We begin tonight with Tommy Dreamer vs Colin Delaney in an Extreme Rules match. For once I would like to see an actual extreme rules match on ECW instead of the usual squash matches that have been the last few “extreme rules” bouts. I remember back in the early days of ECW on Sci-Fi when there was one extreme rules match per show. This was a great idea. It didn’t overdo the gimmick by having every match contested under extreme rules, but it made the ECW brand unique from the other two. That said, the extreme rules match tonight was decent, albeit predictable. Colin Delaney got little offense in on Dreamer and in the end was squashed with a DDT. I really have no idea where Delaney goes from here. He’s been beaten by everyone, even ECW’s resident jobber Tommy Dreamer beat him quickly, so what does creative do with him now? I say either make him a smarmy heel manager, or add to him to the Braden Walker list. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give this opening bout 4.5 Stars.
Following the match we cut backstage where Lena Yada interviews The Miz and Morrison. Not much to say here, it was a short, unremarkable promo that worked mostly as filler.
Back from commercial break and a phenomenal Smackdown replay video package aired highlighting Edge’s turn to insanity in the past two weeks. We then head to the ring where in singles action we have Evan Bourne vs Bam Neely. Once again Bourne steals the show by dominating Neely, who although is a big guy, just couldn’t compete with the high flier’s speed. This is the first time we’ve had a chance to see Neely on his own and I have to say I was less than impressed. In fairness I can’t be too hard on him since the match wasn’t long enough and was mostly controlled by Bourne, but Neely has a unique look that he shouldn’t let go to waste. He’s big enough to be a “big man wrestler,” but not so big that he’s a super-heavyweight. Therefore I’d like to see him work a style that’s more reminiscent of Vladimir Kozlov as opposed to hitting typical big man moves. It would freshen up not only his matches but the ECW brand as well considering there’s no one on the show like him. 5.5 Stars.
We then head to the back where Teddy Long keeps his promise to Armando Estrada by officially signing his contract. Long then tells Estrada that his first match as a contracted wrestler will be against Finlay. Once again I like that creative is booking Finlay in singles matches and leaving Hornswoggle out of the ring. I like Horny as an accessory to Finlay as opposed to a tag partner, so I’m pleased with the direction he seems to be going in. This brings us to our match tonight, Finlay vs Armando Estrada. This was a solid match, although I have a similar problem with Estrada that I have with Bam Neely. He has to step up his in-ring game because at this point all I have ever seen him do is offer standard offense. These guys have to look at wrestlers like Evan Bourne and ask themselves, “why is this guy getting over so well so quickly?” Simple answer; Bourne is innovative. I haven’t heard this guy speak more than 2 words, he has no gimmick, no “character,” he’s just an innovative wrestler. That’s why it works. These guys coming in as part of the talent initiative need to show the viewers that they bring something different and unique to the ring, because if they all look the same, then you really only need one of them. 6 Stars.
After a commercial break, we head back to the locker room where…Mark Henry speaks! In a solid backstage segment Henry told Hardy that he wants him in his way tonight so that he can run through him just like he will at Summerslam. Good stuff. I haven’t warmed up to Henry in the ring at all since he’s been champ, but his promo work has been very good.
It’s now time for our main event of the evening, a tag match featuring Matt Hardy and Mark Henry vs The Miz and John Morrison. What I didn’t like about the booking of this match was that it too closely mirrored what happened on Raw just one night earlier with Batista and Cena. The match itself was good, but Matt looked like an idiot in the end. His back was beaten up, Henry was fresh, so if I were Matt I would have gotten the hell out of Dodge instead of allowing Henry to raise my hand after the match was over. Hardy was just told minutes before the bout that Henry wanted to run through him, so why would he trust him to simply congratulate him at the end of the match? That aside, the match was good and did a nice job of promoting an already well booked angle between Hardy and Henry. 6.5 Stars.
Overall, this was a mediocre show. Nothing extraordinary, but a couple good matches with some good steam heading into the ECW title bout at Summerslam. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give tonight’s edition of ECW 5.5 stars.
-Did anyone else notice the announce team say “some of them never to be seen again” when talking about the talent initiative? Nice little Braden Walker dig there, and I suppose a decent way to put over the competitiveness of pro wrestling.
-Ricky Ortiz is flat out annoying. I’m not sure what they’re trying to do with this guy, because it seems they’re pushing him as a face given Teddy and Tiffany’s reactions to him, but he’s so pretentious and obnoxious that I’m not sure why any fan would like him. I’m guessing they’re going for the “lovable goofball” thing with him, but to me he just comes off as a moron.
-Mike Knox’s beard is starting to grow into Kane’s burlap bag.
-Striker was fantastic again tonight. WWE seems to have a sturdy team in place for the likely departure of Mick Foley.
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