Tuesday, June 24, 2008

WWE's One Night Stand 2008

Event: WWE One Night Stand Pay Per View
Airdate: Sunday, June 1st, 2008 (Live On PPV)
Location: The San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego, Calif.


Falls Count Anywhere Match: JEFF HARDY V. UMAGA

The performance levels were very high, but both performers are very dynamic. Jeff Hardy does have a little ring rust still that he hasn't completely shaken from his suspension. Umaga carries on as one of the most underrated performers the WWE has. He fully participated in the falls count anywhere match and actually was able to best Jeff Hardy for some of the dramatic flair that is always associated with the name Hardy. As far as the match staging, there were a few instances that left much to be desired. From a television fan perspective it seemed almost too staged and didn't have a natural feel or core of believability. Move content was solid. Just enough basic technical work with just enough specialty moves. The pacing of the match was well handled with the exception of a couple of moments where Hardy was behind. The position of this match was perfect. It was a good introduction to the hard core pay per view. Just light enough for those with delicate constitutions to open with.

Winner: Jeff Hardy

Story Note: This feud seems to be more of a continuation from the previous feud. Due to Jeff Hardy's suspension the intended storyline for him was passed on to CM Punk and is no longer available at this juncture. The discontinuity of the story is an issue. But this is just a side car in the face of the very high match level and high performance level.

MATCH LEVEL: 6
PERFORMANCE QUALITY: 8
STORY CONTENT: 3

OVERALL: 5.6

Singapore Cane Match(Winner will face Kane for the ECW Title at Night of Champions)BIG SHOW v JOHN MORRISON w/ THE MIZ v. TOMMY DREAMER v. CHAVO GUERRERO w/ BAM NEELY v. CM PUNK

This match was an interesting mix of young and older wrestlers. This gave a wide variety of mix in style, approach and pacing. As usual, Big Show, Guerrero and Dreamer are bread and butter. They always bring consistent solid performances and this was no different. In the onslaught of such seasoned and confident approaches the most notable of the younger stock is Morrison. As a performer he grows by leaps and bounds in every match and this habit was no different in this staging. Also gaining a notable mention is The Miz who outshined Bam Neely in the role of ringside companion. What this match did not lack was energy with the mix of the ECW top dogs and young hopefuls. The match did have a few lulls that mostly involved Big Show's uncharacteristic botching of standard steel step maintenance when he nearly rendered himself blind. But being a top tier performer he merely incorporated his obvious embarrassment into the match. It really gave the match a brutality that I don’t' believe was intended but indeed prepared the viewers for what was to come. CM Punk just truly gets lost in the mix. There are a few moments when he is apparent but is not ever truly a stand out in the match. Football player Shawn Merriman made a stronger impression. This staging was very nice. The suspension of the Singapore Canes from the top of each ring post was really quite enjoyable and added a nice level to what is usually a more flat styled match. The move content and match movement was well spaced. One instance moved naturally into the next. Something that is very hard to accomplish with such a range in styles, talent levels and personalities.

Winner: Big Show

Match Note: It was very classy of the WWE to let the match hinge with Big Show and Tommy Dreamer at the end. Naturally for pure physicality sake Dreamer doesn't beat Show, but it was nice to show the fan base the level of respect he still has within the organization.

Story Note: This one is easy; everyone wants to be the champ. The build of it was very well done and showed a level of story that ECW has lacked since they had to patch in Morrison in lieu of the Chris Benoit tragedy.

Performance Note: And in light of such performances I am still waiting for CM Punk to wow me.

MATCH LEVEL: 8
PERFORMANCE QUALITY: 9
STORY CONTENT: 7

OVERALL: 8

First Blood Match: JOHN CENA v. JBL

This is the only match of the night that was truly missing a few levels. With the ideal that John Cena is still actually recovering from an injury and JBL is lucky to even be still walking the ability of these two men to emote animosity was called to the forefront. Both men are masters at cultivating an air of honest naked aggression towards an opponent. Unfortunately when the actual move content and match pacing doesn't match those levels, the end result is very flat, calling out more flaws than not. As a spectator you find yourself very excited with the match and then you realize that this is a smoke and mirrors job. You are being conned and there is nothing in the content to back up what the performers are eluding to. By far this was the weakest match on the card, even in description. But they are two big names and any company would be hard-pressed not to find a way to include them. The staging was done well, but there really isn't bad staging for little content. The vocal performance was off the charts amazing with both men stating their hate and intentions loud enough to carry. But in the end it seems they would have been better served by downplaying the tone of the match so that it was consistent with the ring work.

Winner: John Cena

Story Note: This feud was begun at Backlash and this chapter of it does not suit the perpetual build that has taken place since. This story needs a spike, a new element to complicate matters or it will soon fall on its face because the match aspect has fallen well short of the intended peak. Until both performers can physically achieve what this story suggests it will always feel a little lacking.

