For over 30 years, the WWE has had a pretty strong handle on the whole pay-per-view business. A handful of annual shows became a collection of monthly shows and now we’re at a point where not only are they doing more than twelve shows a year, but for ten bucks a month you can watch all the backlog as well as everything WCW and ECW had to offer.
So many classic events. WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, Elimination Chamber, and so on. Yet they aren’t all winners. While we have multiple instances of Backlash, Armageddon, and even Bragging Rights, there are some PPV ideas that WWE tried out over the years that just didn’t have staying power.
Here are all the different PPV one-shots in the WWE’s library.
Now, before I start, here are some ground rules:
– Even though WCW and ECW are now under the WWE umbrella, I’m only doing PPVs that were released by WWE at the time. In other words, December to Dismember counts, but that’s it.
– It doesn’t count if it’s a subtitle of In Your House or if In Your House is a subtitle of the show itself. That disqualifies Breakdown, Ground Zero, Rock Bottom, and St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Which is just as well, since they aren’t really gimmicky shows anyway.
– Similarly, slightly altering an existing PPV doesn’t make it count as its own thing. Obviously, The Bash is a renamed Great American Bash and I’m certainly not counting that one year of Tables, Ladders, Chairs, and Stairs.
THE WRESTLING CLASSIC
November 7, 1985
The Wrestling Classic is actually the first real PPV for WWF. WrestleMania was only available via closed circuit television and this show took place a bit after, so it gets the first honors. If you look at the concept of it, you’re left with one of the most promising PPV setups to disappoint in the end. A couple years before WrestleMania IV and more years before King of the Ring was its own show, WWF decided to do a 16-man tournament in one night along with a huge WWF Championship title defense of Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper.
Just to give you an idea of what you’re in for, it’s fifteen matches total, a two-and-a-half-hour show, and only 64 combined minutes of wrestling.
When you talk about the pluses of Wrestling Classic, you’ll find yourself saying, “____ was good, until.” You do get to see some matchups that are completely fun to watch for the first couple minutes, then it just ends abruptly. Hogan vs. Piper is really fun, but then it ends in a schmoz where Bob Orton and Paul Orndorff run out, robbing us of an actual conclusion.
The best thing about the show is probably the fact that we get to see Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat in the tournament and while it only goes four minutes, it does come off as an exciting preview of the wrestling classic we’ll get a year and a half later.
See what I did there?
Like I said, they just blaze through the matches with little in terms of clean victories. Three of the matches happen in less than a minute, such as how Dynamite Kid vs. Nikolai Volkoff is nine seconds, Moondog Spot vs. Terry Funk has a count-out ending at seventeen seconds, and Junkyard Dog beats Moondog Spot at forty-five seconds. That Dog vs. Dog battle happens so fast that there’s no referee in the ring, so Junkyard Dog makes the count himself and for some reason they just go with it.
One of the more frustrating moments is how Paul Orndorff and Tito Santana meet up in the quarterfinals and have a face vs. face match where Monsoon and Ventura argue over whether or not cooler heads will prevail. In the end, they blow up on each other and brawl to a double count-out, proving Ventura right. Then nothing is ever done with it. It’s the brilliant first step in a great storyline that never happens.
The finals gives us Randy Savage (heel) vs. Junkyard Dog (face) and it’s like they took Wrestling Tournament Booking 101 and flipped it so it makes no sense as a story. Savage wrestles through three opponents while Junkyard Dog gets one hard-fought opponent, one squash win, and a bye. Granted, Savage did cheat at two points, but when Ventura rants endlessly about how Junkyard Dog’s victory is meaningless because he got an easy path and Savage went into the finals as a physical wreck, he isn’t wrong.
Honorable mention goes to the segment where they give away a Rolls Royce to a fan and the crowd boos from start to finish.
Just a One-Shot
Like I said, WWF would attempt the 16-man tournament again in a couple years, then try it with 8-man tournaments, then settle on 4-man tournaments. The spirit of The Wrestling Classic continued on in one way or another, even if “one-night wrestling tournament” is a concept so easy that it would have happened whether or not Wrestling Classic existed in the first place.
