Our No Way Out predictions have nothing to do with the Kevin Costner film

Sidekick Andrew - Well, here’s one that the internet will no doubt be *very* excited about. Two “comic relief” wrestlers in a comedy gimmick match – this has five star classic written all over it. Of course, sarcasm aside, this could be at least fun – assuming you can sit back and not take wrestling too seriously. It’s not been put on to impress with hold and counter hold, insane lucha flips or hardcore bumps – it’s put on for the “entertainment” part of sports entertainment and will hopefully fulfill that role adequately.

That said, the obvious choice for this is Santino to win and embarrass Rodriguez again. It’s not often that heels will win a match with this kind of stipulation.

Boss Lady Rae:  “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun aaaaand SNAP! The job’s a game!” Words of wisdom from that great philosopher Mary Poppins there. One of the things we noticed while we took a little break is just how seriously we had started to take wrestling. That’s not to say we don’t stand by all our more serious points from the past, or that we won’t be making serious points again in the near future. But we definitely forgot some of the fun.

This “match” is pure fun and I’m kind of looking forward to it. The crowd love Santino’s foolin’ and Ricardo’s antics over the past few weeks have rivalled his opponent’s for laffs. It seems obvious that Santino will win, and I believe he’ll win the war. But because I think they’ll string this out a little longer, I’ll say that Ricardo’s got this battle won. If only to reward his wicked Sheamus impression.

Sidekick Andrew - Given more than five minutes, this could be a pretty enjoyable match. Both wrestlers are more than capable of impressing, and we’re fans of both here in the Bunker. In fact *ahem* you could say I’m torn between the two…

 Gratuitous links? We got ‘em!

Anyway, now that unpleasantness is over with, my prediction. Pretty sure Layla is going to keep the title tonight. She’s not had it long and there’s still mileage in pushing her as champion. If Kharma is on her way back (as indicated on twitter this week) then Beth doesn’t need the title just yet as there’s (hopefully) a feud on it’s way for her.

Boss Lady Rae: I won’t lie, the girl crush I developed on Layla before injury sent her packing for a year is back with a vengeance.  Chances of me betting against her at the moment are pretty slim, so I won’t. Layla will win. I’m definitely not torn between them. *ahem* Having said that, I agree with my colleague. Given more than a couple of minutes this could be a great match. We can but hope.

Sidekick Andrew - I still can’t bring myself to get excited about a Christian match. I know people love him, but he just bores me so much. On the other hand, Cody is always great to watch so there’s a chance the match should be watchable at least. Honestly, I can’t think of much else to say about this one. So I hope you’ll accept this photo of Cody eating chicken with a lady as recompense.


 Christian’s probably going to win this by the way…

Boss Lady Rae: Cody Rhodes has been kind of a revelation lately. I spent years passing him off as dull mid-card fodder. Then the Wrestlemania run-up kicked in and I started warming to him. I lost a lot of the enjoyment I got out of Christian’s stories after the hullaballoo following his lost title last year. Hopefully Cody can inject some interest into this one and swipe the belt back. 

Sidekick Andrew -
Punk vs Bryan?
Well, we all know how good that can be.

Punk vs Bryan vs Kane?
Hmm… suddenly I’m not so sure about this match.

Punk vs Bryan vs Kane (with added crazy AJ)?
Yep, that’ll do!

Is it strange that in a match containing two of the best wrestlers in the world, and one of the best “monsters” in the world, the deciding factor in this one for me is AJ? Rae and myself have spent the last week gushing over how well AJ is playing her character at the moment, questionable “I Dig Crazy Chicks” shirts aside. It really does seem like the role she was born to play, with small details like the way she reacted to the crowd’s chants on Monday showing that she’s the skill to improvise rather than just being well written.

I’m a big fan of Punk and Bryan, and I’ll always have a soft spot for Kane. Adding AJ into the mix is just the stupidly cute cherry on the top. As for a winner? Oh, let’s say Punk wins and retains the belt (and hopefully changes it for something more tasteful soon.)

Boss Lady Rae: I’ve observed some chatter about how sexist AJ’s current character apparently is. Trust me. I’m usually the first to jump on this shit. And yeah, it would be lovely if there were more big female characters unconnected to men. (I have an updated Eve piece in the works. Shhh.) But AJ’s done such a brilliant job of playing the lunatic ex-girlfriend, it’s lovely to see a well developed female character, regardless of the situation.

