One Night Stand began as a tribute to the original ECW promotion that ran from 1993 until January of 2001. The show was meant to be a one-off (hence the title), but when it became one of the highest-grossing PPV events in WWE history, as well as being a massive critical success, it was only logical that it became a yearly event.
Running Time: 169mins (excluding extras)
- Falls Count Anywhere Match – Jeff Hardy v Umaga
- Mick Foley Explains the Rules of the Stretcher Match
- Singapore Cane Match – Big Show v CM Punk v Tommy Dreamer v John Morrison v Chavo Guerrero
- Todd Grisham Interviews Mr. McMahon
- First Blood Match – JBL v John Cena
- Randy Orton Wishes Batista Luck Before His Match
- “I Quit” Match – Melina v Beth Phoenix
- Mike Adamle Interrupts John Cena and Mickie James
- Stretcher Match – Shawn Michaels v Batista
- Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship –Triple H v Randy Orton
- TLC Match for the Vacant World Heavyweight Championship (If Undertaker Loses, He Leaves the WWE) –Undertaker v Edge
- Four Historical Undertaker Moments
- Survivor Series 1990
- King of the Ring 1998
- Royal Rumble 2007
- Wrestlemania 23
The first One Night Stand, broadcast in June 2005, was as close to an ECW PPV as you are ever likely to get (and is one of my favourite wrestling events ever), the second maintained most of that original feel, but was mainly used to launch the new ECW on Sci-Fi television show. After that, the event became just another WWE PPV, but kept the “extreme” element by having only stipulation matches on the card.
This year’s show was no different, and while it wasn’t on a par with the original version, that doesn’t mean that the card was a disappointment.
Kicking off with a Falls Count Anywhere match was always going to get the crowd into it. The fact the match bout was Umaga v Jeff Hardy, two guys who have great chemistry, and the set consisted of cranes and other “jumpoffable” equipment, only added to the good feelings going in.
Jeff is out first, and it’s weird to hear the almost muted crowd reaction considering how over he is at the moment. Comparing the reaction here to the reaction he received at the recent Survivor Series PPV is like comparing a Snitsky pop to a Steve Austin explosion.
The one thing this match did do was make me realise how much I miss Umaga. Manu is a decent talent, but he looks like a pale imitation when compared to the former Jamal. It really isn’t much of an understatement to say Umaga is one of the best wrestlers on the WWE roster when given the chance to do his thing. The little touches, like counting in Samoan, really add to the character.
Another thing to notice is that this was just before the draft, so both men were on RAW and being commented on by Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross. I may be in the minority, but I’m glad JR and Lawler were split up; they had become to comfortable and complacent working together and Ross’ duo with Tazz is coming along nicely. In an ideal world, Jim Ross would be paired with Matt Striker on RAW or JBL on Smackdown, but we can’t have everything.
Back to the opening contest, both men perform most of their high-impact spots early on (indicating that they were getting them out of the way so they could go to the outside and use the stipulation), with a Whisper in the Wind and a Black Hole Slam (JR actually called it by the name Abyss uses) from Umaga.
We end up in the crowd after around 5mins, and the usual brawling ensues. One great little spot is when Umaga tries to take a steel chair to hit Hardy, only for the weapon to be connected to two other chairs in a seated position. Rather than unhook the seat, Umaga simply lifts all three chairs and hurls them at Jeff; it really keeps the character true and is a testament to how convincing Umaga is at performing what is, for all intents and purposes, a 1980s gimmick.
Other nice spots include Jeff sliding down a bannister to clothesline Umaga and the taking of the match to the parking lot at the back of the building. It’s always funny to see wrestlers outside in daylight. The only real downer is that the camera angles for the finish ruin what is a visually impressive ending. We know that Jeff didn’t really splat onto the concrete, but to have the huge crash mat visible in the background is an error that WWE usually do a great job of avoiding.
All in all, though, it was a great opener and a good omen for the rest of the PPV.
Foley does a great job of hyping the Stretcher Match, something he is usually good at (see the promo he cuts with Edge before their HiaC match from Summerslam).
The second match is the Five-Way Singapore Cane Match (with Mike Adamle and Tazz on the mic) between five former ECW Champions; Big Show, Chavo Guerrero, John Morrison, Tommy Dreamer (the only one to have held it in a non-WWE capacity) and the “Money in the Bank” winner, CM Punk. The winner of the bout gets a shot at reclaiming that title from Kane at Night of Champions. One nice little touch in the pre-match is when the ring technicians are putting up the poles for the canes, you can see the World Heavyweight Title hanging in preparation for the main event. It doesn’t mean much, but it does remind you of what is still to come later in the evening.
The Singapore Cane match follows the standard formula for any “… on a Pole” matches; Wrestler tries to climb, gets stopped, another wrestler tries, gets closer but still stopped until one of them gets the object and then the match goes to a conclusion. The main difference with this is that there are five wrestlers and a shed-load of canes.
Following the above formula, the match is good, but nothing to shout home about… until Show mistimes a spot with the ring-steps and gives himself a brutal hard-way cut above his left eye. From there, it’s all Big Show with a fantastic sequence that lasts until the well-received-by-the-live-crowd finish. The gash is brutal, but the finish puts him over as the most unstoppable being on the roster as Bam Neely, Miz, Morrison, Punk, Chavo and Dreamer are all destroyed by the angry giant.
So far, we’re two matches in and the show has very good. The big question is whether that momentum could be kept up by the competitors in the third match. The short answer is… no, they couldn’t.
