US Airways Arena – Phoenix, Arizona
WWE.com Preview Match: United States Championship Match – Shelton Benjamin vs. R-Truth
Benjamin has been the U.S. Champion since 7.20.08 and this is his second defense. R-Truth won a vote with 59% over MVP (15%) and Festus (26%) to get this title shot. Since he was feuding with Benjamin to begin with the result wasn’t exactly a shock. He’s over for some reason, but I can’t see him without thinking about “we been waitin’ fo’ ya’ll … and we gon’ knock yo’ blocks off.” Benjamin tries a mostly brawling approach early on, and Truth comes back with some impressive athletic maneuvers. The champion comes back with a hot shot and a running kick to the face for two. He follows up with the chinlock. Truth fights out with right hands and kicks. He adds a couple of clotheslines, a dropkick and the spinning forearm. He goes to the top rope and Benjamin leaps up there to meet him, only to get knocked back down. Truth hits a missile dropkick for a near-fall. He comes off the ropes and runs right into Paydirt and Benjamin retains the title at 3:24.That was a decent preview match, although it’s a little unfortunate that the U.S. Title has been reduced to three-and-a-half minute preview matches. At least it got that I guess.
MATCH #1: WWE Universe Chooses Type of Match – Kane vs. Rey Mysterio
Rey enters first and then we go over to Todd Grisham at the voting headquarters. The choices are Falls Count Anywhere, No Holds Barred, or 2 out of 3 Falls. The votes are in, and No Holds Barred wins with 39% of the vote. Falls Count Anywhere carried 35% of the vote, while 26% voted for 2 out of 3 Falls. Kane has a new, more sinister version of his theme music. I can’t believe this character has been around for over 11 years. Kane tries to overpower the smaller Mysterio, but he ends up knocked to the floor and Mysterio hits a somersault dive over the top onto his much larger opponent. Mysterio brings weapons into the match, but is soon stalled by a boot to the face. Great, now Kane is on offense. He works on Mysterio’s back and generally throws him around. I’m not sure who picked this one to open. Mysterio finally comes back with some boots to the face and a bulldog. He tries a 619 but Kane clotheslines him down for two. Kane grabs a steel chair and Mysterio dropkicks it back at him. Mysterio follows it up with a swinging reverse DDT that Michael Cole describes as “swashbuckling.” He hits a chair-assisted double legdrop for an awkward one count. He goes up top for a flying something but Kane punches him out of the air for a two-count. Kane then brings the steel steps into the ring and tries to slam Mysterio into them, but Mysterio reverses it and drop toeholds Kane face-first into them. He follows with the springboard seated senton for two. He then uses the chair to get Kane in position for the 619, and this time Kane grabs him for a Chokeslam. Mysterio ranas his way out of that, hits the 619, and follows with a springboard splash to get the clean pin at 10:22. The match was pretty dull, as Kane just doesn’t have much left in the tank at this point, and Rey isn’t quite the dynamic performer he used to be either.
MATCH #2: ECW Championship Match, WWE Universe Chooses Challenger – Matt Hardy vs. ?
The choices are Mark Henry, Finlay, or Evan Bourne. Grisham introduces ECW GM Theodore Long and his assistant Tiffany, who will preside over this next match. First Long introduces the ECW Champion Matt Hardy. He’s been the champion since 9.7.08, and this is his second defense. In a surprising landslide, Evan Bourne wins with 69% of the vote, while Finlay got 25% and Henry just 6%. Finlay is a gracious loser but Henry is not. Bourne worked as Matt Sydal in ROH from April 23, 2004 until September 15, 2007, and never received a shot at their title. He’s been on WWE television about four months, so I’m just glad he’s as over as he is.
