Las Vegas, Nevada
-We begin with Miz TV, and quickly, The Miz introduces The Big Show. We’ll see if they bring up his ironclad contract. And, joining them is Dolph Ziggler. They give a quick recap of what transpired at the end of Raw. It was much like the Raw before it. The Miz reminds everyone of why they didn’t help Bryan. They begin to voice their disapproval of the management of the company, but nothing really comes out. Before they can go anywhere with this, Puppet Master H comes on out. So, HHH encourages The Miz to go forward with his opinions. He’s quite silent. The piped in “You Sold Out!” chants are poorly implemented, here. HHH gives The Miz a match against Randy Orton after talking about how The Miz hasn’t been a contender since he lost the belt. Dolph gets a handicap match, and The Big Show has a tense moment with HHH. HHH downplays Big Show’s anger from Monday and gives him the night off. Of course, he merely makes Big Show sit ringside and watch everything while powerless to stop it. Man, this HHH sure is a great heel. No one else (booked) like him. Finally, there’s a truly compelling villain in this company. It’s a tough job to make Bryan look brave by comparison by neutering the other top faces in the company.
The Miz vs. Randy Orton
This matchup feels quite fresh. Orton hits a couple of knees, but Miz comes back with a clothesline and inverted atomic drop. Orton wiggles out of an early figure four leglock attempt. Women in the crowd start to chant for Randy but are overshadowed by boos that come out. They’re like traveling Yankees fans. Orton gets two from a dropkick. Orton poses for the crowd and tosses Miz outside. He then drops Miz’s back over the barricade. Back inside, Orton throws on the old chinlock. It’s weird hearing Cole go to bat for Bryan. Miz slowly fights out of the chinlock and throws lefts in the corner. Miz follows with the corner clothesline and goes up top. Orton interrupts the double axe handle with a big boot and goes for the hanging DDT, but gets dumped.
Well, The Shield come on out, and we hit a commercial break. I’m expecting to see Miz without any arms when we come back. The Miz has his arms as we return, but Orton is in control, battering him against the barricade. Orton rolls him inside and gets two. Orton slugs away at Miz, who is in his element as an underdog babyface, utilizing his terrific selling skills. Orton stomps a few times and hits a kneedrop for two. The Miz gets an elbow up in the corner and hits a running forearm, knee lift and backbreaker combo for two. Orton gets out of the Skull Crushing Finale and hits the hanging DDT. Miz counters the RKO with a backslide for two.
Miz works at the knee, hitting a kneebreaker in the corner and then getting the figure four in the middle of the ring. The Big Show cheers Miz on, but Orton makes the ropes. Orton drags Miz’s throat against the top rope, escaping. He follows with the RKO for the win. Orton calls in The Shield to do more damage, and all hope is lost until Daniel Bryan comes out to some kind of thermonuclear pop. He brandishes a chair and clears the ring, saving his former rival Miz from further damage.
Final Thoughts: ***1/2. The Miz really made this match by making Orton look so superior and fighting from behind the entire time. With Miz, if you drop the overly aggressive mic work and let him be the underdog face who throws wild left hands, he can be an uppercard fixture for quite a while.
-Vickie is backstage in her office with Daniel Bryan, and she is unhappy that he made the save for The Miz. She calls him a bully and naturally, pits him against Ryback, who is still calling himself “The Big Guy”. See, Ryback can’t stand bullies.
Rob Van Dam vs. Damien Sandow
Ricardo now seems to individualize every introduction for Rob Van Dam, and he rolls the r with relish. RVD shrugs and hits a superkick for a quick two to start. Van Dam hits a spin kick in the corner and follows with a legdrop from the top for two. Sandow reverses a whip into a kneelift and runs RVD into the corner post. Sandow follows with a rollup for two and clubs away with knees. The Russian legsweep is followed, as usual, by The Elbow of Disdain for two. RVD comes back with a ‘rana but takes a big boot. RVD crotches Sandow in the ropes and hits a sidekick from that same top rope. Van Dam heads to the top and hits the Five Star Frog Splash for the win. Alberto Del Rio steps out after the match, gets on the microphone, and reminds RVD to not trust Ricardo and that he’ll make it rain on his Rolling Thunder.
Final Thoughts: *1/2 as it was a good squash. The problem is that Damien Sandow shouldn’t be squashed on Smackdown. He shouldn’t be squashed at any time.
The Shield vs. Dolph Ziggler
Is it strange that I miss Dolph’s butt waving in my face? This worried entrance is jarring. Dolph gets some offense in to start, hitting a crossbody on Rollins and punching away, but a distracting lets Rollins take control. Seth stomps away in the corner and brings in Reigns. Ziggler hits the deck after some knuckles to the forehead and gets knocked down from a knee to the gut. Ziggler gets an elbow up in the corner but takes a Samoan drop for two. Dean enters and beats away at Dolph. Ziggler crumples after a strong corner whip. Dolph’s selling makes the crowd ask for Big Show, which leads to more anguish from the big man. Good stuff. Dean taunts Dolph, but takes a defiant slap to the face.