But as for why there was never a second Wrestling Classic? Probably the name. Vince grew to insist on downplaying the word “wrestling” and while WrestleMania is too big a franchise to mess with, nobody would miss this show.
THE BIG EVENT
August 28, 1986
I was tricked into this one. WWE Network lists it as a PPV, so I watched it. Then I discovered that it was never on PPV to begin with and was just a VHS release. That…probably explained why the intro randomly throws in quick clips from the actual show.
Screw it, I’m including this anyway. I don’t care.
Despite the tendency to cut out everything between the winners’ exits and the next wrestlers’ entrances, it does feel like it could have been a PPV. It happened at the Exhibition Stadium in Toronto and played up the massive turnout months before WrestleMania III would blow it out of the water.
There’s nothing you need to go out of your way to check out, but there are some definite high points. Namely Jake Roberts vs. Ricky Steamboat in a match with no holds barred. It goes about ten minutes and it’s fun while it lasts, albeit the ending is rather abrupt and ill-fitting for what’s essentially a grudge match. It also utilizes the arena’s unique setup where the outside of the ring is still up a level from the floor, like a quasi-pyramid. It simply looks cooler when the two go from brawling in the ring to brawling outside the ring to going a step down further and brawling near the fans.
There’s a fun match in there of the Machines and Captain Lou Albano vs. Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, and Bobby Heenan. This is during a storyline where Machine member Giant Machine is blatantly just Andre the Giant in a mask, but Heenan can’t prove it. Anyway, after all hell breaks loose during the ending, Heenan rushes the ring and goes after Giant Machine, gets hit, and sells it so amazingly that a six-year-old Dolph Ziggler feels it.
The main event is Hogan defending the belt against Paul Orndorff and I kind of dig it. Mainly because although on paper, Hogan is physically superior to Orndorff and all that, they at least give Orndorff some benefit of the doubt as a cheater. There’s a part where Orndorff gets knocked into the ref, rather inadvertently, and Hogan prepares to piledrive Orndorff. Heenan runs in, clonks him with a stool, and Hogan’s out. The ref slowly crawls over, makes the three-count on Orndorff’s shoulder, and then reveals that he’s actually DQ’d him for the earlier ref bump.
The ending might be pretty stupid, but I’m a bit impressed that they actually gave Hogan such a blatant visual pin, cheating or not. Really, even when Hogan lost the title to Andre and later Warrior, he was still kicking out when they happened. He wouldn’t be as comatose until 1991 when he lost to the Undertaker.
There’s a huge stretch of badness early on that almost kills the show. After the hot opener of the Killer Bees vs. the Funks, they do the promising Haku vs. Magnificent Muraco, which unfortunately goes on for the entire 20 minutes and hits the time limit draw. After that, it’s Ted Arcidi vs. Tony Garea, Junkyard Dog vs. Adrian Adonis, and Iron Mike Sharpe vs. Dick Slater.
Really, if you’re going to watch the show, you might as well just check out Bees/Funks and then skip forward a bit.
Just a One-Shot
Ignoring that it’s not a PPV to begin with, the fact that WrestleMania III eats its lunch probably has something to do with it.
Regardless, they did revisit it down the line. A few days before the ten year anniversary in 1996, they did EX-perience, an event featuring a pretty strong and PPV-worthy card with such matches as Shawn Michaels defending the WWF Championship against Goldust in a Ladder Match, Undertaker vs. Mankind in a Casket Match, and Sid vs. Vader in a Lumberjack Match.
NO HOLDS BARRED: THE MOVIE/THE MATCH
December 27, 1989
Even though this gem really was on PPV, it sadly isn’t on the Network and probably won’t ever be. Man, I really do wish we could get this and all the crappy WWE-produced films on there. I’m certainly not going to actually buy any of the Marine movies.
