Sunday, January 18, 2009

Running 2009 MOTY List

1. John Cena v Shawn Michaels, WWE RAW, 1/12
2. Matt Hardy v Jack Swagger, WWE ECW, 1/13
3. Big Show v MVP, WWE Smackdown!, 1/16
4. Finlay v Jack Swagger, WWE ECW, 1/6
5. Kurt Angle v Jeff Jarrett, TNA Genesis, 1/11
6. John Cena and Shawn Michaels v Chris Jericho and Randy Orton, WWE RAW, 1/5
7. Big Show v Triple H, WWE Smackdown!, 1/9
8. Chris Sabin v Alex Shelley, TNA Genesis, 1/11
9. The Miz and John Morrison v Rey Mysterio and Kofi Kingston, WWE RAW, 1/5

1. John Cena v Shawn Michaels, WWE RAW, 1/12

So I'm watching RAW and notice there's thirty-five minutes left in the show and they're starting the entrances for this match, and all I can think is 'motherFUCK yes!', and this did not let me down at all. The tag match the week before was largely built around the Shawn/JBL drama and held down by Cena's strong face-in-peril work. This match is built largely around the Shawn/JBL drama (JBL is right at ringside for the entire match this week, and he once again nearly steals the entire show by just being there), Cena being the world champion, and callbacks to the Cena/Michaels RAW match from 2007 (i.e. Shawn reversing a top-rope F-U attempt into a powerbomb). This is really worked with Cena working from the top, staring down Shawn near the start of the match, getting outfoxed by Michaels for the advantage as opposed to just being outwrestled by him, really working a subtle heel that he is awesome at. Not as awesome as the selling babyface champ, but still really awesome. I said Shawn is getting better as time goes by, his execution hasn't necessarily come along with him. His chops still suck, his crossface has never looked worse, he still does those flashy-but-annoying-if-you-think-about-it-for-even-two-seconds 'athletic' bumps from corner whips. But his role here is to build the drama between him and JBL, be the catalyst to build drama between Cena and JBL, create drama in the match as he has to outthink the dominant world champ to get ahead of him at all. So even though the way he does things still makes you put your head in your hands from time to time, he is really great at bringing drama into things, and I am more than fine with Cena carrying the wrestling load at this point. Cena sells like a champ for everything Shawn does, Shawn returns the favor, everything is worked like a big, dramatic, pay-per-view main event that you just happen to be getting for free on RAW. Finishing run is really good, Cena kicks out of a DDT, Shawn kicks out of the F-U, Cena kicks out of the superkick, Shawn gets to the ropes from the STF, and then a second superkick finally puts Shawn down. I hope stuff like that doesn't become a trend in big WWE matches this year, but with the running history between these two and the way the match was booked, I'm fine with the finisher kickouts. If this had happened in 2008, it probably would have been my third favorite Shawn Michaels match. Probably my third favorite Cena match, too.

2. Matt Hardy v Jack Swagger, WWE ECW, 1/13

ECW is taped before RAW now, so technically this is the first of the great WWE television matches from this week. It's almost as if someone was sitting there watching the TNA show and thinking 'you know... two of these matches are pretty good... fuck that shit, let's put three better matches on free shows this week'. There's absolutely no chance that happened, but it's kind of fun to think about. Anyway, I came into this match expecting a complete fuck finish, thinking there was no way they were doing the title change on a free show. Shows what I know. As good as I think Finlay is, I think Matt Hardy has passed him for the spot of 'best television match wrestler' in the company. Much like last week's Swagger match was a signature Finlay television match, this week's is the signature Hardy 'injure a body part' television match. This is a title change match, though, so both guys totally bring it. I mean Matt always brings it, but he's working like he wants another title shot real soon. Swagger always brings it, but he's working like he wants to start off his title reign with a great match. Both guys bust ass and really sell the struggle between the two of them. A lot has been said about the Hardy powerbomb spot, and it really is as great as everyone says it is. My one complaint is that Swagger's Red White And Blue Thunderbomb (they really need to call it this more often) doesn't look the best it's ever looked. Whatever. This has a shockingly big match atmosphere for an ECW show, but it's the best wrestling show on television so maybe that shouldn't be a shock. Really, really awesome match, fuck that crowd for getting both this and the Cena/Michaels match. I came in hoping for Big Show/Hardy at WrestleMania for the ECW title, now I totally want Finlay/Swagger. And more importantly, I want about a thousand rematches with these two between now and April.

3. Big Show v MVP, WWE Smackdown!, 1/16

The logic in running back-to-back last man standing matches on your free Friday show is kind of suspect. WWE has been running a pretty absurd number of these since the Cena/Umaga Rumble match two years ago, and at some point this stipulation won't mean a whole lot. Last week's was different and unique because it told a story of a guy who had the odds stacked against him actually succumbing to the odds and getting destroyed, which is not at all what you expect from WWE last man standing matches. So at first you wonder why they're doing Triple H/Big Show LMS two weeks in a row. Then they switch Triple H and MVP and hoooooly shit what a difference that makes. Big Show really is the best wrestler on Smackdown! right now, but MVP is right there at number two, and putting you two best wrestlers in a lengthy television match is generally going to be pretty ok in my books. MVP is working a five month losing streak, Big Show is working a three week 'I think being out here is pretty pointless and I may get bored and leave but if I'm going to be out here I might as well crack skulls' streak. As such, the match is worked with MVP trying to tag Big Show with punches and kicks, keep moving to avoid Show's attacks, and trap Show into falling for the ten count. Of course, things do not go according to plan, with Big Show repeatedly catching and wrecking MVP. This is where MVP gets to show some some impressive babyface tenacity, struggling to his feet each time with the crowd chanting his name. He is fighting for himself, he is fighting for Triple H, he is fighting for everyone in the crowd who believes in him and is cheering for him. You can get all sorts of meta with the inner struggle of MVP here. Or you can just appreciate this match for the two best wrestlers on the roster working a clever last man standing match with a nice story that, once again, differs from the normal last man standing match we see. The finish, Triple H interfering and hitting Show in the head with a sledgehammer, works on two levels: first, Triple H is way more protected and he got essentially squashed by Big Show in this same match so there's no way MVP is winning by himself; and second, the sledgehammer has been a protected weapons spot for as long as Triple H has been a headliner and having it take down Show for the count actually subtly puts over Show's knockout punch, which put Triple H down for the count the week before. This match ruled, and I am excited for babyface MVP.

