*Disclaimer: all pictures used throughout are utilized for the purpose of criticism and entertainment*
How much truth can a man stand? That’s not a question I want you to really answer, it’s rhetorical in your case, reader. It’s also a lyric to a rather quirky song of the same name. I’ll answer, however, and say, “Er… somewhere in the vicinity of a little bit and too damn much”. See, I only acknowledge so many truths right now, in my 24 years and one month of life. One of these truths is that The Walking Dead really isn’t all that amazing a show. That’s not to say that it’s bad, but as whole, the episodes are usually C+ to B quality in my opinion. Another truth: the two best episodes of the show (season one, episode one; season three, episode twelve) owe virtually ALL that status as “best” to one man: Lennie James, who plays Morgan Jones. Another truth: these brilliant performances are likely why he’s starring in the new AMC show Low Winter Sun.
Yes, truths are fun. Here’s one that’s directly related to the WWE: this year’s Summerslam is shaping up to be Wrestlemania: Summer Edition. And that’s saying something. With the white hot intensity of the Bryan v. Cena feud and the reintroduction of fire in a match, I see few people even ABLE to complain about the card. But what’s in a card? What do you think will happen? Frankly I don’t care: here’s what I think will happen though, and if you agree, that’s cool. If you don’t, that’s cool too. I’ll just feel all types of special that you cared enough to read.
Pre-Show: Rob Van Dam vs. Dean Ambrose (c) for the United States Championship
Right off the back, a big match. For the casual fan, this is due to be a treat beyond treats. For the indie fan, this is a dream match. For people like us at L.E.W.D., this is two meals at the Varsity, a fresh roll of toilet paper and a second copy of Batman: Hush. Translation: epic.
It’s no secret that Swatkowski and Good are two tremendous talents, and the idea of them doing battle is terrific, so the question isn’t whether or not it’ll be a good (no pun intended) match, but rather why put such a match in the pre-show? Well, I wish I could tell you. So I will.
Fact is we have to remember one thing: RVD is a part-timer. That’s not to say that he shouldn’t hold a belt or have a feud, however. He’s a 42 year old man who is noticeably slower than he was in his ECW/WWE prime, or even in his tenure with TNA (earlier on), but he is more than capable of putting on a great match and putting over good talent. Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley (Jonathan Good)) need something to maintain some relevance as the focus on the Shield has taken a backseat to the Wyatt Family, and a bout with RVD is just what he needs.
There’s something else that’s special about this match: the title that’s on the line. You can argue that the United States Championship is the spiritual successor of sorts to the ECW Championship, the belt that Rob Van Dam is almost notorious for. Should he win come Sunday, he’ll have come full circle, and the series he and Ambrose can put on could result in a strong push for the unofficial leader of the mercenary group.
As for predictions, I see RVD winning, but just barely. Frankly it doesn’t matter who wins: WE win because it’s sure to be a damn fine match.
Natalya (with the Funkadactyls) vs. Brie Bella (with Eva Marie and Nikki Bella)
Say what you will about Total Divas: the show is a hit. I like it. Maybe you do too. If anything I gained a new respect for most of the Divas, save for Natalya. I’ve always significantly respected Natalya. With the canon of the show, Natalya plays the role of the older sister who both does all she can to uplift her younger siblings and yet can’t get a break of her own to really shine. The way she is on the show, you can’t help but feel for her. Hell, even ?uestlove was feeling for her, and that man has better things to do than watch TV, like work on the new Roots album, or find a barber.
No hate, ?uest: I wanna fro like you when I grow up. Anywho, part of me is surprised that it’s Brie Bella vs. Natalya as opposed to Nikki. Nikki just comes across as more of a bitch, but what I anticipate is a fan favorite crowd response for Nattie as well as her carrying Brie through a lot of the match. The Bellas are a decent enough pair of wrestlers, I suppose, but Natalya is a Hart: she’s got it in her blood, and I think she’s finally getting that push into being a contender for the title. We can only hope. As much as I love seeing AJ
with those pigtails and short shorts, er, I mean with that belt, Natalya would bring some class to it, and straight laced prestige.
My prediction: Natalya wins via submission. Don’t ask why.
Also, this serves as an extension of the show. I find it harder and harder to say it breaks kayfabe, really. It’s just as scripted as RAW or SmackDown! as far as I can tell. That’s why the other four are there. On another note, I can’t stand Eva Marie. But I respect her. Because she called out Jerry Lawler for looking at her a certain way and smacked him. God bless you, unnatural red head. God bless you.
Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston and AJ Lee
First and foremost, shout out to that guy on Smackdown a week ago who screamed “AMY SCHUMER!” when Dolph Ziggler mentioned ex-girlfriends. I haven’t laughed so hard at an ad-lib since someone tried to explain that Control was Big Sean’s song. HA! BWAHAHAHAHA! That liar…
What we have here is your standard mixed tag match, and all the parties involved have one thing in common: AJ Lee. Still. Hard to imagine but she’s been in the forefront of a major story one way or another for months, and I dare say her rise from nothing to something has been as dynamic as Daniel Bryan’s. Even now we have a sick kind of love (sic) angle shy of a Nujabes series. Dolph is an ex. Big E is a wild card. Kaitlyn is a lesbian in fan fiction. And AJ is just soaking up everything, playing the narcissistic woman with zero self-esteem, justifying her existence with that belt and the men she’s ran though (or should I say who’ve ran through HER? HIYO!).
But as a whole, I struggle to see the necessity of this match outside of putting together two feuds that could be split apart. We have AJ and Kaitlyn still, but that’s lost a lot of focus and relevance. Sure, it’s entertaining, but Kaitlyn is fighting for revenge and AJ is just fighting, playing the role of defense. With Dolph and Big E, it’s an odd kind of mentor vs. student thing, but Big E’s role as AJ’s friend/Ziggler’s heavy has never been expounded upon outside of a hatred for Ziggler and a “I love her, I love her not” thing with AJ. Sure, she’s cute, almost adorable, certainly desirable, but Big E himself still stands as little more than a big black guy with personality and a borderline painful-looking finisher.
I’m not even sure what CAN be resolved with this match outside of a decent showing. All four of them are impressive enough in the ring, so if nothing else it’ll be a solid exhibition, but as Bruce Lee said:
Kane vs. Bray Wyatt in a Ring of Fire match
Ooh baby, when’s the last time we have a match involving everyone’s favorite element fire?!
Let me wipe the drool from my mouth right quick. Yes, the Devil’s Favorite Demon is taking on the Devourer of Worlds in a Ring of Fire match. What does this mean? It means the ring will be surrounded by fire, and the two will do battle. As far as gimmicks go, this is the closest the WWE has gotten to blatant sacrilege in a while, and praise Jebus the Jew for that! We need blatant sacrilege every once in a while, keeps up on our toes, keeps us focused. The match itself is an extension of the still more or less undefined mugging that the Wyatts committed on Kane way back when, and this match likely serves as a way for Kane to lose his match, join the cult and give the Undertaker someone to challenge in due time, all the while reintroducing the dark, violent man that has been Kane on various occasions in the past.
But here’s the thing: this is a very “adult” storyline, if you can catch my meaning. Not for the violence or the imagery or anything but because of the symbolism. I compare it, ironically enough, to the song Hellfire from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Disney version. As far as Disney songs go, it broke EVERY rule. The song featured a judge (judge for the Disney movie, archdeacon for the traditional tale) who was essentially singing about a gypsy girl he was in lust with. Lust in a Disney movie? Not blatantly! They usually do that in a subtle manner.
But lust, religious imagery, the mea culpa, fire, DEATH, the song covered it all. It wasn’t just about his lust, or how evil the woman MADE him as opposed to how evil he himself was, but how he was asking God to either make the woman (kid by our standards, but this was 1400s) his, or give her up to the flame (Hell), all while begging for mercy for himself AND her. It was deep, and frankly the sequence alone in the film was worth the price of admission. Don’t let your kids see it though: they WILL be scared and confused. But since I endorse scaring and confusing kids…
Sorry, I got a bit off topic. I just enjoy that sequence. As far as Kane and Bray go, it’ll be a welcome reintroduction to the man we once called Husky Harris, and I see him winning, thus dragging Kane into the Wyatt Family. And yes, I WILL be playing this awesome song if Wyatt embraces Kane as a new disciple.
Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow
You can consider this a prequel for a World Heavyweight Championship match in a near future PPV. And you can also be mad at the WWE for not being wholly consistent with Cody’s character. At first he came across as a petty, whiny, sore loser who was wholly unjustified in how he was treating Sandow and his briefcase. After last week, he ADMITTED that he was a petty, whiny, sore loser who was wholly unjustified in how he was treating Sandow and his briefcase, and to add insult to that he admitted that he would have done the same thing to Sandow if he was in his position.
