The SmarK Rant for WWE Judgment Day 2006 – 05.21.06
(Originally written somewhere around August 2006. I have Vengeance 2006 ready to go for Christmas Eve morning, but I figured that I’d repost this one since I didn’t even remember reviewing it, so probably none of you do either.)
– Yeah, I know that Backlash is really supposed to be next in my queue, but this one looked much more intriguing to me, so there you go.
– Live from Phoenix, AZ, drawing 9800 paid.
– Your hosts are Michael Cole & Tazz
Opening match, Smackdown tag titles: MNM v. Brian Kendrick & Paul London.
It’s kind of funny now that the challengers are in this position, because I spend a good chunk of the new book talking about how London and Kendrick got mistreated and jobbed out in 2004. Shows how fast things can change, I guess. Cole’s first golden line of the night: He apparently calls this a “watercress” moment for MNM. Sure, I know what he was shooting for, but it’s much funnier to think of him comparing the champions to a plant.
Nitro starts out with London and gives us some quality heel posing, and you just know that’s going to come back to bite him. Criss-cross and Nitro lands on his face, allowing London to control via the arm and switch off with Kendrick in the corner. Double-team forearm gets two for Kendrick. More double-teaming sends the champs out to the floor, and London backdrops his partner onto them. Back in, London immediately follows with a high cross, but whiffs on it, allowing MNM to take over in the corner.
Nitro starts working on the leg, and they get a double-team gutbuster on London, with Melina adding a headscissors on the apron. Tazz rightly points out how that’s not really such a terrible thing, and Cole & Tazz actually sound human for a minute, nearly losing it, before going back to their usual robotic banter again. Lukewarm tag to Kendrick, as he clotheslines everyone and hits Mercury with a corner splash, but quickly falls victim to the Snapshot, which gets two. And Kendrick is YOUR face-in-peril. They toss him and Mercury drops him on the apron, and Nitro gets two off that back in the ring. We hit the chinlock and Kendrick quickly fights out and cradles, but the ref is busy with Mercury on the apron. Nice double-team legdrop from the champs and Mercury comes in with a delayed vertical suplex, and that gets two.
Kendrick gets tossed again and it’s more shenanigans from Melina, less pleasant this time, and they work on the neck in the heel corner. Nitro gets two with an arrogant cover and they work Kendrick over in the corner, into another chinlock from Mercury. Sadly, the old “gimme a boot” heel move backfires, as Kendrick sends Mercury into Nitro’s boot and makes the hot tag to London. Flying elbows abound, but London runs into a boot on a corner charge. He quickly comes back with a double-clothesline and rolls up Mercury for two, however. Nitro gets involved and London does the awesome “dropkick one guy into a moonsault on the other” move, getting rid of Nitro and getting two on Mercury. He tries a suplex, but Nitro trips him and Mercury gets two. MNM resorts to an old-fashioned beatdown, but Kendrick gets rid of Nitro and follows with a pescado, which misses. So MNM tries the “I’ll hold him, you charge” bit, which misses as usual, and London rolls up Mercury for the pin and titles at 13:40. ***1/4 Didn’t love the ending, because it’s the same thing we’ve seen for like 50 years before this, but it was a solid tag match to open the show. Sadly, MNM then break up, as Nitro and Melina turn on Mercury, robbing us of another team that could have gone on to greatness with a few more years of seasoning. Although apparently there were extenuating circumstances behind the on-screen breakup and it wasn’t really the fault of creative. Still, too bad.
(Well, Mercury’s career was pretty much ended by injuries and drug problems, so that was pretty extenuating!)
Chris Benoit v. Fit Finlay.
