THE SPECIALISTS SPECIALIST: WWE Feud-O-Meter
Feb 1, 2006 - 2:48:00 PM
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By Ellen Amy Cohen, WWE Feud Specialist
Banner design by Paul Madavi.
Greetings and salutations! I've finished hibernating in the cellar of the top-secret, super-sleek Specialist Headquarters (it used to be "sleeping it off on the Lounge sofa," but times change). On the jukebox today: "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, "Stars" by Terrence Mann, and "The Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson.
Congratulations are in order to Hunter and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, who are expecting their first child! Isn't it swell? And this time we can be sure she's not lying about the pregnancy to stay married to him, because Chris Jericho isn't around to walk Lucy the Dog (who could beat Chloe in a street fight, let me tell you)! Okay, I'm being silly. Hunter and Steph are real people expecting a real baby. Mazal Tov, guys!
Congratulations are also in order to PWTorch subscriber Leigh, the farthest-flung VIPer from Melbourne, Australia, who has just married his longtime girlfriend Maria! They'll be honeymooning in lovely, semi-cold New York City, mere blocks from where I work.
So I've been watching "LOST" for the past three weeks (having been filled in on some of the backstory by a friend who watched it all last season), and I've noticed an alternating pattern in every episode:
(1) Ten minutes of getting to know someone
(2) Ten minutes of "What the f--- was that?"
But hey, as long as there's plenty of Claire, Eko, and Sawyer, I'll keep watching. I have to know what that sentient black smoke was all about!
And a few weeks ago, my roommate and I were watching an episode of "Maggie & The Ferocious Beast" with her son, when she brought up an interesting point: why are cartoon pigs always given names emphasizing the fact that they can be used for food? "Maggie" has a character named Hamilton Hocks; "Tiny Toon Adventures" had Hamton J. Pigg; and of course, there is the classic Porky Pig. "One day," Estella quipped, "they'll create a character named Francis Bacon and think they're being literary." You don't find this phenomenon with any other anthropomorphic characters, with the possible exception of Egghead Jr. from the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons. Think about it!
And now, on to the show you've all been waiting for!
Chris Benoit vs. Randy Orton vs. Booker T (w/Sharmell) vs. Orlando Jordan:
Considering Booker T's real-life injury, this was the best way they could have approached the situation. I mean, halfway through a Best of Seven Series, if Booker had forfeited, it would have been anti-climactic. Usually I get bored with a four-way conflict, but the performers have managed to keep it fresh with all the possibilities. For example, Jordan working to rise above his infamous "less than 30 seconds" losing streak to Benoit: this should not be Orlando's legacy, and his willingness to keep fighting for his old U.S. title makes it seem even more important. And then there's Randy Orton, who has worked hard over the past few months to rebuild his "Legend Killer" status by doing what he does best: wrestling. (His standing dropkick is so beautiful, it should have its own profile at WWE.com.) One of the best segments I've seen so far -- and which is very telling of the players' personalities -- is when Randy makes sure to remind the T's that he won the title and would eventually be cashing in a return favor. However, he doesn't want Booker to cheat on his behalf to help him win, even though it's possible he could lose. Why do I get the feeling we're seeing another potential babyface turn from Orton? Hey, it happened the last time he won a title from Benoit.
Kurt Angle vs. Mark Henry (w/Melina Daivari):
We all know Kurt Angle can make anyone look good, but isn't this pushing the envelope? I'm glad he's taking this on as a babyface champion, because I can't make myself enjoy Sexual Chocolate (and it's been this way since he broke up with Mae Young, a romance so bad it was good). Melina as manager and valet made him more palatable, but even that element has been removed -- and I don't blame her, if she's going to be subjected to anklelocks and the like. Say what you want about heel Divas, but they don't deserve to have the male babyfaces attack them unless they're the same size and/or capable of defending themselves (like Chyna, Shaniqua, and to a lesser extent Victoria). Anyway, since I can't picture Mark Henry as a serious threat to the World Heavyweight Title, I'll be counting the days until it's over.
