Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, Rhode Island – Sunday, April 26, 2009
MATCH #1: ECW Championship Match – Jack Swagger vs. Christian
Swagger has been the champion since 1.13.09, and this is his fourth defense. They take it right to the mat, where obviously Swagger dominates. Christian comes back with slaps and a headlock, but Swagger escapes and knocks Christian down with two straight shoulderblocks. Swagger then picks Christian up over his head and drops him over the top rope to the floor like a sack of potatoes. Back in the ring the ECW Champion is firmly in control. Christian tires that swinging kick out of the corner he does, but Swagger blocks it and slams Christian down to the mat for a two-count. Swagger Rules. He continues working over the ribs with various submission holds and strikes. Christian comes back and hits that swinging kick out of the corner this time, but Swagger drops him with a knee to the gut. Swagger then tries a Vader Bomb, but Christian gets his knees up. Christian fights back with forearms and tries a tornado DDT. Swagger blocks the DDT but can’t block a sunset flip off the second rope, which gets two. That near fall seems to have irked Swagger, who picks Christian up and slams him down to the mat. The champion tries the gut-wrench powerbomb, but the challenger blocks it. Swagger sets Christian up on the top rope, and this time Christian is able to hit the tornado DDT for a two-count. Once again Swagger is irked by the near-fall, and hits a belly-to-belly suplex to show his frustration. The battle spills to the floor and Swagger appears to be going for a German Suplex off the apron to the floor. Someone’s been watching old ROH tapes, and I approve. Christian dumps Swagger back in the ring and goes up top, but Swagger stops him and back body drops him! This time Swagger hits the Vader Bomb but Christian kicks out at two! Christian tries the Killswitch, but Swagger reverses that to half an Oklahoma Stampede, and Christian reverses that to a rolling prawn hold for two. Both men are back to their feet, and this time Swagger hits the full Oklahoma Stampede for a two-count. A frustrated Swagger removes one of the turnbuckle pads, and while the referee is distracted with that, Christian does the same. Swagger charges and runs into the exposed steel, and then Christian hits the Killswitch to win the title at 11:00. That was an absolutely tremendous match, and I love how both guys didn’t give up on hitting their big moves. I think Swagger is totally the future of the WWE.
MATCH #2: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. Chris Jericho
I wonder if they were planning on doing this one-on-one match all along, or if everyone was just so blown away by Steamboat at WrestleMania that they had to do this. Either way I’m ecstatic. Steamboat has dyed his hair for his first singles match on pay-per-view since facing Steve Austin for the United States title at Bash at the Beach on July 17, 1994. Jericho tries to stall, so Steamboat takes him down. Steamboat avoids outmaneuvers Jericho and hits a slingshot dive to the floor, wiping out the first-ever Undisputed Champion. Back in the ring Steamboat continues to control the younger Jericho, working in a few of his signature armdrags. Jericho finally makes the comeback when Steamboat tries to skin the cat, and Jericho viciously clotheslines him back over the ropes and to the floor. He hits the springboard dropkick, and Jericho is firmly in control now. Jericho puts on a modified Cobra Clutch. Steamboat fights out of that and hits an armdrag, but Jericho puts him right back down with a clothesline for two. Jericho grinds him down with a headlock, and Steamboat can’t even break it with a belly-to-back suplex. He tries the bulldog, but Steamboat pushes him off, and Jericho lands on the top turnbuckle. Steamboat hits a belly-to-back superplex, and Jericho kicks out at two! I wonder if Steamboat learned that from Bryan Danielson. Steamboat is on fire now, hitting a series of chops for another two-count. A powerslam gets another close near-fall for the Hall of Famer. Jericho comes back with the enziguiri for two. He hits the bulldog this time, and goes for the Lionsault, but Steamboat catches him in an Electric Chair, which Jericho rolls through to the Walls of Jericho! Steamboat reverses that but has trouble putting on the modified Figure-Four Leglock. Jericho rolls to the ropes, and now they fight on the apron. Steamboat dumps Jericho to the mat and goes up top for a high cross body block, but it only gets two! He goes to the second rope for a chop to the head, but Jericho catches him with a Code Breaker, but Steamboat gets his foot on the bottom rope! Jericho goes for a slam but Steamboat rolls it into a small package just like WrestleMania III, but Jericho kicks out at two. Moments later Jericho locks on the Walls of Jericho, and Steamboat has to tap out at 12:32. Obviously it wasn’t the Ricky Steamboat from the ‘80s, but you never forget how to work, and Steamboat is one of the greatest of all time. That was probably his last match, and it was a good one to go out on. The crowd gives him a respectful round of applause and a “you still got it” chant.
