Re: WWE: The Evolution Of Greed
~WWE.COM EXCLUSIVE UPDATE~
With the last image of 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin on Friday Night Smackdown seeing 'The Texas Rattlesnake' being loaded into the back of an ambulance, wwe.com has been trying all weekend to get word of Austin's condition. Having spoken to officials in the Grand Rapids hospital Austin was taken to, we can confirm that Austin checked himself out of hospital just a few hours ago, but against strong medical advice. As of this moment, Austin is not present in Ford Field, leading to the WWE Board of Directors scrambling to find a replacement. With Wrestlemania just a few short hours away, and with no 'Stone Cold' in sight, it seems the odds are once again stacked against John Cena... perhaps more so than ever before?
Expect further updates on this situation during the live, one hour Wrestlemania XXIII preview show only available on wwe.com!
~News, Notes and Spoilers~
(Wrestlemania XXIII T-minus 3 hours and counting.)
As the WWE head towards Wrestlemania XXIII, spirits are high within the locker-room as the roster appear confident in delivering a strong showing, with Vince McMahon personally dragging several members of roster into his office to encourage them to deliver 'career making performances' tonight. But while everybody is pulling towards making the show the best they can, several decisions with regards to the outcomes of several matches still remain up in the air.
One such match is the World Heavyweight Championship Match between Batista and Edge. The creative team are set to be split between Batista retaining or crowning Edge the new champion, with strong arguments being made on both sides. While wrestling historians would point out that the last time a true heel won the Royal Rumble then went onto challenge for a title at Wrestlemania was Shawn Michaels in 1995, many feel that the outcome could be different this time with Edge succeeding where Michaels failed, added to the fact that lately the Royal Rumble winner has gone on to win the championship at Wrestlemania. However, the argument has been made that Batista would lose a serious amount of momentum given the way Edge has dominated much of the build for the match. Added to the fact that the feud looks likely to continue either way, a win for Batista would seem the most logical. But there are still plenty of scenarios being considered, especially that of Edge winning, Chris Benoit winning the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, and then cashing in straight after Edge's victory to give a Wrestlemania feel good moment.
Speaking of Benoit, it emerged over the weekend that he is talking about calling an end to his career at some point during the spring or summer, so much so that Benoit has been heard to say that he’s hoping his last Wrestlemania sees him go out with a bang. This would also tie in to the promo Benoit cut a few weeks ago on Smackdown where he questioned how much longer he had left in the wrestling business. A highly respected veteran backstage and with the office, serious consideration has been given to letting Benoit win the Money in the Bank tonight and then cash in the title in the near future for one last run with the gold before he heads off into the sunset. It appears that after working such an intense style for so many years, Benoit is gearing up for one last push, with many seeing it starting tonight at Wrestlemania.
Besides Benoit, there are plenty of supporters backstage for Montel Vontavious Porter to leave Detroit as Mr. Money in the Bank. Despite only debuting just over six months ago, 'MVP' has been on a meteoric rise on Smackdown, engaging in feuds with both The Undertaker and Kane so far in his young career. Indeed, 'MVP' was considered as an early front-runner to face Batista at No Way Out until Mr. Kennedy was promoted to the role. Despite having cooled in recent weeks, 'MVP' is considered a major candidate to leave with the briefcase, allowing a new star to be created tonight. One factor that may work against 'MVP' is the desire for new faces to be promoted on the blue brand, with an abundance of heels already in place. With Benoit looking to step aside, Undertaker set to take time off over the summer, and Rey Mysterio still a few months away from being back, there have been serious calls for Jeff Hardy to be given the briefcase and make a quick jump over to Smackdown. One potential scenario being discussed is having Hardy grab the briefcase, Edge win tonight, Hardy defend the briefcase against Randy Orton at Backlash, then cash in on Edge soon after, bringing an instant injection of freshness to the main event scene on Friday nights.
So far, the winner of the WWE Championship Triple Threat Match is still very much in the air. Creative have done their best go give each participant of the match, Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Rob Van Dam, an episode of Raw where they’ve come out on top. With each man having ended an episode of Raw in the ascendency, the belief is that anybody could leave Detroit as champion, with Vince McMahon himself still debating who to go forward with as the main man on Raw. Many are pushing for Van Dam to win, finally establishing him as a true WWE main eventer, although with Michaels and Triple H having so much stroke backstage, it could easily be one of the two former D-Generation X members who leaves Detroit with the gold, allowing them to conclude their own feud with a battle for the WWE Championship. One grave concern with taking the title off of Michaels is that his reign has only lasted eight weeks thus far. With Michaels another one considering his long term future with the company, and with so much happiness from both Michaels and the creative team over his recent gimmick change, Michaels final title run as champion could be set to be extended for at least another month or so.
Nothing less than a win for Mr. Kennedy tonight is expected, with Kennedy set to emerge as a major star on Smackdown over the summer. In stark contrast to the heated nature of their feud, Kennedy and Flair have actually became close off camera, with Vince McMahon personally telling Kennedy and Flair to travel together this last month or so, allowing Kennedy to pick the brain of 'The Nature Boy'. Knowing that at this stage of his career Flair can lose and still be as over as ever with the crowd, Flair appears more than happy to put Kennedy over, establishing him as a bona-fide star. With no rematch scheduled between the two, and given the emotional nature of the feud, Flair is scheduled to take a month off from Raw, allowing him to re-emerge fresh after Backlash. Indeed, Flair is set to play a part in one of the major undercard feuds on Raw over the spring, while Kennedy chases the gold on Smackdown.
