The Best And Worst Of WWE Battleground

Pre-show notes:

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– Pay-per-view reports kinda kick my ass when it comes to trying to crank out them and a full Raw report in the span of 24 hours, so I’m taking a rare week off from The Best and Worst of WWE Raw column and handing it over to my good friend Mr. Joe Starr. You may know him as the host of The Joe Starr Show (Starring Joe Starr) at The Nerdist or from a thousand other things. I’m telling you now so you don’t do that WHERE’S BRANDON BRING BACK BRANDON thing tomorrow. Also, so you don’t do that “this is way better than when Brandon does it” thing. DON’T DO ANY THINGS.

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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Battleground. Battletoads. Something.

Best: Honestly Rob Van Dam Was Pretty Stupid To Assume Alberto Del Rio Was Bad At Hardcore Matches

If you remember his promo from Raw, notable Hardcore Guy Rob Van Dam mentioned how Alberto Del Rio “leaves no mercy” in the ring, but doesn’t know what he’s getting into when he agrees to a hardcore match. Keep in mind that Del Rio won a Money in the Bank ladder match back in 2011 and has beaten both the largest (The Big Show) and most impossible to beat (John Cena) pro wrestlers in last man standing matches. But sure dude, you were in ECW 12 years ago and have spent the last few years in TNA beating up guys who were ALSO in ECW 12 years ago (Christian York, Kid Kash, Jerry Lynn). I’m sure you’re fine.

Van Dam’s been a lot better than he’s had to be during his latest WWE run and I give him credit for that, but I was pretty confused when the crowd was chanting “this is awesome” following a not-totally-successful jump onto a ladder in the corner, a kick to the back of the head and an awkward, slow fall backwards. Del Rio jumped and double-stomped the ladder in a display of extremely mild violence, then spent most of the match lying around holding it in place while Van Dam got ready to jump on him. It wasn’t my bag, but I got a kick out of Van Dam tapping clean (well, as clean as the match allows) with a chair wrapped around his arm. People love him and he’s doing what people love, and he ends it with a little “sorry” sticky-note to me attached to an image of him being hurt. I can live with that.

Next time do your homework, though. You aren’t a spring chicken, Rob, and people have been having ladders splashed onto them pretty regularly since you influenced the Hardy Boyz to influence everybody else. Van Dam should’ve been all, “you don’t know what you’re getting into when you have a hardcore match with R, V, D!” and then just brought a gun to the ring and shot somebody.

Worst: Ricardo Rodriguez
Double Worst: Ricardo Rodriguez’s Stoner Facial Hair

Man, what an unbelievably butt-licker this guy’s become.

When he was paired up with Alberto Del Rio, there was a clear employer-employee thing that provided clear context for Ricardo Rodriguez being at ringside. This dick Mexican guy has a bunch of employees, so of course he has a personal ring announcer, and that ring announcer sticks around to cheat for him and help him win matches. It’s the kind of reasonable people boo, and nerds like me think is cool or funny. It works. Eventually they stayed together long enough for us to get invested in their friendship, and when Del Rio turned face he was finally allowed to say, “hey, you’re not so bad,” and let Ricardo wear a festive bow tie or drive one of his cars or whatever. When Del Rio got sick of pandering for admiration, his yo-yoing emotions caused him to … uh, attack Ricardo with a bucket and sever the friendship. That could only logically go in one of two directions:

1. Ricardo vanishing forever and never being mentioned again, because contextually he’s just one of Del Rio’s employees and that should’ve been that.

2. Ricardo remaining in WWE to become a wrestler and settle the score with Del Rio for attack him, which works because Ricardo’s a pretty good wrestler and is/was an easy guy to identify with or cheer for.

