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Tuesday, 31 July 2007

RAW needs to play the Long game. (And I don’t mean Smackdown’s Teddy)

I have just finished watching this week’s episode of RAW, and while I normally would be anxious to see what kind of rating it pulls in, this time I am much more concerned about how this show is followed up next week.

I have read this week that USA Network executives are onto Vince McMahon and his team to improve ratings, and that they are interested in taking the RAW show to three hours. I believe there was even a rumour that USA are pressuring WWE to try to show more of people like Steve Austin, Mick Foley, The Undertaker, and have even seen the names Sable and Chyna come up, although there might be more chance of me being on than these two again.

In my opinion, several things are necessary for WWE to ‘stop the bleeding’ and redress the falling ratings trend.

Firstly, take time to build character, and most importantly keep the viewer guessing. This week’s show

Here in the UK, we have a beautiful thing called Sky Plus. I’m not sure what the American equivalent is, or indeed what exists in a similar vein in the rest of the world, but essentially a key element of Sky Plus is that you get to fast forward, rewind, pause etc. TV as you please. I have found myself increasingly watching Raw in about an hour. Watching all the backstage segments and in-ring promos, but having the matches on six-times normal speed, just about being able to make out who is on top, suits me fine.

The seemingly infinite amount of replays, recaps from earlier in the night for people with the memory of a goldfish, plus video packages from previous weeks or about stuff I know (Snitsky, Triple H, Booker/Jerome) earn themselves the +30 treatment – that’s as fast as I can fast forward.

But this week, I got tripped up. Raw took me over two hours. And I skipped all the adverts.

I watched the opening segment, which by the way featured possibly the three most entertaining guys in the mic in the company, in Cena Carlito and Kennedy, and I enjoyed it. But when Kennedy v Lashley and Cena v Carlito were set up, I sighed. Lashley takes punishment and looks imperious, Cena overcomes the odds and probably gets attacked post-match by Orton. Same old, same old.

So I flicked through the beginning of the show, slowing the TV every now and again to hear JR get Jillian’s name wrong THREE times, and then to gaze at Maria. (ah, Maria).

I listen to Santino’s speech. Perhaps it’s the easy stereotyping, but Marella always remind me of the Italian restaurateur from The Simpsons. (“Eh, Salvatore, get-a some pasta for the ugly kid-a. And-a tell-a de boss not to keep-a booking me with Jamal. Dah, I mean Umaga-a.) Anyway, I watched him get flattened because it’s fun.

A bigger sigh as we find out its Orton v Sgt. Slaughter. Yawn, another squash.

I watched Cody v Daivari in full because I’m interested in how this young man will develop. There is a lot of Rocky Maivia in his build up thus far, with was short-term good, slightly longer-term bad, then major long-term exceptional. I hope they give Cody a chance at being face and heel within his opening year, so they can point his career the best way. I’m not saying he’ll be the next Dwayne Johnson, but perhaps he’ll be in the ballpark.

So then it was Kennedy v Bobby Lashley, and put me in a mask and cal me Kwang, I called it wrong. Kennedy wins.

More to the point, Lashley loses!

That, folks is a big thing. Not because I’m saying they’ve ended Lashley’s push. I think this may symbolise a new ethos among the RAW booking team.

It was so shocking, I missed the ending. That’s right, my machine was doing its super-speed gimmick (that wasn’t a Randy Orton joke) and I missed the end, because essentially I was waiting for a spear to hit. The fact Kennedy beat Lashley clean is hopefully a signpost that the man really called Ken Anderson is scheduled for big things.

Later on RAW, after a puzzlingly long Cryme Time segment that went nowhere, a storyline-progressive Booker v Lawler match, and a predicted Orton annihilation of Sarge, the main event came. Of course it was due to Orton’s intervention, but Carlito picked up the win. Yes the ‘in the doghouse’ Carlito.

Now, mark this. Khali beat Cena. But in a non-title match. Shawn Michaels beat Cena – but in a non-title match. Cena beat both of these men on PPV with the belt on the line, and the challengers winning over the The Champ was a way of building up to future clashes.

So is Carlito in line for a title match? Will it be triple threat at Summerslam. Will Kennedy or Lashley be inserted somehow. And what of Jeff Hardy, who beat Kennedy the week before, was scheduled to face Umaga, but wasn’t even seen on RAW this week?

At the moment, Randy Orton is the number one contender, but Cody Rhodes-Runnells is after him. And remember Triple H is lurking.

