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First Niagara Center – Buffalo, New York – September 18, 2011
Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Booker T are on commentary.
MATCH #1: WWE Tag Team Championship Match – Air Boom vs. Awesome Truth
Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston have been the Champions since 8.22.11, and this is their second defense. Kingston and The Miz start the match. The champs take the advantage and tag in and out several times in the opening minutes to keep Miz isolated. R-Truth tags in and he gets the same treatment. The champs send both challengers to the floor and then wipe them out with simultaneous dives off the top rope. Back in the ring Bourne covers Truth for a one-count, which according to Booker T is “almost” getting him. Bourne charges into the corner and Truth gets an elbow up. Now the challengers take control. Every time Bourne tries to fight back Miz and Truth cut him off and keep him away from his partner. Miz goes for the Skull Crushing Finale but Bourne rolls through and makes the tag. Kingston is a house afire, hitting Miz with the Boom Drop. He signals for Trouble in Paradise but Truth stops him. Kingston decks Truth and hits Miz with the SOS for a two-count. Truth interferes again, snapping Kingston’s neck off the top rope. That allows Miz to hit a snap mare driver (!) for a two-count. Bourne tricks the referee into thinking a tag was made and the idiot referee allows it. Precedent over the years has said that the referee can’t call what he doesn’t see, so that just feeds Miz’s conspiracy theories. Bourne takes everyone down and goes for Air Bourne on Miz but misses. Miz hits Bourne with a solid DDT for two. Truth legit tags in but since the referee didn’t see it he won’t allow it. Conspiracy! Miz hits Bourne with the Skull Crushing Finale but the referee is arguing with Truth so he isn’t counting. A rightfully angry Miz shoves the referee and gets disqualified at 9:49. The match was going along really well and I felt they could have gone longer but still used the same finish. Usually DQ finishes on PPV are irritating, but this one made sense and served the greater purpose of the storyline. Yes that storyline ended up being unsatisfying but at the time of this match I thought it was brilliant. It also lent itself to rematches and I thought this was going to be a big tag team feud to reignite the division. That also didn’t really pan out. Miz and Truth abuse the referee after the bell.
MATCH #2: Intercontinental Title Match – Cody Rhodes vs. Ted DiBiase
Rhodes has been the Champion since 8.12.11, and this is his second defense. DiBiase starts off hot, outwrestling Rhodes and then kicking him in the face for a one-count. Rhodes makes a brief comeback but DiBiase cuts him off with a dropkick for two. The champ uses a slap to the face to get DiBiase angry, which leaves him prey to a kneelift to the gut. Rhodes hits the Beautiful Disaster for a two-count. He keeps DiBiase grounded for a bit. After a few minutes DiBiase hits a backbreaker but misses a dropkick and Rhodes is right back in control. Rhodes puts on an abdominal stretch. DiBiase hiptosses his way out of it but Rhodes cuts him right off with a dropkick. Rhodes lands a punch to the face but DiBiase responds with a clothesline and an inverted atomic drop. DiBiase hits a flying knee strike for two. He charges into a boot in the corner but then hits a spinebuster for two. DiBiase goes for Dream Street but Rhodes counters it. Rhodes goes for the Beautiful Disaster again but DiBiase dropkicks him out of the air for a two-count. DiBiase sets Rhodes on the top rope and armdrags him down. He goes after the mask and removes it, drawing his biggest pop so far. DiBiase tries to hit Rhodes with it, but the Champ ducks and gets a schoolboy rollup for the pin at 9:43. Despite all the time they spent teaming together these two do not have great chemistry as opponents. It doesn’t help that DiBiase is hella boring.
MATCH #3: U.S. Championship Match – Dolph Ziggler vs. Alex Riley vs. Jack Swagger vs. John Morrison
Ziggler has been the Champion since 6.19.11, and this is his second defense. He’s accompanied by Vickie Guerrero. Morrison pairs off with Swagger while Ziggler and Riley do battle in the early going. Riley dumps Ziggler and Swagger dumps Morrison, leaving just two in the ring. Swagger uses his size advantage, but Riley cuts him off with an STO for two. Riley turns his attention to Ziggler on the apron, decking him with a right hand. He goes for a dive but Ziggler sidesteps him and Riley hits nothing but stairs. Meanwhile Morrison rolls Swagger up for a two-count. Morrison kicks him in the head for another two. He dropkicks Ziggler out of the ring and lands on Swagger for another two-count. Swagger hiptosses Morrison to the floor and turns right around to face the Champion. He drills Ziggler with a big boot and knocks Morrison off the apron. Riley sneaks in and hits Swagger with a TKO but Vickie puts Swagger’s foot on the bottom rope. Ziggler dropkicks Riley out of the ring asks Vickie if she “just cost him his match,” but what she did was save it for you, you idiot. Morrison hits Ziggler with a springboard kick for a two-count. Ziggler comes back with a Fame-Ass-Er on Morrison for two. Morrison fights back and puts Ziggler on the top rope. Ziggler knocks Morrison into the Tree of Woe. Riley jumps up to the top rope and Morrison grabs him and suplexes him down. That was impressive. Swagger then leaps up and hiptosses Ziggler down. Morrison is the first one back to his feet and he’s a house afire. He hits Swagger with a DDT and then the standing Spanish Fly on Riley for two. Morrison goes for Starship Pain but Riley gets his knees up. Ziggler puts Morrison in the Sleeper and Swagger puts Riley in the Ankle Lock. Both men break out of their holds and Riley hits Swagger with the Implant DDT for a close near-fall. Swagger grabs Riley in the Ankle Lock and Morrison breaks it up, only to get hit with the Gutwrench Powerbomb. Ziggler dumps Swagger to the floor and steals his pinfall at 8:19! That was non-stop action and could have gone on longer. It’s crazy that a year later Morrison no longer works for the company, while Riley and Swagger are non-factors to say the least. These four could have helped revitalize the midcard, but Ziggler ended up the only one the company cared to really push.
