While those in charge at World Wrestling Entertainment headquarters would never let you know it, the influence of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has been profound on professional wrestling since the Ultimate Fighting Championship debuted in November 1993.
A multitude of athletes have either gone from the Octagon to the squared circle, or most infamously, in the other direction, when you consider that Ken Shamrock got his first notoriety as pro wrestler Vince Torelli in the 1980s before moving on to shoot-style in Japan, and that Brock Lesnar is now the UFC Heavyweight Champion and their biggest drawing card — the recent UFC 100 anniversary show drawing over 1.5 million customers to pay $54.95US for the privilege of seeing the former WWE Champion tear apart Frank Mir.
While manoeuvres like the Figure Four leglock and the Sharpshooter (Scorpion Deathlock if you prefer) were often match-winners in the 1980s, few other submission holds drew much attention until the ’90s, when Shamrock’s ankle lock began a WWE trend which has resulted in more and more matches ending with, for example, STFs, Boston Crabs, and Crippler Crossfaces. Now, in September 2009, this Breaking Point PPV places the role of the submission in a higher priority than has ever been seen in a WWE ring.
Match #1 – Unified Tag Team Titles: Big Show & Chris Jericho ( c ) vs MVP & Mark Henry
The evening’s festivities at Montreal’s Bell Centre began with the still-unlikely tag team of Big Show and Chris Jericho, as they defended their Unified Tag Team Titles against the even unlikelier team of MVP and Mark Henry.
There was an interesting dynamic from the Canadian audience in this opening contest, as heels Big Show & Jericho were cheered against Mark Henry but jeered while in the ring with MVP. But that different approach could not account for a bout that only really began six minutes in, when MVP hit Jericho win a belly-to-belly suplex, an elbow drop, and a big foot to the face.
It was even less fun for Jericho when he attempted a top-rope flying bodypress, as he was caught by Henry and then press-slammed, and when he later tried to strike with the Code Breaker, Henry caught him with a Vader-like bodyblock.
In the end, it was the Canadian who got the pinfall on Henry, but only after “The World’s Strongest Man” was blind-sided by Big Show’s knockout punch.
Winners: Big Show & Chris Jericho
Match rating; 2.5 / 10
Match #2 – United States Title: Kofi Kingston ( c ) vs The Miz
After Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase informed us that their match with has-beens (their inference, not mine) DX wasn’t going to be a wrestling match, but rather a fight, The Miz angered the Montreal crowd by proclaiming, in French, that he would be the next U.S. champion (“Je suis le Miz, and je suis AWESOME!”)
As you might expect from these two, this was quite a modern wrestling match, although that also meant that there was little flow to the action. Miz took the initiative by tripping Kingston on the ring apron, and then continued with a clothesline in the corner and a Randy Savage-esque double ax-handle from the top rope, before scoring a near-fall with a Scorpion Death Drop.
Kingston won a battle of rib kicks to gain a little momentum, which he continued by scoring a near-fall with a beautiful top-rope crossbody. When Miz then went for a neckbreaker, Kingston shoved him into the ropes and hit the Trouble In Paradise for the pinfall.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Match rating: 5.5 / 10
Ted DiBiase and Triple H fight in the crowd.
Match #3 – Falls Count Anywhere Submission Match: Shawn Michaels & Triple H vs Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase
Michaels and Triple H set their stall out early in this third contest, with each using chop-blocks to take away a knee of the challengers. With submissions “counting anywhere in Montreal” (according to Michael Cole, although one wonders how they would establish the exact city limits in any such situation), the action went high into the Bell Centre, with Rhodes and Triple H in the concession stand area.
As security struggled to keep fans back, Michaels and Helmsley each locked on Figure Four leglocks, and once those were broken, the action moved back to ringside, where Triple H locked on a Crippler Crossface on DiBiase, and Rhodes impressively held Michaels in a reverse Gori (Guerrero) Special.
Back in the stands, Rhodes pushed Michaels off a stairway and into a platform, taking out the Texan, while backstage, Helmsley sent DiBiase through a concession-stand table with a spinebuster. When Triple H then had Rhodes in another crossface, DiBiase recovered enough to strike him with a cool-box, which gave the duo the chance to beat on the injured Michaels.
A flurry by Michaels saw him almost garner the submission with a Figure Four on Rhodes, though the son of the son of a plumber got revenge with an unconvincing ringpost Figure Four. But with Triple H slowly making his way to ringside, DiBiase locked the Million $ Dream on Michaels while Rhodes held the leg grapevine, causing Michaels to finally submit.
Winners: Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase
Match rating: 7.0 / 10
Match #4 – Kendo Stick Match: Kane vs The Great Khali
After a fantastic Jake Roberts-esque promo in which Randy Orton eerily described how he would force John Cena to say “I Quit”, it was time for the Kendo Stick match between Kane and The Great Khali.
To a mixture of boos, utter silence, and chants of “boring”, Kane won the initial battle of the kendo stick, coming off the top rope with a shot to fell the giant Khali. The Indian’s “brother” Ranjin Singh then entered the fray and attacked Kane, to no avail, although when Khali was distracted, Kane struck with a chokeslam for a merciful pinfall.
