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Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Raw Thoughts Dec 29

· Rey and Shawn – good to see them in the ring together. Is this is a slow build to Mania? One of the last remaining dream matches.
· I thought (and still think) the reasoning for Michaels working for JBL is really flimsy, but it is generating great heat. JBL is a master at this craft.
· I’d have a little bit more of that – Cena helping out Mysterio. Fans really respond when babyfaces stick together and help each other.
· Not a bad little match with Cody and Punk, but just such a weak end section. I don’t mean the finish of the match, which is understandable. It was more the attack on Cody by Punk, leading to Regal attacking Punk in turn. Explain to me why Punk’s actions are that of a noble babyface and Regal’s the dastardly heel. You can’t, because they are the wrong way round. I hate it when wrestlers act inappropriately for their character.
· Wow, how far down the pecking order did Candice Michelle fall? Number four babyface in a women’s division is not high for the former golden girl.
· Why did Melina have to win a battle royal to be number one contender? Couldn’t she just have been named the contender or have won a one on one match with Mickie? Because she was clearly going to win anyway.
· Ok, we get Super Haas Charlie Snuka. Expect in the coming weeks “American Haas” Charlie Rhodes and Haasa the Wild Samoan.
· My favourite bit of Raw so far. Cole suggest that the pace will pick up as Kofi enters the ring. Kings says “say it like JR – Business is about to pick up!” There is then about 6 seconds of silence before Cole talks again, simply calling the match and ignoring King.
· Fun ten man tag. Very old school action. I enjoyed it. That kind of match is a great way to feature someone like Kofi.
· I’m guessing that whatever plan they had for Kelly’s boyfriend they dropped, and simply had her say that it was Randy Orton, to give Orton a bit more of an edge to his obnoxious jackass of character (that’s a compliment by the way)
· I liked the Legacy stuff. The individual matches all meant something which made them all a bit more watchable.
· I don’t know if we needed to see JBL v Cena again, but since Cena will win anyway it hardly matters. I’m happy to see Jericho, Orton and Michaels all in the Rumble.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Raw Thoughts December 15

· Re: the open, I love that kind of Raw segment. Not the divas match, but the aftermath. I know it didn’t really achieve much right now, but it’s intrigue. As long as it’s not just random stuff being thrown against the wall, I’m ok with it.
· Score one for me. I said months ago that “Deuce” would be a part of the second gen stable.
· People wonder why Duggan is still around. One reason is that people shouting “hooooo” creates a good atmosphere. You saw the other reason in this show. He can draw sympathy. Easy heat for Jericho, and Duggan just stood there and looked sad.
· Insta-feud time? Kelly tells Kane there is someone she likes and Kane goes after them. Hope she doesn’t say Rey Mysterio.
· Maybe it’s Lawler. That would fit his MO.
· OK, I wasn’t expecting Miz. I was thinking in my head of the babyface roster and had come up with Kofi, so I wasn’t surprised to see Kane. I was surprised to see him drop Mr Mizanin, though. There is interesting history there, if they want to refer to it, since Extreme Exposé, as they were, took a shine to Miz, although Kelly Kelly ended up gravitating towards Balls Mahoney. Or are they suggesting that KK is smart enough to say someone other than her beau to stitch them up?
· Great Tag Title match by the way. And kudos to them for not having Kane interfere midway through and actually allowing there to be a clean ending.
· Isn’t Dolph Ziggler just a mini Randy Orton? I mean, if you are going to be a mini-anyone then Orton isn’t a bad one, but two on the same show? Doesn’t work.
· Did I, or did I not, say on Sunday night that the JBL/HBK segment at Armageddon should have been on Raw? And now it is. Couldn’t they have saved it a night?
· This is why we need a war again. We need wrestling on in two places at once on a Monday. Here in the UK it would make little difference, but it would prevent segments like this taking place. In the old days, all the people that saw that last night would switch over to Nitro. (Or more likely vice versa since you’d imagine Nitro doing that back then)
· So she didn’t say The Miz. Maybe she said The Tazz and Kane misheard it.
· Not a bad main event, and a good way of making The Legacy known as a unit. To me the most interesting element is going to come with DiBiase returning and where he fits in. They just have to be really careful to get the right balance between being aggravating and being boring. They really strut to the ring with no facial expression and walk very slowly. I understand they are being cool and menacing, but many will just say boring.
· Good Raw overall, coming off a strong PPV. I might have thrown in Jeff Hardy in for a little extra pop, but he wasn’t missed. Interesting to see the next two weeks worth of matches offered up as bait for the Christmas period and running into traditionally one of the biggest PPVs in the calendar.

Monday, 15 December 2008

LIVE Armageddon Blog

Welcome one and all to Armageddon! The night the world comes to an end. Perhaps Vladimir the pseudo-Commie really does have nuclear arms! Or maybe Sheik Abdul Bashir is planning on using his WMD (a DDT, no less!) in a shock attack! Or maybe Mark Henry will have a 4-star match and hell will my Gawd freeze over.

But worry not, because although this night signifies the world ending, Judgment Day is some time away thanks to WWE’s protracted PPV calendar. Yay!

Anyway, I’m sort of feeling ok going into this since I have no real expectations. I feel that most of the matches ought to be easy to call, at least in terms of who’ll win, but it is a couple of people’s performances away from being terrible or superb. Let’s prey for the latter.

Haha, thats hilarious. JR refers to tonight being about battles of "Perceived" good and evil. I love that. We can't say "good and evil", it's 'perceived'. It's like if you read about wrestling on Wikipedia and it explains everything to you in stupid depth and tells you how things are pre-conceived and NOT REAL. I wonder what Santa's wikipedia page is like. Maybe I'll go edit it.

"Santa Claus is a jolly fat man (not Brother Love) who wears red suits and symbolises Christmas. His image and clothing is often (falsely) rumoured to have been inspired by a Coca-Cola advert.

