In pro wrestling, the best laid chants can change in a second. As we saw way too often in the second half of 2005. WWE’s luck did not change much for the better at the beginning of 2006. It seemed like WWE would continue to build around Cena & Batista as super babyface champions on RAW & Smackdown respectively. However, the first weekend of the year, Batista suffered a torn triceps at a house show and had to vacate the World Title, leaving Smackdown’s plans in shambles again. On RAW, the backlash against Cena from longtime fans had gone from a murmur to a blood curdling scream.
I can’t put my exact finger on why the same fans who cheered Cena at the beginning of ’05, booed him voraciously at the beginning of ’06. My best guess is that a character can only overcome the odds so many times before the unbelievable becomes the inevitable and something that was once exciting becomes boring. Cena’s character got very boring, very quickly. A few people might say it was because the character was less edgy but remember, we’re still two and a half years away from the TV PG era. Whatever happened, it seemed like as soon as Cena jumped to RAW in the Summer of ’05, his act immediately became toothless and bland.
It seems like something had to be done to freshen up his act. Take the title off him long term? Hah. Well, that wouldn’t happen for another decade. However, the first chink in Cena’s armor, character-wise, was about to happen.
RAW Presents…WWE New Year’s Revolution
January 8th, 2006
Live from the Pepsi Arena in Albany, New York
Announcers: Joey Styles, Jonathan Coachman, and Jerry Lawler (last two matches)
Show opens with a video package where WWE superstars discuss the history and the brutality of the Elimination Chamber match. Considering this was only the fourth Elimination Chamber match, it seems a little early to be waxing nostalgic. Maybe it’s just me. WWE seemed to consider this match an instant classic gimmick match, which I don’t think it was. Anyway, other than that, this was a typical, solid opening video package for a WWE pay per view.
This pay per view is sponsored by the WWE DVD Board Game. WWE made a DVD Board Game? C’mon EBay…
WWE Intercontinental Title Match: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (c) Vs Edge (with Lita)
This match seems like a really huge matchup for a WWE Intercontinental Title match in 2006. And it seems really odd for an opener but I guess there’s not a better option for an opener, I guess. And it has to be opener for reasons we’ll see later. Storyline is Ric Flair can’t cut promos on Edge due to the advice of his lawyers. That doesn’t make sense. Why have a storyline where one of the greatest promos of all time is unable to cut promos? Joey Styles talks about Flair being able to go 60 minutes. I’m not sure if that’ll happen with this match. Coach slips up and says “This is the Ric Flair of 2005.” Also, it’s surreal to hear Joey Styles call a Ric Flair match.
Anyway, this is a fine match but not one of the better Flair matches from this period. Even at this advance age, Flair could still have good if not great matches with great workers but Edge was kind of bringing his B game for this match (again…for obvious reasons). I like that Flair actually hits the chop from the top rope in this match again and even manages to fight off an interfering Lita (and Edge trying to do the slam off the top reversal that Flair foiled so many times). Match ends with Flair doing his creepy, old man hip thrusts at Lita and putting her in the Figure Four. Edge whacks him with the Money in the Bank briefcase to draw the DQ. **1/2 After the match, Edge bloodies Flair.
Todd Grisham is with Kurt Angle & Daivari. Angle cuts one of my favorite promos of all time. Angle hopes the U.S. will lose the War in Iraq and thinks France is the greatest country in the World. He’s not a huge fan of (finger quotes) “the black people” (finger quotes) and he would like to make Jesus Christ tap. No matter what he says, the fans won’t boo him and he’ll still win the World Championship tonight. He’s beaten John Cena, Shawn Michaels, and Kane (the latter two at WrestleMania) and Chris Masters and Carlito aren’t in his league. I love that this promo just blatantly admits that WWE’s over the top attempts to make fans hate Angle in ’05 (HOT NASTY, BEASTIAL SEX) didn’t work and he was just gonna go back to being psychotic but sorta goofy ass kicker.
A bloodied Ric Flair is helped from the ring. Good opening to set up Edge as a diabolical heel.
