Let Them Eat Raw

The news is all over every site already. WWE has announced that beginning with it’s 1000th episode of Monday Night Raw, airing on July 23rd, Monday Night Raw will permanently switch to a three hour format. Yes, Gilligan, a three hour format.

You’ve got to hand it to Vince McMahon. When demand for his show is slowly sinking, and ratings are mirroring an arythmic heart, he has found the solution: More is more! For all that 12-17 demographic whose attention they can’t hold with a two hour show, add in another hour. If there’s anything people love, it’s three hour television shows.

Facietiousness aside, this could end up being one of the best or one of the worst decisions WWE has made in recent years. Of course there is the argument that moving to three hours was one of the major factors that led to the downfall of WCW, but WCW seriously lacked the ability to support a three hour show and showed no backstage organization in preparation for it. Though we often hear about WWE changing plans the day of the show, it’s rare that Raw looks chaotic and confused like Nitro used to. Ultimately, three hours of Nitro was a drop in the bucket of what was a flooding disaster.

What good could come out of this, you might ask? Well, for one thing, maybe WWE can finally manifest Divas matches that last more than a minute on Raw. Doubtful, as they seem to care as much about the Diva division as I care about Hornswoggle. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Divas matches get an entire two minutes in the future! Wouldn’t that be something. Eight moves instead of four… seriously, though, giving more time to the divas is one thing on a long list of things they should be able to do.

In addition to increasing time for the women, perhaps we could get more wrestling over promos. These seems like a longshot, as there is a fear they’ll want to get people watching so we’ll get promo heavy moments at the beginning and end of each hour, as we typically do. Remember when wrestling shows used to open and close with wrestling matches? Wild idea.

More wrestling, more divas, what more could you want? More talent, perhaps. I’m not talking bringing back guys like Kevin Nash (sorry Kev,) but new, young, rising talent. Something fresh for the WWE. I wouldn’t be opposed to them bringing in some established guys from TNA either, though I consider that doubtful (outside of Matt Morgan, at the moment.)

Granting themselves another hour could give WWE the time and space to make good choices and build a better show. Unfortunately, their track record has shown that three hour Raws are usually total disasters where the first hour is essentially useless. This doesn’t mean it will be like that every week. Hopefully, they’ve got something better in mind.

An interesting thing to consider is the overall effect on the ratings. It seems likely that the first hour of the show will be the lowest, as it typically is during three hour Raws. That being the case, it’s possible that the low rating for hour one could drag down the overall rating for the whole show, which won’t look good for the WWE either.

Ultimately, I find it hard to wrap my head around this one. With attention faltering, ratings wavering and interest depleting, why make this move? Usually you supply a demand, you stock up when you’re selling out. You don’t fill your stock room with more and more of a product that less and less people are buying. Even Nitro went to three hours when they were commanding a massive audience, not when the people started turning away.

This is the same audience that swelled post-Wrestlemania with the entrance of Brock Lesnar, but returned to normal within a few weeks. WWE has the ability to pull those people back on occasions like this, they just can’t seem to keep them. So.. three hours then?

I’d like to see this succeed and I’d like to see a lot of amazing things come out of this. New talent, more matches, a better quality show and an increased probability of success in WWE’s future. Unfortunately, I’m not a look at the bright side type of person, especially when it pertains to WWE who have time and again show the prominent ability to take what is prophesied as great and turn it into total garbage.

So, it remains to be seen. In the end, it comes down to you, the fans, the people who are invested in this business and want to see it improve. Whether or not three hours of Raw keeps you wanting more, or pushes you away. At this point, the ratings remaining the same as they have been would be a success for an additional hour every week. If ratings begin to decrease, however, will WWE stick with it or pull the plug? Figuring that out is figuring out the mind of Vince McMahon and that takes much longer than three hours.

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Heartbroken: John Cena

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And I’m here to remind you Rocky of the mess you left when you went away
It’s not fair to deny me of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know…
‘Cause the joke that you laid on the bed that was me
And I’m not gonna fade as soon as you close your eyes, and you know it
And every time I scratch my nails down someone else’s back
I hope you feel it…well can you feel it?

Last night, as I watched Monday Night Raw with my laptop open to twitter, it finally dawned on me. All of this rage toward the Rock that John Cena has bottled up inside of him comes from a familiar place. A dark place. A black place that grows inside of you over time, threatening to consume everything that makes you who you are until you have no choice but to explode, let it out, scream to the sky and rain hell down upon whoever is in your path at that moment. It is a place so many of us have been, and will return to someday. It’s abandonment, it’s loss, it’s heartbreak. John Cena is… heartbroken.

I used to love that chant. It’s tough for me to even call him ‘The Rock’ anymore because I used to love the Rock just like you guys.. and then he morphed into Dwayne.” – John Cena.

This statement by John Cena rings true of so many statements which have been made in the aftermath of a breakup. It sounds a little like “I used to love you, but you’ve changed.” John Cena is clearly having difficulty with the fact that the Rock became a different person (although, more accurately, he was always Dwayne Johnson.. “The Rock” was a fictional character) and he’s struggling to come to terms with the nature of his reality. Things are different now, and despite all of the love that existed in the past, things can never be the same as they used to be.

