The Way Too Long Review of History of the World Heavyweight Championship: Disc Three

Time to finish off the set.  Pre-Release, everyone thought this was the disc that would kill the set.  Guess what?  They were wrong.

Match #16: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Triple H vs. Rob Van Dam
9/22/02 Unforgiven

Not really much of a back story here.  Triple H had just been awarded the reactivated World Championship (though depending on what mood the WWE is in it might be a new title altogether) when they decided to *really* keep the brands separate hahahahahahahaha excuse me.  There really wasn’t anyone on the Raw roster besides Rob Van Dam who was over enough as a babyface to challenge Trips, and thus he gets the spot for the belt’s debut on pay-per-view.  I remember not liking this match very much.

Lockup and RVD gets a headlock takeover.  Trips goes for a headscissors, so RVD releases and nips up.  Lockup leads to a couple takeovers by Robby, followed by a clean break and a celebratory spin kick.  RVD raises his hands in victory and gets some mild hate-hooing.  Lockup and Trips simply shoves RVD down.  Lockup and Trips hammerlocks Van Dam, followed by RVD hitting another headlock-takeover and we have a standstill.  RVD is all smiles and having a good time.  Trips decides to forego technical wrestling in favor of punches.  Shoot-off and Trips shoulderblocks him.  He bounces off the ropes but charges into an armdrag then a headlock-takeover.  Trips breaks and bails out of the ring.  So RVD calls for a fan to toss him a bottle of water and does Triple H’s water-spitting shtick.  Well that just pisses off 3H so he charges at Van Dam, falling right into a headlock-takeover.  To the corner where Trips elbows himself free and fires off various knees and punches.  Shoot to the corner where RVD flips over him with a small package for two.  Jackknife cover by Trips gets two, bridged out by Van Dam, who flips over Trips and sweeps his leg for two.  And back to the headlock takeover.

Trips to his feet, only to get spin-kicked out of the ring.  Rob Van Dam throws caution to the wind and goes for a flipping plancha, but it totally whiffs and he crashes on the floor.  Referee Earl Hebner counts a little too fast and doesn’t give the legitimately goofified Van Dam enough chance to catch his breath and roll back into the ring, resulting in him having to just plain stop his count at nine before he’s even close to getting back in the ring.  Oops.  Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler talk about how nice Hebner was.  So Trips drags him into the ring, and then rolls out himself to whack Van Dam’s neck on the apron.  Whip to the stairs by Trips while Lawler still bitches at Hebner.  Back in the ring, Trips mounts some punches.  Catapult into the middle rope by Trips gets two.  Vertical suplex is flipped out of by Van Dam who gets a rollup for two.  Neckbreaker by Trips gets two.  To the outside where Trips tries to slam Van Dam into the table but it gets reversed.  Back into the ring, Trips lands the flying knee for two.

Trips actually climbs, which is a rarity for him and could lead to a potential high spot, so naturally miserable fuckwit Jerry Lawler asks for an instant replay of the flying knee, a move Triple H does in every fucking match he’s had since he murdered his identical twin brother in the womb.  We return from Squint-o-Vision just in time to see RVD toss Flair… ahem… Triple H off the top rope and to the canvas.  Shoot-off leads to Trips hooking in a sleeper.  Van Dam uses momentum to drive Trips into the turnbuckle.  He misses a splash in the corner but hits a spin-kick and we have a double KO.  Both guys are up fairly quick for a slug-out.  Van Dam flips over something and gets a mule kick, a dropkick, and a cartwheel splash for two.  Shoot to the corner leads to a monkey flip.  Shoulderblocks by Van Dam, then he ducks a clothesline and hits a springboard kick off the ropes.  Rolling thunder gets two.  Trips bails but eats a plancha anyway.  Van Dam mounts some punches and tosses him back into the ring.  Van Dam climbs and hits a flying kick for two.  Van Dam lowers his head into a facebuster, but then Robby ducks a shoulderblock and the referee gets killed.

Spin-kick by Van Dam gets nothing as there’s no referee.  KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! is turned into a catapult by Van Dam, to prep Trips for the Five-Star Frog Splash.  It gets nada as there’s still no referee.  Low blow by Trips and he bails to grab his trusty sledgehammer.  Spin-kick by Van Dam to cut off being murdered by the sledgehammer.  BUT WAIT~!! because here’s Ric Flair, fresh off jobbing to Trips on Raw in a pretty famous match.  He teases a shot on Trips with the hammer, but hits Van Dam instead.  Trips is like “okay, whatever” and hits the Pedigree on Van Dam for the pin.

**** I expect a can of worms for this one, but what can I say?  I really enjoyed this.  They cut a consistently brisk pace and kept things really simple.

Match #17: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels
10/19/04 Taboo Tuesday

If you want to contrast the Shawn Michaels of 2002-Present from the Shawn Michaels before he was ‘saved’ then look no further then this match.  In 1997, he took news of a minor knee problem and used it as an excuse to possibly get out of job duty for Bret Hart.  I say possibly because nobody really knows what the original plan was.  Someone told me that he was going to job to Bret at In Your House: Revenge of the Taker and that at Wrestlemania 13 he was only going to serve as the guest referee for Bret/Austin.  Then again, Shawn himself admitted that there were talks of him facing Bret at WM and jobbing.  Stories of him having a ‘gimmicked leg’ were confirmed to be bullshit by Bruce Pritchard, and if anyone would know it would be him.

