We are less than twenty-four hours away from the final Pay-Per-View of Summer 2011, Night Of Champions. After putting two excellent shows at Money in the Bank and SummerSlam, can WWE make it three for three and score a knockout with tomorrow's show? Something tells me they won't, but I'm not in a pessimistic mood tonight. So let's run down the card, one at a time.
WWE Divas Championship: Kelly Kelly (c.) vs. Beth Phoenix
Kicking things off we have surprisingly the only rematch from last month's SummerSlam, Kelly vs. Beth. I predicted a Glamazon victory in Los Angeles, but WWE may have been wise to keep the belt on Kelly a bit longer as she actually looks a tad more credible out there. However, if the "Divas Of Doom" are to be taken seriously, Phoenix absolutely needs a victory tomorrow night. With Natalya falling to Kelly last week, how are the duo supposed to appear dominant if they can be easily beaten by a barbie doll? Beth wins, and I'm not complaining.
Winner, and NEW Divas Champion: Beth Phoenix
WWE Intercontinental Championship: Cody Rhodes (c.) vs. Ted DiBiase
In case you didn't know, yes this match is taking place tomorrow night. I don't blame you for not being sure though. Rhodes has been feuding with Orton so much lately you'd forget that he's "techincally" in a rivalry with his former friend, Ted DiBiase. Now, these two have been wrestling to great reviews at recent live events, which would explain the reason for it taking place tomorrow, but despite Rhodes' recent awesomeness inside the ring, I doubt they'll get enough time to tell a decent story. Expect Rhodes to win cheaply (presumably by using his mask like he did on RAW) and prolong this rivalry to Hell In A Cell.
Winner, and STILL Intercontinental Champion: Cody Rhodes
WWE United States Championship: Dolph Ziggler (c.) vs. John Morrison vs. Jack Swagger vs. Alex Riley
Even though this is a Fatal 4-Way match, we all know it's going to come down to two men: Ziggler and Riley. Morrison has nothing to gain from winning the title, and Swagger has been booked too inconsistently to warrant a championship win (but then again, he was also booked terribly going into Wrestlemania 26 but ended up winning MitB, so who knows). Regardless, either Vickie somehow screws Ziggler out of the title or he finds a way to keep it. Personally, I would book Riley to win the belt, but not tomorrow night. Defeating Ziggler one-on-one at Hell In A Cell or even Vengeance would be a more fitting end to Ziggler's excellent title reign. Riley's time is coming, just not so soon.
Winner, and STILL United States Champion: Dolph Ziggler
WWE Tag Team Championship: Air Boom (c.) vs. The Awesome Truth
One month ago, you probably didn't expect to see these two teams to face off at Night Of Champions for the tag team titles. Heck, you probably didn't even expect to see both units become "official" tag teams. That being said, The Miz and R-Truth are two of the more entertaining aspects of Monday Night RAW, and while putting them in this spot on the card is likely a downgrade, it will do wonders for Bourne and Truth to beat them. And that's exactly what's going to happen. Air Boom are less than a month into their reign as champions, and are too over to drop the belts so quickly. Truth and Miz have nothing to lose and little to gain, but the same can't be said for the champs. If WWE are serious about revamping the tag team division, then Air Boom MUST retain tomorrow night.
Winners, and STILL Tag Team Champions: Air Boom
WWE Championship: Alberto Del Rio (c.) vs. John Cena
There are plenty of people not looking forward to seeing this match, but keep in mind folks that this was supposed to be the main-event of last month's SummerSlam so count your blessings. Thus far, Cena and Del Rio's feud has been...uninspiring. They have clearly been overshadowed by CM Punk and Triple H, but that's probably a good thing. I like Del Rio, but he is not ready to main-event PPVs, at least not yet. He doesn't seem to believe he's actually the WWE Champion, and when paired wih Cena, a man who's no stranger to being a world champion, you get a bad mix. WWE won't take the belt off Del Rio until they tour Mexico next month, so the outcome is rather predictable. But will Cena put over Del Rio 100% clean? THAT is the question.
