Written by: Colin Rinehart
May 20th, 2012
PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina
Well we’ve arrived at what many are predicting to be one of the least bought WWE PPVs in recent years with a main event of John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis, but to be honest I’ve seen worse cards and atleast we’ve got a WWE title match between CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, something I couldn’t have imagined typing seven years ago when they were both in ROH. Rest of the card is so-so, but let’s do this thing anyways.
Your hosts are Matt Striker and Josh Matthews
YouTube Pre-Show Match
Kane vs. Zack Ryder
The viewership numbers for last month’s YouTube pre-show match were so good they decided to make it a regular thing, which I have no problem with, I always liked the idea of a pre-show match. Ryder lures Kane out of the ring in a chase and then sends the big man face-first into the steps before wiping him out with a nice pescado. Back inside Kane regains the upper hand with a backbreaker and a dropkick. Ryder hits a lucky neckbreaker and then tries for the Rough Ryder, but Kane counters into a side slam. Ryder blocks the top rope lariat attempt and hits Kane with the Broski Boot in the corner, but only gets a one count out of it. Ryder again looks for the Rough Ryder, but gets caught with the chokeslam instead for the pin at 6:52. Not nearly as lopsided as I was expecting, they actually let Ryder hit a few of his spots and it made this far more entertaining than the squash I was expecting. Still, hopefully Ryder gets some kind of win in this feud at some point to regain any of the heat he’s rapidly been losing since becoming a punchline on RAW with Cena, Eve, and Kane. **
Backstage during the preshow Santino Marella and Cody Rhodes argue over whether the Intercontinental or US title are more prestigious. Eve tells them that to decide the matter we’ll have a “People Power” battle royal up next to kick off the PPV with the winner of the match getting a title shot against either the IC or US champ (whoever they choose) later tonight on the show. Well, why not.
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T
“People Power” Battle Royal
(Featuring The Great Khali, The Miz, JTG, Ezekiel Jackson, Curt Hawkins, Tyler Reks, Michael McGillicutty, Yoshi Tatsu, Tyson Kidd, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre, Heath Slater, Darren Young, Titus O’Neill, Alex Riley, David Otunga, William F’N Regal, and Christian)
I was excited enough just to see William Regal getting in this thing, but a returning Christian makes this much more interesting. We kick off the PPV live with the match just under way and both US and IC champs sitting at ringside watching on. Heath Slater is our first man gone, and he’s followed quickly by McGiillicutty. JTG is eliminated by a sweet pair of stereo superkicks from the Uso’s and Tatsu joins him moments later after being suplexed out of the ring by McIntyre. Big Zeke nearly eliminates Hawkins, but Reks saves him and the two eliminated Jackson instead. Jey Uso is gone next after a low bridge from D-Young. McIntyre is gone next from Hawkins and Reks, but both men are eliminated themselves moments later by the Great Khali, who tosses Jinder Mahal out to join them as well. Khali gets tossed by Miz, Young, and O’Neill not long after. Titus misses a kick though and gets eliminated by Jimmy Uso. Regal is really stiffing Christian with some nice European uppercuts in the corner while Darren Young clotheslines Jimmy Uso out of the ring, nearly eliminating himself in the process. Regal is tossed next by Christian to some minor boos. Sadface. Riley eliminated D-Young with a dropkick and then lays out his former mentor Miz with a big spinebuster. Miz knees Riley out of the ring moments later and we’re down to our final four, Christian, Miz, Kidd, and Otunga. Kidd lays in some stiff kicks on Miz then takes out both Miz and Otunga with a sweet springboard dropkick for a nice pop. Look at Kidd getting over as a babyface. Too bad he’s eliminated moments later by Otunga and Miz. Otunga and Miz team up on Christian, so I guess he’s a face again after that brief heel turn to join Team Johnny. The crowd gets behind him while the heels