Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Night of Champions 2012
Posted by Jack Bramma on 11.14.2012
After a wellness suspension, Orton tries to get back on track against Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio gets another shot against Sheamus with the Brogue Kick banned, and John Cena tries to beat respect out of CM Punk for the WWE Championship.
• Scheduled Card:
1. Fatal 4-Way for the WWE Intercontinental Championship: Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Sin Cara vs. The Miz (c).
2. WWE Tag Team Championship: Hell No vs. R-Boom (c).
3. WWE United States Championship: Zack Ryder vs. Antonio Cesaro (c).
4. Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton.
5. WWE Diva's Championship: Kaitlyn vs. Layla (c).
6. World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Sheamus (c).
7. WWE Championship: John Cena vs. CM Punk (c).
• Video package is the usual shmaltzy glow of what it's like to be a champion including such prestigious reigns as Rock's WCW title run, Cesaro's US championship, Sheik's WWF title and R-Boom's tag run. But someone is different, he demands more like ice cream bars and his own private bus. Of course, it's Punk and his quest for respect. Punk's the villain because he called himself the best and beat a bunch of guys to prove it. Cena on the other hand is the hero because he calls out Punk for evolving and stepping up his game. But enough of that, TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT THAT WILL DEFINE PUNK'S EXISTENCE! Remember, you'll never have a second chance to make a final impression by beating Cena for the fifth time.
• Cole begins by giving us an update on Jerry Lawler's condition as the crowd chants for King. He then welcomes King's replacement for tonight, JBL.
• Fatal 4-Way for the WWE Intercontinental Championship: Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Sin Cara vs. The Miz (c). Miz joins us first and is upset that it's a four-way. He says he's filing a complaint against Booker T for an injustice. Rey interrupts his rambling and Cole points out that JBL was retired by Mysterio. JBL, like a pro, dodges and says it's not about him tonight, but about The Miz. All four in the ring to start as Cody shitcans Sin Cara out. He and Miz try some double teaming only to eat some lucha teamwork. Now, it's Cara and Mysterio who have cleared the ring. The crowd pops for that almost interaction. But Miz, being no friend of crowd reactions the last six months, pulls Mysterio to the floor and Cody waffles Cara from behind. Miz and Cody take turns punching Cara around. He takes both down with a headscissors and a strange armdrag on Cody off a double team attempt. Cara goes to the more “traditional” spiralling armdrag off the top and Miz and Cody both powder out. Cody runs back in only for Rey to botch the anti-Newtonian rana but Cody bumps out of the ring anyway. Now, it's Cara-Mysterio part deux. They both go to the hamstring kicks and some flip reversals and roll throughs. Off a fireman's carry, Mysterio with a headscissors and covers for 2 but Miz breaks it up. Miz and Cody go back on the offense. Cody with a gordbuster on Cara and Miz boots Mysterio down. Cody tries to go for a cover but the bromance is over as Miz tries to break up the cover and now it's on. Cody steals his brother's drop down throat thrust but Miz no sells and comes back with right hands. Cody goes for the Beautiful Disaster. Miz ducks and wants the neck/backbreaker. He hits one but Cody interrupts the combo only for Miz to dump him out. Mysterio and Cara now trade rolls up for 2. Cara and Mysterio hit stereo DR FG's on Miz. They go back to the hamstring kicks as JBL brings up their AAA past in Mexico. Mysterio with a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle. He heads up top but Cara cuts him up with an enzuigiri. Cara taunts to crickets but Cody throws him down and hits the Beautiful Disaster... to his chest. Cody covers for 2. Cody goes back to work on Mysterio as the crowd gets up a Cody chant. Miz runs under for the powerbomb/superplex Tower of Doom spot. Always a nice addition. Miz covers each but only for 2 counts. Miz baseball slide dropkicks Cara and Cody out to the floor. Miz goes to the BLATANTCHOKE on Mysterio as the crowd now wants to let Miz know that he's awesome. He follows up with the DDT for 2.
