WWE Backlash 2006 4/30/2006

April 30, 2006
Rupp Arena
Lexington, KY
Attendance: 14,000
Buy Rate: .55
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler

Dark Match

Goldust (Dustin Runnells) defeated Rob Conway

Fun Fact: For our second straight PPV, Vince McMahon decided to call Jim Ross in off the sidelines to take control of the broadcast table, pushing Joey Styles off the show. Vince still was not completely happy with the way Styles was calling Raw, but there were also other reasons for the switch and it would lead to a full time Raw return for Ross, but we will get into that further in future reviews.

Fun Fact II: This is the Bluegrass State’s fourth PPV, and first since Judgment Day 2000. It’s also the first PPV held in Kentucky that’s not in Louisville.

Pay Per View

1) Carlito (Carly Colon) defeated Chris Masters (Chris Mordetzky) with the Back Cracker at 9:58

Fun Fact: On 4/3, Chris Masters quickly defeated a jobber. After the match, Carlito hit the ring, pretended to celebrate with Masters and then dropped him with a Back Cracker, stomped him and spit apple in his face, officially ending their partnership. The next week, Carlito agreed to take the Masterlock Challenge. After sitting down, Carlito tossed an apple in the air and Masters went to catch it. After he did, Carlito jumped up, grabbed the chair and knocked Masters over the head with it. On 4/17, Masters was able to get some revenge when he jumped Carlito and hooked him into the Masterlock.

Scott: The odd couple of heel newcomers has split apart. I guess Masters is the face? He’s getting booed, and Carlito’s getting chants from the Lexington crowd. Meanwhile it’s Carlito that turned on Masters. Throw a heel Matt Striker into the mix in that one Raw segment and I have no clue what the hell is going on here. If the reason to split these guys up was to have a match at this PPV, then frankly that’s…not cool. In fact it’s pretty stupid. They were a solid team that was getting some reaction from the crowd and almost pulled off an upset at Wrestlemania against Kane and Big Show. Earlier in the year they were the focus of an entire Elimination Chamber match. Now they’re split up, but Carlito is painted as the heel and is getting cheers. Brilliant. The match is pretty basic but I just can’t get past how stupid this entire feud was. I know they were pimping the Spirit Squad as Tag Team Champs, but these guys could have still been a team. It would have given the bookers more time to decipher that Carlito would probably have been the better babyface. Oh well, hindsight’s 20-20. At least Carlito won. Grade: 2

Justin: If we gave out awards for biggest surprise of the year so far, Carlito and Masters may just win it. They were a really effective heel team and now they were having a nice mid-card feud, something that was always a welcome addition to the card. Masters got some good heat for his entrance and he deserved it after working hard since his debut, in my opinion. The two former friends got off to a nice back-and-forth sequence capped by Carlito trying to hook a Masterlock. Carlito was really active and he was taking to the face role nicely. Masters fought back and snapped Carlito into the turnbuckles with a stiff powerbomb. He continued to focus on Carlito’s neck, softening him up for the Masterlock. After a well-timed comeback and a good battle over the Masterlock, Carlito would drop Masters with the Back-Cracker to pick up the hard fought win. This was a really good opener between two much improved young stars. The crowd stayed into things here and the match was structured really well. Carlito now moves on and looks to regain some gold as the summer starts. Grade: 2.5

2) Umaga (Edward Fatu) defeated Ric Flair (Richard Fleihr) with the Samoan Spike at 3:29

Fun Fact: Eddie Fatu, who we had last seen playing the role of Jamal from Three Minute Warning, portrays Umaga. After being released in June 2003, Fatu headed to Japan, where he competed until late 2005. In December, he resigned with WWE, and many assumed he would reunite with Rosey, as they began working dark matches together. However, before they could reunite on TV, Rosey was released from his contract. On April 3, Fatu would debut as Umaga, a native Samoan warrior, led to the ring by the eclectic Armando Alejandro Estrada. There were rumors out there at the time that independent darling Samoa Joe was being wooed to portray the controversial gimmick, but he was afraid of being typecast in the role and decided to stick with TNA instead.

