Canton's Corner: The Wrestling Week in Review - February 4
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport
Welcome to Canton's Corner. It was a good week of wrestling on TV this week. I thought Raw was excellent while both Smackdown and TNA Impact Wrestling were above average this week too. I'll cover all three of those, plus the usual polls, video, Melo Out and other things you've come to expect from Canton's Corner. It's the Super Bowl on Sunday. If you follow me on Twitter you know I'm a huge NFL fan, even more than I am a wrestling fan. Before I get to the wrestling part of the column, I need to share my pick.
I think the Giants will win. I like their defense to slow the Pats down just like they did in the regular season. The Ravens and Steelers did it too. All similar kinds of defense. If you get in their face, be physical and get some shots in on Brady he softens up. They showed that in the Super Bowl four years ago and when they played this year. Four years ago I picked the Pats because I thought their offense was too explosive. Now it's different. They use the TEs instead of stretching the field with Moss. Brady almost never throws deep anymore. So the key will be can the Giants cover their TEs enough? I think so. They can rush four, get a lot of pressure and drop 7 in coverage. The teams that could give the Giants problem are the 4 or 5 wide teams like the Packers, but the GMen overcame them with the pressure. On the other side of the ball, I think Eli will have a huge game. It's important to use the run game too, but I think he's going to throw for 300 yards and 2-3 TDs. It will be difficult for the Pats to handle Cruz, Nicks & Manningham plus a solid Giants run game. I'm not disrespecting the Pats or anything like that. I respect them enough that I'm likely not betting on the Giants. If I was that confident I would bet. I will probably just stick to prop bets. Since I have to pick one team I'll go GMen. Giants 31-21.
Moving on, I need to talk about my special series of columns where I am recapping all 27 WrestleMania events between February 1st and this year's WrestleMania. I am posting the recaps exclusively on thejohnreport.net every Monday, Wednesday & Friday and sometimes I will post them on a Sunday as well when I need to. The recap to WrestleMania 1 is here while WrestleMania 2 is here. These weren't great shows, but they were important in terms of setting the stage for what WrestleMania would ultimately become. I've been getting tremendous feedback on them. Let me know what you think, please. I'm sure that as we get further along to the more recent shows there will be a lot of reflecting on what happened, which is what I want.
Last Week's Poll Results
The poll question was: Are you a fan of Brodus Clay's "Funkasaurus" character? The results after 2,000+ votes:
Yes - 60.44%
Too early to tell - 18.39%
No - 12.37%
I just like the song - 8.8%
I voted yes. I didn't know what to expect with the results, but assumed most people liked the gimmick. I think Brodus is going to need a real feud sooner rather than later because if not the character is going to get stale very quick.
This Week's Poll Question: Will CM Punk & Daniel Bryan walk into WrestleMania 28 as the WWE & World Champions?
This one is interesting. Both CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are defending their respective titles at February's Elimination Chamber PPV where odds are against both of them leaving that event holding their titles. The question is, will they still be holding their titles going into WrestleMania 28 on April 1st?
I voted for both. That's my hope and my belief. I think Punk vs. Jericho for the WWE Title at WrestleMania is very likely. For the World Title, I think Daniel Bryan defending against Sheamus & Randy Orton is a strong possibility. Perhaps a fourth man could be involved. I'm not sure. I just hope that Bryan walks in with the title because he deserves it.
I wrote about Raw live on Monday, so here are some more thoughts.
An excellent edition of Raw
I loved Raw this week. I gave it a 9/10, which is a very high score by my standards. There weren't a whole lot of wasted moments on the show. That's all we ask. Make every segment count, or at least try to limit the bad ones. If that can happen on a consistent basis then Raw will be a better television show. The last three Raw episodes earned ratings of 7, 7 and 9. Most years the shows are better from January through March because they have a better idea of where things are going.
CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan
A fantastic match. Surprised? Of course not. These are two of my favorite performers doing the thing that made me fall in love with the business in the first place: WRESTLING! Yep, I busted out the caps for that one. I was okay with the non finish because if you book either guy to lose it would make them look too weak heading into the Elimination Chamber match. Plus, it's the start of the Jericho/Punk program that I've been looking forward to so much. Let's hope this week's Raw starts off with a Jericho/Punk promo. That could be great.
The Undertaker returns and Hunter walks away
I did not expect to see The Undertaker back on Raw this week. I was pleasantly surprised. He walked out, looked at the WrestleMania sign, looked at Triple H and expected a similar reaction from Hunter. Instead, Hunter patted him on the shoulder as if to say: "I don't blame you for coming back because your wife has an annoying voice, but I'm just not that interested." That's how I interpreted it anyway. I'd anticipate the Hunter/Undertaker match to happen at WrestleMania with Shawn Michaels as referee as rumored, but there's no rush in terms of when they announce it. Tell a story. Make it interesting. That's what wrestling is all about.
