Tag Archives: Shawn Michaels

Hometown Hero: Raw Regurgitated … LIVE!, 12/09

 

I bought my tickets back on October 9th.  Daniel Bryan had just failed to capture the WWE title at Battleground, but I knew he’d have another shot at the upcoming Hell in a Cell PPV.  By the time Raw rolled up to Seattle on December 9th, I was confident we’d get a championship celebration for our home state wrestling god.  After all the screwjobs and false starts, surely we’d get to greet Aberdeen’s favorite son with championship gold around his waist?  Right?  Riiiiight?

Oh.

Well, since that happened, last night didn’t go down exactly like I envisioned.  What happened might have been even better.

I’m not going to sit here and claim that Seattle just willed Daniel Bryan back into the title picture.  WWE can go ahead and ignore all of this, pass it off as hometown cooking, and keep Bryan fighting the Wyatts until they need him somewhere else on the card.  They’ve done it before, they can do it again.

But if anything, just for one raucous evening, I got to be a part of something truly organic and special.  My ears are still ringing.  I’ve been to Seahawks home games, seen Metallica live in San Francisco at the Fillmore.  This absolutely destroyed any other live event I’ve ever been to.  It was another classic moment in the journey of Daniel Bryan, and I got to be a tiny part of it.

And that’s really the point right?  We can talk about bad booking, and burying and pushes and all that jazz.  We want it all to make sense and look great in a promo package and tie up nice and neatly.  Rarely does that happen  But if we get moments like this, where Daniel Bryan is the best in the world and we let him know as loud as we can go, it sure makes up for it.  If after months and months of wheel spinning, a 90 second all out brawl thrusts Bryan and CM Punk right back into an angle they never should’ve been left out of in the first place, and suddenly creative look like geniuses.  And when John Cena cuts a killer promo, destroying Randy Orton and making everyone else look great, well that completes a trifecta and everybody wins.  I don’t know how it played on television, but it was bliss in the arena.  I’m still a bit woozy.

Woozy, but not delusional.  I’m not confident that WWE can pull this off, or even that they want to.  We’ve been teased and kicked in the dick so many times.  But part of me wants to believe that this is all a wonderful grand plan, that they knew the Seattle crowd would give Bryan the ovation he needed to restart his Authority angle and planned it accordingly.  Daniel Bryan’s hero’s journey to the WWE Championship relaunches, and everyone is happy.

And the entire point of doing the hero’s journey is, well, the journey itself.  Making the man a legend.  I argued that it was the right call to keep Bryan away from the belt because it didn’t add up who he’d feud with.  He still needs a bit more seasoning before he can sell a title feud all by himself yet.  The journey wasn’t over.  The training, the stumbles, the discovery, all the bits and pieces that add up before the victory and resolution.  More to go.

I haven’t been super happy with how things have gone, despite agreeing that Bryan shouldn’t be champ.  The feud with the Wyatts has been great, but it doesn’t make any sense that after chasing the WWE title for months, suddenly Bryan wouldn’t mention a thing about it and just move on.  Cena acknowledging that he should be fighting Bryan instead, and Shawn Michaels getting a running knee both went a long way in erasing months of storyline frustration.  Maybe we’ll make to WrestleMania XXX and finish the journey after all.

And maybe we had a bit more road to travel because once it ends, it ends for good.  Once he’s the man, we don’t get to cheer him like we did tonight anymore.  Sure, he’ll get cheered, but it won’t be, “Daniel Bryan is a guy we love because wrestling is awesome and he’s awesome and why don’t you get it?!?”

Cheers like that come from a special place, a potent mixture of love, anger, spite, and, well, hope.  I have no idea if they’ll ever pull the trigger and acknowledge Bryan is the best wrestler in the WWE.  But while we wait, maybe forever in vain, there’s no harm in telling them what we already know – as loud as we can.  In this world of the scripted spectacle, that’s the realest thing we got.

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#4HorsemenWeek: Tully Blanchard – The High Chief of the Mid-Card

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It’s Still #4HorsemenWeek. And we’re taking some time to celebrate Tully Blanchard, The High Chief of the Mid-Card.

Until very recently in wrestling history, there was a whole class of wrestlers who had spectacular careers, made great money and matches, while stimulated those feelings of love or hatred that make wrestling work. They were happy there, and they didn’t really want to wrestle tippy top stars regularly if they weren’t positioned to go over.

