RAW: Damage Limitation

Alright. Let’s stop dancing around the inevitable. Punk is gone. He hasn’t been officially future endeavoured and there is a part of me holding on to the fact that this might be the most ballsy, elaborate work in history. But as he’s been pulled from pre-paid AXXESS meet & greets and assessing the bizarre atmosphere on RAW this week, we can assume that at the very least he’s having an extended holiday.

There was a definite air of damage limitation on this week’s RAW. Fan-made signs enquiring as to Punk’s whereabouts were confiscated by security. In the same way that Rey Mysterio was booed at the Royal Rumble simply for not being Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton’s words made no impact on the crowd, who were otherwise engaged in repeatedly chanting for CM Punk. Being a bit of a tough-nut, their disinterest in his moaning about his lack of…(umm, what was it again?) made no impression on him either.

Needing to pacify an already volatile crowd Steph and HHH appeared on the ramp to instruct Randy to stop whining. To curry favour with the audience even further, they warned him that they had the power to strip him of his ‘face of the company’ moniker. If he didn’t cool his boots they might be forced to make someone else their favourite. Daniel Bryan, maybe. HHH even joined the Yes Movement. Turncoat!

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Daniel Bryan, who in the space of a week has gone from their whipping boy to potential poster boy. You can’t help but feel that even what would have been Bryan’s eventual triumph over ‘the man’ has been ditched in favour of keeping people from turning off.

The Shield won a three-man tag against Big E. Langston, Kofi and Rey Mysterio, but the crucial part of the story came when Dean Ambrose (unf) and Roman Reigns squabbled over who should have taken the pin. Poor Seth Rollins. As if his comedic tumbling the previous week hadn’t been upsetting enough. Now mummy and daddy are fighting again. I wonder which of them plays mum and which takes on the role of dad. Let’s think about that for a moment. Anyway, the bickering soon ended and their broken pieces were glued back together when the Wyatts appeared on screen hoping to capitalise on their moment of collective weakness. They didn’t.

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It also seems there’s dissent at Camp Real Americans. After losing a place in the Elimination Chamber to Christian on SmackDown, Jack Swagger was given a rematch, only to lose a second time. You can always tell when Swagger’s in a panic. His bottom lip bursts open, like that kid in school who always got stress-related nosebleeds on class trips.  Zeb Colter made his disgruntlement known in no uncertain terms and even Antonio Cesaro dropped and shook his head in shame. Time to disband these guys and start hyping Cesaro, lest he go the same way as Hero. At least, let’s not allow that to happen before I can successfully attend any British shows he might be booked on. Selfish? Me? Absolutely. It already sticks in my craw that I don’t get to clap eyes on Chris Hero’s colour-of-a-cornfield mane when he’s in the UK at the end of this month.

In further attempts to placate the ready-to-riot crowd, the New Age Outlaws were forced to put the tag titles on the line against Goldust and Cody Rhodes. Oh and they were forced to do it *MOVIE TRAILER VOICE* inside a steel caaaaage. New Age Outlaws retained in a match that went on for far too long, never really got going and made little-to-no use of the cage. Hey, Hunter? Where’s Punk?

Thankfully this was followed by Batista’s arrival. Now, hold on. I know this doesn’t sound all that exciting. But the small detail I deliberately omitted in the name of building tension is that our Dave’s back in the double denim. Yes!

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And not just top and bottom denim, but a matching burnout tee. Cor! But beyond my predictable giddiness at Dave-denim, the real star of this segment was Alberto Del Rio. Dressed in less impressive single denim, the promo he ripped on Dave was so convincingly impassioned you might believe there was some truth behind it. I mean, why would the guy who’s been consistently great but never truly trusted to carry the company along with the big boys feel cheesed off that Dave’s waltzed back in to steal a Wrestlemania headline slot? It was the first time in many months I’ve really sat up and taken notice of Del Rio. Their scrap was fierce and Del Rio was so pumped he returned to the ring to retrieve his rather fetching black blazer, before catching glimpse of Dave’s face and thinking better of it.

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Speaking of those flying uncomfortably under the radar, Dolph Ziggler was teamed up with R-Truth and Xavier Woods to go up against the Wyatts. The match had all the bumps and jumps you’d expect, with Bray Wyatt pinning Dolph for the win. To match their video interruption earlier in the evening, The Shield made their own video based gift, with Dean Ambrose (unf) mocking the Wyatts’ scare tactics and his fellow warriors warning of retribution. This was met with the usual psychotic laughter in the ring. Standard but still pleasing fare.

This took us to a long main event between Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan, the winner of which would become the McMahon-Helmsley’s favourite boy. It was a long and involved match where both gave a lot, but it was flat. It was missing something. Despite some interference from Kane, Bryan still won the match, but it didn’t have the shine it should have. It’s not enough just to give us what we want. We need the backstory to make it mean something. That’s where promoters get wrestling fans all wrong. It’s about the journey. I wonder if that’s the line they’d be following if Punk was still around. And the fact that Orton and Kane continued to pummel Bryan after the bell means it’ll all probably flip-flop back the other way quicker than a Westminster sex scandal come next week. It just didn’t make sense. Unless Kane interfered to make sure Bryan didn’t win, what was the point?

Can you say ‘state of flux’?

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N.B. This week, in an attempt to skip what I thought were just the ads, I watched RAW via the Sky Sports On Demand service. Unfortunately, I only realised after writing this that they’d cut out several mid-card matches, linking segments etc. I’ll have seen all the missing pieces before next week, but just a warning to those in the UK. It gives a skewed view of the show and I’m going to be complaining to Sky about it.   

2011: The Year Punk Broke – Money in the Bank Predictions

Yes, Punk, we’ll get to you soon, you wonderful man…

Sidekick Andrew: But first, let’s get this out of the way. As you may have noticed, we’re big fans of women’s wrestling here in the Bunker. However, even we’re struggling to build up any enthusiasm for this match. Kelly Kelly was essentially given the title thanks to her appearance in the FHM “Top 100 Bland Looking Ladies That Teenage Boys Fantasise About” List, and Brie has very little going for her as a wrestler. As a brief appearance on the arm of some C-List celebrity that nobody outside the US has ever heard of? Fine. In a title match at a PPV? Shocking idea…

In fact, despite actually making the effort to keep up with the WWE over the last couple of weeks, I had no idea what this feud was about (other than the title of course.) Thankfully, Boss Lady Ray is much more knowledgable than I and was happy to fill me in. Apparently “they’re building this storyline around bullying again. Kelly’s too skinny.” Now, ignoring the fact that this is another bullying story line based around two heels making fun of Kelly Kelly, there is a certain amount of hypocrisy in the Bellas calling anyone too skinny, I mean… they’re hardly what you could describe as Rubenesque.

