Opening Segment – WWE Championship Contract Signing: Maddox announced things would be kicking off with the contract signing between Cena and Bryan. Cena came out, and Maddox said that there’s a curiosity factor with his choice. “Why Daniel Bryan?” Cena said he listened to the WWE Universe, and it was clear in his mind. Maddox then listed all the ways Bryan is weaker than Cena, offering them up as excuses for Cena’s choice.
Daniel Bryan came out and accused Maddox of saying that he didn’t deserve a WWE Title shot. Cena said he chose Bryan because Maddox “and the dumb@$$es he works for” don’t always recognize God-given talent. Cena said that ability and passion, not size and strength, make a champion, and he listed off the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Shawn Michaels, etc. He said that Bryan deserves the opportunity, but that he only picked him to “compete in this match,” and that he’s not just going to hand it over.
After both men signed the contract, Maddox told Bryan he was going to give him a chance to prove himself tonight… in a series of match(es).
– Solid opening segment. I liked the idea of kicking off the show with the contract signing as it helps keep things fresh. Maddox was pure money here, and Cena was so much more effective as a serious competitor, rather than the “goofy, funny guy.”
Alberto Del Rio def. Sheamus: Good job by the announce team to tie this in with their World Heavyweight Championship rivalry from last year. Before the commercial, Del Rio maintained control, but the crowd was hot for Sheamus. After the commercial, Sheamus started fighting his way back in. Del Rio targeted Sheamus’ bruised leg throughout the match, and Sheamus sold the injury by not being able to finish his Irish Curse Backbreaker. As Del Rio attempted the cross-armbreaker, Sheamus reversed it into a white noise, but collapsed on his weak leg. Del Rio capitalized by rolling Sheamus up for a quick pin.
– Good match. I liked the ring psychology of Del Rio attacking the injured leg, but still thought that these guys have put together more entertaining bouts.
Backstage interview with Booker T and Teddy Long: Booker said he was shocked by Vickie Guerrero’s announcement, and Teddy Long was all like, “mehh, what about me?” These two bickered about who deserved to be Smackdown GM. Interesting opening chapter for this story, or at least, I’m personally interested.
Christian def. Titus O’Neil: O’Neil looked strong here – that is, physically strong. His in-ring presence is dominating. O’Neil worked Christian over, tossing him around inside and outisde the ring. He even stopped to blow his whistle. Christian used a series of slap to get the upper hand, and even hit a drop-kick from the top rope. He finished O’Neil off with the Killswitch.
-Solid, but still a little flat. O’Neil looked dominant because of his size, and I’m happy to see a younger star highlighted by being in the ring with a veteran.
Mark Henry Promo: Mark Henry came out and cut a very face-like promo. He played to the hometown crowd, and said he was proud to be from Texas, and everybody cheered. He then called out The Shield. The Shield entered through the crowd. They beat Henry into the corner, until The Usos came out to rescue him. Then, the Shield retreated.
-Guess this means The Hall of Pain is closed for renovations? While I didn’t think Henry needed a face turn at this point, this was the perfect way for creative to get him over. The crowd loved it.
Dolph Ziggler def. Darren Young: You can tell WWE is planning Young and O’Neil for a bright singles future with these individual matches. Unfortunately, the crowd just had a hard time getting into this one. Young looked solid here, and hit an impressive electric chair-like move. Still, Ziggler snuck in a Zig-Zag and gained the victory. Solid match, but nothing noteworthy.
After the match, Big E Langston tried to attack, but Ziggler made Big E look foolish by tossing him over the top rope, then escaping.
Triple H, Stephanie McMahon & Brad Maddox Backstage Segment: Triple H confronted Brad Maddox on his derogatory remarks about Daniel Bryan, and implied that they came from somebody above (i.e. Vince McMahon). Hunter put over Daniel Bryan as the future of the company, and threatened that Maddox needs to make sure he’s on the right train leaving the station.
-Glad they addressed the issue of Maddox attacking Bryan for his size earlier in the night. It seems like this story is chugging along slowly but surely, I just hope things amp up soon. Still, a successful segment, if not wholly unexpected.