But now, everyone wants their favorite wrestler to be a main eventer.

Most fans — in particular, the “smart” ones —  don’t feel like they can fully appreciate Dolph Ziggler or Bray Wyatt or The Shield if they’re not positioned in the top angles with World Champions. Much of this consternation is rooted in the thoroughly incorrect belief that wrestling (or life in general) is somehow a meritocracy. A place where the best and most-deserving get the first lick at the cream, and not the biggest and the best looking.

The parts of this misguided notion that don’t come from the cognitive dissonance that one’s personal opinion isn’t always shared with the paying majority comes from a twisted understanding of the importance of belts in the modern era. Nostalgia for a time when the midcard system worked simply because there were so many titles that were over in whatever podunk region the various promotions ran shows in.

Wrestlers understood their individual brand — their only tool to make money in a pre-guaranteed contract era — was far more likely to be enhanced by being perceived as the holder or number one contender to the United States or Intercontinental Title than a “main event” wrestler outside of the title picture. If you had a title, you were guaranteed bookings. It didn’t matter if it was the Southern States Title or the Six-Man Tag Title, or the Brass Knuckles Title; having your hands on a strap meant you were going to get dates and have at least one very good payday when you dropped the belt.

The Four Horsemen’s own Tully Blanchard was in many ways the avatar of this approach. Blanchard held many titles, although never the World Title, and was involved in some of the most memorable feuds of the mid-to-late 80s. Tully could cut promos that sounded like the ones from main event wrestlers, have matches on their level, and because of this, got as much heat from the crowd as anyone at the top of the card. However, he was firmly planted in the middle where he could make the most hay.

Blanchard had basically the same skill set as Flair: he cut the cocky heel promo, bumped big, and even strutted. There was no place in the main event for a shorter, slightly less charismatic Ric Flair, but there was tons of money to be made in the midcard. Wrestlers like Magnum TA and Nikita Koloff could work with Tully and have a great match where they looked strong and could leave fans thinking, “If he beat up Tully like that, what would he do to Flair?” Understanding what a powerful promotional tool this was, Flair, booker Dusty Rhodes, and the Crocketts positioned Tully right next to Flair in The Four Horsemen.

So, given how successful Blanchard was with a single run in the main event, why do so many fans “in the know” want all their favorite stars to be main eventers?

For one, “smart” fans are still stinking marks — just like we are, and just like the fans of previous eras were — even if they don’t seem to realize it. Most hardcore wrestling fans reading dirt sheets filled with “insider” knowledge use the backstage drama in professional wrestling to take the place of actual angles. There’s a very specific portion of the audience who think investing in “the man” Bryan Danielson rather than “the character” Daniel Bryan makes them a student of the game and not a mark, a more misguided thought than the dream of wrestling is a meritocracy.

Even when Daniel Bryan is in a World Title feud with John Cena, fans discuss his chances of becoming “the face of WWE” (a marketing term) rather than “beating Cena and becoming the Champion” (a sports-oriented term). Which, was exactly what the WWE wanted to have happen to people who only love one thing more than Shawn Michaels and HHH making insider jokes about what happened when they went hunting the week before: complaining about Shawn Michaels and HHH making insider jokes.

And since the politics of cracking into the main event (especially in a post-nWo, post-Triple H world) have been so aired out on shoot tapes, insider interviews, and wrestling blogs, internet-era fans have come to see the entire midcard as “less than.” The problem is that this is significantly getting in the way of their enjoyment of the product and their appreciation of great midcard performances.

Whether or not it will come, there should be a day when we stop asking “When is Kofi Kingston going to be pushed into the main event?” and start appreciating him as a fantastic midcard performer who you can just sit back and enjoy. He, like Tully Blanchard before him, has won titles, made money and given you no reason to feel sorry for him.

#TheNationWeek: Watch and Learn – Jimmy Uso, The Rock and Shawn Michaels

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It’s #TheNationWeek at Juice Make Sugar, and we’ve decided to take a look at some young performers that reminds us of members of the stable that have come and gone before them, each of these guys has something to learn, and room to grow. For The Rock, Jimmy Uso will one day be looking to transition into super stardom the same  way The Great One did.  Thankfully, we’re here to help them same way we would any other athlete: give him tape He Should Watch. And loving our readers like we do, we have some tape You Should Watch of the work that reminds us of his because what’s more fun than old wrestling videos? 