• JBL has been putting over Miz big time on commentary as an improved wrestler and worthy of the hype. JBL: “[Earlier in his career] I couldn't stand him. I really thought he was going to be another Kardashian brother or some other reality goof. He worked his tail end off to become a Wrestlemania main eventer and a WWE champion.” Cole: “You can't take anything away from Mike Mysterio either.” JBL not wanting to be a dick to Cole so close after he came through in real time with King's heart attack, lets that gaffe slide. Meanwhile, Mysterio baseball slides out to the floor and Cara springboards in with a dropkick on Miz. Cara follows out with a suicide dive on Miz and Rey with a headscissors on Cody and a seated senton off the apron. JBL: “You don't win a championship outside the ring.” Cara springboards back in with a decade air on Miz for 2. Miz hits the corner clothesline on Cara but Mysterio follows up with a dropkick and an Arabian press for 1, 2 – Cody breaks it up. Cody hits a wheelbarrow facebuster but Cara breaks up the cover. Cara flips out of a suplex and sets up in the ropes but Miz jumps him and throws him into the ringpost. Mysterio rolls through on Miz and plants him next to Cody for the 619. Cody ducks but Miz eats it. Mysterio shitcans Cody out and hits a splash on Miz. He covers for 1, 2, – Cody pulls him out. Cody tries a cover but Cara breaks it up. JBL: “DON'T LEAVE AN OUNCE OF GAS IN THE TANK HERE, MICHAEL! PULL OUT ANY STOP! THIS IS TO BE A CHAMPION!” Cody has HAD IT with the los vatos locos routine and decides he wants to unmask Cara. Mysterio breaks it up by Cody helps him belly flop to the floor. Sin Cara with an enzuigiri on Cody and pulls off one of his masks but he's wearing another. Miz interrupts this ritual for the neck/backbreaker on Cody. He covers for 1, 2, 2 ½. JBL is amazed and wants to know how many masks guys like Cara and Mysterio have. Cole like an alamanac: “Mysterio has over 100 in his collection.” That's simultaneously funny and interesting trivia. Miz goes for a Wild Bomb but Cody puts the mask on Miz now. Cody breaks up and goes for Crossroads but Miz trashes him with the SCF and covers for 1, 2, 3 to retain at 12:06.
• This is one of those fun, energetic, US-style cruiserweight mosiacs that Mysterio has had a 1000x in his career. They still work 15 years later and just show Heyman and Bischoff were remarkably ahead of the curve. This one has the added benefit of having a tinge of story with Miz and Cody teaming up to take on the masked marauders in a pseudo tornado tag match. Good especially with JBL's addition on commentary. ***1/4
• Meanwhile, the PTPers tell Eve they should be on the big stage making MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, OHHHHHHHH! And Titus has a whistle. I love these two even if they can't wrestle for beans. BUT WAIT! Eve runs away to check on Kaitlyn who was attacked by someone. She doesn't know who because “something was covering their face” like a blurred image on Unsolved Mysteries. Eve says Kaitlyn can't compete and instead they'll talk to Book and figure something out.
• WWE Tag Team Championship: Hell No vs. R-Boom (c). Kane and Dragon had some anger issues but they worked them out in anger management, hugged it out, and got into a tag team. They defeated the PTPers on RAW to become number 1 contenders after Kane ChokeSlammed DB onto Darren Young. Surprisingly, this has been some of the WWE's best writing, performing, and television in months. It does my heart good that “vanilla midget” DB has blown past other guys like Miz, Cody, McIntyre, Morrison, Kofi, and other WWE pet projects to be the most entertaining guy and one of the most over guys on their show. JBL, however, is none too pleased about Lil Jimmy. JBL: “LOOK AT THIS! HE'S LETTING AN IMAGINARY CHARACTER IN THE RING! HE'S GOT AN IMAGINARY FRIEND... I DID TOO... WHEN I WAS THREE!”
Big DB chant to start but Kane pulls rank and says he's starting instead. Kane tries to shitcan Kofi out but he skins the cat and comes back with a Bluechipper dropkick. Truth is in for a combo Stinger Splash. Kane tries no selling that but Kofi dropkicks him the rest of the way down. Kane hits a few rights and tags in DB. He puts the boots to Truth and the crowd is instantly more into the match. Truth with an up and over and an armdrag to come back. Kofi back in with a crossbody off the top for a fleeting 1 count. Cole tries putting over the prestigious lineage of the tag titles held by such luminaries as the Bashams and Big Show and Kane. No, really. Kofi with a BRUTAL DR FG and Truth hits the B-Boy leg drop for another 1 count. Truth telegraphs a backdrop and Kane takes his head off with a clothesline after a blind tag. Kane with a whole bunch of nothing and tags DB back in for the BEST IN THE WORLD HAMMER off the top. He hits several DR FG's on Truth and a basement dropkick for a 1 count. Kane now with his own basement dropkick for 1. Kane goes to the deadly neck wrench. JBL and Cole start running down Kane's tag partners: Undertaker, Showster, Rikishi, X-Pac, etc. Strange to hear some of those names on WWE TV today. Kane whips DB into the corner for the combo IED but Kofi moves. HELL NO! They implode and the fans want them to hug it out in a cool moment, but no dice. DB piefaces Kane, but then realizes he's dealing with a freak so DB begs off and now he calls for the hug it out. JBL: “THIS IS A CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH! YOU DO NOT HUG IT OUT!” Awesome stuff. JBL: “YOU NEVER SAW ME HUG RON SIMMONS!” Cole: “Yeah.” JBL: “Well, not in a match.”
