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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
TEAM COVERAGE:
WWE Unforgiven PPV Preview
September 16, 2006

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

 

It's hard not to muster a bit more interest and enthusiasm in this weekend's Unforgiven PPV than is common for an off-month, one-brand edition of "Armaunforjudgmalash."

For one, RAW has had a few genuinely entertaining outings over the past month or so (albeit, interspersed with a few clunkers), which is always a way to keep my curiosity piqued. But for two: TLC and Hell in the Cell on the SAME SHOW? Part of me wants to eyeball punch any WWE Big Wig who books this, and then turns around and creates the "Extreme Rules" handcuffs for ECW, cuz it sure doesn't seem like the same guidelines are applying to both brands....
 

But I guess the bigger part of me doesn't really give a shit about that philosophical argument, and will just revel in this embarrassment of riches. I mean: when has a PPV TLC match not delivered? Never that I can recall... and though the legacy of HitC grows a bit more tarnished over time, the sheer trainwreckiness of throwing five guys (instead of two) 

into the Cell ought to make for a quality Sports Entertainment Segment.

Throw in Trish Stratus' "retirement" match, the always zany Toronto crowd, and an undercard that has a few potential bright spots, and hey, this strikes me as a PPV that should be kind of hard to screw up too badly. 

Of course, now that I've made that bold statement: watch the Fed figure out a way to do just that.

As always, I've assembled the trOOps to supply you with the most comprehensive and multi-faceted PPV Preview anyway. And we come at you in a unique configuration this month. The trOOps actually had me worried when only three of them had submitted picks, and as you'll see, my solution to this was to "save" the Preview by arranging to revive the beloved Tag Team Predictions AIM Transcript Gimmick with Erin. So of course, after we spend 2 hours exploring every possible angle and digression in the name of entertaining OO Nation, there end up being three more sets of picks in my in-box at the very last second. I guess forget the part where we formed Voltron to "save" the Preview, and just focus on the part where Erin agreed to do it because it would piss off Hocking.

Still, I'm quite confident that the results will both inform and amuse you, so here goes with the OOfficial lOOk at this Sunday's WWE Unforgiven PPV line-up....
 

EDGE vs. JOHN CENA
Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match for the WWE Title
(If Cena Loses, He Leaves RAW for SmackDown!) 

I didn't have to explain a whole lot in my preview of this match last month, because the story essentially goes back to January, and there's not a whole lot more to add. And the same thing goes here. Let me just crib from my previous summary:

Edge beat Cena for the WWE Title back in January, by craftily cashing in the Money in the Bank at an opportune time. Though Cena regained the belt 3 weeks later, Edge had firmly established himself in the main event mix, and even as Triple H stepped up as Cena's #1 Contender, Edge lurked, and ended up getting himself plugged into a three-way feud (which marked basically RAW's hottest stretch of entertaining shows so far in 2006).

It was in another three way match where Edge won his second WWE Title (defeating Cena and Rob Van Dam about 6 weeks ago)... and since that time, Cena's made it clear he wants his belt back. He got a shot at SummerSlam, in his hometown of Boston and in a match where the rules favored him. But Edge still came out on top (thanks to Lita). 

That brings us up to the latest twists, which involve Cena demanding one last shot, and being willing to do whatever it takes to get it. First, he promised to jump to SD! if he can't beat Edge for the title. And then, he agreed to let Edge pick the time, the place, and the type of match. So Edge has picked his hometown of Toronto, and a TLC Match (which Edge claims never to have lost, though nosy historian types note that Edge did lose in the forgotten "TLC 3" match on a sweeps month edition of SD! in 2001).

The deck seems as stacked against Cena as it did against Edge a month ago, so of course, conventional wisdom is that Superman Cena will pick now to score the title win. In a match where he'll probably do about 10% of the heavy lifting and also get booed out of the building. Huh. But WWE's gotta do what they gotta do, since lord knows that making sure John Cena's in position to best hype his stupid new movie is more important than maintaining the marketability of your #1 breakthrough star of 2006 and one of your top heels. Only in WWE...

Anyway, soul-crushing nature of the "right way" vs. "WWE way" debate in terms of the outcome of this match aside, we are assured of this still being one hell of a dramatic main event. Fans oughta be rabid, and for as much as it's easy to rag on Cena, the fact is that if Ric Flair can hold up his end in an excellent TLC match, the younger and still-able-bodied Cena oughta to be able to at least duplicate that feat. He won't be the architect behind any of the more creative signature spots of the match, but there's no reason he won't keep up with Edge as the two deliver the best contest in their nearly 9-month-long saga.
  

The OOutlOOk
Edge wins: 4 votes   --|--  John Cena wins: 4 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Edge wins.
Rick Scaia Says... Edge wins.

Rick
: Hey hey, E... how're things going tonight?
Erin : Heya. Not too bad, and they're getting better. Done with work, and unwinding with a drink.
Rick : Aha. I vote you keep that up, then, and when you've lost about 50% of your Good Judgment, let me know, cuz I actually had a favor to ask.
Erin : Let me guess. PPV picks?
Rick : Yeah.
Erin
: Don't worry, I figured I'd do those before bed tonight.
Rick : Cool. Although... I'm in my monthly Panic Mode, cuz I've only got three sets of picks submitted from the troops, and since you're here, and I'm here...  well, admit it: left to your own devices, you're just gonna churn out another 3-lines-per-match quarter-assed classic like last month, aren't you, E?
Erin : Me? Write quarter-assed PPV picks last month? That doesn't sound like me at all. Take that back!
Rick : Heh. Well, anyway, the idea that has taken root in my brain is that we can save this PPV preview with another one of our Tag Team Joint Efforts. Even if there are only three other picks made, this document could be salvaged by us, using nothing but the sheer force of our sparkling wit and personality.
Erin : Don't forget our remarkable good looks.
Rick : I never do.
Rick : And come to think of it, let's not forget the added bonus feature that us fawning all over each other's all-around awesomeness is 98% likely to send Hocking into another of his little hissy fits.
Erin : Sounds like the icing on the cake to me. Okay, you sold me. Let's do it.

Rick : Edge vs. Cena. WWE Title. TLC. If Cena loses, he goes to SmackDown!..... discuss.
Erin : This is difficult for me, because I figure my pick would be based on whether or not Smackdown! should have Cena or not. And I'm not doing a good job at all on keeping tabs on Smackdown! What's their current roster looking like?
Rick : Thin. If I read things correctly, this week's SD! will promote Bobby Lashley to their #1 Contender, which is why I've been thinking Cena would really be a good fit over there. I mean: Lashley? I like the guy's potential and all, but he's not PPV Main Event Material, yet.
Erin : Oy vey. You know, Chris Benoit cannot come back soon enough..
Erin : Is that really the best they've got? Lashley? Does SD have ANY main-eventers at this point?
Rick : Taker's doing his part-time thing, which is always good, but he's not going after the title any time soon. Rey's doing his stupid thing with Vickie Guerrero until they can write him out to have his surgery. And Batista's in the dog house for half-assing it since his return. So yeah: till Benoit (and that's if they even put Benoit on SD!, since he might fit in better taking Kurt's spot in ECW), they're trying Lashley.
Erin : In that case, I see no other option than Cena losing so SD can have some semblance of star power and brand equality.
Rick : We definitely could use this tack to talk ourselves into Cena actually losing to Edge, except..... SD! -- at best -- will have about 60-70% of RAW's audience once they switch networks, and Cena has a movie coming out. So guess which show would be better used to push him and his crappy film?
Erin : The one that's regularly pre-empted for dog shows and Andre Agassi?
Rick : In "WWE Think," I bet the need for RAW's fanbase to prop up Cena's movie just might trump SD!'s need for Cena to prop up their roster.
Erin : Yeah, there's another thing: are we making our picks based on what WE would do as sensible people, or what WWE would do as raging fucktards?
Rick : I think maybe I vote we try to simplify things, then, by not wrapping our pretty little brains up into knots trying to figure out "WWE Think" and just make our picks from the gut.
Erin : Well, we'll still look smart because we ARE, despite whatever convoluted logic WWE will spout forth for the outcome of the match.
Rick
: Let's just hope at some point along the way, while we're disagreeing with WWE Think, we can also find some place to disagree with each other, lest we offend the sensibilities of the Hock.
Erin : You want disagreement? Okay, here goes: I'm glad Lukas won "Rockstar: Supernova," and I'm happy for him.
Rick : Oh dear sweet christ. Just let me see the ticket stub for when you actually pay to see Lord Faggenstein in concert, and I'll believe that you mean it.
Erin : They're not coming near Atlanta, so that won't be happening. Though I'd probably make a road trip to see Magni play with the house band.
Rick : Yeah, Magni was The Man. Though it's probably just as well he lost. Laid-back, shaved-headed guys with a preference for instrumental (rather than vocal) performance probably just aren't Tommy Lee's type. Which is fine, cuz Tommy Lee's not my type, either. He and Lukas can have each other.
Erin : And dammit, *I* don't even know why I like the little Goth Hobbit, okay?
Erin : And sorry for the tangent, too, but you said you wanted disagreement! There is no possible way this has anything to do with the match we're talking about.
Rick : E, you sell yourself short! We're but one sweet, sweet segue away from getting back on track: afterall Lukas is from Toronto. Which is the site of Sunday's Unforgiven. And the hometown of one of the men in this match, Edge.
Rick : See? Back on track.
Erin : Nice.
Rick : And if we're going with "Smart Think" and "What We'd Like to See Think," then I have a real hard time not siding with Edge on this one. (1) Cena can do a lot of good on SD!. (2) Edge is already going to be losing Lita and Lita's boobs soon enough, so I think he should be allowed to keep at least one piece of his costume jewelry to help him make the transition. And (3) hell, it's TLC, and it's a cool sidebar for Edge to continue being able to claim he's undefeated in TLC matches. 
Erin : So we're in agreement.
Rick : Yes: we're in agreement that this is the outcome that we'd like to see and which makes the most sense.
Rick : And thus: presumably in agreement that we'll be seeing each other in the basement come Monday's Results Tally.
Erin : Damn you, McMahon!

