Monday, April 30, 2007

Grade Blacklash

Strong Backlash Provides Hope for the Future

By all accounts in watching last night's WWE Backlash, I can say that this PPV was one of the best "B" PPV's the company has put on in about 6-7 years. There seemed to be a different tone last night, where wrestling was the focus, and the usual stupid backstage stuff or silly things that go on in the ring really took a back seat to what the company should be focusing more on, which is wrestling and good storylines. The company has a solid couple of main event stories going on right now, and last night they did a great job in keeping them going and developing them.

The first and biggest story of the night was the ongoing saga of John Cena vs Shawn Michaels. These two were two of the four men in the fatal four way match for the WWE Title along with Edge and Randy Orton. Many felt, including myself, that Cena would win, and that Orton would be the man to get pinned, almost to punish him for the high school trashing of a hotel room on the company's recent tour of Europe. While that happened, how it happened and the action in between made that seem like an afterthought. The action in ring for the main event was top notch, and the final ending with Cena getting superkicked by HBK, only to then have him fall on Orton for the pin was really well done. Whoever was the agent for the match and the ending should get a solid round of applause, as it was very, very good. All four men put forth a great deal of effort, and there really were not many lulls to this solid main event.

The ending and in ring action also leaves a lot of doors open. Shawn of course now should get his WrestleMania title rematch with Cena, and I can see this at Judgement Day, or possibly One Night Stand. You also now have the options of a few other matches that have some push behind them from last night, like Cena vs Orton, Edge vs Orton, and HBK vs either Orton or Edge. I expect to see all these four go back and forth, leading to a pair of PPV matches for either Judgement Day or ONS, with it being Cena vs HBK for the title, and Edge vs Orton. A great showing by all four that really showed what the WWE can do when it puts wrestling at the forefront of a main event.

As for the Last Man Standing Match with Undertaker and Batista, I once again think that while Taker is the focus of SmackDown and the company, longterm my hopes of Batista turning back around and being at the point he was two years ago have returned. I thought he was strong again, and while there was a few points in this match where things got a little slow, I think that overall the match lived up to its hype and they went in the right direction with the double 10-count finish. I kind of saw this coming earlier in the week, and even mentioned it in the preview that I could see that and then a 3rd match possibly at Judgement Day in a Hell in a Cell, or just a regular cage match. After last night, there is no doubt that is where they are headed. The final spear off the stage was a bit over the top, but it was a pretty cool visual that did its job.

The ECW 3-on-1 that concluded with Vince McMahon pinning Bobby Lashley for the belt basically did nothing more than make my worst fears come true. That fear of course is more McMahon on TV, and that is what we are going to get for sometime now. This was by far the weakest of the main events, but that was to be expected. I think I could also suggest that we need to get Lashley off TV for a few weeks to give his character, which has been pushed to the upmost, a bit of a break. That won't happen either, but I guess one could hope. Lashley will get the belt back within a few weeks, so if we can just bear this latest round of McMahon ego, we'll see what happens. The most interesting part of the match that bears watching is the facials that Umaga made when he was getting slapped for tags from McMahon. Its almost as if they are teasing a face turn for him, which would be really wild.

The other pleasant thing about this show was that they did a very good job giving time to the three undercard matches. I can't remember a WWE PPV recently with just six matches, but this one was just that, and it really kept my interest. The opener with the Hardy's vs Cade and Murdoch was a good match and strong open, with a good conclusion with Jeff giving Murdoch the swanton bomb and then Matt getting the pin. I still like the Hardy's with the belts.
Melina vs Mickie James should have been the women's match at Wrestlemania, as these two put on a solid match that we have not seen from the women's division for sometime. While they both have beauty, there is no doubt that these two have worked hard to get better in the ring. The only downer was the ending, which was about as plain as any women's match. Here's hoping they do what they can to keep these two going at it.

The MVP vs Chris Benoit match was also very good, and very much like the strong match they had at Mania. They are really mixing it up with it looking like at each and every turn MVP will get the belt, yet he keeps coming up short. The only thing I can think of is either they are waiting to do the switch on SmackDown, or they have someone else in line for the strap. Sure seems to me like its MVP's time though.

All in all, this was about a good a PPV as you are going to see for following up Mania, and this could have been the best Backlash since the HHH-Rock headlined show back in 2000, that saw a title switch with Steve Austin helping the Rock win the title.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

SmackDown 4/27

SmackDown was a pretty entertaining show on Friday night that did what it had to do to lead to its two matches on Sunday's Backlash PPV from Atlanta. The main event was a tag-team no-DQ match with Undertaker and Batista teaming, and actually playing nice, against Kennedy and Finley. It was a pretty nice long match (not quite Cena vs Michales), but long and effective enough, and in the end, Batista got the pin with a spinebuster on Finley. It came of course after Taker had cleaned house and chokeslammed them both, then Batista snuck in for the pin.

Both men then ran some smack to lead to Sunday's "Last Man Standing" match, which was well done as well. I always say that them allowing Taker to talk just a bit is a really effective way to get him over, and that is what they did here. I think their match on Sunday could be really good, it just depends if they can get up for it like they did at Mania. The other Backlash match that was previewed was Chris Benoit vs MVP, which was again a good match, but a lame ending as MVP took the countout as he played it like why bother since he has a title match on Sunday. I think it is safe the way they are building MVP that he gets the win on Sunday for the title.

The rest of the show was pretty good, with a decent singles match with Brian Kendrick and Deuce, which was won after a little outside interference from Domino and Cherry. JBL predicts a long title run for the Deuce and Domino team, but for some reason, I think they trade back and forth with London and Kendrick a few times. They had a ugly womens match with Jillian Hall and Michelle McCool, which Jilliam won after a facebuster. The most interesting match of the night was the opener, which saw Kane and Boogeyman team up against Regal and Taylor. Maybe this can actually be a team (Kane and Boogeyman) that can do something, as they seemed to get along well, and it was a fun match to watch.

