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Monday, 2 April 2007

Sportz entertainment is here to stay!

Wrestlemania 23 last night from Detroit was an event which will not have pleased the traditionalist, but for newer fans of the genre, and those enjoy a great story told and a rollercoaster ride, then last night 4-hour cruise in the Motor City was up your street.

And pour moi, a fairly respectable 5 out of 8 on the predictions front. Let’s take a look.

We kick off with Rikishi singing “America the Beautiful”. Shouldn’t he have done “Samoa the Wonderful” or something? Ok it was Aretha Franklin, but it was the spit of when The Big Kish dressed up as a woman for the Stephanie/Bischoff HLA spot a few years back. (and if you see that reference elsewhere, I swear I told my Sun colleague Simon that one!)

The announcers are all introduced, and I thought it was a nice touch by Joey Styles and Tazz to mention JR and Lawler’s Hall of Fame induction, but little would they know by the end of the night ECW announcer are the NEW Spanish broadcast team.

A brave move to go with the Money in the Bank to open the show, and I do feel it was an error to have so many people involved. Don’t get me wrong, the match was excellent, and with a legacy of Ladder matches and TLCs at Wrestlemania, this had some tough acts to follow, but I felt that by having 8 men involved, when a spot for two men had to be done, it felt a bit tacked on that 6 blokes were down injured to allow it to happen.

CM Punk does the swinging ladder spot – its CM FUNK!!

Obviously the biggest talking point will be the Bombs Away splash that Jeff Hardy did onto Edge, and if that was all gimmicked, then it was a truly awesome spot. I want to think that both guys are fine, that the ladder was built to break and that it was a spot to build to a feud. I spy an Edge interview where he blames Jeff Hardy for not getting a title shot, that Jeff could have taken the gold but would rather try to kill Edge. It might take Edge to spur the clearly talented but lethargic Jeff hardy to a series of good encounters.

Anyway, prediction 1 comes in. There are big things in Ken Kennedy’s future. He can do the business in the ring, has a terrific look and cuts a mean promo. Although if he does the Money in the Bank……….bank tag line too much it might start to sound like an intense episode of The Weakest Link.

Predictions: 1-0

Kane v The Great Khali was, as expected a slow, run of the mill affair. Mercifully, it was fairly short, and since I was expecting very little my expectations were met. I have no idea where they are going with Khali – who can he possibly feud with. They have done the Taker and Kane feuds, Show is gone, and he stinks up the place. The only way he can get worse is if they feud him with Chris Masters.

Anyhoo, I said Khali would win, so that’s another for me.

Predictions: 2-0

We hit the backstage area for a fun backstage nostalgia spot, involving Cryme Tyme talking to Eugene, cheering him up with the ECW expose dancers, who were then joined by Moolah and Mae Young. Oh dear. Anyway, The Doctor of Style, Slick, made a reappearance, as did Jimmy Hart, IRS, Sgt. Slaughter, Brisco, Patterson, Steamboat (major pop) The Dream, and then Simmons………….damn! Fun spot needed after Kane-Khali put all to sleep.

Next up was MVP v Benoit, with little build up or excitement, but MVP came up with the best performance of his short WWE career in my opinion, and a neat little technical battle, with psychology followed through because Benoit couldn’t beat him with the crossface due to his injured arm. MVP’s stock raised, but my first prediction failure.

I’d love to know who put this match together, as in which agents, or whether it was just the combatant, because it was very nicely worked. MVP wrestled terrifically here, but he has an awful gimmick. Ditch that and he could go places.

Predictions: 2-1

Clip from the Hall of Fame Ceremony, and it shows that Howard Finkel is more over than MVP.

Backstage Donald Trump is visited by the Boogeyman and no-sells him. Elsewhere, The Big Show smiles and Jim Cornette hits a trainee. (For the lawyers reading, no he didn’t – actually I love James E, so don’t take me seriously)

The World title match is here, and a poll shows Undertaker is expected to win by more than 80% of the audience. My Sun colleague Simon, who is in the building, describes Batista as having a ‘doing the job’ face. Quelle Surprise.

I think Undertaker’s entrance was longer than the whole Women’s title match later in the evening.

JBL shows what a great Colour guy he is, and UT takes the stairs spot as only he can. Some steady brawling here, but big spots hit, and OH MY GOD, Joey Styles and Tazz have to scram as their table is smashed – told you J

This tells you the nature of a character being over: The Undertaker is receiving enormous reaction on every punch. Yes, punches are the most over thing of the night, that is how great Taker is.

Taker kicks out of the Batista Bomb, and big Dave is DEAD after the Tombstone.

Typical Deadman celebration, and I spot a fan with a whiteboard saying 15-0. What a great idea! A whiteboard to wipe off and create new signs on the fly! Well done that man.

Anyway, I said taker to win, so 3-1 at half-time.

Predictions: 3-1

Backstage we go again, and Mystic Mack has struck – did I or did I not say pre-Mania Stephanie would appear. Well she does, and it seems that she has given birth to a CAMERA. Gynecologists unite in shock, as they thought WWE females only gave birth to styrofoam hands.

ECW New Breed v Originals now, and its concessions time in the arena, as a boring match leads to RVD getting a pin to delight or enthusiasm of no-one, including himself. I feels sorry for Tommy Dreamer, as he seems to genuinely love doing what he is doing, but the rest dial it in. I get another one wrong.

How pale is Kevin Thorn? From now on, with his Vampire tendencies, I will now refer to him as White Fang.

