Retro Express – Bad Blood 2003

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Once upon a time, WWE used to be pretty big on building up interesting storylines for their wrestlers. From the opening act to the main-eventers, everyone involved in the show had a reason for being there. On Bad Blood, as amazing as it is, everyone on this show had a reason for being there. Everyone from Theodore Long at ringside for the opening match to Mick Foley as the special referee in the main-event. As simple as this show was put together, did the storyline work pay off with RAW’s first brand-exclusive US pay-per-view of 2003?

 

WWE Bad Blood 2003

Date: June 15th 2003

Brand: RAW

City: Houston, Texas

Attendance: 10,000

 

The Dudley Boyz vs Christopher Nowinski and Rodney Mack w/Teddy Long

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As mentioned earlier, this was a heavy storyline time for WWE. Every little program on Monday Night RAW in 2003 did its best to tell a storyline, including this simple tag team match with the Dudleyz facing Rodney Mack and Christopher Nowinski. Teaming up the Harvard graduate Nowinski with the new up-and-comer Rodney Mack, combined with the black supremacy advocate Teddy Long as their manager, was a bizarre combination to say the least. However, at least they got something. Not that I’d want to do an angle like this or anything, as I wouldn’t, but at least it gave the audience a reason to take notice once they got on television.

They did a backstage segment on Heat where Teddy Long pestered D-Von Dudley, questioning why his brother Bubba always told D-Von the get the tables. At least there was more to this match than just throwing two tag teams together. Giving D-Von an angle going into this match at least gets fans interested in him. Rodney Mack was also undefeated going into this event.

Mack and D-Von began angry lock-up before the match even began. We got early “we want tables” chant. Mack had a seriously hard time selling for the Dudleyz. The Dudleyz started off well and Bubba was a great babyface but then the distraction came from Teddy. Teddy was on the apron distracting Bubba and Bubba began waiting for Mack to jump him. He waits and waits and waits until Mack came in to throw a horrible clothesline.

We got a “Harvard sucks” chant directed at Nowinski. Mack hit a pretty decent spinebuster. Bubba got the hot tag, which included the big man hitting a top rope crossbody onto Nowinski! Keep in mind, this was not the slimmest guy in the world! A big man flying like that is very much a joy to see!

Nowinski, who was wearing a metal face protector worth $30,000 according to Jim Ross, tried to use it to no avail. Mack went for the “Black Out” submission but it was countered. The Dudleyz hit the “Wassup” while Teddy was yelling on the apron. Bubba told D-Von to the table but Teddy got in his way, tying into the segment from earlier. Mack attacked D-Von from behind while Nowinski hit Bubba with the metal mask and pinned him.

This was a slightly-below average tag team match with Mack being rather sloppy while the Dudleyz tried their best to get a good match out of him. Nowinski seemed to just be there. In terms of promoting new talent, the right team won. In terms of who the better workers were however, the wrong team won.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler talked about the Redneck Triathlon scheduled between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff. The Redneck Triathlon would consist of three rounds, with the first round being a burping contest and the second round being a “pie-eating” contest. Jerry was excited for the pie-eating contest. Now, I remembered the beginning and the end of this Redneck Triathlon. The pie-eating contest was what I couldn’t remember and it did strike me as odd regarding Jerry’s comment about the pie-eating contest. In hindsight, I should have known what that pie-ating contest was ACTUALLY about. More on that later.

We began with the burping contest, with JR claiming to have once won a burping contest in the eight grade. Both gladiators were stood with Terri Runnels doing the introductions while Stone Cold drank beer. Terri went over the rules as Stone Cold did starfish jumps, which is the perfect way to prepare for a burping contest. There would be three rounds of burps, with the loudest combined burps winning the contest. Bischoff went first and delivered a weak burp. This was probably the only legitimate burp in the whole thing. Then it was Austin’s turn. Some may have been upset that the majority of the burps were all sound effects pipped in by the production group and it that it was not a legitimate burping contest. However, this burp was delivered so well that you just couldn’t not laugh at it. Jim Ross’ and Jerry Lawler’s laugh after Austin “unleashed” this burp was great! This was exceptional delivery by production and by Stone Cold’s expressions.

Austin demanded another beer as Eric did his second burp. It was a decent attempt by Eric but Terri was disgusted.  Austin had a pretty weak second burp, which the Texas crowd loved. Eric was also disgusted by this and then delivered his third burp, which was slightly above average. Austin got the last laugh as he unloaded with a long final burp, with the later part of it sounding like a toilet was being flushed!

Austin won and then delivered a post-contest promo, congratulating Eric on being a good competitor and himself for winning such a competition. His UFC-like promo was actually pretty funny! Eric told Austin to see a doctor and that was that. Austin was 1-0 up in the Redneck Triathlon.

Moments like this really made me love the Austin and Bischoff co-general manager deal, with Eric almost coming off as likeable as he was involved in these funny angles with Austin. The crowd loved this burping contest as did I.

 

Test vs Scott Steiner for the managerial services of Stacy Keibler

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A lot of you reading this might not believe your eyes but Scott Steiner is probably one of my favourite wrestlers of all time. This guy was just one-of-a-kind in terms of his in-ring style, his promos and just the character as a whole. I ALWAYS paid attention whenever this guy was around.

In WWE around this time though, he hadn’t had the greatest of starts since his return at Survivor Series 2002. His program with Triple H, including a truly devastatingly bad World title match at Royal Rumble 2003, had seen Steiner’s stock drop significantly. Now he’d been put with Test and Stacy Keibler, as the two vied for the affection of the lovely Stacy.

This match was by FAR not one of the greatest technically gifted matches I’ve ever seen. I can’t even consider this a good match as far as the in-ring side of things is concerned. As far as the entertainment however, this match was in a league of its own and mostly because of Steiner.

One of the other highlights of this match was Stacy Keibler, who looked amazing on this particular show. Stacy tried to get in the ring but her “ex” Test yanked her off the apron to berate her. As amazing as it sounds, the spot that followed was one of the highlights of the entire pay-per-view and it was the mother of all botches! Scott got onto the apron as he had to save this love interest, who was in peril at the hands of the bad guy. This was Mario saving Princess Peach from Bowser. Mario would jump in and save the day. Scott Steiner ALSO decided to jump in and save the day! He leaped off the apron but didn’t have his balance right, so he slipped and plummeted down. He landed on the floor but at least he had the instinct to put his hands up for the double axe handle that had obviously been the original spot. He drops down, hits Test in the knee and Test slips as if he slipped turning around in the shower. This was one of the all-time great botches in the history of wrestling and it was actually a lot more entertaining than if he had just successfully pulled off this double axe handle!

So Scott Steiner beat up Test and when they got into the ring to start the match, Test begged off Steiner. Now, there have been many babyfaces that have fallen for this obvious trap set by the heels to lure him into trouble. These spots make the heroes seem like such fools. Scott Steiner was not like that as instead of backing off, Steiner said “Nah. Fuck You!” and beat up Test some more! Not that I’d encourage wrestlers to swear as they’re on the rampage but I laughed so hard at this. I’m just amazed that my DVD didn’t censor this moment as Steiner unloaded with swearing throughout this match. Steiner wasn’t having any of Test’s shenanigans.

Steiner did some press-ups and began yelling at the referee. Test used Stacy as a human shield to gain the advantage. Test then threw Steiner into the steps. I know a lot of people had mixed opinions about Test as a performer, who sadly passed away in 2007. All I’ll say is that he was effective in making people hate him! That’s a key part to be a good villain, having an unlikeabillity factor that even “great” in-ring work can’t get around. The douche level of Test’s character was high as he mocked Steiner and yelled “wait until tonight” at Stacy as he blew her a kiss. The fans chanted “you suck” as Test got the heat. Test did a sleeper hold as the fans rallied behind Steiner with “lets go Steiner” chants. Jim Ross had a very nice line about Stacy when he said that her heart was as beautiful as her face. He was… damn on point.

Steiner damn near killed Test when Test came off the top rope and Steiner caught him by the waist, and dropped him over his shoulder which I think was meant to be a belly-to-belly suplex. I like Steiner but Test must have been fearing for his well-being when Steiner caught him by the waist! Jim Ross called this a Northern Light suplex turned into a slam. Steiner ran wild. Test bounced off the rope and it appear that he was going up to take a back drop but he leaped up, and Steiner caught him in a powerbomb position. Steiner simply threw him over his shoulder and continued to run wild. This was NOT the best night for Steiner in terms of his in-ring wrestling.

Steiner kicked out of a Full Nelson Slam. Test missed a big boot but Scott hit a sloppy reverse DDT. This got a near fall and Steiner’s reaction was to simply yell “HUH?” at the top of his lungs! That was very funny. Steiner hit a pumphandle slam for a near fall. Test undid the turnbuckle when Stacy popped up on the apron. Test grabbed Stacy and said some very non-PG and not nice things about Stacy, calling her names. Stacy slapped him and Steiner almost bumped into Stacy. Test hit a big boot out of nowhere which I honestly thought was the finish! Steiner kicked out. Test grabbed the chair and pushed Stacy away with it. Test went to hit Steiner with the chair and instead hit the ropes, bouncing the chair back to hit his own head. Steiner hit the flatliner and won the managerial services of Stacy. Stacy was happy and leaped onto Steiner in celebration. Stacy got off Steiner and then began selling her backside, implying that Test’s chair push was a lot more mighty than we realised.

This was an entertaining match to watch but not by any means a good one! We had some very noticeable botches from Steiner but the heat was there for this match. Test was a good heel. The match picked up with the finish and the bully Test was in the end overcome as the two babyfaces stood up against him. Even Stacy was being brave as Test eventually let his cockiness get the best out of him and paid for it. This was fine, simple story-telling.

Match Rating: **

 

Bischoff and Stone Cold talked backstage. Stone Cold described burping as being an “art form” in Texas, which was a great line. Eric vowed to win the pie-eating contest. Eric said he did some research and invited Austin to meet some ladies, that were set to take part in the pie-eating. By taking part, I don’t mean actually eating real bakery. Apparently, THEY were the pie. In case you were wondering, this show was NOT PG in the slightest.

Eric wanted first dibs on eating the “pie” and Austin allowed this, as long as he decided what pie Eric was going to eat first. I can’t have been the only one that could see where this was going, and I’d never seen this pie-eating contest before.

 

Christian (c) vs Booker T for the Intercontinental Championship

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Picture this in your head. RAW had just recently reinstated the Intercontinental Championship that they inexplicably retired at No Mercy 2002. Christian won the title in a battle royal. Christian made his first defense of the title in a promising match between himself and Booker T, who happened to be from Houston, Texas where the Bad Blood pay-per-view was being held. You had all the potential in the world to make these two actual top stars on the red brand. The fans were going nuts for Booker T in one of the most heated moments in the entire show. This could have been something really special. Not like in the level of Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat from WrestleMania III but a memorable match that’ll be remembered through the ages. Well, spoiler alert, but that didn’t happen.

On a show which included MANY non-wrestling segments featuring Stone Cold and Bischoff, Booker and Christian got SEVEN MINUTES of wrestling which resulted in an incredibly rushed match between these two great workers. Lawler did have a great back-handed compliment when he claimed that “there’s a lot of suckas in Houston.” Jerry Lawler in 2003 had some of the best crack in all of WWE in 2003! With that said, Lawler was pretty bad for the large majority for this match on commentary which we’ll get to. Jim Ross claimed that Christian leaving as the champion would be a miracle, which I think probably did Christian more harm than good.

The match started off very well, as these two worked well together. Christian sold one particular back drop from Booker very well as he was thrown HIGH into the air. Lawler was hardly paying attention to any of this as he constantly made jokes about Booker’s previously convictions. Booker T was once a criminal and Lawler mentioned this ALL THE TIME while on commentary during this time. It’s not like if Jim Ross mentioned it and praised Booker for overcoming it. No, Lawler made joke after joke during this match. Did NOT make Booker come off well either.

Christian tried winning by putting his feet on the ropes. JR completely ignored Christian hitting Booker with the Book End, in Booker’s hometown. Booker hit an axe kick on the ropes. Booker hit a top rope dropkick and followed it up with a spinaroonie. Booker went for the Scissors Kick but Christian ran away and took the title with him. I was initially pretty upset at this as this would have been a match that ended in a count out in the challenger’s hometown. Then the referee Jack Doan got a microphone and told Christian that if he didn’t get back in the ring, he’d forfeit the title. This announcement got a big reaction but when I think about it, how did Jack Doan have the right to make this call that Christian would lose the title if he walked out? He’s not like an on-screen authority figure or anything.

So WWE teased the count out finish but the referee put a stop to that. The fans got excited at the thought of seeing a clear winner in this match. Instead, Christian runs into the ring and runs right back out. Booker chases him around the ring and they get back into the “squared circle” of WWE. Christian then grabbed the belt and hit Booker in the face, causing a disqualification.

The fans were irate with this finish, chanting “bullshit” and these chants were pretty much justified. They teased a count-out finish only for it to end in seven minutes via disqualification. THIS was a let down.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

We had an advertisement for Jim Ross’ cook book, which I’ve got to get a hold of one of these days! Kevin Nash was taping up his wrists as he was set to challenge Triple H for the World title in a Hell In A Cell match.

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Jerry Lawler was in the ring for the pie-eating contest. He brought out Eric and commended him for his selection of “pie” for this event. Austin came out to a BIG POP in Texas. Austin reminded Eric that he would select Eric’s pie as agreed to earlier. Austin talked about Eric being into “mature women” which further solidified that I knew what was coming. Austin questioned Eric’s ability to please a woman with Eric insisting that he would be fine. Austin called Bischoff “Eric Jerk-Off” which the crowd popped for. Austin complimented Eric’s choice of women but Austin said that Eric would not be having any of their “pie” as he brought his choice for Eric. It was revealed to be Mae Young, who was accompanied by  Fabulous Moolah. Eric had a disgusted face which almost looked like he was about to sneeze. Austin just smiled with an awesome grin on his face.

Jerry protested this decision as he claimed it was supposed to be a pie-eating contest and not “cheesecake” that would be eaten. Disgusting, Jerry. Mae stuck her tongue out and Eric insisted that Mae put her tongue back in her mouth and called her a nasty old hag. Pretty mean words from Easy E. Eric refused to eat the pie but Austin called him a chicken. Mae tried to grope Eric but he told her to get her hand off his ass. Austin called Eric a piss-ant and demanded that Lawler declare him the winner. Eric cut him off and decided to go through with it. As shocking as it was, the fans started chanting “eat the pie” to which Eric responded by kissing her. Eric thought this was enough but Austin told him that this was a pie-eating contest. Mae low-blowed Eric and she was instructed to make Eric eat the pie. Mae gave Eric the stinkface while wearing a thong. Jim Ross called this as if he’d just watched Mankind being thrown off the Hell in a Cell. Austin was laughing, with Eric being furious and demanding that Austin goes next. Austin gave Mae Young the stunner, with Mae selling this possibly even worse than when Vince McMahon sold the first stunner that Austin gave him in 1997. Austin forfeited this contest and demanded beer. It was 1-1 in the redneck triathlon.

The times certainly have changed in the “tastes” of wrestling fans! This was a NUTTY angle but I guess nothing else could be expected considering that this was an angle involving Mae Young who, god bless her soul, was willing to do ANYTHING to entertain the fans. She probably loved doing this kind of stuff and the fans seemed to love it to a degree, especially when they chanted “eat the pie” at her. Mae was an entertainer to say the least!

As for the rest of it, it’s funny how Eric won the contest but Austin still seemed like the real winner of that contest in the end. Eric won but Austin still found a way to outsmart Eric Bischoff. The fans loved it and I guess that’s all that matters.

 

We got a vignette for Gail Kim, who would be debuting soon. As a matter of fact, she actually won the Women’s Championship in her debut a few weeks later. I hope I do get to review more of Gail Kim’s matches in the near future of this Retro Express as she was a great female worker.

Jonathan Coachman interviewed La Resistance, who were Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier at this time. They were challenging Kane and Rob Van Dam for the World Tag Team Championship next. Sylvain said that this was a big night and that he hated Texas. They buried then-US President George W Bush, which got a lot of boos in Texas. They dedicated the match to then-French President Jacques Chirac. This is actually amazing when you think about the political situation for the likes of US and the UK in 2016. It was amazing that the countrymen of the US and the French actually liked the people that ran their country at the time. Meanwhile, the US currently have a president-elect that they apparently don’t want in the White House anymore. It’s amazing.

 

Kane (c) and Rob Van Dam (c) vs “La Resistance” Sylvain Grainer and Rene Dupree for the World Tag Team Championship

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As far as putting the new heel tag team over, this was NOT the way to do it. La Resistance came out and Jim Ross called them jackasses, which was actually pretty funny. La Resistance got some serious heat. There were some seriously angry fans in the front row. Funnily enough, they showed the graphic for the old World Tag Team title design from the Attitude Era but the champions came out with the new belts that had been around since 2002! As I watched this DVD, I was rather annoyed at WWE for editing out the original theme songs that RVD and Kane came out too. Kane actually had been coming out to “Slow Chemical” from Finger Eleven at that time, which is one of my favourite wrestling theme songs of all time, so seeing that not make the DVD very much upset me.

RVD and Kane beat up La Resistance, with the storyline going in being that the champions were not on the same page. RVD did a great springbroad crossbody as he took over early. La Resistance turned the tide for a bit by planting RVD with a DDT. Kane got the hot tag and ran SERIOUSLY wild on the two french men. I mean Kane was DESTROYING these men all on his own as his partner had been beaten up by these two. Kane was having to contend with the heels on his own while RVD simply WATCHED from the apron. He eventually got the tag while Kane was still getting the better of these two heels. He’s doing fine on his own and then RVD got in. As Kane is battling these men on the outside, RVD goes for a dive and hits Kane accidentally when there was no need for him to go for the dive at all. RVD was attacked and hit the Double Flapjack for the pin as La Resistance won the World Tag Team titles.

The booking of this match caused steam to come from my ears. The whole angle was that Kane and RVD were having issues but here in this match, Kane was completely doing fine on his own while RVD cost them the match by getting involved when Kane was coping fine. The fact was Kane could have beaten these men by himself and he would have retained the title. How could La Resistance possibly have been taking seriously at this point? I guess La Resistance are remembered nowadays so I guess they became somewhat of a memorable tag team. However, this match was pretty lame and pretty perplexing.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Goldberg vs Chris Jericho

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A common trope of mine is immediately looking up Dave Meltzer’s rating for the match I just saw during a Retro Express. Mine and Meltzer’s ratings are usually right in-line but for this match, I noticed that he gave this match three and a half stars out of a max total of five. Maybe it’s a mistake to watch old matches with modern eyes but I have NO IDEA what type of match he was watching. In case you were wondering what made me un-optimistic about the actual Goldberg/Brock Lesnar match for Survivor Series this year, THIS was the match.

I know these two had heat with each other around this time but even so, the wrestlers with the biggest heat with each other can usually put together some really good matches. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had some sublime matches back in the day. This Goldberg/Jericho match was NOT sublime.

Goldberg went for a lock-up and it was one of those lock-ups from a women’s match, that sees both wrestlers tumble out of the ring. Goldberg hit a World’s Strongest Slam as the fans chanted Y2J. Goldberg dominated early on, even gorilla pressing Jericho onto the ropes. Goldberg went for a spear through the wall but Jericho moved out of the way as Goldberg drove himself through the barricade. This actually played into the storyline going in, which Jericho claimed that he’d win the match by making Goldberg angry and sloppy. This was actually pretty good story-telling.

Jericho tried to get at Goldberg but referee Charles Robinson stopped him. I’m not sure why he did this as it wasn’t like the doctors came out to check on Goldberg. Jericho drove Goldberg into the ringpost. Goldberg was bleeding and his arm had been hurt from the spear, which Jericho took advantage of. Goldberg was working with one arm, actually selling the injury. Now, Goldberg rarely had to take the heat in many of his WCW matches. The idea was that Goldberg would destroy the opponent, hit his finishers and beat him early. In WWE however, he was not booked in this manner. He had to sell for Jericho so he tried to work with one arm. While he did this, his ring-work with one arm was pretty bad. If in doubt, DON’T HAVE GOLDBERG SELL.

