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Monday, 31 March 2008

Wrestlemania Live Reaction

Greetings one and all, it’s currently 11.42 here in the UK as I have just watched the freeview on of the battle royal, and my first prediction has come in. Kane will be the man to take on Chavo. Not a bad battle royal, though a little short. A nice set of spots with Kendrick being through out and Kofi Kingston following, and when they were still recovering at ringside, Jamie Noble went over the top, and used the prone wrestlers on the outside as a flight of stairs. Palumbo then booted him out.

No rain at the moment, but very open stadium, and dark clouds looming. The stage and ring is a little off putting, but this is mania, so at least it looks unique.

It’s raining. Interesting.

The Belfast brawl is first up. I thought they said that the ECW title match would open the show?

A few minutes in, and pretty intense, Hornswoggle is with Finlay and has hit JBL and been taken out himself so far. As I type Finlay dives to the outside and it met with a trash can lid. Reminiscent of he-who-should-not-be-named being hit by Jericho some years ago, I think at a Royal Rumble.

Pretty stiff-looking match by these two, but a surprising ending as JBL goes over. The bad thing about that, of course, is that that means that the feud is not likely over. The only thing than my disappointment about that appear to be JBL’s expanding breasts. By Wrestlemania 25 in Houston he’ll be wrestling in a training bra.

Guest Hostess Kim Kardashian, who apparently doesn’t realise that a microphone should be held to the mouth, is interrupted while giving the rundown to the MITB match by Kennedy, who gives her the hairdryer treatment. Short and sharp, he says he will win. MITB is next.

The competitors emerge from a Piccadilly Circus-looking stage for Money in the Bank. Morrison, Carlito, Shelton first, they won’t win. Rest of order Punk, Kennedy, MVP, Jericho. I’m not going to update during this match, I’m giving it my full attention.


Forget Mayweather. Forget the title. Forget even Flair.

The Money in the Bank Ladder match was absolutely fantastic. I really cannot go through all the spots as I’ll miss the rest of the show. No weak link in the match, false finishes galore, a run-in from Matt Hardy, and some of the most staggering spots I have ever seen.

And most of all, a win for CM Punk. I became a fan for 20 minutes and not a journalist. It was phenomenal. I am so happy to get my prediction of MVP wrong. I hope they do not waste Punk now. He needs a proper push. He doesn’t have to win the belt, but they need to push him like they did for Jeff Hardy.

It should also be noted that Morrison, Carlito and Benjamin, the three guys that were never really going to win, worked their tails off and would be hard done by if they didn’t get pushed a little in the near future.

A stunning match. Will be hard to top.

The Hall of Fame inductees have been announced to the crowd, and whatever anyone says to you about Vince McMahon and WWE, I direct you to the huge pop for Mae Young, an octogenarian woman. Fantastic.

Fun little backstage segment with Snoopy the Dogg, Santino, Festus and Mick Foley (err, Mizzle Fizzle, apparently) and blinged up Mr Socko.

However, they are eclipsed by the comic genius of William Regal, who while in the ring before the “Battle for Brand Supremacy” raises a nonchalant finger and kills me. I love Regal.

Batista v Umaga now then, and it occurs to me that this match could well have been made bigger by a stipulation that the winner earned a chance to move a superstar across brands, either out of his or into his. Perhaps the reason they haven’t done that is that is proof that a draft is upcoming?

Damn, got one right that I didn’t want to. I don’t see any point in putting Batista over Umaga. Umaga’s character is quite one dimensional, so every time he gets beat it hurts his character. Batista would have been hurt less by a loss, and if Umaga really is off to face Taker then why should we believe the Deadman would have any problem at all.

Match was ok for what it was. I did get distracted by the hot blonde in the front row a couple of times. The first few rows on the opposite side of the camera were pro-Umaga, and as the match wore on the crowd seemed to be behind the big Samoan.

Not a highlight, but then try following that MITB.

Tale of the tape is shown for Mayweather v Show, demonstrating the difference in size. Show’s shoe size is 18EEEEEEEE apparently.

I don’t know if 18EEEEEEE is a legitimate size or whether the person typing was interrupted by a pig.

The ECW match ends. No seriously, the intros took longer than the match. Kane sneaks up Chavo, one chokeslam later Kane is the champ. They really care about ECW don’t they? I can only think that Chavo is injured and they couldn’t work a full match with him. Sad for ECW though.

It’s Flair v Michaels now. A big Flair video is airing to hype the Nature Boy. This might be history, folks.

