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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
TEAM COVERAGE:
WWE Survivor Series PPV Preview
November 12, 2004

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

 

Considering that this is one of only four times per year that WWE brings a joint-brand PPV to the fans, I'm kind of surprised that there isn't a bit more sizzle to the show.
 
In a lot of ways, Sunday's PPV is a one-match show, at least from a marketing standpoint, and honestly, the SD! brand might be producing some vastly improved weekly TV shows, but still have real problems when it comes to developing PPV-caliber "Sizzle." If not for the massive intrigue surrounding RAW's incentivized elimination match, 

this is a show that may well rate not much more compelling than any number of disposable single-brand PPV shows we've been subjected to in the last two years.

But luckily, we *do* have that main event hook on Sunday, and it not only ought to be a well worked and dramatic match, with myriad storyline possibilities within the match itself...  but it will also have a serious impact on how entertaining RAW will be during its stretch run to close out the year. There's a lot riding on Team HHH vs. Team Canadian Chrisses (sorry, Randall, but here at OO, we refuse to acknowledge your Captaincy!), but I think there's more than enough talent in that ring to pull it off.

TOTAL TANGENT: I've got a boring-ass weekend of nothing going on staring me in the face, and Survivor Series is still only about the #3 item on my Stuff To Get Excited About List. Obviously, my first look at the 2004-05 Dayton Flyers in action (in an exhibition game) has me stoked. And here's a little something you might put on YOUR To Do Lists...  I think it was either 2 or 3 Fridays ago, I was home and just flipping channels bored out of my skull after coming home from the bars, and discovered that TBS is doing this thing where they have Friday night mini-marathons of "Family Guy," Futurama," some other cartoon that actually wasn't that funny, and "Mr. Show." I'm sure they planned it this way, since that's the kind of stuff that, if I were hypothetically drunk off my ass at 3am, I'd love to plop down and watch.  "Futurama" is slightly more hit than miss, but "Family Guy" is my winner of the "I Can't Believe It Took Me Till This Year To See This Show" Award for 2004.  Hilarious (and I'm STILL a bit ahead of the curve, since "Family Guy" will probably become a Major Phenomenon in 2005 when it becomes the first TV show of all time to return to network TV after being cancelled for 3 years!).

Anyway, I mention it because, if you kids out there even REMOTELY trust The Rick, I insist that you watch the "Mr. Show" that will be on as part of TONIGHT's late night TBS thingie; my DVR tells me it will be the "Jeepers Creepers Semi Star" one. For me, not so big a deal, since I have the DVDs and can watch it whenever I want; but for YOU, since I know there is a distressingly low level of Mr. Show Fandom out there, it's a chance to see perhaps the funniest 30 minutes of TV produced in the 1990s, for free, on basic cable.  I still remember the night me and maybe a half-dozen friends had come home and congregated in front of the TV, and had NO idea what the hell this silly sketch comedy show on HBO was, and then ended up suffering physical injuries from laughing so hard, and instantly became Mr. Show fans for life.

All because of THIS episode.  Trust me; funniest 30 minutes of TV produced the entire decade. And if I'm wrong, well, I'll come up with some bullshit excuse to not eat a bug!  Anyway: Mr. Show on TBS at 3am on a Friday Night!  The Rick almost certainly won't have anything better to do than come home from the bar and bask in television's warm, glowing, glowing warmth, so why the hell should you?!?  Who do you think you are, anyway?

But I guess there's still an outside chance that Survivor Series may end up being even more exciting than a "Mr. Show" I've seen dozens of times... so let's get on with that, eh?

Because I've again assembled the trOOps, and among us, we're sure to have every single pertinent insight into the PPV that is humanly possible to have. If it could conceivably happen on Sunday, one of us will have it covered. We're just that damned good. And we're also hopeful of using our damned gOOdness to whip the Swine at WrestleLine in the Battle for PPV Predictions Mastery of the Universe!  With this and December's Armageddon still out there, the 2004 crown is still up for grabs!

Here's the Only Survivor Series PPV Preview you need to read....
 

CHRIS BENOIT, CHRIS JERICHO, RANDY ORTON, and MAVEN vs. TRIPLE H, BATISTA, EDGE, and GENE SNITSKY
Elimination Match for Control of RAW

Well, this is the Big One.  The most intense drama of the show will be here; the most important implications for the near-term are here; and there's plenty of talent in the ring to insure that we'll have ample action here, as well.

Telling the story of this match is kind of a daunting task, as we've really got a few different things all intertwined, but it goes a little something like this:

In fan voting for the Taboo Tuesday PPV, Edge only finishes second, forcing him into a "consolation match" for the tag team titles, although the gold he truly covets is HHH's World Title. He walks out on his partner, Chris Benoit, but Benoit still manages to single-handedly win the Tag belts.

HHH successfully defended his World Title from Shawn Michaels, winner of the fan voting, and seemed poised to move on to a new challenge. At the same PPV, Randy Orton beat Ric Flair, seemingly propelling him into the challengers role.

The next week on RAW, Eric Bischoff walks off his job in disgust, saying that the fan voting concept at Taboo Tuesday was just the latest underhanded plot to undermine his authority. So if the WWE fans and wrestlers think that taking away Eric authority is a good thing, fine: for one night, he basically says that the inmates can run the asylum.  Evolution stepped up, and declared that they had the strength of numbers on their side, and booked RAW to their tastes...

Except it didn't totally work out; although they DID manage to help Ric Flair defeat Orton in a match that stipulated that Randall's loss would mean he NEVER got another World Title Match against HHH, Evolution didn't count on the entire RAW locker room joining forces to turn Evolution's "numbers game" on its ear. Although there were bit players such as Tajiri, Rhyno, Hurricane, and Rosey involved, the three men who stepped up and sided with Orton in a memorably awesome post-match beatdown on HHH were Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Maven.

In the couple of weeks since, we've seen Edge cement his heel status by AGAIN walking out on Chris Benoit, this time costing him the tag titles.  We've also seen Eric Bischoff do everything to UNcement his own heel status, as he's played this oddly-defiant tweener role. Sick of being underappreciated (boo!), but also sick of kissing Evolution's ass and not having anything good come of it (yay!), Bischoff booked a four-on-four elimination match for Survivor Series.  The babyface team consists of Benoit, Jericho, Orton, and Maven, predictably enough.  But the heel team, it's HHH, Batista, Edge, and... Gene Snitsky?  Ric Flair was livid at being left off the team, but Bischoff doesn't care about placating Evolution anymore, so Snitsky it is.  Further, Bischoff is gonna give himself a one-month vacation after Survivor Series, and the General Managership of RAW will cycle through the members of the winning team for that month. The stakes are high, and so am I, I got me a rock 'n' roll band, it's a Free For All~!

And of course, Bischoff's attempted match-making has not exactly resulted in True Love developing on the heel side.  Edge's entire heel turn was predicated on how badly he wanted HHH's title!  And Snitsky is anything but a team player!  And Batista even got in on the act, sharing some tender, tender moments with HHH's title belt when HHH wasn't looking.  The message: even if HHH's team wins, he'll be facing stiff challenges from Edge, Snitsky, and maybe even Batista.

Snitsky's kind of the wild card on his team; besides one brief confrontation with Chris Jericho, he's got no real reason to be involved in this match.  Maven is his twin on the other side; he just sort of got shoehorned into this without explanation. I, Douchebag of the Universe that I am, am convinced that he's only in there because the Higher Ups think that his presence in a main event somehow legitimizes the Tough Enough crap on SD!... because if this really was a concerted effort to create a Breakout Moment for Maven, they've sure done a whole lot of nothing with it the last two weeks.  In all seriousness: the last two weeks, Tajiri has had more business as the fourth member of Team Canadian Chrisses than Maven (as he's impersonated HHH and gotten beat down by Snitsky).  That is not a joke, that is not even my perverse manlove of Tajiri; that's just a fact. Maven has done nothing to justify his presence in this match; or more accurately, the creative team has given him nothing to justify his presence in this match.

