Ring Crew Reviews: Tape Digging Volume 7
Posted by Jack Bramma on 04.21.2014
Digging through boxes of old tapes reveals DDP getting a shot against Sting for the WCW strap, Batista and Undertaker with No Disqualifications for the World Heavyweight Championship, and Tommy Dreamer winning the (WW)ECW belt for the last time.
• I've done a few of these and always find it interesting to take a dive into old comp tapes that I have laying around. In case you do too, here are the previous versions
• Ric Flair & Arn Anderson vs. Hulk Hogan & Sting.WCW Nitro 12/11/1995. We're in Charlotte tonight, FLAIR COUNTRY! WCW was in the middle of an elaborate talent-sharing, interpromotional period with NJPW which would be the bulk of the Starrcade card that year. Coming out of WW3, Savage was champ but nursing a shoot arm injury even though Hogan had burned an Observer newsletter in a barrel fire and shot on Meltzer to try and convince the world he wasn't... or something. Hogan still had a protected loss, much like at RR92, and the crowd booed him out of the building when he tried to upstage Macho at the end of the show. Sting had beat Flair “for the last time ever.” The next night on Nitro, Giant pancaked Macho into oblivion leaving the world title picture and the world champ's health in doubt. Luger, Sting, Flair, Macho, Giant and the entire LWO stable would circle like sharks around the strap for the next few weeks. Brain and Bischoff hype a Giant-Macho title match for next week.
• Bischoff puts over how Nitro is the “only live wrestling show every week.” Sting enters alone to the awful “A Man Called Sting” house theme. Hogan lags behind AGHAST at Sting coming out ahead of him due to some friction surrounding Hogan saving Sting and Luger from a Horseman beatdown that may not have been necessary. Sting and Luger also had an awesome pseudo tag-team partnership going where Sting was face and Luger, while heel, was pretending to be face just for Sting's benefit.
• Arn and Sting to start. As Arn works a headlock, Brain wants to weave the storylines: “Hogan doesn't think he can trust Sting. Sting is sure he can't trust Hogan. Hogan knows Sting is a friend of Luger's who is managed by Jimmy Hart, who is a friend of the Taskmaster. YOU SEE?! IT ALL INTERTWINES! HOGAN DOESN'T HAVE A FRIEND!” Sting sends off Arn and tries a biel but Arn blocks for a SWEET fireman's carry takeover. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WHAT'S CAUSING ALL THIS?! Arn goes back to the headlock and spins behind for the haymaker to the back of the head. YEAHHHH! ARNARNARNARNARNARNARN! OK, it's just me chanting. Sting comes back with a press slam to drown out the HOGANSUX chants. Arn flops and feeds Hogan laying him out as well. Hogan wants in and Arn calls a TO to tag in RIC FLAIR! Crowd loves that and hates Hogan. Flair eats a shoulderblock and almost bumps down to the floor. Hogan no sells some chops and goes to work. Backdrop and a Hogan-line puts Flair down. Flair Flip right into Sting's Mongolian chop and Flair Flops to the floor. Arn tackles Hogan from behind but Hogan no sells to choke him into the corner for another Hogan-line. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Back in, Flair begs off only to give Hogan the BLATANTTHUMBTOTHEEYE! Flair with some closed fists and Arn comes back in to work the arm. Quick tags and Hogan ducks under for a Hogan-line. Sting back in with a press slam. Flair rolls off a biel and then gets dropkicked down.
• Flair cuts him off with a headlock TO but Sting counters so they go to the Flair-Steamboat bridge. Sting with the backslide for 1, 2, 2 ½. Flair begs off and Sting mounts for the punches. Flair brings him out for the atomic drop. Arn back in but Sting up to slam him off the top and rolls him over for the Deathlock. Flair in to break it up and Arn helps out with a DDT to get the heels back in control. Crowd LOVES the Horsemen and hates Hogan and just doesn't prefer Sting. BUT WAIT! JIMMY HART HAS COME OUT! He distracts the ref so Luger can pull Hogan to the floor to give him the business. Luger posts him and gets him up for the RACK! Luger racks him and then hilariously runs away while the heels work over Sting. See, Luger is more interested in beating up Hogan than helping his boy Sting, even though his beating up Hogan costs Sting a greater beating. I LOVE IT! Arn and Flair put a clinic on Sting's knee while Hogan is down on the outside. Sting reaches for the tag but no Hogan. Flair with another chop block. Mongo: “THEY KNOW HOW TO BEAT A MAN DOWN, DON'T THEY HEENAN?!” Arn wraps Sting's leg across the apron. F4 time TO A POP! Sting fights and Hulks up. He pulls Flair all the way back to the face corner so he can tag in Hogan. THE REF DIDN'T SEE IT! OH NO! ILLEGAL SWITCH WITH ARN IN! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Sting tries to fight through the pain and slams Flair off the top with 1 leg. Cover gets 1, 2, no. Sting limps away but Flair pulls him down by the leg. Arn in but Sting cuts him off with a face smash. Tag to Hogan but the crowd isn't thrilled. SPINEBUSTER! WOOOOOOOOO! NO SELL! FUCKER! Hogan with a pair of big boots. Stinger Splash on Flair and Nuclear Leg Drop on Arn for 1, 2, 3 at 13:24.
