NXT (28/09/2010): Define a Diva

Like last week’s review, I imagine this post will be more about the concept of a divas season of NXT and how it’s being treated, rather than the content. This is partly because there was not one match on the card. Now i’ve defended the all-round star-making concept of NXT in the past, but it does need at least one match!

This just proves to all the critics of WWE divas that they’re not there to wrestle. This is especially upsetting when this assertion is made, seemingly, against the will of the fans! The past two weeks have seen Naomi beg to wrestle, and the fans react positively to her, so why don’t WWE let them wrestle – it’s what the fans and presumably they (as wrestling promoters and, I imagine, fans) want to see!

NXT season 3 started off reasonably well. The concept was and is a great way to introduce new stars and let them show off. In the past three weeks though, it’s as is WWE have given up on this and decided that being a diva is little more than being confident and vaguely ‘athletic’. Last week I speculated that it may all be a work to make the show’s move to WWE.com seem like less of a loss. It doesn’t seem that’s the case as we didn’t have an influential WWE authority figure come out and banish it to the internet. I imagined anyone from Vinnie O’Mac to the Anonymous GM doing this … That doesn’t mean that how the show is being treated isn’t a work, it just isn’t that one. Indeed, I still think it must, surely, be a work or why on earth would management let the commentary team put the boot in every week, and even give them a gong and CM Punk (who, unfortunately, didn’t bring his spectacular wit to the show this week – I imagine it clashed with his current persona) to further facilitate it?!

With that out of the way, i’ll talk quickly about this week’s show itself. A wheelbarrow challenge, more than most, I can live with – it’s physical and tricky. Have that furnished with a match or two and we’re right back on track! As for Hornswoggle, he’s again fulfilling his rightful role in WWE, not a ‘wrestler’ (like he occasionally was in some dark times last year) but a personality – a prop almost (given his stature, it’s a shame to call him that, but that’s the role he plays, and he plays it well and in a way that isn’t abusive or the like).

The ‘Diss a Diva’ segment was also quite good in itself. Even if we aren’t seeing divas as wrestlers, we’re at least hearing them talk and getting to know and respect their personalities. What really came out in a few ‘disses’ was some of the divas trying to separate from the pack and label themselves as different from other divas. I would note that post-Lita/Trish up until Serena was a pretty dark time for female wrestling in the WWE, and indeed, it was difficult to really differentiate them in terms of character (and sometimes in look). There does seem to be something of a move away from this. The anti-diva Serena, as I mentioned, was a healthy checking character to have around. The (I thought) positive message of the ‘Piggy James’ storyline was also more considered and indeed, both of LayCool have foregrounded themselves as distinctive and interesting. For all it’s problems, this season of NXT is undoubtedly a positive step for female wrestling in the WWE as it at least gives divas a further platform to build upon these recent positives.

One caveat to what i’m about to say is that every single one of these ‘rookie’ divas are undoubtedly attractive, and probably wouldn’t be there if not. However, AJ does represent some sort of break from the specific WWE mould (y’know, T&A …) in ways that are obvious but that I wont attempt to define here out of decency. She showed she was a different kind of diva, and I think that that’s one of the reasons she is so popular (and will probably win). I believe she is a bit of a geek, and despite her extraordinary looks, not pre-occupied with them. The video-package about her showed her genuine love for the industry – something it’s important not to lose. There were one or two others that stood out, also arguing that they wanted to redefine what it is to be a diva (i.e. try not to be Aksana) Kaitlyn being another notable one. So, while it’s only to a limited extent, a lot of positives came out of this segment. Also, good job by Naomi, who – as I mentioned – reasserted the importance of actually wrestling.

Speaking of Kaitlyn, she furthered her interesting feud with Vickie Guerrero by refusing to listen to Vickie hurtful and unwarranted jibes (especially seen as she had earlier won the wheelbarrow challenge) and challenging her to a match next week. Lets not expect too much from the match, but i’m sure we can expect a furtherment of what has been an interesting storyline.

Now, as next week is the first elimination week, I will rank the divas and put them in leagues before predicting who will be eliminated.

1) AJ – The next Mickie James (though not a copy)
2) Kaitlyn – Another ‘new kind of diva’ and an interesting character

3) Maxine – Has a worthy character as an independent and strong woman – dropped back somewhat over the last couple of weeks though
4) Naomi – Has it all in terms of athleticism, and seems to care about the wrestling – a step behind in terms of charisma though

5) Jamie – Though this has improved, her mic skills are still very contrived. I don’t like her look and not much of a character
6) Aksana – Certainly remarkably beautiful, but that’s the only reason she’s there and that’s what we need to move away from

As for who will be eliminated, obviously i’m pulling for Aksana, and I think there’s a reasonable chance of it being her with her not really getting over. I think only AJ is truly safe (the Vickie Guerrero story may necessitate a Kaitlyn ‘firing’ or something). I’d say it will probably be Aksana or Maxine, and i’m plumping for Aksana.

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RAW Recall (27/09/2010): Punt the Walls Down

With one swift kick, Jericho was taken off WWETV

RAW ‘kicked’ off this week with a tag team match between the likely pairing of Miz and Alex Riley against the understandable pairing of Daniel Bryan and John Morrison. It was a good way to start off the show and among the better matches. I felt Bryan went up a gear with his in-ring performance (i’ve always felt he was slightly holding back on TV so far), really buzzing around the ring (utilising that physical structure well) in a frenzy of dropkicks, clotheslines, lariats and the kitchen sink.  The ending of the match was entirely to help Miz look strong, despite having to almost certainly lose on Sunday. What better way of losing well than by adding other opponents to the match? and who better than former tag team partner, John Morrison? Miz’s ‘beef’ was with Bryan, so how do you get Morrison in the match? By setting up some heat between him and Bryan. First off, they had to lose, which was also god for Miz, and they did with quite a smooth finish to the match involving Miz using Bryan to shove Morrison off the ring apron and then hitting his Skull-Crushing Finalé on the stunned champion. Then as the post-match scuffles ensue, have Bryan, for some reason, attack both men. This is where it all falls down. After Morrison helping him against the jealous Miz, it seemed strange and unbelievable that Bryan would attack Morrison, but attack he did – thus creating the required tension between the teo to have Morrison added to the match. A good, solid match and a step-up for Bryan. I don’t know if there was a different way to get Morrison in the match, but Bryan attacking Morrison wasn’t done too well.

