A lot of WWE fans have been wary of the attempt on a third show to complement the 1-2 punch of Raw/Smackdown. Previous attempts like NXT, Superstars, and even nu-ECW have led to them mostly being relegated to an online audience, rather than being canceled right out. When they announced a new show called Main Event was going to debut, a lot of fans were a bit apprehensive about its real potential, necessity, or for that matter longevity. Frankly, most expect it to end up with that same online only fate as all the other shows. Now while I’m not hedging my bets on this show having the staying power of Smackdown, I do think it’s here for a while, for a few main reasons.
The first is that it was promoted and executed in much the same way Smackdown was. That is to say, almost like a little mini-PPV. I remember when Smackdown debuted on the UPN network 12 years ago, and it felt like we were getting a free 2 hour PPV with how important and different it was from Raw at the time. Main Event gave me that same feeling, by the promotion of the big fight in it between CM Punk and Sheamus. The whole thing has a good hook, being a champion vs champion match and all, and with CM Punk and Sheamus’ in ring skill, it was hard to accurately call who’d win. As much as I hate Sheamus, I can’t deny he’s a great wrestler who should just never say anything ever.
The second main reason, is that it has a pretty self-sustaining, built-in purpose. At first I thought that “Main Event” was just a place holding, whatever-lets-just-name-it title, but the show does seem to be literally a Main Event worthy spectacle. With how crappy the main events from Raw are these days, a whole show dedicated to making sure there’s one solid, well done match in its runtime is refreshing. At an hour-long, it’s also a refreshing change of pace from the long 3 hours of Raw, and the sometimes just right, sometimes too long length of Smackdown. The actual show itself opened up with both Michael Cole and The Miz announcing themselves as commentators for the show, and introducing the show itself, which is fine and dandy for the debut episode. They followed it up with some actually pretty decent video packages for both CM Punk & Sheamus. Punk’s in particular was AMAZING, and told a good story in 3 minutes.
The actual match between Punk and Sheamus was a good 20 minutes long, and did a good job of making Sheamus look strong, while making Punk appear to be more of a Heel, without actually sacrificing any of his internal logic of character framework. Whoever is responsible for the direction that CM Punk’s character is going, is a genius and I have a strong feeling it’s Punk himself. The show ended with a brief tag team match between Santino & Zack Ryder, and Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd. Making that match the connection between it and Raw was smart as well, since this whole Tag Team Tournament is probably the best thing that’s happened to the Tag Team Division since I’ve been watching WWE.
I’m loving this whole tournament concept.
The strength of this show is that it doesn’t NEED to follow on the heels of any of the Raw/Smackdown story lines, they can just announce a Main Event (see? That’s brilliant), and then just go with it. Next week’s show is between Big Show and Randy Orton for the #1 contender spot for the World Heavyweight Championship. Something like that immediately gives us great purpose for the show, as it could have great longevity as the Go-To show for settling feuds, contender spots, angled matches, special gimmick matches, and the list goes on. If they just cut out the promos and give us two 20 minute matches, I could see it doing the WWE a lot of good. Fans who have an issue with the WWE not having enough actual wrestling could tune into this, and enjoy seeing 2 solid and fairly long matches a week. Currently it seems like its gonna be one big longer match and another shorter one, but it could change.
Again, the most surprising thing by far was the quality of the video packages. Each was actually captivating and informative, rather than an unnecessary recap of previous events. It sets it apart from Raw & Smackdown pretty definitively. I’m looking forward to the show’s future, and hope it lasts. Hopefully the average fan will get past the fact that there’s “just one or two matches”, and dig it for what it is. It’s not a perfect show yet, but I could see it getting there. All in all, it was a well done hour-long show, that I’ll definitely be looking forward to in the future.
