Thursday, October 9, 2014

Through the Years Reviews: Armageddon 2002

Armageddon 2002
December 15th, 2002 – Office Depot Center in Sunrise, Florida – Attendance: 9,000

Fresh off of a great Survivor Series 2002 Pay-Per-View, the WWE looked to end 2002 on a high note with Armageddon. If memory serves right, Shawn Michaels would defend his newly won World Heavyweight Championship against Triple H in a Three Stages of Hell match, while Big Show defended the WWE Title against Kurt Angle. Sounds like good stuff to me. Smackdown was the superior show with Paul Heyman at the helm but I totally disagreed with his call to have himself turn on Brock at the previous Pay-Per-View. Anyway, let's get into this.

We get a decent video package to start but it feels too similar to ones I've seen before. “Classy” Freddie Blassie, “The End” song and images of wrestlers inter cut with images of war. It makes sense for a show called Armageddon though so I understand. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler start off on commentary for the Raw stuff.

World Tag Team Championship Fatal Four Way Elimination Match
Chris Jericho and Christian (c) vs. Booker T and Goldust vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Lance Storm and William Regal

The reunited Dudley Boyz now have their awesome Powerman 5000 theme music. William Regal and Lance Storm have won seven straight matches coming into this. Who says wins and losses don't count? I hated Christian's attire with the tank top and I'd also like to point out that Christian was Tag Team Champion with Storm just four months prior. Bubba Ray and Storm start (ECW! ECW!) and the crowd is hot for the Dudleys. We get some quick tags so everyone can do their thing and my favorite interaction is between Jericho and Goldust. Bubba and Goldust actually hit the Champions with stereo punches and a bionic elbow so they decide to do a little handshake/butt bump after that was pretty funny. WASSSUP headbutt but a huge brawl ensues before D-Von is told to get the tables. Christian gets hit with a 3D but Regal blind tagged in and pinned Bubba Ray in a strange sequence as Bubba and Regal rolled on top of each other. The Dudleys are gone but quickly after, Regal is eliminated by a Goldust powerslam. Two quick eliminations that both seemed strange. Jericho and Booker go at it until Goldust and Booker hit a double team move for two. It's cool that two guys who were in the Elimination Chamber the previous month are competing for the Tag Titles. It didn't lessen Jericho and Booker and made the Tag Titles feel important. From commentary, I gather that Booker and Goldust had a storyline where Goldust was seemingly the weak link. Jericho does his signature dance as he and Christian work over Goldust for a bit. Booker gets the hot tag and cleans house before getting a near fall with a rollup and another with a small package. Jericho dodges the Scissors Kick and ends up putting Booker in the Walls! Goldust makes the save and Booker gets another two count with a kick. Booker hits a missile dropkick for yet another near fall. Jericho misses the Lionsault and gets flapjacked, so Booker does the SPINAROONIE! He hits the Scissors Kick but Jericho gets his shoulder up. Jericho hits Booker with the Tag Title and then connects with a Lionsault but Booker kicks out! Jericho goes for it again but it's countered into the Bookend for the win!

Winners and New World Tag Team Champions: Booker T and Goldust in 16:43
This shouldn't have been a four way. The Dudleys reunited just to be eliminated first, and things didn't get interested until it was down to two teams. That being said, the stuff after the first two eliminations was excellent. Great opener. ***1/4

Jonathan Coachman interviews the new Champions and Booker makes sure to let Goldust know that he is no weak link. They cut to a video from Heat where Josh Matthews interviews Brock Lesnar to ask if he's going to be in Kurt Angle's corner. Brock doesn't answer the question and is as intimidating as you'd expect.

