Readers may know that I am a big fan of pro-wrestling, and I frequently find myself, through the use of some number generators, delving into the WWE Network archive to watch random stuff. It seems like everyone going has a new project to alleviate the boredom of the current restrictions, and I guess this will be mine. No attempt to make things easy for the non-smarks here, because this is mostly for my own benefit. I would also have pictures to keep it fresh, but the only images you can get are of the rubbish low-res type, and I’d rather have nothing than those.
It’s December 18th 2005, and we’re in the Dunkin’ Donuts Centre of Providence, Rhode Island for the Smackdown PPV Armageddon. Your main events tonight: World Tag Champs Rey Mysterio and Batista (also World Heavyweight Champ) vs WWE Tag Team Champs Kane and the Big Show, and The Undertaker vs Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell match.
A very quick intro video about Taker/Orton to start. It’s a fairly tired trope by now, but I will never get bored of “I destroyed the Undertaker” – GONG – Oh no!”. It’s nice to be reminded that there was a time when Randy Orton wasn’t always too cool for school and could occasionally look terrified.
Michael Cole and Tazz are your commentators. Whether you’re happy or sad about that is a real Yanny/Laurel situation.
JBL vs Matt Hardy
“My man!” proclaims Tazz as JBL arrives, playing heel in a way that he was never able to get over. The basis for this match appears to be JBL “rudely” interrupting a Matt backstage interview the previous Friday, so it’s like 90% of the feuds on NXT. Matt doesn’t like the way JBL walks all over his tag team partners. JBL doesn’t care. Brawl. Match. For someone who has no familiarity/can’t remember the build to this show, it stinks of filler.
JBL on the mike beforehand, trying to deflect the fact that he’s curtain-jerking instead of main eventing. We’re six months of so removed from JBL’s WWE Championship reign, and I always thought he struggled afterwards to cement a place. Rips the piss out of Matt Hardy’s post-Amy Dumas activities, suggests his “I Will Not Die” slogan should be “I Wish I Were Dead”. Always count on JBL to say something inflammatory on the mike, but this works a bit to put some hot sauce on a fairly bland PPV opener. At least he’s not goosestepping.
Matt attacks from behind to start us off, trying desperately to play into a cool anti-hero role. I won’t get into the Matt/Lita/Edge stuff other than to say that it’s typical of Hardy to find a way to re-invent himself, but I never thought his heart was in this particular turn. Actually, much like JBL, he’s treading water at this point, waiting for a Hardy Boyz reunion. JBL takes control with a brutal looking hangman spot. Drops some absolutely vicious (ie: stiff) elbows to a prone Hardy. Crowd unexpectedly into this one, popping loud for Hardy comebacks.
Typical of this era though, hard to stay focused on the action with commentator bickering. Who would have ever thought you would hear the ECW legend Tazz say the words “Please stop screaming at me” in a tone you could legitimately call polite and reasoned? Hardy playing up a damaged throat, I suppose that explains a really sloppy moonsault to a standing JBL for a near-fall. JBL straight-up again, no-selling. You’re not facing some jobber earning his dues John. Hardy gets whipped into an exposed turnbuckle, Clothesline From Hell OUTTANOWHERE, 1, 2, 3 in just over six minutes.
Winner: JBL (and Tazz with how happy he was).
Verdict: A nothing opener featuring two guys both looking back at former glories more than looking forward. Hardy had more of a future though. Avoid.
