The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
Armageddon: Recap & Analysis!!
The Kingfish Arnie Katz reports on what happened at Armageddon and looks at the Meaning of It All!.
Unlike all too many pay per views, Armageddon actually delivered more than it seemed to promise. The major matches turned out very well and there was a title change to serve as a climax to the night’s entertainment.
It’s not a card-of-the-year candidate, but fans got reasonable value for the PPV subscription. That has got to be a good sign.
Let’s look at the show…
Jack Korpella presides over a pre-show that emphasized John Cena–Chris Jericho and the Triple Threat match for the WWE title.
The Intercontinental Championship tournament to select a challenger for William Regal’s gold got a lot of emphasis. Besides the obligatory video, the pre-show offered lengthy versions of the Mysterio-Kingston and Punk-Morrison matches from the tournament.
The Kingfish Comments: This was one of the best pre-shows WWE has put together in some time. The match excerpts made it a lot more interesting, especially to those who don’t follow RAW the closely.
They showed Rey Mysterio’s semi-final match against Kofi Kingston, but went with CM Punk versus John Morrison instead of the Punk-Snitsky semi-final. Morrison-Punk was a much better match and, besides, WWE released Snitsky this week.
Armageddon from Buffalo, NY, opened with a video that drew parallels between the idea of a battle at the end of days and WWE’s December pay per view.
The Kingfish Comments: WWE needed a really original and imaginative opening to tie together the elements of this show. What they did was phone it in with an opening video that somehow tried to cast this show as a titanic clash between Good and Evil.
Vladimir Kozlov d. Matt Hardy
The Story: Vladimir Kozlov was sailing along toward winning the WWE Championship when he hit a sand bar. Now he has a chance to prove that he belongs among the top wrestlers in WWE, but Matt Hardy won’t lie down and surrender.
My Prediction: WWE pushed Kozlov into the WWE Championship picture prematurely and the fans rejected the idea. WWE pushed some more and the fans became even more vehement. This is the most important match in the short career of Vladimir Kozlov. The outcome of the match will tell us a lot about WWE’s plans for him and his performance in the match could affect those plans.
Kozlov should win, but the question is whether he will take the title or win by, say, a count-out. The latter result would allow Hardy to keep the belt. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kozlov take the title, perhaps sending Matt to Smackdown.
Predicted Grade: B+
Actual Match: Although Jim Ross opened the show, Matt Stryker and Todd Grisham called the opening match. Stryker announced the match was not for the title, as many had assumed, which certainly changed things.
Matt Hardy’s acrobatic athleticism gave him the first two near-falls, but Kozlov’s Back Suplex was the match’s first significant move.
The announcers stressed Kozlov’s mastery of submission holds, which he obligingly demonstrated on Hardy’s left arm.
Vladimir Kozlov’s DDT paved the way for more minutes of agony for Hardy, trapped in a painful Armbar submission hold. The ECW champion simply refused to surrender to the Russian’s power.
Matt Hardy tried to blast his foe with an out-of-ring Cross Body Fly, but Kozlov caught him! When he tried to throw Matt into the ring post, however, Hardy reversed and sent Kozlov thudding into the post… twice!
Vladimir Kozlov slammed Matt Hardy’s head against the steel ring post. He used a Backbreaker to set up the winning cover. No gold changed hands, but Vladimir Kozlov came away with the most important win of his WWE career!
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish Comments: Matt Hardy helped Kozlov turn in his best WWE performance. If he stays in ECW, it looks like he might take the title, at least briefly.
Edge and Vickie Guerrero had a sweet moment before the Rated R Superstar left to prepare for his match later in the show. When he was gone, Chavo Guerrero tried to get the Smackdown General Manager to admit that she and Edge had waylaid Jeff Hard and left him unconscious in the stairwell. Vicki repeatedly denied complicity.
It turned out to be a lead-in for a WWE text vote to see whom fans thought was responsible for the dastardly deed.
The Kingfish Comments: If you vote in these polls, you’re a mark. Anyone who has the most basic understanding of wrestling should have figured this out after Cyber Sunday if they somehow hadn’t realized it long before.
Eve Torres, wearing a leather outfit in homage to the late Bettie Page, flirted with Finlay and Hornswoggle. When she turned to go, the younger Finlay smacked her leather-covered butt.
Finlay asked his son to wait in the back, out of harm’s way.
Prior to the match, Lillian Garcia introduced Intercontinental Champion William Regal and designated eye candy Layla.
The Kingfish Comments: For a moment, Finlay’s decision to leave his son in the locker room made me doubt my prediction. Then I realized it was practically an announcement that Hornswoggle would be coming out to participate in the match in some way.
Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk
Intercontinental Title Tournament Finals
The Story: The Intercontinental Championship is the second-biggest title on RAW. That’s why so many mid-carders want to wear that belt. Assuming that Santino Morella hasn’t destroyed its prestige, the IC title can be, and has been, the stairway to elite status. This match is the finals of a tournament to select the next opponent for reigning Intercontinental Champion William Regal.
My Prediction: What do you do with a no-heat match between two babyfaces? Well, you might put it first on the card so that the athletic excitement can get the crowd started right. Whether this is the curtain-jerker or not, it will have some exciting action.
If WWE puts this one on autopilot, Rey Mysterio wins after a strong match. If they get a little creative, Regal meddles in the match on behalf of CM Punk and Mike Knox distracts Mysterio with his silent, threatening presence.
If they wanted to give the crowd a thrill, though, they should have the two heroes turn on Knox and Regal and send them fleeing.
Predicted Grade: B+
Actual Match: When Lillian Garcia announced CM Punk as the co-holder of the World Tag Team Championship, Michael Cole corrected it with the news that The Miz and John Morrison beat Punk and Kingston at a house show in Ontario, Canada. Cole narrated a series of still photos that detailed the title change.
After an extended period of so-so chain wrestling, the match began to speed up as both men showed the agility and dynamism that has made both of them popular winners.
The Masked Man countered a GTS attempt with an Armdrag, but Punk Mared him over the top rope to a very hard landing on the arena floor! Mr. Straight Edge pounced on Mysterio and, after administering some more punishment, pushed him back inside the ropes. By the time he covered, the Masked Marvel had recovered enough to stop the count.
Rey got caught in the Tree of Woe. He dodged Punk’s cross-ring charge. He uncorked a Moonsault that nearly ended the match.
It appeared that Mysterio sustained a re-injury to his wrist when CM Scoop Slammed him. Punk tried to apply a Crossface, but Mysterio gutted it out and got to the ropes.
Mysterio hit a Tilt-a-Whirl Huracanrana to an Armbar, but Punk made the ropes before he had to tap.
CM hit a Running Knee in the corner and followed up with a Bulldog, but the Masked Marvel raised his shoulder one count short of a pin.
Mysterio missed a 619, but broke up a try for a Go-to-Sleep, He then hit the 619 on the next attempt, but he couldn’t connect with the West Coast Pop!
Mysterio jumped on Punk, who turned it into a Go-to-Sleep and the one-two-three. CM Punk will be the next challenger for William Regal.
Actual Grade: A-
The Kingfish Comments: The match was excellent, so this isn’t a real complaint, but the tournament was much ado about nothing. All it did was pick someone to fight Regal and fans certainly would’ve accepted CM Punk in that role without the bracket victories.
Still, it was an enjoyable tournament on RAW. It might’ve been more effective to finish the tournament on the three-hour RAW and have Regal-Punk at Armageddon. Punk-Regal should have enough fan appeal to get it put on the Royal Rumble card.</B<
It appeared that CM Punk may have broken Rey Mysterio’s nose with his finisher.
An ad ran for Royal Rumble
Jeff Hardy, clearly under a lot of stress, gave an overheated rant in which he vowed that he would be a new man in his match.
The Kingfish Comments: I guess this was supposed to remind us that Jeff is the Extreme Enigma.
After Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler comments on recent developments involving John Bradshaw Leyfield and Shawn Michaels, the principals came to the ring to seal their strange bargain.
Shawn Michaels gave an emotional speech in which he tried to explain why he has taken a job with Leyfield. He reported recent economic reverses and admitted that he probably doesn’t have too many years left.
The crowd seemed subdued, stunned by what HBK told them. The Cowboy Financier left Michaels alone in the ring to face the “ Sell-out!” chants. A weary and troubled HBK trudged up the ramp with the rumble of the crowd in his ears
The Kingfish Comments: Like so many WWE storylines in recent years, this one got off to a shaky start. They started to portray JBL as having been a big loser in the recent stock market crash.
Then Leyfield began talking about how he would be rescued by a bail-out. That was ridiculous, of course, and they eventually stopped having him say it. Now, Leyfield has somehow grown richer in a bear market and has hired Shawn.
I presume what they have in mind is to have Michaels be the progressively more unwilling workman who eventually rebels against his evil boss. I wonder if that will happen at WrestleMania 25, somewhere in the mid-card.
When Eve Torres tried to interview Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes and Manu did all the talking. Cody called him “the crown jewel of Evolution” and said that Batista lacked the genetic make-up of a second- or third-generation wrestler like the three of them.
