Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: December 2009

Before I start off this (hopefully) annual tradition, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has been reading this little blog over the past nine months.  I started this blog with the intent of writing simply for my own entertainment, and that anyone who read this as well was a bonus.  My first article was picks for Wrestlemania 25.  Not a bad time to begin.  Now, it’s nearly nine months later, and I’ve written 68 entries, spanning many topics.  And I haven’t even scratched the surface.  This coming year, I hope to start to get this blog some more attention, maybe get a little more site traffic going.  So if you like what you read, feel free to post links to this site anywhere you want, so long as the hits I get are mostly from fellow wrestling fans.  Again, I thank everyone who’s read this blog up to this point.  I’m hoping to continue entertaining you in 2010.

Okay, now let’s get started with the First Annual Golden Rantie Awards, sponsored by Sprint.  Not the phone company, but the running term.  Ahem.  This is going to be a rather long post, as I have many varied awards to give out, so sit back, relax, and enjoy!  Remember, pretty much all of these awards are directed towards WWE.  I’m slowly branching out into indies and international wrestling, so bear with me as I’ll be discussing those more over the next year or more.

Our first award of the year is the not-so-coveted Swagger Tactics Awards, named in honor of current WWE wrestler, Jack Swagger.  I’ve explained Swagger Tactics before on several occasions, but for those who don’t feel like slogging through the archive, here’s a quick rundown: Swagger Tactics is the mentality that a (usually) young (usually heel) wrestler has where his control segment is absolute, allowing no chance for the face to build up some damage to the heel so that when the face makes his comeback, it seems somewhat more realistic, since both competitors have been worn down.  Those who engage in Swagger Tactics will essentially dominate their opponent from the opening bell until the face’s comeback, and it makes them look incredibly weak when they do so.  Jack Swagger was the first younger wrestler to really use this mentality for every match, and since his debut, there have been quite a few to follow in his footsteps.  So, here is a list of those who will receive Swagger Tactics awards for the past year’s work:

Jack Swagger (obviously), Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, Ted Dibiase, The Miz, Ezekiel Jackson, and Maryse

Congratulations!  You all need serious work on your in-ring psychology!  Get to it!

The Wrestler Most In Need of a Face or Heel Turn goes to…Finlay! Yes, the Fighting Irishman has turned into the Irish Doormat of Smackdown.  Ever since he turned face and adopted Hornswoggle’s entrance theme, Finlay was doomed.  Sure, probably no one thought of him as world champ material, but a lot of people like him, both casual fans and IWC geeks.  Finlay deserves to go back to the place that got him a US Title run, and that’s by turning heel and just beating the piss out of everyone.

The Most Overrated Wrestler Award for 2009…Batista! Yeah, I know, everyone in the IWC has had this opinion for a while, and so have I.  But it bears repeating that Dave Batista is just not a good performer, either in the ring or on the mic.  I’m glad he’s retiring soon.  More chances for more deserving men on Smackdown.

The Most Underrated Wrestler Award for 2009 goes to…Primo! Holy crap, PRIMO won an award?  Yes, he did.  I honestly believe that Primo is one of the more talented individuals on Raw, and with even a slight push towards something, he can really shine.  Sadly, ever since he and Carlito lost the Tag Titles, Primo has been stuck in jobber status, and probably will be for the rest of his career.  Honorable mention goes to JTG for his continued excellent work as part of Cryme Tyme.  I still think that if they broke that team up, JTG would thrive in singles competition.  He’s got the talent, he just needs the push.  Which is probably never going to happen.

The Most Improved Wrestler of 2009 is…Dolph Ziggler! After a stint in the Spirit Squad back in 2006 (damnit, I thought I’d blocked those memories forever!) and a failed run on Raw, Ziggler moved to Smackdown, where he quickly moved right into the mid-card, challenging the likes of MVP and Rey Mysterio for the US and Intercontinental Championships, respectively.  Unfortunately, his push has dwindled significantly, and with Drew McIntyre as IC Champ, Ziggler’s been overlooked.  But he certainly has shown a ton of progress in the ring.  I applaud that.  Honorable Mention goes to Kofi Kingston.

The “You Retired Because You Lost to WHO?” Award goes to Tommy Dreamer! Yes, there was scuttlebut about Dreamer leaving WWE for a few weeks prior, but did he really have to lose his last match to Zack Ryder?  I don’t HATE Ryder, but there are about a thousand other guys who deserve the title of “The Man Who Retired Tommy Dreamer.”  If Dreamer would have been up to it, I would have booked him to win against Ryder on ECW this past week, have him challenge Christian for the ECW Title next week in a Title vs. Career Match, and have Christian retain in a crazy back-and-forth super-awesome match.  At least losing to the ECW Champion and retiring thereafter would mean something.  Instead, Dreamer goes out with a whimper after a “men” match with Ryder.  Unfortunate.

The Best Face Turn of 2009 Award goes to…Mark Henry! Sure, his push basically vanished as soon as it appeared, but for that one night, when he was drafted to Raw and proceeded to destroy then-WWE Champion Randy Orton, it was the greatest moment of his career and one of the most memorable moments of 2009.  Everyone in the IWC suddenly believed that Henry was finally going to show us the talent that we had been expecting of him the last ten years but never got.  And Henry showed us that he can hold an entire audience in the palm of his hand.  His in-ring push, however, is gone, and he’s basically doing nothing now, which is a shame.  Honorable mention goes to John Morrison and (potentially) to Edge.

The Best Heel Turn of 2009 Award goes to…CM Punk! Could this award really have gone to anybody else?  Punk went from a huge babyface and one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWE to one of the most hated and reviled men in the business with his self-righteousness and his banishing Jeff Hardy from WWE for good.  Punk can get a little preachy now and then, but that’s how his character works, and it never ceases to make the crowd hate him even more.  Props to him.

The Most Disappointing Wrestler of 2009 Award goes to…MVP! I’m sorry.  I love the guy and think that, had he been properly pushed, he would be a world champion by now.  MVP, on his first night on Raw after the Draft, called out Randy Orton and stood up to him the way no one had in a while.  He lost the US Title to Kofi, and then basically dropped to mid-card status, finally starting up a tag team with another guy who got a major moment but no push followed: Mark Henry.  I thought that if anyone could take the titles away from Jericho and Show, it would be these two.  But the couldn’t, and so now they’ve gone their seperate ways.  MVP said that 2010 would be his year, but after being squashed by Sheamus, I have my doubts.  I wish he would get the push he deserves, but I don’t count on WWE Creative to do anything intelligent in the future.

The Best “Rocket to Fame” Moment of 2009 Award goes to…Kofi Kingston destroying Randy Orton’s brand new NASCAR! Before this moment, Kofi Kingston was nearly on the verge of crossing over into the main event.  He had run in during Orton’s match with Cena and chased away Legacy, taking away any advantage Orton might have had.  Orton responds by tossing Kofi off the entrance ramp.  Kofi responds by destroying a car that Cody and Ted had just bought and customized for Randy.  He keyed the side, took a crowbar to the hood and windshield, and finished it all off with a nice new paint job.  Kofi took that next step.  Orton was extremely helpful in getting Kofi to the next level, with his crazy reactions.  Kofi delivered an excellent promo, all while destroying what must have been a very expensive car.  Definitely one of the defining moments of 2009.

