Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Date: June 16, 2013
Location: Allstate Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield, Jerry Lawler
First of all, Happy Birthday Mom. This show doesn’t look all that strong on paper. It’s been built up well enough, but the main story is HHH who isn’t even booked on the show. We have a main event of Ryback vs. Cena in a 3 Stages of Hell match for the world title but it’s only gotten a decent build while other stuff (such as the Shield) has gotten most of the air time. Let’s get to it.
Pre-Show: Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow
Before the match we see R-Truth, Big Show (now a face apparently) and Cody Rhodes as our expert panel. This match is a result of Sandow testing Sheamus’ mental strength in a series of challenges. Sheamus runs Damien over with a shoulder block to start but Sandow fires back with right hands in the corner. A powerslam stops Sandow’s offense and the top rope shoulder gets two for Sheamus. Damien rolls to the floor to avoid the ten forearms to the chest and is sent into the barricade for his efforts.
Sandow comes back with a knee to the head and Sheamus is actually in trouble. We hit a chinlock back inside before Sandow goes up top, only to be slammed down. Sandow hits the Russian legsweep and Wind-Up Elbow for two before….we take a break? Yes, we’re taking a break on the free pre-show. Back with Sandow pounding Sheamus down as the fans chant “You are welcome!”. Sheamus stands up to drop Sandow with an electric chair with Cole talking about George Hackenschmidt vs. Frank Gotch in Chicago.
Sheamus tries to come back in and gets caught with a knee lift and a neckbreaker for two. Sandow is sent to the apron for ten forearms followed by the Regal Roll for two. With Sandow down, Sheamus goes up top for what looks like a shoulder block, only to be crotched by Damien. A neckbreaker gets two for Sandow but the Terminus only gets two. Sandow charges into three straight Irish Curses and the Brogue Kick finishes him at 10:25.
Rating: C. This wasn’t bad but it’s the same problem that everyone predicted: Sheamus beats Sandow every time so why should this be any different? Sandow isn’t on Sheamus’ level and never has been, but now we’re supposed to believe Damien can get a win? I don’t think many people bought that leading up to the show, although the match wasn’t terrible.
The opening video is about Chicago being run by gangsters back in the 1930s but the gangsters eventually received payback. We look at the main events with the voiceover talking about how you know when payback is coming.
Intercontinental Title: Curtis Axel vs. The Miz vs. Wade Barrett
Barrett is defending and Axel is a last minute substitute for a concussed Fandango. Miz and Barrett traded the title in April and had been feuding with Fandango for a few weeks. Miz pounds away on both guys to start with Axel being thrown out to the floor. Barrett gets in a sneak attack and Miz heads to the floor. The heels brawl for a few seconds before all three guys are back inside. Barrett gets two off a big boot to Miz as Axel is staying on the floor with Heyman.
Wade pounds Miz down and pulls Curtis to the apron for some knees to the face. Barrett crotches himself on the top rope as he misses a big boot, allowing Axel to take over on Miz. Axel rakes his boot across Miz’s face before hitting a snap belly to back suplex for two. All three are back in now with Miz taking over on both guys and hitting the corner clothesline on Barrett in the corner. A kick to Axel’s face gets two for Miz but he charges into the Winds of Change to stop him cold.
Axel escapes Wasteland and gets two off a PerfectPlex. The fans are getting into this now. Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale on Axel but only gets two as Barrett delays the cover. Axel is sent to the floor and Miz gets the Figure Four on Barrett, but Curtis slides back in and covers Barrett while he’s still in the hold for the pin and the title at 10:38.
Rating: C+. Axel winning is as good as he can do at this point and the ending was pretty creative. Barrett losing the title is the right idea as his two reigns have made him look worthless. Hopefully Axel can do a bit better as there’s no need to have the champion destroyed over and over again.
The announcers push the idea of Axel winning the title on Father’s Day as a tribute to his dad.
Mark Henry is back tomorrow night. Word on the street is that he’s retiring.
Axel and Heyman run into HHH in the back. HHH won’t let Axel pass but here’s Vince to congratulate the new champion. Axel leaves in fear of Vince so the boss can suggest Axel vs. HHH on Raw. HHH says he isn’t feeling it after begging Vince for the match last week.
Divas Title: Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee
Kaitlyn and AJ were best friends for like two months last fall and we’re finally getting the match between them in June. AJ had Big E. Langston pretend to like Kaitlyn and then say it was a trick to make her feel worthless in a decent idea, but at the end of the day this is an eight month old story for the most worthless title in the company.