The Kingfish Comments:
Finlay d. Mark Henry
The Story: The alpha and omega of WWE clash in a fight that pits brute strength against a wily technician who loves to fight.
My Prediction: Do you think Hornswoggle will get to do the Tadpole Splash? Neither man has anything to gain or lose, so it looks like it’ll be decided by the bookers’ whims.
Since it’s a Belfast Brawl and not a Silverback Slugfest (or whatever), I suspect that Finlay will get the decision with a little help from Hornswoggle. Perhaps Mark Henry will threaten Hornswoggle and the little guy will give him a High Blow to the gonads to set up the Celtic Cross.
Predicted Grade: C-
Actual Match: They showed a video of a match from ECW in which Finlay took a Splash from Mark Henry to protect Hornswoggle.
They brawled in and out of the ring. Finlay bashed Henry’s massive head against the announce table, but the World’s Strongest Man got in some good shots, too.
After Finlay evaded a Splash, he dove under the ring for some implements of destruction. When Tony Atlas attacked, Finlay dispatched him with relative ease, but that meant he took his eye off Mark Henry. The big man leveled him with a trashcan lid shot.
Finlay dealt some trashcan shots and kendo stick shots of his own, but Henry brought the ring steps inside and heaved them around like they were made of feathers rather than steel.
Henry briefly considered using the Shillelagh. His hesitation gave Finlay an opening, but the kendo stick shots didn’t seem to have a lot of effect. Henry stunned his foe with a Headbutt.
Hornswoggle showed up, only to get knocked off the apron and retreat to the safety of the darkness under the ring.
When he emerged, a little later, he had the Shillelagh. He handed it to his dad, who dispatched Mark Henry for the win.
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish Comments: Credit where credit is due; this was better than expected. Finlay is a consummate professional, even if he is not relevant to the quest for championship gold.
Santa Haas visited all the Divas who claimed they’d be nice.
The Boogey Man was hidden among the gifts and Gold dust stood under the mistletoe. Boogey Man gave Gold dust a Christmas present.
The Kingfish Comments: I guess there’s a rule, somewhere, that wrestling promotions have to indulge in this silliness. This was brief and a little outrageous, which is about as much as we can expect, I guess.
Randy Orton vs. Batista
<B<The Story: The emotions of envy and jealousy have often motivated Randy Orton – and he feels plenty of both toward his former partner in Evolution. Now they are finally going to meet in the ring with the winner likely to be John Cena’s next challenger.
My Prediction: These are two of WWE’s most valuable talents, so I wouldn’t expect to see a clean pin in the center of the ring. They probably want Randy Orton to take his feud with John Cena to the ring, but it is also against WWE’s best interests to have Batista take a bad loss just before he starts on a program with Cena (after Orton’s ends).
The answer, my friends, is Cody Rhodes and Manu. One will distract the referee while the other commits some skullduggery that permits Orton to hit the RKO and bring it on home.
Predicted Grade: B
Actual Match: After a set-up video, the combatants came to the ring. Randy Orton had his wingmen Manu ad Cody Rhodes with him. When the interfered near the start of the match, however, the referee relegated them to the locker room.
A Collar-and-Elbow stand-off morphed into chain wrestling. Orton seemed to get an advantage, but it wasn’t decisive enough for him to truly control the contest.
Orton put a lot of effort into punishing Batista’s left arm. Batista broke free and fired Orton into the corner. He followed up with a ring-shaking Corner Squash. That went so well that he whipped Orton across the ring to the opposite turnbuckle and did it again. The Animal Bodyslammed Orton. The third-generation star escaped an attempted BatistaBomb and immediately scored with a Neckbreaker.
Randy pulled his foe back into the ring over the top rope and shook him with a DDT! He went into a subdued version of the Orton Stomp. Orton pulled Batista to the apron and went at him with punches and knees until Batista slipped all the way to the arena floor.
The Legend Killer went after Batista’s neck with a Rear Chinlock and then a Rear Naked Choke with Grapevine. Batista somehow powered to his feet, but Orton hung on and turned it into a Sleeper Hold. The Animal shook him off by backing against the nearest Turnbuckle. Batista hit a Back Suplex, but he couldn’t convert it into a pin.
Batista surprised everyone by going to the top. Randy caught him up there and subjected him to a Superplex. Batista escaped the cover one count before the end.
Batista hit a Spinebuster, but he didn’t follow up with the BatistaBomb. When he did try his finisher, Orton blocked it. The Legend Killer tried for the RKO, but Batista deflected it. Batista planted Orton with extreme force, but he couldn’t get the pinfall.
