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Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Raw Thoughts: 27th October

Raw Thoughts 28th

· I love this Orton character. It’s been a long time since someone came across as a bullish, arrogant.......prick, basically. He is being cheered by some and booed by some, but is being held in regard by all, I would think.
· Cody and Kofi v Priceless – there’s a surprise. Didn’t I say that in my live notes from Cyber Sunday?
· Wow – a title switch. A decent match too, with all members of the match working hard. I find Punk and Kofi fun to watch. You know what, just for the hell of it, maybe they could let them defend against Rey Mysterio and Evan Bourne. That would be a lot of fun.
· You know what, seriously, Kelly Kelly is starting to look very impressive. Johnny Ace deserves apologies from some people.
· It’s your most attractive match on Raw in weeks (Bourne v Rey) why shove a huge commercial break in the middle of it, then show clips of good stuff during the break. Just nonsense.
· Haha, I say that then Rey makes a huge mistake. My bad.
· John Cena and his brothers wrestling in the basement at home. They slammed each other on cement floors. They videoed each other putting figure fours on each other. Great times, what a great guy.
· Oh, by the way – Don’t Try this at Home.
· You know what, you don’t have to like Morrison and Miz, but you have to admit this. They are different. They are a slick act who stand out from the crowd.
· I don’t really care for these kind of handicap main events because they make the two look like idiots for not beating the one quicker. However, if they beat him quickly the one looks a chump. No-one can win really.
· Although I fear even Shawn won’t get a good match out of JBL, the way they have started their little programme makes good sense. There is a reason for JBL to be mad at Shawn, and it follows logically. I like that
· Not the most spectacular and gripping Raw I have ever seen, but I will admit that it set up very well for next week’s 3-hour show. I’d suggest that there will be high expectations of a good number for that show.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Cyber Sunday Live Notes

23.44pm (Sunday)
Wow, for the first time on one of these live commentaries it’s a timecheck from Sunday night and not the early hours of Monday morning.

I’ll imitate TNA and start things off with a “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT” – next month for Survivor Series I’m going to be doing a legit ‘live commentary’ rather than post my thoughts directly after the show. I do genuinely write as a watch, hence how I am able to post so damn quickly, but next time I am going to trial the concept of regular updates in order to keep you abreast of what I am thinking, allow you to read my ongoing thoughts almost real-time and to allow you to interact with me, giving me your thoughts and asking questions during the show. Hopefully it will enhance your an(my) enjoyment of the show.

Anyway, right now it’s we are tuning into, and here comes........

Todd Grisham. A hugely underrated talent as far as I am concerned. I have been at a live event which he was the ring announcer for, and he was very good. I think he does a decent job on ECW and could be a possible successor to the main headphones some day.

Wait, is he going to have to announce the ECW match as well as this?

Todd introduces us to the show and out comes Shelton for the ‘pre-game’. This is very hard to type on MS Word while having Media Player open. Shelton’s opponent is..........

R-Truth, by a landslide (I swear I wrote that before JR said it) and here he comes doing his theme music. Thinking of this makes me think of Honky doing the same later on, and oh my God an even better thought.

How about Santino v R-Truth at some point with Santino singing his theme?!

JR says that Shelton has an elitist attitude – and that Killings does not.

Erm, didn’t Shelton do almost the exact same vignettes as the former K-Kwick some years ago about his rough upbringing in Orangeburg, South Carolina? Seems to me he would have some sympathy for the plight old Ronnie has had. Never mind.

Shelton wins in reasonably short order and destroys my first prediction. I went with R-Truth, but thought there might be a sneaky title switch there. I’m pleased though, as Shelton doesn’t deserve to be buried with a quick title loss on a only show.

00.02am (Monday)
Good morning. That was actually a pretty cool (and I would imagine quite cheap) opening sequence simply having superstars (or are they entertainers now?) talking about how it wasn’t important to vote for Cyber Sunday.......then how important it was. Ah, it was cooler than it sounds. Especially Koslov saying “Big freakin’ deal”.

Out first is Rey Mysterio in one of his Scooby Doo villain masks , and we shall we what kind of match Rey and Kane will have. For some reason the announcement is being made before Kane emerges. Its.......

Kane. Oh, and the stip is No Holds Barred. Which is very different from a No DQ. Or a streetfight. Or a Hardcore match. Very different.

Kane sure looks big now. It may just be against the stature of Rey, but he looks increasing chubby and less mobile. To be honest, though, it’s a credit to the big guy (getting up there a little in age) that he has been so agile for so long, for someone his size.

Cole just called a move that Rey did unique. The move was a legdrop with a chair under the legs. Yeah, real unique, Michael. Sabu only used to do that every bloody night.

Rey wins, which he had to really, but as always in a Mysterio match I find myself kind of underwhelmed. I probably moan too much about Mysterio, who really is an amazing athlete who is tremendously popular, but I just hate the way his matches have very little realism.

