Happy Saturday Everyone!
I remember this show being good so I’ve decided to watch it to see if it holds up. Big matches are a Fatal Four Way for the Smackdown Title, whilst Ken Kennedy wrestles The Undertaker and Chavo Guerrero Jr wrestles Rey Mysterio Jr on the under card.
The show is emanating from Raleigh, North Carolina on the 8th of October 2006
Calling the action are Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield
We get an opening video package focusing on how King Booker has been ruling Smackdown with an iron fist but Teddy Long has been messing with him recently by booking him in a Fatal Four Way. It’s a good video that gets across how Booker is an insufferable Heel who now has the deck stacked against him.
WWE Cruiserweight Champ Gregory Helms Vs Matt Hardy
Helms had dropped The Hurricane gimmick for a more serious persona and had quickly won the Cruiser belt earlier in the year. However, rather than have Helms feud with other Cruiserweights they instead had him feud with Hardy, who hadn’t been a Cruiserweight since the first half of the decade. The two of course had known each other for many years and had wrestled each other on the indies prior to coming to WWE, so the feud made sense in that respect, but if he was going to be feuding with a Heavyweight then Helms didn’t need the Cruiserweight belt.
Oh I can slap a tornado; I can dry up a sea! I do enjoy Hardy’s theme music. This is a good match and a solid way to open the show, as both men have chemistry together as opponents and the crowd is into Hardy, so the match flows nicely and the crowd makes some good noise. Hardy gets the babyface shine to start but ends up taking a Ukrainian Leg Sweep off the second rope for the cut off, leading to the Heel heat segment from Helms. Helms delivers some nice believable offence during the heat with things like kicks and knees, and Hardy sells it well.
Hardy eventually gets a reverse DDT and makes the comeback, which looks good and the crowd gets into it. Hardy’s bogey coloured green pants are a bit off-putting, but aside from that he’s come across well in this one and the crowd reactions have made him look like a big deal. Both men trade victory attempts, with the crowd getting into the near falls. Helms is given a good chunk of offence and is made to look like a dangerous opponent, especially when he gives Hardy three successive neck breakers. However, Hardy weathers the storm and Twist of Fate finally ends it to a big pop. The finish was a good call back as well as Helms went for a punt to the knackers on Hardy, which he’d used before in a previous match, but this time Hardy was ready for it and he blocked it.
WINNER: MATT HARDY
This was a lot of fun, with the near falls being executed well and the finish not only being a satisfying clean pin but it also called back to previous events in the storyline. The crowd really added to it as well, as they loved Hardy and it gave the match a good atmosphere
King Booker asks William Regal to find Fit Finlay in order to get the Northern Irishman back on side in time for the Main Event later on. As usual, Booker was very entertaining here with his King gimmick, it’s just a shame his matches were usually pretty dull.
Smackdown Tag Team Titles
Champs: Hooligan Z (Paul London and Brian Kendrick) w/ Ashley Vs Idol Stevens and KC James w/ Michelle McCool
Stevens would go on to become Damien Sandow. Apparently there’s a funny story where James was warming up backstage one night and Vince McMahon walked past, did a double take and then boomed “Hey! Somebody sign this kid, he looks great”. James found this quite disheartening as he was not only signed but already on TV by that point! As for the team with Idol, it was really just a vehicle to get McCool over and they wouldn’t last that long before getting returned to development. To be fair, they probably weren’t ready yet at this stage, but it was nice to see new people get a chance at least.
Hooligan Z get the quick paced tag shine to start with double team moves, and it’s fun stuff. Idol and James aren’t as good as the Champs are, but they are usually in the right place when it comes to bumping and feeding for the Champs and they keep their offence simple when they have control. Both teams work the standard tag formula, with London getting cut off and worked over in the challenger’s corner, and it works well for the most part, with the crowd getting behind London whilst he plays babyface in peril.
