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The PPV So Big, It Takes Two Grown
Men to Preview! 
August 22, 2003

by Rick Scaia and Jeb Lund
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


The World's Greatest Virtual Tag Team 
Previews SummerSlam

I know I usually boldly venture into the realm of PPV prognostication all by myself... it's kinda fun.  Some shows, I'm so psyched for that I love trying to pass my enthusiasm on to you, the Home Viewer.  Other shows may underwhelm me, but present me with an interesting intellectual exercise when it comes to finding the reason why the event is still worth your time and money.  Sometimes, I stick pretty close to conventional wisdom in my predictions, and I end up getting burned for it.  Yet others, I'll make wildly unconventional picks and come out looking like a genius (remember when I NAILED the Show/Angle/Lesnar thing last year, despite Angle's need for knee surgery?).  

I'm not sure what my point is, other than to make sure you know that THIS month, in addition to me, you'll be getting SummerSlam preview thoughts from Jeb Lund, who got a taste of the sweet, sweet preview action back in June, and couldn't wait to jump back into the fray.  

Says Jeb:

It's me again, folks. The last time we had a pay-per-view that featured Raw superstars, my prediction accuracy was 100%. And rather than leave that perfect record alone, I've decided to screw up my stats and try a pay-per-view preview again, this time tussling with the weird world of Smackdown as well. My accuracy rate is going through the toilet with this one!

Here's the full rundown of the announced card for Sunday night's WWE SummerSlam pay-per-view:

Triple H vs. Goldberg vs. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton vs. Kevin Nash (Elimination Chamber for the World Title)

I'm guessing that by sheer virtue of the Chamber gimmick, this will be your night's climax, over the more conventional Angle/Lesnar title match.  For those who don't remember, or missed the first one, the Chamber works like this: it's a giant metal and chainlink domed cage that encircles the entire ring, and also has a "floor" that is at ring level.  Two randomly selected men will start the match, and the other four are stored in "bulletproof" (ha!) Plexiglas chambers; they are then released at five minute intervals.  All six men won't even be active in the match until the 20 minute mark.  But all six men may not make it to that point, either.  Eliminations can start at anytime (via submission or pinfall only), and the match does not end until only one man remains.

Storywise, this match was spawned when Orton joined HHH in an attack on Goldberg, which spurred Orton's current nemesis, Shawn Michaels, to make a run in, which eventually brought out Michaels' buddy, Nash, and Nash's nemesis, Jericho, and we had a big ol' schmozz going on.  RAW co-GM Steve Austin saw the mess, and decided to take what HAD been a HHH/Goldberg title match, and turn it into a six-way Elimination Chamber match.  Since then, the six men and their intermingled feuds, tenuous and shifting partnerships, etc., have often been the highlight of RAW.  Now, we stand at this point, with all six guys pretty much going it every man for himself.  Sure, Nash and Michaels are buddies, but they also both want the strap; even Evolution is not immune, as seeds have been planted to suggest that Randy Orton will not simply back off and be HHH's designated assistant in this match (and that maybe Ric Flair's allegiances are also unknown).

In real life, the six-man match was created to take some pressure of off HHH, who suffered a serious groin injury about 3 weeks ago.  He will be able to perform, but not at anywhere near 100%.  By perhaps storing him in Plexiglas for 10 or 15 minutes, he can deliver more strongly in the second half of the match than if he'd be asked to limp through a full 20 minute main event one-on-one with Goldberg.

