Buffalo, New York
December 14, 2008
results thanks to pwtorch.com
-A video package opened the show.
1 -- VLADIMIR KOZLOV vs. MATT HARDY
Todd Grisham and Matt Striker introduced the show as Hardy made his ring intro. They touted the undefeated streak of Kozlov, but said he hadn't earned an ECW Title shot, so this was non-title. Striker explained that Teddy Long wouldn't give him a title shot because he jumped the railing from Smackdown to ECW and didn't go through proper channels and hadn't even had an official match in ECW before. Kozlov overpowered Hardy early with Sambo-style offense. Striker explained the history of Sambo. He took Hardy to the mat and held him there for a couple minutes with keylocks and armbars. Striker said Armageddon was being watched in 80 countries worldwide. It's probably more like every country that has Internet access. Hardy made a comeback by slamming Kozlov into the ringpost at ringside. Back in the ring he hit a Side Effect for the usual two count that happens after all Side Effects. Kozlov came back by dropping Hardy face-first over the ringpost. He followed with the battering ram and his finishing slam for the win.
WINNER: Kozlov in 8:00.
STAR RATING: *1/2 -- The long arm-work by Kozlov mid-mach was bit of a drag, but the rest was decent.
-Edge backstage gloated to Vickie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero about Hardy "getting demolished" by a Russian. Edge said he had to leave to prepare for his match. Chavo then asked Vickie how she and Edge beat up Jeff Hardy in the hotel stairwell. She said she's told him many times they didn't do it. She told him to shut up and go get her her coffee with two sugars. She changed her orders to two Splendas because she's trying to watch her figure. Chavo told her if she and Edge had something to do with it, he wouldn't tell a soul. YOU'RE ON CAMERA, IDIOT. CAMERAS ARE NOT INVISIBLE IN WWE. KNOW HOW I KNOW? BECAUSE TAZZ AND JIM ROSS ARE NOW LOOKING AT ONE. CONSISTENT NARRATIVE POINTS OF VIEW ON TV, STAGE, AND MOVIE PRODUCTIONS ARE BASIC STORYTELLING DEVICES THAT WWE NEEDS TO LEARN ABOUT. WWE IS LITERALLY THE ONLY ENTITY THAT DOES NOT GET THIS NO. 1 BASIC RULE IN ALL OF BIG BUDGET ENTERTAINMENT. IT'S SLOPPY AND UNPROFESSIONAL, JUST LIKE TYPING IN ALL CAPS.
-Jim Ross and Tazz plugged text voting asking fans to choose who they think attacked Hardy. Edge, Triple H, Vladimir, or other. I pick Matt Hardy.
-Backstage Hornswoggle was really rambunctious backstage. Finlay apologized to Eve for his behavior. He told Hornswoggle that he needs to him stay backstage tonight because he doesn't want him getting hurt.
2 -- REY MYSTERIO vs. C.M. PUNK -- IC Title No. 1 Contender match
Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler took over on commentary. Cole noted that Punk & Kofi Kingston lost the tag team titles in Ontario last night, losing to Miz & John Morrison. They showed still photos from the match. Good to see WWE doing a rare major title change at a house show. That makes all title matches at house shows going forward seem more significant and exciting for fans who want to be part of history, but previously assumed they wouldn't be unless cameras were present. Lawler said he was looking forward to this match all week because so much of Armageddon is about good vs. evil, but this match is between two good guys. They shook hands at the start of the match. Cole noted several times this was their first ever one-on-one match. William Regal and Layla watched from ringside. Lots of back and forth action. Nice. Not knock your socks off great, but really solid, athletic action. From 4:00 to 7:00 mostly matwork, first with Punk on top with a headlock and then Rey reversing momentum. Rey then hit a flying vertical bodyblock at ringside at 9:00 followed by a springboard split-legged press for a two count. He followed with a victory roll for a two count. Punk rolled through for a two count of his own. They built to nice dramatic believable near falls late. Rey hit a 619 at 12:00 for a very near fall. Punk reversed Rey in mid-headscissors a minute later and turned it into a Go To Sleep for the win. A loud "C.M. Punk" chant broke out just before the pin. There had been a "Cena sucks" chant earlier.
