7:29: The Rhodes Scholars have reunited for their fourth match, a relative limited engagement since their split happened all the way 2 weeks ago. In WWE, they’re nostalgic for concepts like “the immediate past.” Must be why they have so many replay packages during Raw. THE FUTURE IS SCARY AND MUST BE NAVIGATED CLINGING TO RAILINGS.
7:36: Tonight’s theme, “Crazy Ones” by Stellar Revival, sounds like Tantric. Actually, that’s horrible. Apologies to Tantric.
7:38: Wait, Kaitlyn and Tamina is a match tonight? I don’t recall Mean Gene making it official on Event Center this weekend. Then again, I only watched half of Challenge.
7:45: Missed most of the match because the YouTube channel didn’t update. Anyway, Rhodes jobs to a double splash. Then Tensai gets funky. Hold for applause.
7:51: That Renee Young, she reads cue cards good. Might have a future, but looks-wise, she’s no Rue DaBona or Rebecca DePietro.
7:56: Random fact before we begin: Last time Rock successfully defended WWE Title on PPV: Unforgiven 2000, over Benoit, Kane, and Undertaker. And you thought this whole column was just going be 3 and a half hours of Pepsi-fueled snark.
8:05: Opening Match Championship kicks things off, as is custom, with Big Show and Del Rio. This is an odd occurrence where the gimmick match (Last Man Standing at the Rumble) precedes the normal singles match. That means we’re moving backwards from the ending of the angle which, when your angle involves dumping paint and stealing a bus’ tires, can’t be a good sign.
8:07: Cole says that Big Show deserved to his property stolen. This is the new “Sheamus is just borrowing Del Rio’s car”
8:12: I was out of the room for minute, so my JBL “POKE DA BEAR” scorecard may read differently than yours.
8:14: “World Title” is trending. Probably a few thousand tweets of, “Why the f–k is the World Title opening?!?!” And Lawler works in a tortilla joke against Del Rio, who’s the babyface. Lawler’s consistent, at least: he’s racist no matter who you are.
8:16: Hurrachanana by Del Rio out of a powerbomb. Thank God Show didn’t hit the move, otherwise JJ Dillon would have had him arrested. And then Del Rio follows with Mysterio’s Dime Drop, which means the days of Rey Rey being a full-time perfomer are as finished as Dwight Howard’s hoop dreams in LA.
8:20: Crowd’s buying the near falls, which is a good sign for the champ. And they cheer when he locks on the Cross Armbreaker. Show, however, gets the Backlund lift counter to escape. I’m convinced Paul Wight was replaced by an impostor from 1997-2008, and he’s not to blame for all bad matches incurred within.
8:22: Del Rio botches the big enzugiri finish, but makes up for it with the Cross Armbreaker and submission victory. Man, that messup (ADR slipped) was almost disastrous, but they recovered nicely. Good opener.
8:27: WWE cares about my nourishment, so they air a Rock movie trailer while I raid the fridge. And people dare say that WWE doesn’t care about the fans.
8:28: I return to see Antonio Cesaro, and I feel bad about the less-than-healthy food selection I’ve made. Hopefully he’s not so distracted by his disdain for me that he loses to Miz.
8:30: Quick thought: if Bryan beat Del Rio in 18 seconds at WrestleMania to win the title, would the fans be angry?
8:34: This may be the first Miz match that focused on a body part, and Miz is selling the arm better than I would’ve thought. Even Ricky Morton tips his mullet to him. Now if only this crowd would appreciate the story.
8:37: Miz now working the leg, and lands the Stump DDT for 2. Is Miz having to diversify his offense a penance for dropping Punk on his head? Cesaro prevents Miz from applying his crappy figure four…..and the bell rings?
8:39: Miz is DQed because Cesaro’s counter caused a near low-blow, and Cesaro sold it as such. The good news is we may get a secondary title match at WrestleMania. The bad news is…..I got nothing. No complaints about tonight so far!
8:41: Team Hell No shares one more hug out as we come to the Chamber already. Hierarchy for WWE PPVs: World Title < PPV gimmick match < WWE Title < Cena < Rock. Divas match is inserted during 10-minute “amazing match” coma.
