30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - 3-17-14
By Al Laiman
Mar 18, 2014 - 6:32:51 PM
credit Tom Jenner
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30 Thoughts With Al Laiman - 3-17-14
1. I'm in a good wrestling mood once again, thanks to last week's RAW, and watching Foley's documentary on Netflix. Looks like we have an epic preview video, and if it's not Two Steps From Hell, it's close. It also contains no ridiculously stupid voice-over. Holy shit, I haven't loved a preview video like this in years! Triple H starts off the show in the middle of the ring, getting the appropriate reaction from the crowd, and he warns them what's going to happen is their fault. Triple H is on his game here, bringing back some of that 2000-era heel greatness.
2. Before anything else can happen, Saliva cuts off Triple H, and Batista gets himself a heel reaction. Let's hope this crowd's energy keeps up all night. Nothing kills a good Road to WrestleMania show like an apathetic crowd. Batista isn't happy with Triple H for giving Bryan a shot at the main event, because he came back to be WW World Heavyweight Champion. No, that's not a typo. He also stutters over saying "Royal Rumble."
3. Randy Orton then gets added to the mix, thankfully saving us from hearing Batista speak in public. Randy Orton makes Batista sound like Chris Jericho on the stick by comparison. Triple H is offended that either of them think that Bryan has a chance, but the crowd loves the possibility. They're selling the effect while trying to trash him at the same time. This is great work. H makes Orton vs. Bryan, No DQ. Where's Admiral Akbar when you need him? Orton then cuts up Batista in fashion that almost makes me forget that I can't stand him.
4. Batista messes up saying the title name for the second time. Triple H walks out, but Batista calls on him to fix it. Triple H turns up the HAM to 11 in awesome fashion, throwing subtle shots aimed at others while technically saying them to Batista and Orton. He then says that he'll be in the triple threat main event when he beats Bryan. Orton RKOs Batista and gets a huge face pop for it. What a great opening segment, especially Hunter hitting his stride once he gets out of the ring. After the commercial, we then get a recap of what JUST HAPPENED, nearly in full. Triple H is gonna be tough to beat for the HAM of the Night though.
5. Batista claims on his way out that coming back was a big mistake. Took the words right out of our mouths, Big Dave. Meanwhile, the Real Americans and the Usos kick off the first match. The Usos continue getting amazing reactions themselves. To think that before this summer, they were seldom-seen jobbers, it's amazing how far they've come in such a short amount of time. It's also great to see actual tag teams competing over the tag titles. Lawler does his best Batista impression by messing up a catch phrase, and they continue talking about the popularity of "We, The People!" It's pretty simple, audiences love yelling three-word catch phrases, no matter what they are. Like "Feed Me More!" Remember when Ryback seemed like a star in the making?
6. Swagger takes control of the match by kicking one of the Usos so hard that he knocks him right into a commercial break. Cole takes the opportunity of big moves and close pinfalls to give the WWE some self-fellatio over how amazing they are. Jimmy Uso does a little Shelton Benjamin to get the hot tag to Jey. Just the hint of Cesaro getting in the Big Swing gets a huge reaction, but alas, poor Yorick, it was not meant to be. Biff eats a double superkick. Swagger then takes a high spot, but when the other Uso goes for his high spot, he gets the UPPERCUT RIGHT TO THE FUCK! What a finish! Very exciting tag team match between these two teams here. The dissent between the two is not referenced, ala The Shield as of late, but who cares... That was awesome.
7. Show plug, skip. Recaps, skip. Kane confronts the Shield backstage about their issues. Ambrose takes the opportunity to HAM it up a bit while Kane pleads for a united Shield. I didn't think Citizen Kane would turn out to just be jobber fodder for everyone. Meanwhile, Hornswoggle is passing out things at ringside while someone's sign blocks out Bad News Barrett being elevated.
8. I love this gimmick for Barrett, if only he actually wrestled more. Or at all. Barrett tells us all what we already know about St. Patrick's Day in a few seconds, though I think I kinda missed what the bad news was supposed to be.