Three times in that match Kane fell, conveniently, onto the middle rope, in a position for the 619, which was connected on the third attempt. The last of which was a really cool huracanrana move, but the way it was sold made it look so daft.

After some divas plead their case to win the Hallowe’en kiddies dress-up box contest, and Jericho pleads his case for Generation Next to beat up Batista (they decline) we are over to Teddy Long and Tiffany to announce Evan Bourne as the contender for Matt Hardy’s belt. This should be good.

Did Todd Grisham just call Matt Striker “Todd”? His own name? Better than “The Tazz”, I suppose.

A very, very good contest. It wasn’t clinical, and it looked as though a spot or nearly went awry. But it was gripping, despite the fact that I never really thought Bourne would win.

The biggest disappointment was that the crowd didn’t engage in it throughout – possibly because many of them may not have known who Bourne was – but they started to at the end, which is a good sign.

There was a great mix in this match of technical stuff and high flying action. Hardy was pretty generous in giving Bourne the spotlight and letting him hit all the highlight moves. Nice unselfish action from the already over star allowing the more inexperienced guy to shine.

Terrific debut WWE PPV outing (I think it is, anyway) for Bourne, and a good showing, it should be not be forgotten, by Matt Hardy. Well done guys.

More divas in costumes, and generally a waste of time – although Maria looked practically edible as a rabbit.....and I can’t believe I just said that – before we are back to Todd on the stage. Grisham is a busy man tonight. No wonder he forgot Matt’s name.

Really close voting, but as I predicted earlier, the kiddies watching and buying into the annoying exchanges between Mizorrison and Cryme Tyme have won out by 3%, so we get to see this rather than Punk and Kofi in action. Shame on you WWE, Rob, don’t say it.

I would think the other two tag matches will occur on Raw tomorrow.

There is a guy in the front row with a “we hate Cena” shirt on. That’s a gamble. You don’t want to pay for front row tickets and be thrown out, my friend.

OK match, by the way, so far. Good heeling from Mizorrison.

That was actually a pretty good match. Not a classic, and won’t be remembered after the show (Bourne/Hardy will) but they each played their roles well.

I’m not a big fan of the Cryme Tyme act, but I’ll admit to liking the individuals, particularly JTG, and I’d say the same for the other team, being quite a Morrison fan.

More diva spots (Natalya looked and sounded VERY sexy) before a pointless segment of Jericho acts Khali to be in his corner. Khali rambled for about 30 seconds before Runjin just translated that as “no”. Long winded way of saying no.

Vignettes and Cole indicate that Cena will be back at Survivor Series. Interesting.

Tremendous stuff from Santino. Some stuff about some American sport stars I didn’t know (Well, I knew Shaq) but an unbelievable miss.

He actually said at one point “it is fitting that we are in Phoenix” and didn’t follow it up with some sort of line about “spending a lot of time in Phoenix” and a knowing glance at his shocked girlfriend.

Of course, the opponent is the Honky Donkey Man, and he does a little dancing forcing Santino to throw some shapes. Terrific stuff. And it really is the Honky Donk...I mean Tonk man – not the Haasy Tonk Man or anything.

Oh, it’s over. That was quick. Beth is seen tripping Honky and the bell is rung for the DQ. Maybe he is still injured. Here come Goldie and Roddy for some action. Goldust got pyro? Are you kidding?

Look at that – Black Reign hanging out with two Relics (disclaimer – that was for the purposes of the joke – I love Roddy and would never describe him as a relic.)

Is Honky in the Hall of Fame, by the way?

The ‘legends’ turn Santino over and segment ends. A bit like a Raw segment, but humourous nonetheless.

More diva stuff, with Princess Layla stealing my thunder from my regular feature in Fighting Spirit Magazine – shameless plug, it’s called Blockbuster, and is a movie review in a wrestling style. The first was about Star Wars – and Victoria as a dancing and singing banana. I’m assuming that is an advert in the US, since I am unfamiliar with it apart from a bit in Family Guy where Brian the Dog does that.

Not that Victoria is a dog. Far from it. Mickie looked pretty hot as Lara Croft, too. I’m just saying (Sorry, Hurricane)

Wow – this is a trainwreck segment. Undertaker and Big Show will be upcoming, but Vickie is wheeled out by Chavo, takes an eternity to reveal the results, and when she does three things happen.

Firstly, the WWE Univ.....stop it.....the WWE fans show they don’t want any MMA-like inclusion with only 9% voting Knockout Match.

The second mistake is Vickie saying that the winning match in the vote is “I Quit” when it wasn’t, it was Last Man Standing. She covers for this by reading them all out......then pausing.............still pausing.....then saying it’s a Last Man Standing.

Thanks. For. That.

Vickie: “Excuse me”
Me: “Err, no, I won’t thanks.”