Tonight’s Raw opens up with CM Punk’s music, but instead of ol’ Punk walking out, we get Paul Heyman, strutting his way down the ramp. He begins talking about last night’s PPV, Night Of Champions. Last night, we saw a bunch of surprises, but mostly we saw another great match with Punk and Cena. As much as I dislike Cena, his whole invincible schtick works well with a guy like Punk. Punk has always done well in his career, when he’s fighting against impossible to defeat super-wrestlers, who kick out of everything and might as well be God. It creates a dramatic tension that works really well, and it worked well, right up until the end of the match. Paul Heyman touches on this, by describing how the Referee made the right call, by calling the match a draw.
For those who didn’t see Night Of Champions, the match was a roller coaster. Towards the end, Cena tried a german suplex from the top rope, and pinned CM Punk for the 3 count. However, he forgot to bridge, and lift his shoulders off of the mat, thus making Punk, technically pinning Cena, for the 3 count as well. The match ended with the Referee reversing his decision to call Cena as the winner, and re-called it a draw, which in a championship match, means the champion retains the title. Cena, of course, found this infuriating, and was seen demanding the match continue. This is relevant for one main reason, one i’ll touch on later.
Heyman brings out the Referee from that match. He applauds the Ref’s judgment and shows some video a fan shot on their camera phone, clearly showing Cena’s shoulders on the mat. He starts saying how CM Punk is worthy of our respect, and a moment after he says the word “respect”, Cena interrupts, and runs down to the ring. He gets interrupted by a few strong CENA SUCKS chants, and then agrees with Heyman about the Ref’s call. He tries to make some ham-fisted point about the ending being disappointing, because the Superbowl shouldn’t end in a tie, and that it should have gone on, and all that noise. This is where I have to admit that Cena is correct, yes, I did want to see that match end definitively. I definitively wanted to see it end with Punk remaining champion, and seeing that that happened, I’m 100% fine with it. He asks if that victory entitles Punk to respect, and Heyman says Yes. Personally, I think you can’t earn what you already should have, and do have, by the sound of the still very loud pops Punk gets from the crowd, but I digress. Eventually Cena challenges Punk to a rematch, because, duh. Heyman says Cena will hear it straight from Punk, the moment he arrives. He proclaims himself the Voice of the Voice Of The Voiceless, which is goddamned hilarious.
Suddenly Alberto Del Rio arrives, and that’s a shame. Not because I dislike ADR, I love him, but because the second his music sounded, I already knew this was turning into a tag team match at the end of the show, with ADR and Punk, and Cena and Sheamus. Because shitty GM’s always do this, and as much as I want to like AJ The GM, she’s a terrible one. She’s as bad as Teddy Long, and holy crap, her hotness only goes so far towards making me not hate her. She’s uncreative, her “crazy” affectations are getting forced, and worst of all, she used to be the most developed, nuanced and interesting female character they had in the WWE. Now she’s just another boring, shitty GM. It’s a shameful thing. Lobster head.
Just like I thought, Alberto whines about his loss to Sheamus, and AJ appears. She makes the tag team match, and I start barfing uncontrollably, and wonder why the hell I watch this crap, goddamnit everyone else stopped 12 years ago, what am I doing with my life?
What? Sorry. Ahem.
Back from the break Michael Cole gives us all amazing news about Jerry Lawler, and gives a wonderful, pleasing greeting to him live on air, knowing he’s watching at home. He even shows this heartwarming Tout from Lawler, thanking his fans for their support.
It was really nice to see Michael Cole giving good news, and acting like himself, rather than the sometimes shitheel announcer guy he can act like. Suddenly, we’re introduced to Lawler’s replacement(s!): JBL, aka John Bradshaw Layfield, Aka Bradshaw, who is a goddamned great commentator. He’s followed by goddamned Jim Mothereffing Ross, and hearing Michael Cole and Jim Ross side by side, brought back pleasant memories. Even more interesting, was hearing JBL take on the “heel” commentator role throughout the night, and Michael Cole, kinda-sorta adapting to becoming the “face” commentator, which was surpassingly refreshing. JBL works as an amazing heel commentator, and Cole worked well as himself/a face commentator, and JR was good ol’ JR.
