-This event was held in Buffalo, New York. Our hosts for the evening are Jim Ross and Tazz for Smackdown, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler for Raw, and Matt Striker and Todd Grisham for ECW.
Matt Hardy vs. Vladimir Kozlov
Fortunately, Hardy’s ECW title is not on the line. Seriously, the best part about Kozlov is his badass entrance music. Hardy is on the defense in the early going as Kozlov backs him around the ring. Shoulder thrusts by Kozlov, but Hardy counters, getting some near falls from roll-ups. Sick back suplex by Kozlov, but he botches tossing Hardy into the ring post. Kozlov tries again and gets it right. Kozlov goes to work on Hardy’s arm. Kozlov slams Hardy by an arm lock and keeps focusing on the arm. Hardy counters with a chin breaker but Kozlov hooks the arms for a series of head butts. Cover by Kozlov gets 2. Kozlov goes back to wearing down the arm. Hardy eventually counters again with a chin breaker on the ropes. Hardy goes high risk with a double axe off the top. Hardy throws Kozlov to ringside and attempts a cross body off the apron. Kozlov catches Hardy in mid-air, but Hardy counters, knocking the Russian’s skull into the ring post. Back to the ring, Hardy gets a side effect for 2. Kozlov blocks the Twist of Fate and strikes Hardy flying through the air. Cover by Kozlov is stopped by a desperate rope break. Roll-up by Hardy gets 2. Kozlov knocks Hardy into the ring post and plants Hardy for the win at 9:04. Leave it to Matt Hardy to get an enjoyable match out of Kozlov, **¼.
Winner: Vladimir Kozlov
-Backstage, Edge, Vickie Guerrero, and Chavo are watching the show. Edge is happy that Matt Hardy lost. Edge leaves to get ready for his WWE title defense. Chavo asks Vickie how she and Edge were able to take out Jeff Hardy before Survivor Series. Vickie claims they were not involved. Vickie neuters him by demanding he get her the coffee she asked for five minutes ago.
-Tonight’s mobile poll: Who do you think attacked Jeff Hardy in his hotel before Survivor Series?
-Hornswoggle attacks Eve with the inflatable shillelagh. Finlay apologies for his behavior. Finlay asks his son to stay backstage during his Belfast Brawl with Mark Henry.
-William Regal and Layla are at ringside, where his King of the Ring throne is set up so he can watch the tournament finals to see who his next challenger is.
Intercontinental Championship #1 Contender match:
Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk
Mysterio goes after the arm and tries to get an early win. Punk goes after the legs and then the head. They put on a chain wrestling show. They trade cover attempts. Rey sets up 619, but runs into a deep armdrag. Rey counters GTS with an armdrag as well but gets launched to ringside, by Regal’s feet. Slingshot cross body by Punk lays out Rey. Back to the ring, Punk nails a tirt-a-whirl backbreaker for 2. Body scissors by Punk. Rey tries to turn the table, but Punk trips him off the top into a tree of woe. Punk misses a knee lift and Rey connects with a moonsault! Cover by Rey gets 2. Power slam by Punk gets 2. Punk works an armbar. Rey almost gets a rope break, so Punk transitions into a crossface. Rey gets the rope break anyway and flips Punk into an armbar. Punk gets the rope break. Springboard drop-kick by Rey sends Punk crashing to the floor. Rey goes high risk and hits a flying cross body on Punk at ringside. Springboard seated senton by Rey and a lateral press earns a cover for 2. They exchange pinning predicaments. The pace quickens, Punk’s running bulldog gets another near fall. Rey wraps up Punk for a painfully close near fall. Punk ducks out of a 619, but Rey counters GTS and nails 619. Rey’s springboard splash misses but he gets a near fall anyhow. Punk counters and finally hits GTS for the win at 12:15. They worked hard and it was a good match, but it was missing a sense of urgency until the very end, ***.
Winner: CM Punk
-Backstage, Jeff Hardy is hiding in the shadows. Hardy says over the past year, he has had to ask himself if he is willing to change. Hardy says it’s easy to pass him off as a screw-up, but no one has the nerve to ask him why. Tonight will be a new chapter in his career, as he promises to win the WWE title. Good promo, good to see no one bothered him in his hotel.
-It’s time for a no wrestling segment for Shawn Michaels to explain himself for working for JBL. This segment actually gets a background video. This could have, and should have, been saved for Raw. Michaels explains that the economy is hurting him, and he has gone bankrupt. Michaels needs to think about his family and does not want to end up a “wrestling tragedy” who has to wrestle in high school gyms. The promo is excellent, but not appropriate on a $40 pay-per-view.
-Backstage, Eve is standing by with Randy Orton. The interview is interrupted by Cody Rhodes and Manu. Rhodes says that Orton was the crown jewel of Evolution, while Batista was the hired muscle. He claims that Batista isn’t on the level of himself, Manu, or Orton. Manu says that Orton is going to expose Batista for a fraud and cement his own legacy. Eve offers Orton a chance to respond, but he just walks away. Well done.