MATCH LEVEL: 5
PERFORMANCE QUALITY: 9
STORY CONTENT: 7

OVERALL: 7


"I Quit" Match: BETH PHOENIX v. MELINA

Honestly there is not a female performer currently in the WWE that can actually compliment Melina to the level that she deserves. And in this case with Beth Phoenix it was no different. While all performance is a little false and overdone because that is the nature of it, the levels of plastic vacant space playing a role that Beth puts out are painful to watch on the other side of Melina. While strictly physical performance favors Beth Phoenix, Melina's overall performance lays her to waste. The match content was good; both women are quite highly rated among the most competent technical female wrestlers in the WWE. The lungs on Melina are both a blessing and a curse, but add to the overall reception of the match and progression of the ring work. Good pacing, not amazing, but still nothing to ignore. Staging was well done for the desired effect.

Winner: Beth Phoenix

Match Note: It would be nice if the WWE would occasionally film the female matches as if they were matches and not advertising for Playboy. It is this type of presentation that is causing the female contingent for WWE to lose validity.

Story Note: Hopefully the WWE will recognize the potential to carry this story on. This should ideally be the start of the feud and not truly a resolution.

MATCH LEVEL: 8
PERFORMANCE QUALITY: 8
STORY CONTENT: 9

OVERALL: 8.3

Stretcher Match: SHAWN MICHAELS v. BATISTA

With the way this has been built the performers would have had to be dead to not respond well. Batista has a physical presence that is hard to negotiate. Shawn Michaels has always suffered from the same issue. Together they have the energy potential reminiscent of Rock-Stone Cold. The performances were excellent. There were areas where Batista was a little over shadowed. But when your opponent is Shawn Michaels you can count yourself very, very successful if that only happens a few times. Chris Jericho has a couple of wonderful cameos. But that is also a very gifted performer. Only when the interaction was among the three did Batista truly come off as flat. Ring work was excellent, content was nice. They gave all of the standards and added some match specific work that blended relatively well with a foreign object as unruly as stretchers can be. The pacing was as near to perfect as you can get. Nothing felt flat dull or sluggish. All rest breaks were handled very well, with both performers emoting just enough to keep the viewer involved. The story was ever present in the ring. At no point in time did you forget what this was about, revenge. Out of all the matches, this is the one that melded performance, story and match the best.

Winner: Batista

Story Note: The introduction of Chris Jericho as a participant is very interesting, should prove to be the element that perpetuates this storyline and quite possibly vaults it in a new direction. This is now an open door.

Match Note: Was the best match of the night as far as all elements are concerned.

Performance Note: What makes Shawn Michaels great isn't just his ability to sell, or his performance. It's what he can pull out of his opponent. Batista demonstrated a higher level of 'selling' than he has in the past, his aggression levels were dead on and his vocal tendencies while low and unheard felt and looked natural. Well placed and very effective.

MATCH LEVEL: 10
PERFORMANCE QUALITY: 9
STORY CONTENT: 10

OVERALL: 9.6

WWE Championship - Last Man Standing Match: TRIPLE H v. RANDY ORTON

This match had such a strong start. The performers were in another place. This match had the best display of natural foreign object usage. All things were in play and it seemed like the right thing to do to pick it up and go after the opponent with it. This match was on the path to being a great one. Randy Orton is the best 'seller' in the game. Triple H is the best 'attacker' in the game. No one gets closer, better and more pinpoint than H. No one makes it look more devastating than Randy Orton. Their ring work together is impressive. They flow from one move to the next, execute switches, repositions and changes before the viewer even knows where they are going. The technical proficiency is so good; it's almost too good sometimes because you lose what this is about. But knowing this there are lulls for character building and moments for storyline acknowledgment. They teased appropriately with signature moves and made higher level technical moves more for momentum shifts. But this is a characteristic that is prevalent in Triple H matches. Great pace for the style of the performers, sometimes smooth and methodical, and then erratic and spontaneous. The match moved based on which performer had the momentum, as they all should.

Winner & Still WWE Champion: Triple H

Match Note: This match ended early due to Orton taking an over the top rope counter to the RKO badly and breaking his collarbone.

Story Note: Well this can go in one or two ways now. But the wisest thing to do is to handle this much in the way that Randy's original shoulder injury was handled with the weekly reports. Or he could drop off the face of the earth and have an Edgelike return at the end of pay per view when his animosity has been relatively forgotten.