Coming up later! Smackdown Tag Champs Batista and Rey Mysterio vs Raw Champs Kane and the Big Show! I genuinely forget who had the WWE or World Tag Titles at the time. This promises to be a lumbering hoss fight of the kind Vince McMahon often insists on, but a good opportunity for Mysterio to show-off. The story here is that Melina of MNM used her feminine wiles to, it’s implied, have sex with Batista so he wouldn’t beat up “her boys” in a tag title match last Friday, after which he basically says “thanks for the suggestive fade to black, going to go have my standard Smackdown match people will soon begin to tire of a bit”. Batista is the hero for playing this skank at her own game, or something. Anyway, Batista and Rey won the titles, yet another in a long-line of thrown-together tag teams featuring Mysterio from this period of WWE (him and Edge, him and Rob Van Dam, him and Eddie Guerrero all had short-reigns before this). Anyway, this was a total hot potato situation, with WWE wanting big names for this brand battle PPV match, the titles would be back on MNM’s shoulders shortly.
Speaking of, Melina is backstage being briefly accosted by MNM’s opponents next, the Mexicools! Remember the Mexicools? No? Me neither really, just three talented cruiserweights wasting their time for a a couple of years in WWE until management got tired of Juventud’s attitude and Psicoisis stealing cars. They crudely proposition Melina here, because they are the heroes WWE fan’s deserve.
“Last Rites”, a frequent interjection through the show to play up the Hell in a Cell match, follows. First off, but of course: Foley off the cell, Foley through the cell. Personal opinion: the second fall wasn’t planned. Funny how forgotten the first HIAC is, considering its one of the best ones.
MNM (Joey Mercury & Johnny Nitro) w/ Melina vs the Mexicools (Super Crazy and Psicosis)
Hilariously, this was meant to be a title match before MNM were told they weren’t a big enough draw to face Kane and the Big Show on PPV, but its going ahead anyway. Mexicools out on lawnmowers, because of course. It’s OK because they’re mocking the crowd, right? Right? Tazz starts coughing from the fumes like he’s got the Black Lung pa, then discusses the finer points of diesel with Cole for a few seconds.
Crowd popping only for Melina during the entrances. Lots of high-flying stuff and neat double-teams from the Mexicools as we wait for Johnny Nitro to get tagged in. We are around six months away from Nitro going off an a singles run and it can’t come soon enough, as MNM are a really spent force, with Mercury having loads of drug issues at this time. Psicosis playing the face-in-peril as we enter the middle-stretch. Melina is shouting louder than anyone in the audience. Nice bit where Mercury does the typical “top rope nothing” move, but then counters Psicosis’ counter.
Eventually Super Crazy gets a hot tag with a mild reaction. Dropkicks for all! Psicosis nearly takes Mercury’s head off with a crossbody. Melina holds onto Super Crazy’s leg as he goes for a moonsault, so he shoves her off the apron, with Michael Cole taking on JR’s traditional role as the “She deserved it!” excuser. Crazy’s moonsault is really a reverse headbutt to Mercury’s ass. Nitro in to kill the momentum, Snapshot, 1, 2, 3 in just under nine minutes.
Winners: MNM and a bored sounding crowd.
Verdict: Fairly standard tag action for the time. MNM would be champs again imminently, but you can tell they aren’t the team/draw they were. Skippable.
Backstage, JBK is nattering away on WWE Instant Access, because the Hotline idea can never be allowed to die. I wonder what he’s saying, presumably something about investments. All I hear is “9.99 MIGGLE!”.
Booker T is also backstage with Sharmell. It’s three matches to nothing in his best-of-seven series with REDACTED and he’s looking for the clean sweep. Sharmell was acting as Booker’s manager at the time, and they are a decent duo. Booker pronounces it “Umageddon”. Sharmell says if the interviewer (whom I don’t recognise) wants a ride home later, she can borrow her broom. Oh, snap. The camera is very much on the interviewers ample cleavage for this, so not really feeling the promo.
Meanwhile, REDACTED walks silently to the ring. OK, I’m not going to belabour that point, even if its grimly hilarious for the Network timestamp for this match to be “Booker T competes in a Best-Of-Seven match”. This was a good time for Benoit’s in-ring performances, and I would be looking forward to watching this one more if the result wasn’t super obvious.
