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Well, there have been some new developments in the Nigel McGuinness case.  I’m speaking as though it’s a trial, but it really shouldn’t deserve this much interest.  WWE says that Nigel failed a prescreening procedure.  Supposedly, WWE decided not to sign Nigel after they found out about his torn biceps and concussions he suffered while working in ROH.  Nigel is continuing to say that WWE was slow in getting an offer to him, and that he had a clean bill of health according to two doctors.  What really went on I’m sure we (the public) will never truly know.  I still think that both parties are going to lose out overall.  WWE is losing a tremendous talent, and Nigel is going to end up losing a ton of money and health benefits by not signing with the larger company.  But he doesn’t have to work as many days per year, and he’s getting national television exposure as opposed to a limited market that ROH’s TV deal had.  Plus, he’s starting his TNA career by beating the crap out of Kurt Angle, and that’s always a plus in my book.

Next, a quick update on Jim Ross.  If you haven’t heard, he won’t be calling Bragging Rights on Sunday.  And there is no timeline for his return.  This leaves a huge hole on Smackdown.  I thought that JR and Todd Grisham were beginning to gel very well as a team.  Now, with JR gone for the forseeable future, what does WWE do?  The one thing I hope they don’t do is keep bringing Cole and Lawler onto Smackdown.  There’s a reason you split the brands in the first place, Vince.  It was to give each show its own personality, its own flavor.  By putting the Raw announcers on Smackdown, you’re giving Raw an unfair advantage, at least as far as Bragging Rights is concerned.  I’m really, really hoping that Vince does the smart thing and puts Matt Striker on the Smackdown team for the duration, as he’s by far the most competent and entertaining announcer on any brand (besides JR, of course).  And with Striker, you wouldn’t have to have Cole and Lawler have to work two TV tapings every week.  Striker’s already at the Smackdown tapings.  Why not have him do both ECW and Smackdown?  It’s a great setup.  And besides, Striker and Grisham worked together for a while on ECW.  They had great chemistry.  It’s a perfect fit.  The only other smart decision Vince could make in regards to this is to bring back JBL to work Smackdown with Grisham.  That would truly be glorious.  I’m sure many IWC stalwarts would agree with me that that might be the most entertaining duo since JBL and Cole.  But knowing Vince’s hatred of ECW, he’ll make Striker wallow on Tuesday nights and probably put a three-man team together for the PPV.  It’ll likely be Cole, Lawler, and Grisham, and that’s it.  Which is a shame, since I think that Striker or JBL could provide untold amounts of awesome into that mix.  But we’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out.

And speaking of which, it’s time for Bragging Rights picks!

Raw vs. Smackdown Six Divas Match – Melina (c), Gail Kim, and Kelly Kelly vs. Michelle McCool (c), Beth Phoenix, and Natalya

Honestly, these are about the best possible teams from each brand you could have made.  The Raw Divas are all very talented and fun to watch, and the Smackdown Divas are excellent workers.  I’m not expecting much out of it, though, as it is a women’s match (no offense to any women reading this).  Vince doesn’t give them a chance to really shine.  Anyway, you’ve got to figure that the final Raw vs. Smackdown tally will be 2 to 1 in somebody’s favor.  Picking who wins will not be terribly easy, especially with the changes to Team Smackdown last night.  I’m going to say that the Raw Divas get the victory and give Team Raw a leg up on the competition.

Champion vs. Champion – John Morrison vs. The Miz

I’ve really been wanting to see this match ever since these two split up six months ago.  Both of these guys have been built really strongly the past couple of months, and it makes picking this match very difficult.  I’ll admit I completely marked out when Marty Jannetty ran down to the ring to face Miz last Monday night, but I knew he wasn’t going to win.  Still, it was nice to see him back.  I don’t expect him to wrestle again, though.  Anyway, I would love to see a long-term feud between these two guys, as I believe they both have the goods to have a long program.  I wonder if they have a great match tomorrow if they will, in fact, get a real feud on down the line somewhere.  Anyway, since I picked the Raw Divas to win their match, I kind of have to go with John Morrison to win this match.  I think he has more momentum and more potential.  He’s a main event star waiting to happen, and this win could boost him up to the upper echelon of Smackdown.  Miz will be a great mid-carder for a while, and could very well move up to the main event, but I think he needs a bit more polish than Morrison does before moving up the ladder.  Though Morrison’s finisher still needs work, as it’s far too unpredictable.  But now I’m getting into a different argument altogether.  Time to stay on track.

Raw vs. Smackdown Bragging Rights 14 Man Tag Team Match – Team Raw (HHH, Shawn Michaels, Cody Rhodes, Mark Henry, The Big Show, Hack Swagger, and Kofi Kingston) vs. Team Smackdown (Chris Jericho, Kane, Matt Hardy, R-Truth, Finlay, Tyson Kidd, and David Hart Smith)

