2006: A Sports-Entertainment Odyssey

I GOTTA SAY THIS

2006: A Sports-Entertainment Odyssey

February 5, 2006 – by Brad Dykens

This is a follow-up to the two previous years:
2005: A Sport’s Entertainment Odyssey
2004: A Sport’s Entertainment Odyssey

This time of year, every wrestling fan (or mark, let’s face it we’re all marks) has their opinions on what SHOULD happen in the upcoming new year in the wrestling world. Every single fan thinks they have the answer to each and every problem plaguing the industry. I’m not going to say I could fix all the problems, but I have a few suggestions that might lead to a more entertaining 365 days. The dawn of every wrestling new year is flooded with discussions of one event–WrestleMania! Agree if you will, disagree if you must, but for the love of God, edit your comments before you send them in!

WRESTLEMANIA XXII: WrestleMania 22…. Big Time! Is it just me or does the WWE claim each WrestleMania is bigger than the last? Why should I buy this one if it’s only going to be topped next year? I’m just kidding. The funny thing is, it didn’t get any bigger than WrestleMania 3, and they have not been able to top that effort since. I feel very differently about WWE than I did at this time last year. My mind was back-and-forth about what sorts of things I might see at the big PPV. Everything seemed somewhat predictable two months prior to going on the air; but this year it seems like they’re going to be developing and changing the plot all the way up to the last minute. This, in my opinion, is unfortunate since most of the best Manias included programs (storylines) with a two or three month build up – even up to a full year build, such was the case of Hulk vs.. Mach at WrestleMania V. It is now after Royal Rumble and we’re still not even sure who will challenge for either title. Well not unless you’re an annoying internet smark — like me. I usually write my Odyssey column before Royal Rumble, but I decided to wait after Rumble this year because my predictions always made me look foolish. The twisted irony here is that I actually did predict Rey Mysterio to win the Royal Rumble. Kurt Angle retaining the World title was a formality. Edge dropping the title really pissed me off initially, but I decided to have faith in WWE that they have something worth while planned to justify their decision to remove the belt from a guy who increased ratings during his short three week reign on top. Part of my feeling different this year stems from an eerie newly developed faith in WWE. I find myself enjoying things that traditionally turned me off. I actually like the Boogeyman. I think Mark Henry has done a good job since he returned (with the exception of injuring Batista). And perhaps most disturbing, I think the Spirit Squad is cool. Maybe it’s true what they say; watching WWE does make you dumb. Or maybe I just gave up on hating the stuff Vince feeds me, and decided to just be a fan and enjoy it. We may never know, but it sure does feel good to enjoy WWE again. Don’t get me wrong though; there is still plenty about WWE that discourages me. More on that later.

WRESTLEMANIA XXII MATCH POSSIBILITIES (IF I WAS IN CHARGE):

MATCH #1 (PRE-SHOW): For the last two years, I have pitched this idea, and WWE has repeatedly ignored it. That’s right, Howard Finkel, I know you’re reading this! I would put a 30-Man Invitational Battle Royal on the pre-show, with the winner getting a match against a mystery opponent on the WrestleMania PPV. Of course for this to come off well, you need a good mystery opponent. The only name that pops into my mind is Brock Lesnar. There are only positives to this suggestion, and it sure would be more entertaining than a Tyson Tomko vs.. Simon Dean match on the pre-show. A lot of people I suggested this to agree that it was an excellent idea, and helped get over the fact that every wrestler wanted to be on WrestleMania. Okay, so I can’t just pitch and idea and not say what I would do if I was in charge. In a perfect world, I would make the mystery opponent Brock Lesnar or The Rock, but that’s not going to happen. So I’ll go with something more realistic. I would make the mystery opponent Fit Finlay, and have William Regal win the Battle Royal. William Regal vs.. Fit Finlay is a dream match for me. So I would be booking this for selfish reasons. So sue me. Dusty does it so I’m going to do it, too!

MATCH #2 (CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE): WWE is starting to have faith in their little guys, and NO, I’m not referring to the Junior Division. The Cruiserweight Division was featured on the first match of Royal Rumble. The wrestlers were granted the right to work Cruiserweight style, and many who watched considered the match a show-stealer. I have always been adamant that they put the Cruiserweights on first, to get the viewing audience pumped for the rest of the card. This year I am proposing a 4-WAY for the Cruiserweight title between Gregory Helms, Paul London, Jamie Noble and Psicosis. Unleash their talents and let them bounce around the ring and get the people on their feet. Let them fly, let them bump, let them make our hearts thump (I’m a poet and don’t even know it). I would have Gregory Helms retain his championship by pinning Psicosis while Jamie Noble had Paul London tapping out to the Dragon Sleeper. Have the referee not see the tap out. Thus setting up Helms vs.. Noble in the future.

