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Monday, 17 December 2007

Armageddon Live Notes

1am - So another WWE PPV is about to start which I am feeling rather apathetic towards. I always look forward to PPVs, because I’d rather be watching wrestling than not watching wrestling, frankly, but I don’t really know what to expect.

Last month I didn’t expect much and was pleasantly surprised. Last Monday I didn’t expect much and was very pleasantly surprised. I’m not expecting much tonight. I hope the system continues to work.

1.03am
The opening video seems to put Orton and Jericho in the main spotlight, so that may well be the main event. I’d be very impressed if this was a great match, because Jericho has been out for so long.

1.04am
Its US title action first, as MVP faces Rey Mysterio. MVP appears sans bubble dome, and Rey appears with a mask on, covering his erm......mask. The extra mask also seems to be some sort of Halloween costume. This is Christmas, Rey. Not Halloween. I wonder if he went trick or treating in a Santa outfit.

1.18am
Match ends with a bit of a bullshit finish, but slightly understandable. Basically, Mysterio nails MVP on the outside, and just as Porter is about to re-enter the ring, he opts not to, takes the 10 count, and loses via count-out.

This match was ok, but it was one of those Rey Mysterio matches that I struggled to enjoy. You know, I’ve kept quiet really, but I’m not much of Mysterio fan. Some of his spots are fantastic, and his energy and athleticism cannot be questioned. But, he is not a great wrestler, he is a small guy who is very athletic and needs his opponent to help him by selling majorly. I think it looked very obvious that MVP was assisting Rey with almost every move.

That said, the match was watchable, and the finish was presumably written like that in order to either have an MVP v Mysterio in the future which is in a cage or something, or its because they had nothing for these two guys, and just threw them together, although they didn’t want MVP to drop the belt, and couldn’t have Rey lose cleanly, apparently

01.21am
Interview with Jeff Hardy, and he says that he has been in all kinds of matches. He lists some, and they are quite a range. “Everything from ladder matches, to TLC matches, to Money in the Bank matches.”

Aren’t they the exact same match but with different names?


01.24am
Its the moment that no-one has looked forward to, as Big Daddy V and Mark Henry will attempt to make a sloth look like the Roadrunner. But unless ACME sell a product which makes excruciating matches watchable, then this is going to be tough.


01.36am
I won’t lie to you – that was not pretty. However, CM Punk continues to look impressive, and surely it is only a matter of time before he gets called up to Raw or Smackdown, and gets programmes with some top guys.

The other positive, I suppose, was the ending, which saw Big Daddy V catch Punk, who was on a roll at the time, in mid air, and hit a Samoan drop. It was extremely creative, and will be used, I suspect, to put over Big V and suggest he is the number one contender. No other reason to have the champion pinned.

The rest of the match was excrement.

01.42am

After an Edge and Vickie backstage segment which achieved nothing unless Edge ultimately turns on her after she helps him win a title, we have Kennedy and Michaels in the ring. This should be a good’un, but the build up has seemed a little forced to me.

01.58am

I am a happy bunny again. HBK v Kennedy was absolutely superb. That is one of the best PPV matches I have seen all year. It may not get the credit it deserves because it was not chock full of big spots, but the psychology used throughout, with Kennedy doing an awesome job of selling his hand injury, and Michaels favouring his back.

Whoever booked the intricacies of the match deserves hearty congratulations. The story of the match was told brilliantly, and it achieved that holy grail of matches. False finishes where you bought the ending, entertaining action, and a clean finish which did not hurt the loser.

2.06am

Triple H v Jeff Hardy. The third chance tonight for upward mobility, and so far it is 0-2. Although, I will let the HBK/KK match off because it was so good. Jeff Hardy to win this match would absolutely make his career. It really would. Would a defeat really hurt The Game that much?

2.23am

Good Lord, he actually did it. Hardy got the win, albeit in a match which I never thought flowed. JR wrongly called a lateral press as a cross body, so even he wasn’t up to speed! Jeff missed an early rail spot, and I think things like this are why he won’t be more than just a one off contender at Royal Rumble.

However, fair play to the WWE for giving us an upset, for giving Hardy a chance, and for Triple H to defy his all conquering image in order to put something over.

2.35am

PPV filler next, as Finlay beats The Great Khali in a slow one. Basically the referee was confiscating a shillelagh when Hornswaggle interfered, low blowed Khali, handed Finlay a second shillelagh. He bashes Khali with it, wins and no-one cares.

I hope they are going to go somewhere with the Hornswaggle thing, because he is all over TV and it is not really that entertaining. I can only think by giving him TV time and Finlay a PPV win, that they are building to something. We’ll see.

2.44am

Lillian has just finished the intros, and we are ready for the first of the two World title matches. Seems I was wrong about the main event. Jericho is definitely not getting a huge reaction.

3.00am

Hmm. Well, to contradict my last statement, during the match the atmosphere certainly improved. By 10 minutes in the crowd were very pro Jericho, and there were some significant near-falls and big moves. However, that really was a bullshit finish. It IS possible to put people, and indeed keep people, over without having to resort to interference DQs.

I also have a problem with consistencies with the realities of the system, which is supposed to be based on realism. Firstly, Jericho would not warrant a title shot having been out for two years, he would need to earn it. But since he had one, as he actually won the match, surely he should get another shot. Actually, come to think about it, by that logic, didn’t Ric Flair pin the WWE champion? That would make him number one contender wouldn’t it?

Oh, I give up trying to find logic. Putting that aside, I assume that what we’ll now see is JBL and Jericho in a war of words, leading to JBL costing Jericho the Royal Rumble, and then a build up to a match at Mania, since we are told JBL wants to return to the ring.

3.16am

Beth v Mickie has just ended, and it was standard fare really. Beth wins, it was never really in doubt. Video for the triple threat now airing. Not sure about this one. I don’t really dig triple threats, they always seem to drag a bit, and they lose some realism, because one guy seems to take a powder after a clothesline they would normally bounce up from, but instead lie on the floor for two minutes.
However, there have been some crackers (HBK v HHH v Benoit springs to mind) so I’ll give it a chance.

3.42am

You know what, I liked it. It was far from a classic, but Edge takes the title AND manages to further his character. I like the ‘ultimate opportunist” idea and gives him a gimmick of being smart enough to outdo bigger rivals like Batista and Taker.
Folks, I am exhausted, it’s been a long day for me. Not a bad PPV, but without being a classic. Lookin forward to Rumble, and I’ll be building to that very soon. Keep checking back, I’ve got a few surprises in store before the first PPV of

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Raw 15th Anniversary: was I supposed to bring a gift?

We open Raw with an amalgamation of all the previous theme music and opening graphics.

Vince over-eggs the power walk pudding followed by Shane and Steph. No Linda though. Matching colours and everything.

“welcome everyone to Monday Night Raw” in patented Vince style. He says that Linda has a gastro intestinal infection. Vince calls in the photographer but is interrupted by Hornswaggle to a surprisingly big pop. “Hornswaggle” chant as he hugs his Dad’s leg.

Vince tells Shane and Steph he loves them. He dismissively says it to Honry as well. But then he loves all of us too.

Vince wants the family to say “Monday” on three. 1..........2...........

Time to play the Game.

Triple H interrupts to a major pop and “Triple H” chant. He tells us that the fans are smart, they know what’s going on, he feels part of the family. “Sup Steph” he adds.

Trips wants to bring out the people that Vince has “loved” – starting he says, with someone representing the current crop of divas. Melina. “I did not have sex with that Women” “whatever, Clinton”

Representing the past, the original Diva Sunny. And she looks hot! Horny hugs and gets himself some.

Next up is Mae Young. I struggle to pay attention to this, I’m still thinking about Sunny.

Mae avoids Horny, but dry humps Vince, before Melina, Sunny and Trips pull her off. Vince says it was at Moolah’s funeral and had had a lot to drink. At this point, Shane can’t take any more. He’s outta here. Vince tells Steph that he was thinking of her Mom. Trips tell Vince that “anyone can do the pretty ones”
Trips asks any employee that may have been mistaken as a women to come out.

Cue Finkel, Big Dick Johnson, Brisco, Patterson, Bastion Booger and Knuckleball Swartz (thats Lombardi) – they enter to Vince singing at the Slammys.

Trips introduces all of them, but stops at Knuckleball. He asks who he is, and Scwartz tells him. Trips says that Brooklyn Brawler must be busy.

Steph tells Vince that he has embarrassed them enough, and she will embarrass him. She kisses Triple H passionately. He says “see you at home”

Vince say “I hate you” and storms off. Triple H apologises to Hornswaggle, and says if only there was someone who could make him happy just by the sound of his music. Cue the Godfather, with about a dozen hos. Great line from JR “King, I think I see your new ex-wife”

Err, interesting opening segment.

After a break is the Ladder match for the IC title.

Quick, back and forth opening, and Jeff eventually dropkicks Carlito from the apron onto a (hopefully gimmicked) ladder. Jeff Begins to climb, then Carlito Springboards from the ropes to the ladder, hits Hardy with a couple of punches, then sunset flips, over the ladder, over Jeff and hits a modified powerbomb. “Holy Shit” chants take us to commercial..........

We come back to find Carlito down, ladder in the corner. Jeff climbs to the top, vaults the ladder, but misses the attempted legdrop.

Carlito traps a Hardy leg in the ladder and stomps it. He fetches another ladder and drops it on the first, still containing Jeff’s leg. He then stacks both ladders, and slams Jeff onto the ladders, leg first.

Carly begins to climb a ladder, but Jeff is up. He beats Carly off it, but Carlito is back on top, setting up the ladder in the corner. Jeff is really selling the leg and Carlito lays him on the ladder. As Carly runs in, Jeff counters and back drops Carlito into the ladder. Very stiff.

Jeff hits a swanton. Well, I think he was supposed to hit it. He didn’t get much. JR calls the hit but Lawler tries to cover. Jeff climbs, Carlito pulls him off. Jeff goes for a Twist of Fate, but Carly counters into a Backstabber on the ladder. Both men climb, Carlito gets one hand on the gold, but Jeff pushes him off, onto the ropes. Jeff takes the belt and wins one of the best Raw matches of 2007

Things to take from the match – Jeff sold a leg injury big time, so don’t be surprised to see this play a part in him losing to Triple H, but having an excuse. Also, Carlito sold like a madman and took some crazy bumps. That looked like a display to prove his worth to the company to me.

Grisham talks to Heartbreak Mountain, Shawn Michaels, w/ extra white teeth. Michaels says that he can’t remember what he was doing 15 years ago because it’s a little sketchy. He says that Mr Kennedy-Kennedy (that’s what he called him)did something last week which was not a Raw highlight, but if he couldn’t interact with the fake Marty Jannetty, what will he do with the real one?

Jannetty then jumps into shot, thanks Shawn for inviting him (I think), challenges Kennedy (I think) and then says he has to go get ready (I think). To be honest, I couldn’t understand much, but its Ken Kenndy v Marty Jannetty later tonight...............I think.

Next follows a pretty cool compilation of some great Raw moments. Too many for me to recap, but it was pretty slick, with some moments I had forgotten.

Santino now in the ring with Maria. He says that he is the future and has issued an open challenge to anyone. The man who answers is.............

RVD. No seriously. To begin with, I couldn’t remember the theme music, and when I recalled it, it took an eternity for the man himself to show up. But he did, and he wiped out Marella in about 30 seconds after a frog splash. I have no idea if this means RVD is back for good, but man was it god to see him. Wish it had have been for longer.

More commercials, but before that an Evolution teaser airs. They will be reuniting after the break.

Evolution are on their way out, led by Ric Flair, but he is in his gear. Ric would wear an expensive suit for a reunion, wouldn’t he? Trips follows, and both so far are wearing Evolution shirts. Flair and Trips shake hands, followed by Trips water spit. Thats still gross, I don’t care what anyone says.

Next out is Batista, also in an Evolution jersey to a lukewarm pop. Not so many Smackdown viewers in, then. Hug for Flair, and hug for Trips. Screw continuity.

