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CZW Only The Strong: Scarred 4 Life 05/02/2005

Part two of Maffew Defends CZW 2005, click here to read the January show or don’t and just wing it. Commentators are John House and for whatever reason, Rick Feinberg (a horrible parody of Rob Feinstein). They’ll be yelling into their bass-filled headsets like Gordon Cole in Twin Peaks for the next three hours.

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From the UK: New Year’s Revolution 2005

Hi Scott
Hope you and your family are well
I’ve been giving some thought of getting back into reviewing shows again. Back when I did it for Pulse Wrestling, I’d do the traditional “play by play” review style for matches. That got a bit tiresome though and, to be perfectly honest, it was far too much like your review style. (Seriously, I basically had my own version of all your best lines. Instead of “BONZO GONZO” for example I had “HOUSE EN FEUGO”)
I’ve had a go at a new review style and I was wondering if you’d mind posting this to the blog just so I can get some opinions on it? As it stands, I’m not looking at going back to reviewing full time, but if there’s elements here that The Doomers like I might be able to cultivate them and it could motivate me to start doing reviews more often.
So yeah, I’m essentially looking to do some market research if that’s okay with yourself? It’s cool if not of course, but I just thought I’d ask on the off chance.
This might start up some discussion on the blog as well as I’ve actually been quite favourable to the two most hated matches on the show, not even intentionally to popcorn either, I genuinely don’t hate them that much.
I’ll post the review below.
In the meantime, take care of yourself and all the best!
Mike
 

WWE New Years Revolution

The WWE Network has been substantially eating into my life since I signed up just before the Royal Rumble.
Despite the odd case of bizarre music dubbing (Prince Iaukea’s faux “Purple Rain” theme is edited out but X-Factors “Uncle Kracker” theme remains intact?) I’ve been having a mighty fine time watching the shows and Pay Per Views that I had never seen before but had always wanted to.
I’ve also been re-watching shows that I have seen before, just to see whether the crusty hands of time have altered my memories of them in anyway.
Sometimes I’ll want to watch a show for a particular reason, but other times I’ll just skim through the shows on offer until I see one that I feel like watching.
New Years Revolution was a show I hadn’t watched since way back in 2005 when it first happened. I remember being a bit “meh” on it when it first happened, while also remembering a lot of people on the internet complaining about it. Thus, I decided to watch it again.
The event took place in San Juan, Puerto Rico. To my knowledge, this has been the first and last time that WWE produced a live Pay Per View Event from Puerto Rico. The crowd were, understandably, excited to see such a big event.
Commentators for the show were Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, with Jonathon Coachman popping in towards the end as well.
Opening Match
Raw Tag Titles
Champions – William Regal and Eugene
Vs
Challengers – Tyson Tomko and Christian
The Background

This was back before the Raw and Smackdown Tag Titles had been unified. The Eugene character was an interesting one to say the least. Played by Nick Dinsmore, Eugene was Eric Bischoff’s storyline nephew who had some form of Special Needs. It was never outright said by WWE that this was the case, but it was strongly implied that he was mentally ill (Although WWE never felt it was relevant to furnish us with what Mental Illness he actually had)
As a consequence, Eugene had a childlike innocence to him. His other main character trait was that he was a huge wrestling fan, who had watched wrestling so much that he had developed the ability to copy the moves of his favourite wrestlers like some form of savant. At first, the gimmick was popular and it looked like Eugene was going to reach higher parts of the card than originally expected. However, during the summer of 2004 he’d taken part in a feud with Triple H, which had ended with him being decisively beaten. He faded into the mid card before becoming nothing more than enhancement talent.
Upon his debut, William Regal had been assigned to Eugene by Eric Bischoff, so as to look after him. At first Regal had hated the idea, but during the ensuing months, he grew to care for Eugene and they ended up firm friends and Tag Team Champions to boot.
Tomko was essentially just Christian’s muscle, brought in to be his “Problem Solver”. Christian himself was firmly entrenched as a sneaky mid card heel. He would eventually leave WWE later in 2005, frustrated with his lack of push.
There wasn’t really a particular heated storyline going into this. Christian and Tomko were essentially just “Challengers of the Month” and this was the show they were to get their shot.
The Match
Pretty much a standard opening tag contest. Eugene performed a lot of comedy in the opening exchanges, which the crowd responded to reasonably well. Eugene and Christian entered solid enough performances but Regal had an off night and Tomko wasn’t particularly good at this point in his career. There were a couple of instances where Tomko and Regal were on different pages and had some sloppy exchanges as consequence.
Christian entered a serviceable performance. He looked annoyed at Eugene when he was supposed to, taunted the crowd now and then and was basically just “there”. Disappointing from him really, considering his experience in tag wrestling. Tomko lumbered around and did what he could. Regal seemed to not have his head together at all for this for some reason. Maybe he was carrying an injury or was struggling with fatigue due to the travel involved to get to San Juan?
Heels got the heat on Eugene as well as a further heat on Regal. Eugene got the hot tag but injured himself during his comeback. He threw a dropkick and landed very badly on his leg, causing a legit injury. The match was hastily ended, with Eugene getting a weak roll up on Tomko.
WINNERS – EUGENE AND REGAL
RATING – *1/2
OVERALL THOUGHTS – Standard formula tag match with an abrupt ending due to Eugene’s injury. Can’t really fault any of the guys in the match for the finish, as they were making the best of a bad situation. The match up to that point had been average at best and would have probably ended up around the ** mark if the ending had gone as planned. Basic opener that the crowd responded to well.
I should point out that there were numerous skits by the swimming pool involving Maria, Christy Hemme, Candice Michelle and Stacy Keibler in bikini’s. It all built up to them having a chicken fight in the pool. It was what it was, but didn’t really add anything to the show and I must question actually paying to take them to San Juan just for that.
Second Match
Women’s Title
Champion – Lita
Vs
Challenger – Trish Stratus
The Background

In storyline, Lita had been forced to marry Kane and was due to give birth to his Demon Spawn™ until an unforeseen accident, which we’ll cover in more detail later on, caused her to miscarry.
Trish, being the heel of the piece, decided to mock Lita about losing her baby. It was tasteless but at least created the desired reaction of fans wanting to see Lita beat Trish up, so every cloud. The two had an abrupt match at Survivor Series which had ended in a Disqualification, and was notable for Lita causing Trish to bleed from her nose.
The re-match was a hotly contested bout on Raw, that was actually the Main Event on that particular show, which saw Lita win the title clean to gain a measure of revenge. This was probably the highest status the much beleaguered Women’s Title would ever reach in WWE.
The match on this show was a continuation of the storyline.
The Match
Unfortunately this was the second match on the show that had to go home early due to a legit injury. Lita dove off the apron early in the bout and injured her leg severely. Unable to carry on, an audible was called and Trish kicked Lita to win the match and the title.
WINNER – TRISH STRATUS
RATING – I can’t really give it one as there wasn’t much of a match up to the injury and it would be unfair to mark the ladies down for having to go home early.
OVERALL THOUGHTS – Looked like it was going to be another solid match between the two before the injury. I’m not sure if Trish was due to win anyway and they just went to the planned finish early, or if Lita was due to win and they changed the finish on the fly. Lita would come back after this to help train Trish’s Wrestlemania opponent Christy Hemme. However, the feud would fizzle out in Spring as both women would take their characters in different directions
Third Match
Intercontinental Title
Champion – Shelton Benjamin
Vs
Challenger – Maven
The Background

Maven was fresh off a heel turn around this show. I can’t pinpoint the exact date, but I know he was a face at Survivor Series so it was sometime between that show and this one.
Shelton had been champion since October when he’d defeated Chris Jericho. He’d been pushed as an Upper Mid Card face that could hang with the Main Eventers, but didn’t often defeat them.
Maven had pinned Benjamin in a tag match to set up his role as challenger.
The Match
This match got a lot of negativity at the time but I remembered loving it then and I still love it now. Maven stalled for a few minutes at the start of the match, drawing a decent amount of heat while doing so. Finally, he couldn’t stand it anymore and rolled out of the ring to grab a microphone.
He cut a promo on the audience telling them to be quiet as they were distracting him. This of course only caused the fans to boo him louder and yell obscenities at him in Spanish. Maven continued to insult the crowd declaring “I can’t concentrate with you talking all that gibberish” which went down about as well as you could imagine and still cracks me up every time I see it.
After cutting his promo, Maven finally got into the ring again where he was promptly rolled up by Benjamin for the win. Fabulous!
WINNER – SHELTON BENJAMIN
RATING – Again, I can’t really rate it as a traditional wrestling match because it was essentially an angle more than anything else.
OVERALL THOUGHTS – A lot of people got cheesed off by this match back in the day because having something like this on a Pay Per View was seen as a rip off. I really don’t see that though. To me, a Maven Vs Shelton match would hardly have been a classic. It would have been, at best, an average mid card match and nothing more.
By booking it the way they did, it made the match unique and also gave Maven a great opportunity to get his smarmy heel act over. He was excellent in this and incited the crowd beautifully. Plus, it was funny to watch the arrogant heel get his comeuppance and it made Shelton look strong in the process.
If the first two matches hadn’t had abrupt finishes as a result of injuries, this match probably wouldn’t have received as much of a backlash as it did. I think the fact they followed two interrupted matches with an extended angle made people have a more negative view of this match than was deserved.
Following the match, Maven called Shelton back in to face him again, as he wasn’t ready previously. Maybe he’d been too busy brushing up on his Spanish to do enough squat thrusts and body planks? Shelton obliged, drilled him straight away with a T-Bone Suplex, and beat him again. Marvellous!
Fourth Match
Muhammad Hassan with Daivari
Vs
Jerry Lawler with Jim Ross
The Background

With Islamaphobia rife throughout the Western World, the WWE decided to deal with it in their usual calm and measured way, by debuting Hassan as a stereotypical angry Muslim.
At first, it seemed like they were going to go a different direction with the gimmick and play up the idea that Hassan and Daivari were both normal Americans who were mistreated just because they happened to look Asian (Hassan himself was actually Italian) but by this show they’d gone the whole hog and had just made them evil men who wanted to put Americans in The Camel Clutch.
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler had gotten on the bad side of the two, by decrying their Anti-American comments, so naturally a match was made between the potential hot new heel Hassan and the aging half retired Lawler. This was supposed to get Hassan over somehow. Don’t look at me, I didn’t book it
The Match
The first problem with the match is the length. It takes up nearly 10 minutes, which is far too long for what it needed to be. Secondly, with Lawler wrestling and Ross seconding him, the match had no commentary whatsoever, which only hurt it further.
Hassan sold far too much for a guy they supposedly had top card plans for. He should have polished Lawler off pretty quickly and moved on to fry bigger fish, but that’s not how the match was booked at all.
The work wasn’t particularly thrilling either. I like Jerry Lawler and think he is a good storyteller in the ring, but this match was just flat and uninteresting. Hassan eventually pinned Lawler with a Complete Shot after a tedious contest.
WINNER – MUHAMMAD HASSAN
Rating – *
OVERALL THOUGHTS – Boring match that did nothing to elevate Hassan and was a waste of Lawler’s Legend Status. Hassan would start gaining a little bit of momentum over the following months once he started working with fulltime roster members. He’d even get to face Hulk Hogan at Backlash. In the summer of 2005, he was traded to Smackdown and was positioned to be Batista’s Summer Slam foil.
However, in the build up to a match with The Undertaker where he’d earn his #1 Contendership status to Batista’s Title, WWE shot an offensive angle where a group of balaclava clad mercenaries attacked Undertaker with a piano wire while Hassan prayed outside the ring. Awful as this was, WWE probably would have got away with it, but two days after it was shot there was an Islamic Fundamentalist attack on London.
WWE couldn’t edit the footage in time, or so they claimed, so instead played a pitiful disclaimer at the bottom of the screen while the angle commenced. This netted them a boatload of negative publicity and things got so bad that they decided to “kill off” the Hassan character at that year’s Great American Bash. Quite literally in fact. Undertaker Power Bombed him off a stage and after a shot showing his broken body on the concrete, we never saw him again. Ah, WWE, classy till the end. Marc Copani, who played Hassan, got into acting I think. I wish him well to be honest; it wasn’t like he booked any of the stuff that got WWE in hot water. He was essentially made the scapegoat, when he’d merely been doing what he was told.
Fifth Match
Snitsky
Vs
Kane
The Background

Remember the whole “Lita being pregnant” thing from the second match? WWE decided that they wouldn’t deliver on Lita actually having a child with Kane. With that decision made, they needed a way of getting rid of the imaginary child. Snitsky was the man who ended up with that job. Baby killing isn’t glamorous work, but I hear the dental plan is good at least.
One week Gene Snitsky was just there on Raw, and nothing would ever be the same again. After Kane had forced Lita to carry his wicked offspring, he then naturally followed that up with the logical step of forcing her to marry him. Ah, young love.
This led to a number of occasions where they’d squabble and Kane would lose a match or two as direct consequence. Kane was booked against Snitsky on Raw one week, who everyone watching just assumed was an enhancement guy who was there to put Kane over. Oh, if only we had been so lucky.
In fact, Kane and Lita had another one of their weekly arguments during the match. While they argued, Snitsky grabbed a nearby chair and walloped Kane in the back with it. The force of the chair shot sent Kane tumbling onto Lita, thus causing her to miscarry.
“Hmm” I thought “It’s strange that they’d use a Jobber of the Week for this sort of angle as opposed to a recurring character”. Oh how wrong I was. Because Snitsky was not there as part of a one shot deal, no sir. Next week on television, Jim Ross interviewed Snitsky about the incident. Snitsky, showing no compassion or sympathy, simply declared that “It wasn’t my Fault!” and thus a catchphrase was born.
Snitsky continued to show no lament for his actions. In fact, he even seemed perversely proud of them. At one point he even punted a doll into the crowd! Snitsky was here to stay and WWE decided to go all the way with him and actually let him put Kane out of action in October for a prolonged period of time. This show was Kane’s return and he was looking for revenge.
The Match
This is a strange one for me. The match told a decent story and had sustained crowd heat throughout. However, both men got very tired and as consequence the offence on display was beyond sloppy.
At one point, the brawl spilled to the outside of the ring and Snitsky removed the protective mats, exposed the dreaded concrete. Snitsky then tried to Piledrive Kane onto said concrete, but Kane countered with a back drop and Snitsky took a bump on the unprotected floor. This was a standard spot but the crowd went nuts for it. San Juan really, REALLY liked Kane and it made the match much more entertaining than it normally would have been.
There was some good progression in the match as far as storytelling. Earlier on, Kane tried his Top Rope Clothesline, but Snitsky countered with a raised boot. Later on Kane tried it again and this time managed to get it, which popped the crowd. I don’t know why, but I liked the little touch of him failing the first time. It made it seem like he’d achieved something when he finally connected with the move.
There were some slow points though. Snitsky used at least two rest holds throughout the bout. And, as much as I’d like to ignore it, the work wasn’t good. Snitsky in particular was out of position a few times and hit some sloppy looking moves.
In the end, Kane drilled Snitsky with a Tombstone to pick up the victory, but it was a very ugly looking one that almost ended in disaster. Kane lost his grip of Snitsky on the move and nearly dropped him right on top of his head. It gave me cause to shudder when they showed the replay.
WINNER – KANE
RATING – *1/2
OVERALL THOUGHTS – I’m torn on this one. I was hovering around ** for it but I couldn’t in good conscience give a match this awful that high of a rating. The work in this match leaves a lot to be desired, but both guys work really hard and the live crowd enjoyed it. I personally enjoyed it as well and got into the story of the match, but in the cold harsh reality of star ratings, this was a bad match. Still, I give props to both men as the match build and story made sense and they were clearly putting their all into it.
The feud raged on for a bit longer after this and there was a genuine possibility that Wrestlemania would feature Kane and Undertaker Vs Snitsky and Heidenreich, but thankfully WWE came to their senses and we weren’t subject to having that atrocity foisted upon us.
Main Event
Elimination Chamber for The Vacant Raw World Title
Shawn Michaels as Guest Referee
Triple H with Ric Flair
Vs
Edge
Vs
Batista
Vs
Chris F’ing Benoit
Vs
Chris Jericho
Vs
Randy Orton
The Background

Triple H had won the Title in September, cutting the legs off hot new babyface Orton in the process, and held it until December of 2004. Due to a disputed finish in a Triple Threat Match between Triple H, Edge and Benoit, the belt was held up with the new Champion to be crowned in the Elimination Chamber.
Michaels was instilled as Trouble Shooting Referee™, thanks in large part to having issues with pretty much everyone in the match at some point or another. At this point though Michaels was firmly entrenched in a feud with Edge, who was trying to get over as an opportunistic heel. It would take winning the first ever Money In The Bank Match and stealing Matt Hardy’s bird to finally get Edge past the Upper Midcard to Main Event barrier. At this point he was a moderately over heel with something missing.
The big story going into the match was the rise of Batista. Obstensibly he was there merely to help Triple H win, but ever so small cracks were starting to appear in his relationship with Triple H. Hints were given that maybe he’d take the Title for himself.
Orton was pretty much dead in the water as a face by this point and would be a heel again about a month after this. Ditto for Jericho, although his heel turn would take a bit longer. Benoit was coming off probably the most successful year of his career, which had seen him win the Title at Wrestlemania XX and generally have great matches with everyone from Triple H to Sylvain Grenier.
The Match
What struck me first off was how over everyone in the match was. The San Juan crowd gave everyone, barring Edge, a babyface reaction. Triple H, the companies top heel at the time, received a thunderous ovation, as did Batista. Edge was seemingly the only one to draw any heel heat on his way to the ring. As a result, everyone was clearly jazzed by the reaction and were all up for having a good match.
With such a collection of excellent workers, the match was naturally a good watch. Benoit and Jericho started out and hit each other really hard, as they were always want to do. Edge’s elimination eventually came at the hands of Michaels. Edge had clobbered Michaels by mistake, so a perturbed Michaels had Super Kicked him to lead to a pinfall. Benoit and Jericho had Triple in a dual submission, almost causing him to subut before a last gasp rescue by Batista.
Batista was given scalps of both Benoit and Jericho and was generally booked very strong. It eventually came down to Batista, Orton and Triple H. Orton was able to clock Batista with an RKO and eliminate him. Of interest though was the fact that Triple H could have potentially saved Batista, but he instead left him to his fate. This was a nice subtle touch that added another layer to the Evolution storyline.
Batista eventually clocked Orton with a Lariat before leaving The Chamber, which allowed Triple H to spike Orton with a Pedigree to beat him once again.
WINNER – TRIPLE H
Rating – ****
OVERALL THOUGHTS – An excellent Main Event that made Batista look like a monster while also sowing the seeds for his eventual face turn a month later. Orton was made to look like a chump again, but that was par for the course at this point in his babyface run.
Benoit, as always, was the glue that held everything together and Edge gave a good showing of himself up until his elimination. Back in the day, I very much had a feeling of “What was the point of all that if the belt just ends up with Triple H again?”, but looking at it now I feel a bit differently.
This was the match that tied up some loose ends while also laying down the tarmac for the Road to Wrestlemania. This was the match that essentially finished Orton as a top level face, ending that chapter of his career so he could switch back heel in time for his match at Wrestlemania with The Undertaker. It also set up the Edge and Michaels marriage for the next month, which in turn led to Michaels Vs Angle for Wrestlemania while also giving Edge something else to complain about before he won the briefcase at Mania.
And it also set Batista up as a monster, while also teasing that at some point he might kick Evolution to the curb. This match was the perfect way to get things rolling for Wrestlemania and it was a brilliant match to boot!
OVERALL SHOW THOUGHTS – Not a particularly great show this one, but it does have its moments. I would recommend watching maybe just The Maven/Shelton match and the Chamber match on The Network. Kane/Snitsky is an acquired taste, but you may get some enjoyment out of it if you fast forward through the rest holds and can put up with the sloppy offence.
Peace Out