He Should Watch

Most tag teams are, almost by necessity, not usually long for the world of professional wrestling. After the team reaches a certain level of popularity, one of three things can happen. There’s what happened to The Rockers, where one performer (who, Spoiler Alert, we’ll get to later) is essentially groomed for superstardom while his partner — no matter how talented they are — can never quite get out of the gate for one reason or another, and becomes known forever as the “Andrew Ridgeley/Marty Jannetty” for whichever tandem they were a part of.

There is then, of course, the Road Warriors, who manage to stay together for decades as top stars, requiring only a near constant shuffling between various promotions so that their storylines and styles never grow stale. With the death of the territories, and the idea that job security and stability is more important than being in a tag team for your entire career, this one has essentially died out.

Finally, there are Brother Splits. More often than not, Brother Splits occur between two biological brothers, and they can always be considered blood feuds.

Which brings us to Jimmy Uso, and oddly enough, The Rock.

Yes, even with all the talk about tag teams, the man Jimmy needs to learn the most from when it comes to transition past his tag team roots is his honorary cousin, and former Nation of Domination leader and eventual Corporate Champion, The Rock.

Rocky Maivia was vastly different from the persona with which Johnson would become famous, Rocky Maivia and The Rock are at least nominally the same person because the latter seems like an extension of who the performer was as a person.

Jimmy “Jonathan Fatu” Uso, who, based on the little bit of personality he’s been able to display during matches and the work he’s done in front of the camera on the highly successful Total Divas seems to have precisely the personality type to simply play a “bigger” version of himself.

That’s all the Rock was ever doing, and something that Jimmy needs to do. Especially because the dissolution of the Usos will fall into the Brothers Split category of team break-ups. And when that happens, Jimmy is going to need to not just stand out separate from his brother, but as a fully formed man by himself.

Watching Rocky make the transition to The Rock didn’t just felt like it make sense, the character itself made sense, and came from a real place of frustration. While the circumstances will undoubtedly be different for the two when the time comes to split from the personality he has now, he’d be well served to learn from the most famous performer in the history of professional wrestling on how to build a character the crowd can connect with.

You Should Watch

When done right, close teammates break away from each other in such a way that it creates a sustainable push for those involved, serving as a renewable resource for crowd interest by giving the performer or performers actual heat/fan interest instead of trying to manufacture it, affording the performers the chance to change the way that the crowds view them without their essence being lost. The difference between Brother Splits and the Miz-Morrison/Rockers breakups goes beyond the relationship between the workers to the relationships that relationship has with the fans.

While the Rockers were fun loving guys, and the Miz and Morrison happened to be total douche nozzles who were also fairly over as a tag team, the crowd didn’t have a serious emotional connection with them, or more accurately, they didn’t care about their relationships with one another in the way that they did with The Hardyz or a pairing like Beer Money Inc. did. Yes, people wanted Marty get revenge on Shawn, but that’s because they didn’t like Shawn, not because they particularly cared about Marty.

That’s because while Shawn may make more sense as a mentor for transition out of a tag team onto a new path, Dwayne is most definitely the expert of transition out of something into yourself. “Rocker Shawn” Michaels and the Heartbreak Kid were a man transition from where character to another.

Rocker Shawn doesn’t feel as much of younger version of someone as a facade for an entirely different person. And The HBK was, significantly more so than the The Rock, Michael Hickenbottom trying on a new character as opposed to, for instance, the closet of designer shirts that had found its way into the Nation of Domination’s locker room.

While most people remember that the Rock was at one point a happy-go-lucky goofball with an AWFUL haircut, the Rocker Shawn character is so far removed from our idea of what Shawn Michaels is that it’s unlikely that Jimmy Usos could ever separate himself that far from his past.

WATCH, SKIM OR SKIP: SPOILER ALERT WITH “ANGRY” ANDY, 10/28-11/1

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There’s a lot of wrestling on TV every week, but only some of it is actually worth watching.  That’s where I come in: every week, I’ll break down the spoilers of all of WWE’s pre-taped shows to let you know what you should watch, and which segments and full shows you should skim or skip.  This week, there’s a lot to love… if you really love Ryback and/or using your remote to fast forward

MAIN EVENT

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(spoilers via PWInsider.com)

Main Event continues to be my favorite hour of “main roster” wrestling WWE produces, but I think this week’s show looks less than promising.  Let’s get right to it.

