Night of Champions: The Predictions

Due to screwed up personal scheduling, we weren’t able to predict SummerSlam the way we like to. Rae wasn’t even supposed to be around to watch it, let alone write about it. Gawd bless the NHS! Andrew did knock some up on our Tumblr though. Life is a little full at the moment, so if you’re finding this space a tad empty, you can find us on Tumblr and on Twitter (here and here) most days. Some spare Sunday moments have allowed us time to predict Night of Champions though, which we invite you to devour forthwith….

Sidekick Andrew: Have I mentioned recently just how much I love Ziggler? His “Ask the Heel” segment on Zack Ryder’s T:LIS has really helped showcase his personality way more than having Vickie Guerrero be his mouthpiece. In fact, speaking of Ask the Heel, I’ve just found out that the logo is based on a “specialist internet website” which makes sense given the amount that Ziggler tweets about porn. is not responsible for any irrevocable damage to relationships, employment history or congregation size due to visiting the aforementioned website

Anyway, now that my admittedly biased admiration for Ziggler has been reinforced, I’m afraid to say I don’t think he’ll win this match. I’d love him to keep the belt (if nothing else, to paraphrase in Men in Black, he makes it look GOOD) but I think they’ll move it on to someone else for a while. For some reason I’m leaning towards Alex “Utterly Butterly” Riley taking the title. He’s due a push, if for no other reason than to test him. Morrison’s not going to be winning much for a while and Swagger just isn’t doing anything for me at the moment.

Boss Lady Rae: Much as I’ve enjoyed Dolph and Vickie’s comedy coupling, they’ve been teamed up for a long time now. Remember back when Vickie was inviting him into her office to hang pictures on the wall in teeny hotpants? That was aaaaages ago. My Ziggler crush isn’t quite as pulsating as Andrew’s, but I do believe he’s wildly underrated and could be due a solo push without his “cougar” crutch very soon.

Never gets old.

For that reason I think this is the perfect time to shift the title and Vickie’s favour to Jack Swagger. Swagger stops floundering and Dolph starts, once again, trying to get to the top of the roster tree.

This is what happens when Andrew has technical problems and Rae has to finish the graphics.

Sidekick Andrew: Good grief Charlie Brown, I couldn’t agree more. Much as I like Cody Rhodes the chances of Ted DiBiase putting on an enjoyable match rather than coasting along on the family name seem to be getting slimmer than [insert “hilarious” Family Guy style pop culture reference here.] And to think, when Legacy split up DiBiase was the one I had high hopes for. I even had him pegged to wrestle Undertaker at Wrestlemania in a throwback to his dad originally bringing him in.

I’m hoping that Cody retains the title tonight. I’m not against him losing it (he has had it for a while now) but not to DiBiase. Please, anyone but him…

Boss Lady Rae: I wish I cared more about this match. No, really.  I do.  But truth is, every time I see Cody traipsing out with those paper bags all I can think is…. this is seriously still a thing? I like Cody and, like Andrew suggests, it’s astonishing that the break-out star of Legacy was the scrawny kid at the back hoping his mentor would allow him to utter a few words to camera, but this feud has lost me. Win me back, Cody. Win the match, send DiBiase packing, get the train back on the tracks and  let’s move on to better things.

Sidekick Andrew: First of all, Air Boom is a stupid name. I know it was suggested by the WWE Universe but let’s be honest, you wouldn’t trust most of them to choose their own cereal in the morning, never mind name your new tag team champions. I still think they should have gone with my suggestion anyway, not that I’m bitter or anything…

I’m pretty sure it’s too early to take the belts off *cough* Air Boom, so I think this match will end in a DQ finish and they’ll retain. If nothing else the DQ will give Miz/Truth more evidence for their conspiracy theory. Whether this will help kick-start a new tag team renaissance will remain to be seen, but anything that might just bring up the newly signed Antonio Cesaro (hopefully alongside Chris Hero or whatever they call him) can only be a good thing.

