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WWE Armageddon 2005 12/18/2005

December 18, 2005
Dunkin Donuts Center
Providence, RI
Attendance: 8,000
Buy Rate: .73
Announcers: Michael Cole & Tazz

Sunday Night Heat

Jamie Noble (James Gibson) defeats Sho Funaki at 3:30

Pay Per View

1) John Bradshaw Layfield defeats Matt Hardy with a Clothesline From Hell at 6:45

Fun Fact: On 12/16, JBL butted his way into a Matt Hardy backstage interview. The two men would end up brawling and this match was set for the PPV. Later that night, Hardy was wrestling Booker T., when JBL left the announce table and dropped Hardy with the Clothesline From Hell.

Scott:
Our opener is a pretty cool combination of guys. JBL, clearly out of the title picture for the first time now since the character change in 2004, is working his way around the roster to face some other guys. He had a decent match with Rey Mysterio at No Mercy, and here is facing another guy with good skills coming off a hot feud with Edge on Raw. It feels like I’ve never seen this show before as I haven’t watched it since Justin and I were at live the show, so I haven’t heard the commentary nor the TV feel of it. I remember being surprised that this match was so quick, and I also feel that Matt was now going to be a Tito Santana of sorts for a while. I don’t know if WWE really ever wanted him back other than for the Edge feud and now that its over I wonder if they just toyed with him since they really didn’t need him anymore. Unfortunately the match really never got going, so as much as it was an intriguing opener, it didn’t really bring much. Grade: 2

Justin: Our final PPV of the year opens with a funny JBL promo as rips on Matt Hardy’s 2005 travails. A focused Hardy would sneak through the crowd and jump JBL from behind to kick off the match. Things would quickly unravel for Matt, though, as he gets hung up in the ropes with a well done vintage Mick Foley style hangman spot. JBL would then zero in on Hardy’s neck with a vicious and stiff precision assault, really wearing Hardy down. Hardy did a nice job selling a throat injury as JBL stomped him apart and polished him off with a stiff CFH. Hardy didn’t get much offense here and this felt like a glorified squash for the most part. The finish confounded me then and it still confuses me today, as Hardy was still pretty over and JBL was sliding down the ladder. The match is decent but surprising and disappointing. JBL picks up a win but doesn’t have much direction right now. Grade: 1.5

Undertaker’s Hell In The Cell Last Rites Moment: Throwing Mankind off the roof of the Cell at the 1998 King of the Ring.

2) MNM defeat the Mexicools when Joey Mercury (Adam Birch) pins Super Crazy (Francisco Rueda) following the Snapshot at 8:56

Fun Fact: On 12/2, Psychosis and Super Crazy won a tag team battle to earn a title match here. The next week, Crazy would defeat Mercury in a singles match. Unfortunately for the Mexicools, as we will detail in a bit, MNM would lose the tag titles prior to this show.

Scott:
This should be pretty good on paper. Good pop in the Dunk for the Mexicools, as they’ve been a pretty good addition to the Smackdown midcard. MNM has been tag team of the year since debuting in the spring as they are now multi-time WWE Tag Team Champs and have a hot heel manager in Melina. An early highlight of the match was Psychosis hitting a plancha on MNM, and then after the ref didn’t allow him to, Super Crazy hits a plancha over the ref to the floor. MNM is another example as to how the company books both shows. Cade and Murdoch and La Res have been the top tier teams on Raw the past few years and they have minimal workrate but good brawling skills. MNM clearly have much more skill than either of those teams and they’re on the “B” brand. I notice that for the most part 80% of the card is thrown together matches to fill the time around the US Title series match and the main event. Whenever there’s a card that doesn’t have a World Title match in it, something always seems to be missing. This match has had some really good action in it and the pacing has been scorching. So obviously if you’re going to throw some quick matches onto a show for fill, might as well match up some good combinations. MNM hits the Snapshot to win the match, and the heels are 2-for-2. Grade: 3