That went a long while, but it was well paced, and these two men did a great job of keeping the audience occupied and telling a great story.

It was a back-to-type performance by the Undertaker, but one which did not make Show look bad, just had Taker keep on coming back from against the odds.

Divas line up – and despite my mocking, several of them do look really, really hot tonight. Seems like something they could do on TV rather than take up TV time (Santino has already had 10 minutes of pretty much non-wrestling) but perhaps there are adolescents out there who would be having this as their highlight.

Mickie James wins, they all have a little fight, with the faces clearing the ring. What was kinda nice was they seemed to be enjoying themselves – especially Mickie. I always think that comes off well on TV when people are clearing having fun in there.

As obviously it would be, Jeff Hardy is here to take on the Game.

He couldn’t do it......could he?

Well then.

I can see the reaction to this going two ways, and I’d tend to agree with both of them. Firstly, as an isolated contest it was a terrific match. Once again the pacing was very good, there was some great storytelling and use of logic. Pleasingly Koslov stayed the hell away, too.

On the other hand, we saw much of this last time. Yes, there were some different spots, and innovative counters, but the general structure was the same as their match three weeks ago.

I really enjoyed it, though. There were enough near falls for Jeff to look like he might do it and to continue to make him look strong.

Another Cena/Survivor Series promo. That is exactly the reason people get fed up of Cena. Just so many vignettes about him, clips of him, people talking about him. It can get tiresome. I really like the guy, and respect him hugely. But I understand where the dislike – maybe even resentment – comes from.

Wow – that was close.

Just the 74% for Austin, then.

A sign there said REF 3:16 – that’s nearly me. I’m Ref365! – see here

Well, what do you know? New World Champion – and his name is Batista. There will be plenty of criticism for this match, but as long as they don’t do it very often I think it’s ok.

Essentially, after a ref bump Jericho hit the Codebreaker but replacement ref Shawn Michaels did an ultra slow count. JBL got involved to pull HBK out of the ring when Batista looked set to win (Hurray, JBL v HBK – that will be fun (note sarcasm!))Orton made his way to the ring to replace the replacement and he clocked Stone Cold. He allowed Jericho to hit Batista with the title belt, but Big Dave kicked out. Austin got back up to Stun Orton. (I’ll come back to that) Orton bumped like crazy – I’d say he’s fit again. A Batistabomb later we had a new champ.

I wanted to write that all down because I want to stress the storytelling of it. Yes it was confusing, and perhaps overbooked, but when WWE was hot at the end of the 90s this happened all the time. They have got better for this sort of thing not happening too often, and as long as it doesn’t become a habit then I’ll tolerate this. At least it wasn’t over predictable.

Back to Austin and Orton – maybe, just maybe, a little seed for Wrestlemania. That would make sense, as Austin would be the ultimate Legend for Randy to kill, especially if he is going into the Hall of Fame. Remember how early they hinted then built the Orton/Foley thing, so this might just be the start.

Overall, I really enjoyed that show. WWE are doing a tremendous job of turning very, very lacklustre TV into more than passable Pay Per Views. The overall standard of PPVs this year has been pleasing.

I would say there were no bad matches tonight. Santino’s effort you can largely overlook. Rey/Kane and Mizorrison/Cryme Tyme were ok – no better, no worse.

Big Show and Taker put on a big man clinic – it really was a terrific brawl, and for the smaller guys Matt Hardy and Evan Bourne put in a great shift. Nearly a show stealer.

Jeff Hardy and Triple H rocked the house again and while the main event didn’t really sparkle, there was a title change and enough action to make up for it.

Good work, fellas. Onto Survivor Series. When “The Champ”. Is. Back

Someone may well ‘want some’. And if they do, they are jolly well invited to ‘get some’.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Cyber Sunday preview

Cyber Sunday Preview

I want to get two things off my chest.

Firstly, I do not like the concept of this PPV. To be, the skill of promoting a Pay Per View is to put together a show that people want to see, and then they pay for the privilege of watching it. Simple.

The trouble is, people in this situation do not know what they are going to see. After the last one was so good, I’d like to see Jeff Hardy v Triple H again. I think that would be another good match, and although it is likely to happen, it is not certain. I do not watch to have to pay to watch Triple H v Vladimir Koslov, which I do not envisage being a good contest.

Similarly, a high flying babyface match for the ECW title would be fun to see. Hardy v Bourne. Matt v Not Matt. But Evan Bourne might not win. It might be Finlay or Henry who is picked. Finlay is/was a great wrestler, but you can’t help but feel Hardy v Finlay would very much a “WWE-style” match, meaning action we’ve seen a million times before. Hardy v Henry again? No thanks.

I understand that the idea is then to contribute towards the matches you would prefer, but I’m still not crazy about not knowing exactly what you are paying for.

The second annoyance is the constant use of the term “WWE Universe”. It is meaningless and simply smacks of being corporate buzzword. I hate it, and refuse to use it.

