AT&T Center – San Antonio, Texas – Sunday, October 23, 2011
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Booker T are on commentary.
MATCH #1: WWE Tag Team Title Match – Air Boom vs. Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger
This is also a rematch from Hell in a Cella few weeks ago. Ziggler and Swagger are accompanied by Vickie Guerrero. Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne have been the Champions since 8.22.11, and this is their fourth defense. The United States Champion Ziggler and the man he took that title from (Kingston) start the match. Air Boom take the early control and wear Ziggler down. The commentators question the wisdom of having the guy who has to wrestle a second match start it off, which is unusually insightful for that gang of idiots. Swagger tags in and the Champs keep up the advantage. Kingston tries a cross body block but Swagger catches him and slams him hard to the mat. Ziggler comes in and now the challengers have the advantage. After a brief time Bourne gets the hot tag and he shows off his high flying skills. I’m just waiting for Cole to call him “swashbuckling.” Bourne goes up top for Air Bourne but Swagger gets his knees up. That gives Swagger and Ziggler control again and they isolate Bourne in their half of the ring. After a few minutes Swagger goes for the Vader Bomb and Bourne kicks him right in the face. Tags are made and Kingston is a house afire. Kingston hits Ziggler with the SOS for a two-count. Swagger enters the ring illegally and Bourne comes in to take him out. Ziggler rolls Kingston up for two, and Kingston gets up and decks Ziggler with Trouble in Paradise. Bourne goes up and lands Air Bourne to get the pin at 13:23. That was an excellent opener, with four great athletes doing the tag team formula to perfection. I really thought these two teams would help lead the renaissance of tag team wrestling in WWE but it was not to be. These four just clicked.
MATCH #2: WWE United States Title Match – Dolph Ziggler vs. Zack Ryder
Ziggler has been the champion since 6.19.11, and this is his fourth defense. Air Boom stay out at ringside to be in Ryder’s corner, while Vickie and Swagger stay with Ziggler. Ryder comes in all pumped up and he takes the early control over the worn down Champion. Ziggler tries to take a breather on the floor but the Tag Team Champions throw him back in the ring. The referee then kicks Kingston and Bourne out of the arena! That’s the right call. Back in the ring Ryder resumes control but Ziggler won’t give in. Ryder misses a cross body block and bounces back off the ropes. That gives Ziggler control and he goes to work on the self-proclaimed Internet Champion. Ryder comes back and tries the Broski Boot but Ziggler avoids it and hits the Fame-Ass-Er for two. Ziggler charges into the corner but Ryder gets his boots up and then hits the Broski boot. Swagger distracts Ryder long enough for Ziggler to land a nice Superkick and that’s enough for Ziggler to get the pin at 6:04. That was more like a RAW match, but hey look, Ryder on a pay-per-view!
MATCH #3: WWE Divas Title Match – Beth Phoenix vs. Eve Torres
Interim General Manager John Laurinaitis has decided that Kelly Kelly and Natalya are banned from ringside after a backstage altercation earlier today. Phoenix has been the Champion since 10.2.11, and this is her first defense. Both women get aggressive right from the get-go, exchanging strikes and such. Eve shows her crafty side by using Beth’s own gear to handcuff her to the ropes. Beth escapes and puts a beating on Eve, taking her to the floor and press slamming her off the barricade. Back in the ring Beth continues the advantage, wearing Eve down with her power and strength advantage. Eve fights back with kicks and a flying clothesline. She follows with a somersault senton for two. Eve throws in some submission holds but Beth is able to fight her way back. Beth goes for the Glam Slam but Eve counters out of it and rolls Beth up for a near-fall! The crowd popped for that. Moments later Eve misses a moonsault from the top rope and Beth hits the Glam Slam for real to get the pin at 7:18. These two have good chemistry and they tore it up out there. The offense was crisp and believable, and the finishing sequence with the Glam Slam counter was awesome. They could have gone longer.
