January 3, 2007
Matt Peddycord

The Best of 2006: The Matches

This is WWE only, so you won’t see any TNA or ROH here. Except for a few matches, the workrate in WWE had tended to decline throughout 2006, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that this was just another year of mediocre wrestling. We’ve got some goodies on here! For me to consider a match to be a MOTYC, it has to be overwhelmed with three things: 1) workrate 2) great booking, and 3) a huge level of suspense. I got to believe what’s going on in that ring is for real! While most other publications or internet columnists like to cut the ballot date off at the end of November, I go from 1/1 to 12/31. Another rule that only makes sense is that I have to have seen the match. I’ve seen every PPV and SNME this year and a whole lot of weekly stuff. I haven’t seen every episode of all three brands in 2006, but when I hear people talking (or see, if it’s on the net), then I’ll find it somewhere and watch it. Enough chit-chat though, let’s start up the countdown!

Wait, first off, we have some awesome “honorable mentions”. -

WWE Champion John Cena vs. Triple H vs. Edge – Triple Threat Match (Backlash 04.30.06) ***¾
- World Champion Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels – non-title match (Raw 01.16.06) ***¾
- Kurt Angle vs. Randy Orton – (ECW: One Night Stand II 06.11.06) ***¾
- Rob Van Dam vs. Hardcore Holly – (ECW on Sci-Fi 09.26.06) ***¾
- Edge, Randy Orton & Lita vs. John Cena, Carlito & Trish Stratus – (Raw 09.04.06) ***¾

Now to the countdown! Anything you see from here on will be **** or better.

10. After what seemed like forever since we had actually been surprised on PPV, they spring this baby on us. Every one involved worked their butts off regardless of the brand-extension gaps. You had no idea who was going to win this up until the very end and it left you hoping for more from all four teams involved. I can’t say that it saved the whole show, but it sure made for a great match. It also reminds us why we should definitely leave the wrestling to the pros. Isn’t that right, Joey? Here it is, the #10 WWE match of 2006. -

WWE Tag Team Champions Paul London & Brian Kendrick vs. William Regal & Dave Taylor vs. MNM vs. The Hardys – Four-Way Ladder Match (Armageddon – 12.17.06)

JBL puts the Hardys over as ladder match veterans. The faces dump the heels to start so that they can trade blows and keep the match between themselves. Kendrick takes a hiptoss from Matt while Jeff takes a rana from London. Jeff fights back with a sitout jawbreaker and goes over and attacks Kendrick to set up the double-wheelbarrow bomb. MNM takes the Hardys out to the floor to brawl while Regal and Taylor do the same in the ring with the Hooligans. Ouch! Half-nelson throw from Regal to London, then to Kendrick! Meanwhile, the Hardys don’t want MNM bringing the ladders to the ring, so they attack and do it themselves! Regal and Taylor have tossed out the champs and want to keep the Hardys from putting the ladders in the ring. They try and stop MNM from bringing them in as well, but that allows Matt to sneak in and nail them with a ladder. Now everyone is back in the ring. Taylor receives Poetry in Motion from the Hardys, which sets up a SNAPSHOT from MNM! Regal takes a double-superkick to the face from the Hooligans. Regal and Taylor get dumped, as does MNM. Kendrick gets whipped into a ladder by the Hardys, and he has no choice but to take a breather. London catches Matt with an enziguri, but Jeff nails him with a front dropkick to the face. Jeff sets up a ladder to go for the belts, but London surprises Matt with an inverted atomic drop and dropkicks Jeff off the ladder! Now London tries to head up the ladder. Kendrick intercepts Jeff’s attempt at bringing London down, and then London jumps off the ladder as he sees Nitro coming up behind him with a springboard attempt from the apron into him with something. The ladder falls over and that could’ve REALLY gone wrong had Nitro landed on one of the legs. The man is LUCKY! Mercury takes the ladder and starts jabbing everyone he sees and sets up the ladder again. Mercury starts climbing, but the faces swarm and bring the ladder to the edge of the ring. They tilt it over and send Mercury off the ladder out on top of Nitro outside the ring! Matt hits a pescado on Taylor and sends Regal face-first into the ringpost. Kendrick tries to climb up, but Matt stops him and brings him down face-first to the mat. Man, Matt Hardy is EVERYWHERE! Matt sets up the ladder in a corner and the Hardys double-whip Kendrick into it. London receives the same, except they try for Poetry in Motion. London avoids it and Jeff hits his face on the TOP of the ladder! OUCH! Cole ~ “It truly looks like Armageddon out here!” Really, Michael? The Hooligans beat down Matt for a bit. London tries to head up the ladder again, but he gets pulled down and clotheslined by Matt. Kendrick tries to shoot up the ladder and grab the belts, but Matt is there to yank him down by his tights. Matt sets up the ladder and makes a ramp out of it using the second rope. He wants to suplex London on it, but London blocks and hammers Matt down on the ladder. London lifts up the end of the ladder to put Matt at a 180-degree angle so that Kendrick can come off the top and deliver the DOUBLE-STOMP to Matt Hardy! Since the Hardys are incapacitated, MNM come back in to destroy the Hooligans. They give London a double-gutbuster and then set up the ladders to create a see-saw effect. Matt gets beat up some more and then is set up on the turnbuckle for a double-superplex on the ladders, but Jeff comes back in for the save. Matt and MNM are back on the mat while Jeff is up top! Matt gives MNM a DOUBLE-NOGGIN KNOCKER while Jeff leaps down on the ladder so that it comes up and hits MNM in the face! Mercury gets the worse of it as he rolls out to the floor with his face GUSHING OUT BLOOD! Yeah, his face is shattered. That was really sick, folks. Poor Joey. He goes away for six months and then he comes back and a few weeks later, his face gets broken. I blame Teddy. Matt and Kendrick fight on the ladder until Regal and Taylor hop in to save. Taylor slams Kendrick on and off a ladder set up in the corner and then Regal gives London a half-nelson suplex on that same ladder. Regal starts to climb the ladder to retrieve the belts, but then he finds out he’s afraid of heights! He comes down and tells Taylor to climb. He does, but Kendrick stops him half-way up. Regal gets pissed and throws Kendrick out to the floor. By the way, Mercury has been taken to the hospital. The Hardys return to the ring to stop the Englishmen. While Jeff is getting another ladder set up out on the floor, Matt is giving Regal and Taylor both TWIST OF FATES! Jeff climbs up the ladder for a possible SWANTON BOMB on Regal and Taylor, but then Nitro runs in out of nowhere and dropkicks the ladder through the ropes to send Jeff crashing throat-first on the top rope! Oh that was NOT smart, Jeff. Nitro nails Regal and Taylor with a ladder and then delivers the Shawn Michaels Special by climbing the turnbuckle and smashing the ladder into Regal. Nitro tries for the belts. Kendrick attempts to stop him while London climbs up on the apron to deliver a springboard dropkick to take him off the ladder. Crowd applauds the Hooligans, and it’s about time too. Matt meets Kendrick up on the ladder and hiptosses him down to the mat. London pounds on Matt and tries to grab the belts, but then Matt backdrops London to the mat as the ladder falls over. Jeff tries to retrieve the belts, but its set up too far from the belts so you know a spot is coming. Nitro starts the climb and gets nailed with a SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB off the ladder from Jeff. Jeff looked like he could’ve blown out his knee on that one. Matt stupidly sets up two ladders beside each other and starts to climb with one foot on each ladder. Regal and Taylor pull the ladder out from under him like anybody with any common sense would. Matt gets right back up, but gets double-teamed and booted in the face by Regal. Regal and Taylor give the ladder climb another try and set up two ladders beside each other, but Kendrick is there to meet Regal up top. Taylor pulls Kendrick down and clotheslines him, but then gets dumped to the floor by London. Regal is still up on the ladder! Kendrick gets back to his feet and climbs the other ladder and tries for SLICED BREAD #2 to Regal off the ladder, but they’re too close to the ropes for the move so they another spot is ruined. London gets back in the ring and climbs the ladder. Matt meets him there, but gets knocked off the ladder. With Nitro and Taylor both clawing at his heels, London is still able to grab the belts and win the match. (20:13) Regardless of some contrived and blown spots, it was a great match that just might solidify the tag champs run as more than just killing time. I still hope Regal and Taylor get a good long title match soon because that would still be a great match. But wow, poor Joey. ****