Ryback d Kofi Kingston

Ryback wins a match he really couldn’t afford to lose, against a guy who once showed a lot of promise, and is now forever stuck as a midcard babyface.  Oh, it’s also the guy he once destroyed so badly he had to have surgery a day before the attack.  And it’s the same guy who NEVER SOUGHT REVENGE.  I’m sure NONE of that is mentioned on commentary.  Anyway, Ryback hits all his spots, and at one point, uses a Jackhammer on our favorite former Jamaican.  This serves as nothing but a C-show squash, slowly building to Ryback vs Goldberg.

Santino d Heath Slater

The Cobra continues to single-handedly squash 3MB.  See what I did there?  It’s probably as good as this match.  At least these guys are entertaining.

Los Matadores d “Los Locales”

Los Matadores have already been cast aside in their ready-made feud with the All Americans.  Swagger and Cesaro are after the tag belts, and Los Matadores are squashing a tired gimmick on Ion Television.  Speaking of the tired gimmick, is there really no better way to utilize the talents of Ricardo Rodriguez and Tyson Kidd?  If you have nothing better for these guys than a mid-90s job-gimmick, wish them well in their future endeavors and let them try their luck elsewhere.  This match will be solid while it lasts, but a complete waste of time.

Fandango d Great Khali

Fandango could be gold.  He has a gimmick, is at-least decent in the ring, and is paired up with a woman who is both gorgeous and talented.  Pairing him up with NXT’s Tyler Breeze would be perfect.  Asking him to carry the Punjabi Playboy? Not so much.

SKIP this show… unless you really love Ryback.

SMACKDOWN

WWE-Smackdown

(spoilers via PWInsider.com)

Smackdown! continues its run as the blue version of Raw…

Michael Cole interviews HHH.

HHH says Big Show is “banned for life.”  Fans immediately expect a Big Show run-in.  Hopefully, this is kept short.

John Cena promo…

Is interrupted by the Real Americans, Damien Sandow, and the Rhodes Brothers.  Vickie Guerrero channels the spirit of Teddy Long and books a 6-man tag for later tonight.

The Shield promo…

They’re sick of the Usos.

The Usos d The Shield

Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins representing the Shield in this one.  4 talented guys.  Should be a good-to-great match, IF it’s given time.

The Wyatt Family d Prime Time Players

Bray Wyatt hits his finish after the match.  Most likely a filler match, to sell the Daniel Bryan/CM Punk attacks from Raw.  The five guys in this segment are all trying hard to establish themselves and move up.  Hopefully, it shows.

MizTV featuring Shawn Michaels

No Shawn Michaels.  Randy Orton comes out instead.  It ends with an RKO, so this may be the first MizTV that’s actually worth watching.

Natalya & The Bella Twins d Alicia Fox, Tamina & WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee

AJ taps to the Sharpshooter.  Depending who’s in the ring, this could be good, or it could be a nightmare.  The good news is it will probably be kept REALLY short.

John Cena, Cody Rhodes & Goldust d Damien Sandow & The Real Americans

Swagger eats an AA.  Sandow, Cesaro, and both Rhodes brothers main event – as they should.  If they look like they belong in their with Cena, then this match served its purpose.

SKIM this show.  The action sounds good and the matches logical, but lots of promos.  You can probably watch the whole show in 25 minutes, courtesy of your DVR.