MATCH #4: Sheamus vs. Christian
This is another rematch from Hell in a Cell. Sheamus won that and it was a good match. The Celtic Warrior picks up where he left off, throwing Christian around the ring and slugging him down in the corner. Sheamus hits the forearms in the ropes and a big vertical suplex for two. Christian is able to fight back and he targets Sheamus’ neck. He hits a missile dropkick from the second rope but then misses a diving headbutt from the top. That swings the momentum back over to Sheamus, and he’s fired up. Christian cuts him off and sends him to the floor, but Sheamus comes back in with a slingshot shoulder block. Sheamus tries a knee lift but Christian avoids it and hits the inverted DDT for a one-count. They continue to trade control back and forth, but when Christian tries a cross body block Sheamus is able to catch him in the Irish Curse for a near-fall. Sheamus goes for the Brogue Kick but Christian catches him with a Spear! That gets two. They fight up on the ropes and Christian brings Sheamus down with a rana. Christian goes for another Spear but this time Sheamus turns the tables and cuts Christian off with a Brogue Kick to get the pin at 10:39. I like how that finish worked out, and these two had another very good match. None of it ever really meant anything, but they were enjoyable.
MATCH #5: Triple H & CM Punk vs. Awesome Truth
Punk and Miz will start the match. They do very little and then tags are made. HHH and Punk control the early portions of the match, actually working pretty well together and keeping their opponents on the defensive. Miz and Truth try to fight back but they’re simply no match for the awesome power of The Game. Just as I say that Awesome Truth is able to use some teamwork to take HHH down and they go to work on him. After several minutes of abuse HHH is able to fight back and take Truth down with a DDT. Tags are made and Punk is a house afire on both of his opponents. Truth and HHH brawl on the floor while Punk hits Miz with Hail to the King. Man, Punk’s version of that move is ugly as sin. From out of nowhere Kevin Nash runs through the crowd and attacks HHH! Awesome Truth is able to double-team Punk and they hit him with Little Jimmy’s Finale to get the pin at 15:39. That was okay tag team formula stuff, but the finish was seriously deflating as the entire reason for the match to even exist was just to further the Triple H versus Kevin Nash feud that no one wanted to see. Awesome Truth doesn’t really gain anything from a win like that and Punk’s involvement here meant little as well.
MATCH #6: Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes
This was during the time that Cody Rhodes brought two guys to ringside with him to put paper bags on people’s heads. It was awesome. Rhodes is the Intercontinental Champion but this is a non-title match. Orton takes the early control and brings the fight to the floor. Rhodes withstands the attacks and brings the match back to the ring. He goes to work on Orton, focusing on the Viper’s neck. Rhodes wears Orton down with a variety of strikes and rest holds. He uses a Boston Crab but Orton is able to fight his way out of it. The Intercontinental Champion hits an Alabama Slam for a near-fall. Rhodes then takes too long going up for a moonsault, and Orton moves out of the way. Orton unleashes the fury, even hitting the powerslam. He tries to position Rhodes for the Rope-hung DDT but Rhodes blocks it. Rhodes goes up top for a flying something or other and Orton cuts him out of the air with a dropkick. Orton tries to follow up but Rhodes counters with the Beautiful Disaster for two. Rhodes again avoids the rope-hung DDT but Orton catches him with the inverted headlock backbreaker. Orton hits a neckbreaker slam for a near-fall. He puts Rhodes on the top rope, and Rhodes knocks him down and follows with a moonsault press for a near-fall. Orton has to fight off one of Rhodes’ baggers, and that allows Rhodes to hit the Cross-Rhodes for a two-count. Rhodes tries to pull off an RKO but Orton obviously blocks it. On his third try Orton hits the Rope-hung DDT and the Viper coils. The other bagger gets up on the apron and Orton throws Rhodes into him. Orton then hits the RKO to get the pin at 12:13. Rhodes looked pretty good here against Orton for the most part, but there was literally no chance of him going over in anon-title match, so that did prevent them from building up too much drama. Still, the work was good.
