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Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

For Informational Purposes Only - 2009 NFL/College Football Season Predictions (version 1)

Saturday, August 8, 2009



It's August and August means I make football predictions.

During the season I pick lots of games in this space.  I finished dead flat even in college games last year, going 9 under .500 during the regular season and 9 over .500 picking the bowl games.  I was better than that in the NFL.

But For Informational Purposes Only - investing in a single football game is usually a bad idea, there's just too much uncertainty.  Looking at the season as a whole, however, can be fruitful.

Time permitting, I'll revise all of this prior to the start of the seasons and offer limited commentary.  For now, here's my college football top 20 and four over/unders you might want to take a look at.  Plus, my NFL season win totals and the over/unders that look like decent selections.

Yes, sometimes I'm railing against the right wing noise machine and sometimes I'm talking about the german suplex.  And mainly I'm giving Glenn Beck the nickname Simple Jack. That's how I roll.

2009 College Football Top 20.

1. Florida
2. USC (my team, and for a weekend, my undergraduate school, for those unaware)
3. Texas
4. Oklahoma
5. Georgia
6. Ohio St.
7. California
8. Georgia Teach
9. Virginia Tech
10. LSU (my girlfriend's team. We like her despite this.)
11. Clemson
12. Alabama
13. Auburn
14. West Virginia
15. Boston College
16. Florida St.
17. Notre Dame
18. Miami
19. Penn St.
20. Oklahoma St.

Consider the following: Ole Miss under 9 wins.  Nebraska under 8 wins. North Carolina under 8 wins. Illinois under 8 wins.

2009 NFL Picks

AFC East
1. New England 12-4
2. New York Jets 7-9
3. Miami Dolphins 7-9
4. Buffalo 5-11 (under 7.5 wins)

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh 10-6
2. Baltimore 9-7 WC
3. Cincinnati 6-10
4. Cleveland 4-12

AFC South
1. Indianapolis 12-4
2. Jacksonville 9-7 WC (over 8 wins)
3. Tennessee 8-8
4. Houston 8-8

AFC West
1. San Diego 12-4 Super Bowl Champs (over 10 wins)
2. Kansas City 7-9
3. Oakland 5-11
4. Denver 5-11 (under 7 wins)

NFC East
1. New York Giants NFC Champs 11-5
2. Philadelphia 9-7 WC
3. Dallas 9-7
4. Washington 8-8

NFC North
1. Chicago 10-6 (over 8.5 wins)
3. Green Bay 10-6 WC
3. Minnesota 9-7
4. Detroit 5-11

NFC South
1. New Orleans 8-8
2. Carolina 8-8
3. Atlanta 7-9
3. Tampa Bay 7-9


NFC West
1. Seattle 9-7
2. Arizona 7-9 (under 8.5 wins)
3. San Francisco 6-10 (my team, for those unaware)
4. St. Louis 6-10 (over 5.5 wins)

Repost - The Rest of the Wrestling

I've watched three new candidates for MOTY, 2009.  I've placed them in the MOTY 2009 post which is where I'll add the matches through the rest of the year. 

That allows me to shoehorn the wrestling posts from the other place into one box, this is that box.  I want to knock this out prior to my SummerSlam preview which I'll write for the benefit of Kirk Hiner.

There's nothing of any social relevance here.  It's largely just my talking graps. 

The Top Ten Matches in Rumble History:

1. Kurt Angle d. Chris Benoit (03)

-Angle was the heel, Benoit the babyface, Angle went over, Benoit got the standing ovation postmatch - this is the best WWF match since WM X, with the possible exception of Bret/Austin at SSeries '96.


2. HHH d. Cactus Jack (00)

-This was top of his curve Hunter, when, like he did with Rock before, Cactus helped give HHH credibility by putting him over in two real good garbage matches at the top of '01; this was the end of Foley's full time career. Hunter's level of work has been in decline ever since.


3. Chris Jericho d. Chris Benoit (01)

-This was their ladder match, Jericho, as the babyface, took the IC from Benoit. It's underappreciated - if there's a better WWF Jericho singles match, it does not presently occur to me - perhaps last year's Jericho/Michaels ladder match or their Mania match from a few years prior.


4. Royal Rumble Match - 2004

-This was Benoit's Rumble, went the whole way, it's the best battle royal of all time. He became number one contender and won the strap at XX. A couple years ago, I watched every rumble match again; I'm confident in this selection.


5. Royal Rumble Match - 1992

-This was Flair's Rumble, largely considered the best battle royal of all time, but I slot it behind '04. He became WWF Champ.


6. Bret Hart draw Diesel (95)

-This was for Diesel's strap, it was a 27 min. draw - stopped after interference where both guys, both babyfaces, were attacked by the heels they were feuding with (Owen, Backlund, Michaels, Jarrett).