Kurt Angle vs. Undertaker:
As Paul Bearer would say, "Ohhhhh yes!" The last time these two locked up for the title was circa spring 2002, while the WWE title was still undisputed. American Badass Taker was champion, and Angle challenged him repeatedly on Smackdown (which was about as compelling as Jeff Hardy's challenge on Raw, but for different reasons). I remember there was one main event finish that had Taker tapping while he was pinning Angle, or something weird to that effect. We even got to see Taker doing submission holds, like triangular chokes! It brought him to a level of technical wrestling we might not have seen otherwise (again, Kurt Angle can make anyone look good). So I'm pleased as Hawaiian Punch at the prospect of these two locking up again. I just hope Taker will drop this newest (and yet oldest) gimmick, since it's too static and won't carry the entertainment value outside of the ring.
Kurt Angle vs. Daivari:
Honestly, I'm surprised this wasn't done last year, when Hassan was still around. And it comes off as a squash since Daivari is portrayed as a manager, not a fighter (remember the time Undertaker "sacrificed" him?). It's a better rivalry if Daivari decides to manage everyone who fights Angle -- kind of like what Paul Heyman was doing for awhile.
Mark Henry vs. Rey Mysterio:
I am getting a little tired of these David vs. Goliath matches (Rey vs. Big Show, Rey vs. A-Train, Rey vs. Lesnar, etc.) and this is just the latest in the bunch. I'll say Mysterio's best non-cruiserweight feuds were against Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero, and leave it at that.
JBL (w/Jillian Hall) vs. Boogeyman:
How long is Bradshaw going to be punished for beating up Blue Meanie? First the terrible losing streak, and now this. Granted, Boogeyman is a good cheesy-horror-movie-style gimmick, but that's it. His raison d'etre was to provide a believable removal of Jillian's mole. I'm surprised PETA isn't crying about the abuse of live worms every week. Oh, that's right -- worms aren't cute and fluffy, so they don't care! Anyway, Boogeyman is a bad parody of creepy Undertaker, and JBL deserves better than this. Maybe he needs to be kept out of the title chase for awhile, but this angle is disgraceful, and something else could be done with all parties involved.
LOWER CARD FEUDS
Matt Hardy vs. Fit Finlay:
In the course of a year, Matt's gone from Sensei of Mattitude to Whipping Boy for Hire. Finlay is (and always has been) a tremendous performer in and out of the ring, so I think his debut would have been successful no matter who he fought. It's just laughable that the first person to get whipped was Matt Hardy. Anyway, the DQ finish allows for a rematch, so it's possible this will keep going -- but I doubt it. I'll just check Matt's website to see if he cries about what happened. And since Finlay is famous for working with the Raw Divas at the height of their success...well, you do the math.
The Gymini (w/Simon Dean) vs. Paul London & Brian Kendrick:
Ha! They're identical twins, so they do the Gemini pun, plus that whole gym thing with Simon Dean. Oh, funny! They've also managed to out-Basham the Basham Brothers, which I thought was impossible. I hope London and Kendrick stay on the Smackdown radar as readily-available tag opponents; they have chemistry and I've loved them since the first time I saw them together (back in 2003, after Kendrick was done feuding with Angle and Cena).
Gregory Helms vs. Any Number of Cruiserweights!
Oh, my mouth is watering. Finally, a fresh storyline we can care about for the cruiserweight title. I'd love to see him redo his feud with Jamie Noble, but there are so many viable challengers on Smackdown (which is where I assume the former Hurricane is going now), that anything is possible!
"Dr. Death" Tim White vs. "Just the Messenger" Josh Mathews:
This storyline should have stopped moments before Tim White grabbed a shotgun and went off-camera in his bar. We get it. He's suicidal. This shouldn't even be a wrestling storyline -- but how often do I find myself saying that? Some recent swipes at Josh with a razor blade indicate that Tim's homicidal as well. Why not give him his wish and let him wrestle Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match? Just end the stupidity, please. Chad Patten is ten times the referee-with-a-storyline that Tim White was.
