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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Raw Thoughts - June 29

· Did Vince just say 15 person trade between the brands? And that’s it? No speculation, no explanation?
· And we are keeping the guest host thing? Hmm, ok.
· Here is the thing, though, if Trump instituted these things and Vince doesn’t like them, why can’t he just overturn them?
· Not sure I like the idea of ‘guest hosts’ having GM powers. Why would Batista book a tournament? What investment would he have in that? Why would Vince hand over power like that? It’s a terrible idea.
· Nice match, that, between MVP and Triple H. I thought MVP did a good job of hanging with the Game and looked like a potent force when on top. Understandably Triple H won, but it made sense and was a better match than I expected.
· The usual quality from Jericho, using his promo to immediately address the fact that he said he wouldn’t be back on Raw. No-one does continuity better than Chris Jericho.
· Haha, King said “Edge and Christian” by mistake.
· Speaking of Captain Charisma, you’d like to think he’d be a great fit for the small trade, and I’d take him out of ECW and place him in the IC title picture on Smackdown.
· Crowd, really REALLY into the Colons chasing the belts.
· I don’t like them throwing Cena v Miz out again. It just sends the message to those who pay their PPV money that they are idiots, because you’ll soon see the same show for free.
· Great call by King, comparing Miz to an early John Cena, being brash and talking smack to others.
· I would have liked to have seen a couple of attempts at a Miz nearfall to try to tease the audience, but generally that was a far better match than the evening previously. They gave Miz time to attack, to get some offence in and to not show the weakness which has held him back. Cena, for his part, sold well, and it seemed to me like this went a little longer than at The Bash?
· So it’s Triple H v Cena next week – but didn’t King say earlier that Triple H had to wrestle again that night? Either they changed it on the fly or (more likely) the lines of communication from writer to commentator was not clear.
· Why, again, would Batista book a tournament where the pay off is next week, outside his jurisdiction?
· A kind of ‘just there’ divas match, with the logical conclusion of Mickie winning. At least there is a reasonable angle between Maryse and Mickie, and Mickie has gained plenty of momentum of late.
· Not really sure what the purpose of the double count-out between Kofi and Show was. Looking forward to the gauntlet match. I love “who is it” angles.
· Evan Bourne on Raw? Cool. I’d have preferred him on Smackdown, but at least he is off ECW.
· Swagger to Raw. That’s really interesting. They are really high on this kid, so I’d expect him to come in to a good spot. Maybe with MVP? Or maybe taking on Kofi for the US Title.
· I love that. Swagger gets counted out, serious heat drawn there. A little tease of an alliance with Orton. I like it when strange things happen like that. Remember when Mike Knox, when asked why he attacked Rey Mysterio, simply said “I don’t know”. The guy that doesn’t know or doesn’t say why he does things is a far more scary dude than one who screams “I hate you”
· Haha, now Henry did it as well, but then came back in? Is that a Henry babyface turn?
· I like that booking. I’m not a Henry fan, and I don’t want to see him pushed to the moon, but it doesn’t hurt Orton to get beat. Flair used to lose all the time when he was champion in his prime, and it simply built up his challenger. I thought Henry played his role very well, and has successfully turned and got over within the space of five minutes. It doesn’t hurt Orton because he was already hurt and had had a match.

The Bash review

· Just starting my recording of The Bash. No timechecks, because it seems redundant. However, I will tell you at this point that I have one piece of spoiler knowledge. Someone I know was watching it, I asked what they had got up to, and they said the third Hunter v Orton fall. No no-one is taking two straight then?
· Those rules for the scramble were up and gone mighty quickly. That seemed very much to me that the rules have changed. I don’t remember their being three minute intervals last time.
· Did striker say “If that’s a word”? Shouldn’t he know, he’s the frickin’ teacher. (“Frickin’” that a word?)
· “It took Tommy nearly two decades to become ECW champion” says Josh. Erm, no, I’m pretty sure Dreamer won the ECW title towards the end of the ECW proper. It may have been for one night, but he was champ.
· Oh, where to start? Maybe with the fact that Dreamer was (interim) champ made still covered someone? How about the dead crowd? Perhaps that the ending held very little excitement? Maybe even the graphic that proclaimed that he was “New” champion, even though he retained.
· I just didn’t enjoy that match. It had no flow, the three minute gaps were not enough to allow the entering superstars to get going, and the action was not gripping enough. Average at best. Although I said that Dreamer would win with a late fall. One to me.
· Grisham – Rey has worn a mask ever since he started wrestling. Erm, wrong, because he was unmasked for a while in WCW, but in fairness Todd will have been told that, probably not his fault.
· Jericho and Rey have to go on SECOND?? Come on......
· JR just said Jericho is a future hall of the eyes of many. First time I think I have heard him say that.
· You know Rey Rey had a week off.....was that for his new ink?
· My goodness me that was a good match. These guys continually pull out great match after great match. There were so many innovative spots, reversals, counters and pin attempts, it was truly a pleasure to watch. Once you have those ingredients, all you need is a decent ending to make it feel right, and they had one. Rey won, and it was the right call, although I would have loved to see what they’d do with an unmasked Mysterio. This didn’t really hurt Jericho, because he wasn’t going for the win at that point, but the mask. Good work.
· My run goes on. I felt that Ziggler winning with some assistance was by far and away the most likely scenario. I may not have been definite in saying Kane, but it had to be the most sensible way out. Mind you, it better not be Kane v Khali. Ouch, that’ll be painful.
· Vince and Long slot seemed a little redundant, but interesting that Vince namechecked Bischoff and Heyman.
· Were the crowd chanting ‘We want Christian”?
· There is a slight problem when a sudden tag team like Edge and Jericho emerge, because you know they’ll win. You can’t book them in that match and have them get beat. The match was far from awesome, but it was ok, and it is good to see something a little different.
· I don’t care for Orton belittling the tag team titles, but I loved the DiBiase confrontation. What we’ve got here, is a terrific opportunity to slowly burn that Orton and DiBiase have heat with each other, and spin a huge babyfacfe turn for Teddy, in a similar sort of manner, in a way, to when Batista went babyface after heat with Triple H.
· The women’s division is completely in disarray, and McCool’s defeat of Melina feels largely unimportant.
· Some will moan, but I think it is correct to have the Three Stages of Hell last.
· My observation from that Hardy v Punk match – Hardy looked so frighteningly like Raven at the end of that match it was terrifying.
· Odd, odd, finish to Punk v Hardy. The post match, though, was tremendous, and is a perfect setup for a forthcoming contest.
· If Punk is to go heel, it is exactly the right feud for him to be in. Jeff might well be the most unequivocally over babyface in the company, what with Hunter and Cena having certain detractors and Taker and HBK being absent. Anything he doesn’t is fine according to the people, so Punk becomes the villain.
· The match itself, I thought, was good but not great. I still am not sure that Jeff Hardy, without partners or gimmicks, can have a stand up great one on one contest with anyone. I mean GREAT. Not good, not really good, but GREAT, on the level that Jericho and Mysterio have had several times.
· I don’t think that Cena and Miz match really achieved anything. Does not make Cena look any better? No, because he didn’t beat anybody he wasn’t expected to. He is so much further up the pecking order than his opponent for the night that he gets no rub from picking up a win. Miz, meanwhile, won’t be completely destroyed, but any attempts to raise his level will be met with resistance, because he was made to look second rate to Cena. He wasn’t really given anytihgn but a brief flurry, and to me that is a shame. Cena wouldn’t have looked weak letting Miz take his part in a 50/50 match, because the case could have been made that he took him a bit lightly, and no one realised how good Miz was. Instead, it was one-sided, not entertaining, and helped no one at all.
· Yes! Triple H with the chair. That is so, so smart! I was a bit disappointed that the FCA portion of the match didn’t last longer, but nice to see some proper logic applied.
· I hope the first thing on Raw is Triple H complaining about Vince. My father in law is an idiot, who booked me in a match where I was clearly at a disadvantage because my opponent’s two buddies would come and help.
· That was pretty good, for what it was, I guess. A DX chop at the end – HBK to come back? Orton/Legacy v Hunter/Shawn? I would think there would be a chance there except for the fact that it’s Night of Champions next.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

The Bash Preview

I’ll start with the bad news, which is that I am unable to provide the usual Live Blog this evening/morning for the PPV. I have a very early start on Monday, and cannot justify putting that off to watch yet another PPV, especially one which does not exactly have me salivating.

