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New Year's Revolution PPV Preview
January 7, 2005

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


WHEEE!  What a way to kick off the wrestling year, with another extra PPV that absolutely *NO*body was asking for.
Except, god damn then straight to hell, WWE managed to throw together one particularly promising and enthralling main event match. So I can't sit here and pull the "If it wasn't for you fine readers, I probably wouldn't even care enough to watch this show."  Nope. Cuz it's not my nature to pass on a gimmick match with so many interesting and interwoven 

stories and six talented performers (plus Randy Orton) all together inside a massive steel structure.  Nope, that's kinda something I know I won't see on a Monday night, and something I kinda suspect might be worth checking out.

Now, as for the rest of the show? Well, there really isn't anything there that doesn't seem like it'd be more at home on the aforementioned hypothetical Monday night show. Closure on Kane/Snitsky will be nice to have, I guess, but I have no illusions about the match being any good; just an excuse for (hopefully) good storytelling. At least we know that SOME of the things on the undercard is the stuff of a GOOD Monday Night Show (Lita vs. Trish).  

So basically, that's WWE's battle on Sunday night: taking one big-ass match and all its storylines and ruling the multiverse with it, but only AFTER keeping us relatively distracted and entertained for the previous two hours of fluff.

And of course, OO's battle is to predict PPVs better than the Swine at WrestleLine.  For that cross-site competition, we're instituting a new scoring system which will be overseen and audited by our very own PyroFalkon...  so keep an eye out for that. And just remember that despite the new system, there's still no scoring category for flat out being the coolest, awesomest, wittiest, and best looking Wrestling Website Staff in the world. And worse, there's nobody keeping track of the many ways that The Rick is more right than WWE even when he picks the matches wrong because his way would have made more sense!  So OO gets shafted before the predictioning even begins!  

And the predictioning for Sunday's announced six-match New Year's Revolution PPV card? It begins NOW.....

Elimination Chamber Match for the Vacant World Title; with Special Referee Shawn Michaels

This match is the dictionary definition of "The ends justifying the means."  Or at least coming close to it.

Look, WWE *still* deserves all due bitchslaps for badly bungling the Guest GM gimmick and the lazy and moronic way they got us to the point where the World Title was left vacant. The Guest GM thing was a cornucopia of possibilities for creative and original ways to relieve Triple H of the World Title. Not a single one of those opportunities was pursued, because as we've learned lately, WWE's creative team is not exactly a cornucopia of originality. And may even be sitting out there wondering, "What is this cornucopia of which Rick speaks? Is it perhaps some kind of light rail?"...

So instead of doing anything that'd be logical or compelling with regards to the World Title, they just forge ahead with a silly and uninspired four weeks that had the net effect of destroying Chris Jericho's main event credibility, did only slightly less damage to Chris Benoit, might have nominally helped Edge, and served mostly to protect Triple H from dropping the title in a meaningful fashion. In a three way match, Edge tapped out at the exact same time that he rolled over and pinned Benoit for a three count, all while HHH looked on from ringside. And though that'd be a "draw" in most situations, and the champ would retain, our lazy-ass storytelling meant we carted Vince McMahon out in front of the audience (the answer to a question nobody asked) to usurp the alleged power of the RAW GM and declare the title vacant. Thrilling.

And yet, now it's a month later, and guess what? I might have been able to write the past 2 months of RAW in a way that'd have been an estimated 378 times more compelling and sensible, but I'd still have had absolutely NO problem ending up at this same end point that WWE's idiot creative team did. Those seven guys, with all the storyline baggage they've got, inside the Elimination Chamber with the World Title on the line? Wow.  It's almost enough to make you forget about WHY they ended up in there.  Almost.

The one area in which WWE cannot be faulted even on bit over the past couple months has been in the slow build-up of Batista. I couldn't have improved on the Batista/HHH dynamic a bit; but I'm quite confident that I'd not have un-improved upon it, for the simple reason that the coolest thing about Batista right now is that he's the one guy on this show who seems like he's saying exactly what I'd say in any given situation. I mean, word for word in spots; in the last month, Batista stole my old stand-by, "Don't tell me, SHOW me," and I don't even know how many times I, as a pretty cool and collected cat, have had to reassure somebody that "Hey, I got feelings, I just express 'em differently."  That Batista: how can you NOT love him?

Batista actually stands central to this entire match. The most compelling issue coming into the Chamber is just how loyal Batista will be to Triple H; forget HHH vs. Orton, the fans have spoken (and not just the jack-offs on the internet!), and they seem to be more into the possibility of Batista splitting from HHH than they are in seeing another chapter in the HHH/Orton feud. The last 2 months has been masterfully played in this regard: Batista, because he's smart, logical, and reasonable, hasn't done the dumb-ass Usual Pro Wrestler Thing of instigating a feud with HHH.  He might know he's a super-mega-ultra-ass-kicker, but he also knows that Membership Has Its Privileges.  So why not ride out Evolution as long as it doesn't TOTALLY cramp his style?  His newfound self-confidence has resulted in a few little digs at HHH and some good-natured friction, but at the end of the day, Batista's toeing that line, and not going over it.  Which kind of puts the ball back in HHH's court: he certainly can't LIKE Batista's behavior lately, but he also can't really do anything about it without over-reacting. Batista's always stopped short of outright insubordination, and has always rededicated himself to The Team and The Plan when asked about it, point blank. HHH may be annoyed by Batista, but he is also powerless to do much of anything except put up with it. Unless he wants to piss the Big Man off. And as we've learned, HHH might not like Big Ol' Dave when he's pissed off.

So it's an impasse. A tasty, delicious impasse.  Batista's all "Hey, I'm awesome, I don't gotta take any shit from any man, but I also think it's pretty cool having a couple guys covering my back. So look, Trips, I ain't gonna do something stupid and quit Evolution, so if you don't like what I'm saying and doing, it's up to *you* to get rid of me. If you got the balls."  And Triple H is all "Dammit, Batista, just give me ONE really good excuse and I'll do to you what I did to Orton. Except: oh shit, if I do, Evolution is just me and Ric, and frankly, I'm kind of scared of you, so... OK, I'm not gonna get rid of you. Yet."

What else we got in this match? Well, obviously, WWE would prefer if you thought that Randy Orton's Density was a particularly compelling aspect of this match. Certainly, going back to August, the Fed's been planting the seeds for Orton vs. HHH to be the "money match" at WrestleMania 21, and in the latest chapter of their "red hot" (ahem) feud Orton pinned HHH in a singles match just this past Monday (albeit after a seven-man schmozz). But the heat to that Monday night match (or more specifically, lack there of) should have been an indication to someone that HHH vs. Orton (in its current form), is NOT box office gold. The moment when HHH and Orton face off for the first time in the Chamber will probably get the Loud But Quickly Dissipating kind of heat... and then the crowd will sit down and wait for something actually interesting.

And that's where Edge might be vital. As one of only two true heels in the match, Edge needs to multi-task a bit, just like HHH. Except that instead of having issues with Batista and Orton, Edge has heat with Chris Benoit and referee Shawn Michaels.  It's actually quite elegant the way the three are interconnected, since you can basically go back to Taboo Tuesday and it all starts there. For a few weeks, these three men were jockeying for positioning in fan voting to earn a shot at Triple H's World Title. Obviously, they didn't get along... and things got worse at the PPV. Michaels won the fan voting. But per a stipulation, the two vote losers, Benoit and Edge, were forced to team up and challenge for the Tag Team Championship. After Edge walked out on the match, Benoit essentially won the titles by himself; Edge returned to the building only to burn his bridge with Michaels by screwing him out of the World Title with a main event run-in. And after a few weeks of kvetching about the tag titles being a "consolation prize," Edge flamed whatever remnants of a bridge he might have had with Benoit by costing him the tag titles in a rematch against La Resistance. [The Benoit/Edge partnership actually goes back to the summer, when the two had an entirely more cordial and civilized title reign together. And you know I loves me some of that continuity!]

So anyway, those three got a TON of history and stuff that I think will play well in the match.  Michaels position as a referee, instead of as a competitor, is curious. Obviously, his biggest beef is with Edge, and HBK might be in this spot for no reason more complicated that jump-starting a WM21 feud with Edge. But Michaels has a bunch of history with Evolution (back when Randy Orton was in Evolution, HBK feuded extensively with Randall; and obviously there's the 10-year-saga that is HBK/HHH; and Batista, well, he was standing around for parts of those feuds, right?), sparred more than once with Chris Benoit this past spring once Benoit inserted himself into the World Title Picture, and has a long-standing issue with Jericho that seems to have given way to Mutual Respect, but in a promo as recently as this past fall, hadn't COMPLETELY evaporated. So Michaels, he could literally do anything in this match. He could help anybody, he could screw anybody over, and that's kinda interesting.

Oh, and Jericho? Well, you've got one little trio (HHH, Batista, Orton) over here doing some interesting stuff.  You've got another little trio (Edge, Benoit, Michaels) over there doing equally interesting stuff.  And you've got Jericho stuck with no real reason to be in this match other than the fact that WWE needed six, and Jericho has the magical ability to get fans reacting to him like a main event mega-star no matter HOW shittily WWE books him. He's got tangential issues with Edge and with Evolution, but really, he's in there because he's a warm body, and one who'll get the fans into the match.  It's really quite an amazing trick he pulls.  And I'm going to keep on mentioning that I find Jericho's mind-control over the fans to be "Jedi-like" until it sticks.  Perhaps if I've fashioned myself as "The Whiskey Ninja," Jericho shall adopt the mantle of "The Promo Jedi."  Or something.  And yeah, I'm rambling because really, there's not a whole lot else to say about Jericho in this match, and even if he's not got a chance in hell to win, I wanted him to get a full paragraph like everyone else.

So that's the story of the match, but how about the STRUCTURE of the match? The chamber is a domed, steel structure encompassing not just the ring, but the entire ringside area; there's no getting in or out, but as we've learned in the past, there *is* plenty of opportunity for passing things in and out of the chamber. Ric Flair, I'm looking at you, bub. The match starts with two men in the ring, and the four other guys locked inside of "internal chambers" made of plexiglass.  After a "predetermined amount of time" (WWE's words, not mine; they are obviously hedging bets and won't set the time until Sunday night when they know how long the show is running; but in the past, I think it was five minutes both times), one of the internal chambers is opened up, and another man joins the fight. This repeats until all four internal chambers are empty and all six men have been released. Note that this does not mean that all six men will ever fight in the ring at the same time, since eliminations happen by pinfall or submission, and somebody might go down before all the internal chambers are empty.  After five eliminations, the last man standing is the winner and the new World Champ.

