A Mark’s View: #174: The 6th Annual ‘Year in Pay Per ReView’
I’m using a lovely combination of both banners this time, because this column makes both a Point AND a Counterpoint. Plus I never did make an official banner for this annual column, so it?s just as well.
Well, it?s finally done. Over the past two weeks I have caught myself up, watched too many mediocre PPVs, read way too many show results online, written a hell of a lot of text, and basically fried my brain. So here you go, the fruits of my labor, and the summation of 2005 in Pay Per View form…
As I mentioned in my last column, I haven’t been a very good wrestling fan lately. My interest had been waning slowly over the summer, partially because I had no means of watching the shows live, and partially because the quality of said shows has simply dropped quite a bit. There was no one single reason though, it was a very steady decline. Over the summer I think the only angle I was really legitimately interested in was the Hardy/Edge feud, because it was a slice of real life, even if it was worked. But sometime around October, I got increasingly busy, in November I moved to a new apartment, and by this time in late December, I had fallen so far behind and was so generally disinterested that I just didn’t feel like it was worth catching up. Nothing was moving forward, nothing was all that original, and it was for the same reasons I stopped watching in the mid 90s: I grew up, the angles didn’t. I don’t know if this will last as long as it did last time, but it?s the longest I?ve gone without watching regularly in years.
Before deciding to write this, I still had the two Eddy tribute shows, unwatched, on my hard drive, and I just recently grabbed the last 4 PPV events of the year, because I missed them. With a mix of reading back results archives and watching what I could grab, I am now caught up in at least a minimal sense.
Of course, those PPVs were the only four that I hadn’t reviewed this year, so for the sake of completion, and that I had already reviewed the rest this year, I figured I should just get it over with and write up the 2005 Year in Pay Per ReView. I’m home alone this week and have a full pipe of bandwidth all to myself, so let?s all end the year with one big celebration of internet piracy, shall we?
2000?s grades had Summerslam taking the top slot.
2001?s grades finished with Wrestlemania at the top.
2002 again had Wrestlemania taking the lead.
2003 had the biggest range of grades, with Wrestlemania taking a three year streak.
2004 had Bad Blood on top, with a brand exclusive taking the top spot for the first time.
Now, onto 2005…
This is where those numbers you saw me calculate throughout the year actually come back to mean something. What people need to remember is that I’m not reviewing in terms of match star-ratings or necessarily technical prowess, I go by what entertains me as a wrestling fan, because it?s entirely possible that a technical clinic can be boring as shit, and that a goofy gimmick match or a hardcore spotfest can be vastly entertaining. And since I’m taking averages, that means that every PPV match in 2005 counts, because I’m going to rank PPVs in terms of quality via the final Entertainment Level of each one of my PPV review columns in 2005. Where the difference lies is that this year, I don’t have a review column to reference for No Mercy, Taboo Tuesday, Survivor Series, or Armageddon, so when it comes to those 4 events, not only will it be new to you for what place they come in, but those 4 will be a little more in-depth than the rest. Another thing I should mention is that in the cases where I’m taking numbers from my Big 4 ?Bottom Line? reviews, when I talk about the grade the PPV got as a whole I’m taking the averaged final number, while if I’m talking about the grade of an individual match, I’m using my grade for that particular match, which may or may not reflect upon the final average.
Now, even with my lack of interest here, I’m going to attempt to be objective. If a match is genuinely good or entertaining, I’ll call it like I see it. I?ve been reading play-by-play archives for the feuds leading up to each match, but with the bonus that now the lead-in video packages for the big matches are going to be all new to me instead of just a plot rehash.
This year also marks the first year I’ll be presenting one match on each show?s card with a Show Stealer award. This honor is bestowed upon the best, most consistently entertaining match of the card, which was easily the best encounter. While usually an undercard match, main events do occasionally win. I know it?s typical of the clich? for an underdog to ?steal? the show away from the main event, but when the main occasionally takes the ball it?s given and really runs with it far above anything else the card has to offer, I have to give credit where credit is due.
Usually, I do letter grades. This year, I’m not. The reason for that is because of last year being the first full year that I used number grades and percentages to score my reviews, the letter grades seem kind of unnecessary. I’d rather let the numbers speak for themselves.
Joint PPVs will be in black, Raw exclusive PPVs will be in red, Smackdown will be in blue, ECW will be in purple, and as a bonus, the new ones that I haven’t covered yet will be some color variation on the shade of the PPV color. You’ll see what I mean when I get there.
And now, 2005?s worst WWE Pay Per View…
This Year: [24%’> (last year N/A)
To quote directly from my review, ?The buzzword, or rather words, for New Year?s Revolution seem to be ?one match show?. I can’t blame anyone for saying that, because it was.? In early January, Raw decided they needed an excuse for an Elimination Chamber match, so they threw the rest of the undercard together. Eugene and Lita each blew out a knee in two consecutive matches. Shelton Benjamin then defeated Evil Maven in literally three seconds. Lawler beat Hassan with no commentary. Kane and Snitsky then wrestled an ungodly long, boring match. It might not have been all that long, but it felt like it.
