Welcome to Canton's Corner. It's a loaded column this week. There's no need for a long intro, so let's get right to it.
Randy Orton is Suspended for 60 Days
It was announced on Wednesday that WWE Superstar Randy Orton was suspended for 60 days due to his second failure of the WWE's Wellness Policy testing. In other words, he was caught with some kind of banned substance in his system, so he's on the shelf for two months. The policy states that if you get caught three times you will be terminated. He had another 30 day suspension earlier in his career for disciplinary reasons, so that isn't added to the two Wellness Policy failures.
The big question is now what does WWE do? As CM Punk stated on Twitter the other day, his last three WrestleMania opponents are all suspended right now. Two of them are Orton and Rey Mysterio, who are each serving their second failed Wellness Policy suspension and the other is Chris Jericho, who is out serving his 30 day suspension due to the Brazilian flag incident of last week. In other words, there's some star power missing from WWE. The question is who is going to step up?
In terms of the babyface roster, things are very thin right now. Obviously the three biggest faces on the roster going forward are John Cena, CM Punk and Sheamus. They're all firmly established top guys with two of them holding major championships and then Cena is of course more valuable than any championship since he gets to wrestle last on PPVs all the time. What else is there on the babyface? There are guys like Christian, who is a solid veteran babyface in the midcard and then Santino is also holding a worthless title although he's there for comedy purposes.
I think the two guys that really need to step up are Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. They've had their heel alliance for quite a while now, at least in current WWE time it's been a while. One of them should go babyface. As much as I like Ziggler as a heel, I wouldn't mind seeing him try a run as a babyface. I think he can succeed because fans can tell he's one of the better performers in the ring. The fans could easily get behind him if he turned against his manager Vickie Guerrero, who is a huge heat magnet. Swagger should have turned face last year after his brief alliance with Michael Cole, which would have made that Cole/Lawler feud worthwhile. Instead it was a complete waste of time. They both need to move up the card, though, that's for sure.
There are others too. I would love to see them debut somebody like Seth Rollins on Raw or Smackdown, give him a big win right away and push him hard as an athletic babyface performer right off the bat. Why not? You need to see if somebody new can catch a spark. He's ready. It would be fun.
I'll miss Randy Orton for the next nine weeks that he's gone. He's an excellent in-ring performer that has very good matches on a consistent basis. However, his absence means opportunity for others. It's up to the creative team to realize how much talent they have on the roster and utilize them in a way that benefits the company in the long term. It's also up to the talent to take advantage of the opportunity if it's presented to them. There's no time like the present.
Smackdown Likes & Dislikes
Once again I have five likes and only three dislikes from Smackdown this week. Most weeks I have five dislikes, but there weren't more than three things that I feel like expanding on this time around. This isn't a full recap of the show. It's not even in order of the events on the show. It's just a series of thoughts on the key moments from this week's telecast.
Like - Sheamus defeats Dolph Ziggler
This was the top of hour two match. I really enjoyed it. I also liked how Ziggler grabbed the microphone from manager Vickie Guerrero before the match. He cut her off from one of her annoying speeches to say that he was going to beat the World Champion. She didn't seem too happy about that. The match received 13 minutes of TV time with a commercial break thrown in too. The crowd was hot for most of it. Yes it was the legit crowd and not the piped in noise that sometimes hurts Smackdown. They were really into the match. I also liked that Ziggler had a more serious approach to the match rather than showing off too much. The announcers did a nice job of putting that over too.
Ziggler took control of the action after the break until Sheamus made his big comeback. Like I mentioned, the crowd was really into everything they were doing. I think the spot of the match was the top rope X-Factor by Ziggler. It came out of nowhere, yet it really worked and felt like a special move. Sheamus countered the Zig Zag, hit his White Noise move and then after Jack Swagger's failed attempt to help his partner, Sheamus destroyed Ziggler with the Brogue Kick for the win. I'd rate the match at ***1/4 out of 5. Is it too much to ask that we get a TV match at least that good on every Raw and Smackdown? I don't think so. The wrestlers have the talent. They just need the opportunity to show it.
The Ziggler loss was caused, in part, by Swagger's botch interference. Hopefully that is something that is followed up on because like I wrote earlier that's a feud I really want to see in the near future.