Idol and James actually show off some decent personality at points, James especially, and they might have had potential if they’d gotten a chance for some more seasoning. In a company where tag wrestling was considered more important they probably would have been steadily built up so that they had more chance to grow into the role. Sadly WWE in 2006 was not really the promotion for that. They actually do some good false hot tag spots as well, with London being excellent in his role as he comes close numerous times.
Kendrick does eventually get the hot tag and he runs wild, looking good in the process. Again, to their credit, Idol and James are where they need to be and the match doesn’t fall apart. In fact, the finishing stretch is actually quite good, with James getting a Superplex on Kendrick at one stage for a near fall. Ashley and McCool eventually get involved, with McCool almost aiding her charges to a tainted victory but Kendrick manages to kick out of James’ cover. McCool’s top ends up having some issues so Ashley attacks her to seemingly cover for it, which allows the Champs to finish off James back inside the ring.
WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: HOOLIGAN Z
This was a good tag match, where they worked the formula and everyone did what they needed to do. They also had the spot for the managers to get involved as well and you could have conceivably done further matches between the two following this as the challengers got enough offence to look credible
William Regal is looking for Finlay, but he ends up stumbling across Big Vito who is skipping in a dress, because WWE. Regal is disgusted by this and then ends up colliding with a member of the writing team who has nachos and the like with him. The writer ended up getting covered in muck as well and he didn’t have a change of clothes with him so he ended up getting chewed out by Undertaker on the plane ride back for being unprofessional even though he didn’t know he was going to be involved in this until he got there. Ah, WWE eh?
Teddy Long joins us with a present for The Miz. Miz was supposed to be a bayface at the time I think, although he was so annoying that he was soon a Heel in no time. There’s a cake there and, and as its pro wrestling I think we can all guess what’s going to happen there. Teddy tells Miz that Layla El is here as a birthday surprise as Miz had been hitting on her recently. El asks for a chair and teases that Miz is going to get a lap dance, but of course that’s not exactly how it works out, as El puts a blindfold on Miz and then reveals the half-naked greasy guy that would show up during this period (please don’t ask), which leads to Miz freaking out when the blindfold is removed. Miz bails following that and surprisingly the cake survives the ordeal. This was a silly skit but everyone performed their respective roles well and it ended up being fun.
Montel Vontavious Porter Vs Marty Garner
They had been teasing MVP’s debut for weeks and now he’s here and working an enhancement talent. It’s meant to be deliberately disappointing, with even Heel commentator JBL complaining about it, which was an interesting approach but they eventually pivoted to MVP actually being good and not overhyped.
The fans chant “Power Ranger” in reference to MVP’s ring gear, as he clobbers his ultra-skinny by WWE standards opponent. Garner does take some very nice bumps for MVP, but the crowd quickly turns on the match because they feel cheated, which again is kind of the point, but I’m not sure if it eventually rolls over into being bad heat instead of good heat. MVP eventually gets the Play of the Day/Overdrive and that’s enough for the three count.
I’m not sure how to feel about that as it wound up the fans, but you could argue it did so in the wrong way. They eventually switched direction with MVP a bit which suggests WWE agreed
William Regal is having a shower to make up for getting covered in Nacho remains. Vito is there as well though and he makes fun of Regal’s pecker, which leads to Regal bailing from the locker room whilst naked, which causes Teddy Long to book Regal in a match later. Regal was superbly entertaining here, and Vito wasn’t bad in his role either.
WWE United States Champion Mr. Kennedy……..KENNEDY Vs The Undertaker
This came about as Kennedy complained that he’d beaten everyone on Smackdown and had no challengers left, so GM Teddy Long decided to book him against Undertaker. This wasn’t the first or last time that Kennedy’s big mouth would get him in trouble, both on screen and off. Kennedy did cut some very good promos in this feud though, possibly some of the best in his career, with one of them being so good it actually made me want to buy Survivor Series 2006 at the time in order to see Undertaker kill him in a First Blood match.