MATCH #3: CM Punk vs. Kane
This match came about because Punk and Kane were the last two men on a ladder during the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania. Punk tries to avoid Kane early on, but Kane is able to use his strength to work Punk over. That doesn’t last too long though, as Punk catches Kane in a cross armbreaker in the ropes. Punk goes after Kane’s right arm and shoulder, and knocks Kane to the floor. He tries to hit a slingshot dive, but Kane grabs him by the throat for a chokeslam attempt, which Punk avoids. He’s then able to hit a clothesline off the apron. Back in the ring he once again goes after Kane’s shoulder. Kane reverses a whip and sort of sends Punk’s ribs into the ring post, and then Kane kicks Punk all the way to the floor. He follows Punk out and slams his back into the steel ring post. Back in the ring Kane gets a two-count. The Big Red Machine goes to work on Punk’s ribs, locking him in a body scissors. Kane hits a clothesline for two, and continues the assault. He tries a Chokeslam, but Punk counters it with a single-arm DDT. Punk then locks Kane in a kind of Tarantula in the ropes, using the referee’s five-count to great effectiveness. He has until five, referee. Punk hits a springboard clothesline to the back of the neck, and then runs right into a big boot. Kane goes up top, and Punk catches him with an enziguiri. Punk tries Go 2 Sleep, but Kane avoids it. Kane tries to retreat in the corner, but Punk follows him in with the knee to the face and a bulldog for two. Punk tries another springboard clothesline, but Kane swats him out of the air for a two-count. Kane tries a powerslam but Punk reverses it to a cross armbreaker, which Kane powers out of with a side suplex for two. Punk avoids another Chokeslam with a series of kicks and strikes. But he can only avoid the Chokeslam for so long, as when Kane finally hits a two-handed Chokeslam (which pays off Punk’s arm work nicely) that’s enough for the pin at 9:25. That was solid and featured some nice psychology, but it felt more like something that could have happened on TV. I remember marks on the internet freaking out about Punk jobbing clean here, but I’m pretty sure he wound up okay.