Battle Royales, as i’ve said before, are never anything great, but are a good way of finding a completely new #1 contender for a title, among other things. All that needs said then about the divas battle royal to determine the #1 contender to that championship is that Natalya won, and it’s about time. Out of everyone there, I was hoping for either her or Gail Kim to take it. I like up-and-comers like Eve, for instance, and think they have a lot to offer, but someone like one of those two would be still more credible and certainly more unexpected.

Later on came a surreal and comic edition of ‘The Cutting Edge’ in which Edge interviewed the anonymous general manager with his pithy, computer-generated voice. It was certainly kinda silly, but definitely pretty funny also. After some grandstanding, the Anonymous GM informed Edge he had a match, against John Cena. Just a note on the GM’s identity: I know this could be easily glossed over, but with Michael Cole seemingly ineffective during the interview (and with the GM’s use of the word ‘yo’), it seems he may be out of the picture for the role. This is a shame as, for me, he was the perfect candidate. I’ve heard that Abraham Washington has been thrown around, but really, will the RAW audience have even heard of him? I can imagine it now, his Letterman style music hits and the crowd realises the GM is still anonymous! There are other potential candidates, but I wont speculate any more. All i’ll say is that if it is Washington, he’ll have to do real well to win me round.

As for the match, they had a pretty good outing. As you would expect with their deep history, these two have very good chemistry, which showed in the first, overturned ending to the match, where Edge avoided Cena’s running elbow and hit a Spear for the 1-2-3, only for the GM to overturn the decision on legitimate grounds (Cena’s foot was under the ropes). Innevitably, Cena went on to win the restarted match, and did so with his STF. Though he eventually lost, I think Edge getting any sort of 1-2-3 on Cena keeps him looking strong while he’s floating around without a physical antagonist. After the match, Edge smashed the GM’s computer. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next week about this. I doubt it will be long before his identity is revealed. Perhaps there will be a segment about it on Sunday, with Edge complaining that he’s no booked for the PPV, before the GM announces he will reveal himself on RAW. Perhaps.

The Nexus pairing of Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater took on the persisting team of Mark Henry and Evan Bourne in a very short match which is barely worth talking about, beating them in typical heel fashion after Slater interfered in Bourne’s pin-attempt. I really only want to talk about Nexus’s post-match promo. They were talking about how dominant they could be (and will be) with Cena on board, and started getting back to what makes them great: being a threat to the WWE institution. They talked of Cena ‘serving a purpose’ to help them ‘demoralise the entire WWE’. This is what Nexus have let go of (which has made them lose their edge) since their fiery inception – their threat to the company and even the business that all the fans love. What is more, the way they spoke and filled the ring (posing with one on each turnbuckle and Barrett in the centre) made me actually think that a Cena win isn’t quite the full-gone-conclusion that I thought … Hopefully whan everyone appears on Smackdown, the build-up will continue to go in this direction, and help give us a match that is less predictable.

Next we had the Hart Dynasty take on Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes again. I say it that way because this seems to be the way all Hart Dynasty feuds go – just constant booking of the same match. Now I understand that they don’t book the matches, but this doesn’t really happen to other people. There does seem to be something about them that makes it hard to write an interesting storyline for. The match, again, was pretty good, and again, Tyson Kidd looked superb (his tarantula type move in to a cradle was fantastic!). I’ll tell you what, get some or all of Kidd, Gabriel, Bourne, Bryan and Morrison in the ring at the same time and you have $$$. It may be time that WWE continued their new-found investment of interest in smaller guys and facilitate some more X-Division style matches for them to shine. Anyway! The champs retained to surely completely remove the Harts from the tag title picture, but that wasn’t the end of the story. DH Smith took exception to how they lost, with Kidd being pushed into him to stop the double team, and eventually cost them the victory, and snubbed the rest of the Dynasty. This obviously smacks of a split, and while that’s not set in stone yet, it has been very controversial – mainly because the Harts are far and away the best tag team in the WWE and it does smack of a further nail in WWE’s tag team coffin. For me, I realised last week especially how difficult it was to relate to the Harts in their current state. They’re awesome in the ring, and easy to get behind in that respect, but that’s short term, and every other way that counts, they are, as Cole says, boring. Without the belts they have even less of a purpose, and while I understand why people want them to stay together, I would also like to see how they would do in a storyline that is actually emotionally engaging. So would have I suggested splitting them up? No. Do I support it? Kinda. We;ll see how it pans out.

Our main event was the mouth-watering prospect of Randy Orton against Chris Jericho. Jericho started out (no doubt mindful that this would be his last match in some time) with a great promo literally listing the impressive names he has beaten over his career (often comically listing the various gimmicks of a single man). It almost goes without saying that this was a very good match. Orton’s sheer skill and physicality, and Jericho’s veteran nouse and experience made for a match-story well told. These are two of the top performers of their generation, and it showed as they effortlessly put on a flowing, highly realistic and dramatic match. Despite not having wrestled much one-on-one, they showed great understanding of each other – one very good sequence seeing Jericho attempt a Lionsault in which he landed on his feet, but right into the arms of Orton and his unique back-breaker. This was closely followed by a reversed RKO in to a Lionsault that hit for a brilliant near-fall. It really is the believable execution of that sort of stuff that makes matches great. All the while, Sheamus was at ringside(let us not forget HIAC!), watching Orton intently and after Orton hits his Hangman’s DDT and set up for the RKO, he had seen enough, charging the ring, causing a DQ for Orton, and costing Jericho his title shot. For Jericho’s last match for the near future, I perhaps would have liked to have seen a clean finish, but for obvious reasons, Jericho couldn’t win, and a DQ loss is better than a clean loss I suppose. After neutralising the Celtic Warrior, Orton set up for his Punt, with Sheamus only saved by a perfectly timed Codebreaker from Jericho. Obviously this infuriated The Viper, who nailed Jericho with an RKO, and then wheeled his way back for the Punt. Obviously, this is a way of writing Jericho out of TV for while, but also a good potential raison d’etre for Jericho when he returns (which I believe he will). The obvious but flawed story would be Jericho comes back to face Orton, the man that put him on the sidelines. The problem being that Orton has only just turned face and will probably remain so for some time, while Jericho returning will almost certainly be face, and that isn’t likely to work with that sort of storyline. Nonetheless, any sort of return from ‘injury’ is to be well anticipated, and that is especially the case with Jericho (consider the ‘Millenium Countdown’ and the ‘Jericode’!). I doubt anything has been fully planned yet, but I wish him well with his other endevours in the mean time and already can’t wait for his return!

