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Mark Henry

Mark Henry

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Here's your in-depth WWE "The Bash" Review!�MATCH #1: ECW Championship -- Scramble Match: Tommy Dreamer (C) v.

Christian v.

Jack Swagger v.

Mark Henry v.

FinlayI'm not really one who gets too into the big WWE multi-man main events.

If its four or less, they usually subscribe to the same old formula and more often than not, no one can really get any kind of real story or psychology worked in.

One man is in, the other two duke it out...

rinse, wash, repeat.�Scramble matches and anything with four or more entrants usually gets congested, and we certainly see that popping up here.

Finlay gets caught in the way of the Henry military press to the floor, Dreamer literally holds back on about five spots which were hopelessly choreographed, and Finlay got lost in a roll up sequence.

So the problems that usually plague these matches certainly popped up here, but still, as is also per the usual, this ended up being a lot of fun.Probably the best thing about this match was that it was built around Mark Henry, who for all intents and purposes, is perhaps the most improved big man in the WWE not named the Big Show in the past three years.

He was an un-coordinated mess for the lion's share of his WWE tenure, but as is the case with most big men, took a lot of time to develop and once he finally came around, he came around in a big way.

In fact this was perhaps the first time he was far and away the best wrestler in the match, and it was a match involving Christian and Finlay, who are as automatic as they come.

He was great on the big spots, literally tossing Christian and Swagger through the air on the otherwise run of the mill power bomb/super plex sequence, absolutely smooshed Tommy Dreamer with a world's strongest slam, and also decimated Christian and Swagger on the outside, showing his dramatic power advantage.

Everyone sold for Henry as well, and rather than relying on dopey and far-fetched double team suplexes and slams, were content to bounce off Henry as if he were a big rock.

That's the way a super heavyweight should be looked.

Despite the improvement in Henry, the reactions haven't been here, but they most certainly were there tonight, and overall it was a feather in the cap for a guy whose earned it.�The finish came off as awfully contrived and ditsy, although its really the only way you can keep the belt on Dreamer at this point.

Despite that, he's not really over with the crowd all that much, and I don't see this run lasting too much longer.

Tonight was a good capper for a big multi-man defense.

Both Henry and Swagger look like strong suiters to his title, so he's in a good enough spot to drop the belt.

**1/2�MATCH #2: Title v.

Mask, Intercontinental Championship: Rey Mysterio v.

Chris Jericho (C)Wow.

Just wow.�These two have always had good chemistry together, dating all the way back to their big feud in 1997, where Jericho succeeded in unmasking Rey Mysterio back in their old WCW days.

While they had good chemistry then, Jericho was a very mat-based Cruiser-weight and Rey had really yet to ground much of his offense.

Since coming to the WWE, Mysterio has significantly changed up his offensive approach and as a result, is a far more capable and well-rounded wrestler, perhaps the best in the world from a work-rate point of view.

One could only figure that the good chemistry that already existed would continue on here, especially with the new-look Mysterio.

Boy, did it ever.�Their first two matches were pretty outstanding, but this one was on a whole new level.

Now I might come off as slightly hypocritical here, largely because I wasn't a fan at all of the finishing stretch in the Undertaker-Shawn Michaels Wrestlemania 25 match that featured a TON of kick outs, especially from huge signature spots.

I thought it over-cooked the crowd a bit, considering it was the fourth or fifth match of the night and really, there wasn't much back story to those big kick outs.

They were done 'just because', and while that's not all bad by any stretch of the imagination, it almost fell into the typical big-match WWE formula.

In and of itself, it was a sensational match, minor quips on my part, but none the less, I wasn't a big fan of them.Here, they utilized a ton of signature kick out spots, but this match had significant back story to all of them, including matches and spots they called in their 1997 run together.

Wrestling is very much a non-verbal form of theater and really the only way they have to effectively communicate and tell stories is by using moves to script a sort of interpretive dance.

Here, by calling back and building on past spots, nearly all the major near falls had impact and popped the crowd at all the right times, including the smooth counters into the walls of Jericho, the springboard moonsault and the West Coast Pop spots.

The ending was an excellent build on the past matches, as Jericho has successfully snatched Mysterio's mask on a few occasions, yet here, Rey, thinking ahead, donned two masks, as Jericho got one, and didn't realize Mysterio had another one on.

