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Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Raw Thoughts: 27th April

· When the lights were off and Lillian announced a new GM I paused the TV. I racked by brains to think who it could be. Then when I drew a blank I played on and it was just an announcement for Vickie. Oh well
· Nice little match with Kofi and Kendrick. Don’t really understand the logic of being TBK that quickly, though. Also, he doesn’t quick feel complete without big Zeke.
· Oh the pain. The Santina thing is completely played out. Throw in Hornswoggle and other antics. No thank you.
· Oh, and how would Hornswoggle have a birds eye view when looking up Santina’s skirt. Surely a bird’s eye view would be from high above something, not beneath it?
· Here is your winner, Cowboy Ace Matt Hardy
· Well, I don’t want to see Shane O Mac v Orton again and have Shane all over my TV, but it makes sense, storyline wise, for him to attack like that
· For the record, that should stand MVP in good stead to have him look competitive with Orton, but I didn’t enjoy the match. I though it was very staccato and slow.
· This is a hell of a gamble, you know. Main eventing with Batista and Big Show, and telling – outright TELLING – the audience that Triple H and John Cena will not be seen for a long time. Well, add that to the fact Shawn Michaels might be off for a bit, that’s a big hole in the top group of babyfaces.
· I actually quite liked that segment with Miz. I can see where it can lead. He can do what Santino with Austin to an extent. Belittle and have a go at Cena week after week. It promotes Miz in some people’s eye without him doing much, it keep Cena’s name in the limelight and it gives Cena a nice easy target for when he returns.
· Why exactly would they show us the same video of Orton and the McMahons twice in one night? And what are “recent current events”, Vickie?
· “I have never seen the Big Show this angry” says King. No, look at him. He is so angry with Cena that he is.......standing in the ring growling. Thank goodness that Cena, a man who can barely walk is as far away as, ooh, at least ten yards. Big Show could never catch him
· Poor Raw, for me. Terrible, boring main event with a BS finish and a predictable ending in the sense that Batista was always going over and Cena v Big Show seemed set. Very little happened on the show, and apart from a fun little tag match with the Colons v Chavo and Noble it was really quite dull.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Backlash Live Blog

Welcome to the WWE show with the TNA theme. It's Backlash with a lack of bash, while in TNA Lashley's back.

Speaking of TNA, it's Christian Cage! Did JR, one of the 3-man broadcast team, say that Christian has been away for five-and-a-half years? Is that really true? Swagger out and we're good for an ECW Title opener.

Christian seems over in Rhode Island. In fact he is over.....the tope rope. Nice throw by Swagger, and a cool opener to make him look dominant. I like the idea of Christian chasing this match.

A really sound opener. Of course, Christian winning the ECW title means relatively nothing, but you have to give the credit to the match itself. A lot of fun, both men on good form, nicely paced, and most importantly for me a really good story told through the action. It was the big guy who can amateur wrestle against the quicker, smaller, more experienced guy.

It was structured, and more importantly fun to watch. Nice, clever ending with logic to it, and I'll forgive my usual dislike of a babyface using a heel tactic.

Well done, gentlemen.

Wow, Edge and Christian. New champion Cpt. Charisma takes a wander with his new shiny silver belt and encounters his 'brother' Edge. Totally understand the logic behind this, because it's allowing Edge to put over why he hates Cena. But Edge not quite on his game and perhaps the meeting of the 'brothers' should have meant more.

Jericho to attempt to slay a Dragon. We know the fire still breathes inside him. Let's use it to toast our crumpets.

I went too far with that analogy, didn't I?

JR talks about Steamboat wrestling Austin at WCW Bash of the Beach. I like JR in this role in a three man team, because Cole can become more of a presenter while JR can analyse and use his historical knowledge. I still think they could do with Striker, though, since King doesn't offer heel insight anymore. Striker could have a little more edge.

Can somebody ask Jericho (ASK HIM!) about his hair? It's really bad. Is it mange or something?

And yes I did just want to say ASK HIM.

HUUUGE near fall for the crossbody from Steamboat. Crowd have woken up to this match after a slow start.

And that's the right ending. Some fun with finishing impact moves not getting it done and then Jericho gets Steamboat to tap to a second Liontamer. Held it just a second ot two more to make the point, too.

A really nice match. Didn't quite have the factor that Mania and Raw did, but still fun to watch. Ricky had just one moment where he didn't quite nail it, not quite finding the figure four he was looking for, but apart from that it was more than pleasant.

A nice send off for Steamboat, good to keep Jericho in people's minds. All good so far.

Backstage filler with Santino, Beth and Rosa. Could have stayed with Steamboat saluting the fans for a few seconds more before cutting to Santino and the performing caterpillar on his forehead.

Analysis of the segment. Rosa looks like a cat. That is all.

Punk and Kane out for their attempt to stall before we get to some meatier clashes. King talks up Punk's ability to use the briefcase at any time. Seeding for later tonight, perhaps?

Good start here. More logic, which will always get a thumbs up from me. Punk works on Kane's chokeslam arm, hits a nice looking knee from the top, gets Kane to shout "get him off" when locking his arm round the ropes, then a really nice escape from a chokeslame attempt on the outside.

Unfortunately, King has just brought up whether Punk could cash in the briefcase tonight. Telegraphing usually doesn't work in WWE.

Hey, what do you know? They conjured up a fun match. I'm not crazy about Kane beating Punk from a booking perspective if Punk wants to have another go at a legitimate title run, but once again the match was logically thought out, with Punk working the arm throughout and then Kane finding a way to hit the modified Chokeslam.