Boss Lady Rae: I’d love to have been in the meeting where  they approved the Air Boom name, but on balance I think they made the right decision. Consider some of the other portmanteau possibilities…..EvFi sounds like some kind of communications industry conference that technology nerds would watch streamed over the internet. KoVan is the name of the Turkish bloke who owns my local kebab shop and also wouldn’t look out-of-place on the back of an NBA jersey. (God, I’m glad I don’t have to watch the NBA anymore!) Any amalgamation of Kingston and Bourne comes out sounding like a low rent Jamaican version the Bourne book/film series, which I’d actually quite like to watch.

Hook me up, KoVan.

Enough of this tomfoolery, I think Miz and Truth need something to draw them together and, much as I adore seeing Evan’s happy little face shining next to the glow of the belt draped over his shoulder, I think it might be more interesting to have Miz & Truth holding the titles for a little while. I’m holding fire on hanging all my hopes on seeing the KoW reunited on WWE turf until I see Chris Hero change his Twitter name.

Sidekick Andrew: First of all I need to get something off my chest. Happy as I am that Beth and Natalya have a storyline and are getting to beat people up, this whole Divas of Doom gimmick does come across as slightly insulting. Maybe I’m in the minority in my tastes, but the notion that either of them are somehow less attractive than Kelly Kelly seems pretty laughable. There’s a reason Beth won my Crush Award alongside Dolph in last years awards.

That being said, at least she’s getting TV time now. I’m desperately hoping Beth takes the belt tonight, and hoping against hope that they drop the stupid “butterfly belt” while they’re at it. Also, I’d love it if Natalya started to get jealous over the next few weeks and the two fell out and feuded for a bit – Beth vs Natalya at Survivor Series could be an amazing match.

Boss Lady Rae: That’s definitely where this has to go eventually – Beth and Natalya fighting for the title, and it will be wonderful. But I can’t see it happening that soon. It makes sense to stretch Beth’s win tonight out to start rebuilding the division around stronger, more experienced women. Of course, that’s my inner optimist speaking. The WWE Divas Division is like a manipulative boyfriend you know is going to break your heart again, but maybe, just maybe, he’s changed for good this time. I don’t hate Kelly. I actually think she’s come an amazingly long way. I just desperately want to see the women I look up to leading the way. Don’t go breaking my heart. Again.

Sidekick Andrew: Oh Randy… has anyone fallen from grace with the fans as drastically as you? With the exception of Chris Benoit of course…

Boss Lady Rae: I did not sanction this gratuitous image

From being hailed as the best thing since sliced bread (#1 or #2) Orton slowly devolved into the dull… monotonous … plodding purveyor of “another headlock Randy?” I still hold out hope for Orton, his RKO can still be a thing of beauty and there are occasional flashes of exciting brilliance whenever he’s in the ring with an opponent that can get the best out of him…

Boss Lady Rae: That jumper looks well cosy.

Bless him. Mark Henry tries, he really does. Much like Kane he takes whatever nonsense they give him and just goes along with it, smiling… scowling… sweating…

Meanwhile the World Heavyweight Championship gets tied up between the two, giving us a match I’m struggling to look forward to. The fact that Orton & Henry basically rehashed Monday’s HHH/Punk promo on Smackdown this week hasn’t helped inject any novelty or excitement for me either. I suspect Orton will keep the title, but only because The World’s Soggiest Man as World Heavyweight Champion is pretty unthinkable.

Boss Lady Rae: I do not share my colleague’s indifference to Mark Henry. I kind of like the idea of a champion that just goes out and smashes everyone up while grunting and sweating. We don’t see that very often. And any man who can pull off such an incredible expanse of khaki knitwear is OK with me. I’m going to say Henry will win, but only have the title for a short time before losing it again. This title needs some new blood to carry it through to Wrestlemania. And besides, if the whole purpose of giving it to Orton was to make him the face of Smackdown after the draft, the half-hearted  SuperShow/Brand Mixing baloney has made that move redundant.

