Chris Cash: We have three “Championship Scrambles” and it’s safe to assume that at least one is going to change hands this Sunday. Call me a little premature, but I am going to play that card in this match. I don’t think they give it to Kane or Rey Mysterio at this point and JBL has lost so much lately, I have a hard time saying he could win. That leaves Batista, so I guess I go with him. I also think if they leave the strap on him long enough (which I’m sure they will), it can lead to Batista vs John Cena again down the road, yet this time for the strap.
Nick Paglino: Let me be the first to say that I don’t consider the Scramble idea to be as “sacrilegious” as everyone else in the internet wrestling community seems to think it is. One of the main reasons why I like the idea is because it is allowing talent like Rhodes, DiBiase, Cryme Tyme, Kendrick, Benjamin, etc a chance to perform on a PPV that they might otherwise be deprived of. That said, I think Punk is going to retain in this one. Creative did too damn good of a job teasing Orton vs Punk on Raw last week to strip him of the title and move in a different direction. The only other guy I could possibly see taking this thing is Batista, as the other participants don’t seem ready for a title run at this point.
Eric Stein: As I touched on in my column this week, I am the counterpoint to Nick on these scramble matches. I hate the concept and I hate the timing of them even more. The match is inherently designed for the purpose of allowing quickie title changes, yet I honestly feel as if on paper all 3 champs should be retaining. I will echo the sentiment that Punk & Batista are out two choices here – after all, Batista is the most over guy they have and he cleaned pinned Cena last month. But Punk retains. Throughout the next few months, Batista’s frustration will grow until ultimately Batista massacres Punk…but that’s a bit down the road still.
Bill Behrens: Batista beat Punk in around three minute a while back in a dark match. I see a title change to Batista, but would not be surprised if they went with JBL, as it’s always easier to book babyfaces chasing heels. They’ve had JBL go under at least twice on TV to the GTS, so his win would surprise, and from most reactions in this roundtable piss us off at least.
Scott Hudson: Punk has been slowly, painfully slowly, building credibility as champion. Obviously not his fault but he is only now being taken seriously as a champion. Since there has not been a significant decrease in business (significant being the key word), there is no “business” reason to take the strap from him. My pick is that Punk retains for these reasons: (1) He has not negatively impacted ratings or house shows and (2) it would further the storyline to keep the strap on him. Mysterio has a “been-there-done-that” feel about him as does Batista. JBL is a joke who should be out of wrestling as soon as possible. Kane is just, with all due respect, not over enough to have a run with the belt. I’ll stick with Punk.
Triple H vs MVP vs Jeff Hardy vs Shelton Benjamin vs The Brian Kendrick
Chris: If CM Punk didn’t lose the strap, I could definitely see them going with MVP in this match – possibly even Hardy. I think they are still holding out on Hardy for a while longer though, so it basically leaves MVP in my book if they were going to switch the title. I don’t see that happening yet, so I say it stays with Hunter. I know I didn’t mention the other two and there’s a reason for that.
Nick: This is the Scramble match that although I think could be very exciting, seems the most predictable to me. For reasons stemming from personal to creative, no one besides HHH seems to be a logical choice for the winner here. MVP is apparently in the dog house right now as he jobbed to Benjamin on Smackdown in 4 minutes this past Friday night. I don’t think creative trusts Hardy enough to put the strap on him, as he’s subject to termination if he screws up one more time. Benjamin is a great US Champ, but he’s still Shelton Benjamin, and I doubt creative is going to have a guy they’ve been holding back for years emerge as a double champion. This leaves Kendrick, and again I don’t see creative being gutsy enough to put the strap on a guy that’s still in the phase of winning 2 minute squashes. The other thing to consider here, however, is that The Undertaker may be wrestling the winner of this match at the end of the night. So if someone other than Triple H does come out with the title, that could very well be an interim situation until he meets ‘Taker at the end of the night. So my prediction is if anyone other than Trips wins the belt tonight, The Undertaker will be the new Champion before the show goes off the air.
Eric: Color me an idiot, but mark my words…THIS is the one scramble that will end in a title change. Why? Because it’d be the biggest surprise (which in turn, puts over the scramble-ness of the match). Let’s fast forward to 19:30 of this match….Triple H or Hardy hit a finisher on one of the heels, a second heel sneaks up behind the face and clothesline them both over the top, the third and final remaining heel wakes up from semi consciousness, looks around, realizes what’s happening, crawls on top of the fallen heel and gets the shocking 3 count! Then fast forward to one hour and 52 minutes into this week’s SD! to see that champion-holding heel get pedigree’d and lose the title back in a 30 second squash.