Ambrose charges but gets dumped to the outside shortly thereafter. Ambrose brings in Rollins, and Ziggler gets a small package for two. Blind tag to Reigns. Rollins counters a Fameasser into a turnbuckle bomb, and Reigns cuts Ziggler in half with the spear for the win. Nasty! After the match, The Shield hold Dolph in the ropes and try to goad Big Show into entering the ring. They continue to taunt him as they hit the triple powerbomb to leave Dolph wrecked in the middle of the ring.
Final Thoughts: **1/2. Why Reigns and Rollins haven’t used that as their tag team finisher is beyond me. Whoever had the idea to have Big Show sit in a chair for two hours and go through a range of emotions deserves a raise. He’s such a damned good actor.
-We are visited by Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel. Surprisingly, Curtis has the microphone to start and puts over the bravery with which he performed with on Monday. Paul is steadfast in defending his actions on Monday. Paul likens himself to a God-like figure in Punk’s eyes. Paul admits to Axel that he is afraid of stepping in the ring with Punk at Night of Champions. Paul warns the crowd of what he may do to Punk if he is afraid for his life. On a side note, it’s nice to see Axel carry himself with some earned swagger.
Wyatt Family vs. Tons of Funk
Harper and Tensai slug it out. It breaks down. Harper hits a big boot and corner splash. Rowan comes in with the splash and that’s all she wrote. Bray comes in and hits The Kiss Goodnight on Tensai.
Final Thoughts: We’re told a bit about someone named Sister Abigail. We’ll see where that goes. Luke Gallows should grow a beard.
Ryback vs. Daniel Bryan
It’s time for one of Ryback’s best matches. Daniel Bryan is over like free cold beer at a hot summer baseball game. Bryan takes it to Ryback at the start, but Ryback catches Bryan, whirls him around, and hits a powerslam. Ryback hits some thrusts in the corner and comes up with a hard whip into the opposite corner. He follows with a diving thrust into that corner and gets two. Bryan dodges a corner charge and gets back to his feet. He follows with the corner dropkick flurry and it sends Ryback outside. Bryan dives and sends Ryback into the announce table. Randy Orton walks down to the ring after this, and distracts Bryan, allowing Ryback to hit a clothesline from behind. We go to break.
We return with Ryback in control. Bryan fights out and chops away. However, Ryback hits a nasty spinebuster that’ll make The Rock blush, surely. Ryback readies The Meathook and hits it for two. Ryback bullies Bryan into getting back to his feet an lifts him to the top. Ryback follows him up, but Bryan fights back with headbutts. Bryan hits the dropkick and kicks the crap out of Ryback, with Big Show clapping the table in time. Bryan nails the buzzsaw but only gets two. I love that they remembered to get the payoff. Yes Lock, and Orton hops in. He gets it, too. But, The Shield run out and they get on Bryan.
The Big Show finally enters the ring, and the heels scatter. HHH runs out and yells for Big Show to get out of the ring. The Big Show nearly cries as he leaves Bryan to get picked apart. This is powerful shit, but his ironclad contract is just ignored and he’s been neutered. So, HHH gets his way. Bryan gets further beat down to end the show. It’s quite brutal. Orton walks him around the ring to show the entire crowd. After the triple powerbomb, Randy grabs a can of orange spray paint and paints “NO” on Bryan’s chest.
Final Thoughts: *** for the match. At this point, a Big Show heel turn is the way they have to go. That, or him knocking Seth Rollins to Charon. I prefer seeing Rollins become a satellite of Pluto.
–As a standalone program, this was very, very good. There’s one major story line and they’re working a lot of people into it. So, I’m mad right now. I’m a huge mark for Bryan, of course. But, this is just different. I don’t have faith in HHH putting Bryan over, even relatively clean. Let’s not fool ourselves, Vince is pretty much hands off on this storyline. It’s distinctly lacking his touch. This is all HHH. This is precise, gut-wrenching stuff that is moving slowly. Bryan desperately needs to get something to give fans some hope before they start feeling fatigue. Yes, he’s a megastar that bested Cena. But in wrestling, momentum can stall in quick fashion. I don’t need to talk much about the failures in the latter half of 2011. If hope is an illusion in life, this is one of those places we go to see it manifested. I believe that I’m bargaining right now.
Going back to an earlier thought, this is a HHH project right now. My theory is that Vince has final say, unless HHH works his magic and gets into Vince’s ear. He certainly knows how to accomplish this. He has more sway than he used to, for obvious reasons. This angle has everything HHH likes. The underdog gets murdered, there’s lots of microphone time for HHH and Four Horsemen style beatdowns are the norm. This is fine, but, I seriously doubt that HHH pulls the trigger and does what is needed for “the good of the business”. The heel begs off and shows cowardice when there’s that moment of truth. He pisses his pants and makes a mockery of himself to hold onto his perceived power before he falls like a dragon slain at Beowulf’s hands, and at the most public of arenas.
He’s just too much of a mark for to do such a thing.
I apologize for editorializing for a moment. Hey, Bryan Danielson is a main event star in WWE. Let’s remember that.