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Posts tagged “Elimination Chamber

Pre-Conceived Notions

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I have a problem with everyone’s “perception” of the WWE Network. For starters, the damn thing isn’t even out yet. 

You can trash-talk a brand new sports-car all you want and base it on a bunch of pre-conceived notions (i.e doors are slanted funny, no convertible top, lacks a built-in toaster oven) but until you invest in one and drive it, or at least test-drive someone else’s (because this is the era of mooching) all of those aforementioned pre-conceived notions mean precisely dick. 

Like everything else in wrestling, would-be analysts and “fans” are rushing to wherever they see other “fans” like a bunch of Pygmy Sasquatches ready to follow the herd off a cliff. 

This is one of the more serious problems with the internet-era of pro wrestling. Everyone thinks they’re an analyst. Considering that half the idiots I see trolling dirt sheet message boards can’t even spell the word “analyst”, I’ll explain.  

an·a·lyst noun \ˈa-nə-ləst\

: a person who studies or analyzes something

See that up there? That’s the definition of analyst. In order to analyze it, you have to study it. In order to study it, you need to have access to it. In order to access it, it has to be made available to you.

Everyone who supports TNA took half a listen to a few sentences about TNA’s decision to cut back from 12 PPVs a year to 4 and called it revolutionary. That’s because the majority of pro-wrestling “analysts” are just jaded fans who will blindly accept anything given to them if it sounds like what they want. 

We’ve had long discussions about the difference between giving fans what they want and giving them what they like. Thing is, how did that PPV thing turn out for TNA? Horribly. 

We went from gawdawful storylines and really crappy booking decisions that went month to month to gawdawful storylines and really crappy booking decisions that had to be stretched over three month periods because suddenly, there were no events to make major story developments at. 

Case in point, TNA “fans”, who are really just TN-Ablers, heard the words “PPV” and “format change” and immediately lauded it as the best thing in pro wrestling, something that would assuredly take TNA to the top where they’ve been denied their glory for so long. 

Here’s where I hit you with some truth, and this is why folks don’t always like my writing; because I have this tendency to be right before the question is even asked. 

The cream rises to the top.

Yeah, it’s a cliché but it’s the truth. If a promotion or wrestler is talented enough, works hard enough and gets the right break at the right time, they rise to the top. That’s why, in hindsight, everyone needs to chill the hell out about Daniel Bryan. WWE makes questionable decisions all the time.

Pro wrestling is about egos and those get in the way of plans all the time but the WWE is not stupid. 

They were making plenty of bad booking decisions in 2004 but they were still smart enough to know solid gold when they saw it and in 2004, that was John Cena. In 2014, a decade later, that solid gold is Daniel Bryan.

Bryan will get where he needs to go. Whether it happens at this year’s WrestleMania is another story but we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it. I digress.

If TNA really wanted to be at the top, they’d be there. Or as close as they could reasonably get. Honestly, TNA could produce the best wrestling and stories in the world (and no, despite the good they achieved during their best years, it still wasn’t the best in the world) and they’d still lose to WWE. That’s just straight facts.  

TNA doesn’t have the resources or the brand awareness or the business acumen to even shine WWE’s crappiest pair of worn out high school prom shoes. But in a perfect world, with a better TV deal, smarter folks at the helm and a helluva lot more resources, TNA would exist as a legit number two promotion.  

If they wanted to. 

The thing is, they seem to know that they won’t ever get near the number two spot. So they gradually stopped trying. Now, it’s just sad to watch them sputter along, wasting a perfectly good TV spot.  

I say all this because my above analysis of TNA isn’t based on pre-conceived notions or jumping to early conclusions. It’s based on studying and watching this promotion and following their decisions over a span of years. 

Don’t make the mistake of jumping all over the WWE for the Network and assuming they’ll start slacking on PPV quality because they have guaranteed subscribers watching (the most popular argument currently). 

It may sound counter-intuitive but WWE actually has more pressure on them with guaranteed viewers than they did when they were earning PPV buys. The people who had the choice to buy the PPVs were going to buy them or not regardless. A lot of them would base their decisions on, you guessed it, pre-conceived notions. 

Still, look at Netflix. They make questionable decisions all the time but when your customers are subscribers who are now actively paying a monthly fee for your stuff, you HAVE to deliver the goods. Netflix delivers the goods. Don’t believe me? Go ask the former CEO of Blockbuster why that chain no longer exists.