You may wonder why I have an issue with this. Simple: after admitting something like he did, his role in attacking Sandow becomes moot. The idea of Rhodes taking the briefcase is ridiculous, and the notion of Sandow fighting Rhodes first and THEN cashing in adds filler, not content, to Sandow’s first World Heavyweight Championship reign. Because he WILL win it. It’s written in the stars, or at the very least MY stars.
The saving grace is the match itself come Summerslam, which will be a good one, and will almost certainly result in a Rhodes win. Why? Just because. If Sandow wins, which I doubt, the ultimate outcome will remain the same, and I’ll get to it in a little while.
Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio (c) for the World Heavyweight Championship
Let’s address the elephant in the room right now: this match is irrelevant. Yes, irrelevant. Completely and utterly. Never mind my melancholy towards Del Rio or my disinterest with Christian: this match is little more than the equivalent of a place holder for the future title match between the above two. Now, from a pure wrestling standpoint, this will be a MONSTER. Seriously, it’ll be beautiful to watch. Christian and Del Rio are two of the most gifted wrestling talents in the WWE, but one is nearing the end of his career I think and the other is… Del Rio.
Nothing more to say about it. The belt? Who cares? It’s the World Heavyweight Championship: it hasn’t had meaning for a while, and it’ll stay that way even after Del Rio wins. Yes, I call Del Rio winning. But therein lies that “ultimate outcome” I mentioned in the Rhodes v. Sandow match. So long as Sandow can MOVE after that match, win or lose, and they do battle BEFORE Christian and Del Rio, I see him cashing in during the PPV. Sandow will be loved as a hated fellow, Rhodes will be looked at as the man to take the belt from him, and MAYBE Del Rio will be thrown into a storyline that’ll make him worth a damn.
We can only hope.
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman (and likely Curtis Axel))
The Best vs. the Beast. How poetic. How appropriate. Or IS it? Perhaps another indie favorite is making a solid claim as being “the best”. But I digress. It doesn’t matter who is the best. Trying to determine who is stands as a fruitless test. A worrisome quest. In choosing one you neglect the rest.
I apologize: I was having fun at your “This guy is SO corny” expression’s expense. The story is simple here: CM Punk wants revenge on Heyman. Heyman chose Lesnar as his champion. Punk turned one-track minded and stayed focused on trying to hurt Heyman. Lesnar introduced Punk to a special variation of the F5 I refer to as the F.Y.L. F5, F.Y.L. standing for “f*** yo life”.
Honestly I think Lesnar really tries to hurt people in that ring. Good for our visceral nature but bad for business. In any case, this will probably be the second best match on the card, from both an in-ring perspective and a psychological perspective. Punk is fighting like a man possessed and Lesnar is in his zone, doing what he does best: hurting people. We like that. We like it when Lesnar hurts people. You hear that, WWE? Resign Shannon Moore!
So here’s the truth regarding me: as fun as this match will be – and it WILL be fun – my only question is “What now?”. I’m not sure who is set to win, but I’m leaning more towards Punk, because I don’t see HOW this story can progress from this point. Including Axel is odd, but he’s the third Heyman Guy, and he’ll likely have a role, but it doesn’t answer my only question.
I’m leaning toward Punk winning, beating Lesnar and Axel senseless, then turning his attention to Heyman, and afterwards getting back into the title hunt. As I was telling the Right Reverend Showtime the other day, I have a feeling the CM Punk who looked at the new WWE Championship belt and said, “I want THAT one” would be VERY welcome once this feud was over. And it could culminate in my dream main event for Wrestlemania XXX. Ah, dreaming…
Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena (c) for the WWE Championship (with Triple H as Guest Referee)
Here it is. The big one. The granddaddy of matches this Sunday. Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena. What can I say that hasn’t in some way already been said? It’s the wrestler’s wrestler vs. the sports entertainer’s superman. We’ve seen promo after promo, funny shirts, a few puns, even a brief appearance by Heel Cena (also known as Jerk Cena, also known as the Dick) and now we even have Triple H as the guest ref.
Why? Because. Because why? You’re asking too many questions. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t like him being a part of the match, but with McMahon being a part of the Bryan v. Barrett match on SmackDown! the ref position is “justified”. Like I’ve said, and will say in a piece that’ll probably be up just before the PPV starts, the McMahon power struggle is a grand storyline that’ll likely end with McMahon being ejected from being the primary figurehead seen on TV. Don’t ask me about it here, wait until the other piece comes up.
As for the match, it’s going to be interesting. Note: interesting. Good? Yes. Great? Likely. Epic? Perhaps. Five stars? Remains to be seen. At the end of the day we have a man who stands as today’s Hogan and a man who would shine the best against someone like Kurt Angle, or the man with no name himself, Chris Benoit. That triple threat match would have been incredible. But c’est la vie: it’s impossible now. Stupid Angle drinking and getting caught…
Now, let’s address some wild cards. First: Randy Orton. I don’t know WHY they’re making him out to be this boogeyman, but that’s all he is right now. He’s constantly reminding Bryan and Cena that he’s there, and in true buzzard fashion he WILL likely swoop in on the victor when they’re out, and… lose. Well no, that’s not quite right. I’ll get to that later.
Second: Wade Barrett. Remember the McMahon power struggle story and how Vince said he didn’t want Cena OR Bryan to hold the belt. His vision of a Superstar isn’t Orton either though: he’s too lean. But who stands as big, muscular, clean cut and constantly angry? Wade Barrett. Who MIGHT be finally getting his chance to shine. The hell with a title, I’m happy to just see him pursue it actively. As I’ve said: I think he’s the most deserving guy on the roster for a title opportunity/run.
Finally, who I see winning. This… is a hard one. There’s what I WANT to happen, what I THINK will happen and what I think is BEST. They aren’t all the same. What I THINK will happen is John Cena winning via help from McMahon, but it’s a ludicrous notion too. It would be further heel momentum for McMahon, confusion for Cena who wouldn’t accept anything like assistance (see: Money in the Bank 2011), and even MORE support for Bryan, who is already dazzling hot (you see what I did there?) as it is. But what I THINK will happen means little, because I don’t have much faith in that.
What I WANT to happen is even more ludicrous. I want Bryan to be the first one to make Cena tap. Only two people in the history of the WWE come to mind when it comes to never tapping out: Hogan and Cena, but there is a third. Cena would be embarrassed beyond belief, Bryan would be champ, Orton would attempt to cash in AND Bryan would make Orton the second person to cash in AND lose. That would make me happier than some quality alone time with Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman on a deserted island.
I take that back: that would NOT make me happier than some quality alone time with Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman on a deserted island, but it would come about as close as… forty miles. Nautical miles. On foot.
Then, there’s what I think would be BEST. And this is subjective, I have no problem saying it. Daniel would win, and he’d force Cena into a position that the third was in. Cena wouldn’t tap: he’d pass out. Cena would pull a Stone Cold Steve Austin. Daniel would get his props, Cena would maintain his respect, and Orton… would stay in the shadows. He’d strike later, on another day, at another PPV, and be a sneaky son of a bitch as a feud between Barrett and Bryan took the spotlight and Cena took some time off. That would be fun too.
Well, loyal random interwebz vagabond, those are my predictions and whatnot. Hope you enjoy the PPV as much as I think I’m going to. Sleep tight. Blee.
AKA: Why the Hell am I Still WRITING About This Guy?!
AKA: No Cappadonna
It all comes down to one more thing: Money in the Bank.
Money in the Bank, the PPV with a storied past. It serves as the brain child of the match that was once a highlight of the Wrestlemania event, the six-man match featuring ladders, high-flying action and Kofi Kingston, before he became the black Jeff Hardy. Sorry, that’s inappropriate: before he was thrown into the position of being the black Jeff Hardy. Swear to God, I don’t think he’s got the IDGAF attitude that Jeff “Pot Pancakes and Turkey Sausages” Hardy displays. And that’s saying something.
Over the years we have relied on Money in the Bank to be the proverbial king of the underground of sorts, the greatest of the WWE PPVs that isn’t one of the big four (though Extreme Rules makes a good case as well), and with it upon us this evening it’s only right that we delve into the biggest (championship wise) match of the evening and conclude the three part pseudo-retrospective that is examining Mark Jerrold Henry.
This is going to be another short one (maybe) so don’t get to yawning or groaning yet: I’m just throwing out a scenario here before I go back to The Old Republic, Skyrim and working on an entry or the like for gaming/mixology site The Drunken Moogle. I’m going to speak on that site soon, so keep your eyes peeled for the post that I bring it up in in detail. Anywho, back to the PPV. The WWE Championship match, between angry challenger Mark Henry and Boy Scout champion John Cena.
First I’ll say this: despite all my hang ups on Cena, I appreciate him, as a person and a character. He’s likely a very interesting and friendly person; he’s a man with a lot of cars (a la Leno), a penchant towards women of Mexican descent (a la me), and – PLEASE don’t stone me for this one – a decent rapper, when he wants to be. Thank God he doesn’t do it anymore (to the best of my knowledge) but he can spit when he really wants to.
