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Sunday, 23 August 2009

SummerFest Preview

The Hottest Night of the Summer is upon us, so are you feeling like this is the little brother of Wrestlemania?

WWE have shown indications that they want the August PPV to become second only to their flagship event, but this is hardly a stellar card that makes you salivate and feel excited in a way that Wrestlemania does, that usually the Royal Rumble does, and even events with a hook like the Elimination Chamber do.

For this reason, I’d like to stipulate at this point that this predictions piece will be littered with elements of hope – suggestions of turns of events that may occur in the Staples Center this evening that will give this ordinary looking show a degree of excitement to match it’s alleged billing.

Before the predictions start, let me remind you that I’ll be doing my usual live notes blog tonight during the PPV, so be sure to stop by and keep refreshing your page to see what I’m making of what’s unfolding at Summerslam.

MVP v Jack Swagger
To be honest, when you look at this feud, it begins to explain to you a few things that don’t make sense......I was going to say in WWE, but mainly on Raw.

It is Raw that has the depth problem, and Raw that has three guys on top we are al bored of. Therefore, exceptional effort ought to be going into these two getting over. However, since one face-off on the VIP Lounge which was captivating, this feud has been stop start. It looked like it was ending, with speculation that Swagger would be Jericho’s mystery partner, but has been resurrected. Even then, they had about thirty seconds on Raw to wrestle to a DQ, “setting up” this match.

To me, the logical man to be progressing is Jack Swagger. I think his presence in the ring – both as a talent and a character – is very good. You really feel he can handle himself, and although he has an element of cowardly heel about him, he has won enough matches cleanly to be taken seriously.

There is also the match he had with John Cena in March/April time to take into consideration. I personally remember not caring for the match too much, but I will bow to a) the majority who did and more importantly b) those in the business (including John Cena when I spoke to him) who were mightily impressed with Swagger. I get the feeling that Cena could do a lot more for Swagger, seen as a legit athlete, than he did for The Miz, whose strengths lie in a similar area to that of Cena. Swagger would be able to dominate Cena in a wrestling sense, definitely helping his cause.

Whether this feud is Cena v Swagger for the title or simply as a semi-main, I think it ought to happen. For this reason, I’ll take, and I want Jack Swagger to win this one.

Prediction – Swagger.

The Great Khali v Kane
A match we’ve seen before, but with roles reversed (a theme I will come back to later). We all know roughly what we are getting here. I think they’ll know well enough to not let this go too long, and just have a couple of the usual big man face-off spots.

I hope they let Kane get a clean victory. I don’t really see the value of Khali winning this, because they surely realise that his value is not as a serious contender, whereas Kane, while I’m not saying he ought to be world champion, is more suited to a spell near the top of the card in proper feuds.

Prediction (although it’s hope as much as anything): Kane

ECW Title – Christian v William Regal

I think this could be a little hidden gem on the card. You have a couple of wrestlers who, while neither has been hugely critically acclaimed, rarely have a bad match.

I wouldn’t think this will be one for the ages. They’ll likely be given a nothing spot on the card and no exciting plot twist, but I would expect a well crafted ten-minuter with some nice chain wrestling and decent psychology, culminating in Christian getting the better of the man from Blackpool.

The contrary argument, of course, is that Regal now has a couple of big dudes in tow, and there is an out for having Christian drop the title due to interference and then have him chase again. But I’ll stick my original thought.

Prediction – A solid, if unspectacular event. And Christian to win it.

Intercontinental Title - Rey Mysterio v Dolph Ziggler
It seems rather odd to book this twice in successive PPVs only to have Dolph lose again, so it’s easy to simply say he’ll win this time. However, we mustn’t forget that in WWE’s eye simply being in the ring with established superstars is enough of a rub, and in reality what Ziggler needs is to give Mysterio a close match. If he looks like he might win, it’ll help him. That was the old Flair philosophy.

Maria is a major factor to bring into play, here. She is, I guess, Dolph Ziggler’s girlfriend, but she is still ostensibly a babyface. Maria has been in WWE for over five years, and although she has largely dropped the ditzy gimmick of asking stupid questions, she is still essentially the wide eyed, innocent, good girl next door. It might be fun to see her be the bad girl. That was one of the great attributes, among many, that Trish Stratus had. She was a easy to get behind (steady...) as a babyface, but also a really believable, sexy heel.

They may well be feeling that this is a time for Maria to make this transition. I can see her being the story of the match. Perhaps appearing to rebel against Dolph, making taking a bump which draws Rey’s attention to see if she is okay, and then Ziggler nailing him while his guard is down. Maria then celebrates, showing it was all a ruse, while Grisham plays along like a chump.

Or, Mysterio will win in seven minutes.

Prediction – Rey Mysterio. I think they’ll simply have Rey win. But all that speculation on Maria and Dolph’s win was fun.

Tag Titles - Chris Jericho and Big Show v Cryme Tyme
(I’m sick of saying Undisputed Tag Titles, so to me this is just the Tag Team Championships now. )

I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the participants in this match, because the underlying seam of gold under this match’s surface is Mr Shaquille O’Neal. Rumours of Show v Shaq have refused to go away, and with this show taking place in the Staples Center, home of the LA Lakers, O’Neal’s former team, it would make for an enormous news story if he were to emerge and get involved.

I want to believe something like this will happen. It would be a major fillip for the show, and for the audience. It isn’t by any means certain though, so we need to look at how things may pan out either way.

If Shaq does appear, it may be to cost Show and Jericho the belts, but I’m not sure that would be wise. For one it would mean that if they did look for a Show v Shaq showdown at any point the mainstream build wouldn’t feature a belt. That means a lot when you are trying to attract a non-traditional wrestling audience. Secondly one of the benefits of having undisputed champions is that they can appear on two shows. Think of Miz and Morrison’s versatility, The Colons wrestling prowess, and then the star power of Jericho/Edge/Show and what that gives all brands that use them. Would all brands really benefit that greatly from having Cryme Tyme on the show? I don’t think so.