Two spots to mention. One was that not only did Punk and Kane try the same spot they had to repeat last Monday again, but they hit it and made it look awesome. OK, it wasn't exactly the same, because it was a pinning combination on Raw, but the new version still looked impressive. The second was a kick from Punk to Kane's head which looked like it rang Glen Jacobs' bell for a minute or two.

The undercard is doing it's job exactly how it should. The best PPVs should have a couple of high profile matches which deliver, with a host of moderate to good matches to build up to what people should have paid for.

Time for a couple of Hardys. Just a small note, I'm surprised that Michael Hayes hasn't made an appearance in this feud, since he was the guy on-screen who built the Hardys up.

Scorecard for Matt and Jeff so far reads an average effort on a huge scale, and a good effort on a much smaller one. The extreme rules match at Mania didn't click, stretcher match on SD a lot of fun.

Third time lucky, boys........

Decent start to this one. Two negative points to make, though. Cole called Jeff Hardy's deceased dog "the love of his (Jeff's) life" which is utterly ridiculous.

Second, the microphone is not being made enough of during the match. The idea is that they say I quit for the world to hear. Trash talking in the mic is allowed.

Just a quick note I forgot to say earlier, I did call the Kane victory as being there to set up a future programme for Punk as champ in a potentially crowded title picture what with Edge and Cena chasing retribution too. That does get a step closer after The Big Red Machine's victory.

That was ridiculous. This has been quite a nice match so far, but two things have just soured it. Jeff with a Texas Cloverleaf locked in elicited a tap from Matt. But then when asked to quit he said no. Why did he tap then?

Then, blatent miscommunication with Jeff and Matt having different ideas about whether they were going to hit a twist of fate or not. It looked bad. Still going here, Jeff now has a table........

You know what, I liked that. It had some down moments, and was far from a classic. But I really admire them trying something. Jeff tying Matt to the table, Matt trying to talk his way out of it. The defeat doesn't hurt Matt because the reason he quit was because he was trying to beg off. The only real change I'd have made to the end was to have the ref hold the mic to Matt's mouth up until the point where the move hit. It would have sounded really dramatic.

That was a really, really good build up promo from Randy Orton. I love the psychology tonight. Trying to get inside Big Dave's head is exactly what a clever strategist like Orton is supposed to be would do.

Hey, SantinA doesn't have a unibrow. Whats up with that?

Well, that dragged a bit. Some funny bits. Anytime Santinoa (not a typo) is on the mic it's pretty fun. Highlight for me was JR seemingly getting irate for real about Santina proclaiming her love for him, since I don't see anyone (read: Vince) liking him saying to Michael Cole "Who fed you that line?" after MC called him 'Mr Barbecue Man"

Time for Santina to come to an end now, and some sort of resolution between Santino and Beth needed too. It's getting a bit too silly. Santino is too brilliant a character to be ruined in this way.

Legacy v McMahons now? PUNK TO CASH IN?????? It's the type of thing to go off the air with. I didn't think there was any way this show wouldn't end with Triple H. Interesting.

Personal tally so far reads 2 out of 4, with predictions for Kane and Jericho coming, but I missed Jeff and Christian. I've just realised that I've picked five out of six heel victories. For the record I've got Triple H to win here.

Judgment Day is here in three weeks (three weeks? Really? Oh man, I hate these short build ups. That's way too short.) and it's in..........CHICAGO? I didn't know that. I offer you once again my theory from earlier. That is that Edge beats Cena (possibly with help) and Punk appears post match. Edge escapes or Punk doesn't attack, they simply set up the match for next time. The fact that its in Chicago makes a Punk title bid more likely.

But then why beat him with Kane. Oh my head hurts. It's very late here, you know........

Where the hell is Orton? An intersting though illogical start to the match. Triple H fights Orton up the ramp before the opening bell, they disappear, and only Triple H returns. Match starts and as I type is a couple of minutes in, but still no Randy. Benefit of the doubt given about the logic its mostly been sound tonight. I'll assume it plays out.

Randy's back, playing the character to the hilt. His facial expressions are spot on tonight, and even his usual slow (dare I say, verging on boring) style is replaced with a dynamic, hard-hitting one befitting the situation. The match is not a classic - was never going to be - but you really don't know where the title will go at this point.

I wouldn't have minded seeing a little more teasing of count outs and DQs though.

An error there. Shane - in a frenzy, apparently - starts to take apart the announce desk. I'd have had Triple H run around the ring and stop his brother-in-law from potentially jeopardising his title belt. Instead, the camera moved to Trips standing idly on the ring apron.

OHHHH, someone might get fired. Poor communication between referee, bellringer, booker or someone. Orton hits an RKO, Trips kicks out late but the bell rings. WTF? Confusion reigns as we try to take in whether that should have happened or not, and meanwhile Orton kicks Trips silly mid face. That really is it.

So Batista had a chair when Trips noticed it, and Orton capitalises. We could see that coming somewhat, but that doesn't always make it bad booking. It's an easy job people like me have. We complain when the booking doesn't make sense, and when they do exactly what we say we complain it's too obvious.

I think this makes sense. It allows more friction between Batista and Triple H because Trips can legitimately claim that Batista's near trangression with the chair cost the match, since Hunter lost focus.

Right now HHH is on a stretcher being wheeled out. (I think they make too much of this sometimes, as if it really goes wrong it seems like a storyline) Where are Steph and Vince? Wouldn't they be running down to show concern?

