May 21, 2006
US Airways Center
Buy Rate: .63
Announcers: Michael Cole & Tazz
Matt Hardy defeated Simon Dean (Mike Bucci)
Fun Fact: This is Arizona’s 2nd PPV, after Summerslam 2003.
Pay Per View
1) Brian Kendrick & Paul London defeat MNM to win WWE Tag Team Titles when London pinned Joey Mercury (Adam Birch) with a roll up at 13:44
Fun Fact: On 4/7, Kendrick and London defeated the tag team champs in a non-title match. A week later, Kendrick pinned Nitro in a singles bout. A week after that, London defeated Mercury. On 4/28, London and Kendrick teamed with Super Crazy to defeat MNM and Gregory Helms, furthering the champions’ losing streak. The two teams were set to face off on 5/5, but MNM jumped the challengers before the bell and laid them out. On 5/12, it was announced that Kendrick & London would challenge for the titles at the PPV. Thanks to an assist from Jillian Hall, the challengers were able to sneak up on the champs and pants them in the ring. On 5/19, Kendrick, London and Jillian defeated Nitro, Mercury and Melina to run the champions’ losing streak to five straight.
Scott: MNM was clearly the tag team of the year in 2005 and they have continued their streak of solid matches through 2006. On the other side are two young lions that have bested the champs in recent weeks and now have finally gotten their shot at the gold. Michael Cole already shows as good as he can be is as bad as he can be when he says that this match was a “watercress” moment for MNM. I think he meant “watershed” moment, not a leafy vegetable you put on sandwiches. As expected the pace in this match is tremendous as both teams go back and forth. The turning point is when Paul London actually kicked out of the Snapshot, even though the champs kept the momentum on their side. The Arizona crowd is in good spirits as are both these teams and is a good pick to open the show. MNM uses their size advantage to grind submission moves into the smaller opponents but London & Kendrick survive big move after big move to stay in the match. At one point London goes for a pin after a dropsault over the top rope and Melina just breaks the count by screaming in Jimmy Korderas’ face. Pretty funny. Heel miscommunication leads to a London roll-up and we have new champions. This match had an atypical pace with MNM grinding the smaller challengers but they survive the battle and walk out champions. We then see a possible breakup as Melina berates Mercury for getting pinned and Nitro beats on him afterward. Grade: 3.5
Justin: Our next Smackdown PPV outing kicks off with a nice opener featuring two hot young teams. Kendrick & London had been dominating the champs since Wrestlemania and were hoping to carry that momentum over here. This feud was really well built up and having two unique teams with depth waging war over the titles made the straps feel important. The challengers were hot out of the gate, working some fast paced teamwork and pushing the story of the match along, with that story being whether or not MNM were psyched out over the weeks of losing. Cole and Tazz also did a nice job furthering that story along too. Once the champs turned the tables, they would use their well-oiled precision teamwork that was really a joy to watch. London & Kendrick exhibited top notch selling and it led to a hot near fall after the champs hit a Snapshot. I really dug the old school vibe that the build and style of this match exhibited. Melina would get involved as usual, but she couldn’t do enough to help her men win. After a match filled with non-stop action, we hit a hot finishing sequence that ended with new champions. London & Kendrick get a big pop for their hard-fought win and we now have new champs on the block. Unfortunately for MNM, not only do they lose their belts, but they seemingly split apart at the seams after the bout. It is a sad end for a great team that started their great run exactly one year ago. Grade: 3
*** After the new champions leave, Melina starts berating Joey Mercury, blaming him for the loss. She would smack him in the face and then Nitro attacked him from behind. The two would brawl in the ring before finally being separated. ***
*** King of the Ring moment: Bret Hart’s memorable three-match run of greatness to win the first PPV tourney in 1993. ***
2) Chris Benoit defeated Finlay by submission with the Crossface at 21:11
Fun Fact: On 4/28, an alliance between Finlay and Booker T began to surface. With the help of Booker, Finlay dispatched of rookie Gunner Scott, who was being mentored by Chris Benoit. Benoit came out after the bout to ensure Scott was safe from any further assault. A week later, Finlay defeated Benoit in a KOTR tournament match after hitting Benoit in the throat with a chair. On 5/19, Benoit and Scott teamed up to defeat Booker and Finlay. This match would be announced at the PPV press conference.
