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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
TEAM COVERAGE:
WWE No Mercy PPV Preview
October 1, 2004

Compiled by Rick Scaia
Featuring All Your Favorite OnlineOnslaught.com Semi-Stars

 

SD! returns with its first brand-specific PPV since June's horribly ill-conceived Great American Bash. Remember that one? JBL wins the title for no apparent reason AND the Undertaker kills a Paul Bearer doll?  It was enough to make one wonder what sorts of wacky antics or prescription medications might have gone into the booking of the show...
 
But a lot can chance in three months, and in many ways, SD! has rebounded commendably after hitting rock bottom at the Bash. JBL has evolved enough as a character that he's not a total waste of TV time; Kurt Angle and the Big Show have both return to TV to bolster a thin top level roster; and the creative team has done wonders to develop a crew of

effective mid-card characters and storylines (most notably in the form of Spike Dudley's heel turn and the recent break-up of London/Kidman).

So of course, with all that said, SD! sort of limps into its return to PPV, the victim of an underwhelming final Thursday night show (one that, for the first time in a month or longer, was easily overshadowed by RAW for the week).  Or maybe it was just a pissy mood I was in as I reviewed the footage after ALSO having skimmed through the Presidential Debate (where apparently the goal was NOT to say anything particularly original, insightful, or informative, but rather to spout off The Expected Generalities, and to use repetition instead of conviction to get the lemming viewers to agree with you; I swear, 90 minutes of "debating," and I think I could count the genuine, unscripted moments on one hand whereas I'd isolated both men's well-coached "talking points" inside the first 2 questions). 

But wait, this is a wrestling site, not a political one, so lemme say that I DON'T think that Debate Pissiness was the only factor in me not really being fired up for SD! final pre-PPV push.  Not having the babyfaces involved in your top two PPV feuds on the show (other than in pre-taped form) really sucked some of the wind out of the sails (and it's not like JBL/Taker had a whole lot of wind to begin with).  Even in SD!'s main event match, there was a sense of randomness, rather than a sense of No Mercy being a must-see show, as Rob Van Dam ditched his supposed Tag Team Title Partner and teamed up with Eddie Guerrero in a match that had nothing to do with him (the tag champs, also, were noticeably absent on the night, and the over all effect was one of an unpush for THAT match, too).

There were some wins on the undercard (again, with London/Kidman and with Spike Dudley/CW Title), but in a lot of ways, No Mercy might have been better served to have taken place LAST weekend, when SD! was coming off a relatively strong show with a genuinely big finish.  Whether it's my mood or whatever, tonight's SD! just didn't have any of the sizzle you need to sell a PPV. SD!'s remarkable rebound to week-in, week-out sustainably entertaining TV is a good thing. But tonight's show and this weekend's PPV prove that there's still work to be done.

And of course, this is the point at which I note that SD! *will* have its entire roster assembled on Sunday, and that flaccid final push aside, No Mercy has every opportunity to be another entry in that "week-in, week-out solidly entertaining" category.  No Mercy won't, at the end of the day, won't be graded by its final hype, it'll be graded by how it delivers in the ring.  And there, it's not without promise.

So join us, won't you, as the entire staff of Online Onslaught comes together to take a look at the as-announced six-match No Mercy card?  I may sit here all high and mighty and say that WWE didn't do its job effectively tonight, but *we* won't skimp on the gOOdness, here!  We'll get you fully up to speed and raring to go for Sunday's PPV!

[Note: yes, WWE has officially added a seventh match, but it was added AFTER my Call To Action was sent out to the trOOps, so it's not being included here, other than in the "extras" section.  This is also how we'll play it because I've heard from Denny Burkholder, ringleader of the Swine At WrestleLine, and his crew is also only picking a six-match card.  Hey, they can pick however many matches they want, it doesn't matter: we're still gonna make it four in a row over them this time!  And no forfeit win this time, either!]

Here's the Only No Mercy PPV Preview you need to read....
 

JOHN BRADSHAW LAYFIELD vs. THE UNDERTAKER
Last Ride Match for the WWE Title

Well, this feud wasn't about a whole of a lot when it "headlined" the SD! half of the SummerSlam PPV...  basically, the story was JBL finally finishing off Eddie Guerrero as a challenger, and then issuing the standard Heelish Open Challenge of We Don't Have Any Better Ideas.  Taker, fresh off almost-killing his manger, had nothing better doing, so he answered it.

At SummerSlam, Bradshaw promised to win the match, and he did, but only via disqualification when the ref spotted Taker using the WWE Title belt that JBL himself had introduced into the match. After the bell, Taker figured he'd get his money worth, and assaulted JBL (including, in a memorably-bad spot, putting JBL through the apparently papier-mâché roof of his own limo).

The story hasn't developed a whole lot since then.  JBL, as a character, has grown a bit since SummerSlam, including a few memorable weeks while he was feigning serious injuries (which not only resulted in some new comedic hooks for JBL, but which also had the added bonus of keeping him out of the wrestling ring!).  He's also resort to bringing back some faces from Taker's past to run interference for him.

But through it all, Taker is singularly focused.  He's not only eliminated the hired goons, Gangrel and Viscera, but this past week, also "symbolfied" Orlando Jordan, leaving JBL to fight alone in this Last Ride Match.  Though I guess it'd be entirely possible for Gangrel, Viscera, or OJ to "recover from injuries" enough to play roles in the PPV match on Sunday, this certainly has the feel of Taker FINALLY isolating JBL to deliver sweet, sweet justice.  Justice for what? Well, like I said, this story was never really about much of anything, so that part's kind of hazy...  but it also doesn't matter much, cuz people like Taker, and should enjoy seeing him kick some ass.

Match-wise? Well, I'm not sure what to expect. On one hand, these two had a commendably-watchable brawl at SummerSlam, but on that show, they weren't the true headliners, and were only asked to fill up 15 minutes.  On Sunday, chances are they really will go on last, and that means 20+ minutes, more than likely.  The Last Ride gimmick means no DQs and should allow for some gimmicky highspots, which could keep things moving... but then again, part of me cannot even BEGIN to describe the pain of sitting through tonight's JBL/Bob Holly match on SD!, and thinks that might be the better comparison: something that might be bloated and over-long, and a chore to watch as a result.  We'll see how the guys do, though...
  

The OOutlOOk
JBL  wins: 7 votes   --|--   Undertaker wins: 4 votes

Erin Anderson Says... JBL d. Undertaker.
Just a quick word of warning: I'm a bit pressed for time, so my explanations will be pretty short. JBL keeps coming along as a terrific character. The Undertaker, while always great for a pop, is still only a part-time worker. I don't expect Taker to win here, because this is a feud that can go on for at least another PPV. And even if this is the end of the feud, JBL has two other potential opponents waiting in the wings. More on that later.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Undertaker d. JBL.
Well, I've predicted JBL losing for, what, three or four pay-per-views now this year and I think I've been wrong every last time. Well this one will be different, PAL!

Why? I dunno. Maybe its the fact that The Dead Man is just about due a win in the little feud. Do you know what? After last week's installment (the handicap match), I'm actually looking forward to this match. At least, as forward as I could possibly look to a match featuring (A) The F'ing Undertaker (b) F'ing Bradshaw (c) Orlando F'ing Jordan and (d) a main event that involves placing someone in a car... sorry, an f'ing car!

Still, this could be fun. While I STILL feel that pulling JBL out of the midcard and into the main event was a dumb move, give the big(ot) guy credit: he's done a helluva job making you hate him. And Undertaker -- at least the version that's shown a little ass lately scaring Bradshaw & Co. -- is a fun character, and isn't what watching a so-so PPV is all about? Finding something that you can somewhat enjoy? Well to me it is.

Anyways, I am BOLDLY predicting the following flow of champions leading up to WrestleMania. JBL to Taker, Taker to Angle, Angle to Guerrero. That can't happen without Taker stuffing JBL into a hearse.

