RRC: WM 30 Preview
Welcome to the fifth 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 this intro and the review descriptions).
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 30.
So which concepts have I stolen…
This 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.
Marcus Madison created this baby in 2003, and made a return with it at Wrestlemania last year. 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.
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.
The tag division was getting a decent spotlight last year, then teams started splitting up or teased with splitting up, and while others like Los Matadores debuted, they haven’t featured that much. It seemed like the Real Americans were headed for a break up, but although a Cesaro face turn seems likely soon, I have no problem with them staying together for now as long as they’re still getting screen time. Rybaxel have little to offer in singles matches, so boosting the numbers in the tag division is fine, although I wouldn’t want to see them with the titles. The Usos have kept improving since their debut and reached a point where they truly deserved the belts, it’s just a shame that it came at a time when tag matches seemed to become a bit of an afterthought again.
The WWE Network creates an interesting issue with this match, people with the Network get Wrestlemania cheaply and get this extra match, the rest of the world gets a pre-show that ends an hour before the show’s official start and despite paying much more don’t even get to see this. Like the battle royal, it’s a way to get everyone on the show and with it being on the pre-show, the Usos will retain, giving away a title change in the pre-show won’t get any extra buys, as the only people able to watch it have already paid. Cesaro deserves a place on the main show, but hopefully with no show to sell in this extra hour, this gets plenty of time and he gets to look like a star.
Rather than a meaningful match to showcase the tag division, this was just an excuse to fit more guys on the card. Then it was bumped off the main card too – PULVERIZED
High point: Whatever Cesaro does
Low point: Unless you’re at the show or have the network, you don’t get to see it
Predicted Winner: The Usos
Confidence Points: 5
There’s a couple of ways I could see this going, with the world titles unified, this is a great opportunity to kick-off a push for someone in the midcard, someone like Dolph could do with something extra to set him apart from the pack, and a big trophy might help. The alternative is using it as a celebration of Wrestlemanias past and having a legend pick up the win. Now it could be someone like the Iron Sheik who can’t take a bump over the top rope. Hogan set it up, so him entering the match, doing nothing, then winning and getting booed would be hilarious. I don’t expect him to take part, but it’s the kind of thing where someone like Stone Cold could show up as a surprise late entrant and clean house. Cool as that might be, I’d rather they look to the future rather than the past and my random outside pick for the victory is Cody Rhodes, I don’t see why he and Goldust would be involved in this rather than the tag team match unless there’s some good reason.
Perceived Winner: Cody Rhodes
With so many men, it’s hard to really get too literal about this, it’s normal for midcarders with no match to get thrown into some big multi-man match like Money in the Bank, a meaningless 8-man tag or a big pre-show battle royal. This year, a battle royal gets thrown onto the main show, tagged with Andre’s name and almost everyone on the roster who wasn’t in another match gets put in it. Since it’s name after Andre, somebody big such as Show, Sheamus, Big E or Rusev (hopefully not Khali) will probably win, although Show has been pushed so hard as the favourite that it’s unlikely to be him.
Literal Winner: Sheamus
Confidence Points: 1
It seemed like Naomi was being built for a title shot, then her face got smashed in and she became some kind of pirate/Gabrielle hybrid that still gets a shot, but as part of some giant mess instead of a straight fight. AJ has been fighting off Total Divas ever since she won the title from Kaitlyn, leaving the other (non-Total) divas with hardly any role on TV, Layla turned heel on Kaitlyn but was then left with nothing to do, Kaitlyn herself left, Tamina as AJ’s muscle has at least had some kind of role and had a bit of tension with her boss, Emma has a lame angle with Santino, but hasn’t really got to wrestle much, while Aksana, Alicia and Rosa serve no purpose beyond photo shoots.
If anyone does take the belt off AJ, one of the Totals seems most likely (hopefully we can quickly discount Cameron and Eva Marie who can’t wrestle for shit). Brie could have a the belt as a nice wedding present, although the greater-breasted Bella seems to be the one who had more of a push recently. Natalya has finally started having decent matches again after months of half-assed botchfests, but I doubt she’ll get another title run. Summer Rae as the new Total would at least be something different from another boring Bellas push, as would Naomi who was probably most likely to take the belt to begin with. I expect Naomi or Nikki to win the belt, but I hope AJ retains, former champions don’t seem to hang around for long.