So then, on with the preview.......

Shelton Benjamin v ???? (US Title, pre match show)
Choices are K-Truth/R-Kwik OR MVP (More Victories Please) OR The Fake Kane, Freakin’ Festus.

The second string titles are often defended and sacrificed on this show to ‘prove’ that anything can happen. I seem to recall Shelton himself beating Chris Jericho in the opener one year for the IC strap.

Judging by his recent push on Smackdown, Ron Killings looks the most likely candidate. It’s possible that the kids vote will be for Festus as the wacky character, but I’m guessing that RK-TruthKwik will be voted in. And I’ll say that he takes the title, too.

Divas Halloween Contest
Unless one of them is dressed as Lady Godiva I’m not interested.

Pick the Tag Team Match
Choices: Jamie Noble & Mickie James v William Regal & Layla OR Cryme Tyme v Miz/Morrison OR CM Punk & Kofi Kingston v Rhodes and DiBiase
This is one of the least clear cut scenarios, I think. I would firstly dismiss the first option as a likely occurrence (and I don’t even need to dig out the patented McNichol eliminator!) mainly because it has hardly been mentioned on TV at all the last couple of weeks.

Of the other two, though, it’s a tricky one. Since the voting this year is US only and text only it does skew the voting to a younger demographic I would think. Personally I would like to see the team of Punk and Kofi take on the current champeens, and last year I would have been confident this option would win out, but perhaps the heavy promotion of the rivalry of Cryme Tyme and Mizorrison might have swayed the youth.

If its the latter, then I’d take Miz and Morrison to win by foul means, mainly because Cryme Tyme are so ridiculously over they don’t seem to need to win. If Punk and Kofi get a shot at the gold then they might just win it, you know. I’d take them to be victorious but for the Priceless duo to regain the belt on Raw.

Santino Marella v ???? (Intercontinental Title Match)
Choices: The Honky Donkey Man, Goldendust or Rodney the Piper
This is another tricky one really, because although the entire theme of this is Santino being booked to mock HTM for about 10 straight weeks, Piper is an extremely popular legend.

As I said earlier, this may well be predominantly kids voting, and I don’t think Honky has been seen in WWE since 2001, when Kane eliminated him from the 2001 Royal Rumble. If you speak to Jim Cornette he will tell you about the seven year rule, whereby the viewership has changed enough in seven years that you can reuse ideas.

By a similar token, if the viewers have changed significantly in the last seven, nearly eight years since HTM was seen, they may not be familiar with the “Great Intercontinental champion of all time”.

Piper, however, has been featured as recently as May this year, in the admittedly weak series of skits involving Jimmy Kimmel and Santino Marella. He was in the Rumble this year, too.

In the last three years, he has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, had a brief feud with Bob Orton on TV, done a bunch of Pipers Pits, appeared at Wrestlemania, appeared on Mr McMahon appreciation night, sung Happy Birthday to Matt Striker and even won the Tag Team titles along with Ric Flair at this very event two years ago.

So, there could well be a spanner in the works if they expect Honky to walk this. Goldust, by the way, will not be chosen, but I could see him featured win a backstage skit with Cody, perhaps.

Rey Mysterio v Kane
Choices: Falls count anywhere, No Holds Barred, 2-out-of-3 falls

The first thing to say here is that I can’t believe this one is still dragging on. This simply has not worked, and aside from one cool Raw visual when Kane kicked an airborne Rey, has had very little in the way of memorable moments.

The match choice here is a tough one, because they haven’t necessarily gone for something that will always be chosen (Like a Cage) or something that has been featured in the feud.

2-out-of-3 falls seems too basic and unspectacular to be chosen by the masses, and to be fair No Holds Barred and Falls Count Anywhere are largely the same thing, except the latter is more liberal on pinfalls.

I’d say FCA will get the nod, and I’d suggest Rey will have to win by virtue of a barmy stunt or some such action. Makes no sense to have Kane beat him silly and destroy Mysterio.

Undertaker v Big Show
Choices: Knockout match, I Quit match, Last Man Standing

I think there is a fair chance that the selection here will be a blind one. What I mean by that is that the whole feud has been based on the power of Show’s right hand, so I can see the Knockout stipulation being the winner here. I just hope that doesn’t mean that the combatants have to dress like the ladies from TNA.

Personally I would like to see an ‘I Quit’ match, since they could essentially then have a wrestling match with a twist. It would also open up the Undertaker to use his gogoplata choke, gaining a victory which Vickie could then strip him of. Maybe somehow we lead to a Casket match at Survivor Series?

Matt Hardy v ???? (ECW Title Match)
Choices: Finlay, Evan Bourne, Mark Henry
I’ve outlined some thoughts on this one up in the opening paragraphs.