He has a brother named Xanta Claus who lives at the South Pole. Xanta bears a striking resemblance to Balls Mahoney. He will bring presents of oranges and graffiti-ed steel chairs in December, and knows if you have been good or (Axl) Rotten. "

Or something.

Oh right, there's a show on. I forgot. Koslov and Hardy are on first. Koslov is dominating with what Striker calls Sambo offence.

Todd tells us that the greatest US v Soviet Union battle ever was some 1980 Hockey game. Yeah, screw the Cold War, Hockey is far more important.

They say Vince tells the announcers what to say - do you think Vince knows the Cold War is over? I'm guessing he saw Nicolai Volkoff do an indy show and still thinks it going on. Hang on, what am I saying? That would never happen. Vince knows nothing of indy feds. Stupid of me.

Formula heel domination and babyface fire match, which ends with Koslov winning comfortably. Have that ECW - the best you have is beaten by someone who has set foot in ECW.

This would be a great time for an advert for some old DVDs of stuff, because the match was straight out of like 1990. Koslov would have been over big-style 15-20 years ago.

Trouble is, it's 2008, and it doesn't really work. There was nothing particularly wrong with this, but nothing that intersting either.

Finlay tells Hornswoggle to stay backstage for his Belfast Brawl later tonight. Is that safe? Fit, have you checked to see where Mike Knox is? He hates people under 5ft9. He will slaughter l'il Horny. Wait, why am giving advice AGAINST that?? Mike Knox might become a babyface based on that!

LILIAN DOESN'T READ WWE.COM!!! She announced Punk as a tag team champion, despite the fact that he and Kofi lost to Miz and Morrison last night.

Both Kofi and Rey got decent cheers, with maybe Rey's being slightly louder. This should be good.

If you want to contribute, by the way, to this blog, you can. email me at with any observations, jokes, questions or whatever, I'd love to hear from you.

Decent match thus far, although I'm wishing it was a Smackdown match, since Cole and King are ruining it. Rey flew through the air and got very high on a moonsault - but missed. King called it perfect. Punk they caught Rey with a gorgeous fast powerslam - Cole not only called it a scoop slam, but King repeated it, then Cole said it again!

I really enjoyed that. As an early card match it wasn't quite as good as Matt Hardy and Evan Bourne, but still very decent.

Punk caught Rey a beauty with his GTS. Rey went really high on it and took a knee genuinely right in the schnozz.

Good God, what is it about Regal? He wrestled about 400 matches straight where his nose ended up bleeding like a tap/fawcett (delete depending on what country you come from) and now simply standing outside the ring he causes Rey to spill the claret.

Cole gives a list of about a dozen wrestlers including Hart, Michaels, Rock, Austin, Edge, Triple H and others who won the IC strap. Yeah, but they all won it BEFORE becoming World champion, didn't they. Punk not getting the slow burn has affected him longer term. I look forward to Punk v Regal though.

A rundown of the JBL/HBK programme so far (well, the last third of it, but never mind) before JBL's music hits and out comes the limo. Damn, I was hoping that Michaels might have been the chauffeur. That would have been awesome.

Anyway, this doens't appear to be a match, but a JBL promo. I'd moan about promos on PPV, but in the past they have been some of the better segments.

Terrific promo from HBK. I mean, it belonged on Raw, but it was terrific. He even coerced the audience into a "You sold out" chant which was impressive. JBL as the menacing figure was also very good, and now we have just two things to wait on. One is what exactly Shawn's job is (is he going to shill Mamajuana like he does DX gear?) and the other is when he will get bored and kick JBL's million dollar teeth down his throat.

Hang on, what about Triple H here? Can he not lend his buddy a couple of bucks? He is The Game, isn't he? The cerebral assassin, the smartest man in wrestling. He must have some money lying around.

Someone (maybe with a poorly arm) recently pointed out to me about Cody Rhodes and Manu. They may be the two most lisping wrestlers of all time, and they have found each other. But get this, what's their stable name?

Priceless - a word with two 's' sounds. Prithleth? You bethcta! (/Yosemite Sam)

Just had a thought "The Legathy" isn't much better, is it? Finlay and Henry isn't that bad, by the way......

Hornswoggle out to interfere but gets knocked down to the floor. When Tony Atlas goes to see him, though, he has gone under the ring. Leave him alone Tony! That's where he lives with the Bella Twins! It's very adequately heated as well, handy at this time of year when it is very cold? How do I know it is heated? Think about when Edge went through the ring. Flames! Very toasty.

Finlay wins, and you know why? Henry used a bin to try to squash the Ulsterman and Grisham called it a Trash Compactor. That's Duke Droese's move! He didn't win a match for years. If you are going to steal things, Mark, steal the Worm! That dance and weak forearm was DEVESTATING!

That was the strangest four minutes of TV ever. Did I see a a bunch of divas, Charlie Haas as Santa, Boogieman in a gift box, Santino screaming, Goldust under mistletoe, Boogie and Goldie starting a song off, Jesse and Festus turning up, followed by IRS and Mike Chioda? You saw it too? Good. But where was Ron Simmons? Damn!

Then, up pops Mr Kennedy pops up to tell us to buy his DVD. I would totally have gone to the cinema to see it but......for some reason......anyway, Mr Ken Kennedy Kennedy (Hang on, Mr KKK? That's not so good) urges everyone to drink responsibly and to not do drugs. Ken f'n Kennedy is speaking out against illegal substances. I'm hoping that was deliberate irony.

What Ken meant to say was to not do drugs, but if you do, like about it in several interviews and go on Nancy (Dis)Grace to defend the company's honour.

Then get busted for being a liar.


Batista Orton next.

Orton emerges with Cody and Manu. So are they now an official group. How the hell will they explain this further when DiBiase returns?

