Um… hm… This post is late as it is and I’m still having trouble figuring out an intro to show before the link jump. Lesse…
Austin Roll it is!
Austin discovering the beauty of the internet is an exhibit of evidence that God exists.
Now back to the regularly scheduled list.
17) SUMMERSLAM 1996
Date: August 18, 1996
Era: New Generation
Location: Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio
Known as: That one with the Boiler Room Brawl
Shawn Michaels has finally reached his boyhood dream of being champ and in a six-man tag at a previous PPV, he got crushed and pinned after experiencing Vader’s devastating Vader Bomb. Now he has to defend his belt against a guy who seems completely unbeatable. Speaking of guys in over their heads, Undertaker has come across his fiercest opponent yet in the form of Mankind. Despite not sharing the size of guys like King Kong Bundy, King Mabel and Giant Gonzales, Mankind has been able to get under Undertaker’s skin more than anyone else. At every turn, the madman newcomer has been able to leave Undertaker immobile and outclassed. Now they’re going to fight it out in Mankind’s own playground, the boiler room.
By the way, a few months earlier, they had the King of the Ring tournament won by one “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who then coined his new catchphrase “Austin 3:16″. So how do they follow up on this push? A very brief match with Yokozuna on the pre-show where Austin is squashed until Yokozuna misses a Banzai Drop due to tearing the top ropes off and falling back from his immense weight. Oy.
The intro plays up the roles of Mankind and Vader as creatures of pure horror with our heroes Michaels and Undertaker as their soon-to-be victims. Because of Ahmed Johnson being too injured to compete, his match with Farooq Asad is turned into an in-ring promo with Farooq and his manager Sunny. This is during Farooq’s silly pastel gladiator phase, so it’s hard to take him serious at all. Doc Hendrix does a sitdown interview with Michaels where we get nothing much out of it other than how much it sucks to have Vader fall on you. On the other side of it, Cornette represents Vader with some angry rant that relates the match to Frampton Comes Alive. Marc Mero cuts a promo so uninteresting that I forget what’s even said seconds after it ends. Todd Pettingill goes to the boiler room to interview Mankind and finds him actually licking the gross, rusty pipes nearby. Ew.
Sycho Sid gets a sweet promo in there where they add to his dementia by making the cameras crooked and angled weird, almost like what they’d do during the villain scenes on old Batman episodes. More enjoyable is Sid’s appearance in the AOL room. Look at this loony bastard.
At some point in the show, they give us a Michaels video package that is more than just a little homoerotic. And I say that after just having typed something about Mankind licking pipes.
Our opening match is Savio Vega vs. “The Black Hart” Owen Hart. Owen is in the middle of an angle where his wrist is healing in a cast, which he’s been wearing for quite a while. Jim Ross questions how he got medically cleared to wrestle if that was truly the case, but fellow commentator Mr. Perfect ignores that. Owen tries to go for the cast shot early on and the ref gets in his way. Savio then makes him pay by slamming the cast against the corner pad… which I guess we can pretend can in some way hurt. Owen still uses it as his go-to weapon and misses when he tries to drop the cast onto a prone Savio’s face. Savio rolls Owen up and gets kicked off, sending him shoulder-first into the corner. Owen works Savio’s arm over as revenge and it gets uncharacteristically boring on both sides for a bit, no matter who’s in charge of the flow. Crooked lawyer Clarence Mason comes out to watch the match just as Owen gets Savio with an enziguri out of nowhere. He pins Savio in the corner while putting his legs on the ropes for more leverage, but it doesn’t work out. He argues with the ref over it and Savio rolls him up. Still, the pin doesn’t go through.
Owen sets Savio up in the corner and runs in his direction. Savio nearly takes Owen’s head off with one hell of a roundhouse kick. Unfortunately, Savio just can’t put Owen away no matter what he tries. He ducks for a backdrop and Owen gives him a neckbreaker followed by a Missile Dropkick. Savio kicks out. Owen climbs to the top where Savio crotches him. He gives him a back suplex off the top rope, but due to the positioning, Savio’s head hits the cast during the fall and he takes the worst of the bump. Owen removes his cast and nails Savio and then puts him in the Sharpshooter, where he’s too unconscious to even feel the pain let alone submit. This would be all well and good, except Owen did the cast shot RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE REFEREE and they play it off like he didn’t.
