10 YRS AGO – KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT (3/29/09): Taker-HBK hype, Punk and Kofi team, Nikki vs. Brie in a six-person tag, Cena promo, Maryse vs. McCool

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

C.M. Punk (artist Grant Gould © PWTorch)

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

The following report was originally published ten years ago this week on PWTorch.com…


KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MARCH 27, 2009
AIRED MY NETWORK TV

[Q1]

-After the Smackdown opening, they went right to C.M. Punk’s intro. Jim Ross introduced the show with less enthusiasm than normal.

1 — C.M. PUNK & KOFI KINGSTON & MARK HENRY & MVP vs. KANE & CHRISTIAN & FINLAY (w/Hornswoggle) & SHELTON BENJAMIN

They gave Punk his ring intro, but not anyone else. Strange choice. Also strange assortment of teammates. All wrestlers are in the Money in the Bank match. Punk tied Christian in the ropes for four seconds, but broke before the fifth count. He hit a crossbody off the top rope for a two count. Christian tagged in Finlay. Whatever reshuffling happens at the draft is just not going to matter nearly as much because of all of the crossbrand appearances leading up to WrestleMania (and even in general in the preceding months). It’d almost be better to do the draft a few months later after sticking strictly with the roster split for a while so it seemed novel to imagine the drafted wresters mixed with a new group of wrestlers. When Kane tagged in against Punk, they cut to a break.

[Commercial Break]

After the break, Henry tagged in against Shelton. Shelton tagged right out, sending Kane back into the ring. Ross congratulated Japan for a win in an international baseball competition. Odd inclusion. Ross plugged that MVP would defend the U.S. Title against Shelton Benjamin and a graphic appeared on the screen. Good for WWE for pushing a title match a week ahead of time. More of that is welcome. MVP and Shelton battled for a minute. Then Punk and Kane battled, with Punk getting in the rapid-fire offense. Kane caught Punk mid-air with a chokeslam for the win. That explains why he got the ring intro and majority of offense. It was throwing a bone to the wrestler doing the job in the end.

WINNERS: Kane & Christian & Finlay & Benjamin in 10:00.

STAR RATING: *1/2 — Basic solid action, but the rapid tags prevented any story from really being told.

-Afterward, everyone brawled. Christian brought a big ladder into the ring and climbed it. Hornswoggle chased him down and batted at his feet. Finlay tipped the ladder over and Christian dove onto the crowd of wrestlers who just happened to be at ringside to group-catch him. Finlay and Hornswoggle climbed the ladder and smiled. Not much was done to really tell a personal story about any of the wrestlers other than a brief mention by Ross that the MITB launched quite a year for Punk last year.

-Ross hyped that clips of the Randy Orton-Stephanie-Triple H angle from Raw would air, with the title “Orton’s Law” on the screen.

[Q2]
-A vignette aired on the Matt Hardy-Jeff Hardy match.

[Commercial Break]

2 — JESSE & FESTUS vs. THE BIG SHOW

Festus charged at Show when the bell rang. Show easily fended him off, and then pounded Jesse in the corner. Festus threw a boot and some fists at Show, who no-sold them and then chopped Festus across the chest. Ross said Festus appears to be a light-weight against Show. If Show’s WrestleMania match was built at all around his size advantage over John Cena and Edge, this match would have more meaning, but the match is about a soap opera storyline, or as Ross called it “a bizarre love triangle.” Jesse tagged himself in a 2:00 and hit a diving shoulder tackle. Festus then kicked Show, who went down. Show, though, popped up and KO’d Festus with his punch and then finished Jesse with a chokeslam and a straight right.

WINNER: The Big Show in 3:00.

STAR RATING: 1/2* — After all that TV time they invested in Festus over the past year, and after weeks off of TV, he gets thrown into a handicapped match – the losing side. It’s such a waste. Two jobbers could serve the same purpose as Jesse & Festus here.

-A commercial aired for “12 Rounds.”

[Commercial Break]

[Q3]

-A commercial aired for WrestleMania Axxess in Houston beginning next Thursday. If you attend, be sure to send us notes on your experience there (pwtorch@gmail.com).

-A video package aired on the Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy feud.

-They went backstage to Matt petting a dog backstage. He looked at the camera and addressed Jeff. He said a black crowd has hung over his head his entire life, and he’s always known it, but the world found out when his house exploded and he lost everything – his recordings, his art, and his best friend – his Jack Russell terrier. Honestly, exploiting the real-world death of a dog to sell a WrestleMania match is about as scumbag of an approach as I’ve seen in wrestling. There’s no victim, so to speak, in the exploitation, but incorporating it into selling the match just feels so wrong. I feel sad for whosever idea it was and anyone who didn’t think twice about it. (“Hey, I blew up my dog in a house explosion, let’s use that in a storyline to sell tickets!”) Matt said Jeff is an underachieving, heartless, selfish child. He then smooched the dog. Matt’s sinister delivery was good and believable. Tazz said Matt’s gone over the edge.