My Prediction:  Nash is least likely to win; they had their best chance to go with him, and passed on it in June.  Michaels is the next least likely, since he's already had his one month token run, and anything beyond that would be ridiculous given his part time schedule.  Orton's the first half-way legit option, but only in a scenario where the storyline would have to be perfect (he and Flair would have to turn on HHH, which is something that I simply DON'T see developing at this point).  Then, you've got the big three.  Jericho COULD win and take the title in a new direction.  Keep a feud rolling with Nash and/or Michaels, maybe restart his thing with Goldberg... maybe even go babyface to really freshen things up.  But I'm sad to say that it's either HHH or Goldberg that I see walking away with the title; WWE fears change, for one, and for two, Goldberg/HHH is set to headline next month's RAW PPV, so... I hate to use that as a criteria for my selection, but it fits.  So I say: HHH retains in a deal where Orton/Flair remain loyal, and where he's able to eliminate Goldberg with the help of either his Evolution buddies or of Kevin Nash (remember what happened on RAW).  Then next month, they can do the one-on-one money match with HHH and Goldberg when HHH is healthier.

Says Jeb:

Although Raw has been spinning its wheels lately and delivering one of the most offensive shows in history (8/18/03), one thing it did sell effectively was this match. Last Monday, Goldberg accidentally speared Nash; Jericho beat Nash with some brass knuckles and chopped Nash's hair; Goldberg beat Orton; Nash powerbombed Goldberg; Triple H taunted Nash; Michaels superkicked Triple H; and Jericho closed the show by pasting Michaels with a chair and staring down Nash.

In short, everyone hates everyone else. And everyone has ample reasons to want the title. But the logical options for winners are fairly few. In the spirit of the match, let's eliminate people, going in order of least likelihood:

• Orton. Dramatically speaking, he's the runt of the Evolution litter. Although a huge six-way mess of a match is a pretty good excuse for putting the belt on a sleeper candidate, Orton's winning messes too many things up. For one thing, it's a dead guarantee that he can't credibly defend the title — since he's both too "green" and too reliant on cheating to win. Also, the audience probably isn't ready to hate Orton on the main-event level. He's a good mid-card heel, no more. Worse, his victory would strain the Evolution dynamic. After all, he's the gopher: as soon as he refused to lie down for Triple H or Flair, he'd get his butt kicked. And, if he did lie down for them, he'd walk around with burning resentment, likely eventually sabotaging the group before it really got to go somewhere. (And his pay-per-view win would look like a cheap joke on all the paying fans.) Finally, Orton's gimmick is Legend Killer, not legend. Even if Orton eliminates one person, he adds to his gimmick. In short, he can still win even if he loses. There's simply a lot more storyline potential in him pinning someone and also getting pinned himself.

• Nash. First and foremost, Nash has already lost when the belt's been on the line, and he got partially demoted to the mid-card. Nash is damaged goods. A win here would be out of left field, with no dramatic build up or audience investment. Basically, it would be one of those surprises that makes the audience say, "Oh," rather than jump for joy. Another factor, his hair. Nash is coming off a memorable match that can contribute to a substantial feud, and he's got a great reason to be upset. Winning the belt would wipe that feud away: sure, he lost hair, but he won the belt! Screw the hair! Finally, Nash has limited contractual obligations to wrestle, allowing him to miss a certain number of house shows and I believe one Raw per month. Putting the belt on an absentee champion is going to do no good for WWE's dwindling house-show revenues, and it may also make the title seem to be an every-now-and-again important thing. The title should be the most important thing on the show, and that means it always needs to be there.

• Shawn Michaels. My only two main strikes against HBK are pretty small ones. First, he suffers from absenteeism, just like Nash. If he wins the belt, he doesn't have to show up to house shows and some episodes of Raw. And, given his back condition, it would be foolish to expect him to. Second, I just don't like the idea of Shawn Michaels having a perfect record in the Elimination Chamber. It's a bad idea to make someone who's nearing the end of his career "the signature winner" of that type of match. How many more times can he win the thing? Also, with this kind of match, where the odds are so screwy, it's better to give the impression that no one is assured of victory in the chamber. But here's my third reason, and it's admittedly fantasy booking: Orton should eliminate HBK. This opens up lots of storyline possibilities. It makes Orton more of a legend killer, giving him a definite feud in the process. It also adds to HBK's feud list, one that already includes Triple H and Chris Jericho.