So this was a decent show that did keep my interest for two hours. Now we have wrapped up the 5 hours of TV for the week, and all we can do is sit and wait for Backlash tomorrow night.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Backlash Preview

WWE will roll out its annual PPV after WrestleMania this Sunday, as the company presents Backlash from Atlanta, GA. While this PPV cannot possibly match the card they put on in front of over 80,000 earlier this month in Detroit, it does have some interesting matches and some decent storylines leading in.

First off, its the first PPV of the new era of the company finally coming out and stating that all three brands will for now on be a part of every PPV. No more "brand" PPV's, and trust me when I say that is a very good thing. The one interesting part of this PPV is as of Friday morning they have only announced six matches, meaning there is a chance we could add 1-2 more matches before Sunday. Here are some thoughts on the matches we do know about:

Fatal 4 Way for WWE Title - John Cena vs Shawn Michales vs Randy Orton vs Edge: This match was somewhat in doubt after the company sent Orton home last week after he trashed a hotel room on the tour of Europe. Now it appears that the match is on, and you can bet that Orton is going to be the fall guy for this one. Cena vs Michaels on RAW this past week may have been the best match on the show in easily 5-7 years. Edge will add a lot to this match if he's back to 100 percent, which he should be. As for Orton, who knows what his future holds. The end should be Cena getting a clean pin over Orton, and maybe we can get that long awaited title match rematch of Mania with Cena and Michaels at Judgement Day.

ECW Title Match - Bobby Lashley vs Umaga, Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon: Lashley wins this, no doubt, and I continue to hope that this will end the McMahon vs Lashley feud. Umaga and Lashley will dominate the action, while Vince stays on the sideline and Shane gets involved here and there. Look for Shane or Vince to take the fall, and again, hopefully it will end this feud.

World Heavyweight Title Match - Last Man Standing: Undertaker vs Batista: This was a good match at Mania, and this could steal the show if they do things right. I think Batista's stock went up a bit with the Mania match, and if he can stay motivated, I think that they may give him another run down the road. As for Taker, he is in for a long title run according to what I have heard, so he does get a win here, or at worst, they do a draw and we get a third match with maybe a Hell in a Cell or cage with these two at Judgement Day.

World Tag Team Title Match: Hardys vs Cade and Murdoch: I actually think this might be a solid match, as Cade and Murdoch have been put over strong as of late in this mini-push. Nevertheless the Hardys are a better team today and tomorrow, so they will get over here with a clean win to keep the titles. At least the titles seem to mean something again.

US Title Match: Chris Benoit vs MVP: Time for MVP to go over and get the strap here in my opinion. These two have had some good back and forth the last few weeks, and I think they want to push MVP, so they let him get a cheap win to win the belt. As for Benoit, I still think there is a chance we see him on RAW this summer.

Women's Title Match: Melina vs Mickie James: This could be the spot to get the belt on Mickie, who by far is now the best actual womens wrestler on the roster. This is a time where they really need to start getting actual women wrestlers back on the roster, as with losing Trish and Lita last year really killed the division. As for Melina, she still will be a part of the division, but I think this is a spot to give the belt back on James.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Time For Mr.McMahon Character to Take a Break

I am not sure how other wrestling fans feel about this - but I for one am ready to see Vince McMahon's on-screen character to take a nice long hiatus. Yes, the character - Mr.McMahon, has been on TV and in the WWE spotllight for way too long, and I for one hope that Sunday's showdown with Bobby Lashley in a 3-on-1 match will be the last we see of Vince on the tube for a few months. The character has always been much more effective in spurts, and for now, I think that a lot of people simply moan when they hear the "No Chance in Hell" theme and see Vince doing that ridiculous walk down the ramp to the ring.

If you go back over a year ago, we have had Vince pretty much on TV for most of that time. First it was the feud with Shawn Michales that led to a rather memorable match at WrestleMania 22 in Chicago. Then we had the summer feud with DX that resulted in a Hell in a Cell match at Summerslam in Boston. Then it was a little break for awhile, but then it was right back on TV, fighting with John Cena before starting this latest feud with Donald Trump that led directly to this current back and forth with ECW Champ Bobby Lashley. Vince has always had the opinion of himself as a quality heel that faces can get over on, and I think that Lashley has done that in this case. But too much Vince is for sure not a good thing, and I seriously think we are getting to that point.

Let's use Sunday's PPV match with Lashley as a fitting climax to the feud, and for the now bald Vince it would be a perfect time to allow the ECW Champ to move on to another heel, possibly Snitsky, instead of keeping it going with a man 60+ years old. The Trump thing was cool for what it was worth, and Vince bald is also a rather amusing storyline, but enough is enough. What scares me is the impending two feuds that I have heard may happen that both involve a heavy dose of Mr.McMahon - one being vs Rey Mystero upon his return to the ring, and the other possibly being against Mick Foley. Let's hope we at least get a month away from Vince before we are yet saddled with another Vince vs Face feud.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ECW 4/24

The main storyline that continued on ECW on Tuesday night had to do with C.M. Punk and his realtionship with the New Breed, which now seems null and void following an 8-man tag match. Punk was at ringside as the Breed took on the Originals, and Elijah Burke and RVD were the last two in the match. With that, Punk cost Burke the match, and then basically told him off, all of which will lead him to leaving the New Breed and going back out on his own.

This will create what should be an interesting feud with Burke and Punk, which should last for awhile and have at least on PPV match between the two. While I think they could have dragged the story of Punk turning back out a few more weeks, it was obvious from last week that he would not last with the New Breed very long.

