365 Wrestling, Day 12: Paul London & Brian Kendrick vs. William Regal & Dave Taylor (SmackDown, 1/12/07)

365 Wrestling, Day 12: Paul London & Brian Kendrick vs. William Regal & Dave Taylor (SmackDown, 1/12/07)

365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

William Regal is an all-time favorite of mine. He can bust out some smooth technical wrestling, or throw down in a brawl. He’s shined as both a singles and tag wrestler, as a standalone character, part of a group, or in a henchman-type role. While he spent the bulk of his in-ring career as a heel, he did some fine work on the babyface side of things during alliances with Eugene and Tajiri that both led to eventual tag title runs. Within wrestling, there are few who are held in as high regard for their craftsmanship as the native of Blackpool, England, who was released from WWE earlier this month after more than two decades with the company.

Today, we’re taking a look at a match from SmackDown in 2007, where Regal teams with fellow Englishman Dave Taylor to challenge Paul London and Brian Kendrick for the WWE Tag Titles.

You can watch this match on Peacock:

The Match

London and Kendrick have been champs since the previous May, an eight-month reign that already had set the record as the longest run with the titles since they were introduced in 2002 following the first time WWE worked a brand split. They’ve crossed paths with the two Brits a few times before this, and notably in a four-team ladder match titles the prior month at the Armageddon pay-per-view that is worth watching (but not for the squeamish as Joey Mercury suffers a ghastly facial injury).

On this episode of SmackDown, Regal and Taylor approach the champs backstage reminding them this will be a straight-up wrestling match, with no ladders or other shenanigans.

Now to the actual match, where Regal and Taylor play the heel role quite well as a pair of rugged wrestlers with technical skill. They spend the first few minutes feeding into the fast-paced, occasionally high-flying offense of the champions. London and Kendrick have a major size disadvantage and tag frequently. Note the sequence with three straight tags and immediate attacks off the top targeting the back of Regal, punctuated by a London double stomp.

Current fans of WWE are used to sweetened crowd noise by now but it’s become the norm for the blue brand for years. It’s off-putting to hear these big oooh’s and ahhh’s during the hot tag by Kendrick and finishing stretch, while all the fans on camera are sitting there, silent and passive. Regal reverses a cross body by Kendrick into a pin attempt for a convincing near-fall, and shortly thereafter, Kendrick catches Regal in a backslide for the sudden victory. The facial expressions and mannerisms of both challengers selling this sudden and crushing loss are pretty great.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Final Rating: 5.0

There’s plenty of good talent in this match and while there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing, there’s also not anything to make it really stand out, either. That said, itt’s something to go back and watch WWE television that is 15 years old and watch a product that looks and feels pretty much the same as the current stuff.

What’s Next

We take a step into the world of joshi.

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365 Wrestling, Day 1: Rey Mysterio, Jr., vs. Tajiri (SmackDown, 1/1/04)

365 Wrestling, Day 1: Rey Mysterio, Jr., vs. Tajiri (SmackDown, 1/1/04)

365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

The first installment in the project and we’re kicking things off by spotlighting two of my all-time favorites.

Rey Mysterio, Jr. has slowed down some, naturally, after the pile-up of years and injuries but his appeal, his style and many of his signature moves remain, in many ways, timeless. Tajiri, meanwhile, is a fine example that a wrestler doesn’t have to take a turn as a headliner to be memorable. Tajiri spent his entire time in American wrestling in the midcard, but his look, style and charisma paved a path to success for the Japanese Buzzsaw in WWE and ECW. Like Mysterio, Tajiri is still active. Though he’s slowed down more than Rey, Tajiri became MLW Openweight Champion near the end of 2021.

You can check out this match on Peacock. You can also watch a clip from the match in the video above.

The Match

Rey gets one more crack at Tajiri, who dethroned Mysterio for the Cruiserweight Title the previous September. Tajiri’s reign included him bringing on two lackeys to watch his back and interfere on his behalf, Akio (better known as Jimmy Yang) and Sakoda.

This culminates a four-month rivalry between Rey and Tajiri, and their familiarity shines through in this one. Rather than go right at one another, and flying around the ring, at the opening bell, they opt for a more patient, mat-based battle in the opening minutes. Each man anticipates key offense of the other: Rey blocks signature Tajiri maneuvers like the springboard back elbow and the Tarantula, while, late in the bout, Tajiri avoids a springboard senton by Rey with a sweet counter to a half crab on the left leg, which is the main target of Tajiri’s offense for most of the match.

After relying on a distraction from Akio and interference by Sakoda to get control of the match, Tajiri really works over that leg. The highlight of that attack is a pinpoint standing dropkick to the knee while Rey is hanging upside down in the Tree of Woe.

The finishing stretch is strong with each man scoring a very believable false finish. Ultimately, Rey foils interference by Akio and Sakoda, hooking Tajiri with a huracanrana into the pin to become two-time Cruiserweight Champ.

Final Rating: 7.6

This is a very good match that showcases both Rey and Tajiri in their primes. Everything flowed well and looked good. At under 12 minutes (counting entrances, and minus an early segment of the match we don’t see due to the commercial break), this is a brisk, action-packed match with real stakes, a strong narrative centered around Rey’s left leg, and a satisfying, definitive conclusion. Seek out this match if you haven’t seen it.

What’s Next

We head to Japan and ring in 2013 with a death match.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

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