- The Road to WrestleMania (XXIX) makes one last stop on Pay-Per-View, and we'll finally decide who will be headlining WrestleMania in the WWE Championship Match, and who will be opening the card for the SyFy Championship. Before we get to the Pay-Per-View proper, let's head on over to YouTube.com and check out the official WWE pre-show, with an exclusive match for the viewing audience...
- Originally broadcasted live on Pay-Per-View on February 17th, 2013, from New Orleans, LA. Michael Cole, Jerry "The King" Lawler, and JBL are calling the action unless otherwise noted. Spoiler alert: No one else joined for commentary. I don't know if we should be thankful for that one or not.
Del Rio hooks the armbreaker from out of nowhere, but Show quirms around to go for the ropes. Rodriguez tries pulling the rope away, but to no avail. Show meets boot on another charge, but is still strong enough to catch Del Rio off the turnbuckle and turn it into a bearhug. Rodriguez with a distraction, only to have the bucket thrown at him. BOO! Del Rio counters a powerbomb with a hurricanrana, sending Show to the floor, then follows with a suicide dive. They tease a count-out finish, but Show slides in at 9. Del Rio to the top with a seated senton for a two count. Show blocks a kick and plants the Champion with the Showstopper, but it only gets two. Show loads up for the KO Punch, but Del Rio rolls to the floor. Chokeslam #2 is countered with a DDT for two. Running enziguri in the corner for another two count. Cross Armbreaker is applied once again, but this time Show muscles his way free. Show loads up again, but Ricardo interferes and takes another shot or his boss. Del Rio recovers and botches an enziguri, but connects on attempt #2, knocking the bucket into the face. Del Rio with the Cross Armbreaker, and this time Show taps out at 13:08. Well, horribly UGLY blown spot aside, a decent match, but again, I really have a hard time getting into Big Show's matches. The crowd seemed into it though, so good for them for keeping me interested, too.
- Josh Mathews interviews a pair of the Rock's Co-Stars from G.I. Joe. Awkward. Sometimes taped interviews Is your friend.
Miz gets a fluke boot to the face to momentarily rattle Cesaro. He stomps him down in the corner, then charges in with a jumping clothesline. He climbs to the top rope, but the axehandle is countered with an armbar. There's a submission move right now I would buy into. Miz rolls through for a two count, then dumps Cesaro to the floor. Miz counters being rammed into the post and shoves Cesaro knees first into the steps. Back inside, Miz clips the knee... oh no. I swear, I didn't make the Flair comparison intentionally. Flair... I mean Miz (I swear, accident), with a dragon screw leg whip, followed by a DDT for a two count. Cesaro kicks Miz away, only to take a basement dropkick into the knee. Nice over-sell, by the way. Miz goes for it again, but Cesaro blocks, causing Miz to land on the crotch of Cesaro... and the referee rings the bell at 8:26, claiming Disqualification AGAINST Miz? Replay shows Miz landed high on the thigh, but Cesaro sold it. Miz punts Cesaro in the junk for real, just to get his money's worth, I guess. I actually enjoyed the hell out of this one. The finish was right out of Dusty Hell, but this would make for a great television main event with a few more minutes.
- Backstage, Team Hell No have words for each other. Both men are going to be in the Elimination Chamber to determine who challenges Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania XXIX for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Jack Swagger enters next, and quickly picks Jericho up and slams him down. Whip to the corner, and a running knee connects to the midsection. Swagger with a splash from the second rope for two. He turns his attention to Bryan and rams him into the chain. I wish JBL would reference being managed by old Uncle Zeb' back in the day, but that won't happen. Jericho surprises Swagger with a dropkick and lays into him with boots and rights. Jericho misses a charge to the corner and spills out onto the steel flooring. Bryan comes back in with a high knee on Swagger from the top rope. Bryan with an underhook takeover on Jericho, but the swandive headbutt misses... is Bryan allowed to use that? 'Cause... you know...
Anyway, the fourth entrant is KANE, and he won't clean house. He sends Jericho and swagger to the corner and follows with a charge. He sends Bryan into them with a heel kick. Snapmare by Bryan, and Kane with a basement dropkick on Swagger. Bryan rolls Kane up for a one count, and now the Tag Team Champions aren't getting along again. That was fun while it lasted. Bryan offers to hug it out, but Kane is a sour-puss, points to the sign™, and they argue. Give these two a best of... DVD set, RIGHT NOW. Bryan avoids a charge and runs into the corner with a dropkick. Bryan with No!-Kicks on Kane, but he misses the big one, and Kane grabs him by the throat. Whip to the ropes, and Kane with a sidewalk slam for two. Kane to the top rope, but Bryan crotches him across the turnbuckle. Jericho joins the fun, and it's Doomsday Device time on Bryan! Swagger runs in to cover, but only gets two.
