We all know that wrestling, while scripted, is still an athletic, demanding and sometimes dangerous form of entertainment. Tonight was one of those moments that illustrated that.
During the match, after having lost the first fall to Phoenix in the two-out-of-three match, Michelle appeared to be getting the upper hand and climbed to the top turnbuckle only to have Phoenix hit the top rope to knock Michelle down. Those of us who watch wrestling have seen this happen many times. Unfortunately, tonight’s maneuver did not go well.
As Michelle began to fall, rather than making the usual “straddle” of the top turnbuckle, her legs caught the top rope sending her toppling forward and into a hard face-first impact on the mat. It became obvious quickly that Michelle was unresponsive and possibly facing a serious problem. The referee could be heard telling Phoenix, “This is it, this is it, make the pin.” (Forgive me if I’m off on the exact wording.)
Then in one of the big “stupid moments” of the night, Phoenix dragged Michelle clear of the corner by her hair to make the pin. Um – do they not include some “dos” and “don’ts” in wrestling school concerning injured comrades? A wrestler has fallen hard on their head at an angle that could possibly result in a neck injury, and we drag her out by the hair. Smart, Phoenix. But I digress.
After a few moments, Michelle had regained consciousness and even sat up for a few moments. Still appearing a bit woozy, she was laid back down and an ambulance crew was called for who then back-boarded and neck-braced Michelle and transported her to a local hospital.
According to WWE.com, it was determined that she had suffered a cracked clavicle, an injury that will put her out of action for six to eight weeks. As this Take was written, however, further tests were still being conducted to determine if there were any other injuries.
As fans who benefit from these performers putting it on the line, let’s keep our thoughts with Candice Michelle as she recovers and hope that the injuries are limited to the clavicle.
On to the rest of the show!
Headlining tonight’s show are the WWE Champion, Randy Orton, and his three possible opponents for Cyber Sunday: Shawn Michaels, Mr. Kennedy and Jeff Hardy.
In a new move for Sean O’Mac’s Take, however, you’ll also find them in The Downsiders. We’ll get to that later.
The show opened with Kennedy standing in the middle of the ring, arms crossed, looking like a man who owned the place. He then did his signature mic reach and proceeded to cut a pretty good promo for the Cyber Sunday match.
Campaigning for votes to put him in the title bout, he evaluated his competition for the spot. Kennedy compared Hardy to Hillary Clinton, saying both had no testicles; and Shawn Michaels to Rudy Guiliani, both talk tough and have impressive resumes, but both are living in the past.
He then talked up his victories over former champions such as Rey Mysterio, Batista and The Undertaker, spoke of winning the Money in the Bank, and wrapped by paraphrasing another politician of the same name: “Ask not what Mr. Kennedy can do for you, but what each and every one of you can do for Mr. Kennedy.”
Hardy called out to Kennedy from the crowd, saying that by standing out with all the fans he could tell that Kennedy’s approval rating “sucks.” After a few more derogatory comments about Kennedy, Hardy takes his own poll of the crowd: How many think he should kick Kennedy’s ass right now.
Well, the brawl begins, then enter Orton to double-team Hardy. Then, of course, out comes HBK who promptly attacks Orton. Hardy puts Kennedy out over the top rope with a clothesline, and the starting segment for tonight’s main storyline is a wrap. We’re going to get what should be a great main event: HBK and Hardy vs. RKO and Mr. Kennedy.
As the night continues, we have segments with both sets of partners. While all seem intent on winning the tag match later in the night, it becomes clear that no partner in this match should turn his back on the other.
This storyline was written up well. The suspense is building as we head for the next PPV. Will the teams hold through the match? Who will be the first to turn on their partner to make a statement?
And thus we move on to:
What should have been one of the best matches in recent Raw history had its good moments, but also bore some uncharacteristic foul-ups that I’m sure left all four Superstars with a bad taste in their mouths.
The look of irritation from HBK made it clear that he had that taste early on.
He began the match against Kennedy with the usual lock-up, with Kennedy pushing Michaels to the corner to land a kick to the midsection followed by some hard rights. Michaels then grabbed Kennedy, threw him in the corner and landed some hard knife-edge chops.
The first bad move came soon, as HBK went for – and completely missed – a neckbreaker on Kennedy. This could have been overcome quickly, however Kennedy chose to sell the neckbreaker as though he had felt its effects. Bad move made worse.
Hardy tags in and keeps the upper hand until he misses a big splash in the corner, giving Kennedy the chance to tag Orton. Orton managed to keep momentum for the most part, but after a tag to Kennedy, Hardy finally managed to get the Showstopper back in the action.
HBK went to town on Kennedy, hitting an inverted atomic drop followed by a scoop slam. RKO began to interfere with Michaels’ effort to head for the top rope, but was quickly dropped by HBK. The distraction, however, opened the door for Kennedy to regain the upper hand. Orton is tagged in and dives on HBK with some hard fists and, despite an effort to fight his way up, HBK couldn’t regain the advantage and Kennedy was again tagged into the match.
