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WWE RAW Backlash PPV Preview
April 30, 2005

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


As threatened, prepare for a kind of half-assed PPV Preview! At least, half-assed on my part! Some of the trOOps still brought the heat, though....
As an added bonus, you get to enjoy this document a day later than normal. Please, do not consider this some veiled commentary on the worth of the Backlash PPV. It's actually not an entirely unappealing card, especially for one of the off-month, brand-specific PPVs. It's just that the combination of having to cover Candido yesterday along with 

my own prodigious slackery have resulted in trying to rush this thing to completion on Saturday.
And hey, since I do got a Pacers game to enjoy, I figure I want to get this out of the way as quickly as possible so I can begin some Solitary Man Drunkening and cheer the boys from Indiana on to a 3-1 series lead over the hated Celtics. Just trust me that come tomorrow, WWE will have my full attention and fandom, as I watch Backlash. Even if I end up having to resort to Hooters again for the first time since New Year's Revolution. Ugh.

So let me try to infect you with some of my dormant-but-existent enthusiasm, as I run the basic set-ups for the as-announced six-match PPV card, and as a full compliment of OO's semi-stars steps in and offers their predictions and thoughts on each match! Onward.....

World Heavyweight Title Match

This one's actually easy to preview, whether I'm in Half-Ass Mode or not. Because by and large, I did my bang-up job of telling this story in the WM21 Preview. And since WWE hasn't exactly done a bang-up job of storytelling since WM21, the incremental add-ons to the feud are quickly and easily covered!

For once, WWE Idiot Writers, I applaud you for making my job easier! Except that's not exactly true: because I refuse to applaud you for taking what should have been a slam-dunk of a title win for Batista and turn it into a month straight of underwhelming Batista bits and bludgeoningly boring Triple H segments.

So anyway: basically everything that happened last fall and winter was pretty cool, as Batista seemed more and more intelligent and independent, as dissension among Evolution was teased. Finally, when Batista won the Royal Rumble, things came to a head. Batista had to pick a title to wrestle for at WM21: he picked HHH's World Title. And HHH no-likey. HHH likeyed even less when Batista beat him for said World Title one month ago.

And what's happened in the month since? Well, first HHH came out and rambled at us for 15 minutes to tell us he was invoking his Rematch Clause. Thanks, Potsie: I never would have guessed you'd do that! Your extra-long windbaggery made it an even more satisfying revelation! Then HHH declared his belief that he would win said rematch. Thanks, again: another totally unexpected twist there! And finally, HHH embarked on a 4 week quest to convince us that Dave Batista is scared of the Pedigree, that the Pedigree is unbeatable (this despite many having kicked out of it in the past), and that when HHH hits Batista with the Pedigree at Backlash, that will be the end of Batista. Thrilling.

In the last month, HHH has also (1) beaten Hurricane and Rosey in a handicap match (including using his Extremely Awesome Pedigree of Extreme Awesomeness on Rosey, and we've not seen Rosey on TV since), and (2) gotten beat by Jim Ross (with an assist from Batista) in a one-on-one match of confounding origins. If you can figure out how that really does much to put some stank on a HHH/Batista World Title feud, I'm listening and would love to hear from you!

Batista, in the last month, has been only slightly more productive. In addition to hijacking a limo so that he could be Jim Ross' Knight in Shining Armor, Batista has also: (1) been completely invisible during much of HHH's windbaggery instead of showing up to defend himself or accept challenges, (2) cut his historic "First Promo as Champ" in the lamest possible fashion (utilizing nothing but god-awful, jungle-related, marketing-department catchphrases), (3) cut another promo in which he was actually his calm, collected, confident self but in which he was given the task of blowing smoke up Jim Ross' ass to the extent that it was cheesy and uncomfortable to watch, and (4) sort-of beat Christian in an entertaining clusterfuck of a match that had Evolution at ringside, and which ended with a post-match attack on Batista.

So at least after 4 RAWs worth of crap, the final push was a standard, simple, by-the-book bit of booking: the last image we got between these two was HHH Pedigreeing Batista, and then standing over his carcass as RAW closed out 5 days ago. The message, once again (in case you missed it, which I find hard to believe as long as you're smarter than your house plants), is that the Pedigree is unbeatable. Which means that on Sunday, HHH is taking the World Title for the 11th time. Or so it would seem, anyway.

How will the match play out? Not sure: the WM21 main event with these two was a decent match, but nothing special. I figured that in rematches, they would add stipulations to add to the drama and give them more psychology things to play with... but instead, this rematch is again a straight-up, no-frills match. I don't know if that bodes well for making it above "average" this time or not. I do know that WM21's match was stripped down and under-booked, and was pretty much totally centered on the two guys in the ring. Now, a month later, if it was up to me, I'd make sure to turn Ric Flair into a ubiquitous ringside distraction, and might even try to run out a few more surprising pieces of interference to up the excitement level (even just based on last Monday, Coach and Christian would both be viable options on that front). Nobody's accusing Batista of being Chris Benoit inside the ring, but I think that he's probably a tinch better than we saw at WM21, and I think that WWE can greatly assist him by throwing in a bunch of chicanery to keep the drama high -- higher than it was at WM21, anyway --during this rematch.... 

The OOutlOOk
Batista wins: 11 votes   --|--  Triple H wins: 0 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Batista d. Triple H.
Here's the scoop, people: I just got through with a hellish week of finals/projects/papers, and I still have one more to go. I got 3 hours of sleep last night. RAW doesn't know what the hell it's doing these days, and my interest is waning because of it. I'm cranky. I might not even get a chance to see the PPV this Sunday. So yeah, these picks will be short. Sorry about that.

Unless he goes to Smackdown!, I give Batista about one more month with the title before it's taken off his "botched reign." What kills me is that his title run has sucked through no fault of his own. The booking has sucked, the material has sucked, and WWE's priorities are fucked up beyond belief -- "Hey, now that we have a new champion with tons of momentum, let's put all of the focus on Triple H! Who cares if Batista's character is still developing? This company needs more useless 10-minute promos!" Ugh.

I wouldn't be shocked if Trips wins this one, but I'll go with Batista because he was the one left lying this Monday. Just for the record, though: I don't care.

Canadian Bulldog Says... Batista d. Triple H.
With all due respect to his H-ness, Dave Batista HAS to win here. He has to do so decisively and almost no-sell the pedigree to prove that WrestleMania wasn't a fluke. Otherwise, there's little chance you can keep Big Dave in the main event picture. It's as simple as that to me.

Yes, I've heard that there may be a Batista-HHH III, this time in the Hell in a Cell (which leads me to believe that The Game doesn't get squashed here), but I just don't see this match going in any direction but a clean win for The Animal.

The Cubs Fan Says... Batista d. Triple H.
It'd be a nice and easy way for HHH to inflate his title reign total by getting a fluke/pedigree related finish here and dropping in back next month. But it'd also kill Batista's momentum, so probably not. Obviously Triple H hits the pedigree at some point, and I just don't know if they'll have Batista kick out, because it'll kinda make the next match pointless. Also, I don't care all that much.
Matt Hocking Says... Batista d. Triple H.
The how and why of this one is pretty easy to figure out.  Batista needs another strong showing and victory over an established superstar to solidify his postition as "The Guy" on RAW.  Triple H, as much as has been made about his chase for the all-time title records, seems readily willing to job to
Dave at the flop of a  Flair, and not only that, has seemed entirely distracted during this entire feud, going through the motions of putting up a fight while he tries to plan out his annuity or something.  A feud based on the almighty power of the Pedigree?  Come on.  Hunter was pulling better stuff out of his ass years ago when he still really REALLY sucked.

That said, it sets up a nice, if obvious, spot in which Dave powers out of a Pedigree induced pin, and goes midevil on Hunter.  I expect that the match will be shortish and get to the point a lot faster as compared with most other Triple H, but both guys have similar styles and they've meshed well in
the past, so I guess it's a matter of how "on" they are on Sunday as to whether or not the match works.

One thing that the WWE definately needs to be careful with, is making sure that Hunter makes Dave look as good as possible, even with all his signature spots.  All signs point to this being the "Middle Match" of the series, not necessarily meaning that Hunter will have to win to go to round 3, but he's got to have some kind of issue to force.  So, in effect, this has to be "Hunter's match" to dominate, but they can't punk Batista out either.  It's a delicate line to walk, and one busted Pedigree isn't going to be enough.  I also have this vision dancing in my head of Hunter suggesting a huge
convoluted DQ finish in which he attacks Dave with the sledgehammer and the assistance of Ric Flair, so that Dave can retain, but keep Hunter in the main event for another couple months while they build Edge.  I hope to hell
I'm delusional, but I figure I'd put that one out there.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Batista d. Triple H.
After hearing the supposed main event spoiler for Vengeance, I began thinking that there could be a good way to make this feud better.  I was thinking back to feuds like Rock/Mankind from '99 and HHH/Rock from 2000.  Both of those were lengthy feuds were the title kept going back and forth between the rivals.  Now I'm not all for hotshotting the title, but it seems that in both of those cases, the matches were great and really elevated both men as well as making them appear as equals.  To me, I think you could do the same thing here and have it work.  First, it would give HHH some extra title reigns, which you know he wants anyway to beat Flair's record, and it would help Dave out too.  Let's face it, up until this past Monday, Batista has had the upper hand for every week since he left Evolution.  While they shouldn't bury Dave, they need to have him overcome some adversity or else you run into Goldberg syndrome.
So having said all that, will it happen?  Nope!  The writing is clearly on the wall in this one.  HHH will hit the Pedigree, but it won't get the job done and Batista retains.  Yawn!  Since we know this is going to happen, let me state that if they want to have it be of any interest to fans, they need to have Batista forcefully kick out of the Pedigree.  Not one of these 1...2...oh he barely gets his shoulder up.  No, it should be almost borderline to the way the Ultimate Warrior threw HHH off after getting hit with the Pedigree back at WM 12 (only without the pee-pee dance afterwards).  If they are going through with the third match between HHH and Dave at Vengenace, I would be surprised if Batista wins clean here, though.  I mean, it would be hard to convince an audience that HHH is deserving of another match after losing cleanly twice to the champ.  Then again, this is HHH we're talking about.
Jeb Lund Says... Batista d. Triple H.
Batista hasn't had the frenetically amazing and successful title reign that we (and he) would have liked, so the conventional WWE wisdom is probably to give the title back to Triple H. Because that sells so many shirts and tickets and is so refreshing. But I'm not writing Dave off. I think WWE won't yet, either — especially if these Hell in a Cell rumors are to be believed. I think Dave retains, setting up Triple H for his 56th Hell in a Cell win and his 23rd title victory in the last five years.
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Batista d. Triple H.
Batista is to over as water is to wet. Thank goodness they finally brought him out to "be himself" last Monday. Equal thanks for HHH finally getting at least one Pedigree in to set up the PPV. Really, Dave had been having his way with Trips up to that point. That helped give Batista the big Goldbergian push for WM, but I think we needed a stronger HHH than what we've seen to give the rematch more sizzle. Anyway, Dave kicks out of The Unkickoutable Pedigree and retains.
PyroFalkon Says...  Batista d. Triple H.
I think it’s too soon to have Batista drop the title (like it was too soon for Benoit to drop it last year on the PPV after Wrestlemania; thankfully, he didn’t). I can see Flair getting involved, and stuff, but I don’t see this being anything special.
Rocky Swift Says... Batista d. Triple H.