Plenty into the match, and we get to see what Ric Flair REALLY taught Batista. He taught Dave exactly how to climb to the top rope and do nothing until someone else comes to nail you with offence. Woooooooo!

Let's start with some positives. Batista wins, which means although I got the prediction in my mind I got a surprise finish at least. The finish was VERY creative, with a nice couple of transitions to get Orton in the position he needed to be for Batista to finish him off. Finally, the pacing of the match was excellent, as the brawl picked up insensity nicely to develop uncertainty of just who the victor would be.

Negatives? Well it wasn't gripping. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't terrible, and it could have been a lot worse, but it never really engaged me until near the end.

I don't see why Orton lost. To me he is the more marketable wrestler moving forward, and I have seen more than enough of Batista challenging for titles to last me several lifetimes. Does this mean it's Batista v Cena at the Rumble?

Standard Divas filler next to settle the crowd before the double main. Do you want me to comment on the wrestling or the outfits. Both are barely there.

Since the commentators are just having a chat and occasionally being vaguely offensive ("lets all talk about Jews for a bit" seemed to be their instructions), with Matt Striker taking every opportunity for a little alliterations, I'll got to the mailbag. Imran writes:

Great commentary again

How on EARTH Batista has been allowed to pin Cena AND Orton cleanly and Jericho Semi-cleanly in the same year I will never know... I mean its of course its down to the fact that some reason he's very popular with the fans (though not in Manchester in November!) and Vince/HHH like him... but really, I don't think there's been anyone of recent times who has had a higher in-balance of wrestling ability with position on the card/in the company.... He's slow, sloppy and has such a limited move-set that it makes most of his match's dull... and those that aren't usually involve people who are quality wrestlers... such as Jericho and Orton.

Take your point, Imran, but you spelled out your own answer. His response is generally good, and he has been marketed well as a babyface, so he stays where he is. I don't care greatly for him, but as long as Vince does (and Trips does), then we get him more often. In fact I think you'll see Batista v Triple H before very long, with one of them being a heel.

The diva nonsense ends with Michelle doing a weird looking Styles Clash after tagging herself in. Tazz makes a great call comparing Maria's boots to John Nord (Beserker).

Impromptu Khali Kiss-cam post match, with Michelle storming off. (Yeah, that'll make her a huge heel, not kissing the big guy) Mae Young eventually comes out to lock lips with the big lug, with me partly expecting Trish Stratus when Ranjin was talking about a back-up plan.

That took up a lot of time. I hope we don't get a chopped down couple of title matches now.

The Narcissist Chris Jericho? Is that what Cole called him? So Mark Henry is Duke The Dumpster Droese, Maria is John Nord and now Jericho is Lex Luger? Hmm, doesn't bode well. He's bound to choke in this title match then.

I'm interested in this match going on second to last. Don't get me wrong, I saw the Triple Threat at the real main event, but they'll typically end with a babyface win, or maybe a shocking conclusion. The two are not mututally exclusive.

Right, there are two ways of looking at this.

One is from the point of view of someone like me. I watch this and simply don't buy most of it because in my heart and mind I know Cena is going to win. Sometimes I hate knowing stuff or even understanding too much because common sense told me Cena was going over.

The other thing to do is place yourself in the position of the Cena (I don't like this word but I'm going to use it) marks who, possibly, are drawn in by the man alone as opposed to the product generally. They would likely have really enjoyed that match because Jericho is a credible opponent who looked like he might usurp the Champ. Then, when Cena pulled it out, they would have gone crazy. I think. Thing is, it's at times like this I feel for the WWE creative, because although I know my wrestling I am not their typical fan or their prime target audience.

I thought this match was the same as basically all the PPV so far. Passable, could have been better, could have been worse. The finishing sequence was excellent, and having Jericho kick out of an FU (albeit after a pause) was interesting. This was better than Survivor Series in my opinion, and certainly made Jericho retain some strength coming out of this one.

Right, lets get one grievance out of the way. There was no need for Koslov in that match. They could have done the match without having he and Matt turn up, frankly.

Aside from that, the main event DELIVERED as far as I am concerned. I wasn't crazy about the proliferation of standard triple threat spots with one man selling minor moves forever. However, from the moment they spilled outside for the protracted sequence of events leading to Edge spearing Hardy through a table this match lit up. A whole bunch of false finishes set a great pace, and Hardy was set to capitalise on situations plenty of times. I bought each one, so after about three I thought he was done.

When I noticed that Trips had Pedigreed Edge in the corner my mind changed, but they had me by then. That was classic storytelling, with one annoying blip. Jeff has earned the belt, and earned the right to do it without Koslov costing Triple H. Hope you enjoyed the show and the live blog. I thought it was a decent to good PPV. No matches stunk the place out, but then only a couple went above average. I really enjoyed Punk v Mysterio, and felt that the triple threat was nearly masterful. General thumbs up.

December 15 2008.
WWE Superstar Jeff Hardy has failed a third Wellness Policy Test and has had his contract with WWE terminated. We wish Jeff well will his future endeav............

Stop it, Rob -enjoy the moment!!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Armageddon preview

When PPV Sundays come round these days, I often have a mixture of emotions.

It’s usually a mixture of trepidation that bad booking decisions will be made, that the card is too weak, but also that the PPV output is often very strong.

Tonight, I can’t help get the feeling that the last PPV of 2008 will follow the same formula.

Last time we had a PPV it was a very strange affair. The wrestling was possibly the worst this year, but there were very intriguing storyline developments.

We have a real blend of matches, certainly. Triple H, Edge and Jeff Hardy has the potential to be excellent, so long as it doesn’t fall into the trap of being a typical formulaic three-way match. Cena and Jericho is also a potential good’un, while Rey Mysterio and CM Punk could have a blinder if both men are allowed the freedom to shine.