9. What’s most saddening about this match is its most memorable moment; Vince McMahon’s bloody face being shoved up Big Show’s butt. No, I’m not British. Why do you ask? Terrible image aside, this match had awesome drama and Big Show really added a lot to the whole affair. Of course, DX came out the winners at the end and we can say goodbye the DX/McMahons feud for the time being at least. It’s a match that was able to mix brutality and fun together at the same time, which is really hard to pull off. -

Shane McMahon, Big Show & Vince McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels & Triple H – Hell In A Cell (Unforgiven - 09.17.06)

JR does a great job of putting over how CRAZY this “Satan’s Playground” is noting that dozens of bones have been broken and thousands of stitches have been given out. H and Michaels dish out stereo kicks to the Big Show’s big show to put him down for a moment so they can beat down the McMahons. The Canadians start chanting “You screwed Bret” within the first twenty seconds. DX dump the McMahons and go back after Big Show who is back up to his feet. They give him another running field goal kick to the balls to once again keep him down. Next up, the McMahons eat the steel and get busted open as a result. Where is Big Show? Oh, he’s STILL down in the ring. Triple H pulls out a screwdriver and begins to twist it into Vince’s forehead! Triple H brings Vince back in the ring and Shawn goes up top for the elbow drop, but Show comes alive and catches Shawn coming off the top and slams him. Boy that was dumb. Triple H tries a whip, but Show stands his ground and flips H out of the ring: Harley Race-style. Show goes out for Triple H, but then gets double-teamed by DX and tossed into the steps to keep him incapacitated. Back in the ring, Shawn pairs up with Shane and Triple H pairs up with Vince with DX in control. Show comes back in again to end DX’s momentum. He levels H with headbutts while Shawn gets sent out via clothesline by Shane. The McMahons get a few licks in on H while cheering Show on at the same time. Show delivers the CHOKESLAM to H and then goes out to punish Shawn. He picks him up and gives Shawn a release powerbomb face-first into the cage and blades. Meanwhile, the McMahons are toying around with the Game. Show ~ “Hey, watch this!” He proceeds to toss Shawn into the cage like a lawn dart. Shane stomps H down in the corner to set up for the trashcan assisted COAST-TO-COAST! ALRIGHT! He connects! What’s great about that spot is that H’s ear was supposedly injured Monday night. They remembered to capitalize on the injury to make the spot more than just a spot. I like it when they do that. I got to mention that he’s bleeding from the ear. Shawn gets tossed back in the ring for some triple-teaming. Shane takes H out to the floor and sets up the steel steps and then catapults H into the cage wall to bust open his forehead. In the ring, Show delivers the pump splash out of the corner onto Shawn. Just as promised earlier, Vince goes for the cover for 1, 2, NO! He picks Shawn up off the mat. He hands Shawn to Show for the COBRA-CLUTCH BACKBREAKER! He continues the hold on the mat for a bit and then lifts him up for the inverted leg drop bulldog. Vince covers again, but picks Shawn up again at two. Triple H comes back with his body COVERED in blood and tosses Show. He hits the facebuster on Vince and tries for the PEDIGREE, but Shane pulls him off his dad and lifts him into a torture rack. Huh? He twists H around into what appeared to be a spinning rack neckbreaker or an inverted TKO, but JR calls it a counter into a neckbreaker. I’m not sure what happened there, but both men are down. Shawn gets back up and sends Shane out with an enziguri. Vince clotheslines Shawn down to stop his momentum as the Big Show walks over to take care of Shawn. Vince pulls down his pants to reintroduce Shawn to the “Kiss My WHAT?” club, but Triple H is there to prevent that from happening. Show nails him and sets Shawn up for a splash off the ropes, but Shawn pulls Vince in the way and he gets splashed instead. Big Show ~ “Yikes!” A distracted Big Show gets tripped up and posted by DX. Back in, Shawn nails Shane with the flying forearm and the kip-up. An HBK atomic drop into a Triple H spinebuster to Shane! Shawn goes up for the flying elbow while H brings a chair into the ring and Pillmanizes Shane’s neck! Shawn connects with the elbow drop! Shane is bleeding inside! Shawn tunes up the band for SWEET CHIN MUSIC, but Show is there to yank him out and throw him into the cage. Show hotshots H and brings the steps in the ring because he’s ANGRY! Vince is still down by the way and Shane is done. Show goes to ram H with the steps, but since they are covering his face, he can’t see Triple H running at him to nail him in the gut with a steel chair. Haha, he jiggles like Jell-O! A chair shot to the head on the steps KO’s Show. Wait, no it doesn’t, but the SWEET CHIN MUSIC will! He falls on the ropes, which becomes important in a minute. The last McMahon standing is Vince, and he looks FURIOUS. H gets rid of the steps as the crowd starts to boo! It’s a standoff between Vince and DX. They yank Show’s tights down past his rear end! Vince drops to his knees and gets his face stuck in between the cheeks. Show falls out to the floor to readjust himself, and I think I saw a wee-wee! Shawn hits the SWEET CHIN MUSIC while H grabs a sledgehammer and BREAKS it over the back of Vince’s skull for the academic three-count. (25:04) Wow, great match to hopefully end the feud. It told a great story and adding Big Show to the mix was the best thing for it, as it did wonders for the match. I couldn’t imagine it being good without him. ****