WINNER: Punk in 12:00.
STAR RATING: ***
-A Jeff Hardy promo aired with his face barely showing up with just green light. He said for the past year people have been asking him over and over if he'll change. He said he keeps asking himself: "Jeff, are you willing to change? People have tried to change me their entire life, and when they failed, I still come across as a failure." He said it's easy to assume he'll make a mistake again. He said there might be something human in him that might freak us out. He said he's broken down his own walls and tonight is a new chapter in the career of Jeff Hardy. He said: "Tonight I will answer all of the questions: Does Jeff Hardy have what it takes? Is Jeff Hardy willing to change? I am who I am, Jeff Hardy, WWE Champion."
-Lawler and Cole threw to a video package on JBL and Shawn Michaels. Then JBL made his ring intro. Cole said MIchaels has been silent through all of JBL's recent accusations.
-JBL said he wanted to introduce his newest employee. Shawn Michaels walked out with a slight smile on his face. He entered the ring as fans chanted, "HBK, HBK." He said the economy has hit everyone hard and he's not immune to it. "I'm in a very tough spot right now," he said. He's heard all the whispers of people assuming he was rich. "Believe me, I wish that was the case," he said. He explained that he lived the high-life when he was in his 20s and bought everything he wanted and gave handouts to every high school buddy who asked. He said in his 30s his injuries stacked up. He said he paid for all of his surgeries because he didn't want to become beholden to any man or company. Then ten years ago he met his wife and they had two beautiful children. He said he did what he thought was the grown up thing to do. He said he invested his money in the stock market. He said things went well for a while. He said he gave to his church and charities. "I had, they didn't, so I gave," he said. "But then the roof caved in."
He said this wouldn't have been a big deal 20 years ago, but now he doesn't know how much time he has left. Because he has a wife, children, and other family to take care of, he's taken JBL up on his offer. He said he doesn't like JBL and finds him reprehensible, but he's very good financially and that's what he needs right now. "I will put my children through college; I will not let my brothers and sisters lose their homes, and more importantly, I am not going to become one of those guys - you think we don't hear about it, but we do - we hear you saying it: Did you hear about HBK, he's bagging groceries at a grocery store. Did you hear about HBK, I saw him limping into a high school gym. I will not become a wrestling tragedy. I will not let that happen." He said if fans booing him or being called a sellout is the price he has to pay, then he'll pay it. Some fans chanted "You sold out! You sold out!" Michaels said, "This isn't something I want to do; this is something I have to do."
JBL, who watched and listened in the background, extended his hand. Michaels shook it. The crowd booed. JBL left first. Then Michaels walked to the back to a mostly silent arena with a few cheers and a few catcalls. Excellent delivery by Michaels. I doubt he minded taking a dig at Hulk Hogan being at the high school show last weekend, but it's really sad when a wrestler does a favor for a colleague - not because he needs the money, but because he wants to be part of being on a show with friends of his including Flair's son debuting in the ring with his brother - and have it turn into a Vince McMahon parade of obsessive cheapshots. Not that Michaels would mind taking a cheapshot at Hogan, but it's a dig that also applies to Flair (assuming he was limping on his way into the gym like Hogan certainly was), and Michaels doesn't want to be in the business of doing that when there are other ways to make the same point. The grocery example is also a clear reference to "The Wrestler" since Mickie Rourke's character works at a grocery store as an ex-wrestler early in the movie. Playing off of the movie is smart, and positioning Michaels as a real-life Mickie Rourke is an interesting marketing approach to take. And not unwise. I assume this angle is one of the "surprises" Jim Ross hinted at in his blog a couple days ago.
-Eve interviewed Cody Rhodes, Manu, and Randy Orton backstage. Cody said Orton was the crown jewel of Evolution. He said Batista doesn't have the pedigree of being a second or third generation wrestler. Manu said tonight Orton will expose Batista for the fraud that he is and cement his legacy. Orton didn't say anything.