We’re live from the Pepsi Arena in Albany, NY! We get a view of “lovely” Downtown Albany. I almost went to the RAW hosted by Al Sharpton at this arena. Ah well. #regrets
Video package for Trish Stratus Vs Mickie James. Mickie is Trish’s biggest fan but Trish hates Mickie’s homoerotic antics. Excuse me while I try to conceal this raging erection…
WWE Women’s Title Match: Trish Stratus (c) Vs Mickie James
Trish Stratus & Jonathan Coachman came into WWE in the same week and Coach has never seen Trish this determined. I wish Trish was on ESPN now! Mickie James is great as a psychotic heel. She seems legit unhinged. Trish is really good as a passive aggressive babyface too. This is not just one of the better Divas angles of all time. This is one of the better angles in WWE of this era. Trish wins with the Chick Kick after Mickie mugs too much. Joey Styles says WITHOUT A DOUBT, the TOUGHEST DEFENSE of TRISH’s CAREER. Pretty good match but they’d have better later. ***
Maria Kenellis interviews herself. It’s hard to believe that she’d become one of the best heels in wrestling. Generic heel Gregory Helms barges in. He’s about to have his first match of 2006. He’s gonna make sure that Jerry Lawler won’t be doing his creepy old man routine on commentary for the Bra & Panties Gauntlet match that Maria’s in. He’s gonna send him to the hospital. He storms off and camera runs into…
Shelton Benjamin and his Momma! Momma derides Shelton’s recent lack of success. Momma’s gonna make sure Shelton gets back on track. Momma’s gonna get her boy some food from catering. Shelton’s not hungry but Momma’s got final word. Good lord. This was a pretty good way to derail Shelton’s career.
WWE would do a lot of segments in the mid ’00s where one backstage segment would immediately segue into the other. This must have been when Vince started watching The West Wing or something.
Gregory Helms Vs Jerry “The King” Lawler
Coach briefly tries to imply Gregory Helms is a new wrestler before Styles calls him out on it. Coach then says Helms has a new attitude. No idea why Jerry Lawler and Shane Helms are wrestling on a PPV in 2006. Styles says Jim Carrey’s movie career hasn’t been the same since he ran into Lawler! Oh. I guess they’re fighting because Lawler brought up The Hurricane and Helms was pissed that he brought up the most successful period of his career. Coach is annoying during this match talking about how FINALLY there’s unbiased guy in the color commentary position. Old Man Lawler’s had some pretty good matches but they’re never on WWE pay per views. He works a better pace on indy shows. Sometimes, I think that Lawler’s only been in WWE for the past twenty three and a half years to keep Memphis rasslin on life support. Helms dominates most of the match before Lawler makes a comeback and wins with the second rope fistdrop. I guess this was one of those eras where the piledriver was banned? * Helms immediately pops up and kind of no sells it. Coach says the cardiac unit should be sent out for Lawler.
Lita saunters out of the WWE Instant Access and Trish heads in. They have a stare down that’s interrupted by a cheerful Mickie James. The Chick Kick hurt! Mickie hopes her grandpappy saw this. The moment her and Trish’s skin touched each other. Them sweating together in the ring…
Speaking of boner inducing segments, Momma Benjamin looks for some catfish, cornbread, and neckbones for her son to eat before his match but is sexually harassed by Viscera. She may be Shelton’s Momma but Vis wants to be her daddy. Momma Benjamin ain’t having any of it. She’s gonna get her boy! Vis decides to scarf down some catering instead but Momma won’t even let him do that.
Video package for The Big Show Vs Triple H. Both guys cost each other a World Title shot and now they’re gonna face each other. Triple H is pissed that Big Show says he has no compassion so he pokes his eye and breaks his chokeslammin’ hand with a sledgehammer. That’ll teach ’em!
Triple H Vs The Big Show
It’s been weird but kind of refreshing to see Triple H in upper mid-card matches in these late ’05-early ’06 PPVs. After that three year reign of terror in the main event, Triple H seemed kind of rejuvenated by having the focus taken off him for a bit. Rejuvenated enough to dominate PPV main events for the rest of ’06. *shrugs* I like the announcers talking about how both of these guys are at a career crossroads. And both of these guys are on WWE PPVs ten years later. This company…This is one of those matches where the announcers talk about how Big Show is finally properly utilizing his intensity. This seems to happen once a year every year for Big Show’s run. I’m sure in a few months, we’ll have a “Big Show is dogging it” angle then he’ll be intense again then he’ll be a big ol’ goof.
This is one of the better Big Show matches of this era with Triple H trying to smash Big Show’s big cast. He shatters it against the ring post and it explodes in a cool moment. Big Show’s hand legit looks pretty gnarly. Show works around his injured hand and does some butt smashes. Must have learned it from his dad Andre. Show can’t chokeslam H with an injured hand and accidentally knocks out the ref in the process. Triple H goes for the sledgehammer but Show karate chops it with his broken hand. IDIOT! Big Show superkick? Triple H smashes Show’s broken hand with a chair. He goes for a second one but Show spears him. Show’s stealing everyone’s moves. Triple H wins after a second sledgehammer shot and the Pedigree. Referee finally woke up. He was out for at least five minutes. They didn’t even attempt to send out a replacement. Poor job by the officiating crew. Good match though. ***1/2
Carlito talks to Chris Masters in the Masterpiece’s locker room. Carlito proposes an alliance. They’ve never been WWE Champions and no one’s giving them a chance to win tonight. This match is supposed to be every man for himself but if they work together, they can take everyone else out and make sure a new new WWE Champion is crowned.
