|TEXAS KELLY MAKE HIS PPV PICKS||WRITTEN: February 16, 2002|
|BEING THE BOOKERMAN
For those of you who don't know me, I am Texas Kelly, your new hero, a gracious guest at this party and the most charismatic PPV prognosticator to ever enter your bedrooms via a computer screen. I'm joking about that last part, of course, but I have gone a quite impressive 13-1 in Chris' PPV predictions contest the past two sessions (only missing the Spazz/Dudleys tag match at the Rumble). I figured that, if I keep this up everyone will want to know what my secret is, and I also take a look at Chris' little abode here on the Internet and see how lonely he is, so I'll officially make my ballot public for all to see, so that when I go 1-6 you can all laugh in my face.
UNDISPUTED WWF CHAMPIONSHIP (A TRIAD MAIN
Forgive me if I go off on too much of a rant on this one.
Let me begin by saying that The Lord God Almighty should go over here in a heartbeat and take his well-deserved titles to the showcase of the immortals. The real question is, why should he? I look at this match, and I see 2000 stamped all over its face. I'm sure you remember 2000... Triple H, the Heel Push From Hell and the feud which robbed the mark in all of us of the ultimate underdog, Mick Foley, forever. Why did Triple H get to be the one to end Foley's career? Why did he get to be the first heel to ever go over at Wrestlemania? It's quite simple, really... Vince needed to create a new star, or his promotion would have screeched right to a halt in one of its most glorious moments ever. Vince had only one bankable main eventer... the Rock. Steve Austin had been taken out of the picture in November via the hit-and-run angle, wouldn't be close to returning for months, and there was no way of knowing if, once he returned, he'd be the wrestler and presence he once was. Same deal with the Undertaker, but age had taken away his legitimacy as a champion, something that had become evident during the Greater Power fiasco. If Triple H didn't work, there would have been no great heels to play off of a WWF champion Rock (and sorry, but Angle and Benoit wouldn't have worked since they hadn't had enough time to develop as characters and threats) and the WWF main-event picture would've been a proverbial dead duck for months on end.
Now, fast-forward to the present time. It's the same problem... no main-event legitimate heels. To those who point to Angle & Undertaker, sorry... Undertaker still hasn't truly been accepted as a heel and has the insurmountable age problem, and Angle, while an effective heel, would not be an effective champion. His first run as champion was reminiscent of the Honky Tonk Man's Intercontinental title run, with numerous screwjob finishes, non-title jobs, and an overall lack of a feeling of legitimacy. When he held the title for two weeks in September & October, the WWF's treatment of him, which included a main-event challenge by Shane McMahon of all people, only worsened that image. The bottom line is that Angle can't be the fall-back superstar the WWF needs, especially if he goes on leave next year to prepare for the Olympics in Athens, without being properly built-up again. To those to who look at the NWO, don't make me laugh. It's the same problem with Undertaker magnified about a billion times, for all three guys. Austin's coming off a great eight-month run, but the "What?" syndrome has turned him face again, and at this point, there's no turning back. Plus, Austin is at the point where age could start catching up to him any minute, like Undertaker. Ditto (on the heel/face factor) for Triple H, who played a main event heel for the better part of two years, and who the sheep want to cheer. Turning him would be counterproductive for business because most casual fans would not like it. Then there's Rock, the uber-face, who's shown he can be a great heel if given the ball, but the WWF has balked many times at a heel turn for him, even when the fans have shown willingness to turn on him (such as during the Austin feud where Austin ended up turning, and in the early stages of the Jericho feud) and if the Scorpion King becomes a hit, Rock will never be an effective long-term champion again since he'll be in so much demand by the Hollywood bigwigs.
This establishes the fact that Vince, like in 2000, once again needs a main-event heel superstar. Enter Chris Jericho. For the past two months, and for the better of his tenure in WCW, he's shown that he's more than apt to play the part if given the opportunity to do so. There are already lingering issues with Triple H, his projected Wrestlemania opponent, that if properly played up, would give the feud the kick in the ass it needs and give it that MONEY feel. Plus, if Triple H does the right thing for business, and puts Jericho over at Wrestlemania in front of Jericho's countrymen, Vince would have the star he needs. Vince would have the bankable champion for when Austin ages past legitimacy and if Rock forgoes wrestling for acting. It also opens the doors for champions-in-waiting like Angle and Benoit, and it gives the fans something new & interesting to see - and fans will always fork over more in the end for fresh, interesting stuff than old, interesting stuff. The question is, is Vince smart enough to see this? For now, and with the rest of the Triad Main Event positioned the way it is, I think so.
