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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Vengeance PPV Preview
June 9, 2004

OnlineOnslaught.com Exclusive Team Coverage
Compiled by Rick Scaia

 

Before we start previewing, it's definitely worth noting that last night's SmackDown! was a very entertaining show.  If I wasn't a lazy-ass (and if my esteemed staff of columnists weren't even BIGGER lazy-asses), we'd still be doing Battle of the Brands, and I think SD! would have been the no-doubt winner this week.  Finally.  After, what?, about 5 months....

I was even gonna do a BONUS OO: a regular Friday column to go with the preview this weekend...  but that kind of had to go out the window.  A friend of mine who just got married called me towards the end of SD! and was all "What're you doing?" and I was all "Watching wrestling, then maybe watching poker, then maybe trying to get some website work done" and then he was all "No you're not; I must prove that marriage hasn't changed me, and plus my wife is trying to quit smoking and isn't very pleasant, so let's us get drunk" and I was all "OK, I guess."  Then the next thing I know, it's 2:something in the morning, and I think I sat down at my computer and pretended for all of about 4 minutes that I'd be able to type something up, be it about SD! or working ahead on the PPV Preview, before realizing that was a stupid idea and the only thing I really should do was get to fricking sleep so I'd be productive today.

So: you lose, folks.  No Bonus OO for you.  You can forget about all my insightful observations about how Rene Dupree showed an uncanny smoothness on commentary, how JBL as champ being played for comedy is appropriate for things like HonkeyTonk Man and the IC belt but not for the WWE Title, how Suzuki/Hiroko might have just found themselves a hook, and how irate I was when Rey busted out Gail Kim's submission move and Tazz (usually very sage and wise) acted like he'd never seen it before.

Instead, I must forge ahead on getting this preview done by a reasonable hour today.  Luckily (?), WWE has helped out by going all SD! on us with this show: they only have five announced matches for Sunday's Vengeance PPV.  So at least it'll be quick and easy work, right?  Although RAW easily features a more appealing cast of characters and more compelling storylines than SD! has the past 3 months, it still kind of feel like this is an unnecessary, throw-away show... albeit one that I gladly watch for some reason other than "because I have to."

We're again battling the Swine at WrestleLine with our PPV Prognostications.  So far, OO is 0-for-2 in our heads-up battles.  But we keep our heads-up because we are clearly the cooler, better looking, and more popular team, and really isn't THAT what matters?  And one of these days, we'll luck into a win.

Maybe this will be our lucky day?  Here's the absolute most-comprehensive breakdown you will find anywhere of the entire as-announced five-match card for Sunday's WWE Vengeance PPV: 

CHRIS BENOIT vs. TRIPLE H
For the World Heavyweight Title

There's a LOT of good backstory for this match taking place.  You just wouldn't necessarily know it from watching WWE TV the last month.  But hey, The Rick is your wrestling buddy what tries to make the product more entertaining or sensible when it can't do that for itself, so gimme a chance here:

In January, Chris Benoit was on SmackDown! and had any number of good reasons for wanting to get a shot at Brock Lesnar's WWE Title. But then-GM Paul Heyman was being kind of a dick, and made it clear that he'd turn Benoit's life into a living heel and keep him from winning the WWE Title.  So when Benoit defied Heyman (and The Odds) by winning the 30-man Royal Rumble from the #1 slot, he took the opportunity to get out from under Heyman's ire: Benoit jumped to RAW and set his sights on the World Title then held by Triple H.

But that sort of complicated matters, as HHH already had his hands full with Shawn Michaels.  The only alternative: to set up a Triple Threat Main Event at WrestleMania XX involving all three men. In that match, Benoit did make HHH tap out to win the World Title, but Shawn Michaels involvement made it very easy for HHH to make any number of excuses for how Benoit wouldn't have been able to top him in a one-on-one match. A month later, the three men had a rematch, and in that contest, Benoit scored the decision over Michaels, and again HHH could claim that Benoit had never proved his one-on-one superiority.

HHH and Michaels settled their issue in a Hell in the Cell match last month, with HHH coming out on top.  In so doing, he positioned himself to FINALLY get that one-on-one World Title rematch against Chris Benoit.  And you'd think it'd be a pretty simple matter of building things up from there, right?  Wrong.  Instead, this is where WWE deviated massively from The Rick's Compelling and Sensible Version of the story...

Lovable Eugene was tossed into the mix as an alternate "#1 Contender" due to his undefeated status. Of course, that status was always mentioned tongue-in-cheek by Eric Bischoff and HHH, and the ultimate goal was to deliver to Eugene a beating so severe that he'd finally leave the wrestling business... but it didn't quite turn out that way.  Over the last month, storytelling primacy has been given to HHH taking Eugene under his wing, installing him as a new member of Evolution, and manipulating him so as to gain an edge over Chris Benoit.  The end result was Eugene being booed lustily for whacking Benoit with a chairshot this past Monday, allowing HHH to score a pinfall win over the champ.

Oh wait: HHH pinned the champ!  It's like somebody FINALLY remembered those two were having a PPV match!  As entertaining as HHH/Eugene are, theirs should have been a secondary story, behind the PPV-selling Benoit/HHH story.  Either that, or (as I've endorsed vociferously more than once in the last month) they needed to make Sunday's PPV match a Benoit vs. HHH vs. Eugene three way so that we had a real reason for putting so much focus on Eugene's loyalties (and as a bonus: HHH could again lose in a 3-way match, and make the build-up for the eventual one-on-one title match even MORE impressive).

Nevertheless, here we are: HHH has his one-on-one match this weekend.  That should have been the story all along.  But something tells me that if they invested so much of HHH's time in Eugene instead of in Benoit his last month, maybe you shouldn't exactly be expecting a straight-up one-on-one affair afterall.  The possibilities for shenanigans are almost as myriad as the possibilitiess for a kick-ass ****+ wrestling match....
 

The OOutlOOk
Benoit wins: 6 votes   --|--   Triple H wins: 3 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Chris Benoit d. Triple H.
Jesus Christ, is it already time for another one of these? I completely forgot that there was even a PPV this Sunday and didn't adjust my work schedule accordingly: I won't be seeing this unless I hear great reviews and decide to buy the DVD. But the rum is flowing like… um… wine, and it's preview time!

