Vintage Vault “Pre-Viewing of Punk”: December to Dismember 2006


The Big Show vs. Rob Van Dam vs. CM Punk vs. Test vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Hardcore Holly in an Extreme Elimination Chamber match for the ECW Championship

As I mentioned back at the Survivor Series, CM Punk has been incredibly over with the crowd on ECW and was quickly becoming one of their top faces. It was also pretty well-known that he had a good relationship with Paul Heyman dating back to their time in OVW when Heyman was booking down there. However, the fall of 2006 was becoming a pretty tumultuous time for ECW as Heyman was continuing to lose influence in the brand and was becoming more disenfranchised as the days went on. With the recent addition of Bobby Lashley to ECW and the WWE’s commitment to make him the top face on ECW, their relationship with Heyman was nearing the breaking point. As ECW prepared for their first brand-specific PPV, it would be interesting to see if things can turn around or if this would potentially the final nail in the coffin between Paul Heyman and ECW, and it would be interesting to see how Punk would be affected by that with his main ally gone.

The build to this match has been building since the summer when Heyman and Show screwed RVD out of the ECW Title and RVD has been demanding his rematch with Heyman continuously putting the screws to him. Heyman would continue to build a stable to protect Show which included his own personal security guards, the returning Test, and eventually Hardcore Holly. On the 10/17 ECW, RVD would defeat Show in a non-title match to earn a future title shot and then on 10/24, RVD again defeated Show in a ladder match to earn the right to choose the date for the title match. The next week, Heyman announced that RVD chose to face Show at December to Dismember though he would again screw RVD over by announcing that it will be an Extreme Elimination Chamber match. That same night, Sabu would defeat Kevin Thorn to qualify for the match and a week later, CM Punk would defeat Mike Knox and Test defeated Tommy Dreamer to qualify. Later that night, Holly would officially turn heel and attacked RVD during a match, allying with Heyman as it was insinuated that he joined Heyman to take the 6th spot in the match. On 11/14, Heyman had the contract for the 6th spot ready for Holly to sign only for Lashley to attack Holly in the back, and he would come out and sign the contract to take the final spot. Later that night, Lashley would defeat Holly by DQ when Heyman’s crew got involved only for RVD, Sabu, and Punk to make the save. On 11/21, Punk would defeat Kevin Thorn in a match to build momentum and the next week, he would wrestle Test to a double countout while RVD defeated Sabu and Lashley defeated Show only for Show and Test to leave Lashley laid out after the match. It is a bit weird that the build went from Show/RVD to this where it was clear that Lashley was now being pushed as the top face, and given the health of Show by this point it was certain he would finally lose the title to somebody at this show.

Earlier in the night, we saw RVD and Punk mentally preparing for the match though later we saw Sabu laid out in the back and he was taken away on a stretcher while Heyman looked on. Later that night, Heyman would run into Hardcore Holly in the locker room and offered him Sabu’s spot in the match which Holly accepted. Needless to say, the crowd was pissed off with that decision as it seemed like this match was tailored made for someone like Sabu. Heyman then comes out to the ring with his personal security and gives a really good speech to hype the match, and he was still really top notch even though he was clearly starting to check out. The chamber is lowered as we see the weapons in the pods and Show comes out first, taking the pod with the barbed wire baseball bat and it is clear that he is not looking good and needs a long break. Punk comes out next to a big pop and enters the pod with the chair, followed by Test who was pretty hot as a heel and he takes the pod with the crowbar and finally, Lashley comes out to a decent pop and enters the last pod with the table. RVD comes out next to a big pop and Holly comes out last to decent heat and a key note is Show, Test, and Holly seemingly on the same page which Tazz continues to harp on at commentary.

