How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here. Welcome to the first edition of the Retro Express. It’s a brand new feature to the blog, with a new edition going up every Saturday. The Retro Express will see me review some old pay-per-views and wrestling events from the past. I’ve been looking forward to doing this. I bought a lot of old WWE PPV DVDs recently and I’m going to be going from there, reviewing these shows every week.
For the time being we’ll be going chronologically and we’ll end up probably jumping around after a while. We’re going to be kicking things off with Taboo Tuesday 2005. This was a RAW-exclusive show, which saw the fans vote on different matches. This was legitimate fan voting and you could vote on things like which wrestlers would get title shots or the stipulations of matches.
This took place during the SmackDown! vs RAW feud, with RAW general manager Eric Bischoff cancelling a SmackDown!-exclusive match at WWE Homecoming. This, and a SmackDown! vs RAW brawl at the end of the show, led to a tag team match being announced with the fans getting to decide SmackDown!’s participants. WWE Champion John Cena was also embroiled in a feud with Kurt Angle, with a third participant being voted in by the fans in their triple threat title match. Along with that, Triple H was feuding with Ric Flair after turning on him at the Homecoming.
Anyway, let’s get to it…
WWE Taboo Tuesday
Date: November 1st 2005
City: San Diego, California
Rey Mysterio and Matt Hardy vs Snitsky and Chris Masters
This was Joey Styles’ WWE debut as a commentator. He had appeared at the ECW One Night Stand event but this was the first time that Joey showed up on a proper WWE event where he really had to fit into the sports entertainment realm. I thought he did a fine job in this pay-per-view. He actually mentioned that this was supposed to be a one-off appearance from him but he was made the permanent RAW play-by-play commentator shortly after this, so I’m guessing he really did impress WWE during this.
The promoted match was Edge and Chris Masters against two members of SmackDown! Matt Hardy and Rey Mysterio won the vote to get into the match, which was highly expected. Matt and Rey both got really big pops, with Rey being the San Diego home town hero. Edge backed out of the match but made sure to bury everyone on the show before he left! He buried Matt and Rey, he buried RAW and buried the fans. He said he didn’t care about what the fans voted for and that he only cared about himself. So apparently, he didn’t care about Lita who was standing right next to him!
It was kind of a bummer that Edge was pulled from this match as Edge being in was the main reason why Matt Hardy got as many votes as he did. Matt probably would have been second anyway, but it did add to the promotion of the match. Snitsky was his replacement.
There was two referees for this match, one from RAW and one from SmackDown!. This was an average tag match. There was a decent looking spot where Chris Masters countered Rey’s bulldog by just slamming Rey into the ground. Matt got the hot tag and ran wild for a bit. There was one really botched spot where Matt was attempting a superplex on Snitsky but Snitsky couldn’t properly get up from it. Therefore Snitsky came crashing down to the mat in a dangerous-looking manner, with it looking like a top rope DDT. Matt didn’t seem happy with this as he was angrily shaking his head afterwards.
I’ll have to give Matt credit because he was good in this match and tried his hardest to get a good match out of Snitsky and Masters. Matt tried to fight them both off, with Rey just laying on the ropes and watching on! Masters locked on the front face-lock on the ground, where Masters kept slamming his knee on the mat. It was strange because Masters’ knees were nowhere near Matt’s head but Matt kept selling as if Masters hit him with them. A bit of miscommunication on that one.
There were “We Want Christian” chants. I actually think this was the show where Christian left WWE so at least people cared about him while he was on his way out. Rey got the hot tag. The fans went nuts. There was one cool spot where Snitsky countered Rey Mysterio’s tornado DDT and shoved him into the Masterlock from Chris Masters. That was pretty awesome and really well executed. Rey was able to push Masters to the mat with his shoulders down. The SmackDown! referee made the count but the RAW referee stopped him. There was some weird botchy looking sunset flip that Mysterio tried on Masters. The fans were really into the match for the finish. Mysterio hit the 619, Matt hit the Twist of Fate and Mysterio hit the splash for the pin.
