This is just a quick one while he’s away. I think he might be eating turkey or something. Yes, the wrestling news machine has ground to a halt while you crazy Americans go off and give thanks for something or other. Therefore, this column is pretty much all about looking at the Survivor Series (which should really be given the subheading of “Who Cares?”) and seeing exactly why the roster split would be better off ending at WrestleMania XXII. Oh yes, I went there. Besides, I have, like, um, you know, ak-ah-dem-mick stuff to be doing.
By next week’s column we should actually have a better idea of what’s going on in WWE as they try and get something planned to work towards at WrestleMania (unless they already have, those wonderful sneaky little bastards). Plus there might be actual news to comment on rather than some Disney movie that The Rock may be making. Honestly, if he’s not going to do the Johnny Bravo movie then he’s not getting my interest.
Also, Ross Williams and I are working on a little fantasy booking project that may yet make it’s way into the column should we get around to finishing it… keep those eyes peeled…
In the meantime, I’ll be over in the Comics Nexus with the new edition of the Anti-Nexus, the ever-enlightening Roundtable and a couple of reviews over the next week.
Enjoy your lavish dinners, you fat gits.
TOP 5 MOST PLAYED SONGS ON MY IPOD:
1. “Leaving New York” by R.E.M.
2. “Miracle Drug” by U2
3. “Barely Legal” by The Strokes
4. “A Bell Will Ring” by Oasis
5. “The Bucket” by Kings Of Leon
SURVIVOR SERIES 2005: PREVIEW
Elimination Raw vs. Smackdown Match:
Shawn Michaels, Chris Masters, Carlito, Kane & The Big Show vs. Batista, Randy Orton, JBL, Rey Mysterio & Bobby Lashley
Okay, fine, I’ll play along and pretend I care. Let’s see if I can come up with good reasons for these people to be so diehard about their random brands… Michaels, and Mysterio have only ever wrestled on Raw and Smackdown respectively, so that’s fairly easy. Ditto for Masters and Lashley. Carlito is apparently quite a good friend of Eric Bischoff’s, as opposed to Teddy Long, who was seemingly just not cool. Kane is a renowned sado-masochist, so he’d quite happily stick up for the brand that lets him wallow in emo-fuelled self-pity watching Edge and Lita make out in the locker room. As for Big Show… well, Raw is taped live so it only takes up one night of his life, as opposed to Smackdown, which is taped on Tuesdays and broadcast on Fridays, taking up two nights. This means that Raw affords him one extra night to scoff his face with cheeseburgers at the local greasy cafe – a glorious honour for which he will gladly fight to the death. Batista sticks up for Smackdown for a whole multitude of reasons (he’s their champion, Kane and Big Show have been trying to cripple him for two weeks now, the memory of Eddie, etc.) and JBL, though not a big fan of Teddy Long, did manage to become champion on Smackdown and has a history of standing up for dubious wrestling-related causes that he believes in (see: One Night Stand). Orton plainly doesn’t give a shit about any of this and is simply in it for the ego trip of trying to become the sole Survivor of his team for the third year running. Well, that and it beats trying to fight The Undertaker again.
Ugh, I stink of the wretched, unwashed and slightly cheesey aroma of kayfabe now. Horrid. In reality of course, outside of any notions of locker room unity, the audience truly doesn’t give a crap about any of this. With everything that’s been going on in the past few weeks though, we’re all simply just too damn tired to make much of a fuss about it anymore (or maybe that’s just me). At the end of the day it is far too late to expect this card to change, so we might as well try to take our pleasures where we can. The chance to see Michaels and Mysterio squaring off against one another for the second time is one such pleasure. Hopefully we will get the chance to see them get a proper singles match before either man is forced to retire or noticeably slow down. Batista living up to the heroic myth of championship behaviour by working through his injury is another pleasure, albeit a guilty one. His intentions are noble but if he is hurt even more seriously then Smackdown will suffer a greater blow than if he had simply taken some time off in the first place. Hopefully he will do just that after this show. There’s also Lashley making his Survivor Series debut in the main event… no, no, that’s not a pleasure. I’m not his mum. The man is clearly not ready for a headline spot on the card. He makes Monty Brown seem like a seasoned veteran in comparison, and in fact there are veterans like Matt Hardy and Bob Holly that would have made a far better fit for Team Smackdown. Even Lashley’s fellow newbie, Ken Kennedy, would have been a more suitable choice judging by fan reactions.
