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.

Elimination Chamber Predictions: now with 33.333% extra terrible wrestlers!

Due to a number of factors (illness, real life work, school holidays and at least one unexpected trek through the Amazon in search of the fabled golden skull of Mezzakin the Unwise) these predictions will be a more compact and bijou affair than usual. Compact and bijou – can you tell I’ve been dealing with estate agents recently? Anyway, with that preemptive disclaimer out of the way and my cocktail cabinet fully stocked, let’s do the whole “predicting predetermined pretend pugilism” thing!

Well.. I *say* cocktail cabinet...

Beth Phoenix vs Tamina Snuka

A Diva’s PPV match featuring two women who can wrestle! Not only that, but Tamina has now progressed to the upper echelon of the WWE Women’s Division – a distinction shown by the fact she now has a surname. This could be a really enjoyable match, assuming they are given the time to tell a proper story, and they keep the interference (and hilarious fart jokes) to a minimum. It’s no secret that we love Beth here in the Bunker, but we’re both agreed that it’s time for a change in the run up to Wrestlemania, and that Tamina will take the belt tonight.

Rae’s Prediction: Tamina Snuka
Andrew’s Prediction: Tamina Snuka

John Cena vs Kane

This is apparently an Ambulance Match, so promises to be pretty brutal at least. Kane has experience in this type of match, in fact I’ve still fond memories of his Ambulance Match with Shane McMahon from Survivor Series 2003.

As for who’s going to win, Cena is always the obvious choice for winning a PPV match, and I have to agree that he’s probably going to win here. Unless they want Kane to interfere in the Rock-Cena match at Wrestlemania they have to bring this feud to an end soon.

Rae’s Prediction: John Cena
Andrew’s Prediction: John Cena

Raw Elimination Chamber

Definitely the better of the two Chamber matches on paper, the only wrestler in this match that I’m not a fan of is R-Truth. The idea of Jericho wrestling in the match and overtaking HHH as having the highest number of entries is pretty cool, and Kofi is bound to replicate RVD and Morrison’s spidermonkey antics from previous years. Add to that great wrestlers like Punk and Ziggler and this has the chance to be the best match on the card. As for winners, Rae has decided that Jericho will win, which is very possible. I personally think that Punk will retain here though, just because I think they’ll have him as champion at Wrestlemania. Having said that, if Rae is right that does open up the chance for Punk to get his rematch at ‘Mania, so I’ll be happy either way.

Rae’s Prediction: Chris Jericho
Andrew’s Prediction: CM Punk

Smackdown Elimination Chamber

Well, talk about extremes (and no, I don’t mean XTREME! because the match takes part inside “Satan’s Prison”) You have three really talented wrestlers in this match, people I’d be happy to watch wrestle any day of the week, in Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett. You have Big Show who has a role to fit and plays it well – the giant who punches people in the face will always be worth a look. And then… well… yeah, you’ve got the other two. Santino isn’t the worse wrestler in the world, and he’s ridiculously over with the crowd, so I’ve no real objection to him being in there for a while. Khali on the other hand, is a frankly bizarre choice for the match, and I can only hope that he’ll be the last to enter, only for everyone to hit their finishers and eliminate him within an minute.

As for the winner, Rae says Barrett will win (which would be amazing) but I think Bryan will retain. He needs a decisive title victory/defence and this is the ideal time. Let him go into Mania as champion to wrestle Sheamus and make everyone happy. Please?

Rae’s Prediction: Wade Barrett
Andrew’s Prediction: Daniel Bryan

Report from the Fort: Best Wrestler (Male)

Before we move on to our man of the year, a quick word on why we decided to choose a male and female wrestler of the year, rather than just one person. We don’t feel that, at least in mainstream wrestling, men and women get the same crack of the whip at the moment. They don’t occupy the same space in the same way. Are we happy about that? Definitely not. But we wanted to recognise both separately this year and, of course, we consider both male and female awards to be completely equal. If we’re still plugging away at this by next year, maybe we’ll change things around and make it a mainstream and independent award. For now, here’s our number one bloke of 2011. 

The problem with American collegiate athletes, is that they can appear a little dull on the surface. During the years in which I spent large amounts of time trying to make sense of the magnitude that is  American college sport, the bizarre and alien cattle market that is a draft proved my point. Neither college sports nor a draft system operate in British based sports. Every boy who ever held up his sateen professional jersey in front of draft day flashbulbs seemed as generic as the next.  The thing about these kids though, is that they don’t need to be interesting and have sparkling personalities. They’re expected to court the media to a point, but ultimately, as long as they’re scoring points, they’re winning at life.