And now here is Orton. No Evolution shirt for him, as King says. Orton disassociates himself from the others, cutting a promo from the top of the ramp. Orton cues VT after he won the title but got dropped by the other three.

Verbal jousting follows, and Orton says that he doesn’t want to be remembered for Evolution, but for Rated RKO with this man. Edge comes out. Batista tells him to bring it to the ring, and Flair challenges them to find another partner. Orton says he thought Ric would say that, and introduces their partner, Umaga. Guess we now know why they were on the gear – dah, I mean in their gear.

After break the match is underway. Flair and Edge tangle, as King tells us that if Flair’s team loses that doesn’t mean he has to retire. That stip is only for singles matches. Umaga tags in and applies a nerve hold, and Ric...........yawns? I don’t think that was meant to look like a yawn, more a cry in pain, but it was funny. It is late for a man of Ric’s age to still be up though.

Trips and Batista eventually hit the ring to hit stereo spinebusters on Orton and Edge. Umaga enters, knocks down the ref and we have a DQ. Orton and Edge bail, and Umaga gets a ball shot from Naitch, Spear from Big Dave, and a Pedigree from the Game. Evolution stand tall as we see Jeff Hardy applying ice backstage.

More flashbacks. This time all the memories are entitled “road rage”. Damn, the WWE have spent a fortune hiring and wrecking vehicles over the years.

Backstage, we see Hornswaggle bothering Mickie James and a slimmed down (so slimmed down I wasn’t sure it was her until Regal mentioned her name) Molly Holly, until RAW GM pulls him away and books him in a rematch with Khali. And Finlay got his ticket from Ireland cancelled by sheer misfortune. So Hornswaggle will be saved, but by whom.................?

Now let me tell you who, brother. No time at all into the match, and the Hulkster (in nWo black and white, not red and yellow) is out to face the man who he should have faced at Mania. Khali nails a few blows, but Hogan Hulks up. Hogan hits Khali to the outside, and then hits an Asai Moonsault on Khali.

Just kidding, but he does shake Hornswaggle’s hand, and basically the leprechaun is the new Eugene. Hogan pimps WWE as the greatest company in the world, and says there is nothing better than being in the ring. He also plugs the new superstars, and says never say never......but does a Savage impression. Odd.

He pimps American Gladiators, and does a few poses with Hornswaggle. Always cool to have Hogan back – I think we’ll see him at Mania.

A package of old and newer DX moments airs and reminds me how very one dimensional their humour is. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes they are funny, but you need to be in the right mood.

Yay, Fink is in the ring. He is introducing a 15 man battle royal. Is that what everybody wants? Well here is Al Snow. Followed by Bart Gunn, and did you expect to get through the evening without seeing Doink.

And Barry Darsow is here, with mask and without hair, as the Repo Man. Next is Steve Blackman, who looks exactly the same. Pete Gas is next, from the Posse. Hey, and Mr Backlund! TNA rejects now?

After just seven entrants, it’s an advert break again. Dammit, that means I’ll have to do some fast recapping after the break. Who the hell is going to be so uninteresting that Bart Gunn got higher billing?
Well, we are back, and we now have (wait for it) Gangrel on his way, with Skinner, The Goon, IRS and Flash Funk. I make that 12.

Scotty 2 Hotty is next, followed by the Anvil! Yes, the WWE does have a Hart. Well, a Neidhart. Anorexic Sarge is next. You didn’t think we’d get through the without Slaughter did you?

Next, we are backstage, and its a familiar knock on the door. Followed by the menacing walk to the ring complete with pyro (of a sort) Yes, its Gillberg.

Well, he didn’t last long, and is eliminated, closely followed by Backlund. Doink is slung by Al Snow, who then ousts Gangrel. The Snowman is then sent flying by Flash Funk, before Pete Gas goes. Bart Gunn is gone too, before Funk and Blackman eliminate each other. Repo throws Goon and we down to six.

Neidhart gets rid of Goon, but is done in by Skinner. Four left and three still work for WWE.

Scotty counters an IRS briefcase, and Worms Irwin. Skinner slings Scotty, but walks into a Cobra Clutch. Keirn charges Sarge and is thrown out, but IRS ousts Slaugher. IRS celebrates and is joined by......Ted DiBiase! The Million Dollar Man joins his old partner mid ring for a Money Inc reunion.

No wait, it’s a ruse. Ted gives Irwin a couple of bucks. IRS puts it in his briefcase and hops over the top rope. Seems Ted bought the win. He gives the old “Everyone’s got a price” line, and his trademark laugh. I’m not sure how many in the audience got the reference, mind you.

After a montage of people slapping others (mostly McMahons, it has to be said) we see Eric Bischoff strolling backstage. Seems we are going to see who kicked the show we are watching’s ass 86 straight weeks.

Eric, now very Grey, talks to us about how much it means to him to be back on Raw. He gets very emotional, but soon turns on the people. He wants them to stand and give him a round of applause, but is interrupted. Seems someone will Save Us.

Jericho seems happy to confront his old boss. Who, by the way, fired Jericho a couple of years ago. Fairly uninspired promo leads to Jericho eventually smacking Bischoff in the face, and before he can apply the Walls, Orton is out. Jericho cuts him of, and applies the Liontamer to the champ, getting a visual tap-out. You know what, that was the champion and the number one contender, a segment basically aimed at hyping Sunday’s main event – and it’s the weakest on the show so far.

Hang on a minute. Another advert break, and that’s like the 6th advert for SatNav during the show. Why do they think wrestling fans have a poor sense of direction?

JR asks us how we can have 15th anniversary celebration without the American Dream? Err, how about because he has been on about 6 episodes out of the 750-odd? I think Tekno Team 2000 and Well Dunn were on more than that.

Cody Rhodes (ah, that’s why Dusty is here) and Hardcore Holly are here for a Tag Title match with Cade and Murdoch. Dream says that he is proud to “stand in this very ring” – when he is sat down outside.

And, bah gawd, Cody and Bob take the straps. I’d say they’ll lose them back on Sunday, and that this match was basically a squash, doing very little for C&M. Bit weak, frankly.

Anyway, The Merkin Dream celebrates with Cody and Bob..........well, with Cody, and we have a package about celebrities that have featured on Raw.

After the break, we get a Divas package, and afterwards it’s Jillian, in the ring to sing “Twelve days of Christmas.” She gets to day two, before Trish Stratus interrupts. JR calls her Canada’s finest export to Raw. Definitely no Bret, then.

Trish says hi to a view people, then runs down Jillian’s singing. Trish is now pencil thin, and as Jillian verbally retaliates, Lita interjects. Jillian urges Lita to hit Trish, but Lita rounds on Jillian too, slating her voice. Jillian sings again, but gets a beatdown, which is made all the better by the microphone she is wearing. You know, Jillian is a fantastic heel.

Next up we have a montage of some of the alleged funniest moments ever, without actually including any more than 2 funny ones. I’ll give them Foley catching Rocky with the “it doesn’t matter” line, and anything Edge and Christian was reeking of awesomeness, but where was Jericho’s original debut? Where was Kane’s impression of Hogan and Rock? Where was the Dating Game? Where was anything involving Regal with Tajiri?

Next we have a package of Raw weddings, which is being viewed backstage by Lita. She is joined by Kane, and they exchange a few difficult seconds before Simmons delivers his obligatory gimmick line. Man, that would have been cooler if Matt and Edge would have joined the picture.

Kennedy is out here next, ready to face Marty Jannetty. Marty emerges and some of the kids in the audience think that Billy Kidman has had a breakdown, before their older brothers and uncles explain that Marty have more talent in his little finger than many folk have in their entire career.

Anyway, a reasonably dull match ensues, with Marty telegraphing everything so much that Kennedy has time to hit the ropes, call down his mic, do a 20 minute promo, run down Scott Hall, shill some HBK merchandise, verbally joust with the King, run down Scott Hall again, and replace the microphone before countering.

Anyway, Marty manfully battles on, but Ken ultimately wins, and beats down Marty post match, before HBK makes the save. Kennedy, though, regains the upper hand, before being interrupted by The Game.

Seems like we get a DX reunion for the first time in, what? 4 weeks?

Vince needs to come through to save this show, because it’s flagging after a great start. He is in the ring, and is about to reveal the greatest Raw superstar of all time.

And, shock of shocks, he reads out “Vincent Kennedy McMahon”. Ooh, didn’t see that coming. Screeching tyres signal Mick Foley arrived......wait, no, it s Mankind. Mick has the dirty suit, mask and sock combo going on, and as Vince tries to get rid of him, he receives a Socko Claw.

BONG! Foley hightails it as he hears the music of The Undertaker, who does the full entrance towards the Chairman. And then...........chokeslam. Pretty sloppy one too.

Austin arrives next, with Vince still flat out Steve gets on the stick to praise Raw. He gets a couple of beers, and waits for Vince to get up to share one, before applying the Stunner. Austin then says that the greatest stars on Raw are the fans.

H e then invites everyone else down, and the back empties to join Austin. Seriously, a weak ending to what started off as a fantastic show and petered out to very little.

I don’t know whether I enjoyed this show or not. I'll tell you soon.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Does The Nature Boy still have the Flair for the gold?

After several months in the wilderness, amid rumours of a falling out with Vince McMahon and his impending retirement, Ric Flair this week returned to WWE TV.

It was on Monday Night Raw in his home town of Charlotte, North Carolina , and the anticipation level was very high. Some believed that The Nature Boy may quit the wrestling industry for good in the ring in Charlotte, others thought that the 16-time World Champion was beginning a major storyline building to Wrestlemania.

They may both be correct.

His in-ring promo really was classic Flair. Ric has always been one of the best promo guys in the business, and he was on top form when he began to give a solemn heartfelt speech abut how the fans had been good to him, and he was having increasing thoughts about hanging up his boots, trunks and robe for good.

And just as it seemed this was the last we would see of the limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss-stealing, wheelin’-dealin’ son of a gun, he suddenly burst into life, stating he would never retire.

In an exclusive interview with my colleague Simon earlier this month (click here), Ric stated that he felt he should get more time on the microphone. Why anyone would doubt this is beyond us, but if they needed convincing, then Monday night would have done the job.

Vince McMahon, though, interrupted Naitch, and basically set up what appears to be the long term plan for Flair. When he loses a match, he retires. This instantly through him into a Raw main event with Randy Orton, which gave Flair a win in front of his own fans, kept his career going, and nicely progressed the Orton/Jericho programme.

So where will this whole storyline take Ric Flair? Is he on for a 17th World Title? Signs indicate that his final match will be at Wrestlemania, accompanied by rumours that he’d be inducted in the Hall of Fame’s class of 2008.

Wouldn’t it be incredible for the two to combine? Imagine a scenario where Ric recreates 1992 by producing an amazing performance to win the Royal Rumble, setting up a title shot. He picks as his opponent Triple H, who by then has turned heel, having turned on Shawn Michaels. The clues are already there; Triple H told Jeff Hardy on Raw that he (Trips) has turned on every partner he’s ever had, and Kennedy referred to Michaels being unable to co-exist with another for long.

So DX will have disbanded for good, The Game will have gained the WWE title, and Flair wins the Rumble to earn his shot against his former Evolution cohort. If Flair wins, he’s the champ, if he loses, he must retire.

This then gives a plethora of options. The expectation might be that Flair is to retire, so a swerve seeing him winning the belt will be hugely received, and he can do similar to Trish Stratus, and end on a title winning note. On the other hand, after a hard fought, rollercoaster, thrilling match, Triple H wins (cleanly). Offers the stage up to Flair, who celebrates his career in the ring on the biggest stage of all.

Then gets Pedigreed.

Triple H then becomes a bigger heel than ever, boasting that he has now retired Mick Foley and Ric Flair. This leads to the return of John Cena for the build up to a huge feud between him and Triple H which was originally planned for Mania.