4. Finlay v Jack Swagger, WWE ECW, 1/6

Right before they lock up, Finlay gets this giant grin on his face, as if to say 'oh man, this is gonna be fun'. Well, anything that's fun for Finlay is probably going to be fun for me. This is more than fun, this is killer. Most of the pre-break parts feel like the Finlay/Lashley matches, big amateur guy being carried to a good match by Finlay. I like Lashley, and I liked those matches. But fuck that, Jack Swagger is way better and this match is way better. Swagger keeps eating Finlay's strikes all match, and every now and then he decides to lay one right back into him, he busts Finlay's mouth open right before the break and then, of all things, gets heat on Hornswoggle. Has anyone done that since JBL? Long ECW showcase match means that Finlay is going to be selling for most of it. Finlay selling maybe isn't as joyous and giggle-inducingly great as Finlay on offense, but he's really great at selling, and Swagger's long control sections are totally boss. He's also really great at structuring matches long matches built to showcase his opponent. Swagger looks awesome here, but it's really the Finlay show. As always.

5. Jeff Jarrett v Kurt Angle, TNA Genesis, 1/11

Hot damn, this match starts off spectacularly with a slugfest which Jarrett quickly gets the upper hand in and starts laying some real nice punches straight to Angle's jaw. Angle counters with suplexes and chin locks, kind of goofy in a hate brawl, but you have to figure the logic is that Angle's suplexes = Jarrett's punches and a chin lock is a way to wear Jarrett down. Either way Angle ends up absolutely wasting Jarrett with the ring bell and going into brutal ass kicker mode. The Angle Slam off of the stage through a table is kind of goofy, but it fits with the overall theme of Angle wanting to destroy Jarrett, and it creates the really cool visual with both guys crawling back to the ring. From there we get some weapon shots (awesome) and some counter wrestling (what), which play into the whole hate brawl thing about as much as you'd expect (perfectly and not at all, respectively). The match ends with a stretch of ankle lock reversals which are as stupid as ever, Jarrett plastering Angle with a chair for a nearfall, and then Angle getting a roll up win. Needless to say the end is about as night and day from the beginning as you can probably get in a single match, but the post-match beatdown Angle lays on Jarrett is sick, everything up until (and including) the crawl back to the ring is fucking excellent, and this is the best Angle match I've seen in three years.

6. John Cena and Shawn Michaels v Chris Jericho and Randy Orton, WWE RAW, 1/5

So at this point I'm pretty convinced that Shawn Michaels hasn't stopped getting better since Triple H's second quad injury. You had the Terry Funk-esque crazy old man brawler in the first part of 2007 before he went out with injury, coming back as grumpy old man, which led into the Flair/Batista/Jericho stuff which was pretty fantastic all around. Now we're into the heart of the Shawn-as-JBL's-employee program and as much as it seems like they'll run JBL-HBK at WrestleMania, I'd be perfectly fine if they ran the angle all year. I'm not sure when Jericho and Orton would have been tagging on house shows recently because they seem to be alternating house show title matches opposite Cena, but at some point they've developed pretty good tag chemistry. They're not Miz and Morrison or Rhodes and Dibiase, but they're really good together. Cena works the majority of the match selling his ass off for the heels, which is great because that's what Cena is absolute best at. Still, those three aren't the focus at all here, it's the JBL/Shawn angle, and while you'd think the world champ and top heels being de-emphasized in a tag would be a bad thing, everyone here makes it work. JBL comes out for all of a minute, standing on the ramp and reminding everyone of what Shawn is supposed to do (take out Cena), and he may well steal the show. Shawn's will-he-or-won't-he stuff is played up really well. Eventually the answer is no, he won't, and Cena's look of pride is wonderful. Cena, Orton, and Jericho bring the quality wrestling, Shawn and Bradshaw bring the drama, and we have ourselves a damn good tag match.

7. Big Show v Triple H, WWE Smackdown!, 1/9

I hated the booking of the previous two matches, but they served their point as a set-up to this match. Sucks that Morrison, Miz, and Chavo had to be sacrificed, but fuck them because Big Show is way better. Triple H comes into this match with a fucked up arm, so the match is logically an extended beat down. Big Show is so awesome here, beating the shit out of Triple H's left arm, smirking and shaking his head every time Triple H gets up, wasting him with a clothesline and a crazy spear, just generally conveying the attitude of 'well, I'd rather be eating pie or something, but since I'm here, I might as well crush you'. Some of the things in the match are pretty silly, there's really no reason for Hunter to be taking the big over-the-rope bump from a whip to the corner (though is it really a surprise that he'd take from the pages of Flair and Michaels to bump in a way that it's all about him and not the guy actually delivering the move?), there's really no reason for Show to be down for an eight count off of a DDT when he hadn't taken any offense yet, the energetic hulk-up thing HHH does is pretty weird. But Show's dominance all match long makes the whole thing dramatic because you're always expecting Triple H to get back up, except he doesn't, and Show destroys him with a disgusting knockout punch. Probably not the match to be running at the end of a four hour taping where they've seen both guys between two and four times already, but a good match nonetheless.

8. Chris Sabin v Alex Shelley, TNA Genesis, 1/11

This is basically the flipped version of Jarrett/Angle, if you replace a hate-filled slugfest with competitive 2.9 wrestling. The opening five or so minutes is absolutely fucking embarassing, and the chop and strike exchanges are almost as bad. It's kind of sad seeing Sabin at the end of the match with his chest beat red and his eye somewhat swollen. They're shoot beating the shit out of each other but it looks like crap anyway, completely neutering the point of stiffness anyway. You also wonder where the hell the agents are on this show, because this is the second match on a card where the first match featured a handful of dives and powerbombs, and Sabin hits a dive to almost no reaction and Shelley hits a powerbomb to almost no reaction. Think, kids. Still, after Sabin's dive this match picks up and gets pretty good. Shelley dropping Sabin face first into the second turnbuckle is probably the coolest thing here, but everything looks nice and crisp after the opening suckfest. You kind of wish that they don't kick out of everything each other has, but the match is worked as members of a tag team who are equally matched and competing for a belt, so the kick outs work in context. Finish is pretty nifty, unlike in Angle/Jarrett, having this end on a roll up makes a lot of sense. Sabin sells the genuine concern for his buddy well. This isn't the kind of match you want to see them run every time out, but it's the best thing coming from the X Division in a long, long time.

9. The Miz and John Morrison v Rey Mysterio and Kofi Kingston, WWE RAW, 1/5

This isn't as spectacular or dramatic as the other tag match on this show (see above), but it is damn fun. Miz and Morrison have developed into a really great tag team (and damn fine singles wrestlers, at that), and Rey is Rey, still one of the best in the world. Kofi is more or less along for the ride here because he's not really in the same league as the other three, but he holds up his end, working a good enough face-in-peril, having a neat fake-out dive, and taking a pretty crazy bump off the top rope. Morrison out-crazies that bump with his own face-first smash into the apron, Morrison is really too pretty to be taking face-first bumps. Miz and Morrison work over Kofi really well, build to the hot tag really well, just really do everything really well. I need to see them take on Rhodes and Dibiase like, yesterday. Rey comes in all house of fire and ends up eating a mid-air kick to the midsection, courtesy of Morrison via Miz distraction, for his trouble. Really fun match, not a chance it will make the year end list, but worth watching for sure.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2006 Top 25 Matches of the Year

My original idea for this was to go through each year of WWE pay-per-view that I have easy access to and come up with lists of the best 25 matches from each year. Then I realized that I would always run into more matches on various DVDs I had from each year, not just WWE but all kinds of stuff, and I had might as well not limit myself to just WWE PPV. These lists will be ongoing, meaning I will watch whatever from whatever year and keep running lists that realistically never actually end. I don't know if this explanation makes sense, I will have to hope that the damn things speak for themselves.