I like the way the lines are blurred here. We’ve seen a RAW that admittedly was padded with obvious squashes and sub-standard ‘funny’ segments. However, it had a couple of shocks, some good mic work and interesting storyline progression.

In the early Vince Russo days people watched because he wrote interested, shocking TV. He let it go to his head and started writing nonsense (mainly WCW) but when his name is vilified in the Wrestling Press, it ought to be remembered that when he was top man for the WWF writing team, they ruled the world, and have never been that high in terms of popularity again.

The reason the rating has dropped, short term, is the Benoit case and the surrounding hype of steroids in wrestling. This is a significant issue which needs to be addressed, must be addressed and will be addressed. The important thing for the WWE to do is to continue producing solid TV, which entertains and amuses the hardcore fans. And I don’t mean hardcore in the ECW sense – I mean those of us that watch come what may.

Focus on entertaining us, the mainstays, the diehards. If we like it, others will join, see a coherent piece of serial television and join. Don’t use Kevin Federline’s and people like that to spike ratings for two weeks. The people you’ve tempted back on the promise of a name and shock will be let down because it sucks. And eventually these people will stop coming back.

Three hour RAWs would be terrible, because it would mean over exposure of the top guys, longer matches which may be more entertaining, but would actually take away from the essence of selling Pay Per Views, and more tedious skits which don’t work. Add in more pressure and potential for injury leading to (whisper it) reliance on medication and it’s a recipe for trouble.

As is calling on people past their prime. Use the Benoit tragedy and a stepping stone if you like.

Apologies to the Hart family, but two of the worst things that ever happened to them may have helped the business. The ‘screwing’ of Bret Hart meant the creation of ‘Mr. McMahon’ who went on to set the sports entertainment world alight with his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin. The sad and untimely death of Owen hart made Mr. McMahon realise that he was perhaps a little out of touch and allowed the stars themselves more leeway for character development. This led to more air time for Foley, Rock, Angle, Triple H, Benoit, Jericho, Edge, Christian, The Dudleys, The Hardys and everyone else who made 2000 possibly the best year in WWE history.

Maybe they can go from this Benoit incident and realise that we don’t want to watch gene Snitsky. We don’t want Test, Matt Morgan, A-Train, Great Khali, Nathan Jones, Bull Buchannan, or any amount of freaks with limited talents who succeed because they are nearly seven foot and look carved out of granite. No matter how often JR and Michale Cole tell us how athletic they are.

Every now and again, you get an Undertaker, Kane or Brock Lesnar from this group, but they are the exception not the rule.

Maybe they can focus on the future and continue to build on what could well be decent foundations.

Or maybe this is yet another in a series of false dawns.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Live Great American Bash notes

The best result of the night so far – I thought it was on Box Office – just went to order it, and it’s free! I don’t have to pay for the Pay Per View I am least looking forward to for my whole life.

Hype video time, and the intro says that the Bash is an ‘American tradition’. Now Cole says it’s a ‘Sports Entertainment Tradition’. It’s traditionally shit, is what it is.

The bell rings on what could very well be the highlight of the night. Risky step to throw what could be your strongest card in first.

Terrific early spot where Matt Hardy attempted to roll through to counter an armbar and MVP rolled through to counter the counter. Followed up by a perfect plancha by Matt. The match was a little disjointed at time during the middle, but was well served in making each man look good, keeping them even.

The rolling pinning combination MVP did on 12 minutes was superb, and I bought the schoolboy ending shortly after when Porter missed the boot JBL kept on about.

Disappointing ending in the sense that the boot and playmaker looked sloppy, but solid opening contest generally, and pleasing to see it go nearly 14 minutes.

JBL, for the second time, compares MVP to FedEx, because he always delivers. In my experience, that means MVP delivers, not always in the right time limit, and if you want a match you struggle to get hold of his agent, can’t get the paperwork right and then you may turn up at the wrong address.

Dustay (sic) delivers on the stick. Quelle surprise. I wonder if the only reason why Dusty often appears on screen with his offspring is to prove he isn’t gay. He is as camp as a row tents, isn’t he?

Actually, no he isn’t, as he’ll prove in the bull rope match, when he dresses as a cowboy, and pulls off the chaps.

Cruiserweight open next, and it occurs to me that Funaki hasn’t been an announcer in years, but still has SmackDown on his tights.