8:45: Odds of winning the Chamber: 6 to 1. Odds of winning if R-Truth is a participant: 5 to 1 (unless you’re R-Truth)
8:46: RIP Fake Zack de la Rocha music. Jack Swagger is out first!
8:48: Zeb Coulter SHOOTS on the Louisiana Purchase! But if we didn’t have Louisiana, we might not have had Jim Mora’s “Diddly Poo” speech! I do enjoy Zeb’s bitter speeches though. “This is the Elimination Chamber! This isn’t ‘Nam, there are rules!”
8:53: Swagger, Henry, Kane, and Orton are in the pods, which means Bryan and Jericho start. “OF COURSE THEY MAKE THE WORKERS GO FIRST!!!!” – people still bitter that Rock won at the Rumble.
8:56: Well, five free minutes of Bryan and Jericho. Let’s not complain too much, k?
9:02: Swagger’s in third, and he immediately cleans house. Swagger and Bryan are fighting over who had the most futile World Heavyweight Title reign. Which reminds me, prior to Del Rio at WM27, you know when the last time was that somebody who was never previously World Champion competed for a World Title at Mania? Mysterio at WM22. This realization of repeat booking brought to you by Groundhog Day, in theaters 20 years ago.
9:06: Malfunction as the clock freezes, but screw it, here comes Kane. Bryan tries to roll him up, and uh, we’re seeing the equivalent of the Mega Powers exploding before our very eyes. Except Hogan and Savage never had to attend anger management. Imagine THAT.
9:11: Orton’s in to a chorus of boos. Woah. Did he give that Saints documentary audio tape to Goodell or something?
9:13: All five men are down following 2 superplexes. Which reminds me, I wish WWE would make a bigger deal out of Orton doing it, given that it was his papa’s move. Also, Orton needs the plaster cast. And a fringe rawhide vest. Just because.
9:14: Wig splitting time.
9:15: Bryan gets wig split. Exit D-Bry. Then Orton is thrown through the pod. Have I mentioned how effective Henry is in this role, and how sad I am that it took 15 years for WWE to realize his potential? He’s the Grandma Moses of wrestlers: he peaked late, but man, what a peak.
9:16: Kane gets his mask split. See ya, Isaac.
9:21: Wow, Henry goes down to the RKO to a mixed reaction. Maybe Orton will finally win one of these things? Or maybe they’re banking on Swagger-Del Rio to the boost the buyrate of Mania with a border war.
9:23: Not only did WWE acknowledge the positive reaction that Henry got, but the crowd cheered as he went back in killed everyone. Next step: turn him face and make him smile more, just to kill his appeal.
9:29: Orton pins Jericho with the RKO, and then Swagger rolls Orton up to win. WWE has seven weeks to juxtapose Be a Star with the “let’s get rid of the illegals” main event storyline. Challenge accepted!
9:33: Del Rio vs. Swagger for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania. That’s not even a EUROPEAN Title match! Maybe they could bring some cred to the match by adding D-Lo Brown to make it a triple threat.
9:35: Six man tag is next, and Cena draws first entrance. Nice to see him practicing for the main event of WrestleMania.
9:41: Cole seems awful proud that “Del Rio vs. Swagger” is trending. He’s probably not reading the actual tweets though. Probably best he doesn’t read them out loud either.
9:45: Shield’s got a fun dynamic: Rollins is the daredevil, Ambrose is delightfully spastic, and Reigns bulldozes foes. I’m fine with them not competing on free TV, because it adds to their mystique.
9:49: Cena’s playing an effective face in peril, and the crowd’s chanting for Ryback. Let’s see if they let em have the finish.
9:53: Ambrose invokes the “Trout Dance” from Sprockets before attempting to finish off Cena. Sadly, Cena escapes peril and tags Ryback. Dieter is forlorn.
9:54: Reigns speared Sheamus through the rail and what a shot it was. Nothing looked contrived about the camera setup. Are all Shield matches going to be this fun?