3 – REY MYSTERIO vs. CHAVO GUERRERO

Nice opening minutes leading to Rey taken Chavo to the mat at ringside with a diving head scissors. Back in the ring Chavo took Rey off the top rope with a huracanrana for a near fall. At 2:00 Chavo hung Rey upside down in the corner. Chavo charged, but Rey lifted himself to avoid the charge. Chavo went shoulder-first into the ringpost. They went back and forth exchanging near falls. Rey went for a 619 at 4:00, but Chavo avoided it and then went into the Three Amigos. Rey avoided the third, but Chavo converted into a back suplex. Chavo then went for a frog splash, but Rey moved. Rey then hit his second attempt at a619 and finished Chavo with top rope splash.
WINNER: Rey in 5:00.

STAR RATING: *3/4 — Good five minute match.

-Afterward, JBL surprised Rey with a big boot to the face. That was a very short angle.

[Commercial Break]

-A commercial aired hyping the “WWE Encyclopedia.” I’m curious how they handled Chris Benoit’s place in history since the commercial said every title history is chronicled.

-John Cena walked out to the ring to his music. He told the crowd that for weeks they’ve heard from every marquee wrestler in the industry about the importance of WrestleMania. He said every word they’ve heard is true, and if you don’t believe him, you can listen for 75 tractor trailer trucks drive to Houston and begin to transform the city. He said 25 years ago (24 years ago, actually) what started as one magical night at Madison Square Garden has evolved into a week-long festival for the fans, the WWE Universe. He said it’s the grandest stage of them all and the night when the biggest issues of the industry are solved – some professional and some very, very personal. “And in a rare circumstance, like the one I find myself in, both.” He said Edge and Vickie have tried everything to keep him away from WrestleMania and the World Title. He said he proves his worth to the business time after time, but there is no way he is staying out of WrestleMania. He said Vickie, Edge, and Show and their crazy Jerry Springer lives have taken the title hostage, but he’s going to WrestleMania to end that. He got serious and said he is going to WrestleMania to fight, win, and be the World Heavyweight Champion. As Ross said, “How can you argue with John Cena?”, Big Show’s music played and he walked out.

Show entered the ring and told Cena he can belittle the love he and Vickie have, “but what you don’t understand, Mr. Smart Guy, is that love makes me stronger.” He said Edge found out, so how about on Raw he shows up to find out himself so he can shut his mouth for good. Cena said it’d be insane for him to accept that challenge just days before WrestleMania, “but you know me; you’re on!” He dropped the mic and Show smiled and left the ring as his music played. Cena grabbed Show’s leg as he climbed over the top rope and dumped him to the floor. Show grunted and yelled and got wide-eyed as Cena celebrated to his music. Tazz asked why anyone would get that man angry.

[Q5]

-Ross again hyped the Orton angle from Raw.

-WWE Fact: WWE is available in more households in China than the NFL and MLB combined.

4 — R-TRUTH vs. MATT HARDY

R-Truth sang his way through the crowd to the ring. These two travel together outside the ring, so they should have had plenty of time and incentive to put together a showcase match. Truth caught Hardy jumping off the second rope with a dropkick. He went on a flurry of offense with his signature spots leading to a near fall at 3:00. Hardy fired back with a Twist of Fate for a pin quickly thereafter.

WINNER: Hardy in 3:00.

STAR RATING: * — Good for a three minute match. The bloom is off R-Truth’s rose in the eyes of management, apparently. A three minute TV loss to Hardy shows they’re not as crazy about his potential as they were when he first showed up.

-They showed Ross and Tazz at ringside. They threw to a video package on the Shawn Michaels-Undertaker segment on Raw. Ross said: “When I first saw this piece Monday night on Raw, I thought it was irreverent, I thought it was defiant, and without a doubt ladies and gentleman, it is abstractly confrontational.” I’ll have to think about that for a minute. They replayed the entire segment.

[Q6]

-The ring intros for Carlito & Primo Colon took place.

[Commercial Break]

5 — MIZ & JOHN MORRISON & NIKKI BELLA vs. CARLITO & PRIMO COLON & BRI BELLA

They give away the Bella Twins wrestling each other for the first time in a throw-away, unannounced six-man tag match in the middle of Smackdown? Ross said the tag title unification match at WM25 will have lumberjacks surrounding the ring. Ross said Miz and Morrison remind him of the Midnight Express, “who wrestled as one.” At 2:00 the Bella Twins wrestled briefly for the first time during three-on-three chaos. Carlito came out of the chaos with a Back Stabber on Morrison for a sudden win.