The storyline with Punk and the New Breed has been very good so far, and was the best the new ECW had to offer since coming on the air last year. Now the test will be if they can keep the interest going for awhile. Punk really does seem to be the best that the new ECW has to offer, and his popularity with the crowd is something that cannot be overlooked. Next to RVD, Punk is the most popular wrestler on the roster.

As far as the rest of the show, we started with a match between Umaga and Bobby Lashley, which ended with a lame DQ that saw Armando interfere, then get the snot beat out of him by Lashley, which ended with him being thrown out of the ring hard style by Lashley. Vince McMahon was near the ring for the beating, which was effective and a solid build towards the 3-on-1 match with Lashley vs the McMahons and Umaga for Sunday at Backlash.

I hope for one that the match at the PPV does end this feud, as I think that Lashley does need to move on to a better challenge for the ECW title. My fear is that they will keep this thing with Lashley vs McMahon going, which would lead us to another match at Judgement Day. I just hope they don't try and sell us a one-on-one match with Lashley vs Vince, as that would be a serious waste of time.

The other match on the card was Snitsky vs Balls Mahoney, which was not much more than a squash with big Gene taking home a win over Balls. All in all, with the Punk back and forth with the New Breed, and the Lashley vs McMahon, Umaga build, this was a solid show that kept my interest for 60+ minutes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

RAW 4/23

WWE hit what I thought was a grand slam with their Monday Night RAW in London, England with the 45+ minute match with Shawn Michaels defeating John Cena in a match that may have been even better than their very good match at WrestleMania 23. The match, built on the fact that Michaels was skied out by Cena, really took on a stronger and stronger feel as they just kept going at it. I really felt at about the 40 minute mark they were going to go to a draw, but then Michaels took the match with the superkick for the clean pin.

All this sets up now is a great story line for what they are going to do Sunday at the PPV in the fatal-four way. As of this moment, decisions are being made on what to do with Randy Orton, as there is a blurb on that states that action has been taken against Orton for “unprofessional conduct.” Basically that could mean as something as a simple fine, or he could outright be suspended or released. I doubt a release will come of this, but I can see a suspension after Sunday, meaning you can bet he’d be the fall guy for the 4-way.

As for the rest of RAW, the other semi-important development was Carlito taking a turn towards heel, as he yelled at Ric Flair after he was slammed around and beaten by Khali. Flair came out to check on Carlito, and got screamed at for his troubles. You can almost for sure book these two for the May PPV – Judgement Day in St.Louis.

The other matches on the show included Vince and Shane McMahon, and Umaga beating some no-name independent guy names Robbie Brookside. It was a just a warmup for Sunday’s PPV match with Bobby Lashley. Melina beat Maria in a women’s match, and to further set up the tag title match, Trevor Murdoch beat Matt Hardy.

All in all, this show was about the main event, which was really over with the fans, and was a lot of fun. Plus it was something different, and really showed that they should consider Michaels vs Cena III for a PPV main event down the road.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Big Stories to Highlight Last RAW Before Backlash

It's a big night for the WWE as tonight is the final show for RAW before Sunday's Backlash PPV in Atlanta. It also will have the rematch from WrestleMania 23 with Shawn Michaels vs John Cena for the WWE Title. Of course that will end likely with some sort of no-decision, as I cannot see Michaels winning, and I don't think that Cena will get another clean win over him.

The big two stories of tonight will be what do they do with Randy Orton, now that he has been sent home from the tour for reportedly "trashing" a hotel room. Orton, according to various sites, has not been released by WWE, but this latest incident really throws a monkey wrench into the plans for Sunday. They could do an injury angle and just take him out of the main event all together, or they could speak in some regard of what he did, and because of it remove him from the match. Whatever they do, it will be interesting to see what direction they move in with him.

The other issue that I think should be of interest is the undercard to the PPV Sunday. We know that they are having Batista vs Taker for the World title in a Last Man Standing match, a WWE Women's title match with Mickie James and Melina, Tag title match with Hardys and Cade and Murdoch, and the ECW Title match Lashley vs Vince McMahon, Umaga, and Shane McMahon. That is five matches, meaning that we should have 2-3 more matches added. Will those be strictly RAW matches? Or will we see other brands cross over for those as well? That decision on each and every PPV will have to be made.

On a final note, reports say that Super Crazy, who has been on TV quite a bit as of late, possibly tore his MCL in a show Sunday in Oberhausen, Germany. We'll give you more on this as we get it.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

SmackDown 4/20

I was not too impressed with the latest edition of SmackDown, shown last night on TV which was taped this past week from Italy. The show was built around two things, which was the team of London and Kendrick losing their tag titles to the underwhelming team of Deuce & Domino, and two beat downs of the show's biggest stars - Taker and Batista, by Kennedy and Finely. I have issues with both moves, and thought they dropped the ball with this show all the way around.

First the tag title switch. I think that the WWE has seen over the past two months that both Deuce & Domino are simply not ready to go out week after week and be top wrestlers. They had already lost a ton of matches to London and Kendrick, and I think the whole thing with the champs being on this roll of having the belts for close to a year was pretty cool. They did a great job with the belts, and I understand the companys thinking of having them go from being the hunted to the hunters, but losing the belts to Deuce & Domino to me was the wrong thing to do. We'll now see a long series of matches with these four, but I for one really hope they don't break up London and Kendrick, a move they teased for a portion for 2006.

The other big story line, with both Batista and Taker taking seperate beat downs in their matches, I think really puts a damper on the whole title match that Batista and Taker are set for at Backlash. They are having a "last man standing" match at the PPV, and here on regular TV they are looking weak against Kennedy and Finley. I understand them building up the two heels, but they should have not done it against the two biggest stars on the show, one of which is the champion.

The rest of the show was blah at best. I guess Michelle McCool is now a face, as she beat down Jullian Hall, who last week attacked Ashley. I guess we'll see a match between these two shortly, but I hope they don't waste it on PPV, as that is one match I can see myself fast forwarding through. The Hardys & Chris Benoit vs. Chavo Guerrero, Gregory Helms & MVP was the best match on the show, and despite the faces winning, I still think we are going to see a US Title switch soon.