Anyway, everything here boils down to using this match to set up the next challenger(s) for HHH's World Title. A win by Team Heel sets up a ton of interesting possibilities that might even include HHH turning face (in my dreamworld); a win by Team Babyface means title shots for Personal Favorites of mine like Benoit and Jericho (and also would mean an almost CERTAIN to kick ass edition of "RAW is JERICHO").  I love the ambiguity, I love knowing that there are good things to come from either outcome, and I love the certainty that I have that the road to get to that uncertain outcome will be a fun one.  Kids, *this* is your reason to order up Survivor Series.
  

The OOutlOOk
Team HHH wins: 5 votes
Team Canadian Chrisses wins: 2 votes
(Survival Votes: HHH 5, Edge 2, Batista 1, Jericho 1, Orton 1)

Erin Anderson Says... Team Canadian Chrisses wins (Jericho is the Sole Survivor).
I love the stipulation for this match, and I say kudos to the writers for coming up with it. I heard something about a Wargames match, but I haven't been watching wrestling long enough to have seen one, so I don't know what I'm missing. Ignorance is bliss!

The faces must win. I can't stress this enough. If Trips' team wins, it'll be the same Evolution bullshit we see every Monday all over again. If the faces win, then we get something refreshing that will actually make the fans want to watch. Remember how awesome it was to see Triple H get destroyed at the end of RAW a few weeks back? Well, if the writers don't screw things up, the fans can enjoy the same kind of thing for a month. It would be fun to see what kind of creative ways Evolution will come up with to help Trips keep the title, and if (or when) Batista will show his true colors. Also, I'd just really love to see Jericho run RAW for a week.

Snitsky is a wild card in terms of ring work, but this should be fast-paced and fun, and there are plenty of good workers in here to appease the smarks. Jericho is the sole survivor, just 'cause. Did you people expect me to pick anyone else?

Canadian Bulldog Says... Team HHH wins (HHH and Edge are Survivors).
Pretty confident about this one. First, because if you believe that Orton will be headlining WrestleMania next year (Must... think.... calming... thoughts... walls... closing... in), then it doesn't do him a lot of good to be in that position and waiting NOW. He'd be better off losing then mounting a comeback by, say, Royal Rumble time, officially making 2005 the year of "ORTON! ORTON! BAH GAWD, ORTON!!!".

Plus... the General Manager stipulation should be a dead giveaway here. With the tension brewing HHH/Batista/Edge/Snitsky you can easily play that out for a month. Whereas with the faces, it doesn't exactly work as well. I mean... GM Maven??? Even if The Rick's prediction of having Tajiri in that spot instead pans out, having a face run Raw is something you could do for one week tops; not four.

Survivors: HHH and Edge

The Cubs Fan Says... Team Canadian Chrisses wins (Randy Orton is the Sole Survivor).
Really felt like they were setting up Triple H winning despite all the other seven men wanting him dead because he's Triple H after all, but Survivor Series is usually the starting point on the Road to WrestleMania, and Orton's gotta pin Triple H for that to happen. Guessing at elimination order: Maven is out first because he's Maven, Kane shows up to scare Snitsky out of the match, Batista has Jericho's number, Triple H gets his big pinfall on Benoit to take it 3-1, miscommunication leads Edge to get pinned, rollup finish on Batista, and Orton RKOs Triple H. And this will feel like fifteen other matches they've done on RAW in the last six months.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Team HHH wins (HHH and Batista are Survivors).
Unfortunately these will not be as lengthy as they normally are since I'm on my way in a few hours to a conference in Chicago.  However, I will be at the Gund to see this show live, so I do have a vested interest in making picks.  For this match, I think the stip dictates who wins this match.  Maven isn't over to run a whole week of shows, Benoit isn't wonderful on the mic and would struggle being in charge and lord knows none of us want to see Orton running things.  So given the fact that heels make better power figures, I say they win here.  But given the way RAW went this week, HHH still won't be having an easy go of it in the next month.  I would look for Snitsky to pull a Bad News Brown and leave mid-match so as he won't survive yet won't get pinned either.  Orton will probably be last on the face side but won't have enough to get a win.
Matt Hocking Says... Team HHH wins (HHH and Edge are Survivors).
If the faces win, you have two REALLY interesting RAWs with Jericho and Orton in control (while Orton couldn't book himself a title match, he COULD book HHH to get beat), and two boring ones with Benoit being weighed on too heavily to be a main promo guy on his week and Maven, a guy whose overness is...middling in charge for an entire week.  Ok, you have the SAME problem on the heel side with Abe and Dave, but the stories are much more compelling.  Does Dave shun his Evolutioness to take a shot at HHH?  What would RAW be like with Gene Snitsky in control and booking Snitsky v. Baby matches?  I think Edge and Hunter stay alive, eliminating Randy last, to set up Edge's claim that he deserves the World Title most and pushing him and his book.  HHH can't trust anybody on his team, but he still gets the win.
PyroFalkon Says...  Team HHH wins (HHH is the Sole Survivor).
As of writing this, I of course donít know how the rest of the OO-ites feel, but I think this is the toughest match to pick on the card (at least for the RAW side). After some consideration, I think Team Mr. Stephanie McMahon will edge it out over Team Mr. Pushed Too Fast With Crappy Music That Gets Stuck In My Head Every Week.

I choose that for two reasons. First, I think theyíre going to be looking to re-establish Evolutionís dominance after the mess Trips has been in the past few weeks. You also can have many outs if Evolution takes control, what with Edge and Snitsky taking matches against Triple H in the coming weeks. I like the idea of seeing guys mess with Triple H, and then his chance to lead RAW happens in the fourth week, so he can get some revenge, or something. It would set up some nice feuds (and possible turns), and seeing the faces of RAW trying to overcome any sort of stacked odds would be cool.

Second, I think it would be funnier overall (and simply better executed) to have the heels take control. Benoit and Orton wouldnít fill the GM spot very well, I donít think. Jericho would, but heís great on the mic no matter what the situation. Maven definitely wouldnít, and even though Rick will kill me, I think Snitskyís possibilities are more gold than Tajiriís, should Tajiri replace Maven as Rick has been positing.

I think that whichever team wins this will only have one member left. I vehemently pray it doesnít come down to Trips and Orton in the finale, but considering that Ortonís music played at the end of RAW, I assume thatís where weíll be. So Trips is the lone member of his team, then pins Orton to finish it out.

Rick Scaia Says... Team HHH wins (HHH is the Sole Survivor).
OK, so after a month in which I've come the closest I have in YEARS to publicly HHHating on the Game, I'm here picking him to stand alone in the ring as the Sole Survivor of the main event of a PPV. One might guess that I'm doing it ironically, or something... but I'm not; I actually think it's the right and necessary play.

We've established that whatever happens at SS, HHH and his title will be under siege, right? And I'm sorry for using such a lame heuristic, but *I* am saying that Team Babyface cannot win this match because NOBODY wants to see Maven in charge of RAW (and I also, for all my posturing, don't think WWE would actually do what I insisted upon and put Tajiri into Maven's slot); at the low end of the heel side, at least Batista could sorta be a proxy for Flair, and Snitsky could be kinda fun as an unbalanced GM.  I know it's a cheap sort of way to pick the winning team, but honestly, the story will be the same either way, and I just thing there are more options for fun if you have the heels in charge of RAW for a bit.

Because -- and this is huge -- I'm not entirely sure they'd play as heels in a traditional sense.  Either HHH will have to win some fans over since he's nobly fending off backstabbing challengers, or guys like Edge and Batista/Flair will make use of some lingering babyface goodwill, and maybe toe that line, resulting in shades of gray and ambiguity and all that other good stuff I sport wood for.

Finally: I think HHH getting the spotlight to end the show is important to set the tone for the next few weeks of him being under siege.  He'll show ass enough, and he'll be "exposed" enough for the next four weeks; I think it's a completely sound play to have him stand tall at the conclusion of this PPV, to sort of say, "Hey, I'm the Game, I just won this match, so I'm ready.  Bring it, bitches."  Because if you think about it, it's the moments like THAT which make it possible for us to wet ourselves in glee for moments like HHH getting his ass handed to him by Jericho/Benoit/Orton/Maven at the end of that RAW a few weeks ago.  As part of the rich tapestry of life, you need to boost HHH up so that he can be all the more magnificently torn down later.

