Canton’s Corner: The Wrestling Week in Review for August 6

Canton’s Corner: The Wrestling Week in Review for August 6
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport



Welcome to the third edition of Canton’s Corner. It’s my weekend column that looks at Raw, Smackdown and Impact Wrestling along with a few other features. I’ll be tweaking it a bit this week. For the Raw part I’ll write about the five people that were released by WWE on Friday (or quit in one case), for Smackdown I’ll cover things that happened on the show and for Impact it will be more of a preview for Sunday’s Hardcore Justice PPV.

In the opening slot every week we’ll run the Poll of the Week feature. Before we can move on to this week’s poll let’s take a look at last week’s poll.

The question from 7/30: Did WWE bring back CM Punk too early?
The result: Yes 52.95% – No 47.05%

Like I wrote last week I voted a no. I think they need Punk back for Summerslam and because he’s the best performer in the company. It’s obviously a very close vote with there being only a 6% difference between the 2,100+ voters. I’m not shocked by the near 50/50 split. It’s been an ongoing hot topic for weeks now.

Poll of the Week: Better major title match at Summerslam?
The two main matches at Summerslam are repeats of contests we’ve seen many times already this year. In the case of Christian/Orton, this is the fourth PPV in a row where they will have a singles match. Add this to the singles match they had at Smackdown for the World Title (when Orton won the title) and this will be their fifth major World Title match. This time there’s the No Holds Barred stipulation, which will make it a brawl unlike the others. On the Raw side you have the rematch of the great Money in the Bank match between John Cena and CM Punk. It’s the match of the year for some people. Personally I can’t decide between it and HHH/Taker at Mania. I’ll have that decision when we get to the year end awards. The question is can they top that classic? The poll is here.

What will be the better major title match at Summerslam?

My pick? Christian vs. Orton. I think the added stipulation will make it special. If they get twenty minutes we’ll have another match of the year contender. It will be tough for Punk & Cena to top what they’ve done. No offense to the Los Angeles crowd, but they won’t be as hot as Chicago was. It makes a difference.

It’s time to move on to the weekly shows. I’ll cover Raw, Smackdown and TNA Impact Wrestling.

I covered the show live this week, so check out the Raw Deal if you haven’t done so already. Frankly it wasn’t that exciting of a show, so instead of going on about the same things twice in a week I’m going to talk about the five releases that happened in WWE on Friday. I’ll list the names and give some thoughts on each.

Gail Kim
Technically she wasn’t released. She quit on Monday. The company said fine and they made it official on Friday. Her last match in WWE was Raw’s battle royal where she eliminated herself (watch hereat the 0:36 mark) from the match and then went online saying she was told to get out of the match early. Will she go back to TNA once her 90 day no compete clause is up? Likely. She’s been there before and the main reason she left was because the pay in TNA sucks. They can give other reasons, but that’s the main thing. Guess what? It still sucks. She’s 34 years old and will have a chance to wrestle more while there, so she’ll probably do it. She’s still a very good talent although WWE never really used her right.

The real life girlfriend of John Morrison is apparently shocked by the release. I saw her tweets. I listened to an audio message by her on Am I surprised that she got released? No. She’s barely been used in the past couple of years. They’re obviously big fans of Kelly, Eve & The Bella Twins these days. Melina had a great run when WWE wasn’t doing the PG thing because she brought so much sex appeal thanks to what is arguably the greatest ring entrance ever in my opinion. I always thought she was a solid worker although she never wowed me too much. Injuries the last few years hurt her and at age 32 it’s hard to know what her future is. I doubt she thought she’d be fired, but it makes sense from WWE’s perspective. TNA bound? I have no idea.

Vladimir Kozlov
Double Double E! He’s the oldest one in this group at 39 years of age. He got called up to WWE in 2008, they pushed him as a foreign heel monster straight out of a 1988 feud against Hulk Hogan and once that fizzled out they put him with Santino in a comedy team. There were definitely some great comedy moments like this Tea Time segment in the UK, but obviously he’s not somebody you can build around. The release makes sense. I should point out too that as a big fan of The Wire, my favorite dramatic television show ever, he was in a few episodes as a bodyguard. I marked out when I saw him on that show.

Chris Masters
This one confuses me a little bit because he’s got the body type that Vince McMahon loves. Yes he’s lost some weight from when he first started (hello Wellness Policy), but he did improve in the ring from what I’ve seen from him on Superstars. I guess that’s the issue, though. It was on Superstars. They didn’t believe in him enough to consistently put him on Raw or Smackdown after his initial debut years ago in his early 20s. Now 28 years old he still has a future in the business and I’m sure the possibility exists that he could return to WWE for a third time (on-screen debut in 2005, released in 2007 and re-hired in 2009). I think it’s likely that he’d show up in TNA once his 90 days are up because he seems passionate about the business and a big body like his will draw a lot of interest.