8. This is the match that gave Sabu a future in the new ECW. The crowd was extremely hot for the whole thing and it ended in an insane moment without a real winner. You can’t deny that it was awesome seeing these two nearly kill each other. Sounds sick, I know, but that’s ECW. -

World Heavyweight Champion Rey Mysterio vs. Sabu – “Extreme Rules” match (ECW: One Night Stand II – 06.11.06)

Mysterio comes out with his old-school tights like he wore before he lost the mask in WCW. Rey has ECW stitched on the back of his mask, but the crowd interprets it as “sucking up” so they boo Rey. Joey calls Rey’s reaction mixed, but Tazz begs to differ. Both men have chairs in hand as the bell sounds. They lay the chairs down and actually begin to wrestle! They go through a nice little sequence and then come to a stand-off. They play patty cake with the chairs which goes nowhere. Sabu hits Air Sabu, but then takes a drop-toe hold into a chair. Rey follows up with a chair-assisted hurracanrana out from the corner. Sabu avoids a 619 and then heaves a chair into Rey’s face which sends him rolling out to the floor! Sabu pulls out a table and makes it into a scaffold between the ring and guardrail. He lays Rey on the table and then goes for a springboard dive from inside the ring, but Rey rolls off the table. Sabu changes his direction, but still misses Rey and lands chest-first on the railing. Back in, Rey hits a beautiful moonsault press for two! Rey tries for a sunset flip from the apron, but Sabu kicks him in the head and sets Rey up for a guillotine legdrop while laid out on the middle rope. Sabu covers, 1, 2, NO! Sabu puts Rey in a camel clutch to draw some “Sheik” chants from the crowd, so Sabu releases the hold and points to the sky. Sabu goes to the floor and pulls out another table before re-entering and delivering an Arabian Facebuster for a near-fall. Sabu goes back out and sets up the table vertically to the ring. Rey dropkicks Sabu on the apron and landing on the table. LA SILLA to Sabu THROUGH the table! Back in, Rey hits a springboard guillotine leg drop to the back of Sabu’s head. Cover, 1, 2, NO! Sabu comes back with a springboard leg lariat. Sabu hits the TRIPLE JUMP MOONSAULT for 1, 2, NO! Rey avoids the ATOMIC ARABIAN FACEBUSTER and then sets Sabu in a chair for LA SILLA. Rey goes for it, but then Sabu rolls out of the way to crotch Rey REAL good! Sabu heaves the chair at Rey again for a nice sonic boom to send Rey to the floor! Sabu puts Rey on that table made into a scaffold and then delivers a SPRINGBOARD DDT THROUGH THE TABLE ON THE FLOOR on Rey Mysterio!!! Neither man can continue so they call for a bell leaving this match a no-contest. (9:08) The crowd boos the heck out of that finish, but that just made the moment all the more insane. Sabu pretty much jackknifed himself. That was a pretty cool spot fest if I do say so myself. Should this match be classified as having a bad finish just because there was no real end result? I don’t think so because to me, that’s what makes something hardcore; two guys who cross the line of being able to continue to fight. Sabu wasn’t going to win the title and since he had had 75% of the offense in the match, it wouldn’t have made sense for Rey to go over here. ****

7. What has helped Ric Flair maintain a wrestling career after thirty years is that he didn’t wrestle in crazy gimmick matches. He was a wrestler’s wrestler; meaning he kept it on the mat as much as possible unless he was being slammed off the top turnbuckle. You also have Edge, who holds a fairly decent win/loss record when it comes to ladder matches and was undefeated in TLC matches at this point. You wouldn’t think someone like Ric Flair could put on an awesome TLC match at the age of 56, but it was as though he had waited his whole career to compete in one of these dangerous matches. -

WWE Champion Edge (w/Lita) vs. Ric Flair – TLC V Match (Raw – 01.16.06)

