*** Scott & Justin’s PPV reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. After a brief hiatus, the PICs are back where they left off. The reviews include fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company along with overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. If you would like to review the full archive, stretching from WrestleMania I through Backlash 2008, please visit the Place to Be message board. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ****
Night of Champions
June 29, 2008
American Airlines Center
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Mick Foley, Mike Adamle & Tazz
Fun Fact: This is the Lone Star State’s 13th PPV. That’s good for fourth overall, one behind Pennsylvania. It’s the first in “Big D” since the 2003 Survivor Series.
Jeff Hardy defeated Montel Vontavious Porter
Fun Fact: On the 6/2 RAW, Vince announced to the world that he would be giving away $1 million the following week. Fans registered online for what would be dubbed the Million Dollar Mania. It lasted three weeks and gave us some funny moments including when Vince made the first call to give away $200,000 and got the ringtone to the tune of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” before hanging up and calling again. Some callers walked away with a small amount, including one caller getting $2 and another only receiving $16 instead of $75,000. The final week saw Vince offering 5 callers $100,000 and the final caller of the night $500,000. After the half million was awarded, a part of the stage fell and Vince then fell with part of the scaffolding tumbling on him, and several wrestlers came out as trainers tended to Vince, who called Paul for help (Triple H). We’ll touch more on this in the future.
Fun Fact II: A draft took place the week before the PPV on the 6/23 RAW and there were many interpromotional matches that determined the draft picks. RAW picked up Rey Mysterio, CM Punk, Batista, Michael Cole, and Kane; Smackdown gained Jeff Hardy, Jim Ross, Ken Kennedy, and Triple H; ECW picked up Matt Hardy in their lone pick. J.R. had always felt his moving to Smackdown was an inside joke just to see his reaction. He even said he was told the night before he wasn’t going anywhere, and he stills feels to this day that there was no reason to break him and Jerry Lawler up. A supplemental draft took place a couple of days after; RAW picked up Deuce, Jamie Noble, Matt Striker, Chuck Palumbo, Layla and Kofi Kingston; Smackdown nabbed Trevor Murdoch, Big Daddy V, DH Smith, Brian Kendrick, Maria, Shelton Benjamin, and Carlito; and ECW acquired Mark Henry, Super Crazy, Finlay, and Hornswoggle.
Pay Per View
1) John Morrison & The Miz defeat Finlay & Hornswoggle to retain WWE Tag Team Titles when Morrison pins Hornswoggle after a slam off the top rope at 8:48
Fun Fact: This began on the 6/6 Smackdown when the champs were taunting Hornswoggle with his hat until Finlay appeared and then Hornswoggle nailed them with a water pistol. The following week, Morrison picked up a win over Finlay after Miz went after Hornswoggle, distracting Finlay. The match was announced on the 6/16 RAW and the following night on ECW, the contract was signed by Finlay and Hornswoggle backstage and Miz protested before Finlay nailed him with the shillelagh. Finlay would also grab a win over Miz later that week on Smackdown. The challengers would grab some more momentum after costing the champs a match on the 6/24 ECW and then picking up a win over Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder on the 6/27 Smackdown.
Scott: This was an interesting opener to say the least. Miz & Morrison were on a big roll since winning the titles and I never had any doubt that they would win here. Finlay is an in-ring stud but having to carry a midget here doesn’t work for me. It quickly became the “two bullies pick on the little guy.” Both JR and Mick are ripping the champs for picking on Horny. Well guys, he IS IN THE MATCH. It’s a series of parlor tricks and funny sight gags. The champions do work Finlay over with their patented double team moves that they really worked on heavily since being together. Miz takes the brunt of the Hornswoggle midget moves. After a few minutes of comedy the match does get into a legit groove where Horny becomes the face-in-peril. Fortunately the champs retain and Horny gets pinned. It’s nothing offensive and a decent little opener to get this gold-laden show started. Grade: **
Justin: Well, it is Night of Champions, so no shock as we kick things off with a title match. Miz & Morrison had a great win back at One Night Stand and have remained dominant since. This time around, the challenge is a bit more…unorthodox. Thanks to the draft, we have new commentary teams in place and Jim Ross and Mick Foley are calling this one for Smackdown. Finlay has been fantastic since stepping back into the ring, but this was an interesting turn for him. Not only was it revealed that Finlay was Hornswoggle’s father, but now they are teaming up and chasing the gold. Finlay dominated Morrison early on, but Miz used a threat to Hornswoggle to distract him long enough to turn things around for a moment. When in control, the Irish Boys used some hi-jinx to keep the champs off kilter. Finlay is so bad ass that he makes this goofiness work and almost seem legit. The champs would double team while on offense, using quick tags but Finlay was able to shrug them off and make the hot tag. And hot it was as Hornswoggle flew all around the ring, doing whatever he could to take down Miz and Morrison. I will give kudos to the little guy, because once the champs took over, he took some stiff shots. The format here was a bit different, with a multiple shorter heat segments, which is always good for an opener. Plus, you can only have Hornswoggle get beaten on for so long and keep things in the realm of believability. With Miz able to knock Finlay to the floor, Morrison slammed an overzealous Hornswoggle off the top rope and easily pin him to retain. This was entertaining enough, the crowd dug it and I can never get enough of Miz & Morrison being assholes. Nice job by the Finlays to actually seem like credible threats through most of this as well. Grade: * 1/2
2) Matt Hardy defeats Chavo Guerrero to retain WWE United States Title after a Twist of Fate at 9:21
Fun Fact: Chavo issued the challenge to Matt on the 6/13 Smackdown for the title at the PPV and after Matt’s win over Chuck Palumbo, announced him as the winner and the loser. The following week, Matt defeated Chavo’s heavy, Bam Neely, in a non-title affair, but would lose a Champion vs. Champion match on the 6/27 Smackdown to World Champ Edge.
