Sunday, September 7, 2014

WWE Network Reviews: Night of Champions 2008

Night of Champions 2008
June 29th, 2008 – American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas – Attendance: 16,151

So, I'm taking a break from my usual “Through the Years” and “Random Network Reviews” stuff to review the history of Night of Champions. As part of the buildup to the 2014 edition of this show, it was suggested to me that I review the previous incarnations and my readers seemed to like the idea so here we go. Now, in 2007 the WWE presented Vengeance: Night of Champions, but I decided to only review the shows just named Night of Champions. The premise of the event is for every single title to be defended and it's a really cool idea.

The opening video package highlights every champion and then focuses on the two big title matches. Those seem to be Edge defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Batista while Triple H puts the WWE Title on the line against John Cena. The Game is looking to avenge his WrestleMania 22 loss to John Cena. The commentary team from Smackdown is Jim Ross and Mick Foley while Raw is headed up by Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler.

WWE Tag Team Championship
John Morrison and The Miz (c) vs. Finlay and Hornswoggle

Man, the WWE Tag Team Titles were so pretty. I don't have an issue with midget wrestling, I find it entertaining, but Hornswoggle should not be in a WWE Tag Team Title match. That being said, I see why they chose to open with this because the crowd was hot for him. Miz and Morrison try to isolate him early on but Finlay loves to fight, comes in and hits stereo seated sentons with his son. The Champions now double team Finlay and work him over. This is interesting because Finlay can't make the hot tag to his son can he? Well Hornswoggle tags himself in and hits a head scissors on Miz. He even gets a near fall and Morrison kicks him in the back as he runs off the ropes because cheap shots to midgets are golden for cheap heat. Hornswoggle actually gets in offense and nearly tags his dad but eats a double clothesline. Miz misses the Awesome Clothesline in the corner but tags Morrison before Hornswoggle can tag his dad. Morrison slaps him up but toys wit him too long and he wriggles free to tag Finlay. He connects with the Celtic Cross but as Hornswoggle goes for the Tadpole Splash, Morrison slams him from the top and puns him with a hook of the leg.

Winners and Still WWE Tag Team Champions: John Morrison and The Miz in 8:48
The crowd was hot for this and John Morrison and The Miz played their heel roles well. It served its purpose and did what it had to. **

Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole take us back to the only other one on one match between John Cena and Triple H from WrestleMania 22 where Cena made Triple H tap out. I remember this being the first time that the Cena hate was loud on a big stage. Because Triple H was drafted to Smackdown, there was no World Title on Raw so everyone assumed either John Cena or Batista would bring a belt to Raw.

WWE United States Championship
Matt Hardy (c) vs. Chavo Guerrero w/ Bam Neely

I think it's funny that the Cruiserweight Title is one of the banners on the stage, but they cheaply wrote ECW on it to pass it off as a title that would be defended tonight. Speaking of ECW, there's an ECW referee for this Smackdown match. Basic wrestling sequence to open things until the crowd starts to chant “Let's Go Hardy!” Matt was on the fat side of his career here. Chavo goes for the knee and works it on the post. He applies a lazy looking submission before turning it into a different submission. He goes for a swanton bomb of sorts, but Hardy rolls out of the way and they're down until the dramatic count of...three. Matt gets in some offense on one leg and is selling very well. He hits the Side Effect for two and goes to the second rope. He does his stupid yell and hits a weak looking elbow. He goes up again but Chavo pulls him off and it's half crab time. Matt reaches the ropes but ends up back in the half crab less than a minute later. He gets the ropes again and Chavo goes for Three Amigos, which gets a lot boos. Before the third amigo though, Matt counters with a Twist of Fate to retain.

Winner and Still WWE United States Champion: Matt Hardy in 9:20
Some good psychology here. Chavo found a body part, focused on it and Matt sold it like a champ. Chavo looked good and Matt was resilient until the end. ***

We now get a recap of the absurdly stupid Mr. McMahon's Million Dollar giveaway. It ends with the stage falling apart and injuring Vince. Triple H and Edge even broke character to sell the moment but I don't think that anything ever even came of this. Next we cut to the ECW announce team and I totally forgot they were here. Oh my god it's Mike motherfuckin' Adamle. Tazz is there too but whatever.

