March 28, 2003
Countdown to WrestleMania XIX
Showcase of the immortals? The granddaddy of them all? This year you wouldn't know it. With very little mainstream pomp and circumstance, WrestleMania XIX weekend is upon us. And what would a WrestleMania weekend be without SLAM! Wrestling's resident know-it-alls passing along their picks for Sunday's big show? This time out in honour of the WrestleMania "rap-off" we welcome DAN-E-O of the hip hop crew Monolith to our panel.
Triple H versus Booker T.
Doesn't it seem like HHH has been champ for like 20 years? Enough of this guy already. He's just a "Nature Boy" clone...and not a very good one at that. To put it plainly, he needs to go on an extended vacation. For the last few years almost every BIG THING in the federation has revolved around him due to the political influence he has. HHH is just another example of someone's selfish needs coming before the good of the WWE as a whole. Traditional wrestling logic dictates that the arrogant must fall and fall hard in the end. Therefore, I assume this feud is going to go a little bit like this...Triple H suffers an embarrassing loss...Booker's dream comes true...mucho footage of Booker crying and hugging the belt a la Shawn Michaels...Triple H will call it a "fluke" and swindle the belt back at BackLash. Oh yeah, and Goldust will show up just so he can grievously insult and demean those who suffer with Tourette's Syndrome. Talk about low.
The time is right for Booker T to go over. But will the backstage politics of Triple H win out? I'll go with Booker T, but this is a feud that is just starting and Booker T will start lining up allies to battle Triple H's cronies.
I said goddamn! If the five-time, five-time, etc. champ doesn't win the belt, I'm never watching Raw again. Will the real Triple H please stand up? You know, the won who would do what's right for the business and drop a title every now and again for more than a month. Oh wait, it isn't about the bizness anymore but the "entertainment." But we are not entertained. Admit it, you're sick of H3's death-grip on the title; it's boring; it's overdone; and H3 is also way more "entertaining" being a heel chasing the title than a heel with the title, although it's good to see Flair every week. Apparently H3's mommy never taught him to share, as it's his title (mine!) and no one is allowed to even look at it (go rent Spinal Tap for that reference). Still, H3 is one of the best in the ring that the WWF has and going up against Booker, well, it'll be good, maybe even excellent if given the time to develop and tell the story properly. But what'll make it great is if they're smart enough to have a ton of false-finishes, lots of Flair interference (and maybe the horribly-titled Evolution showing up) and finally have Booker overcome all the odds to be the one-time WWE champ. I don't know if Hunter has learned to share yet, but bank on the Book.
Booker T is definitely the guy that everyone will be pulling for in this one. More than anything, I think the front office questions whether or not he can be a top guy that draws. But if he does win, it opens up a new avenue with the World Heavyweight Title with fresh storylines. In the end, I think Triple H wins and begins to feud with Steve Austin.
WWF logic states that the last person to go over on TV loses. In this case, however, that logic isn't needed, because Triple H won't drop the title to anyone who he feels is "beneath" him. The only possibility that can save this match from being a snoozefest is that the whole Goldust thing being an elaborate act, and have him take out Booker T (hitting him with a chair by "accident" because of the twitching), setting up what could be a good feud later on. Regardless, "Haitch" gets the duke.
As nice as it would be to finally see HHH hand over the belt to a face, it's probably not going to happen here. I want to see Booker T win, but let's not kid ourselves here... Hunter's manipulation of things behind closed doors prevents anyone from getting a decent run with the belt. For the good of wrestling itself, this self-destructive behaviour by HHH, McMahon (Vince and/or Stephanie) along with the writers and yes-men has to stop!
Although it doesn't seem likely the HHH will EVER relinquish the title, I think this has got to be the match that he does...for now anyways. Why else have all of this hype over Booker's troubled life, overcoming adversity, yadda, yadda, yadda...if he wasn't going to FINALLY accomplish something as great as being World Champion at WrestleMania? It's almost reminiscent of Shawn Michaels achieving his "boyhood dream" by winning the title from Bret Hart at WrestleMania. As well, if HHH doesn't lose the title this Sunday at WrestleMania, then when is he going to lose it, and to whom? The WWE needs a "fresh" champ -- I can't remember them doing this since Lesnar. Let's hope Book makes it 6 times! PREDICTION: Booker T
Lesnar versus Angle
Angle may be cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs but I understand where he is coming from. If the surgery doesn't turn out how everyone hopes it does, this could be his last chance at a last match and that's why he didn't want to sit out this WrestleMania. Wrestling matches are pretty much controlled environments so all this concern of Angle possibly being messed up for life or worse is just crappola. The big shocker here could be the beginning of the end of Team Angle. On screw up on their part costs Kurt the belt, they turn on him and before you know it...Kurt's a babyface again as he and Lesnar beat the crap out of the two star-spangled replicas.
