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12/15 WWE Armageddon PPV: Marshall's "alt perspective" review

Dec 16, 2002 - 3:40:00 PM
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WWE Armageddon "Alt Perspective" review
(with a dash of Sunday Night Heat thrown in for good measure)
December 15, 2002
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. at the Office Depot Center
Aired Live On PPV
By Tony Marshall, Torch Team Contributor.


As anyone who reads my weekly Heat reviews can tell you, I'm somewhat less than enamored of the announce team of Jonathan Coachman and Tyris Flare...I mean, Lita. However, as a pitchman, Coach does an excellent job and tonight was no exception. Lita, too, was in good form and that was a pleasant surprise. They were a very effective team tonight -- understandably excited, but not overly so; their match previews were concise yet insightful. They were both refreshingly professional. And that's a good thing.

Once again (as usual), Heat served as a pre-game-show/commercial for the PPV, and once again (as usual) WWE did an outstanding job putting it together. Their video packages continue to shine, and the short "sound bite"-type interviews they had backstage with Victoria and Brock Lesnar were well done (and on point). Add to that some Tough Enough 3 highlights and the Confidential segment with The Rock on location filming his latest movie, and Heat made for a pretty good "WWE Week In Review" while still ably promoting the PPV.

All this, and they still managed to squeeze in the obligatory pre-PPV Heat match:

(1) Jeff Hardy defeated D-Lo Brown by pinfall. Looks like D-Lo's turning 100% heel. Jeff Hardy's just 100% weird. Everything was moving along fine until they completely blew a sunset flip. That kind of screw-up really should be inexcusable for wrestlers of their caliber. It totally killed the crowd. Later on, Jeff almost killed himself with a missed swanton bomb. He eventually got the win by nailing D-Lo with a flying body press; then, when D-Lo rolled through his pin attempt, Jeff returned the favor by rolling through D-Lo's and grabbing hold of D-Lo's tights as the ref made the count. Not their best effort; not even close.

WWE ARMAGEDDON

Cool opening vignette (if you like nuclear annihilation) with, of all people, Freddie Blassie in the role of Nostradamus. Very weird. Cool, but weird.

(1) Booker T & Goldust defeated Chris Jericho & Christian, The Dudley Boyz, and William Regal & Lance Storm in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match to win the World Tag Team Titles. Whew. That took almost as long to write as the match itself. Excellent opener. Very solid work by all participants. The first few minutes were just smokin' and the crowd was into it. Twin Bionic Elbows by Bubba Ray Dudley and Goldust on Y2J and Christian, and then on Regal and Storm, was fun to watch.

About five minutes into it the Dudleys hit the 3-D on Christian and Bubba Ray went for the cover, but Lance Storm came off the top turnbuckle with a legdrop on Bubba Ray and Regal (actually the legal man after a blind tag on Christian prior to the 3-D) ran in and covered Bubba Ray for the pin. That was a little screwy as it looked like Regal pulled Bubba Ray a bit too far over and had to right himself (with some help from the ref). There was some confusion as to whether the Dudleys had actually been eliminated, but that was cleared up pronto. They were gone. Thirty seconds later, Goldust hit Regal with a powerslam and got the one, two, three. Regal and Storm were gone. That left Booker T & Goldust vs. Jericho & Christian.

The two remaining teams then spent about ten minutes putting on one Hell of a match that had the crowd popping huge for all of the near falls, especially towards the end when Booker T kicked out of Jericho's cover following a Lionsault. Shortly after tat, Y2J went to hit Booker T with one of the belts (after shoving the ref out of the way -- thankfully, no DQ there) and walked right into the Bookend. Booker made the cover and picked up the win for his team. Good performance by Goldust as "The Weakest Link," and Booker T as the partner who never loses faith in him. Great work by Jericho and Christian in a losing cause.

Afterwards, Booker T and Goldust were interviewed by the Coach. It was a great touch; something WWE should do more often. The new Tag Team champs came off very well, with a lot of seemingly heartfelt emotion over their triumph.

Backstage, Josh Matthews caught up with Brock Lesnar. Lesnar asked him who he was and he explained that he was Smackdown's new backstage reporter. Funny how while Nidia and Maven won TE1, Chris Nowinski and Matthews also made it to the big leagues, albeit Matthews (for now) as an announcer. Seems like nobody from TE2's going anywhere at all, not even the winners. Anyway, Brock promised to "make an impact" tonight.