Justin: After dropping the belts for the second time this year, MNM rolls to the ring looking to get back on the winning track. The Mexicools were slight favorites, but the crowd seemed a bit flat with no overwhelming face to root for. Each time played to their strengths with MNM working quick tags and heel team maneuvers and the Mexicools flying around the ring and landing quick strikes and smooth offense. Melina would turn the tide for her team and MNM’s tandem offense started to get the crowd into things a bit more. MNM would end up winning the match and it was a good PPV win for them to cap off the year. In a year that was devoid of solid teams, MNM really stood out in a classic team manner with their unique look and well oiled teamwork. I also liked how the commentators pushed the importance of a win here in regard to getting back into the title hunt. The Mexicools take the loss in stride but put up a good fight in a hard fought match. Grade: 2.5

3) Chris Benoit defeats Booker T (Booker Huffman) with the Crossface at 20:11 in Match Four of a Best of Seven Series; Booker leads 3-1

Fun Fact: The Best of Seven series between these two men continued on a special Tuesday episode of Smackdown that aired on 11/29. Booker would again sneak a win out to go up 2-0. Later that week, Benoit defeated William Regal and then assaulted Booker, who had been on commentary. He beat Booker down and locked him in the Crossface on the floor. On 12/9, Booker would go up 3-0 after an assist from his wife Sharmell and a steel chair.

Scott:
After plenty of chicanery has given Booker T a 3-0 lead, Benoit’s back is against the wall. Next to the main event this is the showpiece match of the show. We were pretty stoked during this match because clearly Benoit wasn’t going to get swept in this series so it was just a question of how it was going to go down. The pace of this match was very slow, which made me think it was going to be a long one, close to twenty. Benoit goes through one stretch where he just pastes Booker’s chest with some chops. Then Booker starts working with an Abdominal Stretch, again another sign they plan on stretching this match out. Benoit gets some momentum but then again Sharmell interferes and Booker hits a nice missile drop kick. Benoit kicks out of a low blow that cost him one of the earlier matches, and we were buzzing at the Dunk. Benoit escapes the Crossface on the first occasion, and then Sharmell breaks up a Sharpshooter in the ring. The writers did a good job of really making Sharmell the lynchpin of the storyline and this may have been the best match of the series thus far. Finally Benoit ratchets the Crossface up and Booker had to tap out. Benoit gets on the board but he’s still behind. Grade: 4

Justin: Booker T rolls into Providence looking to close out this series and take home the US title. I liked the concept here with a focused Benoit in a 3-0 hole and looking to do the improbable. Booker had really settled back into his heel role, one he was much better suited for. I enjoyed the emphasis that Cole and Tazz put on the importance of this match and series, really stressing the desire to hold the gold. The bout started a bit slowly as Booker stalled to try to quell Benoit’s intensity and Benoit tried his best to break Booker down to the mat. Booker worked a slower pace here than we saw in their past matches, keeping Benoit on the ground and trying to avoid the Wolverine’s manic offense. Outside of one stiff German suplex by Benoit, Booker controlled most of the bout, focusing on the ribs. Benoit would battle back with a crazed suplex flurry that rattled Booker. Sharmell would get involved again, leading to a good near fall, but Benoit fought it off, locked in the Crossface and picks up the win to get on the board. This was pretty basic stuff, but it was well worked and built to a pretty hot finish. Benoit stays alive but Booker still controlled the series. Grade: 3

Taker Hell In The Cell Last Rites Moment: Undertaker throwing Rikishi off the top of the cell at Armageddon 2000.