One can almost see two humanoid figures in the bones, but below them is a collection of body parts. I believe this refers to the unique trait of both performers whereby their muscles pull completely away from the bone. Sure, Triple H is very moist, and he probably gets to disappear into Stephanie McMahon's bungus on a regular basis, but his meat-falling-off-the-bone trick is by far his greatest achievement. Cripes, Tona Roma is banging on his door, trying to learn the secret. Barista has been a good student, demonstrating his own fantastic muscle shucking ability on at least one occasion. But whereas Barista had to jog to get his triceps to curl up in a little ball, Haitch did the same trick with his quadriceps by simply walking.

This is a sensitive issue with the bones, having their own meat stripped off and all, so I'm not sure we can trust their wisdom here. It's safe to say that there will be a wonderful, creative new injury, and probably Barista will win because they haven't made a T-shirt for him yet.

Big Danny T Says... Batista d. Triple H.
As much as I'm sure that HHH would like to get back on the road to taking Ric's record of being champion 16 times, Now is not the time. If WWE is in any way serious about Batista being a viable world champion (and after the reception he got in England, they damn well better be) Batista needs to hang onto the title for at least a couple more months. Save the switch for Summerslam, but for now, Batista rules!
Rick Scaia Says... Batista d. Triple H.
I hate it when I have a vision in my head and when I know that it is also WWE's vision. I prefer to think I'm a bit more creative than the average bear, and certainly moreso than most of the monkeys they got in creative.

But in this match, WWE has pretty much booked itself into a deal where there is really only one "right" outcome. I can't come up with any reason to not do it, I can't even come up with some way to dress it up fancier. I just have to tip my cap and say, "Hey, given what you've done on TV the last 3 weeks, your play is the right one. Hell, it's the only one." Perhaps a tad anvilicious, but it's also what NEEDS to happen.

So simply: Batista wins, and before he does he will kick out of the Pedigree of Extreme Awesomeness. This will cause HHH to really over-sell his Total Surprise, despite the fact that many have kicked out of it before. During his flip-out, HHH will allow Batista the time he needs to recover and to win the match. Simple, obvious, but they've bludgeoned fans over the head with the unbeatability of the Pedigree for the last 3 weeks that it should still pop the crowd. And also, if HHH loses the match because he lost his focus, it allows him to "save face" and demand yet another rematch as he continues to "watch footage" and hone his gameplan to perfection for dealing with Batista. 

I wish I had something better or more exciting here, but this is pretty much what's gotta happen. I *could* improve upon it, but I'd need a time machine and complete creative control over RAW starting back a month ago. And I have no time machine. That you know of.



Very Special "I Love the 80s" Match, Brought to You by VH-1

Nothing fancy here, folks. Twenty-one years after Hulk Hogan made his name by smiting that naughty Ay-rab, the Iron Sheik, he's back again for "one more match" to join forces with Shawn Michaels to smite some latter-day naughty Ay-rabs. There doesn't even need to be a story, really: Hogan defending America against evil foreigners is something any of us who watched wrestling in the 80s are intimately familiar with.

That said, there is a *bit* of story here....

Just prior to WM21, Michaels crossed paths with Hassan, doing a promo in which he lambasted Hassan for insisting that everything be handed to him, instead of going out and earning it. In response, Hassan challenged HBK to a match: when Hassan couldn't win, his manager Daivari hopped in the ring to attack, and Michaels took a DQ win in the match, despite losing the brawl.
At WM21, Eugene made a surprise return to say "hi" to all his fans, but was attacked by Hassan and Daivari, who apparently aren't fond of Eugene's antics.  The attack went on for several minutes, until Hulk Hogan himself came out to the rescue: just 24 hours after being bathed in cheers at the Hall of Fame ceremony, Hogan hit the ring and beat the crap out of Hassan and Daivari, 80s Style. And then commenced the Posedown, and then it sort of seemed like maybe we'd seen the last of Hogan for another year.

But not so fast....

On RAW after WM21, Michaels was assaulted by Hassan and Daivari (who believed that not only did Michaels embarrass RAW by losing to Kurt Angle at WM, but who were still none-too-pleased about being unable to beat Michaels a week before). HBK thought he was gonna get a one-on-one rematch the next week against Hassan to settle the score. But instead, Hassan decided that Michaels hadn't "earned" a rematch yet, and forced Michaels to face his manager, Daivari, in order to get to Hassan. Shockingly, Daivari pinned Michaels (albeit with an assist from Hassan), which didn't sit well with HBK. Also not sitting well: after the loss, Hassan got in the ring and commenced a two-on-one beatdown. 

After that attack, Michaels went to GM Eric Bischoff and DEMANDED a handicap match against the two. And Bischoff, displaying the WWE Writers' unique lack of grasp on continuity, refused on the grounds that handicap matches are dangerous and he didn't want to risk a top draw in such a match. He actually said this to Michaels with a straight face not 30 minutes after he'd apparently sanctioned the aforementioned HHH vs. Hurricane/Rosey handicap match. My brain *still* hurts from that show. Anyway, he told Michaels to get a tag team partner, and he could have a tag match at Backlash. In the heat of the moment, Michaels called out to the one Real American he knew he could trust to give his all in a match against Naughty Ay-rabs: Hulk Hogan.

One week later, Michaels got his one-on-one rematch with Hassan, and again, it wound up ending with Daivari interfering to cause a disqualification. And again, it looked like Shawn was gonna have his ass handed to him in a post-match beatdown... at least, it did until Hulk Hogan came out to make the save! Hogan and Michaels cleaned house, and posed for what seemed like about 20 minutes in front of the appreciative fans. The message was clear: by making the save, Hogan was agreeing to the "one more match" that Shawn and the fans wanted. 

This one won't be particularly fancy or complicated. Although Michaels is simple an awesome in-ring talent, and although Daivari could keep up with him, and although Hassan has had his best outings so far against HBK, this is STILL not a match that's gonna be about the OMG WORKRATE~!... it's gonna be about telling a story and entertaining the fans, which is something that Hogan, workrate albatross that he may be, still excels at. Look for cheesy, over-the-top 80s-style offense like double-noggin-knockers. Look for preying on the fans' most base and jingoistic tendencies. Look for heel beat-downs followed by implausible Hulk Ups. But mostly: if you just relax, flip off your Jackoff Switch, you can look to be amused by this little piece of fluffery.

The OOutlOOk
Hogan/HBK win: 8 votes
Hassan/Daivari win: 3 vote

Erin Anderson Says... Hassan/Daivari d. Hogan/Michaels.
You want to bury Hassan and Daivari? Let Hogan and Michaels beat them. Even WWE probably isn't stupid enough to do that (especially since Daivari has shown himself to be more than just a guy who can rant in Farsi.) The Ay-rabs win it, either through nefarious means or a miscommunication between Hogan and Michaels. I fail to care.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Hogan/Michaels d. Hassan/Daivari.
I'd be surprised if there any doubters on this outcome, but I suppose stranger things have happened. Still, Mr. Michaels has already exceeded his JPA (Jobs-Per-Annum) quota for 2005, giving legitimate wins to Edge, Angle and to a lesser extent, Daivari. And as for The Hulkster...well, his generous stint in 2002 notwithstanding, the guy didn't come back for "one more match" to do the J.O.B. to a couple of upstarts.

As far as the idea of Michaels turning on Hogan here -- I've got to say no. It's too soon, plus there's no backstory to justify it. Michaels called Hogan for help, so for him to come up with a "hogging the spotlight", "never gave me a title shot" or "lusting over Elizabeth" type-justification would be ludicrous. In fact, it would make (slightly) more sense for Hogan to turn on Michaels, but even that is a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig stretch.

The Cubs Fan Says... Hogan/Michaels d. Hassan/Daivari.
I figure they'll run an angle during the PPV, where Hogan is somehow prevented from being there at the start of the match, so he can show up just for the hot tag; it doesn't sound like he's got enough for anymore. I can't decide if it would be hilarious or annoying if HBK turned on Hogan and became Arab, but I'm pretty sure it's not happening.
Matt Hocking Says... Hassan/Daivari d. Hogan/Michaels.
I told myself that, given my recent success in PPV prognostication, I was going to give myself one match on this card to just pick a darkhorse team and stick to it.  This is that match.  the reasons I've decided to give the win to Hassan and Daivari are:

1)  Nobody believes that Hulk Hogan will have his big "last match" as a tag-team contest at Backlash.  Especially not with this little fanfare.  That leaves room for him to drop this one, both as a means of "putting the young guys out on his way out" so that Hogan can finally say he did it (and he won't have to take the pinfall, Michaels can), and it sets up better matches down the road.

2)  Michaels and Hogan have dominated the pre-match hype.  They've got the beatdowns, the interviews, except, curiously, Shawn himself, who has been made to look like a complete chump.  Jobbing to a manager, needing Hogan's
help to save him, not being able to tear his own shirt.  He's been overwhelmed by the legacy of his own tag team partner.  Not only are Hassan and Daivari due to get a win in this feud, but Shawn Michaels has been made to look extremely weak.

3)  Much has been made of late, by both the "wrestling media" and by Michaels himself that the one big thing hampering a potential feud with Hulk Hogan are his religious beliefs.  Kids, I think this is a Vince Russo level SHOCKING SWERVE~! waiting to happen.  Shawn can very easily get by feuding with Hogan over their respective "legendary statuses" without going full on "evil heel".  He just needs to draw up the old whiny, "Why don't you RESPECT me?" persona, and suddenly he's a perfectly moral heel foil for the All American, Clean Cut, "But, I DO respect you, brother" Hogan.  Shawn's a smart enough whip to know this, and he's also smart enough to know that he's only a "handshake of supreme respect" away from not only a memorable match
at Summerslam, but a return to the facedom he desires.

