I've been a fan of pro wrestling fan since I was about eight years old, during the times it was cool to be and when it was not. I remember the first pay-per-view event I ever watched was the World Wrestling Federation's Survivor Series show on Thanksgiving night in 1990. My dad ordered it and watched it with me and my little sister. The Undertaker made his first appearance and I got to see my favorite wrestler, "Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich, get pinned by Mr. Perfect. About a year and a half later, I got suspended from third grade for fighting and my parents stopped letting me watch wrestling (but I still did anyways on a tiny TV with a screen about six inches squared in my walk-in closet; sorry, Mom and Dad).
After a few years off, I started watching wrestling again in junior high with my buddies during the height of the "Monday Night Wars" between the WWF and World Championship Wrestling. Me and my boys in the "Newton World Order" (we lived in Newton, Massachusetts and were awesome) would watch Raw (or Nitro) every Monday and go to live events. We dressed up as the Right to Censor for a Smackdown taping. We even ad our own Newton South Hardcore title, a toy WWF belt we bought and then could win from one another via pinfall at any time, 24/7 (this led to brawls in the cafeteria, me pinning my buddy Alex on the hood of his mom's car, and many more similar incidents).
In college, the WWF bought WCW and wrestling became a lot less cool, but I'd still head over to my buddy Jay's apartment off campus to watch Raw (and mostly make fun of it). I also started writing for 411mania and later Inside Pulse, which actually, eventually, led me to my job at Wizard which led me to my job at Marvel--so thanks, wrestling!
Today, I still DVR wrestling and watch it on the weekends when Megan is doing something else. Maybe it's my comfort food, I dunno. Regardless, I can't really foresee a day that I'm not a wrestling fan.
So today on my blog (that I share with two other people who don't know/care about a wristlock from a wristwatch), we're gonna talk wrestling. Specifically, we (meaning me) are gonna talk about my picks for tomorrow's WWE Armageddon show...
John Cena (c) vs Chris Jericho for the World Championship
I'm a big Cena fan because he's a hard worker, has crazy charisma, is from the Boston area and is, by all indications, a legit good guy outside of the ring (I hope that Matt Damon will star in a biopic about his life in the near future). However, he's just dull as dishwater as World champion. I know from a business standpoint it makes sense for WWE to keep him on top because he sells a shit ton of merchandise and does good ratings, but the period this summer when he wasn't in the title picture and was just feuding with JBL was the most interesting he's been since 2005. In a perfect world, Chris Jericho (who I'm also a huge fan of) would get the strap back here and they'd build to the title vs career match he and Shawn Michaels should main event Wrestlemania XV with. Unfortunately, that awesome feud has lost too much steam with Michaels being more or less inconsequential the last couple months and I'm afraid that despite his having completely reinvented himself as the best pure heel in the business, this will be the closest Jericho gets to the title for the near future. On the bright side, these two always have great matches together.
Winner: John Cena
Triple Threat Match: Edge (c) vs Triple H vs Jeff Hardy for the WWE Championship
Winner isn't hard to call here as Edge seems earmaked as the heel who will carry a World title into Wrestlemania and lose it to whoever is going to be Smackdown's top babyface of 2009; the question is: who will that be? The fans have spoken and they want it to be Jeff Hardy. An Edge-Hardy title match at 'Mania would be awesome and Jeff winning the big belt would be the kind of feel good moment WWE fans have not had enough of in recent years. On the flipside, Triple H is still eliciting a decent reaction, but his act as a babyface has gotten stale. He needs to turn heel again, which is where he does his best work. Unfortunately, given Jeff's "personal demons," no matter how much they want it and the people want it, WWE may never commit to pulling the trigger with him. Regardless, the loser of this match will be more telling than the winner: whoever gets pinned is probably headed to the big show while the guy not involved in the fall will get a lame duck title shot next month at the Royal Rumble (I'd also like to see some sort of rationale behind the Edge-Vickie Guerrero reconciliation, but I'm not gonna hold my breath).
Batista vs Randy Orton
Speaking of guys with stale acts in need of a heel turn (or just...something), I give you Batista. Back in 2005, this guy was the absolute coolest mofo in the business, and I was right there with everybody else hanging off his every word or action, but somewhere along the way from there to here, the luster wore off. He's actually putting on better matches these days than he has in awhile, but as a character, he's going through the motions. On the other hand, Randy Orton has been totally reinvigorated since coming back from injury and aside from Jeff Hardy may be the most over guy in WWE (because whether the reaction is positive or negative, if it's loud, you're over). As to the match quality, these guys know each other well enough in the ring and have enough complementary intensity and movesets that it should be servicable at worst, something special at best. I'd look for Orton to win under screwy circumstances involving his second gen buddies to earn him a shot at Cena next month, and Batista to get frustrated in preparation for a heel (or at least tweener) turn so he and Cena can main event Wrestlemania.
Winner: Randy Orton
C.M. Punk vs Rey Mysterio (Winner gets an Intercontinental title shot)
First off, very cool that they're taking the time to build up the importance of the IC title with this tournament; it doesn't bother me that the week after they will go back to D-Lo Brown getting a shot after not having been on TV for months, the credibility boost will hopefully outlast that. I'm actually pretty pumped for this match (not enough that I would actually order this or any pay-per-view other than the Royal Rumble, but I am pumped to see it on WWE 24/7 in a few months) because it's rare these days that Rey Mysterio really gets a chance to showcase his skills. Years of risks and injuries have really reduced Rey's in-ring work dramatically, but to compound that, he's usually in there with guys much bigger than him who he can't get any (realistic) offense in on. Punk is a perfect opponent for him since, besides being damn skilled himself, he can get let Rey toss him around a bit without the match losing credibility. It's cool to see two guys who are ostensibly cruiserweights able to wrestle each other for stakes this high (and cool to see two former World champs going at it for a shot at the IC belt, which really elevates it). Rey seems headed into a feud with Mike Knox while current IC champ William Regal has already shown an interest in Punk, so the smart money here would be on Punk (but you never know).
Winner: C.M. Punk
Matt Hardy vs Vladimir Kozlov
Matt's ECW title isn't on the line here, but Kozlov's undefeated streak is, so that pretty much forecasts the result. I almost feel bad for big Vlad, as he's got the right look, the right demeanor and the right work ethic to be a monster heel, but there's something about him that's just bland. Oh well. I'm actually looking forward to seeing Matt defend his belt against the rapidly improving Jack Swagger, so hopefully this doesn't kick off a prolonged feud.
Winner: Vladimir Kozlov
Belfast Brawl: Finlay vs Mark Henry
Really can't be bothered to care, as despite both guys working hard and fitting nicely into their respective grooves on ECW lately, this match just doesn't seem like it matters. It seems like they're setting up (of all things) a face turn for Tony Atlas, so I'm guessing he'll inadvertently cost Henry the match here.
Santa's Little Helper Match: Michelle McCool, Mickie James, Maria & Kelly Kelly vs Victoria, Natalya, Maryse & Jillian
An excuse to get the girls on the card and make my boss, former WWE.com Head of Divas Operatons John Cerilli, happy. Michelle and Maria are kinda feuding, so they'll probably butt heads and screw things up for their team.
Winners: The team on the right (our right, not their right)