The use of facial expressions to create urgency, drama and frustration, really came together well, and with practically zero botches, this was about as flawless a junior match as you're going to get in 2009.

This was as good as anything New Japan flushed out in the mid-90's and is perhaps the crowning achievement of juniors wrestling of this century.

I dont' want to get too ahead of myself, as that covers a LOT of ground, but this was easily as good if not better than just about anything.

Time will tell, but for now, its going to be a real challenge to knock this off my Match of the Year list, and it may be my #1.

****1/2�MATCH #3: No Count out, No DQ : Dolph Ziggler v.

The Great KhaliKhali is a guy who I think gets a horrible knock.

Sure, this guy isn't a super-worker, but he's really not close to as bad as people make him out to be.

Its just rare folks work matches AT Khali, as they're usually affairs that involve totally unrealistic spots for him, or sections of matches that he's just not going to look good doing.

He's best when they plant him in the middle of the ring, bounce off him, let him run through a few chop and strike spots (he's got amazing flexibility for being 7'2) and mix in some stooging and or figuring out.John Cena probably had the most successful go with Khali in the summer of 2007, essentially building matches around bouncing off of Khali, letting him cut off simple come backs and attempting big lifts.

Dolph Ziggler is no John Cena, but he can bounce and tumble and there's plenty of that here.

They keep any silly spots to a complete minimum and Ziggler worked a surprisingly OK match here, just tumbling off of Khali and Ziggler getting progressively steamed at his complete inability to get any momentum going.

The match was blown with the Kane run-in, which felt kind of random, but at least getting Kane back on the main Smackdown roster as a heel rounds that fourth main event spot out well enough.

Kane and Khali have gone at it more times than I can count, but if you're going to make an impact, you go after the biggest guy, so on its face it makes enough sense.

Ziggler however, moves on to what is likely a decent push in the mid card.

Decent match, nothing more, nothing less.

**�MATCH #4: WWE Unified Tag Team Championship: Edge & Chris Jericho �v.

The Colons (C) �v.

Cody Rhodes & Ted DibiaseThis was originally scheduled to be just between the Colons and the Legacy, but Edge and Jericho were added to this last minute and wouldn't ya know, we've got an impromptu triple threat match.�The match itself was perfectly fine.

The two originally slated teams do a good job of trying to keep the match between the two of them, and consistently fend off any assaults by the 'invaders' so to speak.

Dibiase especially looked right ticked off that the Smackdown major heels crashed the party, and kept running over, laying in shots, while seemingly always being distracted.

While the Rhodes/Dibiase tandem looked good, the addition of Jericho and Edge to the match certainly provided ample distraction and thus they never could get the ball rolling.

Edge and Jericho played great antagonists here and pounce when the time is right and steal the titles and the victory after a fun sequence of set-stunts from the Colons and Legacy.�I love the booking here putting these titles on Jericho and Edge.

For one, the tag belts are sort of a ticket around the world so to speak in the sense that they aren't exclusive to one brand and the champions can hop around and defend the belts from roster to roster.

Inevitably every month, some bigger main event stars are left out to pasture with nothing to do, and this can give them something to chase.

Jericho especially, but Edge as well, have a lot of heat and their increased visibility and presence is only a good thing, especially on Smackdown and ECW, which are easily the #2 and #3 brands in the company.

To boot, while Jericho still has plenty of heat, Edge is getting to the end of the line so to speak in terms of being a heel, and its a ready-made angle to break the two up and turn one or the other down the line depending on the need they might have.

While some might be rolling their eyes at first, thinking 'this is just another slapped together team', this has lots more flexibility and upside to it than past slapped-together teams have had in the past, especially with the benefit of being more or less upwardly mobile.

The days of tag team 'divisions' are long gone, but tag team wrestling can still be a hugely useful tool in Pro Wrestling that is grossly under-utilized today.

Having two top stars holding those belts does a lot not only for their importance and credibility, but it also provides a lot of exposure and some places for younger talent who aren't as fully developed yet to be able to shine in a safe environment.�Now as much as I like the booking, I wouldn't use it to rate the match itself, which was pretty acceptable, fun stuff.