This was the best Raw of 2006, wrestling-wise. Edge had been making fun of Flair for weeks after he was charged (in REAL life!) with assault and battery in late-November. They wrestled at New Year’s Revolution, which Flair won by DQ after Edge hit Flair in the face with his “Money-in-the-Bank” briefcase. That same night, as we all know, Edge cashed in the briefcase and pinned Cena to win the WWE title. This could all come back to bite him in the butt now that he has Flair to contend with in a TLC match. Many overlook this match saying that Flair is out of his element, but that’s definitely not the case (no pun intended). By the way, this is LIVE from Raleigh, NC. Flair country, if you WILL. Flair hits some chops early, but Edge stops that with a knee and grabs a ladder and a chair from the outside. Edge jabs Flair with the ladder and then sandwiches him in between the rungs! Flair is trapped, so Edge picks up the chair and smashes it into the ladder. Flair finally gets free and rolls out to the floor. Edge follows him out and gets chopped out over the security wall. They brawl in the crowd for a bit, but then Flair takes a backdrop back out to ringside. Edge gives Flair a suplex on the floor and sets up a table and puts a chair on it. Lita hands him another chair for a CONCHAIRTO on the table, but Flair counters by grabbing Edge’s balls! Flair takes Edge off the announce table and drops him chest-first on the security wall. Lita takes this opportunity to jump on Flair’s back and choke him down, but Flair flips her off of him. Flair goes back after Edge, but then gets nailed with a steel chair to bust him open! Edge sets him on the table and Lita holds him down while Edge sets up a ladder in the ring. Remember, Flair is on a table over by the announce table! Edge starts to climb and once he gets to the top, he SPLASHES Flair through the table! CRAZY! Flair’s daughter Ashley is at ringside pleading with him to get up as we go to commercial! We’re back and a bloody Flair is vertical in the ring while Edge is still stumbling out on the floor. Edge gets back in and takes a low blow for it. Flair sandwiches Edge in between the rungs this time and proceeds to smash a chair on the ladder. I love how Flair is using Edge’s own tactics against him, knowing that he’s never been in a ladder match before. Flair pulls Edge free from the ladders and cleans his clock with a chairshot! Flair places the ladder on Edge and bashes the ladder with the chair some more and then makes the first attempt at retrieving the belt. Once he sees Edge is still moving, he gets down and moves the ladder to a corner. Flair chops Edge down and heads up the ladder, but Edge meets him at the top for a SUPERPLEX OFF THE LADDER! INSANE! Edge starts to climb the ladder, but now Flair is standing again. Edge decides to deliver a missile dropkick, but Flair avoids it. Nevertheless, we see a Flair Flop. WOOOO! Edge gets up first and knocks Flair out to ringside with a chairshot. Edge goes up the ladder for his belt, but Flair gets back in and pushes the ladder back to send Edge crashing through a table out on the floor! The crowd is going nuts, begging Flair to capitalize on this moment. Flair climbs the ladder and touches the belt, but Lita sneaks in and brings Flair down. She knocks Flair down and mounts him to punch on him, but Flair pushes Lita off and puts her in the FIGURE-FOUR! He lets go after about ten seconds and Edge is still out! Flair slowly starts the climb again. Edge is now up and at the ladder, but Edge climbs and punches Flair down to retain his belt. (16:38) Post-match, Edge SPEARS Flair down and goes for another CONCHAIRTO, but John Cena runs down for the save. Interestingly enough, Edge would be dethroned during his second title reign in a TLC match against John Cena himself, which we’ll get to later in the countdown. ****

6. We’ve got two guys who are given 20-minutes and who just so happen to RULE. What else do you need? -

Chris Benoit vs. Finlay - (Judgment Day 05.21.06)

This grudge match is a result of Finlay pulling some shenanigans on Benoit to continue in the KotR tournament. It’s all for naught considering Lashley beat Finlay to advance the finals. But in any event, both these guys just love to fight. I mean, Finlay says it at the beginning of his entrance music. “Benoit” chants start up before these guys even lock up with each other. They collar-and-elbow tie up their way out to the floor with INTENSITY! Back in, Benoit goes nose-to-nose with Finlay to bait in the quickest double-leg takedown I’ve ever seen to try for a SHARPSHOOTER. Finlay trips him up before Benoit can lock in the hold. Benoit goes to the mat with a headlock, but a quick rollup by Finlay causes him to break the hold. Finlay complains to the ref that Benoit jabbed him in the eye to slow things down and to get a quick shot in on Benoit. Genius! Finlay takes Benoit back to the mat with a reverse chinlock for a bit, but then wakes Benoit up with a slap to the face. Benoit returns the favor, only 1000x harder! Benoit stiffs Finlay to the other side of the ring and drops him with a textbook backbreaker. Benoit takes Finlay to the mat and tries to maneuver him around for the Crippler Crossface, but instead cradles him over for a near-fall with Finlay’s feet on the ropes. Benoit beats on Finlay in the corner, but then takes a thumb to the eye. Short-arm clothesline sets up a near-fall. Finlay puts Benoit in a hold that is so sick, I don’t even know WHAT to call it where he forces his foot behind Benoit’s head and pulls on both his arms. Let’s call it the IRISH TORTURE DEVICE! Benoit actually powers out of this insane hold, but goes right into a bow-tie chokehold. Benoit fights out and ducks a clothesline to hit the HAT TRICK of Germans. Benoit goes up top for the SWANDIVE HEADBUTT, but Finlay rolls out of the way. Benoit delivers a dragon screw leg whip and tries for the SHARPSHOOTER once more, but Finlay kicks him away. Finlay goes out to bring a chair into the ring, but Benoit baseball-slides the chair into Finlay. Benoit rolls Finlay in and nails the SWANDIVE HEADBUTT! He covers for 1, 2, NO! Finlay reverses a whip for Benoit to run chest-first in the corner, and then follows up with a clothesline from behind for two. Finlay works on the neck for a bit, but then hits a big running butt splash to Benoit’s lower abdomen for two. Finlay locks on a hammerlock/dragon sleeper submission hold! I don’t know why no one has ever thought of that before! Benoit bridges out, but Finlay drops him again with a European uppercut to the back of the head. Finlay just kills Benoit with the forearm shots. Benoit fights back with the same, but then Finlay starts to tear on Benoit’s shoulders. Benoit flips out a slam and puts Finlay down with a German suplex! He hits another suplex! Benoit tries for a third, but Finlay elbows out. Finlay repeatedly headbutts Benoit, but then takes an enziguri that sends him stumbling out of the ring. Benoit follows him out and ducks a swing of the shillelagh to give Finlay a German suplex on the floor! Benoit gets back in the ring at the count of six, Finlay in at eight. Benoit delivers a snap suplex in from the apron and holds on through the Three Amigos of Eddie Guerrero. Benoit takes too much time pounding his chest like Eddie, so Finlay shoves Benoit off the apron into the security wall. Back in, Finlay drives Benoit shoulder-first into the steel ringpost. He brings Benoit to the center of the ring and out of nowhere; Benoit takes Finlay down to the mat to lock in the CRIPPLER CROSSFACE! Once Benoit clasps his hands, Finlay taps immediately! (21:10) If guys like Benoit and Finlay can’t deliver, WWE might as well stop what they’re doing. Keep the memories you have and leave it at that. The match they had that set this one up was really great, but this was just better. Possibly the reason could just be due to the commercial break in the middle of it. You might be able to say that the finish was too quick, but it completely defines what the Crossface is meant to do. It’s meant to be unexpected and quickly executed. No one saw it coming, especially not Finlay. ****

