With No Way Out less than a week away (I'll have me and Skitz' predictions out by Saturday), a thought occurred to me - WWE has done a piss-poor job of hyping the Pay-Per-View. As of last night's RAW, only six matches have been announced, and three of those were added throughout the show! What's worse, essentially every match on the card is either a rematch from Over The Limit or a match we've seen several times in the past. The only "fresh" match-up is the pre-show featuring David Otunga vs. Brodus Clay, and something tells me it won't go very well for Mr. Hudson. Oh, and is Triple H appearing to "make an announcement" supposed to get me excited? We all know whatever he says/happens will be replayed for weeks, much like Shawn Michaels' annonucement at SummerSlam 2008.
I apologize for being so negative, but I just feel like zero effort has gone into promoting Sunday's show. In fact, the entire build-up has been focused on The Big Show vs. John Cena steel cage match, with everything else playing second-fiddle. It's a damn shame, because last night, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kane, and Aj proved their angle is the best thing going in WWE today. THIS is the feud WWE should be putting the focus on, not a rematch between Cena and Show that nobody wants to see (little kids' opinions excluded).
Many people thought Over The Limit would get a pathetically low number of buys, but I'm going to predict that No Way Out will be one of the worst-performing PPVs of the year. And you know what? Maybe that's what WWE wants - to do away with No Way Out once and for all. Ever since gimmick PPVs started taking over the WWE calendar several years ago, old-school fans have been clamoring for the return of traditional PPVs like King of the Ring, Backlash, and Vengeance. Well, last year, WWE decided to listen to their fanbase and bring back Vengeance in October. The result? A solid show from top to bottom, but the poor hype (thanks to the PPV being two weeks removed from Hell in a Cell) caused the show to draw one of the lowest PPV buys in WWE history. Unsurprisingly, Vengeance has been removed from this year's PPV line-up.
I'm sure many people will argue that the poor hype for last year's Vengeance and this Sunday's No Way Out is simply a coincidence. To be fair, they may be right - for years WWE has been inconsistent when it comes to booking PPVs not named 'Wrestlemania'. On the other hand, what about WWE's other "big" shows - Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, and SummerSlam - is it just me, or have they all come across as after-thoughts recently? Take the 2011 editions for example, since they're the most recent. WWE put in so much effort making Money in the Bank a must-see PPV that SummerSlam didn't feel like a big event, more like the Backlash/Extreme Rules to a Wrestlemania. Many fans will debate which summer PPV was superior, but for me, SummerSlam didn't have the "it" factor it usually does.
Survivor Series is another controversial PPV. The days of every match - or most matches - on the card being a traditional five-on-five elimination bout are long gone. Instead, WWE treats it as just another PPV, which has resulted in the buys decreasing over the years. Even The Rock's in-ring return at last year's show couldn't help the buyrate to rebound. Until the traditional tag team matches are prominently featured again, Survivor Series will continue to drive away it's once-loyal fanbase.
As for the Royal Rumble, I remember the days when superstars had to qualify to enter the 30-man match. Now, anyone and everyone has a chance of showing up to the big battle, which makes the match feel less special. Last year, WWE had a 40-man Royal Rumble, so I can understand why there weren't any qualifying matches. But when there's only thirty men, and five-six of the spots are reserved for surprise entrants, there's no reason why the weeks leading up to the PPV can't be filled with qualifying matches. Letting the Royal Rumble "sell itself" is WWE's way of taking the easy way out. To make things worse, the winner hasn't main-evented Wrestlemania since 2009, and prior to Sheamus' victory over Daniel Bryan last April, the Rumble victor hasn't won a world title at 'Mania since 2008, further de-valuing the Rumble match.
I know there's a lot of factors to consider, as it's always possible the creative team are responsible for the lack of PPV hype, or maybe Vince & friends think there's nothing wrong with the modern-day SummerSlams and Royal Rumbles, but I can't shake the feeling there's more to it than that. Why do gimmick PPVs like TLC and Hell in a Cell receive more build-up than PPVs like Vengeance and No Way Out? Why did Over The Limit just celebrate it's three-year anniversary, despite the first two editions drawing some really low numbers? Does WWE keep it around because it's a newer name, while Vengeance is not?
Maybe it's crazy to speculate Vince would try and sabotage his PPVs (a.k.a. his money-makers) on purpose just to bury old PPV names in the past, but knowing Vince, he's capable of anything. What do you think? Have I gone off the deep end? Am I allowing my disappointment in this Sunday's PPV affect my way of thinking? Or am I on to something here?
2. Day 2
In case you missed the big news, TNA sent out a press release today confirming the announcement made at last Sunday's Slammiversary - the Bound For Glory series, baby. This time, however, there will only be twelve participants, and no man can wrestle the same opponent twice. Before you start trashing the new rule, think about it - would guys like Crimson and Gunner have advanced so far in last year's tournament if they didn't pick up loads of points by beating lower-card wrestlers like Devon and Samoa Joe over and over? (they both were at the bottom of the pecking order last summer, believe it or not). Yeah, probably not. Last year's BFG series was a lot of fun, and this year's edition could be even better...depending on the participants.