Flair cuts a promo with a cut out interviewer. Oh no, wait, it’s Mike Adamle. Who is a worse interviewer than Kim Kardashian.

Flair simply says that his game plan is to be beat the man. That’s a pretty poor reflection of Ric if it’s his last promo ever.

Nice touch that this match is being refereed by Charles Robinson, or L’il Naitch.

“I’m sorry. Colourful” Strange words for Shawn Michaels to utter.

Of course not, he said “I love you” and then the crowd said much the same. Even yours truly was choked up, and while I hold Ric Flair in very high regard, it is not as high as many do.

It has been, of course, a storied career, and it ended after three superkicks in a very well-told an executed match.

It would not have rivalled Ric’s legendary battles with Ricky Steamboat, nor Michaels’s epic encounters with Kurt Angle, but it was a very good match, told a gripping story and finished with Ric Flair being counted out for 1-2-3.

The man himself should be – hopefully will be – proud that he did not let himself or WWE down in the match which ended his career.

It was put under threat early on when Michaels missed an Asai Moonsault (he hit the spot right, but the table didn’t quite break correctly) and looked legitimately hurt. He soldiered on, and even missed a moonsault to the outside form the top turnbuckle (I think he was supposed to hit that one).

The match was booked nicely, not overbooked, and Flair did the right thing afterwards. He thanked the crowd, and left slowly and with a lot if dignity.

I genuinely thought that Flair would win tonight, and several times throughout the match it looked like he might. I was buying false finishes and popping for kick outs all over the place. There have been five matches so far, and I’ve marked for two. The rest will be interesting.

Thank you Ric. I surely didn’t see the best of your career, but it was a pleasure to have seen you, and you ought to be very proud of the last of several thousand matches.

I don’t care what the adage says. Tonight, even in defeat, Ric Flair is still the man.

Bunnymania is, apparently, running wild. Bit tasteless to run this divas Playboy contest straight after Ric’s emotional farewell, but never mind.

At least Santino is here. One last chance for the Rock.............?

Beth and Melina get the win after a visual fall for Maria. Midway through the match the lights went out, which was no bad thing, as this was not exactly a classic. Typical fayre from a couple of talented girls against a couple not so blessed.

Santino blocked the Maria pin attempt and got laid out by Jerry Lawler and then Snoop Dogg, who hit a pretty nice clothesline.

It’s the WWE title match next – Mayweather for main event? Surely not.

It’s bell time for what I though would close the show. Perhaps this means Randy retaining? Perhaps Mayweather v Show is destined for a big surprise. Who knows? And why the hell did John Cena have our British national anthem before his entrance? Who knows? Who knows anything anymore? And who wants to? This is Mania, baby!

Reasonable contest with a very surprising finish. I had no thought in my mind that Orton would take it, but he did. The finish was very good, revisiting the Orton ‘soccer kick’ to earn him the contest, but putting him over as a sneaky champion, but a clever one, while at the same time having Triple H look quite strong.

It’s Mayweather v Show now, and that means Taker v Edge is last. Interestingly a promo for Backlash is shown, and basically contains Undertaker talking about a Backlash. He can’t get beat can he? Punk to run-in? I really don’t know anymore.

Floyd Mayweather has no challengers in Liechtenstein. Thanks King.

Well, Money talks, it seems.

Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather had his hand raised at the end of the match, but the losers really were Pay Per View wrestling (WRESTLING) fans who had this as the semi-main, and not the emotional send for Ric Flair or even a match for the most prestigious title in the company. Instead it was a very slow match which culminated in Floyd’s “handlers” getting involved, Mayweather himself weighing in with some chairshots, and finally a right hand with Brass Knuckles which missed by a country mile.

To be fair to Mayweather, he took a couple of bumps, including a sidewalk slam, which obviously looked after him on.

I don’t know if the $20m reported payoff for Mayweather . Frankly, I couldn’t care less.

For my money, he was not worth a cent. There was no big moment, no anxious finish, no shock value. Just poor action, and to be fair I don’t blame either wrestler........sorry, either competitor.

A great start to show is tailing off fast. Of 8 matches thus far (if you can call the ECW title bout a match) two have been outstanding, two ok and four have come up short.

Michael Cole lists a load of people that Undertaker has beaten at Wrestlemania. Curiously enough, A-Train was not mentioned. Strange that.

And we’re out. Wrestlemania is over for another year and I can’t help feel a bit underwhelmed.