The order of entry is determined randomly. Except in this case, we know that Batista has earned the right to enter the match last; he'll have to stand by and watch 20 minutes of action before he comes in as the fresh man to pick apart the carcasses of those who've been hard at work since the start of the match.  I like this idea a lot. I'm just terrified that because of this, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler will have an excuse to shoe-horn the phrase "Caged Animal" into commentary an estimated 1.48 billion times, causing my head to explode. Maybe that alone is motivation enough to watch this show at Hooters, where I normally can't make out any of the commentary? And while they're abusing the "caged animal" phrase, I bet neither of them has as awesome a call for the moment when Batista is finally loosed... for if you put me on headsets, that is when I shout, "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!". Hey sorry, I was like six when that movie was all over HBO, and I didn't know any better than to think it was awesome!

Bottom line, you got six guys in here who can take care of business, and you've got Randy Orton who can usually be counted on to be competent as long as microphones and chinlocks aren't involved. You've got tons of interesting stories.  You've got a unique gimmick match being utilized for only the third time ever.  And you've got no clear-cut favorite, just a bunch of opportunity and ambiguity. In short, you've got all the tools for an outstanding, dramatic, climactic 45-minute-plus main event match. Sign me up.

The OOutlOOk
Triple H wins: 9 votes   --|--  Edge wins: 1 vote
Anybody Else wins: 0 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Triple H wins.
This match is insanely hard to predict, but I'm going to try and break it down as best I can. Orton got the final say on RAW, so logic dictates that he won't win here. Jericho won't win, no matter how much I hope and pray it. Same for Benoit, probably. Batista... he's an intriguing choice, but I think that it's important to have a heel holding the title leading into Wrestlemania, and the fans have made it pretty clear that they're on the Big Man's side. Edge? If I were a booker, I'd probably pick him to win. But I'm not, and I doubt that WWE would put the title on an unproven World Champion heading into the biggest PPV of the year.

So that leaves Triple H. I don't want him to win this, because RAW is far more interesting when he's not holding the strap. But I think that he will. Of course, Shawn Michaels throws a wrench into all that: wouldn't he screw over Trips any chance he got? Not necessarily. The last time I recall a special guest ref being brought in for a big gimmick match (Foley), the heel still won in the end. And if HBK does screw someone over, it doesn't have to be on the final, champion-determining pinfall. So I think that Edge will be the one "screwed over" by Michaels. And he doesn't even have to really be screwed; he just has to pitch a hissy fit after the fact about losing and blame HBK. A feud between those two leading into Mania would rule. But there's always a possibility that HBK will turn heel here (because if Batista really is turning, WWE needs to balance out the roster a bit) and arrrggg. This is impossible.

Thinking that way, Edge probably goes out early (first or second), then Jericho. Benoit should stick around, and probably be the third man eliminated. That leaves Triple H and Batista as your final two, and drama all over the place. Batista gets screwed, and Triple H wins. I think. Trips will win if WWE still has its heart set on Orton/Trips at Mania, but I can somehow see Batista creeping into there somewhere. If Batista doesn't turn full-fledged face here (and how the final minutes of this match play out will depend on whether he does or not), I wouldn't be surprised to see him do so the next night. If not then, then he'll tease it for a while and finally pull the trigger at the Rumble. And now I'm just rambling and overthinking this. Trips wins. As usual.

Canadian Bulldog Says... Triple H wins.
As always, I'm looking ahead to WrestleMania here, and (I think) a reasonably safe assumption at this point is that we're having HHH/Orton/Batista main-eventing the Raw side, with Cena-JBL on the SmackDown side.

That said, giving the The Game his belt back makes the most sense -- no one will feel ripped off if he drops it at Mania (if, say, Batista won it here, we'd be upset that he got a short run with the belt), and it keeps both Batista and Orton hungry for a main event. Why not have Batista win here and defend at Mania? Well, the odds don't seem to favor the champion at WrestleMania by, what, a 1:19 ratio?

I'm also going to predict that special referee Shawn Michaels sides with HHH in this one, adding another dimension to the Ex-Evolution WrestleMania main event I'm predicting. I'm also guessing the following order of elimination:

1) Jericho 2) Edge 3) Benoit 4) Orton 5) Batista

The Cubs Fan Says... Triple H wins.
The problem with HHH winning is you've just hit a reset button, and the vacant title bit looks transparently like an easy way to inflate his title reigns. Which is perfectly fine if that's the point, but I think it's going to annoy everyone a bit.

If you don't and use Benoit or Jericho or even Edge to be an go between champion (I think it'd be insane to give it to Orton or Batista in this match without more buildup), you're scheduling an extra title change for a belt that'll already have five between SummerSlam and WrestleMania (Benoit-> Orton-> HHH-> Vacant-> [whoever->] HHH-> Orton.) That seems equally insane.

Triple H winning is the easier answer, and so that's the one I'm going with.
Matt Hocking Says... Triple H wins.
Entry:  Edge and Jericho, Benoit, Triple H, Orton, Batista

Elimination:  Edge, Jericho, Benoit, Orton, Batista

Edge doesn't deserve it, Jericho hasn't done enough to warrant a tile run lately, Benoit hasn't really been close enough to the main event, Orton wouldn't be of any help with the title right now, and...That leaves us with Triple H and Batista.  Damn.  Uh...I'm not all for Dave being the champion yet, so Triple H wins his title back, and all these last few months spent getting the title off him were in vain.

How about some possible...ew...fantasy booking...I think Jericho and Edge will start off, because it's one of the more likely pairings to get the crowd hot and start out with a good wrestling ratio.  Benoit is in before the first elimination.  Edge goes for a pin before Hunter gets in, but doesn't get it.  He freaks out and lays out Shawn, but Shawn Hulks up and superkicks him for an easy out and sets up the Mania match.  Hunter pins Jericho coming out to keep that ball rolling.  This gives them time to do a Benoit/Hunter sequence in the middle to allow for a little rest for the crowd with a slower pace.  Orton comes in next, and after a few minutes of back and forth between the three, scores a pin on Benoit with the RKO out of nowhere.  Dave comes out and Team Evolution dominates Randy for an easy pin.  Now you're left with the most compelling final two (and the one the WWE's
built for).  Hunter asks Dave to lay down, but Batista won't budge.  They tangle and Batista gets the better of the exchange, thrilling Michaels, and scaring Hunter.  After he fails to take advantage, Hunter goes low on Michaels and Batista and begs Flair to pass him something to beat Batista.  Flair balks, and a frustrated Hunter barely gets a pin after two Pedigrees.

It sets up at least two Mania matches (Edge/Michaels and Batista/Triple H), it utilizes Jericho, Benoit and Orton to their fullest potential int his match, and furthers the storyline of Flair's place in the breakup of Evolution.  I don't like that the end result is Triple H with the World Title again, but I honestly can't see it going any other way at this point as there isn't really a compelling reason to give the title to anybody else in the match except MAYBE Batista, but it's really too soon for that.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Triple H wins.
No Comments Included.
Jeb Lund Says... Triple H wins.
I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve picked against Triple H in every multi-wrestler main event and Elimination Chamber match, and that bastard burns me every time. So I’m voting for him this time – not because it makes sense or is even most desirable, but because I’m sick of arguing myself into things that would be fun for me to see, then seeing the least fun option round out the end of the match once again.

Who would I prefer to see win it? Well, Jericho, but I know that makes no sense. I think Benoit or Edge would make excellent champions, and I pretty much oppose only Orton and Batista as champions. Here’s what I hope happens:

  • Michaels commits no interference. It’s too obvious to me. Just be surprising and call a good match.

  • Triple H and Batista interact somewhat ambiguously, but WWE does not pull the trigger on his betrayal of Triple H. Not yet.

  • Jericho eliminates Orton within 90 seconds. Okay, okay, I can dream though, right?

Here’s the thing with this match: I don’t think WWE has a WrestleMania main-event plan anymore. I think they saw that Project Orton was stalling out and decided that they’d – and this is weird – let the audience dictate who they wanted to see in the main event. So, really, any outcome for this match is okay, because WWE probably won’t have their ‘Mania main event plotted out until the week before the Royal Rumble. They can screw around and try different things for the rest of the month without worrying about committing to anything. Of course, that makes this the perfect moment to put the belt on anyone other than Triple H. But that makes sense; this is the WWE; and people would like that. Which means it won’t happen. And again, I’m not betting against Triple H in these matches anymore.

"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Triple H wins.
In 2005, I resolve to actually try to predict the outcome of matches, rather than allow my own booking preferences to cloud my soothsaying. That means none of The Three Hosers will win.

I believe the plan will be to put the strap on HHH in order to build up for any number of possible scenarios heading into Wrestlemania, including but not limited to HHH v. Orton, HHH v. Batista and HHH v. HBK (or more likely another Triple Threat match - these are getting stale fast). So HHH gets the duke here.

I think we'll start with Edge and Jericho, based on their fight last time out on RAW. Then we'll add in Benoit, then HHH, then Orton and finally Batista. The big guy will clean house at the end and tease beating on HHH, but in the end will (perhaps grudgingly) aid Trips in winning the title - probably by doing something very nasty to Orton.

I'm also looking for extra shenanigans between Flair and Michaels, since they've been booked for at least one match coming up. And blood. Lots of blood.
PyroFalkon Says...  Triple H wins.
Let’s look at this thing scientifically. Jericho is underrated by the WWE, and he ain’t gonna win the belt. Edge is in the same boat as Jericho, in my opinion; his time to get the belt is not now. Batista is the “gimmick winner” of the match and, similar to the Royal Rumble #30 entrant, probably won’t win because it’s “too easy.” Besides, he hasn’t been in the spotlight enough to get the belt. Benoit is probably as far from the WWE’s minds as Jericho and Edge are. That leaves Randy Orton and Triple H, and if they’re still wanting to do that match for Wrestlemania 21, then Triple H is going to win it here. I hate thinking that, because the one I really want to see win the belt is Batista simply because of the storyline implications, but that’s not going to happen.

