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MARCH 2005

Three years after the company loses Steve Austin and The Rock full time and botches turning Triple H, they finally go all the way with some new heroes. These are here to stay.

THE MAIN EVENTS - RAW

We’ve got a straight tag of Batista & Randy Orton vs Triple H & Ric Flair 4th in Corpus Christi, 5th in Greensboro and 6th at the Norfolk Scope, though usually Ortons taken out early leaving Dave alone - but he still wins. 12th in Mobile it’s Dave and Shawn Michaels beating Hunter and Edge, 13th in Dothan (which sells out) it’s split into two singles - in a non title match, Batista pins Triple H one on one for the first time, but by far not the last. 19th in Fayetteville Dave’s back teaming with Orton even though Randys just turned on TV, and they’re beating Hunter and Edge. 20th in Columbia SC Randy plays face for the locals giving an RKO to Coach early in the show and chasing Edge away during the main which is again Batista crushing The Game non title. Thats all the reports before month end and WrestleMania 21.

THE CARDS

It’s a ludicrously tight month. Shawn Michaels vs Edge happens most nights for three weeks as Mr WrestleMania is on the road staying sharp. Chris Benoit vs Muhammad Hassan is an attempt at working miracles, Chris Jericho vs Christian is back on, Shelton Benjamin vs Gene Snitsky is an ICT run nobody wanted, Kane vs Tyson Tomko keeps the Big Red Machine in wins. In Fayetteville and Columbia Benoit works Snitsky while the rest of the midcard shuffles. William Regal & Yoshihiro Tajiri vs La Resistance for the tag belts happens every night as does Victoria vs Molly Holly with Val Venis sometimes acting as ref. Chris Masters vs Rhino happens for three weeks then it switches to Hurricane for the Masterpiece and we add Viscera squashing Simon Dean.

VARIATIONS 

In Fayetteville Hassan notches another tainted win over Y2J and Shelton retains over Christian ; in Columbia Jericho beats Edge, Shelton beats Hassan by DQ and Kane wins a handicap over Christian and Tomko - the odd man out is Orton who while interrupting Coach belittling Fabulous Moolah & Mae Young and running in during the main, doesn’t actually wrestle on the night.

THE MAIN EVENTS - SMACKDOWN

5th in Danbury John Cena & Big Show vs JBL & Orlando Jordan is the main, occurring as in “impromptu” tag match (playa) ordered by Teddy Long after JBL interferes in Cena vs Jordan. Next night at Nassau Coliseum (9500 - getting there!) the tag is semi main (bikini contest inbetween) with The Undertaker vs Kurt Angle on last, the same 7th in Charlotte (<5000, disappointing). 12th in Oshawa (4000 sell out) the tag is the announced main and after Cena pins JBL, the champ challenges The Doctor Of Thuganomics to a singles match where Cena pins him again. They do the same setup next night in Buffalo and 19th in Knoxville and 21st in Jackson MS (too hot, hot damn) but 20th in Hattiesburg inbetween, some transport troubles because of shitty weather befall everyone except MNM and luckily enough six of the top guys, so there’s a one night five man top contenders tournament for a title shot. After a DQ in the title match Cena wrestled his fourth match of the night to tag with Big Show and beat JBL and Kurt.

THE CARDS

In the South on the build up to Mania Kurt Angle vs Booker T is added which makes sense as they’ll be working post Mania ; prior Booker started his month still trying to make a silk purse of the sows ear that is John Heidenreich then missed Oshawa and Buffalo. Eddy Guerrero & Rey Mysterio vs The Basham Brothers goes on all month. I usually make this first paragraph about what the “top guys” on the show did this month but I’m struggling! After Booker, Heidenreich goes back to beating Charlie Haas and mid month all Kurt really does is guest ref Mark Jindrak vs Luther Reigns, attacking Jindrak after the match. Ummm…

CWT has Chavo Guerrero Jr vs Paul London early month and Haas & Hardcore Holly beating Johnny Nitro & Joey Matthews. Mid month London vs Akio and Spike Dudley vs Johnny Jeter are added and for the rest of the month MNM trade wins with Scotty Too Hotty & Sho Funaki. Christ, these cards are bare.

VARIATIONS

We simply have to start in Hattiesburg, rather than just the unique matches let’s summarise the tourney, preceded as it is by Big Show beating MNM in a handicap match. Eddy beats Show by vintage Eddy fake chair use/ref con DQ which earns him a chokeslam, then he loses to Booker in a respectful handshake semi. Cena pins Angle in the other semi then Booker in the final before the title match and tag shenanigans. So to assemble a 7 match card and give the fans their money’s worth, Cena worked four times, Show three and JBL, Booker, Eddy and Angle twice a piece. Fair play to them all.

Sticking with Kurt, in Oshawa he worked a random local in a Kurt Angie Invitational as well as his ref gig. In Charlotte Shannon Moore is added to the CWT match and month end Bobby Lashley is on the road, pinning Spike in Biloxi and Akio in Jackson, while the other works London.

TVs

1st in Albany on SmackDown Show tags with Michelle McCool to beat Dupree & Dawn Marie for some reason and Jordan relieves Cena of the US title anchor. 7th in Raleigh on Raw Orton delivers an RKO to Eric Bischoff so I think he’s supposed to still be a face. Dark (COLISEUM EXCLUSIVE) Big Dave pins Triple H in a non title match. Next night in Roanoke Nitro & Matthews (with Melina) beat Moore & Nunzio dark with what we’d come to call the Snapshot, London earns top contender status on Velocity, dark we have Cena & Show vs JBL & Jordan. Plus on SmackDown CW Anderson and Sonjay Dutt are among those acting as security for the Cabinet. There’s a ropey angle where Cena gives Teddy the FU for not giving him what he wants which felt really forced, like trying too hard to make John into Stone Cold - nice guy Teddy didn’t deserve it. 14th Atlanta - looks who’s knocking again? Scott Vick loses to Rhino dark. The late Jimmy Rave loses to Masters for Heat, on the live show Randy continues his gradual heel turn with disrespecting then attacking Jake Roberts during the Highlight Reel then wonderfully Marty Jannetty doesn’t look half bad as The Rockers reunite to beat La Res. Dark, Batista & HBK beat HHH & Edge when Jake runs off Flair and after the match a snake gets dumped on Hunter!! Next night in Savannah is the show where Marty enters a very creditable performance in defeat to Kurt. 21st in Birmingham Randy gives Stacy Keibler the RKO to underline that he’s a heel now, next night in Memphis JBL drops another non title match to Cena dark. 28th in Fort Worth Brent Albright tags with a post-Mordecai pre-release Kevin Fertig to win a tryout tag , and next night in Houston the go home SmackDown has some awful telly - London wins the Cruiserweight title not by pinning anyone but by winning a shitty battle royal where the defending champ Chavo (I believe injured) is out in the opening seconds, and JBL has Cena arrested in another terrible attempt to make John into the next Steve Austin renegade. Between fucking with his character last minute, jobbing him to Orlando and changing his music so close to Mania when his existing intro was super over, they sure pissed the bed on Cena coming into Mania hot.

DEPARTURES 

No, none that fall in March.

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APRIL 2005

It’s a transitional time as the new babyface champions kick off their runs on the shows they’ve been built up on, yet to be drafted to the shows they’ll be more synonymous with. House shows are two foreign tours, one show has quite a lot of consistency, the other little.

Oh and guess who’s back, brother?

THE MAIN EVENTS - RAW

We’re on an Australia tour - 7th in Brisbane it’s Batista & Chris Benoit vs Triple H & Ric Flair, next night in Newcastle (huh) Chris Jericho and Edge make it up to six man, then back to 2 on 2 9th in Sydney (15,000 apparently) - Dave continues to pin his former boss. Other side of TVs 20th in Berlin (10,000 sell out) next night in Aberdeen (8500 sell out) 22nd in Edinburgh it’s the handicap, 23rd in Newcastle (9500 sell out) 24th in Hull we literally alternate Dave beating Trip and Flair in a handicap match and a tag where Shawn Michaels is his partner but now Flair is taking the pin. 25th they tape Raw at the NEC but 26th they’re in Nottingham (Dave tags with Shawn) before heading home.

THE CARDS

Edge vs Kane starts in Australia, Chris Jericho vs Muhammad Hassan with depressing results and Shelton Benjamin vs Gene Snitsky for the ICT also carry on, into Europe there’s two distinct cards - Shelton vs Christian happens (as per Sydney) when it’s a tag main, thusly it’s Kane vs Hassan, Chris Benoit vs Edge and Y2J vs Tyson Tomko on those nights. Shawn Michaels vs Hassan previews Backlash whenever HBK has a night off from main event, so it’s Shelton vs Christian vs Y2J, Kane vs Edge and Benoit vs Tomko.

