Monday, September 19, 2005


I'm assuming you've already read my preview, so here's the post-show commentary. On the whole, better than I was expecting.

- Rob Conway v Tajiri. This is the obligatory token match from the pre-show on Sunday Night Heat - although since Sunday Night Heat is about to be axed, it's presumably going to be the last one. Call me crazy, but if I was running a token match on a free show which existed for the sole purpose of plugging a PPV, I'd make it a reasonably good one, in the hope of convincing viewers that they might like to watch more wrestling. The WWE don't see it that way, and prefer three-minute squash matches (you know, the ones where one guy gets almost all the offence and the other guy is annihilated). Today's victim is the Japanese wrestler Tajiri, who used to be fairly prominent and still gets a good reaction for his signature moves, but has nonetheless drifted down the card to the point where he's losing to Rob Conway. Conway has just finished a lengthy run in the frankly embarrassing tag team La Resistance (an anti-French gimmick - don't ask), and they're trying to establish him as a singles wrestler under a new gimmick. Unfortunately, nobody can satisfactorily explain what the hell his new gimmick is meant to be, although it seems to involve narcissism, claiming to be a conman for no apparent reason other than a lame pun on his surname, and wearing clothes that make him look like a Soho gimp. Even the commentators don't seem to know quite what to make of him these days, and if they don't know what the point's meant to be, what hope do the audience have? So Conway gets his usual reaction of bemused silence from the crowd, and wins anyway. (sigh)

- WWE Intercontinental Title: Ric Flair -v- Carlito. Rather surprisingly, Flair wins the title in about 12 minutes, with Carlito submitting to his trademark Figure 4 leglock. I really don't see the point in giving him the belt at this point in his career, but so be it. At least it might lend the belt a bit of credibility, although at Flair's age, perhaps not. There's one great bit with Flair finally hitting his double axehandle from the top rope, which is funny if you know that he's tried that move in every single match in the last twenty years, and it always goes wrong. Huge cheers from the audience as Flair finally hits his beloved move, and then drops to his knees in shocked amazement. So he tries it again. And it goes wrong. Beautiful. Otherwise, a pretty uneventful match, and nothing that's really going to change the perception of Carlito as a slightly dull in-ring performer.

- Victoria & Torrie Wilson -v- Trish Stratus & Ashley Massaro. Trish pins Victoria after 7 minutes with her usual finisher (a kick to the head, which the WWE has helpfully christened the Chick Kick. Because she's a girl, you see.) Please, please, please, don't ask Ashley Massaro to wrestle again until she's actually learnt how. I'm sure she's trying her best, but any time she actually tries to perform a move, it's just plain embarrassing. And if she keeps landing like that when she's thrown out of the ring, she's going to break her neck. Anyway, Trish and Victoria carry most of the match, and their stuff was pretty solid. Which is good, because they're going to have to spend a lot of time fighting one another unless the WWE gets around to hiring some more competent female wrestlers.

- The Big Show -v- Gene Snitsky. Well, that's seven minutes of my life I won't get back. As dull as I expected. Big Show wins with his chokeslam.

- Kerwin White -v- Shelton Benjamin. Much as it pains me to say it, the Kerwin White gimmick really isn't working. Fundamentally, it's a comedy act, and people just don't want to see him in a proper match. Which is a shame, because they actually did a pretty good little match here. All logic says that Kerwin should have won this match because he's a new character and needs the credibility, so naturally Shelton wins clean with his Exploder suplex in eight minutes. What can you say?

- Steel Cage Match: Edge -v- Matt Hardy. Matt pins Edge after 20 minutes. My scepticism was wrong. This was precisely the match they needed to do to resolve this storyline (and it had better be the ending, because there's nowhere else to go from here - but the writers have developed a bad habit recently of failing to notice when a story has finished). After weeks of getting his head kicked in, and an alarmingly extended period when this match looked to be going the same way, Matt finally gets his revenge in a gloriously excessive fight, beating the hell out of Edge, fending off the evil ex-girlfriend, and finishing off with an utterly suicidal-looking legdrop from the top of the cage. Which is something like a fifteen foot drop. He must be insane, or at least very cavalier about the future of his spine. Wonderful match, anyhow. Highlight of the show, and they finally got the storyline right for the big finish.

- WWE Tag Team Titles: Cade & Murdoch -v- Hurricane & Rosey. The cowboys win in 8 minutes, to the surprise of precisely nobody. Better than the match they had on Raw, since at least there's a storyline here of sorts. And the cowboys have at least remembered that, as villains, they ought to do something villainous. Still nothing to write home about, though.

- Chris Masters -v- Shawn Michaels. Michaels wins with his superkick in around 17 minutes. Well, what was the point of that? At least they didn't blow the months-long storyline that nobody can break the Masterlock, but given that Masters just got convincingly beaten anyway, they've still undermined it. Internal politics aside, Masters should have won here, because it makes him stronger, while this finish helps nobody and damages Masters. Even if they're giving up on Masters (which they should), they might as well make him stronger so that it means more when a rising star beats him. Technically an okay match, but there's something unutterably dull about Chris Masters and I found my attention wandering time and again.

- WWE Title: Kurt Angle -v- John Cena. The ultimate in unimaginative cheap finishes, as Angle wins by DQ in 17 minutes. (The title doesn't change hands on a disqualification, you see.) I don't mind this ending for matches further down the card, but not in the main event. In fact, they botched the explanation so badly that it came desperately close to being what fans call a Sports Entertainment Finish (a non-ending where the match just seems to be forgotten about). A very good match up to that point, and certainly way above Cena's normal quality levels. But a finish like that doesn't exactly make me want to see the rematch, which is presumably where they're heading.

Still, one excellent and one very good match, and a fair amount of above average stuff. Not a bad show, all told, and the Matt/Edge payoff delivered.

Next PPV: No Mercy, a Smackdown show, on October 9.