WWE Vengeance 2006 6/25/2006

June 25, 2006
Charlotte Bobcats Arena
Charlotte, NC
Attendance: 6,800
Buy Rate: .84
Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

Dark Match

Val Venis (Sean Morley) defeats Rob Conway

Fun Fact: This is North Carolina’s seventh PPV and first since Judgment Day 2003. It’s Charlotte’s third PPV all-time.

Pay Per View

1) Randy Orton defeats Kurt Angle with the RKO at 12:45

Fun Fact: On the 6/12 Raw, Randy Orton issued a rematch challenge to Kurt Angle, looking for revenge from his loss the night before. On the 6/20 ECW, Angle teamed with Rob Van Dam to defeat Orton and Edge in a tag match.

Fun Fact II:
After an illustrious career, this is Kurt Angle’s final WWE PPV appearance. After this show, Angle sporadically appeared on ECW TV and was set to challenge for the ECW Title at Summerslam. However, things were quickly spiraling out of control backstage as Angle’s mental and physical health was becoming a major concern. There were even rumors out there that many backstage in WWE had Angle on death watch due to his constant pain and painkiller addiction. On August 25, Angle was officially released from WWE, something that seemed impossible to think about earlier in the year. Angle has since claimed that he asked for a release because he had requested time off to heal in addition to a lighter schedule and was refused. There were also rumors that WWE wanted him to go into rehab and he refused. Regardless, many pundits believed it would only be a matter of months before Angle perhaps went the way of his friend Eddie Guerrero if he didn’t slow down and get his life in order. In early 2007, Angle was named in a steroid ring report by Sports Illustrated as one of a number of wrestlers that had been receiving illegal steroids. It was also revealed that Angle had failed a WWE Wellness Exam at some point as well. On September 24, 2006, TNA officially announced that they had signed Kurt Angle. Many insiders and fans were surprised that Angle would jump ship and also looked at TNA as a callous promotion for taking advantage of a wrestler with the rumored issues that Angle had been suffering from. Those initial concerns were eventually eradicated, as it seems the softer schedule helped Angle get himself straightened out and allow his body more time to heal. As of early 2011, Angle is still one of TNA’s top stars and has been a fixture atop their main event scene since his debut. His final WWE PPV record is 37-37. He went 3-5 at the Rumble, 3-5 at Wrestlemania, 6-1 at the King of the Ring, 5-1 at Summerslam, 3-4 at the Survivor Series, and 17-21 at other events. His best year came in 2003, when he went 5-2.

Scott: A sad day, very sad day. Here we say farewell to one of the most enduring superstars of the entire decade. A guy who rarely took a PPV off for anything and always brought his best, regardless of whether it was Shawn Michaels or Mark Henry. Kurt Angle brought 100% of himself to every PPV match he was in, whether it was a title match or a mindless opening match. However by this time Angle was upset at his place in the company and WWE was upset that Angle was taking so much HGH he made Barry Bonds’ head look like a marble. Angle was unstable both physically and mentally but Angle has stated that WWE wouldn’t give him time off. I find that very odd and for the most part things are very hazy about what happened at the end here. Well as of this writing, January 2011, Angle’s been in TNA for five years now. That’s longer than I honestly thought. Anyway his final match is pretty dull. For me this match began Orton’s slow regression of ability. His matches were boring, his promos were hideous and his backstage attitude apparently sucked. No wonder Angle didn’t want to lose to him on his way out the door, as he’s been sitting on a boring headlock for a few minutes. Angle picks up the pace with his patented suplexes and constant clubbing of the frat boy smart ass. The crowd isn’t bad, but for only 6,800 they should be louder. I’m amazed at how WWE is surviving with these sparse crowds the past couple of years on their secondary PPVs. WCW had these numbers in the early 90s and we all laughed about it. Angle gets the Anklelock and we’re expecting a similar end to their One Night Stand affair, but this time Orton gets to the ropes, and Angle whacks an exposed turnbuckle. One RKO later and Kurt Angle’s WWE career is over, for now, we hope. Overall not a bad match but after their ONS match this was a little flat. Grade: 2