Boogeyman vs. Simon Dean:
I think Boogeyman appearing at Eric Bischoff's trial, instead of Simon Dean, successfully concluded this one.
Tony Chimmel vs. Ken Kennedy...
Since Kennedy hasn't openly berated Chimmel's announcing skills for awhile (and is instead complimenting Michael Cole's head), we can consider this feud over as well.
Bobby Lashley vs. Simon Dean:
And Simon's recovered from eating all those cheeseburgers, too.
JBL vs. Orlando Jordan:
I don't recall Orlando being officially booted from JBL's Cabinet. I mean, he said to put on the kneepads and try lasting longer than thirty seconds, but other than that...oh, well. Not that I care as much as I did when Chyna split with Triple H so she could feud with Jeff Jarrett. I'm just asking, because I have to.
Batista & Rey Mysterio vs. MNM (Mercury & Nitro & Melina):
Batista's injury, and Rey's catapulting to the World or WWE Title picture, both place this feud on the back burner. Melina did mention her sexual harassment suit in a conversation with Theodore Long, so it might not be completely over. I'll give it a couple of weeks. Plus, with Melina sending her boys into a handicap match with Kurt Angle, that means the focus is shifted to whoever's the World Heavyweight Champion.
Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (w/Cowboy Bob Orton):
We'll see what Taker does to keep himself busy when he's not fighting Kurt Angle. Orton survived Hell in a Cell, which should be more than enough to keep their feud going. But with Taker wanting another title match, we will have to watch and wait.
Kurt Angle vs. Sharmell:
They're back on the same roster again. Should she start bringing mace into the dressing room, or is he not into her anymore?
***** RAW vs. SMACKDOWN
Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels:
With Kurt on the Smackdown roster indefinitely, we'll have to leave this off as a draw. Sure, HBK won the latest installment, but Daivari cheated and I don't think that should count. A rollup? Please, Stacy Keibler has won matches with finishing sequences more difficult than that.
The Royal Rumble:
If it hadn't been for the huge Raw vs. Smackdown battle we saw all last year, I'd say this is one of the few times that the guys from both brands can be seen fighting each other. I would take the time here to complain that the only titles being defended were the two heavyweight championships and the women's championship, but this is the Royal Rumble. It's all about that match. If we get another Wrestlemania light on the title defenses, though, prepare for my ranting!
So far, the only conflict I foresee as being spun off from the Rumble is Triple H vs. Rey Mysterio, in which Hunter will do everything in his power to ridicule someone he doesn't consider to be in his orbit. He'll also try to connive a way to get Rey's title shot away from him, thus indicating that he somehow won the Rumble in a roundabout way, just like he said he would.
Viscera vs. Matt Hardy:
I knew it was a matter of time before someone sodomized Matt on live television.
***** RAW BRAND
Edge (w/Lita) vs. John Cena:
As intrigued as I was by the way Edge finally cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot, I was disappointed that he lost the title in less than a month. And that's not me jumping on any kind of "Cena Sucks" bandwagon. It just makes for bad storytelling. How can Edge and Cena have a believable conflict if the title jumps back and forth so easily? I would have expected Edge to cheat to retain his title at the Rumble, and maybe let Cena have it back at Wrestlemania. That's not to say I don't enjoy Cena as champion -- I love the guy! -- but I would have stretched out the chase a little longer.
Oh, and what was up with Lita accidentally (or purposely) hitting Edge with the belt? Accidents happen, but she didn't seem to care. Maybe she's sick of Edge pimping her out to get tag team partners. Maybe all those FUs from Cena got her hot and bothered.
Or that could just be the same face she's been wearing since she and Matt Hardy started feuding with Kane. Blah.
