Bragging Rights 2009: Review

So before you ask the reason I am reviewing some random B ppv from 2009 was down to the fact that I was at my Grandma’s one evening a few weeks back, and wanted to watch a DVD in the evening before I went to bed. And among my options I found a WWE ppv that I HAD NOT seen (which is a rarity indeed). So I put it on, I looked at the card and as much as the ‘bragging rights’ Raw vs Smackdown bullshit kind of dampened me on the show, I looked at a show that had a 60 minute iron man match for the WWE title and a fatal four way for the world title including four of the biggest names in WWE in the past 15 or so years. It was certainly a show in hindsight that gave me PLENTY to talk about…

(Special shout out to my Uncle Scott, whose DVD I watched. Thanks!)

So as previously mentioned the theme of the show was Raw and Smackdown competing for the ‘Bragging Rights’ Trophy, we had Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler on commentary for Raw joined by Smackdown’s Todd Grisham (JR was ill), the pre-show video package was all about the huge 7 v 7 match and there was NO mention of either world championship match which I thought twas interesting, but the show is literally called ‘Bragging Rights’ so I kind of understood it. The show opened with lots of talk about the Bragging Rights trophy (this was referenced throughout the show A LOT) before we had our first match of the show…

United States Champion The Miz (Raw) v Intercontinental Champion John Morrison (Smackdown)

Raw’s United States Champion The Miz facing Smackdown’s Intercontinental Champion John Morrison. This was back when Miz was terrible, and Morrison as the babyface was over with the crowd… man… I miss him in WWE… this was really built as the 2 former friends, tag champions, and slammy award winners, as was mentioned during a really cringey pre-match video package. These two I recall had great chemistry as a team, but them two as opponents was less impressive. The key takeaways from the match for me was that Morrison was really good, and Miz was….. OK…. although Miz does sell well and works heel well to be fair to him. Morrison did hit an awesome looking standing shooting star press for a 2 count, the main spot I picked up from the Miz was an awful looking double axe handle on Morrison off the top rope… The pace in this match was kind of slow at times, although Morrison was really over with the crowd as the babyface, and commentary really put over strong how The Miz had improved in ring since he went to Raw… I mean… if you say so… at that point from what i saw in this match and from memory he wasn’t there yet. In 2018 Miz is fine and with an excellent opponent he can put on a 4-4 1/2 * match but in 2009 he was OK at best. The finish of the match saw Morrison get on the top rope ready for his Starship Pain (a type of moonsault) finisher, but Miz got up and pushed him off the top rope, Morrison fell to the floor, Miz pinned him, 1,2,3… and THAT WAS IT! A really pathetic finish that I hated so much and found so lackluster I deducted a whole * from it’s overall rating. Not the best show opener I’ve seen but it was an OK match (largely down to Morrison) with a terribly lame finish.

**

Next we had more promo for the big 7 on 7 later in the show… This segment saw Cody Rhodes & R Truth backstage going back and forth as both will be on opposing teams later. Cody was awesome even then and R Truth to be fair cut a decent promo on Cody too, Big Show then came in to support his Raw teammate Cody, and whilst he spoke softly it was effective and fine. Simple segment but it was good.

WWE Women’s Champion Michelle McCool, Beth Phoenix & Natalya (Smackdown) v WWE Diva’s Champion Melina, Kelly Kelly & Gail Kim (Raw)