ECW Championship
Kane (c) vs. Big Show vs. Mark Henry

“Slow Chemical” is easily one of the best theme songs in WWE history. I totally expect this to be a slug fest and these guys wisely go right for it. Don't try and be what you're not fellas. Kane gets knocked outside and we get a preview of the 2011 World Heavyweight Title feud as Show and Henry go at it. Neither guy really gets a big advantage until Show slams Henry. Trainers and doctors come to check on Kane who landed awkwardly when he fell out of the ring. We get a very nonathletic version of the double clothesline spot that gives Kane the time to get involved and hit a flying clothesline. He hits a few more shots in the corner before he and Show double chokeslam Henry. The former tag team champions get into it and Kane busts out an enziguri. He tries another flying clothesline but is caught with a chokeslam. Kane kicks out though and Show is pissed. He decides to climb up top for some reason and Kane suplexes him off. Mark Henry instantly hits the World's Strongest Splash on Kane to win.

Winner and New ECW Champion: Mark Henry in 8:16
Not very good. It was slower than I even expected between these three. Kane's injury was an odd thing to throw in here. *1/2

Eve Torres interviews Batista and asks if he will bring the World Title to Raw. He says he will and that he's going to be the man on Raw. John Cena is like “OH NO YOU CAN'T TAKE MY SPOT”. They go face to face and are interrupted by CM Punk, who says he wants one of them to win the title, shows off his Money in the Bank briefcase and leaves.

World Tag Team Championship
Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly (c) vs. Ted Dibiase and a Mystery Partner

Ted Dibiase's “Priceless” theme is terrible, even worse than his auto tuned garbage of his Smackdown singles run. Dibiase says that his partner is running late and wants to wait ten minutes. He chooses to start on his own and when Cody goes to start, he demands Holly. Cody tags in Holly and DDTs him instantly. Dibiase introduces his partner as Cody Rhodes, gets the tag and hits Dream Street to end it.

Winners and New World Tag Team Champions: Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase in 1:28
Obviously, I can't give this a real rating due to what happened. It served it's purpose though and was the start of a fun tag team. No Rating

Todd Grisham is in a luxury suite with John “Bradshaw” Layfield. He's upset that he doesn't have a match on this show in his home state. His promo goes on for too long, no matter how good he is at this character.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kofi Kingston

This is shortly after Jericho threw Shawn Michaels through the Jeritron 5000 and right before he engaged in the incredible feud with him. He cuts a pre-match promo on Shawn Michaels and Lance Cade is shown outside. When he returned in late 2007, Jericho was fizzling out because he was doing more of the same but he got to show off a more aggressive side here and it worked for him. Kofi meanwhile, was being incredibly athletic with leap frogs, baseball slides, and a dive to the outside. Once outside though, Jericho's aggressiveness takes over and he rams Kofi into the apron. Jericho hits a nice suplex from the apron back in but only gets two with it. Jericho uses an abdominal stretch and continues to be rather vicious. Kofi counters a second rope back suplex into a pinning combination for two. They get up at the same time and Kofi starts to mount a rally. Jericho, however, in his infinite awesomeness, counters the Boom Drop in mid-air into the Walls of Jericho! Kofi counters into a small package for two and hits the Boom Drop for another near fall. The crowd is really into this now. Jericho gets the Walls on and it's more Liontamer than Walls which is outstanding. Shawn Michaels comes in through the crowd and takes out Cade with Sweet Chin Music. Jericho knocks him off the apron, allowing Kingston to hit Trouble in Paradise and win the belt.

Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Kofi Kingston in 10:59
I really enjoyed this. Kofi Kingston looked good and Chris Jericho stayed strong because of the HBK distraction. Jericho seemed to be enjoying the more aggressive offense he got to do and of course, he puts over the young talent. ***1/4

Shawn Michaels re-injured his eye and is helped to the back by officials, but Jericho catches up to them and punches him in the eye. Shawn sells like a champ as always.

Vickie Guerrero, Edge and Alicia Fox, before her debut as an in-ring competitor are all shown in Vickie's office as they prepare for the upcoming nuptials . Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder come in and aren't confident on Edge's chances tonight and he talks about how good he is.