Sin Cara & Rey Mysterio take Primo and Epico through the cleaners, which isn’t a surprise to anyone. They jump and flop around all over the ring, right up until they beat Primo and Epico. After winning, The Primetime Players show up, and beat down Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio, and proclaim themselves truly worthy of the #1 Tag Team contendership, which was stolen from them. In a way, it was kinda unfairly taken from them, so I get their point. The problem with them, is they took to damn long being at the #1 spot. Shit or get off the pot, as my mom says. So now that there’s new tag team champs, the #1 contenders spot for it is heating up, and potentially, we’ll see Sin Cara and Mysterio getting that spot soon.
The main problem I have with Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio, is that separately, their style can adapt and work with other wrestlers, who help make the match feel improvised, fluid, and real. Sure, Mysterio always manages to make his opponents magically land in such a way that they’re resting their head on the middle rope, but generally he works well. Sin Cara, all botched moves aside, is a guy who really has a hard time masking (sorry) the overtly rehearsed nature of his move set. The both of them together, the thing seems less like a tag team match, and more of a rehearsed series of spots, that just happen to involve Primo and Epico. They’re being built up as a team right now, and hopefully they’ll learn to complement each other better in the future.
Last night Eve won the match against Layla for the Diva’s championship. Now, Kaitlyn was supposed to be the one getting the title shot, but she was apparently attacked before the match, and couldn’t compete. The moment I saw Kaitlyn attacked, I already knew this entire storyline and exactly how it’d play out. We’ve seen Eve being super friendly, nice, and exuding great sportsmanship in general. Of course, everyone suspects she’s up to something, because in the WWE being a good sport, or nice, or using logic are somehow bad traits to be looked upon with suspicion. So what I imagine happened is this: Eve gets herself in the good graces of Booker T, secretly attacks Kaitlyn, counts on being her replacement, becomes said replacement, wins championship, Kaitlyn shows up at some point, accuses Eve, Eve denies it for a few weeks, then reveals her master plan eventually, becoming a heel again.
It’s mostly stupid, but it also undermines the idea that good sportsmanship is something to be encouraged, and instead is a sign of behavior to not be trusted. What’s the difference then between any heel who turns face, when all good behavior is inherently shady, by the virtue of casting doubt on everyone for no reason other than “I don’t buy it”? How do you encourage positive character development? It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of mistrust, poorly implemented moral values, and at worst, a bad message to promote to children. It creates an environment where an immature, racist, criminal character like Sheamus is lauded and loved by millions of fans, despite his behavior being entirely inappropriate in any sort of real life setting. Who the hell encourages this, especially for their children? I find this sort of thing far more damaging for kids to watch, rather than any of the “mature” content that they had in the Attitude Era. Sure there may have been blood, and boobs, and chauvinism, (okay so that’s pretty bad), but it carried a TV-14 rating, and it was repeatedly stressed that parents should consider discretion when it came to letting kids view the show. Now, it’s TV-PG, and while there’s less blood or violence, and the misogyny is downplayed (a little), there’s a far worse moral message, that’s incredibly backwards, and counter intuitive to basic societal norms, where people acting like shitheel racist thieves are you know, demonized for their actions, rather than celebrated.
Shit, I went and turned a whole segment about Eve into how much I hate Sheamus again. goddamnit. Anyhow, Eve wins. Layla yells at her about being a phony or something, I dunno, I need a drink dammit. Screw Sheamus.
So as much as I love the One Man Band, there’s no way he’s beating Funkasaurus.
Claudio Castignole Antonia Cesaro is at ringside, commentating on the whole thing, but he doesn’t really do anything. For a brief, shining moment, Heath Slater actually starts to beat down Funkasaurus, and in that moment, my heart swelled three sizes, anticipating a tremendous upset to the match, where Heath Slater pins Funkasaurus, stands up, and starts singing his ONE MAAAANNNN BAAAAA AAAAAA AAAAANNNND song, and all the children run up and dance with him, the Funkadactyls embrace him, and he looks down at the beaten Funkasaurus, who slinks away defeated.