1. Rey Mysterio v Randy Orton, WWE No Way Out
2. John Cena v Triple H, WWE WrestleMania
3. Kurt Angle v Undertaker, WWE No Way Out
4. Trish Stratus v Mickie James, WWE WrestleMania
5. Shawn Michaels v Vince McMahon, WWE WrestleMania
6. MNM v Matt Hardy and Tatanka, WWE No Way Out
7. JBL v Lashley, WWE No Way Out
8. Chris Benoit v JBL, WWE WrestleMania
9. Undertaker v Mark Henry, WWE WrestleMania
10. Booker T v Chris Benoit, WWE No Way Out
11. Matt Hardy v Shelton Benjamin v Finlay v Rob Van Dam v Lashley v Ric Flair, WWE WrestleMania
12. Edge v Mick Foley, WWE WrestleMania
13. Kurt Angle v Randy Orton v Rey Mysterio

2. John Cena v Triple H, WWE WrestleMania

The storyline surrounding this match was stupid. Well, maybe that's not fair. The match is worked as wily vet HHH can outwrestle young stud Cena and Cena will have to outsmart HHH to win. You can work a storyline around this which doesn't feature the challenger calling the champion a bad wrestler and saying that it will be the easiest match of his life. Not sure why they decided to go that direction, instead of just wily vet v young stud. But hey, at least this isn't a Kurt Angle match and the guy you're billing as the superior wrestler doesn't get outclassed on the mat right away. They actually work the match pretty fucking spectacularly. Cena goes right to work TRYING to outwrestle HHH, but is turned away at every attempt with HHH finally just smirking and telling him to bring it. HHH then plays to the crowd and Cena says 'fuck this' and brings the brawling. Of course HHH made his name in brawls, really you're going to find more Triple H brawls than Triple H mat clinics, but no, Triple H is a Race and Flair mark so you're going to book him like that. Whatever, fuck the booking because the actual match comes off really well. I love good tightly executed wrestling just as much as the next guy but I am more about stories and characters. There are some really brutal clotheslines being thrown around here, and I love how Cena grabs HHH's hand on the second STF-U attempt to prevent him from getting to the rope (it feels like a natural extension of the move, similar to how Angle will grapevine the ankle lock if the ankle lock by itself doesn't get the job done, but without bastardizing the extension by going for it three minutes into the match and having it not win), but this match is all about the stories and characters. It's also about the crowd, which is fucking electric and eats everything they do up. The camera shows various people in the crowd after some of the nearfalls and they are absolutely losing their shit. Chicago totally brought it for the main event. The commentary is also great, low-key but dramatic. Some of the exchanges between Ross and Lawler remind me of some exchanges I have with my friend Allie. In this comparison, I am Ross, who predicts one thing or another for a specific reason, and she is Lawler, who disagrees because of something or other. I have these conversations with Allie often, I am always right, as Ross is. Coincidentally, I am a fat Oklahoman and she is inexplicably pink and has a thing for young girls. Cena wins by submission, the young stud having overcome the wily vet's experience and outsmarted him to win the match. Pretty fantastic stuff. I once has this as my #1 match of 2006, I'm putting it at #2 for now, wouldn't be too surprised to see it stay there. I don't think Triple H has had a better match since this one.

4. Trish Stratus v Mickie James, WWE WrestleMania

Trish/Mickie was easily the best built storyline heading into WrestleMania 22. A lot more people would care about women's wrestling if they could do storylines like this more often, however this sort of thing really only comes along once in a while, and maybe that's what makes this one so memorable. Mickie hasn't aged so well since 2006; I still love her, but she looks a lot more than three years older now. Trish looks about the same, which isn't that surprising because she got out of wrestling. This match is actually pretty ridiculous. They bring the fucking hate, sure they're not stiffing each other in the face, but you definitely feel the hate through the strikes and facial expressions a lot more than in the hardcore match. Fuck, they bring the hate better than Benoit brought the hate, and Benoit is a family murderer who's match is built around 'asshole making fun of your dead best friend'. This is just the most intense women's match WWE has run in years, Mickie is totally into her psychopath character, Trish is great as fired-up overcoming babyface, I just love everything about the match. Sure they botch the finish, but who cares, this is great.

5. Shawn Michaels v Vince McMahon, WWE WrestleMania

Sometimes, execution be damned, you just want a fun, story-driven, shenanigans-filled McMahon brawl. That's exactly what this is, and if you said Shawn and Vince were having a street fight at WrestleMania, you could probably predict exactly how this would go. These two had been feuding for like four months at this point and this is a pretty suitable blow-off. The Spirit Squad comes out to interfere once again, only this time Shawn fights them off. Vince gets the upper hand when Shawn has his back turned, only this time Shawn fights him off. Shane comes in with the sneak attack, only this time Shawn fights HIM off. Vince and Shane try to re-induct Shawn into the Kiss My Ass club, only Shane ends up kissing the golden globes. Shane brings out handcuffs and a kendo stick, Shawn handcuffs Shane to the ropes and beats the shit out of him with said kendo stick. Everything that the McMahons have done to Shawn in the past four months have come back to haunt them as he turns the tables on each and every trick the present. It's poetic justice and Shawn, for all his faults as a brawler (namely that he has pretty shitty looking punches), is the perfect guy to convey the hate and emotion needed for this type of match. The finish, where Shawn can't decide what exactly would be the suitable end for Vince, ultimately deciding on an elbow drop off the top of the tallest ladder onto Vince who is wearing a garbage can and laying on a table, is extraordinarily decadent but extremely fitting at the same time. It's a fucking McMahon feud, what do you expect, moderation? In the end this is a really fun "Shawn gets his ultimate revenge" match, with Vince getting what he wanted (Shawn to return to the 1997 Shawn, which we get through crotch chops, spitting, nose blowing, and everything else) anyway. The perfect blow-off to a feud that inexplicably continued anyway.