Oh, well. The match may at least be enjoyable if we can let go of sense and reason. I’ll throw in a random prediction and have JBL be the sole survivor.
WWE Championship Match – Special Guest Referee: Daivari
John Cena vs. Kurt Angle
This one, on the other hand, will be damn near impossible to enjoy. Hell, I don’t even know if I’ll watch it or not. That’s the curse of the rumour mill, spreading it’s warnings about Kurt’s depression with the wonderfully frightening phrase “Death Watch” thrown in for good measure. If the rumour is false then several hexes should be placed upon those responsible for it. Maybe something involving a lot of secretion and acidic mucus… hmm, yes, that would do it… If it’s true however, then Vince McMahon and the rest of WWE’s supposed officials should receive even greater curses. I’m talking serious Lex-Luger-meets-Gary-Glitter appropriate evils here. There’s no good reason whatsoever for exploiting a suicidal person for corporate profit, let alone someone already in physical dire straits as Kurt undoubtedly is. Fuck, it’s hard to write about this stuff. Kurt, Eddie, Dinsmore, steroid, drug tests… I feel like digging out a Hulkamania security blanket and diving for cover… He’s got the weight of the world on his surgically-repaired neck, an albatross draped over his shoulders but he’s still obsessive-compulsively being dropped on his head. So goes the vicious whirlwind of the wrestling circle. Let’s hope that he gives himself the chance to enjoy life outside the ring, and that we get given the chance to enjoy a three-disc Kurt Angle DVD package that is not released posthumously.
One more thing – the title can’t change hands on a disqualification so there is nothing to stop Cena from kicking the shit out of Daivari until a proper referee is forced to come and officiate.
United States Title – Best Of Seven Series, Match One:
Booker T vs. Chris Benoit
There’s no particular reason for the title to have been vacated, but what the hell? Considering that we have the opportunity to see this match-up a bare minimum of four more times, that would be akin to going to see a Lord of the Rings marathon and complaining that the lights are too dark. Or campaigning to get Family Guy back on the air and then moaning that it got put on a bad timeslot. Or going to Brighton and then bitching about being given the chance to leave. In other words – we’re all good. By the time this thing is over and done with and Benoit’s decided where his future lies, we could possibly be great.
Intercontinental Title (Possibly) Last Man Standing Match:
Ric Flair vs. Triple H
If it’s for the Intercontinental Title then Flair will win. If it’s not then Triple H will win. I honestly have no idea and WWE.com is no help whatsoever in trying to figure this out. It’s ever so charming to see them treating the supposedly prestigious title as a prop and then treating the prop as though it were invisible, especially since just a few months ago we had an exceptionally passionate Flair waxing lyrical about what it meant to him. No doubt once Flair does drop the title it will be due to Triple H interference, leading to further hysterical ranting from Slick Ric about how Triple H robbed him of the title that he took such pride in. There may even be unnecessary blood involved. It still won’t help to explain why they didn’t just do that once this feud started, or at least following Taboo Tuesday, since neither of them seems to be particularly bothered about the presence of the title. In fact, they’ve both admitted as much on-camera. Then again, they’ve vacated the United States Title, the World Heavyweight Title is on the verge of a similar fate, the Cruiserweight Title changed hands twice before the PPV, and a healthy chunk of the audience simply does not care for the WWE Champion at all, so by this point they may be as well just melting them all down into chains and giving them to Kama. At least the match should be quite good. Given the lack of matches for the card, it should get a decent twenty minutes at least and make for a whopping total of two engaging wrestling matches on the show. As I was saying, we take our pleasures where we can. Since we’re all anticipating a Flair victory, this means we should also be looking out for the inevitable third match at New Year’s Revolution after Triple H boasts that Flair has never pinned him. If I were Flair I would pick that exact moment to kindly remind him that no parts of my body have ever been inside of Chyna.
