Friday, September 30, 2011

WWE SmackDown 9/30/11

WWE SmackDown 9/30/11
September 30th, 2011
Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Well it's Friday again and you know what that means---pay day! Well, that, plus it's time once again for another edition of WWE SmackDown on SyFy. We're only two days away from the Hell in a Cell PPV this Sunday so odds are this will be the usual somewhat low-key hard sell show before a PPV. After an extremely disappointing show last week, let's hope they can rebound nicely tonight.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews

We open the show tonight with Booker T making his way out to the ring to a nice ovation to kick off the show with a special interview with the World Heavyweight champion Mark Henry. The World's Strongest Man makes his way out to the ring moments later with a mic and the interview is on. Booker starts off with a glowing congratulations for Henry's title win, but Mark isn't having any of it. He asks Booker how he can kiss his ass and insult him in the same sentence, and Booker tells him that if he were to insult Mark, he'd know it. The image of Booker T with reading glasses as the authority figure here is somewhat surreal. Henry calls out Randy Orton next, his opponent at Hell in a Cell and goes into the usual "Hall of Pain" spiel before threatening to basically decapitate Randy and end his career. Booker starts getting a bit testy with Mark, asking him what he'll do when Randy tries the RKO on him. Mark shrugs it off and says simply "He can't beat me". He promises to beat Orton on Sunday as well as the Great Khali here tonight, which segues us nicely into our opening match.

Mark Henry (8-7) vs. The Great Khali (3-6)

These two were supposed to wrestle on RAW this week, but Henry jumped Khali before the match and it never happened. Khali is hot (or as "hot" as Khali gets) to start with big punches and chops to Henry, taking him down with a giant tomahawk chop. Another big tomahawk chop gets Khali a close two count. Back on their feet Henry tosses Khali into the corner and lays in some boots on him. He drags Khali to the center of the ring and splashes him, but Khali kicks out at two. Never fear as Henry gives him the World's Strongest Slam moments later and this one is mercifully over at 2:50. I can literally sum up the entire play-by-play of this match in one sentence: chop, chop, slam, slam, 3 count. It does a good job of putting Henry over as a monster though. 1/2*

After the match Henry isn't done with Khali though. He grabs a steel chair and slams it into a grounded Khali, wrapping it around his leg and delivering a Vader Bomb to the entangled leg of Khali in the chair. Referees rush to the ring to help out an injured Khali as Henry takes off to the back and we cut to commercial. When we return we see Jinder Mahal backstage yelling at Khali on a stretcher until Teddy Long walks in to separate them.

Evan Bourne (2-1) vs. Jack Swagger (6-4)

These two have pretty decent chemistry together, so this ought to be good while it lasts. Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler are at ringside with Jack while Bourne has Kofi Kingston ins his corner. Swagger starts off quickly at the bell with big right hands a towering back suplex on Bourne. Bourne fires back with a few roundhouse kicks and tries for a hurricanrana, but Swagger catches him in mid-air and slams him to the mat with a devastating sidewalk slam. Bourne gets right back up though and hits a dropkick and a few more spinkicks before taking Swagger down with a floating knee strike for a two count. Vickie gets up on the ring apron and distracts the ref briefly so that Ziggler can get a cheap shot in on Bourne and set him up for Swagger's gut-wrench powerbomb. Bourne escapes the gut-wrench though and he climbs to the top rope to attempt the Air Bourne. Vickie crotches Evan though while the ref is busy with Kofi and Ziggler at ringside, which allows Swagger to apply the ankle lock on Bourne, who taps out quickly at 2:33. Way too short considering what these two are capable of, but it was certainly an exciting and chaotic two and a half minutes. *1/2

"Good" Sin Cara (16-3) vs. Heath Slater (4-20...heh)

We get plenty of footage before the match of the two different Sin Cara's squaring off last week on Smackdown, and they discuss the Sin Cara vs. Sin Cara match at the PPV this Sunday. For all intents and purposes, this is the "good" version of Sin Cara here, all happy babyface high-fives and everything. Is it just me or does Heath Slater's music get slightly worse with each passing week? Slater fires off a few right hands to start and Sin Cara springboards his ass right into Slater's face in a possibly botched spot before hitting Slater with a handspring back elbow off the ropes moments later. Cara hits a towering swanton bomb onto Slater moments later and that's enough for the pin at a whopping 0:43 seconds. So it would be cool if we got a match that went longer than two minutes at some point tonight guys. 1/4*

After the match the "evil" Sin Cara appears on the Titan Tron. He removes his blue Sin Cara mask to reveal a new badass black Sin Cara mask to go along with new swanky black tights emblazened with a large "M" over the front, to officially christen this new, evil rudo Sin Cara. He says in English that Cara stole his identity once before as Mistico (lucha libre nerds this is your cue to mark out as the WWE is playing off of real life events between these two wrestlers who both once wrestled under the name "Mistico" or "Mystico" in this new, evil Sin Cara's case). He says it's only right that now he returns the favor, and that this Sunday we'll find out who deserves to be known as Sin Cara. Very well done segment here to try and familiarize the WWE fans with the back-story behind these two masked wrestler's real-life rivalry, but I'm not sure how well the actual match is going to go over on the PPV. We'll have to wait and see.

We get an extended video package next highlighting the rivalry and recent events between Triple H, CM Punk, and John Laurinaitis. After the video airs we cut to backstage where Johnny Ace himself is sitting with Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Vickie Guerrero, Jack Swagger, Cody Rhodes, and David Otunga. He tells the group that he's been trying to get a meeting with Triple H since Tuesday so he understands their frustrations with this new "administration". Otunga, rocking a retro bow tie and a thermos to complete his new "lawyer" gimmick, thanks John for arranging this meeting. Dolph asks "So we're all in for Monday then?" to the room and everyone mutters a word of approval in return before David interrupts to placate Laurinaitis with some more compliments about how much of a "company man" he is. John says "Let's get to work", and everyone gets up out of their seats to leave the room. Well that was one shady little meeting, are they plotting Hunter's murder or something? Guess we'll have to wait until Monday to find out what they were so esoterically talking about in this segment. I'm genuinely intrigued though, so kudos to the writers for once I guess.

Kelly Kelly (8-5) vs. Natalya (4-5)

Beth Phoenix joins the commentary table for moral support here to talk trash about Kelly. Nattie underrates Kelly from the start, as Kelly takes it to her with rapid forearms and a dropkick before Natalya clocks her with a big clothesline. She grabs a hold of Kelly's arm and twists it around her back while applying a chin-lock in a nifty submission spot, and Kelly tries to fight it off but Nattie just slams her to the mat instead. Kelly fights off a back body-drop attempt with kicks and then rolls Natalya up with the classic victory roll cradle which is somehow enough to give Kelly the "upset" win at 1:27. Beth immediately jumps Kelly after the match and gives her the Glam-Slam. Natalya locks her into the sharpshooter and Beth grabs a mic to capture the unsettling sound of Kelly screaming and crying at the top of her lungs. --Insert tasteless sexual innuendo joke about making Kelly "really" scream HERE-- Beth promises to win the title, you know the drill. The match here was actually decently put together while it lasted, but that's really all the diva's like Kelly are capable of at this point---putting together a coherent 90 second match that gets a few spots in and gets the overall "story" of the match over quickly without having to actually work a 5 or 10 minute match. *

WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Cody Rhodes
© (14-11) vs. Sheamus (11-9-1)

Cody's got a mic with hem, god bless 'em. He proceeds to inform the live audience that they are all terrible, horrible, detestable, human beings and ...oh, wait, no, he's not doing that this time. Cody goes all cowardly heel on us by seemingly being offended by the mere suggestion that Sheamus deserves a title shot against him tonight, so of course that's the cue for Sheamus to come out, expel a detrimentally witty Irish limerick, and start the match up. Both men lock up and trade corner beatdowns on one another before Sheamus starts taking over with a lariat on Rhodes. He tries to club Cody in-between the two top ropes, but Cody sees this coming and tumbles to the floor for a breather. Doesn't matter because Cody walks right into a big back body drop when he does return to the ring, followed by the clubbing forearms in-between the top ropes. Cody fires off a headbutt at Sheamus and then nails him with a big jumping knee strike for a two count as we cut to commercial break. When we return Cody is working over Sheamus' arm briefly before nailing him in the face with a dropkick for another near fall. Michael Cole informs us about all sorts of complaints being filed in the company since Triple H has become COO of the company, to build some more suspense for the big curtain reveal on Monday. A firmly planted DDT nets Cody a two count on Sheamus, who's looking ragged now. Cody slams his arm into the steel ring-post and then jumps back into the ring and locks a pestering armbar onto Sheamus that he just won't give up for a good chunk of time until Sheamus counters by tossing Rhodes shoulder-first into the steel ring post. Sheamus hits a pair of clotheslines followed by a tilt-a-whirl bodyslam and a running knee lift, and the crowd is eating all of it up. Sheamus' transition from heel to babyface has been remarkable, and he's already got himself a signature set of moves to "go home" with that the crowd recognizes and pops for accordingly. Gotta love it when the people pick the star. Sheamus nails Cody with a diving shoulder-block off the top rope, but again Rhodes kicks out. Sheamus misses the Brogue Kick and Cody goes for another springboard jumping knee, but Sheamus nails him with a double axe-handle in the face instead, but again Rhodes manages to kick out! Sheamus sets Cody up for the Celtic Cross, but Christian runs down and hops into the ring to break it up, culling the cheap DQ finish at 8:07 (shown). Christian continues the attack on Sheamus after the match. This was a simply outstanding little IC title match up until the standard DQ finish, but even that doesn't really upset me here because it advances the angle. Great effort + getting the crowd all fired up to hell = a good match, disqualification aside. ***