• Post-match, Hogan and Sting pose to a “mixed reaction” and Pillman is in to pounce on Sting's bad knee. The Horsemen beatdown is on. Flair tackles Hogan. Luger is back out and he holds off Pillman from attacking Sting. Instead, he guides Pillman over to Hogan. Sting recovers but he's all NO MAN LEFT BEHIND and tries to brawl with the Horsemen. Lex has no beef with them, only Hogan so he doesn't get involved. MACH HAS COME OUT! Sting lays him out, so Macho smacks him. IT'S THE BABYFACE STANDOFF! HOGANSUXHOGANSUXHOGANSUX!
• Geno is in the ring and wants the scoop. He says he doesn't understand Sting and how he's trying to be friends with both Hogan and Luger and it just isn't working. Hogan steals the stick to chastise Sting. Man, they are going for a Hogan-Andre vibe with Hogan as Hogan, Sting as Andre, and Luger as Brain and the crowd is just burying Hogan. Macho pipes in to say that he hates Luger, but he wants to know what Sting's deal is. Sting says he got caught in the heat of battle and he wishes he could take back swinging at Macho. Hogan: “STING JUST SAVED ME IN HERE, BROTHER!” Macho: “I'M THE MASTER OF DISASTER... at overreacting. I know that; it's a fault. I say we all take a chill pill.”
• Crazy entertaining match with a hot crowd. The layout was beautiful but for the wrong town. After Hogan finished squashing Flair for an entire year and beat Vader so many times he left the promotion and the DOD was finished, WCW had a very intriguing main event in the second half of 1995 when it stuck to face-face. All of the crossed battle lines with Sting-Hogan-Macho-Luger led to some effective backstabbing and second-guessing. But there were no heels booked worth a shit and thus little drama in the promotion as evidenced by Hogan and Macho beating the entire slate of main event heels at Uncensored 96. ***1/4
• WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Sting (c).WCW Nitro 03/23/98. Hectic time at WCW. Sting, despite beating Hogan in a match for all the marbles at Superbrawl, was kneecapped by a couple of shitty screwjobs and then a midcard-ish feud with Hall months past expiration date. Hogan had catapulted past Sting into a feud with Macho over the n.W.o that got top billing, not to mention it involved Macho turning on Sting thus leaving the world champ in limbo. Meanwhile, DDP had won the US strap in a classic triple threat feud over Raven and Benoit, though Raven had just attacked him on MTV and stolen the belt. WWE was steadily gaining momentum heading into WM XIV headlined by Austin, HBK, and Iron Mike. In the coming weeks, the Fed would pole vault WCW in the ratings and Nash would neuter Sting further in a few free TV title matches. Just to give perspective, this is the first hour main event, while Piper’s return and match against Macho is the main angle, as is Giant/Nash & Hogan.
• DDP has the bruised up ribs that I’m sure he’s still nursing today. Crowd chanting for DDP at the bell. Lockup goes nowhere and they tumble out of the ring in a favorite spot of DDP’s that always works. He and Goldberg did the same thing at HH. When they hit the floor, they awesomely continue jockeying for position. Nick forces a break and wants them back in the ring. Back in, Sting goes to the arm only for DDP to counter to shoulder surges. Sting with a go behind into a school boy for only 1. Sting clips the knee. SCORPION DEATHLOCK! NO! DDP boots him off only for Sting to trip him again. DEATHLOCK AGAIN! DDP GETS THE ROPES! OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Niiiiiiice. DDP bails into the corner and sells the legs. Another lockup and DDP goes to the headlock. Sting sends him off as they counter hiptosses. DDP with a swinging neckbreaker. DIAMONDCUTTER! NO! Sting shoves him off. Crowd is feeling it. Yet another lock up and DDP refuses a clean break and instead pounds away in the corner. SPINNING PILEDRIVER! 1, 2, 2 ½. DDP grabs a chinlock to slow things down. DDPDDPDDPDDPDDPDDPDDP! Page drops down and drive the legs into the mat for leverage. Chinlock goes on a bit too long so Sting elbows free but runs into a knee to the breadbasket. DDP mounts in the corner for punches but Sting counters out at 8 and drops DDP with a flapjack into the turnbuckle. DDP tries to duck a shot but Sting clubs him back down. Cover gets 1, 2, no. Sting applies a chinlock as both guys are pacing themselves. Sting lays down on the resthold as well. Hot start but 2 minutes of the match’s 7 minutes have legitimately been chinlocks. Holy shit, make that 3 of 8 minutes. DDP tries to fire up but Sting takes him back down with a burrito. DDP counters a whip and ducks behind. Sting tries to elbow free but Sting eats a belly to belly suplex. DDP drapes an arm for 1, 2, kickout. Tony: “THAT WILL TAKE THE BREATHE OUT OF ANNOUNCERS, TOO!” Sting counters out of another piledriver attempt with a backdrop. They slug it out and Sting wins that one with a few haymakers. Sting hits the facebuster and another and a third. Sting heads up top for a splash but DDP gets the knees up. Crowd ate that up. Double KO spot. Both pull themselves to their feet and DDP seizes the advantage with a flurry in the corner. He wants the Cutter but Sting blocks grabbing the ropes. COUNTER TO THE SCORPION DEATHDROP! 1, 2, 3 to retain at 10:57.
