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Saturday, 23 June 2007

More talk about Vince? No Vengeance in hell. (yeah, that was pretty weak)

So the next WWE Pay Per View comes hurtling into view, and it doesn’t seem four weeks since the last one.

And that’s because it was three.

To me, there are far too many Pay Per Views at the moment. Two problems with this: the first is that people only have so much disposable income. To watch all the PPVs, even for viewers here in the UK, for whom not every big show requires payment, is a considerable outlay. And for that, you want quality.

Which leads me to the second problem. Pay Per Views used to be when matches you were looking forward to took place, rivalries came to a bitter end, and major turning pints occurred. Now, this is very rare.

On Sunday’s Vengeance card you have three matches we’ve seen at least once on PPV (Edge/Batista, Melina/Candice, Hardys/Cade & Murdoch), two which were decided in the last 10 days of programming via qualification (Punk/Benoit, Yang/Chavo) and two which have basically no build up (Flair/MVP, Marella/Umaga).

And why is this? Well, the injury crisis hasn’t helped. Having several major stars out of the picture isn’t helpful to anyone. And obviously, the whole Vince’s Limo angle has overshadowed events of late.

So what will happen Sunday? Let’s take a look……..

US Title: Ric Flair v MVP (c)
As mentioned, zero build up to this, and no real reason to care, really. Logically, I don’t understand what Flair has done to earn this shot, ahead of, lets say Finlay, or indeed Khali, who was challenging for the most prestigious title in the company three weeks ago, and now can’t be seen. I’m not complaining, like, but logically Flair isn’t in the reckoning.

He is, though, still popular and a draw, so that is likely the reason for strong-arming him in somewhere.

I’d have this opening the show, as you know it’ll be fairly solid and likely not overlong. This is probably a slight ‘feed’ for MVP, who has shown massive potential and development during his feud with Benoit. The Porter/Benoit feud was, I would suggest, the catalyst for sending The Crippler to ECW, where he can do the same kind of this with Burke, Punk, Cor Von, etc.

I’m taking MVP to win this, probably with a liberal helping of tights or ropes to assist him. A US title reign does nothing for Flair, while a victory over the Nature Boy elevates MVP somewhat. A victory over “The dirtiest player in the game” through cheating makes sense.

WWE Tag Team Titles: The Hardys v Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch ©
For me, the title change should have occurred in their first match. Cade and Murdoch don’t look impressive for having beaten the Hardys, because when they did claim the gold, Matt and Jeff were selling their injuries from a ladder match.

Had their first encounter been a title switch, you could have had the rematch as the second bout on PPV, and the titles going back to the boys from Raleigh on the third go-round.

Anyhoo, they did it this way, and perhaps it’s because they intend to keep the belts on Cade and Murdoch. I think it is more likely that The Hardys regain the titles, and go on to face London and Kendrick. I hope so anyway, because that would make for cracking viewing.

I’ll go for the Hardys, because Londrick should be waiting, and because I don’t think WWE have the nerve to job them on Pay Per View.

World Tag Team title Open Challenge.
Deuce and Domino have apparently issued an open challenge for their titles. Whoopee.

There is only one other team on SmackDown, which is the Major Brothers, so logically it’ll be them, unless the WWE decide to go with what they do on occasions, which is mismatched partners who win a belt, then go on to feud. I can only find, though, with the help of’s Smackdown Superstars page, four available babyfaces: Shannon Moore, Funaki, Kane and Eugene. Kane and Eugene has to be a possibility, but I’d still plump that it’ll be the Majors.

The only other option is to have a Raw team step up, perhaps Cryme Time or The Highlanders, in which case they could win the belts and move to SD, making a complete mockery of the Draft (get the “R” out).

Since I have to make a prediction, I’ll say that whoever the challengers are will win.

Cruiserweight Title: Jimmy Wang Yang v Chavo Guerrero ©
This should be a fairly solid encounter, with Chavo being another Benoit-like character, who can help others to improve. This, I would suggest is why is Cruiserweight champion, much like Dean Malenko several years ago.

I don’t see any change to his situation, and the booking up to this show backs up his retention claims, in my eyes. Booking JWY to look a credible challenger, beating Chavo in previous encounters, the WWE are trying to stress he is good enough to pull off the win at Vengeance. Not for me.

Should be decent, but Chavo will win.

Womens Championship: Melina Perez © v Candice Michelle
With more silicon in the ring than is in the PC I’m typing this on, I’m not expecting a catch-as-catch-can classic, but this shouldn’t be a complete disaster. Candice has shown significant improvement of late, and Melina’s character is a strong one, so this feud has been reasonably watchable.

I think Melina will retain, as I don’t think they would be able to rely on Candice to be quite strong enough to carry the title just yet.

Intercontinental Title: Santino Marella © v Umaga
To be fair, I got sick of the underdog routine after Barry Horowitz’s second match, so subsequent similar angles with Crash Holly, Spike Dudley and now Santino Marella don’t particularly interest me.