In June of 1989, Hulk Hogan starred in a bomb of a movie called No Holds Barred, where he played himself with a different name and slightly different appearance. As Rip, he acted as WWF (?) Champion and made enemies with a slimy businessman who wanted to buy him away to his company. Said businessman started what I can best describe as “ECW as seen through Hollywood beer goggles.” His big champion was Zeus, as played by Tiny Lister, who goaded Rip into a televised wrestling match to the death.
WWF put a lot of eggs in this basket by deciding that Zeus was a real guy playing himself in the movie and he was mad at Hogan for upstaging him. Zeus appeared on WWF TV and antagonized Hogan, leading to a SummerSlam main event of Hogan and Brutus Beefcake vs. Zeus and Randy Savage.
Bad wrestling aside, it’s one of my favorite Hogan angles ever, but that’s a story for another time.
Since No Holds Barred was going to be hitting PPV and VHS by December, WWF figured they’d give some added incentive by releasing not only the movie, but Hogan and Beefcake vs. Zeus and Savage IN A CAGE!
The cage match is pretty entertaining, all in all. There’s an interesting dynamic when you make it a team thing because if you both have to escape the cage, that means that in order to win, you have to presumably leave your partner in a two-on-one situation. There are enough smoke and mirrors to make this nine-and-a-half-minute battle work and it makes for good closure on the storyline.
Also, while it isn’t included with The Movie/The Match, definitely track down the promos that Savage, Zeus, and Sensational Sherri did together.
Even though it’s an absolute trip to watch and every wrestling fan needs to see it before they die, No Holds Barred is a terrible movie.
God bless it.
Just a One-Shot
No Holds Barred and the wrestling angle born from it failed to set the world on fire, meaning that not only would there be no sequel (No Holds Still Barred?), but the plans for Hogan vs. Zeus at WrestleMania VI were nixed. Instead, Hogan’s opponent was a completely different invincible, crazy muscleman who could barely wrestle.
By the way, anyone else think it’s kind of funny that in 2016, Zeus is on Raw several times a night while they pretend Hogan never existed?
THIS TUESDAY IN TEXAS
December 3, 1991
As someone who got into wrestling in 1991, This Tuesday in Texas absolutely fascinates me with how transparently underhanded it was. See, WWF was in its pre-Raw days and needed to figure out how to keep people hooked on their storylines, stretching out their interest into the next show. One of the ideas was to have happy endings at the PPVs, only to throw in some kind of dark development after the show that we wouldn’t hear about until later. Think of it as an after-credits sequence that isn’t actually shown after the credits.
For example, Hulk Hogan defeated Sergeant Slaughter for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania VII. All is well, right? The next episode of Prime Time Wrestling will be all celebration? Nope. Turns out, Slaughter set Hogan’s face on fire an hour after they went off the air.
Randy Savage and Elizabeth ended SummerSlam with a wedding where nothing went wrong? Great! Too bad at the reception, Jake Roberts and the Undertaker attacked them.
Survivor Series ’91 had two main events going for it: Hulk Hogan defending the WWF Championship against the Undertaker and the team of Sid Justice, Big Boss Man, and the Legion of Doom vs. Jake Roberts, IRS, and the Natural Disasters. Sid got injured, so he rallied for the company to reinstate the retired Randy Savage to take his place. It was granted.
Then Jake Roberts beat up Savage on an episode of Superstars and had a snake bite Savage’s arm. When it came time for Survivor Series, President Jack Tunney told the world that Savage was in bad shape and couldn’t compete, but he’d totally be 100% six days later and they’d do ANOTHER PPV for the sake of giving us Savage vs. Roberts.
On the same show, Undertaker beat Hogan for the title via plenty of cheating. Tunney stepped in and said, “Oh, we’ll be doing Hogan vs. Undertaker again in six days too! Buy Tuesday in Texas!”
The rest of Survivor Series was just a big commercial for This Tuesday in Texas and the main event was seriously Boss Man and Legion of Doom vs. IRS and the Disasters. Oof.
Slimy or not, it’s legitimately a good show. At only an hour and a half, the show featured five matches, starting us off with Bret Hart defending the Intercontinental Championship against Skinner. It’s your average Bret match, meaning at worst, it’s watchable.