He is a Champion with people. He has an entourage of his little goons. He has Brian, you saw his picture on the tonight show, the guy who writes all of his jokes…. he’s got a crackpot staff of rentacops to make sure nobody messes up that million dollar smile.” – John Cena.

Here, we see, Cena has moved on to the next stage of accepting the deterioration of the relationship. Here, Cena is attempting to find someone else to blame. It’s that “Well, I didn’t do anything wrong, it can’t be me” state of mind that, ultimately, leads Cena to laying blame elsewhere. All of these people have gotten between them, they used to be close, there used to be a connection but now, no matter how hard he tries, Cena just cannot get through to the Rock anymore. (Needless to say, Cena has an entire WWE creative team writing for him and, last I checked, there is security to stop people from jumping in the ring to mess up Cena’s fifty thousand dollar smile.)

The thing I’m most proud of, the thing that makes me sleep at night, through all that B.S. I always showed up and I never left. And when it comes down to Dwayne, the first time that he got a taste of the bright lights of Hollywood, he was out of her faster than I could say ‘Rocky don’t go.’” – John Cena.

Typical jilted lover behavior here: “I didn’t change, I didn’t leave. You left me, you gave up on us.” John Cena is hurting. The Rock left him, the Rock decided that after a decade of physical pain, a grueling schedule, difficult situations and countless complications, he had to move on somewhere better, somewhere he could be happy. John Cena hasn’t yet come to accept that, Cena hasn’t yet reached a place where he wants The Rock to be happy. He’s still in that scorned lover ‘I hope you get caught in a car fire for breaking my heart’ state of mind.

Finally, The Rock has come home, and he’s never leaving again… and then he left. Again.” – John Cena.

I imagine that, most nights, when the lights have shut off and the arena has grown quiet, Cena prepares to drive away from the building after he steps out of that ring. He slumps at the shoulders, drops his bag into the trunk, slides into his driver seat and has a good cry as he rolls out of the parking lot singing Alicia Keys: “You wore the crown, you made my body feel heaven bound. Why don’t you hold me, need me? You told me you’d never leave me.”

April 9th, the Monday after, when I’m at Monday Night Raw and Dwayne’s on a movie set sipping a Mai Tai, laughing at his stunt double… I promise, Rocky, as entertaining as you’re gonna be, as much as you’re gonna try to bring it, as many boots as you want to put to as many asses, you don’t got the club in the bag, son. I’m here, I’ve been here, I’ll always be here.” – John Cena

Finally that emotional volcano has erupted. John Cena is finally living true to that broken heart. He isn’t going to lay around at night smelling Rock’s pillow and crying over him anymore. He’s going to take a long, hot shower, brush his hair, put on one of his ten thousand “Hustle. Loyalty. Respect.” shirts and go out there to show that the Rock hasn’t broken him. No matter the pain, no matter the consequences, John Cena is not going to be afraid to love again.

John Cena marches toward Wrestlemania 28, where the true challenge will be. He has to try and show that, not only does he not still hurt, but he’s better than he was when Rock broke his heart. It’s like that awkward moment when you bump into your ex. She’s slimmed down, gotten in shape, wearing that short skirt with those long legs. She’s waiting in line, checking out some candles, cooking supplies and hanging on her arm is the guy she’s bringing home with her that night. He’s clean cut, muscular, nicely dressed and offers so much more than you could. So you just try to avoid eye contact, ring up their items, take the money and bag the merchandise.

When the dust settles, maybe Rock’s got the better life, but John’s still got the right to love again. Well, that and his fancy shirts and camoflouge shorts. After Wrestlemania, when John Cena takes the elevator up to his hotel room and his body is sore and aching from that clash between he and the one who broke his heart, he’ll crawl beneath the covers, look up at the dark ceiling and whisper to himself “I’ll never let another man break my heart.”

WWE: Be a Hypocrite

We’ve all seen those promos on WWE television.  Various WWE Superstars gathering and voicing their opinions about the evils of bullies and how important it is for all of us to put a stop to it.  They talk about the “be a STAR” program which is dedicated to creating a “positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness.”

The “be a STAR” program asks you to take the “be a STAR Pledge.”  One of the parts of that pledge reads “I pledge to:  Work with others including caring adults, students and friends to create a bully-free environment for everyone.”  It is a nice idea, and a good program.  Who isn’t in favor of stopping bullies from ruining lives and devaluing others?  The problem is that the first sentence on their webapge says “be a STAR is an anti-bullying alliance co-founded by The Creative Coalition and WWE.”

You read that correctly.  WWE is a “co-founder” of an “anti-bullying alliance.”  Apparently, though, that alliance doesn’t apply to their own company or television product, right?  It wasn’t too long ago that WWE faced heat with the “be a STAR” program due to their treatment of Vickie Guerrero.  Remember when they had both superstars and announcers alike calling her fat each and every week?  WWE was at a minimum unaware and at a maximum unconcerned that calling a woman “fat” week in and week out could, by and large, be considered bullying.