Now that WWE has guaranteed PPV viewers and content subscribers, the pressure is on more than ever before to pick up the steam and deliver top-notch programming. Because WWE Network can’t survive on just old school viewers who buy it to re-live the glory days. 

WWE Network will be supported by people who want the best wrestling in the world. 

This company will continue making questionable decisions but in order to keep subscribers and attract new ones, they’ll have to deliver. But if you don’t believe me, it’s no worry to me. 

 Just don’t base that opinion off of pre-conceived notions.


Gauntlet of the Predator | Part 2

It is anybody’s guess as to what will happen next for WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton.  Although he successfully survived the series of matches over the last three weeks imposed upon him by The Authority, the Apex Predator did not escape their machinations without succumbing in some way to the toll inflicted on his psyche by the gauntlet.

Orton only won one of the five matches in the gauntlet, which surely will fuel the ever growing sense of insecurity festering within him.  This type of momentum or negative energy surging within Orton could be extremely bad for him as he prepares to defend his title during this Sunday’s Elimination Chamber pay per view.  With it being difficult for Orton to gain even one victory in singles matches against his Elimination Chamber opponents, one can only imagine how much more difficult it will be for the champion to survive in a match pitting him against all five opponents at once.

The prospect of a far more dangerous and vicious Randy Orton makes us eagerly anticipate his actions during the bout; the odds are seemingly stacked against him, placing Orton with his back against the wall and desperate to hold on to the only thing bringing him significance and relevance in this age dominated by “Yes!” chants and speculation on Roman Reigns’ future in the company.  A cornered Randy Orton could potentially unleash a violent and vicious skull-punting Randy Orton, one who’s fire and passion stand to cause havoc and chaos for the five men locked in the chamber structure with him.

Only time will tell whether or not this will be the Randy Orton we’ll see, as it would be slightly disappointing to see any other iteration of Randy Orton traverse the remaining peaks and valleys on the “Road to WrestleManiaassuming he retains his title this Sunday.

The following synopses covers the final matches in Orton’s gauntlet:

Match #4
Cesaro versus Randy Orton
February 14, 2014 | Smackdown
| Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA
Result: Cesaro defeats Randy Orton via pinfall with the Neutralizer

The newly renamed WWE Superstar Cesaro employs a gutwrench suplex (or Russian Neck Drop) on WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton on the Valentine's Day episode of Smackdown. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The newly renamed WWE Superstar Cesaro employs a gutwrench suplex (or *Russian Neck Drop) on WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton on the Valentine’s Day episode of Smackdown. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

*Note: Click HERE for video of the Russian Neck Drop, and HERE for the Gutwrench Suplex.

WWE Superstar Cesaro has done nothing but impress fans since his arrival in the promotion.  Cesaro, who is also occasionally referred to as “The Swiss Superman,” has consistently wowed audiences with his incredible feats of strength and has introduced several different maneuvers from his arsenal throughout his brief tenure thus far in WWE.  Cesaro took fans by surprise when he gained his coveted spot in the Elimination Chamber match, and although many consider him to be a dark horse in the match, he could very well be the biggest threat facing Randy Orton this Sunday.  It’s very hard to make a solid argument against his bright future in the promotion, as his entry into the main event of the last pay per view prior to WrestleMania XXX has led to speculation that a face turn is in his near future.  All speculation, however, should be taken with a grain of salt even though all signs point towards to the great possibility of a face turn for him:

C-Section fans cheering Cesaro during the Feb. 14 episode of Smackdown.  On a side note, you see what I did there? | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

C-Section fans cheering Cesaro during the Feb. 14 episode of Smackdown. On a side note, you see what I did there? | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Orton definitely approached the match with his two defeats firmly planted in the forefront of his mind; nevertheless, Orton did not seem phased or intimidated about facing Cesaro and assuredly underestimated his opponent before even stepping in the ring with him.  This misguided perception of Cesaro would return to bite Orton on the backside by the end of their match.

