Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker.
Opening Match, Intercontinental Title: Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston.
Drew got fired and was stripped of the title, so Teddy Long set up a tournament to crown a new champion. Kofi won the tournament only to have deus ex McMahonica reinstate Drew and return the title to him. Can't say they haven't put a lot of effort into McIntyre awesome intro, no-nonsense character and interesting personality quirks. Still, Kofi is the more exciting wrestler. He quickly dumps McIntyre and hits him with the tope. Back in, McIntyre grounds the match for a bit while the announcers put over Kofi. Awesome visual as Drew goes for a splash only to have Kofi get his feet straight up into his mug. Drew catches him in a backbreaker for two, but Kofi slings him into the post. That's a nice heel move by Kofi not that it's "heelish" in the sense of somehow immoral, but in that it's a resourceful, intelligent move that babyfaces aren't usually allowed to have. Good is dumb, after all. Kofi hits the Boom Drop with McIntyre stretched across the corner. ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! McIntyre goes for Future Shock, but Kofi slips out and hits the SOS! ONE, TWO, THREE! Kofi regains his rightful title at 6:24. Rock solid match with Kofi showing a great aggressive streak that belies his happy-go-lucky gimmick. **3/4
After the match, McIntyre demands a reversal only to have Matt Hardy come out and give him the Twist of Fate.
In the back, CM Punk assures his flock, wolfpack murder, that Rey joining the SXS will be for the best.
Recap of Ted Dibiase asking R-Truth to be his Virgil. Truth responds with a Homey the Clown reference, which is almost as relevant as a Virgil reference.
Non-Title: Ted Dibiase (w/Virgil) vs. R-Truth.
Okay, so we're forgetting about Virgil's babyface period? I'm not complaining if that's the case. Believe me, I'm not. But here's what I wonder since the WWE owns WCW history: does Vincent exist? What about Curly Bill? Don't take Curly Bill away from me, WWE. I don't think I could handle that. Truth dominates until Virgil trips him up. Time-honored tradition there. Ted looks just like his dad did back in Mid-South only much more toned. Truth battles back and hits a wicked cool Osaka Cutter. The crowd thinks that it was an offensive move by Dibiase for a second until he sells it. Dibiase misses a swing, and Truth hits the Lie Detector for the somewhat surprising win at 7:47. I can see why they had Truth go over, but I thought they'd be a little more protective of Dibiase, considering that he looks to be on the verge of a big push. The match was okay, but Dibiase needs to develop a personality of his own. **1/2
In the back, Drew McIntyre demands that Teddy Long reverse the opening match result and fire Matt Hardy. When Teddy refuses, Drew trashes his office and considers destroying the picture of MLK Jr.. Instead, he decides he's more like Dr. King than Teddy is. Yeah, well, Teddy's more like Rob Roy.
Hair vs. Soul: CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio.
This starts awesome but runs right into a brick wall before returning to awesome and never looking back. Punk takes a pummeling but simply slips out from under Rey while Rey mounts him in the corner. Punk backdrops him over but misses a quebrada. Rey headscissors him right into the barricade. Back in, the most glorious moment so far this year Punk just SLINGS Rey facefirst into the barber chair. Punk is bleeding slightly, so they stop the match to patch him up because we don't want people to know there are consequences for violence. The crowd chants, "boring," which doesn't last long as Punk sees Rey recovering and explodes with a rage-filled flurry. YES! Punk gets two off an Eddy-ish slingshot senton and grounds things a bit with a triangle headscissors. Then, in a great moment, he pounds Rey with fistdrops while reciting the Straight-Edge pledge. YES! Rey avoids a charge and hits a Code Red for two. Striker talks about Punk's bravery in continuing the match, which Cole and Lawler jump all over because Punk would have his head shaved if he didn't continue. Rey hits a spiffy springboard crossbody for two. He slings Punk to the ropes and sets up for the 619, but Punk cuts him off. YES! WELCOME TO CHICAGO, MOTHERFUCKER! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Punk sets up for the Go2Sleep, but Rey counters to a huracanrana. Punk blocks *that,* though, and powerbombs Rey in the corner. YES! Bulldog gets two for Punk. A sick roundhouse kick gets two more. Punk charges into an elbow, allowing Rey to go for a quebrada, but Punk catches him in the Go2Sleep! YES! JUST FUCKING YES! Rey counters to an armdrag and hits the 619! Springboard splash?! NO! Punk avoids it. Man, Rey is going all out with these bumps. He went facefirst on that one too. Punk's hubris gets the better of him, though, as he casually lays back on Rey and gets crucified for the pin at 14:46. YES! I'm not sure what it is, but Rey seems to get hotter and super-motivated around this time of year. This is his best singles match since Chris Jericho, and it's for the same reason instead of running through tired spots and clichés like the rest of the roster, they twist and turn based on the audience's expectations. The ending even The pause in the middle didn't bother me so much, especially since Punk used it as an opportunity to unleash his righteous fury on Rey. ****1/4
After the match, the SXS attack Rey in hopes of preventing Punk from going through the humiliation. Kane, serving his one entertaining purpose, storms out and lays waste to the Society, allowing Rey to handcuff Punk to the ropes and shave his head. Oh, and in a nice touch, Punk is freaked out by his own image in a mirror whereas in the segment preceding the match, he was enamored with his image.
