First Mariner Arena – Baltimore, Maryland – February 19, 2006
MATCH #1: Cruiserweight Championship Match – Gregory Helms vs. Scotty 2 Hotty vs. Paul London vs. Brian Kendrick vs. Funaki vs. Super Crazy vs. Psicosis vs. Nunzio vs. Kid Kash
Helms has been the Champion since 1.29.06, and this is his third defense. This is sudden death, not gauntlet style like last year. This one will be tough to do play-by-play on with nine guys all going at it. One thing I can say is that the other eight guys all want a piece of Helms – for one he is the Champion, and for two he surprised everyone by coming over from Raw and sneakily winning the title. London and Kendrick work as a team, as do the Mexicools. The challengers all gang up on Helms and stomp him down. More stuff happens and the crowd pops intermittently. London and Nunzio end up in the ring together and Nunzio hits the Sicilian Slice for two when Kendrick breaks it up. The ring clears again and this time it’s Scotty and Helms left over. Scotty hits the Worm, which is still over. Psicosis breaks up the pin. Kash comes in and hits the Dead Level on Psicosis, and Crazy breaks that up with a moonsault. Helms then steals the pin on Psicosis at 9:42. That was fun chaos but nothing really stood out.
Backstage Finlay is upset that he doesn’t have a fight, so he decides to pick one. Finlay grabs interviewer Kristal Marshall and brings her out to the ring. Bobby Lashley quickly comes out to the rescue and the fight is on. Finlay gets the advantage and Lashley’s scheduled opponent, JBL, makes his way out.
MATCH #2: Bobby Lashley vs. JBL
JBL is accompanied by Jillian Hall. Lashley recovers before JBL can take advantage, rendering the whole brawl with Finlay pointless. The undefeated Lashley takes it to JBL, throwing him around the ring with is impressive power. Lashley executes a leapfrog and Cole gets aroused. JBL takes a powder and uses Jillian as a shield. It does nothing for him though, as Lashley slams JBL’s head into the steel steps and then hits a belly-to-belly suplex. Back in the ring Lashley hits a sort of Jackhammer. JBL comes back by dumping Lashley to the floor and then booting him off the apron. He works Lashley over now as the crowd chants “JBL Sucks.” JBL keeps the match at a slow and deliberate pace, executing a sleeper. He turns that into a cover for two. JBL goes up top and jumps off but Lashley catches him in midair with a powerslam. Lashley builds momentum with a series of strikes and suplexes. He goes for the Dominator but can’t hit it. JBL tries the Clothesline from Hell but Lashley catches him I a t-bone suplex for two. Finlay reemerges and throws ring announcer Tony Chimel into the ring. While the referee is distracted Finlay hits Lashley with the Shillelagh and JBL hits the Clothesline from Hell to get the win at 10:57. Thus ends Lashley’s winning streak. This was perfectly serviceable but neither guy was lighting the world on fire at this point, or ever really.
The injured former World Heavyweight Champion Batista makes his way out for a promo. Batista says he’s here for three reasons. First – he wants to see Kurt Angle versus the Undertaker. Second – he misses the fans. Third – his torn triceps ain’t torn anymore and he’ll be back to action soon.
MATCH #3: Open Challenge – MNM vs. Matt Hardy & ???
Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury have been the WWE Tag Team Champions since 12.30.05, but for some reason this is a non-title match. Hardy’s mystery partner is Tatanka. Why anyone thought Tatanka in 2006 was a good idea is off my Hanukkah card list. Hardy and Mercury start the match. Nitro and Melina distract Hardy right off the bat to give Mercury the advantage. Hardy weathers that storm and comes back with a big punch. He goes to work on the arm and makes the tag. Tatanka continues the arm work and throws a hard chop. Nitro tags in and Tatanka works his arm too. Hardy and Tatanka work together on the champions, who are forced to regroup on the floor. MNM uses some chicanery to take control. Hardy comes back with a neckbreaker on both Nitro and Mercury at the same time. Tatanka gets the lukewarm tag and he’s a wigwam afire. The champs cut him off and isolate him. They do that for a while and then Tatanka comes back. You know the formula. Hardy gets the hot tag and he’s all over the champs. Nitro is able to cut Hardy off with a superkick and the champions double-team Hardy while Tatanka just watches. Hardy clotheslines both champions and makes the tag. Tatanka hits a chop off the top rope onto both Nitro and Mercury at the same time. He hits Mercury with the End of the Trail while Hardy hits Nitro with the Twist of Fate and Tatanka gets the pin at 10:28. That was solid formula stuff but was Tatanka really the best they could do?