Women’s Title Match:
Trish Stratus vs. Melina
Yup, we’re now firmly into the ‘filler’ category. It might be a bit much for a six-match card involving both Raw and Smackdown rosters to need filler but, hey, that’s the way it is. Bizarrely enough, this one might actually prove to be a decent little match should Melina’s in-ring abilities live up to her reputation. She’s certainly proven herself as an entertaining character with Muppet and Nonce or whatever they’re called and by all accounts she knows a fair bit about wrestling to boot. Of course, the match doesn’t matter a bit in the grand scheme of things considering they’re not about to switch the Women’s Division over to Smackdown, where the only other female wrestler that’s meant to be any use is Jillian Hall, who isn’t allowed to wrestle, is a heel, and has the most unfathomable gimmick of any woman the company has hired. Meanwhile, Trish has the ever-ready Victoria, the Playboy publicity hound named Candice and an ongoing storyline with Mickie James to contend with. All of this does beg the question of why this match is even taking place, especially when Smackdown has enough tag teams to put them out there for old-school elimination fun on this PPV (so it’s not as though Melina would have nothing to do), but then that question will just be answered as it always is – “Shut up.”
The Boogeyman Is Coming… TAGETYA!!! Match:
Eric Bischoff vs. Teddy Long
Oh come on, you know that he has to get involved here somehow. It may actually manage to make this thing somewhat entertaining.
TOP 5 SURVIVOR SERIES:
Well, except for some strange rumour about the roster split ending at WrestleMania XXII with John Cena and Randy Orton fighting for the Undisputed Title.
This is a good idea because…
It finally gives them a viable marquee match for the main event of WrestleMania. It’s looking increasingly unlikely that Brock Lesnar will pry himself away from his Japanese fame and fortune to return to the hectic schedule of WWE anytime soon. Even if he does decide to return, it probably isn’t the best time for the company to make a big deal out of someone with Lesnar’s chemically challenged physique. Regardless of how this drug testing policy may actually unfold, they do at need least to try and pander to it for the media’s sake, and seeing Lesnar and Batista square off in a high-profile match at the prestigious wrestling event of the year will, in light of recent events, only lead to some fiercely negative publicity. There’s always Austin/Hogan and, yes, considering the likely VH1 programming schedule in March ’06, Hogan will certainly be up for making some kind of a WrestleMania appearance. The problem lies with Austin. If he would kick up such a fuss about losing a match on Taboo Tuesday, the illegitimate retarded cousin of the PPV world, then getting him to agree to any signs of weakness in a match against the Huckster is as likely as Chris Jericho winning a Grammy. Besides, all of Austin’s unprofessional antics are now starting to rival the sort of thing that he used to mock Hogan for back in ’95 so, frankly, f*ck him. That leaves the most likely main events for the individual brands as Cena/HHH and Batista/Orton – good enough for SummerSlam, not for WrestleMania. That show needs something ever-so-slightly shinier, and the unification of the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Title would do just that (at least it would in this vague virtual fantasy land that WWE seems to think its fans live in). Oh, and by the way, it would be unification not re-unification. These two titles have been completely separate ever since the belt Batista’s sporting was invented in 2002.
This is a bad idea because…
It’s Randy Orton and John Cena, for crying out loud! The inexplicable hard-on that WWE management has for these two can only possibly be explained if they are both ready, willing and able to suck that hard-on until they can bathe in the joy-juice of booking favouritism. Why the hell else could they possibly be given so much inexplicable opportunity when more talented performers are left wanting? Is it part of a cunning plan to gradually lower our expectations when it comes to wrestling matches? Is that why these two are paving the way for such luminaries as Carlito and Chris Masters? Okay, I can kind of understand the Cena push since he can be marketed in a fairly unique manner in comparison to previous WWE headliners whilst shifting a lot of merchandise along the way (although the same could have been said of Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam had they bothered to use them significantly back in 2001/2002). Orton, on the other hand, is a total blank space. He peaked with the Cactus Jack feud and has been slowly slip-sliding away down the hill ever since, with nothing to show for it but an absurdly lame World Heavyweight Title reign, a horridly botched face turn, an Undertaker feud that has been drawn out far too long at the expense of potentially better programs with Mysterio and Hardy, and the laziest piece of T-shirt design that WWE has produced in quite some time. The best chance he has of improving his wrestling performance seems to be sticking a flux capacitor into his car, revving it up to 88mph and then joining in the fun back in 1985 when he could be regarded as a great worker. The cocky swagger and arrogant persona that have become his trademarks were great when he was a part of Evolution, and they could be just as fine had he ‘graduated’ into a genuine singles superstar but not for somebody who needs to be accompanied to the ring by his daddy. Really, what’s next – a packed lunch and a note from his mummy? Lavishing all of this attention on a known ego is all fine and dandy if they are making a shitload of money for the company (Hogan), happen to be an extraordinary wrestling talent in an exceptionally lean time (Michaels), or are sleeping with the boss’s daughter (uh, I forget… Koko B. Ware, right?) but for someone like Orton who takes so much and gives so little, it’s downright idiotic.
