Despite this being the first one I’ve ever seen, I feel confident in calling this the best of WWE’s version of the show, with some exceptions. Find out what they are under the fold!
Opening Match: Fatal 4 Way, WWE Tag Team Championship: Ryder and Hawkins over the Douches (trademark Rob Blatt), the Finlays, and Jesse and Festus, nigh indistinguishable blonde tosses Jesse off top rope for pin
So, is the Miz Foley’s new Al Snow? Just wondering.
Also worth noting in a sentence by itself; Horny tope! I am a mark for the little bugger, I have to admit. He’s more fluid than Rey Mysterio with his high spots at this point, and when he rolls down his sleeves? I crack right up. So, yeah, I am basically 12 years old, I guess.
The Festus/Hornswoggle face off to begin the match was genius. Just had to get that out there. Jesse got the most heel heat of the match by breaking up Horny’s house cleaning, which was funny. Speaking of Terry Gordy’s kid, he got some nice offense in there before doing the pretty lame job.
This was as good a way to get the belts off of Blatt’s favorite tag team as any while still keeping their heat. They were heading in to Edge and Christian/New Age Outlaws style superteam status, as no regular team could credibly take the belts off them. We’ll see where they go from here; a Douches face turn? Break them up? A feud between them?
They have options. I would like to see a Morrison face turn, just for degree of difficulty. It’s weird that he’d seem more like the next big thing now, a year after he was made main eventer of ECW and pushed to the moon. Of course, that was thrust upon him by awful circumstances, and it took being in a midcard tag team for him to really develop beyond your garden variety jackass heel. Miz, well, at least he isn’t toxic shit poison of a wrestler now, although I think he really needs to be in a team.
Finlay got some really high pitched chants, which was weird. Is he their new teen heartthrob, or do the kids dig him because he’s Hornswoggle’s dad? Also, were they saying that he and Hornswoggle were in a romance in those Summerslam commercials, or was that Kennedy dancing with him? I could not tell. Not that it isn’t weird either way, mind you. This gets a bog standard opener rating of **.
Oh wait! I forgot to mention Ryder and Hawkins! Well, now’s their big chance to step out of Edge’s shadow, but their lack of having done anything but be his lackeys makes this match less about them and more about the guys they took the belts from. They could get some mileage out of a feud with any of these three other teams, in between being involved in the Edge and Vickie drama. We’ll see if they develop in to a solid team, or are the next Deuce and Domino, and merely hold the belts until the next makeshift singles guy pairing needs something to do.
U.S. Championship Match- Shelton Benjamin over Matt Hardy, jumping flatliner that J.R. has apparently dubbed the paydirt
This match started off slow, but built up considerably and became a really entertaining undercard bout. Some well timed near falls, solid psychology (and interesting rest holds; gotta give Shelton credit there), and a hot finishing sequence make this a solid ***. Let’s throw another 1/2* in there to distinguish it from a total pedestrian match. Of course, if I was an anal type, I’d have to retract a star for Matt screwing up the moonsault so bad that he hit Shelton’s knee with his face, but I really don’t want to be that guy; at least until I can finagle a book deal out of someone. So yeah, solid match there.
Wait a minute. Shelton was on PPV? And won a title match? I am totally marking out!!!!
Thank you WWE affirmative action policy! Thank you Michael Hayes, for your drunken headbutts and racial slurs at 300 pd. weightlifters during Wrestlemania weekend for instituting said affirmative action policy (not to mention Lashley and Booker taking a hike)! Thank you Dewey Foley (how old is that kid now? 37?) for putting Shelton over, which probably was the last bit of momentum he needed to get more gold on his waist than his head! Thank you all!
Ahem. I forgot for a moment that ROH was the only place where it was socially acceptable to mark out anymore. So, yeah, back to professional detachment. Very good little match there, professional wrestlers. Good show, doing your jobs.
Wait, Matt didn’t fail a drug test, did he?
C.M. Punk interview time! From Monday, post Batista spinebuster. He’s an underdog, in case the hammer of plot hadn’t brained you with that yet. He goes in to detail telling us that he’s not like all the other WWE Champs he can think of, but he does remind me of Bret Hart in some ways. Mainly that he seems to be a kind of placeholder champ, and will probably be put in spots like this solely due to his ability to have solid matches with anyone, which is the role Bret filled during his singles run.
In one of their most memorable mobile polls ever, WWE pits Edge against Vickie Guerrero in a sympathy contest. I actually think Vickie will get less than previously most hated person in WWE Edge does, just because she’s that grating. The fans hatred for her kind of snuck up on me, really, but it seems to eclipse Edge’s.
