By Marco Cerino
The WWE Universe roars in Baltimore in anticipation of the Undertaker’s return to the ring against CM Punk! The Phenom appears in the ring without warning and the fans go crazy. He discusses his brother Kane, calling him “a disturbed freak of nature.” Undertaker has had to protect him before and has no problem hurting him at Night of Champions. The craven attack has given Kane a false sense of confidence, Taker claims. Taker says he still has the dark power and he is still in control. Taker vows to make Kane remember the night he stops Kane’s reign of terror and takes back the World Heavyweight Championship! He acknowledges their match will be brutal and he can’t wait. Taker suggests the nature of their conflict demands they make it No Holds Barred. He asks Kane if he is “confident.” Punk comes out and applauds the Dead Man, suggesting he deserves a standing ovation. Punk tells the crowd they will never see the Undertaker again after Night of Champions. Punk admits he enjoys watching the rivalry with Kane, particularly the downward spiral Taker appears to be. He mocks the crowd and suggests the Phenom is done, had one fight too many. Taker suggests Punk will be his next victim and Punk shrugs off that threat, claiming the voice of the Dead Man now shows some doubt. He wants to send a message to the Universe and his opponent next weekend, the Big Show. Taker invites him to come down and predicts the same result: failure. Punk reminds the Undertaker of when he “tapped out” to Punk, this time last year. Taker vows Punk will, in fact, rest in peace!
JACK SWAGGER VS. MVP
These two had an issue last week, in which MVP beat up Jack’s father. Jack starts with a go-behind and amateur throw, hammering away. MVP comes back with power and mounts for punches. MVP hits a giant Suono into the skull and knocks Jack out of the ring. MVP locks up for a pair of belly-to-back suplexes, looked like Benoit with the Germans, but Jack broke the hold before the third. Jack hammers away in the corner and hits 2 off a running clothesline. Jack locks the arms and cinches a shoulder stretch as we go to break!
As we return, MVP tires to fight out of the corner but Jack hits a big boot to drop MVP. Jack tries the running splash but MVP gets his knees up and drops him again with a running boot in the corner. MVP gets 2 before Jack just kicks out. MVP hits running clotheslines before lifting the knee to set up the “Ballin” elbow. Jack avoids MVP and goes to the floor, where he drives MVP into the ring steps. Jack hammers the ankle before cinching the ankle lock, forcing MVP to submit early! Jack gains a measure of revenge for his poor father (who if he is 64, is too young to be a Korean War veteran.)
WINNER: JACK SWAGGER GRADE: B-
Backstage, we see Team Lay-Cool quarreling over who will be the one facing Melina at Night of Champions. Kaval tries to get them to stop so he can focus on his premiere and they make fun of him. Eventually, he leaves them to continue bickering. That was scintillating.
ALBERTO DEL RIO VS. MATT HARDY
Matt limps to the ring, still nursing a bad ankle. Alberto goes after the ankle and hits a snapmere to control. Matt comes back with the running clothesline into the bulldog for 2. Matt holds the rope to avoid the whip and Alberto goes through the ropes. Matt kicks through the ropes and drops Alberto to the floor. Matt returns Alberto to the ring but Alberto comes back with a devastating enzeguiri and Matt falls the floor. Matt looks dazed while Alberto celebrates as we go to break!
Returning from break, Alberto sinks in a rear chin lock. Matt fights to his feet but Alberto drops him again. Alberto whips Matt and drops him with a AA Spinebuster for 2. Alberto goes back to the chin lock but Matt fights to his feet, hitting the sit-down pin for 2. Alberto drops him with a kick for 2. Alberto works over Matt’s neck on the ropes. Alberto gets a scoop slam for 2 and goes back to the chin lock. Matt comes back and the two exchange punches. Matt scores a series of clotheslines into the Side Effect for 2. Matt hits the running clotheslines in the corner but Alberto drops him with a kick. Matt reverses a move with a neckbreaker and elbow for 2. Matt drops Alberto and hits a moonsault for 2! That may be the first moonsault Matt’s tried all year! Matt tries the Twist of Fate but Alberto throws him into the turnbuckle. The two battle atop the ropes and both spill over. Alberto gains the edge by driving Matt’s arm into the ringpost and wins the match with the cross-armbreaker! Alberto takes a big step forward in his career and that was a very good match! After the match, Christian runs in to save Matt. Alberto vows to make Christian pay, “another place, another time.”
