Hope you and your family are well
I've been giving some thought of getting back into reviewing shows again. Back when I did it for Pulse Wrestling, I'd do the traditional "play by play" review style for matches. That got a bit tiresome though and, to be perfectly honest, it was far too much like your review style. (Seriously, I basically had my own version of all your best lines. Instead of "BONZO GONZO" for example I had "HOUSE EN FEUGO")
I've had a go at a new review style and I was wondering if you'd mind posting this to the blog just so I can get some opinions on it? As it stands, I'm not looking at going back to reviewing full time, but if there's elements here that The Doomers like I might be able to cultivate them and it could motivate me to start doing reviews more often.
So yeah, I'm essentially looking to do some market research if that's okay with yourself? It's cool if not of course, but I just thought I'd ask on the off chance.
This might start up some discussion on the blog as well as I've actually been quite favourable to the two most hated matches on the show, not even intentionally to popcorn either, I genuinely don't hate them that much.
I'll post the review below.
In the meantime, take care of yourself and all the best!
WWE New Years Revolution
The WWE Network has been substantially eating into my life since I signed up just before the Royal Rumble.
Despite the odd case of bizarre music dubbing (Prince Iaukea’s faux “Purple Rain” theme is edited out but X-Factors “Uncle Kracker” theme remains intact?) I’ve been having a mighty fine time watching the shows and Pay Per Views that I had never seen before but had always wanted to.
I’ve also been re-watching shows that I have seen before, just to see whether the crusty hands of time have altered my memories of them in anyway.
Sometimes I’ll want to watch a show for a particular reason, but other times I’ll just skim through the shows on offer until I see one that I feel like watching.
New Years Revolution was a show I hadn’t watched since way back in 2005 when it first happened. I remember being a bit “meh” on it when it first happened, while also remembering a lot of people on the internet complaining about it. Thus, I decided to watch it again.
The event took place in San Juan, Puerto Rico. To my knowledge, this has been the first and last time that WWE produced a live Pay Per View Event from Puerto Rico. The crowd were, understandably, excited to see such a big event.
Commentators for the show were Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, with Jonathon Coachman popping in towards the end as well.
Raw Tag Titles
Champions – William Regal and Eugene
Challengers – Tyson Tomko and Christian
This was back before the Raw and Smackdown Tag Titles had been unified. The Eugene character was an interesting one to say the least. Played by Nick Dinsmore, Eugene was Eric Bischoff’s storyline nephew who had some form of Special Needs. It was never outright said by WWE that this was the case, but it was strongly implied that he was mentally ill (Although WWE never felt it was relevant to furnish us with what Mental Illness he actually had)
As a consequence, Eugene had a childlike innocence to him. His other main character trait was that he was a huge wrestling fan, who had watched wrestling so much that he had developed the ability to copy the moves of his favourite wrestlers like some form of savant. At first, the gimmick was popular and it looked like Eugene was going to reach higher parts of the card than originally expected. However, during the summer of 2004 he’d taken part in a feud with Triple H, which had ended with him being decisively beaten. He faded into the mid card before becoming nothing more than enhancement talent.
Upon his debut, William Regal had been assigned to Eugene by Eric Bischoff, so as to look after him. At first Regal had hated the idea, but during the ensuing months, he grew to care for Eugene and they ended up firm friends and Tag Team Champions to boot.
Tomko was essentially just Christian’s muscle, brought in to be his “Problem Solver”. Christian himself was firmly entrenched as a sneaky mid card heel. He would eventually leave WWE later in 2005, frustrated with his lack of push.
There wasn’t really a particular heated storyline going into this. Christian and Tomko were essentially just “Challengers of the Month” and this was the show they were to get their shot.
Pretty much a standard opening tag contest. Eugene performed a lot of comedy in the opening exchanges, which the crowd responded to reasonably well. Eugene and Christian entered solid enough performances but Regal had an off night and Tomko wasn’t particularly good at this point in his career. There were a couple of instances where Tomko and Regal were on different pages and had some sloppy exchanges as consequence.
