It started off with CM Punk and Kane teaming up to take on Deuce and Domino. Punk and Kane aren’t a tag team wrestling fan’s team, but this match was to show they could get the job done in the ring. (They’re facing Mark Henry / Big Daddy V in a tag bout at Armageddon.) Punk & Kane defeated Deuce and Domino, without too much trouble. The finish came with a simultaneous chokeslam / go 2 sleep on the two greasers. Well done.
Up next was John Morrison and The Miz vs. Jimmy Wang Yang and Shannon Moore. This was the match of the night, hands down. Moore is wearing a cowboy hat, now, and he and Yang look like a legit tag team. I’m really liking this.
The match itself went through a commercial break. The break occurred after Moore and Yang hit a pair of asai moonsaults on their opponents. Now THAT’s good broadcasting, and it made me want to see what would happen after the break. Turns out, Morrison and Miz had to steal one. They should, after all, be stealing wins against talented babyface teams.
I really expected this match to just be standard fare, and for Yang / Moore to get little out of it, but both teams seem to be stronger for having had this match. In fact, Smackdown and ECW would both do well to feature Yang and Moore as a tag team more often.
Shelton Benjamin gave a backstage interview about him being the “gold standard.” I liked this, as well. Granted, it was a little silly, with Shelton giving us a history lesson on the 1849er’s of California to make a metaphor for his title quest. Still, his delivery was passionate and didn’t feel overly rehearsed or tacky.
I’m beginning to think Shelton gets nervous with a live mic, due to how good his backstage segments usually are. They should just let him do his talking there until he gets a bit more comfortable. And I’d personally change the “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Me Now” catchphrase, but we’ll see if catches on or not. Anyway, much, much better verbage from ECW’s newest star, this week.
Kelly Kelly faced Layla and Victoria in a handicapped match. Kelly is consistently getting better and better in the ring. Layla still needs a little work, though. That kick she used to end the match is kind of a weak finisher, but I’m guessing the move was assigned to her. Layla and Victoria by pinfall. Michelle McCool came out for the save after the match setting up, I guess, an upcoming tag match between the four of them.
Backstage interview with Big Daddy V, Mark Henry, and Matt Striker. Another very well done pre-taped bit. Striker is a great mouthpiece for these two guys, and both V and Henry did a good job putting their two cents in – singling out Kane and Punk, respectively, for the PPV tag match. Striker wrapped things up for them, and we’re actually believing that we’re seeing something huge develop with this faction. Now, if only they’d get Striker back in the ring…
Main event time. Elijah Burke made note of Batista defeating him on last week’s Smackdown, but swore that wouldn’t be the case tonight. We’re in ECW, which is his yard. Awesome, well-delivered promo that made us believe – just maybe – Burke would have a shot against Batista tonight…as long as Edge interfered in the match, of course.
Well, Edge didn’t interfere, but Burke definitely held his own against “The Animal.” And it was an entertaining match, to boot. Dare I say, this may have been Batista’s best match all year with anyone not named Undertaker. Burke went for the Elijah Experience, but Batista countered with the spear for the pinfall. Burke looked tough, and Batista definitely got more over, here, going into Armageddon.
And now I’ll rate this week’s show. Almost all cylinders were firing here. The backstage interviews are great for a few reasons. They make wrestlers more at ease, they allow for retakes and, surprisingly, add an air of vintage ECW to a program which has almost zilch to do with it, anymore. On the original product, most interviews were done backstage, without a visible microphone – which gave them a unique intensity. This is how most ECW promos should be done, in my opinion.
The matches tonight were all solid. The second tag match was very exciting, and everything on the show helped to get an angle over. The main event angle which I complained about last week has gotten ECW a highly visible match at Armageddon, so I’ll reserve my previous skepticism until after the show.
The 12/11 ECW gets an 8.5. 8.5 will be the new ratings benchmark here – when a show isn’t exactly one for the ages, but everything was done totally right. In my opinion, tonight’s show definitely did everything right, and it should be applauded.