Kaitlyn takes it straight to the floor and throws AJ around before pounding on her in the ring. AJ takes it back to the floor and suckers Kaitlyn into a dropkick from the apron for two before putting on a cravate. Two straight neckbreakers get a near fall for AJ and it’s off to a sleeper. Kaitlyn fights out and dropkicks AJ down, only for AJ to pop back up and hook a crucifix for two. Kaitlyn sits up and lifts AJ into a fireman’s carry gutbuster for two of her own.
AJ plays possum and kicks Kaitlyn in the face for two. Lee goes up top but Kaitlyn catches her cross body in mid air. The champion spins her around but gets caught in the Black Widow, only to spin out of it into a backbreaker to AJ. The spear puts AJ down again but Kaitlyn takes forever to cover and only gets two. Kaitlyn misses a charge into the corner and gets caught in the Black Widow to give AJ the title at 9:57.
Rating: C. Not bad here but the ending was obvious given the buildup. AJ winning the title is the right move but this should have happened about eight months ago with Kaitlyn being the big challenger for the title instead of the other way around. It’s better than most Divas matches over the last few PPVs but it’s not going to change the division in any major way.
The fans tell Kaitlyn that she tapped out.
After the replays Layla, Nattie and Alicia console AJ in the back.
We go back to the expert panel from the pre-show for predictions and a chat about Axel winning the title.
Video on the Wyatt Family.
US Title: Dean Ambrose vs. Kane
Ambrose is defending because Kane beat him via DQ recently. Dean goes after Kane to start but the big man keeps punching him down. A quick suplex gets two on Ambrose and we’re already in a chinlock. There’s the low dropkick by Kane but Ambrose takes out Kane’s knee to block a second. Ambrose works on the knee before cranking on the neck. Kane fights out of a neckbreaker and goes up top but misses the top rope clothesline.
A jumping back elbow gets two for Dean and the champion hooks a dragon sleeper. Kane fights out of it and hooks the side slam for two. Dean ties him up in the ropes and slaps Kane in the face, earning himself a big boot to the jaw. Ambrose fights up and cranks on the arm before loading up Old School.
Kane breaks it up for his brother’s honor and hits the top rope clothesline, only to have Dean stun him across the ropes. Ambrose is kicked to the floor and they slug it out for a bit with Kane taking The big man puts him down and loads up the announce table, only to have Dean catch him in a DDT on the floor for the countout at 9:30.
Rating: C-. This was ok but the countout finish was stupid. It’s not like Kane is going to fall apart by being pinned by the US Champion on PPV. The DDT sounded great and Kane sold it well, but it should have been in the ring. At least Ambrose defended the title the first time out though, and maybe he can hold the thing more than a few months.
RVD is coming back at MITB. Nothing wrong with that but what was up with him being on TNA’s website after being released?
Smackdown World Title: Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler
This is the long awaited rematch after Ziggler won the title in a MITB cash-in back in April. Dolph was injured by Swagger and has been out for about five weeks since. The fans are totally behind Ziggler here. Ziggler bails to the floor in the first fifteen seconds and is out again in less than another minute. Back in and Del Rio takes him into the corner as a BIG RVD chant goes up.
Del Rio goes after the injured head with kicks in the corner and a running kick gets two. Ziggler comes back with a dropkick but is backdropped to the floor, hitting his head again. Alberto rams him head first into the announce table and Langston shoves the challenger around. That’s good for an ejection and the distraction lets Ziggler ram Alberto face first into the announce table.
Back inside now but Dolph is shaken up. Del Rio hooks a chinlock as Ziggler is being treated like a face here. The cross armbreaker is countered into the sleeper from Ziggler but Del Rio sends him into the corner to escape. Ziggler is put into the ropes for the forearms to the back and the Backstabber for two. Del Rio is wrestling like a heel here. The armbreaker is countered into a neckbreaker for two for the champion. Cole is calling this like Dolph is a face. Ziggler gets back up and pounds away before mostly botching the Fameasser.
Dolph can barely stand up because of his head injuries but he climbs to the top anyway. Del Rio runs the ropes for the enziguri before hitting a reverse superplex for two. A baseball slide puts Ziggy on the floor and Del Rio kicks him square in the head from the apron. The doctor comes out to look at Ziggler but Dolph tries to get up. Del Rio hits a baseball slide to the back of Ziggler’s head and the champion is gone.
Ricardo is cheering Del Rio on as Alberto hits a running enziguri to a kneeling Ziggler for two. The fans are openly booing Del Rio and Cole is acknowledging it. Dolph pulls himself up on Del Rio’s trunks and hits a Zig Zag out of nowhere. Ziggler has nothing left though and gets kicked in the head again, giving Del Rio the pin and the title at 13:55.