Watching RAW this Monday, I'd completely forgotten that the PPV was going to headlined by this match. The buildup instead went to Triple H/Eugene, which, while equally interesting, wasn't the best idea because Eugene isn't technically a part of this match. But I think that he will be.

Because I have a plan, dammit! I was even going to write a column all about it this week, but then I remembered that I would have to contribute a columns' worth of material to this PPV instead (I'll get around to a real column eventually, I promise. When school starts, things will be different, though.) So here's the condensed version: unless Eugene goes back to being a full-fledged face this Sunday, his character is completely doomed. Perhaps WWE thought that the fans would understand Eugene's "forced heel" status, but no: as an audience, we only tolerate retards when they're lovable (see: Gump, Forrest.) Once Eugene sides with Evolution, no matter how reluctantly, he becomes a full-blown heel in the eyes of the fans. And at that point, he's just a retard, with no fun involved. He becomes, by default, Randy Orton.

Considering how rabidly the fans reacted to Eugene pasting Benoit with a chair, I think WWE will be in a hurry to hit the reset button and turn him face again. Hell, I'd do the same thing. The solution? Eugene interferes on Benoit's behalf (or maybe he tries to interfere for Triple H and botches the whole thing, and thus ends his usefulness to Evolution.) But in some way, shape, or form, Eugene's interference will cause Triple H to lose. This will set two related storylines in motion: Eugene's relationship with Evolution, and Triple H getting kicked out of the faction that he himself started. More on that later.

The match? It should be awesome, as Triple H has been bringing the workrate as of Wrestlemania, Benoit is always a badass, and the house show reports have been very promising -- besides, didn't they put on a great PPV match back in 2000? We've seen nothing but good things in the ring between these two, past and present. Rock on, boys. You can easily steal the show.

I think that Benoit should (and will) win, but this PPV is all about what happens to Evolution and the power structure within. Read on…
Canadian Bulldog Says... Triple H d. Chris Benoit.
You know what? If this is what happens, I'm actually fine with the decision. Really, I am. So now, The Game can sleep better at night, knowing that his career has the approval of Some Internet Guy.

But seriously… we all knew that HHH would get the gold back eventually, so why NOT now? He's been a good little trooper for most of 2004, putting over the right people, and giving the rub to others. Plus, his matches have been consistently solid, which is all you can really ask for. The win that basically gave him the title shot (I don't count the Eugene win, even though that was the official one), his win over Shawn Michaels at Bad Blood, was convincing and like him or hate him, HHH *should* be in the main event picture.

Benoit can handle this loss without damaging his persona too much. Plus, the guy's proven he could hang out in the main event with a nice three or four month title reign, so who's to say he wouldn't be back there ever again?

Alfonso "Fonzo" Castillo Says... Triple H d. Chris Benoit.
Sadly, all signs point to Sunday marking the end of the road for Chris Benoit’s much deserved and long overdue world title reign. WWE obviously felt a five-month reign was enough for Eddie Guerrero on the Smackdown! side, and probably feel the same for Benoit. And the reason is simple – Triple H is running out of ways to justify wrestling in the main events without defending the world title. 

Just a month away from WWE’s second biggest show of the year – SummerSlam – Triple H’s feud with Shawn Michaels is over with, and his rivalry with Benoit has been milked for all its worth. While the time seems ripe to move Hunter into a feud with Jericho, or even Eugene, the only way those programs will get top billing is with the title on the line. So at Vengeance, I expect a 30-minute, intensely dramatic war between these two, that will end with Evolution – and most likely its “newest member” Eugene, helping Hunter get the duke.

Yes, it’s a shame, as Benoit has been nothing short of great in his run as champion, but at the very least, we can be assured of a fantastic main event this Sunday. Triple H has been as much on his A-Game as he has been in years, and is certainly a worthy champion. But he’s not the only one.

The Cubs Fan Says... Chris Benoit d. Triple H.
They need a SummerSlam rematch and will probably try to reset Eugene as a face a little better.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Chris Benoit d. Triple H.
OK, here's the problem with picking this match.  You have a number of arguments to explain why Benoit should win here (i.e. he got pinned last Monday on RAW).  But all of those arguments are negated because the counter-argument is "He's fighting Triple H".  That shouldn't be a convincing argument, but it is.  However there is one small factor that makes me hold hope that Benoit will survive Vengeance as champion and that is Eugene.  If Triple H wins, he will in fact have no use anymore to use Eugene as a pawn.  Given this storyline, I feel that HHH has barely scratched the surface of manipulating Eugene and I think there is a lot more story to tell.  For that reason, I'm going to say that Benoit escapes with a win.  I mean, it's a given that HHH is getting the title back soon enough but I think it won't be this month.
Matt Hocking Says... Chris Benoit d. Triple H.
All right, here's the thing.  I'm tired of Chris Benoit as WWE World Champion.  He's had a good run, yes, but it's gone just long enough. However, the story possibilities with HHH not champion are much better than with HHH as champion.  The continued dissention within Evolution as Hunter abuses Eugene for his personal benefit while reaping no results (either for him or, most importantly, for the other members of Evolution) is much more compelling when Hunter doesn't have the belt.  Which brings me to my next point, that the WWE doesn't really have any great options OTHER than Benoit to hold the title right now (I never thought I'd say THAT), and thus their best option is to keep the title on him and build a strong challenger for Summerslam.
Jeb Lund Says... Chris Benoit d. Triple H.
Conventional wisdom says that Triple H never loses in these situations. Well, fine. Screw conventional wisdom. I’m using that “balanced booking” mechanism that says you can’t have too many heels win on one show. And I think a lot of heels will. Also, I think that Randy Orton’s repugnant win streak should continue, to spite other members of Evolution. More on that later.

So where does that leave these two? Frankly, I don’t know. Isn’t Triple H supposed to film a movie at some point? Doesn’t he have something else to do? But what of SummerSlam? What of this, that and everything else? Well, I say, “Whatever.” It makes my head hurt. Benoit’s improbable streak continues, he loses big time at SummerSlam, then waits another 17 years or so for a rematch.

