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Sunday, 17 May 2009

Judgment Day Preview

Two scenarios:

- The WWE take a look at their last five years off PPV, as well as TNA’s offerings, and decide to see how it would go if they strip down a PPV and simply book a series of matches pitting one man against another with the bare minimum of stipulations.

- The WWE busk it after Wrestlemania, don’t really think very ahead past Backlash at the latest and simply pick fourteen blokes and put them against one another.

To be honest, I think the Judgment Day PPV build up may fall somewhere between the two above scenarios. You may well have your own opinion as to how things came about.

What is remarkable is that the card for tonight does, as pointed out, feature, at this moment, seven singles contests.

With my wrestling viewer’s head on, I like it. I’m very excited, genuinely, by two of the matches, and am also very curious about two more.(I’ll explain more as we go)

However, with my Marketing head on (I worked in Marketing for three years) I’d suggest to you that all things which people buy need to have a USP – a Unique Selling Point. I don’t see what the USP is to most people.

Purists will have you believe that all this storyline stuff is nonsense and what you need to do is simply book wrestling. A balance is needed, though, and an audience which is programmed to understand the traditional WWE booking, I think, is unlikely to invest heavily in a PPV product which has no major reason to buy it.

Look at it this way – is there a unique match to build to? Is there a major match format – Hell in a Cell, for example – involved? Is there a theme (Survivor Series, Royal Rumble)? Must you see a resolution to a feud?

I don’t think you answer any of those questions in the affirmative. I don’t think Randy Orton v Batista is gripping enough to persuade people to shell out loads of money.

I’d like to clarify that I will be buying the PPV tonight and I think that it will be a great show. From a business perspective I’m not sure it’ll work. I hope I’m wrong.

John Morrison v Shelton Benjamin
Hmm. Interesting one. What do we do with Shelton, he’s been around for ages? What shall we do with John Morrison, now that he is on his own? May as well throw them together.

Fine by me. I get the feeling these two could really have some fun and bring the best of each other. I will enjoy sitting back and watching the match, and hope that each man will try to top the other. My concern, as illustrated before, is that really will anyone care? No titles are on the line and there isn’t really a heated rivalry.

I would think the logical thing is for Morrison to win. He is the up-and-comer really, and especially after a face turn should be the one getting a leg up from this win.

Prediction: John Morrison

CM Punk v Umaga
I’ve liked the build to this. Punk waiting to use the briefcase, looking strong against Edge, is really good for his push and character, but here comes Umaga to ruin it for him. Simple – evil heel screws gallant babyface.

One problem – this has to harm one man. The right booking is that Punk slays Umaga and carries on going after the champ. This puts Umaga’s status as unstoppable madman on hold. If Umaga wins he can look strong and imperious, but it dents Punk’s status as deserving of a world title and isn’t the right end to a story.

Prediction – Despite me not liking it, I think they’ll book a Punk wins by DQ finish. This keeps Umaga over as a beats without jobbing out Punk

Jack Swagger v Christian
These two......I was going to say surprised everybody with their great match last time, but that’s not fair. I was surprised with how good it was, but then I was one of the few people on earth to not like Swagger’s match with Cena, which I viewed as dull but most (and many better positioned to comment than I) found it exciting.

Now, the bar is raised. They have already had one good match in Christian prevailed – where do they go now? To me logical booking is that Christian wins, once again winning due to his brain. The explanation, if commentators are on the ball, is then that Swagger and Christian are really evenly matched, it’s just that Captain Charisma has the edge in terms of experience. When booked and explained in this way, Swagger does not look weak, because it is not his fault that he lost – he can’t help being inexperienced.

To me, Swagger can look at four examples of people coming into a company and getting majorly pushed from the off. Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar got fed up. Goldberg fizzled out. Randy Orton is World Champion who has had some ups and downs.