It?s honestly a total shame that this comes in last place too, because the Elimination Chamber match was awesome. The build was excellent, the participants were a great lineup, and from start to finish the match was nearly flawless. But, I reiterate, that?s all this PPV had. Too bad for them I value the whole card of the PPVs I watch.
Highlights: Elimination Chamber
Show Stealer: Elimination Chamber @ [95%’>
This Year: [26%’>
Last Year: #14, [19%’>
Last year?s worst PPV doesn’t fall too far from the tree this year. The only thing that saves July?s Smackdown event from being the worst is the fact that NYR barely had an undercard. MNM and LOD were the only two TT?s on SD, and their match was DOA. Christian and Booker was nothing new. OJ beat Benoit for…some reason. Undertaker ?killed? Hassan (at the patriotism-themed PPV no less). A tacked-on Mexicools vs. bWo six-man tag had no angle and the bWo disappeared shortly after. Mysterio/Guerrero wasn’t as good this time as the other matches in their lengthy feud, but was still very good. Torrie and Melina ripped each other?s clothes off, and JBL and Batista fought over the belt in a slow and rather boring match. Not much stands out.
Highlights: Rey Mysterio vs. Eddy Guerrero
Show Stealer: Mysterio vs. Guerrero @ [68%’>
This Year: [30%’>
Last Year: #5, [50%’>
What a difference a year makes. The best Smackdown-exclusive PPV last year was one of 2005?s lowest. There was nothing horrible about February?s offering, but it was easily one of the least interesting cards of the year. The Bashams vs. Rey & Eddy opened the show and was one of the only good matches. Heidenreich and Booker was a throwaway, followed by a rushed and uneventful Cruiserweight battle royal. Meanwhile, Luther Reigns got in a decent brawl with Taker, while the ?Rookie Diva? competition shit up the show with filler.
What should?ve been the main event here was Angle vs. Cena, one of their better encounters and before Cena had become overexposed and invincible. But instead, the main was JBL vs. Show in a barbed wire steel cage, the titular barbed wire of which barely came into play during the match. It also was the worst match ending of the year, with Show impressively chokeslamming JBL through the mat, then JBL retaining by escaping the cage. Yes, in a match where escape wasn’t even technically an option. It was yet another example of JBL being a weak champion who could never get a ?normal? victory.
Highlights: Bashams vs. Mysterio & Guerrero; Angle vs. Cena
Show Stealer: Angle vs. Cena @ [80%’>
This Year: [42%’>
Last Year: #10, [42%’>
Wow, that?s weird. Two slots down, but the exact same Entertainment percentage. Despite my low ranking two years in a row, I still really hope they continue to do this because it?s a good concept. Raw?s November exclusive and fan-interactive show is one of my more in-depth ones in this column, so you’ll see a bit more detail going into the description here since I’ll do it match by match. And right off the bat I have to say it was incredibly surreal to hear Joey Styles on commentary all night for the first time. Surreal, but awesome. Good for him, for landing a job like that.
Interbrand: Snitsky/Masters vs. Mysterio/Hardy: I’d have probably picked those two from Smackdown (apologies to Christian). Shame Edge got hurt, the match would?ve likely been much better. Some inter-brand intrigue, but I don’t like Masters or Snitsky so that cut it down a bit. The convoluted double-referee thing was kind of dumb too. Otherwise decent, and nice of them to let the B-show win. [37%’>
Eugene/Superfly vs. Conway/Tomko: Given the OVW history between Conway and Dinsmore, I expected better. Usual comedy match to make the heels look like weak fools. Meh. Points for the nostalgic Superfly Splash. Honestly, given their personalities, Hacksaw and Eugene would?ve made a great permanent team. [8%’>
Carlito vs. Mankind: I had to laugh at Carlito supposedly in bigger trouble because fans chose Mankind over Cactus or Dude. Different persona, same body. Besides, wasn’t it decided in the HHH feud that Cactus was the most dangerous? Pretty good past-prime match for Foley, who?s in decent shape and still able to bump, but he really didn’t need the win. [60%’>
Tag Titles: Murdoch/Cade? vs. Show/Kane: It?s pretty random to form a team simply by default after the fans picked HBK for the main event, yeah, but KaneShow is actually a pretty cool team. I?ve always liked the idea of an unstoppable force team. They even had a pre-made tandem finisher. Match was okay. [50%’>
Street Fight: Coach vs. Batista: Alright seriously now, what the shit? Goldust? Vader? Goldust AND Vader? I don’t even know what?s going on, and I even read the show results leading up to this. Batista rules, but winning 3 on 1 was pretty lame. [10%’>
Diva Battle Royal: I fail to see the difference between ‘lingerie? and ‘leather & lace?. There was a lot of both in there. Oh Alexis, what have they done to you? Sigh, liked her better in TNA. Speaking of T?n?A, mostly eye candy filler, but I’m grading in terms of wrestling here. Though Mickie sacrificing herself for Trish was interesting. [5%’>
Cage Match: Ric Flair vs. Triple H: So it?s come to this, the final disintegration of Evolution. This could be Ric?s retirement match and I wouldn’t mind, as long as he won it. Obviously these two enjoy working with each other and are veteran enough to plan this out well. Great classic-style cage match, with a classic Flair blade job. Only major gripe is the escape ending, because both are better than that. [85%’>
WWE Title: Cena? vs. HBK vs. Angle: Very smart booking here. Usually I hate the formula of WWE triple threats, but this broke that almost entirely. All three were in the ring for a good portion of time, taking Cena out was a tandem drop through the announce table instead of just throwing him out of the ring, and then they let HBK/Angle brew for awhile, then it was all three pretty consistently until the end. Not too happy about the way Cena won it though, especially since he wasn’t much of a factor. [78%’>
Highlights: Flair vs. HHH; Cena vs. HBK vs. Angle; Fan interactive concept.