Follow me on Twitter @AndyMillerJMS

Gods, Kings, and Monsters: Raw Regurgitated, 10/28

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***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE*** PLEASE KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE***John Cena I’m sure “dark social” exploded during this opening segment. Everyone’s mentioned the “Insert [THE CHAMP IS HERE] Here” promo John Cena did at the beginning of the show, what could have been poor poor Damien Sandow’s Bill Buckner moment, and the first legitimate Money in the Bank briefcase cash-in failure, but what I haven’t seen mentioned is that Cena — for better or worse — exists largely outside of what’s going on with the rest of the show. Like CM Punk (especially in Cena’s absence), Brock Lesnar or The Rock, he is a walking main event storyline, something you can put at the top of the marquee and almost instantly get people interested. His brand, in the same way — and if I’m committing wrestling blasphemy, bless me Father Vince, for I have sinned — Harley Race’s or Ric Flair’s did, get people into the arena. He is known for a few things: insane crowd reactions, selling merchandise, working hard every night and, for lack of a better term, drawing eyeballs — which is different than drawing butts in seats. CM Punk may not “draw” in a tradition sense — though I get the feeling metrics are saying he does — he is a star outside of wrestling. He’s famous famous. John Cena just made Damien Sandow wrestling famous, which is a start, and I think Thomas Holzerman at The Wrestling Blog put it best: “While the future may prove this failed cash-in as WWE business as usual, I can’t say that the decision was a bad thing in and of itself.”There is something good that can come out of this for both of them. Cena needed to get Sandow’s cash-in out of the way as quickly as possible. It’s important that he could go instantly to making the WHC back into a World Heavyweight Championship and not the definitive “Thing we put on our best guy we absolutely can’t give the top-of-the-card title” like so much 1980s IC Title. They need you to think it’s important so the build towards the triple threat match Unification match between WWE Champion Randy Orton, World Heavyweight Champion John Cena and Royal Rumble winner Daniel Bryan doesn’t seem so convoluted. ***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE*** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR FREE MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT***

***

Chances of Seth Rollins turning on Dean Ambrose or Ambrose turning on Rollins: 5 to 1. Chances of Ambrose turning on Roman Reigns: 2.5 to 1. Chances of Reigns turning on Ambrose: 1 to 2. Chances of Reigns’s version of “Superkick through Barber Shop window” being “Spear through Barber Shop window”: Off the Board.

There are times when it’s not okay for Ambrose or Roman and Reigns to interfere in their respective matches, but title matches against formidable opponents are not those times.

Brad Maddox has to book the match in front of people — the people in the arena need to know what’s going on — but why does he have to run to the ring? Can’t they just bring him up on the Titantron? That seems like it would be easier. If Big Show can show up in front of the backdrop from Abed’s comedy special at a moment’s notice, why don’t they have a backstage area set up to remotely communicate with the people in the ring when things start getting squirrelly in the ring? Even ignoring problems like “running in dress shoes and a 3-piece suit”, it seems like a lot of serious injuries could happen pretty quickly in an unsanctioned 6-man brawl.

***

If Roman can also pull off a Hollywood Reigns gimmick like the Rock or Batista, he would become my new favorite non-Randy Orton-as-serial-killer related version of a gimmick..

Shawn Michaels calling Daniel Bryan “a little puke” was a bit of magic from the 90s, when Southern guys like Cornette, Michaels and Bob Holly used to use the word puke to describe people in interviews.

The Sister Abigail that Bray Wyatt gave Bryan into the fence will be the first in a long line of SA’s that will rain down from the internet heavens in a wintry mix with Rollins sells of Cross Rhodes.

***

Are we supposed to assume that Los Matadores are saving their proper green outfits for WrestleMania?

***

What’s more irritating: that the best competition for AJ is someone fresh from development or that the commentators acts like that’s in any way a surprise?

Kane seemed like he was aware it was #KaneWeek, and as you’ll see why today in Essential Viewings: that guy ALWAYS does what’s Best for Business. Also, does this now make the Authority the The Authority X Ministry like a Street Fighter-Tekken game?

Thanks for ruining kayfabe by not doing the raised fist in the air thing like your “brother” The Undertaker after handing your mask to Stephanie, one of your real life bosses. You’re the worst, Glen.

***

CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Big E. Langston, the Usos and Mystery Partner vs. the Shield and the Wyatts should be a pretty good Survivor Series match.

Shameless plug of a potential upcoming column, feel free to divert your eyes: The WWE has finally done all of the things right to create a real working tag team division.  Credible champions –which they’ve mostly had with the Shield, Team Hell No and now Dem Rhodes boys —  can now have feuds with specific teams who they are trying to get someone or both over in (like Cesaro in The Real Americans), while another team or two can feud for the number one spot. What that means is really interesting, and I can’t wait to see where it’s going. (HERE)

Summer Rae is so much better than any  woman on the main roster that it’s hard to judge her relative to the people on NXT. You do get the feeling Paige is just as good — if not better — than Summer, but it’s hard to tell when Summer comes up to the WWE and immediately looks like Mike Vick that year me and my friends had to ban him in Madden.