MATCH #3 (SD! TAG TITLES): MNM is the best Tag Team the WWE has created in probably five years. In fact, the best Tag Teams within that time have all been products of Ohio Valley Wrestling. So with that said I’d bring back The Basham Brothers. Hey what the heck have they done since they were split up? Nothing. The Bashams vs. Mercury & Nitro would be a flashback to excellent tag matches of the past. I would have The Basham Brothers bring in a Basham Sister to counter Melina Perez. How about Angel Williams, she has the look of a Basham family member. I would book the Bashams to capture the Tag Team titles but the feud would continue afterwards.

MATCH #4 (BATTLE OF THE GIANTS): Okay, every year I make one or two incy wincy little predictions that are so crazy that you will begin to question my sanity (as if you haven’t already). They sorta started to build this at Royal Rumble when Bobby Lashley went head-to-head with both The Big Show & Kane and actually got some good offense in before getting the double choke slam from hell and getting tossed. I would have Big Show & Kane go on a heelish rampage, claiming nobody was on their ‘level'; Meanwhile have Bobby Lashley over on SD! begging Theodore Long to arrange an inter-promotional match. Here’s the crazy part. Bring in Bob Sapp to be Bobby Lashley’s partner. Just close your eyes for a moment and imagine The Big Show & Kane standing nose-to-nose with Bobby Lashley & Bob Sapp — Insanity!! Bob Sapp’s appearance would be like Akebono’s last year (except not boring). This would be a Non-title match. Bobby Lashley & Bob Sapp would win…….

MATCH #5 (WOMEN’S TITLE): This may very well be the best built match of the show. Trish Stratus vs.. Mickie James has been in the works ever since Mickie debuted in the WWE. They have done a great job building up Mickie James as an obsessive psycho. Trish Stratus has been Women’s Champion for almost 15 months so I’d say it was time for a change. I have to admit I was pretty sure WWE would botch Alexis Laree’s career but they have definitely made a star out of her. Now if we could only get a Mickie vs.. Molly match I’d be in heaven!

MATCH #6 (WILDCARD MATCH): The outcome of the HEAT BATTLE ROYAL would have William Regal winning at the end. His mystery opponent would be his old nemesis Fit Finlay. Imagine the facial expressions on Regal’s face when he realizes he has to face the man who put him through hell many years ago.

MATCH #7 (CASKET MATCH): The Undertaker vs.. Mark Henry with Daivari. Basically let’s put Mark Henry in the Casket never to be heard from or seen again. I think the interesting factor here is Daivari going up against The Undertaker after their storied history together. After Mark Henry was locked in the Casket, have Undertaker go after Daivari. I think it would be an interesting development if Muhammad Hassan returned to save Daivari and re-ignite his feud with The Undertaker and get revenge for the past.

MATCH #8 (US TITLE MATCH): By the time WrestleMania rolls around, Booker T should have dropped the United States title to Chris Benoit. This will be yet another selfish booking decision on my part, as I love it when these two wrestle. Chris Benoit would defend the US Championship against John Bradshaw Layfield, who would revert back to his “Great American” gimmick trying to liberate the United States title from the low life Canadian! Can you imagine JBL doing his border patrol skits, except this time doing it on the US/CAN border. How funny would that be, WWE exploiting the recent news about the US/MEX border crossing issues? Before you send your hate mail, you should know that I am Canadian. As an added attraction to the match, I’d have Mr. Kennedy do the ring announcing, because they are obviously lining him up to face Benoit in the future.

MATCH #9 (INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH): I love Ric Flair. I think he’s the greatest wrestler ever. But he’s done nothing for the Intercontinental Title since he won it. There has been a sub-plot brewing on RAW between Carlito Cool and Chris Masters. I would build them up as a team for the month leading up to the PPV, but have them tease dissension on a weekly basis. Then announce a triple threat between those two and Intercontinental Champion Ric Flair. Everything would be smooth for Carlito & Masters up until the RAW just before Mania, where they would snap and attack each other. They would kiss and make up on the Mania pre-show, but of course it would backfire during the match. The finish would come when Masters had Flair in the Masterlock, and Carlito would double cross Masters for the 3rd time and hit him with a foreign object and steal the pin on Flair to win the IC belt! This leads to a feud between Carlito and Chris Masters (babyface), with Masters winning the IC title eventually. Because let’s face it, Masters needs a title NOW!

