Back in the days when WCW was still kicking around, wrestling fans used to get a present each December in the form of Starrcade. Since WWE is now the only game in town, all that’s left as the holidays aproach is a fruitcake called Armageddon. With the recent string of mediocre “Brand-only” PPV’s, would this 2003 offering leave a bad taste in the mouths of WWE fans once again?

Fans of Evolution were about the only ones leaving pleased from the TD Waterhouse Arena in Orlando on Sunday night. Triple H’s stable did its best Four Horsemen imitation by grabbing all the title belts Raw had to offer, including the tag straps for which they weren’t even originally scheduled to compete. A little help from Eric Bischoff and plenty of interference ensured that The Game was back where he thinks he belongs, even though many fans may disagree.

The collision between Triple H, Kane and defending world champion Goldberg that had been building for the past few weeks took place in Armageddon’s triple-threat main event. Teamwork between the challengers gave them the upper hand in the early going, but Goldberg showed his trademark power by tossing Kane off the top rope and lifting Triple H for a military press into a powerslam. The champ went for a spear on Kane but found only a big boot to the face.

Cracks in the alliance between the heels started to show when Helmsley went for a cover following a Kane scoop slam, beginning a pattern that would repeat itself throughout the match. A couple of “accidental” shots exchanged between Kane and HHH left Goldberg in possession of a steel chair, which he placed on The Game’s leg in retaliation for the attack by Batista several weeks back. Kane returned in time to make the save, then took the fight to the floor.

The Spanish announce table found itself in harm’s way again, though it proved more durable than usual when Kane’s chokeslam sent Goldberg bouncing off of it. The table wasn’t as lucky the second time, as Triple H’s elbow off the guardrail finished it off and left the champ out of commission for quite some time. After reversing a Pedigree attempt with a back body drop, Kane borrowed a page from the Undertaker’s book and sat up after a DDT and a neckbreaker.

Brawling out to the ramp, Kane chokeslammed Triple H on the steel. Ultimately realizing that he needed to pin someone inside the ring, Kane literally dragged The Game all the way back inside. Goldberg finally returned to the fray, spearing Kane and leaving all three men down. The world champ summoned enough strength to make a cover but Triple H broke up the pin.

Another spear caught Triple H, but Evolution picked that moment for the inevitable run-in. Goldberg fought off Randy Orton and Ric Flair, then found himself in a choking contest with Kane. A low blow from Helmsley gave Kane an opening to drop Goldberg with a chokeslam, but Batista arrived and restrained the Big Red Machine. Helpless, he could only watch as Triple H crawled over and covered Goldberg to complete Evolution’s title sweep. While it was nice to finally see some variety in a HHH match (as opposed to the usual get knocked to the floor, reach under the mat, pull out sledgehammer, use said sledgehammer, Pedigree, pin)one wonders if there will be a variety of heavyweight champions any time soon.

The next WWE pay-per-view is The Royal Rumble on January 25th.

With John Powell off covering the Survivor finale, the task of sifting through the rubble of Armageddon is left to Raw reporter Nick Tylwalk and very confused Smackdown! recapper Dale Plummer.

* Nick, I’m looking forward to the show, but I don’t remember any matches being booked for this PPV on Smackdown!

* It’s called a “brand split,” remember? It was covered in your SLAM! 101 textbook. Just sit back and enjoy the show, and I’ll be here to talk you through anything you don’t understand… if I understand it.

* Now this is the way to start a pay-per-view: with a scantily clad Lillian Garcia singing the U.S. national anthem.

* Now this is what I miss about Raw! We still haven’t gotten reparations for losing Matt Hardy, how about her?

Mark Henry versus Booker T

* The last time I saw Mark Henry he was lifting cars and bending steel rods. Now he’s curtain jerking for PPVs, man is he moving up in the wrestling world.

* Too bad you can’t say the same about his finishing moves. First he had the “World’s Strongest Slam,” now he has the… bear hug. I don’t think that’s going to be enough to put Booker away. He botched that power bomb too. Hopefully this second scissor kick is enough to win this match and end this feud.

* And it is, as Booker T picks up the win. By the way, why does Mark Henry have his name prominently displayed on the front of his outfit? I don’t think anyone is going to mistake it for theirs.