To be fair, you are never going to have every match be a classic, and I’m probably judging a couple slightly harshly. However, to me the order of play was all wrong. The nature of the matches and the talent involved meant that you could have scheduled a slow burn. Instead, of the nine matches on the main PPV, 2 and 5 were the best. By quite a distance.

When you have the unmitigated spotfest of that quality, then hit everyone with one of the most emotional matches I have ever seen, you are setting your standards extremely high. I felt the show opened strongly having Money in the Bank up there, and peaked with Flair. I just couldn’t get excited about Taker’s title victory because I don’t buy into the streak and if you crave a big moment with Taker winning the title then just watch last year’s show.

Get the bunny shit, the Batista/Umaga match and the Belfast Brawl out of the way, then do MITB. Fill in with ECW then do Mayweather and Show. I don’t mind having Triple Threat three from the end, into Flair’s retirement and send off, then the only way to top that is to have a Title match.

To me that would have been the right arc for emotion. As it was, it didn’t work for me.

My like for Edge and lack of interest in Undertaker doesn’t help matters. This main event was of pretty good quality, although it had all the hallmarks of a Taker match which I don’t like. Edge tried to Tombstone Taker – it got reversed. He did the mounted 10 punch – he got dropped for the Last Ride. He stood over Taker and bragged – he got a choke for it.

It’s always the same. I’m even fed up of the plancha over the rope. Sure it’s impressive, but he does it EVERY time at Wrestlemania. It isn’t a shock anymore.

To be fair the finishing sequence was good and it was difficult to do a lot more with the match as a whole. I have to say there is nothing like Michael Cole to make you appreciate Jim Ross, and Coachman is nothing short of an embarrassment as a colour guy. Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenan, Jerry Lawler, JBL, Paul Heyman. All miles better than this joker. I feel sorry for him because he can’t help being poor at it (I liked his ‘assistant’ heel character) but that has to change, and soon.

I’m going to go 7 out of 10 for the show as a whole, which is perhaps a bit generous. It is only that high because of the superb quality of MITB and Flair’s retirement.

I judge a great match by how much it makes me feels like a fan rather than the jaded cynic I become a lot of the time. I was that cynic for much of the show, but cheering like a 10-year-old for Punk winning and ooh-ing and aah-ing like the biggest mark for every heavy shot or near fall that HBK and Ric Flair produced.

Hopefully I will remember those matches fondly and the rest will fade. After all, Wrestlemania 18 was very poor but I will treasure the memory of watching Rock v Hogan forever.

I’m tired and confused right now, so maybe that is affecting my opinion, but I don’t think that was as good as either Pay Per View we have seen this year.

You may disagree - let me know.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Wrestlemani preview and predictions

It’s the big one.

Wrestlemania is the one day out of 365 (366 this year) that the rest of the year builds to. It ought be to be good.

This time last year I was not particularly fussed about Mania. I didn’t think nay of the matches would deliver – most notably Batista/Taker and the Trump/McMahon showdown – but I was wrong, and the show was terrific.

This year I can’t help but feel it will suck. I hope I am wrong again.

To me the main event should always be the Raw title match. That’s the real WWE title, and it’s representing the flagship show. If people are to care about the belt it needs to be the main event, and for me the build has not been anywhere near as good as last year.

John Cena and Shawn Michaels build a stunning programme to hype their match, and in part the build is a big s the mania match itself. Cena, Triple H and Randy Orton have all held their end up without being spectacular.

The three-way match is a tricky concept because the matches can often be quite formulaic. One man knocked to the outside while the other two brawl is a common concept, and with not huge emotional interest in this match it is going to be a tough sell.

A few years back, he-who-should-not-be-named took part in a triple threat with Triple H and Shawn Michaels, and his winning of the belt was the highlight of the show. This time with Randy Orton as the heel (and a very good one, by the way, in my opinion) and the oft-pushed John Cena and Triple H as contenders there is not the big-time push of a new guy about the hit the top.

One cannot help but think that had certain circumstances prevailed that bit could be Jeff Hardy. That, of course, was not to be.

Elsewhere on the card, Edge v Taker fails to capture my imagination since the consensus is that Taker won’t lose his streak, Floyd and Big Show has gained, lost, gained and lost steam so many times I don’t know what to make of it.

And then there is Ric Flair v Shawn Michaels which I dealt with in an earlier post this week.

Best way to do it is to take the matches one by one. Here we go...........