Two matches set to lose time on the show are the Cruiserweight and Women's Championship Matches. Although right now both are set to result in title changes, calls have been made for the champions in each match, Gregory Helms and Mickie James, to retain. Regardless of the outcomes, both feuds are set to continue in some shape or another, meaning that any potential title changes could be held off until single brand pay per views where more time could be allocated to them. However, with both Bryan Danielson and Beth Phoenix only having debuted in the last few months, the original plan is for both to win tonight to fully establish them both as the new faces of their respective divisions, especially in the case of Danielson.
Another match with no questions over the outcome is that of The Undertaker against Umaga. While the outcome isn't in doubt, Undertaker is determined to do all he can to put over how much of a threat Umaga can be heading forward. Indeed, despite defeat tonight, Umaga is poised for a charge at the World Heavyweight Championship over the summer, regardless of who the champion may be. Indeed, The Undertaker may be billed as the only man to score a victory over Umaga for the foreseeable future, and a possible rematch would almost certainly see Umaga come out on top. Both men are determined to put on a dramatic match though, one capable of stealing the show, with plenty of near falls, but ultimately, it will be 'The Phenom' who prevails.
Elsewhere, there hasn't been much given away regarding the outcomes of the Intercontinental or United States Championship Matches. Matt Hardy seems all but a certainty to beat Finlay, resulting in a great Wrestlemania moment for the less successful Hardy brother, while Carlito seems to be in line to finally extract revenge for the treatment of Torrie Wilson at the hands of Dykstra this last month or so. Opinion is also split on the tag team showcase, with two very distinct arguments being made for both The Hooligans and The World's Greatest Tag Team to win. Having been the team to make the original challenge, Haas and Benjamin are favoured to win, giving their boasts recently some real credence and meaning that when they eventually drop the gold on Raw, whatever team beats them will truly have beaten the best the WWE has to offer. However, London and Kendrick could also do with the win to add further heat to their upcoming feud with The New Breed. Either way, expect this one to be a real exciting mid card match, with all four men capable of producing great performances.
Work continues on the rebuilding project for the tag division. The Straight Edge Saints, Nitro and Masters and The Hart Legacy are all newly established teams on Raw, with The Redneck Wrecking Crew also being used more productively lately. On Smackdown, The New Breed are the next challengers for The Hooligans, while undercard feuds are in line for The Extremists and La Resistance, while The Bluebloods will continue to remain relevant and The Full Blooded Italians are well liked for the comic relief they can provide. Deuce and Domino are scheduled to be the next team called up from OVW, and new pairings of seldom used wrestles are being considered all the time. The same can be said of the Woman's and Cruiserweight divisions, with reinforcements being sought for both.
Perhaps the most discussed match on the card is the battle between John Cena and Bobby Lashley. With Vince McMahon heavily involved in the build-up, plus the addition of 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin to the equation, this one certainly has the most star power of any match on the card. The outcome of this match though heavily depends on which direction the WWE Championship takes. A Rob Van Dam win would almost guarantee a Lashley win, setting up a rematch between Van Dam and Lashley at Backlash, this time for the WWE Championship. However, should Michaels win, Cena would be perfectly poised to face either Michaels or Triple H post Backlash. One interesting note is the angle shot for last Friday's Smackdown, and the wwe.com article from earlier today, with Austin being removed from the match due to injury. While Austin is very much in Detroit and is set to play a part in the match, his role as Special Guest Referee may now go elsewhere. One surprising name in Detroit this weekend is that of Eric Bischoff, the former Raw General Manager backstage tonight after being away from the company for the last year or so. Rumours have emerged that McMahon and Bischoff have been on speaking terms lately, with Bischoff set to lend his opinions to an upcoming WCW documentary. Although it could be nothing, many people feel that Bischoff could be poised to make a shocking return to the company tonight as Austin's replacement, determined to screw Cena after the exit Bischoff made from Raw all those months ago, with Austin then appearing to make the save for Cena.
WWE Championship Triple Threat Match Match:
WWE Champion Shawn Michaels vs. 'The Game' Triple H vs. 'Mr. Monday Night' Rob Van Dam
World Heavyweight Championship Match:
World Heavyweight Champion Batista vs. 2007 Royal Rumble Winner Edge
The Irresistible Force vs. The Immovable Object:
'The Real Deal' Bobby Lashley vs. John Cena
Special Guest Referee: Steve Austin
Streak vs. Streak:
'The Phenom' The Undertaker vs. 'The Samoan Bulldozer' Umaga
Past vs. Future:
'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair vs. Mr. Kennedy
United States Championship Match:
United States Champion Finlay vs. Matt Hardy
Intercontinental Championship Match:
Intercontinental Champion Kenny Dykstra vs. Carlito
Tag Team Showcase Match: Champions vs. Champions
World Tag Team Champions The World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. WWE Tag Team Champions The Hooligans
Cruiserweight Championship Match:
Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms vs. Bryan Danielson
Women's Championship Match:
Women's Champion Mickie James vs. Beth Phoenix
Money in the Bank Ladder Match:
Entrants in Alphabetical Order:
Chris Benoit vs. CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Johnny Nitro vs. Kane vs. King Booker vs. Montel Vontavious Porter vs. Randy Orton
What will be the match order?
How many championships will change hands?
Who will take the fall in the Triple Threat Match?
Will there be any surprise appearances? If yes, then by who? Hall of Fame inductees don't count btw.
What will be the longest match?
What will be the shortest match?
How many pinfalls/submissions/other finishes will there be?