The story of the bout was all about Cesaro’s sheer power and strength versus Orton’s underhanded and tactical prowess.  Having underestimated his opponent early own, Orton was effectively blindsided by Cesaro’s offense and unique skill set.  Cesaro’s offense was similar to that of John Cena, an arsenal consisting mostly of upper body blows and maneuvers that worked at Orton’s torso and his core.  Unlike Cena’s offense, however, Cesaro’s body blows flow naturally from his technically charged and deliberate offense; Cena is more of a brawler while Cesaro wails on his opponent’s body with intention and not reckless abandon.  It must also be mentioned that Cesaro’s offense was so effective that Orton looked visibly exhausted halfway through their match (major kudos to Orton if he was selling Cesaro’s offense and if he was truly tired halfway through and fought to finish the match).

In response to Cesaro’s attacks, Orton took his assault outside of the ring and used every tactic he could to wear down his opponent using everything he could outside of the ring without getting disqualified.  To be honest, Orton’s offense looked a lot like something a fan would do in the “Defeat the Streak” story mode on WWE 2K14.

When Orton finally tossed Cesaro back into the ring, there was a bit of back and forth action before the two.  One notable moment in the match was Cesaro’s reversal of the RKO into an European uppercut to the back of Orton’s head.  The finish of the match came when Cesaro reversed an attempted superplex from Orton into a sunset flip powerbomb, followed up by a discus European uppercut.  Without wasting a moment, Cesaro applied and executed the Neutralizer, giving him the pinfall victory over the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

Randy Orton applying yet another chin lock to an opponent during the gauntlet. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Randy Orton applying yet another chin lock to an opponent during the gauntlet. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It would be in Orton’s best interest to avoid Cesaro altogether during the Elimination Chamber match if possible.  Survival is a key factor in winning the match, and if Orton cannot be labeled or characterized by his stamina and resiliency, any interaction with Cesaro would essentially shorten the amount of time he would be able to avoid elimination at someone’s hands.

Orton’s best offense against Cesaro would be to not only let superstars like Sheamus and John Cena work him over, but to also utilize as much of the steel structure as he can to weaken Cesaro up for elimination by either of the two other aforementioned superstars.

Cesaro, on the other hand, will set out to prove Sunday that he can hang with the big dogs in the WWE’s main event scene.  We shouldn’t expect Cesaro to win the match, but we can expect him to put on one hell of an impressive show as he literally stands toe to toe with four former WWE and World Heavyweight Champions and the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion.  Cesaro typically has great matches in WWE, but we should especially look forward to him exchanging blows with Sheamus and Daniel Bryan.

Match #5
Sheamus versus Randy Orton
February 17, 2014 | Monday Night RAW
| Pepsi Center in Denver, CO
Result: Sheamus defeats Randy Orton via disqualification after The Shield attacked Sheamus

WWE Superstar Sheamus leaps through the air with his Battering Ram maneuver against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton on the Feb. 17, 2014 episode of RAW. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

WWE Superstar Sheamus leaps through the air with his Battering Ram maneuver against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton on the Feb. 17, 2014 episode of RAW. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Facing quite the opponent in the final match of the gauntlet, Randy Orton seemed more focused to assert himself as the “Face of the WWE” heading into the Elimination Chamber pay per view.  The WWE World Heavyweight Champion made it crystal clear that he relied on The Authority to continue supporting him despite his inability to dominate his opponents throughout the gauntlet.  Sheamus, on the other hand, simply wanted to fight.

The match between Sheamus and Orton started off slowly as the champ slithered out of the ring a few times to get his bearings against another powerhouse of an opponent.  The Celtic Warrior’s offense differs from that of Cesaro and John Cena in that it’s more of “beat you silly” approach than anything else.  Sheamus is a powerhouse who simply fights, looking to score his victory by using a debilitating kick to his opponent’s head; he enjoys beating up his opponents as he honestly only needs to kick his opponent’s head off.  Simply put, Sheamus is a sadist.

Orton seemingly learned his lesson from his defeat against Cesaro and once again took the fight to outside of the ring.  The champ was most effective in stalling Sheamus’ momentum while confining his onslaught to the ringside area.  Orton’s most devastating offensive maneuver was undoubtedly suplexing Sheamus through the announcer’s table:

Sheamus lays devastated in a crumpled heap outside of the ring during his match with Randy Orton on the Feb. 17 episode of RAW. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Sheamus lays devastated in a crumpled heap outside of the ring during his match with Randy Orton on the Feb. 17 episode of RAW.  |  Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Once the fighting returned to the ring, Orton failed to capitalize off of putting Sheamus through the announcer’s table, giving Sheamus the precious opportunity to get back into the match.  The action went back and forth from that point as Orton attempted to counter Sheamus’ attempts to wail on him.  Sheamus eventually gained the upper hand and after landing two Irish Curse backbreakers, the Celtic Warrior mustered up enough gumption to set Orton up for his Brogue Kick finishing maneuver.  As Sheamus rallied the crowd behind him, the Shield stormed the ring and the match was immediately thrown out by the referee, giving Sheamus the win and Orton his final defeat in the gauntlet.

