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Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Elimination Chamber 2013

May 26, 2013 | Posted by Jack Bramma
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Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Elimination Chamber 2013  

• In case, you’re the completist type, here’s what I had to say about several other Elimination Chamber PPVs and matches.

WWE New Year’s Revolution 2005

WWE No Way Out 2008

WWE No Way Out 2009

WWE Elimination Chamber 2010

WWE Elimination Chamber 2011

WWE Elimination Chamber 2012

Scheduled Card:
1. World Heavyweight Championship: Big Show vs. Alberto Del Rio (c).
2. WWE United States Championship: The Miz vs. Antonio Cesaro (c).
3. Elimination Chamber for the Number 1 Contendership for the World Heavyweight Championship: Jack Swagger vs. Kane vs. Mark Henry vs. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Chris Jericho.
4. John Cena, Sheamus, & Ryback vs. The Shield.
5. WWE Divas Championship: Tamina vs. Kaitlyn (c).
6. WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. The Rock (c).

• THE ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA IS FILLED WITH OPPORTUNITY! BUT WITH OPPORTUNITY THERE IS ALWAYS A PRICE TO PAY! THE ELIMINATION CHAMBER! We start off with some black and white chamber violence footage putting over the concept and how it can make or break the six participants tonight. Then, The Shield virally take over to send their message to Sheamus, Ryback, and Cena. And FINALLY, Hollywood Rock is back to WWE champ and CM Punk gets his rematch.

World Heavyweight Championship: Big Show vs. Alberto Del Rio (c). Show bullied Ricardo around and ADR stood up for his butler compadre and won the belt in a last man standing match on Smackdown. He then retained against Show in another LMS match at RR. This is Show’s last rematch after ADR boosted the rims off his tour bus and then dropped a bucket of orange paint on him. To hype us up for this match, King talks about the Madri Gras atmosphere in New Orleans and how everyone is ready to party. Del Rio with some new red gear tonight as Cole decides to take a different track than playing on the crowd’s desire to party to make them want to see this match. Instead, he says that ADR has never pinned the Big Show even though he’s defeated him twice. Good stuff.

• Crowd gets a slight SISISISISI chant going as we get started. Show hits the SHHHH chops and goes to the TREELIMBCLUBBINGBLOWS. JBL: “It’s not so funny now, is it, Alberto Del Rio? You steal his tires, pour paint on him… Now, all of a sudden, the repercussions happen.” Show with a big slam and ADR is toast. Cole plays up ADR’s vengeance as JBL backs him into a corner and make him defend his extra-legal activities. JBL: “You’re condoning that?!” Cole: “Whatever it takes.” Del Rio tries a superkick but Show no sells to send him into the corner. Show goes up dry on a Runaway Show Semi and ADR catches his leg for a kneebreaker. Del Rio follows up with a few yakuza kicks and he’s fired up. ADR hits another superkick for 1, 2, emphatic kickout WITH AUTHORITY! Del Rio wants the armbar but Show Pounces him for 1, 2, 2 ½.

• Show chokes for a bit and the ref tries to admonish him for using the ropes. Show: “SO?!” Short arm clothesline and Show shouts at Ricardo ringside. Show: “I TOLD YOU HE DIDN’T HAVE ANY BUSINESS IN HERE!” ADR with a head of steam but runs into a sidekick. Show preps a VaderBomb and hits a VERY soft one for 1, 2, nearfall. ADR catches Show with the armbar out of nowhere. Show tries grabbing the ropes but Ricardo pulls the ropes back in a cool spot but Show still manages to get his foot on them. ADR flies off top but Show catches him in the TREE LIMB BEARHUG! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Ricardo gets on the apron, so Show shoves ADR in the mat and saunters over to Ricardo to pick up his cornerman kit of water bottle, bucket, and towel and THROWS THEM AT RICARDO! YOU BASTARD!

• ADR tries firing up but Show no sells to try a powerbomb. ADR counters to a rana(!) and then follows out on Show with a tope suicida. Ref starts the count but Show just beats it back at 9. ADR hits the seated senton off the top. Cole: “SHADES OF MYSTERIO!” He covers for 1, 2, only 2. Cole goes back to shill and puts over ADR as a Mexican Dusty Rhodes, a people’s champ fighting for the common man and standing up to bullies. Yeah… That’s like 3 different gimmicks and none of them are very good or fit ADR well. ADR goes for another yakuza kick but runs into a ChokeSlam. Show covers for 1, 2, 2.999 as King and JBL argue over whether or not Ricardo seems ADR as his ATM and meal ticket. King is so bad as the face announcer that he just agrees with JBL. Nice. Show fires up for the KO punch but ADR rolls to the floor. TAKE THAT, BULLY!