But no, in WWE “being a good guy” means “doing the most irrational, obnoxious thing possible at all times,” so of course Ricardo stuck around to be the personal ring announcer of a guy who has never provided evidence that he’s rich enough to get a haircut or buy new clothes in the last decade. Now he gets to wear the pinker version of Van Dam’s shirt, interfere in matches Van Dam’s supposed to be an expert in to save his ass from a heel who is playing by the rules and kicking his ass and have the worst, saddest stoner chin-hair I’ve ever seen. Seriously, did Charles Schulz draw his beard?

I was hoping Del Rio was gonna pull out some piano wire and choke him to death when they were in the ring together, but I’ll accept him being hurled into the guardrail and instantly dispatched. When somebody does you wrong, it’s okay (in WWE, at least) to get revenge. When you’re still getting revenge two months later for no reason, that’s on you.

Best: ‘Tired Of This Shit’ Antonio Cesaro Is The Best

I don’t know if he was drunk or just sick of being crammed into things with Santino Marella, but Antonio Cesaro was WONDERFUL last night. When the Real Americans were asked to stand behind a Zeb Colter promo and more or less just say “YEAH, SEE,” Cesaro turned it into a masterful narrative, pantomiming everything Zeb said, responding to it seemingly at random and making PFFT, I DON’T KNOW faces the entire time. It was Cesaro’s personality raging, raging against the dying of the light.

It extended to the match, too, where Cesaro got into position for a sprint (and stumbled around) before running to the ring with Swagger and throwing his Don’t Tread On Me cape-flag around all willy-nilly. It was like Cesaro was Shawn Michaels, and everything around him was a posturing Hulk Hogan.

Best: A Literal Giant Swing

Then, of course, came the reason this match happened at all: so WWE could get coverage on blogs that only talk about wrestling when people die or ridiculous shit happens like a giant swing on an actual giant.

Cesaro is a beast, and the fact that he CAN giant swing The Great Khali should forever guarantee him a spot on the show, and I hope these feats of strength eventually will away the Tea Party stuff and turn him face. I can’t imagine being a wrestling fan and not liking this guy. I would’ve loved him when I was five. A big weird foreign guy who can lift ANYBODY and throw them in ANY WAY. It’s amazing. He transcends that “he’s a good worker” crap we get into arguments about on the Internet over guys like Dean Ambrose or Dolph Ziggler and goes straight into “this man is our physical superior and we should be lucky to employ him.” It’s like Nikita Koloff is a real guy and has Mark Henry’s strength. He is THE BEST.

I’m excited to see what they have him giantly swing as the showcase spot at WrestleMania (my gut says Brodus Clay, but my heart says El Torito), but I’m even more excited for the day he breaks out the UFO on WWE television and blows everybody’s minds.

Worst: Triple H And Stephanie Can’t Be Here For The Blowoff To A Bunch Of Matches They Spent A Month Personally Manipulating The Outcomes Of

At some point during the show we jump backstage to Brad Maddox, who is on the phone with Triple H, who is no longer at the arena. Vickie Guerrero shows up for no reason to be the guy Maddox says TRIPLE H ISN’T HERE to, and yes, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon had to run off to a meeting that they I guess scheduled on a Sunday night at 9 PM on the night of their company’s big pay-per-view featuring a bunch of matches they specifically, personally manipulated over the last several months. Do what now? It’s like flirting with a girl for months, asking her out, buying tickets to a Broadway show, making dinner reservations and then staying home to host a f*cking webinar.

And sure, I’m guessing they weren’t there as to have plausible deniability when The Big Show knocked Daniel Bryan out in the main event, but … okay, I just wrote and had to move an entire paragraph about why the main event doesn’t make sense, so let me get through this goddamn Curtis Axel match and we’ll pick it back up later.