Right, I’m declaring the prediction void. Err……..Hornswoggle is the Cruiserweight champion? In a bizarre twist, Finlay little bas……I mean sidekick, takes Chavo’s strap. When he did a cameo at the start of the match, I thought it was maybe setting up Rey Mysterio coming from under the ring to cost Chavo the belt. Instead, a leprechaun now holds the (pot of) gold.

Leprechauns can win titles – what a load of cobblers.

Have you noticed how Sandman is in the midst of a push with no victories? Here he comes, through the crowd, sans beer, ready to face Carlito. No beer? Maybe Carlito had taken the beer out of the fridge. That’s not cool.

Just wondering, is Sandman/Carlito/Regal the first ever three-way feud featuring solely Southpaws?

Are you keeping track folks? So far, that’s a Cruiserweight title match won by someone not in the match, and a Singapore Cane match where precisely no can shots were landed.

Sometimes JR staggers me in the levels of excessive hype he uses. Candice Michelle, en route to the ring to face Melina, is said to be receiving a ‘tremendous ovation’ a nice ripple of enthuasism, maybe. A frisson of excitement, perhaps. Not a tremendous ovation. Then, she is the best women’s champ in recent years This is correct.

Except Trish, Mickie, Melina, Victoria, Molly, Lita, Jazz, Gail Kim, Ivory, Jacqueline and Chyna.

She’s better than Harvey Wippleman though. Just.

Candice has won, and now she is ‘arguably the most beautiful women’s champion ever’. Ok, better, but still inaccurate.

I’ll take Trish, Mickie, Melina and Molly before Candice. Dusty took Wippleman.

Candice, water, dancing, Simmons, Damn, etc.

A surprisingly good IC title match. Another genuine false finish when Jeff hit the Swanton, but Umaga ultimately taking it. Jeff Hardy is a maverick. Sometimes he looks sluggish and unfocussed, and sometimes he appears on top of his game. This match was the latter, and he make Umaga look devastating while at the same time looking good himself. Kudos to whoever booked the details of the match.

ECW @ the GAB for the first time. If Morrison just bails on the match, is he taking the Safeway out?

If anyone needed any evidence as to why it is important that characters are built up on TV shows to get people over, watch the ECW title match back again. Given seven minutes, the match had no heat, no crowd reaction as near as the Matt/MVP match, and not even nearly the same league as Umaga/Jeff. CM Punk could and should be a big star, but he cannot do it on ECW.

The two or three minutes of build up to this match, with Orton building heel heat and Dusty playing to the crowd generates more noise than any part of the ECW Title bout.

Almost to disprove my above two points, Orton applies a chinlock for about 3 minutes.

Orton wins a match which made Melina/Candice look like Flair/Steamboat, but as expected, Cody makes an appearance to further his development, and Orton looks like a ruthless bastard.

And here is Kane. Its some situation where he is the high flying mobile one, isn’t it?

JBL says he doesn’t think one man can beat Khali. What is Cena then, an automaton?
Oh, and while I’m giving JBL announcing tips, maybe you should try saying “Ball Game” a bit more.

I’ve got it. Putting that abysmal match on will make the two golden boys, Cena and Lashley, look that bit better. Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad for the WWE that people keep getting injured all over the place, but that was as bad as it comes. Khali wins? They really, REALLY, hate Batista.

Something I never budgeted for was the fact that the crowd would be split down the middle for these men. Definite mixed reactions for both guys.

To be fair, that was not bad at all. Not a classic, and certainly not the most fluent, but I’ll give them a lot of credit for putting together a well told story, with plenty of near falls and close finishes. Fair play for booking a clean win for Cena too.

Handshake? Yes. That suggests to me that these two are done. The future? Send Lashley to Smackdown to conquer the Great Khali, and lets see Kennedy get in Cena’s face.

The Bash? Better than Vengence, better than expected, but still a ‘must do better’ verdict for the slack build up, preparation and booking for yet another WWE PPV.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Having a Bash at predictions........

Hi Guys,

Stupidly busy last few days, muchos apologias, but I’m here now, and with the Pay Per View mere hours away, on with the predictions.

Can I firstly please point out that the title of the PPV includes the most flagrant use of the word ‘great’ in the history of the English lexicon?

This Pay Per View, with a history of abysmal shows, isn’t looking like being a 5-star classic this time either. As I pointed out in a previous entry, the fact that Cena/Lashley causes me a real interest in how they will book this, actually gives me a small sense of intrigue, but what terrifies me is the similarities to a dying WCW that I see in the line up.

