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.

 

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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 – 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.

07/09/2015 RAW REVIEW – A Great Day For The New Day, A Bad Day For Seth Rollins

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Hello everybody. Welcome to the RAW review. This RAW was a very special RAW for me. It was one of the rare occasions where I stayed up and watched this live. I’m from the UK and RAW is on over here at 1am and finishes at 4. I rarely get a chance to watch it live and I figured that I’d give it a watch. The last two episodes of RAW were actually good so I stayed up for this one because of a lot of things. I heard Sting was going to be on the show, which he was. I knew the New Day were going to be on and be the most entertaining act of the night, which they were. I was expecting a few surprises, and there was. However, all of that could not save this show from possibly being the worst episode of RAW in years.

I give credit where credit’s due. I usually try to maintain a positive outlook on WWE. I’m an optimist and I hope for the best. However, this show was a massive disappointment. This show was following great work from the last couple of weeks and this was supposed to be the “Season Finale” of RAW. I should be over the moon about how great the New Day were. However, everything else on this show really didn’t hit the mark. Let me cut to the chase. Seth Rollins’ promo at the start of the show just set the tone for this really embarrassing episode of RAW. Keep in mind, WWE had stars like Sting, Triple H, John Cena, Edge, Christian, The Dudley Boyz, Randy Orton and so many others in their disposal. Yet somehow, the crowd seemed dead for this show. I don’t blame them for not caring about this show and it all started with the Seth Rollins promo at the start.

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Seth Rollins has really stepped up his game in terms of his promos in the last few months. The fans were invested into everything he had to say. He was a joy to listen to. Tonight however, he was not. Seth’s promo revolved around him talking about how he was “special” and complained about Sting stealing his statue. Last week, Seth found out that he would be defending both his WWE World and US titles on the same night against Sting and John Cena respectively. This promo should have been put in place to allow Seth to get out his frustrations about the whole deal. He’s the victim of this whole thing as he has to wrestle two healthy WWE stars on the same night, and he dedicated most of this promo complaining about a statue.

Sting interrupted and cut a goofy promo about the statue. I liked Sting during this show. He was the mixture of craziness and goofiness that made him a hit on this show. It was sort of like his deal in TNA as “Joker” Sting, but it was a lot less tamer. That was fine because it’s humour that the WWE’s PG audience would find entertaining. I have no problem with all of this.

Sheamus then came out to confront Rollins. Sheamus and Seth Rollins may possibly be an upcoming MAIN EVENT feud for WWE. Sheamus could possibly cash in on Rollins, become the Authority’s new favourite and lead to Seth Rollins’ big face turn. This could be a program in the near future. To get you excited about the possibility of this feud, WWE put on the most embarrassing back-and-forth I think I’ve seen all year long. This was involving MAIN EVENTERS! All they did was just call each other stupid and Sheamus joked about Ronald McDonald being a relative of his. This segment made Sheamus to look like a complete joke. I felt so bad for the guy. However, things would get worse for Sheamus later on in the show…

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Seth Rollins was forced to wrestle twice in one night tonight. He wrestled Ryback in a decent champion vs champion match. Seth is just one of those wrestlers that can have a decent match with anyone. He’s creative enough that he can make Ryback look good in there. Ryback didn’t really mess anything. Ryback WON after Sting popped up on the titantron. I had no problem with the finish. Ryback’s roll up was A LOT better than the roll up in the finish of the divas match between Sasha Banks and Paige (we’ll get on to that later). I only had a few problems with this match. Firstly, this match featured the holders of THREE of the top titles in WWE. You’d think a match featuring these two important figures in the WWE would go on LAST? When was the last time you saw a match which featured a WWE World Heavyweight Champion, a US Champion and a Intercontinental Champion? This should have had a lot more build and it was kind of offending that this went on first with little promotion before hand other than word of mouth from Stephanie. Secondly, there was NO development in this new feud involving Ryback and Kevin Owens. Other than Kevin Owens eating an apple and confronting Ryback before his match, nothing else happened. Kevin didn’t do anything to really get Ryback’s attention other than verbal remarks. Surely he should have ATTACKED him after this match? I guess not…

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Paige vs Sasha Banks actually opened the show. I think I’m probably just going to jump around a lot in this episode so bare with me. This match was an OK match. These two are very good workers and this REALLY should be the feud for the Divas Championship. It was an OK match… until the finish. Paige hit the RamPaige onto Sasha when Naomi got into the ring and distracted Paige. Sasha took advantage with a MESSY roll up to score the pin. The pin looked like both Paige AND Sasha’s shoulders were on the mat. It looked to me like it was a draw. Maybe that was the intent, as Paige complained about the finish and Sasha’s shoulders being on the mat afterwards. However, none of the commentators brought this up on commentary. The PCB never seemed to protest this as Paige was just upset in the ring. It just looked like a really bad roll up which they tried to cover up afterwards on SOCIAL MEDIA with a verbal spat from Paige.