The Best Finishing Maneuver Award goes to…Evan Bourne’s Air Bourne! What, were you expecting something else?  It’s the prettiest move anyone uses, and Bourne hits it with increcible precision every time.  If we were basing this on name alone, then Mix would win with his Skull-Crushing Finale.  But Bourne’s finisher is a hell of a lot awesomer.

The Worst Finishing Maneuver Award goes to…Tyler Reks’ Springboard Dropkick! He won matches with this move!  It’s something Rey Mysterio uses in nearly every match!  It’s nothing special AT ALL.  I’m glad Reks is off TV.  He was awful when he was on the air.

The Most Deserving Champion of 2009 Award goes to…Christian! Four years away and two NWA World Championship reigns later, apparently Vince finally thinks Christian is world champ material.  So he sticks Captain Charisma on ECW, has him feud with Jack Swagger, and finally gives the fans what they want.  Christian lost the title to Tommy Dreamer (who’s an honorable mention in this category), but soon won it back, and is the longest reigning male champion in the company.  Well-deserved.  Once he drops the title, he should move on to bigger and better things.

The Least Deserving Champion of 2009 Award goes to…Sheamus! I just explained all the reasons he shouldn’t be a champion in my last article.  Go check it out.

The Hulk Hogan “Biggest Douche in the Industry” Award goes to…Hulk Hogan! Hogan’s going to bleed TNA dry, and all because he squandered the money he made from Vince for all those years.  He doesn’t deserve to be on television anymore.  Go get a job at Pizza Hut.

Okay, we’re getting down to the last few awards, the big ones.  These ones are getting a bit better explanation as to why they were chosen.

The Best Tag Team of 2009 Award goes to…Chris Jericho and The Big Show! Sure, they’re broken up now, but for nearly six months these two were unbeatable.  It took an act of Vince and a TLC match to take the titles away from them.  Jericho was the irritating mouthpiece, and Show punched people to death.  It was awesome.  It brought some legitimacy back to the lackluster tag division, and it helped revive Show’s career.  These two were gold together, and it’s unfortunate that they’re (in all likelihood) going to go their separate ways come next Monday night.

The “Oh My GOD!” Moment of 2009 Award goes to…Jeff Hardy’s Swanton Bomb off a huge ladder onto CM Punk! I’m sure a lot of you have written Hardy off completely, but you have to give the man credit.  He had one hell of a year.  Amazing matches with Edge and what I would consider the Feud of the Year with CM Punk.  These two were polar opposites outside the ring, but they used that to their advantage and put on some great matches.  Their TLC match at Summerslam was the saving grace of an otherwise awful PPV.  And Hardy’s dive onto a prone Punk from the top of a 15 foot ladder onto the announce table was one I will not soon forget.  Say what you will about Hardy’s personal life, but he gave all he had inside that ring, and he has my respect for that.

The Worst Rookie of 2009 Award goes to…Sheamus! Congrats to the pasty Irishman for winning two “Worst of…” titles this year!  Go back to FCW and stop sucking ass.

The Rookie of the Year Award goes to…Tyson Kidd AND Yoshi Tatsu! I honestly couldn’t decide between these two.  Kidd has shown an incredible amount of discipline and poise in the ring that belies his age.  The last graduate of the Hart Family Dungeon deserves praise.  He has a very high in-ring IQ and could very well be the total package if allowed to talk once in a while.  He’ll go far with Harry Smith and Nattie Neidhart, but he may very well end up as the next Bret Hart.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if The Hitman himself endorses these two as the tag team of the future.  Kidd has all the talent already.  He just needs that one little push and the sky is the limit for him.

Tatsu is also a recipient of this award because he is, by far and away, the most over rookie on WWE programming.  He’s managed to stay afloat on an ECW roster rife with young, talented wrestlers, all of whom want a shot at Christian.  But Tatsu is one of the only people this year to actually HAVE a title match with Christian this year, and those two pulled out all the stops.  Tatsu showed that he’s got the in-ring talent to run with the big boys, and his personality is so affable that people can’t help but love him.  He’s almost there.  He just needs a bit of a push, and he will be a champion soon.  Look for him to make a big impact in the ECW Homecoming battle royal.

The Match of the Year Award goes to…The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, Wrestlemania 25! There is no way that any match WWE put on could have had a snowball’s chance in hell of topping this match.  This should have been the main event of an admittedly lackluster WM25 (especially that clusterfuck snoozefest known as HHH/Orton).  Words simply cannot describe how amazing this match was.  Two consummate professionals doing what they do best: enteratin the fans.  Taker and HBK fought tooth and nail for nearly a half hour, and had the audience on the edges of their seats the whole time.  Taker’s botched suidice dive near the beginning of the match is probably #2 in the “Oh My GOD” moments of the year.  For a minute, I bet everyone watching was wondering if Taker had broken his neck and would never wrestle again.  But he (and we) were lucky that he wasn’t critically injured during that spot.  We were then treated to an epic encounter that won’t be soon forgotten.  All up-and-coming wrestlers should watch this match to truly understand how in-ring psychology works.  Everyone who received a Swagger Tactics award should watch this match about a thousand times.  Maybe then they’ll learn how to work a match.  I wouldn’t recommend purchasing the Wrestlemania 25 DVD if this match wasn’t on it.  I probably wouldn’t buy it anyway, but if you at least want to rent the DVD, watch this match last.  You will be happy you did.

Honorable mention goes to John Cena vs. Randy Orton in a 60 minute Iron Man Match at Bragging Rights.  While not quite as amazing as Taker/HBK, this match had everything you could ask for in a match.  Hell, it was three or four matches in one.  And you can never go wrong with an Iron Man Match.  Cena and Orton brought everything to the table, and left nothing behind.  A classic match.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…Wrestler of the Year!

Sadly, I couldn’t just pick one person to cover the entire year.  So I’ve broken it down into three parts: I’m giving one award to the best wrestler of the first half of 2009, one to the best wrestler of the second half of 2009, and one for best overall wrestler of 2009.

The Best Wrestler for the First Half of 2009 is…Jeff Hardy! Again, I don’t care what your personal beliefs are about Jeff Hardy, but you honestly have to give him credit for having an incredible first half of the year.  Hardy pulled out all the stops and proved that he should be a main eventer.  He had two world title reigns (three if you count the carryover from his win at Armageddon 2008) and probably sold more merchandise than anyone on the roster.  Jeff Hardy was the best performer on WWE programming for over six months before he left.  A lot of IWC smarks don’t like Hardy because they think he’s “sloppy.”  Yet I’m sure these are the same people who love Sabu, the King of Sloppy Ringwork.  Whatever.  Jeff Hardy laid his body on the line every time he wrestled, and while his personal life may have caught up with him after his departure from WWE, he was an inspiration for most of 2009.

The Best Wrestler for the Second Half of 2009 is…John Cena! I was going to put CM Punk in this position, but after realizing that Punk only really had about three or four months out of the year that were really good, I had to put Cena in this spot.  Why?  Simple: he had some great matches and really turned on the “aggressive” switch for most of the last six months.  His submission match with Orton at Breaking Point, their Iron Man match at Bragging Rights, and his halfway decent match with Sheamus at TLC are three of the main reasons why Cena deserves this award.  I don’t think he should have dropped the title to Sheamus, but that’s another article or six.  The fact of the matter is that Cena took everything into another gear for the second half of the year, and he gave us some really great matches.  Where 2010 leads for him is entirely unknown.  Except for his match with Taker at Wrestlemania 26.  But that’s four months along.