MATCH #7: World Heavyweight Title Match – Mark Henry vs. Big Show
Henry has been the Champion since 9.18.11, and this is his fourth defense. The two behemoths launch into each other and Show wins that battle. Show beats Henry down and sends him to the floor, and then pulls him back in the ring with ridiculous strength. He even busts out a Superkick (!) and Henry bails to the floor again. Henry appears to be taking his belt and going home, but Show won’t allow it. Back in the ring Henry cuts Show off by going low. Henry keeps Show grounded and wears down the previously injured knee. Show fights his way back but both men take each other down with a simultaneous clothesline. They get back to their feet and Show unloads with a flurry of offense. Show hits a huge Chokeslam but he only gets two! He gets the WMD ready but Henry blocks it and hits the World’s Strongest Slam! Show kicks out at two! Henry goes to the top rope and Show brings him down with another Chokeslam! Show covers for two! Now Show takes his turn at the top rope and Henry goes up and brings him down with a superplex, which implodes the ring! Both men are down and out and it’s an apparent no-contest at about 13:00. That was actually quite a bit of fun, as Henry was on the hot streak of his life during this time, and Show had his working boots on. I think the last time they did the ring imploding superplex was in 2003 so it was due for a comeback. It would have been a bummer of a finish if this was the main event, but there’s one more match to go so it’s all good.
MATCH #8: WWE Championship Last Man Standing Match – Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena
Del Rio has been the Champion since 10.2.11, and this is his first defense. The Champion sacrifices his ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez right at the start to take the first advantage. Cena withstands the early attacks and fights back, but Del Rio is tenacious and he keeps Cena down on the mat. Every time Cena tries to build a comeback Del Rio is able to shut that whole thing down. They’re doing a really good job working the match without any ropes. Cena busts out a gut wrench suplex, and Del Rio responds with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Del Rio traps Cena underneath one of the ring posts and delivers a double stomp. That’s creative. Del Rio tries to follow up but Cena grabs him in a last gasp Attitude Adjustment! Both men get back to their feet and Cena tries another AA but Rodriguez breaks it up. Del Rio locks on a sleeper and chokes Cena out. The referee begins the count but Cena makes it back to his feet. Del Rio tries to throw Cena out of the ring but Cena reverses the momentum and launches the Champ into the barricade! Cool spot. Cena tries to whip Del Rio into the steel steps but Del Rio reverses it. Rodriguez gets involved again and this time Cena drops him nuts-first on the steel ring post! Ouch. Back in the ring Del Rio charges and Cena gives him a drop toe hold right onto the collapsed post! That acts like a teeter-totter on poor Rodriguez’s groin. Del Rio uses the steel steps as a weapon to knock Cena down but not for a 10-count. Cena gets an adrenaline rush and chases Del Rio backstage. They fight around the backstage area and use various equipment to beat each other up and slam each other on. Del Rio buries Cena underneath the interview set but Cena makes it back to his feet. They fight back out into the arena and continue to destroy the set. Del Rio puts Cena on a table and climbs up some scaffolding, but Cena pulls him down right through said table. They make it back up to the ringside area and Del Rio throws Cena over the commentator’s table. Cena throws Del Rio into the barricade and then levels Rodriguez with a clothesline. Del Rio comes back and tries the step-up enziguiri against the ring post but Cena avoids it and Del Rio kicks the post! Cena gets Del Rio up for the AA and goes up the steel steps and drops Del Rio through the Spanish Announce Table! Then from out of nowhere The Miz and R-Truth run out and attack Cena, beating him down and distracting the referee from his counting duties. The count resumes and both Del Rio and Cena are able to get back to their feet. Del Rio blasts Cena in the face with the WWE Championship belt, and that’s enough to finally keep Cena down at 26:59. They did a great job working that match without ropes, and the backstage fighting was a nice throwback to the Attitude Era brawls and didn’t feel contrived. Del Rio looked good in controlling most of the match, though it would have been nice to see him win without the help of Awesome Truth. That blemish aside, this was a surprisingly excellent match, one of Del Rio’s better efforts for sure.