3 -- MATT HENRY (w/Tony Atlas) vs. FINLAY
Grisham actually called Henry's intro music "dark and ominous." It turned into a brawl early, with Finlay instigating and then Henry taking over shortly thereafter. Trash cans and kendo sticks filled the ring by 2:00. Atlas hit Finlay from behind with a trash can lid. Finlay retaliated and knocked Atlas down, but that gave Henry an opening. At 6:00 Finlay grabbed his shillelagh, but Henry kicked Finlay in the face before he could use it, then broke it in half. Henry no-sold a kendo stick shot, then broke it over his knee. Striker said: "There are wild bears in the forests of China that cannot do that. There are panda bears that cannot break bamboo and Henry just did. Hornswoggle began to climb to the top rope. Henry threw Finlay into the corner, knocking Hornswoggle to the ground. He rolled under the ring. Atlas went looking for him as Henry squished a trash can against Finlay in the corner, flattening it, then bashing Finlay across the back after he fell to the mat. Henry lifted the ring steps, but Finlay dropkicked Henry's knee. Hornswoggle threw Henry a shillelagh and Finlay quickly KO'd Henry with it for the win. Striker said Henry said the only way Finlay could beat him was if he used his shillelagh.
WINNER: Finlay in 9:00.
STAR RATING: *1/4
-A commercial aired for the "Tribute to the Troops" on NBC on Saturday at 9 p.m.
-Backstage WWE Divas decorated a Christmas tree. Santa Haas walked in and asked if the Divas were naughty or nice. He said he brought them all presents. Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix walked in and said all of them tied for last place in Diva of the Year competition because his girlfriend, Beth Phoenix, won. When Santino said "we won," she shoved him and said, "I won." Boogeyman popped out of the gift box. Santino screamed like a little girl and tried to run, but when he opened the door, Goldust was standing there singing. Santino ran again. Boogeyman handed Goldust a gift. Everyone sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Festus, Jesse, I.R.S., and a couple referees joined in.
-They threw to Kennedy who looked shocked by what he just watched. he then implored WWE fans to drink responsibly and "don't do drugs." He then plugged his DVD being released on January 26th. He repeated "26th" so we were sure not to forget. Or was it the "16th"? Or the "6th." He closed by repeating his name loudly as his signature style.
-Cole and Lawler fake laughed at what they had just seen, then set the stage for Orton vs. Batista. They threw to a video package on the history between Orton and Batista, including footage of Evolution.
4 -- BATISTA vs. RANDY ORTON (w/Cody Rhodes, Manu)
Orton knocked Batista to the floor at 2:00. Cody and Manu took cheapshots at them. The ref ordered both to the back. Orton stalked Batista at ringside and threw him back into the ring, then shouder-first into the ringpost. Orton worked over Batista's arm and shoulder off and on for several minutes. Batista sidestepped a charging Orton at 7:00 and tossed him to the floor. Orton clutched his shoulder afterward. Orton caught Batista on his way back into the ring and DDT'd him with Batista's legs draped over the second rope, leading to a two count. Orton dominated from there for a while. Orton settled into his obligatory mid-match chinlock. Cole talked about the influence Flair and Triple H had on both Batista and Orton. Lawler said, "What Randy Orton is doing right now is methodical." Cole added, "Effective strategy from the gifted Randy Orton." Orton avoided a Batista clothesline and applied a sleeper. Batista backdropped out of it a minute later. Batista fought back and climbed to the top rope. Orton knocked Batista off balance and hit a superplex. Batista came back with a spinebuster. Orton blocked a Batista bomb and went for an RKO. Batista avoided that and slammed Orton for a near fall. Orton caught a charging Batista with a kick to the chest. Not particularly well timed. Orton gave Batista a back/neckbreaked for a two count. Orton got set up for the RKO as he waited for Batista to stand. "Vindictiveness pouring from the eyes of Randy Orton," said Cole. Batista avoided an RKO and then one-arm slammed him for a very near fall. At 15:00 Orton set up the running punt kick. Batista grabbed Orton and threw him into the corner where he mounted him and threw a barrage of punches. Orton powered out of the corner and dropped Batista feet-first to the mat. Batista turned it into a Batista Bomb and scored the pin.
WINNER: Batista in 16:00.