Finlay vs. Mark Henry (with Tony Atlas)
I’m impressed that we’re seeing an ECW match on pay-per-view with hardcore rules. Finlay is aggressive in the early going but Henry dumps him over the ropes. Finlay crashes awkwardly to the floor, his leg got caught in the ropes. Finlay drops Henry face-first into the announce table. Henry reverses, shoving Finlay into the ring post, ring, and barricade. Finlay fights back, kicking the head. Henry sweeps Finlay off the apron. Back to the ring, Henry misses a splash. Finlay attacks the head and brings in some weapons from under the ring. Tony Atlas distracts with a can lid attack, allowing Henry to hit the world’s strongest lid shot. Henry is in control and methodically abuses Finlay. Finlay bounces back with a trash can shot, followed by repeated blows with the kendo stick. Another trash can shot gets Finlay a cover for 2. Henry misses a splash off the rope. Finlay fetches the shillelagh, but walks into a big boot to the face. Henry awesomely breaks the shillelagh over his knee. Finlay attacks with the kendo stick, but Henry blocks and breaks the stick over his knee as well. Time for an extreme bear hug. Hornswoggle runs in, but Finlay is tossed into him. Hornswoggle hides under the ring. Henry compacts a can into Finlay’s head, which is another great touch. Henry brings the steel steps to the ring but Finlay drop-kicks the knee, causing Henry’s head to bounce off the steel. Hornswoggle throws a second shillelagh to Finlay, who slams it into Henry’s face for the win at 9:40. Solid brawl that was elevated by some great character moments from Henry, **¾.
-Backstage, a bunch of divas are decorating a tree. They are joined by Santa Haas, and he has presents for all of them. Santino and Beth waltz in to kill the mood, as Santino rubs in Beth’s “Diva of the Year” Slammy win in their faces. The Boogeyman climbs out of the giant present, Santino tries to flee but runs into Goldust standing under some mistletoe. Santino runs out. Goldust wishes Boogeyman a Merry Christmas, and gets a present in return. Jesse and Festus show up and everyone starts singing. This was hilarious!
-Mr. Kennedy is backstage, telling everyone to not do drugs (hypocrite) and make sure they pick up his DVD on January 6th.
Batista vs. Randy Orton (with Cody Rhodes and Manu)
The match kicks off with a shoving contest. Headlock by Orton is broken by the ropes. Orton gets tackled, but he manages to send Batista to the floor, where Manu and Rhodes attack. The referee chooses not to call a DQ, but throws the young bucks out at 2:30. The damage might have been done, as Orton is now on the offense, sending Batista crashing into the ring post. Orton starts targeting the left arm (as a notable “RKO” chant breaks out in the crowd). Batista escapes and destroys Orton with a series of power moves. Orton blocks the Batista Bomb and counters with a Neckbreaker. Knee drop by Orton gets a cover for 2. Headlock by Orton. Batista counters with a slam and thrusts Orton into the corner. Batista easily tosses Orton to the floor. Orton regains control and DDTs Batista off the ropes to the mat. Cover by Orton gets 2.5. Orton routinely stomps a circle around the Animal. Orton is now targeting the neck, setting up the Orton Chinlock ®. Batista snapmares out, but Orton goes back to the chinlock. Batista fights to his feet and backs Orton into the turnbuckles. Side slam by Batista, regains some momentum, finally clothes lining Orton to the floor. Batista directs the action to the ring and goes high risk. Orton knocks Batista off his feet and nails a superplex! Cover by Orton gets 2.5. Spinebuster by Batista gets another near fall. They block each other’s finishers before Batista finally plants Orton for a near fall. Orton blocks the spear and hits his patented backbreaker for 2.5. Orton signals the RKO but Batista counters into a slam for 2.5. Chin breaker and DDT by Orton. Orton attempts the death punt, but Batista turns the tables. Orton tries to block the mounted punches, but Batista counters with the Demon Bomb for the win at 16:45. Solid match with a nice finishing sequence, but I really wish they’d stop wasting time with wear-down holds if they aren’t going to lead to anything, **½.
Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly, Maria, and Mickie James vs. Maryse, Victoria, Natalya, and Jillian
They are all dressed like Santa’s little helper, with the heels wearing green and the faces in red. Maryse starts the match against Mickie, with Mickie getting the upper hand with some wrist work. Maryse strikes back, but has to hide in the ropes from the more accomplished Mickie. Natalya tags and gets right into Mickie’s face. Natalya slaps, prompting Mickie to tackle her. Kelly tags and enters with a sunset flip. Clothesline by Kelly, but Natalya outwrestles her. Kelly flips out, but Natalya throws her to the heel corner. Jillian tags and keeps up the assault on Kelly. Maria gets a tag and overwhelms Jillian with a running bulldog. Victoria breaks a cover. Maria regains the upper hand, but Michelle tags herself in and hits the Styles Clash on Jillian for the win at 4:34. Good enough, *½.