From the moment Michelle McCool (yes that’s The Undertaker’s current wife) came out first followed by her Smackdown teammates it was clear who the heels and the babyfaces were, as Diva’s Champion Melina and then the unbelievably pretty yet distinctly average in-ring worker Kelly Kelly got huge pops from the crowd, as did GAIL KIM… yes that’s the same Gail Kim that was a SEVEN TIME TNA Knockouts Champion, TNA Hall of Famer and a woman widely regarded as the best female competitor in Impact Wrestling history. Now I believed Kim was in WWE for a hot second in between spells with Impact, but in fact she was in WWE from 2002-2004 and 2008-2011 although both spells particularly the later of which were not the most enjoyable creatively for Kim, which is a shame given how she was portrayed and performed in a company that was spiraling out of control creatively yet Kim continued to shine in TNA… How good she could’ve been if given the real chance in WWE… Shame. ANYWAY back to this match (as much as I’d rather not)… ALL 3 Smackdown women blind tagged each other as they took charge of the early part of the match, as the commentary team made it clear that if Smackdown lose this match then Raw will win the Bragging Rights Trophy, and with how much they’ve pushed the 7 v 7 it was pretty obvious that Smackdown were going to win this match then, so that immediately made my interest levels wane. My main takeaways from this match was that Gail Kim was really good, obviously… 2017 WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix had her Chyna-like ‘I’M REALLY STRONG’ gimmick on point, and Natalya actually seemed to look a lot better in-ring then that she does in 2018, a lot quicker on her feet too. Kelly Kelly sold a lot during this match as the 3 heels isolated her with frequent tags, Kelly did few moves herself and those she did do… yeah… moving on… It was clearly set up for her to get the hot tag and eventually she did to Melina and the action between the 6 women after whilst brief wasn’t too bad without being particularly memorable. Overall the 3 Smackdown women all looked good to OK in terms of in-ring, Melina was good, Gail Kim was good, Kelly Kelly wasn’t so. The finish saw Beth Phoenix get the win over Melina with a really cool looking finisher (Google tells me it was a ‘Glam Slam’).

** 1/2

Team Raw in the big 7 v 7 match later in the show were in the locker room for a segment. Team captains D-Generation X led a team-talk, they made fun of Jack Swagger, spoke to Mark Henry (both him and DX were really funny in this), Big Show and Kofi Kingston came across as big babyfaces too. My personal highlight here was DX referring to when Kofi used to be Jamaican (REMEMBER THAT?). Hornswoggle had a cameo too and overall this was a nice little bit. Despite that though bless Triple H for trying to convince fool us all into thinking this match matters at all in the long run.

The next match in the show was a small one…

World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker (C) v Batista v Rey Mysterio v CM Punk

Yes, you read that write. A four way between 4 of the most popular superstars of the last 15 years in WWE! The match was preceded by a really good video package voiced over by Taker (he was really being billed as the greatest of all time) as he spoke about his 3 challengers. Judging by this video I’d be astounded if Taker doesn’t win this. All 3 challengers were super over upon their entrance (even Punk as a heel), but the pop to great The Undertaker was mental! As an Undertaker mega-fan this was the later stages of my favourite incarnation of The Phenom. So I loved all of this, even despite the cringe-worthy commentary on Undertaker by ‘The King’ Jerry Lawler. Undertaker just looked great with that big,gold belt… those were the days. For some context Undertaker had beaten CM Punk in a submission match to retain the title on the Smackdown go-home show for this ppv, and he would launch Punk over the top rope in the early stages of this match, closely followed by Rey Mysterio hitting a West Coast Pop to Punk just after. It was a really action packed match, particularly at the start from all 4 men, but it was Undertaker that came off looking the strongest. This match was loads of fun to watch without being an excellent wrestling match, The wrestling was though pretty good and the ever-changing dynamics between the 4 men in the match flowed really well and there was always something going on. Big moves and spots a-plenty: Rey hit a 619 but ran into a Spinebuster by Batista, who in turn ran into a big move from Taker, 1,2 but then Punk would break up the pin attempt. Punk would go on to hit the GTS to Mysterio only for Batista to break up the pin, Undertaker locked in the Hell’s Gate on Batista but Punk again broke it up… pretty much at some point everyone came close to winning the world title. The finish went down when Punk was thrown outside by Batista, Rey was then thrown to the outside onto Punk, The Animal then turned around into a Tombstone Piledriver and The Undertaker pinned his former rival to retain the championship. This was a good match, although that shouldn’t really have been a surprise given who was in it, if only it was longer and it would’ve been a lot better. But nonetheless this was fine.

