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Ian Challis




I told you I'd be back, and here I am with a hatful of predctions and bitchin's about this Sunday's WWF No Mercy. If you're a regular reader of mine (there's gotta be some out there)you'll know that I've been less than impressed with the whole "Rikishi heel turn" deal, and haven't really bought it at all. But you're entitled to your opinions-you just ain't right. Haha.

Despite a couple of slips it's been a stellar year for the WWF on pay-per-view, and they've been made to look even more superb thanks to WCW's ludicrous efforts. So, Steve Austin's return to the ring should be a great night, right? Support it with a decent undercard, hype the main event up nicely, you got yourself a winner, yeah? I don't think so. Y'see, the WWF has changed drastically since Austin's last match-there's a whole new style of the place. Back in November of last year the WWF was still very much Crash TV, with two minute matches, quicky interviews and rarely a finish on the weekly TV events. Fans back then weren't wrestling-orientated-a lot of them were new and had been weened on the "sports entertainment" style of the time.

Now look at the WWF. Ten minute matches for main events on most TV shows, generally no match without a finish (be it clean or not) and the show is mainly about WRESTLING. Guys like Tazz, the Radicals, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle have made wrestling popular again, and the fans have once more accepted it as good entertainment. They are no longer completely satisfied with Austin brawling, they can't be fobbed off with Steve-O simply wrestling ANYBODY. Granted, they've gotta bring him back somehow, but sticking him right at the top of the card is stooopid and brainless. Suppose Austin/Rikishi flops? The crowd stay silent, popping only for Austin's match-ending Stunner. Not quite the same as the hour-long entertainment we got at Judgement Day, right? Or the Last Man Standing war at Fully Loaded? That's what fans-both casual and smart-want to see these days-WRESTLING. I thought the WWF would be able to see that and make it so. Obviously not.

Maybe I'm being too harsh about this whole situation. Maybe Austin/Rikishi will blow the roof of the joint, maybe the undercard will be excellent and packed with great just doesn't seem likely.

Oh well....on with the predictions!

The card itself is shrouded with controversy-no-one knows (at the time this column was written)just what the undercard consists of. Right now I know these matches for sure:

Austin Vs. Rikishi-No Holds Barred

The Rock Vs. Kurt Angle-WWF Title Match

Triple H Vs. Chris Benoit

Chris Jericho Vs. X-Pac-Steel Cage Match

The Hardy Boys vs. Los Conquistadors-Tag Team Title Match

Five iron-clad matches right now, plus a lot of "maybes". Eddie Guerrero's leg injury has put a big question mark over his IC Title defence against Billy Gunn, prompting rumours that instead we'll see Mr. Ass/Chyna Vs. Val Venis/Steven Richards. Another match I've heard whispered-and God knows why-is William Regal Vs. Nudeon. The APA Vs. T&A is almost a certainty, and there will probably be some kind of Hardcore title defence. So, I'm gonna fill in the gaps as I see fit and make some predictions...

STEVE AUSTIN VS. RIKISHI-NO HOLDS BARRED: Blah blah blah, shouldn't be top of the card, you know my feelings here.
IAN SAYS: Rikishi wins after the mystery driver from SmackDown is revealed-be it Rocky, Michaels or Foley.
WWF SAYS: Austin goes over clean after beating the piss out of Rikishi for twenty minutes.

WWF TITLE MATCH: THE ROCK VS. KURT ANGLE: Now here's your main event. It's been quite a while coming, but I think we can now call Kurt Angle the most successful rookie EVER. He's been top notch for eleven straight months, and the only way to make it better is a win here.
IAN SAYS: Angle wins after Steph chicanery, setting up Hunter/Angle and Rocky/Austin, as above.
WWF SAYS: Rocky goes over clean, cutting Angle off short.

TRIPLE H VS. CHRIS BENOIT: Match of the night here, no question. It may not be as fancy and swank as a Hardy Boyz spot fest but both guys are the masters of psychology-and Triple H is the man for getting new talent over, win or lose. Benoit, in my opinion, is over well enough as it is, but this match could cement both men's spots-Hunter as the new top level babyface, Benoit as a rising heel.
IAN SAYS: After a great twenty minute match Hunter takes the win-but still looks like the loser.
WWF SAYS: Ditto.

CHRIS JERICHO VS. X-PAC-STEEL CAGE MATCH: What the Hell is this? Two months ago he's the second biggest babyface in the company, fighting the top heel in ****+ matches, and now he's in a feud with the Heat Killer. Granted, Sean's worked a Hell of a lot harder these past few weeks but he is still a notch below Jericho in the pecking order. And I've got a horrible feeling that the WWF'll do ANYTHING to try and get X-Pac over-including jobbing Jericho.
IAN SAYS: Jericho wins after a suitably enjoyable spotfest.
WWF SAYS: X-Pac gets the victory in a vain attempt to get him over.

TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: THE HARDY BOYS VS. LOS CONQUISTADORS: So, obviously everyone thinks it's Edge and Christian under those masks, so obviously it won't be. Nevertheless, the Hardys have developed enough to carry anyone to a decent enough match. including whatever mystery team they're fighting. They'll win, too.
IAN SAYS: Hardys win after the Conquistadors are revealed...but as who??
WWF SAYS: Pretty much the same, but Edge and Christian will be in there too.

Onto the grey areas.....

EDDIE GUERRERO VS. MR. ASS/MR. ASS/CHYNA VS. RIGHT TO CENSOR: Two possible matches here, depending on Guerrero's leg injury. I hope and pray that Guerrero's okay enough to wrestle-we could do with a wild card match like him and Mr. Ass. For that match match, I'd say Eddie goes over, but Chyna and Mr. Ass get a measure of revenge. However it's looking increasingly unlikely that it will take place, so for the alternate option I'll say...
IAN SAYS: Billy and Chyna squash Right To Censor, finally teaching them a lesson.
WWF SAYS: Mr. Richards and Mr. Venis sneak a win.

NUDEON VS. WILLIAM REGAL: I'm not gonna count this one out here, mainly because it would be hilarious to see Regal's reaction to a near naked opponent. The match might not suck that bad, either, as long as it's all Regal and Nudeon sticks to selling.
IAN SAYS: Regal stretches the streaker into submission.
WWF SAYS: Ditto.

THE APA VS. T&A: Both of these teams have been floundering as of late, and in a gorged tag team division they haven't really been given the chance to shine. This is the answer-a week-long feud over Trish Stratus getting naked. NOW THAT'S RATINGS!!
IAN SAYS: The APA go over and T&A FINALLY break up.
WWF SAYS: T&A get a win to try and push them as a legit tag team.

RAVEN VS. STEVE BLACKMAN: So it's come to man against CRZ's favourite guy...only one man can survive....if this match actually happens, that is. Well, thet gotta do SOMETHING to get Raven over.
IAN SAYS: Raven, my boy, wins his first title in the WWF.
WWF SAYS: Ditto, but Blackman works some stick magic after the match.

So there you are. Nine matches-some for sure, some from my own head. All with some degree of interest in them, and most overshadowed by the big match at the top. I'll try and enjoy it, I promise. See you on Tuesday, and remember, keep those shoutouts comin' at SHOW ME LOVE!

Ian Challis

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