This week’s show opened basically where it lest off last week, with Edge toying with both Kane and Paul Bearer. This of course went on through the night, but i’m starting to dislike the angle, so i’ll talk about it all in a oner. The main problem with the angle is that it is starting to get goofy. Surely there are only so many threats and traps Edge can set for Kane to get him upset/angry, and if if this is what the TLC build-up is going to be, we have three weeks of it left. Surely they can’t continue with the idea past next week though! It’s a shame too because the idea of Paul Bearer’s kidnapping affecting Kane is interesting, and a lot of the set-pieces have been disturbing (in a good way). It’s just starting to wear a little thin, and I think we are cracking Kane’s monstrous veneer a little too much considering the dominance he has had of late.
The first King of the Ring qualifier of the night saw Kofi Kingston take on Jack Swagger. There was instant interest in this match as either man could feasibly progress (and become king), so it was genuinely unpredictable. It was a very long match, and not always thrilling as a prominent story was of the calculating Swagger grounding the chaotic style of Kofi Kingston. Swagger looked very strong, at one point apparently having dominated Kofi so much, Kingston was almost out on his feet, at one point, almost collapsing out of the ring. Towards the end of the contest, it became more equal, with both men trading momentum. Swagger tried to end it with his Vader Bomb, only to be countered by Kofi in to Trouble in Paradise for the victory. A good match, but I would have preferred Swagger to have progressed. I will talk about King of the Ring, however, seperately in another post.
In a match of main event booking, the next qualifier saw Alberto Del Rio take on the Big Show. This was an enjoyable match, as Del Rio put on a show of trying to wrestle down the bigger man. He looked very impressive sticking-and-running against the Giant, consistently managing to drive him to his knees or to the canvas completely. An especially well thought out moment came when Del Rio attempted his cross-armbreaker on an already downed Big Show, only for it to be reversed in to a back drop. Thankfully, Del Rio managed to find a way to beat Show, after his personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez managed to distract Show enough to cause a count out. I say ‘thankfully,’ not because I dislike the Big Show, but because I feel his character has gotten stale ever since he became a ‘comedian’ and he certainly had no need to be in the running for King of the Ring.
The third qualifier saw Drew McIntyre take on MVP. Personally, I think both guys should have been in different matches and allowed to progress, but it’s clear there simply wasn’t enough room. This was an excellent match and probably the best match of the night as both men played their respective roles in the match superbly, based, as it was, around a determined MVP with a severely injured arm and a sadistic McIntyre using it to his advantage. It all started with a trademark use of the steel stairs from McIntyre as he stamped on MVP’s arm resting on it. From this point on, he would battle valiantly against McIntyre and give him a very good match before finally being snuffed out by the ‘Sinister Scotsman.’ MVP sold his injury very well (apart from the final conceit of it giving out and causing him to hit his head on the turnbuckle in to a waiting Future Shock DDT) throughout the match, showing the practical ways that sort of injury might affect a wrestler (rather than just wincing everytime it got specifically hit). McIntyre, who played the almost psychopathic aggressor, deserves to be in the competition, I just hope MVP, who has been on something of a push lately, has something else to move in to and grow.
It looks as though LayCool aren’t necessarily getting a Divas title rematch after this week saw them continue their feud with the returning Beth Phoenix, who appeared again after a shock Kelly Kelly victory over Michelle McCool in an ok match. I can see another handicap match in the offing perhaps …
The main event saw Rey Mysterio take on Cody Rhodes for the final spot in next week’s King of the Ring. These two worked very well together I thought, with Rey’s quickness and Cody’s technical and malleable style gelling well. Rhodes was all over Mysterio at the start, hitting him early with a Beautiful Disaster and an Alabama Slam for a believable near fall (especially notable given how early it was in the match). Just in terms of establishment, Rey had to be considered the favourite, so Cody sharing a main event with him was a good rub, and Cody looked very competent against Mysterio, managing to keep a lid on him without dominating him. All the while Alberto Del Rio was at ringside, playing an excellent heel. His comments to the other commentators were nothing special, but just the way he stood in front of the booth with the headphones on made him come across as brilliantly arrogant. It was he that swung the balance in favour of Rhodes, thrusting Mysterio in to a ringpost after Mysterio accidentally hit him with his West Coast Pop. Rhodes took advantage, hitting the Cross-Rhodes and thankfully (for the exact same reasons as concerned Big Show) getting the victory.
With neither Mysterio or Big Show making the King of the Ring cut, there is, rightly, a collection of great young talent in the brackets for the competition. But i’ll discuss this more in my upcoming King of the Ring post.