5. A perfect definition of “good friends, better enemies.” These two put on a non-stop hardcore clinic, ending with a very memorable finish that few men could ever top. To say that Mick Foley is included this far down on a Match of the Year countdown in 2006 is a testament to just how great he still can be to the business. -

Edge (w/Lita) vs. Mick Foley – Hardcore Match (WrestleMania 22 04.02.06)

Edge has a baseball bat and you can just guess what he wants to do with it. Foley knocks it away from him and sends Edge down with a faceslam. Joey Styles is “losing his WrestleMania virginity” as he puts it by calling this match. He mentions that Foley is wearing the black flannel showing that he’s gone into a dark place preparing for this match. Foley sets up Edge in the TREEEE OF WOEEE position and follows up with an elbow drop to the face. Edge comes back with a knockdown to Foley. Edge tells Lita to throw in some toys for him to beat Foley with. A cookie sheet is destroyed by Foley’s head! Edge follows up by dropkicking a road sign in Foley’s face! Edge sets up for the spear and he gets it! Edge is obviously more hurt by it as Foley stands up and shows everyone that he has barbed-wire wrapped around his abdomen! Foley yanks out some wire-cutters from his shoe and takes that off of him. CRAZY! Edge’s arm is “busted open”. Foley takes his barbed wire and then starts whipping Edge with it! While Edge gets wrapped up in the ropes, Mick goes to the floor and pulls out his barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat better known as Barbie! Lita comes in and leaps on Mick’s back to try and save Edge, so Mick runs at Edge who is still in the ropes for a CACTUS CLOTHESLINE! That was AWESOME! Mick covers for two! Swinging neckbreaker on the floor gets two. Foley charges Edge with his head up against the steel steps, but Edge jumps up and tosses Foley awkwardly into the steps! Poor Mick. Edge beats on Foley some more before tossing him knees first into the steps again! Edge sets up a table out on the floor and puts Foley on it. Edge goes up top, but Foley simply slides off of the table. Edge comes down and goes after Mick by slamming his head into the steel rampway! That gets two. Back in, Lita hands Edge a bottle of lighter fluid and then Edge squirts it all over Mick! Lawler can’t believe Edge is going to light Foley on fire! Foley comes back with a quick pull-up piledriver for two. Lita saves Edge from a ONE-MAN CONCHAIRTO by getting in the ring, but then Foley turns around into a DDT on a cookie sheet for two. Edge brings Barbie into play and harms Foley with it REAL good. He even bulldogs Foley on it for two. Edge goes back to the floor and pulls out a SACK OF TACKS and pours them all in the ring! Foley counters with a back suplex on the tacks! Edge is all like OWWWW so Foley pulls out MR. SOCKO, and then wraps him up with barbed wire! MANDIBLE CLAW for Edge AND Lita! Lita’s lip is supposedly busted open. Foley grabs Barbie and nails Edge with it a couple times. Both men are busted open pretty bad. Foley goes out onto the apron and pours lighter fluid on that table that was set up on the floor. Lita comes by with Barbie and whacks Foley in the balls with it! HAHAHA! She sets the table on fire as Edge comes THROUGH the ropes and spears Foley THROUGH THE FLAMING TABLE! Joey ~ “OH MY GOD!” That’ll do it as Edge gets the three-count. (14:38) A flaming table and a barbed-wire wrapped Mr. Socko. THAT’s hardcore, folks! Edge does a great mutilated sell-job on his way to the back. ****

4. It seemed like this was a match where WWE wanted Randy Orton to get in there and learn something. Possibly the most underrated WWE match of 2006, for reasons I don’t understand. I enjoyed the heck out of this match. -

Chris Benoit vs. Randy Orton – No Holds Barred, Falls Count Anywhere (Smackdown – 01.27.06)