So my guess?  Hogan hulks up, hits the legdrop and flexes to the delight of the crowd, Michaels grows noticably sick of his grandstanding, and tags himself in, there is some confusion, and Hassan rolls Michaels up.  Hogan gives us, "Oh snap!  I can't believe that just happened, dude!" Michaels isn't buying it, and hits the Superkick.  Over the next month or two, Hogan disappears and Michaels gives some promos about how all he wanted to do was get a tag team partner who could help him defend American values, but Hogan was only interested in showing HBK up, and showing off for the fans.  Maybe this is where you bring Marty in as a Michaels hanger-on.  Hogan comes back in Julyish, saying that he's heard what Michaels has said, and it upsets him to think that someone of Michael's calibur thinks he was trying to show them up, and it saddened him to think that maybe Shawn was right, but honestly the time has come to SHUT up about it.  Why couldn't he just let Hulk have one last moment with the fans?  That sets things up nicely for a match at Summerslam where Hogan can  go over Michaels, and Michaels can give a handshake and a hug.

Overfantasy booking much?  Maybe...but you would too if you had to try to come up with answers for the rest of the card.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Hogan/Michaels d. Hassan/Daivari.
I am real tempted to choose Hassan and Davari, but I think they will simply go for the nice moment here and have the faces get the win.  Shawn has been on a mini-losing streak lately and I can't see Hogan coming in for this simply to lose.  Those factors should be enough of a reason to say the evil Arabs lose.  I think it would be safe to say that if the faces win, they will pin Davari.  That way Hassan can continue saying he's never been pinned or submitted, blah, blah, blah.  As for the whole Shawn turning on Hogan, I don't think you would do it here.  I would say give the faces the win.  Then the next night on RAW Hogan and Shawn come out to celebrate and Michaels superkicks Hogan.  He then says, how he never wanted a partner, but since he had one he chose Hogan so he could bring him out of retirement and challenge him for his true one last match.  Something like that, I haven't thought it all the way through.  It should be noted that I've probably put a lot more thought into it then the bookers will ever do, so kudos to me.  One last thought...they better put this match somewhere in the middle of the card.  If it's anywhere too close to the main event, that crowd will be burned out by the time Dave points the toe.
Jeb Lund Says... Hogan/Michaels d. Hassan/Daivari.
I know that the prevailing rumor/wisdom here is that Michaels and Hogan will ultimately have a falling out due to some misunderstanding, thus setting up a Legend v. Legend match. But honestly, I can't see either of these guys losing to a pair of jobbers. Even if the jobbers are dastardly conniving "Arab" jobbers. These two made a career out of turning successful wrestlers into jobbers. Two clods already in that position aren't going to stop them.
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Hogan/Michaels d. Hassan/Daivari.
Let's see. How about Hassan and Daivari cheat to secure the big upset, but then Hogan shows up to challenge HHH after Trips blows my prediction and cheats to regain the title, and Hogan squashes HHH in about a minute to become the new champ and close the show? No?

Hogan has been on the radio a lot, talking about how WWE is moving more toward entertainment and less toward the kind of matches that have to be scripted in the back. Hmmm. I'd say they've been doing that since last Backlash, when the buyrate was lacking with Benoit as champ. I suppose that's the rationale for putting Hogan on a minor PPV.

Babyfaces win. Probably your main event, as well, which should give at least a few people a scare when Batista and HHH go at it second-to-last.
PyroFalkon Says...  Hogan/Michaels d. Hassan/Daivari.
Man, I’m fighting with myself on this one. On the one hand, I think it would behoove the WWE for Shawn and Hogan to lose here unclean, then save face by beating down Hassan and Daivari afterwards here. That way it can set up the story later for Hogan and Shawn, and stuff.

But on the other hand, I think, who am I kidding? If we’re really going back to 1985, then Hogan doesn’t lose big PPV matches. Not that this is big in the grand scheme of the WWE, but it’s big because it has that special feel to it.

So what am I blathering about? That despite the fact the Ay-Holes will cheat mercilessly, Hogan and Shawn somehow pull a victory from their asses, then fill five minutes of time by posing. U-S-A! U-S-A!!!

Rocky Swift Says... Hassan/Daivari d. Hogan/Michaels.

When I first threw the bones on this match, I was confused by the message. It seemed clearly to be a horizontal arch, perhaps a rainbow, representing the Lord God's promise to all mankind that he would never again reboot on creation.

But on closer inspection, it became apparent that the curve was in fact a Muslim crescent. The bones are well in touch with the divine, and his Awesomeness clearly favors the Koranians. I am disturbed that the Creator would favor these non-Jesus-loving, bacon-eschewing Squishee peddlers. But the bones are the bones. I reckon that Hogan will do the big leg drop, instantly pulverizing his hip into a fine dust, which will spill out over the mat as his leathered skin breaks open like an old purse. Michaels, unable to resist, will drop to his knees and begin snorting up the powdered hip bone. Bolstered by their more ascetic faith, Hasam and Debris will prevail. The bones don't lie!

Big Danny T Says... Hogan/Michaels d. Hassan/Daivari.
Come on, do I have to actually make this prediction? Let's see: Hogan was unsatisfied with his departure a year ago as Mr. America, Divari and Hassan are Aye-Rabs, and HBK is in a dream match. ok, so none of that actualy means anything, but i seriously doubt that hogan will drop his "One Last Match" to a couple of newbies. Unless he isn't really planning on leaving after this match...
Rick Scaia Says... Hogan/Michaels d. Hassan/Daivari.
A big part of the appeal of a Hogan/Michaels team is the thought that this could somehow lead to a Hogan vs. Michaels match. Because I promise you this: Hulk Hogan's farewell match is NOT gonna be some throw-away tag match on an off-month PPV. There's more to come. And what my mind keeps coming back to is Hogan and Michaels ending up on opposite sides of the ring.

That said: they still won't lose. This match is all about paying off a crowd-pleasing story from a simpler time. You don't book this match if you don't intend for Hogan to get a feel-good posedown. Also quite telling: the one move we've not seen Hogan hit in his two brawls with Hassan/Daivari is the Leg Drop o' Doom... he's gotta be saving that up for something special, right?

So yeah: a feel-good ending and a posedown. You can hit Daivari with the legdrop for the finish, and that way you "protect" Hassan, since he doesn't lose. And you can still put little elements into the match, or throw them in after the fact, that would hint at a possible bit of friction between Hogan and Michaels. Not enough to make them lose a match when one of the opposing wrestlers is a disposable manager... but enough that it comes across to fans and could be built on in the future.


Last Man Standing Match

Hell: these two don't even really need a reason to fight in my book... just put 'em in a ring, give 'em 20-plus minutes, and even in a storyline vacuum, I'm gonna be there with bells on.

Fortunately for the tougher-sells among you, there *is* a story here, though, one that should get you nearly as enthused as I am to show up to watch. You, however, are not obligated to wear bells, if you don't want to.

If one wanted to be an insightful, detailed completionist, one could make the case that this feud dates back to last October. And since I am just such a person, I'll go ahead and do that... because the explosive completion of Edge's heel turn might have taken place at the expense of Shawn Michaels. But the grunt work of establishing Edge's heel persona was done with an assist from Chris Benoit once Michaels had to disappear for an injury hiatus.

At Taboo Tuesday, it came down to 3-way fan voting to determine a #1 Contender. Michaels won the voting and came up short against HHH, which incited Edge to attack Michaels. In storylines, Edge's attack caused an HBK knee injury. But also in storylines: by virtue of being the two losers in the fan voting, Edge and Benoit were forced to become a tag team, and they got a tag title shot. Edge walked out on Benoit, but Benoit (badass that he is) still won the titles. A few weeks later, Edge took it upon himself to make sure the titles went back to La Resistance in the rematch. And as if Benoit needed any additional excuse to hate Edge, he still got it right there. So the feud was on. 
They did battle more than once on RAW, including in a steel cage, with Edge usually managing to sneak away with a victory. And then, about a month later on RAW (an episode that sucked balls, but which inspired perhaps the Greatest RAW Recap Ever), Benoit and Edge "tied" in a #1 Condenters Battle Royale. So both were granted a shot at HHH in a Triple Threat Match. And AGAIN, they "tied": with HHH outside the ring and not even figuring into the decision, Edge pinned Benoit, as he simultaneously tapped out to Benoit's Crossface. Ugh, what a debacle. This led to the vacating of the World Title, but Benoit and Edge both remained in the hunt, and thus, remained at odds with each other.

Their feud cooled off a bit in January and February, as Edge segued into a feud with the returning Shawn Michaels. But as WrestleMania approached, Edge and Benoit were two of six men who got embroiled in a six-way feud in which a future World Title Shot was on the line. In a "Money in the Bank" Ladder Match at WM21, Edge won that title shot over five other men. The last man he had to overcome was Benoit, who had seemed on the verge of victory until Edge made his final, last-gasp rally and took advantage of a previous shoulder injury suffered by Benoit in order to win.

The next night on RAW, Benoit was granted a one-on-one rematch with Edge. Although nothing was officially on the line, except for pride, Benoit avenged himself with a pinfall win over Edge. Just like that, Benoit beat a #1 Contender and in so doing might have established himself as a contender, as well. But also in so doing, he pissed Edge right the fuck off. Edge brutalized Benoit's already-injured shoulder with a steel chair. 

A week later, Edge also stuck his nose in Benoit's business, as Christian managed to score a pinfall win over the injured-Benoit. The following week, Benoit thought he was gonna get to settle the issue in another one-on-one match with Edge: but that match quickly spilled out to ringside and Edge decided that rather than brawl with the mega-angry Wolverine, he'd escape through the crowd. But Benoit followed, and the brawl went backstage, where it had to be broken up by officials, including GM Bischoff. In fact, Bischoff was so angry by the wild, out-of-control brawling that he, on the spot, order that the two could take out their frustrations on each other in a Last Man Standing Match at Backlash. Works for me.

And I think it'll work for most of you, too: even if it's partially due to Matt Hardy, Edge is as strong a heel as ever, while Benoit is a guy so damned convincing that even if you don't "like" him you end up respecting him and buying into his matches. And the quality of the ring work? Christ, I don't even have to say a word about that, do I? It'll be better than anything else on this entire PPV card, and this is the match I'm most looking forward to by a pretty wide margin. Should be a good 'un.

