understand the rules of the match. The Championship Scramble was actually a complicated concept but it was made worse by the fact that the interim-champion Jeff Hardy tried getting a pin fall on Shelton Benjamin. Why would Jeff need to bother getting another pin fall? Why didn’t he do what his brother did earlier on and just wear down his opponents? It wouldn’t have been too big of a deal had it not been for the finish, which we’ll get to later.

Shelton hit the Pay Dirt on Jeff and Kendrick followed it up with “The Kendrick” to pin Jeff Hardy. THE BRIAN KENDRICK became the interim WWE Champion. The Brian Kendrick was really the only one, other than Triple H and Jeff Hardy, that stood out like I mentioned earlier. Kendrick got the pin fall and the entire crowd was stunned as well as the commentators! He then served as the best interim champion in the history of the Championship Scramble! He looked like such a star for the next five minutes or so. MVP was the fourth entrant and ran wild. He went for the dive-by but Kendrick cut him off with one of the most beautiful leg lariats I’ve ever seen. Kendrick then started to do a tremendous job in making himself seem like a legitimate threat in this match. He was the best wrestler in the ring for the time that he was champion and was outclassing everyone! Then Triple H came in as the last entrant…

All of a sudden, things went downhill for Kendrick. Triple H ran wild and pinned Kendrick right away after a Pedigree to become the interim champion. All of a sudden it became the Triple H and Jeff Hardy show, with Kendrick playing the same role as everyone else. Shelton Irish-whipped Triple H into the steel steps. As this was going on, Jeff pinned MVP with the Twist of Fate. There were some boos as this happened, with the some of the crowd seeing where this was going.

In a terrible twenty seconds for Kendrick, Triple H pinned Kendrick again with the Pedigree. Triple H turned around to catch his breath, which apparently meant that Triple H had lost his hearing as well. The reason I say this is because as Triple H was turned around, Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb on Kendrick to a big pop. Jeff then pinned Kendrick to once again become the interim champion. There were only two men that were getting reactions at this point and they were Triple H and Jeff Hardy. If the crowd were going crazy, then Triple H surely should have figured out that Jeff was somehow back in the match and going for something big. Surely that should have forced Triple H to turn around and stop Jeff Hardy from getting the pin, which almost cost him the WWE Championship. But no. Hunter turned around with a shocked look in his face as he was no longer the interim champion.

There was an awesome tower of doom spot with Shelton Benjamin, MVP and The Brian Kendrick. All three men were down. In the closing seconds of this match, Jeff hit Shelton with the Swanton Bomb which was followed by Triple H giving MVP a pedigree. Triple H was going for the cover on MVP with Jeff Hardy stood right in front of him. Did Jeff Hardy try to break up the pin? No. He turned his attentions to Shelton and TRIED TO PIN HIM. Once again, YOU WERE ALREADY THE INTERIM CHAMPION! All Jeff Hardy had to do was make sure that Triple H didn’t pin MVP and he would have won the title right then and there. Instead, he allowed Triple H to get the pin fall and the announcers tried to play it up like Jeff was so close to winning the championship. They were right. He was so close but he failed out of his own stupidity. Jeff Hardy came off looking like the dumbest man alive in this match. He tried to pin other wrestlers while he was already the champion and had no clue of how the match worked in the slightest.

They also tried to go with the angle that Jeff was too hurt to recover and do anything. He was too hurt to break up the pin but he was OK enough to go try a pin on somebody else?

So Triple H got the pin fall at the end, which saw him retain the championship as the last man to get a pin or a submission. Other than the ending, this was a decent Championship Scramble. I would go as far as to call it the best scramble in the show but that is not saying much. It didn’t help the match when everyone involved had at least one moment where they did something stupid or was completely squashed. SmackDown! did not come off looking good following this pay-per-view.

Match Rating: **3/4

Shawn Michaels did an interview with Todd Grisham. Shawn said that he was content with what he had accomplished in his match with Jericho but he did not find closure. He said that if he could, he would deliver the same beating to Jericho every single day of his life. He warned Jericho that the worst is yet to come. For the fans, the best was yet to come as those two would go on to have an incredible match at No Mercy in the following month!

World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk was interviewed by Eve Torres, future Divas Champion. Randy Orton interrupted Punk’s interview. Orton called Punk a fluke champion. They had a back-and-forth until Cody, Ted and Manu all attacked Punk. Kofi Kingston tried to help Punk but he was beaten down too. Orton then ended the beating by punting CM Punk in the head. Orton would tell Legacy that this was impressive. They left.

Michelle McCool (c) vs Maryse for the Divas Championship

wwef_31338109_th_64

This was not great. Maryse could barely run the ropes in this match. Michelle tried to do a flip arm drag off the top rope but was only just able to land on her feet. They fought on the outside, with Michelle giving Maryse a clothesline off the barricade. The match actually did include a good of bit old ring psychology, with Maryse working on Michelle’s leg. Michelle then worked on Maryse’s leg. The big difference was that Maryse was selling her leg injury while Michelle wasn’t! I then was reduced to uncontrollable laughter after Maryse and Michelle tried a sunset flip. Maryse tried this sunset flip but it ended up with Maryse’s momentum causing Michelle to crush her!

Michelle won with a suplex facebuster for the pin fall. You could tell that the announcers barely cared about this match as about ten seconds after the match, Tazz suddenly just went “ooooh” as if he just realised that the match was over! This was slightly worse then your average women’s match. The only major thing that they messed up was the sunset flip which still brought me a fair amount of entertainment!

Match Rating: *1/4

They then cut to a poll that the WWE were running throughout the night. It was whether the Big Show should have been allowed to be in the WWE Championship Scramble. 77% of the fans said that he should have been in the match. I guarantee that if they ran this poll again in 2016 for whether the Big Show should be in the Elimination Chamber for example, 77% would have voted against having him in!

RAW General Manager Mike Adamle cut a promo. He announced that it looked like CM Punk was not going to be able to make it to the World Title Championship Scramble. He said if CM Punk couldn’t compete, he would find someone else to take his place. He guaranteed that a FIVE MAN championship scramble will take place tonight.

You know what’s funny about Mike Adamle is that I wasn’t really watching wrestling at this time period, so I never watched it during the Age of Adamle. If I was, I totally would have loved him as the general manager of RAW and here’s why. The thing is that I really loved John Laurinaitis, when he was in charge with People Power. I’m a sucker for characters that are so bad that they’re good. Even though he messed up a lot of promos and came out with some unintentionally great moments, there was never a moment where I wanted to turn off the television when Big Johnny came out. Mike Adamle had that same effect where you’re just watching him and you’re waiting for him to come out with a beauty of a line!

He never really messed up anything with this promo but I loved the way that he raised his voice at the end of his promo. Apparently John Cena convinced Adamle that the more you raise your voice, the better your promo will be!

Segment with Vickie Guerrero, Big Show and The Undertaker

a2818ee8-d725-499a-b51a-e6c31565fb27

Big Show came out. He was in his singlet. I was about to question why Big Show was coming out in his ring gear when he wasn’t scheduled to compete. As it turns out, he was lobbying himself to compete in the main event and take CM Punk’s place. Then again, Big Show didn’t know that there would be an open spot in the match until Adamle just announced it a minute or so earlier! So again… why was he in his gear?

He started his promo by just saying “Hi” which got some laughs. Big Show offered to be in the main event in Punk’s place as mentioned earlier. He said that at least Mike Adamle wouldn’t have left him out of a scramble match unlike SmackDown! General Manager Vickie Guerrero. This somehow led to Big Show encouraging people to vote in the 2008 elections. I have no idea how he was able to segway into this!

Vickie came out. Vickie told Big Show that she warned him not to cause a disruption or else. She had warned him that he’d either be suspended or fined. He then called him a big, dumb giant and told him to leave. When Big Show refused to leave, Vickie didn’t act on her threat. There were no fines or suspensions. She did not fire him. She basically told him to go away!

By the way, Vickie Guerrero does not fit into the category of “so bad that it’s good.” At this point in her career, she could still barely act. She was god awful with her delivery on this show. At least Big Johnny or Adamle had something to make you want to stay and watch. Vickie was just so bad that it made you think that WWE were actually daring you to turn off the show.

The Undertaker popped up on the titantron as druids made their way down to the ring with a casket. Big Show was just laughing in the ring. Taker said that he promised that he would be coming for Vickie at Unforgiven. He said that the coffin would be her final resting place. He asked her whether she wanted to go voluntarily or by force. Big Show kept her in the ring.

Undertaker got a big pop when he was coming out. Vickie tried to exit via the crowd but Big Show brought her back into the ring. This gave me strange deja vus of Over The Limit 2012, when Big Show brought Big Johnny back in the ring after he tried to escape from the crowd. Anyone that watched that pay-per-view will remember how that went down. As amazing as it is, I got deja vus from a segment that took place in 2012 while watching a pay-per-view from 2008 in 2016!

Taker opened the casket and got in the ring. Undertaker then started taking off his coat and hat. I didn’t realise that Undertaker needed to be in his ring gear in order to take Vickie Guerrero to hell! He grabbed her by the throat and then the Big Show punched Taker in the face. Big Show, did in fact, turn heel on this pay-per-view. It’s just amazing that they did this exact same storyline in 2012 but with Big Johnny replacing Vickie and John Cena replacing the Undertaker. Incredible.

So Big Show beat up the Undertaker in a shockingly agile manner. He then drove Taker into the ring post and threw him into the barricade. He knocked over the casket and then kept punching Taker in the face, knocking him out. Vickie then spit in Undertaker’s face, slapping him for good measure. ALL OF THIS TOOK TWENTY MINUTES OF PAY-PER-VIEW TIME!

Segment Rating: -**

They then recapped a RAW segment with Randy Orton and CM Punk, which led to the attack from earlier.

William Regal tried to convince Mike Adamle to put him in the World Heavyweight Championship Scramble match. Adamle said he’d take his request under advisement.

