The Ruthless Aggression Era was a time when the WWE roster was so huge and so varied that they had no way of continuing storylines each week on their two main shows – RAW and Smackdown – and so they created the draft where wrestlers and announcers would be drafted onto either one of the two shows. Smackdown wrestlers would not (usually) be able to appear on Raw or interact with Raw wrestlers and vice versa.
Ten years ago, on June 25, 2006, the PPV Vengeance aired. It was a Raw PPV, and the first Raw PPV since Backlash in April. Personally, the PPV came at a time where I had grown weary with professional wrestling, confused by the sheer number of wrestlers and unwilling to spend so much time per week watching hours of footage and trawling through shows, replays, promos and matches. I simply watched the PPVs. Over the next four weeks, I will review this PPV from the perspectives of a fan looking back at it after a decade as well as my original thoughts as a younger man watching it at the time.
There was no tagline this time either! Huh. I did not see that one coming. The poster shows Cena and Edge staring lovingly into each other’s eyes as the DX symbol is spraypainted over them. Simple and effective.
After the old “remember what wrasslin’ used to be like” video, we have everyone’s favourite start to a PPV: dictionary definitions of the title! As we hear what the word “vengeance” means according to Webster or whoever (the source, regrettably, is not given) we see Cena getting beating by Edge, Sabu and RVD. Then Edge beats on RVD. Vince makes the Spirit Squad cause DX to reunite and they subsequently spraypaint Coach’s butt. They love their butts, the DX boys. Cant’s get quite enough of the deviancy, being honest with you. They also drop green slime in the middle of the ring. Shawn Michaels does an absolutely terrible job of spraypainting a DX symbol onto a piece of glass hanging over the camera.
(Note: Before the PPV began, there was a dark match featuring Val Venis and Rob Conway.)
Pyro goes off and the crowd go mental in the Charlotte Bobcats Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina, The Best Carolina. That’s right, I said it. 6,800 in attendance with 320,000 PPV buys at home. $400,000 from the gate alone with an average ticket price of around about $58. Close up on a homemade fan sign featuring the words “DX SUCK IT” in green sparkly glue. That’s right, arts and crafts are alive in Carolina tonight, I tell you what. Jumping Jim Ross and wife-beating Jerry “The King” Lawler on commentary this evening. Jerry is desperate to have the WWE title come back to Raw. Broadcasting with them this evening is our boys Hugo Savinovich and Carlos Cabrera. Guys in the background dance as Randal Keith Orton’s music hits and the smarmy motherfucker poses on the Titantron, golden shower of pyro exploding behind him. JR really spouts off the importance of this match – Randy’s second fight with Kurt Angle since he came back from that broken ankle. Cut to a lady in the crowd with an “RKO ME PLEASE” sign, singing along to Randy’s music. Come on love, you won’t survive an RKO. The man is a professional. Randy poses and the crowd’s reaction is mixed.
But then Kurt Angle’s music hits and no one questions the pop. Fuck yeah, Kurt Angle, one of my favourite lads. He’s wearing the same blood-smeared gumshield he was at ECW One Night Stand. Jerry tells him that he sucks, which is unfair, really. King then calls him “a former WWE superstar”.
Randy Orton def. Kurt Angle via pin in 12:50.
Bell goes and we get a lovely repeat of last month with Angle stalking Orton about the ring. Orton almost escapes through the ropes and Randy holds his hand out as if to say, “Woah, now.” JR points out that the crowd is not too pleased by this. Angle does for the double leg takedown and gets Orton in a hammerlock into a pin for a quick two. They grapple back and forth and Angle gets Randy’s ankle while he’s on the ropes. Angle dives onto the apron and attempts to German suplex Orton off the apron but Randy fights back. Angle Germans him once both are on the floor and the crowd chant “ECW! ECW!” King gives off to Angle and the Olympic Champion suplexes Randy back into the ring. The air is filled with smoke from the pyro.
Orton circles Angle and dropkicks him in the face before chucking him out of the ring. King calls the dropkick “A thing of beauty.” Angle is really roaring in pain. Cover in the ring for a two-count. Knee drop and another two-count. Chinlock city from Randy Orton but Angle reverses it into a modified Samoan Drop. Some punches and Irish whip to a shoulder barge. Another chin lock and the two men have a chat for a bit. A really long bit. Like, a minute. Orton uses the ropes to gain an unfair advantage. Angle is up to his feet and beating on Orton, runs the ropes and gets a knee to the face for his trouble. JR and King say that the ECW referees are on the work-release program completing community service. Lots of chin locks here.