The OOutlOOk
Edge wins: 9 votes   --|--  Benoit wins: 2 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Edge d. Chris Benoit.
The match I'm most looking forward to on the card. WWE gives it enough time, and we might even have a Match of the Year Candidate. And you know what? I have absolutely no idea who's going to win. But since Edge has been pissing me off lately (Matt Hardy released? Yeah, I'm not happy about that), he'll probably win, even though I like the possibility of Benoit beating the guy who's technically the #1 contender.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Edge d. Chris Benoit.
I'm upset (though not shocked) that WWE hasn't used the history card here more. You have two guys that go back three years in the company's own storylines, starting on SmackDown, and have captured the Raw version of the tag team titles on two separate ocassions. There's a lot more to this feud than a ladder match that happened last month.

Still, this is my clear pick for match of the night. They are doing everything right with Edge these days, from having him carry the briefcase to the ring for every match, to constantly whining about how he's getting screwed, to sleeping with his best friend's woman (oh, wait). It makes all the sense in the world for him to continue on with this push until, say, SummerSlam, when he challenges whomever is his brand's champion at that time.

As for Benoit, he'll recover from a loss here. I guarantee he'll look more spectacular losing here than he would getting the victory.

The Cubs Fan Says... Edge d. Chris Benoit.
Sometimes I think Chris Benoit, the wrestler, is awful dumb. This is one of those times. See, he was in the Four Horseman, he teamed with Mongo, he knows the amazing knockout power a briefcase can have, and yet he's fighting a guy with a briefcase. Bad move, wolverine. Not to mention being the four most over thing in this match: Matt, Edge, the briefcase, Benoit.
Matt Hocking Says... Edge d. Benoit.
Thus begins the official stage one of the Edge push.  The WWE is obviously serious about this, at this point, because Edge hasn't blown off his big match with Batista yet.  They're letting it simmer, letting Edge get momentum before they can finally pull the trigger.  It all starts here, with
what proably will be Edge's best match of the series leading up to Edge v. Batista.  Benoit will pull a good match out of Edge, which is exactly what he needs here, and the "Last Man Standing" stip adds a lot of compelling possibilities, namely in the potential submission swappery between the two of them.  My guess would be that they try to work the "injured arm" from Wrestlemania into the finish somehow (if they still remember it's there) and Edge wins with a Crossface or something.  Something that moves him from
"whiny guy with a briefcase" to "maybe a baddass?  still has briefcase."
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Edge d. Benoit.
I really hate seeing Benoit lose and I find it hard to believe that given the character they have Benoit portray that he would ever stay down for a 10 count, but it seems like Edge needs the win more than Benoit does.  Now that Edge has that contract, it seems to me that they are forced to keep him looking like a number one contender until he has his match.  Otherwise the whole gimmick is wasted.  I am really looking forward to this one and they better give it a lot of time.  Benoit has just been so damn convincing in the last month with the way he's been beaten and abused and never gives up. I think we'll see a finish similar to the HHH/Jericho match from 2000.  Both men go down for 9, Edge somehow gets up before 10 only to collapse again.  This way you keep both men strong and you avoid that really crappy draw ending that they frequently do with Last Man Standing matches.
Jeb Lund Says... Edge d. Benoit.
I can't decide if Edge's push should be called Project Steroids, Project INTENSE ONE-DIMENSIONAL ANGRY GUY or simply Project No Consequences. I never really joined any Edge bandwagon at any point in his career, and with backstage revelations about him, I'm even less inclined. Edge seems like a grade-A shitheel, and I guess it works out nicely that he's portraying one as well. Suffice to say that WWE seems to like the guy — all character traits to the contrary — and seem fully behind him in the Money in the Bank angle. Benoit can easily figure out a way to look exceptional while losing to Edge, and I think his efforts can also reflect well on Edge too. Benoit is the right man to lose this match, because the way he'll do it will make both of them look good enough to jump into a main event at a moment's notice.
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Edge d. Benoit.
I think I just talked myself into believing the end is near for our Wrestling God. Who, ironically enough, does not need to script much of anything in the back.

Too bad. Benoit might not have popped a big number for the PPVs, but I would think his DVD sales more than made up for that. Not that Edge is chopped liver by any means. Nobody will accuse WWE of burying Benoit should he lose here.
PyroFalkon Says...  Chris Benoit d. Edge.
At first, I thought Edge would win. I didn’t see Benoit pulling this off. I mean, I have this small thought that the WWE will continue to push Edge through the BS he’s been dealing with off-camera. Plus, I’ve got too many faces picked so far.

But, faces seldom lose weird stipulations. I don’t think the WWE has done a Last Man Standing match in over a year, so I think Benoit will get it here. I just have this really ugly feeling I’ll be 2-for-3 with these first three picks.

Rocky Swift Says... Chris Benoit d. Edge.

The bones are clear on the message here: the ding-ding. Both of these men have risked their careers by listening to their little soldiers. In the history of man, innumerable accomplishments have been made possible because of the indomitable will of the penis. The wee-wee just won't be satisfied: it must plunge into every possible challenge (especially Woman), dragging along the sorry sack of meat behind it. This match is essentially a battle between two unstoppable dicks. The bonds of marriage, decorum and good taste are no match for their passion. In the end, Benoit pulls it off, because we all know that short guys have the biggest, most volcanic meat missiles.
Big Danny T Says... Edge d. Chris Benoit.
For sheer toughness, I would of course pick Benoit, but Edge has a main event sometime in the future to plan for, what with the whole "money in the bank" deal, and He needs a win to keep us thinking he's actually got a shot at it. Edge wins, through nefarious means, of course.
Rick Scaia Says... Edge d. Chris Benoit.
For whatever reason, WWE has not seen fit to push Chris Benoit into a spot on the card commensurate with his talent and abilities. I still feel very strong that until Batista has a blow-away match with somebody else, that his excellent showing against Benoit back in January is ample evidence that Benoit should get the push to be Batista's first post-HHH challenger. Simply because the series of matches would be quality enough that they'd legitimize Batista as a champion and as a main eventer and as a reason to plop down your money once a month.

But WWE blew plenty of chances to set that up prior to WM, and although Benoit did score a win over Edge 3 weeks ago, he's also since dropped a match to Christian and then was almost completely invisible on RAW last week. Not exactly the resume of a guy who's about to win a big match and get bumped up a few notches higher on the card. Meantime, Edge still has a future title shot, and is one of RAW's most ubiquitous heel personalities. So even though I think the best case scenario is Benoit winning (giving Edge something to bitch and whine about, which is when his character is best, and giving Benoit's career a little goosing), I must apply the "WWE Think" filter, and arrive at Edge scoring the (possibly tainted) win. Plus, you can't win a Last Man Standing match via Tap Out, so that's about 90% of Benoit's chances to win out the window....

Anything goes in a Last Man Standing Match, but I still think it might be the start of a useful new character hook if Edge started using his "Money in the Bank" satchel as a weapon to get him out of tough jams. A "loaded briefcase" gimmick is straight out of the 80s, if nothing else, which means it's right in WWE's current Sweet Spot. And if, after a hardfought battle in which Benoit wouldn't stay down for ANYthing, he finally stayed down after one Briefcase Shot, I think that'd be a perfect way to establish the gimmicked satchel, and it'd also be a way for Benoit to "save face" by taking everything Edge dished out until the brick-to-the-head (or whatever you'd put in a briefcase to turn it into a dangerous weapon).

So I'm OK with Edge winning under the right circumstances, I guess. The only thing I really will insist upon: just please, no draw. I fricking HATE the double-count-out as the finish to a Last Man Standing Match. And it's less than 18 months since the last time WWE used that crutch, so it can't possibly be in play again so soon.


InterContinental Title Match

Curiously, here's another one that you could say dates back to Taboo Tuesday. It's just that the stuff that's happened between then and now isn't nearly as intense as what's gone down between Benoit and Edge.

The story here is that Jericho was the IC Champ back last October, when Shelton won fan voting to earn a PPV title shot. And Shelton made the most of it, upending Jericho in a solid 15-minute match. Jericho, not wanting to stir the pot at the time, presented Shelton with the title in sportsmanlike fashion and didn't really wage a concerted effort at regaining the belt.

Shelton embarked upon his reign and mostly seemed to be feuding with Christian at first. Which was quality. But then when that fizzled out, there really wasn't a whole lot for Shelton to do. He kind of spun his wheels, issuing an open challenge to all contenders, and mowing down all-comers as they stepped up. Which sounds cool, except the guys stepping up weren't exactly the A-List. Shelton's most sustained "feud" of 2005 prior to WM21 was a 3-week mini-arc with Gene Snitsky. Oy.

Jericho got to have some fun with the "Guest GM" deal after being on the winning team at Survivor Series, but has also been largely spinning his wheels lately, with no particularly memorable feuds so far in 2005. 

So that's how the two wheel-spinning, water-treading, highly-talented stars ended up getting tossed together in the aforementioned "Money in the Bank" six-way match at WM21. Cuz they really had nothing better to do. Didn't stop them from delivering the goods at Mania, though; especially Shelton, who hit a handful of Holy Shit spots over the course of the match.

Coming out of the match, however, the two gravitated towards each other. Jericho, not happy about coming up short in the ladder match, took a moment to reflect on his recent past, and determined that he lost his focus and intensity when he lost the IC Title to Shelton back at Taboo Tuesday. So in an effort to regain his edge, he decided to launch his first concerted campaign to regain the IC Title. Shelton wasn't afraid to agree to the match... nor was he afraid to unleash a few zingers on Jericho, including mockery of Jericho's band Fozzy. Jericho didn't see the humor in this, though, and followed up by actually bringing out Fozzy's guitar player a week later to serenade Benjamin with the hit single "Shelton is a Little Bitch." Although Jericho seems to have stepped into the role as the de facto heel here, he was cheered wildly this past week on RAW, and part of the fun of this feud is knowing both these guys are good, and that we're free to cheer for who we like. Even if Jericho's bringing the assholitude, the fact is: he's one of them lovable assholes. My kind of guy.