MY PICK: Chris Jericho (c)
NUMBER ONE CONTENDERSHIP (A TRIAD MAIN
I had my thumb all cocked and loaded on this one before RAW Monday night. Then the WWF went and resolved the Stephanie pregnancy angle in the least desireable way (evil bitch Stephanie lies about being pregnant to get her way) and screwed my call on this match up. With Vince & Stephanie clearly having made nice (and it took about three months - exactly as I predicted the night after Survivor Series) it's probable that Triple H is about to become the NWO's Public Enemy #1. But then, Stephanie got herself inserted into the special guest referee slot for this matchup, and the scales got tilted just a little too far. With the probable NWO run-in hanging over our heads, this had some intrigue, but now that Steph the Evil NWO Referee is on the job, there's too much pointing Angle's way. The WM main event pretty much must be H'er Boy v. Jericho, if not for the reasons I've already stated above, then because if the WWF goes the dumb route and plans another four-way, it's only going to allow the NWO to overshadow the title that much more, and that's not good for business. Plus, Vince is in a situation where he can't deny the sheep the chance to see what they want.
By the way, I should probably explain why I was disappointed with the resolution to the pregnancy angle. I'm a huge sucker for two things when it comes to angles: the use of them to build up as many characters as possible, and continuity in them. My preference for the resolution to this angle would have been to discover that Stephanie was legitly pregnant, but by Jericho. This way, not only do you finally end the marriage angle and build up Triple H as a face even more, but you also build up Jericho as the ever-vilified heel that the WWF needs, and it would've given the HHH/Jericho WM main event the "must-see" feel it's lacking right now. Plus, you would have had that continuity with the way the whole marriage began.
But there's almost no point in me wasting my breath.
MY PICK: Triple H
GOOD OLD-FASHIONED GRUDGE MATCH (A TRIAD
MAIN EVENT MATCH)
I'm disappointed. Really, truly disappointed. I wanted this matchup, but I wanted it at Wrestlemania, not here, so that Rocky would get to end Undertaker's winning streak at the big show and finally get rid of his Wrestlemania choker label. Alas, that is not to be, sadly. The good news is, the WWF has started to get something going in terms of Undertaker's heel run. He'd been languishing forever, continuing to get face pops despite quashing Rob Van Dam for the Hardcore title and destroying the smallest people he could find in chase of respect. Then they had Maven first eliminate UT from the Rumble and then beat him for the Hardcore title with Rock's help, and they at last were on to something. Preventing Rocky from getting another shot at Jericho in the mini-number-one contender tournament helped too. "The Crow" then proceeded to tombstone Rocky directly into his week off via the top of a limo, and that's *hopefully* going to have both Rocky and the crowd pissed on Sunday. That may be the true gauge for the heel turn.
NWO interference is planned for both here and the main event (though I wouldn't be surprised to see it in the Triple H match either), tilting the scales even more in Undertaker's favor. But, take Rocky's week off via tombstone and his recent PPV failures - aside from the title win over Booker T in the Unforgiven handicap match, and eliminating Booker, Angle and Austin at the Brawl for It All at Survivor Series, Rocky has jobbed in three consecutive singles matches, all to Jericho - and it equals a Rock win. Besides, Jericho has to win in the main, and I can't see the NWO being successful with both attempts at interference, if they do go with the intended plan.
MY PICK: The Rock
DRUGS, DEVIANTS, & DISNEY MOVIES
A bit of a reminder on how this one came about... Goldust made his return at the Royal Rumble, didn't even live to see the Undertaker go on his early rampage, then started cutting these weird promos about this "rising star" that he was going to supersede and shatter the dreams of. The fools that we all were assumed he was talking about Hollywood Boy Rocky, and we were all fools for thinking Vince would actually place an old has-been like Goldust in a prime feud with a top WWF draw. So instead, they sic Mr. Runnels on Mr. Potato Head, who actually has heat and is a good draw, but the WWF refuses to admit that's true and they'd rather make it their way than admit it. Sigh.
You probably get the sense that I'm looking forward to this one like a male praying mantis looks forward to mating, so I'll just cut to the chase. Goldust is going over, and here's why: ince has to prove to both himself and the creative team that Goldy was worth retaining after the Royal Rumble one-shot deal. That means getting Goldust some semblance of over, and a decent match with Robbie with him winning might go a little bit longer in doing that than we all think. Right now all this angle is doing is killing Robbie's heat faster than the XFL's viewership turned it off, and has a Fun Brothers/Kronik feel to it. I think Vince is more inclined to try harder with Goldy than Adams and Clarke, however.