Just good storytelling all around here.
In the back, Chris Jericho thanks Big Show for inadvertently leading to the JeriMiz team.
Unified Tag Titles: The Hart Dynasty (w/Natalya) vs. Chris Jericho & The Miz.
No mash-up entrance music for the heels. That doesn't bode well for them. The Harts actually work much better for me as babyfaces. DHS actually busts out the second Electric Chair Drop of the PPV, Teddy being the first. Tyson slingshots into a nifty rolling leg clutch. The fans either don't care much or are burned out from the previous match. Probably a little of both. They slowly get into it, though. Smith destroys both guys and nearly gets the win with a powerslam. Miz trips him up, leading to a small package for a close two. Natalya returns the favor, leading to a running powerslam from DHS. That only gets two, so either he's not as good at it as his dad or people have gotten tougher. Miz tags in and hits Kobashi neckbreaker into a regular one. Cool-finish-in-theory-not-in-execution as Miz goes for the Sydal clothesline only to have Smith catch him and set up for the Hart Attack at 10:42. Fairly routine match. I like the Harts, but tag team wrestling is still circling the drain in the WWE (and no, Lance Hoyt and more Samoans don't help). **
Randy Orton vs. Edge.
Randy Orton as Rorschach the Sociopathic Superhero is pretty cool. They get off to a bad start as Orton takes over on Edge pretty quickly without them establishing what kind of heel Edge is going to be. I mean, I know he's a heel, but he's equally good at playing vicious heel and cowardly heel. How much we invest in Orton as an antihero is dependent on that, and it was never established. Or, if you want a simpler internet explanation "It sucks cuz it's slow. Where's Danielson?" Stuff happens for a while and then they slug it out. Orton blocks a spear and hits the rope-assisted DDT. Edge rolls to the floor and snaps Randy's throat on the top rope. He readies for the Spear, but Randy kicks him. Randy appears to reinjure his arm while signaling for the RKO. Well that sucks. To the floor, Edge goes for that Spear through the barricade, but Randy moves and lets him ram his head into the mat. How very Bugs Bunny. Both guys get counted out at 12:43. Ugh. This started slow, meandered, and stumbled over its own feet on the way downhill. Highly disappointing, considering this is one of the matches I was looking forward to. Apparently, Orton hurt himself at a house show, and this was booked to cover for that injury. I would have been happy for an Edge vs. Christian replacement match, though. *3/4
World Heavyweight Title: Jack Swagger vs. The Big Show.
Swagger's puny skill is no match for Show's well-earned girth. Show shrugs him off and hits him with the big chop. A giddy Michael Cole uses his "frying pan" simile. Swagger slips away from the chokeslam and runs. Finally, Swagger goes aggressive and clips Show's knee. A pair of running pump splashes gets two, but Show kicks him off through the ropes. Show has his workboots on tonight as he bowls over Swagger with a running shoulderblock. Show *never* runs. Show pushes him over the top to the floor, so Swagger grabs the belt and blasts him with it for the DQ at 5:04. This might have been acceptable had the previous match not screwed the fans out of a proper finish. It was a decent match until that too. **
After the match, Swagger tries to deliver more punishment, but Show chokeslams him and knocks him cold with a right cross.