Christian entered a serviceable performance. He looked annoyed at Eugene when he was supposed to, taunted the crowd now and then and was basically just “there”. Disappointing from him really, considering his experience in tag wrestling. Tomko lumbered around and did what he could. Regal seemed to not have his head together at all for this for some reason. Maybe he was carrying an injury or was struggling with fatigue due to the travel involved to get to San Juan?
Heels got the heat on Eugene as well as a further heat on Regal. Eugene got the hot tag but injured himself during his comeback. He threw a dropkick and landed very badly on his leg, causing a legit injury. The match was hastily ended, with Eugene getting a weak roll up on Tomko.
WINNERS – EUGENE AND REGAL
RATING - *1/2
OVERALL THOUGHTS – Standard formula tag match with an abrupt ending due to Eugene’s injury. Can’t really fault any of the guys in the match for the finish, as they were making the best of a bad situation. The match up to that point had been average at best and would have probably ended up around the ** mark if the ending had gone as planned. Basic opener that the crowd responded to well.
I should point out that there were numerous skits by the swimming pool involving Maria, Christy Hemme, Candice Michelle and Stacy Keibler in bikini’s. It all built up to them having a chicken fight in the pool. It was what it was, but didn’t really add anything to the show and I must question actually paying to take them to San Juan just for that.
Champion – Lita
Challenger – Trish Stratus
In storyline, Lita had been forced to marry Kane and was due to give birth to his Demon Spawn™ until an unforeseen accident, which we’ll cover in more detail later on, caused her to miscarry.
Trish, being the heel of the piece, decided to mock Lita about losing her baby. It was tasteless but at least created the desired reaction of fans wanting to see Lita beat Trish up, so every cloud. The two had an abrupt match at Survivor Series which had ended in a Disqualification, and was notable for Lita causing Trish to bleed from her nose.
The re-match was a hotly contested bout on Raw, that was actually the Main Event on that particular show, which saw Lita win the title clean to gain a measure of revenge. This was probably the highest status the much beleaguered Women’s Title would ever reach in WWE.
The match on this show was a continuation of the storyline.
Unfortunately this was the second match on the show that had to go home early due to a legit injury. Lita dove off the apron early in the bout and injured her leg severely. Unable to carry on, an audible was called and Trish kicked Lita to win the match and the title.
WINNER – TRISH STRATUS
RATING – I can’t really give it one as there wasn’t much of a match up to the injury and it would be unfair to mark the ladies down for having to go home early.
OVERALL THOUGHTS – Looked like it was going to be another solid match between the two before the injury. I’m not sure if Trish was due to win anyway and they just went to the planned finish early, or if Lita was due to win and they changed the finish on the fly. Lita would come back after this to help train Trish’s Wrestlemania opponent Christy Hemme. However, the feud would fizzle out in Spring as both women would take their characters in different directions
Champion – Shelton Benjamin
Challenger – Maven
Maven was fresh off a heel turn around this show. I can’t pinpoint the exact date, but I know he was a face at Survivor Series so it was sometime between that show and this one.
Shelton had been champion since October when he’d defeated Chris Jericho. He’d been pushed as an Upper Mid Card face that could hang with the Main Eventers, but didn’t often defeat them.
Maven had pinned Benjamin in a tag match to set up his role as challenger.
This match got a lot of negativity at the time but I remembered loving it then and I still love it now. Maven stalled for a few minutes at the start of the match, drawing a decent amount of heat while doing so. Finally, he couldn’t stand it anymore and rolled out of the ring to grab a microphone.
He cut a promo on the audience telling them to be quiet as they were distracting him. This of course only caused the fans to boo him louder and yell obscenities at him in Spanish. Maven continued to insult the crowd declaring “I can’t concentrate with you talking all that gibberish” which went down about as well as you could imagine and still cracks me up every time I see it.