(2) Edge takes a ride on the B&O Railroad; defeated A-Train by DQ. Not a bad match. Better by far than it had any right to be. A-Train got to show off his power and some surprising agility; Edge got a measure of revenge. Not every match can be Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit -- and this certainly wasn't -- but it wasn't boring. The Edgecution off the top turnbuckle was a neat trick, as was A-Train's bicycle kick to counter Edge's flying body press attempt. A-Train survived the Spear; Edge survived the Albert Bomb (which now needs a new train-themed name). A-Train got disqualified for hitting Edge with a chair, after which, Edge proceeded to wear A-Train out with the same chair.

Backstage, Big Show's concerned about Brock Lesnar being in Kurt Angle's corner. He tells Paul Heyman that he wants to talk to Steph about it, but Heyman counsels caution. He tells Show that he, as a businessman, will talk to Steph. All Show has to do is concentrate on Angle. That's nice of him.

(3) Chris Benoit defeated Eddie Guerrerro by submission. This was a Hell of a lot slower-paced than I figured it would be. Not that it wasn't a terrific match -- it was. But there were very few of those lightning-fast move-and-counter exchanges we've come to expect from these two. It was more like rest-hold and counter-rest-hold. For most of the match, it was all Eddie, with Benoit getting an occasional shot in but ever really able to build any momentum. One very nice spot, about four minutes into the match, had Benoit locked in a short-arm scissors by Eddie. In a great show of strength, Benoit lifted Eddie off the mat and slammed him back down to break the hold. Shades of Matt Hughes/Carlos Newton.

Five minutes of excellent brawling followed that -- in and out of the ring -- culminating with Eddie rolling out of an attempted Crossface by Benoit, only to get nailed with five consecutive German suplexes! Then, after an aborted attempt at a flying headbutt, Benoit nailed him with two more! The Rabid Wolverine went for a powerbomb, but Latino Heat rolled through it and hit Benoit with three Germans of his own! Eddie followed this up with a full vertical suplex, then his patented frog splash, but that still wasn't enough to put Benoit away.

In the end, Benoit overcame interference by Chavo and eventually scored big with his flying headbutt; surviving two encounters with the El Paso Lasso along the way; indeed, reversing the second one into a Crossface for the win. Very good match, but...I don't know, it was missing something. A bit of a letdown. No way near a MOTY candidate.

More backstage shenanigans, with Heyman confronting Stephanie about Brock Lesnar's suspension being lifted. "You don't understand me," says Paul E. "I so don't want to understand you," replies Steph. Heyman promises that if Lesnar shows up at ringside, Big Show will break his neck.

The whole shocking, sordid saga of Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie is recapped. When Dawn and Al Wilson go down to the ring, Tazz says of Al, "He's got a soft heart; head to match." Alright, Dawn Marie's going to play the tape! Hold on to your hats! Here comes the infamous TOO HOT FOR UPN footage...

Yeah, okay, they're in the hotel room. Torrie gulps down some champagne. She's nervous. I'd be nervous, too. Dawn feeds her a strawberry. Dawn removes Torrie's jacket, then slowly pulls down her skirt -- so far, so good. Dawn takes her own robe off so they're both wearing just bras and panties -- very nice; getting better. Dawn's the silky seductress and Torrie's pure as the driven snow; all sweet and innocent. Dawn kisses Torrie. Torrie starts to respond! Dawn stops the tape! I spill my coffee. WTF?

Oh, Dawn Marie's just teasing. Here comes the rest of it. BUT WAIT! Al Wilson says NO! NO MORE! HE'S SEEN ENOUGH! That makes one of you, Al. Dawn resists; Al insists. So, to please her "little bobo," Dawn decides not to air any more footage, and they leave the ring, arm in arm; off to their hotel room to make some footage of their own. My little bobo was not pleased at all.

THAT WAS IT? Unfortunately, yes, that was it. Ahhh, what might have been. Alright, alright, I knew they weren't really going to go much further than they did with this, but then, why bother at all? It was just fifteen minutes absolutely wasted. I would've rather watched a good cruiserweight match. Heavy sigh.

Somebody please bring back The Cat, and I don't mean Ernest Miller.

(4) Batista pinned Kane. Well, it wasn't pretty, but it wasn't that bad, even if Batista did screw up an attempted power bomb. I wasn't expecting Tajiri vs. Super Crazy anyway. Kane had Batista pinned following his flying clothesline, but Ric Flair distracted the ref. When Kane went after Flair (who can still bump with the best of them), Batista was able to score a wicked sit-out powerbomb and get the duke.

