Todd Grisham starts the show by announcing Matt Striker is ”temporarily” replacing Tazz on commentary in the same way his Dad was temporarily going to get cigarettes. Striker says he may not fill up as much space on screen as Tazz but he’s better looking as Striker is still in character. I think.
Chavo Guerrero & Bam Neely vs. Ricky Ortiz & Evan Bourne
”This Ortiz is certainly charismatic” says Striker as he enters to the flattest of pops. Grisham informs us Ortiz used to be a border agent. Striker: ”There’s a joke that can be made but I’m not going to make it.” Pussy, Tazz would have been all over that like a Sloppy Joe. Neely is competing in small black tights and like most comments regarding Neely, they aren’t complimentary. Neely gets double-teamed so he tags out to Chavo who then gets stretched by Evan. Neely re-enters but somehow ends up hitting Ortiz and changes the momentum. After some heatless working overs, Ortiz makes the hot tag to Evan who throws some cool kicks and lands the flying double knees off the top. Ortiz and Chavo both end up going outside at the same time due to a Bourne drop-kick (looked as convincing as it reads) and Bourne wraps up Neely in a super-roll up to end it.
Winners: Ricky Ortiz & Evan Bourne (Bourne and Chavo were fine but having Neely and Ortiz wrestle was the definition of the bland leading the bland.)
Mike Knox is in the ring, talking like a normal person. He explains why he attacked Finlay & Hornswoggle last week by playing a bit of the Summerslam 2008 trailer:
Knox says it’s OK to laugh, we should laugh as Finlay has turned into a joke. Finlay & Horny make their way to the ring (smiling and waving) and call Knox silly names…until Finlay turns serious and dares him to attack his family again, going as far as to turn around and giving Knox a free shot. ”You’d better knock me out, cos I’ll show you if I’ve gone soft or not.” Knox walks away rather than fight with Finlay now he realises he’s still got ”it.” Although Knox lost a little by walking away, this was a great segment and fixed a lot of Finlay’s dopiness.
RAW RECAP: Cena and Batista are competing against each other at Summerslam so they team up to win the tag titles from Rhodes & Dibiase because the titles were props until 2012 unless Morrison & Miz had them. The build to Cena vs. Batista 1 was so weird, getting announced by GM Mike Adamle of all people.
Armando Estrada vs. Tommy Dreamer
Armando has to win to keep his job. Tommy gets some armdrags on Armanda who takes a breather outside but a necksnap does nothing to stop Dreamer’s offence as he sets up the Tree Of Woe. However,Colin Delaney shows up at ringside so Tommy goes for him.
Dreamer re-enters and surprisingly stays on offence but gets distracted a second time by Colin on the ring apron allowing Armando to get the schoolboy roll-up.
Winner and still employed: Armando Estrada (All storyline here with Colin taking the best bump of the match.)
Colin congratulates Armando backstage, who is confused as to why of all people Colin would help him. Colin explains Armando at least gave him a chance to EARN his contract unlike Tommy. Teddy isn’t impressed and makes it Tommy vs. Colin, Extreme Rules next week.
SMACKDOWN REBOUND: Edge talks about the Hell In A Cell match with Undertaker, bringing commentator Mick Foley into the ring to help him. Foley tells him he can’t help him, only Edge can help Edge. He agrees and puts Foley through a table with a chair off the ladder.
Braden Walker vs. James Curtis
Braden’s last match, making his way to the ring to no reaction and a cheesy-ass royalty free song. Walker delivers a hip-toss and a delayed vertical suplex as Striker explains Walker is a very quiet individual and told him he’ll do all his talking in the ring. If only he had, he may still be employed. Quiet BORING chant breaks out as Curtis gets a sneak attack to half-arsed boos. Braden immediately comes back with left-armed clotheslines. He delivers some more (Grisham: ”Apparently he’s a fan of those.”) before landing a Fisherman’s Suplex for the pin with no build whatsoever.
Winner: Braden Walker (Even if Braden hadn’t become a meme, this would still be described as ”shitty”, ”unimpressive”, ”Neely-esque”with even the commentators struggling to not turn on him.)