Jericho locked on a Fujiwara Armbar. Jericho was caught off the top with a high knee. The fans started booing. Goldberg was not able to pull off working with one arm, struggling with an one armed hip toss. “Goldberg sucks” chants began to roar from the crowd. Jericho hit a dropkick and Goldberg waffled to the ground. We got more boos. Jericho hit the lionsault on the face of Goldberg for a near fall. Jericho went for a Lionsault and Goldberg was supposed to catch him but it went ALL WRONG. Goldberg hit the spear and we got even LOUDER “Goldberg sucks” chants. Goldberg went for the jackhammer but Jericho caught Charles Robinson in the eyes and hit a low-blow on Goldberg. This got a lot of cheers and big Y2J chants. Keep in mind that Goldberg was supposed to be the face and Jericho was supposed to be the heel!

Jericho tried the Walls of Jericho but Goldberg powered out, hit the spear and jackhammer, and won the match. And to put a cherry on top, Goldberg slid outside of the ring and got in the face of a fan that booed him throughout the match. A wonderful way to put over Goldberg as a babyface.

To be fair, Goldberg did actually get cheers when he won the match and Jericho tried ALL that he could but even he could not get a good match out of this man. Jericho’s on my list of greatest workers of all time as he had a reputation, in my mind, of being able to have a good match with everyone he wrestled. I remember him having a good match with Ryback at Money In The Bank 2013 for crying out loud! Ryback was mocked as being a “copy” of Goldberg, yet Goldberg couldn’t even have a good match with Jericho. This will be hard to hear for a lot of fans but Goldberg had a HORRIBLE night here.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

They showed a pig pen and Lawler questioned whether Jim Ross had brought his relatives along to the show. Terri was with Austin and Eric again. They spun the wheel for the third round and it landed on “sing-off” which Austin was upset about. Austin asked Terri if she thought that Steve was any good. She said no. Eric vowed to beat Austin in front of these rednecks.

 

Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair

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This was probably tied with the main-event as far as the best match for the show, with these two legends going out. Despite that, I was still a little bit let down. This was certainly not at the level of their WrestleMania 24 match but I did expect something special and I really didn’t get it to be honest.

Shawn got a HUGE reaction from the Texas crowd. The two legends messed with each other with taunts but that came to an end when Shawn slapped Ric and mocked him. There was some nice mat wrestling between the two. There was a very old school feel to this match. Shawn slapped Ric and Ric came close to doing the Flair Flop but was able to keep himself up with one foot! Michaels dove onto Ric. Remember when Steiner was able to see through Test’s attempts at begging him off? Well Ric tried to beg Shawn off in this match… and it worked. I can at least accept the possibility of Shawn being conflicted as he was wrestling his idol that he respected, and not to mention that Ric is older and more experienced than Shawn so FINE.

HBK and Flair chopped the hell out of each other. Flair did the chop block. Flair worked on the legs and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock, that Shawn was able to get the ropes for to break it up. Flair shoved referee Earl Hebner but Earl shoved back. The second time on this show where a referee stepped over his boundaries when calling a match, three if you count Charles Robinson holding off Jericho when he shouldn’t have. Ric got cocky and Shawn made him pay with an enziguri. Flair went up to the top and of course, Shawn threw him off the top turnbuckle.

There was a great exchange when Shawn went for the Super Kick but Flair countered it into the figure four leg lock. Shawn countered this into a small package and then locked on his own figure four. This was some solid professional wrestling right here. Flair poked HBK and they traded roll-ups. HBK hit a superplex and it looked like Shawn struggled to get Flair up for this superplex. HBK got a table and set it up. Flair teased suplexing Shawn through the table but Shawn got out and ended up laying Flair onto this table.

NOW, I personally was taken out of the match a little when they brought out the table. Firstly, it’s supposed to be a regular singles match. Since when are TABLES allowed in a normal match? Yes, Shawn didn’t HIT Flair with this table but he still tried to “cheat” by using a weapon to his advantage. That, to me, should be DQ but Earl let this happen. Secondly, I was very much into the regular singles match and the old-school wrestling behind all of this. Instead, when Shawn introduced the table, it just seemed so out of place to me. I just don’t think this was the time for a spot like this.

Shawn super-kicked the interfering Randy Orton and then jumped off the top and onto Ric, going through the table. Flair bled from the back. Flair was able to take the ref out by low-blowing Earl and Shawn at the same time. HBK fired back and dropped the elbow. Shawn superkicked Flair, Orton hit Shawn with the chair and RIC FLAIR PINNED SHAWN MICHAELS.

Maybe I’m in the small minority here but the table spot just completely took me out of this match. It was a great match up until that point but to me, it just negated the point of the match which was just to see who was better. Instead, Orton and the table got involved and it just became another shenanigan-filled match on RAW. I wanted a clear-cut winner and instead I got this. I think a few fans that were in that building felt a little cheated out of this finish. It was nice to see Flair get the victory over Shawn though.

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

The time had come for the sing off. Eric came out to literally NO REACTION as we’d seen him more than anyone on this show, so the fans were kind of uncaring when he came out. Eric said he’d sing his own theme song but he instead lip-synced his own theme song which I thoroughly enjoyed, as did he based on the way he “sung” this! Austin cut in and called him out on his lip-sync. They went back-and-forth on this like they were kids arguing about the smallest things. Austin told Eric that he sucked and ordered him to do it again. Eric sung badly and Austin called him pathetic. Austin suggested they re-spin the wheel and it came up with “Pig Pen Fun” which involved the pig pen from earlier on. Austin said that whoever threw their opponent into the pig pen would be the winner. Austin deputised the crowd to stop Eric from leaving. Someone threw Eric back in from the crowd.

Austin beat up Eric, stomped a mudhole and hit a Stone Cold Stunner. Eric actually sold this pretty well, with his selling of it probably being around 5000% better than Mae Young selling it earlier on in the night. Austin took Eric to the stage and threw him off it, with Eric landing in the safest way possible. Austin was declared the winner by Lilian Garcia as he drank some beer. Jim Ross had an awesome line in which he claimed that “those pigs may need counselling being so close to Eric Bischoff!” That was a serious contender for line of the night. Austin celebrated for about 30 hours but the fans didn’t seem to mind.

The fans loved all this and to be fair, I enjoyed a lot of the moments from this Redneck Triathlon. However, this went on way too long for me to care at the end. The burping contest was good and Austin had some brilliant banter but in the end, it was way too long. The ending made me feel as if this were a house show, which I don’t think was the purpose. This did not feel like it should have been on pay-per-view and it does rather upset me at how long this went, considering that Booker and Christian only went seven minutes.

 

Triple H (c) vs Kevin Nash in a Hell in a Cell match for the World Heavyweight Championship with Mick Foley as the special guest referee

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I have to say something about the video package they did for this match. They had the video package where they recapped the rivalry and did an amazing job at selling you on the idea that this type of match was important, rare and dangerous. The music, which was Headstrong by Trapt, fit right in as HHH, Foley and Nash beat the hell out of each other during a RAW segment and it was wonderful stuff. The video packages back in the “ruthless aggression era” used to be quality stuff.

I actually went through a phase with a mate of mine where he used to rave at me everyday about this song, and actually serenaded me with it everyday! And you know what… I had no problem with this. If you’ve never heard of Headstrong by Trapt, PLEASE go and listen to it. It’s fantastic stuff.

The special referee Mick Foley actually got the biggest reaction out of everyone, which should tell you how much the fans cared about Triple H and Kevin Nash. Triple H tried to poke the bear that is Mick Foley but Nash clobbered him. Nash smashed HHH’s with elbows. Nash slowly beat up HHH by driving him into the ringpost and the cell wall, as well as the corner of the cell. The fans cared little for Nash at this point. Nash threw HHH into the steel steps. Nash tried throwing the steps at HHH but thank got that Hunter ran out of the way as that would have been bad news.

In a pretty creative spot, Nash went for a Jackknife Powerbomb but Triple H used the cell itself to get out of it. HHH got out a toolbox and smashed Nash in the knee and the head with a hammer. Foley took the hammer from Triple H and pushed him down. Foley challenged HHH but HHH backed off. HHH grated Nash’s head with the cell wall. After a struggle, HHH wedged a screwdriver into Nash’s head. Foley yelled at Triple H. Triple H grabbed a bat wrapped in barbed wire and hit Nash in the gut. Nash fired back with punches and smashed Hunter in the head with the bat which got a big reaction. HHH was busted open. Nash wedged the bat into the turnbuckle and did a snake eyes onto it for a near fall.  There was a “big lazy” sign in the front row.

HHH smashed a wooden create over Nash. Triple H grabbed a sledgehammer but Foley tried to wrestle it away which got some boos. It made sense why, as it seemed for all the world at this point that Foley was screwing HHH in a no disqualification match. HHH attacked Foley which got some cheers. Nash did the drop toe hold spot onto the steel steps which felt slowly done. This got a near fall. Triple H hit Nash and Foley with a chair. Foley was bleeding as he whipped out Mr Socko. He locked on the Mandible Claw, with Triple H responding by kicking Foley below the belt. Nash accidentally hit Foley and HHH with the steel steps somehow. Nash went for the cover but Foley was out.

Nash tried to revive Foley. Foley was on the apron when HHH knocked Nash into Foley, who bounce back first into the cell wall. A very risky spot if you ask me. HHH went for the pedigree but Nash catapulted HHH into the barbed wire bat still stuck in the top turnbuckle. Nash hit the jackknife, Foley made the count but HHH kicked out. This was actually a GREAT near fall. I think a lot of people in that crowd thought that was the finish.

Triple H crawled for the sledgehammer and instead of pushing away the sledgehammer that he can see or grabbing it himself, Nash simply grabs Triple H by the hair. HHH made him pay with a sledgehammer shot to the head. HHH hit the pedigree and that was that.

The first part of this match was very much boring. Nash beating him up forever got no heat it seems but it picked up a little in the second half. The thing that was weird to me was that Nash and Foley both tried to screw Triple H, and Triple H is supposed to be the heel. In the end, the right man won. Judging on the crowd reactions, a Nash title run would not have gotten a great amount of interest from the RAW audience.

I thought this was a good match considering it’s a long match involving Kevin Nash and I personally thought this was the best match on the show.

Match Rating: ***1/3

 

This was definitely a memorable pay-per-view to say the least. Every match seemed to stand out to me, for many different reasons. I felt that the booking for a lot of these matches were really flat, although the main-event ended up being much better than I thought it was going to be. There were a lot of disappointing matches that struggled for time due to the Redneck Triathlon which took up way too much time. The Texas crowd loved this one for whatever the reason was but I can’t say that I’m too keen to watch it again.

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Retro Express – Unforgiven 2008

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Coming off their first PG PPV in the “PG era” of WWE, the WWE came up with a new concept for a championship match type. This would be a new match that the WWE, World and ECW titles would all be defended in at Unforgiven, promoting excitement and unpredictability as five men would scramble to try and win the championship. The Championship Scramble saw CM Punk’s World title, Triple H’s WWE title and Mark Henry’s ECW title all in jeopardy. How many titles would change hands? Who would capture the gold? And finally, who would win the unsanctioned showdown between Shawn Michaels and the man that punched his wife at Summerslam? Well, let’s get to it….

 

WWE Unforgiven

Date: September 7th 2008

Brand: RAW, SmackDown! and ECW

City: Cleveland, Ohio

Attendance: 8,700

 

Mark Henry (c) vs Matt Hardy vs The Miz vs Finlay vs Chavo Guerrero in the ECW Championship Scramble match

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Matt Hardy and The Miz were the first two entrants in the match. Both of them got surprisingly big reactions. I know that this pay-per-view took place in Cleveland, where The Miz is from, but it was not like Miz was extremely over at that time. This was when he was with John Morrison and was only just starting to make a name for himself. It’s still nice that he got the big reaction here though.

The first five minutes between Matt and Miz were actually pretty good with not much to report on. There were no falls in the first five minutes with Chavo Guerrero being the third entrant. Chavo immediately pinned Matt with the Frog Splash, to become the interim champion. Chavo was able to pull off a rolling heel kick which was done well. What was not well pulled off was the Miz’s double crossbody on Matt and Chavo, which barely got Chavo. I guess that one could be put on Chavo for not being in the right place but it still came off looking sloppy. Matt ran wild and pinned Chavo with the side effect to become the new champion.

The fourth entrant was Mark Henry with Tony Atlas as his manager. Matt, Miz and Chavo all ganged up on Mark Henry but he pushed them all away. He ran wild and pinned Chavo with the World’s Strongest Slam. He beat everyone up. There was one interesting thing to note as the interim champions tried to retain their titles. Matt Hardy did this earlier in the match but the interim champions wore down the other competitors with long submission holds. Mark got the pin fall on Chavo a minute after he got into the match so we had roughly three or four minutes of Mark Henry putting everyone in bearhugs before Finaly came out. It makes sense for Henry to do that but this completely drained the match of life for a long period of time.

As mentioned, Finlay was the last entrant. He kept hitting Henry with DDTs as he took it to the current champion. Hornswoggle’s distraction led to Finlay hitting Mark with the shillelagh. Finlay and Matt were able to dump Mark over the top rope and out of the equation. Finlay then quickly hit Matt with the Celtic Cross and pinned him to become the interim champion. That’s team work for you everybody!

Matt eventually became the champion again, pinning Miz after hitting the Twist of Fate. Then we got a pretty stupid couple of minutes as we were drawing to a close. Mark Henry is killing nearly everyone in the match with World’s Strongest Slams but Matt broke them up each time. It was the case where Mark hit the finisher, Matt broke it up, Mark moved Matt out of the way and then hit someone else with the finisher. As a fan, I had only one thought in my mind… why don’t you turn around and kill Matt Hardy, so he won’t be able to stop you from pinning these other guys? Mark Henry struck me as someone that was just not learning from his mistakes as Matt kept breaking up the pin! It was just amazing.

There was actually a moment where Mark hit the World’s Strongest Slam on Miz but Miz was up again after like 20-30 seconds! Thanks for the no-sell Miz!

There was a big scramble in the last few seconds of the match with everybody trying to get a pin fall on each other. Matt kept trying to break all of them until the clock expired and Matt was declared the winner. There was a big pop when Matt Hardy won the belt which really lifted the crowd after the last ten minutes of the match really took them out of the scramble. I thought this was an OK Scramble match which did not set too great a precedent for other Scramble matches to follow. It started off exciting and then Mark Henry showed up, which took me right out of the match. Then there was the Matt/Mark incident near the end of the match which made the match seem like a total mess at times. In the end, the crowd was happy so I can’t bash this too much.

Match Rating: **1/4

Jeff Hardy congratulated Matt on his big win and Matt wished Jeff luck in the WWE Championship Scramble match later on.

There was a quick shot of WWE Champion Triple H and World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk warming up backstage. They were the champions going into their respective Championship Scramble matches.

Cody Rhodes (c) and Ted DiBiase Jr (c) vs Shad Gaspard and JTG for the World Tag Team Championship

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The announcers mentioned that Shad was once a bodyguard for “Iron” Mike Tyson. Am I the only person in the world that questions why MIKE TYSON of all people would need a body guard? I watched something recently with him in and he still looked like a pretty mean guy. If I tried to jump Mike Tyson in the street, I highly doubt that he’d need Shad Gaspard watching his back!

This match was a nice little tag team match. Nothing too fancy but it was just your slightly-above-average tag team match which was not really messed up at all. There was a funny incident at the start of the match where JTG was pulled off from Cody by the referee and JTG yelled “What are you doing?” Cody went for the moonsault but JTG moved out of the way. Shad got the hot tag. Cody hit the DDT on Shad while the referee was distracted but Shad would kick out of DiBiase’s pin. JTG and Cody became the legal men in the match. JTG went for the small-package on Cody but Ted rolled it over so Cody had JTG covered. The referee made the pin and the champions retained the titles. The two tag teams got into a brawl. Manu, the son of Afa, made his debut by turning the tide in the favour of the champions. They left and were feeling triumphant.

Match Rating: **1/2

Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho in an unsanctioned match

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Shawn Michaels was shown to be taping up his arm for his big unsanctioned fight with Chris Jericho. They showed an awesome video package to recap the feud between Michaels and Jericho. The biggest thing that I took from this feud was that Jericho was justified in nearly all of his actions during this program. He made the point when he turned on Shawn about how the fans were booing an honest man (Jericho) and cheering a lair (Michaels). He did a tremendous job in making Michaels out to be a villain in nearly every scenario, even when he was supposed to retire at Summerslam 2008. Some of the lines thrown in this angle were awesome.

The WWE were actually just starting out in the “PG era” but there was one “we want blood” sign, which was surprisingly not confiscated by security. It is possible that WWE knew that there might be blood in Jericho/HBK anyway so maybe that’s why it wasn’t taken away. HBK attacked Jericho with punches early on. He took off his belt and smacked Jericho with it. They fought in the crowd. Michaels went for a chair shot on Jericho but he missed. Jericho did a DDT to Michaels on the outside, which looked effective. Jericho pulled out a table and hit Michaels with it. Jericho tried a powerbomb but he ended up launching Michaels into the apron.

Jericho beat up Michaels with a chair. Jericho wedged the chair in the corner. They teased Irish-whipping each other into it. Jericho tried to suplex Michaels through the table on the outside but Shawn got out of it. They then showed Michaels flat-out choking Jericho in the ring with a crazed look in his face. I thought that was a nice touch as it shows just how badly Michaels wanted to hurt Jericho. Shawn went for the Superkick but stopped and then just started punching Jericho in the face! The more I think about it, the more of a good spot this became in my mind. I think it’s changed my opinion because the match itself was a totally different type of match then you were used to from Michaels and Jericho. Therefore, these moments make a lot more sense than if Michaels were to have done it at WrestleMania 19 for example.

Michaels locked on the crossface but Jericho was able to hurdle Michaels face-first into the chair. This obviously added to what happened earlier in the storyline, with Jericho injuring Michaels’ eye. Jericho targeted the eye and with the vision of Michaels impaired a little, Jericho turned it into an amateur boxing match for a while! Jericho did the Irish Whip spot to Michaels, where Shawn did a flip in the corner. It was so great because the flip actually helped Michaels out, as it was done to the same corner where the chair was still wedged in!

Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho but Michaels got the ropes. However, Jericho didn’t have to let go as it was no disqualification. Shawn was able to get under the apron and pull out a fire extinguisher. He sprayed Jericho to get out of the Walls and he hit Jericho with the extinguisher. Michaels took Jericho up the ramp and did a nasty looking suplex on it. It honestly looked like it hurt Shawn more than it hurt Chris!

Lance Cade, who was Chris Jericho’s protege at the time, tried a run in but Michaels cut him off. Cade’s response was to TURN HIM INSIDE OUT with a clothesline! Jericho and Cade targeted Michaels’ taped up arm. Jericho slapped Michaels while Cade helped him. Cade brought in a chair and Jericho smacked Michaels in the arm with it. He planned to break Michaels’ arm by wrapping the chair around it and jumping off the top rope with some move. As he went up, Michaels got out of it and superkicked Cade. Michaels took the chair and hit Jericho with it, causing Jericho to crash into the table. I thought Cade’s involvement was really well done and it led to a great spot with Jericho falling into the table. I thought this was all great.

HBK then unleashed a barrage of one-handed chair shots to Jericho which I thought were great additions to the match. It made Michaels look so great while he was in this state-of-mind. He wanted to beat up Jericho with this chair so much that he decided to do it with one arm! Michaels put Cade and Jericho on the announce table and then hit an elbow drop off the top rope through the table.

HBK then whipped Jericho with the belt. In what was a great moment, HBK then started whipping Jericho in the eye! If you’ll recall, Michaels mentioned in a segment on RAW before this about an eye for an eye and Michaels was legitimately trying to take out Jericho’s. He then laid into Jericho with a number of bare-knuckle blows. Jericho was KO’d and the referee called for the bell. Some of the fans booed and a lot of the fans didn’t get the finish but it was still pulled off really well. In a way, they did contradict themselves with the rules by claiming that it could only end via pin fall or submission beforehand. Then again when thinking about the storyline, the referee probably thought that there was no way that Shawn was going to go for the cover and Jericho couldn’t submit as he was knocked out. When factoring all of those things, the referee calling for the bell does make sense.