7. Quebecers d. Bret/Owen (94)

-Owen had started his turn at Survivor Series, he and Bret seemed to make up, tagging together to take on the champs - but Bret's ankle, hurt at that Survivor Series match (all of the Harts against Michaels and guys in masks) couldn't hold up and this match was stopped at 16:30 - Owen, upset with Bret - attacked him. And that was how we got to WM X.


8. Rockers d. Orient Express (91)

-19 min tag - babyface Rockers went over.


9. Hardys d. Dudleys (00)

-This was short, 10 min. tables match, were there a match at this year's Rumble as good as it could possibly be, it could slide in and be better than this match.


10. HBK draw HHH (04)

-Michaels and Hunter were feuding over HHH's strap, this was a last man standing match where neither guy got up before the count of 10. This was why when Benoit won the rumble later in the night, the Mania match was a 3 way.

In today's WON, Meltzer examines what apparently is a current list (voted for by the WWE Universe!) at the corporate site of the top 25 matches in Starrcade history, timed to coincide with the release of the Best of Starrcade DVD next week.

So, instead of that list - here are the actual top 10 matches in Starrcade history. The parenthetical lists where the match ranked on wwe.com.


Oh - I'll also be posting my ballot for the WON Awards when I've made those decisions.


1. Shinjiro Otani d. Eddy Guerrero '95 (15)

2. Ultimo Dragon d. Dean Malenko '96 (apparently unranked, I'm gonna assume I either missed it from WON or Meltzer missed it from wwe.com)

3. Jushin Thunder Liger d. Rey Mysterio '96 (18)

4. Ric Flair d. Harley Race '83 (3)

5. Roddy Piper d. Greg Valentine '83 (6)

6. Magnum TA d. Tully Blanchard '85 (2)

7. Ric Flair d. Vader '93 (1)

8. Sting d. Vader '92 (13)

9. Ric Flair d. Lex Luger '88 (16)

10. 3 Count d. Jung Dragons/Evan Karagias/Jamie Noble '00 (8)

Survivor Series is Sunday from, let's say Boston.


For those of you who did not read my Summer Slam preview, this is largely just written for Kirk Hiner http://www.appletell.com/apple/author/kirk/. Kirk is my longtime writing partner http://www.spoonmillionaires.com/; we met freshman year in college and one of the ways in which our friendship was formed was our mutual affection for Owen Hart. We spent more than one WWF PPV Sunday together at some area watering hole (no, that's not a euphemism, we went to school in rural Ohio) and used to sneak into his religious fraternity in the summer of '91 to catch All-American or Superstars or whatever WWF programming it was that was on at that time. Following college, as all of us do, we had choices to make regarding our wrestling fandom. Kirk gradually moved away from the sport (although we did attend the greatest Survivor Series of all time, Survivor Series '96, together) for more grown up pursuits like marriage and children and mortgages and the occasional sausage biscuit; whereas I...well, I am not hooked up right

whatifwrestling.blogspot.com

For the better part of the past 15 years, I've sent Kirk a preview/review of the "big four" WWF PPV's; I think beginning with WM 12 or maybe the Summer Slam that followed, we haven't missed a single one. And now, as I've fully adopted the "why say anything that isn't in a blog" ethic, I've moved those previews over here.


So, for those of you who aren't Kirk, you can stay, but I'm not really talking to you.


Here we go:

- RAW Title Match: Chris Jericho © vs. John Cena

At Summer Slam, recall, Jericho was in the middle of his hot program with Michaels; that seems to have ended with Jericho going over and Shawn going back to his life carrying Hunter's bags. Back in September, Jericho (grown up, all heeled out Jericho) took the strap (his 3rd run with this belt) in a multi-man match that the champion (Punk) didn't compete in. Jericho's subsequently defended against Punk, giving his run legitimacy; he lost the belt to Batista last month, but then retook in a RAW cage match a week later.


Cena's still the top guy in the company; he's been gone all summer with another steroid related injury (presumably). They've kept him off TV save for a series of vignettes with clips of people talking about how great he is. People have apparently enjoyed these clips, Cena's a big star and Boston's his hometown, so one assumes he'll get a pretty significant reaction here.


John Cena's everything that's wrong with everything.


The doctrinal divide between wrestling as sport/wrestling as entertainment has taken another turn in the past year; currently, there is a body of opinion that bad is the new good. Meaning, it used to be that the lines were clearly drawn - sure, maybe you liked Hulk Hogan, but you didn't confuse his matches with workrate. N Sync made a ton of money, but no one suggested they deserved a boatload of Grammys.


