Welcome to my No Way Out preview. I don’t really have the time to get into why I’ve gone so long without writing (part boredom, part being busy), but I’m hoping to churn out columns on a consistent basis again starting with this preview. No more time wasting because I’ve got Valentine’s gifts to buy at the last minute. Without further Apu…
ECW Championship: Jack Swagger (c) vs. Finlay
I really like Jack Swagger a lot. I think he’s got the most potential out of any new WWE performer that has come into the company in the last two or three years. Basically since my boy MVP came in, but in Swagger’s case he’s younger with a better background too. I’m perfectly fine with him being groomed on the ECW show by wrestling veterans like Finlay, Tommy Dreamer and probably Christian at WrestleMania. The key thing is when he gets called up to one of the bigger two brands and how he’s used upon his arrival because when he gets there he needs a big push immediately. Why am I talking about this instead of the actual match? Because the match is very predictable. Swagger wins after a tough fight from Finlay in about ten minutes.
Winner: Jack Swagger
All Or Nothing Match: Shawn Michaels vs. John Bradshaw Layfield
I’ve had mixed feelings on this feud from the beginning. On the one hand, the idea that Shawn Michaels could blow all his money is pretty ludicrous even considering the bad shape of today’s economy. I mean, even the average dumb fan has to know that a guy in his position has been making well over a million dollars annually for the past six years at least, not to mention the ones before that. On the other hand, these two are both good enough actors (for wrestling) and talkers that they could get people to buy into whatever story they’re trying to tell. That’s why my feeling on this has gone from “oh this is ridiculous” to “hey it’s not that bad” and now we’re getting the payoff match. I’m sure some think it’s a month early, but for me it’s fine because now there’s a chance for Michaels vs. Undertaker to happen at WrestleMania for the first time ever on the grandest stage (more on that in a future column). Oh yeah, the actual match? I think Michaels has to win and he probably will because I think they realize this angle has gone as far as it really can without becoming even phonier. It will be interesting to see how the match is in terms of quality because as good as Michaels is you can tell he’s slowing down while JBL is in better shape than he was a year ago, but not exactly a workhorse in there. The moment when Michaels kicks him in the head will be great to see. I’m sure they’ll do a good job building up that. That’s what his match is about, that one moment.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
No Holds Barred: Shane McMahon vs. Randy Orton
The most ridiculous thing that happened in WWE over the past month was when Shane McMahon charged the ring against Raw’s most vicious heel and made that heel retreat. Not just one guy, though, he made three guys retreat. A 39-year-old that’s not a full time wrestler beat up the best heel in the company (arguably) along with his Legacy group that will carry WWE storylines for the next year. Must be nice to have the last name of McMahon, huh? Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with Randy Orton vs. Shane McMahon due to Randy kicking Vince in the head, but they could have had a better first altercation. Those rabbit punches by Shane that looked like a ten year old nerd kid trying to attack the bigger bully were terrible. Worst of all, he looked winded throwing the punches. To Shane’s credit, he does usually come up big when it comes to PPV matches, so I’m expecting a watchable match. However, if something other than a dominant win by Randy Orton happens then this company really doesn’t have a clue. It has to be a clear win with no help from his group. Just Randy beating the crap out of a valiant Shane, who doesn’t know when to quit until he gets beaten so bad that he loses. It’s a simple story. Don’t get cute with the booking. Remember the KISS formula: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Winner: Randy Orton
WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Edge (c) vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Triple H vs. The Undertaker vs. Big Show vs. Vladimir Kozlov
This is the better of the two EC matches because of the people involved in it. I have to say I’m disappointed in Kozlov as a worker because I thought he’d be better than what he is. I guess he’s nothing more than a physical raw athlete that has had a hard time adapting to what WWE performers do. Big Show’s somebody I enjoy because he plays his role perfectly. Undertaker seems healthy and motivated again with WrestleMania around the corner, so he should bring the goods too. You know what you’ll get out of Edge, Hardy and HHH because they’re all consistently very good. What I like about EC matches is that you know they’re going to get a lot of time to tell a story with each person getting their chance to shine. Unlike the Raw match, the average fan probably believes somebody other than Edge is going to win. That’s good. You want that. That’s how you generate buys for a show that’s asking people to spend $40 or more depending on your service. With that said, it’s still going to be a victory for Edge. I think Kozlov, Hardy and Show are the first three eliminated with Matt Hardy possibly making an appearance to somehow screw his brother. Maybe when Kozlov is eliminated the cage opens up, Hardy streaks in and smacks his brother with a brutal chair shot that leads to the opportunist Edge to eliminate Jeff? That would work. It will most likely come down to Undertaker, HHH and Edge as the final three. The odds are against the champion to retain the title, but somehow he’ll overcome it to leave the ring still the champion. I think Undertaker’s moving on to a dream match against Michaels at Mania while Edge and HHH will face eachother, so they’ll plant that big seed here with this match. Should be 30 minutes of fun with the champ, my boy Edge, retaining.