• Awesome finish that was surprisingly but satisfyingly out of nowhere. I just wasn’t expecting that counter or the DDT to put away DDP. Damn good match with the tried and true structure of flash finisher attempts at the beginning leading to back and forth action, only to end after one guy outlasted the other and had one more counter and one more big move down the stretch. If this match were today, both guys would kick out of each other’s finishers leading to one or the other winning with a move off the second rope or something. My only mild complaint is two chinlocks were a 1/3 out of the match. ***1/2
• Extreme Rules: The New Breed vs. The ECW Originals. ECW 04/03/2007. This is a return match from WM23 where the Originals went over. After a rather lackluster affair at Mania, these two teams would get one more chance to show their stuff, this time on free TV. The New Breed is Marcus Cor Von (Monty Brown), Kevin Thorn, Matt Striker, and Elijah Burke. The Originals are Sandman, Dreamer, Sabu, and RVD.
• We're JIP to Sabu springboarding into a swinging DDT on Striker. Cover gets 1, 2, no. Sabu tries the Camel Clutch but Thorn is in and it's a donnybrook as the corners empty into the ring. RVD brings in the weapons and Sabu gets the trash can and is ready to go. Thorn eats a flying trash can lid. Dreamer waffles Burke and Striker and the Originals clear the ring. Sandman telegraphs a plancha onto Striker. Sabu hits the double jump plancha on Cor Von. Thorn slams Sabu on the floor as Striker gets sent into a trash can in the corner by Dreamer. Cor Von steals a page from Raven's book and drops Dreamer on the steel chair with a toe hold. Sandman brings a table in as Thorn sends RVD into the stairs. It's basically Texas Tornado at this point. The New Breed pounds own everyone with chairs and trash cans. Burke holds court with a trash can lid while everyone mugs Dreamer. NEWBREEDSUXNEWBREEDSUX! Burke covers Dreamer for 1, 2, 2 ½. The Originals can't get back in the ring but Dreamer comes back with a DDT/neckbreaker combo. RVD and Sabu get going in the ring for Air Sabu. Spinkick for Cor Von. RVD puts a chair on Striker for the combo Rolling Thunder and slingshot leg drop from Sabu.
• They hit it and cover gets 1, 2, broken up. Cor Von counters another Air Sabu with a Last Ride as everything is coming fast and furious. Sandman breaks up the corner with the cane and promptly gets tackled by Burke. They both whiff on weapon shots until Burke takes him down with the trash can. Dreamer blindsides him with the Stop Sign to even the score. Dreamer puts Burke in the Tree of Woe for a sloth-like IED. Striker jumps Dreamer only to eat Low Down on a trash can. Dreamer poses and Cor Von waffles him with a chair. Sandman takes over with the cane on Cor Von only to eat a short arm clothesline. Another table in as Cor Von Blue Thunder Bombs Dreamer... ON A CHAIR! Sandman blasts him with a cane and sets a table up in the corner. Marcus cuts him off for the POUNCE! THE SERENGETTTTTTTTI! Sabu and RVD double team him down again with a chair. Thorn trashes both with a chair and some clotheslines. RVD slides out of a Razor's Edge and boots Thorn away. He heads up top but Ariel crotches him. There's worse predicaments. BUT WAIT! Sabu with a Sabu chairshot to come back. Sabu points to the rafters and sets up ANOTHER table. RVD and Sabu leap off for the patented double guillotine leg drops through the table on Thorn. Striker comes barreling in and gets dumped out. Burke blindsides Sabu with a BRUTAL ELIJAH EXPRESS THROUGH A TABLE! 1, 2, 3 FOR THE NEW BREED AT 8:20!
• Glorious chaos. This is about a zillion times better than the underwhelming Mania match. It's just like a MITB match with mostly two guys at a time in the ring and everyone else on the floor selling. This has an upgraded story with each faction briefly being king of the hill, isolating one member of the opposing team and keeping the others at bay. But that's fairly short-lived with just high spots and gimmick galore to make the time fly by. Blink and you'll miss someone getting pancaked through a table with a chair. ***3/4
• No Disqualification Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Batista vs. The Undertaker (c).WWE Smackdown 04/25/2008. Coming off WM XXIV, HBK had defeated Flair and while everyone felt Flair's retirement, Batista took it personally since he viewed Flair as his mentor in Evolution. He and HBK didn't see quite eye to eye, so they were booked for a singles match coming up at Backlash in 2 days. UT is fresh off extending his streak and winning the WHW strap from Edge. Edge gets his rematch clause cashed in Sunday as well. Batista and UT, of course, had a bit of history themselves at Mania XXIII, HITC, last man standing, etc. all through 2007. Vickie Guerrero booked this match to soften up either to make the path to regaining the strap that much easier for Edge.