John Cena won Wrestler of the year last year, which combines box office and work ability; and there has developed a body of opinion around his matches (and Hunter, and Undertaker, and most of the top WWF guys) that they aren't just the equivalent of Hogan (popular but crappy) but instead worthy of critical acclaim.


This, I'd suggest, is error.


Ring of Honor, as I've mentioned, is my all time favorite North American promotion, as close to a Japanese product as we're ever going to see. They fired their booker a couple of weeks ago and have decided to book a more traditional product. More comedy. Less workrate, particularly in the undercard. Basic face/heel storylines. More accessible. You know. Rasslin'.

And the depressing part is the number of "smart" fans, those most closely situated to me, in the continuum of wrestling fans, who are ready to embrace that change.


Bad is the new good.


It's a longer conversation as to how we got here. A combination of corporate brainwashing (WWF has won the ideological war about what wrestling is) and Benoit blowback (don't work hard, work smart - Eddy and Benoit are dead, Kevin Nash is still drawing a paycheck).


Regardless, I hate me some John Cena (he's not terrible, actually, I'm forced into some hyperbole because of the intensity of his push, it's a Kirk Hiner Hates Madonna situation) and I'm rooting for his next injury.


I assume Jericho keeps. I assume it's not clean. Were Orton to cost Cena the win (or maybe a Batista turn) that wouldn't surprise. I'll wind up giving this match about 3/4 fewer stars than anyone else.


Smackdown Title Match: HHH © vs. Vladimir Kozlov v. Jeff Hardy

-Hunter's on his 7th run with this belt; he's been champ since April, taking from Orton in another multi-man match. He took the belt from RAW to Smackdown, switching shows given Smackdown's move from CW to MyNetwork. It's been a fairly low wattage run, largely he's been fending off Jeff (both are babyfaces) he's gone over Jeff a couple of times; there was a solid match between the two a couple of months ago that people loved at a 4 star level (I went 3 1/4, it's an example of the aforementioned death of workrate thoughts). Hunter's skills have atrophied almost completely, but there are people who still buy the act. Both Hardys continue to be popular despite largely being booked as losers most of their careers; Jeff's managed to avoid flunking a drug test since Mania and is getting pushed hard right now - beating the Undertaker and Hunter in successive weeks to earn his spot in this match. Kozlov is doing an Ivan Drago gimmick. He's just a guy; I might not hate him as the power half of a tag, but there's no reason to think he can put together a good singles match.


I don't have much sense of where they're going. Jeff's taken on a harder edge recently, but they can't turn him - Hunter turns eventually, but they aren't there yet. The wild card is Edge - he's the hot act on Smackdown, they've taken him off the show (smart) to keep him from going stale and (perhaps) to time his return to a Christian storyline (his TNA deal is up and it's a jump ball what he'll do next, I'd like to see him come back now). I'd guess Hunter keeps, I'd guess he keeps with a clean pin over Kozlov. If this is more than 3/3 1/4 I'd be surprised.


Casket Match: The Undertaker vs. The Big Show

-The Show turned heel, sliding into Edge's role with Vicki Guerrero (still heel GM, she does a good job in a largely dead gimmick) in the program with Undertaker. Show's got the best of it so far, in matches that I liked (again) far less than did others. It's a slow, plodding, deliberate feud (not awful, Undertaker, if used sparingly, is a good enough worker). I don't hate it, but I don't need to see it. I don't know offhand, but I'd guess the Taker's Casket Match record is not good - I'll say he loses this one too and they keep this program going.


-Survivor Series Rules Match: TEAM BATISTA: Batista, CM Punk, Kofi Kingston, Matt Hardy and R-Truth vs. TEAM ORTON: Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, Shelton Benjamin, William Regal and Mark Henry


Then come the elimination matches.


Hey, Coldplay broke up. This is a dark day for all of us.


Survivor Series means elimination matches. They don't do workrate any favors, but it's always helpful for my Counterfactual. http://www.whatifwrestling.blogspot.com/. Batista and Orton are the top guys here and they're feuding (Orton's sort of feuding with everyone, faces and heels, he's been out all summer but has been appearing on TV). Neither guy is very good in the ring, both guys are good characters - Orton actually is a great, a great heel character. He and Edge can stand with any heel characters in company history. Punk and Kingston are babyface tag champs, they took from Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase's kid. Punk was, as mentioned, RAW Champ this summer and he and Kingston are now simple babyface tag champs, not really in a program. Rhodes is feuding with Orton, even though both are heels - it's possible they're building for the formation of a second generation stable - Afa the Wild Samoan's kid is aligned with Rhodes/DiBiase. Lots of other kids are sprinkled throughout the company (Hennig, Bulldog, Snuka, Anvil's daughter, a second DiBiase kid, probably someone I'm forgetting...did Mike Rountdo's kid sign...) it doesn't take much imagination to see how they might all be used in a program.