But what about collegiate wrestlers who want to make the jump from amateur sport to sports entertainment, where they can make some cash if they work hard and wink at the right people? How do you go from a place where only being able to move matters, to a place where you also have to sell the movement like an actor playing things up for those sitting in the cheap seats at the back? It’s not easy, especially if you haven’t had the benefit of learning the craft of audience engagement in front of demanding indie circuit crowds.

One man who has made that leap work is Dolph Ziggler. Dolph had a brilliant 2011 and is proof that paying your dues in the mid-card under various guises for however long it takes pays dividends. It doesn’t happen often, but Dolph Ziggler is a true all-rounder. The full package. In 2011 he was World Heavyweight Champion, albeit for just 11 minutes and 23 seconds. He held the United States Championship for six months, his mic work was continually spot on, his partnership with the magnificent Vickie Guerrero continued to be an enormous source of fun, his appearances on Zack Ryder’s YouTube show had us pawing at out computer screens and, most crucially, his matches never disappointed. We had no choice but to make him our man of the year.

Basically, Dolph Ziggler’s such an astute showman that, whether he’s in the ring or on the mic, people definitely pay attention when he’s around. Even his haircut and change of hair colour sparked all kinds of internet debate about character identity and branding. Here’s to 2012, Dolph Ziggler. We’re watching every move. But not in a creepy stalker kind of way. Not most days anyway.

Wrestlemania 27 Predictions: Sidekick Andrew

Regardless of the rather baffling (and much less important than certain internet critics might have you believe) decision to drop the word “wrestling” from any description of the WWE, tonight is WRESTLEMANIA – undoubtedly the biggest event in the pro-wrestling calendar. An evening (or stupidly early morning for some of us) of celebrity endorsement, epic showdowns between legends and fast paced action between some of the exciting new stars of this ancient artform.

Ahh wrestling… wikipedia describes “Professional Wrestling” as “a mode of spectacle, combining athletics and theatrical performance.” With a history dating back over 15,000 years, wrestling can be found in the ancient cave drawings of France. All of which leaves me with a slight dilemma: how best to convey the excitement and thrills of Wrestlemania? The grappling acumen harking back to Babylonian and Egyptian reliefs? The roar of the approximately 75,000 fans in attendance? The blood, sweat and tears shed by these men and women for the briefest moment of reward, a reward which (if were honest) isn’t that important? Quite frankly, I can only think of one possible way to correctly pay the respect due to this most masculine of endeavours – PIE CHARTS!

As Boss Lady Ray explained yesterday, we’re not the best at predicting the results of these things – so we pulled in some people who should, in theory, know even less that us. Our families…

First up, Cole vs Lawler. Now, my family were relatively split on this one with Lawler just edging it despite Alice deciding that “the one on the left [...] looks stronger” (although there’s always a chance she might have mixed up her left and right.) Very happy with their choices here. Let’s face it, nobody want’s Cole to win tonight, and logic dicates that he probably won’t. However, I should point out that I’m not basing this on Rebecca’s slightly strange reasoning that Lawler should win “cos he looks cheesy!” or her fiance Kris’ logic that “his comments are amazing” being that Lawler is just ahead of Booker T in the “Wrestlegasm Commentators we’d like to see relegated to regional news somewhere in Alaska”

Next up, Edge vs Del Rio, and almost a clean sweep for Del Rio, with only one person voting for Edge. Del Rio’s reasons ranged from the quite logical fact that “he has a very muscley body” and is “bigger built” to the slightly more worrying “the one with the nice panties..Del Rio?” Not sure anyone has described Alberto Del Rio, a man descended from Mexican aristocracy, as having “nice panties” before mother, but you might want to check out Ray’s old Crotch Watch posts.

Also nice to see that we’re a family that doesn’t forgive and forget easily, with Kris’ insistence that Del Rio should win “because of what Edge did to Christian” – admittedly Edge & Christian are BFFs again, but we’ll always know what you did that summer…

You might have noticed by now that these matches are probably not in the order they’ll be broadcast, but that’s how we do it on the Fylde coast baby! As such, here’s Miz vs Cena. Cena was the overwhelming favourite here, with only my mother voting for the current champion on the grounds that he is “named after (my sister) Alice” (For those of you grasping with the logic here, I’m assuming Miz being short for miserable is a slight on the cheery disposition of my teenage sister, but I couldn’t possibly say.

As for Cena… well, the fact that he looked “like a wrestler” and “angry,” as well as being “simply [...] amazing” were all perfectly valid reasons that I struggled to argue against.