But the booking does rule.

**1/2MATCH #5: WWE Women's Championship: Melina (C) v.

Michelle McCoolThe WWE women's division is an odd duck of sorts, as there seems to be enough raw talent there, but it rarely manifests itself in the ring, as the booking hasn't been as hot as it could be.

Case in point is Michelle McCool, who while she LOOKS good enough in the ring, has a nasty tendency to meander and wander from what she's doing.

She's recently turned heel, but has yet to really get comfortable with the role.Melina on the other hand, while not overly flashy, has been someone whose gone from a hot mess, to one of the more dependable workers on the Divas roster.

For years she worked an old-school, Sensational Sherri like heel that relied on nastiness, eye rakes and audible insanity to really get her character over.

They hot-shotted her baby face turn last year, but instead of becoming more move-oriented, she translated her strengths as a heel (her intensity, toughness) into strengths as a baby face and became more of a stick-to-it scrapper.

That made her an excellent foil to Beth Phoenix, and the two feuded over the title for the better part of two months.

With Hispanic viewership waning on the Smackdown brand, Melina was drafted over to help fill the void and carry a significantly weaker roster or female wrestlers.�Here, the two keep to a good pace, and Melina lays out a very basic, well orchestrated leg injury for McCool to work over for most of the match.

Melina holds things together with her leg selling, as it eventually effects her comebacks.

McCool's leg work is completely fine here and the end result was a match that was significantly better than it was likely thought to have been heading in.

They play off some well-done interference from McCool's second, Alicia Fox, and come up with a �sound enough dirty finish that puts the belt on McCool while keeping Melina strong.

**1/4MATCH #6: World Heavyweight Championship: CM Punk (C) v.

Jeff HardyFor anyone that missed it, CM Punk's big heel run in Ring of Honor back in 2004 was what put him on the Pro Wrestling map.

It was after his signing with the WWE and subsequent shock-ROH World Championship run and heel turn that cemented him as one of the top young stars on the continent, but also showed how well he could potentially succeed in that role on the big stage.�Punker was never a guy who relied on the usual heel shenanigans to get over.

He was awash in ambiguity, making tongue in cheek statements, never showing his cards, and showing subtle comments that would throw people for a loop.

Punk established himself with a strong ECW run in 2006 and 2007 before being shipped to Raw and winning the World Title belt last year from Edge the night following Night of Champions.

It wasn't all that much of a surprise.

The WWE usually likes to shoot their promising prospects up the card, work them against established talent before shooting them back down to the mid card to cut their teeth and work their way into a more permanent main event spot.

Being a main event guy isn't JUST working with the guys at your level, but also those beneath it, and that's what Punk more or less had to prove.

He had a fairly tepid reign, before dropping it in September without so much as losing it, getting assaulted by the Legacy back stage before his big scramble match at Unforgiven and thus being unable to defend the title due to injury.�Punk was shot back down the card and after chasing and winning the Intercontinental Championship, was thrown back up the ranks by being drafted to Smackdown and winning the Money in the Bank contract at Wrestlemania 25 for the second straight year.

After Jeff Hardy defeated Edge in a Ladder Match at last month's Extreme Rules pay per view, Punk cashed in his contract after the match, and defeated the newly crowned Hardy, and winning his belt, sparking the beginning of his second reign as the World Heavyweight Champion.Things are different now though, as compared to a year ago.

With Smackdown being mired in a bad Television deal with My Network TV, ratings have plummeted and due to the station's status as a re-run dumping ground, won't likely be coming up anytime soon.

What was viewed initially as a terrible situation is now being looked upon as an opportunity for the WWE.

An opportunity to create new stars with relatively low to no risk.�CM Punk is clearly the top star of the 'newer' batch of mid carders and a championship run on this brand brings with it lots of opportunity for Punk to cement himself as a bona-fide main eventer.

Ratings aren't a factor, so the WWE is pretty much free to experiment with him and showed that confidence by putting the title on him last month and by moving most of the major stars over to the Raw brand.

Punk has a whole host of new, fresh challengers, as well as some old rivals, including Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho looming.

First, he needed to finish business with Jeff Hardy.Hardy has been a bit of a different story.