Coming away from fantasy booking the WWE (if only it was that easy), we have to look at whether Flair is up to one last ride on Space Mountain.

Don’t forget, the man is 58 years old. Although his matches are still watchable, they are not the classics of days gone by.

On the other hand, the reaction he gets from audiences is still up there with anyone. His aforementioned promo skills are second to none. More importantly, the idea which has brought him back, which was reportedly pitched to WWE by Stone Cold Steve Austin, if manufactured correctly, from here to Wrestlemania, could turn Raw into a must-see show once again.

Flair v Triple H, or indeed anyone, for the WWE Title with the prospect of his career being on the line is a mouth-watering prospect. Not just for the event itself, but for the build up to this huge occasion, should it happen.

As a Flair mark, I really hope it does.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Will the WWE crack the code for attracting ratings?

So did you watch Raw? Did you break the code? I didn’t. I thought it was going to be the return of either Nathan Jones, Steve Blackman or Taka Michinoku. As it was, it was some bloke called Chris Jericho. Never heard of him. What a disappointment.

Seriously though, Y2J is back, and he did so in typically flamboyant style last night on Raw. But was it an anti climax? The campaign, however you look at it, was a first; a very unique method of hinting at someone’s appearance. However, the proof of it’s success will now come in the form of the ratings.

If the rating is significantly up this week, then the viral campaign has done its first job. If not (and for the record, I think it will go up, but not by much and not for more than a week or so) then they should be looking to put into effect a plan which at Survivor Series seemed to be played out a bit. Namely, interesting TV.

Wow, now there is a radical concept, huh? What I mean, really, is that the best way of getting people back is continually produce interesting, gripping and surprising TV. I’m not asking for Vince Russo-style “Crash TV” where all kinds of nonsensical swerves take place merely in the hope of shocking people, but I mean interesting storylines, matches and booked angles where you don’t know the destination.

I thought Survivor Series was a cracking PPV, for what its worth. The opening ECW title match was a belter, the Tri-branded Survivor Series elimination tag was full of star power and although Triple H’s team going over was predictable, the match was good, and they look like they are using The Game’s star status to give Jeff Hardy a rub. Orton v HBK was good without being outstanding, but I had no idea who would win, and I loved the ending, which made sense within the storyline. It gave Orton a clean victory (and HBK on Raw said that the better man won) but didn’t bury Shawn because of the Superkick stipulation. Taker v Batista didn’t grip me, but for two big men they’ve had a good run of great matches, but I don’t mind not having a clean finish if you have a great impactful shock appearance like we saw form Edge.

Speaking of which, do you remember I said that Batista being put over by the Deadman surprised me a bit? I think Edge and Undertaker should have a long feud in which Edge is allowed at least one victory. Undertaker is in a position now where he should be helping groom the future. To Michaels’ credit, I think he elevated John Cena and is doing so with Orton.

Back to idea of improving ratings with good TV. Think about it this way. Who knew that Chris Jericho was coming back? Well, the people who read the news sites, the people who watch Raw and deciphered the code. The people who watch anyway, basically. Sure, you’ll probably get an extra couple make sure they watch rather than being the floating viewer that they are. But if Raw next week is no good they’ll stop watching .

Keep swerves like Edge returning to hit Taker. Keep unexpected twists like Finlay interfering with Hornswaggle. Keep associations like Triple H and Hardy. Keep entertaining promos. Mix it all up and what will happen is that the show will become very good, and the core audience will enjoy it more. Do it over a consistent period of time and the PPVs will get better on a regular basis. Advertising one big match for a show then not really delivering big style might attract a few short term, but will turn people off long term. A consistently good show will keep people watching, and the floating viewers might stay, and some of those who used to tune in may get hooked again.

If the TV improves and the ratings improve, that will be the true second coming.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Just some random thoughts......

We’re at the halfway point (ish) between Cyber Sunday and Survivor Series, and since I promised you my thoughts on the last PPV, I thought I’d combine that with some thoughts about the current product leading up to Survivor Series.

The concept of Cyber Sunday, and formerly Taboo Tuesday, is a good one, but the execution is less stellar, as only the most foolhardy and ‘green’ of WWE fans will believe that they have very much influence. There was really only one surprise in the voting, and that was a largely unwelcome one. The Miz was never a very credible number one contender to CM Punk’s ECW title, so any mystique as to whether Punk would drop the strap was gone. If Morrison had won the vote, it may have been a different story.

There were two BS finishes to championship matches. Randy Orton was intentionally disqualified in his defence against the fans’ choice of Shawn Michaels, and we were robbed (through no fault of WWE’s) of what would have likely been a great contest, when Kane replaced Matt Hardy in the US title match.

I can’t say whether Hardy would have taken the belt from the Ballin’ Smackdown superstar, but whichever match was chosen – be it wrestling, boxing or MMA – would have likely been a good’un. These two have been the strongest pairing on any brand in the last few months.

The highlight for many will have been Batista going over the Undertaker in the main event. The fans choice of Stone Cold Steve Austin as ref was again very much a lame duck selection, as although he had some physical interaction with Mick Foley and JBL before the bell rung, he had no bearing on the match itself.

Although I have been impressed with the whole Batista v Undertaker storyline, particularly the Pay Per View matches, stretching back to Wrestlemania and beyond, I thought the decision to put Batista over so strongly was strange.

I’ll concede that the way the match was put together worked extremely well, making Batista look amazingly strong rather than Taker looking weak. However, I can’t help but feel that Undertaker losing cleanly could have been saved for someone else. I’d be delighted if someone could prove me wrong, but I don’t think Taker lost cleanly (I mean pin or submission, no interference) since No Mercy 2006, when he lost to Kurt Angle. Prior to that, I can only think of Brock Lesnar that’s been allowed to cleanly defeat the Deadman in the last few years.

To me, Batista is as big, popularity-wise, as he will get. In fact, I think in his initial run with belt after he beat Triple H he was the most over wrestler in the company, but that was his first run as a babyface. Now that he is a more established name, his star has faded a little. Plus, let us not forget that he is no spring chicken. Big Dave is 38, the same age as Triple H.

I would have thought that Undertaker would have been better served putting over Edge, Kennedy or Orton, or someone like that. Look at the face to heel comparison on the roster: (Ignore injuries)

For the face side of things, you’re talking Cena, Lashley, HBK, Triple H, Mysterio, Undertaker, Batista, and Punk. Heels of note are Orton, Edge, Kennedy, Umaga, Khali, Henry, Finlay, Big Daddy V.

I might have missed a couple out, but essentially I think you’ll agree that the balance is out of proportion. Of the heels named, several really are not up to it in terms of putting on a great match. There of course is a big name to come back in Mr Jericho.

So you’d be looking at nine high level faces looking for opponents, and finding the numbers coming up well short. I think The Game may well be overdue a heel turn, possibly for one last run with HBK (I’d say after Wrestlemania) but unless they push Kennedy or Edge to the moon, they are struggling to balance the books in terms of the good v the bad guys.

Speaking of Jericho, one can’t help but feel he’ll be back any time now, with the night after Survivor Series being touted as the most likely date. But with whom does he feud? Will they take a gamble and thrust him straight back into the title picture? Or will they offer up a midcarder for him to squash first. Maybe a Royal Rumble win is on the cards? Armageddon follows Survivor Series by 4 weeks, and then it’s a six week gap until The Rumble. That could very well be the destination for a major Jericho triumph.

As someone said (it may have been Chad Kroeger) - they say that a hero will save us..........

Friday, 2 November 2007

Rob on Tour: Birmingham, October 2007

Apologies for the lack of updates as of late. I was indeed at the Raw and Smackdown tapings in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago, and I’ll give you some observations in just a second.

I’ve been on the road around the country for the past couple of weeks, so I haven’t had much opportunity to clock in with you, especially for Cyber Sunday. However, it was a hell of day when I got back home with two weeks of Raw and a Pay Per View to watch (I don’t always bother with Smackdown). I strapped myself in for a 7 hours WWE marathon, and waited to see the return of Y2J...........

Well, that went well.

Thoughts to follow, but let me give you the brief highlights of my time in Brum.

I got up there on the Monday, with the exciting prospect of having some interview time with some WWE superstars. I was attending the shows, as in April at Earl’s Court, as a guest of Sun Wrestling head honcho Simon ‘lilsboy’ Rothstein, but he was otherwise engaged on that Monday morning, despatching me instead to get some words of wisdom with the guys, rumoured to be Jeff Hardy, William Regal and Layla from Extreme Exposé.

It was not to be. Instead of the Intercontinental champion and the UK’s own GM of Raw, I joined Sky Sports’ Richard Parr and a group of Swedish journos in a kind of mini-press conference with Raw Diva Maria Kanellis and newby Cody Rhodes.

Cody seemed a little pensive and would have been happier to have been elsewhere, but I am pleased to report that Maria is a beautiful in person as she appears on screen, and a lovely person to boot.

After getting a few little gems from the superstars (including an exclusive on Maria’s relationship with CM Punk) we reconvened in a sort of lobby area, just in time to see tag team champions Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch meeting a greeting some lucky youngsters, who believe were form the Make a Wish charity. The champs posed for many pictures and came across as two cracking guys. Murdoch in person, by the way, looked much leaner than on TV.

Simon arrived in due course, and after a catch up beer or two with Rich, his brother Matt who is a very talented magician (check out http://www.mattparro.com/) and the Daily Star’s Patrick Lennon, who took great joy in explaining how well his 45-minute interview with William Regal had gone!

We headed to the show, and found ourselves sat directly behind 100 metre runner Jason Gardner. I don’t know whether Jason is a big WWE fan, but this Raw taping would not have converted him if he wasn’t.

Nowhere near the quality of the Earl’s Court show which came shortly after a strong Wrestlemania and featured a 50-minute John Cena v Shawn Michaels, the highlights of the night were seeing the late, great Davey Boy Smith’s son Harry in action (albeit a dark march), and a surprisingly strong Brian Kendrick v Highlander Rory contest.

We retired to the plush Hotel in which the office staff of WWE UK were staying, as I made it my mission to inform new employee, the lovely Claire, exactly what was right and what was wrong with the WWE. I’ll let you know when my new ideas get implemented!

We managed to gain the knowledge of the hotel at which the superstars were staying, and as it happened it was basically next door to our own lodgings. We had a wander by, and saw Ken Kennedy, Jeff Hardy, Gene Snitsky, Umaga (sans face paint) and Santino Marella hanging outside the hotel’s front door.

Simon interviewed Mr. Kennedy recently and Jeff Hardy not so long ago, so got chatting and they invited us to join them for a drink. Unfortunately, the bouncer (who was only doing his job, please don’t hurt me) wouldn’t grant us access as we were not staying at the hotel.

The following morning, however, we were having breakfast at a Cafe when last night’s debutant Harry Smith walked in. Mr Rothstein once again declared a past interview, and we were able to wish Harry all the best for being called up to the roster. It’s good to see him on TV now, as DH Smith, and I predict a big future for him. Another nice, seemingly down to earth guy.

We headed to the arena with the prospect of Rey Mysterio and CM Punk being our interview guests on Smackdown/ECW day, but again hopes were dashed when the, still creditable but slightly lacking star power, duo of John Morrison and Matt Striker were introduced to us.
We got 15 minutes or so with each man. Morrison seemed keen to conduct the interview in character, but we managed to talk him out of it quickly. He was a very low-key individual after the transition, somewhat at odds with his on-screen persona.

The most controversial moment of the two days came during this interview, when Simon enquired about the former Tough Enough winner’s alleged breach of the wellness policy, but was quickly interrupted by the presiding WWE official, who simply told us “No Comment”. Interesting.

Matt Striker was a great interview, except for the fact that we had nothing to ask him. The WWE policy on who we were granted interview time was very strange. You’d think that being on tour in their third biggest market outside of the US and Canada, something they only do twice a year maximum, would be an opportunity to allow us time to speak with some of the top names, such as Batista, Orton, Mysterio or Punk.