ECW Championship Match- Mark Henry (w/Marblemouth Tony Atlas) over Tommy Dreamer (w/Loyal Ward Colin Delaney Who Holy Crap Just Turned Heel!), World’s Strongest Slam
Did anyone else catch Adamle casually burying Tommy during his intro? Tazz said something like “Can Tommy win?” and Adamle replied “I hope not.” Mike Adamle, folks; he is employed by a billion dollar entertainment conglomerate.
At any rate, we’ve got a Colin Delaney heel turn (which I called during the intros; not sure if that’s cutting edge or old hat), and probably quite a few Henry and Delaney vs. Tommy and __ matches on ECW to look forward to. The fact that the World’s Strongest Man needed help from the World’s Scrawniest Man to beat the World’s Most Middle Aged Hardcore Wrestler is kind of weird if you put any thought in to it at all, but all of these guys have to be happy just to be on a WWE PPV, much less in a title match, so good for them, I guess. Especially Tony Atlas; hopefully he’s not still hiding money from himself.
The match was pretty much fast forward material for me, Dreamer’s comeback aside. So, no rating out of fairness, I guess. I know, I’m sacrificing my smark cred and ability to compare notes with Scott Keith by not giving this *, but I don’t think I can rate this in good conscience, since I skipped through it to get to stuff I wanted to see. At any rate, if this feud continues (maybe they took the U.S. Belt off Matt to free him up for a run at Henry?), I hope they do an Extreme Rules match. That would at least be watchable, and I could rate it, giving me a chance at **2/4 of credibility. Although that may be pushing it, since I liked a couple TNA shows in a row and don’t watch ROH.
Chris Jericho (w/Garrison Cade, Shawn Michaels’ only student ever) over Shawn Michaels, ref stoppage because his friggin’ eye was about to fall out of his head
Quick thing; I would have liked the intense stare down more had Shawn not been chewing gum. Or maybe it was tobacco. He sort of looks like a deer hunter these days.
Okay, I thought this was great. Somewhere in that ****-****1/2 range, at least. I’m not sure how the work rate intellegencia are gonna appreciate the shift in psychology from Shawn’s ribs being injured to Jericho trying to take out his eye. To me, though, the drama was off the charts, the match flowed really well (it was the first one of the night to eschew a methodical pace), and it had as good an ending as it could with Shawn lying down. Also, I have to add at least 1/2* to any match where anyone uses Jericho as a projectile against Cade (really, the wrestlers are interchangeable there; I always love that spot). That said, I’m a mark for any match where Shawn gets to sell a horrific beating, and that crimson mask he was sporting was something else. I’m no Muta Scale fetishist, but that was something. Okay, I think I’ve qualified my praise well enough. Awesome match.
Edge Interview– He’s like a cornered animal. Whose marriage to his middle aged cougar boss was ruined by a sex tape on national TV. Well, really a dry humping tape. Totally the same, though! I do like that they spelled out how HHH got the footage. That was gonna bug me otherwise.
Innagural Divas Championship Match- Michelle McCool over Natalya Neidhart, heel hook submission
So, now we know; dating the Undertaker will always trump being related to the Hart Family. This was a solid match, though. ***, I’d be bold/crazy enough to say. Okay, realistically something in the range of **1/2-**3/4, but I liked this a lot. McCool was overmatched physically, but she hung in there long enough to lock on her hold and force Neidhart to tap. I also liked that they fought over just about every hold, including the finish, where Neidhart tried to get out of it before finally succumbing. The dudes could really stand to do more of that.
McCool’s really grown in to a solid worker in her time on Smackdown, so I think she deserves this, ‘Taker influence or not. Neidhart is very good in the Jazz/Beth Phoenix mold. I could see these two having a pretty good series over the next few months. Mostly because Victoria’s the only other woman on the ECW/Smackdown roster who can work at all, but also because they could probably get a lot of mileage out of this Trish vs. Jazz dynamic they have going.
McCool’s celebration was cut short by Jericho pronouncing Shawn’s career dead. Well, his eye detached, at least. Shawn’s blood sprinkled all over his face is a nice touch. He is totally the top heel in the business now. Well, in mainstream wrestling. Maybe skinny indie emo boy #18 or #27 in ROH is better on some weird sliding scale, but I do not see Jimmy Jacobs wearing Shawn Michaels blood, do I? Well, of course I don’t; I don’t watch ROH. I did see that promo where he was covered in a Briscoe’s blood, but I don’t think even those dudes’ blood is equal to HBK’s.
At any rate, I have no idea if the feud of the year is blown off or if they’re just holding Shawn back a bit to make a triumphant return (maybe with his other protege, some Dragon native to the continental United States in tow, perhaps), but this is as good away to end the issue as any. Jericho finally gets his revenge, Shawn goes down fighting, and Cade gets to loiter around ringside and pretend he’s the next big thing.