He came into the WWE and was wildly popular as a member of the Hardy Boyz tag team in the early part of the decade, but struggled with his singles pushes, not so much because of his ability (although it did play a minor role) but rather his out of the ring issues, including not showing up to shows and a looming drug dependence.

After coming too and from the company several times, Hardy came back for good in 2006, and has since shot up the card and become one of the most, if not THE most, popular baby face in the company.

He hit an all-time high in terms of popularity in 2007, but failed a Wellness Test, and though booked to win the Money in the Bank contract at Wrestlemania 24, was suspended through the show and put on the sidelines.

When he came back, he quickly moved up the ranks, yet his explosion came at an awkward time however, as he began entering the title picture last fall, working a brief program with Triple H before Edge was thrown into the mix last minute.

The company made the decision to put the title on him at the Armageddon show last December, but his reign only lasted a month before losing the belt back to Edge as the company felt he wasn't a big enough draw to headline Wrestlemania 25 in addition to wanting to use his popularity to elevate a new heel, which coincidentally, ended up being his brother, Matt.�The two brothers struggled through and awkward program in the early part of this year, which included some not-so-great matches at Wrestlemania and Backlash, and Jeff's popularity and momentum seemed zapped entirely.

Once the draft settled, Hardy found himself plunged back into a feud with the man whom he both lost and won the WWE title this past winter, Edge.

Then contract issues arose, as Hardy expressed an interest in taking some time off, thus eliminating any real prospects of him holding the title.

Of course the WWE offered a big contract, but Hardy turned them down, and the decision was made to accelerate the CM Punk push and work a feud where Hardy will inevitably come up short against Punk before taking his big break.Punk won the title in rather controversial fashion, and his motives were repeatedly questioned by Hardy on Smackdown Television.

Punk remained coy as the crowd slowly turned against him.

While they've yet to go full-blown heel with Punk, they've made it clear that's their intentions, and accelerated that with this match.Punk worked the side headlock well early on, keeping Hardy grounded.

Surprisingly, they almost adopted the same formula used in the Hardy/Umaga matches last year, as Punk used a head lock to keep Hardy grounded, and his strikes to somewhat subdue Hardy when he broke loose.

Hardy has a reputation for being lazy occasionally, but wasn't here, and showed all the intensity and vigor he did in his title matches last year, and by the time they got around to their bigger spots, the crowd certainly reacted.

Once the match got a little out of hand, Punk began getting more and more desperate, pulling out bigger and quicker combinations as the two escalated the sense of urgency well.

The finish was worked brilliantly, with Punk using the old "Ric Flair foot under the ropes" as the referee counted to three.

The match was re-started, and Punk caught a heel kick to the eye, and feigned injury.

As the referee checked on him, Punk kicked the referee in the back and caused the DQ, to which Hardy exploded and chased Punk from the ring.

Again, revealing, but not too revealing.

This won't win any awards, but it was a well worked contest with some well-defined back story to boot.

**3/4MATCH #7: John Cena v.

The MizOf all the matches on the card, this was perhaps the one I was looking forward to the most, as this is usually the kind of match Cena shines in.�Most of the time, Cena works an odd mix of Bret Hart structure, with a Jerry Lawler move set, molded into a Dusty Rhodes/Tommy Rich like persona, that while strange, works beautifully.

He usually works straight-forward, baby face comeback matches, but like Hart, builds his comeback cut offs around his opponents signature stuff.

Sure, its formulaic, but it also works really, really well.

While he's used this formula effectively over the years, especially against big main event stars like Triple H and Shawn Michaels, its been when he faces generational contemporaries that he has the real, stand out performances.�Cena's an excellent bully, but a nice bully.

Its weird.

He has a lot of that Jumbo Tsuruta charisma and he always looks best being surprised by a lesser opponents offense, or content to impose his will in a 'some kids never learn' way.

The Miz had been calling Cena out for weeks, and has gained a lot of momentum doing so.

After about two months of call-outs and 'wins' for the Miz, the two were put in a pay per view match, and its an opportunity for Miz to showcase what he can do, while also serving as a decent launching pad toward getting Cena back into the world title picture.�The opening of the match was great, with Miz doggedly going after Cena, only for the company ace to easily repel his opponent's offense.

