The John Report: Talking Smack for Sept. 5/09 (The Morrison/Mysterio Classic)

Welcome to the Talking Smack column where I offer up a quick rundown of WWE’s Friday broadcast, Smackdown. This will be longer than my usual SD column mostly because I’ll be gushing about the terrific match we saw on this week’s show and where it ranks in the match of the year standings (yes, it was that good). Before we get to the show, if you’re a Twitter person please add me at Twitter.com/johnreport so you can get updates from me on a regular basis as well as direct links to my columns as soon as they are posted. Enough shilling. This was a special show that needs to be discussed.

Taped from Cleveland, Ohio let’s talk some smack…

– After a lovely Jeff Hardy tribute video, the show began with an opening promo with CM…Hardy? I loved the idea of Punk coming out dressed in Jeff Hardy gear complete with face paint and stupid armbands. Mocking his ridiculous outfit is even better. The crowd hated it of course, but it was very smart in terms of garnering heel heat for the champion. Punk did his usual spiel about all of us being drunk and/or high, then said he had a vice, which was going to lead to a mention of his Anaconda Vice finisher until he was interrupted by Matt Hardy. They brawled until it was broken up by officials.

– Once we came back from break, Punk was pissed about Hardy interrupting him, so Teddy Long made a Punk/Hardy main event for later in the night. Works for me.

Finlay & The Great Khali d. Mike Knox & Kane (*1/4)
This was alright. They booked it correctly with Finlay taking the beating, Khali barely being in the ring and the heels cheating whenever they could. I liked how JR put over how Knox and Kane are more cerebral heels that think about things. See, announcers should be putting over talent during matches, not giggling incoherently about midgets like they are forced to do on Raw. The finish saw Finlay KO Knox with the shillelagh, which actually surprised. I thought the heels would win. I guess the feuds are continuing with Kane vs. Khali happening at Breaking Point in a Singapore Cane match. I’m not thrilled about it, but hey, better than Punjabi Prison, right?

– Teddy was watching the WCW DVD when Vince came in with a pink jacket. They made an attempt at humor here with a Pepto Bismol reference. It was just okay. By the way, having the GM of the show watching a DVD that he could watch at any time instead of watching his own show doesn’t really put over the current product. Just so you know, pink jacket man.

– Time for the “Poorly acted segment featuring the Smackdown women that act like teenagers!” Maria and Eve were making themselves pretty while Michelle came up talking crap to her about Dolph. Then Melina came in, she got into Michelle’s face and Michelle said if Melina hits her she’ll call the cops! Oh the hilarity! Wait, it wasn’t supposed to make me laugh? Sorry. Then Maria doesn’t want to hear anything from her best friend Melina because she’s a “big girl.” These segments are brutal. Why should we care about Dolph and Maria when they are rarely on the screen together? I don’t care because they have given me no reason to care.

John Morrison d. Rey Mysterio to win the Intercontinental Title (****1/2)
Awesome. The match timed out at just over 26 minutes with two commercial breaks in between. How often do you see that? This, my friends, was special. Lived up to the hype and then some. This is the TV match of the year in a year with a lot of good TV matches. I’m a huge fan of a babyface vs. babyface match for 20 minutes because the crowd was supporting both guys tremendously well. The timing they had was superb. Didn’t seem like they botched anything although I guess if they did they could have edited out. Even the little things, though, like rolling the opponent back in the ring to beat him clean was great. You don’t HAVE to do that kind of stuff to make a match great, but when you do it only helps. It’s rare for a “This is awesome” chant to break out in the PG WWE, but it happened here and that only added to the greatness of the match. They kicked out of good nearfall attempts, they each countered the other’s big finishing moves (Morrison’s Starship Pain and Mysterio’s 619) before Morrison finally hit his for the win. What was great about the finish was that it was set up by a counter, which was the story of the match. The great announcing job by Jim Ross and Todd Grisham (who has improved so much by working with JR and benefits by calling the “wrestling” show) also made it better. They put over how determined each guy was to win the match by mentioning when they would hook both legs or fail to do so because they hit a move that made them tired. I can’t speak enough about how awesome the nearfalls were. I’m loving that Flying Chuck Kick from Morrison. It looks great and always provides one of those moments where the crowd thinks it’s over. I hate that I knew the result and I knew Rey was going to be suspended because it probably ruined it a bit for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it immensely. However, it does take some of the luster out. That’s really one of the few gripes I have for it. These guys laid it all out there. They put on the kind of match that a long time fan like me can appreciate, but also the kind of match that newer fans can love too. It was an athletic, entertaining contest without any hokey storylines to bog it down. Just two guys doing what they do at a very high level. Why do I keep watching wrestling? For matches like John Morrison versus Rey Mysterio on this very show. Thank you to both guys for putting on one hell of a match that I won’t soon forget.

As much as you have to give credit to the wrestlers, I’ll give credit to management as well. They have really done a fantastic job of restoring the credibility of the IC title after years of booking it poorly. This year it has been booked perfectly going from Jericho to Mysterio and now to Morrison, who will now feud with Ziggler over it. That’s how it should be.

If WWE’s smart, they will have a rematch on PPV that goes about the same length of time. They should play a highlight package on Raw and Smackdown for a few weeks and then put it on that Bragging Rights PPV on October 25 that nobody’s going to be ordering anyway. Give people a reason to order. The IC title rematch will sell. Have other wrestlers talk in a video package about how great it was and how much they want to see it again. You will gain more viewers than a typical heel vs. face match at the same PPV.