RVD and Holly start the match and they lock up with Holly going behind RVD only for RVD to turn it around, but Holly hits a back elbow and he pounds on RVD. RVD catches Holly ducking with a kick and hits a clothesline only for Holly to come back with his own clothesline, and he pounds on RVD before stomping on him in the corner. RVD battles back only for Holly to reverse a whip and send RVD over the top onto the steel grate, and then he hotshots RVD on the top rope only for RVD to block a ram into the buckle and he hits a kick to the face. RVD goes up top and dives at Holly who moves only for RVD to land on the chains in a cool spot, but he misses a reverse crossbody and hotshots himself on the top rope. The crowd chants “ECW” as Holly hits a slam onto the grate before ramming RVD into the chains, and then he slams RVD onto the grate again before going up top only for RVD to catch him with a boot to the face. RVD rolls back into the ring and hits a modified Rolling Thunder by leaping over the top rope and landing on Holly in a great spot, but Holly blocks a suplex onto the grate and he suplexes RVD over the top into the ring for a two count. The two men trade blows on their knees until RVD hits a low dropkick only for Holly to get a kick in, and he hits a dropkick for a two count as the crowd chants for Punk and the time to the next entrant expires. Punk enters next with the chair to a huge pop and he tosses the chair in Holly’s face, and then he hits a springboard clothesline on RVD as the crowd chants for him and he tosses it at RVD only for RVD to catch him and toss it at Punk’s head. RVD sets the chair down and hits a rolling monkey flip that sends Punk onto the chair, but Punk grabs the chair and avoids the spin kick and a legsweep before hitting a jumping legdrop that drives RVD’s head into the chair which busts him open over the eye. Punk hits a springboard dropkick on Holly and then he wedges the chair in the corner, and he pounds on RVD before sending him head first into the chair. Punk snaps the chair around RVD’s neck in a nasty spot before going up top only for Holly to catch him on a hurricanrana attempt, and he whips Punk into the chains in another nasty spot for a two count. Holly throws Punk back into the ring and stomps on him as the crowd chants for Punk, and Holly hits a sidewalk slam for a two count and then he hoists Punk up and drops him stomach first onto the top rope. He kicks Punk into the chains and stomps on RVD before tossing Punk back into the ring, and he puts Punk on the top rope and pounds on him before going up himself and hitting a superplex. RVD goes for the pin and gets a two count and then Holly goes for the pin on Punk and gets a two count, and the crowd chants for RVD as Punk reverses a whip into the corner and hits the running knee on Holly only for RVD to catch him with a superkick. The time expires and Test enters next with the crowbar as he nails Punk with the crowbar, and he digs the crowbar into the cut on RVD in a wicked spot before stomping on him. He goes out of the ring and chokes Punk with the crowbar while bending him across the top rope, but Punk hotshots Test on the top rope as RVD hits a pair of clotheslines and a superkick on Holly. He grabs the chair and nails Test and Holly in the head with it before hitting the Van Daminator on Punk in the corner, RVD then goes up top and hits the 5-Star Frog Splash on Punk, getting the three and eliminating Punk which the crowd is not too happy about. This was a very interesting decision to have Punk get knocked out first and as mentioned, the crowd did not like this and I will delve further into this at the end of the match.