Winner: Booker T at 10 minutes and 23 seconds

Match Rating: 3.5/10

* Looks like Eric Bischoff is none too happy with the way this affair is starting out. Fortunately he has his Battle of the Sexes coming up to get him all giddy. Is it just me, or is Chris Jericho having some reservations? Perhaps he’s only now realizing that passing up a chance at Trish Stratus for a lousy one dollar Canadian is the dumbest decision of all time.

* I don’t know, Nick, the exhcange rate is pretty good right now. Do my ears deceive me? It can’t be. It’s Mick Foley! Much to Bischoff’s dismay, Foley has headed to the ring to celebrate the one millionth signing of the Austin petition. And he brought Stacey Keibler to help. Two more reasons I miss Raw.

* If they counted my signatures as I.P. Freely and Ben Dover, it’s all good. Anyway, Randy Orton and Ric Flair interrupt a perfectly good set of Stacy cartwheels, just so Orton can tell us all how good he is. Mick says if he wants to go, they can go right now, and rips open his dress shirt to reveal his referee outfit. That Intercontinental title match is starting now.

Randy Orton (challenger) versus Rob Van Dam (champion) (Intercontinental Title Match)

* The standards for a “holy sh-t” chant used to be so much higher. Now Van Dam getting kicked off the top rope and going face first into the retaining barrier is enough to set it off. Mick admonishes Flair for interfering, but otherwise the near falls are coming back and forth.

* First, how can an RVD match be so boring? And second, did I miss the guest referee “I’m gonna call it right down the middle speech?” Appearently, Flair ignored Foley’s first warnings, jumping to the apron with a pair of brass knucks in hand. Orton takes advantage of the distraction, kicking RVD off the top rope. He nails the RKO out of nowhere, and we have a new Intercontinental Champion!

Winner:…and new IC Champ… Randy Orton at 17 minutes and 47 seconds

Match Rating: 5/10

Chris Jericho and Christian versus Trish Stratus and Lita (Battle of the Sexes Match)

* Is this match even being shown in Canada, or are they getting 15 minutes of crowd reaction? If so, they’re getting the better deal. I’ve seen the build up, and I’m still asking why.

* My mom is not happy about this match at all. The crowd gets a bit of what they want as the ladies do get in some offense, including a spinning headscissors off the top rope by Lita. Jericho puts her hard into the guardrail and tries talking to Trish, but Christian sneaks in with a schoolboy and steals the victory for the men. Again, Jericho looks like he’s having second thoughts about the whole deal. Or it could be him wondering how he went from being the first undisputed champion to wrestling in gimmick matches like this. It’s hard to say.

Winners: Chris Jericho and Christian at 9 minutes and 5 seconds.

Match Rating: 4/10 (0/10 from Nick’s mom)

Shawn Michaels versus Batista

* This is more like it. Classic HBK as Shawn sticks and moves early on, then Batista rallies with a series of power moves focusing on Shawn’s ever popular lower back.

* Can’t they replace his spine with titanium? We have the technology, this has to be done. When HBK goes down for good RAW and WWE in general are in big trouble. Michaels is in trouble again on the top turnbuckle, but is able to elbow his way out of a superplex. HBK dismounts the hard way, nailing Batista with a moonsault.

* The battle spills to the floor and heads back inside, where Shawn counters a choke lift with a DDT and hits an elbow off the top rope. The crowd gets into it as the band starts to warm up, but Batista has other ideas as he drops Michaels with two hard spinebusters. It looks like curtains for HBK as he’s lifted for a tiger bomb, but he slips out and connects with Sweet Chin Music, falling on top of Batista to get the hard fought victory.

* He’s a wiley one, that HBK.

Winner: Shawn Michaels at 12 minutes and 22 seconds

Match Rating: 8.5/10

* Batista won’t leave the ring, and it looks like he needs Flair to tell him he just lost to someone 100 pounds lighter. Evidently Evolution wasn’t watching Heat (like most people), because a match was set up between Maven and Matt Hardy and it’s supposed to start right now.

* I wonder if Matt even cares that his former Mattitude follower Shannon Moore has been served up to the likes of Brock Lesnar and Big Show since he jumped ship. I guess not, as Hardy goes after Maven on the ramp, and the bell rings. Maven is tossed into the ring, and Batista decides to take out his frustration on the former Tough Enough winner.