Bunnymania – Maria & Ashley v Melina and Beth Phoenix
I thought best to start with what I consider the least important match and work upwards, and there surely isn’t a less important match than this.

The now-annual showcase for the sheer purpose of reminding us all that a diva has her bits out in Playboy (albeit one of the nicer looking and more wholesome divas on the roster) this year has been depreoved of a sub-standard wrestler due to Candice’s injury, but replaced by an even worse example of what I hesitate to even call wrestling.

When Candice got injured I thought for one short, fleeting, pie-in-the-sky moment that perhaps Trish Stratus may return for a shock, one-off return, but that was obviously wishful thinking.

Ashley and Maria (I have interviewed Maria, and she is a lovely lady, very sweet and gorgeous to bott, but she can’t wrestle) will stink the place up, and there is a glaring problem in women’s wrestling today. The two best-promoted females (not necessarily the best two grapplers, but the ones promoted in the best manner) are in different companies; Awesome Kong and Beth Phoenix. That’s the dream match.

I’m not saying that others – namely Gail Kim, Mickie James, Victoria and perhaps others – can’t go, but Beth and Kong are the standouts right now.

Anyway this match will suck, and with Lumberjacks (weren’t they LumberJILLS last year?) surrounding the ring it is obviously a cheap way of getting all the totty on the roster on PPV.

If Beth and Melina do not go over it will be wrong, but ultimately no-one will care.

Predicton: Beth and Melina

I would book: Beth and Melina to win after giving Maria and Ashley a couple of realistic near-falls, but in a very short match. May as well have a bunch of other divas get involved and shed some clothing for the hell of it.

A note at this point about the gentleman who is also heavily involved in this programme. Signor Santino Marella.

Santino has been a revelation since someone thrust a microphone in his hand when they realised that as a babyface underdog no-one cared about him. Want to know just how revered Santino is in certain quarters? At the Hall of Fame ceremony, The Rock singled out a few people for ridicule and mockery. Admittedly one was Coachman, but he was quickly dismissed. The ones that Rock held for special attention were John Cena, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho.........and Santino Marella. And Marella was the last mentioned. Praise indeed.

It is probably too much to hold out some hope that Santino will at some point, tonight at Wrestlemania, be interrupted by the Great One, but what an awesome Wrestlemania moment it would be.

More likely is that Santino will interject in this match somehow, but it would be a crime if Marella did not get a chance to strut his stuff at least briefly. Possibly in a vocal duel with Snoop Dogg.

ECW Title – Chavo Guererro v winner of Jobber Number One Contender Battle Royal

Frankly, no-one cares about the ECW title, and although I think he’s a terrific wrestler and has been underrated for years, Chavo has never been of the high-enough profile to be thought of as IC title standard let alone a “World Title”. Now he has ascended to this point, it really is a bit of a false dawn for a very talented individual.

This is an excuse to have a bunch of people appear at Wrestlemania, really, although they don’t get to be on TV, since the battle royal is only being shown on I really can’t be bothered going through all the competitors, but most are midcarders or lower, with only a few such as Great Khali, Mark Henry and Big Daddy V having a bit of profile. Heck, even lists Jamie Noble and Chuck Palumbo as noted entries. Not exactly loaded with star names.

Probably the biggest name in the thing is Kane, and I’ve got to go with him to win it. I would think that Chavo would need to battle a babyface, otherwise even less people would care. Imagine the crowd faced with Mark Henry v Chavo.

I’d Kane will win this battle royal, and then probably the ensuing match afterwards. This will likely open the Pay Per View, and kick it off with a babyface pop for winning a title.

And probably not the last.

Prediction: Kane to win both matches.

I would book: Probably the same, to be honest. Although I wouldn’t have booked a lame battle royal in the first place.

Finlay v JBL – Belfast Brawl

I don’t know that this encounter is anything other than a No DQ match, but I know it will be a violent and stiff one.

Both of these men will let it all flow at the big one, and you should not expect a pretty technical encounter. Expect a crowd brawl, plenty of colour, and probably a Vince McMahon run-in, followed by a Hornswoggle assist for the Finlay win.

If you read my commentary of this long-running debacle of an angle on The Sun’s site then you’ll know that I am not a fan of it. This match in isolation may well be ok because of the two men involved, but hopefully it serves its purpose and finally ends the pain.

Prediction: A violent, bloody, possibly overbooked contest, with Finlay getting the revenge for his ‘son’.

I would book: A hard-hitting short affair, which most importantly puts an end to this bloody angle once and for all.

