Sunday, October 23, 2011

WWE Vengeance 2011

WWE Vengeance 2011
October 23rd, 2011
AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome everyone once again to 411mania's live coverage of WWE PPVs, most of you probably know me from doing the RAW, SmackDown, and TNA PPV reports, but tonight I'll be filling in for Scott Slimmer to do the WWE PPV. I haven't had much time to do alot of these recently, so I'm actually looking forward to the show despite the average looking card. We should have some solid action tonight though with John Cena taking on Alberto Del Rio in a Last Man Standing match for the WWE title, Triple H and CM Punk vs. The Miz and R-Truth, as well as Christian vs. Sheamus and a slew of other undercard matches to go along with the somewhat frightening prospect of the World Heavyweight title match between Mark Henry and the Big Show. Let's see if the WWE can't exceed our minimal expectations for this show, shall we?

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T

WWE Tag Team Title Match
Air Boom (Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne)
© vs. Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger

Before Justin Roberts can even announce our opening match, here comes Vickie "Screech" Guerrero to introduce them instead. Do Air Boom have another new remixed theme song now? They seem to change themes each week. Anywho, Dolph and Kofi start us off with some basic waist and wrist-lock exchanges. Kofi leap-frogs over Ziggler twice and then nails him with a back elbow and the sickest monkey flip I've ever seen in my life (Ziggler did a full 180 degree turn onto his face). Bourne tags in and they do a double-leapfrog dropkick. Kofi and Evan start utilizing some spiffy double-team combos comprising of all sorts of dropkicks and backflips. Kofi tries a cross-body onto Swagger and gets belly-to-belly suplexed out of his boots for a near fall. Heels take over control from here, with Ziggler nailing Kofi with a dropkick and then grinding him down with a scissors-hold on the mat. Swagger works a sleeper on Kofi for a bit until Kofi tags out to Bourne, whose all fired up and takes it out on Swagger with a flurry of frenzied spin kicks. Evan tries for the Air Bourne, but Swagger gets his knees up! Sick. Ziggler grabs a hold of Bourne's arm and grinds him down as the crowd starts to rally behind young Evan. They trade cradle near falls and Ziggler explodes with a huge lariat on Bourne for another two count. Swagger tags in and delivers a Vader bomb and Bourne still kicks out. Evan tries to tag out, but Swagger applies the ankle lock on him and then tags Ziggler in, who chokes Evan behind the ref's back with some classic heel antics. Big neckbreaker from Ziggler and Swagger tags back in as Evan takes the babyface beatdown of the year before blocking another Vader bomb with a stiff dropkick. Finally Kofi gets the hot tag and he explodes on Ziggler with a series of dropkicks and forearms. Kingston does the frog-splash cross-body onto Ziggler and the crowd totally buys into the near fall, but somehow Ziggler kicks out! Kofi hits the Boom Drop on him, followed by the S.O.S., but Swagger breaks the pin up. Swagger tries for the ankle lock, but Bourne takes him out with a pair of flying shotgun knees. Ziggler tries to roll Kofi up with a handful of tights, but Kofi kicks out, nails him with a dropkick, tags Evan back in, and Bourne delivers Air Bourne to Ziggler for the pin to retain the titles at 13:23! My god, that was the best damn PPV opening match I've seen from the WWE in many months and this was probably the best two-on-two tag match I've seen all year long. Red-hot action here with all four men firing on all cylinders to start off the PPV the right way. ***1/2

WWE US Title Match
Dolph Ziggler
© vs. Zack Ryder

Oh but remember, Dolph has to defend his US title against Zack Ryder directly after the opening tag match, so down runs the Long Island Iced Z and we have ourselves a US title match. Ryder is all over Ziggler to start, but Ziggler is able to fire off a neckbreaker. A huge "Let's Go Ryder!" chant starts up as Ziggler bails to the outside to try and catch his breath. Air Boom are still at ringside, so they kindly offer to toss Dolph back into the ring, the ref than expels Air Boom from ringside. ARE YOU SERIOUS BRO? The distraction allows Ziggler some time to regain his composure and take control of the match from here, grinding Ryder down into the mat with a headlock and elbow drop combination. Ryder misses the face-wash boot in the corner and Ziggler hits him with the Fameasser, but Ryder kicks out of it at the count of two. Ryder nails him with a pair of knees and then connects with a sickeningly stiff facewash boot in the corner on him. Swagger tries to trip Ryder up but Ryder holds onto the ropes only to turn around and walk right into a huge superkick from Dolph, which is enough for Ziggler to retain at 6:04. This was obviously rushed and chaotic, but it was very fun and worked well as a bit of an extension of the opening match. **1/2