• Face-face but with UT being the clear fan favorite. UT plows through Batista with a shoulderblock to start. They give it another go and Batista wins with the shoulderblock this time. Batista shoots for a single and UT easily sidesteps into an arm wringer. Batista drives into the corner but doesn't give a clean break, so he goes to UT's ribs. He follows up with a Ho Train. UT goes to the strikes to come back and shoulder surges. Short-arm clothesline and a leg drop gets 1, only 1 for UT. UT with a headbutt but Batista no sells a whip to bust out with a SPEAR. He tries a cover. NO! HELL'S GATE! Batista fights it off and bails out to regroup. Slick. We take a break and are back to Batista getting whipped into the stairs via the injured shoulder. UT with a few Batista kicks and the apron leg drop. Batista nicely sells it by falling to the floor. Back in, UT covers for 1, 2, kickout. UT wants Old School but Batista counters by crotching him up top. UT still fights him off and gets the boot up in the corner. Old School time TOTHEINJUREDSHOULDER! Batista no sells fuckin' Old School for a Spinebuster. Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. He wants the DemonBomb but UT backdrops out. UT wants the ChokeSlam. Batista overpowers for a Bulldog powerslam. 1, 2, no. Batista wants another Spear but UT boots him away. ChokeSlam. Cole: “REST IN PEACE, BATISTA!” 1, 2, 2.7. Even UT is a bit miffed at that but he still slashes the throat for the Tombstone. Batista no sells the taunt for another SPEAR. 1, 2, 2.999. Batista mounts in the corner but UT counters out for Last Ride. 1, 2, 2.99. UT has had it with the pleasantries and brings in the stairs. He wants a TOMBSTONE ON THE STAIRS! NO! SPINEBUSTER ON THE STAIRS! DOUBLE KO! Batista drags himself over to UT and rather than cover, goes for the DEMONBOMB! BUT WAIT! I DON'T BELIEVE IT! IT'S SHAWN MICHAELS! SWEET CHIN MUSIC ON BATISTA! UT finally comes to and Tombstones Batista. RIP for Batista at 10:10.
• Like a lot of TV matches, the commercial break is right through the heat and it undercuts some of the match's momentum. Ordinarily, it might be a gift to take a break through a few Orton and BrockLocks, but these two hosses worked harder against each other, not easier. When we come back from break, they are flush in the middle of countering signature moves and no-selling semi finishers and kicking out of legit finishers and well, it's just missing a build. It's like Rey-Angle-Orton at WM 2006 in that it's front loads everything without earning the false finishes entirely. ***1/2
• Triple Threat Hardcore Match for the WWECW Championship: Jack Swagger vs. Tommy Dreamer vs. Christian (c).WWE Extreme Rules 2009. Matthews and Striker on commentary. Pre-match, Christian is in the back with Shane Helms. Christian talks about the elephant in the room: how this may be Dreamer's swan song. Christian says he's not sure whether he can live with himself and choose between being champ or having his friend Tommy stick around. He's thought long and hard about it and.... he sure will miss his good friend, Tommy. Dreamer pats his friend on the back from behind to lay his claim to the strap. Real American AMERICAN interrupts to get ignored and walked out on by both Dreamer and Christian.
• Striker brings up how triple threats aren't kind to the champ including the most recent Cena victory over then-champ Edge and Showster at WM 25. Good stuff. EC-DUB chant at the bell. Swagger wants Christian and Dreamer to go at it but they balk and Dreamer chases him around the ring while Striker quotes the Book of Exodus. Swagger cuts off Dreamer at the pass. Christian with a few shots to the throat but Swagger cuts him off with the Greco-Roman TD. Swagger dumps him out and Northern Lights suplexes Dreamer. TROLL YELL TIME! Dreamer bails out to bring in the Singacore Cane plunder. Christian has a trash can lid and they move in for the kill on Swagger with weapons shots. A few shots to his gut and Dreamer uses the cane to choke Swagger into a Russian LS. Cover gets nothing as Christian breaks it up. Dreamer blows the spot forgetting to feed in so Christian waffles him some more. Dreamer goes to the breadbasket and uses the cane for a Gargoyle suplex. Christian bails out to regroup. Swagger trashes Dreamer into the turnbuckle and boots away. Swagger gets the trash can lid but Dreamer dumps him out. Dreamer gets the trash can for a trash-can aided senton off the apron. Nifty but fairly light. Dreamer takes out Swagger with a cane flying clothesline, not to be confused with a Kane flying clothesline.