C.M. Punk and Batista go to Double D.Q., Kane happens, Punk still World Champ
This was both the best big man vs. little man match and the best face vs. face match I’ve seen in a long time. They did a great job making a clean Punk victory a distinct possibility, and Punk had what was probably his best performance in WWE to date when it mattered the most. He played the underdog role to perfection without looking weak. Dave did his part by selling Punk’s kicks and giving him some great near falls.
Didn’t care for the finish at all, of course. Post match, Punk shoved the belt in Dave’s face and ate a Davebomb for his trouble. He was kind of asking for that, so who knows which one (if either) of them is turning heel. Let’s say **** for the match, and hope for more of the same before Kane gets his main event heel run.
JBL over John Cena in a Parking Lot Brawl that ended in the arena, windshield slam
Up until JBL set a car he’d dumped Cena in on fire, this was like watching someone have this match in a Smackdown vs. Raw game where all of the cars had keys in the ignition and they could try to start them, and I was kinda bored. I had to keep myself from going to sleep solely by imagining which jobber’s car they were wrecking. “Oh no, Nunizo’s not getting his security deposit back now!” Even after the flaming car, I did have to hope that Funaki got fire insurance. Also, it was kind of nice to see that they needed the teamsters (or WWE’s non-union equivalent) having to save Cena’s ass from being roasted by JBL, as opposed to John putting out the fire through sheer force of his will or abs or screaming nine year olds or something.
I perked up considerably after that, especially once the forklift came in to play. That gets an automatic * from me. The finish was kind of jarring, but Cena was being a little too cute for his own good in trying to FU JBL off the damn stage. Also, doing the five knuckle shuffle on the ramp. Really, just existing is kind of pushing it with that guy. Also, it was shockingly nice to see JBL get a clean win. This is the first one he’s had over Cena ever, as far as I can remember, and one of the few he’s had since his comeback. Unfortunately, that means we’ll see more matches between these two, and I bet none of those will involve a single forklift or flaming rental car. Bummer. **1/2 for that one; the 1/2 is for not having to listen to Michael Cole for most of the match due to the lack of commentary on the backstage bits. It not only added something to the proceedings but also meant I did not have to listen to Michael Cole.
Main Event- HHH over Edge, Pedigree after cat (cougar?) fight distraction
Okay, I’m gonna have to watch this match again, because I gotta level with you folks; I found this match pretty dull until the run ins from Edge’s bedmates. It threatened to get lively a couple times there, mostly when Edge busted out the Impaler on the floor or went for a spear tope, but HHH always acted quickly to slow things back down.
Maybe it just suffers in comparison to following some excellent matches (and one mediocre one with forklifts and fire!), maybe I was just bored already by the time it came on, maybe it really was a dull match built around a tussle between a middle aged widow of a legend and a Kristal Marshall stand in they just named. I’m not sure why this left me cold. I’ll have to watch this again to make sure. As of now, though, this one gets **1/2 stars and likes it, because I’m all about the snap judgments. Okay, I think I need to bump it up to **3/4, solely because Eddie Guerrero bumped, which I think always deserves some recognition. Even that wasn’t as cool as Batista using her as a projectile on La Familia last month; had I employed all these standards I’m pulling out of my ass, that match would have been like **********.
Bottom Line: One of the best non-‘Mania cards WWE’s put on in recent memory is capped off by a main event I was not feeling at all. Still an easy thumbs up for two of the best matches WWE’s likely to put on all year and some really damn good stuff in the undercard, but I’m very disconcerted by how little I enjoyed one of the few big matches they had left there. Maybe next time.
Addendum: The Divas Title Looks Like A Tramp Stamp
Not that this hasn’t been pointed out a billion times (or at least once where I was looking), but still, I feel negligent for not mentioning that this belt that Michelle McCool got to make history by winning looks like a tramp stamp.
That is hilarious on many levels, and undercuts the WWE’s attempt to sell the Divas as the classiest women on TV even farther than everything else they’ve ever done with them combined, but I think it is also important the logo of the belt is in the shape of the ubiquitous butterfly on the small of every girl of my generation’s back. And purple. Because now, at least there is belt gaudier and more flamboyant than the WWE Championship; you know, the one alpha male HHH is wearing now. You don’t think he came up with this whole idea, did you? I mean, surely his Machiavellian scheming doesn’t go that far, does it? To move to Smackdown and have a whole new title women’s belt made for a division with three solid workers, just to make his belt look less stupid by comparison? I mean, really, he wouldn’t do all that, would he?
The man really is the smartest person in wrestling.