WWE Vengeance, which took place last night, Oct. 23, 2011, from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, is officially in the books. And what a night it was
Let's not waste any time with the pleasantries and get right to all the reactions from the show, shall we?
- The highlight of the entire night was the world heavyweight championship match. And while Mark Henry has been getting a ton of recognition for everything he's accomplished over the past couple months, I think it's possible we haven't actually been giving him enough credit. Think of what he's managed to pull off: after 15 years in the business and a million failed pushes and bad gimmicks, he becomes a monster heel and starts destroying people. That's to the writers credit. And although it was previously thought impossible, he takes over the character with a zest not seen before. He oozes charisma and has developed an unmatched repertoire in the main event scene ... and that's saying a lot. Henry didn't just capture our attention for a week or two -- he's held it since the moment he became champion. Last night was the icing on the cake. Not only was I looking forward to his match against Big Show -- which is amazing all unto itself -- but the actual in-ring action delivered. "The World's Strongest Man" isn't just a solid wrestler; he's a great storyteller and performer. The ring breaking on the superplex was an awesome finish that was perfectly timed both in terms of the pacing of the match and it being long enough since the last time it happened. Plus, it fit much better with these two big men doing it. A+ all around.
- The Last Man Standing match was a necessary evil for the match between Alberto Del Rio and John Cena but there's nothing more annoying than a referee who overdoes it. Mike Chioda, who I'm completely fine with otherwise, oversold the hell out of each and every count. What was really bothersome, though, was his proclivity to wait three to four seconds between each number. I understand doing so in the early going to give the wrestlers the time to recover properly so as to avoid any mishaps but by the time it was over I was happy just to be done with Chioda. Again, the stipulation was necessary but the Last Man Standing could be the most annoying of all gimmick matches.
- That said, the match itself went far beyond my expectations. Cena repeated his usual mistakes, like forgetting to continue selling whenever making a comeback, but his timing was good and he worked much better with Del Rio than times past. The brawling was spectacular and the strategically placed high spots were well executed. Overall, it may have been the best match these two have ever had together. The Miz and R-Truth interfering to aid in Cena losing the match was the route WWE took to keep him strong, which is good if they pay that off later. Still not sure where the conspiracy angle is headed.
- Speaking of Miz and Truth, they had a good old fashioned tag team match with Triple H and Punk, who were having just a gay old time going back and forth with each other. Comebacks, hot tags, tag corner psychology; this one had it all and while they didn't tear the house down, it was fun for what it was. My only issue with Awesome Truth is stature. I don't ever get the feeling that either of the two could carry anyone to a great match. Punk and Triple H are larger than life and you would be hard pressed to find a team to stand across from them tit for tat but main event players these days just aren't made like they used to be. Still, highly entertaining.
- Kevin Nash is back in our lives and while he was putting over a future match against Punk on the Chad Dukes Wrestling Show a week ago, his attention was focused solely on Triple H last night. In fact, he had zero interaction with Punk at all. It's not surprising, I suppose, considering Trips laid him out before firing him a month ago but do we really want this feud to happen? Sure, "The Game" is probably still good enough to get a serviceable match out of him but why do we need to see that in the year 2011? Then again, if Nash feuding with Triple H in the mid-card means Punk's elevation to the main event for a program with Del Rio, sign me up.
- Final note on Punk: this is the fourth pay-per-view in a row he's been pinned. He lost the WWE championship to Del Rio at Summerslam, was pinned by Triple H at Night of Champions, was pinned by Del Rio again at Hell in a Cell and at Vengeance he laid down for The Miz. I'm not complaining but this speaks volumes as to Punk's place in the company. WWE has gone out of its way in the past to change storylines, oftentimes in ways that don't make any sense whatsoever, just to avoid guys like John Cena and Randy Orton losing at three consecutive pay-per-views. Punk gets no such treatment. Not a complaint so much as an interesting observation.