• Dreamer puts Swagger in the Tree of Woe and preps the trash can for the IED but Christian cuts him off to hit it instead. Christian takes out Dreamer again for 1, only 1. Dreamer wants a suplex but Christian knocks him to the floor. Swagger takes over with the cane now. Cover gets 1, 2, only 2 on Christian. Belly to belly suplex gets another nearfall. Gutbuster and a press slam flapjack gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Swagger is building momentum but still can't get a pinfall. He unwraps the turnbuckle. But Dreamer waffles him and Christian takes him out with the falling reverse DDT. Dreamer back in with more plunder on Christian. Slam on the trash can but Dreamer wipes out on an elbow attempt. Crowd chants for tables as Christian goes for the double jump plancha but Swagger cuts him off with a TRASH CAN SHOT! That was cool. Swagger and Dreamer go mano-y-mano littering the ring with weapons. They come storming out but Dreamer goes to the ribs again with the cane waffle. Swagger blocks another with a belly to belly suplex again. Swagger piles up a few trash cans in the middle of the ring. Swagger preps a superplex on Dreamer but Christian joins for the powerbomb/superplex Tower of Doom on the trash cans. Crowd chants briefly for one more time but no dice. Christian tries covering both but both for 2 counts. Christian goes hunting and comes up with a crutch. He flies off but Swagger counters. They trade finisher counters with Swagger dropping him on the turnbuckle. Swagger Bomb coming but Dreamer waffles him again. Christian wipes out and Dreamer hits the DDT. Cover gets 1, 2, 3 on Swagger to crown a new ECW champ at 9:38.
• I remember really liking this and completely buying into the moment for Dreamer. It's still a nice moment, but the match is fairly blasé even if the guys are working hard. It's just 10 minutes of tame weapon shots and usual triple threat cutoffs with a sudden DDT ending that comes off a bit flat in terms of build. The senton with the trashcan was cool as was the Tower of Doom, but it's too rushed to fully develop and too repetitive. **3/4
• Edge vs. John Morrison.WWE Smackdown 06/19/2009. JR puts over how Edge is reeling since losing the strap to Jeff Hardy in a ladder match at EE only to have Punk cash in and leave the PPV with it. Edge has got the stick and he's pissed. He can't believe that Hardy is taking on Punk at The Bash and Edge has been robbed of his rematch and that whole TRIPLE THREAT ON MODAY DIDN'T COUNT, EDGEHEADS! Edge says that Morrison isn't worthy of breathing the same air as him. Morrison interrupts. Edge: “LOOK WHAT WE HAVE HERE! ANOTHER KID THAT WANTS TO BE ME!” Morrison pipes in to talk about how he pities Edge because he FF's through him on his DVR. Morrison: “I want my rematch, eh? Tim Horton's is all out of doughnuts, eh? I talk with a sorry Canadian accent, eh? I couldn't get tickets, eh?” Moving on.
• They lock up and we get a clean break in the corner. Shoving match ensues and Morrison wins that. JR: “Morrison showing that HE WILL NOT BE INTIMIDATED!” JR and Grisham also putting over Edge big time as a future HOFer and a guy who has won every title WWE has to offer. Edge with a go-behind but Morrison goes to the arm. Edge grabs the ropes and then sneers at Morrison wonderfully like he can't believe this... TAG WRESTLER would have the gall to try and be a SINGLES COMPETITOR! THE NERVE! Edge tries the arm but Morrison fireman's carries him over into an armbar. Edge tries to counter out but Morrison stays on it. Edge finally gets out by going to the hair and driving Morrison into the corner. Closed fist gets Morrison down. Edge tries a charge but Morrison slides out of the way and goes back to the arm. Nice. Edge sends him off and lands a knee to the breadbasket. Crowd boos him as Edge boots Morrison again to substantial heat. Edge goes to work as Grisham and JR talk up Morrison's gym regimen. Edge snaps him back from the apron by going to the hair again. Edge takes his sweet time kicking Morrison around and the heat is just pouring in. Hard whip and Edge goes to the hair for a fourth time and then chokes Morrison in the ropes with a crossbody. Cover gets 1, 2, only 2. Morrison gets the boot up in the corner and lands a dropkick for 1, 2, no. Morrison heads up top but Edge cuts him off and BRUTALLY trashes him down on the ropes and Morrison eats it from the ropes to the floor without touching the apron. YEAHHHHHHH!
• We take a break and are back to Edge working a waistlock. At this stage, Edge has mastered the art of less is more as he's only using stomps and sneers and taunts but the crowd fucking HATES him. JR wants JoMo to get the “mojo rising” which sounds like his garage band. Morrison with a leg lariat to come back but the bruised ribs won't allow him to capitalize. Another desperation backbreaker but Morrison is still too out of it. Edge tries a dropkick but no dice. Morrison with seated SHINING WIZARD! ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT'IM! Edge is reeling but still cuts off Morrison with a big boot. Edge heads up top but Morrison dumps him out with a Pele. Morrison reverse baseball slides into an anti-Newtonian rana that sends Edge into the stairs(!). Back in, cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. JoMo with a back elbow but whiffs on a gamengiri. Edge catches him and rolls him over into a Sharpshooter. These two are throwing it out there. Morrison fights back and dives for the ropes. Morrison slides UNDER Edge for a sunset roll up for 1, 2, 2.99. Edge tries a boot but Morrison counters to Russian LS. He wants Starship Pain but Edge crotches him and hooks him in the Tree of Woe. Edge wants the Harpoon but Morrison sits up and flips over into an O'Connor Roll for 1, 2, 2.9999999! EDGE BOOTS HIM OFF INTO THE POST! NICE! Edge fires up for the Spear but Morrison flips over him and lands the Gamengiri. 1, 2, 2.9999. Morrison wants Moonlight Drive but Edge counters to Edge-o-cutioner. 1, 2, nearfall. WHATAMATCHUP! Edge sends Morrison off but he counters through the tilt-a-whirl into a DDT! 1, 2, NO! Morrison tries Starship Pain again but lands on his feet as Edge rolls under. SPEARSPEARSPEAR! 1, 2, 3 to take it clean for Edge at 13:27.
