Pre-show: Tag Team Championship – The Usos vs. The Shield
After successfully defending their titles against the bickering makeshift team of Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton at last month’s Payback, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns find themselves curiously demoted to the online pre-show prior to the fourth annual Money In The Bank pay-per-view this month. After winning a triple threat number one contender’s match on Raw a couple of weeks ago, the sons of Rikishi are next in line to make The Hounds of Justice look good. Despite some new war paint and their first high-profile title shot in ages, does anyone seriously see them pulling an upset here?
Prediction: The Shield retain the tag team titles by pinfall.
Chris Jericho vs. Ryback
Shortly after Big Hungry first began his controversial heel run the night after WrestleMania 29, Aftermath TV panelist Nug rechristened him “Cryback” because of all the complaining he was suddenly doing regarding his issues with John Cena and the three times he was legitimately screwed out of the WWE Championship. Coincidentally, just last week, Chris Jericho used that exact same word during a verbal confrontation with the bald monster as he urged the Raw audience to chant it along with him. Small minds think alike.
As a major supporter of Ryback, I am not at all thrilled with this. I mean, look at the man’s physique. He is chiselled beyond belief. Look at the way he demolishes his opponents in the ring. His patented meat hook clothesline alone is so stiff, even I can feel it. Furthermore, his year-long babyface catchphrase was “Feed me more!”. In summary, he’s a beast oozing with intensity. So, why is the WWE booking him to be such a powerless wimp?
On this week’s Raw, Ryback forfeited his right to continue in a forgettable match with The Miz thanks to a kayfabe knee injury that supposedly prevented him from continuing. (Miz was ultimately setting him up for the figure-four leglock.) Was the plan here to have him fool Y2J (who was sitting in on commentary during the match) into thinking he was hurt so later on he could sucker him into a humiliating loss at Money In The Bank? (Not exactly an original idea. Didn’t Bret Hart do something slightly similar to Vince McMahon three years ago?) Or is he pulling a CM Punk by legitimately fearing a fight with Jericho?
I don’t like either option. I also don’t like the way this match was booked in the first place. Ryback complained about not getting a rematch with Cena and Jericho complained about not being included in any of the MITB ladder matches he helped create. So, Raw’s figurehead-of-the-moment Vicki Guerrero put them in a one-on-one match instead. Gee, that makes sense.
All that being said, who will win? As I’ve said before, Jericho is in the Pedro Morales phase of his career right now. Basically, occasional wins here and there aside, he mostly puts over worthy members of the next generation in high-profile matches without hurting his legacy one iota. And I suspect that will continue at MITB.
Prediction: Ryback rules.
InterContinental Title Match: Curtis Axel vs. The Miz
At Payback, The Miz had InterContinental Champion Wade Barrett on the verge of submitting to his figure-four leglock when the son of Mr. Perfect simultaneously covered the former Nexus leader to snag the title. With the former three-time champion now out of this scenario, Miz gets his one-on-one rematch with Paul Heyman’s latest client at MITB.
I remember the days when Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat (or Greg Valentine and Tito Santana, for that matter) would practically try to kill each other for this belt. Now, it feels utterly unimportant. That’s the fault of the bookers who keep making holders of this championship lose way too many non-title matches cleanly, something that rarely if ever happened in the past.
Honestly, is anyone truly excited about this match-up? Miz sucks as a face despite being a good worker and if it wasn’t for Heyman in his corner (and that awesome entrance music), would anyone care about his third generation opponent?
Miz has already held this title twice, the last time just for a day. So, what good would it do to have win it yet again? Better to keep it on the former Michael McGillicuty and see what he can do with this surprising championship push he’s getting.
Prediction: Curtis Axel retains the InterContinental title by pinfall.
Divas Championship: AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn
After falling prey to the black widow at Payback, “man arms” gets her rematch against “the crazy chick”. AJ Lee is a tremendously underrated performer who never fails to impress me on the microphone with her often humourously brutal putdowns of her former tag team partner. Despite being the smallest woman on the roster, she’s also quite good in the ring, most especially with bumping. (Too bad her championship belt doesn’t quite fit her tiny waist.)
Kaitlyn is another good worker – very strong and quick, not unlike the much-missed Beth Phoenix – who, try as she may, can’t quite compare on the stick. Following AJ’s expected title victory at Payback, both have been continuing to take the usual verbal shots at each other with the new champion clearly having the edge. I do wonder, though, if the constant implication that AJ is a slut (without using the actual word) is really appropriate for an allegedly PG-rated wrestling show. I also wonder if it’s terribly fair. The character has done nothing more than make out with guys. Even if things did go further sexually, so what? If guys like The Godfather, Ric Flair and Val Venis, among many others, could get away with it, why can’t women like AJ? It’s more than a little sexist, especially when it’s talked about constantly by the annoyingly tittering Raw commentators.
At any event, flaws aside, it’s nice to see an actual female feud worth caring about for once. The question is where does this story go from here? AJ won the Divas title with a clean submission victory last month. Will Kaitlyn spear her way back to the top at MITB? Probably not. Since there literally is no one else worth pairing with AJ at the moment, there’s gotta be at least one more pay-per-view match with Kaitlyn in the works, most likely for SummerSlam. Therefore, considering the running theme of this feud, expect Kaitlyn to cost herself the championship by letting her anger get the better of her.
Prediction: AJ Lee retains the Divas Championship by disqualification.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, July 3, 2013