Batista v Umaga

Smackdown and Raw. Two brands, but which one is better? There’s only one way to find out.......FIGHT!

Isn’t it interesting how ECW doesn’t feature in the battle for brand supremacy?

This one does not inspire me one bit. The huge irony is that Umaga is someone I’m quite a fan of, and Batista had arguably the best match at Wrestlemania 23 last year.

But I just don’t see these two clicking. Both need the other guy to help them along a bit, and I’m not sure these two are destined to make Mania history.

I personally would take Umaga to win, purely because he seems destined to head to Smackdown to face the Undertaker. However, something is telling me that Batista will win it.

Prediction: Batista

I would book: Umaga to win a reasonably quick, although reasonably even, contest. Then have Vickie be so impressed she takes him to Smackdown. The battle with the newly crowded Undertaker commences with Umaga having been built up. Oh wait, I’ve given away my prediction for later on. Damn, no-one would guessed I’d go for Taker. I’ll probably be the only one. (Note sarcasm)

Money in the Bank Ladder match: Chris Jericho, MVP, Carlito, CM Punk, Shelton Benjamin, John Morrison, Ken Kennedy.

The annual resting place for those who couldn’t be strong-armed into a feud but will bump their ass off for your viewing pleasure.

This is a very strong looking line up, with a bunch of guys who really can work, so this may well be the best MITB thus far.

Interesting to note that most of this line-up is either currently in, or were in the, WWE doghouse in the recent past. Except for one name. Onto him in a minute.

Time to break out the patented McNichol Eliminator...........

Chris Jericho. I’d expect him to be the star turn of the match to be honest, as he revels in this kind of situation, and has said we should expect him to break out at least one brand new move. However, this match is used to give the title opportunity to someone ready to step up. Like Jeff Hardy. It won’t be Chris, as they could have done that before.

Shelton. Has been the main man in two previous MITBs, but that may have been more of a curse than a blessing, because apart from a terrific raw match with Shawn Michaels he hasn’t achieved much at all. Unless he wins and cashes it in for the ECW title, which is decided unlikely, he isn’t going to win here. Perhaps blighted by a reputation as a spot monkey. Like Jeff Hardy.

Carlito. Can work, and was saved from purgatory by bumping like a mad thing in a ladder match earlier this year. He has frequently spoken of his displeasure of his spot and what if he has to do in WWE, so they are unlikely to push him to the moon anytime soon. He needs to prove to the WWE higher-ups that he is grown up and needs a push. Like Jeff Hardy.

John Morrison. Has had a series of pretty good matches for some time, without ever looking like a massive star in the making. His promo style is to obviously scripted and catchphrase –laden for me, and while he could probably use a move to Raw to further his career, he is not ready for a title shot. His ECW title stint is not really proof he is ready. He is still looked at as one half of a successful tag team, and needs to break out that. Like Jeff Hardy.

CM Punk. A bizarre thing is the treatment of CM Punk. Talked about in reverential terms by announcers and seemingly destined for the top, his push doesn’t actually seem to get him anywhere, bizarrely. Just can’t see him being given the big push that he will one day. He is thought of in great terms by the people, and they are dying for him to get a big win. Like Jeff Hardy.

Ken Kennedy. Last year’s winner, who was due for the big time before injury, then due for participation in Mr McMahon storyline before making a fool of himself by professing his strongly anti-steroids stance. Then being busted for taking steroids. He is the next most likely winner after his performance last year, but I really can’t see him following through with the claim that he will win MITB then cash it in later in the night. If they were to do that he wouldn’t have already said it. His unreliability has cost him his chance of a title. Like Jeff Hardy.

So that leaves one. The MITB winner has tended to be someone who is in a perfect position to be elevated to the top. First it was Edge, who duly weighed in with a great, although short, title reign. Then RVD, who was way overdue a break, although it admittedly did not last long. Then Kennedy, who will likely get back there one day, but not yet.

Now, it is MVP.

I was not an MVP fan this time last year, but my colleague Simon told me that his match with Chris Benoit (shhhhh) was a cracker last year, and he has been a very solid hand since then.

His in-ring work is good, his promos are of a decent quality and are improving, and I really feel that the WWE hold him in high regard. His feud with Matt Hardy, although stop-start, has been excellent, and probably the best thing on Smackdown for a long while.

The knock on him winning the belt has been that his feud with Hardy is unresolved, but there is nothing to say that the Money in the Bank briefcase has to be cashed in immediately, so I think Hardy could come back and be vanquished by MVP, continuing his push.