***

It’s clear at this point that Big Show has some sort of force behind him right now, though only saying it through JBL screaming “How does he keep getting in the building?!” is probably the best course of action. Being them, though, they’ll tease Vince coming back next week in the commercials. You know, the ones where John Cena ends it by being menacing in an alley or a room or the characters wanted room at the USA Network, in slow motion?

The crowd really seems to love that the Big Show has NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE. It’s probably because they know that is basically code for “I’m going to punch someone and they are going to sell it like it was a cannonball to their face”.

Putting unfair expectations on storylines is bad, but it’s totally fair to say that if this doesn’t end with Mark Henry being The Authority’s answer to Big Show before he gets to Triple H, it’s fair to be at least a little disappointed for what could have been.

Bang for Your Buck PPV Review: Hell in a Cell

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Hell in a Cell took place in Miami, and we got what we were expecting from this. And I mean that in every possible way.

For those who missed Dave’s Bound for  Glory review, the criteria for these is simply: “Did I get my money’s worth?” in terms of the individual matches and the PPV as a whole, using the tried and true “what was this trying to do, and how well did it succeed” rubric.

Each match is rated plus or minus on a sliding scale between 1 and -1, with matches worth multiple rewatches worth 1, a just-quite-PPV quality match being 0,  and things that make me reevaluate being a fan earning up to a -1 score. The higher the number, the better Bang For Your Buck on the PPV. We’ll (eventually) keep a running tally for each PPV, and a handy list of PPVs we review to give you (and us) a better idea of what we thought was worth the time to check out in terms of matches and PPVs. As for the scale, it’s not particularly complicated but here are the basic levels (on a per-match average):

Review Guide

Like always, we’re going to be using what I said during the What’s the Worst That Could Happen preview to see how close I was to “predicting” what unfolded, and how it stacked up to my best hopes and worst fears. Enjoy!

Cody Rhodes & Goldust (c) vs.

Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins vs. The Usos

For the WWE Tag Team Championships

What Nick Wants to Happen: More than 10 minutes of wrestling, the Usos to not be completely buried and the Rhodes boys to start a feud with the Wyatt Family after narrowly, but cleanly, defeating the Shield.

Man, if them Rhodes Boys continue to put on performances like this, that “Goldust getting a run with the WHC before giving it to Cody” might have more traction than we think. The Usos continue to be the most underrated THING in wrestling, and may have been the stars of this match. These are three of the more exciting WWE tag teams in a long, long, long time and this was the best possible way to open what should have been a super hot show (Spoiler Alert: it was not.) This also featured maybe the best “babyface in peril” work in recent memory from Dustin, Roman Reigns showing why he is a future World’s Champion and, seriously if Cody Rhodes isn’t buying Seth Rollins a six-pack after every time he sells the Cross Rhodes P-E-R-F-E-C-T-L-Y, he’s a bad friend. I would pay to see matches like this until the day I die.

Match: 1.0

Summer Rae and Fandango vs.

Natalya and The Great Khali

Easily the most surprising match of the night, and not just because it was unannounced. Summer Rae continues to build on her EXCELLENT — genuine top of the card — work on NXT, and Fandango wrestling on/around Khali was as well done as anything this side of his SummerSlam match with Triple H. While this isn’t a match you’d show your friends to get them to want to watch more, being pleasantly surprised by a good match for a PPV you were tepid — at best– about is something really really nice that doesn’t happen often enough. Throw in some a few really nice spots between Summer and Nattie — including a really smooth bridge spot — along with Mrs. Tyson Kidd’s takedown of Fandango, and you have a match that far far exceeded expectations. And not just because there weren’t any.

Match: +.3 | PPV: 1.3

Big E. Langston vs. Dean Ambrose(c)

for the U.S. Title

This match happened as a result of “an injury to Curtis Axel”, though, considering that the match jumped from the Kickoff show  to the main show it seems like there was a logical reason behind the switch. You’d have to think that  logical reason was “we think that Dean Ambrose is better than Curtis Axel”.  And while they may not be totally right about that, this match did exactly what it was supposed to do: put Big E. Langston — who seems to be on his way to a biblical push — in the “Authority” storyline, allowing him to logically be in inevitable Survivor Series match. This match, while not anything to write home about — other than maybe that DISGUSTING cut on Big E.’s face/Dean’s chin — did exactly what it was supposed to do, and featured one truly fantastic spot: the spear through the ropes. All in all, a perfect spotlight for a guy with as bright a future as anyone in the business.