Scott: Chavo and his boy Bam Neely take on the man who finally ended MVP’s reign of terror back at Backlash. Chavo was a credible ECW Champion earlier in the year. These guys have tussled before during their cruiserweight days on Smackdown, but this is their first PPV encounter. Both can work an aerial style but they are very mat-based early on as Chavo works both a headlock and an almost-Indian Death Lock. I know that with the three brands they have three different referees. With the draft happening before this show, guys that were on shows that the title represented are now all over the place. Hardy’s now with ECW but he’ll likely transition that title to a Smackdown guy. I never liked that Chavo stole the Three Amigos after Eddie passed away. The crowd always boos when he does it, so maybe he should stop. Hardy doesn’t allow the third amigo, and he hits a Twist of Fate via reversal to retain his title. Just like the opener, a pretty pedestrian match with some good moves and a quick finish. Grade: **
Justin: Having connections in high places certainly pays off as is evidenced by Chavo Guerrero getting hooked up with a US Title shot here. Chavo has been doing the bidding of Vickie Guerrero & Edge for a while now and is being rewarded accordingly. Bam Neely is with him as always and makes me chuckle when he mocks a fat fan at ringside. Matt Hardy has been fantastic since returning to action at WrestleMania and is as over as ever. Hardy worked Chavo over off the bell but Chavo slowed the champ up by going right to the knee and following up aggressively. He was wrestling a great match but deviated from his plan by taking to the air and came up empty on a senton attempt, letting Hardy right back into the match. Foley made a great point, wondering if the knee of Hardy would hold up for him to hit his legdrop off the middle rope. Hardy’s offense would be brief, as Chavo did block that legdrop attempt by yanking Hardy down to the mat. Hardy survived a pair of half crabs, but clearly couldn’t get his legs under him long enough to sustain offense. But luckily for him, he didn’t need to sustain as he was able to block the final Three Amigo suplex attempt and snap off a Twist of Fate to win and retain. That was a really well worked match and told a simple story. Chavo had a great gameplan and executed it well except that one glaring gap at the end and Hardy took advantage. Both guys looked strong and that is what an undercard title match should do for the wrestlers involved. Grade: ** 1/2
*** We check out a video package recapping Mr. McMahon’s Million Dollar Giveway. However, mirth quickly turned to tragedy when the set collapsed and crushed the Chairman, leaving him motionless and in shock. He was stabilized and stretchered out of the arena to be treated. Mike Adamle tells us the McMahon Family will address Vince’s health tomorrow night on Raw. ***
3) Mark Henry defeats Big Show and Kane to win ECW Title when he pinned Kane with a big splash at 8:19
Fun Fact: Big Show earned the title shot in the Singapore Cane Match at One Night Stand, however, on the 6/3 ECW, it was announced that he suffered a cracked orbital bone and eight stitches above his eye as a result of the match. On Smackdown that week, Show came out and showed us the injury, saying he earned his title match. Mark Henry came out and showed the injury happening and then Show challenged him to a fight but Henry laughed it off and left ringside. The following week, Show and Henry had a confrontation in the ring and Henry wanted the first title shot if Show beat Kane. The two shook hands before Show warned Henry. On the 6/20 Smackdown, Henry attacked Kane after Kane’s match with MVP and made a statement with the World’s Strongest Slam. Henry would officially be added to the match on the 6/27 Smackdown and Show and Kane picked up a win over MVP and Henry after Henry tossed MVP back in after MVP tried to bail on the match.