So, they stopped.  Now they just make subtle jokes that she’s ugly.  Much better, right?  It doesn’t end with Vickie Guerrero though.  Wrestling is an industry that revolves around bullying, doesn’t it?  A heel comes down, push people around, lies and cheats to get what he or she wants and then it is up to the babyfaces to stand up against the bully.  It’s an age old story, it’s been going on in the industry since its inception and it satisfies the fans.  People like to see a bully “get his.”  There’s nothing wrong with that.  There is, however, something incredibly wrong with the other bullying that goes on behind the scenes and, even sometimes, on our televisions.

There has been a running joke behind the scenes for quite a while in which people say that ring announcer Lillian Garcia has a “horse face.”  Some will remember that last year, when much of the Raw crew was stuck overseas due to the volcano eruption, Lillian Garcia came back for one night to be a guest ring announcer.  Triple H while on the microphone, with all of his tact and class, made the comment “If Lillian wants to come back here for a night to the WWE just to horse around, she can do it.”  This was accompanied by Jerry Lawler making horse sounds on commentary.  Mick Foley, who was in TNA at the time, posted a blog entry asking why Triple H found it necessary to “do something so shallow and mean?”

Lillian, who has now returned to WWE in order to ring announce for Smackdown, was in the dancing with Hornswoggle when Michael Cole made the comment “I wish these two would stop horsing around.”  Once again, WWE showing how amazingly dedicated they are to their anti-bullying campaign show how you’re never too old to make middle school jokes about someone.  Obviously they see nothing wrong with this since no apologies were released afterward and, unlike the Vickie Guerrero situation, we’re more than likely to see this kind of behavior perpetuated again and again.

Keep in stride with their reputation for crass, classless remarks intended to amuse themselves at the expense of others, and on the very same episode of Smackdown, Michael Cole found it necessary (or, in fairness to Cole, was fed the line through his headset) to make a crack about the debilitating medical condition, Bells Palsy, which legendary announce Jim Ross suffers from.  Josh Matthews made the derogatory comment about Cole saying that he “speaks out of both sides of his mouth.”  Cole’s response, which was not only disgustingly ignorant but pointless and delivered only to make light of someone’s serious medical illness, responded “Actually, there is nothing wrong with my mouth, unlike J.R.’s.”  Way to keep it classy and bully-free, WWE.

John Cena is another member of the WWE roster who could easily be called out, and has been, for some of the tasteless remarks he’s been responsible for.  Some may remember GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) targeting Cena for making homophobic remarks on WWE programming.  Among them, Cena said in reference to the Rock “Just don’t go racing to Witch Mountain, Rock, cause your mountain is Brokeback.”

A week later, Cena said to the Miz in regard to Alex Riley “Do you really want to look back years from now and realize you shared your legacy with another man?  Wait, don’t answer that.”  He made some comments about Miz and Riley buying “one of those tandem bikes to ride to bed bath and beyond to buy some duvets” and ultimately capped it by saying “Tonight, I’m going to train you on how to be a man.”

These are not isolated incidents.  Cena has a history of making homophobic remarks such as these.  It’s ironic for this to come from a guy who spouts off about “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect” and now wears a shirt bearing the phrase “Rise Above the Hate.”  What can you expect from the “face” of a company that pledges to stop bullying while perpetrating it on their broadcasts.  WWE has, for a long time, had a reputation for having a “locker room” mentality and having people, on all levels, who think it is funny to demean others.  This exists everywhere in the world, plenty of organizations and companies are full of ignorance like this, but not all of them are considered the “co-founders” of an “anti-bullying alliance.”

It’s time for WWE to grow up and put away their childish thoughts and comments.  They switched to PG and stick to it pretty firmly, unless it benefits them.  If you’re going to talk about how John Cena is a great example and role model or how your company is dedicated to ending bullying then maybe, the best place to start, is by not tolerating the same behavior you’re rallying against to continue within the walls of your company.  WWE says “be a STAR.”  I say be a STAR, don’t be a hypocrite.

Night of Champions Predictions

Night of Champions is here!  Aren’t you incredibly excited for this show and more than willing to throw down the $55 to get it in in HD?  If you answered “no” to both of these questions than we are on the same page.  The build up to Night of Champions has been remarkably poor, minus a few bright spots.  Just to clarify, CM Punk vs Triple H is not one of the bright spots.  I remember a time when a WWE PPV was a must-see situation.  These days it just feels like another day and another attempt to pull some money out of my pocket.  I’m going to take a look at the matches and give some of my thoughts and ultimately my predictions.  Feel free to comment with your own predictions, would love to know what you think.  Keep in mind I’m calling these matches as I think they should be, not necessarily how the backward booking of WWE will play them out.