Rating: B-. This was all about the story instead of the wrestling which made for an interesting match. It came off like the ultra-rare double turn as Ziggler was wrestling like an underdog while Del Rio was being vicious with the kicks and showing no mercy on Ziggler’s head injuries. That’s very interesting and probably the right idea for a guy like Dolph.
Del Rio celebrates to some VERY moderate applause but most people are either in shock or angry.
The expert panel talks about what we just saw.
The fans LOUDLY chant for Ziggler as Del Rio thanks the people in a slightly condescending way. He asks for cheers because he deserves to be champion.
We recap Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk. Jericho questioned Punk still being the best in the world when he hadn’t been around in nearly two months. Heyman disagreed and signed Punk up for the match in Punk’s return in his hometown.
The panel previews the match.
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
Jericho comes out to CM PUNK chants but it’s not anti-Jericho. Punk gets a big reaction but it’s not thunderous. I’m thinking the fans don’t love his mutton chops. Cole lists off some famous wrestlers from Chicago including One Man Gang (not exactly a big deal) and the Crusher (from Milwaukee) but nothing about the LOD or Lex Luger. They trade control on the mat with Jericho being booed out of the building. Back up and Jericho grabs a headlock for very early control.
Punk counters into a headlock of his own and they chop it out. Jericho stomps Punk down into the corner and is booed for the first time in years. Punk is sent to the outside for a baseball slide but he counters the springboard dropkick with a guillotine. Back in and Punk hits a top rope ax handle and hooks a top wristlock. Off to a shortarm scissors as it seems like they’ve got a lot of time to work with here.
Back up and Punk is sent into the buckle to give Jericho a breather. Some shoulders put Punk down as does an ax handle but he avoids the Lionsault. A swinging neckbreaker gets two for CM and the fans are cheering for both guys. The corner bulldog is shoved away to give the Canadian two and there are the Walls of Jericho. Punk crawls through and hooks the Anaconda Vice but Jericho gets his feet onto the ropes.
Punk calls for the GTS but Jericho counters into the Walls which are countered into a GTS which is countered into a rollup for two. A Codebreaker gets two for Chris and it’s time for the main event strike off. Punk kicks away at Jericho’s head and hits a leg lariat to put Jericho down. The knee in the corner sets up the Macho Elbow but the GTS is only good for two. Another Codebreaker is broken up and Jericho is sent to the outside. Punk hits the suicide dive but Punk counters the springboard clothesline into the Codebreaker…..for two. The place is going NUTS on these kickouts now.
Jericho pins back the arms and drives in elbows to the face as the fans chant THIS IS AWESOME. Jericho hits a good 25 elbows and Punk is in big trouble. The Walls are countered into a small package for two more and they slug it out with Punk getting the better of it. A standing hurricanrana is countered into the Walls so Heyman begins to pray. Punk punches Jericho’s sore arm to make it a half crab before fighting up and hitting a pair of GTS’s for the pin at 21:27.
Rating: A-. This was the kind of match that Punk needed to have in his return. The fans weren’t completely hating Jericho but he was clearly the heel in the match, pretty much by default. Punk is going to be a huge face by fan response alone so turning him wouldn’t be a problem at all. This was the great match you would expect from these two on this stage.
Tag Titles: Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton/Daniel Bryan
Same story as before: the challengers beat Shield in a non-title match and earned a shot here. Bryan starts things off and moonsaults over Reigns, only to have his head taken off by a clothesline for two. Off to Rollins as Cole screws up the result of the Shield loss on Smackdown. Reigns throws Seth into Bryan for two before Roman comes in for a chinlock. An elbow to the face gets two for Reigns and it’s back to the chinlock.
Bryan fights back with a running clothesline and makes the hot tag off to Randy. Reigns takes the Elevated DDT and the fans are barely responding to this at all. Rollins gets one as well but he rolls to the floor before Orton can load up the RKO. Reigns punches Orton out to the floor. Orton gets to play Ricky Morton for awhile as the fans chant for RVD. Randy tries to fight out of the corner but gets caught in a Downward Spiral into the middle buckle to slow him down.
Reigns gets two off a kick to the head and it’s back to Rollins to stomp him down. Off to a reverse chinlock on Orton but Randy quickly fights up. Reigns’ charge goes into the post and Bryan finally gets the hot tag. A missile dropkick puts both Shield members down and Bryan fires off the kicks to Reigns’ chest. Bryan low bridges Roman to the floor before throwing Rollins on top of him.
The suicide dive only hits Orton though and the challengers are in trouble. Back in and Bryan hits a butterfly superplex for two on Rollins and there’s the NO Lock. Reigns makes the save but Bryan throws the hold on one more time, only to have Reigns break it up again. Orton shoves Bryan into the spear by mistake, allowing Rollins to hit a running knee to the back of Bryan’s head for the pin at 12:10.