Tag title is usually William Regal & Yoshihiro Tajiri vs La Resistance for the final month. Victoria vs Molly Holly runs through Australia then in Europe it’s Christy Hemme vs Vic with the latter playing heel and Coach as ref. Chris Masters vs Hurricane happens very often both in Australia and Europe, Viscera vs Val Venis gets added on the latter, though Masters works Val a few nights (and in Sydney) as does Vis, Helms.

Randy Orton is off for shoulder surgery and will be drafted before he’s back.

VARIATIONS

There’s usually a spare man in Australia. In Brisbane it’s Christian vs Venis and Tomko doesn’t wrestle, in Newcastle Hassan vs Venis and Kane vs Christian & Tomko in a handicap, in Sydney Tomko vs Hurricane and Snitsky has a night off. In Hull, Shelton vs Benjamin is one on one, Regal & Tajiri work Christian & Tomko and Benoit beats Rob Conway (with Grenier in the corner). No idea why there’s an odd man booked the night of a handicap main.

THE MAIN EVENTS - SMACKDOWN

It’s still John Cena & Big Show vs JBL & Orlando Jordan 8th in Melbourne/10th in Adelaide, 9th in Perth the new WWE Champ is giving JBL the rematch which continues 20th in Dublin with Cena & Show vs JBL and Kurt Angle the night after, 8000 sellout at the ExCel in London (Docklands) for Cena/Show vs JBL/Jordan and Undertaker vs Angle on last, same tag in Bologna, Cena vs JBL for the belt 24th in Milan before finally back to the tag 25th in Cardiff. Never dreamed I’d see Orlando in so many main events.

THE CARDS

The Undertaker vs Kurt Angle and Booker T vs John Heidenreich are both happening when each face is not wrestling the corresponding heel. The tag title change in MSG precedes two weeks of rematches with MNM vs Eddy Guerrero & Rey Mysterio. CWT has Paul London vs Spike Dudley vs Sho Funaki vs Scotty Too Hotty more than once in Oz, in Europe it’s another daft battle royal with rotating members.

Charlie Haas & Hardcore Holly vs The Basham Brothers is pretty common. Rene Dupree beats Haas a couple of times in Australia, Mark Jindrak vs Carlito happens a few times in Europe, Rene beats Jindrak on both sides of the tour but undercards are generally messy. Torrie Wilson vs Dawn Marie is back on! Jackie Gayda is the ref and usually favours Dawn so ends up nullified by Joy Giovanni.

VARIATIONS - FUCK

Melbourne has Rey vs Eddy as a respectful match, bit of practice for the less respectful series they’ll have shortly. Plus Heidenreich vs Holly, London vs Spike, another round of Jindrak vs Luther Reigns, and the Bashams vs Funaki & Scotty. In Perth it’s a one off Show vs Angle, Rey & Eddy defend against the Bashams plus Holly vs Reigns. In Adelaide Eddy & Rey beat Angle & Reigns. Dublin has a few bodies missing on night one so each show is a bit jumbled - on night 1 MNM beat Haas & Hardcore, it’s London vs Spike vs Billy Kidman vs Chavo Guerrero Jr, Booker pins Dupree, Reigns pins Scotty and Jindrak & Torrie (huh??) beat Carlito & Dawn Marie. Ridiculously with that variant to the Cena/JBL tag on night 2 it leaves Jordan actually defending the US belt against Taker and going on last! Plus Holly vs Dupree and Reigns over Haas. In London Carlito pins Scotty, in Bologna Dupree does a job for Nunzio and in Milan it’s Jordan doing the honours non title, Jindrak & Torrie vs Dupree and Dawn, Show pinning Heidenreich and Booker vs Carlito. Finally one unique match to Cardiff ; Dupree pins Funaki.

TVs

Nothing interesting dark on TVs after Mania - nothing much interesting at all apart from Dave annihilating Orton for a first title defence which would have been good cover for Randys absence had they not already acknowledged he was injured (fuck sake). 11th in Moline HBK does a job to Daivari live, the Heat taping has the notorious production disaster where Maven & Simon Dean beat CM Punk and Russ Simpson where Grisham and Coach refer to Punk as “Chad Collyer” and state that the TEAM is called CM Punk. Whoops. Next night in Chicago MNM debut during Carlitos Cabana and immediately target the fragile tag champs. Six days later at MSG (declared a sellout, 17,258 in the building only though) a monster double taping has London & Nunzio beat Kidman & Spike dark, then Raw has the Heart Throbs debut, Triple H do a job to Jim Ross with Batista’s help, and Hulk Hogan surprise return to save HBK from Hassan and Daivari. Umm…. maybe the gate would have been better IF THEY KNEW HOGAN WAS GOING TO BE THERE?? SmackDown meanwhile has the start of the brief Matt Morgan comeback plus MNM relieve Eddy & Rey of the belts - there’s another tiff thereafter. 25th Raw taping at the NEC (said to be 10,500 sellout) is notable only for Robbie Brookside doing a job to Simon for Heat, Regal & Tajiri losing non title (booooo) to Hassan & Daivari, and HBK and Hogan doing a backstage interview obviously taped elsewhere and elsewhen because there’s no way you fly The Hulkster to Birmingham just for that ; bet there were hundreds of disappointed kids that night. Next night in the same building (said to be 9500 sellout) Eddy & Rey lose to MNM and again tease breakup, and native Mikey Whiplash does a job for “the Blueprint.”

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE CLASH?

Absolute cop out writing SmackDown for April - with Raw having their PPV early May (literally the 1st) and the blue team at the end of May, instead of building to a big title defence on TV inbetween they just take an entire month to determine who the contender is for the title match they will build for another month. It’s not even well executed, a four way booked after a no contest in the third singles match of a six man “tournament” rendering the previous two matches pointless. And worse, it’s still JBL that wins, after much was made by Teddy of there not being a rematch clause in the Mania contract. Why is the heel defying the odds heroically?

Raw has Backlash ; SmackDown taped 26/04 (at the NEC)

WWE Title contenders : Kurt Angle vs JBL vs Booker T vs Big Show

Tag title : MNM vs Eddy Guerrero & Rey Mysterio

CWT : Paul London vs Chavo Guerrero Jr 

Matt Morgan vs Mikey Whiplash

DEPARTURES 

In Moline Molly Holly drops the fall in a tag where she and Trish lose to Christy & Victoria then she’s let go as a cost cut. On the one hand they probably only needed so many decent wrestlers at a time, and only so many of them needed to be heels, and they’re about to turn Vic. Maybe they’d reconsider if they knew how they’ll HAVE to turn Lita very shortly. It’s galling either way considering the time, effort and money they’ll spend over the years on women with little to no wrestling skill, many of whom never learn.

Matt Hardy gets his marching papers this month for going public with his mrs’ affair with Edge. By MSG chants of “You screwed Matt” are hampering Lita’s attempts to gain sympathy or support with the injury angle with Trish and odd Stockholm Syndrome alliance with Kane. As if Kane protecting a girl from Viscera (1999 vibes) wasn’t odd enough.

Luther Reigns gets his cheque for the Europe trip and this is the end of him. He claims plans were for him and Dupree to get drafted to Raw and become a tag team, but he pitched joining up with Christian and Tomko instead. When thats rejected he asks for his release which is granted in May. Guess he really didn’t rate his chances hooked to Rene’s wagon. No loss, he was fairly useless, having just been used to try and put Jindrak over which is also going to be stamped as a failure shortly. Interesting to look at the solid card for Mania and see how few faces there were in any capacity from the previous summer’s “new talent initiative.”

Finally, Rhino. Somewhat adrift after losing tag partner Tajiri to Regal, Rhino has a few too many shandies at the post WrestleMania party and has a row with his wife, as I recall some venue property gets damaged (a plant pot gets thrown) and he’s sacked as a result. He’ll get a pretty rapid recall in June for One Night Stand before heading straight into TNA to help Jeff Jarrett against Raven and ultimately Sabu - who he wrestled at One Night Stand. WWE accidentally engaging in cross-promotional storytelling! He’ll be back eventually.

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MAY 2005

THE MAIN EVENTS - RAW

We are back to Batista vs Triple H & Ric Flair in handicap matches 7th-8th in Rochester and Elmira then13th-15th in Evansville, Terre Haute and Fort Wayne. 20th-22nd its Dave and Trips in a "streetfight" in Albuquerque, Loveland (CO) and Colorado Springs. Handicap resumes 27th-29th in Tacoma, Vancouver and Victoria (BC, not Texas).