9. Speaking of the Irish, the Warrior has been summoned! IT'S A SHAMEFUL THING, LOBSTERHEAD! A HOLIDAY THAT IS CELEBRATED BY IRISH IN AMERICA GETS EVERYTHING WRONG, HOAK HOGAN! THE SHAMROCK HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ANKLE LOCK, AND INSIDE THE LION'S DEN, NO FORCE OF DESTRUCITY IS GREAT ENOUGH TO BRING LOGIC TO THIS EQUATION. DRESSING IN GREEN, LOADING THE SPACESHIP WITH THE GUINNESS, THE ONLY REASON I REMEMBER WHAT TIME OF YEAR IT IS RESULTS FROM THE SHAMROCK SHAKE, HOAK HOGAN! YOU MAY HAVE SPONSORED PASTA, BUT I DEMAND THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MARKETING THE SHAMROCK SHAKE ON THE TERRAIN OF TESTAMENT! FEE FI FO FUM, SOMETHING STINKS, HOAK HOGAN! SOMETHING STINKS!
10. This is a St. Patrick's Day battle with Titus O'Neil, who hasn't been seen since his match with Darren Young, so yeah, Sheamus is getting yet another televised win. OhmyJBL, Titus what the fuck are you wearing? WWE gets to congratulate themselves again for getting something to trend because of an in-show plug, and the two big men slam into each other. Christian is the most interesting part of this match, making fun of everyone on commentary. Titus throws Hornswoggle in the ring and slaps him around a bit. It's actually a pretty creative bit; Titus throws Hornswoggle over his back, Sheamus catches him, and then uses him as a battering ram. That leads to the Blair Witch Forearm Chops of Doom, Titus gets a BOOT TO THE HEAD, and Sheamus wins... again.
11. Lobsterhead then cuts a promo about being in the Battle Royal. Pretty much the segment of television we've all come to expect, with Sheamus getting a predictable televised win, but at least Christian attacks afterward. Thankfully this isn't a WrestleMania match, as they've already given that match away several times.
12. Ahnold is coming to RAW, and he did the YES! chant? Oh dear JBL, the potential for HAM is through the roof! And apparently Scooby Doo will be there too? Kay. Cena's out next for his Wyatt Family match. He takes the mic and gives us another one of those summary promos, getting the usual mixed reactions. Cena admits to being afraid of Bray Wyatt, because he's afraid the Universe is listening to what he says. Well, there's the odds for Cena to overcome at WrestleMania. However, he is doing a great job of putting over the character and building him up quite well. Wyatt's earned it with some great performances and a unique character, something which we lack.
13. Wyatt interrupts him with a John Bender impression, and brings us another dose of his patented ramble. Wyatt does his job and gets the crowd to chant for Cena, despite a lot of them booing him before Wyatt coming out. Wyatt's response promo is gold, building Cena up as the dynasty and legacy that he is from the perspective of someone who isn't. All right, so it's not a Wyatt match, but the No DQ match is up already? That can't be good for Bryan.
14. More recaps. The arena explodes when Bryan's music hits, and man, seeing 75,000 people in New Orleans react to that is going to be amazing. Hey, maybe I'll win Foley's dream WrestleMania vacation, right? I won the Jim Brown experience, so stranger things have happened. Cole, for once, does his job of making Bryan seem huge and all-encompassing, which is really interesting when you think back to how Bryan started in the company. Selective memory, indeed. We've seen this match a lot, and it is close to WrestleMania, so I'm not exactly expecting something Universe-changing here. Dyslexic Akbar says, "IT'S A TARP!" Orton has a rare display of HAM explaining to a fan that it's a No-DQ match. "THERE'S NO BELL... TO RING!" Nevermind that there is, because it still rings when the match ends, Orton's rare burst of HAM supercedes logic. Dammit Orton, that's twice you've made me like you for a second tonight!
15. We come back with Orton continuing the abuse, and he even gets another HAMmy moment by saying "Nonononononono!" when Bryan tries to get away. This is the most fun I've had watching Orton in years, where has this guy been all this time? It seems like he's now finally having FUN! Cole says the word "bombshell" yet again, because I guess Mackenzie McHale is back there telling him he needs to use it more. Bryan begins his comeback, Hulking up and getting the crowd going nuts. Bryan gets his turn with the kendo stick, and Orton does a good job of selling the reluctance. What the hell is going on with him tonight? From the outside of the ring, Bryan goes crazy with the kendo stick and kicks Orton into the timekeeper's area where the bell that doesn't exist is kept. Orton uses a chair as an equalizer.
16. Batista hits the ring and GORES the hell out of Orton. Bryan kicks him out of the ring and gets the win over Orton. Bryan looked good there, but I have a feeling the Akbar warnings will be saved for later. There's still the confrontation with Triple H where bad things could happen. Batista and his skinny jeans give Orton a Batista Bomb while the crowd chants for one more. Weren't they the ones cheering Orton for RKOing Batista earlier tonight?
