Writer's Note: Yes, it has been a while since I talked about RAW at great length. Maybe a bit too long. But over the last twenty-something hours, I've seen quite a mixed reaction from dozens of people. Most are calling it an early contender for the worst RAW of 2012, while others are praising it for the Elimination Chamber and Wrestlemania hype. Who's right and who's wrong? I honestly don't know, but let's try to find out.
CON: Triple H spends 15 minutes taking to himself
After his return to television last week, and the impressive 3.55 RAW rating, WWE did what I feared they would: make Triple H once again a focal point of RAW. Now, I'm not saying that HHH was on-screen every thirty minutes (because he wasn't), but his promo started the show off on the wrong foot. From bragging about crippling The Undertaker, to "treating" us with one video package after another, his fifteen minutes of TV time felt like an eternity. Don't get me wrong: HHH did a good job of hyping up his inevitable match with The Deadman at Wrestlemania, but I'm pretty sure he could have done that in half the time and one video package less. You can't really blame the crowd for being dead after this sleep-inducing segment.
PRO: Bryan vs. Big Show
I must admit, for a man who has pretty much bored me his entire WWE career, The Big Show has found himself in the middle of another great storyline. As much as I praised his feud with Mark Henry last year, I think when everything is said and done, that rivalry will pale in comparison to his ongoing issues with Daniel Bryan and AJ. In addition to putting on one exciting match after another, the story revolving around Bryan and Big Show is something that's never really been done before. Rather than getting the heroic David vs. evil Goliath angle, we're being treated to the complete opposite - weasel David vs. unlucky Goliath. Not only that, but the fans are really getting into Bryan's new heel persona and are able to sympathize with both Big Show and AJ. Great move by WWE to allow them to share their story with the RAW audience this week.
CON: No Cena, Kane, Funkasaurus, Swagger, etc.
Can someone please explain to me the logic behind having only three matches announced for a Pay-Per-View less than thirteen days away, and having both participants of one of the matches - Cena vs. Kane - not even interact with each other on the show? Honestly, if it weren't for the strange Kane raping/not-raping Eve segment at the end of the show, you'd forget that Kane vs. Cena was still happening. Cena's sole appearances came via a pre-taped segment with a NASCAR driver and the same biographical video package we've been seeing since the Royal Rumble. I know some fans have "Cena Nuff", but they could have given Cena something to do.
Another thing: where was the rest of the RAW roster last night? In addition to Cena and Kane, other noticeable superstars M.I.A. include Brodus Clay, Jack Swagger (the U.S. Champion), Epico and Primo (the Tag Team Champions) and of course, Zack Ryder (#GetWellSoonZack). Hmmm maybe cramming six top talents into one match isn't always a great idea.
CON: Sheamus still has nothing to do
I understand the entire point behind the impromptu Sheamus/Otunga match was to get Sheamus over and get him onto the show, but it feels like we've been watching the same story for months. The closest Sheamus has come to a rivalry since his feud with Christian prematurely ended was The Celtic Warrior defeating Jinder Mahal in the 62 times they wrestled. I don't understand why WWE can't come up with someone for Sheamus to feud with until he decides which championship to challenge for at Wrestlemania 28. Last year, Alberto Del Rio got his feet wet in brief feuds with Kofi Kingston and Christian. Sheamus...is just killing time. Not quite an exciting Road to Wrestlemania thus far for the 2012 Royal Rumble winner.
PRO: Jericho vs. Punk seems to be a lock for Wrestlemania 28
I can probably count on one hand the number of people I've talked to who enjoyed Punk and Jericho's confrontation on RAW. Believe it or not, I'm one of those people. It was classic Jericho confronting classic Punk. By that I mean Jericho went on one of his awesome tirades, speaking nothing but the truth, and getting major heel heat for it. Punk then faced off against Jericho, but rather than setting off another "pipe bomb", he mocked Jericho by not saying a word and almost guaranteed a show-down between the two at Wrestlemania 28, with or without the WWE Championship on the line.
The funny thing is, people finally got what they've been begging for - the official start of a Punk vs. Jericho feud, yet they're not happy. Fuck that. I marked out for the entire segment. Sorry if you didn't feel the same way.
CON: And the video packages just keep on coming...
Where does the majority of hate from last night's show come from? Easily, the ridiculous amount of video packages that aired during the show's two hours. I have no doubt that the combined highlights lasted longer than the twenty-seven minutes of in-ring action from yesterday's show (shout-out to Stan). Honestly, how many times are we going to have to sit through the same damn Cena and Rock profile videos? They were cool the first time, but if you're going to keep airing them, at least change them up. I know WWE likes to go video-heavy on the Road to Wrestlemania, but last night was just too much.
CON: There goes Barrett and Rhodes' momentum
The tag team match which featured Orton and Khali teaming up to face Barrett and Rhodes was alright, action-wise, but other than playing up the tension between Orton and Khali, what purpose did the bout achieve? WWE has done a fantastic job building up Barrett and Rhodes as future main-eventers in recent months, but they were so easily disposed of last night, it's hard to think they have a chance at winning the world title at Elimination Chamber. Rhodes, the Intercontinental Champion, was easily put away by a chop to the chest from Khali. I know WWE are trying to remind the fans about Khali and Orton's power, but they could have protected two of their rising stars a lot better than they did last night.