• Show biels him back in. He wants another ChokeSlam but ADR tries a roll up. Show counters back so ADR counters again to a DDT. Cover gets 1, 2, only 2. ADR hits the step up enzuigiri in the corner for 1, 2, 2.99. JBL suspects doubt is setting in on ADR because he still can’t pin Showster. ADR goes to the flying armbar. Cole: “IT’S ALL ABOUT GOING TO WRESTLEMANIA AS WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION!” Show powers up for the Rampage Powerbomb. Show wants the KO punch again as JBL compares him to “a giant Bob Backlund.” I’d be more impressed if he was a below average Ric Flair. Ricardo tries to distract but Show shoves him off the apron. JBL: “GOODBYE STOOGE!” Show picks up the bucket and ADR sneaks him with the step up enzuigiri but he botches it and kills the finish and even the crowd groans a bit. Show continues holding the bucket and ADR repeats the spot. Another superkick, enzuigiri, and armbar finish Show at 13:06.

• The ending hurts, but even if executed perfectly, the match is still workmanlike. Competent but unenthusiastic. The story was “ADR’s never pinned Big Show” and well he still hasn’t. I get that submission > pinfall, but why focus all the story on a pinfall if that isn’t the finish. Plus, JBL is so overpowering and better as the heel commentator that King and Cole can’t even tow the company line appropriately. In fairness, it might be easier if they had better material than recasting ADR as championing the middle class work ethic of fighting bullies and paying bills on time, but probably not. **3/4

WWE United States Championship: The Miz vs. Antonio Cesaro (c). Hey look, it’s when Cesaro was still winning matches. Instead of talking much about the champ or letting him greet us in five languages, we get some PR fluff from Rock’s co-stars in the GI Joe sequel. Miz turned face back in the fall after he was supposed to be on Punk’s SS team against Foley’s team, but that plan was scrapped and Miz told Heyman and Punk he was outta there and then teamed up against some heels in the main event in his home state of Ohio and that was that. The week before this on RAW, Cesaro attacked Miz from behind in a match against Cody Rhodes and then Big Swung him into the barricade a dozen times, so Miz is nursing hurt shoulders.

• Miz with a hot start of rights and elbows. Cesaro tries a shitcan but Miz baseball slides back in for a roll up for 1, 2, only 2. Cesaro goes to work with the shoulder surges but Miz blocks one with another roll up and a high knee. Cesaro gets the knee up in the corner ON THE BAD ARM! He catches Miz trying a leap frog and then hits a hammerlock-assisted shoulderbreaker. MY MAN! Cesaro puts the boots to the arms and works an Americana. AC sends him off but Miz gets a knee to the gut and the Batista kick for 2. BACKTOTHEARM and some GnP from Cesaro. Cesaro knuckle-locks Miz into picking him up and then armbreaking him on the way down and to a short arm scissors. A Let’s Go Miz chant dies quickly as Cesaro clotheslines him back down. The commentary is putting over Cesaro’s toughness but the majority of even the stuff about him is his dissatisfaction with Miz and Americans who care more about reality shows and being famous than talent or ability. Cesaro breaks the arm across the ropes for another 2 count and goes back to twisting the arm into a pretzel. Miz gets the boot up in the corner, hits a yakuza kick, and stomps a mudhole in the corner. Miz hits the La-Z Boy clothesline in the corner and heads up top. Miz leaps off into a FUJIWARA ARMBAR! WOO! Miz stacks up Cesaro for 1, 2, 2 ½. Miz dumps out AC with a backdrop. Miz leaps off the apron but AGAIN Cesaro catches him. Miz ducks behind though and drives Cesaro into the stairs knee-first. JBL mentions that has extra special significance because he doesn’t wear kneepads. Cole: “HE’S A THROWBACK! OLD SCHOOL IN MANY WAYS!” Back in, Miz clips the knee and hits his DDT for 1, 2, only 2. Cesaro boots the arm away but Miz dropkicks the knee for payback. Good stuff. The crowd senses the Figure Four. Cesaro fights it and trips up Miz right into a faceplant low blow spot. Cesaro alerts Charles Robinson to the low blow and he calls for the bell at 8:22. Cesaro wins by DQ.

• Post-match, Miz is all YEAH I LOW BLOWED HIM, BUT THAT SHIT DON’T COUNT! JBL is the only one who paid attention in wrestling school. JBL: “Unintentional or not, it’s against the rules. Charles Robinson made the right call.” They review the tape and Miz is still whining about losing, so he punts Cesaro to the stones once more for good measure and dumps him out. PLAY HIS MUSIC!

• Good match with a terrible ending. With the right guy, Miz can hold up his end and Cesaro is one of the right guys. With a few more minutes and a better ending, we’re into the upper echelon near ****. Still good psychology and selling both ways. ***

• The blowoff to this was on RAW so let’s take a look.