Winner, and STILL WWE Champion: Alberto Del Rio
World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton (c.) vs. Mark Henry
Although I'm disappointed we're not getting Christian vs. Sheamus for the world title instead, I have to give credit to both men in recent weeks. Orton has had fantastic matches against Ziggler and Rhodes, while Henry's mic work has me thinking WWE might actually pull the trigger and make him the world heavyweight champion. This has little to no chance of being match of the night, but I'm sure both men's facial expressions will tell a story of it's own. While a Henry title victory wouldn't shock me, I expect Orton to retain by disqualification and have the rematch at Hell In A Cell, where Henry will have a very good chance of walking away world champion.
Winner by disqualification and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Randy Orton
No Disqualification Match - If Triple H Loses, He Must Step Down as WWE C.O.O.: Triple H vs. CM Punk
There's no doubt about it, folks. THIS is the selling point of tomorrow's PPV. Has this feud been rushed? Yes. Has it been booked perfectly? Not at all. Will we get an outstanding match tomorrow night? I damn sure hope so. Both the action and the finish for this match could very well salvage a throwaway PPV. But what nobody seems to agree on is what will happen. We all know Kevin Nash will make an appearance, but to help who? Will he aid Triple H and "bury" Punk? Will he shock the world and help Punk? Will he lay out both men and just leave? Honestly, any of those three scenarios have a good chance of taking place, which makes picking a winner rather difficult. Hmmm HHH heel turn or Punk heel turn? Aw, what the hell, let's say Punk wins, just because I smell another "conspiracy" at work here.
Winner: CM Punk
2. Day 363
Two days ago at Night Of Champions, Mark Henry accomplished something that has eluded him his entire professional wrestling career - he won a legitimate WWE world championship. Many "experts" and long-time fans believed it would never happen, that his run as ECW Champion a few years ago was his "thank you gift" for being a company man for over a decade. Almost nobody expected Mizark to win the world title - or any title for that matter - less than six months after being drafted from RAW to Smackdown!. Suffice to say, Henry shocked the world last Sunday when he cleanly defeated Randy Orton and became the new world heavyweight champion.
But most of you already know that. So let's ask the burning question instead - does Mark Henrydeserveto be the world champion?
Based on everything he has done since turning heel and joining the blue brand, the answer would have to be yes, without a doubt. Why? Despite only recently being inserted into a main-event program, Henry has been a highlight of Smackdown! more often than not. He took a feud with The Big Show that should have been a trainwreck and turned it into a decent match at the Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View. After that, Henry had a mini-feud with Sheamus, another "big man", and their match at SummerSlam was far from the best match of the night, but again, it was another good match. Ten years ago, if I told you that Henry had competed in two consecutive, acceptable PPV matches, you would call me a crackhead. And you would probably be right, because up until a few years ago, most of Henry's matches were awful, slow, and boring. However, that's the old Mark Henry, and he's dead and gone.
THIS Mark Henry has not only stepped up his in-ring game, but whenever he's presented with a microphone, he seems to say something legen- wait for it - dary. The best part is, it's not like he's cutting a fifteen minute, "shoot" promo about how he's been overlooked or something. He just bursts out an awesome one-liner everytime he speaks. Whether his promos are scripted, or if Henry is using some of his own material, he has become a treat to listen to.
Now I know what you're thinking. "Chrisss, so what if Henry can put on an okay match with Big Show and talks non-stop about The Hall Of Pain? There's a reason he's been with the WWE for fifteen years and never won the world title before last Sunday?" If that's what's running through your head, well, I agree with you. Like I said earlier, Henry seemed to be going through the motions the first half of his career, as his ten-year contract guaranteed he would be employed by the WWE no matter how bad he stunk in the ring. Yet, sometime around 2006, right around the time Henry's contract was set to expire, we saw flashes of a renewed World's Strongest Man. Before he went down with an injury, Henry was being booked like a beast, decimating guys like Batista and The Undertaker. Despite returning and winning the ECW Championship, it has taken Henry almost five years to recapture the magic he had once been building up.