I’m going to pick Kelly Kelly to get the win and retain the belt. While she’s never going to be on the level of Beth Phoenix or Sara Del Rey she does at least seem to have improved recently. Plus I never want to see a Bella with a belt again.

Boss Lady Ray: Really, WWE? REALLY? Pathetic. I think Andrew’s said it all and nobody needs another rant on the portrayal of women from me today, so I’ll just go with Kelly to avoid giving this lame storyline any kind of approval.

Sidekick Andrew: This will either be a really fun brawl or an embarrassing mess, although given the way Henry has turned himself around recently I’m going to hope for the former. The Mark Henry heel turn has been really fun to watch, and combined with his weight loss and new-found enthusiasm I’m suddenly in a very strange place where I quite fancy seeing him have a title run.

As such, I think Henry will win this one, leading to him feuding for the title soon with whoever has it by then. He’s the most imposing “monster” on the roster at the moment, especially with Kane’s recent emo phase crying to Teddy Long, and I do enjoy a monster heel champion.

Boss Lady Ray: I agree, I think Henry’s got this one. I’m rather proud of how Mark Henry has turned himself around and got himself back on everyone’s front page. Good for him. The match, I imagine, will just be the two of them knocking lumps out of each other for twenty minutes, but hey, everyone loves a massive brawl from time-to-time. I just hope Mark Henry isn’t allowed to design his own merchandise if he becomes WWE champ again.

Just...wow.

Sidekick Andrew: Meh… I still find Orton boring and I’ve never been the biggest Christian fan (I know, I know… internet blasphemy) so I’m not necessarily that interested in this match. At the very least this should be a pretty good match, I’m just not that bothered who wins.

I’m thinking this will be the beginning of the end of this feud, and Orton will win to retain the belt. The extra stipulations that Christian added to the match (If Orton gets disqualified or the referee makes a “bad call”, Christian automatically wins the title) rather ironically help to cement this decision. Give a face more odds to overcome and chances are he’ll find a way to do it.

I should mention that at this point in our discussions I noticed a strange, almost dream-like quietness settle over Boss Lady Ray. While I am admittedly quite boring company, I did find this slightly strange until I realised that Smackdown was showing an old Punk vs Mysterio match at the time and Punk just happened to be wearing the Boss Lady’s favourite lavender trunks.

How could I compete?

Boss Lady Ray: Aww. I think you’ll find I was watching the TV and talking at the same time. I’m a woman! I can multi-task! And actually, I was merely observing how different Punk looks these days with short hair and a moustache. *shifty-eyes*

The Orton/Christian feud had the potential to be huge, but the Punk story has picked up such astonishing momentum it’s overshadowed every other story in the company. It’s also amazing how little people still care about what happens to Christian now that this ‘other story’ has taken over. You are fickle beasts indeed, wrestling fans. I’m going to say that Orton will retain and they’ll both move on to other people by Summerslam. There’s nowhere else to go with this one.

Sidekick Andrew: Much as I love them, Money in the Bank matches are always going to be a bit tricky to predict. Other than Evan Bourne and perhaps Jack Swagger, anyone of the competitors could take this one. I was tempted to choose Kofi Kingston as he’s probably due a push again soon, but I think he’ll fill the Shelton Benjamin role of “doing mental stuff every time but never actually winning” instead.

The Miz could win, but I can’t picture him carting that briefcase around all year again. Riley could win, but the same applies as he carried the case with Miz. Mysterio is always an option, and (much as it pains me to admit it) R-Truth is a possibility. But my pick goes to Del Rio. They seemed to tease him feuding with Cena on Raw this week, and he’s due a new push after the Rumble one fizzled out.

Boss Lady Ray: No MITB match is an island. You really can’t just look at the match in isolation because you have to consider where the writers might want to take the winner afterwards. A guaranteed title shot is a big thumbs up to whoever gets it and, let’s be honest, predicting who they might be challenging for the title is almost impossible this year.

After much consideration, I’m going to go with Alex Riley. Andrew’s right, he did carry the briefcase with Miz for a long time. But I think it might be fun for the worm to have turned, possibly with Miz trying to steal it away afterwards. I always think MITB matches should be used to elevate a young, rising star and Riley really deserves to move up.

Sidekick Andrew: Like the Raw match, I’m really looking forward to this one. And much like the Raw match a lot of that is down to the fact that there’s never a guaranteed winner.

true dat...

I think I’m looking forward to this one even more than the Raw match. The combination of Justin Gabriel and Sin Cara alongside Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan should make for some great spots. Add in Kane, Sheamus and Wade Barrett and you have the makings of a really fun match. Although, like all ladder matches, that fun will probably involve a lot of cringing on my part. There’s just something about people landing on the edges of the ladders that gets me every time.

I would love Wade Barrett to win this and get another run at the title, but I’m going to go with the obvious choice and pick Sheamus to win.

Boss Lady Ray: If I’m honest, I think this one will probably be Sheamus. He’s been getting a nice little run on Smackdown and he’ll work well with Orton. But it also seems just a little too obvious.  For that reason I’m going to go with Wade Barrett. He hasn’t got much to do now that the Corre have died a death and he really does deserve to get back up to the top. I wouldn’t object if it was a triple-threat between Orton, Sheamus and Barrett at Summerslam and, you know, if I can save Andrew from getting killed by predicting Wade, I’d do it. Who’s going to do all my Photoshopping if he dies?

Boss Lady Ray: Well, what can we say about this match? I can’t remember the last time I saw WWE fans quite this emotional about a story, probably because we’re not entirely sure how much is story and how much is genuine. They are the very best kind of wrestling stories. We’ve discussed what might be happening to Punk endlessly in the Bunker and have come up with so many theories I can’t even remember half of them.

The thing is, none of them seem right, so we’ve decided not to predict the end of the show. Wrestling fans, including ourselves, are a curious breed. We’re constantly trying to figure out what might happen in advance, sometimes to its detriment when it actually happens. The satisfaction of ‘I told you so’ wears off quickly. We don’t want Punk to leave, but we don’t want him to be miserable either, so we’re just going to let this one play out however them on high have decided and try to enjoy it (in amongst a few tears from myself, I expect.)

All week we’ve been playing this song and getting a little weepy in anticipation for tonight. Listen to the lyrics carefully and you’ll understand why. (N.B. Andrew would like me to point out that he hasn’t been getting weepy because he’s a manly-man with a new subscription to Sky Sports and everything. *bicep-curl*)  This one’s for you, Punk. If you really are leaving, I’ll miss you….bloody loads!*WEEP*

 

 

 

 

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Randy Orton, Kelly Kelly and Why It Matters

Over the past couple of days the Internet has been awash with reaction to the derogatory comments Randy Orton made about Kelly Kelly’s personal life during an interview with a Phoenix radio station. In the interest of giving an informed opinion I’ve listened to the interview in full. The comments themselves relate to Kelly’s sex life, suggesting that she has slept with several of the WWE roster, to which the sex was regularly referred to as ‘method acting’ by Orton and the astonishingly obnoxious hosts. The alleged notches in Kelly’s bedpost became a running joke throughout the interview, with the hosts asking Randy if Kelly had “banged” almost every Superstar who came up in conversation, before collapsing in laughter.