MATCH LEVEL: 8
PERFORMANCE QUALITY: 10
STORY CONTENT: 8

OVERALL: 8.6


TLC Match for the vacant World Heavyweight title - If Taker loses, he must leave the WWE: THE UNDERTAKER v. EDGE

Great performers, great match. The mystic that surrounds the Undertaker is one of those tough to manage elements. Undertaker is the consummate performer, in just about every aspect. He has this untouchable presence, a pervasive character with the ringmanship of Shawn Michaels. Combine this with the technical proficiency of Edge and his dedication to character and performance and you almost have it all. This match moves faster than the other matches because these men gave themselves a lot of jobs to do while putting on a great show. Staging was insanely effective and plotted well. Edge can run a clinic on TLC management. Everything is being set-up and staged as if it were as natural as breathing. The moves and content are all high impact. There are no basic moves in this match, unless you count chair shots. Like machines they hit stunt, after stunt, after stunt with very little glitches or hitches along the way. At least not any that involved the two of them. Pacing was outstanding, this thing moved like a force of nature leaving carnage and destruction in its wake. There was lots of cracking wood, lots of painful ladder interactions and a sickening amount of chair shots. The story development during this match was almost completely ignored. There are a few moments when you think one of the performers remembers all that is on the line here but it starts to move like an automaton. The ring performance didn't have a soul, meaning there was no underlying context evident. The characters are very clear, but more because both men know their characters very well. Eventually the staggering amounts of carnage, the character acting and ridiculous pace saves the match as a whole making it a successful ending to the pay per view of hardcore.

Winner & NEW WORLD CHAMPION: Edge

Match Note: Out of all foreign objects, tables, ladders and chairs can be very unforgiving and wholly uncooperative. For a first time TLC matcher Undertaker was great. He and Edge took on a workload that has in the past been reserved for at least 3 tag teams equating at least 6 men and whoever else decides to get involved. La Familia was used well, but briefly for bigger stunts that needed more recovery time than a 2 man match could permit. But it was obvious from the reaction of the La Familia members to the 'low' impact TLC work that this is a match that hurts.

Performance Note: Some of the lack of emotion can be excused because of the level of work that needs to be done to insure that everyone can at least crawl away from the ring as Edge literally did. While there was a superficial level of the desire to hurt, the desire to not hurt being emoted by both men was very hard to ignore.

Story Note: Edge wins, Undertaker is gone. This was an expected outcome but the fruition is very anticlimactic. The ongoing battle to acquire the gold by any means necessary has lost weight, steam and validity. The matches between Taker and Edge are great matches, so they are always watchable it would be nice if there was a story surrounding it that could keep up. Although I must admit I am looking forward the ‘La Familia’ celebration that will surely ensue.

MATCH LEVEL: 10
PERFORMANCE QUALITY: 8
STORY CONTENT: 6

OVERALL: 8


ONE NIGHT STAND OVERVIEW

This pay per view did live up to its' name in many ways and only provided a few avenues for disappointment. For the most part the viewer got what they wanted and what they expected in most cases. The most interesting thing to pull away from this is that while good ring performance can save a match that is without a plausible story, okay ring performance can't be saved by the story aided by amazing vocal performance. In the case of Jeff Hardy and Umaga, the story is nearly nonexistent, but did not deter from the ability to enjoy the match. This is something that is performer based, because it takes a special performer to keep an audience interested when they have no reason to be. While with Cena and JBL, no amount of lip service or efficient story building made the match itself any better.

Because this is an entertainment field and it has its area of expertise that has to be seen to first. There are no award winning Broadway players that can't act and substitute with a great singing voice and amazing dance ability. No highly rated dancers, that can't dance but can act and sing. No Oscar winning screenwriters that can't craft dialogue but can set scenes and develop characters. No quarterbacks that can't throw, no soccer players that can't run. It will carry them only so far.

On average all storylines are rehashed. There are not new inventive plot lines and they don't cross groundbreaking planes. But not in just this arena, all of entertainment can say the same. In all performance venues they are a vehicle to enable the performer to find their way. Every role in every avenue of performance is created anew by the performer. Writers set guidelines and provide the opportunity to be great. Only the performer can see it realized.

At One Night Stand, the WWE cream of the crop were all placed on equal footing. Everyone had a grudge to settle, everyone had an objective to see to, everyone had an adversary to enact it with and everyone was given a destructive way to settle it. The performers and matches that stand out are just as they are. But the reasons they stand out has very little to do with story and everything to do with performance quality and ring work management. Think if you switched any two storylines, any set of hardcore circumstances, what would be the deciding factor in what was good, what was great and what was epic. The same thing as for anything else, what the performer brings to the table. Some people have the gift to enchant, others to annoy and some just to move, whether for ill or will.

I enjoyed this pay per view much more than I thought I would. I realized that with the lessened match load the fans were able to actually focus on what was being presented and not just walk away feeling full. There is something to be said for quality over quantity after all. Perhaps this pay per view should be the start of a trend.

OVERALL: 7.9