Quick thoughts on this week’s episodes of WWE Raw and NXT

I’m a few days late this week with my recap of Raw, so I’ll just mash it together with my NXT thoughts. Honestly, there was really nothing at all about this week’s Raw that I was particularly impressed with. It was kind of a letdown show after the cliffhanger from last week involving the NXT group, now known as The Nexus.

That’s partly due to the absence of Wade Barrett, who reportedly has left the country due to work visa issues. Hopefully they’re resolved soon because the group just isn’t the same without him.

The show was especially light on wrestling this week, even though the main event eight-man tag match went longer than expected. I don’t need to see anything more from Vladimir Kozlov or Santino Marella, and especially not the two together. Their match would have been much better suited for Superstars. And does anyone care that Ranjin Singh and The Great Khali are apparently splitting. That’s a total waste of screen time that could be much better used to enhance guys like Zack Ryder, Evan Bourne, The Usos, etc.

The more I think about it, I can’t find anything good at all about this show. Even the ending segment, which was meant to build anticipation for the Money in the Bank match at the PPV, was done poorly simply because it felt like it should have happened on the go-home show, not a program weeks before the event.

As for NXT, there wasn’t much good about it either. We saw the return of the rookie challenges, which this week featured a keg carrying challenge. Yawn. At least the right guy was eliminated, as Titus O’Neil was given the boot.

WWE follows up lackluster PPV with solid Raw

WWE followed up their weak Fatal 4 Way effort with a strong episode of Raw. We learned that Bret Hart had been fired as GM of the show and a new anonymous general manager was announced. We also got more from the NXT crew and a few solid wrestling matches.

– The opening to the show was good, except for John Cena doing his jokey routine one day after being screwed out of the WWE title thanks to the NXT guys and Sheamus. I did enjoy Cena sneaking in a use of the word “jimbrones,” though. Anyway, as corny as the anonymous general manager emailing during the segment was, it was effective.

Announcing Vince McMahon as the guest referee and then having him just be an outside enforcer was a little lame, but maybe that was just a mix up on the announce team’s part.

– I thought the segments involving NXT were well done. Wade Barrett comes off like an absolute star on the mic and hopefully his ring work can back that up and push him to the next level. He explained why he would band together with all the men he had beaten in the competition, saying it was because of loyalty and a pact they had made. I’ll buy that. At least WWE has tried to explain some of the more illogical things in this story so far.

You knew the NXT7 would interfere in the main event match between Sheamus and John Cena but I liked that they turned on Vince McMahon at the end of the show. While many people are complaining that the NXT guys are now babyfaces because of that, I just don’t see it that way. The whole time they’ve been attacking both faces and heels, so turning on McMahon only shows their ruthlessness and that it’s them against the WWE.

– I enjoyed the follow-up Evan Bourne v. Chris Jericho match, as would be expected. I thought some of the stuff was a little too similar to their previous night’s match but that’s a nitpick on my part. Jericho saying he would retire if he lost was a clear tease for the IWC after all the recent Jericho contract speculation.

– The Miz came off strong during his interaction with Randy Orton. He could definitely benefit from a program with Orton, but it seemed more like a side bit to the Orton-Edge feud.

– There was no guest host and, not surprisingly, the show was better for it. We got a stupid mixed tag match with Khali and Eve against Alicia Fox and Primo, but I’ll take that over silly guest host filler any day.

– I really like the Ted DiBiase-Maryse pairing. They seem to have chemistry and I think they can help elevate each other to new heights. And I’ll never complain about seeing Maryse twice in one program.

– Again, a nice Raw that has me very interested to see what happens next week. I would assume the GM will be revealed and there are a lot of good guesses out there as to who it will be. I might have a post up tomorrow on that topic so stay tuned.

WWE Fatal 4 Way review

WWE’s Fatal 4 Way was a decent show that had a few surprises, some title changes, and an appearance by the NXT7. Rey Mysterio is the new World Heavyweight Champion, Sheamus captured the WWE Title and Alicia Fox became the new Divas Champion. The Miz and Kofi Kingston retained their respective titles.

The show, which cost $45 to order on PPV, ended about 30 minutes before 11pm ET. Even after adding in two late matches, the show ended way too soon. There really is no excuse for that to happen, and it certainly hurts WWE down the line. If you bought this pay-per-view and got somewhat cheated out of your money, why would you spend it again on the next show?

– The show ended after NXT attacked the four competitors in the WWE Title fourway match. In the process, Sheamus got a pin on Cena and became the new champion. He was then chased away by the NXT rookies as he raised the title on the entrance ramp. Aside from the continuing NXT invasion, the story will likely focus on how Sheamus violated the agreement Cena mentioned in his earlier promo that all four men would stick together if the NXT guys showed up.