I can understand the likes of Triple H, HBK or Undertaker being held back from scrutiny, I suppose, but surely a guy with bigger profile than Matt Striker could have been found for us.
That said, he was a heck of a guy, and fun to talk to. I’d love to see him translate the charisma he showed to us to a larger scale. He would make a great Colour Commentator some day.

The show that night was marginally more exciting than the previous evening’s offerings, but by very little. The Smackdown/ECW ‘talent trade’ is just a way of trying to cover the cracks of a paper thin roster, and seeing Kane and Big Daddy V repeatedly is not quite like seeing Austin or Rock in their heyday, is it?

Possibly the coolest moment of the trip was waiting for Morrison and Striker to show up. We were position basically in a hospitality unit at the top of the stand, awaiting the ECW stars’ arrival. Through the blinds in windows, we were able to look upon the ring and view developmental talent working out under the watchful eye of various agents like Michael Hayes and Arn Anderson. Wrestlers like Elijah Burke and MVP were working with the likes of the Major Brothers and Drew Galloway, and you could see a host of wrestlers chatting away with each other.

I had only been talking to Claire from WWE about how the backstage experience, getting to see what goes on behind the scenes must be very enlightening, and she said yes, but I’d likely never see it. It was nice, even through glass from 100 feet away, to get a little glimpse of what goes on.
I’ll give you my thoughts on Cyber Sunday in due course, and will make a concerted attempt to update this page a little more often.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to keep checking The Sun’s Wrestling section at the link on the left of the page. I’ve done a piece about Santino Marella which should be posted in due course.

Have a great weekend,
Rob

Monday, 8 October 2007

I've had a revelation

So it turns out that the new "Jericho" promo featured the lines

REV_22:12

and

2ND_COMING

The natural reaction is to think this refers to the book of Revelation in the new testament of the Bible.

Basically, the story of this book is that the antichrist takes of the earth, before Jesus Christ returns. That is known as the 2nd coming, and there is your reference.

But wait, there is more.

The Book of Revelation is basically a long build up to two things happening. At the end of Revelation an event occurs. Call it the end of the world, call it the apocalypse, call it...........Armageddon?

Armageddon this years takes place on December 16, the last PPV of the year. Could we have a long to this?

Or how about the signifiant symbolism in Revelation? Well, you have the Antichrist, symboised by the number 666. The antichrist is accompanied by a false prophet. One who seems positive but in reality is not.

Triple H anyone? Due for a heel turn, maybe the returning Jericho will return to slay the false prophet Triple H joining up the Antichrist..........Vince McMahon?

Also in this particular book of the bible are the representations of the forces leading t the destruction of man.

Namely, the Four Horsemen. Could there be one more big run for the Horsemen, and therefore Flair, maybe including Jericho?

Its all fun and games, isn't in, but maybe we are looking into this too seriously.

Revelation 22:12 says the following:

"Behold, I come quickly. My reward is with me, to repay to each man according to his work."

Maybe "I come quickly" refers to Jericho's imminent return.
Maybe "I come quickly" refers to Flair and the Horsemen

Or maybe "Behold, I come quickly" is just Stephanie's subtle hint to us all that she and the Game have some marital problems.

Hmm.

No Mercy live notes and reaction

01.02am

No Mercy is underway, and after a opening video sequence featuring Cena, Orton and a dove (religious symbolism, maybe another allusion to Jericho?) here comes Mr McMahon and William Regal.

Straight to business with the ‘Cena is out’ announcement. Usual mixed reaction.
Vince says he is going to give us what we want.......

A huge moment follows. A huge “Y2J” chant erupts in the arena. Vince says, in direct response “I’m not going to give you that.” Hmm, interesting.

A double blow in the opening minutes, as Vince now awards the belt to Orton. See that makes so little sense it’s unbelievable. But he did say there will be a title match. Meanwhile, as I ponder, Randy parades the belt to the fans, and gets a mixed reaction, probably more positive that Cena has been getting.

Regal tells Orton that he can choose his opponent. Oh right, that sounds realistic. Can you imagine that in Boxing? “Here you are Muhammed Ali, you’re the champ. Who do you want to face? Ken Norton, Lister, Foreman, Frazier?”

“Fuck, no. I’ll take on a shitty cruiserweight.”

Oh, shit, its going to be Hornswaggle isn’t it?

01.12am

After Orton rags on Cena for being injured, he states that no-one can come close to him and is interrupted by...............?

Brooklyn Brawler!

No, I’m sorry, it’s Triple H.

Triple H basically asks Orton for match, gets refused, then turns to Vince to cut a “Roget Promo”. Boy does Trips get some use out of that Thesaurus. Let’s see an excerpt from it.

Coward: yellow, spineless, gutless, no balls, weak.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley: Triple H, HHH, The Game, The King of Kings, The Cerebral Assassin.

Weapon: Sledgehammer..............I’m out.

01.18am

The shit is on! Remember the slow build to Wrestlemania with Triple H and Orton? They lasted 14 minutes. Vince caves to Triple H’s ‘mind games’. It’s Orton v Triple H for the belt. Common sense dictates this will be a count out or DQ finish. Why? Well, otherwise, why give the belt to Orton in the first place? If he is to lose clean, then they may as well have asked Orton to choose his opponent in the match for the vacant title, rather than give him it and then have him pick a contender. (which, of course, he didn’t anyway.)

01.22am

JR pimps Trips as a ten-time champion. Which makes me think of Ric Flair. Maybe part of Flair’s last big run, and the real history making moment, will be a Flair return, and indeed heel turn, costing The Game?

01.30am

So what do I know? On about 12 minutes, Triple H with a schoolboy rollup and The Game is the champ. This match was outstandingly booked. I know Chicago crowds are almost always hot, but they were so into this it was unbelievable. The psychology was terrific with Orton playing the battling champ shocked at the match being made, Triple H as the rampaging face on a mission.

Orton sold like a madman here, almost as if the guy he was facing was going to be his boss someday.

Oh, right.

Anyway, terrific opening half hour. But what about Umaga?

01.36am

After the unannounced title match, here comes a “bonus match”. Six man tag action coming our way, and its seems that Jeff Hardy and Londrick are together once again. Out come Cade & Murdoch, and they announce their new and improved partner. Mr Kennedy.

It seems that the Tag Team Champions realised that their former, short lived partner, Shelton Benjamin, has won like one match in two years.

This should be a good’un, and surely will be a lead in to a Hardy/Kennedy programme.

01.39am

After chanting for Y2J earlier, the Chicago crowd begin this match with a chant for their hometown boy CM Punk.

01.42am

Brian Kendrick just did the most original fall to the outside I’ve seen in ages. As Kendrick ran the ropes, Trevor Murdoch actually stood on the bottom rope and lifted the top. Brilliant stuff.

01.44am

Lawler mentions the ‘Stein. 44 minutes to beat next time, King.

01.48am

Another cracker ends with a fantastic series of moves to end it. Kennedy off the top with a Green Bay Plunge to London. Terrific 6-man match with some of the best talent in the company at the moment, in terms of character and quality.

01.50am

Backstage, the obligatory cross-over is here, with Triple H and Batista, now Smackdown and Raw champs respectively, with a history between them of course. Generic waffle ensues, before Triple H walks into Vinny Mac. Basically, Vince tells The Game that he’ll still face Umaga tonight, and its for the belt. Yes, score one for continuity.

01.52am

ECW title match is on. Pepsi v Peptic Ulcer.

01.55am

Well that was quick and pointless. Punk wins by DQ after a weak-ass interference from Matt Striker. Big Daddy Mabel destroys Punk after the match.

So after a great start, the Chicago crowd are simply not allowed to enjoy their hero in action. The aftermath of watching replays and seeing Punk stagger away form the ring actually goes longer than the match. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad this wasn’t a long match and all, but that was staggeringly pointless.

01.59am

For some reason, they are plugging the MVP/Matt hardy combo facing The Brothers of Destruction next week on Smackdown.

02.01am

Oh, that’s why. Another competition. Tazz is in the ring, for a pizza competition between MVP and Matt Hardy. I’d criticise the pointlessness, but here comes Melina and Maria, who make anything worth tuning in for. So, I’ll hold back my instincts to complain.

02.03am

MVP is very confident it seems? Wearing white to a pizza contest?

02.08am

MVP and Hardy jaw jack for a while, and Tazz shuts them up. He doesn’t want them talking tough, thats not extreme. He wants them to eat pizza. Tazz, you fought Sabu, you went through a ring with Bam Bam Bigelow. They better be paying you well for you to be commentating on a pizza eating comp.

02.12am

Yeah, MVP and Hardy are entertaining, and this segment could have been worse, but ECW got 6 minutes for a title bout (the match going 3) and Smackdown get more than 10, basically to work up to a vomit joke.

Oh, I was right about the white clothing by the way.

02.16am

A promo hyping Umaga v Triple H has just aired.

Lillian begins the announcements for this match in the 77th minute of the show. So far, the amount of pre-announced material used so far has totally a paltry (and uninteresting) 6 minutes.

02.23am

I feel deflated, and it seems so does the live crowd. The Game got nowhere near the same reception as earlier, and the tension just feels non existent for this one.

02.27am

And it’s over. So is any expectation of The Undertaker v Umaga, if that is to happen, being an exciting programme. This unstoppable Samoan monster can’t beat a man who only returned from injury a month or two ago, and who had a supposedly gruelling 12 minute match earlier on in the night.

Triple H wins with the Pedigree in about 10 minutes. Are you surprised?

02.31am

Punjabi Bischoff tells us that Khali is meditating. Oh, I thought he was asleep. Damn, I wish I could tell the difference between sleeping and meditating. I tell you what, to make it easier, I’ll assume that when the Prison make comes on, the crowd are all ‘meditating’.

02.33am

Oh my god. Security better protect the wrestlers, it seems a komodo dragon has got onto the stage. I thought you got them in the south Pacific, not Illinois.

Oh, no, wait its Rey Mysterio with a mask on, hiding his err, other mask.

Anyway, he’s here to meet Finlay, and I’ve been looking forward to this one.

02.46am

I don’t know whether to be impressed or appalled.

Short reprise. Rey Mysterio dropped a leg on Finlay, when he was hanging over the bottom rope. Finlay fell backwards to the floor, in a legit stiff bump. The ref checked on him, it looked like a work. When the ref wasn’t looking, Finlay looked up as if playing possum.

Then referee Jim Korderas threw the dreaded ‘x’ sign. The ‘x’ sign should be sacred. That should be the symbol that all is not well. Not some kayfabe bullshit, but when something is seriously wrong.

It was effective. I would imagine the live crowd didn’t see Finlay glance up as if he was ok. They bought the injury and the sell job Rey did of looking concerned. They even chanted Finlay.
The Irishman then jumped from his stretcher, neck brace and all, and attacked Rey. The crowd chanted “Finlay sucks”.

You know you come out here and you talk about your Psalms and your Rey 619? Well Finlay 619 says I just fooled the marks.

02.49am

What do you know? Another ‘mysterious’ futuristic video aired. I definitely saw something saying 2nd Coming in there, and it also looked like rev.212 was in there to me. As was Save_US.222 again. Of course this will soon be doing the rounds and probably on the WWE too. I still think it isn’t cut and dried to be Jericho. Hart Foundation and HBK still possibilities.

Incidentally, did you read the “Savior Self” info that 8.2.11 was in there? If you take the numbers to be letters, where 1 = A, 2 = B and so forth that 26 = Z, 8.2.11 would be HBK.

However, as a note, Cyber Sunday is advertised as being on 10.28.07 (28th October). Times? Well it starts at 8pm Eastern US time. The show is in Washington DC, which is on Eastern Time.

What if 8.2.11 means 8pm until 11pm? i.e. the timings on Cyber Sunday.

And what if rev.212 and Save us.222 means that 2 hours and 12 minutes into the show something will happen, and ten minutes later, at 2 hours 22 minutes, so does something else.