Here’s what I imagine going down. Obviously, if someone gets eliminated before all six guys are in the ring, then the audience is going to feel dicked out of their money. So I figure Trips will be in trouble since he’ll be outnumbered anyway with Y2J, Benoit, Orton, and possibly Edge all beating the shit out of him. Enter Batista, and he’ll clean house. Since Jericho is voted Least Likely to Succeed, he goes first.

A heel will have to go next, and that won’t be either Evolution member, so Edge is gone second. Benoit is more expendable than Randy Orton (according to the E), so he’s out third. Now, at some point during the three-man exchange, Batista will somehow knock Triple H silly. That will result in Triple H hitting the Pedigree or something on him, and pinning him for three as punishment. But since it’s “every man for himself,” Trips will be doing Broad Gesturing to indicate he didn’t REALLY want to, but he had to.

And then Randy Orton will whiff some RKOs and hit some chinlocks, and Shawn Michaels will be doing everything in his power to help him without actually helping him. Shawn will take a bump, probably plaster Orton because he thinks he did it, and then count a slow three after Trips hits a Pedigree. And Shawn will be pissed, but he’ll be all “I’ll enter the Rumble and get you at Wrestlemania,” or something. But now I’m fantasy booking, so I’ll shut up.

This is a new year, so Triple H has not jobbed to anyone yet. He needs to build up his street cred or whatever by winning early. But even if he gets it, it will be a hell of a match, and that’s all that really matters, right?

Big Danny T Says... Triple H wins.
Lets see. Jericho? Not really a contender at this point. Orton? I think WWE is seeing the futility of force feeding him as world champ to us. Benoit? Not in the right place for it right now. Edge? The whining and crying won't net him the title. At least, not yet.

So my prediction for the Elimination Chamber: Edge and Orton start, Jericho in next. Orton eliminated at this point (face miscommunication?) Next in is HHH. Jericho eliminated, and HHH sneak attacks Edge and they fight until Benoit comes in and starts whipping everyones ass. Batista in, Edge Eliminated, Benoit eliminated, HBK spuerkicks both Batista and HHH for the MASSIVE CROWD POP!™ and just to show that he's not a man to be reckoned lightly with. Both men back up, Batista falls prey to a pedigree, HHH is your champ, but with Batista sniffing around for a one-on-one the next night on Raw.
Rick Scaia Says... Edge wins.
OK, so I'm with Erin: I can't fricking figure this one out. And I've really been trying to the past couple days. It constantly seems like the key to the whole thing is right in front of my face... distill it down to "First Principles," ask the most basic questions possible, determine the answers, and develop a theory. Except I don't even fricking know what questions to ask at this point. As recently as last night, I thought, "Why'd they have Shawn Michaels in there as a ref unless he wasn't gonna be integral to the finish?" was the key. But I got talked down off that.  Obviously I've thought, "Why'd they do the Guest GM thing and vacate the title if they still thought that Somebody vs. HHH for the belt at WM was the plan?", too.

And then I realize that Michaels could just call the match pretty much down the middle, and that HHH could regain the title and seem like an even bigger cock sucker if he shows up the next night on RAW, bragging about how the entire world is out to take his title, but he keeps winning it back, and the whole vacancy thing might have just been to make the EVENTUAL title loss at Mania seem even bigger.  It's enough to make my head explode. But in kind of a good way, if that makes sense.  I don't know what's gonna happen, and since the only thing that could happen that'd piss me off is Orton winning, I figure I have a 5-in-6 chance of being pleasantly surprised on Sunday.

You know what I'd really like to see happen is that you do all the expected storytelling with Batista and HHH, but at the end of the night, the title ends up in the OTHER half of the match; the Evolution thing doesn't need the title, it gains nothing from the title, it's already as over as it's gonna be. But Michaels, Benoit, Edge, those guys could use the boost, and they are fresher and less exposed.

Plus, how fucking cool would it be to have HHH eliminated first? Think about it: it's TOTALLY logical to have the other guys in the match (maybe save for Edge) realize that they need to team up and get rid of HHH before Batista enters the match. Start out with HHH vs. Benoit, just because that'll be more exciting for 5 minutes than HHH vs. Orton; then Jericho in, and the Canadian Chrisses are USED to working as a team, and the dynamic writes itself. HHH vs. Two Guys. I can even envision the camera cuts to the internal chambers: Batista masterfully conveying ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (not because he's inept at the acting but because the situation calls for him to be broadcasting unreadable ANTI-emotion), and Orton is doing that involuntary twitch thing he does, making it clear that he'd LOVE to get into the ring next and get him a piece of that HHH.  And sure enough, Orton's released next.

And 3-on-1, that's bad news. HHH even swallows his pride and starts gesturing towards Batista (like "Hey man, get in here") and Flair gets in on the act, and Batista finally shows some emotion: he realizes he needs to help the boss. As HHH gets his ass handed to him (Triple Germans, Lionsault, and wait for it... here comes the RKO!), and as the countdown clock reaches zero for Edge's entry into the match, Batista does something so utterly and simply BAD ASS that anybody out there who isn't a fan already will be: Batista gets balanced, gets set, and.... CRASHES THROUGH THE PLEXIGLASS CAGE WITH A MIGHTY SHOULDERBLOCK! The Kraken is released, but here's the thing: He's one second too late.  Orton gets the pinfall on HHH before Batista can break up the count.  Here, we get more camera cuts: first, to Edge, who was supposed to enter the match now, but who broadly gestures as if to say, "Um, ref, I think Batista took my spot; I think I'll stay in here and take it easy for a bit longer." Then to Michaels, who first makes it his business to start shooing HHH towards the exit and who then declares that Batista is now in the match legally, and Edge can enter last. Then to Batista, who is looking mighty jacked-up, but with just a tinge of disappointment that he didn't get the job done.  Then to HHH, who stares in awe at Batista and then to the busted cage and then back to Batista; he might WANT to berate the Big Man for being a second too late, but then again, maybe this isn't a guy HHH wants to piss off (so HHH just leaves, along with Flair).  And finally, to Benoit, Jericho, and Orton, who suddenly realize they've got a massive 310-lbs. problem to deal with.  As soon as HHH is shuttled out of the chamber, the Chrisses decide to suck it up and attack Batista, while Orton (just because he's never NOT a pussy in my book) holds back.

Until Edge is released, it's a total heat sequence for Batista, though.  He destroys Benoit and Jericho, and finally Orton has to get him some.  Orton and Batista kind of pair up, and once Edge is released last, he and the Chrisses are married to each other (in the Utah sense, I guess). A few minutes of action, and maybe some miscommunication between the Chrisses leads to Jericho being eliminated by Edge.  A perfect chance to change things up, and based on their match six days before, Benoit decides to try him some more Batista, and the two kick some ass (with Benoit being the first guy to get extended offense in on Batista all night), while Edge and Orton rekindle their mutual love for chinlocks off to one side.  Then maybe they trade back for Edge vs. Benoit and Orton vs. Batista, with the "heels" regaining control; this should be a pretty lengthy segment, I'm thinking. But then Benoit and Orton fire it up at the same time, and start partnering up to get the better of Batista and Edge. Together, they put Batista down for a minute, and then target Edge. Benoit gets the Sharpshooter locked in on Edge, but Orton, he's a douchebag: just before Edge is gonna tap out, he sneaks up behind Benoit and takes him down with an RKO out of nowhere. 1, 2, 3, and Benoit is eliminated.  Making everybody's favorite kind of gestures (the Broad kind), Orton makes it clear that Edge is now easy pickin's, since he just spent a minute in the Sharpshooter.  He does his Rocky Stalk, waiting for Edge to regain his feet....  but Orton, he aint' too bright: he forgot about somebody.  Just as Orton's lining up another RKO, he's WAFFLED from behind by Batista's patented K.O.-thesline!  Edge powders out for a moment, leaving Batista -- who I'm guessing would now be bigger than Jesus (hey, we're in Puerto Rico, so I OBVIOUSLY meant the famous former Bouricua! So keep it to yourself, Red Staters!) with the live fans -- to pick up Orton's limp carcass, and turn it into jelly with the sit-out powerbomb.  1, 2, 3, and Orton is eliminated.  While Michaels gets Orton out of the ring, Batista screams, growls, and poses menacingly as the crowd begins chanting his name, sensing a genuine Break Out Moment.

But Edge has had a minute or two to recover, and while Batista is posing on a turnbuckle, Edge comes up from behind, and takes Batista down with an uppercut to the nutsac. And Batista's tough, but he's still a guy, and that don't feel good.  So we enter the Final Phase: Edge using every dirty trick in the book to keep Batista at bay, and with copious arguing between spots with Shawn Michaels (since that'll slow the pace down for the Big Man, as we ARE asking him to work about 25-30 minutes of ring time, here) giving fans periodic hope that if Edge stays distracted too long, Batista might start his comeback.  But no dice.  In fact, Batista is down, and Edge is arguing with Michaels when suddenly out comes Ric Flair, and he's got a seemingly-reluctant HHH in tow.  Flair's body language says, "Hey, we gotta get down there and help Batista," but you can't be sure HHH wants Batista to win this thing.  But finally, Flair wins out, and the two head towards the ring. The mere distraction is enough to open the door for Batista's comeback. It doesn't look like he'll need any more help, but now HHH seems focused on giving it to him, anyway. HHH starts looking under the ring, and Ref Michaels has seen this before, and is quite vigilant; but over on another side of the ring, Flair tries to feed in a pair of brass knucks... but Michaels catches that at the last second and sprints over to that side of the ring to put a stop to it. But that's exactly when HHH finds what he wants: trusty Sledge Hammer!  He squeezes it through the mesh, and tries to slide it across to the other side of the ring, where Batista was confabbing with Flair... except HHH nancies it, and the sledgehammer ends up in dead center of the ring. Almost directly in the hands of Edge....  while Michaels is distracted with trying to eject Flair, Edge grabs the sledge and pounds Batista in the back of the neck with it. Now, it's HHH's turn to look absolutely unemotional and unreadable; did he short the sledge toss on purpose, maybe?  Batista drops to his knees, where Edge lines up one final shot to the head.  And Batista is out.