Again, much like Benoit/Edge, I shouldn't have to say a damned thing about the likely quality of this match. Jericho's rock solid, and if anything, I get more of a kick out of his heel riffs than I do out of his babyface licks, so that's good. And Shelton? More and more, he's effortlessly hitting the Spot of the Night, and has the ability to make everybody around him look a step slower by comparison. Again, my favorite label for Shelton is "AJ Styles, except with personality." Just about the only thing that puts this down a peg or three below Benoit/Edge for me is the fact that there's not nearly the same caliber of intensity or backstory, and that could translate into a deficit of crowd heat (especially if fans are put off by the fact that Jericho wants to play the heel, but they want to cheer for Jericho). We'll see how that plays out, and even at worst it'll only be a mild distraction to what should be a very well-worked and entertaining match...

The OOutlOOk
Shelton wins: 9 votes   --|--  Jericho wins: 2 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Chris Jericho.
This is the other reason to watch this show. Shelton Benjamin is good it's scary, and I'd like to think that WWE would be smart enough to build on his momentum that he built up from his show-stopping performance at WrestleMania. Besides, it's Jericho in a PPV match. He never wins those, no matter how much I hope and pray otherwise. All I'm asking for this time around is 20 minutes.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Chris Jericho.
Benjamin needs a feud to get his career going -- the crap he's done since winning the title at Taboo Tuesday just ain't cutting it. Maybe a prolonged feud with Jericho is just what he needs. I still think, with a little bit of luck, Benjamin could be one of the biggest stars in the company over the next 12 to 24 months.

The one thing I DON'T want to see here is a typical face-face matchup. That's boring, and it doesn't really work for two guys who weren't all that friendly to begin with. The traditional pre-match setup (Benjamin/Hogan saves Jericho/Warrior from La Resistance/Earthquake & Dino Bravo) leads me to think it may be one of those. But it would be so much better if either Benjamin or Jericho (or even both for that matter) heel it up a little.

The Cubs Fan Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Chris Jericho.
You know, while I perceive Jericho as a guy expected to be moved over to SmackDown, I believe swapping Shelton might work out better for all involved, because maybe that brand can come up with a decent feud for him, Haas or whoever. Shelton wins here because why not.
Matt Hocking Says... Chris Jericho d. Shelton Benjmain.
This match honestly has me competely and totally befuddled.  The WWE has done a fine job of saying, "here are two very interesting guys who will likely have a very good wrestling match," but they have not given me compelling enough reason to say that I think one guy should or will win over the other.  Both options are just peachy, and if one or the other DOESN'T win, then it's no big deal, they just either continue with the feud, or go on to something completely different, no-harm, no-foul.

So the tie should go to the champion, right?  Well, for reasons unknown to me, I just can't fathom Shelton Benjamin winning this match.  I don't know, why, it's just a mental block.  I'm fine with him winning if he DOES, but I don't think he will.  Made to explain myself, I guess I would point out that Jericho certainly had a match on Monday for SOME reason.  They don't just trot Sylvain Grenier out there for nothing, and I think more than anything else, it was to first establish him as a winner (with a winning finisher) and then allow Shelton to get in the last shot, so as to postion Jericho as the underdog for this match.  My guess?  Shelton and Jericho both show shades of heelishness throughout, but Jericho does something especially nasty, showing his veteran cunning, and gets the win.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Chris Jericho.
For the most part this one is a pick'em.  Both men are pretty equal and neither one really needs a win over the other.  I think for the pure standpoint that Jericho doesn't need the title, whereas Shelton may hurt a little without it is the only reason I'm giving Shelton the win.  As with the Last Man Standing match, I have high expectations from these two.  With only 6 matches on the show (and you know Kane/Vis won't last long) I'm hoping they give these two plenty of time as well.  The crowd reaction will be very interesting for this one.  If the crowd is mixed, that will be fine.  If the crowd is against Jericho, that should be cool too as Jericho can handle being heelish at the drop of a dime.  If the crowd is against Benjamin, things may get a little rough.  But in the end I see Benjamin prevailing, which I think could lead to a lot of possiblities.  It could lead to a full-on Jericho heel turn.  It could lead to a lengthy Jericho/Benjamin feud.  Perhaps a Best-of-7 series done properly.  However, with the draft coming up, I suppose it's best we don't try making too many guesses since things could change at a moment's notice.
Jeb Lund Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Chris Jericho.
I don't think Shelton can be bumped up to main-event level any time soon, and I don't think a decent win over Jericho really puts him anywhere as a champion. He retains: then what? We're back where we started. Shelton seems to be treading water lately, and I think a surprise loss could get him back on track. It could kick off three-month feud where each step of the way, Jericho ramps up the heelishness just a bit more, eking out cheaper win after cheaper win. Meanwhile, Benjamin would have a good foil on the mic, and could work on articulating his character and getting more comfortable in the promo department, while having to do a little more in each subsequent match. It would be a serviceable way to regain his momentum, which has stalled of late. But I don't think it happens. For any number of reasons. Jericho could be jumping brands after the lottery. Maybe WWE doesn't want Jericho having another title run if it looks as if he won't renew his contract with the company. Or maybe they realize that not having anything for Benjamin to do is slightly better than running out yet another Jericho IC reign and not having anything for him to do either. Whatever: Benjamin retains.
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Chris Jericho.
My Immo-senses are tingling for this one. I have a sudden suspicion that we're in for a mass exodus of technical wrestlers to Smackdown! Which may mean that Benjamin gets banished. But I think that's a case of overthink on my part. Jericho is Teflon. Benjamin is doing just fine as I-C champ. No reason to change the formula here.
PyroFalkon Says...  Chris Jericho d. Shelton Benjamin.
Although Benjamin needs this win more than Jericho (since Jericho can just be there on RAW on May 2nd and keep any heat he may have lost), Benjamin has also held the belt for a really long time. Do you realize there’s basically been only two IC champs in the past 18 months so?

So anyway, I think the belt should change hands. Jericho doesn’t need it, but the belt may need him after being stagnant so long. Besides, he can always drop it at the next PPV or on a RAW some time.

Rocky Swift Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Chris Jericho.

There is no apparent pattern at all in the bones. It is a totally random and nonsensical amalgamation. In stark contrast, this match is a brilliantly orchestrated, perfectly executed work of excellence. No the infallible bones seem to be wrong here. Only a fool would set up a match between two superior performers in their athletic prime. Much more intriguing is to take the same two wrestlers and have them recite asinine, unfunny put-downs at each other. Benjamin wins because his name has more syllables, therefore handicapping Jericho whenever he tries to goof on him.
Big Danny T Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Chris Jericho.
Oh what a cool match this is going to be. They've built themselves up so that it looks like they have genuine dislike for each other, and that's when feuds become good. They'll put on a great show, but in the end, Shelton will extend his perfect record against Jericho to 3-0.
Rick Scaia Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Chris Jericho.
In a lot of ways, this is a tougher call that I thought it'd be. I figured I'd apply my "Jericho never wins on PPV" heuristic and that'd be that. But then I applied me "what would be best for the IC title scene" heuristic, and what I came up with was "Jericho should win."

In fact, I've had to delete a 3-paragraph summary here in which I picked Jericho to win. Because although it was good stuff, and made sense, and would have FINALLY given RAW a sustainable IC Title feud, I simply don't think that's what WWE has in mind. It's not just a "Jericho always loses on PPV" thing. It's just a deal where Shelton's gimmick is taking on all comers and establishing himself by fending them off. Once I stopped to think about it, I realized RAW doesn't WANT a sustainable IC Title feud here. Which is asinine, but it's kind of how I think they're working. [Note: one good reason to not want to be starting some long-arcing IC Title feud is because the Draft Lottery is coming up and might shake things up to the point that an established feud is torpedoed and that a new challenger may arrive for the title.]

So I'm back to Shelton winning, and notching that belt of his one more time as he moves on to a future challenge (why am I envisioning Hassan as being the guy who'll eventually relieve Shelton of the belt? I'll tell you why: because WWE hates me and will not lottery Charlie Haas over to RAW to be the man who takes care of Shelton's reign, like they should). To be honest, the best way to keep a Shelton/Jericho feud going would have also entailed a heel turn (along with a title change), so that probably wasn't the most realistic projection. Really the only way Jericho could win and WWE could maintain what I suspect is their current plan would be to have him win, and to have Shelton win it back on RAW at some point during May. Which would be a cool sweeps-month thing to do, but WWE seems to have really gotten away from the rapid-fire title changes.


If Not For the Chicks At Ringside, This One Would REALLY Suck Match

What do you want me to say here? Or rather: what do you think I'm gonna say? Because you can probably write this capsule preview for me, if you have half a head on your shoulders...

This one won't be pretty as a wrestling match. If the fans mutiny the way I expect them to, it could even reach trainwreck proportions if WWE hasn't accounted for a possible forced-double-turn. And yet, the appeal of Trish Stratus grows ever more powerful with each passing week, and I can't help but have a perverse interest in this match.

Here's the story, such as it is: dating back to last summer, Trish Stratus has been a thorn in Lita's side. For my money, Trish was the more reasonable, relateable, and likeable of the two, as at least she wasn't whoring herself out to Kane, getting pregnant, and then having to marry said impregnator. Lita, once she was unpregnant, tried to return the side-thorning favor by going after Trish's Women's Title. She actually succeeded on that front. For about a month, anyway. In the rematch, Trish not only won the strap back, but Lita blew out her knee and hasn't been able to compete since.

But that's when the Loving Husband came into play. Despite the dubious way the couple were brought together, Kane and Lita bonded (an in a sign of True Love, even started talking alike) as they went after Gene Snitsky. So that meant that when Trish came after Lita, she was also angering Kane. Earlier this year, that meant Trish briefly seemed to go partners with Snitsky to provide back-up against Kane, but thankfully, that fizzled to nothingness pretty fast. And after Lita got hurt, that was also pretty much the end of Kane tormenting Trish.

But then Lita came back as the spirit guide for Christy Hemme, as Christy tried to beat Trish for the women's title. Spaz, thankfully, came up short, but Lita's return to TV (even in a semi-hobbled state) meant the resumption of the Trish/Lita story. And when Trish quickly re-proved her dominance over Lita with an attack 3 weeks ago, that meant the resumption of Kane coming to the rescue.

So clever broad that she is, Trish implemented a multi-layered plan: first, she tried to smooth over the hostilities by apologizing to Lita and asking for a fresh start. If that had gone over, Trish wouldn't have to deal with Kane ever again. But it didn't go over: Lita wanted no part of that, and in fact had a little surprise for Trish... after Trish's heartfelt plea, Lita released the Kraken! Kane came out to attack Trish, but that's when Layer #2 kicked in: Viscera came to Trish's rescue and beat the crap out of Kane.