I also have an issue with Naomi’s run in. Did we really need the distraction to be a deciding factor in the finish of this match? Naomi’s getting in the ring should really just be the spot which would lead to Sasha taking over and getting herself the heat on Paige. It should not really be a part of the finish. It’s not like Naomi attacked Paige or anything, like Tamina had earlier on. She got in the ring, she got back out and Sasha rolled up Paige for the win. One last thing about this match. Sasha has now been Paige TWICE on RAW in the last month as well as Nikki Bella in a non-title match a few weeks ago. I understand this is scripted entertainment but surely that should put Sasha in contention for a title shot. I feel really bad for Sasha and her group, who are apparently having to play third-fiddle to the PCB and Team Bella.

Speaking of the PCB and Team Bella, Nikki would talk about breaking AJ’s record title reign next week and put up the Bellatron. She announced a Bellabration until she was interrupted by the PCB. Charlotte announced that she would be getting a title shot next week on RAW, meaning Nikki’s title reign could end just hours before breaking the record. I personally don’t think Charlotte should win the title right now. If you read my recent article on Charlotte (at this link), you can see why. Her winning the title next week might be a big moment for her but I don’t think it’ll help her in the long term. However, I am glad we’re finally getting a Divas Championship match next week!

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Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns SQUASHED The Ascension in a tag team match. This was ridiculous for so many reasons. Firstly, the Ascension had just began a stable with Stardust on SmackDown! I love how the majority of this show featured replays of the events that took place on SmackDown!, yet the writers on RAW seemed to neglect the events of SmackDown! here as the Ascension didn’t appear with Stardust! There was no mention of the group forming and it was just typical business as usual for the Ascension. You’d think if they were wanting to push this new stable, the Ascension would maybe pick up some wins first and build themselves up. That didn’t happen tonight as Roman and Dean squashed them in a matter of minutes!

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Bray Wyatt appeared, vowing to take out everyone thinking of joining Roman and Dean’s crusade. Randy Orton was shown talking to Ambrose and Reigns prior to his match with Sheamus.

The funny thing is just before RAW started, I listened to Steve Austin talking about this Randy Orton/Sheamus feud and he was bang on the money. There was NO storyline involved, there was no new developments after Sheamus beat Orton at Summerslam. It’s not like Sheamus beat Orton by cheating at Summerslam either. He just won clean giving Orton no logical reason for wanting a rematch. It was just incredibly frustrating watching what these men were being put through. I don’t blame the fans for not caring about this match.

Firstly, the match itself was OK. It was worse than their Battleground and Summerslam matches but it was an alright TV match. However, it was just so hard to get invested into this match. It’s also incredibly hard to consider Sheamus as a possible top main event heel when he cuts promos during matches saying “I don’t look stupid”. This was very bad because Sheamus is supposed to be this tough, Irish brawler. He’s supposed to love a good old fight more than anything else. He’s like Finlay with his mean attitude. With that being said, why on earth would Sheamus care about the fans calling him out on his looks? It completely contradicted the character that he has developed ever since he debuted. Interim UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor would not get distracted in a UFC fight if the fans started chanting “You look stupid”. He doesn’t care about how he looks. He cares about beating people up and dominating in the UFC. Sheamus should have the same mentallity. He certaintly should have the same mentality if he’s supposed to WIN the WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP!

 actually began trending on Twitter following this match. This is how uninterested people were in this match. Orton won with an RKO and was immediately attacked by the Wyatts. I guess this was because he was talking to Dean and Roman before backstage. Whether this leads to Randy actually joining Dean and Roman remains to be seen.

