Billy Kidman vs. Jamie Noble
Cruiserweight Title Match
I'm noticing some similarities to the enormous initial run of TAKA Michinoku in the push of Jamie Noble here. He's giving us good to great matches and wrestling a style that's designed to wake fans up, grab their attention, hold onto it, and steal shows. Yet, he still gets thrown into PPV matches at the last second, if at all. The title he carries has a little more value than TAKA's old prize, thanks to the tremendous amount of talent the division inherited from the WCW buyout, but the problems with management are still there. It's too bad, too, since fans are as receptive to this division as they've ever been. All they need is a really kickass storyline to play with, and the cruisers in general will be through the roof. And maybe, just maybe, we'll have a prayer of seeing that Michinoku Mysterio dream match that's been just out of grasp for years now.
In reference to the match, Kidman and Jamie should entertain. These two have matched up well together in the past, and while they haven't done anything remarkable with each other, they'll put on a fun show all the same. I could really care less about Billy-bo's character right now, in all his vanilla glory, and if a wrestling junkie like myself can't get into him what does that say about his chances with the general public? Maybe if they'd give him some personality, a character flaw, a quirk, SOMETHING to set him apart from the gaggle of other guys who used to wrestle in cut-off jeans. Noble, at least, they're TRYING with. That's why he's my pick here.
Winner: Jamie Noble
Jeff Hardy, Bubba Ray and Spike vs. 3-Minute Warning and Rico
SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TABLE MATCH
Maybe they should've put a special stipulation on this one; winner gets a push that means something. This is like a who's who of also-rans in the WWE right now, feuding with one another because... hey, nobody else is. Not that I blame them in any case except Rico's. The Samoans 2k2 had their big chance to reach for the stars, and they slipped up. Now they're just "those two guys who used to run in from the crowd after three minutes." Jeff Hardy had similar chances, which seemed to affect him in the worst way imaginable. The guy just doesn't look like he cares (or knows) what he's doing anymore. His character's sailed off into way, way left field, and his matches are a poor satire of the style he once defined. Bubba's off rehashing the dancin' fat man gimmick, last used publicly by Dusty Rhodes, and little Spike will ALWAYS be the honorary punching bag for all of the WWE. Rico's a little different. Unlike the others, he's never really been given a chance to show us what he can do with a high-profile spot, and I tend to believe he'd manage to put something worthwhile together if he ever did. He's got a unique, standout style in the ring. You'll never overlook him in a crowd. And he can talk. It's a recipe for success, guys, and you're letting it go to waste...
The interactions between these six on TV have been about what you'd expect. Nothing to write home about, but better than another backstage segment with Triple H and Kane. So long as they don't try to book this as a 45-minute marathon of a match, it'll be watchable. Everyone will hit their signature spots (except Rico, because they haven't seen fit to GIVE him a signature spot yet), the fans will chant for tables, someone will go through the pre-cut wood, and we'll move on to the next match. I want to see them give this one to the 3-minute men, just because I think their act has much, much more promise than the Dudleyville / Hardyburgh connection.
Winners: The Three Minute Warning
Victoria vs. Trish Stratue
HARDCORE RULES - WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
Victoria knows her way around the ring. Trish is carryable. The match should be pretty decent, with Fit Finlay continuing his attempt as road agent to make the Women's division worthwhile. Let's just steer clear of too many video packages, backstage segments, interviews, hallway run-ins, what have you. Victoria's a good wrestler, but a stinky, rotting, grotesque actress. Let's allow her to wrestle, and allow the viewers to breathe a sigh of relief.
I'm putting my money on Trish here. Jazz will be back soon, and you've gotta have a big time face as the champ so she can stiff the shit out of them again. My, how this division has missed Jazz.
Edge & Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie & Chavo Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit
TRIPLE THREAT TAG TEAM MATCH - WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
What, like I can say anything at all here. This is exactly the kind of match I want to see on a card I'm paying $30 for. The way these three teams have interacted over the last couple months has been almost flawless. The Guerreros are the absolute heels, Rey & Edge are the clean cut faces, and Benoit / Angle represent the tweeners. They've all been shown interacting with one another logically since the tournament's end, and any combination of two of these teams would make sense in a tag title match at this point. Throwing all three of them in there together not only makes sense, but also serves as a great segue into both the Men of Mystery / Los Guerreros feud and the Benoit / Angle singles blowoff in the next couple months. I don't think there's any way they can screw this up. Even an overbooked finish, or a goofy turn wouldn't be enough to make this one suck. The guys involved are just too good.
I'm going with the faces as victors here, but wouldn't be surprised to see Benoit and Angle come together as a cohesive unit and just OWN the other guys. And that's something else I really like about this build. Benoit and Angle have been handled as two main eventers thrown into an uneasy alliance since day one. They've completely pushed the fact that, if these two could get along, they'd be untouchable. But as their tempers flare, so do the chances of their opposition. It's a can't miss formula, and I love it. Applause! Applause!