After cutting his promo, Maven finally got into the ring again where he was promptly rolled up by Benjamin for the win. Fabulous!
WINNER – SHELTON BENJAMIN
RATING – Again, I can’t really rate it as a traditional wrestling match because it was essentially an angle more than anything else.
OVERALL THOUGHTS – A lot of people got cheesed off by this match back in the day because having something like this on a Pay Per View was seen as a rip off. I really don’t see that though. To me, a Maven Vs Shelton match would hardly have been a classic. It would have been, at best, an average mid card match and nothing more.
By booking it the way they did, it made the match unique and also gave Maven a great opportunity to get his smarmy heel act over. He was excellent in this and incited the crowd beautifully. Plus, it was funny to watch the arrogant heel get his comeuppance and it made Shelton look strong in the process.
If the first two matches hadn’t had abrupt finishes as a result of injuries, this match probably wouldn’t have received as much of a backlash as it did. I think the fact they followed two interrupted matches with an extended angle made people have a more negative view of this match than was deserved.
Following the match, Maven called Shelton back in to face him again, as he wasn’t ready previously. Maybe he'd been too busy brushing up on his Spanish to do enough squat thrusts and body planks? Shelton obliged, drilled him straight away with a T-Bone Suplex, and beat him again. Marvellous!
Muhammad Hassan with Daivari
Jerry Lawler with Jim Ross
With Islamaphobia rife throughout the Western World, the WWE decided to deal with it in their usual calm and measured way, by debuting Hassan as a stereotypical angry Muslim.
At first, it seemed like they were going to go a different direction with the gimmick and play up the idea that Hassan and Daivari were both normal Americans who were mistreated just because they happened to look Asian (Hassan himself was actually Italian) but by this show they’d gone the whole hog and had just made them evil men who wanted to put Americans in The Camel Clutch.
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler had gotten on the bad side of the two, by decrying their Anti-American comments, so naturally a match was made between the potential hot new heel Hassan and the aging half retired Lawler. This was supposed to get Hassan over somehow. Don’t look at me, I didn’t book it
The first problem with the match is the length. It takes up nearly 10 minutes, which is far too long for what it needed to be. Secondly, with Lawler wrestling and Ross seconding him, the match had no commentary whatsoever, which only hurt it further.
Hassan sold far too much for a guy they supposedly had top card plans for. He should have polished Lawler off pretty quickly and moved on to fry bigger fish, but that’s not how the match was booked at all.
The work wasn’t particularly thrilling either. I like Jerry Lawler and think he is a good storyteller in the ring, but this match was just flat and uninteresting. Hassan eventually pinned Lawler with a Complete Shot after a tedious contest.
WINNER – MUHAMMAD HASSAN
Rating - *
OVERALL THOUGHTS – Boring match that did nothing to elevate Hassan and was a waste of Lawler’s Legend Status. Hassan would start gaining a little bit of momentum over the following months once he started working with fulltime roster members. He’d even get to face Hulk Hogan at Backlash. In the summer of 2005, he was traded to Smackdown and was positioned to be Batista’s Summer Slam foil.
However, in the build up to a match with The Undertaker where he’d earn his #1 Contendership status to Batista’s Title, WWE shot an offensive angle where a group of balaclava clad mercenaries attacked Undertaker with a piano wire while Hassan prayed outside the ring. Awful as this was, WWE probably would have got away with it, but two days after it was shot there was an Islamic Fundamentalist attack on London.
WWE couldn’t edit the footage in time, or so they claimed, so instead played a pitiful disclaimer at the bottom of the screen while the angle commenced. This netted them a boatload of negative publicity and things got so bad that they decided to “kill off” the Hassan character at that year’s Great American Bash. Quite literally in fact. Undertaker Power Bombed him off a stage and after a shot showing his broken body on the concrete, we never saw him again. Ah, WWE, classy till the end. Marc Copani, who played Hassan, got into acting I think. I wish him well to be honest; it wasn’t like he booked any of the stuff that got WWE in hot water. He was essentially made the scapegoat, when he’d merely been doing what he was told.