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I do want to mention probably the greatest segment I’ve seen all year long in WWE. It was a four minute backstage segment and it followed Seth losing to Ryback. He was looking for Sting when the New Day showed up. They were trying to get Seth riled up about their six man tag team match against John Cena and the Prime Time Players. Seth got angry and he was then confronted by Edge and Christian. Seth’s bad night continued when he chickened out of a fight with someone with a serious neck problem so serious that one shock could lead to Edge being paralyzed. Way to put over your champion…

The New Day and Edge and Christian began a music battle, pitting Xaiver Woods’ trombone against Edge and Christian’s kazoos. Big E tried to eat the Kazoos when the Dudleyz showed up. They announced that the New Day would be defending the titles next week against the Prime Time Players. The Dudleyz, Edge and Christian began singing a song about breaking tables which was a very cheerful moment. This segment was… magical. The New Day was just incredible during this entire show. Sadly this segment was followed up by Summer Rae…

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know of my deep disdain for this Ziggler/Rusev/Lana angle. When Lana was revealed to be injured and out for four months, I was hoping that they’d just wrap up this storyline. I jokingly said that WWE might drag this storyline out for four months until Lana is back and is able to have her first match. However, when I saw this angle with Ziggler, Rusev and Summer Rae, I have a feeling they’ll actually probably do that! This LONG segment ended with Ziggler attacking Rusev and then Ziggler vs Rusev being announced for Night of Champions.

I understand that there’s not actually been a clear winner between Rusev or Ziggler in this entire storyline. Their match at Summerslam ended in a double count out and Ziggler won by DQ on RAW last week. What would be logical is that this match would be made NO DISQUALIFICATION so there MUST be a winner. However, it was just announced as a standard match like all the other ones! If you’re going to do this match for a THIRD TIME, can you at least make it a little bit different? Throw in a stipulation or something. Because all of this will need to nothing positive if their match at Night of Champions doesn’t truly represent the pent-up “emotion” from Rusev and Ziggler. These two have hated each other for months. They’d want to just beat each other up. Why do the exact same match for the second PPV in a row?

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The Dudley Boyz beat Los Matadores. When Los Matadores came out with El Torito, I was PRAYING that Bubba would put El Torito threw a table! I was sadly disappointed. After the Dudleyz won, Diego was angry at El Torito and started pushing Torito around. This was apparently the big heel turn of Los Matadores. This was shortly followed up with the Dudleyz putting Diego through a table. What a way to turn heel…

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Cesaro and The Miz wrestled to a double count out when the Big Show interfered. The Miz ran into the crowd and because Cesaro was outside too, it was ruled a double count out. After seemingly turning face once more, Show KO’d Cesaro and just walked off. This match needed to happen… why? What was the benefit to EITHER of one these wrestlers? What was the benefit of Big Show running out to run off The Miz and then KO Cesaro. This helped… NO ONE.

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We had the six man tag team match main event, with the Prime Time Players and Cena taking on Rollins and the New Day. The New Day were hilarious throughout this match. The match itself wasn’t actually that bad but the fans around that time in the show was just drained. You could tell as the fans barely had enough energy to chant “John Cena Sucks” during Cena’s entrance. Xaiver Woods was just the start of this match and he wasn’t even in the match itself! There was a spot where Xaiver began playing the trombone to the rhythm of the moves his team mates were doing. You’ll have to go and watch the match itself to see how magical it all was. It added so much life into the match. It was weird seeing Cena getting beaten up until TITUS O’NEIL got the hot tag. Shocking. To be fair, Titus usually has awesome hot tag moments so I didn’t mind. The match ended with Cena catching Kofi and hitting the AA for the win. This was followed by Sting appearing on the screen one FINAL TIME to crush Seth Rollins’ status. That was the end to RAW.

I was going to talk about the ending of RAW itself in a bit more detail but I might just wrap things up now. All I can say is that this show was so draining. There was little for the fans to get excited for. Seth Rollins got completely buried throughout the entire night. There were a lot of screwed up finishes. Some horrid storylines continued and it was a true let down when considering how great the last two shows have been. This show gets a MASSIVE thumbs down. All I can say is that next week’s RAW has to be REALLY good in order to get people into Night Of Champions…

Wrestling Flashback – The SmackDown! Six

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In 2002, the WWE draft would have a major impact on WWE television. Gone were the days of competition from WCW. With the contracts of WCW talent being bought out by the WWE, it became apparent that all of these stars couldn’t possibly be given the chance to perform. With the entire roster working on all of the TV shows, there was little opportunity for lower-card talent to get an on-screen appearance on RAW or SmackDown! There was simply too big a roster to deal with. The WWE draft came up with a solution… split the roster down the middle creating two separate brands called RAW and SmackDown!