That’s one out of four. And even then Randy has had a rocky time. He is only now TRULY looking the part. Swagger does not need to be (real) World Champion just yet. In fact he does not even need to be Intercontinental champion yet. Don’t push him to loads of titles. Let him wrestle Christian and learn. Let him face Regal and Finlay and others who can put him over and help him progress.

Prediction – I do think they’ll let Christian retain. Part of me thinks that Swagger might get one back, leading to a rubber match down the line, so don’t discount that. I’m sticking with the former Mr Cage, though.

John Cena v Big Show
Sometimes, in the job I do, you have to sit back and accept that something is being booked for a reason. I have no real interest in Big Show (whom I’ve always thought comes across as a good guy, a great entertainer, but a poor wrestler) wrestling Cena (very similar description, but rate him higher as a worker) I’m afraid.

I liked the spot that led to this match, but I’ve not been crazy about the story of Cena being basically a zombie for several weeks. I think Show might actually win this, with the explanation being that Cena is not 100%, and then they can do a rematch when Cena turns the tables.

I’d factor in Miz too. I probably wouldn’t have him cost Cena the match, but do a sneaky little attack before the match, or preferably some sort of attack afterwards.

Prediction – I’m going with Show, although chances are that’s me jumping the gun and they’ll simply have Cena win. I’m not crazy about seeing a major Big Show push, but I don’t like the idea that he was put clean over Undertaker (again) for no reason.

Rey Mysterio v Chris Jericho (IC Title)
I am really looking forward to this. This was one of the two matches I told you that I am really excited about (the other is Edge and Hardy) and I should think should be the highlight of the night.

The main source of intrigue for me is how realistic they can make it. I enjoy watching Rey Mysterio to a point, but the main thing that stops me being crazy about him is that so much of his stuff needs such a massive leap of faith to believe.

Jericho, meanwhile, is the opposite. He talks such sense, is such a believable character, and constructs such a fantastic aura around everything he does. I hope he can weave his magic, and do what I believe only two men – Edge and Kurt Angle, since you ask - have done before and have a stand up classic match with Rey Mysterio.

Shit, I have to pick a winner don’t I?

Prediction – I’m struggling, but I’m going to cop out and go with a BS DQ finish, with Jericho getting fed up of Rey kicking out and hitting him with a belt or something. Jericho can later talk his way out of it by saying the IC title is beneath him and that he really cares about the World belt.

Edge v Jeff Hardy – World Title
So, do you milk Jeff Hardy for all he worth before his (allegedly) inevitable exit? Do you give him the title and hope it persuades him to stay? Or do you use him to put a few people over and send him on his way?

I suppose a few of these don’t necessarily become mutually exclusive, but I figure that they won’t go mad with him if he is leaving – and this is IF he is leaving.

I’d take Edge to win. I think this needs to be a sedentary PPV as far as titles go. There have been a few too many changes of late, although I do believe that belts must change hands with a reasonable regularity these days. I’m more intrigued about how things will go now that Edge and Vickie are on separate shows despite not having a real break up on screen.

Prediction – A cracker if they are allowed to click, but an Edge victory ultimately.

Randy Orton v Batista (WWE title)
So who is turning? All signs point to another slow build with Batista and Triple H, with the presumed reason being Triple H being pissed off at Batista costing him the title. But wouldn’t that mean Trips goes heel? That would be logical.

Nah, I don’t see it. I don’t want to see Batista v Triple H with the Game as heel again. Make it fresh, and make Batista the nasty heel with the chip on his shoulder.

If, and it seems likely, Triple H and Batista pair off, then it makes no sense to have this for a title if the rivalry is so strong. Therefore, Orton needs to retain. You could even let MVP have a one-time shot at the next PPV before thrusting Cena forward again.

Prediction – It has to be Orton to retain. Whether with help by his cohorts or Batista losing his rag, the master of the RKO needs to keep the belt.

Enjoy the PPV – live Blog with me during the show will be up as per usual.

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