My updated Match of the Year Standings:
1. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels @ WrestleMania 25 (*****)
2. John Morrison vs. Rey Mysterio @ Smackdown Sept. 4 (****1/2)
3. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk @ Summerslam (****1/2)
4. Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho @ The Bash (****1/2)
5. Edge vs. John Cena @ Backlash (****)

Three of the top four are pure wrestling matches. That should tell you something. We don’t always need gimmick matches to have a great one. I’m not that committed to my number five match. There are so many that could be in that slot, so don’t go nuts about me missing one. The top four are very solid and I liked all of them even more on the second viewing (I even upgraded the Summerslam and Bash matches).

Here’s the link to Morrison/Mysterio. Part two is there on the side. Just click it and watch. Don’t be lazy. You have twenty minutes of free time to appreciate pro wrestling as the art form that it can be:

– Hey, Smackdown’s still on! R-Truth came out for something. Then Drew McIntyre ran out there to beat the crap out of him and hit his awesome looking sitout double arm DDT thing that I know I can grow to love. He cut a promo basically saying he wants a match. This was fine in terms of transitioning from the great match.

Maria & Eve d. Natalya & Layla (1/2*)
This was just okay at best. I love how the announcers put over the background of Eve and Layla as dancers. Maybe they should mention that three of these girls are from diva searches while one is an actually trained wrestler. And guess which one is the best of the four? Shocking, huh? Eve pinned Layla. It’s a day after I watched the show and I have no recollection of what happened here. So yeah, there ya go.

– Matt Hardy talks about getting revenge on Punk. Much like Rey last week, he doesn’t look at the camera or Josh to speak. He looks off into the distance. Who decided that was a good way to do these interviews?

Matt Hardy d. CM Punk via DQ…I assume (***)
There was no official bell ringing or decision to end this match, which is why I put the “I assume” part in there. The action was good. You could get the feeling from watching it that they weren’t going to put either guy over because they would likely have bigger matches down the road depending on how Matt does in his babyface role. I was really impressed with how well Matt was selling his legit abdomen injury (he did have surgery on it). It made him very sympathetic. They went just over 15 minutes, neither guy hit his finisher and then they went out to the floor for the finish. The story was that Punk was frustrated that he couldn’t beat Matt, so he tried to “end his career” like he did to Jeff by attacking him with a chair. He hit Matt in the injured abdomen, then put it around his neck like he did to Jeff and then…GONG. There’s Undertaker. Chokeslam through the table on Punk. That was pretty sudden. The show ended perfectly with the announcers not talking at all. They let the pictures do the talking with Undertaker standing over the fallen Punk. The crowd absolutely loved it. Very well done.

Three Stars of the Show
1. John Morrison – Continues to impress the hell out of me.
2. Rey Mysterio – Enjoy the 30 days off. I’m glad he wasn’t buried.
3. CM Punk – He’s in such a zone right now, kind of like Jericho in 2008.

Rating: 8.5 (out of 10)
Last week: 6.5

I don’t think I need to go over why this was such a great show. I’ve heaped praise on it enough. This is the best show I’ve reviewed this year, and one of the higher scores I’ll ever give. I remember the Smackdown six years ago with the Angle/Lesnar Ironman also having another very good match on the show and I gave it something like a 9.5 when I was doing the grades. The one match on this show was the second best of the year (as I’ve already stated) and carried over 30 minutes of airtime. I also really liked the open to the show and the main event, so that contributed in the main part of the score.

The only negatives were the stuff with the women. The backstage segment was brutal again and the match was just filler. I even liked the stuff involving Khali and Kane because Finlay worked his ass off to carry it. Put Khali in tag matches all the time and it’s fine with me.

If there’s a problem with this show it’s that they are not doing a great job of putting over the Submission Match at Breaking Point. Why not have CM Punk put Matt Hardy in the Anaconda Vice to at least remind fans what it’s like? I liked Undertaker’s chokeslam through a table, but why not bust out his finisher too? You’re trying to sell the fans on a submission match, yet we’re not seeing either guy go for submissions. Now there’s only one show left before Breaking Point. When they go for those subs during the PPV match the fans might not know how to react since they’re not conditioned to know that those moves can finish a match. I know it’s only nitpicking, but I think it’s a fair point that needs to be raised.

Lastly, I think it sucks that Rey Mysterio is going to be suspended for 30 days. Whatever the reason for failing the test, the fact is that he failed and he’s out because of it. His IC title reign was great and he was putting on great matches on a regular basis making guys like Ziggler better. That’s what veterans need to do. I hope he can put the failure behind him and continue to perform at the high level he was performing at. He’s been one of the five best performers in WWE this year. I’ll always be a fan of that guy because he lays it all out there. How could you not appreciate it?

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I appreciate any feedback you can give so please send me your thoughts at oratoryjohn@gmail.com about anything related to WWE past or present. If you add me on facebook (just head to Facebook.com/thejohnreport) or Twitter (Twitter.com/johnreport) you’ll see the links to my work without having to go to the website. I’m very active on Facebook and look to be the same on Twitter just as soon as I get used to it.

I wrote a lot more this week obviously because of one match. It was special. It’s a shame that more people watch Raw every week when Smackdown’s consistently better and a match like this might go unnoticed by some people. Tell your friends about it. They can thank you later.

My next piece of writing will by NFL season preview (posted at sportsoratory.com) probably on Monday although it might be late tonight (Sunday). On the wrestling side, I’ll see you again on Tuesday for the Raw Deal with Bob Barker as the host. Oh, the hilarity.

Smell ya later,
John Canton – oratoryjohn@gmail.com
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