Braden would be released from his contract two days later. Some (including Lance Storm who mocked him on Twitter) pointed out his bad physique and outfit but a quick look at his last TNA appearance shows he was roughly the same size keg as before:
In the interest of interest, here’s a 2009 interview with Braden as conducted by OnlineWorldOfWrestling:
Alan Wojcik: “You signed in February but sat on the sidelines for months except for a dark matches with Shelton Benjamin, Ron Killings and a match with FCW. What were the reasons given by Johnny “Ace” Laurinitis, WWE creative and how long before the name Braden Walker came into existence?”
Chris Harris: “You might need a second tape for this one. I spent time in Tampa getting the rust off before a trip to Stamford to meet the writing staff which was many people. Ideas were put out there by them and me, some were good and some outright sucked. All I can say was everyone was happy with the plans we set up. Within weeks the whole thing got shut down. I wish I could have proven the rumors wrong but everyone in WWE is two-faced. I went out and bought some outfits to test out the characters. The agents in Tampa wanted to get the plans going. But nothing we talked out ever came to be. I’ve seen the DVD’s and heard stories of guys having their stuff run into the ground. I had a different name, look and zero back story. That name makes me cringe. They came to me 20 minutes before my debut and said you need to pick a name. I talked to Tazz and Mick Foley and got some good notes. The list was filled with real garbage and I tried to be a team player since I was new to the company. There were better names ran by Vince but he shot them down. I realize when you go to a promotion you are going to begin with a clean slate. But when I couldn’t be Chris Harris it didn’t feel like right. I had to toss my entire ring style out the window because my move set was too similar to other established people. Look at my last match I think I threw 500 clotheslines because I was told by several people I couldn’t do anything else. It was horrible.”
Alan Wojcik: “On July 8th you made your WWE TV debut on the ECW brand defeating Armando Estrada. What were the noticeable differences between the WWE & the TNA locker rooms other than the McMahon’s or Jeff and Dixie Carter?”
Chris Harris: “To be honest I had zero problems with any of the locker room members. I heard stories of new guys getting their gear being tossed into the hallway. Everyone is trying to make their name but keep clean. TNA was my home but the WWE guys welcomed me in. But it’s more cutthroat in WWE and the guys walk around knowing they could be canned tomorrow. The guys knew who I was so they felt threatened and I could say the same being nervous. I was never near a McMahon’s long enough to get friendly.”
Alan Wojcik: “On the July 29th ECW you did a quick segment with Matt Hardy where he said,” I hear you’re quite the Wildcat.” Was there going to be an alliance between the two of you or did the creative team keep you in the dark?”
Chris Harris: “Matt came up with that on his own. I have no idea if that was to lead somewhere. Matt was open to the chance of working as a team. He threw the comment in there and to tell how ignorant the writers were I don’t think they caught the reference. The TNA fans totally got it and I had a good laugh. I wish it had gone somewhere because Matt & I became friends during my stay in the WWE.”
Alan Wojcik: “Before your release former ECW/WWE star Lance Storm had some disparaging remarks about you in his online column, Storm wrote, “Speaking of huge wastes, quite the debut for Braden Walker. I don’t know Chris Harris but anyone who shows up for their WWE debut in the worst shape of their career, deserves to be fired. Wellness policy aside, I don’t believe the treadmill is on the banned substance list!” Do you have any response to Lance Storm’s comment?”
Chris Harris: “First off I have no problems with Lance. I respect his opinion of the most part. As far as showing up in the shape I did, I’m not 25 anymore we all get older. It shouldn’t be an excuse but I didn’t think I was in horrible shape. When you are out of the ring as long as I was it wears on you. Being in ring shape and cardio shape are different. When you put on muscle you put it on all over. I wasn’t the biggest guy in WWE but I wasn’t the smallest. I came in at around 275. If Lance has a problem with it, I don’t think his career lasted all too long.”