Big Danny T Says...  Triple H d. Chris Benoit.
Benoit's reign, while the internet fans wet dream, hasn't exactly set the rest of the world on fire. I say HHH takes the belt back and they build up properly to Summerslam with Benoit chasing the title.
Rick Scaia Says... Chris Benoit d. Triple H.
Ummm, pretty much What Erin Said. 

Seriously: there's been way too much time put into shoving Benoit and the World Title to the background in favor of telling the story of HHH/Eugene. And after the fans crucified Eugene last Monday for acting heelishly, we may not have much more of a window for Eugene getting back in fans' good graces. So no way does this match NOT involve Eugene in some capacity.  And once I reach that conclusion, no way should Eugene's capacity be anything OTHER than helping Benoit to win.  

 

RANDY ORTON vs. EDGE
For the InterContinental Title

You know that part about how The Rick is your wrestling buddy who can make everything better?  Well, I'm not sure I've got any zip on my fastball in so far as this match goes....

If the main event was obscured by secondary storylines getting in the way, then the problem here was not even having a primary storyline to begin with.  Or at least, not one that really reached out and grabbed fans' attention.  It was just that Edge made his return, and after dealing with Kane, found himself opposing RAW's only other serious heels: Evolution.

Along with your Benoits and Shelton Benjamins (and lately, your Chris Jerichos), Edge wound up in all manner of tag matches and what not, sometimes up against IC Champ Randy Orton.  Somehow out of this, Edge was deemed IC Title Shot Worthy.

And then, one week after he was granted the IC Title Shot, Edge came out and cut a promo on Triple H, promising to take him down.  Yeah, I know: I don't get it, either.  Well, I mean, I GET it: they're trying to lay the foundation for AFTER Sunday's PPV...  but I don't get how they think that working ahead like that instead of putting even a modicum of sizzle INTO Sunday's PPV is a good idea.

But I digress: even in lieu of a real good reason for fans to care, these two should have a nice little match.  Orton, late in the Foley Feud, flipped a switch and seems to exhibit a bit more Purpose and Intensity (in both his promos and his matches), instead of just stammering like a dumb-ass and randomly stringing together his moves.  Edge is rock solid and a more-than-adequate dance partner.  Just because I, personally, thought that Jericho vs. Orton would have provided tons awesomer promos (and thus, tons more awesomer -- or at least EXISTENT -- storyline leading up to the match) doesn't mean that Edge vs. Orton will be any less of a wrestling match.
 

The OOutlOOk
Orton wins: 7 votes   --|--   Edge wins: 2 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Randy Orton d. Edge.
I have a confession to make: I don't hate Randy Orton anymore (sorry, Jeb.) He's improved by leaps and bounds on the mic, and I like the fact that he puts effort into making a resthold actually look painful. And he rarely, if ever, uses chinlocks, which is enough for bonus points in my book, and he's demonstrated an ability to hold up his end of a very good match with a great worker like Foley or HBK.

Edge falls into the exact same category of wrestler: He's generally solid in the ring and can hold up his end of a great match with a better worker like Angle, Eddie, or Benoit. He's good on the stick, but still lacking that certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to promos. He's over with the fans, but not quite at the World Championship level yet. He's perfect for the IC belt.

When you put two workers like this in a match together, you either get a glimpse at the future of wrestling (Rock/Triple H back in the late 90s) or a train wreck (Edge/Albert in 2002.) I'll give both of these guys the benefit of the doubt and say that the match should be pretty good but not at the 4-star level.

And in the continuing saga of Evolution, Orton will win. It has to be a screwjob ending, and if Monday's RAW is any indication, it has to set up Edge v. Triple H without making Edge's immediate goal a rematch for the IC title. This can be done one of two ways: 1) Triple H himself costs Edge the match, or 2) Triple H orders the rest of Evolution to orchestrate the screwjob ending, and Edge exacts his revenge that way.

My long-term plan for Evolution is a takeover by Orton, and the best way he can do that is to retain his IC belt while Triple H loses to Benoit for the third straight PPV. That belt is a giant feather in Orton's cap, and the Fed has put too much importance on his title reign to make him lose it to Edge in a two-week feud. Orton wins, but Edge moves on to bigger fish.

Canadian Bulldog Says... Edge d. Randy Orton...
…only not for the title. Stick with me here for a sec, folks. I feel strongly that we're looking at Edge Vs. HHH in the main event of SummerSlam. Not only is it in Edge's hometown, but he already began foreshadowing that match this week.

So he can't win the I-C title here, or else it would give you one title match at SS (unless Orton regains the title quickly). Plus, Orton has a gimmick right now of being a long-reigning Intercontinental champion, so why ruin it here?

 

I say Edge wins by countout or DQ, maybe because of a run-in by Evolution.

 

The only other scenario I could see is a no-contest (he gets attacked in the parking lot, Four Horsemen style), but I'm going to Ooficially predict that Edge gets the win here.

Alfonso "Fonzo" Castillo Says... Randy Orton d. Edge.
A month ago, I thought WWE was ready to take the IC belt off of “the Legend Killer” to put it on the up and coming Shelton Benjamin. But sure enough, Orton retained, and has continued to rack up the victories in the weeks that have followed. A month later, it seems WWE is serious about having Orton make a name for himself as one of the most dominant IC champs in history – even fudging the record books to say he’s held the belt longer than anyone in the last seven years. Taking all that into consideration, I don’t see Edge being the chosen one to dethrone Orton, despite WWE’s big plans for him. 

Edge is yet to recapture the incredible momentum he had when he was sidelined with his injury a year and a half ago. His ring work has only been slightly above average and his mic work has been rather stale. Edge has a big future ahead of him, but it won’t come at the expense of WWE’s brightest
young star, Orton. Expect another stop added to the Legend Killer tour when Orton pins Edge after 15 minutes of a solid, three-star range match.