Prediction: MVP, with Kennedy the next best option.

I would book: Probably Ken Kennedy. I’d love to say CM Punk, but I just don’t see him being a World Champion. Not yet anyway. I know the MITB winner doesn’t have to win the belt, and I’m not saying MVP will, but they have to be plausible. I believe only MVP, Jericho and Kennedy are viable in this match. Jericho does not need the push, but I think Kennedy does.

I really like his vocal style, his intensity, and while his in-ring work is not Rick Steamboat, neither was The Rock’s. Despite his obvious shortcoming and black marks for previous slip-ups, I’d think he’d be the man most deserving, for his style, to have a title shot or attempt. I wouldn’t have booked him to say he’d cash it in on the night though.

Oh, and by the way, the winner should have been Jeff Hardy. What a tool. That’s what you get for blanking me the twice we’ve met, Jeff!

Floyd Mayweather v Big Show. No DQ match, we’re told. has reported that this open will carry the stips that a victory can be attained by pinfall, submission or knockout, with obviously a slight concession to the boxer there.

This is likely to be the ca crash portion of the show, in that it could be so bad that you can’t not watch, much like Lesnar v Goldberg. However, you never know with Wrestlemania, so here’s hoping that they pull something of the air to make this a great spectacle. After all, Bobby Lashley v Umaga was hardly a catch-as-catch-can clinic, but the spectacle was a belter.

However, this one doesn’t have Vince McMahon, Donald Trump and Stone Cold involved. It has a boxer who is not a wrestler, and a wrestler who is a decent enough hand, but far from mobile. I can’t see Mayweather wanting to look weak, but I fail to see why Show would lie down for the much smaller guy.

I would not be surprised at all to see a deliberate attempt to make something happen to look like it is a shoot, but it’s all part of the fun. Mayweather is the wildcard, not knowing whether he will be a perfect competitor or will botch his big moment. He is there for the publicity, so the most likely scenario is him getting one big moment in, and generally letting him do very little else so as not to ruin the segment.

Prediction: Mayweather to win, possibly with quite a bit of assistance from his posse.

I would book: This obviously depends on the contract they have with the Pretty Boy, because he may have agreed to come in as long as he is made to look good. If that was not an issue I would see no reason to harm the Big Show long term for the sake of a boxer. However, when do you ever see a celebrity lose out in a match like this?

Ric Flair v Shawn Michaels.

Obviously this is a big match and a major talking point, and for this reason I covered it in a previous post. Please see that for a more detailed analysis.

Prediction: Flair to win. There is a swerve in this.

I would book: Again, I’m not going through my entire thought process, but I’d have Flair win and go on to wrestle the champ at the next PPV, losing out then. They may as well boost the next buy rate of another big show.

Oh, I might decide to have him have his last match in England at the tapings in a fortnight. Then I’d bget to see his last match.

Undertaker v Edge

Hmm. Seems a no-brainer doesn’t it? I’d prefer this to be the big swerve of the show rather than the Flair one to be honest, but I simply cannot see Taker losing this.

It seems he was promised the big title run after last year but injury put paid to that. I think he’ll get it this year, and as noted above a feud with Umaga seems a good fit. I can see Undertaker and Kane getting belts at the same show.

I’d love Edge to put over here. To me there is no point having a big streak in your locker unless someone breaks it, and after all for Taker to retire having not lost at Wrestlemania seems pointless in what is, last time I checked, a pre-determined sport. However, I can’t see it happening.

For the record, I’d suggest another heavily booked match will play out here, with the Edgeheads and possibly Vickie getting involved, and Taker vanquishing them all.

Prediction: Undertaker to overcome come the alleged odds and win another title.

I would book: Edge to win. And I’d book him to win cleanly. I’d then book Taker to show respect for his conqueror (conquistador?) and then for Edge and his cronies to beat him down, regaining their heat. Next, Taker fights them off to again look tough. Ain’t gonna happen though is it?

Triple H v John Cena v Randy Orton

This is the match I have been agonising over making a decision about for ages. If it were either Cena or Trips against Orton then it would be a decision as easy as the one above. However, it’s the two men you can’t see losing up against one another.

The likely post-Mania scenario is easier. I think we’ll see Triple H turn heel and feud with Cena through much of the summer. However, you can explain it two ways.

One option is that John Cena wins the belt, and a jealous Triple H loses his rag and takes him out on Raw, possibly sledgehammer assisted.

