World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian
Since his unexpected heel turn at Payback after regaining the WHC from Dolph Ziggler, this Mexican superstar has never been more viciously compelling. After finally splitting with longtime personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez (who he brutally beat down on Raw last week after an accidental screw-up cost his boss a match), he can finally shine all on his own. Captain Charisma won a very good triple threat number one contender’s match against Randy Orton and Rob Van Dam on Smackdown to earn this long sought after opportunity.
Oddly, Del Rio and Christian have already squared off in a 20-minute non-title match on last week’s Smackdown with the challenger cleanly pinning the belt holder. And lest we forget, Christian won this title in a ladder match against the second generation superstar at Extreme Rules 2011 with a little help from Edge (who had just retired as champion after being told he would never be cleared to wrestle again due to severe injuries.)
Also, on the most recent edition of Raw, a career retrospective video package was shown of Christian’s entire time in WWE which ties in with the whole “one more match” theme that is now two years old. Does this mean Edge’s best friend is thinking of hanging up the boots regardless of what happens on Sunday? And then there’s the Ricardo factor. What role will he play in this encounter?
This is a hard one to predict because there are so many plausible finishes, one of which involves the possibility of Damien Sandow cashing in his WHC MITB contract on whoever is the champion. Del Rio is generating far more interest as a heel right now than he ever did as a babyface which isn’t entirely his fault. (He was atrociously booked at the start of it and never fully recovered.) However, this is his second WHC run this year and it might be time to drop the title already. (I suspect he’ll be wrestling his former ring announcer for a while.)
Meanwhile, I’m wondering what the bookers have planned for Christian short-term. Is this an unbilled retirement match, win, lose or draw, hence that aforementioned video package? Or is this leading to a longer title push which would make up for his two extremely short title runs two years ago?
Here’s what I think will happen. Rodriguez will screw his former boss, costing him the title. But then Del Rio will take out his frustrations on the new champion leaving him quite vulnerable. Out comes Damien Sandow with the briefcase. He cashes in. But out of nowhere, Cody Rhodes interferes costing him his surefire opportunity to win the title, setting up a possible Triple Threat or even Fatal 4-Way for Night Of Champions.
Prediction: Christian wins the World Heavyweight Championship by pinfall and survives a cash-in from Damien Sandow to retain.
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar
He was on the verge of making history. During the all-star MITB match last month, CM Punk was about to grab his unprecedented third suitcase guaranteeing him another crack at the WWE title. But his longtime friend and adviser Paul Heyman put a quick stop to that. The result? Oh, about a dozen staples in Punk’s head and a seriously wounded pride. Now out for revenge, especially after the former ECW founder sent out his no-necked goon Brock Lesnar to deliver an F5 to him on Raw, the stage is set for The Straight Edge Superstar to prove to Heyman that The Best can slay The Beast.
Hands down, this has been the most entertaining storyline heading into Sunday night. Superb mic work by all three, tremendously exhilarating physical interactions and most importantly, solid logic. When Punk returned to face Chris Jericho at Payback in June, Heyman almost cost him the match. The next night on Raw he told him they were still friends but he would handle business on his own. Clearly hurt, Heyman ordered Lesnar to do his dirty work. Then, after lying about it, he screwed him at Money In The Bank.
I’m actually surprised this one doesn’t have some kind of a stipulation like a No DQ or a Falls Count Anywhere deal. (Brutality should be the only item on this menu.) That said, even in this sometimes stifling PG environment, both men are more than capable of telling a good story within those limitations.
Unless a follow-up booking is in the works, expect The Best In The World to get his revenge.
Prediction: CM Punk wins by pinfall.
WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan with Special Guest Referee Triple H
Tell me if this sounds familiar to you. WWE Champion John Cena steps in the ring with the hottest babyface in the company to defend his title in front of a potentially hostile crowd in the second biggest pay-per-view of the year. Officiating the match is a former foe. Watching in the background hoping to take advantage of any potential vulnerability is the holder of the red Money In The Bank briefcase.
It sounds like I’m describing the main event of this year’s SummerSlam but I’m actually talking about SummerSlam 2011. At the time, CM Punk was also the WWE Champion who had temporarily left the company after winning the title from Cena at MITB. After Rey Mysterio won a tournament to become the new champion on Raw, he granted Cena a rematch that same night which led to another title change. Punk returned right after that victory with his belt and a unification bout was soon set.
Who was the special guest referee for their rematch? Triple H.
Alberto Del Rio would find an opportunity after the controversial finish, thanks to Kevin Nash’s sneak attack on Punk, to cash in his red MITB briefcase to become the new undisputed WWE Champion.
This year, it’s Daniel Bryan replacing Punk and Randy Orton replacing Del Rio, but all the other elements remain the same which makes one wonder if we’re in for a repeat performance.
Here’s why I don’t think it will actually happen. One, it’s too obvious. Two, Bryan is ready to be the champion for more than just a few seconds. Three, it’s too soon for Orton to cash in. (He hasn’t fully transitioned into a heel just yet.) There may be a tease like we saw on Raw recently but…anyway, think about this. While putting the belt on Orton right after Cena loses would no doubt earn him incredible heat it would also remind fans of Bryan’s shockingly quick loss to Sheamus for the WHC at WrestleMania 28. That moment officially began the “Yes!” chant mania that remains to this day. Put simply, it meant that the audience was rejecting the WWE’s decision to book Bryan so weakly. Thankfully, the loss didn’t affect his standing one iota. In fact, thanks to his program with Punk and his tag title run with Kane, he became an even bigger star.
Smart promoters listen to the people. Certainly, the LA crowd will be red hot for this match (the champion and challenger have performed brilliantly on the microphone to hype it) and it will be a golden opportunity for Bryan to achieve the same dream his friend CM Punk realized two years ago at Money In The Bank.
The question is how will he win? Three words: The Yes Lock.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan wins the WWE Championship by submission.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, August 15, 2013
UPDATE: First, the good news. I correctly predicted that Bray Wyatt would beat Kane, that Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn would triumph over Big E. Langston & AJ Lee and that Daniel Bryan would win the WWE title (although I wrongly said The Beard would do it by submission rather than the actual pinfall that happened). Pretty much everything else I got completely wrong. Alberto Del Rio retained his World Heavyweight Championship, Brock Lesnar beat CM Punk in a No Disqualification match (which means this feud will continue which I foolishly didn’t anticipate; I thought this was a one-and-out deal), Cody Rhodes defeated his former friend Damien Sandow, and Natalya went over Brie Bella (I was expecting a Double DQ). Now, even though Rob Van Dam won by Disqualification against Dean Ambrose (which I didn’t predict), The Shield leader did retain the United States title (which I did), so I’m counting that one. Also dead wrong was my assertion that Randy Orton wouldn’t cash in his Money In The Bank briefcase on Daniel Bryan because I felt it was too obvious. Thanks to Bryan being screwed by Triple H, he did. Once again, the WWE fucks over a shining star in his deserved moment of triumph and for what? Yet another Orton title run? Blech. Anyway, all in all, I went 4 for 8. This is such an awful score for me, it might be time to consider quitting making another prediction ever again. And that includes the Oscars. What a shameful performance on my part.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, August 18, 2013