TNA announced they will be revealing which twelve men would compete in the Bound For Glory series during tomorrow night's Impact broadcast. Since the show is live, we don't have spoilers to tell us who's in and who's out. In that case, it's up to me to predict who I believe will make the cut and who will be stuck watching the series from the sidelines.
1. Kurt Angle
Let's kick things off with an easy pick - the Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle. Now, I know Angle probably stands the least to gain from winning the tournament (he's won more world titles than anyone else on the TNA roster), but after seeing him wrestle the winner of last year's series - Bobby Roode - at Bound For Glory 2011, it would be interesting to see Angle chasing the title match. Wouldn't it be interesting if Roode hangs on to his title until this year's Bound For Glory, and the roles are reversed, with Angle coming after Roode? Either way, there's no way one of TNA's biggest stars will be excluded from the BFG series, not a chance.
2. Aj Styles
The other half of the new tag team champions should be a no-brainer as well. No matter where Styles is on the card, or what stupid angle he's involved with (no pun intended), Styles is never far from jumping right back into the main-event. With Roode the current world champion, and looking like he may keep his title until the October Pay-Per-View, it would make sense for Styles to win the tournament and challenge his former friend at TNA's biggest PPV of the year. The two wrestled a great match on Impact a few weeks ago, but I'm sure they could put together a main-event PPV quality match.
3. Bully Ray
One of TNA's top heels (after the champ himself) would not be happy about being left out of the BFG series, and trust me, Bully Ray is not a guy you want to piss off. Many people feel Bully is long overdue a world title feud, and I'm one of them. His promos are consistently entertaining, and he has made a feud with Abyss (fuck outta here with that Joseph Park 'brother' crap) not suck. Bully is deserving of a world title run, partly as tribute to his career, and partly for reinventing the badass, heel persona. I don't know if it will happen at Bound For Glory, though.
4. Austin Aries
The Greatest Man That Ever Lived is riding an unbelievable wave of momentum. He is the longest reigning X-Division Champion in history, emerged victorious in his feud with Bully Ray, and defeated Samoa Joe in a great match this past Sunday at Slammiversary. Some people feel Aries has breathed new life into the X-Division. I say he's out-grown the title. Aries is too good to not be in the main-event, and since TNA were foolish to not secure his services longer than one more year, they better milk Aries for everything he's worth now, while they still can.
It's hard to believe that Daniels was actually released from the company shortly after Hogan and Bischoff rode into two, and made his return not even two years ago. Daniels, although no longer a young stallion, is one of the best wrestlers in the company, and has excelled as a heel. I'm actually glad he and Kazarian lost the tag team titles last Sunday because Daniels is deserving of a higher spot on the card, although feuding with Aj Styles for the past ten months or so is nothing to scoff at. I hope Daniels gets a chance to shine by competing in this series, and not used as fodder to bigger faces.
6. Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy is one of those "bigger faces" I'm talking about. TNA has been booking Hardy logically since his return last year. Instead of immediately putting Hardy back in the title picture, he's been forced to bide his time, and had a decent feud with Kurt Angle over the months. After failing to become the number one contender at Slammiversary, this may be Hardy's last chance at winning back the world title before the future of TNA gets a strangle-hold of the championship (honestly, that would be a good thing, keeping guys like Hardy, Anderson, and RVD FAR away from the title scene).
7. Rob Van Dam
Speaking of Mr. Thursday Night, since joining TNA several years ago, the company has had only one thing on their mind - push RVD. Don't change his character, don't turn him heel, don't change his look - just pretend that it's 1999 and push RVD like he's a future mega-star. I'm a fan of RVD, but even I have to admit the favoritism from TNA management can be a bit too much at times. Therefore, I can 100% guarantee "The Whole F'n Show" will be competing in the BFG series.
8. James Storm
Ah, James Storm. You know Storm, the guy who disappeared from Impact for weeks, only to return unexpectedly at last Sunday's PPV to end the 18-month-long undefeated streak of Crimson. The same guy who many people thought was going to defeat Bobby Roode for the world title at Lockdown last April. Well, in case you're not up to speed, rumours are heavy that Storm is already the odds-on favourite to win the series and face Roode at Bound For Glory. I would love to see that happen, but if we already know what's in store for the champion come Bound For Glory, it makes the entire tournament feel a tad useless, does it not?
9. Samoa Joe
I missed last week's Impact, so correct me if I'm wrong, but did Joe really turn just because Austin Aries splashed him with water? I hope there's more to it than that, because trying to logically come to terms with that scenario would make my head explode! Anyway, Joe should once again find himself competing in the BFG series, but hopefully he'll fare better than he did last year (Joe had negative points practically all summer long). This time, Joe isn't near the bottom. Still far from the top, but at least he's not going to job to everyone again. I hope.