Another potential reason for the roster split was down to the ratings for RAW and SmackDown! taking a huge hit coming off the “Attitude Era”. According to Paul Heyman, who became the head writer of SmackDown! in 2002, SmackDown! was facing cancellation as the writing team was split up to serve both brands. Internally, all eyes were on RAW and Heyman’s job was to “take SmackDown! of their plate”. With the need to feature everybody and pressure on both WWE’s two flagship shows, the brand wars was on.

With all eyes on RAW, Paul Heyman was left with Stephanie McMahon to build up the stars that the “powers-that-be” didn’t see a lot of potential in. When the time was right, WWE could eventually pluck out these stars for their “flagship” show RAW. One of the first examples of this was when Chris Jericho was moved to RAW from SmackDown!, after finishing up a great rivalry with the up-and-comer Edge. Paul protested this move as Jericho was making Edge into a legitimate star on SmackDown! However, Heyman was offered a “compensation” for losing the main-event star Jericho. Heyman wanted Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero (who were, according to Heyman, the “nWo’s whipping boys” at the time on RAW) in exchange for losing Jericho. Heyman saw a lot of potential in Benoit and Guerrero, while the RAW writers didn’t. With the trade agreed and Benoit and Guerrero “stolen” by SmackDown! General Manager Stephanie McMahon, the table was set for Heyman to take these stars to the next level.

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The funny thing about looking back at 2002 is the relaxed booking from Paul Heyman compared to the frankly desperate attempts for ratings on RAW. Heyman didn’t have to resort to featuring HLA or a storyline about necrophilia in order to grab ratings. All it took for Heyman was simple story-telling and build up which resulted in more eye balls watching SmackDown! to see the intensity of these stories build over time. And the reason that’s so funny is because NXT is trumping WWE’s flagship shows right now for the very simple reason. Why do you think the fans of Brooklyn went nuts for Bayley vs Sasha Banks at NXT TakeOver while they paid little attention to the Divas Revolution on Summerslam and RAW?

Heyman allowed the action in the ring to tell the stories for the viewers, and the viewers understood the story-telling very well. Michael Cole and Tazz didn’t need to talk about the storylines as much and could refocus the viewer’s attention to the match. That’s what made them such a great pairing.

Heyman’s most notable claim to fame as SmackDown! head writer was the introduction of the SmackDown! tag team division. RAW never really had a strong tag team division of it’s own at the time as it was mostly considered an after-thought by the writers. This was Heyman’s chance to seize the moment. With Guerrero and Benoit now apart of the roster and Rey Mysterio being brought into the company in July, Heyman could bring them together in a tag team environment in order to push them as singles stars. Rey Mysterio was teamed up with Edge, with the both of them being strong fan favourites and possessing a unique chemistry as a tag team. Eddie Guerrero was thrown into the mix too, with his nephew Chavo being promoted up to the main roster as well. These two tag teams naturally clicked together but what about Chris Benoit? Having just turned in face in mid-2002, who could Benoit team up with in this tag team division? Well, in a move that could benefit everyone, Paul decided to interject one of his main-eventers into that tag team scene to team with the “Rabid Wolverine”. That way, it would be more acceptable for all of these men to be featured in the main events on SmackDown! This main eventer… was Kurt Angle.

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Chavo Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio in the main event of SmackDown! would have seemed a bit of a fantasy considering the stars like Brock Lesnar and Undertaker on the show. But Rey Mysterio vs KURT ANGLE would have worked as Kurt already had the star power to justify his position in the main event. Putting him up against Rey, Edge, Eddie or Chavo would also give them the main event spotlight too, resulting in the stock of all these men rising as individuals. That way, their rise to success as singles star moved along in a much faster rate in that tag team scenario.

It was truly masterful to see how Heyman used the tag team division as a means to get these six into the main events of SmackDown! From a business standpoint, the SmackDown! six delivered when it came to ratings and merchandise. There was heavy competition for SmackDown! at the time, including the final season of “Friends”. However, the ratings were holding and everybody in that tag team scenario benefited immensely. While RAW was up against the ropes, SmackDown! was pulling out all the punches.