Zack Ryder (0-1) vs. JTG (1-5)

And now for our weekly Zack Attack fix. Thank the heavens! JTG does his usual swagger walk that every sixth grader who thinks he's tough learns to do when they're twelve and Zack is just cool as a cucumber as they lock up. JTG gets some hammer fists in while a small "Let's go Ryder" chant starts up. JTG hits a nice swinging neckbreaker for a two count, so Ryder gets back up and walks into a sick fallaway pumphandle neckbreaker (he's making shit up here as he goes along, give me a break). JTG actually looks motivated and like a real-live wrestler for once! He drives his knee into Ryder's back and works a reverse chinlock. Ryder hits a pair of shotgun knees on JTG to regain some momentum, and then he's off. Ryder hits the "Broski Boot" as Matthews calls it (your typical running facewash kick into the corner with some fist-pumping thrown in) but it only gets him a two count. Never fear as Ryder hits the Rough Ryder leg lariat moments later on JTG, and that's all she wrote at 2:56. Strange match that managed to make both guys look good as they got their moves in, but Ryder got the quick win so you're probably thinking this was a squash match, right? But it wasn't, as JTG actually showed some really nice offense for the first time I've seen in a long time so this was a very entertaining little short match to put Ryder over. **

Backstage we see Triple H walk up behind John Laurinaitis, who is texting away on his phone. Hunter mockingly apologizes to John for randomly showing up here tonight on Smackdown unannounced before noting that he's aware of John's secret meetings all week long with all of the heel wrestlers. John says he's as loyal as they come and he's behind Hunter 100%. Hunter says that's good because if he can't trust John, then he might as well just wish him well on his "future endeavors" right now before walking off as we go to commercial.

Elsewhere backstage Matt Striker is with the former champ, Randy Orton. Randy claims that no one intimidates him, not even Mark Henry. He counts nine--NINE!--staples in Cody Rhodes head as a result of their match last week before going over his past in the Hell in a Cell. Apparently he's been in three of them, my how time flies. Randy proclaims that he will end Henry's title reign this Sunday in the cell.

Randy Orton (17-7) vs. Christian (17-10)

And now we arrive at our main event tonight, another chapter in the feud of the year candidate rivalry between Randy Orton and Christian. Sah-weeeeet! Orton takes control from the get go with a waistlock followed by a headlock and a few clotheslines. Christian feigns a lock-up attempt and then hits Randy low, only to walk into a stiff shoulder-block and a lariat for a two count. Christian hits a missile dropkick off the top for another near fall and then lays in closed fists. Christian counters one of Randy's Irish whip attempts into a big spinebuster as we take a quick commercial break. When we return Christian delivers a big neckbreaker for a two count on Orton. Christian gets into Orton's face, slapping him and talking trash while he does it, but this only serves to fire up Orton. Christian's on top of his game though, and cuts Randy's comeback sequence off at the start and goes back to grinding Orton down on the mat with a chinlock. Eventually Orton breaks it up by driving Christian into the turnbuckle, and then he's all fired up and ready to go. He takes off Christian's head with a dropkick and then goes for his signature snap powerslam, but Christian sees it coming and manages to evade it long enough to walk into another slam from Orton anyways. Randy tees off on Christian in the corner with big right hands. They trade a few counter sequences in the corner and then Orton delivers the gut-wrench suplex powerbomb on Christian for another near fall. He tries for the second rope DDT but Christian fights it off and feigns another one of his signature corner moves that momentarily baffles Orton. Christian kicks out of the snap powerslam at two. Christian misses a cross-body off the top rope and Orton sizes him up for the RKO, but Christian counters with a back suplex. Christian sets up and manages to strike Orton with a huge spear that would make Edge jealous, but still Orton kicks out! Orton counters a Killswitch attempt from Christian into the second-rope DDT and Orton goes into the Viper Mode, ready to take Christian's head off with the RKO, and Christian sees this and wisely exits the ring. Orton chases him up the ramp and both men brawl with each other as the ref starts the ten count. He tosses Christian into the steel steps and then slowly stalks Christian as both men wind up getting counted out for the lousy double count-out finish at 10:56 (shown). I'll get to the post-match stuff in a moment, but damnit if we don't have ourselves yet another great TV match between Randy Orton and Christian. These guys know each other's movesets so well that they can literally just improvise new counter sequences (and counter sequences for THOSE counter sequences) at will, and the results are always solid gold. Another winner from these two chock full of intense chemistry and elaborate psychology, hell of a match until the shady finish. ***1/2

After the official match ends, Orton continues the attack on Christian, stripping the Spanish announcer's table to set up Christian for an RKO through it. Suddenly Cody Rhodes runs down to ringside though and nails Orton with a jumping knee strike. Christian and Rhodes beat down on Orton in the ring until Sheamus runs down and demolishes Rhodes with a Brogue Kick to a thunderous pop before running and chasing Christian off into the crowd. After all of this chaos finally Mark Henry makes his way down to the ring and gives him the World's Strongest Slam. Henry grabs a chair and prepares for a beatdown, but Orton is playing possum and he jumps up and RKO's Mark Henry right out of his boots!

Bottom Line: This was a total 180 degree turn from last week's show. As bad as last week's show was, this was good and even better. We got two really good little TV matches on this show in the IC title and Orton/Christian matches, some nice angle advancement for the whole Triple H/Johnny Ace angle, and the crowd was hot and into the action all night long. Really can't ask for much more than that from a weekly wrestling television show in this modern age, can we? Enthusiastic Thumbs Up tonight.

Rating: 9.0/10

Friday, September 23, 2011

WWE SmackDown 9/23/11

WWE SmackDown 9/23/11
September 23rd, 2011
Nutter Center, Dayton, Ohio
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Boy it feels like it's been awhile since I did one of these, huh? Anyways, we're a few days removed from the Night of Champions PPV where we saw two new World champions crowned, so tonight is the first official night in the title reign of one Mark Henry on Smackdown. Not much else has been advertised, so let's just jump right into the show, shall we?

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews

We open the show with Johnny "Ace" Laurinaitis in the middle of the ring, surrounded by all of the superstars from the Smackdown locker room. Plenty of heat for Johnny Ace to start with a big "You suck!" chant starting up quickly. He talks about how he respects Triple H's recent decisions and then he introduces the new World Heavyweight champion, Mark Henry. The newly crowned champ walks down to the ring and talks about how it took him fifteen years to win the big one here in the WWE and how no one believed him. He singles out Big Zeke and Teddy Long in the crowd as unbelievers but before he can get much further, Triple H's music hits and the COO makes his way out to a big pop. He walks down to the ring and tries to confront Henry, but Christian makes his way out of the crowd of people at ringside and hops into the ring with a mic of his own.

Christian sucks up to Triple H a bit, talking about how people in the locker room look up to him and how unmarketable Mark Henry will be as champion. He claims to deserve to be the face of Smackdown and of course, asks for...ONE...MORE...MATCH! Christian says after Henry chokes away the title at Hell in a Cell, he'll be around to pick up the pieces. Hunter feigns appreciation for Christian's confidence and then announces a lumberjack match as tonight's main event pitting Christian against Mark Henry for the World Heavyweight title, with the winner going on to face Randy Orton at Hell in a Cell. Just your standard opening segment to set up the show's main event, but Christian was fun to watch as always.

Sheamus vs. Heath Slater

By god it's the battle of the gingers! They lock up to start and Sheamus overpowers young Heath quickly of course. He ties Heath up in the ropes and lays in huge hammer-fists onto Slater's chest, following it up with a knee strike. Slater manages to get some offense in with a swinging neckbreaker, but he only gets a one count out of it. Slater tries working a chinlock for a bit but Sheamus breaks that up quickly only to walk into another great neckbreaker from Slater for a one count. This only serves to piss Sheamus off, as he cleans house on Slater back on his feet and just destroys him, finishing him off with the Brogue Kick at 4:31. Just a quick squash match for Sheamus but atleast they gave Slater a couple of spurts of nice offense. *1/4

Backstage we see Christian walk up to The Great Khali to try and convince him to help him out tonight in the main event lumberjack match.

Wade Barrett vs. Justin Gabriel

Well looky here, we've got ourselves a battle of former Nexus and Corre members here and the only feud that anyone really wanted to see come out of those two mediocre stables. If only this were six months ago. Barrett lays in big closed-fist punches on Gabriel to start and then lays in knee strikes to his chest. He big boots Gabriel through the ropes and out of the ring, and Barrett quickly tosses him back inside for a near fall. Gabriel sends Barrett to the floor with a hurricanrana and then wipes him out moments later with a beautiful somersault senton over the top rope! Back in the ring Gabriel hits a huge springboard moonsault off the top rope, but Barrett manages to kick out at two. Gabriel lays in some stiff kicks and takes Barrett down with an STO takedown. He heads for the top rope but Barrett big boots him and then gives him the Waste Land for the win at 2:35. Another squash match, but this was a really fun one with Gabriel zipping and flying around the ring like a pinball. **

Backstage Randy Orton is accosted by Matt Striker, and he promises to bring the World Heavyweight title with him out of the Hell in a Cell in nine days. The lack of build to this next PPV just seems absurd, especially given the Hell in a Cell's reputation as a match to end blood feuds. Elsewhere backstage Christian tries to convince Ezekiel Jackson to help him out later tonight in the main event, but he's not having any of that of course.

