Some of you out there who still email me from time to time might be wondering the reason why I stopped column writing back in early November. Well there were a few reasons really. I felt my columns were getting very stale and I was receiving very little feedback. I also had a few other more important things going on in my life than wrestling, which are still there. However they are not the main reason, far from it. The main reason was just generally due to the WWE’s lack of an interesting product. Nothing was motivating me to write so I stopped. However now I am back certainly for a one off anyway and maybe for more in the future.
I will get on to talking about the WWE later in the column, goodness knows there is a lot to talk about and they sure have certainly slipped back into old habits after a pretty encouraging Royal Rumble. However I would first like to touch on NWA-TNA and their product. Many of you who have previously read my columns will know that I didn’t talk much about TNA simply because I had not seen any of their product. Recently at a show of my local promotion the SWA I purchased the Turning Point PPV on DVD. I thought it was about time I got a taste of their product. After watching this I sure do have mixed views on their product especially on how it compares to the WWE’s. Some of the matches such as the six sides of steel were awesome and well put together but most of the other matches were horribly done I am afraid. WWE are clearly better at mapping out matches with their wrestlers. At times some of the lesser-known talent in TNA looked lost as to what to do next. I am sorry if any of you disagree with that comment but I am saying this having watched only one big PPV show from them so my opinion might change. One thing I have to say about storylines is that TNA is clearly better in terms of build up and in terms of PPV matches actually meaning something. For example the six sides of steel match had a 17-month build up where as many WWE PPV contests are thrown together on the previous Raw or Smackdown. On the other hand when it comes to wrestlers it is clear to me that the WWE sure as hell have the better group of grapplers if they choose to use them properly. They have a huge roster of decent guys that can fill PPV’s twice over. The problem is they don’t use them properly and we have big guys with no talent such as Snitsky all over PPV,s. TNA try and use their small talented pool of guys properly but it just doesn’t pay off in my view. Granted I sure need to watch more TNA to pass a proper judgment on them but from my first taste of their product they have a long way to go to catch up with WWE in terms of size, wrestlers and the way they produce their matches.
At the beginning of this column I mentioned the fact that the WWE were slipping back into old habits and they sure are. After an extremely successful Royal Rumble in which each match was hyped, built up and executed to near perfection we get No Way Out which as the PPV before Wrestlemania was nothing short of shocking. It really is about time WWE scrapped the PPV in between Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania as it always causes a disadvantage to one brand (usually Smackdown). Instead of looking ahead to Wrestlemania after the Royal Rumble Smackdown had to focus on No Way Out. The result was a PPV where there were only 3 matches that were PPV quality and where half the matches were announced the week before hand and had no meaning or purpose what so ever. The WWE are clearly falling back into old habits from last year of announcing matches for PPV’s the week before hand. I remember doing a whole editorial on this subject of PPV’s. No wonder the WWE is losing viewers if they don’t know how to produce a PPV properly. Fine I am pleased to see some decent build up to matches at Wrestlemania already but having good build up to a PPV once or twice a year is not good enough for a company WWE’s size. If they cannot build up a PPV properly then the simple solution is have less PPV’s.
Anyway after that short little rant on the WWE’s old habits which I felt I just had to put I am sorry lets get to the most important part of the column the Wrestlemania preview. Some of you might think it is a little early to do a Wrestlemania preview column but with most of the main matches at least pretty much set in stone I don’t see the problem with it. For some reason Wrestlemania seems a mixed bag to me this year. I just cannot be as excited as I should be about the show. Sure we have an entertaining ladder match to look forward to plus one or two other decent bouts but quite frankly the 2 main title matches to me are nothing to get excited about and wouldn’t look out of place to me on a normal one brand only PPV. It is also disappointing to see the way WWE are treating some of their titles. The tag team titles for instance might not be on the line at the event for either show and on Smackdown the champs look set to face each other. This is a far cry from Wrestlemania 2000 where the card was full of tag team matches and there was not one male singles match on the card. The cruiserweights are also still being treated very badly by WWE with a number one contenders match taking place on Velocity last week. It was good to see them get some airtime at NWO but even that was pretty pathetic. Also the IC title will not be on the line although with very little proper competition for Benjamin I see why WWE have opted to put him in the ladder match. Having said that lets have a look at what has been announced and rumored for the card so far.