Still here? Haven’t scoffed and stomped off? Good, because I have more to say. His character is interesting in how he’s both the most human and the most inhuman character the WWE has right now. He never gives up and he gets beat up; he never shows fear and he gets scared at some people; he declares that the championship is everything and he says its nothing more than leather and gold. He’s human in his contradictions and he’s inhuman in his objectiveness.
Last Monday he stood opposite Mark Henry and delivered a basic promo. It wasn’t special, it wasn’t incredible, it was just standard, as basic as anything he’s done. He said some things, big barked, mean mugged, and finally got into a little scrap with Henry. He was on the losing end of said scrap, which doesn’t surprise me, after trying to perform an AA on Henry and failing (can do it when prepared, can’t do it when it’s impromptu and lacks adrenaline: John Cena the king of dichotomy).
But honestly that’s not that stood out to me. Like I said, that was basic. And while Henry was a lot more entertaining and dropped more quotables than a Juvenile single his promo was almost equally basic, even if his basic is wholly entertaining. Any clash between two powerhouses strikes me as funny because you usually deal with two people who aren’t much in the ring from a technical standpoint but great when it comes to making people look like ragdolls. This is going to be a match along those lines, in a way, but I still haven’t said that stands out to me.
I won’t try to quote anything so I’ll summarize or paraphrase when I say that Henry’s focus is that title. He said he’d sell out his own mother, that he DID sell out his own family, all for the OPPORTUNITY to obtain the title, and that kind of desperation has become a pretty solid theme in the WWE right now (desperation to win the title: Mark Henry, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Swagger; desperation to prove one self: Daniel Bryan, Christian, CM Punk). Seeing as Cena has held the belt so often it’s hard to even imagine that he can APPRECIATE that kind of hunger, left alone talk down on it. His hunger is of want: Henry’s is of need.
Cena said that if Henry walked out of Money in the Bank with the title then he will have earned it. Keep that in mind: I’ll come back to it later in more detail. He referred to the belt as nothing more than leather and gold, and when he said that I began to think about every promo that Cena did leading up to the PPV following Henry’s false retirement speech.
He downplayed it. He downplayed the title. He downplayed the title, the championship, and to a lesser degree even himself. His confidence was shaken: he was openly saying that he may not retain the title. This is during times when we had vignettes of past WWE and World Heavyweight Championship holders, from the Buddy Rogers to the Stone Cold Steve Austins to the Stings. I’m sure someone here will have fun with Sting’s future, but it likely won’t be me. Emphasis on LIKELY.
So here we have the man who has held the WWE Championship more than anyone in the history of history, who has dethroned kings and gods alike, climbed the mountain, jumped to the base and ascended the summit time and time again. Why is he playing the role of the fearful monarch now? When he interrupted Henry on Monday and made a comment about a candy bar, it was a moment of desperation and fear, a way to break Henry’s concentration and make him appear a little less intimidating.
People, y’all know what fear does to people. It causes them to run away in some cases, but Cena doesn’t run. It causes them to try to appear bigger and stronger like when attacked by a bear or a mountain lion, and Cena did that. He dropped the mic, threw off his hat, ripped off his shirt and stood his ground. A lot of good it did though: he still got beat.
But this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this fear in Cena. Sure, he displays it before more PPVs and big matches, but this has been something noticeable for three years now, and it’s finally hit me: Cena just can’t catch a break at the Money in the Bank PPV.
Yes, I know it seems like I’m talking about Cena a lot for a Mark Henry Curious Case file, but stick with me. At the first Money in the Bank PPV he lost to Sheamus. At the second, in the most famous match in Money in the Bank history, he lost to CM Punk. Last year he won the briefcase, but he didn’t win his match. By and large this PPV is as much a reflection on his “worst” year as it is a funny reflection on Cena’s capacity to lose.
Now I’m not saying that he thinks “Oh no, it’s Money in the Bank! I’m going to regret it!” but it is interesting nonetheless that there has YET to be one Money in the Bank outcome that has truly worked out in his favor.
That being said, let’s focus intently on Mark Henry. The big guy. The land mass that inspires fear in men and likely unbridled lust in women (you know, like yours truly. Me. Da Infamous One.). I can’t help but go back to 2011’s Night of Champions, in the middle of September, where after 13 minutes of combat he defeated Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship. I remember what I was thinking before the PPV even started: “Mark Henry isn’t going to win, why are they even teasing us?”
See, on that day, we KNEW Mark Henry wasn’t going to win. A month prior we KNEW Mark Henry wasn’t going to ever be in a main event picture. Years ago we KNEW Mark Henry was never going to be more than a mid-carder for his career. And we were thrown a MAJOR curveball that night when he not only obtained the title, but in the months that followed he would defend it and have a pretty damn exciting reign.
The appeals behind Henry’s title shot tonight are a)his longevity in the company (if nothing else you have to respect that) and b)this being the “only title he’s never held”. Aside from that being a TREMENDOUS lie… no, that’s just a tremendous lie. It’s the most important title in the company, no question, but Henry’s only held the European and World Heavyweight titles. In essence, he’s one of the only people who can still qualify to be a Grand Slam champion, and if he did that he’d be beyond a god amongst men: he’d be a god amongst gods. Or something alone those lines.
I say all this to say that we KNOW that Mark Henry isn’t going to win tonight. And what we’ve KNOWN has blown up in our faces from time to time. Don’t get it twisted: I’m not saying that anyone is going to win either way. Depending on where this match falls in the card it could be a Cena win, a Henry win, or a MitB winner win that follows either way. If Daniel Bryan wins like I want, it would be interesting to see how the remnant spawn of the Hardcore Championship is utilized yet again. And we’re not even going to BEGIN to care about the World Heavyweight Championship so much as the MitB match FOR it’s contract.
It’s funny because we’re dealing with two desperate men in a desperate match. One is desperate to win after years of being overlooked (that Night of Champions match against Orton was acclaimed for giving Henry a “long overdue title reign”) and the other is afraid. It shows in their interactions. Last Monday Cena tried to stand toe-to-toe and failed. Before he jumped at the threat of Mark Henry. Perhaps the best metaphor is from one of my favorite animes, Yu Yu Hakusho. The second saga focused on the grand scale martial arts Dark Tournament (Yoshihiro Togashi thinks up some amazing names, doesn’t he! (not that he has to, he’s married to Naoko Takeuchi, creator of Sailor Moon (could this story be ANY sweeter?))) and the conflict between Yusuke and the younger Toguro brother.
In this case, we actually DO have an underdog story, because Yusuke was chosen by Toguro to be the one to end him (as revealed later (oops, I mean *SPOILER ALERT*!)) and thus the one who had to step up after being scared pissless at the start of the saga. If that sounds convoluted then I apologize: it’s a long story and I don’t want to bore you too much. Just watch the show.
For this, it’s partially reversed. Cena is Yusuke only in how he’s the younger of the two combatants. And Henry is Toguro in the sense that he’s big, scary and follows a solid – if questionable – brand of morality. In true anime fashion the good guy (Yusuke) won the tournament, despite being hated throughout until Toguro started killing off the audience to fuel his own power. Like I said, I can’t get too into it because it was a long saga but much like the WWE (on occasion) and Dragonball Z (from jump), the show throws curveballs from time to time. Remember how confused you were when the main character of Dragonball Z died in the first few episodes? Yeah, Yusuke was trying to figure out how he died in the first SCENE of the show.
What am I saying? Unlike the masses, I think there’s a chance Henry could win. Not a great chance, but a chance, and it would be sweet to see it. It would be a terrific feather in the cap that is Mark Jerrold Henry’s triumphant career. A true triumph, you know, as if there was no Cappadonna involved. That reference is going to fly over a few heads.
And with that we close the book on the Curious Case files of Mark Jerrold Henry. His career is already set in stone. Now let’s see if it gets even better.
Oh, and for your viewing pleasure:
It is prediction time for this year’s installment of the WWE’s Money In The Bank. This time, I am not only asking you who do you think will win, but who do you want to win as well. This way, we can see how predictable things may be, but is predictability actually what people want… With that said, let’s get to the card:
If you have any thoughts, feel free to express them!
Anticipation is at a fevered pitch as fans are only a few days away from the biggest sports entertainment spectacle of the year! WrestleMania XXIX is practically here, and we’re all anxious to take part in the majesty of this weekend surrounding the “grandest stage of them all!”
The build for this year’s event has been characterized by some fans as “lacking,” not having that humph that makes the event worth spending so much money for. That is a fair and accurate criticism to make of the event, which questions the rationale for shelling out tons of money just to attend it live or ordering it on pay per view.
If you’ve followed the L.E.W.D. site from its very humble beginnings, you can easily recall that WrestleMania is the anniversary of our first official gathering; this weekend (if not the entire week) represents the first time many of us witnessed the event live and in person. Having paid the money, helped with organizing damn near 20 people from around the country, and visited the many different events surrounding WrestleMania, I can honestly say that the magic of the weekend lies not within the actual event, but just experiencing everything that comes with it.