No Disqualification Match: The Miz vs. Antonio Cesaro. RAW 02/18/13. Non-title because of course. Miz with a quick takedown and clotheslines Cesaro to the floor. Miz hits a REAL WORLD TEN BACK TO NEWYORK HAMMER off the apron. Miz goes for a toss into the barricade but Cesaro boots the bad shoulder and Miz gets reintroduced into the barricade. Cesaro hammerlocks Miz and throws him into the ringpost. King tries to say that Cesaro has no integrity due to his ringside attacks IN A NO DQ MATCH! Meanwhile, Cesaro breaks out a chair and a Kendo stick. Cesaro waffles him to the bad arm for 1, 2, only 2. Cesaro hits a bit of an Elijah Express in the corner. Miz fights back and rolls up Cesaro for 1, 2, only 2. Cesaro BLASTS Miz to the face with the Kendo stick for another nearfall. AC puts the chair in place and then wraps it around Miz’s around to strength the Strangle Hold Gamma. AC hits the mini-Pillmanizer and goes to an Americana again. Miz fires up and it takes him a beat but hits his double neckbreaker. NO! Cesaro counters the second and sends him into the chair propped up in the corner BAD ARM FIRST! Cesaro ties up Miz in the corner for some stiffff Euro uppercuts as Cole confuses English for German. Cesaro with a charge but Miz moves and Cesaro eats the chair on his bad leg. Miz drop toe holds him into the chair and locks in the F4. Cesaro taps abruptly at 3:39. It’s like a good match on fast-forward, but it gets the benefit of the built-in psychology from the previous night. It’s still pretty ridiculous that Cesaro would tap off a submission with no direct knee work other than at the PPV. If you combine these 4 minutes with the PPV’s 8 minutes, you’ve got a great match. As is, it’s like two halves of a great match. **1/4

• Meanwhile, Kane is still giving DB the silent treatment in the back after their RR rift. DB says he should be upset at Kane not the other way around. He wants to know why Kane is grumpy. Kane plays back saying that DB looks like a dwarf. TAKE THAT, GOATFACE! Kane is all emo because he’s never been in the main event of Wrestlemania and tonight, he has a shot at making his dream come true. The match is a big deal for Kane. DB says they should work together until it’s just them two left at the end. HUG IT OUT, BITCHES! Nice segment.

Elimination Chamber for the Number 1 Contendership for the World Heavyweight Championship: Jack Swagger vs. Kane vs. Mark Henry vs. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Chris Jericho. Tremendous video package putting over the EC as the last chance to main event WM and the most brutal match in wrestling. Cole says Swagger was so impressive that Book had to put him in the match. Swagger: “WHEN I HOLD THE MICROPHONE, I HOLD THE POWERRRR! WHEN I USE THE MICROPHONE, I USE IT TO SHOWER YOU WITH TRUTH!” Yeah, better leave all that power of truthiness to Zeb. Jack gives Zeb a round of applause as Zeb calls New Orleans “a den of inequity.” We get some backstory as Zeb says he spent a year in Vietnam with Swagger’s dad. Zeb basically says he fought in Vietnam so Swagger could win the elimination chamber. I’ll call that a net loss. Orton has been in several EC’s but never won one. DB retained the world title last year in an EC. Jericho has been in the most EC’s and back in 2010 eliminated Undertaker last to win the WHW championship.

• Jericho and Dragon to start. Y2J chant. Jericho with some armdrags early and a headlock TD to take control. DB comes up dry on a dropkick and Jericho goes for the Walls but DB goes to the arm to counter to the No Lock. Jericho rolls through back to the WoJ attempt. DB leg whips him into the corner for the DR FG’s as King monologues the long way around for a punchline of “goat’s gloat.” Jericho gets the boot up in the corner but DB flips up and over only to get shitcanned out to the grating. DB tries to suplex Jericho out but Jericho slides behind. They continue blocking cage shots until DB goes back to the No Lock only for Jericho to catapult DB into the cage. Back in, back suplex gets 1, 2, only 2.

4 minutes in and Swagger is next. He shoots for the double leg and dumps Jericho. Running knee in the corner and Swagger hits the VaderBomb for a nearfall. Cole puts over how Swagger is a real American because he doesn’t sit around collecting government checks, but takes what he wants. Swagger rams Dragon into the cage and hits another running knee. Swagger lightly grinds DB into the grating but turns around into a Jericho dropkick. Jericho lazily boots away in the corner and then slowly waits for Swagger to walk out of the way so he can Stinger Splash himself into the ringpost. Not a bad idea but the execution is very blah so far. Swagger knees Jericho several times as King puts over the renewed fire and fervor in Swagger. DB is back with a flying knee off the top. Swaggers for a bit while DB suplexes Jericho over and heads up top. He whiffs on the diving headbutt and Jericho covers for 2.