Still, a decent enough opener. Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw then comes out to yell at Vince McMahon and attacks Savio for whatever reason.
Next up, the Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart Gunn) defend the Tag Team Championship in a four-way elimination match against the Bodydonnas (Skip and Zip), the Godwinns (Henry and Phineas Godwinn) and the New Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Leif Cassady). This one is just completely weird to see start up because I can’t remember off the top of my head at the time who is a face and who is a heel. On the heel side, we have the New Rockers and the Smoking Gunns, who turned heel after getting Sunny as their manager. With the faces, we have the Godwinns and the Bodydonnas. Man, I don’t remember that at all. Also notable is how Skip has his neck in a brace, which I suppose is a legitimate injury since he doesn’t enter the match ever and he gets fired shortly after.
Billy and Henry start it off and once things don’t seem to be going Billy’s way, he tags in Zip. Henry tags in Phineas and it looks like we’re going to see some face vs. face action. Instead, the two both tag in the Smoking Gunns, strut across the ring side-by-side and hug. I don’t know what the fuck that was, but I like it. Bart gets frustrated and tags Zip back in. Zip isn’t long for the match as Marty trips him and Billy drops an elbow on the back of his head. He’s pinned and the Bodydonnas are out. The Rockers each work over Henry and then bring Billy in. They all seem to be on the same page until the Rockers keep accidentally hitting Billy. All four heels argue until the Godwinns grab them by the heads and drive all four skulls into each other. Leif rolls up Henry, gets kicked off into Marty, Henry brings him in for the Slop Drop and pins him. Now we’re down to the Gunns vs. the Godwinns.
Henry clotheslines Billy, getting one of those great flippy sells out of it. The Gunns then take over with Billy yelling down at Henry. Billy definitely shows more effort in his heel turn, loudly and charismatically jawing at the fans here and there. His good fortune doesn’t last as a Stinger Splash on Henry is turned into a powerslam. Henry makes the tag and Phineas opens up on the two cowboys. Henry gets his second wind and clotheslines Bart out while Phineas hits the Slop Drop on Billy. Some altercation between Sunny and Hillbilly Jim distracts the ref and Bart flies off the top and nails Phineas with an elbow. Billy gets the pin and the champs retain. Pretty solid match with one of the earliest uses of the elimination gimmick. Sunny then cuts a promo where she reveals a gigantic poster of her for the sake of vanity.
Outside of the main event, our next match is my favorite of the night and it surprises me. “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith faces Sycho Sid. Sid is a crazy face at this time and I can’t believe how little I remember of him during this time. Sure, he became champ a couple times, but even then I watch the crowd take him in and feel like the WWF didn’t promote him as a major guy enough. He seemed to just be an opponent for guys they wanted to focus on more like Michaels and Undertaker.
The power clash between the two has Sid bodyslam Bulldog, who ends up having to take a powder. God, Sid is over as fuck here. The two do some actual mat wrestling for a moment or two and Bulldog starts to get the advantage, even pulling off his vertical suplex where he holds his opponent straight up for several seconds. Clarence Mason comes out again to watch Bulldog clothesline Sid out of the ring and then clothesline him off the apron. Soon enough, Sid’s back in it and the two have a good old hoss fight, only they’re both speedy enough to make something out of it. Bulldog lands his running powerslam, but then gets distracted when he sees Jim Cornette run out to yell at Mason for trying to steal his wrestlers. Bulldog figures he’ll go for another running powerslam, Sid slides out, delivers a chokeslam and then a powerbomb to finish him off. I’m surprised we didn’t see more matches between these two.