On the other hand, there are two ECW contests which don’t appeal. You have to feel for the excellent workers Finlay and Matt Hardy for having the task of getting a match out of Mark Henry and Vladimir Koslov respectively.

Batista v Orton is a wild card. Batista matches are often a cause for puzzlement. Sometimes he looks a lumbering, paint-by-numbers lug, and at others contributes to some sterling matches. The obvious answer is that when Batista wrestles a so called “ring general” (maybe Triple H or Undertaker) you see a far better match then when he goes up against others. That is not to say that people like Michaels or Jericho are not great wrestler, because they truly are, but some people get good performance out of others, and some don’t. I look forward to seeing which of these Randy Orton is tonight.

Onto predictions and pseudo-booking..............

Rey Mysterio v CM Punk
I can see this one opening the show. Don’t forget, although it is a tournament final, it is not for the Intercontinental Championship, but for the right to beat, dah, I mean FACE William Regal. But whoever wins this will beat Regal, surely. Otherwise why book a tournament to build up a contender?

I’d probably put Regal on the commentary team for this one, should he feel up to it. As well as being a great wrestler he is so talented in a vocal role, so you could get a nice blend of humour and analysis from him.

Punk is the most likely victor, and two big things underline that. One is that Regal said from the very first match of the tournament that he wanted to face Punk, so you can’t help but feel that something was being teased. Secondly, Punk and Kofi Kingston lost the tag titles to the brand-defying Miz and Morrison at a house show this week, suggesting to me that Punk’s future lies in his singles title push, not in a duo.

The match itself has huge potential. I am not the world’s biggest Mysterio fan, but it’s not that I don’t like him – I just don’t rave about him as much as some do. I find some of his offense too unbelievable, and consequently find it harder to buy into what he is offering me.

That being said, he is an athletic guy, and although very short, his outing with Punk’s ally Kofi was very good. Punk is pretty adaptable, and as I alluded to before, if these guys are afforded some leeway to just go out there and have a hell of a match, then it stands to be a good one.

Prediction: CM Punk

I would book......Punk to win, and maybe even a best of three series with Regal. Regal and Punk are talented enough to wrestle three different matches.

And another thing......Both men are babyfaces – I’d expect some early fireworks to try to get the crowd pumped up, since they may not have an automatic favourite.

Eight Divas Tag Match – Michelle McCool, Mickie James, Kelly Kelly and Maria v Maryse, Natalya, Victoria and Jillian

So important that have not got it on their card, this is a Santa’s Little Helper match. Presumably the octet of beauties (well, septet and Jillian) will wear barely there wrestling gear consisting of red and white fluffy stuff and exhibit all the wrestling technical ability of my Nan. And her arthritis is playing her up again.

Poor, poor Natalya, who JR actually said can rival anyone on the company for wrestling smarts, but was forced to job to the Bella Twins, who don’t make it onto this show. Mickie, of course, is also pretty reasonable, so hopefully she and Nattie will take centre stage.

I’m thinking it better that the heel team wins, and Michelle McCool furthers her turn by costing her team the match, or vice versa. However, I don’t see it. It’s a fun match because of the clothing stip, so I’ll take the babyfaces.

Prediction: The babyface team.

I would book..........well I wouldn’t have booked to start with, but you may as well book something, anything that will further story. I’d have Michelle walk out on her team or reveal an alliance with one of the other heels.

Then I’d make sure Victoria, Natalya, Beth and Mickie were all on the same brand, so we can watch better quality WRESTLING from the more talented girls.

And another thing........on the graphic promoting this match on dotcom, Michelle is at the front of her team while Maryse is prominent for hers. Shows you who they value highly.

Finlay v Mark Henry (Belfast Brawl)
The last “Belfast Brawl” was at Wrestlemania, with Finlay taking on JBL, and on that showing it is just a Hardcore match, with no other stipulations attached.

I supposed if we have to see Mark Henry and pay for the privilege, then at least making it something other than an ordinary contest makes sense. Finlay is very good, but not a miracle worker, so I figure we will see him bumping around for a while trying to make Henry look good.

I’d figure that Hornswoggle will try to help Finlay get the win (when is the last time Finlay won a match without his little buddy or a shillelagh shot?) but Atlas will KO the former little bastard, drawing the ire of Finlay. Fit might get a shot in on the former Saba Simba, but Henry capitalises to get the win.

Prediction: Henry, in a short but brutal one.

I would book.........again, not this. But if forced into it, I’d have Finlay win. A strongly booked Finlay could help so many other wrestlers, because he can make a decent match good, and an average worker look a million dollars.

And another thing.......could this match be billed as Fit v Unfit?

Matt Hardy v Vladimir Koslov – non title match.

Why in the world would you make this non-title? We just saw these two wrestle at Smackdown a couple of weeks ago, so why do we need it again?

Also, this doesn’t help anyone. If Hardy wins, he beats a guy the fans don’t care about and damages a streak of sorts. If Koslov wins, then the ECW champ looks weak and the belt trivial (well, more trivial).

I don’t see a classic by any stretch, and I could possibly see a schmozz ending too.

Prediction: If we are talking clean victories, it is more likely to be Koslov. But I have a fancy for Matt to win by DQ after Koslov just keeps on battering him and getting himself in hot water. Koslov is then ‘undefeated’ in the WWE Universe which means only pins and submissions register on the radar.

I would book.........I’m not sure. I understand the nature of keeping people strong. I’d be tempted to put Koslov over but to have hardy dominate the match, perhaps almost total offense but then a huge headbutt out of nowhere.

And another thing.........I’d still like Matt to have something to do with Jeff’s mysterious attack. Perhaps Matt could appear in the three-way later on, ‘inadvertently’ costing Jeff?