The Cubs Fan Says... Edge d. Randy Orton.
Edge needs a win here to keep being a threat. So he gets it.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Randy Orton d. Edge.
We once again suffer from the same problem that the IC title match had last month.  Credible contender goes against longtime champ yet there has been zero buildup.  It doesn't take an Einstein to figure this out.  The satisfying way to have a long-running champ go down is either via a guy who has had a heated rivalry with him and finally gets the win or an out-of-nowhere fluke (ala Warrior with Honky).  This is somewhere in the middle of that.  So, just like with Benjamin last month, I'm going to have to go against the contender and say that Edge fails to get the gold.  Edge's promo on RAW also makes me think that there may be bigger plans for him and the IC title is not in his future.  Here's hoping that Jericho will be that guy to have that long running feud with Orton and ultimately take him down.
Matt Hocking Says... Randy Orton d. Edge.
Edge has been built over the last...uh...week as a loose cannon.  His increasing attacks on Evolution seem to indicate that he is at the cusp of a huge push against the evil stable.  So why pick him to lose?  For two reasons, Firstly, because Orton would seem to be the natural choice to lead Evolution against HHH, and for that he needs the legitimacy of the IC Title (he has gold but Hunter doesn't), and Secondly, because It's my understanding that Randy will defend against Chris Jericho next month at Summerslam, once Jericho has disposed of Batista.  I thing Edge gets more
and more violent and eventually gets himself DQ'd leading to a cheap win for Orton.
Jeb Lund Says... Randy Orton d. Edge...
…because I hate Randy Orton, and God hates me. Randy’s streak continues, and his growing cockiness causes dissension in the Evolution ranks. Also, Edge does another of his serviceable jobs in a singles match. You know, one where you say, “Wow, that was a PPV match because it was better than an average Raw match, yet I still don’t care.”
Big Danny T Says...  Randy Orton d. Edge.
Out of nowhere Edge comes after the title. Edge has defined a mission statement (He'll singlehandedly take out Evolution), but he won't be able to start on that this weekend. Needs more buildup.
Rick Scaia Says... Randy Orton d. Edge.
Following the Foley Feud, Randy Orton started boasting about his reign as IC Champ.  This creates, by default, a situation where his eventual LOSS of said title will be a major storyline and a big deal.  And folks, a randomly generated title feud against Edge is NOT a big deal.  I'm confident that we'll ALL feel it when Orton finally lands in a feud where it's time for his mighty IC reign to come to an end... and if you think this is it, I pity you.

Problem is, they introduced this "Edge wants to eliminate all of Evolution" storyline, and a lot of the best ways to advance that would involve Edge getting the win, here. But an out-of-left-field promo on Monday and the possibility that Edge will be starting a feud with HHH after the PPV simply do NOT overshadow the many good and more important reasons for keeping the belt on Orton.

From my "it's gonna have to be a big deal when Orton loses" theory to Erin's "Orton needs to keep the title to cement his position in an Evolution power struggle" to the simple fact that putting some jewelry on Edge is NOT the solution to the treading-water problem he's had since his return...  I just don't see any way Edge wins, here.

Well, actually, I DO see ways Edge could win.  But it'd have to be by DQ or something: in fact, that might even be the best play (to help advance the Edge vs. All of Evolution story)!  Yeah, that'd definitely work... but hell, in the name of keeping it simple, instead of getting into Fantasy Booking mode, let's just say Orton wins. 

 

KANE vs. MATT HARDY
No Disqualification Match

And again, I fear The Rick may fail you... for there is no way to tell the Tale of this match without peppering in generous helpings of Suck. I'll at least endeavor to be brief:

About 2 months ago, Kane started making advances on Lita, who was (appropriately) freaked out.  Matt Hardy, just starting to get back into Lita's good graces after humiliating her last fall, came to her aid. But Kane wouldn't back off, and asked Lita a Mystery Question... and when he finally wanted an answer, he delivered a savage beating to Matt Hardy and was threatening to Pillmanize his neck, when Lita broke down and answered "yes."

Cut to a few weeks later: the question and the aftermath were never quite explained, but Lita seemed to be extraordinarily happy and she and Matt were back together and life was peachy.  Until (RIGHT HERE, IN DAYTON, OH, CHEAP POP~!) she found out she was pregnant.  Matt thought that was really cool news, and was down on one knee so as to unbastardize his child when Kane dropped in to deliver some news: HE is the father of Lita's baby.

Now, in a sensible world, there are all manner of tests that could determine paternity instead of having us go all Jerry Springer... but hell, in a sensible world, Lita wouldn't have been such a stupid bitch to prostitute herself to Kane for no good reason and even if she had she should certainly have thought to utilize any number of readily-available birth control measures... but fuck that, in a SENSIBLE WORLD, nobody at WWE would ever have thought this sounded like a good idea for a storyline to begin with, and we'd ALL have been much happier.

But sadly, this is not a sensible world, and so we've got this melodramatic nonsense in which we still don't know who the father is, in which Matt is (a) angry at Kane for sullying his best girl, but also (b) angry at his girl for being such a retard.  Whee!  In the last two weeks, we have seen Matt get the better of Kane in two brief brawls, and have seen Lita (I think) try to get Kane to attack her so as to cause a miscarriage or something.  I don't know.  It hurts my brain to try to figure this one out.  So I'll stop...

Under normal circumstances, I like Matt Hardy.  I like Kane in the ring.  The No DQ stipulation certainly opens up a lot of doors for them to have an entertaining brawl.  But Pregnant Lita hovers over them, a Spectre of Suck that could manifest itself at any time.  I'm not sure exactly what to expect: it could be a surprise highlight of the show... but it might also be every bit as soul-crushingly stupid as we fear.
 

The OOutlOOk
Kane wins: 8 votes   --|--   Matt wins: 1 vote

Erin Anderson Says... Kane d. Matt Hardy.
In an ideal world, Matt Hardy would decisively win this match and get a huge push, while Lita discovers that her pregnancy test was a false positive and we all move on to better things.

But this is WWE we're talking about here. I fully expect Summerslam to feature a DNA Test on a Pole Match at the rate things are going. I hear that Matt needs surgery, so this is an ideal place to use an injury angle. Lita will be involved too, I'm sure. Since this storyline has been incredibly stupid so far, look for Lita to get caught in the action and lose her baby in the process. We can look forward to weeks of Oscar-caliber performances from her! The match itself should be dull and bloody.

Kane wins. If I think about this anymore, my brain might ooze out of my ears.

Canadian Bulldog Says... Matt Hardy d. Kane.

I'm going out on a limb here, because this match really SHOULD go to Kane. But if they're serious about pushing the Matt Hardy-Lita-Kane thing - and reports suggest that Lita will be preggers until WrestleMania - then they need to keep this storyline going.