Who Should Win: AJ Lee
Who Will Win: Nikki Bella
Confidence Points: 2
The PS2 Says…
WWE ’12 kicks us off on the XBox 360 with Bryan in complete control early on, Triple H doesn’t really hit anything other than a few punches, while Michael Cole rips on Bryan on commentary. Neckbreaker by HHH followed by a AA spinebuster suddenly puts him in complete control and he hits a pedigree, but no pin attempt. Bryan back up but holding his head, multiple kicks to Hunter and a DDT, then gets the yes lock on, but HHH is too close to the ropes. Kicks to the back and a double underhook suplex put both men down, but as they get up Bryan hops onto Hunter’s shoulders, rolls him over and picks up the three count.
Sim winner: Daniel Bryan
Sim analysis: I’m surprised a 2011 video game had Bryan come out so strong against HHH, even if his method of victory was a quick roll-up.
When Triple H first cost Bryan the title at Summerslam, the obvious conclusion to the angle was Bryan beating Triple H on his way to regaining the gold at Wrestlemania. That might be what happens, but this angle took a strange route to get here, with Bryan already regaining the title once, being screwed again, fighting against abeyance, then mostly ignored by the Authority for a couple of months while he was brainwashed into joining the Wyatts. Since that angle was abruptly dropped, things have gradually got back on track, but he was still left out of the Rumble without much of an angle being made of it at the time and it’s only since then, with the realisation that the fans wouldn’t accept a Batista/Orton main event and CM Punk gone that Bryan has been pushed back to the main event.
Bryan getting the chance to beat Triple H was something that should have happened sooner to properly get inserted into the main event, instead it’s condensed into one night, which could mean this match opens the show, but makes it a potentially long and big night for Bryan. The way WWE is sometimes means that they do piss off the audience on purpose, but there’s no way that Bryan loses this match as everything that follows it would be crapped all over by the fans. Triple H has tried to act like a face for far too much of the Authority angle, but has really embraced his role as the heel since the real build for this match started, I expect that to continue into the match itself with him putting Bryan over strongly to set him up for the main event.
Predicted Winner: Daniel Bryan
Confidence Points: 7
Last year Taker looked in great shape and didn’t just appear for one match then disappear. This year Taker looks like shit, a broken down old man who will struggle to put on a good match. That’s how he looks, but although this match is happening a few years later than when it could have been really good, I’m sure he’ll still do something worthwhile with Lesnar. Brock comes and goes and doesn’t really have the same impressive aura that he did when he first returned, he is beatable, he can be scared and he doesn’t intimidate everyone he gets in the ring with. There’s not a lot to this angle, it’s Heyman wanting Brock to end the streak because Punk didn’t do it last year. Sprinkle on a pen stabbing and a few druids and that’s pretty much it.
The build for this has been a bit too one-sided, Taker always wins at Wrestlemania, so you would think that his opponent should be built up as a threat. Instead Brock has been Taker’s bitch until the final Raw before Mania when he finally got the upper hand. As for who wins, it’s Undertaker. There’s no reason for Brock to win, there’s no hint that Brock will win and there’s no benefit if Brock breaks the streak as just like Taker, he’ll be gone again after Wrestlemania.
Brock finally getting the better of Taker saves the build being pulverized, but it wasn’t very good – PENDULUM.
High point: The streak continues
Low point: Everyone knows the streak is continuing
Predicted Winner: The Undertaker
Confidence Points: 8
The Shield have been fantastic ever since their debut, and have (almost) always been booked very strong. Most people expected Reigns to turn face and have some kind of match between them, but I’m glad we got a face run from the whole team first. Ambrose is more of a natural heel, but Rollins has the potential to be a bigger face than Reigns if they book him right. With the face turn so recent there’s no reason for them to rush the break up and there’s definitely no point in them losing to three old guys. The Shield should win strongly with all three members getting an equal chance to shine and a triple powerbomb on Kane to finish it off.
