THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
It’s the final wrestling pay-per-view of the year, with Triple H and Jeff Hardy challenging Edge for the WWE title, and Chris Jericho challenging John Cena for the World title. It’s WWE Armageddon, shown live here in Britain in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on Sky Box Office.
The show opens with ECW Champion Matt Hardy facing the challenge of Vladimir Kozlov. ECW General Manager Teddy Long had earlier ruled that this wouldn’t be a title match, because Kozlov had never competed in ECW before. Given Kozlov’s recent performances, this was a match that looked great on paper, and one that looked good in actuality. Once again Kozlov showed just how much he’s improved over the past few months, as the big Russian and the champion put on a very good wrestling contest, with Kozlov mixing traditional wrestling holds with a few MMA holds as well. In other words, it was nice to see a key lock being used. Of course, Hardy, the great wrestler that he is, also did his bit to make this match what it was, but in the end it wasn’t to be his day. Despite giving Koslov a hell of a battle, he fell to the Russian, who secured the winning pin after taking Hardy out with what was described by the announcers as choke slam/spine buster mixture.
Then it was on to the final of the Intercontinental Championship Tournament, pitting Rey Mysterio against C.M. Punk, with the winner facing champion William Regal, who was seated at ringside in his King of the Ring throne. The battle of the former World Champions proved to be one of the best matches I’ve seen in a WWE ring this year. Punk and Mysterio were perfect for each other, putting on a match that was worthy of a championship match, let alone a number one contenders match. Some great wrestling mixed in with the usual high spots made for an enthralling contest, with plenty of false finishes, with Punk countering Mysterio’s hurricanrana attempt with the GTS to get the win and a title match against Regal. To say that this was a great match would be an understatement.
After Jeff Hardy cuts a promo in a darkened room, and JBL announces that he’s given Shawn Michaels a job, it’s back to the action, the Belfast Brawl as Finlay takes on Mark Henry. As my fellow Brit is in this one you should know who I wanted to win here. Our announcers go to great pains to let us know that this kind of match has it’s origins in the back streets of Belfast. So I’m guessing that the hardcore/extreme rules/anything goes match was originally pioneered in Northern Ireland then. Well, that’s the WWE Universe for you. Anyway, back to the matter at hand. It’s going to pain me to say this, but I actually found a Mark Henry match quite enjoyable. Both guys put on a very good brawl, making good use of the weapons provided, which were mainly kendo sticks, rubbish bins, and the ring steps. Of course, Finlay didn’t use any of those to deliver the final blow, using his trusty shillelagh, given to him by Hornswoggle, his first having been broken in half by Henry earlier in the match. Good stuff here.
Then it’s the battle of the former Evolution team mates, with Batista facing Randy Orton, who has Cody Rhodes and Manu along for company for this one. This was another one of those that looked good on paper. Rhodes and Manu didn’t actually last that long at ringside. After Orton threw the Animal out of the ring, Rhodes and Manu pounced, but did so in full sight of the referee, who had no choice but to throw them out of the arena, and after those two were taken out of the equation, what we got was yet another good match between two former World Champions, with Batista’s power and aggression matched against Orton’s speed and cunning. It may have gone on a little too long for the liking of some people, but for this particular writer it was just right, and after an eternity of great action, the Animal finally got the pin over his old buddy with the Batista bomb. While this won’t go down as a classic, it was certainly a great and very even battle.
Filler material time, with the Santa’s Little Helper Eight Diva tag-team match, with Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Michelle McCool and Maria going up against Victoria, Natalya, Jillian Hall and Maryse, with the Divas dressed for the occasion. As far as women’s matches go, it was okay I suppose, but it certainly wouldn’t compare to anything that TNA is offering at the moment. Michelle McCool got the pin for her team, pinning Jillian after her version of A.J. Styles’ favourite move. We then got a visit from the WWE’s newest heart throb, the Great Khali. Kind of sad to see this monster become nothing more than a comedy character, and it got even worse when Mae Young made an appearance.
Main event time #1, as Chris Jericho challenges John Cena for the World title. Even though these two have feuded with pay-per-view matches before, this feud has been completely different, and that’s down to the fact that this is a totally different Jericho we’re seeing these days. As for Cena, well, he’s the same old Cena. Last month’s match at the Survivor Series was a very good match, which meant that this one had a lot to live up to. Sadly, it didn’t quite do it, although it did prove to be a good match in it’s own right, and this was one of those matches where, as it went along, it made you think that these two really do hate each other. The action was good, with both Cena and Jericho putting in good performances, with Jericho’s performance the stand out here. The end came when Cena reversed the Walls of Jericho and synched in his STFU. Seconds later Jericho was tapping, and Cena had retained his title.
Main event time #2, a triple threat match with Triple H and Jeff Hardy challenging Edge for the WWE title. This one had the makings of a great match, especially with the calibre of wrestlers featured in it. Early on there were a couple of silly little mistakes that detracted from things a little, but as the match went on, things got a hell of a lot better as all three men put on a great contest. The action, after the early mistakes, just went from strength to strength, with great psychology, and everything in the right place. The spot with the tables, where Triple H was about to pedigree Hardy through the Raw announce table, only for Edge to suddenly appear, running past Triple H as he made his move before spearing Hardy through the Smackdown announce table was a thing of beauty. Later, we had the second appearance of the evening of Kozlov, as he attacked Triple H and Hardy, only to be beaten back by Jeff’s big brother Matt. The ending was fantastic. Triple H took Edge down with the pedigree, but as he went for the pin, Hardy came down off the top rope with a swanton, taking both men out before pinning Edge to win his first ever WWE title, ending a tremendous match. You know, given the problems he’s had over the years, I never thought that Jeff Hardy would ever win one of the two major titles in WWE. Now he has, I’m glad he’s done it. I only hope that he doesn’t become a transitional champion. Well done Jeff.
In conclusion – this year’s version of Armageddon had a few dodgy moments, and seeing Mae Young snog a much younger man is never a good thing, but apart from that, this was a very good show, and a good way for WWE to end their pay-per-view year. The two main events were extremely good, but for me the match of the night was Punk v Mysterio. A hell of a match between two wrestlers who really deserve a lot more given their talents.
So now the countdown begins, and the road to Wrestlemania begins next month at the Royal Rumble. Let’s hope things continue to get interesting.