Scott: Now this is the kind of match that I like, with two tough, miserable two-dollar steaks just stiffing the shit out of each other. They open the match with a minute-long collar and elbow tie up. Oh yeah, you know these two are going to go all out to entertain the crowd as they follow up with a long stare down. There are two schools of thought in this match. They’ll stiff each other with punches and chops, and they will also grind each other into the mat with long submission moves where they’ll use tight headlocks and Stu Hart-like submission moves where limbs will be bent in unrealistic positions. Benoit at one point slaps Finlay hard in the face and then drive the knees hard into his chest and face. This is awesome. You know these two talked backstage and said, “Let’s make it look good.” Finlay goes for pins by driving his knee into Benoit’s face. After some back and forth action, Benoit hits the three Germans then misses his flying headbutt. One great move sees Finlay holding a chair, but Benoit baseball-slides the chair right into Finlay’s wrist. Then Benoit hits the flying headbutt. Finlay recovers and hits this crazy submission/pin move by choking Benoit with his own arm. Finlay really starts working Benoit’s neck, as Cole consistently references Benoit’s 2001 surgery on his neck. Finlay goes for the shillelagh but Benoit grabs him and German’s him on the floor. My body’s getting sore just watching this match. They get in the ring and Benoit honors his late friend Eddie Guerrero with the “Three Amigos”. This was the longest match of the night as both men continue to just hit one stiff move after another, but the move Benoit was waiting to use finally becomes available as Benoit reverses a headlock into the Crossface and Finlay taps out immediately. Wow, what a match and a great start to this show with back-to-back gems. Grade: 4
Justin: When Finlay returned as an active wrestler, there were a handful of opponents everyone wanted to see him throw down and get nasty with, and Chris Benoit was on top of that list. We had seen their stiff brawls back in WCW, and here they are gifted twenty minutes to go out and beat the crap out of each other. Benoit has really settled into a nice role of respected, over veteran that carries the upper mid card and can step up with the big boys where needed. Early on, this was an even matchup that saw some smart counter mat wrestling and stiff, crisp offensive strikes. As expected, these two delivered a well-worked old school hate-fueled brawl. They traded blows as Finlay dished out his vicious offense, but Benoit retaliated with a nasty German suplex on the floor. Despite the length of the match, the crowd was pretty locked in the whole time and it was hard not to be, as this became a pretty riveting war. Finlay was tremendous to watch, as would cut off Benoit’s comebacks with perfection, really riling up the fans. After one great Crossface battle, Benoit would lock it in for good and Finlay was forced to tap out. This was an awesome classic war between two grizzled veterans. Benoit soaks in the cheers after the bout, earning the praise with this victory. Finlay takes the loss, but his night is not yet finished. Grade: 4
3) Jillian Hall (Jillian Fletcher) defeated Melina with a sunset flip at 4:17
Fun Fact: On 4/21, JBL officially fired Jillian Hall as his image consultant after weeks of verbal abuse, claiming she wasn’t doing enough for him. The next week, Jillian and Melina got into an argument backstage and things degenerated into a brawl. On 5/5, it was announced that two Divas would tussle on PPV. A week later, Jillian began associating herself with London & Kendrick, and was able to humiliate Melina by ripping her skirt off in the ring. Finally, on 5/19, Jillian was able to pin Melina in a six-person tag team match.