They get 20 minutes to work with here, which is to the match’s benefit as it means they can really settle in and tell a story. Undertaker gets the shine to start, working over Kennedy’s arm, with Kennedy selling it well for the most part, although he does go a bit over the top with it at certain points, which was a regular criticism of his work. Still, it’s probably better to see someone oversell than undersell. Overselling might look a bit silly, but it does at least suggest that your opponent is actually hurting you, whilst underselling makes them look ineffective.
Kennedy eventually manages to counter the Old School by dragging Taker back down into the ring, leading to Kennedy working Taker over with punches and stomps. Kennedy gets extra points for selling his arm during this though, which allows Undertaker to kick him there to regain the advantage before actually delivering the Old School this time. The fake out cut off can be pretty effective, and it worked there. Kennedy undoes one of the turnbuckle pads, but it doesn’t come into play yet and both men keep wrestling, however a seed has been planted for later.
They work this in a back and forth manner, with Kennedy getting some periods of offence until Undertaker manages to regain control. The ebb and flow almost works better than them working the basic formula, as it makes the match have its own flavour and gives it more of a feeling of a real contest. Kennedy gets a decent amount of offence in and the match does do a decent job of elevating him, especially as the match wears on and the crowd begins to think that Kennedy could actually win. Both men work pretty well together and the match is smartly constructed.
Kennedy does finally manage to cut Undertaker off and work him over for a bit, getting a piledriver before going to a modified sleeper hold. They don’t just let anyone deliver piledrivers in WWE, so that was a great sign of respect and trust from Undertaker that he let Kennedy hit the move on him. Undertaker eventually manages to make the comeback, getting clotheslines in the corner followed by the Snake Eyes. Kennedy survives that though and then grabs the ref in order to block a Choke Slam, although Undertaker gets it on the second attempt.
However, they finally use the exposed buckle from earlier as Kennedy uses some confusion between Taker and the ref to ram Taker’s head into it before heading up top with the Kenton Bomb for two in a great near fall. The crowd thought that might be it there, and honestly it probably should have been. Kennedy decides to try using the US Title belt following that, but the referee stops him. Undertaker then picks up the belt and clobbers Kennedy with it for a lame DQ finish after what had been a good match up to that point.
WINNER BY DQ: KENNEDY
That finish was like having a delicious meal but then accidentally biting your tongue on the last mouthful, thus spoiling the overall experience somewhat. They were doing rematches between the two and thus they wanted the result to be screwy in order to necessitate that, but this match was really crying out for a pin fall finish, especially after they’d dedicated 20 minutes to it. The finish took away a bit from what was a good attempt at elevating Kennedy, as the crowd got into the match and Kennedy looked impressive. If they’d just given Kennedy a pin fall victory then this would have likely been rated higher
Undertaker attacks referee Charlies Robinson and Kennedy following the bout in order to get his heat back and keep the feud going. This would have probably been more effective if he was getting his revenge following a pin fall loss though.
Falls Count Anywhere
Chavo Guerrero Jr w/ Vickie Guerrero Vs Rey Mysterio Jr
Chavo, bitter over Rey winning the World Title in the honour of his Uncle Eddy when he himself had failed to do similar, had turned on Rey during the summer and Vickie had soon hitched herself to his wagon, thus heating the feud up further. At the time a lot of fans felt uneasy about Vickie becoming a part of the storyline, but she made good money from it and it helped support her family during a tough time. It felt like a pretty disgusting promotional tactic at the time though. It was bad enough using Eddy Guerrero for storyline purposes after his death but doing it in this manner just left a sour taste in the mouth.
They have a good brawl here, with elements of lucha getting worked into it at points, making it an interesting and fun tussle. There’s good intensity to it as well, with both men getting across the idea well that they don’t like one another. Chavo and Rey have always had solid chemistry together and this bout is just a continuation of that with some more brawling elements worked in, including a moment where they fight up the ramp and Rey grabs onto the entrance way to block a Chavo move before swinging off into a rana for two. That was nicely done and an inventive looking spot that made good use of the stipulation.