• Borderline classic that should be one of the leading exhibits that Edge was a great worker and ring general well after his body broke down. He had a Stone Cold-like career, not in terms of popularity or draw or success, but in terms of evolving ring style to accommodate for debilitating injuries. Whereas Stone Cold went from accomplished technician and bumping machine to one of the best garbage brawlers of a generation, Edge went from a premiere hardcore, high spot guy to a deliberate worker based on timing and character. JoMo held up his end of the business but was smartly kept to brief comebacks where his high-impact arsenal plays better than as a sequence or a go-home. ****
• No Holds Barred: Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H.WWE Wrestlemania XXIX. Trips' career is on the line and he has HBK in his corner. This is the follow-up to Trips tapping clean in the relaxed rules match back at Summerslam 2012. H teased retirement after a “broken arm” but was remotivated back into action after Vinnie Mac was F5ed into hip replacement surgery. No real special entrances this time though Triple H does get the same Castle of Grayskull from WMXXVIII. Brock and Trips both look mega-juiced up for tonight. There's a little mishap with the dry ice and Trips can't get it off, so rather than break character while on camera, the tough bastard walks most of the way to the ring with that shit burning second degree holes into his torso. Even Cro-Magnon Brock is perplexed at that display of manhood.
• They slug it out fiercely to start and Brock takes over with STIFFFF knees to the gut. H lowers the bridges and dumps Brock on his head to the floor. Trips whips him hard into the barricade and the apron as well. Trips SMASHES Brock into the announce table. Brock comes back by harpooning H into the apron and shitcanning him into the crowd. Brock gets a chair but H cuts him off with a clothesline and AGAIN Brock gets dumped on his head taking one of those puro backdrop driver bumps. Back in, JBL puts over Brock's two world championships “in an octagon.” Brock gets the chair but H cuts him off with a high knee. H goes for the chair but Heyman swipes it away not letting it be used against his client. Instead, Trips dumps out Brock to send him into the stairs. The crowd has been jolted into silence, thus far only reacting to Brock's death-defying falls on his head. Brock takes over with a sweet belly to belly suplex on the floor that wakes up some of the crowd. Brock gathers up Trips to drop him on the announce table. Brock then SLAMS H through the SAT with a BEASSSSSSSST suplex. Seriously, they didn't even prep the announce table and still demolished it. Brock poses for the troll yell and another belly to belly on the floor. H almost now lands on his head and Brock delights in the carnage as H is toast. Cole: “This is... uhh... this is... is FRIGHTENING!”
• Brock screams some more to rile up some at ringside. Cole: “Oh my god, THIS GUY IS A NUTJOB!” Brock drags H back into the ring and then chases off HBK before he gets any heroic ideas about interfering with a Sweet Chin Music or some such nonsense. Back in, Brock poses to a mild pop. He stomps Trips' remains in the corner away. H tries to come back with a jawbreaker but Brock no sells for a LARIATO. Brock covers for 1, 2, nearfall. Heyman screams at Triple H from the sidelines, “YOU CAN'T COMPETE WITH BROCK LESNAR!” Cole: “Ya know, maybe Heyman is right?” Trips gets the boot up in the corner but runs into another belly to belly. Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. All of the crew want the match stopped at maybe 8 minutes in after a few suplexes and one through the announce table. Brock talks trash to H and HBK and then folds up the Game with an Australian style suplex. Another gets another 2 count. Heyman: “WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF?!” Trips tries to fight back but his whip gets countered back into the corner for the H Flip. HBK tries to tend to his fallen comrade but Brock scares him away again. H seizes the opportunity to fire up for his second wind and a couple of LARIATOS on the floor that send Brock reeling into the front row.
• Triple H gets the chair and lays into Brock for the first weapon shot of the match so far. Back in, Brock no sells for another German for 1, 2, 2 ½. Heyman tells Brock to take the old horse out behind the barn and put him out of his misery. That draws the ire and sympathy of HBK who gets to the apron only to get Brock Smashed back to the floor and amazingly one shot on HBK has more heat than 10 minutes worth so far on the Hs. That's because face HBK is sympathic in a way that Trips has a face has never been. Any combination of Brock vs. Daniel Bryan, HBK, or Punk as a face are a much more natural fit for Brock's strengths than his rivalry with Triple H, but that's another story for another time.
