Summer 2005. My dad bravely climbs the roof to mount higher power antenna to our roof. Why? So I can watch Smackdown on UPN. The skullduggery of having to get a better antenna so you can watch local channels aside, my first major Smackdown storyline was Eddie Guerrero's feud with Rey Mysterio. While I'd been keeping up with Smackdown via Velocity for years Eddie's promos are some of my first memories of watching Smackdown as it happened.
But this isn't all that was happening. John Cena was trying to get over as a top face on Raw, Randy Orton faces Undertaker in a rematch from Wrestlemania 21, and also Hulk Hogan vs Shawn Micheals. I remember being enraptured with all of this, let's see if it holds up through 2019 eyes
Opening video package: Generic, even the Hogan/Michaels part, which is given its own section after a lengthy black screen comes off as generic
Orlando whiffs a punch, gets German suplexed, and Crossfaced in less than 30 seconds.
Vickie talks to Eddie backstage: Bad. Vickie isn't as nearly as alarmed at how psychotic Eddie has become as she should be. She did manage to get across that she doesn't think he's doing this for Dominick, that he just wants to beat Rey. Eddie tells her off for this
Matt Hardy vs Edge video package: Uncomfortable in how real it is, especially with the benefit of hindsight of how badly this actually screwed with Matt in real life. Edge at least had his creepy facials down from day one.
This match starts out hot, including a spear through the ropes. Matt gets banged off the turnbuckle during a 10 punch spot, The storyline is that Matt is concussed, but the ref takes entirely too long to call it off, and what apparently does Matt in is a super clearly-worked stomp to the head. Bad reffing aside, why would you give a match such an inconclusive, shoot finish when doing so would clearly deny the fans some kind of satisfaction?
Eddie Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio
To paraphrase Tazz, "Oh My God, this is ugly". This match is full of botches, and falls that look absolutely horrendous. That said, the crowd was INTO THIS. Michael Cole and Tazz were as good as they've ever been on commentary, and there were plenty of storyline moments that were pop inducing even now, especially Dominick's attempted interference. Unfortunately, this match was hindered by not only the above botches, but the fact that Vickie missed her cue. This is made worse by the fact that she has to hold Eddie back after she knocked the ladder over when Eddie should've just been out. The fact that Eddie was up and mobile post match and not beating the shit out of Vickie for acosting him blew the kayfabe out of this for me. Also Rey has to knock Eddie out with the briefcase to make up for this
Kurt Angle vs Eugene w/ Christy Hemme
Kurt dominates the match. Eugene hits three moves, all of which warrant 2 and a half counts. Angle wins though. At least him demanding to be adorned the medal standing on a chair was entertaining. I would give this a number rating if Eugene had hit anything that HADN'T resulted in a nearfall
The Divas wash "The President"'s limo: Sexy carwash cliches are abound. We're shown the President's seal on the limo, only to reveal that the passenger is....VINCE MCMAHON. Vince turns to the camera and asks, "Hey, why not?" as Hail to the Chief plays. We see a "McMahon for President" bumper sticker, which I want. This was hilarious. Any time Vince breaks the fourth wall and tells us, "I can do whatever I want" will get a pop out of me.
This goes longer than the main event, and this doesn't get a video package? And Undertaker comes out first?
Orton gets multiple moves off on Taker showcasing his speed, but one strike always slows Orton down. Orton survives getting his shoulder worked over, and even gets some stiff sounding strikes on Taker which pop the crowd. I've forgotten how crazy mobile Undertaker used to be. Undertaker dominates for a while until Randy ducks a running knee in the turnbuckle. Undertaker has to get his foot on the bottom rope after a DDT, Randy works the leg. Undertaker works the leg briefly but Orton regains momentum Taker doesn't utilize the bad leg for the leg drop which gets this an extra .5 points on principle. When Randy realizes he has Taker down after running into a dropkick, his facials are GREAT. RKO is blocked, multiple Tombstone reversals, and Orton's neck/backbreaker gets a two. This is the only time that that move felt like a possible finish. Undertaker rolls through a crossbody for a chokeslam. A fan comes into the ring distracting Taker allowing the RKO to be hit for the win!The fan reveals himself to be COWBOY BOB ORTON! This was especially fun for me as a young fan who was just learning about legends. This was a weird finish to a great match.
Jericho vs Cena video package: Cena's debut on Raw will always make me happy having been there live. Bischoff and Cena is apparently the new Austin vs McMahon and Jericho is the new Dude Love. This is meh, other than the visual of Jericho doing a Lionsault in ref gear on Raw.
Bischoff wishes Jericho luck before his entrance.
Jericho knocks Cena down off a shoulder block and turns around and is shocked when he gets back up again, what a doofus. Jericho gets the better of a strike exchange. Jericho gets a springboard move blocked, and the two brawl outside the ring. Jericho takes control again despite nothing he's really doing having an impact enough to believably keep Cena down. Strike exchange and Cena is sent out. Apron missile dropkick by Jericho. Jericho tweeks his leg on a Superplex. They're very loudly calling spots. Cena fights back but Jericho slides under a Cena Shoulder Tackle. Bulldog, Lionsault missed because tweeked knee, Victory Roll into the walls. Cena boosts Jericho out of the ring. and we get a double down. Damn Cena does his top rope fame asser years before I ever remember him doing it. FU countered into a DDT. Back breaker leads to goofy looking elbow drops where Cena is on his side. Even this early on we get the divide of children cheering for Cena and smarks chanting for Jericho. Choke on the ropes. Jericho does a dance to signal his hip attack on the second ropes but you can clearly see Cena looking back to time the clothesline to counter. Five moves of doom except clotheslines instead of shoulder blocks. but Jericho locks in the walls to counter the Shuffle. Cena has a tremendous amount of babyface fire and gets the ropes. Jericho counters a top rope FU with a sloppy backdrop and a sloppy jacknife pin for a 2 and 1/2. Jericho argues with the ref and goes for the bulldog only to get a sloppy Tilt a Whirl FU for the win for Cena. The best part of the finish is the Hulk Hogan marks in the crowd upset that Cena won. The irony is delicious This match had flashes of brilliance, you can see how John Cena was deemed worthy to be the top face, but whenever they would get into an impactful groove they'd lose it, and the sloppy finishing sequence didn't help matters either.
JBL vs Batista package: Batista got DQued at the Great American Bash. Or did JBL? It's not made clear. Anyway heel JBL chooses a No Holds Barred match.
Batista (c) vs JBL
Crowd brawling ends in a spear through the guard rail. JBL takes control with stiffness. Batista gets whipped and choked with the belt. Batista couinters out and gets the belt for himself. Batista kicks out of the Clothesline from Hell. JBL brings stairs in the ring and gets countered off of a powerbomb Batista hits a Spinbuster to counter the another Clothesline from Hell, and powerbombs JBL twice, once on the steps for the win. This felt like a short, simple match, but they told a good story in that length of time.
Hogan vs Michaels video package: Shawn is randomly mad at Hogan after a tag match because Hogan is a part timer.
HBK mimes a burial during Hogan's entrance. Yeah, we've all seen this match. And it's fucking embarrassing. Hogan acted like a brat per usual about losing, and HBK decided to make a joke out of the match by overselling the entire time. If you didn't know wrestling was pre-determined now, you did after this. And these two guys are fucking millionaires because of pro wrestling, but both men acting like they were in fucking kindergarten, making an ass out of the art form that made them famous.
Half of this card was duds. Half. Other than Taker vs Orton, or if you're interested in who the legal guardian of Dominick is, do not not watch this show. This is on par with Russo booked WCW levels of bad.