I liked this match. Mysterio and Matt Hardy were a great babyface team and the chemistry was there between them. I would call this match slightly better than average. It was disappointing that Edge wasn’t wrestling but these four gave us the best match they could so I can’t complain. You could tell that Matt and Rey were both really trying hard for this. This gets a thumbs up from me. Good job!
Match Rating: **3/4
Mick Foley had a backstage segment with Maria. Mick and Maria got their costumes mixed up. Maria then started to undress in front of Mick to give him his clothes back. Maria told him to have a nice day to which Mick responded with “I think you’ve just given me one.”
Rob Conway and Tomko vs Eugene and Jimmy Snuka
This wasn’t all that great. The fans voted for Eugene’s tag team partner. There is one thing which I want to mention when they were about to announce the winner. They did camera shots of the three options, which were Jimmy Snuka, Kamala and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. I was never able to vote for the Taboo Tuesday events but if I were to have voted on this one, Hacksaw Jim Dugggan would have gotten my vote by leaps and bounds. Anyway, he was the highlight of this announcement when the camera cut to him and he simply said “I want to beat somebody up!” That was awesome! Hacksaw is a loud and proud man!
Snuka won the vote with 43% of the vote. Jimmy really didn’t do anything in this match until the finish. Eugene did his usual antics. Joey Styles couldn’t help but mention REPEATEDLY that Rob Conway had a picture of himself on his trunks. Styles said that this reminded him of Rick Rude. One of the rare instances where you could ever compare Rob Conway to Rick Rude! Eugene turned Conway inside out with the clothesline. Snuka got the hot tag, which was really more like a mildly warm tag. He and Eugene headbutted Conway a few times. Snuka hit the Superfly Splash and pinned him. Tomko attacked Snuka after the match. Hacksaw ran down to the ring and Kamala wobbled down to the ring. Hacksaw and Kamala beat up the heels.
This was hardly a grand spectacle but it was your typical legend spotlight match in WWE. It was poor but it wasn’t a total disaster. There was not a lot they could have done with this at the end of the day. Snuka could do little other than to hit the Superfly splash and do headbutts. What else did you expect from him in 2005?
Match Rating: *1/2
Mankind vs Carlito
At around this point in the show, I noticed the dramatic rise in Todd Grisham’s voice when going through these choices! It was just great as when he was doing it, it was reminding me of when he used to tell “it’s time for the MAIN EVENT” on the show “Bottom Line.” I always loved it when he would yell that and he actually yelled it out when he was going through the main event vote! That was awesome.
The vote was between Mick Foley’s personas, with Mankind winning the vote with 52%. Let me talk about the video package they aired AFTER the votes were announced. This happened a few times during the show. The video package they showed still promoted the options as if the fans could still vote on them. Obviously they couldn’t, which made the timing of the video packages seem way off. For this one, they showed a promo from RAW where Mick was acting like all three personas despite the fact that Mankind had already been announced as the winner.
For this match, it might not have seen like a big deal. However, they also did this with the WWE Championship match later on. After Shawn Michaels was voted into the match, they showed the video package also promoting Kane and the Big Show (who were the other options in the voting). Shouldn’t they show these video packages BEFORE the voting results were announced?
The highlight of the commentary from this was Jerry Lawler asking “What is it when you have multiple personality disorder?” and Joey Styles simply replied with “You have multiple personalities.” Joey Styles being on top of his game as usual!
I’ll actually talk about Joey Styles for bit because I thought he did a great job during this pay-per-view. However, I thought Joey was probably more excited than he probably should have been for this match. This match did not scream excitement to me. Then again he showed more excitement in this one night than Michael Cole and JBL have in the last year, so I can’t fault him greatly for that.