William Regal & Dave Taylor vs. Kane was a waste, and it just was a filler of time on a show that really didn't do it for me. I hope they refocus since we have this big match with Taker and Batista on the PPV next week.

Orton Sent Home From Europe

In some distrubing news on the WWE's current tour of Eurpoe, it is being reported that main event star Randy Orton has been sent home. At first, Orton was reported being sick with the stomach flu, but now websites are reporting that Orton was sent home for trashing a hotel room.

This is not the first incident with Orton, who was suspended in the past for, among other things, smoking pot backstage, and also being disrespectful to the WWE Diva's. Orton had admitted his mistakes in the past, and seemed to be on the right track, and has been in many WWE main events over the past months.

Orton's attitude has always been one of arrogant, and its about time the company did something about him with a long-term suspension without pay. No doubt that being sent home from Eupore is a big deal, big enough that he should be taken off the main event for Backlash next weekend in Atlanta.

Of course as more word breaks on this story, we'll have it covered right here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Punk Storyline a Homerun for ECW

Finally, after close to one year of being on the air, ECW has a storyline that is worth watching. No, I am not talking about the non-stop back and forth between Vince McMahon and champion Bobby Lashley that hopefully will end next weekend at Backlash, but I am talking about this solid piece of work they are doing with a guy who has deserved a push for sometime - C.M. Punk.

If you don't watch ECW, or have missed the storyline, it breaks down like this - Punk gets courted by both the ECW Originals and the New Breed for several weeks. In a turn of events, he chooses the New Breed at the end of last weeks show, shunning the fans and the Originals. Then this week in another turn, he doesn't actually "turn" on the New Breed, but does enough to make you think that once again Punk is a face and will join the Originals soon enough.
It's a storyline that gives some depth to the Punk character, one that I have been pushing for to get a shot to move to SmackDown for sometime. C.M. has the ability to be a big time star, and now that it looks as if he is out of the WWE doghouse that he was in for awhile, I love the direction that he is going with his character and future.

Look for Punk to keep up the back and forth with his new "friends," and after he cost New Breed leader Elijah Burke his match this past week with RVD, next week the New Breed will demand for Punk to come out and say he's sorry, something that I think he will do, but not without a bit of pushing on the part of the New Breed. Then as tensions mount, eventually Punk breaks away from the Breed, and goes on to feud with Burke in a series of matches, one of which should get some consideration for a future PPV.

There has not been much in the past year that you can look at in ECW and say "wow, that's good," but I think this recent storyline is among the first. Now they do have to be a bit patient with it and let it have a nice slow build, much like what they are doing with Carlito and Ric Flair on RAW. Don't rush it, let it have its moments, and when the time is right, give the crowd what it finally has been waiting for. That's the way to make a storyline memorable.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

RAW 4/16

Monday night's edition of RAW from Milan, Italy was a show in which the crowd reactions really made up for what otherwise was an okay edition of the show. For some odd reason, people in Italy seem to not like John Cena all that much, as he did not get over during his handicapped win over Edge and Randy Orton. Possibly the bigger story is we will have a WrestleMania 23 rematch next Monday night when Shawn Michaels takes on Cena in London, England for the WWE title.

The other big angle on the show was the open, which saw Vince McMahon and his good pal Umaga challenge a "fan" from the large crowd in Milan. That "fan" ended up being OWV's Boris Alexiev, who came in, got some offense on Umaga, and then after being beat on was helped out by Bobby Lashley, who came in after it was announced by McMahon that he wasen't going to be there. Lashley, after hitting Umaga with a chair, put the "fan," who was announced as Santino Morella, on top of the IC champ for the three-count. Morella was announced as the new IC Champ, which has its drawbacks on so many levels I don't know where to start.

Of course you knew the moment that Alexiev walked into the ring he was a wrestler, gee, maybe the ultra-large back tattoo gave it away, or the fact he knew what he was doing 3 seconds into their "match." I thought the whole angle seemed really weak, and the fact they put the belt on someone that no one knows, means that any value the IC belt had now goes down the toilet. Plus the fact that he needed help to beat Umaga means that this guy is not going to be able to get over, and the minute that he does start wrestling for real, its going to look like he's been a wrestler from day one. Kind of takes us back to the days of Hillbilly Jim coming in from the crowd back in the 1980's.

There were four other matches on the night along with the main event, which included Carlito and Ric Flair again losing, this time to the World's Greatest Tag Team. They are doing an angle where Carlito suffers losses, then gets mad at Torrie and Flair, which will eventually lead to him going heel and pushing that feud into high gear. Johnny Nitro beat Eugene in a quick squash that had no real heat behind it.

Chris Masters and Super Crazy had a decent match, with Masters getting over with a pinfall win. The other match was a singles match with Lance Cade going over on Jeff Hardy to push their upcoming tag title match at Backlash. The story here is to get the heel over so it makes you think that they have a shot at the PPV, which they really don't.

Then the main event, which saw Cena get booed, but then get the win when Michaels came in after the ref was knocked out, went for sweet chin music, and hit Edge instead. Cena then FU'ed Michaels, and pinned Edge. A decent ending that should set up next weeks match, and the Backlash main event. You can already see major interference next week for the main event, which will taint any finish.

All in all, kind of a bummer show considering the crowd they had watching live. I am interested to see the reaction that is given to ECW and SmackDown tonight. ECW has my interest after last weeks heel turn from C.M. Punk. How the crowd sees it is a different story.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Quick Look at Backlash

WWE Backlash will take place 19 days from today at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA. The card will be a mix of all three brands, meaning that we'll see RAW, SmackDown and ECW on the card. That fact was finally alluded to last night on RAW by JR and Jerry Lawler. While this card is for sure not shaping up to be one that challenged WrestleMania, it so far has the makings of not a bad card.