10. Mr. Anderson
Everybody's (as in nobody's) favourite asshole has a title shot against Bobby Roode tomorrow on Impact after shocking the world to become the number one contender at Slammiversary. The good news? Anderson has ZERO chance of winning. The bad news? We're stuck seeing him in the Bound For Glory series. I am still not a fan of the former Mr. Kennedy - never have been and probably never will be. Nothing he does interests me, not his mic work, not his persona, and definitely not his wrestling skills. Yet, he's a sure-fire candidate to compete in the series. Yay.
11. Garett Bischoff
From one asshole to a complete piece of shit, this list is hitting rock bottom FAST. Look folks, don't get it twisted - I'm not saying Garett Bischoff deserves to compete in the BFG series, hell no! If anything, he deserves a pink slip from the company and a good kick in the ass. However, I have a very bad feeling we're going to see this mother-fucker be named as one of the participants tomorrow night. Is it bullshit? Yes. Is there at least a dozen other wrestlers who should get the spot instead? Undoubtedly. But as long as Bischoff is in charge, his son will keep getting pushed. So as much as it pains me to say it, Garett has a good chance of being one of the twelve participants named, which means more TV time for the youngster. FML
Rounding out the list of suspects is my wildcard pick, otherwise known as former tag team champion Magnus. Since he and Joe lost the belts, Magnus has faded back into the background, but hopefully TNA will do the right thing and capitalize on his new-found success as a face by putting him in the tournament. Does Magnus stand a chance of winning and main-eventing bound For Glory? No, not really, but an impressive showing could go a long way in determining the young man's future as a singles star. I say put him in the BFG series, let him pull off some "shock" victories, and see what happens from there.
Almost made the cut:: Crimson, Robbie E, Devon, Eric Young
Just to recap, here are the twelve names who I believe will be competing in this year's Bound For Glory series:
-Rob Van Dam
With the exception of one or two "talents", that looks like a good group of names to me. What do you think? Agree with my picks? Disagree? Well, let me know yours!
3. Day 3
Wrestling fans unanimously refer to Summer 2011 as "The Summer of Punk". However, if we go back a year more, we arrive at the "Summer of Bryan". While most people will argue that Summer 2010 was dominated by The Nexus' shocking arrival, Daniel Bryan was the most controversial man between June and August. That's because three of the most news-making, incredible moments of 2010 involved the former American Dragon. In addition to turning the wrestling world upside down alongside his Nexus teammates, Bryan would be fired from the company that same week for breaking script and choking ring announcer Justin Roberts with his very own tie. To top it off, Bryan would again shock the world in August when he returned at SummerSlam to be the seventh member of Team Cena.
In my opinion, the summer months have been fortunate for Bryan throughout his short WWE career. As mentioned above, he went from being an indy darling and former NXT competitor to teaming with six of WWE's top superstars in the main-event of SummerSlam 2010. The following year, Bryan defied the odds in July and won the SmackDown Money in the Bank ladder match, a briefcase which gave him a four-month reign as world heavyweight champion. Now, Daniel Bryan is three days away from competing for the WWE Championship at No Way Out. Summer has been very kind to the Yes-Man.
But would Bryan have enjoyed all his WWE success if he was never reprimanded for choking Justin Roberts? In other words, what if...Daniel Bryan was never fired two years ago? Would he still have risen to superstardom and became a world champion, or would he have stumbled along the way, as most of his former Nexus allies have?
I think it's safe to say that no matter what happened, Daniel Bryan was going to be a star in the WWE. From the very first episode of NXT Season One, he had already been hand-picked to be the season's breakout star (although Wade Barrett seemed to surprise everyone by how good he was). Don't believe me? One of his first matches was against CHRIS JERICHO. Tell me, how many rookies get the chance to wrestle a former world champion so soon after their debut and not get squashed by the future Hall of Famer? Not very many. WWE saw something in Bryan from the very beginning, and they were wise to have him lose NXT so Barrett could benefit from the rub instead.
When The Nexus would later make their now infamous debut on an episode of RAW by attacking John Cena, CM Punk, and everyone and everything at ringside, people went bananas. Partly because The Nexus attack was really cool and felt "real". Partly because the assault reminded fans that wrestling can still be shocking, even to 'smarks'. But many fans were elated because Daniel Bryan made his television return that night. I remember watching it unfold on RAW and telling myself I would never forget witnessing such a spectacle.
However, things would quickly take a turn for the worst when WWE did what many people believe ruined The Nexus storyline right off the bat - they fired Daniel Bryan. WWE's reasoning behind legitimately firing Bryan? Apparently, Bryan choking Justin Roberts with his tie at ringside was considered "too violent" by their TV sponsors, and Bryan was scapegoated in order for the company to save face. This angered many fans (especially the IWC) and many people quickly lost interest in The Nexus. Without Bryan around, it was Wade Barrett, a newcomer himself, leading a group of nobodies.