Sidekick Andrew: This match however could be great. I’m swiftly becoming an unabashed Cena fan, whether in ring or out, and as such I no longer approach his PPV title matches with the same sense of crushing inevitability as a moderately successful Z-List Celebrity in the vicinity of Katie Price

Del Rio consistently puts on good matches and as such I’ve high hopes for them blowing Orton/Henry out of the water. As for a winner, I’d prefer Del Rio to walk out champion, if only because I really can’t be arsed listening to the internet go on and on and on about Cena being Superman and getting another win.

Boss Lady Rae: I honestly don’t think John Cena is going to see the title again this side of Wrestlemania. They’ve invested so much into Cena vs The Rock that a title would only cloud the rivalry and deprive someone else of having a ‘moment’. Their fight can’t have any external distractions. We’re not quite on the ‘road to Wrestlemania’ yet, but we’re on one of the back streets leading up to it. I can just about hear the thumping bass line of a terrible pop tune I will grow to love dearly come April. For that reason, I’m going to say that Del Rio’s going to retain. That boy’s only just getting started.

Sidekick Andrew: Speaking of making the internet explode with impotent rage, this certainly has the opportunity to do just that. The idea of HHH winning in his first match since Wrestlemania, burying Punk in the process? Well … that would be a Twitter goldmine frankly.

That being said, I don’t think HHH is that stupid. Admittedly he’s been a glory seeking belt hog in the past, jobbing to no man, but it’s hard to refute he has a good head for the business. The way he’s gone along with this Punk storyline, breaking kayfabe left, right and centre leads me to think he’ll genuinely do what’s right for the company – in this case not burying the most “over” wrestler on the roster.

He is still HHH though, so I’m not sure how happy he’ll be with losing in his first match back. So I’m going to predict an enormous mess of a finish, with interference from at least Kevin Nash, and possibly HBK, leading to a No Contest. The internet will still go bonkers, but then I’m not watching live so while avoiding spoilers I’ll miss you all having a hissy fit 😛

Boss Lady Rae: At some point, when I have a little more time and can find the words to express it how I feel it, I’m going to write a big, word-count busting essay on this HHH/Punk/Cena storyline. For now, I shall just try to predict this match which, let’s be honest, will be nothing short of a giant cluster of nonsense. I actually think Punk will win, but there’s no way on earth this thing is ending cleanly. The sheer number of folk who could potentially interfere is mind-boggling. Personally, I’m hoping for another appearance from Mrs. McMahon-Levesque and Chris Jericho, because if he doesn’t come back soon and challenge that ‘Best in the World’ moniker, it will be a travesty.

And now, I’m going to watch the final segment on this week’s Raw again. All this ‘Phil’ and ‘Paul’ and ‘IN YOUR FACE SHOUTING’ and Punk not taking a single bite of the bait makes me feel funny. In a good way.


A Song for Whoever: Mr. McMahon Edition

BOSS LADY RAY: Sometimes when we write these posts I have plenty to say about a particular happening, but it takes ages to find a song that fits as well as I want it to. Other times, a perfect song jumps to the front of my internal jukebox within just a few seconds of thought and I don’t need to give it too much introduction.

When Triple H relieved Mr. McMahon of his duties on last week’s Raw, it was surprisingly touching. Well, apart from the whole “I love you, Pop.” thing. That was freakin’ hilarious. But do you know what tugs on my heartstrings more than grown men crying? OLD men crying. It’s killer. Somehow, this once immortal powerhouse of a man, a captain of industry no less, looked terribly small and insignificant standing in the ring having just lost his empire.

So for HHH (not Paul) and Mr. McMahon (not Vince) here’s a crushingly apt song to sum up that awkward moment when your son-in-law fires you. “The show is over. Say goodbye.” Ouch! Here comes the Triple H Era…..

More Than a Feeling: CM Punk at Money in the Bank

I haven’t had much sleep. I took myself off to bed at 9:10pm last night with the hope of sleeping until Money in the Bank started at 1am. This didn’t happen and was largely down to the fact that I was too excited about the show to drift off.  By my calculations, I had about 90 minutes of uninterrupted sleep beforehand and didn’t fare too well afterwards either. The ending was so thrilling that when I returned to bed at 4:20am with the sun starting to rise and a stupid smile on my face, I found it impossible to sleep. It seems there is no natural antidote to adrenaline. Lord knows when I finally dropped off, but I know I was awake again not long after 8am. And now, in the early evening, I look and feel like death warmed up in the microwave, incurring the physical consequences of spending the night on North American time. I don’t regret a thing. What I experienced watching Money in the Bank was worth its weight in insomnia related nausea and under-eye luggage. It must be love!