CON: Tamina looks to be Beth Phoenix's next challenger - YAWN
Since WWE still has no idea how to book the divas division, we were treated to another random, eight-diva tag team match. In fact, I believe it was the exact same match from last week's Royal Rumble PPV. This time, it was the face team who got the win, and it appears WWE is trying to push Tamina as Beth's next opponent. On the one hand, I'm thrilled that Beth is moving away from the likes of Kelly Kelly and friends. On the other hand, Tamina is not ready to feud with the divas champion, especially during Wrestlemania season. She's too new as a face and hasn't really showed me much in the ring. I think she can be a worthy challenger, just not yet. Hopefully this is simply to kill time before Beth moves onto facing Kharma at Wrestlemania. Oh, and great way to show how over Tamina is by panning to the crowd visibly not giving a shit about her victory. Oh, WWE, you so silly.
CON: Six-Pack Disaster
I was really looking forward to RAW's main-event. Not only am I a fan of multi-man match-ups, but this one happened to feature five solid in-ring talents (and R-Truth). Unfortunately, I set my hopes way too high as it was a mess from the get-go. Everything from the scary R-Truth crash-and-burn, to Ziggler's nearly-botched spot, and the abrupt ending was just hard to watch. In fact, the only parts of the match I actually enjoyed were the showdown between Punk and Jericho mid-match, as well as their post-match staredown. Wouldn't it be crazy if Punk and Jericho don't get to wrestle at the Chamber, making their likely contest at Wrestlemania something to really look forward to? But yeah, other than the Punk/Jericho highlights, a disappointing match overall, but it was good to see Jericho get the win.
Conclusion: As you can probably guess by the ridiculous amount of cons, this week's episode of RAW wasn't very good, especially compared to last week's. Too much emphasis on Undertaker/HHH, too little emphasis on Cena/Kane, a ridiculous amount of video packages, and a bad night of in-ring action made last night's show a miss. However, there were some highlights, most notably the Bryan/Big Show and Punk/Jericho storyline advancements, which saves the show from being a total disaster. A C- is too generous, but D+ seems just right.
YouTube worthy: Daniel Bryan's post-match promo...Jericho and Punk's face-off...The Miz fucking up and nearly letting R-Truth die.
2. Day 2
"In my honest opinion, I do not believe the expected CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho match at Wrestlemania 28 needs to be contested over a world title in order to feel main-event caliber."
Yes, I'm the one who said that, and no, I'm not joking. Think about it for a second. After every Wrestlemania season comes to a close, fans immediately begin thinking about dream matches for next year's Wrestlemania. Dream match-ups like Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker vs. Sting, John Cena vs. The Rock, and Jericho vs. Punk have all been heavily discussed by the IWC in the past. This year, we are privileged that the latter two matches are about to become a reality.
Let me ask you this: if Cena and Rock's first-ever one-on-one encounter doesn't need a WWE championship in order to be considered a big-time match, why does Punk vs. Jericho? Both are dream matches, and both feature former (and current), multi-time world champions. Yet, I am under the impression that Punk and Jericho cannot tangle at this year's Wrestlemania unless a world title is on the line. I suppose that's because the WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania is already in danger of being over-shadowed by Rock/Cena, HHH/Undertaker, and even Show/Shaq, regardless of the participants. While I understand that argument, I don't necessarily agree with it.
Right now, we are less than two months away from Wrestlemania, and the show is in desperate need of a solid mid-card. We all know that WWE are going to hype the hell out of the aforementioned matches, as well as Smackdown!'s world title match (which I'll address in a bit), but apart from Money in the Bank, there is no balance on the card. Last year, we had Cody Rhodes and Rey Mysterio engaged in a hell of a storyline, and so were CM Punk and Randy Orton. Although neither contest was promoted as the night's biggest match, many consider both bouts two of the night's better matches. This year, WWE seems to be going the lazy route by pimping their top matches to death, and will just throw everyone else into the MitB Ladder Match.
But it doesn't have to be that way. 99% of people are ready to see Punk and Jericho do battle at Wrestlemania 28 for the WWE Championship. However, what if WWE throws us a curve ball by having neither Punk OR Jericho walk out of Elimination Chamber as the WWE Champion? I know many people will be pissed - "Great, Punk got another crappy title reign," or, "OMG! PUNK WAS BURIED!!". But when the smoke clears, they'll come to the realization that Punk vs. Jericho can still happen at Wrestlemania , with or without the WWE Championship up for grabs.
Having Punk drop the WWE Championship next Sunday wouldn't do him any favours, but it could be the opening for someone to step up and head into Wrestlemania as WWE Champion for the very first time. And who better to take the cake than one of the company's best workers of 2011, Dolph Ziggler? Many people would have difficulty in believing that WWE would trust Ziggler to headline Wrestlemania as a world champion, but why the hell not? They already have a guaranteed mega-buyrate thanks to the heavily promoted Cena/Rock, HHH/Taker, and Show/Shaq bouts. If there was ever a Wrestlemania to take a chance on the world title participants, it's going to be Wrestlemania 28.
Another thing: by having someone like Ziggler win the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber, that automatically solves the Sheamus dilemma. Before The Great White won the Royal Rumble, it was pretty clear to most fans that we'd be getting WWE Champion CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho and World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton at Wrestlemania. You don't have to be a wrestling expert to figure out Sheamus doesn't exactly fit into either match-up. HOWEVER, by making Jericho vs. Punk a non-title match, that allows Sheamus to go after the WWE Championship and let Bryan do his thing on Smackdown!.
If WWE are brave enough to make the WWE title a non-factor in the Punk/Jericho feud, we could end up with a Wrestlemania 28 card that looks something like this:
John Cena vs. The Rock
Triple H vs. The Undertaker
Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk
Shaq vs. The Big Show
Dolph Ziggler (c.) vs. Sheamus
Daniel Bryan (c.) vs. Randy Orton OR Bryan vs. Orton vs. Barrett
Money in the Bank
Divas Match (Beth Phoenix vs. Kharma?)
