Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Mike Adamle, Taz, Michael Cole and Mick Foley.
Opening Match, Falls Count Anywhere: Jeff Hardy vs. Umaga.
Jeff charges right into a back elbow. Great call, Patton. He hits a quick Whisper in the Wind for two, but Umaga catches him with the Spinning Uranage (called a Black Hole Slam by JR). Jeff knocks Umaga to the floor and hits a pescado for two. They brawl up into the crowd where Umaga stops to play to the crowd. Jeff hits him with one of the set cones, which looks like the least effective weapon since the dildo in Miss Elizabeth's purse back in WCW. Actually, that would probably be a pretty effective weapon, but not the way they used it. Jeff (eventually) sprays Umaga with the fire extinguisher, and the brawl spills into the hallway. Jeff slides down the handrail on the stairs into a crossbody for two. FRED ASTAIRE PSYCHOLOGY~! They brawl to the outside where all the trucks and moving equipment is parked. Jeff tosses Umaga's head into the door of an 18-wheeler and gets two. They brawl over to another truck and Jeff climbs up to the top. Umaga follows, but Jeff kicks him into the equipment. Jeff follows him off the top with a Swanton. We can't actually see where they landed, but the cameraman gives them a second or two to get into position and then runs around the equipment to check them out. Oh, they landed on the concrete. Of course they did. It looked so convincing. Hey, look over there! Oh, look I fell on the concrete while your back was turned. Seriously. I did.. Jeff gets the pin at 9:17. This was an old-fashioned hardcore match like we saw from Al Snow and Hardcore Holly back in the late 1990s. The banister spot was cool, but I wish they wouldn't overproduce things with a bunch of contrived angles if it's obvious no one could survive the spot in the first place. I mean, it's not like Jeff was thrown off a building by Hulk Hogan, but it's the same idea. **1/4
Singapore Cane on a Pole: CM Punk vs. The Big Show vs. Chavo Guerrero (w/Bam Neeley) vs. Tommy Dreamer vs. John Morrison
There are canes hanging from each corner. Okay, I'm just going to say this: Tommy needs a hot chick at his side. He was so much cooler with Beulah. Adamle says that if he had a body like Morrison, he'd show it off too. Oh, work it, Michael! Make it juicy for us! Everyone goes up, but Show starts killing bitches early. Punk and Morrison team up to kick Show down. Tommy adds a DDT, and Chavo hits a frogsplash. All of the little guys grab canes and go after Show. Morrison and Punk clothesline Show over the top. Chavo and Punk brawl to the floor, and Chavo accidentally hits NFLer Shawn Merriman with the cane. CHARGER PSYCHOLOGY~! Punk catapults Chavo over the table and lets Merriman get a revenge shot. The Miz gets involved and squashed like a bug by the Big Show. Show picks up the steel steps, but Morrison clips his knee, busting Show open hardway. Dreamer tosses Morrison with a pump-handle Exploder and counters Punk's Go 2 Sleep to a Texas Cloverleaf. Oh, Show is pissed now. He destroys Bam Neeley and beats Miz and Morrison like scalded government mother-in-laws. Did I get that Oklahoma simile wrong? Show just grabs more Singapore Canes out of the spares that are at ringside. They look like giant breadsticks, but I'm guessing they don't taste as good. Punk finds out. So does Dreamer. Dreamer grabs a fresh cane, but Show takes it away from him and clubs him over the head. That's enough to earn Show the win with a boot to the chest at 9:25. There was enough action to keep everything interesting. If CM Punk is going to have any kind of future, though, it would be nice if he wasn't an also-ran that disappears into matches like this. Show looks like an unstoppable force, but I dread the inevitable Show vs. Kane match. **
Vince McMahon hypes his one-million dollar giveaway, or "McMahon's Million Dollar Mania." Sadly, Todd Grisham learns that WWE employees are not eligible. Ron Simmons provides the punchline.
First Blood: John Cena vs. John Bradshaw Layfield.
JBL unties a turnbuckle cover, so Cena rips his corner off, thus proving a theory I've held for a long time: Cena doesn't know how to tie. JBL tosses Cena to the floor and drops an elbow. They brawl some more, and Cena goes into the guardrail. No blood, though. JBL goes to the general vicinity of Cena's eye and beats him over the head with a microphone. Cena makes the miracle comeback and gives us his Fire Marshall Bill look. The Five-Knuckle Shuffle doesn't draw blood, and JBL blocks the FU. JBL shoves him into the barricade again. No blood. Cena blocks a DDT, and JBL falls on his ass. Cena drags his face across the steps. No blood. Back in, Cena grabs a chair, but JBL kicks his shin and tosses him into the exposed turnbuckle. JBL thinks he's won. No blood, though. Cena ducks the Clothesline From Hell and bulldogs JBL on the chair. JBL grabs a chain and punches Cena in the gut. Does it count if you piss blood? Cena ducks another swing and hits the FU. No blood. JBL boots Cena into the ropes, and JR notes that Cena's head is literally a sitting duck. That would explain the haircut. JBL retrieves a whip. FETISH PSYCHOLOGY~! Cena goes low, unties himself, grabs the chain, and chokes JBL out with the chain-assisted STFU until JBL coughs up blood (which happens surprisingly quickly, almost as if he'd bitten a capsule or something… hmm.) Cena wins at 14:19. First Blood matches are kind of hard to book effectively because the win is often anti-climactic. The ending was okay, but the brawling early on was weak. **1/4
In the back, Randy Orton finds Batista and says it's pretty cool that he and Batista can take out DX tonight. Orton brings up the upcoming draft and says they should get the band back together, this time as leaders. I could actually get into that, although my guess is Batista turns him down, and Orton forms a stable around himself, Ted Dibiase Jr., Cody Rhodes, and DH Smith. Then again, with the injury, that might be problematic.