17. Here's the WWE Network whoring part of our show, and we're getting another fucking tutorial, skip. They must really think we're all idiots. Justin Roberts announces Paul Heyman like a scorned lover spotting him in public with someone else. Heyman illustrates how the last few Undertaker victories have been over people Lesnar has brutalized. What a clever idea. The video Heyman shows is fantastic, and it sounds like a John Hurt impersonator narrating it. The video department is on their game tonight. Maybe it's just by comparison to some of the other things we've seen tonight, but Heyman seemed subdued for a reigning HAM of the Year.
18. Meanwhile, Stephanie adamantly argues against just talking to Daniel Bryan while Triple H defends himself. Fandango's music hits, which means we get the delightful presence of Summer Rae. I'm guessing something with Emma continues here? Nope, Goldust! I'm good with that. I haven't seen his non-Rhodes entrance in a long time. One of the best themes of all time, hands down. Cody and Goldy then do a mocking waltz on top of the stage. That was ridiculously awesome. Goldust crawls across the ring like Delirious in slow motion, and is really playing up the bizarre. Goldust does some John Travolta while the commentary team confuses Saturday Night Live for Saturday Night Fever... Is Batista yelling at them in their headset?
19. Goldust tries for a hurricanrana, but Fandango botches the catch badly, and Goldy looks hurt. Fandango then either botches a suplex, or Goldust sandbagged him. It might be the latter. Goldy's bleeding, Cody checks on him immediately, and man... Goldust is PISSED! After a fun beginning, that sure as hell escalated quickly.
20. Citizen Kane makes his way out while they deliver us yet another hashtag we're supposed to use. Kane condemns the Occupy RAW movement, and after an investigation, proposes that Daniel Bryan didn't do everything on his own. Kane calls out Lawler for having a part in it to carry out an execution of orders.
21. The Shield's music hits while Citizen Kane demands Lawler's presence. So Kane needs the help of the Shield to reprimand a 60-some-year-old announcer now? What have they done to you, man? They refer to Kane as judge, jury, and executioner, though Kane has long since lost his executioner mask. Rollins takes the mic while saying that Bryan won't come to save him, which gets the YES! chants started.
22. Wait a second, The Shield turn around and face Kane. Official face turn? They've been over as hell for a while now. Citizen Kane's gonna be fodder yet again, but it's pretty awesome nonetheless. Reigns hits his huge spear before they angle up for the triple powerbomb while Kane screams after impact. JBL yells about it all being Daniel Bryan's fault for the 864th time tonight.
23. We've now reached our Total Divas portion of the show, though if social media told me anything last night, more people were watching the Talking Dead. The Funkadactyls are facing AJ and Tamina, and one of the Funkateers is returning from injury, so this can't be good for the Diva's champion. Brilliant commentary from the Nikki Bella here. The Entitlement Twins sell the show on Sunday more than the one we're watching now, which I guess is their job right now, but yeah... Doesn't give any sense of immediacy to the match.
24. Things I did during the Total Divas portion of the show:
Voxed my girlfriend.
Messaged a friend about dinner.
Checked on the delayed arrival time of the train.
Updated the metadata for the videos.
Wow, the returning Naomi pinned the champion clean, who the hell saw that coming? AJ continues to rack up televised losses against the reality stars. AJ yells at Tamina, and even she decides to push AJ on her ass. The tension of the moment is sold greatly by transitioning into a video game plug while it's still happening.
25. Cole says that the Hall of Fame ceremony the night before WrestleMania is "becoming a tradition." You mean it isn't already? So yeah, Mr. T is being inducted into the celebrity wing. Cue the fans bitching about him, Drew Carey, and the others, forgetting that he's in the celebrity wing. Unlike the others though, Mr. T was instrumental in the first WrestleMania, teaming with HOAK HOGAN!
26. More recaps, skip. Looks like we're in a preview for the Battle Royal match in an eight-man tag. Big Show gets an aside promo, while not referencing the gimmick about being Andre the Giant's son fortunately. Henry, Big Show, and Big E on the same team is definitely a power squad. Imagine that being in the rumored six-man tag division. Do you think Ziggler's de-push had anything to do with his concussions? He seems to be picking it back up a bit lately, especially teaming with the celebrity guest and going over the Black Hole of Charisma. Then again, that could be more of a reflection on Del Rio's status than anything.