Something to ponder

02.50am

Guess what? We’re having a rematch. Orton has invoked the rematch clause – tonight. I’ll give them credit. There are some nonsensical events occurring tonight, but considering Cena’s injury was 6 days ago, that’s some good storyline writing to keep the action rolling on.

02.57am

There goes another title change. Beth Phoenix destroys Candice and actually shows a flair for cutting a promo too. The match was instantly forgettable, of course, but I’m just thankful that the belt is finally off of Candice. I’m sure she is a lovely person, but she is not, repeat NOT, Trish Stratus.

03.00am

It appears to be Punjabi Prison time. Cue usual build up video and entrances.

03.10am
Yep, that took ten minutes. Ten minutes of generic clips, waffle from Michael Cole (breaking a world record for saying the word ’structure’) and horrible Batista promos.

And thirty seconds in, Khali goes his caught in the ropes spot. I know you learned it from Andre, Khali, but every time?

03.12am

The viewing of this match is greatly hindered by the masses of bamboo on the (say it with me, Cole) structure. I don’t mean hindered, do I? I mean improved. I can hardly see the shambles inside the ring.

If Batista is an unidentified ‘Animal’, why doesn’t he be a Giant Panda tonight? Then he can eat the bamboo and escape.

03.21am

JBL says this match like a scene from Jurassic Park. Funny, I don’t remember the bit where Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill show no athletic ability and get out of the raptor cage.

Or maybe he meant the bit where they find the dying Triceratops. “That is one big pile of shit.”

03.24am
Well, it’s finished, mercifully. I suppose considering the limitations set with this match, it wasn’t a letdown. But then how can you be let down if your expectations are rock bottom.

Oh, Batista won, by the way.

03.33am

Orton v Trips Last Man Standing match is underway. The back story is now that Triple H has bad ribs and that Orton can capitalise.

03.53am

Wow. We have a new champion. Well the old new champion. The one that was new, but not the newer new champ, I mean the new old new one. Err, Orton won anyway.

That was a fantastic match. Absolutely superb. It wasn’t Hart/Bulldog from Summerslam or Savage/Steamboat at WM3, but a brilliantly told, to-and-fro battle, with twists, false finishes and served to make both men look good.

03.55am

And we’re off the air. As near to the full 3 hour pay per view as we’ve seen in a while, and I’d probably venture the best PPV of the year except for Wrestlemania. Yes, the ECW match barely registered, and the Punjabi Prison match was torturous, but the storytelling of both Orton/HHH matches was top notch, and remember this is a last minute rewrite show. They’ve saved Jericho (or whomever) for the future. (I’d bet big money on Cyber Sunday)
No Mercy? Oui, Merci.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

A new champion plus the possible return of Y2J? Oh, have Mercy!

I can’t recall a build up to a WWE PPV, or indeed any pro wrestling event, anything like the one building up to this week’s No Mercy event.

A brief history lesson, as if you need one, would involve modules detailing the tragedy of Chris Benoit, the subsequent steroid scandal and resulting suspensions, and the injuries to several big name stars.

Two weeks ago, we had a fairly standard card building up – a predictable third go-round for John Cena and Randy Orton, a Batista v Khali Punjabi prison match, and Rey Mysterio and Triple H continuing their rehabilitation and mega-pushes.

Then a video aired. A matrix-like vignette featuring several coded messages which appeared to point to the return of Chris Jericho was seen on RAW nearly a fortnight ago. It is known as the Save_US.222 video.

The following RAW, the last before No Mercy, saw not only a follow up video entitled Savior_Self, but an injury to a wrestler. Not just any wrestler, but the WWE champion. Not just any WWE champion, either. The WWE Champion for over a year. The alleged ‘most controversial champion ever’. John Felix Anthony Cena.

So we go to a PPV, which I strangely feel really excited about Chris Jericho and the main event. I don’t know if Y2J is going to be there, nor do I know the main event.

I’ll try to give you my thoughts, match by match.

Candice Michelle v Beth Phoenix
I’m going against the grain here. All and sundry are predicting that the Glamazon will take the strap but I’d say that it’s the old bait-and-switch we are used to seeing with John Cena. Build up the monster heel competitor for the plucky babyface to beat, only to find no-one really wants the alleged babyface to actually conquer. Heart says Beth, but head rules – Candice to win.

Finlay v Rey Mysterio
This will likely be the best match of night, and typically I’d just say that Rey will go over because, well, you know, he’s Mysterio. However, the wildcard here is JBL. The Smackdown Colour man has been the antagonist for this, apparently still harbouring a grudge against Mysterio, so if Rey does not go over, it can only be because of JBL’s interference. I’m still going to go with a predictable win, though, with perhaps Finlay and Bradshaw attacking Rey post-match. Mysterio to win.

Triple H v Umaga
Obviously Triple H is the golden boy, but the WWE are high on Umaga, so the only way out I can see here is a Triple H win via DQ. A Vince McMahon-inspired beatdown I think is likely, with Umaga still looking like a savage monster and Triple H being a cross between Jesus and Robocop.

CM Punk v Big Daddy V
You see, I’d say that there is no way they’d put the belt on a guy like the former Viscera, but this is the often farcical ECW, where a tournament between 4 men was held to find the number one contender. It was a really good concept, so they went and ruined it by having it won by someone who wasn’t even in it.

It’s like a flashback to the heady days of King Mabel, the glorious summer of ’95 when Nash was stinking up title matches left, right and centre. Except here we have a champion with talent and a flair to put on good matches. Only they thought, to hell with that, we’ll put the up-and-coming CM Punk in a match with an obese veteran with little discernable talent or heat.

Anyway, I’ll say Punk to win, because I can’t bear to say that V might beat him. It’ll be short and not sweet.

Batista v Great Khali
A Punjabi Prison match. Hmm. Do you remember the first one? The first Punjabi Prison was supposed to hold Khali and Undertaker captive within the structure. You see, Khali is from the Punjab, right?

Yep, well it featured Taker and the Big Show. Basically because Khali couldn’t be trusted to be in a match of such importance. (oh wait, no, he had ‘elevated liver enzymes’) So here we are, 15 months later, with Khali the former champion looking to retain the gold.

Rumour has it that Cyber Sunday will see Undertaker v Mark Henry v Great Khali v Batista, so maybe a spot of interference by Henry and the Deadman will be in order. If not, I’ll take Batista to scrape through.

WWE Title.
Fuck knows.

Seriously, how can I elaborate, I don’t know the match will be?

Oh ok then, I’ll say that Randy Orton will likely win it. I don’t think that’s really sticking my neck out, is it? Considering he was touted to beat Cena anyway, and have a long programme with Triple H.

The big question is whether Jericho will appear. I doubt it, because I think they’d want to drag out the Save_US/Savior_Self campaign for a little longer, probably until Cyber Sunday.

The type of match? Maybe a match where former champions are eligible, so then Kane and Undertaker could join in? Perhaps a battle royal or even a Royal Rumble-like match?

You have a few major RAW superstars that are currently without a match. Jeff Hardy, Mr Kennedy, Shelton Benjamin, Carlito. And over on Smackdown, Kane, Taker, Matt Hardy , MVP, Mark Henry and (whisper it) Ric Flair are without anything to do.

Hopefully it’ll be a chance to have some fun, and really create some memories.

This has been a really tough time for the WWE, I prey they make this a good show. My faith is waiting to be restored.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Chris Jericho to return to Raw?

Welcome to Blog......is........Jericho?

I've never seen anything like it. a simple 14 second or so promo, full of flashing and scrolling computer code shown on RAW this week has set many tongues a-wagging. Many voices seem to be contending that this signals the impending return of none other than Chris Jericho.

That certainly would be fitting. Chris Jericho jumped to RAW when wrestling was at a high point in 1999, and he interupted The Rock in the middle of a promo. It was arguably up there with any debut of any wrestler.....ever. If he was to return, it wouldn't be quietly, with little fuss.

There appear to be many clues as to the fact that it is a sign of the return of Y2J. Here are just a few reasons given........

  • RAW.REV.MAY2 is on the screen at one point. May 2 was the date Jericho won the IC title in 2000.
  • the word "catman" is on the screen many times. This could be a reference to Jericho's former nickname of "Lionheart'. His book is also called 'A Lion's Tale'
  • The most significant line throughout the video is save_us.222- signs have been seen of late stating "save us Y2J"
  • Jericho is on a book tour, but has all mondays in October free, ditto the first two mondays in November.
  • WM_triple appears on screen at one point. Jericho had a triple threat match at his first Wrestlemania, in 2000.
  • The end of the video ends in a countdown.
  • Jericho debuted at the Allstate Arena in Chicago. Guess where No Mercy is this year?
  • When he debuted, Jericho claimed he was coming to save the WWF
  • Apparantly CD_VOLUME4_1 features in the video. Jericho's theme music was track one on the WWE Music volume 4.
  • 7OCT also features. This is the date of No Mercy.
  • One of the most frequenty references is to 222. Some have suggested this is an allusion to Joshua 2:2 in the bible, which proclaims: "And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country."

The final bullet point I find interesting. I did a little more digging. Check these out.

The second book of the bible is Exodus. Exodus 2:2 is "And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. " - Hornswoggle and the reveal of his mum?

Esther 2:2 - "Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king" - Oh Jerry Lawler, will you never learn?

Numbers 2:22 - "Then the tribe of Benjamin: and the captain of the sons of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni." Shelton?

JBL? A man who is a master of savings, and a firm proponent of the US (United States) Job 22:2 "Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?" A wrestling God?

The I'm back phrase which is in there is telling. That indicates its a video to hype a returning superstar. I've heard Billy Gunn thrown out there as a possible, and even Sid Justice.

Anyway, this could simply be a Cyber Sunday promo with a few Y2J references thrown in for intrigue. The WWE often throw things out there for the marks to pick up on. Maybe its just something to generate interest, and not a return at all.

I'm going to keep my ear to the ground on this one. But if it is Jericho, then I guess we will never, eeeeeeeeeeeeeever, be the same again.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Unforgiven? Unfullin' more like.......

12.58am
Its mere seconds before yet another WWE Pay Per View, and as is customary I am trying to decide whether I should be looking forward to it or not; how high my expectation level should be. Although, I should note, here in the UK this is a free show.

I think the performance level, the match standards, will be generally average. Cena and Orton told a great story last time, and with competitors like CM Punk, Elijah Burke, Paul London, Brian Kendrick, Lance Cade, Trevor Murdoch, Triple H, Carlito, MVP and Matt Hardy on the undercard, you’re looking at a decent quality of performer. But no matches jump at you as being set for a classic.

I also think that a few title may change hands, including maybe Cena and Khali giving up their coveted belts.

01.03am
The video package to open the show is all about the Undertaker. Whomever wins the belt on Smackdown may well face the Deadman sooner rather than later.

Now I think about it, Khali winning the match and retaining the strap makes more sense. Who better to take the belt off him than Taker?

01.07am
The ECW title is so important, apparently, that it will open the show. Elijah Burke, the number one contender, isn’t important enough to even have his entrance televised. Instead, highlights of Punk winning the belt are shown, presumably to an audience who only watches ECW matches when they are on Pay Per View, rather than actually watching the wretched show.

1.17am
Plenty into the opener, a decent match at that. Burke just used rolling German suplexes. Haven’t seen that......oh, right, yeah. I’m saying nothing.

01.20am
CM Punk retains in very solid opener.

I like matches like that, where both guys use some technical moves, and the win comes from an unexpected source. No GTS or Elijah Experience attempts, but a quick roll up for a win.

Very Bret Hart like. Hitman used to wrestle well, take a hell of a beating, sell his ass off, and would actually rarely win with the Sharpshooter. Great stuff from Punk, Burke no slouch either.

01.24am
Haha, Cole looks a moron as he so often does. He referred to Smackdown 6 weeks ago about 0.63 of a second before ‘7 weeks ago’ popped up on a bracket. Anyway, a small matter, as we are about to see MVP/Matt Hardy v Deuce & Domino.