Kane enters the fray at 8:20. The backstage talk must have worked because Hell No is teaming up. Kane stacks up Swagger and Jericho in the corner for a Ho Train. Then he whips DB in for the combo IED. Kane hits a basement dropkick on Swagger and tosses him to the grating. Dragon sneaks Kane with a roll up for 1 and HE DONE FUCKED UP NOW! DB pulls Hug it Out therapy allegiance and says they gotta let the H-U-G’s breathe and Hug. It. Out. They NO/YES their way into fighting it out instead with DB piefacing Kane. Kane charge but eats turnbuckle. DB hits another IED and goes to the DR FG’s. Kane ducks the enzuigiri and goozles him. DB escapes but runs into a sideslam for 1, 2, only 2. Kane heads up but DB crotches him. Jericho joins them but hoists up DB and Kane hits the DOOMSDAY DEVICE! Swagger sneaks a pinfall on DB for a nearfall. Kane and Swagger pair off as Kane blocks a suplex and hits one for 2. Cole: “I almost said he floated into the corner, but Kane doesn’t float.”

No eliminations and Orton is the next entrant at 12:40. THE APEX PREDATOR IS IN THE HUNT! He clubs Swagger out to the grating and pounds down Jericho. Orton hits the Bluechipper dropkick on Kane and rebounds suplexes DB off the ropes. Kane goozles Orton but Orton slides behind and shoves him into the grating and hits the apron DDT on the grating. Decent spot. At least, Orton sells the spot as well. Jericho and Orto hit stereo superplexes on DB and Swagger. Cooler than it sounds but still a nice thought. Mark Henry is fired up and ready to go while everyone is done selling.

The horn sounds for Henry at 16:00. Everyone feeds him into for headbutts and CLUBBINGBLOWS. World’s Strongest Slam and DB joins the Hall of Pain at 16:36. Henry turns his attention to Orton, who Cole calls his arch rival after their series back in 2011. Henry shoves Orton into the bulletproof, lexane glass and unfortunately we don’t get Lawler saying, “That pod isn’t Mark Henry-proof!” We’ll have to settle for Henry saying THAT’SWHATIDO! Kane is up and now it’s the battle of the behemoths. Henry misses a charge and eats a Ho Train from Kane. Kane hits another and heads up top for a SEE NO EVIL DENISTRY HAMMER but Henry catches him(!) and hits the World’s Strongest Slam. Kane’s out at 18:22.

• Jericho tries his luck and quickly gets disposed of whilst Swagger talks over strategy with Zeb. Jericho ducks behind Henry and he and Swagger team up to ram Henry into the cage several times. They prep and hit a DOUBLE SUPLEX ON THE WORLD’S STRONGEST MAN! Cole: “Did you hear the thud of Henry’s 400-pound frame?” Jericho clotheslines Swagger in and tries a crossbody for 1, 2, 2 ½. Swagger tries a DoctorBomb but Jericho blocks. Swagger twists out of the WoJ like everyone but still eats a bulldog. Jericho wants the Lionsault but HENRY IS UP! HE CHOKES JERICHO AND LAUNCHES JERICHO INTO THE CHAINS! THAT’SSSSS WHAT HE DOOOOOO! Henry press slams Jericho onto Swagger. He drags the carcasses of both over to the corner because it’s feeding time. He preps a VaderBomb on both but they both roll out of the way. Yakuza kick and Codebreaker and Henry is staggered. ORTON’S UP! RKO! 1, 2, 3 and Henry’s out at 23:20.

• Still a strong showing for Henry as he leaves to a solid round of applause. Nice moment. BUT WAIT! HE STORMS BACK IN! Cole: “SOMEONE’S GOTTA GET HIM OUT OF THE CHAMBER!” King: “… Yeah… you go.” JBL: “YEAH! You go, Michael!” WORLD’S STRONGEST SLAMS FOR EVERYONE! That brings out several refs and Book and Teddy to help thug ‘n bug Mizark to the back. After some selling, Swagger hooks the leg on Orton for 1, 2, 2.9. Swagger puts the boots to both before Orton and Jericho team up on him. They send him into the ringpost. Orton clotheslines Jericho down twice only for Jericho to come back with shoulderblocks. Jericho flies off the top into a dropkick from Orton. Orton covers for 1, 2, only 2. Swagger in to eat a powerslam and another for Jericho. Orton preps a DDT but Jericho double jump dropkicks him for 1, 2, 2.99. Swagger blocks the Codebreaker and hits a belly to belly suplex. Cover gets 1, 2, nearfall. Orton tries to block the VaderBomb with a boot but Swagger grabs the leg for the Patriot Act. Jericho breaks it up with an enzuigiri. Swagger NO SELLS! PATRIOT ACT ON JERICHO! Jericho rolls through back to the WoJ. Jericho locks it in for the first time this match. Orton stops that with a neckbreaker stupidly because it would eliminate Swagger which would help Orton but he doesn’t care according to Cole: “It’s about pride! INDIVIDUAL PRIDE!” Orton covers for 2. Swagger gets dumped out to the grating and Jericho too. Double apron DDT. Orton fires up. Jericho blocks the RKO! KNEES UP ON THE LIONSAULT! RKO! 1, 2, 3 and Jericho hits the showers at 31:13.