8. Chris Benoit v JBL, WWE WrestleMania

So Smackdown! is putting out these awesome, well-worked snug matches every week with their core of guys just under the main event. Come WrestleMania this core is split up and the only representation of what Smackdown! midcard wrestling in early 2006 is this US title match. Cole and Tazz question why Benoit is working JBL's neck, and it's such a stupid question, as if Benoit's finisher doesn't involve a weakened neck. Just ask Daniel. Anyway this match is more about JBL's heel shtick than super tight wrestling, though you do get that, but it's cool because JBL is such a heat machine that it works. It really makes sense to book this more as chickenshit heel going over tough honorable champion anyway, the only other heel going over is Edge and he's not getting the chickenshit booking, then your main event heels are cool heel who panders to crowd (HHH) and asshole heel (Orton), semi-main heels are monster (Henry) and old man getting his ass handed to him (Vince). Booker works chickenshit but he is losing. So having JBL use every trick in the book - using Jillian as a human shield so he can poke Benoit in the eye, taunting the crowd with Eddie's old taunts, using Eddie's moves against Eddie's best friend, grabbing the ropes to get the the win - works out great, especially because JBL is so great at that shit. Benoit's struggle to get his arms locked in the crossface looks kind of stupid because he has nothing to struggle against except for his steroid veins which I guess robs his arms of their aerodynamics? I don't know but it's pretty dumb. But the Benoit revenge three amigos spot looks great (when don't Benoit's suplexes look great?) and is an awesome comeuppance spot. JBL rolls through it anyway and grabs the ropes for the win, classic chickenshit heel style. Match kinda feels inconsequential but it's fun.

9. Undertaker v Mark Henry, WWE WrestleMania

'Taker is a guy who has anchored Smackdown! pretty much since the brand split, and is usually in one of the top two Smackdown! matches on each year's WrestleMania. XIX was an exception and he was way down the card, but the last five years he's either in the top match (XX, 23, XXIV) or the second match (21 and 22). Usually you want to have some sort of 'special' added to your top WrestleMania matches. In that five year stretch you have his return in the classic 'Taker gimmick, two World Heavyweight Championship matches, a Legend v Legend Killer match, and this, which is given a casket match stip because 'Taker/Henry on its own probably isn't big or special enough to be second from the top on the SD! side of things. So you've got two stories to work here. First is that Henry is the Rock of Gibraltar and 'Taker's struggle to get him off of his feet to get an advantage over Henry to roll him into the casket; second is that a casket match is a 'Taker match and Henry, having never been in a casket match, does not know what to do whereas 'Taker knows the casket match like the back of his hand. Henry is a great Rock of Gibraltar and 'Taker, despite being a giant himself, can and does bump like crazy for him. Henry is a tighter worker than Angle, so you'd expect this to be a tighter match than 'Taker/Angle, and it kind of is, though the match isn't really about that, it's about 'Taker trying to knock Henry down and Henry trying to figure out what to do. The neat thing is that neither really ever happens. Henry tries for a cover at one point, showing he is still totally lost in a casket match environment but also showing that he could have beaten 'Taker in a one-on-one match. He also only falls once, when he decides it's a good idea to go for ten punches in the corner on Undertaker. It is NEVER a good idea to go for ten punches in the corner on Undertaker, and it ends as it always does, in a Last Ride. Then we get the cool visual of the match, with 'Taker doing his running dive over the top rope AND the casket, which is just fucking crazy. After that it's a Tombstone and Henry is into the casket and that's the match. Henry looks like he can beat Undertaker but is undone by his inexperience against 'Taker and 'Taker type matches, 'Taker is once again saved by being in his own environment, good things for both guys. Match isn't great or anything, but it is pretty good.

11. Matt Hardy v Shelton Benjamin v Finlay v Rob Van Dam v Lashley v Ric Flair, WWE WrestleMania

Spotfests are really only as good as their spots. I tend to like the Money in the Bank ladder matches because they deliver fun, memorable spots, this one being no different. Flair is a crazy motherfucker in 2006, here he takes two bumps off the top of a ladder. The angle with him being removed from the ladder superplex only to come back later in the match is well done, though if the match was longer than twelve minutes it would have been better. Finlay holds the match together and takes everyone's big moves, Hardy probably looks the best of everyone by hitting lots of big stuff without really taking a whole lot, Lashley is booked well as unstoppable monster, Benjamin and Van Dam manage to do some athletic things without fucking anything up which is pretty much the most you can ask of them. RVD is crazy over with this crowd and I'm glad he gets the win. Too bad he likes drugs so damn much.

12. Edge v Mick Foley, WWE WrestleMania

Spotfests are really only as good as their spots. I tend to not really like hardcore matches. Either you get a lot of stupid weapon shots worthy of the Attitude Era hardcore division (cookie sheets, trash cans, road signs), or you get excessive gore worthy of mid-2000s horror movies. In the late 90s and early 00s I played a lot of Roller Coaster Tycoon. I'd build my own custom roller coasters specifically to make the guests in my park throw up. Eventually I moved to building roller coasters specifically to kill guests. I went to Disney World and Canada's Wonderland in 2001 and realized that two years of killing people on my custom roller coasters had left me very uneasy around real life roller coasters. I rode an old rickety wooden coaster at Wonderland and I could feel the wood shaking around me and that was it, I was done. Pretty sure I haven't been on a roller coaster since and it will stay that way. Around the same time I played a lot of Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat. Being in that 10-14 bracket, I thought all the blood was super cool. Now obviously those games are a pretty cartoon-y representation of blood and gore, but when the mid-2000s came around and movies like SAW got really popular, I couldn't do it. Showing close-ups of someone getting cut open, showing close-ups of people having their bones crushed, showing people cutting themselves, etc. Sorry, just can't do it. I guess I'm overly squeamish, I don't know, I just don't like close-ups of blood and gore. A lot of times in hardcore matches you get things like that, and I don't like it, no sir.

This match is more of the first category of hardcore match, namely 'do you remember the Attitude Era'. There are ways to take Attitude Era garbage matches and make them really work. Finlay and JBL had a pretty awesome Attitude Era garbage match at WrestleMania XXIV, because you had a hate-built storyline surrounding the match and they go in and pound the fuck out of each other in a hate-filled manner. Foley and Edge have a hate-filled storyline surrounding the match but decide to pretty much work 'do you remember' style instead. At least they don't start off with a lock-up, the match probably wouldn't have made the list if they did. They start with Edge missing Foley with a baseball bat. How do you miss Mick Foley with a baseball bat? He's 300 pounds of donut. Generic cookie sheets to the head, do you remember the Attitude Era? Foley brings out the barbed wire bat, do you remember Catcus v HHH? Edge brings out the thumbtacks, do you remember Mankind v Undertaker? Foley tries to set up a conchairto, do you remember Edge and Christian? Edge douses Foley in lighter fluid, do you remember ECW? Foley brings out Mr. Socko, do you remember 1998? For a match that is supposedly occurring because two guys hate each other they sure are working Kurt Angle 'my match with Samoa Joe will be match of the year' style. You don't ever get the sense they want to hurt the other guy, you get the sense they want to tear the house down. They also make the mistake of pulling out a table halfway through a match and then bringing out lighter fluid a minute later. No one is going to buy anything you do after that. It is 2006, we know you're doing a flaming table. We know the match isn't going to end until you use the flaming table. You're trying to tease us with what's coming, instead you just killed the next several minutes of your match.