Canadian Bulldog Says... John Cena wins.
Man, I am so torn over this one. Don't get me wrong: the uncertainty makes for heightened interest in the match, but still makes it hard to predict.
 
Had this been a regular WWE feud, Cena would end up on top. Hell, Cena should have probably won at SummerSlam and then (finally) turned heel, but what do I know? Nonetheless, this feud is coming to an end at Unforgiven.

I guess the safe bet is to start thinking about WrestleMania, even though we're still a good six months or so away from it. Cena going to SmackDown (and turning heel, dammit) would make him a decent opponent for Batista. Triple H vs. Edge may not be a marquee matchup, but I have trouble thinking of that many other fresh pairings.
 
Add in the fact that, while I don't think Toronto fans would "riot" with a Cena win, they certainly wouldn't happy. I'm not saying this is going to be the determining factor, but it's enough for me to pick Edge.
The Cubs Fan Says... John Cena wins.
I'm not near as confident that the T dot O fans will be cheering Edge as WWE seems to be. Remember, the reason Edge is a heel is he was booed in the same exact city in a title match where he was expected to be the face for no particular reason, and it could always happen again. I suspect this to be similar to MSG, with a vocal minority cheering Cena on, and the reasons for cheering and not cheering having little to do with country of origin.

This is a going to be quite the match for Mr. Cena. He's obviously going to win - no way they're shipping him down to SmackDown! - but it's a major chance to gain some cred back for those who are booing him. Few matches build respect for a wrestler's ability like TLC, and he and Edge
have fought for the better part of a year now, so there's no better opponent to take on. This has all the makings of a great match.
Matt Hocking Says... Edge wins.
There's a lot going against Edge in this match. A guy is never supposed to win "his" match, nor is he supposed to win in his home town, or beat a guy who has a movie coming out. Here's the thing:

1) Smackdown is set to debut on the CW in a few weeks. Smackdown will be one of the flagship shows for the ratings challenged network, and it'll help the push to have one of its most marketable stars. Also, with the added hype of Cow's "premier," WWE can sneak in some extra publicity for "The Marine."

2) There are more top level faces on RAW than heels. Edge can match up with any one of Hunter, Carlito, Hardy, Kane, or possibly Flair or Michaels, if he doesn't take a break. Cena has…Orton or Edge again. The options going forward, especially as we approach the Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania corridor favor Edge retaining and getting rid of Cena once and for all.

3) Booker T doesn't have any opponents on Smackdown. Tying up Batista with Finlay was very telling. Sure it could just be for a few weeks while the UPN markets gradually shut down, but if they decide to pair Booker with a fresh target, Cena is right there.

So I think the ending comes with a lot of interference on the part of Smackdown to bring John Cena to the program, allowing Edge to retain in what should be a pretty good blow off with a rabidly hot pro-Edge crowd.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Cena wins.
We're pretty much in the same spot as we were last month in trying to pick a winner between these two.  You can make logical (WWE or normal) arguments for either guy winning.
 
For Cena there's the overriding theme that he MUST have the title back (god knows why).  But in addition, the WWE likes to crap on the hometown guy and bust up records when someone claims "I've never..." (unless your name is the Undertaker and it's Wrestlemania).  Plus, Cena's shitty movie is coming out and lord knows he needs his gay spinner belt back so that when he goes on the talk show circuit all of the hosts can feign interest in it.
 
For Edge, there are a number of good reasons as well.  For one, I like Edge's undefeated streak in TLC matches and I would hate to see it ruined.  In addition, there is a lot of sense in having Cena go to Smackdown.  Based on what the proposed No Mercy main event is, I have a feeling something needs to change.  Cena would provide a big boost in ratings for the premiere on the CW and help out a dying main event scene.  Also, since it seems likely that DX will win, it would usually mean a heel should win the other main event to offset the face win.  Finally, the dirt sheets have gone on record as saying Cena's scheduled to win, which given their other picks this year (HHH at WM, Cena and Batista at Summerslam) makes you think Edge might win here as well.
 
In the end, I will be personally cheering for Edge, but I've resigned to the fact that the WWE hates me and thus will have Cena win.  I picked Cena last month and he lost, so let's hope my reverse psychology works again and the hometown boy comes through.
PyroFalkon Says...  Cena wins.
Wrestling rule #811: When odds are totally stacked against a wrestler, and said wrestler bitches about it, said wrestler will win. I suppose WWE could “swerve us smarks” and have Cena win by DQ or something, but no matter what else goes on, Cena Edge won’t be walking out of SummerSlam Unforgiven with gold.

You know what would be cool? If Cena Edge loses, then blames his hometown (of Boston, MA~! Toronto, ON~!), and goes balls-out heel still heel. Yeah, I’d like that.

Jeff J. Snider Says... Edge wins.
I think it's a little too predictable for Edge to overcome all odds to beat Cena, only to have Cena overcome all odds to beat Edge the next month. I think Edge will find a way to win this match. Actually, it depends on its placement on the show. If they do the HitC as the main event, then I expect this match to result in a DQ win for Cena, thereby allowing Cena to stay on Raw but keeping the belt on Edge. I hope this is the main event, though, because I want to see a clean finish (and I think they are less likely to pull something silly in the main event). I will stick with my prediction that Edge wins.

 

TRIPLE H/SHAWN MICHAELS vs. BIG SHOW/VINCE McMAHON/SHANE McMAHON
Handicap Hell in the Cell Match 

McMahons vs. DX is another lengthy saga. Even a lengthier one, since you have to date it back to the start of the Vince/Michaels feud. And once again, that means I don't have to rewrite a match preview that I've basically had to write 2-3 times already.

Cribbing from myself again:

Going back to the start of the New Year, Vince McMahon has endeavored to make Shawn Michaels' life a living hell. For a while, that meant HBK having to deal with various iterations of Vince, Shane, and the Spirit Squad all by his lonesome. Well, unless you count "God," who ostensibly tagged with Shawn for one memorably blasphemous PPV match.

Things got shaken up a bit, though, when Vince McMahon started trying to enlist the aid of Triple H in his anti-Michaels quest. Trips didn't see how it was really any of his problem, and was slow to join in. And when the Spirit Squad started to rub HHH the wrong way? Well, he outright defied the wishes of Vince to attack the Spirit Squad.

All of a sudden, HHH and Shawn Michaels had common enemies. And it didn't take long before they decided to quit tip-toeing around it, and they once again dubbed themselves Degeneration X. The reunited DX have spent the past 2 months playing all manner of juvenile pranks on the McMahons. Many of them Cock Related.

The McMahons thought they'd gotten the upperhand on DX when they utilized Umaga to soften up DX before a match at SummerSlam last month. But even with copious interference from Vince's "unlimited resources," DX still won. So this month, Vince has added a different resource: the Big Show. And he's made this umpteenth match in the feud a Hell in the Cell match. And heading into HitC? Vince, Shane, and Show decimated DX last week on RAW.

The HitC gimmick is one that's tough to predict.... or rather, it's tough to develop the proper set of expectations. Cuz it's fair to say there haven't exactly been any bad HitC matches (OK, Taker vs. Bossman). But the gimmick itself always raises such high expectations because of the quality and drama of the few few HitC matches.... and rarely in the past 7 years have wee seen HitC live up to that legacy. But this match is something different, with five men involved. I think this is only the second time HitC has been anything other than a one-on-one match, and the possibilities for shenanigans are myriad.

It's been remarkable watching the Big Show develop over the past few months, really finding a groove as to how to be a giant, how to hit impressive spots, and still hold it all together by being a heel instead of getting cheered for being a bad-ass. A lot of this match, thus, is gonna ride on his ability to do that again here. Cuz lord knows Shane's only one man, and no matter what combination of pharmaceuticals and bronzo Vince is using to maintain an impressive physical appearance, he really has deteriorated to the point of being almost worthless in terms of his in-ring value. Not that Vince was ever Lou Thesz, but few of his moves look smooth or credible anymore....

My guess is that while this will bore and annoy some of the purists, I'll still like it as a Sports Entertainment Segment. I'm easy like that, though....
  