MATCH #4: World Heavyweight Title Match – Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry
Orton has been the Champion since 8.14.11, and this is his second defense. Henry immediately tries to use his power advantage but Orton uses his quickness to counter him. Orton takes Henry off his feet and uses strikes to try and wear him down. Henry pops up and charges, but Orton sidesteps him and dumps him to the floor. The challenger is frustrated but he takes his time to regroup at ringside. Back in the ring Henry press slams Orton but the champ slips out. Orton goes for the RKO but Henry pushes off and then flattens Orton with a big boot. Henry throws Orton into the corner and squashes him. He goes for the World’s Strongest Slam but Orton slips out and puts on a Sleeper. Henry backs Orton into the corner and then clubs him to the floor. It’s all Henry now, and he focuses on the back, wearing Orton down. Henry hits a big splash for a two-count. He keeps beating on Orton but misses a second big splash and Orton fires back. Orton hits a dropkick and Henry rolls to the apron. That gives Orton the chance to try for the DDT but Henry blocks it with a headbutt. Henry clotheslines Orton down and reclaims control. He hits the World’s Strongest Slam but Orton kicks out! Henry goes up for a Vader Bomb but Orton gets his boot up. Orton goes to the knee and hits a short DDT. He signals for the RKO so Henry rolls to the apron. This time Orton is able to hit the DDT! Orton covers but they’re too close to the ropes and Henry grabs the bottom one to break the pin. Henry kicks at Orton’s leg from his back to take advantage. Orton goes for the RKO again but Henry pushes him off and hits the World’s Strongest Slam to get the pin and win the title at 13:06! The reaction shots in the crowd are really awesome, as people are shocked and upset. That goes a long way in making this result feel like a big deal. As far as the match, it was shockingly good, with a simple story of a smart guy trying to outdo a powerful guy and the brute force won out. Henry went over clean as a whistle, instantly making him a credible champion.
Josh Mathews gets in the ring to interview the new Champion, who cuts a bitterly angry promo about how no one believed in him, and that this is his moment that he’s not sharing with anyone. Henry says he’s going to be the most dominant champion ever and he will never lose the title.
MATCH #5: Divas Title Match – Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix
Kelly has been the Champion since 6.20.11, and this is her third defense. She is accompanied by Eve. Phoenix is accompanied by Natalya, and she gets an enormous face reaction since Buffalo is her hometown. They start off much as you would expect, with Phoenix using her power and Kelly countering with her agility. Kelly goes for a cross body block and Phoenix catches her with ease and delivers a gutbuster. Phoenix dominates now, keeping Kelly on the mat. Kelly comes back with a sort of bulldog and Natalya pulls Phoenix to the floor to regroup. Eve takes offense to this and she attacks Natalya without provocation. Phoenix comes to Natalya’s aid and gives Eve the beating she deserves. Back in the ring Kelly is still on the mat for some reason. Phoenix gets confident and Kelly gets a series of rollup variations for two-counts. The challenger gets feud up and cuts Kelly off with a hard clothesline. Phoenix puts Kelly on the top rope and delivers a superplex. She crawls over and barely gets a cover but still almost gets the pin. Phoenix goes for the Glam Slam but Kelly rolls through to a sunset flip to get the upset pin and retain the title at 6:25. I’m not sure what WWE’s obsession with having people get embarrassed in their hometown is, but that’s all this was. The match was actually going along okay but the finish just makes no sense.
MATCH #6: WWE Championship Match – Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena
Del Rio has been the Champion since 8.14.11, and this is his second defense. Cena has only been the Champion nine times at this point. Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez do their usual post-match bit, so Cena adds his own self-introduction. That man can talk.