This is what I’m talking about! Lockup battle to start, and they just hang on to that and fight right out of the ring that way. That’s such a cool spot, and one that nobody does. Back in, Benoit gets in his face and takes him down, going for the Sharpshooter quickly, but Finlay reverses to a leglock. Benoit gets a headlock out of that and won’t let Finlay get leverage to escape. Finlay finally powers him over into a pinning combo for two, and that prompts Benoit to release. Finlay then appeals to the referee about a possible poke to the eyes, and then attacks Benoit while demonstrating. Finlay’s turn with the headlock, and when Benoit powers up, Finlay rabbit punches him in the kidneys to take him down again. Oh, nice. Bitchslapping him on the mat goes too far, however, and Benoit slaps the ugly off of Finlay’s face in response to that, and just fucks him up in the corner. Note to self: Do not taunt the Benoit.
Backbreaker gets two. We go back to the headlock again, which Benoit attempts to turn into a crossface, and then headfakes him into a rollup for two. Benoit starts throwing chops in the corner, but Finlay takes him down with a short-arm clothesline for two. Short elbow to the shoulder gets two, and Finlay surfboards the HEAD, jamming his foot into the back of Benoit’s head while holding his arms. Good god, that’s just not right. Benoit actually powers out of it, but leaves his face open, so Finlay kicks him there. Finlay holds on with a choke, but Benoit powers out again and flips Finlay over, but misses an elbow. Finlay gets two off that. Benoit finally has had enough and busts out the rolling germans, but goes up too early and misses the headbutt. Finlay tries to block a charge with a boot, but Benoit legdrags him, so Finlay bails and grabs a chair. Benoit is one step ahead again, baseball sliding the chair into Finlay, and this time the headbutt doesn’t miss. That gets two.
Benoit starts chopping again, but gets ran into the corner, and Finlay gives him the clothesline from behind for two. Nice touch with Charles Robinson sliding out to count outside the ring, in order to get position. Finlay goes to work on the neck, throwing forearms and getting a butt splash for two. A pair of elbows follow and he goes to a rear chinlock. The cool thing about these guys is that every move, even the simple stuff like dropping an elbow, looks as though it makes contact. There’s no lazy shortcuts taken like the usual “fall down and slap the mat to simulate an elbow” that JBL does, and I appreciate that as a fan. Anyway, Finlay continues beating the hell out of Benoit, as he picks him up with a hammerlock and then plasters him in the back of the head to drop him again. Dropkick to the face cuts off a Benoit comeback, and he takes Benoit into the corner for more punishment. Even throwing shoulderblocks in the corner look like they’re real.
Vicious short-arm clothesline gets two. You can just feel the impact with that one. Benoit fights him off again, reversing a slam into another go-around with the rolling germans, but Finlay headbutts him to break. Benoit kicks him out of the ring, but when Finlay goes for the club, Benoit throws a german suplex on the floor to block. Oh, man, that’s awesome. Back in the ring, Benoit knees him on the apron and suplexes him in, carrying on with the Three Amigos. He stops to pay tribute, however, and Finlay sends him crashing into the railing as a result. Back in, Finlay introduces him to the ringpost, but Benoit uses one last burst of energy to take him down and into the crossface, and Finlay taps at 21:09. Tremendous.
****1/4 This was an amazing physical battle, the kind of hyper-real throwback match that you don’t see because guys don’t know how to throw simple punches and kicks anymore. They got plenty of time to tell the story they wanted to tell, and the results were everything I was hoping for.
Melina v. Jillian Hall
And then for a contrast to the last match, there’s this one, as Hall gets a Thesz press and you immediately see a foot of air between her punches and Melina’s head. They fight onto the floor and Melina kicks Hall into the stairs, and takes over with some kicks back in the ring. Melina goes to a bodyscissors and that goes on for a while. Faceplant gets two. Melina chokes her out and throws some nice boots in the corner, but a splash hits knee. Jillian comes back with forearms and a rollup out of the corner for the pin at 4:17. 1/2* Just your standard women’s match.
