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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?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow wern't u wrong on most these issues?