No question that Lesnar is going over. The question is how long the match will take, and who else will be involved. I think they'll bring Angle's brother out again and use the opportunity to elevate him to the main team.
Having won a gold medal with a broken neck, it's no surprise that Angle is gutting out a legit injury to work this match. Although the fact that Angle is slated for surgery and will apparently need substantial time off to recover should make a Brock a shoe-in, but because it's so expected look for Angle to possibly hold on to the belt until maybe the next Smackdown. After all, he was supposed to drop the title pre-Wrestlemania and didn't (thanks, Eric). And what's up with the WWE having two titles? Is it me or is this the stupidest thing ever? Here's a tip: have the damn unification bout and get on with it already. Match-wise, this should be good, as there's no doubting Angle's considerably skills (to quote the often-missed Steve Corino: "The W stands for Wresting!") and Brock can go, despite the Goldberg routine. Don't be surprised if Brock does win it, but with Angle gutting it out, you never know.
I believe this will be an incredible match that will surpass most people's expectations since Angle is injured and has to be careful. Angle knows that this will be his last match for a long time and will really tear it up. Lesnar is the hungry lion and will gear it up here and regain the WWE Title.
It could have been so good...This match should still hit the *** mark, but you have to be worried about Angle in this one. Once less than perfectly executed move and he could be done. Everyone and their grandmother is going in "knowing" Brock is going over. What could conceivably happen, however, is Angle pulling out a miraculous win after getting beat down to a putty-like state, then pulling a roll-up out of nowhere to win a la Hart/Diesel. Brock could then turn heel, have the belt awarded to him on Smackdown!, then go in as a heel against Benoit. Still, the more obvious scenario is Brock winning, so I'll go with that.
Angle's injury is unfortunate and one would hope that he's smart enough to step away from the action after this and rehab that neck. These two guys are going to put on a solid match and it's a great way for Angle to drop the belt while continuing to look like a million bucks (as he always seems to do).
Man, it's unfortunate that this match will likely not be one of the all time WrestleMania classics that it has the potential to be, simply because of Kurt's injury. Then again, with a talent like Kurt Angle, he may just pull out his usual five-star performance after all. Nevertheless, with Angleis impending surgery, it's hard to believe he'll come away with the title this Sunday. Look for Brock to win his belt back, hopefully cleanly, if they really want to prove he's "The Next Big Thing". What could prove it better that beating an Olympic gold medallist fair and square? It's true. PREDICTION: Brock Lesnar
McMahon versus Hogan
It must be nice to be the boss and make yourself the top heel of your own wrestling promotion. As he always does, McMahon has taken that one step further by promoting his WrestleMania feud over everyone else's. I can only imagine what the talent must be thinking and saying behind his back. This whole feud with Hogan just proves how out of touch McMahon has been for the last ten or so years and how his steady stream of miscalculations have cost the company dearly. Who wins or loses this one? Who even cares? Nobody, that's who. I got the perfect idea. Let's do another brand split. You heard me. Another brand split. We'll put all the McMahons in one federation that they can run into the ground. There, problem solved.
I have no idea what to expect here. The match is a one-off. McMahon going over doesn't make sense, as he's supposed to be the heel. Hogan going over is meaningless too, because where does he go from here? Unless he announces his retirement after the match, of course. That would be the right thing to do. I'll take the Hulkster.
Call it one for the aged, as two seniors battle it out for made-up reasons. I don't know why Vince is so pissed, as he kicked Hogan out of the WWF (yes, F!), but if it worked with Stonecold it'll work with Hogan, and to be honest, despite what will no doubt be a horrendous match (street fight), it's hard not to be the least bit excited about this angle. Granted, it should have been built up way more, and Hogan has looked rather weak (and old) throughout, but there's a real history (despite Vince's revisions) here that will make it something special in retrospect, if not in the match itself. With the stipulation of retiring on the line, bet on Hogan to win after overcoming a mountain of cheating and probably the dreaded OI (outside interference), although retirement hasn't really ever stopped anyone from returning (hello, Terry Funk!). Still, it's almost impossible not to want Hogan to turn this into a shoot and beat the crap out of McMahon for all of McMahon's wrestling sins and revisionist history.
