It’s picks time for the first pay per view of the year for WWE. Since I was so good from the picks for Genesis (cough, cough), I suspect that I’m due to hopefully rebound. I have to think I will, one way or another. Ok, let’s go to work.

WWE Women’s Championship
Beth Phoenix vs. Melina
Skills wise, this is a toss up. Melina has a stark power problem to overcome here, but I suspect she is capable of doing so. I don’t doubt the fact that this will be entertaining to watch, for a divas match. Whether or not the title changes hands is kind of a toss up here. Santino’s presence may make Melina’s climb a little more difficult, but not impossible. I’m going to say that Phoenix retains, but this, in my opinion, for not any other reason but the fact that it appears Melina is in the cards to take the belt off Phoenix at some time, if a title change happens here, I will not be surprised.

WINNER: Beth Phoenix

ECW Championship
Jack Swagger vs. Matt Hardy
WWE is taking a major chance in giving this kid the ECW title. I haven’t seen much in the limited time I have watched him that would make me think that he’s got a shot to be a long term champion. I don’t think that Matt will regain the title here because I have some fear that there’s going to be some connection in this whole storyline involving Matt’s brother, Edge, and the eventual returning Christian Cage. Swagger’s involvement in friday night’s match with Edge makes me think that there may be some cahooting in this match, but regardless of that, the eventual result will still be the same, Swagger will leave Detroit with the silver from ECW.

WINNER: Jack Swagger

World Heavyweight Championship
John Cena vs. John Bradshaw Layfield (w/Shawn Michaels in his corner)
Few questions here. #1. How healthy is JBL? I remember the I Quit match between these two men a few years ago at Judgment Day, and if this match is 1/10th of intense as that one, JBL is going to be banged up pretty damn heavy when the day is done. The wild card here is Shawn Michaels. Do they end this ridiculously offensive storyline of seeing this hall of fame performer sucking up to JBL because of his ‘economic troubles’? I’m so sick of the reality elements being brought in to wrestling. If I wanted to see real life aspects in my television, I’ll watch the damn news. I want to see athletic competition, and I want to forget reality for a little while when I watch wrestling, and storylines like Shawn Michaels’ current one with JBL does not permit me to do that, and that is the sole reason why I hate it. I suspect the eventual result of JBL and HBK will be a match at Wrestlemania, but the question remains, will the turning point happen sunday? My feeling is, it’s not going to matter, one way or the other. JBL is not healthy enough to take the reigns of Monday Night Raw. Cena will retain.

WINNER: John Cena

For all you people who hate the fact that I’m a Cena mark, I’ll say it right now. I suspect Randy Orton will be the main event contender for the World title at Wrestlemania, and I suspect Cena will keep the belt till then, and I will go out on a limb right now, and say if those two conditions are met, it would not surprise me if Orton beats Cena to take the World title. I won’t pick it, but I’ll definitely mention it.

WWE Championship
Jeff Hardy vs. Edge
Eventually here, Christian is liable to get in to this mix, and help Hardy drop the belt to Edge, which will probably lead up to Edge vs. Triple H for the WWE title at Wrestlemania. Will that happen here? I don’t know. I suspect that Hardy will keep the belt till No Way Out though, for no other reason than to milk the response the crowd is giving the Smackdown product with a fan favorite as champion. He may drop it beforehand, but I doubt it seriously. I suspect that he’ll drop it at No Way Out, figure out a way to get the rematch, and drop it for the shot at Cage for all the revenge for what’s transpired since Survivor Series. One thing is for sure. I don’t suspect this match to be very technically sound. I just hope it ends up as one on one. Because if this match ends dirty, it really takes a lot out of the buildup that this match has undergone.

WINNER: Jeff Hardy

22nd annual Royal Rumble Match
I’ll go through the list of competitors guaranteed a spot in the Rumble and give some brief opinions on each. This list was gathered from WWE.com, with the exception of Khali and Chavo, who were announced on friday night that they were participating in this match.

Finlay – With Hornswoggle not in the Rumble like last year, Finlay can concentrate more on the task at hand. He’ll get a few people out, I would think, before meeting his demise.

Mark Henry – This match always favors the big men. Henry will make an impact here. He won’t win it, but if he’s deep in the draw, he’ll be around at the end.

Intercontinental Champion CM Punk – Anything is possible with the latest triple crown winner from the WWE. Punk’s win over Regal for the strap gives him a ton of momentum. I would suspect he won’t triumph here, as he’s probably a lock for the Money In the Bank ladder match, but if he’s won three titles in six months, anything is possible.

R – Truth – It’ll be interesting to see what Killings does here. His athleticism will be paramount for his showing, but I don’t see a bright future for this match.

