I got a bunch of 2006 Smackdown! stuff put onto a sort of mini-comp a few months back, and I'm finally starting to dig into it. Watched a couple Benoit/Orton matches and the Rey/Henry match from January a while back and they were all fuckin' great, so I'll probably ramble my ass off about those at some point, too.
Undertaker v Mark Henry (2/10/06)
This was really good. I’m not sure when people started to really turn the corner on Henry as a worker (don’t recall that many people being stoked for a Henry/Batista feud when he showed up again before the turn of 2006), but I’ve watched a nice little chunk of the stuff he’s been in from around this period and he’s been really awesome as a big nasty motherfucker; totally imposing and perfectly believable as a guy that’ll fuck you up. And I say this as someone that’s always been sort of apathetic towards him. Starts out with Henry overpowering Undertaker and more or less steamrolling him for a few minutes before taking an amazing bump into the ring steps to give Undertaker control. He really barrels into them and the top step completely tears away from the bottom step and flies right into the guardrail: made for an awesome visual, like Michael Strahan just tackled some kid getting a piggy back. Undertaker’s been one of my favourites for the last 4 years now and he’s a guy that seems to be able to work really well with pretty much anybody. He goes above and beyond to make Henry seem like the kind of person even a zombie should be wary of. Both guys are actually tops at playing up the whole idea of the opponent being a near unstoppable force, or whatever cliché you fancy. Henry’s really choice at working the back later on in the match as well, throwing some awesome looking forearms to the kidneys, standing on Undertaker with his entire bodyweight, etc. This isn’t as good as the Henry/Mysterio match from a few weeks earlier, but it’s a match I’ve never heard any of the big Mark Henry fans pointing to as a great Henry performance, and it really is.
Undertaker & Kurt Angle v MNM & Mark Henry (2/17/06)
Not as good as the Undertaker/Henry singles match, but this works fine as a lead in to Undertaker/Angle at No Way Out a couple days later. Those two spend most of the time they’re on offence trying to outdo the other in terms of how much shit they can put Mercury and Nitro through. One spot has Undertaker laying into Nitro in one corner while Angle is laying into Mercury in another, and after each flurry of strikes one guy will look at the other like “top that, then.” MNM were a great little team, bumping, stooging; the whole lot. Nitro is especially happy to pinball around for Undertaker here, at one point getting so much height on being tossed into the corner that he overshoots it and nearly impales himself on the ring post. Henry isn’t featured a whole lot, but when he is he’s mowing people down and doing what you want Mark Henry to be doing in a situation like this. There’s a great spot where Angle and Undertaker are arguing about something and Henry appears from nowhere to clothesline them both in the fuckin’ head. We also get an FIP spell from both Undertaker and Angle and man is ‘Taker a great hot tag, sprinting from corner to corner hitting clotheslines and murdering guys with boots to the face. There’s a gazillion matches from Smackdown! throughout ’06 that I’m really looking forward to seeing; this wasn’t really one of them. Shame on me, I guess, because I dug it quite a bit.