• Kane comes in for the big embrace, so they can get on the same page. Truth goes for the tag and makes it to crickets. Kofi with a few burritos and double chops to boos. He sets up DB for the Boom Drop but the crowd mostly doesn't care because they love Hell No. Kofi goes for the Trouble in Paradise but Kane pulls Dragon out to the floor to avoid. Instead, Kofi flies out with a flip splash, but again, to no reaction. DB avoids a springboard and goes for the NO LOCK! Truth breaks it up to BIG heat. He tries a plancha on Kane but Kane moves much to the delight of the Hell No fans. DB hits the IED on Kofi and then Kane tags himself in. DB doesn't appreciate that but he helps Kane block a top rope rana anyway. Kofi bites the dust but DB shoves Kane off the top into a splash on Kofi. Kane “covers” for 1, 2, 3 to win the belts at 8:32. Well, that finish certainly makes R-Boom look like a couple of inconsequential nothings jobbing to a botched splash, but who cares. WWE rightly saw that DB and Kane were lightning in a bottle and seized the moment to put them over. The odd crowd dynamic of only one team even registering a pulse hurts the match's enjoyability but still solid. **3/4
• Post-match, they pull one of my favorite wrestling oddities by saying a bunch of nonsense that the crowd can't hear so they just point at themselves and the belts over and over again. JBL asks how one man can be tag team champions, but he should buff up on his WCW history because both Rick Steiner and Sting accomplished that feat.
• Meanwhile, Eve tells Book the bad news so he makes Eve the replacement and gives her a title shot.
• WWE United States Championship: Zack Ryder vs. Antonio Cesaro (c). Cesaro/Claudio still has Aksana with him even though she doesn't even get a “w/” graphic on the screen. Claudio's music is seriously shit though and desperately needs an upgrade. Pre-match, Claudio is all I'M MULTI A LOT OF THINGS AND LINGUAL IS ONE OF THEM and tells us 5 ways to say unfair. Ryder gets this title shot because he won a battle royal on the pre-show.
• Cesaro throws Ryder around and piefaces him into the mat because he's VERY European and also because Ryder is selling the effects of the battle royal. Ryder comes back with an arm wringer that flips Cesaro. Cesaro with a shoulderblock and mocks Ryder's taunt only to run into a flapjack and a Bluechipper dropkick. Ryder covers for 1, 2, only 2. Cole mentions the lineage and previous winners of the US strap THREE times in the match's first minute. Crowd starts up a Claudio chant as he takes over with a flapjack into the ropes and goes to a chinlock. See Cesaro's gotta learn that WWE style. SLOW! IT! DOWN! Grind that chinlock inside of 90 seconds. Ryder elbows out only to eat a clothesline for 2. Cesaro picks up Ryder with a Karelin slam for 2. BLATANTCHOKERY from Cesaro and a few double foot stomps. Vertical suplex gets another 2 count. Cesaro goes to a kravat but that goes nowhere so they slug it out at 3 minutes in. Cesaro is all FUCK THIS and flapjacks Ryder into the SWISS DEATH FROM ABOVE! Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. That should have been the finish since it's just so awesome. Cesaro hooks Ryder in a neckbreaker Gory Special but loses the hold and Ryder facesmashes him and hits a DISCUS LARIATO! Ryder school boys him for 1, 2, only 2. Ryder hits the Missile Dropkick for 1, 2, 2.7. Ryder lands on his feet out of a suplex attempt and hits a neckbreaker. Cover gets 1, 2, still 2. This went from crosswalk speed limit to the Autobahn inside of about 30 seconds. Cesaro heads up top but Ryder crotches him and follows up with a top rope rana. Ryder cues up the facewash but Cesaro rolls to the floor with Aksana's help. Cesaro runs him around and cuts him off at the pass with another SWISS DEATH and a cradle piledriver. Cover gets 1, 2, 3 to retain at 6:41. An acceptable use of both guys at this stage of their fed trajectories but are there two guys on more divergent courses with Ryder now a jobber and Cesaro steadily working his way up? Here's hoping they find a way to utilize Ryder's talents that doesn't involve losing to everyone because he's earned it and Cesaro is God-like in the right setting, but 6 minute semi-squashes with Ryder laying around for half of it aren't it. **1/2
• Meanwhile, ADR and Otunga are trying to rope Ricardo Rodriguez into their shuckster routine by forcing him to wear a neck brace even though he's OK. EL ES ESTUPIDO!
• Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton. This was set up by Orton interrupting Dolph's attempt to cash in the MITB briefcase on Sheamus. Orton was pissed because he'd lost the number 1 contender's match to Del Rio and thus was a sore loser. JBL's puts over Orton's 9 world titles and his gamesmanship in living up to his potential. Cole then equally puts over Dolph's title history including his dubious WHW reign. Dolph grabs a headlock as JBL says both guys are in their primes. He runs over Orton with a shoulderblock and then avoids the Bluechipper dropkick by hanging on to the ropes. SUCK ON SOME SOUL GLO, RANDALL! WOOOOOO! Dolph has a good laugh at Randy's expense and.... shows off. Randy no sells embarrassment and now runs over Dolph with a shoulderblock and a clothesline. Orton goes to the Garvin/Malenko stomp and a couple of Euro uppercuts. Dolph plays possum and suckers Orton into a choke on the ropes and a Bluechipper dropkick for a 2 count. Randy tries a few more rights as Dolph avoids a backdrop and takes down Orton with a neckbreaker for another 2 count. JBL seens oddly obsessed with railroading Cole as a sexist, chauvinist but Cole isn't saying much so it comes off forced. Still funny though. Dolph hits a few elbows as Cole tries to defend his accusations against Vickie: “Do you condone her slapping our general manager not once, but twice a couple of weeks ago?” JBL: “Michael, you want to call the match or get into some type of histrionics here? We're calling Night of Champions; I don't have time to get into hypotheticals with you, Michael.” Now, that's some quality ownage.
• Orton with a rebound suplex off the ropes for 1, 2, only 2. Orton hits his neck/backbreaker and now starts building momentum with a few clotheslines and a powerslam. Dolph refuses to buck tradition and instead rolls to the apron like a gentleman so Orton can telegraph his DDT. Thankfully, Dolph sneaks him with a school boy for 1, 2, 2 ½ to at least break up the sequence and keep us on our toes. Dolph now clips the knee with a dropkick but Orton no sells and catches him in a pseudo-powerbomb for a 2 count. JBL talks about how Orton grew up in a wrestling ring and then transitions to maintaining kayfabe on Papa Bear Bob's twenty-year broken arm. Orton gets shoved off the top by Ziggler as both REALLY milk the hell out of this transition for all it's worth. Cue the dueling chants as Dolph hits a missile dropkick for 1, 2, 2 ½. Now, we're in the slug it out sequence but Dolph outsmarts Orton with a leaping Stun Gun for another 2 count. JBL tries playing up the stakes of the match that if Orton beats Ziggler, then Ziggler cashes in and wins the belt, Orton should get first shot. JBL is an obvious step above King for color man these days. Ziggler drops several elbows and gives Orton another handful of Soul Glo. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.7.
• Chinlock for Ziggler and then he adds in the handstand to neckbridge transition. Even JBL gets rusty as he calls Dolph a “former WWE champion” which isn't true even when counting his bullshit world title reign. JBL though rebounds to bring up Dolph's amateur credentials and the riding time he's accumulating and then NICELY contrasts it with Orton's third generation, carny background. Orton overcomes Greco-Roman superiority with a back suplex. Dolph recovers first with a clothesline for another 2 count. JBL has ran out of steam as he's not repeating talking points and so has the match as Vickie's louder than the crowd while Dolph rides this chinlock. Orton punches his way free and hits a Bluechipper dropkick. Dolph with a desperation DDT for another 2 count. Dolph heads up top as Cole and JBL argue over whether Vickie is yelling or inspiring. Orton crouches Dolph up top and hits a top rope suplex for a nearfall. JBL says they are stealing the show which is one of putting a slow, plodding match where only one guy sells and the other takes a long time not doing it. The crowd is a bit restless as well as they have turned on Orton for Ziggler again in the dueling chants. Dolph with a few knees, elbows, and headbutts. Orton no sells and comes back with more clotheslines. Dolph avoids the powerslam and hits a Rocker Dropper. Cover gets 1, 2, only 2. Orton preps the apron DDT again but Dolph bails out to the floor only for Orton to throw him into the barricade. Orton instead throws him onto the barricade. OH NO! HIS EYES HAVE CHANGED! BARRICADE DDT! VINTAGE ORTON! Yeah... even I can't sell Cole's enthusiasm. Back in, Orton covers for 1, 2, 2.7. JBL tells it for about the fifth time this match that we “have to love Orton” which hopefully has not been added to the viper nomenclature that the crew has to repeat every show because I could see that backfiring. Orton fires up with this odd gyration and then flips off someone in the crowd. Dolph ducks behind with an O'Connor Roll for 1, 2, 2.9! SLEEPER! Orton no sells and alley oops Dolph into the RKO. He covers for 1, 2, 3 to win at 18:16.