• Goldberg. Absenteeism strikes again with Goldberg. Once more, it seems like a bad idea to crown a champion who won't show at a lot of events throughout the heartland. Also, Goldberg seems almost too strong to win. Who has the credibility to challenge him right now? His big match will come against Triple H, at some time in the future. And it'll big enough that either: (a) the belt won't be that necessary to make it cool; or (b), WWE will need to build to it for a few more months, meaning that someone else can be the champ in the interim. Finally, Goldberg still has that "streak" aura about him. When he finally wins the big one, some of the necessity of watching him fades away. We will have seen him do it all, overcome many challenges, etc. Having him dominate in the chamber but still lose keeps more momentum on his side. He's still pushing upward, steadily and convincingly, but he's still not quite there. I'd say the ideal person to pin Goldberg is Triple H, just because it adds to their inevitable feud.

• Triple H and Chris Jericho.
I clump these two together for two reasons. One, I don't want to declare who I think the winner will be and jinx that winner. Two, I think the fates of these two are fairly strongly interconnected. Between the Hi-Light reel and his solid ring work, Jericho has been the shining star on most episodes of Raw for months now. He is also the number-two heel on the show. Triple H is obviously number one. But Triple H has had the belt for ages and suffered nagging injuries during that time. Also, with such unquestionable dominance of the roster, he's lost some of his momentum. He's without a strong set of goals. Losing the belt renews his character a little bit. Ideally — and this is what I hope happens — is that Jericho wins it all. He has a standing feud with Goldberg, Nash, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and virtually everybody else. He has the mic skills to make his win interesting, and the Hi-Light reel to showcase those skills. Furthermore, he's a good unaffiliated champion: Jericho can bleed across heel and face definitions very easily, because he's consistently entertaining and not part of any one heel or face group. Furthermore, the mess of feuds ensuing from this match will keep everyone from gunning for him at once. Ideally, too, Triple H will take some time off to heal, keeping Jericho from a "true" title defense for some time. Obviously, it's up to the WWE to try to give him some legitimacy during that time, rather than bill him as "Triple H's placeholder" as they did at the beginning of 2002. Thus we come to the final factor: the Jericho Embarrassment Scale. This thing never lies, folks. The principle behind it is that, in any given situation, a match or feud is most likely to end in a way that makes Jericho look the worst. And sure, getting pinned early would make Jericho look pretty bad. But that's shortsighted. Think of all the pathetic wins he can barely eke out through egregious cheating if he's the champion! Think of a few months of him barely being able to defeat Spike Dudley without using a chair! And think of Triple H returning and beating him cleanly, despite Jericho's use of chairs, an aardvark and Marie Curie's femur! The JES says that Jericho wins. Of course, I'm not saying anything one way or the other. And the JES still sort of works if he loses. It's convenient like that.

Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar (WWE Title)

There was plenty of hype and story going into their match at WrestleMania... now, five months later, things are even MORE interesting between the two.

The story goes: Angle and Lesnar built a friendship up after WM, while Angle was recovering from neck surgery.  When Angle came back, he and Lesnar started teaming together and watching each other's backs.  But Lesnar was just using Angle, and at the first available opportunity (two weeks ago, in this case), brutalized Angle with a sneak attack and threw in with the boss, Vince McMahon.  With Vince in his head, Lesnar's been an unstoppable machine the past few weeks.  But Angle is still the champ, having won the title last month on PPV.

The match will go:  WM19 saw a good match with these two.  This one should be better.  I think both guys are well-suited for their current roles (Lesnar should be a more over heel than the oft-cheered Angle was at WM).  And most importantly, Angle will be healthy this time.  No lingering neck condition, probably no bum leg for 80% of the match.  They should be able to kick some serious ass on Sunday.  I'm a mark for cool gimmick matches, and not ashamed to admit it.  But this is the Main Event I'm stoked for on Sunday.

