Punk has a nice, pleasant conversation with Del Rio; Santino uses “performance enhancer” to win.
Next up is the Big Show vs. Alberto Del Rio. Hmm, Del Rio comes out first. I know it seems like a small thing but isn’t it customary for the champ to make his big entrance after his opponent comes out first? I mean, you wouldn’t catch Cena playing second fiddle like that. Plus, Del Rio doesn’t look to be doing so good against Show. I wonder if we’re looking at the winding down of his championship reign.
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Del Rio doesn’t seem to have connected with the crowd the way the WWE was expecting. The man holding the top belt in the company should draw much more heat than Del Rio does. I know they rushed the belt onto him for their tour of Mexico but now that they’re back in the states his proverbial slip is starting to show. Or maybe it’s just this crowd, I don’t know. They’re just completely dead for this one and it’s freaking me out. They do pick up some later in the match but this is the WWE Champ, why aren’t they all on their feets?
Uhh, wow. Big Show takes out Del Rio clean. Just one big fist and he’s down for the count. Yeah, writing’s on the wall. Del Rio’s days as champ are clearly numbered.
On that note, with Del Rio still out cold in the ring here comes CM Punk. Punk splashes Del Rio with a water bottle and asks him nicely if he can be his opponent at Survivor Series.
And by ask nicely I mean he puts him in a headlock move he calls the “Anaconda Vice” until Del Rio is practically begging for mercy. Well, it works, so looks like it’s Punk vs. Del Rio at the next PPV. This can’t bode well for Del Rio. I mean good Lord, I haven’t seen a wrestler this mistreated since John Morrison after he snubbed Trish Stratus at WrestleMania. Did Del Rio ruffle somebody’s feathers backstage? This is the type of treatment the WWE usually reserves for someone they’re about to bury, not their current reigning champion.
Backstage Fozzy and Gonzo banter, with Gonzo saying he thinks he’d make a great WWE champ. Vickie shows up with Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler, who stretch Gonzo’s arms about ten feet out then wrap them around his body.
Back at ringside Animal is the special guest timekeeper, meaning he gets to ring the bell. Jack Swagger is up in his match against Santino. Being that this is wrestling I guess I should clarify—NOT Animal, as in one-half of the legendary Road Warriors tag team, Animal the Muppet.
A “We want Ryder!” chant starts. Instead of a corresponding, “Ryder sucks!” rebuttal, the secondary chant is “Woo woo woo!” Pretty good match, Santino taking a more light-hearted approach to the fight while Jack Swagger is in it to crush his opponent.
Beaker finally arrives at ringside to give Santino the magic blue “potion to help him in his match. Santino drinks it, but instead of it heightening his strength he proceeds to sputter and gag on it. He spits the brew out into Swagger’s face, Great Muta style, disorienting Swagger and allowing Santino to roll him up for the win. Err, somehow I don’t think that’s what Dr. Honeydew had in mind but hey, a win’s a win, right?
The Long Island Iced Z, Zack Ryder comes out next, camera in hand, filming segments that are going to no doubt be a part of this week’s Z! True Long Island Stories. As promised by Santino he’s going up against U.S. Champion, Dolph Ziggler and my alliances are just split right down the middle. Ziggler, Ryder, Ryder, Ziggler. Argh, I have no idea who to root for in this match.
Ryder looks really good here. So does Dolph, of course, but that’s nothing new. Ryder’s still having trouble with translating his newfound fame to in-ring wins and I’m glad to see he’s been working some on his technique. And the crowd is along for the ride. I think Zack gets one of the biggest, most prolonged pops of the night. Atlanta, GA is definitely Ryder country.
Near-win for Ryder: the ref reaches a 3-count but he only catches Ziggler’s foot on the rope after the bell is rung. Not so fast, Animal, the ref recalls the decision and the match goes on. Ryder holds onto the rope, preventing the ‘Zig Zag’, then gets off the ‘Rough Ryder’, taking the win. Hmm, Ryder in a match where he doesn’t look like a jobbing schlub, against a top shelf opponent and it gets one of the best crowd reactions of the night in addition to being a standout match. Y’know, WWE bookers, it’s really not rocket science. Sometimes it’s as easy as giving the people what they want. Fan service isn’t a dirty word, y’know. Pander is, let’s be clear, but fan service is not. Well done all around.
Continue reading to hear about the night’s main event: John Cena vs. The Miz.
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