Sunday, March 25, 2001

The World's Greatest WWF WrestleMania X-7 Preview

The past couple weeks have been somewhat surprising, with the WWF giving me both plenty of reason to get excited about their purchase of WCW and plenty of reason to be annoyed with their lack of build for the big Wrestlemania card. Still, despite the slim buildup, Vinnie Mac and company seem to have a winner on their hands here, for the first time in a couple years. There's no denying this "event to top all events" has been pretty consistently bland since Austin took the belt two years ago, and it pleases me to no length that this year's effort looks to be superb, not to mention worthy of the Wrestlemania banner. I'd be lying through my teeth if I said the Benoit / Angle and Rock / Austin matches don't have me pumped, and a good TLC2 match could further solidify the legendary status of all the teams involved. With the event going nearly four hours this year, there should be plenty of time to go around, and who knows... it's not entirely unlikely that we'll be seeing something to rival the legendary Bret / Austin match of four years ago as 'best of show'.

Tazz & Acolytes vs. Right to Censor

Without question, the lamest duck on the card. Even Ivory / Chyna's got this one topped in my book, and my 'love affair' with the silicone man-beast is very well documented. I dig Tazz alright, though I miss seeing him with a towel draped over his head, and Richards, Venis and the Faarooq are all decent enough workers to an extent. However, I don't think the heat the RTC's gathering is getting much stronger, and the match is likely to suffer as a result. If they use it as an opener it should do well, as the crowd will most certainly be jacked, but otherwise I don't think it'll be very successful. Not alongside the potential classics we've got elsewhere on the card. I smell a swerve here, with Tazz possibly joining up with the censorship bureau and costing his beer-drinkin' buddies the match.
Winners: The RTC

Gimmick Battle Royal
Participants include Kamala, Kim Chee, Repo Man, Hillbilly Jim, The Goon, Typhoon, Earthquake, Gobbledy Gooker, the Bushwhackers (Luke and Butch), Doink the Clown, Brother Love, Sgt. Slaughter, Freebird Michael Hayes, Nikolai Volkoff, The Iron Sheik, One Man Gang and Duke "The Dumpster" Droese. More names to be added.

What an absolutely hilarious, not to mention entertaining, idea. The WWF has put us through some real crap in the past, and it's good to see they aren't afraid to laugh at themselves in retrospect. The possibilities here are almost limitless, as just about anyone mentioned on Wrestlecrap has a chance of showing their face before the final bell tolls, including all those old, horrible WCW gimmicks. Oh yeah, that's right. You didn't consider that, did you? With the purchase of WCW the WWF has a whole new broom closet full of terrible gimmicks to pu tinto this match. Dream matches like the Ding Dongs vs. The Stalker are right here on our doorstep! It'll be a fun little trip down memory lane, and if our constant lobbying for the Berzerker doesn't see fruition this Sunday, I'll be one sad little puppy. But hey... that's nothing a little Ugandan Giant wackiness can't cure. I've got to go with Kamala here, even though he doesn't understand how to properly pin his opponents. The celebratory belly slappin' is gonna be nonstop after this one, let me tell you!!
Winner: Kamala, the Ugandan Giant

Test vs. Eddy Guerrero
European Championship

This one could be the sleeper match of the evening, as the two are surprisingly well matched and Test has been showing more and more willingness to get up and go since parting ways with the stench of "T&A". Both these guys are directionless at the moment, with Guerrero's big blowoff with Benoit somehow slipping through the cracks and Test stagnating with the European title for months, so the heat won't be all it could be. Still, Wrestlemania has been known to bring out the best in everyone, and that means we could see some big time fireworks before Guerrero and Martin are through. Eddy needs to establish himself as the inhuman dickhead, and soon... and what better a place to do it than here? I've got him going over strong, absolutely destroying Test's legs and continuing the beating long after the bell has tolled. All star action all the way, and if Test has clue one about how to sell, it could turn into a psychological classic.
Winner: Eddie Guerrero

Ivory vs. Chyna
Women's Championship

I'm not so thrilled about this one. Let's say Chyna destroys Ivory from start to finish, before the RTC plays their "run-in" card and makes things messy. We'll most likely see a DQ, allowing Ivory to keep hold of the Women's Title (as Chyna has said time and again she has no interest in it), but putting the slobbering synthetic accident over. Just please... please... don't let "Number Two" Billy Gunn get involved.
Winner: Chyna