Right now we have officially three matches announced:

WWE Championship Four Way Match
John Cena vs. Edge vs. Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels

ECW World Championship 3-on-1 Handicap Match Bobby Lashley vs. Mr. McMahon, Shane McMahon & Umaga

World Tag Team Championship Match
The Hardys vs. Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch

I like the main event right off the bat, as both Edge and Orton deserve a shot to shine once again in a main event on a PPV, and I know that while they are not supposed to be "together," they could easily decide to "team up" for this match and take it out on Cena and Michaels. I can tell you that I don't think there is anyway that Cena loses here, but it does have the makings of what could be a good match.

The ECW match to me looks like a stinker. Of course with Shane in the match, you can bet there will probably be some high spot where he either takes a big chance, or takes a big bump. Shane is one of those guys that comes in once or twice a year, and makes a match, and while we've already seen Lashley vs Umaga, the dynamics with Shane and Vince in there could make it passable.

As for the tag match, it looks to me like a simple win for the Hardy's, and should make them shine as the champs. As stated on the RAW review, I think that the Hardy's with the belts is a great fit, and should give the titles some meaning.

So there will likely be 4-5 more matches announced, with one being a SmackDown title match with Batista and Undertaker. Should be an interesting card, and with the four way and a SmackDown title match, should be a decent buy.

RAW 4/10

The string of what I thought was very good RAW's ended in Bridgeport last night, as the show took its first step backwords in quite some time. The scheduled main event you could see coming from 100 miles away, as they did a "Hair vs Title" match with Bobby Lashley putting up the ECW title vs Shane McMahon, who put his locks on the line. You knew from the word go that the match would end with Umaga, and likely Vince, who did show up, giving Lashley a beat down, and that is how it ended. The other main event was a #1 contenders match with Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton, that was a solid match but ended in a poor non-finish with both men being pinned.

The result of that non-finish is that they are going with a 4-way for the title at Backlash, with John Cena putting the WWE title on the line vs Orton, Michaels, and Edge. The odd part about the announcement was that it was made by a Make-A-Wish kid who Mick Foley had with him on the show. It was weird that at first Coach made the announcement, then Foley brought out the kid, who was made the acting GM for the night. Not well recieved by the crowd.

They did advance the feud that will soon take place with Ric Flair and Carlito, as they lost a tag title shot at the Hardy's at the PPV to Cade and Murdoch. At the end of the bout, Carlito seemed upset with Flair, and walked away mad. They are taking their time with this eventual feud, but I would not be shocked if we see that match in one of the next two PPV's.

Other than that, we had a womens tag, which was okay, and Hardy's vs the World's Greatest Tag Team, which was an okay match. I like the belts on the Hardy's, as the fans are very into them having the titles, and it makes them seem important again, which they have not been with Cena and Michaels having them, or Edge and Orton for that matter.

Like I said, this was a step backwords. The last moments saw Lashley bloody, and Vince announcing a stupid 1-on-3 for Backlash for the ECW title, with Lashley vs Umaga, Shane and Vince McMahon. While Umaga and Lashley will carry the match, just having Shane and Vince in there will be distraction enough. Let's hope next week from Italy will be better than this show.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

SmackDown 4/06

Friday night's SmackDown from Fort Wayne, IN was a strong finish to the week for WWE, and I tought that the ending angle with Taker and Basitsa was a great way to end the show. Of course the last scene was Booker getting tombstoned on the announcer table, but that angle will be a way to get him off TV for two months, as he is taking time off for a knee injury. It also puts him in a face position for when he returns. I thought the lure of not having Taker talk was cool as well, as it really keeps that mystique going.

I also think that they are keeping the shows strong with using guys from other shows once in awhile, in this case it was Jeff Hardy, who had a strong opening match with Kennedy. They did the right thing with having Kennedy go over clean, as he won with a DDT after Hardy missed the swanton bomb. The match also keeps the momentum going for Kennedy, who won the big money in the bank match on Sunday at Mania.

They also kept the feud going with MVP and Chris Benoit, as Benoit lost a match to the Miz when he went for the head butt off the top rope (I guess Chris' new finisher), and MVP, who was hiding by the ring apron, pulled Miz out of the way. It was an effective way for Benoit to lose, not lose any push, and give a push to Miz. We'll see how the MVP-Benoit thing keeps going, as I assume we'll see more of them in the ring in the future.

The Matt Hardy-Boooker match was strong as well, and they did a good job in making Booker look like a face after he lost, and then Sharmell slapped him for losing and not getting back at Hardy. Strong match, and a good way to set up Booker taking time off. I forsee Booker coming back, getting a big face push, and maybe a feud with a guy like Mark Henry, who they will be bringing back to TV in the next few weeks.

The tag match with London and Kendrick vs Gregory Helms and Chavo was okay, and I guess they did it to set up what is coming next week, with a match between the champs and Deuce and Dominio. I am not sure what they are going to do with the challengers next week, as they have already had title shots and not gotten the job done. As far as London and Kendrick, I have no issues at all with them keeping the belts, espically with the somewhat weak tag division right now on SmackDown.

Overall I tought this was a great week of TV for the company. The RAW to set up new angles and crown a new pair of tag champs was very good, ECW was okay, and SmackDown was strong as well. The company is back at it Monday night, and with a tour of Italy coming up, they need another good week of TV to keep the streak going.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

RAW 4/2

WWE RAW from Dayton the night after WrestleMania saw some new feuds start up, but more than that we finally saw John Cena and Shawn Michaels lose the belts, this to a team that I thought should have had them weeks ago - the Hardy's. The night began with John and Shawn trading verbal barbs, then Coachman came out and made a 10-team tage team battle royale, that Michaels and Cena won. But, then Coach made yet another battle royale, and this time in a move that really should heat up the feud, Michaels threw his partner Cena out, causing them to lose the belts. The Hardy's then went on to win the belts, in a strong move that should give some real pizzaz to the WWE tag ranks.

