December 26, 2009
The 100 Greatest WWE Matches of the Decade: 2007
Edge vs. Shawn Michaels – Street Fight (Raw, 1/22/07)
After Triple H had torn his quad (2001 was the left, this time it was the right leg) two weeks before this match at New Year’s Revolution in a tag match with Shawn Michaels against Randy Orton and Edge, Shawn Michaels was left to defend DX against the World Tag Team Champions Rated RKO. Both men came to the fight in t-shirt jeans – old school-style. Immediately, I’m interested. Edge stops an early attack from Shawn with a trash can lid to the face when he tries a pescado to reopen an old wound. After the commercial break, Edge SUPERPLEXES a ladder onto Shawn! Take that, Jerry Sags. Edge sets up a ladder scaffold on the ring steps, but Shawn counters the powerbomb and uses the chain against Edge to open him up. Edge stops a Flying Elbow on the ladder scaffold, but Shawn BULLDOGS him on the ladder instead. Shawn gets the Flying Elbow after all, but Edge counters SCM with a botched electric chair drop. DANGEROUSSSSSS. Even so, Shawn avoids the SPEAR and goes for a Conchairto when Randy Orton shows up behind him and turns him around for an RKO. Boy, that’s an awesome visual. Plus seeing both men busted open with Orton coming in with his face all bruised – it’s just rugged. That gives Edge the win. Such a great street fight with lots of risks. Outside of the ladder match, it’s pretty much Edge’s specialty.
WWE Champion John Cena vs. Umaga – Last Man Standing Match (Royal Rumble 2007)
If you STILL weren’t convinced that Cena’s a tough dude, this match will. And if you still don’t think he’s somebody to notice, well then you’re just fooling yourself. Umaga works the ribs most of the match and leaves Cena hurting, but he refuses to quit. Cena makes his comeback with his signature moves and one-ups the impact by landing them all on the ring steps. Throwback, Protobomb, Five Knuckle Shuffle – everything. Just when he thinks he’s got Umaga defeated, Cena’s head gets caught between Umaga and the ring steps! INSANITY. Let’s not discount Umaga for being awesome. With Cena laid out on the ECW announce table, Umaga runs over the Raw and Smackdown tables to splash Cena, but Cena moves and inevitably Umaga wipes out the ECW announce table. Back inside, the entire top rope is pulled apart thanks to Armando Alejandro Estrada. Cena winds up benefiting as he chokes out Umaga and locks in the STFU for the win. One of the first times the STFU was taken seriously in my book.
The Rumble Match - (Royal Rumble 2007)
An above average Rumble match that in my view was NEVER boring. The big men (Kane, Great Khali) dominated and of course there’s Viscera who didn’t really do anything except require a bunch of people to eliminate him. All of this came down to HBK and Undertaker after Shawn managed to eliminate a disorganized Rated RKO all by himself. Despite being involved in several Royal Rumble matches, Undertaker had never came out the winner. This was his first opportunity at closing out a Rumble match since he battled Brock Lesnar in 2003. HBK and Taker went through their typically great back and forth counters before the Undertaker ducked a superkick and flipped Shawn out of the ring. Just an amazing final ten minutes of wrestling between these two that set the pace for their WrestleMania 25 match. With the crowd that hooked, they were definitely doing something right.