The Cubs Fan Says... JBL d. Undertaker.
The Immolator Says... Undertaker d. JBL.
I commend JBL for the work he did once handed the belt. He was put in a tough situation, and I think he delivered admirably. But now would be a good time to get that belt on the top star of the show. Besides, Angle has openly called for a program over the belt between himself and Undie.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... JBL d. Undertaker.
Let's do a little history lesson...No Mercy '02 - Taker in a gimmick match for the championship: loses.  No Mercy '03 - Taker in a gimmick match for the championship: loses.  I say, history once again repeats itself this Sunday.  There's No DQ which is perfect for a chickenshit heel like JBL.  His typical troops seemingly have been taken out by Taker, so it looks like he'll have to look elsewhere for help.  Perhaps now is the time for Heidenreich to make his appearance and begin that feud with the Dead Man that was supposed to happen two months ago.  Regardless, JBL somehow lasts another month with the strap.
Matt Hocking Says... JBL d. Undertaker.
I think it's just time.  It's just time for a new WWE Champion.  It's just time for Undertaker to win the title again.  It's just time for him to solidly beat JBL.  Bradshaw has been shockingly good as the champion, and similarily, Undertaker has been shockingly good as the challenger.

But it won't happen.

There are plenty of interesting things one could do with Taker as the champion, including the much balyhooed Wrestlemania Match with Angle.  However, Mania is a LOooooong way off, probalby too long to run with one champion in today's WWE, and a face going into Mania as the champ really doesn't work.  Besides, the WWE would probably like JBL to last on top until at least until November's elections, where he'd lose to somebody like Eddie to transition the title to Angle.  But I'm getting WAY ahead of myself.  I say a little interference probably by either Team Angle or Heidenreich (depending on which route the WWE wants to take first), leads to Taker getting stuffed in a Hearse.
Jeb Lund Says... JBL d. Undertaker.
I’m sick and tired of JBL, and so are you. Bradshaw’s evolved into a pretty great promo artist, but that heat just does not transfer to the ring. Worse, he’s going up against Undertaker, which is the workrate boredom equivalent of trying to stoke a smoldering fire by dumping a bucket of wet sand on it.

All of this sounds fine and smarky, but the fact is that I can’t see the reason in giving Taker the belt. JBL’s cowardice and fear makes any championship a potential loss for him, thus luring the audience into a false sense of opportunity before his Ministry ghouls run in and stomp all the hope out of your heart while mildly obfuscating the fact that Bradshaw’s matches are innately boring. With Taker, you just know the opponent is going to lose; and without Paul Bearer, you know that no one’s running in to take your mind off the end of a Taker match.

He’s a division killer, par excellence. So, while I’d rather wipe my hands of the JBL World Champ phenomenon, I don’t want my hands stained by an Undertaker World Champ era either. Just have all 17 people in JBL’s cadre interfere and cost the Undertaker the match. (I’ll steal from Dean Rasmussen and say that the man for this job is Duke the Dumpster Droese.) Then bury him again and have him come back to life to win the belt before the Royal Rumble or something. Hell, I don’t know. If my pay-per-view predictions say anything about me, it’s the fact that I don’t know what the fuck is going on either.

PyroFalkon Says...  Undertaker d. JBL.
I guess “King of the Month” lasted only three weeks for me, but whatever. I’ll still Astound And Amaze as I go from first place to last on a PPV for a brand I haven’t watched since I switched from cable to satellite.

I pick the Undertaker to go over JBL. Unless the creative team is really smoking something heavy, I don’t see why the hell they would choose to keep the title on Bradshaw. As Rick says, Bradshaw ain’t the best wrestler, and the WWE Title has become a joke lately with him holding it. Give the title more credibility by giving it to the deadman, I say! Besides, the Taker hasn’t held gold in, what, 20 years? He deserves it again, because, you know, he’s the Taker.

Rocky Swift Says... Undertaker d. JBL.
It’s said that a sumo match determined the fate of Japan 1500 years ago. The god Takemikazuchi defeated Takeminakata, the god of a rival tribe, thereby allowing the Japanese race to dominate and populate the islands that now form their country. The emperor supposedly can trace back his lineage to Takemikazuchi.

That rival tribe was probably the Ainu, who where driven to the northern island of Hokkaido and mostly killed off. I bet the Ainu wish their god had been fatter; perhaps their luck would be very much different today.

Undertaker is fatter. He wins the match.

Big Danny T Says... JBL d. Undertaker.
Undertaker doesn't need the title, and while everyone wants the belt off J"B"L's waist, I don't feel that this is the right time.
Rick Scaia Says... JBL d. Undertaker.
Ugh. So my monthly battle pitting What I Would Do versus What I Think WWE Intends To Do is ON~! bitches... and right out of the gates, my internal dissonance is remarkably strong. Not only because I envision one thing being the right play, but suspect WWE has other plans, but ALSO because MY idea of the "right play" is -- oh, lord, I can't believe I'm about to say this -- keeping the title on JBL.

Bottom line: Taker winning the title does nothing for him, and does little for the title (simply because of the dearth of viable heel challengers.  JBL remaining as champ is about the only thing that keeps him from a tag title run with Orlando Jordan, though it ALSO hurts the title (since as fun a character as Bradshaw is, he just is Instant Death once the bell rings, and you canNOT have that kind of performer working your main events).  In a battle between two unappetizing choices, I'd keep the belt on JBL for now and wait until there's a story and a challenger that's a bit more appropriate than the Undertaker and his randomly-generated contention...  nothing against Taker (I probably like him tons more than you), but think about it: a win for him doesn't MEAN anything, whereas somebody like Eddie finally getting his win back over JBL would be HUGE for him. That's all I mean.

Of course, all that said, a win for Taker might not mean much, but a loss for him in this match WOULD mean a lot, and I'm not sure WWE is willing to go down that route. The story has been told in such a way that all signs point to Taker HAVING to win this one.  He's eliminated all of JBL's cronies; he's been screwed over in their previous match; and now he's got a unique stipulation that is directly tied into his gimmick. Also, after the Bash PPV, SD! might want to end a big show on a non-sucky note, and Taker driving off in the hearse as the new WWE Champ would qualify as a big, happy ending.  And most telling: this time around, JBL has NOT made any "guarantee" about retaining his title, although he has at the last 3 PPVs (and has fullfilled those promises, much to our ire/disbelief).  Every shred of common sense and conventional wisdom points to WWE setting the stage for Taker to go over here.

But I'm a cocky son of a bitch. I apparently don't care if I'm in last place in the PPV Predictions Race, and I'm perfectly content to drag the rest of the trOOps down with me in the battle against WrestleLine.  So I go with What I Would Do over What I'm Actually Thinking WWE Will Do.  Bottom line: there ARE ways to have Taker lose this match but save face (run ins from OJ, the Ministry, maybe even Heidenreich? or actually, maybe a DRIVE IN!  I'm envisioning Taker ALMOST winning the match by loading JBL into the hearse and getting it 90% to its destination, but then OJ or somebody commandeers the Longhorn Limo and -- in a pre-taped stunt that might suck or might come off well -- RAMS THE SHIT out of the hearse, causing Taker to be KO'ed; JBL is rescued from the hearse, and somehow the hearse is pushed, pulled or dragged out of the arena for the official win for JBL). You do something like that, and JBL is SWIMMING in way more appealing title feuds (against Eddie, against Big Show, even against John Cena, any one of whom would be a much better Feel Good Story if they got to be the one to unseat JBL), while Taker can come back and squash whoever did him in with the Vehicular Violence before settling in for the Mania run in a better-constructed fashion.  Don't get me wrong: the sooner we oust JBL and get our PPV main events back to not being destined to suck, I'll be happy. But I'm not ready to mortgage the wisest possible future by rushing the belt over to Taker, either.

So I get my cake and eat it to when I say, "I know Taker probably WILL win, but I'm picking JBL because he's the RIGHT choice."  Whee, look at me, I'm John Kerry!

 

BIG SHOW vs. KURT ANGLE
Interference is Verboten Match

In most respects, this is probably a better fit for a main event match; though you never want to go into a show thinking you need 20+ minutes out of the Big Show, if there's anyone who can pull it out of the big man, it's Kurt. And on top of that, you've got two characters people care about and a storyline that is actually rooted in something other than a random Open Challenge.

Here, the tale goes all the way back to April, when Kurt Angle had taken over the General Manager position on SD!. Although both were heels at the time, Show sprouted a bit of nobility right at the end of his run.  GM Angle and #1 Contender Bradshaw were sort of manipulating the Giant, using him to beat down then-Champ Eddie Guerrero for their own nefarious purposes.  But Show made it clear that he wasn't doing this for them, he was doing it for himself.  And he talked himself into declaring that if he could beat Eddie in a big Thursday night match, he'd quit wrestling.  