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The storyline itself was introduced when Stephanie McMahon announced a tag team tournament to crown the first ever WWE Tag Team Champions. Edge and Mysterio were partnered up and Eddie sided with Chavo. However, Stephanie McMahon also decreed that Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle would be a tag team in the tournament too. This wound up both men as they had been feuding at that point. Stephanie ruled that Kurt and Benoit would be suspended for a year without pay if there were any physicality between them. However, Benoit and Angle proved to be a formidable tag team. Despite their differences, they were able to make it to the final by defeating Los Guerreros. At No Mercy, Benoit and Angle defeated Edge and Mysterio in the final to become the first ever WWE Tag Team Champions.

Angle and Benoit would be presented with a trophy to commemorate their tournament win. However, things would break down after Angle and Benoit began arguing about who was the “captain” of the team. This would lead to Stephanie being accidentally smacked in the face with the trophy. Stephanie responded by slapping both men and booking a match for them to settle their differences “the old fashioned way”. However, Los Guerreros would get involved which led to further brawling later that night. Edge and Rey Mysterio were able to capitalize on Angle and Benoit’s troubles, winning a 2 out of 3 falls tag match on SmackDown! to win the tag titles. This led to a triple threat tag team match at Survivor Series between Edge and Mysterio, Benoit and Angle and Los Guerreros for the tag titles. The Guerreros finally got the job done, winning the match and the titles.

Each of these men would go on to establish themselves as singles stars and all of these men would end up winning world titles later on in their careers. Kurt Angle had already been a WWE Championship before the “SmackDown! Six” but did go on to win the WWE Championship again just a month later at Armageddon. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero won world championships in 2004, with the two of them closing out Wrestlemania XX as World Heavyweight Champion and WWE Champion respectively. Edge and Rey Mysterio would win their first world titles in 2006 and Chavo Guerrero would win the ECW Championship in 2008.

It seems then that Heyman succeeded in elevating all six of these men as singles stars, after grouping them as tag teams first in the tag team division. This was one of those eras in wrestling when tag team wrestling was at its finest. True competition put together with a simple and logical storyline to help elevate the importance of the championship and the tag teams competing for the gold. Heyman’s had a lot of successes as a writer, but the “SmackDown! Six” era was Heyman’s finest hour…

 

Wrestling Flashback – Brock Lesnar vs CM Punk

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So recently, I went back and watched Summerslam 2013. This PPV was actually a really good one. It was probably one of the better Summerslams in recent years and there was very little about this PPV that I didn’t like. I remember not liking the Bray Wyatt vs Kane match and the divas match and… that’s pretty much it. Del Rio vs Christian for the World Title was a solid match as was the match between Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow. The ending of Summerslam particularly was what I really loved about Summerslam, because Randy Orton and Triple H had turned heel and we saw an incredible double turn with those two which was executed brilliantly. However, I wanted to go back and watch a match from that PPV which was the best match of the night. It was CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar and the reason I wanted to go back and watch this one, is because I’ve been very back and forth in the last few years as to just HOW good this match was.

This was a very physical and well paced match. There wasn’t a time where it looked like they were stalling for no reason. There wasn’t a time which I thought the match began to fall apart or dire down. Punk delivered a great amount of an attack onto Brock and the fans were going NUTS for this match. The submission spots with the kimuras and armbars was well worked and it was sort of done in a way to resemble a really fight. Brock was trying to fight like he would if he was back in UFC. There was a sense of realism which I missed initially watching it that did add to the match. Punk might argue that a loss would have made him look weak, but he looked incredibly good against Lesnar in this match. I think even in loss, he would have come off really well if he wasn’t booked in the awful feuds with Ryback and Curtis Axel.

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I actually did do a review of the entire PPV back in 2013, which you can find at this link. However, I wanted to pull an extract from my own review of this match at the time and I think I got a few things wrong when looking back at what I wrote. I said:

“Definitely Brock’s best match since he returned in 2012. Just a straight up brawl between the two. A lot of people before hand wondered how CM Punk would cope against Lesnar considering their sizes, but it was pretty much an even playing-field. Punk was very innovative with his submission holds here. God, Triangle Holds, Anaconda Vices, FREAKING ARMBARS! I do think Lesnar got tired quick in this match like, but Punk made up for that and was on top form tonight. However, Lesnar picking up the win does hinder Punk a little. But I don’t think it’ll hinder him THAT much. I think Punk will probably hit it big and will likely be in the WWE Title frame soon. However, Punk could have done with that big win over Lesnar. But it was not to be for the best, as he was no match for the BEAST… who’s now the best.”

Now let me just get onto the two things which I believe I got wrong at the time…

1. “Definitely Brock’s best match since he returned in 2012.”