"I Quit" Match: Beth Phoenix vs. Melina.
One of Melina's paparazzi falls on his ass. She should really take that as a compliment. Beth gets in her face, so Melina jumps on her with a front guillotine. Beth powers her up and gives her a backbreaker. Melina works in a Mutalock, but Beth powers to the ropes and pulls them both to the floor. Back in, Beth picks her up in a Canadian Backbreaker and then an armbar. Beth screams for her to give it up. It's just not the same unless they grab the house mic and walk around calling the other person "monkey penis." Melina wheelbarrow rolls Beth into the buckle. She posts Beth and kicks her arm in the ropes. Beth shoots her off, but Melina tilt-o-whirls into a Fujiwara Armbar. Spiffy. That segues to a cross armlock and then a Triangle Choke (or Coochieplata). Beth powers out and gives her a wheelbarrow facebuster. She pulls her back into a trapped double chickenwing and then bends Melina's head back to meet her own feet. Sick. Melina has to quit at 9:07. Hey, don't look now, but MELINA IS GOOD! So was this match, even if the fans didn't care. **1/4
In the back, John Cena bonds with Mickie James, but Mike Adamle comes out of the bathroom after dropping the kids off at the pool and tries to get Cena and Mickie to go down to Tijuana with him and Gemini of American Gladiators fame. I don't know what's more disturbing, that Adamle seemed to be asking Cena for a little "around the world" action or that he seemed more interested in Cena than Mickie. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Cena passes but offers to bring Mickie back to his hotel room for a little Mike Tyson's Punchout.
Stretcher Match: Batista vs. Shawn Michaels.
See, now *here's* a good place for an "I Quit" match. Batista no-sells everything from Shawn and clotheslines him onto one of the stretchers. Shawn shoves Batista into the post and hits an enzuigiri. Shawn shoves the stretcher into him, but Batista picks him up for the Demonbomb. Shawn counters to a front guillotine. The front guillotine is the new crossface. Batista fades, but Shawn can't get him over the finish line. Batista gives him a spinebuster on the edge of the apron. YEOWWWCH! Back in, Shawn avoids a charge and posts Batista. That sets up the Picture-Perfect Elbow, but he hurts his own back on the landing. He sets up for Sweet Chin Music, but Batista is all, "Bitch please," and rips his head off with a clothesline. Batista sets up for a Demonbomb from the ring to the floor, but Shawn slips off his shoulder and superkicks him through the ropes. Batista lands on the stretcher, so Shawn tries to pull him up the ramp. Batista grabs the ring apron and rolls off. Shawn rams the stretcher into him, but Batista catches it and see-saws it into Shawn's chin. Back in, Batista eyes Shawn and hits the SPEAR! DEMONBOMB! He puts Shawn on the stretcher, but Chris Jericho runs out and gives Shawn a pep talk. Batista tosses Shawn back in, and Shawn does the epic climb to his feet and hits a sad Sweet Chin Music attempt that barely grazes Batista's chest. Batista yanks him up, tells him that he doesn't love him and he's not sorry, and kills him dead with a Demonbomb. Shawn's out, so Batista pushes the stretcher up the aisle. Jericho returns and blocks the path, telling Shawn to get up. Shawn falls off the stretcher, so Batista goes back, gets the steel steps, and spinebusters Shawn on them as an exclamation point. That's enough for the win at 16:54. I've seen a lot of people complain that there were no babyfaces or heels, but these are the same people that hate when they do "good guys vs. bad guys." Can't I just like both even if they don't like each other? The match wasn't a MOTYC or anything, but if you look at it in the context of the storyline that has run since WrestleMania, it's a very good and fitting piece of the puzzle. Michaels puts Flair out of his misery. Batista blames Shawn for being selfish/Shawn claims Batista is jealous. Jericho stirs things up. Shawn doesn't think he can defeat Batista cleanly, so he fakes an injury. Jericho calls him on it. Batista gets really, really mad. Batista hurts Shawn, thus avenging Flair (who didn't really ask for it) and fulfilling his promise to injure Shawn for being a phony. Logically, it sets up Jericho coming after Batista for revenge, but it doesn't look like that'll happen. ***
WWE Heavyweight Title: Triple H vs. Randy Orton.