I don’t mind Sheamus winning, as I think WWE has done a great job of building him up since his last run with the belt. The only thing that scares me is this likely means Sheamus holds the belt until Triple H is ready to wrestle again, at which time he’ll triumphantly ride back into town and win another title from the Celtic Warrior.

– Rey Mysterio pinning Jack Swagger to win the World Heavyweight Championship, after Kane had come to ringside and chased CM Punk away, had Twitter in a frenzy last night. I certainly don’t think giving Mysterio the title is the right call, but I think a lot of the hatred of it was misdirected.

My guess is WWE gave Rey the strap because he’s been working hurt for about six months now and was supposed to take time off before he accidentally injured Undertaker. WWE needed someone and probably rewarded Rey for sticking around by giving him the belt again. I also would assume that Rey loses the title quickly, but I might be wrong there. As far as him not being a heavyweight, this isn’t boxing.

The match itself was good in spots. One that a lot of people liked was when Jack Swagger did a belly-to-back suplex on CM Punk who suplexed Mysterio at the same time. While that was pretty cool, I liked it better when Kurt Angle did it to Randy Orton and Mysterio at WrestleMania 22.

– The match of the night was Chris Jericho v. Evan Bourne. The only problem with it is that the WWE didn’t advertise it before the show. With Evan Bourne being so over right now, why not at least toss is up on WWE.com and see if a few more people buy it? The way this pay-per-view was built up in the past few weeks made it feel like such a throwaway show that it seems very likely the buy rates will be bad.

Bourne won after hitting the shooting star press on a face-down Jericho, after a long match that saw a lot of counters and nearfalls. This match proved why Chris Jericho really is “the best in the world at what he does.” He went out and put on a great match because he wants to help elevate new stars.

The storyline with Jericho continually losing and getting more frustrated is going somewhere and, even though I hate to see Y2J lose on a weekly basis, I’m interested to see where it’s heading. For Bourne, this was meant to give him some momentum. I doubt he’s headed to the main event picture, but I also wouldn’t be completely shocked if he won the Money in the Bank match at the next pay-per-view.

– Kofi Kingston defeated Drew McIntyre in a very good opening match to retain the IC Title. I didn’t mind the overbooking at the end with Teddy Long not counting Drew’s pin, Hardy’s run-in, and Kingston picking up the win. It continues all the feuds that are going and I’ll be interested to see what happens next on Smackdown.

– The Miz defeated R-Truth to retain the US Title in an okay match. The crowd was absolutely dead for this one, which made it seem worse than it was.

– The Divas match was better than I thought it would be. It still wasn’t anything special, of course. After Eve hit a moonsault on Maryse, Alicia Fox tossed her out of the ring and pinned Maryse to become the new champion. I would have liked to see Gail Kim win the belt, but that really wouldn’t have made sense.

– The six-person tag match between the Hart Dynasty and the Usos was good, but was missing something. The crowd had a lot to do with it. I thought it would have made more sense to have the Usos go over, but having Natalya pin Tamina wasn’t terrible. It continues the heat between the two tag teams, since they’re still 0-0 against each other.

– This definitely wasn’t one of WWE’s best efforts, but the matches were given the proper amount of time and the action was good. The main complaint is the length of the show and how poorly it was hyped coming in.

The NXT Invasion continues to play out on WWE Raw

WWE wisely kept the NXT angle going last night, with the group being featured throughout the episode of Raw. We got a couple decent matches and a few more announced for this Sunday’s Fatal 4 Way pay-per-view.

– I’m in the minority here, but Bret Hart just does not seem smooth on the mic at all anymore. Slipping up and saying “WWF” is no big deal, but he seems to stumble through his words a lot and say the same things over and over. It didn’t help that he was up against Wade Barrett, who is calm and cool on the stick. Barrett also mentioned that Daniel Bryan had been kicked out of the group for showing remorse, which is a decent excuse for his firing. If anything, it also will establish Bryan as a strong babyface with an ax to grind if he does come back.

I liked the opening segment, though. It got over the idea that the NXT gang has absolutely nothing to lose and it gave some explanation for their actions. The attack later in the show and subsequent brawl between the NXT guys and the WWE performers was good. It sent the message that the NXT rookies are legit threats, since Randy Orton, Edge and Sheamus came out to help. I could have done without Santino Marella being involved, but mostly because he’s just a lame comedy act.

The ending of the show, with NXT “abducting” Bret Hart and tossing him in a limo that smashed into cars like a pinball was effective. The angle is definitely the biggest thing WWE has going for them and I’m very intrigued to see if anything comes of it during the PPV, which is clearly WWE’s goal.