Mr. Kennedy vs. Edge vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy vs. King Booker vs. CM Punk vs. Finlay vs. Randy Orton – ‘Money in the Bank’ Match (WrestleMania 23)
Finlay starts the match off with a bang as everybody fights to the floor except him. He dives off the top onto all seven men. Booker pulls out a Hornswoggle ladder from underneath the ring. TELL ME HE DIDN’T JUST SEE THAT. Edge sets up the ladder scaffold, which will eventually lead him closer to his demise. Meanwhile, the Hardyz break up a SPINAROONIE by jumping King Booker with ladders. Eventually, Edge starts spearing everybody – except CM Punk. He goes all Terry Funk with the ladder, but takes a SPEAR anyway that knocks down Orton and Finlay. Orton dumps Edge off a 20-foot ladder to the floor. Jeff wipes out Randy with a front suplex while Matt sets Edge up on the ladder scaffold. Oh man, here comes Jeff as he flies off the 20 foot ladder and LEGDROPS EDGE THROUGH THE LADDER! I bet he immediately regrets that decision. Well, now we’re down to six people. Both men end up doing stretcher jobs. Two ladders are set up to do moves off of for a little bit. Booker about reaches the briefcase when Matt threatens to drop Sharmell with the Twist of Fate. WHOA. So Booker comes down and takes the Twist of Fate. HA! Finlay comes over and gives Matt the CELTIC CROSS ON A LADDER! That’s pretty nasty. Hornswoggle comes out to climb the ladder for his daddy when Kennedy stops him and delivers a GREEN BAY PLUNGE TO THE MAT BELOWWWWW! Pretty awesome. It comes down to Punk vs. Kennedy on the ladder. Punk kicks him off, but Kennedy jabs him in the face with a ladder and makes the easy climb up to the briefcase for the win. I was really hoping Kennedy would clear the ring and treat the briefcase like they do for his entrance by lowering it down to him as though it were the mic, but that didn’t actually happen. As history tells the story, the injury prone Mr. Kennedy (…KENNEDY) would prevent himself from actually cashing in the briefcase when he tore his right tricep muscle in May.
World Heavyweight Champion Batista vs. The Undertaker – (WrestleMania 23)
I was expecting the worst from these two because I’ve always thought that Taker was only as good as his opponent, and the way Batista had been performing since his return in the summer of 2006, I wasn’t really looking forward to this one. They definitely surprised me though. Batista did his best work since ohh, when he beat hHh at Vengeance 2005, and Taker had his best match since his stuff with Angle back in early ‘06. Great stuff and I really hope they don’t ever end Taker’s win streak and that no one actually surpasses it when he finally does retire. Just allow the legend to remain a legend, and ruining it to put over someone would’ve just been the absolute wrong move.
John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels – (Raw, 4/23/07)
Some people HATED the execution of the psychology in the Cena/HBK WrestleMania main event. Shawn Michaels and I were two of those people. Cena hardly even sold the leg during the match like he should have and this match was Cena’s chance to make up for the ‘mistake’. Perhaps the only even minor mistake was that it was a non-title match — it was the first time we had a match on free TV go near an hour’s length that wasn’t a 60 minute ironman match in close to twenty years. Just an unbelievable match with both men trying to outdo the other with great WRESTLING and the easiest pick for the WWE match of the year.
WWE Champion John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Edge vs. Randy Orton – Fatal Four Way Match (Backlash 2007)
Fresh off Cena’s loss to Shawn Michaels in the UK, now he has to defend the WWE title in a fatal four way. This was one of the most exciting uses of the fatal four way concept that I have ever seen executed in WWE. You have the Rated RKO team working together, but you know they will have to explode on each other at some point. Edge was the one to do the dirty deed with the chair on Orton. Back in the ring, you have failed finishers after failed finishers that kept you on the edge of your seat all the way to the end. When you did see somebody hit their finish like for example with Cena being consumed with hitting Edge with the FU, Orton comes out of nowhere and drops HBK with the RKO almost getting the win. What ended up happening for the finish was Cena shoving Orton off into the Spear from his partner Edge, but then turning around and eating Sweet Chin Music from HBK and falling on top of Orton for the win. This way, 1) nobody looks weak by taking the fall, 2) it has the appearance of realism, and 3) it gives the fatal four way concept that a huge shot of the ‘anything can happen’ aspect. I had decided to stop watching WWE religiously after 2006, but I came back for WrestleMania and heard great things about Backlash that had me thinking the summer of 2007 wasn’t going to be so bad. For the most part, the trend ended here and we were back to the abysmal normal with Judgment Day, but Backlash 2007 was overall a great PPV.
