TKG: Regal v. Hardy was pretty great. Next week we get Finlay vs. Hardy and I'm hoping for a Taylor v Hardy follow-up after that. Used to seeing Matt Hardy and Regal in role of teacher taking green student by the hand on Smackdown, and it's a treat whenever we get a maestro v maestro match. Regal has his circa 93 babyface hair and was super spry while Hardy just leans into everything, throws his nasty back elbow and takes the vicious bump to the apron and floor. I wanted this to be a best of seven series.
PAS: I was loving all of Regal's rib work in this. How he modified his ringpost spot into a kick to the ribs. Every couple of seconds he would throw another elbow or a knee to the side. Hardy also just died on the Regal plex. I can't see him doing anything even close to this good on RAW, as he will probably be stuck in your 4 minute throw away 9:45 RAW matches with Morella or Cryme Time.
TKG: I guess best possible outcome is a Regal v Sandman series. Then again, WWE is back to doing cheesy 90s car destruction shit and I'd don't want to see those two get hurt in another Junkyard invitational.
TKG: Batista and MVP really match up well. The story on MVP is that he's a 35 year old guy who 40 year old Benoit has taken under his wing as a protégé. The story on Batista is that he's 39 year old guy who 38 year old Helmsley has taken under his wing as a protégé. Watching this match between these two protégés, I was struck by how much better Batista and MVP gel in ring then HHH and Benoit. Watching Batista v MVP made you want to try to track down their matches from 93 when they were both still young. Batista does power guy vs. scientific junior matches well and this really should be his signature match. Did Chono stiff JBL on pay at some point? "Chono made a career of nothing but that one boot, and he didn't do it as well as MVP". Did Chono work Texas? Did he and Tully soap a green Layfield up? "One day I’ll make them pay. I'll make them all pay".
PAS: Really MVP seems to have dropped a lot of his NOVA shit, and is just working with some bumps, punches and a big boot. It is too bad he didn't last longer in ROH as we could hear people bitch about how the WWE won't let him do any moves. I wonder if Benoit sat him down, and said "look son, all that fancy shit is fine for meaningless mid card, but you are working the main event now, simplify."
TKG: Flair v Edge was really fun. Flair isn't going to do lots of complicated intricate spots and so like the Benoit v Edge match, this was an Edge match that felt like an actual main event fight. This was so much better than any of the Edge v. HBK street fights. Edge looked like he was actually fighting when he was on offense and did nice job selling the leg. Flair takes the insane old man backdrop on the floor. Flair stomped and punched and chopped and sold when Edge fought back. And it's Naitch and Lil Naitch in the ring together again. They better fucking run Naitch/Lil Naitch v Finlay/Hornswaggle.
PAS: It is pretty amazing how Ric Flair can continue to look completely done, and then he gets a chance to work more then five minutes and it is fucking great. I loved Flair v. Carlito at Judgment Day but this was even better. Flair was lacerating Edge with chops, as he has gotten older he seems to be chopping harder. I also liked Flair cutting off the Edge in ring dive with a chop. Smackdown has gotten completely reamed in the draft, but I am excited to have a dilapidated roster force long Flair matches
TKG: London/Kendrick v. Deuce and Domino was a fine lil 7 minute match, but didn't really feel like a proper send off for the Smackdown tag division. I was hoping for something that built more before they get sent off to do three minute matches with WGTT and singles jobbing to Lashley or Snitsky to build Lashley/Snitski up for a title shot. This really was a short heel in peril section and then an end run and that's it. Deuce/Domino did nothing that looked bad but this wasn't much.
PAS: I liked the one end bump by Domino, but man alive I am not looking forward to Duece and Domino feuding with roided Mickey Whipwreck trainees. At least Deuce and Domino v. SAT's might have been amusing.
TKG: The four way cruiser match had some nice dives and Knoble and Moore look great working each other. Shame Helms was injured as, Davari really felt out of place in the 3 Count v Jung Dragons reunion match.
PAS: Shannon Moore looked really good here, the last time I remember seeing him actually wrestle may have been all those terrible Velocity Ultimo matches, but he looked really fluid and smooth, and he and Noble still have some muscle memory
TKG: I normally don’t have positive things to say about Edge mic work. But I kind of really liked his John Favreau in “Swingers” tongue tied awkwardness as he piled one meaningless metaphor on top of another until it all meant nothing.
PAS: I liked Regal heeling during his memorial speech, this whole thing would have been way better if everyone kept kayfabe. Jillian could sing Tuesday's Gone, MVP could wear an airbrushed RIP VINCE T-Shirt, Duece and Domino could talk about how this reminded them of the Birmingham church bombing.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK:
TKG: They couldn't get Mark Henry to read a poem? It's Mark Henry. He should be reading a poem. At first you'd think it wouldn't work with his new Ape gimmick but c'mon. JBL "Since the beginning of time Philosophers have asked 'How many monkeys hammering on typewriters would it take to write great poetry’ Well I'm not sure how many monkeys. But it only takes one intelligent giant black ape"
Perhaps inspired by this thread, wwe.com has their own list of 12 to Watch in 2012 (wwe.com) It's not quite an "up and comers" list. Although that Chris Jericho, he could go very far one day. That kid just has "it".