World Heavyweight Championship Match
Triple H v Batista
Batista finally receiving the push here that his monster gimmick deserves. Build up has been pretty good and I like the idea of them picking each others opponents. Question is have the WWE prepared him properly. I say No. Sure he has competed in main events before such as at Survivor Series 2004 but this is Batista’s first actual main event singles match in a PPV and it is at Wrestlemania. I have seen some comments on this about the Internet over the past couple of weeks saying that the WWE are not worried about him but I am not so sure. I worry about his ability to put on the 25-30min matches that will be needed here. He is still very limited in the ring as far as I can see although to be fair his work has improved a lot since he started with Raw. Never the less look for HHH to control the majority of the match but with Batista coming out with the victory and Title in the end.
WWE Championship Match
JBL v John Cena
I am really surprised at how long JBL has held the belt for. At first I was one of his major critics because of his in ring ability but I grew to like him. One thing I do wish though is that the WWE could have put him over cleanly in just one big title defense. He has defeated almost every challenger with help from the cabinet. However it looks as though his reign is coming to end at Mania thanks to Cena. Some excellent stuff last week on Smackdown on this match and despite Cena’s lack of knowledge on how to build a proper match (which is similar to what Batista’s problem is) I still think his time has come to take the belt away from JBL.
6 Man Money in the bank Ladder Match for the No1 contender ship for the World Heavyweight Championship
Chris Jericho v Chris Benoit v Shelton Benjamin v Edge v Christian v Kane
If I do not order Wrestlemania, which currently I am not planning on doing this will be the one match that I will be sorely missing. I think Wrestlemania has been hurt over the past few years without a ladder match to look forward to so I am pleased to see it back. This match should be awesome and look for several holy s**t spots. Would love to see it get 40mins on the card. As far as I know the winner can use this contract anytime they want over the next year which means they could put themselves in the main event for Wrestlemania 22 or have the match on Raw the next night. Whoever wins a big thing needs to be made of the fact they are receiving the championship shot otherwise there will be little point to this match. As for who is going to win in my view it really must be a heel to feud with Batista after his rematch with HHH and the one name that stands out to me just now is Edge.
HBK v Kurt Angle
Another awesome prospect here and I hope it does not disappoint like Goldberg v Brock Lesnar did last year. Perhaps the best performer from both brands going at it here. Both men have impressed me a lot with their build up work for this match. I do wish Marty Jannetty would stay around longer. I would love to see The Rockers finally get the Tag Team Titles which they never won in the days the division was actually decent. Anyway if this is not match of the night it will be a close 2nd to the ladder match. Losing the match will not hurt either man but as a toss up I will go for Kurt Angle.
Randy Orton v The Undertaker
I read a column from CL Nubis saying he was looking forward to this match the least and I have to agree. I am sorry people but I totally hate the idea of this match. I am not in the least bit bothered about it. Randy Orton has been acting like a prick recently with all his backstage antics. I am not surprised he lost the main event slot but to put him against a huge veteran like Taker who will not stand for any crap in or out of the ring is stupid in my view. I would have preferred Orton to be part of that ladder match and have Taker and Kane team up like what was planned originally. The only thing that is remotely interesting is who wins. Does Orton continue his legend killer gimmick and end Taker’s run at Mania or does his massive and undeserved push come to an end at the hands of Taker. I am not a betting man but I will go for Taker.