Thoughts on the rest of the show after the jump.
- The crowd in San Antonio seriously took away from the enjoyment of the show. A dead crowd gives off a certain vibe and it's always negative. This isn't golf, folks, get off your ass and act like you're enjoying yourselves. They get credit for going insane when Henry and Show did the superplex to break the ring but I have to call them out for being marks for the ensuing injury angles from both guys. It felt like watching a football game -- Show got carried out and gives a thumbs up and they politely clap and cheer that he's okay. For the most part, being a mark isn't a bad thing but this time it deserves the shout.
- Are there only four Diva's in the women's division?
- A good indicator that this was a pretty damn good show is the fact that I hardly noticed the lack of a title change. Five belts were on the line tonight and not one of them changed hands. Each time it made sense, too, which doesn't always happen.
- Do we need any more evidence that Dolph Ziggler is the real deal Holyfield? The dude goes balls out in a tag team match that he was carrying until the very end (that sell job on the cross body off the top rope was heroic) and then puts together a solid if unspectacular match against Zack Ryder immediately after the tag match ends. He's already mastered the art of selling and, in fact, he's gone one step further. When he sells a move, not only does his opponent look good but he makes himself look good as a result. A lot of guys never reach that point and it's why they'll never stop jerking the curtain. Hi, Mason Ryan.
- Before you Broskis go crazy about Ryder jobbing the way he did, it was the right thing to do. Let him keep chasing Ziggler around and build up the United States title. If Ryder comes out of this feud and never wins the belt, then you complain. For now, this is the right way to go.
- I still can't figure out why Randy Orton is a babyface. When you go to the arena, do you cheer him? Why? He certainly doesn't give you any reason to, other than the fact that he's wrestling a heel. Maybe that's a super impressive feat. He routinely gets the biggest pops everywhere they go and he does absolutely nothing to deserve them. He's awesome in the ring, yeah, but psychologically, he doesn't act like a good guy. Quite the opposite, in fact. Still, he gets big time props for making Cody Rhodes look so damn good before making him job. I wish they could have figured out a way to elevate the Intercontinental title a bit more, even giving Orton a run with it, but I'll take the solid match any day.
- I turned a corner on Sheamus last night. I went from looking forward to seeing him in the main event scene, winning a world title or two, to hoping he stays right where he's at. It's the damnedest thing; he just stopped being interesting. Much like Orton, I can't figure out a good reason to cheer him. He's got charisma and he's not terrible in the ring but I'm just not looking forward to any potential feuds with him involved. I think it's lack of character depth, which I hope they address because he's got all the right tools.
- On a similar note, Christian quickly became kind of irrelevant, huh? That's what happens when you're the fall guy in consecutive feuds with guys who are considered so much better than you, even if it's not necessarily the case. I would have liked to see that teased faction featuring Christian, Rhodes, Ziggler and Swagger come to fruition and think it would elevate all of them but unfortunately, that's not going to happen.
- So who wants to explain to me why it was cool for Michael Cole to shit all over Jim Ross on commentary all night? "Just a part of the storyline," right? So dumb. After his comments recently, I don't feel much sympathy for J.R. anymore but that doesn't mean it's not utterly annoying to have to listen to Cole yap his gums cracking stupid fat jokes and sounding like a giddy school girl. It's lame and takes away from the broadcast.
- How long until John Laurinaitis turns into Mike Adamle right on our TV sets? He botches at least one line per promo. Adamle at his peak was at like three. I give it another two weeks, three at the most.
I'll give WWE Vengeance 2011 an A- in my hypothetical grade book because it was a great night of action and the world heavyweight championship match was worth at least a B on its own.
Raw, as usual, should provide us with plenty of answers to all our questions from this event (kind of ass backwards, when you think about it). That's enough from me, though. Your turn to sound off with all your thoughts on the show, Cagesiders.
For complete Vengeance results and our running live blog click here.