I wonder how long Triple H will sell this? Backlash? Whiplash, more like.

Good work by the three commentators, by the way, speaking sensibly about the ramifications of the Orton victory. I'm enjoying the three-man dialogue, by the way. I think it works terrifically. I just hope they let those left off the team join in occasionally.\

Cena on his way to the ring as I type to face Edge, and I've realised didn't really give thoughts on the last match as a whole. In all honesty it wasn't terrific when you consider it went the best part of 25 minutes. As a guy who isn't a huge fan of tag wrestling bear in mind that I'll be more down on a match of this type, though.

It seemed a bit formulaic to me, and certainly dragged in the middle before Triple H came roaring in. It's storyline functionality was strong though, and once again delivered in the logic department like so much of tonights stuff has.

I assume that'll mean that Batista challenges Orton for the title in Hunter's brief absence. How about an early guess that HHH arrives to save Batista at the PPV from a 3-on-1 but ends up costing Big Dave, so they are effectively 1-1 on that score?

Ding ding, underway for the main event. I make it thirty seven minutes before we run out of time. I wonder if Mr Brooks has his briefcase combiination to hand?

I LOVE the start. Less than two minutes in, no move hit, but about four avoided, all signature moves. Really clever stuff. Good facial selling from both men, too.

This is ok but no better so far. Once again, I'm perhaps not the best judge because it's a match type I don't like. The nature of the numerous ten-count means that the match struggles to ever gain momentum, it tends to be staccatto and not gain rhythm.

Too much steel steps action, too. Since Shane, in the previous match, took the steps a la Foley and Taker, i.e knees first and spiralling over them, these guys have done at least three collisions unnautrally with the shoulder first. One saw Edge change direction in running to collide with them.

Both men down as I type. Crowd seem as hot as they have been all night, having cheered and booed as they like at a series of punches.

That was nice. Edge counters the "Attittude Adjustment" three times before hitting a back suplex.

You know what, I like it because they did something different. The run into the crowd looked just right, had the right feel for the characters involved. The ending sort of worked. It gives Cena something to do on Raw (not that it will be that interesting, I don't think) but also may make people want to tune in for the explanation of why Show did it, explain working with Edge, etc.

I'll say it again, that finish, not just the last act but the last few minutes, were different. I'm not always a big fan of the big stunt ending, but I never saw it coming. Plenty will be impressed.

By way of a nice irony, I'm fairly certain that the last wrestler other than Cena and Edge to be shown on screen was CM Punk, showing concern for the former champion. I wonder if that was deliberate?

So then, I make that four minutes short of a full three-hour show. Not bad.

Overall, I had fun. There wasn't a bad match on the card, although there was not a standout one either. Swagger and Christian opened strongly, though I'd have liked to see a match where they were given a little longer and didn't have to curtain jerk. Kane and Punk exceeded my expectations, and once again Steamboat shone and Jericho was Jericho (and that's a compliment, by the way.)

Hardys didn't tear the house down but told a great story, especially at the end. Similar sentiments for the six man, where action got a little a sluggish but the storyline held up during the match and the ending was well executed.

Finally, a gradual build for a match between two guys who we've seen battle many times ended in something shocking, if perhaps not to everyone's taste.

No Money in the Bank. All three titles change.

Judgment Day looks tentatively Batista v Orton, Cena v Show and perhaps Punk v Edge bearing in mind the Chicago factor.

Big week of TV, since they have to set the draft out and start booking matches for a PPV three weeks away.

Good fun tonight, hope you enjoyed it.


Sunday, 26 April 2009

Backlash Preview

Backlash. The latest WWE Pay Per View. Read about it on backslash backlash.

Or, indeed, read about it here, as you have chosen to do. I have had a few of you write to me and ask why I haven’t been updating so much of late. I apologise, but my schedule has been mad as of late. I’ve hardly been home and working on the read means I don’t get many chances to Blog. Will try to rectify this situation.

By the way, I would blog with more frequency but I have a slight problem. Because I write about wrestling professionally, when I think of an idea I want to write about I pitch it to write on a website or magazine. ( or Fighting Spirit Magazine available from WHSmith and precious few other bloody stockists) To this end, if you want to throw me a question down the line I’d be happy to give you an answer on the blog. Email rob the green at hotmail dot com, changing the format as appropriate. (I get a shitload of spam, don’t want to add to it by typing my email address too often.)

By way of a final piece of housekeeping, I’ll be back live tonight for Backlash to give my usual live blog, which is updated far more regularly and quicker than any other live wrestling blog. That is a scientific fact (Disclaimer, may not be a fact.)

Onto the Pay per View then, and I feel myself saying the thing that so often comes from my keyboard on PPV days. The card doesn’t look that appetising, but WWE have come up trumps so many times in the last two years or so on PPV. The (longest running) weekly (episodic) TV might not be up to much, but the big shows (not Paul Wight) tend to deliver.

Tonight is a test (Not Andr.....leave it) though. No Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio, Big Show, Kofi, Miz or Morrison, no Colons, no MVP Shelton or Umaga. The main event is a flimsy six man and the hype for the show features a rematch of a bout which was poor, had a twice filmed ending and lasted three minutes on Monday (Kane and CM Punk) and a segment about a man in drag kissing a 7ft4 Indian bloke. Hmmm.

CM Punk v Kane

We’ll start here, as it is such an odd choice of match. I like both of these guys – one for their wrestling, one for their character, and I’ll let you guess which is which – but was live in London for their match on Monday and it was poor. It was sloppy, with a botched ending, and the timing (maybe 3-4 minutes) they were given was horrifically short.