Matt's ECW Champ, I guess he's still feuding with Mark Henry, from whom he took the belt. Matt's got a knee he's working though. Benjamin's the US Champ, now a cocky heel, he's feuding with Ron Killings, who has arrived from TNA doing a rap gimmick. He raps through the crowd, which is encouraged to join. He's on a mission of some sort.


The best wrestler in the WWF is Regal, who just won the IC. They teased a Regal/Punk thing on Monday, which would be terrific. They should let Regal keep the belt forever and just beat bitches up. I'll say heels go over.


- Survivor Series Rules Match: TEAM MICHAELS: HBK, Rey Mysterio, Cryme Tyme and The Great Khali vs. TEAM JBL: JBL, Kane, MVP, The Miz and John Morrison

-They made a nice pivot with Shawn's character in the Jericho program, giving him some depth - and have maneuvered right back to the flippant HBK that is not so much interesting in 2008. He's just started a Bradshaw program, which looks DOA, as has every Bradshaw program since he made his return. Dude needs to shut it down. Rey's been in a pointless program with Kane; Kane can't do anything really, and it hasn't done Rey any favors. Cryme Time's a black tag team doing a babyface "we steal stuff" gimmick. Apparently, one is better than the other, but they haven't had a good match yet. Khali is the monster Indian who just turned babyface and is the worst wrestler you've ever seen. Miz and Morrison (was Nitro) are a good heel act and improving in the ring (Nitro's really good, Miz is now acceptable) Miz got a tag fall on Michaels Monday. And then there's MVP - who is a strong worker, a strong act - and they've decided to spend the last several months burying. He'll be eliminated first and quickly. Faces win here.


-Survivor Series Rules Match: TEAM RAW: Beth Phoenix, Kelly Kelly, Mickie James, Jillian Hall and Candice Michelle vs. TEAM SMACKDOWN: Michelle McCool, Victoria, Maria, Natalya, and Maryse


-I assume there are programs. There are two women's champs now. Some of these women don't look like trannys. The match will be inoffensive.


That's it.


It's not a good looking card. They've left off a couple of their top workers (Kendrick, Finlay) and another is hurt (Sydal, now named Bourne). From either side of the divide, there's not much reason to look forward to the show; none of the matches are appealing from a work perspective, and there currently isn't a hot storyline. People will enjoy seeing Cena's return and the Survivor Series gimmick has nostalgic value.


But as a show, it's not one with much juice - certainly when juxtaposed with Brock's winning the UFC strap last weekend (good stuff) this show is lacking wattage.


Here are the Top 10 Matches in Survivor Series History.

1. Bret Hart d. Steve Austin ('96)

2. Bret Hart d. Shawn Michaels ('92)

3. Bret Hart d. Diesel ('95)

4. Shawn Michaels d. Bret Hart ('97)

5. Eddy/Chavo d. Angle/Benoit and Edge/Rey ('02)

6. Jericho/Christian/Orton/Steiner/Henry d. Michaels/RVD/Booker/Dudleys ('03)

7. Bob Backlund d. Bret Hart ('94)

8. Sid d. Shawn Michaels ('96)

9. Strike Force/Young Stallions/Rougeaus/Bees/Bulldogs d. Hart Foundation/Islanders/Demolition/Bolsheviks/New Dream Team ('87)

10. HHH d. Ric Flair ('05)

I have not seen every wrestling match since 1980.

I have seen every significant WWF match, ECW match, ROH match, TNA match.

I think I've seen every significant NWA/WCW match, but there may have been a few in the 80s that slipped past the goalie.


I've seen as much puroresu and indie matches as I could get my hands on.


I've seen relatively little lucha.

Just because a match is not here doesn't mean I haven't seen it. My records work like this; I have a record of everything that's 4 1/2 and up, thinking of all of those as superpremiummegaelite matches. For the PPVs from the US companies, it's everything 3 1/2 and up.


If it isn't in those categories, I still probably have it rated if it's 3 and over, but that would require a little legwork, most likely physically finding the actual DVD on which I have the match.

Do with all of that what you will.