Show Stealer: Ric Flair vs. Triple H @ [85%’>
This Year: [44%’>
Last Year: #12, [21%’>
Nothing really special about Smackdown?s post-Wrestlemania event from May, in terms of build or delivery. MNM opened against the makeshift Holly & Haas team, Show?s match was supposed to be a singles against Carlito, but it turned into a handicap when Carlito added Matt Morgan. Then, the Wrestlemania Cruiserweight title match that got canned finally occurred when Paul London fought Chavo Guerrero in a very good encounter. Following that, Booker tangled with Kurt Angle, in one of Angle?s worst stories ever. Yeah, the ?I want nasty bestiality sex with your wife? feud. OJ and Heidenreich then put everyone to sleep, making me wonder who the hell decided to put those two against each other, and then just before the main, Rey and Eddy wrestled a clinic.
The main event ?I Quit? match between Cena and JBL wasn’t exactly up to par with what the stipulation implies. First off, there was no feeling at any point that Cena was going to lose, and second, JBL gave up at a really strange time, simply because Cena threatened to hit him with a huge pipe. Not good. But fortunately for this show, the undercard was slightly more solid than the shows below it.
Highlights: London vs. Chavo; Mysterio vs. Eddy Guerrero
Show Stealer: Mysterio vs. Guerrero @ [85%’>
This Year: [45%’>
Last Year: #7, [44%’>
Another odd comparison, last year?s was only 1% worse, but 3 whole slots upward. This time, Smackdown?s October exclusive was just sort of…ehh. Nothing really interesting going on, a thrown-together undercard, and uninspired feuds. Another in-depth review, as you didn’t see me review this one during the year.
LOD/Christy vs. MNM: This is the first match I watched after my hiatus. Way to bring me back into the fold, guys. MNM is fine, but LOD is a has-been and a never-was, and Christy?well, I’ll just point out that to win the match she first tried to pin Melina face-down. You do the math. [3%’>
Lashley vs. Simon Dean: Lashley?s fairly impressive. Too bad he blew the spot of throwing Dean onto his shoulder, because that would?ve looked really badass. Pretty much a squash, but I think it?s the first time I?ve ever seen cheeseburgers used in a match. So it?s at least got some originality points. [18%’>
US Title: Benoit? vs. Christian vs. Booker vs. OJ: The problem with this match solved itself at the end. The problem was that the feud over the belt should?ve just been Christian and Benoit, but the latter half of the match had Booker and OJ out of the ring so it was close enough. [55%’>
Ken Kennedy (Kennedy) vs. Hardcore Holly: They need to stop putting Baldcore against rookies in their debut PPV matches. I’m not sure if he was supposed to no-sell that wheel kick, but it looked bad. Pretty impressed by Kennedy as a natural born heel, and I rather enjoyed Sylvan?s beatdown of Holly after the match. [37%’>
JBL vs. Rey Mysterio: Much as I dislike JBL, I?ve always thought he and Rey work really well together. JBL?s so big and clumsy that it?s easy for Rey to run circles around him and make it look convincing. I’m not really sure what purpose Moley-Mole serves as JBL?s valet, but whatever. Decent. [45%’>
Casket Handicap: Undertaker vs. The Ortons: I love that Cowboy Bob is actually a manager now. Pretty good tension and some really nice back and forth action. And then, uh, attempted murder. What? No, seriously, attempted murder! The commentators brushed it off in literally two minutes! Good match, but the angle sours it for me, because angles like this are why I lost interest. [50%’>
Cruiserweight Title: Nunzio? vs. Juventud: Oh, the things that can happen when you actually put cruisers on PPV. Nunzio was kind of a forgotten champ despite his talent, and it seems like this is really the only thing the Mexicools have done so far worth noting. Juvi?s still a tad sloppy, but when he?s on, he does some really interesting stuff, like the northern lights suplex floatover to the Juvi Driver finish. [70%’>
WWE Title: Batista? vs. Eddy Guerrero: Looking back on this angle now really makes me wonder. Would Eddy have eventually turned heel again? Would he have gotten the belt? Yes, I know the plan was to hotshot the belt to Eddy after Batista hurt his back, but I’m talking about if he wasn’t injured. I did really like Batista subtly looking over his shoulder the way he did with Triple H, and I also really liked Eddy struggling to decide to wrestle clean. Batista winning with a spinebuster was a nice change of pace too. Good match, which goes to show that Batista is more than carryable, and that Eddy was great up until the end. [82%’>
Highlights: Nunzio vs. Juventud; Batista vs. Eddy Guerrero
Show Stealer: Batista vs. Guerrero @ [82%’>
This Year: [46%’>
Last Year: #13, [20%’>
A big leap up for the year-end December Smackdown show this year, as last year it was the second worst show, just barely ahead of GAB. Just about everything here, with one exception, was hovering around mediocre, so it?s fitting that the grade is just slightly worse than ‘meh?. Most of the build was either non-existent or cheesy, and the champion was still recovering from a back injury so there was no title defense.