Edge tosses the sledge and locks in his semi-Sharpshooter submission (I was told it's the "Edge-u-cator," but dammit, it needs a new, non-gay name).  Michaels turns back to the match to see an unconscious Batista locked in a submission move.  Michaels has no love for Edge, and doesn't want to call for the bell.  But Edge is trashtalking ("he's out, just ring the bell, asshole"), and even after Michaels gives Batista all the time possible (with the whole "raise the arm three times thing," and AGAIN I'm betting that the crowd would go nuts wanting Batista's arm to stay up the third time; but it doesn't), Shawn has no choice but to ring the bell.  Your new World Champion: Edge.  After the match, Edge turns the Dick Knob up to 11, and insists on Michaels raising his hand, and insists on Michaels helping him but the title belt on, and stuff like that.  As Flair and HHH tend to Batista (their story to be told tomorrow night), I vote for one final swerve: when Edge asks Michaels to raise his hand one time too many, Edge eats the Sweet Chin Music.  Edge is the champ, Michaels is the last man standing for a semi-happy ending, but the real story is Batista.

So fuck it: that was so much fun, I'm not gonna predict anything else.  Edge wins; my order of elimination is HHH, then Jericho, then Benoit, then Orton, then Batista.  Some combination of Edge, Michaels, and Benoit can fight over the World Title (Jericho can hop in, if he wants; and if Orton's antics with Benoit lead to his heel re-turn, so can he, but at this point, I honestly just think you have Randall mark time till you can Lottery him over to SD! for a reset) leading to WM; and tell me the story of Evolution won't have just gotten about a billion times more awesome.  There's STILL no clear cut "break-up," but the tensions are mounting in a delicious way; was Batista slow on purpose, did HHH short the sledge on purpose, nobody's sure, so Evolution keeps on hanging together by a thread, even as the current dynamic becomes even MORE pronounced. Batista will be THE lead babyface on RAW if you book the Chamber like this, and I think you slow burn it: Batista finally breaks off from Evolution and faces HHH at Mania, and then sets his sights on the asshole who beat him in the Chamber (only AFTER stealing his Last Entry Slot and using a sledge): Batista wins the World Title at SummerSlam, unseating Edge.  Gots to take it slow, but if at any point things start to go wrong with Edge on top (and they decide to show less faith in him than in JBL), you got Benoit and Michaels sitting right there to take the belt from him.

Sorry for turning my predictions into some rather involved Fantasy Booking, there...  the real deal won't be nearly this cool, and now, we'll all be disappointed. What can I say? It's a gift I have.


Women's Title Match

I'd be super-fired-up to explain to you how awesome it is to see a feud that's genesis dates back about 14 months FINALLY coming to PPV fruition... except that then I stop and think and realize there's nothing particularly surprising that Lita and Trish are still going strong over a year since they got hooked up in storylines: because they are essentially the entire Women's Division.  That's it: it's them, and that's so wrong for so many reasons, but it also explains why this feud has lasted so long.  Because WWE are a bunch of retards, and there's simply nothing that could take it's place at this point in time.

Still, whatever the reasons for the extensive history between these two, it's still laid the foundation for a storyline that fans seem to really enjoy, and if you've got a women's division storyline fans are into, that's cool with me. I'll try to repress my rage long enough to accentuate the positive elements of this rivalry, while ignoring the underlying negative elements.

Basically, Lita and Trish were the best of friends, and a little over a year ago, were pursued by Christian and Chris Jericho, respectively, in what became known as the Love Rhombus. One thing led to another, and Trish turned on Jericho and ended up with Christian (the slimeball whom Lita had kicked to the curb months before). At first, Trish's changing taste in men didn't really seem to affect her relationship with Lita, but once Lita found herself involved in all manner of idiotic trailer park drama, Trish decided there was no point being diplomatic about it, and began mocking Lita to no end.

And she was right to do it. For here is Lita's tale, in roughly chronological order: Lita falls for her old boyfriend, Matt Hardy, and the two are on the cusp of getting back together.  Kane's biological clock starts ticking and he decides he wants an offspring.  For reasons never adequately explained, Kane can't find a receptacle for his man juice the other six days of the week, and decides seducing Lita on Mondays is the Most Logical Course of Action. Kane's advances only bring Lita and Matt closer together, as Matt steps in to defend Lita at every turn. But Matt's defense is pretty pathetic compared to a Big Red Monster like Kane, and he frequently gets his ass kicked. So Lita, displaying a grasp on illogic that trumped even Kane's initial motivations, agrees to a weekend of hot, sweaty monkey sex with Kane if Kane will promise to leave Matt Hardy alone. The romantic weekend getaway passes, and Kane quits nagging the couple; Matt and Lita seem happy, finally. Until the OMG SHOCKING REVELATION~! that Lita's even DUMBER than we'd previously been led to believe, since she somehow managed to GET PREGNANT BY KANE.  Jesus, Lita, it's the 21st Century; when packing a bag for a weekend of forced sex with a man you despise, a girl of even Orton-caliber intellect should have had a half-dozen of the latest and greatest redundant birth control measures in place. But not Lita!  

So anyway, as all this idiocy is playing out, Trish Stratus is finding her Comfort Zone as a heel, and spends the month of May pretty much mocking the hell out of Lita, and in so doing, rendering herself infinitely more likeable than the ostensible babyface.  To this day, I don't understand how people can watch this feud and cheer for Lita; in terms of on-screen characters, it seems pretty cut and dry, Lita's really dumb and laden with drama, while Trish is clever and thinks Springer-esque drama is to be made fun of.  This isn't even anything to do with my ManCrush; I just can't imagine anybody (guy or girl) of minimal intelligence and rationality who'd think anything besides, "I'd rather hang out with Trish."  

But that's not how it goes, and I gather some people out there just can't stand Trish being all bitchy and awesome (including more than a few female readers who find my stances on Lita's behavior and unlikeability to be evidence for my misogynistic hatred of all women, if I can't bring myself to sympathize with Lita and her Terrible Plight; which struck me as very funny, for two reasons... first, anybody who knows me knows that I am a gentleman, almost to a fault; and second, I didn't know they had the internet in trailer parks now!). So Trish and Lita seemed on a collision course... and then, BAM, Lita found out she was pregnant, and there was to be no extended feud over Trish's newly won women's title.

But during Lita's absence from the ring, she was still showing up on TV and getting in the middle of all kinds of stupid shit (alienating Matt Hardy, her true soulmate, while ending up getting married to Kane, who just wanted her as property), and Trish was still there to mock her at every turn. There was the memorable baby shower incident. There was the less memorable wedding to Kane in which Trish showed up to hit just about the only funny line of the entire atrocity when she said, "I'm sure your love for Kane will blossom, Lita. All you have to do is open your heart.  Just like you opened your legs." WHEE~!

Eventually, Lita got unpregnant (hey, I gotta save PART of this story for the Kane/Snitsky preview!), and after some recovery time, was ready to step back in the ring. Lita proved herself worthy of a title shot against her rival Trish, and got it at Survivor Series. Except Lita, that psycho wench, she didn't care about the title in that match, all she cared about was making Trish bleed. I say BOO ON YOU, you imbalanced drama queen! But Lita's cruel and unprovoked attack did give us Trish In A Facemask for about a month, so that was pretty cool... and then came Lita's rematch, in the main event to RAW one month ago, Trish and Lita had about as fine a women's match as has been seen in WWE since... well in a long time.  It was easily the most fun I've had watching a WWE women's match since that sweet Ivory vs. I Don't Even Remember Who hardcore rules match back about 5 or 6 years ago. In an action-packed 8 minute match, Lita won the title from Trish.

And on Sunday, Trish is coming for her rematch. Without any idiotic outside issues, these two really did have a cool match a month ago on RAW. By necessity, they are the two strongest (perhaps ONLY) personalities in the women's division, and so you can actually have match psychology and stuff that fans'll get into. And action-wise, they can bring it; although, maybe Lita should bring less of it, just so I can sit back and enjoy this match without fearing for the lives of either woman...  there are any number of outside factors that might come into play here, and any number of possibilities that they could either be very cool and interesting or could also suck as badly as all of Lita's drama over the summer did. But even if they just tell Trish and Lita, "Hey, no extracurriculars, and this time, you got 12 minutes instead of 8," I'm confident the results will be dandy.

The OOutlOOk
Lita wins: 6 votes   --|--  Trish wins: 4 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Lita d. Trish Stratus.
I initially thought that Trish would win, but I'm trying balance out the heel and face wins on this card. The more interesting story here is if Kane or Snitsky will get involved, and if Kane will remain a babyface and stick by his wife's side. I'm betting that he does, because it will make Matt Hardy's return that much more interesting. And since Lita doesn't have any viable heel challengers to take on after this, I'm sort of expecting a screwy ending so this feud can continue. I'm hoping for a match even better than the one these two ladies put on last month, and saying a prayer for Lita's safety. That said, I'm really looking forward to this one. Should be good. Maybe we'll get lucky and WWE will give them ten minutes to work with.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Trish Stratus d. Lita.
Lita's had her run on top, which was precisely what their feud needed. But with only four ladies in the division right now, Lita doesn't have a lot of room to anything else now. Whereas Trish at least can play off the heelishness of her character for a while -- or at least until they hire some more female wrestlers. Otherwise, folks, we could be looking at Trish-Lita yet again for Mania.
The Cubs Fan Says... Trish Stratus d. Lita.
I don't know what to do with this match right now; I think it's something that'll be tied into the Kane/Snitsky situation, and I think the WWE doesn't value this belt that much, which leaves the outcome up to whims. My guess was based on projections: who could the winner face next?

While it's within RAW to give Victoria or Molly a tag win or two and expect us to care, but they pretty much cancel in each other. You have to broaden the definition of 'wrestler', but once you do, you notice there's Stacy and all the Diva Search women, and they're all faces. Would those be mighty bad title matches? Yes, but I don't suppose they care, at least until one turns into Trish/Bradshaw vs Nowinksi/Jackie.
Would you rather trust Lita or Trish to be one half of them? Trish by a neck.