THE CARDS

Early month it’s still Chris Benoit vs Edge but Rated-R bounces back and forth between The Crippler and Kane all month once Kanes finished with Viscera, Benoit works a few with Tyson Tomko in Indiana after a hasty shuffle (see below) and also late month has to work Gene Snitsky in “ECW matches” as the build to One Night Stand intensifies. Chris Jericho vs Muhammad Hassan continues with Jericho losing early month and winning late month while Shelton Benjamin vs Christian is again the regular ICT match though through Indiana the uneasy alliance between Y2J & Shelton face Hassan & Daivari as is playing out on TV, and due to said shuffle Christians lumbered with Vis.

New tag champs Hurricane & Rosey win elimination matches against the Heart Throbs and deposed champs William Regal & Yoshihiro Tajiri in New York then beat just the Heart Throbs in Indiana, third week of the month Helms has a knock so Rosey tags with Val Venis to lose to Antonio & Romeo, then in Tacoma and BC the champs win three ways now involving Simon Dean & Maven. In lieu of a title match Christy Hemme vs Victoria goes all month, Coach is still the ref.

Chris Masters vs Steven Richards goes on for three weeks. Matt Cappotelli gets some ring time, rolling up Maven in New York and Tomko in Colorado. Bobby Lashley is getting a look with the Raw crew swapping wins with Venis in Indiana. Otherwise it’s Hassan beating Val in Rochester and Elmira, Viscera pinning Rob Conway in Colorado and late month Masters beats Tajiri and Vis pins Tomko.

VARIATIONS

Evansville has Shawn Michaels vs Christian in what’s meant to be a run but HBK injures his knee so for the rest of the run Viscera works Christian instead of Kane, Edge wrestles Kane instead of Benoit, and Benoit picks up the spare man, Tomko, who isn’t meant to wrestle. Albuquerque is plagued by transport problems for Cappotelli, Conway, Hemme, Viscera and Y2J so a stripped back card has some unique matches and substitutions. In order of intrigue ; Rosey pins Antonio instead of the scheduled tag, Val actually gets to win a match over Tomko, Benoit beats Hassan, Christian curtain jerks losing to “brother” and tentative ally Edge before his later planned defeat to Shelton, and Sylvan Grenier gets to do the wrestling and rather uniquely is defeated by Victoria (!!!). Colorado Springs has a one night swap where Shelton beats Hassan and Jericho is back with long term buddy or enemy Christian.

THE MAIN EVENTS - SMACKDOWN

There are also handicap matches on SmackDown cards - John Cena vs JBL & Orlando Jordan is on top 7th-9th in Hartford, White Plains and Newark then 14th-15th in San Francisco and Redding CA (just 7000 in the Cow Palace) it’s the same, reffed by Roddy Piper. 28th in Winnipeg and 29th in Grand Prairie (Alberta) it’s shorter cards topped with John Cena vs Kurt Angle for the belt in a cage.

THE CARDS

Booker T vs Kurt Angle runs until Judgment Day. Booker doesn’t go to Canada - as I’ve not mentioned before but noted many times, he rarely does unless there’s a PPV or TV. Big Show vs Eddy Guerrero is a fairly random match early month but mid month we start the Eddy run with Rey Mysterio (Show off in California) then in Canada Eddy takes a break, Rey challenges Orlando Jordan for the US title and it’s Show vs Carlito & Matt Morgan handicap match.

MNM vs Hardcore Holly & Charlie Haas is our tag title match every night. CWT has Paul London vs Spike Dudley early month, then the battle royal thereafter. John Heidenreich vs Rene Dupree is a sandwich month with reinvented “harmless moron” babyface John beating Spike in Cali. Otherwise it’s Carlito vs Nunzio in the North East, Morgan vs Sho Funaki mid month and Scotty Too Hotty vs Akio and Torrie Wilson vs Michelle McCool in Canada. There are bikini contests before the main events most of the month but JBL interrupts them for heat.

The Undertaker is off the road and also not booked for the PPV. We’re in another of his part time runs.

VARIATIONS - NOT ONE

TVs

2nd at the FleetCenter (just 6500) we have the Gold Rush tournament quarters which includes the forgotten sight of Triple H tapping again to Benoit, and a proper Coliseum dark main of Batista & HBK vs HHH & Edge. Next night in Trenton Big Vito tries out again losing to Haas, and the Maximo Twins (aka SAT) do a handicap job for Show on Velocity AND Rob Eckos (eventually Robbie E in TNA) loses to Morgan on SmackDown - this being the episode Eddy full blown turns on Rey for the last and possibly best heel run of his career. 9th in Wilkes-Barre Cappotelli loses a dark match to Richards, CM Punk loses to Val on Heat, and a dark main has Batista crush Hassan and Daivari. Next night in Reading, Punk beats Amazing Red, the Maximos lose to the increasingly irrelevant Basham Brothers on Velocity and on SmackDown Jimmy Jacobs, then ROH Tag Team Champion and future writing staff member, actually goes over Eddy by DQ when he sustains a brainbuster on a chair. As old as I often feel when I see how old some of the wrestlers are today I was amazed to learn Jacobs is only 39. Dark main is what’s on the road - Cena over JBL & Jordan. 16th in Omaha Trevor Murdoch is on Heat losing to Conway and Edge wins the Gold Rush when they finally turn Lita heel. Oh, and this week is the first week Stacy Keibler accompanies the tag champs. Next night in Sioux City the free fall of the US title continues as Jordan loses non title to Heidenreich and Morgan becomes Carlito’s bodyguard. 23rd in Green Bay Punk beats Cappotelli dark ahead of the huge Raw (see below), next night in Milwaukee Punk jobs for Scotty and the Worm. 30th they tape Raw in Calgary and it’s a real mixed blessing for the locals - while it’s odd to have Benoit lose (vs Edge) and Jericho only make Heat (beating Simon), dark bonus is Harry Smith vs Teddy Hart and on Heat Maven finds himself turned over by short term returnee Lance Storm - hometown pop AND it helps push One Night Stand! Next night in Edmonton Harry loses to George King dark and Teddy tags with JD Michaels to lose to the Bashams on Velocity. Michaels would end up as JD Maverick in OVW, and Teddy… I don’t have space for here, really. Christ.

What happened at the Clash?

A fierce month end episode of Raw between Backlash and Vengeance built around Batista defending the belt against Gold Rush tournament winner (and briefcase holder) Edge with tons of interference from Christian & Tomko for Edge and Ric Flair for Dave - as we’d learn at the end, preserving the belt because it’s the right of Triple H to take it from Batista and nobody else. Plus build for One Night Stand continues including a memorable three way chat between messers McMahon, Bischoff and Heyman. I’m not going to lie, I assumed leading up to this show that the point of Edge earning a second title shot would be that he’d get disqualified for using a chair or his briefcase or something, then cash in to take the belt - a finish they’ve still never done with the MITB plot device all these years later.

SmackDown has Judgment Day ; Raw 23/05

World title : Batista vs Edge

ECW Rules : Chris Benoit vs Yoshihiro Tajiri

Handicap : Shelton Benjamin vs Muhammad Hassan & Daivari

Chris Jericho vs Sylvan Grenier

Chris Masters vs Steven RIchards

DEPARTURE

So, technically he’s going to appear at One Night Stand helping his “brothers” and technically his release doesn’t finally come until July, but this is the last month of bookings on the road for Spike Dudley. The very definition of “ran out of ideas” for his character, having been aligned with Bubba and D-Von as heels and faces and been at odds with them, as soon as they stopped getting used it seemed inevitable he’d get cut.

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JUNE 2005

This is a wacky month. One Night Stand pops up just as the draft has started and there are a nutty few weeks where the company has Raw include all of John Cena (WWE Champ), Batista (World Heavyweight champ), Triple H, Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, Edge, Kane plus Cena’s current enemy Chris Jericho and months-long verbal antagonist Christian, long term ICT holder Shelton Benjamin and new rival Carlito, leaving SmackDown with little to offer other than Rey vs Eddy, a title scene threatening to revolve around JBL (ugh), a knackered Big Show and part time Taker, with only obvious help at the top in the draft being Randy Orton who isnt back from injury yet, and Chris Benoit who’s on the slide. Still, they draft Dave last minute. Imagine if they actually perceived with “SmackDown Championship” as a third tier belt while all the stars wrestled for TWO other titles on the flagship show??? Mix that with the ECW alumni, some of whom land contracts, and a whole load of guys disappearing… this one took me a while.

Oh, and Hogan comes back again.

THE MAIN EVENTS - RAW

3rd in Huntington, 4th in Dayton and 5th in Rockford it’s still Batista vs Triple H in the streetfight stip. After One Night Stand 17th in Portland (OR) and 18th in Boise the same between the two PPVs. 30th in Seoul we’re kicking off another nutty tour and it’s cross brand fun with Dave and John Cena going over Hunter and JBL

THE CARDS

Edge vs Kane continues in Huntington and mid month (and Seoul) as does the departing Chris Benoit beating Gene Snitsky ; Kane misses the other two shows so The Crippler beats Edge in a tables match with Snitsky unsuccessfully interfering. We start with Chris Jericho vs Muhammad Hassan (yes, Y2J still jobbing) and Shelton Benjamin vs Christian for the ICT before moving to a three way for the gold and Hassan mid month gets to lose to Shawn Michaels - as if seeing HBK wrestle wasn’t enough of a thrill for Portland, he has local legend Roddy Piper in his corner. These being runs that wrap because Hassan, Christian and Benoit are all SmackDown bound.

