Man, time flies. It really seems like yesterday that we were all hoping for Eddie Guerrero, Undertaker, or Booker T to end JBL’s title reign at last year’s Armageddon, and here we are with Armageddon 2005. So much has changed in a year since then and if you don’t believe me, just take a look at that match right there. Eddie Guerrero is not with us anymore except in our hearts, Booker T is back in the mid-card fighting over a vacant title as a heel, JBL has been busted down to teach Matt Hardy a lesson in a match signed little under 48 hours ago, and Undertaker is in the main event though this time in a place no one wants him to be. Well, maybe that last thing is the same as always, but no doubt that so much has changed. This PPV for WWE represents a lot of things. It represents WWE’s ability to push a PPV without the World Championship being defended. Last time this happened was back at Backlash 2003 which had a pretty low buy-rate. This PPV also represents WWE’s ability to scramble together a PPV when most of its well-laid plans went completely up in flames little under a month ago with Batista & Ken Kennedy being injured and Eddie Guerrero passing away. Finally, this PPV represents the desire for WWE to get over feuds and wrestlers such as Lashley and the continued feud of Orton and Taker. It’s do or die time for WWE right now and tonight’s PPV just might be the indication as to how WWE 2006 plays out and if there will be a WWE 2007 at all. I really have no idea what to expect from such a weird card, but do know that like Turning Point for TNA last week, this will be a true test to WWE which many expect it to fail.
Lashley Vs. British Lords
As much as I’d like to see Regal & Burchill in the tag title picture, I think I’ve made peace with the fact that they aren’t getting there. Though this is a squash, I guess I should still be happy because without it, we wouldn’t be seeing Regal at all on this PPV. Regal and Burchill should do a good job of making Lashley look better as many believed that Regal’s match with Lashley made Lashley look the best he has since debuting in WWE. I disagree as the match was just full of botched holds, but I’m just one person. Anyway, I think this match will do well for Lashley’s character but in the long run, I see it not mattering. I’ve given up on hoping for WWE to build up people slowly as they completely killed that trend with Chris Masters earlier this year by ending a nice, steady building streak for him with his match with Shawn Michaels. Without doubt, Lashley will get a shot at the title next year, probably sometime after Wrestlemania, which he will lose. He’ll then drift in out of the title picture before being shoved back down and ultimately being released, but I’m just being pessimistic. This match should be without a doubt, Lashley’s best and if WWE is smart, they will realize Lashley is not even a year away from being ready. The point is that WWE is not always smart though, and it will probably show in the future with this character.
Predicted Winner: Lashley
Mexicools Vs. MNM
Considering I don’t like Super Crazy or Psicosis very much, I have a feeling this match will be better than expected. It’s sad they took the tag titles off of MNM because this could be the time and place to start pushing the Mexicools hard and bringing back in the Hispanic audience that was lost when the Mysterio-Guerrero feud ended. I think if MNM stays psychological in this match, the Mexicools will supply the high spots to boot and probably make for an interesting bout. Hopefully this match will be something of an unofficial number one contender’s match, but I honestly doubt it is as Batista will probably carry the belt until he is 100%. Mexicools will definitely be getting this win to start their push and like I said, it should be a pretty good match. The only question is where does MNM go from here?
Predicted Winners: Mexicools
John Bradshaw Layfield Vs. Matt Hardy
This one is kind of weird considering last year, like I mentioned, JBL was in the main event coming out strong and now, he’s in a match thrown together little under 48 hours ago. I think the match will be a fun brawl, but not much else. It will probably get two to three more minutes than it really needs and as such will probably drag in the opening, but I’m still optimistic it will turn out good. JBL and Hardy both have similar styles so I think they will mesh together so I guess the real thing that will make or break this match is the confidence it gets from management. If it is just a squash to punish Hardy for his mishap at Survivor Series, of course it won’t be that good, but if this is a test for Hardy to see if he can rise to the occasion if needed, I think we could be hours away from a very good PPV match. JBL will obviously win this one because he needs it more than Hardy to stay alive as his gimmick is already faltering, but it will be good to see just how Hardy loses and just how he looks after the match is over.
