Sometimes the old adages say it best. In the case of last night’s New Year’s Revolution pay-per-view, the first one that came to mind was the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The change was holding the first big event of 2005 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a sure sign that World Wrestling Entertainment’s best chance for selling out a one-brand PPV in the current market is to go outside the traditional U.S. and Canadian markets. Business as usual showed up in the form of some unfortunate, very real-looking injuries to a couple of superstars and an all too familiar face walking away at the end of the night as the world heavyweight champion.
Two champions went down to knee injuries that appeared to be legit in the show’s first 30 minutes. Eugene pulled up lame after firing off a dropkick during his defense of the tag team belts with partner William Regal against Christian and Tyson Tomko. The popular “wrestling savant” finished the match on one leg by rolling up Tomko for the three count but had to be helped to the back afterwards. Just a few minutes later, Lita suffered the same fate attempting a move off the apron against Trish Stratus and ended up dropping her women’s title in less than four minutes.
Those early incidents led to more filler than usual, but the night was already heavily focused on the six-man Elimination Chamber main event for the world title. Canadians Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit entered the fray first, setting a quick early pace before being joined in order by Triple H, Edge and Randy Orton. Special guest referee Shawn Michaels got physically involved thanks to an off-target spear by Edge. After Edge’s next spear connected with Orton, the frustrated superstar attempted to revive HBK and got a dose of Sweet Chin Music. Jericho followed with a Lionsault that sent Edge to the showers first.
Batista’s entrance signaled the end for Benoit and Jericho as Evolution’s big man pinned them both within three minutes of the opening of his chamber door. The tension building for months between Batista and Triple H never reached its logical conclusion though, as Orton used a low blow and an RKO to narrow the field to two around the 32-minute mark. Batista towed the Evolution company line a few minutes later when he dropped Orton with a clothesline while Michaels was tied up with Ric Flair, and even though HBK sent both men to the back, the damage was already done.
Helmsley picked Orton up off the canvas and connected with a Pedigree, leaving only the question of whether or not old rival Michaels would actually count the pinfall. HBK stayed true to his pre-match promise to call things right down the middle and counted the three, giving Triple H his tenth (and undoubtedly not last) world heavyweight title.
The next WWE pay-per-view is the Royal Rumble on January 30th.
NEW YEAR’S REVOLUTION RESULTS
Christian and Tyson Tomko (challengers) versus Eugene and William Regal (champions) (World Tag Team Title Match)
* Eugene plays to the crowd even more than usual, sporting his new Hulk Hogan-esque ring gear and showing off some Junkyard Dog moves to go with his usual repertoire. Regal gets beat bloody working the middle portion of the match, and Eugene is just starting to catch fire when his knee gives out after a dropkick. He manages to finish the match on one leg, and even the cynical wrestling fan in me thinks he’s really hurt.
* Winner: … and still World Tag Team Champions… Eugene and William Regal at 12 minutes and 24 seconds.
* Match Rating: 4/10
* Christian and Tomko aren’t too happy about losing to a one-legged wrestler, and their mood doesn’t improve when they run into Edge backstage. That might change once he gets to explain his great idea, one which may make Christian the world heavyweight champion. Intrigued, Captain Charisma and his Problem Solver take a walk with Edge.
* A lengthy recap of Trish and Lita’s feud takes us all the way back to happier times like Stratus wearing the world’s skimpiest maid of honor dress. Come to think of it, that was probably the only happy part of that storyline.
Trish Stratus (challenger) versus Lita (champion) (Women’s Title Match)
* It turns out that the recap is probably longer than the match itself thanks to Lita’s knee injury. If she’s on the shelf for any period of time, that leaves us with just three female wrestlers on the Raw roster. That’s unless you count Stacy Keibler, which I don’t.
* Winner: … and new Women’s Champion… Trish Stratus at three minutes and 53 seconds.