Scott: This is a simple spell match to give a crowd a breather after the war we just watched. Melina’s become a pretty solid character of evil, both managing MNM and being on her own. Jillian essentially turned face after JBL fired her. As I’m watching, even this match is kind of stiff as they really lay into each other’s moves. Melina for me is an early candidate for Diva of the Year simply because she really gets into her character is arrogant and unlikeable. For once, Melina is cheated as Jillian rolls her up and Melina puts her hand on the ropes but the referee can’t see it. Melina freaks out again and she’s continuing her character awesomeness. Grade: 2
Justin: Things continue to go quite badly for Melina before the bell even sounds, as the referee tosses Johnny Nitro from ringside before starting the bout. After being relegated to ringside since her debut, we finally get to see what Jillian can do in the ring and it was pretty impressive here. She got off to a fast aggressive start, really bringing the energy. Melina combated that with some stiff kicks and other various strikes. These two had some nice little chemistry and the match cruised right along until the finish, where Jillian got the win with a sunset flip. However, it wasn’t without controversy, as Melina had her hand on the bottom rope, but the referee missed it. Melina would freak out, as her night continues to circle the bowl. I liked this match and it refreshing to get newer divas in the ring that could actually put together a solid match, giving the Diva roster some nice depth. Grade: 2
*** After the bout, Krystal Marshall comes out to interview Melina. Melina doesn’t care for the questions, and she starts brawling with Krystal. Despite starting the fight, Melina would lose it as Krystal smacks her around. ***
*** Backstage, the retired Chavo Guerrero shows up and gets into a back and forth argument with JBL, invoking the usual Eddie Guerrero references to add heat to JBL’s match with Rey Mysterio. ***
*** King of the Ring moment: 1996, when Steve Austin kicked the door open to what would become the Attitude Era. ***
4) Gregory Helms defeated Super Crazy (Francisco Rueda) to retain WWE Cruiserweight Title with a powerbomb at 9:56
Fun Fact: On 5/12, Super Crazy defeated Nunzio and Kid Kash to earn this match.
Scott: We’ve all been waiting for Super Crazy to get the spotlight to himself and really show things up. I’ve loved Helms in this heel role, including the entrance theme. We already see a taste of the action as Super Crazy leaps over referee Nick Patrick and lands on Helms outside the ring. The action here is back and forth as both men really want to keep the gas going after the first few matches. I must say that I was on a cruise when this PPV happened in 2006, so this is really the first time I’ve watched it. The bookers really put some compatible matchups together early on as the latter part of the card was somewhat up in the air in terms of chemistry. Both men here really knew each other well and put on a well-paced affair. I don’t remember whether these two have ever met in the ring before, but it seems like they have. Unfortunately the great match ends with some chicanery as Helms hits a powerbomb but then puts his feet on the ropes and gets the win. Helms is a lucky guy to this point in his WWE career. He got to be a beloved babyface and a pretty cool heel. Not many non-main eventers get that kind of credibility. Super Crazy gets his moment in the sun and although he impresses he can’t get the win. Grade: 3
Justin: Breaking away from his fellow Mexicool, Super Crazy looks to break out as a singles star here, taking on the resurgent Gregory Helms. Crazy was flying around early, overwhelming the champion and exciting the crowd. Once Helms took over, he looked to slow down the pace and ground Crazy, working a variant of the cruiserweight style that he had been talking about in previous weeks. Outside of Crazy’s great energy, this was pretty standard stuff. Helms finally snaps Crazy down with a stiff powerbomb and picks up the win. This was a solid match that did a nice job showcasing both men. Grade: 2.5
*** King of the Ring moment takes us to 2000, and Kurt Angle’s coronation. ***
*** Backstage, Melina flips out on Teddy Long and smacks him in the face. Teddy then retaliates by firing Melina as well as Johnny Nitro, who tried to defend his woman. ***
5) Mark Henry defeats Kurt Angle by countout at 9:11
Fun Fact: On 4/28, Kurt Angle was challenging Rey Mysterio for the World Heavyweight Title. As he had Rey trapped in an Anklelock, Mark Henry interfered to draw a DQ. Henry then knocked Angle to the floor, put him on the announce table and splashed him through it. Two weeks later, Angle demanded a match with Henry, but Teddy Long refused because Angle was not cleared medically. Instead, he granted him a match at the PPV.