JBL vs. Matt Hardy: Nick Patrick is still the worst referee ever. With Hardy?s neck caught in the ropes, he didn’t do jack shit when JBL kept hitting him except saying stuff like ?Hey, quit it!? Whatever. Hardy deserves better than a curtain-jerker with half a week of build. Hell, even JBL does. Hardy is convincing at getting his ass kicked, as usual. [42%’>
Mexicools vs. MNM: I don’t know whose idea it was to imbed scrolling LED panels that display their names into MNM?s coats, but that?s absolutely hilarious. It does bother me that this wasn’t for the titles, because this would?ve been a good showcase for the division. Surprised at the lack of ECW chants for both Mercury (Joey Matthews) and Super Crazy (uh, Super Crazy), but finally we get some great tag action. [90%’>
US Title, 4 of 7: Booker vs. Benoit: I think I’m bored with Booker because every feud is him vs. the same guy 100 times: IC vs. Christian, US vs. Cena, now US vs. Benoit best of 7, already done in WCW, and that time they were both in their primes. Decent match, but they were already feuding back when I was still watching regularly. Way to overdo a good thing. [45%’>
-Darth Maul beating up Santa Claus and making him eat worms. Okay, I?ve seen everything now.
Lashley vs. Regal & Burchill: The jury?s still out on Lashley; he?s got all the tools to be something good, but something about him just doesn’t ?click?. For one thing, he has no personality, and I think he needs a mouthpiece the same way Heyman got Lesnar over. I?ve been a Regal fan for awhile now, and Paul Burchill impresses me quite a lot, which is why this match pisses me off. There is NO reason why two tough-ass brawlers should be beaten by one rookie power wrestler. [17%’>
-Annnnnd Tim White blows his head off with a shotgun. So, moving on?wait, what? No, no, NO. We don’t just brush that off 10 seconds later by introducing Juvi in the next match, guys. What the Christ is going on? I think the writers are smoking crack. No, I’m serious, I actually, literally think the WWE writers are lighting up crack rocks before going into the writing room.
Cruiserweight Title: Juventud? vs. Kid Kash: Nice to see Kash in the big time, but damn they made him look generic. Maybe it?s the fact that they haven’t really established either of these guys as either characters with personalities, or as clear heels or faces, but this match took awhile to heat up, and then right when it finally did, it ended. Not bad though. [53%’>
Interbrand: Batista & Mysterio vs. Big Show & Kane: I do understand why they did this, because Batista is still recovering and couldn’t do a main event title defense. In that respect, this is a very good cover for that. However, I wish they could?ve thought of some alternative to giving Batista & Rey the tag belts just so they could have a champions vs. champions match. Not bad though, and I give big props to Batista for working injured. [60%’>
HIAC: Undertaker vs. Randy Orton: God, I heard the build for this match was bad, but I had no idea it was THIS bad. Orton hallucinating (which the audience can see too), cars driving themselves, and Josh Matthews being possessed!? And to top it all off, the shotgun suicide of a referee. Wow. WOW. I tried, guys. I really, honestly tried to get back into it. But where I could take it as a so-bad-it’s-good humorous angle before, presenting this seriously is just insulting my intelligence. I could probably brush it off, if it weren’t the main event.
If there were a rational way to explain the angle, like Taker?s got a lot of money and being a locker room leader has a lot of connections with the production and special effects crew, I could buy it. But not strange visions of Bob Orton bleeding. We?ve already got a Papa Shango 2005, and his name is Darth Ma– uh, I mean Boogeyman. This is worse than Kane vs. Shane, and easily is categorized as WrestleCrap.
Okay, so the match itself was a decent brawl. But was it worth making the Undertaker an actual powerful demon/zombie/whatever the hell he is now? Did anything so devastating it would drive a man to suicide happen in this match? The answer is a resounding ?no?. When you hype something up to the degree that demon possession and murder are main selling points, you had BETTER deliver, and this match really didn’t even need to be in a Cell. Aside from using the fences as face-graters, this match could?ve just as easily taken place in a cage. And that, folks, simply turns me off. [15%’>
Highlights: Mexicools vs. MNM
Show Stealer: Mexicools vs. MNM @ [90%’>
This Year: [50.6%’>
Last Year: #9, [43%’>
That 50.6% is to avoid a tie with the next one down. I don’t like tying scores in my column because I’m anal, okay? I think I say this every year, but whatever happened to the ?series? in ?Survivor Series?? What really makes me wonder about this traditional November interbrand PPV though, is how the hell they filled up three hours with the content they had. The matches didn’t really seem all that much longer than usual, and since the GM fight turned out to not really be a match (and since they’re not wrestlers), there were really only 5 matches on the card. Of a joint-brand PPV. Where, you know, both brands are supposed to show what they?ve got. Five matches. Total.
