TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts – September 16, 2012
Michael Cole and the returning JBL are on commentary! This show was just six days after Jerry “The King” Lawler’s heart attack, necessitating this last-minute replacement.
MATCH #1: Intercontinental Title Fatal Four Way Match – The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara
Miz has been the Champion since 7.23.12, and this is his third defense. He cuts a promo about how unfair it is that he has to defend his title against three different challengers. Before he can deliver his catchphrase he gets cut off by Mysterio’s music. Rhodes and Mysterio are both former two-time Intercontinental Champions, while Sin Cara has never held gold in WWE.
Cara and Rhodes pair off while Miz and Mysterio do battle. Miz and Rhodes try to work together but that doesn’t go so well for them when Mysterio and Cara decide to work together too. The two luchadores clear the ring, but before they can go at it Miz and Rhodes break them up. The action continues coming fast and furious, with no one able to gain a clear advantage in the early going. Mysterio and Cara end up alone in the ring together, and it’s the first time they’ve gone head to head, ever. They go back and forth and Mysterio land a headscissors for two. Miz and Rhodes come back in and take control of the two masked men. It doesn’t take long for the two arrogant superstars to do take it to each other. Rhodes misses the Beautiful Disaster. Miz goes for the Reality Check and Rhodes avoids it, but Miz is able to backdrop him to the floor. Mysterio and Cara battle back into the match as the pace continues to be quick. Cara and Mysterio wind up alone again and keep the crowd juiced with their aerial tactics. Rhodes sneaks back in and hits Cara with the Beautiful Disaster for a near-fall. He then goes for a superplex on Mysterio but Miz comes in to powerbomb Rhodes in the requisite Tower of Doom spot. Miz covers Rhodes and then Mysterio, getting two each time. The Champ knocks Rhodes and Cara to the floor so he can focus on Mysterio. Miz hits Mysterio with the short DDT for two. Cara comes back in with a springboard missile dropkick that sends Miz to the floor. He follows him out with a dive. Meanwhile Mysterio hits Rhodes with a headscissors that sends him into the barricade. Mysterio then hits a running seated senton off the apron. Back in the ring Cara hits Miz with a slingshot corkscrew splash for a near-fall. Miz comes back with the Awesome Clothesline. Mysterio takes Miz down and hits an Arabian Press for two. Rhodes comes back in and drops Mysterio on his face for a near-fall. Mysterio puts Rhodes and Miz in position to both be hit with the 619. Rhodes avoids it but Miz does not. Mysterio sends Rhodes to the floor and goes up top to hit the splash on Miz but Rhodes pulls him to the floor. Rhodes tries to steal to pin but Cara breaks that up. Action continues to come from all over the place. Rhodes pitches Mysterio to the floor. Cara hits Rhodes with a kick to the side of the head. He then tries to put one of his masks on Rhodes, since Rhodes has been obsessed with taking his off. Miz takes the opportunity to hit Cara with the Reality Check but it only gets two. He goes for a powerbomb but Cara puts the extra mask on Miz! Rhodes goes for the Cross Rhodes on Cara but Miz grabs Rhodes with the Skull Crushing Finale to finally get the pin at 12:06. That was a hot opener and everyone was on point with their offense. I liked the finish a lot too. Every so often the Intercontinental Title looks like a big deal between good workers, and this was one of those nights.
MATCH #2: WWE Tag Team Title Match – Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. Daniel Bryan & Kane
Kingston and Truth have been the Champions since 4.30.12, and this is their fifth defense. Kane and Kingston start the match. The champs actually take first control with their fast-paced double-teaming. Kane fights back and tags his reluctant partner. Bryan goes to work on Truth with kicks. Momentum shifts back to the champs and they continue using their agility and tandem maneuvers. Kane gets a tag and he and Bryan actually do their best to work as a unit. That doesn’t last too long before the challengers get into an argument and start shoving each other. Bryan begs off and offers a hug. Kane reluctantly accepts and the challengers are back on the same page. Truth makes a tag and Kingston is a house afire. Kingston hits the Boom Drop and signals for the Trouble in Paradise but Kane rescues his partner. Then Kingston takes Kane out with a baseball slide, and wipes out Bryan with a somersault dive. Back in the ring Bryan puts Kingston in the No Lock and Truth breaks it up. Truth tries a dive on Kane but misses. Bryan hits Kingston with an IED and Kane tags himself. Kane goes up top and Bryan gets angry with him and distracts him. Kingston tries to capitalize with a hurricanrana but Bryan holds onto Kane’s leg and Kingston crashes to the mat. Bryan then shoves Kane off the top rope and he lands on Kingston. That’s enough to get the pin and crown new Champions at 8:30! The match was standard RAW fare, but Kane and Bryan are fun together and the finish was unique.