Batista vs Kane vs JBL vs Rey Mysterio vs Chris Jericho in the World Heavyweight Championship Scramble match

chris_jericho_682x4_577138a
Batista and JBL started out the match. I was rather shocked and disappointed by the WWE’s decision to have Batitsa and JBL kick off the match. They could have put in Kane or Rey Mysterio, with Mysterio having a history of pulling off good long match performances. However, they decided that it was best for Batista and JBL to work a 20 minute match. Batista looked blown up at around the half-way point.

They also decided to have Batista and JBL start the match by locking on submission holds. Because if there’s one thing I associate Batista and JBL with, it’s submissions! Batista locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock for about a minute. It was much better when these two were just going blow for blow as opposed to just going for submissions. That brought out the best of them. Batista Irish-whipped JBL into the corner. He got into the ring and waited for the third entrant, who turned out to be Kane.

There was a fine back-and-forth between Kane and Batista. They went for finishers on each other but they were countering each other’s stuff. Then there was a nice little sequence between all three men, which saw Kane pin JBL off a chokeslam. The fourth entrant was Rey Mysterio, who brought life into the match for about a few minutes. He and JBL picked up the pace as Mysterio ran wild. Rey went for the 619 on Kane but it was avoided and Kane turned Rey inside out with a clothesline.

Rey and Batista then teamed up to do an elevated splash, with Rey on Batista’s shoulders. They went for it again but Rey turned it into a victory roll pin attempt on Batista. It’s funny that Batista thought nothing of Rey’s betrayal in this match when a year later, he got so mad at Rey for breaking up a pin fall which caused Big Dave to turn heel at Bragging Rights 2009!

JBL then took advantage of the brief squabble that Rey and Batista had. JBL hit a fallaway slam on Rey, which saw him land right on Batista. The fifth entrant was revealed to be Chris Jericho, who came out selling his match from earlier on in the night. Everyone in the ring was shocked as Jericho came out, with Y2J looking wrecked. Batista then speared Rey and Jericho out of their boots.

In a repeat of earlier on, Kane tried to go for the pin even though HE WAS THE CHAMPION. Fortunately, he only did this once. In the last 45 seconds of the match, Batista hit Kane with the spinebuster and pinned him to become the interim champion. Rey then tried a springboard move on Batista but it was countered into a Batista Bomb. This was a sweet reversal actually. As this was happening though, Jericho sneaked back into the ring and pinned Kane. The clock ran out and Chris Jericho won the World Heavyweight Championship!

I’ve got to say that the finish was really well executed. It was not done in such a way that it devalued the title as Jericho had already been beaten up before the match. Jericho was slaughtered by Michaels but still came back out, which put him over. Even if he didn’t do anything in the match, Jericho winning was the whole point of the match at the end of the day. The majority of the match was pretty boring but it did lead to a great finish. It was also not like the WWE Championship Scramble match ending, where Jeff could have done something to break up the pin. Jericho went for the pin as Batista was in mid-move. Batista could not stop what he was doing and go break up the pin. Really well executed finish with a match type which did have its fair share of problems. The finish gets a thumbs up from me!

Match Rating: **1/4

Overall, this was a fine pay-per-view. The Championship Scramble was a complicated concept, as mentioned earlier. Especially with the wrestlers themselves getting somewhat confused by it, it was a very difficult match to get your head around. Despite this, all three matches were different in their layouts and they all provided something different. Matt brought the triumphant new babyface champion, Triple H and Jeff brought the back-and-forth pin falls which lead to an exciting last minute of the match and Jericho brought the shock factor. The best match of the night was Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels BY FAR, but this was not a pay-per-view that delivered a lot of bad matches or anything. With the exception of the women’s match and the god awful Vickie, Big Show and Undertaker segment, this was decent stuff. Thumbs up from me!

Advertisements

Retro Express – Summerslam 2008

28912_ppv_affiliate-banner-300x450

Previously on the Retro Express, I talked about Summerslam 2007. I questioned whether this PPV was able to live up to the high standards that fans expect from the second biggest show of the year. Now it’s time to do it again. At Summerslam 2008, we got two world title matches as well as two major grudge matches from RAW and SmackDown! Batista faced John Cena for the first time ever while Undertaker and Edge settled their year-long feud in a Hell in a Cell battle. Did this show deliver?

 

 

WWE SummerSlam

Date: August 17th 2008

Brand: RAW, SmackDown! and ECW

City: Indianapolis, Indiana

Attendance: 15,900

 

Jeff Hardy vs MVP

SS-2008-MVP

One of the biggest criticisms of WWE commentary of the last five years is that the announcers are portrayed as less intelligent than the audience they are supposed to explain things to. Jim Ross was not like these modern-day announcers. He did his research and was on the ball, especially during this pay-per-view. Small stats like Jeff Hardy’s Summerslam record up until his match with MVP can make it seem like there’s a lot more on the line, even if there isn’t. There was a lot of little things like JR thanking the UK fans for staying up to watch the event. Being aware of the struggles of international audiences and rewarding them with little facts that would make the commentary seem worthwhile.

MVP kicked it off with a bell-to-belly on Jeff into the turnbuckle. We got pretty big “MVP” chants actually. Jeff hit the neckbreaker to try and turn the match around. There was a good counter when MVP countered a wheel kick with a simple kick to the gut. No flashy counter. He kept it as simple as possible by simply kicking the man in the gut. I don’t know why I’m giving this a lot of credit but even the simplest of moves can add to a match.

MVP went for the boot but Jeff countered it into a sleeper drop. Jeff hit the Whisper In The Wind. Jeff went to the top rope but Shelton Benjamin ran out. Jeff jumped on Shelton, which gave MVP the chance to recover in the ring. Jeff went for the Swanton Bomb but MVP moved out off the way and hit the Drive-By for the win. I thought this was fine for an opener. It’s just funny looking back in hindsight, because Jeff would go on to be a major part of the world title scene on SmackDown! for the next year.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

The lovely looking Maria interviewed Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix backstage. They were set to challenge for the Intercontinental and Women’s titles in a tag team match. Early on in the year, Santino and Maria were an on-screen couple. They had broken up since then, with Santino commenting that Maria had let herself go. Maria made fun of Santino’s unibrow, to which Santino claimed that he’d grown it for Beth. Awwww.

 

We then got the first mention of this pay-per-view WWE poll, asking whether Edge and Vickie Guerrero would get a divorce. This was a very hard period for the couple’s marriage. Edge had cheated on Vickie and Vickie’s revenge was to put Edge in Hell in a Cell. Edge went nuts and messed with Vickie on SmackDown! This vote ended up with 78% of the crowd voting that they would.

 

Mickie James (c) and Kofi Kingston (c) vs Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella for the Women’s Championship and Intercontinental Championship

20080817_kofi_santino_beth

Let me start off by saying that Mickie James looked absolutely lovely here, as did Beth for that matter. There was a sign in the crowd that said “Santino stole my unibrow,” which I giggled to. Unlike modern-day WWE, the men could actually wrestle the women during inter-gender tag team matches at this point. It wasn’t like nowadays, when a female being tagged in forced the opposing man to tag out.

Kofi got the hot tag and ran wild. Kofi Kingston faked a dive, which saw Santino diving into Beth’s arms. Santino had some great trash talk during this match! Mickie James then ran wild and hit the Mickie-DT on Santino. Beth hit her with the Glam Slam out of nowhere to win the match and win herself the Women’s title and win Santino the Intercontinental title.

This was an OK match but it was really the moment of Beth and Santino both becoming champions that stood out. Beth had effectively fought Santino’s own battles for him and won him the Intercontinental title. The celebrations were great as Beth piggy-backed Santino to the back! Just great post-match celebrations from the heels!

Match Rating: *3/4

 

eG1mZnQ3MTI=_o_chris-jericho-punches-shawn-michaels-wife---hd-

We got Shawn Michaels coming out with his wife Rebecca. The storyline going into this segment was that Chris Jericho really messed up Michaels’ eye during their match at The Great American Bash 2008. Shawn came out to address the fans and thanked them for their support. He told the fans that the doctor had recommended that he walked away. He admitted that it was finally time to heed the doctor’s advice and walk away from the WWE. Rebecca’s acting during this was pretty damn great as she was brought to tears in the ring. I actually looked it up and it turns out that Rebecca was actually one of the old WCW Nitro Girls, where she performed as Whisper. With her experience in wrestling, it’s kind of understandable about why Rebecca was so good… other than watching Shawn that is.

A lot of the fans were literally brought to tears. This was how well this was all performed because the fans were legitimately thinking that this was the end for Shawn. There were even “please don’t retire” signs brought to the arena. This was all interrupted by Chris Jericho…

Chris Jericho said that Shawn was leaving because of what Jericho did to him and wanted Shawn to admit it. Jericho refused to leave the ring before he did it. He said that he wanted the last moment of Michaels’ career being to admit that Jericho put him out for good. Michaels said that he would but gave Jericho some advice. Michaels told Jericho to sit his family down and tell them that “daddy would never ever be Shawn Michaels.” Shawn and Rebecca were about to leave when Jericho pulled Michaels’ arm. He went to punch Shawn and inadvertently punched Rebecca.

Michaels was shaken by what just happened. This was one of those moments that showed just how great Shawn was. Shawn was initially filled with rage as the crowd is encouraging him to attack Jericho. After about 30 seconds of pure rage, Michaels couldn’t bring himself to do anything and just went back to consoling his wife. These were all true emotions as a lot of times, when something awful happens to your loved ones, your first instincts is to unleash hell on the culprit. At the same time, you can’t help but do nothing as you are fearing for the safety of your family. This was all incredible stuff.

The fans were all into this, which helped. The funny thing is that it was later revealed that Jericho ACTUALLY punched Rebecca during the segment. He accidentally legitimately punched her and Jericho has talked about how he and Shawn were both mortified after it all happened. They both told a story on Jericho’s podcast about it as they were both backstage with Rebecca. Shawn was walking her back up the entrance ramp and asking if Rebecca was OK, and Rebecca responded by saying that at least her teeth were still in! It gets better as when the three of them were backstage as Rebecca is getting looked at, she turns to Chris and says: “Is that all you got?”

