From a emotional standpoint, nothing stands out more than Ric Flair versus Triple H in a Steel Cage. That was worth the purchase of the pay per view because you had the most thought out storyline on the card and two men who could deliver on all levels. It was a given that Flair and Triple H would bleed but they went above and beyond the “call of duty” to color themselves. Both men should be extremely proud of their work as they set the standard that I don’t think the actual main event crossed. Flair and Triple H have that ability to pull the fans into the story and not all wrestlers have that ability to tell a story. The pacing was appropriate and the psychology made it the match of the pay per view. This was my reason to buy the pay per view and for that, I got my money’s worth. I realize this won’t be the final match between the two and I’m glad because this story deserves to be more than one match. This has been said before but if green talent and up and comers in the business want to know what it takes to be “great” – study Ric Flair’s portfolio. Triple H also has learned from the best, since this is the main man he’s studied and sculptured his career after. Triple H obviously has backstage influence but when it comes to in-ring performing and delivering a story in the ring, he does a fantastic job. No one can take away Triple H’s talent. What makes this match great is it seemed realistic, the idea is to make the fans believe they are for real. From Flair’s cursing, the blood everywhere, Triple H’s mocking Flair’s dancing before the figure four and Flair’s dirty playing, you have everything you need to set up a believable feud between these two. Flair isn’t in his prime but he can still go. I still enjoy his matches and am thankful that he isn’t seriously hurt in the ring. I think if anything should sell the replay of Taboo Tuesday, it’s this match. It was also a nice touch that the cameras showed the appropriate shock with one female fan and the show of respect for both Flair and Triple H at the end.
The other main event of the match happened to be the championship between John Cena, Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels. The crowd was pro Cena if you were a female and could scream like a teenager, and pro Angle and pro Michaels if you were everyone else. WWE needs to pay attention, there is only a selection of the audience cheering Cena right now. People can give the argument that for a portion of his career, HBK had a pro female base as the majority of his fans, however, he at least had the respect of the male audience. This is not the case right now with Cena. I think the belt should have changed hands tonight. Cena was hardly working in the ring, for maybe five minutes of a almost seventeen minute match. I understand he sold the table spot but his recovery should have been sooner and there is no secret to the fact that his move list is much shorter than Michaels and Angle’s repertoire. The high emotion of this match was a blessing because of the crowd, who was into it from the beginning. The pacing of the match was appropriate, and some of the move sequences were superb, so whoever helped with the match planning in the back, kudos to you. It also helps when you have veterans in the ring like Angle and Michaels because without them, with no personal disrespect meant to John Cena, Cena would be lost. Vince McMahon needs a champion who can help carry the company, and not leave the company carrying the champion. I really hope that in the future pay per view, the belt will finally change hands because it’s not a matter of wrestling skill that he’s winning, more so from a underdog standpoint. This match should have gone to Angle for the fact that he’s ruthless in the ring and a clear wrestling machine or Michaels for the fact he wrestled hurt last year’s Taboo Tuesday and has a great momentum going with being at his arguable best in his career currently and could carry the company appropriately.
These two matches together, with Joey Styles and Jerry Lawler as our audio commentators, helped me forget about the backstage problems WWE is having as a company. Having Styles on tonight was a great move and the entire Coach/Vader/Golddust/Batista idea was a waste of time. Apparently it’s more important for WWE to please Coach than go along with what Steve Austin wants. I think if anyone has to replace JR, Styles is the appropriate guy to “go to” and I felt he had a comfortable chemistry with Jerry Lawler tonight. Nothing personal against Coach but Styles sounds more knowledgeable on the mic and has no reason to be a character, where as Coach has to be a heel character instead of calling the match from the “fans viewpoint.”
Congratulations to Big Show and Kane for their first WWE Tag Team Championship together. I believe their chemistry is fun and works but I’m not sure if anyone could realistically beat them. I think the fans accept this tag team, it’s just a matter of having a actual tag team division with more than two other tag teams in the mix. It’s critical to the long attention wrestling fan for WWE to hire writers who actually know the history and respect the business to want to develop actual feuds and show the competition aspect of pro wrestling.
Edge refusing to wrestle because he’s wrestled Matt Hardy before, and the fact the fans voted Matt Hardy in for that reason we can all safely assume, was a cheap way to start the show. It’s hard not operating from a cynic’s point of view and be reminded that McMahon can take a fan controlled pay per view and still let a character get away with that because of a real life injury that was never explained on TV. I expected to keep Edge in on a limited basis and have Masters try to carry the team but instead, they sub him with Snitsky who fans barely see on TV as it is. I expected Eric Bischoff to find Edge after the pay per view and blast him for causing RAW to lose by walking out on RAW but that didn’t happen. Hopefully it’ll happen tomorrow, but with the storyline loops nowadays, I wouldn’t bank on it. I understand they need to keep the heel heat on Edge but it would be realistic to assume since Eric was shouting at Edge and Masters to not lose on RAW, the heel on heel heat would work and not turn anyone face.
I’m disappointed that Kamala didn’t win the fan vote for the Legends matchup, where Eugene could show his comic brilliance. Imagine, Eugene with no shirt on, face and body paint on, slapping his belly and doing the belly splash and copying Kamala. The fans missed the boat on this one but I guess people can’t resist Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka who had a hard time balancing on the top rope tonight.
Maybe I set my expectations too high but I expected more from Mick Foley and Carlito tonight in their match up. I did vote for Cactus Jack and was sort of surprised that the Mankind character won the voting but I suppose people miss Socko. The match seemed at a much slower pace than I expected but the Carlito Socko was a nice touch. I really enjoy Foley and Carlito individually but tonight didn’t seem magical by any means.
The Women’s Battle Royal was good for what it was: to set up and tease some more the psycho “fan” that is Mickie James with her saving Trish Stratus so ultimately that Trish retains the belt. Unreal they put Maria in but for some she’s eye candy. The dumb look on her face all the time kills the attraction thing for me pretty quickly. A part of me was hoping for a last minute add with Lilian Garcia but I can’t always get what I want. I am excited about what Mickie brings to the table and since she has a actual wrestling background, hopefully future triple threat matches between her, Trish and Victoria are in the future. Seeing actual wrestling talent in the women’s division reminds me how much I miss Molly Holly, Ivory and Miss Jackie.
Overall, a enjoyable pay per view, I would give it a 7 out of 10. The right mix of talent, with in ring experience, know how to pull a fan in and have them care about the match up and even at the end, even if your guy didn’t win, still be okay with the finish. That makes a successful match and that’s putting it in perspective. Thanks for reading and feel free to drop me a line at Bam@insidepulse.com.