Swagger sneaks Orton with a School Boy for 1, 2, 3 to win at 31:19. JACK SWAGGER’S AMERICA IS UPON US!

• A very good match but one that is paint-by-the-numbers for the first two segments. It’s very pedestrian until Kane comes in for the requisite Hell No comic relief, but everything after Mark Henry comes in is MOTYC territory. He gets to looks like a boss dismantling and pinning both tag champs back-to-back in dominant fashion. Orton seems to have graduated into the Triple H role in these matches – take one hard shot into the glass, sell that for half the match, come back to pin a few guys, if heel, win with a weapon shot, if face, lose on a fluke roll up. Swagger, on the other hand, gets to eliminate just one guy and it’s with a roll up and it just so happens to come at the end of a 30 minute match to crown a number 1 contender for Mania. If that kind of finish does it for you and cements a guy as a bona fide contender, you’re a better fan than me. Winning a match like the EC or the RR or the MITB ladder match should mean something and Swagger managed to do it and the WWE made it feel like nothing. ****1/4

John Cena, Sheamus, & Ryback vs. The Shield. This like all of the Shield’s feuds so far was based on them entering the arena and maiming main eventers at will. No real story or noticeable progression to the next chapter, but I can always get behind a group of badasses who just want to beat people up. As the Shield come down, Lawler says that we’ve seen them enter from under the ring and from the rafters in addition to seeing them come through the crowd. Maybe the under the ring thing was at SS when they debuted, but I never remember them entering “from the rafters.”

• No SWAT team roll from Rollins this time as instead they feed into a beatdown on the floor from all the faces. The good guys bring them in for a triple stereo hanging suplex. Cool spot and now we’ve got order restored as it’s Sheamus starting off with Ambrose. Ambrose pounds away in the corner but eats a Harpoon from Sheamus and a knee lift. Sheamus: “GOODBYE DEAN!” Sheamus goes for the shitcan but Ambrose hangs on only to set up the CLUBBINGBLOWBARRAGE. Rollins tries to break it up only to get piefaced to the floor. Sheamus tears off Ambrose’s Bossman gear to expose the chest to finish the barrage. Sheamus flies to the floor with a shoulder tackle on Rollins. He slides back in Ambrose but comes face-to-face with Reigns for the showdown, but they don’t come to blows yet. That allows Ambrose to take over with a Batista kick. He lunges and tags in Reigns for the LARIATO on the floor on Sheamus. Reigns: “YOU AIN’T DOING NOTHIN’, FOOL!” Back in, Reigns stomps away and tags in the rest of the gang for some heat as JBL namedrops them in the company of the Freebirds and the Horsemen. Rollins hits a dropkick for 2 and then goes to a lying Tazzmission with a body triangle. He drives Sheamus into the corner and tags in Ambrose for more pounding away as Cole calls him “eccentric” which makes me imagine him painting Jackson Pollack ripoffs while humming to Neutral Milk Hotel on the weekends.

• ANYWAY, the ref pulls Ambrose away and that allows Sheamus to hit a desperation bicycle kick to get some space. That’s odd as that’s usually a heel spot but Sheamus is basically a heel in face’s clothing anyway and I like that the SuperMegaPowers need to resort to heel tactics to even keep it a level playing field against the Shield. Tag to Cena for the shoulderblocks and a ProtoBomb on an entering Reigns. 5KS follows and Reigns is up for the FU but Rollins is in. Cena dismisses him to the floor and rolls Reigns into the STF instead. But Ambrose breaks THAT up and Rollins comes flying back in with a sweet top rope knee drop. JBL: “I’ll tell ya what, this is the greatest three man team the business has ever seen.” King: “Wait a minute.” JBL: “EVER!” Reigns covers for a 2 count. Reigns with a hard whip and Cena goes down in a heap. Cole continues towing the company line trying to act like The Shield have an unfair advantage, but JBL sets him straight and coins a word for their advantage – teamwork. Cole: “The problem with the Shield, King, is that they’re frenzied, they’re chaotic. Once you got one down, the others come at you. Like I said before, they’re like a group of hornets coming at you.” JBL: “What’s the problem with that? That’s what you do. These guys somehow have the ability to turn numbers on their side when it’s 3-on-3 and it should be even.” OH MY BROOOOOTTTTHHHHHHHHER, TESTIFY! Ambrose tags in for an elbow drop and covers for 2. Rollins tags in to talk trash: “YOU’RE THE PROBLEM! YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN THE PROBLEM!” Cena no sells but runs into a Bluechipper dropkick for 2. Rollins follows up with a Stinger Splash in the corner and throws down Cena like a piece of trash.