I know Punk and Jericho in a non-title match will run the risk of being over-shadowed by the other main-events, but that didn't stop Punk/Orton from stealing the show last year, did it? As long as we get Punk vs. Jericho one-on-one at Wrestlemania, I could personally care less if they're fighting for the WWE Championship or not.
What do you think? Does Punk vs. Jericho need the WWE title to be involved in order to feel important? Or should WWE seriously consider "shaking up" the world title scene on RAW?
3. Day 3
Writer's Note: After reading Hustle's "What If..Vince McMahon died" column a few weeks ago, and watching Final Destination 5 last night (great movie series, by the way), I decided to examine the possiblity of the majority of the RAW roster, well, dying. I know, it's not a very "friendly" topic, and many people aren't fans of ominous things like that. Therefore, feel free to skip today's column, I won't hold it against you.
The wrestling world is no stranger to unexpected, life-changing tragedies. Over the years, we have been forced to mourn the loss of some of the business's biggest stars, from the likes of Owen Hart, Eddie Guererro, Test, Chris Benoit, and many others. The difference is, everytime the news broke, it was an isolated incident, as in these superstars never passed away on the same day, the same week, or even the same month. But what if we were to suddenly lose the likes of John Cena, Chris Jericho, and CM Punk? Not on separate intervals, but all on the same day?
I know what you're thinking. "Chrisss, the chances of multiple WWE superstars losing their lives simultaneously are one in a billion." Well, you're right. In fact, I hope the statistical odds of such an occurrence is less than 0.0000000001%. However, Mother Nature is anything but predictable. WWE superstars spend most of their time travelling, and they've probably been on more airplanes over the years than you can count. Sometimes it's a short trip from New York City to Los Angeles. Other times it's long airplane rides from the United States to Abu Dhabi. Who knows for certain that tragedy will never strike?
Keep in mind that just like us, WWE superstars are human beings. Yes, believe it or not, even "Super Cena" and "Super Orton" are "normal" when they're not at work. Therefore, if a plane can crash unexpectedly and kill most of the passengers, why would a flight mostly populated with WWE employees be exempt from such a tragedy? Accidents happen all the time, and no one is excluded. Some of you may remember hearing the news about a Russian hockey team dying in a plane crash not that long ago. Just because they're hockey players/athletes/celebrities, that did not make them invincible. The same can be said for WWE superstars.
Under that notion, I ask you - what would happen to the WWE if upon their trip back home to the U.S., the plane carrying the RAW roster crashes? BOOM, just like that, we have at least two dozen casualties, if not more. Every WWE employee who was on the tour - from referees to jobbers to John Cena - are suddenly gone. How would WWE react? Would Vince McMahon cancel all WWE programming for a certain amount of time? Would he cancel Smackdown!? Would he call up most of the FCW post-haste? Maybe raid TNA for ex-WWE or upcoming talent? Would he just give up?
Well first off, despite an unprecedented and horrific tragedy, I think Vince would insist that "the show must go on". Losing 20-30 employees in one day is almost unheard of, especially when that list includes some of your biggest draws, but if anyone could keep the WWE ship afloat, it's Vince. There is no doubt that RAW and Smackdown! would be nothing but tribute shows, but the week after that, I think WWE would return to "regular programming". By that I mean Smackdown! as a brand would no longer exist. WWE may keep their four hours of weekly programming a week, but there's no way two "separate" brands would exist. There would instantly be on world champion, one U.S./Intercontinental champion, and just like it is now, one set of tag team titles and one women's championship.
But with such a depleted roster, would WWE be able to survive in terms of ratings, merchandise sales, and attendance? Right off the bat, I strongly believe they would. Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, and the rest of the remaining roster would have a major burden placed on their shoulders, but I see no reason why they wouldn't succeed. Of course, the ratings and merchandise sales would take a hit due to Cena, Punk, and Triple H no longer being around, but I think Orton, Sheamus, and Zack Ryder can keep business steady (Ryder didn't go to Abu Dhabi remember? He's at home, "selling his injuries").
However, I don't think Vince would put too much confidence in Orton & friends as the company's life-floaters. I have little doubt he would do everything in his power to sign back former WWE talent ASAP. Whether people like it or not, it would not surprise me to see guys like Batista, Bobby Lashley, Rob van Dam, and others back with the company on a full-time basis not long after the tragedy. Hell, Vince could even convince Steve Austin to return in a weekly, non-competitive role, and maybe even The Rock would feel guilty enough to appear on WWE programming at least once a month or something.
In addition, if WWE does not scrap any of their programming (including NXT and Superstars), we'll probably see A LOT of young talent from FCW called up sooner than later. Maybe not on RAW or Smackdown! right away, but I could definitely see WWE's two online-exclusive shows becoming the new home for FCW and it's roster. As for TNA, I don't see Vince raiding their roster unless he's truly desperate. Sure, he might hire back some former WWE names like Jeff Hardy, Matt Morgan, and The Dudley Boyz, but definitely not a hiring spree.
That would leave WWE with a depleted, but not demolished, roster. We would be constantly seeing new names in the main-event/upper midcard picture, with lots of young superstars on the rise. Obviously, the WWE won't be the same without the likes of CM Punk, Triple H, and John Cena, but that doesn't mean they're finished. WWE has plenty of resources available to keep on growing as the world's number one professional wrestling company. God Forbid a tragedy like this would ever happen, but I'm certain that even after losing dozens of superstars, the show would go on, no matter what.
What do you think? Would losing half of the WWE roster, including some absolutely HUGE names, be what finally forces Vince McMahon to close his doors for good? Or would he able to get past it and keep on producing the best television product he possibly can? I know it's not a likely scenario, but like they say, death often comes when we least expect it...