Even worse, Punk won cleanly, so why are we supposed to care about them having a rematch?

I have a horrible feeling about this, which I hope I might be wrong about. How about Kane beats Punk but Punk cashes in Money in the Bank? Punk is then champ with Edge and/or Cena demanding a rematch, and Kane arguing that because he beat Punk he ought to be number one contender. Could happen.

Prediction: Officially Kane to win. If the full scenario plays out then I get bonus points.

Santino/Santina/Khali kiss cam
I know this isn’t a match, so I can’t count it as a prediction really, but I wanted to offer an explanation as to why it’s on PPV. I can see the major blow up of Santino and Beth here. I can’t give a full picture as I can’t think how I’d do it, but I can see Beth interjecting and somehow (maybe on Raw) Rosa ends up siding with Santino. Their problem in all this might be how people end up post-angle. I think they’d want Rosa and Santino to be a heel couple with a Beth face turn, but the people will cheer for Santino no matter what.

I’m saying something major (well, major in context) may well happen since they’ve bumped this to PPV from regular TV.

Matt Hardy v Jeff Hardy – I Quit match
Until I read rumours of Jeff Hardy leaving I would have had him down as a banker winner. Now, I’m not so sure.

I still think Jeff could be pushed in a major way. If he leaves, he gets a big send off and the stage is set for if and when he returns. If he doesn’t leave, then all the better. The fear will likely be that he takes time off for burnout then goes to TNA (it’s happened before) so the more likely explanation is that Matt gets the stronger push out of this feud.

It’s likely to end here, I would think, especially with the two brother being on separate brands now. I feel for Matt a bit, and like Kennedy and Mysterio before him he may get lost in the Raw shuffle a little.

The scenario I envisage here is a rehash of the Bret Hart v Steve Austin match as Wrestlemania. You can put Matt Hardy over his brother one more time, but rather than uttering the words I Quit, Jeff simply cannot continue. He overcomes all odds to make sure he does not give in, but it’s someone else’s decision to stop the match. As long as Ken Shamrock doesn’t guest ref this, then we’re cool.

Prediction: Matt to win, but Jeff not to say “I Quit”

Chris Jericho v Ricky Steamboat

I can’t decide whether to be excited about this or not. It’s basically a filler match and a small capitalisation on Steamboat’s surprise (to some) success at Wrestlemania weekend. As someone who was there, the adulation of Ricky at Raw the night after Mania was truly special. I was chanting “You’ve still got it” for days.

I’m not to keen on this match, as like the words to that song they played for Ric Flair said “Leave the memories alone.” Steamboat could be remembered for his last two matches being a beautiful surprise, and not a B-show filler match.

I’d still expect this to be good. We’ve seen how Steamboat really does still have it and Jericho might be the best about at the moment, so this’ll likely be fun.

Prediction: Jericho to win, and possibly a nefarious act post-match to keep his heat sky-high and put The Dragon out of the picture.

Jack Swagger v Christian (ECW Title)

I’m not confident of predictions on any of the title matches tonight. This one included. Most of me says Swagger to retain. Partly because of them seemingly wanting to hold back Christian, partly because the internal reaction to Swagger v Cena two weeks ago was said to be very positive.

However, there are some Christian pointers. Someone, somewhere must have noted that Christian got by far the best reaction in Money in the Bank. If you are not going to give him the ECW title, why leave him on the brand in the draft? And this match has been done before on PPV, with Swagger winning. It seems to achieve nothing if the former Mr Cage is simply beaten again.

Prediction: I’m going to for the old guess you one you don’t want to win, so if you are right you get a point, if you are wrong you are happy about the outcome. Swagger to win, and I hope I’m wrong.

Edge v John Cena (Last Man Standing match, World Title)

Well there are three theories, and all stem from two obvious points. Those points are that Cena will be off House shows soon because he is shooting a movie, while Smackdown is shockingly without a World Title.

So, either they do the logical thing which is Edge wins and take the title to SD, or they have Cena win to swerve everybody, or they do either of the above and have Punk come in and steal the title like he did last year.

Going on the Punk theory for a second, that can work two ways, because it could be used to give Cena an excuse for dropping the belt. However, that makes little sense, because a) he’d then a) be mad at a guy on a different brand and b) would deprive us of the logical Edge v Punk feud. And Edge v Punk feud which would be more intense because Edge would be doubly mad since Punk cashed in last year MITB briefcase against him too.

The most likely thing, I think, is that a dirty rotten heel from Raw (maybe Jericho) helps Edge to victory, giving Cena both a reason for losing and a ready made feud on Raw while the title picture continues to revolve around Triple H.

I’ll offer this up, as something that I would do. I’d end the show with this match (already you know this isn’t going to happen since the build up is all about the Game) and have Edge win out in a really close one. Maybe both guys are counted out to nine and Vickie appears to throw water over Edge or something. Anyway, Edge wins, and Punk’s music hits. One of two things happens. Either Edge runs away and Punk can’t catch him, or Punk is just appearing to scare the shit out of the new champion, and the paranoid Edge character continues for a few weeks with Punk hovering and waiting to pounce.

Prediction: I’ll take the straightforward Edge title switch, for sensible reasons, and assume that he gets some help from somewhere. Would be wonderful to see post-match Punk, but no impromptu title match, just a build for the future. It’d make me watch Smackdown, that’s all I’m saying.