WWE Women's Championship
Mickie James (c) vs. Katie Lea Burchill w/ Paul Burchill

I'd like to point out that I totally miss Mickie James and I also really enjoyed Katie Lea. Sister Burchill gets three near falls within the first minute and that makes sense because Katie holds two pins on Mickie coming into this. STORYTELLING. Mickie gets on the offensive, shout something and climbs to the top, so Katie goes outside to talk strategy with Paul. Inside, Katie targets the left shoulder of the Champion and she is selling it well. Mickie stupidly tries a clothesline with her left arm and hurts herself, so Katie hits a single arm DDT. I've always respected that move. Mickie hits her hurricanrana in the corner as sign guy gets back to his seat in the front row. DIVAS MATCHES AREN'T BATHROOM BREAKS GUY! James calls for the Mick-DT and just like Matt Hardy, I don't know why she has to do a weird yell before the move. Katie counters into an armbar but Mickie survives. She ends up hitting the Mick-DT from out of nowhere and keeps the belt.

Winner and Still WWE Women's Champion: Mickie James in 7:21
Solid little match. It's a shame that Katie Lea didn't get more chances after this. The arm work was well done and well sold. The crowd didn't much care for it which hurt. **

We see the results of a poll on who will bring a title back to Raw. 32% for Batista, 31% for both, 30% for John Cena and 7% for neither. A recap is now shown for the build to Edge/Batista.

World Heavyweight Championship
Edge (c) vs. Batista

Early on, Edge is overwhelmed by Batista's huge power advantage. Edge ends up being his cunning self and knocking Batista outside and into the announce table. Edge stomps away when Batista gets in the ring. He knocks him outside again and seems to be trying to win in any possible way as he is looking for a countout. You know, I don't think there is anybody that Edge had bad chemistry with. He does try a rear naked choke but Batista counters. His attempt at momentum is stopped when he eats a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle. Things start to become a slug fest, so Edge wisely hits a neckbreaker because he wants no part of this. The referee might be Micky James, they call him Micky Henson but I know that Mickie James shared a name with a referee. Not sure if it's him though. Edge gets a near fall with a sunset flip type rollup and runs into a huge clothesline from The Animal. Both guys are down until the count of nine and Batista delivers some big shoulder thrusts. Edge gets caught in the Black Hole/Boss Man Slam and then Batista hits his terrible Spear for two. Batista hits a big slam and signals for the Batista Bomb. Edge counters with the Edgecution but only gets two. Vickie gets wheeled out to the ring by Hawkins and Ryder as Batista leaps over Edge's Spear. That was surprising. Batista hits a spinebuster and Vickie pulls the referee to stop the count. Edge goes for the Spear again but gets tossed into the corner. Edge pulls the official outside and punches him in the face. Vickie calls for another referee and it's Chavo Guerrero! His theme even plays. “OOOH CHAVO”. Batista gets his hands on Vickie as La Familia stands there shouting and not helping. He press slams her onto them, but Edge comes in with the World Title and lays him out. Chavo comes in and counts the three.

Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Edge in 16:47
This was fun. Edge plays the heel so perfectly and Batista looked like a beast as he should. If memory serves right, CM Punk would win the World Title from Edge the next night to get a belt on Raw. Even the interference made sense because Edge was an opportunist and Batista was an animal. ***1/2

Batista is pissed in the ring for a while before they finally cut away. Triple H is shown walking towards the arena and is interviewed by Todd Grisham. He keeps it short and sweet, saying he's going to do what he should've done two years ago. The video package talks about moments that all wrestling fans remember and it features the infamous “WITH A TEAR IN MY EYE” promo from Flair and first WWE Title wins from Eddie Guerrero, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels and more. Good stuff to make this seem like a HUGE deal.