Match rating: 1.0 / 10
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, CM Punk alluded to the Jeff Hardy arrest before the next contest, before stating that you’d never see him make such headlines, unlike the “wannabe French derelicts” of Montreal. When the lights then literally went out on the interview, courtesy of a joke-playing Jimmy Wang Yang, he was assaulted by Punk, who claimed that he was not intimidated by The Undertaker.
Match #5 – ECW Championship: Christian ( c ) vs William Regal
A ring announcement proclaimed that ECW General Manager Tiffany had barred Ezekiel Jackson and Vladimir Kozlov from ringside for this title affair, a fact which caused Regal to sneer at announcer Tony Chimmel in a manner that only he could muster.
The opening moments of this contest provided more traditional wrestling than all of the previous matches combined, as Regal struck with an exploder suplex and an agonizing-looking modified Dragon sleeper. He also hit a couple of devastating knees, a Kenta Kobashi-like capture back suplex, and even a rolling senton, although when Regal went for another running knee, Christian reversed to hit the Killswitch for the pinfall.
Match rating: 6.0 / 10
Pat Patterson came to the ring for a nice speech in which he stated (again in French) that Montreal will still always be his home, but he was soon interrupted by Dolph Ziggler, who proceeded to make fun of Patterson with some of the worst comedy material of all-time, before kicking the Hall of Famer in the stomach. John Morrison — who still doesn’t seem right as a babyface 00 made the save.
Match #6 – WWE Championship I Quit Match: Randy Orton ( c ) vs John Cena
In the contest of the five-time World champions, it was Orton who struck with the first meaningful blow, seemingly KO’ing Cena with a ringside monitor, before hitting a DDT as Cena’s feet were on the middle rope. Orton then went for the concussion kick, but when Cena moved, it only led to Orton stomping Cena’s head twice into the steel steps.
New WWE champion John Cena after beating Randy Orton
With Cena refusing to verbally submit, Orton handcuffed him to the top rope for more punishment, before ‘cuffing his hands together and hanging the former champion by his arms from the ringpost. Whether or not it was intended, there was some religious symbolism as Orton then beat Cena with one of the kendo sticks that were left from the Kane vs Khali encounter, leaving Cena — who refused to surrender — with Tommy Dreamer-like welts on his stomach (see Dreamer’s infamous mid-’90s ECW angle with The Sandman).
After Orton struck with a chair to the head, Orton handcuffed Cena to the other ringpost, but when he tried to strike with a chair, Cena countered, grabbed the key from around Orton’s neck, and ‘cuffed himself to the champion. After an initially flurry by Cena, Orton struck with an RKO, but in reaching for the handcuffs to free himself, let himself open to the STFU, with which Cena took the championship.
Winner: John Cena
Match rating: 4.0 / 10
Match #7 – World Heavyweight Championship Submission Match: CM Punk ( c ) vs The Undertaker
The shocked look on the face of CM Punk was a picture in the opening moments of this contest, as he found himself propelled forcefully over the top rope by his challenger in the main event of the evening. Despite that, however, he did get on the offence when he crotched ‘Taker on the top rope, and also superplexed him from the same position.
Inevitably the man who first held a World title in 1991 came back on the offence with a Snake Eyes, a big boot, and a legdrop, although immediately after it appeared that Punk had countered a chokeslam with a right high kick. When the champion went for the cover however, Undertaker locked in the Hell’s Gate (in MMA, also known as the gogoplata) for the very quick submission.
That appeared to be the end of the contest, until Teddy Long declared that that manoeuvre was banned by Vickie Guerrero — which is incorrect, since she lifted that ban after a fall-out with Edge — but it was all a swerve, since as Punk immediately locked on the Anaconda Vice (akin to a head and arm choke in MMA), referee Scott Armstrong called for the bell in an extremely sad revival of the Montreal Screwjob finish.
Winner: CM Punk
Match rating: 4.5 / 10
|WHAT YOU THINK|
What did you think of WWE Breaking Point?
It was great – 8%
It was okay – 16%
It sucked – 36%
Didn’t see it – 40%
Final thoughts: After 12 years and numerous other recreations, it is mind-boggling that Breaking Point insulted everyone yet again — most of all, the Montreal crowd — by re-doing the infamous finish of the Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels WWE title match from 1997.
A questionable CM Punk victory was certainly on the cards, and may be the best thing for storyline in the long run, but there were many other ways in which this type of finish could have been accomplished, without leaving everyone feeling cheated out of their money, both in the arena and on pay-per-view (thankfully, the event aired free to Sky Sports subscribers in the UK).
In a time when WWE North American business is in difficulty, it’s impossible to make a logical argument for forcing fans to have even less faith in their product. The Punk win may be good for storyline, but the person who got cheated this Sunday wasn’t really The Undertaker.
Rather, it was anyone who spent money for an satisfying evening of wrestling action.