Hardy seems to be enjoying this rare size advantage. Bourne hits an early dropkick and tries to use a headlock. A quick victory roll gets two, ditto for a sunset flip. Hardy tries the Twist of Fate but Bourne reverses it to unique rollup for two. Bourne tries to springboard into the ring and Hardy forearms him down. Back in the ring Hardy hits a clothesline for two. He tries the bulldog out of the corner but Bourne hangs on and throws him shoulder first into the turnbuckle. The challenger now goes to work on the shoulder. Matt Striker goes into a speech about what an underdog Bourne is, and I think it’s word-for-word what Michael Cole said when Mankind won the title back in ’99. Bourne hits a standing moonsault for two. Hardy powders but Bourne follows him out. He tries an Asai Moonsault but Hardy knocks him down and bodyslams him on the floor. Back in the ring the champion gets a near fall. He keeps working on the back. He goes for Splash Mountain and Bourne counters it to a nice rana. Bourne fights back but Hardy grabs him with a Side Effect for two. Another Side Effect gets two. Hardy goes up to the second rope and jumps into a spinning heel kick. Bourne hits a run-up moonsault for two. A spin kick gets two. An awesome takedown from the top rope that I can’t quite describe gets another two-count. He tries another kick and Hardy ducks and rolls him up for two. Bourne comes back with a face plant of sorts, and then heads up to the top rope. Hardy stops him but gets knocked back himself. Bourne tries the Shooting Star Press and Hardy moves. He goes for the Twist of Fate which Bourne counters to a backslide for two. The crowd bought that one. Hardy gets up and hits a quick Twist of Fate to get the pin at 11:05. Bourne busted all a couple new things I’ve never seen him do before, and he totally has the crowd behind him. Hardy does too, and the shared reaction helped make this a really fun match.
MATCH #3: WWE Universe Chooses Tag Team Match
The choices are Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase versus CM Punk & Kofi Kingston for the World Tag Team Titles, John Morrison & The Miz versus Cryme Tyme, or Jamie Noble & Mickie James vs. William Regal & Layla. Miz & Morrison versus Cryme Tyme ekes out a victory, with 38% of the vote. The World Tag Team Title match got 35%, while the mixed tag got 27%, so not a bad showing for any of them. It just goes to show that Miz & Morrison are one of WWE’s hottest commodities right now. This feud is over who has the better show on WWE Dot Com. Since we now know who won the Slammy it makes this match a little anticlimactic (kidding).
Morrison and JTG start the match. JTG controls early on, so Morrison makes the tag to Miz, whose luck is no better. Miz comes back with a shot to JTG’s throat and he tags in Morrison. They isolate JTG in their corner briefly, and then JTG makes the tag to Shad. They send both Miz & Morrison to the floor, and Shad hurls JTG onto both of them. Back in the ring Morrison goes after Shad’s knee, and Miz does the same. They tag in and out, both working the knee. Morrison gets a half Boston Crab, and Shad powers out. Miz comes in and wrenches at the knee. Shad powers out of that too and makes the tag to JTG. He is all kinds of fired up tonight. Even so, Miz and Morrison are soon in control again. He’s able to thwart one of their double team moves and tags the big man Shad in. Miz and Morrison bump all over for him. Morrison tries a pin with his feet on the ropes but JTG breaks it up. The match breaks down into a brawl, and the referee tries to maintain order. Shad lifts Morrison up for a slam but Miz kicks out the knee and Morrison is able to hit the Midnight Drive to get the pin at 10:22. It was a little awkward in spots but the effort was there and this was actually a tag team feud in WWE, something they don’t do too much of, so it was really nice to see. Morrison and Miz are both future World Champions.
MATCH #4: WWE Intercontinental Championship Match, WWE Chooses Challenger – Santino Marella vs. ?
The choices are Roddy Piper, Goldust, or Honky Tonk Man, all former Intercontinental champions. Marella has been the champion since 8.17.08, and this is his second defense. The Honk-A-Meter is at 64 to 11 in terms of weeks, so there’s really only one logical choice for his opponent tonight. Marella makes fun of the athletes who come to Arizona in the twilight of their careers, including “Shazam O’Neal,” who is in the audience tonight. Honky thankfully wins with 35% of the vote. Piper was second with 34%, and Goldust nabbed 31%. Honky actually appeared on an ROH show in Chicago this past June, for some reason. He cuts Marella down and shows him how to dance. Marella shows some of his dance moves and then takes a cheap shot at the challenger. Honky leaves his jumpsuit on, which is probably a good idea. Honky takes advantage and now that these two aren’t talking to each other the crowd doesn’t care. The challenger bounces off the ropes and Beth Phoenix trips him in plain view of the referee, and Honky wins the match by DQ at 1:06. I really don’t understand booking that on pay-per-view. It was mildly entertaining, but in a way that I’d like to see it on Raw and not pay for it.
