Pre-show match: WeeeLC match: Hornswoggle versus El Torito.
Outlook: Do I really have to write a review on this? Do I really have to look at the past three weeks between the two undersized wrestlers in the WWE participating in a TLC match, only with smaller tables, step ladders and mini-chairs? Oh, I do? Well, this match is going to be painful to watch. It’s obvious the two groups consisting of Los Matadores and 3MB are going to be at ringside for this. El Torito is athletic in the ring as is Hornswoggle. The problem with the dynamic is that this will just be a match with comedic spots. I can see a scenario where Hornswoggle looks for the tad pole splash and crashes through a table only to be pinned by El Torito. Or he actually hits the move through a table and gets the pinfall. Either way, they could have done worse on the pre-show card. Having this on the actual PPV would have killed the crowd.
So Who Wins: Logically, Hornswoggle needs the win more than El Torito. For the better half of the past couple of years, Hornswoggle has been a face. This heel turn, aligning himself with 3MB, has given his character new life. As much as the kids will want to see El Torito pick up the pinfall, it will be Hornswoggle that takes the match.
Winner: Hornswoggle via Pinfall after a Tadpole Splash through a table
Match 1: Rob Van Dam versus Cesaro versus Jack Swagger
Outlook: This is a triple threat match that was added to the card on RAW. While other matches may be added to the card, this looks like the ideal match to kick the show off. Undoubtedly, the crowd will be hot and anticipating a phenomenal night. There are multiple different styles of wrestling here. You have Cesaro playing the strength game, powered by the heelish qualities of Paul Heyman at ringside. You have Swagger and the amateur wrestling background, with Zeb Colter at ringside. In recent weeks, it appears that these two have morphed into a tweener combination, with as of last night, possibly headed toward a face turn. The crowd loves Cesaro but in the “I hate the persona that he has on screen, but love him as an accomplished worker”. Swagger has always been a great athlete, just a string of bad luck and a past drug arrest has pushed him back. So this brings us to the wildcard, the more than ever popular Rob…Van…Dam. With him added to the mix, and his work ethic, this match will surely be the one that could steal the show. Setting it up as the first match of the night on the PPV will undoubtedly provide a tall task for anyone that follows it.
So Who Wins: Everyone in this match could do well with the victory. Van Dam could get the pinfall as long as it occurs against Swagger. Swagger and Cesaro could pin the other to continue to set up their feud. One of those two would greatly benefit from taking the pinfall on Van Dam. So you have to imagine two possibilities: if this is a long term feud between the three, then any one of the three could walk out the winner. If this is a short term feud between the three, which it could very well be seeing as how the WWE seems content with starting a Paul Heyman/RVD feud, there could be enough steam to drag out a long term feud between the three.
Winner: Cesaro via pinfall after the Uppercut punch to RVD
Match 2: Big E versus Wade Barrett
Outlook: Where did Barrett come from. It seemed like this Bad News gimmick would never take off. And now here we are, 2-3 months from when the angle started, and he is flying high. The crowds seemed to be behind him more lately. Look at who he defeated to win the Intercontinental Title tournament: Rob Van Dam, Sheamus, and Dolph Ziggler. He beat all three in convincing fashion and will now face Big E for the title on Sunday. Big E on the other hand, has not done much as champion. While he has defended the belt more than Dean Ambrose and the US title, his victories feel forced at times. Barrett tends to have that brawler type style, and even though he is portrayed as a heel, the crowd seems to be getting behind him big time.
So Who Wins: In this case, it would be better for Big E to chase the title rather than to defend it against Barrett. WWE would be foolish not to cash in on what Barrett has accomplished in the past few weeks, not just with his character but with the crowd reactions as well. Big E’s time with the IC title has been well deserved, but it’s time for the WWE to move in a different direction.
Winner: Wade Barrett via Pinfall after hitting the Bull Hammer
Match 3: Handicap 2 on 1 Match: Xavier Woods and R-Truth versus Alexander Rusev
Outlook: Rusev is on a tear. Paired with the beautiful Lana as his mouthpiece, the brawler has become a fierce competitor, squashing all opponents in his way. Two wrestlers that he has already faced will try to end his undefeated streak. Is it possible for a squash match to occur on a PPV? Better yet, is it possible for this squash match to go less than 5 minutes? It is an interesting dynamic. The WWE seems to be high on Xavier Woods, but do not know what to do with him outside of pairing him with R-Truth. Truth, meanwhile, has been stuck in mid-card hell, with no end in sight.