Match: +.3 | PPV: 1.6

CM Punk vs. Ryback & Paul Heyman

(Handicap Hell in a Cell Match)

What Nick Wants to Happen: This feud to end.

Even getting what I wanted didn’t really help me much with this match. The crowd was deplorable the entire night, and this was easily the worst match from that perspective. And while this may have been one of Ryback’s best performances — in terms of fluidity of movement, telling a story and safety (see: the gentle but effective atomic drop onto the edge of the table) — CM Punk continues to look like he’s going through the motions until he could finally move on from this feud. He showed by far the most enthusiasm at the end, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. While not a bad match, let’s just say this won’t be going on either man’s Essential Viewing.

Match: +.5 | PPV: 2.1

Los Matadores vs. The Real Americans

What Nick Wants to Happen: A match that doesn’t feel like filler, people actually start to get into Los Matadores and Zeb chases El Torito around the ring while they play Benny Hill music over the PA.

A mehburger with a nice tall glass of lukewarm indifference, the WWE continues to squander perhaps the best natural talent since Brock Lesnar in Antonio Cesaro. The magic of Los Matadores entrance has wained, mostly because fans don’t really seem interested in it, which is a bummer. At least they went over?

Match: +.0 PPV: 2.1

Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. John Cena

for the World Heavyweight Championship

What Will Happen: John Cena will win, Damien Sandow will cash in and lose.

Despite these two being probably my favorite performers in the company outside of Mark Henry (and maybe Sheamus), it’s clear that John was limited here, and while that  didn’t make the match unwatchable, it was not up to what these two are both capable of.  Which seems to be the theme of the night. But, even with that, this was a match John Cena fans will love (because he overcame the odds), Alberto del Rio fans (me) will enjoy because ADR looked way-better-than-good (which sometimes a problem in matches he loses) and sets up an actually interesting story for a title that needed  it.

Match: .65 | PPV: 2.75

AJ Lee (c) vs. Brie Bella

for the Divas Championship

Best Case Scenario: AJ Lee wins clean, ends this never-ending feud so that they can finally bring up the extremely talented girls from NXT.

Brie continues  to get better and better, and it’s really great to see that even Nikki has begun to understand the difference between “performing” — playing yourself up to eleven (see: the Bellas reactions during the “pipe bombshell”) — and “being a performer”  — using your own personality to inform how your character would react in specific situations (Brie’s reaction to accidentally hitting Nikki). That this also likely ends what has been a somewhat enjoyable if needlessly long feud, allowing AJ to feud with (hopefully) the girls from NXT and Brie to feud with Nikki actually makes this as good a match as you could expect from this combination. Which is to say, a mediocre one.

Match: .3 | PPV: 3.05

Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan

for the WWE Championship (Hell in a Cell Match)

Worst Case Scenario: An actual screwjob.

What Will Happen: An actual screwjob. (For the fans, at least.)

An excellent, enjoyable match between the two best workers in the company right now. This feud — which, for those that complain about continuity and hot-shotting has been going on since Act III of the Team Hell No saga — continues to deliver in the ring from the beginning of the match until SOMEWHERE NEAR the end. I — and this entirely a personal preference — very much enjoy the chase they are making Daniel Bryan go through, but I totally understand why other people don’t, and I can totally see why people thought this botchy-mcbotched ending was not anyone’s idea of a good time. HAVING SAID THAT, I will be watching tomorrow to find out about the fallout from this, thought the work before the WCW-execution on what would have been a really GREAT ending was unsurprisingly amazing, and at the very least, finally gave us a champion. This could have been their best match, even the ending had been better, and while because of that it ended up being the worst out of the three, it is definitely definitely worth watching (especially before the ending).

Match: .75

Depending on how you felt about the ending of the DB/RKO match, this was a decent PPV, with better matches than Battleground, just less of them. This is something that would be a GREAT non-premium PPV once the network comes out,  but for now, this is a less than great buy.

PPV: 3.8 | Match Avg: .475 (.48 if you’re nasty)

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?: Hell in a Cell

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It’s a PPV weekend! We’ll have all your Hell in a Cell needs covered here at Juice Make Sugar. First, we ask What’s the Worst That Could Happen? in Miami on tonight, then, we’ll give you our world famous Bang for Your Buck PPV review on tomorrow morning.

