June 26th 2005
-Follow me on Twitter @SamoaRowe.
-From Paradise, NV. Our hosts are Jim Ross, Jonathan Coachman, and Jerry Lawler.
-Before the days of NXT making the main roster sweat with their Takeover specials, there was a time when WWE experimented with a novelty ECW reunion pay-per-view in One Night Stand. That event excited the fan base in an organic way that WWE hadn’t managed to do since the heyday of the Attitude Era. This resulted in the Raw brand stacking the PPV deck with this Vengeance show, held only 2 weeks after One Night Stand. Thanks to the multi-week draft, World Champion Batista and WWE Champion John Cena were both on Raw. They busted out the Hell in a Cell. Finally, they fast-tracked Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels into a rematch of their Wrestlemania 21 insta-classic. Meanwhile, the current top champion on Smackdown is United States Champion Orlando Jordan. Wrestling is funny.
This past week on Raw, Carlito was drafted to the red brand and immediately ended Benjamin’s lengthy IC title reign (and push). Carlito had been given a nice push on Smackdown, but here is where the true Carlito experiment began, as he was positioned as a “future of the business” type character. The match kicks off with a typical hot start for plucky babyface, Shelton, and Carlito tries to take a hike with the title. Shelton hauls the champ back to the ring but Carlito cuts him off by poking the eyes. Shelton rebounds with a springboard top rope lariat. The match shifts to Carlito’s favor and he wears Benjamin down with his create-a-wrestler default move set. The vocal men in the crowd get behind Carlito, booing Shelton for hitting a desperate forearm. Shelton mounts a comeback, and the crowd continues rejecting him. Benjamin rolls on with a springboard bulldog for a near fall. Carlito uncovers a turnbuckle while getting punched in the head, and manages a power slam for 2. Benjamin misses a Stinger Splash right into the exposed turnbuckle and Carlito pins him at 12:45. Totally average match, perfect example of what WWE style looks like, **½.
Carlito © vs. Shelton Benjamin
Winner and still Intercontinental Champion: Carlito
-Triple H, still playing the role of an 80’s championship wrestler heel, arrives with Ric Flair in tow.
-Recap of Victoria snapping and attacking Christy Hemme during yet another insulting divas swimsuit competition. Later, Victoria smashed a vase over Christy’s head. They throw “bitch’ around a lot. 2005 WWE wasn’t known for it’s class.
Victoria vs. Christy Hemme
They kick things off with the ol’ babyface chases heel around the ring and gets caught getting back into the ring spot. Hemme shows some fire and takes the fight to Victoria, fresh off a heel turn. Victoria hangs Christy on the ropes and wears down the former Diva Search winner. Christy is in big trouble and all the announcers do is talk about how hot she is. Hemme blocks Widow’s Peak, and Victoria misses a moonsault. Christy gets booed during her comeback, consisting mostly of snapping the head. DDT by Christy gets a 2 count. Victoria counters a sunset flip into a cover and grabs the ropes to pin Christy at 5:09. Leave it to Victoria to carry Christy to a competent match, *½.
-Todd Grisham interviews WWE Champion John Cena backstage. Cena is putting Smackdown behind him, now that he’s the new kid on Raw. He asks Todd if he was a popular kid in school, to which Todd makes up a story about being popular, before confessing to wetting his pants. This attempt at humor dies a slow death. Cena says school is out and tonight is about business, and vows to take care of Christian and Chris Jericho. Cena’s promo work here is strong, especially for a freshly promoted main eventer.
-Recap of the crazy events leading up to Kane vs. Edge. If you recall, some months ago, Kane forced Lita to have sex with him. Then things got worse, Lita had to marry Kane, because Matt Hardy lost a match. Then their unborn baby was killed off by Gene Snitsky, and suddenly Kane and Lita were a happy couple. That was, until Lita turned heel by helping Edge beat Kane in a #1 contenders match. So now Lita is a HEEL for betraying her rapist captor. And yes, I know that since the angle began, Kane turned face, so the presented situation had changed, but it was a face turn that should not have happened in the first place. None of this would matter in a couple weeks anyways, because Matt Hardy would return for the worked-shoot angle with Edge, due to the real life cheating that went on behind the scenes. This entire thing is a mess and revisiting it makes my brain hurt.
