-To be quite honest, I have almost no interest in watching this pay-per-view other than to keep up my streak of reviewing the recent shows. The word of mouth going around the internet is that both main events delivered, so hopefully I’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.
-The opening video package is different than usual, incorporating a 50’s style intro and then transitions into a music video set to "All Nightmare Long" by Metallica (great song, by the way).
-They are airing live from Portland, Oregon. Our hosts for the evening are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross, Tazz, and Todd Grisham. Matt Striker is missing from action, so Jerry Lawler is filling in for the ECW title match.
Matt Hardy © vs. Mark Henry (with Tony Atlas)
Yep, the ECW title is opening another pay-per-view. And some people still like to argue that it’s a “main event” belt. They lock up and Henry unsurprisingly has the strength advantage. Hardy goes for a headlock but Henry easily tosses him off. Shoulder block by Henry leads to a stretch of dominance. Hardy eventually counters and begins to target Henry’s knees. Henry fights back with a clothesline, but is selling the abuse his knees took. Hardy slips free again and goes back to work on the left leg. The action spills to ringside, where Henry shoves Hardy to the floor. Hardy rebounds quickly and continues to punish the leg. Henry kicks him off and hits a big boot with the good leg. Cover by Henry gets 2. Henry splashes Hardy off the second rope, selling the injured knee nicely along the way. Time for a neck vice. Hardy tries to mount some momentum, but runs straight into a bear hug. Hardy tries to counter with a sunset flip, but Henry holds onto the ropes. Hardy escapes a splash. Hardy mounts some offense, connecting with some elbow shots off the second rope. Side effect by Hardy gets a cover for 2.5. Henry blocks the Twist of Fate and hits a big splash. Henry’s knee is too injured for him to go for the immediate cover, so Hardy kicks out. Hardy blocks the World’s Strongest Slam by repeatedly hitting the leg and nails the Twist of Fate at 8:01 to retain the title. Surprisingly solid big man/little man match up, **½.
Winner and still ECW Champion: Matt Hardy
-Backstage interview with Triple H and Jeff Hardy, who will be facing each other tonight for the WWE Championship. HHH says the only thing Hardy can win tonight is the Mobile poll asking “Who are you rooting for?” Triple H says he wants Hardy to step up and rise to a new level, so that when he wins he can say he beat the best in Jeff Hardy. Jeff promises to win the title tonight.
Beth Phoenix © (with Santino Marella) vs. Candice Michelle
Candice immediately drop-kicks the knee and tries to pick up a quick win. Enziguri by Candice, who follows it up with a round of shots. Beth overpowers Candice, slamming her back-first into the turnbuckles. Candice oversells a kick from the Glamazon, who is now targeting the previously injured shoulder. Oooh, check out that psychology. Candice rebounds with a series of kicks, but can’t seem to wrap things up with her pinfall attempts. Beth counters the Russian legsweep and goes high risk. Candice shakes the ropes to knock the champ into a tree of woe. Drop-kick to the head by Candice gets a cover attempt, but Santino drags Beth to the floor. Candice kicks Santino down, but the distraction allows a clothesline from Beth. The action returns to the ring, where Candice gets a surprise near fall while Beth was yelling at Santino. It doesn’t seem to matter though, as Beth strikes back with the Glam Slam for the win at 4:30. Solid match, enhanced by some fun overbooking, **.
Winner and still Women’s Champion: Beth Phoenix
-Ric Flair is so awesome, you should order his pay-per-view.
-Kane is brooding in a dark corner of the backstage area. He talks some smack about Rey Mysterio and his “false mask of courage.”