And The Award for Wrestler of the Year goes to…Chris Jericho! One year ago, I wrote a scathing diatribe as a tryout to become a columnist for Wrestleview.com.  I did not receive that opportunity, which is why I created this blog and have written 68 columns devoted to this hobby of mine.  So I must thank Jericho for his work in 2008 for making me hate him so much.  I called him a washed-up has-been who isn’t willing to take bumps anymore just so he could wrestle a little while longer.  Now I see him as the most consistent wrestler in the WWE.  His verbosity and penchant for insulting the crowd and his fellow wrestlers has gotten him into some very high-profile feuds   Admittedly, the year started off weakly for Jericho, as he was put into a feud with several legends of the past in Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, Ricky Steamboat, and Ric Flair.  This whole angle was created to help promote The Wrestler, and Mickey Rourke made an appearance at Wrestlemania 25, knocking out Jericho with one punch.  It was not the best of moments for Jericho.  But he pulled out one hell of a performance from Ricky Steamboat, who showed that even some men still have it well into their fifties while others *COUGH*Hogan*COUGH* do not.

After that debacle, Jericho went on a tear on Smackdown, and had one of the best feuds of the year with Rey Mysterio.  Jericho became obsessed with Mysterio and his mask, asking why Rey needed to hide his face from all his fans.  These two had some truly impressive matches, including a great match at The Bash (which I was lucky enough to attend).  After Jericho lost the IC Title to Mysterio, he formed what could have been the tag team of the year with Edge, and they won the Unified Tag Team Championships that same evening.  But nothing is certain, and Edge went down with an injury, which led to Jericho finding a more-than-suitable replacement in The Big Show.  These two tore through Raw and Smackdown for nearly six months, destroying any and all who stood in their way.  All the while, Jericho continued to berate both the fans and many of the wrestlers in back, and it was always fun to hear what new words he’s picked out of the dictionary that week.  They blasted through Cryme Tyme, MVP and Mark Henry, and Rey and Batista, and looked to be unstoppable.  That is, until Bragging Rights messed everything up.  Show betrayed Team Raw in order to get a shot at Taker’s World Heavyweight Championship, and the cracks began to form in the perfect tag team.  But they soldiered on for a couple of months, until the merch machine known as DX took them off the rails and took the Tag Team Championships away from them.

So, let’s look at what Jericho has done over the past twelve months.  He’s won the Intercontinental Championship multiple times.  He brought a legend back into the fold, if only for two matches.  He had an incredible feud with Rey Mysterio.  He dominated the tag division for six months.  He became the best heat magnet in the company (behind Vickie Guerrero, of course).  And he did it all without hurting himself or anyone else.  Now those are some true accomplishments.  A year ago, I said Jericho was done.  This year, he’s just getting started.  Chris Jericho is your Wrestler of the Year!

And now that I’ve been working on this column on and off for the last five hours, I think it’s about time I give it a rest.  I hope you’ve had as much fun reading this 3600 word column as I’ve had writing it.  I will see you all next year.  Until then, stay awesome.

I’ve discussed these topics before (at length, even), but I feel that, with the year almost over and my bag of topics dwindled to nearly nothing, I felt it was best to rehash two major issues with WWE.

First, their Pay-Per-View schedule.  I’ve discussed this at least once, a few months back, about how having 14 PPV events every year tends to diminish their importance and impact.  Especially from around August to November of this year, there was a PPV every three weeks for that entire span, and it made them feel like nothing special.  With only three weeks of build between major shows, you’re lessening any chance that a feud might have to build between those dates.  Which oftentimes results in many of the matches meaning nearly nothing, as the feud, instead of having a blowoff or a rubber match, just plods along as the weeks go by, and the stipulations grow ever more ludicrous.  You’re short-changing the fans in two serious ways here: first, by not giving a feud the proper build it deserves, you’re essentially telling the fans that pay for the shows that this match that was just set up two weeks ago is not going to be the end of this feud by a longshot; in fact, it’s probably just the beginning of a two, three, or even four PPV feud which will only pay off at the fourth show.  So, at least to me, this means that the first match of this feud is basically meaningless, as are most first matches of a feud.  Secondly, with 14 PPV shows each year, you’re making the hardcore fan pay even more money to watch a product they love while the economy is still in the shitter.  Now, I don’t know the cost of a WWE PPV outside of the United States, but here, it’s (I believe) $55 per show.  Multiply that by 14 shows, and you’ve got $770 a year just to keep up with a product that in all honesty shouldn’t cost half that to keep up with it.  This is going to cause fewer people to purchase the PPV, which is going to cause your profit margins to slim, which is going to cause you to raise the price of each show, and the cycle will continue.  I know it’s a completely hypothetical situation, but if it happens, you heard it here first.

Now, what to do with this situation?  Simple: have fewer PPVs each year and have them all at set times during the year.  Have a consistent number of weeks between each show so as to (a) give at least a good bit more build for feuds and (b) make sure people know exactly when these major shows are going to occur.  Here, I’ll even plan it out for you right now.  I’ve already thought it through, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

We start with the Royal Rumble on the last Sunday in January.  We then have four weeks of build, then Elimination Chamber at the end of February.  Then, because the next show is Wrestlemania, we have five weeks of build and have it in the first week of April.  Four weeks of build, Backlash on the first Sunday in May.  Four weeks, Extreme Rules first Sunday in June.  Four weeks of build, The Bash first week in July (fits perfectly with Independence Day).  Now we get FIVE weeks of build because of one of the Big Four, Summerslam, which happens in the second week of August.  Four weeks, and we get Night of Champions in the middle of September.  Four more weeks and it’s Breaking Point in mid-October.  Then it’s FIVE weeks till Survivor Series in the third week of November.  And we finish off with four weeks of build until TLC on the Third Sunday of December.  Then five weeks of build and we’re back to the Rumble.

Two shows had to go, and I tossed out Hell in a Cell and Bragging Rights.  Why?  Well, Hell in a Cell should not be used more than once or twice a year, to keep its aura of violence at peak levels.  Basing an entire PPV around it and having three matches inside it makes it just like any other stipulation match.  And I removed Bragging Rights because it’s a pointless event.  Has the Bragging Rights trophy been shown since the following week on Smackdown?  Nope.  In fact, the only time it’s been mentioned since then is when Teddy Long said something about it in passing this past Friday night.  And the exclusion of ECW was a big mistake in the first place.  If you really want to figure out which brand is superior, you’ve got to give all three brands a chance to win it.  A lot of people have said that ECW is basically a glorified Heat.  That’s what Superstars is for.  ECW has got the most entertaining group of wrestlers on WWE programming, and they’re tearing up the TV sets every Tuesday night.  So what if they’ve only got a one-hour timeslot?  They’re just as entertaining as the other shows.  Give them a shot at brand supremacy.  But it’s likely that the trophy and the bragging rights won’t be brought up again until next year, so what’s the point of having the show in the first place if everyone’s going to forget about it until three weeks before the show happens each year?  Bragging Rights is out.

