Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Handicapping the Money in the Bank Ladder Match

Handicapping the Money in the Bank Ladder Match

By ekedolphin


            As per usual, the card for the Money in the Bank pay-per-view—sorry, “special event”—is shaping up to be solid from top to bottom.  I’m certain everyone will be glued to their computer monitors on June 29.

            With the field of seven participants in the ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight Title having been set, it comes time to make predictions as to whom will walk away with the championship.

            This year’s competitors are John Cena, Randy Orton, current United States Champion Sheamus, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Alberto Del Rio, and Roman Reigns.

            Because it’s impossible to know for certain when Brock Lesnar will return, we must surmise it.  It makes the most sense for him to return at SummerSlam on August 17, since that’s the next pay-per-view in the “Big Five” of SummerSlam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, WrestleMania and Money in the Bank.  (I know it’s traditionally a Big Four, but I think MITB has earned that distinction).  Survivor Series isn’t until November, and by then it would have been a full seven months since MY CLIENT, BROCK LESNAR, CONQUERED THE UNDERTAKER’S UNDEFEATED STREAK AT WRESTLEMANIA.

            Seven months is a little too long to keep someone like Brock out.  Therefore, I’m proceeding under the assumption that Brock will return in August at SummerSlam, and that he’ll be granted a title match, commiserate with his accomplishment of ending The Streak.

            Therefore, it seems logical that the champion going into SummerSlam will be a face.  The in-between PPV, Battleground on July 20, seems a rather minor venue for a World Title change to take place.  (I know there was a WWE Championship won at last year’s Battleground, but that was to decide a vacancy, after all.)  Therefore, I predict that the ladder match will be won by a face, who will retain at Battleground and face Lesnar at SummerSlam.

            This logic would seem to eliminate four competitors from winning the ladder match—Orton, Cesaro, Del Rio, and – sadly – Wyatt.  (I, for one, would love to see Wyatt win the WWE championship someday, just as long as someone tells him he doesn’t have to sing that bloody song during every promo.)

            This leaves the three faces as the most legitimate contenders for the title victory—Cena, Sheamus, and Reigns.  Sheamus, though he has world championship experience, doesn’t seem like a marquee face to me.  Though Sheamus v. Lesnar would be a unique, unexpected, vicious, and fun match, it doesn’t scream “SummerSlam” main event, you know?

            I’d love to see Roman Reigns win the championship, but I think The Authority will find some way to screw him out of it.  Besides, Reigns is important enough to WWE’s future that his first title win should happen at a WrestleMania or a SummerSlam.

            This leaves, alas, John Cena as my likeliest pick to win the ladder match.  Shocking, I know.  Try to look forward to the endgame—with any luck, Lesnar creams Cena at SummerSlam.

            However, a lot of this depends on how quickly Daniel Bryan can get back into action.  If he can make it back by Battleground, WWE might have a heel go over at Money in the Bank, and have him be a transitional champion, dropping the belts to Bryan at Battleground and setting up a dream match—Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar—at SummerSlam, as many people are predicting.

            Ultimately, the winner of the ladder match will likely be a reflection of Bryan’s short-term availability.  If Bryan vs. Lesnar is still likely, I think Bray Wyatt then becomes the obvious choice to win the ladder match.  Wyatt wouldn’t be hurt by a one-month title reign the same way Reigns might be hurt by a two-month one.  Besides, Wyatt got the best of Bryan in their fantastic Royal Rumble match, after which The Wyatts moved on to The Shield and ultimately to John Cena.  Bryan and Wyatt have some unfinished business, and what better way to gain retribution than by defeating Wyatt to recapture the gold?


The RAW Deal, 6/16/14

The RAW Deal, 6/16/14

By ekedolphin

            It is my considered opinion that the main event of any wrestling program should be one of the most compelling matches on the card—if not the most compelling.

            Great matches share common features.  They contain great workers, or at least a group of workers that mesh well together.  They have a built-up history—there has to be a convincing reason why these workers are fighting.  And there has to be some doubt about the outcome—at least, a little.

            Last Monday night’s RAW main event, a stretcher match between John Cena and Kane to determine the last entrant to the ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank on June 29, came up short in every way.

            Cena and Kane plodded their way through the Same Ol’, Same Ol’, with Cena showing signs of packing it in.  It was the fourth-best match on the card, behind the battle royal, Rollins/Ziggler and Ambrose/Barrett, in no particular order.  Neither Cena nor Kane gave their best effort.  The match was poorly choreographed, and the run-in by Orton and Rollins (and subsequent save by Ambrose) petered out too quickly.  Making things worse, Cena—who has won Last Man Standing matches using duct tape and gigantic equipment containers—didn’t even bother to come up with an innovative ending to the match.  Say, rolling an empty stretcher across the finish line, and simply dropping Kane onto it with a drop toe-hold or something.

            At no time was I convinced that Cena was in any danger of losing the match, and that’s perhaps due as much to Kane’s reputation as a glorified jobber to the stars as to Cena’s record of being nearly unbeatable.  Man of steel, demon of cardboard.

            And now, a word about Heath Slater.

            If you’re going to give Heath Slater a face turn now that 3MB is out of the picture, you could at least let him last longer than 15 seconds before being beaten by Rusev.  This could have been a breakout moment for Slater.  A frantic five-minute sequence in which he threw everything but the kitchen sink at Rusev, but to no avail, would have made both men look tremendous—Slater, because he’s trying as hard as he can despite being obviously overmatched, and Rusev, standing there, absorbing the blows, and beating Slater anyway when the One Man Rock Band can’t quite dodge one kick fast enough.

            This could have cemented Slater in the fans’ eyes as a great WWE underdog face, akin to Rey Mysterio or Zack Ryder.  I would have even considered going a step further by having Slater actually win the match.  Imagine how the ensuing vicious retaliatory beatdown would have rallied the fans into Slater’s corner.  Hell—they might even have rooted for the recently-released Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal to make the save!

            Why is it so difficult for WWE’s creative team to come up with these kinds of things when their creative team is being paid to do so?!  I mean, I dug the battle royal, and the finale between Roman Reigns and Rusev was awesome to watch.  But Reigns didn’t need the rub from eliminating Rusev.  Besides, how much more terrifying would Rusev have been in that battle royal if he were on the warpath, apoplectically juggernauting through everyone immediately following his first loss?  After all, Rusev is scary enough when he’s an ice-cold Bulgarian brute.  How much more horrifying would he have been if he’d actually been angry?

            WWE must take the opportunity to build new babyfaces when the moment is right.  Only two weeks earlier, Rusev had been awarded a star medal reminiscent of the Soviet era, and stood on a platform while the Russian flag was unfurled behind him and the national anthem played.  This guy seriously needs to be taken down a few pegs.  Why not establish a new fan-favorite at the same time, instead of building up a monster simply to feed him to an established superstar like Roman Reigns?

            …Dang, you know it’ll end up being Cena, Sheamus or Daniel Bryan who hand this guy his first singles loss.