Scott: This is a joke, right? You mean we actually have to watch this again? Kurt Angle won the World Title back in January and was instantly put into a program with the big guy. They had a title match at the Royal Rumble and it was a colossal failure. The whole thing had to be saved by the Undertaker’s theatrics. Now we have to watch it again? It’s been almost ten years since Mark Henry first arrived in WWE. Other than a few highlights here and there, we wonder why is he still here? On the other side of the ring is a guy who just completely feels out of place and angry. He was nothing more than a placeholder champion until Wrestlemania when Rey Mysterio won the match and had his big moment. A match that Angle wasn’t even pinned in. Since then he’s been floating around aimlessly. Angle’s pretty pissed at the company since that strange feud with John Cena in late-2005. He wouldn’t budge in making Cena look good and the three PPV matches they had were shit. Whether you want to blame Angle for being unprofessional or have sympathy for having to put over a less talented guy, the fact is Angle isn’t himself and the signs are evident. More on that over the coming months, but the frustration continues to build, as he has to take on a guy that he could do nothing with five months earlier in Miami. The match plays off of Angle’s cracked ribs that Henry gave him a month before. Sorry, but for me it’s the same kind of match like the Royal Rumble, dull and uninteresting. The fact it ends in a countout is even more ridiculous. This is a yawner that dips the grade a bit. Grade: 1
Justin: After missing a few weeks shaking off a rib injury, Kurt Angle returns and we receive the Royal Rumble rematch that nobody was clamoring for. In a nice touch, Henry starts cleaning off the announce table before Angle even makes his entrance. Once Angle did arrive, he was coming for vengeance, beating on Henry with an intense non-stop assault that included a focus on the big man’s knee. The match was pretty well structured and it was clear that Angle was completely carrying things with his offense, bumping and selling. And it was those three things that really kept this already hot crowd rocking. They would brawl to the floor and tease some table spots, but before going through them, Henry was able to take Angle out, roll in the ring and win the match by count out. I was enjoying this match much more than their January tilt, and I was sad to see it end with such a week finish. I liked the story woven in, questioning if Angle had come back too soon and if he could overcome Henry’s size. Angle would get his heat back after the match, smashing Henry with a series of chair shots, hooking an Anklelock and then tossing him on to the table with an Angle Slam. When the table didn’t break, Angle grabbed the chair and crushed Henry with a stupid unprotected chair shot to the head, sending Henry crashing through the table. I hate those chairshots, even more so when they are gratuitous and pointless, as this one was. This was solid stuff and the crowd was hot, but the weak finish definitely hurt the grade. Grade: 2
6) Booker T (Booker Huffman) defeats Bobby Lashley to win 2006 King of the Ring Tournament with a scissors kick at 9:15
Fun Fact: On 4/7, Teddy Long announced that he was bringing back the King of the Ring tournament exclusively on Smackdown. The next week, Kurt Angle defeated Randy Orton in a first round match. The next week, Booker advanced by beating Matt Hardy. On 4/28, Lashley defeated Mark Henry to move on and on 5/5, the first round ended with Finlay defeating Chris Benoit. Also on 5/5, it was announced that Booker would advance to the finals via a bye due to the injuries Kurt Angle had suffered at the hands of Mark Henry. On 5/12, Lashley defeated Finlay to earn a spot in the finals. Before the match, Booker came out and trash talked Angle and then after the bout, Booker sat in the throne and had a confrontation with Lashley.
