October 04, 2011

Spare Change Newsletter, volume 2 issue 4

Greetings pro wrestling fans,
Another week without a working microphone, another week of writing 3 feet of blithering nonsense. Aaaaaaand GO!

After having so many Smackdown guys on Raw last Monday, Raw invaded Smackdown this past Friday. I counted 10 talents who are affiliated with the Raw brand on the show. A dissolution of the brand split for the WWE could mean a lot of things, and a lot of changes. I’ve heard it opined that the mid and lower card guys would suffer for it if Cena and Orton took over both shows, but in the past few weeks those two have been used minimally, while the mid card guys are getting twice as much TV time. I don’t have any opinion as to whether it would be better or worse if there was a formal brand unification. I just plan on sitting back and dumbly enjoying whatever they put in front of me, like the mark that I am.

There weren’t really any wrestling highlights from Smackdown this week, just a few notable plot updates. Muy Cara showed off a new black mask to match his black black heart, and revealed his motivation for stealing Sin Cara’s identity, which I’d actually talked about on this site before. Ziggler returned the favor to Jack Swagger by helping him win his match, as Swagger had done for Ziggler on Raw. My personal favorite moment, though, was when Mark Henry continued raging down the path of destruction by hitting Great Khali with the Disney World Splash (so titled because when you get hit with it, you have to go on vacation). The lack of standout wrestling matches on the show was made up for by the PPV, and also by a few highlights from other programs this week, namely NXT, FCW, ROH, and Impact.

The NXT highlight was a Tyson Kidd match, in which he beat newcomer Percy Watson. Watson, thanks to his charisma and athleticism, has been really fun to watch in the past few weeks, and it was interesting to see him in the ring with the technically radical Tyson Kidd. Percy kept up pretty darn well, and Kidd was nice enough not to beat the snot out of him, as he’d done to Ted DiBiase on Superstars last week.

The FCW rivalry between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose came to a great finale recently in a 30 minute iron man match which ended up being extended to about 40 minutes. It was terrific and, as I’ve said before, I’m really looking forward to these guys being brought up to the WWE.

ROH this week featured (among other things) a very good match between Jay Lethal and El Generico. It was a title match for the Television Championship, and the title changed hands in Lethal’s favor. El Generico seemed to be the house favorite, but Jay Lethal still got a lot of cheers when he pulled off the win.

The highlight of Impact was a Madison Rayne match which she made awesome and hilarious by continuously flirting with Earl Hebner. She kept pawing at his chest and smiling at him in between vicious blows to her old rival Tara. Earl had to turn away from the camera a few times because he’d start smiling. The Queen B got the win (via feet on the rope), thereby qualifying her for the next round of the Knockout’s title tournament, and (more importantly) ensuring that she’ll be on Impact again soon.

Hell in a Cell

“proverbial pugilistic purgatory” –Jim Ross

This week’s Pay Per View started off with a video package of an anthropomorphized cage relating (in voiceover) how it’s looking forward to the carnage that would surely take place during the evening. In a corny English/middle ages accent usually reserved for parodies of fantasy movies. And bad fantasy movies. Shortly thereafter, R-Truth and the Miz are escorted away from their ring-side seats, prompting the viewer to believe that they won’t be around to interfere with any of the matches, because that would be impossible.

It might have been my lack of enthusiasm, but not much stood out in the first few matches. Sheamus over Christian was good but predictable and had no build-up, and even the War of Caras left a lot to be desired. What made the PPV worthwhile to this point was the commentary, which was stellar throughout the program. Jerryatric was replaced by JR, and the announce table hadn’t been so entertaining within memory. They were all putting the wrestlers over in their own ways, even Cole, who displayed very few traces of his former persona. The three guys were in rare form, setting a tone of lighthearted fun for the first half of the PPV, and appropriate gravity for the second.

There were two bonus matches to round out the show. In the first, Air Boom successfully defended the tag titles against Vickie’s Boys. This was a really good, well paced match with some fun spots, and featured some great teamwork by both teams. The second bonus match didn’t disappoint either, when Cody Rhodes was forced by Johnny L. to compete in his street clothes against John Morrison, newly retro-fied title on the line and all. This match could have gone further than it did, but it was cool all the same.