The two main events are what make the show. Savage vs. Roberts is less about the match itself and more about the comparatively edgy angle that comes out of it. Savage is already going into the match pissed off at the guy who ruined his wedding and attacked him with a poisonous cobra. Things escalate even further, which includes Jake dropping Savage with three DDTs, demanding Elizabeth beg for Savage’s life, and then slapping her. Later in the show, Savage goes full ham, torn between his violent hatred for Roberts and his hatred for himself for being at fault.
Hogan vs. Undertaker is far better than their Survivor Series match, outside of Undertaker accidentally tripping over himself during the climax. It works because it dives into being this superhero battle, where the narrative really makes it appear as the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.
On one side, you have Hogan, who is strong as is, but basically has the powers of Popeye eating his spinach or Mario grabbing a star, where he can become stronger and completely invincible, but for a limited time. On the other side, you have the Undertaker, who is less active, but is portrayed as invulnerable with no known limit to his endurance. When Undertaker first gets his advantage, it’s mainly because Hogan’s tired himself out from dishing out offense. When Hogan smashes Undertaker’s head with a chair and hits the big boot, Undertaker still gets up before Hogan has a chance to do the leg drop.
Because of all the cheating attempts by the heels, Hogan is justified when he cheats to get his title back. At the same time, it shows that sometimes it isn’t all about power. Sometimes you just have to fight smarter.
There’s a tag team match of El Matador and Virgil vs. Ted Dibiase and Repo Man. It ends with Virgil getting pinned because Repo Man runs over and knees him in the side. Even as a kid, my response to that was, “Wait, really?”
Also, there’s a match between British Bulldog and the Warlord and while it’s mostly fine, there’s this part at the end where the commentators can’t keep it straight what the story is supposed to be and it drives me crazy.
Okay, so Bulldog and Warlord had a match at WrestleMania earlier that year. It’s legit my favorite wrestling match of all-time. In the final moments, Warlord put Bulldog in the full nelson, but couldn’t lock his fingers. That meant that it hurt, but it wasn’t unbreakable, allowing Bulldog to power out, escape, and win. The two do a similar spot at This Tuesday in Texas, but it goes longer.
The problem is that Gorilla Monsoon on one hand wants to sell the idea that Warlord is cheating because he’s supposedly grabbing Bulldog’s hair and getting an unfair advantage. On the other hand, Warlord’s full nelson would be unbreakable if he locked his hands. So Monsoon and Heenan keep going back and forth between “Warlord can’t get the hold locked on!” and “Warlord can get the hold locked on if he wanted to, but he’s not because he’s a cheater!”
Just a One-Shot
This Tuesday in Texas failed to catch on and the low buyrate caused the company to scrap plans on more Tuesday PPVs. Still, the ripples are there and you can call it both a prototype for Taboo Tuesday (which also wasn’t especially successful) and the initial In Your House shows, where they were less expensive and shorter than the major annual events.
ONE NIGHT ONLY
September 20, 1997
It’s a critical time for WWF. The company is in the middle of transitioning into the Attitude Era. Steve Austin is on the shelf due to a horrible neck injury. Bret Hart is two months away from leaving the company out of fury due to a real-life double-cross. Undertaker is weeks away from having his world turned upside-down with the debut of his long-lost brother. Shawn Michaels is at the height of being a total dickhead behind-the-scenes, to which karma will take care of in several months.
During all of this, WWF holds One Night Only, one of their various England-based PPVs that they tended to do during the late 90s into the next millenium. Not only does it feature a title match where Bret Hart defends the WWF Championship against the Undertaker, but the main event has the British Bulldog defend his European Championship against Shawn Michaels.
The last three matches are absolutely phenomenal. First you get Owen Hart vs. Vader, which is great because of the weird US/Canada feud going on. Basically, the show happens during a time where the Hart Foundation is seen as heels in America and faces everywhere else. For patriots like Vader and…well…the Patriot, they’re booed outside of the US. That means that Owen plays the role of plucky underdog to a frustrated Vader.