Does Randy Orton have a solid game plan heading into the Elimination Chamber pay per view this Sunday? | | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Does Randy Orton have a solid game plan heading into the Elimination Chamber pay per view this Sunday? | | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The prospect of winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is important to Sheamus, but it cannot be ignored or denied that the Celtic Warrior would leave the chamber just as happy in defeat if he’s only able to unmercifully throttle an opponent into submission or defeat.  This perhaps makes Sheamus the second dangerous man in the Chamber match next to Randy Orton; armed only with the desire to beat a man senseless, Sheamus will be relentless in his attacks against his opponents.

This pits three men seeking championship gold (Bryan, Christian and Cesaro), one man seeking to retain his position (Orton), and one man seeking to make a point to the rising class of WWE Superstars (Cena) against a man who just wants to kick people’s heads clean off of their shoulders.

All things considered, one could easily see that by the time he was ready to face Sheamus, Orton had all but completely dismissed his embarrassing performance throughout the gauntlet.  By the time the main event rolled around on RAW, Orton cared very little about his wins and losses heading into the pay per view and relied more on the hope that The Authority would continue to protect him and his position within the promotion.  Midway through the gauntlet series Orton switched tactics and his approach on his matches; he transformed from a whiny and insatiable brat into an overly appreciative brown nosing yes man, opting to weasel his way back into the good graces of The Authority instead of actually putting forth an effort to prove to his opponents that he’s not a champion to be reckoned with.

The subtle change in Orton’s demeanor leads me to believe that he will retain his title at Elimination Chamber.  For the duration of the gauntlet fans have been led to believe that Orton doesn’t stand a chance at retaining his title.  Even the way the gauntlet was constructed, including how Orton fared as far as wins and losses are concerned, suggests that Orton will have one difficult time retaining his title.

What we mustn’t forget is that the Elimination Chamber match operates much like the Royal Rumble, where superstars join the fracas at timed intervals until all the participants have entered the steel structure or have been eliminated from it.  Because of his schmoozing and brown nosing, Orton may very well be the last participant to enter the match, which means that at least one of his opponents could very well be eliminated before he even steps into the ring.

The other concept to remember is that out of all the participants in the match, Orton has the most to lose and the luxury of having to offer the least amount of offense in the match.  The Elimination Chamber match participants will claw tooth and nail at each other, and as long as Randy can survive until he is one of the final two participants in the match, the only offense he’ll need to offer will be to keep from being eliminated.

The gauntlet then becomes important because it tells this exact story; if Orton had trouble beating his opponents in singles matches, he also stands very little chance of defeating anyone of them at Elimination Chamber.  However, if Orton’s opponents defeat each other, if he manages to get The Authority to make sure he’s the last man to enter the match (or conveniently place him in a Chamber pod that “malfunctions”), he will have the opportunity to plan his attack accordingly to pick off his opponents one-by-one after they’ve brutalized each other.

With his back against the wall and his conniving ways as a primary weapon, Orton looks to be in a prime position to maintain his spot in a main event (as opposed to “the” main event) at WrestleMania XXX.  Orton survived the gauntlet, and the Viper will survive the Elimination Chamber match.

The only question left is what will happen to the champ during this week’s episode of Smackdown?  We look forward to the show in eager anticipation, with just as much zeal and enthusiasm as we have for the Elimination Chamber pay per view this Sunday.

 

Your WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton. | | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Your WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

To read the first part of the Gauntlet of the Predator, click here!


Gauntlet of the Predator | Part 1

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

During the opening segment of the February 3, 2014 edition of Monday Night RAW, Stephanie McMahon announced that WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton would face all five of his Elimination Chamber opponents in singles matches in the weeks leading up to the pay per view.  So far Orton has scored one victory and two losses against three of those five opponents, and looks to face Antonio Cesaro this Friday on Smackdown.

