For Your Consideration…In Defense of Khali as Your #1 Contender

Welcome to week 68.

Man, I don’t know where you are but in South Florida it’s hot as balls out here. That’s right; I’m choosing to open this week’s column on a classy note. But if I could be serious for a moment like Lance Storm, I would just like to say to all of our California readers that I hope everyone’s safe and that none of your stuff broke. Sure, Florida gets its share of hurricanes, but at least we get to see those bastards coming. You guys? Goddamn ground just starts shaking outta nowhere like “Tremors”. Screw that. On the east coast we might have natural disasters, but we also have the beach AND football starts at the correct time on Sunday (if you think I’m getting up at 10 am to watch my Dolphins on the weekend then you must be pretty f’n high).

Speaking of high, I’m not quite sure what Creative has been smoking up in Stanford but they are having a pretty good couple of weeks. Everything has been firing on all cylinders since the Draft and I for one couldn’t be happier. As TNA continues to spin like a hamster trapped in one of those little clear, plastic balls, the WWE has, inexplicably, created a consistently entertaining weekly product with new stars and storylines.

Seriously, Mike Adamle? Who the hell saw that coming? And as soon as you saw it, who the hell thought, “Wow, that could actually be awesome?” Well, me for one. I am all for Mike Adamle being the General Manager of RAW. This could be entertaining as hell, folks. Mike is either going to go one of two ways; he’s either going to be the bumbling GM like he was the bumbling announcer and come up with off-the-wall crap OR he’s going to be this evil super-genius who was luring us in with his worked buffoonery. Based on his decision to have Cena face Batista and to have Michael Cole get the stuffing beaten out of him, I think we’re getting the latter. Since Mike Adamle was the kid that seemed to get picked on by everyone in an attempt to try and get over with the “popular” kids, he is now the scorned man-boy who’s got all of the power. He doesn’t need to answer to anyone now that Vince is MIA, which could make RAW even more lawless than before. And I, for one, like it.

ECW has stepped up its game quite a bit over the past few weeks, and I think Miz/Morrison/Finlay/Hardy/Bourne/Chavo could very well be the reincarnation of the Smackdown Six. Just keep sticking these guys in random combinations of matches each week and I think the fans will be happy. And look at the way that Creative has found a way to completely mask the fact that the ECW roster is paper thin without sacrificing storyline. We’ve got the Colin Delaney turn, the Mark Henry/Tony Atlas alliance, the Finlay/Knox war brewing, Bourne/Chavo (which now includes Bam and the incredibly awful Atlas Ortiz), Miz and Morrison’s shenanigans AND the opportunity for Little Guido squash matches. Sure, it isn’t the same as Old ECW and it doesn’t give us the potential that an Angle/Punk/Benoit upper card could have, but for a show that was moments away from becoming Tuesday Heat (and in spite of the fact that Mark Henry is champion), ECW is quickly turning into a solid television program.

Last, but not least, is Smackdown. I tend to ignore Smackdown when I write my columns because these things get posted on a Thursday and by now some of you have read the spoilers and all of you have forgotten what happened on FNS six days prior, so I kind of leave well enough alone. I love watching Smackdown because it does in fact have a unique feel to it. There tends to be more wrestling, more time for matches and less “lunacy” (I’ll be nice and not call it utter BS). Now, with the Draft picks settling in, Smackdown is a star studded show. You’ve got Kennedy, MVP, Umaga, Shelton and Carlito to constitute your upper midcarders who can work with anyone. You’ve got Show and Jeff Hardy and Edge and Hunter and Taker filling out your BIG TIME superstars. You’ve even got a solid women’s division to help fill time. With that said, I’m going to focus on one aspect of Smackdown that has certainly drawn a lot of fire over the past week, and shockingly I’m going back to my roots (and the original intent of this column) and looking at this event in a different way. In other words…

    For Your Consideration…In Defense of Khali as Your #1 Contender

That’s right, folks, it’s a column about the Great Khali. Specifically, it’s about Khali facing Triple H for the WWE Title at Summerslam and how this is the single best move the WWE could make right now. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no, he’s lost his f’n mind!”, but I assure you, I’m completely on the level.

First, let’s move past the mark aspect of it in that Khali’s a bad guy and everyone wants Hunter to retain because he’s a good guy. This ain’t an ROH column so don’t look for me to analyze the “techniques” Hunter is going to use to face Khali. There will be no “Oh, well since Khali is so much taller then Triple H is going to need to focus on the legs and worry about the vice grip.” Nope, sorry. I’m looking at this from the perspective of Creative and why this match gives the WWE exactly what they want.

Summerslam is without a doubt a deserving member of the Big 4 (Wrestlemania, Royal Rumble and Survivor Series rounding it out). It signifies that we are out of the summer malaise that tends to permeate through WWE programming and sends us on our way towards Wrestlemania. Summerslam 1991 was the first non-Mania PPV I ever saw live (mainly I would get the tapes from Blockbuster months later), and my 9 year old mind was reprogrammed when I saw what is one of my favorite matches of all time, Hart/Perfect. I suddenly realized that the Hogan nonsense we were being fed wasn’t where entertainment was at. Sure, Hogan had his place at the top of the card to draw them into the building, but as Dusty Rhodes would always say, you need the garnish to make the steak sizzle. Hart/Perfect was the garnish. It wasn’t going to be the headline or the reason that most people bought a ticket, but once they got in the arena they got something special. That match single-handedly made me a better wrestling fan, and thus my love of Summerslam was born.