• Typical RAW match just a bit longer and with no commercial break to cut out the boring midsection of restholds. As usual, Orton decided against selling in the interest of flipping off marks and pounding the mat. JBL sure tried to spitshine this one on commentary, but I wasn't buying tonight. Just as a point of historical fact, this is how the “Cena sucks” anti-momentum began rearing its head back in the fall of 2005. He was getting booed against midcard faces and heels like Shelton Benjamin well before it was even acknowledged that the crowd was outright turning on him. If in 6 months, half of the arena is chanting “Orton sucks”, don't be surprised, though this could just be an outlier. ***
• WWE Diva's Championship: Eve vs. Layla (c). So Eve and Kaitlyn botched the end of a battle royal and thus Kaitlyn got a title shot. Kaitlyn was attacked backstage earlier tonight by... someone... and Book gave Eve the title shot. JBL weighs in on the controversy: “THE LOCH NESS MONSTER IS NOT REAL! THERE ARE NO BLACK HELICOPTERS! THERE IS NO CONSPIRACY!” Layla tries a roll up that gets a fleeting 2 count. They go through some chain but Eve kips up only to get arm dragged down. They slowly back to their corners. JBL brings up Eve's BJJ training as she cartwheels her way into a hammerlock. Layla counters and grabs a headlock and then runs over Eve with a shoulderblock. Eve telegraphs a hiptoss so Layla rolls her up with a slick pinning combination. Eve counters to her own for 2. Back to the headlock for Layla. Eve now telegraphs a trip up spot so Layla fakes her out and dropkicks her back down. Eve fakes a bloody nose so Layla offers her a shake of sportsmanship. Eve no sells integrity and boots her down and then botches a belly flop to the floor. Layla throws herself down and then jumps into the apron while Eve plays the part of the broomstick. Back in, Eve works over the gut as the crowd is getting restless even though this hasn't been bad.
• Eve with a BLATANTCHOKE as JBL calls Layla an idiot for falling for the shake. JBL: “You go to shake a person's hand in the middle of the ring after a championship match has started, you deserve to get kicked wherever you get kicked... YOU'RE NOT SHAKING HANDS IN THE MIDDLE OF A CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH! IT'S DIFFERENT BACKSTAGE, IT'S DIFFERENT AFTER A MATCH, IT'S DIFFERENT BEFORE A MATCH! DURING A MATCH, YOU TRY TO WIN AND THAT'S WHAT EVE IS TRYING TO DO!” And this man climbs mountains, ladies and gentlemen! More choking from Eve as she casually drops Layla when the ref calls for a break. Awesome. Eve covers for a 2 count. Eve goes to the body triangle as Layla sells broken ribs. JBL gives Michael shit for not knowing his WCCW history: “Reminiscent of the great Kevin Von Erich, that leg scissor, you can't breath in it... I guess that reference was too old for ya, too, Michael.” Cole: “Texas Tornado.” JBL: “That's his brother, Kerry.” Cole: “Thought you had me there, didn't ya?” JBL: “I did.” Eve now switches to a regular triangle and drives Layla into the mat a few times. The smarks get up a Generico chant because, well just because. Layla counters to a DDT and a dropkick. She hits a phantom burrito and a hair toss. She goes for a double jump crossbody but Eve moves and Layla eats mat. Eve hits the Roll the Dice and covers for 1, 2, 3 to become new champ at 6:39. After a touch-and-go start, Layla dialed up her damsel-in-distress routine and Eve forced on the midsection. Competent with a logical ending for the most part. **
• Meanwhile, Dragon is backstage with Dr. Shelby and Kane is as well. They argue about who is the singular tag team champion. AJ interrupts their dueling rants to spill some crazy all over them. Kane responds by dumping Gatorade on the lot of them and says he's going to Disneyland.