October Countdown: WWE Taboo Tuesday 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Taboo Tuesday 2005 (I don’t particularly remember if there was a Smackdown PPV for October 2005, because I was drifting away from fandom anyway by then.  I had finally given up on reviewing RAW after 5 straight years of it and Smackdown wasn’t even on the radar.  A quick check of Wikipedia shows that it was actually No Mercy again that year, with a main event of Undertaker v. Bob Orton & Randy Orton in a casket match, so I have DEFINITELY never reviewed that show because I know I’d remember a trainwreck like that.)  – It boggles my mind that they actually did this concept show two years in a row, with a third on the way. – Live from San Diego, CA. – Your hosts are Joey Styles and King. – Opening match: Gene Snitsky & Chris Masters v. Rey Mysterio & Matt Hardy Fan voting was supposed to put Rey and JBL in the Smackdown slot here, but actually giving fans a choice to think for themselves backfired, and Matt was put in the spot instead. This match is mildly notable for having Christian as one of the choices, as he made his last appearance, without a contract, before joining TNA at their next PPV. Snitsky is replacing an injured Edge here. (How was Edge & Masters any more of a sensible team?  What the fuck was even the issue here that they had to make this tag match?)  Masters attacks Rey and gets two to start, with a funny visual as Mike Chioda and Nick Patrick fight over reffing duties. Rey reverses a slam into a rollup for two, causing Snitsky to stomp him down and choke away. Bodyslam gets two. I’ve heard of sticking to the basics, but geez. Masters gets a series of backbreakers, but Rey fights out and they botch the Rube Goldberg bulldog spot, which Masters counters for two anyway. Chinlock time! Hot tag Matt Hardy and he forearms Snitsky down and baseball slides Masters off the apron, and gets the Side Effect after an awkward sequence with Snitsky. Twist of Fate is blocked, but Snitsky misses a blind charge and Matt brings him down with a superplex for two. Snitsky + Improvising matches = UGLY. Masters comes in and double-teams Matt, and the heels take over as Matt is YOUR cuckold-in-peril. Masters with a butterfly suplex for two and he starts working on the back, surfboarding Matt as a result. Matt fights up, but Masters kills him with a clothesline for two. When Chris Masters looks like the veteran in a match, you know that his partner is green. Snitsky comes in and works a wristlock on Matt, then takes him down with a fairly nice spinebuster for two. Catapult under the ropes and Masters comes in with a facelock to cut off a potential tag. Check out the big brain on Masters there! Matt fights out and gets a flying clothesline for two, but Masters hangs onto the leg and won’t let him tag. More smart tag wrestling, as Snitsky bullies Rey off the apron and drops elbows on Matt without fear of interference from Matt’s partner. Blind charge misses again, however, and Matt tries a high cross, which Snitsky reverses into a powerslam setup, and Matt turns that into a DDT. Hot tag Rey, and the crowd is quite hot for that, showing that if you keep it simple, it’ll work. High cross gets two on Masters. Low dropkick gets two. Snitsky misses yet another charge and Rey tries a tornado DDT, but Snitsky wisely throws him into the Masterlock. Rey pushes off, but the refs fight and Matt breaks it up with a legdrop. It’s BONZO GONZO and the heels are dumped, as the faces follow with stereo dives. Back in, Masters is the victim of a sunset flip for two from Rey. Snitsky trips him up and Masters hits him with an F5 for two, however. The madness continues as Matt takes Snitsky out with a DDT and Rey finishes things with a 619 into a Twist of Fate into a flying splash for the pin. (Rey Mysterio & Matt Hardy d. Gene Snitsky & Chris Masters, Rey flying splash — pin Masters, 13:44, **3/4) This was a surprisingly entertaining tag match, as they kept it simple and protected Snitsky in the process. I almost think they should have kept Masters & Snitsky together as a regular tag team. Rob Conway & Tyson Tomko v. Eugene & Jimmy Snuka This has bad idea written all over it. (Something something Tyson Tomko got high and killed Snuka’s girlfriend…hmm, I’ll have to work on that one and get back to you.)  Rob Conway’s short-lived gimmick of attacking legends begat a more fitting gimmick: Jobbing on internet broadcasts. Conway’s really a guy who would benefit from going to a place like TNA where he could build a character without getting lost in the shuffle. It’d be like getting Buff Bagwell at half the price and twice the talent! Eugene mocks Tomko via a test of strength to start, and gets a slam, but Conway attacks from behind and stomps away. Elbowdrop gets two. Dropkick and Tomko comes in and this match is dead in the water. Tomko powerslams Eugene for two, and Conway hits the chinlock. Eugene fights out and clotheslines Conway, and it’s hot tag Snuka. It’s BONZO GONZO as Snuka does his limited chop-and-headbutt offense, leaving Eugene to hit Conway with Rock Bottom before the Superfly splash ends it. Thankfully. (Jimmy Snuka & Eugene d. Tyson Tomko & Rob Conway, Snuka flying splash — pin Conway, 6:19, 1/2*) Considering that Snuka hung on way past the point where he was a self-parody in the 90s, and ditto for Duggan, it’s hardly nostalgia to see them out there peddling the same act yet again.  (Sadly, they keep trotting them out for “Legends” shows because the money is still good for them.) Carlito v. Mankind (Another one where I don’t remember a single thing about the feud or even that they had an issue.)  In one of the lamer votes of the evening, which is saying something, fans got to vote which persona Mick Foley wrestled as here. Mick is using the Corporate Mankind persona rather than the true Mankind one, but I guess the shirt and tie is easier to throw on. He quickly gets Carlito in the Tree of Woe and drops an elbow, then catapults him in the ropes and baseball slides him to the floor. Sadly, irony rears its ugly head, as Mankind charges with a chair and gets sent into it. Back in, Carlito pounds away to take over. Half-assed electric chair gets two. I understand WHY Mick feels the need to do these “comeback” matches every once in a while, but there’s little out there sadder than seeing Foley not giving a crap. Mick escapes a sleeper and they clothesline each other, allowing Mick to make the comeback. Running knee in the corner and Cactus Clothesline follow. Hearing Joey Styles crow about “vintage Mankind” as though he had any historical connection to the character is ridiculous and probably a big reason why he didn’t work as announcer. Back in, Mr. Socko ends it. (Mankind d. Carlito, Mandible Sock — submission, 7:21, *) No real drama to this one, as Carlito was little more than a Saturday afternoon jobber here in a “feud” that was built up from nothing and went nowhere.  (Ah, good, there’s a reason I don’t remember it, then.) RAW World tag titles: Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch v. Big Show & Kane This is of course the consolation prize for Kane & Show for losing the main event vote, although Shawn Michaels only beating Kane by 8% of the vote made it closer to an embarrassing situation than they probably would have liked. Cade and Murdoch had just won the titles and were on the verge of a potentially entertaining run as champions, which is why the result here was probably so obvious in hindsight. One show in and they’ve already got Joey spewing the same old crap about how you have to see Big Show in person because he’s so big.  (Clearly Joey was just as much of a victim of Vince in the headset as Michael Cole currently is.)  Again I repeat, I’ve seen him wrestle live upwards of 20 times, and he sucked most of the times regardless of how big he was. Kane pounds on Murdoch in the corner to start and chokes away, following with the corner clotheslines. Murdoch may be green, but his selling and facials showed real potential before they abandoned him. Cade comes in and doesn’t have much better luck, as Show clubs away with the clubbing forearms. Cade’s another guy that they were really high on in OVW for years, and despite being given the perfect gimmick here he just got fed to the wolves. I still don’t know why.  (Didn’t matter in the long run.  He ended up just another stat.)  Cade goes to the eyes to slow down the Show and brings in Murdoch, who gets pummelled as a result. So Murdoch pokes Kane in the eyes and brings in Cade, and he immediately gets clobbered too. Kane goes up, but finally Cade and Murdoch buzz around him like flies enough to knock him down and double-team him on the floor to take over. Murdoch surfboards him, and an atomic drop sets up a neckbreaker from Cade, which Kane immediately no-sells. They try a double-team, but Kane makes his own comeback and fights them off for the hot tag to Show. Show destroys everyone and splashes Cade in the corner, while Murdoch walks into a flying clothesline from Kane and gets dumped. Double chokeslam finishes Cade. (Big Show & Kane d. Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch, chokeslam — pin Cade, 7:57, 1/2*) The champions were treated as total jobbers, getting little or no offense and presenting absolutely no threat to Kane & Show. Cade & Murdoch were split up right afterwards and disappeared. Goldust, Vader & Coach v. Batista. Now the votes get downright idiotic, although deliberately so in this case, as the choices were verbal debate, arm-wrestling, or street fight. One guess which won. This was a result of Steve Austin flaking out yet again, although in this case he had the decency to give a week’s notice and thus prevent false-advertising his name on the show. Just another reason why I don’t respect him any more. (I do like his movies, though.)  Batista fights off both of Coach’s backup and destroys Goldust with a spear. He tries a suplex on Vader, but thankfully Goldust breaks it up with a kendo stick before we had to watch Vader trying to take a suplex in his condition. Vader & Goldust hold Batista down while Coach whips him with a belt, but Batista thankfully makes the comeback and whips everyone with the belt himself before putting everyone out of their misery with spinebusters and a demon bomb on Coach to finish. (Batista d. The World, demon bomb — pin Coach, 4:16, DUD) You’d have to be nuts to think they would stick their #1 guy in there and have things go any other way than him destroying three people single-handedly. Goldust actually got a JOB out of this travesty, however, which shocks me. OK, not really.  (Yeah, and then he made Sheamus look so good on ECW that they decided to push Sheamus as their new #2 guy for years afterwards.  THANKS, Goldust.)  WWE Women’s title: Battle royale More lame voting as fans vote between lingerie, leather & lace, or cheerleaders, and predictably lingerie wins. So we’ve got Ashley, Candice, Victoria, Maria, Mickie James, and of course Trish Stratus. The lingerie worn is nothing more revealing than they normally wear. Trish and Victoria fight on the top to start, and Victoria nearly goes out. Trish and Mickie toss Maria, then team up and go after Victoria with no luck. Candice and Ashley do some bad amateur-hour stuff in the corner, and Ashley shoves her out of the ring while she’s dancing. Victoria sideslams Trish, almost injecting some wrestling into this wrestling match, but gets caught with a headscissors by Mickie and put on the apron. Victoria comes back and catapults Ashley out, then sideslams Mickie. Trish uses a swinging headscissors to put Victoria on the apron and nearly goes out herself, but Mickie freaks out and saves her. Matrix dodge from Trish, but Victoria butt-splashes her to counter that. Victoria tries to get her out again, but Mickie saves her again, basically sacrificing herself and giving the match to Trish. (Trish Stratus wins battle royale, 5:26) I could really use a good match to lift my spirits here. Intercontinental title, Steel cage match: Ric Flair v. HHH Another silly vote, as the choices were “1 fall to a finish”, submission, or steel cage. Well, duh. Flair gets the first chop and dares HHH to bring it on, and they slug it out in the corner. Flair actually wins that one pretty handily before HHH uses the knee and takes him down. Choking in the corner, but Flair is all about the chops, so HHH hits him with a spinebuster. Flair is already bleeding, so HHH introduces him to the cold, hard, unforgiving, yada yada, and makes it official. Very few people go into the cage face-first with the gusto that Flair has over the years. And of course we get the cheese grater action on Flair, because it just wouldn’t be Flair in a cage match without it. Nice, simple move from HHH, too, as he splashes Flair into the cage while he’s recovering. Flair’s bladejob is just gory. HHH adds a little insult to injury, dropping a Flair-like knee on him before sending him back into the cage again. HHH casually climbs up and over, but Flair stops him and they slug it out on the top rope. No surprise what happens next, as Flair takes his patented crotch-first bump, but so does HHH. However, HHH finds a piece of chain left untied at top, only to jump onto Flair’s boot. See, that’s one time where the spot at least makes some sense — HHH was specifically trying a fistdrop off the top rather than some indeterminate move. Flair goes for the figure-four to capitalize, but HHH still has the chain on his fist, and he makes use of it to block. Good timing there. HHH keeps slugging away and Flair keeps bleeding, setting up a Flair Flop and another kneedrop from HHH. Just for fun, HHH puts him in a figure-four, and Flair yelling “I’ll kill you!” while he fights it is tremendous stuff. Not quite Kurt Angle yelling “Tap or I’ll break your fucking ankle!” at the Rock in 2001, but up there nonetheless. Flair reverses it, but HHH makes the ropes. HHH makes another attempt at the figure-four, really rubbing it into the fans’ faces, but Flair shoves him into the cage and it’s double juice. Flair biting the cut like a maniac is great, and he pounds away on the cut, finally back in his element as a cheating bastard. HHH gets treated to payback for all the cage spots, and Flair even fish-hooks him, which is even illegal in the UFC! Now that’s cheating! Flair gets a vertical suplex and his own kneedrops, as this is all setup and payoff, and Flair chops him to set up the chop block. Flair goes to work on the leg, literally smelling blood (I should write this stuff for these announcers…) and pounds the crap out of the leg. Figure-four follows, with a good visual of a bloody HHH screaming in pain. It doesn’t take much to entertain me sometimes. HHH finally nails the ref to break the move, but Flair goes right back to the leg again. Flair climbs, but suckers HHH into an axehandle off the top for two. Low blow follows. I always consider adding an extra star for every time HHH gets nailed in the junk. It just doesn’t get old. Flair tries to walk out, but gets pulled in by HHH, bringing a chair in with him. HHH takes a swing with it, but Flair goes back to the babymaker again, thus adding another star. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed to a backdrop and Flair keeps it simple, clobbering him with the chair. THREE TIMES. It’s like my dream HHH match. And that’s enough to walk out. (Ric Flair d. HHH, Flair exits cage, 23:45, ***3/4) This was some tremendous old-school stuff, with HHH doing all sorts of nasty stuff to Flair and then having it all done back to him again, and Flair the old dog using every cheap trick in the book to hold off the challenger. The ending was a bit weak, with a pinfall or submission really being needed here, but any match that has HHH getting abused to this degree earns my respect. RAW World title: John Cena v. Kurt Angle v. Shawn Michaels Angle attacks both guys to start and pounds Cena down with forearms, but Cena comes back and suplexes him for one. Shawn tries fighting off both guys at once, reversing a suplex on Angle for two, but Cena saves. Angle takes over on them now, but charges Cena and gets dumped, leaving Cena and Michaels to do their thing. Shawn throws chops, then stops to baseball slide Angle, leaving himself open to a backslide from Cena as a result. Shawn plays heelish and chokes him out in the corner, and throws him into an Angle german suplex, as Angle suddenly goes nuts with suplexes and takes both guys out. Shawn reverses the Angle Slam, but Angle turns it into the anklelock, which Shawn kicks out of. Cena catches Angle with the FU, but Shawn breaks it up. Cena cradles Angle for two. Angle sunset flip is blocked by Cena, but Shawn bodyblocks him for two, reversed by Cena for two. Angle and Shawn finally get smart and gang-beat him, which the crowd LOVES, and Angle pounds away. They team up and send Cena into the post to get rid of him, and then team up to put him through the Spanish announce table for good measure. So it’s time to get down to the business of having an awesome match without him. Nice of you to show up, John, enjoy the match from ringside. Shawn and Kurt immediately turn on each other and slug it out, and Shawn powerslams him for two. Angle comes back with a back elbow and a kneelift, as the crowd is clearly behind him now. Snap suplex gets two. Angle goes to the bodyscissors and slows things down a lot, but Shawn rolls him over for two. He tries to come back, but Angle snaps off the overhead suplex and they head up. Angle’s superplex is blocked and Shawn tries to follow with the flying elbow, but he falls victim to the Pop-Up Superplex for two. Angle pulls down the straps, but Cena returns to ruin things and dumps Angle. Cena backdrops Shawn and follows with a backdrop suplex, but Angle yanks him out of the ring and tosses him into the crowd. Shawn answers with a somersault plancha onto Angle and they head into the ring again, where Shawn gets the forearm and makes the comeback. Atomic drop and clotheslines and Cena gets drawn into the ring again. Shawn gives him a flying forearm too, but kips up into an Angle belly-to-belly that puts him on the floor. Angle then walks into Cena’s backdrop suplex and five knuckle shuffle. FU is reversed to the anklelock, and the crowd goes absolutely nuts for that. Cena can’t shove him off because Angle is a machine as usual, and it’s heel hook time. However, that leaves Angle open to a flying elbow from Shawn. Superkick goes to Angle, but Shawn gets FU’d. (John Cena d. Shawn Michaels & Kurt Angle, Cena FU — pin Michaels, 16:42, ***) Cena was WAY out of his league here, like Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts getting married type of out of his league. The Pulse: Most of the show was a depressing mess, but HHH-Flair really pulled it out of the fire, even if the main event couldn’t deliver what was promised. Was it enough to save the show? Nah. Recommendation to avoid.  (Even I kind of ran out of things to say about this dull show by the end.) 