 

I'm thinking that Hardy gets a fluke win here, loses at SummerSlam in a BIG WAY, and takes some time off to get his neck taken care of. If it's not one of those year-long surgeries, then perhaps Hardy makes his grand return as Lita reaches the final term of her pregnancy. Or maybe I'm just thinking about this angle WAAAAAY too much.

 

In any event, Matt goes over.

Alfonso "Fonzo" Castillo Says... Kane d. Matt Hardy.
I don’t expect any major revelations in the Kane-Hardy-Lita-baby drama this Sunday, although this match is sure to amp up the intensity in the saga. Kane has shown recently, including against Benoit last month, that he can have very good matches with good workers. Hardy certainly qualifies as that, so I expect a decent outing here, if not terribly long. Hardy will show a lot of good fire, and certainly use the No-DQ stip to cut Kane down to size with some chairshots. But in the end, Kane will overpower young Matt and get the pin.
The Cubs Fan Says... Kane d. Matt Hardy.
It's touching how they've sapped out all the fun- having arrogant aspects out of Matt Hardy by putting him here. Kane wins here to send Matt to surgery and gets him out of this plot.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Kane d. Matt Hardy.
This is pretty much a no brainer in my book.  Kane has to win this.  Despite the No DQ stip, I don't think Matt Hardy has enough to defeat the Big Red Daddy.  What MUST happen (but won't necessarily) is to have one of these guys come out of this match looking really good.  Either have Matt go balls out and try everything only to ultimately lose and gain some real face heat for it.  OR have Kane just be the ultimate monster and destroy Matt Hardy.  Given the way both of these two have been treated by the WWE, I don't hold much hope for that.
Matt Hocking Says... Kane d. Matt Hardy.
Kane brutalizes Matt, Lita tries to call him off.  This continues for a good part of the match until Lita turns on Matt and helps Kane pick up the win and destroy him enough that Matt has time to rehab his injuries.  It is later revealed that the baby is, in fact, Matt's which devastates Lita.  Then Kane eats her.  Or something.
Jeb Lund Says... Kane d. Matt Hardy.
This story is so exciting, why stop it now?
Big Danny T Says...  Kane d. Matt Hardy.
Matt will fight valiantly, but in the end, Kane will get the better of him. Unfortunately, this will lead to a couple more weeks of Kane/Lita suckiness before HBK gets back and saves the day.
Rick Scaia Says... Kane d. Matt Hardy.
Matt Hardy's gotten two weeks of kicking Kane's ass.  Do you REALLY think it's gonna continue?

The future of this Kane/Matt/Lita story is not really in the ring; it's in shitty soap opera vignettes that nobody cares about (and which can be done even if Matt's injured and can't wrestle, which is another smark-y kind of reason to think he should lose and do an injury angle here, since he might be facing real life knee surgery). So there's no reason to do anything but the obvious in this match.  And to me, that means giving Kane the win so that he's firmly entrenched and established for his IN-RING (i.e. NOT shitty soap opera) future...  which I'm sure involves the return of Shawn Michaels by summer's end.

Like I said, it might be a fun brawl, or it might be overshadowed by Pregnant Lita Crap, but it'll almost certainly end with Kane on top.

 

LA RESISTANCE vs. RIC FLAIR/EUGENE
For the World Tag Team Titles

Not even the ATTEMPT of a storyline here, at least, not much beyond the tangential issue of how everybody in Evolution besides HHH doesn't like Eugene.

Since winning the tag titles in May, La Resistance have been the beneficiaries of a shitty-ass tag division.  They've toppled all manner of make-shift and c-level tag teams, firmly establishing their mediocrity!  WHEEE!  Although that's not totally fair: Sylvain Grenier's caterwauling is one of RAW's most bankable heel-heat generators, for better or for worse...  lord knows, on the list of reasons why I don't like people, being Canadian and having a shitty singing voice rank literally in the top, umm, couple thousand!

So after dispatching such luminaries as Hurricane and Rosey, and turning back Rhyno's Quest for Tag Team Gold (twice!), there was only one thing that GM-For-a-Day Eugene could think of in terms of a team to challenge the mighty La Resistance.  Himself and his new Evolution friend, Ric Flair.  Flair, of course, has other ideas, and is firmly in league with Randy Orton in his thinking that Eugene is a drag on Evolution.  But when the GM speaks, Flair must obey.

So we've got ourselves a match that has no real backstory, but which should have so much intra-match story that it won't really matter.  In a lot of ways, this is the match on the show that I'm second-most-looking-forward-to.  The interaction between Flair and Eugene could be comedy gold, I remain a big fan of the Evolution/Eugene interactions (just not so much of letting it overshadow Benoit/HHH is all), and there's enough talent in the ring that they can even make a decent match of this in between the story/comedy. 
 

The OOutlOOk
La Resistance wins: 5 votes
Flair/Eugene win: 4 votes

Erin Anderson Says... La Resistance d. Flair/Eugene.
Flair and Eugene as the tag champs could be a hell of a lot of fun, but I don't think it will happen. It all goes back to my fantasy booking scenario for this PPV (my Theory of Evolution, if you will.) If you want to keep Eugene as a babyface, you have to sever all ties with Evolution. The solution: have him do something stupid that costs Flair a chance to be one-half of the tag champs. Evolution needs an opportunity to kick out Eugene, and this match could be the first of several reasons to do so. Eugene tries to do the right thing, refuses to cheat, et cetera, and loses the match because of it. The veins in Flair's forehead may very well pop out in the resulting temper tantrum and possible beatdown.

With Flair and Eugene as partner for the night? Comedy GOLD. I can't speak for the workrate, but this match should he hilarious.

Canadian Bulldog Says... Eugene/Flair d. La Resistance.
WWE has already shown to me that they are going to milk this Eugene thing for all it's worth, so it only makes sense that they'd go all the way and give him a title. And why not a title reign while partnering with the biggest legend in the company?

I almost busted a gut laughing when Eugene announced the team on Monday, and then Flair had to be restrained from strangling his new ally. I can see a lot more comedy from this team over the next few weeks, even if they end up just winning the match, but not the belts.