Cena takes Del Rio down with a headlock and then knocks him down with a shoulder tackle. He hits another shoulder tackle and Del Rio seeks solace with his ring announcer. Back in the ring Del Rio takes it to Cena and slugs him down. Cena fights back and hits a bulldog. He then gets tripped by Rodriguez, and the referee saw it so he banishes Rodriguez to the back! Del Rio looks distraught but is able to catch Cena with a couple of kicks to the kidneys to send him to the floor. Back in the ring Del Rio hits a flying something off the top rope for a two-count. Cena powers back with a gutwrench suplex for two. He hits another suplex and goes for the Attitude Adjustment but Del Rio slips out and hits an armbreaker for a near-fall. Del Rio works Cena over for a bit again until Cena comes back with a suplex … again. Both men rise and clothesline each other at the same time and are right back down again. Back on their feet Del Rio lands the first blow and he knocks Cena to the apron. Cena snaps Del Rio’s neck off the top rope but then runs right into a clothesline. Del Rio tries to jump on Cena on the ropes, but Cena moves and Rio crashes to the floor. Cena suplexes Del Rio back into the ring and then unleashes his patented offensive flurry. He hits the Proto Plex and the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena sets up the Attitude Adjustment but Del Rio slips out and hits the Backstabber for two. Del Rio goes for the Cross Armbreaker but Cena avoids it and hits a dropkick for two. The commentators trying to sell a dropkick as a near-fall are pretty funny. Cena goes up top and Del Rio knocks him down with the enziguiri for a two-count. Del Rio follows with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. He ties Cena up in the Tree of Woe and charges but Cena moves and Del Rio’s shoulder cracks the ring post, hard. Cena goes up and hits the Cena Slice but only gets two. He goes for the AA again but Del Rio slips out and hits a bridging German Suplex for two. Del Rio goes up top and hits a senton bomb for a two-count. He puts on the Cross Armbreaker but Cena fights it like grim death. Cena pulls Del Rio up and powerbombs him down. Ricardo Rodriguez makes his way back down and Cena throws him into the ring post. Cena then locks on the STF and Del Rio taps out at 17:31. I’m not sure what the purpose was of having Rodriguez come back down but the finish seemed pretty sudden and anticlimactic. The match was solid work but nothing spectacular or memorable.
MATCH #7: No DQ Match – Triple H vs. CM Punk
This is Triple H’s first match since losing to the Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVII. Punk knocks HHH off the apron before he can even get in the ring and the fight is on. He throws HHH over the barricade and starts rearranging the announce table. HHH comes back and starts taking it to Punk around ringside. He goes for the Pedigree on the table but Punk slips out and tries Go 2 Sleep but HHH avoids that and we’re back to square one. Both men get back in the ring and they start throwing hands. They battle back and forth and HHH quickly sends Punk back to the outside. HHH goes after Punk’s knee and leg while throwing him around ringside. Punk reverses a whip and sends HHH into the barricade, and then hits a running knee to the face. He goes for the bulldog but HHH shoves him over the barricade and into the crowd. HHH continues to abuse Punk amongst the fans in the audience. Momentum shifts several times as both men are eager to prove their superiority. They make it back to the ring and Punk uses a chair to work the Game over. HHH catches Punk with a spinebuster for two. He throws Punk into a chair wedged in the turnbuckles and Punk tumbles to the floor. HHH goes back to the leg and cracks the left one with a steel chair. He starts taking the announce table apart and grabs a monitor, but Punk cuts him off with a hard kick to the head. Punk goes to the top rope and hits Hail to the King to break the table. They roll back into the ring and R-Truth and The Miz make their way out and beat down both men. Miz hits HHH with the Skull Crushing Finale and Truth hits Punk with the Little Jimmy. They pull Punk on top for the cover but referee Scott Armstrong hesitates so he only gets two. Miz and Truth get right in Armstrong’s face, and while Armstrong gets one shot in, he then succumbs to the two-on-one disadvantage. John Laurinaitis makes his way out with a new referee. Meanwhile, HHH and Punk have recovered and they dump their assailants to the floor. HHH then hits Punk with the Pedigree while Laurinaitis tries to wake up Armstrong. A new referee comes down but Laurinaitis tells him to check on Armstrong rather than get in the ring and count the pin. HHH is annoyed, and the distraction allows Punk to hit Go 2 Sleep. This time the new ref counts but Truth pulls Punk to the floor. Punk hits Truth with the Go 2 Sleep. He tries the springboard clothesline to get back in the ring but HHH kicks him in the gut and hits the Pedigree! Somehow Punk is able to kick out of that! Kevin Nash comes strolling out of the crowd and decks both Punk and HHH! He goes for the Jackknife on HHH but Punk stops him. Nash then hits Punk with the Jackknife instead. He takes out HHH on the floor as well, but HHH responds with a sledgehammer shot! Nash is out. Back in the ring HHH hits the Pedigree for the win at 24:08. That was going along fine as a garbage brawl through the crowd and such, but then overbooking took over and it just got kind of boring. I’m not against overbooking per se, but this didn’t really pay anything off it just continued some stuff that was already going on and then never really went anywhere. I think Punk and Triple H could have done better on their own.