Then there’s Undertaker vs. Bret, which ends as well as a DQ ending can, and Michaels vs. Bulldog. Supposedly, this is Michaels winning the European title because to hell with putting anyone over, but to its credit, it does give him some INSANE heel heat. You just don’t see “fans throwing garbage into the ring because the bad guy cheated to beat the dude who dedicated the match to his dying sister” heat these days.
Tiger Ali Singh wrestles Lief Cassidy, which is as good an excuse to throw down a smoke bomb and vanish as anything. Thankfully, it’s only four minutes long.
Seeing Patriot vs. Flash Funk in a showdown set up to get both of them booed is also a bit of a misstep despite being an otherwise good match.
Just a One-Shot
Fittingly, One Night Only was indeed one night only. While the title would never be used again (though we would get the similarly-named One Night Stand, which there were actually several), having English PPVs became a regular thing for this time of the year.
Which brings us to…
CAPITAL CARNAGE UK
December 6, 1998
A year has passed and the Attitude Era is unmistakably in full gear. The Rock is the Corporate Champion, Mankind and Austin are equally aiming for revenge, the Undertaker is a Satanic cult leader, and the McMahons are as corrupt as ever. It’s the time that everyone remembers fondly and we’re weeks away from WCW shooting themselves in the foot in spectacular fashion.
While the show isn’t really built up very much due to it being a UK PPV, they do advertise Rock defending the WWF Championship against Triple H, who is a face at the time. Early on in the show, the McMahons pull the rug out from everyone and say that they decided Triple H doesn’t feel right for a title shot, so instead it’ll be X-Pac. X-Pac is thrown into a title match he hasn’t prepared for while the Rock has been aware of the fix for at least a week. While dishonest, it’s still a cool way to show that the McMahons are assholes while allowing us some hope that maybe, just maybe, X-Pac can pull this off.
It’s a pretty good show all around, but it’s the last two matches that act as the highlights. Not only do you have the X-Pac/Rock title match, but the main event is a Fatal 4-Way between Austin, Mankind, Kane, and the Undertaker. There’s nothing really on the line here, but it’s a completely solid main event anyway.
The show also has a running subplot where Vinnie Jones is involved and the McMahons call him gay and stuff. Jones cuts a promo where he doesn’t have much to say other than how he’ll fight whoever, but the dude is so damn likeable and charismatic that the place goes bananas for every little thing coming out of his mouth.
Years later, he and Austin would go on to star in the least bad WWE Films release.
You know what else is great? Getting to see Marc Mero in a mixed tag match with the promise that it will be his last WWF appearance.
There’s a match of the Headbangers vs. Legion of Doom, which would normally be worth checking out, but this is with the lineup of Droz and Animal, meaning it’s during the time when WWF is doing that stupid Hawk suicide angle. Thankfully, this is the abrupt payoff where they lose the match and Animal and Droz start brawling.
Meanwhile, Tiger Ali Singh gets another match and goes over future Hall of Famer Edge. I watched it genuinely surprised that Singh was around for over a year to begin with.
Just a One-Shot
I mean, the show is in London, hence the “Capital.” Doesn’t really make sense when the next year’s show is in Birmingham, now does it?
The November/December UK PPV became a regular thing, but they went with the name Rebellion. Those shows lasted until 2002. The last UK-based PPV was Insurrextion in 2003.
July 22, 2001
The dream is a reality. WWF has purchased WCW. We’re finally getting the in-ring war people have been chomping at the bit for for years. Then comes the buzzkill (not the WCW wrestler) where only a handful of major WCW names are brought in, leaving the likes of the New World Order, Sting, Goldberg, and more on the sidelines. And now the feud is somehow about the McMahons while Paul Heyman slums it in the background.
Oh, yeah. ECW’s involved too. Or more specifically, Tommy Dreamer and Rob Van Dam show up and now a bunch of WWF guys who used to be in ECW decide that WCW’s pretty cool all of the sudden.