Orton took Booker’s place due to an injury in order to finish his best-of-seven series with Benoit over the US Title. Orton is promised a favor in return, but I’m not sure that it ever paid off. After the Rumble, Orton went right into a feud with Rey Mysterio leading up to WrestleMania. Nice chain wrestling to start. Benoit comes out of a waistlock and goes to an overhead wristlock. Orton comes out of that into a side headlock. Benoit shoves him off into the ropes and takes a shoulderblock. He tries several times to do a German Suplex, but Orton blocks every attempt and slips through the ropes and out to the floor because he FEARS the move. Good psychology. Orton’s all, “I don’t think so, dude,” as we go to commercial. We come back to see Orton taking Benoit down with a headlock. Benoit tries to get out of that and surprise Orton with the CROSSFACE, but Orton gets away. Benoit works the arm with a standing armbar, but Orton rolls out of it and gets knocked down with some chops for two. Orton fights back and sends Benoit out to the floor with forearm shots. They fight on the announce table until Orton backs Benoit kidneys-first into the apron. Orton covers out on the floor for 1-2-NO! Back in, Orton covers again using the ropes for leverage for two. Nothing the ref can do about it either. Orton goes to the rigorous chinlock. Benoit fights out with an armdrag and gets caught with a HIGH dropkick. They go back out to the floor and Orton finds a trashcan lid and nails Benoit in the back with it. Now Orton grabs a trash can, but Benoit gives him a drop toe hold on it to buy himself some time. Benoit slams Orton’s face into the steps and chops him up against the ringpost. They go back over to the announce table for Benoit to slam Orton’s face on it and send him flying in Cole and Tazz’s seats! Orton fights back with a BLINDING rake to the eyes. Benoit takes a hotshot on the announce table for 1-2-NO! Back in, Orton delivers some knee drops and goes to the crazy chinlock again. Orton releases to stomp him and then goes out and brings a chair into the ring. Benoit ducks a wild swing with the chair and goes for the SHARPSHOOTER! Orton fights it, but Benoit holds on until he gets kicked away. Orton channels the spirit of NIKOLAI VOLKOFF and drops a big communist-like knee drop for 1-2-NO! Orton applies a sleeper/body scissors. Benoit breaks free of the body scissors. He remains in a front headlock, but fights out with a release Northern Lights suplex. They go out on the floor and brawl up the aisle way, but Benoit sends Orton back into the ring with chops. Benoit delivers a pair of knockdowns and then a running elbow drop for 1-2-NO! Benoit hits the Three Amigos and goes a superplex for the big exclamation point. Will he get it? Yes he does! Both men down at the seven-count, but then out of nowhere Benoit jumps on Orton to slap on the CRIPPLER CROSSFACE. Orton fights it off long enough to stand up and fall out to the floor along with Benoit. Orton grabs the trash can on the other side of the ring and walks over and hits Benoit in the head with it. Commercial time! We come back and Orton has Benoit in the ring and down on the mat in the tenacious chinlock. Benoit fights out of it with chops, but then Orton catches Benoit in a Stretch Backbreaker. Back out to the floor, Orton pulls up the protective mat to expose the concrete floor and tries to give Benoit a PILEDRIVER! That move is illegal in the WWE, even Cole says it is! I love how Orton takes advantage of the rules there to get the job done. Naturally, Benoit has to backdrop out of the piledriver. He grabs a steel chair and goes to KILL Orton with it, but Orton moves out of the way just in time for the chair to smash against the concrete. Benoit chases Orton back into the ring with the chair, but Orton kicks it away. Orton swings at Benoit, but he ducks and gets his Hat Trick of Germans! Benoit signals for the Swandive Headbutt and heads up top, but Orton brings up the trashcan lid to block and lets Benoit hit it face first. Hahaha, Orton is SMILING! Cole calls Orton a coward, which seems unjustified to me. That was smart. Orton slithers around waiting for Benoit to get up and take an RKO on the trashcan lid. Benoit blocks it and shoves Orton off into the ropes, and then NAILS Orton in the face with the lid, making Orton easy pickings for the CRIPPLER CROSSFACE and the win! (26:06) Just an all-around awesome match with tons of great psychology. ****

3. A classic match followed by a classic rematch. It’s amazing how they can create the same amazing atmosphere twice by doing two completely different matches. Sure, some spots were the same, but the ones that were different are what make this match so special. Up until the finish, you knew Undertaker meant what he said at No Way Out by telling Kurt Angle that he had his number. -

World Champion Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker – (Smackdown - 03.03.06)

This is the rematch from No Way Out due to the controversial finish. I still don’t know how the WWE can call that finish controversial, but who cares! We get another great match! Crowd goes into the dueling chants to start as Angle tries to avoid being stuck in the corner with Taker. Angle ducks Taker’s shots and turns things around on Taker in the corner. Taker comes out and brings Angle into the corner by his throat and delivers some body shots. Taker chases the ref out of the ring and charges into a boot off a whip in the corner. Angle catches Taker in an armdrag and goes into an armbar. Taker escapes and applies a Fujiwara armbar of his own. Taker lifts Angle up in a knucklelock lift and heads over to the corner to wrench on Angle’s arm some more. Taker decides to go OLD SKOOL, but Angle brings him down with a forearm. Angle stomps Taker down in the corner, but Taker goes back to the arm to regain control. Taker looks like he wants to try for OLD SKOOL again, but Angle drills him with a forearm before he can start the climb. Angle delivers the ten-count corner punch, but Taker lifts him up for the LAST RIDE to counter after seven. Angle tries to block it, so Taker drops him on the top rope instead. Angle gets booted off the apron into the security wall as we go to break. We come back to see Taker setting up the announce table, but Angle stops him and slams Taker’s head into the steel steps, but then he turns around and drops Angle with a clothesline. Taker places Angle on the apron and gives him the guillotine leg drop across the neck instead of delivering it on the chest. Angle WRITHES in pain as he falls to the floor. Taker brings Angle back in to avoid a countout and covers for 1-2-NO! I love how Taker created the opportunity to move from working on the arm to the neck. Taker grinds and hammers on Angle’s neck and shoulders, but then Angle reverses a whip and hits a powerslam out of nowhere! Cover, 1-2-NO! Angle applies a chinlock, but releases the hold when Taker starts pushing on Angle’s face causing more torque on the neck. Angle delivers a suplex for two, and then moves to a body scissors for a few near-falls. Taker stands up out of it, leaving Angle open for right hands. Angle baits Taker in the corner and avoids a running big boot to create an opportunity to weaken Taker’s leg for the anklelock. Angle tries to knock Taker off the apron, but he runs into a back elbow to slow things down. Taker heads up top, but Angle meets him there only to get knocked back down. Angle comes back with rights and delivers a top-rope superplex for 1-2-NO! Commercial break #2! After the break, we see Angle punishing Taker with another chinlock. Taker punches out, but then gets clotheslined out to the floor by Angle. He lands on his feet and pulls Angle out to the floor with him. That proves to a BIG mistake, as Angle reverses a whip sending Taker knees-first into the steel steps! Back in, Angle covers for 1-2-NO! Taker wins a slugfest and follows Angle into the corner with a clothesline! Make it two clotheslines! Taker follows up with the snake-eyes, but Angle ducks the big boot and hits a German Suplex! OH YEAH! Angle wants the ANGLE SLAM, but will he get it? NO! Big boot by Taker! Cover, 1-2-NO! Taker wants a CHOKESLAM, but Angle decides that the ANKLELOCK might be that much cooler! Taker kicks Angle away and goes for the TOMBSTONE out of nowhere! Angle reverses, but so does Taker! Angle escapes, ducks a clothesline and hits the ANGLE SLAM! Cover, 1-2-NO!!! The crowd collectively has a heart attack at this point. Angle pulls down the straps, makes up some new cuss words, and slaps on the ANKLELOCK again! Taker rolls through it and catches Angle in a CHOKESLAM! Taker staggers around, so Angle takes advantage and surprises EVERYONE with another ANKLELOCK! Taker turns around and pulls Angle into the Triangle Choke! Angle starts to fade away, but then rolls over Taker into a pinning predicament just like at No Way Out, but Taker slips out after one. The choke is still applied as Taker rolls onto his back. Will Angle tap out?! Angle’s arm drops once, twice, but not three times as he reaches the bottom rope. Taker sets Angle up for a leg drop, but Angle avoids it and hooks on the ANKLELOCK for the FOURTH time in this match! Taker actually kicks Angle off again, slips out of an ANGLE SLAM, and applies a Dragon Sleeper! Angle pounds his way out of it and drops Taker with a DDT for 1-2-NO! Angle goes for it all with a picture-perfect MOONSAULT, but there’s no water in the pool! ZOMBIE SIT-UP! Taker hits the TOMBSTONE and just as he covers Angle, Mark Henry and Daivari hop in the ring and begin their attack for the DQ. (28:42) Crowd is pissed off at the ending, and I can’t say I blame them. How are you going to give us a near 30-minute classic and end it on a DQ? Henry kicks Taker out to the floor and splashes him through the announce table to get their WrestleMania feud-a-roasting. This was equally as good, if not better than their No Way Out match by showcasing some different moves than what was done before. It was nearing ****¾ territory in my eyes up until that utterly terrible finish, and I have no choice but to subtract a ½* away from it. However, horrible finish aside, it’s still the best free TV match of the year. ****¼