Edge (w/Lita) vs. Ric Flair:
I've been loving the hell out of this feud. For Ric Flair to be in the main event -- in a ladder match, no less -- is something I thought I'd never see three years ago. I would love for him to put the Intercontinental Title up for grabs more often (Carlito? Chris Masters? Rob Van Dam?), but for now, I'm enjoying the dynamic of arrogant younger guy disrespecting the wizened veteran (see Orton, Randy). It would work better without Lita involved, because when she tries to diss Flair, she has no real emotion behind it. She sucks more at promos than she does at Edge and Matt Hardy combined!
Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon:
Having fought all the older "living legends" who were willing to take him on (Hogan, Taker, Austin, Flair), the Genetic Jackhammer has turned his attention to the Holy Bible Kid. Apparently this started when Shawn told Vince to let the whole Montreal screwjob thing die, and to leave Bret alone, or something. Vince has had it in for Shawn ever since.
Glass Half Empty Perspective: It's a foregone conclusion that this will be one of the main events of Wrestlemania, something likely to be promoted more heavily than one or both of the heavyweight title matches. It sickens me. First of all, I have a long record of disliking Shawn Michaels: he annoys me, but I don't hate him, and his matches are usually good when he doesn't overdo the showboating. Second, isn't this what used to be a source of ridicule in those "Huckster & Nacho Man" skits lampooning WCW? Isn't that what Vince despised? The old guys being pushed over the newer talent? I could understand if Vince decided to "out" Triple H and Stephanie's marriage and pregnancy, and then decided to sic his son-in-law on his old chaps-wearing rival. I could respect that. But why is Vince now portraying the devil, tempting Shawn to leave the way of Christ and go back to his "pill-popping" party days? Pill-popping? Didn't Eddie Guerrero just die, and Eugene pass out in a hotel lobby? Didn't WWE just publicly institute a new drug policy? What the hell is Vince McMahon thinking? Why does he care if Shawn turns to the dark side? Like, what is that supposed to accomplish? How does this constitute a realistic feud? Even JBL vs. Boogeyman is more believable than this.
Glass Half Full Perspective: If anyone can give Vince McMahon a good match, it'll be Shawn Michaels! And the promos, as unbelievable as they may be in a reality-based universe, will be captivating.
Triple H vs. Big Show:
Up until Trips smashed Show's "chokeslamming hand" with the sledgehammer, I was really enjoying the presentation of this feud. I know what you're thinking: it's Triple H and Big Show, for crying out loud! Hey, I haven't been expecting five-star matches. But the way it started -- with Show walking right up to Hunter and telling him to his face that he's a piece of *bleep!* -- was top-notch, and I only wish it would go on in this vein.
Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin (w/Mama):
I have to say I side with Shelton on this one. Shawn's the authority on whether or not Shelton needs more attitude, and yet he tries to steal the finish of any tag match he's in? Oh, please. Granted, bringing in his Mama isn't the best way to get more attitude in the ring, but it's been an interesting run so far. I loved the idea of Mama Benjamin offering to kick Mama Michaels' ass. Can you imagine if Shawn dared to bring his mother to the ring with him? Would he tell us her name is Mary? Would she be wearing a flowing blue cloak? The sky's the limit!
Carlito vs. Rob Van Dam:
ONE OF A KIND! Yes, to all of you who wrote to ask me, I am ecstatic that Rob is back on Raw. And he'll be kicking the applesauce out of Carlito's mouth in the process! Now, I know promos aren't RVD's strong point, but he can be hilarious in them (like the time he applauded Triple H's water-spitting talents), so maybe a couple of Cabanas -- which usually degenerate into matches -- are just what they need to reheat this feud.
LOWER CARD FEUDS
Trish Stratus & Ashley Massaro & Mickie James vs. Candice Michelle & Victoria & Torrie Wilson (w/Chloe):
After some careful research, I've finally discovered how Candice's wand is strong enough to knock other Divas unconscious, but is still light enough for her to carry it around.