Fun Fact II:
Hazem Ali began his WWE career in 2005 in OVW, portraying an Arabic bodyguard for Muhammad Hassan. After Hassan ascended to the main roster, Ali was rechristened Osama Rodriguez Alejandro and would wrestle as well as handle backstage interviewing duties. He would remain in those roles until being brought up to the main roster in April as Armando Alejandro Estrada, manager for the Samoan Bulldozer, Umaga.

Fun Fact III:
On 4/3, Ric Flair was cutting a promo in the ring when the debuting Armando Alejandro Estrada interrupted him. Armando talked about watching Flair on TV when he was a young boy in Cuba, but that Flair’s time was over. He then brought out Umaga, who proceeded to destroy Flair in the ring. The next week, Umaga made his official in ring debut, quickly squashing a jobber. Two weeks later, Umaga squashed another jobber, but after the match, Flair made his return. He knocked Umaga to the floor and it was then announced that the two would meet at the PPV.

This is probably the first time since the greatest wrestler ever returned to WWE in 2002 that Ric Flair was used wrong here. This guy is a sixteen-time World Champion, one of the greatest of all time, and here he’s a sacrificial lamb for a new gimmick. Sure this gimmick would turn out to be pretty successful, but at the time who knew? They don’t take some low-rent babyface hump to be thrown out there like Hardcore Holly. No they throw one of the greatest of all time. I don’t want anybody to tell me “But beating Ric Flair is a huge moment for this new Umaga character.” That’s a crock of manure and everybody knows it. I do like Armando Alejandro Estrada though, as any old school manager in new school WWE is good for me. However throwing one of the greatest of all time in here to be destroyed in three and a half minutes is a joke. These are the little things that annoyed me about the last few years of Ric Flair’s WWE career. He’s earned the respect that he shouldn’t have to be part of something like this. Where’s Billy Gunn when you need him? Grade: 0

Justin: With our second match, we get a major heel debut in Umaga. As soon as he rumbled out on Raw, many fans rolled their eyes at the stereotypical Samoan savage gimmick. The question would be whether or not he would be portrayed as a legit monster or just another goofy gimmick, and it will be interesting to track that as we go along. To his credit, Fatu really sunk his teeth into the gimmick and did a hell of a job portraying the animalistic savage role. Flair got a big pop as usual, but Umaga met him in the aisle and kicked off the brawling right out of the gate, and the wild fighting would continue all over the floor. Flair would bust out all his usual tricks, working the leg along the way, but Umaga swatted him off with a stiff assault. After battering Flair around, he jabbed him with the Samoan Spike and picked up the decisive win in his debut. This was clearly the beginning of a big time push and Flair was a good choice to put him over strong. Grade: 1.5

3) Trish Stratus (Patricia Stratigias) defeated Mickie James by disqualification at 4:05 when James refused to break a chokehold; James retains WWE Women’s Title

Fun Fact: On 4/3, Mickie James teamed with Candice to defeat Trish Stratus and Torrie Wilson. The mind games continued however, as Mickie came out dressed just like Trish, including having died her hair blonde. The next week, Mickie defeated Maria, but after the bout, Trish turned the tables and came out dressed and acting like Mickie. She then proceeded to kiss Mickie on the lips, freaking Mickie out and sending her scurrying to the back. On 4/17, things got weirder as Trish, dressed like Mickie, was in the ring with a giant box. Mickie came out and Trish opened the box to reveal her ex-boyfriend Jack tied up to a chair. Trish baited Mickie, saying that if she really were Trish, then she would care what happened to her boyfriend. Mickie took the bait and charged the ring, but Trish met her with a spinebuster and then took off. Mickie recovered and kicked Jack in the head for “cheating on her”. It was then announced that the two ladies would tussle at Backlash. Finally, on 4/24, Mickie gave up the charade, but Trish kept it going and when she came out, she kept finishing Mickie’s sentences. Finally things boiled over and the two brawled to put the finishing touches on the build. Both ladies would be back to their normal looks for the match here.