Anyway, Shawn got out of WM duty over a minor knee problem.  Then at Wrestlemania 14 he almost refused to job to Steve Austin until the Undertaker got in his face over it.  Shawn denies this part, but something did go down and he only managed to have that great match after he threw down something like 50mg worth of narcotic painkillers.

Now, in 2004, he legitimately has a busted knee and yet all he did was tape it up and throw down some anti-inflammatory.  I still was scared shitless to watch this match, not because of Shawn’s injury but because he had shot his wad with Triple H by this point and the two had some really, really horrible matches on pay-per-view.  I gave both the last man standing match at the 2004 Royal Rumble and the Hell in the Cell at Bad Blood 2004 a “DUD.”  I also gave their Three Stages of Hell match from 2002 **1/4.  Which is not to say I think these guys were incapable of having a good match with each other.  I gave their Summerslam match ***** and their Raw match from early 2004 ****1/4.  So the potential for greatness is there, but they were too concerned with slow-motion brawling and overselling punches between the 2002 Survivor Series and this match.  Were my fears correct?

Shawn backs into the corner to start, and then both guys slug it out.  Shawn wins out and Trips backs away.  Lawler asks why Shawn didn’t follow that up.  Jim Ross has a conniption on commentary.  “BECAUSE DAMNIT HE’S HURT!  CAN YOU THINK OF ANYTHING BUT PUPPIES AND PAINTINGS OR SCHOOL GIRLS?  THE DAMN MAN IS HURT FOR GOD’S SAKE!”  Shawn brawls Trips to the floor.  Back in, Shawn punches some more.  Trips charges in the corner but Shawn gets the bad foot up, which was a mistake.  Trips catches it then fires off an elbow and Shawn crumbles.  Trips suddenly believes it’s a real injury and starts to stomp on it.  Shawn tries to fight back but Trips knees at it.  More stomping and Shawn method-acts the injury.  Mounted punches, then to the corner where Shawn again tries to fight back, but he can’t protect the leg and Trips kicks at it to send him back down.  Elbow drop to the knee and Shawn looks like he’s in bad shape.  Another one, then a knee drop to the leg.  Trips grabs the leg and simply starts to bend it over his knee, then fires off another knee.  Another elbow drop, then another, and then the figure-four.  Jim Ross pleads with the referee to ring the bell.  This goes on forever.  Shawn is too full of pride and begs the referee not to ring the bell.  As opposed to fighting for the ropes.  He finally makes an effort to get to the ropes, does so, and then Triple H refuses to let it go.  Trips does let go and yells at the referee for not ringing the bell.  Straight punches by Trips, then he tries to wring Shawn’s leg on the post but gets pulled into it.  Shawn can barely stand as Trips gets back in the ring.  Shawn throws a chop but Trips kicks at the bad leg.  Shawn blocks a figure-four and kicks Trips into the turnbuckle and we have a double-knockout.  Atomic drop by Shawn, and then another.  Shawn is fucking himself up doing the move, but he fires it off for a third time and clotheslines Trips.  Shawn pulls himself up on the ropes and chops away, then slugs it out some more.  Straight punch by Shawn, then a clothesline and both guys go down.  Shawn covers for two.  Trips once again kicks at the knee and loads up the Pedigree, then shoves the referee out of the way.  Shawn takes this time to get a low blow and a DDT.  Shawn slowly climbs and hits an elbow off the top.  The power of Christ compels him to hulk up.  He tunes up the band, BUT WAIT~! because Batista runs down and Shawn has to fight him off the apron.  Trips charges at Shawn and eats Sweet Chin Music.  BUT WAIT~! because Edge appears from out of nowhere and spears Shawn down.  Trips covers and gets the pin.
*** Eat your heart out, Zach Gowen.  Shawn Michaels proves why he’s the best wrestler ever by going out and putting on a decent match on one leg.  It wasn’t great or anything, but it was watchable.

Match #18: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker
2/19/06 No Way Out

So I have this long history of remembering matches as being good, then not actually digging them once it’s time to sit down and review them.  I totally remember this being a five star affair.  We shall see.  Taker charges but misses a running boot.  Angle goes behind with a waistlock but Taker grabs the ropes.  Following the break Taker quickly swings for a clothesline but Angle bails out of the ring.  Back in, they lockup and Taker grabs a headlock.  Shoot-off and Taker gets a shoulderblock for two.  Taker wrings Angle’s arm, leverages it around, and slams it into the turnbuckle.  He keeps working it by twisting it around, and then hoists Angle up in the air by it.  Huge ‘oooohs’ from the crowd.  He takes Angle down and grounds it with an armbar, getting a near fall.  Taker muscles it up and down and goes for the ropewalk, but Angle stops him before anything can come of it.  Angle slugs away with his good arm, then tries to shoot off but Taker reverses it and twists him down by the bad arm.  Awesome psychology early on.