4. Day 4
I know Hustle already shared his thoughts on this exact same topic in his most recent column, but I have to throw in my two centsss as well.
As you've probably heard or seen on YouTube, up-and-comer Jesse Sorensen suffered a major neck injury during the opening contest of TNA's Against All Odds Pay-Per-View last night. Basically, Jesse's opponent Zema Ion hit Jesse with a moonsault, but both men were out of position, and Ion ended up striking Jesse directly in the head with his knees. Many people thought Jesse suffered a concussion, but the news was actually a lot worse, than Jesse had suffered a serious neck injury. You don't have to be medically coherent to realize that any sort neck injury is not a laughing matter. As of this writing, there has been no update on Jesse's condition. All we know is that he might be temporarily or permanently paralyzed, and if so, my heart goes out to Jesse and his family.
Here's the thing. I'm not going to sit here and lie to you about being Jesse's biggest fan. Truth be told, I've probably seen him wrestle one match my entire life due to my limited TNA viewing since Bound For Glory. However, I've heard nothing but good things about him from fellow Main Pager The Crow and other TNA fans. More than once I've seen people peg Jesse as the future of the X-Division and as a future wrestling star in general. To consider the possibility that his career may already be over is such a terrifying thing to do.
Folks, the man is 22 years old. 22! That's the same age as me, the same age as my friends, the same age as people I know who are getting ready to finish their school studies and begin their professional careers. I cannot wrap my brain around the fact that someone so young may have his entire life drastically changed because of a freak accident in a wrestling match. I'm sorry if it sounds stupid, but I don't think that's fair. Like I said, I don't know Jesse very well (and most of you reading right know probably don't, either) but I seriously doubt Jesse did anything in his life to deserve such a tragedy. I'm pretty sure he's not a serial killer or a rapist. I'm confident he's just a kid following his dream and trying to make it big in the wrestling business.
That's why I'm asking all of you, my readers, to take a moment to share a thought for Jesse Sorensen. It doesn't matter whether you're a WWE fan, a TNA fan, a fan of the Indies, or follow all three. No one - wrestler or non-wrestler - deserves to have something along these lines happen to them. Imagine going to work like you always do, but not being able to come back home because the unthinkable happened and you can't even walk on your own two feet. Imagine knowing someone - a friend, a colleague, a girlfriend - going to school like they do five day a week, except this time they don't come back home because they suffered a serious injury during their regular routine. It's just not possible to prepare for that sort of thing.
Obviously, the question on most people's mind is who gets the blame here? Zema Ion, for not being careful enough with his opponent? After all, if you ask any professional wrestler on the opponent, he'll tell you that the safety of his opponent is always his number one priority. More often than not, they'd rather harm themselves than do serious injury to their opponent. I have no doubt Ion feels absolutely terrible about what happened, and he'll never forgive himself if Jesse does not get the chance to fully recover.
I'm sure other people will also put the blame on TNA. Not because they forced Ion and Jesse to compete after wrestling 345 consecutive matches without rest or something, but because it's easy to blame TNA for every little thing. But I don't see how TNA did anything but help the situation. The referee for the match was attentive enough to notice something was seriously wrong with Jesse and was wise to end the contest immediately. Furthermore, rather than dwelling on the injury, TNA adopted the "show must go on" attitude and didn't let the horrific incident ruin what resulted in a solid PPV showing.
But now is not the time to start pointing fingers. Jesse's condition has not been updated since early this morning. There's a good chance he only received a "stinger" like Hustle said, or the news could be A LOT worse. I for one hope the latter is not the case, and again, whether you know who Jesse is, whether you like him or not, please keep him in your prayers. No one deserves to end up in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives, especially at such a young age.
5. Day 5
Writer's Note: Due to the success of last week's "What If..." column, I've decided to make it a new weekly feature of MTC. However, every topic won't be my creation alone. You, the readers, are more welcome to suggest some scenarios for me to explore. Today's "What If..." comes from Teacher's Lounge co-host, KMA Jackson.
This Sunday, WWE presents the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View, the last stop before Wrestlemania XXVIII. The only match confirmed thus far is John Cena vs. The Rock. However, many fans are expecting Big Show vs. Shaq, Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk, and Triple H vs. The Undertaker to be announced in the coming weeks. As we all know, if The Undertaker does indeed compete at Wrestlemania 28, he will be defending his legendary winning streak which currently stands at 19-0.
Before we go any further, take a second to process that. 19-0. Every wrestler dreams of one day competing at Wrestlemania, but unfortunately, very few are able to do so. But then you have The Undertaker, who has been with the WWE for over two decades, about to wrestle his twentieth match at Wrestlemania. If that's not impressive enough, Undertaker has managed to win every single time he's competed on the grandest stage of them all. It's not like Taker has been fed easy competition, mind you. The Deadman has defeated Hall of Famers like Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels - not exactly push-overs. Taker has survived Hell In A Cell, a Handicap match, and No Disqualification matches along the way. To many fans, The Streak is untouchable, plain and simple.
But, there was a time when the streak wasn't considered "The Streak". Believe it or not, WWE did not always have The Undertaker's winning streak to fall back on when Wrestlemania wasn't looking too good on paper. Back in 1998, Kane was a relative newcomer, but was already being booked as a badass. In fact, Kane appeared so dominant, that heading into Wrestlemania 14, The Undertaker was viewed as the underdog. Despite taking place early in both men's careers, they wrestled a good match, and kept the fans on the edge of their seats. Undertaker would eventually get the victory after hitting Kane with three Tombstone Piledrivers, but it has been speculated that Kane was originally supposed to kick out of the third Tombstone attempt, and beat The Undertaker.