HBK still continued to beat up Jericho and he even super-kicked one of the referees. More referees came out to stop Michaels and attend to Jericho. This was all splendid.

The match itself was pretty damn great. I know a lot of people didn’t get how the match was put together. To be honest, I was one of those people when I first watched this. There was parts of the matches which I never really understood until I watched it back recently. It wasn’t a match which everyone got but it was still masterfully put together. It’s unfair to compare this match to other Michaels vs Jericho matches as it was obviously not set out to be like those matches that we saw in the past. However, it was still pretty damn great. The match actually gets better and better the more I think about it. TWO HUGE THUMBS UP FOR THIS!

Match Rating: ****1/4

Legacy were backstage. Cody introduced Manu to Randy Orton and Ted asked if Orton was impressed. Orton said he wasn’t and proceeded to cut an amazing promo on Ted, Cody and Manu. He delivered a great speech about talent and ability, berating them for using tactics that people like Cryme Tyme would use on the street. He was not impressed.

Triple H (c) vs Jeff Hardy vs Shelton Benjamin vs The Brian Kendrick vs MVP in the WWE Championship Scramble match

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This was a championship scramble match mostly revolved around two men – Triple H and Jeff Hardy. At the end of the day, the winner of the match was going to be either one of those two. Therefore, this made everyone else in the match seem irrelevant (except for The Brian Kendrick, which we’ll get onto later). I don’t know if I were to have booked it like this, as the whole point of the match is surely to tease that anyone can win. If you were going to book it as they did, wouldn’t it make for sense for Jeff and Triple H to start off the match? That way, you can get the fans into the match early on and also give Jeff and Triple H experience in wrestling 20 minute title matches with each other, which is important as they would go on to fight each other for the title in the next few pay-per-views.

They went with Jeff Hardy  and Shelton Benjamin as the first and second entrants respectively. It was a decent first five minutes. There was one strange clothesline spot where Shelton went down and it appeared that he thought that they were going to do the double clothesline spot, where they both go down. The third entrant was The Brian Kendrick, who was with Ezekiel Jackson at this time. As he was coming down, Shelton was trying to hit Jeff with a  German Suplex off the apron. Kendrick cut him off. Kendrick was pinned soon after by Jeff Hardy with an alley oop.

This was the part of the show where I thought that the wrestlers themselves really didn’t understand the rules of the match. The Championship Scramble was actually a complicated concept but it was made worse by the fact that the interim-champion Jeff Hardy tried getting a pin fall on Shelton Benjamin. Why would Jeff need to bother getting another pin fall? Why didn’t he do what his brother did earlier on and just wear down his opponents? It wouldn’t have been too big of a deal had it not been for the finish, which we’ll get to later.

Shelton hit the Pay Dirt on Jeff and Kendrick followed it up with “The Kendrick” to pin Jeff Hardy. THE BRIAN KENDRICK became the interim WWE Champion. The Brian Kendrick was really the only one, other than Triple H and Jeff Hardy, that stood out like I mentioned earlier. Kendrick got the pin fall and the entire crowd was stunned as well as the commentators! He then served as the best interim champion in the history of the Championship Scramble! He looked like such a star for the next five minutes or so. MVP was the fourth entrant and ran wild. He went for the dive-by but Kendrick cut him off with one of the most beautiful leg lariats I’ve ever seen. Kendrick then started to do a tremendous job in making himself seem like a legitimate threat in this match. He was the best wrestler in the ring for the time that he was champion and was outclassing everyone! Then Triple H came in as the last entrant…

All of a sudden, things went downhill for Kendrick. Triple H ran wild and pinned Kendrick right away after a Pedigree to become the interim champion. All of a sudden it became the Triple H and Jeff Hardy show, with Kendrick playing the same role as everyone else. Shelton Irish-whipped Triple H into the steel steps. As this was going on, Jeff pinned MVP with the Twist of Fate. There were some boos as this happened, with the some of the crowd seeing where this was going.

In a terrible twenty seconds for Kendrick, Triple H pinned Kendrick again with the Pedigree. Triple H turned around to catch his breath, which apparently meant that Triple H had lost his hearing as well. The reason I say this is because as Triple H was turned around, Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb on Kendrick to a big pop. Jeff then pinned Kendrick to once again become the interim champion. There were only two men that were getting reactions at this point and they were Triple H and Jeff Hardy. If the crowd were going crazy, then Triple H surely should have figured out that Jeff was somehow back in the match and going for something big. Surely that should have forced Triple H to turn around and stop Jeff Hardy from getting the pin, which almost cost him the WWE Championship. But no. Hunter turned around with a shocked look in his face as he was no longer the interim champion.

There was an awesome tower of doom spot with Shelton Benjamin, MVP and The Brian Kendrick. All three men were down. In the closing seconds of this match, Jeff hit Shelton with the Swanton Bomb which was followed by Triple H giving MVP a pedigree. Triple H was going for the cover on MVP with Jeff Hardy stood right in front of him. Did Jeff Hardy try to break up the pin? No. He turned his attentions to Shelton and TRIED TO PIN HIM. Once again, YOU WERE ALREADY THE INTERIM CHAMPION! All Jeff Hardy had to do was make sure that Triple H didn’t pin MVP and he would have won the title right then and there. Instead, he allowed Triple H to get the pin fall and the announcers tried to play it up like Jeff was so close to winning the championship. They were right. He was so close but he failed out of his own stupidity. Jeff Hardy came off looking like the dumbest man alive in this match. He tried to pin other wrestlers while he was already the champion and had no clue of how the match worked in the slightest.

They also tried to go with the angle that Jeff was too hurt to recover and do anything. He was too hurt to break up the pin but he was OK enough to go try a pin on somebody else?

So Triple H got the pin fall at the end, which saw him retain the championship as the last man to get a pin or a submission. Other than the ending, this was a decent Championship Scramble. I would go as far as to call it the best scramble in the show but that is not saying much. It didn’t help the match when everyone involved had at least one moment where they did something stupid or was completely squashed. SmackDown! did not come off looking good following this pay-per-view.

Match Rating: **3/4

Shawn Michaels did an interview with Todd Grisham. Shawn said that he was content with what he had accomplished in his match with Jericho but he did not find closure. He said that if he could, he would deliver the same beating to Jericho every single day of his life. He warned Jericho that the worst is yet to come. For the fans, the best was yet to come as those two would go on to have an incredible match at No Mercy in the following month!

World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk was interviewed by Eve Torres, future Divas Champion. Randy Orton interrupted Punk’s interview. Orton called Punk a fluke champion. They had a back-and-forth until Cody, Ted and Manu all attacked Punk. Kofi Kingston tried to help Punk but he was beaten down too. Orton then ended the beating by punting CM Punk in the head. Orton would tell Legacy that this was impressive. They left.

Michelle McCool (c) vs Maryse for the Divas Championship

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This was not great. Maryse could barely run the ropes in this match. Michelle tried to do a flip arm drag off the top rope but was only just able to land on her feet. They fought on the outside, with Michelle giving Maryse a clothesline off the barricade. The match actually did include a good of bit old ring psychology, with Maryse working on Michelle’s leg. Michelle then worked on Maryse’s leg. The big difference was that Maryse was selling her leg injury while Michelle wasn’t! I then was reduced to uncontrollable laughter after Maryse and Michelle tried a sunset flip. Maryse tried this sunset flip but it ended up with Maryse’s momentum causing Michelle to crush her!

Michelle won with a suplex facebuster for the pin fall. You could tell that the announcers barely cared about this match as about ten seconds after the match, Tazz suddenly just went “ooooh” as if he just realised that the match was over! This was slightly worse then your average women’s match. The only major thing that they messed up was the sunset flip which still brought me a fair amount of entertainment!

Match Rating: *1/4

They then cut to a poll that the WWE were running throughout the night. It was whether the Big Show should have been allowed to be in the WWE Championship Scramble. 77% of the fans said that he should have been in the match. I guarantee that if they ran this poll again in 2016 for whether the Big Show should be in the Elimination Chamber for example, 77% would have voted against having him in!

RAW General Manager Mike Adamle cut a promo. He announced that it looked like CM Punk was not going to be able to make it to the World Title Championship Scramble. He said if CM Punk couldn’t compete, he would find someone else to take his place. He guaranteed that a FIVE MAN championship scramble will take place tonight.

You know what’s funny about Mike Adamle is that I wasn’t really watching wrestling at this time period, so I never watched it during the Age of Adamle. If I was, I totally would have loved him as the general manager of RAW and here’s why. The thing is that I really loved John Laurinaitis, when he was in charge with People Power. I’m a sucker for characters that are so bad that they’re good. Even though he messed up a lot of promos and came out with some unintentionally great moments, there was never a moment where I wanted to turn off the television when Big Johnny came out. Mike Adamle had that same effect where you’re just watching him and you’re waiting for him to come out with a beauty of a line!

He never really messed up anything with this promo but I loved the way that he raised his voice at the end of his promo. Apparently John Cena convinced Adamle that the more you raise your voice, the better your promo will be!

Segment with Vickie Guerrero, Big Show and The Undertaker

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Big Show came out. He was in his singlet. I was about to question why Big Show was coming out in his ring gear when he wasn’t scheduled to compete. As it turns out, he was lobbying himself to compete in the main event and take CM Punk’s place. Then again, Big Show didn’t know that there would be an open spot in the match until Adamle just announced it a minute or so earlier! So again… why was he in his gear?

He started his promo by just saying “Hi” which got some laughs. Big Show offered to be in the main event in Punk’s place as mentioned earlier. He said that at least Mike Adamle wouldn’t have left him out of a scramble match unlike SmackDown! General Manager Vickie Guerrero. This somehow led to Big Show encouraging people to vote in the 2008 elections. I have no idea how he was able to segway into this!

Vickie came out. Vickie told Big Show that she warned him not to cause a disruption or else. She had warned him that he’d either be suspended or fined. He then called him a big, dumb giant and told him to leave. When Big Show refused to leave, Vickie didn’t act on her threat. There were no fines or suspensions. She did not fire him. She basically told him to go away!

By the way, Vickie Guerrero does not fit into the category of “so bad that it’s good.” At this point in her career, she could still barely act. She was god awful with her delivery on this show. At least Big Johnny or Adamle had something to make you want to stay and watch. Vickie was just so bad that it made you think that WWE were actually daring you to turn off the show.

The Undertaker popped up on the titantron as druids made their way down to the ring with a casket. Big Show was just laughing in the ring. Taker said that he promised that he would be coming for Vickie at Unforgiven. He said that the coffin would be her final resting place. He asked her whether she wanted to go voluntarily or by force. Big Show kept her in the ring.

Undertaker got a big pop when he was coming out. Vickie tried to exit via the crowd but Big Show brought her back into the ring. This gave me strange deja vus of Over The Limit 2012, when Big Show brought Big Johnny back in the ring after he tried to escape from the crowd. Anyone that watched that pay-per-view will remember how that went down. As amazing as it is, I got deja vus from a segment that took place in 2012 while watching a pay-per-view from 2008 in 2016!

Taker opened the casket and got in the ring. Undertaker then started taking off his coat and hat. I didn’t realise that Undertaker needed to be in his ring gear in order to take Vickie Guerrero to hell! He grabbed her by the throat and then the Big Show punched Taker in the face. Big Show, did in fact, turn heel on this pay-per-view. It’s just amazing that they did this exact same storyline in 2012 but with Big Johnny replacing Vickie and John Cena replacing the Undertaker. Incredible.

So Big Show beat up the Undertaker in a shockingly agile manner. He then drove Taker into the ring post and threw him into the barricade. He knocked over the casket and then kept punching Taker in the face, knocking him out. Vickie then spit in Undertaker’s face, slapping him for good measure. ALL OF THIS TOOK TWENTY MINUTES OF PAY-PER-VIEW TIME!

Segment Rating: -**

They then recapped a RAW segment with Randy Orton and CM Punk, which led to the attack from earlier.

William Regal tried to convince Mike Adamle to put him in the World Heavyweight Championship Scramble match. Adamle said he’d take his request under advisement.

Batista vs Kane vs JBL vs Rey Mysterio vs Chris Jericho in the World Heavyweight Championship Scramble match

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Batista and JBL started out the match. I was rather shocked and disappointed by the WWE’s decision to have Batitsa and JBL kick off the match. They could have put in Kane or Rey Mysterio, with Mysterio having a history of pulling off good long match performances. However, they decided that it was best for Batista and JBL to work a 20 minute match. Batista looked blown up at around the half-way point.

They also decided to have Batista and JBL start the match by locking on submission holds. Because if there’s one thing I associate Batista and JBL with, it’s submissions! Batista locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock for about a minute. It was much better when these two were just going blow for blow as opposed to just going for submissions. That brought out the best of them. Batista Irish-whipped JBL into the corner. He got into the ring and waited for the third entrant, who turned out to be Kane.

There was a fine back-and-forth between Kane and Batista. They went for finishers on each other but they were countering each other’s stuff. Then there was a nice little sequence between all three men, which saw Kane pin JBL off a chokeslam. The fourth entrant was Rey Mysterio, who brought life into the match for about a few minutes. He and JBL picked up the pace as Mysterio ran wild. Rey went for the 619 on Kane but it was avoided and Kane turned Rey inside out with a clothesline.

Rey and Batista then teamed up to do an elevated splash, with Rey on Batista’s shoulders. They went for it again but Rey turned it into a victory roll pin attempt on Batista. It’s funny that Batista thought nothing of Rey’s betrayal in this match when a year later, he got so mad at Rey for breaking up a pin fall which caused Big Dave to turn heel at Bragging Rights 2009!

JBL then took advantage of the brief squabble that Rey and Batista had. JBL hit a fallaway slam on Rey, which saw him land right on Batista. The fifth entrant was revealed to be Chris Jericho, who came out selling his match from earlier on in the night. Everyone in the ring was shocked as Jericho came out, with Y2J looking wrecked. Batista then speared Rey and Jericho out of their boots.

In a repeat of earlier on, Kane tried to go for the pin even though HE WAS THE CHAMPION. Fortunately, he only did this once. In the last 45 seconds of the match, Batista hit Kane with the spinebuster and pinned him to become the interim champion. Rey then tried a springboard move on Batista but it was countered into a Batista Bomb. This was a sweet reversal actually. As this was happening though, Jericho sneaked back into the ring and pinned Kane. The clock ran out and Chris Jericho won the World Heavyweight Championship!

I’ve got to say that the finish was really well executed. It was not done in such a way that it devalued the title as Jericho had already been beaten up before the match. Jericho was slaughtered by Michaels but still came back out, which put him over. Even if he didn’t do anything in the match, Jericho winning was the whole point of the match at the end of the day. The majority of the match was pretty boring but it did lead to a great finish. It was also not like the WWE Championship Scramble match ending, where Jeff could have done something to break up the pin. Jericho went for the pin as Batista was in mid-move. Batista could not stop what he was doing and go break up the pin. Really well executed finish with a match type which did have its fair share of problems. The finish gets a thumbs up from me!

Match Rating: **1/4

Overall, this was a fine pay-per-view. The Championship Scramble was a complicated concept, as mentioned earlier. Especially with the wrestlers themselves getting somewhat confused by it, it was a very difficult match to get your head around. Despite this, all three matches were different in their layouts and they all provided something different. Matt brought the triumphant new babyface champion, Triple H and Jeff brought the back-and-forth pin falls which lead to an exciting last minute of the match and Jericho brought the shock factor. The best match of the night was Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels BY FAR, but this was not a pay-per-view that delivered a lot of bad matches or anything. With the exception of the women’s match and the god awful Vickie, Big Show and Undertaker segment, this was decent stuff. Thumbs up from me!

Retro Express – Summerslam 2008

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Previously on the Retro Express, I talked about Summerslam 2007. I questioned whether this PPV was able to live up to the high standards that fans expect from the second biggest show of the year. Now it’s time to do it again. At Summerslam 2008, we got two world title matches as well as two major grudge matches from RAW and SmackDown! Batista faced John Cena for the first time ever while Undertaker and Edge settled their year-long feud in a Hell in a Cell battle. Did this show deliver?

 

 

WWE SummerSlam

Date: August 17th 2008

Brand: RAW, SmackDown! and ECW

City: Indianapolis, Indiana

Attendance: 15,900

 

Jeff Hardy vs MVP

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One of the biggest criticisms of WWE commentary of the last five years is that the announcers are portrayed as less intelligent than the audience they are supposed to explain things to. Jim Ross was not like these modern-day announcers. He did his research and was on the ball, especially during this pay-per-view. Small stats like Jeff Hardy’s Summerslam record up until his match with MVP can make it seem like there’s a lot more on the line, even if there isn’t. There was a lot of little things like JR thanking the UK fans for staying up to watch the event. Being aware of the struggles of international audiences and rewarding them with little facts that would make the commentary seem worthwhile.

MVP kicked it off with a bell-to-belly on Jeff into the turnbuckle. We got pretty big “MVP” chants actually. Jeff hit the neckbreaker to try and turn the match around. There was a good counter when MVP countered a wheel kick with a simple kick to the gut. No flashy counter. He kept it as simple as possible by simply kicking the man in the gut. I don’t know why I’m giving this a lot of credit but even the simplest of moves can add to a match.

MVP went for the boot but Jeff countered it into a sleeper drop. Jeff hit the Whisper In The Wind. Jeff went to the top rope but Shelton Benjamin ran out. Jeff jumped on Shelton, which gave MVP the chance to recover in the ring. Jeff went for the Swanton Bomb but MVP moved out off the way and hit the Drive-By for the win. I thought this was fine for an opener. It’s just funny looking back in hindsight, because Jeff would go on to be a major part of the world title scene on SmackDown! for the next year.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

The lovely looking Maria interviewed Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix backstage. They were set to challenge for the Intercontinental and Women’s titles in a tag team match. Early on in the year, Santino and Maria were an on-screen couple. They had broken up since then, with Santino commenting that Maria had let herself go. Maria made fun of Santino’s unibrow, to which Santino claimed that he’d grown it for Beth. Awwww.

 

We then got the first mention of this pay-per-view WWE poll, asking whether Edge and Vickie Guerrero would get a divorce. This was a very hard period for the couple’s marriage. Edge had cheated on Vickie and Vickie’s revenge was to put Edge in Hell in a Cell. Edge went nuts and messed with Vickie on SmackDown! This vote ended up with 78% of the crowd voting that they would.

 

Mickie James (c) and Kofi Kingston (c) vs Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella for the Women’s Championship and Intercontinental Championship

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Let me start off by saying that Mickie James looked absolutely lovely here, as did Beth for that matter. There was a sign in the crowd that said “Santino stole my unibrow,” which I giggled to. Unlike modern-day WWE, the men could actually wrestle the women during inter-gender tag team matches at this point. It wasn’t like nowadays, when a female being tagged in forced the opposing man to tag out.

Kofi got the hot tag and ran wild. Kofi Kingston faked a dive, which saw Santino diving into Beth’s arms. Santino had some great trash talk during this match! Mickie James then ran wild and hit the Mickie-DT on Santino. Beth hit her with the Glam Slam out of nowhere to win the match and win herself the Women’s title and win Santino the Intercontinental title.

This was an OK match but it was really the moment of Beth and Santino both becoming champions that stood out. Beth had effectively fought Santino’s own battles for him and won him the Intercontinental title. The celebrations were great as Beth piggy-backed Santino to the back! Just great post-match celebrations from the heels!

Match Rating: *3/4

 

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We got Shawn Michaels coming out with his wife Rebecca. The storyline going into this segment was that Chris Jericho really messed up Michaels’ eye during their match at The Great American Bash 2008. Shawn came out to address the fans and thanked them for their support. He told the fans that the doctor had recommended that he walked away. He admitted that it was finally time to heed the doctor’s advice and walk away from the WWE. Rebecca’s acting during this was pretty damn great as she was brought to tears in the ring. I actually looked it up and it turns out that Rebecca was actually one of the old WCW Nitro Girls, where she performed as Whisper. With her experience in wrestling, it’s kind of understandable about why Rebecca was so good… other than watching Shawn that is.

