Credit: Mike Johnson and Pwinsider.com
World Wrestling Entertainment returned to Madison Square Garden with a Smackdown show that also imported Raw stars and Bret Hart for "Bret Hart Appreciation Night", held almost 13 years to the day Hart last appeared at a WWF event in MSG.
*Kofi Kingston pinned WWE Intercontinental champion Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler came out with a mic saying he had just defended the belt and since he only has to every 30 days, the bout was a non-title match. The crowd was behind Kingston in a major way. Ziggler shoulderblocked him down and locked in a sleeper but Kofi flipped Ziggler over. Ziggler retreated to the floor. When he returned Kofi cleaned house with a series of rights but wiped out when leaping towards Ziggler in the corner. Ziggler locked on a rear chinlock but Kingston came back and rolled him up for a two count. ZIggler nailed Kingston with a rolling snap mare for a two count, then scissored him as he worked Kingston on the mat. Kofi fought back and began nailing chops and a dropkick. He went for Trouble in Paradise but it was blocked. Kingston drilled Ziggler with a kick and then got a near fall after a beautiful high cross bodyblock. Kingston nailed the Boom Drop. He set up for Trouble in Paradise but Ziggler nailed him with an inverted suplex for a two count. Ziggler locked in the sleeper. Kingston fought his way out and then reversed it. Ziggler ran for the turnbuckles and drilled Kofi into it. Kofi came back with the Trouble in Paradise and scored the pin, but no title change. Real good back and forth opener. The fans were really into the near falls.
*Ring announcer Tony Chimmel introduced WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel, who came to the ring. Finkel welcomed everyone to the show and put over the Bret Hart Appreciation Night. He noted they would showing clips of Hart's famous moments from MSG as well as a special ceremony in the ring.
*They played a Bret Hart video package.
*WWE Tag Team champions Cody Rhodes & Drew McIntyre defeated Chris Masters & MVP. Drew and MVP started off. Drew caught him in the corner with a series of kicks. MVP came back with a knee to the back of the head for a two count. The frazzled Drew tagged in Cody. Masters tagged in and bounced his pics. Yep, that's what he did. He controlled Cody, running him headfirst into the buckles and chopping away at him. Rhodes came back with a kick to the face when Masters put his head down. He and Drew doubled on Masters. Masters finally tagged out and MVP cleaned house on Drew and Cody. Rhodes powdered out of the ring and McIntyre was hit with the Ballin' Elbow. Rhodes returned to the ring but was tossed out. Drew kicked MVP in the face and covered him but Masters broke it up. Rhodes tagged in and nailed MVP with a gourd buster for a two count. McIntyre tagged in and worked over MVP. The fans rallied MVP but Drew cut him off. Cody and Drew tagged in and out getting heat on MVP. Rhodes locked in a rear chinlock but MVP came back with the Electric Chair. Masters made the hot tag and worked over Rhodes with a high backdrop. Masters nailed a spinebuster and then cinched in the full nelson. Drew went to break it up but Masters let Rhodes go and caught him instead. He let Drew go and MVP nailed a clothesline over the top. Masters turned into the Cross Rhodes and was pinned. Not a bad match at all. The last few minutes were good.
*They aired a clip of Bret Hart winning his first WWF Intercontinental championship from Mr. Perfect.
*Alberto Del Rio pinned Chavo Guerrero . Rio, who was making his MSG debut, did some mic work talking about the history of the Garden, putting himself on the same level as Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano. He said he can't believe he came all the way from Mexico to find MSG is a dump and called his opponent, Chavo Guerrero, A "fake Mexican." Chavo put Del Rio's scark on Tony Chimel to mock him Del Rio got mad and chased Chavo, who's a babyface tonight, around the ring. Chavo goofed around early but Del Rio shoved him back. Guerrero nailed a dropkick. Del Rio tossed Chavo out but Guerrero returned and used a double leg takedown to pepper him with punches. Del Rio walked around on the outside and teased walking out. He returned right before nine, only to be dropkicked again and clotheslined. Del Rio cut off Guerrero with an enziguiri, which sent Chavo to the floor. He placed Chavo's hand against the rail and stomped it, then tossed him back in for a one count. Del Rio locked in an armbar. Del Rio controlled Chavo's arm. Guerrero made a comeback with several rights and a dropkick, then a flying head scissors. Del Rio went for a dropkick but missed and went through the ropes. Chavo nailed a plancha to the tope. Chavo nailed a flying bodypress for a two count, then hit a tornado DDT out of the corner for a two count. Del Rio cut off Chavo with a DDT. Del Rio set up for a superplex but Guerrero fought him off and hit a frog splash but Del Rio grabbed the ropes at the last second. Del Rio threw him shoulder first into the post twice, then circled him into the cross armbreaker for the submission. Another real good bout.