Natalya/Beth Phoenix vs. AJ Lee/Kaitlyn

That's a lot of hot in one ring. Natalya starts off with Kaitlyn and eats a quick dropkick from her. She tags Beth in and they give her a big double suplex. AJ tags in and nails Beth with a nice Shining Wizard, but the pinfall is broken up quickly. Natalya and Kaitlyn fight to the floor while Beth grabs little AJ and delivers the Glam Slam to finish her off at 2:04. Sheesh, are we going to get anything but squash matches tonight? 1/4*

Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes

These two work well together, but we've seen them wrestle each other on what, like 3 or 4 consecutive weeks worth of shows now? Mix it up a bit guys. Orton tosses Cody out of the ring at the bell and slams him repeatedly into the guard barrier before tossing him back inside. On his way back into the ring Cody chop blocks him in the ankle and then starts going to work on that body part. He trips Randy up and then strips the turnbuckle pad off of one of the turnbuckles and while the ref is busy putting it back on, he nails Randy behind the ref's back with his protective mask. Orton still kicks out at two though. The ref and Cody argue momentarily about why his mask is off when Orton hops back to his feet, grabs the mask out of Cody's hand, and nails him with it right in front of the ref to get DQed at 3:18. Orton continues the assault after the bell, ramming the mask into Cody's face repeatedly. I thought I had read that Cody had been busted open legit during this segment, but if he was they never showed any of it on-camera. 1/2*

Backstage Christian walks up to Sheamus with a peace offering---a potato. You racist sonofabitch Christian. He promises Sheamus the first title shot if he wins the title tonight again, and Sheamus mockingly agrees to help him.

The Great Khali vs. Jinder Mahal

And the crowd goes mild. They seem unsure of who to cheer here, not that I blame them. Khali lays in a few huge open-palm slaps on Mahal's chest but Jinder gets a few kicks in and gives him a crappy DDT and a knee-drop for a two count. Khali just gets right back up though and gives Jinder a two-handed chokeslam before placing his boot on Mahal's chest for the cocky cover and win at 2:06. I don't like or see anything in Jinder Mahal, but still, what was the point of basically burying him here? And can we get a single match tonight that isn't a 2-3 minute squash? That would be super. DUD

Sin Cara vs. Daniel Bryan

No clue if this is "Evil" or "Good" Sin Cara here tonight, but I'm sure we'll find out soon enough. Bryan takes the upper hand in the early going with a tight side-headlock. He transitions out of a headscissors submission attempt and applies the old Mexican Surfboard to Cara briefly. Cara responds with a stiff kick and a springboard diving headbutt for a nearfall, then gets right back up and walks into a sick wheelbarrow suplex from Bryan for another near fall. Cara hits a sloppy springboard back elbow that sends Bryan to the floor and then he takes him out moments later with a running hurricanrana on Bryan off the ring apron. Cara tosses Bryan back into the ring and goes to the top rope while the ref checks on DB, when suddenly Sin Cara's doppelganger runs down to the ring and tosses him off the top rope to the floor below! He takes the other Cara's place and hits a beautiful Swanton bomb on Bryan to pin him at 3:07. The old twin switcheroo, a bit of a cliche at this point but it advances the angle well enough I suppose. Match itself was another short affair that never got a chance to even get on it's feet before it was over. 1/2*

Backstage Christian walks up to Zack Ryder to compliment him about his performance on RAW this week. He asks to be the broski of the week, but Ryder says it would be a conflict of interest. Ryder gets a phone call in the middle of their conversation though and walks off as we cut to commercial.

Air Boom (Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne) vs. The Usos (Jey Uso/Jimmy Uso)

The Uso's Samoan dance is still pretty cool, even if the crowd doesn't really pop for it at all anymore. Bourne and Jey start us off with Evan laying in some big spinkicks. He tries for a springboard moonsault on both of the Usos but eats a unique spinning sidewalk slam from one of the brothers instead. The Usos go to work on Bourne in their corner, playing the quick-tag game. This lasts for about ten seconds though before Kofi's got the hot-ish tag and is hopping all over the place, taking out Samoans left and right with huge cross-bodies. Kofi sets up for Trouble in Paradise but one of the Usos distracts him while the other one takes his head off with a superkick for another near fall. Kofi tries a mid-air hurricanrana on one of the Usos but botches it pretty badly. Never fear as he nails the other Uso with the Trouble in Paradise and then tags Bourne in, who hits him with the Air Bourne for the win at 3:33. Botched 'rana aside, this was a fun little energetic sprint of a tag match. It's just too bad it was so short that they had no time to build any sort of comprehensible flow or structure to the match. *3/4

World Heavyweight Title Lumberjack Match
Mark Henry
© vs. Christian

We're left with less than ten minutes of TV time by the time the main event gets started, so don't expect much of a match here. Henry overpowers Christian with ease in the early going, tossing him into the turnbuckle and around the ring like a rag-doll. Christian gets tossed out of the ring first and Big Zeke gives him a few forearms before tossing him back into the ring. A huge press slam gets Henry a close two count, so he slaps on the dreaded nerve hold afterwards. When's the last time someone won a match with a freakin' nerve hold anyways? Texas in the 80s? Christian leaps right into Henry's arms accidentally and Henry tries squeezing the life out of him with a bear hug. Christian slips out of his grip and lays in some big right hands, but he can't take Henry down. Two huge missile dropkicks are enough to finally take Henry off his feet, but still it only nets Christian a two count. He tries for the Killswitch, but Henry blocks it with a big forearm. The fight ends up spilling out to the ringside floor, and of course the usual Pier 6 brawl breaks out with Mark Henry fighting off a crowd of people and then tossing Trent Barreta into them and wiping everyone out. Henry climbs back into the ring and Christian, seeing the destruction Henry's wreaked already, tries to run off. Sheamus walks up behind him though and tosses him into the ring where Henry immediately gives him the World's Strongest Slam to retain the title at 6:21. Match of the night here and still absolutely nothing above average to be honest. I thought they might hotshot the title back to Christian to set up the Hell in a Cell match with him against Orton, as that would obviously be the better match to book as it would certainly draw more buys and pique more people's interest than another Henry-Orton match would, but what do I know about booking? Average match to cap off a really below-average show tonight. **

After the match Randy Orton sprints down to the ring and attacks Mark Henry, trying for the RKO. Henry avoids it but gets knocked out of the ring with a dropkick as we go off the air with Orton in the ring, playing up to the crowd.

Bottom Line: What a crap show tonight. I don't think I've seen an episode of Smackdown this bad in many, many months, maybe even all year long. Nothing but short 2-3 minute squash matches, paint-by-numbers promo segments, and a decidedly average 6 minute main event that sets up a Hell in a Cell match that no one wants to actually see. Strange to see the WWE fall off their game so bad here after putting on a solid PPV this past Sunday, but man, this show just flat out sucked for the most part. You'd miss absolutely nothing if you decided to skip tonight's show, so it's an easy and somewhat rare Thumbs Down from me here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

WWE Night of Champions 2011

WWE Night of Champions 2011
September 18th, 2011
First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York
Attendance: Unknown at this time

"It's a Night You Will Never Forget"

Those are WWE's words, not mine. Hot off the heels of Summerslam we've arrived at September's PPV, this year using the Night of Champions theme and concept. So obviously we've got a ton of title matches tonight, but we've also got the return of Triple H to a WWE ring for the first time since his match against the Undertaker back at Wrestlemania this past April, up against the hottest man in the business these days, CM Punk. Doesn't look like a blow-away show or anything, but I'm expecting some solid outings, so let's start the show.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T

WWE Tag Team Title Match
Air Boom (Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne)
© vs. Awesome Truth (The Miz/R-Truth)

So I guess Miz and Truth have their own little team name as well Truth and Miz proceed to perform a remix of Truth's old theme music, replacing the chorus of "What's Up" with "You suck". Those dastardly fiends! Miz and Kofi start us off with a lock-up and Kofi quickly socks him in the face for a near fall and tags Evan in. Nice double-stomp from the top rope onto Miz by Bourne and already they're going the quick-tag route. They do a bit of Hardy Boyz-esque double team moves until Miz gets a shot in finally and tags Truth in. Truth and Miz both get sent to the floor and both members of Air Boom fly off the top rope with stereo cross-bodies to pop the crowd a bit. Back in the ring the heels go to work on Bourne in their corner, trading quick tags and grinding him into the mat with different rest-holds. Bourne tosses Truth off with a release northern lights suplex but Miz just tags back in and the isolation game continues. They do a very good job of teasing the hot tag to Kofi a few times to build up the crowd's anticipation for it, and when Kofi finally does get it they explode for him as he delivers a springboard forearm to the Miz. Kofi's the proverbial "house of fire" and goes into his usual acrobatic house-cleaning routine, capped off by the Boom Drop and the S.O.S., but Miz kicks out at two! Truth distracts Kofi back on his feet long enough for Miz to sneak up behind him and deliver what I guess could only be described as some sort of stunner/DDT combination where Miz just plants Kofi head-first into the mat from the stunner position, but somehow he still kicks out. Kofi and Bourne pull the old heel trick of slapping their hands together to make the sound of a "tag" without actually tagging behind the ref's back, and Bourne nails Miz with a spinkick. Bourne takes both of the heels out with sick jumping kicks and then he attempts the Air Bourne, but Miz moves and Bourne sees it coming, landing on his feet. Miz gives Bourne a huge implant DDT, but Kofi breaks the tag up this time. The heels tag behind the refs back but this time the ref won't allow it! My god, we've entered wrestling psychology Bizzaro World! (Bizzaro! Bizzaro!) Miz gives Bourne the Skull Crushing Finale but the ref is busy arguing with Truth so it only gets a one count. This pisses Miz off, so he shoves the ref down and the ref disqualifies his team for the cheap finish at 10:02. After the match Truth and Miz take their frustrations out on the poor ref, giving him an epic beatdown. Up until the DQ finish, this was a great opener. Fast paced, lots of solid tag-team wrestling and with a unique twist on one of the biggest cliches of the formula tag match (the fake tags behind the ref's back). Hot match. ***

Backstage Truth and Miz complain about conspiracy theories to Matt Striker and tell off Triple H.

WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Cody Rhodes
© vs. Ted DiBiase

God help me I'm actually interested in seeing this match-up. Cody's improved drastically over the last year to one of the best young heels on the roster and even Ted has started to show some life in the last few weeks working this feud with Cody. They start off with some smooth chain-wrestling sequences, trading different counters. DiBiase works an armbar on Cody and then nails him with a dropkick for a two count. Cody counters out of a back suplex and then destroys DiBiase with his leaping knee-strike, which just sounds ungodly stiff. Gourdbuster from Rhodes and he stomps away at Ted on the mat. Both men work some very impressive counter-mat wrestling, but the crowd doesn't seem to give a shit which is unfortunate because these two are actually working really well together here. Cody works an abdominal stretch on Ted for a bit and then tries a wristlock, but Ted fights it off and fires off a clothesline and finally the crowd gives him a bit of cheers for his offense. Sitout spinebuster from Ted, but Cody kicks out. Cody goes for the jumping knee again but Ted sees it coming this time and dropkicks him in the face. Ted launches Cody off the top rope and then rips off Cody's protective mask! Cody rolls him up from behind though and pulls Ted's tights to get the cheap win at 9:48. I really dislike that cliched ending, but the action through-out was really good. The only problem was that the crowd just wasn't into Ted at all so when he started to make his fiery babyface comeback, there was no heat for the finish. Really technically sound match though. **3/4

Christian's music hits all of a sudden and the former champ makes his way out to the ring in street clothes, having not been booked to wrestle on tonight's show. He enters the ring and grabs a mic from ringside and begins to talk about his legendary career in this business before getting to his usual shtick about how he deserves "one more match" for the World Heavyweight title. Christian says that whoever wins the title match between Randy Orton and Mark Henry later on should have to defend the title against him directly afterwards. Christian pulls out the old "Bills suck" shtick for some nuclear heat. Christian actually manages to convince most of the crowd to chant "One more match!" with him despite them booing the hell out of him seconds ago, but no time to dwell on that as Sheamus interrupts Christian moments later.

Sheamus enters the ring and starts spouting off more of his usual cutesy vulgar Irish anecdotes but Christian doesn't back down, continuing to demand one more match. Sheamus says that he'll help Christian get one more title match and win the title if he agrees to let Sheamus be the first person he defends it against. He helps lead the crowd in the "One more match!" chant before turning around and giving Christian the Brogue Kick for a big pop. Sheamus is so very much more interesting as a face.

WWE United States Title Fatal Four-Way Match
Dolph Ziggler
© vs. John Morrison vs. Jack Swagger vs. Alex Riley

Now this looks like it could be a lot of fun. Chaos reigns as there are no tag rules in this one, so each heel pairs off with a face to start us off at the opening bell. Swagger eats an STO takedown from Riley for a two count and then tries a pescado to the floor on Ziggler, but Dolph moves and he meets the steel stairs instead. JoMo hits a cool looking dropsault, kicking off Ziggler and moonsaulting onto Swagger for a two count. JoMo is tossed out and Vickie tries to convince Jack and Dolph to work together, but of course that's not happening. Riley nails Swagger with a beautiful TKO, but Vickie puts Jack's foot on the rope to break the count and Riley is dropkicked out of the ring by Ziggler. Ziggler argues with Vickie and JoMo nails him with a springboard knee-strike for a near fall. Ziggler hits the fameasser on JoMo, but again he kicks out. This match winds up falling into the usual pitfall of multi-man matches, with a lot of people laying around on the outside while two guys do a few spots in the ring. Riley jumps to the top rope while Morrison is in the Tree of Woe position, and Morrison gives him a German suplex off the top rope from the tree of woe! That was sick. Swagger follows up with a huge belly-to-belly on Morrison from the top moments later. JoMo starts cleaning house, giving Swagger a sick tilt-a-whirl hurricanrana before kipping back up to his feet and delivering a standing C4 suplex to Riley, who somehow kicks out of it. Morrison goes for Starship Pain, but Riley gets the knees up and Ziggler locks him into the sleeper from behind while Swagger works the ankle lock on Riley. Riley nails Swagger with a huge DDT and the crowd is on fire, thinking for a second that Riley is about to win the title, but Swagger kicks out at two. Swagger rolls through and delivers the ankle lock to Riley again. He ducks a springboard attempt from JoMo and then gives him a devastating gut-wrench powerbomb, but Ziggler tosses Swagger aside and covers Morrison to steal the pin and retain his title at 8:12! Wow this one started off a bit slow and tedious but once it got into a groove, it never stopped escalating and getting hotter and hotter down the stretch towards the finish. Some really creative multi-man spots and an awesome closing makes this match of the night so far, despite it's brevity. Now please, move Dolph up to the main event scene again. ***1/4

Backstage Josh Matthews asks Mark Henry about the rumors that he can't get it done and win the World title tonight and if they're getting to him, so Henry tells him to come out after his match to interview him when he wins the title later. Elsewhere Matt Striker is with a cackling Vickie Guerrero, who is over-pleased with the events of the last match. She claims that finally her talents are being recognized and that she'll make a great future C.O.O. before planting a big smooch on Striker.

Hey! Hell in a Cell is two weeks away! That's plenty of time to build a PPV, that buyrate's not going to plummet at all.

World Heavyweight Title Match
Randy Orton
© vs. Mark Henry

These two work decently together and Henry seems rejuvenated these days so who knows, maybe this won't actually suck. Henry overpowers him to start but Randy is quick to strike back with big kicks and knees. Has anyone ever noticed that Mark Henry looks alot like that girl from the movie Precious? Orton goes for an early RKO but eats a boot to the skull instead. Henry tries for the World's Strongest Slam, but Randy counters into a sleeper-hold. This works only momentarily however as Henry knocks Orton to the floor with a huge forearm and then drives his back into the ring apron. Henry wraps Orton back-first around the ring apron and just stretches him out like a pretzel in a painful-looking spot. Henry hits a big splash on Orton, but the champ kicks out. Henry continues the domination, beating down the champ and taunting the crowd as he does it. Henry tries another splash, but Orton moves this time and lays in closed fists on the big man in the corner. A lariat won't take Henry down so Orton gives him a dropkick instead. Henry blocks the second-rope DDT from Randy and delivers the World's Strongest Slam, but Orton kicks out at two of course. Henry goes for a Vader bomb but Orton gets his feet up and DDT's Henry from his knees. Mark again tries to escape but this time Orton gives him the second-rope DDT, which provides a hell of a visual. Henry plays possum and reels Orton in moments later before taking out Randy's leg from under him. Henry blocks the RKO and gives Orton the World's Strongest Slam and yes, that's enough to end it as Mark Henry finally wins his first world title (to a surprisingly huge pop too) at 13:13. They finally pulled the trigger on Henry, how about that. Good for him. The match itself was better than expected, but still not up to the usual standard that Orton has had all year long. Still, decent little match and a nice moment for Henry and everyone else in this business who had to toil away as a company man for years with nothing to show for it. **1/2

After the match Josh Matthews hits the ring with a mic to congratulate Mark Henry. Henry snatches the mic from him and rubs the title in his face. He tells off the crowd that had just been cheering the hell out of him for winning the title by calling them all doubters and haters and he manages to get his heat back almost instantly. Hell of an intense post-match promo from Henry here, you could tell he was legit fired up from finally achieving his dream.

Backstage John Laurinaitis tells Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez that last Monday was just about doing his job, and that he should focus on his title match. He wishes him good luck as he takes off and then wishes good luck to someone off camera. The camera pans to the side and reveals CM Punk to a roar of cheers. He's not buying Johnny Ace's false good luck wishes though and takes off as Ace is seen typing into his cell phone as we end the segment.

WWE Diva's Title Match
Kelly Kelly
© vs. Beth Phoenix

Kelly is with Eve Torres, and Beth is with Natalya of course. This is Beth's hometown so she gets a big pop, easily the biggest of her career. Lots of Beth Phoenix signs in the crowd too. Kelly tries a side headlock to start but Beth breaks it up with a shoulder-block. Kelly flips out of a hip-toss as a big "Kelly sucks!" chant starts up. As if to disprove the fans she manages to deliver a fantastic lucha libre style twisting hurricanrana off the top rope and covers Beth for a close two count. When the hell did Kelly learn to do THAT? She tries her handstand-headscissors submission briefly and then goes for a cross-body off the top rope, but Beth catches her in mid-air and spanks her to add humiliation to the ass-kicking. Beth chokes Kelly on the bottom rope and then drives her throat-first into the same rope with a catapult. Kelly counters out of a tilt-a-whirl attempt and delivers a big bulldog on Beth to some boos from the crowd. Natalya pulls Beth out for a breather and Eve jumps Natalya. Beth knocks Eve off and returns to the ring, where Kelly tries a few different roll-ups to little success. She back-flips out of the rocker-dropper position (similar to the move X-Pac used for years) but eats a huge lariat from Beth anyways and the crowd is really roaring in approval for Beth now. Beth delivers a huge superplex off the top rope onto Kelly and again the crowd roars. Good god, this is the best diva's match I've seen in years. Beth takes too long to recover from the superplex so she only gets a two count from it though. Kelly counters a Glam-Slam attempt into a sunset flip roll up though and somehow that's enough to get the quick 3 count and for her to retain the title at 6:24. Umm...WHAT?! You go through all of that match making Beth look like the greatest female wrestler to ever live in front of her hometown crowd to roars of cheers, and then you have her lose with a fluke roll-up? I really don't like that finish at all, Beth should have won here. As a match though, this was seriously good stuff for the Diva's, red-hot crowd, some great counter moves, no botches or blemishes and that superplex was crazy for someone as small as Kelly to take. Tack an ending that doesn't suck onto it and this would've been ***+, but instead I'm just going to leave it slightly underneath that. **3/4.