Fortunately, WWE would make things right by re-hiring Bryan several months later and revealing him as the seventh member of Team WWE moments before Cena's team did battle with The Nexus at SummerSlam. No one knew who the seventh man of Team WWE would be, with most people guessing Triple H or The Miz. But WWE keeping Bryan's return a secret was a great idea, as I remember marking out like a little boy seeing a pair of boobs for the first time when Bryan's music hit. By then, it was too late to save The Nexus storyline, but at least WWE would finally put an end to the "Daniel Bryan" chants that were chanted throughout every arena since Bryan's firing.
The way I see it, WWE firing Bryan was the best thing that could have happened to the young man. Whether the firing was legit or a work we'll probably never know, but Bryan being brought back as a face was definitely the right move. The fans were able to get behind him from the very start, both the IWC members who were upset about Bryan's release, as well as the average fan who wanted to see The Nexus get their asses kicked. What more, Bryan would end up being the first (former) Nexus member to win WWE gold, as he defeated The Miz at Night of Champions in an excellent match to win the United States Championship.
Meanwhile, Barrett and the rest of Nexus were struggling to remain relevant. Their feud with John Cena seemed to drag on forever, and by the end of the angle, there was only one winner - Barrett. Michael Tarver would be released, Darren Young would become a jobber on Superstars and NXT, Skip Sheffield would miss over a year of in-ring action due to injury, David Otunga would join The "New Nexus", and Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel would form The Corre alongside Barrett and Ezekiel Jackson over on SmackDown. Although about half of the group would go on to win the tag team titles, besides Bryan, Barrett is the only member to win a singles title since their debut two years ago.
Daniel Bryan is, without doubt, the most successful former Nexus member. Wade Barrett should be a world champion one day, but Bryan is already a former world champion. Bryan has entered both the Royal Rumble PPV and Wrestlemania as the world champion, while Barrett and no other Nexus member has. Maybe it was WWE's plan all along to get Bryan away from The Nexus, and his firing was simply a fortunate coincidence? All I know for sure is getting fired in June 2010 was the best thing that could have happened, as rather than disappearing from television, Bryan became even more popular.
I view Bryan's firing the same way as I do his 18-second loss to Sheamus at Wrestlemania. Both times, WWE was doing what they thought was "the right thing" - pleasing their sponsors by firing Bryan, and trying to get Sheamus over as an unstoppable face. Both times, Bryan just happened to be the scapegoat, but rather than derail his career, Bryan has benefited from both events. His release got him into the main-event of SummerSlam, and his squash loss to Sheamus has turned him into a legitimate main-eventer. Bryan is either really lucky, or WWE is way smarter than we take them for.
Who ever thought that being fired from your dream job would end up being the best thing that ever happened to you?
4. Day 4
Chrisss: We are days away from the return of No Way Out, which means it's time to talk shit about Big Show, wonder what the hell happened to Kharma, and most importantly, preview the card! 2012 has been a strong year for WWE Pay-Per-Views, but I think the streak ends on Sunday. What do you think, Candyman?
Skitz: I disagree. Aside from the heavily scrutinized main event, the card seems pretty promising. And despite whatever Vince may try to tell you from a business standpoint, a wrestling oriented pay per view is definitely a welcome sight. Normally, I wouldn't order a PPV this time of year but my mind keeps going back and forth on whether to watch NWO. Damn that Dolph Ziggler!
Chrisss: You're crazy, dude. After watching Big Show's match with Kofi Kingston on RAW, I'd rather see Johnny vs. Cena II than put up with Big Show inside a steel cage again. I agree though, Ziggler replacing Del Rio in the world title match is nothing to complain about, as the two may very well have the best match of the night come Sunday.
Skitz: Did I say anything about looking forward to the Cena/TBS bout? Get your fucking eyes checked, bitch. SANS the steel cage headliner, we're in for a solid night of action. As long as Triple H's promo doesn't meander on for 27 minutes...
Chrisss: Oh, you know it will. It will either result in another interaction with Paul Heyman or Triple H pedigreeing some jobber to hell. Whatever happens with the man with the (un)broken arm, I'm not interested.
Skitz: The only positive I can imagine stemming from the segment is if WWE begins building towards the H/Lesnar showdown at SummerSlam this Sunday night. Otherwise, the promo will simply be shafting the roster out of exposure and robbing fans precious dollars when Hunter's ramblings would be better suited for RAW.
Chrisss: And that's the problem. Why would I, as a fan, want to waste my money on a promo for something better? Anyways, I'm not sold on the PPV, but maybe your opinion can change mine. Let's get started with the pre-show, shall we?
Pre-Show Match: David Otunga vs. Brodus Clay
Skitz: Utter garbage. But from the perspective of a fan in attendance, it beats peons or local wrestlers. I am a little intrigued to see how the Funkasaurus bounces back after getting straight up owned by Big Show a couple weeks ago. Otunga isn't much of a measuring stick however. Instead of punishing us with yet another Paul Wight push and derailing Clay's momentum, management should've put together a 1-on-1 clash between the two behemoths. That'd interest me far more than the main event or this dark match.