The OOutlOOk
DX wins: 7 votes   --|--  McMahons/Show win: 1 vote

Erin Anderson Says... DX wins.
Rick Scaia Says... McMahons/Big Show win.
Rick
: And then, just when you thought that one TLC Match on the card was enough Action Packed Gimmickry, we're getting Hell in the Cell, as well. The McMahons and Big Show vs. DX.
Rick : I know you're not keeping as close of tabs on it as I am, and might still see some novelty in the DX Reunion, but I'd officially like to declare that my "Smart Think" vote is just to END THIS FUCKING FEUD ALREADY.....
Erin : Know what I'm thinking? I need (another) drink. Excuse me a moment.
Erin : Back, with alcohol.
Rick : Outstanding. I refilled, as well. Don't know if it'll last, but we're in Drink Synch for now.... which might be helpful in limiting further interruptions if we're at least both taking breaks at the same time. I mean, you don't see Bradshaw stepping out on the other guys on the NFL Pregame show to go fetch himself a cocktail while the whole show goes on hold.
Erin : No, but he should do that more often. I mean, it couldn't make him any more annoying, right?
Rick : Although, I now make myself chuckle at the fact that the simple solution is to edit out the part where you said you were going to get another drink, pretend it didn't happen, and create a seamless transition back into whenever we start talking about the match. But screw that noise! OO Nation must bask in our bOOze-soaked genius!
Erin : Well, it's not like I'll claim to being able to drink anyone under the table. But I sure as hell needed another drink to even think about this match.
Erin
: Even I am fucking sick of this McMahon/DX thing. Could this match be any less appealing? Tired storyline, done-to-death gimmick match (remember when Hell in a Cells were special?), and a staggering lack of Actual Wrestlers involved. Sigh.
Rick : Like I said: the appeal to me is if this means it's over. And given how long it's been stretched out, I just don't have that kind of faith in WWE. Plus: whenever the DX/McMahons Saga ends, the fifth wheel is gonna be Stephanie McMahon. Not Big Show.
Rick : So my thinking is Big Show is the first of the McMahons' hired goons to actually successfully do his job against DX, and helps them to finally win a match. Then back to ECW for Show. And the DX Saga goes on.... and on.... and on.....
Erin : Yeah, but Vince and co. got the better of DX on Monday. Shouldn't logic dictate that DX wins on Sunday?
Rick : That little WWE Bylaw hasn't been as strictly enforced as of late, E.... it could just as easily be the beating so severe that DX is weakened enough that they can lose with pride.
Erin : Then again, I can see them dragging this out, if only to pull Stephanie and her child into it, what with the not-so-subtle hints they've been dropping. Sigh.
Rick : I know you won't shake my notion that that's where they're going with this, either. The only question is "when?" and the only answer I keep coming up with is "not yet." Bleh.
Rick : I mean, *I* don't drag a 6 week old child onto TV, not even for 30 seconds. Do you?
Erin : I don't think they'll drag the kid on TV, I just think they'll actually make Steph and the kid part of the storyline rather than a running gag that isn't all that funny.
Rick : I guess I'm envisioning more of a thing where Steph is backstage with her baby, in the dressing room, and Vince is fawning all over them (much to the muted annoyance of Shane). Probably this happens for a couple weeks in a row. And then, at a key moment, Steph would do a run in and help HHH/DX.
Rick : And then, hopefully, Steph would mostly go away again, because she is only palatable in small doses. And just doing the reveal that she and HHH are still really together is MORE than enough to tide me over for a few months.
Rick : But all of that takes a certain amount of storytelling patience and a timetable...
Erin : Hmmm. Well, I say that DX wins and continues to be a thorn in Vince's side until the Big Reveal. And O, how I wait with baited breath for that.
Erin : You can't see it, but I'm cheering at the prospect. No, really.
Rick : Again, you get my raging dubiousness, cuz I'll only believe it when I see the pom-poms have been busted out.
Erin : You got me: this time I really was kidding. My pom-poms continue to gather dust.
Erin : And damn you for even mentioning that. OO faithful know that I was a gymnast, which is at least respectable. But do you really have to bring up the cheerleading?
Rick : And I guess on my end: I'm going with the McMahons and Big Show to win over the already-weakened DX. They'll do it in devious fashion. But Vince will gloat like he's just won eighty-three world titles all at the same times, and think he has vanquished DX once and for all. Which will make the revelation that HHH planted his seed in Steph's belly all the more horrifying and tragic for him to deal with. Just when Vince thinks he won, he'll suffer his most painful defeat of all.
Erin : Either scenario sucks, so whatever. Or, to continue with the "Rockstar" theme, EVS.
Rick : Oy.
Erin : (Sorry. Even I know that's lame, but I said it with irony, I swear!)
Rick : OK, so for the tote board: It's Erin: DX, and Rick: McMahons/Big Show.
Canadian Bulldog Says... DX wins.
I know I was joking about it in this week's ITR, but the bizarro mentality in Toronto is probably enough for us to root for The McMahons this time around (plus the mathematical equation of Michaels + Canada = boos). But that's more an interesting sidenote than a prediction for the match.
 
Both DX members are noted HIAC "experts", whereas the other three competitors are virgins in this structure. I wouldn't see a lot of upside to having Triple H and Shawn Michaels lose the match here.
 
Oh, and one other mathematical equation: Shane McMahon + Risky Cage Structure = Big Bumps)
The Cubs Fan Says... DX wins.
DX wins because it's their turn to get the win back, though I can't say anyone really cares at this point. This is now a 10 month feud, and it's way past drawn. I've got no doubt far more than the five man scheduled to be in the match will somehow get involved, and that blood will be loss at an alarming rate. If that's your thing, go for it.
Matt Hocking Says... DX wins.
One would think that eventually, the McMahons would have to get some measure of revenge on DX during one of the "major" shows. But Vince putting himself over at MSG pushed me to go the other way in this match. I think DX wins but it comes at the expense of Shawn Michaels, who gets "injured" somehow, enough to force him out of the story for a few weeks so he can recoup his knee, While Triple H brings in, say X-Pac, to run with him for that stretch.

And they've got it set up just about perfectly. Show can do the heavy lifting while the McMahons stick to what they're best at, gloating and occasionally throwing a move. You can do one big memorable "Hell in a Cell spot with Shane, and maybe run Sabu or RVD or somebody from the ECW roster to throw another big bump in there, and knock Show out of the match.

Basically, after that all you'd have to do is end the match with everybody drenched in blood, and you'd have an ultimately satisfying Hell in a Cell. Not one that would blow off this feud or anything, but short of a Triple H turn, which I don't see, that's not going to happen before Survivor Series anyway.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... DX wins.
It's now month 9 in the never-ending Shawn vs. Vince feud.  At this point, it would be useless to try and do any analysis on this match, as it would just be a retread from the five or so other PPV matches that they've had this year.  All we can say is that we hope we get more Foley/Taker and less Kennel in a Cell.  While the five guys are in various degrees of health, there's no denying that they always want the spotlight on them and thus will try to provide us with some big spots.  Obviously the wild card in this is Big Show.  His presence makes big bumps more likely.  Both being given and taken.  It should be interesting what the reprecussions from this are as they relate to ECW.  Heyman seems hesitant to have Big Show go against Sabu in Extreme Rules matches but he's been part of the Punjabi Prison match and now Hell in a Cell for WWE.  Despite DX going over, I don't see this feud coming to an end.  The characters involved in this feud don't take well to losses and are always looking for revenge, so I'm not sure how you end it.  Even though this is Hell in a Cell, this probably won't be the last chapter in this story.
PyroFalkon Says...  DX wins.
Odds are too stacked against DX, so obviously they're going to win. Especially since they were left ass-up the last couple weeks to close out RAW. But I doubt they're going to win without some help. It won't be Sean "One Night In Regret" Waltman despite that leaked video of him hanging out with DX last week, but who knows? DX has been at a measly two members since they reformed, so I'd be game if they threw in a third member to mix things up a bit.

Or maybe not. Who cares. I just know this match won't reach maximum potential because 1) the McMahons won't do anything insane, unless Shane is feeling particularly plucky Sunday, and 2) being not the main event, they'll want to work the live crowd and us more than just going balls-out, so they can save some crazy-ass highspots for the main event.

That's the second pick in a row that I've used the term "balls-out." What the hell is wrong with me?
Jeff J. Snider Says... DX wins.
The McMahons have been getting the best of DX a lot lately. I don't expect them to do anything to make Big Show look weak, so I think they will find some way to neutralize him (probably via Sabu, or maybe even a whole band of "Rebels" who are sick of Big Show as Paul Heyman's baby). Then DX will destroy the McMahons, although it should be a pretty sweet ride. I expect Shane will take some sweet bumps, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the old man himself get in on the action. The finish will come when Steph runs down to the ring to beg DX to stop the carnage, but then she will turn around and kick either her dad or her brother right in the nuts, then scream at HHH to give him a pedigree, and there you have it.

 

LITA vs. TRISH STRATUS
Women's Title Match (Trish "Retires" Win, Lose, or Draw) 

Forget dating back 9 months. This goes back -- what? -- five or six years? Hell, it's already been three years (!) since Trish, Lita, Chris Jericho, and Christian started down a path that would eventually put Trish and Lita in position to reasonably semi-main event a PPV... and if not for Lita's injury problems, that almost certainly would have happened at some point in 2004 or 2005.