So there you have it: my perfect WWE PPV schedule.  Now, if only they’d hire me as a consultant…

Okay, let’s get to the next topic at hand.  I’ve been very critical of WWE’s decision to put the WWE Championship on Sheamus from the moment I found out about it.  I even went so far as to say that this was the biggest mistake Creative has made since putting the World Heavyweight Championship on The Great Khali.  I’d like to revise that to “the biggest mistake Creative has made since putting the ECW Championship on Jack Swagger.”  I think putting the title on Swagger was a bigger mistake than putting the WWE Title on Sheamus for one simple reason: having a new face winning the biggest title in the company generated a hell of a lot more buzz and controversy than Swagger could ever hope to create.  I’m not saying that putting the WWE Title on Sheamus was a GOOD idea.  I still think that it was a horrible idea to give him a title reign less than six months after debuting on national television.  But I have accepted that he’s not very talented in the ring.  It isn’t like Vince has never done this before, putting a major title on a guy with a limited moveset and little charisma *COUGH*Batista*COUGH*.  But what really gets me is that there are so many other guys Vince could have put the title on where the shock value of him winning the title from John Cena would be so much higher than Sheamus winning.  Case in point: Evan Bourne.  You put him in a tables match with John Cena, and Bourne walks away with the title, people are going to go batshit crazy.  Casual fans will be interested to see who this new, young guy is who just beat the face of WWE, Internet smarks will have their conquering hero, proclaiming that “Vince finally listened to us!” and will sing praises of Bourne’s courageous performance and how deserving he is of a title reign, and Vince will sit back, smile, and rake in the cash.  I’m not even putting in-ring ability into consideration (though Bourne IS leagues ahead of Sheamus).  But if I did, I think that Bourne would be an incredibly fun underdog champion.  First off, he’s much smaller then Sheamus, so he can work with pretty much anybody with no problems.  Second, he’s an incredibly good seller, and is probably one of the best faces as far as comebacks are concerned.  He honed his craft in the indies for many years, and has refined his style in FCW, and even though he’s a lower mid-card guy, he’s one of the most entertaining guys on Raw.  And, much like Rey Mysterio, people will tune in to see if he’s able to keep the title week in and week out thanks to the underdog principle.  You put him up against some 300-pound bo-hemoth, and everyone wants to know if he can hold on to the title.  You get just as many viewers as you would when you’ve got a heel champion and people tune in to see if he loses the title, and you get the IWC’s approval.  I know Vince couldn’t give two shits about the IWC, but I’m betting a lot of the wrestlers do.  If I was a wrestler and searched the web for articles about me, and found that over half of the people writing about my title reign thought it was a joke and an insult to their intelligence, I sure as hell would lose some self-esteem.  Yes, the Internet is a wretched hive of scum and villany and a breeding ground for contempt and unnecessary anger, but there are some people with sanity left out there, and if they hate you, it’s gotta sting.

I think I got a bit off-topic there.  My point is this: if Vince wanted to rile up the fans and put some new faces in the title scene, he could have done a hell of a lot better than Sheamus.  And remember, I’m not even taking in-ring ability into account.

Okay, that’s it for me.  I’ll likely do my First Annual Golden Rantie Awards column on Wednesday or Thursday, since nothing important ever happens on Superstars.  Until then, stay awesome.  Especially you, Miz.  See you next time.

I’m betting that a lot of people are disgusted or offended at the title of this article.  Maybe you know someone who is HIV positive, or you think that calling someone “The HIV of Wrestling” is an insult that nobody deserves.  Well, if Hulk Hogan is the cancer of wrestling (so said by The King of All Italy, Mike Siciliano), Hornswoggle is the HIV of wrestling.

I’ve said it before how he manages to take a wrestler with talent and potential and basically destroy his career.  He’s done it to every person he’s affiliated himself with over the past three years.  First it was Finlay, who was on a rise after winning the US Title.  With the leprechaun, he became a child-friendly face with no punch and most of his reputation gone.  Before Hornswoggle, Finlay was a force to be reckoned with.  He was brutal, to the point where you would hope that anybody going into a match with him would just turn around and run away.  With the inclusion of the leprechaun, his credibility went out the window.  He always had to protect the little guy from all those nasty heels who would use him as a shield when faced with the shillelagh.  Pretty soon, Finlay adopted Hornswoggle entrance music, and became this happy-go-lucky Irishman who did a little jig with kids from the audience after winning a match.  Finlay’s edge was gone, and so, too, was any chance of another championship of ANY kind.  Now he’s a gatekeeper on Smackdown, putting over younger guys with half the talent he has.  Sure, Finlay’s in his fifties, but I firmly believe that had Hornswoggle not become a major part of Finlay’s persona, he (Finlay) might have gone on to the upper mid card or even sniffed the main event scene.  Sadly, this will never happen, and I, for one, am very disappointed.

And then he won the Cruiserweight Championship.  What little credibility the title had (and any reason to keep the smaller guys in anything but a jobbing role) went the way of the dodo.  What an embarassing moment for WWE.  Worse than putting the WWE Title on Sheamus!  He held the title for a pointless two months before it (the title, unfortunately) was phased out.  This, to me, sent a message to every smaller guy employed by WWE: We don’t give a shit about you and you’ll never be as successful as the 280 pound behemoths with an eighth as much talent as you.  After that debacle came the illegitimate son of Vince McMahon angle, which went on for far too long.  Let’s just forget that ever happened.

Then, earlier this year, the disease began to spread.  Its next victim: Goldust.  Now, we all know that Dustin Runnels, aka Goldust, was never going to be a world champion in WWE.  The gimmick was just too weird.  But when he got himself involved with Hornswoggle, it ended up burning him in the long run.  Goldust was taken from Raw and moved to ECW, where he made a bit of a comeback and actually got a pretty decent cult following before being paired up with Sheamus.  Meanwhile, Hornswoggle had moved on to his next target: The World’s Strongest Man.

Now, I’m sure that a few of you remember Mark Henry’s first night on Raw after the 15-superstar trade engineered by Donald Trump (full kayfabe mode right there, folks).  Then-champion Randy Orton was put in a Gauntlet match against three unknown opponents.  The first was Evan Bourne, who fought valiantly, but lost because he’s a smaller guy.  Then came Jack THHHHHwagger, who just got himself counted out.  Then came Henry.  He appeared to follow Swagger’s lead, but grabbed the ref’s arm as the count was being made.  He shook his head, smiled, got in the ring, and destroyed Orton.  Never had Mark Henry gotten a reaction like he did that night.  He went from middling heel that nobody cared about (and probably a lot of people hated) to a main event face in one night.  Then what happened?  Hornswoggle got in trouble, and Henry bailed him out.  Goldust was gone to ECW, so the little bastard needed somebody to protect him.  And who better to protect him than the World’s Strongest Man?  Mark Henry started wearing red tights (making him look like the world’s largest misshapen tomato) and having tag matches with the leprechaun.  It took Henry’s credibility away, and now he’s wrestling tag matches that mean nothing in the long run.  Much like his tag partner, MVP, Henry made a huge impact his first night on Raw, rather coincidentally both against Randy Orton.  But, for some reason that I have yet to figure out, neither of them actually ended up delivering on that impact.  Henry’s wrestling six man matches, and MVP just got squashed by Sheamus last night on Raw in an utterly pathetic match.

But was Hornswoggle done?  Of course not.  During the course of the last three years, he’s also ruined what little careers Jamie Noble, Chavo Guerrero, and Brian Kendrick had in WWE.  One thing I will never forgive Creative for is giving Hornswoggle more wins in 2009 than Evan Bourne.  And just last night, the HIV of professional wrestling that is Hornswoggle infected two more men.  DX has been forever marked by the little bastard.  The collective star power of HHH and Shawn Michaels might be able to stave off ruin for a while, seeing as how they’re DX and all, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if they ended up like everyone else.  I’d bet that DX is going to lose the tag titles very soon to the Hart Dynasty, either by Chris Jericho’s hand or Hornswoggle’s accidental interference, and someone’s going to turn heel.  I’m betting it’s HHH, so we can get a HHH/HBK match at Wrestlemania 26, to go along with Cena/Taker and (I still hope not) Hart/McMahon.  What I’d like to know is why Vince didn’t try to schedule this for Wrestlemania 25.  25 is a hell of a lot bigger an anniversary than 26.  I guess Vince is just trying to spite Hogan after all the shit Hogan spat about McMahon over the past few months.