Scott: Wow, that’s a lot of beef in the ring. I wonder if having the draft before this show may have tipped everyone as to who was winning matches tonight. It was said multiple times that Kane was drafted to Raw, which means logically him having the ECW Title is pretty stupid. So obviously one of the other two hosses was going to win here. I actually liked Adamle and Tazz on commentary. Sure Adamle was no Joey Styles, but for some reason his clean, sports play-by-play delivery with his still clumsy moments makes for a pretty fun, train-wreck type broadcast team. This match is so what the original ECW never had in mind for a title match (unless Bam Bam Bigelow was involved). The match isn’t that bad, as for three big dudes they kept the pace going and they were working very stiff. Adamle continued to harp that Mark Henry’s career resume was without a major world championship. Again, probably a lot of tipping here that he may possibly win this match. Henry indeed does win the match when he splashes Kane after the champ delivered a superplex to Big Show. Adamle and Tazz continues to use the word “mastodon”. Come on guys, there will always be one of those. Speaking of, adding an “in his prime” Vader to this match would have been awesome. Clearly the ECW belt is so tiny in little Mark Henry’s hands shows the gold needed an upgrade. It would indeed happen. I really liked this match as all three big guys brought their boots and worked real hard. Grade: **1/2
Justin: Hosses engage. Kane has had a stranglehold on the ECW title since WrestleMania, but with him having been drafted to Raw, it seemed likely that he would be dropping the title here. Big Show had a great run with the strap back in 2006, but ECW was a bit more garbagey and extreme at the time. In an interesting tact for a champion in a triple threat, Kane immediately went on the offensive, knowing he was going to be targeted quickly if he didn’t. Henry got wiped out to the floor early on, allowing the former tag champs to trade blows for a minute or so. Things turned when Kane took a nasty bump off the ring apron and wiped out on the floor and immediately started clutching his lower back. And it looked to have been a legit injury as he ignored Henry while writhing in pain, leading to referee Scott Armstrong to toss up the dreaded X sign and trainers coming to check him out. The crowd was a bit quiet but got going once Henry and Show just started slamming into each other like crazed rhinos. Adamle is the man as he channels Uncle Jesse with a “Have Mercy”. As Show and Henry were both laid out, Kane actually stumbled to his feet, scaled the top rope and came flying off with a clothesline to Henry. Either Kane is a man’s man or we were hoodwinked! Kane and Show would take out Henry again, leading to Show overpowering the champ and getting a near fall off a chokeslam. Show has definitely looked the strongest here. The finish was the hottest portion of the match as Kane actually superplexed Show, but as he hit the mat, Henry flew in and hit a big leaping splash to pick up the win! The match itself was really nothing special but I liked the finish a lot with Henry having been wiped out for quite a bit of this but was opportunistic when it mattered. You could tell he was overwhelmed by finally winning gold after twelve years in the company. OK match but a nice moment for a loyal soldier. Grade: *1/2
*** Backstage, John Cena welcomes Batista back to Raw and they discuss the possibility of bringing both World title to Monday nights. CM Punk pops in and makes it clear that he hopes both straps come to Raw so he can cash in his MITB briefcase on either one. ***
4) Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes defeat Hardcore Holly & Cody Rhodes for World Tag Team Titles when DiBiase pins Holly with a Million Dollar Dream Russian Leg Sweep at 1:34
Fun Fact: This is DiBiase’s PPV debut. DiBiase, son of the legendary Million Dollar Man, followed in his father’s footsteps. He was trained by Chris Youngblood and Harley Race’s Wrestling Academy. DiBiase made his debut in 2006 and wrestled with his brother Mike for Race’s promotion, World League Wrestling, winning the Fusion Pro Tag Team titles in early 2007. DiBiase also wrestled on tours for Pro Wrestling Noah in Japan. DiBiase would sign a developmental deal in July 2007 and joined FCW. He would eventually win the Southern Heavyweight title at the end of the year, but a slew of injuries, including a fractured left knee and broken ribs, prevented him from defending it. Due to the injuries, DiBiase would compete sporadically in early 2008 before making the jump to the major leagues in May.
Fun Fact II: On the 5/26 RAW, Ted DiBiase appeared after Rhodes and Holly defeated London and Kendrick and introduced his son, Ted Jr, who promised he would be a champion in his first match at their expense. The following week, the champs lost a non-title match to Carlito and Santino. On the 6/9 RAW, the champs lost again, this time to Umaga and Snitsky. DiBiase came out and taunted the fact that the champs have been losing since he made the challenge and reassured his victory with his mystery partner at the PPV. On the 6/23 RAW, Holly and Rhodes picked up a win over Chavo and Neely that won them a pick for RAW as DiBiase sat on commentary, leading us here.
