King of the Ring Preview and Prediction

The line up for this Monday's King of the Ring

The line up for this years King of the Ring is very agreeable. Sheamus in a sense provides credibility (as a former WWE Champion) while the rest are all promising up-and-comers and potentially future world champions. I’ll keep this brief, i’ll go through each participant and state their chances of winning, before saying who I think should win.

Sheamus: Sheamus is definitely fearsome, but he wont be winning King of the Ring. In fact, he is least favourite because of his sudden and maintained rise to the top. Basically, giving Sheamus the KotR crown is a waste of the title and tool for talent progression. He might even make it as far as the final, but only to make whoever beats him seem all the stronger.

Daniel Bryan: If he wasn’t having such an impressive run as United States Champion, Bryan would be one of the favourites. But making Bryan King of the Ring while he’s got the US title seems, again, like a waste of the honour. Bryan is incredibly over and has lots of potential future programmes. Quite simply, he doesn’t need it.

John Morrison: From this point it gets harder to predict. The six remaining men could all very easily win. It seems to me like John Morrison’s star is on the (admittedly modestly paced) rise given his current feud with Sheamus. Being King of the Ring would definitely put him very close to being a credible main eventer. Saying that, his feud with Sheamus is in it’s relative infancy, and doesn’t requite this tangent for it to progress. I imagine this will be a tool to progress it (e.g. each man costing the other their KotR opportunity).

Kofi Kingston: Kofi seems to have less momentum behind him and is perhaps getting a little stale. Of course, this might be reason to bestow on him the KotR crown, but I think they will hesitate as his current character would need some sort of tweak if he was going to hold the crown in any sort of interesting way.

Cody Rhodes: Cody could do a lot as KotR. It would obviously well suit his arrogant persona, and out of everybody, he would potentially sport the gimmick in the best way (his rival for that being Alberto Del Rio). Saying this, his gimmick seems to still be hot, and for reasons i’ll go on to explain, the others are simply a little more probable as winners.

Alberto Del Rio: Alberto’s gimmick, as aristocracy descended from a royal bloodline obviously fits this competition well, and he would sport the gimmick very well. My only hesitation in making Del Rio the winner is that he’s arguably already very close to main event level; after all, on his debut, he took on Rey Mysterio and has since taken on (and beaten) other main eventers. Like some of the others, though he would suit it, he probably doesn’t need it.

Drew McIntyre: Drew will, at some point, be a world champion. Of this I have no doubt, but he seems to have stalled lately in that position just beneath the main event, and hasn’t been able to progress. His gimmick, or rather simply his nationality, makes him a fitting choice to become ‘royalty.’ Indeed, Striker talked about him being the latest in a long line of Scottish kings. There is doubt for me that this honour would make him a credible main eventer right away, and would allow him to legitimately demand a title shot for instance. For these reasons, he is my second favourite, behind only …

Ezekiel Jackson: It’s clear that Big Zeke is being tested as a ‘next big thing.’ But until now he has been simply squashing opponents. This makes sense for a time, but eventually you need to move on, and this might be his way of progressing. It would basically give him something interesting to do and make any push he receives much more credible. He does need, more so than any other participant, something like this to move to the next level, and this is why I think he will win.

I think ‘Big Zeke’ will win, but I would prefer that he didn’t. As I argued, Ezekiel needs something like this because he hasn’t made enough of an impression yet, but, to me, that’s a reason to withhold the honour for now. He hasn’t impressed in the ring particularly, and is barely over as a face. He needs to prove himself as a credible top guy before he’s pushed, and to give him this prestigious title with the possibility that he fails it is potentially short-sighted while diminishing the reputation of King of the Ring. Let him have a feud or two, and if you want to push him, do so another way, or wait until next year. Instead, I would like my second-favourite, Drew McIntyre to win. Firstly, because as a Scotsman, i’m proud to see him doing so well, but more so because he’s proved himself as capable of being a top guy, and he could do a lot with the honour. For the record, if it can’t be McIntyre, i’d like to see Rhodes take it.

UPDATE:

The brackets have been announced, and they’re very interesting!

Match 1: John Morrison vs Cody Rhodes
Match 2: Daniel Bryan vs Alberto Del Rio
Match 3: Ezekiel Jackson vs Drew McIntyre
Match 4: Sheamus vs Kofi Kingston

Semi-final 1: Winners of matches 1 and 2
Semi-final 2: Winners of matches 3 and 4

The first thing that I noticed was that my two top picks take on each other in the third quarter-final – so my first update is that I predict the winner of Match 3 will go on to win King of the Ring!

The second thing I noticed is the immediate possibility of a McIntyre-Sheamus match that would be mouth-watering for various reasons, though probably unlikely as it would necessitate an early bath for ‘Big Zeke’

The third thing I noticed was that WWE (in full cross-promotion mode) have booked every match as Smackdown vs RAW, so there’s a chance that will continue throughout the competition, making for an even more unique main event.

I also noted the possibility of a reprise of the Sheamus-Daniel Bryan conflict in the final, though it’s highly unlikely to happen seen as they were my two bottom favourites. Anyway, WHY NOT, i’ll go and predict the entire progression of the tournament! More likely is the reigniting of the Sheamus-Morrison feud.