Angle gives Orton an arm drag but he’s back down on the ground. Orton goes to the top rope, but Angle is damn near on the other side of the ring. Angle is up and gives Orton a belly-to-belly suplex from the top rope. Count out and the crowd is counting with him. Another belly-to-belly followed by another and an attempted Angle Slam but Randy escapes and gives a reverse backbreaker. Jesus, Randy. Angle has neck problems. Orton goes for the RKO and begins to undo the turnbuckle pad. Angle gives Randy a total of eight German suplexes, the last of which is released, throwing Randy outside.
Kurt jumps out to roll Randy back in, goes for the pin but gets two. Angle goes for the ankle lock but is kicked away by Orton. Randy checks the turnbuckle pad to make sure it is gone and receives another suplex. Angle removes his singlet straps and gets Orton in the ankle lock. Laborious crawl to break the ropes and Randy tosses the Olympic champ into the exposed turnbuckle, hits the RKO and gets the pin in 12:50.
Great start from both Orton and Angle. Some nice ring psychology and foreshadowing with the exposed turnbuckle, though the payoff was less than impressive.
My God I hate Randy Orton but that RKO is masterful.
Randy celebrates and sells his damaged ankle as it shows replays of the win. Bravely, Orton rises to the top of the damaged turnbuckle and hits his legend killer pose, the cocky skitter. Orton, the courage of a thousand men, walks up the ramp with only one ref by his side.
Cut to Vince McMahon on the phone, cutting a promo about DX on his flip phone. A kid in a wheelchair in a DX t-shirt comes in and Vince starts to berate him, thinking the child is a DX prank. He tells the kid to shut up and threatens to take the boy on a “ride to the highway to hell” and throws the kid out the door with a scream and a crash. In comes Coach with a “pistol pump” that apparently was outside Vince’s door. Vince tells the Coach that he just made a DX joke backfire and Coach informs Vince that the kid in question was one of his close family friends who idolised Vince… until he threw him down a flight of stairs. I wrote this entire synopsis after seeing a minute of the promo. It’s that predictable. The crowd reacts when the punchline hits, however, but I’m going to assume that it was a fake reaction because the damn thing wrote itself.
Umaga’s music hits and he comes down with Armando Alejandro Estrada, who is not introduced. JR calls the 350lbs monster a “super heavyweight”. Armando gets the mic and laughs his way through a Paul Heyman promo. Lillian Garcia looks on, wondering what mistakes she made to get for her life to come to this point. Armando says that Eugene “the special little boy” is bringing his friends to the ring. He says that Eugene can bring Superman, Spider-man, Aquaman or Wonder Woman (“I hear she’s in town,”) but he won’t beat Umaga. This is nonsense of course. There’s no way there could be a triple crossover with DC, Marvel and WWE at the same time. Fanboy’s wet dream.
Eugene’s music hits and this is the third time I have seen him so far in these reviews, which is four times too many. This is his first actual match, though. Eugene dances and invites out “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan with a “Hoooooo!” Then Doink’s music hits. What the fuck? Apparently, this Doink is Steve Lombardi, the Brooklyn Brawler, not the original Doink who was Matt Osborn, or the dozen other Doinks that there have been including Jeff Jarrett, the Bushwhackers and Chris Jjjjjjjerichoooooo. The crowd couldn’t care less about Doink. But wait… there’s more… Kamala comes out! A gimmick just as offensive as Umaga. Down he comes, slapping his belly and joining the others ringside.
Umaga w/ Armando Alejandro Estrada def. Eugene w/ “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Doink the Clown and Kamala via pin in 1:26.
Another Umaga match, another squash. Before the match even really begins, the crowd are loving the “USA! USA!” chants through the stadium. I don’t know who thought that a Eugene squash would make Umaga look more terrifying, especially considering the whuppin’ our boy Eugene got two weeks ago at ECW One Night Stand. But, here we are, ready to watch and be depressed. Umaga goes for Doink and Eugene defends his clown friend. The crowd chant a weak, “Eugene, Eugene!” as the man himself is knocked down. Another “Hooo!” chant and a second, “USA! USA!” Umaga charges at our boy Eugene and Estrada calls for the Samoan Spike to take Eugene down for the pin in one minute, twenty-six seconds.
A dark time for wrestling.
What is his appeal? And by “his”, I of course mean, “everyone in the ring”.
Duggan jumps in as Umaga brings Eugene to the corner to beat on him. Doink defends Duggan and gets a Samoan Spike for his troubles. Kamala slaps his belly for a while and Estrada tells Umaga to leave as Kamala is obviously mental. The crowd either boo Umaga’s cowardice or Kamala’s lack of beating. Kamala goes to check on Eugene as Mick Foley is interviewed backstage before his match with Ric Flair.
On the Card will return on July 2nd with the second part of Vengeance 2006.