Justin: Two weeks after their previous stiff war at One Night Stand, these two step back in the ring to go at it again. Early on we got a mix of matwork and some stalling by Orton, who was trying his hardest to avoid Angle’s grasp. While One Night Stand was now in the books, Jerry Lawler would keep his vendetta against ECW going here as he trashes the promotion and their style, a style that exemplified by a nasty German suplex on the floor by Angle. Orton fought back and brought some of his own hard-hitting offense, but slowed things down a bit with a lengthy chinlock. Angle broke free and then unleashed an insane suplex flurry that included a series of eight straight Germans. It was nuts and it was kind of overkill to be honest. Orton would survive the Anklelock and would eventually shove Angle into an exposed turnbuckle and then drop him with an RKO for the win. The flow of this match was kind of off and it seemed like they never really got into the match. After their slugfest at ONS, I was disappointed in their outing here as I was expecting more from them. I was also further disappointed that this was the way Kurt Angle’s WWE PPV career ended. After all of the gems and classics he had produced he goes out with a whimper, and as an afterthought curtain jerker on an underwhelming show. Since his debut, Angle was one of my favorite performers due to his tremendous charisma, in ring work and promo ability. I was sad to see him slowly slip into apparent insanity at this time and due to stories I was reading I was kind of worried for him when he signed with TNA. I really thought it was be the final nail in his coffin if he kept wrestling and wanted to see him hang it up. I was proven wrong, though, as Angle seemingly got himself together and has been reinvigorated in the TNA ring. As far as our reviews go, losing Angle will be a big blow to the quality of these shows. Orton gets his win back and moves on as we wave farewell to a legend. Grade: 2

*** Backstage, a handicapped child in a wheelchair visits Vince McMahon. As the kid asks Vince for an autograph, Vince starts to assume this is just another DX setup so he pushes the kid’s chair down the hallway, sending him crashing into a wall. Jonathan Coachman then shows up and tells Vince that a family friend who is handicapped was coming to meet Vince and Coach hoped Vince would do him a favor and chat with the kid. Of course, the joke was that the kid was Coach’s friend and not a DX ruse. The segment was goofy but continued to push the angle of Vince cracking due to DX’s antics. ***

2) Umaga (Edward Fatu) defeats Eugene (Nick Dinsmore) with the Samoan Spike at 1:39

Fun Fact: On 6/5, Eugene faced off with Matt Striker, and introduced Jim Duggan as his tutor. After Duggan ran Striker off post match, Umaga showed up and destroyed Duggan. The next week, Umaga defeated Duggan in a match and then tied Eugene in the ropes and forced him to watch as he wrecked Duggan once again.

Fun Fact II:
This is Eugene’s final WWE PPV appearance. Eugene would remain on TV, bouncing around from Raw to Heat to Smackdown, through August 2007. His run would also include a short heel turn that was quickly aborted. On September 1, he was officially released. After bouncing around the Indy scene for a while, he signed back with WWE in July 2009 to perform on TV in addition to a role as a trainer. This run would be short lived, as he was released from both roles on August 14, four days after his lone TV appearance. After leaving WWE, Dinsmore headed to Canada where he began performing in WFX as U-Gene, teaming with former Bushwhacker Luke Williams. His final WWE PPV record is 2-5.

Fun Fact III:
Along with a cameo appearance by Doink and Kamala, Jim Duggan makes his first in ring WWE PPV appearance since rejoining the company in an active legends contract role. After spending eight years in WCW, including a well-publicized bout with cancer, Duggan hit the Indy scene after WCW closed down, including a brief run in TNA. He mended his WWE fences in 2005, showing up at the October Raw Homecoming special and Taboo Tuesday events. He popped up again after the 2006 Royal Rumble and would remain on TV, mainly serving as Eugene’s mentor between his return and this show. The last time Duggan was inside a WWE ring on PPV was the 1993 King of the Ring.

Scott: As much as this match is a colossal piece of crap, I love Armando Alejandro Estrada! I of course am always a mark for old school managers. Eugene wants backup and out comes…ugh Jim Duggan. Are you kidding me? I should just skip this match but I promised back when Justin and I started these pieces of literary greatness that I would watch every match, even these. I’m am pleased to see Doink make his return, although I wish it was the heel Matt Borne Doink with the arm cast filled with batteries. We finish the legends trifecta with the arrival of Kamala who hasn’t been a threatening heel since 1986. The match is a squash for the most part as Umaga destroys our tired stale reject from bell to bell. I’m surprised Duggan didn’t go in to hit him with a 2×4 so the crowd can cheer more babyface cheating. We don’t have Gorilla here to try and justify it. Umaga takes care of all the legends rejects except Kamala. They have a match on Raw the next night and Umaga takes care of him too. What a mess. Grade: .5