*** 1/2

That match was in the middle of this show… just let that sink in… So after Taker made his exit we go back to the ring where Josh Matthews (the 2009 Tom Phillips if you didn’t know, in 2018 he’s now lead commentator for Impact Wrestling) attempts to interview a crestfallen Rey Mysterio & Batista, the two are both tired but as friends appear to support and console one another. Rey puts over how hard they both tried and how close they both came to winning, Batista then takes the mic and initially appears to speak as a babyface, before quickly explaining how he’s tired of ‘his bestfriend [Rey] stabbing him in the back’ and then proceeds to attack Mysterio. With hindsight I kind of saw this coming as I know Batista went heel around that time and him and Rey have a fued, But as far as heel turns/betrayals/big heel attacks on small,helpless babyfaces go this was good and really well done. Batista came off as both an asshole and a monster, and yet you were still unsure as to his specific motives, so it really was a good set up for a match.

We were then shown a graphic on screen of the Team Raw v Team Smackdown combined weight and total championships won by each respective team ahead of the 7 v 7, followed by footage pre-recorded of fans outside the venue offering their predictions… and yet I still am not amped up for this match, and I still don’t feel it is a big deal.

‘Team Raw’ (Co-Captains ‘D-Generation X: Triple H & Shawn Michaels, Big Show, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry, Cody Rhodes and Kofi Kingston) v ‘Team Smackdown’ (Co-Captain Chris Jericho, Co-Captain Kane, Matt Hardy, Finlay, R-Truth, David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd)

DX came out first to a decent pop, followed by the rest of Team Raw. They were followed by Chris Jericho, and then Kane and then the rest of Team Smackdown. 5 v 5s haven’t been too bad down the years, the Men’s one from Survivor Series 2016 comes to mind as a decent one from recent memory. But 7 v 7? I sense a clusterfuck incoming… It was to me at least David Hart Smith (who in 2018 is occupying a decent spot in New Japan Pro Wrestling) and Tyson Kidd who looked particularly good in this match, and yet to the average WWE fan are probably the 2 least known/remembered if all the participants in this match. The biggest pop of the match unsurprisingly was for a hot tag to Triple H, although my personal highlight was Big Show hitting Kane with a Spear, which was one hell of a site to behold. One moment I didn’t like as much was Michael Cole on commentary during the chocs of the match describing the action as “Vintage Bragging Rights” … fyi this was the very first ‘Bragging Rights’ Pay Per View… ffs… The finish of what wasn’t as spectacular a match as the vast array and volume of participants in it may suggest saw Big Show of Raw (who was at the time Tag Team Champion with Smackdown’s Chris Jericho) decided to Chokeslam his Raw teammate Kofi Kingston from the top rope, and then turned around and hit the Knockout Punch to Raw Co-Captain Triple H before walking away from the ring. And amongst the confusion from pretty much everyone watching Chris Jericho crawled over for the cover to claim the win of the match and the apparently ‘illustrious’ Bragging Rights Trophy. To provide some context for this in future WWE TV Big Show would reveal that he helped Team Smackdown win in order to be granted a title shot against Undertaker, and also Jericho would to find himself in the same title match after beating Kane. At the upcoming Survivor Series Taker would win the triple threat after Show and Y2J turned on one another. They would later reconcile and re-embark on a feud with DX over the tag titles, they would go on to lose the series of matches and eventually Jericho would be forced to return to Smackdown thus marking the end of the Jeri-Show tag team. With regards to this match though my overall thoughts were as followed: in a match involving 14 people there was ONE FALL? It wasn’t elimination? Hmm… I also, despite not caring about it myself, WWE put sooooooooo much focus on this ppv being ‘Bragging Rights’ and all the focus was on the Raw v Smackdown element and particularly the 7 v 7… so why wasn’t this the main event match of the show? They clearly wanted to make the match seem as important as possible, yet they chose to sandwich it between to huge world title matches??? Anyway the match was… in one word? … Meh.

** 3/4

John Cena was shown backstage shortly before the main event of the show. And if you look at this next match on paper in 2009 it was probably as blockbuster a match as you could get. WWE really did their upmost to hype this one up, it was described between these two as “maybe the biggest feud in WWE ever” and the ‘final confrontation’ between the two (history would go on to show this would be about as far from the case as you could get, but hey that’s wrestling). The match itself came after an awesome video package that did a great job of summarising the entire history between these two, whilst really putting over the possibility of Cena losing and therefore having to leave Raw, which instantly made me think he was winning. Because… well, that’s just how WWE works!