SummerFest Countdown: 2005

(2012 Scott sez:  I don’t even remember ranting on this one, but it’s there, so I guess I did.)  The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2005 – Live from Washington, DC – Your hosts are JR, King, Coach, Cole and Tazz. – Opening match, US title: Orlando Jordan v. Chris Benoit. Benoit takes him into the corner with a lockup to start, then finishes with the german suplex and crossface at 0:25 to win the title. That’s called “no fucking around,” yo. I guess Jordan failed the Billy Gunn Test at the Bash. So if anything, Matt Hardy can take solace in knowing that he can’t get buried any worse than Jordan did tonight. (Orlando should have been counting his lucky stars he was ever on TV in the first place.)  – Matt Hardy v. Edge. Big slugfest outside to start and they head in, where Matt continues pounding away in a more realistic style than you normally see. He grabs a rear choke, but Edge makes the ropes. Well, that kind of ruins the illusion. Hardy does some nice stiff shots in the corner, but gets headbutted and rabbit-punched in the back of the head by Edge. Edge spears him from the apron to the floor in a nice spot that again breaks the suspension of disbelief a bit. I guess within the physics of wrestling it’s OK, though. Matt fights back with forearms in the corner and does the corner mount spot, but Edge drops him on the ringpost and busts him open bigtime. Hey, nice counter. For those who said it might have been accidental, the replay clearly shows Matt setting himself up for the spot and guiding his own head down. Also, people don’t bleed from the forehead in a real fight. Just saying. Edge keeps kicking the shit out of him, and the ref stops the match at 4:45. For THAT bladejob? I’ve seen Mick Foley cut himself worse while shaving. Kinda cool and different for a bit, and then it turned into a burial of Matt Hardy. *1/2  (Oh, it would get worse.)  – Ladder match: Rey Mysterio v. Eddie Guerrero. This is of course for custody of Rey’s son, Dominick. And you thought that Matt Hardy v. Kane for the marriage of Lita last year was the height of silliness. Au contraire, I say. Eddie attacks him to start and gets a nice backdrop suplex, but Rey comes back with a monkey flip to send Eddie out to the floor. Rey charges but gets sent into the ladder, as the director is again fixated on shots of Dominick at ringside every 7 seconds. Eddie gets the ladder and makes the first climb for the briefcase, but the Big Bossman raises it up! Oh, wait, sorry, wrong decade. No, actually Rey springboards in to knock him off. Rey gets another ladder and they fight over it, but Rey kicks it in his face and then follows with a springboard to the floor. That’s pretty sick. Rey climbs, but Eddie follows and they slug it out on top. Eddie tries to bring him down with a sunset flip, but they mess up the spot. Eddie opts to ram the ladder into his face instead, and then brings yet another one in. Dominick looks concerned. Or maybe it’s hungry. Who knows with this kid? Rey gets slammed on a ladder and Eddie sandwiches him and hits him with the springboard senton. Dominick is still hungry. And they even have a replay of his blank stare. Just in case we missed it the first 10 times. Eddie climbs, but Rey makes a ramp with the other ladder and climbs up to follow. Rey backdrops him off the ladder and they all fall down in a heap, a REALLY ugly spot that looked dangerous in the bad way. Rey climbs again, but Eddie dropkicks him down, and Dominick is still hungry. SOMEONE GET THIS KID SOME NACHOS! Eddie puts a ladder in the corner on top of the ropes, and powerbombs Rey onto it to block a charge. Now really, why would you charge at someone when there’s a ladder behind them? Eddie climbs again, but now Dominick comes into the ring and tries to stop Eddie, as this breaks through the stupid barrier at Mach 3. Eddie stops to chastise the kid, but Rey attacks him and makes the comeback. 619 using the ladder follows, but really that would hurt Rey’s leg a lot more than it would hurt Eddie. Rey climbs, but Eddie comes up from under him and tries an electric chair, which Rey reverses into a powerbomb. Rey climbs again and grabs the briefcase, but Eddie kicks the ladder out from under him, and Rey falls into a powerbomb from Eddie. Eddie pins him under the ladder and climbs up, as they take forever and seemingly stall for time while Eddie SLOOOOOOWLY unhooks the case, but Rey wiggles free, leaving Eddie hanging on the hook. Rey pulls him down and Eddie freaks out on the ref, as apparently someone missed their cue and it screwed up the finish. I think he was yelling “Where the fuck was Vicky,” so his wife must have been scheduled for a run-in. Eddie hits him with the triple suplexes and climbs again, and now Vicky Guerrero gets her cue and runs in, trying to talk Eddie down. (Who would have thought that she’d end up being the player that she is now?)  She pushes him off the ladder, which would have worked better with Rey pinned under it, obviously, and Rey climbs and wins custody of his son at 20:19. It’s just so gosh darned heartwarming. Luckily someone remembers to cue Dominick so he knew when to cheer and run in for the celebration. Another disappointing, overbooked outing in a series of them. The finish probably sounded a lot more dramatic on paper than it came across on TV. ***1/4 And has any heel turned in a hot angle and then proceeded to lose more than Eddie Guerrero this year?  (It would shortly get even worse for Eddie, of course.)  – Eugene Invitational: Eugene v. Kurt Angle. No time limit here. Angle’s reaction and aura put him so clearly above Eugene that this should be little more than a squash. And indeed Angle punks him out to start and absolutely murders him to a big reaction, hitting a series of hard clotheslines before Eugene comes back with a spinebuster and gets booed. Retard Elbow is blocked with another vicious clothesline, and that gets two for Angle. The crowd is clearly behind Angle as he fires off the german suplexes and then drives a knee into Eugene’s face. Eugene fights back, again drawing the boos, but Angle casually dodges him and hits another german suplex for two. Eugene is TARDING UP, however, again drawing the biggest heel heat of the night thus far, and Retard Bottom gets two. Stunner gets two. Eugene pulls out an anklelock, but Angle is like “Nigga, please” (That got edited to “Bitch, Please” upon original posting at InsidePulse I now recall, which would be pretty much the only time Widro has ever asked me to change anything.)  and easily reverses into the Angle Slam and anklelock to mercifully finish at 4:32. Eugene’s character has gone so far off the track of the original idea that it’s just time to retire it and find something new to do with him. *1/4 (Like U-Gene, who does the same thing but on the indy circuit!)  Instead of a deceptively brilliant wrestling machine, he’s just become a lovable underdog jobber who occasionally steals moves of those above him, and that’s a loser character. (Just ask Santino.) Angle reclaims his medals and moves onto John Cena, rightfully destroying Eugene in little more than a squash. – Undertaker v. Randy Orton. UT overpowers Orton to start, speaking of characters who are falling off their original track. What got Orton over as a heel were his cocky promos, which he backed up with actions in the ring, not cowering from dry ice and special effects like he’s been doing on Smackdown lately. There’s already a million cowardly heels on TV right now.  (You’ll note that it was the transformation into crazed APEX PREDATOR Randy Orton that got him over once and for all.)  Orton comes back with a hiptoss into a clothesline, but Taker boots him down. Taker grabs the arm and tries to go old school, but Orton yanks him down with an armdrag and takes over with forearms in the corner. Taker slugs back and gets the leaping clothesline for two. Taker slugs away in the corner and hits him with a running knee into the corner, very slowly working him over. Another charge misses, however, and Orton starts working on the knee. DDT gets two. Orton wraps the knee around the post and drops a knee for two. Taker fights up, so Orton boots him down again for two. Powerslam gets two. Orton works the knee over and clips him, and that sets up another long stretch of nothing. Taker finally pushes him out of the ring to come back and gets the legdrop on the apron. Back in for the ROPEWALK OF DOOM as you just don’t get any sense of pain or selling from Undertaker. He’s really been phoning it in this year. On the other hand, it’s not like he’s had much to work with. Downward Spiral gets two. Snake Eyes, but Orton does the All Japan delayed sell and hits a dropkick before going down. This sets up the RKO, but Taker blocks it. They do the tombstone reversal spot, but Orton opts for a neckbreaker instead, and that gets two. Orton goes up with the high cross, but Taker rolls through into a chokeslam. However, Cowboy Bob runs into the ring dressed as a fan, and after Taker gets distracted it’s RKO goodbye at 17:16. Longer than their Wrestlemania match, but not better by any means. Taker had no interest in making Orton look like anything but a lucky punk and there was just too much laying around and nothingness here. **1/4 Compared to what Taker did for Brock Lesnar in 2002, and even what he did for Orton at Wrestlemania, this was really lacking.  (They had a pretty good Hell in a Cell match later in the year where UT finally put him over as something special, though.)  – RAW World title: John Cena v. Chris Jericho. (This feud did nothing for me and it was readily apparent that Jericho just wasn’t into the whole pro wrestling thing anymore.)  They fight for a headlock to start and Jericho powers him down, which leads to a quick slugfest and a corner clothesline from Jericho. He pounds away and gets a leg lariat, which puts Cena on the apron, but Jericho whiffs on the springboard bodyblock. Back in, Cena gets a running elbow into the corner, but runs into a dropkick. Jericho takes over and gets a low dropkick, going into a chinlock. Jericho tosses him and follows with a dropkick from the apron, and then gives Cena a lovetap to the ribs with his foot. Back in the ring, Cena gets put up and brought down with a superplex, but Jericho hurts himself a bit on the move. He still gets two. Cena comes back with his usual clotheslines, but misses the shoulderblock. The crowd actually starts to get into Jericho as a result, and he follows with the bulldog. Lionsault misses, but he recovers with a Victory Roll into the Walls, which Cena blocks by shoving him out of the ring. And then he guillotines him as he gets back into the ring. That’s actually a pretty good spot, and it gets two. F-U is reversed by Jericho into a DDT, and that gets two. Jericho starts working on the back with elbows and the crowd starts up a duelling chant, getting REALLY loud in the process. Jericho stops to get cocky and Cena cocks him with a lariat, which draws a mixed reaction. Cena comes back with the dreaded Flip Flop and Fly and more clotheslines, and the hiptoss slam sets up the backdrop suplex. Five Knuckle Shuffle draws big boos, but Jericho reverses it into the Walls. Cena makes the ropes, but Jericho pulls him back and the crowd is deeply into it. Finally he makes them again and the crowd is divided to say the least. Jericho stomps away on his head and goes up, but Cena catches him with a teased F-U from the top. Jericho counters that with a superplex and gets two. F-U finishes him at 14:46, however. Cena has a weird vibe this year, as he draws mixed reactions and bores me on TV, but consistently brings the goods on PPV. (Might as well get used to that.)  ***1/2 Maybe he just has a real talent for having the crap kicked out of him by heels or something. – Smackdown World title: Batista v. JBL. JBL attacks during the pyro, and quickly regrets it, as Batista beats on him near the entranceway and hits him with a fire extinguisher. They fight through the crowd, with JBL again getting the short end of that, but he uses a chair to hold him off. Batista solves that by spearing him through the railing. Well, that works. Into the ring for the first time, where JBL uses a short clothesline and stomps him down. He slugs away in the corner and uses a belt to choke him down. Batista fights back, but JBL catches him with the lariat out of the corner and goes for the stairs instead. JBL tries to powerbomb him on the stairs, but Batista backdrops out of it. Spinebuster, powerbomb, and then another one on the stairs finishes things for the champ at 9:05. Ouch. Well, this had the advantage over last month in that it was 15 minutes shorter and had a finish, but other than that I could live without ever seeing this matchup, or JBL in the main event, ever again. *1/2  (Yeah, well, you’d have to see both a few more times.)  – Hulk Hogan v. Shawn Michaels. Technical difficulties with my copy mean that I have to watch this match with the sound off, so if I miss anything particularly interesting crowd-wise or don’t catch anything particularly stupid from JR, that’s why. Lockup to start, and of course Hogan wins that. Shawn is already bumping like a pinball out there. Shawn grabs a headlock and gets overpowered, again doing a somersault bump off a simple move, and he bails. Back in, Shawn works him over and chops away in the corner, but Hogan beats on him in the other corner until Shawn goes to the eyes to get him away. Hogan clotheslines him out of the ring, and Shawn again does a somersault on the bump, then takes a breather. Man, talk about a contrast in putting someone over between the this and the Undertaker match. (Both are equally damaging, however.)  Hogan somersaults Shawn back into the ring and slugs away, and the Axe Bomber nearly leaves Shawn dead. Sadly, Hogan puts his head down, possibly hoping to blind Shawn with the glare off his bald spot, and gets kicked in the face to put Shawn back on offense again. Shawn smacks him around like the proverbial bitch, but gets whipped into the corner and does a Flair Flip as a result, which leads to Hogan slugging him off the apron and Shawn doing another somersault bump. They brawl outside and Hogan slams him on the table and then whips him into the post, which results in another somersault. It’s like the Marty Jannetty Memorial match or something. Hogan tries to send him into the post again, but you can guess what happens next, and yes indeed Hulk begins to bleed. Shawn starts to work the cut over in the corner as Hogan deftly slices himself open properly, right on camera while walking away from the corner. Hogan is bleeding all over, as I wonder why no ref is running in to stop the match like they did with Matt Hardy? I mean, there’s just as much blood and Hogan IS a senior citizen. Just to bring back memories of the 80s a little more, Shawn grabs a sleeper, which would seem to be counterproductive to his cause since it cuts off the flow of blood to the head. Perhaps a pair of gravity boots would have been more advisable. Despite it being 2005 last time I checked, Hogan is still able to will himself out of the move by wiggling his finger in dramatic fashion, always a handy bit of advise for those who find themselves getting choked down by anyone in real life. (I kept waiting for Chael Sonnen to escape the famous Anderson Silva triangle by doing just that, but sadly no.)  Shawn hits him with the forearm and kips up, which signals the flying elbow is near. Sadly, he was too stoned at Wrestlemania V to pay attention to what happened there when Randy Savage tried that, as Hogan pops up and starts firing away. But alas, the ref is bumped, because we haven’t had one all night and I guess we were due, and both guys are out. Shawn recovers first and tries his elbow again, but thinks better of it this time and opts for a Sharpshooter instead to really egg on the crowd. And it’s not a good one, either. I can’t believe he won the World title with it in 1997. Well, I guess there was other stuff behind it, but still. Hogan makes the ropes, and the second ref is now bumped as well. Shawn takes the opportunity to go low and grabs a chair for good measure, and after a lovetap from that and a flying elbow, it’s looking pretty bad for Hulk. In fact, the superkick looks like it might finish, because god knows Hogan kicking out of a top heel’s finisher is wholly unprecedented. But shockingly, it happens here, as Hogan steals Eugene’s act and hulks up. Punch punch punch big boot legdrop, you know the drill. Good triumphs over evil at 20:43, and now Hogan can go back to promoting his show and living vicariously through his daughter and leave the rest of us alone for a while. **1/2, all for Shawn bumping like a madman for the nostalgia act. The sign in the front row says “Hulk Still Rules.” I’ll take your word for it, brother. The Inside Pulse: A merely good show where a blowaway one was probably needed, as I didn’t see anything I’d classify as “great” and I saw a lot of stuff that I’d classify as “more of the same”. Hogan v. Michaels was an interesting one-man stunt show, but nothing I’d call a classic or go out of my way to see. I may not like all of the people involved with TNA, but they’re hungry and different, two things that this promotion is not. Thumbs slightly up.  (That would have to be VERY slightly.  Shawn-Hogan is quite the trainwreck to behold, however.) 

