Good, But Not Great,
This review is from: WWE - Armageddon 2005 [DVD] (DVD)
As the last WWE PPV of the year, Armageddon is always a little hit and miss. It tends to have that end of the school year feel where the writers have given up a little bit, or are prepared to try something new. In 2005, it was the former. This year, Raw's current world champion, Batista, was also out with an injury, so this isn't defended on the event. And with a champion vs champion tag team title match, the only belt on the line is the cruiserweight title. Now, there'd be nothing wrong with this is there were some solid rivalries on the card, but aside from Taker/Orton everything seems very cobbled together and last minute. This makes the event difficult to really invest in, something which isn't helped by a pretty lackluster crowd.
Matt Hardy vs JBL
JBL has always been amazing at brawling, aggressive matches. And with his recent feud with Edge, Hardy has also shown a knack for the visceral contest. So pairing these two seems like a good idea on paper, and did translate to an entertaining match above what I normally expect from either of the participants. There are some particularly violent, and shocking moments in a match the exceeds expectations. My only criticism is the lack of any real story, which would have made for a much more exciting encounter. The writers dropped the ball on this one, but the wrestlers sure as hell made up for it. ***1/2
Mexicools vs MNM
Two of the most skilled high flying tag teams in the company at the time, this was a great match for me - and any other fan of WWE's take on Lucha Libre - and they don't fail to deliver. There are some risky, entertaining spots and a nicely told story throughout the match. However, the match should have gone another five or ten minutes, which would have really given time for a dynamic to develop and the finish to become more important. Which is a shame, as there are several useless segments further down the card that could have been cut. ****
BEST OF 7 SERIES FOR THE U.S. TITLE - MATCH 4:
Booker T vs Chris Benoit
This series never really clicked for me. There are some undoubtedly good moments, and the do-or-die scenario leading into the match is well played on the most part. But I feel that both performers were at a low point in their careers at this point, and I can't help but thinking that this series would have been so much better in 2003/2004. That said, a long match maintained my interest and was overall entertaining. Nothing standout here though, unfortunately. I expected more. ***
Here is the first of the waste of time segments that could have been given over to the tag-team match. Teddy Long brings out Santa and his elf (Vito and Nunzio) in an evil guise. The idea is actually pulled off very well, but then Boogeyman comes out and takes far too long playing with his worms for this to be a useful segment. If they had really wanted to use boogeyman, I can't see why they didn't have him interfere in a match and actually make him matter for once in this gimmick.
1-ON-TAG HANDICAP MATCH:
Lashley vs William Regal and Paul Burchill
I'm a big fan of Regal, and Burchill had some excellent matches over in England as a powerhouse (actually with pretty much the same Gimmick as Lashley in this match). But of course with Lashley's massive push at the moment, and Regal's status as a high-profile jobber, the match was a foregone conclusion. That doesn't mean it wasn't enjoyable, however, with the tag team allowed to get some of their own moves in, and Lashley (who was always one of my favorite big men in-ring) able to show off some impressive throws. This is another match that could have done with going a few more minutes, as the opening section, where the numbers game is really effective, seemed a little rushed. Could have been better, but very good for a match not even on the back of the DVD. ***
Juventud vs Kid Kash
Kid Kash was never a traditional high-flier. Instead he wrestled strong-style with the occassional great example of lucha libre. And this match here is no exception. Coming into the WWE and running through the competition with his brainbuster, it would have been nice to see a bit of a rivalry built up between the contender and the champion. But when have the WWE ever bothered to develop their cruiserweight division? That said, this is an accomplished match, with more scope for messing up than most cruiserweight matches in 2005. Still, the crowd is dead here. A good outing, and nice to see the cruiserweights so high up on the card. ***
WWE TAG TEAM TITLE VS WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE:
Batista and Rey Mysterio vs Kane and Big Show
It's a shame that both championship teams were not tag-teams, but cobbled together groups of superstars. That said, both of these teams do work well together as well as against one another. We get a pretty bad video package for the rivalry, which misses all the important motivations out and glosses over the impressive spots, thus serving no purpose whatsoever. The match where Batista/Mysterio won the titles looks really good though, I would have liked to see that in the DVD extras. It's interesting to see Batista playing an underdog here, which does him the world of favors and makes for a fairly refreshing match. Each team play their role well, and get the opportunity to show their stuff. Once again, nothing standout, but pretty good. ***1/2
HELL IN A CELL:
Undertaker vs Randy Orton
The only match with a real storyline going into it, and they decide to air that three matches before this one. So a lot of momentum has been sapped here in the early going. But that is soon made up for, with both Orton and Taker putting in a hardworking performance in a violent affair. Some more unusual spots are seen, which is nice for the fans, and both Taker and Orton are clearly working very well together. A clever finish and all-round great match make this undoubtedly match of the night. ****
Elsewhere in the night, there's an incredibly distasteful segment with former referee Tim White that starts as embarassing (talk of irritable bowel syndrome) and lurches towards downright disrespectful (suicide). The segment should never have been, and seemed at first an attempt at comedy, then an attempt at god knows what. Whatever it was going for, it failed. Another wasted five minutes that could have served much better on an undercard match. On the DVD extras you get a history of the friendly tap, which shows some of the attitude era's many barroom fights (very well put together fights, might I add) but that's it. I really would have liked to see the MNM/Mysterio & Batista match for the titles on here, and it was a logical fit. But that really sums up the pay per view for me: something felt like it was missing (not least a decent crowd). Good, but not great.