WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011, the latest installment in THQ's best-selling wrestling game franchise, is set to be released this week. So what has that got to do with our preview on Bragging Rights Pay-Per-View (PPV), taking place tonight at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota?
Well, the event shared the very same concept as the game's literal namesake, and is conspicuously a promotional piece for the game.
With this preview for the latest WWE PPV, Bragging Rights, we have come full circle since our very first inauguration preview for last year's Bragging Rights.
With the event, WWE finally comes to the end of their insanely hectic series early this Fall, with the next PPV, Survivor Series scheduled on November 21st. It is therefore, perfectly understandable the event will likely be a major blow-off episode to many of ongoing storylines now. However, it certainly doesn't seemed so, based on how these match-ups are being booked. More on that later.
The hectic schedules have certainly impedes the writers' ability (if any) to properly build up anticipation for the matches, and the recent stupendous "Stand Up For WWE" propaganda campaign provided the last nail on the coffin. Seemingly uninterested in putting more time to promote the event, Vince McMahon has kicked off a largely tantrum-based campaign against the recent negative press coverage as a backlash of his wife, Linda McMahon's Senate run. The entire fiasco is so utterly ludicrous that we better not go at length into it but the fact that it has to some extent, affected my viewing pleasure (if any) while watching the weekly shows is telling of the sheer lack of focus WWE had on any demographics (I bet the kids are as dumbfounded as anyone not following dumbass politics), PGTV or not.
Back to the event, so just what is Bragging Rights all about?
Well, just like what we mentioned about the train-wreck PPV we had last year, it can hardly get more literal than this: It's for the bragging rights between the wrestlers from Raw and Smackdown, which effectually means nothing. Yes, absolutely nothing is at stake here. As if an additional slap in the face is needed for wrestling fans to be mocked by those "holier-than-thou" types, we are supposed to be excited over a mock-up scripted match with no motivation whatsoever being plotted. If there is this issue of pride, have you ever seen any SmackDown Superstar bragging about this so-called "Bragging Rights" trophy they have won last year? If there were indeed a stronger separate identification between the two shows, there could still be a shot for this to work. But with Superstars traveling back and forth between the two shows at ease throughout the entire year, there isn't really sense of brand loyalty to be felt. The only way for this "Bragging Rights" to be worth something, anything, would be to make it actually count. Be it an additional reward of ensuring the brand who won will get a shot at the main event of WrestleMania or something along the lines of that.
With Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho involved in last year's "WWE Bragging Rights Tag Team Match", it didn't suck as hard as it could have been. And now, with the severely diminished line-ups, is there any chance of this match being actually watchable?
Meanwhile we have the two obligated World title match-ups. On the Raw end, Cena, now a full-fledged member of the diabolical Nexus (to a mostly entertaining effect to us, but outrightly depressing for some), is on a mission to help his boss, Wade Barrett to defeat Orton. Over at SmackDown, the (seemingly) eternal battle between the Brothers of Destruction continues, likely, to a concluding chapter.
Over at our prediction's accuracy department, discounting our choice of Michelle McCool going over Natalya (as it turned out LayCool lost by disqualification thus keeping the title), we hit a pretty impressive hit rate of a 4/5 score. Let see if we can maintain our accuracy with this one. On to the show.
WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett (with John Cena)
With the story of this match-up firmly set on two Superstars (one of whom is not even actively in the match-up), the WWE Champion, Randy Orton and, unfortunately, his WWE Championship, becomes largely an afterthought.
That said, Barrett is improving surprisingly well both in terms of in-ring presence and mic skills, putting him in quite an enviable position to main event a WWE PPV. The match between Orton and Barrett should be relatively intense, but beset with this problem called Cena. Not that I have a problem with his promos, in-ring abilities or whatever (I do have), but with this storyline in place, everyone knew for sure that the finish had to be related with Cena, one way or the other. And that will no doubt greatly diminished the interest.
Predicted Winner: Wade Barrett
I'm making a bold guess here, as the easy way out of this booking would be some kind of a non-finish. It could be Cena "accidentally" hitting Orton or the referee, or a screw-up interference on the part of probably Otunga or one of the Nexus lackeys. There is just so many ways to achieve the easy effect. However, the pros of a surprise Barrett win outweighs its cons. Firstly, Orton, while tremendously over right now, is more effective as a lone wolf on a title hunt. Meanwhile, Barrett as a champion, greatly boosted the gradually dying threat of The Nexus, and with a reluctant Cena being a bodyguard to both him and his title reign, makes further mileage. A new, powerful heel who happens to be the World Champion, and the leader of a threatening heel faction, naturally has more potential.
And for everything else, there's this poster for the next PPV, Survivor Series.
World Heavyweight Champion Kane vs. The Undertaker
When we alluded earlier that the match-up between The Undertaker and Kane being an "eternal battle", we freaking meant it. Who would have thought that this renewed rivalry that lasted (sporadically) for the past thirteen years would be into its very third incarnation three PPVs in?
So, ladies and gentlemen, we present to you the sixth hundred and sixty-eight match-up between the Brothers of Destruction.
For your info, I strongly regarded the stupendous finish of the Hell in a Cell title match the most awful finish of the year. Paul Bearer flashing some cheapskate torchlight in his fucking urn at Taker and the Deadman goes all weak-in-the-knee and stuff for Kane to finish him? Check the low quality video below for this incredibly ridiculous footage.