Predicted Winner: John Bradshaw Layfield
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Juventud (c) Vs. Kid Kash
What an odd match to have on the PPV considering Kid Kash just made his SD debut two weeks ago challenging Juvi to this match. I’m not complaining as I love Kid Kash, but just kind of weird. I think this match will be good no matter how much time it’s given, though it will probably be five to seven minutes. Kid Kash probably perfected the art of on-the-fly matches in TNA where had would have a five minute match one week and a thirty minute match the next so I’m not too worried about that and Juvi proved at No Mercy that he can work a small amount of time and still make it fun and meaningful. As far as the winner going, I really don’t see WWE taking the strap of Juvi so soon especially with the Mexicools push coming up, but then again, no one really saw Funaki coming to take the belt last year so we could be thrown another curveball here. If I were a betting man, I’d probably put my money on Juventud, but as they say, nothing is certain in pro wrestling.
Predicted Winner: Juventud
WWE United States Championship
Best Of Seven Series: Match Four
Booker T Vs. Chris Benoit
Contrary to popular belief, I haven’t been enjoying this series too much. Their second match was definitely great, but the first and third ones were both lackluster to say the least. I have a strong feeling that this one will be the same and as long as they keep going with the Booker in control formula, they are all going to be like that. They really just need to reverse the roles in this match and have Benoit be on the offensive most of the match and in control of Booker T but never able to get Booker pinned. I don’t think anyone is doubting that Benoit will win this one, but it will be interested to see how as he could pick up a win via DQ which would be idiotic as it would kill Benoit’s character more, but WWE has done a lot of dumb moves lately. Don’t forget, we’ve got Chris Masters in the main event at New Year’s Revolution.
Predicted Winner: Chris Benoit
WWE Tag Team Champions Vs. WWE World Tag Team Champions
Batista & Rey Mysterio Vs. Giants Of Wrestling
I am really enjoying the tag team of Kane and Big Show as of late. Big Show’s surly giant gimmick is reminding me so much of pre-WWF Andre The Giant and it’s just making for some good moments and fun matches here and there. With that said though, I’m not too sure this match will deliver and I don’t know why. Rey Mysterio is a definite one to count on in this match as he will most likely carry the brunt of the work and drive the point home, but the other three? Kane is obviously the one lacking in the tag team with Show and as far as Batista goes, the guy is injured so I really don’t expect much besides a hot tag from him. It all really comes down to Big Show and how he works tonight. After Monday night, I’m totally split as his effort was disappointing to say the least against Shawn Michaels. If Big Show has a fire lit under his ass like he has these past few weeks, I can see this being a damn fine tag team match. Without Show’s workrate though, this match will definitely suffer. Quick side note: does anyone know if this is a unification match? I’ve seemed to miss that question in the midst of the bitching over Rey and Batista winning the titles. In the end, I suspect WWE has bigger plans for Show and Kane than they do Batista and Rey so I’m going to assume the Raw tweeners will pick up the win and finally get one for their brand.
Predicted Winners: Giants Of Wrestling
Hell In A Cell
Randy Orton Vs. Undertaker
Ah, yes. Orton versus Taker. What a tale. The build-up for this has been, to be blunt, horrendous. The third-rate horror script they seemed to find in the trash for this feud has done nothing except kill some interest much like the addition of Dominic in the Guerrero-Mysterio feud earlier this year. Despite all the crappy build-up and twist this storyline has taken, the match will definitely turn out to be great, much like their past matches year. Then you add in the fact that Undertaker always steps up his game in the cell and Orton gave an once-in-a-lifetime performance last time he was in this situation, I think we have a definite contender for match of the year on our hands. The big question that will arise out of this will be: who to put over? Orton has gotten the better of Taker on every occasion except at Wrestlemania, so wouldn’t it be logical to put Taker over? Well, maybe, except for the fact that WWE has plans to push Orton through the Rumble and to Wrestlemania against Batista. Without a doubt, a loss tonight would make Orton look weak going into the Rumble while a win could make him look to be the odds-on favorite, but with the weak look, WWE could be going for a sneak win or something to that nature. Also, the question of the bump definitely comes into play as we really have not seen a big bump in the cell since May of 2002. While the matches have picked up in quality because of that, it could be about time to pull out another big bump just for surprise and to cap off the feud. Then again, Taker could go for another match like with Lesnar where the bloodbath made up for the lack of bumps. In the end, a lot of questions are left unanswered about this match, but not to the quality of the match. This is definitely one to watch, folks.
Predicted Winner: Randy Orton
Seven matches with two championship matches and the first gimmick match for SmackDown! since 2002. While I talked about hit and miss for WWE, it really seems like this is hit and miss for the SD brand at this point. If SD can make it with the cell instead of a title match, I think it safely tells McMahon that SD still has a use to them. In the end, Armageddon will definitely be a PPV to watch no matter what happens because like last year’s PPV, this is the last chance for WWE to amend mistakes of 2005 and their first chance for optimism to reign in 2006.