In what is their third PPV matchup of the year, the top diva faces the new crazy hot diva. For the first time in a while Trish Stratus is the challenger against the former fan/stalker that took her title at Wrestlemania. Both their previous matches were outstanding, in particular Wrestlemania where they really laid into each other. This match really didn’t get going since it was only four minutes and it was a lot slower and less organized. Both combatants look their hottest as usual, in particular Mickie who with every creepy look gets more hypnotizing to every male wrestling fan. Even the crowd is not totally into it. Mickie gets disqualified for choking Trish a second too long. Of course Trish messed her arm up falling off a turnbuckle earlier in the match so this was probably the “go-home” ending and it probably meant to be a few minutes longer. Oh well, it adds some unexpected time to the next match. Grade: 1.5

Justin: In her first PPV title defense, Mickie skips to the ring with a great celebratory showy gallop. I liked the twist this feud had taken over the past month, with Trish matching Mickie’s head games. Oh, she also looked smoking hot as a brunette. Early on, it looked like these two Divas were going to match the pace of their energetic Wrestlemania showdown, but things would quickly fall apart. Trish would climb up top, but Mickie shoved her off the buckle and when Trish tried to break her fall on the apron, she dislocated her shoulder in an ugly looking spot. They would try to fight for a minute after, but it was clear Trish was cooked. In an apparent improvised finish, Mickie continuously choked Trish until she was DQ’d, bringing a premature end to what was looking to be a fun match. In the end this ended up being a letdown, albeit an understandable one. Mickie still has her coveted gold and we will see if this feud continues once Trish heals up. Grade: 1

4) Rob Van Dam (Rob Szatkowski) defeated Shelton Benjamin to win WWE Intercontinental Title and retain Money in the Bank Briefcase with a five-star frog splash at 18:41

Fun Fact: On 4/10, Shelton Benjamin challenged Rob Van Dam for his MITB briefcase. RVD denied the offer, but instead challenged Shelton for his IC title. On 4/17, Charlie Haas made a surprise return and defeated his former partner. Due to a pre-match stipulation, Shelton’s IC title would be on the line in the Backlash match with RVD. Later in the night, Shelton begged Vince to fix things and Vince agreed after Shelton claimed to be a Vince disciple. Vince would have RVD face the Spirit Squad in a handicap match, and if RVD were to lose, the briefcase would also be on the line at Backlash. RVD was unable to overcome the odds and succumbed to the cheerleaders, therefore everything would be on the line at the PPV. The next week, RVD would pin Shelton in a six-man tag.

Scott: Our first real gem of the night pits Shelton Benjamin, whose singles career has been pretty solid over the past two years, against Mr. Money in the Bank. Of course the crowd is heavy pro-RVD against the IC Champ, but my question is why does Shelton have to attempt to be a Rock clone? He comes out with fancy button down shirt and sunglasses? This isn’t 1999, let’s come up with something a little more original. The match goes at a slow pace early with some grappling and minor submission moves, obviously because it’s probable these two will go all out in the last four minutes. Not having RVD around for a while was tough on the company, particularly on the Smackdown brand where he was when he got hurt. The match picks up when Shelton reverses a Rolling Thunder into a Samoan Drop and then he does his classic jump onto the top rope followed by a Superplex. The match finally picks up and both men go all out. RVD wins it with a Van Daminator using the MITB briefcase and then the Froggie for the win. RVD hasn’t had a push this big in his entire career, even in ECW. This was a big spike up for what has been a pretty bad show so far. Grade: 3

Justin: The RVD mega-push continues here as he marches to the ring a huge pop, MITB briefcase in hand. Things would build nicely in the beginning with a stalemate and then RVD frustrating Benjamin, keeping him grounded. Shelton would finally wrest control with a nasty powerbomb from the apron to the floor. The crowd started to really heat up as Shelton unleashed a methodical assault mixed in with some counters and stiff spots, including vicious kicks and the vaunted Shelton top rope leap into a superplex. I liked the dichotomy here as the match had an old school feel but featured modern day athleticism and high spots. RVD bounced back and dropped a really nice five-star for the win. This was well-worked and fun to watch. RVD now has some gold to go along with his briefcase and his super push rolls on. Grade: 3