Triple H, Batista and Shane v Legacy

Even though I predicted this long before it played out on TV (obviously with Vince instead of Big Dave) I don’t want to see it. I hate the stipulation of someone other than the champion being pinned and there being a title switch, and I hate the fact that bloody Vince and Shane are powerless over Vickie to block this match. And what is Vickie’s motivation anyway?

That aside, looking at where the match goes, well it goes one of four ways, but with all but one leading to the same conclusion.

I foresee a Triple H and Batista rivalry, folks, and I see it being started tonight. So, either Batista gets pinned and Triple H is pissed off with him, Batista wins the match for Trips and later accuses his former Evolution chum of being ungrateful or Batista turns on his partners and wins the title for Randy.

The fourth scenario is that Shane is beaten costing Trips the title, but I don’t really see where that leads post Backlash. I suppose a further scenario is that Shane turns on his partners but that makes even less sense.

I like the Batista-loses-Trips’-belt angle the best. I think that’s the most likely, because there are logistics for two programmes then. The first leads a triple threat match between Triple H, Batista and Orton, which Orton wins after the other two beat the crap out of each other. Then, Orton can go his own way with the title while Trips and Dave face off, maybe at Summerslam.

Prediction: Triple H to pin someone and retain. I know that contradicts everything I’ve just said, and isn’t even in the list of about six scenarios I gave, but I don’t care. Logically, everything goes out of the window, and Triple H wins. That’s how things usually work.

Enjoy the show everybody, remember to keeping logging in during the PPV and I’ll keep you updated with my thoughts. Feel free to email in too. Robthegreen, followed by an at sign, with a hotmail, a dot and a com to follow.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Raw Thoughts - April 13

· Long, long opening seg to recap last week. Interesting to note that they edited Vince saying “Dave Batista” down to Batista. Wait, is that interesting?
· Is that a fair system? Inter-promotional matches where the winning brand gets a draft pick? Strikes me that I wouldn’t want more competition on my brand, so I’d deliberately lose.
· Did they really talk about announcers being eligible to move? Didn’t they notice that Todd Grisham is now sat with JR in the Smackdown booth? Sort of kyboshes that doesn’t it?
· Doesn’t make Batista very tough, does it, if Shane and Vince can come back after a punt in about a month, where it takes Big Dave four.
· Very dull, formulaic opening (“No, I hate Randy more than you, you stinkyhead”), although as I type I’ve just heard “excuse me” – this could be fun.
· I like the idea of Vickie on Raw, but it’s a risk. She certainly hasn’t been as convincing over the last two weeks, which suggests that being live, i.e. not being cleaned up in post production, is not so easy for her.
· MVP to Raw. Keep an eye on either Rey moving with his IC belt or the two having a little unification bout at some point.
· Did you see JR’s face when Kendrick emerged to represent Raw? Didn’t look too thrilled, did he?
· Sorry to all those that frequently tell me that Big Show is the best big man ever to lace the boots, but as much as he seems a nice guy, I am just not entertained by him. Not too thrilled with him appearing on Raw.
· I like Cena pointing out to Swagger that his name is ridiculous. I was waiting for Kennedy though, during that bit where they were extending the names of things.
· Firstly, that was a pointless “six diva tag match” if they are just going to have two girls “wrestle” the whole thing.
· Second, Melina to Smackdown is very interesting. I’d expect to see Maryse to Raw now, but I’m hoping that they’ll both female champs together and have unification battle there. I truly believe that where belts are concerned, less is more.
· Aaaagh! Where to start with my annoyance? Maybe with the fact that Swagger v Cena was excruciatingly boring, right up until the point where Swagger started a comeback? Or how about mentioning the fact that that as the comeback started we went to break? Or perhaps I’ll mention that the exact second the break came Swagger was about to knock Cena off the ropes.
· So are we going to get a big Swagger push now? The way he was doing average moves at a slow pace and the commentators were going crazy for him suggests only that.
· I guess we knew one Hardy was moving after their stretcher match on SD, but I expected it to be Jeff.
· The stupidity of the whole brand split and draft came home there. Triple H drafted to Raw. I really thought he was on Raw, until I thought about it harder. How many weeks has been on Raw, consecutively? 6, 7?
· Haha, that’s hilarious. Punk is drafted to SD along with his briefcase, but both all world champs are now on other brands. Brilliant.
· See, Edge is gutted about having Kane on his brand. It makes no sense at all for him to work hard to get people to challenge him.
· Wow, this show lost my attention after less than the allotted two hours, it was a huge mistake to go three.
· Koslov’s move to ECW makes total sense. That’s basically a relegation, thanks to his disappointing Smackdown run.
· Maryse to Raw I called earlier. If they move Melina, makes sense to switch the other title I guess.
· Bit harsh from Grisham? “If Dreamer is a legend then so is the Brooklyn Brawler.” Mi-ow, Todd.
· Mysterio to SD was perhaps the biggest lock. Good potential for IC battles with a heel Punk, Shelton or Kendrick.
· I like Jericho to Smackdown too, mainly because I’ve said for a while that I’d love to see a nice build, maybe to Summerslam, of Jericho and Undertaker. Would have preferred it on Raw, but beggars can’t be choosers.
· I can’t decide if I liked the main event or not. I at least like the fact that they tried to do something different, and watching the match was made more interesting by not knowing the outcome. However, the concept, just a week after Batista’s heroic return, seemed a bit premature. Shane should step aside as a non wrestler, while Trips only wrestled Orton (smashed him with a sledgehammer and pinned him, no less) eight days earlier. Just led Dave fight him.
· Triple H v Orton next week at the O2. I’ll be there. Is it a good main event or not? We’ll see........