A lot of the fans were literally brought to tears. This was how well this was all performed because the fans were legitimately thinking that this was the end for Shawn. There were even “please don’t retire” signs brought to the arena. This was all interrupted by Chris Jericho…

Chris Jericho said that Shawn was leaving because of what Jericho did to him and wanted Shawn to admit it. Jericho refused to leave the ring before he did it. He said that he wanted the last moment of Michaels’ career being to admit that Jericho put him out for good. Michaels said that he would but gave Jericho some advice. Michaels told Jericho to sit his family down and tell them that “daddy would never ever be Shawn Michaels.” Shawn and Rebecca were about to leave when Jericho pulled Michaels’ arm. He went to punch Shawn and inadvertently punched Rebecca.

Michaels was shaken by what just happened. This was one of those moments that showed just how great Shawn was. Shawn was initially filled with rage as the crowd is encouraging him to attack Jericho. After about 30 seconds of pure rage, Michaels couldn’t bring himself to do anything and just went back to consoling his wife. These were all true emotions as a lot of times, when something awful happens to your loved ones, your first instincts is to unleash hell on the culprit. At the same time, you can’t help but do nothing as you are fearing for the safety of your family. This was all incredible stuff.

The fans were all into this, which helped. The funny thing is that it was later revealed that Jericho ACTUALLY punched Rebecca during the segment. He accidentally legitimately punched her and Jericho has talked about how he and Shawn were both mortified after it all happened. They both told a story on Jericho’s podcast about it as they were both backstage with Rebecca. Shawn was walking her back up the entrance ramp and asking if Rebecca was OK, and Rebecca responded by saying that at least her teeth were still in! It gets better as when the three of them were backstage as Rebecca is getting looked at, she turns to Chris and says: “Is that all you got?”

Rebecca being a total trooper about the whole thing made it so much better in hindsight! This segment was so great and it leads to a great match at Unforgiven (which will be the next PPV I review on the Retro Express) and their No Mercy match. These two just knew what to do from that point on. Michaels’ promos were all on point. Jericho’s promos were all on point. Their contract signing on RAW that followed was great. This was all amazing television and thank god that this was eventually elevated to being a title feud, as it was the best thing going in all of WWE at the time.

 

Mark Henry (c) w/Tony Atlas vs Matt Hardy for the ECW Championship

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So right after one of the best PPV talking segments of all time, we got THIS wrestling match – if you even want to call it that. This was technically a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP match as Mark Henry defended the title against Matt Hardy. What happened was that Matt Hardy hits the Twist of Fate on Mark Henry. As Matt is about to win, Tony Atlas pulls Matt out of the ring and throws him into the steel steps which causes a disqualification. This match lasted 26 seconds and ended with a disqualification.

This sort of stuff wasn’t rare with the ECW title, as Kane actually won the title in 8 seconds from Chavo Guerrero earlier on in that year. However, this benefited absolutely nobody. You hurt Mark Henry, who was apparently already beaten in 26 seconds. You hurt Matt Hardy, who was taken out by a semi-retired former wrestler in Tony Atlas. 26 seconds for supposedly the biggest program for ECW. Unbelievable.

So Jeff Hardy made the save and hit a Swanton Bomb on Tony. The Hardyz then double-teamed Mark Henry and hit him with the double suplex on the outside. This actually got a big reaction.

Match Rating: N/A (Didn’t last long enough)

 

CM Punk (c) vs JBL for the World Heavyweight Championship

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Punk kicked off the match with the control. He unloaded with suicide dives and cross bodies. The commentators mentioned that CM Punk had watched Batman five times. I don’t know if they meant the original Batman film from the 1990s or the Dark Knight film that came out shortly before this, but I approve whatever film he watched.

JBL hit a fallaway slam from the top rope in order to take control of the match. JBL was very wobbly on the ropes which could have ended badly. Punk then made the comeback. Punk hit the running knee and bulldog, which JBL went down too early for. Punk went for the GTS but JBL countered it with a simple but effective clothesline. CM Punk’s springboard attempt was countered into a powerslam. CM Punk kicked JBL in the head, which saw them both crash down to the mat and clashed heads. JBL somehow landed on top of Punk, which led to Punk’s head being busted open.

In the end, CM Punk picked up the victory with the GTS. There was a fair amount of miscommunication during this match, including the clash of the heads from earlier on. These two worked at vastly different paces. They tried hard but it was just not to be.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

The Great Khali was warming up backstage, ahead of his big WWE Championship showdown with Triple H.

 

Triple H (c) vs The Great Khali w/Ranjin Singh for the WWE ChampionshipSummerSlam_2008.29

The last time I reviewed a World Championship match that involved the Great Khali, I was critical to put it nicely. At Summerslam 2007, Khali and Batista had a REALLY bad match. This match involving Khali and Triple H was much better than that match. I don’t want that to suggest that Batista is a bad worker or anything. In fact, his match with John Cena would very much dispute that. However, it’s at least good to know that he somewhat improved in the year between world title matches at Summerslam.

There was insightful commentary from Jim Ross and Tazz, as JR was talking about the size difference between Triple H and Khali. He said something along the lines of “7’3 and 6’3 – you do the math.” Tazz’s response to JR’s height analysis was “I don’t like math.” Quite the banter from Tazz and Jim Ross…

The story of the match was that Triple H kept trying to do the Pedigree on Khali, but Khali was simply too big. Khali hit the two-handed chokeslam right off the bat. Khali tried a vice grip on Triple H to “you can’t wrestle” chants. Khali did the big chop. Khali elbowed Triple H in the face and Triple H dropped to the floor Ric Flair style. I don’t want to keep comparing this match to the Batista match mentioned earlier, but Triple H’s selling was much better than Batista’s. HHH’s selling actually did make Khali come as effective with his attack. Khali elbowed him and Hunter went down immediately. Whenever Batista sold something, he would stumble and THEN fall down. Interesting to think about. 

We got more “you can’t wrestle” chants, with Khali responding by putting Triple H in a nerve hold. Triple H fought out of it and hit his signature facebuster, which sent Khali into the ropes. Khali was tangled in the ropes but was still able to backdrop Triple H to the floor. Khali went for the Vice Grip. After Hunter fought out of it, Khali just went back to the grip. Triple H eventually successfully hit the pedigree to a big pop and he got the pin to retain the title. 

Obviously, the two world title matches on card were never meant to mean much. When you’ve got Batista vs John Cena for the first time as well as a Hell in a Cell, there wasn’t gonna be much pressure on these two matches to perform. They were two matches that featured a clash of styles, with the big man fighting the little man. The World title match was better than the WWE title match but  HHH/Khali was not terrible or anything. At least you can say that the match had a story to it, with Triple H trying to hit the pedigree on this big man. After fighting and fighting, Triple H eventually hit it and got a big reaction for it. There were “you can’t wrestle” chants to Khali but this match did a fine build-up to the big finisher spot in the end. They put over the Pedigree and the crowd were into the finish so in that sense, a thumbs up.

Match Rating: *3/4

 

John Cena vs Batista

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Anyone that has ever been a WWE fan will know that WWE are prone to hyperbole and for good reason. The WWE, in theory, have to try and convince you that the next big match coming up is an important match. In a lot of cases, to achieve this goal, they have to go completely over-board with putting the two men involved over. Even if you know that it won’t be the greatest match of all time, they will always claim that these matches will be historical matches. They did a tremendous job in trying to convince the fans that this match between John Cena and Batista would be an all-time classic. I would not go as far as to say that it was one of the best matches of all time but, after it was over, it ended up feeling like a very special match.

There was a mixed reaction for John Cena as usual. Cole and Lawler tried very hard to put this match over. The video package tried to promote the idea that these two were going to explode in their match but yet they started the match by doing a lock-up. This rivalry wasn’t that intense but a pet peeve of mine is when two guys, that supposedly hate each other, begin their big match with a regular lock-up.

Batista tried a Batista Bomb but Cena got out of it, which was followed by a big clothesline. Batista then started to work on the leg on Cena, with chop blocks, shinbreakers and Figure Four Leg Locks. It’s very strange for the big man to focus on the leg of the little man. Cena went for the FU but ended up launching Dave over the top rope. Cena did his comeback while selling his leg. Cena tried the FU again but Batista got out of it and hit a big boot. Batista unloaded with a series of shoulder blocks, followed by a clothesline. Batista hit the spinebuster. Cena got out of a Batista Bomb attempt with a simple leg DDT, following it up with an STFU. Jerry Lawler, with a rare glimpse of insight, noticed that he locked on the STFU in the same part of the ring where he made Triple H tap out at WrestleMania 22.

Batista reversed a FU attempt into a rear-naked choke, somehow giving us a foreshadowing of Batista doing MMA just before he returned to WWE in 2014! Batista hit the spear but Cena kicked out. We got an awesome spot where Cena reversed an Oklahoma Slam into a FU for a near fall. They battled on the top rope, getting the boo/yeah treatment. In a memorable moment, Cena went for the leg drop but Batista countered this into a Batista Bomb. This was the move that left Cena with a herniated disc and sidelined him for a while. Cena certainly looked in a lot of pain after the match.

Amazingly, that wasn’t the finish as Cena kicked out. Batista eventually hit one more Batista Bomb and won. A very good match between these two men. On paper, Batista and Cena really shouldn’t have been expected to have a match this good. However, they really did give it their A game. The catch powerbomb spot was pretty dangerous and led to an injury, which would be my biggest criticism. However, Cena soon came back from this and thank god that the injury wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

I don’t think the injury should take anything away from the match though and these two performed really well. A BIG THUMBS UP FROM ME! Second best match on the show by far…

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

Undertaker vs Edge in a Hell in a Cell match

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I mentioned that Cena vs Batista was the second best match on the show – this was undisputed best thing on the show. Undertaker and Edge had the final match in their really good feud from 2007 to 2008. They recapped all of this in the video package beforehand.

Undertaker took control at the start. Edge’s stable La Familia was watching backstage. Undertaker got the steel steps and leaned them on the corner, which set him up to do a snake eyes drop to Edge onto the steel steps. Very innovative stuff here. Edge then dropkicked and speared Undertaker into these steel steps. Edge got out two tables and then hit Undertaker with the steel steps. Edge stacked the tables on top of each other and tried to suplex Undertaker into them. Undertaker tried a chokeslam but Edge saved himself with a jawbreaker. Edge used a chair and got out a third table, setting it up in the ring. The stacked tables were still outside of the ring. Edge grounded Undertaker with two chair shots to the face and one to the back, which allowed him time to go get a big ladder.

The next spot was a callback to a segment on SmackDown! a few weeks before this. In the segment, Mick Foley tried to motivate Edge so he could face Undertaker in the Cell. Edge said “I understand” and then kicked Mick Foley’s arse. He ended the beating by jumping off a ladder with a chair into Foley, who was on a table. In a callback to that moment, Edge did the same spot and yelled “I understand” before crashing onto the Undertaker.

Edge tried a conchairto, but Undertaker stopped him by grabbing his throat. The two battled outside of the ring, where Edge speared Undertaker through the cell wall. That was an awesome spot as Undertaker was bleeding from the arm. They fought outside of the cell.

Undertaker took apart the announce table when Edge intervened, hitting Undertaker with the television monitors. I’ve seen the next spot several times but I always loved this. There were three announce tables for this show, for the three separate RAW, SmackDown! and ECW brands. Edge stood on one announce table, ran across to the second announce table and hit Undertaker with a spear, which sent them crashing into the third table. I thought this was a really well executed spot.

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After some brawling, they went back into the cell which got some boos. I guess a lot of fans were expecting Edge and Undertaker to go to the top off the cell after they got out of it. The funny thing is that Edge actually mentioned on Chris Jericho’s podcast that he wanted to end this match with a Tombstone on the top of the cell! What a scary spot that would have been!

Edge hit Undertaker with the ladder in the ring. Edge then hit Undertaker with a camera, which was a callback to when Edge cost Undertaker the world title during a Hell in a Cell match at Survivor Series 2007. Edge tried a spear but ran into a chokeslam. Edge hit the Edgecution for a near fall.

Undertaker tried a Last Ride into the tables on the outside but Edge got out of it and hit a spear. This got a near fall as well. Edge tried the ten punches spot in the corner, which almost never ends well when you’re facing the Undertaker! Undertaker hit the Last Ride. Undertaker tried to do some serious damage with a tombstone onto the steel steps but Edge countered. Edge tried the Undertaker’s Old School but Undertaker countered this with a chokeslam into the tables on the outside.

Then we got a bit of poetic justice, as Undertaker started using all of Edge’s own moves against him. He hit Edge with an awesome looking spear. Undertaker then hit Edge with the camera, which was revenge from earlier. Undertaker then did a conchairto of his own. Edge’s back was all cut open as Undertaker hit the tombstone and won.

Then Undertaker ended the night, when he chokeslammed Edge through the ring and into HELL! We got a weird graphic from this, as Undertaker was setting up the chokeslam from the top of the ladder which supposedly sent Edge to hell.

An absolutely incredible Hell in a Cell match. I think this will probably go down as one of my favourites. These two left it all out there and there was some great booking for this feud-ending match. I loved the callbacks to old angles featuring these two men. Undertaker got his revenge by giving Edge a bit of his own medicine. A lot of nasty spots were taken as these two ended their feud in a big way. Bravo to both men. I loved this match.

Match Rating: ****1/2

 

Overall, I thought the show was fine. If it were not for the Hell in a Cell match and Batista/Cena, I don’t think this PPV would live long in the memories of a lot of fans. There was nothing really special about the undercard, other than the Shawn Michaels segment and Santino and Beth’s double celebration. Other than that, there was not much to it. However, the final two matches of the show really bumped up the show. At the end of the day, it was a forgettable show up until the final two matches which could go down as two of the most memorable matches in Summerslam history.

Retro Express – Summerslam 2007

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Summerslam has been established as the WWE’s second biggest pay-per-view of the year, being the Summer equivalent of WrestleMania in the eyes of some. With it given the nickname of the “biggest party of the summer,” there’s clearly a lot of pressure on it to succeed. In the 2007 installment of the show, with likes of Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and Edge all out of action as well as the show’s main event riding on the first ever title match between Randy Orton and John Cena, could it live up to the high standards set by previous editions of Summerslam?

 

WWE Summerslam

Date: August 26th 2007

Brand: RAW and SmackDown!

City: East Rutherford, New Jersey

Attendance: 17,000

 

Finlay vs Kane

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The first match was a SmackDown! grudge match between Kane and Finlay. Apparently this feud started when Finlay accidentally spilled coffee on Kane. Yes, THAT’S what instigated this feud. COFFEE. This was the Kane/Chris Jericho feud from 2000 all over again, which saw Kane go crazy.

Kane’s ribs were taped up after an attack by Finlay a few weeks beforehand, which leads me into an important point I’d like to make. If you’re going into a fight against a tactical fighter like Finlay, why would you make your injuries clear by taping up whatever wounds you have as you wrestle? I know this happens all the time in wrestling but a wise tactic to employ would be to try and make your opponent think that your ribs aren’t hurt so he might not target it. It always seems to me that Kane just put a huge bullseye on his ribs.

This proved to be true as Finlay targeted Kane’s ribs throughout the match. The match showcased some decent ring psychology as a result of the rib injury as Finlay used innovative but punishing methods in order to knock the wind out of Kane. I can tell you from personal experience that a punch in the gut is more punishing that it seems.

Kane was dominating early on though while continuing to sell his injury. Finlay’s offense include dropping Kane rib-first on the turnbuckle and doing a bonzai drop to Kane’s gut. As all this was going on, JBL on commentary turned his attentions to Batista vs The Great Khali for a solid minute. Finlay then went for a single leg boston crab. I was about to write in my notes about how this seemed out of place in terms of the psychology, until Finlay actually applied pressure to the ribs by standing on them while locking on this hold. That was a nice little touch.

Kane got back to his feet and delivered an enziguri. He is a big man, so seeing him pull that off is still cool. Kane started a comeback which led to WWE Cruiserweight Champion Hornswoggle coming out to a huge pop. Kane chased Hornswoggle and threw him into the ring. In one of the biggest hope spots of the show, Kane grabbed Hornswoggle for a double chokeslam alongside Finlay but both of them were able to evade it. We were SO CLOSE to seeing Kane chokeslam Hornswoggle! What a spot that would have been!

The finish saw Finlay undoing the turnbuckle. As the referee tried to fix this, Finlay got out his shillelagh but Kane blocked the attack. Kane tried to use it but the referee stopped him. As the referee threw the first shillelagh away, Finlay got another one and whacked Kane in the gut with it. Kane kicked out, hit the chokeslam and won.

A fine opener. I liked this, although I could have done without the comedy in the end with Hornswoggle. This is supposed to be a feud between two mean tough guys. Having Hornswoggle contribute to the finish off the match just took away some of the intensity of it all. Despite that, the crowd were into it for the finish which was good. A thumbs up for the opener.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

We had a Summerslam party going on, with Vince McMahon and the general managers for RAW, SmackDown! and ECW, as well as Jonathan Coachman. RAW was ran by William Regal, SmackDown! was ran by Teddy Long and ECW was ran by Armando Estrada. As sad as it is, this was Armando’s only appearance on the entire show. Vince talked about his illegitimate son (yeah, they were running with this angle at the time) when Santino Marella came in. He claimed to be Vince’s son and then left. United States Champion MVP walked in and buried Teddy Long’s efforts as the general manager of SmackDown!, as MVP was not booked. MVP asked to make an open challenge to Matt Hardy, who he was feuding with at the time. Vince gave it the OK. After Regal hinted at himself being Vince’s son, Vince and Coach began talking about being with women from the UK. All of this was very awkward stuff and none of this “party” was really entertaining at all, with the exception of a later segment involving Cryme Tyme which we’ll get to…

 

Umaga (c) vs Mr Kennedy vs Carlito for the Intercontinental Championship

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This was during the very brief face run of Umaga, as he took on the two heels in Mr Kennedy and Carlito. There was a fan in the crowd who wore a wig and a bag over his head with a sign saying “Carlito’s embarrassed brother!” One of the best gimmicks among the crowd during this show!

I also want you all to take into account that a big main-event run was initially being planned for Kennedy as part of the “illegitimate child” storyline involving Vince McMahon. This was prior to his suspension which ended his push but Kennedy was reportedly scheduled to be taking the WWE Championship from John Cena and going on to face Triple H at WrestleMania. Remember all of this as I discussed how the match went.

Kennedy and Carlito tried to from an alliance with Umaga to take out the other guy but Umaga responded by destroying them both. They tried double-teaming him which failed. Umaga went for his hip attack on Carlito when Kennedy distracted him, which led to Carlito dropkicking Umaga. A strange attack from Kennedy was when he did a running stomp onto Umaga, when the Samoan was laid on the steel steps. I don’t know why Kennedy needed to run to do the stomp when he could have just done it up close to have the same effect.

Carlito tried a roll-up on Kennedy but the referee stopped the count when Carlito’s hands were on the rope for leverage. Now, this is one of the great inconsistencies of WWE in terms of the triple threat. The triple threat match is supposed to be no disqualification right? Well if that was the case, then surely the referee was in the wrong the prevent Carlito from grabbing the ropes? I’ve seen this happen time after time but there appears to be no official stance on whether the referees should be stopping these pinfalls. It’s similar to grabbing the ropes when locked in a submission. It’s no disqualification but the wrestlers go for the ropes anyway. I know it’s a habit-thing but it’s just interesting to think about.

Kennedy hit Jeff Jarrett’s “stroke” finisher on Carlito but Umaga pulled him to the floor. Umaga did the diving headbutt onto Carlito and went for the splash, but Carlito was moved out of the way by Kennedy. Kennedy hit Umaga with the television monitor from the announce table. Carlito and Kennedy ganged up on Umaga and attempted to do a double suplex. However, they themselves were double-teamed by Umaga. The referee started to count the three of them as they were all laid out IN A TRIPLE THREAT MATCH! Jim Ross even stated on commentary: “Referee counting – I don’t know why!” At least Jim Ross didn’t try to cover up how stupid the referee was being. He’s acknowledging the match stipulation inconsistencies head on!