Worst: Woof, Pay-Per-View Edition

Battleground was just an episode of Raw without commercials. That’s it. It was three hours long, the WWE Championship segment didn’t go anywhere, Big Show got emotionally conflicted about some stuff, there was a comedy Santino match, some people got rolled-up and pinned after a distraction, champions lost non-title matches, The Shield had a great match, Kofi Kingston pointlessly wrestled, the CM Punk/Paul Heyman beef moved forward without really going anywhere and Curtis Axel wrestled R-Truth. I handed off the Raw report in favor of writing about the pay-per-view and ended up writing about Raw. I am Sisyphus on the Internet.

Curtis Axel pinned R-Truth with the yet-to-be-named hangman’s facebuster and it was fine, but it was sincerely the most Raw motherf*cker of all time and I hope you enjoyed it. You’re making me miss the Domino’s commercials, Battleground.

Worst: R-Truth Only Had A Match On Battleground So His Hell In A Cell Promo Wouldn’t Seem Random, Didn’t He

If you missed the Hell in a Cell 2013 poster, it’s of a black man in jail. If that wasn’t indicative of WWE’s opinion of black people, the commercial for Hell in a Cell features him acting like a preacher. You’re making me miss the Popeyes commercials, Battleground.

Best: And Now, Here’s Everybody I Love

oh thank god

Unsurprisingly, The Shield vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust was the best match on the show by a mile, and one of my favorite WWE pay-per-view matches of the year. That’s honestly a pretty great list right now. I’d put it alongside the Elimination Chamber match from Elimination Chamber and … wow, that might be it. Is it weird that there have been a billion good matches this year, and almost every single one of them was on free TV?

This one worked because (surprise) it was a straight-forward, emotional, high-stakes tag team match featuring a bunch of guys who are great at wrestling. Making wrestling work is like trying to convince people how to diet. They want to tell you it’s about specific supplements and products and pills but nope, all you have to do is eat right and exercise. Unless you have a medical condition, that’ll do it for you. In this analogy, “a medical condition” is Ring Of Honor.

The Rhodes family story is really saving my ass when it comes to enjoying WWE right now. They’ve turned Daniel Bryan into a sarcastic little asshole with terrible luck, they’ve put CM Punk in this Groundhog Day bubble where he does and says the same thing every week and they’ve nerfed Damien Sandow to the point that Justin Roberts could probably RKO and pin him, but the Rhodes family gets one awesome segment every week where the story moves forward, things of importance happen and great matches are in abundance. My favorite wrestlers from the 80s, 90s and now are all there, and even the Stephanie McMahon content involves her getting face-palmed. Thank you so much for this, everybody involved.

Best: Goldust’s Darth Maul Paint

He’s been painting his face up like that on the indies from time to time for a while, but I will proudly give a Best to its WWE debut. I was really hoping Roman Reigns would spear him and he’d just stand there, look down and then fall in half.

Best: Dusty Rhodes Is Still So Great I Can’t Stand It

One of the big highlights of the match was Dusty Rhodes vs. Dean Ambrose on the outside. If you missed it, Dean tried to interfere, got punched off the apron and ended up running afoul of Dusty. Dusty starts taking off his belt and Ambrose is just all up in his face like YEAH WHAT’RE YOU GONNA DO OLD MAN, BELIEVE IN THE SHIELD or whatever and Dusty just takes the f*cking belt buckle in his hand and PUNCHES AMBROSE STRAIGHT IN THE FACE WITH IT.

No wrapping, no wind-up, just a straight punch to the face with metal. Ambrose wobbles around, so Dusty flips, flops and flies and bionically elbows him to death. It made me smile from ear to ear, and the only downside is that it made me wonder how great that Ambrose/Mick Foley feud would’ve been if Foley’s neurologist hadn’t had basic medical competence and told him to stay the f*ck away from a wrestling ring.

Best: A Celebration Of Rhodeses, Or
Best: Hey Look, Kaitlyn Still Exists

The end of the match was wonderful for four big reasons:

1. That Cross Rhodes was outstanding. Most people sell it by spinning over really fast onto their face, and hey, that works, but Seth Rollins sells it by spinning IN THE AIR, meaning he just kinda floats at zero gravity and lets Cody whip him around. I loved it. You can blame Dolph Ziggler’s descent into meaninglessness on a lot of things, but for me what did it was Seth Rollins showing up and being better than him at the one thing he’s truly great at doing.