This year’s WrestleMania, outside of anything WWE is promoting or pandering, appears to be the largest gathering of pro wrestling related events fans have ever seen. Wrestlecon is happening this weekend; our great friends at DragonGate USA/EVOLVE will be doing stuff, as well as Chikara, Shimmer and CZW. Hell, even TNA is cashing in on this opportunity and hosting an event in New York on April 5!
This all goes to say that there is no reason for any fan that prides himself/herself on being a pro wrestling/sports entertainment fan to intentionally pout in the corner because this WrestleMania has somehow failed to live up to the hype and grandeur of WrestleMania X7. There are so many different events going on and ways to see them that WWE’s premier pay per view will literally be the bookend to one hell of a weekend. In that regard, the show cannot fail to meet expectations if you limit your expectations to simply experiencing WrestleMania by itself.
Given the pomp and circumstance of the event it isn’t unreasonable to expect WWE and its superstars to deliver come Sunday. My point is that at this point in the game we have to begin to appreciate what the event symbolizes and not just the event itself. This particular WrestleMania may seem like trash to some, but having experienced WrestleMania XXVII live here in Atlanta…I’ll just say this one is a big step up from that in more ways than one.
I also realize in these economic times we’re all strapped for cash and our finances won’t allow us to indulge in everything offered by the weekend; but if I had a choice, I’d honestly encourage you to purchase one of the iPPVs and locate your nearest Hooters or Buffalo Wild Wings to catch WrestleMania. If push comes to shove, you could also consider rounding up your closest friends and chipping in to order the event together.
Having said that let’s look at the card as it stands now and attempt to make some good ol’ fashioned predictions:
For some time now The Miz has been involved in a series of matches battling against Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. Ironically enough their placement on the WrestleMania card appears to be a metaphor for their current rivalry: easily forgettable.
I believe their rivalry began with a spat over who was the bigger movie star, with Miz and Barrett speaking highly of their films The Marine 3: Homefront and Dead Man Down, respectively. Once again in a strange twist of fate, I’m not in a particular rush to see either movie or their match.
This match feels as if the men were placed together because in the grand scheme of things both were aimlessly floating around with very little to do. I haven’t been all that thrilled about their matches, which isn’t a slight at either individual’s work rate or abilities. The bottom line for me is that the feud and rivalry is rather dull and the Intercontinental Championship feels like an unnecessary accessory altogether, not even speaking about Barrett’s ho-hum reign.
I expect Barrett to retain in what’s going to ultimately be an over exaggerated exhibition match.
Prediction: Wade Barrett retains.
Let’s face facts: the average wrestling fan believes this match is a waste of time and space on the jam packed WrestleMania card. The average fan would also believe that there are tons of wrestlers (Ted DiBiase and Kofi Kingston maybe…) who deserve this coveted spot more so than Fandango. Those opinions, while valid, also miss the mark when it comes to the whole of Jericho’s burgeoning feud with Fandango.
For starters, Fandango (formerly Johnny Curtis from the fourth season of NXT) is a “debuting” wrestler in the company. That word “debut” can be used loosely here, but he’s new talent relatively speaking. It’s hilarious to see some fans dump on new talent, only to turn around and complain when the company fails to make “new stars.”
Secondly, Fandango is making his “debut” at WrestleMania against Chris Jericho, a soon-to-be-legend that works extremely well with getting over…you guessed it…new talent. The man should be honored twice as much to have Jericho as his in-ring coach and to face him at the company’s biggest pay per view of the year.
This brings us to our third point: the higher ups in the company must think he’s worth his salt if they’ve chosen to (a) not release him, (b) have him wrestle against Chris Jericho at his (c) debut at WrestleMania. This isn’t taking into consideration the tons of money placed into his character with the garishly elaborate sets.
Fourthly despite whatever the fans may feel the need to chant, the man can actually wrestle; there is a HUGE difference between chanting “you can’t wrestle” and “you don’t wrestle.”
All things considered Fandango’s presence at WrestleMania is enough of a big deal for Curtis Jonathan Hussey. He doesn’t need a win here to legitimize himself, so expect Chris Jericho to humble the star Sunday night.
Prediction: Chris Jericho wins, feud with Fandango continues.
The feud between Del Rio and Swagger started off as a red hot rivalry rooted in the controversial subject of immigration. Since Swagger’s return to WWE he, along with his manager Zeb Coulter, have crusaded against the individuals they believe are causing America to decay in the sort of moral turpitude that only “immigrants” can apparently cause. Unfortunately that angle lasted about as long as a Hot Pocket in a college student’s refrigerator; as it stands now the main reason fans are invested in this match is because Jack Swagger beat up Ricardo Rodriguez.
Del Rio’s run as a face has been much better than the latter part of his run as a heel; the sad part of it all is that even with Rodriguez by his side, Del Rio consistently struggles to get the fans to rally behind him. This nagging reality haunts Del Rio to this day, and thus creates a situation similar to that of The Miz and Wade Barrett; yeah he’s going to wrestle Jack Swagger, yeah there’s a title on the line, but do you really care?
I’m hoping that the match will be a clinic between two exceptionally gifted wrestlers, but other than that it probably won’t be anything worth writing home about. Del Rio retains much to
Yosemite Sam’s Zeb Coulter’s chagrin, and Swagger survives only to spend another day frustrated with change.
Prediction: Del Rio retains
The bout between Ryback and Mark Henry is one of those fights that force you to ask yourself, “What took them so long?” Actually, wrestling logic dictates that these two will feud for another month or so, realize that they’re not so different after all, and unite in a formidable team that will rise up the ranks and win the WWE Tag Team Championships. Alas, they’ve already got a Black Guy/White Guy powerhouse team, so that dog won’t hunt anytime soon.
WrestleMania XXIX will also be a huge night for Ryback as well, serving as the star’s coming out party against another WWE legend in the making. Say what you will about Mark Henry, but it cannot be denied that he’s one of the most tenured WWE stars still wrestling today (he debuted in 1996, while Triple H debuted in WWE one year before him in 1995). Despite having gaps in his career due to injuries, Mark Henry has remained a fixture in the company and the man has to be worth something if they haven’t released him yet.
“Two bulls in a china shop” is the best way to describe this match; Ryback will walk away with the rub from Henry, which will bring him one step closer to his eventual run as a main event star in the company. If Ryback is able to lift Henry up for his patented Shell Shock finisher, then WrestleMania XXIX will officially be worth the $55 you’re planning on spending on it.
Prediction: Ryback with the pinfall victory.
It’s amazing how quickly the members of Dolph Ziggler’s stable have managed to fall from grace in such a short time. There was a point where the AJ Lee character was the focus of Monday Night RAW and involved heavily with multiple main event superstars at once. There was also a point where Lee’s heat was translating nicely over to Dolph Ziggler. Things really began to look awesome when the very large and intimidating Big E Langston joined the crew as the silent and brooding enforcer.
Then it all went to hell.
Ziggler is still in possession of his Money In the Bank championship contract and with three months left until its expiration we can only hope he cashes it before becoming the third person (after John Cena and Mr. Anderson) unable to successfully cash in their MITB contract. AJ Lee and Big E have no purpose or direction whatsoever right now because they’re too busy living in Ziggler’s shadow, which in and of itself is a shadow of the spectacle of WrestleMania.
Whatever the case may be these two men are being fed to the WWE Tag Team Champions as neither team really has much going for them at this exact moment. Team Hell No will retain and high-falootin’ hijinks will ensue.
Prediction: Team Hell No retains.
It truly is hard to believe that two years ago we had the extreme pleasure of watching Jon Moxley wrestle right before our eyes; we knew then that Moxley had a try-out match with WWE that weekend, but we never imagined that it’d be two short years later when we’d see him in a marquee WrestleMania match.
The same can be said for Tyler Black, who was scooped up from ROH by WWE seven months before Moxley. Most fans immediately assumed that Black would be “misused” by WWE…but three years later, he’s got a WrestleMania match.
Roman Reigns debuted in FCW Wrestling in September 2010, the same month and year as Tyler Black. As a member of the legendary Anoa’i, the superstar first known as Leakee had massive shoes and expectations to fill. Fast forward three years…well you get the picture.
Collectively speaking The Shield is beginning to show signs of monotony as their justice-leveling antics appear to lack substance and value. They’ve amassed two straight pay per view victories and have proven themselves to be formidable contenders against numerous superstars, including John Cena. At WrestleMania XXIX they face their biggest challenge to date against the team of Sheamus, Randy Orton and The Big Show, but their presence still lacks a solid direction that could make the difference between their match being good and great.
The consensus among some fans is that Orton will turn heel and align himself with The Shield; this would solve a few of the company’s problems: refreshing the Randy Orton character, breathing some new life into The Shield and adding some star-power to their mix. Think of this as WWE’s “Bully Ray-slash-Aces and 8s” swerve.