2. Okay, so before, I gave this the nod for match of the year, but then I popped in No Way Out one day and my mind was changed. I loved how the Cena/Edge feud came to this; Edge being topped in his own specialty match. What better way to dethrone the champ? -

WWE Champion Edge vs. John Cena – TLC Match (Unforgiven 09.17.06)

If Edge wins, Cena signs a three-year deal with Smackdown. If Cena wins, he becomes the three-time WWE Champion alongside Mick Foley and Brock Lesnar. In case you didn’t know, this is also Edge’s hometown so the crowd is very pro-Edge. Also, JR goofs up again by saying Edge (and Edge has said as well) has never lost in a TLC match. I vaguely remember a TLC match on Smackdown five years ago that Edge and Christian lost which included Benoit, Jericho, the Hardys and the Dudleys. Actually, I remember it VERY well. Why does everyone seem to forget about that match? We start off with Cena working a headlock while breaking the hold and getting in three shoulderblocks. Cena runs the ropes and Edge catches Cena with a slap to the face. Cena takes him down and pounds away, but then he ducks low off a whip and takes a swinging neckbreaker from Edge. They go to the floor where Edge tries to Cena’s head off with a steel chair, but he misses and Cena takes him back into the ring for the Protoplex. Edge avoids a charge and then delivers the Edgecution. Edge goes out and brings two chairs into the ring and then sets up facing each other. Edge tries to suplex Cena on the chairs, but he counters and tries for the suplex. Edge flips out and drops Cena with an inverted DDT on the chairs! Edge brings one of the shorter ladders into the ring and goes for the belt, but Cena gets back up and shoves the ladder over. Edge lands on his feet and charges at Cena with a clothesline. While Cena is draped across the middle ropes, Edge goes out to the floor and slams a ladder in his face. Edge follows up and comes off the security wall and missile dropkicks the ladder into Cena! Edge gets back in and tries to ram Cena with the ladder, but he moves and hits the corner. Cena comes back with rights and then hiptosses Edge onto the propped up ladder in the corner. Cena sees there’s two tables set up beside one another and grabs Edge so he can FU him through the tables, but Edge grabs the ropes and lands on the apron. Cena wins a slugfest and comes off the ropes, but gets nailed with a forearm. Edge goes up top and gets crotched to disable him long enough for Cena to bring a table into the ring. He sets it up in the ring and then tries to superplex Edge through it. Edge is able to hammer his way out for a sunset flip powerbomb, but Cena puts the brakes on the hold for our first real botched spot of the match. The crowd is a little disappointed to say the least. They improvise with Edge giving Cena a powerslam through the table. “Cena sucks!” chant go up as the ref gets the table out of the ring. Cena is out on the floor, so Edge runs up the ladder that’s still propped up in the corner and dives out onto Cena! Edge tosses Cena back in and brings two chairs in the ring with him. He levels Cena on the mat with a chair shot and then sets up for the one-man Conchairto, but Cena trips Edge up once he goes for the fatal swing. Cena hits the Throwback (running flip neckbreaker) on the chair! He then picks up the ladder and sandwiches Edge in between the ladder and applies the STFU! JR tries to convince us that Cena is a TOUGH SONUVAGUN for doing what he just did. Cena releases the hold and then rams the ladder into Edge’s face. He lifts the ladder up onto his shoulders and FU’s the ladder on Edge! Sure, why not. Cena sets the ladder up in the corner and then delivers a Protobomb to set up the Five Knuckle Shuffle from the ladder! Lawler ~ “I love a good fist drop, JR.” Cena goes out to the floor and brings another table into the ring, but then turns around in a WONDERFUL chairshot. I mean, that baby was nice. Cena is OUT. Haha, Edge starts to get cocky and bobbles his head as the crowd cheers! Edge sets Cena on a table and then goes out and brings another table into the ring, which he sets up on TOP of the table Cena is laid out on! Edge goes up top, but then Cena gets up and knocks Edge out onto the security wall. Cena goes out to the floor and pulls out one of those 16-foot ladders which will make it harder to climb, but a lot easier to grab the belt. I can’t let you forget about the ladder that was set up in the corner about five minutes ago because Edge is climbing it as we speak. He comes off of it and spears Cena off the big ladder to save his title! Not a perfect spear, but it worked. Edge begins to climb the big ladder, but then realizes Cena is up and dives out on top of him. Cena catches him and lifts Edge up into the FU position. He gets too close to the ladder, allowing Edge to climb off of Cena and onto the ladder. Cena stops him and powerbombs Edge into the smaller standing ladder. Yikes, that could’ve been disastrous. Edge falls out to the floor to rest, but Cena follows him out and has a steel chair in hand. Edge rises and Cena connects with a very, very weak chairshot. Cena rolls back in the ring and seems to be disappointed in himself. Cena begins to climb the 16-foot ladder to regain his title, but Lita comes down and turns the ladder over to send Cena through a table out on the floor ala Matt Hardy at SummerSlam 2000. The only difference was the table was horizontal instead of vertical like at SummerSlam. I’m proud of you, John. Edge finally starts to get up to his feet on the other side of the ring. Edge crawls in the ring and sets the ladder up underneath the belt as somehow Cena is back in the ring. Lita grabs a chair in the ring and nails Cena in the back with it, causing him to fall into the ladder and send Edge crashing through a table on the entrance ramp. OUCH! That looked like it hurt worse than Cena’s bump. Lita gets an FU to put her out of the match. The top table from the double-stack in the ring fell down because of the ring bounce from the FU, so Cena sets it back up because it’s very vital to the finish. Cena sets the ladder back up and begins to climb, and Edge has unbelievably made it back into the ring. He starts to climb the opposite side of the ladder to try and knock the challenger off, but Cena lifts him up on his shoulders for the FU off the ladder and through the double-stack of tables! The finish is academic as Cena easily grabs the belt to regain his championship! (25:29) That was one AMAZING match and possibly my favorite WWE TLC match. With a few minor obvious botches, it wasn’t perfect so I can’t give it the full five stars. ****¼