Scott: You knew this was coming a mile away. Hardcore Holly was a throwaway dinosaur to the Attitude Era and Cody was the future. DiBiase was building up a mystery partner that was coming late to the arena. Cody then turns on his old partner and he and his “new” partner pin the prone Holly and Rhodes keeps his ½ of the tag team titles. DiBiase now joins his dad in the archives as a WWF tag team champion. It was a pretty quick match and nothing more than to transfer Cody as a heel. Grade: DUD
Justin: Amazingly enough, Hardcore Holly & Cody Rhodes have been tag team champions since December, playing up the mentor/student gimmick. They had been having some issues, but Rhodes was quickly earning Holly’s respect and was also starting to show Holly some as well. DiBiase had a nice swagger and having him debut this way definitely made him seem like a big deal. It was clear they were playing up the Million Dollar Man legacy out of the gate, even though his music sounds like something off the Nashville album. After weeks of teasing a mystery partner, DiBiase initially comes up empty and is forced to go it alone…for about two seconds, anyway. As soon as Holly turned his back, Rhodes stabbed him in it and revealed himself to be DiBiase’s partner. This made all the sense in the world, was completely transparent but was still pretty damn great. It was the perfect use of Holly and made DiBiase and Rhodes both look like real pricks, establishing their personas immediately. I also love how they did the heel turn right away instead of having Rhodes fight the match like we see so many times. That never makes sense. This does. Nothing match but a very big storyline and character development moment. Grade: 1/2*
5) Kofi Kingston defeated Chris Jericho to win WWE Intercontinental Title with a spin kick at 11:01
Fun Fact: This bout was not originally on the card; Jericho was infused in his feud with Shawn Michaels, even dedicating his match on the 6/2 RAW against JBL to Michaels. Jericho would win via DQ and almost nailed JBL with a chair but opted not to, just like Michaels the week before. On the 6/9 RAW, Jericho had Michaels as a guest on the Highlight Reel and pointed out that Michaels is adored no matter what he does while he himself is booed for no apparent reason. The two then brawled before Jericho nailed Michaels with a low blow and then threw him headfirst into the Jeritron 6000, officially turning heel. The next week, Jericho blamed the fans for his actions and called Michaels out. Instead, he got Ric Flair, and in Flair’s first appearance since being retired, he challenged Jericho to a fight backstage. Jericho accepted and went backstage, only to find Triple H, who wanted a fight. Vince appeared, tossed Flair out of the arena since he was retired, and made the match for later in the show. Lance Cade then appeared during the match and assisted Jericho in a beatdown of Triple H and eventually John Cena. On the 6/23 RAW, Jericho continued to blame the fans and showed them past instances of Michaels being deceitful and then brought out Lance Cade, referring to Michaels training Cade and then Jericho mentioned he had no opponent for the PPV before Michaels appeared and the two brawled before Jericho caused Michaels to fall on the table, injuring his already damaged eye further. Jericho then appears here at the show and said that Michaels wasn’t here tonight but if the roles were reversed, Jericho would still be here.
Fun Fact II: This marks Kofi’s PPV debut. Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensa was born in Ghana but left when he was one year old and relocated to Boston. Kofi was trained by Killer Kowalski and Kowalski’s wrestling academy, Chaotic Wrestling. Kofi debuted in February 2006 for Chaotic and also wrestled mainly in New England, including stints in NWA: New England, NECW, and the Eastern Wrestling Alliance. Kofi signed a developmental deal with WWE later in the year and joined Deep South, where he formed a team called The Commonwealth Connection with Harry Smith. Kofi would relocate to FCW the following year and competed there until he was called up by the E. A series of vignettes touted the fact that Kofi would be the first Jamaican wrestler in the WWE, but that would be null and void when a WWE.com article mentioned that Kofi was from Ghana and not Jamaica. Kofi officially debuted on the December 6th, 2007 edition of ECW. Kofi would build up an undefeated streak and eventually had his first feud with Shelton Benjamin, resulting in some great bouts between the two men, with Benjamin ending Kofi’s undefeated streak on the 5/20 ECW. Kofi would get his win back on the 6/24 ECW to end the feud and Kofi was drafted to RAW in the supplemental draft.
Scott: Jericho had been teasing the possibility of a full-blown heel turn over a couple of months, but then when he decked Shawn Michaels, the turn was complete. The debate over whether Jericho was a better face or heel continues to this day, but you can argue that it depends on what you want out of him. If you want funny promos with great jabs at heels and a good laugh, well then he’s a great face. However at this stage of his career, calling people brutal ho-bags like he did in 2000 doesn’t look the same when you’re in your mid to late 30s. So right now the heel turn works perfectly. And considering what we would get later in the year from him it makes perfect sense. His opponent is a newcomer to the ranks who was drafted to Raw before the show. Kofi was the kind of athletic mid-carder that the roster needed with a lot of the on air talent getting a little long in the tooth. Lance Cade, fresh off his tag team title run with his boy Trevor Murdoch, seconds Jericho to the ring. It was well documented that Cade was in Shawn Michaels’ school earlier in the decade and turned on his teacher “because eventually Michaels would turn on him.” That’s what makes Shawn such a great worker and character. With the kind of past he had, it can always be used in a storyline in some capacity. The match is a lot of fun, with both guys flying all over the place. This was a perfect opponent to really get Jericho’s juices going again and Kofi gets a solid experienced worker in his PPV debut. Of course we see Shawn Michaels interfere and in what I thought was a big upset, the newcomer from Jamaica is the new IC Champ. Shawn continues to sell the eye injury and Jericho, pissed his IC title reign is over, sucker punches him on the ramp, furthering the storyline. Overall a really good match and 2008’s feud of the year continues to percolate. Grade: ***