Celebrity random team time, and the only unanimous decision of both sets of predictions. It would appear that everyone I’m related to is a massive fan of the Jersey Shore for some reason. Admittedly Kris did vote for Team Morrison because Rebecca would “kill him” if he went with the other team, but Alice and Rebecca both seem to be fans. Alice in particular seemed quite taken with Morrison, and the fact that “he has Snooki as one of his bitches which just proves he is awesome”

Obviously I can’t be seen to support this kind of language, but after the Trish/Snooki/LayCool segment on Raw this week, it would appear that “bitch” is relatively acceptable.

Strangely, I expected the girls in my family to vote for Cody because he’s easy on the eye. Turns out nobody mentioned his looks, they instead were frightened of Mysterio. That’s right, the children’s favourite Mysterio, the merchandising machine, the shortest wrestler on the roster – my family were scared of him because he wears a mask.

Having said that, Mysterio did win this one. Kris rightly pointed out his speed, whereas Alice said that “he looks more serious” – presumably a reference to his Joker get-up from Wrestlemania 25…

See? I can do outdated jokes as well

Unfortunately for my predictions, Orton won this one with only Alice focusing on Punk’s “muscly legs” and the advantage that they might give him. As for Orton, the reasons once again ranged from the suprisingly knowledgable (“his old man was a brilliant wrestler”) to the purely aesthetic (“he has a nice tan” and “he looks evil”.)

On a personal note, while I’ve tried not to give my own predictions this year, I really *really* hope Punk wins this one. My fondness for his muscly legs notwithstanding, Punk is miles ahead of Orton in popularity here in the Bunker and the idea of Orton crowing about his victory in… incredibly… slow… phrasing… with… unnecessarily… long… pauses… between… each… word… yawn

Last but not least, Undertaker vs HHH – a match that I wasn’t looking forward to until this week’s Raw and Undertaker’s John Marston impression. [BOSS LADY RAY'S EDIT: SWOOOON. For John Marston. Not 'Taker. Eww. Forget I mentioned it.]

"ma'am"

So, this battle of the giants pitting the Undertaker’s unrivalled Wrestlemania streak of victories against HHH’s legacy as one the most successful wrestler’s in WWE history – how would the results come in for this one?

“Undertaker: my reason is it’s the Undertaker and HHH has a big nose… and that big nose muppet retired Mankind. Bastard, I hate you HHH”

“Undertaker because he has no eyes!”

“HHH as the other one won’t be able to see what he’s doing.”

Now obviously Undertaker has got the regulation number of eyes (that’s two in case you’re from some of the more remote areas of the United States and unsure) but I thought that it was interesting that his supposed lack of ocular equipment could be seen as both a detriment and an advantage. Still, I never claimed to be from a family blessed with an abundance of logic or common sense – hence the reason I like wrestling enough to write about it on here every week I suppose. Also, HHH is even less forgiven than Edge was earlier – so it’s probably best not to cross us…

Assuming you can count, you might have noticed that there are a couple of matches missing. That’s because, despite my usual love of procrastination I decided to ask my family to predict last week – something which would have worked well had the WWE not decided to add a couple of matches afterwards. So… how to predict these last two matches? I could use my knowledge of the storylines so far and wrestling logic to make an educated guess as to who the winners might be, orrrrrr….

In case you don’t know, www.googlefight.com is a site which allows you to compare the search results for two terms and come up with a “winner.” So let’s see what Google has to say…

There we go, that was pretty decisive wasn’t it? Now, roll on bloody midnight.

Sunday Musings

I was going to write a humorous summary of Wade Barrett’s appearance on Daybreak today. Nothing makes me feel more smug than non-wrestling bods interviewing wrestlers, desperately walking the journalistic tightrope of curiosity vs ignorance. The idea of Adrian Chiles snarling and spitting “Wrestling is fake though, isn’t it?” at Wade Barrett would have been worthy of a whole post in itself. Christine Bleakely trying to look interested in any man who isn’t Chiles or pretty-faced boyfriend Frank Lampard would have been great, especially when faced with wonky nosed Barrett. At least they could have discussed their shared interest in over-tanning.

If you’re not lucky enough to be British and have no clue what I’m babbling on about, Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakely are a platonic TV couple who jumped ship from their daily evening show on the BBC (where they were great) to front a daily morning show for more cash on ITV (where they are terrible). Adrian Chiles just isn’t made for being seen in the morning and Christine Bleakely makes me not want to look in the mirror myself in the morning.