I'll go so far as to say that I'd like it to be a deal where maybe the heel bickering results in HHH being in there against a 2-on-1 deal (preferably against Benoit and Orton, since I have this sinking feeling that as much as I'd love to do it Benoit and Jericho, we can't get away from Orton as Challenger, and Jericho probably has to powder out in a such a way as to facilitate -- ugh -- a further feud with Snitsky), but maybe with the assist from Flair (and maybe, just maybe, if Benoit and Orton get a little proud and can't get along) overcomes the odds and wins the match, lasting eliminating that pesky Randall.

Anything so that I don't have to hear that fucking theme song of Orton's more than once on the night. Really, *that* is all I'm asking for....

 

EDDIE GUERRERO, JOHN CENA, ROB VAN DAM, and BIG SHOW vs. KURT ANGLE, CARLITO COOL, LUTHER REIGNS, and MARK JINDRAK
Elimination Match

SmackDown!'s counter-point to the RAW Elimination match doesn't have nearly the sizzle.  No cool stipulations, no major implications on the title picture, nothing, really.

And yet, there's so damn much talent here that it could still end up being one of the better matches of the night.  Kind of a microcosm of how SD!'s weekly TV shows work: they never quite blow you away with shocking developments, but they always seem to plug away persistently until you're left with 2 hours of being solidly entertained.

The story here is a bit more straight-forward than the RAW 8-man, too...  Team Angle has had its troubles with Eddie Guerrero going back to the summer. More recently, they've tangled with Big Show (tranq'ing him and shaving his head). And then, in the aftermath of a US Title #1 Contender's Battle Royal, Kurt Angle revived his feud with Rey Mysterio for a week or two, and in so doing, ended up getting involved with Rey's sometimes-tag-partner, Rob Van Dam.

So what ended up happening was GM Teddy Long announced that he'd set up a Classic Survivor Series Elimination Match with Team Eddie taking on Team Angle; at the time, both teams only had three men (Eddie/RVD/Rey vs. Kurt/Luther/Jindrak), so each went on a recruiting binge.  Eddie, obviously, settled on Big Show, who craved the opportunity to get even with Kurt.  Angle wound up choosing Carlito Cool, the US Champ. And so we thought we had our match set.

But NOT SO FAST, PEDRO... GM Teddy Long had a brainstorm, and he had to take Rey Mysterio out of the match so he could participate in a CW Title match.  Which meant Eddie Guerrero only had one short week to find another replacement partner. And just last night, he announced he'd found his man: John Cena.  Cena hasn't been on TV in over a month (after dropping the US Title to Carlito, Cena has been selling a "punctured kidney" that happened during a "night club brawl," and in which Carlito and his bodyguard Jesus are implicated), and is likely to be presented at less-than 100%.

A new development: Carlito has a severely injured shoulder, and his participation in this match may be limited.  Between that injury and the fact that Mark Jindrak is kind of a fish-out-of-water here (though affiliated with Team Angle, he's still got the taint of curtain jerker on him), Team Angle may have to relay on shenanigans and chicanery ("What Will Jesus Do?" would be one very important question to ask yourself!) to keep this match close against a babyface team that is loaded to the gills with top-notch talent.  I got plenty of love for Eddie, Kurt, and RVD, though, and those three oughta be able to keep this one fun, no matter what.
  

The OOutlOOk
Team Eddie wins: 6 votes
Team Angle wins: 1 vote
(Survival Votes: Big Show 4, Eddie 3, Cena 1, Angle 1)

Erin Anderson Says... Team Angle wins (Kurt Angle is the Sole Survivor).
I can't remember the last time I watching Smackdown! I work on Thursday nights, and the thought of setting up my VCR is too much for my lazy ass. So what I'll be doing here is the equivalent of "Christmas-treeing" a multiple-choice exam. Is C an option? It's always C, dammit!

Actually, I just picked the heels to win because on the RAW side, the faces are winning. Also, last year the roles were reversed. Sole survivor? Uhh... Angle?

Canadian Bulldog Says... Team Eddie wins (Big Show is the Sole Survivor).
On the face side, you've got an all-star team; with the heels, you've got Kurt "Shell of His Former Self" Angle and three losers. Makes sense to me that the mega-face team goes over here, plain and simple.

Survivor: In an ideal world, Big Show stands alone.

The Cubs Fan Says... Team Eddie wins (Eddie and Cena are Survivors).
I've got no idea where they're really taking the SD! Elimination match, because there's nothing on the line and no one in particular they're getting behind; Cool doesn't count because he'll be written out here or Thursday, and same applies for Cena. Whatever happens doesn't look to matter by two weeks for now, which is usually way to determine the winner. Safe way is to pick the side that lost on Thursday. Did you notice how Angle referred to Jesus as his alternate? Must not feel good about Carlito's status if they're setting up something in advance.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Team Eddie wins (Big Show is the Sole Survivor).
This is really a pick'em.  I could see either team winning.  Cena and Carlito will probably eliminate each other pretty quickly due to Carlito's injury.  I wouldn't be surprised if it comes down to Show vs. Angle, Luther and Jindrak yet Show somehow overcomes the odds and wins it all.
Matt Hocking Says... Team Eddie wins (Big Show is the Sole Survivor).
I think the faces get their first big win against The New Team Angle here to help reshuffle the feuds on Smackdown (this feud has been going on for the better part of the year, after all).  However looking at the facs, RVD isn't going to survive, Cena will probably be DQed after eliminating Carlito, and Eddie is still staring a long term feud with...nobody.  Show showed the most ass on Smackdown, and so it seems to follow that he'll show the least when it really counts.  The faces are quickly eliminated leaving Show facing big odds, but he pulls it off, and beats Kurt Angle in the final 2.
PyroFalkon Says...  Team Eddie wins (Eddie is the Sole Survivor).
This will be a fun match. Half the people in it have awesome personalities, so weíll see some good in-ring antics before itís over.

HmmÖ I give it to Eddieís team, mostly because that way we have a face/heel finish for the last two matches of the night. Plus, the mystery partner should get a free pass to a match simply because he IS the mystery partner.

I think that the finale will come down to Eddie and Angle, and that will be it. So basically, for both Survivor Series-style matches, only one member from each team will survive to the end. And that combo, assuming both are 100%, will take the show.

I really donít see how this wonít be match of the night, because I have much higher and reasonable expectations out of these guys. I mean, in the main event, Snitsky and Maven wonít exactly set the world on fire, and Batista and Orton are predictable. I think even with Luther Reigns and Mark Jindrak, this match will be better.

Rick Scaia Says... Team Eddie wins (Eddie and Big Show are Survivors).
My Wrestling IQ calls this a virtual toss-up.  There are equally good reasons for going with one team as with the other.  But my gut says that there's really no way that Eddie's team shouldn't win.

Fact One: Carlito Cool is injured and will be an incidental part of this match, and so as not to hurt the match, we must limit his involvement, which means Team Angle is kinda short-handed.  Fact Two: Jindrak is still a work in progress, and nothing against the guy, but he's the One Of These Things That Doesn't Belong out of these eight.  So if you get down to Angle/Luther facing four top level talents?  It's probably best if you just do the obvious and let the babyfaces win.

An easy call: Cena and Carlito should do a sort of eliminate each other thing (double count-out, something that won't tax Carlito too much).  RVD and Jindrak are the disposable members of their teams.  And I'd bet a body part that we get down to Eddie/Show vs. Angle/Luther.  And just because I can't pick which one of Eddie or Show needs to win more, I'm gonna go with BOTH of them surviving.  What the hell? The Survivor Picks don't count, anyway!  Just picking the right winning team does.... 

 

JOHN BRADSHAW LAYFIELD vs. BOOKER T
WWE Title Match

Unbelievably, Bradshaw is STILL the WWE Champion almost six months after he had no business winning the title in the first place.  He beat Eddie Guerrero, and then beat him again in rematches (including JBL's lone Better Than Average Match of the Year, in a cage against Eddie on SD!).  Then he turned back the challenge of the Undertaker.