It’s Hurricane & Rosey vs Simon Dean & Maven for the tag belts early month then an eliminator also involving The Heart Throbs mid month. Otherwise before One Night Stand shows continue to feature Chris Masters vs Yoshihiro Tajiri, Viscera vs Rob Conway and Christy Hemme vs Victoria, then on the way to Vengeance Tajiri is beating Tyson Tomko and - how about this one? - Masters is beating Sgt Slaughter. Still going.

VARIATIONS 

The only fully-Raw exception in Seoul has Jericho beat Benjamin, plus newly property of SmackDown Benoit tags with on off partner HBK to drop fellow migrants to the blue brand, Hassan & Daivari.

THE MAIN EVENTS - SMACKDOWN

The John Cena vs JBL & Orlando Jordan handicap match continues 4th in Peoria and 5th in Des Moines, before we’re back off on tour again. 16th in Glasgow, 18th in Dublin and 19th in Manchester there are huge gates for Cena vs JBL vs Kurt Angle with a reprise of the handicap match 17th in Aberdeen - all mains are ref’d by Steve Austin. Back home, 26th in San Jose they’ve got Cena off the show because he’ll be on the Raw PPV in Vegas so The Undertaker subs into the handicap match.

THE CARDS

Eddy Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio goes on abroad, in San Jose (best of 3) and Seoul (No DQ) but Rey must still not be fit early month as Scotty Too Hotty substitutes. Booker T vs Kurt Angle concludes early month and one last pinfall win for T in Aberdeen. The Dudley Boys vs Carlito & Matt Morgan in a pair of tables matches is quite a swansong for the Duds (they win as well) on the build for One Night Stand then right before he’s drafted Carlito’s wrapping up his losses to Big Show on the tour and in Seoul (non-ICT).

MNM vs Hardcore Holly & Charlie Haas concludes domestically, in the British Isles it’s usually Hardcore & Booker. Paul London is beating Chavo Guerrero Jr in CWT defences at home (and Aberdeen) then usually Billy Kidman on the tour, while Chavo has to do jobs to Sho Funaki. Early month has Mark Jindrak vs Rene Dupree (which reprises in San Jose) and Torrie Wilson vs Jackie Gayda while the last regular meetings on tour is Orlando Jordan vs John Heidenreich for the US title (ugh) and Jindrak jobbing for future tag partner Morgan.

VARIATIONS

Glasgow has a one night reunion of Los Guerreros to lose to London & Rey (oosh) which bounces Kidman to losing to Funaki. Aberdeen is completely unique to the other three nights ; aside from Cena, Angle and Londons matches there’s a one off Eddy vs Show, Mysterio beats Carlito, Jindrak tags with Hardcore to lose to MNM, Kidman jobs for Heidenreich and Funaki for Morgan. San Jose stands alone on the afternoon of Vengeance ; Show tags with draftee Chris Benoit to beat fellow noobs Muhammad Hassan & Daivari, London wins a battle royal last eliminating the freshly debuted Juventud Guerrera (oh boy), the Basham Brothers get added to MNM vs Booker & Hardcore, Haas upsets Morgan, and a bikini contest is won by Wilson where half the field don’t get used on the road again. Seoul has a hell of an exception for the top SmackDown-only match ; they go back to The Undertaker vs Kurt Angle as they frequently did for overseas crowds. Otherwise London beats Chavo and Funaki, and I should mention they have Jordan do a non-title job to Raws Yoshihiro Tajiri - because the Japanese lad should win big in South Korea, I guess.

TVs

6th in St Louis (10,000 for Raw) Bobby Lashley beats Trevor Rhodes (Murdoch) dark, Conway pins Sylvain Grenier on Heat to end the La Res feud you forgot, ECW turn up including the Dudleys return, dark after air Batista pins Triple H for the millionth time and if untelevised matches before and after tapings weren’t enough, Kane manages to squash Simon during one of the ad breaks. Also Jimmy Jacobs and Ace Steel are used as coppers in a segment. 7th in Kansas City (just 4000 for SmackDown) Trev loses to Dupree and his new “serious wrestler” submission finish, and ECW makes its presence known on SmackDown  including the returning (for a bit) Tommy Dreamer and Rhino, plus The Sandman, Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney - there are some names I never expected to see on a WWE program.  Night after One Night Stand Psicosis & Super Crazy tag in a dark match to beat TNT (“Texas” and “Tennessee” about whom I know nothing) and Kid Kash loses to Tajiri on Heat which Kash has described as a tryout. After a live show where Y2J turns heel on Cena, Steve Austin is involved in Hassan’s story and Kurt Angle is drafted (and seriously by now SmackDown is sobbing in the corner listening to Air Supply) Kane beats Edge by DQ and Dave pins Hunter in another streetfight. Next night in Hershey Nunzio & Big Vito beat Trev and (still) Garrison Cade dark, a momentous Velocity has blows off the Jindrak v Dupree run, Juvi debut beating Funaki and Akio & Kidman do the honours for Psicosis & Super Crazy then on the SmackDown taping Randy Orton returns to interfere costing Undertaker a pinfall loss to JBL about a year too late to do any good. 20th in Phoenix is noteworthy only because on his way out before getting drafted Hassan does his first TV pinfall loss in 2 minutes to Cena with zero build ; what a waste. Next night in Tucson Scotty & Shannon Moore tag to beat Cade & Rhodes dark, and Velocity has some more squeezing out job value for Akio (to Benoit) and Kidman (to Booker) - the three MexiCools debut attacking London & Chavo on SmackDown. Finally Anaheim the night after Vengeance has Val Venis pin Maven dark and I need to mention one of my favourite Raw episodes of all time with a Kurt Angle vs Ric Flair match which I consider rather unique, and Hulk Hogan rocking up to partner HBK and Cena to drop C-Squared and Tomko on Christians last match on Raw.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE CLASH?

Odd one here. Taped the night after Vengeance in the Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim in front of near 15,500 it’s a colossal double Raw/SmackDown taping. For the SmackDown after Vengeance, the matches mostly existed to set up other stuff with like Chavos grief with the interfering MexiCools, the meandering crawl towards MNM vs Heidenreich +1, and the build begins for Taker vs Hassan during the main. That being, a six way with a week build up suggesting it would be a “SmackDown Championship” and yes they called it that, which delivered over 30 minutes of action but served only to reveal Big Dave had been drafted bringing Big Gold with him and saving the show from the ignominy of having to make up a third belt - we never found out what was in Teddy’s back. Usually I’d despise such a bait n switch, but Teddy screwing over JBL was funny. The match also served to pretend they were serious about last minute addition Christian as a main event player, but that doesn’t happen, with knock on effects to come. Overall was it a big episode? Yes. Was it also enjoyable? Yes also, if a one match show.

Incidentally the planned result for Taker vs Hassan should be obvious given that it was originally announced as a number one contenders match, what with Batista holding the belt and the build already started for a Taker/Orton rematch with one eye on SummerSlam, but I’ll get to that next month.

Raw has Vengeance ; SmackDown taped 27/06

“SmackDown title” : The Undertaker vs JBL vs Chris Benoit vs Booker T vs Christian vs Muhammad Hassan

CWT : Paul London vs Chavo Guerrero Jr 

Michelle McCool vs Melina

DEPARTURES - FUCK MY LIFE

We simply have to start with the Dudley Boys. To add to LSD last entry, Bubba and D-Von are among the budget cuts that will be announced first week of July after their last appearance at One Night Stand, after months of not being used. A legal standoff will ensue over use of “Dudley” for wrestling (Black Country represent) leading to years of enmity with the company but of course they eventually come back for one last run even if the final title reign eludes them.

Maven is another victim having just found somewhat of a niche as a comedy midcard heel. Shannon Moore ends up cut, having become little more than a face in the crowd in an increasingly stale CWT division which has just added four fresh faces. Jimmy Yang (Akio) is also cut. Both will get second chances down the road. Billy Kidman is probably the most notable Cruiserweight cut, apparently he fell out with management over no longer getting first class travel on overseas flights after the UK jaunt. Wonder if that perk was still afforded his Mrs? Speaking of office romances Charlie Haas and Jackie Gayda both lose out. Charlie simply never found his spot without Shelton and was cursed with the “good hand” tag, although he’ll be back too. Jackie never recovered as a wrestler after that disastrous mixed tag on Raw and in the “Diva” stakes the company pushed her down our throats as hotter than hell, but she was nothing special so nobody cared. Similarly Joy Giovanni gets let go after months of serving no particular purpose. There are a couple more but I’ll include them in Julys entry because reasons.