Not all is bad, Edge takes a champ back bump into the tacks and in general looks like a superstar. The move to Smackdown! and the way he's being written and booked now has really killed him, but he was fucking awesome on RAW. Lita is a really great second and sells barbed wire Socko to the mouth better and longer than either man sells any of the weapon shots in the match proper. The big spot at the end is actually rad as shit, Edge spears Foley off the apron through the flaming table. I always liked the flaming table part of it but the more I re-watch it, the more I notice how fucking nutty that spear is. Edge sells the spot great by convulsing and trembling his way to cover Foley and then get the fuck out of dodge. The table spot saves the match and makes it a fun little spotfest with stuff that you don't always see in WWE anymore. Still, it's a spotfest on a card with three spotfests, and MITB had more good spots, and the street fight somehow brings more hate. I once had this as my #2 match of the year, boy was I wrong.

13. Kurt Angle v Randy Orton v Rey Mysterio, WWE WrestleMania

The best thing in this match happens right away: Orton hits Angle with the title belt, starts an exchange with Rey that ends in dropkicking him out of the air, and then gives this great shit-eating grin before going into his bullying shtick. This is a reasonably fun sprint but it feels pretty contrived at the same time. You'd expect to see something like this in a TNA X Division title match, not the semi-main event of WrestleMania for the heavyweight belt. This is extravagant in all of the wrong ways. In nine minutes, we have four German suplexes, two different Orton backbreakers, a double German suplex, a top rope rana, a vertical suplex from the apron, an RKO, three Angle Slams (one of which is countered into an arm drag), two ankle locks (both get submissions, though the ref doesn't see either), a tilt-a-whirl head scissors, three 619s (one countered into an ankle lock, one which leads to the pinfall), a springboard leg drop, a pop-up belly-to-belly suplex, and two springboard seated sentons (one of which transitions into some flip thing and gets the pinfall). Like, why? Sure, it's entertaining as fuck to just sit back and watch three guys throw bombs at each other, but there isn't a whole lot of rhyme or reason to any of it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

No Way Out 2006

So here's a show from the best era of Smackdown!, which I'm feeling like watching lately for whatever reason.

I miss the Spanish announce table. It's functionally replaced by the ECW announce table now, but it was always somehow reassuring that the Mexican fans were getting quality ringside announcing just like the rest of us.

Cruiserweight title nine-way (!?) starts the show. For whatever reason, Greg Helms (the champion) comes out first. Dumb. The match itself is kind of silly, and I'm not sure why a nine-way is really necessary other than to get over that all the cruisers hate Helms. Early in the match there's some really rad exchanges between The Mexicools and London and Kendrick, and I wish that they had gotten ten minutes on pay-per-view at some point. Maybe not this show, but somewhere down the line. For most of the match, these four are focusing on each other, and yeah at this point I wish they had just run that tag and then made this a singles match between Helms and Kash. Helms, the champ, is naturally the best guy in the match. Take out the tag and Kash is the second best, and he had yet to get his one-on-one rematch for the belt anyway. Nunzio and Funaki suck here, and Scotty REALLY sucks. This match would have been pretty awesome if it had been nearfalls for eight minutes with the everyone breaking stuff up. Instead it's worked like a Rumble for the most part, two guys pairing off and one pairing is focused on. At two points we get fancy nearfall sequences. The first one is ruined by Scotty doing the fucking worm, the second ends the match. But other than those two runs and the Mexicools/London and Kendrick stuff, this was bad.

By the end of 2006 Smackdown! was totally all about King Booker and Queen Sharmell. They were still peasants at this show, but they're still really, really great. They have a backstage skit with Teddy Long that just rules.

Finlay and Lashley brawling over Finlay kidnapping Kristal is a pretty awesome way to start off Lashley v JBL because you start off with Lashley already in full 'house of fire' mode and JBL takes Finlay's spot in the brawl pretty naturally. I would rather have this than these two beating around the bush with collar and elbow tie ups and headlocks before getting to the power stuff. Jillian is seconding JBL, and 2006 Jillian is so much better looking than 2009 Jillian. Lashley is working an undefeated streak at this point and is surprisingly over with the crowd given to what I remember of him from later in 2006. He also looks really green still. His actual offense looks good but he'll do weird things right before hitting it, like lunge in slow motion. Just little things that make him look unsure of himself. JBL is JBL, meaning that JBL is fucking great. Finlay comes back for the finish, distracting the ref to hit Lashley and set him up for the clothesline from hell. I promise it came off a lot better than it sounds. Lashley eats all of JBL's stuff like a champ, his own stuff looks great, he has some rough moments like not knowing what to do in transition when JBL is selling, but for the most part Lashley looks like a star here. If you showed me this match and told me he wouldn't get a singles main event until nearly a year and a half later, I would have told you that you were nuts. If you said a month later he'd be done with WWE, I'd have told you that you were really nuts. I miss Lashley :(

Batista is monstrously over and I don't mind his promo here at all, but I'm already thinking I could have used some more Lashley/JBL/Finlay stuff, or split up the cruiserweight thing into two matches, and I hate to be one of those guys who bitches about promos for the sake of more time to matches, but couldn't they have cut this and given more time to a match? The Orton/Angle bit after is awesome, though, and it kind of needs the Batista part to properly set it up. JBL ranting and raving while at a computer with Josh Matthews is also great.

Melina. God DAMN. Another girl who looked a lot better in 2006 than in 2009. Actually, I can't think of any of the Divas who didn't, which is kind of discomforting. Matt Hardy looks a lot younger, too. Did the drug binges get that much more intense over the past three years or something? Wrestlers really do age way too fast. But as for things that aren't scary, this match rocked. Johnny Nitro is a lot better now as John Morrison than he was here, but he was still pretty good. That said, he's easily the weakest part of that match, including Melina who rocks ass as a second. Mercury and Hardy bring their usual tight awesomeness, but the I thought Tatanka actually looked the best of everyone. Tight punches and chops, good face-in-peril segments, all of his stuff looked great and he even got the pin. God damn, I need to go re-watch more Smackdown! from this era because he fucking brought it in this match. Hell, I could go for some 1993 Tatanka at this point. I know Jared will never read this but if he did, he would be proud to know that 2006 Tatanka still ruled it.

