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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.

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