Match 1: Very difficult to pick. Because I think they’ll continue to go with Smackdown vs RAW matches, and Del Rio will probably progress, I expect to see JOHN MORRISON win. Cody could also do with it though.

Match 2: ALBERTO DEL RIO will progress. It should be one hell of a match, but expect to see some cheating at the end. Bryan aint goin’ down clean.

Match 3: Whoever wins this will/should win KotR. I picked EZEKIEL JACKSON as my favourite though, so there he is. It seems more likely especially now. He wont be going down in the first round, that would be crushing to his push.

Match 4: Simply based on my Smackdown vs RAW theory, and though I would otherwise pick Sheamus here, i’m picking Kofi to upset Sheamus. Good for Kofi too.

Semi-final 1: John Morrison vs Alberto Del Rio. This one is almost solely based on my Smackdown vs RAW theory, but anyway, Morrison will be game, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see ALBERTO DEL RIO cheat again for the win. Maybe an angry Sheamus will cost Morrison the match, re-igniting their feud that way.

Semi-final 2: Ezekiel Jackson vs Kofi Kingston. This will be an interesting match of speed vs power that seems appealing to me. But EZEKIEL JACKSON’S my pick, so that’s who i’m backing.

Final: Alberto Del Rio vs Ezekiel Jackson: The booking would be very tidy: Smackdown vs RAW, Face vs Heel. The announcers would bill it as Del Rio being the favourite, but after all that predicted cheating, Ricardo Rodriguez will be banned from ringside, and Del Rio will be left to fend for himself. Though I don’t necessarily like it, the winner would probably be EZEKIEL JACKSON.

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Smack of the Week (26/11/2010): Kings in Waiting

The competitors in this week's King of the Ring qualifiers

 

This week’s show opened basically where it lest off last week, with Edge toying with both Kane and Paul Bearer. This of course went on through the night, but i’m starting to dislike the angle, so i’ll talk about it all in a oner. The main problem with the angle is that it is starting to get goofy. Surely there are only so many threats and traps Edge can set for Kane to get him upset/angry, and if if this is what the TLC build-up is going to be, we have three weeks of it left. Surely they can’t continue with the idea past next week though! It’s a shame too because the idea of Paul Bearer’s kidnapping affecting Kane is interesting, and a lot of the set-pieces have been disturbing (in a good way). It’s just starting to wear a little thin, and I think we are cracking Kane’s monstrous veneer a little too much considering the dominance he has had of late.

The first King of the Ring qualifier of the night saw Kofi Kingston take on Jack Swagger. There was instant interest in this match as either man could feasibly progress (and become king), so it was genuinely unpredictable. It was a very long match, and not always thrilling as a prominent story was of the calculating Swagger grounding the chaotic style of Kofi Kingston. Swagger looked very strong, at one point apparently having dominated Kofi so much, Kingston was almost out on his feet, at one point, almost collapsing out of the ring. Towards the end of the contest, it became more equal, with both men trading momentum. Swagger tried to end it with his Vader Bomb, only to be countered by Kofi in to Trouble in Paradise for the victory. A good match, but I would have preferred Swagger to have progressed. I will talk about King of the Ring, however, seperately in another post.

In a match of main event booking, the next qualifier saw Alberto Del Rio take on the Big Show. This was an enjoyable match, as Del Rio put on a show of trying to wrestle down the bigger man. He looked very impressive sticking-and-running against the Giant, consistently managing to drive him to his knees or to the canvas completely. An especially well thought out moment came when Del Rio attempted his cross-armbreaker on an already downed Big Show, only for it to be reversed in to a back drop. Thankfully, Del Rio managed to find a way to beat Show, after his personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez managed to distract Show enough to cause a count out. I say ‘thankfully,’ not because I dislike the Big Show, but because I feel his character has gotten stale ever since he became a ‘comedian’ and he certainly had no need to be in the running for King of the Ring.

The third qualifier saw Drew McIntyre take on MVP. Personally, I think both guys should have been in different matches and allowed to progress, but it’s clear there simply wasn’t enough room. This was an excellent match and probably the best match of the night as both men played their respective roles in the match superbly, based, as it was, around a determined MVP with a severely injured arm and a sadistic McIntyre using it to his advantage. It all started with a trademark use of the steel stairs from McIntyre as he stamped on MVP’s arm resting on it. From this point on, he would battle valiantly against McIntyre and give him a very good match before finally being snuffed out by the ‘Sinister Scotsman.’ MVP sold his injury very well (apart from the final conceit of it giving out and causing him to hit his head on the turnbuckle in to a waiting Future Shock DDT) throughout the match, showing the practical ways that sort of injury might affect a wrestler (rather than just wincing everytime it got specifically hit). McIntyre, who played the almost psychopathic aggressor, deserves to be in the competition, I just hope MVP, who has been on something  of a push lately, has something else to move in to and grow.