WWE Title Match
Alberto Del Rio
© vs. John Cena

Del Rio has Ricardo re-do his introduction in Spanish of course. Cena enters to a lot of boos and a huge "Cena sucks" chant. Never fear though because Cena wins them back moments later with a somewhat humorous little promo mocking Del Rio's over-the-top entrance. Standard opening match exchanges to start with Del Rio trying to be sneaky and Cena catching him at every corner. Ricardo trips up Cena to a nice pop but he gets thrown out by the ref for it. The usual dueling Cena chants start up as they brawl to the floor, and back inside the ring Del Rio hits an awkward cross-body on Cena before locking on a loose reverse chinlock. He gives Cena a couple of big boots and goes right back to the chinlock. Cena breaks it off and both men clothesline each other simultaneously. Del Rio tries a dropkick but Cena moves and he flies out of the ring through the second rope. Cena gets his second wind though and hits a pair of shoulder-blocks followed by the fallaway slam and the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena goes for the AA, but Del Rio counters into a big lung-blower for a two count. Cena avoids the cross-armbar attempt and nails Rio with a dropkick. He goes to the top rope but Del Rio meets him with a running step-up enziguri for another near fall. Del Rio escapes an STFU attempt and delivers a sick tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and things are really picking up now. Del Rio gets tossed shoulder-first into the steel ring post and Cena hits him with the big leg-drop off the top rope for another hot near fall.
Del Rio counters the AA into a German suplex, but that won't do it either. Del Rio goes to the top rope and delivers a huge back senton splash onto Cena, but still no three count. Del Rio rolls Cena into the cross-armbar but Cena lifts him up with his sheer power and powerbombs him! Back on his feet Cena delivers the AA to Del Rio, and here comes Ricardo Rodriguez to try and interfere. Cena knocks him off the apron and applies the STFU to Del Rio. Cena wrenches away for a few moments until finally Del Rio taps out to give Cena his 10th WWE title at 17:26. I'm surprised they put the title back on Cena already and off Del Rio after less than a month, but the match itself was great stuff and far better than I had expected it to be. Red-hot stuff while it lasted. ***1/2

No Disqualification Match
Triple H vs. CM Punk

If Hunter loses, he must resign as company C.O.O. This was originally supposed to be Nash facing Punk, but he wasn't cleared in time for the show so they plugged Triple H into the match instead, likely giving us a much better one in the process. Punk jumps Triple H from behind during his trademark water-spitting entrance and we're off with a brawl around ringside to start us off. This seems eerily like the start to the Triple H/Undertaker match at 'Mania this year. Each man teases using their finisher on the other on the announcer's table at ringside but neither man is successful so they hop in the ring for the first time and begin brawling again. Punk goes for the running knee into the corner, but Hunter moves and he flies over the top to the floor outside the ring. Triple H hops out and bashes his leg into the ring post repeatedly. Punk manages to escape and nail him with the running knee on the outside floor anyways, but Hunter just tosses him over the barricade, which falls apart from the damage. Triple H nails him with a double axe handle from the barricade and they fight into the crowd. They brawl through the (probably drunken) crowd and onto the rampway, where Triple H tosses Punk face-first into the sparkling LED setup. Punk goes all Macho Man on Triple H with a double-axe handle of his own off of the LED set-up and then he casually just tosses a few sandbags at him in a funny moment. The fight continues back down the aisle as they head back towards the ring area. Punk pulls out a garbage can and a steel chair from under the ring and just waffles Hunter over the back with it. I'll never get tired of that sickening sound of steel against flesh...that sounded a lot less creepy in my head. Hunter responds with a big spinebuster, but Punk kicks out. Hunter sets the chair up in the corner and beal-tosses Punk into the chair, sending him to the floor. Hunter chop-blocks Punk's leg and the focus on Punk's legs continues. Hunter sets up Punk's leg against the ring-post and then waffles his leg against it with the steel chair. He looks to apply a figure four onto Punk on the floor, but Punk shoves him into the steel steps. Triple H grabs a monitor from ringside and tries to use it, but Punk nails him in the face with a deadly high kick, laying Hunter out on the spanish announcer's table. Punk goes to the top rope and delivers the Macho Man elbow drop to end all elbow drops from the top rope all the way through the table on top of Triple H! Great spot there. They crawl back into the ring when suddenly The Miz and R-Truth run out from the back and hit the ring to attack both men! They beat them down and then get all up in referee Scott Armstrong's face, but he's an Armstrong man and Armstrongs don't back down, as he blocks a sucker-punch from Miz and nails him before Truth jumps him from behind. Suddenly John Laurinaitis makes his way down to the ring just as Punk and Triple H are getting back to their feet, and they clean house on both of the heels. Punk turns around and walks right into the Pedigree from Triple H, but there's no ref. Another ref runs down but Johnny Ace instructs him to revive the original ref instead of just go in the ring and make the count himself. Triple H bitches at Johnny and then turns around right into the GTS from Punk. Ace tosses the ref in to make the count now, but now R-Truth breaks the count up so Punk gives him a devastating GTS on the outside floor. This is mass chaos, and for once that's actually not really a bad thing. Punk springboards back into the ring but he springboards right into the Pedigree from Triple H. One, two, thr-----NO! Yes, they actually let Punk kick out of the Pedigree, and the crowd was so freaking shocked by it they exploded and nearly took the roof off the building. Ace walks off texting suspiciously on his cell again, calling in more reinforcements. And of course, here comes Kevin Nash out from the audience. He hops the rail, enters the ring, and nails both men with right hands. Nash goes to work on Hunter in the corner and goes for the Jackknife, but Punk breaks it up so Nash gives him the Jackknife powerbomb instead, and it's a big one. Nash clears off the remaining standing commentary table to prepare to put Hunter through it, but Triple H nails him from behind with the sledge-hammer. He enters the ring, gives CM Punk a second Pedigree, and that's enough for the win at 24:01. Some people are probably going to hate the overbooking of the finish here, but for once I actually think it kind of benefited the match in it's own way, and it made both men look good without having to take a somewhat-clean pin from the other man. This should set up a rematch down the line with Punk going over I can only presume, but what we got here was great for a main event. Some fun brawling, a crazy elbow drop spot, and a bit of sports entertainment-y goodness all wrapped together makes me forgive this for being slightly overbooked and slow to start. ***3/4

Bottom Line: Coming into this show I expected a few quality matches, a minimum of filler, and overall a solid card somewhere in between "good" and "great", and that's exactly what we got here in my eyes. You've got a hot tag opener, a few solid mid-card matches from unlikely suspects (the Diva's, Rhodes/DiBiase), a somewhat historic title win for Mark Henry, and two very good main event matches to close out the show. Not a show that's going to go down in any "Greatest PPVs Ever" list, but well worth your time I'd say for the most part and a Thumbs Up from me.

Score: 7.0/10

Friday, September 16, 2011

WWE SmackDown 9/16/11

"Will the real Sin Cara please stand up?"

WWE Smackdown 9/16/11
September 16th, 2011
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back to another edition of 411's Smackdown report. Unfortunately I had to work last Monday night so I was unable to do the RAW Report, but I'll be back to doing that this Monday as usual. Tonight though we've got the last show before the big Night of Champions PPV on Sunday, so don't expect much more than your usual go-home Smackdown show here. Let's do it.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews

We open the show with none other than the Rated R Superstar Edge making his way out to a huge pop from his hometown crowd! Tonight, he'll be hosting Randy Orton and Mark Henry on an edition of his old show The Cutting Edge just two nights away from their title match at Night of Champions. Edge grabs a mic and says it feels great to be in a ring again with this feeling in his hometown. He talks about all the things he misses from the business, paramount among them the fans (a big "Thank you Edge!" chant starts up after this). Edge talks a bit more about the Cutting Edge later tonight when suddenly he's interrupted by Cody Rhodes of all people.

Rhodes (with his usual bag-men) walks out with a mic and makes a very unsubtle plug for Edge's show on SciFi, Haven. Rhodes says it sounds like Edge is sucking up to the fans, and he thought Edge was above that. Edge tells Cody to stop complaining about minor injuries, so Cody calls him bitter because of his untimely retirement. He hands Edge a paper bag to take home and tells him that it's his time now on Smackdown. They trade a few more barbs and Edge says he's going to fall asleep if he has to keep listening to this, so he drops the mic and just takes off, leaving Cody pissed in the ring. He starts ripping into the fans at ringside when he gets punched in the face by a man wearing a paper bag, who takes the bag off to reveal...Ted DiBiase! (The crowd even popped for him slightly). DiBiase hops the rail and beats the tar out of Cody out of the ring before giving him the Dream Street slam in the ring. DiBiase takes out one of Cody's bagmen and goes to put it on Rhodes, but Cody takes off running. Well that was easily the most exciting and charismatic I've ever seen Ted DiBiase in his entire career. He's a solid worker too so who knows, he might be finally becoming interesting.