Justin: As he continues to be pushed like a true monster, Umaga looks to continue his tour of destruction. Armando Estrada was great in his role and always cracked me up with his prematch rantings. Eugene brings out his tutor, Jim Duggan, alongside a surprise return by Doink and Kamala as well. I am not really sure why they bothered, but I guess it was just to have more fodder for Umaga to destroy. And destroy he does, as he quickly squashes Eugene before wiping out the legends. The Umaga train rolls on and for the second straight match, we say farewell to a mainstay, this time Eugene. What started out as an intriguing character quickly devolved into an offensive stereotype and eventually into a played out character that elicited more groans than cheers, so I don’t think too many fans were upset when Eugene was finally bid farewell in the summer of 2007. Grade: .5

*** In a backstage interview, Mick Foley reads an excerpt from Ric Flair’s book. The excerpt focused on Flair’s feelings on Foley being nothing more than a stuntman. Foley then promises to outwrestle Flair tonight, to prove that he is more than just a brawler. This was an excellent and heated promo to add more fire to an already hot storyline. ***

3) Ric Flair (Richard Fleihr) defeats Mick Foley in Best of Three Falls Match at 7:00

Ric Flair pins Mick Foley with an inside cradle at 4:08
Ric Flair wins by Disqualification when Mick Foley uses a garbage can at 7:00

Fun Fact:
On 6/12, Mick Foley was in the ring talking about One Night Stand when Ric Flair interrupted him. Flair wanted to confront Foley and elaborate on things he said about Foley in his book. Flair was pissed off that Foley could become a star by being thrown off a cage instead of earning it like others had to. Foley retorted that fans were too young to remember all of Flair’s classic matches and that Flair was just angry that Foley could take him apart at will. Flair challenged him to a match, but Foley said he was too banged up from the night before and instead challenged him to a best of three falls PPV match and Flair accepted. The next week, Foley cost Flair a match against Edge by applying the mandible claw from the ring apron.

Scott: I was getting so excited to see these two legends, with some real life tension. On top of the fact we’re in…wait for it…Flair Country. We’re in Charlotte, the birthplace of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, and the Crocketts. Mick Foley wavered during the buildup to this match whether he was going to actually care about it or not. Honestly the match is another colossal waste of time. We see a lot of posturing, then Flair wins the first fall with a small package, then the rest of it feels like it’s in slow motion as Flair has Mick in the Figure Four and Foley whacks him with a garbage can for a DQ and the end of the match. Foley tries to salvage this mess by beating Foley with “Barbie” and busting Flair open. All the hype and the long-standing tension and we get this. I know they were planning a Summerslam rematch, but geez they could have at least put something together that was relatively watchable. This, along with this show so far, was not. Grade: 1.5

Justin: This may have been one of the most anticipated feuds in a long time. It featured two of the greatest promo men in history and was based on real life heat between the two men. After a weak 2005, Mick Foley has brought his vintage fastball in 2006, participating in three tremendous feuds that were well built, red hot and fueled by violence. I also liked the curveball thrown by Foley here, challenging Flair to a straight wrestling match and promising to outduel him in it. Flair gets a huge pop in his backyard and would ground Foley early, wrestling him to the mat. Foley came back through some stiff brawling and a stiff DDT. In a funny spot, Foley pulled out a custom Mr. Socko that was made up like Flair. The crowd booed that one pretty vociferously. Foley started to work the knee, but things turned quickly when Flair rolled him over into an inside cradle to win the first fall. Foley began to panic a bit and things devolved into a brawl on the floor, with Foley gaining some nice heat. Back inside, Flair hooked in the figure four and a desperate Foley reached back and grabbed a trashcan, which he then whipped into Flair’s head, drawing a disappointing DQ. After the match, Foley snapped and bloodied up Flair with a barbed wire bat to ensure this feud would continue. I was pretty disappointed by this match, as it didn’t come close to living up to the hype. The only positive was that it told a nice story in that Foley couldn’t beat Flair with wrestling so he had to turn to brawling and weapons to gain an advantage, and that would set up their rematch nicely. The match itself had good heat but was choppy and clearly only existed to set up the next step of their feud. Grade: 1.5

4) Johnny Nitro (John Hennigan) defeats Carlito (Carly Colon) and Shelton Benjamin to win WWE Intercontinental Title at 12:03 when he pinned Benjamin after a Carlito Backcracker

Fun Fact: After being fired from Smackdown at Judgment Day, Johnny Nitro and Melina showed up on the 5/29 Raw when Nitro took on John Cena in a non-title match.