Goldust goes at it with “Wildman” Marc Mero in a pretty bleh outing. Goldust taunts and slaps Mero, only to use the ref as a shield. Mero starts out exciting and fast-paced, but then becomes completely boring. While the two go at it, Mankind runs out to yell at Sable as if she’s his mother and she freaks out. I remember Mick Foley found out where this angle was going and nixed it because it was stupid. Then he rushes to the back and we’re left with these two. Man is it a slow match. So, so slow. They hype up Mero’s brand new finisher, which turns out to be a 450 Splash. Thanks to Marlena distracting the ref for a moment, Goldust kicks out. Um… yeah. Great job getting that move over, WWF. Mero keeps on him with a powerslam, but he still can’t get the win. He runs at Goldust in the corner, Goldust moves at the last second and then beats Mero with the Curtain Call. Afterwards, Goldust harasses Sable until Mero gets his wind back and kicks his ass. Pointless mess.
Good God, I’m looking at my notes for what the next match is and the head-shaking dumbness of Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts comes back to me. The feud brings to the table one question again and again: WHY? The whole thing is a lot like the CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy feud, down to how the heel claims the recovering face addict is a liar when it comes to being clean and that turns out to be the real life truth. Before the match, Mark Henry makes his WWF debut by joining the commentary team. These days, Mark Henry is able to sound off like a badass without having a microphone near him, just yelling stuff like, “THE DESTRUCTION WILL NOT END! LET HIM SUFFER LIKE I HAVE SUFFERED!” Fifteen years makes a ton of difference because his commentary is pretty damn awkward. At one point, he laughs at Lawler’s tasteless jokes against Jake when he’s really supposed to be angry about it. Supposedly, Vince gives him the stink-eye over this and he figures it out.
Jake puts his snake (I think he’s on his third snake Revelations at this point) around Lawler, causing him to run away and since we got the face payoff out of the way at the start, Lawler is going to win. Lawler tries to bribe Jake with liquor and Jake slaughters him for it. Jake just savages him for a while until Lawler blinds him with, well, a cup of soda of all things. Jake gets tied into the ropes and Lawler tries to force-feed him some alcohol. Jake kicks him and escapes before he can, tries for a couple DDTs but each time Lawler worms his way out of it. Lawler hits him with a bottle to the throat – which is again RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE REFEREE – and pins him while holding the tights. After the match he pours some booze down Jake’s throat, which may or may not have been real booze and eventually Mark Henry gets up and scares him off.
Undertaker fights Mankind in the Boiler Room Brawl, which is another one of those matches that’s well regarded but does nothing for me. The two have to fight it out in a dank boiler room, fight their way out of it, race to the ring and whoever gets Paul Bearer’s urn first is the winner. It starts out pretty cool. Undertaker slowly walks down a hallway, hesitates at the door and enters the room. He wanders around in silence until Mankind comes out of nowhere and hits him with some metal. The entire match is shown on the Titantron with front row fans getting to watch monitors set up around the ring. There’s no commentary and no crowd reaction at all. Just two dudes beating each other with whatever they come across and shoving each other into stuff. Every now and then, the feed would cut off and turn to static until returning to the match, suggesting that it took several takes for them to get the match filmed. The aimless weapon brawling goes on for a long, long time and comes off as a strange experiment more than anything else.
Thanks to knocking Mankind off a ladder and then blasting his face with a fire extinguisher, Undertaker is able to reach the door and open it. Then Mankind drags him back in. Mankind escapes the room and barricades the door, but Undertaker breaks through. As they fight it out in the hallways, the other wrestlers appear to egg them on. This is also the only real appearance of Steve Austin at this PPV. After Mankind hits Undertaker with a pot of hot coffee, they make their way to the arena. Mankind gives Undertaker a piledriver onto the concrete, but when he climbs into the ring, Undertaker grabs him by the ankle and drags him back out. They duke it out on the apron and Undertaker pulls the rope back, causing Mankind to fall hard onto the concrete. He enters, kneels before Paul Bearer and his loyal manager refuses to give him the urn. Mankind reenters, gets Undertaker with the Mandible Claw and Paul laughs it up. Paul tells Mankind to stop and as Undertaker crawls over to him in confusion, Paul dents the urn on Undertaker’s head. Mankind gets the urn and Paul Bearer starts his heel turn with the catchphrase that fails to sweep the nation, “I’m Paul Bearer and you’re not!” Afterwards, some druids appear and drag Undertaker away like he’s Christ.