I have two problems with that rationale: there are already tons of heels in WWE at the moment and I also never saw the trail of breadcrumbs leading to such a drastic shift in Orton’s character. With or without a heel turn from a member of the opposite team, expect The Shield to pull off the victory against Team Non-Compatible.
Prediction: The Shield wins.
The WWE took advantage of Paul Bearer’s unexpected death to concoct a convenient storyline for Taker/Punk match at WrestleMania. Some fans have even gone as far as to question the build to the match prior to Bearer’s death; whatever the case may be, Punk has one hell of an opportunity to steal the show with the Deadman this Sunday.
Ever since Punk’s near mythic year long reign as WWE Champion, the Straight Edge Superstar has fought for the respect he feels he rightfully deserves. If you’ve followed Punk’s WWE career (or watched his 3-disc DVD set), you would realize that he fought tooth and nail just to stay in the company and has amassed quite a bit of stock by now. If Punk manages to give a good show with Taker, he would undoubtedly receive the credit he deserves just by hanging with him in the ring.
The build for this match leaves a lot to the imagination, but do you really care about the build more than you do the actual psychology and athleticism of the match? Here are solid facts: Taker can still go in the ring and Punk can get a five star match from anybody (remember the bout with John Cena from RAW?). Two exceptionally gifted wrestlers, athletes and entertainers going at it for at least twenty minutes…and some folks are stuck on the build for the match? Please.
The safe (and accurate) assumption is that Taker will go 21-0 by defeating Punk. I hope and pray in my heart of hearts that this is the case, but I’m not convinced the “build” was solid enough to give us reasonable doubt about Taker’s chances of losing this year. At the very least, however, I’ve got a feeling Punk will finally gain the “respect” he’s been searching for.
Prediction: The Undertaker defeats CM Punk
Prediction: Tons of Funk & The Funkadactyls
I’m hoping you didn’t drink the Kool-Aid and let the smooth taste fool you…
While a solid and consistent number of fans were up in arms about “Twice In a Lifetime,” I failed to see anyone question the necessity of yet another Triple H “Your Career Is Officially Over…Again…” match at WrestleMania. I swear the last time Trips showed his body at this pay per view the match was billed as the “End of an Era;” but I guess a new era can start when you cut your hair even though you still wear your leather jackets and enter the arena with a Motörhead song blaring through the sound system.
The most recognizable Attitude Era wrestlers that are still going at it are Triple H, The Undertaker, and Mark Henry. Oddly enough each of them have matches at WrestleMania, and even more sinister is the fact that only two of those individuals are in matches where they are in a position to put over other younger superstars. Guess which individual gets the spotlight all on his own…
It was once commented that Triple H has yet to have that “WrestleMania moment,” the one pivotal career-defining WrestleMania moment that serves as the magnum opus of his 18 year WWE career. I’m not so sure his match with Brock Lesnar will be it.
The last match between Lesnar and Triple H wasn’t as enthralling as Lesnar’s match with Cena, which makes getting excited about this one a very daunting task. I expect brutality and a certain level of “legit” from Lesnar (two times the average level of legit, in case you were wondering), and that’s enough to get fans interested in the match. Who wouldn’t want to see Brock Lesnar beat someone senseless?
But again, the focus is on Triple H…the focus is on Trips settling a score with Brock and showing the WWE Universe that The Game still has it. It’s also a way for Trips to try once again to get that WrestleMania moment he’s thirsting for. Even with the tantalizing possibility of Lesnar ripping off Trips’ arm and beating him with it, the reality of seeing Trips’ puppy dog face as he grieves another loss to Heyman’s boy is enough to cause fans to yawn themselves silly until the main main event.
To borrow a quote from our L.E.W.D. brother Corbin Macklin, “I sweafogawd if I see this man lose onemotime…”
I call Trips beating Lesnar, enabling him to keep his wrestling career and perhaps setting up a rubber match sometime in the future.
Prediction: Triple H defeats Brock Lesnar
What more can be said about WrestleMania XXIX’s main event that hasn’t already been said?
There are a ton of possibilities that could come from the finish of the match. At this moment I’m not sure of what future projects The Rock has lined up; I think he’s supposed to be Hercules or start filming the another movie with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker or whatever. All signs point to John Cena regaining the WWE Championship, placing a big thumbs up emblem on the sides where the Brahma Bull logos are at, and mediocrity on RAW ensues for another millennium.
I would actually enjoy seeing John Cena lose again to The Rock; it’s tragic to see any fan yearn to see a character’s downfall, but that’s what makes for compelling television. It’s sickening that John Cena can manage to escape clean losses time after time; everyone has a weakness and dammit someone’s got to know how to keep Cena on the sidelines. For me, seeing a different personality trait in Cena’s character would be gold. He doesn’t have to be a full blown heel, but just something different than the life coach we get each week right now.
The problem with changing something that isn’t broken is that it begins to wear thin on some, particularly those of us that wish for some type of depth to be shown in the character. Depth among shallow-end pool swimmers (i.e. kids and young women) isn’t something valued or sought after, and because of such we’re going to get another Cena WrestleMania victory and everyone for the most part goes home with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside of their stomachs. I’ve been told that ulcers and abdominal pains have that same effect…
There have been reports that seeds have been planted for a Ryback/Cena post-WrestleMania feud (remember the Triple Threat match for CM Punk’s WWE Title and Cena’s elimination of Ryback at the Royal Rumble pay per view?), and that’s something I even hinted at in a previous post. That type of feud will suffice, but it’s the same wash-rinse-repeat cycle Cena’s been placed in before. Hell, I’d like it if they brought back Alex Riley as some young, upstart collegiate so-and-so attempting to assume the throne when Cena’s Jersey City All Pro character get’s ready to “go off to college.” But alas, I’m on the internet writing for you and not the WWE for a reason…I guess.
Cena wins and we’ll get to pout about it in a post-WrestleMania blog post.
Prediction: John Cena redeems himself to himself and wins the WWE Championship for the 800th time
All things considered this action-packed WrestleMania will keep us enthralled all Sunday night. I hope you enjoyed reading the predictions, and stay posted to the L.E.W.D. site all weekend as we indulge in the cavalcade of pro wrestling going on as we speak!
We are one day away from the second WWE pay per view of 2013, an event billed as being one of the most demonic and unrelenting structures ever constructed and conceived in the history of professional wrestling. The Elimination Chamber pay per view (also known as No Escape 2013 in Germany, and you only get one guess as to why) is the first stop on the highly romanticized and hyped Road to WrestleMania.
Expectations for this pay per view seem to be mild compared to that of previous events, particularly previous Elimination Chamber pay per views. Perhaps this is due to a build that makes the pay per view a means to an end, a show that in itself is a build to WrestleMania more so than anything else. That isn’t a “bad” thing, per se, but the show must deliver in order to convince us that another Rock/Cena match is worth paying for.
The other thing that sticks out to me about this pay per view is the fact that the Chamber match is honestly a shell of its former self. Many moons ago I wrote a piece on Bleacher Report about how the actual chamber was no where near as diabolical as its described to be or once was.
The “21st Century PG Era” (because there have been several “PG” eras in WWE history) pretty much neutered the chamber. This isn’t to say that the structure isn’t demanding or that it doesn’t pose threats to the athletes well-being and safety. What it is saying is that without the presence of blood at some point during the match, the fans have to really focus on the stories told by the facial expressions and body language of the athletes. The sight of blood only intensified the hype about the grueling structure; without it, the fans who’ve seen just how dangerous these types of matches are will have to use his/her imagination, and that’s kind of difficult for desensitized hardcore fans.
Nevertheless I think we’re all looking forward to the pay per view just to see if our predictions for WrestleMania 29 are right. The lineup consists of paper-great matches, and perhaps a slew of new stars will be groomed tonight for spectacular showings at “the Grandaddy of Them All.” Without further ado, here’s the lineup:
Color me simple, but I could’ve sworn that Team Rhodes Scholars broke up a few weeks ago. Then during a house show circuit and a few media appearances, they teamed back up for “one time only” or for “limited engagements.” Yet here they are curtain jerking for a pay per view together as a team. It would seem that the Historical Conservation Department at Titan Towers has snookered us again.
I’ve missed out on a lot of RAWs and WWE shows as of late, so it was really out of left field for me to hear that Tensai and Clay teamed up. I vaguely remember their interaction on the RAW from Vegas with Tensai wearing the dress and participating in the dance contest, but that’s about it. On the other hand I do recall that there are a number of fans, and even perhaps some wrestlers, who feel that a comedy schtick for Tensai is beneath a man of his Japanese honed talent and skills. I personally wouldn’t know what to do with Tensai at this moment in time in his career; be it far from me to suggest that the man should be happy he’s on the card and at least has a gimmick to work with (Hi, JTG!), but it is a good thing that he gets some sort of exposure as opposed to none at all.