Scott: It’s nice to see the KOTR return to WWE, but I wouldn’t have minded making it a PPV again. Why not? It doesn’t have to be in June like it used to be. They would shift all these PPV names eventually, but not now. The tournament had some storyline loops in it, Booker beating Angle by forfeit, but really this is a two-fold situation. Other than anything with Chris Benoit, Booker T has been really floating around for the past year and a half. He won the dark match battle royal at Wrestlemania 21 and then after the US Title feud with Benoit, got stuck with the silly Boogeyman storyline. Now his career gets an upswing by making it to the finals of the tournament. Of course on the other side of the coin is Bobby Lashley, an incredible physical specimen that is definitely on creative’s radar. As we’ve said before he is clearly a guy Vince always liked: Big, muscular, power moves. However he is pretty weak in the promos department, but that comes in time. The match is loaded with interference by Sharmell, as is her motive. I continue to be impressed with Lashley’s move set, loaded with big time power moves like power slams and shoulder blocks. Lashley kicks out of a Bookend and a scissors kick and the crowd sensed that maybe their young stallion would pull off the upset. Lashley hits the big spear, and is ready to drop the Dominator, when Finlay runs in to crack Lashley with the shillelagh. A scissors kick later and we have our first KOTR since Brock Lesnar four years ago. Booker T goes to his throne and is about to be crowned when Lashley, blood coming out of his mouth, spears Booker through the throne. A nice moment for the fans, but it doesn’t change the result. All Hail King Bookah! Grade: 2.5
Justin: Ever the mark for tournaments, I was happy to see Teddy Long revive KOTR as I always saw it as a nice vehicle to further advance a mid-card star. Lashley really had impressive power and he used it to stagger the wily Booker early. Booker would work the arm a bit, smartly trying to sap Lashley’s power. After some Sharmell interference, Booker would get a good near fall off a Book End. Once Lashley battled back, the pace picked up and he really showed off his arsenal of power moves, tossing Booker around the ring. The crowd was really into Lashley here as his push to this point had been simple and effective. Just when it looked like he would be wearing the crown, his nemesis and Booker’s running buddy, Finlay hit the ring, smacked Bobby with the shillelagh and gave Booker the win and the crown. As much as Lashley could have used the KOTR crown to build his resume, I thought Booker really needed it to help his growing heel character. For the first time in years, he felt fresh and was really taking control of his character, and you knew the crown would only help him accentuate it, similar to Owen Hart twelve years earlier. This was a solid bout and really hard fought and hard hitting. I expected a little bit more from the two of them, but it was good enough for what it was. Grade: 2
*** After the bout, Sharmell crowned Booker and he sat in the throne to celebrate. However, it would be short-lived, as Lashley charged up the ramp and speared Booker out of the chair. ***
7) Great Khali (Dalip Singh) defeats Undertaker (Mark Callaway) with a chop to the head and a kick to the face at 8:32
Fun Fact: Dalip Singh was a former Mr. India and police officer before traveling to the US to train to become a wrestler. His time in APW was not without controversy, as fellow trainee Brian Ong passed away after taking a flapjack from Singh. Despite having delivered the move, Khali wasn’t found at fault, as the trainers had incorrectly cleared Ong to return to the ring after suffering a concussion prior to his tussle with Singh. After training in APW, he would travel to New Japan, where he began teaming with former WWF Oddity Giant Silva. He would sign a
developmental deal with WWE in January and train in DSW until April.
Fun Fact II: On 4/7, Undertaker was wrestling Mark Henry when Daivari appeared with a debuting Giant Khali. He marched into the ring, shook off Taker’s strikes, drilled him with a series of headbutts and dropped him with a boot to the face. Khali made his in ring debut two weeks later, easily defeating Funaki. On 5/5, Teddy Long handed Khali a signed contract from Undertaker for a PPV match, which Khali would accept. On 5/12, Khali’s mega push would continue as he quickly dispatched of Rey Mysterio in a non-title match.