WWE Championship
Triple H (c) vs. John Cena

Triple H is incredibly tanned compared to John Cena and it's distracting. As he gets the upper hand early on, he DX crotch chops in Cena's direction to a pop. I assume that Cena will “you can't see me” Hunter if he gets the advantage. I was wrong, he salutes him instead but it's the same message. Things sort of break down as Cena hits a fisherman suplex and goes for the “FIVE MOVES OF DOOM” but HHH wisely dodges a shoulder block and Cena crashes to the outside. Cena fights back and this time, hits the shoulder block/shoulder block/spin out move that I can't remember the name of combo. HHH stops him before he gets the Five Knuckle Shuffle though and hits the high knee. VINTAGE TRIPLE H. Cena hits a big bulldog and goes for the STFU but HHH shoves him off. Five Knuckle Shuffle attempt is again stopped, this time by another high knee. You would think Cena would learn to not try it by now. Double A spinebuster from the Game and he's got his mind on victory. Cena counters and sends HHH into the corner, he badly oversells and falls outside, injuring his knee. This is a kayfabe injury folks. Like a shark smelling blood, Cena goes for the leg, wrapping it around the post a few times. Cena goes for the FU in the ring, HHH reverses and hits the Pedigree. He only gets two because he takes a bit to cover due to his knee. They are both down and take until the count of eight to get up but once they do, Cena connects with the FU. He takes long to cover and only gets two. They're both down again until eight and then trade right hands. The crowd is clearly pro Triple H. Cena ducks a shot, and third time's the charm for Five Knuckle Shuffle. Triple H holds the ropes to block the FU but Cena reverses the Pedigree into the STFU! It's a good callback for WrestleMania 22. HHH counters into the Crippler Crossface! Ohmygod. You can't do that move. Because he's not human, Cena gets to his feet from this and tries the FU but it's blocked and it's Pedigree time. The Game gets the three.

Winner and Still WWE Champion: Triple H in 19:49
Two of the best of all time put on another good one. They have really good chemistry and John Cena steps up in another big match. That's a clean loss of his that I totally forgot about.****

Overall: 7/10. Good. I thought this was an enjoyable Pay-Per-View. The main event is great, while the World Title and Intercontinental Title are both really good. Throw in a solid Women's Title match and a surprising United States Title match and that's a lot of good. The two tag team matches were pretty poor though and the ECW Title match was just not good, which hurt the score.

Random Network Reviews: Old School 10/28/91

Old School
10/28/91 – Madison Square Garden

As you recently saw with my Clash of the Champions XIV review, I'm expanding “Random Network Reviews” a bit. It started as just Pay-Per-Views but I've added Clash of the Champions, Saturday Night's Main Events and Old Schools from the WWE Network to this section. I picked out my first Old School card and it's from a time period that I thought was pretty cool. October of 1991 and this show is from my favorite wrestling venue, Madison Square Garden. Looking at this card, I think it has some potential to be a fun viewing for me and I hope it goes well.

The intro video that the WWE Network has put together for their “Old School” vault is cool. I'd like it if they turned this into a “Live Event” section so we could get some recent live events too. The commentary team tonight is Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan and Lord Alfred Hayes.

Big Bully Busick vs. Texas Tornado
If you are unsure of who Busick is, just know that he has one of the best mustaches in the history of our sport. Yes, I went Tony Schiavone there. Tornado knocks him down after a feeling out process and the crowd really likes him. He whips Big Bully into the corner and hits a hip toss coming out of it. A test of strength is won by Tornado until Busick uses a cheap shot. The announce team promotes the upcoming Survivor Series event. Big Bully's offense seems to be exactly what it should be and that's power. He works over Tornado with a clothesline and some clubs before hitting a scoop slam. Bully mistakenly climbs to the second rope and Tornado TOTALLY TELEGRAPHS that he's going to counter this. Once Bully jumps, Tornado catches him with a sloppy looking Claw that he's able to break with the ropes. The crowd has quieted significantly and Bully applies a sleeper hold. Tornado breaks it in the ropes and hits the big Tornado punch to win.