Taker fires off the ropewalk, which hits.  Angle gets his bearings about him and charges, but Taker catches him with a flatliner for two.  Snake eyes by Taker but he puts the breaks on a running boot to avoid crotching himself on the ropes.  Angle is waiting for him and snatches him in a release German suplex, then crawls over for two.  Stomps in the corner by Angle, then he tries to choke with the foot but Taker mostly blocks it.  Taker reverses a whip to the corner and hits a running kneelift.  Taker really wants that running big boot and goes for it again, but Angle sidesteps and Taker gets crotched.  Angle pushes him off the apron and into the guardrail.  On the outside, Angle slams Taker on the stairs.  Angle dives off the apron for a sledge but Taker catches him and slams him into the post.  He preps Angle’s neck on the apron and elbows it, then goes for the leg drop on the apron, which hits.  He slowly returns to the ring and covers for two.  Taker goes for the chokeslam, but Angle fights out with kicks to the knee.  Taker punches free, but those three shots were enough to get him limping.  He struggles to shoot off Angle and gets clipped in the knee.  No worries about this not holding up.  It fucking rocks.

Angle goes to work on the knee, grinding his foot on it, stomping at it, then ringing it on post.  He slaps on a corner figure-four to Taker, but is forced to break or get DQ’d.  He continues to work the knee and covers with an elbow to the face for two.  Back to the knee, with more stompery.  Then he grinds Taker down to the corner and boxes his ears.  Nice.  Angle drops his weight across Taker’s knee, then does it again.  Taker tries to counter by getting his foot up, but it gets caught on Angle leg.  Thankfully Kurt is smart enough to put the breaks on, because someone lacking his common sense would have gone through with the move and broken Taker’s ankle there.  Angle is also professional enough to cover up this blown spot by stomping away.  He fires off an uppercut, but Taker simply dumps him between the ropes.  To the floor again where Take uses the good knee to strike Angle’s gut.  He kicks Angle in the back of the head and preps him for the leg drop on the apron again, but perhaps that well has run dry.  This time, Angle catches his foot and slaps on the ankle lock.  Both guys fall to the outside where Angle holds the move.  He breaks the referee’s count at seven, then goes back and slaps the lock on again.  Fans are kind of cold to this, but it’s a face/face match and not exactly a spot-fest.  I’m not making excuses.  They’re in Baltimore which is often one of the most boring crowds to watch.  Years of conditioning from the state’s athletic commission to not find entertainment in anything, no doubt.

Angle really puts torque on the move, making me wonder if the boot was gimmicked.  Taker gets back in the ring but can’t walk.  He’s really selling the injury here.  Back in, Angle applies a standard leglock, then stands up for a heel-hold.  He gives up on that and drops an elbow on it, then back to the leglock.  Taker tries to grab a sleeper from this, fails, so he chops his free leg across Angle’s neck.  Those shots all looked solid, and the last one right across Angle’s nose I’m sure felt solid as well.  Angle mounts some punches and gets caught in the Hell’s Gate, which wasn’t named as such yet and isn’t even remotely over.  Then again, nothing is over in this building.  If the WWE wheeled out the bloated 600lb corpse of Yokozuna just to get a rise out of the crowd, it wouldn’t work.  They would be like “meh, call us when you have the McGuire Twins.”

Angle rolls around and gets a foot on the rope.  Taker uses up the full five-count, then Angle rolls out of the ring.  Taker follows him and brawls Kurt around, tossing him into the rail, then into timekeeper Tony Chimel.  Taker kicks him straight in the face, then preps the announce table for impact.  Taker breaks the count and shoots the referee a nasty look for daring to count Angle out.  He goes back out to club Angle with a clothesline, but Kurt moves out of the way and Angle Slams the Dead Man through the un-prepped table.  Well that was unexpected.  Angle rolls back in.  The referee counts to nine, but Angle stops him and threatens to go all Chris Benoit on his ass.  The referee is like “What do you mean by that?”  Angle is like “Just trust me, that’s a bad thing.  Call it a hunch.”  So Nick Patrick is full of fear and stops counting, and Angle bails to brawl some more.  He slugs Taker around but gets reversed on a whip and sent into the stairs.    Take tosses him back into the ring, then breaks the count.  Taker climbs to the top, but he can’t climb due to the bum knee.  Considering he rarely climbs to the top, it seems doing it when your leg is House-like might be a bad idea.  Angle crotches him and loads up a superplex, but Taker shoves off.  Taker’s eyes are all glazed over, but he still manages to get to his feet on the top rope, only for Angle to spring up and fire off a belly-to-belly throw from high above.  It gets two.  Slug-out follows, which Angle briefly wins out on only to get booted in the face for two.  Undertaker loads up a chokeslam, but Angle does this crazy, twisty reversal and ends up with the ankle lock.  Angle gets too close and ends up snatched in the Hell’s Gate, which kills the fans because they consider it a nothing-move at this point.  Angle reverses again and keeps the ankle lock on.  Taker rolls through it and fires off a chokeslam for two.  Huge heat for that, or at least huge compared to what they had been getting.  Boot to the gut and a wedgie-bomb attempt is countered by Angle back into the ankle lock and now Taker is certainly doomed.  The announcers keep pimping how neither man has ever submitted.  Angle’s got him in the center of the ring, but Taker kicks him out of it.  He stands up only to get snatched in the Angle Slam for two.  Angle gets pissy and pulls his straps down, but Taker does a zombie sit-up.  Slug-off and Taker shoots Angle off and loads up the Tombstone.  It gets reversed by Angle and he has Taker set for a Tombstone.  Taker reverses that one, but Angle grabs the ankle and AGAIN has him in the ankle lock.  Taker teases a submission, but he’s got long legs and Angle’s head is exposed, so Taker kicks him on the top of the head, actually drawing some blood.  Taker is free, only he gets snatched in ANOTHER Angle Slam.  This time, it’s officially the WORST MOVE EVER~!! because Taker snatches him in the Hell’s Gate as soon Angle goes to hook the leg for the pin.  Angle’s arm drops twice, but on the third drop he gets enough energy to jackknife the move and get the pin.  Tazz is like “Taker had him in the triangle choke.”  The fans are stupid and act like the result is in question, despite the fact that Angle CLEARLY jackknifed the cover and the referee’s hand clearly slapped the three.  As it turns out, a lot of people are miffed by the finish, including reviewers.  I don’t get it myself.