US Title, 1 of 7: Booker vs. Benoit: Right off the bat, Cole says Booker ‘literally screwed? Benoit. So Booker either raped him or drove screws into him, but either way I think it counts as assault. Honestly, see what I said in the Armageddon review. I’m a fan of both, but unless there?s something distinctly different in the booking of each match, it?s like watching it 7 times. [47%’>
Trish vs. Melina: Gotta love Styles and Tazz on commentary for this. They should call the full card of all joint PPVs. I haven’t seen much of Melina in singles, but I’m glad Trish has someone good other than Victoria to wrestle. This was actually really good, because they actually wrestled, and I was rather surprised by it. Probably the best WWE women?s match I?ve seen in a long time. [62%’>
Last Man Standing: HHH vs. Flair: A feud that could?ve/should?ve ended with Flair winning in a cage match. If they wanted a classic style feud, they probably shouldn’t have done this, but of course we can’t have Triple H losing a feud in the end, now can we? Ah well, it was good anyway, and I’ll never get tired of Styles screaming ?OH MY GOD?, even if it does take less to get him to do it nowadays. Just wondering though, shouldn’t Flair have known better than to let a sledge be anywhere near the ring? Unless that is, in a moment of hubris, he never expected Trips would use it on him. Yeah, I like that justification better. [70%’>
-As a side note, goddamn Edge?s first edition of The Cutting Edge was hilarious. I don’t even really watch sports, but calling Dmitri Young ?Mark Henry? busted me up laughing.
WWE Title: Cena vs. Angle?: Ahh, I can’t tell you how glad I am that when Daivari came back, they kept Hassan?s ?ALIEN AAAALIIIEENNN? music. Anyway, these two put on some great matches in the past, pre-invincible Cena. Unfortunately this one is less about wrestling and more about Cena screwjob, which is indicative of the nature of the product lately. This had like twelve ref bumps, and the booking ruined it for me. [37%’>
GM Fight: Bischoff vs. Long: Does this count as a cruiserweight match? And what the hell is Darth Maul doing attacking Bischoff, and where is his lightsaber? Waste of time. It wouldn’t have been a good match anyway, but at least it would?ve had a point (figuratively and literally). [0%’>
Raw vs. Smackdown Survivor Match: They sure made the hype for this look good. But you know, the lineups for each team really kind of shows how imbalanced the rosters are. I think they only included guys like Masters and Carlito on the Raw side to tone that down, because while there are several bigger name guys Raw could?ve picked, the SD team minus Lashley, and possibly plus Booker & Benoit are seriously all Smackdown has to offer (Taker doesn’t count since he?s gone most of the time). Realistically, wouldn’t it be a better idea to put all your champions on the team? Pretty good for a Survivor match, with a surprising order of elimination and a nice one-on-one ending. Orton looks like gold coming out of this, and by that I also mean I see a title reign in his near future, if only Taker would leave him alone, and stop beating up the whole roster. [88%’>
Highlights: Triple H/Flair; Raw/SD Survivor Match
Show Stealer: Raw vs. Smackdown Survivor Match @ [88%’>
This Year: [50.8%’>
Last Year: #2, [65%’>
…And that 0.2% difference is why I had a decimal percentage, you see. One of last year?s best, Raw?s post-Wrestlemania show from May drops a bit this time. This is more of a return to form, actually, because the product normally drops off in quality after Wrestlemania, whereas in 2004 Raw really kicked into high gear, with the two post-Wrestlemania Raw exclusives actually being better than Mania itself. In easily one of the best PPV matches of the year, Shelton Benjamin vs. Chris Jericho jerked the curtain AND stole the show. The Superheroes survived through a Turmoil match to capture their first tag titles. Edge and Benoit had a decent Last Man Standing match, while Kane and Big Vis was surprisingly just a smidgen better than ?suck?.
Just under the main event, HBK hooked up with Hogan for a tag match against Hassan & Daivari, which was really stupid because two veterans didn’t need the win, and HBK was the only one willing to bump for the opponents. Should?ve picked Jannetty. Batista and HHH had a rematch from Wrestlemania that was your typical Triple H match, to the point of being a stereotypical Triple H match. The only difference was that he didn’t use the sledge this time. Not what it could?ve been, much like most of this PPV.
Highlights: Benjamin vs. Jericho; Benoit vs. Edge
Show Stealer: Shelton Benjamin vs. Chris Jericho @ [95%’>
This Year: [53%’>
Last Year: #11, [35%’>
Yeah, so last year?s Summerslam sucked. This year?s joint August show was a tad better, but one point of interest is that it was my last full review column, as I tacked on two other reviews after it, and then didn’t do much else WWE-related for the rest of the year until this column, aside from my piece about Eddy. The reason is because Summerslam was very much a make-or-break show for me, as far as my interest in the product. They hyped it up like a supercard, the way things used to be for Summerslam, but it just sort of turned out to be much like any other show. OJ/Benoit opened with the first squash of many. Edge & Matt Hardy brought their grudge feud to…a really anticlimactic No Contest brawl. Eddy & Rey fought over the custody of Rey?s son in a ladder match that would?ve been good if not for the angle. Angle beat down Eugene to get his medals back. Orton and Taker continued their feud, which at the time nobody possibly could?ve realized would?ve dragged on until the end of the year.