The other point worth making regarding Undertaker is that after Raw was over, instead of writing me about how great the show was most people were commenting about Undertaker's obvious wig. Pics of him last summer circulated the net and what was interesting is that his head was shaved. Between then and now, maybe he kept a short haircut. Maybe he's growing it out and it will be ready by the time he has to wrestle on April 1. I have no idea. I guess it says a lot about the man that when he returns after being gone for 10 months a lot of people wonder about what his hair might be like. That's respect…I think.
John Cena to enter WrestleMania 28 with the song "Invincible"
The song is by the artist Machine Gun Kelly. It's one of the theme songs of WrestleMania 28. You will hear it approximately 847 times between now and April 1st. It was announced this week that Cena would also enter to the song Invincible, which I assume will be performed live in Miami. What caught my eye was this statement by Machine Gun Kelly: "John Cena and myself are both underdogs and the song is about struggle. I think it’s so cool they chose it." John Cena is an underdog? Clearly MGK has never seen WWE in the last 9 years. What kind of drugs is he on? By the way I don't hate the song…yet.
- Regarding the Royal Rumble, I'm not a fan of changing the finish from Jericho to Sheamus just because people online expected it to be Jericho. I think TJR writer Mike Aires nailed it in his column on Friday. You shouldn't change plans because of what people think is going to happen. You should do what you think is best. Why let others dictate what you do? Go with what you believe is best.
- Is John Laurinaitis still the interim Raw GM? I'm not sure. The comments on Smackdown make it seem like he got removed from the role, but I think it's an unresolved issue at this time. It's a good way to keep people tuned in week after week to see where this story is going.
- We found out that Kharma had her baby on December 31. She returned at the Royal Rumble on January 29th. I'm not sure when she'll be back as a full time performer, but the sooner the better. The divas division needs her.
A few likes and dislikes from this week's Smackdown. You can read about the ups and downs of Smackdown by TJR's Andrew Johnson. It's always an entertaining read.
LIKE - Daniel Bryan's "I'm a vegan" speech
The World Champion Daniel Bryan was set to be interviewed by Michael Cole, but then he told him to leave. Bryan went on to rant about how wrong people were for eating meat and for how right he was for being a vegan. It's an idea that they did two years ago with CM Punk doing his Straight Edge Society gimmick. It's not the message that is drawing the heat. It's how Bryan (and Punk in the past) says the message that is drawing the heat. Nobody likes a preacher. Nobody likes a guy that is going to say I'm better than you and then list reasons why. With the push he's received, Bryan's confidence has gone up and it showed during this promo. By the way, the "We Love Bacon" chant by the crowd was hilarious.
DISLIKE - Mark Henry suspended for barely doing anything
When Teddy Long announced the participants for the Elimination Chamber, Mark Henry was one of them. He complained about it saying he wanted a World Title match that night instead. Teddy said no. Mark put his hands on him barely, so Teddy suspended him. In reality, Henry's got a knee injury and he's been given a few weeks off, but couldn't they have done a better job with this. He barely did anything to get suspended. I have more sympathy for Henry than I do for Long, which isn't the intent unless of course this is leading to Long being ousted as Smackdown GM. It's time for Teddy to go. I feel like I've been writing that for years now.
LIKE - Randy Orton handles his business against Wade Barrett in a No DQ Match
It appears as though the Orton/Barrett feud is finally over with that clean & decisive win by Randy Orton. The announcers did a good job of trying to say that Barrett has been elevated due to this feud, but I'm not sure if the audience will see it that way. It depends on how he's booked going forward. As for the match, it got about ***1/4, you knew Barrett has no chance of winning and I liked how Orton won in an emphatic way with the RKO on the steel chair.
By the way, I miss Wade Barrett's previous theme song. It was one of my favorites.
DISLIKE - Natalya has a farting problem
Why are they doing this angle? Last week Natalya farted during a backstage segment with Teddy Long and this week she farted during a stretching routine with Beth Phoenix. I understand that Vince McMahon loves poop and fart jokes for whatever reason, but to give that to a diva as a gimmick to somehow get them over? That's silly. The only good thing I saw out of this was that Beth tagged Natalya in, got the win for her team and then walked away. Looks like they're doing the angle where Beth is becoming an egomaniac, so Natalya could go face out of it. I'd love a Beth vs. Natalya feud.