Summerslam has certain goals to meet just as every WWE PPV has goals to meet. Wrestlemania is the big Super Bowl show that is supposed to tie up all of the loose end storylines and serve as the big blow off for all of the major feuds. Those feuds are usually set up or solidified at the Royal Rumble. The rest? They are usually gestating from Survivor Series. That leaves Summerslam, the unofficial start of the Road to Wrestlemania. Summerslam is like Mania 2. It isn’t hampered with a gimmick like Survivor Series or the Rumble, yet it isn’t marginalized like Unforgiven and No Mercy. Summerslam is a chance for the WWE to run big-time matches without any actual ramifications. There’s no Mania level of stress and anything that doesn’t go right can be corrected by Survivor Series.

With all that said, this year’s Summerslam is shaping up to be a big one. For the first time outside of OVW, Batista and Cena will be going one-on-one. This match should have been saved for Wrestlemania, but then again by not having this one be for the title, we can still see the rematch in April and not feel gypped. Batista/Cena is a monster match that alone should bring in the casual fan. By having both Cena and Batista compete as faces, we can get a Warrior/Hogan type match that will probably not give us a clean finish and allow us to clamor for a return bout.

If that wasn’t enough, we’re getting Edge/Undertaker in a Hell in the Cell. Not counting the Kennel match, I don’t think a HITC has been anywhere on the card other than the main event, so this one should top Mania. The Edge/Taker feud has dominated Smackdown for almost a year, so letting it get a blow-off in the main event feels right. Plus, since Batista/Cena can’t have a clean finish, the fans are guaranteed one here. Hell in the Cell “must have a winner”, so even if there are Edge shenanigans, we’re going to get a pinfall or submission to close out the program.

We have two blockbuster matches at the top of the show and neither of them is for a title. When was the last time there was a PPV when the world titles weren’t the focal point? More importantly, when was the last time there was such an opportunity to do a star-jammed show AND title matches and not feel completely slighted?

The ECW Championship match between Matt Hardy and Mark Henry should crown a new champion. Matt deserves a chance to hold the belt, and since ECW has its own ECW 6, we are going to get several months of awesome matches. If the WWE is smart, they’ll give us a Hardy/Henry rematch at the next PPV and delay Hardy/Morrison or Hardy/Finlay for a little while. Hell, if they had the willpower I’d say save Hardy/Morrison for Wrestlemania. Since this match is an all-but-guaranteed new champion, it takes the pressure off of the other two matches.

The World Heavyweight Championship match seems to look like it’ll be Punk/JBL, and shockingly, I’m alright with this. Bradshaw’s on his last major run and even though I can’t stand him in the ring, I can appreciate the WWE giving him a title match on a major pay-per-view as a thank you. By having it be JBL/Punk, you can let CM Punk FINALLY get a clean pinfall and look like a legit champion for once. I know Kane and Jericho are floating around, but my guess is that we’re building towards a Punk/Cena/Batista/Jericho/Kane/JBL Elimination Chamber match, so don’t think their involvement is all for naught. Punk can’t headline a PPV yet, but the longer he holds the gold, the more credible he’s bound to look. Right? Right? Is this thing on?

Lastly, that leaves us with the WWE Championship. The battle royal on Smackdown showed us that without Edge in the main event, our potential contenders were MVP, Kennedy, Big Show, Jeff Hardy, Umaga and Khali. There is no doubt in my mind that MVP will be a main event heel, maybe even getting a shot at the Royal Rumble when the buyrate is guaranteed thanks to the Rumble match itself. Kennedy seems to be fluctuating quite a bit between the top and the middle of the card, so until he’s established he can just sort of chase his tail (or the US Title). Big Show and Umaga can do a monster’s war to kill time, because doing Hunter/Umaga now would kill what could be a potentially huge future feud and doing Show/Hunter would mean two face/face matches on one PPV and would take away from Cena/Batista. Jeff Hardy/Hunter is the same issue, and I think a Hardy/MVP feud could produce some great matches for the next few months (and its no secret that I liked the Matt/MVP feud…even named it my feud of the year).

All that leaves is The Great Khali.

Now I don’t want you to think that I believe Khali is the also-ran. He has never had a program against Triple H, which means it’s a fresh match-up. On top of that, his massive size always guarantees that we’re going to get a few nice visuals. Plus, by having him compete for the World Title, he is now a legitimate main event threat instead of the borderline giant jobber he was turning into. Is he going to win the belt? No. Is the match going to be great? No. But on the other hand, is it going to require a lot of time on what could be a stacked show? Nope. Will it make Hunter look like a monster? Yep. Summerslam is already being sold based on HITC and Cena/Batista, and those that aren’t buying it for the steak will get the garnish that is CM Punk going into one of the Big 4 with the gold around his waist. Khali/Hunter? It gives us a world title match that won’t distract from the main events, it gives the crowd a guaranteed pop moment and it helps remind the fans that there’s another major heel roaming around Friday nights. If the WWE were to shoot their load and give us anything else, it would be downright irresponsible. Don’t worry, loyal viewer, you’ll get your money’s worth. Just think of this match as the dinner roll.

This has been for your consideration.

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