****3/4 Okay, so my memory was a quarter point off.  Of course, that quarter point was the difference between perfection and not perfection, but still a great match.  The only thing that held it back was pacing, which was likely the fault of the fans.  It’s usually up to the audience to dictate the speed at which the wrestlers go, but here those in attendance offered practically no feedback to what was happening in the ring.  Thus the pace stayed slow, or ‘deliberate’ if I want to be polite.  I also wasn’t thrilled with the dreaded WORST MOVE EVER~!! syndrome rearing its ugly head, especially leading straight into the finish.  Otherwise the psychology was spot on and Taker’s selling was as consistent and well done as he’s ever managed to do.  In the 2006 RSPW awards, this came a single point shy of winning Match of the Year, losing to Dragon Kid, Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito vs. CIMA, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino from a Ring of Honor show.  2006 was not a great year for wrestling, but at least here these two guys, both of whom were very broken down with injuries at this point, went out and wrestled a technical masterpiece.  If this had been Madison Square Garden, it would have five-starred it.  No question.

Match #19: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton
4/7/06 Smackdown

This is the episode following Wrestlemania 22, where Rey took the world title.  And actually, it’s pretty thrilling to see how happy Mysterio is to hold the belt.  It’s not an act.  Rey got fucked over by the booking during his reign, but by gawd he sure seemed to relish every moment of it.  Meanwhile, Orton lacks any gum and thus fails to spit it at Rey and call him a beaner.  The fans are so happy for Mysterio that they chant “Eddie!” at him, just to make it perfectly clear that Mysterio literally won the belt over Eddie’s cold dead body.  That or they think Eddie’s ghost possessed Rey in hilarious fashion, like that movie Heart & Souls with Robert Downey Jr.

Anyway, to the match, where Mysterio will walk like a man, talk like a man… sorry.  Fans keep chanting Eddie, perhaps hoping that Eddie’s spirit will jump into Orton’s body and lay down for Mysterio.  Who knows.  Lockup goes nowhere, leading to both guys pushing each other.  Nobody cares.  Lockup and Rey grabs a headlock.  They work it a bit, and then Rey takes him down with it.  Orton turns it into a headscissors, drawing huge heat.  Maybe.  2006 featured a lot of canned heat for Smackdown or so I read from live attendees commenting on the aired TV product.  Anyway, Orton shoots his evil grimace while he grinds on the headscissors.  Both guys break and Orton quickly snatches Mysterio in a headlock.  Shoot-off by Rey leads to him getting clotheslined for one.  Shoot-off and Mysterio gets a shot in, but then lowers his head into a couple clubs.  To the corner where Orton fires off a couple punches and kicks.  Shoot to the corner, which Mysterio springs off of only to get hit with an uppercut for two.  Headlock by Orton.  Mysterio elbows out and fires off a chop.  He goes for the seated-bulldog off a bodyscissors, but Orton casually slams him face-first into the canvas for two.  Shoot-off and Mysterio hits a delayed headscissors.  Drop toe-hold by Mysterio and he goes for the 619, but Orton ducks it and bails.

Mysterio kicks him through the rope and then hits a seated-senton to the floor, with huge hang time on it.  It’s a double KO on the outside, but Mysterio recovers first and tosses Orton in for two.  Ten-punch in the corner, but Rey decides to not stop at ten and alternates between his left and right fist.  Fans love this and shower Eddie with love as a result.  Ugh.  Shoot-off is reversed by Orton into the wrap-around backbreaker for two.  Now to a chinlock, which Orton actually works quite furiously.  Give them an A for effort, because they’re sure not going through the motions.  Mysterio tries to fight out so Orton slings him down by the mask for two.  Now back to the chinlock, and again it’s certainly not your usual 2006 Randy Orton lazy-lock.  Mysterio tries to fight back, so Orton clubs him in the chest.  He charges at Rey but gets kicked in the face.  Mysterio jumps over the ropes to set up the West Coast Pop, but Orton fires off a picture perfect dropkick as Rey springs up and sends Rey to the floor in a huge bump.  Huge reaction from the crowd from that, as Mysterio sure looks like toast.  And of course, any fan in attendance that followed the drama surrounding Wrestlemania 22 knows that Mysterio was NOT in the cards to win the title originally, Rumble winner or not, they likely expect him to job here.  This sets up a commercial.   Match is a total lost classic at this point.

