The End Is Here: Reliving WWE Armageddon's Greatest Moments
Friday is the end of the world. Or so you may have heard.
For World Wrestling Entertainment, the Armageddon pay-per-view not only used to usher in the end of the calendar year, it also featured matches and angles that would shape the course of its program as it entered onto the "Road to Wrestlemania."
Whether it was a major babyface-to-heel turn, championship win or end of a rivalry, at least one major happening at the December pay-per-view meant a great deal to the future of WWE programming.
These are some of the greatest moments in the history of the always-fun Armageddon pay-per-view.
Stephanie McMahon Betrays Her Father
Not the turn itself but a recap video
Heading into WWE Armageddon in 1999, Triple H had found countless ways of toying with the McMahon family. From tossing Shane off the SmackDown stage to being a general thorn in Vince's side at every turn, "The Game" would stop at nothing to get the upper hand in his personal vendetta against the owner of the then World Wrestling Federation.
Then, on one memorable November edition of Raw, Triple H interrupted the scheduled marriage between Vince's daughter Stephanie and Test. He revealed to the world that he had drugged the bride-to-be and married her at a drive-thru chapel in Las Vegas.
It was a tremendous angle that cemented Triple H's status as the top villain in the sport.
At Armageddon, Triple H would battle Vince in a street-fight main event that was the epitome of the Attitude Era. They fought around and outside the arena before making their way back to the squared circle for the finish.
Stephanie hopped the guardrail, held a sledgehammer overhead and prepared to hit her "husband" with it. But she could not bring herself to do it and handed the weapon over to her father. This gave Triple H a moment to capitalize on and he did so, eventually defeating Vince.
After the bout, Stephanie stepped between Triple H and her father and then, in a somewhat shocking moment, embraced "The Game." They would leave Vince bloody in the center of the ring, heading to Raw the following evening to begin what would become known as the "McMahon-Helmsley Era."
The on-screen relationship between the two would generate two years of television that would follow their ups and downs as a couple and create some of the most entertaining television in the company's history.
It would also lead to a real-life relationship that would result in marriage and "The Game" becoming a major power player behind the scenes.
Miss Kitty Bares Her...Kittens
Almost as notable as the Stephanie McMahon heel turn at the 1999 show was Miss Kitty capturing the Women's Championship in a "Fatal 4-Way Evening Gown Match" that took place inside a swimming pool.
You read that right.
Anyway, upon stripping Ivory to her unmentionables, Kitty celebrated her title win by stripping her own dress off and then shocking the world by removing her bra and revealing her breasts.
It was a shocking moment that had no real impact on the future of the company or the women's title, but it was one that is immediately associated with the Armageddon pay-per-view.
Six Superstars Enter Hell
In 2000, six WWE Superstars battled for the opportunity to become WWE Champion.
Kurt Angle had completed the greatest rookie season in wrestling history, capturing the WWE Championship and competing against the promotion's top stars.
In December, he would be charged with defending his title against five challengers inside the most hellacious structure known to professional wrestling: Hell in a Cell.
The Undertaker, Rikishi, The Rock, Steve Austin and Triple H had been intertwined with one another throughout 2000, and it was only fitting for them to settle their differences inside the popular structure.
It was a brutal, violent, bloody match that saw each competitor sacrifice their body in an attempt to capture the top prize in the sport.
In one of the most memorable moments of the bout, The Undertaker and Rikishi fought to the top of the cell while Mr. McMahon rode to the ring in a flatbed truck, the back of which had been filled with hay for some reason.
The Undertaker grabbed Rikishi around the throat and delivered a chokeslam to the big man, which sent him flying 20 feet off the cell and into the truck.
At the end of the night, Angle walked out of the cell with his championship in hand but without truly settling any of the issues between him and his opponents.
At No Way Out in February, he would drop the title to The Rock, while Triple H would end his yearlong rivalry with Steve Austin.
Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie Get (Even More) Personal
Throughout the fall of 2002, Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie were involved in a storyline that was eerily similar to what one may see on an afternoon soap opera.
