PICKING ON BACKLASH
First thing's first, check this out.
Since I can't really finish any previous works I had going until I get my copy of Microsoft Word back, and don't really feel like thinking up a topic to write randomly about, this month's pay-per-view picks will be just that - in an extended format. You know the drill - read the matches I list here and send me your picks. Since I have been avoiding reading anything on news sites, or visiting the wrestling section on Wienerville, I may miss a match or two. I'm using Smackdown! as my reference for what we'll see this Sunday. You can send your picks to firstname.lastname@example.org.
HULK HOGAN vs. TRIPLE H (for the WWF World Heavyweight Title)
So, here's how we got here. Vince McMahon announced his brand had first crack at the WWF champion - and granted a title shot to Hulk Hogan, due to his overwhelming popularity. Fair enough. Hulk Hogan wanted to ensure Triple H would be healthy going into Backlash, since Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho were none to pleased with this development. Triple H wanted none of it feeling he was more than capable of watching his own back. Then in a match featuring Kurt Angle against Triple H, Chris Jericho interfered and Hogan couldn't sit back and watch it. His help angered Triple H who informed him if he got in his way one more time there would be hell to pay. The second Hogan turned his back, Kurt Angle snuck into the ring and shoved Triple H into Hogan. Hogan didn't care much for that, and dropped a leg on the champion.
So here's the situation - we have Triple H who in my opinion is hardly living up to his previous runs as champion, though not through a lack of effort. What's not working in his favor is the fact he's a terrible babyface. His natural intensity and personality are far better suited to play the bad guy, as most guys are. It's always been said very few guys can really be a good pure babyface. And of course, his opponent is the ultimate babyface who's career is currently as hot as it's been in years. Somehow, someway, Hulk Hogan has the fans back in the palm of his hands. The same fans who have been crying for his head for years.
So does Vince go for the short term solution with Hulk Hogan, who while popular now will probably not last longer than a few months? Or does he go with the younger Triple H - who may not hurt the credibility of some of the younger guys around him while he carries the belt during his prime.
It's hard to say, but I'll go with Triple H this month, due to perhaps a heel turn. The fans are responding, but not the way they SHOULD be responding to a babyface champion. Nonetheless, I don't think Vince is going to change the title yet. I suspect a feud with Steve Austin is forthcoming later this summer.
MY PICK: Triple H
STEVE AUSTIN vs. THE UNDERTAKER (with Ric Flair as special referee in a Number One Contenders match)
As soon as the brand extention took place, Ric Flair took no time in handing The Undertaker a chance to become WWF Champion, forgetting that Vince had the first shot. Steve Austin was none to pleased about hearing that, feeling he was deserving of the shot simply because he's Steve Austin. Ric Flair decided to take the diplomatic route - and book a miniature tournament to find the #1 contender. This is the final match. Ric Flair gave himself the referee shot when both guys threatened, and have gone through with beating him up. He wants to let both guys know he's taking no nonsense from here on out.
Now we've seen this match literally about 30 times since 1997, but I believe this one will be different. The Undertaker will go over this time out. The only other time I recall The Undertaker scoring a win over Steve Austin was the incredibly screwy match at the much forgotten Over The Edge 1999. Whether he does it on his own, with the help of the nWo, or with the help of Ric Flair (though I suspect a heel turn in the main event, so I wouldn't count on Flair turning now or anytime soon) The Undertaker is ready for his shot at the belt. Steve Austin will get his shot down the line.
MY PICK: The Undertaker
EDDIE GUERRERO vs. ROB VAN DAM (for the WWF Intercontinental Title)
Rob Van Dam had just defended the IC Title against Booker T - when out of nowhere came Eddie Guerrero, who hasn't been seen in over a year. Eddie Guerrero was angry about the fact that Rob Van Dam had not only stolen the Intercontinental Title from him - but also his patented Frog Splash.
Eddie is probably going to have to go through the typical WWF process of "paying his dues" since he's returned - at least for a little while. I don't believe that involves winning the Intercontinental Title right away. The WWF has alot of stock invested in Rob Van Dam, and the only reason to take the belt off of him so soon would be to move him to the main event. I don't believe he's ready, and requires another few months of doing his thing as the IC champion. Either way, if Eddie's in top form, expect this match to be a show stealer. But I suspect this feud is finished in favor of going with the winner of...
MY PICK: Rob Van Dam
SCOTT HALL (with X-Pac) vs. BRADSHAW
Here's an interesting one. Scott Hall and X-Pac for weeks were feuding with Bradshaw and Kane, including stealing Kane's mask. When Kane took that last chairshot to the head though, it must have send him home to recover, because we're left with this match.