Backstage CM Punk is seen talking with Ted DiBiase briefly before Triple H approaches him so they can come to an agreement for their tag team match tonight against R-Truth and The Miz. They promise to show them what a real "unsafe work environment" is.

Before the next match begins we see a "exclusive" interview with Kelly Kelly on Beth Phoenix, but Beth walks up and attacks her of course, choking her until Eve Torres is able to break them up. Sheesh, that really IS an unsafe work environment!

WWE Diva's Title Match
Beth Phoenix
© vs. Eve Torres

These two women are right into "catfight" mode to start as they try pulling each other's hair as the bell sounds. Eve tries a sunset flip for a near fall and Beth takes her down with a shoulder-block for a near fall of her own. Eve hits an enziguri on Beth and then she ties Beth's hands up in the second rope with the tassles on her skirt! The ref unties her and they butt heads. Beth shows her strength again by gorilla press slamming Eve onto the guard barrier outside the ring. Back in the ring Beth works over Eve's ribs with a scissors-hold. Eve wriggles out of it though and uses her body as a weapon with a standing senton that gets her a two count on Phoenix. Eve locks her arms and legs around Beth's arms in a scissors-hold that's reminsicent of jiu-jitsu and Eve looks really impressive here actually until Beth gets the rope-break. Both women are intent on trying to make the other scream and cry out as a sign of weakness. Beth slams Eve's head on the mat and then tries the Glam Slam, but Eve counters with a roll-up for a close two count. Eve nails Beth with a sidekick and follows it with a moonsault, but Beth rolls out of the way, picks Eve up, and gives her the Glam Slam to retain the title at 7:18. Sweet God almighty, that was actually a good, spirited little contest there! Probably the best one-on-one women's match I've seen in the WWE all year long, kudos to the ladies for a job well done here. **3/4

Backstage the Big Show tells Matt Striker the usual stuff. "Vengeance will be mine, I shall smite thy enemies, yadda yadda yadda", calling out Mark Henry for their title match tonight. In more interesting news we get the first preview of the upcoming Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart feud and the incredible sit-down interview Jim Ross did with both men. If there's a "DVD of the Year" award, this might win it in terms of new original content for the WWE, can't wait to see it.

Christian vs. Sheamus

Here we go now, this is a solid mid-show match right here. Christian is hesitant to start the match of course, soaking in his cowardly heel ways. When the bell does ring, Christian slaps Sheamus a few times before the big man feeds him a forearm and a scoop slam. Sheamus wraps Christian up in the ropes and lays in a flurry of hammer fists before bringing Christian back in with a great delayed vertical suplex for a two count. Crowd seems pretty worn out after the first three matches, which is a shame because these guys work great together. Christian fires off a neckbreaker and stomps away at Sheamus in the corner. Sheamus tries to mount a comeback but Christian takes him down with a flying back elbow from the second rope followed by a dropkick. Christian misses a diving headbutt and this gives Sheamus the chance to start his comeback with a huge powerslam followed by a fallaway slam. Sheamus delivers a slingshot shoulder-block over the top rope onto Christian, but still the slimey Canadian kicks out! Sheamus tries for the Brogue Kick, but Christian sees it coming and gives him a reverse DDT for another two count. Both men tease delivering their finishing maneuvers multiple times in a nifty sequence of counters, but Christian nails Sheamus in the face with a pair of boots and a cross-body, but Sheamus catches him into the Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus tries for the Brogue Kick again, but Christian spears him for yet another rapid near-fall! Christian delivers a sick top-rope frankensteiner on the big man and sets up for another spear, but Sheamus nails him with the Brogue Kick and that's enough to give Sheamus the win at 10:39! This one started off slow because the crowd seemed drained from the last few matches, but once these two guys got their signature counter-trading and high impact moves going along the crowd got right back into things and this was another great match with a hot finish. ***1/4

