Welcome to PWInsider.com's coverage of the 2008 Armageddon PPV, live from Buffalo, NY.
ECW champ Matt Hardy vs. Vladimir Kozlov (non-title)
They explained it was a personal issue and not for the title since Kozlov has never competed in an ECW ring. The fans chanted USA and Hardy's name early. Kozlov took over early with his power. Hardy pulled himself out of a move and tried for several pinfall attempts. Kozlov cut him off, throwing Hardy shoulder-first into the ringpost. He continued the assault on Hardy's shoulder with a series of headbutts to the shoulder and then a judo takedown into a keylock. Hardy tried to fight out but Kozlov caught him with a Fireman's Carry and then cinched in the keylock again. Hardy used several kicks to try and break free, but Kozlov powered him back to the mat. Kozlov nailed a DDT and went back to the keylock.
Hardy mounted a comeback with a high cross bodyblock off the apron to the floor and then the Side Effect but Kozlov kicked up. Hardy's attempt at the Twist of Fate was shoved off. Hardy came off the middle turnbuckle but was caught with a clothesline for a two count. Hardy kicked up and fought his way back into offense. He caught Kozlov in the corner with a series of punches but was shoved off. Hardy's face hit the metal that connects the turnbuckle to the ringpost. Dazed, Hardy was nailed by a chokeslam into a spinebuster for the pin.
Your winner, Vladimir Kozlov!
Hardy worked really hard to carry Kozlov.
Backstage, WWE champ Edge, Vickie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero were watching the monitor. Edge noted that it's fitting that happened to Matt after his accusations and Vickie said it was karma. Edge left to get ready for his match. Chavo asked Vickie how they took out Jeff Hardy the night before Survivor Series. Guerrero got insulted and said she already told him they had nothing to do with it. She told Chavo to go get her a coffee and reiterated there was nothing to tell and they weren't involved.
Tonight's Text messaging gimmick is for fans to vote if Edge, Triple H, Kozlov or other attacked Jeff Hardy last night.
Backstage, Hornswoggle was messing with Eve Torres. Finlay apologized, but Hornswoggle hit her in the rear with the plastic shillelagh. Finlay asked his son to stay backstage so he could make sure he was safe tonight. Hornswoggle looked heartbroken.
WWE Intercontinental champ William Regal and Layla were introduced and sat at ringside for the tournament final, which Lilian Garcia erroneously called the "Intercontinental championship tournament final."
Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk for a WWE Intercontinental championship shot.
As Punk came to the ring, they showed still photos of the Miz and Morrison winning the Tag Team titles last night in Hamilton, Ontario. I wish WWE had used the title shot to put over that you "never know" when something might happen, which is why every live event is important, but they missed the chance.
Punk and Rey shook hands at the bell. This is their first-ever singles bout, although they did face off in a Three-Way with the late Eddie Guerrero for IWA Mid-South in 2002. The announcers noted that Rey's arm wasn't taped up. They did some nice chain wrestling early. Punk shoulderblocked Rey down but Rey caught him in a pinfall combination for a two count. Rey set up Punk for the 619 but Punk caught him with an armdrag. Punk went for the GTS but Rey hit a Lucha style armdrag to escape. Punk sent Rey to the outside with a backdrop in front of Regal, then hit a dive to the floor.
Back inside the ring, Punk continued to work over Mysterio's back with body scissors. The announcers were really putting over the importance of the IC title. Punk began nailing roundhouse kicks on Rey. Rey caught him with a shoulderblock from the outside of the ring. He went to go to the top but Punk crotched him. While Rey was tied to the tree of woe, Punk caught him with several knees to the back. Rey moved and Punk hit the turnbuckles. Rey hit a moonsault press from the top for a two count.
Punk came back with a scoop powerslam for a two count. Punk locked on a Crowbar submission, going after Mysterio's arm and wrist based on when he "hurt" it while facing off with Mike Knox in the aisle a few weeks back. Rey tried to go for the ropes but Punk turned it into a crossface. Rey finally made it to the ropes, forcing a break. Mysterio comes back with a headscissors takedown, locking Punk into an armbar submission. Punk finally made it to the ropes.