A-Train vs. Edge
This came about because A-Train took out Edge's partner, Rey Mysterio two weeks ago and then he beat up Edge, costing him a shot at the WWE Title. According to Michael Cole, Edge tore his MCL during the attack. I've seen NBA players miss a season with that injury so I doubt it's legit. A “shave your back” chant rings through the arena as A-Train takes control. Edge tries to use his quickness but A-Train is too much. We get more power work from the future Tensai and the crowd isn't really feeling this. Edge breaks a rest hold with a jawbreaker and chops away on A-Train which has to feel gross. He hits a spinning heel kick and a face buster for two. Edge climbs to the second rope and hits a spinning Edge-o-Matic which I've never seen. He also pulls on A-Train's tights and I see way too much of him. Edge leaps off the top but jumps right into a Bicycle Kick for two. A-Train gets mad and gets a steel chair but Edge baseball slides him. Train fights back with the Baldo Bomb for another near fall. Train gets mad and levels Edge in the leg with a steel chair, resulting in the DQ.

Winner via disqualification: Edge in 7:12
Nothing match really. A-Train was the power guy and Edge played the speed guy. Basic stuff. *3/4

Edge ends up taking the chair from A-Train and proceeds to beat the hell out of him with the chair. It was a nice precursor to the “Rated R Superstar” that he would become. A nice step in the character development of Edge. Cutting to the back, Paul Heyman is pleading with the Big Show to not barge into Stephanie McMahon's office. 

Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero
Because this is Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero, things open with a wrestling sequence. Benoit counters an armbar type move with a badass power up and slams Eddie. I believe some of the fans chant “boring” which I disagree with because I like a good wrestling sequence. Eddie goes to backdrop Benoit outside, but he gets caught in the ropes and awkwardly falls. Eddie follows with a flying press in a nice spot. Back inside, Eddie targets the leg and the crowd isn't feeling this. Benoit wakes the fans up with a trio of German suplexes but that's not enough. He keeps hold and finishes him off with five straight! He signals for the end as he climbs up for the headbutt but Eddie gets to his feet so Benoit jumps down and hits two more German suplexes. Eddie fights out and feels that German suplexes are successful as he busts out four of his own. Brock Lesnar would love this match. Eddie nails the Frog Splash but Benoit gets his shoulder up! An upset Eddie tackles Benoit to the outside. Eddie gets inside and distracts the referee as Chavo runs down and knocks out Benoit with a Tag Title. Benoit somehow kicks out of the pin and Eddie is very frustrated. He locks in the El Paso Lasso but Benoit reaches the ropes. Benoit fires back with a STIFF powerbomb and climbs to the top. Eddie again pulls the referee to distract him so Chavo can attack. The Wolverine fights him off and knocks him outside, allowing Eddie to climb up too. Benoit shoves him off and connects with the headbutt. Before Benoit can pin, Eddie grabs his leg and gets in the El Paso Lasso! Benoit counters into the Crippler Crossface though! Eddie tries to roll out but it's locked in and Eddie taps out.

Winner: Chris Benoit in 16:47
Really good stuff that started slow. I've seen better from both guys though as they've set a ridiculously high bar. The crowd not being into it hurt it somewhat. ***3/4

Paul Heyman enters Stephanie McMahon's office to complain about Brock Lesnar's suspension being lifted. Heyman's pleas fall on deaf ears as Stephanie McMahon will allow Brock to be in Kurt Angle's corner. 

We then cut to a video package of the feud between Dawn Marie and Torrie Wilson, involving the legendary Al Wilson. Dawn Marie revealed that she was attracted to Torrie Wilson and blackmailed her into HLA by promising not to marry Torrie's dad. Dawn decides to marry Al anyway and is now out to the ring to reveal her sex tape with Torrie. We get to see some of the good stuff as Torrie disrobes a bit and makes out with Dawn, seemingly enjoying it. Al makes Dawn stop the video, thus cementing his legacy as one of the biggest heels in wrestling history. Few things get draw more heat than stopping HLA.

Keeping with the sexy theme, we get a quick shot of Shawn Michaels stretching.