TANGENT!

Regarding the changes to the WWE intro: I think it was a little callous of McMahon to take out the Mick Foley segment of the video intro before every TV show.  I can understand the Hogan quote being taken out, but Foley?  His fall off the Hell in a Cell is one of the most iconic moments in wrestling history, maybe in the top 5 all-time.  Just because he’s with a differnt company now doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.  I really with Vince would at least acknowledge that there are other companies out there that do what he thinks is the greatest wrestling product in the world, but I suppose that’s just his massive, throbbing ego again, needing a good stroke like it always does.

END TANGENT!

Anyway, my point of this little 1200 word diatribe is that I am sick of Hornswoggle ruining peoples’ careers.  The Little People’s Court last night on Raw was a new low for WWE programming.  Pretending that midgets can’t talk?  Really, Vince?  You couldn’t have even the JUDGE say or do something other than bang her gavel on the milk crate you covered with a cloth to simulate a judge’s desk?  Even I’m insulted with this.  Midgets can talk!  It’s just sad, really.  Hornswoggle’s 15 minutes of fame ran out three years ago.  He needs to disappear from WWE programming for the good of the product.  For once, Vince, think about the fans instead of the MUHN-AEY.

Ah, who am I kidding?  Vince will never think of the fans before himself and THE MUHN-AEY.

Join me next time when I try to be less cynical.  I’ll do my First Annual Golden Rantie Awards next week, so stay tuned for that!  And until then, continue booing Sheamus for being the least qualified man to hold the WWE Championship since The Great Khali!

Fair warning: profanity to follow.

TLC was…decent.  Not great, but not bad.  Most of the matches were good,  but not memorable.  A couple of spots were definitely memorable, but most of the matches didn’t stand out in any way.  With that said, let’s go through the results.

Christian defeated Shelton Benjamin in a Ladder Match to retain the ECW Championship

It can’t be a very good sign when the curtain jerker match is the best of the night.  But these two pulled out some crazy shit and set the bar WAY too high for everybody else following them.  There were plenty of ladder spots, including a couple of very dangerous ones right near the beginning.  First off, Christian dropping a ladder on his head.  I feared he might have sustained a concussion right there.  He got busted open the hard way, and it was sad but funny to see the ref instantly slap on some latex gloves and to see the doctor rush down to ringside not 30 seconds later for FEAR OF BLOOD OMFG!  Seriously, Vince, if someone gets opened up the hard way, just leave it.  I know you’re catering to families now, but a little crimson isn’t going to ruin kids’ lives.  I can understand getting rid of blading.  I never liked that practice in the first place.  But if a guy falls down and drops a ladder on his face, you expect him to be bloody for a while.  Yet the rush the doctor out there to glue Christian’s head shut, stalling the match for about two minutes.  Then Shelton does a dangerous dive off a ladder, nearly landing on his head because Christian wasn’t standing in a good spot and was probably still not all there.  I really enjoyed the “We want blood!” chant that arose while the doctor was gluing Christian up.  The spot of the night had to be Christian hitting a frog splash on Shelton, who was laying on a ladder that was lying between the ring and the announcer’s table.  That was amazing.  Definitely the fastes 18 minute match in recent memory.  They definitely stole the show.  Too bad they stole it at the beginning.

0 for 1 in picks.

Drew McIntyre defeated John Morrison to become the NEW Intercontinental Champion

I have a theory about Drew McIntyre.  Call me a conspiracy theorist all you want, I don’t care.  I think that Vince is using both his on-air support of McIntyre AND the reports that HHH and Shawn Michaels have given their seal of approval to McIntyre to get him over.  Everybody hates him.  The marks hate him because he’s angry all the time and because Vince McMahon personally supports him, and the Internet geeks hate him because he’s earning his championships through politics instead of talent.  It’s a win-win for both Vince and Drew.  He’ll get heat no matter what.

Oh, right, the match.  This was nowhere near as good as their match on Smackdown two weeks ago.  Chalk that up to the magic of television editing.  If McIntyre ever hopes to be taken seriously as a competitor, he needs to do three things: don’t use so many clotheslines, use a wider variety of rest holds/submission holds, and for poop’s sake, STOP USING SWAGGER TACTICS!  It makes you look extremely weak if you dominate your opponent for the set amount of time only to magically become weakened when the face begins his comeback.  It ruins your character.  Let the faces have more moves in their initial mini-comebacks, so when they finally DO make their comeback, it seems plausible because even though you’ve been beating the crap out of them for however many minutes, they’ve been doing enough damage here and there to make it seem like you’ve been knocked around as well.  I hope that makes sense.  Anyway, an average match with an expected result, and a new, undeserving champion was crowned.  I wish I hadn’t correctly picked this match, but I did.

Michelle McCool defeated Mickie James to retain the Women’s Championship

To be fair, I did not hear about this whole Mickie James recording contract thing until after I made my picks.  Had I heard about it, I would have changed my mind.  Here’s hoping Mickie leaves to record her country album soon so we don’t have to hear any more of this pathetic grade-school-level taunting by Michelle and Layla.  Makes me sick every time someone brings it up.  She (and Matt Striker) should be embarassed for such a childish act.  I have no respect left for Michelle McCool.  I hope Natalya or Beth destroys her soon, so we can have some actual women’s matches.

Sheamus defeated John Cena in a Tables Match to become the new WWE Champion

Remember that warning I gave at the beginning of the article?  It’s mostly going to apply here.

I swear to fucking christ, this is the absolute worst decision WWE has made since they put the World Heavyweight Championship on The Great Khali back in 2007.  Sheamus hasn’t even been on television for six months.  Nobody deserves to become a WWE World Champion within six months of their television debut, unless they’ve had an extensive indy career and won multiple indy world titles (*COUGH*americandragon*COUGH*).  If you’re a freakishly pale musclehead with no real knowledge of wrestling psychology and a tiny…moveset…you don’t deserve a world title run any time soon.  To me, Sheamus is basically Batista with a more limited moveset.

The match itself was actually decent, but not memorable in any way.  Cena basically carried this match completely.  It was his job to make sure Sheamus didn’t look like a bumbling idiot out there, and he mostly succeeded.  The ending was a joke and a fluke, and I pray that Cena calls out Sheamus on the fluke.  I also hope Sheamus loses the title on Raw.  To whom, I don’t honestly care.  Anyone is a more deserving champion than him.  He hasn’t paid his dues.  All he did to get where he is today is take steroids and work out a lot and not go out in the sun, ever.  And Vince loves him.  And I’m going to go back into conspiracy theorist mode again: I’m betting that Vince is banking on the IWC hating this move so much that he knows it’s going to draw huge ratings just so people will watch Raw to hope Sheamus loses the WWE Title each and every week.  Leave it to the world’s biggest asshole to stoop to such a low level just for ratings.  Now that I think about it, I bet he’s going to keep the title on Sheamus until January 4th, when Raw and Impact go head-to-head, and he’s going to build up a huge title match for that day just to stick it to TNA and to Hogan.  Don’t you love my conspiracy theories?

