RRC: Stolen Concepts – Wrestlemania 29

Over the years, The Oratory has featured a lot of pay-per-view previews, the archives contain heaps of excellent pieces of work from years gone by, many of them were just straight up previews that predicted the winner, while others added innovative little twists to the usual format. In the last few years most of these concepts have become all-but extinct, so now, instead of coming up with a new and original preview technique of my own, I’ve decided to relive some of these old favourites to preview Wrestlemania 29.

Welcome to the fourth edition of Stolen Concepts, a PPV preview format so old I could almost steal it and use it in a column (which I did for that intro and the review descriptions). I’d done this three times before, Wrestlemania in 2009 and 2010, and the 2010 edition of Night of Champions. WWE don’t often book a full card in advance, which makes it hard to do a preview like this regularly, but after The Rock and Cena had a Point/Counterpoint a few weeks ago on Raw, it inspired me to bring it back.

So which concepts have I stolen…

When Worlds Collide
This one had to be done really, as it was probably one of the most fun to read previews, as you never knew what the consoles were going to do. Here’s the blurb on this one “The United Nations meets monthly to do When Worlds Collide, a unique Pay Per View preview that involves simming the card on video game systems. It began with former Orators Waranhayt and Xavier Von Erck. James IV took Waranhayt’s place in 2003, and when Xavier left in 2004, Matt Seagull and Mike Maloney filled in.” Cash tried to revive it in late 2007, but sadly the comeback only lasted for a couple of months.

In late 2001, Mark Price started this clever idea for a preview and review. The Counterpoint came after the show, but the Point was the preview part, here’s Mark’s explanation of it. “I’ll preview each match, tell you my percentage of interest in it, and tell you who I think should win, then who I logically think will actually win”. After the brand exclusive PPVs started, Lauren C joined Mark on the big 4 shows to add a bit more of a special feel to the dual branded events.

Perceived/Literal Truth
Marcus Madison created this baby in 2003, and as I’m stealing his concept, I’ll steal his explanation of it too.
“Here’s how it works…
Perceived Truth – is what I’d like, want, prefer, hope and look forward to happening during a particular match.
Perceived Winner – is who I’d like, want, prefer, hope and look forward to winning in any particular match.
Literal Truth – is I believe will happen, think will happen, expect what will happen, get all realistic I look at what will happen. This section is difficult because it has nothing to do with what I want to happen but more importantly the facts that lead in a particular direction.
Literal Winner – is who I believe will win, think will win, expect to win, and appears more than likely to win”.

Before having his solo preview column, Marcus was also a part of the Monthly PPV Deconstruction Preview with Adam Karabel, It was so successful that when Marcus went to do his own thing, Adam was able to hold a Tough Enough-style competition to recruit a new partner, the winner of that was Michael J and Brett Berliner later joined the team too.

After each preview came the High Point and Low Point of the match and the PRAISED, PULVERIZED OR PENDULUM rating for the build-up to the match and the status of the match on the card. PRAISE is good, PULVERIZED is really bad, while PENDULUM is in the middle where nobody really cares.

Confident Picks
The most recent of the columns I’m using, Brand-O and Mauie started it in the RCC at the beginning of 2008 and it got a fairly regular RCC Spotlight on the main page. PWF and myself joined in the fun the following year, but it gradually died out towards the end of 2009, with just a couple of outings in 2010.

As well as previewing the matches, it is a contest to see who is the best at confidently picking the winners of each match. A confidence rating is attached to each match, the higher the number, the more confident the prediction is.

They’re the concepts, now on with the previews. I’ll use one of the first four preview methods for each match, then attach a confidence rating to each of my predicted winners.

CM Punk vs The Undertaker
When using old consoles it’s always handy to have real wrestlers on them rather than creating them. Undertaker is in pretty much every WWE console game ever made, so it’s just a case of finding Punk. Representing the Playstation 2 is Smackdown vs Raw 2008 featuring ECW, while the XBox 360 gives a run-out to the 2010 edition.

