Last night, Key Stone Light spokesman Keith Stone accompanied the Bella Twins to ringside during WWE’s Capitol Punishment, begging a number of questions. What was Keith Stone, the world’s smoothest man, doing at a WWE pay-per-view? Why did Nikki & Brie even come to the ringside area in the first place? Has the WWE completely abandoned the illusion of sanity? Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers for you. What I do have are my reactions to the rest of the event, which saw new champions crowned, my man crush on CM Punk grow, and a pretty horrid presidential imposter wasting the time of everyone trying to enjoy the show. Read all about it after the jump.
- Dolph Ziggler is the new United States Champion. He and Dolph Ziggler put on a pretty decent show, although their match failed to distinguish itself from any of their dozen or so prior bouts. Ziggler was victorious when he locked on a Sleeper Hold, doing a good job of keeping Kofi from reaching the ropes. The pressure of the sleeper managed to put Kofi, um, to sleep, and thus the referee called for the bell. Since there was no pinfall or submission (the match ended on Kofi passing out), I’m a little fuzzy on why Ziggler was awarded the title. Hasn’t the rule for title changes always been pinfall or submission? Whatever happened to the Champion’s advantage? And since when does a guy get declared “knocked out” without having his arm dropped three times? At any rate, the outcome is of little consequence, as the belt currently means nothing and I don’t see either man springboarding up the card anytime soon.
- Alex Riley stinks. But he beat the Miz last night. After a pretty boring match that was mostly dominated by The Miz, Riley hit a DDT for the win. Riley got a decent pop during his entrance, but the crowd died soon after, as it was probably lulled to sleep by the lack of action. Thus far, most of Riley’s crowd reaction has been based around cheap tactics, and the trend continued in the middle of his match with Miz when he grabbed Michael Cole by the tie and removed him from the announce table. I don’t think Riley lacks potential, but he’s in no way ready to ascend the card, and he certainly shouldn’t have been booked over The Miz. I fully expect these two to have a pay-per-view rematch next month, this time with Miz walking out the victor.
- Before the Alberto Del Rio vs Big Show match could even begin, the two men brawled all over the ringside area. While they were trading punches, Mark Henry appeared out of nowhere and DESTROYED the Big Show. He tossed the World’s Largest Athlete around like a ragdoll, the attack culminating with a World’s Strongest Slam through the Spanish Announce Table. More impressive, Henry actually took a few steps while holding Show horizontally across his chest before slamming him. After Henry’s attack, the match finally begun, with Alberto Del Rio capitalizing on the pre-match assault and targeting Show’s leg. After an awesome spot where Alberto locked in his trademark cross arm breaker on Show’s injured leg, the big man was unable to continue and the match was called. They probably should have just had him tap out to the move, but whatever. Henry’s mugging of Show was downright scary – I think this is the first time in Henry’s fifteen year career I’ve ever taken anything he’s done seriously. Granted, that doesn’t mean I think he’s going to suddenly become a valuable commodity in the WWE, but he looked good last night.
- In his last promo as Intercontinental Champion, Wade Barrett cracked the WWE’s third Anthony Weiner joke of the week. Somewhere, Vince McMahon cackled to himself. Ezekiel Jackson was victorious after his usual series of powerslams leading to the Torture Rack. This match was pretty much what you’d expect it to be – slow and plodding but not a disaster. After Zeke’s big win, he was interviewed by the King. His promo skills could stand to improve – he seemed to be channeling Ahmed Johnson. Barrett is his clear superior, and now with the Corre and the IC Title in his rearview mirror, maybe jolly ol’ Wade will be able to make a lasting transition into the main event scene once and for all.
- I have a raging, schoolboy infatuation with CM Punk. I could write poetry about the man. Decked out in some nifty patriotic duds for his visit to the nation’s capital, God’s gift to wrestling notched a win over Rey Mysterio in a fantastic match. We’ve seen these guys go at it dozens of times over the past few years, and every time this match manages to impress me. Late-match high spots saw Mysterio counter the Go To Sleep with a Hurricanrana, some sick stiff kicks from Punk, and finally the 619 reversed into a GTS. The amazing exchange to end it was just one of many impressive sequences that Rey & Punk charted, and both men deserve praise poured over them for their work last night. Meanwhile, before the match, Punk spoke cryptically about the future of the WWE once more, piquing the interest of inquiring wrestling minds everywhere. As an aside, do your homework, Cole. Punk’s father was an alcoholic. Dick.
- Randy Orton retained the World Heavyweight Title against Christian. Sigh. I was really pulling for Christian in this one. The even bigger shame is that Christian had his foot under the bottom rope when Orton pinned him, so the count should have been stopped. This probably translates into Christian reverting back to his old whiney heel persona, which is nowhere near as good as the recently developing angry Christian character. If not for Rhodes and Daniel Bryan, I think I might give up on Smackdown altogether.
- Jack Swagger & Evan Bourne participated in an unannounced bonus match, one that the latter was able to win after reversing the Ankle Lock into a pinning combination. This match was really sweet, and I was pumped to see these guys as a last minute addition to the card. I’ve said it before, but Swagger works incredibly well as a menacing bully type, and Bourne’s most natural role is that of a loveable underdog. Working with each other, both guys are able to perform in their best possible respective postures. Good to see Bourne steal another victory, and a continued program between he and Swagger would make me one happy camper.
- All night, backstage segments featuring a fake President Obama polluted the pay-per-view. They culminated when the impersonator approached a podium on the stage to address the WWE Universe, cracking awful political jokes and eventually joining Booker T in the ring to do a spinaroonie. This segment was beyond terrible. I can’t cast it in any other light, there was absolutely no redeeming quality about it. It was dripping that Vinny Mac brand humor that no one on the planet besides Vince finds funny. The decision to put it on just prior to the main event made it even worst, as it killed any momentum that the show had going.
- I’m sorry, but Booker T is unlistenable. I’ve done my best to give him a fair shake as a commentator, but he’s ruining shows. He yells “Whoa!” after every move and “What the hell?!” every time somebody kicks out. Last night, at the sight of the Bellas with Keith Stone, he emphatically declared “Shucky Ducky!” He insists that the referee is thinking about stopping just about every match as soon as somebody hits the mat, and he’s always stuttering and stammering over everything he tries to say. Last night, I’m pretty sure he referred to Evan Bourne as John Morrison at one point. That’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more.
- In the evening’s main event, John Cena successfully retained the WWE Championship against R-Truth in a match that was lackluster in every way. Especially disappointing was the ending, one in which one of the Little Jimmys in the front row threw his drink into the face of R-Truth, which provided Cena with the opportunity he needed to connect with the Attitude Adjustment and secure the victory. This was Grade A garbage. I’d expect this ending on an episode of Raw, but at a pay-per-view? That’s bush league, bro. With one more PPV to go before SummerSlam, I expect a rematch at Money in the Bank before Cena is transitioned into his inevitable feud with Alberto Del Rio and R-Truth resumes his program with John Morrison.
WWE Capitol Punishment had its share of glaring faults. The ending to the main event, Orton’s disputed win, and the heinous filler of the fake Obama spring to mind. At the same time, CM Punk and Rey Mysterio tore the house down, Swagger and Bourne put on a hell of a match, and for the first time ever, Mark Henry did something that got my attention. The red, white, and blue ring ropes were cool; the commercials for Raw and the Nitro DVD during an event that cost $44.95 to order were not. The rest of the show, title changes included, fell somewhere in between the two extremes.