*They showed Bret defeating Yokozuna for the WWF championship at Wrestlemania XX.
*Kelly Kelly and Melina defeated WWE Divas champ Michelle McCool & Layla El. Melina and McCool opened. Kelly Kelly tagged in with a top rope sunset flip then began beating McCool's head into the mat. She knocked Layla off the apron but was kicked in the face by McCool. LayCool began using nefarious means to control the bout. Layla controlled Kelly with head scissors. McCool tagged in and drilled Melina to prevent a tag. LayCool continued working over Kelly. Melina made the hot tag and cleaned house on Layla. Melina went to slingshot into the ring but was pulled off and slammed facefirst into the apron by McCool. Kelly went to help but was clotheslined. Hornswoggle hit the scene and chased McCool around the ring but Layla attacked him. They tossed him in the ring but he Hulked Up, shaking the ropes like Ultimate Warrior. Before anything could happen, the babyfaces hit the ring and double clotheslined the heels and scored the pin. Layla got in Hornswoggle's face pointing so he bit her hand then her behind. McCool got in his face so he stomped her foot and hit a stunner. Big pop. Horny celebrated with the babyfaces and they all left. Match was solid.
*They played a video of Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin at the 1996 Survivor Series.
*Mark Henry pinned Jack Swagger. Swagger tried to lift Henry for a takedown which failed. Swagger powdered out and roamed around the ring to get heat. When he returned, Henry clobbered him then pressed and dropped him. He went to hit the Earthquake splash but Swagger moved and scored a two count. Swagger began beating Henry across the back and took his knee out from behind. Swagger nailed several Vader splashes off the ropes. Swagger kicked Henry off the apron and onto the floor, where Henry mounted a comeback and shoved Swagger into the apron. Swagger cut his leg off and began dropping knees across it. He locked in a step over toehold. Henry began kicking Swagger off but Swagger rolled him into the anklelock. Henry finally kicked him off but was was hobbling as he mounted his comeback. Henry slammed Swagger then rebounded off the ropes with a splash. He went for the World's Strongest Slam but his knee went out. Swagger went to the ropes and dove but was caught and hit with the WSS for the pin. It was about what you would expect.
*They brought out Ashley Valance, who showcased several pieces of WWE Merchandise as they were shilled, then tossed some shirts out.
After intermission, they had a ceremony honoring Bret Hart. Howard introduced Jerry Lawler, and the Hart Dynasty to take part. Finkel said it gives him a great pleasure to introduce Bret Hart, saying Bret was unequivocably was the "Best there was, best there is and the best there ever will be." Hart received a deserved standing ovation.
Finkel noted that tonight was the first 13 years that Bret graced The Garden (if you ignore the Rangers game a few days ago). They presented Bret with a photo of Bret and his mother, a photo of Bret posing with Owen Hart and a photo of Bret and his brothers. There was a huge "Owen" chant.
Madison Square Garden then presented Bret with a New York Rangers jersey with the number to commemorate the year Hart returned to the Garden. The fans chanted "Thank you Bret." Nice classy moment.
Bret Hart took the mic. He said 13 years was a long time and he doesn't think there was another city of Arena he missed more than NYC. He knew years ago he would return one more time to thank his fans because they were the best.
The Nexus' music played and out came Michael Tarver, Heath Slater and. Tarver said there was a problem and that was no one invited the Nexus. He said they were the best that ever will be. He said he wanted to offer Bret the gift of safety tonight and gave Bret a chance to join the Nexus. They went right into the match.
*Bret Hart & The Hart Dynasty defeated the Nexus with Jerry Lawler as the special guest referee. It was the first match in MSG for the Nexus. Tyson Kidd and Heath Slater started out. Kidd controlled and he and Smith tagged in and out working on Slater. Slater tagged Justin Gabriel who got caught with a scoop powerslam for a two count. Hart tagged in and began working over Gabriel's arm. He locked in an armbar and a flipped Justin over and tagged Kidd. Natalya slapped Gabriel when he went near the ropes. Kidd rebounded off the ropes with a dropkick. Gabriel missed a spinkick but sent Kidd over the top to the floor. Slater controlled Kidd when he returned. Kidd fought out of a rear chinlock as fans chanted "We want Bret." Kidd nailed an enziguiri (barely) but Tarver tagged in and controlled Kidd. Kidd battled back but was cut off and mauled in the corner. Kidd came back with a dropkick and tagged Bret. Bret worked over Slater with punches, then whipped him into the corner. Bret nailed Gabriel off the apron. He nailed Slater with an inverted atomic drop and elbow, then nailed a backbreaker and an elbow off the ropes. Slater went for a kick but Bret caught him and went for the Sharpshooter. Slater raked his eyes and went for a high knee but Bret moved and Slater nailed Tarver on the apron. Smith tagged in and cleaned house. Bret kicked Gabriel in the back as he rebounded off the ropes. The Dynasty went for the Hart Attack on Gabriel but Slater hit the scene so Kidd hit a springboard dropkick on him. Hart tagged in and locked in the Sharpshooter for the submission.