World Heavyweight Champion Edge vs. Chris Benoit – (Smackdown, 6/8/07)
After his progressively intriguing series of matches over the US title with MVP, Benoit had this little gem which I consider the final great televised match three weeks before the biggest tragedy ever to happen to wrestling. Just your typical intense Benoit encounter. He owns Edge for the majority of the match – hitting the Three Amigos (which watching it now makes me feel somewhat sad for Chris knowing he’s missing his friend) followed by the Hat Trick of Germans to lead into the Swandive Headbutt for a nearfall. With Edge in a main event program against Batista, they didn’t want to make Benoit appear too strong however. Benoit applied the Crippler Crossface, but missed a corner charge and ate a Spear before getting his shoulders pinned for the 1-2-3. Okay, so I never said I wasn’t a bit bias creating this list.
WWE Champion Triple H vs. Randy Orton – Last Man Standing Match (No Mercy 2007)
So on a night where Randy Orton was awarded the WWE title after John Cena tore his chest muscle off the bone prior to the show, Triple H insults Vince McMahon into giving him a WWE title shot against Orton where he wins the the belt in an absolutely RIDICULOUS turn of events. Then, Triple H successfully defends the WWE title over Umaga and at Vince’s order has to make even more history by facing Randy Orton AGAIN for the WWE title in a Last Man Standing match – ALL ON THE SAME SHOW! While the booking would have anybody confused, it turned out okay because they used the beatings Umaga dished out on Triple H earlier in the evening into the context of the match. If you’re not a Triple H fan, I hope you didn’t buy this PPV. Not counting the backstage segments he was involved in, he wrestled over 35 minutes in three different matches at No Mercy 2007. Anyways, a back suplex on the guardrail from Orton to HHH doesn’t get the job done. He moves on to CHOKING Triple H with a cable. He still can’t keep HHH down for the ten count. He tries an RKO on the announce table, but HHH shoves him off onto the opposite table. That was pretty sweet. Triple H follows up with a AA spinebuster and tosses the stairs into Orton’s face. Orton gets up and blocks a chairshot with a kick to HHH’s injured ribs. DDT on the chair won’t keep HHH down. RKO ON THE CHAIR? A busted open Triple H still gets up and tells Orton to suck it. This was when Orton’s deadly kick to the head was fresh. He had already took out legends Shawn Michaels and Dusty Rhodes, but HHH refused to suffer the same fate. Orton temporarily stops HHH with a catapult into the ringpost, but Triple H stops Orton while he’s got the ring steps up in the air and slams a chair down on the back of Orton’s head while he’s stuck down in the grooves of the steps. You just have to see it to know what I’m talking about. It at least looks like a gruesome spot although there’s got to be some Houdini-ness to it. Triple H tries the Pedigree on the table that’s still standing, but Orton leaps up out of nowhere and hits the RKO ON THE TABLE! Triple H just can’t make it back to his feet in time after that to give Orton back the WWE title. Match reminded me of the best stuff we saw from Triple H against Chris Jericho in 2000, but in the opposite role.
WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels – (Survivor Series 2007)
Randy Orton punted Shawn Michaels out of action back in May (of course HBK always seems to want the summer off) and now he’s BACK for revenge. Except in this match, Shawn can’t use Sweet Chin Music or he’ll be disqualified. If Orton gets disqualified, he loses the WWE title. This made for an AWESOME example of ring psychology because Shawn had to rely on other high impact moves to defeat Orton. On the other hand, Orton didn’t know what to watch out for because with HBK, you’re always trained to just look for the superkick. Some people take offence to the fact that Shawn used the Crippler Crossface in this match only five months after the Benoit tragedy. I choose to take the perspective that this was a tribute for a man who one day snapped over his pent up personal issues and not dwell on whether or not HBK was trying to be tongue-in-cheek or anything like that. As Shawn catches himself trying Sweet Chin Music, Orton seizes the moment and drills HBK with the RKO for the win. If you love excellent ring psychology, don’t overlook this seemingly forgotten Survivor Series classic.
Oh man, only TWO more years to go! Come back next week for the year that was 2008!