I'm calling for a Trish win, and her 6th title reign being the hardest for all the wrong reasons.
Matt Hocking Says... Lita d. Trish Stratus.
Feasibly this could make sense any way the WWE decides to slice it.  I don't think that the WWE can really afford to have Lita lose on the same night that her hubby Kane makes his big return.  Trish is probably the best and most over woman on the roster, but Lita has her fans, and nobody will make any fuss if she stays champion for another little while.  Lita goes over clean, Trish doesn't really lose any Heat from it.  Molly and Victoria eat mini-tacos in catering. 
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Lita d. Trish Stratus.
No Comments Included.
Jeb Lund Says... Trish Stratus d. Lita.
I’m trying to think of a defining moment either in this match or to come from it, but I’m drawing a blank. The fact is that Trish has spent a lot of time with the Women’s Belt, and it’s hard to think of what more she can do with it. She’s improved her wrestling and mic work while a champion. She’s been a face and a heel, an abused woman and a slut, sweet then manipulative. Trish Stratus has grown, as a wrestler and while a champion, more than pretty much anyone else on the roster. If every man on the roster attacked a sharp learning curve with such enthusiasm, the main event would be choked with dozens of Stone Colds, Rocks and Triple Hs. So what else can she do?

The only answer I have is: lots more than Lita. Lita’s skill set is suffering, and I just don’t but “it” with her anymore. Doesn’t matter what “it” is; I’m not buying it. Better have her lose the belt and go off into a time-filling sunset rich with Kane, fire, Snitsky and twue wove. Snitsky can even cost her the belt. Won’t that be exciting?

"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Lita d. Trish Stratus.
The women's division is such a mess, it's pretty tough to get a bead on what the plan is - if there is one. So I'm using my new "default" strategy: when in doubt, the champ retains.

Lita's title (indeed, her very existence) has become secondary to the whole Kane nonsense. Putting it back on Trish, especially after some kind of swerve (Kane? Matt Hardy? Christian?) would make for good storytelling, so it won't happen.
PyroFalkon Says...  Lita d. Trish Stratus.
Simply put: I hate quick title changes. After “nine months of build up” for Lita’s win over Trish, it will make The Suck retroactively even worse if Trish just takes the belt back. I’ll give Rick’s brain a minor stiffy here in suggesting that maybe, MAYBE if Trish loses here, it opens the door for a chance of Molly feuding Lita for the belt. After all, we saw Victoria job to Trish and have Lita run-in last RAW, not Molly jobbing to Lita and having Trish run in.
Big Danny T Says... Lita d. Trish Stratus.
Hmm, lets see: you've got a woman that's been constantly upping her game, both on the mic and in the ring. She's popular, talented, and looks smokingly hot in just about anything you put on her (even a brown plastic trash bag.) And then you have someone who's most significant presence the past 6 months has been a fake baby angle. Oh well then it makes perfect sense! Keep the title on Lita, let Trish chase it around for a while.
Rick Scaia Says... Trish Stratus d. Lita.
It's simple: look at the women's roster. Is there any other possible feud for the women's title? Nope, because WWE are idiots, and I like Molly Holly more than the entire front office combined, and it has apparently been etched in stone that wrestling talent is a MINUS for any female desiring to be employed by WWE. Where, until recently, I thought the second "W" stood for Wrestling.

So this feud has to continue. The way that happens? Trish has to win. And hey, I got no problem with the feud continuing, either, if it keeps delivering the goods in the ring. I honestly thing you could start thinking of this series of matches like you do any series of men's matches: after this, we might do a Last Woman Standing Match, and then maybe a Cage Match... you can actually ramp this up, and it COULD have legs through till WM21. But a lot of that will be predicated on Lita chasing down the title, since nobody would really care about interminable rematches for Trish. 

I think you can have Trish win in such a way that it only makes Lita's character stronger, too.  I view this match as the pre-main-event "palate cleanser," which means that Kane/Snitsky would have taken place earlier.  As you'll see, I can think of no reason for Kane not to win. And on top of that, I can see no reason to not have Lita make a cameo appearance in that match to help Kane out.  After that match, the Kane/Lita couple will seem happier than ever before... and that's why the other shoe HAS to drop in this match. Lita's not allowed to be happy, dammit; it's what makes her LITA!

So you've got options: number one would be Kane turns heel by costing Lita the title (hey, he's a MONSTER people, what do you expect?), except I don't really like that because that eliminates a ton of options for when Matt Hardy returns... but that does lead directly to number two, which is Matt Hardy shows up, and creates an ambiguous enough distraction that Lita loses the match to Trish (you could even have Matt just openly attack Lita, but I think it'd be more fun to milk this for a bit, with Lita at the apex of a Love Triangle, before you turn either Matt or Kane); I also have this idea in my head that if Trish is finally ready to have a man in her life again, what better "fuck you" than to have seduced Lita's soulmate and turned him into the Lovely Miss Hardy? Except that that *really* would have worked better if Trish had done it to that creepy Jeff when he was hitting on her; in any case, I think however you play it (slow or just BAM with one shocking swerve), it might be cool to have Matt end up with Trish, at least for a bit... or you could even keep it simpler: perhaps in her zeal to help Kane against Snitsky, Lita hit a highspot, and injured herself. And then in her match against Trish, that's just enough of an achille's heel that Lita manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Trish has got to win, though. One way or the other.


InterContinental Title Match

The story here? Well, it was kind of crappily told, but it's an old standard, so it's not like you fine fans couldn't fill in some of the blanks for yourself.

Shelton Benjamin's the easy break-out star of 2004, going from tag team wrestler to guy who beat HHH a few times to the IC Champ; everything just seems to come up roses for Shelton, who has only been with the company for 2 years.

And then there's Maven, the erstwhile babyface who just doesn't seem to get any of those breaks, even 4 years after winning the initial Tough Enough contest. Cue the jealously and the heel turn, cuz it's all by the numbers.

Maven actually started out more jealous of Eugene winning tag team gold after only six months in WWE, and tried commiserating with Shelton about this. But Shelton felt happy for Eugene, so no sale.  So Maven just waited till there was no Shelton around, and attacked Eugene in the middle of a match. From there, came a match in which Maven teamed up with Christian and The Lovely Miss Tomko to face Shelton, Eugene, and William Regal.  In that six man match, Maven got a cheap pinfall win over Shelton.

Of course, the follow-up to that pin was underwhelming due to WWE's need to suspend undercard storylines for the Beat The Clock gimmick. But this past Monday, Maven issued his challenge for an IC Title match, and Shelton accepted. And so, it's on...

The OOutlOOk
Shelton wins: 7 votes   --|--  Maven wins: 3 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Maven d. Shelton Benajmin.
I like Shelton Benjamin a lot, but I have a sinking suspicion that he'll lose his title come Sunday. I don't like it, but I'm also curious to see if Maven is ready to step up his game a bit. Maven will win because WWE doesn't take enough time to build someone up like that, just to have him lose. Maybe Shelton will have a chance to dabble in the main event scene after this? I could handle that.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Maven.
This could be the starting of a nice little feud. I'm digging the heelish prick Maven character so far, and he can probably have a decent match with Mr. Benjamin. Still, I think having Maven win a title here would be too much too soon. It would almost be like Carlito Caribbean Cool winning the U.S. Title in his first... oh, wait. Never mind.
The Cubs Fan Says... Maven d. Shelton Benjamin.
I'm throwing the contest! Yay!

Here's the deal; Shelton has no one left to feud with, Maven's too recent of a heel turn, and they like doing title switches just to give people things to do, even if they otherwise wouldn't give someone a belt. Maven's Big Show, Shelton's Brock, and this is Survivor Series '02 all over again.
Matt Hocking Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Maven.
Is the WWE ready for IC Champion Maven?  In a word...uh...No.  Shelton wins easily and quickly.  Damn, I kind of blew through that pick there.  Makes me wonder if maybe...just maybe they might give Maven a shocking upset win here.  He's been a bit better as a heel than face, and Shelton hasn't really done much in the way of making himself a dominant personality on RAW since winning the title.   But still...Maven is Maven.  Maybe after Wrestlemania I'd change my mind...but for now?  Shelton wins.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Maven.
No Comments Included.
Jeb Lund Says... Maven d. Shelton Benjamin.
On one hand, I’m being optimistic. On the other, I’m crazy. And on the third hand, I’m not sure I care too much. It seems pretty obvious that WWE has decided to not bother making Shelton look especially good anymore. He got “the rub” by beating Triple H those few times; now, according to WWE evolutionary theory, he can continue to get heat somehow by getting jobbed out or ignored. So why not have him lose? Why not have Maven win? He’s the heel, here, after all. And isn’t his contract up soon? Couldn’t this be WWE’s good faith attempt to give him a push so that they later can say, “We’re not paying you much anymore; we gave you a push, and you tanked it”? Would that matter?

Ehhhhh, I don’t know. I just can’t really see the immediate point in Shelton keeping the belt. He’s not really doing anything with it. Then again… it’s Maven. He has the more interesting jealous and venal story to go with, but how can I vote for Maven? Easy, I’m closing my eyes and pressing the Yea button. Leave me alone.

"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Maven.
Ain't no stoppin' him nowwwwwww.
PyroFalkon Says...  Shelton Benjamin d. Maven.
If these guys are in a feud, it just started. It doesn’t do either guy any favors to have Maven win the belt on their first match. Maven will definitely not win clean if he does at all, but I’m predicting SB will retain. This sets up a nice month of shenanigans that will result in the rematch at Royal Rumble, and possibly a title change then. But I’m betting my right kidney there isn’t a switch this time.
Big Danny T Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Maven.
Maven isn't ready for IC yet. Euro, maybe, but not IC. At least let him feud and be a torn in the side for a while.
Rick Scaia Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Maven.
I want to pick Maven. Conventional wisdom says the heel should win this thing. But it's FREAKING MAVEN. I'd pull the trigger on Christian in this slot, but... I mean, Maven? The guy's got some moves, he's got some charisma, but the fans, they just ain't buying it. At least, not yet. All the conventional wisdom in the land about faces chasing titles and stuff, it don't mean dick when the heel you'd be chasing would have negative heat. 

Then again, let us all reflect on where JBL was for the first two months of his reign... should I reconsider?  Nah....