Instead, I’ll endeavour to watch the show during Monday, and will post thoughts upon in a similar manner to weekly Raw reviews.

To the matter of the show itself, here are my thoughts on each match.

Dolph Ziggler v Great Khali
Interesting (well, slightly interesting) build up to this contest, in that it has at least a little logic behind it, and Ziggler’s character, which I think has a lot of potential if they get over that “Hi, I’m Dolph Zigger” catchphrase and stop making him a sum of the parts of Kennedy and DDP’s worst bits.

The idea is that Ziggler got DQed against the big fella, but has since beaten him twice, tricking the ref into thinking Khali had illegally attacked him, and sneaking a count out.

This match, therefore, is no count out and no DQ. I’m going to go out a limb here – a bold thing to do with the first prediction – but I’ll say that Ziggler will tonight gain an ally or two. I think that we are sorely missing stables in wrestling these days (especially in WWE) and an midcard allianace of a few guys on Smackdown could be beneficial, definitely to Ziggler, and a couple of others.

I’m envisioning that Ziggler gets aided by a couple of wrestlers – I’m thinking perhaps a Ricky Ortiz or a Charlie Haas or maybe a Mike Knox might be possible contenders. Or even some new blood we are yet to see.

Basically, I see little point in Khali just squashing Ziggler. Khali, if he had any purpose ever, is no longer in the position he used to be, but will always get a reaction of sorts because of his size. So, if you want to show that world that Ziggler is worth something, then beating Khali is a place to start. Or, at least, not losing to him.

Unified Tag Team Titles – Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase v Carlito and Primo
I think we may have a switch coming here. It strikes me that WWE have invested heavily in Legacy, and since the Colons won’t be cheating to win, Cody and Ted will be hurt if they lose cleanly.

WWE like to have a stable with belts, and I am not saying necessarily that Orton will win, but I’m saying that I see more likelihood of the title switching that remaining. The annoying this is that the tag team scene is extremely under-populated, so whomever wins, there is no real alternative forthcoming.

At this point, I’d like to flag up the fact that so far we’ve talked about two matches, and both of which have been shown on free TV is the last month.

Melina v Michelle McCool – Women’s title
Hmm. Not sure here, really. I definitely have very little interest. I think Melina is a much better heel than she is a babyface, and I’d love her to be allowed to explore the part of character that she did some time ago, when she is aligned to a male wrestler and allowed to be a bitch.

Michelle I have little time for at all. Her acting is so stiff and wooden that I can’t buy into her being horrible or lovely, depending on whether she is supposed to be babyface and heel. Her wrestling has improved, but she wouldn’t be on my (short) list of talented female workers on the roster.

I’m not really fussed about who wins, to tell you the truth. I’d prefer Melina, I guess, because I think a lot more of her than I do Michelle, but I am troubled by the fact that Smackdown womens wrestling seems to be about keeping Gail Kim down as much as anything. Gail is by far the most talented girl on the Blue brand, and maybe the whole company, but is made no fuss of.

I’ll go for Melina, but mainly because I can envisage other title changes elsewhere.

John Cena v The Miz
I’ve written thoughts about this match previously, so I won’t go into too much detail. I’m quite looking forward to this, should be a lot of fun. I’d go down the route of having Miz get really angry about not being taken seriously and have the commentators put over the fact that he stepped up his game and wrestled the match of his life.

Cena will, and ought to, win, but they need to let Miz have a fair shake, and not simply bury him for a cheap laugh or similar.

ECW Scramble match - Tommy Dreamer, Christian, Finlay, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry
This has the potential to go one way or another. I’m a little disappointed that there is no Evan Bourne, as this is a perfect showcase for an up and coming talent to have some fun and get noticed, without threatening the title. Although, maybe its a poisoned chalice, because I thought Brian Kendrick put it a hell of a performance in one of these scrambles when there were three at a Pay Per View, and he has floundered since.

I think this is likely a way of keeping the title on Tommy for a little while longer. You don’t want Dreamer beating the top stars in ECW for too long, so put a load in with him, have him get beaten up for fifteen minutes and then drape an arm over an ‘interim champion’ and get a late pinfall.

Chris Jericho v Rey Mysterio – Mask v Title
Really looking forward to this. They’ve produced match after quality match, this duo, and while I often remark about the fact that I’m not the world biggest Rey Mysterio fan, I will say that the guy is very entertaining most of the time, but only (to me) when he is matched up with someone of a more similar size. Not necessarily style (I’d say, in fact Jericho style is most unlike Rey’s) but the poor bloke has had to take on Kane and Big Show and Mike Knox and other monsters, when it should be plain that when he wrestles Edge, or Jericho, on in the past Eddie or Kurt Angle they bring the house down.

I would think that Mysterio ought to be favourite to win. This is likely to be the end of this programme, because they’ve got three PPVs as well as a high-profile TV match. The stakes are pretty high, although I don’t feel they did the optimum job of bigging up how important Rey’s mask is. The fact that this will probably spell the end of the feud, as well as the slim chance that Rey will lose his mask, gives him the edge.


Is it possible that the rumours that Mysterio is leaving are true? WCW made a huge mistake years ago getting rid of Rey’s mask whilst not realising he looked twelve and failing to market the mask for kids. Christ, I was at Wrestlemania with a chap working for Sky who had never watched wrestling before, who had little interest in the matches really, but nearly bought a Rey Mysterio mask. Not for his son or anything.

Anyway, I digress, what I’m saying is WWE surely see the benefits of having Rey as a babyface who can shift merch. But if he is out the door, and doesn’t fancy coming back, they may find a double benefit in making him lose the thing he is most identified with.

One, it is an angle they haven’t done, and an angle that the majority of fans won’t have seen, because they might not have been born when WCW tried/botched it. Two, if Rey fancied doing the neat little trick that others have done, and wondering down south to see the lovely Ms Carter and Double J, then he would possibly be slightly less valuable. And don’t say it would never happen, because few saw Kurt Angle popping up down there.

The above is possible, but I don’t think is likely. I think Jericho dropping the strap is far more likely than Mysterio losing his mask.

Three Stages of Hell – Triple H v Randy Orton
Some have suggested this will be the main event, but I disagree. The site promotes Jeff Hardy v CM Punk ahead of this, and that is normally something to go by.

I know one thing – the Smackdown main event is the one I want to see more than any other. However, I have a really strange compulsion about this match. I desperately, desperately want it to be a success.

