Hi once again tatfans and welcome to a special edition of The Announce Table, one of eight “Grand Slam” articles previewing, and later reviewing, the WWE feature pay-per-view events; Summerslam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and finally Wrestlemania.
Vince McMahon’s travelling circus arrives in Toronto to showcase their version of the Summer Games, the always entertaining blitzkreig of wrestling known as Summerslam; and it promises to be an absolute cracker! Let’s explore.
The Raw main event sees Triple H….sorry, let me start that again.
The Raw main event sees Chris Benoit defend his World Heavyweight Title against Randy Orton. Orton is on the fast-track to success and this is his first ever Heavyweight Title shot. The Evolution prodigy looks odds on to win it, too. After all, he is the Legend Killer, Benoit is a legend, Orton has just lost his Intercontinental belt without making a big deal about it and Evolution needs a daddy-mac to lead them while Triple H is away (movies). Benoit has certainly earned his reign though: he has put in over 18 years of gut-busting service to the pro-wrestling industry and won his belt at Wrestlemania XX, arguably the biggest Wrestlemania of all time, in spectauclar fashion. Legend has it he is being put in another tag team, legend has it Orton is feuding with Triple H for the title later this year. Surely Orton, WWE’s main squeeze right now, is going to gloriously defeat Benoit for the belt this weekend?
Personally, I don’t think he will.
Smackdown’s main event is World Champion John Bradshaw Layfield defending his stylish accessory against the Deadman, the Phenom, the Hell’s Angel, the Undertaker! Undertaker used all his holiday-in-lieu he earned over 12 years between November and Wrestlemania, now he’s back (pretty much) full time and he’s mad! He’s mad at JBL for runnin’ his damn mouth. He’s mad at JBL for assaulting his Mini-Me. He’s mad at JBL because…well, he just IS! I loved the swarthy JBL character when he first appeared so soon after ditching the APA character, I also think he has made a terrific champion. He is flashy, prestigious, tough, and clearly revels in his time in the sun. It would be such a shame to see him lose his title so soon after winning it, and I can only see JBL being victorious in what should be a wonderfully crafted match by two wily old pros.
The next rung down on the card sees Raw exhibit Triple H vs Eugene and Smackdown offer us Kurt Angle vs Eddie Guerrero. Now these two are going to be for the wrestling purists, I feel (well, as close to “pure” wrestling as the WWE ever gets…).
Triple H vs Eugene has been built up in the age old fashion of story-telling: there has been friendship, betrayal, violence, revenge and idolism. Triple H despises Eugene for costing him victory in the recent 60 Minutes Iron Man Match on Raw vs Benoit, and his glaring and spittle-blowing whenever Eugene makes an appearance signals that the Cerebral Assassin conveys to me that old Triple H wants to dish out a beating on the luckless savant. He even took his revenge mercilessly on Eugene’s mentor, William Regal, in what turned out to be one of the most bloody, and fantastically acted, slugfests on Raw this year. But what of Eugene? The one thing that concerns me is that perhaps Eugene doesn’t really understand, or comprehend, or can imagine, the scale of this match. While Triple H is preparing old Sledgy for Eugene, I wonder is Eugene planning on making this a comedy match, with more rope-running and pretzelling? I hope not as any hint of fun at all would simply ruin this match. Classic wrestling from both wrestlers is all I ask.
Angle vs Guerrero, in the highly anticipated re-rematch from Wrestlemania XX should live long in the memory, both wrestlers are experienced – and talented – enough. However I think this may be a little plain, a little ordinary, if I say so myself. Guerrero has a hamstring injury, if I remember correctly, and Angle has just had the umpteenth neck operation and as a result, has to change his style. I think this will be a good 15 minutes non-stop mat wrestling extravaganza with Kurt Angle picking up the win. The only negative aspect to this match is that I just don’t feel betrayed that Angle was faking his being in a wheelchair all along. Perhaps I don’t feel as betrayed as I should be?