And as JBL was happy to note: he is undefeated in singles competition this year.  His last loss was in a tag team match prior to WM20, and he had not been beaten since....  until Booker T.

Booker, though still a heel coming off a US Title feud with John Cena, had an odd little exchange with JBL's Chief of Staff, Orlando Jordan about a month ago. This was just enough justification for GM Teddy Long to include Booker in a six-man tag match, in which he teamed with Rob Van Dam and Rey Mysterio against the "Team of Champions," WWE Champ JBL and Tag Champs Kenzo Suzuki and Rene Dupree.  Booker didn't want the match, and tried to tell Teddy Long that he does his own thing and doesn't like having partners.  But Teddy did a great job motivating Booker with a speech about how it's time for Booker to "step up" and "man up."  Booker was unsold at first.... but when he got out to the ring, when he finally tagged in for his team, he grabbed the brass ring.

In that match, it came down to Booker vs. JBL, and Booker pinned Bradshaw in the middle of the ring.  And just like that, you had (a) a face turn for Booker T, and (b) a new #1 Contender for Bradshaw's title.  Well, actually (b) didn't come quite so fast, as JBL obviously made Booker jump through a few hoops to get the title shot (and also made sure we knew that he STILL hasn't been pinned in a singles match this year).  But Booker beat OJ to get the title shot, and now stands poised to add one-time WWE Champ to his resume alongside 5 WCW Titles.

All the momentum heading into the match is Booker's: he's pinned JBL, he's even teamed with WWE Diva Josh Mathews to beat JBL and OJ (and hell, he even HELPED WWE Diva Josh Mathews beat OJ in a singles match)....  but JBL will not be deterred.  Just last night, JBL made another of his ironclad guarantees (the same ones that he has made in matches against Eddie and Taker and which he's ALWAYS paid off on), promising to beat Booker T, or else he'd never appear on SmackDown! again.  Curious.  Cuz although nobody will cheer louder than I when JBL is done befouling main event matches with his bare-adequacy as a wrestler, I think the guy has a future as a mid-card heel, simply because his persona has really shone through the last few months.  JBL has gone into every title defense he's made as the underdog, it seems, and Sunday will be no exception.  I'm not predicting good things, necessarily, but I am kind of intrigued to see where they go with this....
  

The OOutlOOk
Booker T wins: 5 votes   --|--  JBL wins: 2 votes

Erin Anderson Says... JBL d. Booker T.
Holy Christ, JBL is still the champion? I agree that he's created a great character, but that's just fucking wrong to have such a weak in-ring worker as a long-term champion.

Okay, I give up. JBL holds the title until Wrestlemania. He just won't die. Coincidentally, I'm still not watching Smackdown!

Canadian Bulldog Says... Booker T d. JBL.
Insert Bulldog's standard "I know I've said this a hundred times now, but I have a feeling that it's finally JBL's turn to lose." argument, which I know just forces me to jinx the whole damn match.

Booker T *should* win. He clearly needs the belt to crack into that upper tier; JBL doesn't. Now, WWE may surprise me using their ultra-effective "reverse psychology" logic here and giving JBL a clean pinfall, but this time, I doubt it. Just like all the other times I doubted it.

The Cubs Fan Says... Booker T d. JBL.
Why the heck not. Total wishcasting, won't happen, but I'd love for it to happen because the alternatives aren't pretty. If the big WM is still gonna be Angle/Undertaker, and if the title is part of it, would you rather see JBL/Undertaker III to get there, or Booker T/Kurt Angle? Let's dream.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Booker T d. JBL.
For the first time since JBL's title win, I have a strong feeling that his reign is over.  Given the lack of other contenders available for JBL, I think it's time to switch the title over to a face and see where we go from there.  I suspect Booker will be a paper champ for Kurt, but that's ok with me.  JBL's comments on Smackdown this week throw a monkey wrench into my picks, but I gotta go with what I believe.  It's Booker Time.  Now can you dig that sucka?
Matt Hocking Says... Booker T d. JBL.
Why?  Hell...I dunno.  Just a hunch, I guess.  All signs would seem to point to have JBL retain.  Booker T isn't really doing anything World Title worthy and there's not really been a strong indication that Bradshaw is going to lose this match, but I've been thinking.  With two strongly pushed stories in Taker/Hnnrnnr and Team Angle/Team Eddie, in addition to the wishy-washy addition of a Jordan/Matthews feud, it seems to me that JBL's title reign is winding down and the WWE is looking to transition it to somebody else until the Rumble until they do what they want to with it around the Rumble.  So, with JBL not being nearly as ubiquitous as he was even a month ago, and with Booker T fully able to handle the duties of holding onto a title until they give it to their Mania guy, I think Booker T wins.  This is the match I'm least confident in picking, but the one that seems to make the most sense.
PyroFalkon Says...  Booker T d. JBL.
Damnit. Letís get the belt off JBL already. In hindsight, I suppose it wouldnít have been good to have Undertaker win it last time, since heís only a part-timer anyway. But Booker T just turned, and heís on SmackDown! all the time, and he deserves it, and JBL sucksÖ just give Booker the win, and letís get on with the main events.
Rick Scaia Says... JBL d. Booker T.
Surprised? Cuz I am.  Until about two days ago, I figured I'd just pick Booker to finally unseat JBL, and that I'd be right because it's about fucking time JBL stopped befouling the main event picture on SD!....

But then I stopped and thought: the next single-brand PPV is SD!'s in three weeks...  Carlito's gonna be out, Heidenreich should be back in his apartment in Louisville by then, and Angle will be digging out of an elimination match loss if I'm to be believed...  for the sake of SD!, there needs to be at least ONE established heel, and frankly, having Booker chasing JBL for the WWE Title at Armageddon is a hook that WWE NEEDS for that show.  Seriously: what else could they put out there that you'd care about enough to pay for?

So I say JBL retains, makes good on his latest Guarantee, and lives to fight one more day.  But then, in December, yeah, I think Booker's gotta take the title.  I've even talked myself into there being some kind of Symbolic Value if they hold off Booker's first WWE Title win until it can take place in Atlanta, GA (site of Armageddon and home of WCW, where Booker won his Five Titles)...  so once more unto the breach, says I!  Go JBL! It's just good fiscal sense! 

 

SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. CHRISTIAN
InterContinental Title Match

One month ago, both these guys were chasing Chris Jericho's IC Title. In fact, on the last night before the fan-voted Taboo Tuesday card, these two tangled memorably, as the last two men in an elimination match that had been contested among the top 8 challengers to Jericho's title.

Shelton won that match, and then the next night, won the fan voting for a shot at Jericho, and most shocking of all: won the match against Jericho, too!  A new IC Champ was born, and to be honest, he did it in pretty impressive fashion.  In both the PPV match and again in the RAW rematch, Shelton kept up with Jericho not only in terms of ringwork, but also in terms of popularity with the fans (at the PPV, a case might even be made that Shelton had more fans than Jericho, which frankly stunned the hell out of this Jerichoholic).

Of course, once Shelton established that his would not be a one-week title reign, Christian stepped in and said "First Dibs" on a title feud. He hasn't quite managed to get the measure of Shelton, though, who remains en feugo: armed with a sweet new finisher (a T-Bone Powerslam) and his remarkable fanbase, Shelton has managed to absorb Christian's worse, and STILL come out on top in their confrontations over the past several weeks.

This has included defeating Christian's "problem solvers" in back-to-back matches (the usual Problem Solver, the Lovely Miss Tomko, went down just this week; but before that, Christian imported 500 lbs. Ultrafat Problem Solver Viscera for a failed attempt on Shelton's ribs).

If the quality of the final stages of that pre-Taboo Tuesday showdown between these two is any indication, I expect a very cool little match here.  Captain Charisma's heelishness and Shelton's likeability should meld into a match that is not only well-worked, but which also has a surprising amount of fan interest.  A definite Sleeper Pick on my score card....
  