So of course, Show did lose the match.  And he seemed to lose his mind a bit, too. He berated Torrie Wilson for her imagined laughter, and when GM Angle stepped in to try to settle Big Show down and get him away from Torrie, Show threw Angle off a balcony.  Per his own promise, Show was gone from SD! after that night, while Kurt returned two weeks later with "career-ending injuries" that kept him in a wheelchair.

Fast-forward about 3 months, and Angle is exposed as a faker, and his injuries are apparently fully heeled.  He is ordered back into active wrestling by Vince McMahon, and is replaced as GM of SD! by Teddy Long.  And one of Teddy's first decisions: to bring back the Big Show.  You can see where this might be headed....

On Show's first night back, he decimated the entire SD! roster as they competed in a battle royale.  On his second night back, Show was given a choice by Teddy Long: he could face either Eddie Guerrero (the man who beat him and sent him into a 4 month "retirement") or Kurt Angle (the man who besmirched Show's good name by faking injuries for 3 months) at the next PPV.  Show chose Kurt Angle.  And the face turn was cemented.

A week ago, Angle upped the ante by KO'ing Show with a dart gun and then shaving Show's head bald. A promo last night indicates that Show isn't falling for the psychological mindgames, and instead is using Angle's attack for motivation, and he intends to KEEP his head shaved to remind him every day of what Kurt did to him (or, in Real World Speak, he was going bald, and much like Kurt -- and like your sexy-ass webmaster -- before him, decided to go with the cueball look instead of sport the male pattern baldness!). What's the shaved Giant look like?  How will he keep up in the ring with Angle? For the answers to these and many other questions, you'll have to tune in to No Mercy on Sunday!
  

The OOutlOOk
Big Show  wins: 7 votes   --|--   Angle  wins: 4 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Big Show d. Kurt Angle.
Simple wrestling logic here: Big Show just came back from an extended absence, so he picks up the win. I made the mistake of going against that last time and picked Eddie to defeat Kurt, and my already-shitty prediction percentage took yet another hit because of it. Show looks fit and motivated, and Kurt can get a good match out of anybody, so I'm actually looking forward to this one. Show could even move on to a title feud with JBL after this.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Big Show d. Kurt Angle.
I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that they've handled the return of Big Show quite well. And the haircut incident a few weeks back appealed to the old-schooler in me, delightfully reminiscent of the Andre the Giant version in 1984, with Angle playing Ken Patera, Luther Reigns playing Big John Studd, Mark Jindrak playing Bobby Heenan, and, uh, Eddie Guerrero as S.D. Jones (ok, the analogy isn't PERFECT or anything. Sue me.)

Anyways, for this return to work well, The Bald Show has to defeat Angle in this initial match.

The Cubs Fan Says... Kurt Angle d. Big Show.
The Immolator Says... Big Show d. Kurt Angle.
I personally see Show winning by DQ after Team Angle Redux gets involved again. We need to keep this feud going a few more weeks, and a clean loss seems like it would damage the plans for either man at this point.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Big Show d. Kurt Angle.
A tough one to call as both men are "teflon" enough that a loss won't hurt them.  If I look back at history, it seems that Kurt always has Show's number.  I don't see why this time would be any different.  However, since nothing happened between the two this past week on SD, Kurt still holds the upper hand on Show thanks to the haircut.  Because of that, and the fact that Kurt's buddies won't be allowed at ringside, I say Show will get his revenge win here.  Plus, this is basically Show's return match (I know he had that tag match, but that ended in a schmozz) so that also seemingly points to his win.
Matt Hocking Says... Big Show d. Kurt Angle.
Somebody call my momma!  Big Show is back, baby.  And the WWE just cannot afford to have him lose his first match back.  Time and time again, he's been sissified by the booking dropping from a huge monster to a huge jobber.

And it happens to him ALL THE TIME.  It's a credit to his skill and his size that he can continue to get over as a monster even after how badly he's been booked in the past.  They're slipping dangerously into that territory right now, but all that can be erased (well, maybe) if he's booked to win decisively over Kurt Angle.  Uh...but I honestly don't think he will.  Say what?  But...but...Matt....  I know, I know, but this is the WWE we're talking about here.  I'm thinking totally schmozy DQ ending with Team Angle to protect everybody involved.

Jeb Lund Says... Kurt Angle d. Big Show.
As much as I think it’s a bad idea to have Big Show lose right in the middle of his furious comeback, I think it’ll happen. I know I’m already picking lots of heels to win (and WWE always seems to try for balance), but it feels right. Angle didn’t want this match, and Big Show has looked strong against him; something about that tells me that the rug is coming out from under Big Show. If anything, I’d say Angle’s little heel faction plays a part and sabotages the Showster’s righteous anger.
PyroFalkon Says...  Kurt Angle d. Big Show.
Hmm… We can’t use the “first match back from absence” argument here because Show’s been back too long. I hate using this argument for my picks due to the WWE’s nature of going against it now and then, but I fear picking Big Show would be a case of Too Many Faces. This holds especially true if the Angle/BS match is going to be the co-feature, with Taker/JBL taking the main event.

What the hell’s my point? That Kurt Angle takes this one. That said, he ain’t gonna take it cleanly. Clean finishes by heels are for feud endings, and there’s no way Big Show and Angle are done already. This will give Angle something brag about for awhile, and it’ll set up an Undertaker win nicely to close out the show on a good note.

Rocky Swift Says... Kurt Angle d. Big Show.
According to legend, a horrible monkey creature terrorized a small village in Shizuoka about 1,000 years ago. The monster regularly wrecked the place, and threatened to totally destroy it unless a tasty virgin was given to him periodically (probably every month or so; it takes a while to digest whole virgins). Anyway, the monkey monster thing made the classic Bond villain mistake and immediately told the villagers how to defeat him. “Whatever you do,” he said, “don’t tell Hayataro about this.”

So of course one of the villagers ran all over Japan trying to find Hayataro. Eventually he happened upon a small town named Komagane, whereupon he was told that Hayataro lived up at the temple at the foot of the mountain. So the dude went up there and asked for Hayataro, and the temple abbot said: “Oh, that’s just my dog.”

So anyway, the guy and the dog returned to Shizuoka, and the next time the big monkey opened his box o’ virgin, old Hayataro jumped out and attacked him. They fought all night, but Hayataro eventually defeated the monster. Eschewing the aid and adulation from the villagers, he ran home immediately to Komagane, where he died of his injuries.

Big Show is more like a big monkey monster and Kurt Angle could more easily fit in a box. Kurt Angle wins, but then immediately travels to Japan where he will die.

Big Danny T Says... Big Show d. Kurt Angle via DQ.
Big Show is just back, and having him kill off the #1 heel right away won't be very good for business. Even with the "Interference will get you fired" stip, look for Kurt to get some underhanded shenanigans in, resulting in his getting DQ'd.
Rick Scaia Says... Big Show d. Kurt Angle.
OK, so everybody (including Angle himself) is saying SD! is wanting to do an Angle/Taker WWE Title feud for WM21... and I'm picking BOTH those two to lose? Yep, because I'm picking MY WAY, and not the SMART WAY!

Way I figure it, if I'm picking JBL to retain, then I need to develop new challengers, too, and who better than Show? Well, Eddie's better than Show, but that's not the point... point is, fresh back from a hiatus, Show's pretty hot, and you want to make the most of that while you can. That means getting some kind of win over Angle, here.  And I'm going with Actual Victory, not just a Moral Victory.

In a counterpoint to the main event, there actually are NOT any options here for the heel to get assistance from his cronies, per a ruling by Teddy Long last night on SD!. Jindrak and Luther are non-factors, so that's the main "face-saving" out they could have had if putting Angle over Show.  Believe me, I'm not endorsing a fully decisive Big Show win or anything, but there's just more options for Heel Face Saving here than the other way around.

So maybe Angle loses the match by pinfall, but then with the match over and restrictions lifted Luther and Jindrak show up and they do a 3-on-1 beatdown on Show to "get their heat back."  Or maybe Angle senses he's about to lose and gets himself DQ'ed (Show wins), but then takes advantage of his nefarious act to beat down Show by himself.  Something along these lines makes sense to me.  Kind of a "Show wins the battle, but Angle wins the war" sort of deal.... 

