ECW on Sci-Fi #91 02/26/2008

We’re in Tucson, AZ and our main event is CM Punk vs. Elijah Burke vs. Shelton Benjamin and OH SHIT IT’S THIS MATCH, rev up the GIF making machine. But first here’s some dude’s sign.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi #91 02/26/2008

ECW on Sci-Fi #90 02/19/2008

We’re in San Diego, CA and Ric Flair is here to talk about being inducted into the Hall Of Fame but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to retire (he wasn’t kidding) but Elijah Burke interrupts to say he’s the new Flair. (yeah, David). Shelton Benjamin shows up to remind us all Burke & Benjamin are still a thing and to tell Flair he’s the NEW Gold Standard. It ends with Flair getting attacked until CM Punk makes the save. Basic set-up for tonight’s main event, highlight was some guy excited for Tim.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi #90 02/19/2008

ECW on Sci-Fi #89 02/12/2008

We’re in Houston, Texas the week after the historic Gulf Of Mexico match. We get clips of Chavo being saved by scuba divers and he complains about how ill he is after falling into the disgusting Gulf. Oh and he was stung by a jellyfish which amuses some NFL-Dad type so much he gives it a standing ovation.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi #89 02/12/2008

ECW on Sci-Fi #88 02/05/2008

We’re in Corpus Christi, Texas and Kofi Kingston has been added to the intro but I don’t see him lasting long. CM Punk starts the show to a roaring reaction to a SOLD OUT CROWD here to watch Smackdown afterwards. Punk recaps last week’s Mariachi Celebration, insisting that although he’s Straight-Edge he does like a good party and we get Dramatic Replays of El Kabong.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi #88 02/05/2008

ECW on Sci-Fi #87 01/29/2008

Last week Chavo succeeded in winning the ECW Title from CM Punk in a No DQ match with help from his La Familia Edge. Tonight in Reading Chavo celebrates with a CHAMPIONSHIP FIESTA.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi #87 01/29/2008

ECW on Sci-Fi #86 01/22/2008

We’re in the University of Virginia with new graphics and set as the HD era has begun and tonight Chavo gets a title shot after losing twice because he has something of an edge.

Nah that’s too subtle. Edge helped him win last week.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi #86 01/22/2008

ECW on Sci-Fi #83 01/01/2008

Dramatic recap of MVP beating up Punk so badly that he lost, followed by Chavo beating up Punk. I’m glad they stopped there, any further down the ladder and Kim Chee would have beat up Punk.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi #83 01/01/2008

Kayfabe Commentaries Timeline Series: 2008 WWE Blue as told by Brian Myers (Curt Hawkins)

This was released on December 22, 2014

The interview was conducted by Sean Oliver

It runs for two hours and one minute long.

For those wondering the “Blue” part of the title means that the interview only covers the Smackdown and ECW brands for this year.

JANUARY

Brian is asked about Batista. He says that at first he was intimidated by him and that he had a tone and demeanor that made him seem unapproachable but when he and Zack Ryder worked against him, he couldn’t have been more wrong about him and that he is one of the most generous and nicest guys. Brian also said that Batista is the only wrestler he knew that would go out of his way to learn everyone’s real name. Brian confirms Batista reputation as a ladies man when asked. Sean then asks him about Zack and he said that Zack began training three weeks after he began and they were suggested that they team together because they look alike. Brian then talks about his time training in Deep South for WWE Developmental under Bill DeMott, who was a drill sergeant and tough, but they both were so hungry to make it to the main roster that they would do anything asked of them. He is then asked about Zack’s YouTube videos as Brian said that Zack acts just like that with his friends but is very shy around those he does not know.

He is now asked about La Familia. Brian said that it was never a long-term plan but it went week-to-week to start. Brian talks about how he was with Zack as the Major Brothers and were dead in the water and convinced they were done. They pitched an idea to Michael Hayes, who they felt comfortable with, to be paired up with Edge. Hayes said he liked it but that they had to run it by Edge first. Brian said that to this day he does not know why Edge agreed as he went up to Edge to pitch the idea and asked for his email address to send him the plan in detail and from that Edge agreed. Brian was grateful that Edge took a chance on them and mentioned how he did not have to do that. Brian said that he heard from people that when he was with Zack as the Major Brothers that Hayes thought they gave off a “Von Erich” vibe and believes he went to bat for them. Brian calls Edge a “five-tool” wrestler.

On January 25th, the first episode of Smackdown aired in HD. Brian was asked if any performers were scared about HD. He said that he heard rumors about people getting worried and they did not find out until that day about the HD. They held a meeting for the talent about what not do to in HD as Brian recalls a video of Ken Kennedy’s spray tan sweating off of him during a match and how not to do that. Sean asks him about Kevin Dunn. Brian said that he had minimal interaction with him and says he heads straight into the production truck after the meeting and does not leave as he has his minions get him stuff. Brian describes one time he met with him when they wanted their entrance music changed and were told to go to Dunn. Brian talks about how he feels that entrance music is important then describes how he knocked on his door and Dunn was actually cool with them and a few weeks later they had new entrance music. Sean asks him some more about entrances as Brian said that they were told not to stand on the rope, as Randy Orton was doing that, then describes how when you are being told what not to do you end up looking awkward as you cannot react organically and jokes how they had a long period of guys getting into the ring and doing nothing.

Brian is now asked about the Undertaker debuting the Hell’s Gate (Gogoplata). Brian said that his fandom of MMA helped improve the product and cites an example of selling punches more realistically as opposed to the goofy way they did in the 80’s makes it better to watch, joking how people know its fake but don’t make me feel stupid for watching wrestling.

When asked about Eve Torres, who made her debut as a backstage interviewer several months after winning the Diva Search, Brian said that he liked her and thought that she was a hard worker. When asked how new girls are treated when they first arrive to the company, Brian laughs and said it is the same as a new girl in school and how the guys all talk about how hot they are.

FEBRUARY



They talk about Brock Lesnar making his UFC debut. Brian said that he was never a fan but watched when Brock fought due to the fact he was a former wrestler. Brian then said that he personally never felt that UFC was competition to the WWE and said that Vince has told them that in talent meetings before as well.

On February 7th, the WWE Dropped OVW as their Developmental Territory and replaced it with FCW. Brian said he was thrilled to be part of OVW when Deep South closed as they had a history of developing guys like John Cena and Randy Orton but when he got there it was terrible and a shell of what it once was. He said that he found out they closed down on a tour of South America when Colt Cabana texted him.

He is asked about the South America tour. Brian said he got sick from the water in Mexico and had to wrestle Batista and Finlay and told them he was sick, which he said was a mistake as they would press on his stomach during the match. Brian said the match was fun but he ran to the back afterwards and got sick in the bathroom. He then talks about how brutal the fans were and how they got pelted with batteries and garbage and recalls how one fan tossed a cup filled with piss in Edge’s face. Sean asks him about the nightlife and Brian said it was fun and hung around with Jesse, Festus, and Hornswoggle.

Brian is asked about how much money they make off of the action figures. He said that they do not make much off of them and how the stores like KMart and Target buy all of the action figures so if someone buys your action figure at the store, you do not get paid personally as the stores already bought them so if your figure stays on the shelf forever or sells out quickly, it doesn’t matter to the wrestler financially.

When asked about drug testing, Brian said that it is a terrible experience. When guys were getting busted using “fake penises” to cheat the test, they had a policy of being watched while they urinated and had to have the area from their nipples to their knees exposed. Brian did say that he has taken tests with top guys like Randy Orton, who he said were not exempted from testing.

Onto Floyd Mayweather hopping the railing at the No Way Out PPV and punching the Big Show. Sean asks if the punches were legit, as Show’s nose bled, as Brian laughed and said to watch the tape. Sean then asks about how the other wrestlers react when people from the outside come into the company as Brian said that he personally thinks that it wasn’t his spot to begin with and there are certain spots on the card for a reason. When asked about the Big Show, Brian said that he is a big baby who gets his feelings hurt easily but that he also means well and is a good guy.

MARCH


When asked about Matt Hardy, who made his return after being out due to appendicitis, Brian said that he liked him a lot. He talks about how he would always tell stories and try to keep the morale up in the locker room. Brian also talks about how it is meeting someone you grew up watching and how cool it was to hang out with him.

Sean asks him about the WrestleMania Weekend Events that lead up to the show. Brian confirmed that you do not get paid any extra for doing that stuff and when asked how it felt, Brian said that it can be tough, especially if you are not wrestling on the show, but also said its your job and talks about John Cena and his crazy schedule.

When asked about whether or not you were required to be at the Hall of Fame Ceremony, Brian said not always as Axxess is going on at the same time then commented how some guys would purposely do Axxess so they did not have to sit through the entire ceremony. Brian did say that he made it a point to be there when Edge got inducted. This year, The Rock was there for his grandfather and father as Brian said that he killed it on stage.

He is now asked about Undertaker beating Edge for the WWE World Title at WrestleMania 24. Brian said that the whole show was sentimental to him. At first, they (Edge Heads) were not sure if they would be on the show and talks about how they ribbed them as they made them run down the ramp repeatedly, which was 120 yards, telling them that Vince needed to see it and they realized that no one was paying any attention to them when it happened. He then talks about sitting in on the discussion of the match with Hayes, Edge, and Taker, who told them to realize how special this was. Sean asks him about the payoff for doing a run-in at Mania. Brian said that he and Zack were waiting for the payoff, thinking it would be huge, and when it finally came it was for the same amount they would have gotten had they just sat in the back and ate catering during the show. Brian said it made sense as he ran in and took one bump as opposed to wrestling a 25 minute match.

Sean then asks him about the celebrities at the show. Brian talks about fans and said that Chili from TLC is always backstage with her kid when they go to Atlanta and are both huge fans. Brian said that Snoop Dogg was cool and that he wanted to get a look at Kim Kardashian but she spent all day in her trailer. He said that Floyd Mayweather was cool to be around and that his huge entourage were “throwing money around” all weekend.

APRIL



He is asked about Natalya Neidhart making her debut. Brian said she was originally supposed to be with Harry Smith and Teddy Hart as the New Hart Foundation but that Teddy fucked it up and got fired. Sean then asks Brian about how a diva like Natalya feels about others without the in-ring talent or experience getting spots over her. Brian says that she is great but to keep in mind that this is not a sport like baseball, where the best nine guys get on the field, but that it is entertainment and not real so while it can be unfortunate, it is just the facts.

Brian is asked about their tour of Europe. When asked, he said the fans are more appreciative. Brian also loves traveling on the bus together with everyone. Brian then tells a story about how Matt Hardy was at the bar drunk and clowning around then Eve Torres ended up putting him in a choke hold and in fact choked him out. Brian said that the next day it was the buzz in catering and that Undertaker held a Wrestler’s Court and busted Hardy’s balls.

When asked about bringing back the King of the Ring, Brian said that as a fan it was awesome and thinks it was a great way to build up a guy then jokes about how it was ruined when Sheamus won and they gave him that “stupid, fucking outfit.” Brian also was shocked at the time that Regal won and Punk did not. He said it is fun and promotes wrestling and does not need any gimmicks.

Sean then asks him about David Taylor getting released. Brian said that he loved Taylor when he was his trainer in Deep South and says he is funny and a great storyteller off camera.

MAY



He is asked about Mick Foley doing the color commentary on Smackdown. Brian said that Mick would always go to the talent meetings and ask the talent to tell him things about themselves so he could say something on commentary. Sean talks about Mick complaining about Vince being in his ear during the show as Brian then talked about how he never understood exactly what Vince wanted in a commentator then said that Michael Cole has the toughest job as he has to keep everyone happy.

JUNE



Edge retained the WWE World Title at One Night Stand. Sean asks Brian about the Undertaker’s health around this time. Brian said that he thought he was in awesome shape at this time and notes how Mark Henry referred to him as “Yoda.” Sean then asks if he noticed a decline in house show sales when Undertaker left and Curt said he didn’t and never thought fans came to see one person, just to see the WWE. Curt said that he liked how Undertaker “kept the law” in the locker room and that is missing today, with Cena being the closest replacement.

Brian is asked about Jimmy Wang Yang getting suspended for a wellness violation. When asked, he said that he did not know exactly what it was for but noted that Yang liked to party and was a good time. He said that he and Zack rode with Yang for a bit and said he was not a good influence. Sean asks what did they test for as Brian said everything.