JBL describes the tag pairing of Porter and Hardy being like Mother Teresa and Britney Spears teaming up. I hope not. Vignettes of Matt Hardy talking to sick people around the globe will be Ludvig Borga-like in boredom, and I sure as hell don’t want to see MVP coming out of his little inflatable entrance with no underwear on. I was never confused.

01.30amThe tag title match is well underway, with Matt and Montel antagonising each other, but dominating the match. This could be against anyone really.

I believe it is Domino in the ring right now. I don’t care for his wrestling, but his Pizzas aren’t bad. He tastes them himself, you know. Only the other day I heard that Deuce saw him munching on Cherry’s pie. Said it tasted of Anchovies.

01.37am
Well, I nearly got that right. I thought MVP would properly desert Matt, but they decided to keep the belts on the ‘dysfunctional duo’. And aside from predicting wrongly, I don’t mind, because these two play their roles well, and I find them probably the most entertaining thing on Smackdown.

Game/Carli next.

01.44am
Triple H is out first – are we going for faces first tonight in every match? Unusual.
I decide to look up ‘Genibus Nitito Canus’, which basically means “On your knees, dog”. So, that’s how he proposed to Stephanie.

(NOTE: That’s a bit harsh, and yes I did write that for the cheap gag. I would like to point out that regardless of creative, backstage decisions, if Stephanie didn’t have a ridiculous set of implants and a ‘nails on a chalkboard’ voice, she’d be the most attractive female in the company.
Except Maria, I love Maria.)

01.54am
JR has just referred to Carlito’s prolonged use of Trash cans in this match by calling young Colon a ‘carribean Garbageman’. Now that is a missed gimmick if ever I saw one.

Duke “The Dumpster” Gonzalez.

01.56amThe thing is sealed with a low blow. Which, incidentally, is how Stephanie accepted the proposal (look, I can’t help it, ok?).

Triple H finishes the match with a Pedigree, and with the WWE in the midst of Drugs controversy, ends up with white powder all over his face.

“Hello, is that United States congress?”

02.00amWe are a third of the way through the allotted time, and I would like to report the lack of Leprechauns thus far.

Batista cuts a generic promo about getting his title back. Maria does the interviewing, and looks amazing as always.

Then comes a shot of Candice followed by Beth Phoenix. Making Maria look even better.

02.02am
Ah, maybe I have it. It isn’t faces that get announced first, its winners. Beth is out first here.

Here comes Techno Candice. I just don’t get what they are trying to push on us with Candice. A year after the original retired, they are blatantly trying to copy the formula that made Trish as popular as she was. Or maybe its a female John Cena?

But, as nice as I’m sure Candice is (by all accounts, she is a very sweet and hard working person) Trish had a better personality, had better promo skills, worked effectively as face or heel, and could wrestle. Looks department you can argue all you like, but I’d take Trish in that category too. Add in the fact that Candice bumps like a Marshmallow falling on a cushion, I’m not convinced.

02.04am
Liechtenstein alert.

02.12am
Oh, come on! I’m hoping that the lack of title changing activity thus far is an indication that we’ll see some further down the line tonight.

To be fair, although I’m annoyed that Candice won, the match was ok by usual standards, with a decent wrestling counter to finish. But it just isn’t believable that Beth wouldn’t destroy Candice.
02.15am
Cool piece of imagery as Khali crushes a masked cantaloupe representing Rey Mysterio and a Watermelon supposed to symbolise Batista. Punjabischoff then goes into a bizarre chant somewhat resembling Cassius Clay’s “Ali Bumbaye!” chant.

You can do your own McMahon/Hornswaggle/Grapefruits joke.

02.32am
Holy Spinebusters, we have a new champion. You know what they say, 236th time lucky.

Batista wins a typical triple threat, and one assumes a Rey v Batista friendly rivalry programme will now take place.

To be fair, it was pretty good this, considering the limitations provided by the line up. I’m just glad that the belt is off Khali, but Smackdown is really starved of a top heel. Batista, Rey, Taker, Kane, Flair all are high on the babyface list. Its only Khali and Henry on the other side really.

02.36am
Bastard – there’s that darn leprechaun. So we get to see the McMahon (little and large) on RAW. Cool. Forgive me if I am not trembling with excitement.

02.40am
Triple H encounters Batista backstage, and they share a moment over the title. I wonder if that’s the last time we see a former member of evolution with a belt tonight.

02.42am
Tag team titles with Londrick and, erm, Maid?

02.54am
Reasonably standard tag team fare from these two, but that is not meant as a criticism. Very solid, but again unspectacular.

I don’t want to sound like a stuck record, but WWE PPVs consistently fail to produce enough great matches and/or shocks. The thing is, with another on 3 weeks away, we’ll probably get a very similar car for No Mercy.

Cena and Orton have to deliver, big time.

3.15am
Err...........I make it 45 minutes before three hours is up. Cena is DQ-ed for punishing Orton too much, and post-match Cena Senior kicks Orton square in the mush.

Is that it?

Oh yeah, Taker match. I kid you not I thought that was show over, I was starting a rant about the show not delivering.

Maybe something big is going to go down in the Taker match? Nah, probably more likely to be a way of finishing the show with a Taker win rather than a crappy DQ ending. ]

3.39am
Apparently, according to JBL, what Mark Henry has was given to him by God.

How long has God been issuing ten year contracts?

03.45am
Oh, the Undertaker won, quelle surprise.
Just how stupid is Henry? “He tried to powerbomb me and I blocked him. I rule all. I know, I’ll climb to the middle rope so as to advance the process a couple of stages”. Just so, so poor.

Michael Cole closes the show, and among his last words tonight are “Don’t be afraid, be terrified”.

Oh, I am Mikey Boy. I’m terrified that next month I’ll have to pay actual money to watch this garbage.

Poor, poor show, because if you go by the fact that the two last matches are the main and semi main, they were very dull and left us very unfulfilled.

I will not be forgiving the WWE in a hurry for that.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Unforgiven: its not even a word, you know........

Apologies for the short update here, but I have very little time.

I'll rattle through all the matches, give my opinion, and then I'll be back at the end of the Pay Per View with my usual post-PPV, as-live thoughts.

So then........

Smackdown Tag Team Title match: Deuce and Domino v Matt Hardy & MVP.
I have been massively impressed by the improvement of MVP over the last 12 months or so, and it was a huge blow to see him held back by the news of his Heart problems. It seems that having him compete in Tag Matches is the way to keep him going.
The MVP/Matt pairing has chemistry, the classic protagonist/antagonist relationship, and I would suggest this is how we will move forward. Look for The Greasers to regain their straps, when MVP walks out on Hardy.

RAW Tag Team title match: London & Kendrick v Cade & Murdoch
I'd expect this to be a good one, possibly a show opener, and I'd tend to say that it would be The so-called Redneck Wrecking Crew who will prevail. I love London & Kendrick, and would be happy to see them more often, but they are precisely the kind of wrestlers that the WWE likes to trot out as show ponies every now and again, but will stick with the tried and tested 'characters'. That said, I like Cade and Murdoch, who are far more enjoyable and old school than the dressed up Deuce and Domino will ever be.
The only way Londrick gets a win is if WWE decides to finally get behind Lance Cade. They have been threatening to do so for a long time. I'd say a singles title for him before the end of 2008.

Women's Title Match: Beth Phoenix v Candice Michelle
I can't see past Beth in this match. Only makes good sense to create a monster heel of a champion to reign for a while, dominate the women's scene, then attempt to build up an honest, hard-working Babyface as a conquerer of sorts. Candice Michelle looks as if she is the pet project right now, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Beth continue to dominate the scene, with Candice eventually getting the best of the 'Glamazon'. Not tonight, though. Beth to win.

ECW Title: CM Punk v Elijah Burke
In order to determine the order in which I'd write these predictions, I checked the WWE.com site, and worked from the bottom up. So, according to them, this is the 5th most important match. Hmm, 3 equal brands my ass.

Anyway, this hasn't really been built up much, and though I like Burke, I'd think that Punk would be keep over, and that the rumour I've heard which suggests that he'll keep the belt until Nitro returns is quite likely. CM to win.

Triple H v Carlito
If you think this is going to be anything other than a Triple H win, then I'd take issue with you. I want to know where the whole Mr. McMahon angle is going in regards to Trips, because he has been involved all the way since he got back. I also don't know how long until HBK comes back, and that would be interesting to know, really.
Can't see The Game losing, but I'm intrigued as to where they take him. I'm wondering whether they'll now think in terms that he is bigger than the belt, and putting the strap on him woon't help him any. I'm not sure. I'll take him to win tonight, maybe in the face of mighty interference on the part of Hornswoggle McMahon (I can't believe I'm writing that).

Undertaker v Mark Henry
Err, return of the dead man? Come on, Mark Henry has about about as much chance as Chavo Guererro and King Booker did in their matches against Triple H and Rey Mysterio. Short one, Taker to win comfortably.

World Heavyweight Title - Great Khali v Batista v Rey Mysterio
This one has me puzzled a bit. I am leaning towards Mysterio more than I was. Originally, I'd have said that my money would have been on Kahli retaining, but the addition of Batista has made me think twice.

The reason being that if you have Great Khali v Rey Mysterio, and you want to belt to go onto Rey, how do you make that believable? Answer is, you can't. Add Big Dave into the mix, and all of a sudden you have you have a plausible way. After a battle between them all, you let Batista blast the Punjabi giant with a Spinebuster or spear or something, and have Rey basically steal one.

I'm more tentative about this call than any other. But I'll take Mysterio to regain the strap.

John Cena v Randy Orton
Usually, when you have a main event decided in a clean finish and then you have a rematch a few weeks later, it annoys me, because firstly what says the result will be different, and secondly why does the contender deserve another shot?

This time, it has been well executed, with Orton's cold persona going a step further and attacking John Cena Senior (or Cenia, I suppose). Here's my theory. The belt was going over to Orton, but the web got wind of it. Vince opted to swerve those who think they are in the know, and kept the belt on Cena. This time, with opinions a little more wavy, the title does switch, and this also is another avenue in which Triple H can get involved in the title picture, with his hostory with Orton.

Orton to win.

Thats all for now, update available just after the PPV.

Monday, 10 September 2007

I believe Vince's son is..............

So tonight is the night when we find out just who Vinny Mac's l'il boy is. And it ain't Booker T. Sucka.

It seems the man formerly known as GI Bro has gone off in a Huff, man.

Have you noticed that pretty much any wrestling site you go to - news, columns, opinion, funny stuff. No one is telling you who the bastard son is. Sure, we all knew it was originally Mr Kennedy, but most seem to have their mouths and keyboards shut.

So, in order to work it out, I'm going to take you on a whistlestop tour of the roster. Lets start with Raw.

Cena? No point, too big a name. Also wasn't around the ring when Vince said it was a superstar

Jeff Hardy? For the sheer fact that he has nothing else going on, he could be the man. However, this role is going to require a great deal of time with mic in hand or acting with Vince and Trips. Jeff's strong suit is not his promo skills.

Cade & Murdoch? Not big enough names, and in programme with Londrick.

Lashley? Too injured

Brian Kendrick & Paul London? See Cade/Murdoch and flip the names.

Carlito? hmmm. Is facing Triple H this week, and The Game will surely be involved in this angle long term. Carlito is good on the mic, and is of the level that needs to be elevated. However, Carlito's father is legendary grappler Carlos Colon, so you would doubt that would be contested.

Charlie Haas? Nope.

Cody Rhodes? Once again, he is best known for being Dusty's boy. Can't be.

Daivari? A joke foreign heel? Not a prayer. (leave it)

Duggan? Nooooooooooooooooooooo

Lawler? Of course not.

Coach? No, but thankyou for asking, Sir?

King Booker? Hahahahahahahaaha. Sucka.

Mr Kennedy? Absolutely no chance.............................no chance.