Rey Mysterio vs. Kane
The stipulation of the match says that if Rey loses, he must take off his mask. I would have made it so that if Kane loses, he’d have to put his mask back on, but I digress. Rey uses his speed to get the upper hand in the early going, but he soon runs into Kane’s boot. Rey avoids Kane long enough to get himself together and he hits a springboard drop-kick to the lower back. Kane cuts off Rey’s momentum with a hard clothesline. Rey goes for a head-scissors takedown, but Kane blocks and they end up tumbling to ringside. Kane catches Rey in flight and drops him over the barricade. Kane drives Rey back-first into the ring post. The action returns to the ring, where Kane continues to dominate. Rey eventually counters a power move from Kane and plants him on his back. Kane plants Rey on the top rope, prying at the mask. Rey hits a top rope moonsault. Rey drop-kicks the knee and nails a hard kick. Springboard leg drop by Rey gets a cover for 2. Kane rebounds with a side slam for a near fall. Kane signals the choke slam, but Rey escapes. Springboard DDT by Rey, who seemed to tweak his knee in the process. Top rope splash by Rey gets another near fall. Kane nails Rey in the air for a cover. Kane misses a big boot, and Rey 619’s the back of the leg. Kane is dumped from the ring and smashes a chair into Rey, who was diving off the top rope! That draws on the disqualification at 11:00! Nasty non-finish to a surprisingly entertaining match, **¾.
Winner by DQ: Rey Mysterio
-Rey informs the referees that he can’t feel his legs. Ouch.
-Pay a dollar to vote for who you want to win the WWE Championship match on your mobile phone.
-Backstage, MVP is on his cell phone, arguing with an unknown individual. MVP knocks on the GM’s door, and Big Show answers. Show rejects MVP access to Vickie Guerrero. Show warns MVP not to anger him and slams the door in his face.
-Cyber Sunday is only three weeks away, and you won’t want to miss it since the paying customers will be voting for stipulations and the such. I can’t believe they haven’t killed this pay-per-view concept by now.
-MVP heads to the ring, despite not being scheduled to appear. He is annoyed that he doesn’t have a match tonight. His rant is interrupted by Randy Orton. Orton talks down to MVP, which fires him up. MVP reminds Orton that he isn’t on Raw and doesn’t have to answer to Mike Adamle, so he is free to knock him out if he wants. This draws out Ted Dibiase, Cody Rhodes, and Manu. They antagonize Orton on the microphone, which incites a “boring” chant. Cody is smart not to ignore the chants with “Excuse me?” Rhodes accuses Orton of coasting on his reputation. Manu fires back that he couldn’t have done it without them. Orton tells them to talk to him when they’ve accomplished half of what he has. Orton storms out, despite MVP further mocking him on the mic. MVP tries to suck up to the young bucks, but Dibiase dismisses him, since he isn’t the son of a Hall of Famer. MVP brags about making more money than them, to which Dibiase reminds him that he’s the son of the Million Dollar Man. They’ll catch MVP at the next pay-per-view he gets shut out of. MVP is offended and heads off, saying that he’ll remember this. Things heat up, as CM Punk and Kofi Kingston come to the ring. They negotiate with MVP for a minute, and all three of them storm the ring for a brawl. Kingston and Punk were just kidding though, as they stop and allow MVP to enter the ring himself to get his ass kicked. Punk and Kingston use the distraction to their benefit and clear the ring. While I would rather not see these types of segments on $40 pay-per-views, this was actually entertaining.
#1 Contenders match:
John Bradshaw Layfield vs. Batista
Batista is probably due for another title run, since they can’t just have him keep losing all his title opportunities forever and ever. Or can they? Shawn Michaels has done pretty well for himself since 2002. The match begins with an aggressive smashing contest. Batista takes control and attempts an early victory. JBL gets a big boot, but then runs into a spear while attempting the clothesline from hell. JBL retreats to ringside, while Lawler and Cole make cracks about the stock market crashing in a similar fashion. Batista chases JBL back into the ring, where JBL takes advantage. Cover by JBL gets 2. Swinging Neckbreaker by JBL, and a cover for 2. Cue the chinlock! Batista escapes and they slug it out. Batista drops JBL with a clothesline and pummels him into the corner. Batista slams JBL and signals another spear. JBL blocks the spear and attempts a sleeper. Batista counters with a spine buster. Batista wraps things up with the Batista bomb at 5:19. I’m pleased the match was kept short, as it was much more entertaining and effective than the 20 minute stinkers these two have had in the past, **.