Cruiserweight title: Gregory Helms v. Super Crazy
Crazy gets a quick rollup for two and a crucifix for two to start, but Helms tosses him. Crazy skins the cat back in and gets another rollup for two, then clotheslines Helms to the floor. The ref prevents a highspot, so Crazy launches off him with a dive, and gets two back in the ring. Crazy tries to get the crowd counting in Spanish in the corner, but Helms gets an atomic drop and a neckbreaker for two. Another neckbreaker gets two. Crossface variation and he pounds on Crazy outside, and back in for two. Crazy blocks a suplex, but gets nowhere, as Helms throws knees on the mat for two. We hit the chinlock as this match is pretty much dead out of the gates and Tazz & Cole blather on about nothing. Crazy reverses to a rollup for two, but gets kneed down again. Helms comes off the middle and misses whatever, and Crazy fights back. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a dropkick set up a moonsault for two. Crazy goes up with a missile dropkick for two. Moonsault misses and the Shining Wizard misses too, allowing Crazy to get a leg lariat for two. Helms gets yet another neckbreaker, but misses a blind charge, as does Crazy, and Helms gets a rollup in the corner for two. Good thing, I couldn’t take another rollup finish tonight. Helms gets another neckbreaker for two. He’s like the Messiah of the neckbreaker or something. I hope Roderick Strong sues. Crazy dumps him in the corner, but Helms gets, yes, a rollup in the corner for the pin to retain.
(Helms d. Super Crazy, rollup — pin, 9:49, *1/4) Total snoozer, as Helms and his six million neckbreakers weren’t the ones to get a good match out of Crazy these days.
Mark Henry v. Kurt Angle.
Well, it can’t be WORSE than their Rumble match, at least. Angle attacks to start, but can’t overpower Henry, so he cannonballs off the middle rope instead for two. Yikes, not a great move for someone with a bad neck to be doing. Angle tries a facelock, but Henry backdrops him, then misses a butt splash. Angle kicks him in the head and sends him to the floor as a result. Angle keeps up the assault out there, trying a german suplex onto the tables, but Henry blocks that and sends him back in again. Angle takes him down with a single-leg and tries working on the leg, which is as smart a plan as any. Henry pounds him down with a clothesline, however, and headbutts him down again to take over.
Henry goes for the simple method, stepping on Angle to work over the ribs, and hammering him down again. He goes to a rear chinlock, showcasing Angle’s new “Revenge” mouthpiece. Very cool. Angle slugs away, but runs into a slam attempt, which he manages to turn into a DDT for two. Angle is pretty determined to get a good match out of Henry here, I’ll give him that. Henry keeps coming with headbutts, so Angle throws a german suplex to take him down, setting up the Angle Slam. That gets two. Henry goes for the ribs again, however, and gets two. Hasn’t anyone learned the lessons taught by DDP? Rib tape is a bullseye for heels. Henry tries another slam, but Angle reverses to the anklelock, forcing Henry to power out and send Angle to the floor. They brawl out there and Henry tries to splash him through the table, which Angle avoids. Henry splashes him onto the post instead and takes the countout win at 9:13. ** Didn’t really get a chance to go anywhere and the finish sucked, but it was certainly not at the level of the Rumble match, so that’s nearly a modern classic in Mark Henry terms.
King of the Ring finals: Booker T v. Bobby Lashley
They really, REALLY need to put the title on Booker while he’s this hot, because there’s no one else who could carry the belt like he would at this point. (OK, so this was clearly written before August, then.) Bobby wins a lockup battle in the corner to start and hammers away with forearms, then follows with a corner clothesline. Snap suplex gets two. Clothesline gets two. Lashley works on the arm and blocks a german suplex attempt from Booker, taking him down for two. Cole notes that it’s ironic that this is the finals, because it began with Lashley attacking Booker during an interview about the tournament. That’s not irony, that’s foreshadowing, and pretty good foreshadowing for this creative team at that. They brawl outside and Lashley hits the stairs, and Booker is more than happy to wait for a countout. Back in, Booker stomps away in the corner and chokes him down for two.