Mick Foley was very slow in this match. Carlito wasn’t too great and even put on this awful looking sleeper-hold on Mick. Mick reversed it and started his comeback. Mick did the elbow drop to the outside and hit the Double Arm DDT. Mick followed it up by using a Mr Socko that was styled to look like Carlito. Mick won the match with it.
The fans were excited for this to a degree. I thought it was pretty bland and I REALLY shouldn’t be saying that about a Mick Foley match. I think the issue was that at this point in his career, Mick had been through a great deal and was very slow at this point in his life. Therefore, him doing a normal match with Carlito was just not going to have a great effect. Mick needed a lot of smoke and mirrors to help cover up his immobility a little. The whole match was really about Mick, so he needed to be presented well. If this was given a no disqualification stipulation or something, I feel this might have been much better. That’s why Mick was able to have such a good match with Edge in the hardcore match at Wrestlemania 22. Mick having a singles match with Carlito of all people just didn’t look good.
Match Rating: **
Eric Bischoff was on the phone when Vince McMahon arrived. Vince was excited to see the RAW vs SmackDown! match but it had already happened. My only issue with this, from a storyline perspective, is that how did VINCE MCMAHON not know the result or the position of the match on the card? I know it was all a part of a joke but it’s just interesting when thinking about the logic of the whole thing. Vince was very upset with Eric for RAW losing on a RAW-exclusive pay-per-view and Eric claimed that Teddy Long was cheating. Vince was sick of hearing Eric’s excuses and told Eric that he wasn’t going to help him. Vince told Eric that he was on his own and told Eric to “go do something about it.” This was your typical angry Vince promo I guess.
As mentioned, Todd Grisham was going through the voting for the main event. The scheduled main event was John Cena defending the WWE Championship against Kurt Angle and someone voted in by the fans. The choices were Shawn Michaels, Kane and Big Show. Shawn won with 46% of the vote. Really no surprises about the voting. Shawn’s awkward reaction after being voted in was so awesome when stood next to these two angry monsters!
Lance Cade (c) and Trevor Murdoch (c) vs Kane and Big Show for the World Tag Team Championship
As consolation for not being voted into the WWE title match, Big Show and Kane were given tag title shots against Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade. At the time, the announce table for RAW was positioned to the right of the titantron. This resulted in the announcers being right next to the fireworks as they are set off. This was Joey Styles’ first time experiencing this. When Kane came out, Joey just shouted and I mean SHOUTED, “Good lord, that’s hot!” Joey then said “I think I just crapped my pants!” The funny thing is that I would probably have a much worse reaction to sitting right next to the flames when Kane came out!
Joey started doing the “what” gimmick at the start of the match. I was rather annoyed by this. Trevor Murdoch’s in-ring mannerisms were pretty great during this match. At the start of the match, Trevor was stuck between Big Show on the outside and Kane in the ring. This resulted in Trevor throwing a temper tantrum in the ring in the same manner as a child! Joey called Kane a “sportsman” for picking up Trevor by the throat. That was pretty funny.
What was great about Big Show and Kane beating up Lance Cade is that Trevor Murdoch sold this beating better and he was on the apron! Big Show did two slaps to the chest of Cade. After the second slap, Kane did a little backwards shuffle to the ring post! Seeing KANE of all people do this put such a smile on my face.
Kane’s reactions were great too. Kane was just stood on the apron laughing as Big Show was beating Cade and Murdoch. Some people will argue that Kane looked a bit too “human” in this match but at least he was having fun while he was out there. If the talent is enjoying the match itself, then at least it shows that they’re into it. That gives it a boost when the people in the match are enjoying it, even if it does break character a little.
Kane got in a big boot which somehow managed to hit Lance Cade in the leg. Cade and Murdoch hit the “Sweet and Sour” on the outside to start getting the heat. Big Show got the hot tag. Trevor Murdoch started staring at the Big Show in the ring as Kane was making his way to the top rope for a clothesline. Trevor then turned to Kane and screamed, “Awwwww!” They totally should have done something with Trevor back in the day!
