William Regal vs. Tajiri
I'm of a pretty firm belief that no single company is going to show any sort of upper hand throughout the event, all the way up to the final bell. If the Alliance walks out of every match with their hands held high, doesn't that make things in the main event just a tad bit too predictable? If nothing else, the WWF knows how to make main events nobody can safely predict, even on the very eve of their production. I'd imagine that trend will hold true here.
Regarding the match, well, I'm a bit disappointed. Loyal Ringside Shadows readers will remember my coverage of the Tajiri / Regal angle a couple months back in my weekly column, and I can't help but think they're dropping the ball by shooting this load with such a non-build behind it. Both have become quite stagnant over the course of the last month, with Tajiri treading water somewhere in the midcard and Regal's turn being overshadowed by the arrival of Kurt Angle and his aforementioned bicep tear, and this angle really needs more time to age in front of the fans before it's ready to blow off. Unless Tajiri turns heel here, which I'm calling a longshot, this will be quiet, understated and forgettable. It won't be bad, but it won't be something you look back on fondly twenty years down the line.
Winner: William Regal
Immunity Invitational Battle Royal
(Involving Crash, Saturn, Faarooq, Bradshaw, Spike, Albert, Scotty 2 Hotty, Funaki, Billy Gunn, Chuck Palumbo, Raven, The Hurricane, Kidman, Shawn Stasiak, Tazz, Steven Richards, DDP, Lance Storm, Justin Credible, Hugh Morrus, Tommy Dreamer, Chavo Guerrero Jr.)
I surprise myself for saying this out loud, but I've actually always been a pretty big fan of the old school battle royals. I dig the Royal Rumble each year, if just so we can see some faces that haven't been given a chance all year, and I just like the format of thirty guys going into one ring with a common goal, and only one stepping out of it the victor. With that said, one thing that's sorely lacking from the modern battle royal is unpredictability. You can always count on two or three people who have a chance to win it, and might as well write off the rest before their feet have even touched canvas. Sad but true. I predicted last year's Royal Rumble correctly. With a 1 in 30 shot, there's no way I should've been able to do that, but I did. Sign of the times.
So, for a change, I'd like to be surprised in this one. I'd like to see Steven Richards or Funaki battling for the immunity, instead of DDP or Bradshaw. I'd like to see a spot for Crash Holly in the new order. But, while my heart is telling me one thing, my brain is telling me something completely different. It seems Tazz is on his way to bigger and better things, judging from his inclusion in Heyman's promo on Smackdown, and Dave's guess is mine here as well. He's the logical choice.
Dave and I had a quick word about this one when the Smackdown spoilers went up Tuesday Night, and settled on a mutually agreed verdict; I wish my last job offered "Immunity Battle Royals". Some professions get all the luck.
Jacqueline vs. Trish Stratus vs. Lita vs. Mighty Molly vs. Ivory vs. Mystery opponent
I've never seen a Jazz match, so I can't say for sure whether you should hurt or squirt when she inevitably does show her face this Sunday. But I do know Molly's in there along with Ivory, so there's a slight possibility things will be watchable, however momentarily. Come to think of it, all of these women have a basic amount of experience in the ring, so it won't be the worst women's title match of all time.
I, for one, don't really care who wins this. But I disagree with Dave, there actually does seem to be a calling for this belt again. The WWF's made a concerted effort to get fans interested in Women's matches lately, and more often than not the results haven't been all that bad thanks to the hard work of one Molly Holly. So, no matter who the mystery opponent turns out to be.. Nicole Bass, Sable, Jazz or Janet Reno (there's a mental picture), I'm going with Molly as my vixen of choice.
Winner: Mighty Molly
Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz
Tag Team Unification Cage Match
Kudos to the WWF for making such a big deal out of the Dudleys' achievement as WWF, WCW and ECW champs, even though it means a little less now that they're all effectively the same promotion. I mean, if you're looking at this logically, the Dudleys don't even rank up there with The Steiner Brothers and The Public Enemy, who at least wrestled for the three promotions when they weren't one in the same. But alas, I'm getting off on a meaningless tirade.
These guys have fought more often than anyone can remember, even wrestling "historians" and the teams themselves. With that comes, naturally, repetition, but also a positive side effect; familiarity. Sure, every single step taken in this one won't be something brand new and groundbreaking. We'll probably see a repeat of one or two spots from earlier Hardy / Dudley confrontations. But the negatives will be cancelled out by the confidence these four have in each other as athletes and performers. So while the spots won't all be original, they will be smoother than ever. The transitions more abundant and less nonsensical. The match just a bit more solid than those that came before. And the Hardys the new champions.
