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Found 101 results

  1. At the time this felt like one of those rare instances where WWE actually presented a dream match. These two had been kept apart from the time they both ascended to the top of Raw & Smackdown during the build to Mania 21 which made for a truly fresh match. Even with Taker/Edge in a Cell, this still seemed like the real draw at the show. They didn't disappoint, working an oddly compact match in under 14 minutes that's a virtual sprint compared with some main event matches today. They work a basic power match with lariats, powerbombs and slams for Batista while Cena is constantly looking for the FU. A neat wrinkle along the way is Batista borrowing a page from Flair's book as he clips the knee, goes to a kneebreaker and then actually breaks out the Figure-Four. What I loved here is how simple this was. Basic transitions borrowed from the Horsemen like a kick to the gut. Yeah, we had finishers teased throughout but they weren't spammed. They maintained a solid pace as there were no real rest spots or killing clock for anyone to regain their wind, but at the same time they let everything sink in. Every shot and offensive maneuver was allowed to breathe so that its impact registered. One legit false finish at the end on the powerbomb where Batista caught Cena coming off the top for his legdrop that absolute absolutely popped the crowd, and made the finish that followed thereafter all the more satisfying. Still amazing that this was a 100% clean job, although Cena didn't look at all the worse for wear coming out of a match that felt like stage 1 in a prolonged feud. Perhaps Cena's injury had something to do with that but they wouldn't return to it until 2010 when Batista was a true heel. Great, simple match with no real waste. ****
  2. The beginning was actually quite interesting as you had them working a tight lock up, Cena throwing the best punches he's ever thrown (I want to say his punching style here looked Buddy Rose's but I'm not sure I've seen enough of Rose to stand by that) and Cena using irish whips as punishment spots. Then they do an apron bump and this turns into a formulaic Cena-as-PWG "superworker" match, with AJ inserted into the formula and the formula slightly adjusted to fit his moves in but not enough to make it actually novel. And you don't want to see these two do a stupid spotfest. AJ Styles isn't 25 anymore, he isn't nearly as smooth and athletically impressive as he used to be and Cena never was nor is he ever going to be the guy for that type of match. The inefficiency of their finishers has reached such an absurd level I just don't buy anything they do as a potential match ender. Cena's weird Big Ending variation was ugly, but otherwise the move they spammed looked solid and some of the sequences were kinda cool, would have made for a 6.5 GIF maybe. Still this isn't really much different from a New Japan main event and I'm not sure whether it'd be more hypocritical to praise this and shit on New Japan or do the opposite. It's also amusing to see how many Japan references they make these days. "IWGP, BUSHIDO, Goto, using a translation of 雪崩式 instead of whatever WWE buzzword they have for top rope moves etc.) **3/4
  3. John Cena defends the WWE Heavyweight Title I'm starting to think that there is some revisionist history (damn, I hate that phrase, but it's apt here) going on here. For years, the story was that the fans turned on Cena because of his new cookie cutter army gimmick but here he is, still in his Chain Gang gimmick. They even call Cena's fans the chain gang. Its the same schtick that he had months prior to big plaudits. So that's not true, at least not here, who knows weekly because I was like super young to remember this era of wrestling. Anyway, this was pretty neat. And I attribute it to Cena's great showing here. He was explosive and showed tons of urgency in his opening barrage of offence. Cena isn't the most varied wrestler, offensively, but he could get the most out of what he can. His short running clothesline was used greatly as a momentum changer, he had some..not stiff but impactful back-elbows which did a ton of damage. Loved his selling too. He made Jericho look really good here, slowing down whenever Jericho hit his big spots in the match, the struggle he had for getting out of the simplistic of holds went a long way. Jericho was perfectly functional as an opponent, as he usually was, and was good, albeit a bit unremarkable in that sense. He didn't stand out above Cena, he just was the foil for Cena's comebacks, which isn't a bad spot to be in. Reminds me of 80s WWF title challengers. The crowd was super into this match. People may say "they were anti Cena", they weren't. It was very 50/50. No boos for Cena, nor Jericho. It was loud let's go Cena chants, let's Go Jericho chants. Shout out to the finish as well. That was so good. Quick and perfect. ***1/2