In sort of a triple main event, first off, Jericho took on Cena in what was Jericho?s last shot at the belt before taking his time off, in a match that wasn’t what it could?ve been. JBL and Batista had a rematch, this time No DQ, which was slightly better because use of weapons covered the fact that they simply don’t work very well together. And then in the big main, which of course was bigger than either title match, Hogan came back and fought Shawn Michaels in ?one more match?, which actually ended up as something like 3 or 4 more matches. The hype for that one was gigantic, but Hogan was up to his old tricks again, and made HBK sell his ridiculous offense, then had the balls to publicly state that he carried HBK and made him look good. If I hadn’t before, I guess this was the year I officially turned full ?heel? on Hogan.
Highlights: Orton vs. Taker; Mysterio vs. Guerrero
Show Stealer: Mysterio vs. Guerrero custody ladder match @ [72%’>
This Year: [55%’>
Last Year: #6, [46%’>
One of the better Raw shows this year, June?s actually had a pretty good card. In the opening IC match between Shelton and Carlito, this was the first time I saw Carlito pulling his own weight in a major match. A very green Christy Hemme got her ass kicked by Victoria. This was also where Edge was kind of in limbo between his kayfabe Kane feud and real life, with fans starting to turn on him because of Hardy, and as a result of Kane getting yet another badly-written psycho angle, the match sucked.
On the bright side, Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle tangled again, in a match that wasn’t quite as good as their Wrestlemania match, but by no means bad. Cena, Christian, and Jericho had a triple threat for the WWE title, which of course was pushed to 2nd billing on the card due to a Triple H match. I mean hey, it?s Jericho and Christian in a title match, and who?s going to pay for that? Okay, I’m bitter, but I will concede that Triple H?s Hell in a Cell match against Batista was surprisingly very good, and a different twist on the HIAC format. I really liked how it was booked, and it became a good final sendoff to their feud. It?s also the first time in a LONG time, that I can ever remember Triple H completely losing a feud to somebody. While Big Dave certainly did some work himself, Trips really helped build Batista into a major interesting character this year.
Highlights: Angle vs. Michaels; Cena vs. Christian vs. Jericho; Batista vs. HHH
Show Stealer: Batista vs. Triple H, Hell in a Cell @ [95%’>
This Year: [59%’>
Last Year: #8, [43%’>
January?s usual joint PPV yielded a fairly solid card with a couple weak points, but what we got was quality. Looking back at the numbers, this and the next two were incredibly close in terms of quality, with only production and build separating the three, respectively. The card started off with Michaels vs. Edge, which I thought was very good, but it shouldn’t have been the end to their feud so in retrospect I enjoy it a little less. They had a pretty good feud going for awhile, and they just never really had a proper blowoff because Michaels moved on to Angle after this. There was a terrible Taker/Heidenreich casket match (remember THAT feud?), and who knew we’d have two casket matches this year?
In the main events, JBL, Angle, and Show had a triple threat that wasn’t anything special, a HHH/Orton battle that started the short-lived Orton concussion angle (which was an excellent showcase of Orton?s selling ability), but also was nothing special, and then there was the Rumble itself. Benoit and Guerrero started out in an awesome moment, and the pace remained steady for quite awhile. I almost rated it as a 100% match except that I didn’t really like the last 10 minutes or so of it. All the big men were saved for the final 10, and the two favorites of Batista and Cena were in the final 5 entries. Otherwise, it came off very well and was very enjoyable.
Highlights: Edge vs. Michaels; Royal Rumble match
Show Stealer: Rumble match @ [95%’>
This Year: [59.4%’>
Last Year: #3, [54%’>
By only 0.4%, April?s ?big one? takes the Bronze, beating out the Rumble mainly because of production and presentation value, but also because of some great matches. I mentioned it in my WM column, but this year?s Mania just didn’t really feel like a Wrestlemania to me. There was the high production value and everything, but the card didn’t feel all that much more important than other cards during the year, and I still look back on it feeling that way. It certainly wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the bigass extravaganza it usually attempts to be. Rey/Eddy, tag partners at the time, squared off in the opening ?we’re still friends at this point? battle. A great 6-man ladder match had Edge coming out with a guaranteed title shot. Trish defended against Christy Hemme, who was…haha, ‘trained by Lita?. Hahahahah. And uh, Big Show lost to sumo champion Akebono in a sumo match, and we all had to see way more of Show?s ass than we ever wanted to.
The bigger story of the card was easily the Michaels/HBK dream match, which absolutely did not disappoint me in the least. In my review, I said ?What I expected was a technical show-stealing masterpiece, and as far as I’m concerned that?s what we got.? I once wrote a column calling Angle ‘the next Shawn Michaels?, with the sentiment that Angle will be looked back upon on the same level as HBK, and I still feel that way. Afterward, Cena beat JBL for the belt in like 10 minutes after a much-hyped feud, and Batista?s final turn from Evolution and Triple H was finally culminated in a much more interesting instance of a Heavyweight title belt changing hands.