I’d like to see Bourne, personally, and I think he will get the nod, though I don’t think he’ll win the title. There is no way people will vote for Henry, but perhaps an outside chance for Finlay due to the Hornswaggle factor. I’ll stick to a valiant losing effort for Bourne, though.

Triple H v ????? (World Title match)
Choices: Jeff Hardy, Vladimir Koslov or both
I really cannot see Koslov or the triple threat being sanctioned, so we’ll assume that Jeff gets another crack at Triple H. It seems strange to book the same match (i.e. Trips wins, Hardy goes close, respect...yadda, yadda.) but then this is predictable old WWE, isn’t it?

I can’t see them putting the belt on Hardy, what with his recent and not-so-recent-history, plus the fact that he is on two strikes. So the obvious pick is for Triple H to keep the belt, but I’m going to say that they ruin this with a run-in, with Koslov battering both men and drawing the double DQ.

Personally, I’d love to see Jeff get a title win and a run on top, no matter how brief, but I accept why it wouldn’t likely happen. I also would state that him winning the title would mean absolutely nothing if it is due to Koslov interfering.

I wouldn’t necessarily want to see a run in, but I also do not see how this can be booked without drawing criticism.

Chris Jericho v Batista (WWE title)
Choices for special referee: Stone Cold Steve Austin, Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels.
Well, clearly it will be Austin, as per usual. Will he get involved? I’m not too sure. Part of he contract is a Stunner to someone, so that’s more of the game – who does Austin stun tonight? Its likely Jericho, isn’t it?

On the title front, you have to look beyond this match for a contender to guess the winner, but that’s not an easy task. You’d look at Orton or HBK, really, but theoretically it would mean HBK v Jericho again, but that’s not likely. Orton being number one contender says Batista v Orton, but that’s a) rumoured for Mania and b) Orton should face Punk, I would think.

Therefore, I’d look at Jericho v Batista to happen again at Survivor Series, not that it sounds appetising. Let’s go for Jericho for win, via some sort of bizarre means – maybe a low blow with Austin unsighted – but a post-match Stunner and an Adamle declaration on Raw that Batista gets another shot, perhaps in a cage, at Survivor Series.

Hope you enjoy Cyber Sunday, I’ll of course hit you all with my thoughts seconds after the event finishes.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Raw Thoughts - 12th October

· An odd opening to Raw. I was expecting Jericho or someone to interrupt and stop the match.
· OK segment between Jericho and Batista, and the slap was a nice one-up for the antagonist. However, Adamle’s interjection was embarrassing. It’s time to end the experiment. The GM position is one that can be used so well. You need someone who can provide a bit of humour and an air of authority. Adamle provides neither. It is unclear why anyone would have respect for him on the roster and why fans should be entertained by him. I am not the kind of person that thinks that the GM should be babyface or heel, but the way Teddy Long plays a GM works nicely because he has a balance.
· The fake laughing between King and Cole is getting very, very old.
· I’ll be honest I reacted like it was Stone Cold, though. Nice touch on the jacket – “Haastin”.
· So was that Haas doing a Steve Austin impression or a Shark Boy impression?
· Although I’m not thrilled that he is in for a big push, I was impressed with the short video package for Mike Knox. It made him look like a killer.
· From Knox to Snitsky – the last person to get the big man push. I’d say Snitsky will be next on the cut list.
· They got no reaction whatsoever, but I liked the Miz and Morrison bit on the mic. “Are you fifty?” got a laugh from me.
· Pretty good tag match from them too.
· My big problem is that when you have just three weeks between Pay Per Views not much is done to the storyline. Nothing has happened on any note yet. Nothing. They’ve announced a main event but haven’t really explained how the match will work. Apart from that, no storyline advancement, nothing.
· Wow, when even a Santino segment bombs, you know something is up. Hacksaw didn’t get into the swing of that, which is a surprise, because thinking back to the Dating Game segment from about this time last year, Duggan and Santino joined Regal and Simmons and it was superb. This, though, dragged big time.
· And what happened to Santino’s mouth? Papa Shango strikes again?
· Taker and Show in a Knockout match? You mean Show dressed up like Angelina Love? No Thanks.
· Why are they such idiots in the WWE that they do not understand the difference between ‘anniversary’ and ‘instalment’? It is not the 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania next year, because the first one was in 1985. Therefore the 25th anniversary – i.e. 25 years on – will be in 2010 at Wrestlemania 26.
· What the hell was that Main event? Ugh, that was terrible. A gauntlet match, by definition, means that you take on a series of individuals until you lose. Jericho lost to Mark Henry, but still wrestled Kane. Surely if there are no consequences on matches then there is no point in having any match unless they are a title match. And then wrestling dies. You have to at least keep the pretence that winning matches matters.
· To add to the ludicrous rules, the world Champion was beaten two out of three times, Regal was made to look like a chump and Batista did nothing of note. Five men were involved, it did nothing for three and made two (Jericho and Regal) look daft. Pointless, terrible main event.