There are reports that, upon seeing the two teams facing off on Raw this past Monday night, Vince McMahon thought Team Smackdown looked weaker.  I think I speak for everybody else when I say, “A-DUUUUUH!”  Cryme Tyme was fine, Ziggler was great, but putting two rookies on the team made Smackdown’s chances pretty well nil.  Drew McIntyre and Eric Escobar are nowhere near ready for the spotlight to be placed on them, Escobar in particular.  These two need a minimum of six months before they’re even considered to be on a PPV show.  And I’m certainly not the person to consult about fitness, but Escobar looks awfully out-of-shape for a guy who’s getting as big of a push as he’s receiving, what with having Vickie Guerrero as his valet/manager/plaything/what have you.  Anyway, with this new team, Smackdown actually has a chance.  What did seem odd was during the celebration that followed the match, Kidd and Smith were awfully chummy with the rest of the guys.  Is this a possible face turn for the guys, or were their endorphins just still flowing with the knowledge that they’ll finally get onto a PPV?  Either way, Team Smackdown is now filled with talented vets who deserve a PPV slot a hell of a lot more than rookies like Escobar and McIntyre.  Though I still think that MVP should have gotten a spot on Team Raw over Swagger.  I swear, the Hornswoggle curse just destroys careers left and right.  Anyway, this should be concentrated chaos at its best, with DX taking on JeriKane (oh, yeah, I went and said it), Henry and Show doing what they do best, and some great team moves from the Hart Dynasty.  I’d love to see Kofi and R-Truth go at it in a battle of flippy-do styles.  So who wins?  That’s a tough call.  Both teams have guys who can really benefit from a big win like this, and both teams have a legitimate chance to win.  I think it all boils down to the veterans.  Smackdown has five, Raw has four.  I’m betting either Rhodes, Swagger, or Kingston will end up costing Raw the victory somehow.  So I’m going to say that Team Smackdown wins and takes home the Bragging Rights.

And then we’ve got our two championship matches.  (Side note: I’m still unhappy that ECW doesn’t even get a title match for the second straight PPV show.  These guys are your future.  Why are you denying them a chance to see what it feels like to go live?)

World Heavyweight Championship Fatal Four Way Match – The Undertaker (c) vs. CM Punk vs. Batista vs. Rey Mysterio

The seeds for a Batista heel turn were planted last week on Smackdown.  Not last night, mind you, but in his match with Mysterio.  He looks like he’s over it, but I’m betting he isn’t.  I don’t expect him to turn on Sunday, but I’m betting it’ll happen.

I’d also like to take the time to write about what I think are going to be the plans for Undertaker leading up to Wrestlemania.  I have this strange feeling that Vince McMahon’s TV character is going to want to try to prevent Taker from winning at Wrestlemania 26.  It just feels like the next five months are going to be Vince trying to destroy Taker, then put him in a match in Arizona against somebody where the odds seem entirely insurmountable.  This whole screwjob angle, and the return match last night all scream that Vince is up to something dastardly.  I really hope that Taker bucks the odds and manages to foil McMahon’s likely plans anyway, because if Taker loses at Wrestlemania, I’ll stop watching WWE programming altogether.  (I’d also like to mention that I’ve trolled the Wrestleview forums, and some people are talking about Taker’s match at Wrestlemania 26 in Arizona and how he’s returning to Death Valley.  Please, do your homework; Death Valley is in Southern California, not Arizona.  Don’t be an idiot.)

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, how do I pick this match?  If Punk wins, it’s as though Taker’s title reign never happened.  Note to Vince McMahon and WWE Creative: Just because you have a PPV every three weeks doesn’t mean you HAVE to have a title change every show.  You should have title matches every PPV, just don’t have them change hands every time.  It tarnishes what little reputation the titles have left if anyone can walk in and win the title three weeks after somebody else just won it.  It makes all of your champions look weak.  Okay, sorry about that mini-rant.  It just needs to be said.  Anyway, you can basically cut Mysterio out of the World Title picture entirely.  He just returned from a drug suspension not a month ago, and now he’s in a World Title match?  It doesn’t make any sense.  Anyway, he’ll probably be fodder for Punk.  And I can’t honestly believe that Batista will ever hold a title again.  He’s far too injury-prone to hold a title for very long.  His forst World Title reign will likely be his most prestigous and strongest.  So it comes down to Taker and Punk.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept this feud going all the way to WM 26.  They can play off of each other quite well.  Actually, now that I think about it, none of these four really need another World Title reign.  We need some new faces in the main event scene, on both Raw and Smackdown.  Just for the sake of picking someone, I’ll say The Undertaker retains his title, and lives to fight another day.

WWE Championship “Anything Goes” Iron Man Match – Randy Orton (c) vs. John Cena

Cena’s already said goodbye to Raw.  So this match feels like a formality at best.  This is terribly unfortunate for one big reason: if Cena does, in fact, end up losing, then I would feel like the entire point of this epic match was moot.  We’re basically having an hour of our lives wasted on a result that was quite obvious well before the match even took place.  And if Cena somehow manages to win, what does Orton do?  It’s been stated that if Cena wins, Orton won’t get another title shot as long as Cena is the champion, so if Cena holds the title for more than a month, is Orton going to move?  I don’t know.  I wish WWE’s writing wasn’t so chaotic and weird all the time.  What they really should have done was have Cena beat HHH last Monday so it looks like he’s still got a strong chance to pull off the victory against Orton on Sunday instead of having him lose and look like he’s never coming back to Raw.  It makes the entire Iron Man Match seem pointless.  Why not just have Cena move straight to Smackdown and partake in the World Title match?  I don’t like the booking here, obviously.  Anyway, I’ll go with logic here and say Randy Orton wins and retains his title.  Unless Dibiase comes out and decides to go ahead and forget what he did last Monday night.  Yeesh.  Even if this is a great match, it all feels so pointless.  I’m not sure I can watch it.  Well, I probably will, but unless it’s REALLY good, I likely won’t enjoy it much.  Which is a shame.  I still think they should have saved this match for Survivor Series.

And there you have it.  Picks for Bragging Rights.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go check my mail.  Besides, I’ve written over 2,200 words so far.  I think it’s high time I stop writing.  I’ll be back in a couple of days with Bragging Rights results and other various items, I’m sure.  See you then!

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