The OOutlOOk
Christian wins: 4 votes   --|--  Shelton wins: 3 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Christian d. Shelton Benjamin.
I really like the idea of Shelton as the IC champ. He's a great wrestler, he's young, and he's got the charisma to pull it off. But he doesn't quite have the fan following yet. I think he can get it if he has a chance to chase Captain Charisma for a while. This should be a damn good match if it's given enough time, so I really hope that WWE gives it the 15 minutes (or more) that it deserves. I expect shenanigans of the offbeat variety from the Lovely Miss Tomko, thus screwing Shelton out of his title.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Christian.
It would make no sense for Christian to sabotage the slow-but-sure evolution of Benjamin into the hallowed "WWE superstar". Don't get me wrong; I have nothing but praise for Christian, but Shelton Benjamin IS the next big thing, with all apologies to his former OVW partner Brock Lesnar. To drop the belt a month after he won it would be asinine.
The Cubs Fan Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Christian.
The question really isn't about this match - Christian can't win the title, because it wouldn't leave him free to challenge for the title - it's about what's next for Shelton. I guess the next guy up on the ladder is Batista, but I don't know if those are matches that'll do either guy much good.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Christian.
As much as Captain Charisma deserves the title, Shelton just won it and having him lose it so quickly would cut off any momentum he's gaining with the fans.  I suspect the CLB will have some help, but it will all be for naught as there isn't anything stopping Benjamin's momentum at the moment.  I would expect a finish that allows for this feud to still extend throughout the winter.
Matt Hocking Says... Christian d. Shelton Benjamin.
Not to say that Shelton hasn't been a decent I.C. Champion of late, but he really needs somebody to chase.  He's got "chaser" written all over him, and when he's the top guy, at least as a face, he's going to have trouble pulling it off.  This way, Christian is able to lord his win over Shelton and set up a bigger feud for a bigger match down the road, probably something like a ladder match at the Rumble.  Doesn't work if Shelton is the champ here.  Tian wins.
PyroFalkon Says...  Christian d. Shelton Benjamin.
Tomko has no match of his own, so let him screw around here and help his boss win. SB has won a little too decisively the past couple weeks, so itís his turn to be smacked around.

Either way, this match should be a really good one. Weíve got two guys who are excellent in the ring, and who know how to play the crowd during the match to elicit more than usual reactions.

Rick Scaia Says... Christian d. Shelton Benjamin.
A few weeks ago, if we'd mapped this out, and I'd had to pick the winner of a Shelton vs. Christian IC Title match, I'd probably have picked Shelton on the grounds that he'd need the decisive win to establish himself as a non-fluke champ.

But you know what? After seeing how he matched Jericho fan-for-fan, I don't think Shelton has to worry about that. He can actually afford to lose here, and he'll still be over, and will still be a viable contender.  And it becomes Christian who "needs" the title more.  I cannot overstate enough how much the odd vibe of the last few weeks (Shelton pretty much foiling all of XTian's plots) plays into this, too: Shelton ain't superman, dammit, and all these minor victories against Christian feel to me like they SHOULD be leading to a major victory for Christian.

By hook or by crook (or by loyal valet), XTian should take the gold, and as is my preference, it puts the babyface on the chase, which I think'll play really well given how fans have warmed to Shelton. 

 

SPIKE DUDLEY vs. REY MYSTERIO vs. BILLY KIDMAN vs. CHAVO GUERRERO
Fatal Fourway for the Cruiserweight Title

No point trying to make this into something it's not...  so I'll just admit that the storytelling is a bit shoddy here; the mere fact that this was a thrown-together afterthought AFTER Rey was already booked into the 8-man elimination match should tell you all you need to know about how deep the context of this match is.

The best story in this match actually has absolutely zero to do with the Cruiserweight Title. In a fantastic example of making lemonade when handed lemons, Billy Kidman has turned into a magnificent bastard the last 3 months following a real-life injury he caused to Chavo Guerrero (when he mis-landed on a Shooting Star Press).  Chavo is back, now, and because of the insincerity of Kidman, the two have started to tangle with good results.

But of course, that has nothing to do with The Littlest Dictator Spike Dudley, who has ruled over the CW Division for months thanks to his diabolical scheming and effective use of his brothers Bubba and D-Von. A curious development: under Fatal Fourway rules, Spike will NOT have to be pinned to lose his title, and the other Duds are likely to be absent because of a FAILED Spike scheme in which Bubba and D-Von were decimated by the Big Show.  The deck seems stacked against "The Boss."

Meantime, the favorites would SEEM to be Rey (who scored a pinfall decision over Spike in a tag match last night, and is basically the creme de la creme when it comes to the cruisers) and Chavo (who has this mysterious little side-story simmering, in which he has a Mystery Friend who has stood by his side during his injury hiatus and is still backing him up even now; smark-fan wet dreams involve the return of Chavo Classic, I know, but even if it's just Paul London, the possibilities are pretty cool).

Anyway, a title change actually does seem likely here.  And as long as the fucking morons in creative can restrain themselves from finding room for Diva Search Winners and Tough Enough Bullshit (or christ, I just had a vision: a Simon Dean skit, ugh!) on the show, I say you give these four at LEAST 12 minutes, and then a kick-ass match becomes a certainty.
  

The OOutlOOk
Kidman wins: 5 votes   --|--  Rey wins: 2 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Rey Mysterio wins.
Whoa, the cruiserweights are still alive? Is Kidman still a heel? What about Chavo? And why the hell isn't Paul London in this match? Is he even still employed by WWE? God, I'm so out of the loop. Uh, the winner is "C." Or, in this case, Mysterio. Don't ask me why, I just like the guy.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Billy Kidman wins.
In redoing the Kidman character, WWE has created themselves a strangely effective heel and, really, jump-started Kidman's career. But like in Shelton Benjamin's case, it would be silly to stop his push now, when theoretically, Kidman could feud with any combination of the other cruiserweights effectively until WrestleMania.
The Cubs Fan Says... Billy Kidman wins.
Mysterio can never win because then he can never lose, apparently. Spike's new character was pretty cool the first weeks, and I think the general idea is good, but the writers got bored with the idea quicker than everyone else. Bad luck for him. Kidman's whole heel turn and new identity is marginalized if it doesn't eventually translate into a championship win and it feels as though the Fatal Four Way construct was just a way to move the title from a heel to a heel without doing a heel/heel match and keeping Chavo/Billy going. Kidman takes the title for the eight time here, maybe due to Chavo's friend.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Billy Kidman wins.
Well Rey doesn't need the title anymore.  Spike, while entertaining, has no real feud with anyone right now and at this point, probably doesn't need the title.  So that leaves Kidman and Chavo.  I think it's smarter putting it on Kidman and that way he can fend off Chavo in the upcoming weeks and then battle London once he returns.  Plus this leaves Spike strong as he can claim to have lost the title without being beat.
Matt Hocking Says... Billy Kidman wins.
Even the WWE has had to admit to itself that Rey is a division killer, despite his willingness to job to anyone and everyone.  Chavo would be an interesting choice as he's got a decent story going with his return, and Spike could say the same for retaining.  But thinking like the WWE (which often gives me headaches) would dictate that the Dudley's "accidently" interfere in the match (not so much to turn as to get revenge) on Spike for unknowingly setting them up, taking Spike effectively out.  Rey's out by something or other, and you're down to Billy and Chavo.  One of two things could happen from here, both leading to Kidman winning.  Billy either cheats outright lending suspicion to the case that he can't beat Chavo straight up without hurting him OR Paul London interferes on Billy's behalf buying into Billy's dark philosophy.  Either way, of all the people in this match, Kidman has the most issues and the most possible branching plotlines, so I'll take him to pull out the win.
PyroFalkon Says...  Rey Mysterio wins.
UmÖ Rey wins the cruiserweight belt? I havenít watched SmackDown!, nor do I care about this match. (Donít get me wrong, Iím not a cruiserweight hater or anything.) So, uh, I pick Rey Rey because heís my favorite out of these three. Yeah, thatís good enough.
Rick Scaia Says... Billy Kidman wins.
A REAL brain teaser, here.  Spike's been eye-opening in his role as "The Boss," and I don't want that to end...  but Bubba and D-Von will probably be absent again on Sunday, which in turn sets up the possibility for a little mini-arc in which Spike and the Duds either tease or actually do a full-on break-up.