Dislike - The show opening promo
Can we have a week where there isn't a promo to open the show? This week it was David Otunga interrupting Sheamus. He was there to tell Sheamus that he had to apologize for bumping John Laurinaitis on Raw a couple of weeks ago. At least they didn't book Sheamus like a loser that had to cry because his boss was mean to him. Then Alberto Del Rio came out to talk trash. It felt like a waste of time. The Sheamus/Del Rio match doesn't seem like a big deal to me. It should be when you consider it's for the World Title. Del Rio seems to be just another guy now, though. Fans aren't going to want to pay to see just another guy getting a title shot. It needs to be a viable contender. Del Rio doesn't give off that vibe anymore. That's a shame.
Like - CM Punk defends the WWE Title against Kane
I like that they promoted this match as a big deal because it was the first time the WWE Title was defended on Smackdown in four years. I assume that info is correct. I'm not about to go check the archives to see if it's true. Sometimes when WWE says four years it's really three years and two months, but in this case I'll throw them a bone so to speak. It was a three star match that was booked very evenly. Each guy was on the offensive for a good amount of time.
The finish happened when AJ (in a CM Punk shirt) and Daniel Bryan got involved. Punk had a number of good nearfalls on Kane following big moves like his roundhouse kick as well as a top rope bulldog. Punk wasn't able to finish him off with a GTS because of how big Kane was, so Kane was able to get control until Punk countered Kane's top rope clothesline with a dropkick. When Punk was on the top, AJ jumped on the apron and pointed out Bryan running down the aisle. Punk went after him. When Kane got the momentum back, Bryan interjected one more time with a dropkick on both guys. That led to the disqualification finish. Kane ended up hitting a chokeslam on both guys at the same time.
Post match, John Laurinaitis announced that at No Way Out it would be CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane for the WWE Title. I think we all expected it to go that way. My assumption is that they added Kane to the mix as a way for Bryan to win the title from Punk without pinning the champion. Don't be surprised if AJ is the reason for Punk's loss. Either she'll accidentally cause it or we'll find out she was working for Bryan all along. Right now I'm leaning towards Bryan becoming the WWE Champion at No Way Out.
Dislike - Cody Rhodes vs. Tyson Kidd only gets two minutes
I'm a big fan of both guys. I'm not a fan of them receiving under two minutes to have a match. It doesn't do a whole lot of good for either of them. I realize it was done to put Rhodes over as a threat to Christian's Intercontinental Title, but he was already getting the rematch anyway. Kidd is somebody I'm very high on. He needs to be given a chance to show how awesome he truly is.
Like - Big Show destroys Santino and Zack Ryder
After Santino & Ryder won their tag match, Big Show showed up. The beatdown he gave them was entertaining because it looked like it was legit hurting the guys. See the punch he did to Santino? It wasn't to the front of his head while he was standing up. He did it while Santino was already in pain in front of him and Show punched him in the back of the head. I'm a fan of heel Big Show if they're going to book him this way. He brings a lot of credibility to the table. That's for sure.
Dislike - Ryback beats two jobbers…again
I can remember writing about a month ago that I enjoyed Ryback's destruction of two guys at once. I wrote that because I thought by this point they would have him beating actual WWE talent that have a little more credibility than a couple of local guys who the announcers are laughing at. Instead, Ryback is doing the same thing he's done for the last month. Where's the progression? Something new needs to happen soon.
Like - The return of Sin Cara was refreshing
I am not a Sin Cara hater. I never have been and I likely never will be. I think his athleticism brings a different element to WWE that is exciting especially to the younger fans out there. After severely injuring his knee at Survivor Series, he made his return to house shows last week and to Smackdown this week. The fans seemed to be very receptive to him. He beat Heath Slater in about three minutes. There were no botched spots like some fans like to point out with him. Then again Smackdown is edited, so that always helps. I think his return is a positive thing for WWE. Now it's a question of whether they give him an actual feud or if he continues to win three minute matches weekly without doing much else.