Chrisss: The positives about this match? 1. It won't be on the actual PPV (Thank God) and 2. It spares the fans from another show loaded with squash matches, since you know Ryback will once again be used as filler. Unfortunately for Mr. Hudson, this will simply be an extended squash match. Clay is still undefeated and no way in hell will Otunga be the one who silences The Funkasaurus.
Skitz: Certainly not. It's funny how in pro wrestling you can go from hero to zero in a matter of weeks. If Big Johnny does indeed lose his on-air gig and disappears from television for awhile, where does that leave Otunga? (Or Eve for that matter?) That coffee-slurping kiss ass could quite possibly go from being featured prominently on RAW to pink slip status if things don't go smoothly.
Because lets face it... Outside of his current role working as Laurinaitis' sidekick, David doesn't exactly have much to offer the company other than size.
(Chrisss leans in and whispers something to SkitZ) Oh that's all it takes to get pushed? Retract my previous statement then.
Chrisss: I disagree. I think Otunga will be the one who dethrones Santino for the United States Championship, and for that to happen, Big Johnny must remain in power (and he will). Otunga is still pretty awful as a wrestler, but I think he's over as a heel, both inside and outside the ring. I also have a soft spot for his theme music (catchy as hell). That being said, Clay dominates the match, wins, and puts an end to this feud that doesn't even exist.
Skitz: If yours truly does end up ordering the show, I'll intentionally flip on the TV at the top of the hour. That should sum up my feelings on the matter pretty accurately. Nobody cares about this shit besides the few rows of shleps who are already wasted by this point in the night.
Any half decent reason to boogey with the Funkettes.
Chrisss: I just LOLed at the thought of a Devil's Four-Way between you, Namoi, Cameron, and Vinnie Mac "gettin' jiggy with it". Let's move on.
To show how little I care about this match, we're getting it over with NOW. I don't give a fuck if it's the main-event, or if the announcers have already christened it as the main-event of the evening. This feud bores me to tears, and I know I'm not the only one. So let's get the crap out of the way, so we can talk about matches that are worth our time. (Rant over).
Skitz: A commendable decision to say the least. You might call me crazy again in a couple minutes but I personally would've much rather preferred Tensai in this spot. Regardless of the character flopping after significant hype, Albert has much more to offer between the ropes than TBS at this juncture in their respective careers. At the very least, Bloom's superior in every physical aspect besides brute strength obviously. Not a single person on the WWE roster bores me worse than the 500-pounder. And the only conceivable way to book Big Show in a mildly entertaining light is sticking the giant in multi-man clusterfucks. That's it.
Chrisss: Tensai over Show any day, brother. I understand WHY the company made the switch, as Tensai is not over enough to feud with John Cena, let alone main-event a PPV, but if that's the case, book Tensai vs. Cena as a top match, not the main-event. Kane, Punk, and Bryan are three of the company's better and more popular wrestlers - why not give them the main-event spot instead? The fans will still care, and the kiddies will be content with seeing Cena on the card.
Skitz: And of all the guys to place inside a steel cage on PPV, Cena & TBS should be at the absolute bottom of that fucking list. Both stars work slow enough as is and placing them in said environment only slows down the tempo further. Despite whatever interference we may witness at No Way Out, I'm heading in expecting nothing but the worst from WWE's Poster Boy and the World's Largest Athlete. That way, it can only meet or exceed my expectations. This past Monday's three-hour RAW was actually a strong broadcast. And unsurprisingly, the steel cage contest was the worst part of it. I found Vader waddling around the ring more enthralling than Big Show's decimation of poor Kofi. You know it's ugly when we're not even a month removed from the giant's "shocking" turn and everyone's already praying for the angle to die. I can't blame them either.
Chrisss: For real, right? Big Show's move-set consists of attack, stop, look at the crowd, repeat. I felt bad for poor Kofi having to sell Show's slooooow offense. The guy is overdue a main-event feud of his own, but that's a topic for another day. As for this "epic match", I was going to give the victory to Cena, but I have a bad feeling this feud will continue to Money in the Bank, and in order for that to happen, Show needs to win. Therefore, the feud that everyone hates will keep going, and Cena loses another PPV match.
Skitz: Bah what a sad state of affairs. I feel the same though. You'd figure Cena would be due for a 'W' after jobbing to The Rock & Big Johnny recently but it's not gonna happen. Why would management go to all of this trouble pushing Big Show through the roof only for the dude to stumble through his first obstacle? Plus when you consider the odds of the face champions retaining at NWO, a victory for the seven footer seems highly plausible. Don't be shocked if we find ourselves staring at Sheamus/Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship at MITB... Yikes. I hope to God that the company isn't trying to duplicate what they did with Mark Henry in '11. If Big Show carries the belt thru this upcoming fall, I'll murder somebody.