Winners: The Hardy Boyz
Edge vs. Test
U.S. / Intercontinental Unification Match
For two guys just beginning to show some promise at the end of last month, the bottoms has really dropped out on Test and Edge. Sure, they're still fighting over what should be the second most prestigious title in the union, but does it really even feel that way any more? Remember in the mid to late 80s, when the Intercontinental champion was always just a short hop from the top of the world? When the US Champion would routinely test the NWA Champ with everything he had in him? Remember a little match in Toronto, at a tiny little show called Wrestlemania VI, where the Intercontinental Champ actually defeated the longstanding World Champ? That's the kind of prestige that should be associated with these belts, and the men holding them. Instead, it's almost a filler match at the middle of a card. An afterthought. And that's too bad.
Now, sometimes great athletes can use a situation like this one to their advantage. A huge performance in a relatively unsuspecting match such as this one could be all that separates a star like Edge from overnight Main Event status. Look what Mick Foley did in his own unique way, at a similarly unsuspecting match at the '98 King of the Ring tournament. It only takes one memorable match to make or break the career of a lifetime. Who knows... maybe this Sunday night will be just such a match.
10-man elimination tag match - Winner take all!
Team WWF (Chris Jericho, The Rock, Kane, The Undertaker, The Big Show) vs. Team Alliance (Shane McMahon, Booker T, Kurt Angle, Steve Austin, Rob Van Dam)
The possibilities here are nearly endless, but there remain a few things the internet scene has been overlooking, in my opinion, most notably a 7'2", 500 pound main event participant. Come on, am I the only one who thinks the Big Show's inclusion is a little bit suspicious? All this talk you've heard about the WWF's solidarity in the face of annihilation, and where's the Show been? He's mysteriously never on the scene when Rocky, Kane, Jericho and the Taker have their little get togethers. He was thrown onto the team with little or no thought involved, taking Mr. McMahon's place without even a "Hey, wait" from Vince himself. Everybody in the WWF, WCW and ECW is afraid of his goofy ass. Something just isn't adding up in my book. So yeah, I think this whole thing is gonna be kicked off with a Big Show heel turn, leading to a victory by the Alliance.
Another thing I've noticed that's slipped by most everyone else lies in the opening moments of every RAW broadcast, namely the familiar "Thorn in Your Eye" accompanied RAW intro video. Probably one of my favorite things about the WWF during its biggest run was the fact it was always in motion. That opening video changed every week, it went years without remaining stagnant. And now, suddenly, it's remained unchanged for more than a month. That tells me the production team is busying themselves with something else... something more than those "Desire" videos everyone's been praising so far. Maybe a new introduction... maybe a new set... maybe a whole new show.
So the match will be a boatload of fun. The timeless nod to the event's history, taking shape in the stipulations of this ten man elimination match, is almost perfectly suited to this kind of an important, issue-deciding matchup. Personally, I thought the idea of making this one a WarGames match was killer, but you can't argue with the name at the top of the masthead, and the name of this PPV is the Survivor Series, not the Great American Bash. Even so, the WWF's going down to the visitors in this humble columnist's opinion. It'll be long, it'll be strong, and it'll be worth it in the end.
The Series and Monday's RAW should be good fun, and I imagine Sunday Night will leave an awfully large mess to clean up on Monday morning, but one thing about this card really doesn't sit well with me. No matter who wins in Sunday's "unification" matches, the man carrying the belt will be a former WWF star who switched over to the Alliance at one point or another. Think about it, the Intercontinental Champ will be either Test or Edge. The Tag Belts will belong to the Dudleys or the Hardys. The Cruiserweight Champs are Tajiri and X-Pac. The World Titles are around the waists of The Rock and Steve Austin. Not a single "old regime" WCW'er in the mix. Rest assured, the Invasion's already come and gone. We just haven't seen any of the fireworks up until this point.
The only thing that can really save WCW in my mind is a victory in the main event, whether Flair comes aboard or not. It needs to be done to establish the squad as formidable once again, even if there is only one WCW man on the crew. With Mick Foley and Paul Heyman already denouncing the Federation, I think it's a matter of reading the writing on the wall. But what do I know, honestly..?
until next time, i remain