But Trish also got more than she bargained for: when she obtained Viscera's services by promising a return favor, she was thinking innocently and chastely. But Viscera wasn't. After a dinner date spent keeping the rather-humorously-unsmooth Viscera at arm's length in a polite fashion, Trish finally just cut to the chase... she told Viscera that she came to him to help her get rid of Kane, and that until he takes care of "bidness," he'd better keep his mind out of the gutter and his outer organ in his pants. Or as she put it, "Until you do the deed, we don't." 

If Trish wasn't holding all the high cards and in total control of the situation, it'd seem slimy and wrong that the unstated stipulation of this match is "For the privilege of banging Trish whether she wants Viscera to or not." But in a historical first, WWE seems to have written a strong female character in Trish, who is simply out to get what she wants, and will dangle whatever she has to to accomplish it; enhancing that is the way Trish is playing the role without seeming bitchy or overly-manipulative, which is a threat anytime you enter the realm of sexual blackmail.
Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's something that'll be more pervasive given recent fan reactions to Lita (and which have rubbed off on Kane) and the general way that Lita has seemingly been written heelishly lately, but I'm definitely cheering for *Trish* in this match more than anyone. For her to get what she wants in terms of safety from Kane, for her to manage to do so while keeping Viscera at bay, everything. Of course, this opens me up for the Trish Sympathy Gene to kick in, gangbusters, if she ends up taking a wicked chokeslam bump before the match is up, doesn't it? Goddamn my all-pervasive wussiness!

Again: I don't look for Kane and Viscera to exactly deliver a **** classic, but things like watching Trish's story play out and observing how the fans decide to react to this match have me quite intrigued nonetheless. I'd be worried about admitting that in public, but I think my Internet Smark Membership card has long since been revoked by the authorities...

The OOutlOOk
Kane wins: 7 votes   --|--  Viscera wins: 4 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Viscera d. Kane.
Oh, for fuck's sake. Know I how I said I didn't care about several of the matches on this card? Yeah. Lita and Trish are really the only reasons to care about this, because the match will blow. When picking this match, I asked myself this question: what outcome will create the most potential for more fun Trish/Viscera interaction? The answer: a Viscera win, but one in which he fails to completely decimate Kane. Vis will be wanting to get his piece from Trish, and she'll say he didn't finish the job. That should be fun, at least. I'll probably sleep through the match, though.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Kane d. Viscera.
This isn't nearly as bad as it's being made out to be. Viscera is not a workrate machine, true, but the guy does his job (Big Fat Thug) well. His newly acquired charisma doesn't hurt either. Give both Big Vis and Trish all the credit in the world from making this at least interesting.

Poor Kane, I really do feel for the guy. Not because of this match, per se, but because of the endless string of awful stories he's been involved in since they first turned him into a (supposed) world-beating heel almost two years ago. If he can't pin fucking Mabel, then maybe it's time to take a good look at his shattered life.

The Cubs Fan Says... Kane d. Viscera.
There's something very off about Viscera getting a PPV bonus and not, say, Christian (so far.) Since Kane's going to keep being Kane regardless, the deciding factor is "does the RAW writing crew want to write another week of skits between Viscera and Trish?" I'm guessing no.
Matt Hocking Says... Kane d. Viscera.
Let's face it, Viscera and Trish are much more interesting at this moment than any two given people in the company.  But there's no way the WWE can pay it off.  Now, our very own The Rick has mentioned the little hints that suggest that Kane is Evolution bound, and while I think that's an interesting suggestion, I don't think it's one that's quite going to fly quite yet.  My guess is that this is a filler attempt to keep the girls together in storylines until an inevitable Trish/Lita match can happen, and that can't take place for a few months yet, which means a few PPVs worth of filler to go.

Assuming Kane, Lita and Trish don't get drafted (which I don't think they will), I think this is just a start to an angle of Trish trying out hired gun after hired gun to get Kane eliminated from the Trish/Lita equation (I can't imagine they'll stay with Viscera, because as entertaining as he has been, lighting is only going to strike so many times with a guy of his limited in-ring talent, and one note charismatic appeal).  Were THAT true, then Viscera can lose here, sparing us the "bidness" on Monday, and Trish can begrudgingly use her assets to try to draw the next poor shlub into the ring with Kane.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Kane d. Viscera.
Who would have thought that this feud would ever be seen on PPV?  Especially in the year 2005.  But it has and the worst part is I'm actually rooting for Vis.  Kane, mainly due to association with Lita, has just been so unlikable lately.  Vis, on the other hand, has somehow provided some entertaining moments for the past couple of weeks.  Let's face it this one is not going to be pretty.  In fact I give the over/under for J.R. calling the match "bowling shoe ugly" at 2:30.  But, with the ladies around at ringside, I'm hoping they can do enough to polish this turd up a bit.  Despite the fact that I'm rooting for Vis, I actually chose Kane to win.  Why?  Well frankly, Vis is Vis and he'll never amount to anything more than a 500 lbs. jobber.  Kane, while not having a stellar PPV record easily gets the win here.  Much to Trish's, and mine, annoyance.
Jeb Lund Says... Kane d. Viscera.
I'll clue you in to something. Normally, I use a basic rule to predict Kane matches. I ask myself, "What is the most humiliating thing that can happen to Kane the character and Glen Jacobs, the wrestler?" Whatever it is, that's my prediction. But every formula has to break down sometimes, except for the ones involving Pi and circumference and stuff. Okay, fine. Lots of formulas don't break down. But I think this one will. I can't see Kane losing to Viscera, because there's a point at which even WWE's ritual humiliation and disregard stops. Also, I don't think WWE will greenlight any story in which Viscera gets to nail Trish Stratus.
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Viscera d. Kane.
From what I understand, the crowd response for Lita has been overwhelmingly negative since, well, you know. It doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon, either. I think you have to make the switch here. Trish and Viscera become a "Beauty and the Beast" combo, played for laughs. I die a little inside. Tomko's interference helps seal the win.
PyroFalkon Says...  Viscera d. Kane.
I hate calling Kane to lose to a career lower midcarder, but Viscera has been pushed a bit recently. Plus, if he wins, we’ll get some more great bits between him and Trish.

We’ve also been forgetting about Mr. Snitsky, who’s been off TV for awhile. Something tells me that he might pop up just do some damage and help Viscera take the win.

Rocky Swift Says... Kane d. Viscera.

The bones seem to be showing a big "X", almost as though to repudiate the very idea of this match. The wings looks like they are trying to stab through reality to murder God himself. Maybe the bones hate Viscera because his name epitomizes the goopy substance which their desiccated remains can nevermore realize. Or perhaps they hate more Kane, who seems to represent fire which cooked the wings by way of oil. You know kids, gas really is the ideal way to cook. It allows you to get the pan super hot in a super jiffy, which gives you that nice crispy browning on your veggies.

Oh, and Kane wins. Five minutes after the match, Viscera walks out of the shower and reassures us that he is still a sucky jobber and that this recent flirtation with the upper card was just a horrible dream. 

Big Danny T Says... Kane d. Viscera.
Oh goody, the coin toss. I (actually, Sacajewea) predict Kane, and I'll further add that it will be because of a "hilarious" miscommunication between Trish and Viscera.
Rick Scaia Says... Viscera d. Kane.
A couple things here: 

(1) I briefly toyed with an idea that Kane might just lay down and lose on purpose. This is because Lita's "Trish will get what she deserves" line on Monday seemed quite ominous, like Lita had some secret plan. Having Kane lose on purpose so as to force Trish to sleep with Viscera seemed like just the sort of "revenge" that Lita would come up with. Afterall, wouldn't it be poetic if she was behind forcing Trish into the sack with a 7-foot monster, since she, herself, seems to so enjoying going to bed 7-foot monsters for not-very-good reasons? Except then I realized that Lita's "get what she deserves" line was issued BEFORE Trish hit her "until you do the deed, we don't" line, so there's no continuity there. That can't be Lita's plan.

(2) But thinking about that outcome made me realize something else: that Trish can't really be concerned with winning or losing a match here. She's concerned about getting Kane off her ass. She is, in short, concerned with Taking Care of Bidness. Viscera winning a match, but not putting Kane on the shelf? That ain't TCB. Or at least, I'd have to imagine Trish wouldn't consider it TCB. But Viscera will surely have other ideas. 

(3) If Kane wins, that's not interesting or satisfying, really. It's pretty much just what people expect, and it's also the absolute end of the Trish/Vis storyline. And while Trish is nursing a bad back and until she has a healthy Lita to wrestle against, we need to keep Trish stocked with storylines. Abruptly ending one that's turned out to be surprisingly entertaining ain't a good idea, especially since if this just turns into a deal where Trish runs through every red-blooded male on the Heat roster to do her bidding, it'd get old and dumb really fast. [For various reasons, some more obvious than others, the one exception to that would be Tomko; but right now Tomko's so totally finding a niche with Christian that there's no reason to screw with that, either.] So I say milk Viscera for what you can before moving on! Absolutely nothing good or interesting comes from Kane winning the match. [So, of course: that's what will happen, right?]

Putting all that together, I kind of realized that the best way to keep things rolling in an interesting way to go ahead and have Viscera win, afterall, but not as part of an intentional lay-down by Kane. Instead, what's interesting to me is Trish punking out Lita at ringside, and then interfering in the match just enough for Viscera to win. But when Kane does a Zombie Sit-Up, Trish realizes that Bidness has NOT been Taken Care Of.

And this could lead to another entertaining couple of weeks where Vis thinks he's entitled to some sweet, sweet Trish Lovin', but where Trish disagrees. Because Kane still lives, and Kane is still after her. Vis didn't finish the job, so Vis gets no action. And Trish is entirely in the right, which again reinforces her appeal as a strong female character who is using her wiles to get what she wants, but isn't using them unfairly, if that makes sense. Which is perfect for her character. It's been a long time since any crowd bothered trying to chant "slut" at Trish, and it's because her character seems totally independent and contentedly single and (in a wrestling rarity) NOT defined by the male company she keeps. But just cuz Trish doesn't have a boyfriend doesn't mean that she doesn't sometimes still need A Man to help her take care of Bidness when big, hulking beasts decide to come after her. I like how we've played this deal so far, and can see Trish having to keep Vis at bay because he failed to perform would be the next logical step. Since this basic "Kane torments Trish" storyline will surely linger until Trish vs. Lita finally happens again later this summer, keeping things simmering for Vis with a bit and then, if necessary, having Trish move on to yet another Hired Dude (while keeping it all about Bidness) would be smart plays. And for Kane, he can absorb a loss and sort of screw around in Lita's storyline because I'm not entirely convinced WWE doesn't *intend* for them to turn heel here (whether or not as part of my previously mentioned Kane-to-Evolution idea or not).

