Some joker on some message board last Thursday posed the question, “Whose world title reign has been booked better: Samoa Joe’s or CM Punk’s?” I chose to refrain from answering that query until after Summerslam, where Punk would have his first PPV title defense against JBL, a former world champion, a McMahon favorite, and a known bully. Punk won. Knowing the episode of Monday Night Raw following Summerslam would be held in Punk’s hometown, Chicago, and knowing how squirrely WWE is about putting wrestlers over in their hometowns, I decided it might be best to wait until after Raw. But since ECW airs on Tuesday, compounded with the fact that the Mark Henry vs. Matt Hardy match at Summerslam for the ECW (not world) Championship was such a damn farce, I chose to wait until after ECW to see if WWE cleaned up that hot mess before I went all out with my analysis. So, after all that babbling, here are my opinions of the last three days in WWE, point by point.
Undertaker vs. Edge (Hell in a Cell): These two are fighting with Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho for the feud of the year, and this match gave Taker and Edge the, um, edge. Sorry there was no blood, nerds, but I personally didn’t even think of it until I got on the Internet after my two-hour drive home. So blood obviously wasn’t that important. The match was dramatic, the emotions were palpable, and the twist of Taker resorting to using Edge’s moves (that is, after Edge tried to use Old School) to win the match was awesome. This should probably be the blowoff. I don’t care. I want more.
John Cena vs. Batista: Is this the best these two could do? Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior was the stuff of legends. Cena vs. Batista made me long for more Triple H vs. Great Khali. And while I appreciate the clean finish, I really don’t understand why John Cena is on such a PPV losing streak. Are they heading toward his heel turn? Do they realize that he’s such a superstar that he could lose to my laundry hamper and still have tons of heat the next night on Raw? Could they have done a nonfinish that wouldn’t have killed the crowd while still allowing for a future rematch? And why is WWE offering up even more Cena vs. Batista action in this horrible Championship Scramble planned for Unforgiven? Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense for Cena, the loser, not to be in the match, while Chris Jericho, the dastardly heel with a win over CM Punk, to have Cena’s spot?
Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho: This was a fantastic confrontation, and Jericho’s punch — that I believe and sincerely hope Rebecca said “OK” to — was just what the doctor ordered to put Jericho completely over the top. He’d been getting the desired reaction, but now there’s absolutely no doubt. I also like how Jericho can say with some legitimacy that it wasn’t his fault, much like the Freebird Hair Cream angle or the Sandman cigarette-in-the-eye angle. At least someone remembers how to book a heel. I really don’t get his win over Punk, though, shitting on the hometown boy while giving a pinfall victory over the champion to a guy who, as of now, doesn’t appear to be wrestling for the title anytime soon. Oh, and Rebecca turning on the tears was the necessary touch and didn’t look forced.
CM Punk vs. JBL: JBL is like the main-event heel who can lose every other week and maintain sick heat. Not to mention he can beat Jamie Noble one week and still be considered a world title contender the next week. Awesome. Not the best world title match I’ve seen, by any stretch of the imagination, but pretty good, good storytelling with the clotheslines that could have done in Punk at any time, and good for Punk for waiting about 30 minutes after the Go To Sleep to lie on JBL for the pin. Fuck JBL. His homecoming was treated pretty shittily on live TV the next night; he did get a good reaction during his excellent backstage promo, which, mind you, was backstage, and he lost to Jericho without a lot of emphasis on the fact that Punk wrestled the night before and Jericho didn’t, and after some piddly-ass “interference” by Lance Cade. Apparently giving it to someone “Chicago style” means being distracted for a second or two, long enough to take a couple of knees to the face and getting knocked out. I hope after Punk loses the belt that they don’t give up on him. A segment of the crowd really likes him, and he’s a merchandise machine.
Triple H vs. Great Khali: To borrow a phrase from Wade Keller, this match was better than it had any right to be. That doesn’t make it good, but it wasn’t offensive or anything. And now the gregarious, charitable Triple H is allowing Brian Kendrick, Shelton Benjamin, MVP and Jeff Hardy to be in the ring with him at Unforgiven in our second ridiculous Championship Scramble. If Mr. Kennedy wasn’t injured, he would make more sense than Kendrick. (But with Kendrick, you don’t know until you try.) And I’ll use this spot to wonder what the hell is going on with Big Show. I understand using him as a pawn to get someone else over (Kendrick’s brains and bodyguard brawn in the battle royal), but is this going to be at the expense of another PPV appearance? They have booked Show in the strangest way since his return, and I don’t like it.
Matt Hardy vs. Mark Henry: Hardy didn’t *need* to win at Summerslam, but did we the audience really *need* to see that awful excuse of a match? No one left ringside looking good after that farce.
Santino Marella & Beth Phoenix vs. Kofi Kingston & Mickie James: Santino Marella is the best thing going today, but after spending months and months jobbing left and right, he needed a win that fans would take seriously, and this was the one. No matter the circumstances of his I-C Title victory at Summerslam, it was a win, and he has a belt that people will soon want to see taken from him. Beth and Mickie can trade the Women’s Title a few more times down the road, but right now we have the Golden Couple we need in Santino & Beth. And Kofi didn’t seem to really be connecting with the fans just right, but I wouldn’t call his I-C Title reign a failed experiment; maybe down the road we can try it again. Oh, and D-Lo Brown is the man.
Jeff Hardy vs. MVP: A really good match featuring two guys about to get their just dues, Jeff Hardy who deserves to be in the main event mix, and MVP who needs that first chance to headline a PPV. I know Mr. Kennedy being injured threw Smackdown’s midcard plans into disarray, and I know a three-way dance at Summerslam would have been uncalled for (there was already plenty going on), but I am kinda bummed about the facts that Shelton Benjamin didn’t wrestle and that the United States Title wasn’t up for grabs at the show. But I have no problem with the match nor the aftermath, which has led to the three aforementioned men being in the ring with Triple H (and Brian Kendrick) for the WWE Title.
Others: Where the hell was William Regal in all of this? Raw isn’t completely hurting for main event-level heels, but I see nothing wrong with mixing him in a little higher on the card than Jamie Noble (no offense), even if it means some jobbin’… There was plenty going on in the last few days so that a Randy Orton return/tease wasn’t necessary (yes, we all still believe this latest collarbone injury is bullshit), but it’s about time for him to come back. Wow, never thought I’d say that… Good to see Carlito’s brother, Primo Colon, being given a shot in the big time… Wish I could say the same for Kenny Dykstra, who got his ass handed to him by Hunter last week on Smackdown… Evan Bourne, Ricky Ortiz, Finlay and Mike Knox continue to entertain on ECW…