Backstage, Kurt Angle's looking for Brock Lesnar's dressing room.

John Cena, accompanied by Bull Buchanan -- or B-Squared, or whatever -- comes out and raps for the crowd. Well, it beat having another commercial for Hogan's book. Hey, don't get me wrong; I like rap music as much as the next middle-aged white guy...homey...but I'd much rather watch Cena wrestle.

(5) Victoria defeated Trish Stratus and Jacqueline to retain the WWE Women's Title; pinfall over Jacquleine. Pretty decent effort by all three women. Serious bumps taken. Good power and agility shown by Victoria. Some very stiff kicks by Trish, and especially by Jacqueline who's cat-quick, to boot. I love Trish's Sonya Blade Headscissors. Very entertaining. All three women seemed to be going full-blast. Too bad the crowd was completely dead. Finish came as Trish had Jackie down for the count near the ropes when, from outside the ring, Victoria clocked her with the championship belt and pinned Jackie herself.

Backstage, Kurt Angle's found Brock Lesnar, and he's lobbying hard for Lesnar to be in his corner when Angle faces Big Show.

(6) Kurt Angle pinned The Big Show to win the WWE (Smackdown) Championship. Damn good match. Really. Big Show dominated early, as Angle tried to get the big man off his feet. At one point, Show had angle in a Fireman's carry, and when Angle retaliated with elbow smashes to his head, Show dumped him out of the ring. Unfortunately, he dumped him right on top of Paul Heyman. In a Rocky III moment, Angle crawled around the outside of the ring, and while Show was leaning over the ropes to check on Heyman, Angle flipped the big man over the ropes onto the floor. A few moments later, Angle took a nasty bump when Show returned the favor.

About five minutes into the match, Show caught Angle in a bearhug, and Angle bit him on the nose to break the hold. Then, in another Rocky III moment, Angle jumped onto Shows back and locked in a rear naked choke. I could almost hear Burgess Meredith yelling, "Hold onto him, kid!"

A nice spot (that could have ended in disaster) had Show throwing Angle into the corner, but Angle, showing his tremendous athleticism leaps to the top and somersaults back onto Big Show. It looked like he caught Show with his feet and landed hard on his head but he was okay. He went for a cover but couldn't get the three-count.

About eight minutes in, Angle scored with an Angle Slam. Again, Show kicked out. Angle went for the ankle lock, but Show rolled over, reached up, and grabbed Angle by the throat. Angle avoided a chokeslam by twisting around, rolling Show up, and putting him in another ankle lock. Big Show was able to kick out of it again, this time knocking Angle into the ref, who went down hard. At this point, Paul Heyman returned from the dead and threw a chair into the ring. Unfortunately for him, Angle got to it first and nailed Show with it. It still wasn't enough to pin the big man, and again, when Show throws Angle off, the ref gets clocked.

With the ref down and out, Angle manages to get the ankle lock on Show once more. The big man taps, but of course the ref is not awake to see it. All of a sudden, A-Train charges the ring and attacks Angle; clubbing him on the back, and nailing him with a backbreaker. A-Train quickly heads on down the tracks. Big Show takes forever to recover, but manages to get to his feet and chokeslam Angle.

Suddenly, Brock Lesnar runs in and plants Show with an F-5. Then he takes off after Paul Heyman, who flees up the ramp. Angle recovers (as does the ref) and crawls on top of the Big Show as the ref counts the one, two three. Nobody celebrates victory like my Olympic hero. I was deeply moved, myself.

RVD, LIVE AT THE WORLD! See, he's been a b-a-a-a-d boy.

(7) Triple H defeated Shawn Michaels to win the World Title. Well, it's still all about The Game, but I have to give the Devil his due. Triple H came out with his right thigh very heavily bandaged. If he was hurt, he still worked a Hell of a match. And it was a pretty good match. Ric Flair came out with Triple H, and HBK (in retro-tights) mocked The Nature Boy's strut. When Flair entered the ring to protest, the ref banished him to the back.

STREETFIGHT: Kind of slow-paced and plodding, but still an entertaining spectacle. The usual chairs, garbage cans, and garbage can lids. Early on Triple H concentrated on hurting HBK's lower back, but when he set up a chair in the middle of the ring for a backbreaker attempt, Michaels reversed his attempt and nailed him with a backbreaker of his own. About ten minutes into it, Trips decided to work on HBK's left knee. Against the ring post; with chop blocks; on the bottom rope; Triple H methodically punished HBK's knee. Then, he locked in a figure-four. HBK endured the pain for a couple of minutes before rolling over and breaking the hold.