– The pay-per-view has basically been buried. I had to laugh when Michael Cole said a match had been added to an already huge pay-per-view, when the show only had two scheduled bouts at the time.

– The Miz v. R-Truth v. John Morrison v. Zack Ryder fourway match was good. It showed the limits of a fourway match, but they also incorporated some nice spots. I didn’t like that the whole reason for Miz winning the US Title seemed to be to show fans that anyone can win and someone can steal a pin.

It also set up a Miz v. R-Truth title rematch at the PPV.

– Speaking of which, it seemed like Cole and Lawler were treating fans like total idiots throughout the show. I understand explaining the fourway matches once, and telling how anything can happen. But to continue to harp on it made it seem like we’ve never seen a fourway match before.

– The main event, which was first a one-on-one match of Orton v. Sheamus and turned into a tag match with Cena and Edge added, was pretty good. It went about 20 minutes. You could tell, though, that the wrestlers were drawing out the ending, and we got the payoff when the NXT guys were shown attacking Hart on the jumboscreen.

– The Evan Bourne v. Chris Jericho match wasn’t anything special, but it helped to build Bourne and furthered Jericho’s “frustration angle.” I’m wondering how this will all play out, especially since Jericho was absent from the lineup of wrestlers who were “guarding” from NXT at the end of the show.

– Cena’s mid-show promo was typical fare. He came out, spoke in his country and western twang, then yelled a lot. But it did the job of building the NXT group as a legitimate threat.

– The Eve & Gail Kim v. Maryse & Alicia Fox match was worthless. Kim didn’t even tag into the match. But it did give the announcers a chance to tell us that the four women will be involved in a fourway title match at this Sunday’s show. Yawn.

– The Big Show/Main Event Mark v. Ted DiBiase/Virgil match was lame, but the crowd was into it. I admit, I got a kick out of Mark doing the worm, and Lawler saying, “We haven’t seen this in a while.” Really, though, the guest hosts need to go and this was just another example of it.

– Overall, this was an entertaining show, mostly thanks to the NXT cast. WWE is doing nothing to build to the pay-per-view, though, and is counting on the possibility that the NXT crew could disrupt it as a selling point.

WWE announces release of Daniel Bryan

WWE has announced on its website that the company has come to terms on the release of Daniel Bryan. It’s unclear right now if this is a legit firing or if this is all part of the NXT Invasion angle.

It wouldn’t make sense to get rid of Bryan right now, with the angle so hot and WWE previously investing time in his program with The Miz and Michael Cole. Dave Meltzer is reporting that the release is for real, but only after previously reporting that it was part of a storyline.

The one thing that makes no sense out of all of this, from the standpoint of the NXT Invasion, is if WWE can fire Bryan, who participated in the attack, then why wouldn’t they fire everyone involved? If the firing is legit, it opens up the can of worms I mentioned, which is why I think it might all be a work.

We’ll have to wait until Monday to see how this all plays out.

Thoughts on the season two premiere of WWE NXT

Fresh off the “NXT Invasion” angle, WWE kicked off season two of the program Tuesday night. We learned a little more about the rookies, saw two short matches, and got to re-live Monday’s drama.

– The pros and rookies brawling to end the show was a good way of furthering the NXT Invasion storyline. It gets across the point that the pros aren’t going to let the rookies disrespect them or try to “take over.” My bone to pick with it, and the whole show really, is Matt Striker. It just doesn’t make any sense for Matt Striker to be lecturing the rookies as if he’s been a five-time World Champion. Either way, it was effective in showing that there is tension in the locker room.

– I was impressed with Eli Cottonwood, not so much from a personality standpoint, but the guy gets around pretty well for someone his size. Compared to The Great Khali he looks like Rey Mysterio.

– As I’ve mentioned on Twitter, Percy Watson is like the new Johnny B. Badd. Watson, though, did show a lot of personality, as did Alex Riley.

– Michael Cole briefly mentioned that he “was able to get away” when the NXT rookies were attacking on Raw, so it will be interesting to see if he is involved somehow, or it was all just a coincidence. As Twitter pal @oldiesmike pointed out, Cole avoided answering when Josh Mathews questioned him further about the incident.

6.7.10 WWE Raw review: Not even the great ending can save this horrible show

Monday’s WWE Raw was certainly memorable for a number of reasons. For about two hours and 50 minutes, it was the worst episode of the program I can even remember. Then something happened that took us back to a time when things were a little more unpredictable and Raw would end with something compelling to stir interest and leaving you thirsting for the next show.

Wade Barrett and the rest of the NXT season one rookies came to the ring during John Cena’s bout with CM Punk and unleashed a vicious attack on Luke Gallows, Serena, Jerry Lawler, Matt Striker, Josh Mathews, ring announcer Justin Roberts, Punk, Cena, and anyone else at ringside. They literally tore apart the ring and broke the announce table, with Cena receiving the largest beatdown.