Chrisss: Whoever thought Mark Henry would be more entertaining than Big Show, eh? What a world we live in. To be fair, I'd rather see Big Show vs. Sheamus than Big Show vs. Punk, so pick your words carefully. Any final comments before we (thankfully) move on? I have one - #FuckYouBigShow
Skitz: Kane's resurgence in 2010, SkidMark's Hall of Pain in 2011, Big Show's current tear... notice a pattern? I feel like Vinnie Mac's attempting to gives these aging veterans their final hurrah before retirement comes knocking. Hence why I'm already kinda bracing myself for how much the giant will probably be shoved down our throats in 2012. And yes Sheamus/TBS would be easier to stomach. Punk already jobbed to Big Show a few summers ago so he deserves a pass. The 500-pounder wins this snoozefest by hook or crook.
Chrisss: I hope you're right, old friend. It would be a shame to see Punk's epic title reign come to an end at the hands of The Big Show of all people. But more on Mr. Pipebomb a bit later.
Chrisss' pick: Big Show wins
Skitz' pick: Big Show wins
WWE Divas Championship: Layla (c.) vs. Beth Phoenix
Quick question, Skitz: did you even know this match was taking place on Sunday? Or are you as surprised as I am to see it on the card?
Skitz: Ha! I was prepared to ask you the same question. I guess since The Glamazon & Layla are the only active wrestlers in the Women's Division nowadays, we're just supposed to assume they'll be competing against each other at every pay per view in the near future. It could be worse though so I won't complain. And at the risk of sounding redundant, what DID happen to Kharma? Holy shit. Who knows what the hell is going on with that whole situation.
Chrisss: Oh, don't get me wrong, I have ZERO problem with a Layla vs. Phoenix feud. But the thing is, their feud is virtually non-existent. Neither woman has been on TV for weeks, and hasn't even crossed paths since the week after Over The Limit. I know it's the divas, but WWE could make SOME effort to make their match on Sunday mean something. But since they didn't, you have to assume Layla retains once again, which will hopefully lead to Miss Kharma making her overdue return.
Skitz: Fat chance. Layla is sexy as fuck however which makes things better visually of course. Were you surprised to hear about Phoenix dating Edge? I was that's for damn sure. Seems like an odd couple to me but I'm always glad to hear that Copeland's still sampling WWE's current crop of ladies. Ever since initially reading that news report, I can't stop picturing Edge fucking Beth with a hockey mask on... You?
Chrisss: It's obviously payback for Punk going after Lita. By the way, I thought Edge was married, what happened to that? Ugh, you think way too much about sex, keep your nasty images for your columns, got it?
Shit, we're supposed to be talking about the match, but I guess we found something better to discuss. That's how much this match/feud/whatever it is matters. I'm going with Layla, via neckbreaker, NOT super diva roll-up of doom. You?
Skitz: Meh. That works for me. Kudos to Layla for continually improving; especially during her time rehabbing. She's quickly become one of the top three female wrestlers in the company. The lengthy stint as one half of LayCool did her wonders and will benefit the Brit tenfold moving forward. But more importantly, I wanna boink her.
Chrisss: Who doesn't wanna - uhhh, boink - her? That body? Crazy shit. I like her, hopefully she stays healthy so WWE sees no rush in bringing back Kelly Kelly. The divas division is already a better place without K2.
Chrisss' pick: Layla retains the title
Skitz's pick: Layla retains the title
Tuxedo Match: Santino Marella vs. Ricardo Rodriguez
So this match is a last-minute addition to the card, and one that has NO business being there. I don't know what's worse - the fact that the U.S. Champion is feuding with a non-wrestler, or that Santino is doing next to nothing with the title. Don't get me wrong, both guys have hilarious personas, but this kind of match/segment is better suited for an episode of RAW, not a show people are expected to pay money for.
Skitz: On one hand, it was awesome to witness Marella finally receive some kudos from management in the form of a United States Title run. But I find myself increasingly baffled with each week that passes by with Santino still power walking to the ring carrying said belt. Ricardo's found an excellent niche in WWE and has gotten crazy over as Alberto Del Rio's obnoxious ring announcer which the company is clearly attempting to exploit. Rodriquez is a trained wrestler and knows his way around a squared circle but don't expect to see any of that highlighted on Sunday. This shit reeks of Christy Hemme/Big Fat Oily Guy from Against All Odds '07.
Chrisss: Putting the U.S. title on Santino when he was hot was a great idea. Having him defend it almost never? Not so much. Hopefully this feud ends Sunday and we can see Santino start a program with a midcard heel. I actually wouldn't mind David Otunga being the one to end Santino's title reign because he would defend it, wouldn't he?
Skitz: If Big Johnny loses his GM gig, yeah. But it's foolish to believe Laurinaitis' flunky would be forced to defend the strap very often under the General Manager's current tenure. This pointless gimmick bout is the unfortunate result of a shallow, underpromoted pay per view. There are plenty of worthy opponents for Marella to face for the gold but yet Santino's bullying around a goofy unimposing figure... I guess this is WWE's stab at injecting some comedy into this Sunday's show. Har har. They'd be better off extending both World Title matches and leaving this off the broadcast completely.