The wand is filled with Rohypnol, a powerful sedative. The points of the star at the end of her wand contain barely-visible syringes, which send immediate injections into the Divas' skin upon impact. Candice also stores a larger dose of the sedative in the hollowed-out shaft of the wand, which not only refills the doses in the star, but could knock a Diva out cold if the star is removed from the end of the wand. A side effect of the sedative is that it causes memory loss, so the Divas will not learn for next time that they should avoid Candice and her wand.
And it looks so innocuous, doesn't it?
Anyway, this is the best use of Diva factions I've seen in awhile. The dynamic between the babyfaces -- including crazy Mickie -- has been compelling, but "Vince's Devils" are still a force to be reckoned with, especially Victoria. And the little dog having her own WWE.com profile (and a "VINCE" tattoo) is just priceless!
Mickie James vs. Ashley Massaro:
Let me start off by saying I have no idea why Mickie would change a cool name like Alexis Laree. That's adorable! Anyway, from the moment this bouncy lunatic got into the ring and saved Trish, I knew it would go down the pseudo-lesbian road. If anyone else in WWE kissed Trish under the mistletoe, they wouldn't be labeled a crazy heel.
I haven't been impressed with the matches as much as I have with the story surrounding them -- so that fills in the blanks, where there might be a deficit in ring skills. Any match can be made good if the psychology is strong enough.
The obvious path they're taking is Mickie vs. Ashley: Winner Gets Trish! I tell you, it's like Test vs. Scott Steiner all over again.
Jerry Lawler vs. Jonathan Coachman vs. Joey Styles:
Any announce team that makes Coach their personal bitch as a weekly sport is fine with me. And Joey's so good at his job that the sting of losing J.R. isn't as strong. It makes Coach more entertaining as well, to see how he handles himself against Joey.
However, the hushed-whisper commentary during Chris Masters' ring entrance is creepy and must be stopped.
Triple H vs. Ric Flair:
I guess if Triple H injures you in a steel cage match and then you get arrested for road rage, the feud is officially over. I'm disappointed. After three years of buildup, I thought this would go longer than a couple of months.
Carlito vs. Chris Masters:
They tease dissension every other week, but since I don't foresee either of them turning babyface, I know they'll always kiss and make up in time for the tag match. I think they'd make great champs, too.
Gregory Helms vs. Rosey:
Stand back! Way, way back. So far back no one can remember you had any beef with each other. You've got three minutes and you're outta here...
Eh, I got nothing. Same as these two, who I used to love.
Kane vs. Carlito:
I think it's interesting (but probably coincidental) that of all people to interrupt Carlito's rant about Rob Van Dam, Kane came out. I know it was to disprove his claim that he couldn't be tossed over the top rope, but it struck me as funny. And they fought as a buildup to the Rumble, not because they're going to embark on any great feud.
Big Show & Kane vs. Carlito & Chris Masters (or anyone, for that matter):
Though a tag feud with New Evolution (my nickname for Carlito & Masters, which I'm coining right now!) would be interesting to watch...more so than watching the tag champions crush team after team of poorly-developed jobbers. It's like the time Chyna won the women's title. They couldn't do anything with it. They painted her into a corner.
Vince McMahon vs. Eric Bischoff:
What started out as a wealth of possibilities in the search for a new general manager has become the equivalent of O.J. Simpson's search for "the real killers." Vince is apparently going to be running the show, at least until Wrestlemania (if not longer). In the end, they'll twist the storyline around in some way to allow Bischoff to return, because it would take less creativity than trying to find a new person worthy of the spot (though I could think of a few -- Mick Foley, J.R., and Chris Jericho for starters!). This could have been one of the better non-wrestling feuds, but Vince lost interest almost immediately.
I know you're going to tell me there are more Raw feuds than Smackdown feuds listed here. That's because the activity on Smackdown revolves around a steadily-shrinking group of people. (Batista, for example.) Anyway, if you think I've forgotten anything significant, or you just want to say hi, send your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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