Triple H is not as good as he used to be. I think it is mainly because (in my opinion) he is a way better heel than a babyface. But he used to be awesome, so even a depreciation in quality makes him pretty good. People complain about him and say he is dull, but it is not because he is bad, but because he is over-exposed.

I think Orton is generally pretty good. I think that sometimes (and I see the logic) he goes for the boos by slowing down and being dull to piss people off. You can do that once in a while, but I feel he goes there too often.

Together, Orton and Triple H should weave magic. I feel both are natural heels and that is the main reason they don’t click, but the matches they have had thus far haven’t really hit any big psychological highs. I don’t feel they have told the right story at the right time. Their Mania match started with pedigrees and RKOs, and although it was brave to start with a subversion of the form, there is a reason big moves are called ‘finishers’.

I want to see them do it. There are so many people around the world who have never laced a wrestling boot and say Hunter and Randy are terrible. They are not – they are two of the best in the business, but they just haven’t nailed it in this run. It is worth remembering that then they were forced to have two matches in same night last they had a pair of belters.

The stips here, though, may not help them. I can’t for the life of me see this going two straight falls, so one assumes the WWE title will be decided in a stretcher match, which is disappointing, because it’s rubbish. They’ll have to fight that. The opening gambit is an ordinary match, which works nicely because they’ll pace themselves before getting into a NHB fight.

Here’s the next question – whoever wins, who is their number contender? Cena, presumably, and that’s a depression thought too, because as much as we’ve seen Orton v Trips, we’ve seen Orton v Cena and Triple H v Cena plenty of times.

HBK anyone?

Oh, a winner? I’ll go with Randy. I think that the stretcher stip is there so that he can win but win sneakily, perhaps with Legacy help or by virtue of a Triple H mistake. The Game wouldn’t want to lose in a straight up match, so Randy will win via his sneakiness and cunning.

World Heavyweight Title – CM Punk v Jeff Hardy
Some really nice elements to look into here. One, is that Edge isn’t in it. That doesn’t mean I’m glad; I think Edge is awesome. What I mean is he is an unknown quantity tonight, and may be part of the contest.

Secondly, CM Punk’s character development has been intriguing of late, so it will be fun to watch how he plays it here. They seem to be hinting at a heel turn, but the timing needs to be right. Will they do it tonight? Probably not. Will he win? I think so.

I don’t see that the timing is right for the belt to go to Hardy, particularly if the rumours of his scarpering again have any foundation. These two ought to have a hell of a match, though. To be honest, I wouldn’t put them on last, because if Hunter and Orton have a barnburner with gimmicks and violence, Hardy and Punk have to follow it with a standard wrestling match.

That isn’t to say I think it will be worse. I think it will be awesome. These two can really go, as long as they allowed. If the shackles are off here it could be very special. I just have this nagging suspicion there will be a controversial finish. I think Edge is bound to insert himself, and either cost one man the title or just end it in a DQ.

Ultimately, I think Punk keeps the belt. Whether he does so after a classic, we’ll see. Whether he does so via DQ also remains in question.

There you have it – my thoughts on tonight. Once again, sorry I can’t be with you live, but have fun, and I’ll report back when I can.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Does Raw need a miracle? No, I'll tell you what they need......

Since Vince McMahon put down the headset and embraced his evil boss persona, some twelve years ago, wrestling has hung an albatross around it’s own neck.

Sure, the original Mr McMahon was a tremendous character, one who shattered the illusion of pastel-wearing, coiffed announcer who bought one-too-many nearfalls and laughed too heartily at the antics of Doink. However, since then, the wrestling industry has become obsessed with the Authority Figure – call them General Manager, Commissioner, CEO or whatever; they have been ubiquitous in wrestling shows for over a decade.

The set up for WWE’s three shows dictates that each show has a General Manager. Prersumably they don’t consider the roles overly important, especially on ECW, where Taryn Terrell’s portrayal of ‘Tiffany’ isn’t the most convincing. Would a board of directors of a multi-multi-multi-million dollar corporation hire a 23-year-old model? Unlikely.

Teddy Long actually does a decent job on Smackdown. He pops up where he needs to, books a match here and there, and generally has an air of genuine authority and common sense.

Raw will likely, to fit the model, soon have a new GM. Donald Trump indicated that he would do away with GMs and instead have celebrity hosts, but he soon got whisked out of the door, so the position is open again.

What Raw needs, and I thought it would come in the shape of Trump, is a figurehead who can take the show by the scruff of the neck, and even if it is simply kayfabe, actually offer a sense that they are in control and dictating their own methods and ideas.

It’s only really been done by a couple of individuals. The original Commissioner Foley deal, which Mick has readily admitted was basically just a slight extension of his real character, was terrific. Entertaining, but acting with a firm hand, he essentially set the ball rolling on the authority figure in its current guise.

Then there was Steven William Regal, on his second run in WWE after the disastrous “real man’s man” gimmick, whose pompous Englishman act coupled with genuinely brilliant comic timing was enterting for the duration of his first tenure.

(I particularly liked his greeting of Tajiri for the first time. “Stop bowing like that. We don’t have racial stereotypes in the WWE. Now run along and get me some tea and crumpets.”)

However, a man who did stamp his authority on Raw, made it feel like his show, but in the meantime created a problem in that a formula became stale, was Eric Bischoff. Many felt Vince washed a lot of money down the drain when he welcomed Uncle Eric with a big hug rather than eyeing him with suspicion. True or not, Bischoff did as good a job as one could expect as GM, but there were two problems.

One was that the heel GM was getting so hackneyed and cliché. Sure, Vince screwing Austin created a ton of money, but Bischoff siding against babyfaces and acting like a jerk just grated after a while. When Vince had his run of acting ‘in the interests of fairness’ he did exactly what he promised – and became a bigger heel for it, because fans hated him for being smug. It was cleverer, more subtle heat, than the obvious holding back of the fans favourite which has been done so often you can see it coming a mile off.

The other problem in Bischoff’s near four-year run was the shows themselves flat-out sucked for most of it. The disastrous run of Goldberg, the ill-advised push of Scott Steiner, the misuse of Steve Austin and various other factors meant that 2002-2005 was hardly a high point in WWE history, even their revisionist version.

Since Bischoff was unceremoniously packed off in a garbage truck (Vince has a loooooong memory) the GM position on Raw has been largely moot. Sometimes Raw is run by members of the McMahon family, sometimes Jonathan Coachman appeared to be in charge. There was another attempt to install Regal as the figurehead until got busted for a lack of Wellness, and of course there as Sir Michael of Adamle, that great orator and wrestling doyen.

Vickie Guerrero was given a brief run, recently, before deciding to call it a day and being treated with the kind of respect that made Bischoff’s farewell ride in a refuse lorry seem like a ride in a gold sedan chair. Now the position is vacant once more, and sorely needs to be filled by someone who has been there, seen it and done it in the ring. It needs to be filled by a fine talker, who can capture the attention of wrestlers and fans alike, and be convincing in an authoritative role. It needs to be filled by someone who would logically want the job, and be trusted to do the job.

Raw needs a wrestling God. It needs John Bradshaw Layfield.

The first item that one should instantly throw up as a roadblock to this idea is that he has his own successful business empire outside of wrestling. An enterprise which he may well be loathe to give up, especially since he only decided to walk away from wrestling two months ago.

