Having watched several TNA gimmick match strewn shows in the past few months, it’s now WWE’s turn to jump of the bandwagon with the re-branded One Night Stand, shown in Britain in Sky Sports, and with all three brands contributing matches for the show. Are hosts for the evening are, representing Raw, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, representing Smackdown, Michael Cole and JBL, and representing ECW, Joey Styles and Tazz.
The show kicks off with an inter-brand stretcher match between Raw’s Randy Orton and ECW’s Rob Van Dam. RVD is apparently going into this match having suffered a concussion at the hands of Orton on Raw. For a show opener, this was great. RVD started things early by connecting with several kicks and knees to Orton’s heads, but the Legend Killer fought back, and once again centred his attack on RVD’s head, inflicting even more damage as Van Dam’s health became a concern again. Running purely on instinct, Van Dam fought back with some high-risk moves, including a leg drop off the apron onto Orton on the stretcher, until Orton came back once again. Finally, after he put RVD on the stretcher and pushed him towards the finish line, Van Dam stirred enough to fight back and put Orton on the stretcher, giving it a final push as it rolled over the finish line to give RVD the victory. But things didn’t end there, as Orton attacked again after the bell, once again delivering blows to the head, including a DDT on the arena floor. A gripping encounter here, with the concussion storyline surrounding Van Dam well played out.
Backstage, the McMahons discuss Vince’s upcoming title match with Lashley, as the boss predicts the end of Lashley’s career. However, the champion is a little worried about a premonition he’s had.
Back in the arena, it’s ECW’s turn as the Sandman, Tommy Dreamer and C.M. Punk take on Elijah Burke, Matt Striker and Marcus Cor Von on a tables match. The Sandman gives us his classic entrance through the crowd, although it just doesn’t seem right without that certain Metallica song playing in the background. While it still seems a little odd to see a tables match that doesn’t involve the Dudley Boys, this one was still damn entertaining. Burke, Cor Von and Burke looked really good in this one as both teams tore strips of each other, with Punk and the ECW Originals getting the win in this one. After Dreamer saved Punk from getting put through a table, he took down Burke with a piledriver and place him on a table. Seconds later Punk suplexed Striker from the top rope, onto Burke, putting both of the New Breed members through the table, winning the match for his team. A damn good match here.
Backstage, Orton catches up with World Champion Edge, and basically tells him to watch his back if he gets drafted to Smackdown in the upcoming draft.
The first title match of the evening follows, as the Hardys defend the World Tag-Team titles against the World’s Greatest Tag-Team in a ladder match. To say that this match was great would be an understatement. Both teams used all the ladders to good effect to knock seven sorts of you-know-what out of each other in what was a gripping encounter, with plenty of sick-looking bumps taken by both teams. I would list some of the great moves here, but it would simply take too long. After what seemed like an eternity of great action, it was the Hardys who emerged victorious, proving that they’re still the masters of the ladder match in a title retaining effort. An amazing performance from both teams in a show-stealing effort.
Backstage, the Great Khali, through his interpreter, has a few choice words for John Cena. Once again the crowd join in with their “what?” chants, as the giant Indian predicts another dominating performance after his victory over Cena on Saturday Night’s Main Event.
So how do you follow the great ladder match? With the lumberjack match between Mark Henry and Kane. By now you should know that I’m not exactly Mark Henry’s biggest fan, so you should also know how much I was looking forward to this one. Most of the lumberjacks looked really happy to be there, and that’s the last piece of sarcasm I’m going to use for this match. It’s the usual plodding and uninspiring performance from Henry here, and not even Kane could raise the excitement of this one. Henry won this one as Kane passed out in Henry’s bear hug. Let’s move on quickly shall we.
Backstage, the Hardys and the World’s Greatest Tag-Team exchange a few words while they get medical treatment. The confrontation soon breaks out into a brawl, as Benjamin claims that his team would have won had it been a proper wrestling match.
More title action follows, as Vince McMahon defends the ECW title against Lashley in a street fight, although this is essentially another handicap match as Vince once again enlists the aid of his son Shane and of Umaga. This was basically a mugging as Lashley got the crap beat out of him. But time and time again, Lashley fought back against the odds, even after Shane put him through the announcer’s table with his top rope elbow. Shane didn’t quite finish Lashley off though. As he was slumped in a corner, Umaga held a rubbish bin in front of him as Shane attempted to go coast-to-coast. But Lashley got out of the way, and Umaga took the full brunt of the blow. After spearing Shane out of his shoes, Lashley delivered a more devastating spear to McMahon senior to get the title winning pin, before taking him down with another spear for good measure.
Backstage, as Santino Marella is having a few words with Maria, Todd Grisham interrupts so he can get Maria’s expert opinion on the upcoming pudding match. Maria once again goes into intelligent mode, before Candice Michelle appears wanting a kiss for good luck. She wasn’t expecting Maria to plant one on her lips though. As Candice goes to the arena for her match, Ron Simmons appears, and…..well, I think you can guess what happened next.
Back in the arena, it’s time for the pudding match between Melina and Candice Michelle. The crowd is extremely quiet as this one begins. Not really much to write home about in this one. Lots of pudding getting thrown about in the kind of match that would be a main event in any Dangerous Women of Wrestling show, with Candice winning via some sort of submission hold as Melina tapped out. Maria then turns up for an interview, and ends up diving in the pudding herself after getting attacked by Melina. Even the referee got pulled into the pudding.
Thankfully, we’re back to proper wrestling action next, as Edge defends his World title against Batista in a steel cage match. A match filled with drama and intensity here between two wrestlers at the top of their games at the moment. This is what a steel cage match should be about. Edge played the cowardly champion to perfection at the beginning of the match as he tried to escape the ring early, only for Batista to drag him back into the ring before the real action began. The drama and action continued right to the end of the match, with Batista thinking he had the match won as he escaped through the cage door, only to find out that Edge had climbed out of the cage before him, his feet touching the floor just seconds before Batista’s. Hey, I know we’ve seen this kind of ending before, but it’s still a great and dramatic way to end a cage match.
The final match of the night sees John Cena defend the WWE title against the Great Khali in a falls count anywhere match. Having seen their previous efforts against each other, I knew that this one would be better than I first expected, and while it wasn’t the greatest falls count anywhere match I’ve ever seen, it accomplished what it set out to do. Khali once again looked like an unstoppable monster, and dominated Cena for the most part, with the champion only getting in fleeting moments of offence. As the fight went through the fans and onto the stage, Khali press slammed Cena onto a crane, before Cena recovered to finally deliver an FU on Khali from the crane onto the arena floor. A three count later and Cena had retained his title.
In conclusion - for me, WWE One Night Stand proved two things.
The first thing is that if you’re going to have quite a few gimmick matches on a pay-per-view, then you’ve got to make those matches different. This is where One Night Stand succeeded, and where TNA shows, most notably Lockdown, fail to deliver. Having a show full of cage matches of with two or three triple threat matches waters down the effect of the matches.
The second thing is that the tri-brand pay-per-views are definitely working, as the WWE pay-per-views have certainly improved this year. Okay, the pudding and lumberjack matches may have been decidedly below average, but overall One Night Stand was a great show, well worth staying up into the small hours for.
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