Bragging Rights is a fairly new PPV concept which first materialised in 2009 and was sold on the premise that it would feature superstars from both Raw and Smackdown brands competing against one another for a trophy that would give their show the ‘bragging rights’ for an entire year. A fine idea were it not for the fact that Raw and Smackdown superstars appear on each others shows almost every week thus heavily diluting the spectacle of seeing these wrestlers interact and combat.
In 2010 the event was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota and whilst entertaining on the whole the repetitive nature of some of the feuds and matches served as another reminder that the WWE is currently plagued with far too many pay per views with only a select few (most noticeably wrestlemania) given enough time to centre meaningful feuds and matches around.
Champion vs. Champion Match
Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler
The show got off to a cracking start however with the opening match which pitted Raw’s United States Champion Daniel Bryan against Smackdown’s Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler. Both men are superb workers and when given time as they were here it was not at all surprising to see them tear the house down with Ziggler’s aggressive offensive combining well with Bryan’s ultra smooth athleticism.
Bryan got the upper hand with a series of submission takedowns and high flying moves before Dolph used the assistance of his manager/girlfriend Vicki Guerrero to cause a valuable distraction that helped to get him back in the match. Dolph then constructed a lengthy, methodicial beatdown including a series of holds which managed to remain capivating as Ziggler brings a ton of emotion and character to his offence unlike say Randy Orton who was once highly capable of putting audience members to sleep during his infamous chinlock days.
The match wore on at a good pace resulting in a series of near falls which got a great reaction from the excited audience before Dolph’s frustration caused him to lose focus and he found himself tapping out to Daniel Bryan’s painful looking submission entitled the labelle lock.
This was a fantastic spectacle though it did raise the crucial point that if the United States Champion (Bryan) and the Intercontintal Champion (Ziggler) were allowed to frequently defend their own titles in matches of similar length and stature then the WWE wouldn’t have such a big problem in effectively creating fresh main event stars.
Match rating: Rating:
After this match we cut backstage to see Team Raw arguing about leadership. Punk and Shaemus didn’t seem too happy about Miz being the captain for their fourteen man elimination match against Team Smackdown as were were painted an early picture of dissent amongst their ranks.
The tag team champions Cody Rhodes and Drew Mcintyre who were representing Smackdown came out and to cut a long story short (which I wish Drew had done) insisted that there was no team on Raw who were brave enough to come out and face them. They were interrupted by Nexus leader Wade Barrett who first of all bragged about how he was going to become the WWE champion in his match against Randy Orton later on in the night and then brought out David Otunga and superstar John Cena who rather than sell his unwillingness to conform to Wade’s orders instead proceeded to sprint head first into the ring as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match
“Dashing” Cody Rhodes & Drew McIntyre vs. John Cena & David Otunga
This was of course the ill fated storyline which saw John Cena as a member of Nexus, having to obey the wishes of Wade Barrett although the fact that Cena was at this point still marketing his bright purple merchandise as opposed to wearing the Nexus gear should tell you everything you need to know about how brave WWE were willing to be in this storyline as they followed through with a pathetic amount of overprotection for their golden boy.
So Otunga and Cena challenged for the tag team titles and had a decent but brief encounter which did nothing to enhance the prestige of the tag titles but which did tell a funny story with Otunga desperate to start the match only to tag in Cena who did all the hard work and won and then watched on speechless as Otunga hungrily grabbed both titles and began to celebrate vaingloriously in the centre of the ring. This was a nice touch though Cena attacking Otunga post-match in a bid to keep the kids happy kind of ruined the moment.
WWE Million Dollar Title Match
Goldust vs. Ted DiBiase
We then had a match based on a ludicrous feud with Ted Dibiase fighting against Goldust over possession of a fake million dollar title, a gimmick that belongs to the mid 90′s. Okay I’m aware that all the belts are essentially fake but this particular piece of gold was just a gimmick given to Dibiase in a vain bid to get him over via association with his father’s beloved character so the fact that it was being fought over ruined any real dramatic investment in what was otherwise a solid match fought by two fine workers.
Ted Dibiase got the win with a a DDT but Goldust attacked him after the bell after the distraction from his fiancee Aksana.
Divas Championship Match
Lay-Cool vs, Natalya
Layla successfully defended the women’s championship against Natalya and this was a decent Divas match helped by the fact that Layla has great in ring charisma and that Natalya is just an all around awesome in ring performer. She got big cheers for some of her maneouvers including a hanging supplex in which she started to do squats whilst holding Layla in the air and got a big pop when she teased the sharpshooter – the move of course made famous by her uncle and wrestling legend Bret Hart.