InVasion is all about WWF vs. WCW/ECW in an odd number of bouts (including a Heat match between Chavo Guerrero and Scotty 2 Hotty). Luckily, WWF seems to have the advantage by getting heel Steve Austin to tap back into his old badassitude that got him to the top in the first place.
More than anything else, Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy is a kickass spotfest that succeeds in getting RVD over with the crowd who may not have been too familiar with what he was all about. It’s the same match that gives us the immortal Jim Ross line, “How do you learn to fall off a twenty-foot ladder?!”
The opener of Edge and Christian vs. Lance Storm and Mike Awesome is the kind of quality you’d expect from the four involved and it’s to its credit that they don’t play into the Edge/Christian jealousy angle where Christian eventually turns on Edge. Here, Christian is uncharacteristically a face in light of the inter-promotional war and makes it work.
The novelty seems pretty cool at times, but there just isn’t enough star power to keep it interesting. APA vs. Natural Born Thrillers looks almost randomly thrown together and then you realize that, oh wait, these two teams are the respective tag champs at the time. There’s a match between a WWF referee and a WCW referee, though I’ll admit that it’s many times better than it had any right to be.
The final match is a ten-man tag where the WCW/ECW side is made up of Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, Rhyno, and the Dudley Boyz, which doesn’t really strike fear into the heart of the WWF all-stars. It kind of feels like watching the entire Justice League take on a bunch of Batman villains.
Then Austin turns on WWF, mainly for the sake of giving WCW a bigger star to make them more of a threat. It’s a silly trade that shows how ill-fated the whole storyline is from the beginning.
Finally, I have to mention the tag-team Bra and Panties Match and the lead-up, where Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler have the most cringe-worthy “sexy” dialogue you’ve ever heard.
Just a One-Shot
Yeah, it did get a higher buyrate than any other non-WrestleMania PPV, but it’s not like this could ever be a regular thing. The nWo invasion didn’t line up and I don’t think anyone would have been down for an entire PPV of WWE vs. Nexus matches.
Some stories are never meant to have sequels.
DECEMBER TO DISMEMBER
December 3, 2006
Due to the popularity of a couple of ECW reunion PPVs, Vince McMahon brings back the ECW brand and makes it the third show with new names, old names, and Paul Heyman in charge. After a scandal where RVD is arrested for driving under the influence, ECW loses its steam and falls deeper into being the C-show compared to Raw and SmackDown.
At least it gets its own PPV, right? “Least” is right because the show is set up to fail. Not only does it air a mere week after Survivor Series, but only two matches are promoted for it. One is an Extreme Elimination Chamber and the other is a tag match between the Hardy Boyz and MNM. Not only are neither team on the ECW roster, but the match is also only promoted via WWE.com.
December to Dismember gets shit on a lot and rightfully so, but I’m going to be honest and say that watching it all in one go ten years later…it’s actually a good show! It is! If I paid full PPV price to watch it back in the day, I’d hate it, and the context poisons it, but it’s basically on the level of watching a strong indie show that somehow has a super-expensive super cage main event where the wrong guy wins.
Probably the worst match of the night is Mike Knox and Kelly Kelly vs. Kevin Thorne and Ariel, but even that one feels like an act of mercy considering Kelly Kelly doesn’t get any offense in.
I also have to say, part of growing up is accepting that replacing Sabu with Hardcore Holly is – at worst – a lateral move. Sorry, guys.
The show is incredibly short and you can measure how hard they were trying to draw it out by going to the Network and looking at the length of time between the end of the second-last match and the opening bell of the main event. What’s also head-scratching in this is that there’s a Stevie Richards/Rene Dupree dark match before all of this. That certainly could have killed a few minutes on the broadcast.
Honorable mention also goes to Matt Striker’s briefs, which not only feature his face on the back, but is also constantly creeped up his crack, making it even more horrific.
Just a One-Shot
December to Dismember was the final nail in the coffin of Paul Heyman’s hold on ECW. While he did the best that he could with the show, it was still considered a major disaster and led to Heyman splitting from WWE. WWE’s ECW still lasted for a couple years, mutated into a prototype for NXT, but it would never be given its own PPV again.