The most egregious of all in my mind however is Dawn Marie. Last used on the road in April on a European tour, she took time off because she was pregnant. She then appeared at One Night Stand, clearly pregnant, then the company released her in early July, while pregnant. She sued them for wrongful dismissal e.g that they let her go BECAUSE she was pregnant. It was settled out of court, in other words rather than fight to prove her wrong, WWE threw money at it to make it go away, as they tended to. Quite the cost cutting exercise Dawn turned out to be. Unsurprisingly, she hasn’t been back.

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Posted (edited)

JULY 2005

There's some of the wildest Coliseum Video mains of all time here. Plus in general it’s another crazy month for throwing all kinds of shit at the wall.

THE MAIN EVENTS - RAW

We're starting the month in Saitama for two big cross brand nights - its Batista & John Cena vs Triple H & JBL in a return match from Seoul, then 2nd we have the last of the Batista/Trips streetfights although technically the match involving Raw's champ is Cena vs JBL & Orlando Jordan in a handicap match. 15th-17th in Lexington, Louisville and Wildwood NJ we have a run begin that definitely didn't play out on TV - John Cena vs Triple H for the belt. 23rd in Utica and afternoon of 24th in Watertown NY its Cena vs Chris Jericho, 29th in Hampton Beach NH, 30th at my favourite venue, Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis and 31st at the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset, local lad Cena is having his first defences against briefcase-wielding Edge.

THE CARDS

Mid month and end of month either side of New York state Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair is back on - those two probably wrestled each other 100 times by now. Kurt Angle vs Eugene is quite an auspicious start to Angle on the road with Raw - Kurt’s winning in New York but incredibly losing to his own Olympic Slam in Hampton Beach and Hyannis. ICT of Carlito vs Shelton Benjamin rematches are nearly every night. Kane & Big Show vs Edge & Gene Snitsky is a mid month tag then it’s a return to Kane getting revenge on the Rated-R Superstar one on one in New York (Edge having pinned him in Saitama) while Show is participating in the Masterlock Challenge with Chris Masters - this becomes a match through MA while Edge is main event, Kane gets a break.

Hurricane & Rosey vs The Heart Throbs for the tag belts goes all month, as does Christy Hemme vs Victoria with the Diva Search winner getting revenge wins - Maria is sometimes ring announcing. Rest of the cards see Viscera vs Tyson Tomko and Kerwin White vs Yoshihiro Tajiri mid month, Vis squashing Rene Dupree in New York, then Viscera vs Snitsky, and White vs Chris Cage month end.

Fun fact about the Kerwin White character - Chavo actually pitched that he’d eventually reveal that he’d became a Klan member, because he thought it would get heat. Umm…

VARIATIONS 

Night one in Saitama (9500) is nearly entirely rematches from Seoul - Show vs Carlito continues over from SmackDown (non title), Chris Jericho beats Shelton, HBK tag with Chris Benoit to beat Muhammad Hassan & Daivari in a tag that’s now 3/4 SmackDown after the draft, and Tajiri beats US champ Orlando Jordan non title. Next night (12,500) Matt Morgan tags with Carlito one last time to face Show and respectful rival Akebono - real local interest there. Plus Shelton loses to Benoit, Tajiri pins Hassan (!) and in the top Raw-only match HBK pins Y2J.

In Louisville a bonus for the locals has OVW tag champs Tank & Chad Toland (future Dicks) retain over Matt Cappotelli & Johnny Jeter. In Utica Rob Conway is on the road with his new Con Man gimmick beating Val Venis, in Watertown he’s actually a third participant in the regular ICT meeting. Finally Kurt’s off for Cohasset so Eugene beats White and Vals on hand to do a job for Snitsky.

THE MAIN EVENTS - SMACKDOWN

Saitama we've covered. 11th with our old friends in Portland ME with Big Dave needed for a pre-advertised Raw taping its The Undertaker vs Muhammad Hassan. 16th hilariously in Frederick MD the poor 1800 sods at Harry Grove Stadium (a baseball park) have their card rained off after the third match, 17th in Ocean City we have Batista vs JBL before - uh oh - 18th in Asbury Park is cancelled, as is 25th in Erie the night after the Bash, 30th in Bangor and 31st in Burlington we're back on with the same title match on last. At least those cancellations allow Batista and JBL to go work dark matches in front of the Raw viewers, where it counts....

THE CARDS

Between cancellations, transportation issues and weather it’s hard but not impossible to get an idea of the cards. Rey Mysterio vs Eddy Guerrero goes on either side of the PPV (and night 1 of Saitama) including streetfights or falls anywhere, Booker T vs Christian starts the month then it switches to Orlando Jordan vs Booker vs Chris Benoit vs Christian for the US belt - Jordan having just worked the last babyface run of William Regal. We have MNM vs John Heidenreich & Hardcore Holly for the tag straps before the Bash then after it Heidenreich and Road Warrior Animal are giving the rematches to Nitro and Mercury. Incidentally Michelle McCool has gone to Deep South for more dev so the female counter to Melina is now Candice Michelle which I have zero problem with. 

Paul London vs Juventud Guerrera for the CWT goes all month, blighted as it is by interference from his mates. Speaking of, Psicosis & Super Crazy vs Nunzio & Big Vito is exactly the kind of random thrown together ex ECW and WCW lads nonsense I expect for the time and goes all month. Otherwise we have Muhammad Hassan vs Scotty Too Hotty and Boogey Man vs Doug Basham before the PPV and Boogey beating Steven Richards after it plus Bobby Lashley pinning newly heel Regal after distraction from Scotty.

VARIATIONS 

As well as Eddy vs Rey, night one in Saitama has the last singles version of London vs Chavo Guerrero Jr plus The Undertaker vs Kurt Angle (the latter now on Raw, of course). Next night it’s London vs Chavo vs Sho Funaki, and a huge cross show six man of Taker, Kane and Rey putting down Angle, Edge and Eddy. Plus, big fun after the Cena/JBL & Jordan handicap where it gets physical between Bradshaw and official Ricky Steamboat - the Dragon comes out on top because of course he does. Portland has a unique card as it often did. Eddy, Hardcore and Psicosis all miss it so as well as the main and Jordan vs Benoit, Heidenreich tags with Regal for his nightly loss to MNM, CWT becomes London vs Juvi vs Super Crazy, and the Shane Twins are on hand to help by jobbing for Nunzio & Vito. Also Sylvain Grenier beats Scotty - I couldn’t tell you if he has the model gimmick yet.

TVs

4th in Sacramento (10,000 gate) is another wild double taping. Shelton beats Conway as a dark match, Chavo becomes Kerwin White, Hulk Hogan & HBK beat Angle & Carlito after which Shawn immediately turns on the Hulkster, The Blue Meanie pins JBL after interference from Batista, Morgan vs Regal is a non start when all three MexiCools attack Morgan on the ramp, and Taker pins Daivari after which the infamous masked “terrorists”/garrotte angle plays out which Sky (among other broadcasters) refuse to air and ultimately will cost Hassan his job. 11th at the former Meadowlands (9000) Axl Rotten & Balls Mahoney try out against Damian Adams & Johnny Candido (yes, brother of Chris) and on Heat Victoria beats Talia Madison who eventually will be better known as Velvet Sky, live on Raw Kurt beats Matt Striker in his invitational and draws attention to Striker being in the news as the teacher that called in sick to go wrestle, and Matt Hardy comes out of the crowd to worked-shoot attack Edge before getting dragged off by security while shouting about “Adam, you bastard” and “Lita, you whore” and proclaiming “Come and see me at Ring Of Honor”… AND dark after the show, cross brand fun has Batista & Cena beat mutual enemy JBL and Triple H (currently off TV). Pause for breath! Next night in Worcester, Balls & Axl beat the Shane Twins dark, Frankie Kazarian makes his first notable on Velocity as an active roster member beating Nunzio after having a contract since February, Animal shows up to save Heidenreich from MNM and after the show is the same mega tag main (yes, Hunter works a Tuesday). 18th in Philly (6000 only at the Wachovia which is now the Wells Fargo) Balls & Axl put over Garrison Cade & Trevor Rhodes dark, Matt attacks Edge on the live show again, and after the show - this is crazy - Hulk Hogan, John Cena & Batista vs Shawn Michaels, Triple H & JBL happens. Next night in Baltimore (just 5500), Rhodes & Cade do a job dark to Nunzio & Vito, RIchards, Meanie and Nova work a six man as the blue World order and Kazarian pins Scotty on Velocity plus Balls & Axl are scrubbed (see below) for Danny Doring & Roadkill in a loss to MNM and after tapings Batista, Taker & Rey beat JBL, Eddy and yes, Triple H, when Hunter jobs for a Tombstone. 25th in Cleveland (7000 in what used to be a good market) dark matches have CM Punk beats Rob Begley (soon to be and still known as Vik Dalishus) and the McAllister lads (soon to be Highlanders) lose to Cappotelli and - look who it is! - Mike Mizanin. Plus Heat tapes the first match for Johnny Parisi (aka Swinger), live Eugene returns and wins the Kurt Angle Invitational, plus for reasons that elude me Viscera and Antonio from the Heart Throbs are on opposite sides of a mixed midget tag, then dark Cena & Batista beat Angle & JBL via stereo pin. Next night in Rochester Robbie & Rory again lose to Miz & Cappotelli before the show, Kazarian pins Funaki on Velocity, and on SmackDown proper Eddy announces he’s Dominick’s papi, Jillian Hall debuts as MNMs “fixer”, for the second month in a row Randy Orton causes Taker to lose a match to JBL by pin, and after the show Batista pins Bradshaw.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE CLASH?