1982

Dynamite v. TMask

Dynamite v. TMask


1984

Steamboat v. Flair


1985

Liger v. Sano


1988

Takada v. Maeda


1989

Steamboat v. Flair (NWA Chi Town)

Steamboat v. Flair (NWA Wrestle War)

Steamboat v. Flair (NWA)

1992

Liger v. Samurai


1993

Toyota/Yamada v. Kansai/Ozaki

Misawa/Kobashi v. Kawada/Taue


1994

Kobashi v. SWilliams

Misawa v. Kawada

Kawada v. Williams

Bret v. Owen (WWF X)

Shawn v. Razor (WWF X)

1995

Misawa/Kobashi v. Kawada/Taue


1996

Kobashi v. Kawada

Taka/Kaz/Togo/Teioh/Sho v. TM4/Delfin/Naniwa/Hamada/Yakashiji

Sasuke/Kaz/TM4 v. Taka/Delfin/Naniwa

Misawa v. Kobashi


1998

Misawa v. Kawada

Misawa v. Kobashi


2001

Misawa v. Akiyama


2002

Danielson v. Low Ki (ROH)


2003

Kenta/Marufuji v. Liger/Murahama

Misawa v. Kobashi

Kobashi v. Yuji

Benoit v. Angle (WWF - Rumble)


2004

CIMA v. Yokosuka

Kobashi v. Akiyama

Kobashi v. Taue


2005

Kobashi v. Sasaki


2006

Danielson v. Kenta (ROH)


2007

Marvin/Suzuki v. Romero/Ishimori

Taka/Togo v. Madoka/Kota

Briscoes v. Strong/Pac (PWG)

Danielson v. Nigel (ROH)


2008

Yuji/Nakanishi v. Tanaka/Otani


2009

Kenta v. Nakajima

Kenta v. Akiyama





Wrestlemania XXV is Sunday from Houston.

For those of you who haven't read my previews before; I write them for the benefit of my friend and on again off again writing partner, Kirk Hiner.

http://www.appletell.com/apple/author/kirk/ His birthday was a couple of days ago. You should acknowledge that by reading his stuff.


Kirk and I met in our freshman year at Ohio Northern University; the cornerstones (can there be multiple cornerstones? This is why my buildings keep crashing) of our now 20 year friendship (tied for the longest of my continuous friendships with a couple of other people I met as a freshman; I remain friends with a couple of people from high school, but lost contact with them for most of the 90s) are similar tastes in comedy (we started a not entirely unsuccessful comedy troupe in college and had a play produced a couple of years ago) and an affection for professional wrestling.


Wrestling was difficult to follow from our then position (not only was there no internet, our dorm rooms did not have cable) to follow the narrative required persistence; to actually watch matches required more than that (the occasional breaking and entering was not uncommon; nor was watching a PPV at a local watering hole). We were a peculiar subculture unto ourselves; one filled with Red Rooster references and my spending uncomfortably long stretches wearing a Hercules-like chain around my neck (Why did no one take the chain away? How did I get to that place?).


In fact, my very first internet based project, over the summer of 1995, was putting together a 64 man all time WWF tournament in which I'd set the angles for the matches for which Kirk would then pick the winners.


Since just after WM XII, I've been sending previews/reviews of the 4 traditional WWF PPVs to Kirk (actually, it used to be every PPV, and WCW and ECW as well; we used to be single) without, to date, missing a show. Now, as all right thinking people have, we largely communicate entirely through our own blogs, so I write the preview here (the review, however, remains in personal correspondence, largely because it's peppered with references to Peggy McKarns. Who was cuter than Peggy McKarns? This is the question I pose to you people.)


Kirk has almost entirely stopped watching; he's part of the adult audience who has drifted away from Vince (and reasonably so). I've made a slightly different choice.


http://www.whatifwrestling.blogspot.com/ (Counterfactual XXIV will be up by showtime).


So the previews involve some degree of backstory that will seem rudimentary to those of you who have seen, I don't know, the big Dragon's Gate PPV (still on my hard drive; I'm not thrilled with Shingo's losing the belt to Doi last year. Discuss).


For future shows, I'll just cut and paste this preface.


Additionally, I've got a ranking of the top 10 matches in Mania history, and then an unranked second ten just for fun.


With that:

The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

-They haven't announced match order, one would assume Hunter's match (the lineal WWF Title) will be going on last; but I sort of see the heel going over in that one and I'm unsure that's how they want to end the show. So I would be unsurprised if instead the choice they made was to do this. This is an all legend babyface match and has been built as such; Undertaker still has his unbeaten streak at Mania, now 16-0 (most of them just terrible, unwatchable matches - actually, his two best Mania matches have been in the past two years, which says something good about the arc of the Taker's work) and, interestingly enough, he's never pinned Shawn in a TV singles match. It's not a complicated story and they haven't tried to complicate it. The build's been fine (Shawn's outsmarted the Dead Man a little bit) others are more rhapsodic about it than am I (I've seen all the "ooh, spooky" Undertaker related stuff I'm ever going to want to see; I'm a grown up, get out of the cemetary) and the level of work is unlikely to be as good as others believe (2009 Shawn is maybe the most overrated wrestler alive). But it's been entirely solid; the match will certainly be solid, probably at the level of the Undertaker's last two Manias (neither of which make my top 20 of all time, but both of which were good matches) and the Undertaker will certainly win.