Batista v Randy Orton
This is clearly going to be another case of throwing two people together to keep them in the public eye, as opposed to making this count. Randy Orton v Batista could be enormous if built up, but it’s been a real afterthought.

As outlined above, I’m not sure about how good it could be. This would quite possibly be a better title match than a regular match if you play to the old formula over heavily booking the contest with ref bumps and the like.

I think Orton is most likely to go over here, since Batista has spent the last year choking at various points, and it hasn’t greatly affected him. Plus Orton’s momentum is good right now, and I don’t think it makes sense to curtail that.

Orton also has the other issue of Cody Rhodes and Manu, and possibly Manu. What is the situation? Are they “The Legacy” now? Are they still Priceless and sans Orton? Who knows. There are plenty of possibilities, although I think they should probably play out down the line, and not tonight.

Prediction: Randy Orton, probably with an RKO out of nowhere, and perhaps some assistance from Cody

I would book.......definitely Orton to win. I’d quite like him to do so cleanly really, because I really rate Orton as both a worker and a character, and I would love him to be kept strong. He must be a leading contender to face Cena at the Rumble.

And another thing......will Ted DiBiase Jnr return tonight? And if he does, where will his loyalties lie?

World Heavyweight Title match – John Cena v Chris Jericho

I don’t know about you, but I think Cena might win this. Isn’t that an outrageous view?

There will be a few Cena haters out there who won’t be happy is The Champ is still there at the end of the night, but I’m fairly sure he will be. It just doesn’t make any sense to switch it back over the Jericho, as much as I love him and as much as his Superstar of the Year Slammy was justified.

Call it a coincidence if you wish, but ratings have risen since Cena has been back on Raw, so it only makes sense to give him a long run on top once again.

The match itself? I wouldn’t expect much to be that different from what we saw previously, to be honest. I would love to see Jericho work a leg and put some psychology into it. The only issue would be if Cena could sell effectively enough.

Prediction: John Cena, clean as you like.

I would book.........the very same, but I’d like to see Jericho be given a nice shine and for him to continue to look great.

And another thing........If Jericho were to win he’d be a SIX TIME champion. Funny when you consider that for a lot of his career you feel he has been held back!

WWE title match – Edge v Triple H v Jeff Hardy
This is the biggest match on the card, and the one that the PPV could live or die by. If this match lives up to it’s potential then it could be an absolute cracker.

When you have Triple H in a triple threat then you can’t help but think about his encounter with Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit at Wrestlemania. I don’t expect this one to be as good as that, but when you look at the talent in the line up it is fair to expect a decent bout.

I can’t see past Edge winning, to be honest. I think that his ultimate opportunist tag has been played up a great deal, so we’ll likely see Triple H and Jeff Hardy batter each other once again, with Edge capitalising on a well-struck Pedigree or Swanton Bomb.

Prediction: Edge

I would book.......probably Edge too. I don’t know what the direction is for the Jeff Hardy attack, but I really do think it has the potential to be a big storyline. I’d book this match to set up whatever is coming with Jeff, too.

And another thing.......If Jeff’s assailant is neither Edge nor Triple H, then those two may very well meet at the Royal Rumble.

Well that’s the show in my opinion. Two others things to think about are the absence on the scheduled card of Shawn Michaels and JBL, as well as Santino Marella and his girlfriend Beth. I don’t see how Michaels and JBL fit in, but I’d be disappointed not to see Santino at some point.

Enjoy the show everyone, and remember I’ll be covering the show with LIVE updates here on the blog. I hope you will join me, and feel free to email me on to share your own feelings on the show.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Special Slammy Award-winning Raw Thoughts

