ONE NIGHT STAND 2008 was another entertaining PPV from the WWE, but I don't think it'll inspire much discussion in the future. WWE's One Night of Extreme Rules was a most bizarre pleasure:
1) Falls Count Anywhere
Jeff Hardy vs. Umaga
---I have to admit I didn't want to see these two square off in the first place. Not only were my prayers not answered, I got a throwback of the worst kind. Remember those "hardcore" matches from about 1999 or 2000? You know, where the WWF thought if a match wasn't in the ring, then it must have been "hardcore"? I'm afraid this opener was basically these guys just brawling around the arena with little-to-no Extreme moments. There were a few innovative spots, like when Jeff slid down a stair-railing to deliver a clothesline. But then the festivities ended with a Swanton Bomb from atop a truck, where we couldn't see the impact. If you've seen some of Shane McMahon's famous TitanTron falls, where you barely saw where he landed, you know what to expect. This one didn't even come close to doing the trick for me.
"5.0 / 10"
2) Singapore Cane Match - #1 Contender Match
CM Punk vs. John Morrison vs. Chavo Guerrero vs. Tommy Dreamer vs. Big Show
---Now THIS was more like it! One of those crazy fights that had some good laughs, and some "OUCH" moments too. Big Show took a nasty cut above his left eye. San Diego Charger Sean Merriman got to smack Chavo with a cane. Tommy Dreamer proved he can still hang in an anything-goes environment with the rest of the talent. Even Mike Adamle got a good chuckle from me: "Big Show's grabbing canes from that trashcan like Tiger Woods grabs his clubs from his bag!" That Adamle is starting to grow on me. I'm not looking forward to Big Show and Kane (ECW champion) having another faceoff, but I'll keep my fingers crossed. All in all, this was about 12 minutes that would earn the Hammerstein Ballroom's approval.
"7.0 / 10"
3) First Blood Match
JBL vs. John Cena
---It's official: Cena and Bradshaw had a one-hit wonder 3 years ago, and that's the end of it. I'm tired of waiting for these two to deliver an excellent brawl again. Like their JUDGMENT DAY opener --- which I liked a lot more than everybody else --- it wasn't not bad, but not very good either. Thankfully, we saw a few decent weapons spots and a little back-and-forth fighting; just not a whole lot. Also, these two beat each other's heads so much, I just started laughing that neither bled for 15 minutes. It was also funny to hear the crowd cheer JBL for a change. It's too bad he lost in a rather weak finish. This rivalry was on the shelf for 3 years; it probably should've stayed there.
"6.0 / 10"
4) "I Quit" Match
Beth Phoenix vs. Melina
---This was more of a Submission Match than an "I Quit" Match, but so what? These ladies engaged in a remarkable technical showdown. They got about 10 minutes to show off a variety of holds, which was a thrill for the mat-wrestling mark that I am. The finishing submission looked like one of the most painful holds I've ever seen. I'm a little disappointed that the crowd didn't get into it more, but maybe that's a reality that won't change. I think I heard a "Chyna" chant going on, which was even weirder. Anyway, I think the WWE Divas have been steadily improving since October. Phoenix and Melina gave a good example of why.
"7.0 / 10"
5) Stretcher Match
Shawn Michaels vs. Batista
---First off, I liked how SMACKDOWN got to announce this match, since RAW got to call these two back in April. Some other good news is that this Stretcher Match was just as good as their BACKLASH encounter. The first time around was very technical, and this rematch was very similar, just with some Stretchers at ringside. Batista and Michaels still utilized submission holds, while throwing in some nice Stretcher spots. The triangle storyline including Chris Jericho got a little weird, when Y2J came out to encourage a weakened Michaels to keep fighting. The finish was even stranger, with an unexpected nod to the Flair/HBK finale at WRESTLEMANIA 24. I'll leave that one for you to watch. I can't tell how I feel about the storyline developments, but if you wanna check out the match on DVD, it'll be worth a watch.
"7.0 / 10"
6) Last Man Standing Match - WWE Championship
Randy Orton vs. Triple H (champion)
---One of the most unpleasant surprises in recent memory. I've put up with this rivalry going on as long as it has, because the matches between HHH and Orton have usually been worth the PPV airtime. But this time, it backfired. About 10 minutes in, Orton was tossed over the top rope, and landed so awkwardly that he hurt his collarbone. The action before this finish was decent, but Orton's injury (which seemed to be very real) apparently ended things prematurely. Like the Montreal Screwjob, the finish was so shocking I won't remember the rest if it.
"5.5 / 10"
7) TLC Match - World Heavyweight Championship (vacant)
Edge vs. The Undertaker (Banished From WWE If Defeated)
---How do these two men keep doing it? This was the only reason I needed to order this PPV in the first place, because of these guys' outstanding encounters. But time after time, Edge and Undertaker have put on a Match-of-the-Year candidate. This rivalry is the stuff of classics, folks. So how's the match? In short, it was outstanding, and both men did nothing but improve their reputation as WWE legends. Taker and Edge deserve a ton of credit for going through with this spot-fest, considering they're both kinda injury-prone. I enjoy TLC for the carnage; besides Taker and Edge spent 3 months delivering sensible displays of in-ring psychology. When it comes to TLC Matches, I don't expect logical competition. That does bring up one big complaint from me, however. The final high-risk spot, while more daring than anything I'd ever attempt, was beyond predictable. Other than that, this main event did the TLC lineage proud.
One last note - big props to WWE for treating Taker's loss with class and respect. This match only had 2 weeks of build-up, so I didn't think this would be his last match. I know you it's never-say-never in wrestling, but Taker's departure felt just as real as Austin's "retirement" from 5 years ago. If this is a storyline, WWE played it very well. But if this is the last time Undertaker graces a WWE presentation, it's a hell of a way to go out!
"8.0 / 10"
---ONE NIGHT STAND 2008 has put me in a puzzling state of speculation. This 2008 edition was a genuine rollercoaster. It started slow, gained speed, hit a roadblock, and ended with the ultimate adrenaline rush. My only real gripe is that nothing really seems resolved from tonight's PPV. Orton's injury and Taker's banishment (real or fake) have abruptly taken them out of the big picture, which means HHH and Edge have no momentum as champions. The HBK/Jericho/Batista triangle is far from over, so tonight was a mid-novel chapter. Big Show is the #1 Contender foe the ECW Title, but I doubt anybody is looking forward to that. And the rest of the card, while entertaining in patches, isn't anything to go out of your way to see.
Is this ONE NIGHT STAND better than last year's garbage? Absolutely! Is it better than the 2005 & 2006 ECW events? Not even close. I don't know if this PPV will age well. Like I said, it was a rollercoaster - entertaining while it lasted, but won't be the same the next time around.