Kozlov defeated Matt Hardy.
Kozlov throws a scary belly-to-back suplex with a leg hook and tosses Hardy into the ring post HARD. Kozlov goes to the double wrist lock often. Hardy has to battle back with a jaw breaker and attacks to the post himself. The Side Effect looked too easy for him. Kozlov is the shits. I mean, he had some solid potential if he could have increased his pace, but he just wasn't there. He won with a big slam after dropping Hardy across the ring post. They seemed to rely on that post an awful lot. This was a non-title match, and they're having Kozlov beat the ECW Champion, which we can definitively go back and say didn't work out. It's a good thing Matt Hardy was in this match.
William Regal is at ringside with Layla for the finals of the tournament. It's weird for me to see Punk in action every time. It's such a distant memory five years later. He really bailed out Rey on a moonsault. They both traded Fujiwara armbars, and it's also weird to see such a subdued Rey Mysterio over a decade ago. CM Punk gets a win with a GTS that may have very well broken Mysterio's nose. It's amazing to see where we are in the ring, because this is nothing special in 2019. This is a Smackdown mid-card match.
A lot of people hated this storyline, but I didn't. It was a storyline in an era that didn't have many good ones. JBL had invested well, Shawn Michaels hadn't. Also, it's amazing to see how much Michaels aged between this and when he retired a couple years later. There are very clear piped in boos. They don't even do a good job hiding it. It was on a loop!
Michaels explains that he supported churches and charities and invested in the stock market, and then the roof caved in. He says that he doesn't know how much time he has left in wrestling -- and he wouldn't be lying. He's accepted JBL's offer and gets "you sold out" chants. JBL shakes his hand and leaves.
Finlay (w/ Hornswoggle) defeated Mark Henry (w/ Tony Atlas)
Tony Atlas out with Mark Henry -- FANTASTIC. Todd Grisham was not fantastic. He's very vanilla on commentary. Henry dumps Finlay over the top rope and later does his guillotine senton. Henry misses a HILARIOUS Banzai drop and busts his ass so hard. He stops Finlay from using a Shillelagh and breaks it over his knee. Same with a kendo stick. Henry then goes into a damn bearhug. Hornswoggle came out to distract Henry -- even though Finlay told him not to earlier. Shillelagh shot lands and Finlay gets a win. This sucked ass.
Edge & Vickie
- It's odd to hear Todd Grisham and Matt Striker on commentary. We see Edge being lovey dovey backstage with Vickie Guerrero, but he has to get ready for his match. Chavo asks how Vickie and Edge took out Jeff Hardy. Vickie denies it and wants Chavo to get her coffee. Everyone was fantastic in this backstage segment. WWE is running a poll on who attacked Jeff. Wow.
- Backstage Crappenings
- Eve Torres is backstage interviewing Legacy -- the Manu version. Manu is just the opposite of what WWE looked for.
- We get a backstage promo of Jeff Hardy all painted up. It's a Jeff Hardy promo.
- Santa Haas is backstage with the Bellas, Melina, Tiffany and Candace Michelle. Glamarella shows up and trolls them all, but get scared off by The Boogeyman, then Goldust. Boogeyman gives Goldust a present, and then Jesse, Festus, and IRS join. Okay. This shit is weird.
- Mr. Kennedy shills Behind Enemy Lines.
Batista defeated Randy Orton (w/ Legacy)
Legacy attacks Batista early on, and I'm quickly reminded that I didn't like the slow wrestling pace of this era. Batista does the typical wrestling no-no of picking up a flat backed opponent. This is a really methodical, boring match until Batista picks it up and slams Orton all about. Both of these guys can work, and get the crowd cooking in a pretty basic match these days, but a good one for the time. Batista wins with a Batista Bomb and gets a nice pop. This one just doesn't quite hold up. They sell it really well after the match, and are both laid out.
Michelle McCool, Mickie James, Kelly Kelly & Maria defeated Victoria, Candace Michelle, Jillian Hall & Maryse
They're all wearing Santa and Elf suits. Oh boy. Maryse and Mickie have a really nice exchange. Mickie has some great strikes. These women are going 100 miles an hour, and unlike the match prior, this does hold up well. For this being the perceived "Divas era' they're really laying it in. The moves being done are executed well, but they're in each other's way an awful lot. Michelle McCool wins with a sloppy Faithbreaker. This wasn't bad at all. If this had more time it would have just flat out been good. Great Khali comes out and tries to kiss everyone. This shit is flat out creepy. Ranjin Singh is wingmanning for Khali, but nobody wants it. What....the....fuck. Singh brings out Mae Young and she makes out with Khali, and calls it the greatest high spot of her life. Jesus.
There is a TON of heat for this match. It's pretty clear they have it mic'd differently, but even without that, the crowd is a lot more loud and active. There was a great F-U counter into the Codebreaker, into a DDT, into a facebuster on the stairs. The story was that Cena couldn't land the move no matter what. The commentary is also exceptional during this match. Michael Cole was on top of his game, and Jerry Lawler wasn't bad either, especially for him being a babyface. The crowd goes nuts during a Walls Of Jericho, and you can tell it pumps up the announcers. Cena gains the submission win with the STFU. This was short, but really good. Watch this! Not only did this hold up, but I'm sure it got better with time.
Jeff Hardy defeated Triple H and Edge to become champion
This was lean-era Smackdown Triple H, in there with a couple of fast paced guys. He cuts Jeff off from a springboard, and pulls Edge in front of him on a slingshot to the outside. Despite that, he's slower than Christmas at points in this match. One of the best spots is HHH setting up for a Pedigree on Edge, but Jeff landing a Whisper in the Wind. A few minutes into the match and Edge is the only one who hasn't blown a spot, which is okay. A fight can be messy.
Triple H and Jeff Hardy do a goddamn Doomsday Whisper in the Wind, and Edge is dropped on his neck. Edge spears HHH in the corner, but Hardy capitalizes with a Twist of Fate and a Swanton. He is super NOT smooth about pinning so that Edge can yank him out of the ring. It looks so bad.
What doesn't look bad is Edge's spear through an announcer's table. Triple H looks poised to win the title, but Kozlov comes out and attacks him. Matt follows, and Kozlov is the shits, man. He's a miserable brawler. Matt is trying, but woof. That's not even the finish, so there's really no point in it besides making Kozlov look like a dick.
Jeff Hardy capitalizes on Triple H Pedigreeing Edge by hitting a Swanton and wins the WWE Title. This finish was really overbooked, and the match didn't need the Kozlov run-in. Without that, this would have been a whole lot better.