It looks as though LayCool aren’t necessarily getting a Divas title rematch after this week saw them continue their feud with the returning Beth Phoenix, who appeared again after a shock Kelly Kelly victory over Michelle McCool in an ok match. I can see another handicap match in the offing perhaps …

The main event saw Rey Mysterio take on Cody Rhodes for the final spot in next week’s King of the Ring. These two worked very well together I thought, with Rey’s quickness and Cody’s technical and malleable style gelling well. Rhodes was all over Mysterio at the start, hitting him early with a Beautiful Disaster and an Alabama Slam for a believable near fall (especially notable given how early it was in the match). Just in terms of establishment, Rey had to be considered the favourite, so Cody sharing a main event with him was a good rub, and Cody looked very competent against Mysterio, managing to keep a lid on him without dominating him. All the while Alberto Del Rio was at ringside, playing an excellent heel. His comments to the other commentators were nothing special, but just the way he stood in front of the booth with the headphones on made him come across as brilliantly arrogant. It was he that swung the balance in favour of Rhodes, thrusting Mysterio in to a ringpost after Mysterio accidentally hit him with his West Coast Pop. Rhodes took advantage, hitting the Cross-Rhodes and thankfully (for the exact same reasons as concerned Big Show) getting the victory.

With neither Mysterio or Big Show making the King of the Ring cut, there is, rightly,  a collection of great young talent in the brackets for the competition. But i’ll discuss this more in my upcoming King of the Ring post.

NXT: AJ’s Elimination and Who Should Win Season 3

Arguably the favourite to win NXT, AJ was eliminated in the penultimate week

A few weeks ago, I stopped posting about NXT, not because it’s bad, or the wrestling (well some of the wrestling) is bad, because that’s not the case. It was simply because it has turned in to a comedy show. I still watch every week, and am entertained, but there’s not really the substance to get your teeth in to like there was in the first two seasons.

Anyway, for me, AJ was the absolute stand-out. Naomi is incredibly athletic (not the same necessarily as in-ring prowess by the way), Kaitlyn is very attractive and likeable, but lacks in the ring, but AJ has it all: talent, in-ring prowess, and is very likeable. Those eliminated before this week, with the possible exception of Maxine, just couldn’t cut it in my opinion.

Indeed, I saw AJ as a very good (but still unique) replacement for Mickie James, in the sense that she has all the tools, and has an innate and sincere likeability which could easily make her top-face. She’s also incredibly over with the fans already.

So why was she eliminated? I know half of the vote is meant to be from the WWE Universe, but seen as i’m sure that vote would be largely split between her and Kaitlyn, I can’t see why the WWE side of the bargain would choose her to go. It actually, simply doesn’t make sense, at least not while Naomi (with all due respect) is still in the competition.

There can only be one reason for it then, and if it is the case, it’s pretty surprising: AJ, with all that top face potential, could be turning heel. Given that her ‘pro’, Primo, seems to be billed as a heel (though his NXT stint has weakened that), perhaps she’s going to fall in line with him, continue this romance story, and have a heel programme with someone (for the sake of argument, i’ll suggest Evan Bourne as it would be good for him too). I would like to see this. Both guys need a boost and deserve the TV time. As for AJ, I would suggest that she doesn’t need it, but it could make a good story nonetheless: angry at the rejection of the WWE and the ‘Universe’ AJ turns heel and, along with Primo, try to make a mark on the roster and it’s more popular stars. Maybe eventually, she could be shocked by something Primo does and turn face …

At the very least, we need her on the main roster as soon as season 3 finishes.

As to who should be the winner! Though Naomi is, as everyone says, very athletic, and while she can get very passionate about wrestling and disrespect etc, she is usually incredibly bland as a character. I think the only winner is Kaitlyn. Yes, she’s clearly the inferior wrestler, but she can improve for sure. She has a very good personality and interesting tension with Vickie Guerrero which could be conducive to a good opening storyline. Of course, she would be one of the first on heel-AJ’s list, so to speak. With this in mind though, Kaitlyn is so obvious as the winner that I can see WWE giving it to Naomi as a bit of a swerve. That all, of course, remains to be seen.

RAW Recall (22/11/2010): Welcome to Mizville!

Miz after capturing his first WWE Championship

 

How quickly the focus of the WWE Universe changes. This time yesterday, the fallout of Survivor Series and Cena’s firing was all most people were talking about. Leave it the the Miz to get people talking …

Yesterday, I was wondering how Nexus were going to stay relevant as a force in the WWE. Well, the first segment answered that question, for this Monday night, at least. Barrett came out and employed some classic wrestle-logic by suggesting that referees have never before laid their hands on a competitor like Cena did on Sunday, and for that reason, he should get a re-match. Of course, any one who remembers Earl Hebner’s WWE tenure will remember that this is hardly true even at a cursory glance. It was wrestle-logic well employed though, because the GM granted a rematch, meaning Nexus remained central to proceedings for the night, and seemed like legitimate threats to the WWE title, and therefore, the WWE.

As CM Punk came out to rehab at the announce booth, a lot of the night’s attention then shifted to the return of the King of the Ring concept which will take place next week on RAW. The first qualifier saw Sheamus take on R-Truth; two people who would fit in the tournament, making this match more unpredictable than most ‘qualifier’ type matches are. R-Truth had a decent showing, but the match was all about showing a ‘house of fire’ opened up in Sheamus after losing to John Morrison at Survivor Series. Indeed, the spirited Truth eventually seemed to just be being dragged along the ring, and Sheamus used all of his power moves (including the rarely executed Irish Cross) to go over Truth, despite the fact he could have pinned him before that. Bad for Truth (though that doesn’t really bother me), but good for Sheamus, who needs wins elsewhere if he’s going to put Morrison over. I wont speculate on who will/should win KOTR until all eight participants are announced on Friday.

