I'm going to have to make this brief because I'll have no time to write this post during the weekend, as I will be attending ShadoCon. Let's get this out of the way: the past three weeks have been absolutely agonizing to sit through. A quick recap of Hell In A Cell: I found it really disappointing. I'm not gonna go through it match by match, but to put it in simple terms, I thought that just about every match failed to live up to the hype it brought into the show. The matches themselves were entertaining, but aside from Del Rio-Orton (which ended about the way you would expect it to), Cesaro-Gabriel (which in addition to having almost zero build-up was a fucking Antonio Cesaro match), and Big Show-Sheamus (which had the most surprisingly awesome conclusion of the night), every other match had an unsatisfactory finish, and a couple felt like cop-outs. It's often the ending that determines your final feelings on a piece of entertainment, and it's also the one thing that's pre-determined in wrestling. As such I got especially annoyed by the show from the standpoint I write these posts from, which focuses on how storylines are built up and then concluded. But let's move on to the present.
Off The Card
At this point I'll be shocked if Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs The Prime-Time Players doesn't show up as an unannounced match. Hell, it'll probably kick off the show. There are only five announced matches for the card, and even though three of those will probably take up about an houf and a half of the three-hour running time, the Divas Championship and United States Championship matches are probably only going to be good for another twenty minutes. I'm honestly at a loss as to what else will appear on the card, but this one makes sense to me. Maybe we'll get the much-anticipated debut of FANDANGO.
Youtube Pre-Show Match: Team Co-Bro vs. 3MB
Holy shit, 3MB is on a pay-per-view. I don't care if it's the Youtube match, gimme that shit. Seriously, I hope 3MB continues to build momentum and actually starts taking on tag teams that matter, but for now I am entirely content with backstage vignettes about how they totally play music, no, really they do.
Divas Championship Match: Eve Torres (c) vs. Kaitlyn
I can't believe the whole 'who attacked Kaitlyn' thing still hasn't been resolved. I thought this whole thing was over and done with. You'd think that once Kaitlyn had come forward with enough evidence to actually levy an accusation against Eve that the situation would've quickly drawn to a close. But nope, not enough tv time to do that. Instead the two opponents are at about the same place they were a month ago. As a result, I don't really have any further commentary to provide on this match than what I provided before Hell In A Cell. At least Layla isn't talking anymore. AUTOMATIC IMPROVEMENT!
United States Championship Match: Antonio Cesaro (c) vs. R-Truth
This is R-Truth's first singles match since last year's Capitol Punishment. Man, those were the days... Truth is now as squeaky-clean kid-friendly as he was before the awesome heel turn that made me get into wrestling in the first place last spring, and it's a real shame. As an insane heel, Truth managed to come across as both threatening and thigh-slappingly hilarious in a new way every single week, but he quickly took a nosedive after turning face. He was still occasionally funny while feuding with Miz, but I don't think I've liked him at all since he started teaming with Kofi Kingston. That said, he's regained at least a little bit of life here in his first singles feud in a while, and hopefully his character will be forced to grow now that his two-dimensional nature can't be excused by his being part of a tag team. So far he's not bringing a whole lot to the table in this feud aside from being American, meaning Cesaro can direct all his anti-American taunts against his opponent for once. It's nice to see Cesaro have an announced opponent for once, as this is really the first time we've gotten to see him focus his attention on another competitor. I don't really buy there being a lot of animosity between the two though, but I mostly attribute that to this being roughly the seventh-highest priority for WWE writers with only three weeks to build the match up. There needed to be more time for the two to interact with one another and lay out their personal differences - more stuff like R-Truth mocking Cesaro's five languages gimmick. What they've done is good, but there needed to be more of it. A lot more.
Survivor Series Elimination Match: Team Foley vs. Team Ziggler
Team Foley has gotten a lot more interesting as a result of this storyline getting the reset button hit on it. Overall I'm pretty annoyed by the change that was made because I feel like it's done a lot of harm, effectively shortening three weeks of build-up to two and orphaning the biggest storylines from events that will actually take place on the card. Team Ziggler features many of my favorite heels - Dolph Ziggler, Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, and Damien Sandow - but unfortunately the greatest amount of intrigue surrounding the team is whether or not Rhodes' real-life injury will keep him from competing, and if so, who would replace him. I'd probably put David Otunga at the top of the list of likely candidates. I hold out hope that Ricardo Rodriguez will appear as El Local to help out Del Rio's team, though.