Justin: The company is really infusing a lot of new blood into the roster at this show and it was the right time to do it as the product was really enjoyable and they had a solid cadre of main event and upper mid card talent to carry the show on top. For the second straight match, a surprise opponent is involved. Before the match, Jericho cuts a great promo on the injured Shawn Michaels, continuing to push their feud. Jericho also has his new running buddy, Lance Cade, with him. Cade was a former Michaels student that had turned on his mentor to support his bitter rival. Michaels had been injured when Jericho swung the JeriTron TV into his face, shattering the glass into his eye. Kofi had been plying his trade on ECW and was building a nice resume on Tuesday nights as well as being the trigger for some great Mike Adamle liners. Jamaican Me Crazy! He just been drafted over to Raw, making him eligible for this match. Jericho grounded him off the bell, but as soon as Kofi fought him off, he started to fly. After landing a few aerial strikes, things backfired as Jericho was able to grab hold during one and shove him out to the floor. Cole was pretty good here, talking about the history of the IC belt as Jericho kept his assault focused and consistent. The champ maintained the control you would expect from a veteran, but gave Kofi a slight opening that turned the tide and let Kingston get back upright where he could use his speed and quick striking ability. However, Jericho would use his wiles to combat that, having scouted the Boom Legdrops, countering it into an attempt at the Walls. These guys are showing some really good chemistry despite not having much, if any, experience working together. I have always loved Jericho but his conversion into abrasive, dismissive veteran was a masterstroke. His in ring style plays to that frame of mind so well. Things looked bleak for Kofi as Jericho trapped him in the Walls in the center of the ring. Before he could tap, Shawn Michaels emerged from the crowd, superkicked Cade and distracted Jericho long enough for Kofi to regroup and attack. And three seconds later, the upset was complete and we had a new IC champion. Michaels showing up surprised me for sure, as I thought he may be on the shelf just a bit longer. It was wise to get the belt off Jericho because he had bigger fish to fry and this was a nice push for Kofi. After the match, Shawn was tended to by doctors as his eye injury had him completely wobbled and off-balance after his collision with Jericho. Being the perfect dick that he is, Jericho followed him up the aisle and simply punched him in his injured eye. Simple but tremendously effective. This feud continues to be the best the promotion had to offer at this point. Oh, and the match was really good and a lot of fun too. Grade: ***
6) Mickie James defeats Katie Lea Burchill to retain WWE Women’s Title with a DDT at 7:17
Fun Fact: This is Katie Lea’s PPV debut, despite making her WWE debut earlier in the year. Katarina Waters made her wrestling debut way back in February 2000, wrestling for the NWA UK as Nikita, in an homage to the TV show La Femme Nikita. She would also wrestle for various promotions over the next several years, most notably the FWA. She would signed with OVW in 2006 and changed her name to Katie Lea. She would go on to have a memorable feud with Beth Phoenix and held the OVW Women’s title for 212 days, at the time the longest singles and combined reign in history (Melody would pass that mark in 2009). Katie made her WWE debut back in February as the sister of Paul Burchill, and the two displayed signs of a gimmick based around incest. She made her in-ring debut on the 4/28 RAW, teaming with Burchill to defeat Super Crazy in an intergender handicap match.
Fun Fact II: This all started the night after One Night Stand, when Katie teamed with Beth to take on Mickie and Melina. Katie would pin the champion in a big upset. On the 6/9 RAW, Mickie would pick up a win over Beth in a non-title match to close that feud off for now. The following week, Katie would score another clean win over Mickie in a mixed tag involving Burchill and Ken Kennedy. The match was officially announced on the 6/23 RAW.
Scott: We have another PPV debut with a British vixen. I remember they wanted to do some weird incest storyline with Katie Lea and her brother Paul Burchill. Vince always wanted to do shit like that. So odd. Mickie is one of the best workers in the company and Burchill has a pretty good overseas resume and she’s cute too so overall we have a nice match-up here. It’s nothing memorable but they tell a pretty good story as Katie Lea works over Mickie’s left arm so the champ wrestles one-armed for most of the match. In fact Katie Lea would work a serious arm bar submission that I thought would do Mickie in but she gets up and reverses. Eventually Mickie recovers to hit the DDT and retain her championship. When the women’s match is solid, you know a show has something special to it. Grade: **1/2