The Miz and R-Truth approach John Laurinaitis backstage to thank him for hiring them back. When he walks off they go into a battle of who can top the other in a contest of "Who sucks the hardest?" with contestants including CM Punk, Triple H, and the entire state of Texas. This is one strange team that oddly works. Also, when did the WWE start using actual good music for their PPVs? They hype the new Crystal Method album and the theme for this show,

Triple H/CM Punk vs. The Miz/R-Truth

And now we arrive at one of the main selling points of this show, Punk and Triple H teaming up to take on The Miz and R-Truth, who are basically John Laurinaitis' henchmen at this point. The video package to hype the feud beforehand is excellent here as well, one of the better ones they've done in awhile. Both Punk and Triple H get their usual big pops from the crowd with their entrances. Triple H, love him or hate him, is a staple in the WWE and it feels good to sit back on a Sunday night and watch him wrestle again. Punk and Miz start us off with Punk laying in some stiff kicks before tagging in Triple H. Miz scurries off and tags Truth in. It's K-Kwik vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley time! Triple H takes him down with a shoulder-block. Truth counters out of a whiplash into the corner with an extravagant, boasting cartwheel and Triple H takes a page out of Indiana Jones book and sets him straight with a blunt and stiff right hand. Punk tags in briefly to work Miz over before tagging Hunter back in, who applies a beautiful figure-four leglock to The Miz (and Punk holds his hands to add pressure to the hold in a page out of the Evolution heel playbook). Miz gets a rope break but Punk just tags in and grabs a hold of his arm in an armbar. Punk grinds him down for a bit until Hunter tags back in and goes to town on both Miz and Truth, clotheslining the both of them out of the ring. Suddenly in a moment straight out of Bizarro World, Michael Cole compares Triple H and CM Punk to the Republicans in the GOP, unsure of what they want. See, Cole's a heel, and Vince is a conservative, so his thinking is probably "If Cole harps on about the Republicans, people will love them!". Oh Vince you sly fox. Back to the action, back in the ring Truth is fending off Hunter with a side-headlock. Truth hits the spinning corkscrew elbow on Triple H, but only for a two count. Miz tags in and slaps a headlock onto Hunter to grind him down before tagging Truth in, who applies a leglock around Hunter's head to do the same thing until Hunter drops Truth in the electric chair slam position. Hunter delivers a huge DDT to Truth and then finally gets the hot tag to Punk, who springboards into the ring with a flying forearm before exploding on both of the heels with a flurry of running knees and lariat combos. Punk goes to the top rope and hits a perfect Macho Man-esque elbow drop onto The Miz while Triple H and Truth brawl around ringside. Suddenly Kevin Nash appears out of nowhere in the front row and nails Triple H! Back in the ring Punk sets up for the Go 2 Sleep, but Truth and Miz counter it and perform a combination of their respective finishers on him to pick up the win at 15:37! This was about as formulaic as a tag team match gets, but the formula is the standard for a reason (because it usually works). This wasn't an epic or anything or even a match you might remember a year from now, but this was solid tag team formula stuff while it lasted, and the booking advances the whole Triple H/Punk/Nash angle, as you know damn well they're going to get Kevin Nash back on PPV in a match sometime soon come hell or high water. ***

After the match Kevin Nash beats down Triple H some more and delivers the jackknife powerbomb on his former best friend before walking off into the crowd to a chorus of boos.Triple H appears to have injured his shoulder from that powerbomb from Nash, though I'm not sure if that's legit or not (probably not). Backstage Alberto Del Rio barges in on John Laurinaitis, demanding to know why he was booked into a Last Man Standing match tonight. Johnny tells him not to worry, because everything's going to be okay. Then we get a close up of some seriously creepy Cena and Undertaker wax models for no apparent reason. Okay then. Thanks?

Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes

Ah yes, the budding battle of former Legacy stablemates. This has been in the works for a few years now and these two have become very familiar with one another, so this should be another solid encounter. Both men are fired up to start with the usual lock-up attempts, but Cody quickly takes off outside and slides back in quickly to fake out Orton and deliver a gourdbuster to him, followed by a kneedrop. Rhodes slaps a headlock onto Orton for a bit but Orton counters with a back suplex. Rhodes nails him with a dropkick and then synches on a deep Boston crab on the Viper, who writhes in pain on the mat. Randy tries to escape, but Rhodes pulls out a stiff Alabama Slam for a close two count. Rhodes goes for a beautiful moonsault, but there's no one home and Rhodes crashes and burns. Orton fires off a powerslam on Rhodes and then dropkicks him while he's coming off the top rope. Rhodes nails Orton with the Beautiful Disaster knee to the face (I guess they're calling it that now) but it only nets him a two count. Rhodes tries to counter the second-rope DDT, but Orton counters that counter with a backbreaker! Rhodes tries for the moonsault again, and this time he hits it on a standing Orton for another close near fall. Rhodes misses the follow-up knee-drop and has one of his bagmen try to distract Orton, then he delivers the Cross-Rhodes to Randy and nearly wins it, but the Viper kicks out! Rhodes wastes time mocking Orton's whole Viper routine, which gives Orton enough time to go into his own routine and deliver an RKO to Rhodes while Cody's trying to call out more bagmen, and Orton picks up the win at 12:13. Another contest that started off slow and that the crowd seemed a bit bored with, but eventually they got into it as both men picked up the pace and delivered the solid encounter you'd expect from them. ***

World Heavyweight Title Match
Mark Henry
© vs. Big Show

So this is one of those matches that sounds interesting on paper, but when it actually happens, you realize "Oh, right, this is probably going to suck". OR IS IT? Big Show immediately unloads on Henry with a flurry of punches in the corner, which sends Henry to the floor to catch his breath and regain his composure. Show hip-tosses Mark Henry back into the ring (which is actually kind of impressive) and then gives a freaking superkick to Henry as well! What the heck, has Show been taking yoga or something? He hasn't been this limber in a long time. Henry has had enough and grabs his title, trying to take off and take the count-out loss, but Show stops him and drags him into the ring. Henry chop blocks Show out from under his knee and then delivers a gigantic (literally!) scoop slam on the Big Show! Show's formerly injured leg is hurting him again and Henry immediately zones in on it, working it over with elbow drops and stretches. Henry continues the leg work on Show, twisting his foot and knee into nasty angles until both men wind up on their knees, trading huge left and right hands in a slugfest. Show manages to deliver the chokeslam to Henry, but the big man kicks out! Big Show tries for his lethal right hand punch, but Henry counters into the World's Strongest Slam. Big Show still kicks out of that as well though and Henry is flabbergasted. He goes to the top rope and Big Show tosses him off with a top rope chokeslam, but again Henry kicks out! Henry then manages to deliver a SUPERPLEX to the Big Show from the top rope, which completely destroys the ring and all four corners go flying as the ropes sag down limply around the two gargantuan bodies in the middle of the ring, totally exhausted. That was crazy and probably the best "ring breaking" spot the WWE has ever done. The crowd is going apeshit for all of this mind you. Both men are still down and the referees signal for the EMTs as it appears we're going to have ourselves a no contest here at around the 13:00 minute mark. Because these two men weigh as much as a brick house, the EMTs have to call down a medical cart to host the two men. Teddy Long and John Laurinaitis make their way out to the ring as they're really trying to sell this as legit. Both men are given standing ovations as they're taken away by medical personnel. Honestly this was the best possible route they could have gone with this match, because it keeps the resurgent heel Henry strong and still champion whilst not having the Big Show take a clean pin and lose credibility as one of the top faces on SmackDown. The match itself was plodding to begin with, but they actually picked it up really nicely towards the end and the last few sequences of spots were jaw-dropping. Give this match a proper finish and I'd call this in the *** territory, but alas, I don't rate matches that end in a "No Contest". N/A

After both men have been carted off, John Laurinaitis grabs a mic and introduces himself to the crowd. He informs them that no matter what injuries sustained by the Big Show or Mark Henry or the condition of the ring, we WILL have a WWE title match tonight.

