Victoria vs. Trish Stratus
This one should actually be much better than it has any right to be. Trish has improved by leaps and bounds since her debut in the ring (and subsequent title reign), and while she's not quite good enough to be carrying title matches on her own, Victoria seems more than capable of picking up the slack here. I'm sorry to see Molly up and vanish from the division, but with only one reigning face on the roster, there's only so many times you can pair up the same heel with her before things get repetitive and boring. It's also too bad they dropped the mentor thing they had going with Ms. Holly and Victoria, as that had much stronger legs than this whole "I'm the little person she stepped on as she climbed to the top" deal we've got going on now. But that's the direction we seem to be heading with the booking right now... the whole 'face from the past' thing... so I guess I'll have to take what I can get.
If there's one thing I'm damn sure of, it's the fact that I'm much happier watching Trish and Victoria, two women who can put on an exciting match without brutalizing the eyes, than I am watching Sherri Martel and Alundra Blayze. The women's division has come a long way, and I've gotta applaud it for that. Let's just hope nobody gets hurt, as Victoria's been slightly sloppy since her debut. It'll be fun, if kept relatively short. I'm thinking Victoria looks much stronger here, but I'm also thinking Trish has a money feud with Jazz coming up upon her return, so it's a tough one to call. Let's take a risk and go with the new chick. She can always drop the strap before December.
Winner: Victoria looks a lot like Victorious
Booker T & Goldust vs. Christian & Chris Jericho
World Tag Team Championship
On paper, this one looks really good. Almost a fanboy's wet dream (if you leave out Goldust, or replace him with Benoit or Angle, or somebody.) Booker and Jericho are two guys pegged by everyone except the bookers as the future of the sport, with Christian just a few steps behind them. Meanwhile, Goldust remains inexplicably over and continues his trend of wedging his way into matches involving guys with ridiculous amounts of talent. While I don't see he and Booker as tag team championship material, they do have this bizarre sort of chemistry together that keeps the team functional despite the difference between characters. However, their matches don't flow much... or... at all, and therein lies the problem wit this match.
With Christian dogging it in the ring since his jump to RAW, and Jericho coming off a string of the best matches he's wrestled in years, there's going to be a big hot & cold element here. Or, if things continue for the team the way they did Monday, a distinct cold & cold element. And again, if they pick up where they left off at TLC two weeks ago, an untouchable hot & hot element. You get the idea. Straight up, this team sucked balls Monday night, when they walked away tag team champions. They didn't look like a team that should even tag together regularly, let alone a team that should be walking away with some gold. So, let's put it this way; if Y2J and Christian come to play later this evening, this one could potentially blow the roof off the place and solidify them as legit tag champions.Then again, if they make sucking balls a regular gig, this could stink up the arena and further tarnish one of the two men's belts left on RAW. I'd wager that no matter which direction Jericho and Christian choose to take this, Booker and Goldust won't be far behind. They're just as variable as their opponents, ready to kick ass if the other guys want to, or willing to suck ass if the opponents choose to follow that route.
Neither team should be competing here, but then again neither should Kane & Hurricane. I'm taking the Canadians to retain.
Winners: Chris & Christian
Dawn Marie vs. Torrie Wilson
I'll be honest, I haven't been paying attention to this feud. They're both hot, let's just leave it at that. Forget everything we saw about Torrie's wrinkly-ass dad, this is here to fill the T&A quota of the night, since the Women's match seems to be concentrating more on actual wrestling. I could do without it, but I won't complain. I mean, it could be worse. We could be seeing Teri's skanky, 65-year-old ass out there trying to look sexy again.
Winner: Dawn Marie, because I dig brunettes
Rob Van Dam vs. Ric Flair
Hoo, boy. It must suck to be Rob Van Dam right now. One minute you're in the main event, this close to winning the World Title, and the next a whole month has passed and at the last moment you've been thrown into a match against a guy whose style is like the polar opposite of your own. I like both guys as individuals, but this one is gonna be ugly. I thought we'd already determined that these two were as incompatible as they come, when they first met in a tag match the night after Unforgiven. Memories of Flair trying to maintain his bearings and horribly botching a monkey flip spring immediately to mind. Now, don't get me wrong... a mat wrestler can most certainly put on a good to great match with a high flying risk taker. It's just not freaking likely when the mat wrestler is a rapidly aging Ric Flair and the risk taker is Rob Van Dam.
I said it last month, and I'll say it again this month (and next month, and the month after that, and as long as they're willing to keep putting him in the ring), they need to get the Nature Boy out of the ring entirely. He's doing nothing for the product by slapping on those tights, and the only thing he's doing for himself is tarnishing that legendary status. It's becoming more and more sad to see him in there each week, seeing his brilliant, tactical mind starting to falter, and his once-iron body betraying him at nearly every step. Please, just stop the suffering. Give him one last match, against someone who can give him a last match worth remembering, and then retire him forever.
This feud won't advance either man, and after this month RVD will be completely out of the picture as far as Triple H is concerned. RVD gets the nod, but at what cost?
Winner: Rob Van Dam
Benoit and Angle vs. Edge and Rey Mysterio, Jr.
