The DVD reviews move into the final month of 2005 as we look at the SmackDown! Pay-Per-View Armageddon. Highlighted by a Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Randy Orton, and with an inter-promotional match between two sets of tag team champions, emotions were likely to run high. But is the DVD worth buying? Time to find out….
Length: 175 mins
- Hell In A Cell Match:
The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (w/ Cowboy Bob Orton)
- Inter-Promotional Tag Team Match (Non-title):
Batista and Rey Mysterio (WWE Tag Team Champions, SmackDown!) vs. Kane and Big Show (World Tag Team Champions, RAW)
- Match #4 in Best of Seven Series for the United States Title:
Chris Benoit (0) vs. (3) Booker T (w/ Sharmell)
- WWE Cruiserweight Title Match:
Juventud © vs. Kid Kash
- Handicap Match:
Lashley vs. William Regal and Paul Burchill
- MNM (Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro w/ Melina) vs. The Mexicools (Psicosis and Super Crazy)
- John Bradshaw Layfield (w/ Jillian) vs. Matt Hardy
The month was December, the year 2005, and the monthly Pay-Per-View was Armageddon, taking place in Providence, Rhode Island. SmackDown! PPVs of course are always tarnished with the brush of being of poor quality, and so very few people had very high expectations for this show. With no World Title defence due to Batista competing in the inter-promotional Tag Team match, there was only one match that was going to save the show from obscurity, the Hell in a Cell match between Orton and Undertaker, as everything else seemed instantly forgettable.
Highs and Lows
The PPV kicks off with JBL taking on Matt Hardy, a match that had been built up with simply a 3 minute backstage segment where JBL interrupted a Hardy interview and Hardy attacked JBL. Many people believe this match to be part of Matt Hardy’s punishment for refusing to be Chokeslammed by The Undertaker at Survivor Series, and judging by not only how short this match is (just under 7 minutes), but also the complete lack of offence Hardy gets, and how dominating JBL is throughout, it’s hard to disagree with that assessment. Not the most enjoyable way to start a show, as although I like both JBL and Hardy, a PPV isn’t the best place to punish someone for backstage politics by having a squash match.
We then get a quick highlight package of Batista and Melina’s “extra-curricular activities”, which would eventually lead into a sexual harassment storyline that got dropped when Batista was injured. This leads into Psicosis and Super Crazy asking Melina for the same favour in return for dropping the match, which she refuses. A segment purely designed for time-filling, but without much else to fill the time with, at least it built up the following match.
Which, unsurprisingly, sees MNM take on the Mexicools. This match was originally scheduled to be a WWE Tag Team Title match, with the Mexicools actually winning a Tag Team battle royal to earn the #1 Contenders status. But a week before the event the powers that be decided to hot-shot the WWE Tag Team Titles over to Batista and Rey Mysterio to make the inter-promotional match also a battle of tag team champions, and so this match was just left there without any real purpose.
But despite not having any reasoning behind it, the two teams show they have great in-ring chemistry together. It’s hard to believe that MNM have been in the WWE for less than a year, they’re already three time champions and look like they’ve been teaming together for years. On the other side is one of my current favourites Super Crazy, and Psicosis who isn’t bad either. It’s a great display of tag team wrestling and is definitely fun to watch throughout, and deserved longer than the eight minutes it was given.
Next up is the fourth match of the Best of Seven Series between Booker T and Chris Benoit. With Booker 3-0 up in the series at this point after victories at Survivor Series and two SmackDown!s, Benoit obviously needed this victory in order to keep the series alive. At this time rumours were running rampant that Benoit was coming to the end of his WWE contract, and that he was going to lose this match and the series 4-0, before leaving the WWE and heading to TNA and Japan. Of course, that never happened, and it turned out that Benoit had signed a renewal of his contract long before this match even took place.
As for the match itself, well Benoit and Booker are a combination that will always put on a solid match at least. And this twenty minute match is no exception, as the chemistry between the two works as usual, and we get to see another fine match. Aside from the good in-ring work, Sharmell provides some outside entertainment, such as hitting Benoit with the bristles of her broom, obviously having no affect on the Wolverine. There are several near-falls at the end, with each one on Benoit making me worry that he’s leaving, and although the ending comes out of nowhere, the contest on the whole is good. This would also be Booker’s final match in the series, a knee injury forcing him to be replaced by Randy Orton as a substitute, and sending Booker to the commentary table to provide his awesome play-by-play. Never back a rabbit into a corner.
As with most WWE PPVs, the lack of matches begins to take its toll, and we soon have an in-ring filler segment. This involves Palmer Canon, Teddy Long, and Vito dressed up as Santa Claus, with Nunzio as his elf. Things don’t go very far, with Nunzio distributing coal to Michael Cole, and Vito cutting the blandest heel promo ever. Thankfully, your hero and mine The Boogeyman makes an appearance to take care of Nunzio and Vito, before opening Vito’s Santa sack, grabbing some worms, and shoving them down Vito’s throat. Whether or not this worked for you pretty much depends on your enjoyment of The Boogeyman, meaning there is no middle ground, just love or hate.