This match has been billed as "20 Years in the Making" but it still does not seem anywhere near that big. Despite both of them not being top ring workers, this match could have had much more meaning and used better to bring in a mainstream audience. Even though you won't see a classic wrestling match, there is still some interest in this one considering who is involved. There is no way that Hogan would ever lay down for the boss and he shouldn't. Boot, leg drop, 1-2-3...brother!
I remember watching McMahon/Flair at the Royal Rumble last year, and my girlfriend remarked that she didn't understand why someone would want to watch two fifty year-olds wrestle. Well, one year later we have the same scenario, and as much as I had wanted to see this match a few years ago, now it's just looking terrible. Hogan is more than broken down, McMahon has not been a great performer, and the added "no DQ" or whatever it is stipulation isn't going to change much. Hogan may pick up the win, but everyone who watches this match will be the losers.
Let's think about this rationally... Hulk is going over. He deserves it, too. Sure, he only wrestles sporadically but even if you claim to hate him, you're secretly marking out every time he's in a big match. Let's hope this marks the last time we see Junior as a wrestler, too!
Hulk Hogan is the reason I'm a wrestling fan. I grew up watching him on TV every weekend. I had his toys, watched his cartoon, bought his shirts and even put his name in my rhymes (Re: "Can't Test Me" circa 1991). Hulkamania lives today for a reason -- and it ain't dying this Sunday at WrestleMania. "Street Fight" or not, I can't see Vince, the guy who used to hold the mic for Hogan's interviews, toppling my hero. HULK STILL RULES! PREDICTION: Hulk Hogan
Rock versus Austin
Now that my guitar's in tune, come and join me for an evening with Pow-Pow. Here's a little ditty to get your feet a tappin' Willie Nelson style. "It's WrestleMania time again. Just can't wait for WrestleMania time again. Two bald guys are going to get it on in the ring. Neither of them can sing. And I just can't wait for WrestleMania time again. WrestleMania time again. Austin and The Rock are squaring off again. Haven't we seen this all before? We all know what's in store. What a big bore. I just can't wait for WrestleMania time again. WrestleMania time again. Just can't wait for WrestleMania time again. The Rock only wrestles when there's a film in the can. Austin's about to be confronted by "Da Man". I just can't wait for WrestleMania time again." Austin wins via Goldberg?
Hmm, as Yogi Berra would say, it's deja vu all over again. It doesn't hurt The Rock to lose yet again at 'Mania to Austin. So take Stone Cold, but only after being beaten up a lot.
The Rock versus Austin at Wrestlemania, seems like an institution, and with Austin claiming that this could be the last time the Rock and Austin are ever in the same ring together, this could be the sleeper of the card. In fact, I'm not sure I have an expectations going in to this, and the WWF did a better job building the Michaels/Y2J match than they did this, but the more I think about it, the more I think it'll be good. With both returning from hiatus (Austin for telling Vince to stick it and Rock from off becoming the poor man's Vin Diesel), injuries shouldn't play a factor, but ring-rust will, however both should be eager to show that they still have it, even if Austin's best matches are many years removed. The smart money says Rock (and his new tattoo, which is pretty stylin') will win with interference, but Stone Cold didn't come back just to put people over (that's why he left), so his Rocky undefeated Wrestlemania streak may continue, but don't count on it.
Been there, done that. This is the match where Goldberg could get involved if he was to do anything on the show. I see the Rattlesnake going over since he will be there while The Rock is getting ready to film another movie. Make it 3-0 for Austin vs. Rock at Mania.
For some more scenario fun, let's insert Goldberg into the equation. This can go one of two ways. 1. Austin's just about to beat Rocky again when there's a ref bump. Austin hits the stunner and covers Rock, when Goldberg comes in the ring. Austin goes to check on the ref, and as he turns around Goldberg spears him. A jackhammer later, Rock rolls Austin over for the 1-2-3. There's your feud that will go all the way until Summerslam. 2. Austin gets the pin on Rock, goes to celebrate with the ringpost poses, but before you know it, Rock is back up and takes Austin out. After a ton of beating, Goldberg emerges from the crowd, takes out Rock and helps Austin to his feet. There's your feud and main event for Backlash. This one's too close to call, but I'll go with scenario #1, only because I like the idea of Austin/Goldberg more than Rock/Goldberg. Rock wins finally.
*Yawn* Oh, is it time for the third installment of a patched-together feud that nobody really seems to care about anymore? Yup, it sure is...Seriously, this can be a good match but it needed more of a buildup in the classic style we're used to seeing these guys deliver. Ooooohhh... Austin smashed the Rock's guitar and caused him to lose to the Hurricane. Wake me up when it starts to actually get interesting. Both of these guys are better than the materials the writers gave them to work with this time. Let's hope we don't see Goldberg come in and that The Hamburglar gets a little more time in the spotlight. Ummmm... give it to Rocky.