Randy Orton? Cowboy Bob and the fact that he wasn't around the ring say no for him. This is a rumour killer.

The Highlanders? Ahh, those modern day Bushwhackers, what happened to them? Anyway, its not them. Vince isn't ginger for a start.

Santino? If he didn't suck in the ring, and his build up wasn't so crap, then this would be more feasible. He is more likely than most mentioned thus far. But still no.

Sandman? I shouldn't have thought so.

Shawn Michaels? Unlikely, although if they have a convaluted script on hand, they might try to use his star power to boost the angle. He doesn't have to wrestle for a bit, and they could play off his chemistry and history with Trips and Vince. Possible, but unlikely.

Shelton Benjamin? I jokingly wrote about an encounter between Vince and Momma Benjamin, but honestly, and I don't mean this in a racist way, he'd be a proper candidate if he wasn't black. I think it being a black man would be too complicated in a genetic manner. Sorry Shelton. In a side note, though, he is due a push again.

Snitsky? No. But if I'm wrong, it isn't my fault.

Super Crazy? ay, ay, ay. No es bueno.

Triple H? The Game is the central antagonist in this whole thing, he cannot be the son. That throws into the question the fact that Triple H married his sister........no. Even the WWE........no.

Umaga? Regal? Nope, suspended and have no chance.

Val Venis? yep, thats it. a 36 year old jobber. (note sarcasm)

So thats Raw.

Now, the thing is, ECW and Smackdown were both taped last night. You'd think that if someone was Vince's son, they would not just go and wrestle on smackdown or ECW, with no explanation. So by that logic, it could well be someone who didn't take part in the ECW or Smackdown tapings last night. So lets take a list of ECW and SD wrestlers who did not take part in the taping.

John Morrison, Marcus Cor Von, Dave Taylor, Chavo Guererro, Hardcore Holly, Edge, Helms, Funaki, Ric Flair.

Morrison, Chavo, and Funaki are absent due to the steroid scandal. Helms and Edge are too, but are injured. Cor Von is a long term absentee because of a personal issue. Holly is injured, Flair as we know is having one or two issues with WWE at the moment. Dave Taylor is not a lot more than a jobber, and has barely been seen since Regal went to Raw.

By the laid out criteria that it can't be anyone from Raw that we've worked out, and that it could be someone who should have been on Smackdown..............then it leaves two men.

Rey Mysterio and Hornswoggle.

Please god tell it can't be Hornswoggle. You can't involve Triple H, Mr Kennedy, the whole McMahon clan, and then have it be Hornswoggle. No way. (I hope)

Rey Mysterio wasn't around the ring, which would stand against him, but I think he has the most chance of anyone else.

He had a major altercation with Vince for seemingly no reason a while back. "Things are looking up" could well be a swerve so that you think its Kane or Khali or something, but its actually the short Mysterio. He was not on Smackdown, and they have changed the SD main event for Unforgiven to include Batista. They could edit Rey right out of that. He is a main event level star that they could use.

One thing against is the fact that he has already been involved in a paternity thing with Eddie, and that might could against.

Anyway, that my guess, I'm going with Rey Mysterio. You (may have) heard it here first.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Quick Raw Thoughts

Just got through watching RAW for Sept 4th – the first show after the announcement of suspensions.

So did this help us decide who may be gone? A little, but not entirely.

The names from Raw that were rumoured to be on the hitlist, in one way or another, were Mr. Kennedy, Intercontinental Champion Umaga, General Manager William Regal, Randy Orton, King Booker, Santino Marella and Charlie Haas.

So how did they all get on………….?

Mr. Kennedy: - Well, until the last 15 minutes or so of the show, Kenny Kenny was nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately, I had got wind of a little spoiler of the show, which was tape this week, so when the quartet of McMahons were chatting away in the ring, I knew he must show up at some point. Otherwise I think I might have popped privately for when he came through the curtain.

Well, anyway, he gave a great performance vocally, as per usual, where it was basically announced that he is not in fact Vince’s son. (we should find out next week). But that was basically a near certainty, really, that he would be the bastard son. That he isn’t has to taken as a sign that we won’t see him any more in this storyline.

Umaga: - The Samoan Bulldozer actually pulled a double header in the ring, and was all over the show. Not, I was thinking, the ideal way to de-push the man.

The IC title match was ok, but I felt the finish was weak. For an unstoppable savage, falling off the top rope and getting winded seemed a bit feeble to me. It strikes me that a small package or the like might have served the purpose better. Jeff Hardy didn’t come off as a strong character, and Umaga just came off as a bit clumsy and unable to fight being winded. If Jeff rolls him in an inside cradle, then at least it looks like Umaga was simply outsmarted. And Samoan savages don’t regularly win Mensa contests.

The last match on the show saw Umaga team up with Carlito for a meaningless handicap match Triple H, where a quick DQ ensued, but ended up with Umaga being destroyed by The Game, a chair, and, you’ve guessed it, a sledgehammer.

This all makes perfect sense. Umaga will serve his 30-day suspension, and return in four or five weeks to destroy Triple H. A Triple H and Umaga programme makes sense for two of the biggest names on Raw, possibly with Umaga being used as Vince’s hired gun again.

William Regal: - Regal was also featured significantly in the show, but not in his usual comedic role. Cena destroyed him after the GM showed a little compassion towards Randy Orton (more on him in a minute). Coach will fill in for a few weeks, then Regal will return when “fit again”. Possibly as more of a heel, trying to stack the odds against Cena.

Randy Orton:- It looks as if the WWE’s Teflon man is at it again. I never saw Orton compete when I was at the Raw show in London because he’d caused a ruckus in a hotel room in Italy. He didn’t get suspended or fired then.

He’s certainly been caught by the Wellness Policy in the past, and was implicated in the scandal here. Now, not that anyone else has officially been sanctioned, it seemed pretty clear from the way Raw went that several people are in trouble. Orton was advertised as being in the main event for the next Pay Per View. Seems he is safe.

Other have taken this quite badly. Seems it’s quite a kick in the teeth.

King Booker: - Jury out. Booker was wrestling in the main event last week, he wasn’t on the show at all this week. He doesn’t have an injury as far as I am aware. He isn’t long back from an injury and does have a territory to book, so there may be extenuating circumstances. We’ll see.

Santino Marella:- I think he will be ok. Essentially, very few people care about him, so to continue, albeit minor, his association with Maria, as well as introduce a link with Sandman. He also said his arm was getting better and threatened Ron Simmons.

On the flip side, they could suggest that his arm got damaged again and it keeps him out for a month. If you forced me to stake money, I’d say he stays.

Charlie Haas:- Newsflash. Haas loses a match. In other news, Dog Barks, night is dark and The Warrior says something mental. Who knows?

I will try to update later in the week, and we’ll take a genuine look at the Vince’s kid angle.

Friday, 31 August 2007

On the 'roid to nowhere.......

I suspect that by now you have read about the controversy which has been stirred up once again surrounding steroids and wrestling.

If you have not, please go to www.thesun.co.uk/wrestling and let them fill you in. The rest of us will wait.



Ok, you’re back, lets get on.

So is this a positive or negative occurrence for the WWE and wrestling in general?

The significance of the people alleged to be involved makes the situation much more……well, significant. If this were 10 names of the undercard, wrestlers in developmental or something, this wouldn’t make much of an impact. You’d see loads of people like me having a pop at the WWE not having the bottle to censure the top names. There can be no such accusations here.

As well as minor names like Sho Funaki and Charlie Haas, you have holders of minor titles like Shane Helms and Chavo Guererro, the latter of course having been a part of Summerslam against Rey Mysterio, and more importantly a man closer than anyone on the roster to Eddie and Chris Benoit.

That leaves six names, which are rumoured to be William Regal (Current Raw General Manager), Umaga (Intercontinental Champion) John Morrison (ECW Champion), Edge (former world champion, still would be if not for injury) Randy Orton (Number one contender in the biggest push of his life) and Ken Kennedy (Destined for the top, major part of every broadcast, and more importantly penciled in to be Vince’s kid and be in the main event at Wrestlemania)

There’s no punches pulled is there? 6-8 big names are gone. For a month anyway.

I make it that if Umaga and Morrison have to lose their belts, it’ll be at least SIX occasions this year that a title plan has had to change. Edge and The Undertaker had to drop the straps when injured, the Benoit tragedy led to Morrison picking the ECW belt up, and Kennedy would surely have won a title with his Money in the Bank contract.

I cannot and will not comment on the accusations against the wrestlers, and indeed what their futures may hold.

I will, though, say that this could make or break the WWE. If they lose star power in droves, their fanbase may react in kind. Next week, you could have three TV shows which features a roster devoid of:

Shawn Michaels
Bobby LashleyThe Undertaker
Chris Benoit
Rob Van Dam
Edge
Big Show
Ken Kennedy
Umaga
John Morrison
William Regal
Randy Orton

Factor in that Batista and King Booker are both on the list of suspected users of Pharmacy, and that Triple H and Rey Mysterio have only been back a week, you are looking at a roster which has as its top 10 stars, apart from those above, maybe:

1) John Cena
2) The Great Khali
3) Mark Henry
4) Carlito
5) MVP
6) Jeff Hardy
7) Matt Hardy
8) CM Punk
9) Kane
10) Finlay

That’s pretty weak (although to be fair I’ve left out Flair) as a roster goes, so why should we watch?

Well, there is an argument which suggest that in the face of a seriously average product, a serious incident such as what happened with Chris Benoit occurs, and although the ratings dropped to below the desired level as far as the WWE are concerned they didn’t dip too low. Consider that crisis talks came when Raw’s rating went down to 3.4, and Raw’s replacement this week on USA Network, The US Open Tennis, drew a 1.0.

So maybe people will watch wrestling come what may. The people that now watch are the hardcore, the true fans, those that are probably too set in their ways to stop watching wrestling. If there was a credible threat they may stop watching WWE itself, but there is no such competition, so that’s moot.

Why not then, allow a bit more creativity to emerge. Get rid of slow moving goons like Mark Henry, Khali and Viscera that have never drawn any money. See what kind of wrestling, yes wrestling, talent you could get hold of. Let Punk do what Punk wants to do, and try to get the Brian Danielson’s and such to the big leagues and let them wrestle.

Khali, Batista, Masters, Knox etc – no one cares.

Morgan, Test, Tomko, Steiner – no one cares.

It was said that a monopoly in wrestling would harm the business because there would be lots out of work and no upward mobility. Possibly.

However, although there is still one main company, it is kind of a duopoly thanks to TNA.

The trouble is, both rosters have elements of festering, boredom inducing rubbish polluting the airwaves, pushing down the more stellar talent.

Those mentioned above clearly suck.

The ‘best of’ roster, however, looks awesome. Imagaine a company populated with:

Samoa Joe, Finlay, Carlito, CM Punk, AJ Styles, Shawn Michaels, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, Rey Mysterio, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Shelton Benjamin, Jeff Hardy, Christian Cage, Paul London, Brian Kendrick, Super Crazy, Homicide, Chris Harris, Petey Williams, MVP, Matt Hardy, Jay Lethal, Senshi/Low Ki, Jamie Noble, Elijah Burke, Elix Skipper.

Then add your extra talent like John Cena, Kurt Angle, Sting, Jarrett, Abyss, Taker and a few others. That’s what you want.

I’ve seen quite few Ring of Honor and other independent events, but from what I have seen and what I’ve heard, the likes of Mistico, Nigel McGuiness, The Briscoes, Colt Cabana (I think he is in developmental now) Doug Williams, Claudio Castagnoli, Matt Sydal.

Factor in Teddy Hart, Harry Smith and the like and you might be onto something.

Surely its worth thinking about.

Actually, no, scrap that. What the world wants is a Snitsky and Big Daddy V monster push, and a return for Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli.

Obviously.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Summerslam Live Notes

00.55am
Are you ready to partake of a PPV? The Biggest Partaking of the summer? Thought so. Hop in.

