Monday Night Raw
Date: December 19, 2005
Location: Bagram Air Force Base, Bagram, Afghanistan
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Joey Styles
We pause to go overseas for Tribute to the Troops, which felt a lot more special when they actually went to the troops. None of the storyline stuff here is going to matter whatsoever and that’s not the point of the show. This is going to be a bunch of fast paced stuff and thanking the troops. There’s nothing wrong with that so the quality of the wrestling isn’t what matters this week. Let’s get to it.
The troops rush into the makeshift arena.
We get a video on the history of entertaining the troops and how special this show is.
Here’s Vince McMahon to open things up (Lawler: “He’s like our five star general.”) and he’s got a big promise: Santa Claus himself is making a special trip here, but he’s not sure what to get everyone for Christmas. Santa doesn’t know what to tell the negative media types back home who have forgotten about the soldiers here. That story is one with a happy ending because the armed forces get the job done. He has an idea of what they should do though and brings out military brat Lilian Garcia to sing the National Anthem (and certainly admires the barely existing outfit).
WWE had to stop at a base in Germany on the way here and met some troops at a medical hospital.
Carlito vs. Big Show
Carlito hides to start but manages to snap Show’s throat across the top rope. Some left hands don’t do much and it’s the chokeslam to finish Carlito in just over a minute.
Post match Show celebrates with the troops. Just assume that takes place after every match.
We look at the troops having to be worried about mines, some of which had to be destroyed with C4 (Spanish Fly, same thing).
Jonathan Coachman is in the ring and introduces Santa Claus, who isn’t fat and is in military gear instead of the red suit. He also seems to be John Bradshaw Layfield, who talks about knowing Vince since he was a little evil boy. Vince is wrong about the world forgetting about their troops, because the reality is no one cares. If this place was any better, it would suck. There was NO Dom Perignon for his reindeer and it might as well be called Rehabistan.
As a result, Santa is skipping Afghanistan next year and is canceling Cinco de Mayo, Oktoberfest, Arbor, St. Patrick’s Day, Bastille Day and everything else. Oh and no leave for the troops! He’s going back home to cold beer….but we’ve got another Santa, who is rather large and in the red and white. This one says he’ll be delivering presents RIGHT HERE in Afghanistan but the other one says the only ho-ho-hos around here are the Divas. The red Santa wants a No Ho-Ho-Holds Barred match to settle this once and for all.
Good Santa vs. Bad Santa
Bad Santa hammers away to start so Good Santa hits him with the sack of toys. The pillow comes out of Good Santa’s shirt (that’s a relief as even Mick isn’t that big) but since it’s a pillow, it doesn’t do much damage. A big boot drops Good Santa instead but the Clothesline From Bad Santa misses and it’s the double arm DDT. The Mandible Claw is good for the fast pin.
John Cena and Trish Stratus had a quick press conference and met some troops.
MSNBC was here too and interviewed some troops. They’re still looking for Osama Bin Laden.
Shelton Benjamin vs. Snitsky
Snitsky shoves him in the face to start and knocks him down without much effort. The turnbuckle pad is ripped off but Shelton slugs away and hits a running forearm. The top rope clothesline connects but the Stinger Splash hits the buckle. A big boot gives Snitsky the pin. Shelton can’t even win HERE?
We look at a hut that has been turned into a makeshift coffee bar.
John Cena vs. Chris Masters
Non-title. Cena grabs a headlock to start as the announcers talk about the great strides democracy has been making in Afghanistan. Masters runs him over with a shoulder but Cena is right back with a front facelock. Back up and Masters pounds him down with a front facelock of his own. The Masterlock doesn’t quite work and Masters’ middle rope fist drop misses. Cena initiates the finishing sequence and it’s the Shuffle into the AA for the pin.
Rating: C. Yeah this was fine as Cena gets to beat up a muscleheaded heel. It’s not like Masters loses anything by getting beaten by the champ here as the show exists in its own continuity. That and it’s not like anyone believed he had a real chance to win the title in the Chamber anyway. I’m not entirely sure why it was non-title but it doesn’t really matter.
More clips of wrestlers meeting the troops.
Coach brings out Ric Flair, who is rather well received. Coach calls this Flair’s farewell tour because HHH beat him down at Survivor Series. Even Coach could beat him right now so let’s do it for the Intercontinental Title.
Intercontinental Title: Jonathan Coachman vs. Ric Flair
Flair is defending and takes Coach into the corner without much effort to start. A back elbow staggers Flair and Coach gets to take off the shirt (King: “Oh no, he’s exposing his body!”). Flair comes back with the chops and a low blow, followed by the Figure Four to retain in a hurry.
More clips of the troops, including an explanation from future United States Senator Martha McSally, and the wrestlers talking about how awesome this is.
Candice Michelle to keep Maria from going into an area that hasn’t been cleared for mines.
Candice Michelle/Maria vs. Trish Stratus/Ashley Massaro
The women are attired as you would expect them to be. Ashley and Maria start things off with Maria celebrating an early takedown. Candice comes in and wants Trish but it’s already time for the stalling on the floor. Actually make that body surfing and then the Go Daddy dance. Trish shoves her to the floor and lays on the ropes before accidentally headscissoring the referee. Maria is too busy posing on the apron to take the tag so Trish headscissors Candice this time. Ashley comes back in for a double elbow but Candice rolls her up and grabs….whatever you call what Ashley is wearing for the pin.
Rating: D+. There might have been something other than the wrestling here and that’s fine given the situation. The women were there for one purpose here and it worked well enough. The soldiers liked it and that’s all they were going for here. Again though, kind of weird to have the heels win but it doesn’t exactly matter.
More troops tell stories.
We look at the arena being built.
HHH vs. Shawn Michaels
Boot Camp match, meaning military themed street fight. Shawn is in fatigues to add some flavor. HHH runs him over to start so Shawn armdrags him into an armbar. A backslide gives Shawn two and it’s the armbar going on again. HHH shoulders him to the floor though and we take a break. Back with Shawn getting knocked outside again so they fight up to the entrance.
The Pedigree on the stage is broken up so Shawn hits him with a sandbag. HHH comes back with a gas can to the head and they head back inside. This time HHH gets whipped over the corner and they fall outside, with Shawn hitting him with a mop. That earns Shawn a posting but the referee gets bumped. There’s no one to count after a DDT so here’s a second referee for the delayed two.
The second referee points to the Army patch on his arm, earning him a salute….and a right hand. HHH dives onto a raised boot though and the comeback is on, including the forearm into the nipup. There’s the elbow but Sweet Chin Music is countered. So is the Pedigree though and it’s a catapult into the corner into the superkick for the pin.
Rating: B-. This was the only match that was treated seriously all night and that’s easy to understand. These two know each other so well that they could have a competent match without trying and that’s probably what they did here. You can imagine how many times they probably did something like this at a house show so doing it here with a bit of a theme is a good way to go out.
One more big video ends the show.
Overall Rating: C+. These shows are similar to Year In Review shows as I never know how to rate them. The wrestling is completely not the point and it’s a bunch of clips of the wrestlers interacting with the troops. That being said, it’s an easy show to watch and a lot of the footage is cool so it’s not something that deserves any real complaints. If nothing else, it’s nice to see WWE putting in this much effort. While they get a lot of good publicity, they do something to earn it and that makes it better. Fine show, as usual in the old days.
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