*** GM Teddy Long and Palmer Cannon come out to talk about how great 2005 was for Smackdown. Cannon then he invites Santa Claus and an elf to come out to help celebrate. They’re actually the FBI and after some jawing and requests of title shots, out comes the Boogeyman to sing Christmas carols a, take out the FBI and feed Vito some worms. ***

4) Bobby Lashley defeats William Regal (Darren Matthews) & Paul Burchill in a Handicap Match by pinning Burchill with the Dominator at 3:38

Fun Fact: Paul Burchill began training to become a wrestler in 2001 and made his pro debut in 2002 for the Frontier Wrestling Alliance in Great Britain. In 2004, it was announced that Burchill had signed a WWE contract. After a brief stay in OVW, Burchill was quickly called up to the main roster and made his debut on the 8/27 Velocity, helping William Regal defeat Scotty 2 Hotty. He would debut on Smackdown the next week, teaming with Regal to defeat Scotty and Funaki. He would continue to work alongside Regal as the year wound down.

Fun Fact II: Bobby Lashley defeated William Regal on the 12/9 Smackdown. The next week, Lashley would defeat Burchill as well, leading to the handicap match here.

Scott:
Another throwaway match designed to put over this new hulking, yet soft-spoken monster. Burchill was an up-and-comer from across the pond that was under the tutelage of the veteran Regal. They take control early with quick tags. To be honest, I don’t remember this match when Justin and I were there live. Lashley eventually takes control and puts Lashley away with the Dominator. This is a typical Vince guy: Big power dude with an incredible physique, however the promo skills need real work. Grade: 1.5

Justin: After dominating the British duo over the last two weeks, Bobby Lashley marches in here looking to keep rolling along. I thought this was a pretty good way to continue to build him as a monster face. Lashley would use his power throughout this quick bout, but Burchill had a nice showing as well, working a quick pace and dropping a great looking knee off the top rope. The crowd was pretty flat here as Regal and Burchill worked Lashley’s back. Lashley would quickly shrug them off, though, and put Burchill away with a Dominator to pick up the win. Lashley looked strong again here as he mows through two guys and adds another notch to his belt. The match was basically a squash but was fun enough while it lasted. Grade: 1

*** As with any Providence show, we have to have our obligatory visit to Tim White’s Friendly Tap. Josh Matthews keeps asking him questions but all White’s doing is drinking, and not talking. We get highlights of his last match as a referee: Which was the Judgment Day 2002 Cell match between Triple H and Chris Jericho. Tim White finally talks and says everything has changed and due to the injuries he’s lost all his family and friends. He then grabs a shotgun and walks off camera and you hear the gun go off as Matthews looks on in disbelief. Strange. ***

5) Kid Kash (David Cash) defeats Juventud Guerrera (Eduardo Hernandez) to win WWE Cruiserweight Title with a brainbuster at 9:26

Fun Fact: David Cash began his mainstream wrestling career in 1996, working under the name David Jericho in ECW. He would leave ECW and work the Indy scene as well as some WWF live events. It was during one of those events that Cash broke his ankles during a match with Too Cool. After healing, he returned to ECW under a new moniker: Kid Kash. Kash would have a solid run, including wrestling through the healing of a broken jaw as well as winning the ECW Television Title. He would leave ECW in early 2001 and head south to WCW. He would sign a contract on March 21, but WCW was sold to WWF a week later. Upon that transaction Kash decided not to accept WWF’s renegotiated contract. He would next resurface in TNA, where he would compete through early 2005. After making derogatory remarks in public about how TNA was using him, he was released from his contract. After making a brief appearance at One Night Stand, Kash would make his WWE TV debut in a tryout match on the 6/19 Heat, wrestling Tajiri. He would later sign a developmental deal, but he quickly ascended to the main roster beginning with some matches on Velocity.

Fun Fact II:
On the 12/9 Smackdown, Kash came out of the crowd and assaulted Juventud Guerrera. The next week, he would defeat Super Crazy in a singles match, and it was announced that he would challenge Juventud for the Cruiserweight Title at the PPV.

Fun Fact III:
This would mark the final PPV appearance for Juventud Guerrera. He would stick around until the new year, when on the 1/6 Smackdown, he faced Kash in a rematch for the title. He would use many high flying moves, despite the WWE asking its cruiserweights to tone down their styles, and performed the 450 splash, which was a big no-no at the time after Juventud botched the move on Paul London earlier in the year, resulting in several fractured bones in London’s face. That same day, the WWE announced Juventud was released from the company. Since then, Juventud has wrestled for a few Mexican promotions, including several stints in AAA and a few appearances for Dragon Gate. His final record is 2-1.