It has a couple cool moments, but it just drags like crazy. This show would be an awful lot lower on the list if it wasn’t for our main event of “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels defending the WWF Championship against the Man They Call Vader. I call him Vader, so I guess I’m part of “they”. Nice.
This match is the perfect storm. The stars are aligned. On one side, you have a popular good guy who isn’t especially big, but can pull out some neat surprises. On the other side, you have a monster heel who appears unbeatable and is at the peak of his storyline toughness. They’re both great workers. The best thing you can do in a climactic match like this is put your hero in a situation where even we, the viewer, can’t imagine how he’s going to get out of it a winner unless they pull out some poorly-written bullshit. If they can make us believe that he can win without making it stupid, it will be wrestling gravy.
They lock up and Vader pummels him. Michaels catches a kick, sweeps him and starts kicking and punching the sitting Vader. He gets Vader out of the ring and uses his high-flying skills to stay one step ahead of the Mastadon. He also fakes a Baseball Slide so he could really just get face-to-face with Jim Cornette and scare the bejeezus out of him. Michaels is going strong with hurricanranas and lucha splashes all over the place. It isn’t until he jumps out of the ring at Vader that the tide turns. Vader catches him and drops him to the floor with a powerbomb. Vader continues to pummel him and during a back suplex attempt, Michaels escapes and delivers a series of punches to zero effect. He’s basically fucked at this point.
Michaels still uses his quickness to dodge some attacks and stun Vader once or twice, but the second time he shows off by doing the Skin the Cat spot, he’s caught and slammed face-first into the mat. Vader puts him in a chinlock and although Michaels is able to escape, his comeback is snuffed out before it can even start. Vader jumps up with intent on sitting on Michaels, only for Michaels to put his knees up and nail him in the crotch. In an amusing moment, Michaels climbs up for a top-rope elbow drop. Vader rolls out of the way, but early enough that Michaels is able to land on his feet, take a step forward and stomp right down on his face. He gives Vader a crossbody and they both go out over the top rope. Vader gets the best of him and press slams him onto the guardrail. Vader wins by countout, but Cornette won’t hear of it. He wants that damn title! He demands an immediate rematch and if Michaels doesn’t accept, he’s a gutless coward. Hence, Michaels accepts.
Vader attacks him on the outside and Cornette hits him with a racket when the ref’s distracted. Vader delivers an Avalanche, a belly-to-belly suplex and figures that’s enough for the pin. It isn’t. A powerbomb is countered with a series of punches and Michaels gets a flurry of comeback offense in. He hits an elbow from the top and sets up Sweet Chin Music. Cornette grabs his leg to stop him, so Michaels steals his racket and beats Vader with it. Vader wins by disqualification and again Cornette wants the match restarted. In the third version of the match, Michaels hits another top-rope elbow and follows with Sweet Chin Music. Vader kicks out! Michaels tries a headlock and gets shoved right into the ref. Vader powerbombs him, but has nobody to count. A new ref shows up and Michaels kicks out just in time. Vader climbs up for the Vader Bomb, decides he’s going to do a moonsault instead, but misses Michaels completely. Michaels climbs up and hits his own moonsault and gets the pin an instant before Vader kicks out. Too little, too late.
The story goes that Vader was meant to go over and win the title, but Michaels changed it up. In the end, I can’t care too much about it. We got one hell of an underdog match out of it and one of Summerslam’s best enders.
16) SUMMERSLAM 2007
Date: August 26, 2007
Era: Cena Era
Location: Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Known as: The one where they had Cena vs. Orton before it became completely overdone
Looking at the card, this show has maybe the least interesting lead up. John Cena is going to defend his title against Randy Orton because Orton’s earned a title shot. At least at this point, Cena vs. Orton is a pairing that they’ve spent years keeping apart so that it’ll be a big deal when it happens. Due to a vacated World Heavyweight Championship, Smackdown had a battle royal to crown a new champ and came out with the Great Khali as a winner for some godforsaken reason. Now Batista is out to get his belt back. Then you have the return of Triple H. King Booker has been messing with Jerry Lawler for not being as good a king as him, which is only setup for the “King of Kings” to set things right.