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I don’t think this was Brock’s best match since he returned in 2012 up until that point. And that’s only because I don’t think I gave the Brock Lesnar vs John Cena match at Extreme Rules 2012 enough credit back then. Because looking back at THAT match, I also underrated that one entirely because I didn’t realize how innovative it was. That match was unlike all the other main events you usually get in WWE. This was a BROCK LESNAR main event. It’s the type of match we’ve come to get out of Lesnar. We got it with John Cena, we got it with Roman Reigns and we got it with Kofi Kingston at Beast in the East. Nobody expected Cena to take a BEATING like that from Brock Lesnar. And considering that the Extreme Rules match was Lesnar’s first match in 8 years, he put on a quality performance. So it’s very debatable about whether the Punk match was better than that Extreme Rules match. It’s not a “definitely” that Punk’s match was better than the Cena match. It’s very hard to decide which of those two were the best match looking back in hindsight and it probably should be something I should blog about!

 2. “Lesnar picking up the win does hinder Punk a little…. Punk could have done with that big win over Lesnar.”

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Punk may well have needed a big win like that rolling back into WWE in June 2013. However, I was thinking too heavily on CM Punk’s need to win the big match and I think now looking back, Brock Lesnar WAS the man that needed to win that match. Just think, Brock Lesnar’s record up until that point since returning in 2012 was 2-2. He’s lost to Triple H and John Cena and his only wins were against Triple H. His only wins up until Summerslam 2013 was against the SAME MAN.

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Needless to say, WWE did a great job “ruining the mystique of Brock Lesnar” really right off the bat in 2012. He shouldn’t have lost those two matches but the fact was… he had. But man, just think of how much it would have elevated the Lesnar/Punk match if he had run through those guys as opposed to losing cleanly both times. Now if Lesnar would have lost to Punk that night, he would have been 2-3 since he returned in 2012. The “unbeatable” would have been reduced to being like every other monster in WWE had he lost to Punk. Because it’s not like he’s losing due to shenanigans or anything like that, he would have lost them all clean. And if Vince was thinking to himself around Summerslam time “Let’s have Lesnar end the Undertaker’s streak”, then how badly would that moment have been damaged if he had lost to Punk?

Just think, Punk had previously tried to break Undertaker’s streak and lost. If Punk wounded up beating Lesnar and then LESNAR tried to break that streak, Brock would just look so weak as he would have lost to the guy that lost to the Undertaker. Punk was somebody that, in his own right, needed a big win of his own. Not denying that. He had lost to The Rock and Undertaker earlier that year and this would hurt Punk. However, if Taker was going to be the guy to end that streak, then that should outweigh Punk’s need to win just so he can stay as strong as all those other superstars that he got beat by.

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Overall, if I was like Bryan Alvarez or Dave Meltzer, I’d give this match… a 4.5/5. I think though if Lesnar had been booked to have won those previous fights with Cena and HHH, I would have loved this match more. All the near falls and times Punk looked like he’d won would have meant a lot more and might have shifted my rating to a 4.75/5… maybe event a 5 out of 5. A bit of thought WWE… you could have made both men look SO strong after that match…

Edge – Was He Ever “The One” In WWE?

NOTE: The following post is part three of a three-part series. The first part can be seen at this link and the second can be seen at this link.

Previously on the blog, I discussed whether Rob Van Dam or Chris Jericho were ever the “one” in WWE. This came after Triple H cut a promo on Daniel Bryan about why he would never be a star in WWE. Triple H said…

“Here’s the thing, Daniel.  I’ve seen guys like you come and go a million times.  Guys like Jericho, Edge, Rob Van Dam.  All guys that are very talented, don’t get me wrong.  Top guys!  Very popular!  But not ‘the one.’  Never were they ‘the one.’  And maybe nobody wants to say this, but it needs to be said: It’s a fact.  If any of those guys had been the face of the WWE back in the day, we’d all be working for Ted Turner right now.

You think you’re playing in the big leagues, kid?  You have no idea.  You step inside that Hell in a Cell and I have a feeling you’re gonna prove to the world that you’re a B+ player.”

I’ve talked about Rob Van Dam and Chris Jericho. Now it’s time to talk about Chris Edge….