Chris Benoit vs Booker T (United States Championship: Match Four in Best-Of-Seven Series)
We get a brief video package recapping the first three matches, and the two matches before that. A double-count finish to a US Title match is followed by Teddy “HOLD ON A MINUTE PLAYA” Long making this a six-man…I mean, a seven-match challenge to determine the new champ. You will be shocked to learn that Booker T uses subterfuge to win the first three matches, which includes a concussion spot for Benoit that has aged spectacularly let me tell you.
Sharmell, with a crutch because, like all women in Vince McMahon’s world, she is a deceitful shrew, introduces her husband. Has there even been anyone who had such basic theme music for so long? Crowd very dead for the entrances, maybe because they’ve had five Benoit/Booker matches on TV over the last month and the result tonight is obvious. Cole and Tazz, on three separate occasions, explain that Benoit has to win four in a row, and the bell hasn’t even rung.
Takes ages for things to get started with Booker begging off, but it gets the crowd going a bit. Benoit chops Booker and holy God his chops were the best in the business, maybe ever. Some mat-wrestling that the crowd goes completely flat for: this isn’t Benoit/Angle. Tazz takes some shots at Cole: “Who are you to tell Booker T what to do…you don’t even look like him!” Unarguable. Benoit starts doing some pro-wrestling, an unexpectedly dominant face, I guess to try and make this match any bit unique. Meanwhile Cole remarks that Benoit spent the day alone “not wanting to talk to anyone”. Yeah, that was the problem mate.
Booker takes over on offence, including a very awkward looking suplex where Booker looks like he was going for a delay and just fell back. Cole reminds people that Benoit and Booker have done this before, in WCW in 1999, but “much more on the line here”. Hard to argue really, as the first was just for the #1 contendership for the TV title, which in 1999 meant about as much as Sharmell’s crown in terms of viable achievement. Booker wrestling a very slow style, even for a WWE heel on offence. Chop exchange on the outside is real stiff stuff. Awkward, and lengthy, rest-hold spot back in the ring where Benoit looks like he’s gyrating into Booker’s crouch. Breaks free, starts laying in the suplex’s, which are things of beauty. Includes a “Three Amigos”, which is apparently the first time Benoit had done such a thing, maybe in search of a crowd reaction.
Benoit to the top, Sharmell “with the damn broom” (call of the night from Cole) distracts him. Booker looking for the superplex, Benoit attempts what I assume is a sunset-flip counter but falls on his back, looked very sloppy (and sore). Benoit kicks out after a missile drop kick. Sharmell gets in the sneaky low-blow (“She deserves the damn broom!”), Booker nails the scissors kick but showboats too long before the cover. Benoit’s kickout gets the biggest reaction from the crowd so far tonight. Benoit locks in the Crossface, but Booker gets a rope-break. Booker takes his fifth, sixth and seventh German suplex’s of the night: what a team player.
Flying headbutt, and Booker gets his own back by kicking out. Ref bump, sharpshooter from Benoit but no ref to see the tap. Sharmell in with the broom, and, um, “nails” Benoit with the softest part. Benoit gives her, and I choose my words very carefully here, a murderous glare, but we are spared a second bout of male-on-female violence tonight. Benoit turns the Book End into a DDT with a sweet counter, slaps on the Crossface, and, despite the fact that his foot is practically out of the ring, Booker taps, in just over twenty minutes.
Winner: Chris Benoit and broom aficionados everywhere.
Verdict: Actually much better than I expected, especially after the ten minute mark. Worth watching. As I recall Booker won the series, and would have his sole World title run in WWE within six or so months. Benoit, well, he spent the next year and a half bouncing around the mid-card before the murder-suicide. This might actually be the last well-known feud he was involved in.
MNM are on Instant Access now, and I will refrain from “dealer” jokes.
HIAC Last Rites, and you can probably guess that the next spot is Rikishi’s extremely lame fall from the cell onto a very soft landing from Armageddon 2000. They play it up like it’s on the same level as Foley, but I note that they barely reference that match anymore.