MATCH #10 (MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH): They mentioned on RAW that the Money In The Bank Ladder match would return this year. YES! I would go one step further and make it an inter-promotional match with three guys from RAW and three guys from SD!. Rob Van Dam, Shelton Benjamin and Spirit Squad member Ken Doane would represent RAW and Rey Mysterio, Matt Hardy, and Brian Kendrick would represent SD!. Let’s face it; this match is made for Rob Van Dam. But I find it hard to imagine a babyface carrying the “briefcase” gimmick. They could blow it on RVD and have him call in his title shot immediately or give it to Shelton Benjamin, who was the star of last years Ladder match. I stuck Ken Doane in there because he is a star in the making and this could be his break out performance. The other possibility would be Rey Mysterio, so they could give him his shot that he rightfully won at Royal Rumble. I’m not sure whom I’d book to win this match, how about you tell me what you think? Send feedback.

MATCH #11 (SUPER GRUDGE MATCH): Shawn Michaels vs.. Vince McMahon with Shane McMahon as the referee. At this point we’re still not sure if HBK will be facing Vince or Shane. I’d make it Vince. I keep thinking about that Royal Rumble commercial when Shanicus stabbed Vince Caesar in the back. There has got to be a point where the character of Mr. McMahon goes away forever. I think, no I hope, Shane McMahon stabs his daddy in the back and helps Shawn Michaels win and thus brings in a new era for WWE. Stop rolling your eyes at me, I warned you beforehand that my predictions often made me look foolish!

MATCH #12 (GRUDGE MATCH): Edge w/Lita vs.. Mick Foley (as Cactus Jack) — I don’t even know how they’re going to build this match. I’m not sure I’d do it if I was in charge but from what I hear it’s going to happen. I had originally booked Edge to win the Money in the Bank Ladder match for the second year in a row. I’m not going to speculate on this match. But it should be decent since both men are notoriously adamant about putting on well-booked matches.

On an unrelated note, I think I always kinda envisioned Mick Foley wrestling as Dude Love in at least one match against Shawn Michaels. Maybe they’ll do that next year, or at another PPV in 2006.

MATCH #13 (LEGENDS MATCH): Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs.. Stone Cold Steve Austin — Personally I don’t think this is going to happen. They wanted to at one point but I think it was thrown in the trash months ago. But you never know. It really doesn’t matter who wins. But I know at least one of them wouldn’t do the match if he weren’t booked to win.

MATCH #14 (WORLD TITLE MATCH): While I would much rather see Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio. I guess it’s the right time for Randy Orton to be challenging for the World title. I’m just not sure Kurt Angle and Randy Orton will have chemistry together. I’m afraid that they are thinking of putting the belt on Randy Orton. I just don’t think he’s ready for it. I also fear that if they do put it on Randy, they will bring back Cowboy Bob to cheat and help Randy win it. When you have a young rising star like Randy Orton it just cheapens everything when he has to cheat to win it the first time – even if he IS a heel. So I’m going to book Kurt Angle to retain the World title, simply because I think it’s cheesy to change both titles on the same night. Which brings me to the WWE title match.

MATCH #15 (WWE TITLE MATCH): Let’s recap. They let a guy run with the title for 10 months and the fans turned on him, so they gave it to a guy who increased ratings for three weeks and then took it off of him and gave it back to the guy the fans hate. Now they’re going to give it to a guy who consistently decreased ratings over the last 4 years. How did I end up in bizzaro World? I think Paula Abdul had this match in mind when she wrote the lyrics “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.” While I don’t agree with Triple H being champion, I do understand that he is better than John Cena right now. But dammit Edge should STILL be Champion!

  • HEAT: 30 Man Battle Royal for spot on the WMXI Card against a mystery opponent (Fit Finlay);
  • CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE 4-WAY: Gregory Helms vs. Jamie Noble vs. Paul London vs. Psicosis;
  • SD! TAG TITLES: MNM (Mercury & Nitro) vs. The Basham Brothers;
  • RAW TAG TITLES: The Big Show & Kane vs. Bobby Lashley & Bob Sapp;
  • WOMANS TITLE MATCH: Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James;
  • WILDCARD MATCH: Fit Finlay vs. William Regal (Battle Royal Winner);
  • CASKET MATCH: The Undertaker vs. Mark Henry w/Daivari;
  • US TITLE MATCH: Chris Benoit vs. John Bradshaw Layfield with Mr. Kennedy involved;
  • INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE 3-WAY: Ric Flair vs. Chris Masters vs. Carlito Cool;
  • MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH: RVD vs. Shelton vs. Doane vs. Mysterio vs. Hardy vs. Spanky;
  • GRUDGE MATCH: Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon with Shane McMahon as the referee;
  • GRUDGE MATCH: Edge w/Lita vs. Mick Foley (as Cactus Jack);
  • LEGENDS MATCH: Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin;
  • WORLD TITLE MATCH: Kurt Angle vs. Randy Orton;
  • WWE TITLE MATCH: John Cena vs. Triple H;