Umaga ran wild until Kennedy sent him to the outside by pulling down the ropes as Umaga hit them. Kennedy hit the rolling fireman’s carry on Carlito and went for the cover but Umaga simply stopped him, hit him with the Samoan Spike and pinned KENNEDY to retain the title.

If you have a triple threat match involving a big monster like Umaga, someone else that you’re looking to push as a main-eventer like Kennedy and another dude like Carlito, why would you beat Kennedy clean in the middle. What was the point in Carlito being there, if he wasn’t supposed to be the one eating the pin? It was not like Kennedy came so close to winning and Umaga stole the victory. Umaga destroyed these two men, hit Kennedy with the Samoan Spike and pinned him. Kennedy and Carlito came off as complete losers following this destruction from Umaga.

It is possible that the reason Carlito didn’t get pinned was because he was expected to feud with Triple H for Unforgiven following this. By that logic, then this would imply that WWE believed at the time that Triple H’s next opponent was more important than protecting a man scheduled for a title run. That’s some logic.

The match itself was not that great. I was not a fan of this match and I felt it was very slow and sloppy. While it is fun watching Umaga destroying people, I felt that this match should have been a lot more competitive than it ended up being.

Match Rating: *3/4

 

Rey Mysterio vs Chavo Guerrero

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This was Mysterio’s comeback match after ten months out of action. He was written off television when Chavo defeated him in an great I Quit match on SmackDown! Rey was back in action and you could tell that this was a completely different Rey Mysterio after ten months out with an injury. As surprising as this may sound, Rey looked way bigger than usual as he came out. He was painted all in silver for his entrance, which all completely disappeared as soon as the match was over.

After a few minutes of feeling each other out, Rey fired up and targeted Chavo’s knee. This was a call-back to the way Chavo had took out Rey in the I Quit match. Chavo quickly returned the favour and went after Rey’s leg. The key to the match was that Rey kept trying to go for his 619 finisher, but his leg kept giving out. Chavo Guerrero did a tremendous job in getting heat and wrestling as the heel. That’s one of Chavo’s greatest attributes as a wrestler. When he gets the heat on a babyface, he does it effectively.

Chavo went for a single leg boston crab and JBL immediately yelled “BALL GAME!” So for the record, JBL was constantly yelling out “ball game” as early as 2007. Chavo got caught up in the tree of woe and Rey started his comeback. In a spot which I’ll always love, Rey went for a moonsault but Chavo caught him. Rey then countered this into a DDT. I’ve seen Rey (and probably Chavo for that matter) perform this spot before and it almost always looks great.

Rey went for a splash but missed. Chavo hit the Gory Bomb but Rey kicked out. This was actually a great near fall and JBL was doing this hardest to try and sell the Gory Bomb, claiming that nobody had ever kicked out of it. Chavo went for the Three Amigos and he was about the deliver the third suplex, when Rey got out of it. I thought that Chavo’s knee “gave out” which would have worked into the story of the match, as Rey worked on Chavo’s knee throughout. Rey went for a 619 and finally hit it on his third try and pinned Chavo. A good match with basic ring psychology and a great story told. Rey was coming back from an injury and had to work through the injury in order to finally put away Chavo. This was solid professional wrestling.

Match Rating: ***

 

Todd Grisham interviewed King Booker. King Booker was set to face the returning Triple H. He congratulated Rey Mysterio on his victory but he still buried Rey’s comeback story. Booker told Triple H to take in his grand entrance as it would be the high point of his night. He vowed to make Triple H bow before him.

 

Beth Phoenix vs Maria vs Mickie James vs Melina vs Michelle McCool vs Jillian Hall vs Torrie Wilson vs Victoria vs Kristal vs Layla vs Kelly Kelly vs Brooke in a inter-promotional divas battle royal for a future Women’s Championship match

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Boy, was this ever something. I know there’s been several bad women’s battle royals over the years but this an ungodly mess. The thing is that I did a review of the fulfill your fantasy battle royal at Taboo Tuesday 2005, and that was actually a decent battle royal. That was a women’s battle royal done right and it had a structure to it. In this inter-promotional battle royal, it was quite the opposite.

Candice Michelle was the women’s champion going into this and her theme was remixed version of her original “What Love Is” theme. This was proof that the original is usually always the best as this remix was a dubstep nightmare. The song featured random air horns, sirens and a woman chanting “raise your hands up” in a song put together by someone that clearly had never done dubstep before. I’ve never been a major fan of dubstep and remixes like this but I promise you that all the great DJs in the music industry would be screaming if they ever heard this attempt at a “tune.”

Candice was sat on this movie set chair in front of the announcers, completely blocking their view. The way that Candice was watching this match seemed so unnatural that it almost seemed that she was acting while watching this match when she could have just… watched the match as if she were a fan to project much more interest from your character.

So the women all came out, the bell and thus began some of the scrappiest brawling I’ve ever seen. Kelly Kelly and Kristal spent a good several minutes in the middle of the ring, brawling in the typical cat-fight style. At times, it was almost as if these girls just froze in that position. As everyone else was doing “spots,” they were just… there. I understand that these two women weren’t the greatest workers in the world, but I expected more of a showing from them considering that this was for a WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH.

Beth was dominant from the get go, eliminating Brooke (who was in fact Miss Tessmacher/Brooke while in TNA) by throwing her to the outside. Looked like it sucked for Brooke. Layla and Maria were both eliminated, with Maria being eliminated by Jillian Hall. After brawling with Kelly Kelly for what seemed like an eternity, Kristal eliminated Victoria. Pretty shocking was the treatment of Victoria in this match. It would have been great if it came down to Victoria and Beth Phoenix in the final two.

Kristal was accidentally eliminated by Michelle McCool, after McCool tried to attack Mickie James. Wasn’t exactly the smoothest of accidental elimination spots. Beth and Torrie Wilson eliminated Kelly Kelly. Mickie’s hurricanrana elimination of Jillian Hall was messed up as Jillian was hung up on the top rope, so Torrie had to intervene to eliminate Jillian. At least at this point in her career, Torrie had the experience and in-ring awareness in order to improvise when things went wrong.

Melina eliminated Mickie James. Michelle was supposed to clothesline Melina over the top rope in order to eliminate but that got botched as well, so Torrie had to intervene again. Beth then eliminated Torrie which led to the final two of Beth Phoenix and Michelle McCool. Michelle was very green at this point in her career but they were still trying to push this woman as the top diva on SmackDown! Unfortunately, she was not really up to scratch at this point. Some very sloppy stuff here in the final two. Beth dumped her out of the ring to win the battle royal.

This was very sloppy stuff, with a lot of these women being very inexperienced at this point in their career. Unfortunately, these women were given a lot of time and spots to do which really hurt their image. Michelle, in particular, was not able to work to a great level. At least there was a good winner in Beth and she really did standout from the crowd, so at least she seemed like a credible threat to the Women’s Championship.

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

MVP vs Matt Hardy in an open challenge

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To show you just how much WWE cared about the women’s match, MVP’s music hit 30 seconds after Beth won the whole thing! MVP, in fact, reminded us that no matter how many women you brought out, nobody paid to see them! MVP was an awesome promo-cutter at this time and he was great with his feud/future tag team with Matt Hardy. MVP talked about drinking drinks that were suitable for a MVP like himself. He challenged Matt to a beer-drinking contest. Matt Hardy came out and Michael Cole mentioned that Matt and MVP were scheduled to challenge for the tag team titles on SmackDown! a few days later. Spoiler alert… Matt and MVP won the belts that night.

As soon as MVP said “beer drinking contest,” the fans started to figure out where this was going and chanted “We Want Austin.” Matt mentioned that MVP brought in a substitute, Evander Holyfield, to replace him in a boxing match with Matt at Saturday Night’s Main Event. Matt said he was going to do the same thing and that his substitute would be a beer drinking champion. The Austin chants grew louder and louder which is funny, because The Sandman was still employed with WWE I believe so it could have very well been him and it would have made sense! Austin was the man that came out though to a HUGE reaction.

This segment was so great as what you expected to happen ACTUALLY happened and it was still great. Matt Hardy even had a look in his face as if to say, “this is going to be great.” Steve Austin got in the ring and prepared for this beer drinking content by warming up! He was running the ropes, doing press-ups and doing star jumps as part of his warm-up! Austin then got out the beers… and then simply hit MVP with a stunner! It was all great, with MVP selling the stunner really well! Austin drank some beer and the people were happy!

Segment Rating: ***

 

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They showed a quick advertisement for WrestleMania 24, which was one the best WrestleManias of all time in my opinion. It’s funny because the logo they used in this advert (the one above) was not the one they ended up going with for the actual show. Interesting how plans change, even with the logos!

 

Next up came a legendary segment, as Cryme Tyme interrupted the general manager party backstage. Shad called Vince McMahon “Vinny Mac,” which disgusted the chairman! The tag team talked about Vince’s illegitimate son and that it could be one of them because Vince and Cryme Tyme both love money. This led to Cryme Tyme singing and dancing to their catchphrase “money, money, yeah, yeah.” Jonathan Coachman and Teddy Long both joined in as Cryme Tyme, Coach and Teddy began a circle of dance around the disgusted Vince and William Regal. JTG then put his hat on William Regal, which was apparently the hat of dance. I say this because after a few seconds of being bewildered by this hat, Regal started dancing with the others! This was not just like a reluctant dance from Regal. He went ALL OUT with his dancing and had such joy on his face! He gave us the jazz hands, he gave us a goofy smile and he gave us the rhythm. He went nuts! After Regal went into his own solo dance, the room went silent. Regal turned around to be confronted by Ron Simmons. Ron said “DAMN” and Regal was left gloomy, having realised what he just did.

This was a FIVE STAR wrestling comedy segment if I ever saw one. This is right up there with the segment on RAW, where Ric Flair played musical chairs. The whole ordeal backstage with all the general managers having a party was hard to sit through but when Regal went through with his dance, it was almost like all went right with the world. Regal has an incredible sense of comedy, coming from his own love of old British comedy. They should have just put the WWE title on Regal for that segment alone. What a great man William Regal is!

 

John Morrison (c) vs CM Punk for the ECW Championship

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This was the only ECW-exclusive match on the night. In a way I felt kind of bad for these two, as this crowd was just dead for this match. With the crowd coming off Steve Austin’s appearance and THAT segment with William Regal, and going into Triple H’s return as well as the two other world title matches, this was really was put in the death spot for the show.

Funnily enough, we got a “15 minutes of lame” sign from the crowd! For those of you that don’t know, John Morrison was running a weekly segment on ECW called the “15 minutes of fame,” where his opponent had to beat him in 15 minutes. In a way, this was like John Cena’s US Championship Open Challenge and gave a lot of ECW talent time. A very productive means to get talent over.

Despite the crowd not really being into the match, CM Punk got a big reaction as he was coming down. Scott Armstrong was the referee for this one, although I don’t remember seeing any of his signature dramatic two counts in this match! CM Punk pulled off a springboard dropkick, which was very cool. John Morrison did a very impactful neckbreaker on the ring apron. John took over with a series of uppercuts. There was a decent spot where Punk did a sunset flip on Morrison, with Morrison catapulting Punk into the turnbuckle. Punk was able to land on the top rope though and deliver a crossbody to Morrison. Good stuff!

Punk delivered a sweet looking enziguri. Morrison followed that with a slick reversal of the Pepsi Plunge, which he turned into a backbreaker. Morrison went for the Moonlight Drive, with Punk countering it to finally hit the Pepsi Plunge. Punk did a moonsault. Punk clotheslined Morrison off the ropes, which I’m always worried will wind up going badly wrong for the one taking the bump. Punk missed a hurricanrana and Morrison rolled him up, barely putting his feet on the ropes for the pin. This was a very lame ending to a decent match but there was a little bit of sloppiness to it from both men. I do remember the ECW title match where Punk won the belt being good though, so at least the chemistry between these two improved over time.

Match Rating: **3/4

 

They showed us a side-by-side shot of The Great Khali and Batista warming up for their World Heavyweight Championship match later on. It was funny as this was NOT the next match on the card!

 

Triple H vs King Booker w/Queen Sharmell

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Being the child that I am, I did snigger at a sign in the crowd which had “King Booger” on it! Triple H had an astonishingly grand entrance for his return match against King Booker, with a video being played which claimed that Triple H had been re-built. Triple H, has in fact, lived out his dream of being the Terminator several times in the WWE over the years. For all the Terminator references WWE has done over the years, you’d think they would have done Triple H vs Arnold “The Terminator” Schwarzenegger by now!

Triple H came out to the “King of Kings” intro before going into his normal theme song. Triple H fired up and then beat him up on the outside. Booker took over when Sharmell distracted Triple H. Hunter was distracted, which allowed Booker to do a dropkick to his knee. This played into his quadricep injury which forced Triple H out of action. This was then followed by Triple H delivering a chop block to Booker! Apparently, Triple H is immune to normal ring psychology!

Triple H locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock but Sharmell raked Triple H’s eyes to get Booker out of it. Triple H did the comeback and tried a pedigree, but Booker got out of it. There was a cool spot where Booker tried the scissors kicks which was dodged by Hunter and eventually led to the Book End for a near fall. Triple H quickly followed that up with the pedigree after ducking Booker’s side kick, to pick up the win. An alright match which served nothing more than to get Triple H his big comeback victory as King Booker would soon leave the company after this match. Triple H got a standing ovation from the announcers.

Match Rating: **

 

The Great Khali (c) w/Ranjin Singh vs Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship

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When you consider how much of a draw and how much a success a Brock Lesnar match can be, it’s a constant reminder that there’s no real certain way to book a great match. Of course there are elements featured in a number of matches that make them good matches but you don’t have to be a match that flows in a similar pattern to those matches to be a success. If Brock Lesnar proves anything, it’s that him simply hitting German suplexes on wrestlers throughout a match can still give you one of the most memorable matches of the year. He had two of the best matches of 2012 and 2015 with John Cena and Roman Reigns respectively, and they were both essential squash matches up until the finish.

This Batista/The Great Khali match was also essentially a squash match up until the finish. The difference is that Brock Lesnar beating up or “getting heat” on a wrestler for several minutes can still  be entertaining and draw you into the match as there’s an ever-constant fear that Brock could hurt his opponent. The Great Khali’s offense was NOTHING like Brock Lesnar’s. This attack by The Great Khali did not look painful. It did not look exciting. It did not look coordinated. It was not fun to sit through and it just kept going and going.

Khali beat up Batista and applied the nerve hold. Batista would try to attack Khali but get dropped, which led to Khali going back to the nerve hold. This just kept going on and it was like this as soon as the match started. Batista’s selling was also not too great at this point. I will mention this on future Retro Express reviews but throughout history, Batista working as a babyface and having to sell for a long period of time was very hard to watch. God bless Batista but his selling included getting hit, putting his hands up in the air and doing a Flair flop to the mat. Khali’s attack combined with big Dave’s selling was just a recipe for disaster… and it wasn’t like Khali’s selling was that good either.

Batista got out of Khali’s vice grip and hit the spinebuster out of nowhere. Khali then powered out of the Batista Bomb attempt. Batista tried something off the top rope but Khali caught him and hit a double-handed chokeslam for a near fall. The finish saw Ranjin Singh grab a chair for Khali to use. Khali picked up the chair… and used it. This caused a disqualification for a World Heavyweight Championship match AT SUMMERSLAM. It was not like they built up the disqualification either. Khali picked up the chair and used it successfully in his first attempt to get himself disqualified. A match completely void of entertainment which received a horrible finish for it’s trouble.

Batista took over in the post-match by hitting Khali with a spear. He just kept beating him and beating him with a chair to, at least, try to send the SmackDown! fans home happy.

When I reviewed the Teddy Long vs Eric Bischoff match from Survivor Series 2005, I was so appalled at the thought of that match having made it on a pay-per-view. I initially gave that match a rating of minus one and a half stars but after watching this Khali/Batista match, I was so wrong about that match. At least that match was booked with the knowledge that Teddy and Eric weren’t active professional wrestlers. I am actually going to change that rating for Long/Bischoff to a 1/4*, because at least Teddy was doing his best to entertain the audience by dancing. This Khali/Batista did NOTHING to entertain me and this was supposed to be a World Heavyweight Championship match featuring two of the best wrestlers that SmackDown! has to offer.

Match Rating: -*

 

Vince McMahon, Jonathan Coachman and William Regal were backstage for what was the final backstage segment from this Summerslam party. Apparently the storyline going in was that Vince expected to meet the woman that had given birth to his illegitimate son. As it turned out, the women that wanted to see him was Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young. Coach revealed that Mae Young wanted to have baby with McMahon and Mae leaped onto Vince, who was sitting on a sofa. This got no reaction from the crowd, as William Regal tried to wrestle Mae Young away – and this was quite the struggle for poor Regal.

Coach got Vince up and Vince complained about the taste that was left in his mouth. After a few seconds of licking the inside of his own mouth, Vince admitted that he kind of liked the taste after all. Coach said that this was disgusting to which Vince replied: “Old chicken makes good soup.”

Old chicken makes good soup huh?

 

John Cena (c) vs Randy Orton for the WWE Championship 

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I was not going into this match with a lot of hope. This was the first ever pay-per-view match between John Cena and Randy Orton and it would be the first of many, with their last pay-per-view encounter being in October 2014. Having been subjected to many Cena/Orton matches over the years, there was a severe lack of desire from me to see them battle again. That’s probably not fair to do, as I really should be going into this match as I was when I first saw it in 2007. This was the first time that these two wrestled in a big match situation and I should have treated this as if I was a watching it for the very first time. However, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to those matches.

With that said, this was actually a pretty good match and actually one of the better Cena/Orton matches I’ve seen.

Randy Orton was coming out with his “Burn in my light” theme song, which is in my top ten list of favourite theme songs of all time. I absolutely lovely this song. Jim Ross mentioned that John Cena was WWE Champion for 24 of the last 27 months leading into this match. That is an insane amount of time for one to be champion for, and it wasn’t until Jim Ross said that did I realise just HOW MUCH Cena was in the main-event title scene from the five years since he first won the WWE Championship in 2005. That is WAY TOO LONG – even if it is John Cena.

John Cena won the starting lock-up and took Orton over with a headlock, to THUNDEROUS boos. I would say that this crowd was 70% for Orton and 30% for Cena. Cena tried a STFU early on, but Randy got out of it. Momentum shifted back and forth until  Cena missed his signature shoulder block, which led to Orton locking on one of his vintage Randy Orton sleeper holds.

There were moves in the middle but for at least ten minutes, the match was just dominated by Orton leaned on Cena and applying this sleeper hold. Orton did some stomps and locked on the sleeper hold. Orton did a powerslam and went right back to the sleeper hold. Orton did a dropkick and went right back to the sleeper hold. It just kept GOING AND GOING until Cena eventually powered out. If you’re a fan of sleeper holds, than this was the match for you.

Cena did the comeback, hit the five knuckle shuffle but Orton got out of the FU attempt by elbowing Cena twice in the face and then dropping him with the backbreaker. Orton delivered the hangman DDT for a near fall. Orton tried an RKO but Cena got out of it, with this leading to Orton Irish-whipping Cena into the steel steps. A superplex struggle led to Cena delivering a leg drop to the neck of Orton. Cena went for the FU but Orton got out of it. Orton went for the punt kick but Cena countered it into the STFU. Orton got to the ropes and then delivered a RKO OUT OF NOWHERE! This got the nearest of all near falls and at the time, I remember buying this as the finish.

Cena then hit the FU and pinned Orton for the victory. A good match when all set and done. The constant sleeper holds by Orton did drain me but at least it got Cena the big pop for his comeback. They also did their very best to preserve the finishers of both men. Cena did kick out of the RKO but that was literally the only finisher, other than the STFU, that was executed. A change from future Orton/Cena matches, where they would do nothing BUT hit each other with finishers. It was a very slow burn but the finish made it seem that it all paid off. I was happy with this match when all said and done.