· Every week on Raw the theme music (pretty great theme music, I might add) hits and we see the crowd. And then every week I am disappointed to hear Cole’s voice. I always seem to forget he is the raw guy now and not JR.
· Wait, there is JR. He and Tazz are here too. But not Striker and Grisham. Hmm, is that them out of the running for the commentary team of the year?
· Tag team Slammy first. Anyone but Miz and Morrison would be a huge travesty.
· And they win it. Quite right too. I groaned when I saw these two against Jeff and Hunter on SD, and was so glad they found a way of making sure they didn’t lose again. Terrific acceptance speech too.
· When watching Punk v Morrison, why did Regal and Layla watch the TV at an angle?
· Speaking of the match though, it was an absolute treat. Morrison is very, very creative, or at least very receptive to a creative agent, whoever that may be.
· I hope we’re going to get some legends and surprise names present some prizes.
· But not Mae Young
· That ‘yo’ stuff with Cryme Tyme and Candice was painful.
· “How many of you would like to see my finishing manoeuvre?” No-one Candice, because you would likely break into a thousand pieces (or at least re-injure her clavicle)
· Hahaha. A new one for Cole. He describes Knox’s assault on Evan Bourne a few weeks ago as “horrid”. Michael appears now to be a spoiled, posh female, teenager. “He was horrid, simply horrid. Daddy, can I have a Pony?”
· A match you can only dream about, says King “World Heavyweight Champion John Cena v WWE Champion Edge” – do the folks behind the scenes in WWE not realise how ridiculous that sounds? How can one be the champion of the world and the other the best in the company? Doesn’t make sense. They really have to end this brand extension and let people believe in one guy as champ. Hell, people barely stick to brands any more, it’s a moot point virtually.
· Poor MVP. No-one ever got over with a losing streak. Not a heel anyway. You can have a brave babyface nearly win a few times and have it help him (Think Tommy Dreamer and Raven, perhaps)
· Quality – they referred to Jericho ramming Michaels’ head through the monitor as “Crash TV” Hey, Vinny Ru! We remember ya, buddy.
· Jeff Hardy wins the Extreme Moment award for his leap onto Orton in the build up to the Rumble. Fair dos. It was pretty shocking at the time.
· Well, what do I know? Turns out Grisham and Striker have won the best Announcers gong, only it was proclaimed on
· King(dripping with sarcasm) “They must be good, they aren’t here” - I hope that was a working comment, but it did strike that there might be a bit of feeling in there. If that is what King feels, then he should wake up and realise that what Todd and Matt are doing on ECW, and when they get chances on PPVs, is actually be likable, talk civilly to each other, be informative and not rely on clichés. It is something that Cole is incapable of, and that Lawler used to do. King was a terrific heel colour guy, but now adds nothing to the show. The best colour guy of recent times was JBL, though Mick Foley was pretty good too. They actually entertained and informed at the same time. King now does neither. And that’s not me sniping and saying he isn’t talented. It would be an easy response to say “you don’t know how difficult it is, you’ve never done it” but I’m not saying King isn’t good – I’m saying he isn’t good any more.
· Kane and Kelly Kelly. Interesting duo. He should have sniffed her though. I liked when Kane did that. “The last time I was in a relationship, I tombstoned the priest.” Quality line. They could have reference Lita going from Kane to Edge when Vickie came out, but never mind.
· Edge and Vickie have been great – but I’m gutted for Santino and Beth. Wait – as I type, here he comes anyway.
· I have never been all that keen on the Hornswoggle character, but his mocking of both Santino and Beth was terrific.
· Melina “All WWE divas possess beauty, talent, ambition and athleticism. The one thing they all share above all else......” Long “they are hot”Surely Teddy should have simply called Melina wrong on the first count and then instead of saying ‘hot’ could have just said ‘tits’
· Look, the Melina entrance was funny last week, but please lets not just have Santino hurt his balls every week.
· Well done for having the common sense to have Joey Styles (in Philly) to present “Oh My God” moment.
· I love Punk, and it’s obvious they’ll give an award to a roster member, but Mayweather smashing was the stand-out single moment because no-one expected that.
· Nice little list of thank yous from Punk. I picked out Scotty Goldman, which is what Scott Colton a.k.a Colt Cabana is known as on Smackdown and Chris Guy, which I think is the real name of Ace Steel. The story being that Cabana used Chris Guy as a ring name when wrestling as enhancement talent, because Ace Steel used Scott Colton in similar fashion.
· Poor Kennedy. They’ve morphed him into an idiot. He should be a cocky, arrogant heel, not a corporate shill who says stuff like “doesn’t she look great everybody?” about generic diva #24. Doesn’t suit him.
· Flair and Michaels is an appropriate choice. However, it is clear by now that these awards mean absolutely nothing, because they are all furthering current storylines. Hence it being better to give something to Punk rather than Mayweather or Big Show, at least in WWE’s mind. I don’t blame them, by the way, it’s just good business sense.
· I know people ride Orton for using chinlocks all the time, but in his (partial) defence, he is very, very good at them. It isn’t a ‘rest’ hold at all. He never stops moving.
· I miss mental Mickie. She’s cute and everything, but I miss the maniac that stalked Trish.
· Jillian is tremendous. I laughed for real at the Damn segment. Not in a fake way like Cole. That was stupid, daft and nonsense. I genuinely loved it.
· Jericho’s promo before Cena v Edge was terrific. That, in a nutshell, is why Chris Jericho is the superstar of the year.
· A serviceable finale to the show. Not a terrific main event because we know how good Cena and Edge can be together, but the animosity between Jericho and Cena felt realistic and was a suitable way to go out. Jericho constantly looking around during the show was really good continuity.
· Good show overall. A couple of decent comedy bits, with a top-notch Morrison v Punk match and a couple of other decent ones. Although why Jericho and Hardy don’t click (they never, ever, have a good match) is staggering.

Don’t forget, Armageddon on Sunday night/Morning morning, depending where in the world you are, and just like Survivor Series I will be updating the blog LIVE. So, make sure you load up as the show begins, and feel free to give me your input on the show as it goes on.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Who will win the Royal Rumble?

I don’t know about you, but my favourite Pay Per View is, was and will probably always be the Royal Rumble.

Armageddon will soon be upon us (sooner than you think if you believe the right-wing newspapers) and after that we are full steam ahead for the first PPV of 2009, which is the Rumble, this year emanating from Detroit, Michigan. I thought it might be a good time to start having a look at potential winners.

Soon, I’ll take a look at a potential Wrestlemania card, but let’s start having a look at who could be in a main event at this years Blue Riband show.

Firstly, we need to make an assumption on who will be the champions going into the Rumble and then Mania. This is a tricky bit, but we’ll have to take a bit of a leap of faith.

I’d say we go with the assumption that John Cena is the champ on Raw. Flagging ratings and flip-flopping champions means that they’ll fancy having Cena holding the belt for a long time. So lets pencil Cena in for one title match at Mania.

Can Edge hold his belt until Wrestlemania? He certainly can and since I think that somehow he’ll scrape the Triple Threat. It befits the Edge character as an opportunist to win out in a match like this, which is quite possibly built so that Edge does not have to down either Triple H or Jeff Hardy one-on-one, and that Hardy and Trips can beat the tar out of each other only for Edge to roll on top of one and get the fall.

Since he’ll likely be the champ running into the Royal Rumble, we’ll take Edge out of the equation and grant him a couple more title wins to take him through to Wrestlemania.

The tricky thing, then, is to project who will take on Cena and Edge at the Rumble. So tricky, in fact, that I won’t!

Instead, we’ll factor everyone in and work out the winner of the Rumble first.

Before I start, I’d like to acknowledge the fact that this kind of piece this time last year would have been completely redundant due to John Cena returning from injury. We’ll have to assume no major surprises. If that does happen, don’t blame me.

I’ve drawn up a shortlist of ten, and we’ll take them in alphabetical order, then make a judgement at the end.