There are really two main issues here – the unprofessional nature of Orton’s conduct and the double standards women are held up to with regard to sexuality, particularly in the WWE. Randy Orton certainly has form when it comes to unprofessional behaviour, but in the past it was when he was either on the brink of making it truly big or such a believable villain that it didn’t quite have the same impact that this incident has had. Previously his character suggested it was almost expected that he would be controversial in interviews. Orton is now the face of SmackDown; the brand’s number one good guy. When he’s sent out on these assignments he’s there to promote the company, the shows, the merchandise in a wholly positive light and as the newly loved World Heavyweight Champion. I think Randy Orton’s just found out that it’s not such an easy job being the good guy. He would do well to take some tips from John Cena, who continually oozes professionalism in interviews. Even more impressive is the Miz, who manages to be the man everyone loves to hate, yet comes across as utterly charming in every interview he gives.

Regardless of what you think of your colleagues and the standards by which you quietly judge their life choices, you simply cannot discuss their private lives in public. It’s not what I expect of someone representing a global business. It’s not what I expect of anyone. I once worked in an organisation where a colleague was severely reprimanded for quite modestly speaking ill of the boss, in the pub, after working hours. Someone reported the comments back to the boss and the colleague was punished. In the real world, people get fired for less than Randy Orton has said and I sincerely hope there have been some repercussions here. I cringe to think that young boys who idolise Randy Orton have listened to that interview and think it’s perfectly acceptable to discuss women in this way. Whether he wants to be or not, Orton’s a role mode and should conduct himself as such.

Aside from the fact that Randy Orton makes both himself and the WWE look painfully unprofessional during this interview, the matter he commented on could not be any less his concern. He had no right to report on Kelly’s private life so publicly and especially using such crass language. Our sexuality is ours to own. Whether we choose to have no sexual partners at all or a different one every night, we all make that choice for ourselves and don’t expect to be judged for it. The problem with the way female sexuality is viewed is that, the moment a woman does something even remotely sexual, it comes to define who she is in a way that just doesn’t apply men. CM Punk, for example, is alleged to be quite the lothario. It is mentioned in passing among wrestling fans but it never impacts how he is viewed as a wrestler or a human being. Fans and colleagues alike are currently fawning all over Punk following his glowing performance in what might possibly be the defining storyline of his career. Women (including the WWE Divas) aren’t afforded that same respect. Men are actually congratulated for sexual conquests, while women are considered ‘sluts’. Sexy isn’t a dirty word regardless of gender.

For example, I watched Beyoncé close the Glastonbury festival on television on Sunday night. I’m biased in that I’m a huge fan of hers, but I was incredibly moved by how she managed to woo 175,000 people with the most outstanding performance I’ve ever seen her pull off. The overwhelming response seemed to be that Beyoncé had taken the nation’s breath away. The following day on Twitter a female journalist I (still) adore and respect, Julia Raeside, boiled her performance down to this:

JNRaeside
Re Beyonce: she is professional, clearly works hard, all of the things you say. But she shakes her bottom for money.
27/06/2011 12:59

I was genuinely upset by Julia’s comment. As long it’s not all you think you have to offer, there is absolutely nothing wrong with displaying your sexuality. There is nothing wrong with going on stage in a leotard, heels and a spangly jacket. I see no problem with shaking your arse to music just because it feels good. It was as if Julia had bypassed Beyoncé’s operatically trained voice, her impeccable dance skills, her acting credits, her writing skills and her obvious humility because she had chosen to be sexy during some of the performance. If Usher had joined her on stage shirtless and grinding his crotch at the audience, nobody would have blinked an eye. Run the World (Girls) may not be entirely lyrically accurate, but if I had a daughter I’d want her to listen to it and feel she could run the world if she wanted to. I do think Beyoncé is a positive role model for young women. Her sexuality is just one part of her personality, which she sometimes plays up as part of her performance. This should be the case for the WWE Divas too.

The WWE itself isn’t totally blameless here. Smart, Sexy, Powerful is a good tagline to attach to the women on the roster, but I’m concerned that only one of those words is currently being fulfilled. If the business is trying to gear itself towards a very young audience, it should be trying much harder to define its female talent by more than just their sexuality. They get plenty of opportunities to appear sexy, but very few to display their intelligence and power in the form of clever storylines, long matches and equal billing. I don’t have a problem with the plethora of female photo shoots WWE pumps out so frequently. What I do have a problem with is that the male roster members don’t seem to be required to take part in them nearly as often as the women do. The net result of this is that the Divas’ sexuality appears that much more overt than that of the male Superstars and it becomes what they’re famous for.

I wasn’t exactly banging my drum for feminism when such a huge deal was made of Kelly Kelly’s appearance in this year’s Maxim Hot 100 list. I’m not sure it really achieves anything to ask adolescent boys looking for wank fodder to rate women according to their looks. I think it’s a ludicrous concept as outdated as beauty pageants. But lads’ mags are on the slide on the newsstand anyway, and I’d be surprised if any were still in circulation in ten years time.  For now, they exist and I know Kelly was pleased to be have been included, but it’s really worth no more than some free publicity for the company. Regardless, suggesting that Kelly’s appearance in the list somehow sets her up for derogatory comments is pretty pathetic, yet it’s an argument I heard in Orton’s defence.

Over the past 24 hours I’ve read some outrageous justifications and excuses for Randy Orton’s comments. It doesn’t matter which magazines Kelly’s modelled for. It doesn’t matter what she did for a living in the past. It doesn’t matter which characters she’s played in previous storylines. Pondering whether Randy’s punishment is adequate based on who the woman he humiliated is gets away from the fact that he made the comments in the first place. If you’re thinking he might have chosen his words more carefully if Kelly’s boyfriend was someone more powerful in the company, you’ve definitely missed the point. It doesn’t matter if you like her, find her attractive or enjoy her wrestling, there should be zero tolerance of this kind of behaviour and no room for compromise.