• Cue up the dueling chants as Ambrose tags back in. Ambrose smacks Cena around and they all team up for an Air Rollins and a Reigns clothesline. They should use that as a signature move or a false finish and deem it the Air Raid. Reigns covers for nothing as Sheamus breaks it up. Reigns eyeballs Sheamus back into the corner with the ref’s help and they have seriously got me wanting to see Sheamus and Reigns get their hands on each other just based on a couple staredowns. The crowd starts chanting for Ryback to FEED HIM MORE as Reigns hits a Samoan drop. TOTHECHINLOCK! Cena reaches for the hot tag but then collapses under the weight of this shitty chinlock. Sorry, Reigns, but you can’t apply a chinlock like that and be a main eventer, just ask Cena how that STF worked out for him. Nevermind. Cena counters out with a back suplex. Cena gets to his feet but runs into a kick from Reigns and he tags Ambrose back in. Neckbreaker gets 2 for Ambrose and he goes to the inverted triangle choke as King tries to reignite the HUAC Red Scare, commie hunt except this time for Shield supporters. Cole: “They have completely neutralized Cena and taken him out of the game by taking him away from his partners.” JBL: “They’ve managed to turn numbers in their favor. It’s 3-on-3 and somehow managed to keep it 3-on-1. I tell ya–” King: “You guys are REALLY Shield supporters.” Cole: “[stammering] I’m not a supporter, King.” King: “SOUNDS LIKE IT!” Cole:[frantic] I’m..just…UGHHH… I’m just ahhh-a-a-a-mazed at what they’re doing in this match up here. Sorry, I will name names of the Shield supporters, so you can blacklist and blackball them from the WWE Universe.” OK, I made up that last sentence.

• ANYWAY, Cena stands up out of the choke into the Electric Chair position but Ambrose slides out for a BEAUTIFUL Whiplash DDT. Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. FEEDMEMOREFEEDMEMORE! Crowd wants Ryback as Cena dumps out Ambrose. TAG TO RYBACK! He cleans house with backdrops. THE MONSTER COMETH says Cole. Powerbomb to Rollins and then he scoops up Ambrose to just throw him into the corner on Rollins in a dangerous spot. Ryback fires up BUT WAIT! Reigns tackles him and FINALLY we get the Sheamus-Reigns faceoff they’ve been teasing the whole match. It’s a donnybrook as Ambrose and Sheamus peel off to the floor. MY GOODNESS! REIGNS SPEARS SHEAMUS THROUGH THE BARRICADE! Back in, Rollins flies off the top but Ryback catches him. He preps a press slam but Ambrose breaks it up. They all pound down Ryback for the triple powerbomb but Cena is up and pulls Reigns out to the floor. Cena hits the FU on Ambrose and Ryback wants the Shellshock on Rollins. Reigns is in. SPEAR ON RYBACK! Ambrose falls on top for 1, 2, 3 to win it for Shield at 15:34.

• All booking and intensity and match layout. When the Shield are in the ring as individuals going through their series of forearms, headbutts, and chokes, the match and concept loses some of its effectiveness. But when they use combo offense and outsmart the corporate-engineered super teams, it works in spades. The Shield are booked like a big deal and Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback sell and bump for them like big deals and they win big deal matches like a big deal; therefore, they are a big deal. This should be brought up in a writing or booking meeting next time someone wonders guys like Barrett, Sandow, Ziggler, or Swagger are afterthoughts to your average fan despite having belts and promo time. ***3/4

• Post-match, Ryback walks off pissed and won’t even look at Cena or Sheamus. FORESHADOWING!

• Next, Dolph is out with AJ and Big E in tow. He has stick-in-hand and complains about not being on the card. He trashes “Swags” for thinking he’ll get the belt now and corrects him that the MITB briefcase is the only title shot that guarantees victory. He says you might as well call the cops because he’s stolen more shows than this year’s HOF class combined, NO OFFENSE! That brings out Book and he punishes Dolph’s arrogance with a match against Kofi Kingston.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston. Kofi escapes a headlock early with a headscissors and a dropkick. He monkey flips Ziggler out of the corner for the Morrison bump. Kofi rushes in but Ziggler sidesteps and Kofi eats ringpost. Bluechipper dropkick from Dolph gets 2. We go to the chinlock at 1 minute in. Kofi fights in and avoids a backdrop and leapfrogs over Dolph. He goes for another but Dolph catches him in the Sleeper. Kofi gets the ropes and tosses Dolph out. Big E comes to the rescue and takes the brunt of a Kofi suicide dive for Team Ziggler. Big E no sells to distract the ref. AJ slaps Kofi behind the ref’s back. Ziggler moves in for the kill but Kofi slides behind for a Trouble in Paradise. Cover gets 1, 2, nearfall to no reaction. Big E pulls Dolph to the floor to regroup and AGAIN takes the biggest damage from a Kofi plancha. Cool spot. Back in, Kofi springboards with a crossbody for 1, 2, 2 ½. Kofi heads up top but Dolph crotches him and takes over with a GORDBUSTER ON THE TURNBUCKLE! Zig Zig follows. Cole: “SEEYABYE!” Cover gets 1, 2, 3 to win at 3:56. These FF matches are almost always entertaining if completely inconsequential. **1/2

• Post-match, Big E takes out the trash with a Ho Train and the Greetings from Asbury Park ribbreaker on Kofi. The crowd wants ONE MORE TIME but Big E denies the request to the biggest heel heat of the match.