United States Championship – Fatal Fourway:
Dolph Ziggler vs John Morrison vs Jack Swagger vs Alex Riley

WWE has actually done somewhat of a good job with the build up for this match. Somewhat.  The tension between Ziggler and Swagger has been apparent for a few weeks now.  Since Swagger came under the wing of Vickie Guerrero we’ve gotten to see some disharmony between these stable-mates.  This past Monday, Ziggler left Swagger to get pinned in their tag match.  These two are the key people to watch in this match.  Morrison has been on this march to nowhere lately, everytime WWE gives him the slightest hint of a push they seem to change their mind and everything reverts back to normal.  Riley was getting a lot of airplay in recent weeks but it seems to have fizzled out a little bit.  This would be typical of WWE getting ADD about their pushes and in the middle of making Riley stand out they suddenly saw something shiney and ran off to check it out.

This is likely going to be one of the most fun matches to watch, although I’d prefer for it to have been a one on one match.  Since it is a Fatal Fourway I can’t help but believe Ziggler will lose his US Title in a way which protects his push.  I could easily see a finish where Ziggler goes to hit someone with the belt and “accidentally” clocks Swagger, however Morrison or Riley knocks Ziggler down and gets the pin and becomes the new United States Champion.  This could lead to a feud between Ziggler and Swagger.  I’d rather see Ziggler keep his title but let’s go out on a limb here.

Winner and New United States Champion:  John Morrison.

Divas Championship
Kelly Kelly vs Beth Phoenix

What a cataclysmic clusterf*** this entire Divas situation has become.  First of all, whether you love her or hate her, Kelly Kelly is an absolute joke of a Divas champion.  This speaks volumes of the way WWE feels about this title.  It becomes clear that athletic ability, believable matches and possession of charisma and a personality means nothing.  For anyone who heard Kelly on commentary two weeks ago your ears are probably still bleeding.  Listening to her arguing with Natalya was just dreadful.  On the other hand, Beth is an incredibly competitor, an imposing figure and would make a tremendous divas champion.  She would be able to return credibility to that belt, something that it is severely lacking.

Beth and Natalya, the Divas of Doom have declared their own personal war against the blonde barbies of the WWE.  Though, not without contradiction, as soon as they declared this war they began showing up on television all dolled up like supermodels.  As a red blooded man I have no issues with this but as someone attempting to compute the credibility of this storyline I can’t help but ask what exactly is going on here?  It was my feeling that Beth should have won the title at their last clash and if she doesn’t win this time I’m just giving up on the Divas division all together, much like it seems Vince McMahon did years ago.

Winner and New Divas Champion:  Beth Phoenix

Tag Team Championship
Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne vs The Miz & R-Truth

Speaking of divisions WWE doesn’t care much about… the tag team titles have been a joke for years now.  Once, long ago, the Tag Team Titles actually meant something.  You got to see amazing matches and fantastic tag teams fighting at every PPV.  We had great teams like the Hart Foundation, Demolition, The Rockers, New Age Outlaws and Quebeccers.  Ok, maybe not the Quebeccers.  In the past decade we’ve seen these titles become almost completely meaningless; however, under the leadership of Triple H, we’ve been told that they’re going to mean something again.  This may be a step in the right direction.  Two up and comers vs two former main event contenders (and one who was a WWE Champion.)

Despite the fact that “Air Boom” is one of the most ridiculous team names in WWE history, I am looking forward to this.  Miz and Truth have great chemistry and can definitely make this match look good.  Both Miz and Truth have a more grounded style while Kofi and Bourne are the high flyers.  Look for this one to be surprisingly entertaining but ultimately, if they are truly hoping to make the titles matter again, they have to stop being a set of hot potatoes.

Winners and Still Tag Team Champions:  Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne.

Intercontinental Championship
Cody Rhodes vs Ted DiBiase

It’s interesting to see these two going head to head.  They both rose to prominence as part of Legacy with Randy Orton.  Rhodes has obviously been more successful, partly due to his ability in the ring and partly due the development of his personality.  DiBiase looks like what you’d want, on paper, but there seems to be something missing in person.  He lacks that “X-Factor.”  Whether this is actually his fault or WWE failing to give him worthwhile material is debatable.  Both Rhodes and DiBiase had matches with Orton lately.  DiBiase fell to the World Heavyweight Champion while Rhodes won, though he used his face mask to steal the victory while the referee was distracted.

Rhodes is on a mission to restore prestige to the Interconinental Title, which means a lot to me personally as I grew up in a time when the IC title was the title most people held before becoming World champion.  I grew up in the Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Diesel era of IC champions.  I’m hoping they’re able to give this title back the treatment it deserves and that.  Rhodes has been a dependable Champion, and he is clearly being groomed to move into the main event.  However, for now, he needs to continue down his current path a little longer.  DiBiase is either going to sink or swim as a result of this match, if the match doesn’t bypass expectation than it could be curtains for him.

Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion:  Cody Rhodes

World Heavyweight Championship
Randy Orton vs Mark Henry

WWE has gone out of its way over the past few months to make Mark Henry into a big, bad, unstoppable juggernaut of a monster.  He took out Kane and Big Show.  He smashed Sheamus through the ringside barricade.  He put Big Show through the side of the cage.  He’s been inducting people into what he calls his “Hall of Pain.”  The fact of the matter is he is absolutely, without a doubt, the number one heel on Smackdown.  Not only is he the number one heel, he is a tough heel which is rare in WWE these days.  He doesn’t run away and he doesn’t back down.  He doesn’t need to.  He is an ass kicking machine.  Orton has been in his sights for a while now and Henry has laid Orton out several times.