9:55: Cena AAs Ambrose, but Reigns spears Ryback (who had Rollins up for the Shell Shock) and….SHIELD WINS! Wow, what an action packed brawl that was! Other than Swagger winning, this has been the most top-to-bottom great show WWE’s had since Money in the Bank 2011. My snark is weakening by the minute.
9:57: Cena to the crowd: “For that record, that counts as me doing a job. I’m good for just 2 more this year.”
9:59: Ziggler and Co are here to bitch about not being booked (glass raise to D. Stamp). Booker cuts him off mid-stream, and sends out Kofi Kingston to job to him. Errr, face him. Sorry, getting ahead of the narrative. A bonus match in WCW was Jerry Flynn vs. Horace, so Ziggler/Kofi’s a step in the right direction.
10:02: Welcome back 1 1/2 flip landing on a monkey flip. Dolph’s going to need that stairlift installed in his home eventually.
10:05: Dolph adds to the playbook with a superplex-turned-chest drop on the buckle, and follows with the Zig Zag to win. Kofi needs 4 minutes to put someone over, and he makes use of each second. Hope there’s a reward in it for him.
10:08: Big E mauls Kofi afterward, landing his Big Ending, and the crowd chants “ONE MORE TIME”. Guys, Kofi’s not Hornswoggle; the ironic, ‘kill-the-forcefed-face’ chant isn’t necessary.
10:10: WWE App demo, followed by a glorified figures ad with Brodus and Tensai. Tensai’s got a good dry sense of humor at least.
10:12: Tamina’s hometown is “The Pacific Islands”, which is vague. If it’s Clipperton Island, then she’s the prettiest resident. It’s uninhabited otherwise. Anywho, her and Kaitlyn are next.
10:18: 2 Cold Tamina misses the Superfly Splash and Kaitlyn wins with a spear that lulls the crowd a bit. This division needs a Natalya heel turn, a Beth return, and an enema.
10:25: Punk/Rock time. No snark to add.
10:26: Punk forces Roberts to declare him “The People’s Champion”. JBL defending Punk to Lawler and Cole pretty much affirms why he should color commentate not just wrestling, but every aspect of one’s life.
10:30: The way Justin Roberts says “the” as in “The Rock” needs to be heard to be believed. He said it like “dehhhhh” with an akward pause afterward. I’ll say it: Macy Gray gargling menstrual fluid is a better ring announcer than Justin Roberts.
10:34: We’re now into the “Punk tries to goad Rock into getting DQed” portion of the match, but Rock isn’t near biting, because it’s not 10:50 yet. Gotta build to it.
10:38: Lawler rips ECW in response to JBL pointing out Heyman’s achievements. Because Memphis Wrestling in that TV studio was the height of quality entertainment, obviously.
10:40: Very chinlock heavy so far. JBL getting annoyed at Lawler and Cole’s lack of logic is literally all that’s keeping me interested. Didn’t expect that.
10:45: Punk Rock Bottoms Rock on the Spanish table, and to prevent a repeat of last month, they reinforced it to prevent it from collapsing. Sadly, the table doesn’t break at all. Middle ground, the crew can’t find it. Rock barely beats the count back in.
10:49: Ref bump, and Punk hits the GTS. Crowd is counting along with Punk in an unintentionally hilarious moment. It’s moments like this that drive Vince insane. His hair approaches Shane levels without Just For Men.
10:50: Punk kicks out of the People’s Elbow when a second ref counts. Crowd was living and dying on that one.
10:51: Punk takes the second ref’s leg out, and tries to hit Rock with the title, only to nail Heyman. Second Rock Bottom finishes.
10:54: Good thing they had those Rock/Cena WrestleMania XXIX graphics ready to go for when Punk lost. We’ve got a Jericho-level conspiracy on our hands, I tells ya!
OVERALL: Nothing was terrible, and nothing illogical (except Swagger winning, but WWE does love their button-pushing, kneejerk reaction feuds, but so be it). The Chamber and 6 Man Tag matches were good, and the three men’s title matches ranked from decent to good.