And instead, we arrive at this point in late 2006, with Trish Stratus on her way out of the company (and Lita reportedly following in the not-too-distant future), and with that one big final blow-off match having never taken place. So, they figured, why the hell not let Trish and Lita do their thing one more time?

Despite the huge backstory (which, for once, is something that I hope DOES result in a lengthy video package on the PPV, since even I've forgotten enough shanks of it that I'd appreciate the memory booster), this last chapter got thrown together pretty quickly. First, Lita won the women's title from Mickie James. And then, out of the blue, Lita "leaked" the story that she'd overheard Trish Stratus talking about retirement.

This upset Trish, who wanted to make all appropriate announcements and revelations on her own terms... but instead of worry about that, now that the cat was out of the bag, Trish just nutted up and challenged Lita to a women's title match. Lita, being a total bitch, agreed on the grounds that nothing would be finer than sending Trish into retirement as a loser in her own hometown.

Note: this is something I've noticed the past few weeks, and I'm just gonna mention it. You decide what to make of it: Lita has said Trish is retiring. Announcers are saying Trish is retiring. PPV promos say Trish is retiring. But you know who has never once said she's retiring? Trish. Think about it. Rerun all the little skits/vignettes from the past month. She's never corrected anybody and said she's NOT, either, but still....

Anyway, Trish and Lita have hooked it up a number of times with amazing results, and assuming they can escape the fate that met them the last time they tried to deliver a blow-away match, this one should be special. Not just because of the effort and the talent, but because of the atmosphere. Even the people out there who say they don't like Girl Wrestling and think that Stacy Keibler honestly brought as much to RAW as Trish ever did will find themselves liking this one, I'll wager. 
  

The OOutlOOk
Trish wins: 5 votes   --|--  Lita wins: 3 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Trish wins.
Rick Scaia Says... Lita wins.
Rick
: Next match is.... well..... it's going to make me cry just to talk about it.....
Rick : Trish Stratus is going bye-bye, and despite a few real good years there in the middle, she's not leaving it in a ton of super-capable hands (especially considering Lita's following her out in the not-too-distant future).
Erin : Goddammit.
Erin : Lita, I'm not so broken up about. Trish, on the other hand....
Rick
: But at least the one good thing about Lita not being long for WWE, too, is that it's not like there's a really solid reason to put her over Trish. Which at least leaves open the possibility that Trish could win the Women's Title in her hometown and in her final match and retire as champ.
Erin : That's what I'm hoping for, and that will be my prediction because Trish is awesome, and she deserves that much.
Erin : I can't snark on this one. I like Trish too much.
Rick : The thing is, if Trish and WWE decide to do that finish, then it really DOES mean that Trish is retiring and intends to stay retired, I think. It'd just be too cheap to do a big "Retiring the Championship" angle if there's even an inkling of doubt from Trish that she'd like to be back. And silly me: I'd gladly take the not-so-happy ending at the PPV just to leave that door open a crack.
Erin : So would I, but if she's really done with it... you know. In either case, I want Trish to win.
Rick
: Plus: and maybe this is just me and my Trish-colored Glasses, but it's been REALLY odd, if you're paying attention, how everybody BUT Trish is using the words "retirement" and "farewell," but she herself has never said them one time the past month. I really want to delude myself into thinking she's doing it so that later on, she can say "Hey, *I* never said I was retiring for good. Everybody else did. But all I was really doing was taking a break."
Erin : I dunno. I think you might be blinded by ass-cleavage.
Rick : Probably. But 3 or 4 weeks in a row where she almost goes out of her way not to come right out and admit to anything (even her little address to MSG this week: she just said "thanks for the ride," but nothing about the ride being over).... that ceases to be coincidence at some point.
Erin : I think that's more of a "just in case I ever come back, I have an out" thing rather than an "I plan to come back" thing.
Rick : And plus, I've mentally formulated a few ways for Trish to lose the match (and thus, keep the title on Lita), but still have a happy ending....
Rick : I think I am comfortable enough to share one of them with you. Though the other just might have to stay locked away, lest I reveal my true nature as a tittering housewife.
Erin : Would this happy ending involve Carlito in any way?
Erin : Because I'm all for it, but it's okay for me to say that because I'm a chick and am supposed to like flowers and puppies and romance.
Rick : Actually, I kinda figure Carlito to be a non-factor. As nonsensical as it was, he and Trish kinda tied all their stuff up with a pretty little bow and said Goodbye, because apparently neither continues to exist outside of 2 hours on Monday nights.
Erin : Oh yeah, I forgot. But I'm sorry, that's just fucking stupid.
Erin : Anyways, your ideas were...?
Rick : Well, the one finish that I'll discuss willingly is pretty straight-forward, and actually makes a ton of sense. Keep Edge out of it entirely, I say (his involvement would sort of confuse the Toronto fans in terms of whether to cheer or boo him versus Cena), but let Lita score the cheapest of wins after a nice long, dramatic match. And then, when Trish at least tries to say goodbye to her fans, Lita sprints back and attacks from behind.... big time heat on this, I bet. And to the rescue? Mickie James, who is once again Trish's #1 Fan and #1 on the Babyface Depth Chart. Mickie's save allows Trish to hit all her big moves on Lita for the Moral Victory. Then Lita powders out. Then Mickie powders out. Then Trish celebrates. And then the Delayed Super Happy Ending I was envisioning comes a month later when Mickie stages a challenge for Lita's title, and as part of the deal, Lita can get all cocky and makes it a "Loser Must Retire" match, just like what she did to Trish. Except this time.... Mickie wins. And it's Lita who goes bye-bye.
Erin : I kind of love that. Let Trish retire with dignity and give Mickie a push at the same time. And sets up Lita leaving. Nice.
Rick : Of course it's nice. And that one's at least plausible.
Erin : And you know you can't tease me with your other scenario and not say anything about it. Spill, dude.
Rick : What, and reveal that I've temporarily misplaced my penis and testicles? I dunno...
Erin : ...says the man who I know thoroughly enjoys "Shakespeare in Love"? No dice. Let's hear it.
Rick : Dammit. Revenge for outing you as a cheerleader?
Erin : Muwahaha.
Rick : Alright, ummm.... let's start by me asking if you have any knowledge at all of the events of WrestleMania 7, where there was also a retirement match?
Erin : Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth?
Erin : I watched as it happened, and still have fond memories.
Rick : Then you've got it: Wrestler loses his retirement match, all while an estranged sweetheart who has not been seen on TV in over a year (and who was feuding with said wrestler when last seen on TV) watches from the fifth row, and who eventually has to make a valiant save for said wrestler, resuscitating long-dormant emotions for one last farewell display.
Erin : Are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting?
Erin : JERICHO?
Rick : For one night only, baby.
Erin : I shit you not: I'd plunk down double the price of the PPV if I thought that was going to happen. For that moment, and only that.
Rick : And in this scenario, obviously Edge is involved, requiring the manly save. You can even do the briefest hint of eye contact between Edge and Jericho in which Edge would smirk as if to say, "Dude, c'mon, you remember what she did to you, right?" and Jericho could even consider it before kicking the holy living shit out of Edge. [Well, to "protect" Edge, Jericho maybe gets a few licks in, but then Edge chickenshits his way on out of the ring to allow for the necessary and magnificent display of post-match smoochery.]
Erin : The long-repressed teenybopper in me squeals at the prospect.
Rick : Alright. If you're squealing, I don't feel so bad. My Inner Tittering Housewife isn't going that far: she merely can't stop grinning like an idiot at the thought of how neat it'd be to finally complete the final corner of The Rhombus. It's one of the better angles either has been involved in, and if they're both gonna be considering themselves retired, why not do a fluffy one-night bit of closure after all this time?
Erin : To be honest, I'd entertained the Jericho scenario, but wasn't going to bring it up because it seemed too absurd.
Rick : It's definitely less a prediction, and more the most womanly of fantasy booking, yes.
Erin : Also, I thought you'd make fun of me for it. Then I find out you're as much of a wuss as I am!
Rick : But c'mon, it would just be for one night. And when Jericho left a year ago, he still thought he'd probably be back again in some capacity, so he went out on an ultra-humiliating note. Now that he's almost completely ruled out coming back? Why not take a stab at re-writing your final legacy? You save the girl, and as far as the fans ever need to know, ride off together into the sunset of semi-retirement, never to be heard from again.....
Erin : That's perfect. Which means it'll never happen. But I'll root for it anyways.
Rick : Well, never heard from again, except on crap-ass reality contests and VH-1 shows.... poor guy.
Rick : Even you have to agree that L.A. is turning him into a tool of exceptional proportions, E. 
Erin
: I don't dispute that. I saw him on "Celebrity Duets." It's getting to the point where it'll take nothing short of Jack Bauer to save Jericho from Los Angeles, now.
Erin : Hey, I just found the plot for Season Six of "24"!
Rick : Heh heh. I'm putting that down in the "absurd, but christ would I ever watch it" column, too....
Rick : And hey, didn't you tell me earlier this week that Eddie Izzard has been signed by "24" to be a villain? Who better than a European Transvestite to play the Evil Personal Stylist who is slowly brainwashing Jericho?!??
Erin : Ha! Perfect.
Erin : And yes, yes I did tell you that. My favorite comedian and my second-favorite TV show? Fucking awesome.
Rick : Sadly, it's not January yet. But it is getting on towards 2:30am, with more matches yet to come. As outstanding as our various fantastical and absurd creative notions are, might it be time to forge ahead? You're sticking with Trish winning the match? And I'm taking "She'll lose the match, but get a happy ending," just because I'm holding out hope that my conspiracy theory about Trish herself never mentioning the word "retire" is true?
Erin : Yup yup
Canadian Bulldog Says... Trish wins.
Now, I realize it goes against tradition to assume that someone leaving the company won't have to do a job on the way out, but times are changing. Trish isn't going to show up on Impact and throw the Women's title in the trash. And I'm sure WWE wants to keep a good relationship with Ms. Stratus so that when she makes it big in an area outside of wrestling, Vince can still reap the benefits (and I'll bet good money that's what they were trying with Stacy Keibler as well).
 