Keeping this nixed scenario in mind, I ask you - what if Kane defeated Undertaker at Wrestlemania 14?
Well, as for Kane, I don't think the victory would have done much to help his career. Back then, The Streak was at a respectable, but not overly impressive, 6-0. Going into the match, I doubt the announcers even played up Undertaker's Wrestlemania resume. Therefore, had Kane ended The Undertaker's streak, very few people would have took notice. It's not like Kane would have appeared on RAW the next night and got massive heat for beating The Deadman. The victory may have gained Kane some extra credibility, but not much else. Kane's career would have remained virtually unchanged.
However, the same cannot be said for Taker. I honestly believe that if Kane was booked to defeat Undertaker at Wrestlemania 14, Taker's career would never have been the same. In fact, he probably wouldn't be regarded as the legend he is today.
Now, don't get it twisted. I'm not suggesting that Taker would have been released a few years later, or would have gone on to have a mediocre WWE career, or anything like that. I'm just saying that The Undertaker can attribute most of his success due to his Wrestlemania record. Because really, other than The Streak, what legacy does Undertaker carry with him? Sure, he's a veteran, and one of WWE's most tenured superstars, but so are a lot of other guys. Triple H, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, Stone Cold - these men are all future (and current) Hall of Famers, despite a rocky win/loss record at Wrestlemania. Unlike Taker, none of these greats built their career off an untouchable Wrestlemania streak.
If you think I'm "burying" Undertaker, I'm not - I'm simply stating the facts. Apart from being 19-0, what does Taker have to brag about? He is a former seven-time world champion, but how many of those title reigns are memorable? Not a single one stands out to me. He won the 2007 Royal Rumble, but it took him almost twenty years to do so. Also, before his match with Kane at WM14, none of Taker's previous Wrestlemania matches had been better than "decent". I'm confident that if Taker lost to Kane that night, he never would have wrestled amazing matches against Randy Orton, Edge, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H. Why? Because besides his match with Edge at WM24, all of those feuds and matches came about from Taker defending his Wrestlemania streak. I can almost guarantee you that Taker would have jobbed to Orton and even Mark Henry at Wrestlemania if there was no streak to keep intact.
Once again, I hope you don't interpret this as me bashing The Undertaker and his career. I'm sure with or without The Streak, Taker would have gone on to become a multi-time world champion, a massive fan favorite, and one of WWE's most reliable performers. He is a future Hall of Famer, with or without a Wrestlemania streak that will never be duplicated.
The truth is, years from now people will remember Hulk Hogan for creating "Hulkamania", Stone Cold for helping usher in The Attitude Era, Shawn Michaels for being an all-around great performer, and The Undertaker for "The Streak". But take The Streak away from The Deadman, and what do you have left to remember him by?
6. Day 6
Chrisss: The stench of Valentine's Day is finally behind us, which can mean only one thing! It's time for WWE's annual February Pay-Per-View, No Way....grrr Elimination Chamber. Damn, I hate that name. By the way, welcome back to the Main Page, Skitz. We've been seeing each other way too much lately.
Skitz: Agreed, but you know what? I'm quickly growing accustomed to our monthly rendezvous. At least you'll be free of my burden for 6 whole weeks after EC.
Chrisss: Like they say, you don't know what you got until it's gone, right? Okay, enough homo jokes, don't want those bastards at GLAAD coming after us. Before we begin, let's take a look at how we did with our Royal Rumble picks:
Chrisss: 2.0 / Skitz: 2.0
Looks like we both fucked up the Cena/Kane finish and who knew Sheamus would go on to win the 30-Man Rumble? Obviously not us. That being said, I have no idea which direction WWE is heading in for Sunday's PPV.
Skitz: Ha. On the contrary, I feel... almost completely in the know as far as Elimination Chamber's concerned. Correctly predicting who will walk out of each bout with their hand held high is always a mind-fuck. You're guaranteed a surprise or two no matter how smarkish one may be.
Chrisss: Can't argue with you there. WWE almost always "swerves" the fans at Elimination Chamber. I doubt this year will be any different. Since you're feeling cocky, why don't you share your insight on the show's only non-title match?
Ambulance Match: John Cena vs. Kane
Skitz: Well unlike the pair of Elimination Chamber contests, this bad boy is pretty cut and dry. Given which two individuals are involved in this feud coupled with the time-frame means that the victor is fairly fucking obvious at this point. Unless Zack Ryder goes full blown heel and flattens Cena with his wheelchair, WWE's Poster Boy is leaving Milwaukee victorious. Speaking of your favorite broski, how much does Super Chrisss hate John Cena right now? He's truly made life hell for the Long Island Iced Z. Dude's made more appearances in a neckbrace than he did with the United States Championship.
Chrisss: Wrestlemania 28 is less than two months away, so there's no doubt Cena is getting the win on Sunday to help him build momentum (not that he really needs it). I know a lot of people are complaining about the Ambulance gimmick, but I'm looking forward to this contest. This looks to be the final chapter of one of RAW's best storylines in years (no joke) and I'm sure both men will look to blow their Royal Rumble match out of the water.
As for my boy Ryder, I can't complain. Did it suck seeing him lose the U.S. title so quickly? Duh. But since the title loss, Ryder has been more involved in the Cena/Kane storyline than ever, while Jack Swagger has become a regular on Superstars. Also, this may be leading to a Wrestlemania match against Kane as well as a post-Mania feud with Cena. Some people will think I'm "reaching", but I definitely think Long Island Iced Z is being set up for a bigger push in the near future.
