December 13, 2004
WWE survives its own Armageddon
It's called Armageddon for a reason folks. After ending RAW's 2003 season with a fiery train wreck of a Pay-Per-View and winning the dubious honor of Worst PPV in the SLAM! Wrestling reader poll, WWE shook things up with Smackdown! sending its roster to what may be its ultimate doom.
The main event has always been the make or break match for this PPV. In fact, the Hell in the Cell main event in 2000 was so bad that Armageddon didn't even take place the next year. Although expectations have been significantly lowered in the years since, the success of this year's card rests mainly with the Fatal Four-Way between JBL, The Undertaker, Booker T and Eddie Guerrero.
Over the past six months, JBL had dispatched each one of his opponents for the WWE title, every time using underhanded tactics to retain the belt. After beating Booker T at Survivor Series, Bradshaw thought he was in the clear, until Guerrero, Undertaker and Booker T came looking for rematches. The champ refused to grant any matches. Smackdown! General Manager Theodore Long agreed; there would be no individual matches. Instead, JBL would have to defend his belt against all three men in a Fatal Four-Way at Armageddon. Long also banned JBL's cabinet from ringside during the match, adding that if any one of them interfered, Bradshaw would be stripped of the belt.
Before heading to the ring, Bradshaw meets with his newly-formed cabinet. Even though they offer words of encouragement, the mood is somber. Without the trademark limo, Bradshaw walks slowly to the ring. Of course, we all know this means there is a good chance he's keeping the belt. We're smart like that.
Like the true fighting champ he is, Bradshaw ducks out of the ring to let his opponents duke it out. Guerrero and Booker T decide to team up to take out Taker, an alliance that lasts a whole five minutes. The only time JBL sticks his neck out is to try to score a cheap pinfall on Booker, who promptly kicks out.
Undertaker takes command of the match, nailing JBL with a side slam and knocking Booker T into the crowd. With all four men outside the ring, Bradshaw gets a taste of the steel steps. The champ fights back though, clearing the announce table and setting the Dead Man up for a power bomb. Undertaker counters with a back body drop.
With the action finally back in the ring, Undertaker takes Booker 'Old School,' and then tosses Latino Heat over the top rope. Undertaker follows with a guillotine leg drop on Eddie while Booker is getting worked over by the champ in the ring.
After recovering from Taker's beating, Eddie decides to make things interesting by pulling a ladder out from under the ring. The Dead Man gets smacked in the face and Eddie rolls back into the ring, where Booker T is cleaning house. Just past the fifteen-minute mark, Booker T hits Guerrero with the scissors kick, but can only score a two count.
The fight spills out to the floor again. Bradshaw takes charge for a minute. He tries to powerbomb Booker through the announce table, and when that doesn't work, he drops an elbow that gets the job done. JBL gets a taste of his own medicine a minute later when he takes the Last Ride through the Spanish announce table.
Guerrero, still in the ring during this nonsense, decides to go into his bag of tricks and plays possum for the Undertaker. Eddie slides out of the Last Ride but runs into a choke slam shooting off the ropes. Latino Heat is set up for the Last Ride, but counters with a belt shot while on Taker's shoulders. Guerrero tries to finish him off with two frog splashes, but Undertaker sits up. Eddie nails him with a mule kick and tries a frog splash off the top of the ladder. It connects, but JBL pulls the ref out of the ring after a two count.
All four men get their chance at the belt. Undertaker rises up again, connecting with choke slams on all three opponents. The match looks sealed as JBL is set up for a tombstone pile driver, but our worst fears are realized: Heidenreich hits the ring.
Heidenreich pummels Taker and slips out of the ring. JBL tries to cover Booker, who kicks out, then Eddie, who does the same. Undertaker sits up, only to be pulled from the ring by Heidenreich, who slaps on a cobra clutch. JBL seizes the opportunity, crushing Booker T with the Clothesline from Hell and covering for the three count to retain his title.
The next WWE Pay-Per-View is New Year's Revolution on January 9.
We here at SLAM! Wrestling are presenting you, the reader, an early Christmas gift. That's right, it's the tag-team PPV report with Dale Plummer and Nick Tylwalk! You may remember us doing the very same thing last year for the same PPV, but this time I get top billing because it's a Smackdown! show.
I don't know anything about Smackdown except what I read in your reports and I don't remember losing any bets. Why am I here again?
It's retribution for having to sit through the debacle of a PPV last year.
Match #1 - RVD and Rey Mysterio (champions) vs. Kenzo Suzuki and Renee Dupree (challengers) - WWE Tag Team championship
Hey, here's some guys that you should remember: RVD and Dupree. RVD and Mysterio are fresh off winning the belts on Thursday, which you'd know if you read my report!