Monday, 6 October 2008

No Mercy Live Notes

Wilkommen, Bienvenue and Ahoy Hoy to my No Mercy coverage

01.02am Bizarre opening to the show. A video package punctuated by black and white footage of a perfect family, interspersed with hype for the show. I didn’t understand that.

And I don’t even have a teacher to explain to me. No Matt Striker tonight, for some reason which is not explained. ECW up first.

Is Tony Atlas singing along to Mark Henry’s theme tune? Big pop for Matthew Hardy.

King drops a mention that he was in Mark Henry’s first match. So he was. Amazing piece of continuity by King, who is apparently inspired by sitting in Striker’s chair.

Todd drops the fact that some magazine named Henry as the second man to ever walk the face of the earth. He doesn’t mention number one, so I figure it is either Bill Kazmeier, Tarzan, or Popeye.

Not Dino Bravo.

I’ve just saved my document, and the title Nomercylive.doc is apparently taken. I guess this is a year since I started doing live blogs then.

Match is quite boring, by the way.

Not too bad I suppose. They kept it short enough, it wasn’t too painless, and had a satisfying opening for the crowd with Matt Hardy retaining. If you pretend there is no brand split, Matt would have been a perfect IC title contender, when it used to be the workers title.

Even Eve Torres, fresh from scoring twice at Man City (soccer joke for all you folks across the pond) tries to assist Triple H in a face-to-face interview with Jeff Hardy. When Hunter talks, she raises the mic to his mouth. When Jeff speaks, he has to bend down. He now has a weak next. Hunter’s a lock.

Diva time next, as Candice will face the increasing hot Beth Phoenix (I have big eyebrows too, Beth) in a fight we are supposed to believe is fair. Don’t they realise that when Candice dominates the first 90 seconds of the match it makes Beth look at idiot. My God we need Gail Kim.

Again, short and nothing special as you’d expect. No promo time for Santino which is a disappointment, but his involvement followed the storyline. Nice ending sequence to the match, by the way, but I’d have liked to have seen Candice go for the “Candy Wrapper” (Unprettier) more often to build the reversal which Beth ultimately pulled.

Rey v Kane next, and after Cole waffles on about Mysterio is wearing a mask with the colours of the ancient Aztec civilisation, King suggests that the Aztecs become extinct.

Well, they aren’t around anymore, but it seems a bit harsh to describe them like the Woolly Mammoth – oh no, wait he went to Japan, didn’t he? He’s Giant Bernard now.......

I spy our first Cyber Sunday rematch. Non-finish to this one as Kane, on the floor, smashes Mysterio, coming off the top rope, with a chair. Cool visual to a staccato match.

This one stopped and started. It was fairly logical, with Kane being on top and Rey only getting sporadic comebacks, but didn’t feel like anything apart from a TV match. This has not been PPV quality in the first 45 minutes.

Big missed spot, it seemed, midway through a Rey recovery, as he looked set for a springboard armdrag, but Kane didn’t co-operate. Looked like miscommunication. Rey seemed hurt at first, but recovered sufficiently for me to think that he probably isn’t injured other than being knocked about a bit.

Right, okay.

Long, wandering segment which I enjoyed, but once again gave this a TV-like feel. The crowd’s ‘boring’ chants were most unfair. The frustration of this segment was that it used seven guys, and although one is injured (Orton) they are all plenty talented enough that you miss them on the show. With the action being substandard thus far, it is a bit of a frustration.

I would suggest that surely Punk and Kofi will tackle DiBiase and Rhodes at Cyber Sunday. I’m trying to think of the stips the crowd vote on. Maybe Tornado Tag, tables match or cage, something like that. Or perhaps Team Priceless will have the three of them, and we get to vote on Kofi and CM’s partner.

Orton, meanwhile, is terrific in his new role. Cheered by the crowd on this occasion, he treads a very fine line between being heel and babyface, although in essence his personality is generally heelish. The only reason you feel confused about his alignment is because he acts heelish towards heels. Thus he gets cheered.

I would say I can’t wait until he comes back, except I’m really enjoying what he is doing right now. Kudos to all in that segment, I thought they all pulled it off well. Particulalrly MVP, who has his character perfectly off-pat.

Number one contenders match now. I’m tempted to count all the moves that are not punches, kicks or clotheslines................

Wow, that was pretty emphatic. Glad it was quick and glad it was clean. They probably realised that anything more than the 6 or 7 minutes they gave this would strain the patience of a restless crowd.

There is a lot being handed to the babyfaces so far. Jericho to retain is looking stronger.

This disappointing show goes on.

A long, long waffle from JBL ends with Cryme Tyme hijacking his Limo, and taking a bunch of Women with them. Oh, and Sarge. And you know what, I genuinely though it was a bunch of girls hired from the local strip clubs like they used to do with Godfather’s hoes until I saw Maria.