Oh also before Orton came out we briefly saw Kofi Kingston and Cody Rhodes bickering backstage about Raw’s loss, this lead to Cody attacking his former teammate.

WWE Championship: Randy Orton (C) v John Cena in a 60 Minute, Anything Goes Iron Man Match. If John Cena loses he must leave Raw.

Randy Orton (who came in as the WWE Champion by the way) came out first, followed by Cena because… he’s John Cena… Commentary again as Orton made his way to the ring REALLY were going IN on ‘John Cena loses, he goes to Smackdown’, this is his last chance at Orton’s WWE title etc. etc. By the way this Randy Orton (shorter hair, full heel, asshole) was by a mile the best Randy Orton. HE WAS AWESOME. Cena came out second as I said, but not before Todd Grisham could say “The Igloo (the nickname given the the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh that the event was being held in) is gonna melt with this reaction [for Cena]” … for fuck sake Todd… sort yourself out! The match will be falls count anywhere too apparently so don’t expect a technical masterclass then. The hour long stipulation lent itself to the obligatory slow, basic start from both men, understandably in this instance. The first fall in the match came at just shy of the 5 minute mark with Cena getting Orton to tap out to the STF, although it should be noted that Orton tapped immediately after the hold was put on, so an interesting tactical decision there. We then had our first 30 second interval that there will be between each fall, which is the least these 2 deserve of they’re going to go for an hour! When the action resumed again there wasn’t too much going on and it was clear they were both pacing themselves for how long was ahead in the match, although the duelling ‘LET’S GO CENA, R-K-O’ chants will have given them the boost they may have needed with 50 minutes of their match still to go. Orton would claim the equalising fall after hitting the RKO as Cena bounced off the ropes in preparation for a 5 Knuckle Shuffle. 1-1. 50.20 left on the clock. Not long after the action restarted Orton hit Cena over the head with a tv monitor but would only get a 2 count nearfall, he would follow that up by hitting Cena again over the skull but this time with a microphone. And for good measure he hit John so hard that he bust him wide open to the extent that the clocked was stopped in order for officials to tend to him. To make things even worse for Cena he then had his head stomped onto steel steps, but still he would not fall behind in the match. Randy seemed to be not far though from taking the lead, and would then do his classic set up for the RKO, only for Cena to do his most signature of set ups for his big move too (3 shoulderblocks, the suplex, the 5 knuckle shuffle… yeah the same thing we’ve all seen hundreds of times over the years……) but in what was to their credit a great sequence; Cena went to hit Orton with the AA, but as he threw him over his shoulders Randy Orton caught John Cena with an RKO on the way down… both men fell to the ground and with both men’s shoulders down the ref counted the 3, and both men got a fall. 2-2, still tied so fairly inconsequential, but as a sequence I thought it was really well done. There at this point was just over 42 minutes still left. Very soon after this it would be John Cena that took a 3-2 lead following an AA from the 2nd rope, but then with around 40 minutes left on the clock Randy Orton’s teammates in Legacy in both Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase Jr would attack Cena during the 30 second interval before dragging their fallen leader and placing him over John Cena for the 1,2,3 to make it 3 falls each. Legacy would then make their retreat after another chair attack. The match after that descended into a real brawl, leading both men towards the stage area with Orton getting the better of it. The sadistic side of the WWE Champion Orton would then be on show for all to see as he discovered where the control panel was that dictated what blasts and explosions of the pyrotechnics that the superstars use during their entrances was located. He then constructed a pan where he would place Cena in the area where the pyro would usually explode, and with Cena laying helpless in harms way Orton ignored the pleas of the nearby technicians to take mercy on his opponent and then hit all the buttons in a fury at them not working immediately , and as a result a series of pyro-led explosions engulfed Cena, “Orton’s nuts” … Indeed Michael Cole he is! We approached the half way point in the match with Cena still lifeless, yet with the inevitable Cena comeback not too far away surely? In his furious state Orton would launch Cena into a lighting rig to eventually claim a 4-3 lead. For the first time it was Randy Orton who was ahead. Orton would follow this up by throwing steel steps at Cena’s head for a nearfall, hitting