DISLIKE - Great Khali in the Elimination Chamber match
Mark Henry is hurt. He needs to heal up. Fine. I get that. Of all the people on the roster you could pick to replace him, the choice is The Great Khali? Why? Nobody wants to see the guy wrestle. Every time he walks it looks like he might tip over and break one of his kneecaps. He can barely take a bump at this point of his life. Why not Christian? I know he had an ankle injury, but as far as I know he's over it now. He'd do a much better job (FYI I actually typed in "jobber" there) in the match and frankly I miss the guy. One…more…match.
Just because I had two likes and three dislikes doesn't mean I thought Smackdown was bad. I thought it was a 6/10 kind of show. I just write what I feel is worth sharing.
- Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton is announced for next week in a non-title match. I thought this would be the WrestleMania match although with Sheamus winning that changes things. It should be great although I don’t expect a clean finish. If they get 15+ minutes they could come close to what Bryan & Punk did on Raw this week.
- Sheamus won his match with a "new" move. The announcers acted as if they had never seen the move before. They are idiots. Finlay used to do it all the time. Here's video proof. I don't ask that the announcers be really smart. Just don't be really stupid. Find some middle ground.
I'll bring the Twitter Ten back for Tuesday's Raw Deal. On Monday, if you're following me on Twitter, I'll ask for questions.
LIKE - The atmosphere of the show being taped in London, England
It was so refreshing to not only see them out of the Impact Zone, but also in front of 7,000 fans that were actually making noise. The noise was genuine for most of it, except when Garett Bischoff spoke and they had to pipe in cheers because nobody really cares about the guy. If you follow TNA wrestlers like I do (some of em anyway), you could see how excited they were wrestling in front of that crowd. It's a shame that there are no more road tapings scheduled any time son except for the Lockdown PPV in April, which is taking place in Nashville.
DISLIKE - Anything with Hogan & Bischoff
Enough already! Look, I understand they wanted to put Hogan on the screen in England because he hadn’t been there in over a decade, but having him endorse Garett Bischoff is nauseating. Fans don't want to cheer Garett. I had dozens of people that were at the show tell me he was booed loudly, but on the broadcast they edited that out. I'm tired of Hulk Hogan and I'm even more tired of Eric Bischoff. They represent the past of a failed company known as WCW. They haven't meant a thing for TV ratings in the past and Impact was becoming a better TV show without Hulk. Now he's back spouting off the same "TNA is on the brink of something big" speech he has said for over two years. Yawn.
LIKE - James Storm wrestles twice
First he wrestled Bobby Roode, which is not something I would give away on free TV, but I understand why it was done since there was no Jeff Hardy on the program. Then Storm wrestled Bully Ray in the main event. I thought both matches were very solid, in the three star range, and did a good job of building up the PPV title match featuring those three along with Hardy. Storm is killing it right now. That means he's doing well, for those not down with the lingo. You're welcome.
DISLIKE - Crimson's undefeated streak is over…right?
The tag team scene has featured some weird booking. Last month Morgan & Crimson beat Joe & Magnus. In the weeks that followed, Morgan & Crimson beat each Joe & Magnus in singles matches, yet they got attacked post match. On this week's show, the Magnus & Joe team won a match where both guys were in the ring at the same time while the Morgan & Crimson duo had to tag in and out. Morgan got pinned to take the loss for his team. Since his team lost, that means Crimson is no longer undefeated right? My guess is they won't go by that logic. This is TNA, where logic is optional.
LIKE - Austin Aries vs. Mark Haskins
They had an entertaining four minute match, which isn't a surprise because Aries is arguably the best performer in all of TNA. Haskins actually ended up receiving a concussion during the match because of his botched Shooting Star Press, but they still put on a good show. Even though it was only a five minute match, it was still nice to see an X-Division match worked at such a fast pace.
- Impact has been a better show in the last two months. I don't dislike things that much when I watch it. It's a welcome change.
- The Tara/Gail match was fine. I'm tired of the finishes with a second heel knockout getting involved because it's a trend that has been happening for far too long in TNA, but I guess I'll take what I can get. These are two women that know what they're doing in the ring. More of that please.
- On a final TNA related note, at TJR we have coverage of their new Ring Ka King promotion and our writer is from India, so he's been able to provide some perspective on some of the things they're doing on the show that may be tough to understand. I know reading through it helped me understand it even more. To read Siddhartha's recaps of the first two episodes click here. I thought they were solid as debut shows. It will be interesting to see how the stories progress. I've heard enough good things about it to keep watching, though.
Random Clip of the Week
For this I'm going with my favorite February match in WWE history. A lot of people write lists about favorite WrestleMania, Summerslam or Royal Rumble matches, but what about matches from a particular month? If I wrote a listing of best February matches this would be at the very top. It's Steve Austin vs. Triple H at No Way Out 2001 in a Three Stages of Hell Match. I have plenty of thoughts below, but first here's the match.