My Prediction:  Lesnar wins.  He's sold me on being a heel.  He's looked super the last few weeks decimating 150 lbs. guys, and the logical progression is that he's able to handle Angle.  Have him get the win, and sure make it dubious (maybe Vince helps, maybe it's a chairshot or ringpost-shot while the ref is out, whatever) to protect Angle for rematches (fan favorites are almost always more effective when chasing than when holding a title), and then let the parade of babyface lambs begin.  Note to Tazz:  you were on to something last night, man...  Brock Lesnar SHOULD be on a Path of Rage this fall, he's the perfect guy to acquire your old catchphrase.

Says Jeb:

God, how old is this feud? Somewhere in the primordial soup, one of Brock's one-celled ancestors bumped one of Angle's one-celled ancestors. And today, Brock's one-cell-powered personality is raging with evil to beat the champion, Kurt Angle. Of course, the real story is that sniveling heel Kurt Angle lost the championship to truehearted babyface Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Angle's neck was "broken in the match," and, during his recovery, Brock checked up on him and demonstrated the sort of giant ape-like caring of which he's capable.

This concern made Kurt Angle return as a happy good person who befriended Brock Lesnar. Circumstances then led to then-champion Brock, evil Big Show and good-person Angle facing off in a three-way match at Vengeance for the title. Angle won the belt. Lesnar, who then came under the mind-control of Vince McMahon, turned on Angle, claiming that friendship's only use is getting the things you want. Now the two face one another for the greatest prize of all: children's literacy. Also, the belt.

Trying to figure out who should win this match is like dealing with the "everything I tell you is a lie" statement. You'll go nuts. Simply put, Brock doesn't have the personal charisma to be a heel champion. Face champions have it easy, because the audience approves of their success. Heel champions have to constantly be interesting for us to tolerate their evil triumph over our wishes.

Lesnar doesn't have the goods yet. He can't carry the belt and have it be fascinating for months on end. Plus, his winning would mean another belt change in a short amount of time. But then, on the other hand, he has Vince McMahon as a mouthpiece. That skews everything.

Then again, what if Angle retains? His humor and charisma have always been more pointed and more popular when he's been in pursuit of something. His previous good-guy reign was a little too white-bread to galvanize fan reaction. It was almost as if it was so innately "good" that it became bad. Also, there is the weird situation of a monster heel pursuing the babyface. What would happen if evil Lesnar used Vince's influence and cheating for months on end... only to fail to get the belt? And what would you do after he won it? If Angle had spent months fighting off interference and evil rules just to retain, how could he ever challenge for the belt again? Lesnar would have learned all of Angle's tricks, and Lesnar would have Vince's influence to keep Angle away from a rematch for months.

Both situations seem weird. Weird and hard to justify. In cases such as these, it's best to use WWE logic: i.e. go with what seems least viable or likable. And the least viable option is that Lesnar becomes a great three-dimensional heel character, capable of getting himself over with less and less McMahon support.

Consequently, Lesnar takes it with all kinds of nefarious cheating.

Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit vs. Tajiri vs. Rhyno (US Title)

Can't Chris Benoit keep a friend?  The poor guy... ah, hell, who am I kidding?  As long as his former friends all possess in-ring skills that rival his own, I say: Keep Pissing People Off, Chris!

Storywise, this is the battle of ex-friends.  Benoit used to be partners with both Eddie and Rhyno at points in the past.  Tajiri held the tag belts with Eddie until a month ago.  Now, they've re-aligned with Eddie and Rhyno as heels and Benoit and Tajiri as faces, but with tenuous-at-best relationships on both sides.  A misplaced Tajiri kick landed in Benoit's face last night, and after a tag match between these four, Eddie laid out his own partner Rhyno with a shot to the head.  Every man for himself in this one.

This one oughta rule.  Even though they're unlikely to get an adequate amount of time given that there ARE four of 'em here, the WWE's first-pinfall-wins-the-match rule will be in effect and should make this fast paced and fun while it lasts.  I absolutely LOVE having Tajiri in the mix (it seemed like he was getting left behind, at first), but ultimately, it'll be Eddie and Benoit who carry this one.

