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T3C: Back to the Drawing Board



22 May 2007

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Welcome to another Three Count and this time around I’m taking a look at what’s been happening in WWE these past few weeks. There’s certainly been a number of events which has left the companies plans in tatters but have the new ideas been fully thought through and is it perhaps time to end this whole brand extension when it comes to having two champions?

As Wrestlemania 23 ended WWE found itself with two champions who had been given massive pushes and one new champion who was getting ready for what would likely be his last run as a champion before retirement. But who could have guessed what was going to happen in the next few weeks?

Over on Raw, John Cena left Wreselamania as a champion who despite still getting the boos had beaten off nearly all the challengers on his brand. A subsequent rematch with Shawn Michaels is likely to figure high on any match of the year votes but there was major problems ahead not just for Cena but for Vince McMahon.

A logical contender until Triple H returned was Randy Orton but his behaviour on the European tour meant he had absolutely no chance of being given any title shots after the four-way match at Backlash and he was perhaps lucky to stay in that match. Shawn Michaels may not have been pinned in that Backlash main event but his run of title shots seems to be over for the moment leaving many to ask why it is this guy can’t be given a title reign. So just who was there left to challenge Cena for the belt? Edge has been a great opponent for the champ but another Cena v Edge match is really pushing it a bit. Then catastrophe occurred that would change the face of WWE wrestling on both Raw and Smackdown.

At Wrestlemania 23, Mr Kennedy won the Money in the Bank Ladder Match which for the past couple of years has made that winner a champion in waiting. But for Kennedy it was going to be a long wait as he declared that he wouldn’t be cashing in his challenge until Wrestlemania 24 which meant WWE perhaps were planning a long way ahead and had real high hopes for him. But as before, injury struck Mr Kennedy and WWE really panicked.

Why? Well there were problems on Smackdown too that left their World Heavyweight title in real trouble. The Undertaker never loses at Wrestlemania and he kept that record at Wrestlemania 23 and took the World Title away from Batista too. A long title reign was planned for Taker who it seems would no longer have to be declared ‘The Partimetaker.’ But then disaster struck as he suffered an injury and would be out for months. So what does Vince do? Does he decide to put the belt back onto Batista with a mouth watering feud (NOT) against Mark Henry to look forward to or give it to Mr Kennedy and see the whole Money in the Bank storyline ruined?

I have to admit that I wouldn’t have liked to be anywhere near Vince when he heard that like the Undertaker, Mr Kennedy was injured and likely to be out of action for months. Bang goes any idea of giving to the belt to Mr Kennedy so perhaps Batista better get ready for another title reign when he faces The Undertaker in a cage match on Smackdown with the title on the line.

No such luck for Batista, instead the decision was made to let Edge take the MITB off Mr Kennedy at the Monday night Raw and then at the Smackdown tapings the following night to use that to take the belt off The Undertaker. So why was such a decision taken? It didn’t exactly show much faith in the Smackdown roster and left Raw without another of its main challengers to Cena. At least there were no such problems in ECW or were there?

The ECW title wasn’t defended at Wrestlemania but its champion, Bobby Lashley, was still getting a big push as he beat Umaga and left Vince begging for it to be true that his hair really would grow back. The problem was of course we all feared that the continuing push of Lashley without their being any real challengers to his title on ECW was just Vince pushing and pushing Lashley until he could take him to Raw.

The feud between Vince and Lashley continued after Wrestlemania with still no sign of anyone actually on the ECW roster getting a proper run at the title. Then the unbelievable happened as Vince McMahon actually won the ECW Title at Backlash and, unlike when he won the WWE Title against Triple H, kept it! The thoughts of Paul Heyman would most likely be unprintable.

So we find ourselves in a position where Cena has few challengers on Raw (back to him in a moment), Edge is now established as World Heavyweight Champion, The Money in the Bank storyline lasted just a few weeks and a bald man in his 60s is the ECW Champion. At least it can’t get any worse, oh no it just did!

Vince really had run out of challengers on Raw and decided that at Judgement Day, Cena would face the Great Khazi, sorry Khali. The carried would have to become the carrier in what is likely to become one of the worst PPV title matches of all-time.

This could have been avoided you know. Why not declare the World Heavyweight Title be declared vacant (the dodgy finish to the cage match between Batista and Undi could have allowed for that), then let a major character from the past taunt Cena saying he’s only champ of half the company. Cue Battle Royal at Judgement Day for the World Title and out comes Cena to win and unify the titles. All of a sudden the number of challengers that Cena has is doubled, perhaps even more so. A whole new range of matches is opened up and fans know that the World Champion will be on both rosters.

But it won’t happen will it, Vince wants to carry on with the brand extension as explained to his shareholders recently. The brand extension is weakened these days anyway. The whole point was to start new feuds and to give those wrestlers a little lower down the card the chance to shine. How can that happen now when there’s no such thing as a Raw PPV or a Smackdown PPV? Tag titles aren’t always defended on PPVs nor is the cruiserweight title and most people still wouldn’t recognise the IC Champ in a crowd and where’s he on the Judgement Day PPV?

A chance to unite the titles has been lost, but shouldn’t that be a long term plan for a future Wrestlemania? At least the title picture on Smackdown will be interesting when Undi and Mr K return.

That’s all for this week. Look out for another Piledriver magazine online at the end of this week.

Stephen Ashfield

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