Randy dodged Batista’s Spear and stunned him with the Orton Backbreaker. When Orton again tried for an RKO, Batista blocked it and Chokeslammed him! Still, it wasn’t enough to get the all-important three-count.
After Batista trapped Orton in the corner, the third-generation grappler thought he had escaped when he hauled his foe toward the center of the ring. Thinking quickly, The Animal hit the BatistaBomb and scored the pin!
Actual Grade: S
The Kingfish Comments: Well, it looks like they are ready to crank up the Cena-Batista program. I thought they might wait until WrestleMania, but now it’s possible that they could meet at Royal Rumble with a decisive gimmick match at WM 25.
They added a four-on-four Divas tag team match to the card. All the women wore holiday costumes and pranced around the ring fetchingly.
Michelle McCool finished Jillian Hall with the McCool Clash.
The Kingfish Comments: The costumes were cute and I thought it was funny when the announcers referred to Kelly Kelly as the “Hot Hebrew.”
The Great Khali and Rungen Singh came out for the Holiday Kiss Cam. The four heels left at the end of the match and Michelle McCool quickly followed them up the ramp, leaving three Divas to deal with Khali.
When none of the women were willing to kiss the Punjabi Playboy, Singh revealed his contingency plan – Mae Young! She climbed him like Sit Edmund Hilary going up Mt. Everest
The Kingfish Comments: This Kiss Cam gimmick is totally wrongheaded. They’re making Khali a face with things like having him buddy up with Kung Fu Naki and then they treat him like a heel for the cam. .
I have a news flash for the bookers: a lot of women are quite interested in Great Khali. Since he turned babyface, Khali has caught the eye of several women I know – and some of them aren’t even wrestling fans.
The camera caught Chris Jericho warming up in the back.
They ran the video which detailed the long feud between John Cena and the man he beat for the championship.
John Cena d. Chris Jericho
World Heavyweight Championship
The Story: This is the rematch demanded by Chris Jericho in an effort to regain the belt he lost at the November pay per view..
My Prediction: This will be an exciting match with great maneuvers by both men. John Cena will win it, but Jericho will do his best to make it a match of the year candidate.. I think this will be a clean pin, followed by a post-match slugfest.
Predicted Grade: A-
Actual Match: The match broke into an outright brawl soon after the opening bell. Chris Jericho looked like he wanted to go to an early shower, but John Cena followed him and have him a bad time in the ringside area.
A missed Corner Charge gave Jericho an opening to clamp on a Sleeper Hold. He hung on to it even when Cena threw him to the ground in an attempt to escape. When the champ rose again, Jericho was still right on him, squeezing for all he was worth. Cena backed him against a turnbuckle at high speed, but he couldn’t dislodge the challenger/
Cena again got to his feet. He repositioned Jericho for an FU, but the WWE’s Wrestler of the Year calmly broke up the attempt and subjected Cena to a Face plant!
Jericho worked on Cena’s vulnerable neck. He Snapmared Cena to the canvas and then ground away with a Rear Chinlock. Cena came back with a pair of Flying Forearms and a Plant.
John did the You-Can’t-See-Me and the Five-Knuckle Shuffle, but he couldn’t execute the FU. In fact, Chris turned it into the Walls of Jericho! Cena quickly threw him off before taking too much damage.
After exchanging near-falls, Cena actually did an FU! Jericho landed on his feet and shocked the champ with a Codebreaker! He nearly recaptured the title!
Jericho ran right into a Cena FU, but the champ was too wobbly to make a quick cover. If he had, the match might well have ended right here.
Cena trapped his foe in the STFU, but the pugnacious blond somehow turned it into a Walls of Jericho at center-ring. When John crawled toward the ropes, Jericho yanked him back to the middle of the mat. Finally, Cena converted the hold into his finisher, the STFU, and Jericho tapped out quickly.
Actual Grade: A-
The Kingfish Comments: It’s probably time for the announcers to drop the idea that Cena is so controversial, loved and hated by the fans. The champ is getting nothing but cheers in most arenas.
A vast majority of the people who voted in the text message poll, 65$, think Edge assaulted Jeff Hardy at his hotel and left him battered in a stairwell.
The Kingfish Comments: And 12% wanted a pizza with everything, hold the anchovies.
A long video chronicled Edge’s surprise appearance at Survivor Series, his title win and the events that led up to this Triple Threat title match.
<b Jeff Hardy d Edge, Triple H
Triple Threat Match
The Story: Edge is back! And thanks to some vintage-style Edge opportunism, he is once again WWE Champion. This match pits the Rated R Superstar against perennial champ Triple H and close-but-no-cigar Jeff Hardy against Edge in a three=way fight for the gold.