The 4-way banter between Punk, Bryan, Kane and AJ on this week’s Raw was brilliant and long may it continue. I’m not sure why Kane has become involved with this story beyond adding an extra string to its creative bow, but I’m pretty sure he isn’t winning any titles tonight. Keep the title on Punk’s waist and keep this thing going. I flippin’ love it.

Sidekick Andrew - It shouldn’t be any surprise which of these two wrestlers is my favourite. Sheamus is (kind of) local, talented, surprisingly huge and with a charisma and look that stand him apart from the rest of the roster. But he’s no Dolph Ziggler…

Straight as I am, no man can make me swoon like Dolph comes out to the ring. I Am Perfection? Yes you are sir, yes you are. We’ve been singing his praises for what seems like years now at Wrestlegasm, and he hasn’t lost any of his appeal, even if he did lose some momentum along the way. Back in the title picture due to Del Rio’s unfortunate concussion, I’m going to predict that Ziggler will be the (perhaps unlikely) winner tonight. There is precedent for last minutes replacements to win titles on PPV with Johnny Nitro taking the title in a match with Punk after Benoit did, well… you know. Plus Ziggler deserves a second title run, and one that lasts slightly longer than 11 minutes and 23 seconds.

Boss Lady Rae: This is by far the most tantalising match on the card, and this is a show where Punk and Bryan are going at it again. Sheamus is absolutely on fire at the moment, which is nice to see considering he spent the best part of a year in the doldrums. We’re also delirious that Dolph Ziggler, our top bloke of 2011, is getting a title shot. He’s more than paid his dues in the mid-card and he’s long overdue another jump to the top. I suppose he has Alberto Del Rio and Randy Orton to thank for this one, but it’s not how opportunities arise, it’s what you do with them when you get them. I think Sheamus is keeping the title for now, but the idea these two might get a long title run out of someone else’s misfortune is absolutely delicious.  YUM!

Sidekick Andrew - This is unfortunately another match that I’m struggling to get excited about. I’m not a Cena hater like a lot of people, but he needs someone great to go against, and Big Show just isn’t that great.

Oh grow up…

The added stipulations would seem to suggest that Cena is winning this. Certainly Laurinitis getting fired makes more sense that Cena getting fired. Except for the fact that Cena getting fired is about as permanent as Superman dying or me deciding to stop eating bacon sandwiches for breakfast. Add in the fact that Cena is going through a divorce at the moment and this could end up being a chance for him to take some much deserved time off.

What I’m positive we will see is one of Cenas patented feats of strength. I wouldn’t be surprised if Laurinitis or Otunga gets involved at some point, and I also wouldn’t be surprised if Cena manages to get Big Show and Otunga/Laurinitis up for a double Attitude Adjustment. I’m going to go with Big Show winning this one, although I’m conscious that betting against Cena is always a bad idea.

Boss Lady Rae: It’s no secret that John Cena’s been having a tough time lately. A little light relief was in order and, honestly, there’s nothing to be taken less seriously than a run with Big Show. If you like Big Show as a face, hang on a few months and he’ll turn into a happy chappy. Like him as a heel? Hold out a little while and he’ll be the black-bearded bad guy again. It’s all veh silly.

The stipulation that would leave Laurinaitis out of a job is the basis of this whole story and, with Vince back on the scene this week and HHH showing up tomorrow, it would seem pretty likely that John Cena’s got this one in the kitbag. Dude, you never bet against Cena.

A Song for Whoever: Claudio Castagnoli/Antonio Cesaro & WWE/TNA/World Peace etc Edition

RAE: Whatever their wrestling background, when performers get called up to the WWE, a certain amount of ‘bedding in’ takes place. And it’s not exclusively reserved for the kids cherry-picked out of the thousands waving their arms in the air screaming ‘choose me!’. Even big fish in smaller ponds are expected to transition into the WWE style. And why not? There’s no point in having a global brand if you’re going to say ‘hey, just do whatever you like.’ Easy, tigers. I’m not saying everyone has to look and wrestle the same way; just that there have to be recognisable notes that pull all the individuality together.

When Bryan Danielson morphed into a the initial Daniel Bryan character, he spent a short spell in developmental before playing out a season on NXT. Danielson had such a genuine, indie geek-boy persona that WWE played it up rather than trying to turn him into an out of place bronzed adonis. It was a smart move. Although, I’m pretty sure he’s been dabbling with the Garnier Summer Body Creme lately and he definitely seems less of a quirky novelty than when he first arrived. He’s put his roots down.

Aww, bless.