Rating: C+. This wasn’t a great match but it did everything they needed to do. I’m guessing this sets up Bryan and Orton down the line (probably on Raw tomorrow night) but Bryan needs a world title push given how hot he is at the moment. Shield retaining the titles is fine but the match was only good compared to their usual great stuff.
We recap the main event. Ryback fought Cena to a no contest at Extreme Rules but Cena wouldn’t go into an ambulance. The result: a 3 Stages of Hell match with the first fall being a lumberjack match, the second being a tables match and the third being an ambulance match. Ryback went on a path of rage, powerbombing a lot of people through tables over the last few weeks.
Raw World Title: Ryback vs. John Cena
The first fall is a lumberjack match with pretty much any wrestler you would name at ringside. Ryback powers Cena into the corner to start and counters the bulldog into a belly to back slam for two. Cena comes back with a fisherman’s suplex and some elbow drops as Cole talks about the “historic” extreme lumberjack match in 2006. Who even remembered that thing back in like 2007? It was against Sabu at Vengeance 2006 if I remember correctly but dear goodness who thought of that match and thought Cole should bring it up?
The AA is countered into the over the shoulder Stunner for two for Ryback. Cena is thrown to the outside and pummeled by the lumberjacks (JTG still has a job. Who knew?) before Ryback gets to destroy him a bit more. The lumberjacks get another crack at Cena but he gets back in fast enough to send Ryback to the lumberjacks as well. Ryback gets back in unscathed so Cena can initiate his finishing sequence, only to be sent into the other lumberjacks this time. Back in and Ryback is sent to the floor again but not touched this time either.
We get the required lumberjack brawl but Cena DIVES onto all of them at the same time in a huge crash. Back in and Cena hooks the STF but Ryback powers out and gets the Shell Shock for the first fall at 7:32. We’re at the tables match now with the lumberjacks all gone. Ryback immediately tackles Cena down and has early control of the second fall. Here’s the first table of the night but Cena escapes the powerslam. A spinebuster puts Cena down and the fans chant Goldberg.
Cena escapes a gorilla press into the AA but Ryback reaches down and flips the table over while still on Cena’s shoulders. We head to the floor and Cena is whipped into the steps to give Ryback control again. Ryback sets up the table in the corner before knocking Cena down with the steps in the ring. Cena staggers up next to the table but the steps go through the table instead of the champion.
Cena puts Ryback down with a belly to belly suplex and some steps to the head to put Ryback down. Here’s another table in the ring but Cena is placed onto it instead, only to get back off of it when Ryback drops the steps through the table. Ryback launches the steps at Cena but they go out to the floor, allowing Cena to hit the shoulder blocks and the Shuffle. Ryback comes back with a spinebuster and the Meat Hook before getting another table. The Shell Shock is loaded up but Cena counters into a quick AA to tie it up at 16:10.
The third fall is an ambulance match, meaning the first person to be placed inside an ambulance to the doors shut loses. Ryback takes Cena down 25 seconds after the AA and loads up the announce table. More Goldberg chants abound as Cena is powerbombed through a table. The third fall officially begins with Ryback dragging Cena to the ambulance, only to be shoved into it by the champion.
Cena pulls a crutch from the ambulance but Ryback knocks it out of his hands. A punch misses Cena and goes through the glass but Ryback doesn’t seem to mind. Cena rams him back first into the ambulance doors but can’t follow up. They open the driver’s door so Cena can whip Ryack into it so hard that the door breaks off. An ambulance door to the face staggers Ryback but he throws Cena into the front of the ambulance.
The bumper is ripped off the front of the ambulance and Ryback wraps it around Cena’s back. Cena blocks a powerbomb into a backdrop onto the hood and starts climbing up to the top. An emergency light to Ryback’s shoulder knocks him back to the floor but Ryback is right back up. Cena stares down at him and they brawl on top of the ambulance until Cena hits an AA through the roof to retain at 24:38.
Rating: B-. This was good but by the end it was a spot fest. It was certainly entertaining but I don’t think anyone bought Ryback as a real threat to the belt. The fact that he hasn’t won a major PPV match since at least August might have something to do with it but I’m not quite sure. It’s good stuff but nothing I’ll remember three days from now.
Overall Rating: B+. While it isn’t as great as some people have said it was, this falls into the category of very pleasant surprise. Granted when the level of interest coming into this was somewhere between a root canal and butter, it’s not that hard to be better than expected. There’s nothing bad on the show though and a lot of interesting stuff happened. Good show here and hopefully the start of something new for WWE.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!