5) Big Show (Paul Wight) and Kane (Glen Jacobs) fought to a no-contest at 9:30

Fun Fact: On 4/3, Big Show and Kane saw their dominant tag title run come to an end at the hands of the Spirit Squad. It was a pretty big upset, but the Squad used their three-man advantage to steal the belts. The next week, things continued to fall apart for Kane, as he angrily stormed off an interview while a trailer for his new movie “See No Evil” aired. Later that night, he and Show were set for a rematch with the Squad. Before the bout, Kane was shown backstage, struggling in agony as we heard the voices proclaiming “It’s Happening Again. May 19th. You can’t stop it” that racked his brain. Kane would snap during the match, throwing chairs into the ring and wiping everyone out, including the referee. After Show tried to calm him down, Kane grabbed him by the throat and dropped him with a chokeslam. On 4/17, Kane was taking on Rob Conway. After a quick win, he confronted Lillian Garcia and asked why she kept talking about May 19th, which was only true in his delusional mind. He then shoved Lillian to the floor, which drew Show out to save her. Show was then able to hit Kane with a chokeslam. Finally on 4/24, the two giants got into a backstage brawl that ended as Kane was trying to scratch Show’s eye out of its socket.

Just like in our first match, a great tag team that didn’t need to be broken up was. Kane is given the “kooky nutjob out in left field” story line every few years. So Kane has “May 19th” in his head all the time and it’s driving him bonkers. Kane’s movie “See No Evil” was coming out that day and of course the bookers decided to milk the movie by using it in a storyline. These two again are a great tag team but one-on-one this match is dreadfully slow with a lot of lumbering moves. Big Show’s got the nasty cut on his left eye from Kane ripping at the skin the previous week. The match is lumbering along, until the ring turns red and Kane’s voice is repeating itself with “May 19th” and “You can’t Stop It”. Big Show actually starts to feel sorry for him, then puts him out of his misery by clocking him with a steel chair. Big Show just leaves and the match just…ends. The crowd hates it, and pretty much so do I. This begins Big Show’s downward slide physically, as not only is he really getting heavy, but also his face just looks sick. He looks worse as the year progresses. Right now, the only thing that looked worse than Big Show was this match. Grade: .5

Justin: I think I can safely say this was quite the weird angle. I enjoyed the Show/Kane team while it lasted, but you knew it wasn’t going to last forever. So, Kane snaps and starts hearing voices rattling him about May 19th. The brawl the week before was pretty good, including Kane clawing at Show’s eye. As Scott mentioned, Show was looking awful here. He was really bloated, his eyes looked sunken in and he seemed to be rapidly gaining weight as the weeks went on. I liked that they had Lillian acting scared while Kane came out, playing off his assault a couple weeks back. Kane was aggressive out of the box but things quickly slowed into the usual bland big man strike-fest. Kane would work Show’s arm but the voices in his head would flare up again, as red lights enveloped the arena and the voices echoed throughout it. Kane would start to freak out and curl up in a fetal position in the corner. As Show came to, he acted a bit conflicted as to how to proceed, grabbing a chair in the process. Show would stare at Kane and the drill him in the head with the chair, putting an end to the lights and voices, giving Kane some mental peace. Show would then leave and the match just ends. This whole thing was a mess that most likely belonged either on Raw or should have remained in some writer’s notebook. Unfortunately for Kane, the torturous voices were not quite done with him yet. Grade: 1

*** Backstage, Candice Michelle comes into Vince’s locker room, complaining of a chest cold and asking Vince to heal her. After Vince tries laying his hands in various places, Candice has him put his hands on her breasts and he demands the demon to leave her body. Candice would moan, yell and writhe on the floor as Vince yelled. Shane eventually came in and broke things up. ***

6) Vince & Shane McMahon defeated Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) & God (Yahweh) in a No Holds Barred match when Vince pinned Michaels after the Spirit Squad threw him through a table at 19:59

Fun Fact: On 4/3, Vince McMahon appeared in a neck brace to confront Shawn Michaels. He told Shawn that he only won at Wrestlemania due to divine intervention and that Shawn could not win this war. He then told Shawn that he would be teaming with God to take on Vince and Shane at Backlash. Vince took things to a whole other level a week later when he and Shane visited a church. Vince would spit Holy Water like Triple H, yelling at God, reciting his own commandments and then daring God to strike him down. When nothing happened, Vince claimed that God had forsaken Michaels. On 4/17, Vince kicked off Raw by talking about his religion: McMahonism, where he was the ruler of all sports entertainment. He claimed that he would force Shawn to bow down to him, but Michaels got the last laugh as he snuck through the crowd and drilled Vince with a Superkick. Later that night, Michaels was wrestling Umaga, but got knocked out by the Samoan spike. Vince then came in the ring, tied Shawn in the ropes and slid outside to grab a chair. As he tried to get back inside, two random pyro explosions blocked his path. He freaked out and went up the ramp, but a wall of fire shot up and blocked him from ringside once again. Finally on 4/24, Shawn was wrestling Shane when Vince interfered and hit Shawn with the ring bell. Shane would then put Shawn through the announce table with an elbow as Vince crowd that God had abandoned Michaels again.