I’m not expecting a Harley Race stature match from these four men and neither should the fans. The plus side is that two tag teams will get the chance to ply their craft on WWE television, and that’s a very good thing considering our collective love fest for all things tag team wrestling. I imagine that Team Rhodes Scholars will pull off the victory if Damien Sandow hits the Terminus on one an opponent…Brodus Clay perhaps.
Prediction: Team Rhodes Scholars
Antonio Cesaro has held the United States Championship for an impressive 6-month reign, and The Miz looks to end that streak tonight at the Elimination Chamber pay per view.
As of late The Miz has been on a roll as a babyface, with some saying that his character feels more organic and natural as a good guy. While that perspective is arguable I’m just not convinced that this Whole Foods Miz can really dethrone the United States Champion. Miz will have to look for a way to counter Cesaro’s amazing strength and exceptional wrestling repertoire, and that is not a small feat.
Cesaro, on the other hand, will have to contend with the fact that he is wrestling a former WWE Champion. This gives a slight experiential edge to the Miz, but the only “edge” that could help the Miz in this situation retired back in April 2011; so much for that hope.
I expect Cesaro to retain in what will be a pretty straight forward match; Cesaro will beat the hell out of Miz, and Miz will try not to get hurt or hurt Cesaro while in the process of being beat silly and senseless.
Prediction: Antonio Cesaro retains.
Big Show lost his title to Alberto Del Rio one month ago after a grueling and brutal feud with Sheamus. Since then Del Rio has managed to get over as a face, Big Show attempts to get under Del Rio’s skin have been fruitless, and Ricardo Rodriguez is still the most entertaining person in the entire rivalry. This rivalry between Del Rio and Show will more than likely culminate at Elimination Chamber, as there is speculation that returning superstar “The REAL American” Jack Swagger will enter into a feud with Del Rio over the championship.
Since returning Swagger has been “repackaged” as an American badass with a chip on his shoulder. Mic work has never been Swagger’s strongest suit, so legendary wrestling fixture Dutch Mantel has been given the daunting task of working the stick for him. Matel works as Zeb Colter, Swagger’s cantankerous manager with an ax to grind against a country filled with what he sees as “illegal immigrants.”
Atlee Greene just wrote an interesting piece about Swagger’s new gimmick and manager over on Gerweck.net. Check it out, as it’s worth the read and also worthy of some conversation among fans.
All that being said, I think a Swagger/Del Rio feud over the championship will provide for some interesting and colorful twists and turns in a controversial main event storyline for SmackDown. The only problem I see is that this storyline can’t happen or progress until Big Show is out of the picture…well, that’s not the only problem I see. I would’ve enjoyed seeing Swagger use this same storyline as a face against Antonio Cesaro for the United States Championship, but perhaps a Swagger/Del Rio feud is best at this moment in time.
Del Rio will put Big Show down tomorrow at the pay per view and move forward to a program with a rejuvenated and pissed off Jack Swagger.
Prediction: Del Rio to retain.
This year’s actual Chamber match is the only one that will take place, and the stakes are high for the six individuals who will face each other within the confines of the massively intimidating steel structure. Also unique is the fact that three returning superstars—Chris Jericho, Jack Swagger and Mark Henry—will try to withstand the offense of their three seasoned and active opponents.
As mentioned in the previous blurb, it’s speculated that Jack Swagger will put World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio squarely in his sights. If this is the case, we can expect Swagger to storm into the match and walk out as the sole survivor of this year’s Chamber fracas.
We can also probably expect to see more dissension between Team Hell No, while Randy Orton and Chris Jericho will ultimately provide some memorable moments in the match. Mark Henry is the dark horse (no pun intended) in this match, but he and Kane will provide scores of wanton brutality that will make the match worth a damn. I’m particularly interested in seeing Swagger and Bryan provide some excellent moments of wrestling that hardcore fans mess themselves over.
Prediction: Jack Swagger with the win to become the #1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship
There’s not much to be said about this match other than the fact that once again the WWE is providing fans with something they’ve clamored to see for the longest. I’m expecting this match to deliver exactly what folks claim is absent from the Divas Division: a wrestling match between two women who are wrestlers and not models trained to be wrestlers. Kaitlyn has only held the belt for a month and her reign as champion hasn’t been solidified or heavily emphasized as much as it could have been; I see her retaining the belt against Tamina, perhaps beginning a lengthy program with her in the process.
While I have your attention, there are a few things to say about the Divas Division and women’s wrestling today:
- Women’s wrestling will never get the respect some fans (self included) feel it deserves unless we give it the respect it deserves. As long as we sit on our hands during Divas matches, as long as we don’t celebrate and appreciate the work these women put in to entertain us, and as long as we don’t expose ourselves to other companies that have outstanding women wrestlers on their rosters (SHIMMER, Shine, WSU, etc.), then the two major promotions in the U.S. will continue to push their respective women’s divisions as they do now.
- Fans claim that one major U.S. promotion treats its women’s division with way more respect than another particular major U.S. promotion. While that may have been true prior to 2010, it’s a very debatable point here in 2013. Bottom line is this: if any promotion was serious or “more serious” about their women’s division, then why haven’t we seen a women’s match main event a pay per view in one of the major promotions? I’m still waiting for that moment, and any excuse made to explain why this hasn’t happen only leads back to the reality that fans are not as serious about women’s wrestling as they imagine themselves to be.
- Will there ever come a time when we’ll see an all Diva Elimination Chamber match, or Extreme Rules match, or Hell In a Cell Match…you get where I’m going with this…
Prediction: Kaitlyn to retain.
This match might be the most epic ass-whipping in WWE history since the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Three typical big and burly WWE superstars square off against the hyper-aggressive and relentless offense of The Shield. Damn a slobberknocker, this match is going to be flat out brutal!
Despite the incredible amount of talent present in the group, The Shield is starting to suffer from the Wild Bill Hickok Social Consortium Syndrome; this crippling disorder occurs when a poorly defined heel group becomes insignificant due to their poorly defined status. The remedy that WWE saw fit to give the group is to place them in a match with two of the most popular superstars in the company…and John Cena.
It’s not just that The Shield is a poorly defined group, but rather they represent a nebulous yet integral part of a much larger storyline. This form of storytelling, one that literally lasts an entire year, happens at a pace that is frustrating for most fans who have very short attention spans and poor long-term memory. However its necessary for the group to be mind-numbingly ambiguous right now for a major reveal to occur later down the line.
In order to keep the group fresh and relevant they’ve been placed with three of WWE’s heavy hitters, thus keeping their momentum at the forefront of fans’ minds. The real question is where do they go after their match Sunday night?
Essentially we’re staring at three bullish monsters facing three bonafide wrestlers. Seeing as their match is a six man tag team bout, it will be noteworthy to see just how Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose can handle superstars when they don’t have numbers to work in their advantage. Keep in mind we’ve yet to see any of the men in singles competition, which honestly brings up a lot of questions concerning their presence in the company and how they’re able to have and not have “contracts” at the same time.
The other thing we should pay close attention to is how the members of The Shield wrestle. Up to this point their wrestling style, collectively speaking, has not been any different that of their opponents, casting them as brawlers more so than technical wrestlers. I’m interested in seeing whether or not they keep this up as individuals when they face their opponents.
Unfortunately for The Shield, John Cena can’t possibly lose this match and will put an end to this Shield nonsense for the time being. That sounds super negative but it’s always the case when dealing with John Cena.
Prediction: John Cena to pick up the win for himself, Sheamus and Ryback
Last but not least is our WWE Championship Match, where The Rock will defend his recently acquired title against the disgruntled and disenfranchised former champion CM Punk. While a definite rehash of their match from last month’s Royal Rumble, this battle has an added stipulation: if The Rock gets counted out or disqualified, CM Punk will regain the title.
Fans expect Punk to lose this match, which will set up the second “Once In a Lifetime” match between The Rock and John Cena at WrestleMania 29. I can’t say that I’m thrilled at that prospect, but I’m definitely not totally against it either. The Rock defending the title against John Cena at WM is a money match all the way and it gives Rock the opportunity to put over Cena in the same way Hollywood Hulk Hogan put him over at WrestleMania X8…as if Cena needed any help getting over at this point in his career…
My particular perspective is this: there are several wrestlers who face each other countless times throughout their careers. Seeing Rock vs. Cena one more time at WrestleMania won’t do more harm than seem some other stars face each other over and over again. Also, Rock and Cena are far from being the only two wrestlers who’ve had “one time only” matches…so it’s useless to argue about whether or not the WWE is crossing some imaginary line of hypocrisy by having Cena and Rock face each other once more.
I expect Punk to do most of the heavy lifting during the match, as Rock is obviously not the same performer he was years ago when he moved on to other avenues in the entertainment industry. I’m not sure if or how interference in the match will play into the finish, but I’m definitely sure that Punk will not walk out of the match as the new WWE Champion. Anticipate the finish of the match to play an important role in the development of the storyline for the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania.
Prediction: The Rock retains.