MY PICK: Goldust
BRASS KNUCKLES ON A POLE MATCH, WWF
Several months ago, after Edge beat Test at Survivor Series to win the Intercontinental title for the 500th time, I predicted that Regal would be his next feud, and it would be an extended one at that. I turned out to be right, but after all of this brass knuckles nonsense, I wish I wasn't. The issue was intriguing at first, but now Regal's schtick has killed this feud deader than four-month old American cheese. I almost wish that Regal had beaten him at Vengeance, so that Edge could have ended it at Royal Rumble in this exact match that they're finally making, but I'm digressing. Stay focused, man.
Either way you cut it, Regal is probably winning this. There is basically two schools of thought on this match: the "Edge is above the Intercontinental belt level" school and the "We're going to blow this off at Wrestlemania" school. Knowing the WWF, they're probably leaning towards the latter, with the minute possibility of an Edge & Christian reunion as a face tag team (which would rock, and you better agree) but either way, that means Regal keeps the belt. He's the one who needs it in order to stay over, really. With the NWO coming back, Edge could interrupt one of their boring 20-minute spiels and cut one of those blistering shoot promos he's famous for and recoup the heat he's lost from this feud in no time.
MY PICK: William Regal (c)
WWF TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
I'm almost to the point that I'm ready to give up on Booker T. Eric Sclesweiski is right, Booker desperately needs a face turn or he will imminently be totally worthless to the WWF. What would you say about a guy who needs Test's help to beat Tazz, of all people, and then jobs to Spike Dudley a couple of days afterwards? Go on, go ahead and say it.
If it was any team besides the Pint-Sized Powers of Pain we were talking about here, I'd say that Booker & Test goes over in a heartbeat, pretty much squashing the champions on the way. However, it still appears (to me at least) that the plan is still to give Robert Smigel's cronies the tag belts next, and personally, I'd rather see Booker be a job boy for Spike and Tazz than for Billy & Chucky, because at the very least he's be giving the rub to the two guys who actually deserve it. After this past week though, it better be Test looking at the lights come Sunday night.
MY PICK: Spike Dudley & Tazz (c)
TAG TEAM TURMOIL! (I.E. "WE HAVE NO
F*****G IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH THESE GUYS")
The last time they did one of these, it was at Judgment Day last year, and it was fairly obvious Jericho & Benoit would go over and go on to beat Austin & Triple H for the tag titles the following night. Conversely, this time it's pretty much a toss-up, although I cannot see any of the face teams (Acolytes, Hardys, Scotty/Albert) winning this because they're not the ones with extended issues and face time going into this. Billy & Chucky have been the proverbial next-in-line for a while now; then we have the Dudleys and their issues with the Pint-Sized Powers of Pain; and finally, we have Lance Storm & Christian, two of the most under-utilized, under-rated and under-appreciated wrestlers on the roster. Plus, with Christian throwing temper tantrums left and right, there's never a dull moment.
This is the only match on the card I'm not sure at all of, so don't hold me accountable to this one. I don't think Storm and Christian will win, because I think the WWF wants to keep their "sore losers who can't win" schtick going, so I'll take a leap of faith and pray that Vince has gotten the message about Billy & Chuck. Besides, if the tag team title match turns out as I'm expecting, the resulting matchup for Wrestlemania is the most sensible one we'd get.
MY PICK: The Dudley Boyz
I look back at Fully Loaded 2000, which had a triple main event featuring Old Blood v. New Blood (Rock/Benoit, HHH/Jericho, Undertaker/Angle), and an undercard which no one really remembers. (C'mon, try and name an undercard match from that show off the top of your head...) This show pretty much stacks up the same way, with Austin/Jericho, Angle/HHH, and Undertaker/Rock at the top and a significant dropoff in quality afterwards. The difference between the show is that here, we have the big "pop the buyrate" gimmick in the return of the NWO. Does that make the show an absolute must-see? Not really, but it does make it intriguing, especially if they're swerving us with that talk of Rock/Austin interference and we see Hogan, Hall & Nash pop up in other places. I wouldn't be too surprised to see Hall & Nash pop up as last minute entrants into Tag Team Turmoil myself (and Chris, I'm letting you know right now... if that happens and they win, DON'T COUNT THE TURMOIL).
Until the next show... keep watching and keep your axes sharp.
(Note to self: Come up with something better than a Casey Kasem soundbite for the endline next column...)