Bill: Either Triple H retains or a Hardy win. Both go into this strong off the most recent Smackdown episode with HHH over Khali, and Hardy hitting HHH with his finish post match. That sorta sets the focus. I see HHH retaining.
Scott: HHH doesn’t need the belt to be over (yeah, I know, that’s never stopped him before). Kendrick and Benjamin, who are both improving tremendously, are just simply not ready. They will be soon – but not now. MVP did something to piss somebody off so, despite the fact he would otherwise be my pick, he’s not getting it. That leaves Hardy. The walking, talking personal demon (hey, there’s a nickname for him). It might be time to relight the fire under the Jeff Hardy push that was extinguished with his most recent suspension. The end of the match may have both Hardy’s with World belts (much like Benoit and Guerrero – with hopefully much different results).
Mark Henry vs Matt Hardy vs The Miz vs Finlay vs Chavo Guerrero
Chris: I know Nick may hate this (especially when he has to agree), but Henry has done a very respectable job as Champion and although everyone can see the inevitable Matt Hardy win sooner or later, I hope they decide to choose later in this match and have Henry retain. Hardy needs to win it one on one and I think you’ll see that happen. Henry retains here.
Nick: As I am swallowing my tongue, I will say that Henry has done a great job as the ECW Champion since winning the title. I think creative sees that, and they also recognize that this may be his final major stint with the company. So as Chris said, Henry retains here because he almost has to. I can’t believe I just wrote all of that. I’m wearing a Tony Atlas mask and a sleevless shirt as I sit here and type.
Eric: I don’t see many options here…3.5 of the 4 challengers really don’t deserve a world title run. I will give Matt Hardy a .5 credit, but I hardly think a Hardy title run would inspire me. It’ll never happen, but I’d like to see a 4 man squash, with Henry just burying them and leaving a pile of bodies behind. Then, let’s have someone who is a little lost on one of the others shows come over and challenge. This batch of opponents just doesn’t convince me that they are viable threats to the World’s Strongest Ten Year Multi-Million Dollar Contract.
Bill: Story here is Mark Henry vs Matt Hardy which explains why the two other most popular babyfaces in ECW Tommy Dreamer and Evan Bourne are not in the match. All eyes on the underdog babyface Hardy. I see a Hardy win.
Scott: Sorry Nick and Chris but, even though I agree that Henry has been shockingly effective in his role as champion, he should not retain. Chavo had his shot, Finlay, unfortunately, is more of a novelty act (much like Henry) and The Miz, well, he’s The Miz. That leaves Matt Hardy who I feel has earned the shot and is my pick. I realize its more of a process of elimination rather than having a good reason for Hardy to win – but whatareyagonnado.
Michelle McCool vs Maryse
Chris: If this was Neidhart, I may have to call another title change, but given that it’s Maryse this month, I don’t see them putting the title on her yet. She’s not the stand-out heel on Smackdown, so why would you give her the strap? McCool retains if for no other reason than her relationship with the Undertaker. Clout, my friends. That’s all you need.
Nick: What Chris said. McCool has the personality of a moth and Maryse has the personality of McCool, so this is a lose-lose situation for everyone involved here. This should have been McCool vs Natalya or Victoria, and since Maryse has not made a connection with the audience yet and McCool is at the very least hot, she’ll retain here. Besides, has she even defended the title yet since winning it?
Eric: I’m actually one of the rare few that is glad that women’s wrestling has been legitimized. However, in this case, it’s actually a real shame as this would have made a much better Bra & Panties match than wrestling match. Plus, Maryse could have taken the strip well. Instead, she’ll take the mediocre leglock for a standard McCool retaining affair.
Bill: Fit Finlay will do another great job laying out a good Divas match. McCool will win it. Match will go 6-7 minutes.
Scott: I could not agree more. McCool is one domestic spat away from the unemployment line. Maryse – wo is she with? Did I miss a memo? This is obviously a throwaway match in a division that is spiraling downward. I’ll pick McCool but I’ll close with Viva Natalya!