Shad and JTG were saying “Breathe in, Breathe out” presumably because some of the girls are so daft that they need instructions on how to breathe.

And what’s with Mickie James being there. Poor girl is so talented, and yet Candice is stinking up the ring with Beth and Mickie is grinning moronically along with Cryme Tyme.

Terrible show thus far.

And it gets no better. The Big Show beats down his opponent, rams their head into the turnbuckle and punches them out. Trouble is, it’s the Undertaker, and the ref calls the match off. Just a shocking lack of logic, and the second out of five matches to end in futility.

Trust me, this is not me being cranky because it is late here. I understand where they are trying to go with this show, but they should not be applauded for working around the show they have in three weeks, but instead derided for scheduling in this manner.

Taker staggers out, and here comes Triple H.

Come on Trips (and Jeff) – save the show.

Rubbish segue into a video package from JR, though, as he states “These two men have a long history” – well, yes they do, going way back to Armageddon, I believe, last year.

The clip starts at the Unforgiven Scramble. Oh dear.

Now that’s more like it.

That was an absolute belter, with a match beautifully paced and well executed, with an exciting, believable finish. It doesn’t get a lot better. I don’t typically dish out star ratings, but I’d suspect I’d give it around about a solid ****.

Interesting to see that it was Triple H winning this with a cheeky move to win, much like Hardy did to beat Triple H last year.

What this one also achieved was that rare thing of making the loser look even better than he was when he walked in. Hardy loses no credibility here whatsoever, and it will be very interesting to see where he goes next.

Triple H walks into a shirtless, gibberish speaking figure backstage.

Christ, hasn’t Lance Storm let himself go?

It’s the main event, let’s sit back and watch..........

Aaaaagh, so nearly perfect.

A cracking contest, it has to be said, but I really could have done without seeing Lance Cade insert himself into proceedings. Much like the last contest, it wouldn’t really have hurt the loser by losing clean, so I’m disappointed that they could just let it be one on one without interruption, but there you go, you can’t have everything.

It was a very, very good match, made better by the fact that we haven’t had a straight up ladder match for a while. Of course, a TLC match is much the same, but they executed this differently to, say Edge and Taker’s TLC, so it felt fresh. Some nice spots in there, and some original ones, which is quite impressive, considering this match has been done many times before.

It may well occur that only the last two matches are remembered in the Pay Per View, which would, for me, gloss over a very poor undercard, but let’s leave this PPV on a positive, and tip our collective hats to Triple H, Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels.

Good work all round from these four, saving this PPV from being a dud.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

No Mercy Preview

No Mercy, the first of two consecutive weeks of Pay Per View.

Only I’ll be watching this one on TV. Next week, I’ll be in Chicago taking a first hand look at Bound for Glory, and will dutifully report back to you on my weekend with TNA, who if history is anything to go by, will be wonderful hosts.

Tonight, though, is about WWE, and the No Mercy Pay Per View which is frankly a one-match show.

Shawn Michaels v Chris Jericho, in what we understand is their last battle for the time being, dominates the landscape on this card, towering over the other matches, much like the title belt which will be placed high above the ring.

Elsewhere there are potentially significant matches, but not necessarily mouth-watering bouts in prospect.

Let’s take a look..............

Rey Mysterio v Kane
After a promising beginning, this feud has floundered due to the hotshotting of putting Rey into the Scramble match, which to be fair is no-one’s fault.

Now, this match is merely filler, as they only faced up a couple of weeks ago on free TV, so the addition of Rey de-masking is the added hook to attempt to build interest. I would think that the majority of current WWE viewers did not see a naked-faced Rey compete in WCW, and the WWE have had the good sense to keep Rey in a position to be a family friendly figure so they can sell their masks.

I can think of two scenarios, and they both involve Evan Bourne.

The first is that Bourne assists Mysterio tonight and Rey wins, therefore doesn’t have to show his startlingly young-looking face. The second is that Kane wins, and “Rey” will unmask on Raw. Except it ends up being Bourne when Kane takes the mask off, and Rey appears to smash Kane with something. Only trouble with the second one is that Rey is covered in tattoos.

Maybe they’ll get Charlie Haas instead to dress up as Rey.

I’d go with the first of my theories to make things simpler.

Prediction: Rey wins with an Evan Bourne assist.

Women’s Championship Match
Don’t have a go at me for not including the names of the participants. The above is exactly what it says on the WWE website. You might think this is a hint that the match may be changed, but it is probably lazy work on the part of whomever is running that part of the site.

Anyway, unless something has changed, it’s Beth Phoenix v Candice Michelle, and I see absolutely no point in handing the title to Candice, especially considering the fact that Beth and Santino are so over right now, and that Candice apparently was awful in her (taped) return to Raw, which had to be heavuily edited. Allegedly.