Scott: I had a bad feeling about this match from the get-go. This reminds me of those hideous feuds Taker had to deal with in 1994-1996. Big menacing sloths with zero workrate, just like Mark Henry at Wrestlemania. It drives me bonkers that this poor guy, whenever the writers take him out of the title picture, they stick him in some storyline with a big lumbering oaf. It didn’t happen in 2005 as he battled Randy Orton for most of the year. Then, after Khali attacked Taker on Smackdown to start the feud, they have Khali tossing Cruiserweights around. Guys like Funaki, Nunzio and even World Champion Rey Mysterio. Way to make your Champion look strong. The only thing about this match that even looked remotely interesting was during Taker’s entrance. For some reason it did have that feeling when Taker faced Kane for the first time at Wrestlemania XIV. Then the match started. Khali moves so slow that for me it takes away from his power. His constant chops and slow kicks just don’t have that resonating effect the way Bobby Lashley’s or Taker’s moves have an effect. Khali is a big dude and is physically imposing. I understand that. But since they booked this as a glorified squash since really Taker had very little offense, it still didn’t have that effect of “Wow, this guy is incredibly imposing.” It was more of “Jesus this guy can’t move.” But creative did the best they could, including adding the old Andre the Giant “tied up in the ropes” move during Taker’s comeback. Taker tried to chokeslam him, but you knew that wasn’t happening. Khali then takes control, hits that silly chop thing, and actually beats Taker clean. I hope Creative knew what they were doing, as really this is Undertaker’s first clean pinfall loss in who knows how long. The match was pretty bad, but obviously the moment of Taker losing clean was the thing everyone was supposed to take from it. Grade: 1.5
Justin: In a throwback to Undertaker’s early days, he is once again saddled with the task of vanquishing the newest monster heel on the block. And as usual, a vengeful manager led the monster, this time Davari, who had been wiped out by Taker at SNME in March. I will admit that the stare down was a pretty cool visual and I will also give major props to the crowd, as they were buzzing and hot in this match, rocking any time Taker landed a move. This was a paint-by-numbers giant match, with Khali negating Taker’s offense early, leading to a choppy back and forth flow. Taker was obviously carrying the match and his effort combined with the crowd really saved this from being a total mess. Then, in one of the most shocking PPV finishes in a long time, Khali chops Taker in the head, kicks him in the face and pins him clean! All the years later, and I still can’t believe Taker jobbed clean for Khali like that. It was obvious they had big plans for Khali, but it was even more obvious that he needed a lot more seasoning in the ring before he could be counted on as a big time player. The match was pretty blah and as I said above, the crowd really made it a bit better than it was. Khali wins this round, but these two were not quite done yet. Grade: 1
8) Rey Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez) defeats John Bradshaw Layfield to retain World Heavyweight Championship with a frog splash at 15:56
Fun Fact: On 4/21, JBL held a celebration; honoring his Wrestlemania US title win and his steel cage rematch victory the week before. During the segment, JBL issued a challenge to the winner of the title match between Rey Mysterio and Kurt Angle that was occurring the next week. Angle would win that match by DQ, so Mysterio retained his title and the PPV title match was set. On 5/5, Mysterio claimed that he would take on any challenger, so JBL brought out Mark Henry to face the champion. Henry would pin Mysterio clean in the main event. The following week, JBL told Mysterio he would be facing Great Khali, and Mysterio once again lost clean. During these weeks, JBL also continued to rip on Mysterio on the mic, burying him and making racist remarks towards Mexicans and Rey’s family. On 5/19, Kane was brought over from Raw to face Mysterio. After Kane’s May 19th torture continued, the match ended in a no contest and Kane dropped JBL with a chokeslam.
