PPV REPORTS KELLER'S WWE VENGEANCE PPV REPORT 6/24: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live event
Jun 24, 2007 - 9:44:00 PM
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOOKMARK US & VISIT US DAILY
By Wade Keller, Torch editor
WWE VENGEANCE PPV REPORT
JUNE 24, 2007
HOUSTON, TEX. AT TOYOTA CENTER
NOTE: PWTorch columnist James Caldwell is on-site at the Toyota Center reporting on the in-arena perspective exclusively at the PWTorch VIP site, updated throughout the show. If you are watching the event tonight, send us a 0-10 score, picks for best and worst matches, and a paragraph of thoughts afterward on the show for inclusion in our PPV Reax features on the site. VIP members, stay tuned for a post-show VIP Audio Roundtable with Torch editor Wade Keller and Torch columnists Pat McNeill and Bruce Mitchell.
A video package aired setting the stage for the top matches on the PPV, beginning with Edge-Batista, then the John Cena title defense.
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the event. They introduced Mike Rotunda and Barry Windham sitting at ringside, then showed a brief clip of them in 1985 when they were WWF Tag Team Champions. From there, not a lot of pomp and circumstance as they went right to ring intros from there for the opening tag team match. The entrance set, though, was pretty posh, with more of an Academy Awards red carpet feel with a touch of Athens.
1 -- LANCE CADE & TREVOR MURDOCH vs. MATT & JEFF HARDY -- World Tag Team Title match
Lawler and Ross discussed the pros and cons of Cade & Murdoch being "opportunists" when they beat the Hardys win the tag titles. No explanation is given for how the Hardys can team together if they're not on the same brands. JBL even noted during the draft that if one of the Hardys was moved to another brand, it might "reunite" the team. They didn't get drafted to the same brand, but they're teaming anyway. Cade offered a friendly handshake to Matt at 3:00, but Matt kicked Cade instead. Lawler said, "The Hardys are not being very sportsmanlike in this match." Ross said, "Maybe they're being opportunistic." At 10:00 Matt hot-tagged Jeff. He worked over Cade, who Ross called was the illegal man, yet the ref counted near falls by Jeff on Cade anyway. When Jeff went to the top rope, Murdoch knocked him off and he clotheslined the top rope as he fell. Cade then gave Jeff his finisher for the win. Murdoch bragged afterward they won fair and square.
WINNERS: Cade & Murdoch in 11:00 to retain the World Tag Team Titles.
STAR RATING (**1/4): Basic average tag match. Passable action, but pretty forgettable. Okay as an opener to get everyone warmed up.
-Booker and Sharmell talked backstage about Booker potentially regaining the World Hvt. Title.
-After a generic Summerslam commercial, they went to Michael Cole and JBL at ringside for the first time. Cole and JBL reminisced about Eddie Guerrero. JBL said he'll always be inseparable from his career because of their feud. He called him the greatest and most popular Latino champion of all time. A clip aired from Feb. 15, 2004 of Guerrero beating Brock Lesnar. The clips remind you of how good Lesnar was. Eddie, too, of course, but Lesnar doesn't always get the proper recognition because of how short a time he was around and how he left.
-They showed Dean Malenko backstage, a former Cruiserweight Champion. A clip aired of him approaching the ring on Nitro with the late Brian Hildebrand as ref in the background. They didn't explain why Malenko was watching from backstage on a monitor or that he's an agent-producer for WWE full-time.
2 -- CHAVO GUERRERO vs. JIMMY WANG YANG - Cruiserweight Title match
Cole noted that the first Cruiserweight Champion was Brian Pillman in 1991. JBL sort of contradicted him by adding that Chavo Guerrero Sr. was Cruiserweight Champion, too. (Note: The term "Cruiserweight" was adopted by WCW shortly after I suggested it in a column in the PWTorch Newsletter as a better, more descript, less damaged name than the previously used Junior Heavyweight or Light Heavyweight terms. Mark Madden then suggested it to someone in WCW shortly thereafter, and it was adopted officially when the title was brought back, replacing the previous Light-Heavyweight Title name.) Unfortunately, WWE has decided to showcase two wrestlers who basically fight a heavyweight style in smaller bodies, with an occasional high-flying move, but hardly the type of dazzling, breathtaking athleticism that would separate the division and turn it into a draw, as Jushin Liger, Lightning Kid (Sean Waltman), Rey Mysterio, Ultimo Dragon, Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis, and (early) Kidman, among others in the '90s did when the division eventually rose to prominence in the peak Nitro years. Chavo and Yang just don't wrestle a style that overcomes the stigma of lacking the push, the size, and the historical prestige compared to the heavyweight titles. No praise by JBL of Chavo being "perhaps the greatest cruiserweight of all-time" can make Chavo matches truly exciting; they're basic heavyweight WWE-style mid-card matches and nothing more - fundamentally strong, but hardly memorable or graceful or dazzling in any way. A basic second rope dropkick by Yang prompted JBL to tout it as what separates the cruiserweight matches from other matches. Hardly. Chavo went into a vertical suplex series reminiscent of Eddie, but Yang escaped and took over. Yang went for a moonsault off the top rope, but Chavo moved. Chavo won shortly thereafter with a frog splash to Yang's back.