Skitz: Believe it or not, I actually agree with you wholeheartedly on this issue. Rather than turning into a villain, I suspect Ryder will use the Kane/Cena situation as a way of bringing seriousness to his character. Ruthless aggression FTW! After he jobs to Cenation, the next natural step would be for The Big Red Machine to continue targeting Zack & Eve. Hence why I also smell a WM28 match brewing.
And for the record, I have no qualms with the Ambulance Match this Sunday. Kudos to management for trying to mix it up rather than book yet another Last Man Standing or No Holds Barred affair. Not to mention the last one between Kane and Shane in '03 was pretty damn entertaining if I remember correctly.
Chrisss: I really enjoyed that match. Shane bumped like crazy (no surprise) and Kane played his part well. I have no idea why so many people hate on it.
As for Cena and Kane, I hope they're given at least fifteen minutes to beat the hell out of each other. Their match at the Rumble was just way too short. But when the smoke clears, Kane will be the one taking a ride in an ambulance. By the way, wouldn't it be hilarious is Kane is magically taken to the same hospital as Ryder, and we get a repeat of Vince and Austin?
Skitz: For sure. I wouldn't put it past The Creative Team to invent such a segment either. But focusing the attention back on the rivalry itself, has The Big Red Machine accomplished his goal of getting Cena to embrace the hate? And more importantly, why does it seems like Kane's trying to help his foe's chances against The Rock at 'Mania? That part still baffles me. Judging by the low number of announced matches for this weekend's pay per view, you can bet on this bout reaching 15-20 minutes pretty easily. Their program's been sweet tits and it's a bummer Cena & Kane have to part ways so soon. Goddamn you, Dwayne!
Chrisss: Just blame Dwayne. Hey, that almost rhymes! But you're right, I would have liked to see WWE push this angle a bit further, but they're running on borrowed time because I doubt they'll wait until the middle of March to go into hardcore Cena/Kane mode. I doubt we'll see Cena "embrace the hate" on Sunday, but I'm not ruling out a Cena heel turn in the near future.
Skitz: How very optimistic of you. I imagine WWE's Poster Boy will lose his shit during the later stages of the Ambulance Match and beat Kane into oblivion. End this war strongly I say! This bout should, for all intense and purposes, kick a ton of ass. Although it better if I'm handing them 45 bucks to watch.
Chrisss: Let's hope so. Their match at the Rumble was a bit of a let-down; hopefully this will make up for it. Cena for the "clean" win?
Skitz: Absolutely. Can't picture it concluding any other way. Oh and on a side note - Lol @ your bro when he witnessed Cena & Eve locking lips last Monday on RAW. Ryder's facial expression made me chuckle.
Chrisss: Shut up. I knew that ho only hooked up with gangsters and wanksters (Cryme Tyme, R-Truth, and now Cena). Let's move on.
Chrisss's pick: Cena wins
Skitz's pick: Cena wins
WWE Divas Championship: Beth Phoenix (c.) vs. Tamina
I know you're excited for this one, but I'm still not sold on Tamina. I've seen some impressive in-ring work from her, and that top-rope splash is badass. But it just seems like her push came out of nowhere. Does she stand any chance of dethroning The Glamazon on Sunday?
Skitz: You're asking me if Snuka's daughter will beat Beth for the belt? Of course not. Look I fully support the move to have Tamina challenge for the Divas Title as she's one of the few chicks who can hold their own between the ropes. But as far as being a legit threat to Phoenix, Tamina's nowhere near prepared. This cat fight is basically a decent sized obstacle on The Glamazon's path to facing Kharma on the big stage. I just wish for once the company would let Phoenix & Kong go out their alone without surrounding the ring with fucking lumberjills. That's the most retarded term I've ever heard in my life.
Chrisss: I can't disagree with any of that. Tamina Snuka - as she's now being called - has next to no chance of leaving Elimination Chamber as divas champion, but she'll provide Beth with a more entertaining match than Kelly Kelly or Alicia Fox could ever dream of doing. But the whole "keeping Beth occupied until Kharma arrives" thing is what bugs me. WWE could have built Tamina as a much more credible challenger, but they're not going to because Tamina will be almost forgotten about after Sunday. The best she can hope for is to be a Lumberjill at Mania (ugh). I don't think that's a good idea, but I have a feeling it's going down that way.
Skitz: Yeah unfortunately, Tamina is nothing but a small piece to a much bigger puzzle right now. I suspect that will change before 2012 comes to a close but obviously not anytime in the near future. Of course, we could both be completely wrong and Tamina ends up being 1/3 of a Triple Threat bout alongside Beth & Kharma. Who knows? I'm certainly clueless as hell when it relates to the Women's Division.
Chrisss: You're not the only one. When it comes to the divas division in the WWE, the Creative Team are obviously booking on the fly. Oh, well. I'm hoping for a decent match on Sunday and not a squash match. Beth will retain, but with any luck, both women will get to show off their skills.
Skitz: No doubt. Should be interesting to see if Natalya and her flatulence problems are present at ringside during this bathroom break. Speaking of which, I'm dealing with gaseous issues myself for eating a boatload of garbage lately. I need to either get my intestines replaced or start opting for healthier foods... Kinda leaning towards the former.
Chrisss: In that case, you and Natalya would be a match made in heaven. I wonder what Miss Simone would have to say about that? Let's keep moving before things get nasty.