Oh, and while we’re berating everyone who works at WWE, leave it to Michael Cole to get his facts wrong yet again.  Cole stated that the last foreign-born WWE Champion was Yokozuna, 16 years ago.  I went through the list of past WWE Champions, and it’s quite obvious he’s WRONG!  Mr. Cole seemed to forget about the very next WWF Champion, one Bret “Hitman” Hart.  A-DUUURRRRR.  Then, Kane won his first (and likely, only) WWF Championship in 1999 (for those of you who don’t know, Glen Jacobs, the man who has portrayed Kane for 84 years, was born in Madrid, Spain, though I highly doubt any announcers would acknowledge this).  And, of course, you can’t discuss the WWE Championship without discussing Edge.  Canada is a foreign country to everybody not from Canada, Michael Cole.  So you’re THREE TIMES WRONG!  Congratulations on being a dumbass for the 15th year in a row.

Let’s move past this travesty, shall we?

The Undertaker defeated Batista in a Chairs Match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship

I call bullshit on this match.  So many people have won titles using dirty tricks like a low blow, yet this time, Teddy Long comes out and ruins it.  There was no reason for him to restart the match.  Why this one and not every other match where someone has cheated but the ref didn’t see it?  Are you going to go back and overturn all of those matches too?  Teddy, you’re giving me an enormous double standard here!  Are you telling me that ONLY the most important people get their matches personally reviewed by you, so when the ref screws up, it’s your JOB to fix things and restart matches that had no business being restarted?  This was a major gaffe on Creative’s part.  Everyone and their blind mother can see that Taker is in bad shape.  He doesn’t walk so much as hobble, and every match where he doesn’t get seriously injured is considered a victory.  THIS IS NOT A GOOD SIGN!  You need to let Taker sit on the shelf for a while, at least until the Rumble, and even possibly further, if you want him to have an epic match with John Cena at Wrestlemania 26.  If you want it to be anywhere near the caliber of Taker/HBK this year, he needs to rest up.  Keeping the title on him is going to mean more matches, more title matches, and more house shows, which is only going to wear him down even faster.  Unless you’re going to put the strap on Jericho REALLY soon, this is a huge mistake.  I don’t condone a Batista title reign at all, but he’s at least a stopgap while Taker heals up.  Anyway, yet another average match.  The only memorable part about it was the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard Matt Striker say: “Undertaker’s been in Hell in a Cell matches, Elimination Chamber matches, Inferno matches…but perhaps none more dangerous than a chair match.”  Excuse me?  What in the hell are you smoking, sir?  How in the blue hell is a steel chair more dangeorus than A RING SURROUNDED BY GODDAMNED FIRE!  How is a steel chair more dangerous than everything else under the ring that you can use in a Hell in a Cell?  How is a steel chair more dangerous than steel grating for a floor, bulletproof glass, and five other men who want to tear your head off?  You, sir, made the most moronic commentary of the evening.

Let’s move on.

Randy Orton defeated Kofi Kingston

You would think that an up-and-comer who has paid his dues and improved a hundred fold in the ring and a million fold on the mic would finally get his big break and bust into the main event.  But no, Randy Orton ruins the moment yet again.  Sure, they could drag this feud out for a while longer, but it had reached a crecendo that I have not felt in quite some time as far as feuds go.  This was the rubber match between these two, and when you’ve got a talent like Kofi about to break into the main event, he’s supposed to win the rubber match in style and class, beat Orton clean, and vault into stardom.  Instead, we get Orton winning again and delaying the inevitable.  Orton doesn’t need more wins right now.  He’s already acoomplished more in his short career than 95% of the wrestlers who have ever or WILL EVER compete in this industry.  For once, let the young guy get over.  I read in Mike Siciliano’s column, Pros from the Palace, that he thinks Dibiase will turn face and team with Kingston to take on Orton and Rhodes.  While this isn’t a bad idea, I just don’t see why the IWC loves Ted Dibiase, Jr. so much.  He’s not terribly charismatic, he’s average on the mic, and he’s just decent in the ring, more of a throwback to the 1970’s and 1980’s.  But I see no outstanding characteristics blaring at me when it comes to Dibiase.  He’s been around for well over a year; you would think that his matches would gradually become more interesting and more entertaining, but they really haven’t.

As far as Kofi’s push goes, I think this feud should have ended at TLC.  With Orton winning, it lessens the intensity and diminishes any future impact Kofi might make.  He should have won here and crashed the main event party, telling the world, “Here I am!  I’m taking that title!”  You know what I would love?  I’d love to see Sheamus take on Kofi tomorrow and have Kofi win the WWE Title.  Now THAT would be a swerve.

Oh, right, the match.  Yet again, average.  Though it did have one sweet sequence where Kofi showed his true identity, Spiderman, when he climbed up the ring steps and up the turnbuckles in about a second and a half, only to fly directly into a Randy Orton dropkick on the floor.  It was a thing of beauty.  Then Orton worked Kofi’s ribs for like 12 minutes and won with an RKO.  Wow.

And now, for the main event!

DX defeated JeriShow to become the NEW Unified Tag Team Champions

I find it hilarious that I’m using the best tag team of 2009’s fan-made nickname on the last day of their existence.  But if you honestly didn’t see this coming, you’re blinder than I am.  Again, a fairly average match that had a couple of potentially awesome spots that turned ugly.  Well, really, just the one where Jericho was balanced on Show’s shoulders, and DX stepped into the ring.  What I’d hoped would happen was Show just chucking Jericho at DX, probably missing, then DX taking Show out and winning.  Instead, HBK superkicks Show, drops Jericho outside, and Jericho has probably the ugliest landing of the night.  It was awful, trust me.  Then a superkick and a Pedigree later, DX wins the Unified Tag Team Titles.  What does this mean for the Tag Titles?  Will they be exclusive to Raw until DX feels like dropping them?  Or will HHH decide to work Tuesdays again (science bless Paul Heyman).  Either way, the Tag Team gold has been given new life by JeriShow.  Let’s hope DX doesn’t piss it all away.  I’m looking forward to DX vs. The Hart Dynasty.  Here’s hoping the Dynasty takes the belts soon.

So, as far as picks went, I was…damn…2 for 7.  That’s probably my worst percentage of the year.  That’s what happens when titles that should change hands don’t.

Before I leave you, I would like to address something regarding your new WWE Champion (I refuse to acknowledge him as MY WWE Champion).  A lot of people are saying that just seeing a fresh face in the World Title pictures means something, that WWE is finally willing to step away from its usual formula of Cena+Orton+HHH+Taker+Batista+Edge=MONEYZ!  Why, then, do they give the title to the guy who’s been on television the shortest amount of time, and has barely cut his teeth on Raw?  There is not one person on the Raw roster who is LESS deserving of a WWE Title run than Sheamus.  Even the lower card guys like Carlito, Chavo, Santino, and Primo deserve a WWE Title run more than Sheamus.  Why?  Two simple reasons: first, they’ve paid their dues, and second, they have more talent than the shamrock milkshake (thanks to Josh Piedra of the Wrestleview staff for that one).  I’ll even go so far as to say that Hornswoggle is more deserving of a WWE Championship run, simply because he’s been on TV for over three years as opposed to the five months Sheamus has been around.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I just admitted that I would rather see Hornswoggle hold the WWE Championship more than I want to see Sheamus hold the WWE Championship.  Hell, let’s just have Swoggle take on Sheamus on Raw tomorrow and have the leprechaun win.  And with the reputation of the WWE Championship utterly destroyed within 24 hours, we can go about rebuilding it with someone with ACTUAL TALENT.

