Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bragging Rights

Tonight was the big WWE Bragging Rights PPV; it was a solid PPV with good wrestling action, and an enjoyable show for sure, although with the potential it had going in, I felt it could have done that little bit more. Taking things one at a time,

  • Starting with promos throughout the show, these were good; from Cody Rhodes becoming more cocky and aggressive than usual, to DX's pep talk to the Raw team with the little comic relief moment of threatening to replace Jack Swagger with the next person they saw, being Hornswoggle, who DX-chopped them for changing their minds, these featured more than they usually do in PPVs, and were basically well-done; the one weak one was Josh Matthews' participation in the Batista-turn-on-Rey Mysterio; 'I don't want to put you on the spot in this circumstance', he says as he attempts to interview an injured Rey. So then, don't! lol In general actually the announcers were weak tonight, and Jim Ross was sorely missed. But everyone else was great on the stick.
  • The Miz vs. John Morrison was the opening match and the prime example of what I said above about this PPV; a strong match, great, even, but not necessarily what it could have been. Not a terrible problem though as I suspect these guys are going to have years ahead to fight one another and you don't want to leave it all in the ring on your first go-round. The ending was surprising, and all but guaranteeing that the Smackdown Divas were going to win the next match (they did) given they had a cup to grant the brand that won the most interbrand matches that evening, and they weren't going to have EITHER brand sweep it. So I predicted this one wrong as Miz won, but it wasn't a problem as this wasn't a win that would hurt John Morrison in the long run, and hey even Marty Jannetty beat Shawn Michaels once or twice. ;) Besides as I said, it guaranteed my next prediction would be right ...
  • The next match was Raw Divas Gail Kim, Melina and Kelly Kelly vs. Smackdown Divas Beth Phoenix, Natalya and Michelle McCool. The Smackdown girls won, which I expected, given the level of skill and experience on the team (not to put down the Raw team, but the strength and skill on the SD team was just overwhelming and impressive, even for skilled workers like Melina and Gail Kim, who's been underwhelming of late and honestly probably should have stayed at TNA). Not a poor match by any means, it was just completely predictable.
  • The Fatal Four-Way between World Heavyweight Champion Undertaker, CM Punk, Batista and his longtime friend Rey Mysterio Jr. was decent, and fast-paced given a couple of bigger guys in the ring in Taker and Tista, but really it was the backdrop for the ending. Rey costs his buddy Batista a fall - which was fair enough given this was an 'every man for himself' scenario. Batista, in a postmatch interview, accuses his friend of stabbing him in the back and proceeds to toss him around like a rag doll. An effective turn, which I think could have been even more effective on Raw which really is lacking besides Randy Orton for main-event level heels at the moment, but it was something that had been foreseen enough to be exciting without having been SO much so as to be predictable. A memorable part of the evening for sure.
  • As was Big Show's turn on his Raw teammates in the seven-on-seven Raw (DX, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, Cody Rhodes, Kofi Kingston and Big Show) vs. Smackdown (Chris Jericho, Kane, Matt Hardy, the Hart Legacy, R-Truth and Finlay). I will claim to having been a bit optimistic re. Bret Hart's involvement here, but this wasn't bad, and there's a ready-made explanation that in the long run, Big Show's best investment is to keep Chris Jericho healthy and to stay in his good books from the point of view of being permanent tag team partners; that's where HIS gold lies. He recognized what his own partner and the SD brand as a whole didn't; while they celebrated together with hugs and high-fives all around, they'll be back to beating each other up by Friday night, while tag teams such as Show and Jericho, divided by the brand split, will need to continue to coexist. As good a match as such a large exhibition could have been.
  • The 60-minute Iron Man Match between John Cena and Randy Orto n was last; it was anything-goes, falls count anywhere, and the man with the most decisions at the end of an hour won; it was their last match regardless, and if Cena lost, he'd be Smackdown-bound. I am going to claim some credit here for one correct prediction, although my prediction of the outcome was wrong. While almost all the pundits I read were skeptical of the ability of this match to entertain for 60 minutes, and the stamina of these two wrestlers, they did a fantastic job. They kept the pace up, and the filler that any 60-minute match is going to need was entertaining; they knew when to up their own pace, and when it would be OK to rely on gimmickry, and just how much/how long to do so. From the use of weapons like mics and garbage cans (which provided for some funny visuals), to Randy Orton's treating the pyro board the way our 11-month-old would have (and creating some fun fireworks around Cena while we were at it), provided the wrestlers some breathing room and US some entertainment, while keeping the pace up. Cena won the match 6 falls to 5, which was a surprise to me but not Ari, so hats off to my hubby and ITVR cohost on that one. Easily the most pleasant surprise of the evening to everyone but me was the quality of this match, and if it weren't for Shawn Michaels and Undertaker's display at WM 25, I'd say this would be a real potenital match of the year candidate.
Overall a decent PPV as I said, even a great one, that I just can't help but think had the potential to be more. As we discussed on ITVR Friday, the problem with strong-on-paper PPVs is that the expectations going in are so high; had this been weak on paper, we'd have been over the moon with this show, and I'm still quite thrilled with it; I just wish the announcers had kept it together, the booking had allowed for some focus on the cool moments of the show (Taker holding up his world title in front of the 'Bragging Rights' logo for example, which is a REAL demonstration of what bragging rights in the WWE are all about), and that EVERYONE had stepped it up the way Randy Orton and John Cena did. But again, no complaints as a PPV for once kept us entertained and interested for 3 solid hours, including a one-hour match which can grow old quickly if done poorly. Good job for the WWE, 8 out of 10 by way of a rating; only knock being it had the potential for a 9/10, probably simply on JR's presence alone lol.


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