Chances are, Henry will drop the title at next week's Hell In A Cell or maybe even Vengeance. I would not be surprised if he does not head into Survivor Series as champion. This "Mark Henry as world champion experiment" could end as badly as Christian's first two world title reigns did, or maybe it will be the thing that creates a brand new main-eventer. Only time will find out. Right now, Henry is at the top of the food chain, and I couldn't be happier. He is bringing something new to the table and it's good to see Henry finally getting an opportunity to take the ball and run with it.
He is the world's strongest man, and he is also your new world heavyweight champion. No one knows for how long, so enjoy the ride while it lasts.
3. Day 364
Since the events of last Sunday night, it appears the entire Internet Wrestling Community cannot stop quarrelling over whether CM Punk was "buried" by Triple H or not. In my honest opinion, Punk was most certainly NOT buried, and that's all I'm going to say on the subject. If you want compelling reasons why, feel free to check out Hustle's latest daily or Mazza's "ZOMG! Buried!", which basically sum up my thoughts.
Anyways, prior to Night Of Champions, there was another rumour circling around Twitter and the rest of the internet that had people buzzing. On his Twitter account, current NXT commentator/wrestler and infrequently seen Smackdown! superstar William Regal tweeted to WWE and his followers demanding a shot at the world heavyweight championship when the company tours the United Kingdom this November. Almost immediately afterwards, my timeline was filled up by hashtags like #RegalForChamp and #RegalOrRiot. Even people who aren't his biggest fans jumped on the Regal bandwagon, believing that one of the best technical grapplers of our generation deserved at least one world title match before he retires (permanently, not Ric Flair style).
Keep in mind that these tweets and hashtags all started before Mark Henry defeated Randy Orton for the world heavyweight championship at Night Of Champions. I'm sure many people assumed Orton would retain the gold for quite some time, so when WWE happened to stop by Manchester in late-November, Orton could defend the title against William Regal. However, Henry winning the belt last Sunday certainly throws a wrench into those plans. Why? Well, if Henry is able to keep the title for the next two months, he would assumedly plow through the likes of Orton, Christian, and maybe even Sheamus before then. Now, if Henry is booked to defeat the likes of those three men, who are without a doubt the biggest stars on Smackdown!, why would anyone think Regal can come from nowhere and stop Henry's wave of destruction? Even though he'll have the hometown advantage, not even the U.K. fans can give Regal the strength he would need to dethrone The World's Strongest Man.
Fortunately, all hope is not lost. I'm sure someone with power in the company has heard about Regal's request for a world title match in November, and maybe that person can convince Vince McMahon to make it happen. After all, it's not like Regal is saying he wants to win the world title, or he'll quit. Regal has simply demanded one final chance to wrestle for the championship, because although he's signed to a lengthy WWE contract, Regal's days as an active competitor are almost over. There's no guarantee that Regal will not be officially retired the next time WWE returns to the U.K. This might truly be Regal's last chance to wrestle for the title that has alluded him all these years.
WWE, give him a shot. There's still two months left before WWE tours overseas. Have Regal return to Smackdown! in the upcoming weeks and give him a mini-push. Have him feud with Cody Rhodes, but not win the title. Just make Regal look credible, that way regardless if he's challenging Mark Henry, Randy Orton, or even his former rival Christian for the world title when Smackdown! stops by Manchester, the fans watching at home might believe Regal has a chance to become the world champion. I wouldn't put my money on Regal leaving the country as the world heavyweight champion, but if Regal is winding down his career, he might as well go out with a bang.