 

BOOKER T vs. JOHN CENA
Deciding Match in Best of Five US Title Series

The legacy of GM Angle lives on in this match, as well.  One of the major goals of his administration was to oust John Cena from the US Championship. And right towards the end, Angle accomplished his mission when he was able to strip Cena of the belt after Cena had (inadvertently) collided with Angle during a match.  Per a previous ruling, Angle was allowed to take Cena's belt away.

Cena was never beaten for it, a fact not lost on new GM Teddy Long.  Although it was Angle's plan to just HAND the US Title over to Booker T, Long decided to make it a bit more difficult than that, and gave Cena a fair shot at regaining the title he never really lost. But in an eight-way match, Booker managed to steal the victory, pinning Rob Van Dam.  Again, Cena didn't factor into the fall, and Booker's claim to the title is somewhat tainted.

So Teddy Long had another brainstorm: recalling a Best of Seven Series that WCW once held for the TV Title between Booker and Chris Benoit, Teddy made a Best of Five series between Booker and Cena, with the US Title on the line.  Cena got out of the gates fast, winning Match #1 at SummerSlam.  Booker countered by taking the next two (including on during a tour of Australia), but both via shady means. Last week, Cena evened the score at two falls apiece with a win.

Now, it's one last match for all the marbles.  Match-wise, these two haven't really put it together yet, and have spanned a very slender spectrum between "mediocre" and "slightly above average."  The way they've spread five matches out over 2 months also made it harder to do something *I* thought would be cool, which is to have complex finishing sequences that build on the preceding one, and show how Booker and Cena are learning each other's moves.  Instead, wrestling each other once every three weeks is not really that unique and they haven't really built up any of that intra-series psychology that I thought would massively benefit them here.  We'll see, though: hopefully they've been saving some stuff back and will really bring it in the finale.
  

The OOutlOOk
Booker wins: 10 votes   --|--  Cena wins: 1 vote

Erin Anderson Says... Booker T d. John Cena.
I could honestly see this going either way, but I'll go with Booker to get the win for one reason: JBL will need new people to feud with, and Cena fits the bill. But he won't if he already has gold around his waist, so Booker comes away with the U.S. Title.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Booker T. d. John Cena.
This is going to be the closest contest, prediction-wise, I'm guessing. On one hand, Cena SHOULD be the winner, as per the International Law of Babyfaces Feuding With Guys Who Aren't Triple H (c 2002). Still, that conflicts with The Rick-approved Theory of Too Many Babyfaces Winning In The Top Matches (c Forever). Judges, can we get a ruling?

So why am I going with The Book? I think Cena will eventually jump to Raw, in time for a WrestleMania main event with HHH. So why not leave Booker, who is finally making a niche for himself as a upper midcard heel, as champion?

And no, "because the writers hate me" is not an acceptable answer.

The Cubs Fan Says... Booker T d. John Cena.
The Immolator Says... Booker T d. John Cena.
I'm waffling on this one more than the others. Cena would be the natural choice, but he's supposedly off to film a movie, and the top belt is going to be held by a face, so there are reasons for the Bookerman to retain. I see someone out of the blue Pillmanizing Cena to set up their feud after Cena takes a break.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Booker T d. John Cena.
Let me preface my prediction by saying I've been greatly underwhelmed by this whole string of matches.  This was a real good chance for the two of them to go out into the spotlight and give the fans something memorable.  Instead, they've given us 4 matches that were basically carbon copies of one another.  They haven't built upon each match, nor have they produced any memorable moments.  Sadly, I don't have a lot of hope that they'll do anything special here.  Should be more of the same, which isn't bad, but isn't really that great either.  Since Cena's going to be doing his movie, it makes sense that Booker gets the win and keeps defending the title week in and week out.
Matt Hocking Says... Booker T d. John Cena.
It would seem like a waste if John Cena didn't come out of this with the title.  Even though he's been spotty over the last few months, he's still the most over man on Smackdown.  Unfortuately, we all know by now that he's going to be missing for a little stretch in here.  As such, Booker is going to win this match, and probably in some fashion that Cena is believably put out of action.  I was trying to think of someone who could believably be involved on the side of Booker, but I've got nothing at the current time, and if any hints were dropped on Smackdown, I wouldn't know because all I got was two guys talking about nothing at all for 90 minutes.  So I'll just assume Booker does it all solo.
Jeb Lund Says... John Cena d. Booker T.
If there were any justice in this world, both of these men would be forced to lose this match and spend 30 days sleeping in a hole until they stopped slouching around the ring and mouthing tired stump speeches into a microphone. John Cena isn’t badass anymore: he has a cutesy-poo moveset that hasn’t changed in a year, except to add more ridiculous goofball spots that are tolerable when seen on TV, and so irritating that they drive you batshit insane when playing against his character in a WWE video game. Add to that his raps, which went from edgy and quasi-shoot to catchphrase-laden naughty nursery rhymes, and you have a recipe for making a man into more of a cartoon than the cartoon rendering of him in the aforementioned annoying video game.

And there’s Booker T, who gets booked like he fucked the moms of every member of the writing staff, and who’s decided that lackadaisically ho-humming his way through spots is a way to get people pumped up for a gimmicked set of best-of-five matches. If Booker were trying any less, he’d be Jeff Hardy.

Fuck these two, and fuck anyone who cares. Since I have to hazard a guess, I’m saying that Cena wins, since it’s such a heartwarming and life-affirming story to see the foul-mouthed slacker “good guy” jackoff with a repertoire of insults so tired that it would get his ass kicked on a seventh-grade playground for being so scum-suckingly unoriginal finally prevail against the guy who looks like he’d blow a “please wait here, in the lobby, for a few minutes while we get your room ready, Sir” spot.

PyroFalkon Says...  Booker T d. John Cena.
Cena’s off to film a movie, right? No reason to give the title to someone who’s going to be inactive. Booker T will win eventually… I word it like that because I fear something really dumb will happen such as Cena winning and then the ref’s decision will be reversed, thereby making my pick null, or something.

I’m not sure if Cena’s going to be written off here, or that will wait until later. Cena can’t win now, because if he does, he’ll just have to be written out pretty soon, and the title will have to change hands then. With as long as they’ve dragged out this whole Best of Five thing (something I have to admit I’m not a fan of), it would be storyline suicide to have the belt change hands again within MONTHS of this feud ending. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cena and Booker pick up their feud again once Cena gets back, but until then, Bookie’s got it.

Rocky Swift Says... Booker T d. John Cena.
Prior to the Tokugawa shogunate, Japan was rife with civil war waged between rival samurai clans. Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen were two notable rivals who fought numerous battles over control of northern Nagano. In 1561, they had their fourth and most famous clash. Takeda and 20,000 soldiers rolled into Kawanakajima and attacked Uesugi and his army of 13,000. It was a ruinous battle, leaving about 6,000 dead and no clear winner, but it’s said that Takeda and Uesugi met face to face on the battlefield. Uesugi on horseback surprised a swordless Takeda, who had nothing to defend himself but an iron battle fan. Uesugi hacked away with his sword until Takeda’s attendants drove him off. Amazingly, Takeda survived the attack. He was wounded in three places, but his battle fan showed seven cuts from Uesugi’s sword. Though Takeda was a merciless conqueror, the incident is considered something of a battlefield miracle.

Booker T has more experience with these multiple match-ups, and like Takeda, he’ll benefit from some mystical event, giving him the victory. Cena will survive, only to be killed by a ninja in 1578.

Big Danny T Says... Booker T d. John Cena.
One of these guys is about to go make a movie. One isn't. You can take over the algebraic equation from here. I know I predicted for Cena to take the title last month, but hey, a recapper can change his mind, can't he?
Rick Scaia Says... Booker T d. John Cena.
Cena's gonna continue to be an irregular on SD! (notice how he's only actually been IN THE ARENA twice in the last 3 weeks?) with his movie schedule.  And even LESS of a regular on the road.  And you need the US Champ keeping a full schedule.  Even if only for THIS reason, Booker should go over here.

But it's also just the smarter play, all around.  Cena's ALWAYS gonna have his "I was never beaten for this title" claim cuz of how Angle stripped him.  He's also as close as SD!'s got to a Chris Jericho (able to make fans forget about his losses just by cutting a quick promo and redirected them to his next order of business), so Cena's a guy who could lose in a US Title feud, and then end up in the WWE Title picture pretty quickly.  I'd love to see Booker come out of this and get and extended program with RVD, too; another good reason to keep the title on him (since he's got a ready made next challenger).