I spent the first hour I was ‘awake’ trying to think about how I might express just how incredible last night was; writing whole paragraphs in my head and forgetting them the second I dotted them with a full-stop. I then turned to music and asked again….how do you explain something that’s bigger than a feeling and so much more important than a few wrestling matches? This was proceeded by 30 minutes of me playing Boston’s More than a Feeling on a loop, while treating the neighbours to my own unique, croaky brand of power ballad vibrato. “I closed mah eyes an’ ah slipped er-way-y-y-y-y-y-y.”

The show as a whole was the best of the year – better than the Rumble and definitely better than style-over-substance Wrestlemania. Every single match was booked to make the fans happy, which is almost unheard of. Both Money in the Bank matches were outstanding and, being the born-again indie kid that I am, seeing Daniel Bryan win the Smackdown briefcase was a massive surprise and a win I reacted to with…..

But if we’re all honest, we were only truly interested in one match – CM Punk vs John Cena. I had mixed feelings about this match. I never want anyone to become ill or burnt out just for the sake of my entertainment. I don’t expect wrestlers to be circus animals, jumping every time someone cracks a whip because they have no other choice than to keep going. But I have to admit that the idea of Punk leaving left my heart a little heavy.  Over the past few years I’ve fallen in love with Punk in the most wonderfully organic way. He was ‘just there’ for a long time, then I liked him, then I loved him…unconditionally. And despite what our blog archives will tell you, it really has nothing to do with the fact that he filled those tiny lavender trunks so impressively. The fact that I fancied the pants off him was a lovely bonus. He was just special. When Killswitch Engage’s crunching guitar rang out around countless arenas, I stopped what I was doing and paid attention – partly to swoon and sigh with my chin in my hands like a 1950s teeny-bopper, and partly because I knew that whatever was about to happen would indubitably be good.

Myself and Andrew had dipped in and out of Twitter throughout the show. In the early hours of the morning, feeling like you’re at a PPV party can be the stimulus you need to stay awake, but it can also be a distraction. There’s nothing more annoying than missing a brilliant, bone-crushing move because you were refreshing your Twitter feed at the time. As the promo video for the main event began, we decided to turn Twitter off and concentrate on what had the potential to be one of the most historic hours of wrestling in years. And so began a little experiment we’ll call ‘How many times can Ray’s stomach flip over in an hour.’

It began with the entrance. With that first rabid eruption of appreciation from the hometown crowd, synching perfectly with the initial scream in the entrance music, it  felt like my tummy was being stirred with a giant spoon, spinning back the other way and sending a shiver up my spine when Punk reached to the ground, looked at his imaginary watch and declared it was most definitely clobbering time. I can’t remember the last time a single wrestler caused that kind of crowd reaction, and as he marched down the ramp to the ring I started getting a little emotional. I promised myself I’d stay dry-eyed until the end, but as Punk plonked himself cross-legged in the middle of the ring, my bottom lip started to tremble and I declared out loud that “I love wrestling so much!” There have been so many moments where I’ve exclaimed the exact opposite (even as recently as a few weeks ago) but here I was brushing real tears away from the corners of my eyes, pressing my lips together tightly and more in love than I ever knew I could be – with Punk and with wrestling. It became even more intense when he jumped back to his feet, flew over to give him mum a kiss and whipped the crowd into even more of a frenzy.

The ‘BOO’ John Cena entered the arena to was so hostile I almost felt sorry for him, although it felt pretty awesome too. John’s not accustomed to being the bad guy, but for one night we entered an alternate universe where he felt the full brunt of an unappreciative crowd. John’s no stranger to hostility though. If he could survive a roasting from an old-school ECW crowd, he could cope with this. By this point I could feel my heart beating hard and fast in my chest. I didn’t even need to put my hand on it, I could just feel it pulsating far faster than it ever should be at gone 3am. I had no idea where all this was coming from, but had to concede that I loved wrestling even more than I had admitted to and was more than happy to roll with this glorious feeling.