2. EMOTIONAL DUSTY RHODES. I am not ashamed to say that Dusty Rhodes getting emotional made me have ALLERGIES IN THE SAWDUST FACTORY or whatever it is guys say on the Internet instead of “cry.” I loved the big hug at the end, but I also loved the unintentional touch of HOW they hugged. When Dustin and Cody hugged, it was this forceful, happy thing. They were equals. When they both hugged their dad, Cody hugged him straight on, head to head, but Dustin sorta hunched over and hugged him in the armpit … suggesting that Cody sees himself as his father’s equal, but Dustin doesn’t.

3. Cody and Dustin have their WWE jobs back, which not only means GOLDUST ON EVERY RAW (YEAHHH) but that all that pipe dreamy fantasy booking I was doing about Sandow cashing in Money in the Bank as a vessel to get Cody and Goldust World Heavyweight Championship feuds might actually happen. Goldust for WHC, please and thank you.

4. The WE’RE ONLY EMPLOYED SO WE CAN HAVE A BIG ENOUGH CELEBRATION CROWD posse emerged from backstage to celebrate the Rhodes’ victory, and I’m gonna Best any gaggle of expendable jerks that appears. Hey look, Zack Ryder has his own cancer shirt. Isn’t it cute that they think people still buy Zack Ryder shirts? Also, Kaitlyn still exists! WHERE YOU AT, GIRL. Best outfit of the stage goes to Justin Gabriel, though, for his windbreaker and Breast Cancer Awareness undershirt combo.

Best: Jump-cutting To Tamina Strangling A Bella Is Magical

The Brie Bella title challenge wasn’t spectacular, but it was the best Bellas singles match ever in a walk and way better than Axel/Truth. I was pretty high on it when it was happening, but the “I’m in control of the match OH NO I’M BEING DISTRACTED BY SOMETHING HAPPENING NEARBY whoops oh no I’ve been rolled up and pinned” trope really hurt it for me.

What that didn’t hurt is how hard I laughed when Brie and AJ were standing around and suddenly the camera just jump-cut to Tamina Snuka strangling the shit out of Nikki Bella for no reason. They didn’t set it up or show Nikki wander over or anything, just BOOM, Nikki’s about to die. In theory shouldn’t that have only distracted Brie the way it did if she was watching the live feed of the match she was wrestling?

Ah well. Good news is that the Divas Championship does not have to automatically default to the cast of Total Divas for that show to continue, and maybe Brie can continue using the show’s downtime to practice bridges or burpees or whatever with her soon-to-be-husband and make “someone from Total Divas won the Divas Championship” not sound like a nightmare.

Best: Kofi Kingston’s Batman: The Animated Series Bane Tights

Kofi Kingston spent several years with a smiling black man’s face on his ass, so when he upgrades the gear I try to give it applause. Last night he had BANE FACES on his tights, specifically Bane from ‘Batman The Animated Series.’ They aren’t as cool as the Skeletor ones (because honestly, nothing will ever be as cool as the Skeletor ones) but they’re a huge upgrade from palm trees and Kofi Kingston silhouettes.

Unfortunately Kofi loses infinite points for having a shirt that says SKILLZ ALL DAY. That has got to be the most embarrassing shirt going right now. You aren’t allowed to have a cancer version of a shirt if people have never seen the regular one. Couldn’t they have made the I CAN FLY shirt pink? If AJ Lee’s shirt can say LOVE LIFE now, Kofi’s can say I CAN’T DIE.