Not only is the title of the event an old WCW name, not only is Dusty Rhodes involved in a prominent role, but let’s take a look at some similarities to the 1998 version.

In 1998, the undercard featured such talents as Booker T, (whisper it) Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, Juventud Guerrera, Chavo Guerrero, Eddy Guerrero, Booker T and Fit Finlay.

The top of the card saw such limited competitors as The Giant (Big Show) and Goldberg, and past it has-beens who put on crap matches, like Roddy Piper, Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan. Worth pointing out that neither Hall or Nash were on this show either, nor Ed Leslie, The Warrior, Sid Vicious, Buff Bagwell, Lex Luger, or any other talentless inhabitant of the airspace above the glass ceiling.

Tonight, we see MVP v Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Carlito, Chavo Guerro in undercard matches. Shelton Benjamin, Brian Kendrick, Brian London, King Booker, Mr. Kennedy, Elijah Burke and Marcus Cor Von are all absent from the show.

Obviously, the above list pales in comparison to the talents of the WCW 1998 undercard, but you can see my point.

The top of the card this year features the catch-as-catch-can talents of The Great Khali, Batista, John Cena, Booby (not a typo, look at the pcs on the guy) Lashley, Kane, and *ahem* Dusty Rhodes.

Guys, don’t look so shocked by the appalling 3.4 rating for Raw and the failings of ECW. There is no excuses – as there won’t be after the bad buy rate that you’ll get for this.

Hope I’ve now whetted your appetite (note sarcasm), now for some thoughts match by match……

Cruiserweight Open. (Funaki, Jimmy Wang Yang, Shannon Moore, Jamie Noble, Chavo Guerrero ©)
You know what we’ll get here. A host of impressive moves by little guys with no character – or at least that’s how they have been built up. Mere filler, and unless they feel like giving Yang a run with the belt, which is possible, but I’m going with Chavo to retain, probably after a series of finshers by the other guys.

Sandman v Carlito – Singapore Cane match.
Steve Blackman is holding his Kendo stick and wondering when they changed the name, but everyone else is just surprised that creative have got behind Sandman enough to give him a PPV match. If he beats Carlito, the Puerto Rican is clearly back in the doghouse, but I’d back the ECW alumni to take the fall here, probably with a sneaky roll up pin or the like. Maybe an interference from William Regal.

Candice Michelle v Melina – Women’s title
I actually think they are going to get behind Candice for a bit, and I’d take her to retain here. I think that Beth Phoenix will be added to the mix after this, and we’ll see a Michelle/Phoenix bout at the next PPV, but for now, no title change.

MVP v Matt Hardy – US Title
I think this will be a very solid 10-minute or so bout, not a classic, but has as much potential as any other on the card. However, asking me to pick a winner is tricky. I can see a double Hardy push, as a novelty, so I’ll go for Matt. But it’s incredibly tentative. In fact, it’s a hedged bet, as you’ll see below.

Umaga v Jeff Hardy – Intercontinental title.
As I state above, I can see a Hardy sweep. I don’t understand Umaga having the IC strap, I don’t see the point of having him squash Jeff Hardy. However I can see Hardy not winning, and perhaps they are going to run the same programme a they did with Jeff and The Undertaker some years back, where Jeff loses but looks tough. Also, consider that both Umaga and Jeff Hardy have been linked with taking part along with the Jackass Crew at Summerslam, so I can see an Umaga retention, with the longer term goal being Jeff coming back in a gimmick match at Summerslam, along with his new, death defying friends.

Dusty Rhodes v Randy Orton – Texas Bullrope Match
This was also something I talked about a while back, and while I don’t see it being much of a spectacle in terms of match quality, I do see it providing a stepping stone to a future angle – but I don’t know which one. Idea number one is the sensible one, idea number two is the more likely scenario.

Idea one is that this used as a way of introducing Cody Runnels-Rhodes as a credible superstar, by getting him over using his Dad and the uncaring Orton. Maybe.

Idea two is that Triple H wants to tackle Orton upon his return, so this is simply a way of adding another legend, or at least big name, to Orton’s victim list, making Triple H look like a returning hero slaying the evil master of the chinlocks. More likely.

If idea one is correct, Rhodes wins with the help of his son. This also facilitates the change in rules to a pinfall or submission match as opposed to the usual ‘touch the ropes’ bout.

If idea two is the right choice (I feel like a gameshow host now) then Orton will destroy one or both Rhodes’. Probably this will happen.