We have some dramatic previews of our top matches in the intro, focusing on the gist of Rey vs. Chavo, Batista vs. Khali and Orton vs. Cena. Then it cuts into a 6 Million Dollar Man homage in regards to Triple H’s comeback. “We can rebuild him,” and all that. During the show they have a vignette about how Rey Mysterio is coming back TONIGHT! Well, thanks for the advertising, guys! I’ll make sure to buy the show that I’m currently watching. King Booker gets time on the mic, talking about the fairytale story of Triple H’s return and how it pales in comparison to his ascent into kinghood.
One of the stronger segments is part of the MVP vs. Matt Hardy angle where they keep trying to outdo each other in non-wrestling competitions. This time it’s a beer drinking contest and Matt has himself replaced with Steve Austin, who proceeds to do some push-ups, run the ropes and give MVP a Stunner.
Unfortunately, we’re fed some crappy backstage skits involving the Vince McMahon paternity suit angle. He and his subordinates hang out in his office while they wonder who his bastard son on the roster could be. The angle is dragged out even more and we get no closure, but we do have Vince nearly raped by Mae Young, only to have Vince decide that he kinda liked it. It isn’t all bad news, though. After all, we do get this classic William Regal moment.
I don’t talk up the commentary enough, but this show has JBL there and it’s better off for it.
Kane vs. Finlay is our opener and I’m pleased. It’s two guys whose gimmicks are that they love to beat the shit out of everyone in their way. Kane comes into this at a disadvantage as his ribs are taped up. He still starts off on top, even agitating his ribs when hitting an elbow drop. He keeps control for a while until running into a boot. Finlay climbs to the top rope and Kane punches him out of the ring. Finlay gets back at him and works specifically on the ribs. He does a cool Half Crab with one of his knees jammed into Kane’s ribs. Then, out of nowhere, Kane nails an enziguri. Kane does his top-rope clothesline, but the pain is still evident. It’s even worse when he runs into the corner and there’s nobody there to cushion the impact. Hornswoggle appears from under the ring and it looks like he’s going to mess with Kane somehow. Instead, Kane sits up and Hornswoggle runs away. Kane boots Finlay, pulls the leprechaun back into the ring, chokes him and lets go so he can choke Finlay instead. The ribs are too hurt for him to complete the chokeslam and he falls to a DDT.
Finlay removes the pad from one of the turnbuckles and uses it as a distraction so the ref doesn’t see him get his shillelagh. Kane hits him before he can use it, only for Hornswoggle to hand Finlay a second shillelagh. He smashes it into Kane’s ribs, rolls him up and Kane miraculously kicks out. Finlay misses a lunge to the corner and smashes his shoulder into the post. Kane pulls off a chokeslam – strained as his expression is – and pins him. He sells the pain, but remains smiling about his win. Definitely one of Kane’s best matches in the past few years.
Next is Umaga defending the Intercontinental Championship against Carlito and Mr. Kennedy in a Triple Threat Match. This is during the very, very short window where they’re trying to push Umaga as a face. Kennedy pats him on the back and the wild Samoan reacts with a thrust to the throat. Umaga dominates the two challengers and tries for his running hip-to-face move on Carlito, only for Kennedy to grab him by the leg. Carlito dropkicks him out of the ring and Kennedy throws him into the steps. Carlito rolls up Kennedy for the pin, only the ref won’t count because he sees Carlito grabbing the ropes for leverage. The stuff between Kennedy and Carlito is solid work, but Umaga reenters the match. He gives Carlito a headbutt off the second rope and sets him up for an Avalanche. Kennedy moves Carlito out of the way at the last second, then hits Umaga with a monitor. It isn’t enough. The two decide to join forces and Carlito is extremely desperate. A double-suplex is reversed and Umaga suplexes both of them at the same time instead. He destroys both of them and finally hits his hip smash on Carlito’s face. He runs at Kennedy and ends up falling out of the ring. Kennedy uses this opportunity to hit his flipping Samoan Drop on Carlito. Umaga breaks the pin, gives Kennedy the Samoan Spike and retains the title. Great work by all three guys and I’m still disappointed that they didn’t give Umaga’s face run more time before scrapping it completely.