Both wrestlers fight all over the arena, giving this one an ECW-like feel, and neither guy is afraid to take some big bumps into the scenery. Rey in particular takes a Gory Bomb onto the barricades and also takes a stiff clothesline out amongst the seats. I wasn’t sure these two would have this sort of match in them actually as it’s totally counter to how they usually wrestle, but they’ve worked it well and it’s been quite impressive to see them adapt. Rey dives off one of the barricades at one stage with a cross body and that gets the three, although Chavo’s shoulders weren’t down at first and that caused a delay in the count.
WINNER: REY JR
This was a good brawl from two guys you don’t normally associate with brawling
Rey wants him some more of Chavo following that but Vickie plays human-shield and Rey backs off. They would have an I Quit match on Smackdown following this where Chavo would win and put Rey out of action until SummerSlam 2007. Rey would then get his revenge following that show by winning an I Quit rematch.
Cole and JBL talk about how much Chavo and Rey hate one another. They’re putting effort into getting the feud over at least, even if it was a feud that not a lot of people actually wanted to see.
William Regal Vs Chris Benoit
Benoit had been storyline injured by Mark Henry earlier in the year when in reality he’d been given some time off in order to rest up his body. Sadly it didn’t do his already destroyed brain any good though, which led to tragic results less than a year after this show. Regal and Benoit always enjoyed wrestling one another, although I do have to ponder what Long would have done in kayfabe if he hadn’t have caught Regal in the corridor with his John Thomas hanging out? I’m guessing Benoit would have just had to wait until Smackdown to make his return?
Benoit gets a good reaction for his return, as he was firmly entrenched in the upper mid-card by this stage of his career and retained a decent level of overness from now until the end. They have a great technical wrestling bout here, with both men trading holds and stiff strikes. If technical style isn’t really your jam then you might not enjoy it, but I love that sort of wrestling so this is right up my ally, although I could do without some of the stiff shots above the neck. The crowd doesn’t go nuts for the match but you can tell that they are watching it and this is probably a good match to follow up that brawl we just saw. Variety is the spice of life after all.
They deliver some nasty looking head butts at one stage, which leads to Regal bleeding. That was a spot the two would regularly do together, with the idea being that they would head butt one another until one of them started bleeding. Yeah, considering how Benoit ended up that sort of thing isn’t as “cool” as it might have seemed back in 2006, and that’s before you begin talking about what happened to Katsuyori Shibata following a brutal head butt he delivered in a bout with Okada. Regal eventually manages to cut Benoit off and work some heat, with Benoit tenaciously fighting back.
I know some of the stiff strikes to the head area have made me feel a bit queasy here, but the match has been a really good believable looking battle, with both wrestlers making every action they do mean something. There’s been no wasted motion and they’ve never strayed from trying to keep the bout looking like a real fight between two people who are trying to out wrestle one another. Outside of a few iffy shots to the head, this one has been a template for how to work a realistic looking wrestling match. You could honestly show this match to aspiring wrestlers as a teaching aid (even when it comes to things they should avoid doing).
Both wrestlers fight for their respective submission holds, and they don’t really even do a proper finishing sequence either, as Benoit catches Regal with a release German Suplex and then fights for a good minute in order to apply the Crippler Crossface, and when he does Regal immediately uncles in order to give Benoit the clean submission win. I loved that actually, as in a real fight you don’t normally get a long drawn out finishing sequence. Usually a guy just gets a hold or a knock out and it’s over. Benoit had his hold and once he got it locked in it was over.
WINNER: CHRIS BENOIT
Believable hard-hitting technical wrestling, although I could have done without some of the shots to the head
King Booker wants to know what Regal has been up to. Was he not watching the monitors? Fit Finlay shows up and says that he’s here to win the belt tonight. Booker blames Regal for this, so Regal slaps him!
Meanwhile, Batista and Bobby Lashley have a tense face off backstage.