MATCH #4: “I Quit” Match – Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy
The younger Hardy is the aggressor early on, trying to pay his older brother back for costing him the WWE Title and beating him at WrestleMania. They take it to the floor pretty quickly, and Jeff uses the ring steps to jump off and wipe out his brother against the security wall. Back in the ring it’s all Jeff working over his older brother Matt. Jeff puts on a sleeper, but Matt still won’t quit. Matt counters by dropping Jeff’s chin on the top turnbuckle. Jeff climbs up top and Matt shoves him to the floor, but Jeff won’t quit yet either. Matt joins his brother on the floor and rams Jeff’s leg into the ring post twice. Back in the ring Matt locks on the Figure-Four Leglock, but Jeff refuses to quit. Matt continues attacking the leg, once again locking on a Figure-Four, but this time Jeff reverses it and Matt won’t quit. The elder Hardy reaches the ropes, and he’s still in better shape than his brother, so he goes right back to work on the leg. The crowd seems to be distracted with something else, which is always a bummer for the guys in the ring. Anyway, Matt sets Jeff up on the top rope, and Jeff knocks him down and hits the Whisper in the Wind. They get back to their feet and Jeff slugs away, and then he hits his reverse enziguiri. Now Jeff goes after Matt’s leg, locking him in a sort of Texas Cloverleaf, and Matt taps out but he won’t say “I Quit.” Matt gets to the ropes, so Jeff breaks the hold, probably out of habit. Jeff tries a Twist of Fate, and they blow it, so they redo the spot and Jeff hits the move. He goes up top and hits the Swanton Bomb, but Matt still won’t quit, so Jeff hits another one. Jeff then goes to the floor and produces a table. Matt rolls to the floor to avoid the table, but Jeff hits a nice Twist of Fate instead. Back in the ring Jeff sets Matt on the table, and goes back under the ring for some duct tape and rope. Jeff duct tapes his brother’s legs and arms together, and then uses the rope to tie him to the table. Then he goes outside the ring again and brings in a ladder! He takes the shirt off so the girlies can scream, and starts climbing the ladder. Matt is completely helpless, duct taped and tied to the table, so he apologizes to his younger brother, tells him he loves him, pleads with him not to listen to the people, says that their mother and father would not approve, and then says “I Quit” to end the match at 19:06. I like the lengths that Jeff went to in order to get back at his brother. The finish was reminiscent of John Cena versus JBL from 2005, but I think it worked in the context of this story too. This was about on par with their WrestleMania match.
Great Khali Kiss Cam with Santina Marella
This abomination of a segment leads to an impromptu match for the Miss WrestleMania crown, with Beth Phoenix challenging. Santina takes advantage of Khali bopping Beth on the head by calling for the bell and literally getting the win in 0:03. This segment would have been irritating on free TV, but on pay-per-view it’s inexcusable.
MATCH #6: Six-Man Tag Team Match for the WWE Championship – Triple H, Batista & Shane McMahon vs. Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase
Triple H has been the champion since 2.15.09, and this is his second defense. I guess Shane McMahon gets to be involved in every six-man tag team match that’s also for the WWE Title. The good guys attack right away and Triple H takes Orton up the aisle and seemingly disposes of him. The referee forces DiBiase and Rhodes to start the match in a three-on-two situation. The commentators don’t really make much of a big deal out of that. Batista and Rhodes start the match proper. If either Rhodes or DiBiase scores the pin, Orton will win the title, and if Shane or Batista scores the pin, Triple H will retain the title. Obviously Rhodes gets worked over pretty harshly in the opening minutes. DiBiase gets the same treatment, as it’s all babyfaces for a while. Batista takes the fight to DiBiase on the floor, and Orton comes back from out of nowhere and rams Batista into the steel ring post. Orton tags into the match officially and goes to work on Batista. The entire Legacy trio goes after the Animal’s head, and Orton hits the rope-assisted DDT (give that thing a name; in fact, there are many wrestling moves hanging around that need names) for two. DiBiase grinds away with a headlock, which Batista breaks with a belly-to-back suplex. They stop Batista from making a tag initially, but the next time he’s able to tag Shane as Orton tags Rhodes. Shane quickly takes it to the floor and starts rearranging the announce table, but DiBiase breaks that up. Back in the ring Shane hits an elbow off the top rope for two, as DiBiase pulls him to the floor and Orton whips him into the steel steps knees-first. Rhodes tags Orton to make him the legal man, and he commences working Shane over. Rhodes and DiBiase get their shots in too, as Legacy displays some impressive teamwork. I like the story of Triple H having to stand on the apron and watch his title being defended for him. Legacy keeps Shane isolated for many minutes, working him over in their half of the ring and making sure he doesn’t make the tag. DiBiase puts Shane in the Million Dollar Dream, but Shane escapes it and hits a DDT. Both men are down, and DiBiase makes the first tag to Orton, and then Shane makes the hot tag to the WWE Champion Triple H! The Game is on fire, pitching Rhodes and DiBiase to the floor, and nailing Orton with a huge spinebuster for two. Batista takes the battle to DiBiase on the floor, while Rhodes breaks up a Pedigree attempt with a DDT on the Game. Shane clotheslines Rhodes to the floor, leaving just Orton and Triple H in the ring. Somehow Triple H and Orton are both down in the ring, while Rhodes cracks Shane with a chair on the floor. Orton and Triple H rise, and Orton tries the RKO, which Triple H reverses to a Pedigree attempt. Triple H then sees Batista about to use a chair on the floor, and he stops him because a DQ in this case would result in a title change. The confusion leads to Orton hitting an RKO for a very near fall – so near in fact that the bell rings, but rest assured the match is not over yet. Seconds later Orton hits the Punt Kick to score the pin and win the WWE Championship at 22:49. The heat segments felt a little long, but overall the match was a fun chaotic brawl.