So far on my scorecard I have all the titles being retained as we head into April’s WrestleMania 29 pay per view. Hopefully the show will deliver and whet our whistles for the biggest show in pro wrestling today. Thanks for the reading, and can’t wait to catch the pay per view tomorrow!
Place in your predictions as to who you think will will these matches. If you have a certain scenario to go with your decision, then put it in a comment for this article.
While everyone is up in arms over The Rock’s controversial victory at the Royal Rumble, I am left pondering, as any great writer should, what’s the bigger picture? Why was the decision made to end such an amazing title run that had been continuously hyped? Why have Punk get the victory, and then have the match restarted, instead of just having The Rock beat him cleanly? Why are we building to “Once In a Calendar Year – The Rock vs. John Cena 2″?
While it is far too early, and there is still an entire ppv to get through before the true build to WrestleMania will begin…speculation is always fun, and I spent the majority of my day pondering why exactly the events of last night unfolded the way they did…. stick with me here.
CM Punk’s title reign was the most hyped of any in the modern era, and considerably longer as well. Outlasting reigns of such Legends as Bret Hart, Steve Austin, Triple H, John Cena, Randy Orton, Hulk Hogan (trust me, the list goes on…) and he didn’t just do it – WWE made sure you knew he did it. Over and over, like never before in the history of the company we were made constantly aware exactly how many months, weeks, days, hell hours had passed since CM Punk was crowned WWE Champion. Isn’t that quite the accomplishment itself?
What DOES Punk get from his historic run? Sure, he doesn’t get to be the final match at WrestleMania against either John Cena or The Rock (both of whom we have seen him wrestle, out promo, and beat) and be left feeling underwhelmed and like we were getting just another PPV. Headlining WrestleMania isn’t the shining moment of Punk’s reign, it’s not why you want to be champion. You want to be champion for respect, honor, prestige, to have a place in history. Punk undoubtedly has all of that with this reign. In addition, he has the respect of the veterans of the business (minus “Superstar” Billy Graham)
Can’t you see the promo unfolding in front of your eyes?
“I am the greatest WWE CHAMPION in modern history! Not only did I beat everyone in my path, I did things no other champion in this company has ever been able to. I beat Ryback, I beat Dolph Ziggler, I beat Chris Jericho, I beat Alberto Del Rio, Kane, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, I went into Elimination Chamber and walked out the champion, hell…I beat The Great One…I beat…The Rock! I have beaten everyone…”
*Lights go out*
Who IS The Undertaker going to wrestle this year? He’s guaranteed to have a match this year, and when you look at how the cards are stacked, there is a very short list of possible opponents. Cena and Rock, Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio, some combination of Orton, Ryback, Sheamus, and Big Show…none of which have the clout enough to take on ‘Taker right now. So where does that leave CM Punk? Sans opponent.
So how does this go back to the bigger picture? The Undertaker comes back and calls Punk out for having the accolades of a champion, but the mouth of a scoundrel. Undertaker has always been big on respect and I feel like he would have a huge issue with Punk in the real-life wrestler world (where wrestlers exist in a comic-book and have real backstage wrestler drama) (not to be confused with the actual real world, where Mark Calloway respects Phil Brooks).
CM Punk has the same problem with Undertaker that he had with The Rock – the schedule, the implied “veteran”/”legend” status, the way people swoon for them when they do nothing for the people, etc… the promos would be magical.
This also ties back into the Royal Rumble, because you couldn’t have the title on Punk when he faces Undertaker. There’s no way Undertaker is going to take on a championship run again, and you lose the believability of Punk being able to beat Undertaker if you keep the strap on him. Either “the Streak” ends of the Undertaker would be WWE Champion.
Also, having John Cena beat The Rock and get vindication for losing last year isn’t compelling enough. Cena has to have a driving factor underneath it all. Rock isn’t better served in any other role, and since he’ll be skating off into the Hollywood sunset immediately after ‘Mania…it only makes sense for him give Cena the rub and the title, restarting the Cena-era…for the immediate future.
It all makes sense, and could lead to a lot of great, story-filled matches at WrestleMania, and at the end of the day – that’s all we can ask for. Compelling, entertaining, riveting stories. The Rock vs John Cena for the WWE Championship and CM Punk vs. The Undertaker provide the absolute best storytelling background, possibility of money and excitement, and interest in the WWE audience. It all makes sense. Just let the story unfold…
I certainly hope everyone’s 2013 is off to a great start. This is my favorite time of the year because the “Road to WrestleMania” is arguably the most intense, exciting time of the wrestling year.
That being said, here at the L.E.W.D. Headquarters I am the one who is always pontificating on weird scenarios I think I see playing out, and possible matches as we head towards the “grandest stage of them all”.
Given that tonight is the first Monday Night Raw of the New Year and officially marks the beginning of the “Road”, I thought I would share something I found very interesting and get our loyal readers feedback.
Recently, Showrenity posted some comments from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson regarding his upcoming WrestleMania match:
“The storyline will be that starting this coming Monday [for RAW], I’m gonna go back, and it’s going to be a big return. That will lead to, hopefully, what will be the biggest WrestleMania of all time at Giants Stadium. I will headline that show, with someone who I can’t say right now. We’ve got an amazing four months lined up and planned out that will culminate in the biggest WrestleMania of all time. It’s going to be a hell of a thing.”
“…biggest WrestleMania of all time.” Those are mighty big words…even for The Rock.
Now, riddle me this LEWDers… does The Rock vs. CM Punk sound like “the biggest WrestleMania of all time”? What about The Rock vs. John Cena – ‘Once In A Lifetime, Again?’ Nay, I say.
What if…WHAT IF… Cena causes Punk to lose to The Rock at the Royal Rumble out of mere spite for having not been able to beat the “People’s Champ” at WM28, hoping to once again rub shoulders with the “Brahma Bull” in New York, this year? Well, that’s all fine and dandy except that little stipulation that the winner of the Royal Rumble gets to main event at WrestleMania against a champion of their choosing (of course, not forgetting that Dolph Ziggler having his guaranteed World Heavyweight Championship match would pretty much lead the winner of the Rumble to the WWE Championship.)
Then the thought struck me – what other marquee name and match is missing from the WrestleMania line up? Ryback isn’t quite ready. Orton will need an opponent… HHH and Lesnar are set to do battle…..hmmm….(this is when I got that eerie feeling I get sometimes)
Could the Undertaker be a mystery entrant into the Royal Rumble, win it, and go on to have a true blockbuster of a match with The Rock at WrestleMania 29? Aaaaand……..discuss!
We are back again with another Podcast covering the state of the industry.
Topics came from the following:
Vitality of the Pro Wrestling Industry for both WWE & TNA
Champions of the Industry
And various current events.
Tonight’s the night! Fans all across the world are geared up for the biggest blockbuster party of the summer. Hailing from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, this year’s SummerSlam Pay Per View looks chocked-filled with sports entertainment goodness that’s sure to leave fans lingering on the edge of their seats…for what, we’ll have to wait until the show starts to see.
One look at the card shows us a bevy of matches that pit up-and-coming stars against veterans of the sport. With the exception of the Triple H/Lesnar match, the card looks like a springboard for the next generation of superstars. What better than a place like Los Angeles to attempt such an important feat for the WWE? In that sense the show should be perfect for those who are tired of the same old matches and stars dominating the product. If you don’t buy into this show and your favorite star gets pushed back down the card, who can you really blame for that?
That’s another point for another time. Until then, let’s join in on the speculative goodness and provide some good ol’ fashioned previews and predictions, L.E.W.D. style!
Pre-show – Antonio Cesaro (w/Aksana) vs. Santino Marella (c) for the United States Championship
I’m sure the average fan can agree that Santino’s reign as United States Champion has been lacking…well…a lot of stuff. Relevance, significance, prestige, importance, focus, meaning…we could go on all day about it but that’s not really the point here. Marella is gold when it comes to bringing attention to his opponents, and it’s that ability that will make or break his pre-show match against Antonio Cesaro.
Cesaro is still in the infancy stages of his WWE career and it is very noteworthy that he’s advanced far enough in so little time to the point where he has a Pay Per View match for a championship title. Yes it’s for a “meaningless” title, but it’s a title nevertheless. Eric Escobar never got that far…
At any rate I expect this match to be one where Cesaro can easily dominate and physically embarrass Santino. The irony of this international fracas is that an Italian and Swede are vying for the U.S. Championship; take that, Arizona.
Cesaro’s Pay Per View outing tonight should be one were fans get a chance to buy into the character. By being in a high profile match against the WWE’s top babyface underdog, Cesaro can gain tons of heat and further his character without even winning the match.
Prediction – Santino Marella retains; Mr. Morris Hopes – Antonio Cesaro wins, moves on to feud with Alex Riley…b/c story line wise* no right-minded “American” would agree with it.
“The Prime Time Players” Titus O’Neil and Darren Young vs. “High Times” Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (c)
for the Tag Team Championships
Despite what fans may gripe about, tag team wrestling in the WWE has slowly made a return to some level of prominence within the company. Any one that’s followed the progress of Titus O’Neil and Darren Young can easily agree with that aforementioned statement. If you haven’t followed their progress, then that’s your fault and not the WWE’s.