• ANYWAY, H fights back with the Spinebuster. He wants the Pedigree but Brock shrugs him off and blocks a sneaky HBK trying steal the show one more team with another Sweet Chin Music at WM. Instead, Brock takes him out with a F5. Not so fast as The Game is up and after a herky jerky botch, they get the Pedigree right on the second attempt. Trips covers for 1, 2, 2.7. H gets the sledge but Brock cuts him off with the F5! JBL: “THERE GOES THE CAREER!” Brock covers for 1, 2, 2.99. Despite the kickout, Trips is still toast and rolls out to the floor to buy some time. Brock DESTROYS him with the chair and whips him into the stairs. Brock tears off the top half of the stairs to waffle the Hs. He then tosses the rest of the stairs into the ring for some more damage later. Heyman: “YOU ARE THE MAN! YOU ARE A BEAST!” Back in, Brock says it's over and waffles Trips with the stairs. He covers for one, two, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT'IM. Heyman: “THAT'S OK! TORTURE HIM! MAKE HIM FEEL THE PAIN ALL NIGHT LONG!” After another kickout, Heyman is getting a little nervous and is giving Brock the go-home signal. That and some barbaric yawping from Brock fires up the Hs and he smacks the taste out of Brock's mouth.
• H wants another Pedigree but Brock counters under for the KIMURA! JBL: “NO ROPE BREAKS!” H tries to get a break but it's meaningless. Instead, Triple H drives him back into the corner so Brock reapplies. They tussle back and forth as a few smarts chant for Brock to BREAKHISARMBREAKHISARM. Brock climbs up to the top rope for more leverage and grapevines H for the bodylock. Trips counters for a pseudo Rampage bomb and then stumbles into the corner to remind Brock that DX is for life and he can still suck it. That same storytelling moment got a much bigger reaction against UT and hell even Kevin Nash. Brock charges in but eats ringpost and a BLATANTLOWBLOW from Trips. Cole: “LEGAL! LEGAL!” Triple H capitalizes and wraps Brock's damaged shoulder around the ringpost. He gets a chair and waffles Brock's arm for the hyperextension. Brock tries to seek refuge on the stairs but H AGAIN hammers the arm with the chair. Triple H seizes and applies a Kimura of his own. Brock might tap BUT WAIT! Heyman sneaks in with a chair but HBK IS UP! He lays out Heyman with SCM to a nice pop. Brock fires up and stands up out of the hold and SLAMS H DOWN ON THE STAIRS! H is stunned but reapplies the Kimura. Brock slams him again to another audible thud. H is laid out but still grabs the arm for another Kimura. Brock tries to counter out one more time but Trips counters midmove to a DDT ON THE STAIRS! That was nifty. H gets the trusty sledge and HAMMERSHOT TO THE FACE! H fires up for the real Troll Yell and a PEDIGREE ON THE STAIRS! Brock is down for the count at 24:00.
• I'm a bigger fan of this feud (and Triple H in general) than most. Are any of the matches as good as Brock's against Cena or Punk since coming back? No. But they are easily better than what he did with Show or UT this year. This is another nice chapter in the story they started at Summerslam and ended at EE. The matches are solid, they work hard, but the feud still doesn't work entirely. This isn't as bad as Trips' other workmanlike, unenthusiastic exercises in sado-masochism against Jericho from WMXVIII or Orton from WMXXV, but Triple H still isn't pitiable. You harm his family, break his arm, break into his house, talk all the trash in the world, and he still comes across as overly righteous and never quite outsmarted (as a face at least). Not to mention that HBK's inclusion seemed tacked on and uninspired. Still it's important, Brock didn't tap to his own hold and this is still a stiff, high impact brawl with lots to sink your teeth into. ***1/2
• Steel Cage Match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship: Bully Ray vs. Chris Sabin (c).Impact Wrestling: Hardcore Justice. 08/15/2013. If Bully loses, he’ll never get another shot at the TNA strap. Bully lost the strap in a surprising moment to Sabin at Destination X, another of the free TV clashes from last year. Bully is announced at 275 which sounds right and Sabin at 219 which is right if he were holding a 20 lb. dumbbell. Still, nicely Taz points out that Sabin is giving up 56 lbs to Bully and should utilize speed and high flying acrobatics to stay a step ahead.
• Crowd chants for Bully Ray at the bell but it dies quickly. Bully with a big bodyslam and Sabin comes right back with a shove to show he ain’t scared. Tenay wants to talk turkey and Taz says he’ll keep it real and admit that the cage gives Sabin an advantage tonight. Taz: “He will utilize this cage, in my view, to pull off some insanely, highly athletic, dangerous maneuvers and some will hit and some won’t.” Bully with another slam and he puts Sabin in his place: “TONIGHT IS NOT YOUR NIGHT, I’M GOING TO BUST YOUR FACE, AND TAKE YOUR TITLE!” Sabin with another shove and… nothing. Not exactly impressive standoff. Lockup goes nowhere so Bully easily hoists him up for another slam. Taz: “Chris Sabin is 219 lbs. Bully Ray can behind the neck press 225 lbs. twenty seven reps, bro.” ANYWAY, Sabin avoids a smack in the corner and comes back with some armdrags and a dropkick. Sabin fires up for a burrito and another. Bully goes down and Sabin flies in with an IED. Sabin with a head of steam so Bully alley oops him back but Sabin lands on the top rope and starts to climb. Bully grabs his foot, so Sabin crossbodies him for 1, 2, only 2. Sabin tries a fireman’s carry but his back gives out, so Sabin clips the knee. Dueling LET’S GO SABIN/SABIN SUCKS chant but they’re quiet. Sabin heads up top but Bully crotches him. Calfzilla climbs up the cage for the unprecedented TOP ROPE CHOKE WITH THE FOOT! Taz: “LOOK AT THE FLEXIBILITY! … Looks like he’s been doing that hot yoga.”