Smack of the Week (24/09/2010): Undertaker ‘Bearing’ Gifts

Paul Bearer, a terrifying sight in his own right and one of the greatest managers the industry has ever seen

Smackdown kicked off this week with perhaps some surprising booking, with World Heavyweight Champion, Kane taking on one-time main event contender but rarely seen, Chris Masters. For what was a match to essentially put over the strength of Kane, I think Masters got a pretty good showing here. There was a time when I had no time for Masters, but I have come to respect him more recently. His main problem, I think, is that ‘the Masterpiece’ doesn’t correlate well with a babyface – though it doesn’t seem to be bringing him any heat to be fair. In this match, Masters got in a lot of offense against a guy who has been seemingly unbeatable of late, and while I never thought that Masters would win, some small bits of doubt crept in when he locked Kane in his Masterlock (a move i’ve always though terrible as a submission, being as it is, just a Full Nelson grip). Masters of course didn’t go over, but he helped tell the in-ring story of being worn down by Kane at the knee well and looked game. I’d like to see more of him in a serious role and give him another chance.

After another great promo from Kane (where he scared a kid in the audience), we had the re-match for the WWE Tag Team Championships. This match was, as you would expect, solid and good (the Harts are great in the ring, but still lack that important charisma). Again, Kidd was the one that looked really good, with his own version of ‘skinning the cat’ and other highly innovative moves. Eventually though, McIntyre and Rhodes retained when McIntyre exposed the steel turnbuckle, launched Kidd in to it and hit a slightly awkward Future Shock DDT for the 1-2-3. I don’t know what will become of the Harts now. Maybe they’ll be put in a programme with an up-and-coming tag team. The only other teams on RAW are Santino and Kozlov, which would be a waste, and the Usos, which they’ve already done, unsuccessfully. Maybe the Dudebusters (who i’ll talk more about momentarily) could get drafter to RAW to take them on?

Speaking of the Dudebusters (a team I have previously criticised as a poor replacement for Edge & Christian), they appear to have turned face as they had a few comic backstage segments with Hornswoggle, eventually ‘packing up’ Vickie Guerrero for Smackdown’s move to SyFy. I have to say, I liked them in the babyface role. They played the pranksters pretty well and didn’t keep harping on about modern teenage sensations like Playstation etc. For that reason alone, I think they deserve another run at the tag titles.

Just before that we saw Christian selling an attack backstage by Alberto Del Rio. As you may know already, this is a legit injury. Christian has torn his pectoral muscle and is expected to be out for some months. This is a terrible shame for Captain Charisma as – as i’ve said in the past – I thought his feud with the rising Del Rio could have rubbed him up to the main event with him. Hopefully that potential is still there, and depending on when Christian returns, he could have a pretty hot feud with Del Rio, who by that time, may already be at the main event. Lord only knows how he performed that later tussle with Del Rio with his injury, selling that Del Rio had, like with Rey Mysterio, broken his arm. Hats off to him! I also liked how Ricardo Rodriguez, Del Rio’s personal ring announcer got involved, holding Christian’s leg so he could be attacked. I thought that added a more valet/manager quality to that character. I wonder who’s next for Del Rio. Probably another upper-middle card babyface. Kofi Kingston would be a good shout, just having come out of his feud with Dolph Ziggler. Anyway, get well soon Christian!

Kaval then had his second match on Smackdown against Chavo Guerrero, who himself has had something of a re-birth in WWE as of late. After losing last week, I was keen to see Kaval go over, though as the commentators continued to talk about Kaval being new to Smackdown and lacking in WWE experience, it became clear that Chavo was winning this one. Both these guys are fantastc wrestlers, and they put on one of the better matches of the night. Chavo really has more to offer than at his current position, as he managed to stay with the quick and agile Kaval, and even match him in high-flying, ring-savvy assaults. Eventually, the wiley veteran managed to go over Kaval with a fantastic Frog Splash. Again, Kaval was not by any means squashed, but i’m not sure where WWE are going with this potential losing streak story. No doubt it will be some sort of hard-work story in which he struggles initially, but fights his was up through the competitors and gains the respect he deserves on Smackdown. That’s absolutely fine with me, as long as he continues to look dogged and relatively strong in his struggles.

Big Show had a pointless handicap match against the Gatecrashers in which he dominated. Lord only knows where he’s going next! As for the Gatecrashers, it was good to see another tag team on TV, but a shame they’re obviously still not deemed worthy of being in the title picture.

The Straight-Edge Society appears to definitely be finished as CM Punk was accosted in his locker room by former S.E.S. disciple, Luke Gallows, who violently informed him that they would be having a match. They had a pretty good match, but that was mainly due to the storyline. Gallows dominated the match, but the ‘cunning’ Punk managed to get the massive Gallows on his shoulders for the Go to Sleep and the victory. Despite the remarkable athleticism of Gallows, he’s never going to contribute to a fantastic match. I think there needs to be a feud here, almost just for posterity. It’ll be good for Gallows, who will get a rub from it, but if i’m honest, I can’t see him lasting long as a singles competitor. To be fair to him though, kudos for managing to break almost seamlessly from Festus in to a serious character. This feud (if it goes ahead) is no good for Punk, especially after that disappointing feud with Big Show, and should be higher up the card and putting on great matches. If he wants to stay heel, I suggest a programme with Kaval. That could be awesome!

Competing with Kaval and Chavo for match of the night was MVP against Intercontinental Champion, Dolph Ziggler. This would have been a great match had it not been for the Vickie-Kaitlyn story at ringside. Not that that made it in any way bad, in fact these two managed to maintain a very high standard and give us a very good match, but the angle distracted from the match somewhat, cutting in to it once or twice. The crowd were really behind MVP and he delivered as the babyface, really taking it to Ziggler with his unique kind of athleticism. Ziggler, to his credit also, played the heel brilliantly, physically decimating MVP whenever in control. Ringside, the story was again of jealousy from Vickie towards her NXT rookie, Kaitlyn. After a particularly brutal ‘drive by’ kick from MVP which sent Ziggler to the outside, Vickie admonished Kaitlyn for trying to help him up, to which Kaitlyn snapped (this presumably being tha back-breaking straw for her) and pushed Vickie over before heading backstage. A humiliated Vickie then followed stoically. This sufficiently distracted Dolph to force him to take his title and go look for his valets backstage, earning a count-out loss in doing so. I don’t know whether this will be sold as a way to have MVP face Ziggler for the championship at Hell in a Cell or later on, but I that title would be a good move for MVP, though it is a little early for Ziggler to drop it.