• Meanwhile, we stall for a bit as we replay the Tons of Funk squashing the Rhodes Scholar and then shill some awful toys, while Cole and King download phone apps. Tensai wants to know where his toy is and Funk clowns him saying that scribbling on his face is too much for action figures. Tensai frowns and says it’s probably just a sushi menu anyway. The Funkettes smack his ass, drop the lights, and then we all dance to cheer up Sweet T and sell some toys. No, really.

WWE Divas Championship: Tamina vs. Kaitlyn (c). Earlier tonight, Kaitlyn said she didn’t dodge spider monkeys and Tonya Hardings all last year to lose to Tamina. She’ll either way or crawl out as champ tonight. Lockup goes nowhere so they start shoving. Tamina wins that before Kaitlyn takes her down into a front facelock. Kaitlyn with a snap suplex into a roll up for a fleeting 2 count. Tamina bails out for a rope break. Kaitlyn backslides her for another nearfall before dropkicking her to the floor. Kaitlyn baseball slides her up the aisle before tossing her back in. Tamina cuts her off and sends her into the ringpost. Tamina poses to a mixed reaction. Back in, Tamina with the FOOT TO THE FACE for 2. Tamina hits a Samoan drop and heads up top for the Superfly Splash. Kaitlyn avoids and Spears her for 1, 2, 3 to retain at 3:17. Decent enough. *1/2

WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. The Rock (c). If Rock gets DQ’ed or counted out, he loses the belt. This all started last summer when Punk took offense at Rock upstaging him, so he made him Go to Sleep. That sent Punk into the stratosphere as a cheap heat icon but his run was ended at RR after Vinnie Mac reversed the decision, restarted the match and Rock dethroned Punk with a single People’s Elbow. Personally, I think the WWE had a major missed opportunity with this feud, especially the rematch. After he lost, Punk should have kept counting the days every week as part of his reign and even carrying around the old belt – basically what Rock did heading into Backlash 99 against Austin. Unfortunately, they never went full steam ahead with it. Don’t get me wrong, on paper, Rock vs Punk twice, Cena wins RR, Cena-Rock II, Punk-Undertaker should have been some of the easiest TV to book and yet it was mostly boring and only produced only fleeting glances of greatness – Punk/Taker, Punk/Cena on RAW, boxing with God, etc.

• ANYWAY, awesomely, Punk forces Justin Roberts to announce him as “The People’s Champ” and Roberts does so unenthusiastically. JBL and Cole go back and forth over whether or not Punk deserves respect and all Cole has got is, “HE’S NOT CHAMP ANYMORE!” Sounds reasonable. Cole tries to save some face by punning his way back into our hearts: “Tonight the star of GI Joe will get some retaliation!”

• Sizable “Rocky Sucks” chant at the bell but one that dies quickly. After some feeling out, crowd tries a LET’S GO ROCKY but that is overwhelmed by the louder, dueling chant of CM PUNK. Punk with an early shoulderblock and revels in glory. Punk with a headlock and gets sent off but still bowls over Rock again. Heyman: “TWO POINTS FOR YOU! TWO TO NOTHING! OH, I LOVE MY JOB!” Punk with another shoulderblock and then FLIPS OFF ROCKY! WOOOOOOOOOO!

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• Rock comes back with armdrags and Punk bails out for a breather. Back in, Punk goes eye-to-eye to jaw at Rock and Rock pummels him in the corner. Cole smartly brings up that Punk’s strategy is to draw Rock into the DQ so he’ll lose the belt. Chioda is forcing a break and threatening the DQ early. Good stuff. Punk then figures he’ll up the ante and SPIT IN THE FACE OF THE GREAT ONE! WOOOOO! Rock is PISSED!

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• He shitcans Punk out for a big clothesline on the floor. Rock tosses him into the announce table but Punk gets a glimmer of hope with an eye gouge. Back in, Punk takes over with a clothesline of his own. Neckbreaker gets 1, 2, only 2. Punk goes to a chinlock as the fans come back with more dueling chants. Rock tries to power up but Punk uses the tights to pull him back down. Cool spot that’ll still let Rock get a breather. Sometimes, it’s the little things. Punk drops a few elbow for a fleeting 1 count. Back to the choke. Punk: “IT’S A CHINLOCK!” OK, OK, back to the chinlock as JBL brings up that Heyman used to manage Rick Rude and led him to various WCW championships. Cole completely ignores him to talk about the Wrestlemania sign, but that doesn’t stop Lawler from working in his Extremely Crappy Wrestling joke.