Evidence

Unfortunately, Wade Barrett was bumped from Friday’s show. They needed room to cover the atrocious earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. That’s fair. They’d be hauled over the coals for chatting away with a home-grown wrestling superstar while thousands of people were suffering at that very moment. Having said that, they did find time to run a segment where five, yes five, grown adults sat around and chuckled at the fact that the Ken doll has a new haircut. It went on for some time. This was before speaking with their Hollywood reporter live via satellite to ask for an update on that washed-up actor who has been dominating Twitter with his incoherent musings. (I’m deliberately not saying his name.) Nice to know you’ve got your priorities straight, Daybreak. So Wade recorded a British radio interview to be broadcast next week and jetted off to Germany for more promotional work before I’d even caught glimpse of him on local telly.

Now what am I going to talk about? I could tell you about the dream I had last night where CM Punk dumped me for Kaitlyn while we were on holiday in Cornwall, only to find myself crying on Stephen Merchant’s shoulder, but that’s not very interesting. The truth is, it’s actually been a very busy week for both of us. It’s definitely been one of those weeks where real life has taken priority over blogging. We even had to skip our sacred ‘watching Smackdown in pyjamas’ on Saturday morning. Sad times. We did manage to watch CHIKARA’s Anniversario Elf show on Thursday, which was unsurprisingly fantastic, and we squeezed WWE Superstars in on Friday afternoon. Unusually, I’ve only just got round to watching Raw and Smackdown. Smackdown on a Sunday is wrong. It is to be watched on Saturday mornings in pyjamas with the Sidekick or not at all.

I’m not going to recap either show and the post I might have written about Michael Cole’s interruption of the Raw Divas match on International Women’s Day has already been written rather wonderfully elsewhere. More on that in a few paragraphs time. But something quite profound struck me while my eyes jogged through today’s Raw/Smackdown marathon, and that is that this really is a watershed in WWE programming. At least, I hope it is.

The forthcoming Wrestlemania is the pulling-out-all-the-stops Wrestlemania. They’ve brought legends back, others are probably on their last trot around the paddock and a young and overly stacked roster are salivating at the prospect of being moved up. Obviously, Wrestlemania is the money spinner; the one chance WWE has to draw in PPV buys from people who don’t bother for the rest of the year. Unabashed carrot dangling is expected, but what they’re doing here can never be done again, at least not without people saying “Meh. You’ve done this already. Show me something else.” If you’re going to this Wrestlemania, soak it in.

The Rock’s reappearance sent tingles down my spine, but he definitely won’t be a regular feature once ‘Mania’s done. Austin will always be around in some form, but if he values the use of his lower body he’ll never wrestle again. Trish Stratus is ultimately back to plug her own yoga business. The Undertaker’s body is so broken I’m worried he won’t even make it to his Wrestlemania match with HHH. Triple H has made no secret of the fact that he loves his backstage role and would be fine if he disappeared again. Shawn Michaels is indirectly involved in the Taker/HHH match and will be in Atlanta to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Strange as it seems, I hope this last hoorah is a way for all those legends to say goodbye.  When I started watching wrestling, all these people were at the top of their game. They were wrestling to me. They were the reason I watched. This loaded Wrestlemania card should be where they say thank you, step aside and let the young roster flourish. Yes, The Rock pulls out the most incredible promos. He always will. He’s the best. But I don’t think he necessarily shows the other performers up. Wrestling is a totally different game now and I don’t think Jim Ross was fair in telling the younger guys to shut up and stop complaining about having to share the ring with their predecessors.

It’s got to be frustrating for them and I don’t buy into the idea that today’s wrestlers are less of a draw than Rock and Austin. The output and the audience have changed dramatically. If you still want the Attitude Era and profess about how much you hate the PG era, wrestling has left you behind. You can’t compare current individual performers with those from 15 years ago because they’re working in an entirely different environment. It’s not disrespectful to acknowledge that this is a whole new ballgame. Without balls. Well, some balls, but…..never mind. You get my drift.

I’m genuinely proud of the young performers and how their media savvy selves are embracing their roles inside and outside the ring. The way Dolph Ziggler sold his faux firing on Twitter, for example, was brilliant. The current mix of former collegiate athletes, second or third generation competitors and indie stars is actually a nice mix. They don’t always use them properly and I’d like to see more indie guys being brought up, but then, I’m a born again indie geek. I would say that.

Once, Wrestlemania’s over, I hope WWE have the courage and the confidence to leave the past as it stands and put some faith into their current roster. I’m quite comfortable with Rock, Austin, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, HHH and Trish Stratus limiting their appearances to biennial pops, leaving Edge, Christian, Mysterio, Jericho and possibly even Cena to be the elder statesman. If you feel you’d be left wanting without the people brought back for Wrestlemania 27, I’ve a feeling you might find the next 18 months or so rather painful.