The match was strange. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to happen. We had decided not to make any predictions for it because we wanted to just absorb whatever they had in store. The downside to this was that I had no clue what a good or bad outcome would feel like. All I knew was that every time John pinned Punk, I gasped loudly and held my hands to my face. Every time that pin was reversed I lifted my shoulders to my ears, sunk my nails into the leather of the couch and held my breath counting “1, 2..awww.” And it got worse. I watched the time ticking away, knowing that the further into this thing we got, the more chance there was of that three-count actually ending with the bell ringing.

The defining moment for me was late in the match when Punk dove through the middle of the ropes to land on a dizzy John and reached up to high-5 his mum. He had his two best friends and other family members whooping and hollering across the barrier and a crowd whose noise levels refused to quit. After that I was lost to the match, carried along entirely by the pacy back and forth between the two like a rip-tide I couldn’t and didn’t want to fight. STFs, failed attempts at making John Go to Sleep, duelling crowd chants, wobbly top rope leaps, raised shoulders and quivering hands trying desperately not to spank the mat and submit – I loved it all and responded to each with a new swear word of increasing obscenity. It seems I swear a lot when I’m that excited.

When Mr. McMahon and John Laurinaitis turned up, my mood changed. For all I praise the McMahons and the brand of wrestling they pump out every week, if they ruined this for me I would not be a happy bunny! I believe the expression I used was “DON’T FUCK THIS UP! PLEAAAAASE!” When Vince called for the bell, my “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” could have woken people three streets away, but they didn’t mess it up at all. John indicated that he wanted everything to be legit, the GTS did its job for the first time all match and the three-count finally hit the three with both John’s shoulders down.

I reached up and punched the air above my head repeatedly, pyjama sleeves flopping around in the downdraft. I think I just figured out what I wanted to happen. Even when Vince marched Alberto Del Rio out to cash in his MITB contract, I knew he wasn’t going to get it. They had given Punk the moment he deserved and there was no going back. I revelled in the euphoria of it all as Punk blew a vacant-faced Mr. McMahon a kiss and disappeared into the Chicago crowd, reaching their hands out to touch him as if some form of messiah was passing among them.

Then that little green logo appeared in the bottom left corner of my screen and it hit me that he was gone.

Remember that scene in Titanic where Rose is floating around in the freezing Atlantic and she has to blow a whistle and scream for the lifeboat to collect her? And remember how she barely had enough breath to make a sound? I felt like that. I don’t want him to go. I wanted to drag him back and force him to stay. I wanted to promise that everything would be OK if he just stuck around. At 4:00am I was exhausted and emotional enough that this all made perfect sense. It all seems a little ludicrous now. WHISTLE-WHISTLE-WHISTLE. COME BAHHHHCK! COME BAAAAAAHHHHHCK! WHISTLE-WHISTLE-WHISTLE. COME BAHHHHHHCK!

For the next 30 minutes I rested my head into the back of the chair with what can only be described as a gorgeous post-coital floatiness. I don’t really mind what you loved about it, as long as you did love it. Whether you loved it because Punk was sticking it to the man, or that John Cena proved his immeasurable worth, or that Vince allowed himself to be ridiculed in the name of narrative, or because of the cacophony of sound coming from the audience, that you saw an incredible wrestling match, or just (like me) that you felt moved seeing your favourite performer reach their full potential for the very first time – it all works. All I care about is that you felt that same tingle under your skin that I did. And if you didn’t, we need to talk. Sometimes you have to give yourself over to the story, even if you know the ending will make you sad.

I suppose now that Punk’s having a holiday I need a new person to direct my affections to towards, eh? Hey, Colt Cabana. How you doin’?

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.

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*






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:

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.