MATCH #5: WWE Universe Chooses Type of Match – Undertaker vs. Big Show
The choices are Knockout, I Quit, or Last Man Standing. The start of this feud was insanely weak but their match at No Mercy three weeks ago was shockingly good so I hope for more of the same here. Todd Grisham brings Vickie Guerrero out to announce the next match. Her wheelchair is steered by Chavo Guerrero of course. Last Man Standing gets the win with 49% of the vote, followed by I Quit with 42% and Knockout with 9%.
They start throwing hands right away, and Show tosses Undertaker to the floor. He tosses him over the guardrail, and Undertaker comes out with a chair shot. Back in the ring Undertaker takes control. He’s soon overpowered by Show, who tosses Undertaker around and hits a legdrop for a seven-count. They go outside the ring and Show tries to level Undertaker with a chair, but he moves and Show hits the ring post instead. Undertaker comes back by using the chair to ram Show’s throat into the post. That gets an eight-count. Show mostly controls the match with brief flurries by Undertaker. They fight over who gets the first Chokeslam, and Undertaker counters that to a DDT. That gets nine. Show removes one of the turnbuckle pads and tries Snake Eyes, but Undertaker shoves him in chest-first and hits a flying clothesline. That gets another nine. Undertaker charges into the corner and Show moves; Undertaker hits his knee on the exposed steel, and then on the steps on the way down to the floor. They start rearranging the tables. Show cracks Undertaker in the face with one of the monitors. He kicks Undertaker over the guardrail and into the crowd. Then he goes and grabs chair, and waits forever to give Undertaker a chance to punch it back in his face. Show gets the last laugh though, as he Chokeslams Undertaker from the guardrail through the announce table. Undertaker barely gets up at nine. They make their way back to the ring and Show is in control. Undertaker counters with another DDT. That’s good for a seven-count. Undertaker goes for Old School but gets caught with a big Chokeslam. That gets another nine-count. Show follows up with a straight right hand to the face, and Undertaker gets up at nine. Frustrated, Show goes to the floor and grabs a chair. He waffles Undertaker in the face with it, and Show wants to inflict more damage. Undertaker grabs Show in what I think they’re calling Hell’s Gate and Show taps, but the match can’t end that way. Both men are down and it’s Undertaker who’s able to reach his feet before the count of 10 and wins the match at 19:25. That went on a bit too long and wasn’t quite as good as their last match, but I still think it exceeded expectations. They had some good spots and the intensity was there. It was only hurt by the inherent way that Last Man Standing matches create less pops due to the number of attempted 10-counts.
MATCH #6: WWE Championship Match, WWE Universe Chooses Challenger – Triple H vs. ?
The choices for Triple H’s challenger are Jeff Hardy, Vladimir Kozlov, or a Triple Threat Match Against Both. Triple H has been champion since 4.27.08 and this is his tenth defense. A singles match against Jeff Hardy is the winner, with 57% of the vote. Triple Threat got 38% of the vote, while solo Kozlov scored just 5%. These two had a pretty swank match three weeks ago at No Mercy. This is Hardy’s fourth shot at the title this year.