Throughout the night we had seen clips of a despondent Undertaker backstage, but the final one saw a door open, and a stunned Undertaker stand-up and go in to his trance-like state (y’know, eyes rolled in to the back of his head). Meanwhile, Kane was out cutting another promo, challenging his brother to a Hell in a Cell match. This must be dream booking for WWE; not only is ‘Taker heavily associated with this match anyway, but it is also where Kane debuted, attacking none other than … The Undertaker! All I can say is it’s a shame this (probably) wont be the rubber match as I can’t see how they could stop probably the biggest feud in WWE right now in nine days time. Personally, I would like to see, if not a HIAC match, a buried alive match (if they still feel they can have those under PG) or an inferno match to end this feud. Anyway, Kane had said that he had taken the last of ‘Taker’s ‘Dark Powers’, but this didn’t seem true when the coffin appeared on stage and was taken to ringside, independently of Kane. Kane seemingly expected the Deadman inside, but instead there was PAUL BEARER. I’ve come to love this feud, but if anything could be added to it to take it up another match, it was ‘the Father of Destruction’ himself, especially seen as this will almost certainly be the last time these two will have a storyline together. This was a real throwback to the dark storylines that made Kane but especially the Undertaker so legendary, with Bearer clutching the mysterious, powerful urn. Apparently siding with Undertaker, he and the urn renewed – at least to a degree – the Deadman’s powers as he beat on his little brother, forcing him to flee the ring before assuming his familiar pose of respect as Bearer held the urn aloft. A very powerful and (strangely, perhaps) heart-warming sight to close the last Smackdown on MyNetworkTV.

NXT (21/09/2010): The Divas Getting Punked?

Punk could barely contain himself at the announce table

I don’t know what to say about season 3 of NXT. Either it is as (mostly) bad as it seems, or WWE is doing some sort of angle with it. Maybe, knowing that SyFy wont be carrying it after they start showing Smackdown, they are simply seeing it out and letting the on-air personalities do what they want in the mean time.

CM Punk at the announce table was undoubtedly entertaining. He must be one of the funniest guys in WWE. Countless times he would made sarcastic comments that it was hard not to laugh at. After Kaitlyn hit a pretty impressive spear (to be fair to her), he shouted ‘that’s the darndest spear i’ve ever seen!’ And during the main event, while Layla was facing Jamie, knowing what was coming, he said, ‘if I were Layla i’d pull that flower out of her hair,’ which, of course, he knew Layla was going to do. This was all hilarious, but i’m not sure how good it was for the divas, who themselves mostly knew how bad a lot of the segments were. Indeed, maybe the divas know they’re not under much scrutiny as Naomi said ‘I just want to wrestle.’

This season of NXT was a chance for WWE to produce some really talented female wrestlers that we cared about because we shared some sort of journey with them. Let AJ win an ordinary season of NXT for instance, and she could be a top diva in no time. Also, for divas like Kelly Kelly, who get more chances to speak, it would help improve their standing on WWETV as the old cliché, ‘more than just a pretty face.’

My hope is that this is some sort of angle. If it isn’t i’m surprised how much Punk, Cole and even Matthews have been getting away with, and even more surprised that WWE have been facilitating it (even providing Cole with a gong last week). Here’s what I hope is going on: With WWE probably having to show NXT on WWE.com after Smackdown debuts on SyFy, they no longer necessarily need the more flimsy entertainment aspects of the concept to make it appealing to a TV audience, so they are selling how ‘bad’ the show is currently by characaturing it and mocking it themselves, only for some some sort of official announcement from WWE management to be aired saying that NXT is being pulled from TV and revamped under ‘new management.’ Maybe they’ll make Cole the official NXT GM or something (which would also segway in to him being RAW GM?) and for it’s debut on WWE.com, he’ll make it more ‘watchable’ by ‘refining’ the show to be more about wrestling and star-power alone. Now it seems a little far-fetched even to me, but I do think some sort of angle (if not exactly the one I suggested) is possible, simply due to the behaviour of the on-air talents.

What is clear is, as it is, season 3 is not helping the divas as it should be. If it is just an angle like this, it’s a shame that Smackdown’s move to SyFy has come during the divas edition.

As for this week’s show itself, the action wasn’t even all bad. I can see the logic (just) of the musical chairs challenge, testing agility and timing. It’s a little flimsy, but most challenges have been and i’ve never mined NXT having that unique element.

AJ had an ok match with Maxine in which both showed they can work in the ring at least to the standards of some current divas, and probably above the standards of many.

Talk the talk was probably the ‘worst’ segment. I liked what Jamie and Naomi had to say about wanting to prove themselves in a better way than a talking segment. AJ was pretty good too with her ‘firecracker’ promo. The worst were Aksana and Naomi, both who had nothing to say: Aksana because she couldn’t understand the topic, and Naomi simply because nothing came to mind. Again, i’m not sure how ‘real’ their performances were here, but it made for awkward watching. Speaking of Aksana, it looks as if they’re toying with pulling her from the show due to kayfabe ‘visa issues.’ This could either be a ploy. as I say, to write her off the show (probably because she can’t speak English quite well enough), or it could be a storyline to try and get the fans behind her.

The main event was pretty good too. We didn’t see too much that was special, but everything was solid and it was a simple but well told story about Kaitlyn losing the match, despite the help of LayCool. Again, Kaitlyn was something of a standout, both in the ring and otherwise this week.

So it’s not as if the action is all bad (though some of it is doubtlessly pretty brutal), the ‘problem’ seems to be how it’s treated. As I say, if it’s part of an angle, i’m willing to run with it. If it’s not, it’s easily fixed. Just have one, slightly more serious challenge, and 2-3 matches given decent time per week. Give everyone there some mic time too and you’re on to a winner. It looks like CM Punk will be a regular at the NXT announce table for now, which is good for entertainment value too. We’ll just have to wait and see how the show will be treated and what will happen to it after what I pressume will be it’s last TV showing next week.

RAW Recall (20/09/2010): Cena and Barrett Throw Down Gauntlets

RAW kicked off this week, as you might expect, with an appearance from our new WWE Champion, Randy Orton, looking cheerier than usual, as you might expect. Before he could say anything though, out came vanquished ex-champion, Sheamus, who made some very valid points, namely: that both times he has lost the WWE Championship it has been in matches with five opponents, and secondly, Randy Orton has never beaten him in a one-on-one match for the title. This all pointed to Sheamus receiving his re-match at Hell in a Cell. I said before that this feud was hardly fresh, but it does make sense and seen as HIAC is (ridiculously) only two weeks ago, it should be quickly dispatched, while providing us with some decent television. To cap off the segment, Sheamus bolshily demanded that Orton give him back his title, which Orton did … before nailing him with an RKO.