Buried Alive Match has never appealed to me regardless who's in it. Expect yet another nauseating punch/kick showcase.
Predicted Winner: The Undertaker
For the record, despite his namesake, The Undertaker has never win a Buried Alive Match. Not even one with Vinve McMahon as his opponent (Survivor Series 2003). While a Kane victory is likely, in order to ensure yet another vacation for The Undertaker (just so that he can reemerge in WrestleMania, fully rested), a straight three PPV defeats in the career of the Deadman is certainly unthinkable. For a lack of other reason, I'm betting on The Undertaker for this one, despite my opinion that there is more to gain from Kane's victory.
Team Raw vs. Team SmackDown (WWE Bragging Rights Tag Team Elimination Match)
Team SmackDown, led by captain, Big Show, along with Rey Mysterio, Jack Swagger, Alberto Del Rio, Edge, Tyler Reks and Kofi Kingston (complete with a team mascot, Hornswoggle!), will be going against Team Raw, led by captain, The Miz, with R-Truth, John Morrison, Santino Marella, Sheamus, CM Punk and Ezekiel Jackson.
The eponymous Bragging Rights Tag Team Elimination Match. Talk about an overkill. We have had two Fatal 4-Way matches at Fatal 4-Way, two eight-man ladder matches at Money in the Bank, a seven-on-seven elimination match at SummerSlam, a six-pack challenge at Night of Champions, and now yet another seven-on-seven elimination match. For fans of over-booked matches like such, don't expect the trend to die off any time soon with next month's Survivor Series, a PPV traditionally known for its big elimination tag matches.
While one might argue that massive matches as such are a way to ensure more exposure for Superstars lower down the card, the lack of motivation and build-up will no doubt negate any potential advantages as a results. And that is evidently so with this one. What with both teams comprising of a mixture of babyfaces and heels, with no common interest and nothing in particular to gain from any outcome.
Match quality-wise, this should be fun enough if booked the correct way.
Predicted Winners: Team Raw
Hell, I'm all about bold choices today.
With SmackDown being booked as the stronger team with bigger names, the facts would seem to inclined to yet another victory for the B Team (well, they are after all, from the B show, while those from Team Raw are taking part as they are currently having not bound to any particular feud). It has been well-documented that SmackDown do win such brand contest like, four times out of five.
However, with bigger names come bigger feuds and opportunities. The team is mainly consisted of teammates currently in a feud. Edge is likely to be cancelled out by Swagger, and likewise for Mysterio and Del Rio. We are then left with Big Show, Tyler Reks and Kofi Kingston. While it remains likely that Reks might just get to eliminate few of those from Team Raw, we can be pretty certain that both Reks and Kingston are here to be eliminated mostly.
For Team Raw, we have a fast-rising future main eventer in The Miz, an already established main eventer, Sheamus (who might still need some further cementing as one though), a comparably slow-rising John Morrison, a probably game-changing CM Punk, and Ezekiel Jackson, who is likely to be built into the next power-bomb guy*. Observed carefully how I omitted R-Truth and Santino Marella.
In summary, Team SmackDown will implode and destroy itself while Team Raw just reaped on the seeds of destruction.
* A power-bomb guy is in my dictionary, the likes of Vladimir Kozlov, John Heidenreich, Tyson Tomko, and Rob Terry. In short, they are those big, muscular type, usually blessed/cursed with a limited inventory of moves (mainly, their moves consisted of power-bomb) and a short career. Their career usually begin with some kind of undefeated run filled with god-awful squash matches the likes of Goldberg's. When they reaches the part of their career when they are facing off with the real deal, they usually lost and either move on to become a comedic act (Kozlov, for example), or just wither away. There's tons of this kind of wrestlers throughout the eras, and trust me when I say that there will be more.
United States Champion Daniel Bryan vs. Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler (Non-Title Match)
Yet another inconsequential match where the prize is the ever-elusive Bragging Rights. Nonetheless, the likely show-stealer of the show. Expect some intense actions from quite possibly the two most talented youth of both shows.
Predicted Winner: Dolph Ziggler
While I remain positive over the prospect of this match actually being the best of the night, the finish might just not be, what with the ongoing "cougar" storyline with Vickie Guerrero at the corner of Ziggler.
That said, the result of this match-up is in fact a reflection on which team might come out on top in the "Bragging Rights" match. With my money firmly on Team Raw to win, I'll have to bet on Bryan to lose. Having three back-to-back impressive PPV showings, he can just afford to with this one.
Self-professed "Co-Divas Champion" Layla vs. Natalya
Last month's match between McCool and Natalya turned out to be quite a downer, being much worse than I expected, complete with one hell of a crappy finish. Disqualification by show-throwing, anyone? (Looks like both Mr. and Mrs. Undertaker were victims of shitty finish last PPV.)
With Layla in the mix on this one, you can expect worse.
Predicted Winners: Layla
With rampant rumor over the return of Beth Phoenix to posed an actual threat to the ever-dominating LayCool, I'm afraid that this one's only here for filler purpose to keep the title mildly warm.
Unfortunately, I don't hold any hope for this one. Apart from the story development over The Nexus angle, this PPV just doesn't hold much interest, not unlike last year's outing.
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