It doesn't matter if he's a face or a heel, how old he is, or what country he's wrestling in. William Regal deserves one final chance to become a world champion. Now it's up to the WWE to give him the opportunity to do so.
4. Day 365
A few months ago, I wrote about the RAW brand being disproportional in terms of the roster's face vs. heel ratio. Keep in mind though this was before CM Punk turned face almost overnight, and Rey Mysterio went out with an injury. In that column, I discussed how WWE had the perfect excuse to turn a drifting midcarder like Jack Swagger or Drew McIntyre, turn him face, and give him a big push. Unfortunately, that didn't really happen. Punk's face turn, although inevitable due to post-Money In the Bank booking, basically replaced Mysterio's absence, and WWE attempted to push Alex Riley as a huge babyface. The A-Ry experiment didn't work out as planned, and with Smackdown! stars now appearing on RAW, Sheamus and Randy Orton are wrestling as two top-tier faces on Monday nights, with only Punk and Cena above them.
But what if the RAW "SuperShow" ceases to exist? When Triple H announced that Smackdown! superstars would also appear on RAW, many people took that as a sign that the brand extension is nearing it's end. However, The C.O.O. never said the RAW "SuperShow" would be a permanent fixture of Monday nights; he said it would happen for the "foreseeable future". Maybe I'm wrong; maybe RAW "SuperShow" will continue for the rest of the year, maybe even for years to come. But what if it doesn't? What if WWE decides the influx of Smackdown! stars isn't helping to improve ratings and RAW goes back to being only one brand by December, for example. Should that happen, WWE will be presented with a major problem; they only have two credible babyfaces - Punk and Cena.
Of course, many things could happen between now and December. The Miz could turn face, The Big Show could return from hiatus, Triple H could start wrestling full-time again, blah blah blah. But looking at the current RAW roster, who could claim to be the third biggest face?
I'm sure an argument will be made for John Morrison. Before "Awesome Truth" was formed, Morrison was involved in a major feud with R-truth. However, since returning from neck injury, and Melina's WWE release, Morrison has been losing a lot of matches. That main-event push many thought was coming has flown out the window. Just take last week's RAW for example. Morrison was squashed by Alberto Del Rio in less than two minutes. In fact, one would even argue that Del Rio "BURIED" Morrison. Since returning a few months ago, Morrison has taken one step forward and three steps back.
I already name-dropped Alex Riley in today's column, and I'll bring him up again. After turning on The Miz last spring, A-Ry was booked like a beast, defeating his former mentor twice in a row and even competing in main-event tag team matches. However, since Money in the Bank, Riley has been booked strangely. One week he's defeating Jack Swagger, the next he's jobbing to Dolph Ziggler. One week he's in contention for the United States Championship, the next he's competing on Superstars. Riley has the tools to be a major player in the WWE, but he's been booked too inconsistently in recent weeks.
Before "Air Boom" won the tag team titles, many people predicted a midcard push for Evan Bourne or Kofi Kingston. Both men experienced a taste of the main-event in 2010, and I even went as far as to pick Kofi to be the man to win the RAW MitB Ladder Match. Alas, WWE seems to still have cold feet about pushing either man to the next level, so instead they're using their popularity to give a boost to a dying tag team division. "Air Boom" won't be tag champions forever, and when they eventually go their separate ways, I wouldn't be surprised to see at least one of them given a chance to take the ball and run with it.
If it's not Morrison, Riley, or "Air Boom", then surely no one is worthy of being considered RAW's third biggest face, right? Well, what about the Internet Champion, Zack Ryder? He's been on the receiving end of a fairly big push in recent weeks. Ryder was selected as Jerry Lawler's partner and defeated former tag team champions David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty, picked up a win over Drew McIntyre on Superstars the following week, and just this past Monday, got a pinfall victory over the United States Champion, Dolph Ziggler. That victory makes me wonder if we'll be getting Ryder vs. Ziggler for the U.S. title at Hell In A Cell and/or Vengeance. Add in the fact that Ryder also appears on Smackdown! as Teddy Long's assistant, gets more and more viewers with his YouTube show, and is one of WWE's top merchandise sellers (seriously), Ryder may be quickly becoming one of RAW's top faces.