Kinda like this.
But no, Funkasaurus squashes him with his fat, and pins Slater for the win. Then he dances, because duh, what else is he gonna do?
Slaters gonna slate.
There’s been a long tradition of wrestlers coming out and pretending to be talk show hosts for a minute or two. Rowdy Roddy Piper had Piper’s Pit, Jericho had his Highlight reel, and Edge had The Cutting Edge. Now we’re adding MizTv to that list. You know, I’m not against it entirely. The idea of it anyway, seems fine to me. The Miz has always been better on the mic than in the ring, and while he’s definitely improved in the latter department, he’s still a better talker, and I think he knows it. Unfortunately this segment was trash. Booker T is invited out, and Miz taunts him about being unfairly punished by a 4 way match for his title, which he believes was unfair. He refuses to let Booker T speak, until Booker grabs the mic from him forcibly, when Miz starts saying how Booker T’s time is over, and he’s washed up and whatnot.
While he’s not wrong, the audience chants BORING, which I, and JBL agree with, because JBL is awesome and we’re buddies. Booker then makes some weird transition into announcing The Ryback’s entrance, who chases Miz out of the ring, and then starts chucking all of the MizTV furniture out of the ring. I half expected him to start ripping up the furniture pillows, and eating the stuffing inside, while yelling FEED ME MORE. He didn’t but he did start saying his catchphrase, and the audience loved it. The Ryback is massively over, it would seem.
Backstage, we see CM Punk and Paul Heyman apparently talking about how AJ is abusing her power, until they’re interrupted by Josh Matthews. He asks Punk if he’s looking forward to teaming up with ADR, and Punk says he isn’t, and questions what he has to do to get some respect. I’ve gone in detail about this before, so i’ll just reiterate it simply; Punk deserves respect. Heel or Face, he deserves it. Period. How does he not? There’s no way he hasn’t earned it, and people who say otherwise must have a terrible memory that prevents them from remembering his currently 300+ day reign, or nearly all of last summer. That’s just in WWE, by the way, if you include his ROH career, then you’d be retarded not to respect him.
This was a great match for 3 main reasons.
1.) Ziggler destroys Santino, as he should. I was fearing for a second they’d job Dolph out to Santino, thusly weakening Ziggler, rather than strengthening Santino like I’m sure they wish.
2.) Ziggler steals that stupid cobra sock from Santino, thus disabling him of his Cobra Powers. He then taunts him with it, calls him an idiot, and a joke. All things I’ve personally wanted to do to Santino for months now.
3.) JBL points out how stupid the Cobra and Santino are, and how great a coach and manager Vickie is.
So Ziggler beats Santino, by taking away his stupid arm sock. Something nobody else has thought to do, ever since Santino started putting that stupid thing on. Finally.
We cut to a clip of Wade Barrett from Smackdown, issuing a promo about how tough he is, and shortly, we see him enter Raw. It was a surprise to see former Nexus members against each other, and the audience even commented on that fact, by chanting WE WANT NEXUS repeatedly through the entire match. Wade Barrett controlled Gabriel throughout the whole match, but the entire time Gabriel never came off as a shitty jobber, just a guy who was outmatched by the more dominant Barrett. In that sense, it was one of the better matches I’ve seen, when it comes to building a wrestler for a comeback. I almost called Barrett new talent, because his entire demeanor, character, and style has changed, and all for the better. The guy’s finisher is a punch, which more or less is the same as Big Show’s WMD, but from him, I can buy it, what with the Bareknuckle Boxer gimmick as his background. I think they just need to add some kind of build up to it, like him taking off his gloves/tape, to sell it, and it’d get over just fine. Barrett won, but the whole match made me look forward to more of him, and more of Justin Gabriel, which is something I never thought I’d type. Good job guys!
The imaginary person he just punched is now dead.