do the usual beatdown. Christian fights back with that feisty Canadian offense and eliminates Otunga. Miz and Christian tease their finishers on another but neither connect. Christian is nearly eliminated, hanging on the apron until he manages to toss Miz onto the apron with him and spear him to the floor, giving Christian the win at 12:24. Pretty good stuff for a battle royal actually, they got rid of alot of the jobbers quickly and managed to let a few guys hit a nice spot or two to showcase them (Kidd in particular popped the crowd big with his dropkick spot). The final four was worked well too and though I think Christian is above the IC/US title level at this point, it’s better than him being a sidebar on the GM feud. **1/4
WWE Tag Team Title Match
Kofi Kingston/R-Truth © vs. Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger
All four of these guys are just lost in the midcard right now, but on paper this still looks solid. Kofi starts off with Swagger, fighting off his larger foe’s power game with the usual flashy high-flying antics before tagging Truth in for his dancing legdrop. Swagger tags out and Truth cranks on Ziggler’s arm a bit and tags Kofi back in for a flying cross-body and two count. Inside-out suplex from Ziggler and the heels take firm control here, suplexing Kofi around and trading tags. Truth gets the tag in though and hits the corkscrew elbow and a sitout gourdbuster. Swagger Bomb out of the corner gets two and the heels do an extended heat segment on Truth in their corner for several minutes. Nifty double-team move from the heels with Ziggler driving Truth’s head into the mat as Swagger holds him in a wheelbarrow position and Ziggler applies a chinlock. Truth breaks it up as Swagger tags in and fires off a huge tornado DDT on the All American out of the corner, finally allowing him to get the hot tag to Kingston. Kofi takes out Ziggler with cross-bodies and dropkicks before hitting the Boom Drop. Kofi misses the Trouble in Paradise and the SOS, but he hits a huge cross-body for a pin that Swagger only barely is able to break up. Jack unsuccessfully tries to suplex Kofi out of the ring and falls out himself, but it gives Ziggler enough time to nail Kofi with the Fameasser back in the ring. Truth breaks up the pin before wiping out Swagger on the floor with a pescado just as Kofi hits the Trouble in Paradise on Ziggler in the ring to retain the titles at 12:17. Standard formula stuff for the most part but great talent will always find ways to spice up that formula and all four men did here. Lots of fun and this probably should have been the opener. ***
Backstage Eve hires Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks to go out into the audience and remove any disrespectful signs about Johnny Ace.
WWE Diva’s Title Match
Layla © vs. Beth Phoenix
Where the hell is Kharma? I thought she was all healed up. Sloppy lock up and some hair pulling to start. Layla hits a cross-body and the crowd is so bored already some fans randomly chant for Colt Cabana. Que? Beth wraps Layla’s surgically reconstructed knee around the post and works the limb over back inside. Layla misses a spinkick and Beth tries for a press slam, but Layla counters into a DDT. Both ladies trade roll up attempts and Layla hits a nice neckbreaker for the win at 7:10. Fans just did not care at all about this and you can’t blame them either. Boring match that only slightly picked up a bit of steam towards the end. *1/2
Backstage Chris Jericho and Randy Orton get in each-others faces before the fatal four way match
World Heavyweight Title Fatal Fourway Match
Sheamus © vs. Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho vs. Alberto Del Rio