Randy’s an extremely well paid and (supposedly) media savvy professional. It’s not sufficient to say that he was just hanging out with ‘the guys’ and got caught up in a rowdy moment. He wasn’t in a bar bullshitting with his mates, he was on a radio show available worldwide. That should have been his first thought before answering every single question.  This is why his Twitter apology (in which he asked people to drop the subject for her sake) seems a little wet. Irritating and archaic as they were, it’s not as if the hosts held a gun to his head or coerced him into discussing Kelly’s private life. The words spilt out quite freely. Who on earth was Orton trying to impress? Randy Orton repeatedly mentioned his wife and daughter during the interview. A good rule of thumb should be ‘if someone were about to embarrass my daughter/wife/girlfriend/sister/mother with these words, how would I feel about it?’ If your reaction would be to punch the guy in the chops, show every woman the same respect you’d show the women in your life and keep your mouth shut.

If none of this seems important and you think it’s all a silly overreaction (particularly if you’re a woman) I urge you to read Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman. It’s the most fantastic, rich, funny, honest book you’ll find about being a woman and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you disagree with what I’ve said here, I almost guarantee you’d take a different view on Randy Orton’s humiliation of Kelly Kelly after reading it – women and men.

Keep the Noise Down

I’ve thought long and hard about whether I want to write this post or not, but Andrew is a wise man and is right in saying that I need to get it out of my system so I can fully enjoy wrestling again. I’m struggling with wrestling at the moment, but it has nothing to do with wrestling itself. I’m finding Raw surprisingly enjoyable, Smackdown is rebuilding itself after the big shift in personnel, Tough Enough was fantastic, Superstars is the hidden gem that not enough people realise is excellent and that’s all before the plethora of indie DVDs we’re slowly making our way through. We recently finished watching CHIKARA’s 2011 King of Trios tournament, which was so outstanding I’d struggle to find the words to describe it. Luckily, Matt Jones did that for us after attending the shows himself. We’re moving on to Colt Cabana’s Wrestling Road Diaries next. I can hardly wait.

So what, you might ask, am I struggling with? Well, it’s the Internet. It’s colouring how I view wrestling, bringing me down, turning me off, urinating on my fire etc.  I spent several months hardly checking in with the Internet Wrestling Community. It made me angry, so I avoided it. But after a recent difficult personal event, wrestling was a welcome distraction and I revelled in sharing it with others. That all changed again when Christian lost the World Heavyweight Title just a few days after winning it for the first time at Extreme Rules. The IWC was outraged, I was not.

To me this just seemed like another twist in a constantly rolling series of stories. Christian dropped the belt to Randy Orton. So what? If Edge hadn’t retired, Christian may never have been a contender anyway. Who was to say that this wasn’t the beginning of something much bigger? This may have been the start of the Story of the Year. Fans behaved as if Vince McMahon and Co. had somehow betrayed them by promising a title run before snatching it away again. I didn’t see it that way. Nobody had been promised anything and, in reality, they were probably more concerned with establishing Randy Orton as the new Smackdown poster boy. I couldn’t cope with such ridiculous Internet venom and when people started tweeting death threats in Randy Orton’s direction I checked out of Twitter, vowing not to return until it had all blown over. Unsurprisingly, it took no more than a week for ‘the most awful thing that had ever happened in wrestling’ to be forgotten.

I started wondering if I was getting too old for wrestling. I don’t actually think you’re ever too old for wrestling; I’m just outgrowing the crowd of people who spew inconsiderate and unintelligent nonsense around the Internet. If nothing else, my time away from Twitter forced me to accept that not everybody watches wrestling for the same reasons and with the same agenda that I do. We all take something different away from it and I decided I’d just have to accept that there would always be fan reactions I didn’t understand. My angst settled again, until the WWE Over the Limit Pay-Per-View.

We decided not to watch the show live, opting to avoid spoilers and watch it on Monday. I watched during the afternoon and, while it wasn’t a particularly memorable PPV, I quite enjoyed it in parts. I certainly didn’t feel angry about anything that happened during the show. I returned to the Internet to see what others had thought and was met with a shower of insurmountable negativity. In some places, whole streams of comments made throughout the show were nothing but diarised bullets of anger shot out at anyone who cared to read them. For want of a more elegant way of putting it, it killed my buzz.

We all have our frustrated moments, but I don’t understand why people continue to watch and comment on wrestling when it is mustering such fury within them. Wrestling isn’t a sport where the outcome of each event is unknown. It’s a scripted television programme. If I’m watching a TV series that’s gone off the boil  (however much I used to enjoy it) I stop watching. Just as an example, I watched and adored the first series of Glee. Andrew will vouch for me when I say that anything where people suddenly burst into song and dance makes me extremely happy, but I didn’t enjoy the second series. To use some wrestling terminology, I thought it became a spot-fest and forgot what it was supposed to be about. I’m disappointed that Glee became something I didn’t want it to be, but I don’t feel that I have or should have any control over the creative process. In wrestling it seems that everyone feels they have a right to dictate how stories will play out. We all have opinions and suggestions, but many wrestling fans seem to express them with such life-and-death desperation it just makes me want to stop conversing altogether.

The only way to make an impact is to vote with your remote control. Stop buying the PPVs and stop watching the free stuff.  I know it’s not easy and I should have done it myself during the atrocious Raw Guest Host months. I loathed it. The shows were painful to watch but I kept writing about just how awful they were week after week. It wore me down and I resented spending my weekends writing about it. I’m sorry I subjected people to that. At the time we were on a blogging treadmill and it took several months before we were able to step off and only write about things we thought deserved our time. It was the best decision we ever made. If you’re hating wrestling, step away from it for a while. If you miss it, you’ll come back. If you’re hating WWE, find an alternative.

After some of those who watched Over the Limit live had stolen my enjoyment of the show, I quite seriously considered deleting my Twitter account. Instead, I checked out again and tweeted a statement I still stand by. ‘There is more to wrestling than the WWE and there is more to life than wrestling.’ There are far more important things worth getting worked up about. I started paying serious attention to independent wrestling less than two years ago and now I couldn’t do without it. It gives you a bigger picture of wrestling. When WWE isn’t hitting the spot, it’s a place to go where your faith in wrestling is instantly restored. When you have options, you worry less about the WWE. King of Trios was our ‘happy place’ during the usual post Wrestlemania slump. In fact, while watching CHIKARA recently, both Andrew and myself agreed that if we had to choose between the two, we’d easily select CHIKARA over WWE. A show that makes you smile for three hours straight once a month is far superior to a collection of shows broadcast three or four times a week where the expectation is that only small portion of the shows will be entertaining.

Once again I tried to ignore the rubbish, but when the Kharma story started seeping across the Internet like an unstoppable torrent, it tipped me over the edge. As a woman, I struggle with the way the WWE treats its female roster. It goes against many of my principles and I’m often embarrassed by the lack of equal billing (among other things) between Divas and Superstars. Still, I persevere because the WWE is loaded with wonderfully talented women who will surely one day be given an opportunity to be trusted with stories and main events currently set aside for the boys. [Incidentally, there’s an excellent article on Feminism and Pro Wrestling by Danielle Stull in the first issue of the Fair to Flair Quarterly. I highly recommend it.]