The next qualifying match was slated to be Ezekiel Jackson against the Miz. When I saw the graphic, I thought “what’s the point of Miz being in KOTR, he doesn’t need to be.” Thankfully, therefore, Alex Riley took his place in the match (cue a joke from Punk regarding Riley’s recent DUI). I haven’t been sure up until now, but it seems they’re selling ‘Big Zeke’ as a babyface, which is fine by me as he seems surprisingly over. I think we need to see him do a little more in the ring though (his match against Riley was little more than another squash victory) and have him in some really good matches, all of which can be obtained by placing him in a good feud; for the sake of argument, let me suggest his ex-associate, William Regal. Like Goldust, Regal doesn’t seem to have too much long left in the ring, and, like Goldust, WWE may provide him with one last TV rivalry. A lot of this one would write itself.

Half-way through the show we saw Cena give his ‘farewell address.’ Some people dislike Cena (myself not included, though I thought his character was stale before this whole Nexus thing), but the one thing no one can take away is his knowledge and his passion for the business. Everything he said in that ring, I believe, was straight from the heart. He was sad but upbeat, he knew he’d stayed true to the business, to the community, and was proud and thankful of it. Cena also showed he is more tuned in with the fans than his detractors suggest, pulling out a cheeky curse-word (has Mae Young single-handedly ended the PG era!) and asking the WWE Universe to use their most sincere chant: “Lets’s go Cena/Cena sucks!” He has managed to refine his character of late. He is more than just a face, and that says a lot about his talent. On his way out, the locker-room, and long-time rival, Randy Orton, all paid respect. The last one to see him out, Wade Barrett, however, wished him good riddance with a mocking ‘you can’t see me’ gesture. It is emblematic of the new stars being made, many of which Cena has helped along.

Back to KOTR qualifying, and Daniel Bryan took on new rival Ted DiBiase. To me, it seemed like a no-brainer to have DiBiase go over. Daniel Bryan, as US champ and shooting star, doesn’t need the KOTR, and a loss after a successful title defence wouldn’t hurt him too much, especially if DiBiase gained it unfairly. The other ‘strory’ from this match was the strange accompaniment of Bryan to the ring of Brie Bella. Not that I particularly disliked it, but I thought the comical ‘ladies man’ idea was over before it begun. Apparently not, and Brie seemed quite taken with the American Dragon. Unfortunately for Bryan, this distracted him for the opening part of the match, and DiBiase didn’t let up for some time. However, Bryan got back in to it and managed to beat DiBiase, again, with the LaBelle Lock. Post match, as Brie was attending to Bryan, Nikki Bella  came out to contest for him. Bryan seemed stunned by it, and respectfully removed himself from the situation. At this, Cole called him a nerd, and for once, I have to agree! Another loss for DiBiase doesn’t seem great for his progression, but in a little preview to my KOTR post, I doubt Bryan will be winning, so expect DiBiase to cost Bryan his KOTR match and set up a US Championship rematch at TLC.

LayCool showed up at the arena only to be turned away. Of course Natalya has to now show up on Smackdown, but it may be a sign that there will be no LayCool rematch. Natalya had a classic sort of post-title victory match against Alicia Fox in which she dispatched her with ease to appear a dominant and deserved champion. All will be more clear for her after Smackdown.

The final KOTR qualification from RAW was determined between John Morrison and Tyson Kidd. Now, it’s good for Kidd that he got TV time, but he came out to generic music and lost, which may be a bad sign. The guy needs a good feud with DH Smith pronto, unless he wants to become a Superstars regular. The match was ok, but given the mutual high-flying skills of both, you might have expected more. I suppose the problem for Kidd is that his sort of almost lucha style isn’t that consistent with being a heel, so he might feel he needs to slow down and be more methodical, or risk not getting over. Neither is desirable. Before the match, Melina gave Morrison a flirtation slap on the ass, so to speak, and it seems rumours that MNM were getting back together may have some founding. As for the match, it was ok. None of the qualifiers were spectacular, as you might expect, but none of them were boring or bad, so there’s not much more to say. Morrison looked strong, which was just as important to him as it was to Sheamus.

Our main event saw Wade Barrett getting his championship rematch against Randy Orton. From this point, we had a rollercoaster of emotions and chaos. Initially, I couldn’t see Barrett winning. What would be the point of that after losing the night before? But then Nexus came out and Orton made a point of seeming debilitated for the title match, so at this point, a title change seems more possible. This match in itself was very good. Barrett played the calculating predator brilliantly while Orton sold his injury well while staying mobile, actually resembling a wounded animal (or viper). His eventual success, with the help of the vengeful Cena, was genuinely inspiring and uplifting. It was at this point that I realised there were seven minutes left in the broadcast. THERE ARE SEVEN MINUTES LEFT! … “AWESOME! … I CAME TO PLAY! …” No matter how many times it is done, a cashing in of MITB will always get everyone sat or stood up, as Punk mentioned the crowd in the arena were. An important aspect of the ensuing title match was that it wasn’t simply a Skull-Crushing Finalé and a three-count. Orton was stood up, and Miz had to actually work (though a lot less so than he usually would have) to overcome the Viper. He spent a fair amount of time working over a game Orton. Indeed, it seemed that the speculation (and hopes) of much of the IWC that Miz would be the first to fail to successfully cash in his MITB contract, may have been realised as Orton set-up for the RKO. However, Miz legitimately out-wrestled Orton with a great reversal in to the Skull-Crushing Finalé for the win. It wasn’t a clean victory, but it was one which suggested, as was essential, that Miz belongs on that stage. I have said recently that I thought Miz needed to wait to cash in, but this was very well executed, and made Miz look more like a credible champion. All of that, along with the almost child-like excitement of MITB made for a brilliant RAW! I imagine Orton will receive a rematch, and a simple one-on-one match would surely end in an Orton victory, so I imagine the cheated Barrett may also lay claim to a spot at TLC. Expect a triple-threat.