Our first match saw new WWE Tag Team Champions, Drew McIntyre & Cody Rhodes take on brief contenders to the title, Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov, with the Hart Dynasty at ringside. This was the first Smackdown flavour of the night with the Smackdown superstars now able to appear on RAW. This match was ok, but more of a comic match putting over the strength of Rhodes and McIntyre. What was really notable was how lame the Harts were on commentary. In between non-threatening comments and bad Scottish imitations, even Cole seemed cool next to the Harts. They mentioned (though they had to crowbar it in) that they will be enforcing their re-match clause next week. I can’t see anything great happening to them after that.

Next up we had John Morrison taking on CHRIS JERICHO! (Forgive my bias). Yes, contrary to reports, even from me, it seems Y2J isn’t out of WWE just yet. As I understand it, he will soon be taking time off from WWE, but there are already tentative plans for him further down the line. So for all you like-minded Jerichoholics, don’t despair at never seeing him again and wish him well if and when he takes some time off from the ring. As for the match, it was naturally very good. Jericho was largely putting Morrison over while selling his own complex situation of inner-doubt/turmoil. Nonetheless, this was no squash match, and there was lots of back-and forth between the two. Morrison stillm isn’t 100% consistent in his performances, but he does seem to raise his game when it counts. I don’t know where he’ll go from here, but it was a good win nonetheless.

Daniel Bryan had a nice backstage segment with Edge where he put over his ‘alternative lifestyle’ gimmick, interrupting Edge and asking him to quiet down a little so he could read. While I think the idea behind the gimmick may be a little crass, I understand that in the World of Wrestling, a Vegan Socialist with no TV, that would rather read than talk trash certainly does represent an alternative, and a fresh one at that. I would be a lot more hard on it if he was being portrayed as such as a heel. Anyway, this led to a good match between the two, though one which surprisingly saw Miz on commentary. My thought was that WWE would be dropping their feud, seeing Night of Champions as a satisfying finish for their feud and allowng Miz to focus on being MITB holder, but apparently, that’s not quite the case. After Bryan expertly got Edge into the LaBelle Lock, Alex Riley (Miz’s newly employed assistant) hit the ring to distract and help Edge hit the Spear for the victory. King put this over as it taking three men to defeat Bryan, whi9ch helped him look good, crucually, against a former World Champion, as well as against a future World Champion in the Miz, implicitly suggesting that he could hang at that level. After the anonymous GM further upset Edge by reversing the decision, what followed wasn’t pretty (in a good way) as Miz and Riley beat Bryan voraciously while berating and humiliating him. It is this sort of action that makes WWE so compelling in my view. Surely Bryan will retaliate next week, and so surely it will be Bryan-Miz at Hell in a Cell, meaning that Miz will get beaten again. I’m not sure how wise that is, but this is still a hot feud, so no doubt it will make for a good match and conclusion.

I’ve wished and hoped and prayed that WWE would show some common fucking sense and keep the Women’s Championship as the new unified Women’s title, but apparently the idea of a butterfly-style Divas title is more appealing to WWE. I don’t want to rant here, so all I will say is that it is an absolutely disgraceful act of disrespect to any female wrestler who has ever held that belt, challenged for it, or even wrestled at all. That belt had a lineage dating back to the 50’s. The Divas belt is two years old I think. I was genuinely sickened by what I saw when LayCool came down the ramp as ‘Unified Divas Champions’. Take nothing away from LayCool though, I love their gimmick, and I like the idea of co-champions too. Layla had a decent enough re-match with Melina which showed she was worthy of being the last ever Women’s champion, finishing it, with a little help from McCool, with a devastating flipping stunner sort of move.

Eve and R-Truth again took on Ted DiBiase and Maryse this week, with DiBiase debuting music of his own (there must have been something in the water this week, as Daniel Bryan, quite aptly but amusingly, came out to his new song, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkries). DiBiase has had good entrance music since he debuted on WWE, but his new song, for what it’s worth is horrible and cheesy. As for the match, it was a good enough outing again. All four obviously have talent (Eve’s new neckbreaker finisher is pretty special), but this feud is going nowhere (just think, it was originally Morrison DiBiase was feuding with, but it was so uninspiring, they had no trouble basically substituting Truth in there!), with them just taking each other on each week. What is interesting is this admirer that Maryse seems to have gotten. This could lead to an interesting feud. It depends who it’s against. It could be anyone from a reborn ‘Sexual Chocolate’, to Goldust, to Khali, or a wrestler of a similar level to DiBiase (someone like Ezekiel Jackson would be cool). If it’s not stupid and is a legitimate feud, it will be very good for all concerned.

Our main event saw John Cena take on long-time nemesis, Wade Barrett, or so we thought. Barrett came out and stood on the announce table (which I thought was really cool) and basically told Cena that either he would have to endure a Nexus gauntlet match to meet him, or he would get beaten down, so Cena took the former. With Barrett standing eagle-eyed on the announce table through all the action, John Cena started off against Heath Slater. The match against Slater was pretty good. It got some good time in itself and Slater looked really strong, eventually succumbing to an Attitude Adjustment. Next up was Otunga, who, like Slater, was all over Cena, hitting him with some pretty devestating power moves which Cena could only escape by rolling Otunga for the pinfall. Tarver came next and rabidly beat on Cena for a while with flying punches and kicks in a way he manages to make his own, though he was quickly dispatched with an STF. Finally, Justin Gabriel made his way to the ring. Gabriel surely hugely impressed everyone two weeks ago against Cena, so it is no surprise that this was the main focus of the match-up. Again, Gabriel seemed to have the better of Cena (one criticis of this match would be that it was a little unbelievable how helpless Cena seemed at times). As for Cene, he was proving all his detractors wrong. He pulled out not only a perfect dropkick (like he did less perfectly at Night of Champions), but an exploder-style throw which can now be added to his arsenal. Good on Cena. It’s getting harder and harder for people to say he can’t wrestle. As he was closng in on victory, however, Nexus stormed to ring to make it a no-contest and ‘save’ Barrett. This would have made for an uninspiring closing shot, but fortunat6ely, Barrett and Cena had a big announcement. At Hell in a Cell it will be Barrett-Cena, one-on-one to dictate the future of Nexus. If Barrett wins, Cena joins Nexus; if Cena wins, ‘Nexus is history’. Now, eventhough i’m 95% sure Cena will be winning that match and ending the storied and, at times, fantastic and innovative, Nexus angle, I wouldn’t take it for granted. It may be so predictable that a swerve and a Cena heel-turn could be the result. I’ll save all that kind of speculation for my Hell in a Cell preview, but whatever happens, and however predictable the result may be, i’m sure it will be a very good match with a ‘big fight feel’.