Remember the whole “Lita being pregnant” thing from the second match? WWE decided that they wouldn’t deliver on Lita actually having a child with Kane. With that decision made, they needed a way of getting rid of the imaginary child. Snitsky was the man who ended up with that job. Baby killing isn't glamorous work, but I hear the dental plan is good at least.
One week Gene Snitsky was just there on Raw, and nothing would ever be the same again. After Kane had forced Lita to carry his wicked offspring, he then naturally followed that up with the logical step of forcing her to marry him. Ah, young love.
This led to a number of occasions where they’d squabble and Kane would lose a match or two as direct consequence. Kane was booked against Snitsky on Raw one week, who everyone watching just assumed was an enhancement guy who was there to put Kane over. Oh, if only we had been so lucky.
In fact, Kane and Lita had another one of their weekly arguments during the match. While they argued, Snitsky grabbed a nearby chair and walloped Kane in the back with it. The force of the chair shot sent Kane tumbling onto Lita, thus causing her to miscarry.
“Hmm” I thought “It’s strange that they’d use a Jobber of the Week for this sort of angle as opposed to a recurring character”. Oh how wrong I was. Because Snitsky was not there as part of a one shot deal, no sir. Next week on television, Jim Ross interviewed Snitsky about the incident. Snitsky, showing no compassion or sympathy, simply declared that “It wasn’t my Fault!” and thus a catchphrase was born.
Snitsky continued to show no lament for his actions. In fact, he even seemed perversely proud of them. At one point he even punted a doll into the crowd! Snitsky was here to stay and WWE decided to go all the way with him and actually let him put Kane out of action in October for a prolonged period of time. This show was Kane’s return and he was looking for revenge.
This is a strange one for me. The match told a decent story and had sustained crowd heat throughout. However, both men got very tired and as consequence the offence on display was beyond sloppy.
At one point, the brawl spilled to the outside of the ring and Snitsky removed the protective mats, exposed the dreaded concrete. Snitsky then tried to Piledrive Kane onto said concrete, but Kane countered with a back drop and Snitsky took a bump on the unprotected floor. This was a standard spot but the crowd went nuts for it. San Juan really, REALLY liked Kane and it made the match much more entertaining than it normally would have been.
There was some good progression in the match as far as storytelling. Earlier on, Kane tried his Top Rope Clothesline, but Snitsky countered with a raised boot. Later on Kane tried it again and this time managed to get it, which popped the crowd. I don’t know why, but I liked the little touch of him failing the first time. It made it seem like he’d achieved something when he finally connected with the move.
There were some slow points though. Snitsky used at least two rest holds throughout the bout. And, as much as I’d like to ignore it, the work wasn’t good. Snitsky in particular was out of position a few times and hit some sloppy looking moves.
In the end, Kane drilled Snitsky with a Tombstone to pick up the victory, but it was a very ugly looking one that almost ended in disaster. Kane lost his grip of Snitsky on the move and nearly dropped him right on top of his head. It gave me cause to shudder when they showed the replay.
WINNER – KANE
RATING - *1/2
OVERALL THOUGHTS – I’m torn on this one. I was hovering around ** for it but I couldn’t in good conscience give a match this awful that high of a rating. The work in this match leaves a lot to be desired, but both guys work really hard and the live crowd enjoyed it. I personally enjoyed it as well and got into the story of the match, but in the cold harsh reality of star ratings, this was a bad match. Still, I give props to both men as the match build and story made sense and they were clearly putting their all into it.
The feud raged on for a bit longer after this and there was a genuine possibility that Wrestlemania would feature Kane and Undertaker Vs Snitsky and Heidenreich, but thankfully WWE came to their senses and we weren’t subject to having that atrocity foisted upon us.