Best: Bray Wyatt Goes Full Voldo

what are you doing

what what what are you doing

I’ll talk about this a little more when I get to the final Worst on this page, but if Bray has to wrestle a meaningless match against a guy he barely threatened and deliver a vague, un-Bray-like promo about how he’s going to vaguely attack all KINDS of nobodies, at least he got to do some memorably weird stuff. I still love Bray’s crossbody, made even better by WWE’s new slow-motion camera. They should’ve had that camera years ago so we wouldn’t have to sit through those crummy foward-step SUDDENLY FAST replays they love.

Worst: The Miz, Daniel Bryan’s NXT Pro, Doing Daniel Bryan’s Signature Taunts While Bryan Competes For The WWE Championship And Is One Of Four Unimportant Dudes Hosting A Fake NFL Experts Panel About A Show He Isn’t Booked On Is The Most Miz Moment Of All Time


Best: A Dick-Kick That Knocks You Unconscious

Again, I need to talk about this match more in the last Worst on the page, but I’m giving Ryback vs. CM Punk a facetious Best for ending when CM Punk kicks Ryback in the crotch and then just laterally-presses the shit out of him for the victory. It’s not a big dick-kick and a rollup with momentum to get the flash win, the low blow seriously KNOCKS RYBACK OUT, and he’s just rendered helpless, lying there with his eyes closed and his shoulders down. How hilarious is that? Why are your EYES CLOSED? Have you ever been hit in the balls by accident and instantly fallen asleep?

Worst: WWE Is Treading The Shit Out Of Some Water

So, here’s the situation we’re facing.

Back in the summer, it looked like we were gonna have a Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan feud. The Wyatt Family debuted and took out Kane, and sure, Kane and Bryan had sorta gone their separate ways and everything, but a fun new character from NXT who desperately needs to look good and work with someone competent to get over and more importantly stay over just showed up with a bunch of guys with beards and attacked the former tag team partner of the most notable beard-haver in WWE. I’m not an insider or anything, but that seemed like the plan.

Suddenly, Daniel Bryan got super popular. At the same time, John Cena’s body decided to fall apart at the arm and put him out for a few months. Sheamus got hurt, and so did Mark Henry. CM Punk’s stuck in the dead middle of a storyline with Paul Heyman and can’t make an appearance in anybody else’s story or everything about the evil corporation running Raw will fall apart and stop making sense. So Bray Wyatt takes out Kane and Daniel Bryan needs to be off fighting Randy Orton, so now Bray Wyatt is doing ABSOLUTELY F*CKING NOTHING, saying nothing, accomplishing nothing until that catches up to itself. Treading water.

John Cena had to leave and everybody was chanting YES all the time, so Cena got into a championship thing with Daniel Bryan. Vince McMahon showed up to make it clear that he wanted neither man to be the champion. Bryan wins against all odds or whatever, then Triple H and Randy Orton team up to attack/cash-in on him and make Orton the face of the company. That books the next few months with Bryan chasing Orton, right? NOPE. John Cena is the only true champion, so at the next f*cking show they have the title get held up and NOBODY is champion, and Bryan and Orton end up main-eventing TWO CONSECUTIVE PAY-PER-VIEWS that don’t end with real decisions. Treading water.

What’s going on with Punk? He wants Paul Heyman’s head, but Heyman’s hiding behind his biggest and toughest client Brock Lesnar. That should be involve a few Punk/Lesnar matches, with Lesnar looking unstoppable and Punk eventually finding a way to triumph, send him packing and get Heyman all to himself, right? The problem is that Lesnar sends HIMSELF packing every few months and has a limited amount of dates, so they have Lesnar destroy Punk a little bit and vanish. So now they have to give Heyman fake Lesnar (Ryback) to sorta kill time and pad everything out until Lesnar actually gets free and signed up and shows up to fight. Treading water.