Thank God they changed this from Sheamus/Del Rio to the four-way because I’m not sure anyone cared at all about seeing that title match on PPV. All four men immediately brawl out of the ring to start where Sheamus and Orton dispatch of the heels and return to the ring for a stand-off. They trade punches until Jericho low bridges the champ out of the ring, allowing the heels to team up on Orton with a double suplex. Outside the ring Del Rio hits a running knee to Sheamus’ repeatedly injured shoulder and now the heels team up on the champ, tossing him into the announcer’s table. They try to the same act on Orton back in the ring but the Viper fights them off, suplexing Jericho. Del Rio tries a cover and Jericho breaks it up, ending their temporary alliance. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker from Del Rio on Jericho, but Alberto turns around into a lariat from Orton, sending him out of the ring. Jericho, Orton, and Del Rio all battle into the same corner back in the ring where they tease the Tower of Doom spot, but Sheamus breaks it up and nails Alberto with a flying shoulderblock from the top rope. Rolling senton from Sheamus but he lets Ricardo distract him from outside the ring, allowing Del Rio to recover and nail a huge spin kick on the champ for a near fall. Sheamus comes back with a big knee and sideslam but Del Rio counters when he signals for the Celtic Cross. Sheamus lays in the hammerfists on Del Rio in the corner but Jericho breaks it up with a springboard dropkick. Orton hits the ring and hands out powerslams to Jericho and Sheamus before hitting the champ with the second-rope DDT. Del Rio puts Orton into the cross armbar as he goes into his Viper pre-RKO sequence but Jericho breaks up the hold. Del Rio blocks a Lionsault attempt from Jericho and Orton gives him the over-the-shoulder backbreaker. Not to be outdone Sheamus gives Del Rio the Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus and Orton tease their finishers until Sheamus is sent out again. Orton gives both Del Rio and Ricardo the second rope DDT for a nice pop and a near fall. Codebreaker on Orton out of nowhere, but Jericho turns around into the cross armbar from Alberto. No problem, he just counters into the Walls of Jericho. Sheamus tries to break it up but eats a Codebreaker of his own for another near fall. Jericho counters a rolling senton from the champ into the Walls as well but Orton breaks it up with a RKO on Jericho. Del Rio breaks up the pin but eats his own RKO. Randy turns around into the Brogue Kick from the champ, who then finishes Jericho with Finlay’s old Celtic Cross (now dubbed “White Noise”) at 15:53. Phew, that was just going a mile a minute and was hard to just keep up with let alone recap, but it was chaotic in a very good kind of way. Not much flow to begin with but by the time we got to the finish everyone was firing on all cylinders. ***1/4
Backstage Cody Rhodes wants to wish Christian luck on challenging the US champion tonight, but Christian isn’t buying it and tells him he’s changed his mind and wants to wrestle Cody for the IC belt instead tonight.
“The Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay vs. The Miz
From World champion to jobber for Brodus freaking Clay, my how Miz has fallen. Miz does his usual mic shtick before the match and mocks Clay’s dancing a bit. Miz gets a few minor bits of offense in but it’s not long before Brodus takes him off the top rope with a huge pumphandle slam and then finishes him with the splash at 4:12. Who’s coffee did Miz piss in to become such a joke these days? 3/4*
WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Cody Rhodes © vs. Christian
Cody takes it right to Christian with a gourdbuster to start but Christian sends him out to the floor quickly and then nails him with a running dropkick. Back inside Cody hits a dropkick and then delivers a big superplex to Christian. He gives Christian the Cactus clothesline then launches a kick off the steps on his challenger. Missile dropkick from Christian but he misses a top rope cross body. Cody blocks a tornado DDT out of the corner and hits a nice moonsault for a near fall. Christian counters a whip into the corner into the Killswitch to pick up the win and the title at 7:25. The work here was fine and even good at points but there wasn’t much heat or spark to anything here, just felt a bit like going through the motions for most of the way through. Not sure if I approve of a demotion to the midcard for Christian either. **1/4
Backstage CM Punk does a terrible impression of Vince McMahon while reflecting on the fact that he and Daniel Bryan are actually one of the main events of a WWE PPV, fighting for the WWE tite. It is a rather surreal moment for a longtime fan of both men like myself. AJ interrupts to wish Punk luck tonight.