    Total Nonstop Action: What a year TNA had last year! If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say TNA would fail, I’d have enough money to personally fund TNA in 2006. I don’t know why people give TNA such a hard time. If you put them up against any WWE show they clearly have better wrestlers and generally a better product. I love both products; after all I’m obsessed. TNA took a major step in October when they secured a Saturday night time slot on SpikeTV after WWE left the network. Suddenly thousands of wrestling fans were exposed to Total Nonstop Action for the first time. TNA reacted by turning up the heat on their top stars, most of whom were created in-house, like America’s Most Wanted, AJ Styles and Samoa Joe. Little by little, TNA is gaining a following. And now just over one month into 2006, we are now learning that SpikeTV is so high on the TNA product that they are formulating a plan to put TNA iMPACT on Thursday nights in prime time. Another major accomplishment for TNA.

    TNA mixed in some established talent in 2005 to bring life to the guys who have been there from the beginning. Rhino showed up and had a cup of tea with the NWA title after beating TNA’s Chosen One, Jeff Jarrett. Team 3D (formerly The Dudley Boyz) were brought in to feud with America’s Most Wanted; Christian Cage made the personal decision to leave WWE and join TNA because he felt TNA was the place to be. Other established guys who have helped get TNA’s name out there include BG James, Kip James, Raven, Sabu, Jeff Hardy, Sean Waltman, and Jerry Lynn. They finished the year by signing their biggest acquisition yet, the man who WWE has never been able to lure — Sting!

    Okay, so this column is about the future, not the past. Samoa Joe, AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels set the wrestling world on fire with their series of matches in late 2005, including a match of the year performance at Unbreakable. Now TNA is kicking off 2006 by announcing a rematch between those three at Against All Odds in February. They collectively represent the X-Division, an innovative new concept introduced by TNA when they initially launched back in 2002. The current X-Division Champion Samoa Joe has developed a cult following and has quickly become a locker room leader and a guaranteed future World Champion. After the Styles / Daniels / Joe stuff calms down I think it would be a nice touch if Samoa Joe forfeited the X-Division title to focus on the NWA World title. That’s how they do it in Japan.

    The influx of fresh talent in TNA is phenomenal. AJ Styles is the poster-boy for that philosophy. Austin Aries, Roderick Strong & Alex Shelley have formed a heel stable within the X-Division. Sonjay Dutt, Chris Sabin & Matt Bentley stand on the babyface side and are equally impressive. Mix-and-match any of those wrestlers you will have an entertaining fast-paced action-packed bout on your hands. Monty Brown, Abyss, Ron Killings are all on the brink of becoming full-time main-eventers. The mid-card is jam-packed with talented guys such as Bobby Roode, Eric Young, The Naturals, Homicide, Elix Skipper, and of course James Storm & Chris Harris. A lot of established guys have had their career rejuvenated since joining TNA; Rhino & Christian Cage were repeatedly overlooked in the WWE, despite taking it upon themselves to get over with the fans. They both went to TNA and became major players, and I think they, along with Team 3D, will be an integral part of TNA’s rising success in 2006.

    The Top 10 things I would like to see in TNA this year:
    1) Sabu takes a break from his Xtreme style and make a legitimate run for the NWA World title.
    2) Christian Cage vs. Abyss — this would help Abyss get to the next level.
    3) Ron Killings must be elevated to the spot he deserves to be in at the main event level.
    4) The Naturals need a manager and to be taken more seriously in the Tag Team Division.
    5) It goes without saying that TNA needs a time slot longer than 60 minutes and HOUSE SHOWS..
    6) Austin Aries needs to be in the same category as Samoa Joe, AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels.
    7) Creation of a Woman’s Division, before it’s too late! Gail Kim vs. Tracy Brooks.
    ~~Sign Christy Hemme at all costs. And also bring in Dawn Marie. Have them stick it to WWE on the mic.
    ~~Make Jackie Gayda wear long shirts that cover her gross stomach.. Tracy Brooks has to join Team Canada..
    ~~Utilize some of the females on the Indies like Malia Hosaka, Cheerleader Melissa, Sara Del Rey, & Lacey..
    8) Limit signing of WWE rejects, but get Dawn Marie. Sign Aaron Aguilera and LET HIM TALK.
    9) Homicide in the X-Division. I don’t know if they’ve ever tried, but they should bring in American Dragon..
    10) Set aside one month to do a PPV for a Super X Tournament. Bring in some International talent to take part.