Evil Sin Cara (15-2) vs. Daniel Bryan (8-9-1)

Cara sort of turned heel a few weeks back when he jumped Bryan after their match and cut a promo in English claiming to be the "real" Sin Cara, so for my sake I'm just going to refer to him as Evil Sin Cara until Mistico returns to fight him and/or take back the mask and character. Bryan is heated to start, nailing Cara with a dropkick and then just laying in closed fist punches right into Cara's face on the mat. DB looks impressive tonight. He sends Cara to the floor with a forearm and then goes for a tope, but Cara hops back in the ring and dropkicks his leg out from under him. He gives Bryan a kneebreaker and then just tosses him backwards over his head and out of the ring to the floor as we cut to commercial. When we return Cara is working a modified figure four leglock on Bryan. Cara nails him with a forearm and then a springboard flying headbutt and gets a two count out of it. Cara goes for a quebrada but Bryan just nails him in the face with both feet on his way down. Stiff forearm and kicks from Bryan, who is REALLY laying them in now and the crowd seems almost shocked by the stiffness. Cara sets Bryan up in the tree of woe and Cara takes his turn to be stiff with Bryan as he just starts kicking him in the face repeatedly. The referee gives him a five count and tells him to stop but Cara just keeps kicking Bryan in the face so the ref calls for the bell and disqualifies Sin Cara at 4:58 (shown). Really good match until the DQ finish, but even that made sense in the context of the match with Bryan coming out for revenge and being ungodly stiff with Cara until Cara got fed up and let his anger get the best of him and wound up being DQed. Give this a few more minutes and this could've been awesome. **1/2

After the match Cara continues to beat down on Bryan when suddenly a slightly different version of Cara's theme music hits and the REAL Sin Cara comes out, pointing his finger at Evil Cara. He sprints to the ring and does his trademark entrance perfectly as both men stare each other down in the middle of the ring. The crowd heavily cheers one Cara and boos the other as what I can only assume is the imposter Cara exits the ring and takes off. Segment didn't seem to come off great in front of the live audience so maybe they should've waited a few more weeks before bringing the real Cara back, but if it leads to a Cara vs. Cara match on PPV I'm all for it.

After a commercial break we return to see Zack Ryder with Teddy Long backstage. Ryder convinces Teddy to enact another no-contact rule between Mark Henry and Randy Orton before taking off. Aksana walks in (cue the cheesy sax music) and offers Teddy a massage. No sexual connotations there, nah. Teddy bends over so that it appears that Aksana is...err...sodomizing him when suddenly Trish Stratus walks in. They trade a few awkward words and Trish takes off.

Beth Phoenix (5-2) vs. AJ Lee (3-6)

Aw, what a cute couple. Too bad AJ's about to be murdered. AJ goes for a nice bulldog but takes a huge backdrop suplex instead from Beth. She press slams AJ right onto her knee next in a nasty spot. AJ fires off a few meager punches but eats a boot and then the Glam Slam finishes her off at 1:24. Just a quick squash to make Beth look like a monster, and it did just that. 1/4*

After the match Beth and Natalya say the same stuff they've been saying for weeks about ending the diva's "fairy tale" existence. Good, I'm all for that. We also get a Sheamus promo with the worst Dropkick Murphy's ripoff band I've ever heard in the background.

Backstage Trish is showing Edge something about stretching and yoga. Christian walks up with his usual smug smile on his face. He calls Trish selfish and then says "How's it going man?" to Edge like nothing happened. Christian says he doesn't blame Edge for his loss at Summerslam anymore, saying that Edge was just being honest and doing what he thought was right. They hug and all seems well again until Christian tries to convince Edge to get Teddy Long to give him one more World title match. Christian flips out when Edge doesn't seem too keen about helping out and he takes off. Zack Ryder passes by yelling something about Teddy Long at Edge and Trish stops to say "Is that the internet champion?" Damn right it is missy.

Christian/Wade Barrett vs. Sheamus/Justin Gabriel

Sheamus offers both Christian and Barrett some not-so-kind words before the match begins, comparing Christian's face to a horse's ass and calling Barrett useless. Sheamus says he looked for Ax and Smash from Demolition to help him fight Barrett, but he went with the 450 Splasher instead. Gabriel and Barrett start us off with Gabriel trying to work an armbar and then kicking out Barrett's feet from under him for a quick two count. Gabriel springboards over Barrett to avoid him but turns around and walks right into a huge sidewalk slam from Barrett. Christian tags in wipes his boot across Gabriel's face. He stomps away at him and then tags Wade back in. He gives Gabriel a huge press slam and the heels continue the usual strategy of trading quick tags and isolating Gabriel in their corner, which draws Sheamus into the ring as we take a commercial break. When we return the epic beatdown on Gabriel continues. Gabriel finally gets a bit of offense in with a big STO takedown on Christian and is able to get the hot tag to Sheamus, who cleans house on Barrett with a power slam and a stiff knee strike. Sheamus hits the flying shoulder-block on Barrett and then goes for the Celtic Cross on Christian, but Christian slides out and gets clotheslined out of the ring. Barrett sets up for the Waste Land, but Sheamus nails him with the Brogue Kick and then tags Gabriel, who hits the 450 splash on Barrett to pick up the win at 7:05 (shown). Another solid match, but this one could have used a few more minutes to flesh out the beatdown segment on Gabriel and get the fans at home a bit more into it. As it is this is just a really fun formula tag match that made Sheamus look like a monster. **3/4

The Great Khali (1-6) vs. Heath Slater (4-18)

Well that's certainly an...erm...interesting match up. Slater is obviously cautious to start, running around Khali and firing off quick punches and kicks, but it's not long before Khali squashes him with a forearm. Suddenly Jinder Mahal walks down the ramp shouting something in Hindi at Khali. He walks into the ring and attacks Khali to give him the win by DQ at 1:12. Well that was a barrel full of suck. I guess it advances the Jinder Mahal/Great Khali angle that absolutely no one cares about though. After the match Khali wipes both Mahal and Slater out. DUD

R-Truth (4-2) vs. Evan Bourne (1-0)

Miz and Kofi are both at ringside at the commentary table to support their respective partners in preparation for the tag title match between the two teams on the PPV this Sunday. Cole fawns over The Miz like a prepubescent girl when he sits down next to him. Truth tosses Bourne out of the ring and then drags him right back in and slaps a chinlock on him. Bourne fires back with a crazy hurricanrana that just plants Truth's face and neck onto the mat like he was a sack of potatoes, that was SICKENING. Bourne misses Air Bourne and eats the "What's Up" from Truth moments later and that's enough to put him away at 1:56. Well that wasn't very competitive, was it? I mean I know Truth should be higher on the card and more protected than Bourne at this stage, but atleast give the kid a minor amount of offense before you squash him. 1/2*

And now it's time for our main event promo segment. It's like a flashback to the Evolution days or something. Edge sits in the solemn black ring with a mic and sits down on a stool to share some memories about watching wrestling here in Toronto. He mentions Hulk Hogan which draws a minor amount of boos from the fans. He talks about the importance of the World Heavyweight title and then introduces the guests for the Cutting Edge tonight, Mark Henry and Randy Orton. Edge talks about how dominant Henry has become and asks Orton if he honestly thinks he can defeat him this Sunday. Orton responds by talking about how Henry has never won the title before and that maybe he's just not good enough to do it. Orton says he knows he can beat Henry. Edge reluctantly agrees with Orton, talking about how Henry was already a veteran when he himself entered the company in 1998 and how he's never been able to win the big one. Henry surprisingly agrees with him and says that he's done smiling and "showing personality" and he's here to destroy and take what Randy's got on his shoulder. Orton responds by calling Henry the "World's Strongest Failure". Both men get in each others faces and Edge takes off as Henry and Orton of course begin brawling. Teddy Long callls out the entire damn Smackdown locker room (which seems to consist of mainly Superstars and NXT midcarders) but mark Henry is just tossing off swarms of guys like they were dead flies. Orton leaps over the crowd of people right into Henry's face and lays some more punches in. Henry cleans out the entire ring, launching each superstar around like a feather as we go off the air with this scene of mass destruction.

Bottom Line: Pretty decent go-home show here, there's nothing wrestling-wise that you'll want to go out of your way to see, but there are two very solid little matches in the **1/2-**3/4 range that both would have been graded higher had they lasted a bit longer and were given better finishes. Edge didn't really bring a lot to the show other than his usual speech about loving the fans, but his backstage segment with Trish and Christian was fun (even though we never saw Trish again after that). The main event promo does a good job of doing the hard sell for the PPV this Sunday too, so all in all this was a pretty good go-home show. I'll go with an ever so mild thumbs up, but it's not a "great" episode and you won't see any TV match of the year candidates on it. If you've got 90 minutes to kill you could do alot worse though. Minor Thumbs Up.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

TNA No Surrender 2011

TNA No Surrender 2011
September 11th, 2011
Impact Wrestling Zone, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: Estimated 1000-1400, exact attendance unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to 411's monthly coverage of every TNA Impact Wrestling PPV event, I'm your somewhat hungover host for the evening and guide through tonight's show, which isn't one of the strongest TNA cards on paper, but is built pretty well to set up the next PPV, TNA's biggest event of the year, Bound For Glory. The big matches tonight include a triple-threat match for the TNA World title between defending champion Kurt Angle, Sting, and Mr. Anderson. We've also got two big matches in the continuing Bound For Glory system (although how much effect these matches will have on the actual standings is arguable since TNA hasn't really explained it at all to their viewers) as well as an X-Division title match between Brian Kendrick and Austin Aries. Now I'm not exactly sure about the logistics or reasons for holding this PPV on the ten year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, but TNA has got their best "patriotic" face on, with red, white and blue colors all over the place for the marketing and promotion of the show. Anyways, make sure to refresh your page every 15 minutes or so for new updates on all the happenings on the show as well as a bit of in-ring and angle analysis from yours truly, and let's get ready to rock and roll.

Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz

We open the show with a moment of silence for all of the people lost ten years ago on 9/11. Which is really weird when narrated by the TNA voice-over guy, who always sounds like he's narrating an old 70s Hammer Horror film or something. Nice moment with the whole roster out there, with Jesse Neal front and center for obvious reasons. Kurt even looks sober, look at that. Mickie looks like a 50s movie-star with the heavy make=up tonight. I guess everyone's wearing their Sunday best tonight, eh? After a brief "America the Beautiful" rendition and a decent "USA!" chant we get the obligatory opening video package to hype the show, highlighting the triple threat title match tonight as well as the Bound For Glory series.

TNA X-Division Title #1 Contender's Match
Kid Kash vs. Jesse Sorensen

We open up the show with a number one contender's match for the X-Division title that was added to the card at the last minute, pitting longtime veteran Kid Kash against the young upstart Jesse Sorensen. Crowd is hot for Jesse to start surprisingly enough. Look at that TNA, if you bring in new young talent that can actually work, the fans get behind them. Who woulda thunk it? Feeling out process to start with Jesse trying to work a side headlock on Kash and both men trading arm-drags and lock-ups before breaking up in a fighting stance, popping the crowd. Kash keeps trying to outsmart his younger opponent in the early stages, but the spark-plug Sorensen has an answer for nearly everything it seems. Finally Kash tosses him into the turnbuckle and gives him a deadly release gourdbuster (almost a release brainbuster in fact) to take back the advantage. Dueling chants from the crowd who are hot to start tonight. Sorensen responds with a discus elbow and a standing dropkick for a two count. A quick neckbreaker gets him another near fall. Sorensen follows up with a sort of frog-splash cross-body off the top that looks a bit awkward, but again Kash kicks out at two. Kash taunts the crowd a bit and gets some great heat from them before shoving the ref a bit for even more. Gotta love Kash, he works hard, bumps hard, and knows how to work a crowd. Kash hits a second-rope moonsault onto Jesse but takes too long to cover and only gets a two count. Sorensen catches Kash coming off the ropes and delivers an inside-out reverse suplex slam to get the minor upset win at 7:58. Ending seemed a bit abrupt and there were a few awkward spots, but this worked well enough for a quick opener and the crowd was definitely into both guys, so this worked for the time it got. **1/2

Backstage Jeremy Borash is with Kurt Angle and Hulk Hogan, asking them how they feel about Angle's title defense tonight. Angle whines a bit, walks off, and Hogan follows him a few moments later without saying much either.

Bound For Glory Series Match
Bully Ray vs. James Storm

So apparently if Storm wins by submission here, he advances to the finals next month. Or not. Sorry guys, this angle is just too confusing to follow, and I watch Impact every single week. Forgive me if I don't get the exact details on the ramifications of this match right here. Ray stalls...and stalls....and then stalls some more. About five whole minutes of stalling to start us off in fact. Thrilling. Finally Ray jumps Storm back in the ring and we're off. Ray tries to stomp him in the corner but Storm counters with a deep arm drag and then transitions right into the juji gatame armbar, nearly making Ray tap before he gets the rope break and bails again. Back inside Storm goes right back into the armbar, Ray breaks it and bails again but this time Storm chases after him, slamming his arm into the steel steps at ringside. Ray takes a sip of beer and grabs a steel chair at ringside. The ref takes the chair from him and Ray spits the mouth full of beer into Storm's face behind the ref's back, going back on the offensive again. Moments later Storm goes right back to the juji gatame armbar, and again Ray gets the break. Storm locks on the sharpshooter next, but again he breaks it up so Storm tries the Fujiwara armbar to no avail as well. Storm goes to spit beer in Ray's face but winds up spitting in the ref's face accidentally instead. Moments later Bully Ray taps out and the ref calls for the award Bully Ray the match via DQ at 11:50 for our first "Bullshit" chant of the night. The psychology here was actually pretty good with Storm trying to win by submission, but Ray's constant stalling only for that ending made the whole thing tedious to sit through. *3/4

TNA Knockouts Title Match
Mickie James
© vs. Winter

Winter tries to attack Mickie before the bell but Mickie sees it coming and shrugs her off, bailing to the floor to beat up Angelina Love at ringside. She tosses Winter into the steel steps and the guard rail before tossing her back into the ring. Mickie delivers a headscissors from the top rope but Angelina trips her up afterwards and Winter nails her with a high kick. A snap suplex gets Winter a two count. Winter chokes Mickie on the second rope with her knee for a bit, letting Love get a cheap-shot in behind the ref's back. Winter takes the upper hand from here, stomping away at Mickie and driving her knee into her back before slapping a brief chinlock on her. Mickie responds with a neckbreaker and gets a chance to catch her second wind. They trade forearms back on their feet and Mickie hits a trio of clotheslines, followed by a sloppy Samoan drop and a kip-up. Focus more on not breaking Winter's neck instead of the kip-up Mick, just an idea. Mickie locks on a single leg Boston crab but Winter gets to the ropes. Winter is handed the Knockouts title and she tries to use it on Mickie, but Earl Hebner sees it and grabs it out of her hands. Mickie sets up for a tornado DDT but Angelina Love pulls Winter out, so Mickie takes her out with a Thesz press off the ring apron and then she chases Love up the ramp and away from ringside. Earl does a terrible job at feigning distraction as the heels interference tactics backfire yet again, but Winter spews blood into Mickie's face to end this mess of a match and win the KO title at 8:40. Any remaining hope I had for this division is now dead, as this was about the only somewhat intriguing match up they had left and this absolutely stunk. Tons of missed spots and sloppy wrestling here, way too much interference and overbooking, and just a poor performance from everyone involved, including Hebner and Angelina Love. Just turrible. *

Backstage Gunner is with Jeremy Borash to talk about his upcoming BFG series match, but Bully Ray walks in to interrupt moments later and threaten Gunner not to tap out during his match tonight no matter what.

TNA Tag Team Title Match
Mexican America (Hernandez/Anarquia)
© vs. Devon/Pope D'Angelo Dinero

Yikes, this does not look like a good match at all. Luckily the crowd is hot into it because it's the ten year anniversary of 9/11 and Mexican America's whole shtick is hating on the US, so atleast we've got heat here. Devon starts off with Anarquia, schooling him quickly and tagging Pope in. The babyfaces trade frequent tags, though it's not very effective since Hernandez just tags in and they try the same tactic on him to a little more luck. Devon and Pope do some nifty double-team shoulder-block moves while the latina ladies at ringside shriek in the ref's ear. Pope gives Rosita a smooch so she slaps him and Anarquia jumps him from behind. MA do some double-team leapfrog moves of their own while Pope argues with the ref. A spinning back elbow nets Anarquia a two count on Devon. Sarita dropkicks Devon behind the refs back and it gets them another near fall. Hernandez works a bear-hug briefly but eats a big spear from Devon on the follow-up. Pope gets the hot tag and he cleans house on the quasi-Mexicans with dropkicks and flying shoulder blocks and Good Golly Miss Molly the Pope is fired up! Pope hits a cross body off the top, but Hernandez breaks the pin up. Back-drop suplex from Anarquia followed by a diving headbutt from Hernandez on Pope in a great little sequence, but Devon breaks up the double teaming moments later and the babyfaces toss the heel champs into each-other and take out Hernandez with a double flying shoulder-block. They even catch both Sarita and Rosita and give them dueling spankings for the fun of it. Pope hits a sick lung-blower on Anarquia and tries to follow up with a suplex, but Sarita pulls Pope's legs out from under him and holds his legs down while Anarquia pins him for the dirty win to retain at 9:50. I do stand corrected, this was actually a very solid little tag match despite the cliched ending, Devon and Pope actually looked really good together, like a cohesive unit, pulling out fun double-team moves all over the place. Even the heels weren't bad here, way better than expected. **1/2

Backstage Jeremy Borash is with Mr. Anderson to talk about his title match tonight. Anderson spouts the usual check-list of Austin-lite cliches, calls himself an asshole, curses some more, snaps his gum, you know the general Mr. Anderson douchebag promo drill by now, I'm sure I don't need to explain it further for you.

Matt Morgan vs. Samoa Joe

I'd be hard pressed to remember why exactly these two guys are fighting each other, other than they just started brawling backstage on Impact one night. Which I guess is how most feuds in this company start. Morgan is coming back from an injury here but the crowd is hot behind him to start. Morgan lays in a few right hands and some elbows in the corner before Joe tosses him in the corner and lays in some knife-edge chops in return. Morgan hits his flurry of back-elbows on Joe in the corner and then nails him with a running knee. Morgan leg-drops Joe on the ring apron and the action spills to the floor. Joe gets a few shots in and then comes flying out with a big tope suicida on Morgan to the floor! Look at Joe pulling out the dives again. Back in the ring Morgan evades an irish whip and hits a huge cross-body off the top for a two count. Joe nails him with a stiff step-up enziguri in the corner and gets a two count of his own. He applies a deep keylock on Morgan, who eventually gets the rope break. Morgan gets the crowd behind him and starts to rally up for the comeback, lariating Joe and nailing him with a sidewalk slam. Joe counters with a belly-to-belly suplex and then tries to lock in the rear-naked choke, but Morgan manages to fight it off briefly. Joe locks it in again, but again Morgan counters out of it and he nails Joe with the Carbon Footprint to pick up the win at 11:38. This was probably one of the better singles matches either man has had in quite a few months, they kept it simple here and worked hard and the results were an entertaining, solidly worked contest. I'm kind of surprised by how good this wound up being. ***

Backstage Jeremy Borash is with Beer Money to talk about Bobby Roode's upcoming BFG series match against Gunner. He seems a bit down on himself to start but Storm fires him up quickly with a great motivational speech and the crowd winds up chanting for Bobby before the match even begins.