MATCH #4: United States Championship Match – Booker T vs. Chris Benoit
Booker has technically been the Champion since 1.13.06, and this is (sort of) his third defense. I say technically and sort of because he was injured during this time and was having guys like Randy Orton and Finlay sub for him in title matches, which I find annoying. Before the bell rings Booker says that there will not be a match tonight. Booker says he can beat Benoit, when he’s healthy. Teddy Long makes his way out. Booker says he’s going to forfeit the U.S. Title. Benoit leads the crowd in a chant of “Coward.” He says there is no way in hell that he’ll take the title like that. Sharmell repeatedly slaps Benoit and sticks up for her husband. Booker attacks Benoit from behind to start the match.
Obviously Booker starts off in control but Benoit fights back with chops and punches. They spill to the floor and Benoit continues going to work. Back in the ring Booker cuts Benoit off and stomps away on him. Benoit responds with suplexes. He kicks Booker to the floor and follows him out. Booker tries to comeback but Benoit reverses a whip and sends the Champion into the steel steps. Benoit is relentless, even when Booker says he’s injured and can’t go anymore. Of course it’s a ruse though, and he hurls Benoit into the steps. Back in the ring Booker hits a superkick for two. Booker tries to keep Benoit on the mat, but the Rabid Wolverine hits a release German Suplex. Benoit goes for the Crossface but Booker escapes and hits a spin kick. Booker uses a rear chinlock and Benoit powers out of it with a back suplex. Before Benoit can capitalize Booker grabs him for a Stun Gun. Booker hits a vertical suplex. Tazz has an obsession with saying that people “pop their hips” on suplexes but they really don’t. Benoit fights back and they trade chops. He charges into the corner but Booker gets his boot up. Booker goes for the Scissors Kick but Benoit avoids it and scores a couple of knockdowns. Benoit hits the Three Amigos for a two-count. Booker comes back with a jumping leg lariat. He goes up top and Benoit knocks him down. Benoit goes up and hits a big superplex for a near-fall. Booker comes back with a spinebuster. Once again Booker goes up top and he misses the Houston Hangover. Benoit hits three rolling German Suplexes. He goes up top but Sharmell distracts him and Booker knocks him down. This time Booker hits the Scissors Kick but it only gets two! Booker gets a sunset flip but Benoit rolls through and tries the Sharpshooter. Sharmell gets on the apron and when Booker kicks Benoit off he accidentally knocks Sharmell down! Benoit locks on the Sharpshooter, and then flips it into the Crippler Crossface and Booker taps the U.S. Title away at 18:11! They told a solid story, and although it seemed a little long it picked it up considerably down the stretch so it finished strong.
MATCH #5: Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton
The winner of this match gets a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 22. Mysterio earned the shot by winning the Royal Rumble, but Randy Orton challenged him to put it on the line and Mysterio agreed. Orton looks so much different here.