Teddy “SIX-MAN TAG” Long is out with Palmer Canon, a representation of network interference who, as I recall, quit the WWE after one too many run-ins with the veterans and “Wrestler Court”. Long claims Smackdown is the #1 brand after beating Raw at Survivor Series, and that’s as bad a line as anything that goes on with Survivor Series and its “brand supremacy” stuff nowadays. Canon grabs the mike and, in the spirit of the season, introduces Santa Claus! The role of Santa Claus is played tonight by Vito, accompanied by his FBI teammate Nunzio, who is dressed as an elf. They hand out some coal to the ringside fans, and to commentators (“Coal for Cole” Tazz exclaims with insane glee). Traditional holiday music is occasionally interspersed with the actual FBI theme, sounding as bad as the first Kabuki Warriors theme.
Vito gets on the mike and runs down Rhode Island. Nunzio, happily identifying as an “evil elf”, says they are tired of giving and want a Tag Team title shot and a Cruiserweight title shot. Canon says he has the perfect gift for them, and out comes the Boogeyman. Rather than book it the FBI just stay in the ring looking petrified. Boogeyman on the mike relates his own Christmas rhyme, and after he attacks Nunzio Vito pisses himself. The crowd doesn’t know what to say to this, and only mildly pop when Boogeyman delivers a pumphandle slam. Anyway, smoke, worms, eating, you know the drill with the Boogeyman by now. It was super dated stuff in 2005, but obviously McMahon thought there was a role for him. As Boogeyman leaves, Cole and Tazz discuss the difference between worms and leeches, a more interesting conversation than this awful segment, which gets a few replays to boot.
Still to come tonight, Taker and Orton in HIAC. Though that is our main-event, we get its video package now. Lots of insanity here: Orton blowing up the Undertaker’s hearse and happily proclaiming that he “killed the Undertaker”, Taker’s mind-fuckery sending Orton to a therapist, Orton pulling a fake retirement, Cowboy Bob stealing the Undertaker’s urn, it’s all a trip. Taker stories always seem to work with me, they’re just so ridiculously stupid.
Backstage, Orton and his dad discuss his strategy for the cell, and Orton insists that, with the urn, he has Taker’s power now. I’m sure the Legend-Killer will succeed where all others failed.
Bobby Lashley vs William Regal and Paul Burchill
Lashley is still in the early stage of his WWE career at this point, and I’ll admit I remember little of him pre-ECW. The story here is that Lashley has beaten Regal and his protege Burchill one-on-one over the last while, so now he gets to fight them at the same time. I’ll always enjoy watching Regal, his in-ring performances and the grisly looks he gives people (his entrance one here is a delight), so maybe they can turn me around on this.
They play up how vicious Regal is at the start, but everyone knows how this is going to go. Lots and lots and lots of power moves from Lashley, with the Brits, damned with faint praise by Tazz as “extremely capable”, occasionally double-teaming to effect. Before you even know what has happened, Lashley hits the Dominator on Burchill for the 1, 2, 3 in around three and a half minutes.
Winner: Bobby Lashley and the efforts to make him seem like “the real deal”.
Verdict: Blah. This kind of squash belongs on TV, not PPV.
Just outside Providence, Josh Matthews (ugh) is in the Friendly Tap with ex-referee Tim White, for a segment I had thankfully forgotten existed until this moment. White initially refuses to say a word to Matthews as he probes about White’s history with the HIAC. White was legitimately injured reffing the Triple H/Y2J HIAC at Judgement Day 2002, with the injury contributing to his retirement a few years later. They play up White’s reaction to Matthews here as some sort of trauma suffered in the cell. White eventually goes on a drunken rant about how the HIAC ruined his health, his marriage, his bar business, and in the midst of this super serious talk, also drops that he has IBS, because consistent tone is for the birds. In tears, White leaves the bar with a cocked shotgun, and a blast is heard from off-camera, while a horrified Matthews looks on. Tazz’s reaction back in the arena: “Irritable Bowel Syndrome?”