I'm learning a lot watching this match, like the fact that Rey and Rob's 420 was named for the four legs that drop on their opponent and their combined shoe sizes. So I guess the Chalupa Roll is named for Rey's love of eating chalupas and Rob's love of rolling ... um, stuff.
And despite being a high flying match, there were missed spots galore. It's a good thing this PPV didn't take place in Philly -- all you ECW fans know what I'm talking about. Even though the match had its technical problems, it was one of the most entertaining of the night. RVD and Mysterio hold onto their belts, though. RVD finishes off Dupree with the Five-Star Frog Splash after a dual 619 from Rey on Dupree and Suzuki.
Winners ... and still WWE Tag Team champions ... RVD and Rey Mysterio at 19 minutes
Match Rating: 7.5/10
Even though he is taking on Big Show later in the evening, Kurt Angle is still up for defending his gold medal in the Kurt Angle Invitational.
And Kurt has a very special opponent tonight who many of you are probably hoping to get a visit from real soon: Santa Claus. I'm rooting against him on account of the coal he left me last year. Kurt takes care of him quickly, making him tap to the Ankle Lock in less than 30 seconds and avoiding Santa's devastating finisher, the Chimney Drop.
Once again, it's a good thing this PPV isn't in Philly. Santa would be getting booed unmercifully.
The entire Tough Enough competition is recapped.
Hey Plummer, weren't you excited about this new version of Tough Enough? Remember all that crap you gave me about the Raw Diva Search segments? Who's chuckling now?
Yeah, about that ... WWE sure knows how to kill a good idea, don't they? Anyway, we are down to our last two competitors, Daniel Puder and Mike "The Miz" Mizanin. Tonight, they will be fighting in a Dixie Dogfight, so it's pretty much a shoot boxing match. And since Nick is our resident boxing expert, he can cover this sham.
The format is three one-minute rounds, which is probably all I'll be able to stomach anyway. I'm a fan of real boxing, and there isn't too much of that here. What we do see is a lot of off-balance flailing and a good bit of holding and rabbit punching. Despite the announcers' attempts to pump up The Miz, I give all three rounds to Puder for throwing some good straight right hands. I heard Puder had ultimate fighting experience, so you'd think he'd at least know what a jab was. I'd rather watch John Ruiz fight than these guys, and that's really saying something. There are real boxing judges ringside, but since this isn't real boxing, Long lets the crowd decide the winner, and they pick Puder. Let's move on please.
Unfortunately, this 'boxing' match doesn't decide who wins Tough Enough - that's up to the internet voting. The Miz will probably win, because all the girls know him from MTV.
The cameras catch Eddie Guerrero and Booker T talking strategy in the locker room. Booker finds it quite amusing the Eddie could ever beat him for the title. The two eventually settle on worrying about Undertaker, who just happens to walk in on them. Boy, that was awkward.
Match #2 - Charlie Haas and Hardcore Holly vs. The Basham Bros.
This match wasn't even on the card, and for good reason.
There really isn't much worth noting that happens until Dawn Marie and Miss Jackie come out from the back and distract Haas from the business at hand. The Bashams pull the old 'identical twin' switch and Doug rolls up Holly for the pin. Or maybe it was Danny, how the heck should I know?
Winners: The Basham Brothers at six minutes and 51 seconds
Match Rating: 4/10
I thought for sure Hardcore was going to beat Haas to a bloody pulp, even if it wasn't in the script. Instead, we fade to commercial.
It's not too often that a commercial is the highlight of the night, but not every commercial is a promo for the Royal Rumble featuring Vince McMahon picturing his wrestlers reenacting the fight scene from West Side Story. Whoever got Chris Benoit to wear a handkerchief around his neck and snap his fingers while lip-synching is my hero. And the sight of Mysterio in costume but still wearing his mask? That almost had me on the floor. You need to see this ad, but you probably will get 179 chances over the next month or so.
Why can't the guys that come up with the commercials come up with a decent storyline?
Match #3 - John Cena (champion) vs. Jesus (challenger) w/ Carlito Caribbean Cool - U.S. Title Championship Match - Street Fight
Nick, it's HEY-ZEUS, not Jesus, the Lord our Saviour. Got it?
That's cool because I like Cena but I don't know if he could have won the match I was picturing the first time I read through the card.
Anyway, this wasn't so much a match as it was a straight up assault. But first, Cena tricked out the U.S. Title belt. You have to see it to believe it. Onto the match, which sees Jesus getting in an early cane shot that just seems to wake the champ up. Cena took Jesus out behind the woodshed, breaking the kendo stick over his back. Jesus also took a stiff kick to the head before getting doused with the contents of a trashcan. Carlito tried to help his boy out, but with no success. Cena finishes him off with a street sign shot to the head, setting up a bloodied Jesus for the F-U.