Before I sign off for the day I just wanted to mention the excellent work going on over at Fair to Flair. I caught up on the latest posts this morning and it’s really inspiring work. It makes me want to be a better wrestling blogger. There are very few places where you can read intelligent, thought-provoking writing on professional wrestling without the aggravating, smarky, ‘wrestling fan’ rubbish, but you’ll definitely find it there. If any project deserves to prosper, it’s Fair to Flair. I mentioned earlier that the women’s post I might have written has already been written brilliantly elsewhere and that’s where you’ll find it. Click here to read and enjoy.

We’ll be back tomorrow with our latest Song for Whoever and hoping real life gives us a break this week. Happy Sunday and if you haven’t entered our second birthday giveaway yet, you’re missing out. Click here to win excellent prizes. They’re on us!


A Song for Whoever: Rock & Dolph Ziggler Edition

BOSS LADY RAY: A couple of weeks ago my brother sent me link to an article on the 25 Worst Storylines in Wrestling. I read it, felt the shame of being a fan of wrestling and responded telling him that I had clearly wasted the last 12 years of my life and it had all been his fault for introducing me to this silly sport. Last week I found myself shouting out loud at the TV when Michael Cole was driving me to distraction. Nobody else was in the room. I felt silly. I told myself I was probably getting too old for this kind of behaviour.

Then Raw happened. I’ve been through the story of my introduction to wrestling several times before so I won’t go through it again. I’ll just insert the punchline – I came to find out who Shawn Michael was, I stayed for The Rock. I can honestly say that if it hadn’t been The Rock , the last 12 twelve years of my life would definitely have been wrestling free. When The Rock came back on Raw this week it was an incredible rush. Even though I knew what was coming (stupid timezones), when the lights when down one switch at a time and “If you smelllllllllllll……..” filled every inch of the arena, the goosebumps were instant, I forgot to breathe for a few seconds and I let out a screech that greatly disturbed the cat.

This week’s song isn’t dedicated to The Rock. It’s actually dedicated to wrestling as a whole. Wrestling, you’re still ridiculous, but……….

You will now have that stuck in our head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome. Incidentally, the most balance response to The Rock’s return I saw this week was at Kick-Out!! Wrestling. I recommend reading here.

SIDEKICK ANDREW: I’m sorry, I just can’t… it’s still too soon. Too painful. Too… raw.

Over 2 Miles of Chain? So, over 160 Chains of Chain then?: EC Predictions

Another month, another PPV. Except of course it isn’t, this is one of those “another 3 weeks, another PPV” things that the WWE seem to think are a good idea for some reason…

Anyway, another three weeks, another patented practically perfect PPV Predictions Post. Yep, once again we’ll try and fruitlessly predict the results of a show featuring “professional wrestling matches involving different wrestlers from scripted feuds and storylines that have been seen on World Wrestling Entertainment’s television programs – Raw and SmackDown.” (Thanks for that Wikipedia, you bloody idiots. This is why I stopped writing articles for you)

NOTE: As always, the WWE try to deliberately catch Ray and myself off guard by not announcing all their matches in advance, or changing them at the last minute. We’re not sure why they single this blog out for their petty amusements. Think of us as a couple of those little statues that Zeus played with in Clash of the Titans with Vince playing the “Father of Gods and men”

That's right, old school Titans. Real Harryhausen shit yo

Sidekick Andrew: First up, we have a match seemingly chucked on the card to either a: pad the numbers, b: give the #1 Contender something to do or c: just give us a really fun match. It’s hard to imagine these two having a bad match, so I’m plumping for C. As for predictions, I would hope that the WWE wouldn’t be silly enough to let Del Rio lose in the pre-Wrestlemania PPV, especially to someone holding a “lesser” belt than the one he’s challenging for. Let’s face it, BEEPBEEPBEEP>BOOMBOOMBOOM.

The man from Del Rio, he say "siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii"

Boss Lady Ray: Elimination Chamber is the last PPV before the big bomper. More than ever you have to consider the slow-burn, the long-game, the…. something else relating to the future. Del Rio will challenge for the World Heavyweight title against an as yet unknown champion. We’ll get to that special person later, but for this match I think Kofi will win. Stay with me on this. Lots of people still aren’t sold on the greatness that is Alberto Del Rio. Stupid people, admittedly, but there are quite a few of them. I wouldn’t put it past WWE to make it seem like the Rumble was a fluke and beat Alberto down for a while before he comes out at ‘Mania and KAPOW! he’s all great again. By the way, that KAPOW! was accompanied by a high-kick and karate chop, a la Batman fight scene (circa the Adam West years).