Shelton wins, and even though you might think the heel roster thin, he'll cobble together some patchwork quilt of defenses until it's time for Muhammad Hassan to take the IC belt (and quite possibly be a hero, instead of a villain, on every other continent BESIDES this one; but more on that later).


Tag Team Title Match

You know what? This is pretty much the same deal as the IC Title match: a pretty formulaic "feud" that really never had a chance to develop or shine, but which fans should be able to grasp in a subconscious sort of way.  And unlike the IC match, the personalities involved here (Tomko excepted) are strong enough that even if it is a sort of tossed-together bit of fluffery, I think fans'll dig it and it'll be really fun.

The genesis of this feud was actually a backstage run-in between Eugene and Christian (with an assist from Mick Foley), in which Christian thought he'd been besmirched. So that set up the aforementioned six-man tag match that ALSO played a part in the IC Title feud.  Coming out of that match, things were again put on hold for a week for Beat the Clock, but ramped up again with the most basic and standard of tactics: the dueling singles matches!

On Heat, I gather Tomko beat Regal (and people wonder why I don't watch the show!)... then the next night on RAW, Christian beat Eugene, giving them the clean sweep over the tag champs.  Of course, this can only logically lead to a PPV showdown with the belts on the line.  And like I said, the "fun factor" of Eugene, Regal, and Christian should mean this is a pretty good one, even if it's nothing really PPV worthy.... should make a fun opener. 

The OOutlOOk
Eugene/Regal win: 10 votes
Christian/Tomko win: 0 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Eugene/Regal d. Christian/Tomko.
There is absolutely no reason to put the belts on Christian and Goat Boy. Their build-up to this consisted of a Heat match and a win on RAW less than a week before the PPV, and that's just weak and reeks of "filler." Regal and Eugene keep the belts.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Eugene/Regal d. Christian/Tomko.
Uh.... yeah... So, what's in the news these days? How about that Tsunami, huh? Okay, okay, enough stalling.... What I can tell you? This match sucks. SUCKS!!! Regal and Eugene have a nice chemistry and I'd love to see it play out further, but is defending it against yet another interim tag team going to prove?

Once again, I will say it: the tag team titles won't help anyone unless there are actual TAG TEAMS to fight for it. They don't have to have matching trunks and a catchy name like "The Masked Marauders", but just give them a few wins as a team before they challenge the champions, okay?

The Cubs Fan Says... Eugene/Regal d. Christian/Tomko.
Things I'm more interested than this match: a two day old PTI rerun, the NFL Street 2 banner ad that's currently on the webpage I'm looking at, the way EA they absolutely nailed some of the real-life outfits for football guys, the plate I ate dinner off of, the dead fly in my stuck next to my lightbulb, just about everything else.
Matt Hocking Says... Eugene/Regal d. Christian/Tomko.
While there's actually been SOME backstory here (with the "Captain Charisma" stuff), this match is probably the most thrown together of all those on the card, and has the least going for it.   With so many faces eating up the main event, Christian's kind of in a limbo down here.  I don't think the WWE wants him to get the Tag Team Titles, but on the same token, they despirately want him to be on the card.  The result?  Tyson Tomko jobs in Christian's stead (probably to Eugene), but Christian gets face time.  Good for him.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Eugene/Regal d. Christian/Tomko.
No Comments Included.
Jeb Lund Says... Eugene/Regal d. Christian/Tomko.
Because I can’t think of a reason for Christian and Tomko to win, but there are still plenty of reasons why Eugene and Regal are a funny and feelgood team.
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Eugene/Regal d. Christian/Tomko.
# I'm tired of rumours startin'
And pointless tag team feudin'
Bring back the Rougeau Brothers
and Los Con-qui-sta-do-res. #
PyroFalkon Says...  Eugene/Regal d. Christian/Tomko.
I was in the middle of writing my explanation of why I felt Eugene would be better served chasing the belt than anything, and I changed my mind. I’ve always figured that Eugene and Regal were transitional tag champs at best, and I felt they’d lose them here.

That said, I would HATE to see Tomko win a belt. He hasn’t had a decent match at all, he’s barely a valet for Christian, and I can’t recall him in any match recently (which means any that he was in is stupid and literally forgettable). Tomko does not under any circumstances deserve a title, even the lowest one.

Big Danny T Says... Eugene/Regal d. Christian/Tomko.
Regal and Eugene like Lindsay Lohan. 'Nuff said.
Rick Scaia Says... Eugene/Regal d. Christian/Tomko.
The heels got the dueling singles wins, and they might as well enjoy it, cuz that's the end of the victories for them. There is no good reason to take the belts off Eugene/Regal on Sunday. If they'd just quit being so small-minded, the possibilities for the Eugene/Regal tag team are endless; for everybody who's seen the ECW DVD, they'd be Richards/Meanie multiplied by a billion, if WWE just let Eugene channel somebody other than the Rock and Austin. Seriously, to get under Christian's skin, why not have Eugene offer a "five second pose" on Sunday? I've listed plenty of other "homages" that I'd love to see Eugene and Regal do in the past, too...  it's already funny just because it is. But what WWE has to realize is that 2 or 3 new impersonations a month becomes EVEN FUNNIER because long-suffering and dignified straight man William Regal has to play along. Jesus, WWE, it ain't rocket science...  just do some of this stuff, and Eugene/Regal could be an anchor tag team for the next year. 



OK, so the Lita/Trish drama really stems from a portion of the Kane/Lita relationship that was so dumb and uninteresting, it'd make your head explode if you weren't careful. But then things did kind of take a turn for the better when SNITSKY~! showed up.

For as much as Lita's pregnancy sent this story careening at high speeds towards Uncharted Regions of Awful, the night of her unpregntizing was when they slowed the ship down and started steering it back to less retarded waters.  I say that with with the full knowledge of how awful it must sound; some of the ladies out there already think I'm an evil misogynist, and now I hate babies, too! Who the hell cares... the smart folks know what I mean.

Basically, after Gene Snitsky showed up as an unknown jobber and "accidentally" caused Lita to have a miscarriage when she got in the ring during a match, everybody started acting a little more normally. You still had to kind of ignore how terribly moronic the backstory was, but with "lost their baby" as a starting point, one could feel a bit more for Kane and Lita than you could when the entire relationship was predicated on "Lita deciding to have unprotected sex with her boyfriends worst enemy."  One of those things actually happens in the real world (although, not usual due to steel chairs and guys named Snitsky), and the other is just too dumb for words.

Kane's anguish over losing his son and the pretty expertly just-over-the-top-enough way he played it had the net effect of turning him babyface.  It was Erin who talked a lot about this in her awards column, and back about 18 months ago, it was actually I who made some observations about Glen Jacob's remarkable ability to make the most out of WWE's absolutely worst-conceived storylines (in a column that I just re-read today and which is as pertinent now as it was then), and trust me, nobody was happier than me to see the suck ebbing away, replaced by a story that, while still soap-opera-y in nature, had some relatable and compelling elements to it.

Kane's simple desire to make Snitsky "a dead man," was understandable and cheerable. Snitsky, as the sort of dumb-seeming guy who didn't fully comprehend what he'd gotten himself into, and thus kept making it worse (by punting baby dolls, for instance), claimed he was "just doing a job" (an interesting line that could have just meant he was out there in the capacity of Pro Wrestling, trying to have a match, when Lita got in the ring unexpectedly; but could also have more nefarious meanings) and thus decided that "It wasn't my fault." And then you had the changing dynamic between Kane and Lita; Lita was clearly no longer terrified or disgusted by Kane, and might even have respected how he took care of her after the miscarriage. You got a hint of where things might be headed right before Taboo Tuesday, when Lita cut a promo in which she borrowed her husband's catchphrase, "Snitsky is a dead man." Kane and Lita had never been more on the same page, and couples using each other's catchphrases, that's true love, baby!

Of course, at this point, there was probably more evidence for my woman-hating, since I was getting behind a consensual relationship between Lita and the man who was a hairsbreadth away from raping her, depending on how you want to play with semantics. Except like I said: to me, the story reset, and I was trying to forget the earlier things. You gotta grade Kane on how he's behaving NOW, which is pretty cool.  And just like that I think we've found The Rick's High Water Mark for how much illogic and camp I can handle in wrestling; it'd never happen in real life, but Lita falling for the asshole who impregnated her against her will? I can force myself to buy that. In a way I canNOT force myself to buy godawful weddings.

But in anycase, it didn't matter. Cuz a week after Lita cut that promo and seemed to be warming to Kane, Kane was destroyed by Snitksy in a Taboo Tuesday match and disappeared for three months. It was actually not pretty at all, the PPV match; just mostly awkward brawling, and then an even more awkward closing bit in which I guess fan voting screwed things up, since they wrestled a chain match, but needed to use a steel chair for the final spot (the Pillmanization of Kane's neck by Snitsky).  Snitsky won the match by pinfall after that, and Kane did a stretcher job (Snitsky even attacked him further as he was on the stretcher) while his wife Lita looked on in concern.

So Kane's been recovering for 3 months while Lita's life has gone on; we're not sure what's up between those two kids, other than they're obviously keeping in touch, since Lita brought Snitsky a message from Kane a few weeks ago. Just four days ago on RAW, Kane made a surprise appearance to save Lita from Snitsky, and when he helped her up from the mat, the two shared... well, eye contact. And maybe a couple of smiles.  What's up with that?

I'm not sure, but I'm guessing we'll find out soon enough. And it's telling that I'm more concerned over that than I am with the actual Kane/Snitsky wrestling match.  Let's just say that I'm not expecting a whole lot.  A 5 minute slobberknocker would be fine with me, but maybe this was a case where the hardcore rules of the last match handcuffed them, and doing a more straight-up brawl will actually make for a better contest?  We'll see...

The OOutlOOk
Kane wins: 8 votes   --|--  Snitksy wins: 2 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Kane d. Gene Snitsky.
Kane has already lost to Snitsky before, and I can't imagine him doing so again. Let the guy start off the year with a win before WWE goes back to assassinating his character. A win for both him and Lita can help solidify the two of them as a couple, which I think WWE plans to do. That's kind of sick, isn't it? Trish and Jericho couldn't get together, but the bizarre circumstances surrounding Kane and Lita's marriage might lead to them being a happy couple? Then again, Snitsky's character has been developed to exist solely within this storyline, so killing this angle means killing the character. But I still think Kane will win here, and if WWE really wants to continue this, they can pick things right back up during the Rumble match in a few weeks.