Miz takes off and gains an advantage with a snap mare, and gets in some pretty good looking offense in on Cena's neck that pays off, especially after Cena's no-selling and smirking in the beginning.

Cena's cut off point is significant and strong willed, and he easily puts Miz away with a series of big moves.

Miz gets a few cut off spots with the usual heel shenanigans, but for the most part, this comes off as more of a glorified squash.Now that's not to say its a bad thing.

The Miz is a mid carder working in his first major program, so a win at this point doesn't really do anyone any favors.

He got plenty of air time, got over, and can now sharpen his craft in the mid card.

Still, however, this came off as disappointing largely because we didn't get enough bully Cena.

This reminded me a TON of Cena's Wrestlemania 21 title match with JBL, where there was little actively bad about the match, other than the fact that it just kind of ends as it seems like its getting going.

They could have given Miz some more counters and a bigger comeback cut off spot, and maybe even some near falls or cheap flash pin attempts, but they stayed away from that, too.

Again, what we GOT was good, but we didn't get enough of it to really feel like anyone was getting anywhere as the bookers seemed too intent on making Cena look better and not giving a little more to Miz.

No one's hurt, no one comes out looking worse, but the Miz COULD have come away looking BETTER.

Still, perfectly fine, but underwhelming given the strong build.

**1/4�MATCH #8: WWE Championship, Three Stages of Hell: Randy Orton (C) v.

Triple HThese two are frustrating together.

Really, really frustrating.The problem is obviously a lack of chemistry.

For years, the WWE has been really trying to make a go of it with these two in a big feud and its failed to deliver almost every time.

Of the eleven some-odd matches they've had, maybe three have been solid one on one encounters, those being their Raw match in December of '04 and their Last Man Standing matches at No Mercy 2007 and Raw last week.

The rest have felt, well....

flat.�The big issue here is largely chemistry, but the styles don't mesh either.

Triple H likes to be on the offensive as does Orton and while both can wrestle off their backs, neither is particularly great at it, especially Triple H as a baby face.

This match just featured more of the same, where the THINGS they did were perfectly good and work in theory, but the lack of intensity and cohesion really brought this down.They worked a 2/3 Falls Lucha Libre style match, where we get about 10 minutes in the opening fall, a short second fall before a longer, more elaborate, spot-heavy finishing stretch and again, the structure is perfectly fine.

The whole concept of Triple H purposely ceding the first fall by DQ with a chair shot is even OK, and in these matches, usually translate well, as occurred in last year's big Mask v.

Mask match in CMLL between Blue Panther & Villano V.

The problem was a lack of intensity.

Even the opening strike exchange had a circle up as if they were going to tie it up and wrestle under the Marquis of Queensbury rules or something, before heading into a really forced strike exchanged.

That opening stanza really told the entire story of the match and the feud as a whole, which is one of good structure, strong theory, but a simple lack of execution.

There was no overwhelming sense of desperation like we had last week with the fighting on their knees, using desperate weapons spots and the like.

Instead, they casually moved with little urgency from spot to spot, and filled in the middle with relatively flat brawling.Perhaps worst of all, this was supposed to be the big blow-off to this feud, the capper if you will and it felt completely unsatisfying given the run ins and subsequent hammer shot at the end.

If all Triple H needed to do was hit Orton with a sledge hammer to feel satisfied, shouldn't this have been over four months ago? It was just things like that which came off as really underwhelming.

The match up didn't draw strong ratings, buy rates or provide us with much in the terms of quality matches.

These two are good enough to the point where if you put them together enough, they'll have a good match here and there, but no one's good enough to overcome a straight-up lack of chemistry, which is the fundamental issue here.

Overall, a very disappointing way to end the biggest feud the WWE's put on this year.

**1/2�OVERALL -- This was a pretty decent show, but certainly a step down from what we got at Backlash and Judgment Day, which thus far have been the best shows this year.

There's nothing actively bad here, but just a lot of stuff that didn't quite live up to the billing.

That being said, nearly all of the matches are enjoyable on some level and the Jericho/Mysterio match is a must-see for any wrestling fan, so be sure to go well out of your way to see it.

The Bash isn't essential viewing, but you aren't exactly wasting your time watching it, either.�Final Grade: C+
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