Chrisss's pick: Beth retains the title
Skitz's pick: Beth retains the title
Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship: CM Punk (c.) vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz
Skitz: Given the weak quality of competitors in SmackDown's chamber bout, this has to be the odds-on favorite to main event the PPV. The single most interesting dynamic heading into this contest is what happens between Y2J and the reigning champ on Sunday. Will the two even cross paths inside the chamber? Because with WM28 on the horizon, there's no need to give Jericho/Punk away before then. The number of potential scenarios centered around RAW's chamber are intriguing on several levels.
Chrisss: Oh, I have no doubt this will close out the show, but that could change if WWE decides to throw us a major curveball. But more on that in a bit. The thing I like most about this line-up is that unlike Smackdown!'s Chamber match, there is no clear winner. Punk has held the title longer than Bryan has, and there are several names who could realistically leave with the WWE Championship. Also, history has proven that we're almost guaranteed at least one world title changing hands at the PPV, and I sadly think Punk's reign is coming to an end on Sunday.
What do you think, Candyman? Do you smell a title change in the air? Or is the company already dead-set on Punk/Y2J at Wrestlemania?
Skitz: Well that's the thing. I do in fact believe that management is hell bent on making that match happen on April 1st. And I'm also envisioning a title change... as in Chris Jericho leaving the chamber as WWE Champion. Because even though the company is already promoting a future showdown between Y2J and The Straightedge Superstar, there would be no confusion after Elimination Chamber. Cookie Monster would be invoking his rematch clause at the global phenomenon bottom line. Some folks might call that boring or too straightforward but fuck 'em. Traditional storylines never hurt nobody. You know the war of words alone will be worth the price of admission alone.
Chrisss: You bastard, you stole my prediction! Here I am thinking I'll go with a "shocker" and give the win - and the title - to Jericho, and you beat me to it. I hate you!!!
Seriously though, I wish my scenario of Ziggler winning the Chamber and Sheamus challenging the ZigZag man at Mania would come true, but I'm not holding my breath. Therefore, I'll play it safe and say either Punk retains or Jericho wins. Fuck it, I give the advantage to Jericho because Punk winning wouldn't really set up a one-on-one match at Mania. By having Jericho win, you have the face chasing after the title and you're guaranteed Jericho vs. Punk at the biggest PPV of the year. Technically, everyone wins.
Skitz: Yes, sir. Despite Mr. Ziggles receiving the short end of the stick for ages now, it'll serve him well in '12 once WMXXVIII is over and done with. The other challengers in RAW's chamber have zero chance of pulling off an upset. Miz automatically falls into last place because of his shoddy work over the last several weeks. And I didn't think it were possible but Truth has become more of a joke than he was this time a year ago. God bless Kofi for being dependable but this is a big man's discussion. Nonetheless, I could definitely see Kingston putting forth an impressive performance and ultimately finishing third.
Chrisss: I'm not going to lie, it would not shock me to see Kofi be the star of the match. I liked the aggression he showed on RAW, and even the fans started a "Kofi" chant. I wouldn't go as far to predict an upset win or anything, but Kofi being the runner-up or even third would make him the early favorite to win the Money in the Bank at Wrestlemania. Anyways, Kofi's time will come, as will Ziggler's, and who knows what the future holds for Truth and Miz. That's why my pick is Jericho leaving with the title.
Skitz: Same here. You've gotta figure the fans are guaranteed to witness at least one title change hands at the PPV. Hopefully, this bitch gets closer to 35 minutes. There's nothing worse than chamber contests which end almost immediately following the last pod being opened (I'm looking directly at you, SummerSlam '03).
Chrisss: With Big Show and Khali scheduled for Smackdown!'s Chamber match, you have to figure that this will be the longer of the two. Shucks, I miss the days when Elimination Chamber matches occurred at other PPVs. Oh, well. So are you sticking with Jericho as well or did you have a change of heart?
Skitz: Nah my money's on Y2J as well. The safe pick would be Punk retaining his WWE Championship but I've never been conventional. Just seems boring.
Chrisss: Boring, but still a major possibility. I guess we'll have to wait until Sunday.
Chrisss's pick: Jericho wins the title
Skitz's pick: Jericho wins the title
Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan (c.) vs. Wade Barrett vs. The Big Show vs. The Great Khali vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Santino Marella
Before Orton was pulled from the match, I had him pegged as the new world champion come Sunday. Now that's off the table, I've had to seriously re-consider the outcome. But I'll start by asking you this: will Santino even get to compete in the match, or do you see someone taking his spot, ala Edge/Kofi from 2009?
Skitz: There's always an outside chance that WWE allows Marella to parade around per usual and inject some comedy into the chamber before getting eliminated. However I can't picture it unfolding in said manner. Orton's supposed concussion has 'work' written all over it and Randy certainly didn't look injured following his clash with Big Show. The Viper will unleash an unholy beatdown on poor Santino and replace him in my opinion. Then Orton will go ape shit inside the Elimination Chamber and eliminate most of the participants. My only concern is what shape Randy will be in by the time he reaches Bryan. That or whether the World Heavyweight Champion weasels his way to victory once again.
Chrisss: See, here's the thing. I agree with you that the Orton injury is most probably a work, but I don't think Orton will be the one who takes out Santino on Sunday. Instead, I believe someone else will replace Santino, and my money's on a returning Christian or Drew McIntyre. Doesn't really matter who, because the way I see it, Bryan is leaving with the title. The Great Khali? Get the fuck outta here. Cody Rhodes? He's not ready. Wade Barrett? Too random. Big Show? He's set to feud with Shaq as early as next week. Therefore, Bryan is the only logical choice here.