Kharma (Kia Stevens) was an impossibly exciting addition to the WWE roster. Nobody was more thrilled than I was when she started gate crashing the established Divas matches, paralysing them with fear as she drove each of the girls into the mat, one show at a time. I was brimming with ideas and excited at the possibilities to come. It shouldn’t have taken one contract signing to inject such vigour into the division, but at least it felt like there may be something of a watershed on the horizon.

Out of nowhere on the May 23rd edition of Raw, Kharma broke down in tears in the middle of the ring surrounded by the bewildered Divas. It began emerging online that Kharma would be out for several months. This seemed odd considering she hadn’t had a match yet. It would be terribly unfortunate for her to have picked up an injury after such little ring time. Before Kharma had even had an opportunity to explain her forthcoming absence, it leaked that her time away would be at least nine months. Oh. NINE MONTHS. Wink-wink-nudge-nudge-saynomore. It was disappointing that the announcement of such a personal event had been taken away from her, but if the news was true I was thoroughly pleased for her. What more exciting news is there than finding out you’re becoming a parent for the first time? It never really crossed my mind to consider how it would affect my hopes for the Divas division. Some things in life are more important. Unfortunately, not everyone felt the same way.

I was genuinely stunned at some of the comments I saw online. People were annoyed that Kharma would be disappearing so soon after her arrival. Some were more than ‘annoyed’, they were nasty. Interestingly, on going back to find a couple of them, I notice that some have been taken down. In writing this post I had several examples saved that I planned on using here, but upsetting people for the sake of it is not my style. I’m not much for confrontation. The people who spouted off online about how a woman’s pregnancy ‘let them down’ know who they are. I will, however, quote the comment that upset me the most.

Nine months = pregnancy.

And, if that is the case, one would wonder why she couldn’t use birth control or something before the biggest push of her life. Anti-climactic.

Yeah, mate. How dare a woman have a child when your leisure time is at stake. How very selfish of her. Another comment on the same article described Kharma’s then alleged pregnancy as “PREGO!!!!! Epic fail by Kharma.” A child is never an epic fail. By the way, those who asked if Kharma had broken down because it was her ‘time of the month’ and was she feeling emotional should be ashamed. I saw that question asked by women. Despite the fact that the Internet had already ‘broken the story’, no official statement had been released by the WWE. It was announced that Kharma would address the audience on the next episode of Raw, drumming up significant speculation online about how the announcement would play out. Much of the discussion was about how trashy the WWE would make her departure, considering the fact that maternity leave hasn’t been high on their list of priorities in the past.

Kia is a classy lady and the WWE allowed her to temporarily bow out of competition with real style. I was proud of her and I was pleased they resisted the urge to turn something very simple and touching into anything less than it deserved. Even the Bella Twins coming out to verbally bitch-slap her was done with a touch of coolness. The show must go on! If ever there was a moment for them to ramp up their heel credentials, that was it. When the WWE has handled a female issue with more tact and delicacy than the fans, something is very wrong and I’m not sure I want to be part of it any more.

I’ve reached a point where I’m embarrassed to call myself a wrestling fan and it has very little to do wrestling at all. That’s frustrating, and I’ve had to seriously consider whether the Internet enhances or detracts from my enjoyment of wrestling. At the moment it’s spoiling it. We’re definitely not closing the blog because we love it dearly. And I’m not deleting the Twitter account, but it’s time to reconsider the sources of information I seek out, take note of and allow to cross my path. Differences in opinion and debate are healthy and spark new ideas, but pandering to rumours, sourceless stories and the fans who force their negativity on others only fuels their fire. Being passionate about something isn’t measured in how loud you shout and, from here on in, I refuse to allow people shouting far too loudly to steal professional wrestling away from me.

 

 

What? Already? Bloody hell, it’s only the Over the Limit predictions

I have to question the logic of cramming in an extra PPV in the month after Wrestlemania. Considering the amount of sales they expect for ‘Mania, a bit of breathing space might be nice. Still, I’m sure they know what they’re doing. This weekend is the second Over The Limit PPV, and just looking at the posters for the two years you can see how much times have changed. Daniel Bryan on a Pay Per View poster? Surely the true harbinger of the rapture…

Sidekick Andrew: First up, the obligatory Divas match for the “butterfly emblazoned title” (© wwe.com) Brie is inexplicably Divas Champion (a fact I had to enlighten Boss Lady Ray with, which should give you an indication of how successful a champion she is) and Kelly is looking for her first title. Of course, this is really about one person, and one person only…

Yep, pretty sure Kharma is making an appearance and saving this match from being as awful as it promises to be. Seriously, with Beth, Natalya, Kharma and Gail on your roster, Brie bloody Bella and Kelly Kelly are the best you have to offer? Sheesh… Anyway, I’m going to go with Kelly winning the title, after Kharma comes out and distracts Brie long enough for Kelly to sloppily pull off a roll up.

Boss Lady Ray: It’s true. I, chief person in charge of being frustrated at the treatment of the Divas Division, had to ask the Sidekick who currently held the title. Times is bleak. I actually don’t think either will win the match. I’m guessing Kharma will interfere and end it early. Kelly and Brie can finish it another time. More importantly, I’m desperately hoping Beth and Natalya come out to beat Kharma down. UHH. I’m getting excited just thinking about it. I know WWE people read this blog (hah!) so let’s make it happen, people.

Sidekick Andrew: Hmm, I’ll confess I’ve not been watching as much WWE as I perhaps should have been. Over than Tough Enough, Superstars and Z! The True Long Island Story we’ve been (slowly) working our way through King of Trios over the last couple of weeks instead. As such, I’m not sure what’s going on with these two. I saw Chavo doing guest commentary on Sin Cara’s match the other week, and they had a very manly handshake in the ring afterwards (complete with FORESHADOWING)

While I don’t have much interest in the reasons for this match, I am looking forward to the actual match itself. Sin Cara is pretty exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he performs on a PPV setting after his slightly shaky Raw matches. Chavo is a pretty safe pair of hands for him to go against, seemingly bringing the best out of the newer guys on the roster (I believe he had Daniel Bryan and Rey Mysterio’s first WWE matches.) Pretty sure Sin Cara is winning this one though. If WWE are wanting to push him then a PPV win would be a nice start.

Boss Lady Ray: Unlike my slack colleague, I have been making an effort to watch WWE programming of late. We’ll discuss this at your appraisal, Andrew. I do, however, agree that Sin Cara’s got this one sewn up. He was such a huge acquisition and he’s not had the brilliant start everyone was expecting. Chavo’s a loveable dork and happy to put anyone over. It’s a perfect marriage.