Rey went to the apron as Punk recovered. He nailed a shoulderblock, then a missile dropkick. It knocked Punk out of the ring to the floor. Rey went to the top and nailed a dive off the turnbuckles to the floor. Mysterio hit a springboard Thesz Press. Michael Cole called it a senton. Someone should slap him every time he mis-calls a move. That would be worth $40.
Punk and Rey began battling in the middle of the ring. Punk missed the high knee. Rey charged but was caught and sent flying into the corner. Punk hit the high knee into the bulldog for a two count. They showed Regal believing it was the finish. The crowd was all over Regal, which sort of hurt the heat of the match. Mysterio caught Punk out of nowhere with a rollup, but Punk kicked up at the last second.
Mysterio missed the 619. Punk went for the GTS but Rey caught him with a hurancanrana. Punk landed in the ropes and Rey hit the 619. Punk avoided a springboard splash. Punk went to grab Rey but was caught with a crucifix for a two count. Rey caught Punk with a knee. Rey dove off the top for a rana but was caught on his shoulders. Punk maneuvered it into a GTS and scored the clean pin.
Your winner and top contender for the Intercontinental championship, CM Punk!
Really strong stuff here. The last few minutes was really good.
They said it appeared Punk may have broken Rey Mysterio's nose on the GTS and based on the replay and how it was bleeding, I wouldn't be shocked. Punk (who was cut on the nose as well) and Rey embraced. Regal applauded their efforts and smiled at Punk. Punk promised to nail him with the GTS.
The announcers really put over the legacy of the IC belt, so hopefully the company is serious about rehabbing the title.
Jeff Hardy cut a promo in a dark, secluded area. He said the last year, he was forced to look inward and ask himself if he was ready to change. He said it's easy to say Hardy is a screw-up who is ready to mess up again. He said that they were scared to see he was just human. He said that everyone tried to break him but Hardy promised he broke his own walls down. Hardy said he would answer all the questions about whether he has what it takes and if he's ready to change. He promised he is who is, Jeff Hardy, WWE champion. It was a really good promo.
Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler noted it's been a rough year for Hardy and also for Shawn Michaels. We went to a video feature on the JBL vs. Michaels feud. How about we do this on a show I don't pay $40 for and instead give the undercard another 5-7 minutes to wrestle?
JBL came to the ring and said he'd like to introduce everyone to his newest employee Shawn Michaels. Michaels made his way to the ring, looking somber. Michaels took the mic and said the economy has hit "all of us hard" and he wasn't immune. Michaels said that he's heard everyone say that he was rich and a WWE Superstar on TV, so how could this happen to him? Michaels said he wishes that was true but when he came into money in his 20s, he spent big on houses, motorcycles and helped every High School friend who asked for it. He said when he hit his 30s, he paid for all of his surgeries himself because he didn't want to ask for a handout and be beholden to any one person or company. He said when he met his wife, he turned his life around and married her. He hired an investment firm to invest his money in the stock market and he gave to his churches and everyone who needed it, but then the bottom fell out. Michaels said that if it was 20 years ago, he wouldn't worry about it but the reality is, he doesn't know how much time he has left in the ring, but his family and relatives depend on him.
He said that is why he took JBL up on his offer. Michaels said he doesn't like JBL as he's smug, a bully and he finds him reprehensible, but "the man is very good financially and that's what I need right now." Michaels said he will put his kids through college and he won't allow his brother and sister to lose their houses. Michaels said everyone hears the stories about guys bragging groceries or limping into High School gyms, but he's not going to be a wrestling tragedy. Michaels said that if being considered a sellout is the price he has to pay, then so be it. He looked to be on the verge of tears. The crowd indeed chanted that he did. Michaels said that it wasn't something he wanted to do, but something he has to do.
JBL offered Michaels his hand and Michaels, after pausing, took it and shook it. JBL walked out of the ring as Michaels stood there looking like a broken man. It was a hell of a segment. Someone in WWE obviously saw "The Wrestler" and liked it, because they positioned it that Michaels basically didn't want to end up like Randy the Ram in the film, so he made a deal with the devil. I don't think anyone but Michaels could pull this one off.