WINNER: Chavo in 9:00 to retain the Cruiserweight Title.
STAR RATING (*3/4): Workmanlike and competent, but hardly inspiring. What you get with these two.
-Ross and Lawler said it's been nearly two weeks since Mr. McMahon's limo exploded. They reviewed the footage of his final walk to the limo. Lawler said it seemed he felt there was something or someone behind him. Ross said they are as perplexed by the tragedy as anyone else. Lawler said he felt McMahon was forewarned somehow that something ominous was in his future. They isolated McMahon's hesitation as he reached for the handle of his limo door. Lawler wondered why his foot entered the limo, then stepped back out. He wondered if he saw someone in the limo and tried to exit, but it exploded first. The fans sang the "Na na na na, hey hey hey, good bye" song in the background. Ross and Lawler asked fans to chime in with their opinion on who the culprit is. They included Paul London on the list because of his smirk in the background as McMahon left the building.
-Todd Grisham interviewed Bobby Lashley backstage about the McMahon mystery. Lashley said he wishes McMahon was still around so he could see the look on his face when he wins the WWE Title tonight.
-They went to Joey Styles and Tazz at ringside for the first time. They talked about the vacated ECW Hvt. Title. They showed footage of Tazz as ECW Champion including clips of him suplexing Bam Bam Bigelow through the ramp and suplexing Shane Douglas through a table propped in the corner. Tazz said being ECW Champion is the greatest achievement of his career.
3 -- C.M. PUNK vs. JOHNNY NITRO -- ECW Hvt. Title match
Styles noted that because of personal business, Chris Benoit wasn't at Vengeance and Nitro was replacing him. No further explanation was offered. (Benoit had a legit personal emergency and had to rush home to Atlanta earlier in the day.) The crowd, which wasn't given the courtesy of an explanation (hey, it's just a top contender for a World Title not wrestling as advertised - why would the crowd expect the courtesy of a legit explanation?), chanted "We Want Benoit!"At 7:00 Punk nailed Nitro with a running knee to the chin in the corner. After playing to the crowd, he springboarded off the top rope. Nitro ducked. After an awkward few seconds of nothing, Nitro gave Punk a swinging neckbreaker off the middle rope for the clean pin. Crowd was deflated when Nitro came out instead of Benoit, and also deflated when Nitro won. The "replacement" almost always wins, though, so fans feel the replacement wasn't a scrub. It's likely he'll end up getting squashed soon enough to drop the title, but not entirely impossible that they won't change plans and run with him with the belt since management does see potential in him. It's unlikely a personal emergency, though, would derail all booking laid out already when it's easily "fixable" in a quick TV title change.
WINNER: Nitro in 9:00.
STAR RATING (3/4*): Basic stuff, but again hardly a stand-out moment in PPV matches for the year and a let down without Benoit.
-They showed a clip from March 31, 1996 of Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart at WrestleMania 12.
-They went live backstage to Randy Orton telling Mick Foley to be careful tonight. He told Foley he might have gotten a concussion last Monday and it'd be a shame if something happened to him. Foley said his brain was rattled a bit, but he remembers the look on his face the last time they met - when realized his entire back was filled with thumb tacks. He said when he wants something bad enough, he'll do anything to accomplish it. Orton said what he remembers is he won that match. Then he walked away a Foley looked perturbed.
-They showed Rick Steamboat celebrating his IC Title win at WrestleMania III. Ross also mentioned his feud with Ric Flair. Steamboat then walked out onto the stage and waved at the fans. Not a particularly huge ovation for Steamboat from the Houston fans. Steamboat wished Santino Marella luck on his way to the ring.