Not much has been seen collectively from Kingston and Truth other than furthering the feud between them and the PTPs. So far their reign has been lackluster, but that is largely due to the WWE’s insistence on putting over the story more so than the athletic competition. While not necessarily a good thing it isn’t all that bad either; we get that the PTPs are the new jack tag team stars on the rise and that High Times feels it necessary to humble the young, brass duo.
Having been involuntarily relieved of A.W.’s managerial services, the PTPs will have to utilize their own abilities (athleticism and charisma) to put over their team as a legitimate threat to High Times. Other than that, the group isn’t as polished as they could be and a clean win tonight would not do them justice in the long run.
Prediction - High Times retains; Mr. Morris Hopes – High Times retains. #BillionsandBillionsandBillionsofReasonsWhyTheyShould
Rey Mysterio vs. The Miz (c) for the Intercontinental Championship
According to Mr. Quinn Gammon, Rey Mysterio has a pinfall victory over The Miz which entitles him to a match of this caliber. I honestly missed that victory and care very little to visit YouTube to see it.
This does not take away the potential for this match to be an exhibition of solid ring work from two superstars capable of getting a rise out of the fans. My fear is that the prestige of the IC Title that was built up during the magnificent reign of Cody Rhodes has been lost by now. With no offense to The Miz, the title has returned to its inglorious days of being an accessory; it’s like a Yves Saint Laurent purse or a celebrity’s 3-month old baby.
Since his departure from the WWE to film The Marine 2: Homefront, The Miz has yet to stand out dramatically in the midst of everything else going on in the WWE right now. Rey Mysterio is the perfect WWE vet to bring some attention back to the man who has a pinfall victory over John Cena at WrestleMania. Not too many people can say that now can they?
Prediction – Miz retains; Mr. Morris Hopes – Rey Mysterio wins, begins feud with Sin Cara b/c they’re going to have to do it anyway.
Kane vs. Daniel Bryan
All one has to do is take a look at Daniel Bryan’s rise to WWE superstardom to see just how far the “indy darling’s” stock has skyrocketed in such a short time. Bryan was once the man that fans knew wouldn’t receive a fair shake in the WWE due to his size and abilities. A few years later the man literally has fans eating out of the palms of his hands; it’d be awesome to look at his transition from professional wrestler to sports entertainer.
Bryan will go one on one against “The Big Red Machine/Monster” tonight in what could be an interesting match-up of skill versus brute strength and power. I expect Bryan to amp up his intensity in this match to compensate for the monstrous brutality he lacks and Kane will provide. I believe I heard somewhere that Bryan does not hold a singles victory over Kane, which means he will probably work for not only the victory but also to do so in a way that will weaken Kane’s stoic persona.
I’m not sure if RAW’s General Manager AJ Lee will get involved, but I’m hoping she doesn’t as it could take away from the athletic story telling in the ring while adding to the drama that exists between herself and Daniel Bryan.
Prediction – Kane wins via AJ Lee distraction;
Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero)
This will perhaps be the best wrestling match of the night. Combine a renaissance man like Chris Jericho with a super-solid in ring worker like Dolph Ziggler and fans are guaranteed one hell of a display of athleticism and ring psychology.
We’re looking at two stars who are brilliant in their own right and bring something unique to the table of professional wrestling and sports entertainment. Jericho is an entertainer at heart who excels at pro wrestling all around the world, is a NY Times bestselling author, is the lead singer of the popular rock band Fozzy, and has a degree in communications.
Dolph Ziggler is a decorated amateur and collegiate wrestler, has a political science/pre-law degree, and is fluent in American Sigh Language.
What in the blue fluke are we in for tonight?
Jericho’s band Fozzy has already began touring a hectic schedule that will pick up dates in September. Needless to say Jericho’s run in the WWE at this point will probably come to an end with this match. However look for the vet to put over Ziggler in spectacular form, perhaps in preparation for his cashing in of his Money In the Bank briefcase.
Prediction – Dolph Ziggler wins; Mr. Morris Hopes – Dolph Ziggler wins.
Big Show vs. John Cena vs. CM Punk (c), Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship
For starters, CM Punk is not the heel in this match.
In fact, CM Punk has pretty much spouted everything that IWC pundits have spewed venomously against the WWE since the beginning of the PG Era. His nine month reign has received far less fanfare and fan attention than what it should have (in comparison to Robert Roode’s nine month TNA World Heavyweight Championship reign) and the focus of RAW has been on everything except the champion. So why then would anyone boo CM Punk for stating his beef with this especially when we all agree with him?
This match is important as it will allow Punk to put to rest all the chatter that does not have to do with his reign as WWE Champion. Between the Big Show’s “I’m a giant and I can bully everybody because I’m big and mean and surly and frightening and blah blah blah,” and John Cena’s “I can take up TV time for a major announcement that’s not really an announcement and I’m also made of adamantine,” Punk’s “Joe 6-Pack” reign will carry most of the work in this match.
To be honest Big Show is just a prop in the match, the real beef taking place between the face and the champion of the company. At this point in his career Cena really doesn’t have to be anywhere near the title in order to be significant, which is one of the reasons why Punk’s pissed off in the first place. I imagine a feud between the two sometime in the future, but I’m also aware that Punk’s character will be featured prominently to coincide with the release of the WWE ’13 video game. That notion makes the match all the more interesting.
Prediction – Punk Retains. Mr. Morris Hopes – Punk retains.
Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Sheamus (c) for the World Heavyweight Championship
That goofy smiling doof just doesn’t get it. Del Rio is going to lose, flat out.
This match makes me angry because of Del Rio’s character being stuck in development hell. After returning from an injury/suspension or whatever it was, Del Rio fell casually back into the same safe schtick that has not worked to get him over with the fans. The man even changed the color of his tights and scarf to represent how “sinister” he had grown in his quest to win the WHC, and it hasn’t worked. I won’t go in on Sheamus because he’s a pretty straight-forward character: “My name is
Finlay Sheamus, and I lov’ ta foite!”
I’ll keep this one short: Del Rio has to gain some viciousness (like The Rock did in his I Quit Match against Mick Foley) in order to be taken seriously. He should make someone bleed, put someone out of action indefinitely, and probably punt an eight year old’s soda to the other side of the area. Then and only then will someone take him seriously.
That ain’t finna happen tonight, so get ready for another month of mediocrity.
Prediction – Sheamus retains; Mr. Morris Hopes – Sheamus retains…for the love of all that is sacred please let Sheamus retain.
“The Perfect Storm” Match – Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman)
Tonight’s “big business” match will see Brock Lesnar attempt to decimate Triple H. To quote WWE Legend Jim Ross, “this one ought to be a barn burner!”
Over on Gerweck.net a few fans complained about the event taking place in Los Angeles for the fourth time in a row. For those of you that missed Captain Obvious’ groundbreaking appearance, here’s a recap for the logic behind this:
The WWE has established itself as a major player in the Los Angeles market. Without even considering the tons of networking opportunities and shoulder rubbing events that accompany an appearance in Los Angeles, the area has been good for the WWE fans for at least three years running. It would be illogical and stupid for the WWE to not capitalize off of booking in a city that has been and will be gracious to their presence.
Excuse them for not considering Tumbleweed, South Dakota, population: YOU as the most lucrative host for one of their major Pay Per Views.
So while some sit and stream the show for free as they complain about the location, think about the potential money that could be raked in from this Lesnar/Triple H fight in L.A. Lesnar’s credibility as a fighter against Triple H’s reputation as a technician and brute will make this fight even more chilling than Lesnar’s destruction of John Cena at this year’s Extreme Rules Pay Per View.
Cena was a pancake compared to Lesnar; this fight with Trips won’t be as sugary sweet or easy. I’m not sure how many more dates Lesnar has with the company, but I’ve heard at least one person remark that a missing Triple H (due to getting his ass handed to him by Lesnar) could equal a return for John Laurinaitis. One could only dream…
Expect this one to be ugly in a good way, satiating the blood thirsty appetite of those fans longing for an un-PG product. I’m not predicting blood, but wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up during the course of the match.
Prediction – Triple H prevails at a great cost; Mr. Morris Hopes – Lesnar beats the crap out of Triple H, who wins but disappears from TV for awhile.
Well there you have it; hope you enjoyed the preview and here’s to a good SummerSlam that’s worthy enough to be purchased on DVD in a month or so.
We take a look at the WWE Diva’s Division, and what are some issues and interferences with what has kept them from prominence.
And this is the final statement on the WWE overall atmosphere.
I know this is getting a little ridiculous, but there still is plenty more to come. In this chapter we discuss the Triple H and Brock Lesnar feud.
These polls will be the way we will do predictions here at L.E.W.D. Headquaters. So let’s see what you think. (This is a test run to see how we will do things in the future)