Shelton Benjamin and his Momma enter. Shelton Benjamin says no one talks to his mother like that. He wants Viscera to come out here and apologize. Momma Benjamin are from the streets of Orangeburg, South Carolina. They don’t take no apologies or ass whoopings! She tells Big Vis to come out and take his beating. Shelton doesn’t want any of Big Vis! He just wanted an apology! Man, this period really killed whatever momentum Shelton had left.
Shelton Benjamin (with Momma Benjamin) Vs Viscera
Coach loves Momma Benjamin’s ass. Momma Benjamin was actually semi-notable, ’90s stand up comedian Thea Vidale. I’m not sure if Shelton’s supposed to be a heel or face. He hides behind his Momma, at one point so I’m guessing the former. This is a styles clash for sure. This match mostly seems focused on Momma Benjamin screaming outside the ring. She doesn’t want to have to grab her belt. Viscagra is one of the moves that always made me embarrassed to be a rasslin fan. Never wanted to see King Mabel simulate anal sex on his opponents. Benjamin gets the win with a series of kicks to the head after Momma hits Vis with her purse while the ref is distracted. *
Shawn Michaels is warming up in the locker room. Vince McMahon wishes him good luck. Vinnie Mac says no one’s ever entered in Elimination Chamber at #1 (like HBK is tonight) and won but he wants to wish him good luck anyway. Michaels says before him, no one ever entered in at #1 in the Royal Rumble and won but he did. He fought in the first ladder match and won (uh, HBK, you LOST the first ladder match) and fought in the first Hell in a Cell and won. McMahon sulks off.
This set with the fire breathing dragon is pretty dope. You wouldn’t see that for a major PPV these days, let alone a third tier PPV such as this. THANKS OBAMA!
Bra & Panties Gauntlet Match, featuring; Maria, Candice Michelle, Torrie Wilson, Victoria, Mae Young, and Ashley Massaro
Maria and Candice Michelle are #1 and #2. Candice carries a magic wand, Lawler wants her to wave the wand at him so he can wave his wand at her. Ugh. Don’t whip it out, Lawler, you old creep! King makes a Bob Hope reference. Joey Styles actually half heartedly tries to give this match a straight forward call. Candice is eliminated after Maria pulls off her shorts while she’s attempting a tarantula. Torrie Wilson is #3. King is disappointed she didn’t bring her dog. Torrie Wilson had been wrestling for 6 or 7 years at this point and was just as terrible as when she started. She actually does a crappy handspring elbow. Coach says Tajiri taught her that move. Was Tajiri still on the roster at this point? Torrie eliminated after getting distracted, slapping a pervy referee Jack Doane. Victoria is #4. Victoria quickly eliminates Maria. Mae Young makes a surprise appearance at #5. Mae gets an inexplicably huge pop. Victoria’s shirt says “LET’S GET THIS OVER WITH” Amen, sister. King says Mae Young is like the Liberty Bell “Old, heavy, and a little bit cracked”. Shaddup Lawler. Mae Young strips to her skivvies to the faux disgust/laughter of the announcers and eliminates herself. Some good shots of disgusted fans, including one dude who looks like he’s about to cry. Mae & Moolah tear off Victoria’s shirt. Ashley Massaro is our final participant. She quickly pulls off Victoria’s shorts. No idea why they gave this so much time. Early candidate for worst match of 2006, at least. 1/2* Ashley strips down to her skivvies to give the fans what they want. Pre TV PG WWE everyone!
Shelton Benjamin and Momma Benjamin talk to a super embarrassed looking Todd Grisham. Momma Benjamin reveals she had the Benjamin family brick in the purse she hit Viscera with and Shelton has mixed emotions. A family brick?
After the last two crapfests, I’m super ready for this main event. Of course, we get the obligatory video package on the construction of the Elimination Chamber. BAH GAWD! THE ELIMINATION CHAMBER IS LIKE A SEIRES OF HIGH SPEED CAR WRECKS!
Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Title, featuring; John Cena (c), Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, Chris Masters, Carlito, and Kane
Kane enters first but is last entrant in the match after qualifying for the sixth spot by winning a Beat The Clock Challenge, beating The Heartbreakers in 28 seconds. The Heartbreakers were in an Elimination Chamber qualifying match!? I feel like WWE used Chris Masters’ entrance music for something else. Maybe menu music for a Royal Rumble or WrestleMania DVD Anthology. Chris Masters is celebrating his 23rd Birthday on the day of this show. I forgot how young he was. He’s one of the first guys I think of when I think of how NXT could’ve benefitted WWE ten years ago.