Match Rating: ***

 

This was not a strong Summerslam. For what it was supposed to be, it did not live up to the standards set by past and future Summerslams. There was nothing exceptional about this pay-per-view that made it seem like this event was anything other than all the other pay-per-views you saw throughout 2007. Maybe if Randy Orton won the belt in the main event, I might have thought differently. At least if you have that big moment that everyone remembers this show for, it’d at least go down as a memorable event. Steve Austin’s return, while great, didn’t seem that memorable to me as Austin did that with everyone back in the day. Triple H’s return and his match didn’t seem that memorable to me. The World Title match was something that I’ll go out of my way to forget. The WWE Title match will go down as the first of many Orton/Cena matches and as one of the better Orton/Cena matches for that matter, which isn’t saying much. There were two good, solid matches during this show, with the other matches ranging from decent to god awful. For a Summerslam, I expected more….

 

 

… at least we got William Regal dancing.

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Retro Express – Survivor Series 2006

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Survivor Series 2006 was the 20th anniversary of the annual Thanksgiving event. This was the first of its kind that featured the RAW, SmackDown! and ECW brands. The emphasis was on the Survivor Series elimination matches and WWE had to put on a show for a Philly crowd that was difficult to please. Could they give us a Survivor Series to remember?

 

WWE Survivor Series

Date: November 26th 2005

Brand: RAW and SmackDown!

City: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Attendance: 15,400

Ric Flair, Sgt. Slaughter, Dusty Rhodes and Ron Simmons w/Arn Anderson vs Kenny, Johnny, Mitch, Nicky and Mikey in a Survivor Series elimination match
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Flair and Simmons both got big pops when they were coming out. Arn Anderson was in the legends’ corner wearing one of his vintage golf shirts. Ron “cleared house” until he was tripped by one of the members of the Spirit Squad. This lead to a very strange “spot” which gives us the first two eliminations. Ron Simmons followed Mitch around the ring which led to Ron and Arn trapping him. Arn threw Mitch into the ringpost which led me to believe that Ron would be disqualified for what Arn did to Mitch. Instead, Ron was actually eliminated because he was COUNTED OUT alongside Mitch. I thought this was an absurd ruling because surely Arn did the illegal move before the referee finished his count. Also, I don’t even remember the referee finishing his count while the Ron/Mitch/Arn spot was going on. I may have to go back and watch the match again but I SWEAR that I never heard the referee finish his count. I guess he could have whispered it to himself!
Jim Ross was trying to explain all of this on commentary but I think even he was baffled by all of this. To add to the confusion, Arn Anderson was thrown out as the Legends’ manager. Arn sold this ruling tremendously by the way! This led to the fans chanting “bullshit” as this took up a good two minutes of the match to sort all of this out. Not a great start.
Every member of the Spirit Squad was wearing their overalls except, if I recall, Nicky. As mentioned in past editions of the Retro Express, Nicky ended up becoming Dolph Ziggler. In this match though, Nicky was in full Ziggler-mode with his selling! After a spot with Sgt Slaughter, where the veteran fooled the youngster with a handshake, Slaughter began body-slamming Nicky over and over. Slaughter locked on the Cobra Clutch but Johnny ended up dropping him from behind with a kick. This lead to Nicky PINNING Sgt Slaughter.
Dusty Rhodes then pinned Nicky with an elbow drop. When watching this now in 2016, it seems a bit funny to see someone lose to a simple elbow drop. I know The Rock’s finisher is the People’s Elbow but surely one standard elbow drop shouldn’t beat people right? However, Dusty beat people all the time with this in his prime! It’s just also funny that Nicky lost to an elbow drop when as Dolph Ziggler, he hits wrestlers with ten repeated elbows as signature moves and can only get a two count!
Kenny pinned Dusty when he ducked the Bionic Elbow and rolled him up for the pin. This left Ric Flair alone to face Johnny, Mikey and Kenny. Flair pinned Mikey with an Atomic Drop and a pin which saw him with his feet on the ropes. Ric then pinned Kenny with the Small Package and made Johnny submit with the Figure Four Leg Lock and won the match for his team. The Spirit Squad beat up Ric Flair after the match. My biggest question was WHERE WERE THE LEGENDS when this happened? Not a fan of this match. I guess when you combine bad booking with five old wrestlers that could barely move and the Spirit Squad, you shouldn’t get your expectations up.
Match Rating: *1/2
Chris Benoit (c) vs Chavo Guerrero w/Vickie Guerrero for the United States Championship
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This was a fine match. Benoit worked very hard and Chavo looked really good as the heel getting the heat on him. Vickie Guerrero kept getting involved. Benoit made the comeback with the triple German suplexes. Chavo got some serious height on these suplexes. JBL began giving us a analogy on cheating in matches which he was able to somehow relate to picking up women in a bar. Chris Benoit kicked out of Chavo’s Frog Splash to a surprisingly big reaction. Vickie got knocked off the apron and the key to the finish was that Benoit was showing care for Vickie on the outside. While he was doing this, Chavo rolled him up. Benoit countered this into a Crossface and made Chavo tap out.
Match Rating: **3/4
I have to really give JBL some credit for being so great in 2006 as a commentator. You wouldn’t think it by hearing him in 2016, but he was fantastic during this pay-per-view. He would go on some of the greatest rants while on commentary and was allowed to just go completely nuts. It was tremendous to hear him when he could just unload like this.
Edge and Lita were backstage being interview by Todd Grisham. Lita was wrestling her last match that night, defending her Women’s title against Mickie James. Lita told Todd that she wasn’t going to change her mind about retiring. She said she was going to beat Mickie James and gave some spiel about wanting respect from the fans. Edge cut a promo about Team Rated RKO’s match against Team DX. He talked about beating up the Hardy Boyz for years and called CM Punk an ECW reject. As this was going on, Cryme Tyme went into Lita’s locker room. When Edge was done, they came out with a box. JTG told Todd that he never saw anything and left.
Lita (c) vs Mickie James for the Women’s Championship
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Having watched this match back again, I think it’s safe to say that this will be one of my most memorable women’s matches of all time. The sad thing is, I will not be remembering this match in a positive way. The match itself was pretty decent and there were some good aspects to this match which really made it stand out. However, I will never forget just how badly Lita was treated by the WWE and the WWE fans on this night.
Now a lot of people will say that this was fitting considering the characters of everyone involved. I understand all of that. However, this was still Lita’s last night with the company. WWE’s idea was to have the fans get as much abuse in as they can on Lita before she left and she was a trooper for putting up with this. Jerry Lawler actually said on commentary that he was going “to get in all that he could” about Lita and he was making jokes throughout the match about her. My biggest issue is that not every fan in the company remembered Lita for the gimmick she had during the last few years of her career. There were fans who were generally going to miss Lita and there was even a big “Thank You Lita” sign which I saw. I saw one at least but there were probally more.
As it turned out though, the WWE had been CONFISCATING signs which gave Lita praise that night. The idea that WWE wanted Lita to be remembered in such a fashion and was willing to get rid of any signs which gave her some credit for the many years of blood, sweat and tears that she gave for them is one of the most disgraceful things WWE has ever done. Jerry Lawler made a point later on in the show about how the fans should chant and cheer for whoever they wanted. In reality, it honestly looked liked they were punishing the fans for thinking in ways that they didn’t want them to think. I think that is just wrong, especially considering that you saddled Lita with this gimmick for well over a year.
Anyway, there were some awful chants from the crowd. Lita and Mickie actually had a decent match, which I don’t think many fans would remember. They had a decent little women’s match. There was an interesting spot when Lita locked on the sleeper hold and jumped on Mickie’s back for a while. Lita’s pretty tall compared to Mickie, so this looked unique. Mickie pulled off a nice barrage of kicks including a sweet-looking roundhouse. Mickie went for an hurricanrana but Lita dropped her on her face. Mickie kicked out of Lita’s moonsault to a big reaction. Lita went for an Impaler DDT but Mickie countered, which saw Lita land pretty hard. Considering her previously neck problems, that was worrying. Mickie hit the Mickie-DT to win the title. Good match considering everything that happened.
Match Rating: **1/4
Lita told Lilian Garcia to give it up for the “greatest women’s champion of all time.” Nobody did which upset Lita. Lita called the fans disrespectful. This lead to Cryme Tyme coming out. They were selling all of Lita’s stuff. They were selling things like dildos, bras and vaginal yeast infection medication. I’m not making this up. They were actually selling all of this on WWE pay-per-views ten years ago. Then we got a pretty disgusting moment when JBL wanted to buy a pair of Lita’s panties RIGHT AFTER Cryme Tyme just sold yeast infection medication. JBL paid $100 but didn’t get any change, with Cryme Tyme throwing her panties into the crowd. JBL was angry and wanted his money back.
That was the end of that. It’s so astonishing when looking back on this in hindsight. Obviously all the stuff with Lita and Cryme Tyme was all horrible and disgusting. The funny thing is that if you showed these fans in 2006 a segment from the “divas revolution” ten years later, they’d be begging for Lita to not retire.  Thankfully for Lita, she would be given a much better send off years later. She did wrestle again at RAW 1000 and she was even inducted into the Hall of Fame. Thank you Lita indeed.
They showed a clip of Michael Cole interviewing Batista backstage. Batista was scheduled to wrestle King Booker in a title match. Cole asked Batista about having to relinquish his World Heavyweight Championship at the start of the year but Batista didn’t reply. Cole asked a bunch of other questions and got no response. They showed a replay of Booker hitting Batista with the “Royal Scepter.” Batista eventually broke his silence, simply saying “I am leaving tonight World Heavyweight Champion.” A few minutes with questions by Cole and a clip from SmackDown! lead to seven words from Batista to build up the main-event of the show. Lovely.
Team DX (Triple H, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy) vs Team Rated RKO (Edge, Randy Orton, Johnny Nitro, Mike Knox and Gregory Helms) in a Survivor Series elimination match
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CM Punk got a really big reaction when he came out, as did DX. I made the point earlier about all the Lita signs that were taken down. Keeping that in mind, there were some signs which I couldn’t believe were allowed to stay up. The first I noticed was not a bad one or anything. However, it simply read “Nitro = Ratings.” Apparently, there were some big Johnny Nitro fans in the crowd or some old WCW Nitro fans! Whether he was a ratings grabber will be left up for debate.
Team DX were having fun with the crowd before the match started. The Philly crowd was great for this match which really did help. There were some BIG chants for CM Punk. CM Punk even asked the crowd if they were ready. DX did their spiel and told everybody to suck it. Then the heels came out. I couldn’t stop laughing during Gregory Helms’ entrance and it was for his entrance theme. This version of his theme saw Gregory Helms say his name first in such a great way, putting a lot of emphasis on the “Helms” part of his name! I don’t know why I found this to be so funny!
Rated RKO came out with a really cool sounding mash-up theme, as Orton did his pose on the apron. Triple H tried to get Kelly Kelly to show her breasts but Mike Knox got all mad. Shawn super-kicked Knox and quickly eliminated him. This lead to Shawn asking “Who was that?” Triple H simply replied by saying that “He was in the match.”  This was a tremendous burial of poor Mike Knox!
There was an awesome spot with Shawn Michaels and Johnny Nitro, with leapfrogs and stuff. Shawn then slid out of the ring and cuddled Melina, who was not aware that he was cuddling him and thought it was Nitro. They both turned around, with Melina shrieking and Shawn yelling “aaaah.” Shawn’s reaction was magnificent!
It was pointed out that Nitro and Jeff had been in a ladder match on RAW a few days before. Despite this, both men were wrestling in this match and were apparently fine. They weren’t selling that previous ladder match one bit. On the same night that Lita retired, they apparently had to get in a spot with Matt Hardy fighting Edge. Matt Hardy got busted open early. Punk got the hot tag to a big reaction. Punk tapped out Nitro. This saw Team DX have a two man advantage at this point. Jim Ross referred to the Chicago-born Punk as “Young Mr CM Punk.” This made me laugh.
Randy Orton hit the RKO on someone but Shawn Michaels broke up the pin. Triple H got the hot tag. Shawn Michaels and Jeff Hardy did a double dive to the outside with JR referring to the both of them as “Team Extreme.” Matt Hardy eliminated Helms with the Twist of Fate/Swanton combination from the Hardyz. Rated RKO tried to walk out but the Hardyz brought them back into the ring. Shawn superkicked Edge and pinned him. Orton tried to escape through the crowd but they brought him back to the ring. DX hit the Superkick and Pedigree to eliminate him. It was a clean sweep for Team DX.
This was a squash match but it was a pretty entertaining squash match. I think the only man that was really buried following this was Mike Knox. Nitro and Helms at least put up a fight of some sort. Rated RKO were main-eventers anyway, so it wasn’t like it killed any careers or anything. Thumbs up from me. I enjoyed this match.
Match Rating: ***
In case anyone was wondering, this was not the first time where there was a complete clean sweep in a five-on-five Survivor Series elimination match. There were a few in the 1990s. In 2014, there was actually a clean sweep when Team Alicia Fox defeated Team Paige.
Mr Kennedy did an interview with Kristal. Kennedy was scheduled to face the Undertaker in a first blood match. Kennedy said that this was the biggest match of his career. His interview was cut off by MVP. MVP noticed that Kennedy had vaseline all over his face. MVP bragged about beating Kane in a steel cage match. MVP said that he had Kennedy’s back.
Mr Kennedy vs Undertaker in a First Blood match
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Kennedy undid three of the turnbuckles during the entrances. Taker beat up Kennedy and they brawled for a while. There was a lot of head-based offence at the start of the match, which made sense with the stipulation of the match. I remember watching a number of first blood matches were the two wrestlers would just do move after move during the match until the last few moments of the match where they would start target the head! Undertaker and Kennedy were trying to bust each other open early.
With that being said, there was one spot where Kennedy was dropped groin-first onto one of the exposed turnbuckles. One of my major complaints about Kennedy was the fact that he took this move and Kennedy sold by yelling “ooooooh” with a low-pitched voice. I was not a fan of his selling.
Kennedy was busted open in the mouth but MVP came out and wiped his mouth with a towel before the referee noticed. Despite doing this, MVP threw Kennedy back into the ring. Kennedy yelled “oooh” again and he yelled this as if he were Tarzan. MVP came back in and went to hit Kennedy with the chair but he hit Undertaker and busted him open. The referee noticed and called for the bell.
Think about this for a moment. MVP wanted to screw over Kennedy (which was apparently revenge from SmackDown!, when Kennedy screwed over MVP) by initially throwing Kennedy into the ring and then trying to bust him open with a chair. So if MVP’s goal in this match was for Kennedy to lose, why didn’t he simply rat him out for bleeding from the mouth when he came out with the towel? Why did he wipe away the blood when he could have just told the ref that Kennedy was bleeding?
So the fans were booing. MVP ran away as Kennedy beat up Undertaker after the match. Kennedy’s winning announcement was cut off by the Dead Man. Undertaker smacked Kennedy with a chair and “wrapped the chair around the skull” of Kennedy. Taker hit the Tombstone Piledriver and took off his glove to beat him up some more. JBL, being as awesome as ever, then began to berate Teddy Long for what Undertaker was doing!
There were some really bad portions of the match but I can’t hate it or anything as they at least gave us a good post-match beatdown from Undertaker.
Match Rating: **
King Booker was backstage with Queen Sharmell. He vowed to beat Batista and acted all kingly.
Team Cena (John Cena, Sabu, Rob Van Dam, Kane and Bobby Lashley) vs Team Big Show (Big Show, Umaga, Finlay, MVP and Test)
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What’s funny about this show was that despite the ECW announcers not being there, the ECW referee was there and officiating this match! Test looked jacked in this match. There were a few beauties in terms of signs that I noticed. There was a sign which said “Umaga ate my turkey” which was followed up with a “RVD and Sabu are innocent” sign. I guess they were referring to the DUI incident that the two of them had in July 2006. I don’t know how much impact that sign could have several months after the incident!
The SmackDown! referee took Finlay’s shillelagh. There were big pops for Cena and RVD. Kane’s pyro scared Sabu. Cena took it to Umaga early on. This upset Umaga who went crazy and attacked all of Team Cena with a television monitor. This caused Umaga to be DQd. The heels took over and Rob Van Dam was busted open in the mouth. RVD and MVP seemed to mess up an enziguiri. Kane chokeslammed MVP as Cena was arguing with the referee. RVD hit the Frog Splash and pinned MVP. Test pinned RVD with the big boot to eliminate him.
Lashley speared Test on the outside and Sabu pinned Test with a springboard DDT in the ring. Big Show pinned Sabu with a chokeslam. The crowd popped for a showdown between Kane and the Big Show. The chokeslam struggle between the two of them was interrupted by Hornswoggle, who I believe was going by “Little Bastard” at this time. Finlay hit Kane with the shillelagh and Show capitalised to pin Kane. Big Show got a pop for powerslamming Cena. Jim Ross mentioned that Finlay had a “PhD in cheating.” Having studied and worked at a university, I’m curious to see if such a course exists!
Lashley got the hot tag while Cena got boos. Hornswoggle was thrown into Cena, with Lashley spearing Finlay. Lashley pinned Finlay which meant it was down to Cena and Lashley taking on the Big Show. There was an awkward looking double DDT on Show by Cena and Lashley. They followed it up with a much better looking double suplex. Lashley shoulder barged Show which led to Cena FUing Show for the win. Lashley and Cena were the sole survivors.
This was slightly better than what I was expecting. One of the commentary highlights from this show was Jim Ross saying that “We will see a lot more of Lashley at Survivor Series down the road.” It was funny because this was the last time that Lashley ever appeared at Survivor Series! Lashley had left the company by the time that Survivor Series 2007 rolled around! Sorry JR. You were wrong this time!
There was one more sign I noticed before the World Heavyweight title match which said “Discharge the Marine!” I wonder who that is directed to!
Match Rating: **1/2
King Booker (c) w/Queen Sharmell vs Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship. If Batista lost, he would not get another world title match as long as Booker was the champion.
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There was actually a really good video package for this match, with the exception of the fact that they didn’t mention the “last chance” stipulation in it at all. Fortunately, Teddy Long explained it before the match started. He also ruled that if Booker got himself DQ’d
or counted out, Batista would win the championship. Why this was announced on the pay-per-view and not on SmackDown! beforehand is a mystery. I guess it’s for the best, as they probably wouldn’t have mentioned that on the video package either!
There were some more great crowd signs, with a big “BOB” sign being hard to miss. There was also a sign which I noticed that said “Santa isn’t real.” I could only imagine what’d happen if you tried to get this sign into the arena if this was in 2016! You’d be ruffling some serious feathers!
King Booker made his entrance, to which JBL told Michael to “look at the pinkie.” During this long intro, JBL compared King Booker to William Wallace. Batista finally cut off the entrance by attacking him on the entrance ramp. There were “let’s go Booker” chants. Batista went for an early Batista Bomb but Booker rolled out of the way. Booker tried to leave but Sharmell reminded him that he couldn’t get counted out. Booker then took over.
I felt that there were some weird pacing issues between Batista and Booker. Batista was very slow and it seemed that Booker was too quick for him at times. Not the smoothest of matches.
King Booker gave Batista a side-kick which knocked him off the apron. Batista did the comeback to some boos. There was a “We Want Lesnar” sign. Batista did a top rope shoulder barge. Batista hit the Batista Bomb but Booker got the bottom rope. Sharmell threw the belt to Booker. Batista went for a Batista Bomb on Sharmell. As the referee was distracted, Booker tried to hit Batista with the belt but Batista ducked. Batista hit Booker with the belt and won.
It was a very boring match but Batista had a hell of a celebration! It’s hard to believe that this match was picked as the main-event and the fans really weren’t invested into the match until Batista won. This gets a thumbs down for me.
Match Rating: *3/4
This show was pretty darn boring at times. Even with a world title change, it seemed like nothing special really happened on this show. The crowd was great for the majority of this show but the show itself just didn’t live up to their expectations. The World title match was underwhelming and there was not one match that I would consider to be really good. The most entertaining match of the night was essentially a squash match! I would not want to watch this pay-per-view again. Not one of the stronger Survivor Series events in the now 30-year history of the pay-per-view.

Retro Express – WWE Unforgiven 2006

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Unforgiven 2006 was a pay-per-view which I thought way too highly of when looking back in hindsight. It was not like this was a pay-per-view which was bad or anything. If anything, it was just as good as any other average pay-per-view around the time. However, there was a lot of buzz about this particular pay-per-view which I don’t think WWE were able to live up to at the end of the day. This was a show with a lot of memorable moments but the matches that stood out never really stood out as greatly as it probably should have.