Most may not realize that this particular gauntlet is a very important stop on the “Road to WrestleMania.”  With the PG Era essentially neutering the fruition of Eric Bischoff’s sadistic desires, the actual Elimination Chamber match has effectively become just another prop in a glorified cage match.  However, by placing Randy Orton in a series of singles matches against his EC opponents prior to the pay per view, the focus shifts a bit and places the focus of the match on the opponents rather than the structure itself.  There is a huge paradigm change in how we view the match and its significance as the last main event of a pay per view before WrestleMania.

In effect, the wrestlers in the match become the subject of the match instead of accessories susceptible to the whims of an unrelenting and demonic enclosure.  Instead of six wrestlers utilizing the structure to maim and brutalize one another, we’re now lead to witness six distinct wrestling styles clash with each other until there is only one man standing.  With the men unable to escape the chamber, the strategy of each wrestler is essential to their survival and overall victory.  The gauntlet, therefore, gives fans the opportunity to buy into each characters strengths and weaknesses heading into the pay per view, enabling us to see not only what the champion has to overcome, but what each superstar brings to the brouhaha.

We should consider each of Orton’s matches in context of the entire gauntlet in light of his title defense in a little under two weeks.  The gauntlet has given all six men an opportunity to shine, to expose and express those qualities and characteristics that make them worthy of being top stars in WWE.  It also gives us to see the true depth of the Randy Orton character, the way Orton adapts his style to each of his opponents and proves that he’s capable of being the World Heavyweight Champion through his domination over any competitor that dares face him in the ring.

The following synopses of Orton’s first three matches look to give more insight on the gauntlet’s importance as well as to hype the importance of the Elimination Chamber pay per view in two weeks.

Match #1
Daniel Bryan versus Randy Orton
February 3, 2014 | Monday Night RAW
| CenturyLink Center in Omaha, NE
Result: Daniel Bryan defeats Randy Orton via pinfall after the Running Knee finishing maneuver

Daniel Bryan works over Orton's knee during their match on the Feb. 3, 2014 edition or RAW. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Daniel Bryan works over Orton’s knee during their match on the Feb. 3, 2014 edition or RAW. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The rivalry between Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan has quickly shaped up to be one of the most storied rivals in recent WWE history.  The two have faced each other countless numbers of times since Orton cashed in his Money In the Bank briefcase on Bryan at last year’s SummerSlam pay per view, and every single one of their encounters have been incredibly enjoyable.  Serving as the opening bout in Orton’s gauntlet, their match last week set an extremely high bar for the rest of the bouts in the series.

As the master technician in the match, Bryan began a relentless assault early on the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and spent an ample amount of time working over Orton’s left knee.  Bryan’s attack was slow, focused and methodical, each maneuver literally whittling away at the sinews, ligaments and soft tissue in Orton’s knee.  Such a devious and calculated attack was surely necessary to debilitate Orton as well as keep him from utilizing both of his signature finishing maneuvers.  With one severely damaged leg, Orton would have found it somewhat difficult to leap for his RKO finisher as well as run for his patented Punt.

Once Orton gained an opening in the match, he began to work on Daniel Bryan’s right arm in the same way his left leg was worked over.  With an injured arm this would obviously have made it hard for Bryan to apply the Yes Lock for an easy submission victory.  Orton’s signature moves (drop kick, Garvin Stomp, DDT from the second rope) were also sprinkled liberally throughout the match, but very noticeable was Orton’s concentrated efforts on hurting and incapacitating Bryan.  Orton spent very little time taunting Daniel Bryan although he did manage to sneak a few smirks and self-congratulatory arm raises into the match.

Both men seemed to seethe with hatred for one another, making all of their movements and maneuvers tug at the fans’ heart strings and emotions.  You could feel the hatred they had for one another with each stomp, kick and punch; the atmosphere simply reeked of their intentions to hurt one another, giving fans the feeling that this fight had less to do with the title and more to do with proving a point: I want to destroy you.

An interruption from Kane, the Director of Operations (or, as I call him, the DOOP) slowed down Bryan’s momentum, but allowed him to capitalize off of a distracted Orton with his running knee finisher, something Orton didn’t count on while working over Bryan’s arm.  Bryan scores a clean victory and receives a chokeslam from Kane as a parting gift while Orton stewed in his first loss of the gauntlet.