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Wrestlemania 25 Preview and predictions

A quick note before you read - I've written this over about three days, so some was written before I saw Raw and before I heard about certain things, including Tazz's release. I'm just too busy/lazy to go back and edit!

Enjoy, Rob


Right, now this is me doing predictions for an event more than about five hours before the show. Don’t get used to it. I just thought that since I’m going to be in Houston (have I mentioned that? I have? Oh, ok...) for Wrestlemania and can’t do the live blog I would give you a few days heads up on my predictions. It’s the least I can do.

Let’s get straight into it.......

Intercontinental Championship – JBL (c) v Rey Mysterio
This is a late addition filler match to the show, and I’ve opened with it for that reason, and because I feel WWE may do similar and have JBL, like last year, start us off.

I can only envision a straightforward three-star type of match here. I don’t see these two clicking in a major way, and there is no storyline animosity to build to it, just JBL quickly winning the IC strap from Punk and then Rey making the challenge.

The buzz surrounding the match, if any, is the promise of something historic. Apart from what I’m going to guess at in a second, the only thing I can think of is that perhaps JBL might the only man to take part in matches for the WWE, US, Tag Team and Intercontinental titles at Mania, but I couldn’t be certain.

I think, especially if this goes on first, that it’s got a babyface win written all over it. Mysterio to walk away from Mania as the new champ makes sense, and an opening match being taken by the fan favourite sets a good tone.

So, how about the historic JBL moment? I’m saying that Rey wins, JBL throws a fit, gets angry, gets the microphone and starts to talk. He says that he promised everyone something historic, and he hoped he was going to be being the first person to defend the IC title successfully at Wrestlemania since Chris Jericho did it in Houston eight years previously.

Instead, since he lost, he will do something historic and be the first person to quit live on air at Wrestlemania. Mic down, outta here. Gone.

There have been rumours that JBL is suffering from injuries again, and of course he doesn’t need to wrestle with the money he has from outside ventures. I’m taking that to be the historic announcement.

Prediction: Rey Mysterio to win, JBL to retire post-match

25 Diva Battle Royal

I think we may see a mixture of a fun event and some horrible action combined in this one. The fact that even the least qualified divas plus some girls from the past who may well be out of ring shape are in this are in this is not conducive to exciting wrestling.

As for those that will be making a cameo appearance, Sunny is pretty much confimed, at least according to herself, but there have been many others who have turned it down, it seems. You’d think that Trish would be a likely entrant, but I’m worried that entering a 25-diva match waters down the prospect of her reappearing again in the future.

Torrie, Jackie Gayda-Haas and Victoria seem likely returnees. Obviously it would be cool to see Stacy Keibler, but I can’t see it.

As for who will be crowned Miss Wrestlemania, I’m sensing that this can be used like King of the Ring or the Slammies as a tool for hyping someone up. Because of that it ought to go to a heel diva, and having a champion win makes little sense. I can only see it being Beth, to be honest. Imagine the fun we could have with a Santino acceptance speech and ongoing bragging about how his Glamazon is Miss Wrestlemania. Plus it builds her up nicely as a challenger for a future title shot.

Prediction: Beth Phoenix to win – and Santino to milk it

Tag Team Championship Unification – Mizorrison v The Colons, Lumberjack Match.

Firstly, a sensible decision. We don’t need two sets of tag titles. (We don’t need so many titles full stop, but that’s a subject for another day. In fact, you can read about it in a future edition of Fighting Spirit Magazine. Cheap Pop.)

I’m not so crazy about the feud, as I think it ran it’s course a few weeks ago and they’ve gone a little too far with it now. However, I like the concept of this match being at Wrestlemania, as it features a set of guys who I think will be extra keen to put on a great show. This is also a contender for opening match.

I’m not sure a lumberjack match makes complete sense, but it’s probably using the theory that they try to get as many guys as possible involved in Wrestlemania, and since the girls are having a battle royal I assume that’s why they aren’t doing that in the pre-show like last year.

Until I started writing this I’d have said Mizorrison to win and cement themselves as the top duo in the company, but the more I think about it, the more I think it makes sense to draft them separately and let them try to sink or swim as singles guys. I don’t see what else they can achieve as a team.

Prediction: Primo and Carlito

Jeff Hardy v Matt Hardy (Extreme Rules)
To me the strangest thing about this contest is that it’s extreme rules. That implies that it’s a blow-off match, and while you want that kind of thing at Mania, you would also think that Jeff and Matt would be pencilled in for at least two goes on PPV.

This might still be the first match of a more-than-one series, and if it is my instinct is to pick Matt Hardy. It makes sense for the ‘evil’ heel brother to get the best of his more successful, babyface sibling, before the latter exacts revenge. Perhaps, though, one of them is due for a Raw switch in the draft and they are being separated.

This is another contest, like the last, which you can line up as a match in its own right and say that its participants will go like crazy to put on a great show. Matt and Jeff must have been dreaming of wrestling each other at Wrestlemania all their lives, and will likely be desperate to make sure they can live up the hype which may have been on TV for two months, but has probably been in their minds for 25 years.

I really hope it’s a good match. I think Matt deserves it for years of hard and sometimes unappreciated work, and Jeff needs a standout contest to get him back into the title picture where he deserves to be.

Prediction: Tentatively Matt, because I think that this may be stretched to more than just this match.