Orton is the champion coming out of a seemingly endless feud with Christian.  Though the fans seem to like him, Orton is suffering a little bit from the superhero booking he’s gotten.  Watching Orton drop twelve guys with the RKO isn’t as exciting as watching Austin drop one with the stunner, no matter how hard WWE tries to convince me that it is.  I like Orton, a lot, but I think he is one of those guys who is better when he is chasing the belt.  If Orton wins tonight he essentially destroys Mark Henry’s current storyline and I just don’t see them doing that right now.  The only way I see Orton winning is if we get the return of either Kane, Big Show or both, and they take Henry out.  This would protect Henry and allow Orton to keep the belt.

Winner and New World Heavyweight Champion:  Mark Henry

WWE Championship
Alberto Del Rio vs John Cena

It is somewhat sad that the flagship title of the company is a backburner match.  Del Rio has been doing pretty good, he’s changed my opinion somewhat.  I think as a heel he is great.  He pisses me off, he makes me want to see him get his ass kicked.  Though, I could say the same thing about John Cena but I don’t think that is what WWE wants.  Then again, what they want seems to be getting more and more difficult to figure out.  Cena has been coming out for a few weeks now, attacking Del Rio verbally for renting cars which seems counterproductive.  You’re trying to sell this guy as a rich, aristocratic heel so what is the point of telling us that is all fake?  That would be like Del Rio coming out and saying that Cena isn’t actually a nice guy, he doesn’t wear jean shorts in private and he actually hates rap.

I don’t see the sense here, I know everyone wants to be CM Punk shooting but there’s enough problems with that, do we really need to screw this up too?  Either way, Cena and Del Rio is only just beginning and I think they want to have Cena and Rock teaming up against Del Rio and some of his people at Survivor Series.  If that is the case then I find it hard to believe that Cena will walk out of Night of Champions with the title.  Maybe that’s why they haven’t played this match up all that much:  superman is going down.

Winner and Still WWE Champion:  Alberto Del Rio

No Disqualification – COO On the Line
Triple H vs CM Punk

So this is what it is all about, right?  This is the storyline which is supposed to electrify the WWE fans and make us incapable of changing the channel every Monday Night.  Honestly, with the way things had been going, I half-expected this to be a rap battle style promo match.  All these two have done is talk and talk and talk until I wanted to smash my head through my television screen.  The magic that Punk had back in June is essentially dead now.  Not all of that is his fault.  How long can you hotshot shoot promos until you eventually have to reign it back in?  When you finally do calm it all down it begins to feel so much more tame than it would have otherwise.  Nash texted Nash which makes about as much sense to me as Bret screwed Bret.  Triple H fires Nash, who leaves with Johnny Ace, and we’re not supposed to expect to see Nash make an appearance tonight?  Of course Nash will be there.  The only piece of information we might get out of this match is who is Nash working for?  Will it turn out Triple H was in on it all along?  Will Johnny Ace be the mastermind behind it?  Is Stephanie involved?  Or, is it possible, that CM Punk has been working with Nash all along?  Who knows, and frankly, who cares?   There is a reason ratings have been in the toilet lately:  WWE hasn’t made you care about any of this.

I could watch two guys arguing at work and it would be more entertaining than watching these two go at each other.  I like Punk a lot but there are only so many times he can say Triple H is a pussy, or call him Paul, and still get me wanting to see more.  This storyline either needs to die or something shocking needs to happen to reinvigorate it.  If Trips loses, he is no longer COO.  I can’t believe they’d have him drop that title already but it would give them a chance to bring in someone else who could maybe turn things around.  Hell, maybe we’d finally find out who the Anonymous RAW GM is?  The key to this match is that it is No DQ.  There are going to be some shenaningans here to protect the loser, which is why I imagine Triple H is going to lose.  Not cleanly, mind you.  If he lost clean to Punk I’d be very, very surprised.

Winner:  CM Punk

So there it is, your Night of Champions lineup.  There is so much more to say, but this PPV is indicitive of what WWE’s problem is right now:  it doesn’t feel special and it doesn’t feel must-see.  WWE is failing to make us care, they’re failing to provide that big match atmosphere that they usually go out of their way to deliver.  I’ve got one final prediction for you which we won’t find out for a few months, but I’ll go with it anyway:  Night of Champions PPV buyrate will be one of the worst of the year.  It’s do or die time, WWE better have an ace of their sleeve with this one.

The SuperColumn

Remember when you could walk into a McDonalds and order a large fry and they’d ask if you wanted it Supersized?  Take your favorite meal, make it even bigger and enjoy it even more.  Sure you may end up vomiting it up later but hey, if you love fries as much as I do then you sure do miss the Supersize option.  When it comes to television you have a show, it could be great, terrible or run of the mill.  However, if you have a Supershow then it has to be better right?  Making Monday Night Raw into a Supershow seemed like a great idea.  Take all of your favorites, from both brands, smash them together and we could get things we’d never seen before!  New rivalries, new confrontations, new matches.