Daniel Bryan will be the biggest threat to Orton's title at the Elimination Chamber PPV. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Daniel Bryan will be the biggest threat to Orton’s title at the Elimination Chamber PPV. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Daniel Bryan has been a thorn in Orton’s side ever since August 2013.   With a rivalry and feud that has spanned almost six years, it has been one hell of a fight for Orton to prove his mettle against Bryan without some sort of outside help or interference.  It would seem, in a lot of ways, that Orton physically can’t beat Daniel Bryan without someone giving him the edge.  To make a long story short, Daniel Bryan will be the single biggest threat to Orton retaining his championship come the Elimination Chamber pay per view.

We cannot forget that there will be four other competitors in the ring; Orton stands a solid chance against Daniel Bryan if he or one of his fellow competitors can neutralize Bryan whenever he enters the match.  With resiliency and stamina on his side, however, Bryan will be a formidable opponent to conquer and could easily eliminate his opponents with his ground submission game or a striking blow to the face with his running knee.  It would be best for the champion to make sure Bryan is indisposed or eliminated quickly from the match.

 

Match #2
Christian versus Randy Orton
February 7, 2014 | Smackdown
| Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA
Result: Randy Orton defeats Christian via pinfall with the RKO

Orton scored his first victory in the gauntlet against "Captain Charisma" on the Feb. 7, 2014 edition of Smackdown. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Orton scored his first victory in the gauntlet against “Captain Charisma” on the Feb. 7, 2014 edition of Smackdown. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

After suffering his loss to Daniel Bryan earlier in the week, Orton marched into Smackdown looking to validate his reign as WWE World Heavyweight Champion by making a statement with a decisive victory over Christian.

Their match paled in comparison to Orton’s match against Bryan, but told an interesting story nevertheless.  Christian, a former 2-time World Heavyweight Champion, looks forward to Elimination Chamber to establish a credible, long-lasting legacy as a main event player in WWE.  While he didn’t approach his match with Orton using a strategy in the same sense as Bryan, he simply wrestled Orton with the class of a cagey veteran.  Christian opted to simply give Orton a taste of his nineteen years in the business, choosing to use his wits and wily maneuvers to wear away at Orton’s stamina and to discombobulate him in only the way a storied veteran could.

On the other hand Orton matched Christian’s veteran skills with his own signature wrestling style, also choosing to not overly complicate the match by focusing on a specific body part or area of the body.  Unlike his previous battle with Daniel Bryan, Orton’s trademark cockiness and bravado made its way into the match as it was clearly evident Orton thought little of his opponent.

Orton headed into his match against Christian with more to lose than Christian had to gain, thus making him more of a threat than his opponent would’ve guessed or assumed.  In what was a good and solid match, Orton capitalized off of a high-risk top rope maneuver landing an RKO on Christian in mid-air … ironically the same move that gave Orton the victory during Christian’s very first World Heavyweight Champion title defense.  Smackdown goes off the air with Orton standing triumphantly over Christian after a well-fought and clean victory.

Orton did not seem phased or intimidated by Christian during their bout on Smackdown. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Orton did not seem phased or intimidated by Christian during their bout on Smackdown. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

While Orton and Christian are no strangers to each other, it would seem that Orton’s rise to prominence and Christian’s inactivity due to injuries created a huge gap in between the way the stars related to one another and the WWE Universe.  Christian remained humble and patient, waiting diligently for one more chance to become a major WWE champion, Orton’s ego grew exponentially as his career advanced like a bullet train.  This confidence boost surely added to Orton’s lethality as a defending champion, which arguably made him hungrier to keep his title than Christian’s diffident desire to win another big one.

Unfortunately, Christian is placed in an unenviable position of proving his worth in the match.  Orton has less to fear from Christian than he does any of his other competitors, and Christian has to dig extremely deep to unearth the grit to outlast four other devastating competitors just to get his hands on Orton.  One can only guess that Christian also has to prove something to himself by defeating Orton specifically at the pay per view, but I doubt seriously that the former World Heavyweight Champ will have the opportunity to make it out of the blocks before that could even be a possibility.

Match #3
John Cena versus Randy Orton
February 10, 2014 | Monday Night RAW
| Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA
Result: John Cena defeats Randy Orton via pinfall with the Attitude Adjustment

John Cena attempts to make Orton submit via the STF during their match on Monday Night RAW. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

John Cena attempts to make Orton submit via the STF during their match on Monday Night RAW. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The history of John Cena and Randy Orton’s rivalry has already reached mythic proportions.  After last month’s Royal Rumble rematch between the two was universally panned by fans, a suspicion that the two would deliver their typical match crept into our collective consciousness.   That suspicion was quickly allayed as both men delivered a high quality match that, despite its repetitiveness, supplied fans with fresh action and energy.

