So, change of plans. I try to keep up with Raw and Smackdown every week, but its becoming harder and harder to do so with…my life in the way. While I will continue to try and write current TV up as much as I can, I thought I’d also change tack and write about something I have been able to watch quite a lot of in the meantime: 2006.
This isnt going to be anything as detailed as my normal reports, or even as detailed as the excellent WWF Through the Years: 2000 series that you should all be reading. I’m not really going through entire shows or looking to be complete and accurate, more just cherry picking from the best stuff, the stuff that looks interesting to me, or the stuff I have easy access to. These are just my thoughts that come from reviewing the 2006 product with 2012 eyes, and if there’s anything to take away, maybe just a vague idea of what I think is worth watching, or re-watching, after all this time.
So, welcome to the wonderful world of WWE in 2006. As the year starts, its a world where a recently deceased man is the most over babyface in the company. Where DX is only yet a figment of little kids’ imaginations. Where the Spirit Squad (including a young Dolph Ziggler) are about to become top heels. Where wrestlers curse, bleed, get hit in the head and have live sex. Where Joey Styles and Coach call Raw. A world where John Cena, of all people, gets booed unmercifully and called a terrible wrestler! Well, maybe its not so different after all.
The year kicks off with Edge cashing in, which is an incredible moment to look back on in light of the thousand or so tributes to it we’ve seen since. Just think about how refreshing the title scene was when Edge won that belt, how shocking that 2 minute title change was, how crazy things were on Raw in January. Good times, good times.
But actually the most important thing going on at this point, and the real reason why Raw was so great, is a little angle we all like to call Trish Stratus and Mickie James, Motherf*ckers. The period around the New Year was pretty much the zenith of the angle, at least in my eyes, with Mickie kissing her under the mistletoe, telling her she loved her, and them wrestling their first match at NYR, which I’ve actually always rated above their more famous Wrestlemania match. This completely blew my mind away and stole my heart away and all those other things away. I dont know that there are any words left that I havent used to describe my feelings on these two, but suffice to say, that match is easily in my Top 5 of All Time and has to be watched as an example of the Divas Doin’ It Right.
New Year’s Revolution is a REALLY underrated show. On the undercard there’s a really well worked Hunter vs Show match, the one where Show has a cast on his broken hand and they work around it. I remember enjoying this at the time and it more than holds up. Hunter at this point in time, between this and the Flair feud was really bringing the utter assholery and working well as the sadistic f*cker who was flat-out trying to cripple people. Show, even back then, was selling like a motherf*cker, and the hand angle playing out through the match was fascinating. Totally worth a watch. As an aside, Hunter being in the midcard for a cup of coffee here is so strange, even now.
The Chamber itself is really good. Its not on the level of the best Chamber matches, but thats a pretty harsh complaint and its still a ton of fun. Angle riding the wave of his smark fanbase only to come in, run wild and get IMMEDIATELY SUPERKICKED AND PINNED. I laughed FOREVER. And Carlito and Masters teaming up to take down the main eventers one by one was a cool little angle that led to an awesome finish – hilarious and clever and shocking and infuriating to Cena haters all at the same time. Really loved it.
And then of course, the aftermath. Funny how the first time they had Vince McMahon actually come out and announce the cash-in, instead of the surprise run-in we’re now used to. Cena kicking out of the first spear was an amazing moment, for the crowd reaction and Edge’s selljob and the flicker of doubt you felt that maybe Cena would STILL keep the damn title. It was fun having that unknown aspect to MITB. Edge was completely beside himself when he won and even I couldnt help but feel happy for him. It came off like a real accomplishment, and as much as I still love MITB, it has never worked as well as it did the first time.
But above all, the main thing that people shouldnt sleep on with NYR is THE FUNNIEST MATCH OF ALL TIME. Not even kidding. This is the all-important PPV debut of the Mother of Shelton Benjamin (Shelton’s Momma to you and I) and her ensuing work in the Shelton vs Viscera match makes this literally the most hilarious match I’ve ever seen. Go back and watch it if you dont believe me – she’s completely insane throughout and the announcers spend literally the entire match rolling on the floor at her antics (as in, they’re actually laughing, not the fake headset-fed “laughing” we’re used to now). Its some of the most fun you can have in 10 minutes, with an abundance of quotable lines, the likes of which we dont see again until JBL starts announcing. It really makes me wish Shelton’s Momma had a longer run, she had so much potential as a performer. Another must-watch match in my opinion.
Stay tuned for the next episode on the rest of January, including the Royal Rumble and TV.