Taking Raw and making it Super could really have been something you didn’t want to miss. Unfortunately, as per usual, WWE has managed to take something which seems like a tremendous idea and transform it into something mediocre.  There doesn’t seem to be any company in the world that succeeds as frequently as WWE does at taking something that could be awesome and making it typical.  I think they’ve managed to prove that over the past few years.  If you’d have told me five years ago that Bret Hart and the Rock would return I’d have been elated.  I’d be thinking WWE had turned the right corner, that these two storylines could really blow the roof off.  The last thing I’d have thought was that Bret Harts return would have went over like an anvil and that the Rock would come back to work a mediocre program with John Cena.

Who knew that CM Punk would walk out on Raw and say so many things that fans had been thinking for so long only for it to be forgotten the next week?  Someone still has to explain to me why a massive storyline was built around this guy leaving the company with the title only to see him leave for a week.  People had been clamoring for the return of Triple H and yet it doesn’t seem like his return has made a lick of difference in the horrendous nature of the program other than the fact that we get to see him come out and talk for a few segments on every show.  Kevin Nash, who once galvanized the wrestling world with the nWo comes out to the ring looking about as interested in being there as I do waiting in line at the DMV.  Textgate, which was this intriguing storyline with multiple suspects, turns out to be “Nash texted Nash” which makes sense to someone, somewhere, I’m sure.  But, keep in mind, there are people out there who think Jersey Shore is a good show so that doesn’t add a lot of credence to this blunder.

The Supershow has delivered to us several “exciting” things.  Live, on Monday Night, we’ve gotten to see Randy Orton in a squash match against Heath Slater, Teddy Long making eight man tag matches because apparently, aside from Triple H and the seemingly forgotten Anonymous General Manager, he also has the power to make matches.  Who could forget the amazingly intriguing, hand-shakingly excited clash between WWE Tag Team Champions, Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne (I will not call them “Air Boom.”  It sounds like an action performed in the bathroom of an airplane) take on the formidable team of… Jinder Mahal and the Great Khali.  Well this is living up to be everything we’d thought it could be, right?  Oh boy.

So aside from a few random Smackdown stars thrown into Raw what have we gotten?  The same show, the same poor writing, the same half-assed booking.  What exactly did they think this was going to do?  You can change your show into a Supershow, or change the name of your company completely (*cough*TNA*cough*) but if you’re not going to actually change what you’re doing it is going to be completely meaningless.  The idea of ending the brand split could have been something major but if they ever do decide to completely end it on all shows I think they’ve taken some dangerous steps towards damaging that concept by making Raw a “Supershow.”  I suppose I should start rebranding my old columns as “Supercolumns” and that will magically make them better than they were to start out with, right?

What could make a Supershow super?  How about new matches, exciting storylines, fresh rivalries?  Maybe we could see Randy Orton wrestle someone who he hasn’t wrestled before in a match that takes longer than two minutes and actually makes a difference as applies to the Raw superstars?  Maybe, just maybe, we could get a wrestling show that actually makes us want to keep watching?  The NFL season is opening and WWE didn’t even try to do a single thing to make any NFL fans feel like they might be missing something if they tuned out next week.  I don’t watch football but even I am not sure what I’m supposed to be tuning in to see.  Hell, they didn’t even announce the main event on Monday until five minutes before it was happening.  Some Supershow, huh?

You can slap the word “Super” in front of anything you want but that doesn’t actually mean anything.  To make Raw “super” you’re going to have to make it more than it already is, and that shouldn’t be complicated because it currently isn’t much of anything.  Right now I’d be happy just for Raw to be good.  Maybe that is the platform they should have aimed for first.  Monday Night Raw:  Good Show.  I’ll take a good show over a supershow any day, at least, if this is what a supershow has in store for us.  A Good show.. what a novel idea.

SummerSlam Predictions

SummerSlam is less than two hours away and there is no better time to post my SummerSlam predictions.  Keep in mind all predictions I make here are not based around how I would do it or what I want to see but what I believe will happen based around the development of current storylines, future WWE plans and with WWE’s past booking decisions in mind.

Daniel Bryan vs Wade Barrett:

A year ago Daniel Bryan returned at SummerSlam to help team WWE in a fruitless effort against the Nexus.  It is somewhat odd it has taken a year for this match to roll around.  Several things have to be considered when looking at this match.  First, Daniel Bryan is holding the Smackdown Money in the Bank briefcase and second of all Wade Barrett has been getting cooled off and pushed aside by WWE for a while now.  These two are certainly in a position to put on an entertaining match, assuming WWE affords them the time to do it by not throwing in too many surprise matches.  Daniel is rising, his Money in the Bank victory and subsequent announcement of his main event title shot at next years Wrestlemania lead me to believe that ultimately Daniel Bryan has to win this match.  There is nothing in it for him to lose and Barrett simply is not on top of the roster like he was last year.  It seems almost as if the creative team just doesn’t know where to put him in the first place which makes me believe this is not a feud they are looking to prolong.  If this is a be all end all match then the only decision that would make sense is to put over your money in the bank winner and begin building a platform that makes him appear as strong as possible.

