Sunday, April 05, 2009

SmashBlogs lives!

Just a short one,

As annouinced on SmashLives this evening, today sees the official launch of SmashBlogs, with Lewis's Live Mania Blog to celebrate the event by enjoying the greatest show of them all!

There are four guys now, but there will be more bloggers representing the boards coming in in the next few weeks.

For now, with Red Dwarf 3 on in the background (and I'll try to blog about that over the next week), I'm going to look forward to 'Mania 25 and just say what I think of the card in preparation for the show:

Matt Hardy v Jeff Hardy - Extreme Rules

It's good to see that this has gone better than the early 21st century attempts at a feud between the two. Back then they were still young, still predominantly a tag team, and it just didn't work, but the years of singles work the pair have done wonders since, culminating in Matt's long-running feud with MVP and their title reigns over the last year.

It's fair to say that one concern that many people - myself included - used to have about the brothers Hardy was their promo ability. They're still no Rock/Y2J/HBK but the solo work has help to develop their characters to the point where - Jeff especially - they have finally made people buy into a battle between the pair.

Whilst I would have preferred a Jeff v Edge match, or Jeff v Edge v Matt v Christian, or even Jeff + Christian v Matt + Edge, I can understand reluctance to sit the title match on the shoulders of a guy who screwed up enough to be suspended from the show last time out. This match is both in their element - charter members of the TLC matches, team Xtreme, hardcore titles, so it should be a great one and quite possibly a show opener to get the crowd going.

Winner: Unless they're trying to bury him it has to be Matt. Sugestions that Jeff could somehow get into the MITB later in the night would back this up. Matt it is.

Money in the bank match

A strange one this. So much of its usual fire could be taken by the Hardy's match, maybe that's why they've added Mark Henry to the line-up? Kane has show he can work this match before despite his size, as did the grappler Finlay, but the worlds's strongest man (I would love the official WSM Marius Pudzianowski to challenge him over that - talk about one-sided!) is another matter. The tradional big spots aren't something I can see Henry doing.

End of the day, though, those three aren't going to be the focus of attetion in this match - they're there to give the other guys something to look spectacular with. Perennial MITB also-ran Shelton Benjamin is riding as high as he has since he first moved to RAW and beat Triple H repeatedly, MVP has gone from the best pushed losing streak since Christian to the US title scene effortlessly, Christian was always gone to be a big point of interest with this, both for his comeback and for his E+C /TLC heritage, Punk and Kofi are young and quick.

But realistically, Punk isn't as hot as he was twelve months ago, Kingston is good but has been pushed to his current limits aready in the upper midcard and needs one or two big feuds to get into the picture, Shelton is never going to win the big one, so it's MVP (who may be too close to the losing streak to be seen as credible) or Christian (which depends on how the head office feel about his defection a while back).

Winner: Probably Christian, but that Hardy rumour rears it's head again.

JBL v Mysterio

Two totally differenty guys in a match withistory. For those wo don't remember, it was a defeat to Rey that led to JBL's retirement a few years back. Both are guys with a history of injuries now, but going by current rumours JBls are significantly worse.

If rumour is to be believed, JBL has finaly worked out that just because his back stopped hurting 18 months ago didn't mean it was better, and that his last match v2 is on the horizon. This could well be tonight, with a title on the line in his hometown against his big nemesis.

Both these guys have managed to pull of good matches as Mania in the past, but it's safe to say that this is likely to be closer to a JBL power match than a Rey-Rey spotfest. There'll be speed and jumps from Mysterio, but a large part of this will likely see Bradshaw destroying his smaller oponent before a sudden "underdog" comeback...straight into a clothesline from hell.

Winner: JBL to retire with the belt

Tag unificaton - Miz & Morrison v Carlito & Primo

Finaly they've realised that they've not had enough tag teams with the required quality, as well as too much crossover to properly differentiate, to jusify two titles. Add Cryme Tyme (and Priceless if they actually bothered to have matches) and this is pretty much the totality of the tag division.

Remember when Miz was never going to amount to anything? Whe he was dumped to ECW so that they could shunt him aside as Extreme Expose's manager? This is one guy who has come on massively over the last few years. Ditto Morrison - although he had more to work with from the start. On the flipside of that you have Carlito, a man who was once close to breaking through to the title picture, a character people cared about, who was successfuly pushed strauight out of the traps. To be drawn into the failing tag division, even if it is alongside his brother (he who one day was a RAW wrester who hated his brother, next was on Smackdown and forming a tag team with him...), is a shame for someone as talented as him. Since the angle with Flair was dropped from Mania a couple of years back, the ball has been continually dropped with him. He was marketable, but they may have done too much damage now.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bellas get involved, but I think it could take more than that to get me interested. And getting everybody who doesn't have a mtch to Lumberjack doesn't count.

Winner: Miz and Morrison.

Diva batte royal for Miss Wrestlemania

for once I really DON'T want to see Santino getting involved in a match. It's hilarious watching him get bitchslaped by the whole woomen's locker room once a year, but that's enough.