Rebecca being a total trooper about the whole thing made it so much better in hindsight! This segment was so great and it leads to a great match at Unforgiven (which will be the next PPV I review on the Retro Express) and their No Mercy match. These two just knew what to do from that point on. Michaels’ promos were all on point. Jericho’s promos were all on point. Their contract signing on RAW that followed was great. This was all amazing television and thank god that this was eventually elevated to being a title feud, as it was the best thing going in all of WWE at the time.

 

Mark Henry (c) w/Tony Atlas vs Matt Hardy for the ECW Championship

0311.jpg

So right after one of the best PPV talking segments of all time, we got THIS wrestling match – if you even want to call it that. This was technically a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP match as Mark Henry defended the title against Matt Hardy. What happened was that Matt Hardy hits the Twist of Fate on Mark Henry. As Matt is about to win, Tony Atlas pulls Matt out of the ring and throws him into the steel steps which causes a disqualification. This match lasted 26 seconds and ended with a disqualification.

This sort of stuff wasn’t rare with the ECW title, as Kane actually won the title in 8 seconds from Chavo Guerrero earlier on in that year. However, this benefited absolutely nobody. You hurt Mark Henry, who was apparently already beaten in 26 seconds. You hurt Matt Hardy, who was taken out by a semi-retired former wrestler in Tony Atlas. 26 seconds for supposedly the biggest program for ECW. Unbelievable.

So Jeff Hardy made the save and hit a Swanton Bomb on Tony. The Hardyz then double-teamed Mark Henry and hit him with the double suplex on the outside. This actually got a big reaction.

Match Rating: N/A (Didn’t last long enough)

 

CM Punk (c) vs JBL for the World Heavyweight Championship

punkjbl

Punk kicked off the match with the control. He unloaded with suicide dives and cross bodies. The commentators mentioned that CM Punk had watched Batman five times. I don’t know if they meant the original Batman film from the 1990s or the Dark Knight film that came out shortly before this, but I approve whatever film he watched.

JBL hit a fallaway slam from the top rope in order to take control of the match. JBL was very wobbly on the ropes which could have ended badly. Punk then made the comeback. Punk hit the running knee and bulldog, which JBL went down too early for. Punk went for the GTS but JBL countered it with a simple but effective clothesline. CM Punk’s springboard attempt was countered into a powerslam. CM Punk kicked JBL in the head, which saw them both crash down to the mat and clashed heads. JBL somehow landed on top of Punk, which led to Punk’s head being busted open.

In the end, CM Punk picked up the victory with the GTS. There was a fair amount of miscommunication during this match, including the clash of the heads from earlier on. These two worked at vastly different paces. They tried hard but it was just not to be.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

The Great Khali was warming up backstage, ahead of his big WWE Championship showdown with Triple H.

 

Triple H (c) vs The Great Khali w/Ranjin Singh for the WWE ChampionshipSummerSlam_2008.29

The last time I reviewed a World Championship match that involved the Great Khali, I was critical to put it nicely. At Summerslam 2007, Khali and Batista had a REALLY bad match. This match involving Khali and Triple H was much better than that match. I don’t want that to suggest that Batista is a bad worker or anything. In fact, his match with John Cena would very much dispute that. However, it’s at least good to know that he somewhat improved in the year between world title matches at Summerslam.

There was insightful commentary from Jim Ross and Tazz, as JR was talking about the size difference between Triple H and Khali. He said something along the lines of “7’3 and 6’3 – you do the math.” Tazz’s response to JR’s height analysis was “I don’t like math.” Quite the banter from Tazz and Jim Ross…

The story of the match was that Triple H kept trying to do the Pedigree on Khali, but Khali was simply too big. Khali hit the two-handed chokeslam right off the bat. Khali tried a vice grip on Triple H to “you can’t wrestle” chants. Khali did the big chop. Khali elbowed Triple H in the face and Triple H dropped to the floor Ric Flair style. I don’t want to keep comparing this match to the Batista match mentioned earlier, but Triple H’s selling was much better than Batista’s. HHH’s selling actually did make Khali come as effective with his attack. Khali elbowed him and Hunter went down immediately. Whenever Batista sold something, he would stumble and THEN fall down. Interesting to think about. 

We got more “you can’t wrestle” chants, with Khali responding by putting Triple H in a nerve hold. Triple H fought out of it and hit his signature facebuster, which sent Khali into the ropes. Khali was tangled in the ropes but was still able to backdrop Triple H to the floor. Khali went for the Vice Grip. After Hunter fought out of it, Khali just went back to the grip. Triple H eventually successfully hit the pedigree to a big pop and he got the pin to retain the title. 

Obviously, the two world title matches on card were never meant to mean much. When you’ve got Batista vs John Cena for the first time as well as a Hell in a Cell, there wasn’t gonna be much pressure on these two matches to perform. They were two matches that featured a clash of styles, with the big man fighting the little man. The World title match was better than the WWE title match but  HHH/Khali was not terrible or anything. At least you can say that the match had a story to it, with Triple H trying to hit the pedigree on this big man. After fighting and fighting, Triple H eventually hit it and got a big reaction for it. There were “you can’t wrestle” chants to Khali but this match did a fine build-up to the big finisher spot in the end. They put over the Pedigree and the crowd were into the finish so in that sense, a thumbs up.

Match Rating: *3/4

 

John Cena vs Batista

f9f8a6d6-0861-48ea-8bcb-6be523673963

Anyone that has ever been a WWE fan will know that WWE are prone to hyperbole and for good reason. The WWE, in theory, have to try and convince you that the next big match coming up is an important match. In a lot of cases, to achieve this goal, they have to go completely over-board with putting the two men involved over. Even if you know that it won’t be the greatest match of all time, they will always claim that these matches will be historical matches. They did a tremendous job in trying to convince the fans that this match between John Cena and Batista would be an all-time classic. I would not go as far as to say that it was one of the best matches of all time but, after it was over, it ended up feeling like a very special match.

There was a mixed reaction for John Cena as usual. Cole and Lawler tried very hard to put this match over. The video package tried to promote the idea that these two were going to explode in their match but yet they started the match by doing a lock-up. This rivalry wasn’t that intense but a pet peeve of mine is when two guys, that supposedly hate each other, begin their big match with a regular lock-up.

Batista tried a Batista Bomb but Cena got out of it, which was followed by a big clothesline. Batista then started to work on the leg on Cena, with chop blocks, shinbreakers and Figure Four Leg Locks. It’s very strange for the big man to focus on the leg of the little man. Cena went for the FU but ended up launching Dave over the top rope. Cena did his comeback while selling his leg. Cena tried the FU again but Batista got out of it and hit a big boot. Batista unloaded with a series of shoulder blocks, followed by a clothesline. Batista hit the spinebuster. Cena got out of a Batista Bomb attempt with a simple leg DDT, following it up with an STFU. Jerry Lawler, with a rare glimpse of insight, noticed that he locked on the STFU in the same part of the ring where he made Triple H tap out at WrestleMania 22.

Batista reversed a FU attempt into a rear-naked choke, somehow giving us a foreshadowing of Batista doing MMA just before he returned to WWE in 2014! Batista hit the spear but Cena kicked out. We got an awesome spot where Cena reversed an Oklahoma Slam into a FU for a near fall. They battled on the top rope, getting the boo/yeah treatment. In a memorable moment, Cena went for the leg drop but Batista countered this into a Batista Bomb. This was the move that left Cena with a herniated disc and sidelined him for a while. Cena certainly looked in a lot of pain after the match.

Amazingly, that wasn’t the finish as Cena kicked out. Batista eventually hit one more Batista Bomb and won. A very good match between these two men. On paper, Batista and Cena really shouldn’t have been expected to have a match this good. However, they really did give it their A game. The catch powerbomb spot was pretty dangerous and led to an injury, which would be my biggest criticism. However, Cena soon came back from this and thank god that the injury wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

I don’t think the injury should take anything away from the match though and these two performed really well. A BIG THUMBS UP FROM ME! Second best match on the show by far…

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

Undertaker vs Edge in a Hell in a Cell match

20080817_taker_edge.jpg

I mentioned that Cena vs Batista was the second best match on the show – this was undisputed best thing on the show. Undertaker and Edge had the final match in their really good feud from 2007 to 2008. They recapped all of this in the video package beforehand.

Undertaker took control at the start. Edge’s stable La Familia was watching backstage. Undertaker got the steel steps and leaned them on the corner, which set him up to do a snake eyes drop to Edge onto the steel steps. Very innovative stuff here. Edge then dropkicked and speared Undertaker into these steel steps. Edge got out two tables and then hit Undertaker with the steel steps. Edge stacked the tables on top of each other and tried to suplex Undertaker into them. Undertaker tried a chokeslam but Edge saved himself with a jawbreaker. Edge used a chair and got out a third table, setting it up in the ring. The stacked tables were still outside of the ring. Edge grounded Undertaker with two chair shots to the face and one to the back, which allowed him time to go get a big ladder.

The next spot was a callback to a segment on SmackDown! a few weeks before this. In the segment, Mick Foley tried to motivate Edge so he could face Undertaker in the Cell. Edge said “I understand” and then kicked Mick Foley’s arse. He ended the beating by jumping off a ladder with a chair into Foley, who was on a table. In a callback to that moment, Edge did the same spot and yelled “I understand” before crashing onto the Undertaker.

Edge tried a conchairto, but Undertaker stopped him by grabbing his throat. The two battled outside of the ring, where Edge speared Undertaker through the cell wall. That was an awesome spot as Undertaker was bleeding from the arm. They fought outside of the cell.

Undertaker took apart the announce table when Edge intervened, hitting Undertaker with the television monitors. I’ve seen the next spot several times but I always loved this. There were three announce tables for this show, for the three separate RAW, SmackDown! and ECW brands. Edge stood on one announce table, ran across to the second announce table and hit Undertaker with a spear, which sent them crashing into the third table. I thought this was a really well executed spot.

