Counterfeit Pennies: “We Want Benoit” and Other Vengeance Observations

Last night in what was a game time decision, my friends and I decided to run with ordering the WWE Vengeance PPV for several reasons. We were all interested in seeing how Mick Foley would stack up against the rest of the fray in the WWE Championship Challenge. We were curious to see the continuation (or would it be the culmination?) of the compelling tag team angle between the Hardys and Cade & Murdoch. And the two of us (out of four) who watch SmackDown! on a regular basis were wondering which upstart tag team just might get a shot against Deuce & Domino.

With all of that said, the single biggest reason that we all wanted to tune into Vengeance was to see which direction WWE would go in what we thought would be a can’t-miss ECW Championship match. We all figured that whether it was C.M. Punk or Chris Benoit, the ECW Champion would finally be someone that we all could really rally behind, not because both wrestlers are baby faces, but because both wrestlers were, well, WRESTLERS. Our collective opinion before the PPV began was that Punk could give ECW the fresh face at the top that they desperately need to reel in more viewers, or, conversely, that Benoit could bring stability back to the struggling brand by injecting instant credibility back into the show’s only championship.

Much to our surprise, Chris Benoit was unable to compete last night due to a family emergency. My problem here is obviously not with Benoit, who works as hard as anyone, but rather with the decision to put Johnny Nitro in the Rabid Wolverine’s place. To me, that’s like ordering an exquisite Filet Mignon Sandwich and receiving Steakum on a Bun in return. The live crowd must have felt the same way, considering the fact that they angrily chanted “We Want Benoit!” with the type of exuberance WWE only wants to hear when it suits their interests.

Of course, the optimistic side of me thought that it was now a foregone conclusion that C.M. Punk would get his first real shot at the big-time, as he would easily get a pin over Nitro. However, in typical sports entertainment fashion, the victory and the ECW Championship went to the other guy instead of the better wrestler, and once that happened all enthusiasm in the room instantaneously evaporated.

My inclination had I been in the same situation would have been to give the fans C.M. Punk vs. Tommy Dreamer. The match would still have featured Punk vs. an ECW Original, and Tommy has enough passion and credibility with the fans that he could have helped temper the loss of Benoit. Also, the outcome would have been much more satisfying knowing that the winner was either going to be celebrating his first huge title in the case of Punk, or one last hurrah in the case of Dreamer.

As far as the other storylines that we found interesting before the PPV began, here’s the rundown of what actually happened to irritate us even more, along with other observations:

On Mick Foley and the Championship Challenge Match: After all of the hype and hoopla, the official running time for this match just did not seem very long at all. Mick had a decent showing and looks to be in much better shape than he has been in years, but he really didn’t add much to this lackluster main event. The best move of the match was Orton’s RKO out of NOWHERE on Cena, which was one of the only times I marked out last night. I think we all expected Cena to win since WWE probably wants to get him to Summerslam as the Champ.

On The Hardys vs. Cade & Murdoch: Decent match to start the night. By now we all knew that The Hardys music would be the first to play, as the stats on that are STAGGERING. I thought this was probably the final match between the two for a while, as it looks like Cade & Murdoch are going to have a run-in with London & Kendrick back on Raw. If this really was the last match for The Hardys for now, I can only HOPE that Matt Hardy will get a title shot against Edge at the Great American Bash now that Batista is out of the picture.

On Deuce & Domino vs. Sgt. Slaughter and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka: Wow. Snuka looked like Mr. Miagi in The Next Karate Kid in the sense that he was functioning at about 10 % capacity. The best comic relief came when Slaughter made the “hot tag” to Snuka, and Snuka could barely get back into the ring! On a sadder note, I thought it was pretty crass for Deuce & Domino to tell Garea and Martel that 1) they didn’t know they were still alive; and 2) they are on borrowed time. Seriously, is it really wise to say anything of that nature to any ex-wrestler? I will admit that it would have been cool if Martel unleashed “Arrogance” on them after the match ended.

On Umaga and Crowd Reaction: Did anyone else notice the HUGE pop that Umaga got last night vs. Santino Morella? It just goes to show you can never really predict what will happen in terms of fan reaction on any given night. I thought WWE lost out on a chance to give Umaga an even bigger boost when the crowd chanted “One More Time!” because they wanted him to deliver a second Samoan Spike on Morella. I actually have come to like Umaga over the past few months, and his match against Cena still stands out as one of the best between two big men in the past couple of years.

As you can see, WWE Vengeance was definitely not as intriguing as we thought it would be. It even got to the point where I showed my friends snippets of last week’s TNA Impact, which they found to be more interesting than this PPV. In fact, the chances are about 60-40 that we’ll probably pass on the Great American Bash and go with Victory Road in July.

Around the Pulse

Check out Steve Murray’s Vengeance Recap to get the full rundown of results and other happenings surrounding last night’s PPV.

Take a look at the Vengeance Rasslin’ Roundtable compiled by Danny Cox to see just how well (or not so well) the expert prognosticators here at Pulse Wrestling fared last night.

Lastly, I implore all of you take a few minutes to read and absorb Mark Allen’s poignant, well-crafted gem of a tribute: Historically Speaking: Simply Sensational. She certainly was, Mark, she certainly was

That’s all for this week – CB.

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