As usual, I’m here in the UK, with my laptop, writing live notes on the Pay Per View. For all of you watching in this in the states, remember your friend across the pond stays up until 4am for you.

I also make sure I stay completely sober and lucid so that I give a good account and also that I have to work in the morning. However, if Summerslam sucks, that’s it, I’m getting wasted next time.

01.03am
Well, the opening pyro is going off, and the video preview has aired. The build up still focuses on Triple H, who has the climb the mountain of a guy who has defeated, erm, a 50+ year old who wrestles on RAW about 4 times a year. Oh, and he punked out a non-wrestling 60 year old. The only more frightening bookers are the ones who write the damn stuff.

01.05am
And it’s Kane. Out to face Fit Finlay in the opener. Cole tells us that this started when Fit spilled coffee on Kane. Hang on, didn’t that happen to Kane before, with the caffeine dropper that time being Jericho?

No truth in the rumour that The Big Red Dentist retaliated by throwing hot tea over Finlay’s leg. Fit didn’t feel it, obviously.

01.15am
Not far off a ten-minuter, and a pretty darn decent opener. A genuine back and forth encounter with Finlay selling his ass off and also looking like a legitimate tough guy. Couple of fake finishes, clean finishes. No problems here.

01.20am
After a little backstage skit involving all the general managers, coach, Vince a lack of babes (“go get the scrubbers”) Santino Morella (“Every week I have to put up with that. Moron.”) and MVP, Vince goes to far.

He said……………….erm……he said……………..that…………….

He said English women are ugly. Listen, I know plenty of Americans. Many are fat. That doesn’t make them all fat. English women, on the whole, are no uglier than anywhere in the world. Except Sweden, they are all babes. Oh, and Holland. And maybe Norway.

When the WWE comes to Birmhingam here in the UK in October, and I will be there, I hope I get to interview one of the men involved. And I tell you what, if I was a more interesting persona and didn’t live such a sad existence, so that I actually had a girlfriend, then I’d show them a picture of her. Actually the last one was a bit of a dog, so that might be……oh, I’m mad, ok. Bloody annoyed, you get the idea.

01.27am
I spent a long time writing that rant, and the IC title match is underway. It has also pretty much followed the plan I outline in the preview earlier on today.

01.29am
So Kennedy nails Umaga with a monitor. OK. So it’s no DQ. So why don’t they all just go mental with chairs and shit.

01.31am
I just went to the website of Aka the Wild Samoan, apparently his class involves teaching fellow Samoans the ability to hit someone to make them fall in a sitting position against the turnbuckle. Only Samoans can do that, you know. Oh, and X-Pac, but he shagged Chyna, so he doesn’t count. For anything.

01.32am
Well, its finished, and strictly speaking I’m now 2 for 2 for predicting matchwinners, although I did think that Kennedy would not be the one to job. Weird booking to me, but anyway.

01.36am
So we are about to witness the return of Rey Mysterio, and Chavo is out. He is wearing a poncho with Warrior written on it. Warrior? Are you kidding? Rey’s back, Triple H is back, Taker is coming back, and now the Warrior?

Now on WWEShopzone, Sombreros with “Destrucity” written on them, Piñatas which break when you shake the ropes, and a talking doll that says “Queering don’t make the world work, Gringos.”

And here I was having a go at English stereotypes.

01.40am
The match is underway, and speaking of the Ultimate Warrior, Rey is covered in silver paint for some reason. Those crazy Mexican make up ladies. A hundred body paints. I bet they have a thousand masks. And a Million Mascaras.

01.50am
After the secret stipulation was completed (the match couldn’t end until Rey’s body paint had worn off) Rey Mysterio does the usual for a returning superstar. That is, kick out of an apparently unkickoutable (fuck off, I know it isn’t a real word, but its nearly 2 in the pissing morning, gimme a break) move, hit his big move after 3 attempts and get the win. In the big story of the evening, I’m 3 out of 3.

01.54am
Todd Grisham gets acted off the screen by a stuffed parrot before interviewing Booker T, who both annoys and kills me at the same time. He will beat Triple H apparently. Booker, you book your own territory, so does The Game. Work it out son.

02.00am
Divas battle royal time. Women get elimitaed here and there, but because WWE divas are only cast out of one mould, JR and King don’t really know who is being eliminated.

02.05am
The phrase I would choose to sum up the Divas Battle Royal is: Assisted Bumps.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide if I mean that the girls had to practically throw themselves out of the ring, or their surgically enhanced chests.

02.08am
Beth Phoenix’s celebrations (4 from 4, by the way) are interrupted by Monty Porter. Maybe this is the contest he was talking about challenging Matt Hardy to? Diva Fucking!!

Hardy is a veteran, of course – Lita, Ashley. Matt will beat him at that, and then win the most acrimonious break up contest.

Nah, its beer drinking. Or is it. Matt says he isn’t going to compete in a beer drinking contest. He has a substitute. Quicker than you can say “The Condemned is now available is retail store and bagain bins for a buck 99” the fans are chanting for Austin. (I’d piss myself laughing if its Sandman!)

And its…………….Gillberg!!!!

No, wait, its Austin. And he is psyched for the hardcore beverage consuming contest. Fuck fear, drink (light) beer. Ernest “The Cat” Miller Lite. No mic time for Austin, just a stunner and a celebration with beer.

The ring is now covered in beer, which is now reacting with the silver paint and starting to merge to form the shape of a human man from the future. No wait, that’s Terminator 2, isn’t it?

And Judgment Day was back in May.

02.19am
OK, I gave Cryme Tyme some stick earlier on. But I’ve got to say, getting Coach, Teddy Long and then Regal to circle Vince chanting “Money, Money, Yeah, Yeah” was a masterstroke. Round it off with that damn Simmons guy (not Richard) and that was a funny segment. Regal is the funniest (and Whitest) guy in the history of the WWE.

02.22am
ECW is on fourth last then – a ‘world’ title isn’t as valuable as Triple H’s return, which is fair.

I’ve just realized I haven’t commented much on match quality since the opener. Well, the IC match was average at best, Rey and Chavo was great, would have been excellent if could have gone longer (a lot to ask of Rey, though, admittedly) and the Divas battle royal was laughable.

Punk kicks out of a few early covers, but not because he wants to win, but because he daren’t lay on the beer stained mat for too long. He’s straightedge, you know, the alcohol might permeate into his body.

02.32am
Morrison retains (and the bastard ruins my undefeated streak) in the most pissweak ending of a title match in months. That was a shame, because up until the sham of a finish, this was a solid match. To the live audience, it doesn’t matter either way, because they appear not to know who either man was. At one point, a small “CM Punk” chant started up. I swear about 10,000 people then said “ah, that’s him. And other guy looks like that kid who used to be on Tough Enough.”

Tazz says that a great man once said “By any means necessary.” Yes he did, Tazzwell, but now that man only says “Damn”, and other homophones.

02.37am
After a fantastic visual where Booker poses in the aisleway and looks like his hair is on fire, and an announcement that JR might be bias – hope that guys who broke your arm gets his ass kicked, huh Jim? – here comes the returning Triple H, complete with 3 part theme music.

The intro included the “Gentleman, we can rebuild him.” I would say that about 4% of the WWE’s target audience actually get that reference. If you do, I hope you share with me the irony that the line in question was used for a character called Steve Austin.

Not the WWE’s Steve Austin either. Not the Bionic Redneck, but the Bionic Man. Or the Six Million Dollar man. Or are they the same guy? Anyway, I don’t mean Steve Williams. Not Dr. Death Steve Williams, the other Steve Williams.

The bell has gone, and Booker attacks………….

No, not Tiger Woods’ caddy Steve Williams, I mean the wrestler, who isn’t Dr Death. And not Dr Death the Batman Villain, nor Jack Kervorkian or Harold Shipman.

(If you don’t know who Jack Kervorkian is, then here is a random line from his Wikipedia page – “In the 1980s, Kevorkian wrote a series of articles for the German journal Medicine and Law that laid out his thinking on the ethics of euthanasia. fuckin bitch who does this kinf of shit. go to hell”. I’m not kidding, that’s what it says. Go take a look - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Kevorkian)

Anyway, its Triple H, not A Texas Rattlesnake, not Dr Death, not a Six Million Dollar man, not a golf caddy, not a killer medical practitioner.

Back to the match, and…………oh its finished.

Anyway, big entrance? Check. Dominant performance? Check. Kick out of a finisher (The Book End)? Check. Three attempts to hit his move (Pedigree)? Check. A win?

If you don’t know the answer to that, you are too stupid to live, to own a computer or to write for the WWE creative team.

02.52am
And if you thought the people were pumped up for the return of The Game, how excited do you think they’ll be for a Great Khali match?

02.57am
A video airs for the Smackdown Title match, and basically puts over the Indian Giant’s now vice grip move. Please, please, please let me see him do that move on Hornswoggle, That would be awesome.

03.08am
Did you know that the common Dormouse can breed once or twice a year, have a typical size of 2-3” and live about 5 years? Too boring? OK, how about the fact that the largest employer in Liechtenstein is a company that manufactures concrete fastening systems? Still boring?

OK, try this Batista won by DQ after Khali got bored (who didn’t) and hit The Animal with a chair. Still bored.

OK, here’s a hot chick. http://forum.football365.com/index.php?t=msg&th=385082

Am I forgiven? Good

Anyway, after a “boring” chant, Michael Cole announced that the fans were understandably irritated. JBL, at the close of the match, refrained from shouting ‘ball game’ and instead denounced the ending, stating that the fans deserve better. Bradshaw, my old friend, you are spot on.

As for my prediction, technically I was wrong, because I said Great Khali would win. But he did retain. Can I have a half point? If you let me have a half point I’ll give you another hot chick. I’ll wait to hear from you.

03.19am
Its time for the main event. The usual mixed Cena reception, but nothing too postive towards Randy either.

03.21am
King just dropped a Liechtenstein reference, I swear to God I did mine first!

03.24am
Maybe I was wrong – noticeable support for Orton. Say what you like about limited movesets for these guys and the superior talent of someone like Punk, Punk wrestled solidly for 10 minutes to no reaction. Orton got a headlock in then knocked Cena down with a shoulderblock and the roof nearly came off the Meadowlands.

03.41am
Orton just missed his big punt, and Cena has the STFU applied. Orton reaches the ropes. I just want to note know that I think Orton did a little Iron Sheik homage by tapping his boot on the mat three times.

03.42am
This just in from the Sheik:
“RandyOrtonjaghsnosdfndgbdswonkydonkeyfbkdskndsfbkjnculcbskdbcbslovealbatrossfnsdvfsvsasextyphoonfbdsdfbsdbfsbdstarofstallionfarmvvvvvsadsdldonkldsncsndcnsancsdncn” Or something.

03.43am
Damn it. Cena got the win. Not that I’m a huge Cena hater or an Orton mark. I just thought the time was right. I thought that match was decent. It had the big fight atmosphere, as JBL said (wrongly) about the previous match. I would liked to have seen a little more believable set of false finishes, because as soon as Randy hit the RKO out of the STFU, he played up an injury, meaning you knew Cena would kick out of the pin. 10 seconds later, it was over after an FU.

A better main event than I expected.

Predcitions were 5-3 tonight, and ironically the 3 I got wrong were all title matches!

Overall I thought that it was an average Pay Per View, better than a lot of ones we’ve seen this year, but that’s like saying stale bread is tastier than tree bark. Seeing Austin was cool, but for me every PPV needs two or three of that size of events. No-one turns face or heel, returns unannounced, or pulls off a miraculous result anymore. That’s the biggest problem. The match quality wasn’t, and generally isn’t high, but in the modern product, that is secondary to good psychology and entertainment. That is why the main event was good. It had the crowd completely into it and told a story.

Forced into a numbers rating I’ll go 6.5/10. Not fantastic, but passable, and much better than a lot of 4 or less out of 10 shows we’ve seen of late. Nowhere near Wrestlemania though.