If you trace these stories back to the summer, none of them have moved forward. Nothing they’ve done since SummerSlam matters. The Cody story is seriously the only story where ANYTHING HAPPENS EVER, and they wonder why everybody would rather watch football and not pay 60 bucks for a shitty episode of Raw. Stop treading water, guys. The upside to an unexpectedly forced plot twist is that you can write a new story around it and see where it goes. Maybe find something new that works. Instead, nothing matters, nobody’s doing anything and you’ve turned a bunch of spectacularly-talented wrestlers into empty, dumbed-down versions of themselves. Bray is a licensed hat and lamp. Punk is a story outline. Bryan is a beard and a word.

It’s the most disappointing thing in the world, and I can’t wait until Survivor Series when stuff is allowed to happen again.

Best: Welcome Back, Burgundy!

The Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton championship main-event was good, 25-minute match capped by an ending so impossibly stupid that the only good thing I can remember about it is that Bryan’s ditched the bright red trunks and gone back to the William Regal burgundy.

Worst: The F*ck Was That

If you missed the ending to Battleground and want to wallow in the misfortune of those who didn’t, here’s what happened: after a very long, back-and-forth championship match, Bryan got Orton in the Yes Lock and Big Show appeared. Show (in tears~!) pulls the referee out of the ring. Daniel Bryan asked him what he was doing at ringside and Show knocked him out with a KO punch. Brad Maddox wandered out onto the stage and sent out referee Scott Armstrong, who started to count a three for Orton. Before he could, Show pulled him out of the ring and knocked him out. Then Show climbed into the ring and knocked out Orton. Brad Maddox looked stunned, Big Show’s music started up for some reason and the show ended with him posing triumphantly on the ropes as though he’d accomplished something greater than RUINING EVERYTHING.

Here’s what I wrote back on page 2 and had to copy over here:

The entire purpose of the Battleground main event is that it was a makeup for last month’s pay-per-view which caused the WWE Championship to be held up. You know, because Triple H didn’t want Daniel Bryan to have it but was also disappointed in Randy Orton’s inability to get the job done. So they have this match to fix it, and the big swerve is that Big Show comes out having been ordered to either knock out Daniel Bryan, thereby giving Orton the belt after spending a month on how you don’t want to just give Orton the belt, or knock out BOTH of them, which puts you right back where the Night of Champions main event puts you and accomplishes nothing.

So WHY THE HELL ARE TRIPLE H AND STEPHANIE NOT HERE? Why be the evil puppet-masters of the WWE Championship, Big Show’s cruelty and the futures of the Rhodes family (among other things) only to let them all be decided by fate at the last minute? Are you just nihilists? Is the entire last month of manipulative bullshit an excuse for Triple H to put Brad Maddox in an awkward position so he can remove him as Raw GM without upsetting Vince, who only put him into position because he’s a random-as-f*ck old man and Maddox was standing beside him in the ring when he needed a replacement for Vickie? Couldn’t Triple H have just say YA FIRED and assumed Vince doesn’t watch the show anyway?

I think the idea was that we were supposed to be happy Big Show knocked out Orton. It’s supposed to be this turning point where he’s not taking orders anymore and can be his own man or whatever. The problem is that 1) he did it when the people who always threaten him and make him feel bad weren’t around, so it was meaningless, and 2) he didn’t follow it up by dragging Bryan onto Orton and actually making a difference by letting Bryan pick up the win. He just ruined the match and posed over it while the crowd sat still and wondered, “is that it?”

And yeah, that was it. I don’t know. Maybe tomorrow Triple H will overturn the entire pay-per-view and be all, “we’ve got another show in like two weeks guys, we’re gonna redo everything but everything’s gonna be in a cage. Also, maybe me and Stephanie will show up.”

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night

Victor Perfecto!

Christ, the monthly PPVs are like those episodes of Dragonball where the dudes just keep charging and charging to stall until the next manga chapter comes out to adapt.


John Cena: “yeahhhhh, if you could make it so NO ONE has my title while I’m gone…that would be grrreeeaaattttt”


Tonight, the part of Big Show will be played by Strong Sad.