Eddie Guerrero v Rey Mysterio
Why on earth are we having this match. These guys are actually Tag Team Champs for goodness sake yet the plan is for them to go against each other at Wrestlemania. If that was the plan all along then why the hell put the Championships on them. Call me stupid if you want but I just do not see the point of it. They could have kept the titles on The Bashams and had them defend against The Dudleys at Mania but No. I have no problem with these 2 going against each other but why can’t it just be a straight feud with nothing else involved. As for the winner I can see Rey winning here as he is apparently in for a push after Mania.
Paul London v Chavo Guerrero
Paul London won a No1 contenders match on Velocity last week incase you didn’t know. This all started at No Way Out when Chavo cheated London out of the Title. Since then apart from the odd run we have seen nothing from them. I hope The Cruiserweight Division gets spiced up as rumored after Wrestlemania as it really needs it. As far as this match goes I see London finally getting the Title he so richly deserves. Talent like him should not be wasted like they are at the moment.
Trish Stratus v Christy Hemme
Yes Trish is jealous because Christy is in Playboy yet it ends up being Christy making the challenge for the match. I am fed up of all these divas getting airtime instead of decent wrestlers like Regal and Tajiri. The only decent thing about this has been Lita’s return and even she has been in the news for wrong reasons recently. How the WWE thinks anyone is in the slightest bit interested who knows. Cannot see Christy winning the title so will go for Trish.
Piper’s Pit with Steve Austin
Hey there is nothing I like to see more than older wrestlers returning to spice things up a bit. This weeks episode of Raw was awesome for example, but why oh why do I get the feeling this is going to end up with Piper attacking Austin before getting stunnered. Seems pretty clear to me. Should also be interesting to see if either of them returns to actually wrestling.
Big Show v Akebono in a Sumo Match
What I want to know about this match is will it be scripted. If it is then I am sure Big Show will win but if not I can see Akebono winning easily at his own game. Should be fun though and I have no real problem with this match being on the card. It is more of a gimmick match like the Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 17. In the end though I will go for Show to win.
I understand also that Orlando Jordan v Booker T for the US Title is rumored which if true should be a good thing. As far as I know it would be the first time 2 black athletes were going head to head or one on one in a singles match at a WWE PPV. We have not seen any build up to this yet though so it is not definite. There could also still be room for one or two more matches on the card. Look for something involving Muhammed Hassan with the angle on Raw just now. I also think we might be subjected to Regal and Tajiri v La Resistance again which I hope doesn’t happen. On the Smackdown side there are still many guys such as The Bashams and Reigns and Jindrak without a match. In fact Reigns v Jindrak would be a good match to put on Heat in my opinion.
I hope Wrestlemania really produces this year because it is not the most appealing card in my view (just my opinion). I would have liked to have seen Foley in there against Hassan and maybe an appearance from The Rock but that’s just me. Hope everyone that orders the PPV enjoys it. Who knows I might be persuaded to order it in the two weeks we have left before the show.
To end my return column I would just like to take time to plug my local promotion the Scottish Wrestling Alliance’s (SWA) next show.
Name – Last Rites
The show is called Last Rites as I mentioned and it features the climax of the feud between NWA Scottish Heavyweight Champion and former WWE tryout Conscience and Eric The Fist Canyon when the two collide in a steel cage match for the title. Also confirmed is the beginning of an 8-team tournament to crown the first ever SWA Tag Team Championships. This will feature some of Britain’s finest teams such as Total Analiation, Gothika, The Lowlanders and The Ladykillers. Also featured are Team Canada and a team from NWA Ireland. For more information on this show go to www.swa.t2u.com. All in all it should be a superb show from a company that is becoming more popular all the time. I urge anyone near the area with an interesting in wrestling to go and check it out. This show is on April the 2nd and just now I would rather pay my money for this than Wrestlemania.
Well that’s it for my comeback edition of Off The Record, I hope you have enjoyed it. As I said for just now this is just a one off return but you never know what might happen in the future.
Send any feedback including your thoughts on Wrestlemania to firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report?