By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho def. United States Champion MVP in a 2008 King of the Ring Tournament Quarterfinal Match (Non-title)
I don't think Jericho and MVP had ever faced off prior to this point, so this was a great way of kicking off the tournament. I'm usually not in favor of champion vs. champion matches being thrown out on TV without being advertised in advance, but the gimmick of this tournament was that no one knew who would be participating in it. They weren't given a ton of time (then again, none of the night's matches went long), but it was enjoyable while it lasted.
CM Punk def. Matt Hardy in a 2008 King of the Ring Tournament Quarterfinal Match
This was a strong second match in the tournament between two beloved babyfaces, and each of them had an equal chance of winning. The crowd was solidly behind both of them and they managed to maximize their minutes by producing a very good match. I really liked the finish because it allowed Punk to advance while protecting Hardy (ahead of his United States Championship match at Backlash) in defeat.
Finlay def. The Great Khali by Count-out in a 2008 King of the Ring Tournament Quarterfinal Match
Well, the 2008 King of the Ring tournament quickly took a turn for the worse with this match. I can understand why Finlay was a part of the brackets, but why Khali? And don't even attempt to explain it to me by saying it was because he was a former world champion. No tournament can be considered prestigious with Khali involved. On the bright side, the match was over relatively quickly, and the knee injury Finlay sustained at the hands of Khali set Regal up to attack it in their match later on.
Raw General Manager William Regal def. Hornswoggle in a 2008 King of the Ring Tournament Quarterfinal Match
Again, it was a true disgrace to have Hornswoggle participating in the King of the Ring tournament. The only storyline explanation for it would be if Regal, as the GM, made the brackets himself and wanted an easy first round match. But he never ended up saying that, I'm simply hoping that was the case. Needless to say, this wasn't much of a match as Regal made quick work of Hornswoggle with the Regal Stretch.
Shawn Michaels Called Out Batista
Chris Jericho merely played the role of instigator during the Michaels vs. Batista feud, and while he played it well, I was happy the feud came back to these two on the go-home show. Babyface vs. babyface rivalries can be confusing at times, but I loved the logic here with Batista angry at HBK for ending his friend Ric Flair's career and then The Animal turning aiming at how HBK got to WWE. Batista looking completely un-phased by the feigned Sweet Chin Music was excellent and a nice change of pace from Michaels' past feuds.
Carlito def. World Tag Team Champion Hardcore Holly
Carlito and Santino Marella were chasing the World Tag Team Championship, so giving Carlito a win over one-half of the tag champs was logical in helping the duo build momentum. This was a standard singles match otherwise and there wasn't too much of note about it. Cody Rhodes slapping Santino afterward was a nice tie-in to their match the following week on Raw.
CM Punk def. Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho in a 2008 King of the Ring Tournament Quarterfinal Match (Non-title)
Although this could have been a classic with more time, it was still an excellent match in the time it was allotted and certainly shades of their stellar series of matches years down the line. Jericho was likely the fan favorite to go over here, so Punk advancing must have been a pleasant surprise for fans. Jericho putting Punk over was huge in establishing him as a threat as Mr. Money in the Bank and heading into the finals.
Raw General Manager William Regal def. Finlay in a 2008 King of the Ring Tournament Quarterfinal Match
Another tournament match kept short and sweet but for the right reasons. Finlay was still suffering from the knee injury he sustained earlier in the evening, so like a true heel, Regal took full advantage of that and targeted it throughout the bout. His Regal Stretch submission hold actually put pressure on the knee when he applied it, so that was stellar storytelling as well.
Hillary Clinton vs. Barrack Obama Ended in a No Contest
I remember being mildly entertained by this at the time, but looking back at it now, I realize how atrocious it was. What's worse is that this trash dragged on longer than any other match in the King of the Ring tournament! Having the potential presidential candidates appear on the show and spew their corny lines was enough to promote the Pennsylvania primary the next day. Umaga unofficially turned face when he came out, attacked everyone, and put the fans out of their misery.
Maria, Michelle McCool, Cherry, Kelly Kelly and Ashley Congratulated Women's Champion Mickie James
Putting this many women in one ring (at the time, anyway) more often than not led to a train wreck, but at least this was only a short-lived segment and not an actual match. The brawl that broke out led to a multi-Diva match at Backlash that Sunday that ultimately meant nothing, whereas they really should have done a rematch for the Women's Championship between James and Beth Phoenix at the pay-per-view.
Raw General Manager William Regal def. CM Punk Win the 2008 King of the Ring Tournament
Regal and Punk had their fair share of solid matchups at the onset of 2009, but this was too short to be anything too spectacular. Nevertheless, I liked the story they relayed with Punk earning his way into the finals yet Regal had a fairly easier route. Regal winning clean was a bit surprising, but the commentators emphasized Punk was tired from his previous two matchups. I don't think anyone could have predicted Regal winning the crown, but I loved it then and I love it now because I don't know if I would be a fan today had it not happened. It was unquestionably intriguing and had major storyline potential in the weeks ahead.
WWE Champion Randy Orton, JBL, Edge and Chavo Guerrero def. World Heavyweight Champion The Undertaker, ECW Champion Kane, Triple H and John Cena
This was touted as an all star match and it certainly was based off who was involved, but because there were so many matches on the show, the entrances of each individual lasted longer than the matchup did. It wasn't a blockbuster bout by any means, but it was a simple way to further all the feuds involved and hype the three bigget matches happening at Backlash and the fury of finishers at the end was cool.
The King of the Ring tournament featured a few really good matches, some forgettable ones, but the right winner. I get that they wanted to pop a rating by doing the entire tourney on one show, but the matches would have been so much better had they spaced it out. The main event isn't worth watching alone, but it does contain a ton of star power, while the Clinton vs. Obama match was just plain garbage. All that said, it was an enjoyable albeit long special three hour edition of Raw.
SEE ALSO: "Monday Night Raw Review - April 14, 2008"