Survivor Series Results & Review, 2010: Cena Sacrifices Himself to Do the Right Thing

Cena dutifully hands the WWE Championship to Randy Orton

Daniel Bryan def. Ted DiBiase to Retain the United States Championship
There was something about DiBiase right from the get-go that I liked a lot more than I have since he left Legacy. He’s been too bound up in his father’s image, and it’s hurt him and set his progression as a superstar back. Last night, he looked determined, ruthless and much more interesting. The early going was all about him and the remarkable aggression he showed Bryan, beating him down, picking him up, and beating him down again, including that sickening elbow drop to Bryan’s throat from the turnbuckle. I don’t know whether it was legitimate or not, but during Bryan’s resurgence, he hit a Suicide Dive on to DiBiase where he looked to fall awkwardly on his shoulder. If it was legit, kudos to Bryan for continuing, if not, kudos to both for making it a focal point of the match. DiBiase attacked the arm, and looked like he could beat Bryan, but Bryan eventually won by applying his LaBelle Lock from the other side of DiBiase, keeping his injured shoulder in mind. A very good opener though, and i’d be surprised if it has ended the feud. After the match, the Miz attacked Bryan from behind and cut a promo saying that he was sick of carrying that MITB briefcase around with him, teasing that he may cash it in on the night.

John Morrison def. Sheamus
This was the match I was least looking forward to. I didn’t think the build-up was very good, and I thought (and still kinda think) that Morrison isn’t charismatic enough to provide interesting narratives. The match started slowly, but to their credit, about a third of the way in, it started to pick up. The pace of the match picked up and there was some good back-and-forth, but mostly in Sheamis’s favour. A crucial moment came when Sheamus sweeped Morrison’s legs away when he was (I think) looking for Starship Pain. This started a nice progression involving Morrison’s leg, starting in style with some sort of (and this is my best identification of the move) leg-snapmare, which involved great athleticism from Morrison. Sheamus followed this up with a single-leg Boston crab, which I was really pleased to see as it showed some evolution from Sheamus, incorporating submissions. This still wasn’t enough though, and after Sheamus missed with a Brogue Kick, the resilient Morrison hit his flying chuck before a shining wizard and to pick up the three. A better match than I expected, and a good way to keep Sheamus interested in Morrison for now, though I was surprised to see Sheamus go down without receiving one of Morrison’s finishers.

Dolph Ziggler def. Kaval to Retain the Intercontinental Championship
This was another excellent match, and, as I expected, one that was high-octane and unpredictable. Ziggler’s highly competent mat-skills were never quite enough to contain the World Warrior, who even more than usual, was all over the ring, hitting springboards and flips and kicks whenever he got a moment’s breath. Some particularly special moments were his springboard moonsault on to Ziggler, and his corcscrewing flip into a Warrior’s Way which, unfortunately, Ziggler was able to avoid. It seemed Ziggler just wouldn’t be able to beat Kaval, so he resorted to holding his tights for the pinfall. Though Kaval is a new challenger that lost, that ending means i’m sure Kaval will go on to confront Ziggler and wrestle him again for the title at TLC. I’m putting my order in now for a ladder match. This was a very good match, and add in a ladder, and these two could steal the show.

Survivor Series Match: Team Mysterio def. Team Del Rio with Rey Mysterio and Big Show as Sole-Survivors
As I always say, it’s difficult to really analyse these big ten-man matches – there’s just too much going on in short bursts. That is not to say, however, that quality is lacking, and this Survivor Series match was, to my mind, excellent. The early stand-out was home-town boy, MVP, He had the crowd in the palm of his hand and was besting everything that moved. Though i’m sick of saying it, while your pushing people, WWE, why don’t you push someone who barely needs any pushing (MVP!) Del Rio got himself great heat by cheating MVP out of the match, tripping hm and then holding his feet while Drew McIntyre pinned him. Alberto was playing a fantastic heel indeed, after dispatching Masters with (relative) ease, and seeing Big Show enter the ring, he went to tag in McIntyre before mocking Show right in his face; his wink bringing him a swift Knock-out Punch to take him out of the match. Reks was characteristically powerful but indistinct, taking Show off his feet before getting eliminated without much fanfare. One stand-out was Jack Swagger. He was besting everyone in the ring, finding ingenius ways of grappling his way to an Ankle Lock. It’s obviously rare that faces tap, but Swagger’s determination paid off as Kofi succumbed to the devastating move. Swagger had McIntyre at his side as they took on Rey and Show, and McIntyre stood out too, working well with Swagger and being the last member of Team Del Rio to be pinned. As I say, a great Survivor Series match, though it was a little samey to see Rey and Show as sole-survivors.