Rey Mysterio is just freaking awesome, and I'd never complain about him winning a match and getting higher profile matches that might, in turn, raise the profile of the CW Title.  But honestly: Rey's kind of SO good that he's a division killer.

Which leads me to suspect that one of Chavo and Kidman will come out with the belt, which is cool, since their story is also strong enough that I think the CW belt would benefit from being in the middle of such an angle. Again applying my "it's better if faces are chasing" rule of thumb, then that means Billy should win, right?  

I'll go you one further: I think Chavo's mystery friend will be Paul London, and I think he tries to interfere in this match, and I think inadvertently helps Kidman win, and then either London or Chavo moves into a tweener spot, and I INSIST upon these three doing a Three Way Feud for the CW Title.  Christ, can you tell it's 3am, and I've had a few drinks...  this ain't a prediction so much as it's a fantasy booking....  eh: GO KIDMAN~!  I think him winning makes pretty decent sense, fantasticality of my three-way wet dream aside....

 

TRISH STRATUS vs. LITA
Women's Title Match

One could make the argument that his is a match 7 months or more in the making!

But then, one would have to explain what happened in those 7 months (or more), and one would lose almost all interest because WWE has almost completely destroyed the Lita character while, at the same time, Trish Stratus has started to shine in a way that I honestly can't remember ANY woman ever pulling off in the 20 years I've been watching wrestling.  I mean, I am a unique brand of asshole, but at least I'm pretty consistent about it; sometimes, heels are just more clever and interesting than their babyface counterparts, in my opinion. In the case of Trish, I can say with the utmost confidence that my appreciation may be amplified due to her extreme hotness, but it is ROOTED at a much more base level: in the same way I always liked Mr. Perfect more than Tito Santana or Kerry von Erich, in the same way that Chris Jericho was a genius for some of his early WCW CW work, and in the same way that I appreciate each and every appearance Kurt Angle makes on my TV today, *this* is what I dig about Trish Stratus lately.

I'm kind of a bastard, I guess, and when you get down to it, I can kind relate to other bastards. Or, in Trish's case, I guess she has to be kind of a bitch? As long as the target of her bitchiness is as deserving as Lita, I'll sit here and be none-to-ashamed to admit I'm smitten.

The short version of the story: a year ago, Trish and Lita were the best of friends, and together were trying to decide if they had possibly found the loves of their lives in Chris Jericho and Christian. Lita quickly determined that Christian was kind of a slimeball, but Trish and Jericho, their side of the Love Rhombus remained a going concern until WM21. But then it imploded as Trish decided to turn on Jericho and side with Christian; at about the same time, Lita was getting her life together, finally reuniting with Matt Hardy, and positioning herself for a shot at Trish's women's title.  Needless to say, if Trish had no problem ditching Jericho, she had no problem turning on her old friend Lita, either....

But the title shot never came to pass for Lita.  Before she could follow up, Lita found herself embroiled in a Whole Lotta Drama, the likes of which would make the writers of "All My Children" blush. Her love for Matt Hardy drove her to sleep with Kane, and apparently, her Selective Catholic Values meant that she'd ignore the part about sleeping around being bad... but she DID honor the part about not using Birth Control.  And of course, once she was impregnated by Kane's demon seed, she was in no condition to wrestle, and so the women's division was spared the threat of broken necks for about 5 months.

Pregnant Lita's Drama Quotient rose even higher as she was forced to marry Kane, and as she had to watch as Kane destroyed her "soul mate" Matt Hardy (who has not been seen since August), and then LOST her baby due to an incident that was NOT Snitksy's fault. Yeah, I know I could explain this better, but if I did, I'd only end up wanting to break something...  point is, through all of this utterly inane soap opera bullshit, Trish kind of upped her game, and made sure Lita was the target of frequent and becomingly-bitchy mocking.  That which I thought was dumb, Trish thought was dumb, and let the world know it in all manner of Baby Showers and Backstage Promos and Crashing Lita's Wedding Half-Naked.  

So now it's been two months since Lita lost her baby, and physically, I guess that means it's time to get back in the ring. Some of Trish's more recent taunting has been along the lines of Lita being a "Walking Kiss of Death," since she seems to kill off anything she cares about (Team XTinct, Dark Angel, Matt Hardy, her baby, et al)... and of course, Lita has to go and take all the taunting, just like she took all the forced impregnation and marriage to Kane and all that... and Lita only gets mad when Trish calls her tubby.  Oy.  And she's the one I'm supposed to like?

Again: you can make the case for this being the longest-spanning storyline on the card. But why would you want do?  Then again, I just looked back, and I sure typed a hell of a lot of shit here, didn't I?  Oh well, I don't expect the masses to be any more on my side than they were on the issue of Mr. Perfect in 1990; Lita has her highspots, and for as stupid as her storylines have been the last 8 months, that counts for plenty once you ring the bell.  Here's hoping for a rock solid wrestling match between quite possibly the E's two most fully-formed female characters.  Even if one of them takes the form of a stupid, trailer-park, Springer-esque drama queen, the other takes the form of a broad I'd like to hang out with, and I got no problem being in the minority; the fact that I *do* care this much about this match (even if it's in the opposite way WWE would prefer) says a lot....
  

The OOutlOOk
Trish wins: 6 votes   --|--  Lita wins: 1 vote

Erin Anderson Says... Trish Stratus d. Lita.
Ordinarily I'd say that Lita comes away with the big win, but Trish's awesomeness makes a case for her keeping her title. But I can also think of a Big Red Machine who might want to interfere on behalf of his wife (then again, his presence might be felt more in the RAW main event, given Snitsky's involvement there.) Last time Lita was in line for the title and I thought she just HAD to win, Molly stomped her ass. And that memory is making me smile. Fuck it, Trish wins. She's too good not to. And besides, this is a fresh matchup for the women's division, so they can stretch this one out for a while. Also, there's nobody else to wrestle in Trish and Lita's place, since WWE fucking FIRED MOST OF THE WOMEN'S ROSTER. Arrrrrrggggggg.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Lita d. Trish Stratus.
Now... I LOVE Trish. And not just in the obvious ways either. She is fantastic in the ring, a tremendous heel, and more recently, one of the best talkers out there. That said, Lita should really be the one getting the win here.

It's so rare these days that WWE does a long, slow-burning storyline that there has to be a satisfying payoff. Trish winning via interference or whatever just won't cut it. There will be plenty of other opportunities for the lovely Ms. Stratus, but I'm guessing few goldmines like the one Lita has been written into.

The Cubs Fan Says... Trish Stratus d. Lita.
It's too soon for Lita to win in this feud, Lita's got the Kane/Snitsky stuff that'd prevent her from doing much with the title anyway, and Trish is more entertaining personality. Hope they figure that all out ahead of time. Wonder if they'll bring up Lita similarly coming back from a long time off last year, and failing in her return title match vs Molly; maybe they're trying to save some face for Lita (too late), or maybe they just forgot.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Trish Stratus d. Lita.
If there is any sense in the WWE's creative team, which I do wonder sometimes, they will leave the title on Trish.  By God, Chunky has done nothing to earn the title.  Plus, Trish has been so money lately that it would be a shame to see her go down to the Walking Kiss of Death.  Needless to say, I will be vocally cheering for Trish and urging all of the other fans in attendance to join in with me.  BTW, last I checked Vegas had the over/under of missed punches by Lita at 16.
Matt Hocking Says... Trish Stratus d. Lita.
This is a bit of a darkhorse pick for me because I don't particularily believe it's the best decision.  However, I think that Lita will be too distracted by her own lust to punish the evil Trish and the distraction of losing her child (as well as a possible appearence by Gene) that she doesn't have enough concentration to finish Trish off.  Trish wins the match, but eventually loses the war when Lita beats her in a much more carefully set up match.
PyroFalkon Says...  Trish Stratus d. Lita.
I donít see why they would give Lita the belt now, her first match in a really long time. Trish retains, and theyíll probably make this one look like it belongs on Heat. The idea, in theory, will be to build up to a bigger payoff later. Thatíll be cool and all, but I think THIS particular womenís match wonít belong on a PPV.
Rick Scaia Says... Trish Stratus d. Lita.
If they hadn't just fired Gail Kim and Jazz, I'd MAYBE consider moving the title onto Lita, since she'd have reasonable options for challengers. But nobody consults The Rick on such matters, and so I honestly believe that Gail and Jazz are probably two of the three recently-released talents who should NOT have been cut, and am left to default to this:

Trish must win. She's more interesting than Lita, she doesn't make me pre-emptively cringe when she picks up a mic, and she's a heel, so again my "chase the heel" thing is in play. There's just no reason to do a switch here; if Lita wins the title in the same month that Gail and Jazz get fired and a useless Diva Search Loser gets a job as a mic stand, then I officially declare that WWE has no idea what the fuck they are doing with the women.