My main hope: that this match is better than we've seen out of these two so far in the series.  The SD! match two weeks ago was their strongest one yet, but it still wasn't much more than a bit above average. 

 

EDDIE GUERRERO vs. LUTHER REIGNS

Three months ago at the Bash, Eddie was the WWE Champ and one of the few brightspots on a beleaguered SD! roster. Then he lost the title, was quickly dispatched by JBL in a rematch, moved on to a feud against the returning Kurt Angle, which he also ended up dropping, and has now moved down the foodchain to Angle's henchman, Luther Reigns.

It's a pretty simple story: Eddie and Angle had a rivalry for a few months, and at every turn, it was Luther who'd stick his nose in and make sure Eddie came up short. Although Eddie has certainly not seemed like he's finished with Kurt, the fact is that Angle's got bigger (gigantic, really) fish to fry...  so Eddie's having to settle for Luther.

Since the two were put on a collision course, it's been mostly Luther who has scored the moral victories (including just tonight with a win over Eddie in a tag match).  Luther also stands to benefit from the interference of Mark Jindrak, who has ALSO joined Angle's stable. It'll be an uphill battle for Eddie, who could really use a big win to keep himself at least on the fringes of the main event picture.

Matchwise? Well, Luther has shown signs of being an exceptionally competent big man, be it due to the caliber of his opponents, or just cuz he's that sound.  In a lot of ways, I think you can consider him kind of the "Batista of SmackDown!" if that makes sense: the big man who might be a bit one-dimensional, but who somehow seems to make it work for him.  Actually, the chemistry should be ideal, since Eddie oughta be able to make Luther look like a million bucks, and should also really fire the crowd up when it comes time for his comeback.
  

The OOutlOOk
Eddie wins: 7 votes   --|--   Luther wins: 4 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Luther Reigns d. Eddie Guerrero.
I hate to predict Eddie losing yet again, but it makes sense here. You want to make Luther a legitimate singles star? Give him a big win over an established wrestler. If WWE keeps treating Eddie like this, though, he won't have much heat to get another wrestler over. Man needs a big victory, pronto. But it won't happen on Sunday. The match will either suck or be surprisingly watchable, and probably nowhere in between.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Eddie Guerrero d. Luther Reigns.
....at least he'd better. "And that's all I've got tah say about that!"
The Cubs Fan Says... Eddie Guerrero d. Luther Reigns.
The Immolator Says... Eddie Guerrero d. Luther Reigns.
Luther has looked pretty good for someone you'd figure would be a total stiff based on the Fed's track record of big guys. But this still looks like a SD!-level match on paper. I'd be tempted to book this as the opener - get the crowd into things right away with Eddie. But I don't think he'd be very keen.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Luther Reigns d. Eddie Guerrero.
This is my dark horse pick.  I've got no real reason to pick Luther, I just have this feeling that they are going to try and make Luther legit by having him get a win.  I wouldn't be too surprised if Jindrak made his way down to ringside and made himself useful.  I'm worried that this isn't going to be very good either.  Eddie seems to be in a real funk lately and if he's not totally into this match, the result could be ugly.  I mean, Eddie in top form is only going to carry Luther so far.  Anything below that and we may be in store for a forgettable/not so good match.
Matt Hocking Says... Luther Reigns d. Eddie Guerrero.
This is a really fun situation.  Of course Eddie SHOULD go over.  There's no reason he wouldn't.  Eddie is reportedly currently put out with management because he feels Kurt's bogarted his push, and not only that, but the guy he's facing is Kurt's storyline lackey and reportedly the guy who Kurt has hand picked to be his stupid, ugly, and not nearly as talented replacement.

That's two too many reportedlies.  But then again, who cares?  The story of the match is the continued beating of Eddie by Kurt and his minions.  And I think this is just another part to that story, not the ending.  Luther wins, Eddie is sad.
Jeb Lund Says... Eddie Guerrero d. Luther Reigns.
Eddie can’t afford to job many more times on pay-per-view, and there is no reasonable way in which he should lose to Luther Reigns. After he defeats Luther, he can work in the main-event again, or fiddle around with Angle’s Cluster of Failure, or whatever they’re calling his stable of the forgotten and never-was.
PyroFalkon Says...  Eddie Guerrero d. Luther Reigns.
I gotta be honest: I couldn’t care less about this match. I see Eddie doing pretty well, then Luther and/or Kurt Angle going nuts and beating the hell out of him with [insert weapon here] attacks and chairshots. The ref sees it and gives a DQ win to Eddie. Whoopie.
Rocky Swift Says... Luther Regins d. Eddie Guerrero.
Kodama Yoshio was arrested as a war criminal following the end of World War II, and in prison, he rubbed shoulders with past and future leaders of the country. Upon release, he quickly ascended to the top of the yakuza crime syndicate, which he thoroughly modernized and strengthened through his political connection. In the 1970s, Kodama grew very rich by manipulating his connections in politics and business. But in the mid-1970s, news broke that he’d taken a $2.1 million payoff from the Lockheed Corporation in exchange for assistance in getting government contracts. The ensuing investigation brought down the prime minister Tanaka Kakuei and many of his advisors.

Where this story takes its strangest turn is that many of Kodama’s admirers –of whom many were fanatic nationalists— were shocked (shocked!) that he could have had a hand in these scandalous dealings. In a fit of patriotic rage, a young porno actor named Maeno Mitsuyasu commandeered a plane and crashed it into Kodama’s home in Setagaya. Maeno died, but Kodama survived.

Guerrero is a self-destructive lunatic like Maeno, so he will lose. I don’t know anything about Reigns.

Big Danny T Says... Eddie Guerrero d. Luther Reigns.
Look for this one to be surprisingly good, as Eddie pulls Luthers best match yet out of him. Interferance from Mark will give us a few close calls, but it'll be all for naught as Eddie's shenanigans give him the duke.
Rick Scaia Says... Eddie Guerrero d. Luther Reigns.
This is the toughest match on the entire card for me to pick. Although every fiber of my being says this has GOT to be a win for Eddie, I also look at the big picture and see a million ways he could lose.  For one, I'm already picking Angle to lose, and his stable needs SOME kind of win on the night, right?  And for two: Mark Jindrak will NOT be barred from ringside in this match, and Eddie has no comparable back-up. It's a two-on-one deal, essentially, and Eddie could lose and still save plenty of face.  It'd be really easy for me to envision Eddie losing yet ANOTHER major match.

But I'm not gonna. Why change my decision hueristic now? We're predicting this show the way *I* think it should happen, and I think Eddie should win.  [Sorry Eddie, I didn't MEAN this to be your Kiss of Death!] You could make it really easy with Jindrak's interference causing a DQ win for Eddie.  Or you could make it a bit more complicated and have Eddie overcome that interference for one of his patented Cheat 2 Win finishes.  Either way doesn't really hurt Team Angle, since they'll either finish the match by beating on Eddie, or will be able to whine and complain about Eddie's cheap win.  I think an ending like this combined with one of the options I talked about for Show beating Kurt, and Team Angle will still be very strong, and you might even come out of the show with a tenuous Show/Eddie partnership that might make for some interesting TV.... 

 

PAUL LONDON vs. BILLY KIDMAN
No Walking Out Allowed Match

About 5 weeks ago, London and Kidman were the tag champs, and successfully defended their titles against the team of Chavo Guerrero and Jamie Noble. In that match, Kidman pinned Chavo, but also did more damage than he'd intended: in delivering the Shooting Star Press, Kidman landed his knee in Chavo's face, causing a (real life) concussion.

Immediately, they turned this into a storyline, as Kidman started displaying hesitation when it came time to deliver the SSP. Two weeks after the Chavo Incident, Kidman pussed out on hitting the SSP in a match against the seemingly mis-matched duo of Kenzo Suzuki and Rene Dupree (wrestling in their first match as a tag team, I believe).  Because of Kidman's backing down and walking out on the match, London was quickly over-powered, and the tag titles were lost.  

London was none-too-pleased with Kidman's lack of fighting spirit, but originally tried to stand by his friend and partner and tried to motivate him into getting his fire back. But Kidman was a lost cause, and when there was finally nothing left to do but wrestle, Kidman just walked out on the match instead of fighting.  This PPV rematch was ordered by Teddy Long, with the stipulation that Kidman had better come to wrestle and NOT to walk out or else his job will be taken away.