They brawled up the ramp and Triple H threw Michaels into a metal wall, then got a two-by-four wrapped in barbed wire. He thought about using it on HBK, but decided that that wasn't vicious enough. So, he went over to where there was a line of fire at the top of the ramp and lit the two-by-four on fire. Unfortunately for Triple H, he got hoisted on his own flaming petard. Before he could use the weapon on HBK, Michaels kicked him in the gut, picked up the fallen weapon, and hit Triple H in the head with it, busting him open.

Back in the ring, HBK set up a chair, but Triple H reversed his whip, and gave Michaels a drop-toe-hold, face first onto the chair; following that with a DDT. Triple H went for a Pedigree, but HBK hit him with a low blow. HBK hit the ropes and nailed Triple H with a flying forearm. HBK "nipped up," but Triple H got him with another chop block, and then a Pedigree. Triple H scores the first pinfall.

CAGE MATCH: Not quite your standard cage match, considering the table, chairs, and garbage cans still in the ring. But initially, the action was pretty basic. Somebody gets thrown into the cage wall; somebody gets their head raked across the cage wall. You get the idea. Pretty soon HBK's bleeding, too. An interesting moment had Shawn Michaels take Triple H down using a Lou Thesz press. Hmmm...reminds me of somebody.

Triple H goes to the top of the cage first. Michaels follows and the brawl up there. Meanwhile, Flair's made his return, and at Triple H's signal, starts setting up some tables; two stacked on top of four. HBK knocks Triple H back into the ring and drops an elbow from the top turnbuckle. Flair unlocks the cage door and attacks Michaels with a chair. Triple H tries to crawl through the opened door, but HBK stops him, using the same chair on him and Flair. HBK concentrates on beating up Flair, who bleeds heavily. Triple H comes to and tries to get another Pedigree on Michaels. This time, HBK reverses it into a back-body-drop. Sweet Chin Music takes down Flair and Triple H.

HBK eschews a sure pin and sets up a table near the corner. He puts Triple H on top of it and climbs to the top of the cage. HBK dives down onto Triple H, driving him through the table. He covers him and wins the second fall.

LADDER MATCH: The cage goes up and the championship belt is hoisted up shortly thereafter. HBK brings a ladder into the ring and proceeds to use it against Triple H. He hits him with it, drops it on him, but misses suplexing him onto it. Michaels sets the ladder up in a corner, climbs to the top, and goes for a big splash, but The Game just barely rolls out of the way.

Triple H hits Michaels with another Pedigree, then sets the ladder up underneath the belt and climbs to the top. HBK follows him and succeeds in knocking both of them off. Michaels then Sweet Chin Music's Triple H right out of the ring. He slowly makes his way back up to the top of the ladder, but when he gets there, before he can grab the belt, Triple H returns to the ring and shoves Michaels off the ladder. HBK goes flying out of the ring and crashes through the tables stacked on the floor outside. Triple h climbs the ladder and retrieves the championship belt, winning the third fall, and the World Title. The crowd seems suitably unimpressed.

Wow. What can I say about this one? On the Mike Sempervive Letters-Instead-Of-Numbers Scale, I'd have to give it a B. A solid show, but certainly nothing spectacular. Not the Earth-shattering, epic event I was hoping for; no big surprises. And no Cruiserweight Title Match, either. That just plain SUCKS! No, WWE has time for Al Wilson and Dawn Marie, but no time for Billy Kidman, Chavo Guerrerro, Tajiri, or Shannon Moore. Not to mention The Hurricane. Couldn't we at least have had Ace Reporter Gregory Helms in a lousy two-minute skit?

For me, the highlight of the show - besides the "Burgan Mark" sign - was Kurt Angle's victory and apparent face-turn. Angle, arguably the best in the business in or out of the ring, has shown that he can effectively play a villain or a fool...sometimes, both. Let's see just how well he can handle being a hero. I think he'll do just fine.

Tony Marshall reviews Sunday Night Heat - hey, somebody's got to - and writes WWE PPV alt perspective reviews for PWTorch.com, where, every Friday, "Uncle T Looks At The Carnage" in The Lounge. Send feedback, on rye, with mustard, to tmarshall@pwtorch.com.


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