So Who Wins: As if there is any doubt as to how this match is going to end, getting there is the big question. It’s very well possible that the match could be over in 3-5 minutes. The not-so-obvious outcome is that the match is given 10+ minutes, with R-Truth and Woods managing to get some offense in and wear the behemoth down. Regardless, the match ends in submission with Rusev standing tall. There is a small chance that we get to see a Woods heel turn, although with no direction in sight, the turn is very unlikely to happen.
Winner: Alexander Rusev via Submission with the Camel Clutch on R-Truth
Match 4: Steel Cage Match: John Cena versus Bray Wyatt
Outlook: How in the world have we arrived at this point? WrestleMania XXX was shocking in many different ways. Brock Lesnar defeated the Undertaker and ended the streak. AJ Lee beat a plethora of opponents and won the Divas Battle Royal. Cesaro won the first annual Andre the Giant Battle Royal. While Undertaker losing was the biggest shock of the night, the second biggest shock came in the fact that John Cena defeated Bray Wyatt. For weeks, Wyatt had been seen as this character that would defeat the almighty Cena at WrestleMania. Then, Cena won, and all were convinced that Wyatt would lose steam and fade into black. The WWE gambled on its budding superstar, hoping that a loss would not kill the momentum. It’s done the complete opposite of killing the momentum: it has fueled it. It has created a greater entity in Bray Wyatt then most could have hoped for. I haven’t been this astonished and amazed with a wrestling persona since the Undertaker in the mid 90’s. Here’s the best part. Wyatt’s character is only BEGINNING to evolve into what it is. Instead of killing the momentum, that loss at WrestleMania has propelled Wyatt into main event status. Wyatt was already creepy before this feud, but the feud with Cena has been so well executed, I get chills thinking about it sometimes. While watching RAW with a group of friends on Monday, we witnessed what was possibly the best start to RAW in the past 10-15 years. Cena cuts a promo inside the steel cage. After the promo is over, kids are heard singing “He’s got the Whole World in His Hands”. It was blatantly obvious that it was a kid that was singing the catchy tune. However, it was later revealed that it was an entire choir that was singing the song. A choir of KIDS. Children that were singing this, supporting what was supposed to be a man that had created his own cult. The beauty of what the WWE created here was immense. The kids represented the Cena-Nation. The Cena-Nation was now supporting Wyatt, not being against him. Bray Wyatt symbolizes the dark side. The best part: Cena being in the steel cage while all this was going on. To fully show support for Wyatt, the kids in the choir would all don sheep masks to end the segment. The steel cage represents hypothetical walls that John Cena has put up throughout his career, in efforts to avoid the dark side (or in a nut shell, turning heel). Here’s the beautiful part of this entire feud. On Sunday, Cena must allow Wyatt inside of those “walls” in order to defeat him. To me, it’s been long OVERDUE for John Cena to turn heel. It’s true that he is the top merchandise seller in the company. He does so much for the Make-A-Wish foundation, which is truly incredible and inspired work. It’s arguable that this will be the last chance to truly make him heel. You do not have to necessarily align him with Wyatt, just bring out the darkness that will allow him to pursue being a heel.
So Who Wins: More obvious than the Rusev match, the winner has to be Wyatt. If the WWE allows Cena to win the match, this momentum will be killed. But imagine if he does win. There are endless possibilities as to what you could book from here on out. Wyatt could be billed as the man that opened Cena up to the dark side. Cena could join the Wyatt family. Or there might be another match opened up at the following PPV, which would be billed as the payoff match. If this was the case, they would have to finish the fight inside another cell…
Winner: Bray Wyatt via pinfall after hitting Sister Abigail on John Cena
Match 5: WWE Diva’s Title Match: Tamina vs. Paige ©
Outlook: The future has been immensely bright for Paige, who debuted the night after WrestleMania to capture the Diva’s Title from AJ Lee. Lee needed time off, and the time was right for Paige to capture the title. Since the title win, Paige has decimated opponents, putting them in brutal submission finishers and dominating her adversaries. Now, she faces a formidable foe in Tamina, someone who will definitely be billed as someone who is more powerful than Paige. Paige will need all of her wrestling knowledge to defeat Tamina, and will easily do so.
So Who Wins: Tamina will fight valiantly, but there is no way the WWE brass will take the belt off of Paige as she is considered to be the Diva’s champion of the future. Paige wins in what will be filler to the co-main events of the evening.