Alfonso "Fonzo" Castillo Says... Flair/Eugene d. La Resistance.
After underestimating – as they always do – the drawing power of the Nature Boy upon the release of his DVD, it looks like WWE is determined not to make that same mistake twice. So, we get Flair in a fairly prominent match-up the
week his book goes on sale. As strange as it sounds, WWE has put Flair in the position to get some rub from Eugene, who has been the fed’s most popular new character. As WWE looks to sell as many copies of “To Be The Man” as possible, I fully expect the unlikely pairing of Eugene and Flair to win the tag titles Sunday, and play the Odd Couple role on TV for a few weeks. It also doesn’t help that La Resistance sucks.
The Cubs Fan Says... La Resistance d. Flair/Eugene.
Because Ric Flair vs Eugene skits are more entertaining to write then them together, and after Monday, I think they might be scared of the fans turning on Eugene permanently if he keeps being a reluctant heel.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Eugene/Flair d. La Resistance.
As I mentioned in the HHH/Benoit pick, I think there is still more story to be said with Evolution and Eugene.  Certainly a good way to do that is by having Eugene tied to Evolution via the tag straps.  This match will be good for comedy, but since it's comedy based it won't be a very good wrestling match, which is a shame since there are some decent workers involved.  Eugene/Flair as champs will make for a good story and you won't feel like they need to defend all the time, which is a good thing on a tag team depleted show like RAW.
Matt Hocking Says... La Resistance d. Flair/Eugene.
I would award this match to Flair/Eugene, except that the storyline is that Evolution is freaking out about how badly HHH is screwing them over with this Eugene thing.  While teaming Flair and Eugene has chances for zaniness, it wouldn't mean much in the long run.  Eugene and Flair dominate, until Eugene accidentally does something stupid and causes Flair to get pinned.  Ric flips out.
Jeb Lund Says... Eugene/Flair d. La Resistance.
There isn’t one good reason why La Resistance should win, and there are about 50 great comedic, dramatic and just good-sense storytelling reasons why Flair and Eugene should.
Big Danny T Says...  La Resistance d. Flair/Eugene.
Hilarity will ensue as Eugene and Flair walk the fine line between acting as a team and Flair turning on Eugene out of frustration. After one too many miscommunication spots, La Resistance will win with a rollup on Flair.
Rick Scaia Says... La Resistance d. Flair/Eugene.
The "easy" call would be to put the belts on the Odd Couple, I think.  Because it'd be fun!

But a couple things occur to me: (1) putting the tag titles on a mis-matched makeshift team is NOT the solution to RAW's horrifying tag team scene.  Doing so would, in fact, be another step backwards after they've invested time in making La Resistance seem ALMOST legitimate as champs.  And (2) as alluded to above, I think Eugene getting out from under Evolution needs to come sooner rather than later unless they really want him to be a heel.

So lump me in with the others who think the finish to this will be Eugene doing something that causes Ric to get pinned. And from there, it's really easy to do bits where Flair/Evolution get mad at Eugene, and maybe other skits where Eugene (perhaps with the help of William Regal) realizes that Evolution are NOT his friends, and then make our way to the main event where fans aren't sure of Eugene's motivations but he eventually helps Benoit win the match, and everybody's back to cheering for Happy Fun Eugene, instead of mutinying against Evil Retard Eugene.

Not only is it right for Eugene to make this move now, I also think doing it this way plays quite elegantly into a possible Evolution Power Struggle angle, which has certainly started simmering under lately.  But that's getting off track, and repeating Erin's thesis, anyway...  La Resistance should win, here, for these reasons and many more!

 

CHRIS JERICHO vs. BATISTA
Obligatory GRUDGE~! Match

So you remember the part where I talked about Edge vs. Orton and how it wasn't really well-plotted?  Well, this here is pretty much the companion piece to that match.

Like Edge, Jericho found himself tossed in against Evolution in the last month or so... it's just that instead of an IC Title Shot, Jericho wound up drawing the short straw, and gets a Big PPV Showdown with Batista.  Although, if anything, Jericho has more reason to be PPV-angry with Batista than Edge has to be with Orton: you see, in a tag match a few weeks back, Batista (pretend) concussed Jericho, forcing him to miss the second half of the match.  And Batista has a reason to be PPV-angry back: in the rematch, Jericho battled against the odds and the wooziness to defeat Batista in the tag setting.

So really, this is kinda like the Rubber Match!  Hey, I AM good, dammit!  I just made myself almost-excited for this one!

Anyway, Jericho's Jericho: one of the three best reasons to watch RAW, no matter what he's doing.  And though Batista's improvements haven't been quite as notable as Orton's, he less of a load than he once was and has actually impressed me as a decent enough entry in the "one dimensionally bludgeoning power wrestler" mold.  With a guy as good as Jericho, he should be very capable of holding up his half in a surprisingly-entertaining "Big man overpowers and mauls the little man until the inevitable superman comeback" match.
 

The OOutlOOk
Jericho wins: 8 votes   --|--   Batista wins: 1 vote

Erin Anderson Says... Chris Jericho d. Batista.
This is one match where I can't easily predict a winner, but I'm going to go with Jericho for a few reasons:

1) If everyone in Evolution other than Randy loses, then it gives Orton justification for taking over the faction,

2) Most of my predictions have the heels winning, and

3) I just like Jericho better.

I'm going to wager a guess (wishful thinking, perhaps?) that Jericho is in line for a push towards the World Title picture. I fully expected him to lose to Tomko at the last PPV, but he surprisingly got a decisive win there. Maybe he'll continue that momentum this Sunday, and will no longer be used as WWE's Stepping Stone to Stardom.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Chris Jericho d. Batista.
Batista has made tremendous strides since returning from injury last year (I may have said something those lines in a previous PPV predictions column, but it's still true). He's not just the stereotypical musclebound goof that I first wrote him off as. The guy can move, he can talk and his wrestling looks convincing. Not all the time, mind you, but enough of the time, and usually when it counts.

So why do I think he's going to lose to Jericho? Just because I think Y2J has more long-term potential (that Winnipeg crowd on Raw this week finally gave him the face pop he's deserved ever since WrestleMania), and a win over him helps get him to an eventual feud with either Randy Orton, Kane or HHH.