That being said, he is an ideal candidate to step into the GM shoes. To follow a path which WWE rarely tread – that of logic – there is plenty to back up his appointment. When brought in his very genuine position as a backer for OVW could be cited, as well as his on-screen association and even friendship with one Vincent Kennedy McMahon. I think in the kayfabe wrestling world, as well as the real one, VKM could readily endorse JBL

Indeed, when McMahon suddenly announced that he had sold Raw for a substantial amount of money, Layfield was the first name whose name danced around the synapses of my mind. I hadn’t genuinely considered Donald Trump to be a viable contender.

The setup would be perfect. Vince would come to the ring, and say that he was perhaps a little hasty paying so much to buy back Monday Night Raw. But he had a plan, and he had a cohort in his buyback scheme. After realising that Trump had no idea how to manage a Wrestling Empire, he turned to a man with sufficient money, morals and with whom he shared an outlook on the world. Cue the man who first turned up in WWE with Uncle Zebekiah (Dutch Mantell) and was called Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw.

The synergy would be perfect. JBL as a character is strong enough to dominate Raw where he needs to. He can back up decisions with genuine examples of experience and success. Exactly what credentials were we supposed to believe that Mike Adamle or Vickie Guerrero had? Bradshaw can list both business success and wrestling titles – a combination which ought to be the perfect blend for a General Manage of a Wrestling show.

Layfield is one of wrestling’s great talkers. His ability with a microphone surpassed, frankly, any skill he may have had with his wrestling boots on. It is a skill few are able to master, and he has it in abundance. But it is still an unappreciated talent. Yes, he can muster a promo at will to generate heat in front of a crowd should a situation necessitate it, but his stint as a colour commentator on Smackdown proved his intelligence and ability to be fair at crucial times. He did not ‘overheel’ his role alongside Michael Cole. Yes he promoted nefarious tactics that he may once have used, but he also praised high-quality wrestlers whose colours happened to be nailed to the babyface mast.

Whether as co-owner, General Manager, or whatever the title, JBL is THE man WWE need to head up their Monday night show. The flagship broadcast no longer has an identity, and it is now miles behind Smackdown in terms of Wrestling action. If ‘sports-entertainment’ is their remit, and getting brand recognition together a goal, then JBL is their man.

The WWE don’t need a miracle – they need a wrestling God.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Raw Thoughts June 22

· Candice is still on the “Yes Sir we promised you a great main event.....” montage. Expect she’ll be gone soon.
· Speaking of title sequences, I liked the touch of having Trump on the opening titles. Trump Raw microphone as well.
· Trump says about seven sentences, and is already better than Adamle.
· “Vince is a taker and I’m a giver.” Who wrote that line? Patterson?
· I couldn’t decide if I like that Cena/Miz promo or not. The crowd didn’t really buy it. I liked the Miz character fronting up when being called a coward. I quite liked the end too, with a cheap shot with little effect, rather than a brawl.
· I didn’t like the crowd reaction. It’s almost as though a lot of the crowd agrees with Miz, so he can’t really get the heat he deserves.
· What they need to do at The Bash is have Cena win, but only just. They can have an old fashioned Ric Flair-style match by having Cena go over but give loads to Miz, and have him nearly pull it out. I don’t mean Cena kicks out of everything and is superman. I mean Miz has most of the offence and creates many near-falls, and Cena shows on his face that he is relieved to win at the end. The following night Cena would say “You did well, you have my respect.” He will shake Miz’s hand, who will pearl harbour him.
· That Mr McMahon skit was so, so lame. Why was there a camera there? Why is Vince travelling with a driver and a cameraman?
· Isn’t it funny? When the talent all went to the outside I was expecting an advert. Funny how you can get trained to expect certain things. Nice, I might add, to have the uninterrupted match and not have to go to commercial.
· There was a very (VERY) brief moment where Punk shaped to hit Hardy with the belt but didn’t. Nice little heel flashes like that will keep the Punk character interesting.
· So fed up of Santina, so happy she’s gone. Mind you, the McDonalds line was pretty funny. Although they spent twenty minutes talking about KFC’s new grilled line, and then mentioned McDonalds.
· Did you notice how Donald kept looking at the camera, following up my point from earlier?
· Nice little touch with Santino appearing. That was actually a neat little segment.
· I really love the irony of a commercial free Raw shilling KFC the whole time.
· I’ll have to say it again – that was actually pretty funny. I didn’t care for the Goldust/Hornswoggle bit, but the office being the toilet cubicle and Festus coming out of it was humourous.
· Doesn’t showing Orton kicking Vince and crowing about beating the McMahon family seem a little bit odd with Vince playing a stupid heel tonight?
· Two things really wrong with the title match, in my opinion.
· One was the actual match type. I just can’t get on with a Last Man Standing match. If they want to have an arena wide brawl, I’d much sooner they did it in a Falls Count Anywhere contest. LMS leaves so many bits of the match empty, as all people do is flail about trying to stand up. FCA means pinfall opportunities which are far more exciting.
· Two was the ending. A draw? That isn’t going to work for pulling in the people. WWE get really nervous about falling viewership, so throw out major matches. The trouble is, they are too terrified to have someone beaten, so it’s a draw. Who is going to want to tune back again? “Well, they had an ok match, but the finish was boring” I’m guessing some sort of rematch on Sunday.
· No GM. I like that. Trump should be imposing a different style. I’d be tempted to go the whole hog. Change the colours, the music, the stage, the lot. (probably can’t afford to, I guess)
· I don’t really understand the business dynamic between Trump and McMahon. If Vince has sold Raw, why would Trump bankrupt him by giving stuff away free? Doesn’t Vince still own Smackdown and ECW? And Superstars?
· Hang on, what happened? Trump sold back? Oh man, this show is accomplishing the very opposite of everything it is setting out to do. So Trump is out of here, and the excitement we felt about a new Raw is gone already. Don’t they realise that fans have an investment in wrestlers hey like winning matches, they have no emotional tie in Donald Trump making a few million dollars.
· Oh shit, and if it couldn’t get worse – Cena v Big Show AGAIN!
· Triple H v Orton, two out of three falls. Good concept, if they must wrestle again, but to make the third fall a stretcher match is a terrible idea.
· “Three stages of hell” as they call it, hasn’t happened for six and a half years, as Cole says. Presumably, I haven’t checked yet, that is Triple H v Stone Cold which I think was straight, wrestling then no holds barred, then cage. I may be wrong.
· I am starting to like what they are doing with Mickie and Maryse. It’s not the most in depth storyline, but they at least doing something a little different to keep a bit of interest in the feud.
· I can’t really give you very much by way of analysis on another slow, plodding Cena v Big Show match, but I will offer you my opinion, which I have said before, about the STF mini-angle, which I really like. It’s nice to offer a little added edge to a series of matches, and although thinking of another submission hold or elbowing someone in the back might have happened earlier, it was something interesting to follow.
· I’ll give you the parking lot attack. Might as well do something a little extra, I guess.
· Overall, that’s a short-term good show and a long term potential nightmare. For two hours, commercial free, I was interested, looking forward to seeing what would happen next. I didn’t know what Trump would do. I didn’t know what the title match outcome would be. They were the two themes of the show, and they had me. However, one resulted in a match we’ve seen before which was ok at best and had a nothing finish, and the other let down a potentially really exciting and fun concept and shot it down after one week. Eight days ago Trump was nothing to do with Raw, and it seems it is that way again. I am a wrestling fan, a fan of WWE, and wanted to see exciting television. I liked the idea of Trump doing different things, the celebrity host sounded like fun, and I think the guy can actually cut a promo. However, it turns out it is just a one week publicity hit.
· To those that are thinking about buying the Pay Per View, you need to base your decision on how much you want to see Punk v Hardy and Jericho v Mysterio, because there is no point in buying it for Hunter v orton – you’ve just seen it. The match tonight was alright – but it wasn’t great because we’ve seen it ad nauseum. I don’t see how Sunday can be any better.
· I think a lot of people would have watched Raw and been very disappointed. That could be a very bad move.
· Back to speculation for GM again – I’m going JBL. It makes sense. I just hope he’d do it.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Raw Thoughts - June 14