My Prediction: Edge will pin Hardy to keep the title. Triple H will deal out lots of punishment, but it will be Edge who actually scores the pin and keeps his title.
Predicted Grade: A-
Actual Match: Hardy started with a full head of steam. He tumbled both foes to the mat and dished out plenty of kicks and punches.
Hardy used Triple H, and his broad back, as an unwitting partner. The Extreme Enigma used The Game as the launch pad for a Whisper in the Wind that nearly made short work of Edge
Triple H felled Hardy in the ringside area with one shattering Clothesline. Hardy made a comeback only to have HHH fire him into the outer barrier!
With Hardy temporarily out of commission, Edge focused on dismembering Triple H. Despite taking the punishment, The Game had enough left to disrupt the attempted pin.
Triple H scored with a High Knee and a Reverse Backbreaker, but he couldn’t keep Edge’s shoulders to the canvas. He added an Atomic Hot Seat, but he still couldn’t force the pinfall. Hardy took them out with a Springboard Reverse Cross Body Fly!
Edge had Hardy at his mercy in the corner, but The Cerebral Assassin came up behind him, took Edge on his shoulders and subjected him to an Electric Chair! When Jeff went for the cover, Hunter ruined his plan.
Triple H tried to finish Hardy with the Pedigree, but the Enigma threw him into a turnbuckle and rocked him with a Double Knee to the chest.
Edge wanted to Spear Hardy, but Jeff moved out of the way so that Triple H took the full impact. Hardy knocked the champion out of the ring.
Hardy scored with the Twist of Fate and a Swanton Bomb on Triple H, but Edge dragged him out of the ring before the referee could count a winning cover. Edge threw Hardy into the outer barrier and then smashed his head against one of the announce tables. Jeff mounted a comeback and soon paid back Edge with a smash against the table. Hardy got into it, too, by battering Edge and then clearing off the announce table. Triple H attacked Hardy from behind and threw Edge over the table to a hard landing at the base of the barricade.
The Game finished cleared the top of the announce table. He took Hardy upstairs, but each blocked the other’s finisher. Edge broke the deadlock; he Speared Hardy right off the table!
When Triple H and Edge got back inside the ropes, Triple H failed in his attempt to execute a Pedigree. Edge made him pay with an Impaler DDT! Edge tried to finish off The Game with a Spear, but the intended victim uncorked a Double-A Spinebuster.
Triple H pulled off a Pedigree and would’ve won the match if Vladimir Kozlov hadn’t pulled him out of the ring, feet first and fired him into the ring steps! Matt Hardy suddenly appeared and rushed at Kozlov. Matt Beat him mercilessly in the ringside area, but the larger man eventually threw him off and turned his attention to Jeff in time to knock the Enigma off the top turnbuckle!
Matt Hardy and Vladimir Kozlov did a moving battle up the ramp and disappeared into the backstage area. Edge was the only one in the ring at this point, but he didn’t seem to have the strength or the will to do much.
Edge leveled Triple H with a Spear, but The Game’s shoulder rose form the canvas before the ref could slap it for the third and final time.
Edge brought two chairs into the ring and prepared to give HHH a Con-chair-to. As he raised the chair high over head to administer the coup de grace, Jeff Hardy grabbed the weapon out of his grasp and bashed him with it!
Triple H knocked Hardy off the turnbuckle and looked like he was about to win. That’s when the ever-resilient Hardy came off the top with a Swanton and pinned Triple H to take the WWE Heavyweight Championship!
Actual Grade: A
The Kingfish Comments: OK, I was genuinely surprised when Jeff Hardy won the title. He has had his ups and downs, but he has also worked hard and performed brilliantly. He has done his full share of jobs and has performed well in those matches.
This feels right. I hope they will give him a run as champion, at least through WrestleMania to see what he can do at the top of the card. One thing’s for sure; Jeff Hardy will do whatever he can to make his title defenses as exciting as possible.
Clearly, there is going to be an extended Matt Hardy-Vladimir Kozlov program. Their involvement in the WWE Championship match points to rematches. That’s sensible; Kozlov needs to gain some standing with the fans before he can be a credible Smackdown challenger, much less the champion.
Predicted Grade for Armageddon: B
Actual Grade for Armageddon: B+
Sorry for the delay in posting this, folks, but inclement weather in Las Vegas delayed me.
That’s it for today. I’ll be back Tomorrow with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column. I hope you’ll come back and join and, please, bring your friends..
— Arnie Katz