DH Smith
This one personally upsets me because I think it’s silly to give up on a 25 year old with size, knowledge and so much potential. He signed his WWE developmental deal when he was 20 (originally offered a deal at 18), he had a successful tag team run with lifelong friend Tyson Kidd & cousin Natalya as part of the Hart Dynasty and ever since they broke up they barely used him. I realize that personality wise he doesn’t come off as somebody over the top. They could have worked on that, though. Give him a shot. The rumor is that a MMA career could be in his future, so maybe he’s okay with this news and will go after that. If he sticks with wrestling, though, he’ll likely be back in WWE in a few years because that’s his family bloodline thanks to his late father Davey Boy Smith and his uncle Bret Hart. I guess what I’m saying is I doubt this is the last we’ll see of Harry Smith in WWE.

Will there be more soon? I have a hunch that there will be. I think guys like Primo, JTG, Tyler Reks and others might have to worry a bit. They have talent, but the reality is that if you’re not being used very much there’s a strong possibility that you could be future endeavored at any moment. That’s the business whether we like it or not.

The other thing is that a lot of people assume that a wrestler is immediately going to TNA once they are not in WWE anymore. That’s not always the case. Look at some releases (or people that asked to leave) in the past few years that never went there: Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, Carlito, MVP, Maria, Tiffany and Serena just to name a few. Obviously it does happen for some, but people in the business know that TNA has their issues. Plus, if you don’t sign with TNA there’s a better chance of you getting back into WWE a lot easier in a year or two when perhaps they might have an idea of how to use you better.

TJR Video Run-In
I didn’t expect this, but sometimes a column needs a run-in too. This is a special video tribute made by a Facebook friend Cory Frizzell. Never talked to this guy before. Didn’t know him at all. This week John Laurinaitis (aka the Super Dave/Marty Funkhouser voice clone) was on Raw and he told John Cena “you’re outta line!” After the show my Facebook wall was flooded with that line. Maybe I was tired, but it annoyed the hell out of me. I barely even remember Laurinaitis saying it. After watching it again I understand the humor of it because Cena was almost laughing at it too. It’s all in good fun. I enjoyed the video and hope you do too.

Will there be more? I don’t know. That’s up to Cory. If you want to make a video send the link to me either at [email protected], Twitter @johnreport or Facebook at It doesn’t have to be about me. I just want to post funny stuff, so make it funny and it could be in the column.

I really enjoyed the show this week. For a full recap of the show check out my buddy Christian “Yankee” Michael’s review at TJR right here. I would have given the show a 7 or 8 out of 10, so we’re going on a like-fest (I made that up) this week. I’m all about the positivity.

LIKE – Starting the show with a match!
Yes! They started Raw with a match two weeks ago with Miz vs. Mysterio and now they started Smackdown with a match this week…even if it was with The Great Khali. It was Sheamus vs. The Great Khali with Sheamus going over clean. It was a watchable match considering Khali was in it. Sheamus is really thriving in the babyface role now. His gimmick hasn’t changed much. He’s just beating up heels now instead of babyfaces.

LIKE – Natalya turns heel.
Love it. I don’t hide my feelings that my favorite two divas in WWE by far are Natalya and Beth Phoenix. What happened to both of them this week? Heel turns. Now you’ve got the two women, who I feel are the best in the entire company, in position to be heel bullies. That’s what Kharma was likely going to be before she got pregnant. It’s smart of them to put Beth & Natalya – who like to refer to themselves as the Sisters of Destruction – in the role because physically they are bigger than the other girls. I wrote about Beth turning for months. I think in Natalya’s case I would have kept her babyface and had her chase Beth, but this can certainly work too because obviously Kelly is the one they want to build up as the women’s face of WWE. The smart move is Beth winning the title at Summerslam. Then they’re on the right track. I’m optimistic. Don’t let me down, WWE!

LIKE – Daniel Bryan vs. Tyson Kidd
This is what I want to see on a weekly basis. Give Daniel Bryan a chance to go out there, wrestle and put on a good show week after week. In Tyson Kidd he was matched up against a very underrated worker who has a lot to prove as a singles wrestler. The story they told worked with Kidd applying hold after hold on the knee of Bryan, including an awesome half crab. It was a bit disappointing that when Kidd put on the Ringpost Figure Four (a Bret Hart move that I love) the announcers didn’t even talk about the pain of the hold because they were busy taking about Bryan vs. Barrett. I realize the match was about Bryan, but they could have put over Kidd’s technique more. Bryan’s comeback was really good. That missile dropkick he does is awesome. Winning the match with a guillotine submission was perfect. Why can’t the announcers know the name of a move instead of calling it a wrong name or saying whatever? The announcing has got to be better. That’s just sloppy.