Alfonso "Fonzo" Castillo Says... Chris Jericho d. Batista.
Arguably more so than Orton vs. Edge, this match may be a preview of WWE main event future. Jericho, I suspect, is next in line for a world title feud, while Batista has come into his own as the powerhouse enforcer of the Evolution group, and has delivered some good performances when paired with a skilled opponent. I saw this match live at the recent Madison Square Garden house show and was pleasantly surprised at how well these two meshed together. Expect Jericho to play the giant killer role for much of the match before finally scoring the out-of-nowhere pin. At MSG, it was a sunset flip out of Batista’s powerbomb attempt.
The Cubs Fan Says... Chris Jericho d. Batista.
Edge did promise Evolution would go down. This one would go either way otherwise (because it doesn't matter), but Jericho needs to win to keep it 0-for-Evolution.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Chris Jericho d. Batista.
Easiest pick of the show.  Batista will get his token offense in and do his gay little poses, but there is no reason for him to win.  A win for Batista would mean an extension on this feud which clearly isn't in Jericho's future.  He's either moving on to bigger and better things or back to feuding with Christian and Co.  The only question left is what won't get destroyed during Batista's roid rage after he loses.
Matt Hocking Says... Chris Jericho d. Batista.
Pretty simple stuff here.  Dave looks strong beating on Jericho for a while, until Jericho turns on the heat and makes crafty decisions that lead to Dave in the Walls.  It should be an ok Big Man/Little Man match.
Jeb Lund Says... Batista d. Chris Jericho.
Oddly, I’m almost as torn with this match as I am with the World Title match. On one hand, Evolution would be a lot more interesting if hulking Dave Batista and big ol’ Triple H came up as losers, while Randy “Sack of Duh” Orton, Ric Flair and Eugene came up the big winners. Think about it: Evolution would appear to be coming apart at the seams. If the mentor, the slow kid and the new kid all triumph over the two big men who’ve supposedly arrived, it tends to throw their dynamic into the muck.

Then again, there’s the fact that Jericho’s a teflon mid-carder: it really doesn’t matter if he loses. He’s never any more than two weeks of wins and promos away from having all his credibility back. And there is the Christian issue. I’m willing to bet that he’s well enough to return to TV and screw around for a few weeks outside the ring before ever having a rematch with Jericho.

So, uh, Christian or Tomko or Trish interfere and cost Jericho the match. Batista gets the win, but not the satisfaction of cheating or winning on his own. Thus, Orton or Flair or someone can crow at him, while Jericho adds another notch on his belt of 35 PPV losses, or whatever it is.

Big Danny T Says...  Chris Jericho d. Batista.
Edge is going to need help with Evolution, and Jericho looks to be his partner in crime. One of them needs to come out of the weekend looking good, so I pick Jericho.
Rick Scaia Says... Chris Jericho d. Batista.
Remember that part above where I talked about Randy Orton needing a BIG and IMPORTANT feud before he could possibly lose the IC belt?  Well, Junior, I think Jericho's absolutely the man for the job.  I think Y2J cutting promos on Young Randall would be quite outstanding (and by default should be one-sided, which certainly plays to Randy's, ahem, strengths), I think both guys are over enough that it'd be a super-hot feud, and I don't think the resulting match would be anything short of gold.

So with that in mind: Jericho beats Batista, as a stepping stone to Orton.

 

THE EXTRAS
Because Five Matches Do Not a PPV Make

Again, WWE seems as burnt out by this recent string of PPVs as we fans are...  only five PPV matches announced two days before the show?  And some of those stories possibly not told the best they could have been?

Yeah, WWE needs this five week break before SummerSlam as much as we do.

So even though the "official" card is looking a bit thin even at this late juncture, we here at OO are insightful sons of bitches who have a few ideas for how the Fed might flesh out Sunday's 3-hour show.  These won't count in any official capacity, but take a look at what the trOOps think could happen... and if any of us are right, you may feel free to worship us as minor deities.
 

The OOutlOOk

Erin Anderson Says... Unless Somebody Buys Me Another Drink, I Don't Care About No Stinking Extras.
The rum is wearing off and I'm getting a headache, so that's pretty much it for my predictions. I can't remember RAW clearly enough to guess any other matches we might see, but look for some backstage Eugene goodness, some shitty acting from Lita, and a pointless women's match. Enjoy the show.
Canadian Bulldog Says... You Will Be Shocked at Who Shows Up at Ringside~!
Victoria and Gail Kim will continue their epic rivalry over the inactive Women's title. And maybe, just maybe, they throw Nidia and Molly into the match and make it a four way. Who wins? Who cares?

I like how they've started a subtle storyline with Rhyno looking for a tag team partner to defeat La Resistance. If they're NOT planning on making Eugene/Flair champions, perhaps Rhyno will team with Tajiri to face… uh….well, two random wrestlers? Given that I can't think of any random wrestlers off the top of my head, perhaps the ultimate face team vs. face team showdown against Hurricane and Rosey? Hey, it's either that or Tyson Tomko and Coach, for pete's sake!

William Regal will be on hand, if only to congratulate Eugene after his title win. Surely they haven't forgotten about that little angle yet?

 

Lita will have morning sickness.

 

Expect at least three of the following people at ringside: Mick Foley, Jimmy Snuka, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Andre The Giant (sorry, I forgot to write Vengeance "predictions" in Inside The Ropes this week, so I needed that outlet. Thank you for bearing with me.)

Alfonso "Fonzo" Castillo Says... Hey, This Line-up Looks Familiar. And That's a GOOD Thing.
As I mentioned above, I recently attended a Madison Square Garden house show that looks a lot like this card. It featured Triple H vs. Benoit in the main event, Jericho vs. Batista, Orton vs. Edge and Kane vs. Matt Hardy. It was also one of the best house shows I’ve attended in years, and everyone I know who attended the show concurred. So, unlike the abysmal Great American Bash PPV, I think there is reason to have high expectations for this show, which so far looks very solid top to bottom, even without Shawn Michaels on the show.  I might go as far as to say Vengeance has the potential to be the second best all-around PPV this year, next to WrestleMania. And while that’s great for fans, it also speaks to the extreme disparity between the WWE’ 
two brands. WWE could afford to take half the wrestlers featured on Vengeance and send them to Smackdown!, and still keep RAW viable.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Hey, Look at the Funny Nickname I Came Up With for Tyson Tomko!
Well as I type this still no other matches have been announced, but I would imagine that there will be some sort of women's match.  Perhaps yet another #1 contender's match.
 