Sidekick Andrew: I have absolutely no idea what’s going on here. I know R-Truth is supposedly a heel now, which means that everyone hates him…

Wakka Wakka!

I’ve literally nothing else to say about this one, other than I want Mysterio to win and that I’m looking forward to the Divas match more than this one.

Boss Lady Ray: You see, if Andrew had been watching Raw (which admittedly he’s always avoided) he’d know that R-Truth is rather hilarious as a heel. He’s still mad as a box of frogs, what with his krayzee-eyez, his waffle about kicking pets and hateful hospital food, but Truth is significantly more interesting now than when he’s winning the crowd over with his low-rent rapping. He keeps telling us he’s going prove his worth, so I think Truth will take this one in rather violent fashion. I’m still holding out for a promo to rival this one though:


Everything was falling apart around him. And he seemed helpless to halt the collapse; he could only witness it, completely impotent, snatched up and gripped by processes too powerful for him to understand. (Philip K Dick)

Sidekick Andrew: That was a bit geeky wasn’t it, quoting sci-fi authors – but then I’m writing on a wrestling blog so the “cool” ship has pretty much sailed I’m afraid. The Corre is slowly collapsing under the weight of thousands of unsold t-shirts with that terrible logo on. Jackson has been ex-communicated in that particularly gangland method of kicking the crap out of him then tipping a wheelie bin full of invisible glass bottles on top.

Much as I love Barrett, and all local bias aside, I think Jackson might win this one. He needs the push much more than Barrett at the moment, and this could be the time for the Corre to implode completely. Slater messes up costing Barrett the title somehow; Barrett turns on him; Slater’s hetero life partner Gabriel jumps in to interfere; end of the Corre. In fact, you could say… Corre no More! Get it! It rhymes and everything! Ah well, as the Space Pirates would say, “if you don’t get it, just forget it.”

On the other hand, if you did get the reference, you've now got "na nanana na... Space Pirates!" stuck in your head

Boss Lady Ray: I have no children and yet I know the theme tune to Space Pirates. I need to get pregnant so I can justify my unrelenting enjoyment of children’s television. Clearly I’m made for motherhood! Anyway, I’m going to disagree with the Sidekick on this one. The Corre is definitely on its way out, but I think Wade’s keeping the title and ditching his cronies for good. The Corre hasn’t worked that well and Wade needs to get back to ticking ‘World Domination’ off his to-do list before he misses the boat.

Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company. (George Washington)

Sidekick Andrew: I’m pretty sure the only word to describe this match is going to be “ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww.” The match itself won’t be that great, although as long as Lawler gets the win and we can put an end to Cole wrestling I’ll be happy. I’ll be happy for Lawler to carry on feuding with Swagger or something, but just stop Cole’s involvement… please?

My biggest issue with this match though is the stipulation – a “Kiss My Foot” match where the loser must kiss the winner’s foot. As far as I’m aware, this has been done once before in the WWE with Lawler and Bret Hart, which does make me wonder just how much Lawler likes feet (if you know what I mean.) I did manage to find footage of a Kiss my Foot match in FCW between Katie Lea (later WWE’s Katie Lea Burchill and TNA’s Winter) and Milena Roucka (later that really flexible girl running from Rey Mysterio’s uncle in the amazing Wrestlemaniac) but that probably appeals to a completely different market coughTurtlecough

Casting aside images of attractive women flexibly kissing each others appendages for a moment, do we really want to see Cole kissing Lawler’s foot? His sixty two year old wizened goblin trotter, sweating and stinking from being cramped inside a tight boot and wrestling under hot lights for 10 minutes or so? Does anybody really enjoy that kind of thing? Kissing dirty feet?

oh... right... eww...

Boss Lady Ray: Oh! Bloody brilliant! I’ve spent ages trying to rid this blog of sinister search terms and now they’ll all be swarming over here like zombies running at a fresh human. Sod off, you creepy foot freaks! Be ashamed of yourselves. *SHUDDER*

I keep saying that Lawler will win because I’m so desperate for Cole to stay in his commentary seat and stop interrupting Divas matches. Using the skill of reverse psychology I’m going to predict Cole to win. I really can’t lose. Either this feud ends, which is preferable, or I win a point in the predictions competition. Win-win.

Sidekick Andrew: No points for guessing who Boss Lady Ray is pulling for in this match. On the one hand we’ve got current Tag Team Champions Big Show and Kane, not exactly two of her favourite wrestlers. On the other team we have CM Punk, a man that the Boss has an almost ridiculous crush on (especially in those lavender trunks.) He’s teaming with the best that Wales has to offer.

Mae fy hofrenfad yn llawn llyswennodMae fy hofrenfad yn llawn llyswennod!

Only joking (please don’t sack me Boss!) He is of course teaming with the “chainsaw temper and menacing muscle” (wwe.com again) of Mason Ryan. Now, I think even Ray will admit that Ryan is still slightly green in the ring, but even so I think he and Punk will take the titles. Ryan, with guidance, should be absolutely fine in tag matches with Punk, rather than being unfortunately exposed in singles competition. All he needs to do at first is look menacing and occasionally clothesline someone, and I’m sure he could do that pretty well. Basically, I have an overwhelming vision of Punk holding the title at the end of match with a massive shit-eating grin plastered across his face. Although, admittedly, this weekend should have taught both me and Harold Camping not to trust in visions.

Boss Lady Ray: Speaking of visions, I’m just recalling that dream I once had where Tom Jones showed up in his own version of a referee’s outfit.

I was tempted to suggest that Mason would cost he and Punk the match, but I just can’t do it. Punk needs a new title and I really want to see Mason win his first. This is love, lust and pride versus a couple of old geezers I’ve never much cared for. No contest. Punk & Bazza to win. Can we please hurry up with these? Tom Jones has just thrown some bubble-bath in the hot-tub and I want to get in on that action. HUH! *Jones-esque hip girations*

Sidekick Andrew: Randy Orton vs Christian: or, as we have taken to calling it in the Bunker, Vince McMahon vs The Internet. I’ve already written briefly about the frankly hysterical uproar when Orton beat Christian for the title, so I won’t go back over old ground. Suffice to say that Orton’s retaining the belt this weekend. There is definitely an argument to be made that the amount of complaints from fans and blogs online might make the WWE think that they made a mistake and that the title should go back to Christian. It might make Vince reconsider his apparent belief that Christian isn’t a draw and shouldn’t be in the main event scene. It might make him realise that the vast majority of the internet have lost interest in Randy Orton and… his… interminably… slow… delivery, both in ring and on the microphone.

It might do all this, if Vince McMahon cared even slightly what the internet thought.