The rest of the show mostly concerned Mr.McMahon and new new bald look, and then after Bobby Lashley came out and snatched the hat off his head that showed the crowd his bald head, McMahon got so upset that he made what turned out to be handicapped match with Umaga and Estrada vs Lashley. In a lackluster main event, Lashley got the win, and therefore keeps the ECW title. The move to keep the heat on Vince and to continue to make Lashley the hero in this feud is not much of a shock, but again, they really have to be careful with how much they shove Lashley down our throats.

The only other matches on the show saw the team of Ric Flair and Carlito beat the World's Greatest tag team of Haas and Benjiman. It was a good match, and they seem to really want to push the team of Ric and Carlito. I can see a challenge to the Hardy's from these two in the near future. They also had what really ended up being a squash with Great Khali beating Super Crazy. The funny part of the night was the fact that both Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler struggled all night with their voices, and Ross was pretty much mute for the last 35 minutes of the show.

One feud they are going to go with on the women's side is Mickie vs Melina. This is a feud designed to give Melina some good matches, and by far right now Mickie is the best women's WRESTLER on the roster, so they might as well give her some shots to improve Melina's game.

The show was pretty good, next week we'll see Randy Orton vs Shawn Michaels in a #1 contender match, as Orton came in on a Shawn interview to declare that he (Shawn), had his chance, and now its time that he gets a shot at Cena. Same goes for Edge, who showed up to call out the champ as well. I see a fatal four-way coming with Orton, Edge, Michaels and Cena possibly at Backlash. We'll see. Otherwise, a good show to follow up on Mania, and we'll see if they keep it going next week.

With 23 Done - Who Could Main Event in WrestleMania 24?

Now that WrestleMania 23 is done and over, already you can start the countdown to March 30th, 2008 in Orlando when the WWE tries once again to outdo itself in the next mega-event: WrestleMania 24. Plenty of things can happen between now and next March, but one thing is almost assured, and that is whoever is in the main event for Orlando is likely already on the WWE roster. You usually never see a wrestler make his way though the company in one year, then go on to main event at Mania.

So with less than a year to go to the big event, here are some possible main eventers for the main event in Orlando. We'll exclude John Cena and Undertaker, and pretend for a moment that they are still champions at the time of Mania.

1. Triple H - With missing Mania this past year, you know that HHH will be on a mission to get back to Mania, and be in the main event. One can already see a possible rematch of WM 22 with John Cena, and maybe he finally gets over the hump and gets the belt back.

2. Edge - The Rated "R" Superstar has never main evented a Mania, and with the recent ovation he got in Detroit Sunday, I can see him getting a face push and possibly being in the main event as the good guy of the match. Of course with a scheduled program with HHH upon his reutrn, a face turn as of right now seems a bit far fetched, but you can never know.

3. Randy Orton - If Orton could ever get his head on straight enough and stay out of trouble, he is the perfect option for a long term deal with Cena. Remember it was for a time supposed to be he and Cena at Mania this past year. If Orton gets focused, a shot at Mania in 08 is not out of the cards.

4. Batista - Another guy who seems to have dropped a quite a bit in the past few months, but did have a solid match with Taker Sunday. If as a heel Batista is as big and bad as he was a few years back, here is another guy that may be able to take it to the next level and headline the big show in 08.

5. Mr.Kennedy - With the Money in the Bank match won Sunday, you can tell that Kennedy is in line for a huge push in 2007. He is another guy that people are starting to like though, and could find himself, despite what he said in the post match interview, embracing the fans on the way to a main event in Mania in 2008.

6. C.M. Punk - I know, a total longshot, but maybe just wishful thinking. You have to admit though, and Punk has been cheered about as hard as anyone as of late, and maybe if he can move to SmackDown at somepoint, he will start to get out of the doghouse and get some shots at being a top guy. This one would stun me, but you never know.

Cena Making WrestleMania His Own Personal Playground

WrestleMania is a wrestling event that has over the years made or broken careers. Look at the defining moments of the sport, and you can easily trace some of them back to Mania's of the years past. From Hulk Hogan to Stone Cold Steve Austin, the men that have made Mania their showcase have mostly gone on to have great wrestling careers. That is why right now you can say that current WWE Champion John Cena is on a roll that no other wrestler in the history of the sport has seen, and that his last four years at WrestleMania is a direct result of it.

Yes, trace it back, the statement that I am about to throw out cannot be denied - John Cena has had the best four years at WrestleMania over any other wrestler in the history of the event. Forget Hulk Hogan, Undertaker, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, or Bret Hart. Cena is the biggest name in the sport right now, and whether you love him, or hate him, that fact cannot be denied. Going back to WrestleMania 20, he has either won, or defended a major title in his first four showings at Mania. At WM 20, he beat the Big Show in the opener to take home the US Title. The following year in LA, he topped JBL in a underachieving match to win his first WWE Title. Then last year he won a match that just about no one thought he would win, making HHH submit to keep the WWE Title. Now just two days ago, he once again kept the gold, making Shawn Michaels submit to the same move he used on HHH a year ago, keeping the spinner belt alive.

Look back at history, and you will see why Cena is right now making his career each and every year he wrestles at Mania. Even the Undertaker, who has never lost at the event, has had bad matches against lackluster guys (Kevin Nash, Mark Henry, and King Kong Bundy come to mind). Hulk Hogan? Even going back to his run to start WrestleMania, he won a tag match with Mr.T in WM 1, then beat Bundy in a cage in two, slammed and pinned Andre in 3, but then had a double DQ with the Giant in 4. From that point on, he went 6-2. Not bad, but right now not on tap with Cena.