20110523_ss_2008_undertaker_edge_l

After some brawling, they went back into the cell which got some boos. I guess a lot of fans were expecting Edge and Undertaker to go to the top off the cell after they got out of it. The funny thing is that Edge actually mentioned on Chris Jericho’s podcast that he wanted to end this match with a Tombstone on the top of the cell! What a scary spot that would have been!

Edge hit Undertaker with the ladder in the ring. Edge then hit Undertaker with a camera, which was a callback to when Edge cost Undertaker the world title during a Hell in a Cell match at Survivor Series 2007. Edge tried a spear but ran into a chokeslam. Edge hit the Edgecution for a near fall.

Undertaker tried a Last Ride into the tables on the outside but Edge got out of it and hit a spear. This got a near fall as well. Edge tried the ten punches spot in the corner, which almost never ends well when you’re facing the Undertaker! Undertaker hit the Last Ride. Undertaker tried to do some serious damage with a tombstone onto the steel steps but Edge countered. Edge tried the Undertaker’s Old School but Undertaker countered this with a chokeslam into the tables on the outside.

Then we got a bit of poetic justice, as Undertaker started using all of Edge’s own moves against him. He hit Edge with an awesome looking spear. Undertaker then hit Edge with the camera, which was revenge from earlier. Undertaker then did a conchairto of his own. Edge’s back was all cut open as Undertaker hit the tombstone and won.

Then Undertaker ended the night, when he chokeslammed Edge through the ring and into HELL! We got a weird graphic from this, as Undertaker was setting up the chokeslam from the top of the ladder which supposedly sent Edge to hell.

An absolutely incredible Hell in a Cell match. I think this will probably go down as one of my favourites. These two left it all out there and there was some great booking for this feud-ending match. I loved the callbacks to old angles featuring these two men. Undertaker got his revenge by giving Edge a bit of his own medicine. A lot of nasty spots were taken as these two ended their feud in a big way. Bravo to both men. I loved this match.

Match Rating: ****1/2

 

Overall, I thought the show was fine. If it were not for the Hell in a Cell match and Batista/Cena, I don’t think this PPV would live long in the memories of a lot of fans. There was nothing really special about the undercard, other than the Shawn Michaels segment and Santino and Beth’s double celebration. Other than that, there was not much to it. However, the final two matches of the show really bumped up the show. At the end of the day, it was a forgettable show up until the final two matches which could go down as two of the most memorable matches in Summerslam history.

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

the-many-loves-of-a-j-lee-aj-cm-punk-daniel-bryan-aj-lee-33167524-1284-722

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.”

wwe

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.

The-Many-Loves-Of-A-J-Lee-AJ-CM-Punk-Daniel-Bryan-aj-lee-33167539-1284-722

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.

maxresdefault (4)

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!

Retro Express – Survivor Series 2006

wwe-survivor-series-2006-dvd-cover_0

Survivor Series 2006 was the 20th anniversary of the annual Thanksgiving event. This was the first of its kind that featured the RAW, SmackDown! and ECW brands. The emphasis was on the Survivor Series elimination matches and WWE had to put on a show for a Philly crowd that was difficult to please. Could they give us a Survivor Series to remember?

 

WWE Survivor Series

Date: November 26th 2005

Brand: RAW and SmackDown!