Fun Fact II:
On 6/5, Carlito defeated Shelton Benjamin in a non-title match. The next week, Nitro defeated Carlito with an assist from Benjamin. Prior to the bout it was announced that the three men would face off for the IC title at Vengeance. On 6/19, Nitro defeated both men in a non-title triple threat match.

Before this match Carlito was watching Torrie Wilson and Maria oiling each other down. Then his music hit and he was pissed that he had to get in the ring. Frankly I’m pretty pissed too since I’d rather watch two divas oiling each other down that watching this hideous PPV so far. Maybe watching three of the top technical guys on the roster will change things up here. So far they’ve delivered with a lot of aerial maneuvers over the top rope as Shelton really takes control here. He’s essentially the experienced guy in this match as Carlito started after Shelton in WWE and this is Nitro’s debut as a singles competitor. Nitro really sowed his oats as half of MNM but many thought he was the Shawn Michaels of the team so the solo push gets a kick start here. There’s an awesome sequence where there was a superplex/powerbomb combination that knocked the Charlotte fans’ socks off. As usual, one hits a finisher, and another steals the pin. Johnny Nitro realizes his dream and becomes the second Tough Enough winner to become a champion. The best match of the night so far and all three men should be commended for firing the crowd up. Grade: 3

Justin: The resurgence of the IC title continues as Shelton Benjamin continues to defend his belt against a nice mix of challengers. Nitro used some strategy to start as he sat back and watched Carlito and Shelton go at it. From there we got a really good pace as the three men worked in the usual triple threat machinations. Melina was active on the floor, always yelling and getting involved physically as well. All three men looked good here, including a smooth senton off the top rope to the floor, a stiff Shelton T-Bone to Nitro on the floor and Nitro’s fluid offensive assault. The fans were clearly behind Carlito here as he had gained quite the following since turning face. As the match wound down, they really started to bust out some nice trio moves with the capper coming when Shelton superplexed Carlito off the top with an assist from Nitro, who was hanging in the Tree of Woe. Words can’t do it justice, as it was just a really cool visual. After a well-built match and some good near falls, Nitro stole the win after Carlito dropped Shelton with a Backcracker. I was happy to see Nitro take the gold as I thought he would be a good heel champion that the others could chase. This was a fun match that never slowed down and featured some innovative spots and hard work from all three men. Grade: 3

5) Rob Van Dam defeats Edge (Adam Copeland) with the Five Star Frog Splash to retain WWE Championship at 17:54

Fun Fact: On 6/12, Paul Heyman announced that Edge would be recognized as the number one contender to RVD’s championship and that the next night on ECW, Van Dam would rechristen the WWE Championship as the ECW Title. Edge later announced that he would show up the next night on ECW. The next night, RVD was handed the brand new ECW title by Paul Heyman and RVD told him that he was keeping both titles. Edge then came out and told RVD that he respected him and was looking forward to their match. Edge then took RVD out with a spear and tried to escape through the crowd, but was stopped by Cena who fought him back to the ring. On 6/19, Edge defeated Ric Flair but after the match, RVD kicked Edge down and hit him with a Frog Splash. The next night on ECW, RVD pinned Edge in a tag team match.

I thought it was cool that Rob Van Dam came into the ring wearing both belts at the same time. Usually double belt holders just carry it, but RVD decided to free his hands to thumb “R…V…D”. I was actually looking forward to this match as it’s between two guys who I don’t think have ever faced each other in a big match together. I was hoping that, just like the previous match we can see, the crowd will get rejuvenated and continue raising what was a low grade to start. However, I’m just not seeing it here. Both guys bring everything, but it’s just not happening so far. The pace is slower than I thought it would be and the crowd’s really not into it either. This is the fifth match of the night and it’s only been an hour and a half, but I feel like I’ve been watching this show for five days. We have our obligatory missed opportunity when Edge had a three count but the referee was knocked down. Edge was busted open but Lita brings a steel chair to the corner for Edge to spear RVD into, but RVD ducks out of the way and Edge spears the chair. Edge is out, and after RVD hits the Froggie, he retains his WWE Title. I’m glad that RVD wasn’t going to be a one-month pony, but frankly the match was not what I expected. It was slow and boring except for the last minute. I don’t know what’s happened, but all the action and emotion of One Night Stand just can’t be duplicated here. Grade: 2.5