Edge

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Edge made his mark in WWE by first excelling in the tag team division with his friend Christian. Yes, friend. Not brother, as they were initially promoted as. Edge had developed a strong run as a singles star but was made a true star when battling alongside Christian. The duo would take part in quality matches with the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz. It soon didn’t take long for the three teams to completely dominate the tag team scene, with all the tag team storylines mostly being centred around them.

However, the tag team eventually had to break up. The two of them were great as a tag team but it was really time for the two of them to develop as singles stars. Edge had been an Intercontinental Champion before but he was more well known for teaming with Christian. Once Christian turned on Edge, both men were able to take off on their own.

Edge would win several singles titles after becoming a singles competitor. His first proper main event exposure came after the WWE Brand Extension. As mention during the Jericho part, Edge really rose to stardom during his program with the King of the World in 2002. This feud was ended abruptly by the decision to move Jericho to RAW. However, Edge was still given many opportunities to shine by SmackDown! head writer Paul Heyman. He main-evented SmackDown! as part of an incredible exciting tag team scenario which helped develop him as a main-eventer. Edge even main-evented WWE’s Rebellion 2002 PPV and challenged Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship. However, Edge’s roll was cut short by a legitimate neck injury.

Edge would miss a year of television but returned like a house of fire in 2004 as part of the RAW brand. He quickly won the Intercontinental Championship from Randy Orton and he eventually turned his sights onto the World Heavyweight Championship… as a heel. Edge was main-eventing RAW a lot but it was very hard to become a top heel on the brand that was built around Triple H. However, Edge was becoming a star. At Wrestlemania 21, he won the “Money In The Bank” contract which would give him a title shot at any time in the next year. At the 2006 New Year’s Revolution event, with Lita by his side, Edge cashed it in to become WWE Champion for the first time.

This was Edge’s first world title in WWE and it was executed so well. John Cena had been champion since Wrestlemania 21 and it was time for a change of champion. The fans accepted Edge as the man. Triple H had been stuck in feuds with Big Show and Ric Flair, so it was really Edge’s time to shine. It was not like Edge was a ratings-killer either.

The next night on RAW, Edge held a live-sex celebration with Lita on RAW. That episode of RAW was such a success that Edge had delivered a 5.2 rating, which was the highest rated RAW in over a year. It also puts the ratings RAW gets nowadays to shame. The month of January was a month of glory for Edge.

It was also the month where Edge also LOST the title to John Cena at the Royal Rumble. To be fair, Edge never exactly struggled to recover. He stole the show at Wrestlemania 22 with Mick Foley and was WWE Champion again in July. When his feud with John Cena began once again, Edge was again on fire as the top heel in the company. With Triple H being a face now, there was little competition for Edge to compete with. Therefore, he became a feature presentation for RAW. He was still the top main event heel of RAW, even going into Wrestlemania 23.

When he was traded to SmackDown!, he went from strength to strength. It didn’t take long for Edge to become the top heel of the show. Hell, he did it on his first night by winning the World Heavyweight Championship. Again, not a lot of competition for Edge to compete with. That’s especially true considering that the next top heel on SmackDown! was The Great Khali. However, Edge developed himself as the true top star of SmackDown! in 2007 and would be rewarded with a Wrestlemania 24 main event showdown with the Undertaker. This was Edge’s first Wrestlemania main event and what a match it was. Wrestlemania 24 is widely considered as one of the greatest Wrestlemanias of all time. If your match was the show-stealer on a PPV was a strong as a card as Wrestlemania 24 had, you knew it was something special.

Edge stayed as the elite main-eventer on SmackDown! in the next few years. Again, it was an injury that ended his run as King of the Heels. He was injured in July 2009 and CM Punk would end up being the top heel of SmackDown! for a while.

Edge returned as a good guy in 2010, winning the Royal Rumble match upon his return. Edge’s return was a big deal but Edge’s Wrestlemania match wasn’t really considered the main match of the show unlike at Wrestlemania 24. Edge vs Jericho played third-fiddle to Undertaker vs Michaels and Cena vs Batista and it was a period where all the attention was really turned to RAW. Therefore, SmackDown! was starting to truly become second-fiddle RAW which took away from the World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestlemania 26.

Before he retired, Edge turned heel and face once more but did an incredible job at waving the SmackDown! When he left, he left on top of his game as World Heavyweight Champion. Was he the top guy in WWE? We he ever the one? No. However, I think we can all agree that there was a period in WWE where Edge was truly the star of the show. From 2006 to 2008, Edge was the top heel in the company and definitely one of the biggest talking points in the WWE at the time.