Edge (with Lita) vs. Kane
The match starts off almost exactly like Victoria vs. Hemme, and that’s not a good thing. Kane pummels Edge while fans chant “We want Matt.” Edge saves Lita from Kane, and the crowd chants “She’s a crack whore.” As far as I’m concerned, Edge saved Lita from an abusive situation, and now they have a happy, fulfilling relationship together, they’re only heels because of the weird, backwards logic of WWE creative. Lita pulls Edge off Kane’s shoulders, allowing him to nail a spear to take control of the match. The match lumbers on with a bunch of punching and kicking. Kane starts no-selling and makes a comeback. Side slam by Kane leads to a flying clothesline, but Edge counters with a mid-air drop-kick. Kane blocks a spear with a big boot, but Gene Snitsky runs in to prevent a choke slam. Kane knocks Snitsky down, but Lita enters with a chair, and tries to use her seductive charms. Kane grabs her by the throat and shoves her to the mat. Kane wraps the chair around Lita’s neck and now this is going too far. Snitsky saves Lita with a big boot, and Edge gets a near fall from the deal. Lita distracts the referee while Snisky interferes, and Edge hit’s a spear. Kane survives and finishes Edge with a choke slam at 11:10. I was going to give this match’s stupidity a pass until Kane tried to break Lita’s neck. The ring work was fine, but this represented everything embarrassing and sleazy about WWE’s low rent style that had survived the Attitude Era, minus the chaotic genius, *.
-Todd Grisham interviews Shawn Michaels backstage about Kurt Angle guaranteeing victory. HBK says that’s fine, as he wants Angle to be confident going into this match. Shawn isn’t sure if he can follow the match at Wrestlemania 21, but can guarantee that Vengeance will be his. Short and sweet.
Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels
A jump to Raw has erased Angle’s recent history as an attempted rapist and he’s now portrayed as the Olympic Gold hero yet again, only interested in topping his Wrestlemania performance with HBK. They pace themselves for a long match with a careful feeling out period. The pace quickens when they counter submission finishers and HBK clotheslines Angle to ringside. Michaels starts throwing chops, prompting Angle to nail a GERMAN SUPLEX ONTO THE ANNOUNCE TABLE! Shawn sells his ass off while Kurt beats him down for a good while. Kurt prevents Shawn’s comeback and powerbombs him into the turnbuckles! Shawn shows signs of life, but keeps getting caught in nasty suplexes. Michaels gets caught in a long chinlock but powers out with a back suplex. They exchange punches until Shawn nails a desperate forearm that leaves them both down. Shawn kips up and blows the roof off the arena with a comeback. Shawn tunes up the band, but Kurt cuts off SCM with a hard lariat. Michaels counters the Angle Slam with a tornado DDT. Kurt rebounds with a German suplex and Angle Slam for a convincing near fall. Kurt tenaciously goes for the ankle lock, but HBK thrusts him into the referee. Shawn gets back dropped over the ropes and appears to injure his knee. Angle hauls Michaels back in for an ankle lock and the referee is awake (not sure why they had a ref bump, since no cheating took place). Shawn is trapped in the hold for an eternity but manages to thrust Kurt into the ring post. SCM out of nowhere, but a slow cover only gets 2. Kurt crawls to the top rope but flies into another SCM. That’s enough for Michaels to gain the pinfall at 26:06. This is something of a forgotten classic, and a worthy sequel to their Wrestlemania match, that just flies by, ****½.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
-Jonathan Coachman interviews World Heavyweight Champion Batista backstage, and Coach doesn’t think Batista’s chances of leaving Vegas with the title are high and suggests the champ is scared spit-less. Batista calls Coach an ass-kissing suck-up and says Triple H will have to kill him to get the title back. Triple H wanders in to say that no one beats him in Hell in a Cell and initiates a pull-apart brawl. Good stuff.
-Lillian Garcia is introduced to the live audience as a Raw diva. There’s a couch set up in the ring, so we’re having some sort of random talk-show segment. Garcia introduces the 500 pound love machine incarnation of Viscera to the ring, as she’s currently smitten with him. Lillian tells Big Vis that even though he scared her at first, he’s made her feel things she’s never felt before, and puts him over as loving and sexy. She sits him on the couch for a serenade, because this wasn’t awkward enough. Viscera’s smug facial expressions nearly save this disaster of a segment. Garcia finishes singing, gets down on one knee, and PROPOSES to Big Vis. He hems and haws over his decision when they’re interrupted by The Godfather, accompanied by a Ho Train. Godfather cuts a promo, and it seems he just can’t stand by and watch a perfectly good pimp in training contemplate marriage. There’s a “Pick the Hos” chant as Viscera checks out the ladies. Viscera dumps Lillian in favor of boarding the Ho Train, and I’m not sure if we’re supposed to like him for this. Lillian cries while Viscera and Godfather dance with the hos for, um, a feel good moment? This was an embarrassing, icky, waste of pay-per-view time.