They tried to shoot a Ryback breast cancer awareness promo, but they couldn’t get him to say anything other than “This, is what happens… TO BOOBIES”.





Mr Grift

I’d love it if after years of the gimmick Bray Wyatt revealed himself as a sham and that he started his cult for the religious tax exemption. #IRS


OH MY GOD, Dusty, Goldust and Cody as a team can be Antique Rhodes Show.


I’m so glad I got to see this live before they do it again on Raw tomorrow.


This match actually makes a lot of sense. Real American heroes are always at odds with Cobra.


“The chair right?”
“Alright, I’ll use the chair, calm down guys.”


Miz: This almost as exciting as when I mentored Alex Riley!

Best: Live Report Ahoy!

I’ve included a live report from reader Downbound92 on the final page. Be sure to give that a read. Thanks, DB!

Hello With Leatherers, long-time reader and commenter, first time contributor here. With the relatively good product WWE has been putting out lately, rather than grapple with a mediocre stream that I totally paid for, I proudly put down $85 for my lady friend, Jess, and I to go to Buffalo’s First Niagara Center to see Daniel Bryan, The Rhodeses, CM Punk, Antonio Cesaro, and all the rest (R-Truth) put on Battleground a.k.a the inexplicable FIRST October pay-per-view a.k.a. the one you would skip to save money for Survivor Series.

Before the show, I noticed a Bray Wyatt hat and sheep mask at the mobile WWE shop (next to a $30 mini WWE Championship). And Bray Wyatt was featured prominently in the advertising for the WWE’s next appearance in Buffalo. He is treated like a big, important guy, but is not written like one.

Walking into the arena, the theme on the video screens was apparently “right before a nuclear attack”.

This was Jess’ first exposure to wrestling at all. I think she agreed to go with me because she likes me or something. Her grasp of wrestling was limited to a quick tutoring session from one of her friends, during which she became familiar with, as she called them, The Little Guy, The Walrus, The Mean Men in Black, The Blonde Guy who Dances a Lot, The Big Guy, and The Gorilla. Here’s a couple of tips for people bringing newbies to the show: 1. Always hold their purse when they go the bathroom. 2. Do not tell them about the fireworks. The joy I got from watching her get shocked by the fireworks (and then not get fazed at all by RVD’s pyro), probably thinking someone had been shot, was greater than the joy I got from 95% of the card.

Now, maybe it’s because I was in the cheap seats, but I did not feel like I was surrounded by like-minded wrestling fans. After almost 2 years in our wonderful little bubble, it was startling to see people point at themselves when RVD did, and boo Alberto Del Rio because…he’s Mexican and is proud of his rich heritage? I don’t know. At the same time, it was kind of fun to just let go and let myself be puppeted by WWE Creative.

Maybe it was because it was the first match of the night (oh yah, The Blonde Guy who Dances a Lot and Damien Sandow admirably jerked the curtain), but the crowd was solidly behind RVD, from what I could tell. Now as I said, this was Jess’ first exposure to wrestling (I wouldn’t find out how green she was until later) and she could have either been disgusted and left me for, I don’t know, some hockey fan, or she could have been a totally game wrestling fan who made me ashamed of my cynical, withered wrestling soul, making me long for the days when I flipped my shit at Jeff Hardy beating Triple H and played hookey at boy scouts to play hours of WWF No Mercy. Luckily for me, it was the latter. She was genuinely moved and excited by the match (an RVD/Del Rio match, no less) and genuinely concerned for the safety of all involved. Watching her, every near fall could have really ended the match and everyone was really getting hurt!

Next up was The Real Americans vs. Santino and The Great Khali. I don’t know if this was played on TV, but Zeb Colter did a very Buffalo-centric promo before the match that completely slammed the great, struggling city of Buffalo and predictably ended with the entire arena, full of Buffalonians who had just been shit on, passionately preaching “We the People”. Ordinarily, I would have rolled my eyes. But, you know what, sometimes it’s fun to say things with a lot of people.