This of course cannot compare to the deliberate drama that the Miz brings to Team Foley though. The decision to turn Miz face was not entirely surprising because a lot of people were not only calling it, but calling for it to happen. When I heard the arguments for, I actually thought back over all that Miz did since returning at Money in the Bank, and realized that, even though he's been a heel the whole time, he hasn't done anything really despicable. He won the Intercontinental Championship clean, he defended it multiple times without cheating, and even when he lost the title to Kofi Kingston, he never resorted to cheap shots or shortcuts. He didn't get deliberately disqualified when defending against Kofi, he didn't attack him with a foreign object, and I think the lowest he ever got was trying to get a leverage pin off the ropes. When he stuck out his hand to Kofi offering a handshake, you could believe he actually was trying to show good sportsmanship, when you wouldn't have expected him to do so a mere six months ago. Turning him face in Cleveland was a brilliant move as they were guaranteed to cheer for their hometown guy, but the turn was very easy to swallow thanks to Miz's character having done a lot of growing up since Wrestlemania.
The dynamic that Miz brings to his team is great, and it's an excellent addition to the story going into the team match. None of Miz's teammates have reason to trust him or like him because he's so fresh off his tenure as a heel. In addition to being recently removed from a feud with Kofi - who during their last confrontation kicked him in the face unprovoked - he has an intense rivalry with Daniel Bryan going back to their time on the first season of NXT, and Randy Orton RKO'd him for no reason - because Orton will RKO anyone for no reason, because he is an awful person that is somehow cheered for being an awful person. Bizarrely enough, Kane of all people seems to have the least trouble with the idea of teaming with Miz. Even though I find it likely that Miz isn't trying to pull a fast one, and he'll stay loyal to his team, the suspicion his teammates hold for him generates a lot of tension and makes this the match I'm looking forward to the most.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Big Show (c) vs. Sheamus
I feel like Show vs. Sheamus should finish at this pay-per-view, before it resorts to running on fumes. The attempts to make the feud more 'personal' haven't really worked for me, especially since that effort has consisted of saying "By the way, Sheamus is friends with William Re- OH GOD BIG SHOW IS BEATING REGAL UP!" It doesn't seem genuine. One thing is clear however: Sheamus works better as a challenger than as a champion. He doesn't come across as resting on his laurels anymore, he seems like he really does care about winning, and his random violent outbursts seem to have more of a reason behind them. The extra aggression he's displayed makes him come across as the favorite for this match, which considering they're fresh off a match where Big Show defeated him clean means they've done a really good job building up the rematch. Still, the Regal thing doesn't feel like it's done anything for this feud. Not that I'm not willing to look past that for the sake of celebrating Regal being put on television.
WWE Championship Triple Threat Match: CM Punk (c) vs. John Cena vs. Ryback
Hoo boy is this one a mess. Not only was this match made merely because Vince McMahon (Damn It) said so, but none of the three competitors have been focused on each other at all for the majority of the past few weeks. Ryback has suffered the least in this because of the simplicity of his character: he's angry at everyone and wants to eat them, regardless of whether or not they deserve it. It's very easy to have him stomp out, glare at somebody, and turn them into pulp without anybody questioning his motivations. By the way, the guy may have a voice like sandpaper, but the promo he gave on the Raw after Hell In A Cell was pretty great. "Revenge is an admission of pain; I am not hurt, I am HUNGRY!" sounded smart enough and cool enough that the guy came off as more single-minded than actually mindless. That said, devoting the past two weeks to Ryback beating up Brad Maddox (after having already THROWN HIM INTO A METAL CAGE WALL) instead of, you know, interacting with his opponents outside of one two-minute bit at the end of the go-home show, didn't seem like a wise choice to me. That said, Ryback and Cena tugging at opposite straps of the title belt while Punk looked on like a five-year-old who'd just had his favorite toy stolen was unintentionally the funniest moment of the night.
Meanwhile Punk is taking credit for beating Jerry Lawler almost to legitimate death. I'm going to pretend that never happened as soon as I finish typing this paragraph. Any reference to that segment will result in me blacking out.
And then there's John Cena's feud-that-isn't with Ziggler. I mean that's where you were going with this, right? He was going to face Ziggler at Survivor Series because of the whole AJ scandal thing, which you're now stuck with even though that match isn't happening. Great. So now not only does the Cena-AJ pseudo-romance storyline make me gag every time I see the two of them come in physical contact with one another, but it's taking away from the match that Cena is actually going to compete in. I know plans changed when the WWE was sent into a panic by all the negative feedback the original main event idea was getting, but Cena comes off as not giving a rat's ass about the championship shot that was just handed to him for no fucking reason. I sort of thought that during the standoff to end Raw that his eyes should've bugged out because he hadn't really been thinking about the fact that he has to fight the giant mass of muscle WHO WANTS TO EAT HIM.
Prediction: Ryback and Cena double-pin Punk, the match restarts, Cena fucks up a German suplex bridge on Punk, the match restarts again, Punk kicks Cena in the groin and rolls him up for the victory while Ryback is distracted by Paul Heyman who has a giant slab of beef on a fishing line.