My Prediction: As Jeb notes below, one possible use of the US Title would be to help out Tajiri or Rhyno.  But like I noted above, I see WWE staying conventional here.  Eddie or Benoit.  Benoit or Eddie.  It's a total coinflip for me.  Either guy would be more than deserving to hold the belt and able to help further establish it as it passes it's one month birthday.  But: I'm gonna take Eddie.  Why?  For the stupidest reason possible: WWE is taping SD! in his hometown this week, and I think it'll be cool to see him ride into El Paso with some gold.

Says Jeb:

The backstory on this one is pretty odd, but pretty easy to follow. After Chavo Guerrero got hurt, Eddie and Tajiri tag-teamed together and cheated to win. They won the belts, but eventually misfortune befell Tajiri, causing them to lose the belts. Eddie powerbombed Tajiri onto the windshield of his low-rider. Meanwhile: after Rhyno came back from surgery, he and Benoit tagged together. Misunderstandings led to Benoit hitting Rhyno and Rhyno hitting Benoit. They each blamed the other, and things worsened when Benoit beat Rhyno in the US Title Tournament.

In the finals for that tournament, at Vengeance, Rhyno gored Benoit to give Eddie the victory. Since then, Benoit and Tajiri have found common cause and have tagged together. And Eddie and Rhyno have sort of found common cause. But all these links have been tenuous, and all of the men really want the title, allegiances be damned.

Now, to figure out what will happen, you have to think like the WWE. You have to build to long-term goals by taking anything that gets a short-term reaction, even if that is counter-productive to long-term goals. For instance:
FAN THOUGHT: Eddie Guerrero is so insanely popular right now (easily more so than the heel Brock Lesnar) that he could immediately be put in the main-event picture. I'd love to see Eddie with the big title.
WWE THOUGHT: Eddie Guerrero is so popular right now that he could immediately be put in the main-event picture. But, to make sure that he's popular, we should keep him in the mid-card for so many months that fans stop cheering for him out of despair that he will never be put in the main-event picture. Then we'll know he's unpopular and that it would have been a mistake to put him in the main-event picture. And, if Brock, Kurt, Vince, Stephanie and a small dog all get injured at the same time, we could think about pushing Eddie. But he'd have to have a trial run as US Champion first. Then we'd be sure if he could be in the main-event picture.

This means that Eddie will win the match. Because Eddie doesn't need the belt at all, he will win. The rationale will be that the belt needs someone as popular as Eddie. Remember the double logic: belts make people more popular or important, but only popular or important people can have the belts... unless we're talking about Billy Gunn or A-Train, who can have whatever.

And, if Eddie doesn't win because we'd hate to see him bogged down in the mid-card, Benoit will win: because the title will bog him down in mid-card angles for another year, bringing him one step closer to retirement (without the WWE title) and mass smark suicide.

Both Rhyno and Tajiri could use the title to become more popular, but they're not popular enough to win the title and become more popular.

Rob Van Dam vs. Kane

To me, this match is really one half of a two act play.  I simply can't see this one and Shane/Bischoff being completely mutually exclusive contests on Sunday night.

Here, sure you've got plenty of everything that you need for a good match: RVD is exciting in the ring, Kane is as skilled a big man as there is in the business, and you've got months of backstory (Kane/RVD are former tag partners, but that all went south, in part because RVD wanted Kane to loosen up and unmask... and now look at what's happened) that should mean the crowd is into this.  But there's also So Much More.

When Kane attacked Linda McMahon, he earned the ire of Shane.  Though Shane has had his sights set on Bischoff in the past couple weeks, he hasn't forgotten Kane.  He could play a part in this match, maybe even SHOULD play a part in it, since he's almost certainly facing Kane next month on PPV.

My Prediction:  Wait till the end of the next match preview, and I'll just predict the two of 'em together....