WWE Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals
This is your show stealer, right here. Talk about four guys who have been absolutely on fire over the last month. These four, teamed with the Guerreros, are the major reason Smackdown is widely regarded as the better show, and I don't think I'll ever get any sort of argument in making that statement, either. The tension between Benoit and Angle have been played out almost perfectly over the last month, with Thursday being the perfect way for them to head into the PPV. Along those same lines, Edge and Rey have worked well enough together, merging their unique styles, and are already set up for a feud with Eddy and Chavo upon their victory in this match. Likewise, Benoit and Angle are a powder keg, set to blow when one man loses this match for the other and finally turns one full heel and one full face. It's extremely easy booking to predict, but it doesn't make it any less interesting, or less exciting to see unfold. Sometimes I'd trade all the surprises in the world, ever major turn in a main event, for the ease and tradition of an angle allowed to follow its own natural course. Look at MMA; sure, you get your fair share of surprises and upsets, but the majority of the time there's a guy who deserves to win and a guy who deserves to lose. You don't get people stringing opponents along, in an intricate plot not even a Hollywood producer could follow. You get two guys who want to beat the shit out of each other, and one guy who's likely to win. Sometimes I wish pro wrestling would realize that's where the excitement is. We can only suspend our disbelief so far.
Whoah, I got off track. Benoit and Angle have both proven they can work an excellent match with Rey Rey, and Angle's put on clinics with Edge in the past. The only real variable here is how well Benoit will take to Edge, and I don't think that's much of an issue in and of itself, considering how good these two have been across the board over the last six months. I already revealed my choice for the end of this match a bit above; I'd be surprised if we didn't see Benoit locking in a crossface on the Olympian, or Angle trapping the Wolverine in an ankle lock before it all ends. Edge and Rey are picking up the win, and moving on to a match with the team that deserved to be in this match, Eddy and Chavo.
Winners: Edge & Rey Mysterio, Jr.
World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs. Intercontinental Champion Kane
Champion vs. Champion; Winner Take All
iUf! For those who don't "habla espa?ol", iUf! is Spanish for "What the hell is the WWE thinking, writing a feud between two heavyweights that centers not around the physicality of the match, but instead on Kane's history of fucking dead bodies???" Those wacky Spanish, how they can condense such an intricate, detailed message into just two short letters and a set of exclamation marks, I'll never know.
Honest to god, what the hell. Is it not blatantly obvious how much the audience despises this angle? Has it ever occurred to the writers that maybe, just maybe, there should be a few subjects that they write off as simply not acceptable for a wrestling storyline? Not because they push the envelope, but because they're seriously uneasy subjects that have nothing to do with attracting potential viewers and everything to do with embarrassing the core audience. There are only a few times I've been more embarrassed to be watching RAW than I was this past Monday. Remember that time the entire Alliance came out, and starting singing to Stone Cold? That was one of them. This shit should be immediately retired, written off as a dream sequence and stricken from the record faster than Andre the Giant's World Title reign prior to Wrestlemania IV.
Seriously, look at this. I'm so intense in my hatred about the angle that I can't even be bothered to comment on the match itself. Kane's lost some weight, as has Triple H. This still won't be that good. It won't even be in the same LEAGUE as a match to retire the Intercontinental Title should be. Kick, wham, pedigree, sledgehammer, corpses coming from below the ring to deliver their own, semen-drenched pedigree, whatever. Hoss or no, Kane's not winning this one.
Winner: Dribble Aitch
Brock Lesnar vs. the Undertaker
WWE Championship; Hell in a Cell
Why's this one in the cell again? Any particular reasoning behind that? No? Didn't think so. Sure, they could've actually made HIAC mean something here, by giving Lesnar a tainted victory thanks to Heyman's help last month. They could've put the thing to use for the very reason it was constructed in the first place, to keep one guy's cronies from coming into the ring and ruining another match for the Undertaker. But nah, this was all Steph's idea. Marketing genius that she is, she's decided that this match will take place in the infamous cube of misery AND (get this!!) THE UNDERTAKER WILL BE ALLOWED TO WEAR HIS CAST! Oh, holy god, hold me back. That decision's ramifications haven't even begun to sink in yet.
You know what I'd like to see here? A taste of honest-to-goodness, old school cage match psychology. You know, the kind of matches they had where one guy was guaranteed to leave a bloody mess, and the other guy would be doing a stretcher job? The kind of cage matches they had before the WWE decided it was much more exciting to watch guys step through the door than it was to watch them scale the cage. I'd like to see a Hell in a Cell match where the participants actually stay inside the cage. No matter what the outcome, if these two try to keep up with the tradition that is HIAC this match will be doomed to fail. They can't do it. Not even an F5 on the top (which would, admittedly, be pretty cool) would hold water next to the kind of shit that Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels have done. Their only chance here is to break all the preconceived notions people have about HIAC matches, and begin their own legacy inside the steel. They need to give us a solid match, not a spot-fest. They need to use the cage intelligently and creatively. But more importantly, they need to tie it all together with a solid match and a clean finish. If they can do that, which is admittedly a huge task, they're golden. Otherwise, file this next to "Kennel in a Cell" or "Bossman in a cell" at WMXV.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Despite the horrendous booking filling 75% of the card, a few lucky breaks could make this a somewhat decent PPV after all. The Black Gold / Canadians match has potential to be much better than expected, if Jericho can get Christian off his ass again, Trish and Victoria might be good, Brock / Taker might be interesting, and of course the Smackdown tag match should rip the house down. If the writers realize how badly their work is failing, the next month might yet be salvageable, but it's still a little too early to be making predictions about that one. Especially considering how much Vince likes to shove more of the same down our throats after a vocal displeasure with the product. We'll see.
until next time, i remain