MATCH #1: United States Championship Match – MVP vs. Rey Mysterio
MVP has been the champion since 5.20.07, and this is just his fourth defense. I’m not sure why the champion comes out first, since the title is on the line for the first time since Cyber Sunday, which was about six weeks before this. Rey starts off on offense, moving quickly to keep MVP from gaining an advantage. MVP takes a powder and tries to call a time out, but Rey jumps over the referee with a twisting dive to the floor. Back in the ring Rey remains in control. MVP finally counters Rey with an alley-oop powerbomb into the top turnbuckle. MVP targets the neck now. Rey comes back with a hurricanrana but misses a move and hurts his knee. He hits an Arabian Press anyway for two. MVP tries going after the knee but Rey is able to hit a rana off the top rope, but winds up running his face into a big boot. MVP goes for an inverted suplex but Rey reverses it to a reverse DDT for two. The battle spills to the floor and Rey hits another rana on the U.S. Champion. The referee has the count going, and Rey gets back in, and MVP thinks about it, but then decides to stay on the floor and lose the match but retain the title at 11:29. The finish was pretty bad, but the match was going along nicely up until that.
MATCH #2: CM Punk & Kane vs. Big Daddy V & Mark Henry
This is a mixture of ECW and Smackdown, as per the talent exchange agreement. ECW Champion Punk and Henry start the match off. The Champ doesn’t stay in too long before tagging out to Kane, who goes to work on Henry’s knee. Punk gets tagged back in and he hits a dropkick now. Henry soon takes control and tags out to Big Daddy V. Matt Striker takes cheap shots outside the ring, and back in Punk takes a beating from his much larger opponents. Punk avoids a charge in the corner and is able to make the tag. Kane cleans house for a minute but then also falls victim to the strength of his opponents. He finally makes the hot tag to Punk, who unloads with strikes on V. Henry and Kane get involved, so Punk and Kane clothesline Henry outside the ring and Kane follows. Striker gets on the ring apron and Punk nails him with a kick. He tries a springboard move but V catches Punk with a Samoan Drop to get the pin at 10:33. That was a decent formula tag match, but didn’t go much further beyond what we’ve seen on TV plenty of times.
MATCH #3: Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Kennedy
Kennedy gets on the microphone before the match to tell the crowd that he will defeat Michaels here tonight. He takes the fight right to Michaels in the opening minutes and talks loud trash to his more experienced opponent. Michaels makes the comeback with an armbar takedown, doing damage to Kennedy’s elbow. He puts all his focus on the elbow now, taking Kennedy down to the mat. Kennedy fights back and hits a spear on Michaels and they both go tumbling to the floor. The crowd is not really that into this match for some reason. Kennedy puts his hand on the ring stairs so Michaels stomps on it. Back in the ring Michaels focuses his attack there now. Kennedy recovers and knocks Michaels through the ropes, so they fight on the apron. Kennedy pushes Michaels into the ring post and Michaels is down on the floor. He tosses Michaels back into the ring and puts the boots to him. He hits a running boot to the face in the corner for two. He bends Michaels’ back over his knee, trying to get a submission. Kennedy continues working on the back as Lawler and Ross plug merchandise. Michaels starts to fight back and is able to back body drop Kennedy to the floor. Back in the ring Michaels goes on offense, hitting his usual sequence of moves. The flying elbow connects and Michaels is going to go for Sweet Chin Music. Kennedy ducks it and rolls Michaels up for two. He looks like he’s going for the Finlay Roll and Michaels counters that for a near fall. Kennedy catapults Michaels into the corner and Michaels hits his head Curt Hennig style. He hits the Finlay Roll but Michaels is able to kick out again. Kennedy goes for the Mic Check but Michaels hangs on to the top rope. Michaels then hits Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere to get the pin at 15:16. I’m surprised the crowd was so lukewarm through most of it, but I thought it was a pretty good match that seems to lead to more matches. Kennedy looked pretty good, and Michaels is the best of all-time, so I enjoyed this.
MATCH #4: Winner Gets a WWE Championship Match at Royal Rumble – Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy
Hardy’s Intercontinental Title is not on the line here. Triple H takes the early advantage with his superior size and strength. Hardy tries to quicken the pace and hits an armdrag and brings the match to the floor. He tries to walk the guardrail but can’t keep his balance so Triple H takes advantage and hits a clothesline and puts Hardy back in the ring. Hardy hesitates on delivering a right hand, so H rightfully slaps him hard across the face and encourages Hardy to fight. The slap seems to wake Hardy up, as he hits a few of his signature moves and follows up with a slap of his own. Now HHH is fired up and he tosses Hardy to the floor and then into the stairs. HHH dominates for a few minutes before Hardy is able to string together a couple of offensive maneuvers. The Game recovers and then they commence to trading big moves. Hardy goes to the top and tries the Swanton but HHH moves out of the way and nearly pins Hardy off it. HHH tries the Pedigree but Hardy avoids it, but can’t avoid the spinebuster. He picks Hardy up for a Pedigree but Hardy grabs the legs and rolls over to get the pin and earn a title shot at 15:23. That was a good solid match and Hardy went over as clean as could possibly be, so WWE must be serious about wanting to elevate him. The match wasn’t spectacular, but HHH kept Hardy on track and if they were given a main event slot rather than fourth I think they could do even more.