When we get back, Orton has Mysterio completely tied up in a chinlock with bodyscissors.  We get a rope break from Rey.  Orton sends him to the corner, where Mysterio catches himself and catches Orton with his legs for a possible bodyscissors.  Orton has that scouted, as he proved earlier, and slams Rey with authority onto the canvas.  These guys are just throwing caution to the wind here.  It gets two.  Orton slaps on another chinlock.  That’s the fourth one this match, and the only thing holding it back from perfection.  Maybe.  Mysterio shoots off Orton and goes for a dropkick, but Randy holds the ropes and Rey wipes out.  Orton climbs for the second rope and he’s totally arrogant here, doing muscle poses.  He comes off the ropes but Rey gets his feet up and Orton is knocked goofy, leading to him falling into position for a 619.  But Rey is too pooped and Orton gets up before he can even attempt it.  Mysterio kicks away at Orton’s legs and finally hits the seated-bulldog for two.  Seated-senton by Rey, and then a dropkick to the back of the head for two.  Orton thumbs the eye in classic heel fashion and shoots Rey off, but Mysterio hits a diving moonsault.  Orton seems to catch it, but Rey turns it into a reversed DDT for two.

Rey charges, avoids letting Orton get some kind of reversal off of it, and takes Orton down.  He climbs and goes for a crossbody, but Orton gets him with a dropkick coming down for two.  Rey doesn’t kick out and only escapes due to his foot being under the bottom rope.  Randy coils down for the RKO.  Rey smells it coming (I hear Orton smells like a combination of camel cigarettes and ocean water, which is pretty hard to miss) and fires off a kick to the back of the head.  Double KO follows.  Orton is up first and goes for a powerbomb, but Rey wiggles out, only to get KILLED with a clothesline for two.  It gets two.  Orton shoots him to the corner but misses a charge and posts himself.  Rey hits a wussy looking 619 using the ring post, follows it up with a proper 619, and then wins the match by dropping the dime on Orton.

***** I watched it twice and I can’t even fault the four chinlocks.  This was seriously epic, especially for a television match, and easily the best match of Randy Orton’s career.  The storyline here was flawless.  Previous champion Kurt Angle calls his loss to Mysterio a fluke.  Orton agrees and gets to challenge Mysterio to prove it.  He has a counter for EVERYTHING Mysterio has to offer, but can’t overcome the sheer pluck and determination of the undersized champion.  The pace they cut was incredible.  Not too fast, but certainly not slow. Plus they had multiple instances of leading on like the tide was about to turn only for Mysterio’s latest kick at the can to bust in spectacular fashion.  Yes, Orton didn’t really have any variety to his rest holds, but what the fuck, at least he worked them.  Plus they never went on too long, unlike this review.  When it’s all said and done, this certainly won’t be remembered as a technical masterpiece.  Rather it was pure, manipulative fun that was wrestled stiff and properly executed.  Absolutely flawless from start to finish, with the wussy ring post 619 being a very minor nit-picky exception.  Sadly, this match also set the tone for the remainder of Mysterio’s reign.  The WWE decided that if the fans would rally for Mysterio when all his moves were countered, they would rally even more if he never hit any moves to begin with.  Thus he never really had a decent match on pay-per-view as champion and even dropped some clean pinfalls to scrubs like JBL or the Great Khali.  But that was then.  What was here on this disc was truly epic and the highlight of the set.

Match #20: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Batista vs. Edge vs. The Undertaker
12/16/07 Armageddon

Edge had to give up the Championship due to injury earlier in the year.  Man, what a bad string of luck the World Heavyweight Championship had in a short period of time.  Undertaker got injured and had to give it up.  Mr. Kennedy, the first choice to win it, got injured and had to give up his spot.  Edge won it, then got injured and had to give it up.  It ended up in the hands of the Great Khali of all people, in what was the low point for the belt.  I have no clue what they were thinking, though I heard people in India were ecstatic.  Batista took it a couple months later, and it finally seemed to find some stability about it.  Yeah, right.  As many people have pointed out, more wrestlers have held the World Championship in the seven years it’s existed then people held the WWE Championship in its first thirty years.

To the match, where Edge bails to start.  Batista and Undertaker don’t care and lock up, where Batista shoves Taker outside and into Edge, who runs for his life.  Taker and Batista both want a piece of him and end up fighting themselves for the right to kill him.  Taker wins out and heads into the ring, where Edge slugs it out, then bails when it looks like Taker is going for a chokeslam.  Batista in to slug it out and slams Taker into the turnbuckle.  Taker lowers his head into a kick, but no sells it.  Clothesline sends Taker to the floor, where he grabs Edge for the chokeslam, but Batista displays STUPID WRESTLER SYNDROME and makes the save.  I mean, presumably if Taker hits the chokeslam on the floor, Edge is done for with the match.  This is what I hate about triple threat matches: they make wrestlers look STUPID!  I mean more so then normal.