Chrisss: Agreed 1000%. That being said, I would rather watch this than Clay vs. Otunga. Comedies are usually better than squash matches, especially when Ricardo is involved. Since Santino is the champion, I guess he's the favourite to win. Not like it really matters who wins, right?
Skitz: Correct. The Master of the Cobra isn't even in ADR's league so Marella might as well beat up on Del Rio's sidekick during his absence. I suspect this head scratcher will bridge two of No Way Out's more pivotal contests which is fine... as long as this nonsense doesn't go on second to last. The same goes for the Divas Title match. I really don't see the need in putting the crowd to sleep before the main event. If anything, there should be a steady build as the PPV unfolds.
Chrisss: Pfft, tell that to WWE. There seems to be a squash match/divas match/throwaway match between world title matches more often than there should be. Meh, as long as this doesn't take longer than ten minutes (entrances included) I won't complain - too much.
WWE Intercontinental Championship: Christian (c.) vs. Cody Rhodes
Skitz: FINALLY something worth talking about. Thank God.
I'm not gonna lie though... The Candyman was looking forward to more of that stellar heel work from Captain Charisma along with a possible WWE Title feud versus Punk. But due to some untimely suspensions and injuries, I understand why the company decided to bring back Christian as a fan favorite. And as far as a return feud is concerned, there may be no better foe than Cody Rhodes. The kid has been on fire for well over a year now and people are fucking blind if they haven't noticed management grooming the second generation star for the next level. I mean do you think it's purely coincidence that Cody's last four programs have all pitted him against former World Champions?
Chrisss: Not at all. Rhodes is breathing down the necks of the current main-eventers, and it would not surprise me to see Rhodes get a title shot against Sheamus sometime soon (providing The Great White retains against Ziggler, that is). With the roster as thin at is, it thrills me to see Rhodes and Christian be given a lot of time to hype their match this Sunday. Potential show-stealer? I think so.
Skitz: Certainly. Granted they're given at least 12 or 13 minutes between the ropes (should be more like 18), Cpt. Charisma & Cody will put on a clinic at NWO. No doubt about it. Regardless of how frequently he's defended the strap during his first reign, Rhodes has done a fantastic job bringing focus and prestige back to the Intercontinental Title. Christian's always game for a potential MOTY candidate and I'm sure the former champ won't disappoint.
Chrisss: Preach it, brother. As much as I'd love to see Rhodes get a world title shot, I would be more than fine with seeing these two feud until Money in the Bank next month. Actually, scratch that. I want Rhodes to compete in the MitB ladder match and WIN IT. Yup, that's an early prediction for ya. But in order for that to happen, Christian has to retain on Sunday.
Skitz: Judging by the roll he's been on since resurfacing, I fully anticipate the Canuck escaping New Jersey with the gold. Cody will look like a million bucks in defeat but his big moment is on the horizon and thus regaining the belt would accomplish little. Unless this feud is prolonged, I too predict that Rhodes will capture SmackDown's MITB briefcase on July 15th.
Chrisss: Glad to have you on board the Cody bandwagon. Hopefully we're both right.
Chrisss' pick: Christian retains the title
Skitz' pick: Christian retains the title
World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus (c.) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler has got to be the luckiest guy in the world. First Randy Orton gets suspended, then Alberto Del Rio goes down with a concussion, leaving the SmackDown world title scene wide open. I wish they had built Ziggler up a bit better in recent weeks, as the odds of him winning the title this Sunday don't look good, if you ask me.
Skitz: But that's not really what's important here, is it? This scenario is all about the Blonde Perm making the absolute most of his opportunity and continuing to impress the critics. Just like you did with Rhodes a few moments ago, I'm gonna jump the gun and make me own premature prediction... Ziggler will win RAW's Money in the Bank ladder match next month. After all the shit Dolph's received for failing to win "the big one", he'll quiet the naysayers by snatching the coveted briefcase and eventually making the most of it.
Chrisss: You got me there, Candyman. If there are indeed two MitB matches this year (the death of WWE's midcard has me wondering), then Ziggler has to be a top candidate to win RAW's briefcase. However, let's not completely rule out the possibility of Ziggler winning the title at No Way Out. Why must we assume Ziggler is simply killing time until Del Rio returns? What if WWE goes with a Sheamus vs. Ziggler feud for Summer 2012?
Skitz: Then that would obviously throw a wrench into my fantasy. Alot of it depends on how long ADR's concussion keeps him sidelined. If the Mexican Aristocrat is only off television for a couple weeks, he and Sheamus can simply pick up where they left off after NWO. However if Del Rio is sidelined for a significant amount of time, Zigs is definitely a worthy substitute. Don't get me wrong, homie... I think Dolph will push the ginger to the brink of Sunday but inevitably fall short. Knowing how the Blonde Perm shines under pressure though, it's a win-win situation for him.