Night of Champions 2010 Review: Orton the Pick of the Pack

Orton, holding his seventh World title aloft

Before I get on to reviewing the matches, I just want to say that this was the best WWE PPV in a long time. It’s when they put out shows like this and Mania that they show they are leagues ahead of the nearest competition.

Dolph Ziggler def. Kofi Kingston to Retain the Intercontinental Championship
This one was perhaps the most predictable of the night, but that didn’t take away from the quality of the action. Early on in their feud, these two had some quality matches before, unfortunately, it got a little stale. This one, however, renewed some of that early chemistry as these two highly athletic superstars put on a long, believable match that was more than worthy of opening the show. As the match went on the story of the stipulation was dealt with well, as Ziggler seemingly had to stop Vickie Guerrero slapping Kofi as she had in the past, before he took advantage of the situation to hit the Zig Zag and earn the win. It seems that the hesitancy of Vickie in slapping Kofi, and Dolph’s in turning back to his opponent was all part of a rouse to draw Kofi in for a loss, which is a nice, subtle bit of storytelling. Importantly, this one will go down as a clean victory, and Dolph will move on to his next contender – with Hardy, Rhodes & McIntyre (as will be later explained) out of the way, a good bet is MVP for that role.

Big Show def. CM Punk
This, as I suspected was the least interesting match of the night. What we saw, however, wasn’t terrible. Punk came out, S.E.S-less and cut another fantastic ‘straight-edge’ promo to draw heat from his home-town crowd. It’s unclear whether the S.E.S. is even still together. As for the match, it was ok but short. Other than a suicide-style senton to the outside from Punk, we saw nothing special here, and Big Show took it with his KO Punch, surely to kill the feud.

Daniel Bryan def. The Miz to Win the United States Championship
This was another predictable but pleasing and correct victory that also provided an excellent match. As I said in my preview, it was important that these two put on a good, long match to show that both are credible as top draws. This was indeed what happened. This was a very well paced match, starting slowly but with good quality and slowly building in pace. Both superstars used their platform well and got in good, high-quality offence, something probably more important for Miz who still (for some reason!) needs to prove himself to certain purists. Riley being at ringside offered another aspect to all of this, but Bryan dispatched him in a sharp believable way to give him the opportunity, one on one, to defeat Miz, eventually with the LaBelle Lock. Miz took a while to tap, and didn’t look too weak himself. No doubt from now on the concentration will be on his MITB opportunity, so expect a re-match and loss for the Miz on RAW to get his association with the US title out of the way sooner rather than later.

Michelle McCool def. Melina to Become the Unified Women’s Champion
For those that read my preview, you’ll know that while I knew this was a possibility, it wasn’t my favoured outcome for this match. Nonetheless, while it was among the shorter matches on the card, I felt the divas were given ample time to show off their skills, and did so in a very good match. Melina and Michelle are among the better wrestlers in the lucky dip pot that is contemporary televised female wrestling, so they could, indeed, be trusted to put on a good match. They did this, with tough bumps, good chemistry and believable near-falls. The real story was on Layla and the other ‘lumberjills’ though. Layla was at ringside looking huffy while the other lumberjills, understandable, were acting with great bias against the bully, Michelle McCool. Unfortunately for them, they got too involved in their battles to notice Layla sneak in, attack Melina and distract her sufficiently for a McCool victory. That in itself was very strong storytelling, and the ending of the match was well realised. It remains to be seen what happens from here, but as long as they keep the Women’s Championship, i’ll be happy!

Kane def. The Undertaker to Retain the World Heavyweight Championship
I’m sure there were many that breathed a huge sigh of relief when Kane won this match. I know I did. This is no disrespect to the Undertaker, but I had no interest in seeing him return and get back the world title straight away, yet again. This was another high calibre match, and the No Holds Barred stipulation was apt. The animosity was clear straight away as ‘Taker went after Kane before he’d even reached the ring, beating his brother and going so far as to throw him off the stage. As is only right in these sorts of matches, there was a lot of great back and forth, with both men using their environment well, another example being when ‘Taker leaped over the time keeper’s barricade, Wrestlemania-style, onto his brother. Later on and back in the ring, it looked like the Deadman was back, choke-slamming Kane and setting up for his Tombstone. However, both showed great strength and athleticism (given their sheer size and age) to have Kane reverse ‘Taker’s Tombstone in to his own, drop him and earn the clean victory. The crowd seemed legitimately stunned at this, which is testement to the quality of the drama on show.

Drew McIntyre & Cody Rhodes def. Mark Henry & Evan Bourne, The Usos, Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov, and the Hart Dynasty to Win the WWE Tag Team Championships
My hope for this match was to see the Hart’s retain the tag titles one more time, and I thought that would actually happen, despite the chaotic ‘Tag Team Turmoil’ stipulation, as a means of making them look strong. Of course, this was quelled as soon as the Uso’s defeated the Harts first. Again, though, kudos must go to Tyson Kidd, who hit a fantastic springboard moonsault to the outside on the Usos before being eliminated. Next on the gauntlet were Santino and Kozlov, and after a brielf but impressive flurry from the Comic tag team, they were eliminated too. The Usos then fell victim to the strangest pairing of the night: Evan Bourne & Mark Henry after a World’s Strongest Slam. As you can probably tell, I didn’t much like this team, but I suppose it was good for Bourne to get some PPV time. Finally, out came Drew and Cody, and in retrospect, it was clear they were going to take the titles after their Smackdown victory. I was, at the time though, worried that WWE might want to give Bourne something meaningful to do (which in itself, I would welcome) and give him the tag belts (which I wouldn’t welcome, with Mark Henry. Eventually, however, Rhodes won it with Cross-Rhodes to take the victory and become a three-time tag champion. This wasn’t my favourite match of the night, but I do like gauntlet matches, and the chaos was sufficiently well performed as to make it exciting viewing. I would, however, have liked to have seen the Harts make it to the end and then get beat. That would have set up a good feud with Rhodes and McIntyre, though i’m sure we’ll be seeing an invoking of the re-match clause for Hell in a Cell. As for Rhodes and McIntyre themselves, i’m not sure it’s that positive a step (as I mentioned, Rhodes has been tag champ before), but if it gives them something meaningful to do, it’s hard not to support the decision.