Predictions: 3-2

The Hitman is on PPV!! OK, it was Thomas Hearns and no Bret Hart, but even so……….

From the quartets to the Barbershop, and what is undoubtedly the best story of the evening. Lashley and Umaga do a decent job, with The Bulldozer even doing in the inside-out flip like his old man, who is now resting after his America the Beautiful effort. But the interest is on Austin and the Billionaires. Ref bump (on Austin!) leads to Shane’s intervention. He and Umaga double team Lashley, Shane hits a Van Terminator before Austin recovers to nail Shane-O-Mac, Trump spears McMahon (GORE! Gore by Trump!) and Austin drops a stunner on Umaga.

The chair comes in, and McMahon does the facial expressions only he can, and the three faces get to work shaving Vinny Mac’s bonce.

And then to cap it off, after downing beers with Austin and Lashley, Trump eats a Stunner. Great stuff all round.

Predicitions: 4-2

Out come the ladies, and lumberjills surround the ring. It is suggested on commentary that Ashley, playboy covergirls, if you haven’t heard, it one of the sexiest women on earth. This despite evidence to the contrary, as she isn’t even one of the sexiest girls around that ring. I’ll take Torrie, Candice, Maria, Brooke, Layla, Kelly and the lovely Mickie James any day of the week. In fact there are seven there, I’ll have one a day for a week.

Melina wins a match which makes Kane/Khali look like Flair v Steamboat. Boring and pointless, and the girls all have a scrap at the end for the hell of it. It looked like a hen night in Blackpool.

Predictions 4-3

HBK v Cena round the night off, and there is no doubt that Cena is the biggest player WWE have had since Rock and Austin retired. I don’t care if some cheer and some boo. Its better they do that than do nothing. Everything he does has some reaction.

However, this match started incredibly slowly, and I feared the worst especially when it looked to me as though HBK genuinely hurt his knee doing a springboard moonsault onto the announce table. (By the way, he did that spot two years ago, but he couldn’t perform the whole moonsault, more a spinning cross-body. Shows that the guy is in great shape) It picked up, and to be fair, Michaels led Cena to a belter.

I think it was obvious Cena would go over, and the only thing now is where to take this? I smell a rematch before Triple H returns to the picture. Although depending on how soon he cashes in the Money in the Bank, Kennedy/Cena will make a great programme.

Final Predicitions: 5-3

Not a bad score really, and certainly a terrific ‘mania. I think it was so good because I didn’t really expect much. The match quality wasn’t sky high, and there were certainly no classics in the region of HBK/Angle or Bret/Austin, but even so, very solid storytelling and great performances – I don’t recall any or many blown spots.

8.5 out of ten, only diminished by three slow matches and a slight lack of technical skill, MVP and Benoit apart.

It would be interesting to know what you guys think, do post your comments.

1 comment:

Paul. B. said...

Good little article/blog/column/whatever the phrase is nowadays.

A couple thoughts of my own:

Apart from one or two decent spots, the MITB match was the weakest out of the three done so far. Obviously as you say having eight people didn't help. Was also good for Punk that he was the last person Kennedy had to deal with before grabbing, as shows they do see something in him.

With that baby cam style shot being used on Raw as well, do you think it's just the fact that Vince McMahon is looking forward to the new series of peep show so much, that he wants to create his own version in a kind of homage to the show?

The Trump no-sell of the Boogeyman was great. Funniest moment of the evening. It would have been better if Cornette had rushed to the ring during the match, slapped trump, and then Vinnie Mac got on the microphone and shouts "youuuurrrre fiiirrrreeeed!".

I have to say that there were a few women in that Lumberjills match that I didn't even recognise.

I've heard of girls being rough, but Ashley looks like human sandpaper! Poor Paul London is all I will say.

The women's match wasn't as bad as it could have been, i.e. it wasn't full of massively botched moves. The main issue with the match was that it was sloooow (presumably so Ashley couldn't mess anything up). In fact that match was so slow, it was like watching Jade Goody counting the change in her purse.

You know when Michael Cole mentions that watching RVD is like watching the film the matrix? By which he means he flows through the ring, almost like he's in slow motion? Well that women's match was like the matrix, in the fact that the monkeyflip in corner they did was perhaps the slowest I've ever seen, so much so that the force of landing must have been so small that it would be like landing on a bed of pillows, floating on jelly.

Don't you think that Vince looks about 20 or 30 years older without hair? He also looks less intimidating.

With that hat he wore on Raw, he looked like he was auditioning for a role in Dick Tracy.

Also, about when he had the hat on, did it look to you like Vince was going into the ring so angry, not because he had lost his hair the previous night, but rather because he was struggling to find a copy of 'Fly Fishing' by J.R.Hartley?

Just a quick note about Raw. When HBK was interviewed after the battle royals and he said that he had to throw Cena out because the tag-titles were getting in the way, why didn't he do it in the first battle royal? Because he supposedly didn't know about the second one. It didn't make sense.

I do disagree with you slightly about your rating of the event. I think that 7.5 would be more likely, as remember that 8.5 would be saying is was excellent, which is wasn't. It was good, and there were a couple of decent matches, but there was nothing about it that in twelve months you would fondly remember too much. The head-shaving was obviously memorable, etc, but it lacked the twists and shocks that 'manias should have to start further storylines and advance others. The only real storyline that was advanced in anyway was the Cena/HBK one. Same with Raw the next night.