I can’t stop thinking about this spot. It’s the only thing in the match that bothers me probably because I’ve just come off from finishing my video on why Daniel Bryan is the Greatest Wrestler of All Time. As part of my research, I rewatched The Wrestling Road Diaries, a documentary that chronicles Bryan’s finals days on the independent scene. Early in the film, Bryan teaches at a seminar to young trainees and emphasizes the need for sound fundamentals and an attention to detail. To illustrate his point, he demonstrated a common spot that he noted as redundant and more flash than substance.
I love my GOAT.
Unintentional shade aside, this is a great match. This is at the tale end of the 2000s which means that Triple H is still capable of the physical movement needed to put on a great match. And despite being despised by most crowds he encountered, John Cena has already put in a handful of classics at this point and cemented his slot as an all time great. Both men are over as all hell while being positioned as babyfaces at the time. The Texas crowd is incredibly invested the whole way through, mostly cheering for Triple H because sometimes people just don’t know what they have until it’s gone.
It’s a perfect little three act WWE main event. To open things off, Cena and Triple H exchanged some holds with big transitions being dependent on either big evasions or simple counters. Despite the GIFs above, I thought Triple H actually looked pretty great here. He acted as the champion trying to wrestle rings around Cena only for Cena to prove that he can hold his own.
All this was very good, aided by the raucous crowd, when the match suddenly takes a turn for the great. Triple H hits his signature back flip over the turnbuckles bump to the floor, tweaking his knee on the landing. He immediately gets to selling it on the floor and Cena hones in on the injury. Cena hits a couple of nasty chop blocks and even goes to work on Hunter’s knee against the ringpost. It’s a fantastic set up for Cena trying to go to the STFU–the hold that he used to put Hunter away at WrestleMania 22.
Triple H never quite gives up on the selling either. It might just be his gait but there’s a certain awkwardness to his movement through the finishing stretch. Perhaps I’m projecting that onto the story but there’s some more overt and traditional selling to back this idea up. After hitting his first Pedigree in the match, the impact on his knee gives him enough pause to justify Cena kicking out at two.
The third fall is your traditional WWE style bombfest with both men going to set up their finishers until someone finally gets to hit it flush. Sadly for us all, Triple H gets the win in the end to wrap this up.
A fantastic piece of WWE main event style wrestling. The structure is well defined but it keeps itself tight and compact. It had a simple and steady progression and it hit all the points it needed to in just a little over twenty minutes. Great for a light viewing for anyone with Ruthless Aggression nostalgia.