WWE Title Match: HHH © vs. Randy Orton

-As mentioned, this is the presumptive main event and the lineal WWF Championship. Hunter took in February at No Way Out in an Elimination Chamber Match (Edge walked in as the Champ, recall, he took from Jeff at the Rumble). It's Hunter's 8th run with this belt, which, unless I'm missing one, is a new record, breaking a tie he had with Rock (since they have two title belts they consider primary world title belts, the historical line isn't much discussed - the only number that seems to exist is Flair's 16 world titles and Hunter's run at that (he has 5 runs with the other belt). This has gotten the main event build - Orton is now really, really good as a devious heel (just character stuff, not talking about the work) and they pulled the big trigger for this program - Orton took out Vince, Skippy, and then the Princess. That resulted in the disclosure (for the first time in the storyline) that Hunter and the Princess are married. Hunter's seeking revenge. They've done a good job of explicitly discussing the backstory of Orton as Hunter protegee in their previous Four Horsemen like heel stable (Orton became youngest champ ever, the stable then turned on him) and the idea (somewhat far fetched) is this is Orton's payback. It's gotten the most TV time; it will be the longest match; they'll give them enough freedom that it will be a good match, despite the weaknesses of the workers (Orton's okay; Hunter can't do much of anything anymore). As mentioned, I sort of think Orton's going over, which makes it less likely, for me, that it's the main event. There could be an angle here with the Princess.


World Title Match: Edge © vs. The Big Show vs. John Cena

This is the match I'm going to hate the most.


Edge has lost his heel steam in recent months, despite holding a world title (the same night he lost the lineal WWF Title, as just mentioned, he won this belt in another Elimination Chamber match. It's Edge's 4th run with this belt; he also has 4 runs with the other belt). Edge's act has been watered down a little bit, maybe a little lost in the heel shuffle with Orton and Jericho's acts. His work has deteriorated a bit; it's hard to tell, given the WWF style constraints (which render the product almost unwatchable except for top end matches) how good he is right now. Edge is still married in the storyline to Eddy's widow Vickie, who is now the figurehead general manager for both RAW and Smackdown. I am unabashed in my dislike of John Cena, his character is entirely geared toward children and I firmly believe those who admire some of his work have been taken in by the big corporate propaganda machine. He is no longer an awful wrestler, but he is just a guy. He's the top guy in the company; he has the most mainstream penetration and apparently makes the company some money. He still sucks; the distance between his perception and his reality has reached Kirk Hiner Hates Madonna levels for me (and who was cuter than Peggy McKarns? I can't imagine!).


The Show is the Show.


They've added an extra dopey angle to this one - the Show and Vickie apparently had some version of an affair. So the stip for this match is the winner "gets" her. Even if that winner is Cena, which pretty much guarantees that he wins and then they do comedy. They love to do comedy. I hate wrestling comedy.


This will not be a good match and it will probably be short.


Chris Jericho vs. Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and Rowdy Roddy Piper w/Ric Flair


This is the Mickey Rourke match. Jericho has found a nice heel character, and his current focus is a dislike of the leech veterans, hanging on for a little more glory. The original idea was this would be the big mainstream match, bootstrapping off the Mickey Rourke movie (which I haven't yet seen, but will soon. I have seen Synecdoche, however and would like to write about it if I ever get time). But Rourke pulled out during the Oscar campaign; he's still expected to show up, but hasn't really been part of the program (which has involved Jericho punking out Hall of Famers).


The work won't be good (I think the stip is Jericho has to beat all of them) except, maybe, for some Jericho/Steamboat stuff - I am looking forward to seeing that in a hard way, both for the real life reasoning that Steamboat hasn't worked Mania in a couple decades and hasn't had a match in years and years and years - and for the Counterfactual for next year.


http://www.whatifwrestling.blogspot.com/.


I sort of sneaky expect Steamboat to look good and for this to be entertaining. Flair isn't in the match, as they're upholding the retirement stip.


The HOF is, of course, the night before (Austin, Steamboat, Funks, Von Erichs, Koko, Bill Watts, The Fink) I wouldn't be surprised to see some involvement of those guys. If the match ends with a Stunner and beer drinking, don't say you weren't tipped.