Carlito tries to steal Cena's chain again after the bell, but Cena cuts him off and lays him out with a chain shot to the face. That leaves our hero to celebrate with his new belt, complete with extra ice and a spinner in the middle. I'm sure I lost some of you there. And dude, I know you straightened me out, but I'm reading my notes and seeing things like, "Cena dumps trash on Jesus" and "Cena gives F-U to Jesus." I think I need to go to confession now.
Winner ... and still U.S. Champion ... John Cena at seven minutes and 54 seconds
Match Rating: 5/10
Miss Jackie is getting ready for her match, while her fiance, Charlie Haas, gets ready to officiate. Jackie tells her man that she will take care of Dawn Marie for good. Charlie seems pleased, but then asks if she is planning to wrestle with her engagement ring on. Miss Jackie thinks it best not to and takes it off, giving it to Haas.
Match #4 - Dawn Marie vs. Miss Jackie w. Charlie Haas as Special Guest Referee
Nothing special here folks, it's your typical catfight. We did have the "both women roll over the referee" spot, which is fast becoming a staple of these matches. Dawn Marie picks up the victory with a roll-up and a handful of Jackie's tights.
Winner: Dawn Marie at one minute and 43 seconds
Match Rating: 1/10
The real fireworks take place after the match.
If by fireworks you mean Charlie admitting he's having an affair with Dawn Marie and calling off his engagement to Jackie, then yeah. Haas gets down on one knee to ask one question to Dawn, but it's not the one she was expecting. Instead, it's "Why are you such a slut?"
Post Match Shenanigans Rating: 8/10
I really didn't see that one coming. It's not very often WWE writers stray from the most obvious path.
It's also not too often that a WWE crowd cheers someone for turning down two attractive females. Moving on, Big Show gets a good luck kiss from Joy Giovanni on his way to the ring. I've got two problems with this. First, how does she have a job? And second, I need some good luck too, just to make it through the rest of this report. What about me? What about Tylwalk?
I think I can help. I've looked into this situation. First, she was on the RAW Diva search. It said nothing about Smackdown, so legally it's cool. Second, you're a married man Nick, shame one you.
Match #5 - Big Show vs. Kurt Angle, Luther Reigns, and Mark Jindrak
The problem with a match like this is that only one of two things can be happening at any given moment. Either Big Show is tossing someone around one-on-one or the heels are double or triple-teaming him to even the odds. Wash, rinse, repeat. That's not very exciting. At least Show's presence in this match virtually ensures that it won't go more than ten minutes. Also, if you had told me three years ago that Jindrak would be a regular on TV and his former partner Sean O'Haire would not, I would have questioned your sanity.
Angle tries to finish off Show with an Angle Slam, which almost gets all the way up. Show rolls out of the Ankle Lock and goes after the legal man, Jindrak. Show picks him up and hits ... the F-5? What the?? Is he baiting Brock Lesnar to return? I thought the Minnesota Vikings just recently re-signed him to practice squad.
Winner: The Big Show at nine minutes and 45 seconds
Match Rating: 4.5/10
Before the cruiserweight title match, number one Smackdown announcer Funaki decides to interview himself. Go back and read that last sentence again, then use your imagination. Spike Dudley crashes the one-man show but finds himself outwitted by his challenger, surely a low point in Dudley family history.
Match #6 - Funaki (challenger) vs. Spike Dudley (champion) - Cruiserweight Title Match
When you think cruiserweights, you probably think of high-flying matches with crazy spots. Well, not tonight. The crowd was dead throughout the match, which didn't help matters. Spike counters a tornado DDT and goes for the Dudley dog, which Funaki dodges. A series of reversals and roll-throughs ends with Funaki on top, winning his first cruiserweight championship.
Winner ... and new Cruiserweight Champion ... Funaki at nine minutes and 30 seconds
Match Rating: 6/10
Match #7 - JBL (champion) vs. Booker T (challenger) vs. Eddie Guerrero (challenger) vs. The Undertaker (challenger) - Fatal Four-way - WWE Championship match
Winner ... and still WWE Champion... JBL at 25 minutes and 37 seconds
Match Rating: 7/10
Total Event Time: 2 hours and 47 minutes
Event Rating: 6/10
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Dale Plummer has been writing for SLAM!
Wrestling since 2003, while Nick Tylwalk has been on
the beat since 1998. Dale and Nick enjoy working
together, but are wondering why they were asked to
cover this lowly PPV for the second straight year. A
pair of diamond-crusted tag team belts would probably
help smooth over any hard feelings. Hint, hint.