Starting with the Animal, then, and this is a man who has won the Royal Rumble before. In 2005, Batista was in Evolution and started a terrific, long programme whereby he turned on his cohorts and wrestled Triple H at Wrestlemania. It was one of those storyline arcs which was milked very well in order to draw an audience reaction.

It was an example of someone winning the Rumble at precisely the right time. Batista was on fire, and his star was set to shine.

Where is he now? He is still high up there, still over, but the problem is that we have seen him wrestle just about everybody, and not particularly well either. Aside from an entertaining programme with Triple H and a series of really good matches with Taker that surpassed expectations, Batista’s matches are rarely classics.

That being said, WWE appear pretty high on him still, so he has to be seen as a contender. Batista v John Cena was thrown away at Summerslam, so a Mania main event with these two will be an anti-climax, but it is still a real possibility. With that in mind, he has to be a Rumble leading contender.

There is a significant black mark against Batista – but see Randy Orton where I’ll explain.

Big Show
The Big Show is obviously still a valuable commodity in WWE. The use of him with Floyd Mayweather will have endeared himself to many in the corridors of power no doubt, after the publicity it garnered.

He has had a mixed last couple of months. His turn on The Undertaker was too contrived and far too obvious once it began to happen. The first match between Show and Taker was merely ok, but the Last Man Standing follow-up was tremendous. It’s a shame the Casket match at Survivor Series was awful.

It has now been very nearly ten years since Paul Wight stopped being The Giant in WCW and became WWE’s Big Show. He has had a decent tenure and is regarded by many as one of the best big men ever, and as a nice man and intelligent guy.

I can see him as an early entrant who dominates only for a Batista or someone similar to oust to make them look good. But not as a winner. Sorry, Show.

Chris Jericho
It’s been just over a year since Chris Jericho returned to WWE, and despite a quite lacklustre start, he has excelled in his heel run.

His inclusion on this list is dependant on him not winning the title back before the Rumble, and indeed on him not being in the title match at the event itself. It is possible that he will be champ again, but I don’t see Cena losing the strap before then.

I also don’t really see Jericho being in a Mania main event, which is where you have to look for this Rumble winner. Jericho is the kind of guy that can have a terrific programme with someone without the World Title coming into it. Just look at the magic woven by Jericho along with Shawn Michaels this year.

I see Jericho being used in an alternate role, not to do with the title but as a secondary, entertaining role building up to Wrestlemania.

Jeff Hardy
At the Royal Rumble last year, Jeff Hardy wrestled Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. It looked as though he may just win the big one, but they held it off him. The following month he came close to winning the Elimination Chamber match (kicking out of the Pedigree as I recall) but then, in early March, was sent home for 60 days after failing a second Wellness Test.

Did they know at the time of last year’s Rumble that he was sailing close to the wind, or was it an inspired decision? Either way, both before and since his suspension, Jeff has been booked tremendously well. He is quite possibly the most over figure in the WWE.

So will they give him a chance at the big one again? For Jeff Hardy to be World or WWE Champion, I would love to think they would do it on a big stage. Wrestlemania 25 would be the perfect setting for Jeff to be victorious, possibly over Edge, to win a World title.

Whether or not they give him a World belt at this point is largely irrelevant. The bigger picture is whether he is deemed a sufficient draw to be placed in a high-up position on the card at Wrestlemania.

The Rumble has often been a match where an up-and-comer destined to win the belt has triumphed. Shawn in ’95, Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Batista – maybe Jeff is next.

Randy Orton
I like Randy’s chances. I really do.

The guy has been incredible since his return (I’m talking character as opposed to wrestling) and you can certainly see him being given a run to Mania as a number one contender.

There are a few things against him though.

The first is that the Rumble winner is usually a babyface. In fact, of the 21 editions of the Royal Rumble match, babyfaces have won 16 of them, with heels winning just five times. Also, the last heel to win was in 1999, when it was none other than Vince McMahon taking the title.

Before that Austin and Michaels won the Rumble as heels, but were both within six months of a monster babyface turn and push. Potentially you could include Batista as being a heel winner, as his official face turn took place the week after he won the Rumble.

The only other heel winners were Ric Flair in ’92 (and that was to win the belt not to have a number one contender spot) and Yokozuna in ’93.

Interestingly, the website does not list a winner for 2004. How strange.

Anyway, back to Randy, and I feel that he is a leading contender, but not necessarily assured of the crown.

I mentioned at Batista’s entry that there was an extra point to make, and it applies to Orton too.

Batista and Orton are scheduled to face off at Armageddon, and I assume that if there is a clear winner then that man will be the number one contender.

Personally I don’t see Jericho taking the belt from Cena, so unless they do Batista/Cena 2 at the Rumble then they’ll want a heel to be number one contender. I suspect that would be Orton.

If Orton is in the Rumble he has a great chance. I suspect he will actually be wrestling John Cena at the Rumble, though.

Rey Mysterio
The master of the 619 won the Rumble in 2006, but although he is still a popular figure, his stock has depreciated greatly since he was given a world title run. It should also be noted that some could suggest that Rey’s title reign was possibly a capitalisation on the feeling after the death of Eddie Guerrero. I’m not saying that it is fact, but it is a possibility.

I cannot see him winning. The little guy winning the Rumble and the belt has been done once, and doing again would not be desirable. It’s a no for me on Mysterio.

Shawn Michaels.
Coming up for two years ago, HBK and Undertaker were the undoubted two favourites leading into the Rumble. Playing off of this expectation, similar to when Batista and Cena were the last two in 2005, Taker and Shawn ended the 2007 Rumble, with The Deadman eventually getting the upper hand.

Shawn would go on to face Cena in a great programme and terrific match at Wrestlemania. At WM24, of course, he wrestled in Ric Flair’s farewell match. Michaels has earned the Mr Wrestlemania moniker – so will it be franked by another Rumble win to make it a hat-trick, and therefore another Wrestlemania title win?