I wrote about this back in 2004 in my top 50 matches from 2000 to 2004 (that's five years) column that some of you may remember. I rated the match five stars (out of five) meaning it is the epitome of an excellent wrestling match. Here was my analysis of that match:
This was a big match in many ways, especially for Austin. Just four months before this match he came back from neck surgery and we didn't really know what kind of shape he'd be in. He had some really good TV matches, and some okay PPV ones, but nothing to really tell us what we'd get from him here. What we ended up with was one of the finest brawls ever. The action did not stop here. Sure, at times they moved slower to sell the beatdowns and there's a good chance Austin was legit tired, but it didn't hurt the match one bit. What I liked the best about this match was it was booked so evenly. Neither guy was on the receiving end of punishment more than the other one. It was about as even a brawl as you could get, and obviously that was the goal of both guys once you saw the ending, which was also very even. I can't praise it enough. This was two guys at the top of their game in an element they had perfected. It doesn't get much better than this.
I remember at the time of match that I was upset with HHH going over here. While they made it clear that Austin wouldn't lose his Mania main event slot, I was surprised that he lost. Then when I mulled it over a bit more, I realized it was done with a hint toward the future, for that future Austin/HHH match later in the year where HHH would point out that he beat Austin earlier. If Hunter didn't tear his quad a few months after this, I'd assume that's where they were going with this. Austin didn't have to win here, so the booking did make sense after all. Austin was my wrestler of the year in 2001 while HHH was my wrestler of the year in 2000. While this match was exceptional, there was the sense that there'd be more from Austin and Hunter in the future. Sadly, there wasn't another match and that's okay because this match will stand on its own in my memory for as long as I live. Simply awesome.
Eleven years later, I still love it including the build up to the match. I bet if it took place at a WrestleMania more people would talk about how great it is. Another February match that I highly recommend is Angle vs. Undertaker from No Way Out 2006. That's a classic too. Obviously a lot of the Elimination Chamber matches are good and the Guerrero vs. Lesnar match from No Way Out 2004 is a favorite of a lot of people too. If you think about it, February's one of the better months in WWE history for having great matches.
What the crack lads? I will probably be saying that a lot now that Sheamus shocked the crap out of me by winning the 2012 Royal Rumble. I was so sure that Jericho was taking it and it would have been the end of the world as we knew it, but here we are.
I watched the Royal Rumble pay per view on Sunday. I actually paid for it. “Are you not entertained?” as Maximus would say. I was actually. I've read and heard mixed reactions but I was indeed entertained. Am I not merciful you busy little bees? Sorry, I just recently saw the movie Gladiator again and I've been quoting it nonstop in everyday conversations. Where was I? Oh ya...Royal Rumble. I enjoyed it even though the comedy spots were pretty predictable and I was left with more questions than I cared to answer after the fact. Thankfully I got most of my answers on Monday night RAW, which was the best episode this year so far. Hands down. I could talk about the great wrestling that was featured on the show, but I want to talk about what happened at the very end. I want to talk about the return of The Undertaker.
Before his return, I was already reading that a lot of people did not want to see Triple H face Undertaker for the third time at Wrestlemania 28. I can't say I agree. Personally I want to see it because it is the third time and quite frankly, third time is the charm as the saying goes. It makes it more believable that the streak could actually end, that instead of going 20-0 that Undertaker could in fact end his career 19-1. I have also read rumors that they may bring in HBK as a special guest referee. That to me makes the story going into this even more interesting and I am hoping they do. Sure they could have picked a new challenger, a younger opponent to help elevate, but it's not about that to me. It's about the streak. Besides, who else on the roster would you actually believe could end the streak? I would say Cena, but he is tied up with Rock so scratch him off the list. Also, will WWE acknowledge the fact that it is the third encounter between HHH & Taker? They didn't last year but I could see them doing it now play up more on the fact that Triple H just can't get it done. It could go many ways but I for one am very interested to see where this goes. Sure an opponent like Barrett or even Sheamus had he not won the Rumble would have been new and fresh, but would you believe either of them to be the one to end the streak? Not me. I was actually hoping instead of Sheamus choosing to challenge either champion that he would announce he wanted the streak. Don't see that happening now.
Until next week, Melo out & shut your mouth! (See what I did there?)
That's a wrap for this week. My Writing-fest continues with WrestleMania 3 going up on TJR on Monday, the Raw Deal on Tuesday, WrestleMania 4 on Wednesday, WrestleMania 5 on Friday and probably Canton's Corner a week from today. I may give myself a Canton's Corner break one of these weeks because I'm going to lose my mind sooner than I'd like if I don't. We'll see how it goes.
Have a great week. Enjoy the Super Bowl. Remember Giants 31-21. You're welcome.
Visit my 10+ year column archive at the Wrestling Oratory right HERE.