4 -- SANTINO MARELLA vs. UMAGA - Intercontinental Title match
Ross said the only wrestlers who have had even a modicum of success against Umaga have been John Cena and Bobby Lashley. Marella went for an early schoolboy as the bell sounded, but Umaga didn't budge and he choked Marella with one hand. Marella jumped Umaga's back and pounded him with forearms. Umaga jumped backward and squashed Marella under his weight. Umaga applied a long nerve hold in center ring. When he pounded on Marella in the corner, the ref warned him off of him, but when he didn't answer the five count, the ref DQ'd him. It's probably the best finish unless they're just giving up on Marella since Umaga couldn't keep his killer heel image if he sold much for the rookie, and this was a chance to get over WWE's new attempt to get over enforcing rules consistently and strictly. Umaga gave Marella a top rope splash afterward. He walked out of the ring, but then looked at his taped thumb. The crowd popped more for that than Steamboat on stage. He reentered the ring and spiked Marella's throat. The crowd then chanted "One More Time!" showing that characters like Marella don't get over in this era. Maria ran out to check on the fallen and battered Marella.
WINNER: Marella in 3:00 via DQ to retain the IC Title.
STAR RATING (1/4*): Not much to it before the DQ, but the start with Marella jumping on Umaga's back was a good way to give Marella some offense without compromising Umaga's cred.
-Clips aired of Magnum T.A. in his short prime. They showed Magnum at ringside. He stood and got a nice ovation. JBL noted that his career was cut short in an almost fatal car accident.
5 -- MVP vs. RIC FLAIR - U.S. Hvt. Title match
MVP got in Magnum's face at ringside. JBL called it a thrill of Magnum's life to meet MVP in person. Cole said Harley Race was in attendance and won the U.S. Title for the first time in 1975. He said MVP was a child when Flair won his first U.S. Title, beating Bobo Brazil in 1977. Flair played mind games with MVP early. Flair worked over MVP's leg early, but MVP came and back and gave Flair a big boot, knocking him off the ring apron to the floor. The camera zoomed in on a small cut on Flair's forehead as MVP put him in a chinlock. The MVP chinlock isn't the same without Benoit in there. Flair avoided an MVP big boot in the corner and then applied a figure-four at 8:00. MVP reached the bottom rope to force a break. When the ref wasn't looking, MVP gave Flair a thumb to the eye, then gave Flair the Playmaker for the win. Cole complained, "This was Ric Flair's night!"
WINNER: MVP via pinfall at 9:00.
STAR RATING (*3/4): Not much time to be anything more than average at best, and a long, mundane chinlock mid-match wasn't particularly imaginative or compelling to watch. Otherwise, good, though.
-Grisham interviewed John Cena backstage. He said Cena's title was in jeopardy. Edge interrupted with an attention-seeking throat-clearing while standing behind Cena. Edge told Cena the odds aren't looking good for him since all he has to do is beat Batista, whom he's already defeated twice, and then he's out of his life forever. Edge and Cena then argued over who was more likely to have murdered McMahon, as if they were arguing over who ate the last piece of cheesecake in the community fridge backstage. As Edge bragged about being capable of dastardly things beyond his imagination, Cena pointed Edge toward the federal investigator standing behind. "I'll let you two have some alone time," said Cena, with his punchline aimed at the adolescent viewers.
-Cole introduced a clip of Tony Garea and Rick Martel with a clip of them celebrating a win over The Wild Samoans. They showed Martel and Garea sitting front row waving at the fans.
Before the match, Deuce said it stinks like a couple of a has-beens, looking down at Garea and Martel. "I didn't even know you two guys were still alive; this is crazy," said Domino. Then out came Sgt. Slaughter. Cole said he answered a challenge issued by Deuce & Domino. When Snuka came out as Sarge's surprise partner, Cole declared, "It is a legendary night!" Snuka looked like his knees were hardly holding him up. I'm all for acknowledging and showing respect toward past champions, but having them come out and wrestle so far past their prime is disrespectful toward current-day wrestlers, even Deuce & Domino. "I think they named their team The Coffin Dodgers," said JBL about Snuka & Sarge. Snuka was so slow, when Domino went up for a leapfrog, he didn't get under his legs in time and Domino landed on him. Snuka recovered nicely, threw some chops, then tagged in Sarge. At 3:00 Sarge applied the Cobra Clutch, but Domino reached the top rope to force a break. Deuce took over and had Sarge down, so he went for the Superfly Splash, but he took so long, Sarge moved out of his path, then hot-tagged Snuka. Cole called Snuka a "legendary martial arts expert." Four-way "action" broke out at 5:00, with Sarge fighting Domino to the floor. Snuka gave Deuce a backbreaker, then signalled for the Superfly Splash. Sarge stopped Domino from interfering. Snuka hit a crossbody block instead, and Deuce rolled through for the pin. Garea and Martel stopped a post-match beatdown by the heels.