For months, Dawn had played mind games with Torrie by targeting her father. The former ECW valet came on strongly to Al Wilson, and the two engaged in a romance that was incredibly awkward to watch play out.
Meanwhile, Torrie and Dawn feuded on the SmackDown brand, competing in a number of gimmick matches, including a "Trick or Treat" match and a "Pilgrim vs. Indian" costume contest.
In December, Dawn offered to leave Al alone if Torrie did as she demanded and showed up at an unidentified hotel. As SmackDown went off the air that week, we saw Torrie arrive at the room but nothing more. Then, just prior to Armageddon, Dawn Marie vowed to air the footage at the pay-per-view, just to further mess with her rival.
The footage featured Dawn taking advantage of Torrie's predicament, seemingly seducing her before engaging in a tantalizing kiss with her.
The story would go somewhat off-track between that moment and the on-screen marriage of Dawn Marie and Al Wilson. The footage meant nothing and, within a month, the Al Wilson character would be "killed off" and the feud would be over.
It was a moment that hammered home just how out-of-touch the company was in regard to what was and was not considered "racy."
Shawn Michaels and Triple H Face Three Stages of Hell
Highlights of the first fall
In 2002, Shawn Michaels made an improbable return to World Wrestling Entertainment following a four-year hiatus.
At SummerSlam, he and Triple H competed in a tremendous street fight, which was won by the Heartbreak Kid.
At Survivor Series, Michaels once again defeated his former best friend, this time inside the Elimination Chamber, which saw him capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
At Armageddon, they would look to (momentarily) settle their differences in a "Three Stages of Hell" match featuring three match types in one in a best 2-out-of-3 Falls match format.
The first fall would be a street fight, the second a steel-cage match, and the third a ladder match.
The competitors would split the first two falls before heading into the match type that Michaels helped make famous: the ladder match. The two vets continued to brutalize each other with the weapons around the ring, but it would be "The Game" winning back the world championship he had lost just a month earlier.
The match proved to even the biggest doubters that Michaels could return, still perform at a high level and engage in a match type that may be intimidating to a less-skilled performer.
Rise of the Viper
With his feud with Mick Foley gearing up for a run towards WrestleMania and beyond, Randy Orton entered the 2003 Armageddon event as the hottest heel in the business. His opponent at the show, Rob Van Dam, was the WWE Intercontinental Champion and suitable opposition for the young, inexperienced and cocky competitor.
With Foley as the referee, Orton proved capable of hanging with Van Dam, controlling a large portion of the match before flattening RVD with the RKO off the top rope and earning his first singles WWE title.
Orton would hold the WWE Intercontinental Championship for just under eight months, losing it the following July to Edge at Vengeance.
The feud with Foley would culminate at April's Backlash pay-per-view. Orton suffered a fall onto thumbtacks and repeated strikes about the body with barbed wire but still managed to pick up a hard-fought win over the hardcore legend, cementing himself as one of the future stars of the industry.
By the time SummerSlam 2004 passed, Orton would be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The victory over Van Dam and his first major title win would prove to be pivotal in his progression from green rookie to bona fide star.
Battle of the Sexes
The 2003 edition of Armageddon also featured the first-ever "Battle of the Sexes" as Trish Stratus and Lita teamed to meet Chris Jericho and Christian.
In the weeks leading to the show, Jericho and Christian had entered into a $1 (Canadian) bet over who could bed their targeted Diva first. The private bet became public, emotionally crushing both Trish and Lita and setting in motion a match unlike any before or since.
The match was a thing of storytelling genius. Christian had not an ounce of care for Lita or Trish and expressed that throughout the bout, proving himself to be the unquestioned heel of the match.
Jericho, on the other hand, had legitimately grown close to Trish and wanted nothing to do with the match. His reluctance built a sympathy that, quite frankly, was not put over enough by the commentating team.
At the end of the evening, Jericho and Christian were victorious, but the bout had merely laid the groundwork for a story that would include twists and turns all the way up to WrestleMania XX.
