(OK, so word of explanation: This was written in 2007ish as a bonus chapter to “Wrestling’s Made Men” because the publisher was like “Hey, how about some exclusive content for the book?” and this was still the time in my life before having a child where I could devote three hours to a PPV rant at random. So I’ve never published it on the blog before, but I figure 10 years is enough exclusivity, and since we’ve done a couple from 05 recently, might as well put this one up as well. So enjoy!)
The SmarK Rant for WWE Vengeance 2005
– Live from Las Vegas, NV
– Your hosts are JR, King and the Coach.
Opening match, Intercontinental title: Carlito v. Shelton Benjamin.
Carlito was only a week off winning the belt from Benjamin on RAW at this point, having jumped from Smackdown in the draft lottery of 2005, ending Shelton’s 8-month reign as champion. They fight over a lockup to start and Shelton takes him down with a fireman’s carry for two. Carlito takes him to the mat with a headscissors, but Shelton escapes and we’re back to square one. Carlito pounds on the back, but Shelton slugs back and hits him with a knee to the gut for two. Carlito tries another headlock and gets nowhere, so he takes a break outside and decides to walk out on the match. Benjamin catches up to him and sends him back into the ring, where a snap suplex gets two. Carlito tries the old thumb to the eye, but Shelton pops up to the top and hits him with a flying clothesline for two. Carlito uses another cheapshot to gain control, and then chokes him down and out of the ring. Back in, that gets two. He hits a couple of slams while the crowd actually turns on Shelton, chanting “Shelton sucks” and cheering for Carlito. Weird. And now it’s chinlock time, as Carlito gets two off that. Shelton snaps back with a rollup for two, and the crowd boos him. Back to the chinlock goes Carlito. Shelton comes back with a back elbow, and the crowd boos him for that, too. Shelton makes the comeback with a samoan drop and gets two, selling an injury which prevents him from bounding around the ring like normal. They slug it out and Shelton wins that, then backdrops him into the neckbreaker for two. They fight up to the top and Shelton necksnaps him to bring him down, then springs in from the apron with a bulldog for two. Shelton goes for a german suplex, but Carlito grabs the ropes to block and undoes the turnbuckle pad in the corner. He hits Shelton with a bad looking powerbomb variation and Shelton comes back with the dragon whip kick, which sets up the stinger splash. Carlito moves, Shelton hits steel, and it’s good night Irene at 12:49, as Carlito retains. I found this sluggish and awkward. **
Victoria v. Christy Hemme.
Victoria debuts her newer, more evil entrance music here and Xena leather outfit. This was set up by Victoria attacking a bunch of divas after a swimsuit competition, thus drawing a face pop, but it supposedly turned her heel. Hemme tackles her slugs away on the mat, then screeches a lot and chokes away in the corner. Her offensive output is stopped by Victoria, who hotshots her to take over and hangs her by the hair over her shoulder. Choking in the corner follows and Victoria grabs a chinlock. Hemme fights back as the announcers say “spitfire” about 19 times in reference to her, but Victoria slugs her down again and goes for the Widow’s Peak. Hemme reverses out of it, so Victoria beats on her in the corner. She goes up to try a moonsault, but misses, and Hemme comes back with the usual cliched hair-tosses that all bad women’s wrestlers do. A DDT gets two. A sunset flip out of the corner, however, is blocked by Victoria for the pin at 5:06. Total waste of PPV time, as the feud was never followed up on TV. 1/4*
Kane v. Edge.
Kane beats on him in the corner to start and slugs away, then backdrops him. More punching in the corner and the crowd wants Matt. Kane clotheslines him out and goes after ex-wife Lita, then stomps Edge a little bit more back in the ring. The crowd lets us know that Lita is a crack whore as Kane drops an elbow and chokes away. Edge bails to the apron and Kane hammers him to the floor, but gets speared while going after him. Edge stomps away back in the ring as he takes over, and spears him into the corner. All this kick and punch offense is gonna put me to sleep. More choking, to really pick up the pace. Edge slugs away and Kane no-sells it and punches him right back. Edge hits him with the Edge-O-Matic, but Kane does the zombie situp and thus panics Edge. Kane comes back with, you guessed it, more punches, and drops Edge in the corner with Snake Eyes to set up a clothesline for two. The usual cut-and-paste offense from Kane continues with a sideslam and flying clothesline, but Edge blocks that clothesline with a dropkick. Kane no-sells, but Snitsky runs in, as does Lita. She does the old fake seduction trick, but Kane, role model to kids everywhere, chokes her down and grabs a chair. This allows Snitsky to boot him down, and Edge gets two. Kane keeps no-selling, blocking a DDT from Edge, and getting rid of Snitsky. Chokeslam finishes for Kane at 11:11. Incredibly boring match that triggered TWO rematches on RAW before they gave up on trying to get this stupid feud over. *1/2
Shawn Michaels v. Kurt Angle.