I expect Lita to get involved. If she does, how she acts will determine exactly which way her relationship with Kane will go. She might screw up and invoke his wrath, or she might help him kick the shit out of Snitsky and join him. Or, she could help him kick the shit out of Snitsky, and still hate her husband. I like the ambiguity. I, for one, would love to see Lita bring back the Spike-Dudley-killing chairshot that she busted out at Wrestlemania X-7, and kill Snitsky dead with it.

Canadian Bulldog Says... Kane d. Gene Snitsky.
Typical revenge match here. Though they've done a shitty job of bringing it up, it is high time the Monster Snitsky gets his just due. I don't know what you do with him after that (I heard a rumor that Matt Hardy hired him and will turn heel upon his return), but who cares? It's time for the company to reinvest in Kane after building him up so much the last couple of years.
The Cubs Fan Says... Kane d. Gene Snitsky.
I'm not sure about this one, because they didn't hint it as The End Of Gene Snitsky, and that's the only sure way to know Kane's going to win. I guess they still have the Inferno match left, though I don't like Kane's odds there. Anyway, Kane's win here probably isn't a feud ender nor good, but I guess it's gotta happen.
Matt Hocking Says... Kane d. Gene Snitsky.
It's the return of a little more KANE~!  If Kane loses his return match, I swear I'll eat this cookie.  No, sir, Kane's gonna win this one, ending the Snitsky losing streak, and making it a perfect night for the couple.  Lita makes a distraction late in the match, and Kane picks up a win, overpowering Gene.  It won't be pretty, but at least it'll probably be somewhat entertaining.  How far off is Matt Hardy again?
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Snitsky d. Kane.
No Comments Included.
Jeb Lund Says... Kane d. Snitsky.
Edith Keeler must die. So also must Gene Snitsky. Although I’ve gotta admit that Joan Collins is getting old, and it’s creeping toward inevitable at this point. There are maybe 50 people reading this who got that joke, so I hope you’re happy.

I think the only real curve ball you might get in this match is Lita wholeheartedly supporting her husband, thus leading to her discovery of blossoming twue wove. And won’t that storyline be AWESOME?

"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Kane d. Gene Snitsky.
I recall a haiku (well, a senryu) from 2004...

It wasn't his fault
But now he's gonna DI-eeee
Snitsky~!, R.I.P.
PyroFalkon Says...  Kane d. Snitsky.
It’s built up long enough, and it’s time to kill Snitsky. ‘Nuff said.
Big Danny T Says... Snitksy d. Kane.
Here's my "bucking the trend" vote. Everyone expects Kane to DESTROY Snitsky, but I think the WWE isn't above milking this feud for a while, and a cheap Snitsky win here will kep it alive until Royal Rumble, where he and Hei! Den! Heidenreich! will have their fateful second meeting. 
Rick Scaia Says... Kane d. Snitksy.
One unexpected loss to Snitsky is enough. If we are to believe in Kane as a monster, he needs to finish this up now. Maybe get an assist from Lita, just to drive the final nail home. Because if Snitsky is a dead man, then I can put to rest these fears of a Heidenreich/Snitsky vs. Taker/Kane match at WM21.  Snitsky: dead now.  Heidenreich: dead after the Rumble Casket Match.  Rick: So very happy. 


In a Very Special "Please Note WWE's Preferred Spelling for Muhammad, People" Match

I apologize to everybody: for two months, he's been "Mohammed" Hassan here at OO.  I've made the adjustment, though....

Here's the deal: Hassan and his manager, Khosrow Daivari, hail from Michigan, but they are of Arab descent. They believe that they are unfairly persecuted by whitey because of their beliefs and heritage. They spent about 2 months of vignettes explaining that point, and since showing up live on RAW, have continued hammering the point home. To be honest, it's not like they aren't speaking the truth. But I also gotta grant that the methodical jack-hammering of the same basic point, over and over again, combined with the not-insignificant charisma of Hassan and Daivari, has been effective in taking a pretty sensible stance and making it seem secondary to the simple fact that these two guys seem like jerks.

Again, I point to the promo work down with Mick Foley, and beg for just a TINCH more restraint in terms of going into topics like our troops overseas, and if you work with that, what you'll have is a road map to building up these characters in a way that they aren't booed for being Ay-rab. They're booed for being Ay-holes. And for the second time this document, I put in a line just because I'm gonna beat this dead horse until it catches on, dammit!

This precise match exists because Hassan and Daivari accused Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler as being the media mouthpieces who encourage Americans to crap all over their Arab-American brothers. It led to a "debate" pitting Ross/Lawler against Hassan/Daivari (consisting of one questions, and then nobody actually talking about any issues). And the debate, predictably, led to fisticuffs.  Lawler was bloodied and Ross was choked out.  In the aftermath, Lawler demanded this match, and got it.

In the past week, I've gotten some interesting intelligence reports that indicate that for as much cheap heat as Hassan is getting domestically, he is being received very positively in Canada and the UK (and thus, presumably, everywhere overseas).  I don't know if this is something WWE was crafty enough to INTEND for (if they are, well, good for them, since I hadn't really thought that far through), nor do I know that if it was NOT intentional if they'll still take advantage of the unique opportunity to do a Bret Hart 1997 type vibe with Hassan in which the US is the only place he's a heel. All that said, Puerto Rico (site of Sunday's PPV) is probably NOT a genuinely "international" venue, and might not be place to test the theory. Then again, Canada is basically the 51st state, and those wacky sumbitches manage to create some kind of bizarro land everytime WWE visits, so who knows how Puerto Rico fans will react...  just something to think about.

As cheap and one-dimensional as Hassan's gimmick is, and as old timey as Lawler's tactics are, I don't expect anything even remotely fancy here. But if they press the right buttons, it could go over well and get Hassan off to a good start in WWE. To bad that no matter what happens, we probably get stuck with Coach calling about half the show with JR... and I'm sure he'll be back to his more obnoxious ways after a solid outing on Monday night.

The OOutlOOk
Hassan wins: 10 votes   --|--  Lawler wins: 0 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Muhammad Hassan d. Jerry Lawler.
Mark this one under "foregone conclusion," and file it next to Eugene and Regal retaining their tag titles. Hassan can't lose here, but he will, in a way, because he's wrestling Jerry Fucking Lawler in his WWE debut match. It's not the best way for him to make a good first impression in the ring with the fans. With any luck, this will be kept short. The Hassan push will continue.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Muhammad Hassan d. Jerry Lawler.
I really like what they've done with Hassan. Here you have a guy who has been treated unfairly by his country, tries to protest it, and becomes a huge heel. Only in America! And... possibly in Canada.

Anyways, I'm anxious to see if Hassan is as decent a wrestler as he is a talker. Probably not, but he should at least be able to dismantle Old Man Lawler. Hopefully, they do a nice slow burn for Hassan's character, letting him graduate from squashing old men to semi-jobbers and eventually the Infidel Orton (that would be SO SWEET!). But at least give him the win here; it's the least his country can do for him.

The Cubs Fan Says... Muhammad Hassan d. Jerry Lawler.
There's not a lot of positive recent history for wrestlers who feud with JR and King, and especially for those who start their careers that way. I think it's a sign that they're not sure how a character is going to work out; if you start out against Hurricane, you'll have a hard time being taken seriously against Chris Benoit. But since the announce team isn't losing (or winning) on a regular basis, their level is undefined and you can springboard up or down. But since most of the time, it doesn't work out, then maybe they ought to rethink the whole strategy.

If Hassan loses, they're killing him out of the gate. There might be some merit in that, but it'd be a huge surprise. I'm just not sure where you go with this next.
Matt Hocking Says... Muhammad Hassan d. Jerry Lawler.
This is primarily a choice made for two reasons.  The number of faces I have picked to go over higher up in the card and because this is Hassan's first match so it's no time to hamstring him.  If Hassan had been around for a while, I would think that maybe Lawler might get a win here because it'd pop the crowd to start the PPV.  But, I think Hassan goes over, probably in somewhat cheap fashion, and then shows p in triumph on RAW on Monday.  The real story of the match will be the commentary.  Coachman again, maybe?
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Muhammad Hassan d. Jerry Lawler
No Comments Included.
Jeb Lund Says... Muhammad Hassan d. Jerry Lawler.
You know, these programs with Jerry Lawler generally just screw whoever’s wrestling him. Remember when Tazz kept getting his ass kicked by Lawler? Yeah, that was sound fucking thinking. Here’s the thing with Hassan: if he loses this match, he’s dead. Gone. He’s walking around backstage with a fork in his back. I don’t care how he wins, here, he needs to win. But if WWE has any guts at all, they put him over Lawler clean.
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Muhammad Hassan d. Jerry Lawler.
Before I actually got into the ring, I was almost completely against patriotic heat. The whole Slaughter/Mustafa/Adnan thing insulted my intelligence - although I had a soft spot for the Iron Sheik as Mustafa ("Look a' me! I'm-a in BEST SHAPE of career!"). I think Ludvig Borga was the first guy that showed me something different: piss off the crowd by telling
them the truth. Hassan has pulled it off so far. Let's hope he's at least half as good in the ring as the level of heat he's generating.
PyroFalkon Says...  Muhammad Hassan d. Jerry Lawler.
Easy: how could you expect Hassan to keep his heat by losing? Even a DQ loss would be dumb, and I’m already predicting more faces than heels winning. Dig that awesome music, though!

…I still wonder if it’s because of my heritage that I like that music so much?

Big Danny T Says... Muhammad Hassan d. Jerry Lawler.
What? You were expecting something else? Hassan needs the win here or the past 3 months hav been for nothing.
Rick Scaia Says... Muhammad Hassan d. Jerry Lawler.
I may not like Hassan's one-dimensional gimmick, but I just plain don't like Jerry Lawler. So here's hoping that Hassan keeps the politically charged rambling to a minimum, and ramps the ass-kicking up to the maximum, and gets his heat for being a dispicable jerk who beats up old men, instead of a guy who gets his heat for wearing a turban.