Natalya def. LayCool to Become WWE Divas Champion
This was a relatively short but very good and physical match, which seemed to be well received. Natalya managed to handle the two heels in a way which didn’t seem unnatural, largely because of, I assume, the forays to ringside which makes the situation chaotic enough to allow that sort of unlikely dominance. The match progressed in almost the exact way I predicted it, but predictability is not necessarily a bad thing. LayCool are great heels, while most will acknowledge (in kayfabe terms or not) that Nattie deserves the title. It was almost like a right of passage, and so to have it delivered just as you might imagine it, makes it all the sweeter. Post match came a big surprise as Beth Phoenix made her return to save Nattie from the vengeful LayCool before celebrating with Natalya. Some interesting questions came from all this. Firstly, will LayCool stay together? Will they get a re-match? If they do, who will fight for them? Could the decision split them up? A LayCool split would be a genuinely big deal. Secondly, surely Beth Phoenix is interested in the Divas title? And if so, how will that effect her friendship with Nattie? Expect a tag match this Smackdown to provide some answers.

Kane and Edge TIE Allowing Kane to Retain the World Heavyweight Championship
This was, in many ways, an interesting and compelling match. It was a pretty slow one, because the story was based around Edge’s psychology and Kane’s mental state regarding his missing father. The early going was dominated by Edge drawing Kane in and capitalising on the angry champion’s lack of focus. This was obviously countered with some devastating offense from the Big Red Machine as he tried to punish Edge and beat some answers out of him. This was good, but the match wasn’t really action-packed until the very end. Kane, looking dominant, managed a Chokeslam, which provided us with a dramatic near-fall. An infuriated Kane set up for the Tombstone-Piledriver, but Edge escaped and hit a Spear, which seemed to give him the three count. On closer inspection though, both men were covering each other, allowing for a Kane retention. This is usually frustrating at PPVs, but it seemed justified here. Kane got to keep his title while Edge had a reason to stay focused on Kane. No doubt ther’ll be a rematch at TLC, and seen as Edge is involved, it’ll probably be a TLC match. A decent match, and i’m glad Kane kept the title for another month.

Nexus (Slater & Gabriel) def. Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov to Retain the WWE Tag Team Championships
Though predictable and relatively short, this was a neat little match which really played off Nexus’s distinct character. It was also good for the challengers as Santino was made to look stronger than he has in the past (indeed, a badly kept secret being that, in reality, he’s a very talented wrestler) and Kozlov was made to look like a dominant force. They really took it to Nexus, but Slater and Gabriel really performed a fantastic heel tag match, finding ingenius ways to keep te advantage and get in regular cheap shots, as well as their regular (within seconds of each other) tags meaning they can basically double-team for a lot longer. This, and involvement from other Nexus members was eventually too much for the faces to handle, as Nexus went over to retain in a way which showed the group’s strength, a point which was reinforced by their posy-match beat down of the challengers.

Randy Orton def. Wade Barrett to Retain the WWE Championship and John Cena Fired
Yes, this match was big and significant, though not for the reason I expected. The match was pretty good, and a point was made of making Barrett seem like a credible challenger, dominating Orton for the first quarter or so. The real focus was on Cena though, as he continued to call it down the middle. Orton was in the ascendancy towards the middle of the match, making every count very interesting, but again, towards the end, it was Barrett in control, using all sorts of moves: elbow drops, pumphandle slams and even a Wasteland without being able to keep Orton down. This frustrated Barrett who shoved Cena, but Cena, with nothing to lose, shoved Barrett in to an RKO and (though he briefly hesitated) counted the 1-2-3. Now I must say that I wasn’t on the edge of my seat like I was at Hell in the Cell, but I think that’s down to the fact that I so expected Barrett to win, and indeed, when he didn’t, I was surprised. Needless, to say, this isn’t the ideal scenario that I wanted to see, but it was not a bad way to end it. Had Barrett won clean, or had Miz have cashed in, it would have been frustrating, but here, when Cena realised what had happened, the response from the fans, and his connection to them restored was all genuinely emotional, and a testament to Cena’s acting in this storyline. Orton too, did a good job of showing immediate reconciliation with Cena, silently acknowledging the sacrifice Cena had made. There are more questions than answers though. What will become of Nexus? Surely it will be hard to justify another Barrett-Orton title match? It is crucial for them that they continue to make an impact, and I expect them to do something borne of anger on RAW tonight (one idea being they could beat down Orton and help Miz cash in, though I still think it best that he waits until post-Wrestlemania). It is crucial for them that they manage to stay relevant.  The most important question surrounds Cena. For this to be an un-frustrating ending, he needs to either be gone from RAW for a significant amount of time (until, say, Elimination Chamber), or he has to go to Smackdown. I was gunning for a heel-turn, but a switch to the blue brand would be the next best alternative as he would have plenty of opportunities for fresh feuds, e.g. with the likes of Kane, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio. If he comes back to RAW within a month, I will be furious.

Overall, a very good PPV. The main event had to deliver, and largely, it did, pending the fallout from it. There was not one bad match on the card, even considering the shorter ones. Compared to last years outing, it was much better!