Randy Orton enters fifth, so no mystery who comes out last. The clock is a little bit delayed, unless the time between the buzzer and opening a pod doesn't count towards the clock. He clotheslines Swagger out of the ring, then sends Kane out with a dropkick. He gives Bryan the Tully Blanchard suplex, rams Kane into the chains, and plants him with the DDT on the steel floor. Orton/Swagger and Jericho/Bryan pair up, and we get a pair of double suplex, putting all five men down, now. I can't see that putting Orton down for this long... HE JUST ENTERED AND REMAINED ON OFFENSE!
Mark Henry finally enters, bulldozing through everyone. He powerslams Bryan for the three count at 16:37. NO! NO! NO! He goes for Ortn and throws him through the glass pod... too bad it's PG, so no blade job. Sounded nice, though. Kane offers his best as a monster, but I don't see things going well for him. He heads to the top rope and jumps into the arms for a Powerslam, and Kane is gone at 18:23. Jericho gets to take the next beating, but Swagger intervenes and they double team Henry before taking him over with a suplex onto the steel. I think the ground shook on that one. Jericho with a body press on Swagger for a two count. I don't know if I like Swagger's bump to the corner or not. Seems more realistic, but so awkward, too. Jericho goes for The Walls, but Swagger kicks him off. Henry comes back to life and throws Jericho into the chains, then press slams him on top of Swagger. He piles them up in the corner for a splash, but takes too long and misses. Swagger with a boot, and Jericho with a Codebreaker, but Henry is still on his feet. Orton with an RKO, and Henry is eliminated at 23:16.
Henry decides he hasn't had enough yet and destroys everything walking until being ordered away or be suspended. Swagger blocks a Codebreaker and takes Jericho down with a belly-to-belly suplex for two. Orton blocks the second rope splash, but Swagger hooks the Ankle Lock, instead. Jericho interrupts and gets locked, too. He rolls through, and slaps on the Walls of Jericho. Orton breaks it with a back breaker for two. Swagger takes his 78th bump onto the steal, and Orton plants both Jericho and Swagger with DDT's. He sets up for an RKO, but Jericho blocks. He misses the Lionsault, and the RKO finishes Jericho at 31:10. Then Swagger rolls up Orton, and that's the decisive three count at 31:17, making Swagger the Number 1 Contender at WrestleMania XXIX (to open the show). Match was slow at times, kind of sluggish, and had very few noteworthy spots. Still, it was a decent match, but I've almost never cared for the Elimination Chamber gimmick, so take my opinion with a mild grain of salt.
Cena tags in and lays out Reigns with shoulder tackles, followed by a back suplex and the "Can't See Me" fist drop. Rollins gets tossed, and it's STF time on Reigns until Ambrose breaks it up. Rollins off the top with a knee to the face, KO'ing Cena. Whip to the corner, with authority. Ambrose puts the boots to Cena and drops an elbow for a two count. Rollins picks up where Ambrose left off, systemtically working Cena over. He nails Cena coming off the ropes with a twisting boot to the face. He charges in with... I don't even know what the hell that was. Ambrose back in with more punking out offense, and then it's triple team mayhem until Sheamus interrupts. Reigns with a Samoan drop for two, then slaps on a chinlock. Yes, this match didn't need special stipulations at all. Ambrose and Rollins fill time making goofy faces until Cena uses the power of Fruity Pebbles to break free and hit a really shitty looking back suplex. Unfortunately for Cena, Reigns is up first and connects with a clothesline for another two count. Ambrose with a neck breaker for two, then slaps on a head scissors. Cena fights to his feet but Ambrose slips free and connects with a DDT for two. Cena dumps Ambrose to the floor and continues playing dead.
Ryback gets the hot tag and lays into all the members of the Shield. He takes Rollins and Ambrose over with back drops, plants Rollins with a powerbomb, then slams Ambrose into Rollins in the corner. Reigns charges in with a forearm, and that draws in Sheamus. They spill to the floor, and Reigns spears Sheamus through the security wall. They really love that spot these days, but it's still pretty cool. Rollins to the top rope, and he is prime target to be caught and press slammed. Ambrose and Reigns re-enter, making it a 3-on-1. Cena quickly pulls Reigns out to even the odds. Cena with the AA on Ambrose, and Ryback sets up for the Shell Shock on Rollins, but Reigns returns, spears Goldback, and Rollins lands on top for the three count at 14:47. Not exactly the outstanding effort at TLC, but a solid six-man formula with the Shield working well as a team, while the SuperFaces relied more on themselves than on team work. I don't see the big deal I'm hearing about this, but it was decent. Post-match, Ryback walks away in frustration because they didn't plan the next episode of Raw out, so figure it our yourself (spoiler: lead to nothing).
- Because we need filler on a PPV with less than an hour to go...
- WWE Diva's Champion Kaitlyn retained the "Championship" against Tamina (Snuka, daughter of Superfly Jimmy Snuka) in a 3-minute stinkfest. The WWE needs to end the Diva's Division or employ women with actual talent. I'm already longing for the days of Layla vs. Eve from the Fall, and that made me long for a bathroom break.