Says Jeb:

Sometimes, you get the feeling that the WWE has decided that certain wrestlers have to figure out how to be main-eventers with no outside help. This happens because the WWE is busy with some pet project for some wrestler who doesn't deserve attention (usually, it's A-Train). RVD is a victim of this policy, and Kane, who was once a victim, now seems like the hub of all temporary focus. Although, in his case, it's deserved.

Months ago, Kane and RVD were a happy and successful tag team. RVD was acrobatic and chilled out; Kane was the monstrous muscle. But RVD and Stone Cold tried to loosen Kane up. Somewhere along the line, Kane lost a match to Triple H, under the conditions of which he had to either lose his mask or join Evolution. Kane lost the mask, beat the tar out of RVD and became a pyromaniacal weirdo. He set JR on fire. Last Monday, he hung RVD from his bound wrists and threatened to set him on fire.

And as much as it would be feel-good to see RVD give Kane some of this, that and a little what-for, I don't see that happening. The WWE Obscure Psychological Experiment Machine is fully behind Kane, at least for another month or so. That means that Kane should get the win.

The only exception to this, in my mind, would be interference from Shane McMahon. (Even then, I think the Twisted Monster Kane character can be so strong as to render that interference a non-issue.) And, if Shane interferes in this match, you can guarantee that Kane will play a big role in Shane v. Bischoff.

Shane McMahon vs. Eric Bischoff

OK, the other half of the two-act play...  and to me, the less interesting and promising by far.  For one: they are almost certainly intent on using the Bischoff/Linda skit from Monday as a key part of the video packages/etc. hyping this match.  That is supposedly what will give Shane his motivation to want to beat Bischoff.  Forget that Bischoff got help from Kane and cheated his ass off to steal a win over Shane two weeks ago....   something like that is far to simple, logical, and ties too nicely into the still simmering Shane/Kane feud to be showcased!

Now, Shane's the rare non-wrestler who we all like to see wrestle.  He's got a knack for it, and will usually go the extra mile to take wicked bumps or to try insane highspots.  But when I think about it, his role was usually just to take a wrestler in need of a little boost and make him look good.  After that first Euro Title run, Shane's won/loss record ain't so hot.  He's fun to watch when he's being offered up, I guess that's what I'm positing.  But on Sunday, he's got another non-wrestler, not an opponent who needs a bit of a nudge to become a top level PPV main eventer.  Shane is the favorite, he's the experienced veteran in the ring.  And that's kind of awkward.  I don't know if it'll work so well or not.

My Prediction: this'll be unlike any Shane match you remember.  I doubt there will be any Holy Shit-worthy action.  Instead, I think this'll be a showcase for Shane to come off looking very strong.  It gives him some juice heading into what'll be Standard Shane Fare: him getting his ass kicked in spectacular fashion against Kane.  And to that end, I further predict that Shane over Bischoff will be an early show match, so that a not-very-spent Shane can attempt to interfere in Kane/RVD later.  Of course, this will only set up a few hope spots for RVD, who had been getting brutalized, and in the end, Kane will not only finish the job on RVD, but should also get a big beat down in on Shane.  If there is to be a Holy Shit bump from Shane, I'd look for it in the aftermath of Kane/RVD, and NOT in his own match.

Says Jeb:

Shane hates Eric because Eric engineered Kane's Tombstoning of Shane's mother Linda. Kane also Tombstoned Shane, also at the behest of Bischoff. Finally, on Monday, Bischoff maybe sorta kinda attempted to rape Shane's mom. For a transcript of that, scroll a little over halfway through my Raw recap.

So that's the set-up. What of the match? I say Shane takes this one, through hellfire and interference. Linda may side with Bischoff, and Kane may make an appearance. But WWE's policy regarding Bischoff is that he should always lose everything. He's an authority figure with virtually no authority — a blackbelt with no demonstrable martial arts skills. As a result, look for Shane to win but still suffer an evil beatdown.

Another note, since this is a cross-promotional show, there are all sorts of opportunities for a McMahon schmozz to come in and ruin your world.