Really not a great example this month, they’re relying more on episodic “can’t miss” ongoing development on their way to the next show rather than a giant title match as a buffer between PPVs. That’s not to say they don’t do a fair bit on the night after the Bash ; the stretcher match is more climactic than even the cage match the week before, Lita taking a Tombstone on the stage afterwards. Plus HBK does an in ring interview rebuttal to Hogans the week before, and Cena and Jericho continue the build to SummerSlam with a “battle of the bands” stand off of their live musical performances before Jericho is the Bischoff-appointed ref for Cena vs Carlito. Plus Eugene’s surprise return, going the 3 minutes and winning Kurt’s medals.

SmackDown has the Great American Bash - Raw 25/07

Non Title/Y2J as ref : John Cena vs Carlito

Stretcher match : Kane vs Edge

Kurt Angle Invitational

Handicap : Shelton Benjamin vs Chris Masters & Gene Snitsky

Viscera & Cloacas vs Antonio & Pocket Rocket

DEPARTURES

Two more to report from the early month cost cut releases - Mark Jindrak finally joins the rest of the Natural Born Thrillers on the scrap heap, having failed to get over as the babyface in his falling out with Luther Reigns and spent his June putting over Rene Dupree both on the road and on TV.  Matt Morgan has just finished a stretch back on TV being Carlitos back up, but then not joined him getting drafted to Raw. He’s done the Asia trip then and filmed the non start with Regal, then they let him go, despite him getting a fair few wins over undercard babyfaces recently - including over Jindrak - and being gifted a nice finish in the Hellevator. These two will shortly tag as the delightfully named Sodom and Gomorrah in Hustle! Jindrak will later work New Japan and Morgan All Japan in RO&D before Morgan ends up in TNA and gets over to a degree, and Jindrak gets another colourful moniker and a measure of success as Marco Corleone in AAA and later CMLL.

He’s in and he’s out! The Blue Meanie completes a short term deal - including a PPV cheque for the Great American Bash - as a means of make-good for the kicking JBL gave him at One Night Stand. The bWo was a one note joke anyway, Richards was already employed (for a couple more months anyway) and Nova of course has his own gig going as Simon Dean, so it worked out fine for everyone concerned. I still laugh watching the Blue Boy stuff from 2000 and remembering he puts the weight back on.

Axl Rotten & Balls Mahoney is not a real departure as both were just trying out rather than contracted but it’s a story worth telling. In his hometown of Baltimore, the Maryland State Athletic Commission refuses to grant Axl a license to wrestle apparently for insufficient evidence that he took care of a medical issue post discharge from hospital back in 1998 (gallbladder IIRC). So WWE leave the pair of them for now. Both will be picked back up in 2006 in the build up to the second One Night Stand and launch of “WWECW” but Rotten no shows his first scheduled show so WWE drops him - a fan of the old Tony Lynch and a limited performer, Axl Rotten in 2006 was the definition of “not worth the hassle.” He dies of, unexpectedly, a heroin overdose in a hotel in suburban Baltimore in Feb 2016, a mere two months before Balls dies.

Finally, Muhammad Hassan. It’s pretty well known why the character got the chop, with the implied extremists/terrorist slant a particular tasteless one even if it hadn’t coincided horrifically with the 7/7 London tube bombing. It was back to the drawing board for the actually American-Italian Hassan, but he’d get released in September and not do a whole lot more wrestling ever again. What’s probably not discussed enough is that original plan was to ride that heat - nuclear, cheap as it was - to a win over Taker and then incredibly to unseating Big Dave for Big Gold at SummerSlam. Can you imagine??

Some footage exists of that six man but not much

 

For those still reading ; feedback welcome. Is the format OK, should anything change, was it better when both sets of main events were at the top, should I dwell less on TV turns/debuts/developments and just stick to road results and dark matches… anything.

Edited by air_raid
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Yes, please keep the format as is, loving reading this. It's an era that I was watching, but where most of is has kind of blurred together or faded entirely from memory, so a good refresher on some midcard weirdness I'd forgotten all about.

I had no idea Akebono had done a WWE match, even on a house show, after his Wrestlemania match. I wonder if they ever considered bringing him in full-time?

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1 hour ago, Dai said:

I always thought the story on Axl was that he died in a McDonalds toilet, not in a hotel? Maybe something Im getting my wires crossed with.

From wiki,

'Knighton was found dead by police in a McDonald's bathroom next to the hotel he was staying at in Linthicum, Maryland, on February 4, 2016. An autopsy showed that Knighton's cause of death was a heroin overdose.'

That is proper grim.

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Posted (edited)

AUGUST 2005

THE MAIN EVENTS - RAW

5th-7th in Syracuse, Albany and Youngstown the champ is not here so it’s Shawn Michaels vs Edge. Both crews are then off to Ontario and while John Cena makes 12th in Kitchener, 13th/14th in Kingston and Ottawa he misses so Edge is with Big Show on last. 26th in San Juan, Puerto Rico a great 13,200 gate has the first of our new run - John Cena vs Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels, which continues the next two nights in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

THE CARDS

Kurt Angle vs Eugene has losses for Kurt at home but wins in Canada before Kurt returns to main event. Chris Jericho vs Gene Snitsky is an addition for Ontario shows missed by Cena ; Y2J as the hero for his last road gigs for years. ICT still features Carlito vs Shelton Benjamin rematches up to SummerSlam. Big Show vs Chris Masters starts the month, giving way to Masters beating unlikely babyface Rene Dupree in Ontario - Show vs Edge main events you know about, which continues on the midcard in San Juan and Fort Lauderdale. Otherwise when scheduled matches occur in isolation (see above and below) in Kitchener and Orlando, Shows actually with his intended opponent, Snitsky.

Tag title of Hurricane & Rosey vs The Heart Throbs continues early month before in Ontario we switch to Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch who finally have their eventual ring names. Cade’s the only Lance in town, must have been a relief to not be “Garrison” any more. Month end it’s back to Antonio & Romero for the super heroes. Christy Hemme is still beating Victoria in New York and Ohio, which is the end of her on the road for Raw before being traded to SmackDown, which is a bit of a death knell for her WWE career. After SummerSlam Vic does jobs for incoming tradee Torrie Wilson - whose buddy Candice Michelle ring announces then saves Torrie from a post match assault, which makes little sense as those two have just been turned heel on TV (and Vic will end up joining them).

Kerwin White over Val Venis and Chris Cage & Mike Mizanin doing the job for Cade & Murdoch round out early month. In Canada Cage & Miz beat Robbie & Rory McAllister, and Rob Conway vs Viscera coming out of an interview Conway interrupts conducted by Stacy Keibler with local fave Trish Stratus - which makes no sense as it was Viscera that “injured” Trish at Backlash. Month end Eugene is pinning Tyson Tomko except in Orlando (see below), Masters back with Val, Vis squashing Snitsky and Kerwin beating Yoshihiro Tajiri in Florida but getting a DQ in San Juan for using his golf club.

Fun bonuses late month have Carlito hosting Carlitos Cabana where Ric Flair saves the guest from abuse - in Orlando it’s Candice but in San Juan, just for the locals, it’s Carlos Colon - Carlito actually attacks his own dad.

VARIATIONS

Matt Hardy is finally back on the road in Orlando doing a double DQ with Edge, bouncing Show back to Snitsky, so opening the matches Tomko beats Eugene quickly but then loses to Vis straight after. The rest we’ve covered.