Bigger WTF moment, why am I seeing commercials on PPV? The whole point of commercials sponsoring TV shows is that you're paying by watching them (seriously, there was a Supreme Court case and everything). Now there are commercials on PPV, so the audience is paying twice once with their time and again on their cable bills.
WWE Diva's Title: Eve Torres vs. Maryse.
Can't believe I'm saying this, but maybe this will turn things around. Typical Divas match until Maryse misses a roundhouse kick and hits the ringpost. Eve hits an SSSP for two. Cool counter as Maryse rolls out of a sunset flip and just boots Eve right in the face. A stacked cover gets two (and a big pop from the crowd). Eve thrust kicks her in the face like she's Haku or something and then goes for a rolling senton. E-V-E! Maryse gets her knees up to block and then cackles like she's wearing a coat made of Dalmatian fur. I think I recycled that one, but it's apropos. Maryse's maniacal laugh is Ortonesque. She signals for a DDT, but Eve reverses to a skullfuck for the win at 5:07. I kind of wish "creative" would challenge Divas like Maryse with something other than recycled dead-zone matches. I think she could do so much more. They seemed like they had something with a Miz/Maryse team, but it was scrapped for whatever reason. *1/2
WWE Heavyweight Title, "I Quit" Match: John Cena vs. Batista.
Batista gives Cena an opportunity to back out and say, "I Quit" before they even lock up. Hell, given some of the other finishes, I wouldn't be surprised. Cena knocks him to the floor but misses a chairshot. Batista boots him in the head ("No" from Cena) and tosses him into the post ("No" from Cena). Cena makes the comeback (duh) and goes for the AA. Instead, Batista pulls the ref in the way and kicks him in the shin. What is he a five-year-old girl? That leads to the Batista Bite, which Cena powers out of and counters to the STF. Batista passes out, though, so he can't quit. Cena dumps water on him to revive him, but Batista recovers and hits the Demon Bomb. Cena still refuses to quit, so Batista tears up the announce table in anticipation of a Demon Bomb. Cena counters to the Attitude Adjustment, but Batista slips out of that and powerbombs him through the far announce table! Awesome! Cena is slightly cut open over the eye, so they get him medical attention as they ask if he wants to quit. Of course he doesn't even though he's lost literally drops of blood. The 1988 Baltimore Athletic Commission is saying, "Really?" Again, showing kids that there are no consequences for violence is much worse than showing the violence. Have we learned nothing from the Transformers/G.I. Joe feature film debacle? Batista drags him all the way up to the second tier and threatens to powerbomb him over the portal, but Cena fights him off and knocks him to the floor. Batista refuses to quit and somehow, in all the chaos, gets the upper hand. He beats Cena with a chair all the way up to the platform. Batista spots a prop car there, so he starts it up and tries to vehicularly manslaughter Cena. Why is it that Cena's opponents become so maniacal that they actually become homicidal? More importantly, why would the driver leave the keys in the car? I'll assume Batista paid him off before cognitive dissonance sets in. Anyhoo, of course Cena is okay. He grabs Batista, pummels him, and gives him the AA on the hood. Batista refuses to give up, so Cena sets up for the AA off the top of the car. Batista the Pussy gives up rather than take the bump, but since Cena is in a vengeful mood, he gives Batista the AA through the platform. (20:32). Appropriately violent spots, but I wish they'd do a little something more creative than ECW's set-up-spot-rest formula with higher production values. Too much time preening, setting up big spots, and recovering to be the classic they were touting it as. ***
The 411: Punk vs. Rey is outstanding, and with the WWE releasing "Best of PPV" sets now, hopefully you can get it on one of those rather than sitting through the rest of the show. "Injuries happen" the disclaimer says, but with a talent roster as expansive as the WWE's, they'd be better off utilizing that "Card Subject to Change" caveat rather than muddling through piss-poor finishes and stolid efforts.