    Ring of Honor: ROH continues to be my favorite wrestling promotion. It is simply the best. Although I admit it’s not for everyone. It’s exactly the kind of style that I appreciate. They seem to do everything right. I don’t think I know anybody who actually takes the time to follow ROH and doesn’t think it’s the best. ROH had another incredible year, despite losing C.M. Punk & James Gibson to the WWE, and having to share Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Chris Daniels, AJ Styles, Roderick Strong, Alex Shelley and now Homicide with TNA. American Dragon stepped up and filled the void, and he filled it very very well… I foresee a very long title reign for American Dragon, most likely surpassing Samoa Joe’s record. The truly great thing about the ROH Champion, and this goes for all former ROH Champions, is that everyone is a possible contender. There is a new challenger every show, if there is a great response to a particular match, they may book a rematch, and in very rare circumstances, a third match to complete the “trilogy”, as they call it. By spreading out title shots across the roster, it makes the longer title reigns more endurable, and once you get past the six or seven month mark, virtually any match could result in a title change, you just never know when and where it’s going to happen. ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky really has some incredible booking philosophies. I give him a lot of credit for stepping outside the lines and revolutionizing wrestling.

    Ring of Honor has been creeping up in exposure little by little for a long time. I don’t think it’s in anybody plans to make ROH as big as TNA or especially WWE. Their big money maker is their DVD distribution, and over the last two years, they have gradually expanded into other areas to run shows in. It’s like the plague, spreading across the United States – but it’s not bad for you! They are actually quite smart about it, as they move into a town, establish a following, and then move further. For every town ROH runs in, that’s another market that will be open to buying their DVDs. I think it’s completely possible that in five years, Ring of Honor can be running three or four shows a month, all over the country. Of course this means they will run less frequently in each town, but that just means the fans will want to buy the DVDs to follow the product. It’s really a new way of promoting wrestling. I just hope they can keep it up. I can’t think of any other independent promotion that even comes close to achieving the financial success that ROH does.

    I think this is going to be Colt Cabana’s year. I doubt he’ll get his hands on the ROH title, but he may challenge for it a couple times. They seem to be building Cabana up for something great and I hope he gets it because he deserves it. They have also been building up Roderick Strong, after he won the Survival of the Fittest (a 1-night test of Endurance) last year. He and American Dragon have already had an intense ROH title showdown, and are booked for a rematch soon. January ROH shows saw an invasion of several CZW stars, namely Chris Hero & Necro Butcher. I have no use for Necro Butcher or anybody who wrestles his style, but Chris Hero is one of my favorites. I am waiting patiently to see the American Dragon vs. Chris Hero match that took place on a recent ROH show. I think when they finally decide to take the belt off Dragon, it should go to Homicide – he has been there since the very first show. I really hate when he does his Hardcore crap, because he really is one of the best technical wrestlers ROH has. The fans love him to death, even though he’s supposed to be one of ROH’s top heels.

    The ROH Tag Team Division is always intense. Austin Aries & Roderick Strong are the current champions and should have a long run with the belts. The Embassy’s Jimmy Rave & Alex Shelley make a great tag team as well, and Salvatore Rinauro & Tony Mamaluke, who had a brief run as the Champs, are fun too. ROH should develop a few more tag title contenders anyway, such as Azrieal & Delirious, Adam Pearce & Chris Hero, Ace Steel & Colt Cabana.

    The Ring of Honor roster is so perfect it’s hard to think of people who I’d like to see in an ROH ring. I’d like to see Matt Hyson, formerly known as Spike Dudley, without his Dudley gimmick come in for a few matches. I’d like to see a Tribute show for Sabu and have him wrestle a match against Homicide. I’d like to see Jerry Lynn come in for a few matches. I was going to say I’d love to see Lance Storm come to ROH but it looks like that wish is already going to come true!