Heading into the match Orton desired to make amends with The Authority by once again proving his rightful place as the face of the company.  By vowing to do so with a victory against John Cena, Orton looked to cement not only his place but also his legacy, as it has been said that one could not be “anything” unless they defeated John Cena.

Earlier in the day, John Cena tweeted the following:

johncenatweet_feb10-2014
During the Monday Night RAW broadcast, Cena cut a promo regarding his longstanding rivalry with Randy Orton and the new wave of stars rising within the ranks of WWE.  He spoke of the promotion being in the midst of great change, commenting on how his match with Orton was a defining moment for the future of the company.  Cena then promised to defeat Orton and end their storied feud and make the statement that any new star—be it the Wyatts, the Shield, Antonio Cesaro or Daniel Bryan (who, ironically enough has already defeated John Cena clean in the ring)—that desired to carry the company would have to “go through him first.”

Bravado and pride were most assuredly on the line as Cena looked to square off against Orton.  As the match commenced Orton seemed to have applied all he’s learned from past matches in his assault on Cena.  As the two jockeyed for position, Orton escaped from the ring a few times early to stall Cena’s momentum.  Cena’s typical smash mouth, brawler offense is fueled off of momentum; very similar to the Juggernaut, Cena often waylays opponents with a series of body blows and maneuvers that strikes opponents like a wrecking ball.  To counter this assault throughout the match, Orton ducked and dodged each of Cena’s big moments.

When Orton went on the offensive he tended to focus on Cena’s midsection, landing strikes and blows to weaken Cena’s ability to breathe while unleashing his big body busting arsenal.  The caveat to Orton’s offense was, and has always been, Cena’s resiliency and will to never give up.  Nevertheless Orton maintained his strategy and even countered every single thing thrown at him.  Meanwhile the champ oozed confidence and taunted Cena and the live audience constantly.

In one especially poignant moment, Orton delivered a hangman rope DDT from the top turnbuckle, to which he quickly stood up and antagonized the crowd by yelling, and I quote,

“Same old what?! Same old … I’ve never done that before!  So I’ve never done that! It’s not the same old sh…!” *evil smirk*

Randy Orton energizing the live crowd with a maneuver he's apparently never done before. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Randy Orton energizing the live crowd with a maneuver he’s apparently never done before. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

As Orton attempted to whittle away at Cena’s stamina, the former WWE Champ’s die hard will grew and grew, eventually giving Cena the momentum needed to begin a few sets of his Five Moves of Doom.  Orton miraculously countered all of Cena’s offense until the closing moments of the match, where Cena delivered two Attitude Adjustments to gain the pinfall over the champion.

Despite Cena's insistence otherwise, it appears that his feud with Orton is far from over. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Despite Cena’s insistence otherwise, it appears that his feud with Orton is far from over. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The past few years have seen John Cena take a slightly less important role than ever before.  His involvement in the Elimination Chamber match is noteworthy in that one shouldn’t expect him to win the match and rush to WrestleMania as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.  What should be of concern to his opponents, and Randy Orton in particular, is John Cena’s will to remain the bar for future superstars to climb, something that Cena (the character) feels will be much more potent if he also happens to be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

The hype that surrounds Cena is more intimidating than his actual presence in the match; his opponents are more likely to be thrown off by his resilience than they are his offense, which will make it extremely difficult for everyone else to actually out last him.  This is and should rightfully so be a concern for Orton, but with heavy hitters such as Sheamus and Antonio Cesaro also present in the match, Cena will more than likely be distracted by an opponent looking to prove himself against “The Champ” first, and walking away as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion second.  While this does take attention away from Orton and the title, it also gives the champ an opportunity to sit back and watch as the lions fight over eliminating the alpha male from the pride.

With two more matches left in the gauntlet, we still have a couple of golden opportunities to get ready for the Elimination Chamber on the “Road to WrestleMania.”  Randy Orton is slated to face Antonio Cesaro this Friday on Smackdown in what will surely be an excellent match.  We look forward to covering the odds and ends of that match and Orton’s eventual match against Sheamus.


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