· Really liked the start to Raw. Most people would be tuning in for the title matches, so give them a piece of info about a new GM being named, and then King says “Vince is here for something else.” You’ve essentially got five things – the three titles, GM and Vince – to look forward to.
· Huh? Jericho v Mysterio? So why the hell wasn’t this promoted? Surely at least a few people would be extra persuaded to tune in for the extra hour, especially if they know that calibre of match is at the top of the show.
· Terrific match again, though. I could watch Jericho and Mysterio wrestle every week. Poetry in motion. I love the logical endings too. Jericho gets the better of a relatively even contest by pulling the mask, distracting Rey, and then hitting his Codebreaker. There is still mileage in that one.
· Selling Monday Night Raw? OK, that’s quite the big deal to be throwing into the middle of a show. I could throw out a few guesses, but it do little good since I’m reviewing a taped show, and you’ll simply accuse me of writing the name in later.
· Oh, sod it, lets put out everything it can be. The obvious one is Flair, but where would he get the money from., no. Bischoff? That could happen, but do we really want him to have Raw again, after he was GM for like four years?
· Who else......Ted DiBiase Snr? He has a lot of money, at least in his gimmick, so that would make sense. Plus, if he came in as a babyface, there could be great antagonism between him and Legacy.
· I like the thought of JBL. He is a man we know of as having a lot of money. He is a businessman. He has close links to Vince. He has been gone for a while and would make a fantastic authority figure. I’d suggest that he wouldn’t want to work for someone, so he’d buy Vince out.
· Did Striker take a shot at Obama? So does Joey Styles feed the ECW guys through their headphones?
· What a great sign. Guys, if you are going to spell out P-E-E-P-S in five separate signs, make sure the fourth guy holds up that second ‘P’......
· That clock is absolutely pathetic. It’s one thing to do it with 45 minutes until the WWE title match, but to put up a ten minute clock after the ECW Title has only just started is absurd. How disrespectful to a) focus on another match, but b) to explain that they will only get ten minutes to have their contest.
· Crowd are very quiet, by the way.
· I liked the finish there. If they had to rush it – and to be fair, a long match isn’t Dreamer’s friend – then Christian getting injured and a small package was practical.
· So, Orton wins, and we are back to how it was. This really has been an odd couple of weeks. If they knew Batista was injured (and they must have done) why put the belt on him and mess things about. It might have had a short term angle made up and a little bit of intrigue, but in the long term it hurts the title, because the champ is now a guy who lost clean eight days ago.
· Donald Trump? Really? I don’t think any of us could have predicted that. I still like my JBL prediction. Wouldn’t that have been great?
· Hard to get excited about the Trump thing, because we haven’t really an investment in his character, really. I would think he’d appoint a GM soon enough, and then pop up from time to time, maybe do a little cross promotion here and there.
· Did Punk say to Matt that he had never been World champion? Is that a definitive example of WWE admitting that the ECW title is not at that level?
· “You’ll notice how Punk was trying to hook both of Edge’s legs.” As it happens I did see that, and that is why JR is the best announcer in the world, because he spots things like that. I assume that it is also why the boys love him, because they can do something clever and logical and JR will call it, not just let it be missed.
· I didn’t really think that triple threat got going, but I think it was the fault of the schedulers. I felt that the advertisements came at the wrong point, and hurt the flow of the match.
· The finish makes sense. I really hope that whomever wins between Punk and Hardy at The Bash (terrible name, by the way) they have a 25 minute give and take match which helps both guys. I liked the ending here with Punk winning, and they have given him a couple of clean wins of late, but I’d really like to see him have several PPV main events where he is treated with the utmost respect. He deserves it.
· Hmmm, “more better” from DiBiase and then Cody pauses before saying “Great American Bash”
· That’s where I hate just throwing a team out there for no reason. The Raw audience first glimpse of “The Hart Dynasty” is that they got their ass handed to them in about three minutes by the Colons, and the commentary never even bothered with the match in the ring. You may as well hire in two jobbers and let them get killed, because it does nothing for TJ and Harry.
· Why does MVP have a Manchester United shirt on?
· Big Show in Battle Royal is such a boring feature, but I really liked the spot of pulling Matt back in then throwing him out again.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Raw Thoughts - pretty quick this week!

· I guess it’s one of pitfalls of reading the wrestling news sites that I basically knew that the opening segment would feature a beatdown on Batista.
· That said, it was well done, and the visual of Batista’s arm snapping back looked effective.
· Good work as usual from Michael Cole (note saracasm) calling the chair shot to the spine before quickly switching to saying “arm”. Idiot.
· Aside, that is, from the usual question marks – why did no referees or officials rush the ring to stop the beating. These segment always used to look more effective when the heels were evading a bunch of refs and agents.
· And is Batista so friendless that no-one – NO-ONE – would come and help him? Didn’t Cena come and help the guy a couple of weeks ago. Just the smallest thing, him arriving late and hearing what happened, would make the world of difference. He’d be a more sympathetic babyface, establish him as Batista’s friend and ally and make WWE look less stupid for not acknowledging anything.
· “The last thing you need is a Jamaican as United States champion” Don’t worry Willy, he’s Ghanaian.
· Kofi will never get over winning three minute matches. This is why no-name jobbers used to be used. It gave the talent a chance to shine and hurt no-one. This simply harms Regal that little bit more, and gives Kofi nothing.
· Right now, the Divas are just there. They (and this is not their fault, for the most part) offer nothing to the TV show. There is absolutely no originality to a storyline, simply “Mickie wants the title, Maryse doesn’t like her.” That isn’t an angle, it’s nothing.
· I really like the Miz/Maryse chemistry.
· Santino walking down the aisle and giving the “oh shucks” arm wave to a fan is funnier than anything SantinA has done for weeks. The guy is walking comedy.
· Oh, but he’s tagging with Festus and Goldust. This really isn’t the wrestling show is it?
· Thinking back, Vickie’s backing of Orton is plain odd. They haven’t completely got on, and since Vince, or Shane, or Steph, is her boss, wouldn’t she want to be fair so as not to piss them off?
· Miz has “Miz 6 Cena 0” on his sleeves, Nice touch. Why did Cena take so long to emerge? Just felt really odd. I felt sure we’d cut backstage to see that Cena had been taken out.
· That went from severely boring to very intriguing. I was lamenting Big Show STILL not letting it drop that Cena is better than him, when his attack was cut short by Miz smashing him with a chair. It lacked clarity and didn’t make too much sense, but I’ll always give them a week to explain it. I like the idea that it was a segment that was interesting to watch and offers something to look forward to.
· I don’t care who she is, but all this Pig talk, she-beast and “looks like Edge’s mother” (she’s five years older) is downright insulting. It’s too far, character or no character.
· That was a muddled segment, with Edge officially admitting he used Vickie and ditching her. His actions were horrible, demeaning and spiteful. But he got cheered, since she is so hated.
· That was a killer John Cena promo. Put his Show feud in perspective and his words for The Miz were nicely pitched. He admitted a small amount of respect but then basically that he hates him. It felt a big deal. Great stuff from Cena. That kind of promo makes it even more annoying when he does his “throw up in the mouth, poopies and peepees” promos.
· Disappointing tag match with Legacy and Colons. Wouldn’t make me want to pay to see a title match, for example.
· Fair enough ending to the show. Had to bring Trips back at this point. Not overjoyed at prospect of seeing Triple H and Orton one on one AGAIN, mind you. Loved hearing the crowd chant “Pedigree” – never heard that before.
· So did Batista miss the count then?
· Good reasons to keep watching. Smackdown has the Punk/Edge/Jeff fallout as well as Jericho/Mysterio awesomeness. Next week’s Raw is a three-hour special (although they often suck) with resolutions of Title and GM situations