Boss Lady Ray: If the whole purpose of giving Randy Orton the title so soon after he was drafted was so that he could become the face of Smackdown, it doesn’t make any sense to take it away again. I’ve no doubt that Christian will get it back again, but I’m not sure it’s happening before Summerslam. And if you think WWE panders to fans whining about who has the title, you’re dreaming.  Randy to retain.

Sidekick Andrew: Really? REALLY? Does anyone think Miz is going to take the title back this weekend? Much as I like The Miz, the idea of Cena saying “I Quit” is pretty unthinkable. He’s been in three previous I Quit matches (against JBL at Judgement Day 2005, Orton at Breaking Point 2009 and Batista at last year’s Over the Limit) and come out on top each time. Even wwe.com admit that the words I Quit “have never been in his vocabulary.”

Cena’s retaining the title. They’re not going to take it off him this quickly, even if the internet want Miz to get to it back (see above.) Much as I would love to see the show go off air with Miz holding the title aloft and Cena having quit, it seems very very unlikely to me.

aww...

Boss Lady Ray: Yesterday when we discussed this in the Wrestle Bunker, I was all about Cena keeping the title. No way was Miz getting it back. I even did a sassy finger snap and a head bob to confirm my confidence. Today I’m not so sure. I’m going to say that neither will quit and someone will interfere. Who and for what reason, I have no idea. The Rock? HHH? Soapy Tom Jones? I’m just going on a hunch. An instinct. But we all know how terrible my instincts are. It’s amazing I’ve made it through the first disc of L.A. Noire!


A Song for Whoever: Christian & Randy Orton Edition

Sidekick Andrew: There’s only been one story apparently worth discussing this week, at least according to the more vocal areas of the “Internet Wrestling Community” (God, I hate that phrase.) It wasn’t the amazing episode of Superstars that aired this week. It wasn’t The Rock’s birthday, or the surprisingly great Extreme Rules PPV. It wasn’t even the fact that Thursday was the anniversary of the death of Raymond Kessler, the Haiti Kid.

Rest in peace little man...

Nope, this week all anybody would talk about (despite the fact that IT INVOLVED SPOILING BLOODY SMACKDOWN FOR ME) was the fact that Christian lost his World Heavyweight Championship to Randy Orton after two days (or five if you go by broadcast date.) Apparently this was the worse thing that the WWE have ever done, and act which would persuade many fans to stop watching altogether – which is pretty telling given that this was a company who have run incest and necrophilia angles over the years.

Yep, that's the Head of New Talent Development

I promised Boss Lady Ray I wouldn’t go on a rant about this, so I won’t. Suffice to say that I whole-heartedly feel that wrestling (as usual) overreacted to something that really had no significance in the long run. Christian won the title will the help of Edge’s interference, a fact that seems to have been forgotten by most complainants. The WWE have given him the title once, they’ll give it him again: and hopefully this time he can win it clean and it will mean more. Also, the wrestling fans in the audience at these events (as opposed to the wrestling fans sat at home moaning on twitter) love Randy Orton – the guy gets a bigger pop than pretty much anybody on the Smackdown roster since he was drafted. The WWE are just giving the fans what they want, if not what the internet fans want.

So internet fans, this week’s Song for Whoever is actually dedicated to you rather than Christian & Orton. In fact, as you’ve had such a heart-rending experience we’ll give you a few songs. You’re welcome…



Celebrating the nuptials of HRH Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton

Yes, it may have escaped your attention during the incessant media coverage of Extreme Rules this week, but there was also a Royal Wedding planned for this weekend. By the you read this the rather low key affair will be all over, and we can get back to being swamped by coverage of yet another gimmick PPV from the WWE. And, sticking with tradition, we’d like to share our thoughts, predictions and well wishes for all involved.

Sidekick Andrew: It almost seems sacrilege to discuss this match on such a heartwarmingly romantic weekend, celebrating as it does the break up of one of our favourite WWE couples. No, not that kind of couple, although I’m sure if you search hard enough in the darker recesses of the internet you can find crudely photoshopped images and tawdry scribblings discussing just that.

We’ve long been fans of LayCool here at The Bunker. Despite a rather shaky start during the infamous Piggy James angle, we soon came to appreciate the comedy genius of Layla in particular. Through their genius internet-baiting role as NXT Pros to their run as “BFF Champs” they’ve been consistently entertaining characters. They may have even influenced our choice of XBox LIVE mottos, depending on how sad that revelation makes us sound.

Anyway, before I embarrass us anymore I should reveal that I want Layla to win this “Loser Leaves Smackdown” match. This is partly due to the fact that I don’t like Michelle McCool anywhere near as much as I like Layla. However, if I was going to be all “internet wrestling community” about it, I would say that McCool seems the type to buy into the whole A-Show/B-Show nonsense and would want to be on Raw facing the likes of Kong and Phoenix. And let’s face it, she has the influence to get what she wants…

Saturday Morning Edit: What? Loser leaves WWE? Really? Oh well, despite the fact that the overdubbing only managed to remind me of the infamous “I have to go now. My planet needs me.” line from The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie show, I suppose this lends a degree of gravitas to the match. I think the (Scott Stanford approved) Boss Lady is right on this one, and someone will interfere. Having said that, as it’s a No DQ, No Count Out match, I’m sticking with Layla to win, but due to interference
McCool will have an argument to stay with the WWE.

Boss Lady Ray: When this was a ‘Loser Leaves Smackdown’ match, I was pretty sure Layla was staying on Smackdown, with Michelle trotting off to Raw. However, after watching Smackdown and hearing the hilarious and atrocious dubbing of Michelle McCool replacing “Smackdown” with “WWE”, I’m inclined to think neither of them will win. If ever there was a clear sign from them on high that Kong/Kharma is about to debut in the WWE, this is it. My guess is that Kharma will interfere with the match and they’ll both be disqualified, leaving the two of them gainfully employed. Who knows? Maybe it’ll bring them back together. Here’s hoping. I supposed it’s No DQ though, they’d both have to be unfit to continue. A small price to pay to keep your job.

Flawless?

Sidekick Andrew: “Country Whipping Tag Match?” Yeah, I’ve no idea either. I’ve just checked the match description on wwe.com and they offer no help whatsoever. Admittedly I’ve been rather lax with my WWE watching over the last couple of weeks, so there’s always a chance that they may have explained this in meticulous detail on TV. I can only assume it’s something to do with butter maybe? Although the idea of these four wrestling in butter brings forth an uncomfortable mix of Deliverance and Last Tango in Paris – a mental image I could have happily gone to my grave without ever experiencing…

I think everyone can agree that unlike the previous match, we’ll all be happy to see the partnership of Cole and Swagger fall apart on Sunday. Swagger deserves better, and let’s be honest – Cole outstayed his welcome after the first appearance of his gong on NXT. Having said that, I think Cole and Swagger will win, with Swagger getting the pin (or more likely submission.) This will cause Cole to get all stroppy as he wanted the glory. As I explained to Boss Lady Ray across the boardroom table during our discussions, this can only lead to “PUSH – PUSH – PUNCH – PUNCH – GUTWRENCH POWERBOMB” and the end of the Cole-Swagger partnership at last.