Prediction: Perhaps a tease of Santino to cost Beth the title, but ultimately The Glamazon to retain.

Big Show v Undertaker
These two have periodically locked horns over the last ten years or so, so with both men on Smackdown I suppose it was inevitable that they do so once again.

I still think Triple H v Undertaker is a lock for Wrestlemania, so they are just trying to occupy Taker right now. And with Cyber Sunday just three weeks away, I can see this being simply a set up for the next PPV.

Look for Vickie to get involved, along with Chavo, Ryder & Hawkins and Bam Neely, so that either Taker gets screwed out of a win somehow, or the match simply ends in a Taker win via DQ.

Then, I’d say that a three week build centres around a Casket Match, with a token vote for Cyber Sunday offering other options which will be ignored. Perhaps a Feather-Duster on a Pole match or a Left-Arm only Arm-Wrestling contest.

Extra big Casket built, Show and Vickie dumped in it, new GM.

Or something.

Prediction: Booking way ahead, Taker wins clean in a Casket Match at Cyber Sunday, so the match end unsatisfactorily tonight.

Batista v JBL
More high-flying action in prospect here, then.

I really cannot see JBL winning or two reasons. One being that he is not a credible number one contender. The second being that surely they wouldn’t book Chris Jericho v JBL, so if Bradshaw becomes number one contender it will likely telegraph an HBK win in the Ladder match.

I do not anticipate a classic. I do not anticipate a JBL victory. I do not anticipate anyone disagreeing with me.

Prediction: Batista to win a slow 10-minuter

ECW Championship: Matt Hardy v Mark Henry
Hmm. This is a tricky one, to be fair. I wouldn’t like to see Henry back on top again, but I fear that they would not want to put Hardy over Henry straight up, because it may hurt Henry’s credibility.

The only way I can see Hardy getting the nod is if Tony Atlas screws up, and Henry destroys him. Atlas, for me, has offered very little, and I hate seeing people like him earning money for nothing while actual WRESTLERS get cut. They might look to lose him soon.

However, this is straw-clutching at best from me here. I’m taking Henry to regain the title.

Prediction: Mark Henry. But I hope I get this wrong.

WWE Title: Jeff Hardy v Triple H
It’s not going to happen is it?

I’d love Jeff to win the big one, but three major things stand against him here.

One is that Triple H is likely to want to hold the strap until there comes a point where he loses it in a major way. Two, Jeff Hardy winning the gold would be a big thing, and I can’t see it happening down a card – it ought to dominate a show. Thirdly, the spectre of Vladimir Koslov looms over both combatants here.

I’m loathe to predict another piece of interference since I’ve indicated there may be some elsewhere, but it’s very possible The Moscow Mauler could insert himself somewhere in this contest. That gets WWE out of having to bury one or other of Hardy and Triple H, and perhaps sets up more depth to the Smackdown title race.

Let’s work on the theory that Koslov will keep himself to himself, and I’d think the most likely scenario is Hardy coming very close on several occasions, then taking a huge chance and missing, thus handing the contest to The Game.

One other rogue thought says that they may let Hardy win in a similar manner to his win last time over Triple H, with a quick roll up. Or perhaps Koslov beats up Triple H earlier in the night. Then, Hunter claims he has the right to a rematch, and during the this there is a disputed decision. This allows Hardy v HHH at Survivor Series, with Trips winning a long one. This scenario prolongs the programme, eating up days before The Road to Wrestlemania starts in earnest.

The big issues with these ideas are the problems outlined above and the presence of Koslov.

I’ll stick to the basics, I think.

Prediction: Triple H. In any number of ways

Shawn Michaels v Chris Jericho – Ladder Match for the World Title
There is nothing to say about these two that has not already been said, so I’ll cut to the chase. Jericho will win.
It’s partly due to the fact that I envisage a Jericho v Batista match upcoming, partly because I think Jericho makes a better long term champion, and majorly to do with the fact that HBK is still nursing a triceps injury. I can’t see them risking having to take the title forcibly off of another champion, and I wouldn’t think HBK would want (or need) the pressure right now.

The big problem with this is that in an old-fashioned heated feud like this one, the good guy should ultimately give the heel his comeuppance. The only thing I can think of is that perhaps the gruelling nature of the feud means that they give Michaels some Edge-like time off, perhaps with him returning to enter the Rumble.

I am just going to sit back and watch this, hopefully enjoy it greatly, and hope neither man gets hurt. I care not who wins, just that this feud gets the fitting ending it truly deserves.

Prediction: Chris Jericho. And a Classic

And one more thing.................

On reflection, perhaps the JBL/Batista match could be a controversial finish, either involving someone else interjecting themselves or with simply a draw or something. Therefore, the winner of Michaels/Jericho could face the winner of a three-man ballot at Cyber Sunday.

Enjoy No Mercy folks – I’ll be here with my as-live thoughts within minutes of the PPV, as per usual.