You know what I would have liked to see at TLC?  John Cena vs. a heel MVP.  That would have been an awesome match.  But MVP has been the biggest disappointment of the year.  It’s as though Creative no longer cares about him now that he’s on Raw.  Let’s hope his 2010 gets him to the main event.

Okay, it’s 2:30 AM and I’ve written 2,700 words.  That’s plenty of ranting for now.  I’ll be writing up my year-in-review column and my First Annual Golden Rantie Awards very soon, so stay tuned for those!  In the meantime, I’ll suffer through this abomination of a WWE Title reign for you.  Let’s hope I don’t go insane in the process.

A thought before I go into picks: I’m considering doing some spur-of-the-moment thoughts of every show I can watch live.  I’ve thought about joining all the twits and twats on Twitter mostly so I could harangue the company for being so overblown and idiotic, but doing entries while watching Raw, ECW, and Smackdown might be kind of fun, especially to look back at what I’d written the next day and comment on what I wrote.  It probably won’t be too interesting to anybody else, but I think it’d be fun.  I was doing that sans Twitter yesterday while watching Smackdown, writing stuff like, “I really didn’t need to know that Mike Knox participates in auto-erotic asphyxiation.”  Which basically was said last night.  It was far more than I ever needed to know about any character.  So I might start doing this just for fun, see if I get any followers.

Okay, back on topic.  TLC is a day away, and my initial opinions are mixed.  The concept is decent enough, and some of the matches look good.  But some just anger me because of the participants.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

Women’s Championship – Michelle McCool (c) vs. Mickie James

I am so goddamned sick of McCool’s incredibly lame attempt at an insult to Mickie James.  I’m not even going to dignify it by writing it here.  If McCool wins, we’ll never hear the end of it.  Which would mean I’d tune out every time it airs.  Besides, Smackdown has more talented heel women then face women, and there are at least two awesome ladies waiting in the wings to get their Women’s Title shots.  Hell, I just want to see Beth and Natalya duke it out anyway.  Michelle McCool has had a long enough title reign.  The women’s division needs someone who doesn’t have the personality of wet cardboard.  And it needs someone who can face off against Beth and Natalya.  Mickie James wins her 94th Women’s Title.  Or her fifth.  I’ve lost count.

Oh, and a quick word to Matt Striker: Michelle McCool will NEVER surpass any of the women currently in the WWE Hall of Fame.  You should be ashamed to say that she could be better than Moolah, Mae Young, or Sensational Sherri.  Talk to me again if McCool’s wrestling in 50 years and I MIGHT hear you out.  I’m actually beginning to hate Striker’s commentary.  But let’s move on.

Intercontinental Championship – John Morrison (c) vs. Drew McIntyre

Morrison has been the champ since early September, when he had a fantastic match with Rey Mysterio.  There’s a sad part of me that has a bad feeling he’s going to lose tomorrow.  If somebody’s got a letter of recommendation from HHH and Shawn Michaels, he’s basically got a golden ticket to the top no matter what.  Which is depressing.  It means that it doesn’t matter if you’ve got talent in the ring or on the mic, because as long as you’re in good with the higher-ups, you can politic your way into greatness.  I’ll admit that these two had a good match last week on Smackdown.  But one match does not a great wrestler make.  McIntyre’s still in the Swagger Tactics frame of mind, and that won’t help him get over as a heel.  Morrison’s going to carry this match, but I’m afraid he might lose out in the end anyway.  And that will pretty well end any hopes Dolph Ziggler has of winning any singles gold in the near future.  But maybe I’m wrong and Morrison retains, and teaches McIntyre a lesson that it doesn’t matter how in you are with the boss.  But who are we kidding?  Vince would never make himself look like a fool on television.  His ego is too huge, and it needs constant stroking in order to function properly.  Drew McIntyre wins and becomes the new Intercontinental champion.  Not that I’m wanting him to win.

Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston

I’m looking forward to this match quite thoroughly, though I fear it’s been lost in the shuffle of Cena/Sheamus and Taker/Batista.  This could make Kofi’s career.  If he gets a clean win over Orton and showcases what he can do, he may be pushed to the main event.  And he (unlike others who are receiving title shots after TWO MONTHS on Raw) has got the talent and the mic skills to make it up there.  And if you want somebody to go over, there really aren’t many better qualified to put someone over than Randy Orton.  I’m not a big fan of his style, but he gets the job done.  He’s going to be obnoxious as hell during this match, but he’s going to get Kofi over.  Kofi Kingston wins.  This should be a good match.

ECW Championship Ladder Match – Christian (c) vs. Shelton Benjamin

After months of screwing the fans out of ECW Title matches on PPVs, we’re getting the mother lode at the end of the year.  Christian and Shelton are two of the most prominently featured ladder match wrestlers ever.  Christian was a TLC mainstay during its infancy, and Shelton is put in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at Wrestlemania every year because he delivers stellar performances every year.  This will be a crazy spot-fest from bell to bell, and we’re going to get to see Shelton fly like a madman.  I was a little scared during his spot at the end of ECW this past Tuesday, when he almost lost his balance on the ropes and then nearly collapsed the ladder under his weight.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg here.  This match is going to be furious and crazy-go-nuts the whole way.  These two are going to steal the show, seeing as how they keep telling us that they will.  I believe it.  On the matter of who wins, though, that’s tough.  Christian’s held the belt for about five months, which in 2009 is like a year and a half in any other time period.  I think Christian’s gearing up for a move to Smackdown to reunite with Edge…or turn on him.  Either way, it’s probably time for a changing of the guard.  And Shelton honestly deserves the win.  He’s an IWC darling, and his face turn has only helped him.  Christian has done his part to get ECW recognized as a real brand instead of just some knockoff where vets go to die and young guns arrive fresh off the FCW boat.  Shelton Benjamin wins and is your NEW ECW Champion.

WWE Championship Tables Match – John Cena (c) vs. Sheamus

I’ve ranted every single week about how undeserving Sheamus is of a WWE Title shot.  It all came to a head this past Monday, when he probably put Mark Cuban’s life in danger by tossing him through a table set up in the corner.  I was hoping that Cuban didn’t get his neck or back broken.  He apparently didn’t, but I don’t normally have that fear when a competent wrestler puts a non-wrestler through a table.  I have the fear that someone’s goign to get legitimately injured every time the pale Irishman steps through the ropes.  And he’s been built up so strongly that I can’t conceive of him winning at all.  WWE would be insane to put their biggest prize on the waist of a guy who’s been on TV for less than six months, especially one who seems to be a danger to everyone around him.  I’d imagine that Cena does his best Superman impression after getting beat down by the Irish Ghost and gets the win.  John Cena wins and retains his title.

World Heavyweight Championship Steel Chairs Match – Undertaker (c) vs. Batista

We all know Taker is hurting.  He can barely move around in the ring nowadays.  On the other hand, Batista is about as deserving of another World Title reign as Sheamus.  Batista has turned into this boring, generic heel.  He’s like Chris Jericho without the charisma and vocabulary.  He hates the fans too, but his face says he doesn’t care what happens.  I’m afraid that Creative is going to try to preserve Taker’s health as much as possible until Wrestlemania 26.  And the only way to do that is to take the title off him.  I hate to say it, and I really wish it wouldn’t happen, but it’s looking like Batista wins his 19th World Championship.  Or hwoever many he’s got under his belt (pun thoroughly intended).  This will be a bowling-shoe ugly match for sure (I miss JR).