World Heavyweight Title Elimination Chamber Match: John Cena (c) vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Mike Knox
Yes! Finally the most exciting wrestler in the business is going to headline WrestleMania like he deserves! Mike Knox is winning the title in this match! Feel the excitement! Uh…what? You mean he’s not exciting, deserving or entertaining? Right, I forgot.
I’ve got no real beef with Kingston, Kane, Mysterio or Knox, but does anybody think they have an even remote chance of winning this match? Even if Cena and Jericho got injured so bad during the match that they couldn’t move I doubt Vince would want to put the title on any one of those guys. That’s a problem. If you’re going to put the title on the line in a match like this you have to put believable challengers in there. I know the Raw side is handicapped a bit because Orton, Michaels and JBL are being used in other matches, but they couldn’t get CM Punk for this? At least he’s a former champion. Mysterio’s a former champion as well although he’s been booked so poorly on the Raw side that you’d never know it. Yes Vince, he’s small and big guys like to pick on little guys. We’ve seen the story enough over the years. Something different, please? The predictability of this match is what will kill it. When somebody gets a nearfall on Cena will the fans totally buy it? I doubt it. That’s not to say that Cena winning is a bad move. It’s the right move clearly. It’s also one that will lead to a very basic and possibly boring Elimination Chamber match despite the fact that Kingston’s an exciting talent, Mysterio’s usually very good, Jericho’s arguably the best wrestler in the company and Cena’s pretty damn great on PPVs as long as he’s not against JBL. I don’t think it will be a bad match necessarily, but if you’re expecting the best EC match ever you’ll probably be disappointed.
Sorry for the jokes, Mike Knox. I love the beard. So does Joaquin Phoenix.
Winner: John Cena
I’m a big fan of Elimination Chamber matches even in the new PG version of WWE that doesn’t allow blood. I hate the blood ban because a match like the Elimination Chamber could really use some blood to help tell the story. My problem with the matches this year is that the outcomes seem too predictable this time around. If something happens other than Edge and Cena retaining I’ll be very surprised while also critical of a stupid booking move. (For the record, having HHH win and having Orton challenge him because they reveal that HHH is married to Stephanie would be foolish because we’ve seen HHH vs. Orton far too much.) The Smackdown title has changed hands way too much in the past few months. That hurts the match that will happen at WrestleMania on that side, which I assume will be Edge defending against HHH. I also dislike how a guy like HHH will get a title shot at Mania even though he didn’t win the Rumble or win here like I’m assuming. The idea that the babyface has to chase the heel champion is long gone from today’s WWE, which is a shame. How can we become sympathetic towards the babyface that gets a legit shot every single month? It’s hard to ask fans to crow about how unfair things are for their hero when they always get the shot. It’s wrestling booking 101. Maybe that’s a column for another time.
I’m hoping to be back with more columns every week (most likely on Thursdays) from now until WrestleMania. I’ll be using the next week or so to write quite a bit because I’ve got some time off and there’s no time like the present to get back into the swing of things. Of course I’ve had visions of writing regularly for many months now, so I’m not going to guarantee that I’ll be able to do it again.
Some column ideas I have churning in my head:
– The pros and cons of the Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak.
– A listing of new Hall of Famer Steve Austin’s 25 Greatest WWE matches that I’ve had in the works for seven years.
– How much the wrestling business has changed in the ten years I’ve spent writing about it online.
– A look back at my 20 Ideas for WWE to Consider column from late September to see if change has happened in the last five months.
If you’ve got an idea for something you want me to write about I’d love to see it. Send me an email at the address you see below. In the meantime, enjoy the show, have a Happy Valentine’s Day (or Night like I plan to) and go see The Wrestler if you haven’t seen it yet because it’s a terrific movie. Every wrestling fan should check it out.
Smell ya later,
John C. – firstname.lastname@example.org
MSN: email@example.com – Do not email me here!
Visit My Archives to view nine years of columns from over the years. If you’re feeling nostalgic about WrestleMania I think you’ll enjoy my Best and Worst of WrestleManias Past column from two years ago.