Extreme Rules Match: Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy

This will be good, provided it gets time, since they're doing the garbage stip. I assume both guys will be highly motivated to steal the show, and this is a show that can be stolen. The program is DOA; Jeff was attacked by an unknown assailant multiple times - it was supposed to be Christian's return (which would have not only made sense but would have been good) but they switched it up to make it Matt - who cost Jeff, recall, his strap at the Rumble.


It's not a bad idea (although people don't want to hate Matt Hardy) and they could do Bret/Owen with these guys if they built it more slowly, but it hasn't worked at all. It's the first match of the program which would mean heel win - but they're doing the crazy gimmick stip which would seem to mean a blowoff to the program. I'm gonna say Matt wins and it's the best match of the show. But it could be 11 minutes and disappointing instead.


Money in the Bank Ladder Match: CM Punk vs. Kane vs. Mark Henry vs. MVP vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Christian vs. Finlay

-This match is good every year and I expect it to be good again. There's no program beyond the winner gets a title shot; they've built it a weird way, having them all wrestle each other multiple times. There are always good spots and they have enough guys in the match who can do spots that the match will be good. There aren't a lot of programs going on here; Punk lost the IC so this is all he has going. Kane's big and red and evil. Henry's bigger but somewhat less red; he and Fit are in a program I guess. MVP ended his losing streak, turned face, and beat Benjamin for the US Title. That means MVP won't win this match and Benjamin might. Kingston has nothing going on. Christian's gotten buried hard upon coming back, losing multiple falls to the ECW champ, Jack Swagger. However, he's looked really good - being a clear step above, almost every non Regal on the roster at doing the WWF style. Christian oughta win - if he wins and switches shows at the upcoming draft they can work to undo the damage they've done to him. I'm gonna optimistically say in a moment of clarity he does win and it's the second best match of the night.


Title Unification – WWE Tag Team Titles vs. World Tag Team Titles – Unified Tag Team Title LUMBERJACK Match: The Miz and John Morrison © vs. Carlito and Primo Colon ©

-I am entirely in favor of unification matches. I'd like to see more of them. If you'd like to see more of them, check out Counterfactual Wrestlemania XXIV at

http://www.whatifwrestling.blogspot.com/


Miz (the Real World kid, he's really improved. Ups to Miz) and Morrison (formerly Johnny Nitro) have had the lineal WWF tag belts since taking them in a house show in December from Punk/Kingston. They used to have the other tag belts, holding them for most of 2008 - but they dropped to Hawkins and Ryder (who were Edge's flunkies) who dropped to the Colon brothers on Smackdown last September. This has been a good in ring feud - the program is they're feuding over girls - twins, actually. I don't much care about that, but the work has all been good and I expect this will be good, but too short. The lumberjack stip is so everyone not on the show can be on the show - which is not as helpful to the Counterfactual as was last year's pre show battle royal. I assume the babyfaces go over.

IC Title Match: JBL © vs. Rey Mysterio

-This was hotshot - Bradshaw took from Punk and they threw Rey at him. Bradshaw apparently is shutting it down again; it's entirely possible that this is his last match for this run. The WGN Thursday show starts soon, maybe he does the color announce for that show, or in the draft they move guys around (maybe Lawler loses the RAW gig edit - since I wrote this Taz got canned, so there you go). Rey beat Bradshaw in a non title Monday, so I'd expect Bradshaw to keep and then announce his retirement in the ring. He might take the IC belt with him. This will probably be short and not that good - they don't know what to do with Rey - his last 3 programs have been with big guys. Not tough to put him in the ring with a worker and let them have good matches, but what do I know?


Divas Battle Royal

-They're gonna take all the women, including some returning for the night, and have them do a couple of minutes.

I'm hoping they add a match. Maybe Swagger/Kidd v. Dreamer/Sydal from ECW. At least dark.

Kid Rock's going to sing. Someone from the Pussycat Dolls sings America the Beautiful. The HOF is Saturday Night. People are down on this year's Mania for the lack of oomph - I tend to think it could be good, Hardys and MITB will have enough spots to be good. Taker/Michaels and Orton/HHH will have enough time and leeway in what they're allowed to do to be good. If there were 4...3 1/2 ish matches, that's good enough for a 2009 WWF PPV. The tag title probably won't get enough time to go that far, but it will be good for what it is. Rey is good - and if it is Bradshaw's last match, they might pull one out. Could be 6 3 star+ matches there, and now it sounds like a nice, solid show. Plus, what I'm most looking forward to is seeing Steamboat wrestle. There's unlikely to be a great match, but great matches are few and far between in the current WWF.

Speaking of...


