By Graham "GSM" Matthews
ECW Champion Matt Hardy and R-Truth def. United States Champion Shelton Benjamin and Mark Henry
Hardy and Benjamin faced off in a Champion vs. Champion match the week prior (which was won by Hardy), all four men were feuding with each other at the time, and they were on opposing teams that Sunday at Survivor Series, so this was a perfect way to hype said matchup. The in-ring action was entertaining and it worked well in the opening slot, but I could have done without Truth pinning Benjamin for the win. Benjamin would eliminate him from the match on Sunday to end the feud, but I don't think he ever got another title shot against Benjamin after that.
John Morrison and The Miz def. Jesse and Festus
Ah, remember the days when Festus was borderline mentally challenged and would go on a rampage whenever the bell rang? Good times, good times. Jesse and Festus weren't even on the opposite team of Miz and Morrison at Survivor Series, so this was designed to give the latter duo an easy win more than anything. If nothing else, they set this bout up nicely via the backstage segment beforehand.
Jeff Hardy def. WWE Champion Triple H (Non-title)
This wasn't on the same level as their classics at No Mercy and Cyber Sunday, but obviously still a very good match filled with plenty of excellent back-and-forth action. Hardy always appeared to be an equal to Triple H, which I appreciated. The interference from Vladimir Kozlov was predictable, but it built toward the Triple Threat match at the event. Of course, Hardy wasn't even involved in the match due to getting "attacked" in a stairwell earlier that evening, leaving us with an awful match between Kozlov and HHH instead. Ugh.
The Brian Kendrick and Ezekiel Jackson def. WWE Tag Team Champions Carlito and Primo (Non-title)
Kendrick immediately went from chasing the WWE Championship around Unforgiven time to undercard matches in November. This was fine for what it was, but it didn't last long at all. If I remember correctly, Kendrick and Jackson would get the better of Carlito and Primo several times over the next few months leading to a tag team title match, but that was about it. If Survivor Series was that Sunday, why not just do the match then? Carlito and Primo weren't on any pay-per-views while they were champions, which was odd.
James Mason def. MVP
No, Mason isn't a jobber you forgot about; he was a local athlete and likely never made an appearance on WWE TV again. MVP was in the midst of a losing streak that wouldn't end for another two months, so this match was total throwaway. Sure, it was shocking to have a local athlete beat a former champion, but it made MVP look terrible. Again, I realize it was building to a face turn for him in early 2009, but he was losing to, well, losers every week and was in a program with The Great Khali. It couldn't get much worse than that.
The Bella Twins def. Victoria and Natalya
This, now this was when I was a fan of The Bella Twins! All kidding aside, twin magic hadn't been done to death by this point because they had just debuted as a tandem on TV, so I didn't mind the finish. It was a much better wrestled match than I thought it would be because the Bellas were still so green, but that was mostly because Victoria and Natalya carried them to a competent contest. Victoria was losing to just about everyone at the time, but she was only a few months away from leaving, so it wasn't totally surprising. She deserved better, though.
Big Show Interrupted The Undertaker
I forgot this feud was even a thing. Sigh. Not only was it bad enough that they were in a rivalry to begin with, but it lasted almost three months! None of their matches were terribly great, so I imagine they feuded simply to keep Undertaker busy before his classic with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25. On the bright side, this segment was kept relatively short and sweet and the fans got what they wanted to see with Vickie Guerrero getting put inside the casket albeit for 30 seconds or so.
Thanks to Undertaker Week, WWE finally made an edition of SmackDown from 2008 available on the WWE Network. It may not seem like a major deal to most fans, but I grew up on this stuff so it was a real treat to be able to watch it back for the first time since it originally aired. Technically, no, this is not a "retro" review, but I'm lumping it in this section because I didn't write it as it happened. Anyway, this was a half-decent go-home show for the pay-per-view. There wasn't much that can be considered must-see, but you might find Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy enjoyable.