DiBiase/Rhodes vs Cryme Tyme
Chris: It’s a shame this match doesn’t mean quite as much as it should. They’ve buried both teams in recent weeks and although this past Monday with the Orton segment in the back may be proof that WWE plans on changing that, it’s going to take consistency in this division before people come around and start caring. Speaking of Orton, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he has some involvement in this match. Regardless, I see DiBiase and Rhodes going over in this one and here’s to hoping WWE adds a little bit of creativity and support to the tag team division from here on out.
Nick: With only 6 matches announced on the card, with the possibility of The Undertaker being added in some sort of capacity, this match better go the distance. I don’t want to see a 6-7 minute bout in place of a solid 12-15 minute match that could really put these two teams over. The problem is that I don’t think creative views Cryme Tyme as wrestlers, but much more so as entertainers. They still want to put them over as credible contenders, and may want to draw this feud out a bit considering there are no other tag teams around for miles on Raw, so I see this one being quick rather than long, with possible interference from Orton to help his buddies, and Rhodes and DiBiase retain.
Eric: This match is all about the money, money, money….Simply Priceless vs Simply Worthless. Sorry, I couldn’t resist such an easy line. I actually don’t mind Cryme Tyme, but if they were to win, who would they even defend against? So it’s pointless. The booking for Priceless has been very poor thus far…never job the tag champs to John Cena in a 2 on 1 match, especially ones you plan to branch off as singles wrestlers. I don’t see any real advantage to Cryme Tyme winning here and they won’t.
Bill: Rhodes and DiBiase win. Cryme Time entertains. I guess Orton could get involved but I wonder why as that doesn’t help the heels much. Likely there will just be a backstage vignette pre or post match.
Scott: This is the sleeper match of the show. With Michaels’ injury and the odd concept of the scrambles, this one has all the potential to be one of those “I never saw it coming” type things. Rhodes and DiBiase need a great deal more personality but they’re both young enough to grow into that part of the business. Their work is terrific and they should carry Cryme Tyme to a much better than expected match. I’ll agree that Orton will interfere and cause a screwjob victory for DiBiase & Rhodes. May we see the beginnings of the rumored Generations faction of Orton, Rhodes, DiBiase & Snuka? As an aside, since the tag team division is in the tank, how about Charlie Haas comes out ever week as his favorite tag team from the 80’s and 90’s? One week he’s High Energy, the next week he is Harlem Heat, etc.
Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho
Chris: This match is the reason I am excited to watch this pay per view. Michaels and Jericho is by far the best thing in professional wrestling today and thankfully, Michaels’ injury was not as bad as first expected. Logic would say Michaels needs to get one over on Jericho and I think that’s the way they go with this one. It may still end in a controversial way though, such as HBK beating Jericho the way Jericho did in their last encounter. This feud still has a lot of legs and I hope WWE realizes that. Michaels goes over.
Nick: This is of course the match to watch tonight. It’s the feud to have been watching all year, and will go down as one of the best modern feuds in professional wrestling even if it ends tonight. I fear WWE may blow this angle off tonight as Michaels may need some rest due to his triceps scare last week on Raw. Much like Chris said, I don’t see this one ending with a superkick and a pin, but more so with someone simply beating the other within an inch of his life. My guess is it will be Michaels as I think the audience at this point is just dying to see Jericho get ass kicked.
Eric: This is gonna be good. Really good. Are we entirely sure what an unsanctioned match consists of? I’m not really. So, I’m envisioning a brutal, Falls Count Anywhere, Last Man Standing type of match. But I don’t think we see the end of this until at least Survivor Series. So how can this be sustained? Jericho can run away, which would really put heat on him. Jericho could weasel his way into another win? Seems less likely. How about a double KO in which neither man can continue? I’ll vote that last option…but fear not, Michaels will get in that Sweet Chin Music in the center of the ring eventually…just not tonight.
Bill: Key here is for Michaels to be denied his revenge unless they blow the whole angle off for him to take time off for health related reasons. I think this feud will continue. I wouldn’t be surprised by a DQ finish or even a count-out. Yes it would piss the crowd and most viewers off, but it would just add to the desire of seeing the babyface beat the heel once and for all, in a match where it has to end.
Scott: Agreed. Michaels needs to go over here but since this feud is the only thing storyline-wise the WWE has that’s hot, they should somehow let Jericho keep his heat. Obviously a Cade run-in or something would accomplish that. Dare I suggest that at Cyber-Sunday we see Jericho & Cade against Michaels & …..Nash?
Bill: Sorry Scott, I don’t see Nash in WWE
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