-A beaten JBL takes the microphone. He whines about how awful his week has been. JBL wants to be honest with his “fans” and admits that his heart wasn’t into the match. Due to the beating Wall Street took, this was the most traumatic week of his life. JBL thanks congress for the bailout, so now he can keep all his money. This was hilarious! Cryme Tyme appears on the titantron, stealing JBL’s limousine. They fill the limo with women and are randomly joined by Sgt. Slaughter.
The Undertaker vs. Big Show
As per usual with the Undertaker’s feuds, the storyline leading to this match is absolutely terrible. It features lots of spooky music, scary lights, and Vickie Guerrero. Anyhow, the match starts wild, as they brawl out of the ring. Taker sends Show head-first into the ring post, and sets him up on the apron for the leg drop. The action returns to the ring, where Taker continues to dominate. Show strikes back with a clothesline that looked like a shoulder block. Elbow drop by Big Show gets a cover for 2. Side Russian legsweep by Show gets another near fall. Taker strikes back and blocks a slam. Show counters Taker and head-butts. Big Show climbs to the second rope and misses a bomb! Goodness, you don’t see Show attempt a move like that every day. Taker unleashes a series of strikes. Show reverses a hard Irish whip, but runs into a big boot. Taker ducks some clotheslines and connects with one of his own. Leg drop by Taker gets a cover for 2. Undertaker goes “old school” but Show counters with a choke slam. Cover by Big Show gets 2.5. They both attempt choke slams, but Taker ends up countering with a DDT. Undertaker gets a very close near fall. The referee is punked out after stopping Taker from going nuts on Show in the corner, allowing Show to use the distraction to uncover a turnbuckle. Show drives Taker into the exposed steel! Show keeps smashing the head until the referee calls for the bell at 10:09. Big Show is declared the winner. This was much better than what I was expecting, as they put on a worthy brawl, **¾.
Winner: Big Show
-We are treated to the results of the text poll. Jeff Hardy wins by 72%.
Triple H © vs. Jeff Hardy
They shake hands, but Hardy foolishly turns his back afterwards and gets blindsided. They exchange holds but it’s a stalemate. Triple H gets a shoulder tackle and hip toss, but Hardy rebounds with a side headlock takedown. After some back and forth action, Hardy hits a head scissors takedown, dumps HHH from the ring, and connects with a running clothesline off the apron. Back to the ring, Hardy gets a leg drop for a cover. Hardy goes back to the headlock. Triple H dumps Hardy over the ropes, but he lands on his feet. Triple H attempts a pedigree, but Hardy counters with a back drop to the floor. Hardy attempts a plancha, but HHH dodges. Triple H takes too long getting Hardy to the ring for a cover, so he only gets 2. Backbreaker by HHH, who is now in firm control. Triple H dominates for several minutes. In the process, Triple H heels it up at times, grabbing the ropes during an abdominal stretch. Hardy fights out of a sleeper and nails a wrap-around clothesline. Hardy drops his legs into the lower region of The Game, and gets a cover for 2. Hardy follows up with a drop-kick for another cover. Hardy whips HHH so hard he falls over the ropes. Hardy attempts another plancha and this time it connects. Off the ropes clothesline gets Hardy a cover for 2. Desperate clothesline by Triple H gets a near fall. Hardy blocks HHH off the ropes and hits a face buster suplex for a very close near fall. HHH awkwardly blocks the Whisper in the Wind and gets another near fall. Spinebuster by Triple H, who looks ready for the kill. Hardy blocks the pedigree and catapults The Game into the turnbuckles. Hardy succeeds with the Whisper in the Wind and gets a cover for 2.5! Hardy goes high risk but misses the swanton bomb! Hardy blocks the pedigree again and hits the Twist of Fate! Hardy connects with the Swanton Bomb and somehow HHH kicks out and reverses the cover to retain the title at 17:03. Every fan in that building was convinced that Hardy was winning the match at the end. Very well worked match that really picked up at the end, ***¾.