Chris Jericho v Rick Steamboat, Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka
First thing to do is to state that I am not nearly as critical about this match as many seem to be. No, I don’t think it’s the most exciting match I’ve ever seen, or that is even on this card. However, I do not put the blame at the WWE’s door as many do.

Be fair to them, they tried four other situations before they got to this one, I’m sure of it. Some of the segments on TV featuring Chris Jericho have been special. Real, high-quality TV which the men involved should be proud of, and the audience should be grateful for. I think that they wanted Chris Jericho v Mickey Rourke, and the star of The Wrestler got cold feet. They wanted Flair to step in for one night, and he (rightly) opted to keep his retired status.

The other two scenarios are more speculative, but I believe them to be true. I think that they would have asked Steve Austin, the headliner of the Hall of Fame 2009 induction group, to lace the boots one last time, in Texas, but he turned it down. They probably even had tentative talks with that Stark Raving Hulkster himself, dude, but he they couldn’t sort it out, brother.

This isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s not going to be that amazing a match because Snuka and Piper at least are long past it, and although we know less about Steamboat’s physical condition it can’t be that terrific. Look for this one to be given about 25 minutes and for there to be about 7 minutes “wrestling”. I’d expect huge deals to be made out of the entrances of Snuka, Piper and Steamboat. Oh, and Flair.

The following message goes for the whole of Wrestlemania, but especially this match. You are a wrestling fan. I know that because you are reading this text. Because you are a wrestling fan, remember that you watch WWE to be entertained. So at Wrestlemania, please try to sit back and relax, and enjoy it as a fan. Don’t worry about the booking; don’t worry about where they go from there. On the night itself, just revel in the entertainment.

I think this will be a lot of fun. Yes it’s not where it could have gone, and yes it’s a bit of a waste of Chris Jericho, one of the best wrestlers in the company. But it’s still likely to be a nice piece of nostalgia mixed with some modern-day feelgood action.

We now know that this will be a gauntlet-type match, so one would assume that Jericho would be beat Piper and Snuka, and somehow they contrive that Steamboat gets the final victory for the legends.

Prediction: I think the Legends will win, eventually, somehow, with Jericho drawing heat from nefarious tactics and then bitching about it being three-on-one (or four with Flair, or five with Rourke) to keep himself as a strong heel.

And another thing: There is a draft coming, and I’d like to point out that Chris Jericho has had very little interaction with the Undertaker over the years. That might be fun.

Money in the Bank Ladder match

Bring me the McNichol Eliminator, as seen in the film 12 Rounds. (Well it isn’t really, but no-one has seen it, have they? They’ll never know.)

Mark Henry
Surely not. A surprising entry to this match anyway, if Mark Henry claims the briefcase then this match concept will effectively be over.

A sensible addition to the match, since Finlay is an experienced and strong hand. I suspect he will assist in the organisation of the bout and will be a reliable cog in making sure it is an exciting showpiece. However, he can’t win. It may no sense to give a title shot to man in his fifties who is in his ideal spot, helping future stars. A Finlay title reign is not in the offing.

He’s been the dominant figure on TV in the run up to this match, but surely as a concession to the fact that he won’t win it. A bit similar to Finlay, it doesn’t seem appropriate to give a man (or at least a character) who has spent 12 years near the top of the card. Surely MITB is designed to give someone a leg up, and you can cite Edge, Kennedy and Punk as examples. Kane winning will be a huge error, and the McNichol Eliminator concurs.

Shelton Benjamin

Seems doomed to stay in this one spot. Has always been a standout figure in this match, but the winner of MITB has to be someone ready to step up and hit the main event. Shelton has always suffered from a lack of having the big match feel and having the necessary vocal skills. I love to watch Shelton, and I’m sure he’ll pull off some of the moves of the match – but he won’t win.

You may be surprised to see this name eliminated so early, but I really don’t think MVP wins this. I don’t see the logic of giving him the United States title before setting him as a number one contender. The second black mark against him is the fact that I don’t believe his face turn has really come off as expected. If you look at this match composition I would say that MVP is the least over babyface in it. I’ve eliminated all heels already, so I’m obviously picking a babyface, crowd-pleasing win. If this is what is intended, I don’t see MVP being the man. I believe he has what it takes, but not as a babyface.

CM Punk
He is only this low because he won last year. For quite a while I had him down as the likely winner, as it wouldn’t be too outlandish for WWE to have him win twice in a row. I’m still not ruling it out, but at this point I’m looking at likely winners, rather than dismissing people. I believe that two people hold larger claims than Punk, so he is at #3, but to me he is one of three people who can win it.

This was a real toss-up, and I’m going against my own instinct here. Christian is by far and away the contender who has the best set up of overness, character, promo ability and wrestling quality to step up to dine at the top table. I said a long while ago that I thought Christian would come back and get involved with the Matt/Jeff Hardy situation and drag Edge in, but if he didn’t, then I thought he would win Money in the Bank. This was before he re-debuted. So the fact that I am now betting against him may seem odd. I just look at his position in WWE and feel that if the rumours of Vince not being behind him are true (which I have every reason to believe they are) then I don’t see him getting the necessary push to be a World Champion in WWE, which has happened for all who have cashed in the briefcase thus far.

Kofi Kingston
Weren’t expecting this one, were you? In fact, I wasn’t completely expecting it myself. It’s based on three things. One is that he is WWE made. WWE will love the fact that they have discovered and produced this guy and built him up. The second reason, following on from a point I made about MVP, is that with the possible exception of Punk, Kofi may be the most over babyface in this match. And finally, Kofi was put over Kane to get into the Elimination Chamber, a sign of intent, and had a superb pair of matches with Chris Jericho and Edge in one week of TV. I believe that was a trial to see how he would get on with the big boys, and he came through.