Undertaker vs. A-Train

Well, A-Train signs a contract extention, and the WWE just couldn't wait any long to getting back to trying to wedge the guy back into the upper tier of wrestlers.  Essentially, A-Train has become (one of) Vince McMahon's hired goons, first attacking Stephanie McMahon last month on PPV, then attacking Undertaker when Taker dared to question Vince's actions, and then destroying Steph again in a sanctioned match between the two.  Woo Hoo!  A storyline that involves both A-Train AND superfluous McMahon Soap Opera Nonsense!  I must be in Heaven!  No, wait!  As of last night, it also involves Sable (who Vince apparently whored out to A-Train in return for services rendered)!  This is sheer bliss!

Look: Taker's actually been looking really solid in the ring this summer. I don't think the guy has had a bad major match in a long time.  A-Train, despite being deficient in terms of character/gimmick, is far from a horrible worker.  The match itself may well be quite palatable, if viewed in a creative vacuum.  It's just that I can't quite separate myself from the idea that there are others besides A-Train who should be spotlighted on PPV (Cena, Hardy, WGTT, even the rejuvenated Big Show), and other ways I'd prefer to see Taker used.

My Prediction: man, I hope this is just a nice, decisive Taker win.  But I get the odd feeling that Vince McMahon won't be sending his new goon out to lose.  Big Show's nowhere else to be seen on this card, so I'll guess he's sent out to help A-Train, and that'll lead to an upset win for Train, and also lead to this feud continuing.  I also predict that I'll be upset if I'm right... unless, that is, Taker's partner in ensuing tag matches is someone OTHER than Orlando freaking Jordan.  You know, there would be a few very do-able ways of turning John Cena babyface within the context of this storyline...  but now I'm rambling...

Says Jeb:

WOW! Drill holes in my brain and raise worms in there!

Undertaker and A-Train had nothing to do with one another for months. Then, after Vince McMahon sent A-Train to destroy Stephanie at Vengeance, Undertaker questioned that decision. Vince then sent A-Train to interfere in Undertaker's rematch with John Cena, costing 'Taker the victory. Remember the message: don't question the WWE.

WWE rightly took our attention away from the interesting Cena-Undertaker feud with this festering boil of a match-up. From experience, A-Train gets pushed — without public desire for it — into premiere match-ups. Then he gets squashed. Months later, the scourge of his character infects another storyline. He's about due for another squashing.

I see Undertaker basically destroying A-Train for several minutes. After a while, John Cena runs in and costs Undertaker the victory. Then we can get back to Cena and 'Taker, and 'Taker can destroy Cena once and for all, thus putting him over.

La Resistance vs. The Dudley Boyz (World Tag Team Titles)

I said a month ago that I thought a third member of La Resistance was a neat idea.  Unfortunately, I said that thinking that former multi-time tag champ Quebecer Pierre would be the right fit, and that he'd be sort of like a manager/mentor who'd lend depth to the La Resistance gimmick.

Then the third member debuted on Monday, and it was Rob Conway, a generic American who may or may not be asked to do a French accent (he may also do the Disgruntled American gimmick), who will just be a third wrestling member of their unit.  Kind of like Crush was with Demolition 12 years ago.  And we all remember how well THAT worked out in the end.

I'm sure there some story here... oh wait, Jeb tells it below.  I'm too cynical to say this is anything other than the cheap heat getting champs being challenged by the only remotely viable babyface tag team on the roster.  Color me less than enthused.

My Prediction: until Monday's third guy joining La Resistance, I pegged this as a foregone conclusion.  Duds win, and we try to resuscitate the tag division based on the fact that they are still very over with the crowds.  Now, I change my mind: the third guy will help La Resistance win by vile means, and this will feud will continue another month, until the Duds can secure a Tables Match at the next PPV.  Perhaps THEN we can have our foregone conclusion and get things moving in a more productive direction.

