CM Punk proves that he is the best in the world when it comes to selling, Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler have a cracking non title match on Smackdown and the Raw Rating suffers without the presence of John Cena. Here is a look at the best and some of the worse stuff from the past week of WWE programming.
Wrestler of the week: CM Punk
The long standing wwe champion was announced on Raw as the cover boy for the WWE 13 videogame on Raw and justified the decision with two solid in ring performances over the past week. The match with Daniel Bryan on Raw was not a patch on their classic from Over the Limit and used more as an angle to escalate tension with Kane and develop the relationship between Punk and AJ. It still however featured some excellent exchanges from two men who have superb chemistry and understand the fine art of selling.
On the subject of selling, it was Punk’s awestruck responses to Kane’s strength on Smackdown that helped to disguise the clumsy nature of his opponent’s offence and made for an exciting WWE title match-up. The authentic, hard hitting bumps he took to the outside and the manner in which he simply fell flat on his face after trying to hoist the big man up in the air for a GTS managed to promote Kane as an effective monster and helped to add a layer of drama that is not usually present in non-gimmick matches featuring the Big Red Monster.
Honourable Mention: Christian who has been able to get the fans behind his recent face turn despite the switch having no logic or creative drive.
Match of the week: Sheamus vs Dolph Ziggler (Smackdown)
Alberto Del Rio was allowed to choose an opponent for Sheamus on Smackdown and it was with some relief that he opted for Dolph Ziggler instead of the generic giant figures that the heel normally selects to wear down the face in these type of situations.
Sheamus won the strength game early but a rope exchange saw Dolph leap over his opponent and anticipate Sheamus movements to plant him with a dropkick. Dolph then quickly went over to stretch the arm but Sheamus fought out, threw Dolph against the ropes and this time halted his opponents pace by chopping him down with a hard shoulder on the rebound. Sheamus then went to stretch the arm but Dolph fought out with hard kicks and fists and again outmanoeuvred Sheamus with his pace to set up a leap from the top move where he was caught mid-air and taken down with a rolling supplex for a two count.
Back from the break, Dolph was in charge however attempting to ground Sheamus and eventually succeeding after some cunning behaviour saw him roll under the Irishman’s legs following a Celtic Cross attempt and tugging desperately onto the WWE cover guarding the bottom of the ring. This distraction brought Sheamus round to the outside where Dolph quickly recovered to hit him with a dropkick that sent his opponent headfirst into the announce table. Sheamus managed to break the ten count but was then vulnerable to Dolph’s furious offence which managed to keep a fatigued Sheamus down on all fours and and led to the awesome headlock headstand routine on the mat.
After an extended beatdown, Sheamus was able to throw Dolph over the top rope and out onto the apron following a sleeper attempt in a great looking spot and then capitalised with his trademark fists of fury to regain momentum in the bout.
Sheamus proceeded to dominate with power moves until Dolph blocked an aerial attempt and jumped up to the top rope to send his opponent flying back down with a slam for a near fall. With both men struggling to their feet, it was Dolph who pounced first by launching himself up in the air for a Zig Zag but Sheamus threw him off and hit white noise before calling for the Brogue Kick. A distraction from Swagger then enabled Ziggler to attempt the fame asser but Sheamus sent him flying in Swagger’s direction and planted him with a Brogue Kick on his return. Great workrate and exciting action throughout between these two fine competitors.
Honourable Mention: WWE Title: CM Punk vs Kane (Smackdown)
Fail of the Week: Raw records lowest Rating of the year
Despite a distinct improvement in programming which saw Big Show make effective strides in his new heel persona and good storyline development in the Punk / Bryan / AJ storyline, Raw drew a very poor 2.7 rating, its lowest share since the taped July 4th Raw in 2011 (which recorded a 2.4) and its worse live rating since a September 15th broadcast dating all the way back to 2008.
The common demoninator between those two shows is that neither of them featured John Cena, the company’s stagnant megastar who the WWE have become so dependent on for merchandise sales and money matches on PPV. A rating as low as this one will only make Cena’s stock appear more vital and his storylines more dominant especially when a match-up featuring Daniel Bryan and CM Punk somehow managed to lose viewers on this weeks broadcast. Punk certainly appeals very strongly to a certain audience as do Sheamus and Randy Orton but none have been able to reach the popularity of guys like Undertaker and Triple H so that they can have a show built around them like Cena has for the past several years.
If the wwe actually let some of these guys main event the segments on Raw and on PPV and feud with mainstream talent such as Brock Lesnar and The Rock, the landscape might start to look a little different but this week’s rating was a dissapointing reminder that the WWE still rely very heavily on their poster boy.
Dishonourable Mention: Randy Orton receives a sixty day suspension for a second violation of the WWE’s wellness policy.
This week in wwe history:
5 Years Ago: Shane, Khali and Umaga defeated John Cena and Bobby Lashley in a handicap tag main event on Raw in the build up to the One Night Stand PPV where Lashley was set to face Vince in a street fight and Cena defend his title in a falls count anywhere match against Khali. On Smackdown, Edge conducted a “Cutting Edge” interview with Batista which ended with the Animal knocking the Rated R Superstar down to the mat.
10 Years Ago: On Raw, Eddie Guerrero defeated RVD in an Intercontinental Title Ladder bout in a match famed by an incident which saw an enraged Guerrero beat up an interfering fan before security could escort him out of the ring. The flabbergasted look on Van Dam’s face afterwards was priceless. In other news from the flagship show, wwe champion The Undertaker beat the crap out of Tommy Dreamer and Brock Lesnar continued his stretch of dominance by easily disposing of Bubba Ray Dudley.
15 Years Ago: A not so mouthwatering Wrestlemania rematch between Undertaker and Psycho Sid barely lasted five minutes before the Nation of Domination came down to beat up both men. Meanwhile the Hart Foundation watched on in amusement as tension escalated between tag champs Austin and Michaels and Pillman, scheduled to face the Rattlesnake at King of the Ring was persuaded by Bret to let the two Texans fight one another at the PPV instead. A King of the Ring Tournament match-up also took place as eventual runner up Mankind defeated Savio Vega to progress to the semi-finals.
Nitro, on the other hand, saw Ric Flair battling Scott Hall and security restraining Randy Savage from attacking WCW figurehead JJ Dillon in the main event angle. WCW champion Hollywood Hogan was absent from the broadcast but the show still retained its 3.3 Rating from the previous week to handily outscore Raw’s 2.5.