• Bully then press slams Sabin into the cage as Taz compares him to Ted Arcidi and Jeep Swenson. We take a break as Bully is getting booed out of the building. We’re back to another press slam cage waffle from Bully. Bully: “I AIN’T BEATING HIM YET!” Sabin tries a flurry, so Bully no sells and headbutts him down. Bully with an elbow drop for 1, 2, no. Bully with a few crossfaces and pays homage to Taz in the process. Bully taunts Sabin and challenges him to man up and hit him in the face, so Sabin does just that and fires back with forearms. He still can’t get Bully up though and collapses. Bully tries to get him up for the Razor’s Edge but Sabin counters to a back slide for 1, 2, 2 ½. Bully with a Bully-line to take back over. He barks at ringside and targets Sabin’s ear with haymakers. The ref wants a break so Bully bullies him into laying off and then applies the HELL’S KITCHEN BEARHUG! Taz: “THAT’LL SQUEEZE ALL THE OXYGEN OUT OF THE BODY OF SABIN! NO SHOT IN HELL HERE! WITH THE THICK POWERFUL BICEPS! TRICEPS! DELTOIDS! FOREARMS OF BULLY RAY!” ANYWAY, Sabin elbows out but runs into a big backdrop. Bully: “GET UP! This is how I should have finished you a couple of weeks ago.” Bully calls for the powerbomb but Sabin punches his way free to the mounted Sleeper. Bully staggers but drives him back into the corner. Taz: “That might have been an illegal choke.” Tenay: “STEEL CAGE MATCH!” Taz: “…”
• Sabin gets the boot up in the corner and hits a tornardo DDT. Double KO spot. They get to their feet and forearm and chop it out. Sabin hits the step up enzuigiri and then helps Bully remove his vest. Sabin hits the DVD but rather than cover, celebrates prematurely. Sabin gets the vest to start whipping Bully. Taz: “You’re not supposed to be rooting for people out here, Mike. Be professional. This is barbaric.” Sabin fires up to mild enthusiasm. Bully cuts him off with the BOOT OF FEAR. Cover gets 1, 2, kickout. Samoan drop gets another nearfall. Bully whips him back with the vest and then tosses it away. Bully starts to climb but Sabin chases him down. They brawl on the top rope with Sabin kicking Bully onto the top turnbuckle. He preps a top rope rana but Bully blocks and then they flip over together in an odd spot. Bully sells the shoulder as a gruesome injury. Taz wants the match stopped as Sabin calls for the Cradle Shock. Bully blocks for a suplex. He tells the ref to open the door, but Sabin ducks under and tries to dart out. Bully grabs his foot and pulls him back in. Bully goes for the Bulldog powerslam but they bump the ref. Sabin ducks out of the way and then for good measure, Bully completely stampedes poor Hebner and he’s out. Sabin with an enzuigiri as you just wait for the Dusty finish to kick in. Sabin dropkicks Bully into the cage and hits a missile dropkick. Cover gets nothing as there’s no ref. Sabin instead crawls for the door. BUT WAIT! MR. ANDERSON HAS COME OUT! He slams the door on Sabin’s head and holds the door in place. Anderson: “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” BUT WAIT! IT’S RAMPAGE JACKSON! TITO ORTIZ! Rampage disposes of Anderson but TITO WAFFLES HIM FROM BEHIND WITH A HAMMER! WILDBOMB ON SABIN! Bully covers for 1, 2, 3 for a new champ and Tito joining Aces ‘n’ Eights at 18:03.
Sabin got almost nothing other than a few shoves in the early going, one fire up, and a phantom pinfall after a ref bump to protect him. I’m glad that they followed through on the X-Division vacation/cash-in for the second year in a row even if only it justifies the gimmick’s future use. Still, TNA was right to pull the plug on the Sabin experiment. If there were lots of things wrong with TNA and that needed to be changed, I don’t think Bully Ray as world champ was any of them. Taz on commentary was simultaneously great and awful in how much he was homering for Bully and yet still being the cornball he is. ***1/4
The 411: Seeing Flair and Arn completely overwhelm Hogan and Sting with the Flair Country crowd is AWESOME. All of the title matches are worth watching, if only the Sting/DDP and Batista/UT are worth tracking down. Edge and Morrison put on a clinic on Smackdown as well. Watch any and all if you come across their path or see them out on the network.