I wasn’t expecting to write anything until later in the week, as I wasn’t expecting to watch everything today. But, in fact, I ended up watching the majority of Night of Champions today, then watched Raw, and just about an hour ago I watched ECW. It was definitely too much WWE for one day, and I was getting rather sick of it by the end of ECW. But I lowered my head and charged through, so I figured I’d write something to entertain you.
Night of Champions was…well, it’s tough to say, really. As far as my picks went, I went a very acceptable 6 correct and 2 wrong. Unfortunately, the two I got wrong were probably the two I felt most strongly about wanting to be correct, and am probably most disappointed in the WWE’s decision department for said decisions. But let’s start from the top.
I found Jericho’s pick for his partner to be utterly brilliant. I’ve not enjoyed watching The Big Show as of late, as I’ve thought his in-ring work to be very sluggish and dull. This will help him out a lot. Tagging in and out of a match will limit his in-ring time, allowing to hit a big move or two and tag out to Jericho, who taunts the crowd and generally angers everyone around him. I honestly can’t remember the match much since I watched it Sunday night, but it wasn’t horrible. At least, I didn’t think so. Apparently, Vince McMahon was very frustrated and angry with this match. But who cares what he thinks? Jericho and Show retain, and I’m 1 for 1.
ECW Title match – I was shocked and pretty disappointed that Christian won. The way I see it, Dreamer probably should have held the title for an entire year to make up for all the shit he’s gone through in WWE. But, seeing as how we’re in The Year of the Title Change, a yearlong title reign seems entirely ridiculous now. One of these days I may just go through every championship reign so far this year and calculate the average title reign’s length. I bet it’s under two months. Anyway, Dreamer’s got his rematch next week, he’ll lose, and then Christian will once again lead the pack on ECW and probably end up losing the title to Shelton or Kozlov or Regal (I’m crossing my fingers he loses to Regal). Kozlov might not be doing much more singles competition, as it looks like he may just form a giant tag team with Ezekiel Jackson. When was the last time you heard a tag team with a total combined weight of over 600 pounds? I believe it was Big Show and Kane. I’d buy into that tag team. They could call it “Team Green.” But I’m getting far off my original point.
Kofi Kingston retained his US Title in the Six-Pack Challenge. I was actually quite disappointed they took Big Show out of this match and replaced him with, of all the people they could have replaced him with, Primo. Yeesh. Stick Mark Henry or Evan Bourne in there. They’ve at least DONE something. Anyway, the action was fun and fast-paced, just the way a six-pack challenge should be. And since I picked Kofi to retain, I was 2 for 3 so far.
Michelle McCool retains the Women’s Championship. No surprises there. Though I was disappointed that there was not enough showcasing of Melina’s ridiculous flexibility. I’d bend her into a pretzel any day…oh, what? I’m still writing the column? Damn…
I was again quite surprised that the WWE Title match was on this early in the night. It was a damn good match, mind you. But it would have upstaged the eventual main event had it gone on any later. And when you put a world title match in the middle of a card, the champion is almost guaranteed to retain. Which he did. Everyone made everyone else look great, and it was a very enjoyable match. My favorite moment was when Orton had both the sharpshooter and the crippler crossface locked on him simultaneously, and he tapped, but the ref didn’t call for the bell because he didn’t know which submission Orton was tapping out to, so he just let HHH and Cena stretch Orton for a while longer. I was also quite impressed by Orton’s hangtime on his missed RKO attempt on Cena. He hung in the air for what felt like minutes, even though it was maybe three seconds. But that was awesome. Somewhat predictable finish with Rhodes and Dibiase interfering and Orton getting the quick RKO and pin because of said interference. Still, a damned good match. Sadly, not the end of this whole fiasco, but hopefully soon it will be.
Mickie James wins the Diva’s Title. Yay.
Yet more surprises. I wouldn’t have thought WWE would have put a PPV newbie like Dolph Ziggler on second-to-last, but they did. He did okay, but it was Rey’s stellar performance that saved this match from being…well, not very good. There are reports that, as early as Sunday afternoon, Ziggler was set to win the title. But minds changed and Rey was then booked to retain. I wonder what caused that change of heart. Either way, it puts another mark in my win column, and at this point I’m 6 for 7. I was thinking how awesome it would be to write that I went 7 for 8 in picks for Night of Champions.
But that was not to be. WWE goaded Jeff Hardy to stay another month by having CM Punk drop the title to him. This result probably disappointed me the most. There was so much effort put into crafting Punk’s heel persona, so much mic time and lots of matches where he grew from being a conflicted tweener to a full-blown heel, and he puts on a wonderful heel show inside the ring only to have his title taken away from him. Punk as a champion, I bet, is a hell of a lot more entertaining than Punk as the guy chasing the title. But then again I’ve yet to really see him chase the title, so it all remains to be seen. Still, I think that Punk deserves a lot for his efforts, both on the mic and in the ring. He’s transitioned perfectly from full-blown face to sinister heel and the crowd has eaten it up. He’d better stay in the main event for a long time, since there are no other heels waiting in the wings for a main event run. Not even close.
So, all told, my picks were damn good, and the show itself was pretty good, but the two picks I got wrong really tainted the experience, since those two matches were probably the two I would have been most disappointed in had the titles changed hands, which they ended up doing. Now, on to Raw.