The other is that Triple H emerges victorious and Cena extends the hand of friendship and admiration. Trips dismisses it and belts Cena. This could happen at Mania, but more probably on Raw.

Both have holes in them. I’d suggest that the babyface Cena chasing the heel Triple H is more of a draw than vice versa, but then Triple H laying out the babyface Cena makes more sense as a heel turn. Why would Trips lay out Cena having already beaten him?

I’m going with Cena to win as a catalyst for the probable heel turn. To be fair, either situation is likely.

Prediction: Cena as outlined above

I would book: Not far off really. I like Orton but he can’t retain over these two at Wrestlemania. The Cena proposition is ok, but I’d have Triple H win and NOT turn heel, but follow up the previously stated Flair scenario and take him on at Backlash. Cena and or Orton can have a filler number one contender match and Cena can win, then follow up the Trips heel turn and Cena/Game summer programme.

There we go, that’s my (admittedly late) thought. Enjoy Mania.

Mayweathe show – HNB basuically – pin, submit KO. Intereference?

Friday, 28 March 2008

Booking Ric

It’s fair to say that as Wrestlemania fast approaches, the main event is not really the main event.

WWE probably hoped that their main draw and chief attraction would be Big Show v Floyd Mayweather. Instead, another non-title match has probably usurped everything on the card, and will likely be the most anticipated match in Orlando this Sunday.

Ric Flair will take on Shawn Michaels in what has been widely expected to be Flair last ever match. Flair’s retirement angle has been staccato since it started some six months or so ago. Sometimes it seemed that WWE had given up on it, or at least relegated to low status. Throughout, The Nature Boy has grasped every opportunity to show his talent on the stick, and every now and again we get a classic Naitch moment.

His build to a Mania match with HBK had, for me, not been what it could be, until last week. I thought some time ago that Michaels needed to play the heel role he did against Hulk Hogan and did for a time against John Cena last year. This week he really did. The match now has an edge to it, which means all the difference.

There is no doubt that it will be an emotional experience. There is also no doubt that the crowd will be right into the occasion. The thing is, is there doubt about the finish?

Well, in some eyes it appears not, but I would suggest the outcome is far from cut and dried.

The general consensus is that Michaels will prevail and that will be it for the storied career of Ric Flair. I think that this is the kind of situation that WWE love and can exploit the prevailing attitude to produce an amazing moment.

Would you like to know how I would book it? Of course you would.

Firstly, I’d have Michaels cut a promo similar to his Old Yeller one on Raw, and then when both guys are in the ring, have Ric offer a handshake, but HBK either cheap shots from it or just plain refuses. Michaels is still going to have his fans, so this kind of tactic makes him more of a heel, at least for one night.

As far as the actual outcome of the match goes, after the predictable amount of near falls and close shaves, Ric gets the win, possibly with a small package or the like. But he should win, cleanly, but with a surprise tactic and not make Michaels looks too weak.

So the big swerve occurs, and the unthinkable happens. Flair wins, and is not retiring yet. After that, there is only one way to go. Ric to challenge the new WWE champion, either Cena or Triple H, at the next Pay Per View.

If people bought Wrestlemania to see Ric’s last match, imagine how many will order Backlash if Naitch has a WWE title shot. Some will buy to see him win the title, some will still want to see his last match.

I wouldn’t have him win it. I’d have another close contest end with Ric not quite getting it, but kicking out of the opponent’s finisher and prolonging the inevitable a little bit. I’d prefer to see this match with Triple H than Cena, but it depends on how the longer term future is set out for the title.

Anyway, that’s how I’d do it. For Ric Flair to get the win when most are expecting him to retire on Sunday would give him one hell of a final Wrestlemania moment, on top of his Hall of Fame induction.

There is still time for Ric to be the man.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Raw is.............strange

I will admit to having been a little slack of late in updating this page, but to be fair, I don’t think there has been a huge amount to keep track of.

Watching Raw this week I was prompted to put finger to keyboard once more, in response to one of the strangest episodes of WWE’s flagship show I have ever seen.

The man who so often talked about wrestling characters being in shades of grey as opposed to black and white was Vince Russo, but the anti-puricist (sic) is over at TNA confusing people along with Dutch Mantell, so he was not responsible for this week’s Raw.

This week was a very strange entity, with the face/heel line being completely blurred. I cannot work out whether confusion would put people off or whether it would intrigue people to watch again.