Booker works on the arm with an armbar, but runs into a forearm for the double KO. Lashley comes back with forearms and an atomic drop, but Sharmell’s interference allows Booker to sidekick him. Lashley blocks the Bookend, but Sharmell trips him up and Booker spinkicks him down, into the Bookend for two. Lashley catches a blind charge and counters with a running powerslam for two, and follows with a corner clothesline. Another one is blocked with a sidekick, however, and Booker axe kicks him for two. Another axe kick misses and Lashley spears him to bring up the comeback, but Finlay runs in and clubs him out of nowhere, leaving him open to another axe kick to finish for Booke at 9:12. **1/4 Got going pretty good near the end, but Lashley’s inexperience keeps showing. He should really be a heel at this point in his career, because selling all the time exposes him. Still, long live King Booker!
The Undertaker v. The Great Khali
To say that the entire match will be on Undertaker is an understatement. Khali tosses Taker to start, and fights off a slugging Undertaker to toss him again. UT keeps slugging away and tries the ropewalk, but Khali throws him to the mat. Khali chokes him out in the corner and clotheslines him, leaving Taker to bail. They brawl outside, which goes badly for UT, and Khali tosses him into the stairs. Back in, Khali slams him and UT does the zombie situp, but Khali gives him the BITCHSLAP OF DEATH and gets two. Taker tries fighting back, which Khali sells none of, and even the ropewalk barely moves Khali. They slug it out and Khali gets tied up in the ropes in a very Andre-like spot, but Daivari unties him and Khali boots UT down and finishes with the big chop at 8:30. 1/2* That was pretty darn decisive, and the crowd was NOT expecting Khali to pin Undertaker with one foot after a chop and a kick to the head. You sure can’t say Undertaker didn’t put him over there. And hey, he could have treated him like garbage and made him look like the joke that he is, and I’m sure no one would fault him for it. But he didn’t, so kudos.
Smackdown World title: Rey Mysterio v. JBL
Standoff to start and JBL overpowers him to start and gives him some badmouthing in the corner. JBL pounds him down while Cole explains that it’s ironic that JBL met Eddie two years ago at this PPV. No, that’s coincidental. Damn Alanis Morrissette for ruining irony for everyone. Rey misses the 619, but baseball slides JBL instead and then follows with the senton off the apron. Anyone else notice that there’s a lot more random crowd reaction shots at the this show than usual? Is this a new directorial style or something? Back in the ring, Rey gets a low dropkick for two and baseball slides him for two. He works JBL over in the corner and baseball slides him in the junk, and I think I speak for everyone when I say “Good for him.” Rey dropkicks him out, but misses another slide and gets booted down by JBL, and lifting the leg probably would hurt JBL more than Rey in real life after that low blow. To his credit, he sells it like that for a bit, and sends Rey back into the ring to take over.
Back in, JBL lays in the boots and slugs him out of the ring for more punishment. Back in for two off that. He adds the Three Amigos and drops Rey on the top rope, and boots Rey to the floor in a nice bump by Rey. Bastion of class, JBL shows Rey’s wife the bloody mask and then adds a fallaway slam on the floor, which gets two back in the ring. He throws some short-arm clotheslines and decides to let the ref count Rey down, but he’s up at 8. Another big boot gets two. Rey fights back, but JBL puts him in the sleeper and works on the cut, but releases at two drops of the arm, opting to take a two count instead.
They head up and Rey fights him off, coming down with a moonsault press for two. Crossbody and low kick gets two. Broncobuster is blocked by JBL with a boot, however, and he tries a powerbomb, but Rey reverses to the 619, but the ref is bumped. JBL gets his powerbomb and another ref for two, however. That ref doesn’t last long and JBL opts for a chair instead, but Rey kicks it back in his face, 619, frog splash, goodbye at 15:54. *** Not bad, but not up to the usual main event quality lately. At least they didn’t compound things by putting the title on JBL, although lord knows that’s probably coming sooner rather than later.
Nothing really offensive and a bunch of good matches make this an easy thumbs up, and a surprising one, too. Good show.