Though to be fair, WWE did away with brand-specific PPVs by February of 2007 anyway.
September 13, 2009
In the late 00s, WWE tried to make as many PPVs gimmicky as possible. It couldn’t just be a show featuring a bunch of high-profile matches. Instead, they had to focus on some kind of special match or match type. That’s the basis for the following two entries on this list.
First up is Breaking Point, which is based on submission matches. Three different submission-based matches will happen over the night and that’s just a bad, bad idea from the beginning. Not that the matches will be bad, but there’s a really lopsided bit of drama involved.
Submission matches put the faces in the advantage, making the heels the underdogs. It’s just how the good guy/bad guy thing works. A heel will give up when put in your average submission finisher. Some top faces would only give up in a case of extreme overkill and then you have a couple top faces who would never really give up ever, such as John Cena and the Undertaker.
We’re left with a situation where we have to root for the heels to topple the system.
Legacy vs. D-Generation X in a Submissions Count Anywhere Match is a very badass brawl that’s worth your time. Of the three submission-based matches on the show, this is the only one that pulls it off right.
That said, Randy Orton does have a pretty great interview where he tries – he tries so hard – to make his I Quit Match with Cena work. Keep in mind that any I Quit Match against Cena (also known as “The Passion of the Cena”) is essentially a lengthy Aristocrats joke where the punchline is, “Cena wins!” Orton’s dead-eyed, quiet rant about Cena’s claims that he’ll never give up with the whispered question, “How can he know?” reminds me of how fantastic Orton’s character can be at times.
CM Punk vs. Undertaker is known as “that one good match at WrestleMania 29,” but here it falls flat. A couple of reasons, really. One, CM Punk is doing his straight-edge deal and that doesn’t translate into worthwhile heat when your opponent is a zombie wizard. There’s no talking point there.
Two, it’s a Submission Match against a guy who doesn’t submit, so to get around this, they jump through some dumb hoops to get us yet another Montreal Screwjob ending…in Montreal. Undertaker makes Punk tap, Teddy Long reverses the decision due to the Hell’s Gate being banned way back, and Punk immediately “makes Undertaker submit” to the Anaconda Vise.
The whole match is under nine minutes and it’s the main event. Then again, at least we get to see world champion CM Punk defend in the main event of the PPV while Cena’s on the undercard. That’s a rarity.
Oh, and how can I forget Great Khali vs. Kane in a Singapore Cane Match? If that sounds downright awful to you, you get a gold star because you’re absolutely right.
Just a One-Shot
It just didn’t work out. Of the three submission matches the show built around, they all ultimately failed to have anything to say. Legacy’s win over DX was swept under the rug in the long run even if it was each member’s biggest career victory. John Cena and Randy Orton continued to wrestle each other again and again for what appeared to be forever, meaning the I Quit meant nothing. The whole CM Punk/Undertaker controversy was handwaved away and basically forgotten about with Undertaker beating Punk for the World Heavyweight Championship in a quick opener at the next PPV.
The following year did give us Over the Limit, which could be argued as a successor to Breaking Point. Of the three shows done, the first two at least had I Quit Matches as the main events, so that’s almost a theme. They also had John Cena in those main events, so you can figure out how those worked out.
June 20, 2010
Fatal 4-Ways can be pretty fun, so why not a PPV based on having a bunch of them? Probably because nobody likes Fatal 4-Ways that much. I certainly don’t. Plus it comes off as a dick move to all the champs going in because the odds are against them all.
This show also takes place during the early days of the Nexus, where Daniel Bryan’s unfair firing is still fresh and is very much pissing off the fanbase.
First off, the biggest relief about this show is that although this takes place after NXT’s first season, Michael Cole has yet to go off the deep end and go into his show-destroying heel persona. The three-man team of Cole, Lawler, and Striker is shockingly solid. Seeing them rag on the Miz for his terrible rapping and then having a discussion about R-Truth’s lyrics to “What’s Up” is rather delightful.