Batista seems to have wiped himself out on the baseball slide, so Taker drags him out and slams him into the stairs, then sets up for the leg drop on the apron.  He picks up Batista and loads him up for a battering ram, but Batista wiggles out and shoves Taker into the post.  Edge decides to go for the pin on this and gets two off of it.  He shoulder blocks Taker off the apron, and then gets caught in a side-slam from Batista for two.  Clothesline in the corner by Batista and some shoulder blocks, and then he misses a charge in the opposite corner and gets drop toe-holded into the turnbuckle.  Edge calls for the spear, but Batista boots him in the face and powerslams him for two.  Undertaker saves and drags Batista out of the ring, sending him into the stairs.  He puts Batista in the ring, then drags Edge to the apron and boots him in the head.  He goes for the leg drop on the apron to him, but Batista clotheslines him to the floor.  Shoot off and Batista lowers his head into a kick, but gets a spinebuster.  Batista loads up for the powerbomb, but Edge turns it into the impact DDT for two as Taker drags the referee out of the ring.  Taker slugs it out and splashes him in the corner.  Snake eyes and a running boot for two.  He winds up Edge for the ropewalk and hits it, then loads up the wedgie-bomb.  Batista spears him while he’s loaded up for it, and that looked pretty dangerous.  Batista goes for the pin on Taker, but gets caught in the Hell’s Gate, pre-overness.  Edge channels his inner Eddie Guerrero and rings the bell.  Taker gets pissed at the referee, then turns around and gets speared… for two.  Fans seem to have bought that as the finish.  Edge spears Batista and that gets two.  He’s freaking out now, so he grabs a pair of chairs.  He preps Batista for the con-chair-to, but Taker saves and dumps him.  Clothesline by Batista to Taker (that’s gratitude for you) and he climbs.  Taker crotches him and loads up a superplex off the top.  It hits for two.  Ropewalk to Batista is turned into a spinebuster, and then he spears a fake Edge down.  He loads up for the Powerbomb, but Taker drives him to the corner.  BUT WAIT~!! because there’s a third Edge outside of the ring.  Taker chokeslams Batista and calls for the Tombstone, but a fake Edge gets caught coming off the ropes and gets chokeslammed.  Taker hits a snake eyes on Batista but gets clotheslined while running the ropes for the boot.  That gets two for Batista.  Batista goes for a powerslam, but Taker turns it into the Tombstone.  BUT WAIT~!! because the real Edge comes in with a chair and whacks Taker with it, then covers Batista for the pin and the title.  The fake Edges were Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, of course.

****1/2 They overcame the problems that usually plague triple threat matches by having only one instance of S.W.S.  Edge’s cowardly, opportunistic character really does lend itself more to this style of contest.  There was no wasted time here, which is so important for three-ways.  Even though Edge’s involvement was kept to a minimum, Undertaker and Batista have enough chemistry to be able to have a good match on their own.  Weaving Edge in and out of the mix kept what should have been a stale match-up seem fresh.  I totally dug this match, and it was a perfect way to cap off this show.

Match #21: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Chris Jericho vs. John Cena
11/23/08 Survivor Series

Barely a year later and I can’t really recall any details about this match.  Ugh.  Getting older sucks.  It takes over six minutes into selecting this match from the menu for the bell to actually ring.  Ugh.  Cena circles around Jericho and snatches him up for the FU, so Jericho bails to the ropes.  Circle and a lockup leads to Jericho getting a headlock-takeover.  This goes on for a bit, and then Cena is up and shoots off Jericho, leading to him getting shoulderblocked.  Cena bails under the ropes and clutches his injured neck, making it clear what the storyline for this match will be.  Or should be.  I guess it’s to be determined.  Cena slowly gets back in the ring, then runs and takes Jericho down with mounted punches.  Slam into the corner, then a whip across the ring.  He shrugs off a kick and fires off a suplex for two.  STFU attempt out of nowhere but again Jericho escapes and we have a standoff.  Jericho moves in and throws a few punches, then slams Cena into the turnbuckle.  Kicks to the back of the head and a punch, but Jericho gets reversed on a whip and clotheslined.  Scoopslam and an elbow drop get two.  Shoot to the corner leads to Cena missing a charge.  Jericho kicks the injured neck.  Jericho lowers his head on a charge and gets kicked and hit with the blockbuster, a move I don’t like because it requires the person taking it to stay bent over for no goddamn reason for as long as five seconds.

Cena climbs, then rethinks it and climbs down.  This was a bad strategy and Jericho goes for the neck, and then fires off a double-arm DDT for two.  Michael Cole actually clears this up by noting that Cena injured his neck coming off the top rope against Batista at Summerslam.  See, nobody is completely worthless.  Except Colt McCoy.  He sucks.  He faked his injury.  Everyone with half a brain should have figured that out.  Anyway, Jericho takes Cena to the corner, then rolls under the rope and kicks Cena high in the neck.  John is out cold, leaving Jericho to mug for hate in the ring.  The ref takes his sweet time getting back in the ring, then starts to count.  Cena barely beats the count back in, leading to Jericho stomping the neck.  Cena fights back and tries to shoot Jericho off, but gets reversed and dumped through the ropes.  Jericho follows him out and dropkicks him on the floor, and then tries to expose the rail.  Sadly the Wellness Policy also checks for sniffing glue and thus it wasn’t all used up by time the crew went to glue the padding onto the barricade.  Jericho is at least smart enough to give up on it quickly and instead tosses Cena into the stairs, which are metal and pointy and would likely hurt more then the exposed rail would anyway.  And with less then half the effort too!