Yup, it’s the rematch from Wrestlemania, which was basically set up with one show by Shawn saying “Um, you want a rematch” and Angle being all “Uh, yeah” and that was pretty much it. Angle was essentially moved from Smackdown for this rematch, and because he’s Kurt Angle and can do whatever he wants at this point. They fight over a lockup to start and Angle takes him down to the mat, but Shawn quickly escapes to the ropes. Shawn grabs a headlock, but Angle counters him with a single-leg takedown, and they both back off. Angle goes back to the headlock, but Shawn hiptosses out and grabs an armbar. Angle escapes by going after Shawn’s arm in turn, and Shawn bails and recovers outside. Back in, Shawn starts throwing chops, so Angle backs off. Angle gets another takedown, so Shawn backs off. Angle tries the takedown again and starts fighting for the anklelock, but Shawn fights him off and he has to settle for a half-crab instead. Shawn quickly makes the ropes. Shawn goes back to the chops in the corner and goes up with a sunset flip for one, but Angle quickly reverses to the anklelock. Nice sequence! Shawn makes the ropes and pushes Angle out of the ring as a result. They head outside and Angle tries to Angle Slam Shawn into the post in a repeat of the Wrestlemania spot, but Shawn escapes from that. Angle makes the most of the situation and german suplexes him headfirst into the table instead. Dear god, that was nasty. Back in, Angle gets two off that. Angle, Mr. Intensity, yanks up him by the ponytail and knees him in the face, then a neckbreaker gets two. Another great thing about Angle — he varies up his offense, throwing in stuff like neckbreakers that you don’t expect from him. Angle chokes him in the corner and stomps away, which pretty much negates any cheers he might have been getting, and he goes about the task of beating the hell out of Shawn Michaels, another guaranteed heel heat response. Shawn tries fighting back, but Angle powerbombs him into the turnbuckles, and gets two. Talk about abusing the guy’s neck. See what I mean about mixing up the offense, though? Angle drops some elbows and fires off a suplex for two. He goes to a chinlock, which does fit with the psychology of the neck injury at least. Shawn fights up, so Angle flattens him with a german suplex for two. Shawn is taking the beating of a lifetime here. I love it. Angle Slam is reversed to an armdrag by Shawn, but Angle clotheslines him down again for two. They head up to the top and Angle tries a superplex, but Shawn slugs him down to block it. However, he jumps off and lands into a belly to belly suplex from Angle, which gets two. Angle grabs a sleeperhold and holds Shawn on the mat for a few near-falls. Shawn fights up again and escapes with a backdrop suplex, and it’s a double KO. They slug it out and Shawn makes the comeback with the kip up and the inverted atomic drop. He goes up and drops the flying elbow, and just when it’s time for the superkick, Angle pops up and clotheslines him with MUSTARD. Well, so much for that comeback. Angle Slam is reversed to a DDT by Shawn, however, and that gets two. Shawn stays on top, however, and makes Angle keep kicking out of it. Shawn tries a suplex, but Angle reverses right into the rolling germans and the Angle Slam out of that. That gets two. Angle goes for the anklelock, but Shawn cradles for two, and then Angle just hangs on and applies the move. Shawn reverses Angle into the ref, however, and it’s ref bump time. Shawn charges and gets dumped to the floor (as sensitive fans in the front row yell “C’mon Shawn, shake it off!”) but he hurts his knee. Angle is all over it, of course, and pulls down the straps to really emphasize his intensity. It’s anklelock time, although really that doesn’t do much against Shawn’s bad knee. Shawn manages to kick away from the move, but Angle hangs on viciously, much like Wrestlemania 21. Shawn tries to make the ropes, but gets pulled back into the middle of the ring again and looks ready to tap. One more reversal sends Angle into the corner, however, and breaks the hold. Angle charges in to finish, but Shawn superkicks him absolutely out of nowhere and both guys are out again. Shawn rolls over and gets two. Angle, completely out of it, tries to go up to the top, but Shawn superkicks him on the way down to finish at 26:09. Well, you knew that Shawn was going to get his win back sooner or later. I don’t think it was as purely epic and dramatic as their first match at Wrestlemania, with more slow spots in the middle and a weaker finish, but it was still in the same percentile, so to speak. ****1/2
– Meanwhile, for our designated nacho break segment, ring announcer Lillian Garcia reveals her true love for Viscera and asks him to marry her. Sadly, the answer is interrupted by the return of the Godfather, who runs a strip club in Vegas and thus was available for the show tonight. Long story short, Viscera decides to once again embrace his inner pimp, and he leaves Lillian all alone. Well, you live, you learn.