Winner:  Daniel Bryan

Sheamus vs Mark Henry:

WWE has spared no opponent in making Mark Henry appear as the badass destroyer that is rolling over the big men in WWE without a problem.  Sheamus has stepped up to try and stop this juggernaut figure and to put an end to his vicious ways.  WWE gets behind Henry every year or two and pushes him like a monster but ultimately lose interest in him for whatever the reason may be.  Sheamus is on the edge of a face turn for those who have been paying attention and his recent appearance on Conan O’Brien appeared as almost a test run to see if he could, as a face, be someone to carry some public relations responsibilities.  The general consensus appears to be that he can indeed.   With all of the time, effort and superstars they have sacrificed to Henry it would be extremely counterproductive to end his big man push right now.  Henry has been destroying guys after their matches and putting them “on the shelf” for unknown amounts of time.  The intelligent move here would be for Sheamus to get in some good offense and to look big before Henry ultimately pulls out the victory.  Then, after the match, when Henry goes to injure Sheamus he will either manage to escape or fight back.  Let the crowd get some sympathy for the Celtic Warrior, believing he is going to be injured just like all those before him, and then give them the pop of him fighting his way out of it and standing tall in defeat.

Winner:  Mark Henry

Divas Title Match – Kelly Kelly vs Beth Phoenix:

I feel like for the past few weeks I have spoken about the divas division more than I have in the past few years and this is based around two things:  The drama surrounding the Gail Kim situation and the shining light of hope that this Beth Phoenix / Natalya / Divas of Doom storyline gives me.  I’ve heard rumor that the idea is for the more experienced, better in ring performing WWE divas to carry the title and to make the less talented, eye candy divas to be made to look better because of them.  I certainly hope this isn’t exactly the truth.  Beth Phoenix was once a dominate, tough, imposing diva within this company and the time is absolutely here for her to regain that title and return some credibility to it (credibility which was damaged when Eve won it, crippled when the Bellas won it and ultimately killed when Kelly Kelly won it.)  If the WWE has any ounce of respect or interest in this division they have to give the title to Beth.  Considering the time they’ve given Beth recently (more than 15 seconds) it seems to only make sense that she will win and that the divas division will be granted a little more time even if that is at a minimum.  Kelly Kelly does not look like a woman who could beat Beth nor does she possess the technical in ring skill to finish the job so if she were to win it would be, in my opinion, yet another nail in the casket for this divas division.  Beth has many more places to go with this title than Kelly Kelly has.

New WWE Divas Champion:  Beth Phoenix 

World Heavyweight Title – No Holds Barred – Christian vs Randy Orton:

Someone refresh my memory, didn’t we see this match already?  Like twelve times already?  Oh it’s no holds barred now, that makes it different.  Right?  These two have put on some excellent matches together but the intrigue is absolutely slipping away from it.  It reminds me of the John Cena vs Randy Orton feud that headlined like five PPVs in a row last year.  You’ve beaten this horse to death and though both men have played their parts well it is time for the storyline to end.  There is only one way in which this storyline can end and that is for the main attraction of Smackdown, Randy Orton, to recapture the title and move onto his next opponent (Mark Henry anyone?)  Christian will lose this match, Orton will probably get in an RKO on an announce table after Christian does a lot of dirty, underhanded things to him, but ultimately the viper will win out.  Orton will move on to feud with Henry for the next two or three PPVs and Christian will probably begin sliding down the roster.  I could easily see a heel Christian working with a face Sheamus in the near future though.  For the mercy of my eyes, for the sake of anyone who has already seen this so many times before and to keep these two performers from getting stale, let it end at SummerSlam.

New World Heavyweight Champion:  Randy Orton

Champion vs Champion – CM Punk vs John Cena w/ Special Referee Triple H:

So we’ve come to the main event, the match that everyone has been waiting for (and the main reason I ordered this PPV at all.)  Champion vs Champion plays out tonight and the “undisputed WWE champion” will be crowned.  Undisputed is probably unlikely the way that I see this match evolving.  Cena and Punk showed us at Money in the Bank that they can pull this off and they can make it an awesome match.  The only downside is there is no way they can live up to that match, or at least a very slim chance that they can do it.  This will be a good match, hands down, but it is going to suffer from several factors, one of which is the inclusion of Triple H who will no doubt be involved to some degree.  At least he’ll yell at Punk or Cena when they refuse to break a hold and he has to make them break it.  It’s a spot we’ve all seen a million times before.  The storyline going into this has been amazing and the crowd split between Cena and Punk is definitely entertaining.  The pure fact of the matter is I have two possible outcomes here (don’t worry, I will ultimately choose one.)  Outcome #1:  Triple H turns full heel and costs John Cena this match showing that he has in fact teamed up with CM Punk and that it was a plan between the two of them to get the title from Cena and get rid of Vince McMahon.  Outcome #2:  Triple H “accidentally” costs John Cena this match.  There is some kind of interference or weapon play which leads to Triple H meaning to attack Punk but he accidentally connects with Cena and this leads to the 1-2-3.  Following the match I could easily see CM Punk turning on Triple H to show that he is still his own man and after laying him out, he stands tall with the title (until Alberto Del Rio comes out and cashes in Money in the Bank.)