Monday, 8 June 2009

Extreme Rules live blog

Pyro follows the usual quality promo to hype the night. Following this is a Fatal Fourway, apparantly.

Kofi out first, followed by Regal. Sounded like a decent cheer for Matt next. Might be just his music, though. Big pop for MVP. New Orleans loves Montel.

Uh-oh. Not long into the match and a major collision between MVP and Kofi. If it was deliberate, it looked like shit.

Oh my, a tower of doom spot now goes awry. They have gone at a strong pace througout. Need to slow it down a little.

Kofi retains, so its one to me for predictions, but the match just seemed off the pace. The finisher didn't hit right, and the whole match just felt like four guys were trying to hard to get stuff in. Poor opener I'm afraid.

So Show is confident because Cena can't apply the STF? Are everybody idiots because no-one seems to realise that Cena is allowed to do more than just the STF.

Nice little intro from Jericho from the merch stand to the ring, but can't help but think that was a TV promo not a PPV one. I like Grisham talking up Rey for being "Nice"

First couple of minutes start outside the ring with a bit of a brawl. Exactly what I asked for. Well done.

Great stuff so far, but just a little question - why are the fans supposed to hate Jericho for removing the mask. Wouldn't they be curious as to what Rey looks like?

Gotta love that. Crisp action throughout, terrific series of counters, and a very creative finish.

My big problem with it, though, is that the unmasking means nothing because no cameras bothered to follow the guy trying to hide his face, but instead looked at the guy doing very little in the ring.

That doesn't detract from the match too much, though. It was a typically great effort from these two. Normally I'd hate to see a third go on PPV between the same guys, but if they have a further PPV contest I won't complain.

Why must we watch that long recap? Surely if someone has purchased this show then they know all about what happened on Raw. And if they don't, well they bought it anyway. Don't waste precious time that could have been given to the opening contest.

No complaints from me there. I felt it was telegraphed that Punk would win when they started going on about how stacked in Umaga's favour it was, though.

Decent enough match, though, considering the limitations of that kind of match. I don't really care for strap matches, much like with Last Man Standing contests (and often cage matches - we'll see later) they are limiting rather than exciting. Glad Punk won, he needs that boost. Umaga is terrific to watch I think, but to me he really needs a manager or at least an ally who can talk to help him out. I miss Arrrrmando......alejandro......estrrrrrrrrrrada.

Backstage to Gregory Helms (terrible interviewer, by the way) who interviews \Christian, who cuts a heel promo. Lame acting from the interupting Dreamer, and then corny dialogue as Swagger enters. The segment is saved, though, as Dreamer and Christian just walk away from Swagger. That was pretty funny.

Well, that I wasn't expecting. Dreamer wins and pins Swagger to do so. Terrific, meaningful call by Striker on the bell. Some sections of the crowd felt that. Others didn't. Felt like that match should have taken place in Phillie. Would have been nice to see some ECW originals cheering him on. I'm aware that Rhyno, the Dudleys and so on can't appear, but I would have liked to have seen some ECW alumni on hand to celebrate with Tommy.

Oh great. Hog Pen match. Time to get a snack. It's a bit late for a bacon sandwich I guess.

Seems that rules for this match are different to the original Hog Pen match. I recall Henry Godwinn backdropping Hunter Hearst Helmsley (yes, him) into the pen for the win. They didn't wrestle in it, you won by getting your opponent in there.

I am not going to analyse that. It was pathetic.

Perhaps that was designed to be so terrible that it would make Cena v Show seem awesome by comparison.

I'd just like to say, for the benefit of my friend RD Reynolds, we may have a Gooker nominee.

Video hyping Batista and Orton. Holy shit, that went on forever. Nice logical meeting of Vickie and Edge. Trouble is, that was virtually a babyface promo for Edge.

Batista has the title, thats three out of four title changes tonight so far, and it came suddenly. No Legacy assistance for Randy, and very few close finishes, before a powerbomb ended it.

I'm still looking at a gradual build to, at Summerslam perhaps, Orton v Batista v Triple H, with Flair as the referee.

Actual, proper insight from King as we are about to start the submission match. He talks about how every time he went into a match thinking he might lose, he lost. That's what the colour guy should do, add insight from his career.

Big Cena chat early on. Sounds like The Big Easy likes Cena.

Pretty much what we were expecting, wasn't it? Typical slow Cena match, with a vaguely logical story about Cena applying his hold.

I'm sick of two things tonight. One is that the usual reference to "skull" rather than "head" has gone into overdrive and is sounding completely ridiculous. I mean staggeringly annoying. Saying something too often lessens its impact, not that saying skull is that impactful anyway.

The other petty annoyance is the predictions by the commentators being completely wrong. Wrong to the point that their insistance that Big Show or Umaga, for example, are guaranteed to win shattered any doubt about who the winner would be. They even did it with Orton and Batista.

Exciting, breathtaking, exhilarating and terrifying in equal measures, Edge and Jeff Hardy, one the whole, deliver in the main event. Jeff wins after a very creative finish trapping Edge inside a ladder and ......wait. As I type, here is Puink.

Hmm.....interesting stuff. Firstly, credit for the Jeff kick out and inside cradle near fall. Suddenly it seemed that Punk's cash-in might backfire.

My biggest doubt would be that the moment of Jeff winning was big, and the crowd loved it. They did not go crazy for Punk, because he is a lesser babyface than Jeff.

Punk heel turn possible? Remember Edge will deserve a rematch, so perhaps we'll see a triple threat soon.

Back to the Ladder match, I thought it was very good. Not amazing, not five stars, but it didn't disappoint. What you absolutely cannot fault is the commitment level which Edge and Jeff Hardy asipire to. I would suggest they will be seriously banged up after that one.

Overall an ok show. I don't think anyone will hate the fact that they missed it, but Jericho v Rey and Edge v Jeff were both quality matches, and the Punk cash in was a shocking moment.

I look forward to Smackdown far more than Raw this week.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Extreme Rules Preview

It may well be an easy pun to say that this Pay Per View ranges “from one extreme to another” (in fact I think I did last week on The Sun’s site) but the dichotomy of a PPV which has a Jeff Hardy v Edge ladder match and a Hog Pen match between a non-wrestler and a guy in drag is certainly different.

This is the time of PPV that could go either way. I can see there being at least three matches which have the potential to be very good indeed. However, the build to it has been average, and it is difficult to have much investment in several of the feuds.