I'm sort of over-explaining this and adding extra fluffery to mask the fact that the prediction I came up with on Thursday essentially boils down to exactly the same "did bidness get taken care of or not? debate" idea that Erin submitted. I guess I could do worse than to have her setting up camp right next to Trish inside my skull, huh? But here, in an effort to create additional differentiation, here's a Special Bonus Prediction of Extreme Specificity:

Viscera will get a cheap win over Kane thanks to Trish's interference. But after the match Kane will Zombie Sit-Up and Lita will get involved, and Vis will be unable to stop Kane from chokeslamming Trish (who "gets what she deserves" and in so doing, punches me in my Trish Sympathy Gene; ouch, it hurts already). This will serve a dual purpose: (1) it will vividly underscore the difference between "winning a match" and "taking care of bidness," and will give Viscera a reason to continue pursuing Trish, and even better will give Trish all the ammo she needs to justify NOT sexing Viscera up good. And (2) it will serve to explain Trish real-life back injury in storyline terms, so that if she doesn't actively defend her title, it can be Kane's fault. Also: any excuse for Trish to bust out an Exceptionally Fetching Heel Medical Device Of Extreme Heenanosity is a good one. Casts, facemasks, neckbraces, it doesn't matter: Trish so totally pulls them off!


"Tag Team Turmoil" Match for the World Tag Titles

You think I'm gonna preview this? You're kidding, right?

Here: Regal and Tajiri are the tag team champions and have been since winning the belts in Japan in early February. Since then, they have not even been on TV in a non-retarded capacity more than once or twice. [Note: this doesn't count Heat, since like everybody else, I don't watch Heat. But they've defended the titles honorably on many Sunday nights... we just never hear about it.]

So with the tag division in an utter mess, WWE has just taken all five of their established RAW tag teams (including the just-debuted Heartthrobs), and put them together in this match. Whee?

I don't even know the rules. Gauntlet style? Elimination style? First pinfall wins style? There's enough talent among these 10 that it shouldn't suck. But there's enough shitty creative team work over the past 3 months to ensure that not a single fan will care. And I say that as the biggest Regal/Tajiri fan you know.

The OOutlOOk
Regal/Tajiri win: 5 votes
Heartthrobs win: 4 votes
Simon/Maven win: 1 vote
Christian/Tomko win: 1 vote

Erin Anderson Says... Regal/Tajiri win.
The extent to which I do not care is immeasurable. And I like Regal and Tajiri. So I'm picking them to win.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Simon/Maven win.
This is more a process of elimination type thing than anything else. They've done NOTHING with Regal and Tajiri as tag champs so far, so why NOT take the straps from them? La Resistance have held the titles, what, 38 times in the last two years, so I'd say no to them. The Hearthrobs haven't had a chance to get over yet, and besides, that would be virtually the same storyline as MNM on SmackDown. So that brings me to Maven and Simon.

I actually like them as a team. It gives them both something to do while allowing them to build their characters in a constructive way. Both have enough charisma to keep the team going for a little while. And plus, if Austin was willing to do a sketch with them a few weeks back, that tells me the company has enough confidence in them to give them a short-term reign. At least until The Hearthrobs are ready.

The Cubs Fan Says... Regal/Tajiri win.
I am picking this match under protest. Twelve days, we were told - promised! - La Resistance was getting it's Last Chance Ever for the tag team championships, and now the WWE has taken back their fabulous gift. How can you expect me to pick this match when they've broken my heart? I'll never trust Coach again. I think the Heart Throbs not even getting a RAW cameo probably means their stock has dropped dramatically, and if I'd be giving away that I'm throwing this if I picked Simon and Maven. Hurricane and Rosey almost had Regal and Tajiri beat three weeks ago, which would mean something if Hurricane and Rosey weren't involved. I'll pick the guy who has the book to plug.
Matt Hocking Says... The Heartthrobs win.
Firstly because the WWE has a hardon for establishing brand new teams by immediately handing them the tag team titles, and secondly because every report I've heard suggests to me that these guys have to have viginettes to REALLY get over, and given the current state of the tag division, I can't see them getting viginettes without the titles.  Plus Regal and Tajiri and Hurricane and Rosey will be right there for starter feuds.

At the time of the writing, I'm not sure about the format, but I'm going to guess it'll be Tag Team Turmoil (two teams start, a new team enters with every elimination) rules, if for no other reason than to stretch out the card as much as possible with "extra tag matches".  Maybe it'll be a four corners, though, and they'll rush it to pad the matches later on the card.  Your guess is as good as mine on that one.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Christian/Tomko win.
OK, so I know my pick isn't involved in this match.  But then again, Flair and Batista weren't officially announced as being part of Tag Team Turmoil back at Armadeggon 2003 and they still won it.  Let's face it, of the teams announced, 3 of them are complete jobbers who have lost time and time again.  One is a new team and since a new team just won the straps on Smackdown means they won't do it here as well.  And then there are the current champs, who much to Rick's disappointment, aren't setting the world on fire.  Nothing would excite the peepulation anymore than to see Captain Charism show up at the last minute and get another tag title reign.  Then, when the draft comes, you can still have Christian be drafted, the titles become vacated and then you can have the Heart Throbs win them or perhaps you can find another suitable tag team by that time to win them.
Jeb Lund Says... the Heartthrobs win.
Because it will be so fresh and neat. Also, if Regal's not obliged to spend segments having tag matches, he can spend them pimping his book and getting into awkward situations regarding it. And did I mention how fresh, invigorating, neat and visionary a Heartthrobs win would be?
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... the Heartthrobs win.
I thought La Resistance already had their last shot at Regal/Tajiri on Heat? Oh, I should know, what happens on Heat, stays on Heat.

The new guys win. That's the way WWE seems to prefer dealing with their "secondary" belts. Oy.
PyroFalkon Says...  Regal/Tajiri win.
Clusterfuck matches like this normally result in the champs retaining. But, to do the method of elimination…

La Resistance has done their thing. If they win, we’re basically rewinding the clock by six months, which doesn’t serve anybody.

Hurricane & Rosey should get it at some point just to placate me, but the WWE doesn’t have the same view. They’ll probably never get the belts, and they certainly won’t get them Sunday.

Simon & Maven are a good team, but I think they’re too young (their TEAM’S age, that is) to get the belts. They need a few more victories together first.

The Heartthrobs are the same way. They’re probably destined for the belts at SOME point, just not this Sunday.

That leaves the champs retaining. But then again, that’s ANOTHER face winning. Bloody hell…

Rocky Swift Says... the Heartthrobs win.

Has-beens, posers, crummy gimmicks, never-will-be's and...who? There's a lot going on in this match, and the bones seem confused. But as you can see from the picture, there seems to be an cross-shaped cluster. I interpret this to mean that two teams will join forces to eliminate the others. 

The bones indicate that these copulation may be comprised of the Simon/Maven and Heartthrobs teams, as they both have really nothing better to do. The bones indicate that the Heartthrobs will prevail as they are the least deserving, and therefore the most deserving according the Bizzaro world logic or professional wrestling.

Big Danny T Says... Regal/Tajiri win.
Ok, here's where I do a bit of fantasy booking. This match will play out Royal Rumble style. Two teams start, and every 3 minutes, we get a new team. As a new team enters, they take up another corner and it becomes a 4-way dance elimination match, with pinfalls/submissions replacing over
the top rope. Some comedy can be used here as Maven and Dean try to get tagged in, but nobody wants to tag them in. I say Regal/Tajiri start with La Resistance, and everyone else in in whatever order, but save the Heartthrobs to be eliminated last by Regal and Tajiri. The reasons for my choosing them is because none of the other teams really have enough heat on them to grab the titles yet, and Regal and Tajiri have unfinished business with Hassan and Divari, so there's your feud.
Rick Scaia Says... Regal/Tajiri win.
No reason here except that there's no good reason to take the belts off Regal/Tajiri at this point. I can't justify putting the straps on the Heartthrobs, simply because that'd be too direct a rip-off of SD!'s title win by MNM. And I can't justify putting them on any of the other three teams simply because they're all even LOWER PROFILE and LESS OVER than the champs. 

Except La Resistance. But they shouldn't win either, cuz didn't they have their "final title shot ever" back 2-3 weeks ago on Heat? Champs retain, and for shits and giggles, let's say that maybe Eugene shows up to help. Since lord knows that's about the only way that this match will generate any crowd interest whatsoever.



Six announced matches is all well and good. But there's gonna be more than that on Sunday. You can Bank On It (tm, Veronica Mar... d'oh, I mean: tm, Canadian Bulldog). Here's some of our thoughts on that matter.

The OOutlOOk

Erin Anderson Says... Naptime d. Writing Extras Section.
Writing this little section is the only thing keeping me from some much-needed sleep. As if the rest of my previews weren't half-assed enough, here's all I have to say: the useless divas will piss me off, Chris Masters will piss me off, and Christian will show up and continue to rule the universe.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Divas in Full Nelsons!
What will Christian do on the show? Well, it better be SOMETHING. I'm thinking this is going to be a career year for Captain Charisma, and I can see a face turn by year-end for sure. Maybe he'll whine to Bischoff that he doesn't have a match, perhaps he'll make an open challenge (but to WHO?). Either way, I'd definitely expect some mic time for the CLB.... And just because I'm paying good money to watch an event that I'm going to sneak into a movie theater for free to see, I'm sure WWE is going to bombard with me (a) A useless Chris Masters segment and (b) A useless Divas segment. Why not combine the two, and have Marblemouth Chris put Maria in the full-nelson? Now THAT would be good entertainment!!!
The Cubs Fan Says... Uninspired, yes. But did WWE make it so on purpose?
This is a uninspiring card. Edge/Benoit and probably Jericho/Shelton will be fine matches, but I don't really care about either one. The last TV was centered around a guy who doesn't even have a match right now, although I'm sure they'll put together a random match with someone by Sunday.

I also expect Chris Masters will get a dumb match. They need to be going somewhere with him; I'd prefer they were heading to drawing board, but I'd take anything.