The Draft episode was on June 23rd. Brian said that its a fun episode for the fans as the talent did not know where they would end up. He gives an example of when Michael Cole got drafted to RAW and how Jim Ross was legitimately shocked as he had no idea. Brian said that surprise element is missing from today. He then talks about how some of the diva’s would meltdown and cry because they had to switch travel partners.

He is now asked about CM Punk cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to win the World Heavyweight Title from Edge. Brian said that he remembers that vividly as they were all in the Gorilla position when they were told of the plans. He said that Punk was happy. Sean then asks Brian what Punk was like at this time as he said they rode together and were good friends. He also said that Punk does not like to be bothered by fans and is also the person who speaks his mind, so if he thinks something is “fucking stupid,” he will tell you that to your face.

JULY



Brian talks about Jesse & Festus and how he loves both guys. They all rode together in Deep South and in OVW as well. Brian said that Jesse is one of the most underrated wrestlers in the past ten years but never got a chance to show it then says that Festus (Luke Gallows) is very fun to be around. Brian also said that the Festus character was a Vince McMahon creation. He said that the house shows with him were a night off and a lot of fun.

He is now asked about the Edge and Vickie Guerrero wedding. Brian said they were at the arena all day fully dressed. He said it was not fun having to wrestle in those tuxedo shoes as they were slippery. Brian said that Vince directed the whole thing. Sean then asks him about the jokes made at Vickie’s expense regarding her looks. Brian said that he felt they went out of their way to make fat jokes at her expense and he felt it was a shitty thing to do. He also said that Vickie never showed that it bothered her backstage.

Now, he is asked about winning the Tag Team Belts at the Great American Bash in Long Island. He talks about doing test-runs for the four-way matches the before the PPV and did not find out they were going to win them until the day of the show. Brian said that they were both ecstatic and talks about those who think that he is a “belt mark” for saying so by letting us know that all of the wrestles want to be a champion, no matter if in the WWE or some garage indy-fed. After the show, he went with Jesse & Festus, Mike Knox, Evan Bourne, and Hornswoggle to his local neighborhood bar with the belts and closed the place down then the next day, since they were Smackdown guys and did not have to work on RAW, they spent that Monday at the beach drinking and having a great time.

Sean asks him about the Miz and if he gets a bad reputation. Brian said that the Miz was like the Miz character 24/7 for a while but has started to mellow out. He recalls how they would be on long connecting flights and talk nonstop as the Miz character and drive everyone crazy. He then says that he is a good guy.

Brian is asked about Shelton Benjamin winning the U.S. Title and why he did not connect with the fans. He said he cannot say why it happened but said that Benjamin got a million chances and that you cannot blame the WWE for him not getting over with that being the case.

When asked about WWE Studios and the non-Wrestling products, Brian said they were awful and that any non-wrestling thing the WWE produces ends up being a “giant pile of dogshit.” He then tells a story of how he was with a dozen other wrestlers who all got put up in a hotel to audition for the role in Marine 2 that ended up going to Ted DiBiase Jr. He said that he couldn’t even get motivated enough to watch the original film. When asked about Vince and how involved he is with the WWE Studios projects, Brian said that he is very committed and thorough with the scripts. He also says that the stories are so bad and that they would always have copies of the DVD’s backstage at the TV tapings to give away. Brian then said that he heard that Vince actually wrote “No Holds Barred.” When Sean mentioned that Vince was not in the credits, Brian nodded his head and said that he heard that Vince did in fact write the film.

He is then asked about the lawsuit filed against the WWE by Raven, Chris Kanyon, and Mike Sanders in which they sued for being classified as independent contractors are deprived of necessary health benefits while also depriving the IRS of taxes. When asked if they were wrong in saying that, Brian said no but if you want to make money in wrestling the WWE is the only game in town so you have to play by their rules. Sean then asks him about a union as Brian said that the top guys making the big money are never going to mess with that to form a union.

Onl July 28th, the PG era in the WWE began. Brian said that they were told this would take place in a meeting backstage before the Great American Bash. He recalls how Vince was speaking at a podium when Michael Tarver, who had been used sparingly at this point, asked a question to which Vince replied “excellent question Shelton.” He then said everyone laughed and Vince could not figure out why. He then recalls at the Bash, JBL and Cena had a brutal Parking Lot Brawl match that was taped the day prior and they showed the finish live and he was watching backstage on the monitor with Mark Henry who said “since when his murder PG.” He said that he were all trying to figure out the rules at the time.

AUGUST






On August 2nd, actor Freddie Prinze Jr. joined the WWE Creative Team as part of the Smackdown brand. Brian said he met him at WrestleMania that year when he was a fan then met him backstage at a taping when he said he could not wait to start working with them and had no idea what he was talking about. Brian then said that he believed if Vince let him actually write stuff and step back it could have been awesome but he never let that happen. He said he lasted for two months then came back in 2011 to teach acting classes, which Brian said were amazing and found them very helpful.

He is asked about the Hell in a Cell match between Edge and the Undertaker that took place at SummerSlam. Brian is asked about the match and he said that Undertaker at a stunt coordinator that walked him through the match. Afterwards, Brian said that all he could smell was burnt hair and skin then after that Undertaker told Vince that he wanted to not have to walk around with his foot in a cst or neck in a brace and that he wanted some time off.

When asked if he was shocked that Great Khali got to challenge for the title at SummerSlam, Brian said that he was and talks about how he always has heard Vince is enamored with giants and that he gives them chances.

Brie Bella made her debut on August 29th. Brian said that originally, the Bella Twins were going to be part of La Familia as Vickie Guerrero’s nieces and that he and Zack would be dating them. He also said this was going to take place around WrestleMania.

SEPTEMBER






He is asked about the Championship Scramble Match that took place at the Unforgiven PPV. Brian said that he enjoyed it and always got a kick out of the fact that Brian Kendrick was the Champion for “about twelve minutes.” Sean then asks Brian if he saw any potential in Kendrick as a singles wrestler. Brian gave him credit for reinventing himself and said that size will always be held against you in the WWE but that Kendrick did was partying a lot and was constantly getting scolded by John Laurinaitis. Brian then talks about what he said earlier about drug testing and how you would not get a strike for getting busted smoking pot but did get fined $1,000 and that later got bumped up to $2,500 but Kendrick was constantly getting fined for that and the office took it as a slap in the face.

On September 17th, Jeff Hardy was escorted from his flight in Nashville after the flight attendants deemed him too intoxicated to fly. Brian said at that time they all partied and drank but that is no longer the case nowadays. Sean asked if management tried to get him help and Brian said they did and would for anyone, especially someone who could make them money.

He lost the Tag Belts to Carlito & Primo on September 28th. Brian said that you are not told how long you will keep the belts as it is on a day-to-day basis. He then tells the story of how he originally was supposed to squash Jimmy Yang & Funaki then shortly after that they were told that Carlito & Primo were going to beat them with the belts. He said that the plans happen out of nowhere.

OCTOBER





Brian said that they turned Big Show face to play off of the sympathy he received after losing to Mayweather at WrestleMania but that originally they wanted to keep him a heel.

When asked if the voting for Cyber Sunday was legitimate, Brian pauses and thinks before saying that he thinks so but has been leery of the voting in the past. He also talks about how it puts the wrestlers and announcers in a shitty position so you have no idea what you are going to be doing. Brian said it is not easy to prepare for. He said that the concept was probably dropped because it was the “shits.”

S.D. Jones passed away on October 26th. Sean asks him about the role of enhancement talent as Brian said he was that the last few years in the company. He then said that it spoils the fans but also at the same time the company needs to get ratings.

NOVEMBER






On November 5th, Super Crazy quit the company. Brian said he never had a lot of interaction with him but rode with Crazy and Kendrick and had a good time then at TV he asked Kendrick where Crazy was and got told that he went to quit as he could no longer afford to work in the WWE anymore as he was traveling from Mexico to the TV shows, were you only get $500 per show and not making enough money to make it worth staying. Sean then asks Brian about John Laurinaitis. He said that he was always cool with him and when he stepped down to a producer role he was a lot more relaxed and easy-going.

He is asked about being in the “RAW vs. Smackdown 09” video game. Brian said that he is not a video game guy and didn’t even own a system. He said that he did some motion-capture stuff when he was in Developmental and do all of the moves and said it was a blast. He said that was the year before and that he and Zack did most of the entrances for the game. Sean asks him about the video game check as Brian said that is the biggest one you get but that has changed a lot now. He recalls his first video game check went to his parents house and he told her to open it and she was floored to see how much he got paid.

Kenny Dykstra got fired on November 10th. Brian said that he was perceived as being a dick but once you talk to him you find out that he is a really good guy. He said that any little thing can get you heat and that if a higher-up official says something about a guy then everyone else will agree. Sean brings up a rumor that Vince did not like him because he had a “swimmer’s body” as Brian said he was so talented then talked about how he never heard the rumor about his body.

Brian is asked about the launch of the WWE Universe Social Network. He said that instead of using Facebook like “normal fucking people” they had to own everything and create their own thing, expecting fans to log on like a loser. He recalls how dumb Tout was and how “no one on the planet fucking Touted” and that they should use Instagram like everyone else. Brian talks about the site and how bad it was. He is asked about all of the banned terms like “belt” as Brian said you are never told about what not to say and questions why wasting your time about little stuff like that and just focus on improving the product. Brian said that he has no idea where this comes from and how half the time the rules are never explained.

Sean asks Brian about Shane McMahon and his role behind the scenes at that time. Brian said that he did a lot of work at the office. He also said that he was always cool and wanted to be one of the boys. When asked about his departure, Brian said that he was never told why. He also never heard of any sibling rivalry with Stephanie either and that he focused on growing the WWE globally as Stephanie focuses on Creative.

Edge returned at Survivor Series to win the World Championship. When asked if the rumor was true that the original plan was going to be Vladimir Kozlov vs. HHH but their house show matches were so awful that they had to make the switch to a three-way, Brian confirmed that they were horrible matches and that Kozlov never got wrestling. He said it was a bad idea to push him as he never knew how to work and felt bad for HHH as he had to carry him. As far as Kozlov vs. HHH as the original plan, Brian said that he believed the three-way was the plan all along.

DECEMBER






Brian is asked about getting jobbed out with Zack. When Edge came back at Survivor Series, Vince asked them to work on new things as he was going to split them up. When asked if he was depressed, Brian said no and that he never wanted to be that guy who pissed and moaned about having to put someone over. He also said how you could tell when a veteran would half-ass it in the ring with you because they are doing the job and how ridiculous it is and to relax as it is not real fighting.

He is then asked about Jeff Hardy winning the belt at Armageddon. Brian said that he can connect with the fans at a level like no other and thought it was a cool moment. Despite that, Brian never felt that management was behind him but rather gave into his “overness.”

As the interview closes, Sean asks him about any special moments that stick out in his career. Brian talks about how he and Zack did a run in during a cage match between Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair and how after that happened they were backstage soaked in Flair’s blood and thought that was cool, despite how sick and demented that would come across to a non-wrestling fan.

Final Thoughts: A tremendous interview. Brian did not hold back at all. Plus, he was not bitter, which is a great combination. You can tell the guy is a huge fan and did appreciate his time in the WWE.

This timeline gives a great glimpse of what it is like to work for the WWE. This year was also notable as the company changed when it went to the “PG” programming.

Brian gave a good timeline on the events that took place on Smackdown for this year but the stories backstage were the selling point. He provided great insight in that department. He lets you know just how it is to work for the WWE.

Overall, I highly recommend this interview. I guarantee you will not be disappointed after watching.