MAIN EVENTS - SMACKDOWN

1st in Poughkeepsie it’s a main advertised last month for Portland that didn’t happen ; The Undertaker vs Eddy Guerrero. 6th/7h in Knoxville and Johnson City it’s back to Batista vs JBL for the belt on top before 8th in Charleston (WV) Dave has another Raw commitment so Taker/Eddy goes on last. 13th-14th however in London and Owen Sound (Ontario) Evolution explodes! - it’s Batista vs Randy Orton for the belt for the first time. Certainly not the last. Next night Dave is again advertised for the gigantic Raw taping in Montreal so in Peterborough rather unsurprisingly Taker subs against his SummerSlam opponent. 22nd in Richmond the night after SummerSlam a mad six man has Batista, Chris Benoit & Rey Mysterio vs JBL, Orlando Jordan and Eddy kick off in the wake of an interference-laden US title three way, then 27th-29th in Raleigh, Florence and North Charleston we kick off Batista vs Eddy Guerrero for the belt, the latter of which ends not in a pin but interference leading to Batista & Benoit vs Eddy & Jordan, after Benoit vs Jordan already happened earlier. VFM.

THE CARDS

The Undertaker vs Eddy Guerrero is a run at semi-main while it’s Orlando Jordan vs Rey Mysterio vs Christian for the US title, early month. A rare Canada trip for Booker T sees him beat Jordan by DQ followed by the old impromptu tag where T & Rey beat Orlando and Christian. After SummerSlam Randy Orton is back on the road full time getting disqualified against Mysterio, Benoit is giving Jordan the rematch, and Booker is back with Christian either in singles or as the old impromptu tag after Benoit vs Jordan breaks down. MNM do jobs for Psicosis & Super Crazy while unencumbered by the belts early month then getting more rematches with John Heidenreich & Animal in Canada and the South - where newly traded Christy Hemme and MNM associate Jillian Hall are duelling ring announcers!

CWT becomes Nunzio vs Paul London rematches early month then three ways of Nunzio vs Juventud Guerrera vs Sho Funaki in Ontario and Funaki one on one after SummerSlam. It’s usually Hardcore Holly vs Simon Dean, Heidenreich vs Sylvain Grenier, Juventud vs Big Stevie Cool and Scotty Too Hotty & Funaki losing to William Regal and new protege Paul Burchill early month. In Ontario, Bobby Lashley squashes Simon, Hardcore teams with Johnny Jeter (Spirit Squad Johnny) to lose to the MexiCools, and Ken Anderson (…… Anderson!!!) is on the road pinning Scotty - which continues post PPV and rechristening as Kennedy. It’s also Regal & Burchill losing to the MexiCools and Hardcore pinning Mike Knox.

VARIATIONS 

Poughkeepsie has Jordan vs Rey one on one plus Benoit vs Booker vs Christian, the end of runs like London vs Juvi, Psicosis/Super Crazy vs Nunzio & Big Vito, Lashley vs Regal, Scotty vs Richards and  Heidenreich & Animal vs MNM. In Knoxville Regal tags with Lashley, in Charleston an undercard swap has Holly beat Grenier, Juvi beat Simon and Heidenreich over Richards. Richmonds US title match is Benoit vs Jordan vs Christian, they get an awesome exception of an immediate Taker vs Orton rematch, plus Nunzio over Funaki, Juvi and - back already? - Brian Kendrick, Booker over Kennedy, Regal over Hardcore, Psicosis & Super Crazy over Richards & Scotty, and… yay, a bikini contest, won by Stacy Keibler before the episode revealing her and Christy getting “traded” to SmackDown has even been taped much less aired. Regal doesn’t make Raleigh so Burchill loses to Psicosis in singles.

TVs

1st in Uncasville (6000 sellout in a small building looks better on TV than a half full arena) Chris Cage and CM Punk (a couple of months signed) go over “Garrison Cade & Trevor Rhodes”, Heat taping has Matt Striker get off the mark against Johnny Parisi, live Raw has Vince reintroduce Matt Hardy AND they dust off Tatanka as the “local” for the Eugene Invitational, plus dark Batista pins JBL - Dave still fulfilling shows he’s been advertised for. There’s a dark rematch of the Punk tag next night in Bridgeport as well as Frankie Kazarian dropping Danny Doring, Velocity actually has a title change as Nunzio relieves London of the CWT, a match where Psicosis & Super Crazy beat a dysfunctional Regal & Scotty is taped for SmackDown but doesn’t air, and dark Dave drops JBL again. 8th in Pittsburgh (11,000) Danny Basham reverts to Damaja and beats Cage dark, Tomko starts doing his KO gimmick on Heat, Matt is back in the ring on Raw against Snitsky, and dark there is John Cena, Batista & Hulk Hogan vs Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels & JBL. Next night in Columbus a loaded Velocity has Nunzio over Jimmy Jacobs, Kazarian actually goes over recent champ London, and Anderson debuts on TV as a proper character beating Funaki. On SmackDown the mystery opponent gimmick has Kamala dusted off for a non finish with Orton (why don’t I remember this??) they re-tape the tag where Regal walks out on Scotty and dark Batista drops JBL in a streetfight. 15th in Montreal Cage & Miz beat the McAllister/Highlanders dark, this being the Raw where HBK fakes bring Bret out and concluding with Hulk Hogan vs Kurt Angle with Shawn running in. Coliseum Video exclusive main has, again, Cena, Batista and Hogan over Shawn, Kurt and JBL. I find Dave as babyface main eventer in the ring with Shawn and Kurt fascinating for the time period and I bet JBL hammed it up great for The Hulkster. Next night in Toronto (7500 for the Air Canada must have disappointed) Lashley pins Jeter before tapings and after it Batista vs JBL ends no contest then Teddy makes a TAG MATCH PLAYA with JBL & Orton vs Dave and THA UNDERTAKER. 22nd in Hampton VA (a nice little 7500 sellout) Damaja beats Caprice Coleman dark, Striker and Parisi both get matches on Heat, on Raw Shawn turns himself back babyface, Torrie and Candice reveal they’ve been traded and immediately turn by attacking Ashley Massaro, Cena sends Y2J packing then after air he and HBK drop Angle and Chris Masters. Next night in Greensboro (just 5000) Coleman makes Velocity losing, in a nice bit of symmetry, to Doug Basham, and Burchill appears on TV for the first time attacking Scotty, the Palmer Canon character debuts on SmackDown and while there’s no dark match there is a lingerie contest between Christy and Stacy which doesn’t make air (but is shown on WWE.com for those “Internet fans” they love to denigrate). 29th in Tampa (an improved 8500) - I can’t believe this!! Dennis Knight (yes, Mideon) gets ANOTHER look, beating Antonio Banks of ROH sister fed FIP - he will be in later as MVP. Striker and Parisi do jobs for Conway and Eugene respectively on Heat, on Raw Ashley wrestles and gets squashed by Vic, Tomko drops Rosey by KO, and dark main is a notable step down - Cena & Show vs Angle & Snitsky. Finally next night in Jacksonville (5000 sell out) those Shane Twins are about again beating Banks and legendary 90s jobber Buck Quartermaine, Vito pins Steven Richards which doesn’t make TV but does show on WWE.com, Velocity has Kendrick actually beat London and Super Crazy pin Nunzio non title (booooo), on SmackDown Christy vs Stacy is interrupted by “Sylvan” doing the model schtick, Christian costs Booker against Kennedy (big scalp early for Ken) and dark Batista pins Orton.

I forgot to mention last entry what an abomination I thought it was that they jobbed out MNM - new heel unit that got put on the map by Rey and could have ran the division for ages - having them lose the belts so soon to useless Heidenreich and the fossil of Animal just to sell a few Road Warriors DVDs. And final aside… what do you think got more views on WWE.com, Christy’s boobs and Stacy’s bum, or Vito vs Richards? Either the answer is more than obvious, or I’ve stumbled upon a clue as to why WWE were mysteriously so happy to let Hemme go so soon after her Diva Search win and reasonable push…

DEPARTURES

Frankie Kazarian announces on his website this month that he’s been granted his release. Among his reasons that WWE and him weren’t a good fit for each other were his signing in February but sitting at home/training but not wrestling any matches until July, Vince wanting him to cut his hair and when he expressed reluctance to management they took that to mean he thought he knew the business better than they did, a general feeling of having to walk on eggshells all the time, and most off all that their words about “revamping” the CWT division to try and get it back to what Nitro had at the peak, ring rather hollow when he realizes everyone seems to be made to work the same style - sound familiar? Imagine finding that many reasons to not find happiness in your workplace in such a short time. And I think it’s WWE, not Kazarian.