Christian would turn on Jericho and assault Trish prior to the extravaganza, making the showdown between Y2J and Captain Charisma the most emotionally charged match on the entire undercard.
At WrestleMania, Trish would turn on Jericho and side with Christian, completing a heel turn that would result in her becoming one of the most interesting characters on WWE television for the next year.
The match at Armageddon was a completely fresh and interesting idea that had not been done before. It proved to be one of the more entertaining contests on a show that failed to impress in other areas.
Apparently the match is not available on YouTube. Please enjoy the Trish Stratus vs. Lita match for the Women's title on Raw in 2004 in its place. Sorry.
Ladder Match Mayhem
Photo Credit: WWE.com
The card for Armageddon 2006 advertised a WWE Tag Team Championship bout between champions Paul London and Brian Kendrick and challengers William Regal and Dave Taylor.
The title-holders were on a tremendous hot streak, and fans wondered if their unique, fast-paced and exciting offense would clash with the more ground-and-pound style of their British opposition.
Heading into the event, however, there were concerns about the drawing ability of the card.
The main event was a tag team match featuring John Cena and Batista taking on King Booker and Finlay. The star power was there, but a tag match at the top of any pay-per-view event is a tough sell. There was an Inferno match and Last Ride match advertised, but the rivalries involved in those matches were not particularly strong.
There were rumors heading in to the show that stipulations or surprise matches might be added to enhance the card, but few could have expected what we received.
The main event was changed from a tag team match to a ladder match, and, instead of two teams, the Hardys and MNM were added to make it a Fatal 4-Way.
The four teams performed death-defying moves, including a "seesaw" spot that resulted in an obliterated nose for Joey Mercury. London and Kendrick retained their titles, overcoming the challenge of three extraordinarily talented teams and staking their claim as one of the best teams in WWE history.
They would lose the title in February of 2007 to Deuce and Domino, never again achieving the great success they did throughout 2006.
At Armageddon in 2007, Jeff Hardy and Triple H met in a match to determine the No. 1 contender to the WWE championship held by Randy Orton.
It appeared to be a lock that Triple H would leave the event as the top contender. It had long been expected that he and Orton would lock up over the title in the new year, though many believed it would be at WrestleMania. But it was not out of the question that the story heading into WrestleMania XXIV could begin at the Royal Rumble.
Hardy, on the other hand, had become the most popular babyface in the sport and was a favorite to win the Money in the Bank ladder match at 'Mania.
In a tremendous singles match between the two, Hardy shocked the wrestling world by defeating Triple H fair and square, earning his first real title opportunity in five years.
Jeff would not be successful in his attempt to wrest the title away from Orton a month later, but he would ride a wave of momentum throughout 2008, culminating in the final image of the final Armageddon pay-per-view one year later.
At Armageddon in 2007, Jeff Hardy became the No. 1 contender to the WWE title. At Royal Rumble, he came up short in his attempt to capture the gold. By the time December 2008 rolled around, Hardy once again found himself in the title picture.
This time, he would not be denied.
Jeff Hardy defeated Triple H and Edge in a Triple Threat match to win his first WWE title to both the shock and excitement of fans. One of, if not the most popular star in the industry, Hardy had topped off a banner year with a title victory in the company's pay-per-view finale.
Jeff celebrated the win while a tremendously vocal audience cheered him on. The last image of him standing atop the Armageddon set, the WWE title in his possession, is a defining moment in his career.
Hardy's title win was also the final moment in the history of the Armageddon pay-per-view. In 2009, it was replaced by the Tables, Ladders & Chairs event, which lives on to this day.
Armageddon will never be considered one of the great shows in WWE history. After all, it fell at a time when talent was exhausted and ready to retreat home for the holidays.
But it was a show that often featured some major event that sent fans home happy and excited to see what would happen next. It is a pay-per-view that should still exist today in some fashion.
Fortunately, Tables, Ladders & Chairs has done an excellent job of picking up where Armageddon left off—especially in 2012, when The Shield announced their arrival in a Match of the Year candidate and AJ Lee swerved John Cena to help Dolph Ziggler retain his Money in the Bank contract.