Scott:
We get a pretty solid Cruiser affair here as Kid Kash, a mainstay in the latter days of WCW following a cup of coffee in ECW. The Mexicools were originally slated to be heels but naturally these guys were going to get a following simply because of their abilities and charismatic personalities. Juvy is the best looking of the bunch so he was separated from the group and became Cruiserweight Champion. The match was much more mat-based than I anticipated from these two, which was different than what I expected. I thought the match was over when the Champ hit the Juvy Driver but Kash kicked out and then Kash hit the Dead Level brainbuster and surprisingly won the Cruiserweight Title. I really didn’t think he was going to win the match, but he did. This was solid, but a match that was different than what I expected. Grade: 2.5

Justin: Similar to the revamped Women’s division, the Cruiserweight division gets a shot in the arm as 2005 winds down and we get a fresh matchup for the title. Despite getting off to a fast start, the crowd is flat to start here coming off that depressing Tim White segment. Kash would work the arm with some crisp offense. Both men were working hard, but mainly stayed on the ground for most of the match, leading to this not really feeling like a Cruiserweight match. Juvy turned things around and the match picked up, including a nasty Juvy kick to Kash’s head. Juvy would miss a splash off the top, dinging up his knee and allowing Kash to win the title after a nice finishing sequence including a flurry of reversals. I thought this was a solid match, but the crowd was dead from the segment before it and they didn’t have much of a chance to win them back working this style of bout. Juvy’s reign is over and Kid Kash is now the top dog of the Cruiserweight division. Grade: 2.5

7) Kane (Glen Jacobs) & Big Show (Paul Wight) defeat Batista & Rey Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez) in a non-title match when Kane pinned Mysterio with a chokeslam at 8:39

Fun Fact: On 12/2, Big Show and Kane were invited to Smackdown for an Interpromotional battle with JBL and Rey Mysterio. JBL would walk out mid-match, allowing the Raw team to smash Mysterio and win the match. Show and Kane looked to inflict more damage to Mysterio after the bout, but Batista made the save and cracked both men with a chair to drive them from the ring. On 12/16, it was announced that Batista and Rey would challenge MNM for the tag team titles. Prior to the match, Melina tried to seduce Batista to get him to back out of the contest. Being the badass beast that he is, Batista banged her and then thanked her for the warm-up, claiming he never agreed to any deal to back out. Batista and Rey would wipe out MNM and win the belts to set up a champions vs. champions showdown here.

Scott:
Justin and I had a nice live match that was right up our alley. Three big power guys in the ring with a little guy that would take the bumps. I didn’t understand Batista & Rey needing to win the belts from MNM for this match to really mean anything but whatever. The match was two-fold: Batista and Rey getting the early advantage, while Kane & Show trying to get Batista out of the match so they can split Rey in two. Knowing they would make the main event epic, this match was probably going to have a quick ending, and it indeed did. Show & the Animal took each other out through the announce table, which gave Kane the chance to chokeslam Rey and get the easy pin. It was an ok match that probably would have worked on Smackdown, but obviously you can’t leave the World Champ off the show. I still think MNM vs. the Mexicools should have been the tag title match and this could have been fine without Rey/Batista having the gold. As a standalone match it was fine. Grade: 2.5

Justin: Our next match is an interesting one and for the third straight show, features in an interbrand battle. Batista was banged up here, legitimately nursing some injuries. I am assuming that is why they hid him in a quick tag match instead of a lengthy main event battle. I liked the Show & Kane team as they worked well together as two veteran power hosses that could dominate the opposition. Show and Batista had a nice power showdown to start, leading to a good flow that included some fluid Mysterio offense. The crowd was digging Rey and Batista quite a bit here and that helped during some fun big man vs. little man spots throughout the bout. Batista and Show would wipe each other out on the floor, allowing Kane to fight off Rey and drop him with a chokeslam for the win. I thought this was a smart finish as Kane and Show needed the win more as they were more of a stable legit tag team at this point and it was clear that Rey and Batista would only hold the titles for a quick cup of coffee. This was a fun match and a good way to hide the injured champ in a hot undercard match. Grade: 2.5

Taker Hell In The Cell Last Rites: Undertaker throwing Shawn Michaels into the announce table at Bad Blood 1997.

8) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell match with a Tombstone at 30:30

Fun Fact: This feud continued on the special Tuesday Smackdown when the Ortons jumped Undertaker in the ring and Randy dropped him with an RKO. They then loaded him into Eddie Guerrero’s low rider, which Rey Mysterio had driven to ringside, and Randy drove it backwards into the set, causing an explosion. Later that week on the regular edition of Smackdown, Orton demanded a title match at Armageddon, but before that challenge could be addressed, Undertaker’s voice boomed through the arena and told Orton that he would be facing him inside Hell in a Cell. On 12/9, Orton declared that he was tired of the mind games, but Taker would torture him throughout the night in some odd and hokey segments backstage. Finally on 12/16, Randy tried to back out of the match, but Teddy Long warned him against violating his contact. As Randy tried to leave, Undertaker led druids to ringside to block him in. One particular druid raised the urn above his head and proceeded to crack Taker in the head with it. He ripped the hood off and revealed that it was Bob Orton behind the attack. Randy would drop Taker with two RKOs and then smashed him with a chair and the urn, busting him open. Orton held Taker’s bloody head by the hair and told him he would see him at the PPV.

Fun Fact II: Following this show, it leaked out that Bob Orton tested positive for Hepatitis. Apparently he had it as a teenager but due to a lack of symptoms, he assumed it was no longer an issue. Prior to the show, he actually tested positive for it but the results were never brought up, specifically by Johnny Ace, who knew of the results. Once word got out, the backstage officials and Undertaker were furious that Orton and Ace did not reveal this information before Bob bled all over the place during their feud. This would be Orton’s final PPV as he was released officially in February, aborting plans of being in his son’s corner throughout 2006.

Scott:
We talk about Shawn Michaels/Kurt Angle, and Triple H/Batista as the main feuds in 2005. However this feud had longer legs than either of those. This feud started in March, and it ends here. I never would have thought that this feud would have ended with a Cell match, as WWE hasn’t had two cell matches in one year since 2002. Both involving Triple H in one and Undertaker in the other just like now. Orton, with the help of his storyline-savvy father Cowboy Bob, has held his end of the bargain with his promos and character development. It wouldn’t be until mid-2006 that Orton’s career would really slump in many ways. After the upset wins at Summerslam and No Mercy, it really looked like Orton was gaining a rub like Mankind did in 1996. However that worked in reverse as Taker’s career was revitalized with that feud. Now the key thing here is how the violence factor would work. This is the first cell match in a while where both men aren’t equally savvy. Now Orton does have a big cage match, Taboo Tuesday 2004, and a headline hardcore match, Backlash 2004, under his belt but this is different. We’ve seen Cell matches loaded with violence and cell matches where the cell was irrelevant. Here Taker spent the first ten minutes bludgeoning Orton with the stairs, a chair, the Cell walls. You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop and eventually Orton hits an RKO out of nowhere and then he starts laying some bloody shots himself. I remember saying to Justin when we were watching the match live that the cell seemed smaller than in the past. I remember seeing the cell in Hartford at No Way Out 2000 and it looked massive and I was sitting much further way there then I was here in Providence. Maybe it’s the way the Dunk is laid out compared to the Hartford Civic Center. I don’t know, it’s probably the same size. This match went about the same pace as past Cells. I think Orton learned from both Taker and his Evolution mentor Triple H about how to give and take in the Devil’s Playground. Cowboy Bob gets involved and Taker busts him open, and I’m reminded of the whole controversy with Bob Orton having Hepatitis and Taker getting really upset about getting busted open, etc. That is pretty stupid to be honest, and I don’t know why Bob wouldn’t say anything. But anyway, back to the match. Orton does get creative in some spots, stealing a Shawn Michaels move with a splash on Taker through a table from the top rope. We get a ref bump and the door opens so another one gets in. Cowboy Bob sneaks in too, with blood oozing out of one eye, looking pretty creepy. Orton actually hits a Tombstone on Taker but of course doesn’t get the three count. Taker then Tombstones the Ortons and gets the three count. I really enjoyed this match as both guys brought it and for the average-to-good undercard this was a stellar finish. Grade: 4