WINNERS: Deuce & Domino at 6:00 to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles.
STAR RATING (DUD): Honestly, the action was just terrible. There's no nice way to put it. But they managed to keep it out of negative stars by not trying to do things beyond their ability to do without hurting themselves or others.
-They showed Harley Race in the front row.
7 -- EDGE vs. BATISTA -- World Hvt. Title match
Batista raised Race's arm at ringside after he came out to show him respect, in contrast to Edge during his ring intro. Cole said Race was a champion himself and now trains champions. He said he trained Lance Cade. JBL corrected him and said it was Trevor Murdoch. "I know they look a lot alike," said JBL. Batista worked on Edge's arm early, then at ringside rammed Edge back-first into the ring apron. Edge escaped Batista's grip and threw him into the ringpost. Edge rolled into the ring as Batista was counted outside the ring. Before ten, he got back on the ring apron. Edge battered him and then threw him shoulder-first into the ringpost. Edge then worked over Batista's shoulder with mat holds for several minutes. At 10:00 Batista shot at Edge with a clothesline, then a big backdrop. He followed with a slam for a near fall at 11:00. He continued to sell his left shoulder being hurt. Edge came back with a quick impaler DDT for a near fall. The crowd popped for Batista's kickout. Edge set up a spear at 12:00. Batista turned it into a tackle instead. The crowd popped big again as Batista shook the top rope, then grabbed at his shoulder. Edge gave Batista a low-blow to stop the Batista Bomb for the DQ. It totally took the wind out of the fans' sails. Cole said, "This is ridiculous!" When the ring announcer said Batista was the winner by DQ, a certain percentage of gullible fans popped, but they were soon silenced with the "bad news" that titles don't change hands on a DQ. Teddy Long then stepped out as Edge began his retreat to the back. Long ordered him to go back to the ring for a match restart. He said if he gets himself DQ'd again, he'd lost the title. Edge looked like his mom told him he can't have a pony for his birthday. The match was restarted 14 minutes after it began. Edge scored with another spear right away for a very near fall. Edge rolled to ringside to grab a chair, but then he dropped it when he realized it would cost him the belt if he were DQ'd. Batista surprised Edge with a small package for a near fall. Batista set up Edge for a Batista Bomb, but Edge shot over Batista and then dropped to the floor at ringside. Edge threw Batista into the ringside steps at 16:00, but Batista came right back with a Batista Bomb on the floor. The ref continued to count both of them. Batista rolled Edge into the ring, but as the ref counted to ten, Batista was still at ringside. Batista looked up at the ref in disbelief and disappointment as he realized that was his last chance at Edge. Batista out of frustration gave Edge a Batista Bomb afterward.
WINNER: Edge via countout in 17:00 to retain the World Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING (***1/4): The false finish and the restart made the countout finish more palatable for the fans because their favorite was in "bonus time" as it was. It was also a good way to give Edge bragging rights that are based on a fluke to ending Batista's title hopes. Batista did a nice job selling is disappointing, pounding the ring apron in frustration over and over at ringside afterward.
-Ross and Lawler narrated Fabulous Moolah defeated Wendi Richter o Nov. 25, 1985 with Moolah dressed as Spider Lady. Lawler: "She was Spider Lady then; now she has spider veins."
8 -- MELINA vs. CANDICE MICHELLE - Women's Title match
At 3:00, after steady action early, Melina applied a bow and arrow. Candice reversed it into a near fall. Melina dove at Candice, but ended up flying over the top rope to the floor. It was clear in this match how the ref was doing more rule enforcing than has been typical in pro wrestling in recent years, including refusing to count a pin attempt by Melina because she and Candice were under the bottom rope slightly. Candice nailed Melina with a spin wheel kick and scored the three count of nowhere. Ross and Lawler seemed genuinely surprised by the finish. Candice celebrated with tears as she held the belt up for the largely nonplussed fans.