Winner: Paige via Submission with the Ram-Paige
Match 6: Extreme Rules Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Daniel Bryan © versus Kane
Outlook: A feud that was put together three weeks ago saw the rebirth of the Big Red Machine. Kane claimed that he would be the one that would take out Bryan, thus ending his brand new title reign. Aligned with Stephanie McMahon has been a great idea for Kane. Kane, in his own right, is great on the microphone. But allowing Stephanie to speak for him, especially as how perfectly she is playing the role of a heel manager right now, has been one of the most ideal situations he could ask for. Two weeks ago, Bryan was tombstoned three times in a span of 10 minutes. Once on the floor, once on steel steps, and once on the announce table. The angle was done to write Bryan off TV for the night due to the death of his father, but in doing this, the WWE was able to resurrect Kane. For months, he had been treated as this character that was in a role of power, but was anything but. As my friend Mike termed it, “all Kane does is job now”, which was the truth. By having Kane tombstone Bryan multiple times, he was able to become a credible threat. Last night on RAW, Stephanie tried to apologize to Bryan by awarding Brie Bella (his off screen wife) a title shot against Paige. Midway through the match, Kane’s pyro went off and he came through the ring and tried to attack Brie. Bryan fought him off, but only momentarily as Kane shoved him down. Bryan would eventually hit Kane with a wrench but after 20 seconds, the Big Red Machine stood up, knocked Bryan down again, and attempted to drag Brie into the ring again. While the angle was childish at times, it makes the audience realize that Kane will do anything to tear apart Daniel Bryan. In a sense, Kane is mimicking Bray Wyatt at this time. Wyatt doesn’t care about titles or win loss records. He only cares about getting his message across. For Kane, while the Heavyweight title would be a great addition, he is more content with just causing pain to Bryan. It’s been a great way to hopefully START this feud, not just to have one match and end the feud.
So Who Wins: While putting the title on Kane could be a very credible idea, it’s way too early to end Daniel Bryan’s title run. But the question in mind, is how should he win? With this being an Extreme Rules match, finishing the match off with a weapon will easily protect Kane should he lose and provide him with enough proof that he could be in line for a rematch, even if he loses.
Winner: Daniel Bryan via pinfall after the running knee to the face
Match 7: Evolution versus The Shield
Outlook: The Shield has been one of the most dominant forces in the WWE in some time. After debuting a year and a half ago, they have been most dominant when working together as a group. They face their toughest task as a group, fighting a group that was quite possibly the most successful when it was together in Evolution. A group that features HHH is known to be successful. Having Randy Orton in the group as well is vital, considering how evil and ruthless he can be. Realigning themselves with Batista was a great move, seeing as how he can be considered to be the muscle of the group. Roman Reigns is the muscle for The Shield. Dean Ambrose is considered to be the wild card of the group, seeing as he can be calm and peaceful one minute, and then snap into being portrayed as a nutcase the next minute. Seth Rollins is the high flyer of the group. Every time he flies over the top rope, I cringe at the fact that he could be destroying his knee at any moment. After every move, though, he gets right back on his feet, electrifying the crowd at a moment’s notice. Lost in all of this, is the intensity that all six of these men can bring to a match. This is definitely not the end of this feud by far. After this match, the six will be split off into singles feuds with one another. The main feud that will get thrown out of this will be the blow off for the HHH versus Reigns match, currently projected to take place at SummerSlam.
So Who Wins: Here comes the argument: Who in this match needs the victory more in terms of a group, and who pins who. It’s obvious that in terms of momentum that this match has to be a victory for The Shield. HHH, Orton, and Batista have already established themselves as stars and losing here would do nothing but damage what The Shield has accomplished. So if the Shield is the victor, who acquires the pinfall? The choices again are plentiful and include every member. Reigns could use it as a stepping stone in his oncoming feud with HHH. Rollins could use it in an effort to make him even more over with the crowd. Ambrose could be a different story. With him fighting three people on SmackDown for the US Title, this could be a way to get the strap off him, but award him with a pinfall victory in what would be the Shield’s largest victory so far.
Winner: The Shield via pinfall (Ambrose pins Orton via the Dirty Deeds)
I am going to try something new for my next column. I am going to allow you, the reader, to leave me questions in the comment section or e-mail them to me at [email protected] . The purpose of this is to create a wrestling “mailbag” where I will answer questions from you guys. They can be serious or sarcastic, the choice is yours.