You can purchase the DVD for $20 or for $15.99 you can buy it On Demand (my preferred option), where you will always have access to it whenever you want. Kayfabe Commentaries is also compatible with a Roku as well. Click on the link below to purchase the shoot.

http://kayfabecommentaries.com/DVD_TL_2008.html

October Countdown: WWE No Mercy 2008

The SmarK Rant for WWE No Mercy 2008 (I didn’t forget this one, I just couldn’t remember which show came first.)  – Live from Portland, OR – Your hosts are Todd Grisham, Tazz, JR, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler…as the Beaver. ECW World title: Matt Hardy v. Mark Henry Henry gives Matt a clean break to start and then powers him down and pounds him with the clubbing forearms and knees in the corner. He misses a short charge and Matt starts kicking at the knee, but Henry clotheslines him and then levels him with a forearm shot off a charge. Matt goes after the knee again, but takes it to the floor and gets tossed into the stairs like a fly. Back in, Henry fights him off again and puts him down with a big boot for two. Mark goes up with a stomp from the middle rope, and that gets two. We hit the chinlock, but Matt fights up and then promptly walks into a bearhug. Matt keeps fighting, however, and gets the Side Effect for two. Henry powers out of the Twist of Fate and adds a big splash, but he hurts the knee and only gets two. Matt comes back one last time, hitting the knee to escape the powerslam, and finishes with the Twist of Fate at 8:06. Quite decent with the David v. Goliath story working like it generally always does when done properly. **1/2  (Mark Henry was actually showing signs of getting better at this point, although I think the MVP team kind of regressed him.)  Meanwhile, HHH and Jeff Hardy do a joint interview backstage, as HHH texts his vote for himself (but he’s rooting for Jeff) and he wants Jeff to be at his best so he can beat the best. Women’s title: Beth Phoenix v. Candice Michelle Candice dropkicks the knee for two and takes her down for a rollup for two. Low dropkick gets two. Enzuigiri (and not a pretty one) and Candice fires away in the corner, but Beth picks her up in a fireman’s carry and rams her into the corner. Candice kicks at the knee in response, but Beth sends her shoulder into the post for two. She works the arm on the mat, thankfully switching from a cross-armbreaker to a wristlock. Seriously, it’s 2008, we’ve all seen UFC and we know that if you really do that move, you break the arm. (Well, except for Alberto Del Rio, who must be REALLY bad at the move.  Perhaps he should watch some Ronda Rousey matches.)  Candice fights up with a dropkick for two, but Beth blocks a legsweep and faceplants her. Beth goes up and gets knocked down, and Candice dropkicks her for two, as Santino saves. Candice makes the mistake of going after him, and Beth clobbers her, but Glamarella has another argument and Candice gets two. Beth kills her dead with the chickenwing-bomb at 4:50, however. Another notch on the Moolah-Meter. Not embarrassingly bad like the Tramp Stamp side of the division, and that’s enough these days, but Candice looked like an amateur out there next to Beth with her half-assed dropkicks and shrinking muscle tone. **  (She pretty much disappeared after her Playboy shoot, didn’t she?)  Meanwhile, Kane once again is angry and very confused. Apparently we all wear metaphorical masks or something. Mask v. Nothing: Rey Mysterio v. Kane Wouldn’t it be fair to make Kane put his mask back on if he loses? (Not for another three years.)  Rey wisely dodges Kane to start and dropkicks him to the floor, but walks into the big boot. Rey comes back with a seated dropkick and springboards in with another dropkick, but a clothesline blocks the 619 attempt. Rey tries a rana and gets blocked, but he pulls Kane to the floor anyway and follows with a pescado. Kane catches him and dumps him into the front row. Rey meets the post and they head back in so that Kane can dole out more punishment. We hit the chinlock and Kane boots him down again for two. He follows with a backbreaker submission, but Rey slugs out of it and reverses a sideslam into an inverted DDT. Cole describes it as “swashbuckling”, which is one of the reasons why no one likes him. Kane hammers him in the corner, but Rey comes out with a moonsault press and slugs back. He kicks Kane down and comes off with the top with a guillotine legdrop for two. Kane catches him again with a sideslam for two and looks to finish with the chokeslam, but Rey escapes it and springboards at him with some messed up DDT-like move. Splash gets two. Rey goes up and gets caught coming down, and Kane gets two. Kane misses a boot in the corner and Rey 619’s the leg to put Kane on the floor, but flies into a chair for the DQ at 10:03. Did Kane think the ref wouldn’t see it? Really good crowd heat for what seemed like it could have been another typical big v. little match, thanks to Rey bumping like crazy. *** Meanwhile, MVP demands to see Vickie, but can’t get past Big Show. Show’s “I’ve been focusing on the Undertaker, but if you keep bothering me I’m gonna focus on YOU” is a pretty good heel line. So MVP joins us, pleading his case to the crowd for his mistreatment on Smackdown. Randy Orton interrupts and he’s not particularly impressed with MVP’s skills. Rhodes & Dibiase & Manu join him and the crowd just gets on Cody right away with a “boring” chant, rattling him. Apparently the threesome is against Orton right now before they do the obvious “swerve” and have them join the Age of Orton. (Hey now, it was LEGACY as it turned out, not Age of Orton.)  I like Manu’s Big Show Lite look better than his crazy samoan look. (He definitely wasn’t long for the promotion.)  MVP tries to get on board with the second generation, but they show disdain for anyone without a famous father. MVP decides to leave, but now CM Punk and Kofi Kingston join us and ask for his help in brawling with the New Kids. And they punk him by sending him in first and leaving him to take a beating, but then join him and clean house themselves. Did I switch over to RAW or something? JBL v. Batista They slug it out to start and JBL loses that one, and Batista puts him down with a clothesline. Boot to the head gets two. Batista slugs away in the corner, but runs into a boot. JBL sets up for the Clothesline from New York, but Batista blocks him with a spear and JBL rolls out to recover. Back in, JBL slugs him off the apron and they brawl outside and back in. JBL gets two and takes over. Neckbreaker and elbow gets two. JBL hits the chinlock, but Batista suplexes out and wins a slugfest, then puts him down with another clothesline. Corner clothesline follows, into the running powerslam. JBL blocks a spear with a big boot, but Batista is in no mood and finishes with the spinebuster and Batista bomb at 5:15. No screwing around there. I had no beef with this. **1/2 JBL, from his position counting the lights on the mat, asks for the microphone and complains about the bad week he’s been having. And then he gets his heat back by cutting a hilarious promo about how great the bailout is for him because it costs everyone $10,000 per household and he gets to keep his penthouse apartment and millions of dollars. I sense some subtle political commentary from the WWE. And then it gets sillier as Cryme Tyme and Sgt. Slaughter steal his limo in the back. Big Show v. Undertaker JR, apparently trying to one-up Michael Cole, calls Big Show “cyclopean”, apparently having missed out on Show having both eyes. Slugfest to start and Show clotheslines UT to the floor, but gets necksnapped. They brawl on the floor and Show gives him some good shots to the ribs and sends him into the railing, but Taker comes back and puts Show into the post. Taker pounds him on the floor and adds the guillotine legdrop, and they head back in. Taker hits him with a corner clothesline, but gets mowed down by a clothesline. Show throws hands in the corner, again working on the ribs, then drops an elbow for two. Back to the ribs and he adds a legsweep for two. Taker fights from his knees, but Show knees him in the head to put him down and pounds away. Taker fights up, but Show headbutts him down again…and goes up? Pump splash misses and Taker fires back again and hits the flying clothesline. Legdrop gets two. Old school ropewalk, but Show catches him with the chokeslam for two. Taker ducks the knockout punch and tries his own chokeslam, but Show counters that, so Taker DDTs him instead for two. Kudos to Show for taking that bump. Taker slugs him down in the corner, but Show takes the turnbuckle off and rams Taker into it, and knocks him out cold with three punches at 10:03. Now there’s a finish you don’t see every day. Unless you’re Kimbo Slice.  (In all fairness, Slice goes down after one.)  This was quite good, as if you’re gonna have two 300 pound guys out there, might as well have them beat the hell out of each other. ***1/2 Show’s ending rabbit punch is why MMA refs would stop the match BEFORE he got a chance to hurt his opponent. As a WRESTLING finish, though, it worked.  (And Show has been riding that punch as a finisher ever since!)  Smackdown World title: HHH v. Jeff Hardy HHH gives the handshake and then clobbers him from behind, getting two. He starts working on the arm, but Jeff flips out of it and takes him down with the headlock. HHH wins the battle for a hiptoss, but Hardy takes him down with another headlock and hangs onto that. HHH elbows him down to break, but Hardy gets a flying headscissors and puts the champ on the floor with a clothesline. He follows with a dive, but HHH directs him into the floor instead. Back in, Jeff slingshots in with a legdrop for two and it’s back to the headlock on the mat. HHH backdrops him to the apron to escape, but Jeff tries a sunset flip, which HHH blocks with a Pedigree attempt in an “Ooooooh” moment from the crowd. Jeff backdrops out of it, but then tries a flip dive and splats on the floor. HHH lets the count run and then tosses Jeff back in, for two. Backbreaker and he drops elbows on the back, for two. Jeff fights up, but a facecrusher gets two. HHH drops the knee for two. He works Jeff over in the corner, but runs into a boot, then recovers with the abdominal stretch as he goes old school heel. And he even uses the ropes, but gets caught. So he switches to the sleeper, but Jeff takes him down to escape and then follows with a mule kick for two. Seated dropkick gets two. He whips HHH right to the floor and this time gets his tope con hilo, as JR is all about the baseball analogies tonight. Back in, a clothesline from the middle rope gets two. Twist of Fate is reversed into a clothesline, however, and HHH gets two. Hardy charges and hits elbow, but HHH comes off the middle and gets caught, allowing Jeff to hit a gourdbuster for two. Jeff tries the Whisper in the Wind, but HHH powers him down for two in kind of an ugly spot. MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER and HHH sets up to finish, but Jeff reverses the Pedigree into a catapult, and Whisper in the Wind gets two. Mule kick in the corner and Jeff goes up, but he whiffs on the swanton and it’s KICK WHAM…Twist of Fate? Wow, not many people get to reverse the Pedigree. Jeff pulls off that miracle and hits the swanton, but HHH cradles for the pin to retain at 17:00. Ooooh, so close. See, kids, never leave your shoulders down. I was way into this one and thought they were gonna pull the trigger there for a second. **** RAW World title, ladder match: Chris Jericho v. Shawn Michaels Shawn overpowers Jericho and teases the superkick, but Jericho evades him. Shawn charges and hits the post, and Jericho hits a northern lights suplex, which leads into a pinfall reversal sequence in a match without pinfalls. Jericho clotheslines him to the apron and puts him on the floor with a nasty springboard shoulderblock. He tries whipping Shawn into the ladder, but Shawn climbs it and uses the momentum to hit a cross-body. Jericho sends him into the post again and charges with the ladder, forcing Shawn to counter with a drop toehold. Shawn gets his own ladder, but Jericho takes him down with the Walls of Jericho and brings the ladder into the ring. Shawn see-saws it into his face, however, and sets it up for the first climb attempt, as Jericho now appears to be down one tooth. Hey, that’s BLOOD. Someone alert Vince. Jericho pulls him down and catapults him, but Shawn grabs the ladder and climbs again, so Jericho brings the ladder down. Crude but effective. Jericho beats on Shawn with the ladder, then whips him into the corner, but Shawn reverses him into the ladder and brings it down on his knee. Shawn puts the ladder in the corner and adds a kneecrusher onto it, then goes to the figure-four to really kill the knee. Jericho reverses out and then kicks the ladder into Shawn’s face for good measure, then catapults him under the ladder. And then we get an incredibly brutal spot, with Shawn’s head getting sandwiched in the ladder, and Jericho climbs. Shawn stops him, so Jericho sets up the ladder in the corner and then gets reversed into it. They brawl to the floor and Jericho gets the worst of it, as Shawn drops ladders on him and BRINGS THE HATRED~! Sportsmanship is nice, but sometimes you just need a good vendetta, ya know? Shawn puts Jericho on the table and climbs a monster ladder, but Jericho follows and you know it’s gonna be good. And indeed, it’s a backdrop suplex through the table, taking both of them out. Shawn emerges first from the wreckage and sets up with a ladder on the top rope, but Jericho recovers and dropkicks it back at him. They fight on top and Jericho climbs the ladder and sets up for a superplex, but Shawn pushes the ladder over to escape, leaving it on top of Jericho. Flying elbow onto the ladder follows, and the laws of physics say that’s a dumb move. Luckily Shawn suffers less damage and he sets up for the superkick, but Jericho counters by smashing him in the face with a ladder. I love this match. So Jericho also gets goofy by Lionsaulting Shawn under a ladder, which again hurts him worse. Jericho sets up the ladder and pins Shawn underneath, but Shawn has the POWER and pushes the ladder over, sending Jericho to the floor as a result. This seems to leave things free and clear for Shawn to win, but Jericho pushes the ladder over just as Shawn starts undoing the belt. Jericho takes his turn at climbing now, but Shawn follows him up for the slugfest on the ladder, which results in Jericho falling back and getting hung up in the rungs. Lance Cade runs in to save his meal ticket, and Shawn stops to go after him with a superkick and they battle for the belt on top. The belt is freed and Shawn hammers away in desperation, but Jericho headbutts him and falls off with the belt to win at 22:22. That finish with both guys having a tug-of-war for the belt was something else, man. Match of the year thus far, there I said it. ****3/4 And what I loved was that they didn’t try to out-crazy the previous ladder spots, but merely took the existing ones and made them more bitter and hateful. More blood (or at least intentional blood) would have been nice, too, but it didn’t hinder the match for me like it did with the Edge-UT Hell In a Cell deal. The Cade run-in really wasn’t needed, though, and that deducts the 1/4* if you’re playing along at home. So yeah, the last three matches comprised basically half the show’s running time, which makes this one an overwhelming thumbs up. Especially surprising given how lackluster the show looked on paper, but the big matches delivered and I’m happy.  (That was a hell of a double main-event!)  Don’t forget to check out Dungeon of Death, available in bookstores everywhere (and Amazon) on October 28!