Yeah, that actually happened. Don’t worry though, WWE back-peddled fast after criticism that the entire segment was, to put it mildly, in poor taste. Turns out White only shot his foot, and WWE, in a series dubbed the “Lunchtime Suicides”, turned the whole thing into darkly humoured repeating segment, with Josh trying to interview White, who keeps trying, and failing, to kill himself, before turning his gun on Josh. If I can be allowed, as someone who has lost a good friend to suicide, this whole thing was appalling, a tone-deaf mess that was not required to put over HIAC, and is easily the worst part of the show.
Juventud (c) vs Kid Kash (Cruiserweight Championship)
Ah, the Cruiserweight Championship, here in what can rightly be described as its dying days. Your defending champion, Juventud, out on a lawnmower just like the Mexicools earlier, to no reaction. Your challenger, Kid Kash, one of the few guys to go from TNA to WWE in this era, and not the other way round. This match is based on a sneak attack from Kash on Juicy a few weeks ago, so I guess Kash is working heel tonight, though honestly the Mexicools always struck me as heelish too. Anyway, cruiserweight feuds around then rarely had good build really, they were used as quick and easy entertainment.
Not that this crowd got the memo, as we get a few “Boring” chants pretty quickly. Guess this is the bathroom break cool-down then. Opening act jumping around only lasted a very short time, then Kash on top. On commentary, Tazz has trouble pronouncing “strategising”. Cole responds: “You know you can get those Hooked on Phonics on tape now”. Tazz insists he’s just distracted by “this great Armageddon”, with all the enthusiasm of a man who was just told to say that by Vince McMahon in Gorilla position.
Juventud gets the knees up to stop a moonsault. Later a buzzsaw kick for a near fall that gets a little bit of a reaction. Hurricanrana from the top rope that took an age to set-up, and Kash gets a rope break. Juicy attempts to exhort the crowd to “give me something”, but they ain’t biting. Some awkward countering, Kash kicks out of a “Juve Driver”. Weird feel to this one now, as the nominal heel keeps kicking out of move after move. Then, from nothing at all, Kash avoids a Senton, hits the Dead Level, 1, 2, 3, in nine minutes on the dot.
Winner (and the neeeeeewwwww Crusiserweight Champion): Kid Kash and the guys in the bathroom.
Verdict: Slow worked cruiserweight match that both lasted too long and ended too quick. Avoid. Fun fact: There were only three more Cruiserweight Champions after Kash before they retired it nine months later.
Backstage, Lashley is up on Instant Access. Cole does his part to get him over/bury him six foot deep by describing him as “a real interesting fellow” before calling the show “Armaged Live”.
Batista and Rey Mysterio vs Kane and Big Show (non-title match)
Kane and Show are monster heel champs over on Raw. Basis for this seems to be that Rey pinned Show at Survivor Series during that brand-vs-brand match after they did the typical thing of everyone giving Show their finishers. Kane and Big Show showed up on Smackdown to get revenge, Batista, who is World Heavyweight Champion right now, made the save because he’s Class Protector or something, at least when he’s not banging harpies in the locker-room. Mystista won the tag belts, an inter-promotional tag match had already been set-up, here we are.
So yeah, no WHC match tonight so instead we can have this, which is bizarre seeing how few stand-out matches were booked. Kane and Show out first, with the theme getting as far as “Weeeellllll” before “Slow Chemical” takes over, thank God. Rey, wearing his clown mask variant, is still on that awful “Booyaka, booyaka” theme at this point. We’re a month out from his Rumble win, so enjoy this period of not-totally forced booking while you can. Batista gets a big pop from the crowd, even if he drops one of his title belts during his pyro.