Undisputed WWE Champion:  CM Punk

Keep an eye out for Alberto Del Rio to cash in his briefcase at this show and bear in mind, if he does, he is probably going to win.  WWE has an upcoming tour of Mexico and Del Rio has been slated to win that title for months.  If they put Punk, Cena and Triple H all at odds with each other more than they were before coming into this show it would make sense.  Plus there would be a continued storyline of who gets a rematch against Del Rio since Cena will argue he lost because of Triple H and Punk will argue he was the undisputed champion even if only for a few moments.

No matter what Summerslam will be amazing.  I will be on twitter tweeting along so join me there @OneCountKickout !

Living Color

OneCountKickout on Twitter
Million’s of fan’s complaints and grievances have become one man’s revolution.  Shockwaves within a single wrestling organization are not unheard of.  Frankly they are in the business of trying to create shockwaves, of trying to galvanize their viewers with fantastic occurrences that make you put the controller down on the table for the next few weeks, months or even years.  More rare, however, is an action, storyline or person who not only radiates shock and intrigue through their own company but manages to stretch those tendrils out and affect an entire industry.  WWE has been in this game before, though the last time they truly affected their entire industry it was with their purchase of WCW and that revolution was sparked by a completely different company and creative team all together.

Anyone who is a wrestling fan, whether they admit it or not, has seen or heard of the electrifying performance of CM Punk as of late.  From his fourth wall shattering shoot promo a few weeks ago on Raw to his shocking title victory at Money in the Bank, Punk has managed to turn the man against the machine and in doing so he has taken the burdens, complaints and arguments of so many wrestling fans onto his shoulders.  Whether planned or not his current rise can be defined as nothing short of meteoric and his new persona, the new twist on the old Punk, has caught the attention of fans world wide.

Punk has been a compelling story within WWE.  Vince McMahon has a history of not fulling supporting or getting behind individuals or organizations that he himself did not make.  His disinterest in perpetuating the use of anything made by anyone else can be no clearer than in his blatant disregard for the fan favorite match known as War Games.  However, McMahon did not create this and rather than giving us something he didn’t create he’d rather shock our palettes with things like year ’round gimmick PPVs most of which are almost entirely meaningless.  Either way it appears clear to anyone who has followed the history that CM Punk is a unique character whose creation was neither a plan nor result of his arrival in the WWE.  His time in ROH speaks for itself.

So why now have we finally seen this change which has not only allowed CM Punk to reinvent, or more accurately, release himself from the mold they tried to squeeze him into as well as breaking down the walls of what has become by many fan’s views a mediocre, form fitting show.  There has been a lot of speculation about Vince McMahon and when his time would come to step down.  The storyline has presented (kayfabe) that he has and we are seeing the new era of Triple H.  This era has thus far delivered us the new contract for CM Punk, the returns of Jim Ross and CM Punk and promises to keep us entertained for a while.  Perhaps Punk cannot be given complete gratitude for this as clearly they were following a map here but for someone with the balls, creativity and drive to not only spark this revolution but to pull it off is in itself remarkable.
Hopefully patience will be a virtue here and we’ll see things slowly unfold.  There was some discussion that perhaps Punk returned too soon but by his own statement Summer Slam is around the corner and time is something they weren’t necessarily awarded here.  When the box begins to grow to the point that “outside of the box” thinking is within it’s bounds there can be a problem and hopefully we will not see this occur now that it has become clear Punk has returned to WWE with new (old) music to boot.  Punk stood out and himself attacked the “Cult of Personality” of not only WWE but of it’s golden boy, John Cena which awarded him immediate interest from most of the older fans.  The monotonous “super” Cena persona began to grate on the nerves of older fans years ago but it has been gradually increasing with each passing month.  Punk came out and showed us a different way that things can go and it is quite possible that the shock of his victory came because people have been taught that when John Cena wrestles for the title he tends to win.  Actually when Cena wrestles for anything he tends to win and without much pomp and circumstance so to see him actually “wrestle” a match at Money in the Bank was, for the most part, a surprise.  Seeing him lose his title, especially to someone who was leaving, was certainly mind blowing.
Where do we go from here?  The options are limitless at this point and Punk has earned a little faith here.  WWE does have a tendency to blow these things, to rush them, to lack the patience necessary to stick it out and wait for the numbers to reflect the changes that they have made.  Punk, though, has shown that wherever this goes and whatever he does, he truly is a main eventer within WWE and he is one of the most entertaining people we’ve got going today.  This is a man who loves wrestling and wants to see it return to the way it was when he watched it growing up, the way it was when he made the decision that he wanted to step inside the squared circle.  Cena will likely remain the chosen one of the WWE but Punk is certainly coming up the rear.  Perhaps Cena will remain the choice of children and young women and Punk can take his rightful place as a choice for the older generation that misses the tougher days of wrestling.  Either way we’re in for a fun ride and right now CM Punk is in the driver’s seat.
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