WWE Unforgiven

Date: September 17th 2006

Brand: RAW

City: Toronto, Ontario

Attendance: 16,105

Johnny Nitro (c) vs Jeff Hardy for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
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I honestly couldn’t remember who won this match when I watched this pay-per-view at the time. I remember that Jeff did beat Nitro for the title not long after he returned to the company. However, I couldn’t remember if it was on RAW or if it was at Unforigven. I knew that he was the champion going into RAW’s next pay-per-view Cyber Sunday so he must have won it shortly after this.
This was Jeff’s first pay-per-view match back with WWE and he got a huge pop. Nitro wasn’t particularly bad during this time period but this was around the period where Nitro was only just starting to break out on his own. I don’t want to say that wrestling a tag match is easy but in a tag team situation with MNM, Johnny had the help from Mercury and other tag teams to help break up the matches a little. In this situation, Nitro was on his own and he had to be able to work a long match with Jeff. And this was a LONG match. They gave Jeff and Johnny 17 minutes but it honest to god felt like half an hour.
The match wasn’t particular bad but it was unfit for the styles of Jeff and Johnny. They had Nitro get the heat on Hardy for about 75% of the match which was done in the most dragged out way possible. Johnny was given way too much time to get the heat on Jeff. This was proven to be true, as the match actually started out with the fans getting into it with Jeff taking over with arm drags (by the way, Nitro got some serious air-time on these arm drags!). However, by the end of the match as Jeff was making his “comeback”, the fans in Toronto had been taken completely out of the match and there was little reaction until Jeff went for the Swanton Bomb.
Jeff did a lot of wild selling as usually. Nitro drop-kicked Jeff, while Jeff was on the turnbuckle, which resulted in Jeff landing side first on the ropes. That could have ended really badly. Nitro worked over Jeff’s leg for a really long time. Jeff was leaning on the ropes and Nitro kicked in the leg, which resulted in Jeff doing a huge flip and landing on the mat. The next time I watch UFC, I’ll have to see if any of the kicks to the leg will cause one of the fighters to do a flip. What a moment that would be!
Nitro went for the Corkscrew off the top but Jeff moved out of the way. Ironically, Nitro landed on his leg which looked pretty awkward. Jeff started his comeback but as mentioned earlier, the crowd were never really able to get into it until he went for the Swanton. It seemed like a very awkward comeback, with both wrestlers working at very different speeds it seems. Jeff hit the Swanton but Nitro got his feet on the rope. Nitro was kicked into Melina and Jeff went for the roll-up, which was kicked out of by Nitro. Melina then hit Jeff with her boot and Nitro got the pin to retain the title.
I hated this finish for a number of reasons but the biggest issue is the fact that Nitro simply pinned him off the smack with Melina’s boot. Maybe if Melina were to have hit her with the sole of the boot, it would have been enough to put Jeff away. However, at least Nitro should have been able to put his finishing move over. The commentators did try to put Nitro over on commentary and Nitro was able to stay in the match after the Swanton. However, it’s not like anything Nitro ever did led to him winning the match. It’s not like the ten minutes of Nitro working on the leg of Hardy led to the finish. They could have easily done a finish where Melina hit Jeff in the leg with a shoe and then Nitro hit Jeff with his finisher (which I think was the Super Kick) and won. At least the heat Nitro got on Jeff would have been enough to lead to the finish. However, this finish just struggled to get anyone over greatly.
It’s funny because I actually remember hating the finish of a match between Rusev and Dolph Ziggler last year, because Summer Rae had accidentally hit Rusev with her shoe. At least in that finish, Ziggler hit the Zig Zag after the shoe toss in order to win the match. Nitro wasn’t given any of that which hurt his cause.
It was an alright match but it was just a boring match. The ring psychology was there with Nitro working the leg but it just took me out of the match. He just got a bit too much heat on Jeff before the finish. This match should have been a lot shorter. That’s probably the biggest thing that was wrong with this. Putting this on for 17 minutes was just not the way to go.
Match Rating: **1/4
SmackDown! general manager Teddy Long was in the crowd. He was sat in one of the expensive seats all by himself! He was in attendance as if Cena had lost in the main event, Teddy would have Cena signed to his show.
Jeff Hardy was met in the back by Matt Hardy, who was on SmackDown! at the time. I was going to ask why Matt would have been on the RAW PPV but I guess it does make sense with Matt wanting to cheer his brother on. Lita walked in which resulted in the most awkward stable reunion of all time. If you’ll recall, this took place just over a year after the Matt, Edge and Lita incident happened. However, that was not the main reason about why this angle was awkward. You could tell this was an segment that Lita really didn’t want to do, as she felt so uncomfortable when calling Jeff a “screw-up.” She vowed to beat Trish Stratus and said that Edge would beat John Cena to send him packing to SmackDown!, just like he sent Matt packing when he beat him in a Loser Leaves RAW match. Very uncomfortable segment to sit through.
Umaga vs Kane
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The match wasn’t really that bad until the finish, we’ll get onto later. Armando Estrada cut a great promo before the match started. I truly believe that if Armando was brought back by WWE to manage Braun Strowman tomorrow and Armando was given the same gimmick he was given in 2006, Braun would get so over. Armando’s greatest attribute was that he was able to get the fans invested in his client like a good manager should. He didn’t need to cut greatest promo of all time or anything. The best part of his arsenal was his introduction, which everybody at this pay-per-view joined in with. He was so awesome.
The match started off strangely when these two big monsters decided to start the match by engaging in an angry lock-up. I don’t want to bash this match for actually showcasing some traditional wrestling but this really didn’t fit the styles of Umaga and Kane. These two should be starting off the match by just clobbering each other, going blow for blow. That would have helped portray the intensity of these two big men rather than just doing a simple lock-up.
Umaga got the heat on Kane. Umaga even did the Shining Wizard at one point. Kane made the comeback and the fans got really into his comeback. To add to the point I made earlier, Kane just punching away at Umaga in the turnbuckle really got Kane over as these were some impactful looking hits. Now granted, Umaga was usually a great seller back then. However, the point is that it added a lot more to the match more than if these two were to have a standard match. I also liked how Kane’s comeback was effective that it caused Armando’s hat to come off! I repeat, Armando Estrada was so awesome!
Kane hit a dangerous looking belly-to-belly on Umaga which sent him flying over the top rope. Kane and Umaga went into the crowd which caused both men to get counted out. Count out finishes do suck when you put them on pay-per-views but if you follow them up with either an interesting spot or some new development in the feud, you can get away with doing it. However, WWE didn’t give us any of that. Kane and Umaga simply brawled to the back. You expected something big to happen but nothing did. Up until the finish, this was a fine match though.
Match Rating: **1/4
Mr McMahon and Shane McMahon were hanging out backstage, watching a clip from RAW where Vince beat Triple H. He talked about wanting to be “kicking ass and taking names” in their Hell in a Cell match later. He said he was going to play an active role in the match. He buried Canada and basically vowed to decimate DX.
They plugged the theme song of the show, which was “Run” by Days of Fire. I actually liked this song a lot but I was put off a little when Jerry referred to Days of Fire as his new favourite band. Yes, Jerry Lawler was suddenly transformed into a metal rock fan with this new track by Days of Fire. I don’t think Jerry was telling the truth here!
The Spirit Squad (c) vs The Highlanders for the World Tag Team Championship
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This was the closest the Highlanders ever came to winning the tag titles. It’s a shame because I actually liked the Highlanders in this match! It’s just their mannerisms in the ring. When they kept yelling at each other during the match, at least you could tell that they were actually invested in their own gimmick. At least they would go out of there to have fun with their characters, which a lot of wrestlers these days in WWE don’t. They were so into their character that their tag-ins came in the form of slapping each other in the face!
Rory McAllister was the bald one in the Highlanders, with Robbie being the one with long hair. In fact, Jim Ross actually made this clear as soon as they came out! It’s funny as Jim Ross cleared up which Highlander was which for me right away even though they’ve got two different looks, yet Michael Cole never addresses which Uso is which on RAW until one of them gets tagged in during the match.
Mitch and Kenny were the Spirit Squad members involved in this match. They all held the belt at the same time as part of the freebird rule. Even though he came out with the belt on, Nicky (a.k.a. Dolph Ziggler) wasn’t involved in the match. Nothing really exciting about this one. There was on spot where Robbie tried to do a suicide dive to the outside but he hit the floor. The finish was Johnny doing a jump kick on the apron which was followed up by a facebuster by Mikey for the win.
There was really nothing to this match. There was nothing really about this match that really screamed “pay-per-view quality.” It was just a regular tag team match that you would have seen on RAW every week at the time. I will say that the Highlanders sort of seemed like a Scottish version of the Ascension! It’s like if they took Viktor and Konnor from the Ascension and gave the Highlanders gimmick. The chances are, they would have probably had the same result!
Match Rating: *1/2
 
Mr McMahon, Shane McMahon and Big Show vs Shawn Michaels and Triple H in a handicap Hell in a Cell match
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I’ve seen a lot of people online call this the worst Hell in a Cell match of all time which I totally disagree with. I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent here. The whole point of a Hell in a Cell match is for people to use the cell as an offensive ally. The match usually acts as the finale to an intense rivalry, which was the purpose of this cell match. This feud has gotten to a point where all the McMahons, Big Show and DX wanted to do was beat the hell out of each other. If they were to have just had a regular match in that cell, it would have come off so badly. Also if they were to have a simple match, what would be the point of the cell?
This is a huge reason why I do not think highly of the Undertaker/Triple H Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania 28. Those two hardly ever used the cell in their match which took away from the intensity of it. Triple H and Undertaker had built their careers around the Cell so them not using it seemed to ignore the significance of the stipulation. They needed to batter each other just like the McMahons, Show and DX all battered each other.
To summarise this in the best way possible, this was the best you could have done with people like Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Big Show having to work a 20 minute Hell in a Cell match. There were some things that did take me out the match which I’ll get to later.
The highlight of the introductions though was Jim Ross calling Vince “Satan’s role model.” DX low-blowed Big Show which does actually tie in to one of the issues of the match. A lot of DX’s attacks on the McMahons and Big Show were very comedic, which took away from the intensity of the storyline. After Vince had beaten DX with a pipe on RAW a few weeks beforehand and everything Vince had done to them in this storyline, Triple H and Shawn Michaels should want cold-blooded revenge. Instead, they would have moments like Vince McMahon kissing Big Show’s backside which was absurd when considering that this was in fact a Hell in a Cell match.
Shawn and Vince both got “You Screwed Bret” chants. DX low-blowed Big Show a second time. I did like some of the ways DX were beating on the McMahons though. Shawn used the ropes to launch Shane into the cell wall. Vince and Shane bled early. Triple H used a screwdriver on Mr McMahon. This was a case of deja vu for me as one of the last old WWE pay-per-views I watched before this was Survivor Series 2005, where Triple H did the exact same thing to Ric Flair!
Big Show got back into the mix and the heels took over. Shane hit Triple H with the coast to coast which involved a trashcan. DX tried a comeback but the heels cut them off. Shane looked like he was trying either an Angle Slam or a backbreaker but he was struggling to keep Triple H up for the move. I don’t know if Triple H was sand-bagging him (which seems very unlikely) or if Shane was just struggling to get him up.
Vince tried to induct DX into the “Kiss My Ass” club but DX avoided it. Big Show tried to do a big splash to Shawn but Shawn pulled Vince in the way. DX did the comeback. Shane was taken out after Shawn did an elbow to him, with a chair wrapped around Shane’s neck. They took out Big Show and left him hanging on the ropes. They then proceeded to shove Vince’s face in Big Show’s backside. DX won with a Super Kick by Shawn and then a sledgehammer shot by Triple H which actually broke the hammer.
This was an OK match. This was not the worst Hell in a Cell match I ever saw but I did feel that the heel heat was a bit too long in this match as well. Big Show, Vince and Shane getting the heat on DX was quite boring a lot of the time. However, the match accomplished what it was supposed to. The good guys got their revenge on the heels and finished them once and for all, which was a fine way to end the rivalry. This was probably the highlight of the DX/McMahons rivalry as a whole.
Match Rating: ***1/2
Lita (c) vs Trish Stratus for the WWE Women’s Championship
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This match was very much a treat at the time considering the state of the women’s division for the next decade. Unfortunately, this was also Trish’s retirement match. This was a very fitting end to her career, being able to go out in style by winning the Women’s title in Montreal. This crowd loved Trish and this was all fine to watch.
I cannot say that this was the greatest match between Trish and Lita, as I remember them having a fantastic match on RAW in 2004. However, these two worked very hard. Trish worked a  lot harder than she probably should have, considering this was supposed to be her last match. This was evident as she would take bad bumps to the apron and onto the floor.
The finish was great. Throughout the match, Trish kept going for the Stratusfaction, but Lita kept countering it. In her third attempt, Trish reversed into a sunset flip. This was an awesome spot as from a storytelling perspective, it was clear that Trish knew that Lita was just going to keep countering the bulldog. Trish had to think of something new and she did. There’s so many matches nowadays where the babyfaces would try to do the same move over and over again until it worked. Good improvisation.
Lita countered it into a pin but the ref saw Lita’s hands on the rope. Trish countered that into a sharpshooter, which got an incredible pop from the crowd. Lita tapped out and Trish won the belt on her way out. Lillian Garcia was actually in tears when Trish celebrated.
This was a great women’s match and the two women worked very hard. The crowd was really into it so thumbs up from me.
Match Rating: ***
Randy Orton was being interview by Todd Grisham. A little off-topic but does anyone remember the interview Todd did with John Cena around this time where he turned heel and hoped that Cena would lose the title? That was fantastic stuff!
The promo Orton cut seemed a bit odd. Orton claimed that nobody cared about Trish except Canadians. He called Trish a bitch and said that he would make Carlito his in their match later. Orton did a good job in gaining the heel heat but something just felt off about the whole promo.
Randy Orton vs Carlito
 
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This was a decent match between Orton and Carlito. I was not expecting much from this but I did remember the finish of the match which was incredibly executed. The thing about Carlito is that I’ve listened to a number of old Bryan and Vinny Shows as of late going as far back as 2005. The common trend I noticed when listening back to 2005-2006 editions of the show is that Bryan Alvarez was hugely critical of Carlito. It’s funny because I’ve done a few Retro Express reviews from within that period. In the matches Carlito wrestled in, Carlito was fine.
He was not the greatest worker of the night or anything but there was not a lot of things he messed up. He did mess up one of his springboard moonsaults, where he landed with his elbow slamming into Orton’s face. Orton was actually busted open from the mouth with that botch, with Orton seemingly very annoyed at Carlito.
They continued on for a while. Carlito was still busting out all of these springboards to very little reaction. The finish saw Carlito going for another springboard move with Randy catching him with an RKO in mid-air. Orton made the cover to get the win.
This gets a thumbs up for me. It didn’t blow my mind but these two men worked hard. You have to give them credit for that as Carlito was often flacked for not trying hard enough in the ring. The finish was also tremendously pulled off by both men and it really did add to the match as the finish was be the big thing that a lot of fans remember.
Match Rating: **3/4
Edge (c) vs John Cena in a TLC match for the WWE Championship
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I mentioned that Teddy Long was in attendance earlier. He was there because if Cena lost, Cena would be signed to SmackDown! I actually want to break down the logic of this. Teddy was ecstatic because he may be about to get John Cena from RAW as long as Cena LOST his match. From a storyline perspective, wouldn’t it hurt the SmackDown! brand if Cena had lost before coming into the roster?
This TLC match was a great thing to end the pay-per-view with. After months of this feud between Edge and John Cena, Cena finally defied all the odds to win the WWE title in Edge’s hometown and in Edge’s signature match. This was great and simple storytelling, with an appropriate finish to the feud.
John Cena was heavily booed by this Montreal crowd. Both men took some hard bumps. What’s funny after watching this match is the balancing act from WWE to protect John Cena from getting badly hurt but also having him take big bumps himself. If John Cena were to have taken little to no bumps during the match, it would have not gotten Cena over that greatly by the end of the match. However, they did have Cena take some huge spots including getting pushed off a big ladder by Lita and going through the table on the outside. That’s important as the crowd was never going to get behind a babyface that never “paid their dues” by taking a lot of punishment. The fact that Cena did though just made Cena look like a proper badass. Those fans in Montreal ended the night thinking “I hate Cena but he took a hell of a beating.” That’s what gets babyfaces over in modern day professional wrestling. That’s how Roman Reigns eventually got over when he won the WWE World title on RAW. Sadly that period of overness didn’t last long for poor old Roman.
Both men took some nasty hits during this. Edge hit the reverse DDT on Cena onto the chair, which I believe is a lot more painfully than it looks. Edge was innovative as usually in this TLC match, coming off the barricade and dropkicking the ladder in John Cena’s face. There was one bad botch where Edge was going for the sunset flip powerbomb on Cena but Cena held onto the ropes for too long. It was not as bad as the sunset flip spot that Kurt Angle and Scott Steiner once tried in TNA, which ended up being the finish off that match! That was actually followed up by “that was weak” chants from the Impact Zone! The TLC botch was followed up by Edge powerslamming Cena through the table!
Edge ran up the ladder to jump at Cena which seemed like a bit too much effort, when he could have just gotten on the apron or the turnbuckle which would have had the same effect as him running up the ladder. Cena hit the Throwback on the chair. Cena did a ladder guillotine on Edge which also looks way more painful than it seems. Cena followed it up with the STFU with Edge wedged in the ladder.
There was one really stupid looking spot which did take away from the seriousness and intensity of the match. Cena decided that he should give the ladder a FU onto Edge, which was one of the daftest looking things I’ve seen in a TLC match. Why did Cena have to do a move on the ladder when he could have just hit Edge with the ladder? It was more done for comedic purposes, which didn’t fit the intensity of the match and the storyline for that matter. Cena shouldn’t be messing around by giving Edge this move.
Edge responded with a hard, and I mean HARD, chair shot onto Cena. If you guys ever wondered why they banned chair shots to the head, this is why! I commend Cena for taking such a hard chair shot as it looked proper nasty. Edge hit the spear from one ladder to Cena on another ladder which was a much milder version of the Edge/Jeff Hardy spot from Wrestlemania 17. Cena powerbombed Edge onto the ladder. Cena looked like he was going to win when Lita showed up, who pushed Cena off the big ladder which saw him go through the table. That was the spot mentioned earlier.
Cena got back into the ring and Lita hit Cena with the chair. The only problem was that Lita’s chair shot caused Cena to stumble into a ladder that Edge was climbing, and Cena pushed Edge off it and through another table. Cena FUd Lita to take her out of the equation. It was down to a spot where two tables were stacked on top of each other. Edge and Cena battled on the top of a ladder and Cena hit the FU off the ladder and through the two tables. Cena took down the title and won the match.
This was a home run for WWE in terms of ending the feud on a high. There was a lot of issues with this match like the botch mentioned earlier. However, it was as good of a TLC match as you would have gotten out of Edge and Cena at the time. It actually exceeded my expectations at the time and it really did just work so well.
Match Rating: ****1/4
Overall, the pay-per-view was saved by a very eventful second half. The first few matches were very forgettable but it really did pick up with the Hell in a Cell match. There were very memorable aspects about the final four matches, even with Randy hitting the RKO counter on Carlito. This will go down as the show where Vince McMahon competed in a Hell in a Cell match and got his arse kicked. This will go down as the show where Trish Stratus retired after one of her greatest matches ever. This will go down as the show where John Cena hit the FU on Edge and put him through two tables. As a memorable show, this was successful as the most important matches were memorable. It’s not such a tragedy that the Highlanders vs the Spirit Squad wasn’t.
I will not be as bold as to say that this was the best pay-per-view of 2006. There were a number of pay-per-views that surpassed it. However, it’s very plausible to suggest that this was possibly one of the best RAW exclusive shows of the year. RAW came off looking really strong following this pay-per-view, which was really important going into new storylines. Now granted, not all of the storylines that followed were too great. However, fans in 2006 would have been filled with buzz knowing that there would be new storylines to dig into. If you can get your fans excited like that with a pay-per-view, you did a damn good job.
THUMBS UP FROM ME!