Santina Morella v Vickie Guerrero (Hog Pen Match)
It’s difficult to believe that Vickie had nuclear heat only a couple of months ago, and was almost the most hated in heel in company. Now, she is relegated to a comedy feud, and I use the word comedy very loosely.

Santino, in turn, has been comically neutered by turning face. As a heel who gets shown up, he is hilarious, but snorting like a pig isn’t as funny as many of his other, quite subtle at times, mannerisms. Since his alter ego Santina appeared on the scene, it’s been dire, although I will admit that I laughed a few weeks back when he/she joshed with JR.

I don’t care who wins the match, I just hope that they can do it quickly, make seven children laugh and then get off, and never come back to this feud.

Prediction: Apathy, and maybe Vickie with some help, will win the day. There is more scope in the idea of Vickie being Miss Wrestlemania and using this as a tool for being more annoying.

CM Punk v Umaga – Strap match
I didn’t really see the logic of having these two wrestle on Smackdown ahead of their PPV match. Punk picked up a win with Umaga going for the strap, so instinct might suggest that the Samoan goes over in this one, and that Punk was winning so as not to look too bad, as his opponent was winning again Sunday.

Look for the typical strap match move, where the stronger heel pulls the babyface around but the wily good guy will touch the turnbuckle after his enemy. That is assuming this is the rule.

To me, there is an easy set up for promoting (in terms of card position) Umaga using CM Punk, and this is by virtue of the Money in the Bank factor. Umaga beats Punk, but Punk cashes in and wins the title. Theoretically you have two heels pissed off at Punk – the former champ (in this case Edge) and the guy who bested him (Umaga). Throw in a title switch to Jeff before Punk’s interference and you have a third guy annoyed, because he’s lost a belt and Edge’s gripe would be that he is entitled to a rematch.

I’m not saying that they will go with the Punk run-in tonight, but just explaining that if they did, they are well covered for ways to prolong the story should they choose that route right now. The main problem would have been that Umaga wouldn’t be able to vocalise his point in the traditional way, with his character being a non-Anglophone. But he talks now, apparently, so this might not be an issue.

Prediction – I think Umaga wins, and depending on happenings elsewhere, could be set for bigger things at the top of the card, or maybe an IC run with Rey?

Fatal Fourway for the US Title – Kofi Kingston (c) v William Regal v MVP v Matt Hardy
A reasonable use of these four mid-card wrestlers, all of whom are more than decent hands. I don’t know whether this will be an elimination contest, but I would assume not.

My initial reaction is that it is pointless to have Kofi Kingston win the title on Raw only to drop it again so quickly, so he’d be my pick to win. Since these theories aren’t always watertight, I’d best have a couple of back up explanations.

One would be that MVP winning the title back wouldn’t hurt Kofi too much, especially if MVP pins either Hardy or Regal. You then have the stage set for MVP saying he’s the greatest US Champion, but Kofi reacting by saying “Well you didn’t beat me.” Cue PPV match.

The other way of looking at it might be a Regal and Hardy coalition, fitting their storyline of being aligned under the guise of lackeys for Vickie G. Although why Matt would be an underling to a wife of Edge’s I’m not quite sure.

With these two being sort-of-buddies, they could pair up to effect and dominate in this way. I’d say this is likely to happen for a time, but then an argument will start up over who will win, leading to their self destruction.

Prediction – the aforementioned Regal/Hardy argument to come after they have disposed of MVP, but Kofi to take advantage and score a win.

Intercontinental Title – Chris Jericho v Rey Mysterio. No Holds Barred

These two had a cracking match at the last WWE PPV offering Judgment Day, so I’d be very hopeful of another stunning effort. Jericho is perhaps the best in the business and having fresh matches with the same guys, and these two have such a back catalogue of matches from the WCW days to call upon that most WWE fans won’t have seen.

To me, the big issue in this one is on the aspect of whether they use the No Holds Barred stip. This basically means no disqualification, and therefore I would like to see typically illegal moves and weapons to be introduced early on. They had a couple of brawls on Smackdown in recent weeks suggesting they hate each other and are desperate to fight. Therefore, you would not start a wrestling match, even one with a title on the line, with a stand off and a lock up. It wouldn’t make sense.

Their last contest was a great wrestling match, this ought to be a bit more of a brawl, but they are still more than capable of putting some entertaining stuff in that.

On a card which features Edge and Jeff on ladders, this will go some to be match of the night, but they’ll likely have a crack at it.

As for the winner – It’s a really tough call. The fact that Rey won last time and that Jericho is a major heel suggests that the former Y2J would be a likely victor, but I don’t see how it helps him winning the IC strap AGAIN. He can also likely build his heat for a world title position again with his vocal skills and character development.

I’d suggest that he and Umaga could swap feuds after this. An Umaga challenge for Rey’s IC Title makes sense to me, while Jericho battling (and beating) Punk could set him up for a rise in the ranks, and could take the position I spoke about earlier, as a vanquisher of Punk and a perfect choice to be complainer-in-chief who thinks he deserves better.

Prediction – I think the IC Title fits better on Rey. Him winning is more logical to me, as Jericho can build his heat up if he needs to.

On More Thing.....I’d also like to point out that if they do go with a Jericho win, and they go with an Umaga v Rey programme, that Umaga attacking Rey during the match, remembering it’s no DQ, could give Jericho a win and a ready made angle for Mysterio and the burly Samoan.

ECW Title – Jack Swagger v Christian v Tommy Dreamer
This match feels like it’s just there, with no real anticipation build. I like the idea of giving Dreamer a send-off on a decent platform, and while not Wrestlemania, it is at least not an ECW show with one man and a dog watching.

He surely can’t win. It makes no sense to have him go over, and would simply harm the burgeoning Swagger and the ongoing push of Christian. I would expect, though, to see plenty of near-falls for Dreamer, giving the impression that he might just pull it off.

I think I’d like to see Swagger win on one level, since it could be an appropriate time for him to regain, and gloat at retiring Dreamer. It also wouldn’t hurt Christian too much losing a title in a three-way. However, longer term, Swagger being champion means a less obvious opponents for the title, and although he and Christian have worked well, we don’t need another of their matches on PPV.

Christian retaining sets up matches with DH Smith, Tyson Kidd, Mark Henry and a babyface outing with Evan Bourne could be set up. If Swagger wins, only really Christian and Bourne fit the bill, with it being rather pointless to elevate Finlay at this point.

Prediction – I think when you look at the most likely eventualities, Christian retaining makes the most sense, but I say that will little conviction. Hopefully there will be a nice little post match send off for Dreamer, with Christian acknowledging and Swagger demeaning the ECW original. Oh, and don’t expect a classic wrestling match – expect Dreamer, and to a lesser extent Christian, to take a pummelling with weapons.

Big Show v John Cena – Ploddingly slow submission match
I don’t anticipate a classic here by any stretch. I don’t think these two have particular chemistry, and neither do they possess an innate ability to change their matches. They often follow quite a similar formula, and I’d expect it to go as follows.

Cena with a flurry, tries the STF, fails. Show takes over. Keeps beating on Cena, Cena won’t give up. Every now and then Cena fights up and tries a submission hold, mostly the STF, keeps failing. More Show pressure, more superman Cena refusing to tap, maybe even powering out of a camel clutch. Eventually John will lock in either a modified STF or a brand new move, and win. It’s what he does.