It could be as simple as Snitsky again distracting Delicate Lita with juvenile headgames... but if Simon Fucking Dean has to waste any of our time on this PPV, I'd have him briefly come out and call Lita fat (since even if it's not even remotely true, Trish has been playing that card, and Lita, dummy that she is, has acted upset by it) and create enough of a distraction that Trish wins.  I dunno.  If it was me, I'd just book it as a clean win for Trish, one that establishes her as indisputably the most awesomest woman wrestler in all of time and space, but I know that's the mancrush talking; WWE wants it to be Dramatic, and those are the two things I'm coming up with.

 

UNDERTAKER vs. HEIDENREICH
Poor, Poor Taker Match

Look, my stance on the Undertaker is pretty well-known. The guy has probably never broke through into my Top Five Favorite Wrestlers at any point during his 15 year run.  But he's never come even close to being on of my Five Least Favorites, either, and that makes me an oddity in the realm of Internet Jack-Offs.

As a wrestler, Taker is perhaps the best we've ever seen for a Big Man, and he still shows glimpses of that to this day (and that's a big reason why if it's true that he and Kurt are angling -- no pun intended -- for a WM21 showdown, I'm HAPPY about it, cuz I know full well how good that could be). And as a character? Well, you may mock my name and take away my Wrestling Guru card, if you want, but if I get a little satisfaction out of seeing an Undertaker ring entrance and him doing that thing with the eyes and taking off the hat, and re-affirming his spot at the top of the list of Best Wrestling Use of Long Hair Now That Gail Kim is Fired, then so be it. I'll make no apologies for thinking that, goddammit, Undertaker deserves better than THIS.

The story: Paul Heyman did something with the Dudleys, and they fought the Undertaker, and so as a result, Undertaker had to bury a Paul Bearer doll in cement.  I don't know.  This is pretty much equally as retarded as Lita's crap, and there's no super-hot-babe involved, so it's REALLY hard to get motivated to remember any details.

Then Taker wound up taking a few months to feud with JBL over the WWE Title, and that didn't work out so well, in part because Paul Heyman finally got himself a new charge: Prostetnic Vogon Heidenreich.  The poetry-spewing bohemoth sodomized Michael Cole (yay!), but then also decided to take out his inner pain and frustration by stuffing Undertaker into a hearse and then ramming said hearse with OJ Simpson's white Ford Bronco (boo?).  Again: retarded, and neither Taker nor Heidenreich do much for me when they wear tight jeans, so screw this noise, I'll just gloss over the details...

We discover that Heidenreich (who in addition to being a sub-par character, is also an almost-inconceivably poor in-ring worker whose matches range from god-awful  -- and that's the high end! -- to injuring his opponents -- at the low end) desires a match with Taker, and through the magic of one of SD! shittiest vignettes of the year, Paul Heyman gets Taker to sign a contract for said match. And it's on for this Sunday.  Wheee!

You know, as much as this whole mess is a waste of Taker's talents, I realize just now that it's ALSO a waste of Heyman.  Let's get the man something worthwhile to do, dammit!  I know almost NObody else on the net probably gave a shit about it, but that brief eye-contact between Heyman and Tazz last night on SD! is something that BEGS to be paid-off-upon -- especially with the ECW DVD coming out next week -- and as satisfying as it'd be to have Tazz choke out whatever's left of Heidenreich after Taker's done with him, I'd rather we try something that might have some legs!  But of course, now I'm rambling and this has nothing to do with Survivor Series' shittiest match!
  

The OOutlOOk
Undertaker wins: 6 votes 
Heidenreich wins: 1 vote

Erin Anderson Says... Undertaker d. Heidenreich.
Poor Taker. I really do like the guy, even though most of the 'net community isn't too fond of him. And really, how can he win any of them over when he's saddled with crap like Heidenreich the Tortured Poet? Don't send Heidenreich back to OVW, WWE. Fire his ass. After Taker kicks his ass, that is.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Undertaker d. Heidenreich.
I researched this match thoroughly to make sure I wasn't predicting "the same way everyone else did". I fed hours of statistics into my computer, analyzing each competitor's strength, ability and on-the-mat techniques. I interviewed countless experts, both retired and current pros, on the subject and received some eye-opening feedback. And finally, I weighed the intangibles that you just can't measure on paper, such as hometown advantage (none) and each man's willingness to win.

Then I kind of threw my hands up in the air and said "Fuck it. Undertaker's going over. Duh."

The Cubs Fan Says... Undertaker d. Heidenreich.
I actually watched SmackDown! last night, and it didn't occur me that there were PPV picks to be made until I was gloating over a correct Linda Miles pick in the death pool. So this thing is all being done as quick as possible with the hope that it's mediocre and forgettable - kinda the same hopes WWE must have for this match. Let it be quick, let it be unmemorable.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Undertaker d. Heidenreich.
I'm not the biggest Taker fan by any stretch of the imagination but I'll certainly be cheering him on in hopes that he quickly destroys Heidenreich and ends this abysmal experiment.  If only this match had happened after Summerslam like it was supposed to, Little Johnny could have been one of those 10 that felt the ax last week.  Oh well, hopefully he'll still be on borrowed time once Taker disposes of him Sunday night.
Matt Hocking Says... Undertaker d. Heidenreich.
The real winner here is the fans!  All right, let's face it, Little Jonny is a patsy, a tool in an ongoing feud between Taker and Paul Heyman, one that probably won't ever have a satisfying conclusion because Heyman isn't a worker.  However, Hnnrnnr has been...at least mildly effective in setting himself apart from just another faceless jobber for the Undertaker to run through.  In doing so, however, he hasn't made a dent in the Undertaker's armor of invincibility.  Taker's lost too many PPV matches for him to lose another, and besides, this one's a foregone conclusion.  Taker destroys Heidenreich and Heyman is forced to regroup.
PyroFalkon Says...  Heidenreich d. Undertaker.
Okay, look. For the past two PPVs Iíve predicted, there has been one match in each that seemed like a forgone conclusion. (Tajiri/Rhyno over La Resistance at Unforgiven, and John Cena over Booker T at No Mercy.) The entire OO staff got both of them wrong (except Jeb Lund correctly called the second match), and Iím starting to see a pattern.

I really hope it doesnít happen, but I can see the WWE trying to pull the mother of all swerves and giving this one to Heidenreich. In a perfect world, Taker squashes him in less than two minutes, then he becomes #11 to be fired this month. But this is the WWE weíre talking about, and if theyíve got the twisted logic to release Gail Kim, theyíll have the twisted logic to keep Heidenreich.

Rick Scaia Says... Undertaker d. Heidenreich.
I'm serious: sometimes, I'm all for extending a feud unexpectedly, but in this case... nobody cares, so let's put a bullet in it, OK?  Taker wins, and if the ring entrances and post-match don't last longer than the match itself, there is something VERY wrong.  I've heard the house show reports on these two, and seriously: 3 minutes is probably too much.

If WWE wants to surprise us, then do it after the match, once Heidenreich's ticket back to OVW has been punched, and have a new client for Heyman make a surprise appearance, or something...  other than that, I do NOT want any twists or turns.  Just Squash City, baby!

 

THE EXTRAS/CLOSING THOUGHTS

Seven matches are announced... but more are always possible...  maybe on Heat?  And with two GMs and with Tough Enough crap and Diva Search winners AND losers and myriad other talents in the building, who knows what might happen?