Perceived Winner: The Shield
The Outlaws have been decent during their recent run, but really need to retire soon, it’s nice of them to get one last Wrestlemania match, but this really isn’t about them. The Shield have been getting the better of Kane for weeks, so for the DoA to have any authority he needs to stamp out the threat and turn one (or more) of them to his side. The Shield will split at some point and what better place to do it that at Wrestlemania. If that happens, who turns? Ambrose is the obvious one, but recently he’s been tagging with Rollins, which suggests either both of them turn, or the unthinkable happens and they turn Reigns heel…
The Real Literal Truth
Actually none of that is true, unless WWE really hates their fans the Literal Truth is exactly the same as the Perceived, Shield wins decisively, Kane gets powerbombed.
Literal Winner: The Shield
Confidence Points: 6
When this match was first rumoured, many people weren’t convinced by the idea, partly because Cena was supposedly in the undisputed main event. While this definitely isn’t that, it is a fairly well-built feud, especially compared to Wyatt’s ridiculous angle with Bryan. There’s random beatdowns, attempts at mind games, and cheating in matches, but all of it works. There’s no Cena being brainwashed and wearing a boilersuit (until Raw when he did it by choice), and there’s also no SuperCena dismissing Wyatt as a threat entirely. Instead Cena is trying mind games of his own, and the reaction he got from the fans for wearing the sheep mask was positive as it was something different. If you look past the mind games and sheep masks, this comes down to a nice simple idea of one guy wanting to beat the other guy for a reason, while the other guy stands his ground. It’s simple, but it works.
Cena can definitely afford to lose this match, he’s not been SuperCena-ing his way through this feud so far, but he hasn’t looked weak either and a win for Wyatt would mean much more. I also expect them to have a rematch at Extreme Rules which works far better if you have Cena seeking some kind of no-holds-barred rematch with Wyatt after Bray wins at Mania. With this being WWE, it’s unlikely their biggest star will lose on the biggest show to someone who’s still fairly new, so Cena will probably win here, with Bray getting a cheap win back in something like a tables match where Cena is never even pinned.
Who Should Win: Bray Wyatt
Who Will Win: John Cena
Confidence Points: 3
The PS2 Says…
For the main event of the evening, it’s 2004’s Smackdown vs Raw, which fittingly has When Worlds Collide as the menu music and Stacy Kiebler gyrating in a very shirt skirt besides the menu, she seems to be in her underwear for much of the intro too for some reason. Before making it to a match there’s an animated Trish Status shaking her thing on another menu. The Raw ones were much better than the Sable/Torrie Wilson on the Smackdown version of the menu. Oh yeah, I’m simming a match not remembering old game menus It’s Triple H vs Orton vs Batista and they’re all fighting dirty. Batista has Evolution music rather than his own, but Orton has his solo entrance. Hunter spits water at the camera, how rude.
A messy start to the match with lots of kicks, chops and counters. Dave spears Randy and Hunter leaves the ring for no apparent reason. Batista slips out to grab a chair and hits Orton with a shot that would definitely get him a fine. HHH clotheslines Batista and hits him repeatedly with the chair. Trips and Randy have a chopping contest in the corner. Lots more kicks, chops and counters and Triple H puts Batista in some kind of neck lock. Orton uses a chinlock on Batista, so Triple H gets another chair and beats the crap out of them both until it breaks up. Orton gets double teamed for a bit before Triple H and Batista start to fight each other. Finally a bit of wrestling breaks out, but Batista breaks it up with yet another chair. Another chair from Batista and more bloody chops from everyone. Nice dropkick by Orton, but Batista nails him with a chair to the gut then DDTs him with a chair finisher. Before he can cover, HHH hits the Pedigree, but despite both other guys being down, HHH gets out of the ring, climbs back in, then straight back out to get another chair, by the time he returns Batista is out of the ring getting another fucking chair and Orton is up and hits him with a clothesline. Crossbody by Orton, but now Dave has a sledgehammer and hits him with it, then hits HHH. Orton kips up and elbows Batista causing him to drop sledgie and eat another Pedigree. Orton stops Hunter going for the pin, while Batista gets back up. Hunter goes outside for a table, while Batista hits a Batista Bomb that ends in a rope break. Hunter jumps out again while Randy gets the table to hit Dave. Triple H and Orton fight, while Batista swings the table nowhere near them. Finally he hits them both, then grabs a chair and DDTs Triple H on it for the win.
