Review of WWE: Armageddon 2006
Coming at the end of 2006, one might think that WWE Armageddon - held on 17th December at the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia - would be the culmination of twelve months of storylines and feuds, where all would be settled before the beginning of a new year.
But WWE years, almost like the tax year, finish in late March. That`s when Wrestlemania occurs, and in terms of pay-per-view hierarchy, Armageddon is quite distance down the pecking order.
This show, then, was in the unenviable position of being held just a few weeks prior to the Royal Rumble, the traditional first step on the road to Wrestlemania. This left a lot of performers in storyline limbo, and really only The Undertaker had a serious score to settle in his match, where he faced Ken Kennedy.
As such, the main event for the evening was a hurriedly thrown-together bout, with Batista & John Cena teaming to face King Booker & Finlay. Other matches included Paul London & Brian Kendrick defending the Tag Team Titles against England`s William Regal and Dave Taylor (both veterans of the World of Sport days), and Chris Benoit vs. Chavo Guerrero for the U.S Championship.
Video is presented in 4:3 fullscreen PAL, and is very excellent for a DVD of this genre. The transfer is exceptionally clean, with no noticeable video artefacts, and the only slight complaint could be that some UK viewers may find it a tad soft compared to PAL standards (this was, of course, recorded in NTSC).
Production values are typically high, so if you like lots of pyro and over-the-top entrances (for The Undertaker, in particular), you`ll find this to your liking.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 and is also very good. Everything from in-ring action, to wrestlers` theme music, to commentary, is very well mixed, and clearly audible at all times. Speaking of commentary, it is provided here by the regular Smackdown crew of Michael Cole and JBL. The latter can be distracting by simply talking so much, but is often entertaining in doing so.
There are also 2.0 tracks available in Spanish, French, German, and Italian, with subtitles in Dutch, and Portuguese.
Just one extra on this release, and that is a look back at the very first Inferno Match, held at Unforgiven 1998, with Kane facing "his brother" The Undertaker. This is far from a great match, although it does appear spectacular with the ring "surrounded by fire". Perhaps the most noticeable thing about the match is how both men have dropped in weight over recent years.
It was quite the surprise to see that the first bout of Armageddon was the Inferno match between Kane and MVP, the winner of which would be the man who set his opponent on fire. Well, I don`t suppose that anyone tuned in hoping to see a Lou Thesz or Danny Hodge reincarnate...
In any case, the match was reasonably entertaining, even if there was little actual wrestling involved. Please note, however, that the bout has been edited from the original pay-per-view broadcast, so as to not show a botched attempt by Kane to set a turnbuckle pad on fire. Moving swiftly on…
The theme of Armageddon having no theme at all, continued in the next bout, as Paul London & Brian Kendrick not only defended their titles against William Regal & Dave Taylor (as advertised), but also against The Hardys, and MNM as well. Furthermore, the match was a ladder match!
For its type, this was an incredible contest, which included some death-defying risks, in the vain of the TLC matches which The Hardys made famous. However, things do go wrong at one point in the match, and one participant incurs a horrendous facial injury, which is shown repeatedly, and in graphic detail. This DVD is rated 15, but the injury is worse than virtually anything I have seen in MMA fighting, which is consistently rated 18. Go figure!
I guess someone decided that the fans needed a come-down after the excitement of that match, as The Boogeyman and The Miz then contested an embarrassingly-bad encounter, which at least was short. Chris Benoit and Chavo Guerrero then somewhat made up for this, however, with a rather good U.S. Title match, which thankfully suffered from much less outside interference than I had expected.
The Cruiserweight Title bout was up next, as Gregory Helms defended the title against Jimmy Wang Yang. Yang`s gimmick of the Asian cowboy may be outrageous, but he is certainly capable of a very good match, which he and Helms duly provided. It is a shame that the fans didn`t seem to get into it as much as the match warranted.
The Last Ride bout between The Undertaker and Ken Kennedy proved to be another solid affair, with the stipulations of the match being that you had to lock your opponent in the back of a hearse and drive backstage, to be declared the winner. In many ways, it was a mistake to put this match on the same card as a violent ladder match, as at one point, the crowd pooh-poohed a spot where The Undertaker appeared to fall badly from the staging area. They had seen a truly serious injury just an hour earlier, and weren`t about to react to one that appeared more contrived.
The Last Ride bout could easily have passed as the main event, but yet there was still the tag team affair to come, pitting Batista & John Cena (champions of Smackdown and Raw respectively) facing King Booker and Finlay. Unfortunately, it would have been better had this match not aired at all, as the crowd weren`t particularly into it, and neither, it appeared, was at least one of the participants.
Overall, Armageddon 2006 was a reasonably enjoyable event, aside from a couple of lame ducks - the main event, and the Boogeyman vs. Miz bout. Benoit vs. Guerrero, Helms vs. Yang, and The Undertaker vs. Kennedy were all solid affairs, but the undoubted match of the night was the Ladder match, which no-one knew was taking place until announced just prior to London & Kendrick`s title defence. Sure, the match will be remembered for the shocking injury, but the rest of the bout was very exciting stuff, even for someone like myself, who prefers Johnny Saint-like technical wrestling over the non-sensical acrobatics. (There you go, there`s two World of Sport references in one WWE article!)
If you are a fan of current WWE wrestling, you absolutely must see this match, and couples with the other solid bouts, that makes Armageddon a show well worth getting on DVD.