Highlights: Rey vs. Eddy; ?Money in the Bank? ladder match; first Orton/Taker match; Angle vs. Michaels; Triple H vs. Batista
Show Stealer: Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels @ [100%’>
This Year: [60%’>
Last Year: #4, [53%’>
Where Wrestlemania only slightly topped the Rumble due to presentation, September?s Raw PPV slightly beat out the ?granddaddy? to take the Silver because of a very solid card. First off, Ric Flair won his first Intercontinental title ever, and landed the axehandle off the top for the first time in a long time. There was a surprisingly good Diva tag match that featured Victoria & Torrie vs. Trish & Ashley, which wasn’t bad mostly because Torrie stayed out of it. The only bad match on the card was Show vs. Snitsky, and of course I blame Snitsky. Following that, Chavo/Kerwin took on Shelton Benjamin in a nearly show-stealing encounter, while the real show-stealer of Matt Hardy and Edge in a cage was one of the most exciting matches of the year. Seriously, it had just about everything the fans could?ve asked for. A Twist of Fate on Lita, a win by Hardy, a definitive pinfall after a huge V1 Legdrop from the top of the cage, and perhaps best of all, comeuppance, revenge, and absolute payoff. Later, Cade & Murdoch captured the tag titles on their debut against Hurricane & Rosey, followed up by Chris Masters showing a hint of substance against HBK. Cena/Angle for the title wasn’t the greatest thing, but it wasn’t bad. Unfortunately it was marred by an overbooked DQ ending. But damn, how about that cage match?
Highlights: Kerwin vs. Shelton; Hardy vs. Edge; Cena vs. Angle
Show Stealer: Matt Hardy vs. Edge, cage match @ [100%’>
And now, the best Pay Per View of the year, which technically wasn’t a WWE Pay Per View at all, but I’m counting it because it was WWE-produced and featured mainly WWE wrestlers…
This Year: [76%’> (last year N/A)
Taking the Gold is June?s re-emergence of ECW for one last(?) time, putting together everything under the wing of Paul Heyman once again, as an incredible treat to the fans. I didn’t put this in the top slot because I’m a drooling ECW fanboy. Okay, well, I didn’t put it in the top slot JUST because I’m a drooling ECW fanboy. It was, legitimately, pound for pound, the best PPV I can remember seeing. It was marred only by the appearance of a WWE angle, which they even addressed in shoot comments directly on the PPV itself, saying they just couldn’t let ECW have one night to themselves without a ?storyline?. The whole WWE invasion was wholly unnecessary, though it did make them the butt of plenty of jokes and allowed Raw/SD stars to be on the receiving end of a beatdown at the end. The only other things really missing were Raven, Lynn, and Corino, and there?s always 2006 for that, should they decide to do this again (and they should).
It was chock full of good-to-great matches, nothing scored below 60%, and even the 60% was mostly because Mysterio and Psicosis can’t really work Lucha style anymore. That?s RARE nowadays that a PPV is that high quality, and it?s surprising that WWE themselves weren’t taking notes from it. To their credit though, WWE produced the show, they arranged for it to happen, they LET these guys do their thing, and they gave Heyman the ball to run with. But for me to cop a true ECW-esque attitude here, it still beat the shit out of anything WWE had to offer this year.
Starting out was a really good technical match between ?Lionheart? Chris Jericho, and Lance Storm in his last match which featured a reunion of the Impact Players. The Three Way Dance between Guido, Super Crazy, and Tajiri was very nice although Crazy was really the only one it focused on, especially hitting an incredible balcony dive on the entire FBI. Psicosis and Mysterio hit some nice highspots but it seems they’re a little rusty with the style they were trying to work. Rhyno took on Sabu in a match that proved Sabu?s certainly not dead, with a really impressive finish. Benoit vs. Guerrero wasn’t quite what they’re capable of either, but I don’t think Eddy?s heart was into it and it wasn’t supposed to be epic anyway. And then there was Masato Tanaka vs. Mike Awesome, which elicited the chant ‘this match rules? from the crowd, something I have to agree with. A spotfest, yeah, but they actually added in transitional moves and wrestling, and every spot was insane. The Dudleys against Dreamer & Sandman was a clusterfuck trash brawl of a main event, but it fit completely within the mood of the show so it was fun anyway. Intersperse that with awesome promos, really heartfelt emotion, and some deeply-digging shoot comments, and you have the best PPV of the year.
Really WWE, we must do this again sometime.
Highlights: The Whole Fuckin? Show! (I had to say it)
Show Stealer: Awesome vs. Tanaka @ [100%’>
15) Raw – New Year?s Revolution [24%’>
14) SD – Great American Bash [26%’>
13) SD – No Way Out [30%’>
12) Raw – Taboo Tuesday [42%’>
11) SD – Judgment Day [44%’>
10) SD – No Mercy [45%’>
9) SD – Armageddon [46%’>
8) WWE – Survivor Series [50.6%’>
7) Raw – Backlash [50.8%’>
6) WWE – Summerslam [53%’>
5) Raw – Vengeance [55%’>
4) WWE – Royal Rumble [59%’>
3) WWE – Wrestlemania [59.4%’>
2) Raw – Unforgiven [60%’>
1) ECW – One Night Stand [76%’>
2005 Raw MVPs:
1) Shawn Michaels: HBK does it again. No matter who he?s feuding with, he makes them look better. Does he deserve another title run? Maybe, but if he wants to pass the torch, so be it, and all the more respect for it.