The situation was a great way to end the show and the mission was accomplished because I’m dying to see where this is all going. It has a big time nWo feel, especially because the group attacked faces and heels. Hopefully the explanation we get is a good one because this has a lot of potential.

Many people noticed that Michael Cole was able to slip away from the attack. Perhaps it will be revealed that he was behind the whole thing. That could be interesting and a great way to get him out from behind the announce table. As we saw a few weeks ago during his faceoff with Daniel Bryan, Cole has the potential to be a strong heel manager. Perhaps Jim Ross could step in and replace Cole as Raw’s lead announcer once again, although it seems unlikely at this point.

Either way, fans are talking, and while this segment didn’t save the show, it distracted from how truly awful the large portion of Raw was.

Thoughts on the rest of this pitiful show after the jump (if I can find enough adjectives to describe how bad it was):

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6.3.10 TNA Impact review

TNA continued to develop storylines and hype the upcoming Slammiversary pay-per-view with Thursday’s episode of Impact. Overall the show was entertaining, even if it did lack a lot of action. TNA is planted the seeds for a Kurt Angle-Ric Flair feud, furthered the AJ Styles-Kazarian program, and gave us a tag team match at the PPV of Jeff Hardy and Mr. Anderson v. Beer Money.

– The opening segment was a little weird but it eventually set up the main event. I didn’t understand why Eric Bischoff had the authority to come out and make a match of Sting and Matt Morgan v. Samoa Joe and Rob Van Dam but, when asked by Van Dam to change it to a fourway match, he said he had to confer with Hulk Hogan. Obviously it was just a way for Hogan to come out, say the word “stroke” so many times that I got uncomfortable, and then make the match.

I didn’t really see the point of ordering a tag match, then changing it, from a storyline standpoint, but I guess it was to show that the champion has pull? Either way, it set up a potentially good main event so it did the job.

– I like what TNA is doing with the Kazarian-AJ Styles situation right now. Having Styles basically be sent to timeout by Flair made AJ look weak, though. Having said that, it will help to further the whole thing by making it seem like Flair is siding with Kazarian. I have a feeling this will all result in the eventual face turn for Styles.

More thoughts on TNA Impact after the jump:

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A look at season two of WWE NXT

WWE announced that season two of NXT will begin next Tuesday. The roster of rookies and pros was also announced and the format has been slightly changed, with the “WWE Universe” being able to vote online. Those results will count for half of the vote, with the other half coming from the pros.

The rookies (with their pros in parenthesis) are listed below:

Husky Harris (Cody Rhodes)
Eli Cottonwood (John Morrison)
Percy Watson (MVP)
Titus O’Neil (Zack Ryder)
Kaval (LayCool)
Lucky Cannon (Mark Henry)
Michael McGillicutty (Kofi Kingston)
Alex Riley (The Miz)

– First, what the hell is up with some of these names? Husky Harris, Eli Cottonwood and Lucky Cannon are names straight out of the wild, wild west. Husky Harris is the son of Mike Rotunda (I.R.S.) and the grandson of Blackjack Mulligan. I didn’t have a huge problem with them changing his name because it fit his character, which seems to be like his uncle, Barry Windham.

Michael McGillicutty, however, is the son of Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig. He has been wrestling as Joe Hennig in FCW but WWE decided to change his name to something that does not fit at all. I understand WWE wanting to have control over the names of their performers and wanting to differentiate second- and third-generation performers from their parents, but that’s a little much.

– I’m most excited for Kaval and Joe Hennig. Kaval, or Low Ki, has been wrestling for years. You may remember him from ROH, TNA and his stints in Japan. He is certainly the most accomplished among the group and is this season’s Daniel Bryan. The difference, though, is that Michael Cole seemed to really be into Kaval.

– I don’t mind the pairing of Kaval and LayCool. Mind you, I might crap all over it after actually seeing it, but I think it might create an interesting dynamic.

– Eli Cottonwood is listed at 7’2 and is a former collegiate basketball standout. Cottonwood, whose real name is Kipp Christianson, played at St. John’s from ’93 – ’97 and was named twice to the All-Big East team.

– College football fans may be familiar with Titus O’Neil, the former Florida Gator who played defensive end under his real name, Thaddeus Bullard. Percy Watson is a flamboyant character, reminiscent of Johnny B. Badd. Alex Riley seems to be able to talk the talk and has been in FCW for about three years, so hopefully he can work in the ring too.

– The turnaround is rather fast for a new season to begin but I’m excited to see what the young guys have to offer. Hopefully WWE has worked out the kinks that plagued season one and the next incarnation will be more entertaining.