Elimination Chamber for The Vacant Raw World Title
Shawn Michaels as Guest Referee
Triple H with Ric Flair
Chris F’ing Benoit
Triple H had won the Title in September, cutting the legs off hot new babyface Orton in the process, and held it until December of 2004. Due to a disputed finish in a Triple Threat Match between Triple H, Edge and Benoit, the belt was held up with the new Champion to be crowned in the Elimination Chamber.
Michaels was instilled as Trouble Shooting Referee™, thanks in large part to having issues with pretty much everyone in the match at some point or another. At this point though Michaels was firmly entrenched in a feud with Edge, who was trying to get over as an opportunistic heel. It would take winning the first ever Money In The Bank Match and stealing Matt Hardy’s bird to finally get Edge past the Upper Midcard to Main Event barrier. At this point he was a moderately over heel with something missing.
The big story going into the match was the rise of Batista. Obstensibly he was there merely to help Triple H win, but ever so small cracks were starting to appear in his relationship with Triple H. Hints were given that maybe he’d take the Title for himself.
Orton was pretty much dead in the water as a face by this point and would be a heel again about a month after this. Ditto for Jericho, although his heel turn would take a bit longer. Benoit was coming off probably the most successful year of his career, which had seen him win the Title at Wrestlemania XX and generally have great matches with everyone from Triple H to Sylvain Grenier.
What struck me first off was how over everyone in the match was. The San Juan crowd gave everyone, barring Edge, a babyface reaction. Triple H, the companies top heel at the time, received a thunderous ovation, as did Batista. Edge was seemingly the only one to draw any heel heat on his way to the ring. As a result, everyone was clearly jazzed by the reaction and were all up for having a good match.
With such a collection of excellent workers, the match was naturally a good watch. Benoit and Jericho started out and hit each other really hard, as they were always want to do. Edge’s elimination eventually came at the hands of Michaels. Edge had clobbered Michaels by mistake, so a perturbed Michaels had Super Kicked him to lead to a pinfall. Benoit and Jericho had Triple in a dual submission, almost causing him to subut before a last gasp rescue by Batista.
Batista was given scalps of both Benoit and Jericho and was generally booked very strong. It eventually came down to Batista, Orton and Triple H. Orton was able to clock Batista with an RKO and eliminate him. Of interest though was the fact that Triple H could have potentially saved Batista, but he instead left him to his fate. This was a nice subtle touch that added another layer to the Evolution storyline.
Batista eventually clocked Orton with a Lariat before leaving The Chamber, which allowed Triple H to spike Orton with a Pedigree to beat him once again.
WINNER – TRIPLE H
Rating - ****
OVERALL THOUGHTS – An excellent Main Event that made Batista look like a monster while also sowing the seeds for his eventual face turn a month later. Orton was made to look like a chump again, but that was par for the course at this point in his babyface run.
Benoit, as always, was the glue that held everything together and Edge gave a good showing of himself up until his elimination. Back in the day, I very much had a feeling of “What was the point of all that if the belt just ends up with Triple H again?”, but looking at it now I feel a bit differently.
This was the match that tied up some loose ends while also laying down the tarmac for the Road to Wrestlemania. This was the match that essentially finished Orton as a top level face, ending that chapter of his career so he could switch back heel in time for his match at Wrestlemania with The Undertaker. It also set up the Edge and Michaels marriage for the next month, which in turn led to Michaels Vs Angle for Wrestlemania while also giving Edge something else to complain about before he won the briefcase at Mania.
And it also set Batista up as a monster, while also teasing that at some point he might kick Evolution to the curb. This match was the perfect way to get things rolling for Wrestlemania and it was a brilliant match to boot!
OVERALL SHOW THOUGHTS – Not a particularly great show this one, but it does have its moments. I would recommend watching maybe just The Maven/Shelton match and the Chamber match on The Network. Kane/Snitsky is an acquired taste, but you may get some enjoyment out of it if you fast forward through the rest holds and can put up with the sloppy offence.