* Just for the record, I officially have no idea what you’re talking about in regards to Shannon Moore. A few tiger bombs have Maven out cold, so the ref tells Lillian Garcia that the match can not take place due to Maven’s condition. Where I’m from, if someone interferes once the bell rings it’s usually a disqualification. Hardy must be having similar thoughts, as he counts his own pin and even announces himself as the winner.

* The way I see it, he should now be Matt Hardy v(1.3), upgraded with new ring annoucing and referee features.

* Batista is still fuming backstage. It’s up to Ric Flair, and Ric Flair alone, to calm him down. After almost tripping, Flair tells the big man that they will leave with gold. This is called foreshadowing, kids.

Tag Team Turmoil Match (World Tag Team Title Match)

* In the interest of everyone finishing this report before their lunch breaks are over, we’ll have to give you the abridged version here. La Resistance and Hurricane and Rosey are the first two teams in, and the superheroes send the Frenchmen packing at 3 minutes and 16 seconds when the ‘Cane hits a cool cross body off of Rosey’s shoulders. No time to celebrate, because Mark Jindrak and Garrison Cade sneak in from behind and get a roll-up pin just 19 seconds later. Jindrak and Cade get another elimination at 7 minutes and 58 seconds over Val Venis and Lance Storm thanks to the old “feet on the ropes for leverage” trick. I think I need to make a tag here…

* It’s about time…we got to a tag team I know. I’m convinced a radio station in Orlando held a contest that the tenth and eleventh callers could wrestle in WWE Armageddon, tonight. No way RAW has that many tag teams. Cade, I think, misses an elbow off the top rope on D-von. Bubba tags in and plasters Jindrack with the 3-D to eliminate them at 13 minutes and 29 seconds.

* Scott Steiner and Test hit the ring, so they’re buddies now, and Stacy is nowhere to be seen. Makes ya, think, don’t it? Test serves up a big boot, but catches Steiner with it. Test recovers and attempts a pin, but Bubba is able to just save his brother. Bubba hits Test with the Bubba Bomb, and D-von covers for the three count at 19 minutes 18 seconds. The Dudleys seem to have retained the titles, but wait…

* Bischoff’s music brings the co-GM to the ring. Eric says that to win tag team turmoil, you have to get through all the teams. I thought we just did that, but Bischoff says there’s one more team that hasn’t been introduced yet, and the foreshadowing Dale told you about comes true as Batista and Flair come down the ramp. The Dudleys are pretty much spent at this point, and a tiger bomb to D-Von gives us new tag team champions.

Winners: … and new World Tag Team Champions… Batista and Ric Flair at 22 minutes and 32 seconds

Match Rating: 6.5/10

* Dale’s already seen the press conference announcing the Smackdown roster’s trip to Iraq to perform for the troops, but this is new to me. The highlight is Big Show’s surprising eloquence.

This just in. Main event annouced for tour. Brock Lesnar, Big Show, Bradshaw, John Cena, and Matt Morgan versus Saddam Hussien in a Steel Cage “No punishment is severe enough for the despot” match.

Ivory (challenger) versus Molly Holly (champion) (Women’s Title Match)

* No, that’s not a typo. This match has just been added to the card. It must come as a surprise to the announce team too, because The King is wondering if Molly is sexually frustrated and J.R. suggests she might be having irregularity problems. Off-topic announcing… another sign of hunger.

I’m never bad mouthing Michael Cole or Tazz ever again.

Winner:… and still women’s champ… Molly Holly at 4 minutes and 24 seconds

Match Rating:. 1/10

Kane (challenger) versus HHH (challenger) versus Goldberg (champion) (World Heavyweight Title Match)

Winner: … and new World Heavyweight Champion…HHH at 19 minutes and 29 seconds

Match Rating: 6.5/10

Total Event Time: 2 hours and 37 minutes

Overall Event Rating: 6/10

Nick Tylwalk is SLAM! Wrestling’s regular RAW reporter, and Dale Plummer handles the Smackdown! beat. As a team, they are disappointed that they didn’t get the invitation to the Tag Team Turmoil match.