MATCH #7: Last Man Standing Match for the World Heavyweight Championship – John Cena vs. Edge
Cena has been the champion since 4.5.09, and this is his first defense. The crowd is hot for the start of this one. They start pretty slowly, and counter each other’s signature moves, since they’ve battled so many times in the past three years. Edge gets the early advantage and gets ac couple of counts on Cena, but of course not a 10-count just yet. Last Monday on Raw Edge gave Cena a con-chair-toe, so they’re playing up Cena’s head trauma for this one. Edge locks Cena in a sleeper hold, but that can’t keep Cena down. In fact Cena fires up with one of his signature comebacks, and he tries the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Edge avoids it and locks on a Sharpshooter. That’s still not enough to keep Cena down for a 10-count, so Edge takes it to the floor, sets Cena’s head on the steel steps, and then misses a charge and rams his shoulder into the steel. Edge recovers and whips Cena into a different set of steps. Cena makes it back to his feet and this time he whips Edge into the steps. They go back to the ring, and Cena brings the steps with him. Unfortunately for Cena, that gave Edge time to recover, and he kicks Cena square in the face. Edge then uses the steps to his own advantage, ramming them into Cena and then dropkicking them into Cena’s body. Cena won’t stay down, so Edge charges and gets dumped over the ropes and to the floor. The champion then grabs the steps and whips them over the ropes and right into Edge’s face. Somehow Edge makes it back to the ring and they trade blows. Surprisingly the crowd is more in support of Edge at this point. Both competitors knock each other out with punches. They get back up and go for big moves, but it’s Edge hitting a belly-to-back suplex to take Cena down. Cena recovers and locks on the STF, and Edge taps out but it doesn’t matter in this Last Man Standing match. That doesn’t work so Cena tries the Attitude Adjustment, but Edge slips out and hits a Spear. Edge goes up top and Cena meets him up there for a Super Attitude Adjustment! Both men are down and the referee starts the count. Cena gets up before Edge, who barely gets up at the count of nine. The champ goes up to the top rope for the flying something, and Edge catches him out of the air with a Spear. They take the battle to the floor and onto the announce table, where Cena delivers the Attitude Adjustment onto a bunch of “fans.” Edge makes it back up at nine, and tries to run away through the concourse of the arena. Cena will have none of that, of course, and they fight through the arena floor. They make it to the entrance area, and Edge hits an Edgecution on the steel. Edge finds a chair and wallops Cena with it, and then hits him again in the head, but still can’t get the 10-count. The challenger tries a Spear, but Cena catches him in the Attitude Adjustment. Unfortunately for the champion, the Big Show comes out and delivers a thunderous Chokeslam through one of the searchlights in the entrance area. That’s enough to keep Cena down for the 10-count and give Edge his ninth World Title at 28:24. I’m not a huge fan of the finish, but the match was terrific, with all kinds of cool spots and brutality. Edge and Cena just have excellent chemistry together, and this match proved it.