Winners: Michelle McCool, Maria, Kelly Kelly, and Mickie James
-The Great Khali and Ranjin Singh come to the ring while the divas are still celebrating. It’s time for Khali’s Christmas Kiss-cam. The divas are offered the “ultimate Christmas gift” in the form of a kiss from the Punjabi Playboy. Ranjin drafts Michelle, but she escapes the ring. Ranjin tries to talk the remaining divas into a kiss, but they are reluctant. Ranjin says he has a back-up plan, someone who has been helping Santa for a long time (you can see where this is going). Of course, Mae Young strolls to the ring. Young dives into Khali’s arms and kisses the hell out of Khali. As per usual, this was highly amusing, but really could’ve waited for Smackdown.
World Heavyweight Championship:
John Cena © vs. Chris Jericho
They are in heavy smark territory, as a “you can’t wrestle” chant is directed at Cena before the bell even rings. They lock up with Jericho going for a headlock. Jericho nails a takedown and stomps the head and pounds the back. Cena rebounds, brawling with Jericho to ringside. Back to the ring, Jericho head butts and pummels Cena to the corner. Hard Irish whip by Cena, but Jericho applies a sleeper. Cena counters, but Jericho holds on to the sleeper. Cena manages to counter into an F-U position, but Jericho counters with a DDT. Jericho goes for his turnbuckle drop-kick, but Cena catches him in the F-U, but Jericho again counters, with a bulldog off the apron to the steel steps! That was awesome! Jericho attempts a cover, but only gets 2. Jericho follows up with some choking in the ropes. Jericho applies his patented headlock, also stretching the arm. Cena rebounds with some shoulder tackles and a slam. Five knuckle shuffle by Cena but Jericho counters the F-U into the Walls. Cena counters the Walls and nails a belly to belly suplex. Missile drop-kick by Jericho gets 2. Jericho runs into a hip toss but the throwback is blocked. Jericho nails the lionsault but only gets a near fall. Jericho plants Cena on the top rope, but gets knocked off the superplex attempt. Top rope leg drop by Cena gets a near fall. Jericho blocks the F-U again and nails the Code Breaker. Cover by Jericho gets 2.5! Jericho runs into the F-U, but Cena is too hurt to follow through and only gets a near fall. Jericho gets a quick near fall, but Cena goes for the STFU. Jericho blocks and locks in the Walls. Cena reverses into the STFU, and Jericho taps out at 12:43. This was really easy to sit through as they cut out the tedious wear-down stretch that wouldn’t amount to anything and just got down to business, ***¼.
Winner and still World Heavyweight Champion: John Cena
-67% of the fans think Edge was the one who attacked Jeff Hardy at the hotel.
Edge © vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Triple H
Hardy jumps Edge in the early going, but manages to fight off HHH as well. Triple H inadvertently helps Hardy splash Edge in the corner and pick up the first near fall of the match. Hardy dumps HHH to ringside, but Edge prevents a slingshot plancha. Hardy sidesteps Edge, sending him to ringside. Hardy slingshots onto both men. HHH takes out Hardy before returning to the ring, where Edge is ready for him. They trade shots. Triple H answers a big boot with a reverse Neckbreaker. Facebuster by HHH on Edge, but Hardy stops the Pedigree. HHH tries again but eats Hardy’s Whisper in the Wind. All three men are down. Triple H stops Hardy’s cover but gets knocked down. Hardy slips on the top rope, and Edge tries to capitalize with a superplex. Triple H catches Edge in an electric chair, setting up a high impact Whisper in the Wind. Triple H breaks up a cover and blocks Hardy’s flying offense, but Hardy counters with a catapult into the corner. Hardy drop-kicks HHH in the face, but Edge plants him for a near fall. Edge misses a spear on Hardy but hits Triple H instead. Edge is dumped from the ring, leaving Hardy to nail the Twist of Fate on HHH! Hardy goes high risk and connects with the Swanton on HHH! Edge pulls Hardy from the cover to ringside and they brawl. Triple H joins the fun, throwing Edge into the ECW table. HHH goes for a Pedigree on Hardy on the table, but Hardy counters. HHH counters, but Edge dives through and spears Hardy off onto another table! Damn! Back to the ring, Edge nails a DDT on HHH. Triple H counters the spear with a Spinebuster. Pedigree on Edge, but Vladimir Kozlov runs in and pulls HHH from the ring. Matt Hardy runs in for an attempted save, but Kozlov pushes Jeff off the top turnbuckle. Matt and Kozlov brawl up the ramp. HHH returns to the ring and gets speared by Edge for 2.5. Edge grabs some chairs and sets up HHH for a con-chair-to. Jeff makes the save, cracking a chair over Edge’s skull. Jeff goes high risk, but Triple H knocks him off his feet. HHH finally hit’s a Pedigree on Triple H, but Hardy breaks up the cover with a swanton and gets the pin on Edge to win the match and the title at 17:20! The building explodes! Great main event, full of satisfying action and plenty of twists and turns. This was a suitable way to end a solid year of pay-per-view, ****.
Winner and new WWE Champion: Jeff Hardy
-Jeff Hardy basks in his victory to an overjoyed crowd.
Final Thoughts: This was a pretty middle of the road pay-per-view until the explosive finish. The good news is that there were no bad matches, with many of them falling around the *** mark. That makes for an easy show to sit and enjoy. Jeff Hardy’s title victory was certainly noteworthy and memorable, so if you are a fan of his, it’s worth giving this show a viewing.