WINNERS: Colons & Bri in 2:00.

STAR RATING: 1/2* — Well, it was good while it lasted. But I can’t think of a less exciting way to hype a title unification match than having a six-person preview of it that lasts just two minutes and ends out of nowhere. Hey, everyone, buy WrestleMania and maybe you’ll get three whole minutes of these two teams! This trend of giving away super short matches and trying to sell basically the same match on PPV is among the most counterproductive I’ve seen in 30 years watching wrestling. It just makes no sense to belittle and demean the very product you’re trying to sell people. Ross, likely aware of the ridiculousness of the match length, referred to it as a “fast-paced match-up.”

-Another tease for “Orton’s Law.”

[Commercial Break]

[Q7]

-They went to a pretaped promo with Jeff Hardy. He talked about Matt witnessing his birth. He said seeing Matt turn on him was hard at first, but now seeing that he’s sick, it’s easier. He said he has become his healer. Jeff lifted his bowed head and revealed a face with no make-up. He was choked up with emotion as he said Matt is right, they aren’t brothers anymore.

-Ross and Tazz hyped the entire WrestleMania line-up. Then they finally went to the video package which Ross said is appropriately named “Orton’s Law.”

6 — MARYSE vs. MICHELLE MCCOOL

Ross said, “My money’s on the blonde.” Tazz said Ross beat him to it. They engaged in a collar and elbow hook-up that started center-ring and ended at ringside. At 3:00, Gail Kim interfered with a top rope dropkick. No sense that the crowd recognized her. Ross identified her right away. She held the Diva Title belt in the air, then set it on McCool.

WINNER: No contest in 3:00.

STAR RATING: 1/2* — Shouldn’t the announcers have commented on Kim interfering in an ongoing match and noted how disrespectful that is of WWE competition? There’s just no compass in WWE at all, no sense that competition in the ring to try to win a match matters. If the outcome of that match is completely irrelevant and easily disregarded, doesn’t that undercut the ability to sell matches in general?

[Q8]

-A commercial aired for “12 Rounds.”

-An elaborate Undertaker-style ring entrance took place with fog and Gregorian chants and Latin choir music. Shawn Michaels walked to the ring wearing a white version of Undertaker’s robe and hat. He took off his hat, closed his eyes, and said in the beginning God created heaven and earth. He opened his eyes when he got to the line from Genesis: “God said, let there be light, and there was light.” He said he and his WrestleMania opponent represent both darkness and light. He said although they’ve existed in WWE for nearly 20 years, they’ve taken very different paths which have many similarities. He said they’re both at the top of their game. He said they’ve been criticized and praised by their peers and each of the fans. He said that’s where the similarities end.

He said Undertaker represents the purest form of evil. “He walks among the shadows, where I thrive in the spotlight,” he said. “The Undertaker strikes fear in the hearts of all his opponents, yet here I stand before you unafraid.” He quotes more Bible passages and then brought up ending Undertaker’s undefeated streak. He said his streak will end at the hands of the man he’s never defeated. He said Mr. WrestleMania will take him to the fiery depths of hell “where only I will ascend victorious.” The eerie music played again and Michaels hung his head. Then Michaels’s theme song kicked in and he began to strip and dance in his HBK persona. Ross said Michaels is brimming with confidence.

Undertaker popped up from the middle of the ring which covered in fog. He grabbed Michaels’s leg. Michaels broke free, but Taker quickly grabbed his throat and set up a chokeslam. Michaels bailed out over the top rope and retreated up the ramp. Taker did the throat-slice gesture. Michaels, though, danced to his music on the stage. Honestly, if you had never seen WWE before and watched this segment, it’d be so odd, like an LSD trip without drugs. I mean, when you think about it, you had a guy dressed in white quoting the Bible break into basically a male stripper routine out of nowhere, beginning to pull off his gloves and clothes before a scary guy in black pops up from the fog in the middle of the ring. They fight briefly, and then the guy in white retreats to the stage and begins to dance and strut as the scary guy in black does a throat-slicing gesture. This is a really strange business when you step back and look at it as if you’d never seen it before.


RECOMMENDED: 10 YRS AGO – KELLER’S RAW REPORT (3-23-09): The episode where Orton cuffed Triple H and teased a sexual assault of Stephanie on live TV, plus Intergender Match, Flair-Jericho, Edge, Rey, Kofi, Punk

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