MATCH #3: WWE United States Title Match – Antonio Cesaro (w/ Aksana) vs. Zack Ryder
Cesaro has been the Champion since 8.19.12, and this is his second defense. He calls this match unfair in five different languages, which I thought was a cool gimmick. Ryder won a 16-man battle royal on the Preshow, last eliminating Tensai to earn this title shot. The Champ takes Ryder down to the mat but Ryder battles right back. They go back and forth some more and Ryder hits a flapjack and a dropkick for two. Cesaro comes back with a Stun Gun. He presses the advantage and keeps Ryder in a prone position. Cesaro hits the Swiss Death but it only gets two. Ryder fights back with a modified X-Factor and a discuss clothesline. He gets a schoolboy rollup for two, followed by a missile dropkick off the second rope for another two-count. Ryder slips out of a superplex and hits a neckbreaker for a near-fall. Cesaro rolls to the apron and drives a shoulder to Ryder’s gut. He rams Ryder into the turnbuckles and goes up top but Ryder knocks him down. Ryder hits a hurricanrana and sets up for the Broski Boot but Aksana pulls Cesaro to the floor. Back in the ring Cesaro catches Ryder with a European Uppercut. Cesaro then lands the Gotch style Neutralizer to get the pin at 6:40. Well for two guys fighting with no other reason than one of them won a battle royal that was fine. Crowd didn’t care, but that’s what happens when you don’t bother using the absurd amount of TV time you have to build a feud and just have one of them win a battle royal.
MATCH #4: Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/ Vickie Guerrero)
This should be a dandy. They go back and forth early on, with both men showing off their personalities as they try to out-wrestle each other. Orton hits a clothesline and then stomps away. Ziggler executes a drop toehold to send Orton into the ropes, and then hits a dropkick for two. Ziggler goes to work, wearing Orton down with a variety of offense. Orton fights back with a slingshot suplex for two. HE hits the backbreaker and the snap powerslam. Ziggler rolls to the apron and Orton goes for the DDT but Ziggler counters with a schoolboy rollup for two. Orton delivers a boot to the gut and Ziggler counters with a low dropkick. Ziggler tries a Fame-Ass-Er but Orton catches him in a powerbomb for a two-count. Orton goes for a superplex but Ziggler knocks him back. Ziggler hits a missile dropkick from the second rope for a near-fall. Both men rise and start to slug it out. Ziggler snaps Orton’s neck off the top rope, Randy Savage style. That gets two. Ziggler continues to wear Orton down. Orton creates separation with a back suplex, but Ziggler cuts him off and goes right back to work. Once again Orton creates separation with a beautiful dropkick. Ziggler catches Orton in a big DDT for two. He goes up top and Orton knocks him down. Orton hits the superplex this time, paying tribute to his father. It only gets a two-count. Once again they slug it out and the crowd is on Ziggler’s side. Ziggler hits the Fame-Ass-Er for a very close near-fall. Orton tries the Orton DDT but they spill to the floor, where he hurls Ziggler into the barricade. He then hits the DDT using the barricade, bouncing Ziggler’s head off the floor! Back in the ring Orton covers but Ziggler gets his foot on the bottom rope. Both men go for finishers and counter each other. Orton hits an awesome pop-up RKO to get the pin at 18:23. This would have been a great time to give Ziggler a big win over Orton, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that this was a hell of a match. It was a great back and forth contest, with both guys showing effective offense and neat counters to each other. Vickie stayed out of it and just let the two wrestlers do their thing and it worked.
MATCH #5: WWE Divas Title Match – Layla vs. Eve Torres
Layla has been the Champion since 4.29.12, and this is her fourth defense. Eve snaked her way into this title match when the original challenger Kaitlyn was attacked backstage by a mysterious assailant. They take it to the mat and exchange holds. Layla appears to have the upper hand in the opening moments. She lands a low dropkick to the face. Eve offers up a handshake but kicks Layla in the gut and throws her to the floor. She throws Layla ribs-first into the apron twice. Back in the ring Eve continues to work the ribs. Eve locks on a body scissors and eventually just lets it go. Layla catches a quick DDT from out of nowhere. Back on their feet Layla hits another dropkick and a flurry of offense. Layla misses a springboard cross body block, and Eve capitalizes with a spinning neckbreaker to get the pin and become a three-time Divas Champion at 6:38. The crowd couldn’t be bothered but this was a solid match with good psychology.
MATCH #6: World Heavyweight Title Match – Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/ David Otunga and Ricardo Rodriguez)
Sheamus has been the Champion since 4.1.12, and this is his seventh defense. Leading up to this match, SmackDown General Manager Booker T made the Brogue Kick illegal and said he would strip Sheamus of the title if he used it. Before the match can begin, Booker makes his way out and says that after his investigation he is reinstating the move. What was the point of ever banning it then? Booker T is awful.
