Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: Armageddon 2006

Gregory Helms vs. Jimmy Wang Yang for the Cruiserweight Championship of the World

2006 has been a very interesting year for the WWE as the PPVs have been pretty decent with some great gems, but the TV has been very hit or miss for both RAW and Smackdown in addition to the recent backstage shakeup of ECW. However, one thing that has been very constant within Smackdown and that’s the greatness that was Gregory Helms. Since ditching the Hurricane at the end of 2005 and becoming the Cruiserweight Champion at the Royal Rumble, Helms has had a dominant run and made the Cruiserweight Title relevant again. Even though he spent most of the summer and fall feuding with Matt Hardy which hasn’t involved the title, he was still having successful defenses on TV though it seemed he was starting to run out of challengers. With the year coming to an end and 2007 about to begin, it would be interesting to see where Helms would go and if he could break out of the Cruiserweight Division and move up the card. On the flip side, Jimmy Wang Yang seemed like a guy that was getting a decent push and it looked like that he could potentially be the one to finally end Helms’ reign at just under a year.

The build to this match began on the 11/3 Smackdown when Helms defeated Yang in a non-title match after Sylvan interfered and the next week, Yang and Matt Hardy would defeat Helms and Sylvan in a tag match. On the 11/24 Smackdown, Helms again defeated Yang in a non-title match and then on 12/8, Yang would defeat Jamie Noble to become the Number One Contender for the Cruiserweight Title. 2 nights ago, Yang would team with Paul London and Brian Kendrick would defeat Helms, William Regal, and Dave Taylor in a 6-man tag when Yang pinned Helms. The build was pretty basic though it did seem weird that Yang didn’t win at least one of those non-title matches, but I guess they wanted to keep Helms strong and that Yang pinning Helms in the 6-man would show him as a threat to winning the title.

Both men don’t get much of a reaction from the crowd which was unfortunate, more so for Helms because he has done a great job as a heel for most of this year and while he was entertaining, Yang was a bit vanilla as a face. One note to make off the bat is JBL putting Helms over strong as “Smackdown’s best kept secret” while showing his disdain for Yang, though he does put over his talent in the ring and Cole was starting to get obnoxious with some of the characters and this was one example of that. The two men lock up to start with Yang backing Helms into the corner and Helms shoves him back as Yang returns the favor, and they lock up again with Yang going behind Helms only for Helms to turn it around. He takes Yang to the mat with a headlock and Yang escapes with a headscissors which Helms quickly escapes from, and Yang takes Helms to the mat with the headlock and Helms escapes with a headscissors that Yang kicks out of. The crowd finally wakes up a bit and shows appreciation for both men as they lock up with Helms backing Yang into the corner and he slaps him in the face, and Yang fires up on Helms and hits a back elbow before ramming Helms into the buckle. Yang goes up top and lands on his feet on a moonsault as Helms rolls outside to regroup, and Yang chases Helms into the ring and Helms stomps on Yang before choking him on the mat. Yang slides under Helms and hits a flying headscissors before hitting a dropkick and suplex on Helms for a two count, and Yang works on Helms’ arm before ramming the knee into Helms’ head. He whips Helms into the corner only to miss a spin kick and he sails over the top to the floor, and Helms hits a baseball slide that sends Yang into the barricade. Helms kicks at Yang and hits a swinging neckbreaker on the floor before throwing Yang back into the ring for a two count, and he chokes Yang in the ropes before hotshotting him on the top rope. The crowd to this point has been pretty quiet and whether you want to blame the matches they saw earlier or not, it was clear that the majority of them weren’t interested in this match.

Helms hits a snapmare and a legdrop on Yang before hooking a submission on as JBL continues to heap praise on Helms, and Yang fights out of the hold only for Helms to hit a stiff back elbow and he chokes Yang on the mat. Helms hits a modified backbreaker on Yang for a two count and he works the arm before pounding on Yang who tries to battle back, and Yang hooks the ropes to avoid the elbow and he backdrops Helms over the top to the floor. Yang goes up top and hits a crossbody onto Helms on the outside before tossing him back into the ring for a two count, but Helms counters a whip and again hotshots Yang on the top rope before choking him on the mat. Helms goes back to the submission on Yang who fights to his feet only for Helms to get a knee in and he attempts a sleeper only for Yang to escape and hook a rollup for a two count, and some in the crowd chant “boring” as JBL calls them out for being bloodthirsty. Helms gets a kick in and whips Yang into the corner only for Yang to fire back with a stiff clothesline, and JBL continues to rant on the crowd and he blames Teddy Long for causing it in some nice continuity. Yang starts to fire up on Helms and hits a flying forearm before hitting a clothesline and a backdrop on Helms, and he whips Helms into the corner and hits a spin kick before going up top and hitting a missile dropkick for a two count. Yang whips Helms into the corner only to miss a charge and he rams his shoulder into the post, and Helms goes up top while pulling Yang up with him and he hits a swinging neckbreaker off the top rope in a great spot. JBL continues his ranting on the fans as Helms goes up top only for Yang to catch him coming in with a spin kick for a two count as Helms starts bleeding from the mouth, and Yang whips Helms into the corner only for Helms to catch him with a back elbow. Helms puts Yang on the top rope and goes up himself only for Yang to knock him to the mat and he sets himself up, but he misses the corkscrew moonsault and Helms hits the facebuster which gets the three and he retains the title.

The match itself was pretty good as both men worked hard and put on a solid, if unspectacular title match. Helms was pretty much hitting his stride in the ring by this point and Yang was also very solid as well, and they meshed well here and put on a good 11-minute match. The only problem is that it was clear the crowd could not care less about the match and though they did get hot in a few points, they were pretty quiet and as mentioned they even chanted “boring” at some point. It sucks too because these two guys did put on a solid effort and tried to make the match big, but we were at the point that the Cruiserweight Championship was nothing more than filler despite the efforts of Helms to keep it relevant. The commentary is the key note of this match as JBL rips the crowd apart for being bloodthirsty and not respecting both men’s talent and efforts, and it got to the point that I thought it would lead somewhere with JBL maybe starting a campaign against Teddy Long though nothing came of it. Helms retains the title against a game challenge from Yang and both men move on as Helms looks to 2007.

Final Grade: ***