Date: January 13, 2006
Location: Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz
It’s a big night around here as we are finally done with the Chris Benoit vs. Randy Orton/Booker T. series for the US Title. It’s kind of interesting that so many fans (myself included) seem to remember more Benoit vs. Orton matches than there really were. I’m not sure what else to expect here but let’s get to it.
Here are Batista and Teddy Long to open things up. Commentary talks about Batista suffering some injuries over the weekend and this doesn’t sound good. With a heavy sigh, Batista talks about being injured in a match against Mark Henry over the weekend, meaning he’s going to need surgery and be out for a long time.
A long time ago, a friend of his named Paul told him to enjoy the ride with the title and that is what he has done. He has enjoyed following in the footsteps of men like Ric Flair, Harley Race and Dusty Rhodes. Due to the injury though, he is forced to relinquish the World Title. Batista hands the title to Long, but says he’s coming back for it. It’s sad to see the title reign end like this but there was nothing else they could have done. Granted the fact that he hadn’t defended the title on TV since No Mercy in October, they might have been running out of things for Batista to do anyway.
During the break, various people wished Batista luck, including Ricky Steamboat and Arn Anderson. Rey Mysterio had the big emotional moment.
Back in the ring, Long says that we’ll be crowning a new World Champion tonight in a battle royal.
We recap the Best of Seven series for the US Title.
Randy Orton wants in the battle royal but Long says no because Orton is only wrestling once tonight.
US Title: Chris Benoit vs. Randy Orton
For the vacant title, and Booker T. (here at ringside with Sharmell) is champion if Orton wins. They fight over a lockup to start with neither being able to get anywhere in the corner. Benoit takes him down by the arm into a keylock with a bodyscissors but Orton gets up and drives him into the corner. Orton’s throat is snapped across the top with Benoit dropping to the floor….and grabbing his knee while pointing at Booker. That’s enough for an ejection and we take a break.
Back with Orton fighting out of a bearhug of all things and working on Benoit’s arm. Orton actually takes him down for a headlock but has to fight out of a Crossface attempt. Benoit chops away but gets sent shoulder first into the post, allowing the headlock takeover to work a bit better this time around. Another Crossface attempt is blocked so Benoit goes with an armbar instead. That’s enough to send Orton bailing to the floor again, only to have Benoit suplex him right back in.
The armbar goes on again but Orton slips out and heads up top. That earns him a bunch of headbutts for a crash down into the barricade so we can take another break. Back again with Orton dropping some knees but Benoit chops from the mat to get him away. The chinlock (of course) goes on but Benoit is out in a hurry. A dropkick takes him down again and we’re right back to the chinlock.
Benoit fights up in a hurry and gets two off a fisherman’s suplex. The chops in the corner set up the Sharpshooter but Orton is straight over to the ropes. The rolling German suplexes set up the missed Swan Dive though and they’re both down again. Benoit is up first and tries the Sharpshooter, with the kickoff bumping the referee.
Cue Orlando Jordan….who is knocked down with a single shot because Jordan is really bad at his job. The Crossface goes on again so here are Booker and Sharmell as the referee is still down. Benoit decks Booker and grabs the Crossface again for the unseen tap. Booker gets in and hits Benoit with the title for the save and Orton gets the pin to make Booker champion.
Rating: B. The screwy finish is a bit annoying but at least the series is finally over. They have been needing to move on to something else for a good while now and it’s nice to see the thing finish. There are a few ways to go after that screwy finish, but that probably means Booker vs. Benoit again because we haven’t seen it enough so far. Good match though, as these two always have chemistry together.
Roddy Piper runs into JBL and Jillian Hall in the back, with JBL saying he should be on Piper’s Pit tonight instead of the Boogeyman. JBL makes the mistake of mentioning that Piper never won the World Title…and gets the spot on the show. Piper on Jillian: “Put her on a leash if you can.”
Eddie Guerrero’s family was given an award in his memory.
Here’s Piper for Piper’s Pit. Piper talks about the show debuting right here in Philadelphia 22 years ago but here are JBL and Jillian to interrupt his entrance. JBL talks about fighting through injuries and keeps cutting Piper off. He promises to win the title back tonight and the party will be on in New York. Piper finally gets to talk and asks about the growth on Jillian’s face, which has more hair on it than George Steele.
JBL interrupts and is told to shut up. Piper: “JBL, you’re as stupid as she looks.” Cue the Boogeyman, with JBL throwing Jillian at him. Boogeyman licks the growth on Jillian’s face and then bites it off in the best thing that could have happened to Jillian’s career. Boogeyman goes over to Piper, who immediately starts praying. That’s enough for Boogeyman, as Piper isn’t sure what he just saw.
Melina is ready for Mark Henry or MNM to be World Champion.
Finlay is coming next week.
Smackdown World Title: Battle Royal
William Regal, Paul Burchill, Mark Henry, Animal, John Bradshaw Layfield, Joey Mercury, Johnny Nitro, Matt Hardy, Bobby Lashley, Paul London, Brian Kendrick, Psicosis, Super Crazy, Rey Mysterio, Simon Dean, Sylvan, Orlando Jordan, Nunzio, Vito, ???
There’s a bonus competitor and it’s…..KURT ANGLE, who jumps over from Raw (with Daivari). JBL says he’s got this and is quickly German suplexed, followed by a clothesline for the fast elimination. Vito is out as well and it’s Animal slugging it out with Henry. MNM takes Animal out though and we take a break. Back with Dean having been eliminated and MNM tossing Nunzio.
Angle throws out Jordan, Regal and Burchill in a row, followed by Henry throwing Angle through the ropes. Lashley gets rid of London as Henry follows Angle to the floor and loads up the announcers’ table. Henry gorilla presses Angle through the table and heads back inside for the showdown with Lashley. The shoulder doesn’t work but Lashley does block a suplex. That’s it for his success though as Henry dumps him out, followed by getting rid of Kendrick for a bonus.
Back from another break with MNM, Henry, Hardy, Mysterio, Sylvan and Angle (on the floor) still in. Hardy gets rid of Sylvan but Henry gets rid of him, followed by Mysterio getting rid of MNM back to back. Mysterio realizes that leaves him alone with Henry and there are the EDDIE chants. Rey hits some dropkicks to the knee and a pair of 619s before making the eternal mistake of jumping on Henry’s back. Henry puts him on the apron and catches the springboard for the easy elimination.
Angle is back up though and we’re down to two. The straps come down and Angle is in….where Henry runs him over. Angle snaps off the Angle Slam but Henry hits the running splash in the corner. Henry puts him on top but Angle grabs a headscissors choke, only to get powerbombed right back down. A German suplex gives Angle a breather and he tries to guillotine Henry over the top ala Benoit in the 2004 Royal Rumble. With that not working, Angle goes back to the headscissors and pulls Henry over to win the title.
Rating: C+. This was a situation where WWE didn’t have many options so they went with one of their best choices. Angle is as safe of a pick as you have for World Champion on such a short notice. You can put him into any spot on the card and it’s not like it’s some kind of a stretch to make him the new champ. They can figure out where they want to go from here and Angle is a great bridge to get there. The match was fine with Henry being the only real threat to Angle, and the ending should set up a Royal Rumble title match. They did what they could with their limited options and that’s perfectly acceptable.
Confetti falls to end the show.
Overall Rating: B-. This was the “we don’t have a pay per view” edition of Smackdown and that’s perfectly fine. It’s a show that is going to work every time because it feels important. I’m curious to know what the original plan was for the main event, but a 20+ minute US Title match was more than a big enough deal. Good show here, and Angle coming in as the surprise champion was a cool moment.
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