Prediction – Erm, John Cena. And see above.

Randy Orton v Batista – WWE title match, in a cage.
I just can’t get excited for this at all. To me all the action at this PPV is from the featured Smackdown matches, while Raw’s offerings just don’t match up.

I don’t find Dave Batista all that much of a draw, and while I do like Orton, he has been stifled so much of late that he just seems to be a sitting duck until Triple H comes back and murders him.

I don’t think that a cage provides that many outlets for putting together a creative match, so these two have their work cut out.

You have to look at title matches and to pick a winner you must look at who is waiting in the wings to take on the champion, whomever it may be. I’d suggest that a Batista win just leads to Orton v Batista again, and I don’t know either man would go apart from that.

Triple H is the elephant in the ring, and when he returns things can go a couple of ways. He could be the returning virtuous babyface and win out, or there could be a falling out between him and Batista.

How about this one.....remember there has been another man involved in the Orton/Batista build-up. So what if Hunter returns, doesn’t see eye to eye with Batista, both men hate Orton, who reciprocates their dislike. So a triple threat is booked for the WWE Title.........

And Ric Flair is the special referee.

Sounds good, huh? The three active Evolution wrestlers battling with their former senior member as the man in the middle.

Following that up, it would actually make little difference about who is champion, as both Randy and Dave would be involved, plus Hunter. I’d actually like it if Batista was champ at this point, and it would lead to more antagonism between him and the Game. If Triple H returns and wants the belt, and Orton is champ, he’d logically just get the shot, because Batista failed to get the job done. But if Batista is champ, then Trips and Randy would be both be angling for a shot, hence a triple threat.

Prediction – I’m going to go with Batista. I’m going to have faith in my own fantasy booking. That’s probably misplaced confidence.

Edge v Jeff Hardy – Ladder match for the WWE Championship
This is the mouthwaterer for me. I want to see this match badly. I think it has the potential to be awesome. Great advertising in the build up with the promise that it’s the first ever singles ladder contest for these guys, considering they are so adept in the field.

Edge’s mannerisms, match pacing and storytelling ability make him a great champion, while Jeff’s high flying style should make this match very memorable indeed.

The question mark, I feel, is not over the quality, but over the winner. The rumours of Jeff Hardy’s departure should not be completely believed, but they have gone on for too long for them to be without substance. WWE can look at it two ways – throw great things at Jeff is one option. A title run and a massive push may convince him to commit and stay. If he leaves, you can look at it that you milked him before he upped sticks.

However, the last time he disappeared he then resurfaced in TNA. WWE would be wary of pushing him to the moon only to find him jumping to the competition, helping their cause.

So then, do you hold him back, and make sure you do not put him in any high-profile situations after this and ensure that he can’t ruin anything for you?

Well, we don’t know the contract situation, and neither should we, so it’s best we just sit back and take it in.

I have, in fairness, been quite short sighted in my appraisal of Smackdown’s ongoing feuds. I’ve put Rey with Umaga and Jericho with Punk, which doesn’t leave much room for manoeuvre on Edge and Jeff Hardy’s part. They can’t really go around again, since the Ladder match ought to be a blow off.

I really can’t call this, so what I’ll do is go for what I want to see deep down, and that’s Jeff win the title in his specialty match.

Prediction – Jeff Hardy. But moreover, I call a near-classic.

There’s my selections – enjoy the show! Don’t forget you can visit here again during the PPV and I will do my usual live blog.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Raw Thoughts - June 1

· Always like a cold opening of Raw. Logical Orton promo, makes sense to have Cage match as a build up, and I particularly liked the interaction between Cody and Randy, where Randy truly did seem like a mentor and Cody eager to impress his boss.
· Good intensity from Ric’s promo, but overdid the ‘Punk’ thing. Especially when they have a wrestler on the roster (admittedly on another brand) that goes by that epithet.
· Why would Rhodes try to escape within a few seconds? Isn’t the idea that he is a sacrifice to hurt Batista a bit?
· Hardly a technical classic, but I thought that Big Dave looked really good in that short match. That’s the best way to promote the guy as a big threat to a champion.
· Matt and Regal being helped out by management after toadying around them is quite a nice idea, as is being given a title shot, as is using it for antagonising each other. But surely not within two weeks. It’s a nice theory, but it’s just too rushed.
· See, that’s why the US Title is not taken seriously. It’s more than 30 minutes into the show and they’ve only just reminded us that MVP v Kofi for that title is on the show. I, for one, had forgotten, and I’m actually looking forward to it. Start the show, say “Randy Orton from Legacy is in the ring, we’ll see what he has to say, on a night where the US title is on the line and John Cena doesn’t know who his partner is....” then you have a couple of hooks right from the start.
· I think any title match should be positioned as a main event. You have more variety on the show, make each belt feel more important and therefore a bigger draw. Also, and this is very important, it gives plenty more individuals the chance to shine.
· Hey, Spongebob is pretty over.
· King calls it unorthodox, I call it one of the oddest matches ever. I don’t know who I am supposed to cheer for, or sympthise with, or what. Cena hates Show, Miz hates Cena, Show hates Miz, Chavo tries to get all to like him, everybody hates Chavo, Joanie Loves Chachie, Everybody loves Raymond, Everybody hates Chris, Everybody wants to rule the world, Nobody does it better, everybody needs somebody to love.
· Sweetheart to miss
· Sugar to kiss
· Almost a good backstage MVP/Kofi segment, but just felt too forced.
· Nice match for the US Title. Wasn’t really expecting Kofi to win, which made it nice. That match is definitely the highlight of the show thus far.
· “That’s what Cody said” from DiBiase to Orton, as Randy talks confidently of standing tall. Great line, and there is a definite sense of Ted being protected, not just from a physical perspective, but he is the one who talks more sense, and seems to have backbone, whereas Cody does pander to Randy a bit.
· A video of a hog pen, and the commentators explaining that matches of this ilk have taken place in the past. No footage of Triple H being made to look like an idiot, though. Funny that.
· I’ll admit that Santino throwing the contents of that bucket in a circle and hitting the caerma was funny, but that whole segment generally was, well, excrement. Someone, somewhere, thought that was a good idea. Think about that.
· If Flair wanted a man-to-man fight, then couldn’t he have stood eye-to-eye rather than using a sneak attack?
· Remember how many people said how badly Rey Mysterio was booked as a champion, and that he may have been the weakest looking champ ever? Well, might Orton be the most flip-flopping champ ever in terms of booking? There have been times where he looks imperious, kicking people in the head, standing tall and being mean, but every now and again he gets beaten down by someone who didn’t ought to best him. Vince, Shane, an injured Triple H, and now a retired Ric Flair. The one man who has yet to look strong against Orton, really, is Batista. The one I’ll give the segment is that it had heat. And the punt followed by the face-off across the cage was pretty cool.
· How long did Batista take to emerge to help his ‘friend’, by the way
· And how stupid were the babyfaces tonight? Why didn’t Batista try to climb the cage straight away? Didn’t Santino realise he was getting set up? Cole and Lawler saw Vickie plotting with Hardy and Regal. Why didn’t Marella? Why didn’t Cena just try a different submission hold? Maybe an anklelock?
· Meh sort of Raw. Some good bits, but not a great episode to help sell me a PPV. Actually, I think the one bit which made me think "I'm looking forward to Sunday" was the advert for Edge v Jeff Hardy. Says a lot, really.