Maybe Show and Jericho win, beat Cryme Tyme down afterwards and Shaq comes out to save. But why? If he has travelled to the show, wouldn’t he help before this stage? He could be in the crowd I guess, and then be invited in. There are multiple ways of doing it. I just hope they use one.

If there is no Shaq, it seems pointless having the match at all, but assuming he isn’t there, you just can’t see Cryme Tyme winning. Therefore.....

Prediction – To make it simple, Big Show and Jericho to win. And then we hope Shaq gets involved, not because a Show v Shaq will rule, but because there are multiple benefits including the spectacle and simply the element of something different.

Legacy v DX
Here we go, this is my almost monthly major PPV theory, and it has to be said these are normally absolutely miles off the mark. The best one I had, in terms of it playing out in reality, was Matt Hardy, not Christian, being Jeff’s attacked, but I wanted Edge and Matt to be in cahoots and for Christian to help Jeff, mixing up the old E&C v Hardys battles.

Since then, I’ve periodically come up with a big idea ranging from Christian as Jericho’s partner to JBL buying Raw. All have come to naught. Now, though, this really will be it.

Essentially, what I’d like to happen is for HBK, at a crucial point, to Superkick Triple H’s face off. Not because I have the bizarre hatred for Triple H that most of the net does, but because if Michaels really is going to call it a day soon then I think he ought to have one more go round with Triple H at the top of the card, and for HBK to be the heel and Triple H the babyface has not been done, to the best of my knowledge.

The turn could occur in many ways. We could simply have a regular match for while before Michaels simply kicks him. He could do the old Owen Hart at the Calgary Stampede injury and disappear for ten minutes before emerging to help Trips, although that would mean the same old handicap match we’ve already seen.

Perhaps Triple H could be seen on camera wondering where his partner is, because he is late. He then arrives mid-match to cost Hunter the bout. He might get ‘injured’ backstage then emerge midway through, selling an injury, before BOOM! A little chin music.

Whichever way it occurs, I think it would awesome. Yes we’ve seen these two wrestle before, but I’d seen Jericho wrestle Mysterio plenty of times, it was still brilliant when they did again.

Of course, this may not happen. If it does not, then I would anticipate DX winning. I don’t see that as an overly negative thing, as long as Legacy are allowed to wrestle an even fight, and not just roll over.

Interestingly, the UK tour later in the year is called the DX Reunion Tour. It would be really interesting if they were battling each other on that trip.

Prediction – Yeah, what the hell! HBK turns, and Legacy win.

WWE Title - John Cena v Randy Orton

It is hardly a new observation to say that these two wrestling again is the same old stuff. I will offer a slight counter-argument that they have often had very good contests, so let’s hope that they can really raise it tonight.

It’s worth having a look at who these men may move on to feud with after tonight, if indeed this is a one-shot deal. If you assume that even if DX don’t split they carry on battling Rhodes and DiBiase, then Cena v Swagger becomes the possibility mentioned earlier. That leaves Randy Orton with several options. He could assist Legacy in a battle with and we get a three-on-two handicap match, maybe in a Cell or something. He could battle a stepping-up Mark Henry or MVP, with the former being more likely in my eyes. Or, if DX are a-feudin’, then they may push the button on the Legacy break up and have Orton v DiBiase sooner than we thought.

I think that the better option of the two is to keep the belt on Orton. As maligned as Mark Henry has been over the years by critics, including me, his babyface turn has been reasonable, and he would be a legitimate contender for Orton. It would also be a welcome chance for Orton to win a title match cleanly. I don’t see Swagger v Cena being as good a prospect for title bout as Orton v Henry.

Prediction – Via that blatantly flawed and questionable process of logic, it’s Orton to win. Presumably by foul means.

World Title - Jeff Hardy v CM Punk – TLC Match

This ought to be the main event really. It’s certainly the one most people will be excited about, certainly above Cena and Orton. The main talking point, as it has been for a couple of months, is the imminent disappearing act of Jeffrey Nero Hardy. He’s the champ going in, with CM Punk chasing his former possession, the Big Gold Belt.

Firstly, you feel this ought to be a cracker. These two have been tremendous in their programme, some great matches, solid promos and an effective turn by CM Punk. The blowoff match, with two passionate an innovative competitors, ought to top it all off.

Logic would dictate Punk winning. They may well try and throw things up in the air by having a surprise win, but it does seem more likely that Punk will take it, and quite possibly via a rather sizable fareweel bump by Jeff.

If Hardy does indeed do a runner after this, then it will help Punk immensely. They could make Punk an enormous star in the next two months if they choose. They have him go over Jeff, the gloat at getting rid of him. “I’m the man who retired Jeff Hardy,” he’ll say, and talk of his pride of being the clean-living Straightedge guy prevailing over the flawed hero. Punk has the ability to be very self-righteous and smug, and this will definitely help his cause as a major heel.

So who to face Punk? Well how about him being forced to have a title defence, maybe against Matt Hardy or John Morrison, in which he prevails. Then, at the height of his gloating.........BONG! Back comes Taker in due time to scare the living daylights out of Punk, and if they feel like it Punk can get the better of Taker. He’d be the biggest star in the company.

Leave the title on Punk for the foreseeable, and then when the time is right, from the perspective of both parties, get Jeff Hardy back to take the title back from Punk, maybe at the Royal Rumble.

Prediction – CM Punk. Tonight, and hopefully for the future.

Well, I’m looking forward to this slightly more now. Hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to join me just before the show starts, and I’ll be providing you with my thoughts live.

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