Survivor Series Preview and Predictions, 2010

 

Survivor Series, 21/11/2010, from the American Airlines Centre, Miami

The poster says it all in many ways. This PPV has to be shocking in some way. It has been set up in such a way as to make it inevitable, and unlike last year’s outing, one that will be memorable. Indeed, this has the potential to be the biggest, most infamous PPV in years, and for one reason only: the future of John Cena. But more on that when I talk about the main event.

Match 1) WWE Tag Team Championships Match: Nexus (Gabriel & Slater) (c) vs Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov
I think Nexus will start and end the show. Hearing the Nexus music to start out the show is the perfect way to set the tone. Barrett and the rest may all come out for a pre-match promo. I think this one will be intentionally short to get over the strength of the Nexus, but given Kozlov’s size and reputation, they will probably need outside help to achieve that. Expect a later segment where Barrett tells Cena that they all have to work together to achieve the Nexus’ goals, as in the tag match.

Winners: Nexus

Match 2) United States Championship Match: Daniel Bryan (c) vs Ted DiBiase
For the first time, I think Bryan’s reign as US champ may be in jeopardy. In the past it’s been a case of Bryan beating whomever is placed before him. This time, however, it seems that DiBiase could be on a similar run. After his part-comic feud with Goldust, he seems to have come out of his experience hungrier and more ruthless. Of course this is all judging from one attack only (i.e. the one on Bryan on RAW), but the change in DiBiase was unmistakable. As we have come to expect with Bryan (and as DiBiase has potential for, even if he’s never quite shown it fully), this will be a very good match. I’m not sure whether Maryse will play a part or not; it seems to me that DiBiase was on the verge of dumping her. I think this is the start of a programme between the two, but I think it’s too sudden to have DiBiase take the title just yet.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Match 3) Divas Championship Match: LayCool (c) vs Natalya
I think this is the time where Natalya will finally beat LayCool and take her first, very much deserved, Divas Championship. This will probably happen for a couple of reasons. Firstly, every match-up and outcome between them has been exhausted, and secondly because the almost insurmountable odds for Natalya probably works in her symbolic favour. The story is quite easy to imagine. Natalya will take a big-time beating initially, but during a surge for Nattie, LayCool will accidentally hurt each other, allowing Natalya to take the victory. As for LayCool, it might necessitate a split – after all, who will get the statutory re-match? Saying that, LayCool are so successful still, that they may find a way of staying together for now.

Winner: Natalya

Match 4) Intercontinental Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs Kaval
Like the United States Championship match, this is another tight one to call, and for the same reason; Dolph has been very strong of late whereas Kaval hasn’t been in the title picture until suddenly, two days ago. However, there are slight differences: firstly, Kaval actually beat Ziggler in the ring as opposed to ‘beat’ing him down, but more importantly, Kaval is ‘cashing in’ his statutory title match. The conventions of that sort of privilege usually end with the challenger taking the title. This could be another excellent match (and it’s important for Kaval to have one) as they are both great wrestlers, while Ziggler has proven himself against Bryan, another smaller guy with a Japanese-esque style. Kaval will provide a more high-octane opponent (though perhaps a, slightly, less technically gifted one) which is conducive to a dramatic and unpredictable match, and in the end, will take the shock victory. After all, he wouldn’t be breaking that losing streak, just to lose again.

Winner: Kaval

Match 5) Sheamus vs John Morrison
To be honest, this is the match which least interests me. I like Sheamus and i’m warming to Morrison as being towards that level, but I just think the build-up for this match has been a little tame. Sheamus is doing his part, but Morrison still doesn’t have the charisma or mic skills to make a really compelling story. I’m sure it will be a good match though, and probably one that gets a lot of time. I think a Sheamus victory wouldn’t make any sense. Why all this if Sheamus is just going to win. It wouldn’t do much to spark off a full-blown feud like a shock (as it would be) Morrison victory would. Therefore, I expect a Morrison victory, perhaps after a roll-up (though that would detract somewhat from the victory.

Winner: John Morrison

Match 6) World Heavyweight Championship Match: Kane (c) vs Edge
A very good job has been made of  building this match up, and though, as I mentioned in my Smackdown review,  i’m less keen on Edge’s reprise of his meniacal side, there is no doubt that a sense of genuine hatred has been established between these two. What you can expect from these two veterans is a well thought out match, and one with high drama as regards the end of the match. A crucial factor will be the role played (or not played) by Paul Bearer. Will he even be there? If not, how will that affect Kane? Could Bearer turn on Kane? If Undertaker is approaching his last run, maybe Paul will be returning to his side. As to the result of the match, partly because of the result i’ll be predicting in the main event, but mostly because of the nature of Kane’s reign, I see Kane retaining. I don’t see the point of giving the title to Edge and stop Kane’s seemingly unstoppable run. I think Kane will be keeping the title until the Royal Rumble at least, and continue to seem unbeatable.

Winner: Kane

Match 7) Smackdown Survivor Series Match (Team Mysterio: Rey Mysterio, MVP, Big Show, Kofi Kingston & Chris Masters vs Team Del Rio: Alberto Del Rio, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Cody Rhodes & Tyler Reks)
The two team captains have a good degree of ‘beef’ with each other, and with the addition of MVP, there is genuine interest in who wins between the two teams. I’m pretty sure the faces will be going over here, as MVP and Kofi Kingston especially could do with the spotlight that ‘surviving’ this match would bring, while the recently split Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes will doubtlessly be on different pages, Del Rio has proved himself no team player. I expect, given the build-up, to see MVP and Rey Mysterio as sole-survivors.