City: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Attendance: 15,400

Ric Flair, Sgt. Slaughter, Dusty Rhodes and Ron Simmons w/Arn Anderson vs Kenny, Johnny, Mitch, Nicky and Mikey in a Survivor Series elimination match
20061126_flair
Flair and Simmons both got big pops when they were coming out. Arn Anderson was in the legends’ corner wearing one of his vintage golf shirts. Ron “cleared house” until he was tripped by one of the members of the Spirit Squad. This lead to a very strange “spot” which gives us the first two eliminations. Ron Simmons followed Mitch around the ring which led to Ron and Arn trapping him. Arn threw Mitch into the ringpost which led me to believe that Ron would be disqualified for what Arn did to Mitch. Instead, Ron was actually eliminated because he was COUNTED OUT alongside Mitch. I thought this was an absurd ruling because surely Arn did the illegal move before the referee finished his count. Also, I don’t even remember the referee finishing his count while the Ron/Mitch/Arn spot was going on. I may have to go back and watch the match again but I SWEAR that I never heard the referee finish his count. I guess he could have whispered it to himself!
Jim Ross was trying to explain all of this on commentary but I think even he was baffled by all of this. To add to the confusion, Arn Anderson was thrown out as the Legends’ manager. Arn sold this ruling tremendously by the way! This led to the fans chanting “bullshit” as this took up a good two minutes of the match to sort all of this out. Not a great start.
Every member of the Spirit Squad was wearing their overalls except, if I recall, Nicky. As mentioned in past editions of the Retro Express, Nicky ended up becoming Dolph Ziggler. In this match though, Nicky was in full Ziggler-mode with his selling! After a spot with Sgt Slaughter, where the veteran fooled the youngster with a handshake, Slaughter began body-slamming Nicky over and over. Slaughter locked on the Cobra Clutch but Johnny ended up dropping him from behind with a kick. This lead to Nicky PINNING Sgt Slaughter.
Dusty Rhodes then pinned Nicky with an elbow drop. When watching this now in 2016, it seems a bit funny to see someone lose to a simple elbow drop. I know The Rock’s finisher is the People’s Elbow but surely one standard elbow drop shouldn’t beat people right? However, Dusty beat people all the time with this in his prime! It’s just also funny that Nicky lost to an elbow drop when as Dolph Ziggler, he hits wrestlers with ten repeated elbows as signature moves and can only get a two count!
Kenny pinned Dusty when he ducked the Bionic Elbow and rolled him up for the pin. This left Ric Flair alone to face Johnny, Mikey and Kenny. Flair pinned Mikey with an Atomic Drop and a pin which saw him with his feet on the ropes. Ric then pinned Kenny with the Small Package and made Johnny submit with the Figure Four Leg Lock and won the match for his team. The Spirit Squad beat up Ric Flair after the match. My biggest question was WHERE WERE THE LEGENDS when this happened? Not a fan of this match. I guess when you combine bad booking with five old wrestlers that could barely move and the Spirit Squad, you shouldn’t get your expectations up.
Match Rating: *1/2
Chris Benoit (c) vs Chavo Guerrero w/Vickie Guerrero for the United States Championship
20061110_ss_ustitle
This was a fine match. Benoit worked very hard and Chavo looked really good as the heel getting the heat on him. Vickie Guerrero kept getting involved. Benoit made the comeback with the triple German suplexes. Chavo got some serious height on these suplexes. JBL began giving us a analogy on cheating in matches which he was able to somehow relate to picking up women in a bar. Chris Benoit kicked out of Chavo’s Frog Splash to a surprisingly big reaction. Vickie got knocked off the apron and the key to the finish was that Benoit was showing care for Vickie on the outside. While he was doing this, Chavo rolled him up. Benoit countered this into a Crossface and made Chavo tap out.
Match Rating: **3/4
I have to really give JBL some credit for being so great in 2006 as a commentator. You wouldn’t think it by hearing him in 2016, but he was fantastic during this pay-per-view. He would go on some of the greatest rants while on commentary and was allowed to just go completely nuts. It was tremendous to hear him when he could just unload like this.
Edge and Lita were backstage being interview by Todd Grisham. Lita was wrestling her last match that night, defending her Women’s title against Mickie James. Lita told Todd that she wasn’t going to change her mind about retiring. She said she was going to beat Mickie James and gave some spiel about wanting respect from the fans. Edge cut a promo about Team Rated RKO’s match against Team DX. He talked about beating up the Hardy Boyz for years and called CM Punk an ECW reject. As this was going on, Cryme Tyme went into Lita’s locker room. When Edge was done, they came out with a box. JTG told Todd that he never saw anything and left.
Lita (c) vs Mickie James for the Women’s Championship
get.gif
Having watched this match back again, I think it’s safe to say that this will be one of my most memorable women’s matches of all time. The sad thing is, I will not be remembering this match in a positive way. The match itself was pretty decent and there were some good aspects to this match which really made it stand out. However, I will never forget just how badly Lita was treated by the WWE and the WWE fans on this night.
Now a lot of people will say that this was fitting considering the characters of everyone involved. I understand all of that. However, this was still Lita’s last night with the company. WWE’s idea was to have the fans get as much abuse in as they can on Lita before she left and she was a trooper for putting up with this. Jerry Lawler actually said on commentary that he was going “to get in all that he could” about Lita and he was making jokes throughout the match about her. My biggest issue is that not every fan in the company remembered Lita for the gimmick she had during the last few years of her career. There were fans who were generally going to miss Lita and there was even a big “Thank You Lita” sign which I saw. I saw one at least but there were probally more.
As it turned out though, the WWE had been CONFISCATING signs which gave Lita praise that night. The idea that WWE wanted Lita to be remembered in such a fashion and was willing to get rid of any signs which gave her some credit for the many years of blood, sweat and tears that she gave for them is one of the most disgraceful things WWE has ever done. Jerry Lawler made a point later on in the show about how the fans should chant and cheer for whoever they wanted. In reality, it honestly looked liked they were punishing the fans for thinking in ways that they didn’t want them to think. I think that is just wrong, especially considering that you saddled Lita with this gimmick for well over a year.
Anyway, there were some awful chants from the crowd. Lita and Mickie actually had a decent match, which I don’t think many fans would remember. They had a decent little women’s match. There was an interesting spot when Lita locked on the sleeper hold and jumped on Mickie’s back for a while. Lita’s pretty tall compared to Mickie, so this looked unique. Mickie pulled off a nice barrage of kicks including a sweet-looking roundhouse. Mickie went for an hurricanrana but Lita dropped her on her face. Mickie kicked out of Lita’s moonsault to a big reaction. Lita went for an Impaler DDT but Mickie countered, which saw Lita land pretty hard. Considering her previously neck problems, that was worrying. Mickie hit the Mickie-DT to win the title. Good match considering everything that happened.
Match Rating: **1/4
Lita told Lilian Garcia to give it up for the “greatest women’s champion of all time.” Nobody did which upset Lita. Lita called the fans disrespectful. This lead to Cryme Tyme coming out. They were selling all of Lita’s stuff. They were selling things like dildos, bras and vaginal yeast infection medication. I’m not making this up. They were actually selling all of this on WWE pay-per-views ten years ago. Then we got a pretty disgusting moment when JBL wanted to buy a pair of Lita’s panties RIGHT AFTER Cryme Tyme just sold yeast infection medication. JBL paid $100 but didn’t get any change, with Cryme Tyme throwing her panties into the crowd. JBL was angry and wanted his money back.
That was the end of that. It’s so astonishing when looking back on this in hindsight. Obviously all the stuff with Lita and Cryme Tyme was all horrible and disgusting. The funny thing is that if you showed these fans in 2006 a segment from the “divas revolution” ten years later, they’d be begging for Lita to not retire.  Thankfully for Lita, she would be given a much better send off years later. She did wrestle again at RAW 1000 and she was even inducted into the Hall of Fame. Thank you Lita indeed.
They showed a clip of Michael Cole interviewing Batista backstage. Batista was scheduled to wrestle King Booker in a title match. Cole asked Batista about having to relinquish his World Heavyweight Championship at the start of the year but Batista didn’t reply. Cole asked a bunch of other questions and got no response. They showed a replay of Booker hitting Batista with the “Royal Scepter.” Batista eventually broke his silence, simply saying “I am leaving tonight World Heavyweight Champion.” A few minutes with questions by Cole and a clip from SmackDown! lead to seven words from Batista to build up the main-event of the show. Lovely.
Team DX (Triple H, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy) vs Team Rated RKO (Edge, Randy Orton, Johnny Nitro, Mike Knox and Gregory Helms) in a Survivor Series elimination match
WWE-Survivor-Series-Team-DX
CM Punk got a really big reaction when he came out, as did DX. I made the point earlier about all the Lita signs that were taken down. Keeping that in mind, there were some signs which I couldn’t believe were allowed to stay up. The first I noticed was not a bad one or anything. However, it simply read “Nitro = Ratings.” Apparently, there were some big Johnny Nitro fans in the crowd or some old WCW Nitro fans! Whether he was a ratings grabber will be left up for debate.
Team DX were having fun with the crowd before the match started. The Philly crowd was great for this match which really did help. There were some BIG chants for CM Punk. CM Punk even asked the crowd if they were ready. DX did their spiel and told everybody to suck it. Then the heels came out. I couldn’t stop laughing during Gregory Helms’ entrance and it was for his entrance theme. This version of his theme saw Gregory Helms say his name first in such a great way, putting a lot of emphasis on the “Helms” part of his name! I don’t know why I found this to be so funny!
Rated RKO came out with a really cool sounding mash-up theme, as Orton did his pose on the apron. Triple H tried to get Kelly Kelly to show her breasts but Mike Knox got all mad. Shawn super-kicked Knox and quickly eliminated him. This lead to Shawn asking “Who was that?” Triple H simply replied by saying that “He was in the match.”  This was a tremendous burial of poor Mike Knox!
There was an awesome spot with Shawn Michaels and Johnny Nitro, with leapfrogs and stuff. Shawn then slid out of the ring and cuddled Melina, who was not aware that he was cuddling him and thought it was Nitro. They both turned around, with Melina shrieking and Shawn yelling “aaaah.” Shawn’s reaction was magnificent!
It was pointed out that Nitro and Jeff had been in a ladder match on RAW a few days before. Despite this, both men were wrestling in this match and were apparently fine. They weren’t selling that previous ladder match one bit. On the same night that Lita retired, they apparently had to get in a spot with Matt Hardy fighting Edge. Matt Hardy got busted open early. Punk got the hot tag to a big reaction. Punk tapped out Nitro. This saw Team DX have a two man advantage at this point. Jim Ross referred to the Chicago-born Punk as “Young Mr CM Punk.” This made me laugh.
Randy Orton hit the RKO on someone but Shawn Michaels broke up the pin. Triple H got the hot tag. Shawn Michaels and Jeff Hardy did a double dive to the outside with JR referring to the both of them as “Team Extreme.” Matt Hardy eliminated Helms with the Twist of Fate/Swanton combination from the Hardyz. Rated RKO tried to walk out but the Hardyz brought them back into the ring. Shawn superkicked Edge and pinned him. Orton tried to escape through the crowd but they brought him back to the ring. DX hit the Superkick and Pedigree to eliminate him. It was a clean sweep for Team DX.
This was a squash match but it was a pretty entertaining squash match. I think the only man that was really buried following this was Mike Knox. Nitro and Helms at least put up a fight of some sort. Rated RKO were main-eventers anyway, so it wasn’t like it killed any careers or anything. Thumbs up from me. I enjoyed this match.
Match Rating: ***
In case anyone was wondering, this was not the first time where there was a complete clean sweep in a five-on-five Survivor Series elimination match. There were a few in the 1990s. In 2014, there was actually a clean sweep when Team Alicia Fox defeated Team Paige.
Mr Kennedy did an interview with Kristal. Kennedy was scheduled to face the Undertaker in a first blood match. Kennedy said that this was the biggest match of his career. His interview was cut off by MVP. MVP noticed that Kennedy had vaseline all over his face. MVP bragged about beating Kane in a steel cage match. MVP said that he had Kennedy’s back.
Mr Kennedy vs Undertaker in a First Blood match
wwef_31329621_th_64
Kennedy undid three of the turnbuckles during the entrances. Taker beat up Kennedy and they brawled for a while. There was a lot of head-based offence at the start of the match, which made sense with the stipulation of the match. I remember watching a number of first blood matches were the two wrestlers would just do move after move during the match until the last few moments of the match where they would start target the head! Undertaker and Kennedy were trying to bust each other open early.
With that being said, there was one spot where Kennedy was dropped groin-first onto one of the exposed turnbuckles. One of my major complaints about Kennedy was the fact that he took this move and Kennedy sold by yelling “ooooooh” with a low-pitched voice. I was not a fan of his selling.
Kennedy was busted open in the mouth but MVP came out and wiped his mouth with a towel before the referee noticed. Despite doing this, MVP threw Kennedy back into the ring. Kennedy yelled “oooh” again and he yelled this as if he were Tarzan. MVP came back in and went to hit Kennedy with the chair but he hit Undertaker and busted him open. The referee noticed and called for the bell.
Think about this for a moment. MVP wanted to screw over Kennedy (which was apparently revenge from SmackDown!, when Kennedy screwed over MVP) by initially throwing Kennedy into the ring and then trying to bust him open with a chair. So if MVP’s goal in this match was for Kennedy to lose, why didn’t he simply rat him out for bleeding from the mouth when he came out with the towel? Why did he wipe away the blood when he could have just told the ref that Kennedy was bleeding?
So the fans were booing. MVP ran away as Kennedy beat up Undertaker after the match. Kennedy’s winning announcement was cut off by the Dead Man. Undertaker smacked Kennedy with a chair and “wrapped the chair around the skull” of Kennedy. Taker hit the Tombstone Piledriver and took off his glove to beat him up some more. JBL, being as awesome as ever, then began to berate Teddy Long for what Undertaker was doing!
There were some really bad portions of the match but I can’t hate it or anything as they at least gave us a good post-match beatdown from Undertaker.
Match Rating: **
King Booker was backstage with Queen Sharmell. He vowed to beat Batista and acted all kingly.
Team Cena (John Cena, Sabu, Rob Van Dam, Kane and Bobby Lashley) vs Team Big Show (Big Show, Umaga, Finlay, MVP and Test)
28S
 
What’s funny about this show was that despite the ECW announcers not being there, the ECW referee was there and officiating this match! Test looked jacked in this match. There were a few beauties in terms of signs that I noticed. There was a sign which said “Umaga ate my turkey” which was followed up with a “RVD and Sabu are innocent” sign. I guess they were referring to the DUI incident that the two of them had in July 2006. I don’t know how much impact that sign could have several months after the incident!
The SmackDown! referee took Finlay’s shillelagh. There were big pops for Cena and RVD. Kane’s pyro scared Sabu. Cena took it to Umaga early on. This upset Umaga who went crazy and attacked all of Team Cena with a television monitor. This caused Umaga to be DQd. The heels took over and Rob Van Dam was busted open in the mouth. RVD and MVP seemed to mess up an enziguiri. Kane chokeslammed MVP as Cena was arguing with the referee. RVD hit the Frog Splash and pinned MVP. Test pinned RVD with the big boot to eliminate him.
Lashley speared Test on the outside and Sabu pinned Test with a springboard DDT in the ring. Big Show pinned Sabu with a chokeslam. The crowd popped for a showdown between Kane and the Big Show. The chokeslam struggle between the two of them was interrupted by Hornswoggle, who I believe was going by “Little Bastard” at this time. Finlay hit Kane with the shillelagh and Show capitalised to pin Kane. Big Show got a pop for powerslamming Cena. Jim Ross mentioned that Finlay had a “PhD in cheating.” Having studied and worked at a university, I’m curious to see if such a course exists!
Lashley got the hot tag while Cena got boos. Hornswoggle was thrown into Cena, with Lashley spearing Finlay. Lashley pinned Finlay which meant it was down to Cena and Lashley taking on the Big Show. There was an awkward looking double DDT on Show by Cena and Lashley. They followed it up with a much better looking double suplex. Lashley shoulder barged Show which led to Cena FUing Show for the win. Lashley and Cena were the sole survivors.
This was slightly better than what I was expecting. One of the commentary highlights from this show was Jim Ross saying that “We will see a lot more of Lashley at Survivor Series down the road.” It was funny because this was the last time that Lashley ever appeared at Survivor Series! Lashley had left the company by the time that Survivor Series 2007 rolled around! Sorry JR. You were wrong this time!
There was one more sign I noticed before the World Heavyweight title match which said “Discharge the Marine!” I wonder who that is directed to!
Match Rating: **1/2
King Booker (c) w/Queen Sharmell vs Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship. If Batista lost, he would not get another world title match as long as Booker was the champion.
69d56752-4073-4c0b-82d4-09cb66479710
 