Champ: King Booker w/ Queen Sharmell Vs Fit Finlay Vs Bobby Lashley Vs Batista
Booker and Finlay had been united, but Finlay now wants to go for the belt and that has caused dissension in the ranks. Lashley and Batista were both babyfaces that respected one another, but it’s everyman for himself here and neither will go easy on the other. Apparently they only booked this as a Fatal Four Way the week before the show, so I’m guessing they thought the original Main Event of Booker Vs Lashley wasn’t enough to draw on its own so they added Finlay and Batista? It’s a shame as we could have got an all African-American Main Event, which would have been cool as you don’t get that all the time (I think Booker Vs Rock was the first time WWF/E did that right?).
This is the usual multi-man match, with all four guys going at it and trying to pick their spots. Booker and Finlay do start working together at points, with Booker thinking that Finlay will be loyal to him now. However, Finlay is of course biding his time and eventually goes after his buddy when the opportunity arises. It’s a good story though, even if the fans might think it perhaps a bit unlikely that Finlay will win the belt. Lashley looks good in this one, as he hits his big power moves and the crowd gets into his explosive offence. He was still pretty green at this stage in his career but he was showing real potential, a potential he wouldn’t really realise until he left WWE in 2007 and starting working for TNA/Impact.
Booker and Finlay take it in turns to throw one of the babyfaces out of the ring and then work the remaining Face over back inside, which essentially doubles up as our Heel heat segment portion of the bout. Booker and Finlay do finally implode, with Finlay giving Booker a clothesline and then going after him inside the ring whilst nipping outside to make Batista and Lashley don’t come back into the ring to derail his momentum. Again it tells a good story, with Finlay desperately trying to put Booker away before the other two can stop him whilst Booker desperately tries to hang on until he can be rescued.
Batista and Lashley eventually manage to get back into the ring and start getting in some moves of their own, which leads to them battling with one another at points as well. I don’t think they ever did that as a big pay per view singles match did they? Lashley did have a very good match with Cena on pay per view in 2007 though. Hornswoggle eventually shows up and tries to help his dar pick up the victory via a low blow, but Lashley is able to survive being pinned thanks to Booker making the save at the last moment. The crowd did kind of bite on that near fall and it was probably the most heat the match has had thus far.
The crowd has felt a bit flat for this one actually, but the match itself has been fine and they do eventually start getting more invested when Batista starts putting a run of offence together, especially when he tries to fire them up. Batista and Lashley have the big dramatic face off, with Batsita getting an immediate Spear in a cute spot for two. Batista ends up bleeding somehow and I’m not even sure how that happened. It looks like it’s coming from the top of the head so I’m guessing it was hard way. This was back when blood was allowed in WWE though so they just keep going and referee Nick Patrick doesn’t even put those special gloves on.
We head into Finisher Madness™ not too long after Batista starts bleeding, with everyone coming in to hit a big move for a near fall, with either the opponent kicking out or someone breaking up the pin at the last moment. It’s generally exciting stuff, with Booker turning it up in comparison to his usual rather pedestrian Heel work. The finishing sequence is done pretty smoothly, with everyone being where they need to be when it comes to counters and dodged attacks, with Batista eventually running wild on everyone with Spine Busters. Batista Bomb to Finlay follows but Lashley takes out Batista with a Spear with his last offensive move and Booker steals the pin on Finlay.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: KING BOOKER
This was a good multi-man Main Event. The crowd weren’t really with it to start but they were enjoying the action by the end and the finish gave Booker a way to win without making either of the babyfaces look bad as Lashley’s big move took both Batista and himself out of the equation, thus allowing Booker to pick the bones in classic Heel style
Booker and Sharmell celebrate in the aisle whilst Batista looks on upset. I believe Batista would soon defeat Booker for the belt so this was a way of delaying it that little bit longer without making Batista also do a job.
This is a good show and definitely worth a watch, as almost every match delivered something watchable and even the goofy non-wrestling segments with Regal and The Miz had some comedic charm to them. There wasn’t that one classic blow away match or anything, but a lot of good to great action and it’s a very reasonable use of 150 minutes if you happen to want to stick a show on.