I do believe the match itself and the energy from the crowd will be great. It's unfortunate, in a way, that they didn't build this one up, say, over three or four months, but given that Trish and Lita are such natural rivals, it still works.
The Cubs Fan Says... Trish wins.
They're not going to hurt the women's belt - as a draw or for it's prestige - if Trish wins the belt and does not lose in the ring, so I've got no problem with her winning it and vacating it on Monday. (Though I'm not sure that'll be exactly what happens.) The thing normally to do is to lose on you way out, and so I'm not sure about this finish. Given the circumstances, they can create a special moment by having her win, so I suppose that'll be what they do.
Matt Hocking Says... Trish wins.
I've hinted towards my disinterest in this match in the Satire, because, frankly, I'm not terribly interested in Trish, I know both girls are quitting, and while this is probably the best story WWE could tell it does absolutely nothing for the already lame Women's Division. While the "right" story would probably be Mickie and Victoria coming down and beating the crap out of both of them, I know WWE better than that. Trish will get her big emotional sendoff in front of her hometown crowd, winning the WWE Women's Title for the 97 millionth time in her last match until the Much Music money dries up.

Really, they have nothing to *lose* doing it that way, and everything to gain if they want to use it as a bargaining chip for future Trish appearances for WWE. Plus, it's not like a tournament (or more likely, a battle royal) to crown a new Women's Champion would take a terribly long time, anyway. Or else they just retire the belt right along with her and stick Mickie with Carlito and Victoria with a pink slip.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Lita wins.
I think having Trish go out as champ is a nice move and I wouldn't be surprised if it happened.  However, I think Trish is one of those people that will believe in the philosophy that it's more effective to go out on a loss than a win.  All I hope for is that she has a good match for her final one.  We know she can hold her end of the bargain, but Lita is always iffy.  Lita was never the smoothest worker in the ring and it's not like she's had a lot of ringtime lately.  It should be interesting.  Regardless, the Toronto crowd will rightfully shed heaps of praise on the hometown girl and provide a feel-good moment that is rare these days in the WWE.
PyroFalkon Says...  Lita wins.
Despite the forum members now at my and Bulldog's throat, I gotta give 'em props. There's a hell of a thread going now, debating whether Trish will win her final match. Permit me to quote myself:

"I think Trish will win, that way they can get the title off the talented divas [once the division resets]. Obviously there's no way in hell that Maria or Candice would take the title from Mickie or Trish. If there's a tournament or battle royal or something the next night on RAW, then one of the untalented losers might wind up with the title, giving a whole new definition to "women's champion," and ushering a new era where WWE management can cheapen the value of the belt by keeping it on the women who can't wrestle."

While I still think WWE will continue to cheapen the women's title, the ensuing debate on the thread has reversed my mind on who's going to win. Metallikid summed it up best for me:

"Lita should win. The storyline should hold the advantage for the person still employed. Trish should lose on a screwy finish so Lita can claim for weeks how she "retired" Trish. Then Beth Phoenix or Mickie James can step up to defend Trish's legacy and you have a fairly compelling storyline going forward. Trish is leaving she shouldn't get the title."

In addition to that, Trish had her "emotional farewell" on RAW. She said, "Thanks for this moment." Seems kinda final to me, doesn't it? I think she'll lose, bid a tearful (but silent) goodbye to the crowd, and ride off into the sunset, or whatever wrestlers do when they retire.
Jeff J. Snider Says... Trish wins.
I think they will use Trish's victory as some sort of storyline impetus to facilitate Lita's own departure from the company. That's all I can really think of, and while I am sad to see Trish go, I don't enjoy the women's matches enough to give this one too much thought. But there's no way Trish loses her last match in her hometown. Unless .......... can you say "Toronto Screwjob"?

 

CARLITO vs. RANDY ORTON  

Nothing fancy here. Orton was mangling his way through a post-SummerSlam promo. Carlito paused to interrupt and congratulate Orton on his big PPV loss to Hulk Hogan. Orton got all ANGRY and INTENSE. And thus began a feud.

My guess is that the Orton/Carlito feud may have originally been designed to catapult Orton into a #1 Contendership position (especially if Cena wins the title).... but then, out of left field, the only people Orton could beat up were girls, but he could even beat all of them. For instance, he had no problem RKO'ing the lovely Trish Stratus, but still managed to lose to WWE Diva Jeff Hardy.

Turns out, Randy's on double secret probation, suspended for the second time in six months. Chances of him being catapulted into the main event picture? Looking slimmer. And what REALLY sucks about this is that we, the fans, may end up suffering a bit, too... there's certainly a school of thought out there that an unmotivated Orton knows how to stink up the ring like no other. And this might be sort of a test of his character. If he still steps up and delivers the goods with Carlito, then yay for him not being a total fuckwit. But if he figures "I'm working for free, I'm tanking this bad boy," then I sure as hell can see this one getting ugly.
  

The OOutlOOk
Carlito wins: 5 votes   --|--  Orton wins: 3 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Carlito wins.
Rick Scaia Says... Carlito wins.
Rick
: Alright. They should actually get easier from here. Mostly because not even *I* will be motivated to put much thought into things..... such as when they involve Randy Orton. Versus Carlito in this case.
Erin : The Potential Date Rapist is going down.
Rick : And he'll be doing it for free. The tard.
Erin : Word. Moving on? 
Rick : Sure, why not? Any excuse to not stop to ponder the continued existence of Randall Orton is a good one.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Orton wins.
Can I just say something? This past week on Raw, Carlos Colon was sitting right in the audience at MSG. How hard would it have been for Orton to RKO him, or if he didn't agree to that, at least insult him? A "legend killer" feuding with the son of an actual legend. That shit writes itself. I mean, COME ON!
 
Carlito has made tremendous strides as a wrestler this past year, and he reminds me in a lot of ways of Chris Jericho, just in terms of the innovation he brings to the table. I'm not sure his gimmick couldn't use some "toughening" up, but he's fast becoming one of the reasons I like watching Raw again. Still, you've gotta think that if Orton was fighting Hulk Hogan just one months ago, chances are decent he could reasonably overcome Carlito at this stage.
The Cubs Fan Says... Orton wins.
This is a basic rehab feud for Orton, and they've done a good job of completely distracting everyone from how his last feud went. I guess it could be possible that Orton takes a loss here as punishment, but I don't think they're high enough on Carlito right now to change their plans.
Matt Hocking Says... Carlito wins.
Normally, I'd suggest that this was clearly another glory match for Orton, but with him flunking out of the Wellness Program and working without a paycheck, I'd say that we can probably settle in for at least a couple of months of Randy getting "taught a lesson" by the McMahons in the form of staying in the upper-midcard and jobbing to guys who he will lose none of his luster jobbing to.

In other words, Carlito is the recipient of a gift win over Orton, which he'll end up giving back in a few months. Hell, they drug Carly Colon out of whatever Puerto Rican fed he's running now for a cameo appearance on RAW, why not have him in Carlito's corner on Sunday so that Orton can throw some insults his way and get waylaid by Carlito. It's a weird match, but both guys are talented in such a way that it won't be a bad one, I don't think.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Carlito wins.
It would seem that this may be an indicator of who will win the main event.  With DX still tied up with the McMahons, the winner of this match would seemingly become a de facto #1 contender.  So let's see, who should we give the push too?  The guy who's been dazzling crowds lately and busting out new moves constantly?  Or the guy who once again got busted and forced the WWE to change their policy so as not to get bit in the ass again?  Here's hoping the WWE makes the right move and goes with Carlito, because he certainly deserves it.  Yes, I know this goes against the fact that I picked Cena to win in the main event, but I figure this way I'm at least going to get one of them right.
PyroFalkon Says...  Orton wins.
I don't know why. I just feel the heel here. Unless WWE wants to continue Orton's "punishment" by making him job here. Who knows. More importantly, who cares?
Jeff J. Snider Says... Carlito wins.
No way in the world they would have Orton win this match when he is "suspended." No way in the world he should win anyway, but definitely not now that he is suspended.

 

JOHNNY NITRO vs. JEFF HARDY
InterContinental Title Match 

Kind of a TNA Special here, in terms of how they pulled this feud out of their ass...

Coming off a No Decision in his first match, the second match of Jeff's WWE Comeback was a #1 Contender's Match. Which he won. So just like that: InstaFeud, I guess. I mean: it's logical and it fits together, but traditionally, WWE's better at creating character- and story-driven reasons for the second-most-important title in the company being on the line.