LIKE – Christian pins Orton! Christian pins Orton!
This was a typical tag team main event that got about 15 minutes or so. I’d rate it at *** due to the strong heel work and an exciting finish with a lot of action. The finish saw Christian & Truth defeat Orton & Morrison with Christian pinning Orton relatively clean (the ref was distracted a bit) with the Killswitch. He celebrated in a major way because it’s a legitimate win over Orton. The headline I used for it was Michael Cole’s call, which was actually good for once. Morrison loses again, but I’d expect him to go over Truth at Summerslam if they go ahead with that match. I’m ready for Christian vs. Orton on PPV for the fourth time. With the No Holds Barred stip in place it might be their best match.

More quick thoughts:
– The Ryder/Jackson/Long thing fell flat. I understand that they’re trying to build up Ryder as a goofball babyface, but feeding him to Ezekiel Jackson wasn’t the right idea.

– The booking of Mark Henry continues to be great. Sheamus standing up to him is fantastic. Perfect guy for him to turn babyface against. I’m actually looking forward to a Mark Henry match. Am I nuts? No. It’s called good storytelling.

– I realize that less people watch Smackdown because it’s on Fridays, but if you don’t watch it I’m here to tell you that you’re missing out. The roster is good. The matches are almost always entertaining. I go out most Fridays too. You know when I watch it? On Saturday mornings. Use your DVR or VCR if you still have it. Watch it on YouTube. There’s no excuse. Give the blue team a chance.

Instead of doing the Like/Dislike feature for TNA Impact Wrestling this week, I thought I’d do a rundown of their PPV on Sunday called Hardcore Justice. The truth is I thought Impact was awful this week with way too many different storylines going on and it hurt the show. Looking forward to the PPV, there are nine matches on the show, so it will allow me to cover a lot of things that are going on in TNA these days.

X DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP: Austin Aries vs. (c) Brian Kendrick vs. Alex Shelley
Aries has arguably been the best performer in TNA since he’s been there for the past month because he’s been given the chance to shine. He’s entertaining on the microphone, he’s a really good worker and he’s earning legitimate heel heat by being a total jerk. I think Aries will get the title soon although not here. Maybe next month. Kendrick will keep it because he’s only had it for a month. Then again this is TNA and using logical booking tactics doesn’t apply. My pick = Brian Kendrick

BOUND FOR GLORY SERIES MATCH: “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero vs. Devon
It’s a weird feud where D’Angelo is being friendly with Devon’s wife and kids while Devon isn’t sure if he’s genuine about it. I’d guess that Dinero wins here thanks to Devon’s kids turning on him because that’s how Russo books these things. My pick = D’Angelo Dinero.

KNOCKOUTS TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: Rosita & Sarita vs. Tara & Ms. Tessmacher
Mmmm Tessmacher! My favorite woman in wrestling in terms of pure looks. That doesn’t mean she’s my overall favorite, but it means in terms of her body she is what I’m attracted to most. She’ll keep the titles with Tara since they just won them. This match was a late addition to the show. My pick = Tara & Tessmacher.

Crimson’s undefeated. He’s also the most likely winner of the Bound For Glory series although my personal pick for that would be Bobby Roode. His winning streak will likely continue here. RVD’s there to give him a good match, which it should be. My pick = Crimson.

KNOCKOUTS TITLE MATCH: Winter w/Angelina Love vs. (c) Mickie James
Mickie James, who was on TJR Radio this past Wednesday, talked about this being a physical match against Winter. It should be a good 8-10 minute match. I think Mickie will hold onto the title until next month or Bound For Glory when she drops it to Velvet Sky, who they are building up. My pick = Mickie James.

TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: Mexican America vs. (c) Beer Money
I smell a title change. It’s time for Beer Money to be on their own, especially Robert Roode. They’ve done a great job for several years. Get the titles off them and see what they can do on their own. I smell a title change. My pick = Mexican America.

Bully Ray vs. Mr. Anderson
I think Bully Ray is doing awesome while poor Anderson has been one of the worst booked characters in a company that is known for booking people badly. Two one month title reigns, plus multiple heel-face turns in the past year have really killed whatever momentum he had. It seems like Ray is getting a push, so he’ll likely go over. Keep it short because heel vs. heel matches don’t work. My pick = Bully Ray.

SIX MAN TAG TEAM MATCH: Fortune vs. Immortal
It’s Styles, Daniels & Kazarian vs. Abyss, Gunner & Scott Steiner. The deal here is that Daniels has been costing Styles matches (they had former World Champ Styles lose to Devon of all people) because he wants to tell him something that we don’t know about yet. That story will likely continue. A win for Immortal, who is one of the worst main event heel stables I’ve ever seen. My pick = Immortal.

