WWE's Cody Rhodes steals the show at Madison Square Garden
A man in Madison Square Garden's 200 level Thursday night answered his cell phone and excitedly said, "I'm at rasslin'" before correcting himself with the more proper "wrestling."
He was right the first time. The cage for the WWE tag-team title match was hurriedly constructed piece by piece in a fashion reminiscent of a '70s NWA show in some Appalachia church rec hall.
It was the kind of scene that the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes excelled in time after time, and Thursday son Cody Rhodes was equal to the task.
Despite dealing with a cage that shifted more than the San Andreas fault near the end of the bout, Rhodes scaled to the top and delivered a match-winning moonsault to retain the tag-team titles for himself and brother Goldust against the Real Americans team of Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro.
The cage was a far cry from the solidly built structures lowered onto rings for a Monday Night Raw main event or a pay-per-view battle, but that was not the only challenge. The Holiday Tour card lacked top draws like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, who were headlining a simultaneous WWE show in Chicago.
The MSG main event pitted champ Randy Orton vs. John Cena, but with a title change an impossibility at a non-televised event, a signature moment was needed. Rhodes provided just that, and before intermission, no less. The wrestling business is largely built on emergence combined with resurgence, and it’s getting more challenging to think of an example better than Cody reaching for stardom and older brother Dustin/Goldust regaining his form -- together.
Also on the card:
* Orton retained the title by getting disqualified for a low blow on Cena. Afterward Cena took the mic, put over the Madison Square Garden renovations and called MSG the "home" of WWE to end the show.
* Rey Mysterio, in his Spider Man outfit, beat Alberto Del Rio in a spirited opening match. It’s funny how guys can get more time to show their stuff at a house show than at a WrestleMania.
* Long Island’s own Zack Ryder got a quick roll-up pin on Brodus Clay.
* Fans voted for a Divas dance-off rather than a wrestling match, but got an eight-Divas tag anyway via orders from Brad Maddox. Fans who can tell Brie and Nikki Bella apart know which one got the pin on Alicia Fox.
* First, Curtis Axel lost to the masked Sin Cara, who is being portrayed by a replacement. When Axel bellowed to the back for a chance to redeem himself, The Great Khali came out and demolished him. Axel’s de-push is complete.
* Los Matadores and El Torito beat 3MB members Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal, along with Ricardo Rodriguez. The beauty of pro wrestling? All a 4-foot man needs is a white unitard and a bull mask, and he's a star!
* The Big Show beat Kane in a match refereed by WWE Hall of Famer Booker T. At one point Kane tried to chokeslam Booker, who responded with a kick. Big Show followed with a knockout punch on Kane for the pin.
* Booker T invited "Freebird" Michael Hayes out for a moonwalk, then Big Show tried his best Booker T impersonation with the world's biggest spinneroni.
* It was announced that the soon-to-return Dave Bautista will be at the next Garden show on March 8.