Bradshaw seems to be in this match because the RAW side really has no one else. Or maybe the fed has big plans for him. I suspect they do. For years, Vince McMahon seemingly has wanted to push Bradshaw, but never really knew how to go about it. I recall a pay-per-view (I believe it was Breakdown) where Bradshaw defeated Vader - who was on his way out anyway. Still, that's heavy stuff. Bradshaw never caught on until getting paired with Ron Simmons, because Vince Russo didn't know what to do with either one of them. As the Acolytes they became bar room brawlers, who loved their beer and playing poker. Fans loved it. Over the past three years, Bradshaw has grown and seems ready for that next big step. That step could be Scott Hall.
That being said, I'm still going to go with Scott Hall simply because I feel he's owed something after that joke at Wrestlemania. Many people will disagree that Scott Hall deserves anything, but a clean and sober Scott Hall can be one of the most entertaining and talented men in all of wrestling. Besides, in the end, it's just Bradshaw!
M PICK: Scott Hall
EDGE vs. KURT ANGLE
This one started before the split I believe, when Edge pinned Kurt in a tag-team match. Over the past few weeks they've gone through the motions of a typical Edge feud, where Edge attacks out of nowhere a whole lot, and his pay-per-view opponent costs him some matches.
Don't really know what purpose this match serves, other than a chance to elevate Edge. But anyone who's ever followed my pattern of picking knows who I'm going with here....
MY PICK: Kurt Angle
TAJIRI (with Torrie) vs. BILLY KIDMAN (for the WWF Cruiserweight Title)
I hate typing WWF Cruiserweight Title. It feels so dirty.
Tajiri lost the Cruiserweight Title to Billy Kidman when Torrie Wilson did something (my memory has failed me) that cost him the win. After the match, Tajiri berated Torrie and has forced her to wear traditional Japanese clothing. After a match a few weeks ago where again Torrie was getting yelled at, Kidman came to her defence. This had led to a match this Sunday.
While I enjoy seeing a storyline for the Cruiserweight division, something still feels wrong... I know, I know, I whine for Lightweights, and when I get them I whine some more. I write for the Internet - you expected more from me?
I don't know what the problem is. Perhaps it's the lack of Cruiserweights that make it feel that these two are it. I don't count the Hurricane because his gimmick makes me sick. Chavo showed up on Smackdown! though which gives me hope - and if Jim Ross doesn't lie (HA!) then we'll have more in the near future.
For now I'll take this, and I'll take Billy Kidman who will probably re-unite with Torrie Wilson, exciting screaming teenage girls around the country.
MY PICK: Billy Kidman
MAVEN and AL SNOW vs. BILLY and CHUCK (with Rico) (for the WWF Tag-Team Titles)
This was set up when Billy and Chuck made fun of Maven's eyebrows.
I don't know, the tag-team division is in such shambles maybe they would be well served to put the titles on Maven and Al Snow. An upset here would show that the belts can change hands anytime - and at least they're a real team which is more than anyone else, aside from the ever stale Hardys. I don't know what else to say really. I'll toss a coin.
MY PICK: Billy and Chuck
JAZZ vs. TRISH STATUS (for the WWF Women's Title)
A feud? In the women's division? And not about who's sleeping with who's man? What world have I stumbled in to?
Sure enough - Jazz and Trish Stratus have been fighting non stop since the Survivor Series. They have no love for one another, and show the best and worst of eachother. Their matches have also been fairly quick paced and exciting, showing if marketted right there IS a place for women's wrestling.
I can't imagine them giving the belt back to Trish already. Jazz is picking up steam and still has steam to be picked up. After a shaky first few weeks in terms of getting a reaction the fans are now responding to her act - one that includes a very strong personality. The WWF will undoubtedly turn her into a comedy figure about 6 months from now - but for now they'll probably keep her going as a silent, angry woman.
MY PICK: Jazz
BROCK LESNAR (with Paul Heyman) vs. JEFF HARDY
Now we're talking! I heard forever that it was Matt Hardy, but for whatever reason on Smackdown! they announced Jeff was taking his place. So we'll say if you bet against Brock, you're picking a Hardy, fair enough?
Though if you bet against Brock, you're a fool. No WWF superstar has EVER received an opening push like Brock only to be beaten in his first match. For weeks Brock has terrorized WWF superstars, and especially the Hardy Boyz. With Paul Heyman by his side, he has an old school feel. He's big, he's powerful, and he has a very evil man on his side. Make no mistake about it - Jeff Hardy is a dead man.
MY PICK: Brock Lesnar
There you have it. This is the first pay-per-view I've watched in AGES that I'm not in the "know" and you know what? I'm excited. This pay-per-view has a real big league feel and I have no problem plunking down $17 (my half) for the show. I'll be around next week with the show recap and listing the pick leaders. Until then...