This is a good idea because…
Ending the roster split actually makes sense. More specifically, it makes sense of everything that they have been doing since this insipid Raw/Smackdown feud kicked off in earnest in the build to Survivor Series. What has otherwise been little more than a series of unwanted events randomly thrown out in a drunken booking frenzy now actually has a point, a reason, an achievable goal, an endpoint to work towards. Now Melina can take the damn Women’s Title to Smackdown and keep it there in all manner of horrible matches, while Trish and Mickie scheme to take it back, leading to an all-out Diva war at the Royal Rumble before the grand finale at WrestleMania. Now Matt Hardy can actually get that decisive, end-all victory over Edge and make it matter. Now Batista’s rumblings about wanting to be the Undisputed Champion are actually something more than the imaginative grunts of someone who is not an A.J. Styles fan. Now there will be a fairly impressive total of over a dozen tag teams in that (singular) division. Now the tension between Eric Bischoff and Teddy Long can be resolved in a way that doesn’t involve a “wrestling match” between the two as they both try to land the new WWE General Manager position from Vince McMahon, with Long hampered by Palmer Canon and Bischoff hampered by his own greasy nature (which would hopefully win out in the end). Now they don’t have to worry about finding a long-term replacement for Jim Ross because they already have Michael Cole, while Jerry Lawler can finally be let go as Tazz takes his place in the booth alongside The Coach. Now it makes a crazy kind of sense for each brand’s roster to be so determined to prove their superiority over the other brand’s roster since they are essentially fighting to demonstrate how they should still be employed once the rosters are recombined. Oh sure, there will be a lot of cuts made and, yes, sadly there will be a lot of good wrestlers who are let go along the way. Face it; they are more likely to keep the Carlitos around than they are the Kendricks. The filler quotient should go down quite substantially though. We might finally get rid of the likes of Grenier and Dupree after three years of trying (and as for Conway, I would actually like to see Orton kick his ass on principle). Besides, if you care so much about the wrestlers that are cut then you can still see them wrestling in TNA or ROH or wherever they may end up. But let’s face it, even if they cut your favourite overlooked superstar you’re still going to carry on watching anyway so who are you trying to kid? It’s not as if WWE really has a choice in the matter anyway considering how unlikely it is that Smackdown will even have a TV deal by this time next year. If they are to succeed in getting USA or some other network to give them an extra two hours per week then it can only help if they have the strength of the combined rosters behind them. Then they can offer Cena and Batista, Triple H and Orton, Undertaker and Kane, Angle and Benoit and so on.
So really, if a roster reunion is really on the cards, how can any of this (other than the prospect of a Cena/Orton main event match) be seen as bad? Let me know what you think…
– JEREMY LAMBERT has all of your TNA requirements…
– PHIL CLARK & J.D. SPEICH ditto…
– DAN HEVIA masturbates the Inside Pulse family’s young turkey, or something…
– CHRIS DELLIACONO has a story in the upcoming Contagion: War Stories anthology, and I’ll be reviewing the book in a couple of days…
– MATT BASILO knows his Smallville like he knows his Lost…
– CLIVE BELL knows a lot about art, so go join in the fun…
– ANDREA DWORKIN just plain does not care for sexual intercourse…
– JENNY HOLZER wants you to please change beliefs and so is probably the sanest person yet…
IAIN BURNSIDE is currently spending too much money…