Edge defends his Intercontinental belt against Chris Jericho and Batista in a Triple-Threat match. Now I have never been a big fan of Triple-Threat matches, never have – never will: I just prefer one-on-one. But this match gives me something to get excited about. The little feud between Jericho and Edge has been simmering slowly yet plausibly for the last week or two, culminating in a very well acted Highlight Reel. Don’t forget that old Batista has also recently picked up a clean PPV win over Jericho, so you can’t rule him out, either. So what will happen? Well, for me, Edge just isn’t a face character, it’s just too easy to boo him, so I think WWE will go for a full-on heel turn mid-match. Edge and Batista will gang up on Jericho, Edge will win, and will then join Evolution. Maybe.
New Smackdown GM, Teddy Long, has started one of the most overdue processes in the WWE: he is adding prestige, class and worth to the badly damaged US Title Belt. Now, stripping Cena of the belt was a good idea, they just didn’t follow it up. Long has devised a “Best of 5” series to be crowned the title of “Undisputed United States Champion”. Nice. He has also chosen two of the most over wrestlers in the Smackdown locker-room in John Cena and Booker T. It really is a tough one to call, and that is good, but I can only really see John Cena picking up the title eventually, after a series of 4* matches against the Book-Man.
Kane squares off against the schoolgirl’s favourite, Matt Hardy, in one of the most innovative/stupid matches ever thought up: The “‘Til Death Do Us Part” match; winner marries Lita. I’ve already gone over this match last week (you would know this seeing as you’ve read it…), so I won’t linger on it too much.
The way I see it, there’s just one possible non-career wrecking angle the WWE can take. Now, if they actually have Kane win this match then we’ve got Kane marrying Lita, we’ve got a Kane vs Hardy custody battle, and potentially a never-ending simmering, brawling hatred between Kane and Hardy – and no one wants that. Hardy will win this match, Hardy will marry Lita, Hardy will be a father, and Kane…well, Kane will forget about this whole thing as the Big Red Machine will finally be granted his rightful elevation into the big time: as Shawn Michaels rushes down to ring and plants a Sweet Chin Music on Kane, allowing Hardy to win and rightfully boink Lita. Remember, it was Kane who destroyed Michaels with a chair a month back.
The Dudleyz have reformed! The Dudleyz have reformed! Lock up your daughters. Yup, Spike, Bubba and D’Von are back as they should be, as the irrepressible threesome, tables ‘n’ all. They are going nose to nose with Paul London, Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio. Now then, this match has the potential to be an absolute riot, a classic, and I think it very well may be. I expect this match to open Summerslam and set the pace; if Mysterio and London are on form then you’ve got the high flying moves, supported by the big strong Dudleyz who can propel them. I think The Dudleyz will lose this one, though – I think the WWE may just give credence to the Cruiserweights and the Tag Team Champions, all in one.
Lastly, we have the newly-announced Diva Dodgeball Match between 7 WWE Divas and 7 Diva Search wannabes. Now this, for me, is barely worthy of a spot on Raw. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that they are auditioning for a new Diva but none of them impress me that much. I also don’t think it’s right that these Diva Search girls are getting airtime ahead of the regular Divas. If I remember correctly, Dodgeball is where you throw balls at each other and if you’re hit, you’re out. There could be a silver lining for this match however: to me, it’s pretty clear that the Diva Search Diva who has impressed management the most will win at Dodgeball, and will then feel the wrath of the regular Divas. Victoria only won her contract because she took a bump through a table when she was part of the Ho-Train, and I think a similar thing will happen here. Molly, Jazz, Trish or Victoria will not like losing and will decimate one of these girls, and management will be looking to see whether that girl can sell or not.
Who will actually win Diva Search, you ask? I don’t know; I hope it isn’t Joy or Carmella (?), because they are just stupid eye candy. To be a Diva you’ve got to be able to powerslam someone so I’m plumping for that frisky looking red-head or that quiet, awkward looking blonde with the big arms.
Which match am I looking forward to most? JBL vs Undertaker.