STAR RATING: **3/4 -- At times this was three-stars plus in gameplan, but it had some typical Batista clunky and ill-timed spots. The long matwork wasn't quite as good as it was long, either. But still, all of that said, it had enough of a big match feel and was long enough to be a good contribution to the card.
-A recap video aired of the Slammys.
5 -- MARIA & MICKIE JAMES & MICHELLE MCCOOL & KELLY KELLY vs. NATALYA & MARYSE & VICTORIA & JILLIAN HALL
All six announcers were assigned to this match and the banter was what you'd expect in a Divas match. The babyfaces wore red Santa outfits. The heels wore green Santa outfits. Striker said Kelly Kelly is "a hot Hebrew." Tazz called that the most uncomfortable line of the night. Three minutes in, eight-way action broke out. Ross riffed on the "things are breaking down in Tulsa" line with Buffalo inserted instead. McCool finished Jillian with a Styles Clash.
WINNERS: Maria & Mickie & Michelle & Kelly in 5:00.
-Afterward, The Great Khali and Ranjin Singh came out for the Khali Kiss Cam. McCool bailed out and refused to partake. Singh told him not to worry because what's better than kissing one diva is kissing three divas. Mickie, Maria, and Kelly smiled and seemed game. Singh said he sensed apprehension, but he had a back-up plan. He said this woman had been Santa's little helper for a long, long time. Out came Mae Young as the announcers obnoxiously fake-laughed uproariously just like the Fox NFL studio team. Young said, "This is the greatest highspot of my life." She leaped into Khali's arms and they made out. More uproarious laughter. Lawler said, "No tongue. No tongue!" Ross said, "Mae's been in the egg nog again."
6 -- JOHN CENA vs. CHRIS JERICHO
After a video package aired recapping their feud, Jericho came out to a mix of cheers and boos. They had a staredown before the match. There were some "Cena sucks" chants, but it didn't come across as an overly negative crowd toward Cena. Lawler said Jericho was banking on Cena's neck not being 100 percent last time they wrestled. Cena went on offense and took it to ringside briefly early. Jericho caught Cena on the way back in with a kick and took over. Jericho applied a sleeper at 3:00. A "Cena sucks" chant competed with another chant. Jericho applied a sleeper. Cena escaped and went for an early FU. Jericho escaped and turned it into an instant DDT. Jericho dove at Cena on the ring apron, but Cena caught him. Jericho slipped out and then leaped with Cena off the apron and he shoved him into the ringside steps. Cena avoided a Jericho charge at 8:00, then hit a shoulder tackle and a side slam. The crowd cheered and booed as Cena set up his "You can't see me" routine. When he set up an FU, Jericho slipped out of it into a pin attempt. He went for a Walls of Jericho, but Cena powered out and then belly-to-belly suplexed Jericho to the mat for a two count at 9:00. Jericho ate two clotheslines and a kick to the gut, but blocked a bulldog and then overshot on a Lionsault. Cena kicked out at two. Cena came back with a legdrop to the back of Jericho's neck off the top rope for a two count. Jericho avoided an FU and hit the Code Breaker for a believable near fall. Jericho freaked out and got in the face of the ref. Cena hit an FU. Both were slow to get up. Jericho surprised Cena with a small package for a near fall. Cena returned with an STFU attempt. Jericho blocked it and applied the Walls of Jericho at 14:00. Cena crawled toward the ropes, but then powered out and locked on his STFU. Jericho quickly tapped out.
WINNER: Cena in 15:00 to retain the WWE World Title.
STAR RATING: ***1/4 -- Good match. What you'd expect from these two both in performance and chemistry and in terms of the finish at this point in the feud.
-Ross and Tazz revealed the results of the text voting, with 65 percent believing Edge was responsible for the hotel attack of Hardy. Triple H got 7 percent, Kozlov 5 percent, and other got 23 percent. Christian Cage is a good guess, too, for who will be revealed as the culprit - if he signs with WWE again.