I guess that's where they tried to focus the past few weeks, as Hardy won his IC Title match over Nitro, but did it via DQ when Melina interfered. They've also tried to up the Zazz Factor by having Jeff liken a recent Nitro/Melina press conference to watching paint dry. And then by having Jeff introduce actual paint into the proceedings. Hey, fruitcake, just because YOU like wearing body paint doesn't mean it's for everybody, OK?

Connect-the-dots nature of the backstory aside, the truth is the two had a very nice 10-12 minute match the first time out (leading up to the DQ finish), and I can't fathom why they'd do anything but improve upon that in a second outing. Jeff has definitely been on his game since returning (four match, one blown spot; that's gotta be some kind of record for him), and by slowing himself down and actually wrestling WITH his opponent than kind of wrestling AT them (which I think he did sometimes with his full-speed-ahead/crash-and-burn approach of a few years ago), I think Jeff's getting the most out of his slightly-pared-down moveset.
  

The OOutlOOk
Nitro wins: 5 votes   --|--  Hardy wins: 3 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Nitro wins.
Rick Scaia Says... Nitro wins.
Rick
: OK.... Johnny Nitro defends his IC Title against Jeff Hardy. And boy am I ever torn. It's Metrosexual Gay vs. Ateesty Gay, and yet, the one match they had against each other a few weeks ago was really quite good.
Erin : I actually caught of a few minutes of that and agree. Jeff's never looked better, health- and ring-wise.
Rick : Don't let Keller catch you saying that. Jeff is FAT.
Erin : Huh WHAT? Since when does having a higher body-fat percentage than Stacy Keibler qualify one as being fat?
Erin : Is Keller one of those guys who thought Molly was a porker? Blow me, Wade.
Rick : I dunno. It's the same thing where HHH is a fatty to some people, too. I could do a huge rant here about how it's funny to me that "smart fans" will rail against steroid freak stiffs then rail against undersized "flippy guys" and then when a flippy guy stops being so high on crystal meth he forgets to eat they rail against him for being fat.... but what would be the point?
Rick : And Keller and Meltzer are guys who limit their commentaries on physiques to the men. Because I believe both are quasi gym-rats, and probably subscribers to bodybuilding magazines, if you catch my drift.
Erin : Frosted tips and wear pink shirts?
Rick
: Well, I've met one of the two, so I can confirm that at least one of them enjoys tanning salons and product in his hair.
Rick : But in the interest of fostering Net Neutrality, I'll not say which one, and just try to steer us back to the match at hand.
Erin : Hang on a second; I'm still laughing.
Erin : Okay, I'm done now. I'd pick Jeff to win this because he seems to have the momentum, but I think they'll make him chase it a little longer. Also, I keep picking the faces to win matches here, so a heel's gotta go over at some point.
Rick : Well, when you're done, my proposition is thus: Jeff's only been back a month, and while he's been on his good behavior, it's not necessarily enough to earn him the right to hold the company's #2 title.
Erin : Jinx?
Rick : Jinx, indeed. Plus: I think Nitro and Melina have already MORE than paid their dues for the shitty "press conference" bit, and there's no need to hold that up as a reason to take the belt off him.
Rick : And duh: the biggest reason to just go with Nitro? Nitro's got a Melina in his corner. Jeff? Not so much.
Erin : Seems sensible enough. Though that press conference really did suck.
Rick : Two weeks of mockery is enough penance, however, for something that isn't even in the Top Five of Bad Things on RAW for 2006. So cheap win for Nitro, Jeff keeps chasing, and if he keeps not blowing spots (and keeps up his rep backstage), he'll get another shot soon enough. Probably one involving a ladder.
Erin : Works for me. And hey, good for Jeff for seeming to get his act together.
Erin : He's still a freak, though.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Nitro wins.
It's matches like this that make me feel for Matt Hardy. He is (in my opinion) the better overall worker, the one with the level head, and the better "wrestling mind". This should be his program, whereas Jeff should have been built up for a while before getting to this point. Don't get me wrong - Jeff has improved considerably from his final WWE days a few years back, but he's still not what I would consider to be I-C title material.
 
I like Nitro and hope they continue to push him. WWE desperately needs more mid-level heels that can ocassionally get thrown in the main-event mix. He's not quite there yet, but he's not far off, either. Bottom line: Nitro needs the win here far more than Paint Boy does.
The Cubs Fan Says... Nitro wins.
You know Jeff will be fired up and looking for revenge after his painting was so rudely kicked, but I don't think that'll be enough for the win. This seems to me like the first part of a series of matches; it's not going to take WWE that long to put Jeff back in situations which involve ladders and tables.
Matt Hocking Says... Hardy wins.
Ok, so Canada is supposed to be "bizarro world" where everything is opposite right? Well, Johnny Nitro and Melina have seemingly lost all the charisma they had on Smackdown and their first few appearances on RAW, devolving into some sort of laughable sideshow ever since they got involved with Mick Foley (who apparently really wanted to put them over, poor Mick), and since his return, Jeff Hardy has looked clean as a whistle and has only really recorded one blown spot, while otherwise looking sharp.

A few weeks ago, this one would have been Nitro in a walk, with an ending that left it open for Jeff to come back strong at one of the major PPVs based on his name value alone. But with Nitro and Melina in the dog house for their shitty promo work and Jeff seemingly really working hard to get back into people's good graces, I think Jeff gets a bone here.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Nitro wins.
This is another tough pick'em here.  On one hand Jeff Hardy has looked sharp in the ring (until this past RAW) and still has his loyal fan base of overweight teenage girls.  However, Nitro really done nothing to deserve losing either.  I wouldn't place the blame on him for that yawn-inducing press conference.  I think these two will be feuding for a while, so why not let Nitro keep the title and have Hardy continue the chase.  Plus, Jeff's gotten the "win" over Nitro the past few weeks with the paint comments, so Nitro due for some retribution.
PyroFalkon Says...  Hardy wins.
Uh… Jeff? While I think it's way too early for Jeff to be holding any gold, WWE is already giving him a nice push. Plus, I've got too many heels here already.

I predict that Jeff will try to steal the show, but fail miserably.
Jeff J. Snider Says... Hardy wins.
Jeff Hardy has been impressive since he came back. Call me a teenage girl (or boy, perhaps), but Jeff has always been my favorite of the Hardy Boys, ever since he hit that Swanton through Bubba and the table in the TLC match at Wrestlemania back in 2000 or so. Yes, he got very sloppy near the end of his previous run, but other than the one flub this past week, he has looked pretty good so far. Johnny Nitro doesn't do much for the title, and I think Hardy would raise the profile a bit.

 

THE SPIRIT SQUAD vs. THE HIGHLANDERS
Tag Team Title Match

Same deal as the IC Title Match: the Highlanders just won a completely randomly-generated #1 Contender's Match, and here we are. At least in this case, the Highlanders *had* stated for the record that they were coming to WWE with the intent to win the tag titles, so there was a reason for them to be pursuing the opportunity.

The Highlanders have also, then, managed to one-up the Squad several times in recent weeks. Sometimes with the help of fellow Spirit Squad Haters, Eugene/Hacksaw Duggan... and this past Monday, with the help of Rowdy Roddy Piper. The Highlanders, on their own against the Squad, is a 2-on-5 proposition, so I figure we'll see some mix of the Highlanders' recent allies showing up. Either that, or an embiggened referee might actually toss out the three non-wrestling members of the Squad. In either case, it's feeling like about time for a title change, so I'm assuming they'll do something to partially level the playing field for the Highlanders.

Sadly, unless that leveling involves Piper again, I'm not sure how well this will go over. It's not that the Squad don't have a mix of talent and goofiness, and that the Highlanders are not without comedic charms.... it's just that they've not been given the chance to play to their respective strengths at any point during this slapdash little feud. As a result, I can see the crowd zoning out, big time. Perhaps this is a match that you just sandwich between two other, higher-energy, contests to "rest the crowd"?
  

The OOutlOOk
Highlanders win: 8 votes   --|--  Squad win: 0 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Highlanders win.
Rick Scaia Says... Highlanders win.
Rick
: Then we move on....to yet another title match where I figure it's not TOO hard to make a good guess.... the Spirit Squad versus the Highlanders for the tag titles.
Erin : Actually, I don't know. I have a tendency to change the channel when either of those teams are on my TV.
Rick : They've been planning to break up the Squad for months, now, but haven't because Vince decided he wanted to keep using them as his Lackey Thugs. Now Vince has new lackey thugs being rotated in (Murdoch and Cade), and so I use the Power of Insider Knowledge to declare it time to get the belts of the Spirit Squad.
Erin : So the belts go from one stereotype to another. Fabulous.
Rick : I don't know what tag division you're looking at, E, but it's stereotypes as far as the eye can see.
Rick
: Plus, the Squad's "5-on-2" advantage gimmick has grown tiresome, so I'm sure Piper would take another payday to help even the odds. And if he's busy? Duggan and Eugene could fill the same role to help the Highlanders win be a more-credible affair.
Erin : Man, how sad is it when you need Duggan and Eugene to give you credibility?
Rick : Zing. Perhaps *that* is the damning evidence against the tag division.
Erin : So... yay Highlanders?
Rick : Yeah. But the Yays will be few and far between unless they really do fly Roddy in to help out.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Highlanders win.
If I were WWE, I'd book Cryme Tyme as faces (especially given the lame comedy gimmick) and have them go over Kenny, Mikey, Nicky et al. But I'm not WWE, and I have the chequebook to prove it. So the lamer comedy gimmick goes over the lamest comedy gimmick.
 