John Cena and Shawn Michaels are starting off this match. This match is one of the first obvious examples of Cena backlash. Obviously, he got a lot of hate at ECW One Night Stand but I don’t think anyone wasn’t expecting that. He got mixed reactions but this is the first time where the vast majority of the audience was openly hostile to Cena at a pay per view. Thinking about it more, Cena was booed pretty roundly at SummerSlam 2005 but not this badly. Carlito is #3. Him spitting the apple in fear is a great moment. People hate Cena so much that they give Carlito a huge pop. Kurt Angle comes in as the #4 entrant and takes everyone to OLYMPIC SUPLEX CITY, BITCH! Doesn’t seem very smart for HBK to be taking suplexes onto the steel with his back issues and all but I guess that’s why he’s the GOAT. Daivari is dressed like a ’70s Monday Night Football and jumping around like a maniac and climbing partway up the cage on the outside.
Chris Masters come in at #5 and immediately forms an alliance with Carlito. This was the birth of a tag team that would produce many memorable moments like…uh, unsuccesffully challenging Big Show & Kane for the Tag Titles at WrestleMania 22? Angle’s going nuts. Angle Locks on everyone. He gets an Angle Lock on Cena but then HBK drills him with the Sweet Chin Music and Angle’s first guy eliminated from the match. Geez. Talk about misreading temperature of the room. Angle’s most popular guy in the match so of course, he gets eliminated first. That’s classic post ’02 WWE…
Carlito & Masters dominate until Kane comes in as the final entrant. Kane continuously no selling Masters & Carlito’s offense is kind of funny. Carlito & Masters finally manage to get Kane and down an eliminate him when Masters press slams Carlito onto the Big Red Machine. Kind of odd to see someone get pinned with a non-finisher on a modern WWE PPV. Shawn Michaels gets eliminated with a corkscrew DDT from Carlito. Last three guys in this match are the least popular guys in the match. Awesome.
Carlito is an idiot and low blows Masters while Masters has Cena in the MasterLock and rolls him up. Cena then gets a fluke rollup to win the Elimination Chamber. Anti-climatic ending to a mediocre Elimination Chamber. I watched this when the EC Anthology came out four or five years ago and liked it a lot better the first go around. I guess I must have been in a really good mood because this is not a very good edition of the match. Not the worst but there’s far, far too much of Carlito & Masters’ blandly double teaming everybody and not enough of Angle & HBK being awesome. There’s some moments here but overall, very forgettable edition. ***. Well, forgettable until…
“No Chance in Hell” hits. Vince McMahon says this night is not over! Vince yells them to RAISE THE CAGE! THIS NIGHT IS NOT OVER DAMMIT! We have one more match…this individual is cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to get a WWE Title shot. John Cena defends against Edge!
WWE Title Match: John Cena (c) Vs Edge (with Lita)
Edge beats down a bloodied John Cena. John Cena somehow kicks out of a spear because he’s ena. Edge finally finishes Cena with a second spear. Incomplete for the match but a five star angle. This established Edge as the ultimate opportunist and established the “anything is possible” nature of the Money in the Bank briefcase. Announcers had done a pretty good job of just assuming that it would be cashed in at the next WrestleMania (which actually didn’t happen until last year). Edge gets so caught up in the moment that he kind of forgets he’s a dick heel and jumps up on the announce table to celebrate. Edge has finally become a World Champion.
Jerry Lawler: Behind every successful man… is a slut.
Excuse me while I smash my head against the wall.
A misty Edge celebrates with Lita in the ring to close the show. Joey Styles works in a super forced, half hearted sounding “OH MY GOD!” to close the show.
Great angle to close out an otherwise fairly mediocre pay per view. It got off to a great start with the solid Ric Flair-Edge and Trish Stratus-Mickie James but quickly went downhill with the Gregory Helms-Jerry Lawler, Shelton Benjamin-Viscera, and Bra & Panties Gauntlet Match stretch that might have been the worst three match stretch I’ve watched for this series. Elimination Chamber could’ve been a show saver but was just good enough to avoid being considered one of the worst Elimination Chambers of All Time.
Yet sometimes, one minute can almost redeem an otherwise not that great three hour pay per view. The ending to this pay per view is one of the definitive moments in WWE during this era and set up Edge Vs Cena, which is probably the definitive rivalry of mid ’00s WWE. This was a huge star making moment for Edge and at the end of the day, that’s what people will remember about this show. Probably the only thing. Except maybe the hot, homoerotic shenanigans between Mickie & Trish. WOAH MAMA!!!
Next on Ten Years After: We take another trip to Orlando to witness the return of a wrestling icon, Sting as he makes his in-ring comeback, teaming up with Christian Cage against NWA World Champion Jeff Jarrett & Monty Brown at TNA Wrestling’s Final Resolution. Plus Samoa Joe defends the NWA X Division Title against Christopher Daniels and a dream match as AJ Styles takes on Hirosh Tanahashi!