And now, to no one’s surprise, the #1 WWE match of 2006!

1. Absolutely tremendous match from bell-to-bell. It legitimized Kurt Angle’s title reign and proved that Undertaker could still go with someone talented. It’s no doubt the all-around best match WWE could muster up in 2006. After a couple more viewings, I boosted the rating up another ½*. -

World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle vs. Undertaker – (No Way Out 02.19.06)

Taker goes right after Angle, but Angle is able to dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge him to start. Angle pisses off Taker by shoving him in the back, so Taker goes crazy on him. Angle rolls out of the ring to avoid ALL of that. Back in, Taker works over Angle’s arm and shoulder for a good while. Taker goes for Old School, but Angle nails him in the face to put a stop to it. Taker counters a whip out of the corner into an arm whip. He goes for Old School again and this time it works. Taker hits the Snake Eyes, but Angle ducks the big boot and catches Taker for a German suplex. Angle punishes Taker in the corner with stomps and shoulder blocks. Taker counters a whip into the far side corner and follows in with a running knee to the face. Taker charges again, but Angle ducks out of the way. Taker gets knocked off the apron onto the barricade. Angle sends Taker face-first into the steel steps, but then Angle is caught coming off the apron and then driven spine-first into the ringpost. Taker sets Angle on the apron and delivers a legdrop across the throat. Back in, Taker goes for a chokeslam but Angle kicks him away. Now Angle goes after Taker’s left knee. He posts his knee a couple times and then applies the ringpost figure-four. Back in, Angle stomps away on Taker’s knee and then goes all Ric Flair on Taker by splashing his knee against the ropes. Taker tosses Angle to the floor out of desperation. Taker sets Angle up on the apron again for another legdrop, but Angle counters it with an ANKLELOCK out on the floor! Angle goes in to break the count and then comes back out to apply the hold once again. Back in, Angle applies a legbar but Taker kicks out of it. Angle comes back with a double-leg takedown, but Taker counters that with a TRIANGLE CHOKE! Angle makes the ropes. Angle rolls out to the floor to try and rejuvenate himself. Taker goes out after him and attacks him out on the floor. He even tosses him into Tony Chimel! That guy has had a rough night! Tazz ~ “Better Chimel than us.” Weren’t you a wrestler once? Geez. Taker sets up the Cole/Tazz announce table, but Angle catches Taker and drives him through the SAT with an ANGLESLAM! Angle cusses ref Nick Patrick out for trying to count out the Undertaker. Angle rocks your face off. He goes back out to the floor and pounds on Taker, but then gets whipped into the steel steps. Back in, Taker goes up top possibly for his flying clothesline, but Angle pops up and tries a superplex. Angle gets knocked back down to the mat, but then he comes back up and delivers a SUPER BELLY-TO-BELLY THROW. Angle covers for two. Angle comes off the ropes, but runs into a boot for two. Taker goes for the chokeslam, but Angle rolls through into the ANKLELOCK! Taker pulls Angle into the TRIANGLE CHOKE! Angle counters THAT into another ANKLELOCK! Taker rolls Angle off of him and then gives Angle a CHOKESLAM! That gets a near-fall! Now it’s time for the LAST RIDE! Or is it? Angle rolls out of that into another ANKLELOCK! Taker kicks him off again, but swings his way into an ANGLESLAM! Angle covers, but it only gets two. Angle can’t believe it! He pulls down the straps so he can finally get serious! They trade blows. Angle comes off the ropes and Taker catches him for the TOMBSTONE! Angle reverses it into a Tombstone of his own. Taker reverses it again but Angle rolls down into the ANKLELOCK! Angle grapevines the leg! OH SNAP! Taker rolls over so that he’s able to kick Angle repeatedly in the face to get him off of him. Both men back up, Angle delivers ANOTHER ANGLESLAM! Angle tries a rollup of sorts, but Taker pulls him in the TRIANGLE CHOKE again! Kurt looks like he’s going to pass out! The arm falls twice but on the third time, Angle flips over into a pinning predicament with Taker’s shoulders down on the mat for the three-count! ANGLE RETAINS! (29:48) Tazz tries to say that since Taker was the aggressor that his shoulders shouldn’t have been counted. Well, if they want to say that it was a controversial finish for the REMATCH on Smackdown, then that’s cool with me! Taker is another guy that can have great matches with great competitors, and Angle is capable of having a great match with just about anybody. Add these two together and you’ve got an excellent match. I would say that this was definitely Taker’s best non-gimmicked match since 1997; bar none. I would also go as far as to say that this is Angle’s greatest successful PPV title defense outside of Angle/Benoit at the Rumble 2003. ****½

So there you have it, ten of WWE’s best matches of 2006. I wonder how many more times I can say in some fashion, “Best WWE matches of 2006”. I’m working on the finishing touches on my “The Best of 2006: The Superstars” column as well, so be on the lookout! Until then, have a happy New Year!

wordpress stats plugin