My first instinct was that this would be simply a way of taking the belt away from the Italian, by virtue of the fact that Umaga is an unstoppable monster (unless you’re Cena or Lashley, of course). However, a Regal v Marella programme was teased on Raw, with the attractive, though not exactly Oscar-nominated, Maria in the middle. And that makes more sense as a title encounter, rather than a feud for the hell of it. And where does the Samaon Bulldozer go with the belt?

Tricky one. I’ll stick with Umaga, because I can’t see him being dropped after ht push his character has received, to lose to Marella. Remember, the reason he lost in the first place was because Lashley imposed himself.

ECW World Title: Chris Benoit v CM Punk (title currently vacant)
Hopefully this will be given plenty of time, a sensible position on the card (about third last) and a sensible, clean finish.

What this match needs is for that rarest of beasts to occur – a match which finishes clean, but manages to put over both men at the same time. It’s a tough ask, but these men are up to.

Benoit needs to win this. CM Punk is a future star, should be a future world Champion, but needs time to develop and perfect his craft. There is no hurry; Bret Hart was 35 before winning his first WWF title – Punk is just 28.

And the point I made previously about losing a match but still getting over? Steve Austin was a ‘future star’ until Bret Hart beat him in five-star classic at Wrestlemania 13. This was the catalyst for Austin’s career, and he took off after this.

So give the ECW title to Benoit, but book it closely, with loads of near falls and false finishes, perhaps throw in Punk not tapping to the crossface after prolonged pressure, and Benoit winning with a wresting hold. Follow this with a handshake of respect, and you might be talking Match of the Year contendership.

I don’t think I’ve looked forward to a match quite as much for some time. I hope they deliver. Benoit to win, just.

World Heavyweight Championship: Edge © v Batista
This is quite tricky to call, I think. I’ve been quite impressed that Edge has been booked to win reasonably cleanly twice, to be honest. Once again, back to the logic thing, how many consecutive title matches has Batista failed to win? I make it 5. Now the first one he lost the belt, so earns a rematch. Then there were two draws, so fair enough. But he didn’t really earn the last one, nor this.

Anyway, here we are, and most reports I have read seem to be saying to put your house on Edge to win. I’m not so confident.

It’s interesting to note that this is now a “Last Chance match” rather than a “do or die” match. Presumably the bad taste surrounding the Mr. McMahon explosion or even Sherri Martel’s passing. Anyway, so if Batista doesn’t win, he doesn’t get another title shot while Edge is champion.

Back to the lack of faces on the Smackdown roster, and I’m trying to see where Edge goes next if he wins. And all I can see is a returning Rey Mysterio. Otherwise, Batista can be set for title programmes with Mark Henry or The Great Khali – I didn’t say they;d be pretty, but its likely, isn’t it?

So against the grain, I’m going to plump for Batista. Although I reserve the right to award myself a late half-point if Edge wins and feuds with Mysterio next.

WWE Championship Challenge match – John Cena © v Randy Orton v King Booker v Bobby Lashley v Mick Foley.
I think that I have to wheel out the old patented (the patent finally came through) McNichol Eliminator for this one. But it might not get me that far……..

Firstly, Mick Foley doesn’t win. He can’t, that’s nonsense, forget it.

Next, Booker isn’t going to take this. He isn’t nearly as high a calibre as the other three remaining. If it goes to a heel, it goes to Randy Orton. And can you see someone who is admittedly talented, but with a played-out gimmick headlining the flagship show? No. He’s out.

So we are down to Cena, Lashley and Orton. Three ‘untouchables’.

Cena and Lashley have been the unstoppable champions, overcoming all odds and defeating most everything in their path, almost Hogan-style. Randy Orton, meanwhile, despite the occasional destruction of a hotel room and defecation in Diva’s bags, is favoured currently – mainly because Triple H wants him kept strong until The Game himself returns.

I really am struggling, and the McNichol Eliminator Add-on of a random guess isn’t fully developed yet, so I have to try and be logical.

I’m going for a bit of wild stab. I’m going for Orton.

Why? Well first of all, I’ll say that he won’t be pinning Cena or Lashley. I suspect that Foley’s inclusion might be so that Orton can pin a face without making Cena or Lashley seem weak by comparison. Cena then says he wasn’t pinned for the belt, Lashley hasn’t lost cleanly since he lost the ECW one, so they are still strong.

And as an extra variable, what about Cena being accused of the McMahon limo explosion? I’m not saying that he’ll be revealed as the one who did it, but I could see some sort of angle where Coach, with support from Stephanie, stops Cena from having any more title involvement, while they investigate him.

Prediction: Randy Orton, and that I need to design McNichol Eliminator 2.0.

So there we are. I am actually really looking forward to Vengeance, mainly because of Benoit and Punk, which I expect to be excellent, and the Raw, WWE championship match which I really have no idea who’ll come out victorious.

Enjoy Vengeance, I’ll see you back here on Monday for a recap.

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