Layla managed to get the win when Michelle Mcool booted Natalya in the face from the outside ring apron in a quick, well executed kick that was well disguised from the referee. All in all it was highly refreshing to hear a crowd acually react to some of the mat grappling as opposed to the usual silence that greets the Divas when they wrestle which is usually interrupted only by the occasional, middle aged wolf whistle.
Next we cut to Josh Matthews who was stood inside the grave set as he began to hype up the Buried Alive World Heavyweight Championship Match between The Undertaker and Kane. The sight of him inside this construction was uninentionally hillarious. A video package tried their best to hype up this encouner but I just couldn’t help tutting to myself as I realised I was about to watch Undertaker versus Kane with Paul Bearer in his corner, in 2010!!!
And WWE wonder why their PPV buy-rates are down when they are busy recycling feuds from over a decade ago.
Buried Alive Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Kane vs. Undertaker
The match was quite plodding and laborious though the gimmick helped as the two men were able to use weapons and fight into the crowd which at least made the encounter somewhat heated if a little dull. The presence of Paul Bearer (who is believe or not is a real life Paul Bearer) carrying around the urn also helped as Bearer is undoubtedly one of the all time great managerial characters.
The finish came with Undertaker being attacked by Nexus members who helped Kane knock Taker into the grave and seal the win and this was followed by Kane magically instructing the crane to pour dirt into the pit. There were several audible groans from the adult audience in attendance at this point but the kids at least seemed to buy into this deal as we were meant to believe that the Deadman (going on another of his lengthy, recovery sabbaticals) had truly been buried alive. It says a lot about Taker’s talent as a performer that he was actually able to make this incredibly melodramatic Dead Man Character so brilliantly succesful. It is worth noting however that since Taker’s recent return he has yet show an iota of concern about seeking vengeance on the men who buried him alive thus helping to further dampen the credibility of this stupid match gimmick.
SmackDown vs. Raw 7 on 7 Tag Team Elimination Match
Team Raw (The Miz, Sheamus, CM Punk, John Morrison, R-Truth, Ezekiel Jackson & Santino Marella) vs. Team SmackDown (Big Show, Edge, Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Alberto Del Rio & Tyler Reks)
The Team Smackdown versus Team Raw encounter was a lively affair with a fantastic, furiously paced opening, a tiresome middle and a fantastically constructed finishing sequence. John Morrison and Rey Mysterio dazzled the crowd with their high flying expertise whilst Shaemus and Ezekiel Jackson brought some good, rough intensity to the bout. In the end Raw Captain The Miz was left to fend for himself against Edge and Rey Mysterio and whilst looking like he had Rey beat, the little genius managed to roll out of danger and dive over to tag Edge who came in and quickly sphered the befuddled Miz for the pin. This was a crisp finish as Rey and Edge celebrated with a trophy that might actually hold some real value if superstars were allowed to remain loyal to their respective brands.
Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett (with John Cena)
The main event was uninspiring both on paper and in execution with WWE Champion Randy Orton defending his title against the impressive but green newcomer Wade Barrett. John Cena was forced to serve in Wade’s corner with Wade instructing him at the start of the match that unless he won the match he would fire John Cena. This dramatic implication meant that Cena spent the majority of the match on the outside trying his very best to act sincere.
As with most Randy Orton encounters the match was fine but up until the end lacked any real energy or drama. Orton is a good worker but his current character is so robotic that it becomes hard to invest oneself in the mechanical nature of his in ring mannerisms and offense. At one point the referee took a bump (football referees have it easy, I’m telling you) and this provoked the obligatory Nexus run in as they began to chop down Orton.
The crowd then woke up with John Cena inserting himself into the action and cleaning house of the Nexus and using the logical excuse to Wade that he was making sure that he didn’t get disqualified with the ref starting to stir in the corner. This was a nice touch though what followed was extremely lame as Cena waited for the referee to regain full consciousness before intentionally attacking Wade Barrett and getting Randy Orton disqualified.You see this way Randy Orton defended the title but John Cena apparently couldn’t be fired because Barrett had technically won the match (make of that what you will). An enraged Orton Rko’d Cena after the match to stand tall and try and steal the attention away from an encounter that had truly left him in the cold.
This finish may have escalated the feud between Cena and Nexus but it did nothing for world champion Randy Orton and a DQ finish for a Pay Per View Main Event really is a big two fingers up to all those in attendance and the people forking out cash at home to buy your product. Again with incidents like this occurring it is no surprise to hear that WWE PPV Buy-rates were on the decline in 2010.
Overall the Pay Per View was a decent offering assisted by one of the best matches of the year opening the show and a spirited Bragging Rights encounter between Team Raw and Smackdown. Ultimately however the event asked more pressing questions than it answered and did a poor job of enhancing its increasingly obsolete titles. In particular the treatment of the tag team titles and the death of the midcard has been very bleak to behold.