Right from the beginning Orton acts like a cocky jerk. I love heel Orton. They wrestle on the mat and exchange holds. Mysterio hits a bulldog for two. He then misses a springboard cross body block. Orton takes control and starts wearing Mysterio down. Mysterio comes back and delivers a headscissors that sends Orton to the floor. He tries a rana off the apron but Orton catches him and swings him into the ring post! Back in the ring Orton goes to work on the arm that had slammed into the post. Mysterio shows a little bit of life but Orton grabs him and hits an elevated neckbreaker. Orton goes right back to the arm. Mysterio hits a hurricanrana but can’t capitalize right away. They go back to the floor and Orton stomps Mysterio’s arm against the steel steps. Back in the ring Orton covers for two. Orton goes for the neckbreaker again but Mysterio armdrags his way out of it, sending Orton to the floor. Back inside Mysterio hits a flying forearm and a drop toehold into the middle turnbuckle. Mysterio goes up top and Orton tries to cut him off with an electric chair drop but Mysterio counters it to a sunset bomb for a close near-fall. Now Mysterio is firing up, hitting a leg lariat and a basement dropkick. Mysterio follows with a springboard seated senton and a neck snap for two. Orton’s forehead is busted open now. Mysterio sort of hits a tornado DDT for two. He goes up top and Orton cuts him out of midair with a dropkick to the chest. Orton signals for the RKO but Mysterio dropkicks him in the face. Mysterio goes for the 619 but misses and Orton rolls him up and grabs the ropes for leverage to get the pin at 17:28. Not taking into account how disrespectful it was to involve the deceased Guerrero so heavily in this storyline, the match was terrific. Orton was a great heel and did some cool moves, and Mysterio is as good of a sympathetic babyfaces as there’s ever been.
MATCH #6: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Kurt Angle vs. Undertaker
Angle has been the Champion since 1.13.06, and this is his second defense. Both men are a cautious as this match has huge ramifications. Undertaker goes after the arm. He hits Old School and then the Flatliner for two. He follows up with Snake Eyes but then Angle ducks a big boot and hits a release German Suplex for one. Angle tries an Irish whip but Undertaker reverses it and follows him in with a high knee to the chest. Undertaker tries a second charge but Angle avoids this one and knocks Undertaker off the apron and into the barricade. Angle leaps off the apron and Undertaker catches him and drives him into the post. Undertaker hits the legdrop on the apron and then rolls Angle back in the ring for a two-count. He goes for a Chokeslam and Angle kicks him in the knee to break it. Undertaker cuts him right off with a punch and Angle goes right back to the knee. Angle viciously attacks the limb, slamming it on the ring post repeatedly. Undertaker tries to kick Angle to the floor but he sort of misses, and instead of trying the exact same spot again he grabs Angle’s singlet and pulls him to the floor. Different spot, same result, this match rules. Undertaker goes for the apron legdrop again but Angle catches it and locks on the Ankle Lock on the floor! Back in the ring Angle continues working the leg. After a few minutes Undertaker locks on the Hell’s Gate (not yet named as such) and Angle gets to the ropes. Angle rolls to the floor and Undertaker follows him out. Undertaker whips Angle into ring announcer Tony Chimel, which is just mean. He continues beating on Angle and then takes the announce table apart. It backfires though, as Angle hits the Angle Slam through the table! Angle stops the referee from counting Undertaker out (with the help of some colorful language). He goes outside but Undertaker has had time to recover, and he whips the Champion into the steel steps. Back in the ring Undertaker goes up top and Angle knocks him down. Angle pops up and hits the super belly-to-belly suplex for two. Undertaker comes back with a big boot to the face for two. He goes for a Chokeslam but Angle reverses it to the Ankle Lock! Undertaker counters that to the Hell’s Gate, and Angle re-counters back to the Ankle Lock. Finally Undertaker breaks that cycle of reversals and hits a big Chokeslam for a near-fall. Undertaker goes for the Last Ride but Angle again counters to the Ankle Lock and Undertaker powers out. Angle hits the Angle Slam but it only gets two. Undertaker sits up and the crowd is losing it. He goes for the Tombstone but Angle reverses it, and then Undertaker reverses that. Angle counters that to the Ankle Lock! Once again Undertaker kicks his way out of it. Angle hits another Angle Slam and Undertaker grabs him in the Hell’s Gate! Amazingly Angle survives the hold and rolls over into a jackknife pin to get the impressive victory at 29:37. That was Undertaker’s first great match in YEARS and it came out of nowhere. The match flew by and they did all kinds of awesome counters and reversals and the finish worked perfectly. Do people still talk about this match? If not, they should.