  4. Kurt Angle vs John Cena - No Mercy 2003 Some things never change like people kicking out of the FU. I forgot how foul-mouthed Cena's promos were at this time. He is like the reverse Bob Saget. Total random note, but I watched the opening video package to this PPV and the Vinny Mac & Steph storyline was some fucking dark shit. Really strong fundamentals-based match for the vast majority of this match. It is nothing that really pops, but it is just solid, entertaining. Some Kurt-isms pop up late in the match where he just starts suplexing Cena as his hope spots, but there are no real transitions to the Germans or out of the Germans to get back to Cena on offense. I forgot how crucial the kick to the midsection was in every match from like 1997-2005 in setting up your most lethal move. I think they could have done more with the street fighter vs Olympic wrestler if they wanted to have a classic, but as a meat and potatoes match this was fine. Angle outwrestled Cena early and then got pissed, flipped him off and took fight to him, which I thought would lead to more of a battle of fisticuffs. Angle eats the post (not my favorite transition as it does not put heat on the heel). Cena wrestled a fine heat segment. His clothesline has not changed nor how he sells punches. He was moving around great. It was weird there were no shoulder tackles. Cena went for his leg drop and Angle dropkicked the knee, which seemed like a sound strategy. He did get the ankellock, but they ended up on the apron and Angle took his DDT/apron bump that is needlessly nasty. Spot of the match was Cena finally hitting that legdrop in a way that does not make me roll my eyes. Angle was trying to get back in the ring, head-first and BANG! nailed the leg drop. Perfectly organic. Angle of course snapped off a suplex right after this. It was a fun finish stretch. They kicked out of each other's finishes. I loved Cena going for the chain, the ref takes it away, but he has stolen the gold medals! I did not even see that. Cena, you sly fox! He nails him and that should have been the finish, except Cena was turning face I believe. Angle kicks out nice pop and victory roll into AngleLock gets the win. It was just a very good match. Cena looked fine and had all his mannerisms down. He definitely worked big. Since Cena was not a workrate guy, I think that helped reign Angle in, which was a boon for this match. ***1/2
  5. Going through the WWE Matches of the Year for 2003 pack and this really caught my eye as its midcard heel Cena vs. Biker Taker and gets 15 minutes. The commentary note that Taker has an injured arm that he's delaying surgery for, and that he's here to put Cena in his place after being disrespected backstage. Cena looks like a little punk here in the opening minutes. Can't seem to really hurt Taker at all, the one time he lands a good kick just seems to really piss Taker off and he gets a chokeslam for his trouble. Taker unloads a flurry of strikes in the corner only for Cena to clock his skull with a steel chain, the same way he took out Brock Lesnar 9 years later in their classic. Cena actually looks really vicious here when he gets in control. Relentlessly going for Taker's injured arm first with a shoulder tackle that takes him out the ring, slams it into the barricade, dropkick through the ropes on the arm, stands on Taker's arm atop the steps and stomps his arm into the steps. Taker gets a bit of a comeback going and attempts a Last Ride powerbomb, Cena slips out using Taker's hurt arm and turns it into a cross-armbreaker. Taker's selling is really good in this match. Never stops looking pained after Cena's first bit of control and I like how he occasionally falls into the ropes to recuperate any moment he has Cena down. ***1/4
  6. When the build to this match started, my biggest fear was that it would be a 30 minute DRAMATIC™ finisher nearfall -fest forced epic, but MY GOODNESS it wasn't anything like that! The whole angle building to it with Cena on the crowd, coming out to thinking he'll face Taker, Elias coming out, Cena destroying Elias etc was tremendous & once Taker's theme finally hit, Cena sold that tremendously. He had already accepted that Taker wasn't gonna show up, and because of that he wasn't ready at all for the match - that was the story of this under 3-minute sprint squash; Cena wasn't ready for Taker & Taker just absolutely wrecked him. Awesome angle, awesome match. ***3/4
  7. This match for the WWE Heavyweight Championship made me a little bit sad. The story going in is that the Authority wants to screw Cena out of the title by pitting him against 3 other guys - the typical situation where he doesn't even have to take the fall in order to lose the belts. Orton and Kane work together early on, with the latter making sure the former's pinfall attempts go without interruption. However, the crowd doesn't really care, because while the heels get their heat on Cena, they are chanting for Roman Reigns. They are hot for the interactions between Cena and Roman, and they teased them duking it out twice in the match before it finally happened. And well, what can I say other than Reigns is clearly the MVP in this match? During a stretch later in the match where he takes on the other 3 competitors, the crowd is pleading for Roman to win this. But in the end, it's an AA from Cena to Orton (with Kane being the landing spot) that seals the deal. He outsmarted everyone and retained the titles. It's sad. Roman was clearly one of the most over people in the company at that point. And now...
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