* Match Rating: 0/10 (due to injury)
* Edge’s plan is revealed: since he figures he can’t get a fair shake from Michaels thanks to their Taboo Tuesday history, he asks Eric Bischoff to allow Christian to replace him in the Elimination Chamber match in return for a title shot with the winner the next night on Raw. Bischoff refuses, citing the time and money he’s spent advertising the match. On his way out, Edge runs into HBK, who promises to call the match down the middle but also vows physical retaliation if any of the combatants lay a hand on the ref.
Shelton Benjamin (champion) versus Maven (challenger) (Intercontinental Title Match)
* I understand the stalling at the beginning of this match, as the previous matches were undoubtedly planned to run a little longer. So I don’t have a problem with Maven spending five minutes berating the crowd. I don’t even mind when Benjamin immediately rolls up Maven for a pin, causing the challenger to ask for an immediate rematch. But when Benjamin hits a quick t-bone to get a second pin, it leaves me with just one question: what exactly was the point of this?
* Winner: … and still Intercontinental Champion… Shelton Benjamin at six minutes and eight seconds and again at six minutes and 15 seconds.
* Match Rating: 1/10
* My friend Brian Whorl wonders aloud how Muhammad Hassan and Daivari are going to play their heel roles in Puerto Rico, but they quickly answer that question by discussing how disappointed they are that second-class citizens like the islanders are treating the Arab-Americans the same way they get treated in the U.S. That does the trick.
Muhammad Hassan (with Daivari) versus Jerry “The King” Lawler (with J.R.)
* You never really miss the commentators until they’re both involved in a match and you’re left listening to… well, nothing really. J.R. does get involved by chasing the interfering Daivari around on the outside, which is good for a laugh if nothing else. Hassan nails King with his inverted Russian leg sweep finisher, which I’ve temporarily dubbed the Jihad Drop until I hear what it’s really called.
* Winner: Muhammad Hassan at 10 minutes and 49 seconds.
* Match Rating: 5/10
* Todd Grisham wants a word with Batista, but Orton decides he’d like to ask a question instead. Specifically, he’d like to know that if it comes down to Batista and Triple H, will the big man kick HHH’s behind or kiss it? Batista says that if he gets a shot for the world title, he’s taking it. Hmm…
* Just so J.R. doesn’t feel lonely, Coach joins him at the announce table. The next recap runs down the Kane-Gene Snitsky feud, which includes the imaginary death of Kane and Lita’s imaginary baby.
Gene Snitsky versus Kane
* Pretty much what you would expect from these two, which means not a whole lot. Kane looks like he breaks Undertaker’s record by sitting up from three consecutive moves – SLAM! Wrestling’s stat boy is checking on that. Both men go for a chokeslam at the same time, but Snitsky powers out and goes Mike Tyson on Kane by biting him. After both men end up on the mat, Kane sits up one last time and pins Snitsky with a Tombstone.
* Winner: Kane at 11 minutes and 55 seconds.
* Match Rating: 3/10
* SLAM! Wrestling Smackdown reporter Dale Plummer says he hopes that WWE writers put as much effort into the actual Royal Rumble as they did for its promo, which is a hilarious Vince McMahon dream sequence that spoofs West Side Story. Highly TiVo-worthy if you have one, which I just realized I don’t.
* The King returns to the announce position just in time to watch a chicken fight in the superstars’ hotel pool, which features Raw divas in bikinis and… holy crap, Val Venis is still on the Raw roster!
* Triple H takes exception to Batista’s interview with Orton, but the big guy claims he’s just keepinmg Evolution’s enemies off-balance by not telling them the truth. And the truth according to Batista is that he’s focused on helping HHH regain his world title. That is, of course, unless Trips is eliminated before Batista enters the match… Cue evil laugh here.
Edge versus Triple H versus Randy Orton versus Batista versus Chris Jericho versus Chris Benoit (Elimination Chamber Match for the vacated World Heavyweight Title with special guest referee Shawn Michaels)
* Winner: … and new World Heavyweight Champion… Triple H at 34 minutes and 56 seconds.
* Match Rating: 7/10
* Total Event Time: 2 hours and 33 minutes
* Overall Event Rating: 3/10