Justin: 2008 continues to be the year of Mickie James as she is still the pace-setter in the division. She had knocked off Beth Phoenix and also managed to escape with her title when she got mixed up in Beth’s feud with Melina. Now, she faces the new foreign heel, Katie Lea. She has the former pirate, her brother Paul, alongside with her, and this is pretty big stuff for her PPV debut bout. Mickie had a nice connection with the fans still, something that started when she was a maniacal lesbian and carried over to her more friendly role at this point. Mickie controlled the match until Paul got involved and his distraction led to Katie Lea tripping the champ up. Katie would weather a storm, but immediately went to work on Mickie’s arm, including utilizing a nicely executed back suplex. Katie actually had a decent little moveset, so it made the work on the arm seem a little more deep than your standard Diva match. Mickie also did a good job selling the arm during her comeback, being sure to let it hang to the side as she attacked. The spot of the match had to be Katie blocking Mickie’s finisher and snapping her down into an armbar submission, which she really wrenched in. These two girls really worked well together here and have a nice fluid pace going. Just when it looked as if Katie was going to wrap things up, Mickie snuck in a big DDT to rattle and finish off the challenger. Kudos all around here as this was better than I expected heading in and also had won the crowd over by the time Mickie hit the DDT. Mickie’s solid title reign lives to see another day. Grade: **
7) Edge defeats Batista to retain World Heavyweight Title after a belt shot at 16:48
Fun Fact: The Smackdown after One Night Stand, La Familia had a celebration in regards to Edge winning the World title and ending Undertaker’s career. The lights even went out as a joke on Edge’s part. The celebration was then interrupted by Batista, fresh off a brief stop with Shawn Michaels, who challenged Edge to a title match. Vickie responded by putting Batista in an eight man tag with three partners of Vickie’s choosing against Edge, Chavo, Hawkins and Ryder and if Batista’s team lost, he wouldn’t receive a title shot. Batista’s team of himself, Colin Delaney, Funaki, and Nunzio won after Batista pinned Ryder. The following week, the match was announced and signed, but Vickie made Batista compete for the shot later in the evening against The Great Khali and if he lost, he would be banned from the WWE. Batista would defeated the giant and the match was official. On the 6/20 Smackdown, Batista took on Chavo with Edge as the referee and the stipulation mentioned that if Batista touched Edge, he would lose his title shot at the PPV. Edge would proceed to fast count Batista out of the ring and soon, La Familia would lay a beatdown on Batista with Edge hitting the spear to close out the show. On the 6/23 RAW, Batista would get drafted to RAW after attacking Edge following his match with John Cena. On the 6/27 Smackdown, Edge was attacked by Batista again during an altercation with newly drafted WWE Champion Triple H and Batista ended up holding on Edge’s title belt throughout the show, but Edge would regain it after La Familia attacked Batista during his match with Umaga; Batista would stand tall with Triple H to close out the show after both men attacked Hawkins and Ryder.
Fun Fact II: Resulting from the draft that sent Batista to RAW and WWE Champ Triple H to Smackdown, a text poll was sent out asking fans if Cena or Batista could bring a championship back to RAW; 32 percent said Batista would win, 30 percent said Cena would win, 31 percent said both, and 7 percent said neither.
Scott: I was going to really rip into this decision but then I thought about it. I will explain. These two had a trio of PPV matches in 2007. They started off a little shaky but by their third they gained some chemistry and it wasn’t too bad. Having said that I was concerned that they would re-hash this storyline for the second year in a row. Here was the only drama that probably came from the draft. It wasn’t inconceivable that the WWE Title would change hands in the main event, so Edge could retain here and Cena would bring the WWE Title to Raw. In fact the ongoing poll that WWE had going during this show about which guy would bring the main title to Raw was very even, with Batista garnering the highest percentage, but by only two percent over Cena. In fact 31% thought both belts would go to Raw. Let’s not forget the MITB! CM Punk wasn’t on this show but he did remind both Cena and Batista that the briefcase “was getting heavy”. In any event, Batista and Edge meet on PPV for what seems like the 50th time since last May. The match is good, and honestly that’s all I can say. This is not a knock on either guy’s ability, but as we’ve stated over the years of these reviews, some combinations just don’t mesh well. Rock and Undertaker never had a stellar match. Neither did Triple H and Kurt Angle. Again, it’s not that any of these guys are lousy workers, lord far from it. It’s just there’s not a lot of Shawn Michaels, Bret Harts and Ric Flairs out there. Those were guys that successfully adapt to their opponents. Triple H is good at it, but not at the level of the guys I mentioned. This match both men looked to reverse the others moves to add late drama. I was actually getting into the groove until the match stopped and the overbooking started up. Out came La Familia to break the three count and then Edge knocks out the referee. Then Vickie Guerrero brings out Chavo as the ref, more chicanery goes down and after a belt shot Edge retains the World Title. The match was actually going very well but all the standing around and haphazard interference (except for the awesome moment when Batista picked Vickie up and threw her at La Familia) took a lot out of it at the end. They added the drama post-match that Batista would never get a World Title shot again. Well the next night on Raw he would get his revenge in a big way. Grade: ** 1/2