Admittedly, Kofi does not have the promo ability, one of the reasons I dismissed Shelton Benjamin. However, the marks against Punk and Christian to me are bigger than this knock on Kofi.

Prediction: Kofi Kingston – because the Eliminator said so.

Shawn Michaels v Undertaker

So who really is Mr Wrestlemania? Well, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the build-up to this match has been spine-tingling at times, and I cannot wait to be sat inside Reliant Stadium and hear the BONG signalling Undertaker’s entrance. Perhaps it is raising expectations too highly, but I anticipate a classic here. Michaels never disappoints in this kind of contest, and I expect him to play heel to some extent here. Undertaker matches are not at faultless as HBK’s but when he has a smaller, able opponent (think Edge) it’s normally the signal for one hell of a match.

Taker will win, but that, for once, is not the important thing. It’s going to be about soaking up the atmosphere, celebrating these two modern day wrestling icons who may well be the best in the world at what they do.

As for putting this on last, I don’t think they will, and I don’t think they should. Not only has Undertaker closed the show with a victory for the last two years, but it would effectively be tantamount to admitting that their builds to the title matches have been less than perfect.

Prediction – Undertaker, of course, because HBK does not need to end to the streak, and the streak needs to be kept as a hook for future Wrestlemanias. The overriding prediction is for a spectacle to blow your mind.

World Title Match – Edge v Big Show v John Cena

And apparently, Vickie Guerrero is (kayfabe) pregnant. Oh my. Didn’t she get speared a week or two ago? That’s a tough baby.

I’m not crazy about this feud or match, but the big hook for me is that I don’t know where it is going. All competitors have legitimate claims to win, really.

Cena winning is another one of his overcoming the odds stories, and there is a possibility that Orton will win, so they may want to have one babyface title win.

Big Show winning would mean a ‘Vickie turns on Edge’ story, which makes more sense than her staying with Edge, really. For her to stay with her husband they can only really go with the explanation that she changed her mind about Big Show, because if they say it was a plan all along, then why would she introduce Show to the equation?

Edge is a strong champion, and I’d be more than happy if he prevails. Maybe a better storyline would be Edge somehow winning out and actually turning Vickie down, sending her packing. The problem with that is that Edge would then end up being babyface, and I don’t see that working, really.

I’m going to have to take Cena to win, since it’s the percentage bet and it covers me just in case Orton wins.

Prediction – John Cena, because if you predict him all the time, more often than not you get it right.

And another thing......As a saver bet, what about Edge winning the match after copious Vickie interference, ref bumps etc., in the last match of the night. Then, down to the ring runs Christian, having won Money in the Bank, and pins Edge to win the World Title. We go off air with a major celebration, a babyface win and a shock ending. Then, back on regular TV, you can have either Edge chasing his ‘brother’ for the belt, or Vickie siding with Edge and maybe even Christian being her baby’s father. Reveal could be that Vickie didn’t care who won the title match, but built it up so that whoever won would be exhausted, leaving the door open for Christian.

It’ll probably never happen, but it’s a fun concept isn’t it?

WWE Title – Triple H v Randy Orton

To me this is the main event, and should be on last. Yes they have wrestled lots of times, and yes the build up at times has been less than stellar. However, let’s look at the positives, of which there are two major ones.

The first is that although yes these two have wrestled loads of times, their matches are normally very exciting. The prospect of the main event title match being a really solid wrestling match is very appealing. Secondly, the last two weeks of TV involving these two, and those peripherally involved, has been tremendous in my opinion. I thought that Orton’s destruction of Triple H and attack on Stephanie was chilling, and the Triple H revenge mission alongside his brother-in-law and father-in-law worked perfectly. The response it got from the live crowd was huge.

This really could go either way, and logic would probably dictate that Triple H would go over. He hasn’t won many matches at Wrestlemania over the years, and none at all as a babyface. Maybe he is due this one. It certain would be the fitting payoff after the treatment he has received.

I would love Orton to win. I think his egotistic, arrogant heel is a tremendous portrayal, and a win over Triple H would simply increase this position. I’m not feeling it, though. Some have suggested that one of the McMahon’s will defect and help out the Legacy group. Makes no sense to me. I could see it if they hadn’t all been physically attacked, but they have all been given some rough treatment by Orton, and this simply doesn’t make sense. I know WWE often do stuff that makes no sense, but I can’t see them going that far.

Here’s how I see things panning out over a couple of months. Triple H wins and retains. However, he may well get a certain amount of assistance at some point, however small, which will make Orton demand a rematch. He’ll wreak some sort of havoc to get it, and the booking will be thus. Vince, Shane and Trips v Randy, Cody and Ted. If Triple H’s team wins, he retains. If Orton’s team wins, Randy is World Champion.

Orton’s team win this, with Randy pinning Vince. Triple H will then blame Vince, who booked the match and lost the fall, and we spark an “I never liked you anyway, you’re not good enough for my daughter” row between Triple H and Vince, and all focus is back on the McMahons.

Prediction – Triple H at Wrestlemania, and then McMahonomania will run wild once more.

There you have it. I hope you enjoy Wrestlemania. Once again, I urge you to just sit back and enjoy. It’s what I intend to do, although I reserve the right to start questioning stuff when I return to England!

Ok, I have to go and pack. I can’t guarantee any correspondence from Houston, but enjoy the show, I know I will.

Take care,