WWE Title Last Man Standing Match
Alberto Del Rio
© vs. John Cena

Cena has a new anti-bullying t-shirt that reads "Rise Above Hate" on the front. I'm usually not a fan of the corny anti-bullying messages the WWE tries to spread, but that's a simple statement we can all take to heart. Cena stands right next to a guy wearing a "We Hate Cena" t-shirt at ringside and then hops into the ring, which still has no ropes or turnbuckles because of the last match. The bell sounds and Ricardo helps out Del Rio so he can get a hot start. Del Rio hands out a snap suplex and a big boot followed by a kick right to the center of Cena's spine. Del Rio shoots Cena face-first into the steel post outside the ring as Cole and King put over how this is the first time that the WWE has ever had a show continue on after the ring has been destroyed like this. Del Rio delivers a flurry of back suplexes to Cena back in the ring and the ref gets a seven count out of it. The usual dueling Cena chants start up as Cena starts his comeback already, barely seven minutes into the match. Shoulder-block followed by the five knuckle shuffle. Del Rio walks right into an Attitude Adjustment moments later and both men are down for the count this time. Ricardo tries to interfere again, but Cena kicks him off. The distraction allows Del Rio to sink in a deep, deep sleeper hold onto Cena however, seemingly knocking John unconscious. Cena gets up at the last second however and then just launches Del Rio out of the ring and back-first into the barricade! Creative spot there because of the no-rope environment. Ricardo tries once again to interfere, so Cena crotches him on the steel post. Del Rio stomps away at Cena in the ring before being knocked into the steel post from a drop toe hold. Cena tries throwing a set of steel steps at Del Rio, but he moves at the last second and then slams Cena face-first into it instead. Both men brawl up the rampway and into the backstage area where Cena drags Del Rio over a table of snacks. Cena tries to push this gigantic piece of equipment onto Alberto, but Del Rio escapes in time and then body slams Cena onto that same piece of equipment. Cena tumbles to the floor and Del Rio throws a large steel structure on top of him. Del Rio throws a second, third, and fourth piece of steel on top of Cena, but he STILL gets up at the ref's count of eight so they brawl back into the ringside area. Ricardo again tries to interfere, so Del Rio tosses Cena through the large letter "V" symbol on the stage area. Del Rio sets up a table and starts to climb up some scaffolding to jump down onto Cena, but Cena pops back up and tosses Del Rio down and through the table! Del Rio gets up at the count of nine though. They brawl back down to ringside and around the announcer's tables now. Del Rio tries for an enziguri on Cena, but he hits the ringpost instead. This gives Cena enough time to pick him up and deliver the Attitude Adjustment to Del Rio through the Spanish announcer's table! Suddenly The Miz and R-Truth hit the ring and attack Cena though, delivering their respective finisher's on him and laying him out. The ref comes close to the ten count again, but finally Cena gets up at the last millisecond so Del Rio nails Cena with the title belt, which is ultimately enough to put Cena down for the ten count and give Del Rio the win at 26:59. This was a strange match, switching back and forth from periods of utter boredom to the kind of very creative, well-orchestrated spots that you come to expect from gimmick matches like these. Probably one of the better matches these two have had together and while it's nowhere near the best LMS match I've ever seen, it was a worthy enough addition to the history of gimmick matches in the company. ***1/4

Bottom Line: I went into this show with low expectations, and I found myself pleasantly surprised by the consistently high quality of in-ring action through-out the evening. There were no match of the year contenders here or even a **** match, but every match on this show managed to hit atleast the **1/2 star mark, which is damn consistent and applaudable. If you're looking for a solid, consistent wrestling PPV, this would be a recommendable show to you. However, if you're looking for a great show that's going to stop you in your tracks and have you talking about it for weeks, this wasn't it. But there's nothing wrong with that, they can't all be epics, can they? Thumbs Up from me tonight.

Score: 7.0/10

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