2) Edge: This is the year I finally warmed up to Edge. His heel turn did absolute wonders for him, so he should probably thank Matt Hardy for hating him so much. Who knew Lita screwing up could lead to so much good?
3) Triple H: Let 2005 be known as the year that Triple H decisively lost a main event feud. He stayed out of the title picture after Wrestlemania, he actually put over a few people, and he produced some top quality matches, even if we’re sick of him.
-Honorable Mention: Kurt Angle, who remained consistent throughout the year. It?s not his fault, but I just didn’t find him quite as interesting as my top 3 unless he was fighting Michaels.
-Most Improved: A coincidental tie goes to both Big Show and Kane, who I think found their niche as an unstoppable tag team late in the year. Show floundered after switching shows, and Kane was making a comeback, but they ended up as champions.
2005 Smackdown MVPs:
1) Eddy Guerrero: Last year?s #1 as well, and this isn’t just a posthumous award to give him tribute; Eddy really did work his ass off in 2005. In fact, tragically, he may have worked so hard that it killed him.
2) Batista: Kudos to the man for holding onto the top spot against all odds. We all said he’d fall off the map, and he didn’t. While not all of his feuds were top-notch, he remained interesting and a cool-ass character, and continues to work through injury.
3) Rey Mysterio: From tagging in Latino Heat to feuding with Latino Heat, Rey was a double tag champ with different partners. Now let?s see about a singles belt in 2006, shall we?
-Honorable Mention: Chris Benoit, who in my mind became undisputed king of the midcard this year. Yeah, he deserves the main event slot, but he dominated the US division, and made the belt look like it was worth something.
-Most Improved: Sylvan. Yep, you read that right. Seen him lately? He?s improved drastically in the ring, his gimmick is his real occupation, and his new finisher rules. Keep an eye on this guy.
Mark?s Most Wanted: (scored 100%)
Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels @ Wrestlemania
Matt Hardy vs. Edge, cage match @ Unforgiven
Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka @ One Night Stand
Mark?s Most Hated: (scored 0%)
Jerry Lawler vs. Muhammad Hassan @ New Year?s Revolution
Gene Snitsky vs. Kane @ New Year?s Revolution
Shelton Benjamin vs. Evil Maven @ New Year?s Revolution
Rookie Diva Competition @ No Way Out
Orlando Jordan vs. Heidenreich @ Judgment Day
Interesting to note that the three 100% matches were on the top 3 PPVs, and that 3 of the worst matches of the year were all on the same card of the worst PPV of the year.
…and that?s 2005 in a nutshell.
Let me get one thing straight, for those who have been asking: No, I’m not retiring. I don’t really see the point of outright ‘retiring? from the site, even if I have no immediate plans to write anything. I had no plans to write my last column about Eddy Guerrero?s death either, and yet I wrote it because the mood struck me after seeing people?s reactions. So I will say this much: I’m probably going on at least a sabbatical from writing.
Lately I just haven’t been interested in much wrestling, and at this point I feel like continuing this into January and beyond in 2006 is going to be a bigger chore than it?s probably worth, since I doubt I’m going to be reviewing what comes next. Unless something big happens that sucks me back into it, you’re probably not going to see a review column from me for awhile. I feel that after doing these since late 2000, consistently I might add, that on roughly the 5 year anniversary and the 6th annual column of its kind is as good a time to bow out gracefully as any, at least as far as reviewing every single match of every single PPV of the year is concerned. Fear not though; as I said I’m not officially retiring, but I’ll be a tad more sporadic than usual. Blame the cyclical nature of the business if you want; because hey, that?s what Triple H usually does.
Some might say I?ve grown out of it, but maybe I?ve just grown to the point where I can tell that Vince McMahon?s ‘marketing genius? isn’t necessarily the same thing as being an actual ?genius?. 2005 WWE is living proof that you can be on top of the world and still make utterly retarded decisions.
So I?ve come to a little agreement with myself: I’m no longer going to watch WWE programming live anymore. I will make an effort to catch the PPVs, and I will read results when I get the chance, but as for individual shows, I will only watch them if I read the results and the show sounds good. While catching up with results, Edge?s recent segment with Michael Hayes caught my eye, so I downloaded it and I thought it was great. That?s basically what I’ll be doing from now on. If a show sounds good on paper, I’ll watch it. Otherwise, they?ve all but lost me.
As for other federations, I?ve been meaning to get into TNA Impact lately now that it?s on TV, and I also have a (hopefully) steady source for Dragon Gate tapings. I heart Toryumon, so that?s good news.
I’m not sure when you’ll be hearing from me again, but this doesn’t automatically mean this is the last Year in Pay Per ReView. If I happen to get back into it during the year, I may possibly do one at the end of 2006. The difference will be that I won’t have the numbers to necessarily back me up, but I?ve only been doing that for a year now, so I can always go back to my old format if I feel the urge to write it. See you around.
Mark (over and) out.