MATCH #5: Finlay vs. Great Khali
Finlay tries going after the legs, but Khali just shrugs him off and starts striking Finlay. Khali dominates and tosses Finlay to the floor. Hornswoggle is looking on concerned. Finlay tries to fight back but can’t get much going because Khali is just so big. Khali continues to dominate with slams and strikes. Hornswoggle tries to interfere but that doesn’t go far. Khali hits a few more moves, and Finlay gets desperate and tries the Shillelagh but Khali blocks it. The referee turns his back and Hornswoggle comes in again and uses the Shillelagh on Khali’s nuts and then Finlay hits Khali in the head with it and gets the pin at 6:02. I like both of these guys but this really was not a good match.
MATCH #6: WWE Championship Match – Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho
Orton has been the champion since 10.7.07, and this is his third defense. This is Jericho’s first big match of his return. They start slowly and cautiously. Jericho takes the first advantage and stars working on Orton’s arm. He drops him gut first on the top rope and punts him in the midsection. Orton tries to take a breather outside the ring but Jericho takes a dive off the top rope and levels him. The champ gets back in the ring first and goes for the second-rope assisted DDT but Jericho counters it and goes for the Walls of Jericho but Orton avoids that and hits a DDT. He goes to his usual rest-holds now, trying to wear Jericho down. Jericho fights back and hits a clothesline for two. A dropkick off the second rope gets two. Orton reclaims the momentum with a powerslam for two. He throws Jericho’s shoulder into the ring post, but Jericho is able to use the backslide for two. Orton responds by tossing his shoulder into the ring post again. A superplex gets two for the champion. Orton tries another dropkick but Jericho goes for the Walls of Jericho again, which Orton counters to a rollup for two. Jericho comes out of that with an enziguiri. A bulldog is follows by the Lionsault but Orton gets his knees up. Orton follows it with the inverted backbreaker. He tries the RKO but the challenger counters and hits the Lionsault for a very near fall. The battle spills to the floor where they get in the way of the Smackdown announce team. Orton throws Jericho right onto JBL, who was just trying to watch the match. Jericho shoves JBL out of his way. He hangs Orton on the top rope and then hits a weird diving forearm off the top to the back of the head. Jericho goes for the Codebreaker but Orton counters. He locks Orton in the Walls of Jericho. All of a sudden, JBL rises from his chair at ringside and comes into the ring and kicks Jericho in the head, drawing the DQ at 15:05. That was a good back and forth match until the nonsensical finish. If their big idea was to feud Jericho and JBL, they could have gone about it in many different ways, and this just makes the champion look like a total lucky chump. When Jericho gets up, Orton delivers an RKO just for fun.
MATCH #7: WWE Women’s Championship Match – Beth Phoenix vs. Mickie James
Phoenix has been the champion since 10.7.07, and this is her second defense. Mickie tries using her speed and agility in the early going, but Phoenix is able to block just about everything. James tries a headscissors but Phoenix powerbombs her for two. The champion further abuses James and pulls on her hair, breaking at four each time. She goes to a modified dragon sleeper. James comes back with an O’Connor roll but Phoenix kicks out. The champion comes back with a chicken wing submission that looks pretty painful. James fights out with back elbows to the face and hits a pair of boots to the face. Phoenix goes back to the dragon, but James slips out the back side and hits a boot in the corner and finally does hit the rana. She follows it up with a Thesz Press followed by one more. James tries for the tornado DDT but can’t get it. Phoenix hits the Fisherman’s Suplex out of nowhere and that gets the pin at 4:45. That was no worse than any other sub-five minute women’s match in WWE.
MATCH #8: Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship – Batista vs. Edge vs. Undertaker
Batista has been champion since 9.16.07, and this is his fifth defense. Edge immediately tries to get out of fighting either guy so he hangs out on the floor to start. Batista and Undertaker fight out to the floor and both try to grab Edge and they can’t agree on who gets him so he escapes. Undertaker goes after Edge in the ring, so he powders again. Batista comes back in and slugs away at Undertaker. He clotheslines Undertaker to the floor, right in a good spot to grab Edge, and now everyone is on the floor again. Undertaker takes over on the floor while Edge continues to hide. Edge picks his spots and is able to take down both Undertaker and Batista, but it doesn’t last too long, as Batista hits a Boss Man Slam for two. Batista fights back and hits a running powerslam, but Undertaker grabs Batista and drags him back to the floor and tosses him into the steel steps. He throws Batista back in the ring and goes for the legdrop on Edge, but Batista clotheslines him off the ring apron. Batista tries the Batista Bomb but Edge hits a low blow and a DDT, and this time Undertaker pulls the referee out of the ring. All three get back to the ring and Batista tosses Edge out but falls victim to Undertaker’s triangle choke. The bell rings but we immediately learn that Edge took it upon himself to ring the bell, so the match is not over yet. Undertaker broke the hold, thinking he had won the match, so he goes after the referee. Edge hits a spear for two. He hits one on Batista for another two-count. Edge introduces chairs to the match, but doesn’t get to use them before getting dumped to the floor again. Undertaker delivers a superplex to Batista. He tries the rope walk, but Batista catches him in a spinebuster in a neat spot. Edge snakes in and eats a spear. Batista sets up for the Batista Bomb but Undertaker blocks it. There are somehow two Edges at ringside now. Undertaker delivers a chokeslam to Batista, and then chokeslams a third Edge. He and Batista are battling inside the ring, and not noticing Edge’s shenanigans. Undertaker hits the Tombstone on Batista and Edge sneaks in with a chair and levels Undertaker with it. He then goes to cover Batista and he’s still down enough for Edge to get the pin and regain the title at 13:00 and become a four-time World Champion. The finish seemed needlessly screwy, but the action for most of the match was really solid.