Fun Fact II: According to various rumors, Vince McMahon was still working hard to get Bret Hart to work an angle based on their past. Vince had Bret penciled into team with Shawn here instead of God, but when Bret rebuffed their advances, Vince turned to Plan B and put his obsession with bringing Bret back to bed for a few more years.

Scott: Hmm…where to start here. Apparently Vince was begging Bret Hart to be at Wrestlemania to referee his match with Shawn Michaels. When that didn’t happen, he asked Bret to be Shawn’s partner in this match. That didn’t happen. So, he came up with…this? Now as a practicing Catholic, I wasn’t offended with this. It’s Vince, and being a wrestling fan for twenty-three years at this point, nothing offends me anymore. However I’m sure many were clearly offended using the Almighty as a storyline pawn. Either because their religious, or because their intelligence was insulted that Vince and the bookers came up with such a colossal piece of crap for a storyline. The first five minutes of the match, after Vince took forever talking to “God”, was pretty exciting, as Shawn beat Shane down on the stage, and then he gives Vince a high cross body off of the stage to one of those usual “soft stages” below. This match was essentially Shane and Shawn battling and Vince acting like a horse’s ass. The McMahons eventually take control and give Shawn a pretty decent beating. I guess what makes me mad is that instead of just making it a handicap match, which of course it was, they pull all this “Holy Roller” junk. Vince going into a church on Raw and what not was just unnecessary crap. Vince then accuses “God” of running out on his tag team partner. I want to like this match because there is a good amount of action in it, but the storyline and all the histrionics just ruin it. Of course the “no holds barred” storyline was simply to have the Spirit Squad come in, after Shawn got Shane to hit Vince with a chair and then beat Shane down to the point of victory. Shawn superkicks both of them, and he does some DX chops, becoming more prevalent of late, and could have easily won the match. But Shawn grabs a couple of tables to allow for more punishment. Of course Shawn’s dawdling with finding a ladder and laying the McMahons on the tables was nothing more than a stalling tactic to get the Spirit Squad in to beat Shawn down and give WWE’s first family the victory. The match is choppy but the storyline is so insulting, not Katie Vick insulting, but pretty close, that I can’t even grade it as well as the match alone probably deserves. Grade: 1.5

Justin: This epic feud continues on after taking an insane twist over the last few weeks. On the surface, I can see why some fans may have been offended here, and I will say that Vince did push things a little too far, but in my opinion, it is just a show and over the top stuff like this comes with the package. I won’t say I agree with what Vince was doing, but it is his prerogative to take on God with stuff like this. God’s entrance was…interesting to say the least as Vince brings him out to some funky music while he did his own classic dancing. Vince would then announce that the match was going to be No Holds Barred. Michaels got a warm reception from the crowd and they amped up even more for Shawn’s manic offense as he fought off both men early. A stiff brawl would break out on the stage and was capped with a great cross body by Shawn, sending both Vince and himself careening off it and through a staging area below. We would get the usual sick Shawn bladejob and he was bleeding buckets during a well-done heat segment with Shane. Vince would make his way back into the match and was taken to task by an angry JR as he whipped Michaels with his belt. The McMahon men continued to dominate and Vince would continue to mock God, but things turned when Shane crushed Vince with a sick chair shot by accident. The crowd was insane by the time Shawn unleashed two Superkicks and a crotch chop and then decided to pull a ladder out from under the ring. Just as he was about to leap onto the McMahons, he changed direction and dove to the floor, where he careened onto the Spirit Squad, who had just come down to ringside. The Spirit Squad shook it off and was able to take Shawn down and wrestle him back into the ring to some great heat. They would then set up a table and hoist Shawn way into the air and then through the table, giving the McMahon boys the win. While I agree with Scott’s take on the angle and Vince’s actions, I am not going to let it affect my grading of the match. I thought this was a great brawl and the red-hot crowd bumps the grade even higher for me. Shawn eats a hard fought loss but once again, this feud is far from over. Grade: 3.5