Winner: Texas Tornado in 7:05
Boring opener as they killed a crowd that was pumped for the Texas Tornado. It also went too long. *1/4

The British Bulldog vs. Irwin R. Schyster
Before the match, IRS calls out the people of New York for their tax cheating ways. Surprisingly, in the early goings, IRS is in control. Bulldog gets sick of that and slams IRS around a few times before hitting him with a big running clothesline. IRS takes a breather or two as he stalls for a while. Bulldog impresses with a leapfrog, causing IRS to take yet another breather outside. Apparently, Irwin was undefeated at this point. He does a far less impressive leapfrog and Bulldog dropkicks him outside, where Irwin regroups again. Way too much of that right now. We get a little wrestling sequence back inside that IRS wins with a head scissors and he uses the ropes for leverage. IRS uses Bulldog's momentum later and sends him outside, though it looked sloppy. Time for another rest hold as IRS uses the abdominal stretch and again holds the ropes for leverage. A leg drop gets Irwin a near fall. Bulldog gets sent outside AGAIN. There's been more standing around than anything in this match. Want to know what comes next? ANOTHER REST HOLD. IRS puts him in a headlock and uses the ropes again. He hits a kitchen sink for two and again goes for a headlock. My goodness, why is this so damn long? Bulldog fights out but takes a shoulder block. IRS continues to take his time and doesn't pin. Bulldog finally knocks IRS outside and they announce that there's less than three minutes left in the time limit. Oh my god this is going to go to a draw. They continue to stall and the time expires.

Time Limit Draw at 20:00
It's clear now why they stalled so damn much. This was terrible. A whole lot of nothing was going on and it featured way too many nonsense rest holds. Couldn't this have had a 10 or 15 minute time limit? DUD

They tease five more minutes, but I forever love IRS for backing down and leaving.

Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart vs. The Mountie w/ Jimmy Hart
Neidhart calls Mountie a jailbird before the match because the last time the WWF was in MSG was for SummerSlam '91 and the Mountie got arrested. Neidhart wants to wrestle but Mountie kicks him in the gut. He goes to slam the Anvil, but realizes that it's a dumb idea. Anvil scoop slams him three straight times and we get another heel who decides to stall outside. Mountie challenges Neidhart for a shoulder block and gets run down. He goes for it again and wisely drops down but still gets hip tossed. He goes outside for consultation again and then uses a distraction from the Mouth of the South to get in the driver's seat. Mountie now uses underhanded tactics to get the crowd to continue to boo him. Anvil ducks under two leapfrogs and slams Mountie's face into the mat before following with a backdrop. Neidhart misses a knee and runs into the corner, allowing the Mountie to roll him up with a handful of tights.

Winner: The Mountie in 11:18
The best match of the night so far, but that's not saying much. There was still too much stalling, but they both played their roles well. **

Ric Flair w/ Bobby Heenan vs. Roddy Piper
How cool is it that Ric Flair walked around with the WCW World Title during this time? Flair does a clean break to start and lets out a hearty “woo!” He does another and Piper spits at him. This is Flair's first ever match in Madison Square Garden, which is pretty historic. Flair was in control in the early goings until Piper rallies. The crowd is really into this one as they spill outside. Back inside, Flair uses a thumb to the eyes to take back control and drops a knee on Hot Rod. Piper uses a rally and a big kitchen sink to change things yet again. Flair begs and backs away into the corner, so Piper delivers ten punches there. He goes for a bulldog and WHAT A SURPRISE, gets shoved right into Earl Hebner. A second official comes out and Flair argues with him, allowing Piper to roll him up for two. They trade chops in the corner and Flair does his signature bump. With the referees both preoccupied, Flair whacks Piper with a steel chair and covers. Somehow, Piper kicks out and gets Flair in the Sleeper Hold! Flair quickly counters with a back suplex though and climbs up top. Because it's Flair, this of course fails and he gets slammed to the mat. Piper eats a bunch of Flair chops that have no effect and hits a neckbreaker. Piper tries to use a chair but gets stopped, so Flair levels him and pins him with his feet on the ropes.

Winner: Ric Flair in 11:59
Not bad at all. Both guys tried their best and the crowd was red hot. The main issue was the abrupt and out of nowhere finish. **3/4

Roddy Piper uses the chair and takes out the referee and Ric Flair after the match. Cutting backstage, Sean Mooney interviews Flair. He continues to call out Hulk Hogan because he's the real World Champion. Man, Flair/Hogan should've happened at WrestleMania XIII, but whatever. Macho Man/Flair was awesome.