The trOOps try to present a few of their ideas for the Bonus Materials here....
  

The OOutlOOk

Erin Anderson Says... This is a One Trick Pony.
This PPV is really all about one match for me, and that's the RAW main event. Everything else I'm sorta lukewarm about. I'm interested to see how much Trish can carry Lita, now that she's a badass heel (and have these two even faced each other since Trish became a real wrestler?) I'm almost certain that Kane will show up and be turned full-fledge babyface by the fans, even if his actions border on the heelish side. Also of note: Heidenreich will blow at least one spot, and the cruiserweight match will be criminally short.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Eugene and Kurt Angle?
La Resistance vs. Rosey and Hurricane is YOUR Sunday Night Heat match... Expect some sort of Teddy Long vs. Eric Bischoff confrontation backstage, as was hinted at way back at SummerSlam. Another cross-brand backstage meeting I'd love to see: Eugene and Kurt Angle, but that's not a prediction, per se... Could we see a guest appearance by Kane? Another event on my wish-list: How about a real life recreation of the 2001 "Immunity Battle Royal" from Survivor Series? Bring back "The Infamous Ten" from last week for a one-night-only appearance. Only this time, don't let Test win. 
The Cubs Fan Says... This Show is Destined to be Forgotten.
Figures the worst song I've heard from the Exies is the one which the WWE pushes.

Part of the fun of Survivor Series past is people you wouldn't see team up, and who had normally reason to team up, would form ill fitting groups for the purpose of filling out matches on this show. I think it would've been fun to see something like La Resistance, Steven Richards and a debuting Dean Simon take on Tajiri, Rhyno, Hurricane and Rosey. I don't know that the match would've been special, but giving a chance for more people to interact before and during the match might spark something worth following up, rather than just leaving them as faceless members of the crowd.

They tried to make this card special by putting the control of RAW stip in, but even if those shows are neat, it'll be the RAWs that'll be remembered, not the card that led to them. For this card to mean something besides foreshadowing, there has to be a WWE Title change. Hope they think that way.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... I Must Be in the Front Row.
I predict that the HeAT match will be La Res vs. Eugene and Regal and I say they give the straps to the faces for shock value and to get the crowd charged up.
 
Since RAW is one match short, I say they follow in their tradition of having someone make their in-ring debut at Survivor Series (Taker, Rock, Angle, etc.) and have Simon Dean finally wrestle.  Who his opponent would be is beyond me.  I mean, Rosey seems obvious but who wants to see Rosey on PPV.
 
As for me, it seems, unintentionaly that I will be very anti-face at this show.  I plan on hurling a number of insults at Lita, I'll certainly be cheering for Christian, and if I get time, I think I might make a "Die Orton Die" sign.  It's unlikely you'll be able to see me on TV, my seats are good, but not great.  I'll try and type up a live report for you OO readers though and let you know how my experience was though. 
Matt Hocking Says... Not Even WWE Knows Where They're Going, So How The Fuck Am I Supposed To Predict Anything?
- They'll truck out the Tough Enough Kidz.  Only one or two will show more screen presence than Tough Enough Jessie.  Sunday's stunt?  Trying to get Kamala to go...they already used that one?  Damn.
-At least one pair of announcers will take a shot at TNA's PPV, however it will be so veiled that only some stupid Internet nerd with nothing better to do than follow this ridiculous cookie and balloon filled feud will notice it.  I will be thrilled.
-Heat will probably feature a World Tag Team Title shot of some sort.  Or not.  Who knows.  Maybe Tajiri will wrestle.  Also:  Don't be surprised if Maven ends up injured to be replaced by somebody...over.

This is a good PPV to test a previewer's thoughs on, if for no other reason than because the WWE hasn't really made the direction they want to go from here clear, which is great.  Randy Orton will win the Royal Rumble, but what will Triple H do in the meantime?  Face opposition from his own supposed supporters?  Or face down the guys who want nothing more than to see Evolution's power bloc split?  Will Kurt Angle remain the dominant guy on Smackdown, or will somebody like Big Show, Eddie, or hell even Booker T step up and take control of the major storylines of the brand?  Survivor Series asks a lot of questions but provides VERY few answers.  I think those answers will become clear in time and starting with this card, but with no clear direction things HAVE to go heading into Wrestlemania (especially with so many major stars on the shelf), this could very well be the most varied
and interesting PPV so far this year.
PyroFalkon Says...  What Is This, OOGN?
I stopped watching wrestling about the time Hogan switched back to the gold and red. Now Iíve watched two of the three PPVs since September, and Iíve already ordered this one. Itís great to be back, or something.

Hey, this may not be IGN, but do yourself a favor: do NOT buy WWE: RAW vs. SmackDown! for the PlayStation 2. Unless you simply MUST have the newest theme music and entrances, itís not worth it. They didnít add any new match types, and the new voiceovers and commentary are all crap. The roster was slashed considerably from last time. You canít swap your RAW and SmackDown! rosters around. Season Mode has eliminated all belts except for the top two on each show (World Heavyweight and IC for RAW, WWE Heavyweight and US for SD).

Itís simply inferior to SmackDown!: Here Comes the Pain. Go get that instead, and youíll save yourself enough money to buy Survivor Series this Sunday.

The only thing this latest one has going for it is the addition of Bret Hart as an unlockable legend. His music and entrance are intact, right down to him giving his sunglasses to someone in the audience. And yeah, the Create-A-PPV and Create-A-Belt are kinda cool. But honestly, itís not enough to make the game. I wonít sell RAW vs. SmackDown!, but it may already be bound for a permanent place in my reserve drawer, where I keep all my games I donít play anymore.

But DO buy Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Hey, if Rick says heís going to get a PS2 just for that, you know it must be good!

Oh, and remember, if youíre going to buy me a Christmas present, I want WWE: The Music: v6: ThemeAddict. The sub-, sub-sub-, and sub-sub-subtitles may be pointless, but it has Evolutionís theme in it, so I want it.

Rick Scaia Says... It's All About Time Management.
Since RAW is shorted by one match on the PPV, I expect they do the Heat match....  best thing I can think of off the top of my head would be using La Resistance (since they always warm up a crowd), either against Tajiri/Rhyno or against Regal/Eugene.  Maybe the latter!  Because I STILL want Tajiri to replace Maven in the main event!

For pure time-wasters, I expect GM Bischoff probably gets more TV time than GM Long, just because of the storyline with his pending vacation. Alternatively, if my hyper-obsessive Jack-Offery is correctly placed, maybe the two GMs waste time TOGETHER in a skit, something that might further lay the foundation for a blockbuster trade or talent raid (JBL has said he might leave SD!, HHH has made ominous comments the last few weeks). Also: I live in fear of Simon Dean getting 15 minutes of in-ring time to drop anvils on us all, and suspect that they won't have the good sense to leave the Tough Enough schmucks at home, so.... well, prove me wrong, WWE, prove me wrong.  You'll get the Time Management right ONE of these times, I'm sure....

I'm also a fan of using the joint-brand events to portion out a few cross-brand interactions. Another Cena/Orton confrontation? Maybe if neither set of tag champs work matches, you can do a funny little bit in which La Resistance meet up with their old companion Rene Dupree and his fellow tag champ Suzuki for some comedy?  I dunno, but I hope that somebody put some thought into a few bits of this nature. 

 
So check out Survivor Series on Sunday night... there look to be at least a few really interesting matches lined up, and if WWE handles things wisely, this could well surprise people as a really excellent event (other than Taker/Heidenreich, I honestly think there is a chance for every other match to kick ass, it's just a question of time management, booking decisions, and intangibles in the presentation that will dictate the overall effect).

Or if you must take a pass, I'll be posting my immediate post-show Survivor Series PPV Recap sometime proximate to midnight on Sunday!  See you then....


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: 18 Seconds? NO! NO! NO!
 
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
 
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
 
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
 
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
 
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Backfired!
 
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
 
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
 
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
 
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: In-BRO-pendence Day
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
 
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: #striketwo
 
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
 
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: You're Welcome
 
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Needs More Kane?
 
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Lady Power
 
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
 
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
 
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
 
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
 
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
 
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
 
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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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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