• World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Sheamus (c). The bicycle kick is banned because he took out Ricardo and then Berto lawyered up with Otunga and settled things like a gentleman: a lawsuit. BUT WAIT! Book comes out before the match starts, and being no fan of the legal system or checks and balances, he ignores judicial review and channels King BOOKA to “HEREBY DECLARE” that the kick is reinstated. ALL HAIL KING BOOKA!
• Otunga tries to file a motion to recess until Team Berto can change their plea, but Sheamus drops the hammer and BOOT OF FEARSs him off the apron. Cole and JBL actually agree that Book is a bastard for not giving his decision on Saturday instead of right before the match. ADR still manages a shoulderblock and avoid the pump kick again to start. He takes a breather to regroup. Meanwhile, Cole tries to grill JBL about losing to Mysterio one time in 23 seconds, just short of DB's “record” 18 second loss to Sheamus: “I had a bad cold that night, Michael, and YOU KNOW THAT! It was 102 temperature, I had a note from my doctor, but I went out there anyway. I was dehydrated, worn out, exhausted, nauseous—you name it, it was wrong with me. AND I STILL WENT OUT THERE!” Sheamus and ADR go through a feeling out process until Sheamus takes over with a neckbreaker. He covers for 1, 2, only 2. Berto comes back with a few kicks. He goes for a Bossman attack but Sheamus moves out of the way and ADR eats floor. Sheamus follows up with a shoulderblock off the apron. Back in, they jockey for position on the top rope and ADR chokes him across the turnbuckle and throws him into the announce table which Sheamus takes LIKE A BOSS. Seriously, that same bump broke Foley's sternum at WM2000 when he came up short on an elbow drop. In the ring, Berto takes over with a faux Crippler Crossface. Sheamus no sells but runs into another kick to the gut and a curb stomp from ADR. Cover gets 1, 2, only 2. ADR throws Sheamus shoulderfirst into the ringpost and then wraps it around the ringpost and kicks the arm INTO the ringpost. YEAH! Berto with a Mongolian chop off the top and goes back to the arm. Sheamus tries a charge in the corner but ADR gets the elbow up as JBL says he's fighting for the entire country of Mexico, because it's Mexican Independence Day and he's a hero at home. Sheamus tries another attack in the corner but ADR reclines back and locks in the ARMBAR! ADR breaks after the 5 count and then mocks Sheamus's chest thump to the crowd. YEAHHHHHH! ADR tries to follow up with a MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE HAMMER but flies into a CELTIC HAMMER!
• Sheamus follows up with a few more Ivan Putski Specials but ADR cuts him off by booting the arm. He goes for the armbar but Sheamus plants him with a Bulldog Powerslam. Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. JBL now puts on his geneticist hat by calling Sheamus a mutant: “It's a simple genetic fact. Sometimes, an island with a small gene pool, you get guys like Sheamus.” ADR elbows his way out of a half-nelson backbreaker attempt. He goes for a charge but Sheamus dumps him on the apron, smashes him into the ringpost, and goes to work with the CLUBBINGBLOWBARRAGE. Sheamus wants the Schweinn but ADR shoves him off into a backcracker. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.7. ADR calls for the armbar as the crowd chants for ZIGGLER. Yes, that's how bored they were with this program even if the matches between the two haven't been bad at all. Sheamus counters the armbar attempt with the Schweinn. Sheamus calls for the pump kick but Berto ducks out of the way, shoves him SHOULDER FIRST into the turnbuckle, and hits the step up enzuigiri. SWEET! Cover gets, 1, 2, 2.7. Berto tries to rub Sheamus's face in it and then boots the arm again. Sheamus tries no selling for the pump kick but Berto ducks under and FLYING ARMBAR! Sheamus counters and stacks him up for the Texas Cloverleaf. Del Rio being no chump on the mat punches his way free. Sheamus runs at Del Rio but gets tangled up in the ropes with a hangman's spot on the arm. That's kinda cool. ADR now just boots the hell out of the way several times. JBL: “HE'S A WORLD CHAMPION! YOU GOTTA ATTACK HIM!” Sheamus tries no selling so ADR says FUCK YOU and hits an armbreaker and FLYING ARMBAR, LOS COMPADRES! Sheamus stacks him up and hits a Rampage Powerbomb. Sheamus fires up for the pump kick but ADR ducks under again and cradles Sheamus BACK into the armbar! TAP, TAP, TAP! Sheamus struggles but gets the ropes with his feet. ADR spazzes out and goes for another enzuigiri. Sheamus avoids. Pump Kick. Cover gets 1, 2, 3 to retain at 14:26.