• Rock elbows free but runs into a leg lariat for another 2 count. Snap suplex gets another 2 as we go to another chinlock. Rock punches free but runs into a boot in the corner. Punk slingshots in for another clothesline for 1, 2, nearfall. MOOOOARRRCHINLOCK! NO! CRAVAT INSTEAD! Actually, no, it’s just a chinlock. That’s three straight chinlocks for those scoring at home. Take a drink. The crowd ain’t exactly digging this right now. Cole: “Rock has not been in the ring a ton the last number of months, so CM Punk trying to take advantage of that.” JBL: “One thing you want to do when you’re in an away game like CM Punk is in every single arena in the world, you want to take the crowd out of it. Rock feeds so much off this WWE universe. You wanna quiet them, you wanna get Rock down, you wanna wear him down and find a way to beat him.” Cole: “And again, to your point, the fans have had a tough time getting into it here for a good portion of the match.” Lawler: “Rock’s having a tough time getting into it. Punk’s gone from a side headlock to a reverse chinlock…” Rock punches his way free and this time blocks the boot in the corner for more punches. Decent callback but they need more than that. Punk avoids the Spit Punch for the step up knee in the corner. Punk follows up with another step up knee. He mounts the top rope and checks his pulse to indeed confirm that it’s CLOBBERIN’ TIME! MACHO ELBOW! 1, 2, 2 ½. Punk shitcans Rock out as JBL talks about Rock’s box office prowess. Thanks for that. Rock no sells to send Punk into the announce table. Back in, Rock preps the Bottom but Punk ducks under for the Enzuigiri. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.99. Punk dumps him out and Rock is TOAST.

• Heyman argues the count and that allows Punk to set Rock up on the announce table for the PUNK BOTTOM! THE TABLE DOESN’T BREAK! Heyman finally releases and Chioda starts the count. 1! 2! 3! 4! 5! Rock’s back is hurt! 6! 7! 8! Rock is crawling! 9! Rock slides under the bottom rope right into the waiting GnP arms of Punk. Punk blows a kiss to Rock’s mom and says “THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!” Rock cuts him off with the Samoan drop but is too out of it to capitalize. This is where in the old days Rock would have kipped up, but no dice on the new Bane Rock. Double KO spot gets us to 9. They both get to their feet for the slug it out spot. Rock wins that one with a burrito and DDT. Rock waits to pounce for the Bottom. Punk elbows out with several MMA elbows. Nice. Punk tries springboarding in with another clothesline but Rock catches him in the Rock Bottom. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.999. Heyman: “YOU KICKED OUT OF THE ROCK BOTTOM! THIS IS YOUR TIME!” Punk rolls to the floor to regroup. Punk uses Heyman’s distraction to vault Rock into the Chioda for the bump. G2S! NO REF! The Punk contingent starts a count and gets up to 15 before it dies. Another ref comes out and finally gets in the ring just in time to see Rock hit a Spinebuster. People’s Elbow follows for 1, 2, 2.999999999999999999999. Crowd bought that one. In his desperation, Punk rolls out of the way but backs onto the new ref’s leg and sprains his ankle. Punk hits another enzuigiri and everyone is down. Punk up and signals Heyman for the belt. Heyman holds Rock in place, but Rock sidesteps and Punk waffles Heyman with the belt. Rock Bottom! Chioda recovers to count the 1, 2, 3 for Rock to retain at 20:54.

• Rock’s best singles match and probably best match period since the comeback but that’s not saying much. The SS tag match with Cena against Awesome Truth is all hype and personality, but still doesn’t involve Rock laying around out of breath for half the match, so it’s not ridiculous to say it’s the best match involving him so far. They had a couple decent callbacks with Rock blocking the kick in the corner and countering the springboard clothesline and Punk getting to kick out of the People’s Elbow this time, but the heat is middling and geared down for Rock’s pacing limitations. I hope Rock’s got a better match in him before he calls it quits, but we’re probably not seeing it unless we see him against Daniel Bryan (because of talent), Triple H (because of chemistry), or Undertaker (because of The Streak). ***1/4

The 411: An excellent EC match that is a worthy entry in the genre, if subsequently hurt by the shaky booking of Swagger. The Shield tag match is very good and foreshadows Ryback's heel turn somewhat. Even the abbreviated midcard matches between Cesaro/Miz and Ziggler/Kofi are entertaining. But when Punk/Rock feels like just another match, it's hard to go but so high.
Final Score:  7.0   [ Good ]  legend

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