Raven vs. Big Show vs. Kane
Hardcore Championship

Contrary to the popular opinion, I'm kinda getting into Raven's WWF look and feel. There's no question he isn't half as interesting as he was in WCW (not to mention ECW), but it's a definite step up from his early months in the Titan plaza. Of course, being a pseudo-face, he's acting like a complete moron; assaulting Kane for no obvious reason and taunting the Big Show masochistically. There isn't much depth to his character, like there was in WCW. Instead of an outcast from society, punishing himself because no one else would, you get "that guy with the red hair who drags a shipping cart to the ring." However, his inclusion in this match is probably a blessing in disguise, as another Big Show / Kane matchup is predicted by Nostradamus as one of the catalysts of the Armageddon. It's that bad. Hell, I'm still reeling from the "choke hold heard 'round the world" these two delivered at the '99 King of the Ring tournament. Talk about entertainment. I'm gonna go out on a relatively thick limb here, and say Raven's gonna emerge victorious. It's unexpected, and that way he can move on to other things while the WWF revisits the aforementioned choke hold with the feud they simply must have. The man with the cart takes advantage of one giant's misfortune and sneaks out with his gold.
Winner: Raven

Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

Damn, this just SCREAMS Heyman, and I love it. The man's been with the WWF not even a month, and Benoit's been developed and advanced more definitively than at any other point in his career. I was bothered they hadn't mentioned this match with Angle on TV yet prior to this Monday, but after that stellar opening interview I just can't see it going down any other way. Rather than going over the same "I attacked you from behind, hit my submission and made you tap. Now vice versa" formula that's almost halted the Rock / Austin feud, these two are just now hitting the white hot pinnacle of their build with the match only hours away. I fully expect this to completely tear the house down, and though I'm possibly setting myself up for something of a letdown by doing so, I just can't help myself. On one side we've got the greatest pure wrestler in North America, and on the other a legit amateur Olympic champion, probably the most dominating force in the WWF's last year. It's like the merging of the greco roman and catch-as-catch-can titles for 2001. This is gonna be sweet. And even though I'm such a Benoit mark, I've got to go with Angle in the end. This is the biggest blowoff show of the year, but these two are just warming up.
Winner: Kurt Angle

Chris Jericho vs. William Regal
Intercontinental Championship

I've got no complaints about this fun, short little feud, except that the situation is getting to be redundant with Jericho. It's been too long since he was involved in a series of matches that actually meant something, and he's really falling behind where he should be on the card. Take a look at Y2J's last year and tell me he's moved on the card one bit. This time last year, he was fighting Benoit and Angle for the Intercontinental and European titles. This year, he's fighting William Regal for one of those same belts. While the other two members of that incredible three way have since moved on to big fame and promotion (Benoit in his multiple main PPV main events with the Rock, Angle with his dominance at the top of the card), Jericho has done next to nothing. It's time they got serious with him. He's more than likely going over Sunday, and needs a solid program to step right into the following Monday night. Unfortunately, I'm lost as to who he might find as a suitable opponent.
Winner: Chris Jericho

Dudley Boyz ? vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian
Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match for the Tag Team Titles

There's two ways this one can go. First, the audience could be realistic about things and just sit back, enjoying the match for what it is with no prior expectations. Second, they can go into it expecting everyone to top the unbelievable performance they put on at Summerslam... and be disappointed. Improper as it may be, I'd be willing to bet the majority of the WWF audience is going to fall into that second bracket. The thing that really sets vicious spot wrestling apart from straightforward technical style is the immeasurable demand that spot workers top themselves each and every night out. While Shawn Michaels might have a five star match one night and a three star the next, fans for the most part will enjoy them both. They won't feel especially let down if he goes ten minutes instead of sixty, especially given certain time restraints. On the other hand, if Jeff Hardy doesn't match and / or top his Swanton Bomb from the twenty footer this Sunday, you've gotta know half the audience is going home unhappy. Ditto with the Cactus Jack / HHH Hell in a Cell match at last year's No Way Out. I just went back and watched it not long ago, and for what it was the match was tremendous. However, since Mick didn't drop the elbow from the very top, fans went home disappointed. It's horrible, but it's a fact. With that said, I'd imagine a lot of people are going to approach this one with unrealistic expectations, and it won't get the same reaction that it should. Then again, I could be wrong. They could go out their, bust their asses and get a standing ovation. I'd love that, but I just don't think it's realistic. We'll get a beautiful match out of this, of that I'm sure. In the end, isn't that all that matters? I'll take the Dudleys here, though it could logically go either way. D-Von and Buh Buh Ray deserve it.
Winners: The Dudley Boyz

Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon
Street Fight Featuring Special Referee Mick Foley

Gah, the interest in this one shot through the roof during one twenty minute segment, didn't it? The match could be ugly, but that's not the real attraction about this clash. In essence, this has become the precursor to the WWF / WCW cross promotion we all see looming on the horizon. Granted, it's not McMahon / Bischoff, but it's the next best thing. The boss of the WWF vs. the boss of WCW. And they just happen to be father and son. Everyone's been rumored to show up here, from HBK to Booker T to Pete Rose dressed up like the Gobbledy Gooker, and it's not without reason. They'd really be dropping the ball here if no other athletes make appearances. Vince and Shane will likely bounce each other around the arena a bit, with one or both taking an enormous fall to the cold, unforgiving cushioning down below. It won't be a technical masterpiece, but should be worthwhile all the same, if just to keep an eye on the entryway. And if Vince wins, he's effectively squashed WCW's chances before they've started. Shane takes it home, with a little help from his new friends.
Winner: Shane McMahon

The Undertaker vs. Triple H

Could be decent, could be a bore. There's no question in my mind that, along with Kurt Angle, HHH enjoyed a supreme coming out party throughout the whole of 2000, carrying the belt for most of it. HHH has been one of the most consistently good workers in the sport, and I really admire the way he's avoided the easy way out and become a "cool heel", rather than the full-fledged prick that the fans love to hate. The Undertaker, on the other hand, is watching his long, storied career wind up. His biker gimmick has met with moderate success, and one can't argue his placement high on the card, but I have to wonder if HHH feels a bit cheated, missing out on the main event one year after becoming the first heel to walk out of Wrestlemania a champion. I was hardly excited about this one when JR first mentioned it during his Ross Report, but since that time I've found myself becoming more and more open to the idea. The sledgehammer shot HHH delivered on Smackdown! was tremendous, as was the Undertaker's insane blade job (supposing it actually was a blade, and HHH didn't really knock the sense right out of him), and that segment alone may have saved the feud in my eyes. I suppose it's a bit of a test, to see if HHH is really as good as we all know he is. He gets the nod.
Winner: HHH

The Rock vs. Steve Austin
World Wrestling Federation Championship

The comparisons with Hogan / Warrior are there, and I'm not one to say they aren't completely valid. A face vs. face matchup is always a difficult angle to deal with, and you either wind up with a big winner, or flat on your face. Handled correctly, such a battle can become more heated than any face vs. heel feud could ever hope to be, with fans taking sides and scorning anyone who like 'the other guy'. To a degree, I think that's exactly what you'll see here. The match should be outstanding, as Austin has unquestionably returned to his pre-injury ring form, and the Rock is continuing to grow as a worker. The heat's died down a bit over the last couple weeks, as the storyline hasn't been advanced much since Rocky picked up Debra as a manager, but the audience should still be absolutely insane when the glass breaks and these two step between the ropes. Of course, everyone's expecting a turn here, and if I had to choose a candidate I'd probably go with Rocky. Austin's just that much more over, and The Rock's been acting more and more like a heel as the weeks wear on. I'd be willing to bet, though, that we'll make it through this one without a major change in the status quo. Austin's ready to hold the title again, and I'm betting that's exactly what he'll do. No amount of Rock Bottoms or People's Elbows can match the explosive quality of a Stunner at the end of a PPV, and that's going to be the case this Sunday night.
Winner: Steve Austin

In Closing...

I'll be ordering this one, the first PPV to be seen live in my apartment since No Way Out... last year. I may have to go without warm water for a couple weeks, because this thing's gonna break me, but in the end I think it'll be well worth the price of admission. Some things just can't be expressed with somewhat live transcripts on the web, and Wrestlemania is one of them. This one I'm gonna have to see myself.
until next time, i remain

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