There was actually a really good video package for this match, with the exception of the fact that they didn’t mention the “last chance” stipulation in it at all. Fortunately, Teddy Long explained it before the match started. He also ruled that if Booker got himself DQ’d
or counted out, Batista would win the championship. Why this was announced on the pay-per-view and not on SmackDown! beforehand is a mystery. I guess it’s for the best, as they probably wouldn’t have mentioned that on the video package either!
There were some more great crowd signs, with a big “BOB” sign being hard to miss. There was also a sign which I noticed that said “Santa isn’t real.” I could only imagine what’d happen if you tried to get this sign into the arena if this was in 2016! You’d be ruffling some serious feathers!
King Booker made his entrance, to which JBL told Michael to “look at the pinkie.” During this long intro, JBL compared King Booker to William Wallace. Batista finally cut off the entrance by attacking him on the entrance ramp. There were “let’s go Booker” chants. Batista went for an early Batista Bomb but Booker rolled out of the way. Booker tried to leave but Sharmell reminded him that he couldn’t get counted out. Booker then took over.
I felt that there were some weird pacing issues between Batista and Booker. Batista was very slow and it seemed that Booker was too quick for him at times. Not the smoothest of matches.
King Booker gave Batista a side-kick which knocked him off the apron. Batista did the comeback to some boos. There was a “We Want Lesnar” sign. Batista did a top rope shoulder barge. Batista hit the Batista Bomb but Booker got the bottom rope. Sharmell threw the belt to Booker. Batista went for a Batista Bomb on Sharmell. As the referee was distracted, Booker tried to hit Batista with the belt but Batista ducked. Batista hit Booker with the belt and won.
It was a very boring match but Batista had a hell of a celebration! It’s hard to believe that this match was picked as the main-event and the fans really weren’t invested into the match until Batista won. This gets a thumbs down for me.
Match Rating: *3/4
This show was pretty darn boring at times. Even with a world title change, it seemed like nothing special really happened on this show. The crowd was great for the majority of this show but the show itself just didn’t live up to their expectations. The World title match was underwhelming and there was not one match that I would consider to be really good. The most entertaining match of the night was essentially a squash match! I would not want to watch this pay-per-view again. Not one of the stronger Survivor Series events in the now 30-year history of the pay-per-view.

How I Would Book… CM Punk As Nexus Leader [Part Two]

newnexuswwecom_original
Welcome to Part TWO of my newest “How I Would Book” series. This follows CM Punk’s reign as Nexus leader and where I think the angle should have been heading.
Last time, we established the new Nexus under Punk’s rule and we’ve seen Punk set his sights on the Royal Rumble. In an eventful Rumble event, CM Punk emerged as the winner and will headline Wrestlemania.
The road to Wrestlemania is now starting to become a little more clear but there’s still more business to take care of before we get there. If CM Punk will be going to Wrestlemania, who will be the champion that he’ll be facing?
wwe_elimination_chamber_logo_by_me_by_moh2011-d4p08d0
I’ll just state for the record right now that CM Punk will not be challenging for SmackDown!’s World title. He’ll challenge for the WWE Championship on RAW but who’ll be the champion? Will it be The Miz? Will it be Randy Orton? Will it be Sheamus? We’ll settle this with an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship that will feature the following…
  • The Miz (the WWE Champion)
  • Randy Orton
  • Sheamus
  • John Morrison
  • Heath Slater
  • John Cena

raw_06_12_les_nexus_perdent_le_titre_par_equipe_001_original_medium

My plan is for at least one member of the Nexus to be in the Chamber match while CM Punk will take on Justin Gabriel. Now I’m sure the big question is why Gabriel is fighting Punk and not taking on his traitor friend Slater? I’ve done this for three reasons…
  1. The bigger picture is CM Punk’s road to WrestleMania. For CM Punk, it’s best for him to take on someone that is relevant and a part of the story. Punk orchestrated and took part in the beating of Gabriel as the South African was kicked out of Nexus. Gabriel would want revenge on Punk as well as Slater.
  2. It’s better for Gabriel to be involved in a high-profile match after being in the final two of the Royal Rumble. Taking on the guy that eliminated him is a logic step and it can help get Gabriel over to an upper-midcard level… possibly as a main eventer.
  3. You need at least one member of the Nexus to be in the Elimination Chamber. You could make arguments for Michael McGillicutty, David Otunga or Husky Harris but none of those men have played a major part of the “New Nexus” so far. Mason Ryan getting a shot at the title after a month in the company is a bit extreme, especially after he LOST to John Cena at the Royal Rumble. The best way to go is for Slater to be in the match. After his performance in the Rumble, there’s also a fair amount of reasons to back up his claim for a title shot.
I would have Punk beat Gabriel after interference from the Nexus. If it were to be presented in a way where Slater is orchestrating the attack when Punk is down, that would be better. A means to switch gears to Slater vs Gabriel for a match at Mania. He could set Mason Ryan on Gabriel if you want to keep pushing Ryan. Either way, Punk is the winner.
The chamber match won’t need a lot of notes, except for the finish. The final four men are Miz, Orton, Cena and Slater. The Miz is able to eliminate Orton after Alex Riley throws Miz a lead pipe or something to take him down. Randy responds with an RKO before he leaves. Slater gets the pin, eliminating the champion. This gives Slater some serious cred and also leads towards a potential match between Orton and Miz at Mania while you’re at it. In the final two between Cena and Slater, Cena wins the title and it’s set for Wrestlemania. CM Punk vs John Cena for the WWE Championship.
wrestlemania-27-april-3-2011-dwayne-the-rock-johnson-20890498-686-384
There’s one elephant in the room that we haven’t addressed yet and that is The Rock. Remember, The Rock was at Wrestlemania 27 as the guest host of the show. How do we incorporate that into Cena vs Punk?
Vince McMahon would return on RAW to tell CM Punk that a special referee will be assigned to make sure that the Nexus won’t be getting involved. It is revealed to be The Rock as Rock stares down Punk and cuts a promo to end the show. He rips on CM Punk as well as John Cena, revealing his disdain for both men. The Rock guarantees that he will not only let these two beat each other up but declared that he was getting his hands dirty as well.
CM Punk believes that The Rock is going to screw him at Wrestlemania and orders the Nexus to take him out. All of the members (except Slater, who’ll be feuding with Gabriel) will be sent to take out The Rock in the weeks building up to the event. Since they can’t have The Rock appearing every week, it’s just to case of filming each member of Nexus going to Miami, Florida or on the set of one his movies with the intention of taking him out. Punk will have the beatings live streamed for the crowd but each time, the camera is down with a member of Nexus attacked and their armband taken off.
This happens every week with everyone except Slater and Mason Ryan. CM Punk vows to have Ryan beat up Rock on the RAW before Wrestlemania (since The Rock is there). On the go-home segment of the show, we have Rock, Cena, Punk and Ryan all there. Mason tries his attack on The Rock but the Rock takes him out. Cena hits Rock with an AA and Punk hits Cena with the GTS. This sets things up nicely for Mania.
65514825wrestlemania-xxvii-logo-png
The Wrestlemania 27 card looks like this…
  • Cody Rhodes (c) vs Rey Mysterio for the Intercontinental title
  • Daniel Bryan (c) vs Sheamus vs John Morrison for the US title
  • Kozlov (c) and Santino (c) vs Otunga and McGillicutty for the Tag Titles
  • Edge (c) vs Alberto Del Rio for the World Title
  • Undertaker vs Triple H (vs Mason Ryan if you want to have Taker get revenge on Nexus for beating him down at Bragging Rights)
  • The Miz vs Randy Orton
  • Heath Slater vs Justin Gabriel
  • John Cena (c) vs CM Punk for the WWE Championship with The Rock as special guest referee
Looks something like that. The main match we’re interested in though is Cena vs Punk. With The Rock as the referee, he makes it No DQ because he wants to see Cena and Punk beat each other up big time. The Nexus are not there to help Punk due to the attacks throughout the month. If the Nexus are in matches at Mania, have them get beaten down. Trust me, there is a point to these attacks!
The match gets a bit of time and ends pretty much the same way that the Miz vs Cena match in real life ended at Wrestlemania 27. Cena would have the upper-hand when Rock hits The Rock Bottom. Punk wins the title and then the Rock beats down Punk. Gotta let Rock get his post-match beat down in.
wwe-wrestlemania-27-rock-john-cena
The Rock stuff is pretty much done now anyway. Cena and Rock make their match for Mania 28 and that’s taken care off. The WWE is all about making money too for god’s sake so let Cena and Rock have their program for next year’s Mania.
The bottom line is that Punk is the champion coming out of Wrestlemania. Hopefully, the members of the Nexus win the tag titles either at Mania or Extreme Rules. I would also have Heath follow suit and win the US title. My thing about building up a faction is giving them the credibility to alongside of it. Why do you think Evolution was as successful as they were? The night where all four members of Evolution all held championships showed just where the power lied on RAW. Nexus needs to be the same.
Therefore, The Rock taking over the main event of Wrestlemania doesn’t seem as big of a deal anymore as the Nexus has the power and gold anyway to run the show. I would not have The Rock appear on the show again until after July (which is when this storyline will end). Let the Nexus run the show.
bad-news-barrett
There will be a thorn or two in their sides. In the final segment of the RAW after Wrestlemania where Rock vs Cena is made, CM Punk interrupts on the stage. He brags about winning and says that their match at Wrestlemania is nothing compared to him. Punk is then dropped from behind… by WADE BARRETT.
DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!
Barrett grabs the mic, looks at Cena and Rock and says “the only one you can trust is yourself.”
Barrett elaborates the next week, saying that he was the one that was taking out the Nexus members to help Cena retain against Punk. Barrett protected The Rock, thinking that The Rock would screw Punk. Barrett admits that he misjudged The Rock’s ego and didn’t think that Rock would attack Cena. Barrett is back to kill his own creation and said that he needed to kill Nexus by cutting off the head of the snake. He vows to take out Punk.
2014-logo
The RAW GM announces that Cena will get his rematch for the title at Extreme Rules. Barrett must beat three members of the Nexus in order to get in the match. He beats Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris. He finishes the gauntlet by knocking out David Otunga to have him look incredibly strong going into Extreme Rules. In a triple threat steel cage match, Punk retains after escaping the cage. That’s kind of the beauty of the cage match. Neither Cena or Barrett need to get beaten in the ring so you can protect them both.
Cena’s pleas for a rematch are turned down in similar fashion to how Miz’s request for a rematch was turned down in real life after Over The Limit. This leaves Barrett and Punk to feud one-on-one. They have their match at Over The Limit and Barrett knocks out Punk. Barrett is declared the winner. However, the RAW GM buzzes in and rules that you can only win the title by pinfall or submission. Therefore, Punk would retain the title.
To make it so that Barrett could win the title by knocking out Punk, a Last Man Standing match is made for Capitol Punishment. But once again, Punk retains after interference from Nexus. I feel kind of bad with how Barrett’s storyline arc has played out. However, I’ve not actually beaten Barrett by pinfall or anything in this storyline. If I were to keep booking this past Money In The Bank, Barrett would have won the briefcase and cashed in at Summerslam or something. But for now, the focus is on Punk.
cm-punk-wwe-money-in-the-bank-2011
The storyline ends in the same way that the “Summer of Punk” began. Punk declares that the Nexus is done and announces that his contract is coming to an end. He vows to leave with the title, cuts the infamous shoot promo and goes on to beat Cena at Money In The Bank to leave with the title.
I could keep going and book the “Summer of Punk” but I’ll save that for another time. That’s about it for this storyline. I’ll admit that the Post-Wrestlemania booking wasn’t as detailed as the earlier months of the storyline but the fact is, there’s not a lot that I needed to do. Having Punk win the title at Mania and having him leave the company with the belt is the ultimate way to put Punk over. The Nexus can also go their separate ways as the group would have run its course. I’d like to think I left them in good shape as a number of them are champions.
That’s a wrap from us and we do hope you enjoyed this edition of How I Would Book. Have any suggestions for a future How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking gameExtreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

