The advent of a new year is a time for reflection, so we decided to gaze upon a ghost from WWE’s past: the New Year’s Revolution pay-per-view.
Perhaps the bigwigs at WWE would prefer the event stay buried in the annals of wrestling history. During its three-year lifespan, New Year’s Revolution failed to generate sizable pay-per-view buy rates nor fare well in the DVD market (it never entered Billboard.com’s top 10 list of Recreational Sports DVDs).
The event was scrapped following its third incarnation in 2007, forever relegated to WWE’s ever-growing “seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time” pile.
And the exclusively Raw-branded event was, in fairness, a pretty good idea at the time.
The inaugural New Year’s Revolution event was held on Jan. 9, 2005, at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan — a city rich with wrestling history. The event was the first-ever WWE pay-per-view to be held outside of the continental United States, Canada or the United Kingdom. Tickets fittingly sold like wildfire (while pay-per-view buys, on the other hand, were less impressive).
The main event featured the third-ever Elimination Chamber match, featuring an all-star line-up of Batista, Edge, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Triple H and Chris Benoit.
The undercard featured some unusual booking, such as a match between Arab-American uber-heel Muhammad Hassan and Jerry Lawler. Because both Lawler and Jim Ross were involved in the match, it was broadcast without any commentary.
Shelton Benjamin defeated Tough Enough export Maven not once but twice during the event, after Maven demanded an immediate rematch.
Triple H won the main event — his second of four career victories inside the Elimination Chamber, making him the most successful wrestler in the history of the match (John Cena is runner-up with three Chamber victories).
The second New Year’s Revolution event, held 364 days later in Albany New York, was also headlined by an Elimination Chamber match, though with a somewhat more eclectic line-up: John Cena, Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, Kane, Carlito and Chris Masters.
Although Cena won the match, Edge cashed in his Money in the Bank contract, spearing his way to the WWE Championship.
The event earned mostly unfavorable reviews, no doubt partly thanks to the first-ever Bra & Panties Gauntlet Match, which included cameos by The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young.
Interestingly, of the two-dozen wrestlers who performed at New Year’s Revolution 2006, only six remain active on the WWE roster. Shelton Benjamin’s “momma,” who helped her “son” defeat Viscera at the event, mercifully departed the company not long after.
The final installment of New Year’s Revolution was held on Jan. 7, 2007 at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City — the site where, eight years earlier, Owen Hart plunged to his death.
The event featured four title matches, though not a single championship changed hands. Rather than a main event inside the Elimination Chamber (that “demonic structure” was put to use instead at another failed PPV, December to Dismember), the WWE championship was contested in standard singles match between John Cena and Umaga. Kevin Federline, the former “Mr. Britney Spears” whose involvement on Raw had partly sparked the feud, was mercifully absent.
The event did feature a steel cage match, however, which pitted John Morrison (then known as Johnny Nitro) against Jeff Hardy. The match featured a memorable spot in which Nitro fell crotch-first onto the steel crossbar of the cage door, making countless male fans worldwide wince in unison. The event also saw Triple H suffer a legitimate torn quadriceps (not for the first time) during the match between D-Generation X and Rated-RKO.
Despite earnings of $107 million, which was markedly higher than the previous year’s event, New Year’s Revolution was never held again. Cutting back on excessive programming in an oversaturated market is a new year’s resolution WWE should consider again for 2013.