Justin: Who would have ever thought Rob Van Dam would walk into a WWE PPV event with a pair of Heavyweight Championships, but here it is. In his first PPV title defense, he battles the man who helped him win that gold, Edge. The two would posture a bit off the bell and things would get a bit sloppy as RVD took over on offense, outmaneuvering the challenger. One move that stood out early was a nice sunset flip snap powerbomb to the floor by RVD, rattling Edge in the process. The sloppiness would subside as the pace started to pick up as both men began to put on a bumping clinic, highlighted by Edge powerbombing RVD into the ringside barricade. Despite a pretty good heat segment and well-worked RVD comebacks, the crowd was up and down during this one. Edge would end up bleeding hardway from a belt shot but would get some help from Lita down the stretch. That assistance would eventually backfire, though, as Edge speared himself through a chair Lita had set up in the corner. After that nasty bump, RVD dropped the Frog Splash and picked up a really nice win in his first PPV defense. The match wasn’t as hot as I was expecting but the strong finish bumped up the grade for me. RVD looked primed for a lengthy run on top, but as we see in a few weeks things would get rocky really quick. Grade: 3

6) Imposter Kane (Drew Hankinson) defeats Kane (Glen Jacobs) with a Chokeslam at 7:08

Fun Fact: On the infamous May 19th, Kane was challenging Rey Mysterio on Smackdown. During the match, a visual of Kane’s old mask appeared on the Titantron and the words “It’s Happening Again” echoed throughout the arena. On 5/22, Kane explained that May 19th was torturous because it was the day his mother and adopted family were killed. He claimed the day was now behind him and he was feeling better. Later in the night, he defeated Trevor Murdoch but after the bout, the mask appeared again and the voice told him it would never be over. The next week, Kane was wrestling Shelton Benjamin when his old theme music began playing and a man in Kane’s old gear came to the ring, chokeslammed Kane and brought fire from the ring posts. On 6/5, the mind games continued as the Imposter haunted Kane backstage and eventually took him out. A week later, Kane was wrestling Randy Orton when the imposter struck again. They fought up the ramp and the Imposter sent Kane flying off the stage with a chop to the throat. On 6/19, Jim Ross interviewed Kane, who revealed that he knew the identity of the Imposter and that he was even sicker than himself.

Fun Fact II:
Developmental wrestler Drew Hankinson portrays the Imposter Kane here. He began his career in the West Virginia area and was signed to a developmental deal in April 2005. At that time he was assigned to DSW and he would remain there until being tapped for this role in May.

Fun Fact III:
This feud came to an abrupt end on 6/26, mainly due to lack of crowd reaction. Kane lost a match to Randy Orton thanks to the Imposter. After the bout, Kane hit two chokeslams on the Imposter, followed by a third on the entrance ramp. He then dragged the Imposter backstage, ripped his mask off and threw him out the arena. The aborted finish to the angle made the Imposter’s clean win here very perplexing. The Imposter Kane would not be seen again and Drew Hankinson returned to DSW.

Well what little spike we’ve had in this show has completely vanished as we have a repeat of Summerslam 1994’s main event. Kane’s brother the Undertaker faced an imposter, and that was a huge waste of time. So why for the love of God do they try it twelve years later? The storyline going in was that Kane was being tortured by some sort of ghost or spiritual force and something about May 19, which was also the date that Kane’s movie was coming out. We then get another Kane. Huh? I don’t know what more to make of this. The match is lumbering and dull, just like Taker vs. Taker twelve years ago in Chicago. But then, to make this mess even worse, the fake Kane wins! What in god’s name did the bookers do that for? Then, they blow this whole thing off! What the hell? I have nothing left to say. Another silly, stupid booking decision to kill whatever energy this show was starting to build. Grade: 0