How I Would Book… CM Punk As Nexus Leader [Part One]

Leaders joining and leaving a major group in professional wrestling are not rare. Even in major groups like the Bullet Club, the leaders of these groups have changed on multiple occasions. Today, we explore the change in leadership in the Nexus group in 2010 with CM Punk taking over the reins from Wade Barrett. The group needed freshening up a bit after John Cena took out all the members of Nexus and destroyed Wade Barrett at TLC to conclude his warpath. What we want to do though is write about how we would have picked things up when CM Punk took over. Here’s How I Would Book… CM Punk as the leader of Nexus.

new_nexus-1_original

In a way, Punk’s involvement with the Nexus unknowingly set the table for the “Summer of Punk” angle and Punk’s rise to stardom. If it weren’t for the Nexus, Punk might not have even been in the main-event scene for RAW when June 2011 rolled around. Due to the Nexus being the biggest group on RAW, Punk’s affiliation with them saw him becoming a top heel once Cena’s feuds with The Miz and R-Truth wrapped up.
However, Punk’s time at the Nexus was nowhere near over to the level that the group was when Wade Barrett was in charge. To pin-point where things went wrong, let’s go through the storyline.
2011-01-03-raw_punk001
The Nexus had been tearing up RAW until Summerslam 2010, when Team WWE defeated the Nexus in a 7-on-7 elimination match. The group did get some small victories but John Cena and WWE eventually won the war when Cena defeated Wade Barrett at Nexus after taking out all the other members of the group.
Those things are events that we can’t and won’t change for this particular “How I Would Book” piece. We can change what comes next, as CM Punk took over.
Punk initially feuded with Cena after pointing out Cena’s brutality and humiliating of Wade Barrett, Batista and Vickie Guerrero. He talked about Cena not being the man of his word when he was forced to leave the WWE and promised to expose Cena and his “hustle, loyalty and respect.” Cena took it upon himself to call out Punk but was instead confronted by the Nexus – without Wade Barrett. David Otunga declared that Nexus is under “new management” and initially called for a truce between Nexus and Cena. Cena refused which lead to the group beating down Cena. CM Punk came out to pick up the scraps and hit a GTS. He then picked up a Nexus armband and put it on, revealing himself to be the new leader of Nexus.
Wade Barrett still insisted that he was the real leader of Nexus but Punk stated that it was time for a change. Barrett was booked in a number one contendership steel cage match for the WWE Championship against Randy Orton and Sheamus. Punk said that if Barrett won, Barrett would be the leader and Punk would work for him. If Barrett lost, he would be out of the group. Barrett agreed but it was Punk that cost Barrett his leadership. CM Punk was now officially in charge and he had one clear goal he wanted to accomplish.
nexus
With the help of the “New Nexus”, CM Punk vowed to win the Royal Rumble and re-assert the Nexus’ dominance. Punk was the #1 entrant in the Rumble match and lasted until half way through, where he and the Nexus were mostly eliminated by John Cena. Punk’s attentions turned to Randy Orton as he cost him in the WWE title match earlier that night. Punk’s motivation was revenge for Randy Orton costing Punk the World title in 2008. Did Punk really have to wait three years to get his revenge?
Orton’s response was to take out each of the members of New Nexus and defeated Punk in a stellar match at Wrestlemania 27. The New Nexus floated around with not a lot to do until June 2011, when Punk won a number one contendership match and declared that his contract was coming to an end. The rest, as they say, is history.
new-nexus-wwes-the-nexus-19788883-624-390
An issue with the New Nexus was that it was simply seen as one of two things. It was either a “poor man’s Nexus” or basically a second incarnation of Punk’s “Straight Edge Society.” Another issue, and probably the biggest of all, was similar to the original incarnation of the group. New Nexus were dominated just as badly as the old group was. John Cena and Randy Orton, who were thorns in both groups’ sides, dominated all the members of the group which made the Nexus look like embarrassments. By affiliation, Punk also looked bad.
Punk was not as badly booked as his followers, but that doesn’t mean that he was booked greatly either. He was basically on the same level as a number of RAW main event heels, which was another problem. With the likes of The Miz, R-Truth and Alberto Del Rio also on the show, there was simply too many heels for Punk to compete with. Punk needed to stand out on his own two feet.
Hopefully, my scenario could fix all of these issues that hurt the rise of the New Nexus.
raw3

I’d keep the lead up to CM Punk taking reins of Nexus mostly the same. There’s not a lot wrong with it as it actually gives CM Punk legitimate reasons to want to go after John Cena. Initially, Punk announced his intentions to deal with someone that had “wronged him” on the 2010 Slammys. That’s fine as it build’s up to the events of next week, where CM Punk takes out John Cena with a chair.

