IC Title: Carlito vs. Ric Flair
Carlito, again, looked solid in there. His timing and execution seems spot on and he continues to show me that he has what it takes to be an important player on the roster. The ending, however, wasn’t to my liking. Those of you who read my preview will know that I desperately didn’t want to see a title change but not only did we get that, we also got a clean victory for Flair. If Carlito was going to lose the belt, I think some kind of classic Flair cheap tactic may have worked.
Following the match we saw a fairly pointless promo from Flair, especially considering he mentioned Triple H, which really didn’t make sense as he was in the babyface role. After that we saw several skits with Flair and the girls he took to the back. All of which was pointless and the exposing of Flair’s ass on TV for an extended period of time did nothing for this writer.
Trish and Ashley vs. Torrie and Victoria
Big Show vs. Gene Snitsky
This match was about the same length as I expected, and it was pretty much of the same quality. Nothing special here, and this was merely just a glorified Raw match. I liked the symmetry to close the feud out with Big Show using the bell on Snitsky.
Shelton Benjamin vs. Kerwin White
This match was a little shorter than I expected, and a little disappointing as well. It seemed to entertain in fits and starts. The odd moment here and there was good, but then it went back in to a lull with Chavo having to play to his knee character with needless stomps and goofy mannerisms. Chavo’s far too athletic for that, and I’m positive that a Chavo Guerrero vs. Shelton Benjamin match would have got a far better reaction from the crowd, and a far more natural performance from Guerrero. Sadly, that was the case last night as circumstance (or bad gimmicks) struck a negative blow for this contest.
Steel Cage Match: Matt Hardy vs. Edge
I liked how they played off of previous incidents in the feud, with Edge laying the boots in to Hardy and genuinely creating a concern amongst Hardy’s supporters that the contest might be brought to a close once again through a referee stoppage. It also allowed the commentators and Hardy himself to nicely back up the motto that Hardy seems to make his mission statement nowadays: ‘Matt Hardy Will Not Die’.
I hated how JR called the side-effect a ‘take down’. JR wouldn’t call the FU a ‘Death Valley Driver’, nor would he call the Rock Bottom a ‘Samoan Drop’ or a ‘take down’. The side-effect is a signature move of Hardy, JR, so sell it like it is one. The wrestlers certainly did, as they teased at a side-effect from the top rope earlier in the match and, after Hardy had nailed one in the middle of the ring, he later hit one from the top rope to the delight of the fans in attendance.
Lita then got involved and that sent the fans in to a frenzy even more so. She got what was coming to her and I can proudly say that I marked out like a ten year old when the twist-of-fate was delivered. It feels good to have that kind of reaction to a wrestling match every once in a while. I think everybody should be entitled to it. Hardy survived a late scare or two, and then recovered to deliver a Team Extreme style moment that sent the place bananas. It was executed perfectly, and it topped off a fantastic contest with plenty of emotion and drama. The perfect ending to all of this… or is it?
Tag Team Titles: Hurricane and Rosey vs. Cade and Murdoch
Hurricane certainly sold it very well. He didn’t lay out flat afterwards, but remained in an unorthodox position, with his left arm seemingly numb. It was very well sold, almost to the point where it became a concern. However, the lack of officials coming to his aid in quick time soon revealed it was part of the match. Hurricane returned to lose a match which was a decent affair. I think it dragged during some parts when Rosey was fighting on his own, like nobody was sure what was coming next. However, it was a decent contest, which came at a point in the card where this sort of match was needed, and best appreciated.
Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Masters
I liked how Masters carried the match in the middle portion of the contest. When I say carried, I don’t mean that he carried Michaels, I mean how he responded to being the one to dictate the pace. When you’re in control of a match, all the selling in the world won’t help you if you’re making the wrong decisions in there. Masters didn’t seem to make a wrong call. He seemed to keep things fairly interesting, and he introduced rest holds that were meaningful. The torture racks et al didn’t seem like rest holds, but genuine submissions that were continuing the story of the match.
That story was, of course, leading to the Master Lock, and whether Michaels could break it. Once it was locked in, I think everyone was expected the break to occur. However, I liked the alternative that the WWE threw our way with Michaels escaping over the top rope. I thought that Masters had it locked in as Michaels came off the top rope, but he didn’t quite synch it in, and Michaels got the superkick in for the victory in what was an entertaining battle. I liked the story they told, and whether they both move to a new feud or not, this was a decent payoff to some extensive investment.
WWE Title: John Cena vs. Kurt Angle
Angle, once again, came across as a mean bastard, especially with the addition of that gum shield, which makes him seem a scary kind of intense. After Cena got trapped in the ankle lock, he sold the effects very well, and it made Angle seem more like a shark smelling blood; as if the kill wasn’t far away. The referee bump wasn’t pleasing to see, but I suppose it became necessary for the finish.
In my preview column I said that I expected Cena to retain, but lose via a DQ, and that’s exactly how it turned out to be. In my opinion, despite how much I may be outnumbered in this belief, it was the correct way to end the match. Angle couldn’t lose via a pinfall as that would kill all the build up and moment he has got as a vicious, unbeatable son of a gun right now, yet it also keeps the belt on a champion who probably has a bit more mileage as the poster boy of the WWE, despite what feelings one may have about his in-ring abilities.
The after match activities were probably there to send the fans home happy more than anything so that they could have some sort of exclamation point on the night. The referee raising Cena’s arm annoyed me, because he didn’t win. Cena’s music playing also got to me a bit. I suppose I’m too old school for those kind of things. That would never have happened back in the day. A decent contest, but it didn’t hit the heights of No Way Out.
Not a bad PPV, and plenty of positives to take from the night, but the good wasn’t supported by anything that resembled PPV quality. There’s still far too much mediocrity on these brand exclusive PPVs for me.
Until next time,