Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic


WrestleMania signals the end of WWE’s creative year, and the beginning of a new “season” of professional wrestling. Storylines end at ‘Mania, allowing new feuds to begin, new characters to be introduced, and new angles to take flight.

TODAY’S ISSUE: Welcome to the new year of WWE programming.

First, let’s take a look at the current state of things in WWE. How are things now?

Current champions:

WWE Champion (RAW): John Cena. In what many will remember as a surprising result, Cena made HHH tap out in the main event, on the largest stage in wrestling. HHH’s quest for the gold will continue, with Edge not far behind. Ric Flair has made it known more than once that he wants another run at the top of the mountain, and Shawn Michaels mentioned it as well. However, HBK needs to close the door on his war against the Clan McMahon before he gets anywhere near the title.

On the horizon, RVD is now Mr. Money in the Bank, and it seems fairly obvious that he will challenge for the gold at the second annual WWE-commissioned ECW reunion show, One Night Stand (but it’s the SECOND time, so how can they call it ONE Night… oh never mind). Will he truly break through the glass ceiling? I certainly hope so.

Intercontinental Champion (RAW): Shelton Benjamin. I’m quite pleased to see Mr. Benjamin getting some respect in the booking. Hopefully his “Mama” will stay off television, thus forcing Benjamin to continue to develop his character without her. His recent Rock-like style enhancements don’t hurt, and his amazing performance in MITB, for the second consecutive year, keeps him in the good graces of most fans. What lies ahead for the IC champ? Hopefully a feud with another young, talented technician.

World Tag Team Champions (RAW): The Spirit Squad. Huh? If there were ever a “transitional champion”, now would be the time! My heart bleeds for the tag team division. Why couldn’t Carlito and Masters have won the belts at ‘Mania, if the plan was to have Mickey and Kenny snatch them away the next night anyway? This would have given more credence to the feud between Carlito and Masters. The Spirit Squad is not over, and they’re not going to be over, so get those belts off them ASAP, please!

Women’s Champion (RAW): Mickie James. This has been the most solidly booked and entertaining storyline of the year on RAW, and things are now looking up for the women’s division. If Trish, Mickie, Victoria, and perhaps one more decent female grappler can stay in the title picture for a while, they can ride this out for several months, and perhaps all the way until WM 23.

World Heavyweight Champion (SmackDown!): Rey Mysterio. This reign should not last long. It seems fairly obvious that Randy Orton was due to take the big gold belt, and feud with a returning Batista over the title that Batista never did lose. However, that all changed when Orton got himself into some hot water with WWE management. I was looking forward to the ex-Evolution members battling, and hopefully it will still happen. In the meantime, look for Rey to play the underdog in most or all his title defenses, and expect him to come out on top for a while.

United States Champion (SmackDown!): John Bradshaw Layfield. JBL has the ideal gimmick to be the US champ, and his upcoming “celebration” should kick off his re-Americanizing of the belt, at least in his mind. Any wrestler who was not born in the US might be in JBL’s crosshairs, and it could be an interesting concept for him to ride until SummerSlam.

WWE Tag Team Champions (SmackDown!): MNM. There’s no reason not to let this true tag team dominate the scene this year as they did last year. They share a look, an attitude, and a finishing maneuver. A feud with the Hooliganz could prove entertaining, to say the least. The first match between these two teams last Friday night was positively electrifying, and better than any tag team match in WWE’s recent past. Hey, I’ll gladly take several months of London/Kendrick versus Hennigan/Matthews.

WWE Cruiserweight Champion (SmackDown!): Gregory Helms. If the complications from Helms’ broken nose don’t keep him away too long, I’d like to see Helms become a version of the Honky Tonk Man, in that every cruiserweight on the SmackDown! roster will be gunning for him, but he keeps managing to slip out the back door of the arena with him championship in tact.

Next, let’s see what’s new:

The King of the Ring returns after a four-year absence, and this could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending upon how they portray it. At one time, the KOR tournament was an important event in WWE, with superstars including Bret and Owen Hart, HHH, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Edge being crowned the “King of the Ring”. In 2002, the King of the Ring also earned a championship match at SummerSlam, just as the Royal Rumble winner earns a title shot each year at WrestleMania. This launched Brock Lesnar to the top of the card, and established him as a main event player for years.

Armando Alejandro Estrada and Jamal “Umaga” burst onto the RAW scene the night after WrestleMania by targeting none other than the Nature Boy himself, Ric Flair. While Estrada seems to have the charisma and mic skills to make it as a manager, I can’t imagine the upside to a repackaged Jamal without his former partner and cousin Rosie. I always thought the 3MW team had some legs, but they never really went anywhere.

Giant Singh make a similar splash on the first post-WrestleMania SmackDown! Episode, but looked horrible as far as execution is concerned. Although Undertaker did bump for him (I guess Singh meets Calaway’s height-and-weight-for-selling requirements), he didn’t look particularly menacing via his unthreatening offense. Even his silly open-handed chop to the top of Undertaker’s head looked silly. Look for a big [ahem] showdown between the two no later than SummerSlam 2006.

The Legend Killer Randy Orton and The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels may both be off television for extended periods soon. Will their absense allow a new face to climb the ladder? Look for a returning Ken Kennedy to enjoy a large slice of Orton’s pie on SmackDown!. Hopefully, more time on RAW means more Shelton Benjamin, assuming he can learn to use that microphone to his advantage.

Baby HHH is due to debut in the near future, and HHH might take some time off as well. Will this mean more title opportunities for Edge? Some would say that his title reign was cut short before it ever got off the ground. I say, give him another go. ECW fans might enjoy seeing RVD take the belt from Edge at One Night Stand II as much as Cena, and it will freshen up the WWE title picture.

Who knows where the next “season” of WWE programming will take us. I’ll be willing to bet that Vince doesn’t even know! Stay tuned to find out, but in the meantime, don’t forget TNA’s iMPACT! hits the air for the first time in their new time slot this Thursday, 13 April, at 11:00pm Eastern. Support TNA: competition is good for the business.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – Why is there no color called “apple” or “banana”? Just orange…

Master Sergeant, United States Air Force