Kane and Big Show hit the double chokeslam on Lance Cade for the win. They became World Tag Team Champions. Trevor got a double chokeslam himself during the post-match interview. This was a fine match. The crowd were into it and I was into it. I thought that Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch didn’t get enough heat on Kane for Big Show’s hot tag to have a greater effect. I think that if Cade and Murdoch weren’t going to get a lot of heat on Kane and Big Show, then it should just been an outright squash. At least if they did that, Cade and Murdoch could argue that they were unprepared for Kane and Big Show. Then at least, Cade and Murdoch wouldn’t have looked so bad.
Regardless, I thought it was a decent match. This night needed a title change to show the fans that their vote could actually have a lot of impact. Then again, Kane and Big Show weren’t actually voted in the match! They caused an impact but it was not by design I guess!
Match Rating: **1/4
Vader was “working out” backstage when Goldust showed up. Jonathan Coachman gave them both a pep-talk as he was set to face Batista later on in the show. Yes, Coach gave VADER AND GOLDUST a pep talk! Let that sink in. Coach said this was going to be the start of great things and that soon enough, he would win the WWE Championship.
Todd Grisham revealed the votes for the “Fulfil Your Fantasy” match. The entrants for this match were Women’s Champion Trish Stratus, Mickie James, Victoria, Candice Michelle, Ashley and Maria. The fans got to decide what the women were wearing. Lingerie won with 43% of the votes. This was the part of the show when I somehow came to the conclusion that Todd Grisham sounded like Chris Evans from the One Show and the new Top Gear. I don’t know if any British fans have thought this when watching back at Todd Grisham’s finest moments. It was mostly when he was yelling where I drew the comparison. Very strange.
Batista vs Jonathan Coachman w/Goldust and Vader
The stipulations for this match was no holds barred, verbal debate and an arm-wrestling content. No holds barred won by a landslide. This was a shame as I would have loved to have seen a verbal debate! The match started with Goldust and Vader in the ring and Coach on the apron. Goldust did some great over-selling when being punched in the face repeatedly by Batista! They managed to overwhelm Batista in the corner. Yes, two old-timers were able to overwhelm the WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION Batista. Even though SmackDown! won the opening match, it did suck that the brand’s champion was reduced to being briefly out-matched by Vader and Goldust of all people.
Goldust started using the kendo sticks as the heels took over. Coach started whipping Batista in the back with a belt. Batista made the comeback and the crowd loved it. Batista started whipping everybody with the belt. He hit a big spinebuster on Vader and an awful-looking one on Goldust. He hit Coach with the Batista Bomb to get the win.
I’d put this match over the Snuka/Eugene vs Tomko/Conway match only because the crowd was a lot more into it. The crowd does play a big part my opinions of a match and they cared about Batista here. With that being said, it was not too great. Vader did not look in good in-ring shape at all and Goldust was certainly not at his best in this match. However, the fans still got into it which does add to the whole deal for me. Maybe it’s fairer to put in on par with Snuka/Eugene vs Tomko/Conway, since it wasn’t the fault of the likes of Eugene and Conway that the fans weren’t into their match. For this match, the biggest redeeming quality was the reactions of the crowd.
Match Rating: *1/2
Todd Grisham interviewed Shawn Michaels. Michaels felt great to be voted into the WWE title match later and to be the “popular kid in school.” Kurt Angle interrupted and tried to form a partnership for the triple threat. He tried to entice HBK with the prospect of finally settling their feud by taking out Cena. It was actually a very compelling pitch by Angle! Shawn said he’d think about it.
Trish Stratus (c) vs Maria vs Ashley vs Mickie James vs Victoria vs Candice Michelle in a Fulfil Your Fantasy Battle Royal for the Women’s Championship
I have to give all the credit in the world to Victoria in this match. A report came out a few months ago about how Victoria was being considered for the WWE Hall of Fame. Now granted a lot of names for women going in were brought up, including Mickie James for that matter. For Victoria, I wasn’t sure whether I’d call her career “Hall of Fame worthy” and whether she’d be a good pick. This match made me realise what a fool I had been.