Cena on the back with a chair for another nearfall, and then as we all expected Cena would roll up Orton for the 3 to take the scores to 4 each. A furious Orton would then attack Cena during the supposed 30 second interval period, and then did his signature sit-out ddt but to the outside floor area before then rolling Cena into the ring for the pin, and Orton was back in front by 5 to 4. After this both the commentary team and the crowd sounded lifeless, really selling that the demonic and sadistic Orton was keeping his title, and the heroic efforts and hopes of John Cena were fading… we shall see… maybe the crowd were tired or bored, maybe they were just ‘selling’ the heel being on top I wasn’t sure… Orton hit Cena with a series of hard punches but Cena still had enough to kick out at 2, Cena then began a comeback but Orton was able to get away. He then took a quick glance at the score on the titantron, and noting he was ahead he decided to make the most out of the ‘falls count anywhere’ stipulation by running away meaning Cena had to groggily chase after him. But once Cena caught up with him Orton would eventually go on the attack commentary began suggesting he would now take his time and ‘play defence’ now… that’ll be fun then… An angry John Cena marches Orton to him in the ring, but then Orton would go on the attack… a draping ddt from Orton would be soon followed by an AA attempt by Cena but Orton would again escape and the two men made their way into the crowd. Cena would chase his opponent into the stands as Randy tried to crawl away, as Cena would launch Randy over the barricade for a nearfall that followed. With both men back at ringside now we had 14 minutes left on the clock, Cena threw Orton into steel steps for a 2 count, he then threw Orton through the barricade at the timekeepers area, with 12 left on the clock Cena then pulled over some steel steps and placed them at the bottom of an announce table, he hit Orton over the head with the steps, and then he lifted Randy up in the fireman’s carry position, walked over and onto the steps, and then John Cena hit Orton with the Attitude Adjustment through the announce table (to which the crowd popped LOUD)… 123…. Cena 5 Orton 5! 9 Minutes to go. Cena went for an immediate 2nd cover but couldn’t get a 3, he did though get a table from underneath the ring and then set it up. John Cena then carried the dead-weight of Orton into the ring and placed him onto the table, and then took the unusual move of going to the top rope, the idea was that he’d leg drop Randy through the table but obviously Cena’s rare trip to the top ropes would be un-productive as Orton moved off the table and Cena crashed and burned (commentary kind of gave this spot away describing it as an “unnecessary risk” before Cena even made the jump, so it was even more obvious that he wasn’t going to hit it). With 5 minutes to go Orton would get another RKO, but at this point the ref was down having took a bump mid brawl, and the other ref ran down but Cena kicked out before the 3 could be counted. Orton in his anger attacked the replacement referee, and with only 2 minutes left Orton wanted to well and truly end Cena with his classic Punt Kick, but Cena had the state of mind to move out the way and eventually get Orton in the STF submission. Both the crowd and commentary team were going absolutely ballistic as the seconds ticked down. and with a matter of seconds left of the match Orton tapped out! John Cena got the win after a gruelling match and won the WWE Championship once again. As long matches go this certainly wasn’t a bad match. Nonetheless as much as I know it’s unfair to compare matches from different decades and ones that are so many years apart, in WWE I can recall watching 2 other 60 minute Iron Man Matches; HBK vs Bret and Triple H v Rock. This match wasn’t as good as either of those, but like I said it was not a bad match in anyway.

*** 3/4

So overall then Bragging Rights 2009 as a show I watched completely by chance one evening was not the best show I’ve seen but I did have plenty of fun watching it. Maybe it was the nostalgic aspects of seeing a show that’s nearly 10 years old, and the interesting points that can be made regarding where the people on the show are at in their wrestling careers in 2018. But as a B ppv it was a really stacked show, and with that in mind it was pretty good, especially when you see some of the offerings from WWE in recent months… I think I’ll do some more random ppv reviews again as reviewing a show from the past I haven’t seen in full before was a lot of fun. And at the end of the day this is why I do my blog, to talk rubbish about my favourite thing, and I’ll do that as much as I have fun with it, and I’ll stop or do less when I don’t have fun. But this review? This was indeed FUN!

Josh.

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