I wasn’t expecting a great performance out of Shaquille O’Neal, the world’s tallest Black Irishman, but he put on one hell of a show tonight. He was entertaining, funny, and downright awesome during that last segment in particular. He had a halfway decent segment with Hornswoggle which resulted in the leprechaun getting injured, which I found hilarious, and he had a great segment with Santino where they were playing, of all things, Scrabble. He even had a backstage segment with Michael Cole where Cole humiliated himself. I think he loves it that the crowd hates him. I respect him for that. I also respect him for being the only guy who I got any physical contact from at The Bash. Everyone else skipped over me.
I’m very conflicted when it comes to the Beat the Clock gimmick. On the plus side, it adds a sense of pressure to the matches involved in it. On the minus side, the outcomes are almost too predictable. The first guy always sets the time to beat, and it’s always the last guy who beats the time and becomes the #1 Contender. This was no different. Mark Henry’s match was first, and he set a very unimpressive time of 6 minutes 49 seconds. But thanks to the return of Chris Masters (who, by the way, looks really strange in the face), some Legacy scheming, and the greatest win in the history of time, John Cena wins the challenge and goes on to face Orton at Summerslam. I was very disappointed that MVP seemingly got the worst result of all five competitors in the Beat the Clock Challenge. He gets choked out by Chris Masters outside causing a double count-out just three minutes into their match. Utterly lame. At least HHH went the distance against Cody Rhodes while forced to wrestle on one leg thanks to Dibiase cracking a tire iron across the back of HHH’s leg. And, in what was quite possibly one of the most satisfying moments in WWE history, Evan Bourne got a clean pinfall victory over Jack Swagger. I was so fucking happy that happened I nearly had to change my pants afterward. I actually was fearful that Swagger was going to win the challenge and stink up Summerslam with Swagger Tactics. There would be no winner in that match. Let’s hope this means an actual push for Bourne and the eventual complete and total burial of Swagger.
Let me do a quick aside. I want to discuss amateur wrestlers in WWE. Yes, lots of the guys nowadays have amateur backgrounds, but I want to talk briefly about those whose amateur background is a defining point of their character. I have a theory that the quality of these wrestlers has declined sharply ever since the first one, Kurt Angle, made his presence known to the WWF back in the day. Since then, we’ve had quite a few amateur-heavy wrestlers. I’m not going to name them all, since I don’t think it’s possible to, but I’ll give a list of those I can think of: Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, Bobby Lashley, and now Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler. In almost every case, each wrestler is progressively less impresive than the man preceding him. Angle was, admittedly, probably the best of them all. I wasn’t watching WWE when Brock Lesnar was around, so I can’t honestly comment on his time in WWE. Shelton and Charlie were good back in, say, 2004, when they were being mentored by Angle, but now they’re both unfortunately very dull competitors, Haas especially. Lashley was becoming a strong competitor, but got cut before he could truly make an impact. And now we’ve got Swagger. By far the worst out of all these wrestlers with actual amateur backgrounds. It’s starting to get as though I’m looking forward to actual wrestlers less and less and hoping for awesome gimmicks more and more. I’m hoping for the high-flyers more than the ground-and-pounders, and I’ll take great mic work over Swagger Tactics any day of the week. Now, Ziggler’s looking like he’ll break this trend, but he needs to cool off. I know his character is a hothead, but he personally needs to take a step back and work without looking like he’s flustered all the time.
On another aside, I love how, when Ziggler’s getting ready for his matches, when he sits Maria down, he pats her on the head. I find that adorable, probably because Maria’s so damned adorable and looks like she actually finds what Dolph does cute. Anyhow, back to Raw.
The final segment, with Shaq as the special enforcer, was hum-drum until Shaq got in the ring. I completely marked out when Shaq grabbed Big Show around the throat. It was beyond awesome. And then there was the totally “meh” shoulder tackle on Show to end the night. I would have loved a big roundhouse punch or a clothesline to knock Show off his feet. But what’s done is done. Shaq had a great showing on Raw.
Now, for ECW…I can’t honestly remember much, even though I just watched it a couple of hours ago. Let’s see…okay, for one, I see no bright future for Tyler Reks. Any and all of his athleticism looks forced, and his gimmick is just generally irritating. Perhaps it’s because I hate surfers, but I digress…I really do hope that Kozlov and Ezekiel team up, if only a few times, because even though Ezekiel is green as the hills of Scotland, I’ll admit I’d mark out like crazy to watch these two compete against each other, beating the ever-loving shit out of smaller guys to prove that one is stronger than the other. Let’s see…what else…oh, I know! Sheamus really needs to start wearing more clothing or put some powder on his body, because he’s blinding the audience with his porcelain skin. Seriously, his skin is whiter than his teeth. He makes Kevin Thorn look like Elijah Burke, for chrissakes! I know he’s a proud Irishman, but for the love of god, when we can’t see what’s happening because your alabaster skin is blinding us, you’re not doing it right. And finally, I have to admit that Zack Ryder did a darn good job in his match against Christian. I’m also looking forward very much to Christian vs. Dreamer EXTREME RULES next week, though I think we all know what the outcome of that is going to be.
Okay, that’s it for me for now. Any night I write 2200 words is a good night in my humble opinion. I’ve got some ideas for Top 5 Lists to fill the time between now and Summerslam, so I’ll probably get to work on those. And if you’ve got any suggestions for lists I should make or topics you’d like to see me rant about, you can always leave a comment or send me a message. I think WordPress allows that. Anyway, I’ll be back later on, maybe with a list, maybe with something else. But you can rest assured that I will be back. I’ll see you then.