The returning Rey Mysterio goes toe-to-toe with Chavo Guerrero, who put him out of action originally. Rey comes to the ring a bit chunkier than usual and with silver paint all over him, trying to do his best Norrin Radd impression. Most of the match is the kind of ace lucha action you’d expect from these two. Lots of cool spots including Rey doing a flipping senton out of the ring and landing on his feet. Rey’s luck takes a break when he climbs to the top and Chavo turns it into a Tree of Woe. The announcers have been making a big deal about Rey’s hurt knee and Chavo starts punching it. He puts Rey in all sorts of leg holds in hopes of making him tap, including one of my favorite submissions, the Brock Lock. Rey gets a sudden enziguri and sets him up for the 619. He runs across the ring and his knee gives out. Chavo continues to work the leg over until Rey is able to put Chavo himself in the Tree of Woe. Rey gets some revenge by kicking Chavo’s leg. After a couple sentons, Rey’s selling his leg. Rey does a moonsault, it gets caught and Rey turns it into a DDT. Chavo puts his leg on the rope to stop the pin. Rey misses a top-rope crossbody and Chavo capitalizes with a Gory Bomb. Rey kicks out! His sets up for another 619, misses it and starts to fall victim to the Three Amigos. Before the third suplex, Rey reverses it and once again sets him up for the 619. He races across the ring and this time nails him. He follows with a plancha splash and gets his well-deserved win. A hat trick of great matches so far.
Which means it’s time for the Diva Battle Royal, featuring Brooke, Jillian Hall, Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Layla, Kristal Marchall, Maria, Michelle McCool, Melina, Beth Phoenix, Victoria and Torrie Wilson. I’m a battle royal mark myself, but even that can’t save this match. A lot of it is boring stuff. Early on, Beth effortlessly tosses out Brooke and then Kelly and Torrie team up, though unable to get rid of the Glamazon. On commentary, Lawler has one of the better lines when he says that Kelly Kelly looks like his fourth wife. When Jim Ross asks how many times he’s been married anyway, Lawler tells him three. There are a couple eliminations that feel a little more interesting and unique than just someone falling out of the ring because the script calls for it, but those are few and far between. By the end, our final four are Melina, Torrie, Beth and McCool. They pair off in faces vs. heels. Melina botches a clothesline that flips McCool out of the ring while Beth easily removes Torrie and the she just as easily throws Melina out. Pretty uneventful match and the celebration is interrupted by the MVP/Matt Hardy beer segment.
John Morrison defends the ECW Championship against CM Punk. While the two have had great matches over the years together, many agree that this isn’t really one of their best. The wrestling in the beginning is pretty cool and all, but soon it just stops being engaging. Punk fights out of a chinlock, Morrison Slingshots him into the corner, Punk lands on the second rope and surprises Morrison with a crossbody. We get a cool series of reversals from CM Punk’s knee-to-face/bulldog combo to a back suplex to a kick to the head. Finally, it’s starting to go somewhere. The Moonlight Drive is escaped and Punk clotheslines him as set up for a moonsault. Morrison kicks out. Punk backdrops Morrison so that instead of landing on his back, he lands crotch-first on the ropes, then Punk clotheslines him off. Punk sets up a top-rope hurricanrana, but Morrison doesn’t fall with him, leaving Punk to hit the mat. Morrison rolls him up for a pin while trying to get his legs up on the ropes. He can’t get the spot to look right, but pins him regardless. Luckily, the two of them would improve their match style. I seem to recall that they would have fantastic matches on TV, but whenever it’s PPV, it would tank.