Apparently motivated by that, Kidman finally DID bust out of his shell tonight on SD!, and after appearing to SAVE London from a chairshot attack by Booker T, Kidman himself walloped London with the chair, saying that he's had enough of London's pep talks and that London doesn't understand what he's going through.

I've actually been a huge fan of how this has all played out, and fans seem to be biting on it, too.  London, although the aggressor, has been really eye-opening in promos and whatnot, and has got the fans on his wide; Kidman as the wussy quitter has been generating boos.  And if both guys bring the A-game on Sunday, the match itself should blow away the story.  Definite show-stealer potential in this one, folks.
  

The OOutlOOk
London wins: 6 votes   --|--   Kidman wins: 5 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Paul London d. Billy Kidman.
This match should be a helluva lot of fun, and a great showcase for Paul London. I hope he gets a chance to show the fans how a Shooting Star Press is really done. I don't much care who wins this as long as the guys get at least 12 minutes… preferably 20. I pick London only because I'm going a little heavy on the heel side of my predictions.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Billy Kidman d. Paul London.
According to the International Law of Broken-Up Tag Team Partners Who Fight Each Other on PPV (also known as the Strike Force Precedent), Kidman wins. Simple as that. London, as talented as he is, should prepare to join the ranks of Tito Santana, Marty Janetty, Rick Steiner and about a zillion others and Kidman, with any luck, will finally get the proper career push he's been waiting for for years.
The Cubs Fan Says... Paul London d. Billy Kidman.
The Immolator Says... Paul London d. Billy Kidman.
This is your opener. I see London winning with the Shooting Star Press - then Kidman punking him out post-match. But I can easily overthink this and tell myself Kidman legitimately doesn't want to do the SSP anymore - he always seemed to land it a bit off-kilter (the ones he used to do off the apron were crisper). But then that would lead me to think he wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of one either, unless he really trusts London. Hmmm...
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Billy Kidman d. Paul London.
Really don't know who to pick in this one.  On one hand, the storyline has been somewhat intriquing and not just completely thrown together at the last minute.  On the other hand, the way this storyline has fleshed out, it hasn't lended itself to dictating who should win this match or where it will go next.  I'm going to go with Kidman getting the win and I can see the match being laid out like this:  Kidman is very hesitant at first to do any sort of fighting.  Finally, something spurs him to start fighting back.  Match ends with Kidman actually hits the Shooting Star Press which further injures London's nose.  But here's the catch...this time Kidman doesn't care that he's caused an injury with the move.  OHHHH!
Matt Hocking Says... Billy Kidman d. Paul London.
Both guys CAN hit the Shooting Star Press, but one can't do it without knocking his opponent the hell out.  That's pretty much how this one goes.  They have a decent back and forth Cruiser's match and Billy keeps pulling out.  Torrie HEARS that.  Paul continually tries to goad him into putting all his effort into trying to win the match, until Billy makes a violent comeback and knocks Paul London the hell out.  And he kinda likes it.  Get ready for "The Massochist Billy Kidman".
Jeb Lund Says... Paul London d. Billy Kidman.
If there’s any justice in this world, London kicks Kidman’s gassed-up needle-marked ass all over the ring and proves once and for all what we already knew:

1. That Kidman’s an annoying pussy

2. That Kidman refusing to perform the shooting star press automatically reduces the chances of his killing himself in the ring by about 40%.

London’s managed to take an almost go-nowhere tiff between two under-promoted wrestlers and make it interesting. All Kidman has to do is show up, sell, not fuck anything up and lose, and this match will be a pleasure to watch. Of course, given those very basic requirements for making this match and potentially continuing feud interesting, WWE will swerve us all and have Kidman soundly beat London with two shooting star presses. Because that’s entertainment!

PyroFalkon Says...  Paul London d. Billy Kidman.
Now THIS is a match I’m interested in, and I seriously have to thank Kidman’s promo on the last Byte This! for it. That said, I tend to believe that usually whoever cuts the better promo will lose (kinda the words versus physical power thing), so I think London will take this one. And that will be cool, but even it goes the other way, it will STILL be cool, because I like both these guys, and I’m digging the storyline.
Rocky Swift Says... Billy Kidman d. Paul London.
Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes served together in the Vietnam conflict and became close friends. After the war, Storm Shadow returned to Japan to train under his uncles’ tutelage at the Arashinage ninja clan. He invited Snake Eyes to join him, and shortly the latter became a favorite of one the uncles, known as the Hard Master. Jealousy grew in Storm Shadow’s heart, and then one fateful day, the Hard Master was found dead with one of Snake Eyes’s arrows in his chest.

Consumed with rage, Storm Shadow joined the evil forces of Cobra, while Snake Eyes joined the righteous ranks of G.I. Joe. They fought numerous times on the battlefield until the true murderer was discovered…Zartan!

Kidman is Storm Shadow, and he wins because he comes with two swords and some nunchucks, while stinkin’ London comes with a stupid dog (but his uzi is cool).

Big Danny T Says... Billy Kidman d. Paul London.
Here's your show stealer of the night, folks. If they let Paul loose and Billy can keep up (wow, never thought I'd say THAT!) this'll be a match for Paul's DVD when it comes out in 5 years. Unfortunately, the feud is jsut starting, so we can't have Paul going over quite yet.
Rick Scaia Says... Paul London d. Billy Kidman.
This one's not easy, either. But I think I've puzzled it out. The problem is that I'm so digging the feud because of the shades of gray and ambiguity. Is Kidman SO bad because he felt guilty about taking food out of Chavo's family's mouths? Is London really THAT big a hero for thinking selfishly of his own title aspirations and not about Chavo's injury and Kidman's guilt?

The answers to both questions, of course, are "Yes." But that's not the point. The point is that these are two guys who seem to be reacting to a tough situation in relatively believable ways, and as such, any number of believable options remain open to them. Might Kidman finally come around and realize London is a good guy who just wants his old friend back?  Possibly.  Or might Kidman's chairshot have cemented him as Going Heel No Matter What?  Possibly.  I don't know.  But I'm gonna love finding out.

To keep the ambiguity rolling till the last possible moment, I'm kinda thinking of a finish in which -- after a sweet 15 minute match -- Kidman has a CHANCE to win with the Shooting Star Press, but opts not to.  It's enough for London to recover, and when Kidman gets back on the mat, London eventually beats him (possibly with an SSP of his own?). After the match, we get Broad Gesturing to indicate that London considers the rivalry done and just wants to be friends again.  Kidman's gesturing indicates he's sold: he just got outwrestled, and maybe he DOES need to find his old fire.  The two partners hug and make-up... but then Kidman attacks and goes all Shawn Michaels to London's Marty Jannetty.  I think you give London the win because of a "Crisis of Conscience" by Kidman, but then you give Kidman the last laugh with a full-on Heel Turn Of No Return.

Do I get Bonus Points if I predict that at some point (possibly not at the PPV, but not too far away), Chavo Guerrero will return and he and Kidman will be allies, further stacking the deck against London?  No?  Well, there, I predicted it anyway. 

 

RENE DUPREE/KENZO SUZUKI vs. ROB VAN DAM/REY MYSTERIO
For the WWE Tag Team Titles

Up until a month ago, Dupree and Suzuki hadn't even teamed together once, as far as I remember.  Although, I *do* vividly remember advocating that they form a team about TWO months ago, because I'm ever so smart!  And also because I just KNEW that it'd be gold to see Suzuki attempting the French Tickler!  I love being right!

Van Dam and Rey HAVE teamed together a bit, including for a little mini-feud against the Dudley Boyz back in (ummmm, I'm making this up, I could be off by as many as 2 months) May.  It's not a full-time pairing, but we've established that when one of the two needs somebody to have his back, the other is there for him!  RVD and Rey Rey, Best Friends Forever!

And that's kind of how this came to pass: Van Dam had simmering issues with both Dupree and Suzuki over the summer, relating to when all three were involved in the US Title picture to varying degrees.  Dupree and Suzuki were both foes for John Cena, and then when Teddy Long opened the gates for EIGHT men to be involved in a match for the US Title, Van Dam was one of the additional babyfaces tapped for duty.  Out of that, we cemented RVD's issues with both of the foreign menaces.  Then, when Dupree and Suzuki formalized their partnership (and won the tag titles in their first ever match together), it made it easy for Van Dam to consolidate his efforts.  A quick call to his sometimes-partner, Rey Mysterio, and we had ourselves a little feud.