It should be noted that his look has changed to a red and white outfit (is he Canadian now?) and his intro has changed too. Instead of using the trampoline to jump into the ring, he now slides under the bottom rope. I guess they've wished the trampoline the best in its future endeavors. Or as Homer Simpson once referred to it, a trabopoline! My biggest gripe about this match was that the Sin Cara lighting style still exists. I don't think it adds anything to the matches. They need to ditch the mood lighting idea.
Like - Titus O'Neil & Darren Young are named the Primetime Players
I'm very intrigued by the tag team division and where things are headed. For fans to truly believe in it they need to see that there are actual full time teams as part of the division. The introduction of O'Neil & Young to Smackdown over the past couple of months has been a breath of fresh air. This week it was announced that their team name is the Primetime Players, which works for me. I like their chemistry together. Of course the same week where they got an actual name they lost to a part time team like Santino & Zack Ryder, but at least you can tell that these guys are one of the teams that the tag division will be built around going forward.
- The Damien Sandow victory over Ezekiel Jackson was another dominant win for the polite man that says "you're welcome." Much like Ryback he'll need an actual feud soon before the act gets stale.
- There was a video package for Antonio Cesaro. There wasn't enough time to put him in a match so the video was a fine replacement. It reminds fans of who he is even though he wasn't a part of the actual broadcast. I'm okay with quick videos like that.
The Sheamus/Ziggler and Punk/Kane matches were very good. They carried the show and made it above average in my mind. There was nothing too bad this week.
Smackdown beat Raw this week in my eyes. Better booking. Better in-ring action too.
I'd rate this week's Smackdown a 7 out of 10.
TNA Impact Wrestling - Five Thoughts
I watch TNA Impact Wrestling this week. It was their first live Thursday show at their timeslot of 8pmET. I have five quick takes on it.
- I really enjoyed the Bobby Roode/Sting Lumberjack match to open the show. They've had a few matches with eachother in recent months, but Sting still has a lot of energy for a guy in his 50s. There was a lot of intensity in the match. After 13 minutes of action, Sting ended up getting the win by making Roode tap out to the Scorpion Death Lock. I think the loss was too clean. It makes the champ look bad when he's losing to a part timer in a clean manner like that.
I wouldn’t expect a title change until Bound for Glory in October when James Storm finally ends Bobby Roode's long title reign. It should have happened at Lockdown, but if they want to tack on another five months to Roode's run then I'm okay with that because he carries himself very well as the World Champion. In the upcoming months I'd expect Roode to keep beating all of his challengers until Storm is able to get the job done.
- The debut of Brooke Hogan was a major flop. Having smiling Dixie Carter out there with her didn't help either. The fans don't care. They were mostly booing her. What's the point of having somebody in charge of the Knockouts division when the women weren't even booked for the show? The girls were all there. They just weren't booked because their segment got cut. Furthermore, one half of the Knockouts tag champs is Eric Young. Yes, a man is holding a women's tag title. When you employ nearly 20 women, many of whom are very talented, and you put the tag title on a guy that's a bad sign. Adding the giant Brooke Hogan (she's tall) to the mix isn't going to help any of the girls that need more television time.
- My favorite performer in the company is still Kurt Angle, but Austin Aries is likely in second place. While I would have kept him heel for longer than they did, he's fine in the babyface role too. Fans are cheering for him because they see how good he is in the ring. I'm still amazed that WWE passed on him when they had the chance to bring him in. That's a major fail on their part whether it was Laurinaitis or Triple H making that decision. The Aries match with Sabin was really good. Aries has had a wonderful run with the X Division Title. Who is going to beat him, though? He's ready to move up the card on a permanent basis.
- I really enjoyed the Bully Ray segment with Joe Parks. It's been a silly angle in some parts, but Ray showed during his promo how awesome of a heel he can truly be. Now I actually want to see their PPV match just to see how they book it. It's been old school in a lot of ways. I like that aspect of it a lot.
- The Gutcheck segment with Joey Ryan trying to get hired by Bruce Prichard, Al Snow and Taz was entertaining for the most part. He got a no from Prichard, a yes from Snow and then a no from Taz, who appeared to be in the role of the tough judge. I'm guessing this story with Ryan will be an angle. For as much as TNA tries to portray things as "real" over there, we all know it's a wrestling angle. That's their problem though. The backstage segments with these guys using insider wrestling terms are only going to coverage the average fan that doesn’t know what "heat" or "gimmick" means. I like Ryan. He's got a unique look to him. I know he's good in the ring too. Don't be surprised if he becomes a full timer in the near future.