Alan Wojcik: “Your last ECW match was against former OVW and Nashville wrestler KC James Curtis. Two days later (August 7th) WWE.com listed you as being released and the usual “best in your future endeavors” tagline. According to the “Words from Wildcat” column on your site (www.wildcatchrisharris.com) you said, “I wanted to send out a quick message to let everyone know that I am ok. Getting my release was the best thing that could have happened. If you could have seen the condition I was in every day you would understand. I now need to pick up the pieces, make myself better, and find my passion again. Thank you for the support and as soon as I can collect my thoughts you will hear from me again.” What led to your release, was it your call or did something happen that made WWE want to go in another direction?”
Chris Harris: “At the time my last match went down I had been on the roster six or eight months and I had enough. I began staying home with my girlfriend and then I was put on the road then attending TV and PPV’s. It was the most miserable time in my life and career. It could have been them not using me, me missing home or just wanting out and wishing to take the move there back. I know what I was going through. It was a dream job shot to work 14 years and sign that deal, yet I was so uncomfortable. By the time I got to that match people could see I was not the same person from eight months back. The writing was on the wall before that. You can mask it by smiling but the thick skin you have gets chipped away by the office. I didn’t want to be there. I mentioned it before my name; look and mindset were all taken away. I was a blank slate and they didn’t do anything with it. I had a talk with Dusty Rhodes one day and he asked “where did the Chris Harris I knew from TNA go?” I told him he’s not here and I don’t know where he went. Tuesday night after that match I talked to the writers and said I will try to make it work. But they could see my body language I was done. By Thursday I was gone. Most people who get their release go into a depression. When Johnny called me I said thanks for being honest with me. My girlfriend asked what happened and she saw me smile. She said that’s the first time I’ve seen a smile on my face in six months. That should give you some insight how things ended.”
Alan Wojcik: “There was a YouTube.com parody called “the Definitive Braden Walker 3 Disc DVD Set.” Do you have anything to say to the fans who decided to mock you after the release?”
Chris Harris: “I heard about it but never got around to seeing it. Between you and me, Braden Walker was a joke and if they can laugh at it, great it won’t hurt my feelings. Can I send $10 to a site and score my copy? There are fans that say I failed and that’s ok. The loyal fans out there know Chris Harris could have been a great fit. Let me give an example of things going right for someone, my friend Ron Killings. We signed around the same time and had traveled together. I am so happy at his success there. Look at the character R-Truth, looks an awful lot like TNA’s Ron “the Truth” Killings. They gave him I think six months of vignettes and all that time doing dark matches to fine tune the character. They went to his hometown to help establish the character. People cared about him after all those TV spots. Braden Walker had zero background. His debut was walking into Teddy Long’s office for his match with Armando. When you program the fans to care about you it works. No one cared who Braden Walker was. Thank god Braden Walker is put to rest, let’s drop the name please.”
Main Event: The Dirt Sheet
The Dirt Sheet do the Conan O’Brien/Clutch Cargo trick of interviewing mouths. Mark Henry growls, Atlas quotes Rapper’s Delight (cos he’s black) and Lena Yada talks like ah ayshian pewwson because it was a different time in the year er *reads* 2008. Atlas and Henry show up for real-real and Morrison & Miz immediately apologies and compliment his abs. They interview Matt instead (”wait, not Jeff? Really? How’d that happen?”) An incredibly loud fan can be heard begging Henry to hit them both with chairs.. Matt shows up and compliments them on their Conan O’Brien rip-off (hey Matt watches it too alright!) and calls them both Brokeback Mountain. It all breaks down and Morrison accidentally hits Henry so Mark & Matt team up to beat them both up and dramatically stare down as we go off the air.
Overall: Skippable in terms of action but nearly everything is setting up next week’s episode or Summerslam so it has that soap opera feel, especially with history like Striker & Grisham’s first night (Striker is still very heel-y but would improve). Oh also Braden Walker, who remains one of the biggest head-scratchers in wrestling history considering how good he was in TNA.
I’ve been Maffew, R.I.P. Tri.Moon the wonderful video-editing human being behind the Botchamania Smackdown intro, the WCW Desire video and the Vince McMahon Watches Gary Strydom GIF.