Justin: With Undertaker gone, we revisit one of 2007’s biggest feuds as Batista is back in the title picture. As mentioned before, Batista had been drafted over to Raw, but he was vowing he would be arriving on Monday nights with the big gold belt in tow. The hook here was simple: this was Batista’s final shot at the gold as he would be gone from Fridays afterwards. Edge was still Smackdown’s kingpin, backed by the GM and La Familia and carrying with him a star presence and a whole boatload of heat. Foley hits a great line talking about the intensity that Edge brings to these big matches. Batista gets a mega pop here and it looks like the crowd is juiced for this one. These two didn’t exhibit the best chemistry a year ago, so it will be interesting to see if they have cleaned things up a bit. Foley also notes that Batista is winless in title matches against Edge. The Animal used his power early on including a nicely executed jackhammer, which is a move you don’t see often from him. Batista’s red trunks are pretty pimp. Edge was able to catch Batista climbing into the ring as he booted him in the face and then ran him into the post to finally slow his roll. Edge aggressively started to go to work on escaping with his title, peppering him with fists and kicks and also sending him into the announce table in attempt to even win by countout. JR & Foley work really well together as they both know how to put over the psychology and strategy within the match while also blending in the storyline. Edge’s clear goal was to ground the big man, doing anything he could to keep him off his feet. Edge also wrestled confidently and patiently as any time Batista showed any sign of life, he took his time and landed a blow to maintain control. That really played into his confident character as the King of Smackdown. During his comeback, Batista showed that he had learned from past matches as he blocked Edge’s goto moves and landed big blows of his own. The crowd was really rocking and were ready to burst when the Animal got a great near fall off a spear. You could feel him getting a bit desperate, though, perhaps thinking about how often he couldn’t close the deal a year ago and that led to a major mistake when he tried to come off the top rope but ate an Edge dropkick on the way down. La Familia finally arrived and they got there just in time for Vickie Guerrero to bust up a pin attempt after a spinebuster. And speaking of desperation, as Edge was on the verge of being counted out, he yanked Mickey Henson to the floor and decked him in the face. Vickie then called out a new referee: Chavo Guerrero. Batista had finally had enough, as he grabbed Vickie, pressed her high and tossed her down on to the Familia. That was a great spot. Edge took advantage, decked Batista with the belt and picked up the win as Chavo counted the fall. Fuck it, this was a lot of fun and some really good psychology, especially when you consider Batista’s past failures in this spot. The end was a bit choppy with Chavo coming out, but it worked in the bigger picture as La Familia had been corruptly running Smackdown for a while now. This was easily my favorite match between these two guys. So, the big gold belt stays on Smackdown and Batista moves on to Raw, beltless and a loser one more time. Grade: ***
8) Triple H defeats John Cena to retain the WWE Title at 19:37
Fun Fact: This all started the RAW after One Night Stand as Triple H didn’t know who his next challenger would be after Randy Orton was injured during their title match. Cena came out and made the challenge, but then Jeff Hardy comes out, saying not just them won the night before, and challenged Cena to a #1 contender’s match later in the night. Cena would pick up the win in a very good match, and he and the champ would have a confrontation to close out the show. The following week, Cena would get a win over JBL and Triple H provided commentary. The two would have a face to face before Trips tripped Cena as they was jumping off the table. Later that night, Jeff Hardy got a count-out win over the champ as Cena distracted him and the two had another confrontation that ended with Jeff hitting a plancha on both men. On the 6/16 RAW, Cena opened the show and compared his title match to the tune of Hogan slamming Andre and Michaels winning the title at WrestleMania XII. Triple H came out and warned Cena that things have changed since WrestleMania 22 (nice continuity). Cena then responded by saying until Triple H beats him, despite having the title, he is nothing. The two came to blows before Vince intervened and announced Cena would face Umaga in a streetfight; Cena would pick up the win. Triple H faced Chris Jericho later in the evening and won thanks to Lance Cade’s interference. Cena would make the save before he and the champ came to blows and then got laid out by Jericho and Cade. On the 6/23 RAW, Triple H defeated Mark Henry in an interpromotional match that saw Rey Mysterio get drafted to RAW, and Cena defeated Edge in another match that resulted in Batista getting drafted to RAW. Later in the night, Edge won a battle royal that gave Smackdown two draft picks, and Triple H was one of them. The comment Cena made saying that Triple H was nothing until he beat him was the big factor heading into the PPV.