October Countdown: WWE Cyber Sunday 2008

The SmarK Rant for WWE Cyber Sunday 2008 (So I installed Windows 8 Pro on my new laptop because I got the $15 deal from Microsoft and I had been testing the Consumer Release version on my piece of crap Toshiba since June or so and really liked it.  However, with the pre-release version, it wiped out all my settings and was basically a fresh install, and I was a little apprehensive about installing over the shiny new version of Windows 7 that was on this laptop.  And as it turned out…it installed perfectly and everything is still there, 100% working fine.  WHAT THE FUCK MICROSOFT?  How am I supposed to rail against your crappy products if you make well-made operating systems that don’t give me anything to get angry about?  Even worse, they made a big deal about Office 2010 Starter Edition not being compatible before I installed, and I was getting ready to get all mad about it and even posted a diatribe on Facebook in advance, and then after I installed Win8…Office Starter still worked fine. FUCK YOU AND THE QUALITY PRODUCT YOU RODE IN ON, JERKS.) – The time is almost upon us, as Dungeon of Death: Chris Benoit and the Hart Family Curse comes out this week, and you can get your copy from Amazon NOW. (And now on Kindle as well!)  It’s apparently already shipping from Chapters as well if you’re Canadian, and will be shipping next week for those buying it in the UK. You can also pick it up at all the major bookstores. I might be selling autographed copies as well if there’s enough interest. (I’ve still got about 20 copies kicking around the house if anyone is in Saskatoon and wants one.)  I’m also available for radio show appearances and interviews.  (Not anymore.  Sorry, too busy with the offspring.)  – Live from Phoenix, AZ. – Your hosts are Michael, Jim, Tazz, King, Matt and Todd. Rey Mysterio v. Kane Your cyber-voted stipulation: No holds barred. Did they really expect anyone to waste $1 voting for 2-out-of-3 falls? Rey tries attacking to start and dodges Kane to put him on the floor, then follows with a somersault plancha that misses by a lot. He grabs a kendo stick from under the ring and goes to work on Kane’s leg, but Kane boots him down. Rey takes a goofy bump into the post and Kane baseball slides him to work on the ribs, then bends him around the post. That’s like a Jack Evans spot. Shot to the post gets two back in the ring. Legdrop gets two. Rey fights up and Kane boots him down for two and then goes to a surfboard as this match is surprisingly shitty after their good one last month. Kane goes to a backbreaker submission until Rey fights out, and the bulldog allows Rey to make the comeback. Enzuigiri sets up the 619, but Kane clotheslines him down instead and gets two. Kane grabs a chair and Rey boots it back at him ala RVD and follows with an Arabian facebuster for two. Rey goes up and Kane slugs him down for two. Kane brings the stairs in, but Rey manages a drop toehold to send Kane into them, and a springboard butt splash gets two. Rey goes back to smashing Kane’s leg with the chair, and tries another 619, but Kane counters out to a chokeslam attempt. Rey reverses to a rana, into the 619, and splashes him for the pin at 10:20. They actually put Rey over surprisingly strong here, although the match was pretty dull stuff and didn’t take advantage of the stips. Kane looked lethargic and uninterested to me as well. **  (I think Kane cashed in a MITB contract on Rey a couple of years after this, so maybe he was just biding his time for his revenge.)  ECW World title: Matt Hardy v. Evan Bourne Landslide win for Bourne, so I guess Matt’s campaigning worked. Matt grabs the headlock, but gets dropkicked by Bourne. Evan takes him down into his own headlock, but Matt powers him down with a wristlock for two. Bourne with a rollup for two off that, and a sunset flip gets two. Matt tries the Side Effect, but Bourne gets a SWEET reversal off that for two and kicks him down. Rana, but Matt dumps Bourne and knocks him off the apron. Back in, Hardy follows with a lariat for two. Corner clothesline into a bulldog, but Bourne reverses him into the corner and takes him down with a cross-armbreaker. Matt reverses out and Bourne holds the armbar, then hits him with a great standing moonsault for two. They slug it out and Bourne gets a high kick to put him down, then goes up, but Matt rolls out of the ring and suckers him into trying a quebrada, at which point Matt yanks him down and slams him on the floor. Ah, the cagey vet Matt Hardy, who would have thought it? Back in, Matt gets a yodeling elbow for two. Abdominal stretch as Matt plays the subtle heel to keep Bourne strong as the underdog babyface. Bourne fights out, so Matt clotheslines him down again and follows with a boot to the ribs. Matt tries a Razor’s Edge, but Bourne counters out with a rana. Evan fights back with more kicks, but he walks into the Side Effect and Hardy gets two. Another one gets two. Matt goes back up and Evan hits him with a leg lariat on the way down, fighting back with high kicks and a moonsault press for two. Spinkick gets two. Bourne goes up with a flying high knee, and that gets two. I’ve never actually seen that before. Another spinkick misses and Matt rolls him up for two, using the tights in a nice touch. Bourne with a tilt-a-whirl into an armbar takedown, and he goes up to finish, but Matt slugs him down. Bourne puts him down again and tries the Shooting Star Press, but it misses and KICK WHAM TWIST is reversed into a backslide by Bourne for two, before the Twist ends the dream at 11:03. I daresay I would like to see these two gentlemen engage in honorable fisticuffs at a later date. ***1/4  (Never really went anywhere that I can recall.  Bourne had some great matches with Jericho after this, though.)  Cryme Tyme v. Miz & John Morrison Morrison gives JTG a clean break in the corner to start and grabs a headlock, but JTG elbows him down for two. Miz comes in and gets dropkicked, allowing JTG to whip Shad into Miz with a corner clothesline for two. Shad whiplash slams JTG onto Miz for two. Over to the heel corner where Morrison and Miz do some double-teaming, but Cryme Tyme dumps Morrison and tosses Miz onto him to follow. Shad presses JTG onto them, but sadly doesn’t follow with his own dive. Back in, Shad gets two. M&M cut him off with a shot to the knee, however, and Miz goes to work on the leg in the heel corner. Morrison with a half-crab, but Shad powers out, so Miz comes in and legbars him. Shad powers out again it’s over to JTG, as he hits Miz with a necksnap and a neckbreaker that’s like something out of the Def Jam games. However, Morrison manipulates the ref and JTG is YOUR thug-in-peril. Double gutbuster and heels take over with some choking. Morrison with a boot to the head for two. Miz with a corner clothesline for two. We hit the chinlock as the crowd just isn’t getting into this one. Miz tries a catapult, but JTG hits Morrison on the way up and makes the hot tag to Shad. M&M sell like crazy, bumping all over for him, and a forearm shot gets two on Morrison. John dropkicks the knee, however, and gets two. Shad with a spinebuster for two and it’s BONZO GONZO, but Miz kicks the knee out and Morrison rolls the dice for the pin at 10:25. This never got out of first gear for whatever reason. **  (Because Cryme Tyme was not very good and neither was Miz at this point?)  Intercontinental title: Santino Marella v. Honky Tonk Man Pretty even split here, although I thought they’d hold off on the Honky Tonk Man payoff until longer into the Honk-A-Meter. And really, hearing Honky’s music just shows how lame and generic all the theme music these days has become. Kind of weird seeing Honky getting a babyface reaction and somehow going from running joke into legitimate “greatest champion of all time”. They have a dance-off before Santino attacks, and apparently Honky is wrestling with the suit on. Probably best for everyone. Honky works on a headlock to start and pauses to dance, but Beth trips him up for the DQ at 1:05. LAAAAAAAME. Piper and Goldust head out and add a beating to Santino as well. At least they didn’t do the rumored payoff of Charlie Haas dressing up as the winning challenger.  (Santino wasn’t long for the belt at this point.  Honky, wisely, vetoed doing anything here that would jeopardize his indy bookings.)  – Next Monday, the 800th episode of RAW, which gives them another excuse to do a special three-hour show. Not that it isn’t impressive, but it seems like every few months there’s some other special celebration and it just doesn’t feel particularly special any more. Especially when they’re constantly and insecurely comparing themselves to shows like ER and the Simpsons because they’re so hung up on gaining mainstream acceptance.  (But what about RAW 1000?!?)  Undertaker v. Big Show The stipulation voted in is Last Man Standing, although Vickie announces it as “I Quit” because live TV is not her forte. I’m not generally a fan of this match type, although Taker and Batista had a good one last year so there’s always hope. They slug it out on the floor to start and Show tosses Taker into the front row. Taker comes back with a chairshot and a pair of corner clotheslines, but Show puts him down with a clothesline of his own. Show slugs away in the corner and puts Taker down with a headbutt, and a legdrop draws the first count. They fight to the floor again and Taker rams Show’s throat into a chair by using the post, which draws an 8 count. Taker gets the legdrop on the apron and they head back in, where Taker slugs away until Show clotheslines him down again. That draws a count of 8. Show fires away and headbutts him into the corner, but Taker slugs back and tries a chokeslam. Really? Show tries his own, but UT reverses him into a DDT for 9. Show removes a turnbuckle, but Taker sends him into it and puts him down with the flying clothesline, that gets 9. Taker charges him, however, and hits the STEEL turnbuckle before bumping to the floor off that. Show pounds away and preps the announce table, but Taker slugs a chair back at Show. Show gives him a weak chokeslam through the table in response, which I think was supposed to have more impact than it ended up having. It sounded more like a thud than a smash. This whole thing has been in slow motion anyway. That gets a 9 count for Show. Back in, Show slowly slugs away, but Taker gets a DDT. He goes old school, but Show chokeslams him to counter and that gets 9. Knockout punch draws the best reaction of the match, but Taker does a zombie situp to recover. A chairshot puts him down again, but Show goes in for the kill and Taker catches him in the Googleplex and chokes him out for the win at 19:22. Boring ass slow motion match, good finish. **1/4 Smackdown World title: HHH v. Jeff Hardy They were fooling themselves if they were expecting anything other than Hardy to win in a landslide. Kozlov getting an embarrassing 5% is pretty telling, no matter how much they want to do that match. (Yeah that monster push didn’t last long.)  Hardy works the arm to start and HHH reverses to a headlock, but Jeff goes for a Twist early, and HHH counters to a Pedigree attempt before they both back off. Hardy takes him down with an armdrag, but HHH runs him into the corner to break and then shoves him off the top rope. Back in, HHH stomps away and runs him into the post a couple of times, into a rollup for two. Hardy fights back with a lariat and a seated dropkick for two. Hardy with a falcon arrow for two. Corner clothesline, but he charges again and HHH catches him with the spinebuster for two. He follows with the Cerebral Crossface, but Jeff counters into a cradle for two. HHH stomps him out of the ring, but Hardy whips him into the stairs and follows with a flying leg lariat off the stairs. Back in, Jeff gets the Whisper in the Wind for two. Mule kick in the corner gets two. Twist of Fate is reversed by HHH, but Jeff counters again to a rollup for two. HHH tries the Main Event Sleeper, but Hardy reverses to the Twist of Fate for two. Jeff goes up with the swanton, but then tries another one instead of covering, and hits knee. Another shot at the Pedigree, but Hardy shoves him out of the ring and then follows with a pescado that missed by a mile. HHH sells it anyway and they head back in, where Hardy tries again for the swanton, and this time HHH kills him dead with KICK WHAM PEDIGREE to finish at 15:35. They didn’t have the mojo going this time quite like they did last time, and I think they’ve run it one time too many and killed the Jeff Hardy chase. ***1/2 That being said, still a very good match when HHH was able to reel Jeff in and keep him from getting too sloppy.  (They had something real with Jeff Hardy and WASTED IT.)  RAW World title: Chris Jericho v. Batista Your guest referee: Steve Austin. Well, duh. Jericho gives attitude to everyone and runs away to avoid the consequences, but Austin informs us that Batista will win the title if Jericho walks out. Like the real Steve Austin would ever say something like that. So Jericho heads back in and Batista tosses him around and elbows him down, and a suplex gets two. Jericho dumps him to come back and then dropkicks the knee on the way back in and goes to work on it. Batista fights up and Jericho dropkicks the knee again, then goes to a chinlock. Batista fights up, but Jericho cradles for two and kicks him down again. Batista fights up again and gets a corner clothesline, into a powerslam. He tries the powerbomb, but Jericho reverses to the Walls, forcing Batista to make the ropes. Austin drags Jericho off, and Batista gets a Bossman slam for two. Jericho tries a cross-body, but Batista catches him and tries another powerbomb. Jericho hits the leg to escape and comes off the top, but Batista catches him with a clothesline for two. He goes up and a flying shoulderblock gets two. Batista tries a spinebuster, but Jericho kinda sorta reverses into a DDT. That gets two, although it didn’t come off as convincing and I think the crowd was confused. Batista tries a shoulderblock and wipes out Austin, and Jericho gets the codebreaker. Alternate ref Shawn Michaels runs in and gives the world’s slowest count in a funny spot, setting up a spear from Batista that gets two. JBL then comes out and gets rid of Michaels to set up the next feud that no one wants to see, and Jericho takes out Batista’s knee again. Next run in is Randy Orton, as he takes out Austin and Jericho puts Batista down with the belt for two. Austin recovers, however, and it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER for Orton. Spinebuster and demon bomb win the World title for Batista at 17:04. Match actually picked up a lot with all the interference at the end, as these two just don’t have the main event chemistry. *** But really, while this would have been fine as the conclusion of a long reign for Jericho to finally get his comeuppance, it just cheapens the title further to have them switch it AGAIN after only two months with Jericho as champion. There’s just no direction in the main event. The Pulse Business as usual with this show. The fan voting stuff didn’t really help or hurt, as it was going to be a pretty middling show no matter what the stips were. Nothing terrible, nothing great, just a thumbs in the middle from here.