Backstage we cut to R-Truth, trying to put a party hat on Little Jimmy. We never actually see what happens to the party hat, but presumably it falls to the floor. It could be argued it was just floating in mid-air, and that was just off-screen, proving Little Jimmy is real once and for all, but I may be looking too deep into justifying Little Jimmy’s existence. The reason Truth is putting a hat on Little Jimmy, is it’s Subway’s birthday, and for some reason a sandwich company’s birthday is being celebrated by him and Kofi Kingston.
Suddenly, Jared from Subway shows up, and offers sandwiches for R-Truth, Kofi, and even Little Jimmy. Soon after they leave, Damien Sandow shows up, and suggests a sandwich made of Cornish game hen, Gouda, and Zucchini reduction, which sounds… actually kind of good. Jared offers him a meatball sub instead, and Sandow takes it, because not even the most stuffy pretentious guy can hate on a meatball sub. That shit’s delicious. Zack Ryder shows up, pitching a sub named after his catchphrase, but is given an italian BMT instead. Jared looks concerned, and the camera pans to reveal The Ryback standing there. Obviously, he says FEED ME MORE, and takes two sandwiches and leaves. It was a funny enough segment, but without The Ryback making it worth it, would have been a pretty terrible attempt at blatant product placement. Not that that’s something the WWE isn’t uncomfortable with, because entire segments that revolve around product placement are pretty much their advertising lifeblood. Mostly, it made me want a meatball sub, so I guess it’s mission accomplished in that regard.
We then see Sheamus and John Cena talking about how awesome they both are, and how they’re gonna win, and never give up, and all of that crap. Also racism. Goddammit, I hate this shit. Where’s my whiskey? AND WHY ARE THOSE KIDS ON MY LAWN AGAIN?!?
Thankfully after this,we cut to Daniel Bryan and Kane both intermittently yelling I’M THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS at people’s faces, as they ready for their rematch against R-Truth & Kofi Kingston. Last night, at NOC, they beat them both for the Tag Team Championship, but couldn’t come to a resolution as to which of them won the match, and are actually the champions. So they started yelling “I’M THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS” at each other, both proclaiming to be the “champions” themselves, purposely referring to themselves as the plural of champion.
You’re both the champions guys, C’mon. Hug it out already.
The match itself was a good example of how to highlight the difference between a successful “paired” tag team can be, versus an unsuccessful one. Kofi and Truth both have their jumpy, flashy move thing going on, but absolutely no chemistry. R-Truth is a charismatic, interesting insane person, who is dragged down by a boring, unlikable, lousy wrestler like Kofi. Conversely, Kane and Daniel Bryan bring the best out of each other, and their move sets fill in each of their weak spots. Bryan’s not a heavy hitter, but he’s got technical prowess and tenacity. Kane’s not that agile, but what he lacks in agility and stamina he has in pure raw strength.
On top of that, they’re both hilarious in backstage segments and angles, and their whole anger management gimmick has been working in spades. The match just demonstrated this over and over again, as we saw Truth and Kingston both try to isolate Daniel Bryan from Kane, but Daniel Bryan is good enough on his own to take on either of them easily, and despite Kane and Bryan working against each other, when it came down to it, Bryan ran in their to secure their championships. Sure, his motivations may have been selfish, but the fact is, their gimmick works. All Kingston and Truth ever had were matching clothes, with a ripoff of the Superman logo, with Kofi’s weird Rastafarian/spider head logo thing in the middle. Kane and Bryan beating them, was no surprise, but because of their chemistry, it wasn’t boring either. Plus Daniel Bryan using the Hug It Out tactic to reclaim his title from Kane’s clutches? Brilliant.
It’s hard to imagine they hugged shortly after this.
Wow. The two least charismatic wrestlers in the WWE today. I hate both of these guys, and not in a passionate way like I do Sheamus. I don’t even want to write about them anymore. Randy Orton wins, because he’s Randy Orton. There. Done. Ugh.
After that shiftiest of a boring match, we cut backstage to Heyman and CM Punk talking again. They interact with David Otunga, who insults Punk on Alberto Del Rio’s behalf, and CM Punk has Heyman remind him of Punk’s defeat of ADR last year for the title. They trade faux platitudes of respect, and we’re finally treated to a breath of fresh air from the stinky fart cloud of awful that was that Orton-Tensai match. (I really hated it).