This match was DIRECTLY caused by Dupree and Suzuki attacking Rey during a Cruiserweight Title match (after Rey had punked out Suzuki backstage). They cost Rey the match, but Teddy Long was paying attention, and when he saw RVD make the save, he had a dream: a dream of possible revenge for both RVD and Rey when they took a shot at Suzuki and Dupree's tag titles at No Mercy.

Could be good stuff here. Out of necessity, both Dupree and Suzuki were kind of over-pushed during the summer, but the result is that NOW they kind of have the stink of legitimacy to them; they're "established" enough (even if only with 4 weeks together as partners) that fans will respond to them and take them seriously.  And obviously, all they have to do is the standard heel cutting-the-ring-in-half thing for a bit, and then hot tags and high octane offense from two firecrackers like RVD and Rey should really get the fans rocking and rolling.  Nothing fancy, but these are four guys who can probably kick a reasonable amount of ass just sticking to the standard tag team formula; they're custom made for it.
  

The OOutlOOk
Suzuki/Dupree win: 9 votes 
RVD/Rey win: 2 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Suzuki/Dupree d. RVD/Rey.
Didn't Kenzo and Dupree just win the tag titles? It doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense to take the belts off them this quickly. See if they work as a tag team, and let Rey and RVD chase for a while, since they don't have much to do right now. This match should be decent but short, and will probably make a nice opener.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Suzuki/Dupree d. RVD/Rey.
My brother, who's almost as avid a wrestling fan as I am, had been away from watching SmackDown for a few weeks (and, aside from a certain wrestling column, he steers clear of wrestling coverage on the Net). When I asked him to guess who the new tag team champions on SmackDown were, he gave several (intelligent) guesses and of course, none of them came anywhere close to Dupree and Suzuki. This sentiment echoes that of wrestling fans everywhere: Huh?

Would RVD and Rey Rey make for better tag team champions than the current choices? Sure. But so would Rico and Haas, The Basham Brothers, The Dudley Boyz, The Killer Bees, Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch (and yeah, I realize where they both are right now) and about a thousand other teams.

The key is... WWE, especially SmackDown, but really both brands, need an infusion of tag teams for their so-called tag team division to work. Four years ago, there were like eighty-five active teams. Is it so hard to ask for two to compete for the belts? Sheesh!

Anyways, Kenzo and Rene go over. Why? Because (say it with me)... the writers hate me.

The Cubs Fan Says... Suzuki/Dupree d. RVD/Rey.
The Immolator Says... Suzuki/Dupree d. RVD/Rey.
We just gave the Franco-Japan Connection the belts, so no duke for Rey Rey and RVD. I think this time the match goes second on the card so the crowd isn't killed by the bad guys winning like in Toronto.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... RVD/Rey d. Suzuki/Dupree.
Yes, the heels just recently won the straps, but they haven't set the world on fire as a team so there isn't a pressing need to have them remain as champs.  But you say that RVD and Rey are above the tag titles and don't deserve them because they are hardly a team.  I would agree, but I'm trying to look long term (probably not a good idea since WWE isn't even looking long-term) and it seems to me that there are more heel tag teams on Smackdown and having one of them beat two over guys like RVD and Rey would go a long  way.  Plus, this is most likely your opener and I'm always a proponent of having the faces go over in your opener.
Matt Hocking Says... Suzuki/Dupree d. RVD/Rey.
Wow...this is a match, huh?  I don't see any reason for RVD and Rey to win the tag titles.  Especially not after the WWE went from a semi-interesting tag feud (Chavo/Jamie v. Kidman/London) to The Roulette Tag Wheel O' Fun in less than a month.  Dupree and Suzuki have enough sass and prospect to be a good tag team for a few months yet, before they go back to pushing Dupree at U.S. title level.  For that reason alone, I think Kenzo and Rene get the win by cheating while RVD and Rey put on a good show, but come up short in the end.
Jeb Lund Says... Suzuki/Dupree d. RVD/Rey.
There is no reason for Van Dam and Mysterio to hold the belts. Suzuki and Dupree are delightful irritants. Let them continue to be humanly awful. Van Dam can go flip around at someone else, and WWE can pretend to make Mysterio a contender for a bigger belt for a while. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us 14 times: you write for the WWE, don’t you?
PyroFalkon Says...  Suzuki/Dupree d. RVD/Rey.
Like the whole US Title issue, I don’t see what good it would do to have any title change hands too many times too quickly. I see Kenzo Suzuki and Rene Dupree walking out of there with the titles. Now, something tells me that they’ll probably retain them because of getting DQed or counted out or something. However, my mystical troll doll is telling me that the Eddie/Reigns match will end via DQ, and because I don’t think the WWE would have the plums to end TWO PPV matches with a DQ, I guess Suzuki or Dupree will make a pin. They’ll probably use the ropes for leverage or something, because they’re rotten foreigners unlike RVD and Mysterio.

…What? Mysterio’s not from the States? When did that happen?

Well anyway, RVD and Mysterio won’t win. There, I said it.

Rocky Swift Says... RVD/Rey d. Suzuki/Dupree.
Saigo Takamori was one of the three samurai who were instrumental in defeating the Tokugawa shogunate and reinstalling the emperor Meiji to power. The second was master diplomat Kido Koin, and the third was Okubo Toshimichi, the canniest planner of the bunch.

The Meiji Restoration reforms reached far and wide, and generally improved the living conditions of the peasant classes. But the new system called for stripping the samurai class of all privilege and wealth, and the conservative-minded Saigo could not abide that. He hated the growing westernization of the country. Also, he wanted to go take over Korea, but the new government wouldn’t hear of it (yet).

So Saigo split from his buddies in the revolution and raised an army comprised mainly of his Satsuma clan members. Saigo staged an uprising in 1877, but his forces were quickly cut down by the Imperial armies, drawn mainly from the peasant classes and armed with modern weaponry.

His forces crushed, Saigo accepted his failure and committed ritual suicide on the battlefield. Even though he defied the emperor and the new government, Saigo was posthumously pardoned, and he remains a beloved historical figure in Japan.

Suzuki is the West-hating Saigo and Dupree is his little helper monkey. They win the hearts and minds of the fans, but it is not enough to overcome the combined work ethic of a stoner and a Mexican.

Big Danny T Says... Suzuki/Dupree d. RVD/Rey.
Kenzo and Rene have just formed, and they need to get established. Holding the tag titles will help them immensely in that direction. This will be fun, tho.
Rick Scaia Says... Suzuki/Dupree d. RVD/Rey.
Both are make-shift-y teams, but as I noted above, I'm a fan of Suzuki and Dupree jelling together and overcoming that stigma.  The Double French Tickler (triple if they get Hiroko in on it) alone is worth another 2 months of keeping the titles on them.

Meantime, RVD and Rey interest me more when they are on their own.  I see RVD having a major shot at a US Title feud, while Rey certainly has unfinished business with Spike Dudley. If RVD and Rey want to keep being sometimes-partners, well, that's cool, too (especially since I'm still attached to the idea of RVD and Rey teaming up against the Dudleys in a Tables Match at some point).  Absolutely no reason, either in my mind or in "WWE think," for a title change here.  Just about the easiest call of the entire card: give Hiroko the assist here if you must, but the champs WILL retain.

 

EXTRAS/CLOSING THOUGHTS

Of course there will be more to Sunday's No Mercy than just six matches.  There will be probably an extra PPV match (plus one more on Heat), there will be promos and skits and angles, there may even be Alleged Poetry!  Here, the trOOps offer up their thoughts on the PPV Bonus Material, and also offer you a few overall/concluding notes...
  

The OOutlOOk

Erin Anderson Says... Maybe It Beats Eye-Socket-Raping, But I Still Don't Want to Be Reminded About It.
Miss Jackie and Dawn Marie will have a catfight of some sort. Heidenreich will read some shitty poetry about butt-raping Michael Cole. And I now need to do a few shots to erase that oh-so-pleasant mental image.
Canadian Bulldog Says... I'm Begging for SOME Kind of a Surprise.
Spike Dudley will beat Nunzio. I'm really digging the new Spike Dudley persona. What would be IDEAL is if they could add a third member to the FBI (I'm thinking they could rescue Chuck Palumbo from Sunday Night Heat Hell) and turn this into a six-man feud. But I certainly expect Mama Dudley'z baby boyz (Or, I guess various different Mama Dudleyz) to interfere on behalf of Spike. 