    My all-time biggest wish for ROH is this. I would like someone to convince Nora Greenwald (aka Molly Holly) to start making ROH appearances to wrestle various independent female wrestlers. I have read a lot of interviews with women wrestlers and almost all of them list Molly Holly as their dream match. There are so many incredible women out there on the independent circuit yet nobody wants to put the spotlight on them. Imagine Nora vs. Malia Hosaka, Nora vs. Cheerleader Melissa, Nora vs. April Hunter, Nora vs. Mickie Knuckles, Nora vs. Mercedes Martinez, Nora vs. Daizee Haze, Allison Danger, Cindy Rogers, and the list goes on and on. Somebody has to showcase Woman’s wrestling, and what better way to showcase them with dream matches with Nora Greenwald. If you’re reading this Gabe, or if you’re reading this Nora, give it some thought; I feel the ROH fans would eat this sort of thing up.

    The Independent Circuit:
    If you’re dedicated enough to the independent circuit, you know that there are literally hundreds of independent promotions around the World. Some have 8 wrestlers and draw 40 fans, and some have 25 wrestlers and draw 400 fans. That isn’t always a reflection on the talent inside the ring. Some of the top independent promotions in the United States include Ring of Honor, Full Impact Pro, NWA Cyberspace, International Wrestling Cartel, Chikara Wrestling, IWA: Mid South, Jersey All-Pro Wrestling, ECWA, All Pro Wrestling, Impact Zone Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, New York Wrestling Connection, Combat Zone Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Iron, Revolution Pro Wrestling and International Wrestling Syndicate to name A FEW. Unless you have an unlimited supply of frequent flyer miles and the ability to be in 4 places at once, the only way to keep track of all these promotions is by video-tape or DVD. You can purchase copies of independent shows at ROH Wrestling or High Spots or Smart Mark Video..

    A Few More Things:
    Earlier I promised to cover a few of the things in WWE that turn me off. As I mentioned before, I really hated that they took the WWE title off of Edge so quickly. It just seems dumb. But I will do as Bon Jovi says and just keep the faith. I don’t like the Dicks. I don’t like Gymini, I mean I like Mike & Todd Shane but “Gymini” is such a stupid name! I’m dreading the idea of Orlando Jordan’s proposed bi-sexual gimmick. I also hear that they’re developing a gimmick for C.M. Punk about him being deaf. How stupid is that! My biggest beef with WWE is its mishandling of the Cruiserweights. They have some of the best Cruiserweight wrestlers in the world and they aren’t doing anything with them. There are so many possible matches between London, Noble, Kendrick, Nunzio, Funaki, Crazy, Psicosis, Kash, and you can even throw Daivari and Rey Mysterio in there. It looks like they’re going to turn it around now and let the small guys shine for a change so everyone just keep your fingers crossed.

    There are also a couple guys on the roster who I think are absolutely worthless and need to be released. Scotty 2 Hotty hasn’t done anything worth while in several years. Big Vito is horrible and has to disappear. I think I mentioned this in last year’s Odyssey but I wish they’d bring in Tony Mamaluke to team with Nunzio. Sylvan is pointless in his current gimmick. Stevie Richards is awesome but they should release him so he can go somewhere he’ll be appreciated. Animal, god love him, has worn out his welcome, retire now. Thank god Mark Henry’s contract is running out soon. Torrie Wilson, you are so fired young lady. Rosey & Jamal, hit the road! Your three minutes are up.

    Then there are guys with talent who are being wasted and buried on the roster. Rob Conway, for example, who has an incredible amount of precision and skill, but has not been given the proper chance to show his stuff. The conman gimmick isn’t all that bad, they just did it wrong; There should have been a series of vignettes hyping his debut, roaming the streets conning people out of money and such. The Heart Throbs have the potential to be very entertaining, they proved that in OVW where they became insanely over as “The Heartbreakers” with their ambiguously gay duo shtick. They tried to do that on RAW but most people didn’t understand what was going on. I thought they were trying to imitate the two dudes from Night at the Roxbury. Eugene just came back at Royal Rumble, and sadly he was still the same gimmick that you just know he hates with a passion. There has got to be some way of cancelling the Eugene gimmick and letting Nick Dinsmore be a regular wrestler again.