I'm not saying that Cean will never lose at Mania. I for one am already saying that maybe next year he's due to take a fall. A rematch with HHH in front of over 70,000 in Orlando would be a spot for Cena to give up the belt that he has had a stranglehold on for what seems to be the last two years. But, as his career continues towards what someday will be a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame, Cena right now owns Mania more than any other wrestler in the history of the sport - and that's a fact.

WrestleMania 23 - How Will it Compare?

WrestleMania 23 will go down in the history of the company as the highest grossing event that has ever been held. It broke a record for attendance at Ford Field, got huge mainstream attention for the whole McMahon-Trump saga, and will have a massive amount of PPV buys around the world. But now that all is said and done, and the mega-event is behind us, how will history treat this event. In 23 years of WrestleMania, where will this one sit? Was it the best ever? Far from it in my opinion, but giving credit to the company, I thought that Sunday's event was very good, and I think that it was a better event that over time will be looked at in a favorable light.

The one glaring thing that still stands out to me is the fact that they rolled out just eight matches, and that included the forgettable Kane-Khali match, and a women's throw-in between Ashley and Melina. In comparison, the crowd never really got into the ECW match, and the Chris Benoit vs MVP match, which actually turned into a much better match than I expected, was the type of match where you basically were thinking to yourself - "what's next?" Could the company have thrown in another match or two? For sure. But the decision to give Shawn Michaels and John Cena 28 minutes and the long Money in the Bank and 16 minute Batista vs Undertaker match really is what will be remembered about this card. Any match or matches they added after the eight they did would likely have been quickly forgotten.

I think that the company has slowly been moving in the direction of really focusing in on PPV's built around 1-2 matches, and in this case, Mania was built around four matches. The two title matches, Money in the Bank, and of course the Trump-McMahon (Lashley-Umaga) match. I think this trend goes back to about December, when they decided that the failed ECW PPV was going to be all about two matches, the Extreme Rules Elimination Chamber match, and the MNM vs Hardy's match. Look for that type of trend for the future as well, where PPV's are all about 1-2 matches, and everything else is more or less a throwaway.

Being at the event live, and then watching it on replay, I think that just about everyone got what they wanted from this card. While it seemed somewhat obvious that Undertaker and John Cena would leave Ford Field with belts, I do stand by my commentary on Sunday night in saying that both matches I thought were well done. I have waited a long time for Batista to step up, and I thought that Taker and he did have a solid match. Now the key will be in the series of rematches if they can keep that trend going. I knew all along that Cena-Michaels would be borderline great, and it was. No doubt that this match was better than last years Cena-HHH match. It just had a better flow to it, and you can credit Michaels for being, as always at Mania, at the top of his game.

So as the company moves forward, WrestleMania 23 should be credited as a landmark event that gave the company mainstream attention for the record crowd, as well as for the Trump-McMahon saga. As far as the actual in-ring wrestling - that will be something that will take time to see where it falls in the rank of WWE history.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Wrestlemania 23 Photo Gallery

Mania's Two Biggies Deliver the Goods

Well fans, the biggest wrestling show of the year is in the books, and being there live at Ford Field next to the ring for the Trump-McMahon saga as well as the Cena-Michaels, I can tell you that the crowd really made this card, and it seemed to me from the naked eye that the guys (and gals) worked really hard to make this the card of the year. If you read this site often, or have much over the last week or so, you know that I had my issues with the booking of this card. I thought they could have done more, and that they should have had at least 1-2 more matches. Oh well, that is over now, and I would have to say on the old 1-10 scale I give this show a solid 7.

Without going through each and every match, I want to at least spend some time on the two biggies, and then Monday I will do more of a breakdown of the other spots on the show. First, the Taker-Batista battle. I thought for what they made of it, it was a pretty solid match. I have been down on Batista for sometime, but I thought that Taker really took him to another level, and if this is the way Batista will be as a full flegged heel, I think it could work. I think that Taker was solid as well, and he did some moves (the leap on the floor was insane) that he saves only for the biggest of the big shows. I was not in the least surprised to see Taker win, though part of me thinks that if Batista is still the future, and I am not saying that he is, they could have really shocked the world by letting him win. Of course I also think hindsight will say that the company does not want a repeat of 17 years ago, when they threw the title belt on Ultimate Warrior after he beat Hulk Hogan, and then in the course of about a year, saw Warrior flame out faster than a lit match on a windy day. With that, Taker and Batista should continue to battle, and I hope that their matches are as good as this one was tonight.

As for the main event, again, not surprised with the outcome. I love the back and forth between Cena and Michaels, and I thought that the match was about a 8 of 10. Of course the crowd was about 60-40 in favor of Michaels, but for the most part, I thought much like last year Cena handled it well. Shawn was great, and John did a great job as well. He really worked this match well, and the heat down the stretch with the two came over really well with the crowd. What they do from here is anyones guess. They did the spot at the end (I was right there), where John tried to come up to Michaels, and he kind of glared him away if you will, meaning that there is some bad feelings between the two. I am interested to hear how Shawn acted when he was told that he was going to lose, and lose clean. Despite his loss, I think he stays strong with the loss, and if they want to do more with the two, the door is open.

I'll have a lot more Monday, but for now, those are my immediate thoughts as the show is now just a few hours over. I like most of what I saw, with the two down points being the Kane-Khali match and the ECW match, which I thought was really weak. Thanks for reading as always, and there will be plenty of more to talk about as things in the company get sorted out.