• Very good match, even better than their encounter at SS that I was a fan of. Sheamus sold more here and even kept his shoulders to the mat for a few two counts(!). He also let himself be Del Rio's bitch for various chunks of the match, cluelessly going for the pump kick because he has like 5 moves and when he can't hit one, there's no plan B, there's only plan A which is to keep trying it. I like Del Rio a lot but he's missing something – he needs a high-impact power move to get him some false finishes or even some victories from time to time, because not many upper level faces are going to tap out clean. Give him a piledriver or a brainbuster and be done with it. Work it into his arm psychology through “nerve damage” or something. ADR was right there about two years ago but then they had him win the RR without really wanting to push him, had him LOSE at WM, and then shoehorned him into the Punk-Cena feud to get some FU heat. He went from white hot to lukewarm to getting Miz-zed by not keeping his promos up and getting shoved into main event feuds without his heat justifying them. Here's hoping they figure it out with him. ***3/4
• WWE Championship: John Cena vs. CM Punk (c). Punk squawked for weeks about respect, so Bret Hart and his imaginary leadership responsibilities helped Cena get this match because otherwise, Punk's entire reign would be irrelevant. The video package focuses entirely on that one promo between Punk, Cena, and Bret on the go-home show. It WAS a great promo, but it just shows how lackluster, nay NONEXISTANT, the build was otherwise.
• Heyman out first to tell us that even though he's from NYC, he's a Bostonian tonight because he wants to witness history. He's here to pay homage and sacrifice virgins at the altar of CM Punk, a Paul Heyman guy. Awesomely, Punk poses with the belt above his head for about 3 minutes while Cole and JBL run down the lineage and the historic nature of Punk's run. Punk should steal the old Corino gambit from ROH and have Heyman read off his career accomplishments and all of his nicknames, including fake ones, before every match or segment. For some reason, I'm getting MAJOR Rick Rude vibes off Punk, way more than Austin.
• HERE WE GO! BIG FIGHT ATMOSPHERE! They go through a token ground exchange just to feel out and we're still square. The dueling chants drown out their feeling out so they stop to soak them in. Punk gets sent off, but he avoids the shoulderblocks and claims to have outsmarted Cena. Cena grabs a headlock and hits a suplex and quickly grounds Punk with a waistlock. Punk elbows his way free and now takes down Cena with a headlock takeover. More dueling chants. Cena throws off Punk and this time hits a backdrop. Punk backs into the corner but Cena's overzealousness costs him as he whiffs on a charge and eats turnbuckle. Punk follows up with a dropkick and covers for 2. Punk with a few elbows right to the back of the head and sends Cena hard into the turnbuckle. Punk climbs the corner and poses for the crowd but they HATE him. Cena tries to stand up for Boston pride but eats a DDT. Cover gets 1, 2, only 2. Punk with more elbows to the face for another 2 count. Punk covers up with a chinlock as Cole tries to claim through sophistry that because Cena is both loved and hated by big chunks of people, therefore he's the biggest star they've ever had. LAUGHABLE. If you add up either just the Hogan fans or just the Austin fans, they're larger than the entire audience today. Cena will have to settle for... 10th biggest star in the company's history behind Hogan, Austin, Rock, Bruno, Andre, Macho, Piper, Undertaker, and Warrior, give or take a few.
• ANYWAY, Cena runs into a drop toe hold from Punk and then falls prey to the MUTA LOCK! That's also too old for Cole as he calls it a “unique bridge.” Cena fights his way free but then hobbles a bit on his legitimately injured ankle after rolling it early in the match. Punk follows up with a suicide dive to the floor and takes his time following up. Punk blows a kiss to the fans and Cena comes back with a fugly baseball slide and then shitcans Punk into the crowd. Cena fisherman busts Punk on the floor. Back in, he wants the FU but Punk takes him down with a standing enzuigiri. Punk locks in a Camel Clutch but Cena no sells and stands up out of it. Punk stays on the elbows to the back of the head and now to the front of the head. Awesome. Those are some stiff looking shots. Punk hits a few jabs and then ghosts Cena on a haymaker. He still covers for 1, 2, 2 ½. Punk hits a HAMMER OF RESPECT off the top. He wants the G2S but Cena slides out and goes to the shoulderblocks. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-URNS say the Boston faithful. Cena goes for the Protobomb but Punk floats over and hits a few clotheslines. Cena counters and takes down Punk with a SWEET LARIATO WITH A LITTLE EXTRA PEPPER!