JBL and Cena have had decent chemistry in their previous matches, but the First Blood stipulation is completely wasted by a hokey and partly-botched finish. The other problem is that both Cena and Bradshaw are great bleeders (JBL especially), so the promise of a visual bloodbath going to waste is doubly galling. This is the first real disappointment of the show, and it’s a shame because of what if could have been if booked differently. There are some nice spots, but the whole thing falls flat, mainly due to the finish.
With the previous outing falling short, it’s left to the ladies to try and bring things back up again. Melina and Beth Phoenix go at it in the first ever female “I Quit” match in the WWE.
The women put forth a fantastic effort and really have the fans into things from the opening bell. Again, as with most stipulation matches, the bout follows a semi-set formula, but does so in a way that keeps interest throughout by the use of innovative submissions (Melina comes across as a submission master, um, mistress) and showcases of Beth’s superior strength. The finish is a thing of beauty, with Melina emoting and getting the crowd behind her. I would happily go on record and say this was one of, if not the, best women’s match of 2008.
Batista and Shawn Michaels is a feud that started out with a logical storyline (HBK retired Ric Flair and Batista was pissed off about it), but went into a surreal tangent when Shawn faked a knee injury to win their Backlash match. That, in itself, was fine. It was the continued claim he had a knee injury and then the revelation that he didn’t (which should have turned him heel, but didn’t) which was baffling. It did lead to the brilliant Jericho heel turn and fantastic rivalry between him and HBK, so it was worth it overall, but it still made little to no sense.
All of that led us to this night and a Stretcher Match between the former Backlash opponents. Batista has a legitimate reason to be vengeful going in and the bout far exceeds expectations, especially for the end when Chris Jericho comes out to “will Shawn to continue” as Batista looks set to win the bout.
There is some great use of the stretcher in the match and a lot of high-tension spots, but the reason this match works is how simple the booking was going in (ignoring the fake knee stuff); Batista wants to hurt Shawn Michaels for retiring his friend and lying to him. That’s it, a page out of Pro-Wrestling Booking 101. More storylines should be booked as simply and as effectively as this.
Also, kudos for whoever gave Batista the line of “I don’t love you and I’m not sorry” as it was a work of genius.
An unfortunate injury to Randy Orton cuts short the Last Man Standing Match between Triple H and he, which is a disappointment due to how great their previous match under the same stipulation was in October of last year. Before the injury, the bout was building nicely and had some fantastic exchanges, but it can’t help but be anything other than underwhelming due to it obviously being ended abruptly.
Fair play to both Hunter and Orton for improvising and giving the match a proper ending rather than just calling for help from the back and ending on a technicality.
To close the show, we have, in my opinion, the feud of 2008 (just shading HBK v Y2J). Undertaker and Edge have had fantastic bouts all year, starting with their stunning main-event at Wrestlemania XXIV. Echoing his 2007 feud with Batista, Undertaker had great match after great match with against his opponent all year while Edge cemented his place in the upper echelon of WWE talent.
Having been intertwined with each other since Survivor Series 2007, Edge/Undertaker has been a myriad of fantastic promos (Edge’s promo at Wrestlemania XXIV is one of the all time greatest pieces of dialogue), segments and matches… and this, Undertaker’s first TLC match, would be no exception.
Mick Foley, no stranger to both men, does a fantastic job of building the importance of the match (that he is credited with during his stint as WWF Commissioner) and is a revelation on commentary. He was, without a doubt, one of the best colour commentators in recent memory.
Both men have their working boots on and put forth a 20+ minute masterpiece that leaves the result in doubt many times over. There is logical progression with both men countering moves they suffered in previous outings and many a shattered table to savour.
The finish is obvious from around fifteen minutes before it happens (although who it would happen to isn’t as obvious), but it is still a visual eye-opener that is another memorable stunt. Both wrestlers show us, once again, why they are considered part the elite talent in the company and showcase every highlight of their arsenal.
A fantastic end to a very good pay-per-view, Undertaker and Edge can be rightly proud of their efforts.
There may be four extras, but they are all focused on one man; The Undertaker. All four are great little snippets of his career and actually made me want to see the matches in their entirety again.
The first is ‘Taker’s debut at the 1990 Survivor Series… and what a debut it was. The mystery partner of Ted DiBiase’s team (back when the mystery was preserved; no internet to spoil the surprise), Undertaker made an immediate impact.
Up next is King of the Ring 1998 and perhaps the most replayed moment in wrestling (definitely the most replayed Hell in a Cell moment) as Undertaker takes on Mankind inside the massive cage. The throw off the top of the cell has lost none of it’s impact after ten years and Jim Ross on commentary is still as goose-bumpy as ever.
The 2007 Royal Rumble is the penultimate extra segment and is another reminder of how talented the guy is. HBK and ‘Taker were the last two remaining in the Royal Rumble match… and they put forth the greatest finish to a Rumble you will ever see.
Finally, we have his World Title victory over Batista at Wrestlemania 23. This was, to me, Batista’s finest showing ever and is a fantastic bout in it’s own right. It really is a great big “shut the f*ck up” to those “fans” who decry big-man wrestlers and claim that only small cruiserweight style wrestlers know how to work.
Batista v Undertaker is one of the greatest wrestling matches in the last decade and deserves to be praised to all and sundry.
An excellent event that has only one duff bout (JBL v Cena). The rest of the card is a great mix of stipulations and talents. The Divas surpass all expectations with the finest female outing of 2008, Jeff and Umaga go to extremes (ahem), Batista v HBK closes the book on that feud in stunning fashion and Undertaker/Edge steals the show.
Big Show also deserves credit for working through an amazingly brutal gash over his left eye and giving a decent Singapore Cane match a memorable ending.
All in all, this was another great outing in a really impressive year for WWE PPV events.