Assorted April PPV Countdown: WWE Backlash 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Backlash 2005 (2012 Scott sez:  This is the point where my PPV archives start to get REALLY thinned out as I lost more and more interest in WWE.  As such, there’s only this one and 2007 left in the Backlash series.)  – So last year I got to be at this PPV live, which means that the Backlash name now holds a special place in my heart. OK, not really. – Live from Manchester, NH – Your hosts are JR & King. – Opening match, Intercontinental title: Shelton Benjamin v. Chris Jericho. Shelton takes him to the mat to start and they do the bridge/backslide segment, which gets two for both guys. Shelton grabs an armbar and Jericho turns it into a wristlock, so Shelton does the Owen Hart ropeflip escape and goes back to the armbar. They take it to the mat and catfight, but Jericho starts throwing chops to take over. JR notes that Shelton grew up on the hard streets of Orangeberg, South Carolina. I’ve heard bad things about those streets. They fight for a suplex and Jericho lands on the apron, but Shelton springs over and tries to powerbomb him off the apron! Jericho reverses that to a rana to escape and then drops him on the railing to take over. Back in the ring, he lets the mean streak grow a bit by punting Shelton in the ribs and doing the Arrogant Cover for one. We hit the chinlock and Shelton comes back with a flying forearm, but Jericho retains control with a low dropkick and starts choking, like, uh, himself in a major title match. (Or the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs this year!  If us Canuck fans can’t be happy, NO ONE CAN!)  Shelton comes back with a stinger splash out of nowhere into a backdrop suplex, but another trip to the corner proves ill-fated, and Jericho bulldogs him. Shelton is again one step ahead, however, clotheslining him in the back of the head while trying the Lionsault, and they head up. Jericho pushes him down, but Shelton pops up with an incredible vertical leap and superplexes him off instead. That gets two. Shelton stays on him with a faceplant for two. Shelton takes him down with a bodyscissors, but misses the stinger splash and Jericho comes back on him. He takes him down for the lame running choke, but Shelton is ahead of him THERE, too, and catches Jericho with a samoan drop for two. Shelton tries another splash, but Jericho elbows him and catches the enzuigiri for two. I’d say Shelton went to that proverbial well once too often. Shelton gets tossed, but hangs on and springboards in with a crazy hangtime bulldog for two. This guy is gonna blow his knees out by 35. Oklahoma Roll is countered by Jericho for two, however, and he tries the Walls. Shelton counters, so Jericho catapults him into the corner, and Shelton springs back with the exploder for two. Nice sequence. Jericho’s foot was on the ropes, so he drags him into the middle and gets two again. Another try at the exploder is blocked by Jericho, and then an attempt at the dragon whip kick is caught and reversed into the Walls in a SUPER slick sequence. Shelton makes the ropes. If Jericho didn’t win off that, he’s not winning. Shelton comes back with a superkick out of nowhere while Jericho gets upset, and that gets two. Shelton whiffs on a rana and Jericho tries the Lionsault, but hits knees. However, he rolls with it and tries the Walls, and they go into a crazy pinfall reversal sequence that ends with Shelton on top for the pin to retain at 14:29. Shelton is like the one-man show these days. I’d actually like to see a motivated RVD challenging him, because it’d probably be the greatest spot show seen in years. ***3/4  (I’d like to see a motivated RVD these days PERIOD.)  – RAW World tag titles: William Regal & Tajiri v. The Heart Throbs. (Oh my, the Heart Throbs.  The metrosexual tag team where the point of the gimmick got lost in translation between callup and TV debut.)  It’s TAG TEAM TURMOIL. Regal starts with Romeo and they fight over a headlock, as Regal keeps him on the mat. Romeo flips out of a wristlock and brings Antonio in, and Regal handles him with ease, too. Tajiri comes in with a seated dropkick and fires the kicks at Antonio, then takes him down with a hammerlock submission. Standing moonsault gets two. He stops to go after Romeo, however, and gets caught in the wrong corner. Double-team elbow gets two for Antonio. Tajiri fights out of there, but gets taken into the corner, where he reverses into a sunset flip for the pin at 3:09. – William Regal & Tajiri v. Simon Dean & Maven. (Simon Dean and Maven, ladies and gentlemen.  What a tag team division 2005 produced.)  Maven & Dean now have matching purple outfits, so that’s a relief. Dean takes Tajiri down for a kneedrop that gets two, and the heels do some pushups to celebrate a double-team. Maven pounds away on Tajiri and Dean chokes him down, but Tajiri comes back with a high kick and makes the tag to Regal. I guess it was the hot tag, because Regal is certainly a house of fire. Regal suplexes Dean around and finishes him with a running knee at 2:22. – William Regal & Tajiri v. La Resistance. La Rez attacks quickly and stomps the champs down, but Tajiri kicks away at Grenier. Back to Regal for a double-team kick and he puts Grenier down with forearms. Tajiri comes in for more kicks and a legdrop that gets two. Conway comes in and goes nuts on Regal with forearms, and that gets two. Lawler praises the stamina of Regal & Tajiri, although the entire match has gone maybe 8 minutes at this point. Tajiri comes in and tries the Tarantula, but Grenier necksnaps him and Conway rolls up Regal for the pin at 2:56. Bleh. – La Resistance v. The Hurricane & Rosey. Hurricane comes in with a high cross on Grenier. Blockbuster gets two. He tries to spring out of the corner, but Grenier dumps him, smashing Hurricane’s knee into the post in the process in a scary move, and gets two in the ring. Conway pounds on him in the corner and Grenier hits the chinlock. Backdrop suplex gets two. He goes up and misses an elbow, looking like a dying gazelle in the process, and it’s hot tag Rosey. Rosey misses a splash, but slams Conway for two. La Rez tries a double-team, but Hurricane breaks it up. La Rez recovers with a double-team chokeslam on Rosey for two. Rosey shoves them into each other and Hurricane goes up with a splash off Rosey’s shoulders, and we have new champions at 4:05. As if the titles weren’t already a gigantic joke, this match pretty much confirmed it, with a series of jobbers and novelty acts doing 3-minute matches. ** overall for the whole thing. (The tag division at this point was so hopeless that the creative team basically forgot that Hurricane and Rosey were the champions and they ended up holding the belts for months and not even being on TV at the time.)  – Last Man Standing: Edge v. Chris Benoit. (AKA the battle of the men with a combined spinal age of 192) Benoit dives at him and slugs away on the mat to start, and fires off a knee to the gut, then a bunch more to the head. Can some please explain to JR that “dehabilitating” is not pronounced that way nor really even a word? Edge comes back with a shoulder in the corner and stomps away, as the crowd lets him know that they want Matt. So does Jeff Jarrett, apparently.  (Be careful what you wish for, TNA.)  Edge chokes him down and sets up for a quick spear, but Benoit takes him down with a drop toehold and gets a back elbow. Benoit dives in with the crossface, but really that’s useless. Benoit throws some vicious knees on the mat and tries a suplex, but Edge fights out and boots him down. He starts going for the plunder, but Benoit baseball slides a garbage can out of his hands and they brawl on the floor. Into the crowd we go, and back into the ring, which gives JR a chance to use his other favorite dumb word: “Surcease”. And then MORE of the dehabilitation , as Benoit gets the Sharpshooter and Edge taps for no reason. Benoit releases and starts throwing the german suplexes, and after five of them Edge rolls out. The ref counts him down, but he’s up at 8. Benoit waits until he gets up, and then elbows him off the apron again. Back up at 8 and Benoit tries to knock him down with the suicide dive, but Edge counters with the lid as Benoit takes another sick bump. That puts him down for 7, but he’s up again. Edge puts him down again with the lid for 6. Back into the ring, as Edge puts him on the top rope and they slug it out up there. Edge wins that battle and superplexes Benoit on a garbage can. Everyone’s out, but Edge is up at 7 and Benoit is up at 8. Edge hits him with a running knee and some lid shots, but Benoit is up again quickly. So it’s ladder time now, as Edge means business. Benoit fights back and gets slammed as a result, allowing Edge to climb the ladder. Benoit follows him up there and brings him down with a german suplex from the ladder. And they wonder why guys have serious neck injuries. Benoit fires off another german suplex and goes up the ladder, but Edge moves and avoids the diving headbutt. Edge tries to hit him with the Magic Briefcase, but Benoit counters into the crossface and JR is again with the dehabilitating. Edge taps again for no purpose and both guys get counted down, but both up quickly. Benoit throws more suplexes, but gets DDTd on the briefcase. Benoit is up at 9, however. Edge spears him down again, and it’s another 9. Another spear, another 9. Edge goes into the briefcase now, finds a brick, and hits Benoit with it to finish at 18:47. Good brawl, but all the counting spots dragged it down. The storyline at the end with Edge wearing him down and then desperately finishing with the brick worked well. ***1/2 – Lawler interviews a bunch of divas in a pointless segment, which is then interrupted by Chris Masters in an even more pointless segment, as he does a Masterlock Challenge and abuses a woman. Yeah. – Kane v. Viscera. They slug it out in the corner and Kane boots him to the floor to start, and follows with a flying clothesline to the floor. Into the ring, Kane drops a few elbows and gets a legdrop for two. Viscera comes back with the leg lariat, however, and takes over. The elbow misses and Kane goes after Trish, but that allows Vis to get a corner splash and samoan drop for two. Bossman slam gets two. Kane comes back with a DDT after Vis puts his head down for like 5 minutes on an irish whip, and the flying clothesline follows. Chokeslam is blocked, sadly, and Vis clotheslines him to the floor. He tries a splash on the post, but Kane moves. I’m shocked. Trish tries to use a chair to turn the tide, but Lita stops her with a crutch. Back in, Kane goes up again, and gets caught with the tree slam for two. Lita comes in and Viscera stops to put the moves on her, but that allows Kane to get the big boot and chokeslam to mercifully finish this thing at 6:06. Well, at least it was short. 1/4* Viscera takes out his pent-up sexual frustration on Trish, which I guess is supposed to have turned him face. (He did actually end up as a babyface in ECW, didn’t he?)  – Shawn Michaels & Hulk Hogan v. Muhammad Hassan & Khosrow Daivari. Hulk starts with Hassan, who is of course overpowered. Next up, the deadly headlock. Hulk works the arm, but Hassan brings him into the corner and KNOCKS OFF THE DOO-RAG. Oh man, they’re in trouble now. And indeed, Hulk clotheslines both heels down and hits Hassan with the Ax Bomber. Over to Shawn now, and the Balding Egomaniacs do a double boot and Shawn works Hassan over in the corner. He misses an elbow and Daivari comes in and throws some chops on Shawn, but gets double-teamed in the face corner and pounded by Hogan outside. Back in, Hogan chokes him down and drops the elbows. Back to Shawn, who puts his head down and gets into a chop war with Daivari. Flying forearm for Daivari and atomic drop, and Shawn goes up for the flying elbow pretty early. Superkick looks to finish well ahead of schedule, but Hassan interrupts the stomping and hits him with some sort of international object. And as expected, now begins the segment where Shawn sells until he’s on death’s door. If it was Saturday Night’s Main Event, we would have taken a commercial break right about now. Hassan & Daivari work him over and Daivari chokes away in the corner and goes to a surfboard, dehabilitating him and offering no surcease. Oh, great, now he’s got ME doing it. Hassan comes in and hits the chinlock, exposing Shawn’s huge bald spot in rather ugly manner. Shawn fights back with a sleeper on Hassan, but gets taken down with a backbreaker as a result. And now it’s camel clutch time, as Hassan continues to do the tasteless throat-slitting gesture before the move. If he was doing it himself, ala Benoit & Anderson, then it’s fine as a generic gesture of his intensity, but doing it to Shawn is supposed to evoke specific images, and that’s not cool. (Can you believe that Hassan was originally intended as a babyface character?)  Shawn powers out of the deadly rear chinlock with an electric chair, and it’s hot tag Hogan. Much punching results. Big boot for Daivari, but Hogan can’t do the legdrop, so they do a spot where Hassan hits HIM with the object to break it up. Daivari gets two, but it’s Hulk Up time of course. Hassan breaks up the legdrop again, so Shawn finishes Daivari with the superkick, as Hogan gets the pin at 15:14. This was very, very SNME formula, but the heels were no threat so it lacked any of the punch you’d think it would have had. It should have had Shawn bleeding all over the ring and selling some dramatic injury, but instead the heat segment was like 5 minutes long and they finished them off more like they were a minor impediment to their posing routine rather than any kind of serious threat. **  (Of course, Shawn quickly turned on Hogan, the next night if I’m thinking correctly, to set up their Summerslam main event.  The intention was for Hassan to get the rub here and go on to beat Batista for the title at the PPV in Washington, I kid you not. )  – And now Christian joins us, upset that he’s left off the PPV. It might be the last time he’s on a RAW PPV, so he’s going to express himself via a rap aimed at all his fellow main-eventers. “On RAW you’ve got Batista with muscles to spare, but he’s got charisma like Tomko’s got hair. You’ve got HHH and Ric Flair, their legend still grows. 26 titles between them, and the world’s biggest nose. Have you heard the one about JBL, you know the rich guy on Smackdown? Well I hear his taxes are still soaring, but he’s no wrestling god, just a god of boring. Seems to me I’m forgetting somebody. Who am I forgetting? Oh yeah, he’s the guy who inspired this little rap, the WWE champion, John Cena. Well I got a little something for him. Hey Cena, you think I’m jealous of your fortune and fame. Well you talk like Snoop Dogg, but you look like Corey Haim. So after the draft, whether it’s RAW or Smackdown, JR or Michael Cole, I will be champion, because that’s how I roll!” Well, it’s not a match, but I feel enriched. 10 points for effort on the Corey Haim reference, minus several million for current pop culture relevance.  (RIP Corey Haim, of course.)  – RAW World title: Batista v. HHH. Flair trips up Batista to start, and HHH attacks. He quickly goes for the Pedigree, but Batista counters out. Into the lockup and Batista slugs away in the corner, and they fight over their finishes with no one able to get it. Batista indicates that HHH was “that close” to losing, although he might be referring to his penis size judging by the years of steroids and self-centered booking. HHH slugs away in the corner and gets backdropped as a result, and Batista slugs away again. HHH tries another Pedigree, but this time Batista backdrops him over the top and to the floor. Batista follows him out and charges, but walks into a spinebuster into the railing. Guess it’s time for the monster World champion to start selling for HHH again. HHH suplexes him on the floor and starts working on the back, in the ring. He charges and hits elbow and Batista tries his powerbomb again, but HHH counters him into the corner and works the back. Batista gets whipped into the corner and Flair gets some cheapshots in from the outside. Back to the corner, HHH fires away, but Batista fires back. HHH gets the main event spinebuster for two, however. They head back to the corner and Batista catches him with a lariat, then follows with a sideslam. He dumps HHH with a clothesline and they brawl on the floor. Back in, Batista works him over in the corner and gets the powerslam and does some rope-shaking. Batista got over by doing DIFFERENT power stuff, not the same crap that people were doing 15 years ago. That’s one reason why this title reign is dying. (WWE was actually doing really well with Batista as champion.  Of course, with the swapping of Batista and Cena later in the year, they were doing even better.)  Flair tries to interfere, but that allows HHH to get the belt and use it to counter the powerbomb. That gets two. Pedigree is countered again by Batista, and the ref is bumped. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE follows, but there’s no ref. I love how HHH makes sure to get his move and the visual pinfall, just so we know that if there HAD been a ref, it’d be over. HHH tries to wake up the ref, to no avail, so another one comes out to see Batista counter the Pedigree into a spinebuster for two. HHH comes back with a facecrusher for two. Another try at the Pedigree, but Batista powers him into the corner for a clothesline. He gets two more, but HHH kicks the ref in the nuts and we’re minus another one. Flair interferes and gets creamed, and Batista catapults HHH into the corner. He tries the demon bomb, but didn’t give the thumbs down, so HHH counters with a low blow. Did Kevin Sullivan book this? HHH pounds away in the corner, but Batista powerbombs him for the pin at 16:22. I think this was actually worse than Wrestlemania, with a dull main portion and a lot of silly overbooking and ref bumps during the finishing sequence. HHH is just not the guy to selflessly put over a new star and make him into something special. (Well that’s exactly what happened, so I guess 2005 Scott can shut the hell up now.)  *1/4 The Inside Pulse: Really good first hour, but the rest of the show just kind of dragged to a finish. I’d even call the Hogan match a disappointment, as the heels didn’t get enough offense in to really build drama. Two matches over *** is good enough for a thumbs in the middle, and nothing else was bad enough to bring it below that, but I can’t recommend going out of your way to see this one.  (Agreed.  Totally forgettable show.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2005 – Live from Fresno, CA. – Your hosts are JR, King, Cole and Tazz. Opening match: Edge v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn attacks to start and gets a backdrop, then takes him out of the ring with a clothesline. Edge stops to be all crazy, and heads back in to exchange shots in the corner. Shawn gets the best of that and puts his head down, perhaps in celebration, allowing Edge to get a neckbreaker. Edge slugs him down, but Shawn fights back, forcing Edge to use that old standby, the thumb to the eye. Shawn gives him a Thesz Press and tosses him, but misses a baseball slide. Edge gives him an Edge-o-Matic on the floor as a result. Edge follows with his own baseball slide, and this one hits. Back in, Edge sends him into the turnbuckles and stomps away, then fends off another comeback attempt by blocking a rana with a powerbomb. That gets two. Edge hits the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Shawn fights up, so Edge takes him down again and mocks him. That never seems to be a sound strategy. Edge keeps hitting him with chops and charges, but goes up and whiffs, allowing Shawn to get a rollup for two. Edge kicks him down for two. They slug it out and Edge goes for a backdrop suplex, but Shawn falls on top for two. Edge clotheslines him down again and we go back to the chinlock. Shawn fights out and makes the comeback, hitting Edge with an inverted atomic drop and blocking a blind charge with an elbow. That sequence looked pretty awkward. Shawn pounds away in the corner and gets a sunset flip for two. Catapult into the corner gets two. Edge bails and decides to walk out, but Shawn is like “Hey, that’s my act!” and chases him back in again. They brawl on the floor and Shawn walks into a spear. Edge tries for the countout, but Shawn is too darn resilient. Edge gets a little overconfident and sets up for the spear, hitting it clean for two. They head up top and slug it out, which puts Edge down for a flying elbow from Shawn. Shawn gets possessed by the holy spirit and he’s JESUSING UP, but Edge counters the superkick with an electric chair. About time someone thought of that. It gets two. Personally I’m waiting for someone to wait until he sticks his leg in the air and then punch him in the nuts, but maybe that’s just me. (2012 Scott sez:  Pretty sure Jericho busted that one out in 2008, actually.)  Shawn gets a sunset flip, but Edge rolls through into the Edgeucator, and Shawn really should have tapped there. He doesn’t, however, because he’s just too darn resilient. Edge tries again, but Shawn counters for two. Rollup gets two, countered by Edge for the pin at 18:35. Didn’t like the finish and the slow middle portion, but the rest was solid. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t remember the circumstances around this feud, but it seems like it should have been better than it was.)  – Meanwhile, Flair and Eddie draw their numbers, resulting in Flair being delighted and Eddie not so much. The solution: Eddie picks his pocket. That’s certainly a unique solution. – Meanwhile, Heidenreich and Snitsky continue their epic romance from Survivor Series. I think someone’s been watching too much Oz. – Casket match: Undertaker v. Heidenreich. Speaking of Oz, this should be about as much fun as prison rape. UT grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses him into an armdrag. Heidenreich backs off, because he’s afraid of caskets. Interestingly, I’m afraid of Heidenreich matches. So everyone is kind of facing their fears. Taker goes after the knee now and gets a half-crab. Heidenreich bails and tries to run away, but Taker follows, and they brawl. I use that term loosely. Taker gets the worst of it, as Heidenreich overcomes his fear of caskets and rams UT into it a few times. They head into the ring, where Taker gets the deadly Bermuda Triangle Choke, but Snitsky runs in and breaks it up. That’s quite the complex plan they hatched, no? That allows Kane to pop out of the casket, which I’m sure no one saw coming, and clean house on his arch-enemy. How sad is it to have an arch-enemy named Gene Snitsky, whose gimmick is killing babies? Meanwhile, Heidenreich continues to fight his necrophobia, shoving the casket down the aisle while making sure no one else is going to pop out, and he whips UT into the stairs. He drives the casket into Undertaker, although it clearly misses by a lot, and they head back into the ring, where Heidenreich struggles to get a SLEEPER on Undertaker. Yes, he couldn’t remember how to do a sleeper. He rolls Taker into the casket, but that only makes him mad. Taker sandwiches Heidenreich in the casket and drops a leg on it, which was a nice spot if nothing else. Taker tries a bulldog (?!?) and Heidenreich counters to a Bossman slam, then tries a pin. Heidenreich smartens up and rolls him into the casket instead, but again it doesn’t work. They slug it out, with Heidenreich looking like he’s stoned while he flails away, and Taker gets a bad-looking DDT to set up a worse-looking chokeslam, and the tombstone thankfully finishes things at 13:19. Watchable, but not much more. * (2012 Scott sez:  I still feel ripped off that we didn’t get Kane & Undertaker v. Snitsky & Heidenreich at Wrestlemania.)  – Meanwhile, Teddy Long wants Flair’s number back from Eddie. And the wallet. (2012 Scott sez:  The number was probably worth more than the wallet at that point.)  – Meanwhile, John Cena’s number picking is interrupted by Christian, who wants a RAP OFF. “Tomko, give me a beat.” “No.” (2012 Scott sez:  TOMKO~!  This of course was a legendary segment.)  Christian’s rap is both fresh and phat, but Cena wins due to politics. – Smackdown World title: JBL v. Big Show v. Kurt Angle. Bradshaw goes after Show to start, and that doesn’t prove smart. Show smacks him around in the corner, but runs into a boot in the corner. JBL tries to follow with a high cross, but Show catches him and drops a leg for two. That brings Angle into things, and he gets pounded by Show, too. Show suplexes JBL and boots Angle down, then clotheslines both of them out of the ring. They fight on the floor and JBL eats post, while Show moves furniture around. He tries to chokeslam JBL through the table, but Angle saves with a low blow and a monitor to the head that sends Show crashing through the table. So with Show detained for a while, Angle beats on JBL and chases him into the ring, taking him down with an armdrag. JBL tries a big boot, but Angle takes him down with an armbar and tries to stay on that. Bradshaw takes over with a corner clothesline, but falls victim to a german suplex. He tries to counter with the Clothesline from New York, but Angle ducks (what a counter!) and gets another german. Angle Slam is countered with a boot to the face, which gets two. Show wanders back into the match and clotheslines them both a bunch of times, then slams Angle onto JBL. Into the corner for a butt splash on both, and another double clothesline sets up a double chokeslam. Angle and JBL team up for Total Elimination, but then Angle turns on JBL and suplexes him, then gets two on Show. Angle Slam on Show follows, and JBL gets two from that. Show comes back with a chokeslam for two. JBL bails, so Show charges him and puts him through the railing! Now there’s a spot you don’t see every day. Meanwhile Angle sneaks around and sets up a chair in the ring. Show flapjacks him on his own chair, but Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns attack Show. JBL’s flunkies help him out on the floor while Show beats up Angle’s crew, and OJ throws JBL into the ring, where he clotheslines Angle for the pin at 12:04. I know this will probably shock people, but I think this was too SHORT, because I was actually enjoying the hell out of it and liking the inventive spots before the abrupt finish. The overbooked finish kind of hurt it a bit, too. ***1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Talking point:  Who had the worse crew of flunkies at this point, Angle or JBL?)  RAW World title: HHH v. Randy Orton. Orton slugs him down to start and gets a backslide for two. He pounds HHH into the corner and backdrops him out, but a kick RKO attempt is foiled by HHH. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Steve Austin RARELY had the stunner countered or averted, and ditto DDP with the Diamond Cutter. That’s why it was such a great finish. When it happened, it was over, period. Anyway, HHH fights back and pounds away in the corner, but Orton drops him on the top rope and tries ANOTHER RKO, and fails AGAIN, as HHH dumps him out of the ring. Orton’s like a horny teenager going for a girl’s boob with that thing. HHH sends him into the stairs and slugs away, but charges and hits boot. Orton fights back as the crowd starts to turn on him, and HHH clips the knee and wraps it around the post. Back in, HHH clips him and drops an elbow on the knee. He keeps working on it, but Orton gets a cradle for two. HHH goes right back to it, and it’s figure-four time. After a couple of minutes of that, Orton reverses to escape, so HHH goes right back to the knee. Orton kicks him out of the ring, and fights back with a backbreaker as HHH comes back in. And suddenly the knee injury is miraculously healed and forgotten about. Neckbreaker gets two. Another one gets two. Powerslam gets two. HHH comes back with an atomic drop out of the corner and goes up, but gets slammed off. Orton goes up with a high cross for two. HHH comes back with a Pedigree attempt, which gets countered into a catapult. HHH counters the RKO again and follows with a high knee for two. Another Pedigree is countered with a clothesline, which gets two. They fight outside and Orton sends him into the stairs, and back in Orton slugs away in the corner. He tries a DDT, but HHH blocks and Orton seems to have knocked himself out. Orton takes a breather and gets checked out by the ref, who is promptly bumped by HHH. HHH beats Orton down like his bitch and then grabs the sledgehammer, but Orton manages to fight him off. Back in, Orton goes for the hammer, but gets owned by HHH. And that’s all she wrote for Orton, as KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes things at 21:28. Weird match, with a ref bump that didn’t even give Orton any offense, and a total destruction at the end by HHH. Oh well. **3/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Not much to say here.  That was the end of Orton’s big babyface run at the top, and it took him another couple of years to really find his way as a top level guy.)  Royal Rumble: Eddie Guerrero draws #1, and Chris Benoit is #2. They fight in the corner to start and Benoit takes him down with an armdrag, but so does Eddie. Eddie takes him down in a headlock and overpowers him, as Daniel Puder is #3. He stops to cut a promo, talking smack against Benoit and Guerrero, and somehow I’m sensing that’s a bad idea. They team up and kick his ass in the corner, holding a chop competition on him. Double suplex and then Benoit drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex. Guerrero gets the rolling verticals and Hardcore Holly is #4. He calls of Benoit and Guerrero, because he’s got this one. This sets up another chop contest on Puder, as they just tee off on the poor kid. Eh, who am I kidding, for $1,000,000 they can rape him in the middle of the ring and he shouldn’t be bitching. (2012 Scott sez:  How DARE someone get over on their own.  I don’t think Puder is even doing MMA these days, though.)  Holly gives him the Alabama Slam and Hurricane is #5, as Puder is out at 6:00. My boys turn on Holly and dump him at 6:15. Hurricane is their next victim, as they redden up his chest before Eddie betrays Benoit and they go back to fighting with each other again. Hurricane hits Eddie with the Blockbuster, but gets killed by Benoit’s chops again. Eddie dumps him at 7:24. Kenzo Suzuki is #6, and he takes the beating from the Radicalz. Benoit suplexes him and they pound him in the corner, then Eddie gets a backdrop suplex before Benoit tosses him…to the apron. Oooh. Eddie hangs on as Edge is #7. He’s all about Edge, to quote JR, as he goes after everyone without prejudice, and tries to dump Eddie. Doesn’t work, though. Kenzo hooks up with Benoit as Rey Mysterio is #8. He goes after everyone and bulldogs Edge, then dropkicks Benoit in the corner. Kenzo tries to dump him, but Rey hangs on and headscissors him out at 11:28. Eddie hits him with a backbreaker, however, and goes back to Benoit. Shelton Benjamin is #9 as the workrate really starts to flow. He goes after Edge with an elbow and backdrops Eddie as Benoit fights with Rey on the ropes. No one goes out, though. Rey does a nice headscissors on Shelton, and Booker T is #10. He pounds Edge down and gets a leg lariat, and Uncle Eric joins us at ringside for some reason. Rey springboards in from the apron to break up Benoit’s boston crab, and Jericho is #11. He elbows Benjamin down and starts chopping Edge, and now Teddy Long is out. Lots of punching and stuff as Luther Reigns is #12. Suddenly, all the RAW and Smackdown guys separate and team up. Big brawl erupts, which the crowd likes, and Hassan is #13. Now the brand differences are cleared up and everyone teams up to get rid of him at 20:15. Crowd likes that one too. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like Hassan as the outsider who just took things too far was an interesting gimmick idea, and I had no real problem with the subject matter as far as being tasteless or whatever, but he just couldn’t get over as a worker OR a talker, and that’s what killed him.)  Orlando Jordan is #14 as things settle back in the previous rhythm again. I think that the three black guys in the Rumble at the same time is coming close to setting some sort of record. Maybe during the Nation’s glory years there might have been four, but I can’t think of any other time there would be close to that many. The brothers should have teamed up to fight off whitey, but I can’t see that dynamic working as well with the crowd. Scotty 2 Hotty is #15, but Hassan lays him out before he even gets to the ring. Oh, sure, big man beating up a jobber. Scotty never enters the match, and thus is the winner and will presumably wrestle HHH at Wrestlemania. Charlie Haas is #16, as we’re halfway through now, and Booker kicks him in the face on the way in. Booker dumps Reigns at 24:24, and Jordan at 24:25, but Eddie dumps him at 24:42 after a Spinarooni that was ill-advised. Didn’t Ernest Miller’s dancing faux pas last year teach anyone anything? (2012 Scott sez:  Never stop for a dance-off in a Royal Rumble, no matter how funky you may be.  Brodus Clay would be well advised to remember that advice this year.)  Nice moment sees Haas & Benjamin reunited to beat on Eddie, and Rene Dupree is #17. He goes after Rey and chokes him down in the corner, but Haas hotshots him and double-teams him with Benjamin. Rey breaks up the WGTT love with a leg lariat, and Shelton goes up like a moron and gets shoved out by Edge at 26:36. How stupid do you have to be to try THAT? Speaking of stupid, Simon Dean is #18, and he takes his time getting in. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel bad for Nova getting that loser gimmick.)  Edge dumps Eddie at 28:18, drawing HUGE heel heat. They keep burying him and he keeps being the most over babyface on the roster. (2012 Scott sez:  I guess the burial remark ended up being ill-timed there.)  HBK is #19 as Dean finally gets into the ring, and he goes right for Edge. And Dean is gone at 29:11, via Shawn. Shawn goes after everyone and gets slugged down by Haas. Rey plays hide and seek with Edge as Shawn dumps Haas at 30:23, and JR confuses him with Dupree. Kurt Angle is #20, and he goes right for Benoit with a german suplex. It’s Angle Slams for everyone! Well, everyone but Shawn, who blocks and superkicks him out at 31:16. (2012 Scott sez:  Thus setting up one of the greatest WM matches of all-time!)  Coach is #21, and I’m not giving him much in the way of odds to last longer than Angle. Benoit elbows Rey down, and then turns his attention to Coach. Jericho and Rey fight on the ropes, but neither can get the other out. Mark Jindrak is #22, as Angle returns and dumps Shawn at 34:00. He beats on him outside and anklelocks him, which pretty much eats up that whole segment. Viscera is #23, as we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Jindrak tosses Rey, but he hangs on. You’d think everyone would stop and get rid of Vis at this point. Paul London is #24, and quite enthused about it. Dupree beats him down, and Jericho dumps Dupree mid-dance at 37:40. (2012 Scott sez:  What did I JUST SAY about dance-offs in a Rumble?)  Everyone fights on the ropes and John Cena is #25. He goes nuts and hits everyone, then does us a favor and gets rid of Vis at 39:02. The intervals shorten a bit, as Snitsky is #25. He clobbers quite a few people until London tries a sleeper on him. Snitsky puts him on the apron and then clotheslines him off, resulting in London taking the somersault bump of the YEAR off the apron to go out at 40:20. Snitsky boots Cena down and Kane is #26, much to Snitsky’s chagrin. Gene goes after him and gets clotheslined, and Kane chokeslams some people for fun. Jindrak is out at 42:08. Coach commits suicide by attacking him, but Snitsky saves him. The COAT HANGER on Kane follows, and Batista is #27, to a MONSTER face pop. It’s for real, folks. (2012 Scott sez:  Well, duh.  Hard to believe people would think otherwise at the time given what a huge star Batista turned into.)  Snitsky goes bye at 43:10. He faces off with Kane and the crowd knows who it wants to win that one. Demon bomb on Kane! Jericho charges and goes for a ride at 43:57. He can’t get Edge out, however. Christian is #29 and he of course wants John Cena to avenge the rap battle. Cena FUs Kane out at 45:16, and Rey wants an alliance. Flair is of course #30, and we’ve got our field for the finish. Ric and Dave give Coach a ride at 46:32. Next up: Christian, who goes home at 46:57. Benoit goes after Flair with some chops, but Batista clobbers him with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. He goes back to Atlanta at 47:33. Flair tries to turn on Batista, and that proves to be unwise, but Rey and Edge save him. Edge spears Flair and tosses him at 48:06, and we have the last four. Final Four: Edge, Rey Mysterio, Batista and John Cena. (2012 Scott sez:  There’d be a hell of a tag match right there, and you could a few different combos of it effectively) Batista goes after Edge, but gets speared, as does Cena. Edge goes for Rey, but misses, and Rey follows with the 619. But that puts him on the apron, and Edge spears him off at 49:20. Edge goes for our heroes and gets dumped by them at 49:41. So it’s the obvious finish, with Cena and Batista. Slugfest and Cena goes for the FU, but can’t get him out. Batista tries the demon bomb, but both tumble out and it’s a tie. The RAW refs declare Batista the winner, and the Smackdown refs call Cena the winner, but Vince runs out to settle it. Sadly, he trips and blows out his knee on the way in, suffering the worst injury of the whole show. That’s pretty funny, actually. (2012 Scott sez:  Of course, it wasn’t just his knee, he actually tore BOTH quads, and was still back by Wrestlemania!  You can’t say he doesn’t set an example.)  Batista and Cena toss each other to no avail, and the match restarts. Cena goes for the FU, but Batista gets the spinebuster and tosses him for real at 53:54 to win the Rumble and go to Wrestlemania. Finish was really silly and messed up, but the rest was about as good as could be expected. **** The Pulse: The Rumble is always a fun show, even if this year was a bit of a foregone conclusion with either Cena or Batista having to win, although I’m not sure if the Rumble match was good enough to warrant a recommendation on its own given the weak undercard. Still, it was pretty darn good, so thumbs mildly up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2005 – Live from Fresno, CA. – Your hosts are JR, King, Cole and Tazz. Opening match: Edge v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn attacks to start and gets a backdrop, then takes him out of the ring with a clothesline. Edge stops to be all crazy, and heads back in to exchange shots in the corner. Shawn gets the best of that and puts his head down, perhaps in celebration, allowing Edge to get a neckbreaker. Edge slugs him down, but Shawn fights back, forcing Edge to use that old standby, the thumb to the eye. Shawn gives him a Thesz Press and tosses him, but misses a baseball slide. Edge gives him an Edge-o-Matic on the floor as a result. Edge follows with his own baseball slide, and this one hits. Back in, Edge sends him into the turnbuckles and stomps away, then fends off another comeback attempt by blocking a rana with a powerbomb. That gets two. Edge hits the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Shawn fights up, so Edge takes him down again and mocks him. That never seems to be a sound strategy. Edge keeps hitting him with chops and charges, but goes up and whiffs, allowing Shawn to get a rollup for two. Edge kicks him down for two. They slug it out and Edge goes for a backdrop suplex, but Shawn falls on top for two. Edge clotheslines him down again and we go back to the chinlock. Shawn fights out and makes the comeback, hitting Edge with an inverted atomic drop and blocking a blind charge with an elbow. That sequence looked pretty awkward. Shawn pounds away in the corner and gets a sunset flip for two. Catapult into the corner gets two. Edge bails and decides to walk out, but Shawn is like “Hey, that’s my act!” and chases him back in again. They brawl on the floor and Shawn walks into a spear. Edge tries for the countout, but Shawn is too darn resilient. Edge gets a little overconfident and sets up for the spear, hitting it clean for two. They head up top and slug it out, which puts Edge down for a flying elbow from Shawn. Shawn gets possessed by the holy spirit and he’s JESUSING UP, but Edge counters the superkick with an electric chair. About time someone thought of that. It gets two. Personally I’m waiting for someone to wait until he sticks his leg in the air and then punch him in the nuts, but maybe that’s just me. (2012 Scott sez:  Pretty sure Jericho busted that one out in 2008, actually.)  Shawn gets a sunset flip, but Edge rolls through into the Edgeucator, and Shawn really should have tapped there. He doesn’t, however, because he’s just too darn resilient. Edge tries again, but Shawn counters for two. Rollup gets two, countered by Edge for the pin at 18:35. Didn’t like the finish and the slow middle portion, but the rest was solid. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t remember the circumstances around this feud, but it seems like it should have been better than it was.)  – Meanwhile, Flair and Eddie draw their numbers, resulting in Flair being delighted and Eddie not so much. The solution: Eddie picks his pocket. That’s certainly a unique solution. – Meanwhile, Heidenreich and Snitsky continue their epic romance from Survivor Series. I think someone’s been watching too much Oz. – Casket match: Undertaker v. Heidenreich. Speaking of Oz, this should be about as much fun as prison rape. UT grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses him into an armdrag. Heidenreich backs off, because he’s afraid of caskets. Interestingly, I’m afraid of Heidenreich matches. So everyone is kind of facing their fears. Taker goes after the knee now and gets a half-crab. Heidenreich bails and tries to run away, but Taker follows, and they brawl. I use that term loosely. Taker gets the worst of it, as Heidenreich overcomes his fear of caskets and rams UT into it a few times. They head into the ring, where Taker gets the deadly Bermuda Triangle Choke, but Snitsky runs in and breaks it up. That’s quite the complex plan they hatched, no? That allows Kane to pop out of the casket, which I’m sure no one saw coming, and clean house on his arch-enemy. How sad is it to have an arch-enemy named Gene Snitsky, whose gimmick is killing babies? Meanwhile, Heidenreich continues to fight his necrophobia, shoving the casket down the aisle while making sure no one else is going to pop out, and he whips UT into the stairs. He drives the casket into Undertaker, although it clearly misses by a lot, and they head back into the ring, where Heidenreich struggles to get a SLEEPER on Undertaker. Yes, he couldn’t remember how to do a sleeper. He rolls Taker into the casket, but that only makes him mad. Taker sandwiches Heidenreich in the casket and drops a leg on it, which was a nice spot if nothing else. Taker tries a bulldog (?!?) and Heidenreich counters to a Bossman slam, then tries a pin. Heidenreich smartens up and rolls him into the casket instead, but again it doesn’t work. They slug it out, with Heidenreich looking like he’s stoned while he flails away, and Taker gets a bad-looking DDT to set up a worse-looking chokeslam, and the tombstone thankfully finishes things at 13:19. Watchable, but not much more. * (2012 Scott sez:  I still feel ripped off that we didn’t get Kane & Undertaker v. Snitsky & Heidenreich at Wrestlemania.)  – Meanwhile, Teddy Long wants Flair’s number back from Eddie. And the wallet. (2012 Scott sez:  The number was probably worth more than the wallet at that point.)  – Meanwhile, John Cena’s number picking is interrupted by Christian, who wants a RAP OFF. “Tomko, give me a beat.” “No.” (2012 Scott sez:  TOMKO~!  This of course was a legendary segment.)  Christian’s rap is both fresh and phat, but Cena wins due to politics. – Smackdown World title: JBL v. Big Show v. Kurt Angle. Bradshaw goes after Show to start, and that doesn’t prove smart. Show smacks him around in the corner, but runs into a boot in the corner. JBL tries to follow with a high cross, but Show catches him and drops a leg for two. That brings Angle into things, and he gets pounded by Show, too. Show suplexes JBL and boots Angle down, then clotheslines both of them out of the ring. They fight on the floor and JBL eats post, while Show moves furniture around. He tries to chokeslam JBL through the table, but Angle saves with a low blow and a monitor to the head that sends Show crashing through the table. So with Show detained for a while, Angle beats on JBL and chases him into the ring, taking him down with an armdrag. JBL tries a big boot, but Angle takes him down with an armbar and tries to stay on that. Bradshaw takes over with a corner clothesline, but falls victim to a german suplex. He tries to counter with the Clothesline from New York, but Angle ducks (what a counter!) and gets another german. Angle Slam is countered with a boot to the face, which gets two. Show wanders back into the match and clotheslines them both a bunch of times, then slams Angle onto JBL. Into the corner for a butt splash on both, and another double clothesline sets up a double chokeslam. Angle and JBL team up for Total Elimination, but then Angle turns on JBL and suplexes him, then gets two on Show. Angle Slam on Show follows, and JBL gets two from that. Show comes back with a chokeslam for two. JBL bails, so Show charges him and puts him through the railing! Now there’s a spot you don’t see every day. Meanwhile Angle sneaks around and sets up a chair in the ring. Show flapjacks him on his own chair, but Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns attack Show. JBL’s flunkies help him out on the floor while Show beats up Angle’s crew, and OJ throws JBL into the ring, where he clotheslines Angle for the pin at 12:04. I know this will probably shock people, but I think this was too SHORT, because I was actually enjoying the hell out of it and liking the inventive spots before the abrupt finish. The overbooked finish kind of hurt it a bit, too. ***1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Talking point:  Who had the worse crew of flunkies at this point, Angle or JBL?)  RAW World title: HHH v. Randy Orton. Orton slugs him down to start and gets a backslide for two. He pounds HHH into the corner and backdrops him out, but a kick RKO attempt is foiled by HHH. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Steve Austin RARELY had the stunner countered or averted, and ditto DDP with the Diamond Cutter. That’s why it was such a great finish. When it happened, it was over, period. Anyway, HHH fights back and pounds away in the corner, but Orton drops him on the top rope and tries ANOTHER RKO, and fails AGAIN, as HHH dumps him out of the ring. Orton’s like a horny teenager going for a girl’s boob with that thing. HHH sends him into the stairs and slugs away, but charges and hits boot. Orton fights back as the crowd starts to turn on him, and HHH clips the knee and wraps it around the post. Back in, HHH clips him and drops an elbow on the knee. He keeps working on it, but Orton gets a cradle for two. HHH goes right back to it, and it’s figure-four time. After a couple of minutes of that, Orton reverses to escape, so HHH goes right back to the knee. Orton kicks him out of the ring, and fights back with a backbreaker as HHH comes back in. And suddenly the knee injury is miraculously healed and forgotten about. Neckbreaker gets two. Another one gets two. Powerslam gets two. HHH comes back with an atomic drop out of the corner and goes up, but gets slammed off. Orton goes up with a high cross for two. HHH comes back with a Pedigree attempt, which gets countered into a catapult. HHH counters the RKO again and follows with a high knee for two. Another Pedigree is countered with a clothesline, which gets two. They fight outside and Orton sends him into the stairs, and back in Orton slugs away in the corner. He tries a DDT, but HHH blocks and Orton seems to have knocked himself out. Orton takes a breather and gets checked out by the ref, who is promptly bumped by HHH. HHH beats Orton down like his bitch and then grabs the sledgehammer, but Orton manages to fight him off. Back in, Orton goes for the hammer, but gets owned by HHH. And that’s all she wrote for Orton, as KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes things at 21:28. Weird match, with a ref bump that didn’t even give Orton any offense, and a total destruction at the end by HHH. Oh well. **3/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Not much to say here.  That was the end of Orton’s big babyface run at the top, and it took him another couple of years to really find his way as a top level guy.)  Royal Rumble: Eddie Guerrero draws #1, and Chris Benoit is #2. They fight in the corner to start and Benoit takes him down with an armdrag, but so does Eddie. Eddie takes him down in a headlock and overpowers him, as Daniel Puder is #3. He stops to cut a promo, talking smack against Benoit and Guerrero, and somehow I’m sensing that’s a bad idea. They team up and kick his ass in the corner, holding a chop competition on him. Double suplex and then Benoit drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex. Guerrero gets the rolling verticals and Hardcore Holly is #4. He calls of Benoit and Guerrero, because he’s got this one. This sets up another chop contest on Puder, as they just tee off on the poor kid. Eh, who am I kidding, for $1,000,000 they can rape him in the middle of the ring and he shouldn’t be bitching. (2012 Scott sez:  How DARE someone get over on their own.  I don’t think Puder is even doing MMA these days, though.)  Holly gives him the Alabama Slam and Hurricane is #5, as Puder is out at 6:00. My boys turn on Holly and dump him at 6:15. Hurricane is their next victim, as they redden up his chest before Eddie betrays Benoit and they go back to fighting with each other again. Hurricane hits Eddie with the Blockbuster, but gets killed by Benoit’s chops again. Eddie dumps him at 7:24. Kenzo Suzuki is #6, and he takes the beating from the Radicalz. Benoit suplexes him and they pound him in the corner, then Eddie gets a backdrop suplex before Benoit tosses him…to the apron. Oooh. Eddie hangs on as Edge is #7. He’s all about Edge, to quote JR, as he goes after everyone without prejudice, and tries to dump Eddie. Doesn’t work, though. Kenzo hooks up with Benoit as Rey Mysterio is #8. He goes after everyone and bulldogs Edge, then dropkicks Benoit in the corner. Kenzo tries to dump him, but Rey hangs on and headscissors him out at 11:28. Eddie hits him with a backbreaker, however, and goes back to Benoit. Shelton Benjamin is #9 as the workrate really starts to flow. He goes after Edge with an elbow and backdrops Eddie as Benoit fights with Rey on the ropes. No one goes out, though. Rey does a nice headscissors on Shelton, and Booker T is #10. He pounds Edge down and gets a leg lariat, and Uncle Eric joins us at ringside for some reason. Rey springboards in from the apron to break up Benoit’s boston crab, and Jericho is #11. He elbows Benjamin down and starts chopping Edge, and now Teddy Long is out. Lots of punching and stuff as Luther Reigns is #12. Suddenly, all the RAW and Smackdown guys separate and team up. Big brawl erupts, which the crowd likes, and Hassan is #13. Now the brand differences are cleared up and everyone teams up to get rid of him at 20:15. Crowd likes that one too. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like Hassan as the outsider who just took things too far was an interesting gimmick idea, and I had no real problem with the subject matter as far as being tasteless or whatever, but he just couldn’t get over as a worker OR a talker, and that’s what killed him.)  Orlando Jordan is #14 as things settle back in the previous rhythm again. I think that the three black guys in the Rumble at the same time is coming close to setting some sort of record. Maybe during the Nation’s glory years there might have been four, but I can’t think of any other time there would be close to that many. The brothers should have teamed up to fight off whitey, but I can’t see that dynamic working as well with the crowd. Scotty 2 Hotty is #15, but Hassan lays him out before he even gets to the ring. Oh, sure, big man beating up a jobber. Scotty never enters the match, and thus is the winner and will presumably wrestle HHH at Wrestlemania. Charlie Haas is #16, as we’re halfway through now, and Booker kicks him in the face on the way in. Booker dumps Reigns at 24:24, and Jordan at 24:25, but Eddie dumps him at 24:42 after a Spinarooni that was ill-advised. Didn’t Ernest Miller’s dancing faux pas last year teach anyone anything? (2012 Scott sez:  Never stop for a dance-off in a Royal Rumble, no matter how funky you may be.  Brodus Clay would be well advised to remember that advice this year.)  Nice moment sees Haas & Benjamin reunited to beat on Eddie, and Rene Dupree is #17. He goes after Rey and chokes him down in the corner, but Haas hotshots him and double-teams him with Benjamin. Rey breaks up the WGTT love with a leg lariat, and Shelton goes up like a moron and gets shoved out by Edge at 26:36. How stupid do you have to be to try THAT? Speaking of stupid, Simon Dean is #18, and he takes his time getting in. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel bad for Nova getting that loser gimmick.)  Edge dumps Eddie at 28:18, drawing HUGE heel heat. They keep burying him and he keeps being the most over babyface on the roster. (2012 Scott sez:  I guess the burial remark ended up being ill-timed there.)  HBK is #19 as Dean finally gets into the ring, and he goes right for Edge. And Dean is gone at 29:11, via Shawn. Shawn goes after everyone and gets slugged down by Haas. Rey plays hide and seek with Edge as Shawn dumps Haas at 30:23, and JR confuses him with Dupree. Kurt Angle is #20, and he goes right for Benoit with a german suplex. It’s Angle Slams for everyone! Well, everyone but Shawn, who blocks and superkicks him out at 31:16. (2012 Scott sez:  Thus setting up one of the greatest WM matches of all-time!)  Coach is #21, and I’m not giving him much in the way of odds to last longer than Angle. Benoit elbows Rey down, and then turns his attention to Coach. Jericho and Rey fight on the ropes, but neither can get the other out. Mark Jindrak is #22, as Angle returns and dumps Shawn at 34:00. He beats on him outside and anklelocks him, which pretty much eats up that whole segment. Viscera is #23, as we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Jindrak tosses Rey, but he hangs on. You’d think everyone would stop and get rid of Vis at this point. Paul London is #24, and quite enthused about it. Dupree beats him down, and Jericho dumps Dupree mid-dance at 37:40. (2012 Scott sez:  What did I JUST SAY about dance-offs in a Rumble?)  Everyone fights on the ropes and John Cena is #25. He goes nuts and hits everyone, then does us a favor and gets rid of Vis at 39:02. The intervals shorten a bit, as Snitsky is #25. He clobbers quite a few people until London tries a sleeper on him. Snitsky puts him on the apron and then clotheslines him off, resulting in London taking the somersault bump of the YEAR off the apron to go out at 40:20. Snitsky boots Cena down and Kane is #26, much to Snitsky’s chagrin. Gene goes after him and gets clotheslined, and Kane chokeslams some people for fun. Jindrak is out at 42:08. Coach commits suicide by attacking him, but Snitsky saves him. The COAT HANGER on Kane follows, and Batista is #27, to a MONSTER face pop. It’s for real, folks. (2012 Scott sez:  Well, duh.  Hard to believe people would think otherwise at the time given what a huge star Batista turned into.)  Snitsky goes bye at 43:10. He faces off with Kane and the crowd knows who it wants to win that one. Demon bomb on Kane! Jericho charges and goes for a ride at 43:57. He can’t get Edge out, however. Christian is #29 and he of course wants John Cena to avenge the rap battle. Cena FUs Kane out at 45:16, and Rey wants an alliance. Flair is of course #30, and we’ve got our field for the finish. Ric and Dave give Coach a ride at 46:32. Next up: Christian, who goes home at 46:57. Benoit goes after Flair with some chops, but Batista clobbers him with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. He goes back to Atlanta at 47:33. Flair tries to turn on Batista, and that proves to be unwise, but Rey and Edge save him. Edge spears Flair and tosses him at 48:06, and we have the last four. Final Four: Edge, Rey Mysterio, Batista and John Cena. (2012 Scott sez:  There’d be a hell of a tag match right there, and you could a few different combos of it effectively) Batista goes after Edge, but gets speared, as does Cena. Edge goes for Rey, but misses, and Rey follows with the 619. But that puts him on the apron, and Edge spears him off at 49:20. Edge goes for our heroes and gets dumped by them at 49:41. So it’s the obvious finish, with Cena and Batista. Slugfest and Cena goes for the FU, but can’t get him out. Batista tries the demon bomb, but both tumble out and it’s a tie. The RAW refs declare Batista the winner, and the Smackdown refs call Cena the winner, but Vince runs out to settle it. Sadly, he trips and blows out his knee on the way in, suffering the worst injury of the whole show. That’s pretty funny, actually. (2012 Scott sez:  Of course, it wasn’t just his knee, he actually tore BOTH quads, and was still back by Wrestlemania!  You can’t say he doesn’t set an example.)  Batista and Cena toss each other to no avail, and the match restarts. Cena goes for the FU, but Batista gets the spinebuster and tosses him for real at 53:54 to win the Rumble and go to Wrestlemania. Finish was really silly and messed up, but the rest was about as good as could be expected. **** The Pulse: The Rumble is always a fun show, even if this year was a bit of a foregone conclusion with either Cena or Batista having to win, although I’m not sure if the Rumble match was good enough to warrant a recommendation on its own given the weak undercard. Still, it was pretty darn good, so thumbs mildly up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2005 – Live from Fresno, CA. – Your hosts are JR, King, Cole and Tazz. Opening match: Edge v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn attacks to start and gets a backdrop, then takes him out of the ring with a clothesline. Edge stops to be all crazy, and heads back in to exchange shots in the corner. Shawn gets the best of that and puts his head down, perhaps in celebration, allowing Edge to get a neckbreaker. Edge slugs him down, but Shawn fights back, forcing Edge to use that old standby, the thumb to the eye. Shawn gives him a Thesz Press and tosses him, but misses a baseball slide. Edge gives him an Edge-o-Matic on the floor as a result. Edge follows with his own baseball slide, and this one hits. Back in, Edge sends him into the turnbuckles and stomps away, then fends off another comeback attempt by blocking a rana with a powerbomb. That gets two. Edge hits the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Shawn fights up, so Edge takes him down again and mocks him. That never seems to be a sound strategy. Edge keeps hitting him with chops and charges, but goes up and whiffs, allowing Shawn to get a rollup for two. Edge kicks him down for two. They slug it out and Edge goes for a backdrop suplex, but Shawn falls on top for two. Edge clotheslines him down again and we go back to the chinlock. Shawn fights out and makes the comeback, hitting Edge with an inverted atomic drop and blocking a blind charge with an elbow. That sequence looked pretty awkward. Shawn pounds away in the corner and gets a sunset flip for two. Catapult into the corner gets two. Edge bails and decides to walk out, but Shawn is like “Hey, that’s my act!” and chases him back in again. They brawl on the floor and Shawn walks into a spear. Edge tries for the countout, but Shawn is too darn resilient. Edge gets a little overconfident and sets up for the spear, hitting it clean for two. They head up top and slug it out, which puts Edge down for a flying elbow from Shawn. Shawn gets possessed by the holy spirit and he’s JESUSING UP, but Edge counters the superkick with an electric chair. About time someone thought of that. It gets two. Personally I’m waiting for someone to wait until he sticks his leg in the air and then punch him in the nuts, but maybe that’s just me. (2012 Scott sez:  Pretty sure Jericho busted that one out in 2008, actually.)  Shawn gets a sunset flip, but Edge rolls through into the Edgeucator, and Shawn really should have tapped there. He doesn’t, however, because he’s just too darn resilient. Edge tries again, but Shawn counters for two. Rollup gets two, countered by Edge for the pin at 18:35. Didn’t like the finish and the slow middle portion, but the rest was solid. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t remember the circumstances around this feud, but it seems like it should have been better than it was.)  – Meanwhile, Flair and Eddie draw their numbers, resulting in Flair being delighted and Eddie not so much. The solution: Eddie picks his pocket. That’s certainly a unique solution. – Meanwhile, Heidenreich and Snitsky continue their epic romance from Survivor Series. I think someone’s been watching too much Oz. – Casket match: Undertaker v. Heidenreich. Speaking of Oz, this should be about as much fun as prison rape. UT grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses him into an armdrag. Heidenreich backs off, because he’s afraid of caskets. Interestingly, I’m afraid of Heidenreich matches. So everyone is kind of facing their fears. Taker goes after the knee now and gets a half-crab. Heidenreich bails and tries to run away, but Taker follows, and they brawl. I use that term loosely. Taker gets the worst of it, as Heidenreich overcomes his fear of caskets and rams UT into it a few times. They head into the ring, where Taker gets the deadly Bermuda Triangle Choke, but Snitsky runs in and breaks it up. That’s quite the complex plan they hatched, no? That allows Kane to pop out of the casket, which I’m sure no one saw coming, and clean house on his arch-enemy. How sad is it to have an arch-enemy named Gene Snitsky, whose gimmick is killing babies? Meanwhile, Heidenreich continues to fight his necrophobia, shoving the casket down the aisle while making sure no one else is going to pop out, and he whips UT into the stairs. He drives the casket into Undertaker, although it clearly misses by a lot, and they head back into the ring, where Heidenreich struggles to get a SLEEPER on Undertaker. Yes, he couldn’t remember how to do a sleeper. He rolls Taker into the casket, but that only makes him mad. Taker sandwiches Heidenreich in the casket and drops a leg on it, which was a nice spot if nothing else. Taker tries a bulldog (?!?) and Heidenreich counters to a Bossman slam, then tries a pin. Heidenreich smartens up and rolls him into the casket instead, but again it doesn’t work. They slug it out, with Heidenreich looking like he’s stoned while he flails away, and Taker gets a bad-looking DDT to set up a worse-looking chokeslam, and the tombstone thankfully finishes things at 13:19. Watchable, but not much more. * (2012 Scott sez:  I still feel ripped off that we didn’t get Kane & Undertaker v. Snitsky & Heidenreich at Wrestlemania.)  – Meanwhile, Teddy Long wants Flair’s number back from Eddie. And the wallet. (2012 Scott sez:  The number was probably worth more than the wallet at that point.)  – Meanwhile, John Cena’s number picking is interrupted by Christian, who wants a RAP OFF. “Tomko, give me a beat.” “No.” (2012 Scott sez:  TOMKO~!  This of course was a legendary segment.)  Christian’s rap is both fresh and phat, but Cena wins due to politics. – Smackdown World title: JBL v. Big Show v. Kurt Angle. Bradshaw goes after Show to start, and that doesn’t prove smart. Show smacks him around in the corner, but runs into a boot in the corner. JBL tries to follow with a high cross, but Show catches him and drops a leg for two. That brings Angle into things, and he gets pounded by Show, too. Show suplexes JBL and boots Angle down, then clotheslines both of them out of the ring. They fight on the floor and JBL eats post, while Show moves furniture around. He tries to chokeslam JBL through the table, but Angle saves with a low blow and a monitor to the head that sends Show crashing through the table. So with Show detained for a while, Angle beats on JBL and chases him into the ring, taking him down with an armdrag. JBL tries a big boot, but Angle takes him down with an armbar and tries to stay on that. Bradshaw takes over with a corner clothesline, but falls victim to a german suplex. He tries to counter with the Clothesline from New York, but Angle ducks (what a counter!) and gets another german. Angle Slam is countered with a boot to the face, which gets two. Show wanders back into the match and clotheslines them both a bunch of times, then slams Angle onto JBL. Into the corner for a butt splash on both, and another double clothesline sets up a double chokeslam. Angle and JBL team up for Total Elimination, but then Angle turns on JBL and suplexes him, then gets two on Show. Angle Slam on Show follows, and JBL gets two from that. Show comes back with a chokeslam for two. JBL bails, so Show charges him and puts him through the railing! Now there’s a spot you don’t see every day. Meanwhile Angle sneaks around and sets up a chair in the ring. Show flapjacks him on his own chair, but Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns attack Show. JBL’s flunkies help him out on the floor while Show beats up Angle’s crew, and OJ throws JBL into the ring, where he clotheslines Angle for the pin at 12:04. I know this will probably shock people, but I think this was too SHORT, because I was actually enjoying the hell out of it and liking the inventive spots before the abrupt finish. The overbooked finish kind of hurt it a bit, too. ***1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Talking point:  Who had the worse crew of flunkies at this point, Angle or JBL?)  RAW World title: HHH v. Randy Orton. Orton slugs him down to start and gets a backslide for two. He pounds HHH into the corner and backdrops him out, but a kick RKO attempt is foiled by HHH. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Steve Austin RARELY had the stunner countered or averted, and ditto DDP with the Diamond Cutter. That’s why it was such a great finish. When it happened, it was over, period. Anyway, HHH fights back and pounds away in the corner, but Orton drops him on the top rope and tries ANOTHER RKO, and fails AGAIN, as HHH dumps him out of the ring. Orton’s like a horny teenager going for a girl’s boob with that thing. HHH sends him into the stairs and slugs away, but charges and hits boot. Orton fights back as the crowd starts to turn on him, and HHH clips the knee and wraps it around the post. Back in, HHH clips him and drops an elbow on the knee. He keeps working on it, but Orton gets a cradle for two. HHH goes right back to it, and it’s figure-four time. After a couple of minutes of that, Orton reverses to escape, so HHH goes right back to the knee. Orton kicks him out of the ring, and fights back with a backbreaker as HHH comes back in. And suddenly the knee injury is miraculously healed and forgotten about. Neckbreaker gets two. Another one gets two. Powerslam gets two. HHH comes back with an atomic drop out of the corner and goes up, but gets slammed off. Orton goes up with a high cross for two. HHH comes back with a Pedigree attempt, which gets countered into a catapult. HHH counters the RKO again and follows with a high knee for two. Another Pedigree is countered with a clothesline, which gets two. They fight outside and Orton sends him into the stairs, and back in Orton slugs away in the corner. He tries a DDT, but HHH blocks and Orton seems to have knocked himself out. Orton takes a breather and gets checked out by the ref, who is promptly bumped by HHH. HHH beats Orton down like his bitch and then grabs the sledgehammer, but Orton manages to fight him off. Back in, Orton goes for the hammer, but gets owned by HHH. And that’s all she wrote for Orton, as KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes things at 21:28. Weird match, with a ref bump that didn’t even give Orton any offense, and a total destruction at the end by HHH. Oh well. **3/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Not much to say here.  That was the end of Orton’s big babyface run at the top, and it took him another couple of years to really find his way as a top level guy.)  Royal Rumble: Eddie Guerrero draws #1, and Chris Benoit is #2. They fight in the corner to start and Benoit takes him down with an armdrag, but so does Eddie. Eddie takes him down in a headlock and overpowers him, as Daniel Puder is #3. He stops to cut a promo, talking smack against Benoit and Guerrero, and somehow I’m sensing that’s a bad idea. They team up and kick his ass in the corner, holding a chop competition on him. Double suplex and then Benoit drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex. Guerrero gets the rolling verticals and Hardcore Holly is #4. He calls of Benoit and Guerrero, because he’s got this one. This sets up another chop contest on Puder, as they just tee off on the poor kid. Eh, who am I kidding, for $1,000,000 they can rape him in the middle of the ring and he shouldn’t be bitching. (2012 Scott sez:  How DARE someone get over on their own.  I don’t think Puder is even doing MMA these days, though.)  Holly gives him the Alabama Slam and Hurricane is #5, as Puder is out at 6:00. My boys turn on Holly and dump him at 6:15. Hurricane is their next victim, as they redden up his chest before Eddie betrays Benoit and they go back to fighting with each other again. Hurricane hits Eddie with the Blockbuster, but gets killed by Benoit’s chops again. Eddie dumps him at 7:24. Kenzo Suzuki is #6, and he takes the beating from the Radicalz. Benoit suplexes him and they pound him in the corner, then Eddie gets a backdrop suplex before Benoit tosses him…to the apron. Oooh. Eddie hangs on as Edge is #7. He’s all about Edge, to quote JR, as he goes after everyone without prejudice, and tries to dump Eddie. Doesn’t work, though. Kenzo hooks up with Benoit as Rey Mysterio is #8. He goes after everyone and bulldogs Edge, then dropkicks Benoit in the corner. Kenzo tries to dump him, but Rey hangs on and headscissors him out at 11:28. Eddie hits him with a backbreaker, however, and goes back to Benoit. Shelton Benjamin is #9 as the workrate really starts to flow. He goes after Edge with an elbow and backdrops Eddie as Benoit fights with Rey on the ropes. No one goes out, though. Rey does a nice headscissors on Shelton, and Booker T is #10. He pounds Edge down and gets a leg lariat, and Uncle Eric joins us at ringside for some reason. Rey springboards in from the apron to break up Benoit’s boston crab, and Jericho is #11. He elbows Benjamin down and starts chopping Edge, and now Teddy Long is out. Lots of punching and stuff as Luther Reigns is #12. Suddenly, all the RAW and Smackdown guys separate and team up. Big brawl erupts, which the crowd likes, and Hassan is #13. Now the brand differences are cleared up and everyone teams up to get rid of him at 20:15. Crowd likes that one too. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like Hassan as the outsider who just took things too far was an interesting gimmick idea, and I had no real problem with the subject matter as far as being tasteless or whatever, but he just couldn’t get over as a worker OR a talker, and that’s what killed him.)  Orlando Jordan is #14 as things settle back in the previous rhythm again. I think that the three black guys in the Rumble at the same time is coming close to setting some sort of record. Maybe during the Nation’s glory years there might have been four, but I can’t think of any other time there would be close to that many. The brothers should have teamed up to fight off whitey, but I can’t see that dynamic working as well with the crowd. Scotty 2 Hotty is #15, but Hassan lays him out before he even gets to the ring. Oh, sure, big man beating up a jobber. Scotty never enters the match, and thus is the winner and will presumably wrestle HHH at Wrestlemania. Charlie Haas is #16, as we’re halfway through now, and Booker kicks him in the face on the way in. Booker dumps Reigns at 24:24, and Jordan at 24:25, but Eddie dumps him at 24:42 after a Spinarooni that was ill-advised. Didn’t Ernest Miller’s dancing faux pas last year teach anyone anything? (2012 Scott sez:  Never stop for a dance-off in a Royal Rumble, no matter how funky you may be.  Brodus Clay would be well advised to remember that advice this year.)  Nice moment sees Haas & Benjamin reunited to beat on Eddie, and Rene Dupree is #17. He goes after Rey and chokes him down in the corner, but Haas hotshots him and double-teams him with Benjamin. Rey breaks up the WGTT love with a leg lariat, and Shelton goes up like a moron and gets shoved out by Edge at 26:36. How stupid do you have to be to try THAT? Speaking of stupid, Simon Dean is #18, and he takes his time getting in. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel bad for Nova getting that loser gimmick.)  Edge dumps Eddie at 28:18, drawing HUGE heel heat. They keep burying him and he keeps being the most over babyface on the roster. (2012 Scott sez:  I guess the burial remark ended up being ill-timed there.)  HBK is #19 as Dean finally gets into the ring, and he goes right for Edge. And Dean is gone at 29:11, via Shawn. Shawn goes after everyone and gets slugged down by Haas. Rey plays hide and seek with Edge as Shawn dumps Haas at 30:23, and JR confuses him with Dupree. Kurt Angle is #20, and he goes right for Benoit with a german suplex. It’s Angle Slams for everyone! Well, everyone but Shawn, who blocks and superkicks him out at 31:16. (2012 Scott sez:  Thus setting up one of the greatest WM matches of all-time!)  Coach is #21, and I’m not giving him much in the way of odds to last longer than Angle. Benoit elbows Rey down, and then turns his attention to Coach. Jericho and Rey fight on the ropes, but neither can get the other out. Mark Jindrak is #22, as Angle returns and dumps Shawn at 34:00. He beats on him outside and anklelocks him, which pretty much eats up that whole segment. Viscera is #23, as we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Jindrak tosses Rey, but he hangs on. You’d think everyone would stop and get rid of Vis at this point. Paul London is #24, and quite enthused about it. Dupree beats him down, and Jericho dumps Dupree mid-dance at 37:40. (2012 Scott sez:  What did I JUST SAY about dance-offs in a Rumble?)  Everyone fights on the ropes and John Cena is #25. He goes nuts and hits everyone, then does us a favor and gets rid of Vis at 39:02. The intervals shorten a bit, as Snitsky is #25. He clobbers quite a few people until London tries a sleeper on him. Snitsky puts him on the apron and then clotheslines him off, resulting in London taking the somersault bump of the YEAR off the apron to go out at 40:20. Snitsky boots Cena down and Kane is #26, much to Snitsky’s chagrin. Gene goes after him and gets clotheslined, and Kane chokeslams some people for fun. Jindrak is out at 42:08. Coach commits suicide by attacking him, but Snitsky saves him. The COAT HANGER on Kane follows, and Batista is #27, to a MONSTER face pop. It’s for real, folks. (2012 Scott sez:  Well, duh.  Hard to believe people would think otherwise at the time given what a huge star Batista turned into.)  Snitsky goes bye at 43:10. He faces off with Kane and the crowd knows who it wants to win that one. Demon bomb on Kane! Jericho charges and goes for a ride at 43:57. He can’t get Edge out, however. Christian is #29 and he of course wants John Cena to avenge the rap battle. Cena FUs Kane out at 45:16, and Rey wants an alliance. Flair is of course #30, and we’ve got our field for the finish. Ric and Dave give Coach a ride at 46:32. Next up: Christian, who goes home at 46:57. Benoit goes after Flair with some chops, but Batista clobbers him with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. He goes back to Atlanta at 47:33. Flair tries to turn on Batista, and that proves to be unwise, but Rey and Edge save him. Edge spears Flair and tosses him at 48:06, and we have the last four. Final Four: Edge, Rey Mysterio, Batista and John Cena. (2012 Scott sez:  There’d be a hell of a tag match right there, and you could a few different combos of it effectively) Batista goes after Edge, but gets speared, as does Cena. Edge goes for Rey, but misses, and Rey follows with the 619. But that puts him on the apron, and Edge spears him off at 49:20. Edge goes for our heroes and gets dumped by them at 49:41. So it’s the obvious finish, with Cena and Batista. Slugfest and Cena goes for the FU, but can’t get him out. Batista tries the demon bomb, but both tumble out and it’s a tie. The RAW refs declare Batista the winner, and the Smackdown refs call Cena the winner, but Vince runs out to settle it. Sadly, he trips and blows out his knee on the way in, suffering the worst injury of the whole show. That’s pretty funny, actually. (2012 Scott sez:  Of course, it wasn’t just his knee, he actually tore BOTH quads, and was still back by Wrestlemania!  You can’t say he doesn’t set an example.)  Batista and Cena toss each other to no avail, and the match restarts. Cena goes for the FU, but Batista gets the spinebuster and tosses him for real at 53:54 to win the Rumble and go to Wrestlemania. Finish was really silly and messed up, but the rest was about as good as could be expected. **** The Pulse: The Rumble is always a fun show, even if this year was a bit of a foregone conclusion with either Cena or Batista having to win, although I’m not sure if the Rumble match was good enough to warrant a recommendation on its own given the weak undercard. Still, it was pretty darn good, so thumbs mildly up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2005 – Live from Fresno, CA. – Your hosts are JR, King, Cole and Tazz. Opening match: Edge v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn attacks to start and gets a backdrop, then takes him out of the ring with a clothesline. Edge stops to be all crazy, and heads back in to exchange shots in the corner. Shawn gets the best of that and puts his head down, perhaps in celebration, allowing Edge to get a neckbreaker. Edge slugs him down, but Shawn fights back, forcing Edge to use that old standby, the thumb to the eye. Shawn gives him a Thesz Press and tosses him, but misses a baseball slide. Edge gives him an Edge-o-Matic on the floor as a result. Edge follows with his own baseball slide, and this one hits. Back in, Edge sends him into the turnbuckles and stomps away, then fends off another comeback attempt by blocking a rana with a powerbomb. That gets two. Edge hits the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Shawn fights up, so Edge takes him down again and mocks him. That never seems to be a sound strategy. Edge keeps hitting him with chops and charges, but goes up and whiffs, allowing Shawn to get a rollup for two. Edge kicks him down for two. They slug it out and Edge goes for a backdrop suplex, but Shawn falls on top for two. Edge clotheslines him down again and we go back to the chinlock. Shawn fights out and makes the comeback, hitting Edge with an inverted atomic drop and blocking a blind charge with an elbow. That sequence looked pretty awkward. Shawn pounds away in the corner and gets a sunset flip for two. Catapult into the corner gets two. Edge bails and decides to walk out, but Shawn is like “Hey, that’s my act!” and chases him back in again. They brawl on the floor and Shawn walks into a spear. Edge tries for the countout, but Shawn is too darn resilient. Edge gets a little overconfident and sets up for the spear, hitting it clean for two. They head up top and slug it out, which puts Edge down for a flying elbow from Shawn. Shawn gets possessed by the holy spirit and he’s JESUSING UP, but Edge counters the superkick with an electric chair. About time someone thought of that. It gets two. Personally I’m waiting for someone to wait until he sticks his leg in the air and then punch him in the nuts, but maybe that’s just me. (2012 Scott sez:  Pretty sure Jericho busted that one out in 2008, actually.)  Shawn gets a sunset flip, but Edge rolls through into the Edgeucator, and Shawn really should have tapped there. He doesn’t, however, because he’s just too darn resilient. Edge tries again, but Shawn counters for two. Rollup gets two, countered by Edge for the pin at 18:35. Didn’t like the finish and the slow middle portion, but the rest was solid. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t remember the circumstances around this feud, but it seems like it should have been better than it was.)  – Meanwhile, Flair and Eddie draw their numbers, resulting in Flair being delighted and Eddie not so much. The solution: Eddie picks his pocket. That’s certainly a unique solution. – Meanwhile, Heidenreich and Snitsky continue their epic romance from Survivor Series. I think someone’s been watching too much Oz. – Casket match: Undertaker v. Heidenreich. Speaking of Oz, this should be about as much fun as prison rape. UT grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses him into an armdrag. Heidenreich backs off, because he’s afraid of caskets. Interestingly, I’m afraid of Heidenreich matches. So everyone is kind of facing their fears. Taker goes after the knee now and gets a half-crab. Heidenreich bails and tries to run away, but Taker follows, and they brawl. I use that term loosely. Taker gets the worst of it, as Heidenreich overcomes his fear of caskets and rams UT into it a few times. They head into the ring, where Taker gets the deadly Bermuda Triangle Choke, but Snitsky runs in and breaks it up. That’s quite the complex plan they hatched, no? That allows Kane to pop out of the casket, which I’m sure no one saw coming, and clean house on his arch-enemy. How sad is it to have an arch-enemy named Gene Snitsky, whose gimmick is killing babies? Meanwhile, Heidenreich continues to fight his necrophobia, shoving the casket down the aisle while making sure no one else is going to pop out, and he whips UT into the stairs. He drives the casket into Undertaker, although it clearly misses by a lot, and they head back into the ring, where Heidenreich struggles to get a SLEEPER on Undertaker. Yes, he couldn’t remember how to do a sleeper. He rolls Taker into the casket, but that only makes him mad. Taker sandwiches Heidenreich in the casket and drops a leg on it, which was a nice spot if nothing else. Taker tries a bulldog (?!?) and Heidenreich counters to a Bossman slam, then tries a pin. Heidenreich smartens up and rolls him into the casket instead, but again it doesn’t work. They slug it out, with Heidenreich looking like he’s stoned while he flails away, and Taker gets a bad-looking DDT to set up a worse-looking chokeslam, and the tombstone thankfully finishes things at 13:19. Watchable, but not much more. * (2012 Scott sez:  I still feel ripped off that we didn’t get Kane & Undertaker v. Snitsky & Heidenreich at Wrestlemania.)  – Meanwhile, Teddy Long wants Flair’s number back from Eddie. And the wallet. (2012 Scott sez:  The number was probably worth more than the wallet at that point.)  – Meanwhile, John Cena’s number picking is interrupted by Christian, who wants a RAP OFF. “Tomko, give me a beat.” “No.” (2012 Scott sez:  TOMKO~!  This of course was a legendary segment.)  Christian’s rap is both fresh and phat, but Cena wins due to politics. – Smackdown World title: JBL v. Big Show v. Kurt Angle. Bradshaw goes after Show to start, and that doesn’t prove smart. Show smacks him around in the corner, but runs into a boot in the corner. JBL tries to follow with a high cross, but Show catches him and drops a leg for two. That brings Angle into things, and he gets pounded by Show, too. Show suplexes JBL and boots Angle down, then clotheslines both of them out of the ring. They fight on the floor and JBL eats post, while Show moves furniture around. He tries to chokeslam JBL through the table, but Angle saves with a low blow and a monitor to the head that sends Show crashing through the table. So with Show detained for a while, Angle beats on JBL and chases him into the ring, taking him down with an armdrag. JBL tries a big boot, but Angle takes him down with an armbar and tries to stay on that. Bradshaw takes over with a corner clothesline, but falls victim to a german suplex. He tries to counter with the Clothesline from New York, but Angle ducks (what a counter!) and gets another german. Angle Slam is countered with a boot to the face, which gets two. Show wanders back into the match and clotheslines them both a bunch of times, then slams Angle onto JBL. Into the corner for a butt splash on both, and another double clothesline sets up a double chokeslam. Angle and JBL team up for Total Elimination, but then Angle turns on JBL and suplexes him, then gets two on Show. Angle Slam on Show follows, and JBL gets two from that. Show comes back with a chokeslam for two. JBL bails, so Show charges him and puts him through the railing! Now there’s a spot you don’t see every day. Meanwhile Angle sneaks around and sets up a chair in the ring. Show flapjacks him on his own chair, but Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns attack Show. JBL’s flunkies help him out on the floor while Show beats up Angle’s crew, and OJ throws JBL into the ring, where he clotheslines Angle for the pin at 12:04. I know this will probably shock people, but I think this was too SHORT, because I was actually enjoying the hell out of it and liking the inventive spots before the abrupt finish. The overbooked finish kind of hurt it a bit, too. ***1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Talking point:  Who had the worse crew of flunkies at this point, Angle or JBL?)  RAW World title: HHH v. Randy Orton. Orton slugs him down to start and gets a backslide for two. He pounds HHH into the corner and backdrops him out, but a kick RKO attempt is foiled by HHH. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Steve Austin RARELY had the stunner countered or averted, and ditto DDP with the Diamond Cutter. That’s why it was such a great finish. When it happened, it was over, period. Anyway, HHH fights back and pounds away in the corner, but Orton drops him on the top rope and tries ANOTHER RKO, and fails AGAIN, as HHH dumps him out of the ring. Orton’s like a horny teenager going for a girl’s boob with that thing. HHH sends him into the stairs and slugs away, but charges and hits boot. Orton fights back as the crowd starts to turn on him, and HHH clips the knee and wraps it around the post. Back in, HHH clips him and drops an elbow on the knee. He keeps working on it, but Orton gets a cradle for two. HHH goes right back to it, and it’s figure-four time. After a couple of minutes of that, Orton reverses to escape, so HHH goes right back to the knee. Orton kicks him out of the ring, and fights back with a backbreaker as HHH comes back in. And suddenly the knee injury is miraculously healed and forgotten about. Neckbreaker gets two. Another one gets two. Powerslam gets two. HHH comes back with an atomic drop out of the corner and goes up, but gets slammed off. Orton goes up with a high cross for two. HHH comes back with a Pedigree attempt, which gets countered into a catapult. HHH counters the RKO again and follows with a high knee for two. Another Pedigree is countered with a clothesline, which gets two. They fight outside and Orton sends him into the stairs, and back in Orton slugs away in the corner. He tries a DDT, but HHH blocks and Orton seems to have knocked himself out. Orton takes a breather and gets checked out by the ref, who is promptly bumped by HHH. HHH beats Orton down like his bitch and then grabs the sledgehammer, but Orton manages to fight him off. Back in, Orton goes for the hammer, but gets owned by HHH. And that’s all she wrote for Orton, as KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes things at 21:28. Weird match, with a ref bump that didn’t even give Orton any offense, and a total destruction at the end by HHH. Oh well. **3/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Not much to say here.  That was the end of Orton’s big babyface run at the top, and it took him another couple of years to really find his way as a top level guy.)  Royal Rumble: Eddie Guerrero draws #1, and Chris Benoit is #2. They fight in the corner to start and Benoit takes him down with an armdrag, but so does Eddie. Eddie takes him down in a headlock and overpowers him, as Daniel Puder is #3. He stops to cut a promo, talking smack against Benoit and Guerrero, and somehow I’m sensing that’s a bad idea. They team up and kick his ass in the corner, holding a chop competition on him. Double suplex and then Benoit drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex. Guerrero gets the rolling verticals and Hardcore Holly is #4. He calls of Benoit and Guerrero, because he’s got this one. This sets up another chop contest on Puder, as they just tee off on the poor kid. Eh, who am I kidding, for $1,000,000 they can rape him in the middle of the ring and he shouldn’t be bitching. (2012 Scott sez:  How DARE someone get over on their own.  I don’t think Puder is even doing MMA these days, though.)  Holly gives him the Alabama Slam and Hurricane is #5, as Puder is out at 6:00. My boys turn on Holly and dump him at 6:15. Hurricane is their next victim, as they redden up his chest before Eddie betrays Benoit and they go back to fighting with each other again. Hurricane hits Eddie with the Blockbuster, but gets killed by Benoit’s chops again. Eddie dumps him at 7:24. Kenzo Suzuki is #6, and he takes the beating from the Radicalz. Benoit suplexes him and they pound him in the corner, then Eddie gets a backdrop suplex before Benoit tosses him…to the apron. Oooh. Eddie hangs on as Edge is #7. He’s all about Edge, to quote JR, as he goes after everyone without prejudice, and tries to dump Eddie. Doesn’t work, though. Kenzo hooks up with Benoit as Rey Mysterio is #8. He goes after everyone and bulldogs Edge, then dropkicks Benoit in the corner. Kenzo tries to dump him, but Rey hangs on and headscissors him out at 11:28. Eddie hits him with a backbreaker, however, and goes back to Benoit. Shelton Benjamin is #9 as the workrate really starts to flow. He goes after Edge with an elbow and backdrops Eddie as Benoit fights with Rey on the ropes. No one goes out, though. Rey does a nice headscissors on Shelton, and Booker T is #10. He pounds Edge down and gets a leg lariat, and Uncle Eric joins us at ringside for some reason. Rey springboards in from the apron to break up Benoit’s boston crab, and Jericho is #11. He elbows Benjamin down and starts chopping Edge, and now Teddy Long is out. Lots of punching and stuff as Luther Reigns is #12. Suddenly, all the RAW and Smackdown guys separate and team up. Big brawl erupts, which the crowd likes, and Hassan is #13. Now the brand differences are cleared up and everyone teams up to get rid of him at 20:15. Crowd likes that one too. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like Hassan as the outsider who just took things too far was an interesting gimmick idea, and I had no real problem with the subject matter as far as being tasteless or whatever, but he just couldn’t get over as a worker OR a talker, and that’s what killed him.)  Orlando Jordan is #14 as things settle back in the previous rhythm again. I think that the three black guys in the Rumble at the same time is coming close to setting some sort of record. Maybe during the Nation’s glory years there might have been four, but I can’t think of any other time there would be close to that many. The brothers should have teamed up to fight off whitey, but I can’t see that dynamic working as well with the crowd. Scotty 2 Hotty is #15, but Hassan lays him out before he even gets to the ring. Oh, sure, big man beating up a jobber. Scotty never enters the match, and thus is the winner and will presumably wrestle HHH at Wrestlemania. Charlie Haas is #16, as we’re halfway through now, and Booker kicks him in the face on the way in. Booker dumps Reigns at 24:24, and Jordan at 24:25, but Eddie dumps him at 24:42 after a Spinarooni that was ill-advised. Didn’t Ernest Miller’s dancing faux pas last year teach anyone anything? (2012 Scott sez:  Never stop for a dance-off in a Royal Rumble, no matter how funky you may be.  Brodus Clay would be well advised to remember that advice this year.)  Nice moment sees Haas & Benjamin reunited to beat on Eddie, and Rene Dupree is #17. He goes after Rey and chokes him down in the corner, but Haas hotshots him and double-teams him with Benjamin. Rey breaks up the WGTT love with a leg lariat, and Shelton goes up like a moron and gets shoved out by Edge at 26:36. How stupid do you have to be to try THAT? Speaking of stupid, Simon Dean is #18, and he takes his time getting in. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel bad for Nova getting that loser gimmick.)  Edge dumps Eddie at 28:18, drawing HUGE heel heat. They keep burying him and he keeps being the most over babyface on the roster. (2012 Scott sez:  I guess the burial remark ended up being ill-timed there.)  HBK is #19 as Dean finally gets into the ring, and he goes right for Edge. And Dean is gone at 29:11, via Shawn. Shawn goes after everyone and gets slugged down by Haas. Rey plays hide and seek with Edge as Shawn dumps Haas at 30:23, and JR confuses him with Dupree. Kurt Angle is #20, and he goes right for Benoit with a german suplex. It’s Angle Slams for everyone! Well, everyone but Shawn, who blocks and superkicks him out at 31:16. (2012 Scott sez:  Thus setting up one of the greatest WM matches of all-time!)  