CM Punk Injury Update: Punk came out and put over Lesnar’s attack, said he feels like he’s been hit by a car. He said that Brock Lesnar is a monster. However, Punk argued that Lesnar’s biggest weapon has always been fear, and claimed that he is “not afraid of Brock Lesnar.” Punk then moved on to Heyman. He stated that this is his ring, and he’s proven it against everybody. He promised to get his hands on Heyman, and to make him pay. Punk said he wants CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. “The Best vs. The Beast”
Heyman popped up “Live Via Satellite,” and mocked Punk and the fans in Texas. Heyman said that a hero is “just a fool too stupid to stay down.” He asked Punk if he is a coward, or a fool. Heyman said that he and Brock accept Punk’s challenge for SummerSlam, but it’s not “The Best vs. The Beast” because The Best IS The Beast.
-Good segment that rambled on just a little too long to be considered great. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but expect a few more thoughts in my Reaction and Review tomorrow.
RVD vs. Wade Barrett: Barrett got busted up early in the match, and suffered from a bloody mouth and bloody nose. Rob Van Dam dominated the entire match. He used this match to highlight his unique offense, and sealed the deal with a Five-Star Frog Splash. Good showcase match for RVD… even if Barrett was buried even further as a result.
Daniel Bryan Wins Match #1 against Jack Swagger: Swagger dominated the early part of the match, and the crowd chanted “OU Sucks!” Not a whole lot of time was given to these guys to work. Bryan finally stuck in the “YES! Lock” to win.
Daniel Bryan Match #2 against Antonio Cesaro: Cesaro and Bryan put together a fun wrestling-first match. Momentum shifted in Daniel Bryan’s direction, and he managed to capitalize on Cesaro’s weakness. After the commercial, Daniel Bryan attacked with every big move. He attempted a superpex, but Cesaro reversed. Just as Cesaro was going for the neutralizer, Bryan flipped him into a backdrop, and regained control of the match. Cesaro tried to toss Bryan up for the uppercut, but Bryan hit an incredible counter by flipping Cesaro into a small cradle.
-Best match of the night. Both of these guys brought their A-Game, and Cesaro looked like a star in the ring with Bryan. Most impressively, Bryan put on this performance AFTER his initial match with Jack Swagger.
Ryback Backstage Interview: Ryback cut a weird, awkward promo about survival of the fittest, the strong eating the weak, etc, complete with his traditional awkward pauses. The only person intimidated was Josh Matthews.
Miz TV w/ Total Divas: OhMyGawd. They showed a clip from the show, and the crowd unanimously booed afterwards. The Miz turned the segment over to Jerry “The Horn Dog” Lawler. Eva Marie showed a little attitude (which sounded completely faked) and slapped The King to re-inforce her heel-like tendencies. And that’s it. Really. Terrible, terrible segment. I didn’t think this was possible, but my interest level for this show dropped even more – what’s less than “nothing”?
Cody Rhodes def. Fandango with Sandow on commentary: Rhodes and Fandango put together a fun, short match. Unfortunately, wrong placement by Fandango resulted in a botched moonsault from Rhodes. Plus, the finish looked weird, with Sandow trying to interfere, but instead accidentally setting Fandango up for a disaster kick with the MITB briefcase. Not to be nitpicky, but those two things (especially the finish) really ruined the segment for me.
Daniel Bryan Wins Match #3 against Ryback as a result of a DQ: Ryback came out as the surprise 3rd opponent for Daniel Bryan. He attacked with his normal array of punches and irish whips, nothing new. Bryan finally got back in the match with a flying knee, and a few running drop-kicks. Eventually, Ryback got frustrated and powerbombed Bryan through a table. Cena had enough, and ran out to save Bryan’s hide. Afterwards, Cena challenged Ryback to a tables match, and the announcers all act confused about when that match would be.
Backstage, Vince McMahon showed up in Brad Maddox’s office. He said Bryan needs to face somebody bigger and more vicious than he is. Next week on Raw, Daniel Bryan will be facing Kane.
– Weak ending. Outside of Bryan’s tremendous effort, that third match was a flop. The ending was handled awkwardly with the announce team acting clueless, and the announcement of Cena vs. Ryback in a tables match fell flat. Quit phoning it in, WWE!
Brad Maddox’s Blue Pants: Just plain hideous. From a guy who I normally consider a well-dressed dude, this looked bad.
Rockpocalypse: Really, WWE? You made a crummy game for smartphones about a guy who isn’t even there most of the year?