SummerFest Countdown: 2008

(Never did 2006 or 07, so we skip ahead quickly and we’ll wrap things up with 2010’s show after this…) The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2008 – Live from Indianapolis, IN – Your hosts are JR, MC, JL and T. Jeff Hardy v. MVP MVP charges for the high kick to start, but runs away from a fight and tries to lure Jeff with a chase. Jeff ccatches him on the floor and sends him into the railing, and they head back in where Jeff comes back with a slingshot legdrop for two. He goes to the arm and they exchange kicks, but Jeff charges and takes a sick overhead suplex into the turnbuckles as a result. That gets two for MVP and he wraps Jeff up with a submission move and starts to work on the neck. He goes to a rear chinlock and Jeff monkey-flips out of it, but MVP rolls through into a half-crab and from there into a legbar, a very nice sequence. Jeff fights up and tries to springboard in, but MVP catches him with a shot to the face and necksnaps him for two. Hardy gets run into the corner and the Tree of Woe, and MVP runs his head into the mat for two. He goes for the body vice, but Jeff escapes with a neckbreaker and makes the comeback. Mule kick in the corner, but MVP gets the feet up for his own kick to counter, and that gets two. MVP dropkicks Jeff into the corner and charges, but Jeff comes out with a clothesline to block, and gets a Russian legsweep for two. Jeff sets up in the corner again for the mule kick, but MVP catches him and Jeff counters to a sunset flip for two. Whisper in the Wind and he goes up, but Shelton Benjamin comes out to distract Jeff long enough for the swanton to miss. Yakuza kick finishes for MVP at 10:12. Pretty cliché finish, but I enjoyed all the countering from MVP to out-think Hardy. He should probably have the US title back, actually. ***1/4 Winner take all: Mickie James & Kofi Kingston v. Santino Marella & Beth Phoenix. Time to pull the plug on Kofi, I think. He’s a guy who seems like he could benefit from doing the indy circuit for a couple of years and building a buzz, like RVD did. Beth starts with Mickie and overpowers her to stop a takedown, but Mickie dropkicks the knee to take her down. That gets two. Beth comes back with a backdrop suplex and Santino comes in, but he gets monkey-flipped into a high cross from Kofi. He fires off a pair of dropkicks and hammers Santino in the corner. Santino takes a powder and jumps into Beth’s arms to protect himself, and then catches Kofi with a neckbreaker to take over. How do you not love Santino? Back to Phoenix, and she pounds Kofi with kicks, and Santino goes to the chinlock. Kofi escapes and tags Mickie, and she hammers on Beth with forearms and into a clothesline. Rana out of the corner and into a Thesz Press, but Santino breaks it up. It’s BONZO GONZO and Kofi charges and lands on the floor, but Mickie hits a DDT on Santino. That allows Beth to jump Mickie and finish her with the double chickenwing into the powerbomb at 5:44. That IC title is exactly where it belongs. Santino’s over the top celebration almost adds another star. Short and entertaining. **1/2 Thank god Beth can actually do her entrance pose with a belt now, because it just looked silly otherwise. Shawn Michaels joins us to announce that he’s lost his smile…oh, wait, wrong interview, sorry. Close, though, as doctors have advised him to end his career, and he’s decided to heed their advice and give it up. However, Chris Jericho interrupts and he DEMANDS that Shawn retire because of Jericho, not on his own terms. What a dick. I love it. And then Shawn says, sure, he’ll admit that to his wife and kids, as long as Jericho goes home and tells HIS family now that he’ll never ever get to beat Shawn Michaels. Oooooh, burn. Jericho’s a bit upset and goes after Shawn, but hits Whysper Michaels instead, just to make the feud REALLY personal, I guess. Didn’t really need the man-on-woman violence and the whole thing went on a bit long for what it was, but the blowoff at Unforgiven should be super hot now. ECW World title: Mark Henry v. Matt Hardy Henry uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS to start, but Matt gets the Twist of Fate and Tony Atlas yanks him out for the DQ at 0:33. Zuh? DUD Jeff saves and hits Atlas with a swanton from the apron, and the Hardyz team up and suplex Henry on the floor. Did I miss some reason why they couldn’t have done an actual match here? RAW World title: CM Punk v. JBL The announcers note that Punk is a different type of champion because he’s seen The Dark Knight five times. Maybe the writing team should as well so they could steal some GOOD pop culture for once. If some heel could rip off Heath Ledger’s Joker performance effectively, it’d draw millions. JBL pounds on him to start and grabs a headlock, but Punk fires back with high kicks and dropkicks him to the floor. He follows with a nice suicide dive, and back in for a high cross that gets two. JBL shoulderblocks him back down and slugs away in the corner, then hits a blockbuster slam off the top for two. Note to Michael Cole: A “fallaway slam” is traditionally another name for a samoan drop, although Cole’s insistence on calling that move as “fallaway slam” seems to have renamed the move to match. As far as I’ve always understood, though, the proper name is “fadeaway slam”. Bradshaw goes to the bearhug to work on the ribs, and a backdrop suplex gets two. Abdominal stretch and JBL pounds on the ribs, but Punk catches him with the high knee in the corner, into the bulldog. He goes for the GTS, but the ribs give out and JBL hits him with a standing lariat and drops elbows for two. They slug it out and Punk staggers him with the spinning backfist, and a spinkick gets two. He springboards in, but JBL catches him with a powerslam for two. He sets up to finish, but Punk blocks the clothesline with a leg lariat. Another high knee in the corner, but JBL blocks the bulldog this time and puts him on the top, pounding away on the ribs again, setting up a backdrop suplex off the top, which gets two. Punk appears done, but he hits the GTS out of nowhere to finish at 11:11. Now this is what he needs — strong come-from-behind, clean, wins over top guys, not fluke wins or DQs or whatever. Really good big bully against tough underdog dynamic here, as they kept it simple and within what JBL can still pull off, and it worked well. ***1/2 Smackdown World title: HHH v. The Great Khali. Come on, they changed the ECW World title for Mark Henry, why can’t HHH use his pull to get a decent one made for himself? Khali fires away to start and HHH uses his (relative) speed to counter, but he walks into the tree slam. Head vice looks to finish, but HHH escapes and clips the knee. I am relieved to see them keeping this as quick as possible. Khali bails and catches HHH with the CHOP OF DEATH and tosses him into the railing, and back in for some punishment in the corner. Standing clothesline gets two. Khali goes to the melodramatic Vulcan nerve pinch, as I take back what I said about keeping it quick. Legdrop gets two. HHH breaks out of another nerve hold and fights back with a facebuster to tie Khali into the ropes, but HHH charges and runs into a boot. He tries the Pedigree but can’t quite muscle it over, and Khali backdrops him to the floor. HHH trips him up and posts the knee, but Khali clubs him off the apron. Back in, Khali gets another head vice, trying to contain the unstoppable force of HHH’s ego, but it’s just too much to overcome and HHH fights out of it. Khali charges and hits the corner, and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes at 9:20. Good god, HHH actually got a good match out of Great Khali, I’m at a loss for words. You HAVE to respect that. HHH worked a totally different David v. Goliath style match and made it work. Kudos to him for that. *** Batista v. John Cena Cole notes that this is “no hype needed, the ultimate showdown!” Isn’t that kind of self-contradictory? This sounds weird to type, but Cena really needs the win here. Batista grabs a headlock to start and Cena escapes with a slam, as the fan bile starts spewing almost immediately. Cena overpowers him, but Batista comes back with a clothesline and a jackhammer for two. That’s actually a good move for Big Dave, although I think he was just going for a suplex there and messed it up. Cena fires back with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Batista gets a sideslam, but Cena counters into the FU, so Batista escapes and attacks the knee. Kneecrusher sets up a figure-four and Ric Flair references from Cole, and they’re talking an awful lot about someone who’s been future-endeavored. Although maybe it’s because Flair quit that he escaped the erasure from history that “best of luck in future endeavors” entails. Cena powers to the ropes to break, and then dumps Batista with an FU over the top rope, which gives him some time to recover. Back in, Cena puts Batista down with the shoulderblocks and the backdrop suplex, and you can’t see him. Five knuckle shuffle sets up the FU, but Batista powers out and puts him down with the big boot. Double KO and Batista recovers first, spearing Cena into the corner and then following with a corner clothesline, but a blind charge hits elbow. Cena charges, however, and runs into the spinebuster, but Cena counters the demon bomb with a takedown and hooks the STFU. It’s kind of interesting that they’re going with this “all big moves no filler” approach because that’s a totally different style from what you normally see in the WWE. Kind of like late-era Rock v. Austin without the crowd brawling. Batista fights it and teases the tap, but makes the ropes instead. Cena tries to finish again, but Batista reverses the FU into a rear naked choke. Nice! This of course leads to the inherent contradiction of people trying to work UFC stuff into wrestling matches, when those moves are illegal in the wrestling world. You’d think they’d just clarify and make chokes legal, but that would rob mid-level heels of 89% of their offense. Batista spears him for two, but Cena freakishly powers him into the FU out of a powerslam attempt, for two. Cena goes up and they slug it out on the top rope, doing the “boo yay” bit for the crowd, and Cena wins that one. Batista goes down and Cena follows with a legdrop attempt, but Batista catches him with the powerbomb for two. If it was anyone else but Cena, I’d have called that as the finish. Now Batista is pissed, and kicks him in the face to set up another demon bomb, for the clean pin at 13:42. Seriously, did Cena back his car over Vince’s dog or something? I really loved this match, though, with big move after big move in my favorite type of match: The heavyweight slugfest. Not like two big guys punching each other, but two top guys being all stoic and hitting their big moves until one of them can’t get up. **** Hell in a Cell: Edge v. Undertaker Edge slugs away in the corner to start, unleashing the full power of his crazy. Taker boots him down, however, and fires away in return. Taker tosses him and runs him into the cage, then headbutts him down and gives him another trip into the cage. And the stairs. Back in, Taker guillotines him on the apron and brings the stairs into the ring, giving Edge a Snake Eyes on them. Edge, too crazy to go down, quickly whips Taker into the stairs in return and spears him into them. Touché. Edge pounds him down with the stairs and retrieves a table from the magic void under the ring. Two of them get stacked outside as a callback to their last match, but Edge can’t suplex him through them. He manages to necksnap UT and then hits him with a chair, as Edge seems to be making this a TLC match inside of Hell in a Cell, perhaps a sly comment on TNA’s crappy booking, but probably not. Edge puts him down with a chair and gets, yes, a ladder, trying to bring the match to something he knows. Another chairshot puts Taker down as hopefully they’re finished with the setup and now can get to the blood-soaked violence. Edge puts him on a table and elbowdrops a chair onto him, from the ladder, putting Taker through the table. That gets two. He tries the concerto, but Taker blocks him and slugs Edge down. Edge retreats to the apron, so Taker boots him into the cage. JR notes that “casualties are guaranteed” for this match, so I guess it’s kind of like a metaphor for the business in general. Taker runs the stairs into Edge’s head, but gets sent into the post, and Edge spears him right through the cage. Didn’t see that coming. Taker’s forearm is bleeding, so maybe he’s going emo as part of another gimmick change. He can have My Chemical Romance do his entrance music and blog about how his parents don’t understand him. They fight at ringside and Taker whips Edge into the railing, but Edge comes back with a monitor to the head, and then spears him from one table to another. There’s a great effect there, too, as the cameraman shook from the impact and really made it seem like an action movie scene or something. They slug it out at ringside and Taker wins that one pretty handily, but Edge comes back with his trusty ladder to take over again. A camera to the head gets two. JR notes that very move cost Taker the title last year, which is exactly what announcers are supposed to do. What a concept. Edge sets up for the spear, but Taker catches him with the chokeslam and gets two. Last Ride is countered with a low blow, which JR sadly does not call “legal as a headlock” this time. Edge with the Impaler for two. Taker sits up and goes for the powerbomb, but then changes his mind and wants the tables instead. That allows Edge to escape and spear him for two. Edge slugs away in the corner and that allows Taker to powerbomb him for two. Then Taker gets a little crazy and sets up for the tombstone on the stairs, but Edge reverses out with the Edge-O-Matic onto the stairs, for two. Man, those tables are just hanging over the match like the Sword of Damocles. And then Edge tries to go old school, but since he was in high school in 1990 Undertaker is able to counter it and chokeslam Edge through those damn tables. Well at least they finally paid it off. Back in, Taker gets cheeky and spears Edge, then sets up with the camera and just unloads on him with it. And then for the encore, he delivers his own concerto and Edge is pretty much dead and buried. Message delivered, I’d say. Tombstone kills him officially at 26:40. OK, now I never want to see this match on PPV again. Feud is OVER. Very enjoyable but somewhat antiseptic Hell in a Cell match (I mean, no blood?) with a lot of setup time from Edge and some good brawling to end the feud…but no blood? Really? And it didn’t really make use of the gimmick, being more of a TLC match that happened to be inside the cage. And no blood? ****1/4 And then they go and ruin all the good hatred with a stupid gimmick moment to end it, as Undertaker chokeslams Edge off a ladder and through a gimmicked part of the ring, which breaks and then bursts into flame at UT’s command. Oh come on now. I know they’re booking for children, but this is ridiculous. The Pulse: The top two matches were supposed to be great and delivered, while the two World title matches were probably going to suck and both ended up being pretty great all things considered, so that makes this show an easy thumbs up. Edge-Undertaker have great chemistry together, but they’ve pretty much hit the wall of where they can go from a match quality standpoint and the main event showed that to me. It was good, but I just don’t care about them anymore. Still, well worth checking out.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2008