Fun Fact: Matthew Kaye was a part time substitute teacher who spent the rest of his time wrestling on the Indy circuit since his debut in 2000. After getting hired to teach full time in 2004, he would use eleven sick days to compete in Japan. He also competed in a televised Kurt Angle Invitational in early 2005 under the name of Matt Martel. Once it was discovered, the school district began investigating things, leading to Kaye resigned him position in April 2005. Trying to take advantage of the notoriety, WWE brought him back in and he challenged Angle again for two weeks in a row. Angle would expose Martel as being Indy wrestler Matt Striker that had been fired as a teacher for lying. After his two-week stint, Striker would become a Heat and developmental territory regular. On the 12/12 Raw, Striker debuted his new gimmick, an uptight, condescending know-it-all teacher, during a segment known as Matt Striker’s Classroom. Unfortunately, just as he was getting going, Striker suffered a shoulder injury later that week in a house show match. In January, his Classroom would return to Heat and eventually back to Raw.

*** Trying to spell the crowd after that red-hot brawl, Matt Striker comes to the ring to teach the crowd for a bit. He would rag on Kentucky a bit before bringing out a hometown boy: Eugene. Striker would belittle him a bit and they would have some playful banter. The lowlight came when Eugene picked his nose and caught by Striker in the midst of it. Eugene would then feed the booger to Striker before dropping him with a stunner. This whole thing was pretty stupid and not even Striker’s great heel delivery and condescending attitude could save the awful segment. I was really sick of Eugene at this point and having him out there picking boogers from his nose was really just taking things to an even lower standard for an already embarrassing character. •••

7) John Cena defeated Triple H (Paul Levesque) and Edge (Adam Copeland) to retain WWE Championship when he pinned Triple H with a roll-up at 17:34

Fun Fact: On 4/3, both Triple H and Edge confronted John Cena and demanded a title match. Cena suggested that the two compete to determine the number one contender, but Edge said he was in no shape for a singles match. He then suggested that the two team up to face Cena and Cena accepted the challenge. Hunter and Edge would win the match after Hunter planted Cena with a Pedigree. The next week it was announced that Cena would face both men in a triple threat match at the PPV and that Hunter and Cena would now team up to face Edge in a handicap match later that night. Cena and Hunter would win when Cena hooked Edge in the STFU. After the match, Hunter hit Edge with the Pedigree and Cena dropped Hunter with an FU. On 4/17, the cycle was completed as Triple H was on the short end of the handicap match. Edge would get the win for his team when he planted Hunter with a spear. After the match, Hunter hit Cena with his sledgehammer.

Scott: Our main event can hopefully save this debacle of a show. First off, love the “On Your Knees Dog” sign right in front of the camera, referencing the “King of Kings” theme song. I’m still a little rankled over The Game’s Wrestlemania loss, and on top of the fact this show has been a piece of crap so far I’m a little antsy. Good back and forth storytelling early as everyone has a role: Cena the face with boos, Triple H the heel with cheers, and Edge the worm everyone hates, but wouldn’t mind see winning the title. The action is non-stop as you have usual pairing off of two guys every few minutes. Triple H looks like the old school warrior as he is whipped into the steel post outside by Edge and he’s busted wide open. Edge and Cena work in the ring and while Cena has him in the STFU the bloodied Triple H comes in and cracks Cena with the microphone. Triple H then kills Edge with a vicious chair shot outside and survives two STFUs. Edge goes to the top and Cena fights with him, which leaves Triple H free to double power bomb them off the top rope. Lita comes in, more chaos ensues, and Cena hits a roll up on Triple H out of nowhere for the win. Screwed Again Damnit! This time Triple H has had enough of this miscreant’s crap. In maybe one of my favorite Triple H moments of all time, he grabs the sledgehammer and pastes Cena, Edge and the referee all in the span of ten seconds. He leaves after DX chopping the combatants, the crowd’s going crazy and JR’s trying to keep him a heel. Sorry big guy, it’s not working here. This match was great, as Edge definitely shows he’s a main eventer now and kept pace, and Cena to his credit is playing off the Bizarro energy of the crowd against and for him. Thank god this match was as good as it was, because it may have saved this show from total oblivion. Grade: 4

