Saturday 22 October 2011

Vengeance preview

Mark Henry versus Big Show. John Cena versus Alberto Del Rio. These are matches the average wrestling fan will be physically incapable of getting excited about. They are also two of the bouts headlining WWE's Vengeance pay-per-view on Sunday. But wait, it's not as bad as it seems...
Big Show v Mark Henry isn't going to be the best match on the show. We all know that. In fact it will probably be the worst. What it has in its favour is freshness. After months of Christian v Orton and then two straight Orton v Henry confrontations on consecutive pay-pay-views it's nice to be offered something different, no matter how bad it may be. It's not a match I want to see again and again but as a one off Show works as a challenger. If WWE were tried harder to have a different challenger for every show, giving champions more varied title reigns, I’d be all for it. I think that approach would benefit Henry and the World Heavyweight championship greatly.
I’m picking Henry to retain. With the push he received over the summer I think it’s unlikely he’ll lose the title so soon.
Of course the other thing this match has going for it is this video:

You're not getting that anywhere else in wrestling.
Alberto Del Rio and John Cena will face one another for the third pay-per-view in a row. Their match at Night of Champions was forgettable but their Hell in a Cell battle a month later was an improvement (though some of the credit for that has to go to the third man in the match, CM Punk) and I'm expecting another decent entry in their feud at Vengeance. Why? Because ADR is one of WWE’s best wrestlers and Cena tends to perform better when he has shortcuts at his disposal. A Last Man Standing match will allow to use all the shortcuts he likes.
The gimmick match rules also allow WWE to have Cena lose to ADR without being pinned. It may seem counterproductive to avoid having your lead star put over an up and comer but that's WWE all over: Cena must be protected at all costs.
It's not impossible that the inevitable whacky finish to this match will involve interim RAW General Manager and Executive Vice President of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis. As you’ll read below I think WWE are setting up a clash between top babyfaces and heels for Survivor Series, with Triple H wrestling for the faces and Laurinaitis organising and or managing the heels.

Christian and Sheamus will continue what’s been a fairly underwhelming feud so far. Their matches are enjoyable thanks to the charisma of both men and the reactions they get from crowds, but they tend to consist of little more than ‘Great White’ pounding Christian on the back over and over again. Since Sheamus won at Hell in a Cell three weeks ago I’m expecting ‘Captain Charisma’ to pick up the win this time around.

Beth Phoenix will finally have a pay-per-view match against someone that isn’t Kelly Kelly. Yes, we’re finally getting Beth Phoenix v Eve Torres on pay-per-view! Natalya and Kelly Kelly are likely to be at ringside and I’m still half expecting one of the faces to turn heel on the other. Until a week or two ago I was expecting Eve to go to the dark side but Double K looked perturbed after Eve’s loss to Natalya on RAW so it’s not impossible she’ll do the turn. Would a Kelly Kelly heel turn work? It could. It would certainly be different and would provide a fresh dynamic for a number of matchups in WWE’s women’s division.

The heel turn could happen no matter who wins. Should Eve win the title Kelly could attack her in a jealous rage whereas if Beth retains Kelly could attack her pal for letting the side down. I can’t see the title being switched from ‘The Glamazon’ so quickly, I’m expecting her to retain.

One of the matches I’m most looking forward to is Randy Orton v Cody Rhodes. WWE has been trying hard to elevate Cody throughout the year while ‘The Viper’ has had one of the best years of his career in the ring. Capitalising on the errant blow Orton gave Rhodes a few weeks ago SmackDown by giving the two a full blown feud is a smart move by WWE: the two will have solid matches and Rhodes will rise up the card by rubbing shoulders with a star of ‘The Apex Predator’s’ standing.

As this is the first pay-per-view match of what I assume will be a long feud I’m expecting Orton to get the win and Cody to attack him after the match to keep the rivalry alive. Rhodes scoring the upset would be nice to see but I don’t think it will happen. They’ll save that for the higher profile Survivor Series.

On the subject of upsets: expect a big pop after Zack Ryder beats Dolph Ziggler for the United States championship. I’m assuming ‘The Heel’ will team with his tag team partner Jack Swagger to challenge Air Boom for the duos gold and lose before tangling with ‘Long Island Ice Z’. If the tag bout happens first Ryder can be booked as taking advantage of a fatigued Ziggler.

Both matches should be good. It’s a shame I have to predict two losses for Ziggler but I can’t see a way around it: being booked in two matches almost guarantees he’ll lose one and makes losing both fairly likely. Ryder deserves a chance to show what he can do though, and Ziggler will definitely put him over the right way.
The match I expect to headline the show is the tag team contest pitting Triple H and CM Punk against The Miz and R-Truth. This one is bound to give us a ton of storyline advancements, which I don’t think is a huge problem, and I think the action will be good. I like Miz and Truth as a team and I’m more interested in Triple H than I have been for about eight years thanks to his recent COO elevation (though that’s not necessarily a good thing: WWE should be building new stars rather than re-establishing old ones).

In fact the guy I’m least interested in is CM Punk, because the push that started in June and had so much potential has been massively fumbled. He’s still a good wrestler and an entertaining character but he’s not on the level he could have been by now, and I find that frustrating.

As far as winners goes I think this match could go either way. Because I’m expecting some John Laurinatis-related ringside shenanigans (probably from Kevin Nash but David Otunga isn’t that unlikely a possibility) I’m going to predict a heel win. Having Laurinaitis and his cronies involved in Triple H’s match sets up a Survivor Series clash between the companies top faces (Triple H, CM Punk, and Cena, alongside The Rock) and the GM’s inner circle (Miz, Truth, ‘Big Sexy’, and Alberto Del Rio). Should WWE want to try elevating some younger guys (which isn’t guaranteed, sadly) the Survivors bout could go from an eight to a ten man match and each team could get a mid-card wrestler added to the team.

Vengeance looks far superior to Hell in a Cell on paper and is clearly being used as a setup show for Survivor Series. If it’s entertaining and leaves us with a clear picture of what’s in store at Survivor Series then Vengeance will have done what it’s supposed to.

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