Winner and still WWE Champion: Triple H
-After the match, Triple H shows his respect to Hardy and is behaving as if he was just in the war of his life. He heads to the back where Arn Anderson congratulates him on the victory. Vladimir Kozlov shows up and gets into HHH’s face and threatens him in Russian. Kozlov offers his own congratulations, but it wasn’t anywhere near as friendly as Anderson’s.
Ladder match for the World Heavyweight Championship:
Chris Jericho © vs. Shawn Michaels
Back and forth action to kick off the match. Michaels attempts Sweet Chin Music, but Jericho avoids connection. Jericho sidesteps Michaels, sending him into the ring post. More back and forth action, with Jericho clothes lining HBK onto the apron and drop-kicking him to the floor. They fight on the floor, and Michaels jumps off the standing ladder to knock Jericho off his feet. Jericho responds by whipping HBK into the ring post. Jericho tries to use the ladder as a weapon, but HBK drop toe holds Jericho face-first into the steel. HBK wields the ladder, but Jericho blocks and applies the Walls of Jericho. Y2J tries pulling the ladder into the ring, but Michaels see-saws it into his face, busting him open in the mouth. HBK positions the ladder beneath the gold and attempts the win. Jericho zooms up and attempts a power bomb, but it’s blocked. Jericho catapults HBK towards the steel, but he lands on his feet and climbs. Jericho responds by tipping the ladder over. Jericho drives the ladder into HBK’s ribs. Jericho leaves a ladder in the turnbuckle, and HBK counters a bulldog and sends him crashing into the steps. HBK props a ladder in the ropes and drops Jericho knee-first onto it. Figure four leglock by Michaels! Jericho kicks the ladder so that it spins into HBK’s face. With the ladder still propped in the ropes, Jericho catapults Michaels face-first into it! Jericho is now clearly targeting the previously injured eye of Shawn Michaels. HBK pushes Jericho off the ladder, but Jericho retains control. HBK counters Jericho, sending him crashing into a ladder on the turnbuckle. HBK lifts the ladder up over his head and DROPS it on Jericho on the floor! That was brutal!
Shawn Michaels sets up the bigger ladder at ringside and beats Jericho repeatedly with the smaller one. That’s nasty stuff, man. Michaels sets Jericho on the Smackdown announce table (in front of the large ladder). Michaels climbs, but Jericho cuts him off. They both fall off and go smashing through the table! It takes a few minutes for them to crawl back into the ring. Jericho counters HBK, drop-kicking the ladder into him on the top rope. Jericho climbs the ladder leaning against HBK and attempts a big superplex. HBK fights him off and sends Y2J crashing to the mat, with the ladder landing on him. HBK nails a risky flying elbow drop, missing the ladder and hitting Jericho. HBK attempts Sweet Chin Music, but Jericho blocks using the ladder. With the ladder laying on Michaels, Jericho hits the lionsault. Jericho pins Michaels with the ladder and attempts the win. Right before Jericho can grip the belt, HBK tips the ladder over, sending Jericho crashing to the floor in an extremely dangerous spot! Jericho appears to have tweaked his knee. HBK climbs and touches the belt, but Jericho crawls back and tips the ladder, causing HBK to land crotch-first on the ropes. They both climb back to the top and trade shots. Jericho gets tied up in the steps, so Lance Cade runs in to make the save. Michaels fights off Cade, but Y2J has his hands on the gold. Michaels races up and they each grab a different side of the belt and are in a tug of war. Jericho nails a head-butt and claims the gold for himself at 22:18! That was a nifty finish. This wasn’t as spotty as ladder matches tend to be, as they focused on using the ladder as a means of revenge from start to finish. Excellent main event, ****¼.
Winner and still World Heavyweight Champion: Chris Jericho
Final Thoughts: There isn’t a single bad match to be found here. The undercard surpassed my expectations at almost every turn, as Henry/Hardy, Kane/Mysterio, and Show/Taker were all much better than what I was expecting. Both main events delivered the goods, with Triple H bringing his working boots, Jeff Hardy was elevated despite the loss, and Jericho and Michaels capped off their feud with a worthy ladder match. This pay-per-view was a vacuum of excitement on paper, but everyone worked hard to put on a great show.