Says Jeb:

The Backstory: La Resistance are snooty French champions who mock America and praise France. Americans bitterly resent the French for the many French words we have inherited from them, the French foods we've adopted, our debt to the Marquis de Lafayette, the sale of the Louisiana territory, the French culture we've celebrated and— no, wait. We hate the French because French people are all, according to the WWE, effete snobbish quasi-homosexual cowards.

For weeks, La Resistance badmouthed America, sang La Marseillaise (the French National Anthem) and cheated to beat up the Dudleys. The Dudleys countered by singing The Star Spangled Banner and by getting beat up more. On Monday, a man posing as a member of the United States Air Force attacked the Dudleys and showed his allegiance to La Resistance, in spite of the fact that the Dudley's came out to rescue him from their taunts. You see, he was a Frenchmen or French sympathizer all along. They blend in everywhere! In our shopping malls, our Texaco stations, our radiology departments and our grassy quadrangles. The only way to determine their French-osity is to ask them the distance between two fixed points. Their fatal flaw is that they always reply in METRIC measurements!

Chalk this one up as another victory for the heels. The Dudleys still enjoy a teflon-like status in most fans' minds. Fans love seeing the "whaaaassuuuuup" and the 3-D and the table spots. As such, the Dudleys can lose quite a bit and still be fun. Also, keeping them in the chase, however one-dimensional, is still fresher than giving them the belts for the 47th time. Another contributing factor is that La Resistance basically have no character at all. If they lose, they can't be snooty and superior. Without the belts, there isn't much to them. This potential third member may add depth, increasing conflict within La Resistance and hopefully giving each member character. But they can't do any of that if the audience doesn't care at all. Making the audience care, right now, means keeping the belts.

It seems likely that the unnamed "French guy in disguise as a USAF serviceman" will play an important role in interfering in the match. A counter-interference run-in from Spike Dudley doesn't seem too far-fetched, either. But the introduction of a third member of La Resistance gives them the wrestling and the storyline edge to retain the belts at least until the next pay-per-view.

And that, I believe, is the entire OOficially announced card for Sunday's SummerSlam pay-per-view.  I know last weekend's WWE TV announced Matt Hardy vs. Zach Gowen as a fourth SD! brand match, but there are currently no signs of that on any current match listings, and after last night's spectacular Gowen/Lesnar angle, I'm envisioning a few weeks vacation for Zach, anyway.  SD! could easily lend a tag match to the card, however, as either Haas/Benjamin or the Bashams could easily have issues with the APA (due to Bradshaw's Benjamin/Shaniqua theory) that would be more than enough to justify a match.  Especially if it's a match in which Haas and Benjamin get 10 minutes of PPV time to kick some ass.

RAW will likely control the pre-PPV Heat, with only brief cut-ins from the SD! announcers to hype their matches.  To that end, the RAW brand probably will get a fifth match, one to put on Heat.  You're looking at either a women's match (Molly/Trish/Gail) or something involving the Hurricane/Rosey and Teddy Long's stable. 

SummerSlam's a top-heavy card, at least on paper, with a trio of matches that could easily emerge as just not the night's best, but as some of the best action we've seen all year.  The three matches for singles titles all look to be nothing short of tremendous, all for different reasons, as well. We can suspect that those matches will dominate the PPV time on Sunday night, and that the undercard moves quickly and features a few entertaining moments along the way.

Says Jeb:

Despite all my surliness, I hope that everyone has lots of fun watching this pay-per-view. After all, if you shell out for it, you deserve to be happy. Take delight in the moves and the promos, and get caught up in the moment. We'll have weeks to debate or grouse about the outcomes.

And for those of you who, like me, will be seeing this in a bar and on the cheap, hoist a glass to a good show. And maybe send a toast my way, hoping that my brain doesn't melt.

Thank you, Wembly! Good night!

Remember, I'll be back here at OO on Sunday night -- sometime in the 11pm (eastern) hour, probably a bit closer to midnight --  with a full recap of SummerSlam.  Check on back for that.  You can also show up and see if anyone's decided to hang out in the Chat Room (link in the left hand navigation bar) during or after the show.



Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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