August 12, 2008
The show starts off with Matt Striker on color commentary, which is a great idea. Striker is a solid heel and has remarkable promo skills, and it is a great idea to put him in the commentary slot to complement the rather bland Todd Grisham. (Give him time.) WWE needs a solid heel/face commentary team like the good old days of Ross and Lawler. Since Lawler is getting older and nearing the end of his career, Vince McMahon probaly wants him to go out as a fan favorite, but these days people cheer for whomever they want, good guy or not. The heel/face combo adds extra entertainment value.
Tommy Dreamer comes out for the first match--an Extreme Rules Match--and Grisham puts him over as the person who most embodies 'ECW.' It's good to see an Extreme Rules match; it's a shred of a reference to the old ECW, which is long gone, but they should stop mentioning it. Colin Delaney is Dreamer's opponent, who comes out looking like he's afraid of his task--fixing Tommy Dreamer's computer, or something.
The match is pretty good; Dreamer tries to get the crowd into it with a running sliding dropkick into a trashcan into Delaney's face. Delaney gets on the offense once in a while, but every time he tries a second attack he fails, miserably. It will be interesting to see how he progresses. He's like a lackluster Mikey Whipwreck, but there is plenty of room for improvement. That's for sure. Dreamer gets the pin here in a rather predictable match. **
Lena Yada interviews Miz/Morrison in the back. They show a replay of last week's 'broadcast' of The Dirt Sheet, which was excellent. Miz/Morrison play the cocky, sneaky heel roles to a T, ready to run away when Mark Henry gets angry at them.
Morrison says, "We're the Pineapple Express of the WWE, Baby."
After the break, Evan Bourne takes on Bam Neely. Bourne has great potential. He would be great working a program with Rey Mysterio one day, as both have unmatched unorthodox styles with great innovations, agility, and athleticism.
Bourne wins with the...Shooting Star Press? Apparently, the Shooting Star Press is no longer banned in WWE, and Bourne is possibly the perfect person to revive the maneuver. Bourne wins with the "Air Bourne." ***
Up next, Estrada vs Finlay. Finlay comes out with Hornswaggle, his squirt-gun shooting 3 feet tall 'son.' Step aside, Dreamer. Hornswaggle embodies the NEW ECW. I suppose we have to learn to accept this, though, with WWE wanting to reel in the younger audiences these days. Mike Knox watches the match from the entrance ramp. This match does not have much of a purpose other than to further the Knox/Finlay angle, which is actually interesting. For some reason, Knox is a lot more acceptable in my eyes now that he has his 'mountain-man' beard. For the most part, Finlay manhandles Estrada in Estrada's first match after signing his ECW contract. Despite Knox distracting Finlay, the Belfast Bruiser picks up an easy win after hitting his finisher TWICE. ***
Ricky Ortiz tries to push a merchandising idea on ECW GM Teddy Long. He tells him he will be facing a new wrestler next week.
Matt Hardy and Mark Henry talk backstage. Henry tells Matt he wants him to get in his way. They are doing an excellent job with the way they are booking Mark because he is booked as a true big man; a powerhouse. I have never liked Mark Henry, but I am enjoying this whole angle. The ECW title scene has, for the most part, been EXCELLENT, with the exceptions being Bobby Lashley and Vince McMahon. Henry basically implies he could take on Miz, Morrison, and Matt Hardy. This will be a great main event.
Henry comes out to the ring with a big, evil grin on his face, looking forward to demolishing his opponents. Matt Hardy follows, and looks cautious. Mark Henry starts the match and manhandles John Morrison. He voluntarily brings the Miz in with a hip toss from the ring apron, just so he can take them both on at once. Henry really should be put in handicap matches vs no-name jobbers rather than using ECW's only tag team (and a former ECW champ) as a punching bag. It's not making them look so great, but it's doing wonders for Mark. A lot of credit is due to Morrison and Miz, because a big man can't get over without someone taking a total beating and making it look realistic.
Matt Hardy gets some time in the ring, and this is when Miz and Morrison get some offense in, but not a lot. Therefore, it makes them look a bit better rather than getting completely bulldozed. Matt Hardy gets the win with the Side Effect off the 2nd rope, and Mark Henry looks FURIOUS. He throws Miz and Morrison out of the ring and raises the ECW title in the air. He raises Hardy's hand and appears to care about him as he is visibly tired from the match, but it's a completely obvious setup, as Henry slams Hardy on the ECW title. This is a classic heel tactic and makes the SummerSlam match look even better. ***1/2
Pros: Mark Henry