It's probably not the best of ideas to main event the two pay per views following WM with rematches from WM, but maybe they're purposely trying to make the ECW PPV look really fresh and new by comparison.
Matt Hocking Says... Batista wins.
Backlash is really kind of an odd Pay Per View.  You look at it on paper, and kind of say, "Well, that should be pretty good.  You've got workrate matches, story matches, brawls, friggin' Hogan and Michaels teaming, there really is something for everybody ('cept for cruiser and women's wrestling
fans, sorry kids).  But there isn't really one match on the card, but for Hogan/Michaels v. Hassan/Daivari where you go, "Hey, I've really gotta see that match."  Good matches, with a decent, month-long timer?  Yes.  But anything that really strikes me as must-see?  No.

Then again, you never know.  Edge/Benoit could end up running away with the show if Edge really brings it, and Jericho/Benjamin will probably be really solid, and HHH/Batista will at least be worth watching.  So, hey, who am I kidding here?  If you're gonna order it, order it.  Otherwise, I'd wait
until the reviews start trickling in, find the one or two guys you trust, and see if there's enough there to warrent the replay.  I wouldn't suggest ordering what, outside of Michaels and Hogan, again, amounts to a realy good RAW card, but hey, if somebody ends up running away with the show, you're gonna want to check it out.
  • Chris Tian will come out and bitch that despite being the fastest rising superstar today, and having a huge Peepulation (which I imagine will get a sizable pop), he is not on the card.  I'm tempted to suggest that he and Tomko are then added to the tag title match, except I think they'd win, and that messes up my thought that they're shipping him to Smackdown.  Then again, there isn't a singles guy on RAW that I couldn't see going a PPV without a match.  So Tian's kinda the odd  man out.  My guess?  Just an extended promo segment, possibly with Bischoff confronting him about his badmouthing of RAW, which is just how he rolls.
  • Chris Masters will put Maria Tennyson Lund in the Masterlock.  When she no-sells, and then giggles, a very confused Masters will give her the thousand dollars and walk away, head down in shame.  Maria will be very excited.  A thousand dollars can buy lots of new shoes.
  • Mean Gene will make another guest appearance to interview the Hulkster and HBK, much to the chagrin of The Coach. 
  • The Lean Diva Squad will make an appearance to stand around while Viscera fumbles to hit on them, until he is pulled away by Trish and the girls are left to titter.  Tee Hee.  "Titter".  This will be the worst segment of the night, which again, completely befuddles Chris Masters.
  • Triple H will mention at least four times in various backstage segments that Batista can NOT under ANY circumstances kick out of the Pedigree, making sure that EVERBODY understands that point.  Ric Flair will concur, adding, "That's why you're the champ!  WOO!" even though Triple H is no
    longer the champ.

Enjoy the PPV, folks.  OMG HULK HOGAN~!

Adam Gutschmidt Says... Dayton hOOters: One Final Trip Down Mammary Lane.
While my scenario for tag team turmoil is unlikely, there is no denying that Christian should still have a big role on the PPV.  The entire Christian Coalition would protest if there wasn't.  I don't know if that means having him have a last minute match (no decent opponent is coming to mind at the moment) or just some heavy promo action with Bischoff in the back.  The only thing I don't want is for him to have any association with Evolution.  The last thing the CLB needs is to have his heat sucked off by Haitch.
Aside from that, I'm sure the bimbos will pop in (or hopefully out) at some point but I can't see them getting involved for more than simply a mindless backstage bit.  As for me, I'll be taking in some boobery of my own as I head out to the Dayton Hooters for one last show before I graduate.  It will be the last time I'll get to hang out with some of my favorite people like: the rednecks who cheer Randy Orton, the scrawny guy who runs around the place with his torn Undertaker t-shirt, the creepy guy who tries impressing the waitresses with his card tricks, the fat guys who brings bags of candy in the restaurant and of course the pregnant Hooters waitress who flipped off my friend when he refused to give her a tip.  Ahhh, memories...   
Jeb Lund Says... "I hate Family Guy."
• It will take one episode of American Dad for the 50% of viewers who saw the pilot and didn't immediately recognize it as a Family Guy clone, to realize that it's a Family Guy clone.

• Upon seeing the new episode of Family Guy, at least one Arrested Development fan in this world will kick in his fucking television on behalf of the four-episode fucking order that Fox fucking reneged on to bring us the proud return of one of the most overrated pieces of derivative shit ever to hit Fox airwaves.

• Maven will singlehandedly resurrect the Hardcore and European titles, winning them both in six seconds.

LIBRA - During the third match of the show, your tenth grade math teacher — yes, your tenth grade math teacher — will inexplicably think of you and fill with a small measure of pride. You really were going places back then. Good thing your teacher doesn't know you siphon gas from other people's cars.

PISCES - A moment of pure stoned mania will overtake you and lead you to attach a Segway's motor and wheels to your hookah, to the delight of your neighbors and the local constabulary.

CANCER - Despite your girlfriend's steady reassurances, the only thing those pants really go with is the corpse you got them from.
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... A Little Brotherly Love?
Christian gets to complain about not having a match at Backlash, let alone the main event. Perhaps Edge will sympathize and ask for some help in his match.

Interchangeable Divas will dance around to a mixed response. I think a mix of boos and jeers would be appropriate.

There are at least three good matches out of six here, but none will be as good as American Dragon, Puma and Aaron Idol tearing it up last week at the Pacific Cup.
PyroFalkon Says...  "I like Family Guy."
If I suck this time around, it’s all Orton’s fault. Because I still can’t get over the fact he actually impressed me on the last Byte This!, and his performance is still on my mind. As the new Standard OO Policy goes, when something sucks, just blame Orton. Everything will fall into place then.

Now, with all these faces winning on my list, Christian damn well better have a match and win to strike the balance. Either way, with his popularity coming pretty quick, I think he should be facing tweeners here. If he’s bound for SmackDown! in the draft, then that would be the perfect time to turn him (as they did Shelton Benjamin). They’ll have to prep that turn by having him face throwaway heels or tweeners, so they may as well start this Sunday.

Who could he face? He really hasn’t had issues with anyone not on Sunday’s card, I don’t think. Maybe when Chris Masters wastes our time, Christian comes out and beats the shit out of him. That’s a turn, and gives Masters something to do other than drive the elevator that sends us to the 12th circle of Hell. And it would go over like gangbusters, or something… Hell, Triple H would turn face if he’d go and beat up Chris Masters.

Don’t forget the worthless Divas, wasting our time more! I have an idea: Christy Hemme versus the field in a very special Pink Slip on a Pole Match! Because Christy actually has the ability to do things other than, you know, standing around and jiggling, she’d win by a landslide.

Too many frickin’ similar names. Christy, Chris (Benoit), Chris (Jericho), Chris (Masters), Christian… It’s worse than too many Ricks.

But I digress. As exciting as our Rick has made Backlash sound, I’m not falling for our own hype, and I’ll comfortably sitting on my ass watching the return of Family Guy and the South Park marathon. This will be the first PPV I didn’t actually buy this year. Or is it the second? Well, who cares as long as I get better than .500 on my picks.

Ramble ramble… Go Hogan! 

Rocky Swift Says... It's in the bones.

I must admit that I haven't been watching wrestling in, well, a long time. But I keep track of it! Kind of like the Old Man from "The Old Man And the Sea" who stayed so committedly abreast of the progress of the New York Yankees via only the newspaper. Except my newspaper is a screen of liquid crystals excited by streams of electrons, and my Yankees are underfed Asian women in various states of undress and bondage. And also wrestlers! 

So in order to complete my picks for this UnderForgivimSlamm, I had to consult the bones, those infallible prognosticators of fixed contests (Who made a bundle on the Red Sox championship? Me and the bones, that's who!).

The bones, of course, are chicken wings made by my own self, in a spicy sauce made by my own self and drenched into bleu cheese dressing also having been made by my own self. Predicting the future by way of reading the patterns in randomly thrown bones is an ancient art, perhaps even 30 YEARS OLD and about which two books and four large, book-like pamphlets have been written. For the purposes of this predilection, I prepared and ate the wings, then I used them to predict the winners of this pay-per-view. Also, you can see from the pictures my real-live tatami floor, confirming that I am in Japan, and therefore more in touch with the mystical arts of pre-perception. Behold the future!

Big Danny T Says... Chris Masters Must Graduate to Semi-Jobbers!
Seeing as how this is a PPV, Chris Masters can't just waste our time with some no-name jobber, he'll have to do his masterlock challenge with a somewhat well known jobber. I'm actually hoping they do this, as I'll probably need a bathroom break. I also predict heavy hyping from Christy Hemme on the upcoming Diva Search. As for Christian, I say give him a match, maybe against Eugene for whatever reason they can think up.
Rick Scaia Says... Through a Peephole, Coachly.
There's three things that I figure are LOCKS to happen.

(1) Christian has to do something. He's been too red-hot lately to not get something to do on the PPV. And not just a throw-away backstage segment. I figure he could reasonably stick his nose in the main event. But here's what I REALLY want: an in-ring promo in which Christian ends up calling out Coach, and then turns on Coach, blaming him for Monday's loss to Batista. Coach is a great patsy, Christian is toying with a face turn, so it's great on so many levels. A physical assault on Coach is entirely optional.

(2) Chris Masters will do something, but he shouldn't. This will make me angry. But at least it will be easy to recap: "The Wade Keller Caliber Shitty Recap of a Pointless Segment" is my new favorite running gag! Cut, paste, done, baby!

(3) Useless Divas will make an appearance, since lord knows they have a fricking magazine and DVD they are trying to sell, and at least on PPV you can actually bust out the thongs. This won't necessarily make me as angry as Chris Masters. It'll more make me sad. On behalf of poor, poor Molly, who in the ultimate ironic twist, never looked hotter than in said Diva Magazine and is so totally more interesting a babe than Boobsie McTitsalot.


And that is all. Six announced matches, three of which are almost guaranteed to be fun for various reasons. If the main event clicks, that could be entertaining, too; and unlike most, I'm not COMPLETELY writing off the chances of Vis/Kane being amusing in its own unique way. You find some way for Christian to show up and keep building on his past 3 weeks of awesomeness, and I'm thinking Backlash could deliver the goods for us.

But why stretch this out any longer with speculation when we can just wait till Sunday night and find out with our own two eyes how it all goes down?

So let's just all do that. And if you decide against checking out the PPV, well, that's where I can help you out again: I'll have the Backlash PPV Preview posted at some point around midnight, right after the show. Barring major technological disasters like occurred on WM weekend, anyway. 

So cross your fingers, and I should see you Sunday night with the PPV Recap, and then have additional thoughts and fall-out in Monday's OO.

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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