John Morrison neĆ© Nitro v CM Punk – ECW World Championship
Why has no-one mentioned CM Punk more over the last few weeks? Seriously, tell me why? I’ll spell this out for you. Chris Benoit was scheduled to face CM Punk at Vengeance for the ECW Heavyweight title. It is basically agreed that the likely outcome was Benoit being given the belt and ‘making’ a host of ECW superstars.

This didn’t happen due to the Benoit Murders, and they hastily stuck the belt on Johnny Morritro instead. Since the grisly Benoit affair has unfolded, the focus of the world’s media has been drugs and steroids in Wrestling.

Err……….isn’t Punk’s gimmick his Straightedge lifestyle. Give him the belt, give him loads of airtime, even do those ‘back to my roots’ vignettes where he promotes staying clean.

No, in their minds, they’ve decided to heavily push the unnatural looking body of Lashley, the unnatural body of Batista, and the unnatural lack of talent of Great Khali.

I’m going to hedge my bets here. I’ll predict Nitrrison. If he wins, I get a prediction right. If he doesn’t, it means CM Punk will be the champ.

Batista v Average Khali v Kane – Smackdown World Title

Oh, you want more? Ok. They can’t really keep the belt on Khali can they? Kane wasn’t going to beat Edge, so they won’t put it on him now. Batista, ponderous and predictable as he is, is the most over guy on Smackdown, it has to go with him.

The thing to look at, though, is how they get Rey Mysterio back into the picture, seeing as how he was scheduled to return to a programme with Edge.

John Cena v Bobby Lashley – WWE Championship
“This town ain’t big enough for the both of us”. The understandable but annoying push of John Cena, against the unfathomable and undeserved push of Bobby Lashley, resulting in likely the most unwatchable and unattractive spectacle of a match in some time. I just find Lashley’s act so utterly boring. He has no mic skills. He has no charisma. Not just a little, but none. His facial expressions are equal to that of a small pebble. He certainly isn’t a big Rock in the promo department.

Cena, however, though most of us are bored of him, is still fairly good on the stick, except his occasional forays into material cut from American Pie 3 to keep the 14-year-olds who like that sort of humour happy. (“ha ha, Cena said ‘Poop’. I’ll buy the Bash now.”)

I do give the WWE a lot of flak for their booking, but I also will continue to note the long term absences of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, now Edge, and formerly Booker T and Ken Kennedy. Factor in the loss of RVD and you are looking at a massive dearth of talent.

This is the type of match that would have been greatly aided by the addition of a special ref, a no-holds-barred clause with havoc aplenty, and a touch of overbooking, because frankly it is very unappetizing and unappealing (I thought of two more ‘uns’).

I’m holding my ground from before, and going for a DQ rip-off ending. Booker T and Kennedy to interfere and cause chaos leading to a no-contest ending. Think Bret Hart v Diesel, Royal Rumble ’95.

There we go then, another set of guesses, logic and wishful thinking. I’m going to watch the whole thing.

Well, I’ll have a bash, anyway.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

WWE + RAW - General Thoughts

With the Great American Bash approaching, it is time to at least attempt to put the Chris Benoit and Vince McMahon issues behind us. Let’s focus on what we all want to see and why we all watch in the first place – the in-ring action and the TV product.

This week on RAW we moved closer to finding out the card for The Great American Bash. And it’s an intriguing one – in a rather ambivalent sort of way.

The main event is the immovable object meeting the irresistible force. The Black Hole of Charisma v the man redefining the word controversy. Well, the WWE definition of controversial is someone who elicits a response from the crowds that they don’t want.

My first instinct here is to be intrigued. How will they sort this out? John Cena has been give the monster heel treatment of late. Khali, Umaga – throw Cena a string of seemingly unbeatable freaks and he’ll pull off the win somehow. Cena’s best feud by a country mile was his one with Shawn Michaels, and I hope HBK comes back fit and healthy and can maybe challenge Cena again – if he is still champion.

Lashley also spent time battling Umaga, and the combined forces of McMahon, and is the other untouchable on the roster.

The biggest problem I have between the two is the fan perception, both now and in the past. John Cena is where he is because people cottoned on to his act and began to back him. His career path is eerily similar to The Rock. Came in as basically himself, a green worker with an underdog-like gimmick, but when that didn’t really fly, showed that he had a personality and an edge by essentially being an asshole.