Here are the Best Matches in Wrestlemania History:

1. Razor Ramon d. HBK (10)

2. Owen Hart d. Bret Hart (10)

3. Bret Hart d. Steve Austin

4. Ricky Steamboat d. Randy Savage (3)

5. HBK d. Bret Hart (12)

6. Benoit d. HBK d. HHH (20)

7. Kurt Angle d. Shawn Michaels (21)

8. Edge/Christian d. Hardys d. Dudleys (16)

9.Randy Savage d. Ric Flair (8)

10.Brock Lesnar d. Kurt Angle (19)


(Additional matches at the same level as #10, such that you could call it a tie were you so inclined):


Money In the Bank from XXI,

Eddy/Angle from XX,

Edge/Christian v. Dudleys v. Hardys from XVII

Angle/Benoit from XVII,

Austin/Rock from XV,

Bret/Piper from VIII,

Warrior/Savage from VII


That makes a total of 17, so if you were rounding at a top 20 - I'll say..

Austin/Rock from XVII,

Austin/Michaels from XIV

Hogan/Savage from V.


That concludes the preview. Coming up before the end of the weekend - my baseball predictions, and, over at the other place - Counterfactual Wrestlemania XXIV.

I was inexplicably thinking today about taking wrestlers and turning them into a basketball team. If I had a "dream team" of wrestlers in 2009 that made up a 12 man basketball roster, I think it would look something...a litttle...like this.

C Morishima

C Samoa Joe

-If I have to go big as a matchup situation, I can slide Joe to the 4, as he's mobile enough to bang inside; my preference (both in wrestling and hoops) is to watch small athletic guys as opposed to the bangers - so, I have no trees, really, and I'm inclined to split the minutes between my two bigs.


F Yuji Nagata

F Bryan Danielson

F Nakamura

F Nigel McGuinness

F Steve Regal


Yuji would slide to the bench when both Joe and Morishima are in the lineup together; he's the guy who can roll out of bed and give you 14 and 7; I trust him in my third straight road game when the other guys have been hanging out on South Beach. Danielson's my best player; there's no style where he can't be my guy; if I need him to go out and score 45, he'll do it - if I need him to guard the opponents best player, he'll do it - if he has to go inside and just body up against a bigger man, he'll do it - a full court, baseline to baseline, quickly paced game or a slog 'em out, halfcourt, defensive struggle - he's still the best player on the floor. He's Jordan. He's LeBron. He's my guy. Nakamura's my glue guy; he's a more skilled Shane Battier; there's not a floor configuration where he wouldn't help out. When injuries hit (I'm missing my 2 guard right now, for example) he can easily pick up another dozen minutes. I always want him on my club. Nigel and the veteran Regal are my second unit guys; Regal's my enforcer, when I need to rough up the opposing star, I send him in - and he also helps mentor Nigel, my star in training. My last forwards cut were Masato Tanaka and Shingo, which is sort of like Barkley not making the '84 Olympic team. With Nigel out the rest of the year, I'd add Shingo to the squad, the idea being that Regal only has a couple of years left in this spot.

G Kenta

G Marufuji

G Nakajima

G Low Ki

G Austin Aries


Kenta's my 1; he's Chris Paul - on any night he can give me a triple double. The ball's in his hands every trip down the floor. Marufuji is the silky smooth 2 guard, effortless - like Clyde Drexler, he just glides down the floor raining jump shots. Nakajima is the young combo guard - learning both to handle and to shoot - when Kenta needs a blow, he can step in - when Marufuji goes down with a knee (like right now, for example) he can play the off guard. Love him. The last two spots on double hard (AJ, Yoshino, London, Pac, Ultimo Guerrero just for starters - and the last guy cut was Rey, with the idea that he'd serve a Jason Kidd veteran backup point guard function - that he'd be the one guy guaranteed to have everyone on the club look up to him - I like the metaphor so much I'm almost willing to overlook the talent gap in 2009). Low Ki's a pain in the ass - he always wants to start, he always wants the ball - he's crazy, crazy talented - he's Vince Carter - if I put him in he scores 50, but it's hard to integrate him into my team concept. I have to have him though - he pushes Danielson, and I don't want to face him. Aries is really my backup point guard, a floor general type of guy - diving for loose balls - firing up the opposing crowd - like Danny Ainge - he's gonna get into fights, Tree Rollins will bite him on the leg - he's always extra fired up, and if we're dragging, he's a good energy guy for my second unit. With Marufuji down...I'm gonna say Styles is who I'd want to pick up, just for the crazy athleticism.


Coach: Kobashi


Can't really find a spot for the greatest wrestler ever in the lineup - but I could see a Bill Russell player/coach situation - if it's Game 7 and we gotta have a win, I want the ability to make him active and feed him the ball down low, over and over again.


Hopefully, I won't spend the time it would take to reconsider any of this. Did I mention I'm teaching 7 classes this term?

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