Show and Batista to start, with the kind of strength duelling you would expect. Show was edging towards being in a not great place with his weight and ability to go at this point, and you can tell that a bit here. Especially when Kane comes in, and he and Batista are very quickly doing suplex’s and top-rope stuff where Show was basically just standing there waiting to be knocked down. Mysterio in, and this is a great environment for him, where he can do tonnes of flips, springboards, ducks and dives, and look a million dollars next to the big guys. Crowd big into him too: it’s a shame they over-played their hand with Rey over the following few months, but he had earned a main event place in fairness.
The heels take over and Mysterio settles into being the face-in-peril. Lots of slow offence now. Rey reverses a chokeslam from Kane into a kind of shoulder smash that Tazz calls a bulldog, but looks nothing like one. Batista has enough of the double-teaming heels and cleans house, including a spot where he swings Rey around like an Olympic Hammer. It’s nice to see the face in a tag match doing that and not having the ref’s apply a double-standard. Batista and Big Show fly over the announce table while Mysterio nails the 619 on Kane. Kane essentially no-sells it by catching Mysterio when he tries the West Coast Drop, though it is a cool spot. Kane hits the Chokeslam for the 1, 2, 3 in just eight and a half minutes.
Winner: Kane, the Big Show and hosses everywhere.
Verdict: Way too short given the nominal star power involved. “I can’t believe it, this sucks” says Tazz, and I agree. I wonder if there was an injury or something. WWE’s tendency to treat Mysterio like a huge star and have him lose too much at the same time in practice.
In the aftermath, Batista picks Rey up, and gets his theme music played for the effort. You’d expect a turn here in other circumstances, given the plan for Mysterio to win the Rumble, but nothing doing. Batista would tear his triceps a few weeks later and have to vacate the WHC.
Last Rites one more time, and hey, Badd Blood 1997 does get some love. Great match.
Randy Orton w/”Cowboy” Bob Orton vs The Undertaker (Hell in a Cell)
The video package from earlier does not get repeated, instead it’s just the standard lowering. Orton out accompanied by Dad. I miss the “HEY, NOTHING YOU CAN SAY” theme. Cole playing up that this is Taker’s seventh (“Seven!”) HIAC matches. Yeah, but he lost three of the others. Typically awesome Undertaker entrance, that the crowd is huge into, but as per normal it goes on for a bit too long. Commentary does a good job playing up how the Cell tends to injure people and change careers, and hey, they didn’t need a dramatised suicide attempt to do it. Given how short nearly ever other match was tonight, I’m guessing this one goes for a while.
Orton selling his fear of Undertaker really well at the start, skittering out of the ring at every opportunity, but he’s quickly nailing Taker with a few good moves: Orton had beaten Taker a few months previously after all. Taker “with the soupbones as he likes to call them” Cole says, ie, punches. Taker takes over for a lengthy offence, nailing Orton with a few nasty chair shots, and Randy is wearing the crimson mask early. Rubbing Orton’s face on the cell, and Orton sells this like he’s being tortured. This is definitely a Badd Blood HIAC match, where the point is to watch Taker’s opponent finally getting his just desserts with a slow beatdown, interspersed with brief comebacks.
Crown ohhing and ahing for Orton getting thrown into the cage walls, but a bit flat otherwise. “Vintage Undertaker”. Drink! Back in the ring, Orton hits an RKO on Taker while his opponent is on the apron, which results in a vicious looking snapback off the ropes, and now Orton is on offence. Taker nailed with the ringsteps, and presumably blades while the camera is off him. Some might call this the last real era of blood in WWE, and the red stuff is splattered around the ring here.
Orton takes out a chain and uses it to choke the Undertaker, then a thunderous chair shot for a near fall. Crowd finally gets a bit into it with a “Randy sucks” chant. More throwing of Orton into the cell wall. Back in the ring, looks like Taker is setting up for a Tombstone, but its just a scoop slam. Goes for a springboard leg-drop (“Old school without the hand” says Tazz), but nobody home. Out comes a table to a surprisingly mild pop. Cowboy Bob briefly involved by pulling on Taker’s hair, only for Undertaker to grab him through the cell. Orton goes for the tackle, Taker moves, and Cowboy Bob goes flying. Even he gets some blading, and an unnaturally close camera angle just in case you didn’t see.