As for matches, the show is good from top to bottom for the most part. The real highlights include Kofi Kingston vs. Drew McIntyre and Evan Bourne vs. Chris Jericho, although the 4-Ways are solid. In an era where Divas matches are a bane, the Maryse vs. Eve Torres vs. Alicia Fox vs. Gail Kim match is probably one of the better women’s matches of that year.
The show is really short, so if you felt cheated by December to Dismember’s runtime, you’ll probably feel the same here.
The two world title matches are entertaining, but the endings make the title changes feel secondary. Jack Swagger vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Big Show vs. CM Punk ends because Kane shows up and kidnaps Punk, which seems to overshadow Mysterio pinning Swagger and ending that doomed title reign. Similarly, the Nexus shows up in the Cena vs. Orton vs. Edge vs. Sheamus match and Sheamus sneaking in a pin to get his second WWE Championship comes off as completely secondary.
Just a One-Shot
The show ends with the fans chanting for Daniel Bryan, which shows just how little they cared about what was going on in the ring.
Although it made for a good show this time, “let’s have a bunch of four-man matches I guess” just doesn’t come off as the best selling point for an annual PPV.
June 19, 2011
With Fatal 4-Way a bust, WWE tries another concept for June.
The idea behind this one is that it takes place in Washington DC, so how about a show based around making fun of Obama? Considering that “WWE does political humor” is the most embarrassing thing about watching this company (just edging out “Vince McMahon commissioned a web cartoon about his bare ass”), this doesn’t bode well. For reference, please see the Obama vs. Hillary match, Dennis Miller hosting Raw, or the time George W. Bush called Cryme Tyme the n-word.
WWE’s at a quality valley during this time and I remember it well as the one time when I came very, very close to calling it quits (the title transition from Christian to Orton was the epitome of everything wrong with the promotion), but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Two lights, I should say, and we see their first glimmers in here.
The setup is actually on point here, making the stage look like a badass reimagining of the Capitol Building. We don’t see them do that with PPVs enough these days.
The first half of the show is garbage, but it’s saved by the one-two punch of CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton vs. Christian. Not only is Punk vs. Mysterio the match of the night, but just prior to it, Punk cuts a promo that slyly foreshadows his upcoming “pipebomb” promo that will breathe new life into his career and WWE in general.
“I’m the only honest one here. I’m the only real one here. And after I beat Rey Mysterio in Washington DC…I’m gonna go on to do the most honest thing the WWE Universe has ever seen.”
There’s a Big Show vs. Del Rio match, which is pretty bad (though thankfully short), but it’s worth noting because Mark Henry shows up to annihilate Big Show with a World’s Strongest Slam through a table. This is the beginning of the Hall of Pain run, when Henry decides to suddenly become awesome and gets a massive push on SmackDown. I absolutely adore the Hall of Pain run.
I chose not to look at the card before watching the show, so when Miz was asked backstage about his match with Alex Riley, the shock and horror turned me white as a sheet. Miz vs. Riley is ten minutes long and Miz does his best to make it work. It doesn’t, even if Riley is over as hell.
Just when I think it’s over, Wade Barrett is asked about his coming match…with Ezekiel “Bodyslam, Bodyslam, Bodyslam” Jackson. That too is unfortunate to sit through.
A fake Obama shows up and gets the toothless humor you’d expect. Booker T calls him into the ring to do an Obamaroonie and the adequate spin makes the crowd go absolutely mild.
Just a One-Shot
A show with John Cena vs. R-Truth as the main event was never going to win over the world and the political theme just didn’t catch on, so it’s no surprise that WWE didn’t make any yearly June trips to the Verizon Center. Instead, they gave the June spot to No Way Out (instead of the pre-WrestleMania spot it’s known for) and then introduced Payback in 2013.
Then again, if Trump wins this November, I wouldn’t put it past Vince to dust off this idea.
For Gavin Jasper, This Tuesday in Texas was the most important day of his life. But for M. Bison? It was Tuesday. Follow Gavin on Twitter!