A big one this month, and it’s Chris Jericho. You probably know the stories if you bought his DVD set or read his second book (both his first two are brilliant reads and his third is OK if you fancy skipping all the non-wrestling chapters) - he was burned out, he thought he was going nowhere, he expected to be asked to take a pay cut on a new contract, he wanted time off to concentrate on Fozzy and see if he could make headway into acting. His contract comes up for renewal and he tells WWE not to make him offers because he’s stepping away, and he’ll later admit after the Cena match at SummerSlam that he’s not even sure he wants to carry on wrestling ever again. Model pro, he goes out on his back doing one last job to Cena on TV and a wonderful “kicking and screaming” exit, leaving on as good terms as anyone likely ever did. 

Of course, refreshed and renewed, he’ll be back in late 2007 with a teaser vignette campaign to nearly rival his debut. And he’ll come and go to diminishing returns for another ten years before finally realising Vince will never think he’s as big a star as he does. Of course, not before taking part in some great matches and blinding wrestling telly. I’m pretty vocal about Y2J being considerably less the all-timer he talks himself up to be, but he left a hell of a mark, and his influence is never more obvious than 2005 where he inspired the creation of Money In The Bank, with his “Hollywood Dream” ladder match idea - Vince arguing for a less nebulous prize which ended up being a title shot, Brian Gewirtz suggesting the “any time” hook, then Vince insisting the contract be inside a briefcase. Less discussed is that (before he got injured) Rob Van Dam was pitched by Jericho as the winner of the Hollywood Dream match, with Robs “wish” to be ECW coming back, which would have been the storyline behind One Night Stand happening.

Edited by air_raid
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SEPTEMBER 2005

This is such a weird month. The company moves (back) to the USA Network and SmackDown moves to Fridays, then third week of the month the wrestlers get to Texas and go “hey, this is nice, let’s stay here for a bit.”

THE MAIN EVENTS - RAW

2nd-4th in Memphis (5000), Jackson (4000) and Chattanooga (2000? Ouch) we’re back to John Cena vs Kurt Angle and rather weakly for house shows it’s a DQ when Kurt’s caught using his medals as knucks. 9th in Jonesboro AR it’s the same then 10th in Texarkana and 11th in Monroe LA it’s Angle & Tyson Tomko in a handicap match stemming from TV angles I forgot. Reports for Raw shows that aren’t TV tapings dry up until 30th in El Paso which is again Cena vs Angle with a DQ. Other than Unforgiven 18th in Oklahoma City the whole rosters of both shows only wrestle in Texas all the way up to No Mercy and the TVs that wrap 11th October. That’s crazy.

THE CARDS - RAW

Shawn Michaels vs Carlito in a non title match (booo) early month is a run you didn’t know happened, stemming from HBK interrupting a certain Masterpiece as the guest on Carlitos Cabana, prompting some interference gone wrong in the match, at the embryonic stage of that heel partnership. Matt Hardy vs Edge is running wild with wins for either or non finishes early month then Edge winning mid month though Matt will get some great revenge at Unforgiven. Big Show vs Gene Snitsky is back on mid month (yay).

The Women’s Champ is back! Trish Stratus returns from injury in Tennessee and has her work cut out for her tagging with Ashley Massaro against Victoria & Candice Michelle then Vic & Torrie Wilson in separate runs. Shelton Benjamin vs Kerwin White jumps up mid month, also stemming from Carlitos Cabana, with Shelts winning in spite of interference from both his (still, a bit) rival AND Candice who was Carlitos original guest, until El Paso where “caddy” Nick Nemeth is helping White beat him. Yes, Spirit Squad Nicky/Dolph Ziggler.

It’s usually Hurricane & Rosey vs The Heart Throbs for the tag belts before Nashville Raw, then straight off with Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch which continues in El Paso over the PPV and switch. Early month completes with Yoshihiro Tajiri vs Freakin’ Deacon - that’s Drew Hankinson who will land a gig as Festus and eventually be Luke Gallows - Viscera vs Snitsky and Eugene vs Rob Conway which continues into the Deep South, where it’s Chris Masters over Vis and the Deacon over Mike Mizanin.

VARIATIONS 

There’s a second tag with Chris Cage & Miz picking up whoever doesn’t work Hurricane & Rosey - losing to Cade & Murdoch in Memphis but actually beating the Heart Throbs in Jackson. Trish vs Victoria is a singles in Memphis, there are bodies missing in Chattanooga so HBK pins Masters, Tajiri pins Cage to add to Miz beating the Deacon. El Paso has new matches (as well as some results reversing since the PPV) - new Intercontinental champ Ric Flair goes over Carlito, Show pins Edge and Trish/Ashley vs the Vic/Torrie/Candice harem goes down as an actual handicap match.

THE MAIN EVENTS - SMACKDOWN

We revert to Batista vs JBL for the belt 3rd-5th in Frederick MD, Macon and Albany (GA). 11th in Springfield MO it’s a reprise of Dave vs Eddy Guerrero but 18th the afternoon of Unforgiven in Tyler and 19th in Amarillo it’s back to JBL in his home state. And then they only do TVs and a PPV for the next three weeks.

THE CARDS

Rey Mysterio vs Randy Orton continues Ortons winning ways and there are still Chris Benoit vs Orlando Jordan rematches for the UST, then into Texas Benoits actually retaining the belt over the Legend Killer while Rey loses the big streetfights to Eddy Guerrero. We conclude Booker T vs Christian in Frederick and Arkansas.

CWT has Nunzio vs Juventud Guerrera vs Brian Kendrick early then it’s a four way with Paul London in Texas. Tag titles is still obviously John Heidenreich & Animal vs MNM all month - Springfield at least has a lovely bonus of guest ring announcer Christy Hemme join in giving a post match Doomsday Device to Melina!

Ken Kennedy vs Simon Dean early month gives way to Bobby Lashley crushing Dean and Ken pinning Hardcore Holly in Texas, plus Psicosis & Super Crazy vs William Regal & Paul Burchill goes non stop for three weeks.

VARIATIONS 

Springfield stands alone, on top of the main - Nunzio vs Kendrick is one on one, Kennedy pins Scotty Too Hotty, Orton pins Booker, and Benoit beats eventual Mania opponent JBL with the Crippler Crossface.

TVs 

5th Raw taping in Nashville Danny Basham debuts his new goth look on Heat beating a certain Nigel McGuinness, Cade & Murdoch make their TV debut on Raw by beating the champs non title (fucking booooooo) straight out the gate, and dark Cena & Show beat Angle & Snitsky again. 6th in Duluth, before cameras Kid Kash & Kendrick beat Mike Knox & Derrick Neikirk (who will later briefly replace an injured Danny Basham in Heymans security in WWECW), and Undertaker pins Orton dark. 12th double taping in Little Rock Burchill warms up with Scotty before cameras roll. They don’t get a dark main but they do get Taker/Orton rematch with a pinfall finish. 19th in Wichita Falls Val Venis pins Johnny Parisi dark and Nemeth makes his TV debut with Kerwin on Heat. Next night in Lubbock Taker & Rey vs Orton & JBL dark is exactly the kind of cross feud tag that Coliseum Video would have Sean Mooney introduce as Tag Team Match Of The Month. 26th Raw in Waco Danny beats Cliff Compton dark (Domino, if like me you forget which was which) and there’s a Matt Striker v Parisi rematch on Heat, and finally next night in Laredo Sylvan pins Antifaz Del Norte dark, who you might remember from a ropey match with Guido/Nunzio on a 99 ECW PPV, Teddy forces Bob Orton Jr to wrestle (and lose to) Taker on SmackDown, Melina pins Christy Hemme with MNMs help, and dark Batista beats Eddy by count out after the taping ends with a DQ finish to Dave & Eddy vs MNM, right at the peak of the “Can Batista trust Eddy” storyline that, intentionally or not, will make Eddy beloved again.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE CLASH?

Woah. Taped to air three weeks after SummerSlam and four weeks before No Mercy, a real game of two halves show has one hour air online only on WWE.com and the second hour is the 1 hour debut on the move from Thursday to Friday night - giving a first hour full of incident building to stuff like the next Taker/Orton match and the slow burn falling out of Benoit and Booker then a massive second hour where the climactic and feud ending cage match sees Eddy victorious, which will lead to Palmer Canon declaring him top contender and birthing a brilliant storyline - on most episodes this would be the main event but Big Dave also puts JBL in his place for good. The live crowd get Taker v Orton as a dark finale too, pretty good show for the 4000 in Duluth that night.

Raw has Unforgiven ; SmackDown taped 6/9

World Title (Bullrope Match) : Batista vs JBL

Cage match : Rey Mysterio vs Eddy Guerrero

US title : Chris Benoit vs Orlando Jordan

Tag title : John Heidenreich & Animal vs MNM

Paul London vs Ken Kennedy

Scotty Too Hotty vs Paul Burchill

DEPARTURE

After TV losses to Booker T and Hardcore Holly, Steven Richards disappears from the booking sheet for reasons I can’t establish. He’ll be back for the pre show battle royal at Mania 22.

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