Back to the ring, “Vintage Undertaker”. Drink again! Taker back on top, nails an STO for a near-fall. Snake-eyes, big boot, leg-drop, two count. Crowd really not feeling this one, so out comes the chokeslam taunt. “It’ll be goozle-city quite possibly” says Tazz. That never really caught on like “Suplex City” (bitch!) did. Huge chokeslam, cover, 1, 2, foot on the ropes? Apparently rope-breaks count in “the most dangerous match in WWE history”, to the crowds derision, but still not as bad as Rollins/Wyatt last year. Orton dodges a charge, then hits a low-blow with the chain. Undertaker set prone on the table, Orton to the top, Orton with a very unorthodox (for him) splash. Lands a bit awkwardly, so the table only partly broke and then tipped over, leading Orton to have to fling the remains out of the ring.
Undertaker goes for the Last Ride, Orton gets clear, and a stray punch sends Nick Patrick (remember him?) to Slumberland. Orton goes for the RKO, Taker counters it partly into another chokeslam, cool spot. Both men down with Orton covering Taker, but no ref. The cell is opened up to allow Charles Robinson in for a near-fall. In the meantime, Cowboy Bob sneaks in with the urn, ah yeah, here we go baby.
Taker sits up, both men trading blows, Taker nails The Last Ride. Cover, 1, 2 and Cowboy Bob pulls the ref out. Urn or not, Taker gives the elder Orton a cell assisted beating, to no pop. Taker sets up the Tombstone, Orton counters into his own, and hits it! Ref is late in for the cover, two-fall only. Taker keeps sitting up from Orton’s blows, and eventually has Orton by the throat. Cowboy Bob back in, eats a boot to the head. Taker counters an RKO by chucking Orton across the ring, then nails father and son with the seemingly useless urn. Tombstone for Cowboy Bob, and then for Legend-Killer Randy. 1, 2, 3 in just over a half-hour.
Winner: The Undertaker, and people who were tired of urns I guess?
Verdict: Typical Taker HIAC problem of it being too slow and unexceptional for the first 20 minutes, and the crowd was not into the vast majority of it. Orton booked to basically have Undertaker beaten twice in the match, but no ref, which is odd booking for the heel, but makes perfect sense with WWE’s doctrine of “Protect everybody in the main event”. Last ten minutes was OK, but no-one really remembers this HIAC match.
Taker climbs the cell with the urn because people paid to see someone on top of the cell I guess. Not sure why WWE even introduced the urn as a concept for this one without it coming into play as a supernatural item, but OK. The purple lights come on, Taker poses, Cole gives us a hilariously mis-timed “Happy Holidays everyone!” and that’s a wrap.
Best Match: I guess Booker/Benoit, for their fifth singles match in a month where the result was basically known to everyone they actually worked hard to make it interesting.
Best Wrestler: Rey Mysterio worked hard to get his tag-match over, but got let-down by the limited time and stupid ending.
Worst Match: JBL/Matt Hardy was a waste of time for all involved.
Worst Wrestler: Sorry Big Show, but when you’re primary involvement is “Let Batista try to knock you down” it might be time to take a break.
Overall Verdict: A real forgettable show. Of the seven matches on the card, five were under ten minutes and lacked any kind of real impact. Of the two others, one was match four in a seven match series, and the other was an over-long gimmick match you will have seen before, and seen done better. Two terrible segments, with the Boogeyman and the birth of the Lunchtime Suicides, cap it off. Smackdown was on a downward spiral at this point, and PPV’s like this, transitional to a fault, are a showcase of that. Avoid.
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