The PS2 Says…
It’s been a while, I might make a loud grinding noise for a few seconds. Don’t panic, I’m OK, and loading your disc. Lots of punches and kicks early on and Taker does 3 or 4 Sidewalk Slams. Early attempt at a Chokeslam countered by Punk, but this match is all Taker. Clothesline by Taker, but Punk counters every other big move he tries including another try at a Chokeslam. Taker easily escapes from a Boston Crab and hits another Sidewalk Slam. Taker goes Old School to get his momentum meter up, but instead of hitting a finisher he goes for a Boston Crab instead. Taker stands outside the ring for a while, then comes back in to hit a Running DDT, a legdrop and a Khali-esque Double-handed Chokeslam to get another finisher, but still doesn’t hit it, instead he goes into special punchy mode and pounds away on Punk, busting him open in the process. A Dropkick is Punk’s first offensive move for a few minutes, but his revival doesn’t last long. Double-handed Chokeslam by Taker and he finally goes for a pin, but Punk kicks out at two and a half. A flurry of kicks from Punk and a Sleeper hold puts Taker in trouble for the first time, but Punk is staggering around the ring and bleeding a lot. A couple more attempted Chokeslams fail and when Punk gets Taker in position to his the GTS, it’s countered with a DDT. Another Sidewalk Slam by Taker leads nowhere. Punk gets Taker on his shoulders again, but once again Undertaker counters with a DDT and this time pins Punk in just under 12 minutes without ever hitting a finisher.
Winner: The Undertaker

The XBox 360 Says…
Hey, want to listen to Jeff Hardy’s shitty entrance theme while you set the match up? It’s clobberin’ time as Punk heads to the ring pretty quickly, Taker takes ages, but it gives me time to be distracted by them both having long hair. Duelling chants from the fans as they run around a lot and exchange headlocks, while Cole says some crap about WWE magazine. Taker stomps on Punk for a while, then hits snake eyes and a couple of clotheslines in the corner. Chokeslam by Taker gives him a finisher, but instead of hitting it he goes for a pin which Punk easily kicks out of then goes on the attack. A sign in the crowd says 17-0, someone should have a sing like that this year, just for randomness. Lots of simple submission holds either way with nobody in control, then Taker locks in a full nelson. Punk powers out, but a running DDT from Taker busts Punk open, there’s blood everywhere. Mini revival by Punk is halted by a Chokeslam, then taker goes for Hell’s Gate (or the Devil’s Gate as Cole calls it), but Batista shows up to distract the ref before Punk can tap. Armbar, but again Batista distracts the ref and Punk kicks out at 2 when Taker goes for a pin. Snake Eyes and a big boot spills more blood and gives Taker another finisher. Another Hell’s Gate, another Batista distraction. Taker has red gloves as he pounds away on Punk’s bleeding head. Another Hell’s Gate and Batista just stands there this time as Punk taps out after 9 and a half minutes.
Winner: The Undertaker

Krizbii Says…
The PS2 squash wasn’t surprising as ECW Punk had much lower stats than he does now. The XBox probably got a lot of the match right, brawling and grappling, the odd faster paced moment, maybe some blood (unless Triple H and Lesnar have reserved the blood spillage allocation for the night), but mostly Taker beating on Punk and eventually grinding out a win. I think Punk breaking the streak would be a good redemption story if he was turning back face, as a heel he doesn’t really need the win, although the loss won’t do much for him either. Hopefully Taker can move well enough to have a decent match, which is the most important thing regardless of the result.
Winner: The Undertaker
Confidence Points: 10

Clay/Tensai/Funkadactyls vs Rhodes Scholars/Bella Twins
The Rhodes Scholars split up to pursue singles careers and Cody was getting cosy with Kaitlyn. Then the Bellas came back, the Cody/Kaitlyn angle was dropped and the Rhodes Scholars are back together as the Bellas’ sidekicks to get the twins feud with the dancers on Wrestlemania. Tensai’s face turn was done well and he’s far more effective in his new role than he ever was as a serious heel, but his team with Brodus is nothing more than a sideshow comedy act and while Naomi may be one of the best female wrestlers on the roster, she’s never had a chance to show it. Logically the face team should win such a pointless undercard match, but since the Bellas got a match they didn’t really deserve, they’ll probably get a win too.

High Point: Sandow and Cody get on the card.
Low Point: Cameron and the Bellas get on the card.