The coolest moment though, easily the highlight of this PPV and of this week in the world of wrestling, was when Mark Henry kicked out of an RKO at the 2 ½ mark (most guys who kick out of the RKO do it closer to the 3 count) and then pins Randy after delivering just one World’s Strongest Slam. I couldn’t believe it, it seemed too good to be true. After that piece of magic happened, Henry went outside and brought in a chair, and set Orton up for the Disney World Splash. Now, at that moment my face probably looked like this guy's, and if Henry had hit it, I might’ve turned the corner on the whole God thing too, but as it happened Orton was able to wake up in time to salvage a shred of dignity by herding Henry up the ramp with the chair. That sentence was long. Henry continued looking bad ass as Hell on Raw when he kicked out of Starship Pain at the 2 count, turned around and won the match against JoMo with his own finisher. Speaking of Raw, his promo last night was incredible. Make no bones about it, this guy Mark Henry is going places.

Not going places based on HiaC and last night’s Raw? Beth Phoenix. This is mostly due to unfortunate booking, but her turn on the mic during the final segment of Raw was terrible. That whole segment was off though, but I need to talk about that later because there’s still the main event of HiaC to cover.

The main event of HiaC was no classic. To make a fair analysis of it, I’d need to rewatch it, because I was eager to know who would win, too eager for it to be over with to really enjoy it. But I’m not going to rewatch it, because I’ve felt that way during matches before, and if the match is any good, it will suck me in and I’ll end up appreciating it all the more. This one came off somewhat flat. Cena and Punk have been nothing but butt buddies for the past month and a half, Del Rio hasn’t had any interaction with Punk, and the rivalry between Del Rio and Cena hasn’t exactly been heated. The chemistry wasn’t as awkward as you might think, but with the odd number of guys, it’s almost always a little awkward. Del Rio took the match by locking Cena outside of the cage and whacking Punk in the mask area (‘head’ in BookerTbonics) with a metal pipe. You have a valid point in being discouraged enough with Del Rio’s first title run that you aren’t too excited about a second one, but they wouldn’t do that again, would they? Would they? At any rate, he might have gotten a cheap victory, but it was within the rules of the match, so at the end of the day beating CM Punk and John Cena in a Hell in a Cell match is a friggin huge feather in his cap. Here’s to hoping he gets booked as a strong competitor from here on out.

Adding nothing to the value of the PPV was the finale, which featured the Awesome Truth kicking everyone’s ass and getting arrested. The only good part about this was their YouTube apology, but not because of the angle, which is dumb as nuts. I like it because they’re so cute together- the way they finish each other’s sentences and look at each other while they talk. Not cute in a gay way, more of a puppy dog way.


This segways into the final segment of Raw, when the roster and crew of the show expressed the same dissatisfaction that Miz and RTruth had discussed so earnestly in their adorable YouTube video. Wade Barrett, Christian, and Beth Phoenix all gave wimpy speeches outlining their sissy concerns, and they were all pwned by the referee who gave the only compelling speech of the painfully drawn out segment. I mean really, what was the point of JR sitting there for so long, only to walk out last? And were Punk, Cena and Sheamus too cool for school? If their status as good guys wasn’t blemished by not walking out on HHH, it was blemished by their not going out to stick up for him, if that’s how they feel. Neutrality is LAME (says the non-voter)! As the episode ended, Alice looked at me as asked what I thought. I just shrugged and said, “That’s pro wrestling.” Not the hottest angle they’ve ever done, but things are moving forward so we’ll see where they go.

This wasn’t the only thing about the show that seemed off to me, though. Alberto Del Rio, John Cena, and CM Punk fought in a Hell in a Cell match on Sunday. Then they got beat down unmercifully by Miz and Truth. On Monday they’re competing in an exhibition match without a scratch. What’s up with that?

But let’s end this positively. Sporting a trimmed down eyebrow region, Santino returned last night to talk jibber jabber with Jinder, which was a welcome reprieve from all the heavy drama. Also, Brodus Clay got a video package during Raw, which was probably my favorite non-Mark-Henry part of the entire episode, me being a Brodus Clay mark and all. We call ourselves SheeMarks. I’m also a Marky Mark, which means I’m a big Mark Henry fan. Being a supporter of Tyson Kidd makes me a Tyke, and of course we’re all members of the American Dragon Daniel Bryan Fan Club, which has no abbreviation, but would probably benefit from some kind of quick and easy catch phrase, just as with the man himself.

WOAH, are those nuns? How'd that get in there?

Quarter Marshall out.

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