They exchange holds and counters in the early going, with Hardy actually controlling the larger Game. Triple H tries using his power but Hardy uses his quickness for the early advantage. Hardy tries an early Twist of Fate, and Triple H reverses it to a Pedigree, which Hardy avoids. The challenger is able to control the flow of the match early on. Hardy goes up, presumably, for the Whisper in the Wind and Triple H shoves him from the top rope onto the guardrail below. Back in the ring the champion is firmly in control now. Hardy almost makes the comeback but Triple H cuts him off. JR notes that Jeff Hardy has had 16 different title reigns in WWE, and I’m shocked to realize he’s right (four Intercontinental Titles, six World Tag Team Titles, one WCW Tag Team Title, three Hardcore Titles, one European Title, and one Light Heavyweight Title). Hardy is persistent and comes back with a wraparound clothesline on the champion. He hits a couple of double boots to get a near fall on the champ. A gourdbuster gets another two-count. He tries the dropkick in the corner but Triple H grabs him out of the air and hits a Spinebuster for two. He then locks on the Crossface. Hardy almost reaches the ropes but Triple H pulls him back. The challenger responds by rolling back and getting a near fall out of it. Triple H then kicks Hardy to the floor. He follows him out and winds up paying for it, as Hardy launches himself at Triple H up against the guardrail. Back in the ring Hardy hits the Whisper in the Wind and then goes up to hit another one. Triple H kicks out at two. Hardy then hits the corner dropkick, again for two. He tries the Twist of Fate but Triple H counters to a Pedigree attempt. Hardy gets a jackknife pin out of that for two. Triple H then goes to the sleeper and Hardy shoves him off. He hits the Twist of Fate and the champion kicks out at two! He goes up top for the Swanton and lands it. He goes up for another one and this time the Game gets his knees up. The logic that allows Triple H to counter the move on the second try but not the first is a little suspect. They get up and Triple H tries the Pedigree, and Hardy kicks him to the floor and follows him out with a slingshot dive. He throws Triple H back in the ring and climbs the top rope, but Triple H knocks him down and pulls him back into the ring with the Pedigree to score the pin at 15:39. JR tries to sell it as a Pedigree off the top rope, but Triple H just pulled Hardy off the top rope before delivering the move. Notwithstanding JR’s goofiness this was another excellent match between these two, who obviously have great chemistry as opponents.
MATCH #7: World Heavyweight Championship Match, WWE Universe Chooses Referee – Chris Jericho vs. Batista
Jericho has been the champion since 9.7.08 and this is his third defense. The choices for referee are Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, and Randy Orton. Both wrestlers make their entrances first, and then we go to the polls. Austin of course wins with a whopping 74% of the vote. Michaels got just 22% and Orton 4%.
Jericho feels backed in a corner, and Batista then literally does just that. The champion powders before any real damage can be done. He starts walking to the back, so Stone Cold of course invents some authority by saying if Jericho is counted out or disqualified he will lose the title. And WWE wonders why no one viewed Mike Adamle failed as an authority figure. Jericho comes back to the ring and it’s all Batista. The champion comes back through chicanery and starts working on Batista’s knee. Batista almost comes out of the corner with a Batista Bomb but his knee is too injured to complete the move. The challenger finally does make the comeback and hits a couple of power moves. He once again sets up for the Batista Bomb, but Jericho counters to the Walls of Jericho. Batista fights out and hits a Boss Man Slam for two. Jericho tries a cross body block, but Batista catches him and once again tries the Batista Bomb. The champ blocks it and goes to the top rope, only to get clobbered with a clothesline on the way down. Batista tries a Spear but Jericho moves and his shoulder hits the ring post. They go up to the top rope and Batista throws Jericho down and follows him with a flying shoulder block. That gets two. Batista apparently gives Jericho a spinebuster, but I guess it was supposed to be a Jericho DDT or something because he’s the one who goes for the cover. Or did I completely miss what they were going for there? Batista accidentally knocks Austin out of the ring with a shoulder block, and Jericho lands the Code Breaker. Shawn Michaels races down in his referee getup, but he won’t make the count for his hated rival. Jericho gets pissed, so Michaels feigns Sweet Chin Music, and Jericho turns around right into a Spear. Michaels tries to make a fast count, but JBL pulls him to the floor and knocks him out. That distracts Batista, and Jericho goes back to the leg. He goes and grabs his title belt as Austin is making his way back into the ring. Randy Orton comes out and knocks Austin out, and he will be the referee now. Jericho nails Batista with the belt and he kicks out. Austin gets back up and Orton can’t hear Austin yelling in his ear. He turns around right into a Stunner and Orton sells it awesomely. He tries to Stun Jericho but gets pushed off. That gives Batista the chance to hit the spinebuster and finally hits the Batista Bomb to pin Jericho and win his fourth World Title at 17:08. The match was actually better than I thought it would be, even if it was a little overbooked by the end. The psychology of the match was very basic, and Batista did a great job selling throughout the match. Jericho was of course, awesome.