So I like joking around about the Benoit shit as much as the next guy with a morbid sense of humor who has knows he's going straight to hell, but what he did was really, really horrible and watching him is not the most pleasant experience in the world. The pre-match angle with Booker deciding to forfeit the title rather than defend it, only to run in and attack Benoit to start off the match, is the kind of old school thing I really dig. Benoit grabbing the mic and starting a coward chant directed at Booker is both fucked up and hilarious; fucked up because working a 'guy refuses to work injured' angle with the injured (fake injured, I know, but that doesn't really change the point) guy as heel and having Benoit be the big babyface in that angle is all sorts of wrong; and hilarious because Benoit grabbing a mic and leading the crowd in a chant is probably the most any audience has done in response to anything Benoit actually said in years.

Match itself is pretty good but kind of odd. You'd expect that the big heel-finally-gets-his match between these two to have more of a blow-off feel to it. It sort of does, but sort of doesn't. Sharmell is real good as a second here, don't think I liked her as much as I liked Melina in the tag match, but like I said, 2006 was all about Booker and Sharmell. So it's pretty fitting that Sharmell goes for a distraction and it doesn't work out, Sharmell has to take a bump from the apron, and Benoit gets Booker to tap for the title change. The other part of the angle is the injury stuff, which isn't blown off here. Three or four times in the match Booker fakes an injury, the ref backs off, and Booker ends up with the advantage. If you wanted to make this a true blow-off to the angle, you'd work that into the finish somehow, or at least have Booker's shit not work out for him and Benoit keeps the advantage, but it never does. Probably because Booker kept the injury angle shit going through his program with Boogeyman, but still. There's not really a coherent narrative to the match like you'd expect. Booker starts at Benoit's arm to prevent the crossface, but it's never followed up on, nor is Booker working Benoit's neck with a full nelson. There's a bit of brawling but not as much as you'd think a blow-off would have and it's pretty self-contained to the opening few moments. I guess you could say it's worked as a straight Benoit v Booker match, two guys who've wrestled each other a billion times and are purely competing for the belt, but the angle surrounding the match makes it stupid to work it that way, plus you never get the big bombs exchange between the two that you'd get if that's how you're working it. And as third-from-top match on a card with a face-v-face main event and a super babyface gets cheated by asshole heel semi-main, you'd expect Booker to get more comeuppance than he does.

So there's really no specific structure beyond Booker is heel and will use devious means to get ahead including but not limited to his wife as a ref-distracting second and faking injuries against Benoit who is the virtuous tough babyface who overcomes in the end. The way the match is worked doesn't specifically evoke thought of that structure but it's got to be either that or a random MOVES~! match and I enjoyed this too much for it to be the second. Besides there is nothing wrong with basic heel v face stuff, just kind of expected more for a blow-off. But the stuff they actually do is real good. As far as chains of three or more suplexes go, I liked Lashley's string of belly-to-bellies more than I liked Benoit's Three Amigos or rolling Germans that he used in this match, and with a long Angle match still on the card you don't want to burn out on suplex combos, and I thought the first time Booker went to the top rope to attempt his flipping senton only for Benoit to get up and counter was kind of a stupid spot. Other than that everything was good, tight work between them, everything looked good, pretty much what you'd want. Totally was the Booker and Sharmell show with Benoit along for the ride, but there's nothing wrong with that either.

Don't really want to talk about the segment with Benoit getting a hug from Rey, hugging all of the faces on the show, then giving a pep talk to Rey. Worst of all the non-wrestling stuff on this show so far by a long shot.

I'm a pretty huge Randy Orton mark. I didn't think anything was topping his summer 2007 character rebirth until his first half of 2008 blew me away, and I didn't think anything was topping that until he came back from injury somehow having learned to be even better while he was at home watching his kid be born. But the more I watch of his Smackdown! run, especially the early 2006 stuff with the Rey feud, I'm starting to think that either a) as great as he is now, he was actually just a little bit better then, or b) this guy is probably the best American wrestler of the past five years. Inclined to think it's the second one. I've watched this match a lot of times, especially after I randomly woke up one day with a total Orton boner, but I can never get sick of it. Fuck, I love it more every time I see it, and I think it may have passed his SummerSlam 2007 match with John Cena as my favorite Orton match.

EVERYTHING he does in this is great. Everything. He walks down to the ring surveying the crowd with a smirk on his face. Mysterio's music hits, and Randy squints his eyes and glares at the entrance. The crowd chants Eddie, and Randy laughs at them. Randy and Rey lock up and end up in the corner with the ref telling Randy to back off, and Randy backs away laughing and fake apologizing. He's a complete cunt here, and it's fucking glorious. The crowd starts chanting again while Randy has control, and he spits at them and tells them to shut up because he doesn't need their help. He beats Rey all over the ring until the crowd chants Randy sucks. Randy says "oh yeah?", drops a knee in Rey's face, and asks the crowd "who sucks now?" It's the kind of one man performance that would totally make a match even if he was working, like, Shelton Benjamin or Charlie Haas. Or even fucking Scotty 2 Hotty.

But he has someone to work with! He has fucking Rey Mysterio, who is on the hot streak of a lifetime and a top three, if not number one, wrestler in the company at this point. Everything Rey does looks phenomenal, and everything he sells looks even better, and if Randy wasn't being RANDY FUCKING ORTON! it would totally carry the match. It doesn't have to, but Rey makes every single thing Randy does even more powerful. The Orton stomp isn't as good in early 2006 as it is in 2009, but Rey still sells it like fucking death. The hope spots work a thousand times better because Rey packs enough into his kicks and flips that you think he has a chance, right up until Randy cuts him off and laughs at you for believing. Several times in the match, Randy is just dishing out punishment for the sake of being an asshole, and the crowd falls under this mesmerized hush like they do when someone gets hurt. Rey even gets Michael Cole and Tazz to sound legitimately concerned about him, and fuck me if it isn't probably the best I've ever heard those two call a match together. I don't even think Tazz says NOTFORNOTHIN' once.

Enough about Rey being awesome in this, though, because as great as he is, this is ALL about Randy Orton. Randy motherfucking Orton. He just toys and fucks around with Rey for the first two thirds of the match. Rey gets control for a while after Randy fucks up and tries for a second shoulder-drop neckbreaker and Rey has a counter for it. How does Randy break the flurry of Rey offense up? A fucking thumb to the eye. Fucking awesome. Rey sets up for the 619, and Randy goes along with it because it lets him watch the Titantron and see Rey coming. Duck, counter with a roll up, grab the ropes, pin. Bam. Randy grabs a mic and laughs at Rey for losing his WrestleMania title shot. Everything is just so, so great. This match is everything that is the best about pro wrestling.

The reason that this DVD has been in my player so many times but I have watched the main event so few times in comparison (especially considering that the reason I bought the DVD was for the main event... and because it was eight bucks) is because after the semi-main, I have no desire to watch a half hour Kurt Angle match, or pretty much anything else in the world. This is too bad, because it's quite a good match, though it has absolutely nothing on the previous one.