And now we come to another match without much of a story to it, The Softly-Spoken Real Deal Bobby Lashley taking on both William Regal and pre-pirate Paul Burchill in a handicap match. The match only lasts four minutes, with all of Regal and Burchill’s offence meaning nothing, as Lashley no-sells, Suplexes, Dominators, and wins. Obviously the purpose of the match was to put Lashley over, but I’d much rather see him get over in actual storylines rather than 4 minute matches that mean nothing and don’t add anything to the PPV.
Now comes the moment that will either keep you interested in the PPV, or end your interest completely. We head to the Friendly Tap, a bar near Providence owned by former WWE referee Tim White, and scene of several skits from WWE history, mainly involving the APA and bar-room brawls. This time however, Josh Matthews is interviewing White about the Hell in a Cell ending his career (not strictly true, as although White injured his shoulder, he refereed the Jericho/Christian match at WrestleMania XX). White goes off on a rant about how his life is in ruins, before threatening Matthews with a shotgun. He then heads off-screen with the aforementioned shotgun, and a shot is heard, with blood seen. Mr. White, that just isn’t wise. Since then we’ve had several more Tim White skits, and I like them in a suspension of reality type way, plus Josh’s awesome catchphrases. But many, many people don’t like them, so if you’re one of them, skip past this on the DVD.
The crowd certainly wished they had missed the previous segment, as they are completely and utterly dead for the next match, the Cruiserweight Title match between Juventud and Kid Kash. Juvi was pretty much packing his WWE bags at this point, as his bizarre behaviour and suggestions backstage meant his WWE career was as good as done. With the crowd dead and an uninterested Juvi, what could have been a good nine minute match turned into something that is pretty difficult to get into. A few weeks later they had a much better match on SmackDown!, Juvi’s last match with the company, so if you’ve seen that match you probably won’t be too impressed with this one.
It’s now time for our inter-promotional match, as Kane and Big Show, the RAW Tag Team Champions, take on Batista and Rey Mysterio, the SmackDown! tag team champions. This was the fall-out of the huge RAW v SmackDown! feud that swallowed up most of late 2005, with SmackDown! coming out on top at Survivor Series. During the feud, Kane and Big Show had double-chokeslammed Batista to the mat (a spot that tore Batista’s lateral muscle), through a table and through a car (a spot that explained why Batista had torn his lateral muscle storyline-wise). Big Show had faced Rey on a special SmackDown! show, a show more notable for Randy Orton blowing up Eddie’s tribute low rider than the actual match (which didn’t even get a finish). As I mentioned earlier, Batista and Rey were given the WWE Tag Team titles purely to make this a “battle of the champions”, even though the match had been made before the title switch.
With Rey being the only above average worker in the match, nobody expected this to be a tag team classic, and they were right. Batista was still working through one of his many injuries and so his participation was understandably kept to a minimum. As with many of the matches tonight, it was kept short (8 minutes) and not particularly sweet, with the finish literally coming out of nowhere. Considering that this match ended up being the blow-off match for the RAW vs. SmackDown! feud, it’s surprising how little time it was given.
And now for the Main Event, and the final match in possibly the best feud of 2005, the Hell in a Cell match between Randy Orton and The Undertaker. They had been feuding since before WrestleMania 21 in March, and nine months later, with a few months taken off for Orton’s shoulder injury, we reached the final chapter. The two weeks before this match had certainly had their odd moments, from Taker appearing in the mirror ala Ultimate Warrior, Orton imagining his father as a bloody mess, and Josh Matthews being taken over by The Undertaker to cut a promo, before Orton faked retirement to swerve The Undertaker and attack him, many people were wishing for this match to happen purely to end the insanity.
If you’ve been following the times for each of the matches so far, you’ll realise that only Booker vs. Benoit has made it past the ten minute mark. Well that all changes here, as this match gets 30 minutes of in-ring time, with The Undertaker’s entrance taking up an additional 3 and a half minutes. Yes, 3 and a half minutes for one entrance. HHH take note. The match itself was your usual HiaC brawl, but instead of focussing on just beating the crap out of each other, there was more of a psychological aspect to it. A little game you can play during the match is “Guess when Bob Orton’s blood infects The Undertaker with hepatitis”. Quite grim yes, but entertaining. Compared to Hell in a Cell’s of the past such as Taker/HBK and Cactus/HHH this was nothing special. Maybe the repetitiveness of the HiaC matches may spell the end for the gimmick soon. Luckily on this PPV, there was no added ending involving The Undertaker, he merely just posed on top of the cell.
Just when you though Extras couldn’t get any worse, here they come.
* Friendly Tap memories
Yes, that’s it. We get all the clips from the previous outings in the Friendly Tap, involving the APA, the New Age Outlaws, Kaientai and Billy & Chuck, introduced by Josh Matthews. It runs for about ten minutes and is quite interesting, but not worthy of being the only Extra on a DVD.
In conclusion, I do think that the matches on the PPV were of a fairly good standard, with no real stinkers. The other segments on the PPV will entertain you or make you seethe with rage depending on how much you like the Boogeyman, or how much you hate the Tim White segments. So overall, if you didn’t see the PPV the first time and want to watch some fairly good matches, think about buying it. But this DVD really is a split decision, so think carefully.
Points: 6 / 10