The first thing to note for this show is, of course, that JBL sat in for Jerry Lawler for this pay-per-view. The repertoire with Michael Cole was amazing and he added an element of importance to the commentary that hasn't been seen in quite some time. I will probably refer to this commentary from time to time, so I felt that it was important to point it out.
0. 16-Man Battle Royal (Pre-show, Winner challenges for US Championship later in the night): Well, this was pretty entertaining from the start, actually. During the entrances, there was certainly an aspect of "Well, here's all the guys that don't stand a chance" going on, especially with guys like Ted DiBiase and JTG coming out pretty much back-to-back, and the inclusion of Epico & Primo and the Primetime Players. The first guy to enter was Brodus Clay, and I never got the sense that this was the guy who might go over. Although I liked the fact that there were the inclusion of enough guys like him, Tensai, and Santino, that you didn't automatically know who was going to win. I'm sure a lot of people expected Santino to gain his rematch. However, it was finally clear what was happening when we got to the final four: The Primetime Players, Tensai, and Zack Ryder. As soon as I realized who was in the ring, I said to myself, "Wait a minute... really??" Sure enough, Ryder beat the odds, and ended the pre-show by giving the crowd a "Woo woo woo You know it!" for their money.
1. The Miz v. Rey Mysterio v. Sin Cara v. Cody Rhodes (Intercontinental Title): Miz made a lot of noise before the match about how unfair it was that he had to defend his title against three other men, and I think I would have liked to have seen a more definitive rivalry between him and one of the other participants, but the fatal four-way, again, gave a great sense of uncertainty. I was really skeptical going in because I thought there was a good possibility that he was going to drop the title to Rey, but I came out at the end happy as a clam, with Miz retaining, and Cody Rhodes making a damn good showing. I'm really really hoping that coming out of this, there is some kind of series of matches to determine the #1 contender that comes out with Cody on top. I think Cody Rhodes and the Miz have the potential to put on a fantastic program, and I don't even care if they don't turn either of them. A heel v. heel dynamic can be very interesting when done right. Both men have fantastic talent, and I love it when the audience is forced to make a decision on their own because it creates an amazing dynamic in the arenas.
2. Daniel Bryan & Kane v. R-Truth & Kofi Kingston (Tag Team Championship): Daniel Bryan and Kane have absolutely flawless chemistry. I know I've been fawning over them on this blog lately, but that's because every DB/Kane segment is the BEST DB/Kane segment. I don't know how the company hit upon the idea of putting these guys together, but whoever came up with it deserves a raise, tons of vacation time, and the right to choose a meaningless title that everyone else, including Vince McMahon himself, must address him by until the end of time. Can you imagine that? "Good afternoon, Mr. McMahon." "Good afternoon, BARON VON FRIENDSHIP." That mental image is almost as magical as the combo of Daniel Bryan and Kane have been for the last month, at least. Needless to say, they bickered needlessly, hugged it out, worked as a team for a while, started bickering again, and then repeated their accidental success from last Monday. Afterwards, each man insisted that he was the reason they won, so now we have the incredible meme of them yelling "I AM THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!" at each other back and forth. In the back, Dr. Shelby and AJ tried to get them to get along, and when Kane was asked if he had anything to say to Daniel Bryan, he gave the trio a Gatorade bath and yelled, "I'm going to Disney Land!" I really hope that there is follow-up on that. I need to see pictures of Kane chokeslamming Mickey Mouse and Daniel Bryan applying the No Lock to Goofy.
3. Antonio Cesaro v. Zack Ryder (US Championship): Two words came to mind when viewing this match: Dark Horse. I don't think anyone expected Zack Ryder to win, but that didn't stop him from giving it his all. The match was less than 7 minutes long (as a matter of fact, shorter than the Diva's Match), but both Cesaro and Ryder performed exceptionally well here. I'm not sure there's a lot that can be said as far as analysis goes... Ryder's a former champ, Cesaro is a powerful evil foreign heel... I doubt that we'll see a rivalry develop out of this, despite Ryder's performance. As beloved as he is, I don't think he's strong enough to uphold a title right now. He probably needs a story line that doesn't involve love triangles and murder before the general audience considers him as a potential challenger. Not that I have any great alternatives. I dunno, maybe I'll be surprised.