Chrisss: Fair enough. I was tempted to pick Ziggler for the upset victory, but I want to see him dump Vickie before that happens. Let's not forget that these two are more than capable of having an awesome match this Sunday. In fact, this could very well be the match of the night, as both men have been putting on amazing performances recently. So yeah, Ziggler's time will come, but he's not winning any gold on Sunday.
Chrisss' pick: Sheamus retains the title
Skitz' pick: Sheamus retains the title
Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship: CM Punk (c.) vs. Kane vs. Daniel Bryan
Skitz: Ahhhhhh the unofficial main event in my eyes. In some ways, it appears as if the writing staff has placed far more effort in building this match than Show/Cena. Or it could just be AJ and all her bat shit antics since splitting with D-Bry. Nevertheless, I'm head over heels in love with this storyline shenanigans. The reigning WWE Champ is still being pushed as such and allotted ample mic time but yet his challengers have been booked equally as strong. I can't imagine any of the three competitors moving past Sunday and not benefiting from the feud. While the Straightedge Superstar is still seen as the favorite at No Way Out, AJ has thrown some major unpredictability into the mix.
Chrisss: Yes, she has. I'm sure Punk will retain his title on Sunday, but I can't help but think we might see a swerve coming, as in Aj siding with the one man she hasn't been hitting on in recent weeks - Daniel Bryan. It would not shock me to see her screw Punk and assist her former boyfriend in picking up the win, leaving Punk and The Big Red Monster looking on in confusion. Of course, that would only extend this feud even further, while a Punk victory probably wouldn't.
Skitz: Touche. What makes this all so compelling is that AJ could side with either Punk, Bryan or Kane and it'd make sense. I'm hoping like hell that the pint sized Diva doesn't stab Cookie Monster in the back and cause a title change but it could happen. In a smark's perfect world, the American Bandwagon would steal the gold at NWO and ultimately face Mr. Sobriety in an iron man contest at SummerSlam. But c'mon now... why would WWE ever give in to our temptations like that? Especially when we're due for Big Show steamrolling Punk and seizing his title any day now.
Chrisss: Don't you dare suggest Big Show will be the one to end Punk's epic title reign. Such a move would make me vomit for weeks straight, I kid you not. When Punk does drop the title, it should be to someone who deserves the rub - Ziggler, Bryan, and even Rhodes are all great choices. Show needs to stay far, far away from both world titles, even if it means feuding with Cena until SummerSlam (shudders).
Skitz: Sweet Jesus. On a brighter note, we need to give the Big Red Machine his fucking due. Kane's raised his work to another level since the mediocre program with Cena to begin the year. Rather than hurt this ongoing angle, the Devil's Favorite Demon has actually added to Punk/Bryan and brought himself to the forefront of the title scene. I know we mentioned how the previous two bouts could steal the show but add this bad boy to said category because it offers fans all of the necessary elements; more so than Sheamus/Ziggler & Christian/Rhodes.
Chrisss: Very, very true. When Kane first stuck his nose in Punk and Bryan's business, I was disappointed. I wanted to see nothing but singles matches between the two indy darlings. BUT, Kane made his inclusion work, and he even has a legit chance of winning the title on Sunday. Hell, it's anyone's game, but I'm playing it safe and going with Punk retaining once again.
Skitz: Yeah, same here. Part of me is intrigued solely to see how long Cookie Monster can hold onto the belt for as he narrows in on 210 days. (Keep in mind that Cena & Batista each held their respective titles for around 280 days back in '05) I'd say Punk makes it to SummerSlam at the most but plans can change on a whim so we shall see. No matter what AJ does this Sunday night, I'm counting on the Best in the World to prevail one way or another and live to fight another day as champion.
Chrisss: I couldn't agree more, dude. Let's just hope Punk gets another chance to main-event RAW before he drops the title, although I doubt it will happen (sigh)
Chrisss' pick: Punk retains the title
Skitz' pick: Punk retains the title
Well, that's No Way Out in a nutshell. Any final, quirky comments before we say adieu?
Skitz: Indecisiveness, dude. A large part of me wants to order the pay per view but there's unrelated shit working against me purchasing it (Father's Day, Game 3 of the NBA Finals, etc.). However while much of the card seems underwhelming, the final three matches we covered might be enough to sell me. I can deal with some bullshit if the IC, WWE & WH Championships contests deliver. So yeah I dunno... it'll probably come down to a last minute decision. You?
Chrisss: Nah, I'm working Sunday, so there's not much point in me ordering the replay as I might as well catch it online for free on Monday, although I am pissed about missing those three title matches. However, I'm not sure if I'll be able to sit through Show/Cena and The Tuxedo Match so that's probably a good thing. I'll save my cash for Money in the Bank!
Skitz: No doubt. The fact that I'm splurging on MITB & SummerSlam might persuade me to avoid buying No Way Out. Whatevs. Later homie!
Did You Know?
R-Truth is not lucky when it comes to the Elimination Chamber. For three years in a row, Truth has been the first man eliminated from the chamber.