Sim winner: Batista
Sim analysis: An awful match that was nothing like a Wrestlemania main event, fortunately this won’t happen.
The XBox 360 Says…
That shitty main event isn’t happening, lets try Batista vs Orton vs Bryan on WWE ’12. Getting a Batista CAW is almost unnecessary when Mason Ryan is on the roster. Bryan immediately goes for the same pinning move he used to beat Triple H, while Orton almost wipes out the ref with a clothesline. Bryan with an early submission attempt, then a brainbuster on Batista, while Orton getting involved with 2 of his moves of doom. Batista isn’t getting involved, so goes to get a sledgehammer, but just drops it in the ring without doing anything. Orton pounds on Bryan for a couple of minutes and he looks a little wobbly when he makes it back to his feet. Dave gets involved with his hammer, allowing Bryan to hit the knee on Orton who escapes to the outside. A lot of taking it in turns to hit a move, then Batista hits what appears to be a Rock Bottom on Orton for a 2 count. Orton with a scoop slam on Bryan, then an overdrive on Batista. RKO out of nowhere, but Bryan is up to stop the count at 2. Bryan uses lots of chair shots to get control. Batista has given up hitting any moves and just goes for the pin every time. Everyone leaves the ring holding their heads and Bryan gets the yes lock on Orton. Randy taps, but it’s outside the ring so doesn’t count. Batista still doing nothing as Bryan throws Orton into the barricade. Back in the ring, Bryan hits the knee on both men, Bryan misses a dropkick allowing Orton to hit an RKO on Batista. Bryan breaks that up, but after Randy locks in an armbar, then slams Dave’s elbow into the mat, Bryan just stands there as the ref counts to three.
Sim winner: Randy Orton
Sim analysis: Another shitty match and despite Batista having better stats than Bryan he did nothing but get pinned. The Bryan/Orton one on one bits were good, which is what I’m expecting on Sunday.
Whoever decided that Orton vs Batista was a good idea for the Wrestlemania main event was nuts, you wouldn’t normally get people wanting a triple threat match, but with Bryan out of the title picture and two fairly heatless guys going for the belt, someone saw sense and added a stipulation that allows Bryan into the title match if he beats Triple H, and even more sensibly still makes it a triple threat if Triple H wins. He won’t, but promoting the main event as Orton vs Bryan and maybe a B+ player if he wins, but if not it’s one on one would have been a stupid thing to do.
So assuming there’s no mega trolling of the entire universe and Bryan is in this match, does he win? I think yes, but I don’t think it’s certain. The only way Orton will retain is if HHH ends up in the match and Randy turns face to keep the belt, but if Triple H is in this match, I think he’ll be the one who wins. Batista is a strange one, I don’t see any real role for him outside of the title picture, so him winning the belt with Bryan chasing is a possibility, but ending the show with the least over guy of these four winning the title would be a terrible decision. Although chasing Batista through towards the summer might be a good story, Bryan needs to win AND have a good title reign to follow it, he’s already a 2-time WWE champion, so winning the belt isn’t what’s important, he needs to keep it and beat the likes of Orton, Batista and Lesnar to prove he’s truly an A-level performer.
Predicted Winner: Daniel Bryan
Confidence Points: 4
Wrestlemania 30 could have been a disaster, with Punk gone, Cena fighting a midcarder and an Orton/Batista main event. There’s still potential to screw it up if Bryan loses to HHH, but Punk’s departure hasn’t had a massive impact, Wyatt has proved that he’s more than a limited midcard act and Orton/Batista has been turned into a triple threat. The show isn’t perfect, it has a battle royal, a tag title match and a divas match all designed to get bodies on the show rather than add much quality, Taker/Lesnar has had minimal effort put into it and there will probably be more than half an hour taken up by Hogan, music and non-wrestling stuff. Overall it should be a decent show and WWE has done a good recovery job of building interest for it. I’d be surprised if was one of the best Manias ever, but it should avoid being one of the worst.