Scott: I have been waiting for this rematch for two long years. As a foundation fan of the Greenwich Blueblood, watching him tap out at WrestleMania XXII in Chicago still bugs me to no end. Sure it was good to legitimize Cena at the time, but as a fan, I’m still irked. Now, over two years later the roles are reversed. The Game is the champ and Cena is the antsy one pacing around the ring. This match will be very different from what Triple H has done with Randy Orton. This will be one of those face-face matches where each guy will get a certain amount of time to get some offense in before a move is reversed, and then the other guy will get some time. Cole and Lawler continue to harp that as the more experienced worker, Triple H will always outsmart the hyped up Cena. Meanwhile it’s noted a few times that Cena was never pinned for the WWE Title. Remember he had to forfeit the title due to injury before No Mercy 2007. The match is worked well as both guys do get their pods of time to work the other over and the crowd is pretty amped too. A lot of the time Cena would get a rush of steam and Triple H would reverse it and make Cena miss a move. Triple H did his flop over the corner but possibly hurt his left knee. Whether it was kayfabe or real I don’t remember, but it was a focal point the rest of the match. By the way, why is it that when somebody throws spit when they get punched, an announcer has to say they’ve lost a tooth? That’s stupid. We do reach the crescendo when both guys start trying to hit each other’s finishers. Then they would hit each other finishers but both guys are too spent to go for covers. Obviously the other subplot is: whenever Cena puts the STFU on, will Triple H tap out again like he did in Chicago? Cena finally tried it late, but Triple H reversed it. After going back and forth Triple H hits the last Pedigree and retains the WWE Title. So right now there’s no top title on Raw. That would change in 24 hours. I don’t know if this match was better or worse than their first one. Both guys wrestle a little differently than they did back then. It was a great match and the crowd was hot. REVENGE! Take that Cenation! Grade: ***1/2
Justin: After nearly two and a half years, Triple H finally gets his chance for WrestleMania revenge as John Cena steps up to challenge for the WWE Title. This match was really just built on a challenge to determine which of these two top superstars was the better man in the ring. SImple and effective with enough of a back story to add some heat to it as well. This crowd was not split at all as they were all over Cena from the first time the horns blared for his entrance. Cole & Lawler were really setting this up as a major big time match, which it was, so no hyperbole there. Cena always looks weird when he has all white sneakers on. Makes him look like he should be doing laps around the mall at 7AM. Triple H’s game plan was to frustrate Cena and have him start wondering if he really was out of The Game’s league. The fans bit on that and immediately fired up the “you can’t wrestle” chants as well. You almost wonder if Cena will end up making a mistake by going away from his usual style by trying to prove he could wrestle as technically well as Hunter. He actually seemed to get stuck in between, mixing in basic strikes with a few varied moves. As Scott mentioned above, there was a lot of back and forth here with each man getting a few minutes to unload their arsenals. Cena would start going for the STFU, which Cole jumped on, bringing up the WM22 finish right away. The fans are just all over Cena any time he lands a strike or move. The first time Hunter went for the Pedigree, Cena kicked him off, sending him careening to the corner, up and over to the floor where he seemingly dinged up his knee. It was smart of them to work that as the injury due to the known leg vulnerabilities of the Game. Cena took advantage and worked over the knee, using the ring post and steps to help batter the bruised joint. Hunter would find a slight opening and hit a Pedigree out of nowhere, but the knee led to a hesitation in covering, allowing Cena to kick out. And it was then Cena’s turn, as he unloaded an FU but also hesitated in going for the pin, so Hunter survived. With the title hanging in the balance, both men squared off in the center of the ring, exhausted and trading huge blows as the crowd was going bananas. What an atmosphere. Cena dropped Hunter with his spinning powerbomb but could not capitalize and just wobbled around the ring, holding his head and jaw. He pulled it together to reverse a whip and take the Game down into the STFU. And here was the make or break moment: would Hunter tap or could he hold on and break the hold? As Cena continued to wrench it in, Hunter was able to reverse the hold into a crossface, putting Cena on the defensive. The fans were willing Cena to tap out, but he powered up to his feet, deadlifting Hunter up into an FU position, but Hunter elbowed free and hit the Pedigree for the win! Wow, what a finish. The majority of the match was by the numbers, in a good way, but the last five minutes were superb, especially once Cena got the STFU hooked in. That definitely felt like a heavyweight war and was a worthy closing segment to a big time WWE showdown. Hunter has evened the score, keeping his belt on Friday nights as well. Cena now has to regroup and wonder if he is outclassed by the Game. Grade: ***1/2
Scott: This could be the WWE’s best PPV of 2008. The combinations were solid and the matches were entertaining, even with a shocking title change that saw an untested rookie win the Intercontinental Title. Since WrestleMania, the product overall really saw some shakeups. The roster moved around, with the most shocking move seeing Triple H (and the WWE Title) move to Smackdown. That was fine because it freshened up the main event scene on Raw. CM Punk was still lingering in the background, wondering who he was going to sneak up on with the MITB Briefcase. The commentary teams were unique, but as much as I loved Mick Foley doing analysis, the political pot shots were getting overbearing. You liked Obama, we get it. No one gives a shit. Batista and Edge rejuvenated their feud with another solid, inoffensive affair. The sequel to the main event of Wrestlemania 22 was top-notch, particularly in the last 5-6 minutes. Triple H gets his win back and now starts up a new feud on the Blue Brand. However what would become the hottest feud of 2008 is just getting started. They’ve wrestled once on PPV already this year and now Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels are about to take it to the next level. As for this show, it’s the best secondary show of 2008 so far. Final Grade: B+
Justin: This was a pretty loaded card with some big time matches, debuts and title changes. Between the draft and the influx of new talent, WWE did a nice job of refreshing the promotion on the fly. I have really been digging the product at this point, as the PPVs have been solid, storylines interesting and we have a good mix of youth and experience littered throughout the roster. I also like the shaken up commentary teams, even though Jim Ross was not very happy that he was moved to Smackdown with no warning. He worked well with Foley though, so it was a welcome change. I will give kudos to these fans as well, as they stayed hot from start to finish and were awarded with a quality show. There were no real stinkers here, but no standout blow away matches either. It was a solid top-to-bottom outing that was entertaining to revisit and a lot hotter than you may remember it being. For now, all the big gold is on Smackdown but some major changes were brewing. Final Grade: B