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2008 – Live, in HD, from Madison Square Garden. This rant will also be presented in widescreen, so adjust your margins to 100 columns to match.  (2012 Scott sez:  First WWE show I ever ordered in HD!) – Your hosts are Michael Cole and The Coach and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler and Joey Styles and Tazz.Ric Flair v. MVP This is for Flair’s career, but not MVP’s title, which hardly seems like a fair swap. Flair grabs a headlock and gets knocked down to start. They trade hammerlocks and Flair starts with the chops, but MVP brings him down with a Yakuza kick and a neckbreaker for two. He goes to the armbar, but Flair elbows out and clips him. MVP fights off he figure-four, then reverses another attempt into a cradle for two. They slug it out in the corner and Flair gets backdropped, allowing MVP to follow with another high kick in the corner for…the pin? Nope, Flair’s foot is on the ropes. That’s always struck me as a dangerous way to break a count, because the ref could miss it. (2012 Scott sez:  Just ask John Cena.)  Flair gets a rollup for two, but MVP clotheslines him and gets a suplex for two. To the top for the superplex, and that gets two. MVP goes for some kind of fireman’s carry thing, but Flair escapes and they collide in the corner, giving Flair a cradle for two. Backslide gets two. Flair throws chops, but MVP takes him down with a kneelift. He sets up to finish, but Flair reverses to the figure-four to finish. Well it’s not like Flair was going to retire here. **1/2 – Meanwhile, Vince and his midget bastard discuss Rumble strategy.  (2012 Scott sez:  I forget, did they ever resolve the issue of Hornswoggle’s parentage?  Was it actually Finlay who was his dad?)  Chris Jericho v. JBL (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, this feud was DEATH.  Jericho was already on the ropes as a babyface character at this point in his comeback and JBL did nothing to make people care about him.)  JBL ducks away from the lockup to start and hides in the ropes, then goes with the cheapshot before Jericho takes him down with a spear and pounds away. The reactions for Jericho seem a bit tepid tonight. Jericho punts the ribs and quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but JBL is in the ropes. JBL bails, bu Jericho hits him with a baseball slide and sends him into the stairs. Back in, JBL catches him with a stungun. JBL hits him with a pair of short clotheslines and chokes away on the ropes, forcing JR to say “larynx” far too many times for someone who can’t pronounce it. Jericho fights back with chops, but walks into the sleeper. Jericho fights out with a clothesline, but JBL boots him down and then sends him into the post. And we have blood! (2012 Scott sez:  Blood?  What’s that?)  JBL is all over that, stomping the cut in the corner, but Jericho shoulderblocks him down and drops elbows. Lionsault and a Cactus clothesline put both guys on the floor, and Jericho uses a chair to draw the DQ. LAME. Jericho goes nuts and chokes JBL with the TV cable (which is hopefully Monster HDMI, since it’s in HD now and all), and that finally gets the crowd a little more on his side. Lots of blood from Jericho, but the match was strictly TV quality, with a limited moveset from JBL. **3/4 – Meanwhile, Santino Marella informs an apparently anorexic Ashley that Maria won’t be doing Ashley’s “booby magazine”. Spoiler: She already has.  (2012 Scott sez:  She was the last one to do so, I believe.)  Smackdown World title: Edge v. Rey Mysterio What’s with the hate from the crowd for Rey Rey? And what’s with a tattoo of a chain around his neck? Who DOES that? Really, though, how can you not love Edge and his circus of flunkies? (2012 Scott sez:  I guarantee I wasn’t watching this thinking “Hey, Edgehead #2 might just be US champion and one of my favorite wrestlers someday relatively soon.”)  They do the test of strength and Rey escapes with a headscissors, and the crowd is just all over him for some reason. Low dropkick gets two (or should I say “Boo”) and Edge backs off. Edge gets the big boot and tosses Rey, and sadly the Edgeheads get sent back to the dressing room by the ref before they can do anything. Rey fights back in and goes for the 619, but Edge bails, so Rey follows with a pescado. Senton back in gets two. Rey misses a charge in the corner and Edge kicks him in the injured knee to take over, so Rey bails. Back in, Edge stomps the crap out of the knee and goes to a half-crab. Rey fights out with an enzuigiri, but Edge powerslams him for two. Edge can’t get a horse-collar, so he goes with a kneebar instead, but Rey kicks out of it. Edge stays on the knee, but Rey comes back with the bulldog, and the crowd really hates that for some reason. It’s not my favourite move either, but geez. (2012 Scott sez:  Eh, it’s New York, what are you gonna do?)  Edge tries a sunset flip, but Rey rolls through and boots Edge down for two. Rey takes Edge down out of a powerbomb attempt for two. To the top and a double-stomp gets two. Edge comes back with the big boot and sets up for the spear, but misses and hits the corner. 619 miraculously brings Vickie Guerrero out of her wheelchair in time to pull the ref out, and she blocks a second 619, allowing Edge to spear Rey and retain the title. (2012 Scott sez:  This was the run where Vickie really blossomed from annoying manager into nuclear heat generator.)  Good match, weird crowd reactions. Never really took off like their tag matches together used to, but Edge is a different worker now and Rey is a lot more banged up. The soap opera finish worked well. ***1/2 Quick story for you: I’m watching Smackdown at work the other night because it’s in HD now and thus I can actually justify having it on, and my co-worker, who hasn’t watched in a few years, is asking what happened to Teddy Long. I tell him I’m not sure, and he asks who the GM of Smackdown is now. I tell him that it’s Eddie Guerrero’s widow, and he comments that things much be just about as bad now as when he stopped watching. So there you go, WWE. – Meanwhile, Kennedy Kennedy gets in Flair’s face and volunteers to be the guy to retire him at Wrestlemania. (2012 Scott sez:  I do believe that was the plan at one point before Shawn got the honors instead.)  Shawn Michaels chases Ken off (“Kids these days…”) and then shills his t-shirt while mediating a dispute between HHH and Batista. – Maria joins us for the Royal Rumble HD Kiss Cam, but Ashley and her disgusting ribs interrupt to offer a spot in Playboy. Thankfully, Santino is once again the voice of reason and nearly incites violence from the crowd with his comments about the Giants. Maria polls the crowd, but Santino points out that the crowd are like sheep and they’ll cheer if you ask them if they want hepatitis. HA! The payoff, as usual, is Big Dick Johnson, because they had nothing better to use for a punchline, I guess. RAW World title: Randy Orton v. Jeff Hardy (2012 Scott sez:  The 2008 Rumble was WAY up in buys almost exclusively due to Jeff Hardy challenging for the title now.  For example, I bought the show based solely on seeing this match and I’m a cynical fuck who stopped caring about buying PPVs years before this show, so that tells you what kind of a draw this match was.  And although hindsight says that what they did was the right decision in the long run, man was it ever the wrong decision at the time.  A little goodwill goes a long ways sometimes.)    This one finally has the big match feel that has been lacking from the other matches tonight. Well, except for Mike Adamle calling him “Jeff Harvey”. Hey, hope you enjoyed your one PPV, Mike. (2012 Scott sez:  Sadly he stuck around a while longer.)  