Bound For Glory Series Match
Bobby Roode vs. Gunner

Gunner's being called "Mr. Intensity" now by Tenay, and I honestly can't tell if he's being sarcastic or not. Robert, or rather, "Bobby", has got the crowd behind him big time here after Storm's little speech backstage. They brawl for a bit before the action spills out to the floor, where...yep, they brawl some more. Back in the ring Gunner works a reverse chinlock for a moment before transitioning into a leg vice-grip around Roode's throat. Roode fights it off and decides to try focusing on Gunner's arm, to little success. Gunner works a full-nelson hold onto Roode on the mat and we're nearly 10 minutes into this thing and it feels like absolutely nothing has happened. They trade right hands back on their feet and Roode goes right back into the Fujiwara armbar attempt, but again Gunner gets the rope break. Back on their feet Roode transitions back into the Fujiwara armbar again before locking on a crossface, which makes Gunner tap out at 12:01. This was solidly worked, but man was it boring for the first ten minutes or so. The armwork towards the finish was nice, but overall, not a very exciting affair. **

After the match Eric Bischoff makes his way out to the ramp with a mic to congratulate Roode on his success in the tournament so far. Bischoff says that tonight we're going to have a winner in the BFG series and since it's now tied between Roode and Ray, these two men will in fact wrestle later tonight to decide who wins the BFG series once and for all!

Austin Aries is with Jeremy Borash backstage and he cuts a great little promo on Kendrick, declaring himself the next TNA X-Division champion.

TNA X-Division Title Match
Brian Kendrick
© vs. Austin Aries

Here we go now, this is the one match I was actually looking forward to on tonight's show. I swear to God for a minute I thought Kendrick's parachute pants had a design of Pedobear on the crotch. Both men are cautious in the feeling out process to start, trading wristlocks. They play a quick game of leap-frog before brawling out to the floor, where Kendrick tosses Aries into the steel guard-rail repeatedly. Aries counters by giving Kendrick a standing Russian leg-sweep head-first into the steel ring post in a sickening spot before tossing him back into the ring and choking Kendrick on the bottom rope. Aries lays in some viciously stiff chops and a power-drive elbow for a two count and a small "Aries" chant starts up. Aries ties his legs around Kendrick's neck in a vicegrip briefly and both men trade fore-arms back on their feet. Aries takes him down with an STO and then tries for the swinging pendulum elbow, but Kendrick moves. Aries tosses Kendrick into the corner and runs inside to follow up but Kendrick nails him with a boot and a pair of dropkicks. Aries gets sent to the floor and Kendrick wipes him out seconds later with a tope suicida. He tosses Aries back inside and then nails him with a missile dropkick for a two count. Kendrick hits a huge swinging DDT, but Aries has his foot on the rope. Aries blocks the Sliced Bread attempt and just tosses Kendrick over the top rope all the way to the arena floor! He follows him out moments later with his heat-seeking missile tope suicida, but Kendrick moves and Aries just nails his face right into the guard-rail. Nasty. Back in the ring they trade forearms again and Aries side-steps Kendrick this time, sending Kendrick spilling nastily to the floor. Aries follows up with a corkscrew pescado on Kendrick and tosses him back inside. He nails Kendrick with a running dropkick in the corner, but again Kendrick kicks out. Kendrick tries a few cradle and roll up attempts to finish this one quickly, but Aries kicks out of them all and feeds him a forearm shiver. He drapes Kendrick on the top rope with his legs and delivers the old twisting suplex that Aries (and Tully) used to use and tries for the 450 Splash, but Kendrick moves. Kendrick delivers a bridging double-underhook suplex but Aries kicks out. Aries uses the ref as a shield in the corner, which buys him enough time to give Kendrick a low blow and then pancake him with a brainbuster for the win and the X-Division title at 13:27. Easily match of the night so far and a great match from these two, one of the better X-Division title matches in a few months. Lots of good stuff in this one and you'll probably want to check this match out from this show over any other. ***1/2

Jeremy Borash is with Bully Ray backstage to get a few words with him about having to wrestle for a second time tonight. Ray does his usual New Yawk bully shtick and we're ready for our next match.

Bound For Glory Series Finals Match
Bobby Roode vs. Bully Ray

So hopefully this is better than both men's earlier matches in the evening. They do the whole big match introductions and everything, trying to make this seem more important and the crowd seems to be alive again after the last match. Ray stalls a bit to start again and steals a hat from a big guy at ringside who stands up and promptly sends Ray running. They lock up finally in the ring and the crowd is seriously huge behind Roode here, cheering for him incessantly. Roode might have what it takes to be a singles star after all. They trade blows in a game of one-upsmanship and Ray bails yet again. Back inside each man tries for a hip-toss, but Roode counters into an armbar and transitions into a crossface. Ray escapes and low blows Roode before laying in some stiff chops and blows to the chest. Roode hits a jumping neckbreaker off the top, but Ray kicks out. Ray responds with a huge Rock Bottom, but Roode kicks out this time. Bubba Bomb only gets a two count for Ray as well. Ray misses a back-splash senton and Roode hits him with a spinebuster and covers him to win the match and the entire BFG series at 12:32. A bit better than their previous respective matches in the show, but still nothing exactly thrilling here. Roode looked good though and the crowd was REALLY into him, so atleast this match and series accomplished that much in seemingly elevating a new, deserving young talent in Robert Roode. **1/4

Backstage Jeremy Borash is joined by Rosita AKA Thea Trinidad to talk about how she lost her father when she was ten years old in the twin towers during the attack on September 11th ten years ago. She says a few respectful and insightful words about her father and how he inspired her to wrestle in a really nice moment here. Kind of ironic considering the crowd was booing her to hell an hour ago with Mexican America, but still a really nice little segment and the crowd was very respectful and gave her plenty of applause. Touching stuff.

TNA World Title Match
Kurt Angle
© vs. Sting vs. Mr. Anderson

These three have been playing hot potato with the title all summer long, so it seems fitting they'd lock up in a triple threat tonight. Entrances and introductions take quite awhile so it's nearly 10:35 PM EST by the time the match actually gets started. No DUI chants at Angle like there were two years ago at this same event when coincidentally enough Angle was also champ and had also just been arrested for a DUI. Anderson and Sting team up on Angle in the corner to start. Anderson holds Angle's hands behind his back (bet that's a familiar feeling) while Sting lays in some punches and then clotheslines Angle over the top and to the floor. Back in the ring Sting and Angle go at it for a bit, trading belly to belly suplexes while Anderson takes a nap on the floor. Sting gets tossed out and Anderson hops back in to jump Angle from behind. God this is the absolute laziest way to work a triple threat match (two guys wrestle in the ring while the third takes about 5 minutes on the outside floor to recover from a minor move that otherwise wouldn't phase him, switch guys, repeat, etc). Anderson hits a neckbreaker but Sting hops in to break up the count. Sting tries for a German on Anderson, but Angle comes up from behind and delivers a German to Sting while Sting delivers a German to Anderson in a nifty little triple-German suplex spot. Angle delivers a suplex to Sting and works a deep chinlock on him, but Sting is able to fight if off with elbows. Where the hell did Anderson disappear to? Sting hits a Stinger Splash in the corner followed by a DDT, but here's Anderson now to break it up. Anderson hits a surprisingly agile spinning kick on Sting, but Angle breaks it up this time. Angle blocks the Mic Check from Anderson and gives him the trio of Rolling German suplexes. Angle delivers a trio of Rolling Germans to Sting directly afterwards, but neither man will stay down for the count. Angle gives Anderson a belly-to-belly suplex off the top rope, but only for two. Sting blocks an Angle Slam attempt and back-drops Angle to the floor. Sting slaps on the Scorpion Deathlock onto Anderson, who tries for the rope break but gets pulled back into the center of the ring. Angle breaks the submission up and gives Sting the Angle Slam, but Sting kicks out! Angle Slam onto Anderson, but he kicks out too. Does anyone's finisher actually finish a match in this company? Angle slaps the ankle lock onto Sting, but Sting tosses him out of it and Angle walks right into the Mic Check from Anderson. Of course Angle kicks out at two though. Anderson tries a death valley driver on Sting, but Sting counters into the Scorpion Death Drop. Angle pulls Sting out of the ring before the 3 count and tosses him into the guard barrier, where Hulk Hogan suddenly appears to squirt something in Sting's eyes (don't worry, the crowd chants for Hogan anyways). Sting stumbles back into the ring and eats a second Angle slam and Kurt Angle picks up the pin to retain at 15:27. There were a lot of problems with this match in it's structure and the cliched finish, but the actual work picked up decently towards the end as it usually does when Angle starts suplexing people all over the damned place. There was almost no flow to any of the sequences or moves though, and the finish was another cliche, so not exactly great stuff either, but better than your usual TNA PPV main event these days honestly. **1/2

We go off the air with Kurt Angle and Hulk Hogan celebrating in the ring after Kurt's victory.

Bottom Line: Pretty "meh" show would be the best way of describing tonight's PPV. There were a few good matches, mainly the X-Division title match and the Joe/Morgan match, and there were even a few sold undercard matches in the tag title and Kid Kash/Jesse Sorenson matches, but to shell out 35 bucks for this show? No thank you, you can see the same amount of ***+ matches on your average week of WWE television (not trying to compare WWE to TNA though) for free. I'd say check out the X-DIvision title match if you can, but feel free to avoid everything else here. Thumbs slightly Down.

Score: 5.0/10