Boss Lady Ray: I just want it to be over. This storyline should be have been drawn to a close at Wrestlemania. Michael Cole’s ego has been on the puff-up since Daniel Bryan gave him a smack way back on series one of NXT. This really has to be the moment where Cole eats his humble pie, shuts up and lets the people in the ring be the stars. King and JR to win with Swagger sticking the GUTWRENCH POWERBOMB! on Cole after it’s all done. As for the whipping thing, I have no idea, but if it does involve butter I’ll be skipping the toast and having cereal for my breakfast the next morning. Bleurgh.  

Sidekick Andrew: This Falls Count Anywhere match could be great. Cody’s a great wrestler and Rey always pulls out the stops at PPVs. The fact that it’s Falls Count Anywhere gives Mysterio chance to jump off something tall to get a victory, and much as I would like Cody to win I think Rey will get the pin.

Actually, you know what? Despite the fact I am pretty much looking forward to this match, I can’t actually come up with much to say about it. We’ve seen these two go at it a few times now, and there’s only so much to talk about. Instead, here’s a completely irrelevant video of another short flippy masked guy we really like here in The Bunker:

Boss Lady Ray: Being that Rey Mysterio is moving to Raw and possibly winding down for a break, I’m going to go with Rey. With Cody staying on Smackdown the feud needs to end and it’ll be a nice farewell to SD if Mysterio wins. Cody Rhodes was the surprising winner in the Legacy split and with himself, Ted DiBiase and Randy Orton all now on Friday nights, there’s potential for something interesting between Ted and Cody in particular. It’ll be a Rey Mysterio spot-fest, but hey, let him enjoy it.

Sidekick Andrew: Hmm… Wrestlegasm favourite Punk vs the Most Boring Wrestler in Christendom, Randy Orton. I don’t think anyone has dropped in estimation as much as Orton, not since Powell Motors revealed “The Homer”

Now that my obligatory Simpsons reference is out of the way, I’ve a feeling that Punk will take this one. After all the rumours swirling around this week about Punk wanting a break and not signing a new contract yet, this could go either way. There’s a possibilty the WWE could decide to punish him and give him a loss so that he doesn’t feel like he’s indispensable. But I think they’re more likely to give him the victory as an incentive to keep him. A Last Man Standing loss is particularly embarrassing for a wrestler: being unable to answer a ten count is almost up there with an I Quit loss and I just can’t picture Punk being down for that long. Orton, on the other hand, is a big fan of the rest hold and slow action – so there’s always a chance he’ll just not realise the time has passed letting Punk get the win.

Saturday Morning Edit: OK, I’ll admit Orton looks good with his new beard, and I enjoyed his little smiley promo at the start of Smackdown last night. Is it just me, or does he have a look of Beckham with that stubble? Anyway, doesn’t effect my prediction, just thought I’d mention it.

Boss Lady Ray: My inherent wish to see CM Punk win is never far away when making predictions. There’s a good reason why I’m losing 2-5 in our little competition. But even though it goes against every fibre in my body, I think they’ll give this one to Orton. They’re on different brands now, so it has to come to a close, and I never really dug it as a feud anyway. It’s hard to know what plans they have for Punk. It’s even harder to know whether the rumours that he’s not planning on renewing his contract are true or not. But I think Punk’s work for the next few months lies with Mason Ryan.

Those big hints of tension between them lead me to think Mason may be about to cost his boss the match on Sunday, leading to a run that finally puts Mason over. They made him FCW Champion amazingly quickly, to the point where he even mentioned that he wasn’t sure he deserved it so soon. Modesty is a Welsh trait. They also excused him the embarrasment of appearing on NXT like the rest of the FCW roster. They’ve got plans for Mason Ryan and this might just be the push they’re waiting on. If that’s the case and Punk’s about to bring him up, I may need to watch those matches alone in a darkened room.

Ray: Asian Edition


Sidekick Andrew: I have no idea why Morrison is suddenly in the main event scene. I like the guy as a wrestler, but he still can’t talk and I can’t quite picture him as champion. Of course it could be worse, R-Truth could still be involved in the match.

Thanks for that John, I almost feel bad for saying you shouldn’t win now. Almost. I suspect that the reverse of this will happen before the match itself, and Truth will take down Morrison backstage or on the entrance ramp. Morrison and Truth can then carry on feuding all they want, without muddying the title race on Raw. That leaves Cena and Miz to have a Cage Match by themselves: a match which should be good fun. I think Miz will win this one, despite not having Alex Riley at his side anymore after the draft.

I think Miz has earned a legit title defence without any outside interference to make him look like the champion, rather than someone who needs help to win everytime. Cena can afford to lose now and then without losing any credibilty or fans, and he genuinely comes across as someone who is happy to put over new talent, so that’s what I hope happens.

Boss Lady Ray: Andrew’s prediction is very logical. This is why he’s winning our little predictions competition 2-5. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Morrison will win. I KNOW! It’s ridiculous! He can’t string more than two sentences together without fumbling the order of the words and it definitely looks like they’ve put him there so he can start something more long running with Truth. But I’ve decided that’s a bluff. Yes, Miz absolutely deserves a clean win over Cena, but since when is wrestling logical and generous? I’m not saying Morrison will have it for long but….actually, this prediction is completely ludicrous. I’ll stick with it to see if I’m cuckoo or a genius.

Sidekick Andrew: Here’s a strange one. Whoever wins, this definitely has the chance to be the match of the night – these two in a Ladder Match should steal the show. Also, both men deserve a win – Christian is long due another title run, and Del Rio won the Royal Rumble only to lose in the opening match at Wrestlemania.

Of course, Del Rio has been drafted to Raw now, so the chances of him winning are pretty slim, but that needn’t effect the quality of the match at all. Knowing the winner (or assuming you know the winner) doesn’t always lessen your enjoyment of the actual match. So, although I think it’s reasonably foregone conclusion that Christian will get the belt, I’m still really looking forward to this match and I think it’ll be something pretty special.

Boss Lady Ray: I agree with everything my esteemed colleague said. Christian will most likely win, but I’m more excited about watching what promises to be an outstanding wrestling match.

So there you have it. Feel free to add your own predictions in the comments box if you so desire. Real predictions only. If you’ve read spoilers and want to look big and clever by getting everything right, you’re only cheating yourself. Oh and if you’re wishing you could eat your tea off those gorgeous plates…… so are we!

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.