Orton gets sent into the steps right away and clutches his shoulder as if nothing will ever hurt his shoulder this much ever again… ever. But Randall would be wrong. Hunter drags him back in and tosses him into the post. They fight over to the announce table where Hunter pummels Randy's face. Hunter goes for the Pedigree, but Randy suddenly pops up for the RKO. Hunter shoves him to the floor, but Randy yanks him down and delivers the table-assisted DDT. Hunter makes it up at nine, though. Randy rips up the protective mats and goes for the RKO on the floor, but Hunter shoves him into the post. That gets four, but Randy picks up the steps and slams them into Hunter's face. That won't be enough, so Randy grabs and extension cord and chokes Hunter down. Orton goes for the RKO, but Hunter tosses him over the top. Orton breaks his collarbone on the fall and, even though he showed no signs of getting up, Hunter picks him up and hits him with the sledgehammer for the win at 13:13. The final replay shows Orton catching his foot on the rope and spinning out of control on the landing. It's unfortunate because Randy had really come into his own as a heel, but his career has always been plagued by injuries. The match was really just getting started when Randy got injured. **
Vacant World Heavyweight Title, Tables, Ladders & Chairs: Edge vs. The Undertaker.
If Taker loses, he's gone from the WWE. Taker boots Edge in the face and hits the Old School Ropewalk Forearm early. Taker sets up a stack of tables outside the ring, but since no one can even get on top of those unless they're tipped off a ladder from the ring, I know this is just for later use. Edge knocks Taker down and goes up a ladder. Taker yanks him down and sets up a couple of ladder on the corners. Why? So when he goes up, he can shove Edge off into one of them, and Edge can bounce off and shove the Taker off into the other. CONTRIVED PSYCHOLOGY~! To the outside, Taker tries his apron legdrop, but Edge blocks with a chair and clips Taker's knee. Taker shrugs it off and goes for the Last Ride on a ladder, but Edge goes low. Edge hits a few chairshots and splashes Taker through a table. Edge goes up but has to come back down and spear the Undertaker because Taker was recovering too quickly. Edge gets a big ladder and waffles the Undertaker with a chairshot. He lifts the chair over his head for the coup de grace, but Undertaker goes low. Edge heads to the apron to recover, so Taker chokeslams him on the ladder stretched between the apron and the crowd barrier. Taker goes up, but Hawkins & Ryder run in and pull him down. They set him up on a table and put another table over him. Why? Who the hell knows because he just tips over the table and chokeslams them both through tables on the outside. All of this allows Edge to recover and spear Taker off the apron. Edge resets the tables the way Hawkins and Ryder had them. Oh, and he turns the ladder to face them. Why? Because he needs them to be that way so when he goes up, Undertaker can catch him and give him the Last Ride through the stack of tables. I'd say that would normally be the finish, but there are a stack of tables on the outside that still haven't been used, so Chavo Guerrero and Bam Neeley run in. Taker fends them off, though. The ladder is directly under the belt, which won't work at all, so he pulls it over toward the edge of the ring near the stack of tables. Why? So that Edge can recover and tip over the ladder, sending Taker through the stack of tables on the outside. Okay. That's all the tables. Edge can go up and get the title now. And that's just what he does at 23:33. I've heard some people call this a Match of the Year Candidate, but with such laughably contrived spots, it doesn't even come close. All ladder matches have a bit of contrivance, but it isn't always made so obvious, and usually it's only noticeable on multiple viewings. With this, I saw them setting up things a mile away and doing things that only made sense because they had to arrange everything for later bumps that they were going to take. It's a lot like that moment in Die Hard With a Vengeance where Bruce Willis is trying to solve the bad guy's riddle, and the random truck driver in the tunnel just happens to know the answer because his daughter was doing a project on that very subject. HOW FUCKING CONVENIENT! Anyway, enough with the negatives. Taker held his own in the bumping department. The spots that they did set up were pretty good, and there was nothing really wrong with the match outside of the "tells." There just wasn't a moment where I believed anything I was seeing was real. That makes it hard to go above ***.
La Familia celebrates the title win. Oh my God! Vickie Guerrero can walk! And Bam Neeley can read!
Undertaker gets a standing ovation as he walks out of the arena for the very last time ever, although I should point out that it was about nine years ago that Vince McMahon lost a stipulation that said he would be banned from TV forever.
The 411: Nothing bad outside of being reminded how horribly the World Title situation was handled. A lot of it was disappointing, though. Shawn vs. Batista might have reached Match of the Year heights with the right stipulations (General Rule: Stretcher Matches suck). Orton's injury is really unfortunate because he was such a solid heel presence who was legitimately unlikable.
Thumbs in the middle here, but you're better off waiting for the DVD.