Don't get me wrong -- I'm glad Raw finally has more than two tag teams, but take a good look at them - you've got The Bushwhackers Version 2.0, a group of male cheerleaders, two overly stereotypical cowboys and two overly stereotypical gangstas. Maybe they should consider at least ONE serious team in there?
The Cubs Fan Says... Highlanders win.
It's past time to make a change, but at least they made this feud and the Highlanders mean something for one night with Piper's great cameo. I don't know if the interest from that carries over into this match, but it's probably the best they could've done with this right now. Cade & Murdoch seem to be built up to be important soon, so I think this might be the Spirt Squad's last stand.
Matt Hocking Says... Highlanders win.
I'm convinced that if they've held off on the implosion of the Spirit Squad to this point, that they will give them until the Rumble before they start turning them into their own characters, at least. Plus the old Eugene/Duggan/Highlanders v. Spirit Squad (w/ Mitch) Survivor Series match is right there for them. But I'm picking the Highlanders to win it anyway, just to change up the dynamic of the tag title division in lieu of the upcoming debut of Cryme Tyme.

Also of note is the interesting possibility of Piper showing up in the Highlander's corner to offset the outside interference. It's far from a certainty, but Piper's the kind of guy who can get the crowd into one of these midcard snoozefests (witness Monday), and he's kind of the perfect guy to lend credibility to the early part of a Highlander's title run. He's the X-Factor the gimmick needs to really get off the ground with fans.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Highlanders win.
I think we're all surprised the Highlanders haven't won the straps yet, quite frankly.  The Squad have fallen from grace over the past few months and will probably be broken up soon since tag teams aren't allowed to stay together for more than a year in the modern era.  Plus, with Cryme Tyme coming, they need to quickly hot shot the titles over to them so that they can lose them to the new team and break up themselves.  Somewhere the Midnight Express are rolling over in their graves.
PyroFalkon Says...  Highlanders win.
If the faces win, it will be pure formula. I actually sort of hope Spirit Squad loses anyway so they can start breaking up. The gimmick isn't dead (at least not to me), but like I said with the DX match, it will be good if they start mixing things up but throwing in wrenches here and there.
Jeff J. Snider Says... Highlanders win.
The Spirit Squad has been the champs for a long time, and it has basically caused the tag title to drop out of the picture. The Highlanders will win.

 

KANE vs. UMAGA  

When Kane returned from wherever the hell it is he went after dealing with The Fake Kane, it didn't take long before he found himself lending a hand to DX when DX was assaulted by half the WWE locker room at SummerSlam. But the only guy who seemed to take great offense at Kane's run-in was Umaga.

So the next night on RAW, Umaga interrupted Kane's match, and crushed his larynx with the Asiatic Spike. Kane sold that injury for one whole week before coming back to interrupt Umaga's matches. And in two straight weeks, Kane has gotten the better of Umaga in brief brawls. That's pretty much Even Steven heading into the PPV Match. 

If they could have a prop-laden brawl like they did on Monday, the prospects for this match would look reasonably bright. But as it stands, there's already enough stip/gimmick matches and enough potential ultraviolence on the card that I'm sure Kane and Umaga will be told to keep it simple. Which doesn't mean good things for us fans.

Bonus Prediction: it's hard to know the mind of your average Canuck, but if there's a surprise "Fan Mutiny" on Sunday, I'm gonna guess it comes against Kane. And the chances of fans getting behind UUUUUUUUUMMMAAGGAAAAA will triple if Armando Alejandro Estrrrrrrrrrrrrada does any mic work whatsoever before the match. Especially if he talks about how great it is to be in Canada where he can stock up on delicious Cubans.
  

The OOutlOOk
Umaga wins: 5 votes   --|--  Kane wins: 3 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Kane wins.
Rick Scaia Says... Umaga wins.
Rick
: Which leaves..... Kane vs. Umaga. Can you feel the slobberknockering?
Erin : I can feel a plodding 12-minute match that'll be ten minutes longer than it needs to be.
Rick : That's certainly the camp I'm in, too.... but as for a winner? Man alive, I would have wagered that when Kane made his glorious return from.... whatever the hell that whole mess was with the Fake Kane.... I figured they put him into this feud to end Umaga's Undefeated Streak. Now? Not so sure.
Erin : Just when I didn't think it was possible for me to feel any worse for poor Glen Jacobs....
Rick
: You might not have to feel badly for him for much longer, at least... there are some people saying that Glen will be the next to take the Jericho route and just quietly leave without burning any bridges because he's set for life and doesn't need the aggravation.
Erin : I don't blame him. Umaga? I mean, really, people.
Rick
: Anyway, I had this notion a few weeks ago that WWE was setting Orton up to be the #1 Contender to the new champ, Cena. But I seriously doubt Orton's gonna be given such a chance in the near term, now, because of his rampant fuck-uppery. And as much as you may think I'm joking, Umaga is about the next best option on all of RAW, E.
Erin : No he isn't. Edge retains and Carlito becomes the #1 contender. At least in my world.
Rick : OK, I should have said "the next best option for a heel challenger." But you're right: I'd be damned stoked about the Carlito-challenging-Edge scenario.
Rick : I will say this about Umaga: he's the wrestling version of a mediocre team that ALWAYS plays to the level of his opposition. When he's in there with somebody strong, he ups his game and has periodically looked good. But he's also spent 90% of his time in the ring against jobbers and stiffs, which doesn't exactly help him win anybody over.
Erin : And let's be honest, Kane isn't really the ideal performer to make him look good in a lengthy match.
Rick : Nope. Not without a stipulation or a gimmick to allow them to brawl like they did on Monday, anyway.
Erin : Since I don't give a shit about my prediction percentage, I pick Kane to win because he is awesome and deserves better. Keep fighting the good fight, man.
Rick : This might be a case of me hedging my bets, but if we're wrong on Edge winning, then I can make a match back here, I think, by picking Umaga. Plus, title considerations aside, Umaga will do more with an active Undefeated Streak than Kane would be able to do with the asterisk after his name for being the guy who ended said Undefeated Streak.
Rick : So what's that make us? Four disagrees out of seven? What the hell is going on?
Rick : Wait, I think it's only three.
Erin : Not counting Lukas, yeah. Heh. And I'll tell you what's going on: I don't give a shit about my predictions percentage, and you probably still do. That goes a long way.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Umaga wins (and BANK ON IT~!).
Who'd have thought that a "stereotypical monster heel" gimmick, one that's a throwback to the 1980's, could get over in this day and age? I think it has a lot to do with proper booking - mask the guy's weaknesses and give him JUST enough credibility without shoving him down people's throats.

Kane, as we've seen time and time again, exists solely so he can make other people look good. Sad, considering he himself was one a stereotypical monster heel. But that's his fate these days, I guess. The fact that people haven't crapped on Kane for jobbing most of the time says a lot about what he brings to the table, so kudos to The Big Red Machine for that.

Note: Starting with this PPV, to satisfy the numerous gambling aficionados out there reading Online Onslaught, I am initiating "Bulldog's Lock of the Month" -- a prediction I am reasonably certain of (as opposed to the six other crappy picks). Thus, Umaga over Kane is Bulldog's Lock of the Month.
The Cubs Fan Says... Umaga wins.
If Umaga's run is stopped by Kane, then what would've been the point of Umaga's run? A new challenger's going to be needed after this show, and this match is probably all about priming Umaga for that spot. Not so fun for Kane, but what can you do.
Matt Hocking Says... Kane wins (via DQ).
I realize that the Umaga streak has to come to an end one of these times, and I even think Kane is a decent choice to do it, but given the amount of time they've given building him up, I don't think this is the appropriate time or place. I like that they've finally unloaded a character capable of "striking fear into the heart of Umaga," but usually when WWE does that, it's so that the afraid monster's eventual victory is all the more surprising, unless the opponent is Taker (and sorry Kane, that doesn't extend to Taker's brother).

So why did I pick Kane to go over anyway? Here's the deal. Umaga goes through his usual offense (Tree of Woe Headbutt, Turbuckle Butt Smash, Toss Samoan Drop, Samoan Spike) and after he's unloaded his entire arsenal, Kane sits up. Go back and forth like that for a few minutes, with Kane countering all of Umaga's usually crippling offense, and you have Armando or Umaga himself draw the intention disqualification to back off of Kane. It's a loss, yes, but if wrestling's history of undefeated streaks has taught us anything, it's that only pinfalls and submissions count. Then, the next logical step is Kane v. Umaga in some kind of anything goes gimmick match.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Umaga wins.
If you want to get nice and drunk for the rest of the show, you should take a shot everytime J.R. says the word "monster" during this match.  If they have an all-out brawl like they started to have on Monday, this might be fun.  But with so much carnage scheduled in the main events, this will probably be slow and plodding.  You have to figure that they're still planning on going somewhere with Umaga, so it doesn't make sense for him to suddenly become the Defeated Umaga now, does it?  Plus, Kane has recovered from worst losses.  I'm sure this one won't be any different.
PyroFalkon Says...  Umaga wins.
Kane should squash Umaga. But he won't, because WWE hates us.
Jeff J. Snider Says... Kane wins.
Kane will deliver Umaga's first loss, and I won't care a whole lot.