Coach is #21, and I’m not giving him much in the way of odds to last longer than Angle. Benoit elbows Rey down, and then turns his attention to Coach. Jericho and Rey fight on the ropes, but neither can get the other out. Mark Jindrak is #22, as Angle returns and dumps Shawn at 34:00. He beats on him outside and anklelocks him, which pretty much eats up that whole segment. Viscera is #23, as we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Jindrak tosses Rey, but he hangs on. You’d think everyone would stop and get rid of Vis at this point. Paul London is #24, and quite enthused about it. Dupree beats him down, and Jericho dumps Dupree mid-dance at 37:40. (2012 Scott sez:  What did I JUST SAY about dance-offs in a Rumble?)  Everyone fights on the ropes and John Cena is #25. He goes nuts and hits everyone, then does us a favor and gets rid of Vis at 39:02. The intervals shorten a bit, as Snitsky is #25. He clobbers quite a few people until London tries a sleeper on him. Snitsky puts him on the apron and then clotheslines him off, resulting in London taking the somersault bump of the YEAR off the apron to go out at 40:20. Snitsky boots Cena down and Kane is #26, much to Snitsky’s chagrin. Gene goes after him and gets clotheslined, and Kane chokeslams some people for fun. Jindrak is out at 42:08. Coach commits suicide by attacking him, but Snitsky saves him. The COAT HANGER on Kane follows, and Batista is #27, to a MONSTER face pop. It’s for real, folks. (2012 Scott sez:  Well, duh.  Hard to believe people would think otherwise at the time given what a huge star Batista turned into.)  Snitsky goes bye at 43:10. He faces off with Kane and the crowd knows who it wants to win that one. Demon bomb on Kane! Jericho charges and goes for a ride at 43:57. He can’t get Edge out, however. Christian is #29 and he of course wants John Cena to avenge the rap battle. Cena FUs Kane out at 45:16, and Rey wants an alliance. Flair is of course #30, and we’ve got our field for the finish. Ric and Dave give Coach a ride at 46:32. Next up: Christian, who goes home at 46:57. Benoit goes after Flair with some chops, but Batista clobbers him with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. He goes back to Atlanta at 47:33. Flair tries to turn on Batista, and that proves to be unwise, but Rey and Edge save him. Edge spears Flair and tosses him at 48:06, and we have the last four. Final Four: Edge, Rey Mysterio, Batista and John Cena. (2012 Scott sez:  There’d be a hell of a tag match right there, and you could a few different combos of it effectively) Batista goes after Edge, but gets speared, as does Cena. Edge goes for Rey, but misses, and Rey follows with the 619. But that puts him on the apron, and Edge spears him off at 49:20. Edge goes for our heroes and gets dumped by them at 49:41. So it’s the obvious finish, with Cena and Batista. Slugfest and Cena goes for the FU, but can’t get him out. Batista tries the demon bomb, but both tumble out and it’s a tie. The RAW refs declare Batista the winner, and the Smackdown refs call Cena the winner, but Vince runs out to settle it. Sadly, he trips and blows out his knee on the way in, suffering the worst injury of the whole show. That’s pretty funny, actually. (2012 Scott sez:  Of course, it wasn’t just his knee, he actually tore BOTH quads, and was still back by Wrestlemania!  You can’t say he doesn’t set an example.)  Batista and Cena toss each other to no avail, and the match restarts. Cena goes for the FU, but Batista gets the spinebuster and tosses him for real at 53:54 to win the Rumble and go to Wrestlemania. Finish was really silly and messed up, but the rest was about as good as could be expected. **** The Pulse: The Rumble is always a fun show, even if this year was a bit of a foregone conclusion with either Cena or Batista having to win, although I’m not sure if the Rumble match was good enough to warrant a recommendation on its own given the weak undercard. Still, it was pretty darn good, so thumbs mildly up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2005 – Live from Fresno, CA. – Your hosts are JR, King, Cole and Tazz. Opening match: Edge v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn attacks to start and gets a backdrop, then takes him out of the ring with a clothesline. Edge stops to be all crazy, and heads back in to exchange shots in the corner. Shawn gets the best of that and puts his head down, perhaps in celebration, allowing Edge to get a neckbreaker. Edge slugs him down, but Shawn fights back, forcing Edge to use that old standby, the thumb to the eye. Shawn gives him a Thesz Press and tosses him, but misses a baseball slide. Edge gives him an Edge-o-Matic on the floor as a result. Edge follows with his own baseball slide, and this one hits. Back in, Edge sends him into the turnbuckles and stomps away, then fends off another comeback attempt by blocking a rana with a powerbomb. That gets two. Edge hits the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Shawn fights up, so Edge takes him down again and mocks him. That never seems to be a sound strategy. Edge keeps hitting him with chops and charges, but goes up and whiffs, allowing Shawn to get a rollup for two. Edge kicks him down for two. They slug it out and Edge goes for a backdrop suplex, but Shawn falls on top for two. Edge clotheslines him down again and we go back to the chinlock. Shawn fights out and makes the comeback, hitting Edge with an inverted atomic drop and blocking a blind charge with an elbow. That sequence looked pretty awkward. Shawn pounds away in the corner and gets a sunset flip for two. Catapult into the corner gets two. Edge bails and decides to walk out, but Shawn is like “Hey, that’s my act!” and chases him back in again. They brawl on the floor and Shawn walks into a spear. Edge tries for the countout, but Shawn is too darn resilient. Edge gets a little overconfident and sets up for the spear, hitting it clean for two. They head up top and slug it out, which puts Edge down for a flying elbow from Shawn. Shawn gets possessed by the holy spirit and he’s JESUSING UP, but Edge counters the superkick with an electric chair. About time someone thought of that. It gets two. Personally I’m waiting for someone to wait until he sticks his leg in the air and then punch him in the nuts, but maybe that’s just me. (2012 Scott sez:  Pretty sure Jericho busted that one out in 2008, actually.)  Shawn gets a sunset flip, but Edge rolls through into the Edgeucator, and Shawn really should have tapped there. He doesn’t, however, because he’s just too darn resilient. Edge tries again, but Shawn counters for two. Rollup gets two, countered by Edge for the pin at 18:35. Didn’t like the finish and the slow middle portion, but the rest was solid. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t remember the circumstances around this feud, but it seems like it should have been better than it was.)  – Meanwhile, Flair and Eddie draw their numbers, resulting in Flair being delighted and Eddie not so much. The solution: Eddie picks his pocket. That’s certainly a unique solution. – Meanwhile, Heidenreich and Snitsky continue their epic romance from Survivor Series. I think someone’s been watching too much Oz. – Casket match: Undertaker v. Heidenreich. Speaking of Oz, this should be about as much fun as prison rape. UT grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses him into an armdrag. Heidenreich backs off, because he’s afraid of caskets. Interestingly, I’m afraid of Heidenreich matches. So everyone is kind of facing their fears. Taker goes after the knee now and gets a half-crab. Heidenreich bails and tries to run away, but Taker follows, and they brawl. I use that term loosely. Taker gets the worst of it, as Heidenreich overcomes his fear of caskets and rams UT into it a few times. They head into the ring, where Taker gets the deadly Bermuda Triangle Choke, but Snitsky runs in and breaks it up. That’s quite the complex plan they hatched, no? That allows Kane to pop out of the casket, which I’m sure no one saw coming, and clean house on his arch-enemy. How sad is it to have an arch-enemy named Gene Snitsky, whose gimmick is killing babies? Meanwhile, Heidenreich continues to fight his necrophobia, shoving the casket down the aisle while making sure no one else is going to pop out, and he whips UT into the stairs. He drives the casket into Undertaker, although it clearly misses by a lot, and they head back into the ring, where Heidenreich struggles to get a SLEEPER on Undertaker. Yes, he couldn’t remember how to do a sleeper. He rolls Taker into the casket, but that only makes him mad. Taker sandwiches Heidenreich in the casket and drops a leg on it, which was a nice spot if nothing else. Taker tries a bulldog (?!?) and Heidenreich counters to a Bossman slam, then tries a pin. Heidenreich smartens up and rolls him into the casket instead, but again it doesn’t work. They slug it out, with Heidenreich looking like he’s stoned while he flails away, and Taker gets a bad-looking DDT to set up a worse-looking chokeslam, and the tombstone thankfully finishes things at 13:19. Watchable, but not much more. * (2012 Scott sez:  I still feel ripped off that we didn’t get Kane & Undertaker v. Snitsky & Heidenreich at Wrestlemania.)  – Meanwhile, Teddy Long wants Flair’s number back from Eddie. And the wallet. (2012 Scott sez:  The number was probably worth more than the wallet at that point.)  – Meanwhile, John Cena’s number picking is interrupted by Christian, who wants a RAP OFF. “Tomko, give me a beat.” “No.” (2012 Scott sez:  TOMKO~!  This of course was a legendary segment.)  Christian’s rap is both fresh and phat, but Cena wins due to politics. – Smackdown World title: JBL v. Big Show v. Kurt Angle. Bradshaw goes after Show to start, and that doesn’t prove smart. Show smacks him around in the corner, but runs into a boot in the corner. JBL tries to follow with a high cross, but Show catches him and drops a leg for two. That brings Angle into things, and he gets pounded by Show, too. Show suplexes JBL and boots Angle down, then clotheslines both of them out of the ring. They fight on the floor and JBL eats post, while Show moves furniture around. He tries to chokeslam JBL through the table, but Angle saves with a low blow and a monitor to the head that sends Show crashing through the table. So with Show detained for a while, Angle beats on JBL and chases him into the ring, taking him down with an armdrag. JBL tries a big boot, but Angle takes him down with an armbar and tries to stay on that. Bradshaw takes over with a corner clothesline, but falls victim to a german suplex. He tries to counter with the Clothesline from New York, but Angle ducks (what a counter!) and gets another german. Angle Slam is countered with a boot to the face, which gets two. Show wanders back into the match and clotheslines them both a bunch of times, then slams Angle onto JBL. Into the corner for a butt splash on both, and another double clothesline sets up a double chokeslam. Angle and JBL team up for Total Elimination, but then Angle turns on JBL and suplexes him, then gets two on Show. Angle Slam on Show follows, and JBL gets two from that. Show comes back with a chokeslam for two. JBL bails, so Show charges him and puts him through the railing! Now there’s a spot you don’t see every day. Meanwhile Angle sneaks around and sets up a chair in the ring. Show flapjacks him on his own chair, but Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns attack Show. JBL’s flunkies help him out on the floor while Show beats up Angle’s crew, and OJ throws JBL into the ring, where he clotheslines Angle for the pin at 12:04. I know this will probably shock people, but I think this was too SHORT, because I was actually enjoying the hell out of it and liking the inventive spots before the abrupt finish. The overbooked finish kind of hurt it a bit, too. ***1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Talking point:  Who had the worse crew of flunkies at this point, Angle or JBL?)  RAW World title: HHH v. Randy Orton. Orton slugs him down to start and gets a backslide for two. He pounds HHH into the corner and backdrops him out, but a kick RKO attempt is foiled by HHH. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Steve Austin RARELY had the stunner countered or averted, and ditto DDP with the Diamond Cutter. That’s why it was such a great finish. When it happened, it was over, period. Anyway, HHH fights back and pounds away in the corner, but Orton drops him on the top rope and tries ANOTHER RKO, and fails AGAIN, as HHH dumps him out of the ring. Orton’s like a horny teenager going for a girl’s boob with that thing. HHH sends him into the stairs and slugs away, but charges and hits boot. Orton fights back as the crowd starts to turn on him, and HHH clips the knee and wraps it around the post. Back in, HHH clips him and drops an elbow on the knee. He keeps working on it, but Orton gets a cradle for two. HHH goes right back to it, and it’s figure-four time. After a couple of minutes of that, Orton reverses to escape, so HHH goes right back to the knee. Orton kicks him out of the ring, and fights back with a backbreaker as HHH comes back in. And suddenly the knee injury is miraculously healed and forgotten about. Neckbreaker gets two. Another one gets two. Powerslam gets two. HHH comes back with an atomic drop out of the corner and goes up, but gets slammed off. Orton goes up with a high cross for two. HHH comes back with a Pedigree attempt, which gets countered into a catapult. HHH counters the RKO again and follows with a high knee for two. Another Pedigree is countered with a clothesline, which gets two. They fight outside and Orton sends him into the stairs, and back in Orton slugs away in the corner. He tries a DDT, but HHH blocks and Orton seems to have knocked himself out. Orton takes a breather and gets checked out by the ref, who is promptly bumped by HHH. HHH beats Orton down like his bitch and then grabs the sledgehammer, but Orton manages to fight him off. Back in, Orton goes for the hammer, but gets owned by HHH. And that’s all she wrote for Orton, as KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes things at 21:28. Weird match, with a ref bump that didn’t even give Orton any offense, and a total destruction at the end by HHH. Oh well. **3/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Not much to say here.  That was the end of Orton’s big babyface run at the top, and it took him another couple of years to really find his way as a top level guy.)  Royal Rumble: Eddie Guerrero draws #1, and Chris Benoit is #2. They fight in the corner to start and Benoit takes him down with an armdrag, but so does Eddie. Eddie takes him down in a headlock and overpowers him, as Daniel Puder is #3. He stops to cut a promo, talking smack against Benoit and Guerrero, and somehow I’m sensing that’s a bad idea. They team up and kick his ass in the corner, holding a chop competition on him. Double suplex and then Benoit drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex. Guerrero gets the rolling verticals and Hardcore Holly is #4. He calls of Benoit and Guerrero, because he’s got this one. This sets up another chop contest on Puder, as they just tee off on the poor kid. Eh, who am I kidding, for $1,000,000 they can rape him in the middle of the ring and he shouldn’t be bitching. (2012 Scott sez:  How DARE someone get over on their own.  I don’t think Puder is even doing MMA these days, though.)  Holly gives him the Alabama Slam and Hurricane is #5, as Puder is out at 6:00. My boys turn on Holly and dump him at 6:15. Hurricane is their next victim, as they redden up his chest before Eddie betrays Benoit and they go back to fighting with each other again. Hurricane hits Eddie with the Blockbuster, but gets killed by Benoit’s chops again. Eddie dumps him at 7:24. Kenzo Suzuki is #6, and he takes the beating from the Radicalz. Benoit suplexes him and they pound him in the corner, then Eddie gets a backdrop suplex before Benoit tosses him…to the apron. Oooh. Eddie hangs on as Edge is #7. He’s all about Edge, to quote JR, as he goes after everyone without prejudice, and tries to dump Eddie. Doesn’t work, though. Kenzo hooks up with Benoit as Rey Mysterio is #8. He goes after everyone and bulldogs Edge, then dropkicks Benoit in the corner. Kenzo tries to dump him, but Rey hangs on and headscissors him out at 11:28. Eddie hits him with a backbreaker, however, and goes back to Benoit. Shelton Benjamin is #9 as the workrate really starts to flow. He goes after Edge with an elbow and backdrops Eddie as Benoit fights with Rey on the ropes. No one goes out, though. Rey does a nice headscissors on Shelton, and Booker T is #10. He pounds Edge down and gets a leg lariat, and Uncle Eric joins us at ringside for some reason. Rey springboards in from the apron to break up Benoit’s boston crab, and Jericho is #11. He elbows Benjamin down and starts chopping Edge, and now Teddy Long is out. Lots of punching and stuff as Luther Reigns is #12. Suddenly, all the RAW and Smackdown guys separate and team up. Big brawl erupts, which the crowd likes, and Hassan is #13. Now the brand differences are cleared up and everyone teams up to get rid of him at 20:15. Crowd likes that one too. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like Hassan as the outsider who just took things too far was an interesting gimmick idea, and I had no real problem with the subject matter as far as being tasteless or whatever, but he just couldn’t get over as a worker OR a talker, and that’s what killed him.)  Orlando Jordan is #14 as things settle back in the previous rhythm again. I think that the three black guys in the Rumble at the same time is coming close to setting some sort of record. Maybe during the Nation’s glory years there might have been four, but I can’t think of any other time there would be close to that many. The brothers should have teamed up to fight off whitey, but I can’t see that dynamic working as well with the crowd. Scotty 2 Hotty is #15, but Hassan lays him out before he even gets to the ring. Oh, sure, big man beating up a jobber. Scotty never enters the match, and thus is the winner and will presumably wrestle HHH at Wrestlemania. Charlie Haas is #16, as we’re halfway through now, and Booker kicks him in the face on the way in. Booker dumps Reigns at 24:24, and Jordan at 24:25, but Eddie dumps him at 24:42 after a Spinarooni that was ill-advised. Didn’t Ernest Miller’s dancing faux pas last year teach anyone anything? (2012 Scott sez:  Never stop for a dance-off in a Royal Rumble, no matter how funky you may be.  Brodus Clay would be well advised to remember that advice this year.)  Nice moment sees Haas & Benjamin reunited to beat on Eddie, and Rene Dupree is #17. He goes after Rey and chokes him down in the corner, but Haas hotshots him and double-teams him with Benjamin. Rey breaks up the WGTT love with a leg lariat, and Shelton goes up like a moron and gets shoved out by Edge at 26:36. How stupid do you have to be to try THAT? Speaking of stupid, Simon Dean is #18, and he takes his time getting in. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel bad for Nova getting that loser gimmick.)  Edge dumps Eddie at 28:18, drawing HUGE heel heat. They keep burying him and he keeps being the most over babyface on the roster. (2012 Scott sez:  I guess the burial remark ended up being ill-timed there.)  HBK is #19 as Dean finally gets into the ring, and he goes right for Edge. And Dean is gone at 29:11, via Shawn. Shawn goes after everyone and gets slugged down by Haas. Rey plays hide and seek with Edge as Shawn dumps Haas at 30:23, and JR confuses him with Dupree. Kurt Angle is #20, and he goes right for Benoit with a german suplex. It’s Angle Slams for everyone! Well, everyone but Shawn, who blocks and superkicks him out at 31:16. (2012 Scott sez:  Thus setting up one of the greatest WM matches of all-time!)  Coach is #21, and I’m not giving him much in the way of odds to last longer than Angle. Benoit elbows Rey down, and then turns his attention to Coach. Jericho and Rey fight on the ropes, but neither can get the other out. Mark Jindrak is #22, as Angle returns and dumps Shawn at 34:00. He beats on him outside and anklelocks him, which pretty much eats up that whole segment. Viscera is #23, as we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Jindrak tosses Rey, but he hangs on. You’d think everyone would stop and get rid of Vis at this point. Paul London is #24, and quite enthused about it. Dupree beats him down, and Jericho dumps Dupree mid-dance at 37:40. (2012 Scott sez:  What did I JUST SAY about dance-offs in a Rumble?)  Everyone fights on the ropes and John Cena is #25. He goes nuts and hits everyone, then does us a favor and gets rid of Vis at 39:02. The intervals shorten a bit, as Snitsky is #25. He clobbers quite a few people until London tries a sleeper on him. Snitsky puts him on the apron and then clotheslines him off, resulting in London taking the somersault bump of the YEAR off the apron to go out at 40:20. Snitsky boots Cena down and Kane is #26, much to Snitsky’s chagrin. Gene goes after him and gets clotheslined, and Kane chokeslams some people for fun. Jindrak is out at 42:08. Coach commits suicide by attacking him, but Snitsky saves him. The COAT HANGER on Kane follows, and Batista is #27, to a MONSTER face pop. It’s for real, folks. (2012 Scott sez:  Well, duh.  Hard to believe people would think otherwise at the time given what a huge star Batista turned into.)  Snitsky goes bye at 43:10. He faces off with Kane and the crowd knows who it wants to win that one. Demon bomb on Kane! Jericho charges and goes for a ride at 43:57. He can’t get Edge out, however. Christian is #29 and he of course wants John Cena to avenge the rap battle. Cena FUs Kane out at 45:16, and Rey wants an alliance. Flair is of course #30, and we’ve got our field for the finish. Ric and Dave give Coach a ride at 46:32. Next up: Christian, who goes home at 46:57. Benoit goes after Flair with some chops, but Batista clobbers him with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. He goes back to Atlanta at 47:33. Flair tries to turn on Batista, and that proves to be unwise, but Rey and Edge save him. Edge spears Flair and tosses him at 48:06, and we have the last four. Final Four: Edge, Rey Mysterio, Batista and John Cena. (2012 Scott sez:  There’d be a hell of a tag match right there, and you could a few different combos of it effectively) Batista goes after Edge, but gets speared, as does Cena. Edge goes for Rey, but misses, and Rey follows with the 619. But that puts him on the apron, and Edge spears him off at 49:20. Edge goes for our heroes and gets dumped by them at 49:41. So it’s the obvious finish, with Cena and Batista. Slugfest and Cena goes for the FU, but can’t get him out. Batista tries the demon bomb, but both tumble out and it’s a tie. The RAW refs declare Batista the winner, and the Smackdown refs call Cena the winner, but Vince runs out to settle it. Sadly, he trips and blows out his knee on the way in, suffering the worst injury of the whole show. That’s pretty funny, actually. (2012 Scott sez:  Of course, it wasn’t just his knee, he actually tore BOTH quads, and was still back by Wrestlemania!  You can’t say he doesn’t set an example.)  Batista and Cena toss each other to no avail, and the match restarts. Cena goes for the FU, but Batista gets the spinebuster and tosses him for real at 53:54 to win the Rumble and go to Wrestlemania. Finish was really silly and messed up, but the rest was about as good as could be expected. **** The Pulse: The Rumble is always a fun show, even if this year was a bit of a foregone conclusion with either Cena or Batista having to win, although I’m not sure if the Rumble match was good enough to warrant a recommendation on its own given the weak undercard. Still, it was pretty darn good, so thumbs mildly up.