Final Mania News and Notes

All right wrestling fans, our day has arrived. It's WrestleMania Sunday, and the Let's Wrestle crew is here at the Courtyard by Marriott in Deerborn, Michigan. As we approach noon, we are planning to leave for Ford field about 2pm. Last night at the Hall was a great time, and Axxess was a little blah, but still a good time. With Mania just a few hours away, here are some things to look for tonight, as well as some things to keep in mind:

* Not a big shock, but look for John Cena and Batista to get booed out of Ford Field tonight. Last night at the Hall, everytime each guy was shown for whatever reason, there was major jeers for each one. Both guys looked to take it in stride, and unlike last year, you will see Cena get booed tonight, then get cheered tomorrow in Dayton. As for Batista, a heel turn is coming anway, so boos won't really matter tonight, as the heel turn should be complete within the next few weeks.

* SmackDown house shows upcoming have Batista vs Taker as the main event, so this feud will continue.

* A "Bald Billionaire" is being advertisited for ECW on Tuesday, and with Donald Trump not on the show, you know what that means about who is getting shaved tonight.

* Most of the fans at this hotel are here for Mania. There is a lot of talk about next year's Mania in Florida, and a lot of people are talking the talk about going. It will be the first Mania in the 24 years in Florida, so the crowd should be really strong in the Sunshine State in 2008.

* Money in the Bank will steal the show - that's my opinion. Kane and Khali is going to be short and ugly, MVP vs Benoit will be okay, and now I am leaning towards a MVP win. Ashley vs Melina will be okay with a lot from the outside Diva's. The Umaga vs Lashely match will be filled with weapons and high spots, as will Batista vs Taker. Cena vs Michaels will be very good, but will fall short of what they do with Money in the Bank.

2007 WWE Hall of Fame Shines in Detroit

I didn't have the biggest hopes in the world for Saturday night's WWE Hall of Fame ceremony at the Fox Theatre, and frankly was a little underwhelmed by the lineup that was being put into this years Hall. If you look at who was going in, you had a lot of non-WWE guys getting the nod. Sure, a guy like Dusty Rhodes was in WWE for sometime, and was in WrestleMania VI back in Toronto some years ago, but the bottom line is that a guy like Rhodes is not known for what he did in WWF (or WWE, whatever you call it), but he was known more for what took place in the glory days of NWA.

The Shiek - here was a guy that never really had any impact in WWE, but was more the guy that ran all over Big Time Wrestling for years. Even Jerry "The King" Lawler was not a true WWE guy, but got into the Hall based more on his years in Memphis. So on and so forth, that is one main reason I felt that this class lacked a little bit. Plus I still stand-by my thoughts that they should have paid some respect to WM III and put either or both Randy Savage or Ricky Steamboat in the Hall this year. What better way to give props to the mega 1987 event than to put in the two guys that had the best match on the card?

So I was pleasently surprised when Saturday night turned out to be a great time at the Fox Theatre. Each and every guy that got into the Hall gave what I thought was a great speech, and I think that if you get your hands on the event, either by watching it on, or when they bring it out on DVD with WM 23, I think you'll enjoy all that went on in the event. We were two rows away from the wrestlers, and most of them, even the mid-card guys or ECW guys, really seemed to appreciate what each man brought to the table, and despite being told to do so by a cue card, there was plenty of applause and standing ovations all night long.

The worst part of the night was by far hearing washed up actor William Shatner read two pages of how he beat up Lawler one night on RAW, and how he and King have quite a bit in common. The crowd quickly turned on Shatner, as well they should have. I glanced over at Balls Mahoney at one point during the speech, and even he was kind of shaking his head, as if to say "get this guy off the stage." On the other hand, Wade Boggs gave a great tribute to a guy that he actually was friends with - Curt Henning. It almost makes me mad that Henning allowed himself to get caught up in drugs, leaving behind four wonderful kids and a loving wife.

Dusty Rhodes' speech was the best of the night in my opinion, and it was great to see Mr.Fuji, now one month short of 71 years old, getting into the Hall. It's a sad reminder that even a guy like Fuji, who was one of the great heel managers of his time - gets old. All in all, I would have to say that the event was well done, and that it was a great night to get the fans ready for Mania. They will need a strong class in 2008 to sell out the Amway Arena in Orlando (hint, hint - Savage, Steamboat).

Who Goes Over - Old School or the Present?

As hours remain until Wrestlemania 23, much has been stated about who should be given the nod in both main events. Should the two legends, Shawn Michaels and Undertaker get the wins to further their legacy? Or should the two young lions, John Cena and Batista, get over, pushing their careers to another level? Of couse a case can be made that maybe one legend, and one younger star should get the victories, meaning that we have one new world champion, and one champion that will be successful in their title defense.

Many are now in the corner that the Undertaker should continue his undefeated streak tomorrow in Detroit, hereby getting the clean win and the Heavyweight title vs Batista. It seems like night and day when you look at where Batista was just two years ago, winning the belt in the main event of WrestleMania 21 over HHH, and now, a wrestler who is mostly a punch, kick guy that seems to get over on name alone. He is no longer the future of the company, and that fact will be made even more clear when he cleanly loses to Taker on Sunday. Already there are a series of rematches in place on SmackDown house show cards, meaning that Sunday's bout between the two will be the first of many that we will see. There are also talks of not only one, but at least two more major PPV matches with these two.

As for the RAW main event, and the last match on the show, I think we'll see the career of John Cena continue to go up as I think he'll walk away from Ford Field with a pinfall win over Michaels in what should be one of the matches of the year. Cena has been gaining momentum all year, and despite what some still think he lacks, I clearly think he is the biggest in ring name in the sport, and he has done everything I good champion should to earn the win here. As for Michaels, he is a Hall of Famer, and he should be honored that he has been in now four main events in WrestleMania.

So argue if you will, but I think as we leave Ford Field on Sunday night, you'll see both now and the past be served. I like the Taker to walk out with the World Heavyweight Title, and Cena to keep the WWE Title.

About me

  • I'm Matt Loede
  • From Cleveland OH
  • Matt has been involved in sports media for over ten years, with experience covering the NFL, NBA, and MLB for the past 13+ years.
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