The show was okay. The 0.9 rating they drew is a bad sign, though. I'm sure they will blame it on the new time slot. I want TNA to succeed. I'm not sure if they can convince enough fans that have turned off the product to come back to it. The live aspect will keep me interested for at least a few weeks.
Random Clip of the Week
I'm not sure how many of my readers are watching Florida Championship Wrestling, but I'm here to tell you that you should be. There are a lot of matches I can pick to show as an example of why I give FCW a look whenever I get some free time. Here's one of the more recent ones that aired last Sunday: Seth Rollins vs. Bo Rotundo. It's an awesome match. Having the greatest wrestling play by play guy ever Jim Ross calling the action doesn't hurt either. The video is at the bottom of this post.
How's it going everyone? Before I begin, the last time we spoke, I was but a mere man. A husband if you will. Now? I'm a father! In case you didn't already hear by now, my wife and I had a beautiful boy that we named Taeden on May 17th. It's been just over 2 weeks of sleepless nights and crying, but it's all worth it. I just got to stop crying. I'm joking obviously. I'm a guy, I never cry dammit. But it all seriousness, it is true what they say about it all hitting you the second you see your child for the first time. It's a big change, but one that has been such a blessing. In today's crazy world, no matter how hard life gets at time or seems unfair and even questionable, you should always be grateful and content with what you have and that the Melo Man can say he is.
Needless to say even with everything that I have on the go now, I still somehow managed to watch RAW and Smackdown this week without falling asleep! Wut da hayell? Trust me I was just as shocked as you are considering they were both pretty average shows again. I even tuned in to Impact Wrestling if you can believe it, a show I never watch. That one however did put me to sleep very fast unfortunately. I managed to get through Dixie Carter's announcement and introduction of Brooke Hogan, who came strutting to the ring with those 24 inch python legs of hers. Before I did pass out though, there was something that caught my eye and no I'm not talking about the ridiculously hot Velvet Sky or Mickie James. (Note from John: They weren't even on the show!) Technically I should say someone as I was admittedly impressed with this guy I have never heard of before who goes by the name of Joey Ryan. This guy had me intrigued before he even said anything. He didn't have to really. He came to the ring looking like the retarded 80's offspring of Rick Rude and John Morrison. He has an interesting look to him. Does it mean I am going to start watching Impact Wrestling religiously now? Not bloody likely. But I will definitely be keeping my ears open for this weird looking guy that is for sure. I see potential. I hope I am right.
Speaking of noticing new faces, how freaking awesome is Damien Sandow? I love everything about this guy and his gimmick to the way he speaks to his crazy pink and purple ring attire. Even his theme music suits him perfectly. I see a whole lot of potential in his future. Hopefully the WWE does not screw this up as it is very refreshing to see someone like this on the roster. You're Welcome.
Until next time, sit back, relax and melo out, because that is what wrestling is all about.
Please be sure to give a listen to our two hour edition of TJR Radio this past Wednesday. The info on how to listen, download and get the iTunes version of the show is RIGHT HERE. We had a lot of fun, so please listen if you haven't done so already.
Before I say goodbye, I want to give a big thanks to Joey (@BrunswickJoey on Twitter) for bringing a sign that said "The John Report" to Raw and Smackdown. The signs made the show many times, but I decided to share just one occurrence from each show.
Here's the one from Raw:
No. I don't know who that kid is in the Cena shirt right in the front. Sorry.
Here's the sign from Smackdown:
The deal is if you bring a sign to a show and it makes TV let me know and I'll plug your Twitter handle, website or whatever you desire. Thanks for all the signs. You can check them all out on the TJRWrestling.com's Facebook page.
That's all for this week. Keep checking out TJRWrestling.com for daily content from our amazing crew of writers. I'll be back with the Raw Deal on Tuesday morning. It won't be live on Monday. Blame the NBA Playoffs for that.
John Canton - email@example.com
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