Jeff is the Good Guy and Randy is the Bad Guy and the crowd has their side picked firmly. They fight for a lockup to start and Jeff grabs the headlock and gets two. Orton reverses to a headscissors, but Hardy takes him down for the legdrop and a low dropkick for two. Orton pounds him down (“Who’s your boy now? What’s he going to do? NOTHING!” That’s some good trash talk!), but Hardy clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a baseball slide that sends Orton’s head into the railing at a pretty sick angle. Jeff follows with a pescado, prompting Orton to take his belt and leave, but Jeff cuts him off and they brawl outside. Jeff tries to springboard in, but Randy uses his DROPKICK OF DOOM to counter and put Jeff back on the floor. Nice spot! Orton suplexes him on the floor, and gets two back in the ring. Orton uses the Garvin Stomp and then drops a knee on Jeff’s face (Not his beautiful face!) for two. Jeff fights back and sends Orton to the floor, then follows with a dive off the apron and surprisingly hits it. Back in, he gets two. He charges Orton and eats post, however, and Orton gets two. Orton goes to the chinlock with the bodyscissors, and a powerslam gets two. Orton uses his deadly side headlock, but Hardy comes back with a clothesline and elbows him down. Whisper in the Wind gets two. Mule kick in the corner and Jeff goes up, but Orton rolls to the apron to stop him. Hardy dropkicks him to the floor anyway and then goes back up with a moonsault press to the floor. Back in, Orton reverses the Twist of Fate into the RKO out of nowhere for the pin to retain. That one just totally sucked the life out of the crowd. Didn’t really have a finishing sequence as such, which hurt it a lot. I’ve gotta be honest, I bought the show based on the buildup to this match and I was expecting WAY more out of it, and it was a pretty big disappointment. Especially without some kind of big bump from Hardy or otherwise memorable spot. I dunno, I keep giving them another shot and they keep letting me down. ***1/4  (2012 Scott sez:  Story of my life with WWE.  “Hey, you like this Ryder guy?  Let’s have Kane beat him like a dog for 10 minutes and then ‘break’ his back by chokeslamming him through a gimmicked stage.  Now give us your money!”) Royal Rumble Undertaker draws lucky #1, and Shawn is #2. Huh. Wouldn’t have predicted that. Taker quickly whips Shawn into the corner for the Flair Flip and slugs away. To the other corner as Shawn teases going over the top again, but he goads Undertaker into charging and puts him on the apron. Shawn charges and gets caught by Taker, and they’re both back in for the big boot from Taker. Santino is #3 and he immediately eats the superkick and he’s gone. Poor guy. Shawn attacks Taker while he’s tossing Santino, and gets an atomic drop and chops in the corner. Flying forearm and Great Khali is #4 while Taker chokeslams Shawn. Taker immediately jumps Khali, but faces the BITCHSLAP OF DEATH. Crowd chants “You can’t wrestle”. Too true. Taker and Khali choke each other, but Taker dumps him and we’re back to Shawn v. Undertaker again. Hardcore Holly is #5, and Taker gets the corner clothesline on him and boots him down. Shawn keeps trying to catch Taker from behind and dump him, but Taker reverses to a fireman’s carry and they fight on the ropes. John Morrison is #6 and he gets his ass kicked by Shawn, but hangs on when chucked over the top. Shawn hits him with the flying elbow and sets up for the superkick, but John catches it and spinkicks him. Tommy Dreamer is #7, but he quickly gets pounded down by Undertaker. Batista is #8, and he’s all over it with spinebusters, leading to a showdown with Undertaker. Tommy interrupts that and tries a DDT, but Batista tosses him to end his dreams. Batista spears Morrison, but Taker chokes him out in the corner. Hornswoggle is #9 (8.5?) and he immediately hides under the ring. Can’t argue that strategy. (2012 Scott sez:  Worked for Jimmy Hart back in the day.  It’s solid battle royale planning!)  Holly clotheslines Shawn to the apron, but he hangs on while Chuck Palumbo is #10. The black bandana in his pocket indicates heavy S&M, according to Wikipedia. Hey, he played the gay tag team wrestler. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, was that when he was playing the car mechanic?  He could have made way better money fixing all the vehicles blown up by Vince Russo over the years.)  Jamie Noble is #11 and Palumbo tosses him right away. For the seven people who care about that feud, I guess. Shawn tosses Morrison and he hangs on, as CM Punk is #12 and throwing knees at everyone. He tries to bulldog Shawn, but Taker clotheslines him. Shawn ends up on the apron again, as does Palumbo, and Punk knees Chuck off to eliminate him. Cody Rhodes is #13 to deafening silence, and he’s dumb enough to go after Undertaker. Shawn tries to piledrive Batista but gets backdropped, while Taker beats on Rhodes. Umaga is #14 with red tights that threaten to blow out my TV, and he immediately clotheslines Holly out of the match while Rhodes backdrops Shawn to the apron yet again. Snitsky is #15 and he gets offense against everyone, but Rhodes jumps on his back and takes him to the apron. Sadly, neither goes out. The Miz is #16 as this thing is really starting to drag. Miz and Morrison team up on Punk while Taker tries to dump Umaga without any success. Shelton Benjamin is #17 and he too goes after Punk with a fancy DDT, but Shawn superkicks him out just as he’s getting warmed up. And yet Cody Rhodes is still allowed to bore us?  (2012 Scott sez:  Thankfully Cody would get much less boring after the whole Legacy deal.)  Superfly Jimmy Snuka is #18 looking like he just got unearthed from his tomb, and poor Miz gets to sell for him. Speaking of unearthed, Roddy Piper is #19, and he’s not looking that hot either. Piper and Snuka do a comedy sequence while the match literally stops. Kane is #20 and dumps both of the seniors, thankfully. Chokeslam for Miz and he beats on Umaga in the corner. Carlito is #21 and he gets the usual flurry of offense before reality sets in with a bulldog from Cody Rhodes. Mick Foley is #22. Hey, he’s back. Again. How can we miss him if he won’t go away? Mick goes after Kane with a DDT while Undertaker powerbombs Batista, and there’s lots of laying around and punching going on. Kennedy is #23 and we desperately need someone to clear the deadwood. Downward spiral for Punk and Miz, but Taker sits up and chokeslams him. Big Daddy V is #24 as Snitsky gets tossed…and Shawn superkicks the Undertaker out. And then Kennedy tosses Shawn. Oh, SNAP. Well that makes the winner pretty obvious. I should note that Michaels and Undertaker were not “deadwood” and didn’t need clearing. Cody and Kennedy battle on the apron while Mark Henry is #25 to really crank up the workrate. Hornswoggle finally leaves the hiding spot and pulls Miz out, then goes back under again. Chavo Guerrero is #26 as we’re running out of spots and stars to fill them. Punk and Chavo go at it while Kane boots Morrison out of the match. Hornswoggle emerges again, but gets dragged in by Henry and Vis. Finlay comes in to save him, and takes him back to the dressing room. Apparently Finlay was #27 and was DQ’d for using the shillelagh. Lame. Elijah Burke is #28 while Chavo chokes Punk out of the match. HHH is #29 and it’s deadwood time. Rhodes is finally gone. V is gone. Mick Foley slugs away on HHH and gets tossed into Burke, putting them both out. So that’s why they left all those guys in there. Umaga misses a charge and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for him. And holy crap…John Cena is #30. So much for rehab. (2012 Scott sez:  Cena used a crazy technique called “lying” whereby he did not tell the truth about his injury on Twitter every week, thus preserving the illusion that he would be out for months instead of weeks.  Randy Orton has not learned this lesson, apparently.  I guess that makes Cena = Scotty and Orton = LaForge.)  Bye, Carlito. So long, Chavo. Ciao, Mark Henry. Cena and HHH have the staredown and slug it out, and HHH gets a spinebuster. Umaga recovers from his Pedigree and attacks HHH, but gets speared by Batista. Kennedy gets thrown out like the garbage, and Batista clotheslines Umaga out for an encore. HHH and Batista team up to get rid of Kane, and we’re down to Cena, Batista and Kane. Now that’s quite the finish. Batista gives them the thumbs down and Cena can’t see anyone. HHH tells them to suck it and it’s on. Everyone slugs it out and Batista elbows Cena down and clotheslines HHH in the corner, then clotheslines both guys. Spinebuster for Cena, and he reverses a Pedigree into another one for HHH. Cena reverses the demon bomb, and HHH dumps Batista to leave Cena and HHH. They slug it out and now the crowd totally turns on Cena after giving him the big pop, and Cena gets a backdrop suplex. F-U is reversed to the Pedigree, but they clothesline each other. HHH tries to clothesline him out, but runs into a boot. He recovers with a DDT and fights with Cena on the ropes, but they trade finisher attempts and Cena dumps him with the F-U to win the match and the title shot. Pretty dull Rumble, but the finish was super-heated and shows that clearly they need to change the belt at No Way Out (if not sooner) and do Cena v. HHH at Wrestlemania for the title. ***  (2012 Scott sez:  Well, Cena v. HHH v. Orton, so close enough, although it wasn’t exactly a heated classic or anything.)  The Pulse Nothing bad and a HUGE shock ending to the Rumble make this a pretty easy thumbs up, although honestly it was a bit of a letdown overall. If you’re watching for the Hardy-Orton title match, however, you’ll be disappointed. Mild recommendation.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2008