John Cena, CM Punk, and Zack Ryder. A year ago, you would have called me crazy if I named those three as the biggest babyfaces on Monday Night RAW. Now? You just might agree with me.
Hmmm. Maybe the current product isn't that bad after all.
5. Day 366
We're less than a week away from WWE's third annual Hell In A Cell Pay-Per-View, but that is not the PPV event I wish to discuss in today's column. In case you missed it, the early buyrate for last month's SummerSlam has been released, and I can't say I'm surprised with the results:
"According to updated numbers from WWE, the preliminary buyrate for WWE's 2011 SummerSlam pay-per-view is only 301,000 buys, down from the 350,000 buys in 2010 and 369,000 buys in 2009."
While 300,000 PPV buys is not a bad number (every WWE PPV post-Wrestlemania has earned less than 300,000 buys), it's important to note a decline in revenue from the previous year's SummerSlams. Two years ago, SummerSlam almost got 400,000 buys. This year's event saw almost 25% less purchases from 2009's show. That is NOT a good sign for the WWE.
If you asked me, the primary reason for this year's show not being as impressive revenue-wise when compared to other years' is because of the lack of hype for the event. WWE put so much effort into making Money In The Bank feel like a must-see event, and fumbled their storylines immediately afterward, that SummerSlam came across as an afterthought. I would argue that they only REALLY started the build-up to SummerSlam a mere two weeks before the PPV, once Punk had returned and Cena was crowned champion. WWE then tried to sell the event as a one-match show, assuming that by inserting Triple H into the main-event would garner enough interest.
Well, they were wrong. After witnessing CM Punk and John Cena put on a historic match at Money in the Bank, I would have loved to see them go at it again at SummerSlam. The thing is, I was not keen on whipping out my wallet a mere four weeks later for only one match. I ordered MitB for Cena/Punk, Orton/Christian, the two MitB ladder matches, and even Henry/Big Show. But going into SummerSlam, there was very little to be excited about. Punk/Cena and Orton/Christian, although both solid, were rematches, and...oh, wait, what was the rest of the card? I can't seem to recall because WWE only promoted a few matches, not the entire card. I know I'm not the only one who decided not to purchase a PPV with only four pre-announced matches, and the buyrate seems to reflect that.
Now, I'm sure the Punk-haters will blame the poor buyrate on him. They'll argue that WWE put on a great PPV, and the event wasn't successful because Punk isn't a draw. If anyone truly believes that, they need professional help. To put the blame on CM Punk is ludicrous. Both John Cena and Triple H (two of WWE's biggest stars of the last decade) were also advertised for the main-event. So why should Punk take the blame while the other two get off without a slap on the wrist? If anyone should take the heat for post-MitB RAW ratings and/or a mediocre SummerSlam buyrate, it shouldn't be Punk. He gave WWE the best angle they had in years and he had to watch them run it into the ground.
The reason SummerSlam did not perform up to "expectations" is simple - in a tough economy with bills to pay and internet streams free to everyone and their mother, WWE really has to step up their game if they want to sell PPVs. Shows like Wrestlemania 27 and the aforementioned Money in the Bank PPV outdid their 2010 numbers because WWE hyped the hell out of both events. Judging by the lack of build-up to SummerSlam (or if you prefer, putting the entire focus on one match), WWE has no one to blame but themselves for the low and declining buyrate. If anything, they should be rewarding Punk for making them switch the planned main-event of Cena vs. Del Rio to Punk vs. Cena. I'm curious how WWE would have hyped that match.
I'm not saying SummerSlam was a bad show, because it really wasn't. But why put on a five-star Pay-Per-View when very few people bother to purchase it?