The reason Orton was removed from the match? To make the world heavyweight title match at Mania a triple threat. No way Sheamus is sticking his nose in Punk and Jericho's business, so that leaves only one world title to go after - Smackdown!'s. Sheamus vs. Bryan is not big enough for Wrestlemania, and Sheamus vs. Orton has been done to death. BUT if Bryan retains on Sunday, Orton can easily get back in the title picture by claiming he never got a fair chance to compete for the world title. Just like that, we have a triple threat at Mania - Orton vs. Sheamus vs. Bryan.
Skitz: Hmmmmm I was expecting a return at this Sunday's pay per view in the form of Alberto Del Rio or Christian. Initially, I was picturing a non-wrestling segment also including the likes of Sheamus but your suggestion makes more sense. Personally, I would be elated if Captain Charisma managed to steal a pod in the SmackDown chamber. Now as far as 'Mania goes, the three way you mentioned is probably the likeliest scenario at this juncture. I'd prefer a Fatal Four-Way also including Wade Barrett since we haven't witnessed one of those in 12 years but the Brit appears to be fading a bit as WM28 approaches.
Chrisss: Yeah, going into 2012, I had Barrett penciled in for a world title match at WM28, but The Barrett Barrage has cooled off since his less-than-spectacular showing at the Royal Rumble. If Christian DOES return, I want him to be a face. The ratio of faces vs. heels on the current roster is still incredibly lopsided, and there's not many fan-favorites Captain Charisma has left to feud with, apart from a brief score-settler with Sheamus.
Hmmm decisions, decisions. Who do you favour leaving the Chamber with the world title?
Skitz: Ahhhhhh a Fatal Four Way Elimination bout is still feasible! Just replace Barrett with Christian and we're all set. Bryan's heel turn is still molding into something concrete and it'd be asinine to remove the belt from his waist now. Management's gotta ride The American Bandwagon into Miami and continue evolving his character. Please God let A.J. be at ringside during this match. That is one sexy little piece of ass.
Chrisss: I don't know what I agree more with. Bryan evolving into one of the most interesting heels in the business today, or how adorable A.J. is. So let me guess, you're going to be Mr. Predictable and go with a successful title defense for Bryan?
Skitz: Oh don't even attempt that reverse psychology bullshit on me. Besides, we both know that you're the one riding my coattails to success. Admit it, bitch!
Chrisss: Yeah ok, don't make me laugh! You're looking for 15 minutes of fame, not me.
Any final thoughts, or are we done here?
Skitz: Eh that should wrap things up. It's academic that the PPV features a throw-away match in the middle of the card somewhere. Jack Swagger in action defending his U.S. Title maybe? Another Brodus Clay squash seems doubtful since the Funkasaurus hasn't been on RAW or SmackDown since the Royal Rumble. Count on Sheamus appearing and gloating about headlining WM28 however. I mean he's on the poster after all.
Chrisss: I'm really surprised Sheamus isn't booked for the PPV. Its not like he has anybody worth facing, but jeez, you've got to give the guy SOME momentum heading into Wrestlemania.. Swagger? Nah, he's become a regular on Superstars. Brodus Clay is apparently off TV for the time being so forget those options.
Skitz: Wow. Thanks for completely knocking my dick in the dirt. You're a real pal.
Chrisss: Anytime, bro. I'll let you return the favour the next time we meet. #Pause
Chrisss's pick: Bryan retains the title
Skitz's pick: Bryan retains the title
7. Day 7
Earlier this week, less than twenty-four hours after Tuesday's Smackdown! tapings concluded, WWE revealed on their website that Randy Orton has been diagnosed with a concussion, and as a result, will not compete at the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View. Many people thought it was strange for WWE to reveal such a big announcement before it gets aired on television. However, the company took things a step further by announcing exactly who would replace Orton inside the chamber. Again...strange stuff.
Ever since that announcement was made, many people began freaking out. They called it "incredibly stupid" and blamed WWE for their bad booking, or even their weak Smackdown! roster resulting in Santino being placed in a world title match at a PPV. No logical reason could be concluded from WWE placing Santino in such a high-profile match, despite his popularity among the WWE Universe.
That's when people started to brainstorm. Maybe the whole Santino competing at Elimination Chamber scenario is a red herring. Maybe WWE will "shock the world" by pulling a switch-a-roo like they did in 2009 with Edge and Kofi Kingston, as in Santino getting taken out before he can enter his pod. This theory has the most legs, as the list of potential substitutes is quite long - Mark Henry, Alberto Del Rio, Christian, Randy Orton, Drew McIntyre - any one of those guys could ambush Santino and it would fit with their character. As of this morning, the top candidates to be the sixth and "real" member of Smackdown!'s chamber match were Orton, Del Rio, and Christian.
But this afternoon, WWE threw us a curveball. On their website, they showed a picture of a postcard from Christian that indicated he was in Milwaukee, the host for tonight's PPV. The article then went on to suggest a potential Captain Charisma return tonight. So, if Christian does take Santino's spot in the match, WWE have again spoiled a match and an angle. Not by a large margin, as we have to wait and see who ends up leaving Elimination Chamber as world heavyweight champion, but WWE may have spoiled another one of their storylines, and once again, on purpose.
I know I'm the columnist and I'm supposed to use some of my secret powers to solve the SPOILER mystery, but I'd rather ask you, the readers, instead. Why is WWE intentionally spoiling some of their surprises? Is it a one-time only thing, or can you see them doing it again in the near future? Is it to distract the fans from an even bigger swerve waiting to happen? Is it to make the company and their website seem more real?
You tell me.
Just a reminder, for those of you who missed yesterday's announcement: My Two Centsss will be going daily all of next week, but not at it's usual place. Next week's dailies will be found exclusively in the columns section of www.lopforums.com. For those of you who don't know where that is, I'll post a direct link and column preview to help you out. It'll be different, but it'll be fun.