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2008 – Live, in HD, from Madison Square Garden. This rant will also be presented in widescreen, so adjust your margins to 100 columns to match.  (2012 Scott sez:  First WWE show I ever ordered in HD!) – Your hosts are Michael Cole and The Coach and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler and Joey Styles and Tazz.Ric Flair v. MVP This is for Flair’s career, but not MVP’s title, which hardly seems like a fair swap. Flair grabs a headlock and gets knocked down to start. They trade hammerlocks and Flair starts with the chops, but MVP brings him down with a Yakuza kick and a neckbreaker for two. He goes to the armbar, but Flair elbows out and clips him. MVP fights off he figure-four, then reverses another attempt into a cradle for two. They slug it out in the corner and Flair gets backdropped, allowing MVP to follow with another high kick in the corner for…the pin? Nope, Flair’s foot is on the ropes. That’s always struck me as a dangerous way to break a count, because the ref could miss it. (2012 Scott sez:  Just ask John Cena.)  Flair gets a rollup for two, but MVP clotheslines him and gets a suplex for two. To the top for the superplex, and that gets two. MVP goes for some kind of fireman’s carry thing, but Flair escapes and they collide in the corner, giving Flair a cradle for two. Backslide gets two. Flair throws chops, but MVP takes him down with a kneelift. He sets up to finish, but Flair reverses to the figure-four to finish. Well it’s not like Flair was going to retire here. **1/2 – Meanwhile, Vince and his midget bastard discuss Rumble strategy.  (2012 Scott sez:  I forget, did they ever resolve the issue of Hornswoggle’s parentage?  Was it actually Finlay who was his dad?)  Chris Jericho v. JBL (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, this feud was DEATH.  Jericho was already on the ropes as a babyface character at this point in his comeback and JBL did nothing to make people care about him.)  JBL ducks away from the lockup to start and hides in the ropes, then goes with the cheapshot before Jericho takes him down with a spear and pounds away. The reactions for Jericho seem a bit tepid tonight. Jericho punts the ribs and quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but JBL is in the ropes. JBL bails, bu Jericho hits him with a baseball slide and sends him into the stairs. Back in, JBL catches him with a stungun. JBL hits him with a pair of short clotheslines and chokes away on the ropes, forcing JR to say “larynx” far too many times for someone who can’t pronounce it. Jericho fights back with chops, but walks into the sleeper. Jericho fights out with a clothesline, but JBL boots him down and then sends him into the post. And we have blood! (2012 Scott sez:  Blood?  What’s that?)  JBL is all over that, stomping the cut in the corner, but Jericho shoulderblocks him down and drops elbows. Lionsault and a Cactus clothesline put both guys on the floor, and Jericho uses a chair to draw the DQ. LAME. Jericho goes nuts and chokes JBL with the TV cable (which is hopefully Monster HDMI, since it’s in HD now and all), and that finally gets the crowd a little more on his side. Lots of blood from Jericho, but the match was strictly TV quality, with a limited moveset from JBL. **3/4 – Meanwhile, Santino Marella informs an apparently anorexic Ashley that Maria won’t be doing Ashley’s “booby magazine”. Spoiler: She already has.  (2012 Scott sez:  She was the last one to do so, I believe.)  Smackdown World title: Edge v. Rey Mysterio What’s with the hate from the crowd for Rey Rey? And what’s with a tattoo of a chain around his neck? Who DOES that? Really, though, how can you not love Edge and his circus of flunkies? (2012 Scott sez:  I guarantee I wasn’t watching this thinking “Hey, Edgehead #2 might just be US champion and one of my favorite wrestlers someday relatively soon.”)  They do the test of strength and Rey escapes with a headscissors, and the crowd is just all over him for some reason. Low dropkick gets two (or should I say “Boo”) and Edge backs off. Edge gets the big boot and tosses Rey, and sadly the Edgeheads get sent back to the dressing room by the ref before they can do anything. Rey fights back in and goes for the 619, but Edge bails, so Rey follows with a pescado. Senton back in gets two. Rey misses a charge in the corner and Edge kicks him in the injured knee to take over, so Rey bails. Back in, Edge stomps the crap out of the knee and goes to a half-crab. Rey fights out with an enzuigiri, but Edge powerslams him for two. Edge can’t get a horse-collar, so he goes with a kneebar instead, but Rey kicks out of it. Edge stays on the knee, but Rey comes back with the bulldog, and the crowd really hates that for some reason. It’s not my favourite move either, but geez. (2012 Scott sez:  Eh, it’s New York, what are you gonna do?)  Edge tries a sunset flip, but Rey rolls through and boots Edge down for two. Rey takes Edge down out of a powerbomb attempt for two. To the top and a double-stomp gets two. Edge comes back with the big boot and sets up for the spear, but misses and hits the corner. 619 miraculously brings Vickie Guerrero out of her wheelchair in time to pull the ref out, and she blocks a second 619, allowing Edge to spear Rey and retain the title. (2012 Scott sez:  This was the run where Vickie really blossomed from annoying manager into nuclear heat generator.)  Good match, weird crowd reactions. Never really took off like their tag matches together used to, but Edge is a different worker now and Rey is a lot more banged up. The soap opera finish worked well. ***1/2 Quick story for you: I’m watching Smackdown at work the other night because it’s in HD now and thus I can actually justify having it on, and my co-worker, who hasn’t watched in a few years, is asking what happened to Teddy Long. I tell him I’m not sure, and he asks who the GM of Smackdown is now. I tell him that it’s Eddie Guerrero’s widow, and he comments that things much be just about as bad now as when he stopped watching. So there you go, WWE. – Meanwhile, Kennedy Kennedy gets in Flair’s face and volunteers to be the guy to retire him at Wrestlemania. (2012 Scott sez:  I do believe that was the plan at one point before Shawn got the honors instead.)  Shawn Michaels chases Ken off (“Kids these days…”) and then shills his t-shirt while mediating a dispute between HHH and Batista. – Maria joins us for the Royal Rumble HD Kiss Cam, but Ashley and her disgusting ribs interrupt to offer a spot in Playboy. Thankfully, Santino is once again the voice of reason and nearly incites violence from the crowd with his comments about the Giants. Maria polls the crowd, but Santino points out that the crowd are like sheep and they’ll cheer if you ask them if they want hepatitis. HA! The payoff, as usual, is Big Dick Johnson, because they had nothing better to use for a punchline, I guess. RAW World title: Randy Orton v. Jeff Hardy (2012 Scott sez:  The 2008 Rumble was WAY up in buys almost exclusively due to Jeff Hardy challenging for the title now.  For example, I bought the show based solely on seeing this match and I’m a cynical fuck who stopped caring about buying PPVs years before this show, so that tells you what kind of a draw this match was.  And although hindsight says that what they did was the right decision in the long run, man was it ever the wrong decision at the time.  A little goodwill goes a long ways sometimes.)    This one finally has the big match feel that has been lacking from the other matches tonight. Well, except for Mike Adamle calling him “Jeff Harvey”. Hey, hope you enjoyed your one PPV, Mike. (2012 Scott sez:  Sadly he stuck around a while longer.)  Jeff is the Good Guy and Randy is the Bad Guy and the crowd has their side picked firmly. They fight for a lockup to start and Jeff grabs the headlock and gets two. Orton reverses to a headscissors, but Hardy takes him down for the legdrop and a low dropkick for two. Orton pounds him down (“Who’s your boy now? What’s he going to do? NOTHING!” That’s some good trash talk!), but Hardy clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a baseball slide that sends Orton’s head into the railing at a pretty sick angle. Jeff follows with a pescado, prompting Orton to take his belt and leave, but Jeff cuts him off and they brawl outside. Jeff tries to springboard in, but Randy uses his DROPKICK OF DOOM to counter and put Jeff back on the floor. Nice spot! Orton suplexes him on the floor, and gets two back in the ring. Orton uses the Garvin Stomp and then drops a knee on Jeff’s face (Not his beautiful face!) for two. Jeff fights back and sends Orton to the floor, then follows with a dive off the apron and surprisingly hits it. Back in, he gets two. He charges Orton and eats post, however, and Orton gets two. Orton goes to the chinlock with the bodyscissors, and a powerslam gets two. Orton uses his deadly side headlock, but Hardy comes back with a clothesline and elbows him down. Whisper in the Wind gets two. Mule kick in the corner and Jeff goes up, but Orton rolls to the apron to stop him. Hardy dropkicks him to the floor anyway and then goes back up with a moonsault press to the floor. Back in, Orton reverses the Twist of Fate into the RKO out of nowhere for the pin to retain. That one just totally sucked the life out of the crowd. Didn’t really have a finishing sequence as such, which hurt it a lot. I’ve gotta be honest, I bought the show based on the buildup to this match and I was expecting WAY more out of it, and it was a pretty big disappointment. Especially without some kind of big bump from Hardy or otherwise memorable spot. I dunno, I keep giving them another shot and they keep letting me down. ***1/4  (2012 Scott sez:  Story of my life with WWE.  “Hey, you like this Ryder guy?  Let’s have Kane beat him like a dog for 10 minutes and then ‘break’ his back by chokeslamming him through a gimmicked stage.  Now give us your money!”) Royal Rumble Undertaker draws lucky #1, and Shawn is #2. Huh. Wouldn’t have predicted that. Taker quickly whips Shawn into the corner for the Flair Flip and slugs away. To the other corner as Shawn teases going over the top again, but he goads Undertaker into charging and puts him on the apron. Shawn charges and gets caught by Taker, and they’re both back in for the big boot from Taker. Santino is #3 and he immediately eats the superkick and he’s gone. Poor guy. Shawn attacks Taker while he’s tossing Santino, and gets an atomic drop and chops in the corner. Flying forearm and Great Khali is #4 while Taker chokeslams Shawn. Taker immediately jumps Khali, but faces the BITCHSLAP OF DEATH. Crowd chants “You can’t wrestle”. Too true. Taker and Khali choke each other, but Taker dumps him and we’re back to Shawn v. Undertaker again. Hardcore Holly is #5, and Taker gets the corner clothesline on him and boots him down. Shawn keeps trying to catch Taker from behind and dump him, but Taker reverses to a fireman’s carry and they fight on the ropes. John Morrison is #6 and he gets his ass kicked by Shawn, but hangs on when chucked over the top. Shawn hits him with the flying elbow and sets up for the superkick, but John catches it and spinkicks him. Tommy Dreamer is #7, but he quickly gets pounded down by Undertaker. Batista is #8, and he’s all over it with spinebusters, leading to a showdown with Undertaker. Tommy interrupts that and tries a DDT, but Batista tosses him to end his dreams. Batista spears Morrison, but Taker chokes him out in the corner. Hornswoggle is #9 (8.5?) and he immediately hides under the ring. Can’t argue that strategy. (2012 Scott sez:  Worked for Jimmy Hart back in the day.  It’s solid battle royale planning!)  Holly clotheslines Shawn to the apron, but he hangs on while Chuck Palumbo is #10. The black bandana in his pocket indicates heavy S&M, according to Wikipedia. Hey, he played the gay tag team wrestler. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, was that when he was playing the car mechanic?  He could have made way better money fixing all the vehicles blown up by Vince Russo over the years.)  Jamie Noble is #11 and Palumbo tosses him right away. For the seven people who care about that feud, I guess. Shawn tosses Morrison and he hangs on, as CM Punk is #12 and throwing knees at everyone. He tries to bulldog Shawn, but Taker clotheslines him. Shawn ends up on the apron again, as does Palumbo, and Punk knees Chuck off to eliminate him. Cody Rhodes is #13 to deafening silence, and he’s dumb enough to go after Undertaker. Shawn tries to piledrive Batista but gets backdropped, while Taker beats on Rhodes. Umaga is #14 with red tights that threaten to blow out my TV, and he immediately clotheslines Holly out of the match while Rhodes backdrops Shawn to the apron yet again. Snitsky is #15 and he gets offense against everyone, but Rhodes jumps on his back and takes him to the apron. Sadly, neither goes out. The Miz is #16 as this thing is really starting to drag. Miz and Morrison team up on Punk while Taker tries to dump Umaga without any success. Shelton Benjamin is #17 and he too goes after Punk with a fancy DDT, but Shawn superkicks him out just as he’s getting warmed up. And yet Cody Rhodes is still allowed to bore us?  (2012 Scott sez:  Thankfully Cody would get much less boring after the whole Legacy deal.)  Superfly Jimmy Snuka is #18 looking like he just got unearthed from his tomb, and poor Miz gets to sell for him. Speaking of unearthed, Roddy Piper is #19, and he’s not looking that hot either. Piper and Snuka do a comedy sequence while the match literally stops. Kane is #20 and dumps both of the seniors, thankfully. Chokeslam for Miz and he beats on Umaga in the corner. Carlito is #21 and he gets the usual flurry of offense before reality sets in with a bulldog from Cody Rhodes. Mick Foley is #22. Hey, he’s back. Again. How can we miss him if he won’t go away? Mick goes after Kane with a DDT while Undertaker powerbombs Batista, and there’s lots of laying around and punching going on. Kennedy is #23 and we desperately need someone to clear the deadwood. Downward spiral for Punk and Miz, but Taker sits up and chokeslams him. Big Daddy V is #24 as Snitsky gets tossed…and Shawn superkicks the Undertaker out. And then Kennedy tosses Shawn. Oh, SNAP. Well that makes the winner pretty obvious. I should note that Michaels and Undertaker were not “deadwood” and didn’t need clearing. Cody and Kennedy battle on the apron while Mark Henry is #25 to really crank up the workrate. Hornswoggle finally leaves the hiding spot and pulls Miz out, then goes back under again. Chavo Guerrero is #26 as we’re running out of spots and stars to fill them. Punk and Chavo go at it while Kane boots Morrison out of the match. Hornswoggle emerges again, but gets dragged in by Henry and Vis. Finlay comes in to save him, and takes him back to the dressing room. Apparently Finlay was #27 and was DQ’d for using the shillelagh. Lame. Elijah Burke is #28 while Chavo chokes Punk out of the match. HHH is #29 and it’s deadwood time. Rhodes is finally gone. V is gone. Mick Foley slugs away on HHH and gets tossed into Burke, putting them both out. So that’s why they left all those guys in there. Umaga misses a charge and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for him. And holy crap…John Cena is #30. So much for rehab. (2012 Scott sez:  Cena used a crazy technique called “lying” whereby he did not tell the truth about his injury on Twitter every week, thus preserving the illusion that he would be out for months instead of weeks.  Randy Orton has not learned this lesson, apparently.  I guess that makes Cena = Scotty and Orton = LaForge.)  Bye, Carlito. So long, Chavo. Ciao, Mark Henry. Cena and HHH have the staredown and slug it out, and HHH gets a spinebuster. Umaga recovers from his Pedigree and attacks HHH, but gets speared by Batista. Kennedy gets thrown out like the garbage, and Batista clotheslines Umaga out for an encore. HHH and Batista team up to get rid of Kane, and we’re down to Cena, Batista and Kane. Now that’s quite the finish. Batista gives them the thumbs down and Cena can’t see anyone. HHH tells them to suck it and it’s on. Everyone slugs it out and Batista elbows Cena down and clotheslines HHH in the corner, then clotheslines both guys. Spinebuster for Cena, and he reverses a Pedigree into another one for HHH. Cena reverses the demon bomb, and HHH dumps Batista to leave Cena and HHH. They slug it out and now the crowd totally turns on Cena after giving him the big pop, and Cena gets a backdrop suplex. F-U is reversed to the Pedigree, but they clothesline each other. HHH tries to clothesline him out, but runs into a boot. He recovers with a DDT and fights with Cena on the ropes, but they trade finisher attempts and Cena dumps him with the F-U to win the match and the title shot. Pretty dull Rumble, but the finish was super-heated and shows that clearly they need to change the belt at No Way Out (if not sooner) and do Cena v. HHH at Wrestlemania for the title. ***  (2012 Scott sez:  Well, Cena v. HHH v. Orton, so close enough, although it wasn’t exactly a heated classic or anything.)  The Pulse Nothing bad and a HUGE shock ending to the Rumble make this a pretty easy thumbs up, although honestly it was a bit of a letdown overall. If you’re watching for the Hardy-Orton title match, however, you’ll be disappointed. Mild recommendation.