• Cover gets 1, 2, only 2. He cues up the 5KS and goes for it but Punk gets the boot up. Punk hits a neckbreaker and covers for another nearfall. Punk goes for his springboard elbow but Cena catches him and rolls through and hoists Punk up for the FU. Punk slides out to the apron and falls to the floor to avoid. Cena tells Punk to suck it and then follows out with a suicide dive. Back in, Protobomb and Cena now hits the 5KS. NO! Punk counters and rolls Cena into the ANACONDA VICE! SWEET! Cena escapes out and puts Punk in the STF. Punk ducks under and hooks in the CRIPPLER CROSSFACE! Cena of course resurrects the Passion of the Cena and no sells and slams Punk down. Cole: “Punk tried two submissions and neither one would keep Cena down.” JBL: “And neither were countered. It's the pure strength of John Cena.” They slug it out as the crowd chants for Punk. Cena runs into a leg lariat and the step up knee in the corner. Short-arm clothesline and Punk heads up for the Macho elbow. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.7. Punk says it's time to Go To Sleep. He gets Cena up and goes for it but Cena catches the leg and rolls through to the STF. Slick. Punk grabs the ropes to a mixed reaction. Punk IMMEDIATELY hits the GTS! Cover gets 1, 2, 2.9999! Cole: “CENA! CENA! CENA!” JBL: “NO! WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU THROW YOUR BEST SHOT AT SOMEONE AND YOU DON'T BEAT THEM?!” Punk rather than complain hits a few DR FG kicks. Punk now hits the PEPPER LARIATO! Cover gets another 2 count. Punk now just smacks the taste out of Cena's mouth.
• That riles up Cena enough to hits another Protobomb, 5KS, and FU in seamless sequence. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.999999999. Now, THAT'S a false finish. Not just a finisher, but Punk took Cena's entire moves of doom sequence and kicked out. RESPECT! Punk rolls out to the floor to regroup and sell. JBL: “Both of these men have won championships with less then they've put each other through today.” Cena drags Punk back in and goes for the top rope leg drop. Punk avoids and enzuigiris Cena down. Punk covers for 1, 2, 2.999 again. Punk hits a martial arts combo and a Million Dollar knee lift for another 2 count. Punk heads up top for a moonsault but Cena moves out of the way and even Cole calls it “awkward.” Cena goes for an FU but Punk counters to the G2S! 1, 2, 2.99999999! Punk hits a ROCK BOTTOM! THE DEPTHS OF PUNK! ONE, TWO, THREE—OHNOHEALMOSTGOT'IM! FU! KICKOUT! Cena lifts Punk up to the top rope and swarms him with a SUPER GERMAN SUPLEX! Cover gets 1, 2, 3 to crown a new champ at 26:58. John Cena did it! It's the greatest show of tenacity JBL has ever seen. Cena celebrates with the troops. BUT WAIT! IT'S A DOUBLE PIN! A DRAW! TWO DUSTY FINISHES TWO MONTHS IN A ROW! Cena tries arguing with the ref that having your shoulders down isn't really a pinfall, so Punk scores one for the Marquess of Queensberry and lays out Cena with the belt. RESPECT!
• What will get lost in the haze of Punk demanding respect and Cena and Vince and everyone else whining that he hasn't earned it is that Punk owned Cena for ¾ of the match. But because WWE only tells stories in highlight and vignette form and will only talk about the finish in promos, that will be forgotten in the kayfabe sands of time. A borderline great match with some great cutoffs and false finishes. The Rock Bottom kickout was particularly great. The match needed a more decisive ending to really put it over the top and some selling from Cena, but he did lay down for the majority of the match so credit to him as well. Props to Cena for finishing a half-hour match with a bad wheel. ****
The 411: How is it every single WWE outside of Mania and this year's Extreme Rules end with that same feeling of ehhhhhhhhhhhh? The wrestling isn't bad, the booking isn't atrocious, but after it's over, I can't help but feel like nothing's changed and it was a 3 hr wrestling treadmill. Marginal thumbs up just based on solid in-ring product.