WINNER: ALBERTO DEL RIO GRADE: A-
DREW MCINTYRE VS. KAVAL
The winner of NXT Season 2 has earned his way into the WWE roster. Drew earns a quick tie-up and Kaval comes back with precise kicks and a float-over. Kaval gets 2 off a spinning heel kick. Drew places Kaval over the ropes and knocks him to the floor. Drew executes a vertical suplex and slams Kaval on the apron, getting 2 after they return to the ring. Drew locks the shoulder and torques the neck but Kaval escapes. Kaval gets a couple impressive kicks and gets 2 off a top-rope spinning heel kick. Kaval loads up for the Warrior’s Way but Drew eludes, taking a knee in the face for his efforts. Drew drops Kaval on the barricade and ends the match with the Future Shock DDT. A nice debut by Kaval but Drew sends a message with the win. After the match, Team Lay-Cool helps Kaval to the back. How nice of them.
WINNER: DREW MCINTYRE GRADE: B
Vickie Guerrero comes out with her NXT rookie Caitlin. Still not sure why they got rid of Aloisa. She would’ve gotten better ratings. Caitlin ain’t bad to look at though.
INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION DOLPH ZIGGLER AND CHAVO GUERRERO VS. KOFI KINGSTON AND CHRIS MASTERS
Kofi gets his final shot at Dolph and the IC title at Night of Champions. Dolph cannot be counted out or DQ’d or he will lose the title. Dolph and Chris start and Chris military press slams Dolph for 2. Chavo gets in and avoids the Masterpiece. Chavo drops Chris with a chopblock and hammers away. Dolph goes after the legs and attacks the ankle. Kofi tags in and hits a Superman punch. Kofi leaps the ropes and mounts for punches. Dolph comes back with a kick and they hit dueling clotheslines. Dolph tries to tag out but the ref refuses to admit the tag. He missed it while attending to the intruding Chris. Dolph is forced to stay and Kofi ends the match with Trouble in Paradise. That was fun and short.
WINNERS: KOFI KINGSTON AND CHRIS MASTERS GRADE: C
The Big Show interviews himself as Josh Matthews, talking about how he singlehandedly dismantled the SES. Kelly Kelly walks in and calls him a nerd. They have a cute exchange before Josh walks in, looking for his remote mic. Big Show gives it to him, removing it from his armpit. Show then decides to give Kelly a full whiff of the giant armpit. That was silly.
CM PUNK VS. THE UNDERTAKER
Punk sends the SES to the back, choosing to face the Phenom alone. Punk escapes the methodical Dead Man and eludes with skill. Punk starts with the kicks but Taker drops him with one shot. Taker strikes with force in the corner. Taker hammers away with shoulder strikes for 2. Taker continues to work over the arm but falls across the ropes trying the Old School fist drop. Punk drops the Phenom to the floor as we go to break!
Punk hammers away at the shoulder and gets 2 as we return. Punk goes to a head-scissors submission hold. Punk kicks Taker to the floor and pursues him, driving him into the barricade. Undertaker looks dazed and fatigued. Taker comes back with elbows to the face. Taker hammers Punk on the apron and hits the signature leg drop. However, Taker looks gassed and cannot get the pin. Taker misses the running boot and Punk gets a kick for 2. Punk fires elbows into Taker’s chest and gets 2. Punk cinches the rear chin hold. Taker powers through and struggles to catch his breath. Punk gets up and hits the running knee into the bulldog for 2. Taker and Punk exchange blows and Taker hits big rights to drop Punk. Taker lands Snake Eyes but Punk avoids the big boot. Punk goes top-rope but the Dead Man catches him and lifts him for the chokeslam! Taker can only get 2 and staggers to his feet. He tries the Tombstone but Punk reverses and hits the GTS! Punk cannot cover immediately and crawls to the limp Phenom. However, Taker locks in the Hell’s Gate submission hold and Punk can do nothing but tap! The snarl is back though he looks punch-drunk. After the match, the fire burns and the sick laugh of the World Heavyweight Champion fills the arena! The Phenom may be back, but Kane still has the title!
WINNER: THE UNDERTAKER GRADE: A-