Like the Booker/Benoit match, there isn't much of a narrative here. A couple of starts and stops, but nothing that continues. Immediately you have 'Taker outwrestle Angle and Angle punch his way through things, which is pretty hilarious because Angle's gimmick is unstoppable amateur wrestler gone pro and 'Taker is the unstoppable undead zombie who will beat you with his fists. 'Taker goes for two early big boots but Angle dodges them, so you think they're going to work the match with a story of both guys having come prepared for each other's signature stuff and thus have to work a thinking man's match to win. But that all goes to shit because a few minutes into the match 'Taker is smashing Angle into the post and hitting his apron leg drop and Angle is pounding on 'Taker's leg to set up the ankle lock, effectively signalling that the opening exchanges was just posturing and this is going to be the match you'd expect. 'Taker takes his sweet ass time setting up a second apron leg drop, and you know Angle's just going to move like everyone always moves when 'Taker takes his sweet ass time setting up the apron leg drop, and the match kind of starts to lose you because hey, your basic WWE main event, sweet. Angle counters this into the ankle lock on the outside, which is fine because it makes sense to work the finisher that you've set up for and because it works into the ten count stuff they're doing, which we'll get to in a minute. You think that this will end up back in the ring and 'Taker will hit a quick Tombstone or Angle will get the ankle lock and the match will end. Instead this goes another fifteen minutes. At some point Angle will have devalued his ankle lock so badly that the only way anyone will buy him ending the match with it is if he brings a sawed off shotgun and blows the ankle clean off the body.

'Taker pulls out his triangle choke like, right after, which is neat because he's digging deep into his bag of tricks to stop Angle without busting out his big stuff just yet. See, Undertaker understands that if you save your finishers, they mean more, so instead of trying to hit the Tombstone sixteen minutes into a thirty minute match, he busts out a triangle choke. Of course, 2008 just ended and while I did miss a bunch of Undertaker television matches I saw all the big ones and I'm quite used to him ending things with the gogoplata or Hell's Gate or Devil's Triangle or whatever they ended up calling it (it's Hell's Gate, I'm just trying to make a bad point about how they left it unnamed all year until they realized it's not 1993, Vince McMahon isn't announcing, and you needed to say something other than WHATAMANUEVER for the finish of a match), thus the triangle choke is an interesting little blast from the past when 'Taker only tried submission finishers in matches with submission wrestlers, not in main events with fucking Edge. Anyway, Angle gets a rope break on the triangle choke and 'Taker resorts to just brawling Angle around the ringside area and it is every WWE main event you have watched since they put Steve Austin on top. This leads to the WWE main event table spot, and while the spot itself doesn't look bad or anything (Angle pops up from prone position to Angle Slam 'Taker through the announce table), it's just so cliched at this point. It's like they were given the choice between blood or the table, and neither felt like bringing the blade so they went with the table. More specifically, within the context of the match, the table spot doesn't even fucking make sense. You're working all of these ten counts, the ref is bitching at Angle to keep things in the ring, but it's perfectly kosher to put a dude through a table? That isn't within the rules, sir. I call shenanigans.

There's one more spot I really hated in this match, 'Taker is climbing up to the top rope and Angle pops up from the mat and climbs with him, and you just know that he's going to throw some stupid suplex off the top that means nothing because Angle always does the whole pop up and throw stupid suplex off top rope spot. But 'Taker actually counters it! He throws Angle to the mat and you're filled with hope that you're going to see something cool. Instead Angle pops right back up again and throws a HORRIBLE looking stupid suplex and you feel even stupider than the suplex for believing that they weren't going to run that spot. Neither Angle or 'Taker are really known for their execution, but it isn't a problem in this match. You don't get anything like Orton working a chinlock on Rey or Finlay leaning straight into Lashley's punches or pretty much anything Benoit did or pretty much the entire tag match, but it's not a problem. Everything looks good, you're happy, etc. But the top rope suplex looks BAD. Just awful, actively bad, bad enough to waste an entire paragraph on how fucking shitty it was. I don't mean like the way the table spot was kind of dumb and cliched, I mean really fucking awful. I would expect it from Scotty 2 Hotty. Fucking Scotty.

Luckily we go into the last eight minutes of the match from here, and the last eight minutes of the match are fucking awesome. I'm not usually a big fan of Kurt Angle counter-filled finishing runs, didn't much care for them against Shawn Michaels in 2005, didn't much care for them against Samoa Joe in 2006, but it ruled here for whatever reason. Perhaps it's the rather striking visual of the black adorned giant trying to destroy the little bald dude only for the little bald dude to writhe out of everything like his life depends on it (there need to be more detailed pictures of finishing runs like this, the way skateboarding magazines will have shots of every single moment of someone hitting a noseslide down a stairset, I would like to see a photo layout like this for hot finishing runs like this match had), perhaps it's that instead of countering whatever holds Michaels and Joe were throwing at Angle, he's countering crazy Undertaker finisher death moves and it just works better that way, I don't know. But it's rad. It's pretty neat seeing 'Taker kick out of an Angle Slam and use a second as a set-up for the triangle choke, pretty much exactly the way he did it with Edge's spear in their WrestleMania XXIV match. You actually buy the ankle lock as a finish here, forgetting that everyone gets out of the fucking ankle lock and forgetting that nothing in the last fifteen minutes leave you thinking anything at all about the ankle lock. I suppose that's a sign of a good finish, it makes you forget about the stupid things in the match. Now a really great finish would be making you forget about stupid things that happened in the other matches on the card...

So the finishing run is great, the actual three count itself is kind of hokey because you clearly see Angle doesn't tap out, he has Undertaker pinned, so I don't know why they did the whole double finish thing. Have Angle start tapping out as the ref is counting three if you want to do that. You don't need it for the rematch, 'Taker cornering Angle post match is enough for that. So that whole bit is kind of silly, but the finishing run is overall great. I know I'm probably coming off negative on the match but it's actually really good, not as good as Orton/Mysterio, but really good. The way the ten count is worked throughout the match (or at least the first two thirds, after the table spot and the ten count, the ref is kind of a non-factor) is the best part of the match and it isn't even close. I tried to not bitch too much about the table spot because it leads to the single best ten count spot, where the ref is about to count Undertaker out and Angle takes him aside and says "I am going to beat this motherfucker in the ring". Don't care too much for the bleeping of the swearing, I mean they barely get it and we know what he's saying, but the moment itself is pretty awesome. Angle comes off as a badass that you really want to get behind, even though I'm not a big Angle fan, stuff like this makes me want to be. Angle then hops out of the ring and starts brawling with 'Taker, and while I didn't much care for the 'Taker-led brawling pre-table spot, the Angle-led is a lot better and more intense. I know I bitched about the cliche WWE main event style but it's not a bad style, and it's worked well here, so whatever. Even if you make this match thirty minutes of the ten counts and those stupid top rope suplexes I would have liked it, but you only get the one top rope suplex and that's the only actively bad part of the match. I once put this as my #3 match of the year, it's not that good, but it's a good match and beats out the tag for second best match on a very good card.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Best and Worst of WWE, 2008