Match Rating: The focus is more on the girls than the guys (although the Raw divas match was good). PULVERIZED.
Winner: The Bella Twins and Rhodes Scholars
Confidence Points: 1

Wade Barrett vs The Miz
Perceived Truth:
Miz is a terrible face, boring in the ring and looks plain wrong doing the figure four. Despite being a former WWE champion he looked out of his depth in his feud with Cesaro and switching focus to the other midcard belt doesn’t really improve things. Barrett’s IC title run hasn’t been great, like Cesaro he suffers from being booked to lose to people higher on the card than him on a regular basis and his only real semi-feud was with Sheamus over some crappy film (this should really be a triple threat with Otunga since they’re all such major movie stars). Miz tried to win the US title for months without success and there’s no reason why he should take the IC title from Barrett either. Hopefully he takes a good arse kicking and a swift elbow to his stupid face.
Perceived Winner: Barrett

Literal Truth:
Miz has fallen a long way since main-eventing Wrestlemania 27, he was regularly beaten whist feuding with US champion Cesaro and loses more than he wins. Despite the lack of success since his face turn, he continues to have MizTV, commentate on Main Event and get shots at the midcard belts and he was given the figure four leg lock by Ric Flair. He’s not the most engaging or likable guy on the roster, but clearly someone likes him. With the way the heel/face balance is on the roster switching the title to Miz makes a lot of sense, Barrett doesn’t need the belt to job to the likes of Orton, Sheamus and Del Rio, but with Miz as the IC champion, there’s a whole bunch of midcard heels for him to feud with so the title is actually relevant again.
Literal Winner: The Miz
Confidence Points: 2

Fandango vs Jericho
Fandango is a dancer, had video promos for months without appearing, then when he finally did show up, he won’t wrestle unless you say his name right. That’s about as deep as his character gets, why should anyone care if he wrestles or not, just get off my TV and let somebody else on the show instead. Jericho was on Dancing with the Stars, Fandango is a dancer, it’s a perfect match if you’re Len Goodman. Except this is a wrestling show, they’re not having a dance-off, getting to see Fandango wrestle isn’t going to get anyone to part with 70 dollars. If the match isn’t good, I expect the crowd will crap all over it, although the past couple of weeks have given Fandango a chance to do more than say his name slowly which has raised my expectations slightly. I guess Jericho jobs here to give Fandango a winning start.

High Point: Fandango finally wrestles.
Low Point: Fandango finally wrestles.

Match Rating: A crap gimmick, a waste of Jericho and a complete waste of time. PULVERIZED.
Winner: Fandango
Confidence Points: 6

Mark Henry vs Ryback
Interest Level: 50%
Ryback had a dominant run going on until Brad Maddox and the Shield cost him his opportunities at the title last year. Maddox was no problem, but getting revenge on the Shield is something he never achieved. Facing them at Wrestlemania was the obvious role for Ryback, but instead he was sidestepped into a feud with Henry instead over nothing in particular other than them both being strong. Henry has been great since coming back from injury and has been the strong heel he wasn’t for the first 10 years of his time in WWE. He deserved a title shot much more than Swagger, but with that opportunity gone, a big man match with Ryback was probably the next best match available to him. Both guys are capable of good work with the right person, but against each other I’m not so sure. After losing his undefeated streak, Ryback has lost a few times but he should win this one, the spectacle of him hitting shellshocked on Henry will be one of the reasons this match was made for.

Who should win: Ryback
Who will win: Ryback
Confidence Points: 8

Alberto Del Rio vs Jack Swagger
Perceived Truth:
Borderline racist Jack Swagger winning a title shot at Elimination Chamber was a surprise, partly because his new character had only just debuted, partly because he’d always been a midcarder (apart from his equally baffling MITB win and title reign), but mostly because he just isn’t very good. He can’t promo, so has Colter for that, but Zeb can’t cover for his lack of intensity or emotion, he has new music, he has a mouthpiece, but he still just looks like the same dumb jock he’s always been but with slightly messier hair. Going after Del Rio is fine as he’s the champion, but from a character point of view, Del Rio is entirely the wrong kind of immigrant to go after, he’s a rich aristocrat, not someone who sneaked across the border to follow the American dream, or rather he was. To fit the ramblings of Swagger and Colter, Alberto no longer has flash cars, no longer has a golden shower of pyro and no longer seems like the same guy who was starting to really work as a face. His character has been altered to a hero of the people who has a bucket full of confetti, shittier music and was born in Mexico, but was made in America. Bull Shit. Altering the character of Del Rio just to try and make it fit this angle was dumb, Swagger should lose and never trouble the main event scene again, but the damage to ADR is done, he has to rely on Ricardo to get him any face heat and as he’s the foreigner and Swagger is American he doesn’t even have all the crowd behind him. My expectations for this are very low, the only bright side will be Ziggler cashing in so that neither of these guys is World Heavyweight Champion.
Perceived Winner: Alberto Del Rio then Dolph Ziggler