Sheamus goes for an immediate Brogue Kick but Del Rio moves So Sheamus connects with Otunga. They go back and forth a bit and Del Rio takes a powder to regroup, not doubt having been thrown off his game by Booker’s announcement. Back in the ring Sheamus hits a neckbreaker for two. Del Rio fights back and the fight spills to the apron. Sheamus hits a running shoulderblock off the apron to wipe Del Rio out. They fight around the ring steps and top rope, and Del Rio is able to pitch Sheamus off the steps and into the announce table. Back in the ring Del Rio starts going to work on the arm. Del Rio tries an ax handle off the top rope but Sheamus cuts him out of the air with an ax bomber. Sheamus unloads with a flurry of offense, which means he’s building momentum. He blasts Del Rio with the forearm blasts to the chest from the apron. Sheamus goes for White Noise but Del Rio counters to a lungblower for two. Del Rio goes for the Cross Armbreaker but Sheamus counters and this time hits White Noise. Sheamus calls for the Brogue Kick but Del Rio avoids it and this an enziguiri for a near-fall. Del Rio goes for the Cross Armbreaker again and Sheamus counters to a Texas Cloverleaf attempt but Del Rio kicks his way out of that. Sheamus’ arm gets tied up in the ropes and Del Rio attacks it viciously. Finally Del Rio cinches in the Cross Armbreaker and Sheamus picks Del Rio up to powerbomb his way out of it. Sheamus goes for the Brogue Kick but Del Rio ducks and locks on the Cross Armbreaker again! This time Sheamus reaches the ropes. Del Rio charges into the corner for an enziguiri but misses. Sheamus then hits the Brogue Kick from out of nowhere to get the pin and retain the title at 15:09. This one worked well enough, as they kept to the simple story of Del Rio doggedly pursuing the arm and Sheamus gutting it out like a tough guy. Nothing wrong with any of that.
MATCH #7: WWE Heavyweight Title Match – CM Punk (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. John Cena
Punk has been the Champion since 11.20.11, and this is his seventeenth defense. He is wearing New York Yankees pinstripes, which is a great way to incite the Boston crowd. They start with some chain wrestling and take it to the mat. These two have faced each other many times so they know each other well. Cena scores the first big move with a fisherman suplex and Punk avoids even being covered. Punk takes control and keeps Cena down, wearing him out. He even uses a Muta Lock, but of course Cole has no idea what to call it. Cena tries to take a break on the floor but Punk wipes him out with a suicide dive. Punk even gloats right in Cena’s father’s face. I love that. He throws Cena back in the ring but then taunts the crowd too long so Cena takes him out with a baseball slide. Cena throws Punk into the audience and brings him right back out with a fisherman suplex. Back in the ring Cena goes for the Attitude Adjustment but Punk slips out and kicks Cena in the head. Punk takes control and almost toys with Cena, which could come back to haunt him. He goes up top and hits a double ax handle. Punk tries Go 2 Sleep but Cena avoids it and fires up. Cena goes for the Protoplex but Punk shifts his weight and lands on top for a two-count. Punk tries a neckbreaker but Cena shoves him off and hits a clothesline for two. Cena goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle but Punk gets a boot up. Punk hits a neckbreaker for two. He goes to the apron and tries the springboard clothesline but Cena catches him and rolls through to an Attitude Adjustment attempt. Cena drops Punk to the floor and follows him out with a dive. Back in the ring Cena hits the Protoplex and tries the Five Knuckle Shuffle but Punk counters to the Anaconda Vise! Cena counters that to the STF and Punk counters that to the Crippler Crossface. Remember Chris Benoit? Cena powers his way out of the Crossface. Both men rise and slug it out. Punk wins that battle with a leg lariat. He hits the running knee in the corner and then a clothesline. Punk goes up top and hits the Macho Man Elbow but it only gets two. He tries Go 2 Sleep but Cena catches the knee and locks on the STF! The Champion is able to reach the ropes. Punk is able to catch a charging Cena and hit Go 2 Sleep but Cena kicks out! He goes for another one but Cena counters and hits the Protoplex and the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment and Punk kicks out! The crowd is losing their collective mind. Punk rolls to the floor so Cena goes out to retrieve him. Cena goes up top and misses the Cena Slice. Punk nails a high kick to the head for a two-count. He goes up for a Crooked Moonsault and Cena doesn’t even have to move to not get hit with it. At least Cole calls it awkward. Punk doing shit he can’t do. He picks Cena up and hits another Go 2 Sleep but again it only gets two! Punk waits for Cena to get up and then hits him with a Rock Bottom! Cena kicks out again! He pops up and hits an Attitude Adjustment but Punk kicks out! They fight up on the ropes and Cena takes Punk down with a super German Suplex to apparently get the pin at 26:55!
Cena starts the celebration but the referee takes the belt away and hands it back to Punk! Justin Roberts announces that both men’s shoulders were down so the match is a draw. Cena is upset, and the look on Punk’s face is priceless. Punk then knocks Cena out with the belt just for fun. That was another in the series of tremendous matches between these two storied rivals. The weak finish and a couple of glitches in the match (most notably the worst moonsault ever) keep it from reaching classic status but these two went all out for over 25 minutes and busted out some great offense and clever counters. I could watch these two wrestle forever.