4. Randy Orton v. Dolph Ziggler: On the heels of the surprisingly good US title match came another match that was much better than I expected. I like Dolph Ziggler, of course, and I like Randy Orton to a degree. This is the best rivalry that Randy Orton has been in since he was fighting Christian for the World Heavyweight Championship, and this match came out of fucking nowhere. Randy Orton, since he is a top guy, eventually came out on top, but goddamn did Ziggler look strong. Finally! It's about damn time that Zigs got pissed and started beating mercilessly on his opponents. For a change, it didn't even matter that he lost because he's showing development... He's getting increasingly better against his veteran adversaries, which is exactly what needs to happen if he ever plans to cash in that damned briefcase. He needs to start getting over bigger and better names, so that his reign as World Heavyweight Champion will be believable.
5. Eve v. Layla (Diva's Championship): Now, those of you who haven't watched anything or read any results since Sunday will be wondering why Eve is in this match instead of Kaitlyn. Well, earlier in the night, Kaitlyn was injured by a mysterious masked attacker backstage. Clearly unable to perform, Eve assured her that she would get her title shot at a later date and told her to go get her ankle taken care of. Later, Teddy pointed out that all the championships needed to be defended, and Eve was appalled that she hadn't thought of that and lamented that no one else had earned a shot. Booker made a case for Eve and gave her the match. Eve only protested a little, but then she got on her gear and went out and kicked Layla's flawless ass. This is the best example of why having JBL back on commentary was an awesome thing. Through each and every single match, he put the talent over, and emphasized the importance of each championship, and the Diva's match was, for a change, treated with the same dignity and respect as the rest of the card. Hey, did you guys know that Eve is trained in jujitsu? I never would have known that if JBL hadn't been there to tell me. Besides the fantastic commentary, however, Eve and Layla performed better than we've seen from the Divas in a long time. Layla's still not great on that cross-body, but it's getting better. It's at least not in slow-motion anymore.
6. Sheamus v. Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight Championship): If there was one match on the card that I couldn't give a shit less about, it's this one. We've been at this rivalry for like 6 months now despite the fact that Sheamus and Del Rio have exactly zero chemistry together. I don't care that Sheamus won. I really don't. Whatever. The World title is meaningless. And also, I know I've said it so many times before, but FUCK BOOKER T. So here's the rundown on the latest side-plot, in case you missed it. Ricardo shoved Alberto Del Rio out of the way and took a Brogue Kick meant for him two weeks ago. Otunga was all over that shit and the following Friday, urged Booker T to ban the move, armed with evidence and ready to file suit if he didn't. Booker complied. Last Monday, Sheamus kicked Otunga in the head after their match had concluded and Booker showed up to inform him that he'd be stripped of his title if he did that again before the investigation was concluded. So of course on Sunday, just before the match, he showed up to announce that the Brogue Kick was reinstated. If you're doing the math, that's a total of 9 days that lasted. JBL had a bitch fit at the announcer's table, and I had one of my own on Twitter, for different reasons of course. JBL argued that it isn't an announcement you make right before a match (which I agree with). I argue that this whole thing has been the most pointless sub-plot in the history of wrestling. The whole thing with banning the Brogue Kick was stupid to begin with, as I detailed in last week's review. But if you're going to set the damned thing up, at least follow through with it. There was no point in banning the worst finisher of your worst champion the week before a pay-per-view if you're just going to reinstate it before the pay-per-view match. Goddammit, make him wrestle a match without it, so he can come to one of two realizations: 1) He realizes that he has relied on the Brogue Kick too heavily and needs to strengthen the rest of his moveset. or 2) He realizes he never needed the Brogue Kick to begin with, and would be just as happy never using it again. I would be just as happy never seeing this match again, but I have a sinking feeling that this horse hasn't been beaten enough.
7. CM Punk v. John Cena (WWE Championship): We've seen CM Punk battle Cena for the title before, and we know it's a good match. Heyman at ringside put a little icing on this cake, though. He tells a great story with his facial expressions and his body language. Knowing now that Cena rolled his ankle early in the match, a little extra credit goes to him for still putting on a show. People didn't like the ending of the match, which was a draw. The ref counted both men's shoulders as down at the same time, and in that event, there is no restart, and the victory goes to the champion. I guess it's pretty lame, really when you think about it. John Cena's loss is as usual anything but clean, and sure Punk gets to keep the title, but it just doesn't sit well with you, does it? I guess you could make an argument that they made that decision because it was Cena's home town, but he doesn't get the great hometown reaction most other wrestlers do, and besides, when was the last time wrestling in your hometown actually meant something in WWE? I find that the hometown "heroes" lose more often than they win these days. Pretty much you have to create riot-ready levels of frenzy, or be The Rock.