Literal Truth:
Del Rio has gone from cocky heel who treated Ricardo like crap to noble hero who defends his friend. Despite the racial content to this feud, it’s essentially a very basic tale of good guy vs bad guy with the champion seeking to beat the bully who broke his friend’s ankle. Jack Swagger has had a random push before, his Money in the Bank win in 2010 came out of nowhere and his unconvincing title reign didn’t last long. After being written off TV last year, it seemed likely he’d get a character refresh from the All American American American American, but when he returned he was the same old Swagger, then gradually got new things like a new nickname, new manager, new music. He was clearly still a work in progress but was thrust into a World Title angle before his transformation was complete, leaving him fighting a losing battle to get over before he really got started. Colter is very good at what he does, but leaving this until Swagger’s character was more fleshed out would have made more sense. Lose to Del Rio and there’s not really anywhere for Swagger to go but down, so even though he’s not ready and he’s not really over, the Swagger project really has to continue with him taking the title.
Literal Winner: Jack Swagger
Confidence Points: 3

Team Hell No vs Ziggler/Langston
Kane and Bryan had been looking like splitting up, which could have led to a Wrestlemania match between them, instead we get a tag title match, which means Ziggler gets a spot on the card and Big E gets to wrestle. That’s a much better plan than a Kane/Bryan match, although the lack of viable genuine tag teams to challenge is kind of disappointing. AJ’s historical sluttiness with the tag champs was a useful hook to encourage them to want this match as there’s no other reason for them to want to face a singles wrestler and his bodyguard. Ziggler still has his Money in the Bank contract to cash in at some point, but the match order at Wrestlemania will probably determine whether it happens here, if the World Heavyweight title match goes on first again, Dolph is unlikely to cash-in with this match later. If this tag match goes on early, he’ll probably lose this one, but be World Heavyweight Champion by the end of the night. Either way, I don’t see Kane and Bryan losing their titles, this is mostly an entertaining filler match that gets deserving guys on the card.

High Point: Langston finally wrestles.
Low Point: It probably won’t get the time it deserves.

Match Rating: It’s not a lot more than a filler match, but should be good. PENDULUM.
Winners: Team Hell No
Confidence Points: 7

Randy Orton, Sheamus and The Big Show vs The Shield
Interest Level: 40%
A trio stable always has the same problem in WWE, they either wrestle repetitive six-man tags or split up and wrestle singles matches so they’re no longer really a team. Shield are a solid unit and have pretty much just worked occasional six-man tags since their debut. It means they’re not over-exposed as they haven’t had too many matches, but there’s not a lot of variety in the matches they have had. One constant since the Shield debut is that Ryback is their enemy, he even wanted to eat them at one point. An Orton, Sheamus and Ryback team wouldn’t be that exciting or different to the Cena/Sheamus/Ryback team that was in action at Elimination Chamber or the Jericho/Sheamus/Ryback team that faced the Shield on Raw, but as a victim of multiple Shield attacks, Orton being on the team at least makes sense. At some point, somebody had a great idea for a Henry/Ryback match, which removed the person with the biggest motivation to get a win over the Shield from this match, in his place we get the Big Show, giant heel with an ironclad contract who the Shield showed no interest in until someone decided to do Henry/Ryback at Mania. Ryback is far from my favourite wrestler, but without him in the match, this is just a generic six-man tag that nobody really cares about. The face team will probably still win, but the story won’t be as good without the Shield’s main enemy in it.

Who Should Win: Ryback
Who Will Win: Orton, Show and Sheamus

Confidence Points: 5

Brock Lesnar vs Triple H
This is another good match for doing sims as Lesnar appears in some older games. For the Playstation 2 I’ll use the game named after Lesnar, Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain, while WWE 12 is in action for the XBox 360

The XBox 360 Says
WWE 12? clearly you never played this game much, so didn’t even buy WWE 13 right? Well just enough to unlock Brock Lesnar anyway. Lesnar in control early on until Triple H comes back into it with a double axe handle from the top rope. Brock is soon pounding away on HHH again and in complete control, big fallaway slam gives Brock a signature move, but suddenly the screen goes neon green. Triple H is Gaming-Up, a couple of quick clotheslines, spinebuster and a pedigree and it’s all over in 2.50. I’m not sure what happened there, for two and a half minutes it was all Lesnar, then Triple H squashed him in a few seconds. Weird.
Winner: Triple H