Unified Tag Team Championship TLC Match – Chris Jericho and The Big Show (c’s) vs. DX

Jericho is the longest-reigning champion in WWE today.  He’s held the Unified Tag Team gold since The Bash, which I was lucky enough to attend back in late June.  Of course, he won those titles with Edge, but people seem to have forgotten about that.  Anyway, Jericho and Show have been a great tag team, and they’ve had a great run, but WWE seems intent on pushing DX as much as possible in order to boost profit margins.  DX is a merchandise machine, there’s no doubt.  I kind of hope that they change their ways after they win the tag titles.  Like they either both turn heel, or they stay with the intense, angry duo.  The teenager mindset that they’ve had for the past few months has worn out its welcome, and I would like to see some change in Hunter and Shawn.  On the plus side, there hasn’t been as high profile a tag match in years.  It doesn’t get much bigger than this.  Literally and figuratively.  Anyway, I’m betting that Jericho and Show are on the edge of a breakup (not sure whether or not that pun was intended), and I’m betting that they’re going to get Jericho right back into the World Title picture once he loses the tag straps.  So, with that being said, DX wins and becomes the NEW Unified Tag Team Champions.

Well, there are my picks.  All we have to do is wait and see what happens.  Should be a decent show.  I’ll be back in a couple of days with results, and in a couple of weeks, I’ll have my End of the Year wrap-up column, as well as the First Annual Golden Rantie Awards.  Keep watching, and I’ll keep writing.

There is no way to encompass all of the topics I am going to discuss tonight under one simple headline, so I’m leaving today’s column without one.

I can’t go any further without mentioning the death of Eddie Fatu.  Umaga, to those who don’t obsess about knowing every wrestler’s real name.  Two days ago, he had a heart attack in his home, and after some time in a hospital, passed away after a second heart attack.  Fatu had just recently completed the Hulkamania tour, which, from the results I read on Wrestleview, appeared to be pretty “meh” at best.  Hogan beat Flair in every match they had (what a surprise), and there were a bunch of other matches that didn’t really seem to matter.  But I digress.  Fatu was, by far, one of the most talented, entertaining wrestlers in WWE before his untimely departure in June of this year.  He left because he had violated the Wellness Policy a second time, and refused to get any treatment.  What substance he was taking is unknown.  I’m not in a mood to speculate.  What does matter is that this is a real tragedy in my eyes.  To me, this is the toughest loss in wrestling since Chris Benoit (who I’m just now able to begin to watch his matches again after all this time).  There have been quite a few deaths in the two and a half years between Benoit’s and Fatu’s, but Fatu’s death hits home a lot harder because I have well-formed memories of his work.  I did watch WWF as a kid, and remember characters like Earthquake, Crush, and Sensational Sherri, but that was a long time ago.  Benoit I’d known about since his days in the Radicalz (I also watched WWF programming in the late 90’s, but quickly lost interest), and had many pleasant memories of his work in 2006 and 2007.  Fatu is similar.  His work from 2006 up until his departure from WWE was some of the best in the industry, not just Vince’s promotion.  Fatu was a special kind of talent.  He was a monster heel, but was tremendously athletic, flying around the ring, off the top rope, all while acting the part of a savage beast brought from the depths of Samoa.  He really was a great man, and he will surely be missed.  My thoughts go out to the Fatu family.

Now, on to a topic I never thought I would get the chance to discuss.  I consider myself to be of a reasonable opinion when it comes to the various wrestlers within Vince McMahon’s little empire.  So it always is a delight when I find that I am wrong about a certain person.  In fact, this past Friday, I was proven wrong twice.  Well, not completely wrong.  But I was definitely shown something I wasn’t expecting.  First, we received a face turn for one Eric Escibar.  And I found myself enjoying his promo with Vickie, if only because he was slandering her.  I don’t know how she does it, but she made me hate her with a passion upon returning to television.  But Escobar was funny and entertaining for the first time, and his handicap match with the Hart Dynasty was actually pretty decent.  It’s like WWE reads my column and then deliberately changes a character in order to spite me.  That, or I judge too quickly.  I dunno.  Anyway, Escobar’s flatlining career has just gotten a reviving jolt of energy from this sudden face turn, and I actually like it.  I’m hoping he continues on this path against Vickie Guerrero.  She can continue putting him in ridiculous matches, and he can attempt to show off what I can only hope is the skill that got him to TV in the first place.  Eric Escobar has earned a reprieve from my eternal hate list.  For now.

The other surprise I got was a pretty good match between John Morrison and *GASP* Drew McIntyre.  While I don’t think McIntyre should have won, he actually was able to keep up with Morrison, and Morrison made Drew look a hell of a lot better than any jobber could.  Morrison was on his game on Friday, and Drew kept up, which is impressive in and of itself.  I’m betting that they’re going to put the IC belt on McIntyre, overlooking Mr. Ziggles yet again.  Man, that guy can not catch a break, can he?  First, Mysterio refuses to drop the title to Ziggler, then Morrison wins the title from Mysterio when Rey has to go on suspension, and NOW McIntyre’s poised to take the strap away?  I would hate to be Dolph Ziggler right about now.  I hope he isn’t demoted further.  He has some real potential to be good.  Now, if McIntyre can follow up on that good match he had with Morrison, I might have to eat my words twice.

The last topic of the evening is one I wish wasn’t actually news, but sadly is.  There was a report a week or so ago that there are sources (unnamed, of course) saying Hulk Hogan shouldn’t ever show up at the Impact Zone for any TNA tapings because he doesn’t want to associate himself with “second-rate companies.”  I don’t even need to describe how idiotic that was, do I?  Anyway, NOW, just a day after the death of Eddie Fatu, Hogan goes on a UFC show and announces that Impact will air live on January 4th, for three hours, going head-to-head with Monday Night Raw.  Here’s a tip, TNA: don’t bother.  Funny thing is, you ARE a second-rate company filled with has-been wrestlers far past their prime and a writing staff full of wackos, maniacs, and nutjobs.  Trying to go head-to-head with the biggest wrestling show on TV is a foolish plan.  You will lose the ratings war.  And to any wrestling fans, if you’re planning on watching Impact instead of Raw, you’re probably an idiot too.  TNA has been an absolute joke the last couple of years, and I cannot forsee it beating Raw in the ratings at all.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve got Hogan signed.  He’s just a poor old sod desperate for media attention and another paycheck.  He doesn’t give a damn about your company.  If you were smart, you’d get rid of him and most of those has-beens leading your company and focus on what you started with: a bunch of talented young guys who can show up most WWE guys.  It probably won’t matter.  I think Hogan’s going to bleed TNA dry soon enough.  Then he’ll latch onto another unsuspecting promotion and run it into the ground as well.  He’s nothing but a leech.  We all just need to ignore him, and eventually he’ll go away.

I know I’m sounding overly harsh, but that’s why I write this.  If I can’t express my opinions (sometimes embellished here or there), what’s the point of writing anything?  At least there are people who read this column, so I can’t complain there.

Okay, that’s it for today.  I’ll be back later in the week with TLC picks (damn, it’s already here?), and in a couple of weeks, my end of the year awards.  Be sure to stay tuned.  Subscribe to the RSS feed if you don’t feel like checking back every day.  Until next time.