Triple H returns to face King Booker, which is incredibly short all things considered. Booker cheapshots him to start and Triple H out-brawls him. Sharmell trips Triple H and Booker dropkicks his knee. In response, Triple H clips Booker’s leg and puts him in the Figure Four. He lets go when Sharmell scrapes his eyes. They get up and Booker hits a skipping sidekick. The two take part in a dizzy brawl with Triple H as the victor. They go to the outside, Triple H slams Booker into the steps, throws him back in and drives him down with a spinebuster. He goes for a Pedigree and Booker escapes. Booker tries for his Scissors Kick and Triple H dodges it, only to walk right into a Bookend. He kicks out. Booker goes for his Harlem Hangover and misses. Another Pedigree attempt is escaped, Booker misses a sidekick, gets pulled in for a Pedigree, it finally hits and the match is done. The match is way too short considering the lengthy intro and celebration we have to sit through. I guess it’s a mix of them trying to make Triple H seem so unbeatable upon return and Booker being on his way out. Booker somehow looked better off in their Wrestlemania match and we know how that worked for him.
The Great Khali defends the World Heavyweight Championship against Batista. The more I watch these shows the more intriguing I find Great Khali matches. I find that despite his endless failings in the ring, he can be booked and carried into a great match. I think this is one of the best examples because it’s pretty watchable until the nonsensical ending. Khali overpowers Batista early on and throws him around in and out of the ring. Batista starts clotheslining him, trying to get him to fall, but runs right into a brain chop. Khali delivers some terrible shoulders into the corner to crush Batista, then puts him in a double trapezius hold. It at least looks cool, Batista is able to make the escape drama look like something worth a damn and the commentators hype up the effect of the move to the point that I’m genuinely enjoying a Khali resthold segment. Batista escapes with a jawbreaker, only to run into a boot. Khali tries for the Vice Grip, which the angle has treated as absolute death, but Batista is able to block it by grabbing Khali’s wrists and pulling them back before he can apply it. It pays off and he gives Khali a spinebuster.
He sets up for the Batista Bomb (yeah, like that’s going to happen) and gets shoved into the corner. Batista climbs to the top and jumps off at Khali, but gets caught with a double chokeslam. Batista kicks out. This is where the match goes from actually enjoyable to downright stupid. Khali has the match well in hand. He can even use that Vice Grip that’s supposed to be unstoppable once applied or even deliver another chokeslam. Instead, he leaves the ring, picks up a chair, comes back in and gets himself disqualified. Why does he do this? It makes no sense other than coming up with a way for him to keep the belt. Even JBL is pissed, claiming that both the fans and Batista deserve better. Khali is about to go for another chairshot, but eats a Spear. Batista ends it by beating Khali with a chair before leaving.
Just to note, at 12 minutes, Rey vs. Chavo is the only match of this show so far to break ten minutes. Everything else is around the seven minute mark.
Our main event is John Cena defending the WWE Championship against Randy Orton. Since it’s Cena, the crowd is split as the two take turns putting each other in headlocks. Early attempts at the STFU and the RKO are made, with neither making it. The offense goes back and forth. Cena does a shoulder tackle and misses completely. Orton ends up shoving him off the ring apron and into a table. Orton, as he’s wont to do, slows it down with a chinlock, which Cena escapes with a back suplex. Orton gets him back to the mat and circles him with the Garvin Stomp, then delivers a powerslam, which is the most enjoyable part of the match for me. Why? Because Jim Ross called it a powerslam. Not a scoop slam. A FUCKING POWERSLAM! JESUS CHRIST, MICHAEL COLE! IT’S A POWERSLAM! CALL IT A POWERSLAM!
There’s an overly lengthy resthold spot that Cena breaks out of before hitting a couple shoulder tackles and the Five Knuckle Shuffle. The FU is reversed into Orton’s patented inverted backbreaker, then does his DDT with Cena’s legs held up by the second rope. Cena gets the advantage back and climbs to the top. Orton punches him and presses the attack, only for Cena to shove him off and hit his top-rope legdrop to the back of the head. Again, he tries the FU and Orton gets out of it by pulling Cena’s head over the top rope. He sets up his career-threatening punt, misses, gets caught in the STFU and grabs the rope. Cena lets go, regroups for a second and walks right into an RKO. He kicks out of the pin. Orton pulls him back up, Cena gives him an FU out of nowhere and wins the match. Same old Cena shit.
The PPV is three excellent matches followed by a series of fights that are aggressively mediocre.