Rey Mysterio, Batista, and Bobby Lashley vs. King Booker (w/ Queen Sharmell and William Regal), Mark Henry, and Finlay
In 1985, Vince McMahon was riding a wave of momentum following the success of the inaugural Wrestlemania and decided to have a show on network TV for the first time in years. With the support of NBC executive Dick Ebersol, Vince would create the show Saturday Night’s Main Event which would air semi-regularly on Saturday nights at 11pm. The concept of the show was unique in that it would typically feature marquee matches as opposed to the standard squash matches on the other shows like Superstars. As the 1980s went on, it helped serve as a building block to the major PPVs as it would feature major storylines and build towards feuds culminating on the PPVs. Sadly like most other shows, the novelty began to fade in the 1990s and the show was finally put on the shelf in November of 1992. 14 years later, the show was resurrected in March as part of the build to WM 22 and now we come here to July where the second of the two scheduled specials were to take place. With the Great American Bash only eight days away, this show could serve as a good push towards that show while also showcasing RAW and the burgeoning ECW as well.
Heading into this show, the three main feuds on Smackdown were Mysterio/Booker, Batista/Henry, and Lashley/Finlay. Booker was the number one contender to Mysterio’s World Heavyweight Championship and vowed to end Mysterio’s miracle run at the Bash. Batista was finally back from his injuries and looked to get revenge on the man that put him on the shelf in Henry. Finally, Lashley had lost the United States Championship to Finlay the day prior and was set to possibly regain the title at the Bash. This would be a match that would’ve been seen on previous SNMEs in the past so I thought that it was cool to have it here to see who would build momentum going into the Bash.
I thought having this match as the opening was a smart idea as it could keep the crowd hot after the Hogan/Orton segment and I like how it’s Cole and JBL calling the match and not doing the spilt commentators that we saw back in March. Booker has done a great job in honing his “King” character and having Regal introduce was pretty awesome as was JBL standing out of respect for him. Henry and Finlay were also pretty hot as heels while the face team get big pops from the crowd with Batista getting the biggest as he returns to the ring for the first time since having to relinquish the title back in January. Lashley starts off with Finlay as the crowd quickly chants “Batista” and they lock up with Lashley shoving Finlay into the corner, and he rams the shoulder repeatedly into Finlay and whips him into the other corner before catching Finlay’s kick. He hits a big belly-to-belly suplex on Finlay as the two teams square off with each other and we go to commercial. Back from the break, Mysterio had tagged in and Finlay took over on him before hooking a submission on, but Mysterio fights to his feet and breaks the hold only for Finlay to hit a clothesline. He goes back to the submission on Mysterio only for Mysterio to fight to his feet and back Finlay into the corner, but Finlay pounds on him only for Mysterio to hook the ropes and catch Finlay with a boot. Mysterio hits a perfect springboard moonsault on Finlay only for Booker to break the pin up, and Batista and Lashley chase Booker and Henry from the ring. But then, Finlay’s little leprechaun jumps into the ring and he nails Mysterio repeatedly with the shillelagh as Finlay holds his legs, and then Batista and Lashley clear them from the ring as Finlay shoves the leprechaun back under the ring. JBL was absolutely awesome here as he puts over the leprechaun one minute only to deny its existence when he goes back under the ring, and it just shows how great JBL has been since becoming a commentator.
Finlay rolls back into the ring and hits a sit-down splash on Mysterio for a two count before tagging Booker, and he stomps on Mysterio in the corner before tagging Henry who hits a headbutt on Mysterio in the corner. He charges at Mysterio only for Mysterio to move and Henry hits the corner as Mysterio kicks at him, and Henry collapses to the mat and appears to be hurt as Mysterio crawls to his corner. Booker distracts the ref who doesn’t see Batista make the tag and Booker drags Mysterio back to his corner, and Finlay and Booker stomp on Mysterio as Henry rolls out of the ring and clearly looks to be in bad shape. It’s really a shame for Henry because he was really getting hot as a monster heel by this point, but once again the injury bug bites him at the absolute wrong time. Booker poses for the crowd and pounds on Mysterio only for Mysterio to catch him in a hurricanrana, and Mysterio avoids Finlay and Booker before getting the hot tag to Batista. Batista hits a pair of clotheslines on Booker and Finlay and then he hits a slam on Booker and a powerslam on Finlay, but Finlay catches Batista with a kick and Booker charges only for Batista to hit the spinebuster. Lashley pulls Finlay out of the ring and pounds on him as Batista starts to get fired up, and Booker tries to coerce with Sharmell and Regal only for Mysterio to hit a 619. Batista then hits the Batista Bomb on Booker and gets the three, winning the match for his team.
The match itself was pretty good for a 6-man tag TV match as it had some pretty solid talent. The layout was about as basic a TV tag match as you could get. The only negative thing about matches on TV is that you miss a good chunk of them due to the commercials, so you only have to go off of what you actually see. Mysterio played the face-in-peril role well like he usually does while Lashley got to show his stuff early and Batista closed things out strong for the faces, and Booker and Finlay looked good too as they got some shine in. You do have to feel really bad though for Henry as he was really getting into a solid groove and his match with Batista could’ve been pretty fun. It is really astonishing that we are reaching the end of his original 10-year contract and this was the most over he was getting only for it to come to an end yet again due to injury. This was the kind of match that the face team usually wins and Batista was the right choice getting the pin to re-establish him heading into the Bash. But now that Henry is out, it will be interesting to see where they go with Batista and also what happens in the Finlay/Lashley and Mysterio/Booker matches. As for this match, it is a pretty basic TV match that is befitting that of Saturday Night’s Main Event though it could’ve also been the main event for Smackdown.
Final Grade: **1/2