Damien Sandow appears, denouncing Summer as a terrible season (Yeah! Eff Summer), and begins educating all of us, by going through a series of vocabulary words. What’s great about this, is the entire audience seems to HATE a wrestler trying to educate them, or make them smarter in any fashion. Sure, Sandow’s picking a strange setting to give us that lesson, but hell, why not? Why not educate the unwashed masses on the meaning of a few big words? What do you hate learning? WHY DO YOU HATE LEARNING WWE UNIVERSE? KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, REMEMBER?
Anyhow, Zack Ryder comes out, pulling off his best ignorant-and-proud-of-it Bro routine, and slams Sandow. Quickly, he announces that they have a match that’s suddenly been approved by AJ, and they begin wrestling. The match itself was actually pretty good. Zack Ryder’s ability seems directly proportionate to the skill level of whoever he’s working with, and sometimes I think he’s great, and other times I wonder why I ever thought he was great. It’s really weird, and makes me wonder why that happens. However, Sandow clearly is talented, and their ability to work together made for a pretty great match, which actually made Ryder look like he was going to cleanly beat Sandow, up until Sandow got the upper hand and ended it with his finisher, getting the pin, cartwheeling, posing, and then conducting his own music out of the ring.
You know, the best thing about this match was that they’re polar opposites in terms of character, and rightfully should be natural enemies. Zack Ryder is the quintessential “unwashed mass” that Sandow is always speaking of, and the uncultured, unrefined anti-intellectual that Sandow has always been saying he’s going to save us from. They should fight more, and make the whole thing into a wrestling battle of wits, with Ryder representing the ignorant proletariat layman, and Sandow the cultured bourgeoisie dandy. Why not?
This whole match, aside from being yet another Tag Team match shoehorned in as a main event of a Raw, was another example of how John Cena, despite being the go-to honest, tough guy, is always as hypocritical as any heel. Be it his constant bullying of people who can’t fight back, (announcers like Michael Cole), or pulling stunts like he did at the end of this match. Along with the fact that we’ve seen Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus fight, probably a million times now, always with Sheamus winning in lame, unsatisfying, or dishonest ways, the match seemed very by the numbers. After the thrill ride that was last night’s match between Punk and Cena, this whole thing seemed very by the numbers.
After a few minutes of all of them wrestling, and myriad LETS GO CENA/CENA SUCKS chants, the match came to a head with Cena landing an AA on Punk, and pinning him. However, the Referee did not see Punk getting a foot on the rope, thus effectively negating the 3 count. Unfortunately, the lamebrain Ref doesn’t see this, despite totally obviously seeing it, and counts 3 anyway. This is particularly infuriating, because even after being shown his fault on the titantron, the Ref refuses to reverse his decision, or restart the match. Cena takes the win, and as quickly as possible, leaves the arena, apparently accepting the Ref’s decision as final, despite evidence that he clearly shouldn’t have won the match.
This is when JBL makes the exact point I was thinking, and says how hypocritical Cena is for not demanding the match to go on when HE WINS, despite the Ref’s call being terrible. Apparently it’s okay when a Ref makes a shitty call resulting in his win, but when a Ref makes a good call, that results in a draw, all of a sudden that’s NOT RIGHT AND SHOULDN’T HAVE ENDED THAT WAY. Sickening.
CM Punk follows the shitheel Referee out of the ring, and up behind the titantron, screaming at him the entire way, until the show ends. Rightfully screaming, I might add, because I was just as furious as he was. Who does this? Who watches blatant video of themselves making a mistake, knowing full well they can right it, and then refuses to? If you ask me, the whole thing was terrible, and Punk is lucky Heyman was there to hold him back, and calm him down, lest Punk get punished for attacking a WWE official.
Although if he did, it would have been justified, because that Ref clearly didn’t respect him.