Winners: Edge & Rey Mysterio, Jr.
Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show
Rumor has it both of these two have some aches and pains coming in to this one; Brock nursing a rib ailment, Show working with a bruised arm. I understand Lesnar's picked the big man up for an F5 at house shows, but it'll still be interesting to see if he can get the big man up with all the hot lights pointed at him. I don't think anybody has any illusions about the quality of this match. We're not gonna see anything to rival Flair / Steamboat, nor will we see anything that will compete with the three way tag match from earlier in the show. What we'll see is two big guys, throwing punches at one another, wearing each other down and trying for a big, high impact spot to finish things.
Of course, the real story here is IN the story. Is Paul Heyman about to betray his client, turning the champ face? Will Scott Steiner show up and make things a no contest? Will Lesnar accept his first defeat? Lots of possibilities for something to change, but it's the idea of everything remaining the same that's captured my mind. Brock's not ready to turn face yet, nor should he separate from Paul. Sure, it's got the makings of a great story in it, but this would be pulling the plug a bit early. And, unless the writers are blind, deaf and dumb, Steiner's headed to RAW.
I'm doubting the Big Show will be the first man to pin Brock Lesnar. The champ retains.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Triple H vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kane vs. Booker T vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Shawn Michaels
ELIMINATION CHAMBER WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
This could really kick ass. You've got six huge names in the ring at one time, in a brand new gimmick match that's been built with more vigor than the second coming of Christ. By all means, the sheer intrigue alone should be enough to carry the audience through this one. Add to that the fact that none of these guys are slouches in the ring, and you're mixing something worth a peek. Then again, this could really SUCK ass. You've got six big names who aren't familiar with one another, one of which is attempting to return from four years away from the ring due to a broken back. You've got one of the most unpredictable wrestlers on the planet in Rob Van Dam, who can give us a match of the year one night, only to mail it in the next. You've got Kane, who still hasn't convinced me he's a main eventer and just finished up a couple unmemorable matches against Triple H. And you've got the champ himself, who's the object of nearly everyone's ire lately and has been taking a suspicious number of losses in the last couple weeks. But you've also got Chris Jericho and Booker T, who have been absolutely scorching the last couple weeks, and both look ready to step up to the challenge in a big way. It'll be... interesting... I can say that.
I'm not so crazy about the rules. Any match where wrestlers are confined to a small area, within reach of the other guys, is a little silly. I didn't like it when they'd dangle guys from the cieling in a cage, I don't like it now. Then again, I suppose it's the best way to keep this from becoming a major league clusterfuck. This way, you've at least got a few minutes of one-on-one before somebody new comes in and things start to get crazy.
So let's see who's got a chance and why. Kane; nuh unh. He had his shot last month, and it didn't go anywhere. As far as I'm concerned, his feud with Triple H blew off with that mysteriously non-title casket match. RVD; same story. I'd give him a better chance than the big red machine, but not by much. He'll last a while, though, so as to maximize the chance he'll pull some absolutely insane and memorable spot out of his ass. Shawn Michaels; The wild card. I sincerely doubt they'll put the gold on him, since he's asked to work such a limited schedule, but I wouldn't rule it out either. He'll keep things together, at the very least, and may eliminate Triple H from the runnings. Chris Jericho; in case you missed the RAW Review, I LOVED the way they built Y2J at the end of the show. It not only boosted his stock and made him seem like more than just one half of the tag team champions, it threw a whole new variable into the outcome of this match. He feels like a legitimate challenger now, but I'm still betting against him. If there were ever a way to get the gold off of Triple H and onto Jericho, this would be it, but it's not gonna happen. Booker T; Probably the best bet in terms of challengers. I like his chances, especially after a strong couple weeks of build, but it might be rushing things to cash out his push this soon. Finally, Triple H; the most likely suspect. Come on, like he WOULDN'T jump at the opportunity to put himself over five of RAW's main event-level contenders at one time. I hope to god he loses, but I'm not counting on it. More to the contrary, actually. Trips is coming out on top here, but just barely.
Like I said, this could kick or suck. It's all up to a few variables to determine the fate of these six. Here's hoping for a great match, the fed could certainly use it.
Winner: Triple H
I'm more than a little upset to see Lance Storm and William Regal missing from this card, since they've been giving us something worth watching on RAW lately. But then again, I guess that whole "strike while the iron's hot" thing is overrated anyway. Or maybe they'll find themselves thrown onto the card at the last minute, and I'll be left looking like a tool. Either way, I'll find a way to carry on with my life. There are a few other faces I'd like to see on this card that have gone unnoticed, but for the most part the bases are covered here. This won't win any awards for "greatest PPV of all time", but it should be relatively solid. The good looks to outweigh the bad, so that's a good sign. And who knows, maybe Jeff Hardy and the Dudleys will come out and put on the match of their lives tonight, completely shoving my pessimism about their match back down my throat. I'd take it, anything to freshen things up a little.
until next time, i remain