Sidekick Andrew: This will either be a glorious train crash of a match, or the surprise match of the night. After the match they had on Raw nobody should be surprised if this is great, but there are a lot of people out there who will be suspicious of both these guys. Lawler’s at the age where he should be tucked up on the couch with his slippers on and a packet of Werthers Original, whereas Miz is still “that annoying prick with the faux-hawk from The Real Life.” But The Miz has come on leaps and bounds over the last year or so to the point where he’s been a great heel champion, as well as the go to guy after Cena for publicity appearances. Lawler on the other hand, has forty (40!) years wrestling experience and was part of one of my top 10 or so brawls opposite Terry Funk in an Empty Arena Match

Between Lawler’s experience (and, cynical as it may seem, he’ll be wanting to go all out to prove a point) and The Miz’s amazing heel charisma, not to mention Alex Riley and Micheal Cole’s involvement, this could well be great. As for who’s going to win, I’m going with Lawler. Having said that, I think he’ll win by DQ and not take the title. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lawler really takes the fight to Miz and Riley, only to be distracted at the last minute by Cole interfering in the match causing the DQ. There’s only so much mileage in a Miz-Lawler feud, and Miz’s Wrestlemania opponent will be decided in the Chamber anyway. A Cole-Lawler feud would be nice and easy to push over the next month, maybe culminating in one of those silly “non-wrestler” matches that they always seem to add to Wrestlemania cards. Lawler vs Cole in a Loser Leaves Raw match? Maybe a tag match with Cole & Riley vs Lawler & Random Wrestler Who Happens To Stick Up For Him That Week? It worked with Jonathan Coachman *and* Jim Ross previously, for a given value of “work” at least.

Boss Lady Ray: I agree with Andrew that Lawler will win the match, but I think he’ll actually take the title. He’ll have it for a maximum of a week and the Miz will get it back in plenty of time to plug his Wrestlemania match against &£@*&€ (sshhhh can’t tell you that yet).  Jerry Lawler has got to be looking towards retirement from his commentary role soon.  His brand of commentary, especially when discussing the Divas, is becoming outdated. They’re kind of overloaded at the announce table at the moment and there are a long line of people who’d love to have his job when he hangs up his headset. *cough*Striker*cough* This would be a nice way of letting Lawler have his moment in the sun before he says so-long, farewell etc.

My only hope is that Michael Cole falls out of love with the Miz soon. Seriously, this man-crush is worse than Andrew’s on Dolph Ziggler. The only thing that stopped The Sidekick sobbing into his bacon sandwich while watching Smackdown this morning was me pointing out how pretty the ticker tape was. It distracted him from his whimpering. What would be excellent is if the Miz could actually reject Cole’s affections and, just like a broken-hearted lover, Cole sought revenge. By helping Lawler win, maybe? I think I’m on to something here.

Sidekick Andrew: Just to clarify, this is for the Number One Contender and a title match at Wrestlemania. It’s *not* for the actual WWE Championship, as we in the Bunker keep imagining for some reason. Not that this makes a massive difference to the predictions however. This one starts off pretty simple:

R-Truth: Definitely not. As Boss Lady Ray pointed out in the inaugural Song For Whoever, Truth has been botching left, right and centre recently, and his punishment started on NXT this week when he lost to Brodus Clay – not a good sign. I suspect he’ll be one of the first two entrants (possibly with Cena) and eliminated very quickly before the next person even enters.

John Morrison: Despite looking amazing on Raw this week (please, please, please turn heel again) Morrison still can’t talk so he’s not going to put in the title picture until that’s sorted out or he gets a manager/valet. Take him back to being a heel rock star, one who’s too cool to talk to us – give him a spokesperson and then we can have a rethink. OK? Cool…

Sheamus: at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Sheamus is just treading water until “He wHo sHall not be named” comes back. Plus, by all accounts (well, one website that I read) Sheamus isn’t very popular with management backstage at the moment, so he’s not going to win.

Randy Orton: hmm… Randy’s always got a chance, but I don’t think I’m alone in hoping he doesn’t get another title shot. It’s amazing how boring he’s become, but again it’s down to turning him face. That being said, as I admitted to Boss Lady Ray over Curiosity Cola and Welsh Cakes in the Bunker the other day – I generally want every wrestler I like to be a heel.