Angle said on Impact that Sting is the best he’s ever been. No he isn’t. He’s in his 50s. He was at his best from about 1989 to 1996 when he was in his physical prime. I realize they’re trying to sell the match, but it was ridiculous to say that. Almost as bad as Hogan saying Angle was in diapers when Hulk was the man in 1984 – when Kurt was a teenager. Anyway, Sting’s had the title for about a month, he barely wrestles and is having fun with his crazy man gimmick. Angle wants a clean match. My guess is Kurt wins a competitive 15 minute match because he’s the best performer in the company and it’s smart to put the title on him going into their biggest PPV of the year Bound For Glory in two months. My pick = Kurt Angle.

Last year’s Hardcore Justice featured gimmick matches with ECW guys. This year it’s the regular roster. They aren’t even doing gimmick matches as far as I know. Why call it Hardcore Justice instead of the old Hard Justice name? Don’t ask me. The less questions you ask about TNA the better off you are. I’m not going to write about this one live although I may watch some of it. I don’t even know at this point.

Random Clip of the Week
Let’s go back twenty years to late 1991 with a heel Jake Roberts doing the best run of his career. He had started a feud with Randy Savage that led to this infamous “snake bite” incident. My favorite wrestler was Randy Savage, I was 11 years old and I was a very sad kid after watching this. It was real to me, damnit! Haha. Enjoy.

Classic. The best part? Everybody played their parts well. That’s what made it look and feel real. Got a recommendation for the random wrestling clip of the week? Contact info is at the end of the column. Shoot me a link and I’ll give it a look, which could lead to a shoutout for you.

Melo Out with Steve Melo

Was anyone else besides me shocked that Rey Mysterio didn’t have a rematch clause on the most recent edition of RAW? I was being sarcastic. They really need to get rid of that stupid rule in my opinion. I have to admit that I’m ecstatic that the GM seems to have been future endeavored along with a handful of superstars this past week. Honestly, I hear that annoying ringtone enough as it is on a weekly basis on my cousin’s iphone that hearing it on RAW for the past year has been torture. If you are going to drag the hell out of a storyline for over an entire year, at least have the COO (which by the way means ass in Portuguese) address the matter. Granted though, Triple H had a lot on his plate as of late and addressed all of it in the opening segment of the show. The Triple H & CM Punk confrontation was very well done. It filled in most of the storyline gaps that I had been questioning as of late so that was a relief.

We also witnessed a Beth Phoenix heel turn, which I think everyone will agree was long overdue. She obviously plays that role much better. Speaking of Diva heel turns, it would appear that someone at WWE listens to John Canton because Natalya has also turned to the dark side. John always says that Beth & Natalya are the best female wrestlers they have right now (which is true), so I am eager to see how this will all pan out.

Another thing I noticed on RAW other than Michael Cole continuing to ruin the commentating and Gail Kim eliminating herself from the battle royal match was Zack Ryder. Not because he got TV time or lost to the team of Otungillcutty, but he may need to come up with a new catchphrase soon or lay off on the hair products because he has a bald spot forming faster than a couple of fat women at all a you can eat buffet. Woo woo woo…I see it bro. I also see him in a Smackdown storyline going nowhere. Again, the brand extension is such a joke, much like the tag team & divas division. But you already knew that. And speaking of tag teams, I think they could have still had Otunga & McGillicutty stay as Nexus instead of stealing Gabriel’s theme song. If Nexus is no longer a stable, then what’s wrong with downsizing them to a simple tag team? Once the team breaks up (because they all do in time) then have that be the end of Nexus. That would have worked better for me personally. I mean does anyone else think it is a little weird not acknowledging the fact that CM Punk basically abandoned them or does it concur with Triple H saying that Punk only came back for himself?

Regardless, I suppose the main thing to take away from all this is baby steps. They have a lot of work ahead of them. There are still many flaws with their flagship program. Michael Cole, for one, has to go. He has literally become unbearable to listen to. The tag titles need to mean something again, but that will never happen until they start taking tag teams serious again. The divas look to be on a steady course change. That’s a positive. I could go on of course, but instead I’ll leave you my own catch phrase.

Sit back, relax & Melo Out, because that’s what wrestling’s about.


Thanks Steve.

I have a lot of writing scheduled this week at On Sunday and Monday I’ll post the two part Top 25 Summerslam Matches of All-Time column. Then on Tuesday I’ll post the Raw Deal. It won’t be live this week. Then on Friday the TJR writing staff will join together to preview Summerslam as a team. Following that it’s Canton’s Corner next Saturday like always and I’ll be writing about Summerslam live on Sunday! Busy busy busy. That’s how I roll.

Have a great weekend.

John Canton – [email protected]
Twitter @johnreport

Visit my 10+ year column archive at the Wrestling Oratory right HERE.

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