WWE Title Match
CM Punk © vs. Daniel Bryan
This match almost made me buy this PPV. Almost. Long and LOUD dueling chants from the fans for both men to start as the two men trade your basic opening exchange of holds and strikes. Stiff kicks from Bryan in the corner and back-flips out of the corner and almost right into an early GTS. Punk just curb-stomps Bryan’s face into the mat for a two count and then back suplexes him right out of the ring. Punk follows him out but gets tossed into the time-keeper’s section. Back in the ring Bryan hits a missile dropkick and tries applying a neck crank but Punk breaks it up and tries for the figure four, which Bryan counters into a cradle for two. Bryan stretches Punk out in one of the more vicious Mexican Surfboards I can ever remember seeing, chanting “YES!” the whole way through. Punk was being stretched like a pretzel and/or 90 pound Joshi wrestler right there. Punk is finally able to break through with some stiff elbows and fires off a fisherman’s suplex. Bryan responds with a diving headbutt off the top rope and both men wind up colliding in mid-air as they simultaneously attempt cross-bodies off the ropes. Punk picks up some momentum with a swinging neckbreaker and a huge powerslam for a near fall. Bryan gets backdropped out of the ring and Punk takes him out moments later with a tope. Back inside Punk tries coming off the top but Bryan catches him with a dropkick. Bryan lays in more stiff kicks but Punk counters with a dragonscrew legwhip and then slaps on the figure four. Both men begin trading stiff slaps while in the hold in a flashback to some of their ROH matches. Punk tries La Magistral for a near fall and likes the idea so much he goes for the same move a second time, but Bryan counters into a Magistral attempt of his own, which Punk escapes only to be met with a sickening kick to the temple from Bryan. That whole sequence was smoother than silk, but it only gets Bryan a two count. Cole actually does a good job on commentary for once, bringing up some of the nasty injuries both men have suffered in the past and fought through. Bryan tries setting Punk up in the corner for a frankensteiner but gets crotched on the top rope, and Punk follows it up with a sick springboard clothesline just for good measure. Both men are drained by now but still trade tired forearms on their knees before each man misses a wild spin-kick attempt. Bryan counters a GTS attempt into a cradle and then tries for the YES! Lock but Punk counters that by launching Bryan over the top rope. Bryan catches the ropes though and skins the cat back into the ring only to be met with a knock-out kick to the temple from Punk. Another fantastic sequence there. Macho Man elbow drop from Punk, but he hurts his ribs again and can’t get the cover quick enough. Bryan targets in on the ribs with huge knees but misses a running dropkick in the corner. Punk hits the Muay Thai knee in the corner and goes for the requisite running bulldog to follow up but Bryan counters into the YES! Lock! Bryan cranks away on it but Punk manages to shift into a cover on Bryan as the ref counts the three count just as Punk begins tapping out to the move as soon as the ref calls for the bell at 23:56. This was everything we were expecting it to be, and that’s the kind of stellar affair that can only be provided by two guys who are very familiar with one another in and out of the ring. Some incredible sequences and counters in this one and the crowd was with them the whole way through too in a way rarely seen in title matches anymore. Potential Match of the Year candidate. ****1/2
Backstage Teddy Long threatens to have Eve and Otunga fired if Johnny loses tonight.
Ryback vs. Camacho
I hate squash matches on PPV, save that shit for TV. Goldberg chants for Ryback and we’ve got our typical squash of his. Hunico tries to interfere behind the ref’s back to give Camacho an advantage but soon enough Ryback is tossing him around like a scrub and finishing him off with the marching Samoan drop at 1:54. As I like to say, your typical Ryback squash. 1/4*
John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis
SMELL THE BUYRATE! Always a good idea to base a PPV around a comedy match main event guys, really. Cena gives Johnny an airplane spin and then grabs the ring bell and hammer and rings it right next to Ace’s head. Cena slams him into the commentary table and sets Johnny up in Booker’s seat before taking Cole’s seat, putting headsets on both of them. Cena does a mildly amusing Cole impersonation and Laurinaitis is so out of it he even musters up a “Five time…five time” to parody Booker. Cute spot. Back in the ring Cena gives Johnny the STF for ten full seconds and Johnny manages to not tap out, so Cena applies it again. Cena grabs a fire extinguisher from under the ring and blows it in his face a bit. Johnny tries to run off again so Cena dumps a garbage can full of popcorn and empty drinks on top of his head. Ace finally gets some offense in, targeting Cena’s arm and grabbing a steel chair to hit Cena with it a few times. Cena grabs the chair from him though and gives him the Five Knuckle Shuffle with it. Ace hits a low blow and tries to leave again, and gets all the way backstage before the Big Show comes out to drag him back to the ring. Gee, I wonder what could happen next? And in a turn so un-shocking it reminds me of half of the NWO turns in WCW, Show hits Cena with the WMD fist, allowing Johnny to get the pin and keep his job at 17:04. Good God that was one long and tedious comedy match with a finish that absolutely everyone and their mother knew was going to happen and saw coming a mile away. I have no idea who the hell thought this was a good idea for a PPV main event, but they should be canned. Don’t be surprised if this PPV’s buyrate bombs and then they go and blame Punk and Bryan or something. Horrible, piece of shit match. DUD
We go off the air with Big Show and John Laurinaitis celebrating over a fallen John Cena. As Michael Cole would say, this is truly the darkest day in the history of our sport.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.