In the third week of this angle, CM Punk explains his reasons for attacking Cena. I thought he did a great job with this promo in real-life. Punk explained that Cena was a dishonest man that mislead the WWE universe with his “retirement speech” as he would come back to take out the Nexus. He brought up Cena’s “barbaric” actions against Barrett and Batista and declaring that he was gonna “call Cena out” later on in the show. The finish of the show ends exactly as it did in real-life. Nexus attacks Cena, Punk takes advantage and puts on the Nexus armband. Now let’s move onto the next week, where Wade Barrett comes into the fold.
barrett
CM Punk cuts a promo on RAW where he talks about his plans with the Nexus. He brags about beating up John Cena and vowed to win the Royal Rumble match with the help of Nexus. He mentions Wade Barrett and states that Barrett will find out about his future in the Nexus later tonight. Punk talks about not being a “power-hungry” dictator like Barrett. He will allow his group the chance to vote on who should be the leader and if Barrett will be allowed to remain in the group. Each member has until the end of the night to make their decision.
The Nexus are all in the ring when Barrett comes out in a hooded jacket with trunks on under neath. CM Punk talks about how he will give everyone in the group a chance to speak their minds and give their votes. Before they do, Barrett grabs the mic. He talks about having a epiphany after his match with Cena at TLC. He realised that it is not in his interests to be looking for a group to bail him out every week. Barrett mentions his bare-knuckle boxing background and that he needed to go back to his roots before making his next move. Barrett resigns from the group and tells Punk that he will see him soon. Before he leaves, Barrett lays out David Otunga with the Bullhammer.
heath-slater-and-justin-gabriel
The next week, CM Punk is in the ring with the Nexus. Punk wishes Barrett well with his exile and tells Barrett that he’ll make the Englishman realise that there is always strength in numbers. Punk turns to the group and tells them all that each member of the group will reveal the honest-to-god truth about how they were going to vote the week before. Punk demands that they tell him the truth as there will be major consequences for lairs, like there was for John Cena two weeks ago. Husky Harris, Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga all say that they would have voted for Barrett to be out and for Punk to take over. Punk believes the three men and then he turns to Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel. Heath uncomfortably reveals that he was going to suggest that Barrett stays while Justin flat out says that he was going to vote for Barrett to be leader.
Punk announces the initiations for the group tonight with David and Husky’s punishments being the same as it was in real life. Otunga took a beating from the Big Show while Husky Harris was hit in the back with a kendo stick repeatedly. Michael’s initiation is to remained locked into the Anaconda Vice for a full minute. I prefer this one as this actually puts Michael over as a hard case that was able to take a full minute of this move.
Punk tells Heath and Justin that he appreciates their honesty and reveals that they will be rewarded for it. He tells them that he was able to strike a deal with the anonymous RAW general manager to have Slater and Gabriel have a rematch for the Tag Team titles against Santino Marrella and Vladimir Kozlov. However, he whispers in both men’s ear with a specific instruction. Punk is at ringside to watch the match. As the champions are making their entrance, Slater and Gabriel attack them both with chairs. They bring them in the ring and they keep it up. Gabriel yells at Punk “Are you happy with that?” which leads to Slater smacking Gabriel with the chair. The beat down sees each member of Nexus hit Gabriel with this chair, which will be Gabriel’s exit from the group.
20110130_cena_nexus
In the weeks building up to the Royal Rumble, we see John Cena come back and vow to do whatever it took to make sure that CM Punk would not win the Royal Rumble. This leads to a no disqualification Royal Rumble qualifying match between CM Punk and John Cena on RAW. Punk wins when Mason Ryan appears to take out John Cena. The RAW GM gives Cena one last chance to enter the Royal Rumble. John Cena will have one last qualifying match at the Royal Rumble event against Mason Ryan. Since Barrett will not be around at this time, the Corre will not be a thing and the Rumble match will not be built around the Nexus vs the Corre. It’s built around the Nexus.
Cena wins his match with Mason Ryan and he is in. The Royal Rumble match sees Heath Slater as the #1 entrant and he does really well. He makes to the #21 entrant and is the lone man in the ring after eliminating the likes of Rey Mysterio and John Morrison. Number #21 is revealed to be Justin Gabriel. This is Justin’s first appearance since his beat down from the Nexus. He eliminates Slater and number #22 is revealed to be CM Punk. Punk berates Gabriel in the ring when Slater runs in with the chair. Justin takes out Heath when CM Punk capitalises with the GTS. He is about to eliminate Justin when he changes his mind and decides to keep Justin in the match just to beat him up more. McGillicutty, Otunga and Husky all come out and Nexus pretty much dominates the match with Punk. Before number #40 comes out, Nexus eliminates Kane and Sheamus. The only men in the ring at the moment are Punk, Husky, Otunga, McGillicutty, Orton and Gabriel. Cena is number #40 and runs wild. He eliminates Husky, McGillicutty and Otunga. The final four is Cena, Orton, Punk and Gabriel. Maybe I should be giving SmackDown! more of a major part in the Rumble but for this particular storyline, we’re just going to keep it like this for now.
Orton is laying out everyone with RKOs when WWE Champion The Miz comes out to eliminate Randy from the match and dash his dreams of main-eventing Wrestlemania. This actually plays into the WWE Championship match from earlier (Randy Orton vs Miz). Cena is laying in a beating on Punk when the four fallen Nexus members from the Rumble enter. They attack Cena and Gabriel when Mason Ryan comes out to deliver his finishers on both men. Punk dumps out Cena and commands that Nexus take Cena to the back when Gabriel clotheslines Punk over the top rope but Punk has NOT landed on the floor. Punk is shocked as the final two begins. Punk goes for the GTS but Gabriel catches the knee. He goes to throw Punk out but Punk counters to eliminate the South African. CM Punk is your winner of the 2011 Royal Rumble.
That’s it for part one. Tune in to the second part of this series where we explore the road to WrestleMania for the Nexus and we wrap this angle up!

Roman Reigns To Surpass CM Punk’s WWE Title Reign?

RAW_1070_Photo_167-2_original

One of the biggest things to take away from RAW was the fact that Nikki Bella surpassed AJ Lee’s record for the longest ever Divas Championship reign. Many people weren’t happy with this decision and many felt that Nikki didn’t deserve. I personally don’t agree with the notion that Nikki didn’t deserve it, because she’s had to work really hard to get to where she is right now. She has certainly improved a lot from when she first started out in WWE and has been able to withstand the test of time. However, I really just had an issue with the way her Divas title match with Charlotte ended. You can read all about that on my RAW review at this link.

However, rumours are going around that WWE are planning to break another championship record. It’s not really a record, but Bryan Alvarez believes that CM Punk’s 434 day title reign as WWE Champion could possibly be surpassed very soon. Bryan believes that with WWE and CM Punk currently at odds (the latest development being a WWE doctor suing CM Punk), the WWE doesn’t want to recognize him as the longest reigning WWE Champion of the “modern era”. Bryan believes that WWE is planning on having Roman Reigns’ future WWE Championship win be the start of an even longer run as champion.

Now it’s important to remember everybody that this is merely just speculation. It’s coming from a well-respected wrestling journalist in Bryan Alvarez, but it’s just speculation on what could happen. However, it’s no secret that WWE have been working their ass of push Roman Reigns as the next top guy in WWE. From pushing him as the standout of the Shield to having him win the Royal Rumble, the WWE want Roman Reigns as their next top guy. Considering the physical appearance of Roman Reigns and his portrayal as this legitimate badass, why wouldn’t you want to push him?

8a7b395bb168a15a1169e40593ef1c07_crop_north

With how CM Punk left the company and the current legal issues with Punk and the WWE doctor, WWE are not that obligated to maintain his title record. If Punk’s not going to be a part of your company for the foreseeable future, then there’s no need to really protect him when you can spend your efforts on building your future talent. This is part of the reason why I sort of agree with WWE having Nikki Bella break AJ Lee’s Divas Championship record. AJ, for whatever reason, is retired as an in-ring performer. AJ’s probably not going to have any working relationship with WWE in the next few years. That’s not to say that AJ has a bad relationship with WWE herself. However, there’s no need to protect AJ when they might as well promote Nikki Bella as the face of the Divas Division. As I mentioned in my piece on Charlotte from a few weeks ago, this will help the other divas going up against Nikki too. The longer that Nikki is champion, the more it well help top faces in the Divas Divison get over as they’re going up against someone with as much heat as Nikki.

However, there’s a big difference between Nikki beating AJ’s record than Roman Reigns breaking CM Punk’s WWE Championship record. There’s a HUGE difference in terms of the prestige of these two belts. I mean we’re talking about Roman Reigns holding the WWE Championship. It’s a risky endevour to take considering that Roman Reigns has never held the WWE Championship before. The original plans for him to win the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 31 was changed due to fan reactions and how WWE had booked Roman previously. If the whole idea is to have Roman stay out of the title picture for a year and then have him win it at next year’s Wrestlemania, then it will not work nearly as well as WWE thinks it will. In my opinion, this won’t work because Roman won’t be nearly in as good a position to be considered a true title contender.

roman-riegns-pic

In my opinion, Roman’s storylines since Wrestlemania 31 have been very lackluster. For someone that WWE wants to push as their next top star, Roman’s not been helped with the storylines he’s been given. He feuded with the Big Show in a feud that few people cared about. The feud was so badly received that Big Show got a chant of “Please Retire”. He was briefly in the title picture for Payback, but was one of a number of wrestlers going after the gold. He was then reduced to being Dean Ambrose’s sidekick as Dean went for the title at Elimination Chamber and Money In The Bank. He’s then feuded with Bray Wyatt in a feud which has been above average at best. Really, WWE’s not had the best storylines to get him over as a singles star. In fact, most of his feuds have featured him teaming with his buddy Dean Ambrose. Unless either Dean or Roman was to turn heel to set up a program between those two, I don’t see Roman getting a storyline which will get him ready for that push to the WWE World title once more.

If WWE continue to push him like they are, Reigns is not going to get anywhere near that title in 2016. If you’re not a fan of Roman Reigns, then that’s good news for you. Roman’s got all of the credentials needed to ACTUALLY be their next top star. However, WWE’s booking of Reigns in 2015 has been so poor that I don’t think it’s possible that Reigns could get anywhere near to the level where WWE want him to be at.

Roman-Reigns-2

After Wrestlemania 31, I posted an article talking about why Wrestlemania 31 could have been the beginning of the end for Roman Reigns. You can find it at this link. A lot of times I will write up an article and when reading it back a few months later or so, I would realise that I was talking all sorts of rubbish. In one of my recent Wrestling Flashbacks, I was very critical of MY OWN review of Hell in a Cell 2012! However, I think I might have been right on this one. The reason I think this is because since then, Roman Reigns has not been booked in such a way that could possibly convince me that he could possibly be WWE World Champion. He’s not had any major storylines which has really made Roman main event material. His feud with Big Show was lame. He did not come off well from the Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose storyline. His feud with Bray Wyatt has been… passable. However, none of these feuds are going to get Roman ready for that big title push.

What’s funny about all of this is that there is somebody that is actually in a great position to surpass CM Punk’s WWE Championship record. What’s funny is that I wrote an article for SLTD Wrestling about this person potentially holding this title until Wrestlemania 32. It’s the person that has all the tools to be a main-eventer for years to come and has been booked really well by WWE in order to do that. His name…. is Seth Rollins.

Seth Rollins, Colby Lopez

I really do encourage everyone reading this to check out my latest article for SLTD Wrestling at this link. In that article, I responded to Jim Ross’ comments from a few months ago about how Seth should be champion until Wrestlemania 32. In most of my article, I agreed with him. If you’re going to have CM Punk’s WWE title reign be beaten by anyone, why not have it be beaten by Seth Rollins? He’s an incredible worker and is incredibly over as the top heel in the company. His mic skills are improving but he’s already got people to help him out if needed. He’s already got the credentials to be the one that surpasses CM Punk and he’s ALREADY champion! Seth’s been champion for six months or so, has been in great programs with Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Sting, and is still rolling on nicely as champion. His reign has been great so far. Look at the people he’s beaten and now he can help elevate others… INCLUDING ROMAN REIGNS!

If WWE truly want to have CM Punk’s title reign surpassed and if they want Roman Reigns to be pushed as their next top guy, they don’t need to have Reigns be the one that surpasses Punk. If they took the time to re-evaluate Roman’s character and figure out what he needs to be pushed that next level, then maybe there’s hope for him. However, WWE have a golden opportunity to help everyone out by simply keeping the belt on one man. By keeping the title on Seth Rollins and by taking considerable care of Roman Reigns’ character, you’ve got a great main event title scene for years to come.