Test gets in the ring and measures RVD only to nail the big boot on Holly, getting the three and eliminating Holly though the ref doesn’t hit the mat three times so he clearly botched the elimination. RVD goes up top and hits a flying kick on Test before going up top again, and he flips Show off before climbing to the top of his pod as Show reaches through the chains and grabs his leg. Test goes up top with the chair and nails RVD with it twice before tossing him off the pod to the mat, and he puts the chair on RVD’s face before going up to the top of the pod and hitting the diving elbow in a great spot, getting the three and eliminating RVD which again pisses the crowd off. I have to say that even though he was clearly not looking right in terms of his body, Test has really looked impressive since returning and it was clear that he was being looked at as a top heel for the brand. He looks strong here by getting two eliminations and I give him props for taking that dive off the top of the pod, something you wouldn’t think a guy of his size would willingly do. Test takes the remaining two minutes by himself to recover from that bump and grabs the crowbar as the time expires and Lashley is set to enter next, but then the security guards knock the ref down and hold the door shut so Lashley can’t get out. Test taunts Lashley as he tries to figure a way out and then he grabs the table and rams it through the chains, busting a hole through the roof and he climbs out onto the top of the pod. Test goes up top only for Lashley to kick him to the mat and then he hits a clothesline off the top, and Test rolls onto the grate as Lashley follows him and pounds on him before whipping him into the pod which busts the glass open. Lashley whips Test into the other pod and pulls him back into the ring before ramming him into the buckle, and he pounds on Test until Test rakes the eyes and he pounds on Lashley. He chokes Lashley in the corner with his boot before grabbing the chair only for Lashley to kick the chair back in Test’s face, and he hits a pair of clotheslines and a suplex on Test. Lashley grabs the crowbar as Test grabs the chair and Lashley avoids the chair before nailing Test with the crowbar, and then he hits the Spear which gets the three and Test is eliminated. So we come down to the match that they pretty much wanted at the end of the day, and on paper this would be a pretty cool matchup if Show wasn’t as bloated and unhealthy as he was at the moment. Lashley grabs the table from his pod and throws it down as Show gets some tips from Heyman, and Lashley throws the table and chair into Show’s pod as the time winds down. Lashley grabs the chair and awaits Show as the time expires and Show leaves the pod with the barbed wire bat, and Show enters the ring and swings the bat repeatedly at Lashley who uses the chair to block it. Lashley rolls out of the ring and Show follows him and swings the bat again, but Lashley ducks and the bat gets caught in the chains as Lashley nails Show with the chair and pounds on him. He rams Show twice into the chains which busts him open and then he throws Show through the pod in a great spot, and he pounds on Show who busts himself through the other side of the pod. Lashley kicks at Show and pounds on him only for Show to toss Lashley over the top back into the ring, and Show hits a clothesline before setting up for the Chokeslam only for Lashley to escape with a DDT. Lashley pounds on Show only for Show to shove him into the corner, but he misses a charge only to catch Lashley on a crossbody attempt and he sets up for a running powerslam only for Lashley to escape and he hits the Spear, getting the three and we have a new champion.

I actually liked the match a lot more than most other people do as all six men worked hard and put on a solid Chamber match, though it was clearly a step down from previous Chambers. I thought all six men beat the crap out of each other and it was cool to have weapons involved, though what would’ve been cooler is having the weapons attached to the walls instead of in the pods thus limiting it to only four. I thought the choice of weapons was good as you had the reliable chair and table while the crowbar and bat were unique options even though the bat was never used at all. I thought RVD and Test had a good showing here as RVD lasts a while even with the nasty cut over his eye while Test looked strong too, and I’ve liked Test’s run since returning even though he was completely misshapen. As for the finish, I don’t mind Show losing because it was clear that he needed to get away and heal up, and he does the right thing here by putting Lashley over strong. I didn’t have a big problem with Lashley winning as he was clearly being set up as the top face on ECW, and as mentioned a Lashley/Show feud would’ve been pretty cool if Show was healthy. Now as for Punk and how he looked, this was an interesting thing because according to rumor he was the one chosen by Heyman to win the match and the title. He clearly belonged in the match since he was one of the most over guys on the brand, but at the same time they wanted Lashley as the top guy so Punk had to be sacrificed here though they were smart to have RVD eliminate him in the match. An interesting comparison I have for this is when RVD was in the main event at No Mercy 2001 and how they should’ve pulled the trigger on him there when he was at his peak. Obviously looking ahead, they didn’t wait as long to pull the trigger on Punk while they did RVD, but one has to wonder if having Punk lose here hurt his heat in the long run. It’s a catch-22 because I feel you have to have him in the match, but if you have him in there he either has to win or make it to the end. If they didn’t want to job him here, don’t put him in the match and have him go over Mike Knox again to blow that off since that feud pretty much faded away following Survivor Series. Again, it’s probably not a major issue that Punk didn’t win here, but it will be interesting to track and see how things turn out for Punk now that his biggest supported in Heyman will be gone. I thought the crowd was hot for the earlier parts though they did quickly die off after Punk and RVD got eliminated, but they did give Lashley a nice pop for winning the match. Lashley finally ends the reign of terror by Show and Heyman and is the new ECW Champion, and we will see what 2007 has in store for the enigma that is CM Punk.

Final Grade: ***1/2