Justin: Despite how random and odd this storyline was, I actually thought it was an interesting angle and could have went somewhere cool if they had planned it out a but better. Unfortunately, the crowds never really got into it and it was mercy killed the next night on Raw. The two giants put on a basic slugfest. Throughout the bout, Kane kept trying rip off the Imposter’s mask. Imposter Kane was pretty aggressive in the ring and despite the flat crowd, I thought these two put on a better match than you would expect. Kane got in his usual offense and after a decent power struggle, the Imposter shockingly pins Kane cleanly with a chokeslam. The finish here seemed fine at the time, however once the angle was canned the next night, it made the ending curious as you wonder why they had Kane lose clean if they were going to end things twenty-four hours later. One would have to surmise that the decision to shitcan the angle came during the day after this show. Regardless, this was fine and is more of a reminder of an angle that could have been interesting but instead crashed and burned. Grade: 1.5

7) John Cena defeats Sabu (Terry Brunk) in an Extreme Rules Lumberjack Match by submission with the STFU at 6:49

Viscera, Trevor Murdoch, Lance Cade, Rob Conway, Snitsky, Matt Striker, Charlie Haas, Val Venis, Tommy Dreamer, Balls Mahoney, Stevie Richards, Little Guido Maritato, Roadkill, Danny Doring, Justin Credible, Al Snow, and Sandman

Fun Fact:
On 6/12, John Cena was wrestling Edge when Stevie Richards, Balls Mahoney and Justin Credible came out to sit ringside. After Edge fled the ring, Cena wiped out the ECW stars and claimed he would be on ECW the next night. The next night, Cena got involved in the Edge/Van Dam confrontation. After Edge fled once again, Cena punched Heyman in the face. An angry Heyman later proclaimed that ECW would invade Raw in retaliation and that he would be holding an Extreme battle royal to determine who would face Cena at Vengeance. Later in the night, Sabu would win the battle royal to earn the match. On 6/19, Cena defeated Balls Mahoney. In a cool touch, Mahoney was wielding a chair that read “Cena Must Pay” on it. After the bout Sabu appeared and threw a chair at Cena’s head. He then laid Cena across the announce table before putting him through it with a springboard legdrop off the top rope. The next night on ECW, Cena showed up and challenged Sabu to an Extreme Lumberjack Match, to which Sabu accepted.

At this point I really don’t know what to expect out of this show anymore. This whole match has a strange dynamic because ECW is the fan favorites, and John Cena is almost playing it like a heel and some of his lumberjacks are heels. This match had that faint feeling of the WWF/Alliance battles of five years earlier. Guys battling around the ring for brand supremacy. Seeing Amish Roadkill outside the ring was pretty funny, but it’s the way Cena’s wrestling this match that really has impressed me. He acted like a pretty good heel at One Night Stand when he flaunted the WWE Title to the ECW junkies, only to lose to the ECW hero, Rob Van Dam. Now he wants to get extreme and avenge his loss, even though it was Edge that did the deed. The crowd really doesn’t know what to do with this match either as the dynamic was more that Raw was the heel group but they weren’t, and ECW were the cult favorites, but Sabu was the heel. I don’t know. The match was shorter than I expected and fairly entertaining. He FUs Sabu over the ropes onto a table and then gets Sabu to tap out to the STFU, which I didn’t think he’d agree to. Overall the match was mildly entertaining, but it could have had a few more minutes to add the excitement. Grade: 2

Justin: I enjoyed the build up to this one, with John Cena being Number One on the ECW hit list and Cena embracing the role. Unfortunately for him, the Raw lumberjacks were all of the lower mid-card fodder and not any of the bigger stars. Despite that, the atmosphere surrounding the ring was good and led to a gang warfare vibe. Cena was sporting a nice looking black eye from Sabu’s assault on Raw and that added to that vibe. Anytime Cena got dumped to the floor, the ECW stars put the beat down on Cena, including some stiff cane shots from Sandman. The crowd was pretty split early on, but as the match went along it seemed like they were backing Cena more. Sabu was surprisingly on point here, hitting all of his moves and not looking as sloppy as usual. You have to give Cena credit here as he took all of Sabu’s classic violent offense and just kept plugging away. I think it was around now that more of the hardcore fans were starting to come around on Cena, seeing his dedication and improvement despite fan backlash. It would be over the next year that he would really gain that respect and up his game. As the lumberjacks erupted and brawled on the floor, Cena hoisted Sabu up and sent him flying out of the ring and through a table with a great looking FU. This was a fun little brawl and a good environment for Cena to show that he was game to throw down with one of the most vicious wrestlers of this generation. Grade: 2.5

*** Backstage, Cena runs into Rob Van Dam, who cuts a great shit-talking promo on Cena and then challenges him to a match on Raw. Cena accepts. ***

8) Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) & Triple H (Paul Levesque) defeat Spirit Squad in a Handicap Match when Triple H pinned Kenny (Ken Doane) with a Pedigree and Michaels pinned Mitch (Nick Mitchell) with Sweet Chin Music at 17:50

Fun Fact: On 5/1, Mr. McMahon decided to take the night off and left the Spirit Squad in charge of the show. They then announced that Kenny would take on John Cena later that night. Before he left, McMahon told Triple H he had to be the special referee or else he wouldn’t receive any more title bouts. During the match, Triple H got into it with the Squad and wiped out Mitch and then left. As he left, Shawn Michaels came down to take over as ref, and the show ended with Cena and Michaels taking out the Squad. The next week, Triple H requested a title match and Cena accepted the challenge. McMahon then came out and said the match would not happen and that Hunter would get his title match at a later date. He said that Michaels and Cena would instead team up and face the Spirit Squad. The Squad would win the match after Kenny used the belt. They would assault Cena and Michaels after the bout until Triple H came down as well. Cena recovered and wiped out the Squad but Hunter dropped Cena with a Pedigree. On 5/15, Michaels was wrestling Kenny when Shane McMahon got involved and took out Shawn. Triple H came down and Shane commanded him to hit Shawn with the sledgehammer. Michaels ducked and Hunter pasted Shane before walking off. Vince came out to check in his son and glared at Hunter, who mouthed that it was only an accident. The next week Vince demanded a public apology for Triple H and warned of retaliation if it wasn’t delivered. Later in the night, Hunter apologized but Vince said he would only accept it if Hunter attacked Michaels later in the night. In that night’s main event, Michaels was forced to face the Spirit Squad. During the match, Vince called down Hunter, who stood with his sledgehammer. Kenny pulled it away from him, saying he would do the job, but Hunter took him out and then wiped out the rest of the Squad and ended the show in a stare down with Vince. On 5/29, Hunter defeated Kenny and again beat down the Squad. Vince then announced that Hunter would join the “Kiss My Ass Club” the following week. Seven days later, Triple H told Vince he wasn’t kissing his ass, so Vince told him if he could beat Big Show, he could get out of kissing. Unfortunately for Hunter, Show won by DQ when the Squad jumped Show less than a minute into the match. Vince then told Hunter if he didn’t kiss his ass he wouldn’t be receiving any more title matches. Hunter then had a chat with Shane backstage, where Hunter was drinking water while Shane told him to just go through with it. At the end of the show, Hunter came out to the ring, but was moving very slowly and was slurring his words. Then, before anything else could happen, he passed out, clearly having been drugged backstage by Shane. Vince then pulled down his pants, but things turned when Shane then passed out and Hunter popped up and dropped Vince with a Pedigree. On 6/12, Vince forced Hunter to face the Squad in a gauntlet match. As the match went on, Vince called out Mitch to enter next, however instead of running out, he came flying out on to the stage, courtesy the returning Shawn Michaels. Shawn joined Hunter in the ring, they beat down the Spirit Squad and then celebrated by crotch chopping McMahon. Finally, the next week saw the return of some DX antics. Only, unlike nine years ago, these jokes weren’t edgy or funny, but rather childish and lame as they included roosters, penis pumps and male strippers. As the fun rolled along, Shane found Vince and told him Stephanie was in labor and that they had to leave, leaving Jonathan Coachman in charge of Raw. Later in the night, DX showed up and vandalized the McMahon office and then put Coach’s head through a wall, pulled down his pants and spray painted his ass. At the end of the show, the now officially reunited DX made it official by busting out their old catchphrase and hamming it up in the ring. They announced Stephanie wasn’t in labor and then brought out a midget version of the Spirit Squad, followed by female cheerleaders Mikey and Johnny tried to attack DX, but they got laid out and the midgets all mooned the rest of the Squad to end the show.