WWE Tag Team Champion Carlito – Question here is, will the loss to Miz & Morrison cloud Carlito’s judgment in this match, and sway him to handle some grudges rather than focus on the goal? My answer, he’ll try to take out the World tag team champs, and meet with a fate that is not positive.

The Brian Kendrick – His survival here depends on Big Zeke playing a part. It’s not too often than outside influences play a major role in rumble matches, the last time I can remember that is Brock doing what he did to Goldberg five years ago. I don’t think Zeke is going to play the part that Kendrick needs to survive to the promised land.

Triple H – A definitive favorite for his experience in this match, and how close he is to the title picture. The question here is, will his apparent feud with Kozlov impair his judgment? I’m not going to say yes or no here because of Triple H’s intensity, but it’s definitely going to be intriguing. I won’t pick the Game to win the match, but I will say he will be in the end of the match.

Big Show – I’m watching Survivor Series and the Casket Match with the Dead Man as I write this. I suspect that Show will revisit some paths to Hell with the
Demon of Death Valley during this match. He’ll have a terrific showing, but winning, I’m not so sure.

Vladimir Kozlov – With the way Smackdown is promoting this guy with the vignettes, you would think he’s going to have a chance at this match. I don’t think so. Kozlov is not ready to main event Wrestlemania 25. Not by a long shot. He’ll do his thing, but not win. Lock it up.

United States Champion Shelton Benjamin – Athletically, he’s as gifted as they come, and can be a victor in this match. His placement inside WWE may be his undoing. As US Champion, it’s possible that there is anoter aspect for Benjamin on the road to Wrestlemania. He also may be on the target scope of the Phenom, from past events. He’s also a definite probability for the Money In the Bank match I would think. All this says that I don’t see Shelton winning. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if he makes a career showing.

The Undertaker – Anything is possible with the Demon of Death Valley. He could win, or he could be out quickly with the draw. One thing is for certain. Undertaker will make sure he has an impact in this match in some way, shape or form.

Randy Orton – This is going to be my pick. I think his action with Vince this past week will lead him to a win, and then have McMahon chase him to remove the main event slot from the second generation legend killer. It’s definitely worthwhile to go down this route, because if those pieces fit the puzzle, then the No Way Out new tradition of the Chamber match for a shot at the main event will be able to fit in to place rather nicely.

Chris Jericho – Question here is, what will Stephanie do to make Jericho’s life difficult? Answer. Everything possible. One thing is for certain here. He won’t win. He’s out of the title picture right now, and on the scope of the Billion Dollar Princess. Funny, as a few years ago, they were walking down the aisle at Wrestlemania for the undisputed title match against the Game. Now, they’re about ready to kill each other. How times change.

Kofi Kingston – I feel for this kid. I think his rise to the IC and World tag team titles has been too quick, and he’s been lost in the shuffle since dropping the tag belts. Now with this type of match, I don’t see Kingston making a major impact here before meeting his demise.

Rey Mysterio – Under normal circumstances, I’d say he’s done early simply from size. But, he has gone from #2 to the victor in one rumble, so anything is definitely possible. Rey Rey can slip through the cracks with the best of them, and be in the mix for the end if the chips fall properly. I’m not so sure they will, as he has been kind of silent the last few weeks himself, but the pedigree is there. Sorry for the pun, Triple H.

World Tag Team Champions John Morrison & The Miz – No question about it that together they are as good as anyone out there. However, this is not a tag team match, this is every man for themselves. Is Miz harboring a little grudge against Morrison for the Shaman pinning his shoulders to the mat a couple of weeks ago on ECW? I don’t know. One thing is for certain, the champs have some momentum from a terrific win on Smackdown over the WWE Tag Team Champions. There will be an impact from these men. How big remains to be seen.

Ted DiBiase – A member of the legacy of WWE, regardless if he is aligned with Orton or not, DiBiase’s skills will provide him with a lot of potential to make an impact in his rumble debut. Whether or not WWE is ready to take the plunge with the Million Dollar Man’s son in the main event of Wrestlemania remains to be seen. I personally don’t think so, yet. It will happen, but not yet. I don’t doubt that he’ll make an impact here. Someone is definitely going to feel the priceless touch on their way over the top rope.

Santino Marella – Pro Wrestling Illustrated calls this guy a comedic genius. I call him annoying, irritating, and impossible to watch. He was eliminated quickly last year by Shawn Michaels & The Undertaker. I suspect a similar finish this year.

Kane – He always seems to make a major impact here, but never enough to take the brass ring. Kane is the Jeff Hardy of the Royal Rumble. Always on the cusp of the victory, but never making it. I believe that will be the case again this match.