Jericho breaks the count, and we decide to cue up instant replays of these moves that are seen in every fucking match ever.  Thus we have to watch in Squint-o-Vision while Jericho hits a springing splash on Cena for two.  We leave Squint-o-Vision, which will make my video game collection $50 bigger and leave the Make a Wish Foundation $50 poorer in 2010 every time it features a live wrestling move.  Can’t wait.  Jericho slaps on a neck-vise.  Cena muscles out but gets reversed on a whip and whiffs a flying tackle for two.  Cena lays on the middle rope, which allows Jericho to stand on him.  Full-nelson by Jericho and John starts to fade.  Cena escapes, but he’s still woozy and misses a punch, leading to Jericho slapping on the full-nelson again.  Cena muscles out in a horrible, kayfabe busting way, as both guys continue to sell the move as if it’s still applied, even when it sure looks (from the camera angle used at least) like neither guy was making any contact.  This match kind of sucks.

Shoulderblock by Cena, then another.  Protoplex is wiggled out of by Jericho and he hits a bulldog.  Lionsault is aborted mid-air by Jericho, but he still gets caught in the protoplex.  Five knuckle shuffle but he takes too long to set it up and Jericho snatches him in the Walls of Jericho, only it’s not the Walls, it’s the fucking Liontamer!  Nice.  Of course, Jericho was LONG AGO banned from fully applying the move like that and I’m sure he caught hell in the back for it.  Story behind the banning is when he debuted in 1999, the first three guys he applied the move to (Ken Shamrock, Jesse James, and X-Pac) complained that their necks hurt.  In fact, Shamrock and James went out with injuries shortly there after.  Cena escapes only to get clotheslined.  Chris stalks him around and takes him down with the Walls of Jericho.  Cena sells this like he’s bored.  They call it a ‘determined look’ but I say its sub-Marine quality acting by him.  He then slowly shakes his head as if to say “No” and I’m thinking the whole acting thing has gotten into his head.  The head shake was so melodramatic I fully expected Michael Cole to burst out until the tears soaked his goatee.

He makes the ropes, and then proves that the Walls of Jericho is the WORST MOVE EVER~!! because he immediately fires off the FU and slowly crawls over for two and a double KO.  Cena charges but Jericho gets an elbow up.  Both guys collapse down and Christ is this match obnoxious.  Jericho slowly climbs, and then Cena slowly fights him off.  Cena hits the standing leg drop off the top rope, a move I imagine should in theory hurt a lot, maybe even break your neck.  So naturally Jericho only sells it long enough for Jericho to stand up, at which point he fires off the Code breaker.  Since the standing leg drop isn’t Cena’s finisher, it’s not covered under worst move syndrome, but damnit it should be.  Anyway, it gets two.  Jericho is pissed and tells Cena to get up, then levels him with a clothesline.  Cena gets up so slowly that authorities had declared him legally dead, only to get clotheslined again.  He gets up even slower this time, and then catches Jericho charging with the STFU.  Jericho almost makes the ropes, so Cena tries to drag him to the center of the ring.  Jericho kicks off, only to get dead lifted into the FU, giving Cena the pin and the title.

**1/4 Pretty dull actually.  They had major league pacing issues, especially at the end.  The over-dramatic selling rarely works and only serves to cause the crowd (and long-winded reviewers) to lose patience.  Besides, it’s not like he was hit with a chair or something.  It was a clothesline.  Not even a big one like JBL throws.  Both guys also had timing issues when it came to executing moves, which likely could be chalked up to ring rust on Cena’s part, with this being his first match in a few months.   Overall, just not a very well built match and a huge letdown.

And to finish off the set, another copy and paste.  Yes, you do get the FULL main event, plus all after-match activities, from Extreme Rules 2009.  Let’s hit it.

Match #22: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Edge vs. Jeff Hardy
6/7/09 Extreme Rules

Ladders are set up everywhere: around the ring, on the stage, and they even removed the stick from Jim Ross’ ass to put a ladder in there.  This is how you do it.  That way they don’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of time pulling out and prepping ladders.  Lockup to start.  Edge takes him to the corner, then Jeff takes Edge to the corner, and the fans don’t make any noise because all they care about is watching the two guys kill themselves.  Scoopslam by Hardy and a leg drop, but Edge fights back and sends Jeff to the corner for a shoulderblock, but Jeff fights back with a pancake suplex.  Jeff bails to grab a ladder but Edge baseball slides it into him.  Edge tries to grab a ladder but Jeff stops him with a running forearm and we go back into the ring, sans ladder.  Jeff blocks a shoot-off and ends up backdropping Edge over the top and into a ladder.  Jeff preps a ladder but Edge stops him.  Edge and Jeff try to do something but end up botching it.  They botch it in a good way, with Jeff falling onto a ladder, which is all anyone really wants to see in this kind of match.