In Bryan’s case, the tactic worked. Alberto Del Rio also managed the transition from Mexican hero to smooth talking WWE main eventer pretty easily. But for every success there are countless guys and girls who haven’t gelled with the WWE house style. Sin Cara was the exciting signing who’s stalled time and time again. I worry for my beloved Mason Ryan/Barri Griffiths who, despite bypassing NXT and jumping straight to the big leagues, seems to have dropped back into developmental. Maybe he needs a little more time.

There is, however, someone who seems to have gone from FCW to Smackdown with such ease it appears he was made for it: Claudio Castagnoli or, as he’s now known, Antonio Cesaro. Impossible to mention either name without rapidly fluttering my hand against my chest and exclaiming that my beating heart should be still.  Girly crushes aside, it’s bizarre how quickly Claudio seems to have become part of the furniture. Even during his first fleeting Smackdown appearance as Aksana’s rugby playing old pal, he seemed a natural WWE fit. Ah yes. Switzerland. That noble rugby playing nation. Hah! Still, you can’t deny he looks beefy enough to have chased the egg.

Poor ole Teddy

Claudio/Antonio’s match participation has been minimal so far, but those of us who followed his career before the magic phone call know his in-ring skills more than match his physical stature. And we know he pulls off a mean promo. That’s what makes his steady ascent so finger-tremblingly exciting. It’s like feeling the low rumble of an earthquake waiting for the right time to let rip.

The only question mark over Claudio’s move to the big time was whether his unmistakable presence would transfer to the much bigger WWE arenas. Maybe it’s difficult to separate giddy fan from logical thinker, but he certainly fills my screen every time he appears on it. So if it’s all the same with you, I’ll keep holding on to the walls. This one’s for you, ‘former rugby play’…

ANDREW: I’ve no doubt that it’s been prompted by the Avengers film, but I’m going through a comic phase at the moment. I don’t know if it works the same way for everyone but each of my more geeky interests seems to come and go in waves. Whether it’s wrestling, video games, comics… I’ll go for months showing hardly any interest then binge for weeks on end; endlessly devouring DVDs of obscure indie promotions, forcing myself to collect that one last memory fragment in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations or (as was the case this month) ploughing through Marvel’s expansive Civil War and Fear Itself storylines.

People much more knowledgable, intelligent and talented than me have written before about the glaringly obvious parallels between wrestling and comic books. Both looked on as lesser forms of entertainment. Both focussing for the main on interweaving, overly wordy storylines punctuated by periods of graphic violence. The masks… the starkly drawn good guys and bad guys… the improbable physiques… oh, and the ridiculously sexist costumes of course.

Another common factor is the distribution of power in both fields. Both the wrestling and comic book industries are essentially ruled (in the west at least) by two major companies, WWE/TNA and Marvel/DC respectively. Below them there are a number of smaller companies carving out their own share of the market. In wrestling you have the larger independents such as ROH, CHIKARA and PWG, while in comics you have companies such as Image and Wildstorm selling an edgier product to a smaller audience.

While these smaller companies are generally happy to share talent the big two in each field are usually more exclusive. Indie wrestlers are, for the most part, free to work in whichever promotion they like, and while they may change it slightly they are able to take their character with them. The same happens with smaller comic companies, where crossover events and guest stars from another companies line aren’t seen as a rarity. However, when it comes to Marvel (owner of the Avengers, Spider-Man and the X-Men to name a few) and DC (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman etc) this is a much less exected occurence, as indeed it is with the WWE and TNA…

Never say never…

…especially in wrestling

Yes, the big wrestling story this week was Christian’s appearance at TNA Slammiversary. Apparently a reciprocal deal for Ric Flair’s involvement in the 2012 Hall of Fame ceremony, the idea of a current WWE title holder being allowed to appear at a TNA PPV is quite amazing. As a fan it’s great to think that this is even possible, and the temptation is to wonder whether this could mean anything going forward? Will there be a new working relationship between the two companies? Will we see more TNA stars on WWE shows and vice versa? Will we finally see Sting recognised in the WWE Hall of Fame?

I know Dixie, they’re just “roomers” aren’t they?

Yep, that’s TNA’s official YouTube channel showing that they don’t listen to nasty roomers like that. In the long run this means nothing, but it happened, and we were there to see it. Well, when I say “we” I don’t mean Rae and myself. We’re not going to sit around watching TNA when there’s some paint drying in the south wing of the WrestleBunker. What do you think we are? Masochists?

Anyway, in the spirit of harmony and coexistence here’s to you TNA and WWE. It’s always nice (if disappointingly rare) to be surprised by wrestling, but the fact that the two of you could do something like this show’s a side of you that isn’t as petty and childish as we have come to expect. And that was a surprise…