Of the remaining superstars, the only ones I could see making the show are Regal and the Lovely Miss Tomko, so I'll guess that there will be some backstage vignette with Trish and Tyson making fun of Eugene and Regal overhears them and defends Eugene's honor by attacking Botchko which leads to a match.
 
Stacy will probably shill the Diva search again as I head to local sports bar urinal.
 
Given that the PPV is in Connecticut, I'll also say that we get a special visit from "A McMahon".
Matt Hocking Says... It Can't POSSIBLY Be Any Worse Than the Great American Bash.
1.  Some wackiness will happen to give the Women's Title something to do on PPV.  Perhaps Trish commentating on a Victoria/Nidia/Molly rematch, or a Stacy v. Nidia v. Molly v. Gail v. Victoria v. Jazz Elimination Chamber.

2.  DIVA SEARCH RECAP OMG~!

3.  Another two matches will be announced on Heat, and while they will make no sense whatsoever, they will ultimately be more satisfying than the entire Great American Bash PPV.
Jeb Lund Says... I Hate Myself and Want to Die.
I’m sorry if this is short. I’m short on time and patience. On one hand, WWE still isn’t giving me much to be excited about. On the other, I quit smoking recently (after ten years of gleeful addiction), and it’s proving to be a weird adjustment. For one thing, it means not drinking, too. I think I’ve had four drinks in my lifetime when I was not a smoker, and I fear getting the slightest bit tipsy before I get a handle on this no-smoking thing.

Otherwise, something bad might happen. You know, you get drunk, and you start employing Drunk Logic: “If I can smoke one cigarette now, it will prove that I don’t need to smoke.” Nine hours later, you wake up in a cigarette boat with Joe Camel, the Marlboro man and some WASP from an “Alive with Pleasure!” print ad, because you’re trying to speed into international waters to get seventy-five duty-free cartons of Vantage. And you don’t even smoke Vantages.

What’s this got to do with wrestling? Well, to date all my columns for OnlineOnslaught have been written with the accompaniment of a few beers and smokes. So there will be a necessary period of adjustment between my breaking my bad habits, and returning to this bad habit of a column. Basically, I’m trying to avoid patterns of behavior that encourage backsliding. And now I’m channeling Dr. Phil. Lovely.

Additional Match Predictions: Since this looks to be a card heavy on heel wins, expect one or two matches added, with at least one more face victory.

Big Danny T Says...  I Can't Wait To See Coach's PRIVATE COLLECTION of Diva Search Video Footage!
Well, you can sure as shit bet that they aren't going to make the above 5 matches 45 minutes apiece, so look for a match or two to be added during Heat. I say Garrison Cade comes to defend Coaches honor and gets taken down by Tajiri. Also, I would guess that Trish will get creative and do another "Defend the womens title as underhandedly as possible" deal. Oh yeah, and WWE will try to get us to care about this Diva Search by showing us some "Too hot for TV" stuff.
Rick Scaia Says... I'm Ever So Smart and If I Was In Charge, It Wouldn't Have Come To This, But Since It Has, Here's a Few Very Good Ideas For Extras.
I can't decide if I think they need 2 or 3 additional matches. A few of the Announced Five seem to have a pretty low ceiling in terms of match length (does anyone really want to see Batista/Jericho or Kane/Matt go much longer than 10 minutes each?), but then HHH/Benoit could EASILY go 40 minutes or more if they want...

I figure maybe 2 should do it, since they can also flesh things out with some Bischoff skits, and if I'm right about where they go with Eugene, that'll need some Vignette Time, too.  And dammit, I'm sure we'll be "treated" to some kind of Diva Search crap, too.

So, for two extra matches, here's what I do: one is easy, and we get us a Tajiri vs. Coach match.  Coach was misted on Monday, holds a win over Tajiri on PPV, and it'd be totally in character for him to boldly insist (on Heat) that he wants to teach Tajiri another lesson on PPV.  Match is on, and this time, dammit, Tajiri wins.

And two: even though Trish is hurt, I'm cottoning to the idea of keeping her in the spotlight with devious, cheap wins. BUT, I say save the 4 second matches for RAW... on PPV, we need something a little longer, so I'm thinking you can hide/protect Trish by using her sparingly in a Mixed Tag match.  Let the Lovely Miss Tomko do a lot of work, and have Trish swoop in at the end to score a pinfall.  Only question is: against whom?  Victoria/Stevie would be pretty easy to set up, but I almost think that feud should develop over time instead of being rushed before Trish is well enough to do it up right... so here's what I'd do instead: Nidia wants revenge on Trish, and during Heat, she approaches Rhyno.  Says she knows Rhyno's been looking for a tag partner, and she has a proposition: for one night, they team up and face Trish/Tomko.  And BAM!, you have a halfway plausible reason to kill 8 minutes on the PPV.  By necessity, the finish is ANOTHER of Rhyno's partners letting him down, too, which I think they could use when they pick up the pieces of Rhyno's Partner Search on RAW.

Really, the only other alternative for a PPV match would by Rhyno and a partner vs. Hurricane and Rosey, or something.  Or maybe Rhyno vs. Val in a "Goddammit, You Were a Shitty Partner" match.  Or something.  I do like the idea of Rhyno's Partner Search, though... if only they'd actually go somewhere with it.

On Heat: Molly vs. Victoria, just on the grounds of because I liked what I saw in the three-way on Monday, and I think it'd make a bit of sense to have them want to settle their score after Nidia stole the win on RAW.

See, I AM ever so smart!  You'd like it if things turned out this way, wouldn't you?

 

So that's that.  Five announced matches fully analyzed from every angle.  A few ideas for what else we might get on the show.  We'll know soon enough how right or wrong we are...

You can, obviously, find out on Sunday night by checking out Vengeance on PPV.  Or alternately, you can be a cheap bastard and just come on back here to OO around midnight, at which point I'll be posting my full immediate post-show recap of the event.

And then Vengeance coverage will conclude with any additional thoughts and fall-out in Monday's column.  So: enjoy the show, enjoy your weekend, and I'll see you then!
    

E-MAIL RICK SCAIA
BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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