    Here’s a list of whom you should look out for in 2006. Once Mr. Ken Kennedy gets healthy he will be put back on track for the monster push that Vince McMahon intended for him. You just know Vince was high on this guy when he lent his middle name (Kennedy) to the promising newcomer. When vignettes started playing hyping the debut of Fit Finlay I got so excited! I think Finlay is incredible, but judging by the crowd reactions, the idiot fans don’t agree. I was so happy that they booked Finlay vs. Benoit for Smackdown! this past week — that match was fantastic! Like I said before, as long as I get one or two Finlay vs. Regal matches I will be a happy man. I think the Spirit Squad is great. If they can build them up as individuals, and not just five cheerleader clones with no personality, so we can tell them apart, then I think they have a chance of getting over. I hope they don’t refer to them as “Squad Member #1″, “Squad Member #2″, etc.. This time last year I was going out of my way to rip on Chris Masters every chance I had. Let’s face it, he was absolutely horrible, but in the last 12 months this man has developed into an incredible superstar. Yes, the OWW Puppet Master is eating his words. I now think Chris Masters will become a major player in 2006. Carlito Cool will also have a successful year and he will reach new heights. The most under-rated guy in the WWE has got to be Trevor Murdoch. I heard they were doing some kind of homophobe gimmick with him on HEAT. Breaking he and Lance Cade up was very strange. Speaking of Cade & Murdoch, did you know that they were put together to make fun of TNA’s America’s Most Wanted?! I didn’t know that until recently. I totally didn’t get it at the time. Look out for OVW’s Aaron ‘the Idol’ Stevens and his two beautiful valets Beth Phoenix & Shelly Martinez to make a splash in WWE. I saw a video of them on a house show last month and let me tell you their entrance is incredible and I’d go as far as to say it’s better than MNM’s entrance.

    Well that is what my crystal ball is telling me about 2006. I guess I will check back in 11 months to see how far off I was with all of this stuff. Howard Finkel I know you’re reading this, I hereby give my full permission for the WWE creative team to steal all my ideas and claim them as their own. I hope everyone enjoyed reading what I had to say, as I rarely take the time to sit down and write articles any more. I actually have an epic Nostalgia Pop piece in the works for the last 8 or 9 months, haha, I’ll finish it some day :P — And please don’t cry to me or Kirsty or JT that I broke the 5th Commandment, ’cause I’m allowed, I’m the boss :) Send your feedback on what you think. But please be polite. It’s still real to me dammit!!

    by Brad Dykens

    Terri Sutton wrote:
    Hey Brad interesting atricle, even though I only understood a third of it as
    I’m Australian and do not get TNA or ROH. I do however have a couple of
    arguments for your mania predictions, and some little nick picking about
    some of the comments you have made.

    First of all, who would bill any Wrestlemania as slightly average compared
    to better than last year?

    And that Legends Match probably won’t happen. Let’s face it, everytime
    Austin or Hogan work for the WWE all these stories of their Primma Donna
    antics flood the net before the ink is even dry on their contracts. Now
    suppose if only 1% of rumors are true about both, we will have a clash of
    the walking egos ending with one or both refusing to do the match.

    I would love to see the grude match between Edge and Foley. The feud would
    probably start by Edge having a go at Foley’s title reign. But then again
    knowing the amazing abilities of the creative department to screw things up
    royally, Lita will probably dump Edge for Foley.

    If Orton does get Rey’s title shot I pray he does a Benoit and switch to
    Raw, imaging Cena vs. Orton for the WWE Championship. That match will be
    good, Orton is an amazing talent and I can not see him going against Cena
    and not letting his friend shine, even if he wins the title. Because lets
    face it Cena is only allowed to do what, 5 – 6 moves, I know he’s capable of
    more than that, and his matches have really suffered for it, I believe
    that’s where most of the heat is coming from.

    And that leaves the door wide open for Angle vs. Mysterio, anyone will have
    to admit that will be a fantastic match. I don’t think Angle has ever had
    to face anyone with the Luchadore style before and I would love to see Rey
    get taken to the max. But if that happenes, lets face it, Angle will win,
    because in the eyes of WWE management Rey to short, too small, to hold a
    title.

    And Triple H, is slowing down, he isn’t the man he was before his quad
    injury and I don’t think he can ever reach that level again. Let the young
    guns have their time in the spotlight, you’ve had it for 6 – 7 years. H has
    an opportunity most wrestlers don’t get, to spend time with his wife when
    she pregnant. Do you know how many guys regret not spending time with their
    wives when they were pregnant or barely seeing their newborn children and
    missing out on all those important firsts. You’ve done alot in your caeer
    and no matter what you will be remembered even if you never show your face
    on television again.

    Thomas Daley wrote:
    Excellent Job. I like what you’ve written about WWE and TNA. I’m not firmiliar with ROH. So It’s not fair of me to comment on it. But I am trying to learn more about it. Anyway, I’d like to throw in my two cents , in case Howard Finkel, or someone is reading this. I’d love to see a women’s ladder match! I think WrestleMania is the time to pull it off… Trish Stratus and Mickie James could really make history, in my opinion.