Justin: I like the mix of talent here for our main event, as Triple H was actually feeling kind of fresh after his mid-card spell and Edge was still a fresh player as well. Add in a champion like Cena that was as hated as he was loved and we have a pretty hot feud. Although in this case, it wasn’t quite a split crowd for Cena as he was soundly booed throughout and it was clear that Hunter was the fan favorite. As the bell sounded, Edge bailed to the floor and allowed Cena and Hunter to renew their Wrestlemania war. As Edge continued to stand on the apron and laugh, Hunter and Cena finally had enough; pulled Edge into the ring and double-teamed him, wrecking him on the floor. Hunter would then turn on Cena and they would battle for a bit before Edge got back into things. In a pretty cool spot, Cena went outside the box, ascended the top rope and came crashing off onto Edge with a splash. The pace was great here as there were no slow spots, with each man alternating on offense to stay fresh. Cena would hoist Hunter up for an FU, but Edge broke it up with a spear. Always looking to top his buddy Shawn Michaels, Hunter upped the ante with a gross blade job that just covered his face in a thick coat of red. Cena would take Edge down into an STFU, but before he could tap Hunter reached in and held Edge’s hand up. Hunter then cracked Edge with a sick chair shot to the head, which as always I feel is completely ignorant and unnecessary. Despite that stupidity, overall this was a really vicious match and the crowd was quite into it. The crowd got even hotter when Hunter survived an STFU to keep the match going. Edge finally got back into the match but Cena trapped him on the top rope before hoisting him onto his shoulders. Before Cena could take Edge down, Hunter snuck up, planted himself under Cena and hit a great super electric chair onto both men. Hunter would grab his sledge to a big pop, but before he could use it, he cranked Cena with a low blow before he could FU Edge. Edge would be taken out of the picture and Cena rolled Hunter over for a flash pin to retain his title once again. It definitely came off like a lucky win, but it’s hard to say it was completely lucky after a brutal war like that. After the bell, Hunter snapped and wiped everyone out with the sledgehammer before crotch chopping his way into everyone’s hearts. This was a red hot, crazy, wild and fun brawl that saved this show from being a complete disaster. Grade: 4.5

Final Analysis:

Scott: Well, I can keep this very concise: Everything up to the main event was complete garbage. From the nonsense of breaking up two pretty good tag teams to stunting what has been a great women’s feud to embarrassing an all-time great for the sake of a gimmick to that absolutely nonsensical Vince/Michaels junk, this show that was coming off a pretty solid Wrestlemania was embarrassing and insulting. Then the main event came along and three in-ring warriors put on a great match that saved the show, but not really. The overall package of matches was a joke but the main event will be remembered as a pretty solid affair amongst all the junk. Triple H and Michaels are starting to…shall we say…re-link their past? We’ll see if it comes to fruition. 2006 has been an up and down year month to month. This time around, is a very big down. Final Grade: D (Yes the main event may have saved it from an F for me).

Justin: Well, well where do we start on this one. I am not going to pound it quite as hard as hard as Scott, that’s what she said, and that is mainly because I rated the McMahon/Michaels brawl a bit higher than he did. I also want to credit the Lexington fans for being so rabid and into the show, despite what a mess it really was. The show did feature three really good matches, with two being violent bloody brawls. The booking was suspect and the show did contain some crap like the Kane/Show debacle and the Striker Classroom segment, but those three matches really took up a good chunk of the show, so it should be weighted that way. The whole time I was watching this show, I had it earmarked for a pretty bad grade, but as I wrote it and the more I thought about it, I think three matches really balance out the crap to leave us with a straight thumbs in the middle show. The true question for Raw is to see where the show goes from here. Will the McMahon/Michaels war continue to dominate the show? Where do Cena, Edge and Triple H go from here? What is next for the Kane angle and how far will RVD be elevated? These were key factors that will help determine if this was just a speed bump for Raw or a warning sign for a brand that was heading down the wrong path. Final Grade: C

MVP: Triple H, John Cena & Edge
Runner Up: Rob Van Dam
Non MVP: Vince McMahon
Runner Up: Ric Flair

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