Smackdown World title: John Cena v. Chris Jericho v. Christian.
Cena was drafted to RAW with his title, basically rendering the belt totally meaningless since it no longer represented the show that he won it on. This is kind of a sad blowoff for a feud between Christian and Cena that had been building (albeit in one-sided fashion from Christian) for months leading up to this, before Jericho turned on Cena in a tag team match to interject himself into the feud and thus render Christian’s involvement rather pointless. Christian’s involvement was rendered more pointless when Christian was shipped off to Smackdown in the draft lottery. Cena tackles Jericho to start and Christian attacks both of them. Jericho and Christian argue over who gets to choke Cena down, and then decide to take turns beating on him. See, there’s a good message for kids here. Jericho quickly turns on Christian and drops an elbow on him, but Tyson Tomko gets involved and drops Jericho on the railing to get rid of him temporarily. That allows Christian and Cena to do their thing, as Cena hiptosses him and stomps a mudhole in the corner. However, he does not walk it dry, and that fatal error allows Tomko to nail him, too. So the ref ejects Tomko from ringside as a result. Christian gets distracted by that and Cena pancakes him and tries the FU, then simply dumps him to the floor instead. Jericho pops in with a flying elbow from the top for two on Cena. Suplex and seated dropkick follow, and they slug it out. Cena boots him while he tries a charge into the corner, and pounds him down in the other corner. Jericho comes back with the bulldog, but misses the Lionsault. He recovers with a baseball slide that puts Cena on the floor, and they do some brawling out there. Jericho preps the Spanish table and tries to suplex Cena onto it, but Cena reverses to a DDT on the floor. And now Christian has recovered enough to get back into the match, so he attacks Cena and gets two on him in the ring, while Jericho sells the injury on the floor for a while. Christian hits the chinlock, but runs into a clothesline and flying shoulderblock from Cena. Cena comes back on him with the backdrop powerbomb and he tries the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Jericho yanks him out of the ring and sends him into the stairs. Christian, however, baseball slides both the ref and Jericho at the same time, leaving us with Jericho and Christian in the ring while Cena lays around outside. Jericho tries the Walls of Jericho, but Christian cradles for two. Christian goes up and Jericho slugs it out with him up there, but Cena catches both of them with a powerbomb and everyone it out. Cena tries covering both guys, but only gets two each time. Cena and Jericho slug it out and Cena makes the big superman comeback, clotheslining everything that moves and taking Christian down into Jericho’s head. A double Five Knuckle Shuffle follows and he rolls up Jericho for two, but Christian rolls up Cena for two. Jericho rolls them up both up at the same time for two. Well, that’s unique. Everyone collides and it’s a triple KO. Jericho climbs and Cena shoves Christian into him, knocking him to the floor, but he can’t get the FU on Christian. Christian escapes and gets the inverted DDT for two on Cena. Christian gets frustrated and grabs the belt, while Tomko returns from exile and lays out Cena with a clothesline, thus allowing Christian to get two. Nice use of ref distraction there. Cena backdrops Christian onto the floor, but Jericho catches him from behind and applies the Walls of Jericho. He releases and dropkicks Christian off the apron, but goes right back to it again, forcing Christian to break the move by rolling up Jericho for two. Jericho tries to bulldog him, but gets reversed into the Unprettier, which Jericho reverses by shoving Christian into Cena. Cena then picks Christian up on his shoulders, uses his legs to knock Jericho out of the ring, and he finishes Christian with the FU at 15:20. Super-hot three-way match, which was looking like standard RAW fare for a while with the “I’m knocked out now you two wrestle” stuff at the beginning, but the last 5 minutes was some superbly choreographed stuff. ****
Hell in a Cell, RAW World title: Batista v. HHH.