Chris Jericho’s journey since his return has been an odd one, with his initial appearance getting a minimal pop while other places have cheered and chanted wildly for him. This week, he kicked the show with some funny stuff which got nothing from the live crowd, and then went all tweener on us.

His guest on the Highlight Reel was the Big Show, who on his return attacked Rey Mysterio, and drew Floyd Mayweathe rout of the crowd. So this should mean he is a heel. He then buttered the crowd up last week, eliciting cheers after the Pretty Boy got booed. So maybe he is a babyface. The fact that Mayweather has a brooding posse backing him up makes him look heelsish, so maybe Show is face by proxy.

So when Show and Jericho got together, the reactions were odd. The crowd didn’t know whether to boo Show or not, to boo the mention of Mayweather or not. They did, however, cheer Jericho and chant his name.

Later, though, Jericho nailed Big Show with the IC title belt to get a DQ, which is distinct heel behaviour. So is Y2J turning heel? If he is, I can only think that Triple H is going to get the title, perhaps have a short feud with Orton, so that Y2J can take on Cena. I don’t see why Jericho would turn heel right now, especially in the absence of Jeff Hardy for two months.

During the show we also saw an Umaga squash of London and Kendrick.........of sorts.

It looked like a standard destruction of a tag team, which of course if done by a heel means Londrick have to take the beating, whereas a face must destroy Cade and Murdoch.

However, Brian Kendrick abandoned his tag team partner during the match so Paul London got destroyed. However, although William Regal used it as a segue to talk to Triple H, JR and King barely talked about it at all. Strange stuff.

Later on, we get Ric Flair v Vince McMahon in a street fight, with Flair’s career on the line.

(Fun fact, I mistyped ‘career’ there and put ‘carer’. I can imagine that Naitch may well be old enough to have a carer, and that would be very unfortunately a stipulation took away his nurse.Ric: “Hey, Nurse, pooooooooooo.”Carer: “Oh Mr Flair, have you soiled yourself again?”Ric: “Listen, to care for the man, you gotta wipe the man.”)

Now this match was not advertised apart from (I’m told) on, which is greatly surprising. Firstly, the match, from a pure standpoint, was atrocious, with some of the worst punches thrown that I have ever seen. However, the storytelling was interesting, with one major running flaw.

I stand my prediction that I made ages ago that Ric Flair will win at Wrestlemania. I felt even strnger about this when I heard that his opponent will be Shawn Michaels. It is insane that Flair would lose to a stronger top guy like Michaels who does not need the win, when he could have his career ended by someone like Punk, Kennedy or MVP who could really push themselves to the sky with the scalp of Flair’s career.

So, with Flair needing to be kept strong to Mania to take on a man who pushed John Cena to the limit last year (and beat Cena shortly afterwards in a classic on Raw) why would he be dominated by a man older than he is (how often is Ric the plucky youngster?) It was nuts, and to top it off, Vince got a visual clean fall which was only interrupted by HBK’s interference.

Michaels then left, making even less sense, before Flair eventually went over. If Michaels was going to interfere, stopping Flair from getting beat and retiring, wouldn’t he just get in the ring and Superkick Vince?

More strange stuff. But we were not done.

Onto the main event, which pitted John Cena and Randy Orton v The “Entire Raw Roster”. Get that, the ENTIRE raw roster.

Except for Shawn Michaels. And Chris Jericho. And Ric Flair. And Jerry Lawler. And the Divas, who technically are on the raw roster. And William Regal. And Vince McMahon.
So it wasn’t the whole roster, and if you were Triple H and in charge, wouldn’t you have your best buddy, who didn’t wrestle on the show, take out the other guys?

But it gets better, because by virtue of being part of a tag team against 17 guys, Randy Orton got cheered. He also did some really cool stuff, by hitting a couple of fantastic RKOs, and a great double team move with Cena propelling Cody Rhodes to getting hammered by Orton.

So Orton comes over like a babyface. In fact, I recommend a quick trip to to have a look at the after show dialogue between Orton and Cena, which actually would have been a good thing to have on the show.

Just to round things off, two guys hold their own against seventeen (!) which does no-one any favours whatsoever. And to add to that some of the guys doing a beatdown of the plucky duo were babyfaces. I guess these were babyfaces considered expendable and that it wouldn’t matter if they got a heel reception or an ass-kicking, and that is why HBK and co did not appear.

Oh, and I should mention, Santino Marella popped up a couple of times, and was hilarious. The man is a genius, and I hope he is given a 10-year contract instantly.

A bizarre show – roll on Wrestlemania