6. Day 367
Over the past few weeks, I have heard dozens, if not hundreds, of complaints from the Internet Wrestling Community about how the current WWE product is unbearable to watch. Some people are saying it's the same old storylines being recycled over and over; others are tired of seeing John Cena constantly involved in the world title picture; hell, some people are still bitter over the PG rating. Yours truly is no innocent bystander though - it wasn't that long ago I was scolding WWE for dropping the ball with CM Punk and doing a piss-poor job of promoting SummerSlam, their "second biggest Pay-Per-View of the year".
But when you take a minute to step back and view the product from another perspective - let's call it a "mark's perspective - things really aren't as bad as they seem. In fact, I'd even go as far as to claim that the 2011 WWE product is way better than what we were getting twelve months ago. Don't believe me? Then I'll show you.
The main-events. 2010 was a great year to be a Cena-hater. Why? Because WWE's top guy spent a good portion of the calendar year feuding with The Nexus and Wade Barrett rather than chasing the WWE Championship. This allowed the company to push Randy Orton as a top face and have him feud with Sheamus for the world title over the summer and fall months - bad idea. What resulted was a lackluster feud filled with decent but forgettable matches. When wrestling fans recall their favorite matches from 2010's SummerSlam, Night Of Champions, and Hell In A Cell, they're more likely to discuss the Cena vs. Nexus/Barrett confrontations than any Sheamus/Orton match.
Smackdown! wasn't doing any better. While Kane was enjoying a better-than-expected "thank you" world title reign, his run as champion was anything but enjoyable. Kane's long-awaited feud with The Undertaker happened a few years too late, and the two veterans stunk up television shows and PPV main-events for far too long. To make matters worse, when Kane was done with 'Taker, his feud with Edge was even worse. For a good six months (July 2010-December 2010), no one but veterans occupied Smackdown!'s world title picture.
Fast-forward to SummerSlam 2011. Although I bitched about it in Tuesday's column, I have to commend the WWE for giving us two fresh main-event match-ups in Cena vs. Punk and Orton vs. Christian. Both contests may have been rematches from past PPVs, but at least the fans were heavily invested in both of the backstories. Not only that, but each contest was absolutely worthy of being a SummerSlam main-event, as they both delivered big-time. Ask yourself this: which match did you enjoy more - Rey Myserio vs. Kane from 2010 or Christian vs. Orton from last month? Sheamus vs. Orton from last year or Punk vs. Cena II? I'm pretty sure both of this year's contests get the nod.
A rising mid-card. Last year, Cena, Orton, Mysterio, Kane, Big Show, Edge, Chris Jericho, and The Undertaker were all heavily involved in most of the year's PPVs. This year, WWE has had to make some changes in the guard due almost all of these big stars either retiring, leaving the company, or being sidelined with an injury. While I'm sure their absence has hurt buyrates and attendance figures, it has forced WWE to call up some new blood.
One year ago, what were Christian, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, and Zack Ryder doing? Hmmm, let's see. Christian was doing next to nothing, Henry was getting lost in the RAW shuffle, Ziggler was stuck in second gear on Smackdown!, Rhodes was almost irrelevant, and Ryder was jobbing on Superstars. My, how the times have changed ever so quickly. A few roster switches and face/heel turns later have resulted in these men finding their way back into the spotlight. Christian won the world title twice, Henry is the current world champion, Ziggler is a solid United States Champion, Rhodes is the Intercontinental Champion, and Ryder is finally getting a push on both RAW and Smackdown!.
It wasn't that long ago that people were classifying these five superstars as "midcarders for life". So much for that theory.