Batista is decked out in the badass white tights and pads tonight. HHH attacks to start and Batista recovers outside. Back in, they fight over a lockup and Batista overpowers him and adds a clothesline in the corner, and dumps HHH with a clothesline. They brawl outside and HHH gets rammed into the cage a few times, but recovers and sends Batista into the post. HHH adds a necksnap as Batista tries to head back into the ring, then pinballs him into the cage for a wicked bump from Batista. HHH takes over and pulls out his trusty toolbox, finding a chain there. Now what would a chain be doing in a toolbox? I’m tempted to deduct 1/4* for that. Anyway, HHH beats the hell out of Batista with it and hangs him on the top rope with it, forcing Batista to necksnap out of it. With that accomplished, he proceeds to whipping HHH like the proverbial dog with the chain. Sadly the moment is ruined somewhat by HHH blatantly telling Batista “Now post me” while on camera, which sets up Batista ramming his back into the post and cage in succession. This draws blood on HHH, who responds by coming back with a spinebuster. JR’s analysis of the situation: “He may be able to capitalize, but maybe not.” How truly insightful. HHH does, however, capitalize, by grabbing a steel chair wrapped in barbed wire. JR declares that this is why he’s called The Cerebral Assassin. Because he can hit a guy with a chair? I mean, sure, it would hurt, but it doesn’t take Einstein to figure that out. Batista absorbs some nasty shots with that weapon, and then comes back with a lariat and grabs the chair himself, continuing the theme of the match thus far. He absolutely lays into HHH’s face with it, which is pretty cool. Then we get the classic “grinding the barbed wire into his face” spot, followed by the equally-classic “cheese grater on the cage” spot. Batista adds a javelin into the cage as HHH bleeds buckets all over the place. Back into the ring, although with Batista’s luck out there tonight I’m not sure why he’d want to head back in, Batista pounds away in the corner. And indeed, he misses a charge and hits the post, allowing HHH to take over again. Shoulda stayed on the floor, Dave. HHH tries KICK WHAM PEDIGREE on the chair, but only gets as far as KICK WHAM before Dave backdrops out of it. They slug it out and Batista powerslams him on the barbed wire chair, and that gets two. JR gives him a nice backhanded compliment by noting that “he may be a no good bastard, but that was a hell of a kick out.” Not the kind of thing you can have printed on a Xmas card, but good enough. Batista grabs the chain and goes for the kill, but HHH DDTs him on the chair and Dave starts his own river of crimson. They brawl outside as JR notes that HHH needs to pin him in the ring, but not so: In 2002, HHH pinned Chris Jericho in a Hell in a Cell match on TOP of the cage. And now, because YOU demanded it, HHH pulls the sledgehammer out from under the ring. What all is UNDER there? JR of course notes that it’s as legal as a wristlock. I’d like to see a weapons match where everything is legal BUT wristlocks, just to hear what his analogy would be. They slug it out and Batista goes for the demon bomb, but HHH backdrops out of that and then does his usual Evil Plan Culmination: He hits Batista with the sledgehammer, but Batista hits him right in HIS sledgehammer. If you know what I mean. And again, Batista uses the “anything you can do” mentality and gets the hammer for himself, but runs into a chain-assisted punch from HHH. That gets two. However, when HHH tries to come off the top with the chain, Batista holds up the hammer and HHH lands on it. Well, they’re 1-1 now, I guess. Normally I hate that spot because it involves holding up a boot to block a move that couldn’t conceivably do any damage even if it wasn’t blocked. However, seeing HHH spit out blood upon impact made it pretty cool. Batista gives him a ride to the floor, via the top rope and Utica, and adds a shot to the stairs for good measure. Then in case HHH didn’t quite get enough, he grabs the stairs and rams them into HHH’s head. I was hoping for something more visually dramatic like THROWING them at HHH’s face, but that might be a bit too dangerous. Into the ring, and now the base of the stairs gets set up in the corner, and HHH meets it head on a few times. Luckily his Neanderthal forehead gives him a few inches of extra padding. With HHH dead to the world, Batista gives him the thumbs down and goes for the powerbomb, but HHH goes low and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE follows. That gets two, as someone actually gets to kick out of the deadliest move in wrestling. They actually shouldn’t have Batista do the “thumbs down” signal unless the move is gonna hit. HHH goes for another Pedigree on the stairs, but Batista counters with a NASTY spinebuster on them instead. That’s gonna hurt in the morning, man. He tries to finish with the powerbomb, as HHH grabs the sledgehammer in an effort to counter the move, but he can’t swing it in time and Batista finishes him at 26:57 to retain the title. This was HHH’s first singles loss in the Hell in a Cell match, and Batista’s last match on the RAW brand, as he moved to Smackdown in the draft lottery on the very next episode. Simply brutal and hellaciously violent, it ruled not only because of all the crazy violence, but because both guys exchanged stuff rather than one guy taking a beating (ie, Batista) for 20 minutes and then making a comeback. It was about Batista beating HHH at his own game (pardon the pun), and it was probably Batista’s best singles match, well, ever. ****1/4
The Bottom Line:
With three matches at **** or better, all in a row, that puts Vengeance into some pretty elite company as far as PPVs go. I wasn’t expecting a lot out of this one coming in, and it didn’t have the epic feel or long-term ramifications of something like a Wrestlemania, but it’s well worth tracking down the DVD and watching HHH get beaten to a pulp. Highest recommendation.