To make sure you don’t miss anything, follow us (or me) on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Now that we’ve gotten the shameless plugs out of the way, let’s figure out What’s the Worst That Could Happen in Buffalo tonight:

Big E. Lanston vs. Curtis Axel (c)

for the Intercontinental Championship

(Kickoff Match)

Best Case Scenario: Big E. Langston wins the IC belt, then trades it in Destination X-style for a shot at the WWE championship: new WWE Champion Big E. Langston.

Worst Case Scenario: Curtis Axel and Big E. Langston recreate Goldberg-Lesnar match from WM XX AND Axel retains.

What Nick Wants to Happen: Big E. Langston to look every bit the top-of-the-card star he should end up being, Curtis Axel continues to prove his worth by putting over Langston proper.

What Will Happen: Big E. Langston wins, or Ryback screws him over so that Curtis can continue to accumulate losses under the golden protection of the 4th most important title being defended on this show.

AJ Lee (c) vs. Brie Bella

for the Divas Championship

Best Case Scenario: AJ Lee wins clean, ends this never-ending feud so that they can finally bring up the extremely talented girls from NXT.

Worst Case Scenario: Brie and Nikki win using twin magic after the ref is replaced by the security guard from Jimmy Kimmel Live.

What Nick Wants to Happen: AJ Lee wins.

What Will Happen: Brie Bella wins.

Cody Rhodes & Goldust (c) vs Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins vs The Usos

for the WWE Tag Team Championship

Best Case Scenario: They block out a full hour for what should unequivocally be the best match of the night, Rhodes Boys win after every single person hit their finisher in order, with Cody finishing everything off with the CrossRhodes.

Worst Case Scenario: They cancel this match.

What Nick Wants to Happen: More than 10 minutes of wrestling, the Usos to not be completely buried and the Rhodes boys to start a feud with the Wyatt Family after narrowly, but cleanly, defeating the Shield.

What Will Happen: Rhodes boys beat the Usos following a Reigns Spear to save face for The Shield, extending the feud to  Survivor Series.

CM Punk vs. Ryback & Paul Heyman

(Handicap Hell in a Cell Match)

Best Case Scenario: Paul Heyman and Ryback win, then Big E. comes out, brawling with Ryback, leading him away from the Cell as it lowers on Punk and Heyman.

Worst Case Scenario: CM Punk wins after giving Ryback and Heyman the GTS at the same time, Heyman manages to escape Cell, CM Punk Spears and then Jackhammers Ryback, immediately after starting a “Goldberg” chant.

What Nick Wants to Happen: This feud to end.

What Will Happen: This feud won’t end.

Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. John Cena

for the World Heavyweight Championship

Best Case Scenario: Alberto Del Rio manages to win after the excellent match both are capable of by getting Cena in the Cross Armbreaker. Accidentally rips off John’s arm, and while Cena has it reattached without issue, he is forced to actually stay out of action until the Royal Rumble.

Worst Case Scenario: Alberto Del Rio gets Cena in the Cross Armbreaker. Accidentally rips off John’s arm, which Cena reattaches by himself without issue, beats Del Rio with STF.

What Nick Wants to Happen: Alberto Del Rio manages to win after solid match by getting Cena in the Cross Armbreaker, accidentally rips off his arm, and while Cena has it reattached without issue, is forced to actually stay out of action until the Royal Rumble. Damien Sandow cashes in MitB briefcase.

What Will Happen: John Cena will win, Damien Sandow will cash in and lose.

Los Matadores vs. The Real Americans

Best Case Scenario: Crowd actually gives a shit, Antonio Cesaro does Giant Swing with both Matadores at same time, spins so fast he is transported to Oz. Or, a better gimmick.

Worst Case Scenario: “U! S! A!” “U! S! A!”

What Nick Wants to Happen: A match that doesn’t feel like filler, people actually start to get into Los Matadores and Zeb chases El Torito around the ring while they play Benny Hill music over the PA.

What Will Happen: Too many people get way too into the “We the People” chant, Los Matadores lose because of interference from Zeb, El Torito gets last laugh.

Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan

(WWE Championship Hell in a Cell Match)

Best Case Scenario: A clean finish.

Worst Case Scenario: An actual screwjob.

What Nick Wants to Happen: A clean finish.

What Will Happen: An actual screwjob. (For the fans, at least.)