27. Ziggler's the face in peril, as he takes abuse from all the heels, including a stalling suplex from RyVD. Hey, did you know JBL thinks it's all Daniel Bryan's fault? I haven't picked up on his subtlety yet. Everyone's getting their chance to shine here. Ziggler finally hits Big Show with the hot tag. Mayhem breaks out with trademark moves galore. Show gets a relatively simple win over Sandow to get the win for the faces. Probably to balance out the strong heel presence that's gonna be in the main event. Too much has gone right tonight for the good guys to end it any other way.
28. Recaps, skip. Batista then gets another interview where he finally gets the name of the championship right. Network plug, skip. Kofi Kingston gets the jobber entrance against the guy fighting Cena at WrestleMania, so yeah... Wyatt wins. The Wyatt/Cena feud is shown a highlight video, mid-entrance, with an Eminem song? A tongue-in-cheek reference to Cena's previous gimmick? Whatever, Wyatt dominates Kofi as expected. Wyatt hits Sister Abigail with virtually no offense from Kofi, the guy who pinned the World Champion clean before the Royal Rumble. Poor guy is seemingly just never gonna break through.
29. Triple H calls out Daniel Bryan to get things off his chest. Triple H is playing it so well tonight, even the haters have to give him credit. H claims that it was all business and not personal, then repeats it, in case Bryan didn't hear him say it I guess. He then claims it was all supposed to happen this way, and really sets the scene quite well for WrestleMania. H says he has no choice but to end everything and shut the whole thing down. He concludes it by saying that there are no hard feelings about it... Kay. I have a feeling this won't go well. H offers his hand, Bryan refuses, and H continues.
30. H explains that he's "dumped a ton on him" but puts over the fact that he's still standing there. H keeps on building and building, before the inevitable fall. Then the crowd starts... The CM Punk chant? Kay. H says that Bryan's earned his respect before he's interrupted by what seems to be permanently re-shrilled Stephanie. She says she's going to press charges, giving some local Indy talent the chance to be on the show as police officers. Triple H and Stephanie yell at each other while Bryan tries to keep the cops away. Are we in for some Austin-style copfighting here? Wow, the cops get pretty violent with him. H calls them off, before letting everyone in on the fact that they're not real cops. Uh oh, the other shoe's about to drop. What a great switch anyway though. He starts beating the hell out of the handcuffed Bryan. Kudos to Bryan for finding a way to sell all of this without protecting himself at all, but it makes me cringe all the same. Bryan does at least try to get some shots in, but it's pretty hopeless against the Cerebral Assassin in these conditions. Some will wonder if he should be getting a beating like this this close to WrestleMania, but it just makes the moment of (hopeful) revenge that much greater. Let us hope this isn't a Punk-2011 situation where it just ends all one-sided. Bryan still keeps trying to fight back to his credit, and Stephanie reminds us all of what watching Triple H matches during the Factgime used to sound like. Stephanie even gets to come in there with a shot to further the humiliation, and Bryan yells insults at her. Tough son of a bitch, no matter what. H then breaks the "No Chair Shots to the Head" rule and claps him one against the ring pots. Steph looks like the real villain in all of this, and that's probably intended. Great way to get Triple H heat going into WrestleMania, and it sets up the vengeance so well. Bryan didn't get buried, he went over the champion AND kept fighting back even while handcuffed and being brutalized. When the pendulum swings back, it'll swing hard. Overall though, great Road to WrestleMania show. The third hour slowed down a bit before the final segment, but no complaints. Face time was had as much as possible, and the show that once looked phoned in now has some serious anticipation.
Check out the trailer for my second short film, starring Jackie!
It's a tough call. Triple H, Goldust, and yes, Randy Orton all were contenders. I think Triple H was the most over-the-top, but Orton's was the most surprising. I gotta go with the chance to give it to Randy Orton, because JBL knows when I'll have the chance to give it to him again. I think I just made some Hater's head explode.
2012 - Daniel Bryan
2013 - Paul Heyman
1-6-14 - Dean Ambrose
1-13-14 - Big Show
1-20-14 - Big Show
2-3-14 - Bray Wyatt
2-17-14 - Titus O'Neil
2-24-14 - The Undertaker
3-3-14 - Paul Heyman
3-10-14 - Stephanie
3-17-14 - Randy Orton