Justin: For the second time this year, we get the culmination of a lengthy blood feud inside the Cell. This feud started back in March and I thought it was deserving of a Cell blowoff. The crowd was hot for Taker as usual, and they were behind him as he demolished Orton all around ringside, including two brutal chairshots that ripped Orton wide open. As the brutal assault raged on, Orton was able stay alive and turn the table with a desperation RKO across the top rope. Orton would then bust out a chain to choke Taker, but the Deadman wouldn’t stay down and the rest of the match would feature some good back and forth action without a long heat segment. Cowboy Bob would get involved from outside the cage and would end up blading after Taker yanked him into the cage. Randy retaliated with a great low blow while having the chair wrapped around his fist. I really liked Orton’s desperation offense here as he was able to withstand Taker’s quick strikes and put him back down with another big blow. Bob would eventually get inside the cage when a new ref came down after the original one was taken out. Taker would fight both men off but Randy would reverse a Tombstone into one of his own for a good near fall. Taker would recover, wipe out Bob and finish Randy off with a Tombstone of his own to end the match and the feud. This was a hot match, a fun cell brawl and an effective blowoff to a lengthy feud. Both men will move on into some interesting directions as 2006 dawns. Grade: 4

Final Analysis:

Scott: Other than the US Title series match and the main event, the rest of this show was slapped together matches with quick builds. The Benoit/Booker match was really good as after seven years of battling these two still have great chemistry together. Having said that, it was surprisingly entertaining. Matt Hardy jobbing so quickly was surprising, and some other matches really needed work to be believable builds. The main event was awesome and ends 2005 on a high note. As for being at the show live, Justin and I don’t have any snappy stories as it was cold, and we saw his Cox Cable guy in line. We did see Dusty Rhodes and Ted DiBiase pounding some brews in the back parking lot when we were walking to the car. That was pretty cool. 2005 was an up and down year for PPVs. We’ve had some stinkers and some real good ones. For a throwaway end of the year show that was totally focused on the main event, it really wasn’t that bad. I wouldn’t go to another PPV for almost three years, but this one was surprisingly good. Final Grade: C+

Justin: Like Scott, I had never seen this show on TV, as this was the first time I watched it since attending live. Overall it was a pretty solid show that had a nice mix of talent in some fresh situations. 2005 has been an odd year for Smackdown, there was a lot of flux and the tragedy late in the year shook things up. Despite that, I thought they delivered a pretty good outing here to close out the year. I liked how the feud that dominated the brand for the second half of the year is blown off here to close the show and cap the year. Batista is still champion, but the injuries are piling up and the Smackdown title picture would get thrown into madness by the time they hit PPV for a solo show again. Other than that, the rest of the card was just well done filler by a solid mid card troupe. The Benoit/Booker war is still raging on, MNM got back on the winning track and Kid Kash is now on top of the Cruiserweight division. The 2005 PPV year has come to end and the WWE landscape has gone under some major changes for various reasons. 2006 will be an interesting year that is full of solid action, more roster turnover, a major programming change and controversial angles, one of which kicks off before 2005 ends. Final Grade: C+

MVP: Randy Orton & Undertaker
Runner Up: Kid Kash
Non MVP: Matt Hardy
Runner Up: Mexicools

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