Scott: Our main event was another booking mess. JBL, who’s always the easiest heel to book on Smackdown in the main events, made the World Champion look like a total chump. He had Rey losing week after week to bigger guys. Now that’s one thing for a heel to occasionally get one up on the champ in a storyline, that’s how a storyline works. But to have your champion losing every single week, that’s not drama that’s burial. What in essence was done was that his Wrestlemania win was a fluke and he really can’t beat anybody remotely bigger than him on the roster. So of course Rey Mysterio came into the match the underdog but really except for the really young kids, nobody cared anyway. The Eddie Guerrero emotions clearly wore off and now we have a guy who just shouldn’t be a World Champion. The match is a slaughter for the most part as JBL bludgeons Rey with clotheslines and power moves, even busting him open. The visual of blood coming out of Rey’s mask was pretty cool I will admit. The crowd is into the match, mostly because the kids and their masks are into Rey and JBL is still a pretty good heel. Rey looks like he’s going to pull it out but JBL throws the ref in front of Rey during a West Coast Pop and after hitting the Clothesline From Hell another ref only gets a two count so JBL clocks him. JBL brings a chair into the ring but Rey kicks it into JBL’s face. Rey honors Eddie again with a Frog Splash and he retains his title. The crowd is excited but for me it doesn’t take away from the fact that Rey has been booked terribly since winning the World Title. The match itself is average, but Rey Mysterio to me is still an overbooked Cruiserweight. Grade: 2
Justin: After an inspiring Rumble victory and World title win at Wrestlemania, Rey Mysterio’s push and title reign quickly began to circle the bowl. I understand he is small and an underdog, but I didn’t get the need to job him cleanly in short TV matches against Mark Henry and Great Khali. His reign had quickly become a joke, but I will give both him and JBL credit for doing their best to resuscitate it here. JBL played the bully role to perfection, as always, however his body was really starting to deteriorate at this point thanks to his balky back and it was clear he wasn’t in top ring shape. After being fed to giants for three straight weeks, the story here focused on whether or not Rey was too worn down to compete with JBL. Rey would outsmart JBL early, dodging him and picking his spots, but JBL would eventually overpower him and go to his usual offense. In a cool spot that was rarely done, Rey was busted open under his mask and the blood started to seep through it. JBL was drawing some great heat, mocking Eddie Guerrero and taunting Rey’s wife, who was sitting at ringside. After JBL continued to punish the champ with stiff kicks and punches, Rey began a hot comeback that was capped off with a great finishing sequence, topped by a tribute to Eddie as he gets the win with a frog splash. This was a nice win for Rey, vanquishing the bully and finally looking strong in a title defense. The only question now was whether or not too much damage had already been done. Grade: 2.5
Scott: This show certainly had its ups and downs. We’ll start with the ups. We had a solid opener between two great young tag teams and a huge upset. Then my favorite match of the night saw two tough bastards pummel each other with one stiff shot after another. That was fun. Then we have a throwaway women’s match, even though anything with Melina on camera is pretty good. Super Crazy finally shows his wares in a singles match even though the over heel Shane Helms retains his Cruiserweight Title. Then we have a little dip in the show with a bad Angle/Henry match and an even worse Khali/Taker match, although that at least had some dramatic pause to it, sandwiched with a solid Booker/Lashley match. The main event is half slaughter, half gutsy comeback but overall Rey Mysterio is in this position because Eddie Guerrero passed away. Otherwise Eddie would either be the heel in this feud with Rey or something of that nature. Smackdown’s really missing Batista right now, and fortunately we do have Booker T to carry the card for the heels and some other role players, Finlay, Benoit, Lashley, to help things out while the main events really suffer. This show had some highs, and some lows. I’ll grade it down the middle. Final Grade: C
Justin: Early on, I had really high hopes for this show as the first half really delivered some great action. As things progressed, the quality of the matches began to dip and flatten out. Still, even with that dip, the action was still solid and outside of Taker/Khali, there were no other stinkers clogging up the show. The Smackdown mid card was starting to fill out nicely and it was good to see the tag and cruiserweight titles getting airtime. It was also great to see Finlay and Benoit given twenty minutes to just tear each other apart. Lashley and Booker capped off the KOTR tournament with Booker getting the win and earning the crown. After some awful booking on Smackdown, Rey Mysterio’s title reign gets back on track with a win over the bully JBL. In the end, this show was pretty much down the middle, with a balanced card featuring a nice mix of talent. I also want to give a shout out to the hot Phoenix crowd that never really slowed down, and added a lot to each match. Watching Backlash and this show brought back memories of 1996, when we would alternate getting cards that were either completely weak on the undercard with a strong main event and a balanced, solid card with no show stealing match. To me, this show is the latter while Backlash was the former. I think both ways can work in delivering a solid show, but ideally it would be nice to have a healthier combination of the two. Anyway, I digress. Smackdown keeps on trucking along and it will be interesting to see how this cache of characters starts to line up as the summer begins. Final Grade: C+
MVP: Finlay & Chris Benoit
Runner Up: Brian Kendrick & Paul London
Non MVP: Melina
Runner Up: Undertaker