Victoria put on an incredible performance during this match and did everything she could to make this seem like a legitimate match. Now usually, the quality of these sorts of matches don’t really matter as it’s really put together to be eye candy for the fans. Victoria wanted the match to stand out on its own merit and it did. Trish and Mickie also worked very hard during this, but Victoria played a prominent part in the structure of the match. She worked her arse of and it made me realise how great Victoria had been during her career and how much she cared about putting on a good match. If you care about putting on the best performance you can, that amounts to a lot in my book. All of a sudden, this match was transformed into a legitimately good match between some of the best women of the roster.
There were a few issues and limitations with the women involved but it was still a decent match considering what the purpose of the match was supposed to be. Maria came out to, what would end up being, Alicia Fox’s theme. Caught me off guard. The storyline going in was that Mickie James was Trish’s biggest fan so she was helping her idol. They worked together to eliminate Maria.
Ashley eliminated Candice after Candice started dancing on the apron. Victoria catapulted Ashley over. The finish saw Mickie spear Victoria through the ropes to cause both women to hit the mat. Remember that for women’s matches, eliminations through the ropes counted. This meant that Trish won. Mickie had sacrificed herself to help Trish retain the title. The spot did look like it hurt both girls like. They both landed funny and Mickie was holding onto her arm afterwards.
Trish was interviewed after the match by Todd Grisham. Mickie James cut her off to talk about how great Trish was. Mickie was so great in this role as a super fan! They could have done this storyline with anyone but they went with Mickie, who just suit the role really well.
It was a decent match mostly because of the work by Trish and Victoria. The other girls did OK and didn’t really mess anything up and it was fine.
Match Rating: **
Ric Flair (c) vs Triple H in a Steel Cage match for the Intercontinental Championship
The options for this were a regular match, submission match and a cage match. The cage match got 83% of the vote. That was the match that Flair begged for on RAW a few weeks ago so there was no surprises.
Flair got the advantage early on. Triple H took over and he got the heat on Ric Flair for a LONG time. He busted open Flair by smashing him head-first into the cage. Flair was stuck between the ropes and cage when Triple H splashed him him. It was kind of funny seeing Triple H doing a Stinger Splash!
Triple H continued to decimate Ric Flair. Triple H went to escape but Flair cut him off. They battled on the top rope until they both fell down on the ropes. There was a lot
of “groin-based” attacks in this match. Triple H got a chain from the top of the cage. He tried a fist drop off the top rope with the chain but Flair put his foot up. Flair went for the Figure Four but Triple H hit him with the chain. Triple H went for the Figure Four but Flair was able to counter it. Triple H went for it again but Flair kicked Triple H into the cage. This was where the match turned around for Flair.
Triple H was busted open and Flair bit him. Joey Styles said that “Payback was a bloody bitch.” Something not quite right with what he said! Flair worked on the quad that Triple H tore previously as stated by Joey Styles. Flair went for the Figure Four but Triple H threw the ref over Flair. Flair tried to escape. This led to Flair SUCCESSFULLY jumping off the top rope! I marked out when Flair landed it in one of the rare instances where Flair successfully jumped off the top.
Flair low-blowed Triple H and tried to go through the cage door. Triple H stopped him but Flair brought a chair back into the cage with him.Triple H tried to use the chair but Flair grabbed Triple H by the nuts for a worryingly long time. Triple H went for the Pedigree but Flair back-dropped Triple H onto the chair. Flair hit Triple H with the chair three times and then escaped. I thought this was a bit of an anti-climatic finish but it was a pretty great match. It was boring at times but it was definitely one of the best matches of the show. They were going with the angle that Flair kept getting back up and getting back up and it worked in getting Flair such a big reaction when he won. It was a fine cage match.