The Great Khali – Khali’s knees are a major factor in his ability, which is limited at best already. Chavo was able to show that his knees are about as strong as tree twigs. I don’t doubt that Khali will take someone out here, but he’s not going to last too long. Khali’s number is up, I believe, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some long term effects happen to the Punjabi Playboy sooner rather than later.

Chavo Guerrero – It really is a shame how badly WWE has treated Chavo over the past few weeks. I don’t suspect that treatment to improve during this match.

PROJECTED WINNER: Randy Orton

I suspect Punk will be the “break out performer” of this rumble, the one to make the most impact throughout the match, and therefore re-solidify himself in the main event picture on Raw, perhaps to be included in the chamber next month at No Way Out.

PROJECTED BREAK OUT PERFORMER:{best showing}: CM Punk

Some random notes from this past week
I was very happy to see that TNA acknowledged the January 4th victory of Team 3D in Japan to capture the IWGP tag team straps. Damn, though, it really surprised me to see how simple the IWGP tag belts are design wise, while the IWGP heavyweight title is so complex and intricate in its design. (Sorry, had to, it’s the belt lover in me coming through.) I hope that New Japan gets their wish, and we see IWGP tag team title defenses in TNA in the coming months. I’m interested to see how Spike comes up with the Global Impact 2 special come March, and I definitely will pick up the DVD when it comes out.

I am pleased to see that the true identity of Abyss is being re-revealed. Morgan vs. Abyss will be hardcore. It will be butt-ugly. It will be violent. It also, will be entertaining as hell. I am looking forward to seeing that. Abyss as he is SUPPOSED TO be, as depicted in the Doomsday DVD, is as good as any big man in the business, and things could get really bloody for the Connecticut native in the not too distant future.

Now, I am INFURIATED with the main event for Against All Odds. What the hell has Ray or Devon done as singles wrestlers to warrant them getting a world title shot? Yeah, I know, with this wrinkle involving Sting & Kurt Angle, this match has a sub plot that will be interesting and intriguing to experience, but come on. Let 3D go singles, and go after Steiner and Booker first before getting world title shots. Don’t put them in the main event in a four way match, and expect it to draw. I guarantee you it will not.

Are they going to go forward with breaking up the Machine Guns? It’s kind of cutting off your nose to spite your face. The Guns are IWGP Jr. Tag champions, and if TNA is acknowledging 3D’s win in Tokyo, why won’t they acknwoledge the Guns win? Because Shelley is the X Division Champion? It’s kind of contradictory, in my opinion. One way or another, even with the cockiness of these two kids, they’re still tremendous to watch, and I enjoy almost all the matches I have seen with them.

What is TNA going to do with Shane Sewell? Referee or wrestle? Because frankly, all the signs pointed to him being a wrestler when he went in to Genesis, and now he’s back being a ref, and being intimidated, allegedly, by the MEM. Let him do one or the other, but don’t try to cross the line between both. It’s not a good idea.

What has Petey Williams done to deserve getting two successive beatdowns like he has endured?? Is this really necessary? And when will there be some significant turn in this war? It appears that it’s been one sided for the bulk of the time that this ‘war’ has been in effect since Las Vegas. Especially now, with Joe, Rhino, Jarrett, and now AJ “out” with injuries, and Petey being beaten down, I don’t suspect that the change in momentum is going to happen any time soon, which is depressing to say the least.

Angle’s demeanor still puzzles me, makes me feel very uncomfortable, and is really difficult to watch.

AJ’s landing through the table after the Angle slam looked really tough. The table shattered… badly. It looked really bad.

Smackdown didn’t really stun me very much going in to the Rumble this sunday. Nothing really jumped off the page. I am kind of disgusted with the stacking the odds against Triple H like Vickie has done, and I am very disgusted with the Jeff Hardy storyline. However, in the midst of all this, you had a terrific match with the US Champion and The Undertaker, and an amazing tag team match between the champions, showing that, although the division is lackluster at best, both champion teams can bring it with the best of them at any time. What I want to know is one thing from Smackdown. Why didn’t MVP try to continue his work in bolstering his winning streak now? He went from breaking the 20 plus week old losing streak storyline to disappearing. It’s really puzzling.

I am really interested to see how this Randy Orton vs. Vince McMahon thing plays out. It could be as entertaining as when Vince went 1 on 1 with Stone Cold. It also could be down right awful. I’ll bet on it being entertaining, but it damn sure will be intriguing to experience.

I’m done. Thanks for reading. A little coming attraction. I am going to be doing a review of the forthcoming WWE theme music CD, “Voices”. It’s gonna drop as soon as I get the CD. Check it out, I’m going to try and provide the info that you’ll hopefully enjoy.

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