Randy Orton def. Sheamus, Wade Barrett, John Cena, Edge and Chris Jericho to become WWE Champion.
Before I say anything that may be bad about this match or it’s outcome, I want to say that it was a fantastic match, and one of the best main events we’ve seen in a long time. The early shocker was that Chris Jericho was eliminated in a couple of minutes. Now, i’m probably going to write something separate about this later, but it is being strongly rumoured that this would be Jericho’s final appearance with WWE. If it is, then his acting and reaction to his elimination shows how much he will be missed. Not only that but the shock in the arena and among the other combatants was very telling as to the talent of Jericho. Indeed, in retrospect, their watching him back to backstage seemed almost like a respectful send-off. If it is, I hope it wont be a permanent one. Moving on, we had a long chunk of the match where, again, there was a lot of chaotic (but in a good, rather than a confusing way) action, with, characteristically, alliances being made and broken in a heartbeat. It is clear why these guys are considered the pinnacle of the industry when they can put out a good ten minutes of chaotic but entertaining wrestling without another elimination. The man to break the duck was Edge, who after a series of great finishers and reversals, fell victim to Cena’s Attitude Adjustment. At this point, Cena managed to get Sheamus in to his STF submission hold, and after he dragged the Celtic Warrior to the centre of the ring, anyone would have bet on him tapping, but Sheamus, with some of the best acting i’ve seen in that sort of situation, stopped himself from wanting desperately to tap, and managed to drag himself to the ropes. At this point, Cena again became the target of Nexus, who had stormed the ring to help their leader, Wade Barrett. Their attack gave Barrett the chance to hit his Wasteland for the victory. A furious and indignant Cena then went wild, attacking Nexus with a chair, and along with Randy Orton, wiping them out completely, as well as Barrett’s advantage. Without his allies, Barrett would later fall victim to an RKO and elimination, leaving just Orton and (rightfully so), the champion, Sheamus. Sheamus had been outside teh ring after escaping the STF, and blindsided Orton with a Brogue Kick. I thought and hoped for a 1-2-3 at this point. With about seven minutes left, it left ample time for an attack, perhaps by a bitter Jericho, and a Miz entrance and victory for the WWE Championship having cashed in his MITB opportunity. Instead, Orton kicked out! Many were shocked as it could have gone either way, making for a very entertaining near-fall. A frustrated Sheamus set up Orton for his Celtic Cross (?) powerbomb and again I had thoughts of the Miz, but Orton slithered out of it and managed to start a flurry that ended in an RKO and a new WWE Champion. Even at this point – though it would have been much less worthy timing – I thought we might hear Miz’s music, but as time and the replays went on, this became an impossibility. I think I said in my preview that I didn’t understand the need to put the belt on Orton right now, and also that if Miz was to lose a championship, he’d need something big (like an MITB cashing-in) to keep up his credibility as a top guy. Now, as for Orton, he’s certainly a great champion, and no doubt he’ll go into a compelling feud as such (though we have seen him take on Sheamus – his most likely opponent (via his re-match clause) – twice for the championship already). As for Miz, i’m sure they’ll have us forget about this loss as quickly as possible, while him being just MITB holder gives him a focus as top and a platform to further build himself as credible at that level, so it’s not all bad, just not how I would necessarily have done it.

As I have said, this was one of the finest PPV’s from anyone in a long time. Every match (even CM Punk vs Big Show) was at the very least, watchable, and at best, supreme. I said it had to deliver in four matches in particular: the US title match, the Women’s Championship Unification match, the World Title match, and the WWE championship match, and on every one – though perhaps to differing degrees, they did so. Kane and Bryan winning were especially crucial to the success of this PPV, which of course happened. It’ll be interesting to see what happens from here going into Hell in a Cell which is only two weeks away (I’d rather see them drop a PPV than have such a short build-up for one) so no doubt we’ll have feuds hotting up straight away on this week’s RAW and Smackdown.

Night of Champions Preview and Predictions, 2010

Night of Champions 2010, Chicago, Illinois, Sunday September 19

I think this PPV, more than a lot of others, will have a lot of closure and new openings, so to speak, but I will talk more about this when discussing the individual matches. Personally, I am looking forward to this PPV very much, and I expect at least five of the (at least) seven matches to be entertaining and interesting.

1) The Big Show vs CM Punk
That statement, does not, however, apply to the first match I believe will take place on the night: CM Punk vs The Big Show. Regular readers will know i’ve been very down on this feud, not because of the competitors necessarily, but because of the lack of chemistry they have. I’ve also not been a fan of them wrestling, in a non-title match at Night of Champions. As for the match, with a veteran like Show in there, and a master like Punk, it wont be bad, but their lack of chemistry means that it wont be good either. The break up of the S.E.S. was hinted at on Smackdown, so I think this will be the main story of the night. Punk will tell Gallows and Mercury to stay backstage, but at some point, they’ll come out to help their leader and somehow cost him the match, leading to the beginning of the end for the S.E.S. If that happens, it could save some interest in this match, as it would have genuinely interesting implications. As I said, I can see a lot of feuds ending on Sunday, and this is one of them. I really can’t see how they could stretch it out any longer.

Winner: The Big Show

2) Intercontinental Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs Kofi Kingston
This should be a pretty good match as these two have shown flashes of chemistry as they have fought recently. Usually, the sort of stipulation that Dolph has against him (i.e. if he is disqualified of counted-out, he loses the title) would point to a loss for him, but on this occasion, I don’t think so. This is another feud I see coming to an end, as it has been going on and losing steam for some time now. A clean Ziggler win would make him look very credible as a champion while ending any claim from Kingston to the title. Indeed, there would be little point, it seems to me, in putting the title back on Kofi. I also think Ziggler may not even allow Vickie Guerrero to be at ringside and may send her back or leave her behind from he start.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

3) WWE Tag Team Championships Match: The Hart Dynasty (c) vs Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes (?)
We do know that, of course, the WWE Tag Team Championships will be defended on Sunday, but we’re yet to know officially who against. The best bets are obviously Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes, who gained a pinfall victory against the Harts in an excellent match on Smackdown. Despite the soaring status of McIntyre and Rhodes, I think this will go to the Harts – partly because they only just got the new belts, and partly because I can’t see WWE wanting to put Rhodes and McIntyre in a long-term tag team. That would seem like a backwards step for them. I think this is just a way for Rhodes and McIntyre (both major stars but between feuds) to make the PPV.