John Cena: Cena seems the obvious choice. They even pushed the fact on air recently that Cena is the only competitor on this show that has won more than one Elimination Chamber match. However, I’m going to channel The Boss and say that baby, I was born to run. Sorry… wrong Boss. I’m going to channel Boss Lady Ray and go with my heart rather than my head and say that I’m hoping Vince is a man of his word and uses this Wrestlemania to push newer talent. Plus Cena could fit into the role of “Random Wrestler Who Happens To Stick Up For Lawler That Week” for the tag match at Wrestlemania pretty easily.

CM Punk: My pick to win this one. Despite the fact that would lead to Heel vs Heel at Wrestlemania, it would be a great match and give the New Nexus someone different to feud with rather than Randy Orton. Logic dictates that I’m definitely wrong on this one though – but I’m sticking with Punk. Please don’t let me down…

Boss Lady Ray: Unlike my learned friend, I won’t give you a paragraph on each contender. Mainly because we agree on a lot of what he said, but also because I’m excited to tell you who I think will win. R-Truth is a rope stumble away from getting his P45 and Sheamus is waiting to be validated by a certain failed movie star. (I’m assuming it’s going to fail.) By the way…unpopular backstage? You didn’t tell me about that. Fill me in later, please.

It could possibly be CM Punk, but I have plans for him. Not those kind of plans. Actually, yes, those kind of plans. But I have Wrestlemania plans for him involving The Corre and Nexus. Randy Orton is a big ball of meh and while I’d never be fed up of seeing John Morrison and the Miz have a match, no way is John Morrison headlining Wrestlemania. WM is all about the money. Which is why the only winner can be Cena.

I know, I know. You hate Cena. Down with Cena. Cena sux. BOOOOOO! But if you stop thinking like a ‘wrestling fan’ for a few minutes and remember that Vince is running a business here, it makes brilliant sense. If he doesn’t make cash on Wrestlemania, he’s sunk. Assuming Miz gets his title back you’ve got the past, present and future best talkers all involved in one match. There’s so much promo fuel in The Rock, Cena and Miz it’s like finding treasure. Money shaped treasure.

Sidekick Andrew: This one actually is for the title, and more importantly the chance to face Alberrrrrrrto Delllll Rrrrrrrrrrrioooooooo in his first ever Wrestlemania match. Surely the biggest prize in Sports Entertainment? Anyway, same deal as last time…

Kane: Sorry Kane, you knows I loves you. But there’s no way you’re winning this. I’m not sure what you are going to be doing, especially if your brother comes back on Raw this week, but you won’t be taking the belt to Wrestlemania. My prediction is that the lights will go off during the match and a gong will sound. You’ll get all panicky and distracted and Barrett will pin you. Titantron cuts to a shot backstage of Ezekiel Jackson with a gong and a big grin. There you are, you can feud with him for a bit if you want.

Drew McIntyre: Nah, you’re not interesting enough for a title run yet – you should probably stick to being narky with Dolph for sacking that girl you’ve been crushing on? Maybe bring her back and turn her heel? (there I go again!)

Rey Mysterio: Making up the numbers, the only reason for Rey to win would be for a Rey/Del Rio headline match. But we’ve seen that a few times now, and Rey’s not the man he used to be. On the bright side, those pods will seem nice and roomy for him, so claustrophobia won’t be an issue.

Dolph Ziggler: *sob* Whoever is in this spot, whether it’s Dolph or someone else, isn’t going to win. I don’t want to talk about it OK? Just LEAVE ME ALONE!

Wade Barrett: How amazing would that be? Wade Barrett as World Heavyweight Champion? With a headline match at Wrestlemania? A year or so after his debut? There would be a certain amount of swooning in the Bunker, but there’s a catch. If Barrett wins, he has to face Del Rio. That means either Del Rio doesn’t win the belt at Wrestlemania which seems somehow unthinkable, or Barrett’s title reign is a little over a month, which doesn’t seem very logical for someone they’ve pushed so highly.

Edge: The only logical winner is Edge. He can retain the belt in the Chamber to help him look like a strong champion going into Wrestlemania, but losing to Del Rio in April won’t hurt his career at all, especially with a bit of Rodriguez/Guerrero interference. Plus I want to see Edge’s God Pyro at Wrestlemania again…

Boss Lady Ray: Mysterio is still hanging out for a holiday, Kane has had more than his fair share of belt-time during the past year and Drew’s only reason for being there is a possible appearance from Kelly. As seen through the veil of Andrew’s tears this morning, Dolph is out and soon to be replaced by a mystery competitor.