Next bad move: Kennedy starts to go for an abdominal stretch, but didn’t quite grab HBK’s arm and it almost looked as thought Michaels was handing him his arm for the move.
Well, let’s move on. HBK and RKO are in the match when both get tags to their respective partners. Hardy hits some high-impact moves, but Orton breaks up the near-fall. He’s quickly put out of the ring by Michaels, who then takes an over-the-top dive to finish Orton off. Meanwhile, Hardy nails Kennedy with the Whisper in the Wind, heads up top and after fighting off an interception from Kennedy nails the Swanton for the win.
The match did end on a nicely timed move, however. Orton was back in the ring preparing to hit an RKO on a celebrating Hardy and, just as he locked it in and turned, Michaels took his head off with some Sweet Chin Music.
As I said earlier, this was a great storyline heading into the Cyber Sunday PPV. Problem is, what should have been a spectacular match with four great talents seemed at times to lack chemistry. It was just as though the four had some bad timing here and there.
Granted, the bulk of this match was pretty good. But I guarantee you that none of them were happy with the match when they walked away that night.
We’re all human and all make mistakes. Unfortunately for these men, when mistakes are made they are on a grand stage. Obvious mistakes quickly overshadow what could otherwise be a good performance.
Problem is, with men in the ring like Michaels, Hardy, Kennedy and Orton, expectations will naturally be higher than usual. Though I will always look forward to more from each of them, this match didn’t live up to those expectations.
Well, I’ve already taken a lot of room up tonight, so I’ll be short with the High-Fliers section. It may surprise some of my readers out there when I do this, but I’m giving the kudo tonight to Candice Michelle and Beth Phoenix.
No, it’s not a sympathy vote because of the injury.
In their 2-out-of-3 falls match for the title, before the injury to Michelle cut things short, I believe I was honestly seeing one of the better matches divas have put on in quite some time.
It was speed vs. power, with Phoenix showing her strength early as she picked Michelle up by the head, raised her high, then slammed her to the mat to pick up the first pin.
During the second-fall segment, despite being held in a leg-submission move similar to a Boston crab for a bit, Michelle started showing some good offense, getting more than a couple of near falls on Phoenix before the match took the serious turn that led Michelle to the hospital.
– Paul London, Brian Kendrick and Mickie James took on Lance Cade, Trevor Murdoch and Melina. The faces won this bout, but an interesting twist ended things as Cade was charging for a clothesline and Murdoch shoved James out of the way and took the blow himself. Cade was obviously angry with his partner, while a perplexed James mouthed the words “thank you” to Murdoch as her team headed up the ramp.
– Cody Rhodes, after a nice backstage exchange of insults with Shelton Benjamin, won his match against the blonde one while continuing to show improvement in his in-ring mechanics. Charlie Haas and Benjamin double-teamed Rhodes after the match, and Hardcore Holly ran out to make the save. Afterwards, a nod of approval from Holly to Rhodes affirmed that respect had been won. Expect the “World’s Greatest Tag Team” to take on Holly and Rhodes soon.
– Coach, convincing GM William Regal he’d be doing the boss a favor, talks Regal into setting up a match between Hornswoggle and Umaga. Hornswoggle showed up for the bout, but quickly fled and was replaced by HHH. A good old-fashioned 50-people-can’t-separate-us brawl ensued, pumping up the Cyber Sunday match between the rivals.
– The son of the late British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith, D.H. Smith, debuted in a match against Carlito, dedicating his first match to his father. The kid looked pretty decent and picked up the win – I’ll be wanting to see more of him before I make a verdict however.
– Santino Marella came out with Maria and a copy of the 500th edition of WWE Magazine. He pointed out that Stone Cold Steve Austin was mentioned in the issue “like 283 times,” whereas Marella was not mentioned at all. Marella was interrupted during his promo, however. (We’ll get to that.) Once he resumed, he basically told SCSA that “if you ever come mess with me, I’m gonna open up a can of ass whip so big…” yada yada yada. Begin match with Ron Simmons and, after a few minutes, Santino is disqualified for landing a low-blow kick putting Simmons down. Damn!
– Marella was interrupted by the latest version of the SAVE_US promo. Many familiar parts flashed by, but along with SAVE_US.222 and SAVE_US.229, a new one appeared: SAVE_US.X29. Hmm. We all know (we’re pretty sure anyways) what this is leading to, and tonight’s actual interruption was a nice tease. I thought for sure we were going to see someone come out this time. But it will be nice to finally have some understanding of what all this promo stuff means.
Don’t like my take? Let’s hear yours! Send me your e-mails to email@example.com … the best and worst of the bunch may be featured in the weekly editions of Sean Oâ<80><99>Macâ<80><99>s Pullinâ<80><99> No Punches (found in the editorial section). Remember, short ones are good, long ones may be cut, and keep the name of the column in mind when you come looking for answers!