1. Shawn Michaels
2. Batista
3. Randy Orton
4. John Cena
5. CM Punk

1. Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair, WrestleMania XXIV
2. Triple H vs Randy Orton, Judgment Day
3. Shawn Michaels vs Batista, One Night Stand
4. Randy Orton vs John Cena, No Way Out
5. John Cena vs Batista, SummerSlam

1. Jillian vs Candice Michelle, some episode of RAW

1. CM Punk wins the World Title on RAW
2. John Cena's surprise return at the Royal Rumble
3. Lumberjack Edge returns to win WWE Title at Survivor Series
4. CM Punk wins Money in the Bank at WrestleMania
5. Randy Orton retains the title at WrestleMania

1. CM Punk gets fucked in the cornhole out of his title and the best summer ever, Unforgiven
2. Lumberjack Edge decides he wants to be regular Edge and shaves, Smackdown
3. Triple H holds the WWE title for-fucking-ever, for-fucking-ever
4. Jeff Hardy wins the WWE title but still has his stupid music, Armageddon
5. Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho have an epic hate feud only someone forgot to teach either of them how to punch, summer

1. The promise of eternal Randy Orton awesomeness
2. CM Punk being my hero
3. JBL and Shawn Michaels doing their 'wrestling as art' thing
4. Chris Jericho being shockingly great
5. Priceless has to come back at some point, right?
6. John Cena is champion and that is a-ok with me
7. Some good pieces to build a women's division around, with the ass of Mickie James, the crazy moves of Melina, the awesome selling of Kelly Kelly, the 'oh God in a couple years Dave is gonna realize Beth Phoenix is Batista and all of her matches are good' factor of Beth Phoenix, and the ass of Layla.
8. Between Rey Mysterio, Dolph Ziggler, William Regal, Miz and Morrison showing
up whenever they feel like it, there is always quality midcard wrestling on the show.
9. Cryme Tyme makes chicks wet and if there is one thing I like it's a blowjob while I watch wrestling.
11. Dude. Santino. Come on.

1. CM Punk isn't champion anymore :(
2. The second hour generally isn't Randy Orton having a three way with Kelly Kelly and Layla and flexing into a mirror the entire time. It really should be.
3. While there is enough awesome in the women's division that I am overall positive about it, there is still a lot of suck and Candice Michelle fell off the face of her face at some point and is really terrible now.
4. Mike Adamle isn't GM anymore :(
5. Cole and Lawler are getting pretty fucking unbearable together.

1. Man ECW fucking ROCKS it. Mark Henry, Matt Hardy, The Miz, John Morrison, Finlay. Everyone on the show rules. Fuck you for not watching ECW. Fuck you in the ass.

1. It isn't on television in Canada until some stupid timeslot that at which point I don't care anymore.

2. Big Show, who is disgustingly underutilized. He's probably my sixth or seventh best wrestler from '08, and probably one of the six or seven best promos in the company.
3. MVP, who really needs to start winning soon.
4. Vladdy Kozlov being a pimp Russian destroyer tank.
6. THE Brian Kendrick and his wicked jackets and his black man servant and his inexplicable losses to a team called The Colons. That last part isn't actually the best.
7. Hurricane Helms hasn't said "just saying", to the best of my knowledge, since actually making his return.
8. They have to use Scotty Goldman eventually.
9. Umaga is due back any day now.
10. With TBK and his black man servant, Miz and Morrison showing up whenever they feel like, and Jesse and Festus, there are some wicked tag teams here.
11. Mr. Kennedy is just plain fun.
12. Dude. The Undertaker. Come on.

1. Triple H. Fuck ME he just spent all year pissing me off in 2008. He's going to get the title again at 'Mania and I am going to buy a beer and throw it in the ring and hopefully Texas will join me. I have always loved him but I am not digging a thing he's doing these days. Not one thing.
2. WHO THE FUCK TOLD EDGE TO SHAVE? That was stupid. And he's honestly probably the most overrated dude around at this point. Again, love him, but like with Triple H, I am starting to wonder why.
3. I promised that Jeff Hardy as champion with his gay music would make a list of worst Smackdown! things. Welp.
4. Shelton Benjamin just sucks so much dick.
5. Aside from Maryse, the women's division here is really bad, too.
6. Big Show doesn't get used enough, MVP doesn't get to win, Goldman doesn't get used at ALL... whoever is booking this show is not booking it towards awesomeness all that much.
7. The second hour generally isn't just Randy Orton having a three way with Maryse and Michelle McCool while flexing into a mirror the entire time. It really should be.
8. Maybe the worst set of champions ever. Maryse is awesome, other than that FUCK everyone.

1. CM Punk, World Heavyweight Championship, June-September. Fuck you all, this was GREAT. I was on the edge of my seat in every single match, living and dying with every nearfall. Maybe he wasn't booked the strongest. Maybe he got jewed out of the title in the end and maybe he won in a fluke way. I do not care. This was the best.
2. Randy Orton, WWE Championship, January-April. I am a really huge Orton fan, and was digging the fuck out of his rebirth in the summer of 2007. Then Cena got hurt, Orton was handed the title, and put into a program against a returning Shawn Michaels that pretty much crushed all of Orton's momentum. The Y2J program was boring, but as the year turned, he kicked things up again with Jeff Hardy, then Cena again, then the multi-man stuff that ended with him dropping the belt. He was so great during this period that I was inspired to go through my DVDs, compile every single Orton match I had, and watch them all consecutively.
3. Edge, World Heavyweight Championship, November-December. And only because of the beard.

1. Triple H, WWE Championship, April-November. UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. The worst part is that he pretty much had all good defenses (the Edge match at the Great American Bash was probably the worst and I need to re-watch it but I remember walking out of the show liking it not too badly), but everything was just so fucking BORING. I did not need a Triple H title reign. You did not need a Triple H title reign. This sucked.
2. Chris Jericho, World Heavyweight Championship, September-October. So at this point it's pretty clear that I have my guys I mark for, mark really hard when they win titles, and hate the shit out of the guys who end up taking the titles after them. Again, Jericho had good matches, and unlike Triple H he was excellent character wise, but fuck me, I would have hated anyone for beating Punk. And no. We do not talk about how Orton was the guy who took Punk out of the match. In fact, fuck you.

Here's hoping for more things that are the best and less things that are the worst in 2009!

First post.

Mark Henry is awesome. That is all.