Batista w/ Ric Flair vs. Kane
The first Pay-Per-View match for Batista and being accompanied by Ric Flair is pretty cool. This should be a good battle of the bigs as Kane was red hot at this time, pun intended. Batista shoulder blocks Kane to the mat but he sits up and clotheslines him outside, where Flair gives Batista some advice. Kane picks up Batista for a Tombstone but realizes that it's too soon for that and just awkwardly slams him down. Batista hits Kane with the biggest EDDIE GILBERT hot shot that I've ever seen and follows with a Spear for two. Batista connects with a decent looking floatover suplex for another near fall. As Batista sends Kane outside, Kane retaliates with a snapmare so Flair runs at him. Flair tries to Irish whip Kane but it fails so he resorts to chopping him, which has no effect either. Flair hilariously just shouts and Kane chokes him, allowing Batista to get the upper hand. He earns some near falls but Kane rallies so Flair gets involved. Kane beats him up, giving Batista the chance to hit a Batista Bomb, which is impressive on a guy like Kane and it's over.

Winner: Batista in 6:38
For a first Pay-Per-View match, Batista gets a big win and showed a lot of potential. I could've done with less from Ric Flair, but being in Batista's corner was a big deal at the time so it made sense. **

Kurt Angle is shown backstage looking for Brock Lesnar. That's it. Now we get a rapping John Cena who comes to the ring with B2. It's not good. Cena has had some entertaining raps but this wasn't one of them.

WWE Women's Championship
Victoria (c) vs. Jacqueline vs. Trish Stratus

Man, I really loved the Victoria character at this time. I never saw anything in Jacqueline really though. Last note before the match is that I hate how Victoria's “All the Things She Said” theme is dubbed over. Victoria runs to the ring for a brawl but awkwardly stalls when she gets inside. They do brawl and Victoria hits her sweet somersault leg drop on Trish. Jacqueline goes all Karate Kid and sweeps the leg for two. Trish tries Stratusfaction but it's countered into a double back suplex. Jacqueline uses a flying head scissors, which I've never seen her do before Trish and her make a wish on Victoria. Jacqueline is all “DTA” and tosses Trish outside. The challengers get near falls on each other with a cross body before Jacqueline kicks Victoria outside. Trish hits the handstand hurricanrana on Jacqueline and kick Victoria down. She continues her hot streak with a neckbreaker but Victoria stops her momentum. Victoria climbs to the top and is shoved off, so Trish hits Jacqueline with the Chick Kick. Victoria quickly gets in and breaks the count. Trish covers Jacqueline near the apron, so Victoria hits her in the head with the belt and covers Jacqueline in a sloppy finish.

Winner and Still WWE Women's Champion: Victoria in 4:28
Jacqueline subtracted from the great Trish/Victoria feud. After their classic women's match at Survivor Series, this was a big step down. 3/4*

Victoria steals Trish's hat as she exits and we cut to Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar talking backstage. Kurt sells him on being ringside for the WWE Title match. There is some clear tension between them though as Kurt inserts a VHS of Paul Heyman turning on Brock at Survivor Series into Brock's TV.

WWE Championship
Big Show (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Kurt Angle

Big Show looked pretty terrible during this time. He was huge and the tank top/jeans combination was not flattering. Kurt Angle manages to take out Paul Heyman early by landing on top of him outside, but he runs into Show who chops him a few times. Show tosses Angle outside hard and then brings him back in just as rough. Show continues to treat Angle like a rag doll until Kurt uses a jawbreaker to try and turn things around. He stupidly goes for a cross body but caught and nailed with the Final Cut. Show applies a bearhug but doesn't kill time with it as Angle breaks it quickly by biting Show. He gets a choke on Show by jumping on his back and gets him down to one knee. Angle pulls out a tornado DDT and both guys are down for a while. He hits a missile dropkick and a moonsault but barely hits the latter. In an impressive moment, Angle hits an Angle Slam for two. THE STRAPS ARE DOWN! Ankle Lock is applied but Show rolls out and goes for a Chokeslam. Angle somehow counters that into an Ankle Lock. Show powers out and Angle takes out the official. Heyman throws a chair in the ring but Angle uses it on Show. He covers but Show kicks out and the referee is hit again. Ankle Lock is in and Show taps but there's no referee. A-Train runs out and hits Angle with a back breaker before running out through the crowd. Show connects with the Chokeslam but Brock is here. F5 LIKE SHOW IS A CRUISERWEIGHT and Brock goes after Heyman who runs to the back. Angle covers Show to become the new Champion.