A Song for Whoever: Mark Henry & Cody Rhodes Edition

Sidekick Andrew: This week’s Song For Whoever can actually be about the WWE for once, as I’ve followed Boss Lady Ray’s demands and actually watched some TV this week. Admittedly it was Capitol Punishment, Superstars and Smackdown rather than Raw; I’m not going to change my habits that much…

Although this was admittedly genius

One thing that’s really come across to me in my first week back watching WWE is how much more believable Mark Henry is as a heel. While there’s always a place for a “good guy giant” type of character, Big Show is currently filling that role. Admittedly Khali has turned heel as well, but let’s face it… who cares?

On second thoughts... SWOON

From manhandling Big Show through the Spanish announce table at Capitol Punishment, to taking out Kane on Raw Henry’s been on a roll this week. Culminating with taking out Big Show again on Smackdown and winning the main event tag match later on the show, the “World’s Soggiest Man” seems to be really doing well since his weight loss and something remarkable has happened. I’ve somehow gone from dreading his appearances on screen to actually starting to think I’d like to see him have a title run.

This one’s for you Mr Henry. You’re certainly a big man, you’ve been showing you can be a bad man recently and, errrm… well… I suppose 2 out of 3 ain’t bad?

BOSS LADY RAY: Ahhhh children. So young. So precious. When they’re small all they want is to be just like you. They copy everything you do and try to emulate you because you’re mum/dad and just so cool. It’s a glorious time for all.

Look at us hoisting out children in the air! We are very happy!

As they grow, that changes. You eventually become the most uncool person in their lives. It is inevitable that at some point they’ll slam their bedroom door in your face and tell you they hate you. They don’t mean it.

If my mother wore that bloody awful scarf I'd refuse to look at her too.

The tension is multiplied if said child chooses to follow a parent into their profession. They will forever feel stressed at trying to live up to the parent’s professional expectations and climb out of their shadow. Luckily for me I faint at the sight of my own blood, so medicine was never on my agenda. I threw out the idea of being a paramedic after we drove past a man under the wheels of a van on the motorway one summer when I was in high school, and I  discounted physiotherapy when I found out it was a six-year course that began with cutting up dead people. Sorry, Dad.

The life of a second or third generation wrestler is a minefield of expectation. Those with a family legacy to live up to must surely feel pressured into being better than their relatives. An ingrained inferiority complex wouldn’t be surprising at all. This was beautifully illustrated by Daniel Bryan on this week’s Smackdown. Neither myself nor Andrew really enjoy Cody Rhodes’ current gimmick. We love the music and his titantron, but we’re just not digging the whole paper bag deal.We were discussing just this when Daniel Bryan showed up on Smackdown to put an end to Cody’s silliness with some pop psychology.  Bryan suggested that the Codester wasn’t afraid of his own ‘ugliness’ at all. He was just using it as a crutch to avoid the fact that he didn’t feel he lived up to Daddy Dusty’s legend. Give that man an honourary PhD from a mid-quality university!

I’d like to apologise for choosing this song for Cody. I am a self-confessed lover of Country music, but this is one of the most atrocious songs ever written, recorded and sold. Props go out to anyone who makes it to the end of the video without dry-heaving.

What a capitol idea! It’s another new WWE PPV predictions post!

Sidekick Andrew: Let’s get this out of the way first shall we? Look at that poster up there. It’s bloody horrible. We really enjoyed Fatal-4-Way last year here in the bunker, so there’s a chance I’m just feeling bitter that they replaced it with this, but the whole show seems like a bit of a non-event. The fact I haven’t really been watching any WWE shows recently might also be a contributing factor – which does mean that my predictions will be “from the heart” rather than based on any actual knowledge. I’m pretty sure this is how Boss Lady Ray does her predictions each month, and look how well she’s doing… [Boss Lady Ray’s Edit: I’m losing deliberately. Duh!]

Sidekick Andrew: First up is Kingston vs Ziggler for the US Title. I have it on good authority that Ziggler has agreed with Austin to dump Vickie in return for a title shot.

It’s no secret that I have a pretty massive man-crush on Dolph Ziggler (hey, it could be worse right? It could be Justin Bieber or someone…) As such, I want Ziggler to hold a belt again. Kofi is a fun wrestler, but as a character he does nothing for me. Ziggler on the other hand makes a great cocky champion and I really want to see him in that role again.