Most of the contenders here are just there to get them on the show. I mean, The Bellas? Jillian? Layla El? It's like a pre-2002 rumble with all the filler in there. At the end of the day, there are maybe half a dozen realistic winners from the current crop - Beth, Mickie, Melina, Maryse, Michelle - and the returnees who will no doubt be given at least a brief moment of glory.

Winner: Mae Young!

Taker V HBK

Hands up nyone who hasn't been wanting this match again for years. The rumble hinted at it two years ago, but they've held off for the aniversary show (24th goddamn it, not 25th!). And so far the build-up hasnt disappointed. No constant punch-ups, no constant arguments, but great promos with a brief clash at the end.

And for their home state, two guys who rarely disappoint - who pretty much OWN Wrestlemania - will surely be one of the best matches on the card, if not of the year.

That said, if the idea is to make you think that Taker's record is in doubt, they've failed with that. For weeks, HBK has made Taker look like a chump. For anything other than a Taker win to occur would mean that they'll have essentially destroyed one of their biggest names with no comeback. Unless Taker was to vanish until SummerSlam and get revenge then (and his injury record does suggest that could happen). But I really don't see anything but another Taker Mania moment

Winner: Undertaker

Jericho v The legends

This could have gone either way in the build-up. It could have been great, it could have been a huge bomb. As far as my interest is confirmed, I think it's falen somewhere in the middle, but only courtesy of one of the few men to hark back to the great energy and promos we got back in the attitude days and before - Chris Jericho. Right now, despite what the back office might have decided one week into his comeback, the former Y2J remains one of the best, most intelligent and most articulate promo-cutters in the busness, so he can pretty much get my interest for any match.

I wish they'd gone for something better than one guy aginst three legends plus the egend in the corner plus the guy in the crowd plus the guy on the mic plus get the idea. I' glad they've kept Flair out of the ring - last year's send off would not have deserved that - but the ending is just too obvious

Whoever he faced, there was - and still is - a damn near certainty that he'll fall foul to the finishers of every legend who could make it to the ring on the night. Expect all three guys to hit theirs, along with Flair, Austin, Lawler and maybe Rourke to boot as well. He'll probably pin two, but that's when the interference will begin. And contrary to popular opinion, I don't see Piper being the one who pins him.

Winner: Steamboat caps his HOF weekend with the win

Triple H v Orton

Dear god, this again???

At least, part of me thinks that, but another part has seen the work they've actually put in this time to make us interested.

From nowhere, they've acknowledged Trips and Steph's marriage. That's fine, because during the DX reunion, I found the jokes referring to it to be a great nod to the smarks and a real laugh. It's given the smarks a mini-payoff - they called her phoning him in January, they caught all the "McMahon's son" and DX stuff. They could maybe have done the first reference better, or at least said "we reconciled, we just wanted to keep it private this time", but it's put his motivation into it and given us a more driven Triple H than we've seen recently.

Orton's "IED"...glad they axed that. Never really bought that as a story, but the way they did - to suggest it was used to manoeuvre him into place for this, to get at Triple H - was much better exectued than the original idea. The promo at RAW this week, explaining that he had bided his time to get revenge for his original betrayal by Evolution, was excellently delivered, but it dd emphasise two things for me.

1. Orton doesn't have the ability to keep a crowd heated on the mic - he had to break from the text to insult them to get a reaction. After all this time, only his actions seem to get the crowd's back up.

2. The Legacy is not working. The two of them have gone form a promising pair and a good young tag team to two lackeys on a par with the Edgeheads. This isn't a stable, it's one man with his own security.

With the Evolution refernecs, I wonder if Batista will somehow get involved here, but maybe not the way you think he might. Randy to have pointed out to him how Trips used and dumped them both?

Winner: Orton. Trips doesn't need it, and they've only ust done the Legacy T-shirts so they're going nowhere.

Edge v Big Show v Cena

Edge v Cena has probably, alongside Trips v Orton been the biggest feud in the five years since the last milestone mania. And that means we've seen it so often. But not for a couple of years.

Personally, I do think that Cena has improved in the year or so since his return. There seems to be something more to him than there was before. But I still don't rate him as anywhere near the level of the top guys in the company. Edge needs something to realy spark him again - the "opportunist" thing relying on Vickie has got a little stale to me, the title switches back to the old style of dropping it quicker than you win it. Everything seems to need cheating or sneakiness. He needs, for me, to actually start taking a few cleanly.

What does Big Slow offer here? Very little. He'll be the big obstacle for the others, but no more. The potential of a non-belt feud over Vickie afterwards is intriguing, though - it may give Edge what he really needs.

Winner: With Orton taking the first title match, and to free Edge for Show, you'd think Cena here, but again, the Hardy rumour could come into play. I'll say Edge, with Hardy using the MITB contract straight after to get the big finish.

God that took longer than I though...possibly be another ECW battle royal and Title match in there too (Swagger to retain though)... not long to go now so we shall see!


Dave "Garibaldi" Nevett

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