Well, I duly get rewarded for my patience from earlier in the year. Frustrated that my favorite wrestler was denied his throne as the King of Kings from that ghetto stiff John Cena, sorry still just a tad bitter, and then doesn’t win the title at Backlash, so he did what I wanted to do afterwards: pasted everybody in the ring with a sledgehammer. I was content that the King wasn’t going back on his throne. Then, the improbable happens. Triple H and Shawn Michaels, who three years earlier were destroying each other in a bitter blood feud, finds that they will always be partners and thus, the original band was back together! That Raw when DX returned was a classic mark out moment for a guy who had four DX t-shirts in his life. I even went to the WWE website and bought an old school DX t-shirt, to replace my original 1998 copy that was gone many moons ago. This was an extension of the Michaels/Vince McMahon storyline and now he recruits these five knuckleheads in cheerleading outfits to try and take DX out. However we have this main event and the first five-six minutes is a glorified squash as DX just out-thinks the Spirit Squad and bludgeons them with right hands and silly tricks. Eventually the Squad throws Triple H into the steel steps and the numbers game finally comes into play. They pretty much beat HBK down until the hot tag to The Game and he gets the comeback, which eventually leads to both guys hitting their finishers on two of the five squad members and DX returns to a rousing ovation and a big win. The energy level was in this match and it was a serviceable main event but it doesn’t save the overall grade from what it’s going to be. Grade: 2.5

Justin: After nine years and a brief one week tease, the original DX is finally reunited. I thought the face turn for Triple H was much needed and was glad to see him mix things up. Unfortunately, I came to rue that sentiment almost immediately when I realized that the new DX would be focused around childish pranks and lame humor instead of edgy ribbing like it was in the past. Their jokes quickly wore thin one week into their run and it obvious that we were going to get a whole lot more of it as the weeks went on. As much as it annoyed me, it was an easy business decision based on merchandise alone and crowd reaction alone, as seen here. Spirit Squad continued to crack me up with their energy and antics as they really played up the cheerleader stuff perfectly. DX would dominate things early despite the disadvantage, using a mix of stiff strikes and comedy spots. One of those stiff strikes that came from Hunter managed to bust up Johnny’s nose, which was pretty nasty to see. The Squad would finally gain control through their numbers advantage and a timely stiff chair shot to the head of Michaels. The Squad even managed to work their trampoline into their offense, which was funny as well. After a long heat segment on Michaels, Hunter got the tag and DX quickly picked up the win. The humiliation continued after the match as DX beat the Squad down and celebrated over them. This was paint-by-number stuff and felt like an old school Saturday Night’s Maun Event match. It was fine for what it was and put over DX as a tight, strong unit at the expense of a group that could eat a loss like this. The crowd was clearly excited to see DX back together and we will see where their feud with McMahons goes next. Grade: 2.5

Final Analysis

Scott: Well that was a surprising disappointment. We had all this hype with the DX return to the ring, plus to pretty fresh matchups in RVD/Edge and Cena/Sabu, plus a long awaited Foley/Flair battle in the ring. On paper it seems like a pretty stacked card. It was, but none of it delivered. The undercard singles matches weren’t bad, but it just seemed like they should have been more. Foley/Flair was a disaster, but its clear they were meant for a rematch. I’m tired of seeing feuds where their first encounters are sacrificed for the sake of a big bloody rematch. It doesn’t mean the first match has to suck. Cena/Sabu was seven minutes of guys hitting each other with no real flow. RVD/Edge wasn’t too bad, but the pace was slow and plodding. DX throttled the Spirit Squad in what ended up being a glorified squash with some SS offense. Obviously Mr. McMahon will have to take care of Michaels and Triple H on his own. Seeing Triple H as a babyface is refreshing, his first run in four years. Unfortunately it just wasn’t enough to give this show a better grade. Final Grade: D+

Justin: Well, color me disappointed. I thought this card looked pretty solid on paper and featured some fresh matchups, but things fell apart right out of the gate. The Flair/Foley match really had me hooked heading in but the booking was terrible and the match was a joke. The triple threat and RVD/Edge matches were good, but considering what they could have been, I consider them disappointments as well. It was good to see Nitro win the IC belt though, as I felt he would make a better champion than Shelton at this point. RVD gets another win to help continue his mega-push, but it isn’t hard to notice his match is buried in the middle of the card. Cena and Sabu had a fun brawl and it was good to see Cena out of the main events for a change. The DX reunion was good for the fans and the gates, but I just wasn’t feeling it, especially once it was obvious the direction they would be going in. Raw has been up and down all year, but they were in quite the valley at this point. We will have to see if they get their ship in order in time for Summerslam. In the end, this show wasn’t really bad but rather it was just disappointing as it failed to meet its potential. Final Grade: C-

MVP: Rob Van Dam
Runner Up: Johnny Nitro
Non MVP: Kurt Angle
Runner Up: Mick Foley & Ric Flair

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