The show stared out, unexpectedly, with ‘the chairman of the board,’ Mr. McMahon, waxing serious about the recent NXT rebel attacks and reminding us that Bret Hart would be in some way puniching his attackers on RAW. This was followed by the intoduction of Drew McIntyre for his Intercontinental title match as a way of reasserting the strength of their special relationship. This was understandable. What was confusing (in retrospect) was the shot of Mr. McMahon leaving in his limosine. Especially given the limosine-related attack on Bret Hart, this seemed to set up some sort of NXT angle involving McMahon. Alas, this was the last we saw of him …
Drew cut a decent heel promo, calling out his current ‘rival,’ Teddy Long with the understanding that he would make the Smackdown GM personally award him the IC title upon capturing it. This was one of the matches of the night, partly due to the high level of technical acumen, and in part due to the excellent storytelling of the match’s conclusion. Drew still needs a bit more depth in his move-set, but that doesn’t really show during the match because his smash-mouth style is so entrenched. It compliments Kofi’s unpredictable, high-flying style very well though, and i’d like to see this develop in to a full-blown feud. The story, as I say, was remarkable, with Teddy finally standing up to his ‘bully’ (I suppose going some way to legitimise the footage of Vince leaving). The way Drew forced him to put the referees shirt on Teddy was very powerful, a visual symbol of him putting the onus on Teddy, and while Drew lost, the clarity of his ability to beat Kofi was underlined by Teddy’s refusal to count. The involvement of Matt Hardy not only made Drew look less weak in losing, but showed the depth of this storyline.
There’s not too much to say about the divas match. While they can be highly successful, fatal four ways are poor mediums when trying to show off great wresting as the story inevitably turns to each man or woman constantly stopping others from winning. This one wasn’t very good though, not necessarily because of the competitors (who are all ok to talented wrestlers), but because it was too short and didn’t flow very well. While I would’ve wanted Eve to keep the title a while longer, and while i’m not sure whether A. Fox is ready for the post, Alicia Fox is certainly an intriguing personality, and I look forward to seeing how she deals with the spotlight.
Just when I was starting to wonder what the last WWE PPV was that didn’t feature Chris Jericho, his music hit to an impressive pop. Jericho’s low profile of late may or may not have been intentional in the wake of his promo which seems to signal the start of a tweaked, less confident, character. This wasn’t too apparant during his match with Evan Bourne – which was, incidentally, the best match of the night – in which the story was of the veteran being one step ahead of the newcomer. Bourne performed very well in his own right, and I wouldn’t want to take that away from him, but Jericho makes everyone he wrestles look even better. His genius, as in this match, is often to incorporate his opponants size or style with his own to create absolutely unique passages, like when he rolled through into the Walls of Jericho in a unique and surprising way, or when Bourne missed his Shooting Star Press before walking in to a Codebreaker. This is a great feud for Bourne to get over with, and I hope it continues. Given the pop he got, and the more humble side of Jericho, it could be one that finally sees him turn face, (perhaps in some sort of mentoring role?).
We the had the Smackdown main event. This match was pretty good, but a little too short for my liking. The ending seemed a bit sudden, and perhaps made Kane’s innevitable involvement a little less earth-shattering. To be honest, Rey regaining the title was something I never even considered. I had a feeling he would never again be World Heavyweight Champion, but as soon as Kane arrived and attacked Punk, I had a gut feeling Rey was going to win. This is just my instinct, but I think (and hope) this solidifies Rey’s place as the Undertaker’s attacker. Though CM Punk was attacked by Kane, there is no way in hell he is the actual attacker. The sharpness of Kane’s conclusion, heading straight for Punk and removing him in the space of about a minute was too quick to be considered an acceptable conclusion. The way Mysterio benefitted from the attack, and his facial expression during the Smackdown segments with Kane incriminate him in my view. It’s all very fascinating, as for the match again, I think it could have done with a few more minutes of the four competitors wrestling, and when Kane arrived, his involvement could have lasted longer and caused more upheaval, legitimising even more his affect on the match and more directly causing (if my instincts about Mysterio are correct) Swagger’s loss. It is my hope that Swagger finds himself in a decent feud/storyline following his reign that will see him cemented in the main event. I’m sure he will.
Miz and R-Truth the fough over the US title. This was an exercise in cementing Miz’s title reign, but the match was pretty good. Miz’s rap at the start was pretty good and funny, and showed just how charismatic the man is even compared with R-Truth, who’s rap seemed a bit flat after the round mocking it received from Miz. I don’t know what the plans are for Miz and the US title, but Miz reasserted himself as an up-and-coming player.
Another unannounced match was between the Hart Dynasty and the Uso’s. This was a pretty good match but carried by the Harts, and I was really pleased to see Natalya get decent ring-time. Despite the decent quality of the match, it was a little out-of-the-blue and even repetative given their numerous encounters with the Uso’s in recent weeks. This has happened to them before, when they got bogged down in a feud with the late Cryme Tyme. I hope this doesn’t happen again, and that their feud has some new aspects to it soon, or it may become tiresome.
The main event was for the WWE Championship, and as soon as we saw the Harts and Evan Bourne watching backstage, it was clear – if not already so – that the NXT rebels would have some sort of involvement. Even before that though, the match was really quite good, if a bit clunky in progression, with one man hitting a few of his signature moves, before another man hit a few of his and so on. This eventually became more naturally flowing however, with a feel of a main event which any four of them could win, even to the point where an NXT invasion seemed less inevitable, and therefore, still surprising. The approaching noise of the NXT rebels destroying the set, approaching the ring like a storm was exciting to see happening. Again, the commentary was cut off, creating extra shock value to the ending of the match. I had a feeling Edge would again be ‘the ultimate opportunist’ and take the title, but I was quite happy to see Sheamus take it in the end. Now that he’s the WWE Champion, it’ll be interesting to see whether the NXT target shifts to him. While Edge tried to attack the NXT rebels, it seemed Sheamus acted more selfishly, stealing the win. Will this make Shaemus an even bigger heel, turning against the WWE lockerroom, or will him becoming the NXT target of the rebels help perhaps turn him face? This just goes to show the wide-ranging possibilities of this brilliant storyline!
On a final note, I understand this PPV ended 30 minutes before they (roughly) usually do. This is a shame, and just seems a little silly. They could have used all or part of those 30 minutes to extend the shorter and perhaps weaker matches on the card, for instance, the World Heavyweight Championship match, the Divas Title match, even the main event, which wasn’t that short, but would have grown even more in tension with more time. It seems like a bit of a needless mistake in my view. But that nonetheless doesn’t take away from what was a pretty good PPV, with lots of good storytelling, despite one or two slightly forgettable matches. With all fatal four way matches producing new champions, this will no doubt ensure the reputation of this stipulation of one of high jeopardy for the champion, a notion that is an interesting one on which to base a PPV.