Winners: The Hart Dynasty

4) United States Championship Match: The Miz (c) vs Daniel Bryan
This is many ways one of the most intriguing match of the night. This feud has been brewing, really, since the start of the NXT concept seven months ago. Intriguing also because of Miz’s position in the company. Everything tells us that Bryan (a potential future main-eventer in his own right) should go over in this match: the length and heat of the feud culminating in Bryan finally succeeding, it could seriously hurt Bryan not to win, and the fact that with Miz as the current MITB holder, the US title has been reduced to mere arm-candy. However, a Miz loss doesn’t correlate with the next brand new WWE Champion, it stems his rise. There are two options then: Miz wins by some exraordinary act of cheating – or an act of a bitter Nexus – to add further fuel to the rivalry (and probably leading to a No-DQ match at HITC); or, Bryan does go over. I’m plumping right now for a Bryan victory. It just seems right. I’ll add extra credibility to this later on in the post. Nonetheless, this one could steal the show. I have no doubt it will be one of the longest matches of the night as WWE will want to show off both guys as having huge big-stage potential.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

5) World Heavyweight Championship Match: Kane (c) vs The Undertaker
In many ways this could, and probably should be Sunday’s main event, but for reasons i’ll explain later, I think the WWE Championship match will be the main event; and I think the two world title matches will be split up. This will be the first major test of ‘Taker’s ability to still ‘go’ in the ring, which is probably why it’s a No Holds Barred match (to keep away from the technicality a bit more). All I can say is i’m sure this will be an absolute war. I can see a lot of action involving the lights and a fight over their brotherly ‘dark powers’. Personally, i’d love to see Paul Bearer make a return, though i’m not sure that would be deemed credible for this feud. The past has almost always seen ‘Taker return from an injury or angle and, within weeks, be back at the top of the mountain. This feud, however, does seem legitimately different, and I don’t think it will be that easy for ‘Taker. In fact, what I want to see is Kane retaining the title – and I think there’s a decent chance of it happening. This is made problematic by the fact that Kane has consistently dominated his brother since he made his return, and wrestle-logic  would usually point, then, to an Undertaker win. I think the iconoclasm of this feud wins over though, and Kane will win, but with ‘Taker coming back for another shot in what would be a mouth-watering HIAC main event.

Winner: Kane

6) Women’s/Divas Championship Unification Match: Melina (Divas Champion) vs Michelle McCool (Co-Women’s Champion)
I want to say, before anything else, that the winner of this match had better keep the Women’s Championship as opposed to the Divas Championship. It would simply be ridiculous and disrespectful to keep the Divas Championship over the Women’s. Now, there are two very clear but distinct possible ending for this match, and both end with the split of LayCool. The one i’m falling on the side of is this: Michelle McCool, without the help of Layla, will lose the title(s) to Melina, meaning that Layla, who originally won the belt, will have lost it, without getting pinned, because of Michelle McCool’s greed and selfishness – leading to the end of LayCool, a Layla face-turn, a red-hot feud between Layla and Michelle (considering their history) and a Layla-Kaval relationship. The main reason I find this most likely is because Melina wont be losing a title so soon after winning it. The other option is for Michelle to win and keep the title for herself, and i’m sure you can work it out from there. I suppose, conceivably, Michelle could win and let Layla share, but that would seem like a bit of a back-track from Smackdown; or it could be a LayCool rouse, and Layla will help Michelle in the match. As I say though, the best option (in my opinion) and the one that would create the best drame would be the first one.

Winner: Melina

7) WWE Championship 6-Pack Challenge: Sheamus (c) vs John Cena vs Randy Orton vs Chris Jericho vs Edge vs Wade Barrett
There’s no denying the star-power in this match, and if everyone delivers, it could be one for the ages. As for who will win, I think this match, with it’s five-fold jeopardy, allows the biggest chance of a title change – though that’s not to say it will change hands. I feel I can go ahead and rule out Edge and John Cena. Other than some sort of swerve, either of thos men winning doesn’t make too much sense to me. I also feel I can rule out, though less surely, Randy Orton. I have no doubt that Orton will be champions sometime soon, but this match provides the sort of environment where even the most dominant can be quelled. I actually think, funnily enough because of his dominance, he will be the first to be eliminated, and it will be done with everyone hitting their finisher on him, lets say a Codebreaker into a Brogue Kick, into a Spear, into an Attitude Adjustment into a Wasteland. That way he can go down without looking weak. So now we’re down to three: Sheamus, Wade Barrett and Chris Jericho. I think Sheamus will be in the final show-down, so who would meet him? This depends on whether they sell or drop the Chris Jericho quitting WWE if he doesn’t win angle (in fact, an awful lot depends on that), but I can see it being Jericho against Sheamus in a mini Title vs Career match. For Sheamus to win, either Jericho is taking a break from WWE, or they will gloss over the angle, otherwise, Jericho will win. But there is yet another x-factor (so to speak) here. Earlier, I siad I believed Miz will lose his US Championship match on Sunday. So how does he keep his credibility? By cashing in his MITB briefcase of course! After a gruelling match like this, it would be the perfect time! This is important because it means Chris could win the title ‘for a cup of coffee’ (aka ‘a very short time’ to those that don’t recognise that terminology), stay in the WWE, but not necessarily have to be champion. Sheamus, however, would be the most note-worthy person for Miz to cash in on. Remember when he first won the briefcase and became Sheamus’s ‘celebrity stalker’? It has since been quietly forgotten about, but now could be the time for Miz to remember. This is very difficult to call, but I do believe Jericho will be taking some time off (and wouldn’t appreciate a cup of coffee reign to keep him in the company), so I think Sheamus will win the match clean and be presented as a strong champion, only for his stalking nemesis to take advantage after a bitter Jericho, having to quit, attacks Sheamus after the match with a Codebreaker and maybe a chair. And it is that sort of finish which earns this match the main event status.

Winner: Sheamus, but New WWE Champion: The Miz

This is shaping up to be a very good PPV, as long as the most important matches – the World Title matches, the US title match and the Divas Unification match – delivers and we have a good and shocking end.