This was entertaining enough that eventually the fans bought into it, thus basically turning Cena face. As time has gone on, the thing that fans have turned on is not really Cena as an act, but Cena as a concept, someone who obviously isn’t the most gifted wrestler in the bracket of an Angle, Triple H, Jericho, Michaels and (whisper it) Benoit.

Lashley, however, from day one, was shoved down our throats. Because it worked pushing Brock Lesnar as “The Next Big Thing” from his first appearance, they thought they might be able to rekindle the magic. Don’t get me wrong, Lashley is really over at the moment. However, he is over with people who just cheer when they are told to. They are not the people that the WWE want to force to part with their hard-earned cash. Cena is a drawing champion, Batista was to an extent, Lashley can’t carry the company in the same way, he doesn’t put on 5-star matches or have a great charisma. Actually, I think he is a very lucky boy to be in that position.

So the mark in me wants to find out who the WWE will put over and push as the top man. The realist in me says that there will be one of two finishes likely.

1) While the ref is knocked out, Lashley hits a spear and gets a visual fall for 3. Either a ref from the back come out and Cena just about kicks out, or Lashley takes ages reviving the official, and Cena gets a schoolboy or an FU. Either way both men look ok for it. Cena comes out champ, Lashley says he should have won, we get a rematch at Summerslam.
2) Booker, Kennedy and any applicable others insert themselves and it leads to a double DQ, exactly the way the WWF bottled it back in the day, when Bret Hart faced Diesel (Kevin Nash) at Royal Rumble 1995.

I can’t see any way that it’ll be a clean finish. If you have your own opinion on the finish, do let me know.

Elsewhere on the card, Kane, who has spent the last few years tagging with Big Show, going mad when he heard the date May 19th, fighting an unexplained bloke who was dressed like he used to be, feuding (and losing) to Umaga, feuding with MVP before he was any good, briefly tangling with Booker T, and losing snoozefests with Khali and Mark Henry.

So logically he is the number one contender.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always quite liked Kane. He’s been a strong hand for a fairly long time, and at least he and Edge have had a couple of decent matches in the past. It’s just that you can’t help but think that this is sheer desperation.

Johnny Nitro and CM Punk will go at it again, and here you can see Punk taking the belt after a review of what has gone on. I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that the idea was for Benoit to be ECW Champion, marginally beating Punk, with Punk chasing the title and Benoit improving the Straightedge star by association.

Now that this is obviously out of the equation, I can’t see Nitro really carrying a brand, and I don’t think it was intended this way, it was a snap decision and short term measure.

I suppose the match that’ll carry a lot of build up and intrigue will be the supposed return of Dusty Rhodes to face Randy Orton. My first thought when they were building it up was that it’d become Dusty & Cody to face Randy & Cowboy Bob.

Here’s what I’ll throw up for you – Cody heel turn. My take is that the WWE decide that Cody Runnels/Rhodes (he got called both on RAW, so I don’t know what they’ll go with) is ready for the main roster. They want to use his famous father to help him make the transition, and who better to use in conjunction with a legend, than the Legend Killer Randy Orton.

But think of the history with Goldust (Dustin Runnels) and his father. They teamed in the early days, but Dustin and Virgil (Dusty) haven’t always hit it off. I think that you might see an Orton v Dusty match where Orton dominates, Cody comes to the ring, Dusty fights back, and Cody nails his old man.

Cody is associated on screen with Randy Orton to help him get over. His reason for the turn is that his Dad never put him first, he always put wrestling first. This would also create a great springboard for a career, rather than the WWE simply saying: “Here’s a new guy, he’s good/evil (delete as applicable).”

Anyway, this likely won’t happen. Randy will destroy Dusty, leading to Cody wanting revenge and a future grudge match. However, a spanner in those works is that allegedly Triple H will be back in time for Summerslam, and he wants to work a programme with Orton.

Hmm, we’ll see about this one.

Either way, the segment with Orton and Dusty was by far and away the strongest on RAW, with The Dream reminding us all what he can do on the stick, and Randy playing the smug young smart-ass to the hilt. Terrific stuff.

We’re looking at Melina v Candice again at the Bash. I could do a really seedy joke about having a bash to this match…………so I will…………

Melina & Candice at the Bash? We’ll all be having a bash at that one, won’t we lads?

Went well I thought.

The only other confirmed match, as far as I know, is Batista v Khali, but this will be so interminably awful I don’t even want to talk about it until I have to. This is my blog and I can do what I like.

Back soon for more thoughts.