I'm gonna be different with this one. The way I see it, Rock is and has been for quite some time, the most entertaining character in WWE today. Case and point -- "The Rock Concert" = priceless! Logic dictates that with The Rock leaving to do another movie soon after Mania, there's no reason for him to win. However, I say this is the WrestleMania that Rock FINALLY gets his win over Austin. It, in all likelihood won't be nor should it be clean, but the Great One doesn't deserve to go 0-3 to Austin at Mania. I don't think losing is going to really hurt Stone Cold any way. Hell, walking out on the WWE and being off of TV for nine months didn't hurt Stone Cold. I say chalk up one for the People's Champion. PREDICTION: The Rock
Jericho versus HBK
I doubt anything will be settled after this one. Expect another match...maybe inside a steel cage at BackLash. Probably the best match of the night and like all the rest of the top tier WrestleMania matches, I would think the face is going to win this one but he will probably pay the price setting up another encounter between the two.
Wouldn't it be great to have a time machine, and have the real Shawn Michaels back? Then this would be an interesting match. As it is, it'll be fun because of Jericho. I think Michaels will lay down for Jericho after a hard-fought, but relatively short battle.
Jericho, just because he is the new showstopper.
This, to me, is the most intriguing match on the card and should be a classic. I can easily see both of them going over since Shawn is the guy who turns it up a notch for WrestleMania while Jericho is trying to use him as a springboard back to the world title. The fans will be the big winners after watching this one but I'll go with Jericho getting his hand raised.
This will be the top main event and should get **** at least. Jericho will be working to match Shawn move for move, including the moonsault press, flying elbow etc. Shawn will do all of Jericho's moves to prove how equal they truly are. This one's going to be a tight match, and should be a Match of the Year candidate. I'd almost prefer to see a draw here (time limit?) than one going over the other, because this feud has a lot of life left. Here's to the tie.
Out of the top five matches for this show, this is the one I really want to see. Both of these guys are incredible, but it's time for Michaels to pass the torch. Bet on this approaching the ***** level. I don't think I need to say anymore about this.
This one appears to be one of the easier ones to predict. Although this should have been done years ago to really have a significant impact, HBK will "pass the torch" to Y2J this Sunday. Then again, Hogan "passed the torch" in his own sort of way last year to The Rock and he's waaaaay past his prime. And that match was entertaining as hell, right?. So, I expect the same from Michaels and Jericho this Sunday. HBK's SummerSlam performance proves he can still come to play for the big events of the year. No reason he should win though. PREDICTION: Chris Jericho
Matt Hardy versus Rey Mysterio
John Powell : Rey Jr.
Greg Oliver : Mysterio
Chris Gramlich : Matt Hardy, version kicking your ass!!! What's up now, Jeff!?
Brian Fritz : Rey Mysterio
Jon Waldman : Rey Jr. with an assist from Kendrick.
Stephen Laroche : Mysterio
DAN-E-O : Rey Mysterio
Los Guerreros versus Benoit, Rhyno versus Team Angle
John Powell : Team Angle.
Greg Oliver : Los Guerreros
Chris Gramlich : Eddie and Chavo, because winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.
Brian Fritz : Los Guerreros
Jon Waldman : Team Angle.
Stephen Laroche : Los Guerreros.
DAN-E-O : Los Guerreros
The Undertaker, Nathan Jones versus Big Show, A-Train.
John Powell : Big Show, A-Train.
Greg Oliver : The Undertaker, Nathan Jones
Chris Gramlich : Big Show/A-Train, with a Jones heel change.
Brian Fritz : The Undertaker and Nathan Jones
Jon Waldman : Show/Train after Nathan Jones turns on Undertaker.
Stephen Laroche : Neither... this may be the worst WrestleMania match ever.
DAN-E-O : Taker and Jones
Kane, RVD Vs Lance Storm, Chief Morley.
John Powell : Kane, RVD.
Greg Oliver : Kane, RVD
Brian Fritz : Kane and RVD
Jon Waldman : Kane/RVD.
Stephen Laroche : Kane/RVD.
DAN-E-O : Lance Storm, Chief Morley
Victoria Vs Jazz Vs Trish Stratus.
John Powell : Trish Stratus.
Greg Oliver : Trish Stratus
Chris Gramlich : Victoria, because she's so crazy and my weakness for psycho women knows no bounds.
Brian Fritz : Jazzs
Jon Waldman : Jazz.
Stephen Laroche : Trish Stratus.
DAN-E-O : Jazz