Retro Express – Vengeance 2006

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If you wanted to see D-Generation X kicking ass and having fun while they do it, Vengeance 2006 was the pay-per-view for you. If wanted to see two legends collide as part of a heated personal feud, Vengeance 2006 was the pay-per-view for you. If you wanted to see RAW and ECW go to war in a series of matches, Vengeance 2006 was the pay-per-view for you. If you wanted to see all of this compressed into a three hour wrestling show, this was the pay-per-view for you. However, while there was a lot going on at Vengeance 2006, there was a shortage of substance. You got a lot of matches that sounded appealing on paper but rather disappointing in execution.

However, it was not as if this show didn’t have it’s fair share of bright moments along the way. Let’s run down the show.

 

WWE Vengeance

Date: June 25th 2006

Brand: RAW

City: Charlotte, North Carolina

Attendance: 6,800

 

Randy Orton vs Kurt Angle

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This was the first of three RAW vs ECW Matches at Vengeance, with Randy Orton representing RAW and Kurt Angle representing ECW. This was also the rematch from their match at ECW One Night Stand 2006, which Kurt won.

I was not a fan of this match as I thought that it was pretty boring considering that these two were supposed to be top stars at this time. There were boos early on when Randy was hesitant to lock-up with Kurt. Kurt tried a German suplex off the apron to the floor but Orton escaped. Despite this, Kurt hit a simple German suplex him onto the floor anyway. It must have really sucked for Orton to take that.

Angle then suplexed Orton back into the ring. I laughed a lot more than I should have when Kurt was going for a lock-up and Orton simply poked him as he was sizing him up! Randy Orton locked on the vintage Randy Orton headlock for a really long time. I can’t remember what lead to the conversation going in this direction, but Jim Ross told the viewers that the ECW referees were “doing community service!” In case you were wondering!

Kurt Angle then did the belly-to-belly suplex off the top rope which looked awkward as Orton wasn’t really ready for it when he was on the top turnbuckle. After this, Orton undid the turnbuckle itself. Angle then proceeded to hit eight consecutive German suplexes onto Randy Orton. I’ve got to give Kurt a lot of credit as it looked like it was extremely difficult to pull off and it seemed that it took a lot out of Kurt. Even before he did the German suplexes, Kurt seemed a bit gassed to me.

The finish was that Kurt went for the ankle lock but Orton reversed it and sent Kurt flying into the exposed turnbuckle. Orton hit the RKO and beat Kurt Angle. I liked the finish which did bump up the match a little. However, it was rather boring up until that point. I’d hate to say that about a Kurt Angle match but that was the case.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

Vince McMahon was backstage and on the phone, telling whoever was on the other end that “Vengeance is mine sayeth Mr McMahon.” What happened next was when you realised that Vince was a completely different league of his own as a fictional character. A DX fan came in on a wheelchair. What happened next was that Vince McMahon then proceeded to berate a disabled child on pay-per-view.

It really shows you how much the times have changed for WWE. There was an incident last year when Triple H was mean to a little kid in the front row and he apologised to him right away. Vince, on the other hand, was not holding back! After this berating of the handicapped child, Vince grabbed the wheelchair and promised to take him on a “highway to hell.” He pushed this kid as far as he could down a hallway!

Jonathan Coachman, Vince’s right-hand man at the time, came in and told him how he had a family friend that wanted to meet Vince. It turns out that it was the kid in the wheelchair. I honest to god believe that there has been only a select few of fictional villains that have been written to be as evil and crazy as Mr McMahon was at around this period! Vince was such a great heel that you couldn’t help but laugh at him! There will never be someone quite like Vince McMahon!

 

 

Umaga vs Eugene w/Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Doink the Clown and Kamala

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This match, and what happened afterwards, was something else. Umaga came down with Armando Estrada. The fans joined in when Armando told them who he was. Apparently, Eugene said that he was bringing some friends with him to fight Umaga. Armando told Eugene that he could bring Superman, Spiderman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman but he can’t stop Umaga. All of this superhero talk is very fitting right now considering the superhero movie line-up for 2016!

Now when introducing a number of guys, you’d think that the one that will get the biggest reaction would be saved for last. Big example recently was when Steve Austin was the last of a trio of legends introduced at WrestleMania 32 to take down the League of Nations. Austin was obviously going to get the biggest reaction. Eugene introduced Hacksaw Jim Duggan first and he got, by far, the biggest reaction out of the three legends Eugene brought out! Eugene brought out Doink the Clown and then Kamala, with neither man getting a reaction. Hacksaw started “USA” and “Eugene” chants as the match started. Umaga beat up Eugene for a while and hit the Samoan Spike for the win. My first thought after this was “Why were the legends even out there?” As it turns out, they were out there to get beaten up after the match by Umaga (except Kamala). So Eugene’s plan was apparently for the legends NOT to help him during the match but to try and jump Umaga after Umaga had destroyed him. I know it was part of Eugene’s character to not be smart but it was not like any of the announcers mentioned how stupid of a plan this was.

Kamala was the one that scared away Umaga, which actually got a pretty big reaction. It was just so funny to me to see Kamala be the one to scare away Umaga after the match after Umaga mauled three men.

This was essentially a squash match. This seemed like a big waste of pay-per-view time to me. The legends brought in provided nothing to the match. Umaga looked like a chump for backing down from Kamala, in my opinion. I suppose if you just wanted to see Kamala, Doink and Hacksaw Jim Duggan then I suppose this match was a success.

Match Rating: ½*

 

Todd Grisham interviewed Mick Foley. Foley read something from Ric Flair’s book. If you’ll recall, there was real-life heat between Mick and Ric over what Ric had written about Mick. Ric had called him a “glorified stunt-man” and Mick vowed to out-wrestle Ric Flair in their 2 out of 3 falls match.

 

Mick Foley vs Ric Flair in a 2 out of 3 falls match

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Boy, was this ever something. The match was in Flair’s hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. There was a “If Flair Loses, We Riot” sign in the crowd. Flair’s family was even there including a young Charlotte in the crowd. Future Divas Champion Charlotte was actually in the crowd for Vengeance 2006!

There were a number of “Foley sucks” chants which were RARE in WWE. It’s like when Undertaker got booed on RAW last year. It was just one of those things that you’d never expect to hear.

The match was very slow-paced. Mick Foley could barely move. Ric Flair was approaching his sixties when this match took place. The match lasted six minutes but it honestly felt like it was going for twenty. It actually astonishes me that TNA decided that putting this match together a few years later was a great idea. Did anyone in the company not look at this match, the physical conditioning of Ric and Mick and question whether this match was a good idea?

Foley hit the double arm DDT. Foley whipped out Mr Socko, who looked like Ric Flair. Flair grabbed Foley in the nuts and did his comeback. Flair successfully jumped off the top. Foley took over and went for the Figure Four Leg Lock. Flair countered it into the roll-up for the first fall. Flair did another roll-up after the first fall and both of these roll-ups looked so freaking slow.

Flair whipped Foley into the steel steps. This was a probably a lot more painful than it seemed for Foley. They brawled into the crowd and Foley back-dropped Flair onto the floor. It’s shocking how many drops to the floor Flair was taking in the later years of his in-ring career. Foley brought out a trashcan, but this was not no disqualification. Flair went for the Figure Four but Foley hit Ric with the trashcan. Flair won the second fall as Mick was disqualified. Foley continued the attack and hit Flair with the barbed wire bat. Flair started bleeding like crazy. The referees and road agents came out to try and stop Foley. We actually got a small “Foley” chant followed by a BIG “Foley sucks” chants! Mixed messages!

Match Rating: *3/4

 

Maria interviewed Carlito. Maria gave us her theory on the “cool paradox” which baffled Carlito. Carlito simply stated that nothing could be cooler than him winning the Intercontinental Championship next. Maria questioned Carlito’s claim which led to Torrie Wilson appearing dressed in a bikini. Torrie asked someone to help with putting baby oil on her for a photo shoot. Torrie asked Carlito’s to hold her puppies, which were in fact her two dogs. Maria ended up rubbing the baby oil on Torrie with Carlito giving commentary during the whole thing and simply stating “That’s cool.” Torrie ended up rubbing Maria with baby oil. This was interrupted by Carlito’s music playing for his Intercontinental title match and Carlito was upset about leaving. This was a great few minutes with Maria and Torrie. They both looked stunning here.

This was where the logic part of my brain started to take over. As I was watching Torrie rub baby oil on Maria, my first thought was “Why did Torrie need to rub baby oil on Maria?” I UNDERSTAND that sometimes you have to not think about wrestling logically and this was CERTAINLY one of those situations, but something just didn’t seem right to me!

 

 

Shelton Benjamin ( c ) vs Carlito vs Johnny Nitro w/Melina for the Intercontinental Championship

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This really was a great match. The three men did try hard for this one. I forgot how bad Shelton’s entrance attire was around this time. Shelton was wearing sunglasses, jewellery and Hawaiian shirts on his way down to the ring which I thought made him look so stupid. I don’t understand the mindset of the person who looked at Shelton and thought, “This guy needed to wear sunglasses down to the ring.” This was not the look for a future main-eventer. This was the look of a complete geek.

There was still some blood in the ring from the Foley/Flair match. Melina checked on Nitro for a while during a good portion of the start of the match. Nitro tried to attack but was backdropped by Carlito while Carlito had Shelton in a head-lock. Nitro threw Carlito into the ring-post and said “That’s Cool.” Carlito did a springboard senton dive to the outside on Nitro and Shelton to a incredible big pop and even “Holy Shit” chants.

The crowd were really into this match, especially when Carlito did a hurricanrana in the ring. Shelton hit the T-Bone Suplex on Nitro to the outside. There was a quality spot where Nitro monkey-flipped Shelton into a Carlito dropkick. This spot was sensationally surpassed by what came next. Carlito and Nitro were battling on the top rope and Nitro was hung upside down. Shelton then jumped onto the top rope to battle Carlito and was going for a superplex. Then Nitro leapt up and launched both men with a spider German suplex. That was awesome and got, BY FAR, the biggest reaction of the night.

Carlito did his comeback after selling for 30 seconds following the big suplex spot. I honestly think that Carlito should have sold for a much longer period of time after taking the brunt of the move. Carlito did the double reverse elbow springboard onto Shelton and Nitro. Carlito hit the backcracker but Nitro pulled Carlito out of the way and stole the pin. This was the best match of the night at this point by a huge mile. This was where the pay-per-view really started to turn around. Great stuff. This was a fun match.

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

The Spirit Squad were involved in a “Destroy DX” huddle when Vince walked in. He gave the Spirit Squad a pep talk. Vince called DX a disease like a bird flu and told the group to cure it. Vince took a “Pistol Pump” into the bathroom, which was in fact a penis pump. This was not PG in the slightest! There was an explosion in the bathroom with Vince coming out with green spray all over his face. You really can’t make this stuff up.

 

Rob Van Dam ( c ) vs Edge for the WWE Championship

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Edge cut a promo where he buried North Carolina. He compared them to ECW. Edge promised a live sex celebration when he won. Again… not PG in the slightest!

This was a pretty good match. There were some cool-looking spots like Edge landing on his feet after a monkey flip, which is impressive considering the fact that Edge is 6’5. It was a very good start to the match with some nice exchanges. Edge did a sunset flip powerbomb on Rob Van Dam TO THE FLOOR. This was pretty dangerous looking and RVD is a trooper for taking that spot. Edge took over. Jerry Lawler was talking about Edge and Lita which saw Jim Ross cut off Jerry and say (and this is a quote): “Is everything in your life about sex?” I was brought to tears after Jim Ross said this and his follow up line was “We’re in the middle of a WWE Championship match and you want to talk about sex?” Moments like this were why Jim Ross was so tremendous on commentary.

Rob Van Dam hit a cross-body on Edge over the top and to the outside. Rob Van Dam and Edge were both great wrestlers in the fact that they were willing to put their bodies on the line in order to get the best they could out of a match. It’s very unadvisable for wrestlers to take bumps like these but they took all kinds of hard bumps during this match. RVD went for the barricade leg drop but Edge moved out of the way.  Edge threw Rob Van Dam to the outside, with RVD landing hard. Edge powerbombed RVD onto the barricade. RVD did a comeback and went for the Frog Splash but Edge moved out of the way. RVD improvised and went for an altered version of the Rolling Thunder where he landed on Edge’s back.  RVD went for the wheel kick but he hit the ref. Lita got the WWE title for Edge but RVD hit the Vandaminator with the belt. Lita stopped Rob from doing the Frog Splash and Edge hit a hanging DDT similar to what Orton usually does. The referee crawled to make the count but Rob kicked out. Lita held up the chair, with the plan being that Edge was going to spear Rob into the chair but Rob moved and Edge went face first into the chair. RVD took advantage and hit the Frog Splash for the win.

Good match which really should have went on last when looking back in hindsight. Both men tried really hard and it was a shame that the WWE title match played third-fiddle to Cena/Sabu and DX/Spirit Squad as it was much better than both of those matches.

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

The ECW roster celebrated RVD’s win with the chant of “RVD, ECW” until Paul Heyman showed up. He told the roster that it was “one down and one to go” which apparently meant that Kurt Angle’s match with Orton meant nothing to ECW! He gave the ECW lumberjacks a pep talk going into the Extreme Lumberjack match later on in the show.

 

Kane vs Impostor Kane

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This was the one downside to the second half of the show. The Kane vs Impostor Kane storyline was pretty ridiculous, which I think everyone, including Kane, will agree. However, their match wasn’t actually that bad. It was not great if you looked at the star rating I gave it. However, it was certainly not the worst match on the show. That’s a fact. It was just very boring and part of a storyline which got zero heat.

Kane tried to unmask the impostor with the crowd chanting “take the mask off.” Lawler tried to claim that everything Impostor Kane did was exactly like the real Kane which was completely false as Impostor Kane wrestled nothing like the real Kane other than when he hit the chokeslam and did a sit up. It’s funny because when WCW did the angle with the Impostor Sting that had joined the nWo, this Sting actually wrestled like the original Sting did! Impostor Kane tried his best but his attacks looked nothing like the real Kane’s.

There were some boring chants. I’ll give the match credit in that it gave us an interesting and unusual finish. Impostor Kane caught real Kane as he was coming off the top rope and hit the chokeslam, pinning him as clean as a sheet. WOW.

Match Rating: **

 

There were actually rumours that Glenn Jacobs (a.k.a Kane) was actually contemplating retirement around the time. In order for the Kane character to live on, they came up with the idea to bring in a new Kane to debut and to have it be revealed that the Glenn Jacobs “Kane” had imprisoned the real Kane many years ago, stealing his identity. Thankfully, Kane decided against retiring and these plans never came into fruition because this storyline got hardly any heat.

Fun Fact: the man that actually played “Impostor Kane” was in fact Doc Gallows. This is the same Doc Gallows that would go on to become Festus and eventually Luke Gallows in WWE. He became D.O.C. as part of Aces and Eights in TNA and then became “Doc Gallows” in Japan. Now this man is coming back to WWE as a much bigger deal than he was when he left. Good for him!

 

 

John Cena vs Sabu in an Extreme Lumberjack match

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The video package for this was put together really well. The ECW lumberjacks came out first followed by Sabu, with the RAW lumberjacks coming out followed by John Cena. Sabu jumped Cena during his entrance.

Then there was a very stupid moment, in terms of the booking of this match. Cena threw Sabu into the RAW lumberjacks and the lumberjacks just threw him back in. Sabu then threw Cena out into the ECW lumerbjacks and the lumberjacks just kicked the crap out of him and Sandman hit him with a Singapore cane. This made the RAW lumberjacks come off as complete idiots as they just stood there as Cena was getting his arse kicked by the ECW guys. Jim Ross made a comment saying that there was nothing anyone can do about it as it is extreme rules. Actually there was. Instead of just standing there, WHY DIDN’T THE RAW LUMBERJACKS JUST ATTACK THE ECW LUMERJACKS? The RAW and ECW guys got into a brawl during the match anyway, so why didn’t they stop Cena from getting beat up by attacking the ECW stars? The RAW stars looked like complete idiots.

Sabu did his triple-jump chair moonsault and the Arabian Facebuster. As mentioned, a brawl kicked off between the lumberjacks. Cena got involved and hit the FU on Stevie Richards into the crowd. Sabu attacked Cena with the chair and did one of his crazy chair throws into Cena’s face. A table was set up and Sabu was going for a dive but Cena cut him off by hitting him with a Singapore Cane. Cena FU’d Sabu through the table on the outside. Cena got a “You Fucked Up” chant after Sabu landed on his backside on the edge of the table. Sabu tapped to the STFU. Cena won.

It had only been two weeks or so since ECW was brought back full time, and it had already lost credibility coming off of Vengeance. RAW won two out of the three inter-promotional matches and Sabu tapped out to Cena. This was not a great night for ECW.

It was a decent match though, despite some questionable booking.

Match Rating: **3/4

 

RVD confronted Cena backstage and praised Cena for confronting the ECW locker room a week before and for taking the verbal abuse at ECW One Night Stand. He offered him a rematch for the WWE title on RAW the next night which Cena accepted.

NOTE: The match between RVD and Cena on RAW ended in a disqualification, when Edge jumped Cena. This lead to a triple threat match a week or two later, when Edge ended up winning RVD’s WWE Championship.

 

DX (Shawn Michaels and Triple H) vs Spirit Squad (Kenny, Johnny, Mitch, Nicky and Mikey)   

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DX got special fireworks for their entrance. Triple H and Shawn Michaels decided who was going to start with a good old game of rock, paper and scissors. Michaels chopped the hell out of Mitch. Mitch’s response was to throw perhaps the worst punches in professional wrestling history. These punches made Shane McMahon’s punches seem go great.  Things started breaking down at it appears that Johnny from the Spirit Squad got legitimately punched in the face during this as he was bleeding from the nose.

In one of the lamest parts of the show, Johnny got involved and put on a karate bandanna. This “scared” Shawn Michaels into tagging Triple H. Johnny then started demonstrating karate moves until Triple H punched him in the face. This lasted for at least a minute and it is a minute I cannot take back unfortunately. This made it onto a WWE pay-per-view. Think about that.

Triple H pulled down Johnny’s trousers to reveal… the rest of his gear. Mikey pulled an awesome face when Shawn Michaels dropped him on the barricade. To put into perspective how much of a joke this stable looked, it took four men to Irish whip Triple H into the steel steps. Shawn got the hot tag and dropped the elbow. As he was tuning up the band, the Spirit Squad got involved. They pulled out Shawn and Kenny hit him with the chair while the referee’s back was turned. Jim Ross pointed out that the referee couldn’t see it, which is why he couldn’t disqualify the Spirit Squad. I’d just like to point that HE COULD HEAR IT! Couldn’t have he just turned around, seen Kenny with the chair and Shawn Michaels down, and put two and two together?

The Spirit Squad took over as Mikey did a springboard bulldog using the trampoline. For a brief moment we got a dream match as Shawn Michaels took on Nicky, who would later become Dolph Ziggler. Shawn did a double elevating DDT to Johnny and Mitch. Triple H got the hot tag and ran wild. Mikey tried to do a springboard senton to Shawn Michaels, but Shawn moved out the way and Mikey launched himself into the rest of the Spirit Squad. Kenny was left alone in the ring with Shawn and Triple H. Triple H and Shawn both hit their finishers on two members of the Spirit Squad and got the pin. DX dominated the stable afterwards and DX had Mitch kiss Triple H’s arse. Vince McMahon congratulated them and told them that he would see them on RAW.

The match was what the fans wanted and they were popping big time for DX. It was rather childish at times but it worked with this crowd. It was a success as far as what it set out to accomplish but I’d hardly call it main-event worthy. It did seem a bit too cheesy to be a believable PPV main event but nevertheless, the crowd loved it.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

I have seen far worse pay-per-views in my life time than this one, but this seemed like a pay-per-view that should have been a lot better in execution. When you have the likes of Mick Foley, Ric Flair, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Edge, Rob Van Dam, Kurt Angle and Randy Orton all on the same show, you’d expect something much better. With that said, there was only one match which was really bad and that was the Umaga vs Eugene match. Everything else seemed fine but only a few of those matches seemed pay-per-view fine.