Winner and New WWE Champion: Kurt Angle in 12:36
Not bad. Big Show dominated so it was slow and it got overbooked like crazy in the end. Could've been better. **1/4

Kurt Angle celebrates along with the crowd as he wins his third WWE Title. I could have sworn that Paul Heyman turned on Big Show here. We then cut to the World, where Rob Van Dam is to tell us that HBK is going to win the main event, dude.

World Heavyweight Championship Three Stages of Hell
Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Triple H

So the first fall is a Street Fight and the first weapon to show up is a trash can as Triple H and Shawn Michaels brawl on the outside. Shawn tries to hit HHH but ends up hitting the trash can before pulling out a table. THE BIG GUNS ARE COMING OUT EARLY! He goes for a suplex through it but Triple H blocks. Inside, Shawn reverses HHH's suplex attempt as well but eats the high knee. HHH wisely targets the lower back, which he did at SummerSlam as well. HHH attempts a tilt a whirl backbreaker onto an open chair but Shawn counters into one of his own. Interesting to see Shawn now focus on HHH's back. Shawn panders to the crowd before Sweet Chin Music, so HHH obvious blocks it and slams Shawn's knee to the mat. The psychology shifts to working the knee as Triple H slams it onto the trash can now. HHH locks in a Figure Four in a nice nod to having Ric Flair in his ear over the past few months. Shawn gets out of it but has his head scrambled by a trash can lid shot. They fight up to the entrance where HHH pulls out a barbed wire 2x4! He goes to use it but see the flames in the entrance and decides to light it on fire first. ITS ONLY THE FIRST FALL DUDE, CHILL! Shawn kicks him and uses the flaming 2x4 on HHH. Things go back to the ring where HHH hits a drop toe hold into an open chair. I love how something like a drop toe hold gets utilized in street fights. Shawn nips up but HHH chop blocks him, followed by a Pedigree to take the first fall.

As the Steel Cage for the second fall lowers, HHH throws a bunch of weapons into the ring and busts HBK open. Shawn rallies by bouncing HHH off of the cage a few times. They rumble to the top of the cage as Ric Flair comes down to ringside. Flair stacks up four tables, two on top of two while they're up there. They fall back to the ring and Flair enters, only to get beat down. Shawn lays out both guys with a steel chair and of course, Flair is bleeding. Shawn sets up a table and lays HHH on it. He climbs to the top of the Cage and splashes him through the table to even the score.

The third fall, which we all knew was happening, is a Ladder match. Ric Flair is rolled out of the ring and is GUSHING. Shawn gets things kicked off with a bang by suplexing HHH onto the ladder. They continue to use the ladder as a weapon as Shawn whips HHH into one in the corner. Shawn tries a splash off the ladder but misses and lands awkwardly. HHH follows with the Pedigree but can't get the belt as he's knocked outside. Shawn is alone as he starts the slow climb to the top. The camera wisely doesn't catch Triple H get up as he enters and shoves the ladder, sending Shawn crashing through three of the four tables at ringside. HHH climbs and pulls down the belt.

Winner and New World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H in 38:35
These two have fantastic chemistry but something was off about this match. Having the Cage match in the middle was weird and something just didn't click with this like it does other nights. There were a LOT of high spot moments, but I didn't love it. **3/4

Overall: 5.5/10; Decent. I had high hopes for this show but was disappointed. This Shawn Michaels/Triple H match was nowhere near the level of their SummerSlam classic. Edge/A-Train and the Women's Title matches weren't good, while the WWE Title and Batista/Kane were passable. The only matches really worth it were the opener and the Eddie/Benoit bout. Hopefully, 2003 starts with a better show.