 

EXTRAS/CONCLUDING THOUGHTS  

WWE's announced a 7-match card, one that includes two big-time gimmick matches which could take up on the order of 30-plus minutes each with all the corresponding pomp and circumstance... but that won't stop our crew from providing a few additional thoughts about the Unforgiven line-up.
  

The OOutlOOk

Erin Anderson and Rick Scaia... Manage to Stay Almost 100% Off-Topic in This Box.
Rick
: Is there any point whatsoever in reminding you that there's also an "Extras" section where we have to fill in a few concluding thoughts?
Erin : Not really. But I'm willing to sit here and be a prop if you want me to listen to whatever bonus matches you think there will be.
Rick : That's kinda the problem: I don't have any ideas for anything. I mean, I guess Flair's not booked, so maybe they'll find something for him, but other than that? I think there's more than enough show here, already.
Erin : Don't we usually just fill up this spot with snarky comments about how we're not gonna be watching this stupid PPV, anyway? And then talk about other stuff we'll be doing this weekend instead?
Rick
: Actually, yeah. We've done that. Except in this case, I think I am gonna see this PPV. Even if just for the main event and to see what they do with Trish's match. And it's not like this weekend holds a lot of intrigue for me, anyway. Weekend TV's been back to crap since the end of "Deadwood," and I've got no Sports Drama in my life, what with the Reds fading fast, the Yankees clinched, and Ohio St. playing a patsy.
Erin : I know that feeling. My Bulldogs are playing UAB, so no drama there.
Rick : Here's my only intelligent comment about your Bulldogs: they weren't gonna win anything with Tara Snitsky as the starter, so that injury last week is the best thing ever to happen to you guys.
Erin : I agree. Tereshinski seems like a nice guy and all, but he's no David Greene. Or D.J. Shockley. Bring on the freshman!
Rick : And the best part is, he gets about a month to settle in before you play anybody good, right? 
Erin : Yep. And thank god for that.
Rick : Before I devolve into vague taunts that if Yer Dawgs can take care of business maybe me and My Buckeyes (as if I gave a shit) will See You In Tempe, we oughta just wrap up the Public Broadcast portion of our AIM Transcript. Got anything else you think we need to cover?
Erin : Not really, unless you want to make another Lord Revlon Q. Faggenstein joke.
Rick : Hmmmmmm, nah, I'm good. And in fact, I believe that horse has been beaten quite dead. You won't hear me mention his name ever again. Promise, E. 
Erin : It's now my turn to say I'll believe that when I see it
! You won't last more than 2 weeks after the Supernova record comes out before you're on his case again. Or I'll eat a bug.
Rick : Touché, E. Touché.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Come for the Wrestling, but Stay for the Bulldog~!
It figures that, the one time in YEARS I haven't participated in this "OO Team Predictions" stuff, I ended up going 6 for 7. Don't believe me? Check this thread. I skipped the OO round simply because of my "worked shoot" thing at the time that so many of you loved out there..... Anyways, leave up to me to correctly predict stuff the one time it doesn't count.
 
What else will I predict? Super Crazy vs. Chris Masters III will be YOUR Internet Heat main event. The Toronto crowd will pop for some very strange things -- see SummerSlam 2004, where we popped big time for some kid who somehow climbed atop JBL's limo (and it would have been even funnier had he fell through the hole where Undertaker eventually chokeslammed JBL). So if I were watching this on television (I'm not), I'd be watching for the crowd reactions. It's different, I'll give you that.
 
Speaking of which: Yours truly, The Notorious D.O.G.,  will be at the Air Canada Centre, conducting EXCLUSIVE, JAM-PACKED interviews for my new radio show on Club WWI with YOU, the stupid marks of Toronto. If you're going to be around after the show and have time to answer a question or two, drop me a line at bulldog@onlineonslaught.com (before Sunday morning) and I'll let you know what gate we're going to be recording it at after the show. Don't worry, I won't bite....
The Cubs Fan Says... No More Room at the Inn.
It stands to reason there should be one more match on this card, but I can't think of anything which ought to be on here and will get over with the live crowd. I think they can fill the 2:40 with what they have here; the main event should get 20+ minutes, the HitC will surely be 10 to 12 minutes longer than it needs to be (if it really needs to be at all), there could/should be some skit after the women's title match, and so on. I wouldn't expect much more than what's on here already.
Matt Hocking Says... The Makings of a Good 'Un.
WWE has doe a surprisingly good job of frontloading it's PPV card this month, with two huge gimmick matches at the top, and the ostensible retirement match of one of it's most popular stars in front of what should be a hot crowd in the middle. I think the lack of luster for the PPV comes from the fact that most of the matches have been in a holding pattern for the last month or, in some cases, eight months. Edge/Cena is in desperate need of a strong blow off, because, while the feud remains surprisingly hot and both guys work well together, the WWE title picture needs to branch out quickly if there's to be any sort of good run up to Wrestlemania. A TLC match in Toronto, in front of what should be a rabidly anti-Cena crowd is the perfect place for that, and in a match that's fit for some wild spots, both guys should come out really well.

In the Hell in a Cell, you've got a match built for big bloody spots, and five of the best guys in the company at delivering them. Add in any possible outside factors (Team Old ECW looking to establish themselves against Show again), which might include Sabu or RVD doing a big spot has the possibility of distracting from the fact that the match isn't exactly "good," but showing that it is fun. Even the appearance of somebody like an X-Pac or a Jeff Hardy, even, putting themselves in the DX spotlight, could help take the focus off what might devolve into a slowish brawl and give the match and the angle a fresher, more appealing feel. There are myriad ways to book the Hell in a Cell bigger than it is. Will they? Who knows.

Plus, with Trish and Lita in the mix, with everything that's surrounding that, you have the makings of what should be a fairly decent PPV. But, to use a baseball analogy, WWE's lineup may have some big swings at the top of the order, but it really feels like they're nickel and diming at the bottom of the lineup which will keep this one from really being a "winner." Kind of like they blew their load to get the top of the card filled out and then realized that they still had half a PPV to kill. Then again, for the first time in a long time, you can't say that there isn't a story heading into each one of these matches, and if WWE Style Garbagy Brawls are your thing, this PPV might have two of the best ones this year within an hour of each other.

EXTRAS:

- YOUR Heat match will be Chris Masters attempting a Masterlock Challenge on Super Crazy, only to hit Crazy with a chair.

- With a Canadian crowd you never know, but the only face, other than Cena and possibly DX, I can see them turning on is The Highlanders

- With two mains plus Trish eating up plenty of time, I don't see them adding any matches to the card.

- I fully expect, however, that they'll waste ten minutes or so with a Trish Celebration including the entire face side of the roster. Plus probably Victoria.

- Expect a couple WWE.com/Michael Cole cracks.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Bring the Bizarro, Toronto!.
I'm kinda stumped as to what else we can expect.  There's only seven matches, but they're all decent enough to fill up the 3 hours.  We could possibly see Teddy Long make an appearance to perhaps stir the pot and indicate someone's coming to Smackdown, whether it's Cena or not.  We'll probably also hear from Vince in a backstage skit, because Lord knows we haven't heard enough from him lately. 
 
However, the lack of entertainment found in backstage segments will be made up in the crowd factor.  I'm really looking forward to Toronto's reaction to these matches.  I'm sure the hostilities will be off the page in the main event.  I'm sure they'll be super behind Trish, especially if it's a good match.  Perhaps most interesting though will be how they react to the Hell in a Cell match.  Who will they hate more Vince or Shawn?  Maybe they added in all these extra elements to take the heat away from them.  And finally, let's hope they give our favorite whipping boy Randy Orton a good verbal beatdown as well.  Don't let me down Toronto, I'm paying good money; I expect to be entertained!
PyroFalkon Says...  Zzzzzzzzzz.
I have absolutely nothing to say about this PPV that I haven't already. Because I care that little.

Wake me up when it's time for Survivor Series.
Jeff J. Snider Says... Close, but No Cigar.
I don't have much time for final thoughts, but I will say that this is the first PPV in a long time that I actually considered buying before deciding not to. The HitC match and the TLC match both have a lot of potential, and I would love to see Cena win over some fans by busting his tail to entertain them in TLC. Unfortunately, after those two matches, the show loses a lot of sizzle. Carlito is always fun to watch, as is Jeff Hardy (for me, anyway). But they are both in matches against guys who I, at best, don't care about. The women's match will be a special little sendoff for Trish, and the match itself will be pretty good for a women's match, but I would still almost rather stand in the back with Hardy and watch paint dry than watch any women's match. Expect cameos by Piper, Steph, maybe Linda, Sabu, and maybe several other ECW guys.

 

OO will have a recap of Unforgiven available on Sunday night around the midnight (eastern) hour, should you decide not to throw down your hard-earned cash. Then there will be more detailed thoughts/fall-out/analysis here on Monday and throughout the week....  see you then!


  
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E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

 

 

 


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