The Big Boss Man vs. Colonel Mustafa
HES THE IRON SHIEK, I DONT CARE WHAT YOU SAY! Oh great, as if he didn't bore me enough earlier, IRS comes out and claims that Boss Man shouldn't be allowed to wrestle because he's a tax cheat. The Iron Sheik uses that distraction to club away at the Boss Man, but he fights back and delivers ten punches in the corner. I believe that I just saw Fred Savage, or whichever one was from the Wonder Years in the crowd. Sheik uses some sort of weapon from his boot on Boss Man. Commentary has completely ignored this match as they are just talking about Flair and Hogan. Despite Sheik's cheating, he gets caught in the Boss Man Slam and stays down for the count.

Winner: The Big Boss Man in 4:54
Nothing match. Was used as filler after the Flair/Piper match. *

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Bret Hart (c) vs. The Berzerker

Bret is sporting his fantastic pink jacket and Gorilla Monsoon mentions that he's never seen the Berzerker pin anybody which is funny. He attacks Bret at the bell as the crowd goes “Huss! Huss!” Bret hits a series of dropkicks and the last one knocks Berzerker outside. He runs back in but gets clotheslined right back out, only to run in and get an atomic drop that takes him outside. The challenger uses a headbutt to turn the tide and commentary has now decided to turn the discussion to Berzerker's Ugg like boots. Berzerker is in control because who would give Berzerker offense and make him look good? BRET HART THATS WHO! Berzerker misses a second rope leg drop like an idiot but hits a big kitchen sink, which was apparently a popular move in 1991. REST HOLD TIME! Berzerker hits a piledriver but Bret kicks out. He is really dominating this match but misses a shoulder block and Bret crotches him on the top rope. Ever the technician, Bret tries a small package and gets two, followed by the best backbreaker in wrestling history. Second rope elbow earns him a near fall though. Just like he would in the future against guys like Diesel and the Undertaker, he targets the legs. He goes for the Sharpshooter but Berzerker blocks it. When they get up, Bret uses a crucifix to retain.

Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Bret Hart in 10:18
Would've been better if the Berzerker didn't control things. Bret sold like a champ though so that helped. **1/2

El Matador vs. Hercules
According to Gorilla, this is the debut of El Matador. He starts the match by goading Hercules into charging at his Matador cape or whatever they're called. Matador and Hercules run the ropes and Matador hits a drop toe hold. OLE! They go in the corner and Chico Santana reels off a few of the ten punches and gets a near fall with it. OLE! Hercules is tired of these games and clotheslines the jalapenos out of Santana. Am I racist for throwing out all of these OLE and jalapeno references? No because his finisher was the flying jalapeno. He applies every powerhouse heel's favorite submission, the bearhug! He fights out but gets clotheslined down anyway. Bearhug is back on. Matador fights out again, OLE! The Flying Jalapeno is hit but Hercules is too close to the ropes. Matador hits a flying forearm to the back of the neck and wins.

Winner: El Matador in 9:11
Decent little filler match. Again, a bit too much rest time with the bearhug but it kept my interest. **

WWF Tag Team Championship
The Legion of Doom (c) vs. The Natural Disasters w/ Jimmy Hart

This should be a barn burner, also known as a brawl that's not going to be the best worked match of the night. I could be wrong. We get multiple tests of strength in the early goings as LOD are really good at keeping up with the much bigger Natural Disasters. Animal knocks down Earthquake with an impressive shoulder block. Earthquake puts on a bearhug, big surprise, but actually does surprise me with a belly to belly suplex. Things stall heavily with, you guessed it, another bearhug. Earthquake should've won with a slam as Hawk was late to break up the count and the referee had to stutter. Hawk gets the hot tag and fires away, even hitting a dropkick. The Natural Disasters are near victory but things break down and they toss the referee out of the ring, resulting in the disqualification.

Winners via disqualification: The Legion of Doom in 8:02
Kept relatively short and featured some hard hitting stuff, so that was fine. **

Hawk clears the ring of the Natural Disasters and helps Animal up to close the show.

Overall: 3/10; Poor. Maybe because it was a non-televised event, but guys didn't seem to bring their A game. The best match was under three stars and British Bulldog and IRS bored me to tears. It could've been worse though as a few things clocked in around two or so stars. Next time on “Random Network Reviews” I take a long look at WCW Hog Wild 1996!