Match Rating: ***1/4
John Cena (c) vs Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels in a triple threat match for the WWE Championship
There were a few boos for Cena early on. If you’ll remember from earlier, Angle had tried to form a partnership with Michaels. Too prove how much of a heel he was, Angle turned on Shawn Michaels in the first two seconds of the match!
There were small “Cena sucks” chants and the negative reactions for Cena slowly grew during the match. There were a lot of people that loved Cena as well though and I’d think it was pretty much 75% for Cena to 25% against Cena. Mostly a pro-Cena crowd with the exception of the times where Angle and HBK eventually teamed up on Cena.
It was obvious to everyone that Michaels was getting voted into the match but there were signs that there wasn’t a great deal of communication between all three men. There were a few spots that were slightly botched up. There was surprisingly some between Angle and Michaels when they were brawling at the start. Angle was going for the spot where Michaels was supposed to miss with the punch and Angle would hit the German Suplex. However, Michaels didn’t really follow through with his attack so it seemed like they messed up. It wasn’t a major spot to mess up but it’s interesting when considering that Michaels was the big favourite to get voted in.
John Cena threw Angle over the rope and Angle was somehow able to land on his feet. I mentioned miscommunication earlier on and this was clear when Cena did a horrible job in selling a clothesline for Shawn Michaels. Angle took over with suplex after suplex which got a huge reaction. There was an awesome sequence when Angle went for the Angle Slam on Michaels, but Michaels reversed it into the sunset flip. Kurt reversed that into the Ankle lock and Michaels pushed Kurt into Cena who went for the FU. Angle then pushed Cena into Michaels, who went for the Super Kick. Cena caught the leg and clotheslined Michaels. Awesome spot where all three men went for their finishers and they all looked good during this little portion of the match.
HBK and Angle started to team up on Cena to huge reactions, as mentioned earlier. They threw him into the ring post. They double-suplexed him face first onto the announce table. That took Cena out of the ball-game for a while.
It was down to Angle and HBK and it turned into a very nice wrestling match between the two of them. HBK and Angle immediately attacked each other and Kurt eventually took over. Angle hit the knee lift and Shawn jumped into the air as part of an awesome oversell from the Heartbreak Kid. Angle hit a top rope Angle Slam but Michaels kicked out. Cena did a comeback and got a big pop and some boos. Cena went for the five knuckle shuffle but Angle stopped him and pulled him out of the ring. Michaels then pulled off a diving rolling senton to the outside which looked wacky and awesome at the same time!
There were suddenly big “let’s go Angle” chants. Angle belly-to-belly suplexed Michaels to the outside. Cena hit the five knuckle shuffle on Angle and went for the FU but Angle locked on the Ankle lock. Cena kept trying to kick Angle off of him but Angle kept it locked on. Michaels went up to the turnbuckle and did an elbow drop to break it up. The issue is that Michaels took forever to get up on the turnbuckle and do the move. As Angle had this ankle lock on Cena for about a minute, Cena could have easily tapped out and Michaels hardly went up to the top with any immediacy. Michaels super-kicked Angle and Cena hit the FU on Michaels to win the match.
This was a good main event. Michaels and Angle worked hard. I cannot say that this was a strong performance from Cena as there was a few spots where Cena looked off to me. When you’re in there with guys like Michaels and Angle, it did make up for these botches. I think this was probably the best match of the night and it was a good way to end the show.
Match Rating: ***3/4
Taboo Tuesday was an OK pay-per-view. The main event and Triple H vs Ric Flair were the two highlights that really stood out but there were a few underrated matches in this show. I enjoyed the divas match and the opener. I could have done without Batista/Coach and the tag match with Eugene, Snuka, Tomko and Conway, but at least the crowd was into those matches to some degree. The crowd was mostly fine. Probably an enjoyable experience if you were there in the building. To me, not that strong of a pay-per-view but Taboo Tuesday was never really considered to be a big pay-per-view. My expectations going in wasn’t great but it did slightly surpass them. Not a bad show at all.