7 -- EDGE vs. TRIPLE H vs. JEFF HARDY -- World Hvt. Title match
Hardy went after Edge right away. When he went for a cover at 1:00 after launching off of Triple H's back into Edge in the corner, Triple H broke it up. Hardy leaped over the ropes onto Edge on the floor at 2:00. Triple H nailed Hardy with a clothesline. Triple H and Edge battled in the ring for a while. Hardy re-entered the ring at 4:00 and broke up a Pedigree attempt by Triple H. Hardy hit Triple H with a Whisper in the Wind as Triple H went for another Pedigree on Edge. At 6:00 Edge went for a back suplex of Hardy of the top rope. Triple H lifted Edge into the Electric Chair position and Hardy flipped backward at Edge, knocking him hard off of Hunter's shoulders. Hardy made the cover, but Triple H broke up the count. Triple H set up a Pedigree on Hardy. Hardy escaped and catapulted Triple H into the top turnbuckle. He then swing kicked Triple H in the chest in the corner. Edge slammed Hardy backward onto the mat. Edge went for a spear on Hardy. Hardy leapfrogged and Edge speared Triple H instead. Hardy sent Edge to the floor, then played to the crowd for cheers as he set up and then executed a Twist of Fate on Triple H. He climbed to the top rope and hit the Swanton on Triple H. Ross and Tazz declared that we had a new champion before the ref began counting, so unfortunately it took all of the drama out of the near fall since we knew at that point there would be no three count yet. Edge yanked Hardy off of Triple H before the third count.
Edge and Hardy battled at ringside. Hardy reverse whipped Edge into the security wall, then yanked off his shirt and began tearing apart the announce table. Triple H rejoined he fight and jumped Hardy from behind with a forearm. Ross said Hardy's "soul is haunted" because he's never been WWE Champion. Triple H set up a Pedigree on the announce table. He spent a lot of time playing to the crowd before doing it. Hardy was pretty limp going up, but then suddenly escaped. Edge charged out of nowhere from another table and speared Hardy off of the table. The crowd chanted, "Holy sh--!" Triple H stood on the still-standing table and looked down at the heap of the former table below. Tazz said that was oen of the more amazing things he's seen. Back in the ring Edge hit a DDT on Triple H at 13:00. Triple H got up first and hit a spinebuster and then a Pedigree. Kozlov came to ringside and yanked Triple H out of the ring. He threw Hunter into the ringside steps. Matt Hardy ran to ringside and attacked Kozlov. Kozlov fended him off. Meanwhile, Hardy climbed to the top rope. Kozlov knocked Jeff off the top turnbuckle. Matt went back to the attack on Kozlov. They brawled to the back. Meawhile, Edge struggled to get up in the ring as Triple H and Hardy struggled to regain their senses at ringside. Edge stood just as Triple H returned to the ring, so he hit Triple H with a spear for a near fall at 16:00.
Edge grabbed a chair from ringside and slipped it into the ring. He stuck Triple H's head under the chair, then grabbed another chair. Hardy yanked the chair out of Edge's hands and swung it into Edge's head. Edge went down. Hardy climbed to the top rope. Triple H knocked Hardy off of the top rope. Hardy straddled the top turnbuckle. Triple H used the ropes to pull himself back to his feet. He then gave Edge a Pedigree. He made the cover. Hardy, though, hit the Swanton. Triple H fell out of the ring after the impact. The ref counted three. Jeff Hardy is the champion. "My God I don't believe it!" said Ross. "From daredevil to champion. From enigma to icon." Tazz said it's truly a new chapter in Jeff Hardy's career and congratulated him. Hardy celebrated in the ring and seemed truly emotionally moved by holding that belt as his music played. The crowd mic didn't seem mixed right as the music dominated the sound on TV even though fans were celebrating in the background.
WINNER: Jeff Hardy in 18:00 to capture the WWE Title.
STAR RATING: ****1/4 -- Really satisfying main event and it's the finish WWE dared not do for a long time. Hardy has to deliver now, and WWE should get 100 percent behind him to send a message to the apathetic viewers that there is a new era in WWE with new stars on top getting serious pushes. Cena made a difference to Raw ratings, so Hardy on top of Smackdown can, too. They really have to sell it as a real reign and not a transition reign where everyone's waiting for Hardy to screw up or WWE to pull the rug out from under him.
-The PPV closed with Hardy standing on top of the castle entrance set with the belt.