Date: 04/21/08 from Greenville, SC.
The Big News: WWE actually convinced the presidential candidates to cut pro wrestling style promos for Raw. And then proceeded to make fun of them. Also, William Regal is the 2008 King of the Ring.
The first four matches were King of the Ring qualifiers. It wasn’t quite Yamma, but the first round was rather dull with none of the matches going very long or featuring very much.
Chris Jericho beat MVP. Jericho and MVP traded moves. Jericho hit a baseball slide, followed by an MVP belly to belly, followed by a Jericho northern lights suplex, followed by an MVP yakuza kick and face buster, followed by a Jericho bulldog. Jericho missed a lionsault. MVP went for the play of the day but Jericho escaped and applied the Walls for the submission.
CM Punk beat Matt Hardy. Hardy hit a swinging neck breaker and double ax handle off the second rope. Punk retaliated with a high knee and bulldog. He went for a springboard clothesline, but it was countered into a side effect. Hardy went for the twist of fate, but Punk escaped and went for go 2 sleep. Hardy got out of that but Punk dropped down and covered for the pin.
Finlay beat Great Khali via disqualification. Khali dominated the match. He hit a clothesline, big boot, overhand chop, and rammed Finlay’s leg into the post until he was disqualified. In what was not one of Jerry Lawler’s finer moments, he asked if Khali had been counted out immediately after Lillian Garcia announced he had been disqualified. Big Show came out but Khali left.
William Regal beat Hornswoggle via submission with the Regal stretch. This was kind of a storyline inconsistency given the last time Regal and Hornswoggle were in the ring together Regal couldn’t bring himself to beat up Hornswoggle despite almost getting fired for it.
They announced that Sunday’s four way title match will be under elimination rules. Throughout the show they featured brief promos from the participants. JBL said he will take the title by surviving and rising to the top like he always does. HHH said Sunday will prove who is best, and it will be him. John Cena said the other competitors will have to get through him to get the title and he’ll make them earn it. Randy Orton said he’s sick of hearing people say they will take his title, and that he will remain champion at Backlash.
Shawn Michaels called out Batista, and asked him if all of this was because Batista wanted to wrestle Ric Flair at WrestleMania. Batista said no. He added that he was sick of talking, and that they would finish it at Backlash. Michaels said he’s everything Batista said he is, and that he’s got blood on his hands. However, he pointed out that the man who will do anything to get ahead is Batista’s opponent at Backlash. Batista and Michaels had a staredown. This was another solid Batista/Michaels segment, and I’m glad they didn’t emphasize the role of Jericho here.
They aired short comments from each of the presidential candidates, who incorporated WWE talking points into their speeches. You can read the text of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s remarks at CNN’s political ticker. As for John McCain, he managed to get in Rock, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, HHH, Undertaker and Steve Austin references. I can’t believe they got the presidential candidates to do this.
Carlito beat Hardcore Holly. Holly hit an inverted atomic drop and clothesline. Carlito came back with punches, stomps, dropkicks, clotheslines and a body slam. Holly went for the Alabama slam but his back gave out and Carlito hit the back stabber for the pin. After the match Santino vowed to win the titles, so Cody Rhodes told him to shut up and the tag champs fought off the contenders.
CM Punk beat Chris Jericho in a King of the Ring semi-final. Jericho dropped Punk on the ropes. Punk went for a springboard, but Jericho kicked away the rope. Jericho hit a huracanrana and the competitors went for a series of pinning attempts. Jericho hit an enzuigiri, but Punk hit a power slam and knees from the clinch.
Punk went for go 2 sleep, but Jericho escaped. Jericho hit a bulldog and went for the lionsault, but landed on his feet and applied the Walls. Punk got to the ropes, which was a nice touch after MVP tapped earlier. Jericho stomped Punk repeatedly. He went to the top, but Punk knocked him down and hit go 2 sleep for the pin. This was the best match of the tournament.
William Regal beat Finlay in the other semi-final. For those who don’t know, these two are rivals dating back decades and have had some unbelievably brutal matches against each other. They mat wrestled early. Regal sent Finlay’s knee into the steps. Regal stomped on and kicked the knee. Finlay fired back with punches and sent Regal into the post. He followed with a senton, punches and a knee lift. Regal hit an awesome knee and applied the Regal stretch. Finlay wouldn’t tap but his eyes rolled back like Ed Herman against Demian Maia and that was it. This was good, but it should have gone longer.
Even after the presidential candidates endorsed WWE programming, WWE still couldn’t resist making fun of them. They had a faux match with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Hillary impersonator came out with Bill to Hogan’s music. Bill kept posing in front of Hillary while she tried to speak.
Obama then came out to Rock’s music with big fake ears. Hillary gave Obama the leg drop, but Obama kicked out. Obama hit the rock bottom and went for the people’s elbow, but Bill tripped him. He added, “I didn’t have illegal contact with that candidate. Umaga then came out and gave both the Samoan spike. This was dumb and unfunny, but it wasn’t offensive or unwatchable either.
The good women came out to congratulate Mickie James’ title win, but they were interrupted by the bad women. Beth said it’s just a matter of time before she gets back her title. Michelle McCool slapped Beth, and a brawl broke out. The good women cleared the ring.
William Regal won the King of the Ring tournament by submitting CM Punk. Punk hit kicks to the head and a high knee. Regal used a suplex and a bow and arrow. Punk used repeated high kicks and covered for two. Punk went for go 2 sleep, but Regal grabbed the ropes. Regal hit a high knee and applied the Regal stretch for the tap. This was good, but too short. I really hope they did this because they have plans for Regal and not because he just seemed the most appropriate for the gimmick. Regal is a great performer and it would be a shame if he’s treated like a joke again next week.
Edge, JBL, Chavo Guerrero and Randy Orton beat Undertaker, Kane, John Cena and Triple H. You read that correctly. Chavo didn’t do the job. The heels worked over Cena, including a JBL side Russian leg sweep and Orton sleeper. Cena escaped and tagged Kane. Kane cleaned house, including a side slam and top rope clothesline on Chavo. Chavo went to the top but was caught with a choke slam. As this was going on, Edge made the tag, hit a spear, and covered Kane for the pin. After the match, Cena gave Edge the FU. HHH went for the pedigree on Cena, but JBL broke that with a clothesline. Orton gave Cena an RKO. Undertaker finally gave JBL and Orton a double choke slam.
I thought this show was good. It could have been even better if they gave the tournament matches a bit more time, but this was still a crisp, fun show that flowed well.
Finally, you can check out my thoughts on Backlash with Alex Reimer at http://www.mysportsradio.com. Alex also has a Red Sox podcast you can check out there.