Women's wrestling actually means something again. Hear me out. I'm well-aware that Kelly Kelly has been the divas' champion for almost four months now. BUT, look at who she's been feuding with since August - Beth Phoenix and Natalya, the "Divas Of Doom". Although it's complete bullshit that Phoenix is yet to take the title off K2, at least the rivalry has been rather interesting, especially when you compare it to last year, when we had to endure the title reigns of Eve Torres and Alicia Fox (what were they thinking?!). Kelly vs. Phoenix isn't exactly on par with Trish vs. Lita, but it's a lot better than Eve vs. The Bellas.
The midcard titles have regained some of their lost prestige. I could have included this with the midcard section above, but fuck it. Some people have to open their eyes and realize that the tag team, Intercontinental, and United States championships have all been rejeuvanted in recent months, mainly because of their current title-holders. There's obviously no chance the U.S. title will be defended in the main-event of an episode of RAW anytime soon, but you have to praise WWE for putting the midcard belts on all the right people.
One year ago today, Show-Miz were the tag team champions, Dolph Ziggler was the Intercontinental Champion, and Daniel Bryan was the United States Champion. While that's certainly not a bad group of people to carry titles around, they defended their belts so rarely you'd sometimes forget who was champion until. Three months ago, David Otunga & Michael McGillicutty were tag team champs, Ezekiel Jackson was the Intercontinental Champion, and Ziggler had recently won the U.S. title. Apart from Ziggler, none of these guys deserved their respective title, not even Zeke, who was pushed too soon. That's why I'm glad that today's champions include Air Boom, Cody Rhodes, and of course, Ziggler.
What I like the most about our current midcard title holders is that unlike the former champions in recent times, I can realistically see each one of them moving up the card in no time. Ziggler continues to get more and more air-time, Rhodes has wrestled and even pinned Randy Orton, and Air Boom have been booked phenomenally since winning the titles. Not only is today's midcard stronger than 2010's midcard scene, but the champions appear dominant as well, and no longer seem like second-fiddle to the main-eventers (although WWE Creative would have you think otherwise). From here, there's nowhere for the midcard to go but up.
I could keep going, but I think that's enough. From almost every way you look at it, despite it's flaws, 2011 WWE is a much better product than the 2010 version. For those out there who are complaining that we're stuck in the worst period in wrestling history, they need to stop being dillusional. 2011 may not go down in the record books as WWE's most shocking, exciting year ever, but Vince McMahon's creation has been through a lot worse.
If anything, just be glad we're not witnessing another 1995 (*shudder*).
7. Day 368
Man, it feels like just yesterday I was typing up my predictions for the Night Of Champions Pay-Per-View. But here we go again, less than forty-eight hours before WWE's third PPV in five weeks, Hell In A Cell. Although a mere five matches have been made official, the card already intriuges me more than Night Of Champions did. Mainly because there's a good possibility of two or three excellent match-ups taking place. Which ones you ask? I'm getting there, but let's kick things off with the WWE Divas.
WWE Divas Championship: Kelly Kelly (c.) vs. Beth Phoenix
Is three times a charm for The Glamazon? I sure hope so, because if Beth fails to knock off Kelly AGAIN tomorrow night, she probably won't get another opportunity at the title anytime soon. I was pissed when Kelly retained the title at SummerSlam. Even more fans were outraged when Kelly defeated Beth in her hometown at Night Of Champions. I can just imagine the amount of worldwide hate that will occur if Kelly finds a way to walk out of New Orleans with her championship intact. I'm praying that doesn't happen, though. I predicted Beth to win at the last two PPVs, and I'll be damned if I switch sides now. Winner, and NEW WWE Divas Champion: Beth Phoenix
WWE Tag Team Championship: Air Boom vs. Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger
I know this match is unconfirmed, but I am certain it will occur at tomorrow's show. I would have preferred Ziggler vs. Ryder for the United States Championship, but that can wait until Vengeance in three weeks. In the meantime, I fully expect this match to be announced via wwe.com over the weekend, or added to the card as a "bonus match". Now, if Air Boom weren't still relatively new as champions, I'd give the nod to "Swaggler" here. However, Air Boom have found major success since winning the belts and continue to get more and more over with every passing week. I like Swagger and Ziggler's new team, but it's too early to take the belts off the high-flyers. Winners, and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: Air Boom
Sin Cara A vs. Sin Cara B
Several of my readers are quite into this feud, but I'm sorry, I'm not buying it. You can be a mark and call this match "Blue Sin Cara vs. Black Sin Cara". Or you could be a smark and call this match "Mistico vs. Hunico". Honestly, I really don't care. Either man has done anything to wow me since he/they debuted earlier in the year, and to watch both of them wrestle in identical ring gear under those annoying Christmas lights seems more like a punishment than a treat. Then again, maybe I'll be proven wrong. Maybe the two Caras will go out there tomorrow and put on an exciting, fluid, breath-taking match. Or maybe it'll be botchamania. Either way, I hope the "good" Sin Cara wins and his imposter is unmasked, and the feud ends. But I doubt I'm that lucky. Winner: Sin Cara A
Christian vs. Sheamus
If given a good amount of time to work with, these two could easily pull off the match of the night. They clearly have their work cut out for them, as both world title matches will be contested inside Hell In A Cell, while theirs will be an old-fashioned, singles contest. But don't count them out so easily. Christian is having an incredible year, competing in some of the year's best PPV matches against Alberto Del Rio and Randy Orton. As for Sheamus, he's in the middle of a successful face turn, and has adapted his in-ring style accordingly. I'll be very disapppointed if their match doesn't live up to it's hype (which started BEFORE Night Of Champions, by the way). I feel Christian needs the win a lot more than Sheamus does, but if Sheamus is going to eventually be next in line to challenge for the world title, a big victory over Christian would set him on the right track. Winner: Sheamus
Hell In A Cell for the World Heavyweight Championship: Mark Henry (c.) vs. Randy Orton
Is it normal I'm more excited for this match than the triple threat main-event? Meh, who cares. As J.R. would say, this is sure to be a "slobber-knocker". I find it hard to believe Henry has never competed in Hell In A Cell, as you would assume the gimmick would fit his character perfectly. Regardless, as impressive as Henry's title win at Night Of Champions was, I believe this will be THE match that puts The World's Strongest Man on the map. It won't be pretty, it won't be technical, but we will see a hell of a match tomorrow night between these two men. I'm sure WWE is itching to get the title back on Orton, but Henry has been fantastic in his title reign thus far (a ratings spike doesn't hurt either). Like it or not, the Henry push will continue. Winner, and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Mark Henry
Hell In A Cell for the WWE Championship: John Cena (c.) vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk
I may be more pumped about Henry vs. Orton, but I still have high expectations for this match. Unlike the rest of the card, this is the only match where I'm uneasy picking a winner. WWE's Tour of Mexico is just around the corner, so it would make sense for WWE to put the title back on Del Rio. However, I don't think WWE would feel comfortable having Mark Henry and Del Rio as their two current world champions, so forget about that theory. CM Punk continues to be one of the highlights of RAW, but has lost at the last two PPVs. A win tomorrow would certainly dispel those pesky "PUNK WAS BURIED" complaints and satisfy the majority of the IWC. That being said, I think the best bet is to keep the title on Cena. Despite having twelve WWE/World title reigns, Cena's days as champion are not anything to brag about. He needs to hold onto the belt longer than a few weeks for a change. As long as Cena does not head into Wrestlemania 28 as WWE Champion, I have no problem with a Cena victory at Hell In A Cell. Winner, and STILL WWE Champion: John Cena
Song Of The Day:
So after much debating (and trying to get off work), I will unfortunately be missing tomorrow's PPV. I'm sure it will be an above-average show, and like I mentioned earlier, I could easily see Sheamus/Christian, Henry/Orton, and the Triple Threat each being phenomenal. If you're watching Hell In A Cell, I hope you enjoy it.
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Keep on fist-pumping until the world ends, broskis!