You know you can rely on him. The Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho rivalry has been one of the highlights of not only the last year but the last few years in WWE, and Michaels rarely has a bad match. Should he win the Rumble, he could very well have another Mania classic.

If you assume Michaels would be kept on Raw, he is unlikely to win. If you take Jericho to be champ at Mania, you are getting a match we have seen all year. Although awesome, do we need it again?

If Cena is champ, then HBK winning the Rumble leads to a Wrestlemania 25 main event being the same as WM23. Can’t see that happening.

So if Michaels is to win the Rumble, he’d need to go to Smackdown to face their champion.

Edge? That might be good. Michaels and Edge have squared off before, but apart from DX v Rated RKO, they haven’t been opposed in a good old fashioned feud for at least four years. Edge’s character is way better now than back then, so this would be fresh. Not only that, the match would be tremendous.

I don’t see Jeff Hardy becoming champ, but if he was, then HBK v Jeff would be cool, too.

Finally, though – what about Triple H? Some would complain that it would be the same old faces on top, but consider that Michaels may not be around for too much longer. Remember this is a guy who was to all intents and purposes retired and never coming back, so for him to do what he has done the past four or five years is incredible.

Perhaps time is taking it’s toll on Shawn’s body, and before he retires he wants one more title reign and one more match with Triple H. Why not do this on the grandest scale of all? Shawn Michaels v Triple H at Wresltlemania 25? Could happen.

There are a couple of other matches I’d like to see Michaels compete in, but I’m saving a “Dream Mania Card” piece for later down the line. You’ll have to wait and see.

Triple H
I am not saying that Triple H cannot win this thing, but surely it wouldn’t be a sensible idea for it to happen? The Game does not need to win a Royal Rumble to get to the title picture, and it would be extremely short-sighted to use this as another Hunter vehicle rather than using it to help a midcarder get elevated.

Like I say, HHH winning the Rumble for the second time isn’t impossible, but it has to be unlikely, and very, very undesirable.

Similar to the man above, having Undertaker win the Royal Rumble makes little sense this year.

Firstly, Taker has had ‘streak v title’ matches for the last two years, and won both of them. To do it again would be a little tedious. Taker is surely now in a position where he could have a huge match without need to involve the title belt. He can wrestle in an attraction match with the Mania streak on the line.

Also, the Royal Rumble would be a neat place for someone to take Undertaker out of the match and set up an ongoing programme.

Vladimir Koslov

So there are your contenders.

We’ve left out Edge and Cena, which is perhaps foolish because should one or both of them lose the belts they become huge contenders. Especially Edge.

There is of course the prospect of surprise entrants, but I’d suggest that any surprise entrant will not win, as there is no-one on the level that Cena was last year waiting to come back.

(Oh, and if you want a surprise entrant no-one has mentioned............gimme a Hell Yeah!)

Looking through our appraisals of the main men, I’d come down to three men.

Orton, Hardy or Batista.

I CAN see Batista doing it. They love the big guy in Vince’s inner circle, and it sets up Batista v John Cena once again.

I love the idea of it being Jeff Hardy. The up-and-comer being given the nod has been a long theme of the Rumble. Michaels, Austin, Mysterio, Lesnar, Benoit, Batista, even Yokozuna were on the up and just waiting to be given the ball. Hardy is the obvious example of that figure on the current roster, and with ratings flagging and a shot in the arm needed, they may just take a chance on the man with two strikes.

Orton is who I would have said some time ago. My drawback with him is that I don’t see who he goes on to face at Wrestlemania. They may do Orton v Cena as a decent main event if they have one or two other attractions to beef up the card, but I don’t see it.

Reluctantly, I’m saying Batista. I don’t think that would be a great move, but it just seems very plausible to me.

God, I’d love Jeff to do it though. I hope I’m wrong with my prediction – and I don’t say that often.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Raw Thoughts: December 1

· I love the twist that Jericho says his son is a Cena fan.
· Kofi/Punk v Priceless was really fun. Cody has come on a bundle, and Kofi on offense is so easy to watch.
· I don’t like where they are going with Rey and Mike Knox. Rey, not that I’m his biggest fan, has had to try to make average matches with a big guy like Kane for the past three months. And Kane is way more talented than Knox.
· Santino and Beth were a riot on commentary, and then Santino attempting Melanie....I mean Melina’s entrance......fantastic. The only thing that ruined it was King and Cole forcing laughter. I thought it was funny, and I laughed, but those two made it sound terrible.
· Top lines from that:
· Beth: “Of all places, why there?”
· Santino: “Ow, my loins”
· They call Melina’s finisher “The Last Call” – doesn’t James Storm have a move called that?
· I don’t mind the HBK and JBL thing, but I wish it had been teased. Michaels missing a move here and there, losing a match and looking vacant backstage. Someone saying to him “Are you ok man?” would have been preferable. JBL just coming out and saying “you don’t have much money” is a bit out of the blue.
· Shouldn’t people debuting win a couple of matches? Shouldn’t Ziggler beat D-Lo and Goldust before getting squashed by Batista? At least that allows him to show his offense and get a move or two over.
· Having said that, at least they gave him a move or two.
· The IC title tourney isn’t going to gain any credibility while the commentators just talk about Cena, Jericho, Michaels, JBL, Orton and Batista while Morrison is wrestling Finlay. Although the IC title is a Raw title and Morrison v Finlay should be an ECW match.
· Short and forgettable main event, but a decent ending with a cool, visual of Jericho applying the old-school Walls to Cena.
· Plenty of intrigue going into next week with The Slammies, three huge matches (Hardy/Jericho, Hunter/Batista, Edge/Cena) finding out why Priceless and Orton are helping Jericho and what JBL’s offer to HBK is.