I'm starting to think that, my reservations aside, Hassan and Daivari have huge upside, since they seem genuinely charismatic and that'll carry them past this cheap heat phase and as noted above it'd be really cool if they became faces everywhere BUT the US, and it all starts with a win over Lawler. Then onto a lower card wrestler. And then maybe on to the IC Title?



Six matches? That can't be EVERYTHING, can it?  And so the trOOps offer up some additional thoughts on how the New Year's Revolution PPV might play out.... 

The OOutlOOk

Erin Anderson Says... Fetch me the Flaming Snitsky! And  the Bleeding Michaels! And plenty of that sweet, sweet Keifer Southerland~!
I can't think of much else to say here, since I've covered most of the interesting matches fairly in-depth. Just a few quick predictions:
  • We'll get a few backstage segments with HBK interacting with the Elimination Chamber participants. Ideally, Michaels could give Batista a pep talk about not taking shit from Triple H anymore. Hell, so could Randy Orton.

  • Kane's pyro will malfunction yet again, setting Snitsky's goatee on fire. I will laugh and laugh when none of the WWE staff are in a rush to put it out.

  • HBK will be knocked out at least once and bleed no less than three pints of blood.

  • Some random Diva Search Losers will show up for no apparent reason other than to piss me off. I'll drink a few beers and weep for the state of the women's division in response.

  • I will tape the "24" season premiere and watch it immediately upon returning home from Hooters. And it will rule. Seriously, people, if you haven't seen it, tape the damn show already while you're watching the PPV. You won't regret it.

Canadian Bulldog Says... Stabbing People in Puerto Rico? Pretty Cool!
Val Venis vs Simon Dean is YOUR Sunday Night Heat match... Could we see a guest appearance by Puerto Rico's favorite son Carlito Caribbean Cool? BANK ON IT!!! Which means no, probably not.... Although -- how about if they did a historical re-enactment of the Bruiser Brody stabbing to kick off the show? That would have people talking for years.... I'm guessing they have to set up some sort of Royal Rumble matches either here or on the next Raw, though lord knows what... Since WWE rushed this PPV, I'm gonna rush my predictions, 'cuz that's all I've got.
The Cubs Fan Says... This Show is More Important Than You Realize.
This is a one match show, which is kinda of shocking if you consider the last months of television time. Outside of the title, nothing has been given more attention and focus than Kane/Lita/Matt/Snitsky stuff, and by this point, there should start to be economic payback for all that effort. People really should care that Kane's finally getting a chance to get revenge on Snitsky for the chain to the head and causing Lita to lose her baby. That the Snitsky crimes have mostly been played up in that order seems to suggest whoever liked this idea to begin with either doesn't know, or isn't around to focus on the earlier stuff they liked, and now it's more of filler. While this show is going to live or die with the EC, it should've had some help from something they put a lot of time into.

Speaking of things with a lot of TV time and no payoff - shouldn't there be a Simon Dean vs Rosey or vs Hurricane match somewhere around here? Why put all that effort into building something up when you're not even willing to see if it works when it counts? I think it would work better if they didn't just come with characters, but with interesting (and tightly scripted) opening programs for them. They failed with Simon Dean, and they may start on their way to another failure on this show.

Either things are going to get even more routine in '05, or they're going to have to start making concerted efforts to mix things up. They've complete broken the roster down in two unequal parts: tops guys (HHH, Orton, HBK, Batista, Benoit, Edge, Jericho, Kane, Snitsky and Flair only by association) and Everyone Else. Last week's Beat The Clock
show served to point out the wide gap between the guys who matter and those who don't, and once Shelton Benjamin was pushed into the group that do not, you're left with the same crew that's been in every meaningful RAW match of '04.

This continues that trend. Anyone who means anything are banded together in two top matches, while the other names could've been pulled from the hat and randomly assigned and they'd be just as juicy. If I'm right and Maven does win, Shelton's brought even back into the jumble and, even worse, you can now go from Heat mainstay to IC champion in about three month.

Let's say Orton doesn't work out; he tops out at a high midcard heel. Who's the next big new star, the hope to bring in the new generation star? Batista is not a young man and he's been equally injury prone as Orton; I'm sure his body type and size isn't going to help him stick around along time, and who knows how interesting he'll actually be when he's not doing things to Triple H that no one else gets to do. Since they haven't gone out of their way to protect him, I don't think they believe Shelton's it either. And everyone else is a replaceable part. What then?

The next three months are critical. I don't know exactly which way they're going, and I don't think they know either. But they've got to figure out something really good, and really soon, because if they fail here, the future doesn’t look bright. 
Matt Hocking Says... True or False: You Want To See the Elimination Chamber?
Well, kind of a cut and dry PPV isn't it?  Both in my own head as to the predictions, and as to whether or not you'll want to see it.  Do you want to see the Elimination Chamber?  If yes, then you will order this PPV.  If no, then there's nothing for you here.  The undercard is the very definition of "Solid but unremarkable".  It's got a little something for everybody (unless you love them cruiserweights), but nothing with so compelling a story that it MUST be on PPV.  Buuuuuut...the story going into the main, and the concept behind it almost makes the one match entirely worth it, and the extra matches are fun add ons, kind of like a boxing PPV, where you pay to watch Mike Tyson get hit for 2 minutes before trying to eat someone.  Only probably a little less entertaining.  Me?  I want to see how this whole Elimination Chamber thing shakes out, and I wouldn't mind seeing some other matches before that too.

Other predictions:
  • On Heat:  Rosey v. Simon Dean.  Again.  Just 'cuz.
  • Eric Bischoff will unintentially continue to stir shit up between Michaels and Edge.
  • Triple H and Batista will share an awkward moment as they both reach for the last muffin in their breakfast basket.  In the ensuing staredown, the muffin will be devoured by Ric Flair.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Nothing.
Jeb Lund Says... Divas! Puppies!! Euthanasia!!!
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Nothing.
PyroFalkon Says...  Be Gentle, For I Am An Elimination Chamber Virgin.
Here’s the way I look at things. Just like MLB right now and the NFL in August, we’re all tied for first place. And I know my fellow OOers don’t take this thing as seriously as I do, but I’m competitive and I want to win this year, damnit! Remember, I didn’t join OO to do things like write hilarious recaps or drug-induced year-end awards; I joined to play Team Coverage! And I’m in charge of scoring, so I can fix the numbers!

…Except no one reading this will believe my later 6-for-6 score on Monday, which will suck. So I guess I have to play by the rules and hope my “skill” and “intelligence” and “wit” and “markness” carry me through correct picks.

Now, looking back on my picks, I’ve got four out of the six going to faces. Again going by the “too many faces/heels” balancing bylaws the WWE presides by, I figure there’s GOT to be another match in there. Six matches a PPV doesn’t make anyway, even with a main event that will flirt with 40 minutes.

So, who’s on the roster to have a PPV match? I hope to heaven that Simon Dean stays the hell away, but if he somehow suckers Rosey or Hurricane into a match (despite thankfully being off TV for like two or three weeks), he’ll probably win. La Resistance would win a tag match they had, but there’s no real available teams to go against them. I just checked wwe.com to see the RAW roster list in case I was forgetting anyone, but there’s no one else important. Hell, Simon Dean isn’t even on it.

Could six matches actually be enough? They’d have to pepper the hell out of the thing by giving a lot of time to all the undercard matches, although 15 minutes for the women’s match won’t be a bad thing at all. They’ll also have to jam a million angles into it, which also won’t be a bad thing if they center around Shawn’s interaction with the six Chamber guys (and the six Chamber guys interacting with each other).

Either way, I’ve never seen an Elimination Chamber match. In these days of the new “safe” WWE-style wrestling, it seems the Chamber sees the most blood and action. The point is, I’ll be watching this Sunday, somehow finagling my DVR to get the premier of 24, too. I’m not going to get my weekly fix of Rosa Blasi in Strong Medicine though, which will piss of my girlfriend more than me, but such is life when you only have two satellite receivers.

I am the Porchemaster!

Big Danny T Says... You gots to press the flesh.
Lets see, I predict at least 2 "tittilating" segments featuring Diva Castoffs. Coach will be Kings replacement after Hassan devistates him. Bischoff will probably have a meet and greet with each of the participants of the Chamber match.
Rick Scaia Says... As little as possible.
God, I still have one more box to fill?

OK: so Carlito Cool will be in the house on Sunday, I just don't know if they intend to put him on TV or not... he might just be there in a "dark" capacity, since he's a home-country boy. If he's on-screen, just about the only interaction that I think it'd be logical for him to have is something with Eric Bischoff about General Managership-related topics.  Either that, or a backstage run in with Eugene, who I think should spend the entire skit calling him "Razor."  Just because.

I don't think we need any additional matches for the PPV. I really do want a lot of promos/skits involving the Chamber participants, though.  I want it to almost feel like a Monday night in terms of between match backstage stuff; leave the repetitive video packages at the door, WWE, and bring me no fewer than 3 skits featuring Evolution, and at least one each for the other Chamber guys.  Except Orton. I couldn't give a shit if he opened his mouth before the match or not, because I already know what'd spew forth from it: some barely intelligible nonsense about how his RAW win over HHH proves it's his destiny to win the title tonight.  Not buying it, Sparky. So zip it.

For a Heat match: they'll probably bust out Simon Dean just to annoy me (against Hurricane or Rosey, who the fuck cares?)...  and if they do, why not just put him in there with Tajiri, tell him to forget he's "Simon Dean" and pretend like he's still Nova, and give them 6 minutes to not stink up the joint?  Ah, I'm dreaming....

If I end up at Hooters, I will spend a non-zero amount of time pondering the many similarities between my plight and the plight of anyone forced into an interview with Maria the Mic Stand.  And basically seething silently anytime any of the other Diva Losers appears on screen, while Molly Holly remains in street clothes, well away from any camera.

I think that's about all I got.  And all this talk of "24"? I SPIT on "24"! It's pre-empting "Arrested Development" on Sunday!  BOO!!!  HISSS!!!!  


So check out New Year's Revolution on Sunday night, if you're so inclined. Or if you must take a pass, I'll be posting my immediate post-show PPV Recap sometime proximate to midnight!  See you then....

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
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
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
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
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
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?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



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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