Whip the corner by Edge, then he preps a ladder in the corner to step up for a spear, but Jeff leapfrogs it and Edge eats metal.  Momentum kick by Jeff into the ladder and into Edge.  They take a bit too long to sell this, then Jeff sets up for a dropkick into the ladder but Edge moves and Jeff eats it.  The ladder then falls over onto Jeff.  Edge preps Hardy’s leg inside a ladder and smashes his leg in it.  Edge hooks in a sharpshooter with the ladder, and then grows bored of it before Jeff gets crippled.  He dumps Jeff and starts to climb for the belt, but Hardy comes off the ropes with a dropkick to knock the ladder over.  Jeff preps a ladder upside down, and then pancake suplexes Edge inside of it.  HUGE GROANS from the crowd as that was just all kinds of nasty, with Edge’s torso smashing full force into the support braces.  Jeff grabs a fifteen-footer, and then gives Edge the Twist of Fate.  Jeff preps the ladder away from the title belt, which I always bitch about, but this time he makes it work.  Jeff climbs to hit a leg drop off the top of the ladder, but Edge moves out of the way.  So Jeff rides the big ladder down and catches the belt harness to try and free the belt and win the match.  Edge grabs Jeff and yanks him down, with Jeff hitting his jaw on the ladder on the way down.  He also seems to have destroyed his knee as well.  Edge preps the big ladder in the corner, but Edge gets reversed and eats it.  Then Jeff fires off the whisper in the wind off the ladder.  Hardy grabs another ladder, preps it a little off center from the belt, then opts to hit a cactus clothesline sending both guys to the floor.  Edge is up with a running boot to the face, and Edge should be able to win now.  Instead, he grabs another ladder and preps it between the apron and the guardrail.  He tries to suplex Hardy onto it, but Jeff blocks and rams him into the guardrail.  Jeff folds up one ladder, then folds up another and throws it at Edge.  Why is he clearing the ringside area next to the announce tables of the ladders?  Why, so Edge can have an excuse to whip him into the stairs.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a good bump, but it was so telegraphed they might as well have advertised it before the show.

Jeff fights back and hits a running diamond cutter type move, with Jeff landing over the guardrail and Edge hitting it.  That was different.  Jeff places Edge on the bridged ladder and sets up for a leg drop on him, but Edge gets down and climbs the ladder Jeff is on.  It tumbles over and both guys fall through the bridged ladder.  Back in the ring, Jeff punches Edge into the referee, and I’m thinking, “ref bump… in a ladder match?” but apparently it was just done to show how dangerous the matches are.  Both guys climb separate ladders, and Edge tries for a spear off of his.  Jeff catches it and turns it into a Twist of Fate off the ladders.  Awesome spot and Jim Ross points out the continuity of how Edge is famous for spears off of ladders in these types of matches.  Good stuff by Jim Ross.  Jeff climbs, but Edge catches him and tosses him off.  Jeff then yanks Edge’s feet through the ladder, trapping him.  Jeff is free to grab the Championship belt and does so.

**** Typical ladder match, which delivered the usual spots with a few twists to make it different, and a pretty cool ending too.

BUT WAIT~!!

Jeff can’t celebrate because CM Punk is out to cash in his Money in the Bank contract.  Hell, it’s not like Jeff is all that damaged, as he got in a majority of the major offense in this match.  The minute Punk enters the ring, Jeff suddenly falls over in pain.  Maybe Jeff is from Krypton and Punk is really Metallo.  Hey wait a second… you can’t claim to be straight edge and use performance enhancing drugs like Kryptonite.  What a poser.

Match #23: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk
6/7/09 Extreme Rules

Punk instantly snatches Hardy up in the GTS and hits it… for two.  BULLSHIT!  Listen up WWE booking fucktards; if you want to prove how tough Jeff is, don’t have him kick out of a finisher after going through a fifteen minute long ladder match.  That doesn’t make him look tough, it makes Punk look weak.  Have him wrestle the second guy for a bit.  Five minutes or so, maybe even hold his own, make it look like Punk made a mistake cashing in now, then let Punk hit his big move and win the match.  Ugh, it’s so simple a guy who had his brain transplanted with a bag of fruity delicious fruity fruity fruity skittles could have done better.  Anyway, Jeff fires off a small package for two.  Jeff is still flopping around like a dead fish, so Punk nails him with a big kick and hits another GTS for the pin and the title.  Fans aren’t quite sure how to react, as they’re both happy that Punk won despite his over-the-top heelish celebration, and they’re still happy Jeff beat Edge for the belt, but they’re not quite pissed that Jeff lost to Punk.  It’s like a love triangle.  Kind of.  Not really.
No Rating, Title Change Angle

BOTTOM LINE: Well, this was a monster of a DVD to review.  The variety is actually swell once you get past the early carbon copies of the same three Ric Flair matches that are each paced in different ways.  Throw out the four matches that are not rated and you’re left with nineteen complete contests.  Of those, a whopping nine of them score four or more stars, with one hitting the perfecto five star rank.  An additional four matches meet the three star passing grade criteria.  Six matches are lousy and clearly not DVD worthy.  But hey, thirteen quality matches for $20 is nothing to sneeze at, plus a very well done short-subject feature.  The third disc, which gave many people worries, was actually the life ring of the set.  No question about it, History of the World Heavyweight Championship gets a big thumbs up.  It goes to show, no matter how bad WWE Raw is, at least the Home Video department continues to put out quality sets.

*Charlie checks the early 2010 lineup.*

Ah crap, spoke too soon.

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