    Liam O’Callaghan wrote:
    i would first like to say that your article was absolutley sensible and as a
    wrestling fan ['mark'] it was the finest I’ve read this side of Wrestlecrap.
    But I would like to tell you something I would like to see that we
    re-invogorate both WWE’s develpmental system and the Japanese wrestling
    scene. Both are lagging now, to say the least, so I think if WWE bought up
    All Japan Pro Wrestling [not NJPW due to the Lesnar situation] and ran it as
    a sister fed/ develepmoental territory it would benefit both. Who better is
    there to learn from if you are a developmetal wreslter than the likes of
    Muto, Kojima, Kawada et al.? just being in the ring with these guys would be
    a huge huge beneifit to those guys. there they could learn a great ring
    style that mainstream American fans would probably never have seen [and thus
    would be in awe of], after having learned promos, psychology and so on from
    the master himself Paul Heyman in OVW. talent trades could be exercised,
    although it is likely the AJ guys would be treated as jobbers in WWE imagine
    the profit AJPW would make if people like Benoit, HHH or HBK made occasional
    tours of Japan. I think it is a mutaually beneficial agreement, what do you
    think? thanks again for a great article.

    Jake Cairns wrote:
    Great article, i like the Vince McMahon Vs HBK with Shane McMahon as the referee. I just cant see John Cena and Triple H have any chemistry i dont like the idea of 30 Man Battle Royal there would be no feud between the two wrestlers unless its like your idea such as Finlay Vs Regal. I would love to see Money In the Bank Ladder match II, but wouldnt have Ken Doane and Spanky in the match i agree with you that Ken Doane is the future of the WWE but i dont think he should be in the ladder match maybe you should put Chavo Guerrero & Booker T in the match.

    Michael Underwood from H-Town wrote:
    Well I don’t watch WWE anymore excluding Wrestlemania, but if they booked a Cruiserweight match like that letting them go all out I would cry with happiness

    TNA: has finally broken the 1.0 ratings mark with the appearance of Sting so I am thrilled and TNA is meeting with Spike to get a better day of the week which is awesome

    I wish Homicide could show the crowds who don’t know him very well the Cop Killa

    Ring of Honor: you are absolutely right saying ROH is the best wrestling company they are always fresh and innovative and I am sad that ROH and Low-ki have once again parted ways but like you said the roster always steps up

    I have nothing but praise for Gabe Sapolsky and his booking he is the new Paul Heyman, No i take that back he is the first Gabe Sapolsky, I would love more then anything if ROH got a small enough TV deal to be able to still share talent with TNA but not prevent the TNA roster from working ROH shows

    Charley McCallie wrote:
    All in all a pretty good line up. I agree with most of your matches, especially Regal vs. Finlay. This was great in WCW and could be great in WWE. I hope someone in charge in WWE reads your column.

    Ryan Sommerer wrote:
    Weird article, but fun predictions. Been a wrestling fan of WWE since 1987, was a wrestling fan of WCW from 93 to the very last Nitro. And a ECW and TNA fan. Those are all the wrestling promotions i have been able to watch while i have seen few ROH matches on internet.

    As for your predictions (and wantings) for WM22, there not that bad, some of them, of course we all know are goign to happen thanks to this great internet (killed what was great about being a wrestling fan).

    Nice idea with the Battle Royal and having it lead up to a match between Regal and Fit Finlay. Would be a nice wrestling style match-up but as for todays standards for the wrestlings fans of today (the most stupid and idiotic fans of all time), their match will be booed out of the arena or just receive the childish ridiculous silent treatment.

    alex barquet wrote:
    Great article. For the ladder match you have RVD win it and on the raw after mania you give him the mic and and let him turn himself heel. I would be hard turning him heel but it could be done. RVD would then be able to capitalize on his match against the opponent of his choosing. After Davari is done with Mark Henry he will join with van dam and play the Bill Alfonzo type character, (Maybe even more annoying) and win the raw title and hold it for a year. Everyone will expect a run as long as his ECW TV title run but he will lose it Samoa Joe. Only after Joe cuts a promo about long title runs, of course without actually mentioning ROH.

    P.S. As far as Homicide is concerned, to me it’s great when you get a wrestler who can wrestle in multiple styles as impressively as he does. I was at ROH’s Steel Cage Warfare, and Homicide’s rematch with Corino was incredible. I can assure you it was anything but crap.

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