Boss Lady Ray: Dolph’s been knocking about with Vickie for quite some time now and if he’s going to move on they probably need to separate them. A Dolph win without Mrs. Guerrero at his side would do that. I’m more than happy for Dolph and his re-bleached locks to start creeping back up to the top again. He was so very nearly there and, lovely as Kofi is, he holds no interest for me at the moment.

Sidekick Andrew: I’ve no idea why these two are feuding again, but they have a history of great matches over the last couple of years. We still have fond memories of Punk singing Happy Birthday to Rey’s daughter, and I wrote about how great their matches were even at house shows here.

So, despite not having a clue why these two are fighting again, I am looking forward to this match. It certainly should be the best match of the night if nothing else. As for a winner, I’m going to have to go with Punk.

Boss Lady Ray: Punk hasn’t had a successful run in so long. It’s hurting my heart. As the Sidekick said, this Mysterio feud had every drop of juice squeezed out of it in glorious fashion on Smackdown last year. This little dalliance is just a feeder feud to get them both through to Summerslam, where I expect them both to have moved on to other people. It may be wishful thinking, but I’m going to say Punk will win to start him on winning streak. I’m still not opposed to some kind of falling out with Mason Ryan. Now that WWE have started sending people on their merry way with their P45 in hand, I’m getting a bit nervous about ole Bazza’s employment status.

Easy, Tiger. We'll get you to the top. *shoulder-rub*

Sidekick Andrew: Hmmm… again (unsurprisingly) I have no idea why these two are feuding. It could be an interesting match though, and I’ll be intrigued to see how their styles gel with each other. Del Rio’s offence being aimed at his opponents arm could be tricky to pull off with someone of the Big Show’s size. They both have a lot of experience though, so I’d like to think they can pull something out of the bag.

I think Big Show will win this one. Not that he needs wins, he’ll always be over purely because he’s bloody massive. But I think they might consider splitting up Del Rio and Rodriguez soon, and having him mess up his interference and cost Del Rio a PPV win would be a nice way to do it. Plus Rodriguez said on Twitter this weekend that he was disappointed in the CHIKARA King of Trios this year, so I’m hoping he takes a kicking just for that.

Boss Lady Ray: He said WHAT? That is OUTRAGEOUS! We need to discuss. Not right now though. It makes me sad that the Del Rio match is the one I’m least interested in. As often happens, being drafted to Raw left Del Rio floating around behind the big hitters. Obviously you can’t tell how these things will work until you try them, but I can’t help but feel he’d have been better left on Smackdown.

Big Show will probably win as the good guy coming back to seek his revenge, but in a gesture of solidarity with what I think was one of the best WWE buys in years, I’m going to say Del Rio will win. And he can get rid of that wretched Rodriguez at the same time.

Sidekick Andrew: A-ha! I actually know a little bit about this one! Look at me, having some background information like a real wrestling journalist!

I only dress like this at the weekend, and even then it's strictly a comfort thing

So, the last thing I saw was Jackson getting beaten up and having a wheelie bin dropped on him by The Corre, but from what I can gather The Corre is pretty much done with now. I can’t say I’m surprised, given the drastic downturn in t-shirt logo quality from Nexus to Corre I’d be tempted to leave as well.

I’m going to with Barrett retaining the belt, but this PPV marking the definitive end of The Corre. Barrett needs a run by himself to show he’s capable of winning matches on his own merit. Slater & Gabriel would work well enough as faces or heels, and they could enjoy their slot as the “insert random tag match on day of PPV” team. I think Barrett won’t come out of the PPV unharmed, but I do think he’ll win, possible leading to a post-match beatdown to “beat him out of the gang” as he did with Jackson.