The Harts celebrated but the Nexus attacked the Dynasty, tossing them out of the ring. They cornered Bret and punched out Lawler but Lawler made the save punching out Tarver and Gabriel. Bret clobbered Slater and Lawler hit the fistdrop off the ropes. Bret then locked in the Sharpshooter on Slater, who furiously tapped. Bret and the Harts took a long time greetings fans at ringside after. The match was decent and Hart did more than anyone should have expected from him, but it was all secondary to the happy ending of Bret returning victorious to MSG. That ending was a classy, great moment. Kudos to all involved.
*Big Show pinned CM Punk. Punk took the mic and said hello to New York City. He said that instead of telling everyone about the cesspool they live in, he wants to tell them about a better place, Chicago and was going to tell them in the form of a song. He began singing about the Second City, getting some heat for it. Big Show's music cut him off. Punk mouthed off to a lot of fans at ringside as Show came to the ring. Show went to chop Punk, who ducked and went for some kicks. They were deflected and Show shoved him away. Punk went to the apron, then returned asking for a Test of strength. He went to kick Show but got caught. He failed trying to slap him and Show chopped him in the chest, then squeezed Punk against the corner and stinkfaced him. Show slammed Punk and walked over his chest. Show chopped Punk in the corner hard. Punk tried to escape but Show held onto his trunks and Punk ended up running in place. Show continued the chop assault, then backdropped Punk. Show went for the chokeslam but Punk raked his eyes. Punk went on the assault, raking, punching and kicking Show, who kept shoving him off. Punk finally got him down and went for a pin but Show pressed him off with a one count. Punk got on Show's shoulders for a sleeper hold. Show fought out and flipped Punk off, then clotheslined Punk and hit a back splash in the corner. Punk came back with a chop block, taking out Show's leg. Punk went for the springboard clothesline but was caught in mid-air and chokeslammed Punk, then nailed the KO punch for the pin. Match was OK. Punk worked really hard with his antics. Punk took a backwards bump through the ropes to the floor afterward as he was "dizzy and dazed" from the KO.
*WWE World champion Kane in a New York Streetfight. No Paul Bearer. Big pop for both. Taker attacked Kane right away and they went to the floor. Taker drilled him with a chair. Taker placed Kane against the ringpost and nailed him with shots. The fans chanted for Taker. Back in the ring, Taker continued to work over Kane until Kane grabbed the ring mic and hit him with it. Kane kicked Taker out of the ring and back to the floor. Kane beat Taker on the floor, slamming him into the ringpost. Kane continued beating Taker with bodyshots and knees to the midsection in the corner until Taker grabbed him by the goozle. Taker went for the chokeslam but Kane nailed him and hit one instead. Kane whipped Taker in the corner but Taker came out with a clothesline. Taker nailed Kane with a punch as he draped him across the apron. He nailed the guillotine legdrop. They battled in the aisle. Kane reversed a whip into the stairs. He tossed Taker back in the ring and began stomping him. Kane dropped an elbow on the hamstring and tied up Taker's leg. He continued the assault on Taker's leg, slamming it into the ringpost. Taker began fighting back but Kane cut him off. He grabbed the ring bell and slammed it across Taker's legs. Kane ascended to the top and nailed a clothesline for a two count. Taker tried to trap Kane in Hell's Gate but Kane slipped out. Kane and Taker slugged it out with Taker finally getting the better of the exchange. Taker ducked a clothesline and nailed the heat seeking missile. He nailed a big boot to Kane's face but went down selling the knee. Kane ducked a goozle and grabbed Taker in one. Taker grabbed Kane as well and went for a chokeslam but Taker was kicked low. Kane chokeslammed Taker for the pin. Decent main event. Interesting to note that the younger fans were way into everything in the match since the feud is fresh to the new generation.
Notes: The video packages were a great way to make the night unique and special...Hart's last appearance in MSG saw him defeating the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels to retain the WWF title in a dark main event of a Raw taping...They had a special T-shirt commemorating Hart's return...The show marked the first time in years WWE did not sell out MSG...They were selling signed Kofi Kingston photos for $15...WWE will have a Raw taping on 11/8 at the Nassau Coliseum and a 12/30 Smackdown house show at the IZOD Center, both of which were being pushed during intermission.
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