I would be SHOCKED beyond belief if HEIDENREICH wasn't lurking backstage somewhere, ready to assault his latest non-wrestler victim. Perhaps it's Teddy Long's turn to "b'lee dat?"

YOUR Sunday Night Velocity match will be Shannon Moore vs. Scotty Too Hotty: The match you thought you'd never see!!!

Backstage - Dawn Marie. Jackie. Bleah.

While it hasn't really happened on any of the brand-specific PPV's, I'm pleading with the Powers That Be (and no, I don't mean Russo and Ferrera) to shake things up by giving us at least One Big Surprise. Have a Raw guy show up, cart The Rock in for a brief appearance, tease an upcoming feud. Anything. In other words, give us a reason to watch the SD or Raw only events that would otherwise not be worth my money. I'll give credit where it's due: on paper, this is the best SD-only PPV since No Way Out. On the other hand, that's not saying much given the shit they've fed to us.

The Cubs Fan Says... Spike Dudley d. Nunzio.
The Immolator Says... Snitsky?
Spike will be Nunzio. God bless Nunzio. He's one of the people that gives me hope that Yours Truly can make it. But he loses here.

And also:

SNITSKY~!

This has nothing to do with No Mercy. I just wanted to take the opportunity to say it while he's still alive. SNITSKY~! Hold on, I feel a haiku coming on...

It wasn't his fault
But now he's gonna DIIIII-yeeeee
SNITSKY~!, R.I.P.

Thank you.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... What Rhymes With "Holla"?
Spike will beat Nunzio.  This was just added so it may be in extras or it may have it's own spot.  Anyway, Nunzio got a nice win this past week, but let's be realistic, he isnt' going over this Sunday.  Spike has just been too money lately being "The Boss" and if "The Boss" is going to dropped down a few pegs, it's going to be part of a feud that doesn't develop via WWE.com.  If they wanted to provide something memorable though, maybe have one of Nunzio's "boys" show up to help him since they will be in Jersey.  I say it's high time we got to see Joey Numbers.
 
Given the events on Smackdown this past week, I say they'll have a "Charlie Hass on a pole" match between Jackie and Dawn.  Frankly, I'm just surprised that they didn't just have Dawn face Torrie for the 1,045,260th time.  That would have been fresh!
 
Also, I think Teddy Long will be the new recipient of a Heidenreich poem.  Knowing his creative mind, he'll most likely find a new word to rhyme "holla" with.
Matt Hocking Says... You Have the Ball, Not RUN WITH IT, Fer Chrissakes~!
- Theodore Long is given 25 minutes of air time to ramble about...something?

- The Divas have a sanctioned catfight to give the impression that they're still being used.

- An extra, Heat match is added in which Spike Dudley defeats Nunzio to retain the Cruiserweight title.  The Dudleyz and FBI continue to...kinda feud.

Smackdown is on the road to...somewhere...and this show will go a long way to determining where it goes.  It's definately improved from a few months ago, but it's still kind of in a limbo between pretty good and pretty bad. That's why I think this show shouldn't be the ending point, but the starting point.  Not for these feuds (or non-feuds) but for the characters. Undertaker, Kidman, Angle, Show, Luther, Booker...all these guys have a chance, if they step it up in their respective matches, to make a statement about the future of this brand, and that statement is, "We don't suck.  Really."  Should you have to pay to see guys try to salvage themselves? Sure.  If even half the people on this PPV make the most of their opportunities, it's going to be a hell of a show.  If they don't, it's going to suck.  But isn't the randomness involved part of the fun of pro-wrestling?  Enjoy the show.
Jeb Lund Says... DOUBLE BONUS~!
Nunzio defeats Spike Dudley
Token face-wins match, thrown in to balance out all the other unpleasantness. The Dudley Boys fail to support Spike in an adequate matter. Internecine squabbling and blame threatens to tear apart the Dudley Boys! Will Spike Dudley turn into Darth Vader? Whatever!

Michael Cole v. Electric Sodomy v. John Heidenreich in a Three-Way “Stunt Rider Stretch” Submission Match
Winner is the first person to make someone “submit” after repeated stunt-rider stretches. Cole cannot lose this match, because he considers himself a winner no matter what happens.

PyroFalkon Says...  I'm Doing This WITHOUT Access to Dayton's Home For UPN, MVC Cable 17. (Not that I'm making excuses already!)
If I had UPN, I’d get a better percentage than I know I’m going to get. Maybe it was beginner’s luck after all. Sorry in advance, team.

Let’s see, other stuff… Aside from hearing the words “Holla holla holla” and “Heidenreich Heidenreich Heidenreich” a million times, I don’t think anything REALLY exceptional will happen. SmackDown! isn’t exactly doing earth-shattering Million Dollar Tough Enough shit yet. A pointless Dawn Marie / Jackie fight may start up to supplement the pointless Sable / Torrie Wilson match from last time.

Oh, and I know it doesn’t count or anything, but if Dawn Marie and Jackie were to have an official match or something, I give it to Dawn Marie. I don’t find either of them nearly as sexy as anyone on the RAW roster (Jazz excepted), but DM irritates me less. And I like brunettes.

And as for me? Unless I’m REALLY bored, I’ll be at home working on other (paid) writing assignments and Not Watching No Mercy. I mean, sure, Rick owes me 6/1000ths of a penny right now, but I’m trying to get some form of cash BEFORE I turn 35. And considering I just turned 22 on September 22nd, you can see why I’m worried.

Wow, I turned this Extras section into non-wrestling… um… gotta get back on track…

Well, if all goes well with my picks, I hope that JBL taking his Last Ride in the final match will be a sufficiently creepy image. Old School Undertaker from YEARS ago really made you felt his wins, especially casket matches and so forth. I mean, you could feel his bad assery through your TV screen. He certainly didn’t have it for his finale at the Great American Embarrassment, so maybe he’ll have it here.

Bradshaw fears Talent! Bradshaw fears Talent! (I’m kidding. I know he doesn’t know what Talent is.)

Rocky Swift Says... Nothing, because the clever bastard's already stolen the show and made us all look bad enough as it is!
Big Danny T Says... Mmmmmm, Supple.
Expect another catfight between Dawn and Miss Jackie. You know Heidenreich will have a poem to torture us with, and they may just throw someone to him in order to give us a 7th match on the card. And maybe we'll get a Dudleys vs. FBI +1 match as well. Oh, and drink every time either Tazz or Cole call RVD "Supple."
Rick Scaia Says... As Little As Possible, Because I'm Exhausted and This Thing is Long Enough Already.
After the OOfficial deadline, WWE has added Spike vs. Nunzio to the card. This is based almost entirely on Nunzio getting a non-title win last night over Spike, as far as I can tell (note: if there's more to the FBI vs. the Dudleys from Velocity, I'm NOT the man to be telling you that tale).  I'm seriously loving the New Spike, and Nunzio's plenty underrated as a performer, so I expect a thoroughly entertaining 10 minutes from those two.  But Spike will win.  Because he's the Boss. And also because he has 2 henchmen to Nunzio's 1.

Other than that? No way we escape without being forcibly strapped into the Poetry Appreciation Chamber for a session with Prostetnic Vogon Heidenreich.  Part of me still has reasons for finding this really funny. But another part of me still knows that (much as is the case with JBL) it will cease to be so as soon as Heidenreich has to, you know?, actually wrestle.  It's a fun character hook, in a twisted sort of way, but it does nothing to enhance his ultimate value to the company outside of a low-card side-show attraction.

Dawn Marie will make further attempts to steal Charlie Haas away from Jackie Gayda.  Jackie Gayda will not be pleased.  The alleged acting will be subpar, but for the most part, nobody will care because the forecast also calls for a 95% chance of thongs.

And a final prediction: I will go 1-for-6 on these PPV picks. 

 
So check out No Mercy on Sunday night... or if you've just got the NFL fever, are a cheap-ass bastard, or haven't found some reason in this Epic Document to care about the PPV, you can always remember to stop on back here at OO on Sunday night.

I'll be posting my immediately post-show Unforgiven PPV Recap sometime proximate to midnight!  See you then....


  
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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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