Boss Lady Ray: When we held a staff meeting to discuss these predictions yesterday (on my birthday, I should add. There’s dedication!) I was sure Wade would be dropping the belt to Zeke so he could finally walk away from The Corre alone with no ties to the group. However, Andrew’s logic seems pretty sound on this one and I do have a strange blind-spot when it comes to Wade Barrett. Maybe it’s Andrew’s local bias, maybe it’s because we followed him through every episode of NXT, maybe it’s because he quotes lyrics from Welsh bands on Twitter and confuses foreigners, but I find it hard to bet against him.

In the interest of keeping the competition between us spicy, I’m going to say that Wade will lose, but only so he can sever ties with The Corre and get back on his main event trail.

Trust me, Wade. I'm supporting you with tough-love.

Sidekick Andrew: Now, I think I might have seen some mention of this feud briefly on Twitter. I seem to recall a couple of people being slightly miffed at the fact that Christian lost the title to Orton so quickly. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and all for naught. Yes, Orton is still champion; and yes, he’s almost insufferably dull, but it has led to a storyline and a heel turn for Christian. What was it Jericho said?

Fancy that! It’s almost as if he has more experience and knowledge of the way pro-wrestling is booked and works than the members of the dreaded INTERNET WRESTLING COMMUNITY! I can’t see them turning around and just giving Christian the belt back just yet. As such I think Orton will win and retain the belt, but hopefully via DQ. I’d love to see Christian snap and just beat the crap out of Orton with a chair or something, really cement his heel status.

Boss Lady Ray: I think I made my views on the reaction to Christian losing his title quite clear last weekend, so I won’t repeat myself. I am, however, quite enjoying his heel turn. I’m not sure the audience have fully bought into it yet, but it certainly seems to have pushed Randy closer to being the face they’ve wanted him to be for a long time. This scrap has bucketloads of mileage left in it and I can’t see Christian getting the title back after there was such fuss when he lost it. Orton will retain and continue to buck the trend that is ‘facial hair = bad bad man’.

Sidekick Andrew: I’m pretty confused about this match. Regardless of the fact that I’ve missed their whole fall out, this match seems like a strange idea. I can’t imagine Miz getting beat by Riley considering how high the WWE are on him. I know people like Cena are in a position to lose and put guys over at PPVs (see below) but Miz doesn’t seem to be in that position just yet. The idea of Riley beating Miz seems like it can only leave Miz looking weak.

On the other hand, If Riley loses this match then the whole feud seems like a waste of time. Wrestling storyline logic states that in a position like this, the ex-sidekick gets the win, toppling the evil heel that has been dominating him for so long (take note Boss Lady.) Splitting them up and then having a blow off match on PPV which Riley loses seems pretty pointless, and wouldn’t bode well for his future. So, the match is either going to make one of their top stars look weak by losing to a guy with half the skill and a tenth of the charisma, or prove that the feud was a complete waste of our time and merely a shoddily put together plot device to fill some air time. Obviously The Miz is going to win, I certainly wouldn’t put it past them to happily waste our time like that.

Boss Lady Ray: Andrew, if you don’t start watching WWE with me again I’m going to send you off on a ‘sabbatical’. I mean, seriously, have I got a body odour problem you haven’t told me about?

I’ve quite enjoyed the way they’ve gradually brought Alex Riley to the fore. There’s something rather old-fashioned about it. Miz has been reigning high for a while, second only to Cena in being the guy they send out to promote the company. The loss to Piper and the way Austin metaphorically brought Miz to his knees on Raw this week were nothing short of genius. He will be just as good at playing ‘the fall of the Miz’ as he was at playing ‘The Rise of…’ For this reason, I think Alex Riley will win this one, leaving Miz with a broken man to play and Riley with a growing following.

Sidekick Andrew: Yeah, I’m just going to throw all my credibility away and pick R-Truth to win this match. While I’m at it, I’d like to confess that I have a certain fondness for Avril Lavigne as well. And I really enjoy tinned ravioli on toast. I shall expect none of you to be able to look me in the eye again.

Just like heaven...

Boss Lady Ray: I didn’t know this! Okay, yeah I did. You wouldn’t believe the number of ‘Avril Days’ we have in the Bunker. But then, I think John Cena is lovely and will definitely win tonight. Who am I to judge?

Hah! Now you can't say a thing!