Jess again expressed concern for the safety of the wrestlers (“Is the midget going to wrestle?”). Antonio Cesaro put on an absolutely amazing show of strength. When he tossed his shirt into the audience, it went over the whole ring and completely over the floor seating area. Unless his shirt was made of lead (a poor choice during Breast Cancer Awareness Month), that was pretty impressive. And oh yah, then there was THE BIG SWING. Even in Buffalo, which isn’t exactly a post-Wrestlemania crowd if you know what I mean, this move is very over. It was the first time (and almost only time) people got to their feet all night.

Next up was Curtis Axel vs. R-Truth. People were actually excited to see and rap with R-Truth. Another experience outside the bubble. Jess, the first time she had ever seen or heard of Curtis Axel or R-Truth, said “I am not concerned for their safety”. She was excited to point out The Walrus, though.

AJ vs. Brie Bella was fine, really. The crowd was so confused as to who to cheer for, though. Maybe it’s a failure of the creative team or the Bella Twins as human beings, but people naturally seem to boo them.

Then, there was The Rhodeses vs. The Mean Men in Black, by far the high point of the night. Jess’ enjoyment peaked here and she was on the edge of her seat. I was on the edge of my seat. And when The Rhodeses won, we celebrated and almost cried. Truly, The Rhodeses celebrating with the babyface roster is the high-point of friendship-based wrestling. Everyone involved was amazing and the story was executed perfectly. Jess had high praise for Dusty Rhodes (“That old guy is awesome”).

While we were talking about the match, I realized that…Jess was unaware this was all scripted. Seriously, she thought all of the action was real and The Rhodeses had just got their jobs back. Having to break the news to her restored my wrestling heart to its normal, cynical, withered state. This new-found information seriously affected her enjoyment of the Bray Wyatt/Kofi Kingston match. Though, to be fair, that might have been a case of bad timing. Yeeeeeesh. No Jess, neither of these people are Randy Savage.

The crowd was pumped for CM Punk and he got a huge reaction. Interestingly, only D-Bry and CM Punk got the “long pause before music and thunderous applause” treatment. I guess they are at the top! The lack of stakes in this match between Punk and The Big Guy (representative of the whole PPV, Rhodeses excluded) did not restore Jess’ feelings and my wrestling heart remained in something of a power outage.

Luckily, The Little Guy was able to work his magic and get Jess believing again, despite knowing that everything was scripted. Orton and D-Bry put on a really enjoyable match. Now, I knew full well that there would be shenanigans that would probably result in D-Bry being screwed. So, here comes The Gorilla to deliver my shenanigans and make me feel smart. He punches D-Bry and I think “Oh no, he’s a bad guy!” Then, he costs Orton the title and I think “Yay he’s on our side and D-Bry is going to win the title and probably lose it again tomorrow night, but at least tonight we’ll be happy”. Then…Big Show just stomps around the ring like a Gorilla and…is he the WWE Champion? No, everything is just kind of over and I look as perplexed as Brad Maddox. Jess too.

You could feel the nothingness that ended the show in the crowd. There was an audible sense of nothingness. I expected shenanigans and I understood the necessity of this part of the story to the arc of this big storyline. but I also expected a definitive ending, not a RAW ending. After the show ended, D-Bry hit a running knee on Orton to send the fans home happy, Justin Roberts reminding us to return to First Niagara for a house show in January. That ending was not the greatest advertisement, Justin Roberts.

But, overall, I left pretty satisfied. The show was overall entertaining, filled with fun moments (THE BIG SWING) and moments I’ll never forget (tearing up at The Rhodeses). I would have been bored out of my mind if I had watched this on a mediocre stream I totally paid for, but I guess you just had to be there. I’m Downbound92 (points at self). WE THE PEOPLE