The PS2 Says
This is more like it, best Smackdown game ever. Hunter is rocking the purple trunks, but no white boots sadly. Brock hits a running clothesline after one second and hits Triple H with a flurry of kicks and punches. Atomic drop, knees to the gut and a spinebuster put Hunter down, only for Lesnar to pick him up and hit an F5 after 47 seconds. He’s a bit slow to cover, but this one is over in 56 seconds. I know the pace of older Smackdown games was much quicker than more recent ones, but the pace and brutality of that squash was crazy, HCTP is from an era when Triple H was dominating the main event, but apart from trying an Irish Whip, he didn’t hit a single move.
Winner: Brock Lesnar

Krizbii Says…
The XBox might have it right that Triple H will win out of nowhere after Brock has dominated the match, but I think it might last a good deal longer, probably too long with lots of stalling, which would be shame as a few minutes of brutal balls-t0-the-wall action could be fun, as proved by the PS2, which had Lesnar completely destroying HHH. Logic would mean that Trips gets his win back to defend the McMahon family honour, but since Lesnar is hanging around, another dominant win for him is what I think should happen. The stipulation putting HHH’s career on the line swings the balance firmly back in Hunter’s favour though, it wouldn’t really matter if he retired as he’s part-time anyway, but if he really wanted to hang up his boots, the previous Lesnar match gave him that chance and he’s still back at Wrestlemania for one more match and pay day.
Winner: Triple H
Confidence Points: 4

The Rock vs John Cena
Perceived Truth:
Last year the Rock worked his ass off to put on a show, and any rustiness was forgivable as the chance to see The Rock back in the ring again was new and different. Since he’s been back this time, his ring work has been quite poor, he gets blown up very quickly and the novelty of The Rock wrestling again simply isn’t there. The one redeeming feature in this angle so far is that Cena has been showing shades of Austin before Wrestlemania X-Seven. Suggestions of Cena turning heel have been around for years and it seems likely that he never, ever will, but that doesn’t mean we should give up wanting it to happen. The Rock is likely to be the face in the match regardless of Cena’s angle, but I don’t think there’s much chance of him retaining the title, he won’t be around much (if at all) after Wrestlemania and his ring-work simply isn’t good enough for him to be the WWE Champion. If Cena wins the belt back he has almost no new opponents to face as he’s beaten everyone already as a face, he’s still beaten almost everyone if he turns, but it’d put a different spin on things to have Cena as the bad guy. Teaming up with the Shield could give Cena a dominant heel run through the summer as he decimates the Raw roster and whoever manages to beat Cena would be a star (or Ryback).
Perceived Winner: John Cena (heel god and leader of the Shield)

Literal Truth:
I have very little interest in this match. Once in a lifetime had a hook, a rematch a year later doesn’t, even with the WWE title on the line. The Rock as WWE champion isn’t going to last and he hardly ever shows up, so he needs to lose the belt and give Cena his win back. From a marketing point of view doing Rock/Cena for the title sounds like a great idea as it’s the two biggest names going head to head for the biggest prize in the business and for the kids it’s the chance for their hero Cena to overcome his terrible year (in which he beat Lesnar, won Money in the Bank and the Royal Rumble) and finally reclaim his title. If you look beyond kayfabe and hype, it’s a part time actor who can’t work as well as he used to in a needless rematch with a bland, stale one-trick pony who is portrayed as some kind of underdog despite never looking particularly weak or taking any defeats he does have very seriously. Rock won last year, Cena wins this year, there’s no intrigue, no drama and the crowd could well shit over both guys like they’re Lesnar and Goldberg if the match isn’t good. Hopefully Rock brings his working boots so that the match is entertaining, even if the outcome is blatantly obvious.
Literal Winner: John Cena (bland babyface for all eternity)
Confidence Points: 9

Final Thoughts
The build for Wrestlemania hasn’t been very good, but for some reason I’m still looking forward to it and still expect it to be a good show. I’m posting this quite early in the week and am already reconsidering a few of the outcomes of the matches that I’ve gone for, but generally it looks like it should be quite face-heavy when it comes to the winners, even in the unlikely event of a proper Cena heel turn. With the IC title match on the pre-show and no divas title match booked, there should be plenty of time for the other nine matches as long as they don’t waste 20 minutes in the middle of the show on a lame pop concert.

RRC Stolen Concepts