Winners: Team Mysterio

Match 8) WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton (c) vs Wade Barrett (John Cena, Special Guest Referee)
There is so much to say about this match i’m almost hesitant to begin. This match will be just as nerve-wracking (and probably more so) than the classic Cena-Barrett match from Hell in the Cell. The first thing to say is that it’s almost a given that Wade Barrett will be the new WWE Champion. John Cena is not getting fired (unless, in the lamest kop-out in wrestling history, Cena ‘does the right thing,’ is fired, and is brought back in quick measure). I’d like to see Nexus make it as difficult as possible for Cena too. Have them come to the ring, interfere and dare him to disqualify Barrett. No doubt he’ll find diplomatic ways to deal with such situations. The moment of truth will come, as you might expect, towards the end of the match. I am among the hoards of people begging for a Cena heel turn, and on Sunday, I believe, one way or another, will turn that way. The most shocking way of achieving this would be for Barrett to enter the ring with the belt or a chair and Cena to appear as if he wants to stop him before turning round and striking Orton with the weapon and counting the pinfall for Barrett’s victory. That would make my year, and the year of many others. Another year-making event would be the more slightly more subtle turn of Cena counting the three before cracking a smile and shaking Barrett’s hand. Even if Cena’s heel-turn is unrelated to Nexus though, it could still happen. Imagine he counts the three but follows his word of beating down Barrett. In the following weeks he’ll be getting heat from fans and the other wrestlers that he’ll be driven to snap and turn heel. There has been lots of talk of Miz cashing in his MITB opportunity – that will not happen. I still think he needs a big feud with a main-eventer (someone like Triple H or Orton) to get over at that level. Him cashing in would distract from what has happened already and be a bit of an overload.  Whatever happens, this will be one of the most compelling matches in recent WWE history, and could be one of the very most important and iconic matches in WWE history.

Winner: Wade Barrett

Here is the moving promo for the match, to get you in the mood:


WWE ‘Black Friday’ – Six Releases … So Far

Shad was arguably the most high-profile of those released

Earlier this evening I posted on Shad Gaspard’s release from WWE, which surprised me a great deal. As I said in that post, I beliveved Shad was being repackaged for a push. Evidently, it hasn’t worked out. Subsequently, there have been five further releases: Luke Gallows, Vance Archer, Caylen Croft, Tiffany and Jillian Hall.

Shad, given a bit more in-ring training and a new persona, could have had success in WWE. Cryme Tyme had definitely run it’s course, and the gimmick on Shad doesn’t suit him as an individual, like it does JTG. For instance, I saw a potential pairing with Ezekiel Jackson; though it would have meant another tag team, they could have been dominant and really gotten over (probably as heels). Saying this, and hopefully with due respect, I doubt Shad is such a great loss to the WWE or the fans. He was just always lacking something.

Luke Gallows’ release was the next to be announced. The release of Gallows, again, will barely register, and I don’t think he’d have been able to get over like Shad potentially could have. Saying that, for a man of that size, he was remarkably versatile. No other than CM Punk (the man picked by this website as wrestler of the year) voiced his remorse at Gallows’ release: “Days like today bum me out. Gallows, many times was given chicken shit and turned it gold. He has heart, hustles, and loves wrestling.” I think, to a large extent, that is true. Gallows did a good job as part of the S.E.S., which is remarkable given the sharp transition that provided from ‘Festus’. For Luke though, it was coming. I glimpsed him backstage at this week’s Smackdown taping, and I realised how long ago it was that i’d seen him. His fate was sealed as soon as the S.E.S. split. There was nothing for him.

Vance Archer is also gone. Coming from TNA, there was some buzz behind this guy, but ‘The Gatecrashers’ were one of the most boring tag teams ever in my opinion. Billed as edgy and threatening, all they did was jump some people in the ring a few times and win some unremarkable tag matches. They split not too long ago, and for Archer, I assume the writing was on the wall. Hawkins is more established in WWE, and has had modest success, which is probably why he remains.

Caylen Croft was fired also. This one was weird to me. I thought he and Baretta had some mileage as a tag team. Initially they were a little goofy, but I think they grew in to a good tweener team and somewhat comparable to Edge & Christian. I think they should have stuck around in the tag division at least for a while. I saw that Baretta had a match on Superstars as a singles competitor. I do think Baretta is the better wrestler, but he could do with a tag team vehicle.

Tiffany was finally released. It makes you wonder why they waited until now, really. That’s meant respectfully – many people were speculating that she would be fired after that domestic disturbance with husband Drew McIntyre, but I figured that, since they hadn’t by now, perhaps she would be on probation for a while before returning. Before it all happened, WWE seemed pretty hot on her. Again though, she was no great wrestler, and will be no great loss, unless McIntyre chooses to follow her (which I doubt he will).

Finally, Jillian Hall. I respect her as a character, but I hated the character. She was recently removed from TV, and I thought she was going to be utilized more like an agent and diva-trainer. Perhaps this is just a change of contract. I’m sure all will be revealed.

There are rumours that there will soon be further releases. We’ll have to wait and see about that.