A 3-way standoff leads to Jericho slapping Cena to spark a brawl, and Christian picking up the scraps. Jericho and Christian work together briefly, but their friendship ended a long time ago and they take shots at each other. Tomko gets caught interfering and is tossed out. Christian’s whole game plan goes out the window and Cena F-U’s him over the ropes! Cena turns around into a flying elbow from Jericho for an early near fall. Cena and Jericho fill time with a mini-match while Christian takes a breather. Cena reverses a suplex into a DDT onto the WWE title belt at ringside. It’s Jericho’s turn for a break as Christian wakes up and takes control. Cena makes his patented comeback, but Jericho drives him into the steps. Christian wipes out the ref and Jericho with a baseball slide drop-kick. Cena returns to deliver the Tower of Doom! That was a fresh spot in the 2005 WWE landscape and the fans are really impressed. Cena rallies against both challengers, using a drop toe hold to send Christian onto Jericho for a double Five Knuckle Shuffle. They sprint through rapid fire pinning predicaments until everyone is down. Christian reverses the F-U with an Unprettier, but Cena kicks out! Tomko sneaks back to clothesline Cena, and Christian gets a second convincing near fall. Cena tosses Christian but gets caught in the Walls of Jericho! Chris lets go to drop-kick Christian off the apron and reapplies the hold. Christian breaks it with a roll-up, but Cena swings him into Jericho in the F-U position and plants him for the win at 15:15. Excellent triple threat formula match, with logical reasons for participants to sell at ringside, and a great third-gear sequence for a satisfying crescendo, ****.
John Cena © vs. Christian (with Tyson Tomko) vs. Chris Jericho
Winner and still WWE Champion: John Cena
World Heavyweight Championship (Hell in a Cell):
Triple H is eager for the match to begin, but Batista gets the better of him early on. Triple H absorbs the steel wall, but manages to drive Batista shoulder-first into the ring post. The injury allows Triple H to take control and he pulls a chain out of a toolbox to inflict extra damage. Batista gets hung with the chain, making for a violent visual they would never use in the post-Benoit era. Batista frees himself and returns the favor, whipping HHH with the chain. Batista repeatedly bats HHH spine-first into the wall and ring post. Triple H starts bleeding from the forehead but can still counter into a spinebuster. Triple H must have really been spooked by the ECW pay-per-view, because next he uses a chair wrapped in barbed wire. Batista takes the chair away and clocks HHH in the face. The chair remains a focal point of the brawl, with HHH suffering a spinebuster onto it. Batista turns to wrap his fist in the chain and gets DDTed onto the chair (and finds an excuse to blade). Triple H fetches the sledgehammer but doesn’t get to use it as Batista fights back. HHH blocks the Batista Bomb and drives the hammer into Batista’s forehead for a homicide, er, near fall. Triple H hoists the hammer for a kill shot but Batista saves himself with a low blow. Batista charges with the sledgehammer but runs into a fistful of chain. Triple H leaps off the second rope into a hammer to the throat and he takes a Flair-style stumble bump. Batista clocks The Game with the ring steps before setting them up in the turnbuckles for more head smashing. HHH eats an Irish whip into the steps and uses a low blow to set up the Pedigree! Batista kicks out! Batista counters a second Pedigree with a spinebuster onto the steps! Triple H fails to use the sledgehammer to block a Batista Bomb and gets finished off at 26:48! This was a WAR that nicely capped off a rivalry that had been building since January. A career highlight for both men, ****¼.
Batista © vs. Triple H
Winner and still World Heavyweight Champion: Batista
-Batista stands tall to end the show. This is the end of an era for Monday Night Raw, as Batista would be drafted to Smackdown and Triple H would not be seen again until the fall.
Final Thoughts: 50% of the matches were **** or higher. One of the greatest WWE pay-per-views of all time, even if there’s some dreadful nonsense hidden in between. Thumbs Up.
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