WINNER: Candice Michelle to capture the Women's Title in 5:00.
STAR RATING (*): Definitely a passable, yet short women's match.
-The ring announcer, Justin Roberts, said a former champion, JBL, wished to be recognized. JBL said he wanted everything written on a card to be read word for word. The card talked about his Texas roots and how he now lives in a lavish penthouse in New York. He said his radio show is available on over 150 stations and he can be seen regularly on the Fox News Channel. It also noted he is "not only the greatest champion in sports entertainment history, but also your wrestling god." Cole just shook his head and laughed.
9 -- JOHN CENA vs. KING BOOKER vs. BOBBY LASHLEY vs. MICK FOLEY vs. RANDY ORTON -- WWE Title match
Lashley was introduced first, then "One-Time Legend" Mick Foley, then Booker, then Orton, and then Cena. They had the dramatic pause before Cena's music to build anticipation, if not a touch of nervousness that something was wrong. Ross said Cena's "body of work" in the last several months has been amazing, citing his big wins. A fan held up a sign that read, "You Killed Wrestling." The ref held up the WWE Title with the spinning logo upside down; they should be more careful about that because it always looks careless when the belt is (or appears to be) upside down when held up before a match. The ring intros took seven minutes total, and the match began at 10:30 ET. All five were in the ring at once. Lawler said luck will play a big role in the match. Foley clotheslined Orton over the top rope and followed him to the floor. Lashley and Cena faced off in the ring briefly in what was supposed to be a dream match-up moment. Booker interrupted by knocking Cena out of the ring. That left Booker vs. Cena along. Booker had a good spring in his step with his offense, and Lashley returned with similar energy, knocking Booker to the floor. Lashley then soared over the top rope onto everyone at ringside with a move that had more grace than anything in the so-called cruiserweight match earlier. Back in the ring, Lashley gave Booker a torture rack back breaker. Cena broke up the pin attempt to save his title and was booed. Ross noted that Cena, unlike Edge earlier, had zero advantage in the match as the incumbent champion. Lashley spinebustered Cena to the mat, then rammed him into the steps at ringside. Lashley threw monitors off of the ECW announcing table. Styles and Tazz were still out there for some reason. At 4:00 Foley stumbled into Orton at ringside. Booker then hit Foley. Nobody was in the ring at this point. Cena gave Lashley an FU through the table at ringside. Back in the ring, Booker kicked Cena to the mat and scored a two count. Lashley was slow to get up at ringside as Booker and Cena fought in the ring. Foley entered the ring and focused on Orton, charging him with a knee. Foley grabbed a chair, but when he swung at Booker, Booker ducked and he knocked Lashley off the apron accidentally. He then hit Booker with the chair, then turned and hit Cena. Orton then charged Foley from behind and drove his face into the chair rather recklessly. It appeared Foley might have been really hurt as his face went hard into the chair as he landed face-first. Foley, though, eventually worked his way to his feet as Orton stalked him from behind, setting up a running punt kick to the face. Lashley, though, speared Orton out of nowhere. Booker then scissors kicked Lashley out of the ring. Cena lifted Booker for an FU, but Booker slipped away to the floor. Cena then lifted Foley for an FU and dropped him for the pin.
WINNER: Cena in 10:00 to retain the WWE Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING (**3/4): Non-stop action. A bit of a clustermess at times, but never boring. Foley's showing that Vince always issues receipts, be it because of what he wrote in the book or how he held TNA negotiations over his head for a better deal. In any case, Foley is being treated like less of a special legend than he deserves by far. Anticlimactic pin overall and the match itself was just unjustifiably short given that they weren't low on time at all.
We welcome your 1-10 score and comments on this event for a "PPV Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on the PPV, click here.
THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
REACHING 1 MILLION+ UNIQUE USERS PER MONTH
500 MILLION CLICKS & LISTENS PER YEAR
MILLIONS OF PWTORCH NEWSLETTERS SOLD
PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.
Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.
The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...
-New Digital PWTorch Newsletter every week
-3 New Digital PDF Back Issues from 5, 10, 20 years ago
-Over 60 new VIP Audio Shows each week
-Ad-free access to all PWTorch.com free articles
-VIP Forum access with daily interaction with PWTorch staff and well-informed fellow wrestling fans
-Tons of archived audio and text articles
-Decades of Torch Talk insider interviews in transcript and audio formats with big name stars. **SIGN UP FOR VIP ACCESS HERE**