I suppose Edge could retain, but I’m over that. It’s all about Wade. The kiddies can have Cena vs the Miz at Wrestlemania and us Smackdown-ites can have a triple threat between Wade Barratt, CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio for the title. God, that sounds great, doesn’t it? I’m tingling at the mere thought. You see? I told you I had respectable plans for CM Punk.

And as Andrew predicted at the beginning of the post, another match has been added this morning – a tag match between Santino & Koslov and Gabriel and Slater. I seriously don’t care about this squabble at all, so I’ll just flip a coin. ‘Heads’ Santino and Koslov and ‘Tails’ to the Corre boys. And winner will be?

HEADS!

So now it’s your turn. Tell us what you think will happen on Sunday night. It’s the Road to Wrestlemania, kids. Get your coats on! And if you’ve read the spoilers, don’t post them masquerading as predictions, please. It only ruins it for everyone else. Thank you, lovelies. (Sidekick Andrew Edit: I’m going to pretend I care about that tag match as well by the way. Santino & Kozlov will win, and the world will yawn)

a song for whoever: dolph ziggler & r-truth edition

SIDEKICK ANDREW: It’s no coincidence that I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day, being that today’s Song for Whoever is a love song. Love songs can express many emotions and feelings: the aching pine of unrequited love, that rush of excitement from a first kiss, the earth-shattering heartbreak of a broken relationship, even the base yearning to “Sex You Up” as so romantically and lyrically put forward by Color Me Badd.

However, this week’s song is dedicated to the moment earlier this week when I realised I was hopelessly, completely and utterly in love with a particular male wrestler. Yes, straight as I may be, I had to turn to Boss Lady Ray in the Bunker and declare that I was now officially gay for this beautiful man.

Yes Justin, you're very pretty. But it's not you, sorry...

Very nice John, not sure about the kid though...

Why yes, I *am* going your way. I'd love a ride...

Now it’s no secret that we’re big fans of Dolph here in the Bunker, giving him the coveted (?) Most Improved Award this year, but this week my burgeoning affection exploded. Casting your mind back, you may recall that I used to recap NXT on this site, before it all became too painful to watch. This week however, The Boss insisted that we do something about her Matt Striker withdrawals and watch the latest episode. But you… you already know this.

I’m not 100% sure when the growing crush suddenly exploded into love. Was it the way he responded to the whole Turd Ferguson debacle? Possibly the way he wore a Zack Ryder shirt to ringside? It could well have been the way he shouted “that’s the first time Saxton’s been over” during The Price Is Right? No, I’m pretty sure it was this…

Who’d have thought a man elbow-dropping a comedy cheese hat could have such an effect on my emotions? Not sure exactly how I’m going to explain to my kids why daddy is leaving to try and pursue a bleached blonde man wearing black PVC hotpants, but I’m sure it’ll give them something to tell their therapists about one day.

This one’s for you Dolph, don’t ever change you wonderful, wonderful man

BOSS LADY RAY: Well, I’ll give you a moment to digest Andrew’s unnatural love for Dolph. All absorbed? Lovely. Now on to my dedication, which isn’t a love song, it’s more of an arm around the shoulder. A hug. An ‘everything’s going to be okay’ kind of a tune. And it’s dedicated to R-Truth.

Truth’s been having a rough time lately. Setting aside the fact that he seems to be languishing in the Raw mid-card with nowhere to go, he’s certainly screwed a few things up over the past few weeks. Two weeks ago he tried to pull off an amazing double flip into the ring with John Morrison and did this…..

Ouch. 100% burns……to his pride! Then last week he asked Green Bay to tell him what exactly was ‘up’. They were in Milwaukee. Ouch again. If I learnt anything from that roadtrip I took from Milwaukee to Northern Michigan to Green Bay to Nashville (long story) it’s that you never ever ever confused Milwaukee and Green Bay. You might as well call me English. Not only was Truth subject to the crowd chanting the correct town at him throughout the match, and not only did Michael Cole ham up his dickish behaviour to hogroast level, but it also happened to be Mason Ryan’s first ever match on Raw. Ouch.

Mason Ryan’s first solo match on Raw was never going to be earth shattering. He needs more experience and his bulk holds him back the same way it does the other chunkies. Still, it’s something he’ll remember for the rest of his life and what will he think of when he casts his mind back? MIL-WAU-KEE! MIL-WAU-KEE! MIL-WAU-KEE! Mason will get over it.  R-Truth may not.

Happier times

Truth apologised profusely to the people of Milwaukee on Twitter and tried to block it out when he was ribbed on NXT. He’s probably hoping this catalogue of errors isn’t an express pass to being future endeavoured. Chin up, R-Truth. Let Eliza ease your troubles and sing away your woes. Tweet-tweet!