Feeling out to start, with both men being cautious to engage first contact. Punk offers the first offense, grabbing a headlock and coming off the ropes with a shoulder. Punk grabs another headlock, and gloats about putting Rock back down with another shoulder. Back to the headlock for a third time, and this time a criss-cross leads to the Rock taking Punk over with a pair of arm drags. Whip to the ropes, and Punk heads to the floor to talk strategy with Heyman. Punk with trash-talking upon re-entry, followed by a bitch slap. Rock unloads with a flurry of rights, no doubt an attempt to tick Rock off and get him disqualified. He's ripping that off from Jericho at WrestleMania XXVIII. Punk spits a huge, NASTY load in Rock's face, and the result shouldn't be a surprise. Rock throws him to the floor and lays him out with a clothesline. He introduces Punk to the announcers table and drops an elbow across the throat. Punk rakes the eyes in desperation and rolls back in the ring, but the count-out strategy won't work, at least not right now. Punk greets the Rock with a clothesline, then takes him down with a neck breaker for a two count.
Punk slaps on a chinlock, using the tights of the Rock to his advantage at times. He drops apair of elbows across the throat for a two count, then goes back to the chinlock. Rock with fists to the midsection to break free, but Punk meets him off the ropes with a jumping heel kick for a two count. Heyman reassuring Punk about his near falls is just another small example of making so little seem so awesome ("You got a one, then one and a half, and now a two count. We're getting closer!"). Punk with a takeover, and back to the chinlock. Rock fights back to his feet once again, but meets a boot in the corner, and Punk launches himself off the top rope with a clothesline for two and a half. Heyman with more barking as Punk goes back to the chinlock. Cardio, cardio, cardio. Once again, the Rock fights free of the hold and unloads with rights. He blocks the boot this time and continues to dish it out. Punk ducks under a big right and connects with a jumping knee to the face, rattling Rock's brains. He charges in for the big knee to the face, then drops Rock with a short-arm clothesline. Punk to the top rope, and he comes off with the elbow drop. It only gets two, because it wasn't a Macho Man Elbow, otherwise it would've been a 2.75 count. Punk tosses Rock to the arena floor, and starts undressing the Spanish Announcers table. Rock interrupts and slams Punk face-first into the table, then tosses him back in the ring.
Punk blocks the Rock Bottom and connects with a roundhouse kick to the back of the head for a 2.8333 count. Punk tosses Rock to the floor, leaves the referee to be distracted by Heyman, and gives Rock the Rock Bottom on the table! It doesn't break, though. Punk rolls back in to try and get the Count-Out (complete with cheerleading by Heyman), but Rock crawls back in at 9.85. Punk comes off the ropes after blowing a kiss and gets taken down with a Samoan Drop. Rock with a wicked roundhouse right, echoing throughout the arena. They trade blows until Rock comes off the ropes with a clothesline, then plants Punk with a DDT. He sets up for the Rock Bottom, but Punk counters with a vicious series of elbows to the shoulder and ribs. Punk comes off the top with a clothesline, but Rock counters with the Rock Bottom for a two count. Punk knocks Rock into the referee, knocking him out. Punk with the GTS, but no referee to count. BULLSHIT! Punk with another GTS attempt, but Rock counters and connects with a spinebuster. People's Elbow hits, but Punk digs down deep to kick out at two! Seemed like a mild pop for that, but Rock is clearly the babyface tonight. Punk accidentally on purpose rolls over onto the referee's ankle, then lays out Rock with another roundhouse kick. Heyman brings the WWE Title in the ring and holds Rock in place, but it's HEEL MSICOMMUNICATION, and Rock finishes Punk with the Rock Bottom to retain his WWE title at 20:51. I found this match to be a bit more enjoyable than what they put on at the Royal Rumble. It's nowhere near classic, Rock relied on Attitude Era brawling at times, and there was a lengthy rest period in the middle, but it didn't have obvious pacing issues despite the minor flaws I mentioned, and is a satisfying Main Event. Too bad CM Punk was screwed, yet again. BOO! He should be celebrating Day 356 as I type this.
Final Thoughts: Safe to say this is a very strong case to define what filler PPV means. There wasn't anything nearly worth the sticker price of $45. Punk/Rock was the best match of the night, but hardly worth that price again, especially with such a weak undercard. The chamber and Six-Man Tag matches could've been better, and featured some odd booking decisions. Same can be said about the US Championship Match. A good match that was ruined by a horrible, horrible Dusty Finish. The rest of the card is an insulting slap in the face for two talented performers in Ziggler and Kingston, a TERRIBLE women's match that barely lasted 180 seconds, and the never-ending efforts in using Big Show in meaningful programs. Technically this wasn't a bad show, not even close in fact, but without a "wow factor", there's no reason to bother checking this one out. Wait and save your money for WrestleMania XXIX.